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New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter A. Collins
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1015/2/200611/13/201711
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51224341394
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1.564293

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQVZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 80 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes: Some puzzles go from conception to publication in a matter of several weeks. Some others languish in prison for years. This ... more
Peter A. Collins notes: Some puzzles go from conception to publication in a matter of several weeks. Some others languish in prison for years. This is one of the latter. I mailed it in over three years ago, and for three years it's been peeking through the bars of its cell wondering when it would be set free. My very own little Jean Valjean. Maybe the Innocence Project needs to look into this.

I'm glad that all the themed entries are two words long, so there aren't any unnecessary tag-alongs that don't contribute. Including extra words always makes the theme a little less elegant. For instance, if I'd chosen to use NEW MEXICO STATE, the NEW would just go along for the ride — like it's third-wheeling on a date or something. Never a good idea.

I do remember trying to brainstorm themed entries that break COST other than between the O and S (MAGIC OSTRICH?, Pecos Bill's little brother PECOS TIM?), but didn't have much luck, so I went for the consistency of having them all split the same way.

As for the fill, I like A MAN DOWN. It's one of those rare phrases where the indefinite article is necessary. MAN DOWN doesn't make sense, and no self-respecting hockey player would say "the Blackhawks are playing ONE MAN DOWN."

Jeff Chen notes: Nice example of a 'hidden word' type theme, COST broken across four different themers, with HIDDEN COST as a revealer. As a finance ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Nice example of a "hidden word" type theme, COST broken across four different themers, with HIDDEN COST as a revealer. As a finance guy, I like HIDDEN COSTs, specifically digging through documents to uncover where salesmen are messing around with you, spending hours poring over details so you don't get taken advantage of.

Apparently, I'm getting weirder (as if that were possible). The things I like to do...

I appreciate how Pete took care to be uber-consistent, breaking COST in the middle each time (CO/ST) and keeping each phrase to two words. Textbook consistency; keeps the puzzle elegant. This is especially important when a theme is of a standard type, and thus isn't allowed as much wiggle-room by solvers.

I'm going to have to name the antagonist in my next book PECOS TIM though. Man, I cracked up reading Pete's comment about that.

I also enjoyed the snappiness of the themers. TACO STANDS are some of my favorite places to eat, and although I didn't know BRONCO STADIUM specifically, Boise State is one of the few college football teams I know a little about because of their propensity to deploy trick plays. Hard not to love a team that dares to run the Statue of Liberty play at a critical moment.

I did appreciate the bits of long fill, DUCK BILL being my favorite (I'm a big fan of the platypus and its cousin, the Psyduck), but the overall fill did have a slightly older-school feel to it. It made a lot more sense after I read Pete's comments about how long this puzzle took to get published. I doubt Pete would let by so much CES, SRA, CRO, IGO, APO, ESO kind of stuff these days.

Off to start writing the Ballad of Pecos Tim!

1
W
2
A
3
D
4
E
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D
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B
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M
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O
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C
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U
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S
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D
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A
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A
M
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15
L
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S
H
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T
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T
A
C
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H
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K
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P
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B
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M
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Y
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N
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L
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H
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O
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N
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D
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O
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N
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A
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K
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S
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P
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D
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A
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G
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H
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B
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A
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0520 ( 23,569 )
Across Down
1. Walked into the shallow end of a pool : WADED
6. Univ. V.I.P. : BMOC
10. Meat stamp : USDA
14. Make giggle : AMUSE
15. Cassino cash, once : LIRE
16. Close : SHUT
17. Informal eateries with Mexican fare : TACOSTANDS
19. Meat-and-potatoes dish : HASH
20. "Naughty, naughty!" : TSK
21. Corn cake : PONE
22. 50 minutes past the hour : TENTO
23. Blue-turfed home for Boise State football : BRONCOSTADIUM
27. Dunces : IDIOTS
29. The Rolling Stones' "Get ___ Ya-Ya's Out!" : YER
30. King Kong, for one : APE
31. The Big Easy : NOLA
32. "MMMBop" band : HANSON
35. Beef cuts named for a New York restaurateur : DELMONICOSTEAKS
41. Napped noisily : SNORED
42. The "A" of N.A. or S.A.: Abbr. : AMER
43. Inits. in a military address : APO
46. Percent add-on? : ILE
47. Ontario's second-largest city : OTTAWA
49. Service site with a star : TEXACOSTATION
53. Peter of "Everybody Loves Raymond" : BOYLE
54. Unwrinkler : IRON
55. Alternative to a spinner in a board game : DIE
58. Ship in the search for the Golden Fleece : ARGO
59. Unexpected expense ... or a feature of 17-, 23-, 35- and 49-Across? : HIDDENCOST
62. Rackful in a closet : TIES
63. "A Death in the Family" novelist : AGEE
64. 1933 Physics Nobelist Schrödinger : ERWIN
65. Avec's opposite : SANS
66. Cap'n's underling : BOSN
67. "Parks and Recreation" woman : DONNA
1. Unit often preceded by kilo- : WATT
2. Amo, ___, amat ... : AMAS
3. Platypus feature : DUCKBILL
4. That, to Tomás : ESO
5. Ruler who rules by force : DESPOT
6. White, as vin : BLANC
7. Sal of "Giant" : MINEO
8. Former fort on Monterey Bay : ORD
9. These: Fr. : CES
10. Saw to a seat, informally : USHED
11. Country music's Twain : SHANIA
12. Minor melee : DUSTUP
13. Opposite of away : ATHOME
18. Cargo measures : TONS
22. Medium deck? : TAROT
24. Wanders : ROAMS
25. Church council : SYNOD
26. Hardy heroine : TESS
27. Oh./Ill. separator : IND
28. Buck's mate : DOE
32. Puts on the payroll : HIRES
33. Part of a soft hand in blackjack : ACE
34. "Nifty!" : NEATO
36. Cooling, as champagne : ONICE
37. ___ contendere : NOLO
38. Short playerwise, as in hockey : AMANDOWN
39. London's ___ Gardens : KEW
40. Sp. lady : SRA
43. Times up : ATBATS
44. Illinois home of Caterpillar : PEORIA
45. Network co-founded by Oprah Winfrey : OXYGEN
47. Plains tribe : OTOE
48. Plated, in a way : TINNED
50. Thrown for ___ : ALOSS
51. They rise and fall periodically : TIDES
52. "As You Like It" forest : ARDEN
56. "The devil ___ the details" : ISIN
57. Sicilian rumbler : ETNA
59. Montreal Canadien, familiarly : HAB
60. "___ Blind" (Hootie & the Blowfish hit) : IGO
61. ___-Magnon man : CRO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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