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New York Times, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Author:
Jeffrey Wechsler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
187/17/19699/12/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0145710
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.581101
Jeffrey Wechsler

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes:
This puzzle uses a tried-and-true gimmick: removing one letter of a two-letter set (here, removing the O from OU) to create a new ... read more

This puzzle uses a tried-and-true gimmick: removing one letter of a two-letter set (here, removing the O from OU) to create a new word. When submitting a puzzle like this, the constructor risks rejection by not offering an utterly fresh concept. It then becomes a matter of whether the editor thinks the transformations in the theme entries are clear, clever and, of course, funny. That latter quality is the hardest to attain.

In this puzzle, the first three theme answers provide, I think, the most humor (FUR ON THE FLOOR is my favorite). They also were able to elicit terse, natural-sounding clues, which makes the overall experience more satisfying. The last two are, in my opinion, perfectly fine but a bit more standard.

I was interested to see that the editorial process set the cluing at a rather easy level; for the New York Times, it seems like a Monday or Tuesday puzzle to me. Perhaps the gimmick itself was deemed not appropriate for early-week crosswords. Anyhow, I hope solvers enjoy it.

Jeff Chen notes:
Oh no! Or should I say, O no? Seriously, with all the crossword love Yoko gets, no ONO in the grid today? Pretty easy to find ... read more

Oh no! Or should I say, O no? Seriously, with all the crossword love Yoko gets, no ONO in the grid today?

Pretty easy to find words that become other words by removing an O. But it's hard to come up with themers that amuse. I thought Jeffrey did well in that regard, nearly all of them somewhat chuckle-worthy. CURSE CORRECTION was fantastic as a censor's job, and who doesn't like a PROPER NUN?

FUR ON THE FLOOR and CURT REPORTERS weren't as funny to me, as they weren't quite as ridiculous as I like in this type of theme. Or perhaps it's the fact that this cat owner has a ton of fur on his floor ...

For such a simple letter removal theme, it would have been nicer to have no other Os in the themers at least. Why take an O out of NOUN, but not PROPER?

O wait! Oh, you. Took me a while, but I realize after reading Jeffrey's note that it's not just a simple O removal, but an OU to U switch. Ah, that makes it much better. There aren't nearly as many words that can work like this. My bad.

Solid gridwork. Threading in a GOOD FAIRY, BULLFINCH, GETS READY, HIRES A CAR … although, I squinted at GOOD FAIRY at first. Are there bad fairies? Apparently yes! And HIRES A CAR sounded off, but I ain't no Brit, guv. So overall, good bonuses.

I appreciated the smooth grid, too, just an EER to hold it all together. Strong craftsmanship, especially considering the five long themers and the extras in the fill.

Wish I had realized there was more than just an O removal when I was solving. Too bad there wasn't a revealer to make me realize that.

Oh you, Jeffrey …

JimH notes:
I just returned from Scotland where, yes, I hired a car, meaning I rented it for a week. It's a phrase that often amuses Americans.
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0620 ( 25,061 )
Across
1. Bit in a fish tank : ALGA
5. June celebrant, for short : GRAD
9. Having trouble with : BADAT
14. Repeating segment of computer code : LOOP
15. Q5 or Q7 : AUDI
16. Lump in one's throat : UVULA
17. Well-behaved sister? : PROPERNUN
19. Lustrous fabrics : LAMES
20. "That doesn't seem right" : ODD
21. Dangerous virus : EBOLA
22. Cuba ___ (cocktail) : LIBRE
23. Evidence of a cat fight? : FURONTHEFLOOR
26. Quite distant : AFAR
28. Insult, informally : DIS
29. Spring sound : BOING
31. Serious damage to one's reputation : STAIN
34. "Westworld" airer : HBO
37. TV bleep? : CURSECORRECTION
40. Devious : SLY
41. Like chlorine gas : TOXIC
42. Swarm : HORDE
43. Important ID : SSN
44. Dangerous things to do at busy intersections : UEYS
45. Impolite press conference attendees? : CURTREPORTERS
53. Casanova's desire : AMORE
54. Critic with raised or lowered thumbs : EBERT
55. Nincompoop : ASS
58. ___ New Guinea : PAPUA
59. Part of the queen's tea service? : PALACECUP
61. Fix, as text : EMEND
62. Religious leader usually sporting a beard : IMAM
63. Up for something : GAME
64. Dangerous : RISKY
65. Unsupportive votes : NAYS
66. What teens do that most twentysomethings don't : GROW
Down
1. "Real dogs eat meat" sloganeer : ALPO
2. Title for Voldemort : LORD
3. Tinker Bell, e.g. : GOODFAIRY
4. Google Maps, for one : APP
5. About whom Bette Davis said "Her instinct, her mastery over the machine, was pure witchcraft" : GARBO
6. Extended sentence? : RUNON
7. 21+ : ADULT
8. Alice's cat in "Through the Looking-Glass" : DINAH
9. Small Eurasian songbird : BULLFINCH
10. Makes use (of) : AVAILS
11. Disney's fourth animated feature film : DUMBO
12. Final Oldsmobile model : ALERO
13. Alternative to a truncheon : TASER
18. Suffix with mountain : EER
24. Some catering equipment : URNS
25. Falco of "The Sopranos" : EDIE
26. Fundamentals : ABCS
27. Word with weather or ball : FOUL
30. Prepares : GETSREADY
31. Part of two major-league team names : SOX
32. Numerical prefix : TRI
33. A firecracker goes in one : ARC
34. Goes by livery taxi : HIRESACAR
35. Hairstyling factor : BODY
36. 111 things? : ONES
38. Roadwork indicator : CONE
39. Take the show on the road : TOUR
43. William who co-wrote "The Elements of Style" : STRUNK
45. Elaborate theft, in movies : CAPER
46. Taste quality : UMAMI
47. Know the ___ : ROPES
48. TV chef Jacques : PEPIN
49. U.S. president with the most southerly birthplace : OBAMA
50. Circuit section : RELAY
51. Some light rail options : TRAMS
52. And so on, briefly : ETC
56. Competition with minimal apparel : SUMO
57. Send out a jet : SPEW
60. Dinosaur's starting place : EGG

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle.

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