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New York Times, Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Author:
Jeff Stillman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
61/28/20146/18/20190
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0042000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57010
Jeff Stillman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JX} This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Stillman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Stillman notes:
I find it curious that oftentimes my seed entry ends up out of the puzzle when it's all done. Either I find better entries or there's ... read more

I find it curious that oftentimes my seed entry ends up out of the puzzle when it's all done. Either I find better entries or there's no symmetrical partner for the seed. The seed for this particular puzzle was RAISING McCAIN ("Parenting a future Arizona senator?"), which couldn't find a partner. Another casualty of the puzzle occurred when I realized via a Google search that Nanny McPhee wasn't spelled Nanny McFee (giving me a LATE McFEE). Oops.

As an ardent fan of "Back to the Future" I was sorry to have to SACRIFICE McFLY (sorry, Marty!) but BAR McFLY and FIRE McFLY weren't quite hitting the mark lengthwise, plus they were chopping up the words barfly and firefly rather than having the first word be standalone as in other entries. And DANCING McQUEEN was an early favorite (makes for an amusing mental picture), but it was one 14-letter entry too many.

I was particularly pleased that this one was accepted on its first submission (though I see a few entries were tweaked). Makes me feel like I'm getting better as a constructor. Then again, I also got a couple of rejections this past week, so there's always room for improvement!

Jeff Chen notes:
Jeff Stillman drops the (MC) hammer today, adding MC to regular phrases to produce celeb-related kookiness. I lost the 'guess the ... read more

Jeff Stillman drops the (MC) hammer today, adding MC to regular phrases to produce celeb-related kookiness. I lost the "guess the early-week theme" game today when I confidently entered BEING SPOCK for [Autobiography of a "Star Trek" doctor].

There's so many things wrong with that. Someone rip up my nerd card.

I often stay away from constructing "kooky result" themes, because Will and I have vastly different opinions on what's fun / funny. None of these felt particularly entertaining. They work, but this is not a theme I'm going to highlight to my gym friends.

(Oddly, most all of my climber friends do crosswords. I wonder if there's some curious climbing/crosswords link, like the well-established math/music connection.)

It's a shame that DANCING MCQUEEN got left on the cutting-room floor. Made me smile to think about ultra-macho Steve McQueen going on "Dancing with the Stars."

Personal reaction aside, kudos to Jeff for picking solid base phrases and doing the transformations consistently – all two-word phrases, and MC added to the start of the second word each time.

What stood out most was the long fill. The usual long down spots were already great, B VITAMINS / TAPAS BAR and CLIP CLOP / PIPE DREAM lovely. But then there were so many mid-length bonuses woven in. MARIAH. SUMATRA. SENECA. IM A MESS. Even HAYDEN – if you didn't know it (like me), it's not something you see every day. In a good way.

Heck, even some of the short stuff stood out in a good way, like YUCCA, AKITA, DONUT.

All in all, such careful consideration of each and every long or mid-length slot. Color me impressed with Jeff's worksmanship.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0618 ( 25,424 )
Across
1
Science class adjuncts : LABS
5
Tyrannical : HARSH
10
Losing casino roll : CRAP
14
Double-apostrophe contraction : IDVE
15
Tough watchdog : AKITA
16
Old Italian capital : LIRE
17
Autobiography of a "Star Trek" doctor? : BEINGMCCOY
19
Mental flash : IDEA
20
Afternoon affair : TEA
21
Rib : KID
22
Audre Lorde or Lord Byron : POET
23
Kill off a major "Back to the Future" character? : SACRIFICEMCFLY
27
Neighbor of Borneo : SUMATRA
28
Zero : NIL
29
Pal for Pierre : AMI
30
Mates for does : HARTS
33
Birthstone for some Scorpios : TOPAZ
37
Typesetter's choice : FONT
39
Attach, as a button : SEWON
41
Languish : PINE
42
English class assignment : ESSAY
44
Part of a baker's dozen : DONUT
46
It might sit on a sill to cool : PIE
47
Brand of cooking spray : PAM
49
Lament about one's sorry appearance : IMAMESS
51
Film star Danny hurriedly leaving the set? : RUNAWAYMCBRIDE
56
Mayberry sot : OTIS
57
Bemoan : RUE
58
Medit. country : ISR
59
Something to watch on the telly, with "the" : BEEB
60
Help film star Steve recover from an action sequence? : ICEMCQUEEN
65
Marine menace : ORCA
66
Man in a cast : ACTOR
67
After-Christmas event : SALE
68
Bleacher feature : TIER
69
Impetuous : HASTY
70
Give off : EMIT
Down
1
Justin Trudeau's party: Abbr. : LIB
2
End of a sweet drink? : ADE
3
Niacin and riboflavin : BVITAMINS
4
Five Nations tribe : SENECA
5
Lunch meat : HAM
6
Org. associated with the Westminster show : AKC
7
"___ and the Flash" (2015 Meryl Streep movie) : RICKI
8
Stone-faced : STOIC
9
New York's ___ Planetarium : HAYDEN
10
Bygone street sound : CLIPCLOP
11
No longer plagued by : RIDOF
12
Spinning : AREEL
13
Like some fertilizer : PEATY
18
Singer Brooks : GARTH
23
Jumbo combatants : SUMOS
24
Some "traditional" investments, for short : IRAS
25
Got along : FARED
26
Sch. on the bank of the Charles : MIT
27
Unlikely to cause controversy : SAFE
31
Number of words in the shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) : TWO
32
Kind of boom : SONIC
34
Wildly improbable goal : PIPEDREAM
35
Ouzo flavor : ANISE
36
Scrabble 10-pointers : ZEES
38
Restaurant with small dishes : TAPASBAR
40
Like an arm that's been slept on too long : NUMB
43
Pilot's problem : YAW
45
___ Aziz, Iraq War figure : TARIQ
48
Singer Carey : MARIAH
50
Improper application : MISUSE
51
Unpaid factory worker : ROBOT
52
Wombs : UTERI
53
Family girl : NIECE
54
New Mexico's state flower : YUCCA
55
Assembles : MEETS
61
"Bon" word : MOT
62
Show sorrow : CRY
63
___ Lilly & Co. : ELI
64
Stocking material : NET

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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