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New York Times, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Author:
Ned White
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
251/16/20109/11/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1206259
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58020
Ned White

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 22 for Mr. White. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ned White notes:
I could have sworn Sean Parker, in 'The Social Network,' advised Mark Zuckerberg to LOSE THE THE, and so it was with my original ... read more

I could have sworn Sean Parker, in "The Social Network," advised Mark Zuckerberg to LOSE THE THE, and so it was with my original submission. But the editors (who accepted the puzzle conditionally) and checking crew knew better, advised me as such, and in pretty quick time I lost the LOSE and dropped in the DROP — which in fact improved the fill. Good thing they're both four letters long.

I'm a fan of Chevy Chase and Kevin Bacon, and also a part-time physics nut, so three of the four themers felt in my wheelhouse. "What's matter?" is an enormous question, and still eludes me. And the revealer? Jesse Eisenberg (who played Zuckerberg) is flat-out brilliant as an actor, author, and humorist for The New Yorker, so it was with pleasure I could obliquely tip my hat his way.

Jeff Chen notes:
My a-ha moment was one of relief today. DROP THE THE is such a great phrase, uttered so well by Justin Timberlake (playing Sean Parker ... read more

My a-ha moment was one of relief today. DROP THE THE is such a great phrase, uttered so well by Justin Timberlake (playing Sean Parker in "The Social Network"). Suddenly, my growing annoyance that most of the theme phrases were missing the THE made sense! Hooray, it was just me being the idiot!

What, you're wondering why I said "most of the theme phrases"? Well, POP QUESTION seemed like a real thing at the time, just kookily defined. Why, you're wondering? I don't know. Maybe it sounds a bit like "pop quiz"?

And then WHATS MATTER felt like a different type of themer, perhaps playing on James Watt? Okay, he's technically not a physicist. So sue me.

Made for a confused Jeff. Not a bad thing, especially when it's just a temporary state.

Some nice bonuses worked in, SANTA HAT and ICE SKATES so pleasant. Baby Doc DUVALIER, not so much. Also not so much: SRTA ESTAB EOE SERIO ETO. I would have preferred fewer bonuses in exchange for more smoothiosity — along with DUVALIER, LATE LATIN didn't do a lot for me. ISNT IT TIME also felt weaker than SANTA HAT.

My general philosophy is that two strong bonuses in the fill are better than six that range from ho-hum to strong. Quality over quantity.

I love riffing on such a memorable phrase, DROP THE THE, so ripe for wordplay. Given that there are so many three-word phrases where the middle word is THE, I was hoping for funnier themers. And perhaps POP QUESTION seeming too much like a real thing was my fault, but I would have liked for every one of them to feel "wrong" in exactly the same way.

1
A
2
F
3
L
4
A
5
C
6
S
7
T
8
E
9
M
10
M
11
I
12
S
13
T
14
L
E
A
C
H
15
S
R
T
A
16
A
R
E
A
17
C
U
T
T
O
18
C
H
A
S
E
19
D
A
R
K
20
O
D
E
21
M
O
A
N
22
E
E
N
I
E
23
A
S
L
24
P
O
P
Q
25
U
26
E
S
T
I
O
N
27
A
28
I
S
L
E
29
N
A
T
O
30
A
31
N
T
S
32
D
U
V
A
L
33
I
34
E
35
R
36
B
R
I
N
37
G
38
S
39
H
O
M
E
B
A
C
O
N
40
S
A
N
T
A
H
A
T
41
S
E
E
S
42
I
S
I
N
43
S
44
W
45
A
T
S
46
W
47
H
48
A
T
S
M
A
49
T
T
E
R
50
K
51
O
52
S
53
R
A
T
T
Y
54
H
A
L
T
55
A
C
K
56
A
N
T
I
57
D
58
R
O
P
T
H
59
E
T
H
E
60
P
O
E
M
61
E
A
R
L
62
U
T
E
R
I
63
S
I
N
E
64
A
N
N
E
65
R
O
S
E
N
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0627 ( 25,068 )
Across
1
Insurance giant based in Columbus, Ga. : AFLAC
6
Brain or watch part : STEM
10
Waterfall feature, often : MIST
14
Archibald ___ (Cary Grant's real name) : LEACH
15
Latina miss: Abbr. : SRTA
16
Environment : AREA
17
Early "Saturday Night Live" camera command? : CUTTOCHASE
19
Noirish : DARK
20
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty" is part of one : ODE
21
Kvetch : MOAN
22
Start of an elimination : EENIE
23
Nonverbal communication, for short : ASL
24
"You want Pepsi or Coke?," e.g.? : POPQUESTION
27
One of two in many churches : AISLE
29
Its alphabet goes from Alfa to Zulu : NATO
30
Leavers of pheromone trails : ANTS
32
Haiti's Papa Doc or Baby Doc : DUVALIER
36
Chauffeurs the actor Kevin to his house? : BRINGSHOMEBACON
40
Christmas topper : SANTAHAT
41
Goes out with : SEES
42
"... as it ___ heaven" : ISIN
43
Hits into the outfield : SWATS
46
Basic query to a physicist? : WHATSMATTER
50
Lays flat : KOS
53
Squalid : RATTY
54
Cry after "Company" : HALT
55
Comic strip cry : ACK
56
Opposing voice : ANTI
57
Sean Parker's famous advice to Mark Zuckerberg in naming The Facebook ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 46-Across : DROPTHETHE
60
It "should not mean / But be," per Archibald MacLeish : POEM
61
"Downton Abbey" title : EARL
62
Sites for development : UTERI
63
___ qua non : SINE
64
English princess : ANNE
65
1953 A.L. M.V.P. Al : ROSEN
Down
1
Big name in foil : ALCOA
2
Animosities that may span generations : FEUDS
3
Source of many English words : LATELATIN
4
Law : ACT
5
Noisy bites : CHOMPS
6
What a slalom path has : SSHAPE
7
Calmer, in brief : TRANQ
8
Mysteries in the '16 film "Arrival" : ETS
9
Sallie ___ (student loan offerer) : MAE
10
Durable : MADETOLAST
11
Modern Persian : IRANI
12
Prefix with comic : SERIO
13
Like a seat with a coat over it, maybe : TAKEN
18
Aplomb : COOL
22
Founded: Abbr. : ESTAB
25
One, on a bill : UNUM
26
Gutter locale : EAVE
28
"Shouldn't everyone be doing this now?" : ISNTITTIME
30
Core muscles : ABS
31
Big D.C. lobby : NRA
32
One-third of an ellipsis : DOT
33
Sharp footwear : ICESKATES
34
Job ad abbr. : EOE
35
I.C.U. workers : RNS
37
Bloated, say : GASSY
38
Carpenter's leveler : SHIM
39
Tennis champ Mandlikova : HANA
43
Taro, in Hawaiian cuisine : STAPLE
44
Result of a lashing : WELT
45
Excalibur was his sword : ARTHUR
46
Concludes filming : WRAPS
47
Capital once ruled by France : HANOI
48
When some news is aired : ATTEN
49
Source of pain for a lion, per Aesop : THORN
51
Adobe color : OCHRE
52
Yarn unit : SKEIN
57
Narc's grp. : DEA
58
Managed : RAN
59
Ike's charge in W.W. II : ETO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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