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New York Times, Thursday, July 4, 2019

Author:
Jim Hilger
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1412/11/20087/4/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0115700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62320
Jim Hilger

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Hilger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Hilger notes:
Happy 4th of July to everyone. Perhaps you'll find a few sparklers in my Jimmy the 14th puzzle? (Jeff: it's Jim Hilger's 14th NYT ... read more

Happy 4th of July to everyone. Perhaps you'll find a few sparklers in my Jimmy the 14th puzzle? (Jeff: it's Jim Hilger's 14th NYT puzzle — happy Bastille Day coming up in 10 days!)

This crossword's theme required a little bit of elbow grease for me to come up with a symmetric set of answers. I originally included a theme revealer, which I think was FORWARDED LETTER. It was suggested that we go without the 15-long central revealer, on the second try.

The second submitted puzzle version dropped the revealer, but had wordier theme clues, using a "...with a little recycling?" ending, instead of the "...concisely?" one chosen by the editors. Since this ended up being a Thursday puzzle, I can appreciate the use of a slightly more cryptic and "concise" wording for the theme clues. I suspect it may require a little bit more elbow grease, to solve.

My favorite surviving original clue: "No longer either hot or cool?", for PASSE.

Hopeveryonenjoys!

Jeff Chen notes:
I didn't appreciate this theme until long after I'd solved the puzzle. My first impression: letters that repeat = not so interesting. ... read more

I didn't appreciate this theme until long after I'd solved the puzzle. My first impression: letters that repeat = not so interesting. It wasn't until Jim Horne asked if we ought to highlight the doubled letters for better effect (see grid below) that I realized the elegance of the finds. Let me write them out with spaces:

AIR RAID DRILL

SHORT TERM MEMORY

PAY YOUR RESPECTS

BEST TIME EVER

As a word nerd, I like the finds. As a computing nerd, I like the question it poses: how many phrases are like this? I won't bore you with the details of how I wrote the code to answer this question, but there aren't that many other phrases that fit this pattern. I hadn't appreciated that element of tightness in the theme. Now I do.

I wish the puzzle had shaded the four pairs of squares like we did. It would have given a better hint for solvers to dig deeper into what was going on.

Some problems with the gridwork. With four themers, I expect both a colorful and perfectly clean grid. It's true that SHORTERMEMORY is 13 letters, not easy to work with. But it's not that hard, either.

Assets: HOROSCOPE, LIFESAVER. DUST MOP, TAOISTS. ON A WHIM! ALL PRO. AGUILERA. SPECTRAL! Great stuff.

Liabilities: ENERO is a tough foreign word. ITER is great for smug longtime solvers who want to keep the club closed. SEATO is outdated. No one calls Poe EAP. EENS, SETA, SRAS.

I do appreciate the great bonuses. Way too many liabilities make it a bad trade-off, though. One simple patch would have been adding a couple of cheater black squares. Imagine PRICERS → PRICED, ITER → IDED, ITO → IDO. That would have been a huge start to cleaning things up.

A shame that the essence of the theme wasn't more readily apparent. It's a solid, tight concept seeking a better presentation.

1
O
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C
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H
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O
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A
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P
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D
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0704 ( 25,440 )

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Across
1
Number of countries between los Estados Unidos y Colombia : OCHO
5
Cantina snacks : TAPAS
10
First name in 1950s comedy : DESI
14
State bird of Minnesota : LOON
15
Olympic champion Ohno : APOLO
16
Watt or knot : UNIT
17
Civil defense measure, concisely? : AIRAIDRILL
19
___ good example : SETA
20
Taken off : FLOWN
21
Ghostly : SPECTRAL
23
Recollection of something that just happened, concisely? : SHORTERMEMORY
26
Revs up : EXCITES
28
Not fooled by : ONTO
29
Place to wear a tuxedo : PROM
30
Make an evasive maneuver : ZAG
32
Illuminated eerily, perhaps : UPLIT
36
"The Raven" monogram : EAP
37
Pair in a salsa band : MARACAS
40
Figure skater Midori : ITO
41
With an ___ the future : EYETO
43
Campaign-supporting grp. : PAC
44
Some : AFEW
45
A long stretch : AGES
48
Department store staffers : PRICERS
50
Make a polite visit, concisely? : PAYOURESPECTS
54
Christina on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" : AGUILERA
55
"Great job!" : BRAVO
58
Fifth Avenue concern : SAKS
59
"That. Was. A. Blast!," concisely? : BESTIMEVER
62
Dry cleaner's challenge : SPOT
63
Squaresville : UNHIP
64
Dinar spender : SERB
65
Dark periods, in poetry : EENS
66
Defense alliance from 1954 to '77 : SEATO
67
Sp. titles : SRAS
Down
1
Count in Lemony Snicket books : OLAF
2
Tesla ___ : COIL
3
Astrological creation : HOROSCOPE
4
Just because : ONAWHIM
5
Tiny amount : TAD
6
4/ : APR
7
Aplomb : POISE
8
Sports standout : ALLPRO
9
Grave : SOLEMN
10
Aid in tidying up the house : DUSTMOP
11
Calendario commencer : ENERO
12
Musical instrument whose name means "three strings" : SITAR
13
Four-time World Cup champion : ITALY
18
How a tie may be broken, in brief : INOT
22
Whale constellation : CETUS
24
___ Shah Pahlavi, former leader of Iran : REZA
25
Title based on the name "Caesar" : TSAR
26
Relative of a foil : EPEE
27
Cavity revealer : XRAY
31
Breach : GAP
33
Godsend : LIFESAVER
34
Old Roman course : ITER
35
Garage services : TOWS
37
Bump in a ski run : MOGUL
38
Cartoonist who created Fearless Fosdick : CAPP
39
Part of a spread : ACRE
42
Lao-tzu and others : TAOISTS
44
Somers or Winters : ACTRESS
46
Southernmost active volcano on earth : EREBUS
47
Tranquil : SERENE
49
Silo filler, in brief : ICBM
50
No longer either hot or cool? : PASSE
51
Showing amazement : AGAPE
52
River to the Bering Sea : YUKON
53
One of the Obamas : SASHA
56
Aloe ___ : VERA
57
Planets and moons : ORBS
60
Small songbird : TIT
61
Wall St. news : IPO

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

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