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New York Times, Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Author:
Julie Bérubé
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
26/21/20165/7/20180
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0110000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51020
Julie Bérubé

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKWZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Bérubé. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Julie Bérubé notes:
I have always liked words games. As an adolescent, I played Scrabble with, and made crosswords for, my uncle — I am Quebecoise, ... read more

I have always liked words games. As an adolescent, I played Scrabble with, and made crosswords for, my uncle — I am Quebecoise, so this was in French. Newly married, I moved to the States, and my husband introduced me to the Sunday NYT puzzles — he doesn't regret this, but he now calls the pastime torture. Of course, we also came up with theme ideas and, eventually, I decided to try composing one… And I was hooked!

I've submitted a number of Sunday ones now, but nothing ever "tickled." Despair! One day, I was lighting a fire with old NYT pages, and came across a weekday puzzle with a hidden "fee fi fo fum" theme. Just nonsense syllables… I could do that, and it was accepted to boot! And the review and improvement process was surprisingly enjoyable.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun idea, SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS split into pairs of syllables, then worked into regular words and phrases. A couple of ... read more

Fun idea, SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS split into pairs of syllables, then worked into regular words and phrases. A couple of neat findings, LISTIC hidden in HOLISTIC and CALI inside SCALIA.

It's SUPER!

With mainly short(ish) themers, Julie had a chance to incorporate some nice long fill. This is usually tough for a debut constructor to do, so I much appreciated entries like MAINSAIL, GUITARIST, ARTEMIS, even some NEXT DAY MANCINI. Spices up the grid.

I would have loved some crossword symmetry. It felt inelegant to have the syllables strewn about the grid, i.e. SCALIA and VALID not in symmetrical places. Holding to symmetry would mean LISTIC, the middle set of letters, would have to be in the middle row, in something like HOLISTICS or LISTICLES or WENT BALLISTIC. A long(ish) middle entry does make the grid design much harder, but I think it would have been worth it.

I also hitched at the division of AL-I-DO-CIOUS into AL-ID-O-CIOUS. There's no way to hide DOCIOUS into another word, which is unfortunate. I suppose you can make the argument that since it's a made-up word, you can divide the syllables however you want. But it is listed in some dictionaries now — with the AL-I-DO-CIOUS syallables. So it does seem wrong as implemented.

With seven "themers," there was bound to be a bit of crossword glue. I was pretty impressed at the start of the puzzle. It felt like a smooth solve up top, just RENTA seeming inelegant since it's always preceded by DE LA.

Unfortunately, I hit more of the SAULT, ABAB, HOS, SLO, ALIS, TSE (Tokyo Stock Exchange), PSS offenders as I went. None is that bad by itself, but in aggregate it felt like a lot. It is a tough grid design — so many areas are affected by two or more "themers," which create constraints pretty much everywhere.

Still, an interesting idea with some fun ways of hiding those special syllables.

Jim Horne notes:

Timothy Polin had a similar theme last year.

1
A
2
R
3
O
4
M
5
A
6
B
7
R
8
O
9
M
10
E
11
C
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C
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A
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S
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P
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R
15
F
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D
16
A
Q
U
A
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17
P
E
T
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18
N
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R
M
I
19
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G
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M
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S
A
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26
F
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E
28
H
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N
29
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L
31
O
32
R
A
M
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33
H
O
L
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S
T
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C
35
A
B
A
B
36
S
37
C
O
O
T
38
L
E
N
T
39
I
L
L
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N
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L
A
N
G
E
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D
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S
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P
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D
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A
P
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B
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V
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G
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61
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63
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0621 ( 24,332 )
Across
1. Bakery attraction : AROMA
6. Mate : BRO
9. Muslim holy site : MECCA
14. Source of supposed extraordinary health benefits : SUPERFOOD
16. Shades of blue : AQUAS
17. They need signatures : PETITIONS
18. Paavo ___, 1920s Olympic gold medalist : NURMI
19. Designer Oscar de la ___ : RENTA
20. Justice who died in 2016 : SCALIA
21. James Bond, e.g.: Abbr. : AGT
24. Big part of a ship's rigging : MAINSAIL
26. Easily damaged : FRAGILE
28. Sacker of ancient Rome : HUN
29. ___-pitch : SLO
32. Spanish soccer star Sergio ___ : RAMOS
33. Of mind, body and spirit : HOLISTIC
35. Basic rhyme scheme : ABAB
36. "Scram!" : SCOOT
38. Fast time? : LENT
39. Where Reagan was born : ILLINOIS
41. Jessica with two Oscars : LANGE
42. Poor grade : DEE
43. Gobble up : EAT
44. Said quickly and angrily : SPATOUT
46. Makes amends for : EXPIATES
48. Nordic airline : SAS
49. Reconfigures, as a book to a screenplay : ADAPTS
52. "Enough, Enrico!" : BASTA
54. Well-founded : VALID
55. Band frontman, often : GUITARIST
59. Feminist author Jong : ERICA
60. God-awful : ATROCIOUS
61. Brazen : SASSY
62. Correspondent's afterthoughts, briefly : PSS
63. L'eggs shade : TAUPE
Down
1. Deadly Egyptian slitherer : ASP
2. Kick oneself for : RUE
3. Go (for) : OPT
4. Israel's fourth prime minister : MEIR
5. Apollo's twin sister : ARTEMIS
6. Baby's footwear : BOOTIE
7. "Brooklyn" actress Saoirse ___ : RONAN
8. Some E.R. cases : ODS
9. "Moon River" composer : MANCINI
10. 50-50 : EQUAL
11. Ringlet : CURL
12. Victoria's Secret buy, informally : CAMI
13. Where the 27-Down is : ASIA
15. Biggest determinant of a school grade, often : FINAL
20. ___ Ste. Marie : SAULT
21. Terror-stricken : AFRAID
22. 1940s pinup Betty : GRABLE
23. Steaming Mexican treat : TAMALE
25. "Scram!" : SHOO
27. Desert that ancient traders crossed : GOBI
29. Shorthand takers : STENOS
30. ___ franca (common tongue) : LINGUA
31. Some jazz groups : OCTETS
33. Syllables from Santa : HOS
34. Blind part : SLAT
36. Melodramatic shows : SOAPS
37. Queens's ___ Field : CITI
40. Overnight : NEXTDAY
41. Denouement : LASTACT
44. Way up or way down : STAIRS
45. Linguine sauce : PESTO
46. Heroic tales : EPICS
47. Borders : ABUTS
49. D.C.'s New York and Pennsylvania : AVES
50. Five-time Olympian Torres : DARA
51. Father-and-daughter boxing family : ALIS
53. Met solo : ARIA
55. ___ year (precollege experience) : GAP
56. Promising letters? : IOU
57. Have dinner : SUP
58. Market for Jap. shares : TSE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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