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New York Times, Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Author:
Alex Vratsanos
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/13/20115/23/20193
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3142313
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60040
Alex Vratsanos

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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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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