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New York Times, Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Author:
David Kwong
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
184/1/200612/27/20175
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2234421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59232
David Kwong

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Kwong. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Kwong notes:
My frequent collaborator Kevan Choset had a similar theme back in 2006, so I have to give a shoutout to him. But after BIRDMAN won the ... read more

My frequent collaborator Kevan Choset had a similar theme back in 2006, so I have to give a shoutout to him. But after BIRDMAN won the Oscar for Best Picture I couldn't resist. Sorry Kevan!

I wanted to stay away from his entries and put in new ones. Had to overlap with FINCH, but 5 new ones ain't bad. Was pleased that I got 7 themers in there, but at the expense of some fill.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes:
BIRDMAN hinting at 'men with last names that are birds.' I've seen this type of theme before, but I like the freshness of using the ... read more

BIRDMAN hinting at "men with last names that are birds." I've seen this type of theme before, but I like the freshness of using the 2014 movie as a revealer.

Not too shabby a superhero costume ...

Most of the guys I had seen before in this last name = bird capacity, although EARL WEAVER made me scratch my head. I sort of follow baseball, just like I sort of follow most everything to keep up (sort of), but this one was a mystery to me — not only his name, but that a WEAVER is a bird. Apparently it is!

David finds an amazing six examples, which is pretty cool. I did find it odd that BIRDMAN wasn't the last themer though — its placement as number six out of seven is curious. It is true that using a seven-letter theme revealer in row 13 is tough — that creates big corners, hard to fill — but it would have avoided the inelegance of hitting the revealer … and then getting one single more themer.

Seven themers is tough to work with. Gluey fill in almost inevitable where themers overlap. David does quite well in the center of the puzzle, with STUF being the only even slightly wonky answer (it can only be clued one way, really). But he does this by using a ton of black squares to section it off, which chokes down puzzle flow.

Given that the theme quickly became apparent, I appreciated David's efforts to include bonus fill to hold my interest. There's not much room to work in long fill, but SEESAWS, EARDRUMS, SAVANNAH, even BALCONY adds to the feeling of a satisfying solve.

This is a prime example of trade-offs in construction. Seven themers can be hugely impactful and impressive, but it's so difficult to avoid a slew of IN SO, SADO, ILEA, INANER, ROI, ANO/DIAS, etc. All minor, nothing glaring, but as a whole, it's quite a bit.

1
A
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W
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0510 ( 24,290 )
Across
1. Some rote learning : ABCS
5. Cutup : CLOWN
10. Not ___ many words : INSO
14. "You make me laugh" : HAHA
15. Sponsorship : AEGIS
16. Oracle : SEER
17. Bosnian, e.g. : SLAV
18. Longtime Orioles manager in the Baseball Hall of Fame : EARLWEAVER
20. El-overseeing org. : CTA
21. TV Guide chart, for short : SKED
22. "Buenos ___!" : DIAS
23. Co-author of the Federalist Papers : JOHNJAY
25. Fathers, to tots : DADAS
27. More foolish : INANER
28. Big name in skateboarding : TONYHAWK
31. "Dude!" : MYMAN
32. 9-3 automaker : SAAB
33. Covert org. : NSA
34. "The Broken Tower" poet : HARTCRANE
38. "Annie" characters : ENS
41. Alsace assents : OUIS
42. Havens : OASES
46. Boy genius of old teen fiction : TOMSWIFT
49. Team esteem : MORALE
50. Relative of a blintz : CREPE
51. Best Picture of 2014 ... or what 18-, 23-, 28-, 34-, 46- and 56-Across each is? : BIRDMAN
52. Parts of small intestines : ILEA
53. Famed synthesizer : MOOG
55. Genre first included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 : RAP
56. "Network" Oscar winner : PETERFINCH
58. ___ Minor : URSA
60. Like fine wines and cheeses : AGED
61. Put into office : ELECT
62. Appearance : MIEN
63. Mouthfuls of chewing gum : WADS
64. Poking around in other people's business : NOSEY
65. Lead-in to masochism : SADO
Down
1. Sounds of comprehension : AHS
2. One set in a "Romeo and Juliet" production : BALCONY
3. Georgia county of which 4-Down is the seat : CHATHAM
4. Oldest city in Georgia : SAVANNAH
5. "Veni, vidi, vici" speaker : CAESAR
6. Like a faulty pipe : LEAKY
7. Shrek, e.g. : OGRE
8. Word repeated before "West" in a film and 1960s TV series : WILD
9. Its capital is Sydney: Abbr. : NSW
10. Book after Song of Solomon : ISAIAH
11. Many a resident on Lake Tahoe : NEVADAN
12. Vacillates : SEESAWS
13. Boston Bruin great : ORR
19. Turning point? : EDDY
23. Brown or Rice : JIM
24. Actress Malone of "The Hunger Games" : JENA
26. Cousin of reggae : SKA
28. Implied but not stated : TACIT
29. Sculls : OARS
30. Magic and Wizards org. : NBA
32. Double ___ Oreos : STUF
35. Reine's husband : ROI
36. Former queen of Jordan : NOOR
37. Catchers of some waves : EARDRUMS
38. And everything else, for short : ETC
39. Former dictator of Panama : NORIEGA
40. Refined : SMELTED
43. Biblical city of Palestine : SAMARIA
44. Passed, as time : ELAPSED
45. Jack Reed or Harry Reid: Abbr. : SEN
47. Barrels along : SPEEDS
48. Have on : WEAR
49. Powerful : MIGHTY
51. Lawn game : BOCCE
53. Minderbinder of "Catch-22" : MILO
54. Cash register compartment : ONES
56. Manhandle : PAW
57. Swamp : FEN
59. Enero begins it : ANO

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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