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New York Times, Thursday, July 19, 2018

Author:
Mike Knobler
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
17/19/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Mike Knobler

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {GJKQ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Knobler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mike Knobler notes:
Shhh! Please don't tell my dad I constructed today's puzzle. I don't think he reads the bylines, and I'd like to get his unbiased ... read more

Shhh! Please don't tell my dad I constructed today's puzzle. I don't think he reads the bylines, and I'd like to get his unbiased opinion before he finds out. We've been daily solvers for decades and often compare notes when we're done, such as the time my friend, Bobby, and I asked Dad about a four-letter entry, clued "Flat," that we got entirely from crosses but couldn't understand. I pronounced it over the phone as if it rhymed with plod, shod and trod. How else would you pronounce TWOD? Dad explained it, TWO-D, we all laughed, and Bobby and I still laugh about it 19 years later.

This is a long way of saying I apologize if you were tripped up by the hyphenated mini-theme, two entries I hope were much easier for you to parse than TWOD was for me. And here's hoping the puzzle didn't fall TWOD for Dad or for you. Previous versions of this grid featured crossed themers TIFFS and TOFFS at the center, but that put too much pressure on the fill. My favorite themers are FUTZ, such a wonderful word, TOFFS, because they do SNEER, and the iconic, but reportedly coincidental, 2001: A Space Odyssey letter shift of IBM/HAL.

Thanks to Will and his crew for selecting my puzzle, redoing the northwest corner, and retaining some of my clues. Although this is my constructing debut in any publication, it represents a return for me to newspapers. I was a sports writer and editor for 28 years for dailies in Cambridge, Mass., Savannah, Ga., Jackson, Miss., and Atlanta, although never for THESUN. Nowadays, I'm a tax lawyer in Silicon Valley.

Jeff Chen notes:
Rot! What? No, not what. Wot? Rot. ROT! ROT-X is a common encoding scheme = rotate by X places in the alphabet. Today we ... read more

Rot!

What?

No, not what. Wot? Rot. ROT!

ROT-X is a common encoding scheme = rotate by X places in the alphabet. Today we get words that become other words when subjected to ROT-1. HAL -> IBM is a famous one. (in the voice of the Church Lady) Well, how con-veeeeeen-ient!

I liked the NEXT PLEASE revealer hinting at ROT-1 SECRET CODE. Nice pairing there.

Just in case you missed them, here are the starred answers:

DUD -> EVE

ETSY -> FUTZ

SNEER -> TOFFS

TANKS -> UBOLT

OHMS -> PINT

HAL -> IBM

I was sure there would be longer examples, so I wrote some quick code to check. Not so! The longest example I could find was STEEDS -> TUFFET. Huh! I was all set to say that it would have been great to get "themers" that were longer than five letters. Shows what I know!

Pretty good gridwork, especially for a debut. Not a lot of pizzazz in the grid, but SIDE EFFECT and BLOODY MARY do the trick. And it's a rare debut where I can only pick out a few gluey bits – OMOO was the only one that stuck out, but ALC, CTA OLEO weren't bad.

Well, STELE and ENURE weren't great (the INURE spelling seems more common). Hmm.

Overall, I would have liked a sharper a-ha moment, perhaps searching for pairs of entries that have that coinky-dink feeling of HAL / IBM. I found SLY / TMZ with a quick glance. Would have been fun to open it up, using ROT-1 through ROT-26 to find more of these sly pairs.

But a nice debut concept nonetheless, NEXT PLEASE doing such a nice job of making things clear.

1
F
2
I
3
R
4
S
5
Y
6
A
7
C
8
H
9
T
10
U
11
S
12
S
13
R
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D
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T
15
A
L
L
A
H
16
M
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L
O
17
S
E
C
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18
E
T
C
O
D
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P
D
A
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T
A
H
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D
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S
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I
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V
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F
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Z
26
S
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C
27
C
E
S
S
28
A
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L
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B
E
R
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A
31
N
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N
E
R
F
33
L
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E
L
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O
35
T
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T
O
F
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F
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S
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O
M
O
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O
41
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R
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42
S
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P
E
E
P
44
U
B
O
L
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T
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E
R
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T
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C
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D
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L
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A
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X
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R
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0719 ( 25,090 )
Across
1. Christmastime purchases : FIRS
5. Vessel that's 1% full? : YACHT
10. American ally in W.W. II : USSR
14. Twist someone's words, say? : EDIT
15. God, to many : ALLAH
16. ___ Minderbinder, lieutenant in "Catch-22" : MILO
17. What the answers to the six starred clues follow, as hinted at by 66-Across : SECRETCODE
19. Old PalmPilot products, in brief : PDAS
20. Sauce for falafels : TAHINI
21. Lucy's bandleader husband : DESI
23. *Firework that doesn't work : EVE
24. *Crafts site : FUTZ
26. Something said to smell sweet : SUCCESS
28. Neighbor of a Montanan : ALBERTAN
32. Soft ball material : NERF
33. Short, for short : LIL
34. Poet who wrote "Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity" : ELIOT
36. *Contemptuous smile : TOFFS
39. 1847 novel partly set on a whaler : OMOO
41. Western New York Iroquois : ERIES
43. Slightest protest : PEEP
44. *Military vehicles : UBOLT
46. Upright : ERECT
48. Windy City rail org. : CTA
49. Places to hibernate : DENS
51. Chunnel train : EUROSTAR
53. Page designs : LAYOUTS
56. *Resistance units : PINT
57. *Shakespearean prince : IBM
58. Adds (up) : TOTS
60. Short, for one : MARTIN
64. Opposite of plummet : SOAR
66. Cry from behind a counter : NEXTPLEASE
68. Unadulterated : PURE
69. Woman's name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet : ELSIE
70. She: Sp. : ELLA
71. Band with the top 10 hits "Lady" and "Babe" : STYX
72. Participated in a bee : SEWED
73. Look (into) : PEER
Down
1. Ending with song or slug : FEST
2. "You have no ___" : IDEA
3. Worth a great deal : RICH
4. Conflict : STRIFE
5. First N.F.L. player on the cover of Sports Illustrated : YATITTLE
6. Wine label abbr. : ALC
7. Lump : CLOD
8. He was accompanied by the guard dog Cerberus : HADES
9. Biggest-selling newspaper in England : THESUN
10. First, second or third person : UMP
11. Unintended consequence : SIDEEFFECT
12. Major European ethnic group : SLAVS
13. What Moses supposes his toeses are, in an old verse : ROSES
18. Harden : ENURE
22. Rapper with the 1999 album "The Seventh Deadly Sin" : ICET
25. Where Ali won his 1974 world heavyweight title : ZAIRE
27. Trim : CROP
28. Surname of three baseball brothers : ALOU
29. Arm : LIMB
30. Vodka and tomato juice cocktail : BLOODYMARY
31. Like la nuit : NOIRE
35. Prepare to drive : TEEUP
37. Greek salad ingredient : FETA
38. Not fight seriously : SPAR
40. Margarine : OLEO
42. Economized : SCRIMPED
45. Flush fastener : TNUT
47. Like the Vietnamese language : TONAL
50. Old Beatles rival, with "the" : STONES
52. 17-time Best Actress nominee : STREEP
53. Targets for speech therapists : LISPS
54. Approximately : ABOUT
55. Many an ancient tombstone : STELE
59. Annual Austin media event, informally : SXSW
61. Whodunit, e.g. : TALE
62. It may be surrounded by beaches : ISLE
63. Approximately : NEAR
65. Alternative to Bowser : REX
67. Word with tongue or twist : TIE

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

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