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New York Times, Monday, June 3, 2019

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8912/9/19799/30/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
663142130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610912
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 86 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Too bad this one wasn't run during the (GOOD) DOG days of summer. (That may be for the best since there are no such things as good ... read more

Too bad this one wasn't run during the (GOOD) DOG days of summer. (That may be for the best since there are no such things as good dogs days of summer, says this self-professed West coast weather wimp.)

I was curious if this set of commands – STAY, HEEL, COME, SIT, SHAKE, DOWN – was a tight, complete set. FETCH and BEG were the one other one-worders that felt like they belonged. Hard to find phrases that can hide them, though, so I like the set Lynn chose.

The themers are a mix of one-worders, hyphenations, and two-worders. I would have preferred more consistency, which should have been possible, given how common all six words are. But at least Lynn didn't have five of one and a single outlier. A diverse mix is the next best thing to 100% consistency.

Not as smooth and newb-friendly as a usual Lempel grid. Hmm. Why is that?

One of the curiosities of grid design is that it's often difficult to start with an 8-letter themer. 9-10 letters is ideal.

But Jeff, doesn't a longer themer introduce more constraints? Surely, the shorter the better?

(You were expecting me to drop a "length matters" joke, weren't you? I admit, I thought about it.)

Check out the NE and SW corners. See how chunky they are? That's primarily dictated by the eight-letter MAINSTAY forcing a six-square width in the NE. It's possible to break up that space more than Lynn did, but that's not a trivial task. With that much space, it's tough to avoid a couple of clunkers like METRES and the less common EGO(t)ISM, or toughish entries that might trip up newer solvers, like MEDINA / CLOVIS / ANISE.

I did enjoy some of the longer fill — OUTCAST and SEMIPRO were fun bonuses. Note Lynn's pro use of cheater squares at the end of OUTCAST and beginning of SEMIPRO. These made her filling job easier at the expense of shortening those long slots, but she was still able to make good use of them.

As a dog-lover, I enjoyed the overall IDEE. A couple of longer themers like SPIKED HEEL or DOUBLE DOWN could have both brightened and eased the solving experience, though.

1
L
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P
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A
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L
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F
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K
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B
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S
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M
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K
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M
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F
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G
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B
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A
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A
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G
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O
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K
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Y
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L
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D
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K
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C
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H
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M
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M
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P
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H
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A
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D
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0603 ( 25,409 )
Across
1
33 1/3 r.p.m. records : LPS
4
Cher or Adele, musically : ALTO
8
Allude (to) : REFER
13
Annoy : IRK
14
Building for bovines : BARN
15
Mogadishu native : SOMALI
16
*Chief source of support : MAINSTAY
18
Self-centeredness : EGOISM
19
___ fixe (preoccupation) : IDEE
20
General Mills puffed corn cereal : KIX
21
Distances in Britain : METRES
22
*Chapel Hill athlete : TARHEEL
24
Pyromaniacs' pleasures : FIRES
25
Monogram for Long John Silver's creator : RLS
26
Cut (off) : LOP
27
Outbuilding for storage : SHED
30
Quarrel : ARGUE
33
Yankee great Yogi : BERRA
35
Park or Madison, on an N.Y.C. map : AVE
36
Bouncy youngster in Pooh's crowd : ROO
37
Praise after a proper response to the end of the answer to each starred clue : GOODDOG
39
Kesey who wrote "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" : KEN
40
Vow sworn at the altar : IDO
41
Round Mongolian tents : YURTS
42
Wary : LEERY
44
Spot for a teacher's apple or Apple : DESK
46
Virtuous conduct, in Confucianism : TAO
47
Dot follower in a website address : COM
48
Pass, as a law : ENACT
50
*"Why?" : HOWCOME
54
Saudi city where Muhammad is buried : MEDINA
56
One running for office, informally : POL
57
Noteworthy periods : ERAS
58
First king of the Franks (A.D. 481) : CLOVIS
59
*Tend an absent resident's property : HOUSESIT
61
M.L.B. division that includes the Astros : ALWEST
62
Prefix with tasse meaning "half" : DEMI
63
Word before "blastoff" : ONE
64
Uptight : TENSE
65
Harmonious, after "in" : SYNC
66
Originally named : NEE
Down
1
Outer boundary : LIMIT
2
Devil's fashion choice, in a Meryl Streep film : PRADA
3
Person on a slippery slope : SKIER
4
Midsection muscles, briefly : ABS
5
Potato treats for Hanukkah : LATKES
6
Backpacker's path : TRAIL
7
Black, banded gemstone : ONYX
8
Radioer's "Got it" : ROGER
9
Is melodramatic : EMOTES
10
*Equitable treatment : FAIRSHAKE
11
Otherwise : ELSE
12
Edges, as of craters : RIMS
15
Athlete getting part-time pay : SEMIPRO
17
India's first P.M. : NEHRU
23
Plaintive poem : ELEGY
24
Fiestas and Fusions : FORDS
26
Resulted in : LEDTO
28
___ and anon : EVER
29
Reject as false : DENY
30
Extremely dry : ARID
31
Went as a passenger : RODE
32
*Soft bedding material : GOOSEDOWN
33
Title character in a Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary : BORAT
34
Radiant : AGLOW
38
One rejected by a group : OUTCAST
43
Roast host : EMCEE
45
Butchers' tools : KNIVES
47
Op-ed offering : COLUMN
49
Plant seed with a licoricelike flavor : ANISE
50
Poppycock : HOOEY
51
"Citizen Kane" star Welles : ORSON
52
State that's the largest U.S. producer of lobsters : MAINE
53
Beauty mogul Lauder : ESTEE
54
Exam for a wannabe doc : MCAT
55
Her: Fr. : ELLE
56
Degrees after M.A.s : PHDS
60
Error indicator in a quotation : SIC

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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