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New York Times, Monday, May 12, 2014

Author:
Gary Cee
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
385/28/20095/20/20190
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112108421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56021
Gary Cee

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {VXZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gary Cee notes:
SMARTPHONE was the seed on this one, and I figured there must be enough words or phrases where the first element was a synonym for ... read more

SMARTPHONE was the seed on this one, and I figured there must be enough words or phrases where the first element was a synonym for intelligence.

Happy to see this landed as a Monday puzzle. (My original clue for ALPHABET was "26 characters are in it.")

Jeff Chen notes:
Intelligent puzzle to start the week — what more could you ask? Gary brings us five synonyms for 'intelligent,' hidden within ... read more

Intelligent puzzle to start the week — what more could you ask? Gary brings us five synonyms for "intelligent," hidden within phrases. SMART phone, QUICK buck, SHARP turn, BRIGHT side, FAST one. I liked that there was no revealer necessary, and that the theme didn't make itself clear to me until the very end. Or maybe that shows how SHARP I am. Ahem.

With the "pinwheel" arrangement of themers, it's often hard to work in good long fill to spice up a grid. Indeed, there are only two eight-letter slots, which can often spell trouble for grid snazz, as eight letters and more is often where the best fill comes from. Gary does well to utilize those slots with the nice ALPHABET and BRETHREN. Not the juiciest of fill, but not dull either.

Where Gary really shines is his SMART use of shorter fill. Often constructors will let their seven and six letter slots go with unfulfilled potential, but not Gary. Check out RAW BAR, HOT FOOT, ALL NEW, BAR HOP. That adds a lot to the solving experience.

The latter did make me pause, as it dupes BAR, which is one reason I decided against giving this the POW. Typically a dupe like this is not allowed within a single puzzle, so it was a bit of a head-scratcher.

One other reason was that while most of the synonyms were hidden until the very end, the SMART in SMARTPHONE was not. It would have been perfect if it had been something to the effect of THAT SMARTS! (but of course, this example wouldn't fit because 1.) SMARTS is plural and 2.) it's at the end of the phrase). Unfortunately, I can't think of another way to get the "pain" definition of SMART worked in. Even taking SMART out of the puzzle, replacing SMARTPHONE with FAST ASLEEP or something, might have been preferable.

Finally, one aspect I always admire about Gary's work is the care he takes in his short fill. As a meticulous (read: anal) constructor (sorry again to all my co-constructors!), I spend too much time obsessing over every single entry, trying never to allow a "this is good enough" feel into even a teeny corner. And I love scanning through a puzzle, not being able to find more than a AGA or an OPER (neither of which are bad, anyway!). With short fill, the best you can hope for is that no one notices it. It's obvious to me how much care Gary puts into his short fill. Very smooth end product.

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C
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M
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B
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Q
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0512 ( 23,561 )
Across
1
Secret stash : CACHE
6
Doorframe's vertical part : JAMB
10
Water, in Latin : AQUA
14
Buenos ___ : AIRES
15
Dial button sharing the "0" : OPER
16
Big oafs : LUGS
17
Samsung Galaxy or BlackBerry : SMARTPHONE
19
1953 Leslie Caron musical : LILI
20
Number after Big or top : TEN
21
Two cents' worth : INPUT
22
CBS police drama that debuted in 2003 : NCIS
23
Be hot under the collar : SEETHE
26
Green ogre of film : SHREK
28
Carriage puller : HORSE
31
Where oysters and clams are served : RAWBAR
34
It's beneficial : ASSET
37
Beneath : UNDER
39
"___ your head!" : USE
40
"That's rich!" : HAH
41
Devious trick : FASTONE
43
When repeated, a Latin dance : CHA
44
Turkish official : AGA
45
Jimmy who works with Lois Lane : OLSEN
46
Worker with an apron and a white hat : BAKER
48
Go carousing with a drinker, say : BARHOP
50
Archaeologist's find : RELIC
52
Trails : PATHS
54
"Sic 'em!" : ATTACK
58
Makes a pick : OPTS
60
Book of the world : ATLAS
63
Guy's date : GAL
64
It's beneficial : PLUS
65
What an optimist always looks on : BRIGHTSIDE
68
___ of Sandwich : EARL
69
Comfort : EASE
70
Witty Oscar : WILDE
71
Unit of force : DYNE
72
"___ the night before Christmas ..." : TWAS
73
Does as told : OBEYS
Down
1
Selects for a role : CASTS
2
'Til Tuesday singer Mann : AIMEE
3
Machine at a construction site : CRANE
4
"Tell Laura I Love ___" (1960 hit) : HER
5
Suffix with winning : EST
6
Chief Justice Roberts : JOHN
7
Individually : APOP
8
Hostess's handouts : MENUS
9
Fellow members of a congregation : BRETHREN
10
Never-before-seen : ALLNEW
11
Easily made profit : QUICKBUCK
12
Hybrid citrus fruit : UGLI
13
In its existing state : ASIS
18
Dockside platform : PIER
24
Start of many band names : THE
25
Hurry, with "it" : HOTFOOT
27
Melted cheese on toast : RAREBIT
29
Figure (out) : SUSS
30
Go in : ENTER
32
Tennis legend Arthur : ASHE
33
Backside : REAR
34
Vengeful captain : AHAB
35
Long, involved story : SAGA
36
Abrupt left or right : SHARPTURN
38
All over : DONE
42
Kindergarten learning : ALPHABET
47
Statute : ACT
49
Give a hard time : HASSLE
51
Mascara target : LASH
53
Something to stick in a milk shake : STRAW
55
Able to move well : AGILE
56
G.M. luxury car, informally : CADDY
57
Some German/Swiss artworks in MoMA : KLEES
58
Newspaper think piece : OPED
59
___ on words : PLAY
61
Bart's intelligent sister : LISA
62
Years on end : AGES
66
Number of points scored by a safety : TWO
67
Bro or sis : SIB

Answer summary:

Found bugs or have suggestions?