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New York Times, Monday, July 9, 2018

Author: John Lampkin
Editor: Will Shortz
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John Lampkin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Lampkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Lampkin notes: Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson took a group of basketball players, divided them into 3 groups and tested each player's ... more
John Lampkin notes:

Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson took a group of basketball players, divided them into 3 groups and tested each player's ability to make free throws. The first group would practice 20 minutes every day. The second would only visualize themselves making free throws, but no real practice was allowed. The third group would not practice or visualize. The results were astounding. There was significant improvement on the group that only visualized; they were almost as good as those who actually practiced!

In a similar experiment, solvers of today's NY Times puzzle showed nearly the same increase in muscle tone as those gym rats who spent their time working out and getting all hot and sweaty! Those who solved puzzles from other venues actually showed a slight decrease in muscle tone except for the hand that held the pencil or pen. Researcher I. Mosley Guest attributes the phenomenon to that same power of visualization as in the free throw study. Apparently, just the very thought of doing curls and lifts and a twist as you write in the answers is enough exercise for the day, with the bonus of not needing to shower afterward.

We in the cruciverbal industry have long known that crosswords do make us smarter. For today at least, and with the final theme answer notwithstanding, they can make us physically fit as well.

Jeff Chen notes: If exercise were only like today's theme! I love doing me some FORK LIFTS when bread pudding is involved. Heck, I'll do some CHEESE ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

If exercise were only like today's theme! I love doing me some FORK LIFTS when bread pudding is involved. Heck, I'll do some CHEESE CURLS, curling some brie right up to my mouth.

That probably wouldn't be the healthiest lifestyle.

It's tough to come up with a playful Monday theme that's accessible to most every solver, but this one does a good job. My only hesitation was that a TWIST wasn't as familiar (in terms of being an exercise rep) as a CURL or a SQUAT.

Okay, not the only hesitation. It would have been better to have consistent singular/pluralization. Since no one ever eats a single CHEESE CURL (damn you and your tasty yellowy goodness!), it would have been better to make everything plural. Anyway, multiple reps are good for you, amiright?

The revealer, DIDDLY SQUAT, didn't do much for me. On most Mondays, I think there needs to be a revealer to make a theme obvious to everyone. DIDDLY SQUAT actually muddied things up. Why is it worth DIDDLY SQUAT if you do some CURLS with a big ol' wedge of CHEESE as a weight, for instance?

Removing the revealer would have also allowed for better quality fill that was more appropriate for a newer solver. I can imagine newbs looking at TRURO SEDGE HASP IVES and wondering what kind of durned trivia contest they got themselves into.

Working with five longish themers can be so difficult.

Overall, a fine, playful idea. But I would have liked a few more rounds of revision and improvement.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0709 ( 25,080 )
Across Down
1. Reamer or wrench : TOOL
5. Danglers on luggage : IDTAGS
11. Cruise amenity : SPA
14. Where icicles may hang : EAVE
15. World ___ (October event) : SERIES
16. Center of a poker table : POT
17. Arm exercise at a dairy farm? : CHEESECURLS
19. Engine lubricant : OIL
20. "Ben-___" : HUR
21. Fruit in a holiday gift box : PEAR
22. Hawaiian coffee region : KONA
23. Any boat : SHE
25. Shoulder exercise at a cutlery store? : FORKLIFTS
29. Clip, as a coupon : DETACH
32. Jeers : HOOTSAT
33. Currier and ___ : IVES
34. Classy articles of neckwear : ASCOTS
37. Wrist exercise at a candy factory? : PEPPERMINTTWIST
43. Highest point in an orbit : APOGEE
44. Region : AREA
45. Swizzle stick : STIRRER
49. Fame : RENOWN
51. Chest exercise at a vintner's? : WINEPRESS
54. Itching desire : YEN
55. Small whirlpool : EDDY
56. What a relaxed soldier is at : EASE
58. One of four for a grand slam, in brief : RBI
61. Face on a fiver : ABE
62. What the exercise regimen in 17-, 25-, 37- and 51-Across is worth? : DIDDLYSQUAT
66. Traditional Father's Day gift : TIE
67. Wise sayings : ADAGES
68. "... or ___!" : ELSE
69. Engine additive since 1954 : STP
70. Far from extravagant : MODEST
71. Consider to be : DEEM
1. Computer crash investigator, informally : TECH
2. Where Waikiki Beach is : OAHU
3. Exceed, as one's bounds : OVERSTEP
4. See 31-Down : LEE
5. "Ah, now that's clear" : ISEE
6. Coffee choice before bed : DECAF
7. Cape Cod resort town : TRURO
8. It's thin on top of Everest : AIR
9. Hair goo : GEL
10. Serpent's warning : SSS
11. Parodies : SPOOFS
12. Route map start : POINTA
13. "Finally!" : ATLAST
18. Blueprint detail : SPEC
22. Package for a model plane : KIT
24. Shed door feature : HASP
26. River that passes through Lake Geneva : RHONE
27. 1970s TV's "Welcome Back, ___" : KOTTER
28. Like Little Bo-Peep's sheep : LOST
29. Brief swim : DIP
30. Apple eater in Genesis : EVE
31. With 4-Down, "To Kill a Mockingbird" writer : HARPER
35. Campfire treat : SMORE
36. Marlboro offering, informally : CIG
38. Wyatt of Dodge City : EARP
39. Decline : WANE
40. Totalitarian control : IRONRULE
41. Use a Singer machine : SEW
42. Result of sunning : TAN
45. Gymwear : SWEATS
46. Choice morsel : TIDBIT
47. Seriously embroiled : INDEEP
48. King: Sp. : REY
50. Good lookers? : EYES
52. Wetlands plant : SEDGE
53. Business successes : SALES
57. The "S" of CBS: Abbr. : SYST
59. Military post : BASE
60. Grocery list component : ITEM
62. Beaver's project : DAM
63. Predictable reply at the altar : IDO
64. Pop : DAD
65. "And that proves it" : QED

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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