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New York Times, Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Author:
Rich Proulx
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
36/29/20176/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0101100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68000
Rich Proulx

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Proulx. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Rich Proulx notes:
I had been wanting to do a puzzle about SEVEN WONDERS for quite a while. I just couldn't figure out how to squeeze 'Mausoleum at ... read more

I had been wanting to do a puzzle about SEVEN WONDERS for quite a while. I just couldn't figure out how to squeeze "Mausoleum at Halicarnassus" and "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" into a puzzle. It wasn't until I finally accepted that I couldn't fit the wonders into a grid, that this idea was born.

All credit for the cluing goes to the NYT staff. Some of my original clues were a bit trickier (e.g. [Flag holder in Congress] for LAPEL, [England's Rose, to Elton John] for LADYDI), and some of my thematic clues were harder to unravel without the reveal (e.g. [Amazon heroine] and [Where to find a magic mushroom] for (WONDER)WOMAN and (WONDER)LAND, respectively).

The calculation appears to be that the difficulty of the theme + day of the week + low word count = easier cluing = a more enjoyable solve! I particularly liked [Subdivision of a subdivision].

Jeff Chen notes:
That feeling of déjà vu … I liked today's execution better than the FOURTEEN / POINTS one. Enough theme ... read more

That feeling of déjà vu

I liked today's execution better than the FOURTEEN / POINTS one. Enough theme density to feel solid, but not enough to cause migraine-inducing constraints. Some great choices, too – STEVIE (WONDER) with a quote about vision, (WONDER) WOMAN one of my favorite superheroes, (WONDER) PARENT (my wife) …

Where were the others again?

I highlighted them below. Not sure why the theme clues weren't starred this go-around. I worry that I'm going to get a lot of "THIS @#$! CLUE IS WRONG WRONG WRONG YOU @#$#@! MORON" emails.

(WONDER)ful.

Speaking of wrong, I'd have liked for all the clues to feel jarringly incorrect. That was the case for WOMAN, since there was no movie titled as such, but I breezed through BREAD, BRA, and DRUG. The clues felt a tiny bit off, but not enough to make me pause.

Good spacing of the seven themers + revealer. Note how spread out they are. It'd have been great to place one set in the NW / SE corners, but I have a feeling that SEVEN WONDERS in the SE might not make that possible.

Even with good spacing, it's still a tough job to fill the grid. It ended up not smooth enough for my taste, what with AGIN (oof!), AMO, IT AN, KOR, OISE, DROITS, ABLARE. Part of the issue is that the seven WONDERS do still interact somewhat – note how ONE HIT, BRA, and STEVIE start forcing things like AGIN, ITAN, and ABLARE. A better usage of black squares, further separating these three themers, would have helped.

The hugeness of the NW / SE corners is something to be avoided in grid design. Even though those corners are hardly constrained, see: DROITS, OISE. OVERFILLing ought to be a PSA subject – break up your big spaces, constructors!

A fine idea, and just about perfect theme density for this theme type. But I'd have much preferred a 74- or 76-word grid, allowing for a more elegant final product.

Jim Horne notes:
Until Jeff highlighted the theme answers, I didn't realize they were distributed symmetrically in the grid. Nice touch. In 1989, ... read more

Until Jeff highlighted the theme answers, I didn't realize they were distributed symmetrically in the grid. Nice touch.

In 1989, Kazuo Ishiguro won the Booker Prize for his novel The Remains of the Day. Oh, right, he later won this other thing – the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Like many people, I read that book and then wondered what else this wonderfully restrained and understated British novelist had written, so I turned to Never Let Me Go. The clue at 19 Across calls it "dystopian" and it's certainly that. It's also about as far from Remains stylistically and thematically as you can get.

Both books are well worth reading and both were adapted for film. Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were among eight Oscar nominees for Remains. Never Let Me Go was a much less successful film. Stick to the book on that one.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0605 ( 25,411 )

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Across
1
Variety show lineup : ACTS
5
Home shopping channel : QVC
8
Longtime product with a "Classic White" variety : BREAD
13
Weight of an empty container : TARE
14
Mideast federation, for short : UAE
15
Ancient source of prophecy : ORACLE
16
Exceed the capacity of : OVERFILL
18
Doze : NODOFF
19
2005 dystopian novel adapted into a 2010 film : NEVERLETMEGO
21
Pastries with a portmanteau name : CRONUTS
22
Intoned : CHANTED
26
Tick off : ENRAGE
27
Not backing, in the backwoods : AGIN
28
Loan letters : APR
29
Arp and Duchamp output : DADAART
31
In ___ of : LIEU
32
Place for a pin : LAPEL
35
Popular lingerie item owned by HanesBrands : BRA
36
Co-owner of the Pequod : PELEG
37
Word with rain or rock : ACID
38
Mellow R&B tune : SLOWJAM
40
Range org. : NRA
41
"I'd consider ___ honor" : ITAN
42
Legal rights, in France : DROITS
46
Graffitist, e.g. : DEFACER
48
Expanse far from ports : OPENSEA
49
Monuments of classical antiquity ... or what literally is missing from this puzzle : SEVENWONDERS
51
The People's Princess, familiarly : LADYDI
54
English churchyard flora : YEWTREES
55
Title girl in a 2001 Oscar-nominated French comedy : AMELIE
56
Beehive State native : UTE
57
River of northern France : OISE
58
Big superhero film of 2017 : WOMAN
59
It's divided by the 38th parallel: Abbr. : KOR
60
Some fund-raising grps. : PTAS
Down
1
Without delay : ATONCE
2
Setting for a Pirates of the Caribbean ride : CAVERN
3
___ Noah, host of "The Daily Show" : TREVOR
4
Wooed à la Don Giovanni : SERENADED
5
Participated in a bee : QUILTED
6
Low-lying areas : VALES
7
European of the Iron Age : CELT
8
Heavy ankle-high shoe : BROGAN
9
Danger in a uranium mine : RADON
10
Prefix with conscious or catastrophe : ECO
11
Landon who lost to F.D.R. in 1936 : ALF
12
Surely, informally : DEF
15
Bad artist to re-sign to a record deal : ONEHIT
17
Thrifty : FRUGAL
20
Quick Draw ___ (Hanna-Barbera character) : MCGRAW
23
Follow : TAIL
24
Blade with a bell guard : EPEE
25
Miraculously effective medicine : DRUG
27
Brother of Moses and Miriam : AARON
30
Loud, as trumpets : ABLARE
31
Sour candy : LEMONDROP
32
Domain of the Queen of Hearts : LAND
33
Subdivision of a subdivision : ACRE
34
"La Vie en Rose" singer : PIAF
36
Raise : PARENT
38
He said "Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision" : STEVIE
39
Big name in customer satisfaction surveys : JDPOWER
41
Stranded during the winter, say : ICEDIN
43
Response to "Look!" : ISEEIT
44
Mother of Calcutta : TERESA
45
Gives some lip : SASSES
47
Havens : ASYLA
48
Have a loan from : OWETO
50
Three Stooges laugh sound : NYUK
51
Counselor's subject : LAW
52
"I love," to a Latin lover : AMO
53
Like F.D.R.: Abbr. : DEM

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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