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New York Times, Monday, April 8, 2019

Author:
Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
259/8/20104/8/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6345610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61441
Tracy Gray
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
977/5/20104/8/201959
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2578172398
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636212
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 79, Blocks: 45 Missing: {Q} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 25 for Ms. Gray. This is puzzle # 97 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
JEFF: Tracy declined to write up any notes, since telling the story of how this idea came to her mind might give away a Sunday idea ... read more

JEFF: Tracy declined to write up any notes, since telling the story of how this idea came to her mind might give away a Sunday idea we're working on. Hopefully, you'll see that one in the Sunday magazine someday!

If we can ever figure out how to make it work.

Jeff Chen notes:
When Tracy mentioned this idea to me, I thought there was no way that there'd be enough DEER synonyms. And if there were, there ... read more

When Tracy mentioned this idea to me, I thought there was no way that there'd be enough DEER synonyms.

And if there were, there surely couldn't be a way to cross them in pairs, through a shared letter.

And if we could somehow make that work, there'd be zero chance that all of the synonyms would be containable in solid phrases.

And if by holy hell all THAT managed to be doable – fat chance, I said – there was NO FRICKIN WAY that it could be laid out in a crossword grid.

As it turns out, we found more than enough synonyms, BUCK the only one we weren't able to use because it shared no common letters with any other synonym. (Sorry, BUCK ROGERS!)

They managed to cross into pairs.

What? All six had solid phrases like FAWN OVER?

BUT. But but BUT! There was no way we'd possibly lay out the crossing pairs – plus DEER XING – in a grid.

The great goddess Crucivera is cruel! Gnashing of teeth!

I hate giving up on an idea when it's that close to working, so I tried dozens of arrangements using normal symmetry, and then dozens more with mirror symmetry. Finally, I hit upon this layout, which seemed to be the only one possible one.

Forgive my blasphemy, oh great and glorious Crucivera! I will sacrifice many pencils to you.

Tracy did a wonderful job of filling, especially in the SW corner. We had pegged this as a Monday theme, accessible to most anyone, so we wanted to make the fill as newb-friendly as possible. In some iterations though, I had put awesome (to me) material in the big bottom corners, proud of all the juice. But looking back on it, much of it was too tough for newbs. Tracy helped us dial it back, favoring smoothness over going gonzo. I learned a lot from her Monday approach.

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G
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0408 ( 25,353 )

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Across
1
Hit with a deft comeback : ZING
5
Greek T : TAU
8
Stuns, as with a phaser : ZAPS
12
Land unit : ACRE
13
Subculture wearing a lot of black : GOTHS
15
Lighted sign by a stairwell : EXIT
16
Chip dip, for short : GUAC
17
Words on a pair of desk trays : INOUT
18
Erotic : SEXY
19
Comedian who co-starred in "Ride Along" and "The Upside" : KEVINHART
22
Gloomy : MOROSE
25
Establishment that might have a rainbow flag in the window : GAYBAR
29
"You may disagree," to texters : IMO
30
Wind instrument named after a Greek god : PANPIPE
34
Regret : RUE
35
Eye of ___ (part of a witch's brew) : NEWT
37
Big to-do : HOOHA
38
"W" column in the standings : WINS
39
Gelatin substitute made from seaweed : AGAR
40
Playful furry creature : OTTER
41
Loathe : HATE
42
Anonymous woman : JANEDOE
44
Initially : ATFIRST
46
Trackside transactions : BETS
47
"Deadpool" actor Reynolds : RYAN
48
Tom turkey or billy goat : MALE
50
Jack who played Sgt. Friday on "Dragnet" : WEBB
53
Heterogeneous : DIVERSE
56
Something a horse kicks with : HINDLEG
59
Bitter beer : ALE
60
Marked, as a box : XED
61
Big commotion : ADO
62
Rowboat propeller : OAR
63
Changing from time to time : VARYING
65
"Mona Lisa" painter : DAVINCI
67
Causing white knuckles, say : INTENSE
68
Leading : AHEADOF
69
Medicinal amounts : DOSAGES
70
Harass endlessly : TORMENT
Down
1
Zig's opposite : ZAG
2
Critical hosp. ward : ICU
3
Second Amendment-supporting grp. : NRA
4
Geico spokeslizard : GECKO
5
Author Morrison : TONI
6
Lots and lots : ATON
7
"Not gonna happen!" : UHUH
8
Having a kick, as food : ZESTY
9
Lumberjack's tool : AXE
10
Photos, informally : PIX
11
Hog's home : STY
13
Words from Woodsy Owl before "don't pollute!" : GIVEAHOOT
14
Gathering just for guys : STAGPARTY
20
Mind-reading ability, for short : ESP
21
"Insecure" actress Issa ___ : RAE
22
Rap star Nicki : MINAJ
23
Greek letter shaped like a horseshoe : OMEGA
24
___ Atkinson, portrayer of Mr. Bean : ROWAN
26
Prickly bush : BRIAR
27
Mothers of cousins : AUNTS
28
Stopwatch button : RESET
31
Do, re, mi, etc. : NOTES
32
Middle of a poker table : POT
33
Start of a rumor : IHEAR
36
Kind of musical clef : TREBLE
38
Complained : WHINED
43
Road sign that hints at what can be found three times in this puzzle's grid : DEERXING
45
Lavish praise upon : FAWNOVER
48
Pepperidge Farm cookie with a geographical name : MILANO
49
Wards off, as danger : AVERTS
51
Hair color that can be "dirty" or "platinum" : BLONDE
52
Lighthouse light : BEACON
53
Bowie or Beckham : DAVID
54
Smell, taste or touch : SENSE
55
Eight things on an octagon : EDGES
56
Assailed : HADAT
57
Pocatello's state : IDAHO
58
Obtain money illegally : GRIFT
64
Supporting vote : YEA
66
"___ the Walrus" (Beatles song) : IAM

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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