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New York Times, Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1085/2/20064/7/201912
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612253614105
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 75, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JKQVXZ} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry. Grid has repeated answers This is puzzle # 96 for Mr. Collins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
This one went through six iterations before it was ready for prime time. The editors even asked me to consider ripping out my ... read more

This one went through six iterations before it was ready for prime time. The editors even asked me to consider ripping out my NEEDLEPOINT. It certainly constrains the fill near the apex of the SLATE ROOF. I begged and pleaded, and eventually Will and Joel allowed NEEDLEPOINT to stay.

In order to keep SWEET, NEEDLEPOINT, and the angled SLATE ROOF down the center column, I had to fill ??W?LT and ??E?PR. For the first one, the solution I came up with was Patton OSWALT – perhaps not a household name in a lot of households. Joel and I had to twist Will's arm to get OSWALT to stay – and just for the record, we twisted his left arm so as not to impede his table tennis career. For the second, I needed to pull FREE PR out of thin air. I was quite proud of that entry until Byron Walden stole some of my thunder. He debuted BAD PR while my puzzle sat in the queue. Is there a grumbly-faced, fist-shaking emoticon? If so, insert one here.

Overall, I hope the grid has a COMFY, cross stitch vibe to it (IDI AMIN notwithstanding).

Jeff Chen notes:
Very pretty graphic, with a THREE / STORY / HOUSE and its SLATE ROOF memorialized in NEEDLEPOINT. HOME / SWEET / HOME indeed! I ... read more

Very pretty graphic, with a THREE / STORY / HOUSE and its SLATE ROOF memorialized in NEEDLEPOINT. HOME / SWEET / HOME indeed!

Be it ever so humble ...

I was amazed by how much Pete packed in today, especially THREE / STORY / HOUSE right atop each other. It's very hard to stack three specific answers when you have no flexibility. Then you throw in SLATE ROOF to further constrain things. I was worried at how many compromises Pete would have to make — and that was before I realized NEEDLEPOINT was part of the theme!

Pete did a nice job of deploying his black squares to separate the themers. You absolutely have to use some so THREE / STORY / HOUSE doesn't interact much with the SLATE ROOF. Then, the NEEDLEPOINT intersecting the SLATE ROOF has to be separated from HOME / SWEET / HOME as best as possible, otherwise you're forced to make a ton of compromises.

What with the enormous level of inflexibility — I can't remember when I've seen a puzzle constrained to this level — I like Pete's result. Sure, I hit RUHR / OTOE, SHERE, MEECE (ugh), ISERE right off the bat, but none of them are horrendous. And throughout the puzzle we get some of the usual suspects like ESSO, OPEL, DER, MAI, STE, but there's not a major offender in there. Some would even argue that ESSO is perfectly fine, since it's a major Canadian gas brand.

PHOEBES … apparently it's a fairly common bird in the Americas? Even after piecing it together from the crosses, I stared at the word in DISbelief. Some poor older solvers might choke on the OTOH crossing, four letters that will look random to non-texters. Even knowing that one, somehow PLOEBES seemed more plausible to me.

ASHTONS is a more clear-cut case. Not only is it a pluralized name, inelegant to start with, but it takes up a valuable 7-letter slot. Missed potential; could have been something as fun as CEDILLA.

All in all though, it's actually MUCH less crossword glue than I had expected, given the off-the-charts level of constraints. It's such a fun and pretty image; well worth the trade-offs to me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0607 ( 24,318 )

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Across
1
Shapes of bacilli bacteria : RODS
5
Snug : COMFY
10
North-of-the-border station : ESSO
14
State that voted Republican by the highest percentage (73%) in the 2012 presidential election : UTAH
15
River to the Rhône : ISERE
16
Sporty car feature : TTOP
17
With 18- and 19-Across, classic song that starts "'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam" : HOME
18
See 17-Across : SWEET
19
See 17-Across : HOME
20
Company shake-up, for short : REORG
22
Hero war pilot : ACE
23
Suit coat feature : LAPEL
24
Popular setting for 17-/18-/19-Across : NEEDLEPOINT
27
Hagen of stage and screen : UTA
29
Fanatic : NUT
30
GPS suggestion: Abbr. : RTE
31
Was down with : HAD
34
Swinger's target at a party : PINATA
36
Yale, affectionately : OLDELI
38
Façade feature : CEDILLA
40
Small flycatchers : PHOEBES
41
Korean performer with a monster 2012 international hit : PSY
42
Jeanne d'Arc, e.g.: Abbr. : STE
44
1974-75 pigskin org. : WFL
45
Pastoral poem : IDYL
47
With 53- and 56-Across, certain abode : THREE
49
Certain military hazards, for short : IEDS
52
Evening, in ads : NITE
53
See 47-Across : STORY
54
Q*___ (1980s arcade game) : BERT
55
Homer Simpson cry : DOH
56
See 47-Across : HOUSE
57
"___ Rosenkavalier" : DER
58
Bygone Ugandan despot : IDIAMIN
61
Oxide in rubies and sapphires : ALUMINA
64
Harvesting machines : REAPERS
65
Possession of property : TENANCY
66
What initials on something may signify : ASSENT
67
Where femurs are located : THIGHS
Down
1
Germany's ___ Valley : RUHR
2
Indian tribe that lent its name to a county in Nebraska : OTOE
3
Classical exemplars of steadfast friendship : DAMONANDPYTHIAS
4
Hite of "The Hite Report" : SHERE
5
Modern prefix with gender : CIS
6
Comedian Patton ___ : OSWALT
7
Little rodents, jocularly : MEECE
8
Having one's business mentioned in a news article, e.g. : FREEPR
9
Up to now : YET
10
Patriot Allen : ETHAN
11
Avert more serious losses : STOPTHEBLEEDING
12
Four or five, say : SOME
13
German-based G.M. subsidiary : OPEL
21
How George Harrison's guitar "weeps" : GENTLY
23
Hide out : LIELOW
25
Like many exhausts : DUAL
26
"Looking at it a different way," in texts : OTOH
27
Something a scanner scans, in brief : UPC
28
20-20, e.g. : TIE
32
Stein filler : ALE
33
Insult, informally : DIS
35
Dairy ___ : AISLE
37
"Clear!" procedure, for short : DEFIB
39
Actor Kutcher and others : ASHTONS
40
Watches intently : PEERSAT
43
Pants, in slang : TROU
45
Former Indian P.M. Gandhi : INDIRA
46
Semiconductor devices : DIODES
47
Improper attire at a fancy restaurant : TSHIRT
48
Hole in one's shoe : EYELET
50
Make sopping wet : DRENCH
51
Humane Society pickups : STRAYS
59
Hairy primate : APE
60
Not-so-hairy primates : MEN
62
Durham sch. : UNH
63
___ tai (drink) : MAI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

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