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New York Times, Monday, June 2, 2014

Author:
Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
666/12/20009/23/201937
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74692200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63217
Andrea Carla Michaels

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {V} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 43 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrea Carla Michaels notes:
I could write an ESSAY about this, but I'll keep it short! (Relatively...for me). I simply liked the simplicity of 'S.A.' phrases and ... read more

I could write an ESSAY about this, but I'll keep it short! (Relatively...for me). I simply liked the simplicity of "S.A." phrases and that it was a play on the pronunciation of ESSAY.

Tried to make all five interesting, mostly excited about SNOOZEALARM and SMARTALECK. The crowning moment for me was to realize SYDNEYAUSTRALIA was a perfect 15. It was not SHEERAGONY to make!

As always, I envisioned this as a Tuesday, because of the non-immediate obviousness of the theme, the fact that there were five theme entries, plus a reveal.

The clues were left 90% intact. One exception, I had 21A "___ Eye for the Straight Guy" which was one of my favorite guilty pleasures back in the day. I saw every episode...twice! Not thrilled to have QUEER defined as "Odd", but that certainly is one definition.

Wanted to liven it up with QUEER, QATAR, SMUTTY, JIFF and WAHOO crossing with MAGOO. Needless to say, this was originally a pangram, but the V magically disappeared when Will's intern Joel redid the bottom SE corner which was LAVA/OUST/CVS/KAT and is now MANE/SUNG/CNN/KEG.

I'm happy all around but didn't really remember the impetus etc. from a year ago. I was heavily involved with a book of essays on not having had children. The book is called No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood. When I googled ESSAY to find when I submitted this puzzle, 200 emails came up around the same date about the book. So ESSAY must have been something seared in my brain.

Jeff Chen notes:
Strong puzzle to start the week. Initialism themes (two-word phrases which begin with the same letters) are commonplace, so one must ... read more

Strong puzzle to start the week. Initialism themes (two-word phrases which begin with the same letters) are commonplace, so one must go the extra mile to distinguish them. Acme does just that, by 1.) choosing superb theme answers, 2.) incorporating five of them, and 3.) throwing in a phonetic revealer, ESSAY. Very well executed, one I would have picked for the POW if it weren't for another puzzle coming up this week.

Aren't you curious now?

Bwa ha ha, I'm not going to say anything! Ah, schadenfreude.

Not only does Acme choose five themers, but they're long ones. A grid-spanner in the center actually is easier to incorporate than a 9 or an 11 or a 13 in the middle, but it still ain't easy. And look at the others — it wouldn't be bad at all if they were 8's or 9's. Tens and elevens are another story completely. Her layout is about the best configuration possible (leaving as much space in between themers as possible), but look at how much overlap there is between SHEER AGONY and SNOOZE ALARM, for example. That's sheer agony right there. Acme squeezes a few blocks between those answers, but that 20A slot is daunting. DO NOT feels a bit partial-ish to me, but a good clue ([Forbidding words?]) helps to save it.

At the opposite corner sits the other tricky spot. It comes out nice and smooth though, only USDA as a small blight. With both SUPERB and SMUTTY in that section, it's a winner in my book. Overall, a very smooth solve for me, one I'd be happy to give to a neophyte friend to try out.

Ah, the pangram. It's subjective, with many constructors (and some solvers!) trying for (or looking for) it at every turn. QATAR and QUEER slide right in, so I'm grateful to see the Q there. Not always the case with pangrams, which can feel to me like a J or Q or Z is jammed in with a hammer and chisel.

Personally, I like the reworked corner better, as KAT is slightly iffy in my book. But in this case, I can definitely see a case being made for Acme's original corner. The smoothness levels here are roughly equivalent, which is not always something I can say with pangram vs. non-pangram.

Finally, a great clue for AXLES, [Ones keeping the wheels turning?]. Fun wordplay here, plus a shout out to Journey's "Wheel in the Sky." I enjoy it when I leave a puzzle humming. Puzzles make me smile in general, and I really appreciate when the constructor/editor goes the extra mile.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0602 ( 23,582 )

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Across
1
Quick second : JIFF
5
Push : IMPEL
10
___ law (physics formulation) : OHMS
14
One who Googles, e.g. : USER
15
"Yippee!" : WAHOO
16
"Go ahead!" : DOIT
17
Total misery : SHEERAGONY
19
Capital of Norway : OSLO
20
Forbidding words? : DONOT
21
Odd : QUEER
22
$20 bill dispenser, briefly : ATM
25
Sleep extender : SNOOZEALARM
28
"Beats me!" : NOIDEA
30
Horse feed : OATS
31
___ uncertain terms : INNO
32
Cubs slugger Sammy : SOSA
33
Long-distance inits. : ATT
36
2000 Olympics site : SYDNEYAUSTRALIA
41
Suffix with lion : ESS
42
Hair job at a salon : PERM
43
Wild guess : STAB
44
Prefix with pad or port : HELI
45
Top-notch : SUPERB
47
Founding father who had a beer named after him : SAMUELADAMS
52
Bit of sunshine : RAY
53
Midterms, e.g. : EXAMS
54
Piano exercise : ETUDE
56
___ mater : ALMA
57
Wisenheimer : SMARTALECK
62
Bar mitzvah boy, barely : TEEN
63
Divide 50-50 : SPLIT
64
Flowing hair : MANE
65
Concordes, in brief : SSTS
66
Kind of test ... or a phonetic hint to 17-, 25-, 36-, 47- and 57-Across : ESSAY
67
Like carols at Christmas : SUNG
Down
1
Roast beef au ___ : JUS
2
Relative of -esque : ISH
3
Doctor's charge : FEE
4
Wilma's hubby on "The Flintstones" : FRED
5
"All ___ Do" (Sheryl Crow hit) : IWANNA
6
Nearsighted Mr. of cartoons : MAGOO
7
Snapshot : PHOTO
8
Long, long time : EON
9
Myrna of "The Thin Man" : LOY
10
Nonalcoholic beer brand : ODOULS
11
Book between Daniel and Joel : HOSEA
12
Middle-distance runner : MILER
13
Blizzard or hurricane : STORM
18
Valentine's Day flower : ROSE
21
Persian Gulf emirate : QATAR
22
Absinthe flavor : ANISE
23
Stage statuettes : TONYS
24
Keeps an eye on : MINDS
26
Crazy places : ZOOS
27
3:00, on a compass : EAST
29
___ Juan (ladies' man) : DON
32
1 + 2 + 3, e.g. : SUM
33
Tweak, say : ALTER
34
Pageant crown : TIARA
35
Striped cat : TABBY
37
Fencing weapons : EPEES
38
Holler : YELL
39
Prima donna's delivery : ARIA
40
Cleopatra's killer : ASP
44
Earthlings : HUMANS
45
Raunchy : SMUTTY
46
Fed. food inspector : USDA
47
Goals for musical chairs players : SEATS
48
Ones keeping the wheels turning? : AXLES
49
Playwright David who wrote "Glengarry Glen Ross" : MAMET
50
Mergers and buyouts : DEALS
51
Skylit courtyards : ATRIA
55
Street-lining trees : ELMS
57
U-turn from NNW : SSE
58
Hunters of AWOLs : MPS
59
Water, in Waterloo : EAU
60
Wolf Blitzer's channel : CNN
61
Big beer order : KEG

Answer summary:

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