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New York Times, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Author: Peter A. Collins
Editor: Will Shortz
Peter A. Collins
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1045/2/20064/18/201812
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
51225361394
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.564313

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJQ} This is puzzle # 99 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes: ROLODEXES. Does anyone use them anymore? Or have they been relegated to US HISTORY (which lies adjacent to it in the grid ... more
Peter A. Collins notes:

ROLODEXES. Does anyone use them anymore? Or have they been relegated to US HISTORY (which lies adjacent to it in the grid — please don't ask me why CHEAP DATE lies adjacent to BORDELLOS)?

And is ROLODEXES the correct plural? Should it be "Rolodices," like vertex/vertices? As for me, I still use a Rolodex. In fact, I have one on my desktop — right next to a couple of boxes of Kleenices.

The theme for this puzzle, as thin as it is, came when I heard the phrase GRAB A CAB somewhere. I liked the sound of it, so I began hunting for other phrases with the same pattern. My intention was for this to be a Monday puzzle, but perhaps some of the non-themed vocabulary forced a push to a little later in the week.

My original version included the boxing ploy known as ROPE A DOPE, but the editor thought it was a little inconsistent since it doesn't follow the "verb-A-noun" form as the others do. Once again, one man's striving for variety runs up against another man's longing for uniformity.

Speaking of CHEAP DATE, when I submitted this, CHEAP DATE had never appeared in a Times puzzle before. I thought it would be a nice little debut. But in the time this puzzle spent sitting in the holding cell, CHEAP DATE has popped up — twice. Both times were by David Steinberg.

Jeff Chen notes: Themers following the 'X A Y' pattern, where X and Y rhyme. Some nice finds, Pete utilizing all common, everyday(ish) phrases. SNEAK ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Themers following the "X A Y" pattern, where X and Y rhyme. Some nice finds, Pete utilizing all common, everyday(ish) phrases. SNEAK A PEEK is a perfect one, and BAKE A CAKE … who doesn't love CAKE? I did want SEAL A DEAL to be SEAL THE DEAL, but what can you do.

With six themers, I wouldn't have expected too many bonuses in the fill. What a nice surprise to get six(!) long slots, filled with juicy material like US HISTORY, ROLODEXES (obsolete, but they were culturally important), CHEAP DATE.

BORDELLOS … what would the Gray Lady say? I think I like this entry, although part of me wants the NYT crossword to stay away from certain unsavory references. No doubt, BORDELLOS is a colorful answer.

Some trade-offs to make this all happen, though. So much is going on in the lower left corner, for example — GRAB A CAB, BAKE A CAKE, BORDELLOS, and WELL BORN all have to be filled around — that there's inevitably some NONOs. Any five-letter entry ending in STAR is a constructing crutch, as that first letter can be so many things (each one of them arbitrary to most solvers), and there's enough tough material packed down there that I fear it might turn off newer solvers.

I do think all of BWANA, KLINK, AEROS, EWERS, ARIL, KNOTT are fair(ish), but whoo, that concentration might not be satisfying for an early-week solver.

My philosophy is that short fill does its job when it goes mostly unnoticed. There are occasionally awesome bits of short fill that help a puzzle stand out, but I don't think any of these fit that bill.

Along with some other toughies — I was in National Honor Society, but I struggled to piece together NHS — I would have liked more smoothness in exchange for fewer snazzy long answers.

Some neat rhyming finds, though. People ask me about rhyming themes all the time, and generally, they're way too overdone to be viable. But adding a layer like this "X A Y" pattern can work.

