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New York Times, Thursday, May 31, 2018

Author:
Dominick Talvacchio
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
15/31/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.72000
Dominick Talvacchio

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQV} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Talvacchio. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dominick Talvacchio notes:
I'm delighted to have this crossword appear in the New York Times. I'd like to thank Will and the other editors for helping to bring ... read more

I'm delighted to have this crossword appear in the New York Times. I'd like to thank Will and the other editors for helping to bring the puzzle into shape, and especially for having the good sense to nix a theme entry which had so endeared itself to me that I willfully overlooked the absurd difficulty in parsing it: OMEGAALPHA ["Behold, the enormous French mountain? Yeah, right!"?]

I've always enjoyed the sort of wordplay featured in these theme answers, where — as in the charade or heteronym — the letters and their order remain the same, while the spacing changes to amusing effect. I sometimes see it as a special kind of anagram, another longtime obsession of mine. (Readers of this column who are also interested in anagrams and an extra bit of daily wordplay might enjoy a puzzle series I've been running at AnagramsAroundEve.com, with crossword-style clues with anagram phrase solutions.)

Jeff Chen notes:
I love it when I see a theme I can't even imagine dreaming up. Take Greek letters, stick a bunch together, then parse them in odd ways ... read more

I love it when I see a theme I can't even imagine dreaming up. Take Greek letters, stick a bunch together, then parse them in odd ways to come up with creatively kooky answers? Fantastic! I had the hardest time figuring out LAMBDA TAU = LAMB DATA U, but what a hilarious image. Made me think of "Hamburger U," McDonald's training grounds.

And CHI PSI ZETA XI = CHIP SIZE TAXI? That's an incredibly cool find. A funny one, too!

THETA OMICRON = THE TAU MICRON sounds like a Stephen Hawking book.

I wasn't as hot on BETA PI ETA = BET A PIETA, as the spacing changes weren't as unpredictable. Still, the concept of betting a pieta (depiction of Mary and Jesus) is evocative.

The theme was so interesting that I wanted so badly to give it the POW! The fill didn't quite match in excellence, though. TABAC at 1-Down = sigh. ALEPH at 2-Down confuses the theme a bit. I'd much rather keep all other letters out of the fill for this theme, no matter what language.

ICAL crossing SECY – neither is a puzzle-killer, but they sure ain't good. Crossing them draws extra attention to these dabs of crossword glue.

OZAWA / TAZO is worse to me. I don't think educated solvers should be expected to know OZAWA off the top — I played in orchestras for 20 years, and I learned him only from crosswords — and while TAZO was once owned by Starbucks, I wonder if it's a big enough brand to demand solvers' attention. Crossing them doesn't feel fair.

Toss in some ARNO, OCTA, TUE, and I just couldn't do it. So close to a POW! on your debut, Dominick! I think if you'd left out ITS ALL GREEK TO ME, I still would have understood the theme, and you could have smoothed and snazzified your grid. Not a whole lot of room for bonuses, as it is — HAIRIEST and AMATEURS are fine, but not outstanding.

I've seen plenty of crosswords around ITS ALL GREEK TO ME, but this one was different. I like different.

Jim Horne notes:

Crosswords are such a personal experience. I would expect the vast majority of NYT readers would know Seiji Ozawa "off the top." Neither Jeff nor I know for sure.

1
T
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P
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M
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G
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K
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0531 ( 25,041 )
Across
1
Kitchen drawer? : TAP
4
Rum-drinking buddy : MATEY
9
First sub-Saharan country to obtain independence from colonial rule : GHANA
14
Like : ALA
15
Produce some chuckles, say : AMUSE
16
M.L.B. career leader in total bases : AARON
17
Wager one's sculpture of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus? : BETAPIETA
19
Napkins and such : LINEN
20
Stacked quarters?: Abbr. : APTS
21
Broad-leaved endive : ESCAROLE
23
Hired vehicle that's only as big as a potato crisp? : CHIPSIZETAXI
27
Cabinet head: Abbr. : SECY
28
"So long" : BYENOW
32
Flight : LAM
35
Secures, as a job : LANDS
38
"From ___ down to Brighton, I must have played them all" ("Pinball Wizard" lyric) : SOHO
39
What you might say upon seeing 17-, 23-, 51- and 62-Across? : ITSALLGREEKTOME
43
What to expect : NORM
44
Out of the way : ASIDE
45
Locale of Rome and Syracuse: Abbr. : NYS
46
It takes a toll : EZPASS
49
Corn syrup brand : KARO
51
One-millionth of a meter along a spiritual path? : THETAOMICRON
57
What might help you beat the heat? : FIREEXIT
60
Brand once promoted as "The reincarnation of tea" : TAZO
61
As expected : ONCUE
62
Inst. of higher learning dedicated to the statistical analysis of young sheep? : LAMBDATAU
66
Often-animated greeting : ECARD
67
Walk : TREAD
68
Embrace fully : OWN
69
Mouthful? : SASSY
70
Is a canary : SINGS
71
___ in Nancy : NAS
Down
1
Filler for une pipe : TABAC
2
___-null (the number of natural numbers) : ALEPH
3
Actress Lupone : PATTI
4
It has dots for spots : MAP
5
Cher, e.g. : AMI
6
Election day: Abbr. : TUE
7
Lauder making some blush : ESTEE
8
Brewer's agent : YEAST
9
It contains dwarfs and giants : GALAXY
10
Most frighteningly dangerous : HAIRIEST
11
It flows through Florence : ARNO
12
Time of good cheer : NOEL
13
Frank with a diary : ANNE
18
Not what Indiana joneses for : ASPS
22
Certain wine order, informally : CAB
24
Convince : SELL
25
Suffix with egotist : ICAL
26
Words With Friends developer : ZYNGA
29
Twelve : NOON
30
"Goodness sakes!" : OHMY
31
Heavy burdens : WOES
32
Conversation piece : LINE
33
The whole shebang : ATOZ
34
Fig. on a window (and, with luck, not through the roof) : MSRP
36
Quinn and Quincy: Abbr. : DRS
37
Japanese watchmaker : SEIKO
40
Do-it-yourselfers : AMATEURS
41
Answer to the riddle "What cheese is made backward?" : EDAM
42
Russell of "The Americans" : KERI
47
Ally of the Brat Pack : SHEEDY
48
Box on a questionnaire : SEX
50
Twice tetra- : OCTA
52
Angles : TILTS
53
Game company with an online-only museum : ATARI
54
Double-cross, maybe : RATON
55
Longtime director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra : OZAWA
56
Adjective and adverb, for two : NOUNS
57
Opposite sides : FOES
58
Inti worshiper : INCA
59
Some old TVs : RCAS
63
Game pieces : MEN
64
Catch : BAG
65
One whose office has an opening to fill?: Abbr. : DDS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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