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New York Times, Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Author: Alex Vratsanos
Editor: Will Shortz
Alex Vratsanos
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
146/13/20117/25/20173
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3132212
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Vratsanos. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Alex Vratsanos notes: I had wanted to make a puzzle around this theme for some time, so on a tough day in spring 2015, I immediately felt better when ... more
Alex Vratsanos notes:

I had wanted to make a puzzle around this theme for some time, so on a tough day in spring 2015, I immediately felt better when I noticed that the phrase "scream at the world" contains the name MATTHEW. I already had some phrases for MARK, LUKE, and JOHN, so I went to work with inspiration from Chuck Deodene's March 31, 2010 puzzle (which had SPREAD THE WEALTH as a revealer). Over the course of several versions, George Barany and his team provided incisive and timely feedback, and Will and Joel further improved the puzzle with their editing touch. My favorite new clue is the one for TANK TOP, and I also enjoyed learning about the BLAIR House.

Jeff Chen notes: SPREAD THE GOSPEL interpreted as 'spread the names MATTHEW MARK LUKE JOHN through theme phrases.' Excellent selection of snazzy ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

SPREAD THE GOSPEL interpreted as "spread the names MATTHEW MARK LUKE JOHN through theme phrases." Excellent selection of snazzy themers, not an easy task given the constraints. Each one of them is sparkly, JOB HOPPING my favorite.

LUCKY ME is apter than most solvers might realize. For a puzzle that requires five themers, having a middle one that's seven letters long is SO much easier than nine, 11, 13, or 15 letters. (Fifteen letters is easier than 9, 11, or 13 letters, but that's another story.) A seven-letter middle themer allows the constructor to lay out the grid with so much flexibility, whereas 9+ letters means that he/she has to sort of cut the grid in half, top to bottom.

With "literalization" puzzles, I like the themers to perfectly fit the revealer. I dug the general idea today, but check out how smooshed together MATTHEW is within MEANT THE WORLD TO. There is a tiny bit of spreading at the start, but the TTHEW string isn't spread at all.

JOHN in JOBHOPPING is better. But something like DJANGO UNCHAINED spreads things out so much more nicely.

Tough to build a grid around five themers with both smoothness and snazz. I enjoyed RED SKELTON even though I didn't totally remember who that was — fun name — and GRAND JUROR made for another bonus. TANK TOP with its "bare arms" wordplay also added some fun. Along with WINDSOR and LAGASSE too, I thought Alex did well here.

Not as well in short fill. Too many of one type of crossword glue bogs me down, so three prefixes in ALTI, LACTI, TERA, weren't great. ABAFT is a toughie, although it has dictionary support. A DAY, B SIX (weird to spell out the number), ANON and it's too much for my desire for elegance in craftsmanship. I would have preferred fewer bonuses and dabs of glue, especially given how well Alex did with his colorful themers.

Neat idea, POW!-worthy if the themers had been spread out better.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0725 ( 24,731 )
Across Down
1. Discharge, as from a volcano : SPEW
5. Isn't rigid in one's ways : ADAPTS
11. Chrysler truck : RAM
14. Height: Prefix : ALTI
15. Protective embankment : ESCARP
16. He said that ambient music "must be as ignorable as it is interesting" : ENO
17. Was loved by : MEANTTHEWORLDTO
20. Zoë of "Avatar" : SALDANA
21. Didn't buy, say : LEASED
22. Know-it-all : SMARTALECK
25. Jason's vessel, in myth : ARGO
28. Underside of an 8-Down : PAD
29. Giga- x 1,000 : TERA
32. No holds ___ : BARRED
35. Captain Nemo's vessel : NAUTILUS
38. Oral health org. : ADA
39. Comment after a fortuitous happening : LUCKYME
41. Sound of reproach : TSK
42. It isn't recorded in a walk-off win : FINALOUT
44. First female speaker of the House : PELOSI
46. Chuck of "Meet the Press" : TODD
47. Louisa May Alcott's "___ Boys" : JOS
49. Erelong : ANON
50. Frequently going from one post to another : JOBHOPPING
55. Christmas ornament, e.g. : BAUBLE
57. Puts in a box : ENCASES
61. Evangelize ... or what this puzzle's circled squares do? : SPREADTHEGOSPEL
64. Equal at the start? : ISO
65. Enthusiastic response to "Who wants dessert?" : IDOIDO
66. Family history, e.g. : SAGA
67. Gen ___ : XER
68. Like emotions just after a tragedy : RAWEST
69. Craft company with a 2015 I.P.O. : ETSY
1. ___ Club : SAMS
2. Defendant's entry : PLEA
3. Shortening for a bibliographer : ETAL
4. House of Elizabeth II : WINDSOR
5. The Hartford competitor : AETNA
6. Note in the E major scale : DSHARP
7. Fly through, as a test : ACE
8. Hound's "hand" : PAW
9. Nuisance in an online comments section : TROLL
10. Shopping trip one may later regret : SPREE
11. Variety show host of 1951-71 : REDSKELTON
12. Cost to get in : ANTE
13. Emotional state : MOOD
18. Highlander's headwear : TAM
19. Milk: Prefix : LACTI
23. What gives you the right to bare arms? : TANKTOP
24. "There will come ___ ..." : ADAY
25. Toward the rear : ABAFT
26. NPR segment? : RADIO
27. One voting to indict or not : GRANDJUROR
30. Model-turned-actress Rene : RUSSO
31. Welcome at the front door : ASKIN
33. Certain office desk setup : ELL
34. Hip-hop's Kris Kross or OutKast : DUO
36. Call balls and strikes, informally : UMP
37. End of August? : TEE
40. Title canine in a Stephen King book : CUJO
43. Baked brick : ADOBE
45. Chef Emeril : LAGASSE
48. Is a leadfoot : SPEEDS
51. ___ House (Washington landmark) : BLAIR
52. Ibsen's "___ Gabler" : HEDDA
53. Gold standard? : INGOT
54. Pvt.'s superior : NCO
55. Vitamin whose name rhymes with a car engine : BSIX
56. Chapel recess : APSE
58. Dustup : SPAT
59. Dr.'s orders : EEGS
60. Knock dead at the comedy club : SLAY
62. Haul on a U-Haul : TOW
63. Rush : HIE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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