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New York Times, Monday, May 25, 2015

Author: Jennifer Nutt
Editor: Will Shortz
Jennifer Nutt
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
44/17/200710/16/20171
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0310000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JWX} This is puzzle # 3 for Ms. Nutt. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jennifer Nutt notes: I am excited about my third NY Times crossword. This puzzle was inspired by a rather fabulous nail buffer that my friend Doris ... more
Jennifer Nutt notes:

Here it is! I am excited about my third NY Times crossword. This puzzle was inspired by a rather fabulous nail buffer that my friend Doris showed me. It has four sides, including "file nail edge," "smooth nail," and "shine nail." I added clip and polish, changed smooth to buff, and tried to think up some good theme entries. I especially like "train buff."

The grid was not easy to construct because the theme entries needed to follow in nail grooming order: clip, file, buff, shine, polish.

Coincidentally (?), this puzzle follows the Times' recent exposé on nail salons. However, Doris's inspirational nail buffer is meant for home use.

I submitted this puzzle in early July 2014, and it was accepted in late August.

Jeff Chen notes: I NAILED IT is a great phrase, lively and colorful. Here, it's loosely interpreted to describe the process of manicuring one's nails: ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I NAILED IT is a great phrase, lively and colorful. Here, it's loosely interpreted to describe the process of manicuring one's nails: CLIP, FILE, BUFF, SHINE, POLISH. At first I thought it was a "words that can follow X" type theme, since my manicure process involves just CLIP (wouldn't that be quite the boring two-entry theme!). Took me a second glance to see that a full process was happening here. Much more interesting!

Buff, shine, both, neither, or is this a trick question?

Impressive to pack six themers into a Monday puzzle. It's usually difficult to place two themers over each other, as with VIDEO CLIP and CIRCULAR FILE, instead of staggering them left to right. So many down answers run down through both VIDEO CLIP and CIRCULAR FILE! There is some flexibility, as VIDEO CLIP could just have easily been AUDIO CLIP, MONEY CLIP, MOVIE CLIP, etc. — I wonder if one of those could have made for a smoother start than OBI ALAR PRIER SEP in that corner.

Still, given that the BUFF and SHINE and POLISH steps are necessary in the manicuring process (there's really a difference? he asked semi-facetiously), the fact that there are six themers will nearly always force some of those gluey bits. I was bracing myself for more to rear their heads after that start, but the rest of the puzzle is quite well executed. Very smooth; much appreciated.

I wasn't convinced that SOCIAL POLISH and TRAIN BUFF are in the language (less than 50K Google hits each), but they are self-explanatory. Easy enough to grok, even for Monday solvers (and I'm sure there will be some people wearing engineer hats blowing their train whistles in celebration).

Overall, the revealer didn't quite work for me, as it's a bit too oblique a connection between NAILS and NAILED IT, but it is a fun repurposing of language. And working in BABYLON and its Hanging Gardens is a nice addition to an already theme-packed puzzle.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0525 ( 23,939 )
Across Down
1. Put up, as a painting : HANG
5. Little devils : IMPS
9. Prejudiced person : BIGOT
14. Banned apple spray : ALAR
15. Horse with a foal : MARE
16. One end of a battery : ANODE
17. Excerpt shown on TV : VIDEOCLIP
19. Put money up front to play poker : BUYIN
20. Kimono sash : OBI
21. Ballot : VOTE
22. Iron-fisted ruler : TYRANT
23. Wastebasket, jocularly : CIRCULARFILE
26. Like Mother Hubbard : OLD
27. One of the Big Five movie studios, once : RKO
28. Status ___ : QUO
31. Partner of take : GIVE
33. Visitor at a railroad museum, say : TRAINBUFF
36. Ripped : TORE
37. Studies at the last minute : CRAMS
38. Laughfest : RIOT
39. Product of a backwoods still : MOONSHINE
41. Chunks of bread for stew, e.g. : SOPS
42. Holiday ___ : INN
43. Full complement of toes : TEN
44. Hit the slopes : SKI
45. What a boor sorely lacks : SOCIALPOLISH
51. Comment : REMARK
54. Writer Ephron : NORA
55. Prefix with liberal or conservative : NEO
56. Intestinal bug : ECOLI
57. Appropriate exclamation upon solving this puzzle? : INAILEDIT
59. Push may come to it : SHOVE
60. Peewee pup : RUNT
61. S, M, L or XL : SIZE
62. Schlepped : TOTED
63. "So what ___ is new?" : ELSE
64. Skin treatment at a spa : PEEL
1. Mayhem : HAVOC
2. Proof you weren't anywhere near the murder : ALIBI
3. Very bottom : NADIR
4. Coll. senior's test : GRE
5. "Brr-r-r!" : IMCOLD
6. Island nation for which a distinctive cat is named : MALTA
7. Nosy Parker : PRIER
8. Follower of Aug. : SEP
9. Ancient Hanging Gardens city : BABYLON
10. Become accustomed (to) : INURE
11. "The Naked Maja" painter : GOYA
12. Thor's father : ODIN
13. Protection for an outdoor wedding : TENT
18. Small egg : OVULE
22. Polynesian carvings : TIKIS
24. Witches' gathering : COVEN
25. Building skeleton : FRAME
28. One-liner : QUIP
29. Subjects of a top-secret government cover-up, some believe : UFOS
30. Many a time, in poetry : OFT
31. "Continue ..." : GOON
32. Clothes presser : IRON
33. Lopez with the 1963 hit "If I Had a Hammer" : TRINI
34. Wasn't colorfast : RAN
35. Swelter : BROIL
36. "I'd rather not know," in a text : TMI
37. Not carry on, as bags : CHECK
40. Illustrious, as a past : STORIED
41. "Bottoms up!" : SKOAL
44. Mountain Dew alternative : SPRITE
45. Soothing ointment : SALVE
46. Make void : ANNUL
47. What banks always have interest in? : LOANS
48. Any movie at the Sundance Film Festival : INDIE
49. Grab : SEIZE
50. Four houses + 1 in Monopoly : HOTEL
51. The first "R" in R&R : REST
52. Verbal comeback? : ECHO
53. Purely academic : MOOT
57. Wrath : IRE
58. Psychic power, for short : ESP

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?