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New York Times, Monday, July 11, 2016

Author:
Freddie Cheng
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
97/12/20107/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1232010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61000
Freddie Cheng

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Cheng. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Freddie Cheng notes:
The revealer definitely came first in this one, followed by the theme entries. The trick was to find good theme entries without ... read more

The revealer definitely came first in this one, followed by the theme entries. The trick was to find good theme entries without repeating the same middle O-letter word, but other than that, the whole thing came together pretty quickly.

Favorite non-theme entry for me is BLASTZONE, though I just noticed that there's a smattering of other somewhat military/violent vocab around the puzzle, with GIJOE / STAB / GORE / GASES / ONWATCH / REDS / EMBED / BULLET /SARGE — not intentional!

Jeff Chen notes:
Been a while since we had an initialisms puzzle. Kudos to Freddie for finding four phrases that fit the WOW pattern, especially ... read more

Been a while since we had an initialisms puzzle. Kudos to Freddie for finding four phrases that fit the WOW pattern, especially without repeating an O word. WALKS ON WATER is great, and so is WAR OF WORDS. I wasn't familiar with WALTZ OFF WITH — WALK OFF WITH sounded better to me — but some research shows it's legit. (And my toddler does seem to waltz off with all my stuff). Laurel and Hardy aren't really in my bailiwick, but a clue using the word "frontier" made it easy to get WAY OUT WEST.

Nice revealer in WOW FACTOR. I hitched slightly at first, as it didn't sound quite as catchy as ICK FACTOR or AHA MOMENT. But again, a little research shows it's in use. And in high use! (Shows what I know.)

WOW FACTOR was in an odd position for a revealer, though. As much as I like BLAST ZONE as an entry, the symmetrical pairing of these two made me wonder what the heck BLAST ZONE had to do with the theme. (Nothing.) It's very common to have a short revealer located in some spot toward the end of the puzzle (without a symmetrically paired theme entry), but something this long begs for a more elegant placement. Perhaps smack dab in the middle row of the puzzle.

No doubt, that would have made construction much harder. And Freddie already has a challenge in working with longish themers using a lot of Ws — not the easiest letter to incorporate. I'd expect the places with a lot of themer overlap to suffer, and that north section is a prime example (where WAR sits above OFF). That W takes away some flexibility, and a pile-up of ASWOON, ASSN, SNEE, and ORI is a rough way to kick off a Monday puzzle. Add in the assorted A SON, ESS, odd plural NOONS, TRE, and it doesn't have the smoothness I think a Monday puzzle ought to.

Still, there are some nice bonuses in the grid in HOOCH, ONE TWO. I wondered if MATCH WOOD was a real thing at first, but just like some of the aforementioned entries, I decided I liked it.

1
S
2
T
3
A
4
B
5
A
6
S
7
S
8
N
9
O
10
H
11
G
12
E
13
E
14
H
I
L
L
15
S
N
E
E
16
N
O
O
N
S
17
R
A
G
A
18
W
A
R
O
19
F
W
O
R
D
S
20
E
R
A
S
21
O
R
I
22
L
A
C
E
S
23
W
A
L
T
24
Z
O
F
F
25
W
I
T
H
26
Z
E
N
27
I
N
C
28
C
29
G
30
I
31
G
32
I
33
J
O
E
34
M
35
A
T
C
H
36
W
O
O
D
37
A
S
O
N
38
B
I
R
C
H
39
O
V
A
L
40
T
A
K
E
41
L
U
N
C
H
42
S
W
E
D
E
43
E
Y
E
44
E
L
S
45
O
O
F
46
W
A
L
K
47
S
48
O
N
W
A
49
T
50
E
51
R
52
S
53
A
R
G
E
54
T
R
E
55
C
A
M
E
56
W
A
Y
O
U
T
57
W
E
S
T
58
T
U
B
E
59
A
R
E
T
E
60
A
V
O
W
61
O
P
E
D
62
G
A
S
E
S
63
X
E
N
O
64
R
E
D
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0711 ( 24,352 )
Across
1
Jab with a knife : STAB
5
One of the a's in Nascar: Abbr. : ASSN
9
"Well, golly!" : OHGEE
14
What Jack and Jill went up : HILL
15
Bygone dagger : SNEE
16
Middays : NOONS
17
Sitar piece : RAGA
18
Heated argument : WAROFWORDS
20
Stretches in history : ERAS
21
"Either you do it ___ will!" : ORI
22
Shoe ties : LACES
23
Take while no one's looking, say : WALTZOFFWITH
26
___ Buddhist : ZEN
27
Relative of ltd. : INC
28
Some special f/x : CGI
31
Iconic action figure : GIJOE
34
Material in a fire starter set : MATCHWOOD
37
"Unto us ___ is given": Isaiah : ASON
38
Tree with papery bark : BIRCH
39
Not quite circular : OVAL
40
Have a midday meal : TAKELUNCH
42
Stockholm native : SWEDE
43
CBS symbol : EYE
44
Ernie who won the 2012 British Open : ELS
45
Response to a punch in the gut : OOF
46
Exhibits a superhuman ability : WALKSONWATER
52
Beetle Bailey's superior : SARGE
54
2 + 1 in italiano : TRE
55
Arrived : CAME
56
1937 Laurel and Hardy romp in the frontier : WAYOUTWEST
58
London subway, with "the" : TUBE
59
Mountain ridge : ARETE
60
Swear : AVOW
61
Newspaper piece with a viewpoint : OPED
62
Argon and xenon : GASES
63
Alien: Prefix : XENO
64
"Stop" lights : REDS
Down
1
Shakespeare's "The Taming of the ___" : SHREW
2
Pageant sparkler : TIARA
3
Like some pond growths : ALGAL
4
Detonation area : BLASTZONE
5
In a faint : ASWOON
6
Wolf (down) : SNARF
7
Feature of a font : SERIF
8
Opposite of paleo- : NEO
9
Doing sentry duty : ONWATCH
10
Illegal liquor, informally : HOOCH
11
What's seen in "Saw" : GORE
12
Termini : ENDS
13
Twisty road curve : ESS
19
Recoil slightly, as from an oncoming punch : FLINCH
24
10-pointer in Scrabble : ZEE
25
Halloween costume with a pointy black hat : WITCH
28
Shore recess : COVE
29
Prod : GOAD
30
Not working : IDLE
31
Entrance to a field : GATE
32
"By Jove!" : ISAY
33
Ha-ha elicitor : JOKE
34
Capital of Belarus : MINSK
35
Rainbow's shape : ARC
36
Pizazz ... or what 18-, 23-, 46- and 56-Across each has? : WOWFACTOR
38
Bit of ammo : BULLET
41
"Twenty Thousand ___ Under the Sea" : LEAGUES
42
Boar's mate : SOW
45
Boxing combo : ONETWO
46
Corresponded with : WROTE
47
Rock's Perry or Tyler : STEVE
48
"Ender's Game" author ___ Scott Card : ORSON
49
Stocking shade : TAUPE
50
Implant : EMBED
51
Clarinets and such : REEDS
52
Fleetwood Mac hit : SARA
53
Assents to the captain : AYES
56
What dogs' tails do : WAG
57
Sealing ___ : WAX

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?