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New York Times, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Author:
Jake Halperin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
37/5/20177/24/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50000
Jake Halperin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 3 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Halperin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jake Halperin notes:
My original theme set had two CON*PRO* phrases and two PRO*CON*, which for some reason felt like the 'natural' or 'balanced' choice to ... read more

My original theme set had two CON*PRO* phrases and two PRO*CON*, which for some reason felt like the "natural" or "balanced" choice to me, and PROS AND CONS was broken up into three slots along the middle row. However, the editors pointed out that PROXY CONFLICT was of questionable idiomaticity, and as one might guess, that grid had poorer fill and very little to nothing in the way of long bonus entries. (We're talking 67 theme squares compared to 53). They suggested the current lineup, adding CONCLUSIVE PROOF, as well as the revealer placement.

I'm glad I was able to work in a few fun long downs, and it's nice to debut SANSA not long after the GOT finale. I can sort of see how her name has the potential to eventually become serious crosswordese, with those friendly letters.

Jeff Chen notes:
A lot of PROs and CONs in this puzzle! Long ago, I'd thought of a similarly thought-PROvoking CONcept, but I could only find PROXY ... read more

A lot of PROs and CONs in this puzzle! Long ago, I'd thought of a similarly thought-PROvoking CONcept, but I could only find PROXY CONTEST, PROCESS CONTROL, and some iffy ones like PROVOKING CONFLICT. I'd never considered flipping CON and PRO. I liked that this oddball notion opened up possibilities like CONCLUSIVE PROOF – that's a great phrase.

CONSUMER PROFILE and CONTENT PROVIDER aren't as sparkly, but they work. It made me curious to see what else was possible.

I liked CONCERT PROMOTER, CONTRACT PROVISO (sue me, I'm a nerd MBA), CONICAL PROJECTION (says the math dork), CONJUGATED PROTEIN (sense a pattern here?). The last three aren't as general-audience-friendly, but CONCERT PROMOTER would have been solid.

Why only three theme phrases? Part of it is that it's tough to fit in a fourth when you already have to work in PROS and CONS.

Er, CONS and PROS. Man, presenting them in reverse order still feels so weird. Makes me wish PESSIMIST had been incorporated into the grid to help explain things. That might have been too complicated for an early-week crowd, but the puzzle would have cohered much better.

Great bonuses, something that all three-themer puzzles need to feature. MIND BENDER, FATALISTIC, JET POWERED, UNBIRTHDAY? Yes yes yes yes! Jake did a great job spacing them out, too, keeping them well away from the PROS and CONS in the SE corner. Good planning.

There were some trade-offs, though; more than I would have liked. Is AMAJ ETAT (and ATEMPO to a lesser extent) worth JET POWERED, especially in an early-week puzzle? I think no, but I can see the other side of the coin. If there hadn't been so much AVOIR AM SO TMAN WTS YOS overall, it'd have been easier to overlook.

Tough call. Color vs. cleanliness is the eternal struggle for constructors. It's especially difficult in today's grid, since one usual fix — using a cheater square at the C of FATALISTIC — would mess up CONS.

Interesting concept, overall. I like it when someone comes up with a solution I never CONSidered PROSpecting.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0604 ( 25,410 )
Across
1
"We should totally do that!" : LETS
5
Key of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7: Abbr. : AMAJ
9
Ain't I a stinker? : SKUNK
14
Energy field, in holistic medicine : AURA
15
Made-up story : TALE
16
Rub the wrong way : ANNOY
17
Metal that rusts : IRON
18
Coup d'___ : ETAT
19
What a tabloid may be sued for : LIBEL
20
Need for targeted advertising : CONSUMERPROFILE
23
Medium for modern matchmaking : APP
24
Ghost in a haunted house, e.g. : MOANER
25
'60s conflict site : NAM
28
"That sounds painful" : OOF
30
Ozs. and lbs. : WTS
31
Danson of "The Good Place" : TED
34
Birdlike : AVIAN
36
A very long time : AGES
38
Neighbor of Pennsylvania : OHIO
39
Netflix or YouTube : CONTENTPROVIDER
42
Online option that turns into "show" when clicked : HIDE
43
Absence of complication : EASE
44
Profess : CLAIM
45
Sun or moon : ORB
46
UPS competitor : DHL
47
The longer of the two Morse symbols : DAH
49
"Hey" alternatives : YOS
50
Restaurateur Lagasse : EMERIL
53
Part of a headset : MIC
55
It settles a case : CONCLUSIVEPROOF
61
Classic hit : OLDIE
62
Catcher of counterfeiters, in old lingo : TMAN
63
Retort to "Are not!" : AMSO
64
Investigator : AGENT
65
[Same source as before] : IBID
66
Like drone bees : MALE
67
Pizza size : LARGE
68
Disadvantages found in this puzzle's three longest Across answers ... : CONS
69
... and advantages found in them : PROS
Down
1
Concerning the nonordained : LAIC
2
$ : dollar :: € : : EURO
3
Disney sci-fi classic : TRON
4
Eldest Stark daughter on "Game of Thrones" : SANSA
5
"Resume normal speed," in a score : ATEMPO
6
Each animal in Noah's Ark had one : MATE
7
First thing in the morning? : ALARM
8
Like 747s : JETPOWERED
9
Beauty parlors : SALONS
10
Butter spreader : KNIFE
11
"Occasion" celebrated 364 times a year in Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" : UNBIRTHDAY
12
"The First ___" (carol) : NOEL
13
"South Park" boy : KYLE
21
Leading by a single point : UPONE
22
___ Rizzo, hustler in "Midnight Cowboy" : RATSO
25
Cheesy snack : NACHO
26
French "to have" : AVOIR
27
Tough puzzle : MINDBENDER
29
Accepting destiny : FATALISTIC
32
Mi-mi-re-re-do, in a children's song : EIEIO
33
College accommodations : DORMS
35
Got full, say : ATE
37
How a smartphone knows where it is, for short : GPS
38
De-squeak : OIL
40
So-called "architect of India" : NEHRU
41
TV programming filter : VCHIP
46
Option with a trash can icon : DELETE
48
Making ___ : AMENDS
51
Host's task, informally : MCING
52
Something to bend over backward for : LIMBO
54
Athlete's leg problem : CRAMP
55
West Virginia resource : COAL
56
Gymnast Korbut : OLGA
57
Bigheaded : VAIN
58
Actor Sharif : OMAR
59
Scandinavian capital founded in the mid-11th century : OSLO
60
Enemies : FOES

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?