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New York Times, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Author:
Jonathan Schmalzbach and Bill Albright
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
312/15/19945/16/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
131512000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52001
Jonathan Schmalzbach
TotalDebutCollabs
15/16/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000
Bill Albright

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 31 for Mr. Schmalzbach. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Albright. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
BILL: This theme came from the observation that much of French culture is widely known in the United States and thus the personages ... read more

BILL: This theme came from the observation that much of French culture is widely known in the United States and thus the personages that were riffed off of were familiar names. When you think of French history — the Bastille, Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc, De Gaulle — or French sites — Cannes, Versailles, Napoleon's tomb — or French artists or food, the infiltration into American consciousness goes way beyond the size of the French population in the U.S., relative to other countries.

This puzzle could not be done on four German cultural figures, or four Spanish cultural figures, or even four British ones (That's a challenge, constructors!). Especially with the coverage in our group — a painter, an author, a philosopher/mathematician, and a musician, all born more than 150 years ago.

Jeff Chen notes:
Pretty good homophones for Frenchmen, Jules = JEWELS, Claude = CLOD, Toulouse = TOO LOOSE, Blaise = BLAZE. I've seen TOO LOOSE before ... read more

Pretty good homophones for Frenchmen, Jules = JEWELS, Claude = CLOD, Toulouse = TOO LOOSE, Blaise = BLAZE. I've seen TOO LOOSE before – he's an artist in the comics strip "Mutts" – but the others were fun and novel.

TOO LOOSE was the lone homophone resulting in a word split, making him feel like the odd man out. Also, he was the only one whose full name didn't make it in. (Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, why must you be so long and crossword unfriendly?!)

Maybe to replace him for better consistency … CHARLES DE GALL? Or COCOA CHANEL? Feels like there could be others.

For name-driven themes, I prefer to keep the fill largely free of names, especially ones that aren't seen very often. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with a trivia exam. For those that might not have known PASCAL's first name, I wonder if EAMES, AUDRA, ARLEN might have exacerbated the problem.

The more common names (or ones you really should know) like MEL, REGIS, AMOS, EDIE, OTIS, NEHRU, are fine. But given the excess of tougher ones already ... that's a ton of names.

A constructor's life is never easy. Some strong gridwork, building around five long themers, ending up with just ACS and ESS as minor crossword glue. For as much as I despise inelegant crossword glue, though, I would have accepted a little more of it, to reduce the pile-up of esoteric names.

Always the trade-offs.

Great clue for NYC. MSG isn't monosodium glutamate, but Madison Square Garden. Beautiful misdirect!

FRENCH TWIST didn't feel like a perfectly apt hint for homophonization — to me, it more implies anagramming — but it works. And I did like most of the themers. Entertaining overall.

Jim Horne notes:

This is Mr. Schmalzbach's 31st NYT crossword, but his first in 20 years. Here's his previous one from 1998.

1
T
2
O
3
P
4
I
5
C
6
S
7
T
8
A
9
T
10
S
11
L
12
A
13
Y
14
A
N
O
D
E
15
U
R
I
A
H
16
A
B
U
17
J
E
W
E
L
18
S
V
E
R
N
E
19
N
Y
C
20
E
D
I
E
21
N
E
D
22
D
E
S
K
23
G
24
R
R
25
C
L
26
O
D
D
E
27
B
U
S
S
Y
28
R
U
T
29
A
L
T
30
M
E
L
31
A
M
O
32
S
33
T
I
34
P
35
A
U
36
D
37
R
38
A
39
T
O
O
L
40
O
O
S
E
41
L
42
A
U
T
R
E
C
43
A
R
L
E
N
44
G
A
T
45
H
I
G
H
46
A
C
47
S
48
I
T
49
S
50
V
I
E
51
B
52
L
53
A
Z
E
P
54
A
55
S
C
A
L
56
E
S
S
57
R
I
L
E
58
A
L
A
59
C
A
60
S
T
61
A
T
L
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F
R
E
N
63
C
H
T
W
I
64
S
65
T
66
N
E
O
67
A
S
P
E
R
68
E
A
M
E
S
69
D
R
Y
70
N
E
H
R
U
71
S
P
E
A
K
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0516 ( 25,026 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Issue : TOPIC
6
Fodder for sports analytics : STATS
11
Place, as a bet : LAY
14
What a current flows through : ANODE
15
Dickens's ___ Heep : URIAH
16
"Aladdin" monkey : ABU
17
Nickname for a glitzy author? : JEWELSVERNE
19
It contains M.S.G. : NYC
20
Emmy-winning Falco : EDIE
21
Stark of "Game of Thrones" : NED
22
A cluttered one is a sign of a cluttered mind, it's said : DESK
23
[Don't touch my bone!] : GRR
25
Nickname for a clumsy composer? : CLODDEBUSSY
28
Sunken track : RUT
29
Key below Z, on a Mac : ALT
30
Country singer Tillis : MEL
31
John who played an older Kunta Kinte on "Roots" : AMOS
33
"The bay in the fifth," for one : TIP
35
Actress McDonald : AUDRA
39
Nickname for a sloppy painter? : TOOLOOSELAUTREC
43
"Get Happy" composer : ARLEN
44
Gangster's gun : GAT
45
Setting for 46-Across on a very hot day : HIGH
46
See 45-Across : ACS
48
"___ official ..." : ITS
50
Compete : VIE
51
Nickname for a fiery philosopher? : BLAZEPASCAL
56
Shape of a swan's neck : ESS
57
Get under the skin of : RILE
58
___ grecque (served with olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings) : ALA
59
Names in film credits : CAST
61
City where trap music originated: Abbr. : ATL
62
Classic hairstyle ... or a hint to the puns in 17-, 25-, 39- and 51-Across : FRENCHTWIST
66
Prefix with colonialism : NEO
67
According to : ASPER
68
Chair designer Charles : EAMES
69
Parched : DRY
70
Prime minister called "Pandit" : NEHRU
71
Address, with "to" : SPEAK
Down
1
___ Mahal : TAJ
2
Start of every ZIP code in Pennsylvania : ONE
3
Jigsaw, e.g. : POWERTOOL
4
Named, for short : IDED
5
Toyota coupe sold from 1970 to 2006 : CELICA
6
Hyundai Santa Fe or Tucson, briefly : SUV
7
Focus of a Facebook sidebar : TREND
8
Put on TV : AIRED
9
Kind of bike or kayak : TANDEM
10
Miss identification? : SHE
11
Freeway divisions : LANES
12
Deep, deep pit : ABYSS
13
Eliciting an "ugh," maybe : YUCKY
18
Have as a customer : SELLTO
22
Port at the west end of Lake Superior : DULUTH
23
Persona non ___ : GRATA
24
It might begin "Did you hear ...?" : RUMOR
26
Old blues singer Johnny : OTIS
27
Fellow bringing roses, perhaps : BEAU
32
Sordid sort : SLEAZE
34
Hard throw, in baseball : PEG
36
Rush-hour : DRIVETIME
37
TV host Philbin : REGIS
38
Bodily complaints : ACHES
40
First word of "The Raven" : ONCE
41
Secular : LAIC
42
Hook up (to) : ATTACH
47
Few and far between : SPARSE
49
Schedules : SLATES
51
___ X : BRAND
52
Soda bottle unit : LITER
53
Bronze, but not silver or gold : ALLOY
54
Beth's preceder : ALEPH
55
More rational : SANER
60
Give and take : SWAP
62
Item above a kitchen stove : FAN
63
Grand finale? : CRU
64
"The vasty deep," in Shakespeare : SEA
65
"What a shame!" : TSK

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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