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New York Times, Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
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David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 84 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes: I submitted this puzzle as a Thursday with the rebus squares uncircled. My idea was that the grid would be an archaeological ... more
David Steinberg notes:

I submitted this puzzle as a Thursday with the rebus squares uncircled. My idea was that the grid would be an archaeological dig site where solvers would uncover the "fossils" one by one, ultimately realizing that they spell TYRANNOSAURUS REX.

As for the actual construction process, I came up with this idea while I was waiting for a flight at JFK, and I built most of the grid in the airport terminal. I was especially excited about crossing DIG SITE with F[OS]SIL, and I made a point of making the rebus entries as lively as I could. When I got home, though, I realized there was a problem: My theme entry OEDIPUS R[EX] felt too similar to TYRANNOSAURUS REX. After redoing the bottom, I ended up with the current version.

Jeff Chen notes: FOSSILS … as rebuses? Not sure I get the rationale why fossilization would mean that things would shrinkify in this way? ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

FOSSILS … as rebuses? Not sure I get the rationale why fossilization would mean that things would shrinkify in this way? And wouldn't it be weird to find T. Rex pieces in proper left-to-right, top-to-bottom order?

Maybe it was an anal T.Rex?

Qualms about the theme's raison d'etre aside, great gridwork from David. Strong theme entries like I HEART RADIO, PLAIN TRUTH, IN ARMS REACH, etc. He did have a lot of flexibility in placing his rebus squares, but still, his ability to place them within fun, long entries was far from SPOTTY.

Neat to work in OS as part of FOSSIL, too!

I did wonder about GYM BUNNIES, though. At one time, I had that scored very high in our XWI Word List, but I downgraded it due to possible offense some might take. I reread some intertubes articles though, and it seems like since GYM BUNNIES can refer to any gender, and some GYM BUNNIES refer to themselves with that term … I still would much rather use GYM RAT, but that's personal preference.

OWIE got a fantastic clue – [Baby bump?] usually refers to when a woman starts to show, but what a great repurposing here.

Overall, great gridwork, with an interesting notion of crossword grid = DIG SITE. I'm still not sold on the theme execution using rebuses. I might have preferred a more Gorskian approach, the pieces forming the shape of a T. Rex head (like the "Jurassic Park" movie poster). I rarely say this, but perhaps this could have made for a better Sunday grid than a weekday.

But it's still a memorable idea.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0718 ( 25,089 )
Across Down
1. Big name in French perfumes : COTY
4. "Enough already!" : SHEESH
10. Wolf riders in "The Lord of the Rings" : ORCS
14. Movie villain with a red eye : HAL
15. Shout from a crow's-nest : LANDHO
16. Peel : PARE
17. Music-streaming giant : IHEARTRADIO
19. Work with a manuscript : EDIT
20. Sport of horse racing, with "the" : TURF
21. Workout-obsessed sorts, colloquially : GYMBUNNIES
23. Given (to) : PRONE
26. Egg-shaped : OVOID
27. Your dream partner : THEONE
29. Suddenly attack : FLYAT
31. What's-___-name : HER
32. Hard to please : CHOOSY
34. Flows out : EBBS
38. Fumble : ERR
39. Archaeologists' workplace : DIGSITE
42. Dog-___-dog : EAT
43. Willie who made "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series : MAYS
45. Operating system whose logo features a penguin : LINUX
46. Surrounding glow : AURA
47. Prepare to pray : KNEEL
50. Poor, as reception : SPOTTY
52. Garment with strings : APRON
54. Ostentatious : SHOWY
55. Unembellished facts : PLAINTRUTH
58. Part of a long line of Apples : IMAC
61. "___ be fun!" : ITLL
62. Close by : INARMSREACH
65. Interactive website feature : POLL
66. Renowned ancient orator : CICERO
67. When said three times, good name for a crew fraternity? : RHO
68. Southend-on-Sea's county : ESSEX
69. Mushrooms in miso soup : ENOKIS
70. + and = share one : KEY
1. Note of indebtedness : CHIT
2. Locale of a 12/7/1941 attack : OAHU
3. Madea's portrayer in a long-running film series : TYLERPERRY
4. Camera type, for short : SLR
5. ___ tip (quick acknowledgment) : HAT
6. Incense : ENRAGE
7. Water whirl : EDDY
8. Table evener : SHIM
9. "Whew!" : HOOBOY
10. Not requiring memorization, as a test : OPENNOTE
11. r's, in geometry : RADII
12. Was deeply affected, maybe : CRIED
13. Groups of reps : SETS
18. Hairdo that takes a long time to grow : AFRO
22. Sch. where The Cavalier Daily appears : UVA
24. Burned, in a way : ONCD
25. Classic soda brand : NEHI
27. Gender-neutral pronoun : THEM
28. Queen on Olympus : HERA
29. What each circled square in this puzzle represents : FOSSIL
30. "___ Eyes" (1975 hit) : LYIN
33. Look at wolfishly : OGLE
35. Mole : BEAUTYMARK
36. Transportation system that stops at SFO : BART
37. Time at a hotel : STAY
40. Heinie : TUSH
41. Product showcase : EXPO
44. Grammy-winning dubstep pioneer : SKRILLEX
48. Prefix with compete : NON
49. Draw in : ENTICE
51. Baby bump? : OWIE
52. Low choir section : ALTOS
53. Becomes tiresome : PALLS
54. Princess Fiona's savior, in film : SHREK
55. Appurtenance for a snowman : PIPE
56. Hostile encounter : RUNIN
57. It comes in a shell : TACO
59. Feeling in the long run? : ACHE
60. Bok ___ : CHOY
63. Source of inside info? : MRI
64. Cramped dwellings, for short : SROS

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

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