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New York Times, Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Author:
Evan Kalish
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
57/2/20187/12/20190
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0210020
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59020
Evan Kalish

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Kalish. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evan Kalish notes:
Glad to be back! The inspiration for this puzzle was a concept I very much enjoyed by Andrew Reynolds. I remember wondering how in the ... read more

Glad to be back! The inspiration for this puzzle was a concept I very much enjoyed by Andrew Reynolds. I remember wondering how in the world he extracted those theme answers! A brute force approach would require testing 5,040 permutation strings of seven letters against a word list, so I figured a bit of skillful coding was involved. "Change the world" struck me as an interesting concept with lots of options to consider, and I hope this interpretation of the phrase does it reasonable justice.

I took a unique approach for finding potential theme answers, involving Excel, that didn't involve real coding expertise. I tested out every planet, sans Mars, and not all were suited for the job. (Jupiter yielded nothing, Uranus only "PURSUANT," and Neptune merely "ANTEPENULTIMATE"!) The most fun entry I didn't use: "MERCY RULE" for Mercury! Hopefully, this set of theme answers is satisfying.

Looking back, if I were to write the puzzle again, I might try to make the grid a bit less segmented (increase the "flow"), clean up a couple of bits of fill (i.e., TEHEE and LAIN), and add a couple of jazzier long answers. My favorite corner here is the SW. Hope you enjoyed!

Jeff Chen notes:
Anagrams are often too difficult to figure out, which risks solvers not bothering to go back and untangling them. I like that Evan ... read more

Anagrams are often too difficult to figure out, which risks solvers not bothering to go back and untangling them. I like that Evan chose sequences on the easier side to decipher. VESUN starts with a telltale VE-, letting us know that it had to be VE-SUN. You know, the allied Victory in Europe on the SUN.

I admit, the presence of SUN confused me a bit.

Also confusing: the different planets are worlds? I get EARTH, but there's life on MYRECRU?

Er … MR. CEURY?

MERCURY, bah!

I'd have preferred using different worlds that have been inhabited. Like VULCAN. ENDOR. HOTH. I suppose we could allow MARS, given how Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos will soon be terraforming it into a battleground for their dominion robot armies. My money's on the Bezobots.

(Jim pointed out my existenceism bias; that "world" doesn't necessarily mean "containing life." In fact, this dictionary does include a direct definition making the theme valid. It is definition #12 out of 12, but still, it does work.)

Maybe that theme would be a bit too nerdy, but crossword people tend to be (gasp!) a bit nerdy.

In cryptic crosswords, CHANGES is a common indicator for anagramming. It works today, but something like PLANETARY MOTION would have been better. And it would have given a better reason for using planets!

Strong gridwork; I'm impressed at the level of quality Evan is producing these days. Hardly a drop of crossword glue to be seen, and even some goodies in WENT STAG, TD PASS, FANTASY, MALAISE, GYM RAT, WHO ME? No AW MAN from Jeff!

I even briefly considered some POW! love for this one, based on the solid gridwork. The theme didn't quite work for me, though.

P.S. (WARNING: NERD ALERT) There's an easier approach to searching for scrambled strings. Take MERCURY, for example. You can inspect all the 7-letter sequences in your wordlist, checking to see if they have exactly one of M, E, C, U, Y, and two Rs. About five minutes of code and five seconds of run time turned up ARMY RECRUIT(S) and MERCY RULE but nothing else. VENUS was more interesting, with ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, EVENS UP THE SCORE, LEAVES UNSAID, LIVENS UP, and my favorite, NATURE VS NURTURE.

Jim Horne notes:
Evan Kalish, in his notes above, dismisses ANTE-PENULTIMATE as uninteresting. It's a great word! Perhaps he's unfamiliar with Flanders ... read more

Evan Kalish, in his notes above, dismisses ANTE-PENULTIMATE as uninteresting. It's a great word! Perhaps he's unfamiliar with Flanders & Swann, whose brilliant song Have Some Madeira M'dear includes this verse every word lover should cherish:

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath
"Oh my child, should you look on the wine that is red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death"
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry
Crash! tinkle! it fell to the floor
When he asked, "What in Heaven?" she made no reply,
Up her mind, and a dash for the door
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0521 ( 25,396 )

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Across
1
Automaker with Supercharger stations : TESLA
6
Quarreling : ATIT
10
Identifies, as in a Facebook photo : TAGS
14
"Peer Gynt" composer : GRIEG
15
Let go of : CEDE
16
Word before "a hint," "a line" or "the ball" : DROP
17
"Oh, it's nothing to concern yourself with" : IGNORETHAT
19
Rose with 4,256 major-league hits : PETE
20
___ machine (stage effect maker) : FOG
21
Cleveland's lake : ERIE
22
"The Divine Comedy" writer : DANTE
23
Omits mention of : LEAVESUNSAID
26
Lethargy : MALAISE
29
Golden-years savings vehicles, for short : IRAS
30
Strand, as during a winter storm : ICEIN
31
Australian boot brand : UGG
32
Abu Dhabi's land, for short : UAE
35
Has a huge impact ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters : CHANGESTHEWORLD
40
Cry when encountering 26-Down : EEK
41
Red 40 or Yellow 6 : DYE
42
Made less strenuous : EASED
43
Profit : GAIN
45
Genre for the Harry Potter books : FANTASY
47
Ones with private ambitions? : ARMYRECRUITS
51
"Wait, you think I did that?" : WHOME
52
PIN points? : ATMS
53
Long March leader : MAO
56
Tie up, as a ship : MOOR
57
Extra song on an album : BONUSTRACK
60
Actress Paquin who won an Academy Award at age 11 : ANNA
61
Febreze target : ODOR
62
Better trained : ABLER
63
Twitter platform? : NEST
64
Chromosome component : GENE
65
Comic Radner of early "Saturday Night Live" : GILDA
Down
1
End-of-the-week cheer : TGIF
2
Therefore : ERGO
3
Let secrets out : SING
4
July-August sign : LEO
5
On the same page : AGREEING
6
Not idle : ACTIVE
7
Little chuckle : TEHEE
8
State between Wash. and Mont. : IDA
9
Vietnamese New Year : TET
10
Six-point accomplishment for a QB : TDPASS
11
Sports venue : ARENA
12
Mobster John : GOTTI
13
Go 50 in a school zone, say : SPEED
18
Notable times in history : ERAS
22
Material in a cell's nucleus : DNA
23
Reclined : LAIN
24
[Ah, me] : SIGH
25
Desire : URGE
26
Little scurriers : MICE
27
Result of overexertion : ACHE
28
Reason to replace a fuel line : LEAK
31
Sport-___ (multiterrain vehicle) : UTE
32
___ Major : URSA
33
Some draft selections : ALES
34
Swirl above a drain : EDDY
36
Actress Falco : EDIE
37
Match up : SYNC
38
Attended a party without a date : WENTSTAG
39
Some food for a horse : OATS
43
One doing heavy lifting, informally? : GYMRAT
44
"___ you insane?" : ARE
45
Its time has not yet come : FUTURE
46
Goals : AIMS
47
"Jeez Louise!" : AWMAN
48
Primary outflow of Lake Geneva : RHONE
49
Jupiter's Ganymede and Europa : MOONS
50
Kept going and going : RANON
53
Development that might compete with a downtown : MALL
54
Did an amazing job on : ACED
55
Gumbo green : OKRA
57
Marsh : BOG
58
Laudatory poem : ODE
59
One of four for a grand slam, for short : RBI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?