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New York Times, Thursday, July 9, 2015

Author:
John Guzzetta
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2010/9/20129/14/20184
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1322453
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1.63100
John Guzzetta

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {KXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Guzzetta. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Guzzetta notes:
This puzzle started when I stumbled on the revealer phrase. I wanted the turned words to be words themselves, yet with a different ... read more

This puzzle started when I stumbled on the revealer phrase. I wanted the turned words to be words themselves, yet with a different sense than the base phrase (thus, drama queen was out, etc). I made a list of Q words and then checked to see which ones could form the ends of longer phrases. I rejected a few such as quire, quirt, and quint, because I judged them too obscure. It wasn't a long list, but it contained some nifty entries. Tiger mosquito, Steve McQueen, mesquite, liquid, acquit, and various squads were some of the options that stayed in reserve.

The whole grid almost died with 58-across. The saga included trying to move black squares, dream up new themers, inelegantly split up the revealer to eliminate the interlock, justify random three-letter "words" with Wikipedia (OGA, it's a peninsula in Japan! That works, right?), and even expand into two different Sunday ideas. But in the end, I held my nose and used a word, OES, meaning "whirlwinds," which is probably known mostly to Scrabble players. I hope solvers can look past this blemish.

I wish I could claim credit for that clue at 35-down ([Vehicle that may roll over, for short] = IRA)!

Jeff Chen notes:
Neat trick, RIGHT ON CUE interpreted as 'themers turn at their Q.' I love John's extra touch of selecting themers where the entry ... read more

Neat trick, RIGHT ON CUE interpreted as "themers turn at their Q." I love John's extra touch of selecting themers where the entry after the turn is a real word, i.e. QUID in GIANT SQUID. Devious — I had already solved QUID for [Pounds] and could not figure out what an [Army terror?] might be. Brilliant clue, BTW — a giant squid certainly is "arm-y."

Watch out for the giant QUID! Er, SQUID!

(insert delightful groan here)

That clue was especially nice given the proximity of [Army locales] = BASES. I knew some sort of wordplay was going on with [Army terror?], but I was sure it had to be the "terror" part of the clue. D'oh!

Any grid involving turning answers is going to be tough to fill, around those bends. It might seem like the difficulty level is even higher given all those Qs, but they actually come for free. For example, the Q in PEPSQUAD doesn't have to work with any crossing answers, given that it already crosses PEPSQ and QUAD. A nice way to get a whole bunch of Qs worked in with really no price to pay.

Well, except for the usual one of those tough bendy areas. It's no surprise that the entry John pointed out — OES — comes at the toughest section of the grid, where a bendy themer in ANYREQ/QUESTS intersects RIGHT ON CUE. I usually err toward the side of cleanliness in puzzles and would do anything to avoid OES, but I do like John's packing in of five bendy themers. Getting an arrangement where ILLEQ/QUIPPED intersected SUMMERSQ/QUASH is a real feat, so I appreciated the elegance there.

I would have liked some semblance of symmetry, though. Felt inelegant to have themers packed in wherever. And (warning: nerd engineer alert) the main hiccup I had was one that most people will never consider: the themers are actually turning LEFT, not right — from the point of view of an answer traveling south, if it changes direction to head east, that's a left-hand turn.

A great theme, with some execution hiccups. If only I could ignore my engineer's OCD and shut off my stupid brain once in a while.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0709 ( 23,984 )
Across
1. Connections : INS
4. Quick wit : ESPRIT
10. Lump : GLOB
14. French narrative poem : LAI
15. Pet name? : PURINA
16. Bit : IOTA
17. School bully's demand : LUNCHMONEY
19. Dance and drama : ARTS
20. Figs. always expressed to two decimal places : ERAS
21. Nasty campaign charges : MUD
22. Borrower : LENDEE
24. Produced laugh lines? : QUIPPED
26. Sherpas, e.g. : PORTERS
27. Anthem shortening : OER
28. Affliction for Job, in the Bible : SORES
29. Tosses : JETTISONS
33. Pounds : QUID
37. Columbus in N.Y.C. or S.F. : AVE
38. Put down : QUASH
40. Returning in the opposite direction : FRO
41. Get tiresome : WEAR
43. One making waves : SPEEDBOAT
46. Transport : ELATE
49. Jersey delivery? : MOO
50. Eight in a V8 : PISTONS
53. Sickening : NOISOME
57. Cabinet department : ENERGY
58. Latin diphthongs : OES
59. Russia's ___ Airlines : URAL
60. Nabors title role of 1960s TV : PYLE
61. Prompt ... or a hint to entering five answers in this puzzle : RIGHTONCUE
64. "Brave New World" drug : SOMA
65. Wind-borne : EOLIAN
66. Director Lee : ANG
67. Leg muscle, informally : QUAD
68. Challenges for knights : QUESTS
69. For instance : SAY
Down
1. Not ready : ILLEQUIPPED
2. South Pacific island nation that's only 8.1 square miles : NAURU
3. Place for two tablets? : SINAI
4. N.T. book after Galatians : EPH
5. Crookneck, e.g. : SUMMERSQUASH
6. Walking tall : PROUD
7. Source of zest : RIND
8. Having four sharps : INE
9. Swift, in music : TAYLOR
10. Army terror? : GIANTSQUID
11. 2013 Grammy winner for "Royals" : LORDE
12. Web-footed mammal : OTTER
13. Army locales : BASES
18. Benjamin : CSPOT
23. Poetic conjunction : ERE
25. Smallest Can. province : PEI
26. Group given stars, maybe : POSSE
28. Hogwarts professor : SNAPE
29. Jabber : JAW
30. Oct. 31, e.g. : EVE
31. Samovar contents : TEA
32. Boots : OUSTS
34. Cause of some 911 calls : UFO
35. Vehicle that may roll over, for short : IRA
36. Stipple : DOT
39. Surgeon's clamp : HEMOSTAT
42. Unoriginal work : RETREAD
44. "Boy, ___!" : DOI
45. Petty officer : BOSUN
47. Do some forest work : LOG
48. D.J.'s invitation : ANYREQUESTS
50. School spirit raiser : PEPSQUAD
51. Song title words after "The Woman" and "I Believe" : INYOU
52. Southern city with a woman's name : SELMA
53. Classic fruity sodas : NEHIS
54. Certain cetaceans : ORCAS
55. ___ Loa : MAUNA
56. Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!," e.g. : ELEGY
58. Check out : OGLE
62. Payment option that's not always accepted : IOU
63. Run-___ : ONS

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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