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New York Times, Monday, May 12, 2014

Author: Gary Cee
Editor: Will Shortz
Gary Cee
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
335/28/20094/24/20170
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1988421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56011

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {VXZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
Jeff Chen notes: 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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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0512 ( 23,561 )
Across Down
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
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:

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