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New York Times, Monday, May 20, 2019

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

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 38 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
HIT IT! An appropriate way to kick off a week, and an apt revealer for HIT the CEILING, HIT the SAUCE, HIT the SACK, etc. Reminds me ... read more

HIT IT! An appropriate way to kick off a week, and an apt revealer for HIT the CEILING, HIT the SAUCE, HIT the SACK, etc. Reminds me of a funny clue I once saw: what might [Hit it on the head] be? Answer: NAIL.

Consistency was perfect today, every themer following the HIT the ___ pattern. Gary could have delved into (HIT) PARADE, (HIT) MAN, (HIT) a HOMER, but he chose to stick with only HIT phrases using THE.

I also appreciated that he put each of the six words at the ends of his phrases. Many solvers won't notice, but that attention to detail helps increase a puzzle's elegance.

Tightness was only so-so. At first, I thought, how many HIT the ___ phrases could there be? Didn't take long to come up with BOOKS, BOTTLE, BRAKES, DIRT, HAY, MOON, ROAD, SKIDS, SPOT. I'm sure there are others.

Don't get me wrong. I did like that Gary picked six that are colorful. It doesn't have that feeling of elegance or inspired amazement, though, the way discovering a perfect, unalterable set would have.

Some blips in the gridwork, not a surprise given the six themers plus HIT IT revealer. OGEE should never be in an early-week puzzle. That west section, with ROTC ROLF OTOH OTOE is bound to trip up newer solvers. I have some friends who are just starting to get into crosswords, and I wouldn't give them this one.

Intersecting themers, like HACKYSACK and CLAM SAUCE, can often create valuable spacing for gridwork. Here though, an all-across layout would have produced a better result. Start with CLAM SAUCE or LOWER DECK all the way to the left in row 3. HACKYSACK or CHECKMARK to the right in row 4. DEBT CEILING or WESTERN WALL to the left in row 6. The overlap in rows 3 and 4 make it like you're working with just 4 themers, not 6.

Not only would that have produced a smoother result, but it would have made the all-across themers easier to pick out for solvers.

A solid and consistent theme, with a couple of nice bonuses in SEGWAYS, I KNEW IT, TARTARE. Not smooth enough of an early-week product, though.

1
A
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0520 ( 25,395 )
Across
1
Wide open, as the mouth : AGAPE
6
Treaties : PACTS
11
"What ___ I say?" : CAN
14
"Whoa, ease up!" : RELAX
15
Stan's co-star in over 100 early film comedies : OLLIE
16
Made-up story : LIE
17
*Government's credit limit : DEBTCEILING
19
Hubbub : ADO
20
Like many infield grounders : ONEHOP
21
Lester Holt and Anderson Cooper : NEWSMEN
23
Issa ___ of HBO's "Insecure" : RAE
24
Smith or Scialfa of rock : PATTI
27
Vienna's home: Abbr. : AUS
28
*Beanbag juggled with the feet : HACKYSACK
32
Massage intensely : ROLF
36
Put on a black coat? : TAR
37
Guarantee : ASSURE
38
Great Plains tribe : OTOE
39
"Start the music!" ... or what one could do to the finish of the answer to each starred clue : HITIT
41
Vaping device, informally : ECIG
42
Full-time resident of a college community : TOWNIE
44
"___ you through?" : ARE
45
Belles at balls, informally : DEBS
46
* ✓ : CHECKMARK
48
"The ___ & Stimpy Show" : REN
49
Labor organizer Chávez : CESAR
52
Resort with mineral waters : SPA
55
Like a gift from above : GODSENT
58
Reproductive part of a flower : PISTIL
60
18+, e.g., in order to be able to vote : AGE
61
*Much-visited site in Jerusalem : WESTERNWALL
64
Sleuth, in slang : TEC
65
Bury, as ashes : INURN
66
Girl Scout cookie with a geographical name : SAMOA
67
Cry of fright : EEK
68
Barely warm : TEPID
69
"E" on a gas gauge : EMPTY
Down
1
Intense devotion : ARDOR
2
Actress Davis of "The Accidental Tourist" : GEENA
3
Edward who wrote "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" : ALBEE
4
Trail : PATH
5
Onetime police officer : EXCOP
6
Dish made from taro root : POI
7
None's opposite : ALL
8
Medical facility : CLINIC
9
Fork prong : TINE
10
Motorized two-wheelers : SEGWAYS
11
*Seafood topping that may be red or white : CLAMSAUCE
12
Assistant : AIDE
13
Illuminating gas : NEON
18
Org. concerned with ecosystems : EPA
22
Figured (out) : SUSSED
25
Language in Bangkok : THAI
26
Served raw, as steak : TARTARE
29
McKinnon of "S.N.L." : KATE
30
Place for a baby to sleep : CRIB
31
Beer barrels : KEGS
32
Military program for coll. students : ROTC
33
"Alternatively ...," in texts : OTOH
34
*Part of a ship just above the hold : LOWERDECK
35
Practices épée, e.g. : FENCES
36
Not us : THEM
40
Ticks off : IRKS
43
"No surprise to me!" : IKNEWIT
47
Develops a glitch : ACTSUP
50
First full month of Major League Baseball, often: Abbr. : APR
51
Get the suds out : RINSE
52
Post office purchase : STAMP
53
Person in a cockpit : PILOT
54
Ease, as fears : ALLAY
55
Concert proceeds : GATE
56
Double-curved molding : OGEE
57
State bird of Hawaii : NENE
59
Did a backstroke, say : SWAM
62
Prefix with state : TRI
63
Conclusion : END

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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