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New York Times, Monday, June 30, 2014

Author: Ed Sessa
Editor: Will Shortz
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Edward Sessa

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {GJQVZ} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes: Bobby Flay is my favorite celebrity chef. His name came to mind one day a couple of years ago and the four subsequent entries ... more
Edward Sessa notes: Bobby Flay is my favorite celebrity chef. His name came to mind one day a couple of years ago and the four subsequent entries followed immediately. When by some odd quirk the numbers added up symmetrically I figured I had nothing to lose by writing it up in a puzzle. Fortunately the term "yuppie flu" has fallen by the wayside as more is learned about the complex debilitating condition that is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Although declared "dead" in the early 90s by Time Magazine, the concept of the "yuppie," like the flu, keeps resurrecting itself, either intact or in mutated forms.

If you're not a big fan of vowel-progression puzzles (you know who you are), at the very least try Bobby Flay's paella and enjoy Herb Alpert's trumpeting in "Spanish Flea," preferably at the same time!

Jeff Chen notes: A vowel progression today, a phonetic one using all five long vowel sounds. Just as Ed mentioned, there will be haters who are tired ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A vowel progression today, a phonetic one using all five long vowel sounds. Just as Ed mentioned, there will be haters who are tired of vowel progressions. Any established theme type will have detractors. What matters to me though: does the puzzle delight me? In large part, Ed's themers did it for me. I don't know celebrity chefs, but I did recognize BOBBY FLAY, And I'm with Ed — it'd be treasonous not to like Herb Alpert's SPANISH FLEA. Unamerican, I say!

I personally like vowel progressions, especially when they're done like this. The long vowel sounds are nice to see in order, and I like how only 1/5 of them are spelled simply with the lone vowel. As Andrea Carla Michaels says, they're like poetry. Mellifluous. Of course, as with any art, taste is in the eye of the beholder. Er, the tongue.

I also appreciate how Ed stayed away from actual sicknesses in YUPPIE FLU. There are plenty of BIRD FLU, AVIAN FLU, SWINE FLU sort of answers (never mind that they don't match lengths with BOBBY FLAY) but I personally prefer to stay away from those. Finn Vigeland astutely asked me why I chose ASIAN FLU instead of AVIAN FLU on a puzzle earlier this year. ASIAN FLU to me refers to the financial crisis that swept throughout Asia, something I'd much rather think about instead of the killing disease, AVIAN FLU. Personal choice, anyway.

Puzzles with five themers will naturally have a higher degree of difficulty than ones with just four, and having a middle entry of length = 9, 11, or 13 will up that even more. Note how it effectively splits the puzzle in half, creating filling difficulties in all four corners. In just one corner, the SE, we have SO I, ERS, and DELE, all of which are fine on their own, but taken as a whole in a concentrated area is a bit rough. Same with the SW, where REN, SERENER ("more serene" more commonly, right?), DSL all appear. Tough to cleanly execute those 7 x 3 (really 7 x 3.5) corners.

I did really like the NE corner, where Ed treats us to the triple of THRILLA / TOP SEED / SOS PADS, with only ISP to glue it together. That's nice bonus material; a strong use of seven-letter spaces.

Often, a seven-letter middle themer makes for cleaner execution. In this case, it might have been possible with something like SHOO FLY! Or even better, SHOO FLY pie. (Mmm, pie.) I think this would have made it easier to avoid the aforementioned rough patches, plus the killer ASTA / FARO crossing. Seems to me that's a pretty unfriendly crossing for novices. Not that Will's goal is to make the NYT puzzle accessible to everyone in the world, but both entries strike me as inelegant, and to have them crossing each other makes it doubly so.

Fun start to the week, a very nice selection of sing-song themers.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0630 ( 23,610 )
Across Down
1. Airline to the Holy Land : ELAL
5. Finishes : ENDS
9. Baseball gloves : MITTS
14. N.Y.C. institution with works of Warhol and Dalí : MOMA
15. Italian currency before the euro : LIRA
16. Sound muffled by a handkerchief : ACHOO
17. Celebrity chef and host of the Food Network's "Boy Meets Grill" : BOBBYFLAY
19. Crooks, to cops : PERPS
20. Licorice flavoring : ANISE
21. For what reason? : WHY
23. AOL or EarthLink: Abbr. : ISP
24. Tell tall tales : LIE
25. Theme music for TV's "The Dating Game" : SPANISHFLEA
30. Majority of the contestants on "The Dating Game" : MEN
31. Equivalent of a Roman X : TEN
32. Pacified : LULLED
33. Bygone jets, informally : SSTS
35. Like a wet noodle : LIMP
38. Byways : ROADS
39. Insect that causes sleeping sickness : TSETSEFLY
42. Actor Davis : OSSIE
45. "The Thin Man" pooch : ASTA
46. ___ tape : DUCT
50. Proverbial place for bats : BELFRY
52. Biblical boat : ARK
54. "___ hear" : SOI
55. It's typically slow during rush hour : TRAFFICFLOW
58. Hosp. triage areas : ERS
59. Stimpy's TV pal : REN
60. One who plays for pay : PRO
61. Jackson 5 hairstyles : AFROS
63. Disentangled : UNDID
66. Dismissive term for chronic fatigue syndrome : YUPPIEFLU
69. Judges to be : DEEMS
70. Grand ___ (auto race) : PRIX
71. Remove, to an editor : DELE
72. Dashing Flynn of old films : ERROL
73. Sugar amts. : TSPS
74. Adriatic and others : SEAS
1. Mummifies, e.g. : EMBALMS
2. Fruitcakes : LOONIES
3. Surrounding, as sound : AMBIENT
4. Experiment sites : LABS
5. Santa's little helper : ELF
6. Nothing : NIL
7. Sketched : DRAWN
8. Give an informal greeting : SAYHI
9. Poster with a "You are here" label : MAP
10. Rink surface : ICE
11. ___ in Manila (Ali/Frazier fight) : THRILLA
12. Favorite entrant in a tournament : TOPSEED
13. Kitchen scourers : SOSPADS
18. Tues. vis-à-vis Wed. : YEST
22. Handbag monogram : YSL
26. Brazilian soccer legend : PELE
27. Singer Baker with the 1988 hit "Giving You the Best That I Got" : ANITA
28. Throw : HURL
29. "Pretty Boy" of crime : FLOYD
34. Completely unlike a wet noodle : STIFF
36. Author's submissions: Abbr. : MSS
37. Flower part : PETAL
40. Feudal peasant : SERF
41. Casino card game : FARO
42. Stick out : OBTRUDE
43. More calm : SERENER
44. Spoken slur : SLANDER
47. Charge for entering a park, e.g. : USERFEE
48. Flower part : COROLLA
49. Kleenexes : TISSUES
51. Pup's cry : YIP
53. "The Bridge on the River ___" : KWAI
56. Burial vault : CRYPT
57. On all ___ (crawling, say) : FOURS
62. G-men : FEDS
64. "If you ask me," in chat rooms : IMO
65. Internet connection inits. : DSL
67. "Great Expectations" boy : PIP
68. Stores for G.I.'s : PXS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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