1
T
2
A
3
C
4
T
5
O
6
C
7
A
8
L
9
A
10
R
11
A
12
M
13
P
14
E
C
H
O
15
M
O
R
E
L
16
O
D
I
E
17
S
N
E
A
18
K
A
P
E
E
K
19
L
E
A
D
20
H
E
A
D
O
N
21
T
R
A
22
V
O
L
T
A
23
P
S
A
24
S
E
A
L
A
D
E
A
L
25
O
26
D
D
27
L
28
O
P
29
T
I
N
E
30
G
R
A
31
B
A
C
A
32
B
33
E
X
34
U
35
L
36
T
37
L
E
T
O
38
T
R
A
39
D
40
E
41
E
S
A
U
42
E
W
E
R
43
S
44
G
O
T
45
A
S
H
O
T
46
D
A
47
S
48
H
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Z
A
P
50
I
S
U
51
B
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A
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K
E
A
C
A
54
K
E
55
N
56
H
S
57
W
E
L
L
B
O
R
N
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K
E
A
T
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O
60
N
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A
R
I
L
62
W
R
O
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T
E
A
N
O
T
E
64
N
O
N
O
65
L
I
T
E
R
66
G
R
O
W
67
A
S
K
S
68
S
S
T
A
R
69
S
Y
S
T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0509 ( 24,654 )
Across Down
1. Social adroitness : TACT
5. City between Gainesville and Orlando : OCALA
10. Skateboarder's incline : RAMP
14. Radar response : ECHO
15. Mushroom variety : MOREL
16. Garfield's foil in the comics : ODIE
17. View furtively : SNEAKAPEEK
19. Main role : LEAD
20. Direct, as a collision : HEADON
21. John of "Saturday Night Fever" : TRAVOLTA
23. Amber Alert, e.g., for short : PSA
24. Complete the negotiations : SEALADEAL
25. Like the number of games in a "best of" series : ODD
27. Cut (off) : LOP
29. Pitchfork point : TINE
30. Secure some urban transportation : GRABACAB
33. Rejoice : EXULT
37. Oscar winner Jared of "Dallas Buyers Club" : LETO
38. Buy and sell, as stocks : TRADE
41. Jacob's biblical twin : ESAU
42. Decorative pitchers : EWERS
44. Was vaccinated : GOTASHOT
46. Pinch in the kitchen : DASH
49. Hit with a Taser : ZAP
50. Terre Haute sch. : ISU
51. Prepare for someone's birthday, perhaps : BAKEACAKE
55. Org. for top-notch H.S. students : NHS
57. Blue-blooded : WELLBORN
58. Hollywood's Diane, Buster or Michael : KEATON
61. Seed cover : ARIL
62. Briefly put pen to paper, say : WROTEANOTE
64. "Don't touch that, honey!" : NONO
65. Engine capacity unit : LITER
66. Increase : GROW
67. Poses a poser : ASKS
68. Relatively cool red giant : SSTAR
69. The second "S" of MS-DOS: Abbr. : SYST
1. Radio host John : TESH
2. Teenage skin malady : ACNE
3. Takeout food together with a Netflix movie, maybe : CHEAPDATE
4. Garden amphibians : TOADS
5. Tip of the Arabian Peninsula : OMAN
6. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" figure : COP
7. Rocky glacial ridge : ARETE
8. Look upon with lust : LEERAT
9. High-pH substance : ALKALI
10. Obsolescent desktop accessories : ROLODEXES
11. "Hello" singer, 2015 : ADELE
12. Sporty Mazda : MIATA
13. Organ part : PEDAL
18. Qantas Airways symbol : KOALA
22. Barn topper : VANE
24. Practice boxing : SPAR
25. Look upon with lust : OGLE
26. Was the clue giver in Pictionary : DREW
28. Start of the fourth qtr. : OCT
31. Brothels : BORDELLOS
32. Give up on, in slang : BAG
34. Class that covers Reconstruction and Prohibition : USHISTORY
35. Neighbor of Vietnam : LAOS
36. "Swan Lake" article of attire : TUTU
39. Nod off : DOZE
40. Letter between zeta and theta : ETA
43. Swedish aircraft giant : SAAB
45. Breathing problem : APNEA
47. Frowny looks : SCOWLS
48. ___ tweed : HARRIS
51. Swahili master : BWANA
52. Nestlé bars filled with tiny bubbles : AEROS
53. "Hogan's Heroes" colonel : KLINK
54. Noted berry farm founder Walter : KNOTT
56. Puts up, as a painting : HANGS
58. Deborah of "The King and I" : KERR
59. Plains tribe members : OTOS
60. Politico Gingrich : NEWT
63. Drink with crumpets : TEA

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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