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New York Times, Thursday, June 16, 2016

Author: Timothy Polin
Editor: Will Shortz
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4712/11/20119/11/20182
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74952002
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1.626130
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 15 Words: 81, Blocks: 42 Missing: {FQVWXZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes: The normal progression for a themed puzzle is that you accumulate your silly little set of theme answers first, and design a grid ... more
Timothy Polin notes:

The normal progression for a themed puzzle is that you accumulate your silly little set of theme answers first, and design a grid around them second. Here, besides a short revealer, this grid had no pre-determined answers or structure. There were a lot of options for clue words, and those words could clue a lot of entries. You could take this idea in a thousand directions. The puzzle was my oyster. And I hate oysters.

My vague, initial plan was to have an open grid with longer theme answers. [Cubit, e.g.] = NATIONAL LEAGUER as a grid-spanning 15, for example. While brainstorming through the list of suitable words, though, many of my favorite clue/entry duos were 10s. When I saw that two pairs would intersect, I decided to make MOPE AROUND, COPACABANA, SANTA CLAUS and BLOODY MARY seed entries, and go from there. Symmetrical themers generally went in two at a time.

A minor editing change swapped TRIBE/AEGIS at 10-/11-Down for JOULE/ARGOS. This must have been done to excise the grid's sole I-T sequence (A BIT was at 21-Across). I wasn't sure whether to worry about an I-T in the fill (there are none in the non-theme clues), but if the powers that be found its removal an improvement, I'm glad it was in an easy-to-fix location.

Actually, oysters are OK. It's onions that are abhorrent. Onions, Donald Trump, and selfie sticks. In that order.

I hope people have fun with today's puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: A baffling solve quickly turning into a very entertaining one. I knew something was going on, what with all those starred clues, but ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A baffling solve quickly turning into a very entertaining one. I knew something was going on, what with all those starred clues, but I was stumped for a long time. Thankfully, I hit the revealer, piecing together DROP IT. Clever idea, extra ITs in clues making for puzzlement.

I need a BLOODY MARY, stat!

I really liked the ones where the IT 1.) totally transformed words and 2.) made for a normal-sounding clue. [Bite down, in a way] for MOPE AROUND is a good example — "Be" is very different from "Bite," and "Bite down" is perfectly innocent-looking. My favorite was [Bar order requiring celerity]. "Celery" to "celerity" is a big transformation, and the resulting clue had no giveaway awkwardness. So many of the 16 (!) starred clues worked so well — [Britain's location] was a close second for me, the "brain" to "Britain" change delicious.

[Pitiers] wasn't quite as nice, since "Pitiers" is kind of an odd word. And [Stick to it] (for KEEP AT) simply adds an "it" as a separate word. The resulting meaning isn't all that different, too.

I was curious why 16 themers had been chosen, especially since there didn't seem to be symmetry involved. Or was there? Yes! I tried highlighting the "themers" to better illustrate Tim's care in placing symmetrical entries, but that looked too busy.

The incredibly high theme density helps to explain a few rough patches, an OBOL here, an OIE there, etc. During my solve it did feel noticeable to get some of these bigger offenders, but looking at Tim's huge construction challenge — 16 themers! — makes me feel like these gluey bits are easily forgivable.

As much as I enjoyed the great quantity of transmogrified clues, it did feel a bit haphazard to hit so many starred clues seemingly randomly throughout the grid. I think I might have preferred the themers to be just the eight longest answers, or even six? Still, such an entertaining puzzle with a ton of clever wordplay in the clues.

1
D
2
O
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C
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K
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J
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N
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M
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0616 ( 24,327 )
Across Down
1. *Pitiers : DOCKS
6. *Cubit : TYRO
10. 1/ : JAN
13. Black winds : OBOES
14. More than giggle : ROAR
15. Abs and such : CORE
16. *Bite down, in a way : MOPEAROUND
18. Places for naps? : RUGS
19. Total revolution : LAP
20. About : CIRCA
21. Much : ALOT
22. Southwestern home : CASA
24. Cool air? : HIPNESS
26. Tarantula-eating animal : COATI
28. God, in the Torah : ADONAI
30. Nerve center : HUB
31. Dark films, informally : NOIRS
33. Service jobs : LUBES
37. Alma-___, Kazakhstan : ATA
38. Word of logic : ERGO
39. Gin cocktail : GIMLET
40. Some atom smashers, briefly : LINACS
42. Purple shade : PLUM
44. Target of a strip search? : ORE
45. 2016 Key and Peele action comedy : KEANU
46. Fasten on : TIETO
47. Goose: Fr. : OIE
48. Jargons : ARGOTS
50. "Crashing the Party" author, 2002 : NADER
52. Eat in excess : GORGEON
55. "Well!" : MYMY
56. Put-down in an argument : LIAR
57. Flirt : TEASE
60. One working at home, for short : UMP
62. Actor whose last name is a 41-Down of his first name, after a D is changed to an N : ALDA
63. *Polite star? : SANTACLAUS
66. 20 quires : REAM
67. Designer for the Ziegfeld Follies : ERTE
68. Milton of comedy : BERLE
69. Show imperfection : ERR
70. *Sitting figures, maybe : TMEN
71. *Give a permit to, say : STYLE
1. Ending for martyr : DOM
2. Ancient Greek coin : OBOL
3. *Lolita's workplace, in song : COPACABANA
4. *Stick it to : KEEPAT
5. What's funded by FICA, for short : SSA
6. Empath on the U.S.S. Enterprise : TROI
7. What comes before honor? : YOUR
8. Southwestern spreads : RANCHOS
9. Make a father of : ORDAIN
10. Work measure : JOULE
11. Rival of ancient Sparta : ARGOS
12. *Avian digits : NESTS
15. *Britain's location : CRANIUM
17. Record label for Miley Cyrus and Kelly Clarkson : RCA
23. *Source of gravity : SINECURE
25. *Exit payments : PALIMONY
26. Snooker accessory : CHALK
27. Convex navel : OUTIE
28. Notorious bailed-out insurance co. : AIG
29. "Move on!" ... or how to decipher the 16 starred clues : DROPIT
32. Words of logic : ORS
34. *Bar order requiring celerity : BLOODYMARY
35. Goosebumps-inducing : EERIE
36. Part of a long drive? : STEER
39. Instinctual : GUT
41. *Suite for use? : ANAGRAM
43. The French? : LES
46. Needle holder : TONEARM
49. Prepared : GOTSET
51. *Mojito, for one : AMULET
52. *What visitors minimize : GLARE
53. Gulf vessel : OILER
54. Weather forecasting aid : RADAR
55. Apology opener : MEA
58. Indicate that one needs a hand? : ANTE
59. Old 9-mm. : STEN
61. Influence : PULL
64. Stephen Colbert's network : CBS
65. "Didn't I tell you?!" : SEE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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