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New York Times, Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Author:
Ori Brian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
45/23/20162/1/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0111010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71100
Ori Brian

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Brian. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
I stared at the revealer for an embarrassing amount of time, wondering what a bon fire could be. Some sort of French term for a great ... read more

I stared at the revealer for an embarrassing amount of time, wondering what a bon fire could be. Some sort of French term for a great flame? Your first love that burned bright?

Ah, a BONFIRE.

*headdesk*

"Words that can precede X" theme. I like that Ori was consistent, always choosing words where the resultant FIRE themer was a single word (as in BONFIRE), not a two-word phrase (as in OPEN FIRE). It would have been willy-nilly silly, mixing the two types.

But still, there were a ton of additional choices — crossfire, Spitfire, hellfire, gunfire, etc. — so it's not a very tight set of themers.

I did like the grid execution. Ori worked in so much bonus goodies, super important since this was a theme type that Will has largely said he's not taking more of. KNEECAP, IRKSOME, UNCLE SAM, SITCOM, GUESS WHO, even LUIGI, who's always taking a backseat to Mario.

For a second – okay, more than a second – I wondered what the heck unclefire and guessfire were. That's the danger of weaving in bonus fill in the across direction, especially in a theme like this. I would have preferred more bonus fill in the down direction instead. As it was, it almost felt like too much bonus goodness, hazing the distinction between theme and fill.

I appreciated that this wasn't just a straightforward "words that can precede X" theme, in that Ori used prefixes (ish) that could start snazzy theme phrases. It wasn't enough for me, though, as this overdone theme type needs a lot to make it feel fresh.

1
P
2
A
3
C
4
K
5
A
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T
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L
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A
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S
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M
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A
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P
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S
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I
C
O
N
15
H
A
I
T
I
16
E
V
I
L
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S
U
R
E
18
W
H
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N
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M
A
X
I
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A
P
N
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A
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U
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C
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L
E
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A
M
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C
R
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O
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S
S
C
O
U
N
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Y
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T
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A
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B
A
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C
O
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E
M
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W
R
A
P
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H
O
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P
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G
O
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O
35
F
36
S
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I
L
L
38
B
O
N
J
39
O
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V
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R
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N
O
L
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I
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S
H
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H
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L
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R
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B
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A
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O
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H
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L
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B
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A
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C
K
T
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S
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C
H
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G
U
E
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W
H
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56
D
P
57
L
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A
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C
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S
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T
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M
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T
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U
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O
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L
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0508 ( 25,018 )
Across
1
Bunch of wolves : PACK
5
Book composed of 10-Across : ATLAS
10
See 5-Across : MAPS
14
Word after computer or fashion : ICON
15
Port-au-Prince's land : HAITI
16
Satan's doings : EVIL
17
"What's there to lose?" : SUREWHYNOT
19
Ankle-length dress : MAXI
20
Sleep disorder : APNEA
21
Patriotic finger-pointer : UNCLESAM
23
Way to run or ski : CROSSCOUNTRY
26
Sauce in a Bloody Mary : TABASCO
29
Radiate : EMIT
30
Tortilla sandwich : WRAP
31
Bunny action : HOP
33
Wastes time, with "off" : GOOFS
37
Not feeling well : ILL
38
Band with the 12x platinum album "Slippery When Wet" : BONJOVI
41
2016 Olympics locale : RIO
42
"I kid you not!" : NOLIE
44
Pronoun for a ship : SHE
45
Concert venue : HALL
46
Singer McEntire : REBA
49
Board game with black-and-white pieces : OTHELLO
51
Like some August sales : BACKTOSCHOOL
55
Comment made while covering someone's eyes : GUESSWHO
56
67-69, gradewise : DPLUS
60
West Coast gas brand : ARCO
61
Ignite something ... or what the first words of 17-, 23-, 38- and 51-Across do? : STARTAFIRE
64
Seriously wound : MAIM
65
___ point (concise) : TOTHE
66
Sch. that plays home football games at the Rose Bowl : UCLA
67
"Legally Blonde" girl : ELLE
68
Satirical news site, with "The" : ONION
69
Minus : LESS
Down
1
City with a noted tower : PISA
2
"And we'll tak' ___ o' kindness yet": Burns : ACUP
3
Ears that can't hear : CORN
4
Patella : KNEECAP
5
Sound of contentment : AHH
6
Scotland's Firth of ___ : TAY
7
"Peanuts" boy with a blanket : LINUS
8
Immediately : ATONCE
9
"Parks and Recreation," e.g. : SITCOM
10
Keepsake : MEMENTO
11
Sailor's cry : AVAST
12
Animation studio with a lamp mascot : PIXAR
13
Morally reprehensible : SLIMY
18
Hawks push them : WARS
22
Nintendo brother : LUIGI
24
Tres y cinco : OCHO
25
Procrastinator's promise : SOON
26
Certain bed size : TWIN
27
Folk singer Guthrie : ARLO
28
Event for Cinderella : BALL
32
Nighttime attire, briefly : PJS
34
Kind of exam : ORAL
35
Occupy completely : FILL
36
Han who's the title role of a 2018 film : SOLO
38
Borscht ingredients : BEETS
39
"Pick me! Pick me!" : OHOH
40
Presidential prerogative : VETO
43
Irritating : IRKSOME
45
Lending a hand : HELPFUL
47
Greets respectfully : BOWSTO
48
Kutcher of "That '70s Show" : ASHTON
50
"Today" co-host Kotb : HODA
51
Not one's best effort, in sports : BGAME
52
Hearing-related : AURAL
53
The "C" of C. S. Forester : CECIL
54
Relative of a raccoon : COATI
57
Canine woe : LICE
58
Web addresses : URLS
59
Wet septet : SEAS
62
Letter after pi : RHO
63
Full count : TEN

Answer summary: 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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