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New York Times, Thursday, July 9, 2015

Author:
John Guzzetta
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2210/9/20128/9/20195
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1322473
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62100
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?