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New York Times, Thursday, June 18, 2015

Author: Jason Flinn
Editor: Will Shortz
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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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 10^15 : 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: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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