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New York Times, Saturday, June 27, 2015

Author: Tim Croce
Editor: Will Shortz
Tim Croce
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333/12/20106/27/20151
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01332816
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 27 Missing: none – this is a pangram This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Croce. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Tim Croce notes: Usually, when I start with a formation of black squares, it's not particularly close to what I end up with. But this is an exception. ... more
Tim Croce notes:

Usually, when I start with a formation of black squares, it's not particularly close to what I end up with. But this is an exception. I usually like to start with stacks of 8, 9, or 10 and intersect them with stacks of 5 or 6, because that's what usually works. Whenever you intersect stacks of 7 or more with other stacks of 7 or more, that's when it gets challenging.

Did you find yourself solving five mini-puzzles instead of one puzzle? I hope not too much. This puzzle is a bit compartmentalized — there are only two ways into each corner. So I tried to make enough entries at the entry points into the corners so that (a) solvers wouldn't get stuck from entering a corner by two unfamiliar entries, and (b) the entries would be recognizable from the letters in the middle. That is, if you were working from the middle out, or from one corner to the middle then into another corner, you wouldn't (I hope) get shut out of a corner due to unfamiliarity.

A constructor's personality, it's said, comes through in their grids. One may surmise that, with two video game references, one of which being a seed entry, I am a big gamer — but I've never owned a video game console. Nor have I or would I ever use BARQ'S or anything like it. However, I did include 60-Across (PGA TOUR) and 1-Down (PAR FIVE) and did clue 4-Down (FOOTE) with two of my favorite things in mind.

By the by, for 52-Across... my original clue ("One starting a movement?") would definitely be better served for my website than for the Times. I appreciate that Will wanted to keep the clue at least a little palatable and — pun intended — didn't want to push it.

Jeff Chen notes: Eye-catching grid, something so clock-like to it. Tim stuffed so many Scrabbly letters into the center mini-puzzle — a J, a Q, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Eye-catching grid, something so clock-like to it. Tim stuffed so many Scrabbly letters into the center mini-puzzle — a J, a Q, and three Xs, done with polish and finesse. And with such sparkly answers — SICK JOKE, AMEX CARD, HOT WAX, and RAGE QUIT — I can't remember when I've enjoyed a tiny subsection quite this much.

Amex's black card, aka the Centurion. Not sure why, but I want one ...

It is just one of five areas in the grid, however (sorry, Tim!). The layout chops up the square into pieces, making my solve go like a countdown from five to one.

Hey, maybe it is a clock mini-theme!

With each of the four corners featuring intersecting triple-stacked 7s in wide-open areas, it's a wonder that Tim got all of these sections to fall. After deploying so many of your blocks on the middle — with stellar results — you gotta pay the piper at some point. Surprisingly, Tim gets the lower right cleanly, with just ENTHUSE, which seems odd to me without a final D. Pretty impressive!

Ending up with answers like SLEEKED and DESTINE though, is not ideal. Neither of these words are 100% bogus, but on the bogosity scale, they strike me as above average.

Mike Shenk once said that the constructor's task is to devise a puzzle that challenges the solver, and provides a test that he/she can ultimately win. I felt like the top left corner was a game rigged against me. I loved the PAR FIVE clue (an "ace" is slang for a hole-in-one) and should have gotten ARIOSOS quicker. But I don't know that I would have ever gotten the RICO ACT / FOOTE crossing. I'm sure others will feel differently, but that soured my solving experience, as I struggled with that tiny intersection for 20 minutes and then realized that it was a waste of time, as I would never have solved it.

Being a constructor is a tough game. Should NYT readers know RICO ACT or FOOTE ... or both? Judging by Tim's reaction to FOOTE, maybe I really ought to have known that. And the RICO ACT does seem like an important piece of legislation. But with four basically random letters in RICO, it'd have been so much more satisfying for me if each had been crossed with non-esoteric names. (Who's to say what's "esoteric," though!)

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0627 ( 23,972 )
Across Down
1. Bluegill or crappie : PANFISH
8. Iceberg neighbor : ROMAINE
15. Rice variety used in rice pudding : ARBORIO
16. The Amu Darya no longer feeds it : ARALSEA
17. Mob law? : RICOACT
18. Follower of un favor : GRACIAS
19. They can be right-leaning : FONTS
20. Cause of dejection : WOE
22. One of Jesus' brothers, in baseball : MATTY
23. All-clear indication? : ISEE
24. Hires competition : BARQS
26. Head of technology? : NANO
27. Veiled statement? : VOW
28. Tea Party goals : TAXCUTS
30. Game-ending exclamation : GIN
31. English teacher's stack : ESSAYS
33. Product of a twisted sense of humor : SICKJOKE
35. Itself, in a Latin legal phrase : IPSA
37. Knot holder : TREE
38. Handsome surgeon's nickname on "Grey's Anatomy" : MCDREAMY
42. Was piggish, say : OINKED
46. Québec's ___ Jésus : ILE
47. What many people do on vacation : SLEEPIN
49. Plastic finish? : INE
50. Slush pile item, for short : SASE
52. "Excellent mornings guaranteed" product : EXLAX
53. Expansion group? : FATS
54. Try to swipe : HITAT
56. Core of a tablet, briefly : CPU
57. Dinosaur in many Nintendo games : YOSHI
58. Brand name whose middle letter is capitalized for no apparent reason : ARIZONA
60. Presidents Cup runner : PGATOUR
62. Mustang, e.g. : PONYCAR
63. Champion : ESPOUSE
64. Made smooth and glossy : SLEEKED
65. Fought agin : RASSLED
1. What an ace is rarely seen on : PARFIVE
2. Relatives of recitatives : ARIOSOS
3. "Dateline" group : NBCNEWS
4. "The Young Man From Atlanta" Pulitzer winner, 1995 : FOOTE
5. They can roll over, briefly : IRAS
6. Editorial qualification : SIC
7. Brazilian supply : HOTWAX
8. Leave an online game in a huff : RAGEQUIT
9. Subject of a statue outside Boston's TD Garden : ORR
10. "Thank you, ___" : MAAM
11. U.S.-built route that's mostly outside the U.S. : ALCAN
12. "Do we have the green light?" : ISITAGO
13. One whose work is picking up? : NEATNIK
14. "C'mon ... gimme a challenge!" : EASYONE
21. Meanies of fantasy : ORCS
24. Its logo was the U.K.'s first registered trademark : BASSALE
25. Denmark sold it to the U.S. in 1917 : STCROIX
28. Enters with keys : TYPES
29. Tangled mass : SKEIN
32. Ball or strike lead-in : AIR
34. Garner, for short : JEN
36. Plastic that's often green : AMEXCARD
38. Blooper reel highlights : MISHAPS
39. Born Blonde brand : CLAIROL
40. Foreordain : DESTINE
41. Business review company with a 2012 I.P.O. : YELP
43. Korean compact : KIASOUL
44. Bubble over : ENTHUSE
45. On a wish list : DESIRED
48. Twain's Tom Canty, e.g. : PAUPER
51. The Godfather of Gangsta Rap : EAZYE
53. Commercial pictures? : FOTOS
55. Half-a-second sound : TOCK
57. Talks, talks, talks : YAPS
59. Duncan's dissent : NAE
61. It auctions off used fed. property : GSA

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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