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New York Times, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Author:
Emily Carroll
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
78/22/20166/30/20190
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1113100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57130
Emily Carroll

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Ms. Carroll. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Emily Carroll notes:
Many thanks to Will Shortz et al. who gave me a chance to fix and resubmit this puzzle after the initial draft I sent in a few years ... read more

Many thanks to Will Shortz et al. who gave me a chance to fix and resubmit this puzzle after the initial draft I sent in a few years ago had a bunch of 3 letter bird names which were correctly adjudged "too short to be interesting." Also for improving my clues as usual. I wish I had thought of that clue combination for 68- and 69-across, but at least anyone who doesn't read these things will be fooled into thinking I'm that clever.

One thing I learned through making this puzzle is that the word RAVEN will not flip itself into GARDEN VARIETY no matter how long you stare at it. I also had ideally wanted to squeeze in an additional theme answer (GREBE/CANDICE BERGEN) but couldn't make it fit. It was probably for the best, though, because I think HERON, EGRET, CRANE work well as a trio since they all fit into the "skinny birds with long necks but aren't storks" class in my layperson taxonomic system. I'm sure there's an ornithologist out there scoffing at my bird ignorance.

Jeff Chen notes:
Emily FLIPPED us THE BIRD today, hiding a reversed HERON, EGRET, and CRANE within themers. Cheeky idea, especially for the NYT! ... read more

Emily FLIPPED us THE BIRD today, hiding a reversed HERON, EGRET, and CRANE within themers. Cheeky idea, especially for the NYT!

ENARC within GOLDEN ARCHES = perfect! A long string, spanning the two words of a phrase that most everyone will have heard of = yes yes yes!

TERGE within POLTERGEISTS is a notch lower since one-word theme answers tend to be less interesting than multi-worders. Still, POLTERGEISTS is a neat word, filled with spookiness. I ain't afraid of no POLTERGEISTS!

Okay, I am. I still have trouble opening the fridge door at night.

NOREH within PIANO REHEARSAL … I like that it spans a two-word answer. That answer seems a touch arbitrary, though. Would GUITAR PRACTICE be acceptable? Or BANJO TUNING? In the service of this theme, PIANO REHEARSAL gets a pass, but I wouldn't be as lenient otherwise.

I had the same hesitation about LOW SNAP. I was so excited to put in BAD SNAP, such a great entry! LOW SNAP is a real thing, but I usually hear "the snap is low."

But I did enjoy ERROR-FREE, TABLE LAMP, CHEAP SHOT, KILL TIME. Four out of four winners!

Ah, those "parallel down" structures, though. It's so tough to fill around two long pieces of bonus fill right next to each other. That lower left corner especially suffered: BYS, SEPTS, ERE. I wouldn't mind this trade-off if you look at the isolated corner, but with other dabs of crossword glue in the puzzle – OPES, TELE, WELLI, etc. – I'd have preferred a less ambitious approach, for a more elegant overall finish.

It's tough to work with a 14-letter revealer since all the theme answers get squished together toward the middle. (The revealer has to go in row 12, instead of row 13 like usual.) I have a feeling pinching POLTERGEISTS and GOLDEN ARCHES one row toward the center might have helped smooth out the grid, but of course, that would have called for a complete redo.

Loved the [Cutting class?] clue for SHOP. It just takes a handful of clever clues like this to make a puzzle shine. And defining PRENUP as a "union agreement" = delightful!

Strong idea and I appreciated the level of difficulty of using all five-letter birds. If the grid had been polished, this could have made POW! consideration.

Jim Horne notes:
I have to stand up for PIANO REHEARSAL. It's a thing. Just before opening night, opera or Broadway singers will get a chance to ... read more

I have to stand up for PIANO REHEARSAL. It's a thing. Just before opening night, opera or Broadway singers will get a chance to rehearse with the full orchestra, but until then, they have to settle for piano rehearsals. They're cheaper (obviously) and it's much easier to start and stop to polish tough sections.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0725 ( 25,096 )

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Across
1
Get too scared, with "out" : WIMP
5
Cutting class? : SHOP
9
Like a know-it-all : COCKY
14
Witching ___ : HOUR
15
Word that might accompany an air kiss : CIAO
16
Garden pest : APHID
17
Memo header : INRE
18
Sciences' partner : ARTS
19
Reacts to a blow : REELS
20
Grand preparations? : PIANOREHEARSAL
23
Comment after a sneeze : SALUD
24
Sushi bar offering : UNI
25
Letter before omega : PSI
27
Things that go bump in the night : POLTERGEISTS
32
Girded : SET
35
Disturb : ROIL
36
Sea ___ : URCHIN
37
Mouth, slangily : TRAP
39
"___ never!" : WELLI
41
Genus that includes geniuses : HOMO
42
Shady areas : ARBORS
44
It's right on the map : EAST
46
Vietnamese festival : TET
47
Iconic logo since 1962 : GOLDENARCHES
50
Bard's "before" : ERE
51
Granola morsel : OAT
52
Mountain shelter : LODGE
56
Gestured rudely ... or what this puzzle's circles have done? : FLIPPEDTHEBIRD
61
"___ yourself!" : BRACE
62
Home to the Triple Crown of Surfing : OAHU
63
Ones who've called it quits : EXES
64
Neighbor of Saudi Arabia : YEMEN
65
Company, e.g. : UNIT
66
Communion, e.g. : RITE
67
7 7 7, in France : SEPTS
68
Circus site : TENT
69
Circus sight : SEAL
Down
1
Congressional leaders : WHIPS
2
Ancient Anatolian region : IONIA
3
Sistine Chapel feature : MURAL
4
Union agreement, informally? : PRENUP
5
Disney villain voiced by Jeremy Irons : SCAR
6
Take on : HIRE
7
Curse : OATH
8
Big phony : POSEUR
9
Verizon or AT&T : CARRIER
10
Unfolds, in poetry : OPES
11
Unsporting comment : CHEAPSHOT
12
Twiddles one's thumbs : KILLSTIME
13
Golf hole measure: Abbr. : YDS
21
Nose wrinkler : ODOR
22
Distress : ANGUISH
26
"Love ___ a victory march" ("Hallelujah" lyric) : ISNOT
28
Action that could cause a QB's fumble : LOWSNAP
29
Part of many a garbage bag : TIE
30
"Oklahoma!" aunt : ELLER
31
I, in Innsbruck : ICH
32
Put on : STAGE
33
Scoring 100 : ERRORFREE
34
Piece of office décor : TABLELAMP
38
Pea's place : POD
40
Body of eau : LAC
43
Investigates, as a cold case : REOPENS
45
Prefix meaning "far away" : TELE
48
Went to a restaurant : ATEOUT
49
Gets serious, with "up" : SOBERS
53
The South : DIXIE
54
TV host Van Susteren : GRETA
55
Ford flop : EDSEL
57
One of the first musicians to have an "explicit content" sticker on an album : ICET
58
Rosencrantz or Guildenstern : DANE
59
Flimsy : THIN
60
Jabba, for one, in "Star Wars" : HUTT
61
Fly-___ : BYS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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