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New York Times, Thursday, May 11, 2017

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
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74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

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
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 ... read more

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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S
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C
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0511 ( 24,656 )
Across
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
Down
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: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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