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New York Times, Thursday, May 11, 2017

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
Timothy Polin
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4512/11/20113/1/20182
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64852002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.625130

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQZ} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeff Chen notes: I admit, I had to think about the theme for many minutes before I understood it. Funny a-ha moment when I finally realized that HOMEY ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I admit, I had to think about the theme for many minutes before I understood it. Funny a-ha moment when I finally realized that HOMEY was phonetically "hoe me," as in a VEGETABLE GARDEN wanting to be hoed. Same with GLOOMY as "glue me," and ROOMY as "RUE ME." Amusing to think of a LOST OPPORTUNITY begging to be rued.

Typically it's best to stick with regular symmetry, as it's what most solvers and editors are used to, and only resort to mirror symmetry in special circumstances. You might think that with 15-, 13-, and 15-letter themers, regular symmetry would have been fine. But check out the crossing of GLOOMY and MODEL AIRPLANE, in particular how far down GLOOMY extends — makes it impossible to place the 13-letter answer in the center of the grid.

Mirror symmetry often allows for some cool features. (I personally love it and would use it even more than I do now if it didn't cause some editorial hesitations.) Check out those lovely long downs, MEGAPHONE / OPEN CASES and NEED A RIDE / ESTATE TAX. Sure, those could also be incorporated into a grid using normal symmetry, but there's something so pleasing to have all four of them featured across the bottom.

As with most all of Tim's puzzles, extremely well executed. He gives us even more bonuses in SCHMEAR and TOPKNOT, not to mention PAPRIKA, ACOLYTE, SORCERY. Having worked with Tim on a few puzzles now, I have a deeper appreciation of how hard he works to include these types of bonuses, while simultaneously avoiding dabs of crossword glue. Maybe TYNE is a little esoteric, PCT is minor, but other than that, the short fill does its job by largely going unnoticed.

Some fun clues, too. Took me a while to figure out that the "Sewer of note" meant "one who sews," as in Betsy ROSS. "Dead reckoning," with "reckoning" meaning "doing an accounting of," was great wordplay for ESTATE TAX.

I loved the concept. Would have gotten my POW! if there had been a fourth example.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0511 ( 24,656 )
Across Down
1. Rook or gull : SCAM
5. Ancient Roman thermae : BATHS
10. Grandiosity : POMP
14. Good sign? : HALO
15. Helpful pointer : ARROW
16. Spin out on the ice? : AXEL
17. "Deal!" : IMIN
18. Biblical wife of Elimelech : NAOMI
19. Bread at a Greek restaurant : PITA
20. See 8-Down : VEGETABLEGARDEN
23. Raskolnikov's lover in "Crime and Punishment" : SONYA
24. Not straight : SLY
25. 1980s-'90s Oldsmobile : CIERA
26. Test done in pre-op : EKG
28. Hunky-dory : AOK
29. See 27-Down : MODELAIRPLANE
36. Oomph : PEP
37. Subject studied at Hogwarts : SORCERY
38. Eerie gift in "The Dead Zone," for short : ESP
40. Long time : AGE
41. Hair bun : TOPKNOT
42. Seventh of 24 : ETA
43. Return fare? : RANSOM
45. Metaphor for a fresh start : NEWDAY
47. Angel dust, briefly : PCP
48. Football stat : YARDS
52. Something passed at a meeting, maybe : HAT
53. Meeting bigwig : CHAIR
55. Mauna ___ : LOA
56. Soft cap : BERET
58. See 50-Down : LOSTOPPORTUNITY
61. How you might be referred to : ONE
62. Bagel topper : SCHMEAR
63. Level of judo proficiency : DAN
64. "Suh-weet!" : YES
65. Doesn't retire : STAYSUP
66. PC file suffix : EXE
1. Prison weapons : SHIVS
2. It might be just a line or two : CAMEO
3. Set straight : ALIGN
4. Affluent : MONEYED
5. Eric who played Hector in "Troy" : BANA
6. Ali Baba and others : ARABS
7. Online provocateur : TROLL
8. Comfortably inviting ... or, phonetically, a clue for 20-Across? : HOMEY
9. Big gulp : SWIG
10. Goulash flavorer : PAPRIKA
11. Nitrous ___ : OXIDE
12. What doggerel usually lacks : METER
13. First option : PLANA
21. Grows fond of : TAKESTO
22. Devotee : ACOLYTE
27. Somber ... or, phonetically, a clue for 29-Across? : GLOOMY
28. Splash guards, of a sort : APRONS
29. Voice amplifier : MEGAPHONE
30. Unsolved mysteries : OPENCASES
31. Duchamp contemporary : ARP
32. "That tastes awful!" : ICK
33. Kylo ___ of "Star Wars" : REN
34. Pickup line? : NEEDARIDE
35. Dead reckoning? : ESTATETAX
36. Something to shoot for : PAR
39. Emolument : PAY
44. Card game requiring quick reflexes : SPIT
46. Invitation particular : WHEN
49. Leading man? : ALPHA
50. Commodious ... or, phonetically, a clue for 58-Across? : ROOMY
51. Screws up the courage : DARES
53. Be too sweet : CLOY
54. Sewer of note : ROSS
56. "Excuse you!" elicitor : BURP
57. Newcastle upon ___, England : TYNE
59. Polling fig. : PCT
60. 19th of 24 : TAU

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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