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New York Times, Thursday, June 18, 2015

Author:
Jason Flinn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1410/9/20137/21/20180
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53030
Jason Flinn

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQVXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Flinn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jason Flinn notes:
The idea for this puzzle originally came from the observation that there are a lot of METONYMS in New York City. Mulling this around ... read more

The idea for this puzzle originally came from the observation that there are a lot of METONYMS in New York City. Mulling this around led to the idea of NEW YORK METS becoming NEW YORK METONYMS, and I was off to the races!

The race turned out to be a marathon. Most of my NYT puzzle submissions result in a direct "yes" or "no". This puzzle unusually went through four iterations before reaching the final product --the difficulty was coming up with acceptable theme answers. For the curious, here are some rejected theme answers, and why they didn't make the cut:

  • WRITE HOMONYM (I apparently have been using a non-standard pronunciation - d'oh!)
  • QUEEN ANONYM ("anonym" was too obscure)
  • (E)N PSEUDONYM ("ensued" is boring and it is an outlier in that the base phrase isn't two words)
  • OLYMPUS MONONYMS ("Olympus Mons" is obscure unless, like me, you read too much science fiction).

Two other points:

My penultimate submission had the four themers in a different order. Will and Joel pointed out that starting with two plural themers creates the expectation that all themers will be plural. So, I reworked the puzzle to alternate them singular, plural, singular, plural. Will and Joel were even willing to sacrifice a tiny bit on the fill to get this pattern.

My difficulty in coming up with theme entries means that there are only four of them in the puzzle. In retrospect, I really like how using only four themers let me open up the grid and work in some fun longer answers. This is a nice tradeoff, and I plan to try it again in future puzzles.

Jeff Chen notes:
Worthy Thursday idea, kooky blends of normal phrase + ___ONYM(S). A nice workout. I had to look up TOPONYM (place name derived from a ... read more

Worthy Thursday idea, kooky blends of normal phrase + ___ONYM(S). A nice workout. I had to look up TOPONYM (place name derived from a geographic feature) and METONYM (name used as a substitute for something which it's closely associated) — good terms to learn.

Wouldn't baseball be a lot more fun if all players were dressed like this? (handlebar mustache required)

Glad to read Jason's description of the puzzle's transformation. It did strike me as inelegant that the themers weren't all singular or all plural, but having 2/2 (alternating) is the next best thing. And it does look like there isn't a huge assortment of potential themers to choose from.

I would have liked all of the spellings to work similarly, though. It was odd to me that MORTAL SIN became MORTAL SYN … I know, I'm a stickler for consistency, perhaps too much so, but I love the elegance that comes with a perfect set of four themers. (Side note: the "top" of "toponym" is actually pronounced like MOUNTAINTOP, not like "taupe.")

Liked many of the clues. [Rainmaker?] is fun for MONSOON, and I wish NINTENDO would do something awesome with the Seattle Mariners, like have them all dress up in Super Mario outfits. King Felix in a Princess Peach outfit would be much more entertaining than this groaner of a season the Ms are having. I would have liked more fun clues like these, as most of the clues felt too esoteric to me.

The 15/13/13/15 arrangement is a tough one. I like how Jason worked in some colorful material like LOOPHOLE, RAN TRACK, SPARE RIB, and NINETENDO. And going down to 70 words gave him a few more longer spaces to fill than usual — AEROSMITH and ATHENIANS are a good way to use those.

However, there was quite a bit of gluey material holding it together. Not sure A WHO, IM NO, KAL, is worth the price of ATHENIANS, especially when there's already a good amount of unslightly bits. I do like a low-word count themed puzzle, but I also value a smooth solve.

Overall though, a tricky Thursday; glad to see something I haven't seen before.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0618 ( 23,963 )
Across
1
Old Toyota sports car : SUPRA
6
Uncle on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" : PHIL
10
Scene of W.W. II fighting : STLO
14
Packing a sting? : APIAN
15
"Sweet Emotion" band : AEROSMITH
17
The Olympics or Andes Mints : MOUNTAINTOPONYM
19
Imbues : INSTILLS
20
Hearth instrument : POKER
21
Mentaiko, at a sushi bar : ROE
22
Last place? : SHOE
23
White and lighted : BLACKANTONYMS
29
Segal who wrote "Love Story" : ERICH
30
Posts : MAILS
31
Host's exhortation : EAT
33
Be the ultimate nerd, with "out" : GEEK
34
The heavens : SPACE
35
"The Lion King" queen : NALA
36
Grain in Nutri-Grain : OAT
37
Vivacity : SPUNK
38
Searches for the useful parts of, as data : MINES
39
Deadly or human : MORTALSYNONYM
42
Orphan of British literature : EYRE
43
M.D. specialty : ENT
44
Man on a mission, maybe : PADRE
46
From one perspective : INASENSE
51
Wall Street and Madison Avenue : NEWYORKMETONYMS
53
One side in the Peloponnesian War : ATHENIANS
54
Theater : ODEUM
55
New Mexico's ___ Ski Valley : TAOS
56
Record flaw : BLOT
57
"Buona ___" (parting phrase in Italy) : NOTTE
Down
1
Arctic residents : SAMI
2
Acquainted with : UPON
3
Papal name last used in 1958 : PIUS
4
Was a high school sprinter, say : RANTRACK
5
Third-largest city of the Roman Empire : ANTIOCH
6
Lunch container, for some : PAIL
7
Roosters ... or not roosters? : HENS
8
Big Apple subway line : IRT
9
Something exploited by a tax adviser : LOOPHOLE
10
Safety icon : SMOKEY
11
Antler part : TINE
12
Astronomical distance: Abbr. : LTYR
13
German electrical pioneer : OHM
16
Cuddles, in a way : SPOONS
18
Model ___ Wek : ALEK
22
Awkward : STICKY
23
European carp : BREAM
24
Delude : LIETO
25
It may hold the solution : AMPULE
26
Indian flatbreads : NAANS
27
John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen ___" : MEANY
28
It "refreshes naturally," in old ads : SALEM
29
Opposite of humility : EGO
32
Some univ. hirees : TAS
34
Part of a rack : SPARERIB
35
Company that owns the Seattle Mariners : NINTENDO
37
"Lie Down in Darkness" author, 1951 : STYRON
38
Rainmaker? : MONSOON
40
Changes the locks again? : REDYES
41
"Ooooh!" : NEAT
44
Prefix with byte that means 1015 : PETA
45
What Horton heard : AWHO
46
Mae West's "___ Angel" : IMNO
47
Fit (in) : NEST
48
Khrushchev's dissent : NYET
49
Some banned literature : SMUT
50
Salinger dedicatee : ESME
51
Commercial lead-in to Geo : NAT
52
Carrier to Seoul, for short : KAL

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?