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New York Times, Monday, July 11, 2016

Author: Freddie Cheng
Editor: Will Shortz
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77/12/20107/4/20180
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1.62000
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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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.

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