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New York Times, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
471/3/20134/22/20194
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313139450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59042
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
My first attempt at this theme hid scrambled state names in phrases, but most of the states were only four letters long. Will and Joel ... read more

My first attempt at this theme hid scrambled state names in phrases, but most of the states were only four letters long. Will and Joel wrote back that "hiding California in AFRICAN LION is beautiful (!), but....they were not impressed with the shorter ones.

They suggested I try to find some longish states (seven or more letters) where adding one letter and scrambling led to something interesting. That turned out to take a LOT of digging because most state names (like Illinois and Hawaii for example) don't have easy letters to anagram with — none of these five phrases had ever appeared before in the NYT, and three of them were not even in any of my word lists. They all Google well though, so I decided to give it a shot.

When I got the preview version of the puzzle last week, I needed all six crosses to get SENT UP (my memory is not great) because I had never heard this phrase used as a synonym of "parodied." There is a LOT of support for this clue in dictionaries, but I surveyed five word-nerd friends of mine, and none of them had heard of this usage. I think if I were an editor, I would have to lean toward dictionary definitions over my personal experience, but I'm sure sometimes it's a close call.

This is one of the puzzles I'm most proud of at this point because I did not think it was going to be possible and it turned out way better than I had even hoped for.

Jeff Chen notes:
Sometimes I wish the NYT weekday crosswords ran titles. I'm not sure what today's would be — is there a catchy phrase that means ... read more

Sometimes I wish the NYT weekday crosswords ran titles. I'm not sure what today's would be — is there a catchy phrase that means TAKE A STATE PLUS A LETTER AND ANAGRAM INTO REAL PHRASES? Perhaps … "Altered States"? "Plus ones"? Neither is quite right, but both start to get at it. Sort of.

I so badly wanted the additional letters, R E O T N, to … spell something? To be representative of that state? Anything but "add a letter because that's what was needed for this anagram." I spent some time searching for some higher meta layer, but this NOTER notes none.

That's likely asking for too much given the constraints, but a guy can wish.

Ignoring that for now, I like the themers overall. WARNING SHOT, IM SERIOUS, and AFRICAN LION are great phrases. NORMAL DAY and BANK RATES are a bit drier, but they still work.

Pretty good gridwork, too. Bruce's chops have improved greatly over the past year, largely avoiding the usual crossword glue constructors resort to, while integrating a lot of nice bonuses. RAW BARS. The full ARAL SEA. POOP OUT. KID LIT. LADY DI. Such great use of those mid-length slots.

He did employ a curious word up top, CAPSID. I thought I was pretty good with biology (my previous company was in pharmaceutical development), but this was a mystery to me. I like the word, after having looked it up, and I think it's fair game. But I can see how some solvers might need every crossing, and even then still think they must have something wrong. That would be not terribly satisfying.

I would have liked the upper left and lower right corners to be less segregated from the rest of the puzzle, too. Perhaps moving the black square between NAN and BAN one to the right? The segmentation does make the construction process much, much easier, but it can also make for a choked-off feeling for solvers.

There's an interesting seed of an idea here — altering states somehow. I so badly wish there had been some extra layer to bring together those extra letters somehow, though.

1
R
2
A
3
F
4
T
5
C
6
A
7
P
8
S
9
I
10
D
11
P
12
E
13
P
14
A
R
I
A
15
O
R
A
C
L
E
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O
N
O
17
W
A
R
N
18
I
N
G
S
H
O
T
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O
R
S
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B
L
E
N
D
S
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U
S
E
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D
P
O
T
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A
S
H
E
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I
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M
S
E
R
I
O
U
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R
E
A
D
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A
M
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T
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S
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L
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I
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N
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N
O
R
M
A
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L
D
A
Y
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D
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E
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V
I
L
S
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C
O
I
N
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B
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A
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S
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A
L
E
C
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S
L
O
G
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K
A
L
E
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B
A
N
K
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R
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A
T
E
S
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B
I
B
L
E
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E
P
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S
O
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E
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L
A
D
Y
D
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A
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A
F
R
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I
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C
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R
E
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S
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S
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N
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T
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T
H
E
O
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0516 ( 24,661 )

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Across
1
Whole slew : RAFT
5
Outer protein shell of a virus : CAPSID
11
Verve : PEP
14
"Celeste Aida," e.g. : ARIA
15
Futures analyst? : ORACLE
16
Famous Tokyo-born singer : ONO
17
WASHINGTON + R = Intimidation tactic : WARNINGSHOT
19
Option words : ORS
20
Fusions : BLENDS
21
Smoked marijuana : USEDPOT
23
Word repeated in "Ring Around the Rosy" before "We all fall down" : ASHES
24
MISSOURI + E = "No fooling!" : IMSERIOUS
26
Interpret : READ
27
Martin who wrote "London Fields" : AMIS
28
Short dance wear : TUTU
29
Rode the bench : SAT
30
Whopper inventor : LIAR
31
Marching well : INSTEP
33
MARYLAND + O = Period in which nothing special happens : NORMALDAY
35
Imps are little ones : DEVILS
38
Sacagawea dollar, e.g. : COIN
39
___-relief : BAS
42
Evelyn Waugh's writer brother : ALEC
43
Laborious task : SLOG
44
Salad green : KALE
45
NEBRASKA + T = Mortgage specifications : BANKRATES
48
Aid for administering an oath of office : BIBLE
49
Segment of a binge-watch : EPISODE
50
Prince William's mom : LADYDI
51
Mule's father : ASS
52
CALIFORNIA + N = Majestic beast : AFRICANLION
55
1920s car : REO
56
Parodied : SENTUP
57
"___ it ironic?" : ISNT
58
Phishing target: Abbr. : SSN
59
Gave an exam : TESTED
60
"Divergent" actor James : THEO
Down
1
Places where oysters are served : RAWBARS
2
Victim of river diversion in Asia : ARALSEA
3
Professional headgear that's stereotypically red : FIREHAT
4
Got some sun : TANNED
5
Fleeces : CONS
6
S. Amer. home of the tango : ARG
7
Ballet step : PAS
8
Straight downhill run on skis : SCHUSS
9
"You win," alternatively : ILOSE
10
Put off : DETER
11
Get dog-tired : POOPOUT
12
Neither here nor there? : ENROUTE
13
Prepares to shoot near the basket, say : POSTSUP
18
Phishing targets, briefly : IDS
22
Scatterbrained : DITSY
24
Muslim leader : IMAM
25
One-in-a-million event : MIRACLE
27
Affected manner : AIRS
30
[You crack me up] : LOL
31
"Understood, dude" : IDIG
32
A Bobbsey twin : NAN
33
Shaving mishaps : NICKS
34
English johns : LOOS
35
Chicago squad in old "S.N.L." skits : DABEARS
36
Passes by : ELAPSES
37
Hunter's freezerful, maybe : VENISON
39
Infantile : BABYISH
40
"Finished!" : ALLDONE
41
View, as the future : SEEINTO
43
Rears of ships : STERNS
44
"Curious George" books, e.g. : KIDLIT
46
Honor with insults : ROAST
47
Charge for a plug? : ADFEE
48
Complete block : BAN
50
SoCal force : LAPD
53
Big inits. in the aerospace industry : ITT
54
Nod from offstage, maybe : CUE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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