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New York Times, Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
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Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes: First of all, I'd like to give a shout-out to the 'fan club' that coalesced briefly to lambast the fill on my 'Eight Letter' ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

First of all, I'd like to give a shout-out to the "fan club" that coalesced briefly to lambast the fill on my "Eight Letter" puzzle of 4/14/15. I affectionately refer to them as the ... (drumroll) ... H8ers (rimshot).

Moving quickly along, I've often thought that hidden-word puzzles are a bit like "word sandwiches," so this was my attempt to capitalize on that notion. HAM SANDWICH, with 11 letters, would have allowed another theme entry, but a three letter word sandwich didn't seem kosher to me. I wasn't very optimistic about this puzzle since BEACH EROSION seemed less than heroic and my submitted puzzle had an awful section of dreck fill in the middle. I actually had AEDES crossing AIDER — a real bad neighborhood. However, much to my surprise, the puzzle got the green light from Will on the first go-round.

Later I tried to talk Will into "THE OLD SWITCHEROO" as an additional 16-letter theme entry thru the middle but he was not interested in that tricky little transformation. Also, I suggested adding blocks to the middle to improve the fill, but I found out Will had already had Frank Longo clean that up. He did it by moving two blocks instead of adding two blocks- much more elegant. Frank is an ace solver and does a lot of NYT puzzle work behind the scenes with little or no recognition — thank You Frank Longo (and Will and Joel), for making some of us constructors look smarter than we really are!

Jeff Chen notes: HERO SANDWICH interpreted as 'phrases with HERO sandwiched within.' For this theme type, I like it when an additional step is layered ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

HERO SANDWICH interpreted as "phrases with HERO sandwiched within." For this theme type, I like it when an additional step is layered in, i.e. FIREMAN or EL CID or RUTH BADER GINSBERG (aka The Notorious RBG) is hidden within the themers instead of just HERO. Seeing HERO over and over gets a bit repetitive. But I did like the phrases PITCHER OF BEER and LEARN THE ROPES, both vivid and lively.

The Notorious RBG!

The 12/13/13/12 lengths of themers is a very difficult arrangement. Notice how HERO SANDWICH is in row 12, not the usual row 13? It has to be, otherwise you'd get a set of two-letter words in the lower left. This compression of themers means there's not as much breathing room as usual.

And those 13-letter entries are so awkward to integrate. Bruce does well to weave CHEESE PIZZA and URBAN SPRAWL through three themers each. It's a tough task to find strong entries when you have so many constraints.

Those Zs at the end of PIZZA sure make filling the bottom right tough. Not a lot of options when you have ?Z?? right on top of another ?Z?? pattern. Nearly impossible to avoid two gluey bits down there. EZIO and EZER are of course fine names of famous people, but they sure make it a tough early-week solve.

Given the fact that you already have a gluey bottom right corner, I would have liked to see the AERO/RUER/AGRO confluence removed. As much as I like the Z and the kookiness of the AZERA name brand, changing that to ADELE (BAEZ to BRED or BLED) would have cleaned up that corner quite a bit.

Overall, I enjoyed going back to see what the top three themers had in common, finding HERO sandwiched in. I think in the future though, this theme type is going to go the way of the "words than can follow X" — it'll need to have some extra element to keep it interesting. Who knows what that extra layer will be — crazy Scrabbly words hidden, specific HEROes as listed above ... or something completely different? I'm looking forward to finding out.

JimH notes: The NYT published this amusing correction: The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 1-Down, seeking the answer 'Baa ... more
JimH notes:

The NYT published this amusing correction: The crossword puzzle on Tuesday provided an erroneous clue for 1-Down, seeking the answer "Baa Baa." The clue should have read, "Salutatory cry to a black sheep, in a nursery rhyme" — not "Black sheep's cry, in a nursery rhyme" — because it is the unnamed speaker of the rhyme (not the sheep, of course) who says, "Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?"

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0602 ( 23,947 )
Across Down
1. Creator of Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion : BAUM
5. Broadcast : AIRED
10. Temptress : VAMP
14. Incantation starter : ABRA
15. Part of a drum set : SNARE
16. It has space for one pupil : IRIS
17. Cal. or Calif., for California : ABBR
18. "Good job!" : KUDOS
19. Cry at a deli counter : NEXT
20. Problem caused by ocean storms : BEACHEROSION
23. Writer Rand : AYN
24. English poet Wilfred ___ : OWEN
25. Swimwear material : LYCRA
29. Secys., e.g. : ASSTS
31. Jamboree org. : BSA
33. Warm greeting : HUG
34. Bar order for the whole table : PITCHEROFBEER
39. Concerning : INRE
41. Gas stations on turnpikes, say : OASES
42. Commercial prefix with -flot : AERO
43. Pick up basics : LEARNTHEROPES
46. Statute : LAW
47. Smart ___ whip : ASA
48. Hyundai luxury sedan : AZERA
51. Water balloon sound : SPLAT
53. Not fully open : AJAR
56. Faux ___ : PAS
57. Sub ... or a literal hint to 20-, 34- and 43-Across : HEROSANDWICH
61. Name that completes the old slogan "Dirt can't hide from Intensified ___" : TIDE
64. Part of the winemaking process : AGING
65. Opera singer Pinza : EZIO
66. Light blue : AQUA
67. Easily hurt : FRAIL
68. ___ Weizman, 1990s Israeli president : EZER
69. Not new : USED
70. In need of a back rub, say : TENSE
71. Cut back on, as expenses : PARE
1. Black sheep's cry, in a nursery rhyme : BAABAA
2. Nuns' homes : ABBEYS
3. Phenomenon facilitated by freeways : URBANSPRAWL
4. Fashion designer Jacobs : MARC
5. In a crooked way : ASKEW
6. Become less sensitive (to) : INURE
7. Dangerous gas : RADON
8. Inspiration for a troubadour : EROS
9. He played Ricky to Lucille's Lucy : DESI
10. Joe Pesci title role : VINNY
11. Live : ARE
12. Hodgepodge : MIX
13. Winter L.A. clock setting : PST
21. Coveted late-night gig : HOST
22. Patron saint of Norway : OLAF
26. Pie with no extra toppings : CHEESEPIZZA
27. Regretful one : RUER
28. Farming prefix : AGRO
30. Balcony, for one : TIER
31. ___ Rabbit : BRER
32. Nothing special : SOSO
35. Supplies in emergency shelters : COTS
36. "Good joke!" : HAHA
37. Relative of -ish and -ian : ESE
38. Folk singer Joan : BAEZ
39. Misfortunes : ILLS
40. ___ tide : NEAP
44. Silver of fivethirtyeight.com : NATE
45. Pal on the range : PARD
49. More risqué : RACIER
50. On dry ground : ASHORE
52. On the horizon : AHEAD
53. Kind of flu or pear : ASIAN
54. Arlo's partner in the funnies : JANIS
55. It's right at 90 degrees : ANGLE
58. Marooned sailor's means of escape : RAFT
59. Meanie : OGRE
60. Spill tears : WEEP
61. Upsilon preceder : TAU
62. Mensans' prides : IQS
63. Expected : DUE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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