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New York Times, Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
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619175452
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1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 39 Missing: {FJQVXZ} This is puzzle # 42 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:
I wish I could remove the black squares between 24A & 26A and its symmetrical spot (REMO / LEN & EME / AIWA). I tried to give ... read more

I wish I could remove the black squares between 24A & 26A and its symmetrical spot (REMO / LEN & EME / AIWA). I tried to give the grid more flow but failed. The theme entry choices were rather limited.

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat idea, C.C. giving us intersecting items that usually come in PAIRS. I uncovered SOCK / SOCK first, and that gave me a smile ... read more

Neat idea, C.C. giving us intersecting items that usually come in PAIRS. I uncovered SOCK / SOCK first, and that gave me a smile — amused me to see those SOCKs (sort of) knotted together. (Although, my style is to cram SOCKs into a drawer. Who needs matched PAIRS?)

Some great themers, too. TONGUE LASH is a fantastic answer on its own, and it hides TONG well. Same goes for PANTOMIME and PANT, and SOCKET SETS and SOCK. Excellent finds.

I hesitated on HAS KITTENS. Google says that this is a real phrase, meaning to lose one's cool, but I'd never heard it before. Perhaps it's a generational thing?

I also found it odd that two of the PAIRS were normal terms — SOCK and SKI — while PANT and TONG are rarely used in the singular. For me, it would have been much better to make all four of the same type. I might lean toward the PANT and TONG direction, as a previous puzzle played on this concept very well.

I also would have liked the PAIRS of items to be parallel rather than intersecting. As neat as it was to have two SOCKs knotted together, it's odd to see SKIs like this, as well as PANTs. (TONGs could go either way.) But running parallel theme PAIRS atop each other is much, much harder to do than intersecting them.

Don't get me wrong, intersecting theme pairs does cause all sorts of problems around the intersection. The lower left is a perfect example — PANTOMIMES / PANTRY are hard enough to fill around, but when you add in some more long slots with IM IN AWE and IN RETURN, you're bound to have trade-offs. In this case, OTROS / EME / RWY (railway?) is a heavy price to pay.

What could C.C. have done to ease this? Tough call, but compare the white space in the lower left region to the upper left — much easier to fill that upper left. Perhaps putting a black square at the first E of EME, and removing the black square between EME and AIWA? Constructing is usually a delicate balance, trying to make sure not one of your regions suffers too greatly.

I enjoyed the concept — very creative — but felt like the overall execution could have been better, especially given my elevating expectations around C.C.'s work.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0523 ( 24,668 )
Across
1. Make a pass at : HITON
6. Cousin of lager : ALE
9. Deposited soil : SILT
13. Dig deeply : ADORE
14. Baldwin known for his presidential impersonation : ALEC
15. Village Voice award : OBIE
16. Dress down : TONGUELASH
18. TD Garden athlete, informally : CELT
19. Gorge oneself, with "out" : PIG
20. Smidgen : TAD
21. Salmon type : SOCKEYE
23. Wash. neighbor : IDA
24. San ___, Italy : REMO
26. "Live Free or Die Hard" director Wiseman : LEN
27. Potentially offensive : NONPC
30. Bread that's often brushed with ghee : NAN
31. Early anesthetic : ETHER
34. Main line from the heart : AORTA
36. Aquafina competitor : DASANI
37. "Wow, unbelievable!" : IMINAWE
40. Cause of yawns : BOREDOM
41. Kitchen cabinet : PANTRY
42. Rainbow ___ : TROUT
43. Others, in Oaxaca : OTROS
44. "A Dream Within a Dream" writer : POE
45. Big college major, informally : PSYCH
49. Suffix with morph- : EME
50. Onetime giant in consumer electronics : AIWA
52. Fair-hiring letters : EOE
53. Audited, as a class : SATINON
56. "Be quiet!" : SHH
58. X-ray alternative : MRI
59. Coveted, as a position : PLUM
60. Throws a fit : HASKITTENS
63. Fairy tale meanie : OGRE
64. Marriott competitor : OMNI
65. Core belief : TENET
66. Lies by the pool, say : TANS
67. Penn of "Harold & Kumar" films : KAL
68. Figure skating event ... or what the circled items always come in : PAIRS
Down
1. Quaint fashion accessory : HATPIN
2. Enthusiastic assent : IDOIDO
3. Friendly Islands native : TONGAN
4. www.wikipedia.___ : ORG
5. Neither fem. nor masc. : NEUT
6. Pie ___ mode : ALA
7. Future perfect tense in grammar class, e.g. : LESSON
8. Bounce back : ECHO
9. Some mechanics' tool collections : SOCKETSETS
10. Informal cry from someone who is duped : IBEENHAD
11. Bloom on a pad : LILY
12. Part lopped off by la guillotine : TETE
14. How pasta may be prepared : ALDENTE
17. Talent for music : EAR
22. Fully explain : CLEARUP
25. Nanny goat's cry : MAA
28. Plays charades : PANTOMIMES
29. Make rough : COARSEN
32. Brian who composed "Discreet Music" : ENO
33. What an air ball misses : RIM
35. Train system: Abbr. : RWY
36. Scooby-___ : DOO
37. Big step for a young company, for short : IPO
38. Silent "Welcome" giver : MAT
39. Reciprocally : INRETURN
40. Cold one : BREWSKI
42. You, in Tours : TOI
44. Isthmus land : PANAMA
46. Native of Mocha : YEMENI
47. Drugstore location, often : CORNER
48. Bank jobs : HEISTS
51. Sashimi staple : AHI
53. Dalmatian feature : SPOT
54. Pond organism : ALGA
55. "Well, all right then" : OHOK
57. Start of a web address : HTTP
61. TV show that comes on at 11:29 (not 11:30) p.m. : SNL
62. Pekoe, for one : TEA

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

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