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New York Times, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Author:
Ned White
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
221/16/20106/27/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1105258
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59010
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
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C
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S
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T
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9
M
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M
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A
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C
U
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O
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C
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D
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P
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Q
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U
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O
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D
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V
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B
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G
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H
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40
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W
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H
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© 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: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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