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New York Times, Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
511/3/20137/29/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
315149460
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59043
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 50 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
I remember considering a puzzle about redundant phrases a couple years ago and being disappointed when it turned out the theme had ... read more

I remember considering a puzzle about redundant phrases a couple years ago and being disappointed when it turned out the theme had been done before. However, that puzzle was on a Saturday almost twenty years ago, so I decided to give it a shot with (mostly) different phrases. This theme would certainly not be considered for a Saturday today, and it almost seems appropriate that a puzzle about redundant, repetitive, superfluous phrases is not entirely fresh!

I enjoy learning something about the history of phrases like this, so I looked them up on Google Ngram Viewer. PAST HISTORY seems to be the oldest of the group, coming in around the mid-1800's, and TAXI CAB became popular around 1920. BUNNY RABBIT took off in 1940 near the 7/27/40 debut of Bugs Bunny, and CASH MONEY came into common usage around 1945. RAT FINK took off in 1965 after Ed "Big Daddy" Roth created a "hot rod" character with that name as an anti-hero vs. Mickey Mouse.

Hope solvers enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
I get a lot of theme review requests, and I see a lot of the same ideas popping up over and over. Redundant phrases is in my top ten ... read more

I get a lot of theme review requests, and I see a lot of the same ideas popping up over and over. Redundant phrases is in my top ten list, as is its evil twin, paradoxical phrases. So after uncovering just one themer, PAST HISTORY, I knew what was going on, and the rest was, well, history.

However, Jim reminded me a few weeks ago that I'm hardly an average solver. There will be some (many?) newer solvers who have never encountered this theme idea before. Some of them might even be impressed at seeing something new in a phrase they've used over and over, like BUNNY RABBIT. Could be quite the wascally a-ha moment.

I did enjoy so many of the bonuses, as I'd expect out of any Haight puzzle these days. So much packed into those corners – YES OR NO, THINK SO?, TAX SCAM, GRAB BAG, AIR TIME. All of that helped entertain me through the solve.

Today's grid wasn't as strong as Bruce's usual standard of work, though. It is solid — better than average NYT quality — but SEGAR made me pause. Then NOYES. Then ARIE. All of these are fair game, at least considering that the crossings are perfectly gettable. As a whole, though, these have too much potential to leave a newer solver with the sense that the puzzle was weird.

(Whenever my kids say that something is weird, that's the kiss of death.)

After ten years of being friends, Jim continues to surprise me. A few weeks ago, he averred that ASHMAN ought to be fair game, even for early-week puzzles. For today's, he avowed that SEGAR should never be seen in an early-week puzzle. I agree with the latter (and still roll my eyes — in a respectful way of course — at the former.)

In general, if a theme idea is covered by tons of lists out in the intertubes, it's not going to do much for me. But again, newbs could have a different experience, so it's a reasonable puzzle theme. Just as long as it doesn't trigger budding constructors to spam me even more with this kind of thing.

Ha ha!

Seriously, stop.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0709 ( 25,445 )

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Across
1
So far : ASYET
6
Jazz style : BEBOP
11
Not an exact amount: Abbr. : EST
14
Note from a 6-Down that might give you jitters : SEEME
15
Plains tribe : OTOES
16
To the ___ degree : NTH
17
Experience, redundantly : PASTHISTORY
19
Opus ___ : DEI
20
Prefix with tourism : ECO
21
Come after : ENSUE
22
"Victory is mine!" : IWIN
23
Like some telephones and tires : CORDED
25
Snitch, redundantly : RATFINK
28
Novelist Morrison : TONI
29
Dark force, in Chinese philosophy : YIN
32
Hoi polloi, with "the" : MASSES
33
Smidgen : SKOSH
35
"The Highwayman" poet : NOYES
37
Angsty music genre : EMO
38
Moolah, redundantly : CASHMONEY
41
Automated producer of spam : BOT
44
5/8/1945 : VEDAY
45
Popeye's creator E. C. ___ : SEGAR
49
Spaced out mentally : INAFOG
51
Track relentlessly : DOG
53
Singer India.___ : ARIE
54
Hack, redundantly : TAXICAB
56
F equivalent : ESHARP
58
"Anybody ___?" : ELSE
59
Folgers alternative : YUBAN
62
A/C meas. : BTU
63
Word in brackets after a mistake : SIC
64
Cottontail, redundantly : BUNNYRABBIT
67
Get ___ on (ace) : ANA
68
Can't be found at the office : ISOUT
69
One of 10 in bowling : FRAME
70
Pro ___ : TEM
71
Self-description after a major lifestyle change : NEWME
72
Exhorted : URGED
Down
1
Different sides to observe : ASPECTS
2
Ship's galley worker : SEACOOK
3
"Give me a simple answer!" : YESORNO
4
911 responder, for short : EMT
5
Giggle : TEHEE
6
Head honcho : BOSS
7
Question to a backstabber : ETTU
8
Rude person in the bleachers : BOOER
9
Contraction sung twice in the first verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" : OER
10
College subj. that covers Freud : PSY
11
How train cars are linked : ENDWISE
12
Feminist Gloria : STEINEM
13
"Really?" : THINKSO
18
___ 500 : INDY
22
Hypotheticals : IFS
24
The "D" of D.J. : DISC
26
"You got that right!" : AMEN
27
Shocks, in a way : TASES
30
How many TV shows are viewed nowadays : INHD
31
Wanderer : NOMAD
34
Pandemonium : HAVOC
36
Quickly change one's mind back and forth : YOYO
39
Video game giant : SEGA
40
"You got that right!" : YEAH
41
Goes for, as when bobbing for apples : BITESAT
42
Like laundry being dried outdoors : ONALINE
43
Subject of an I.R.S. consumer warning : TAXSCAM
46
Potpourri : GRABBAG
47
Broadcast slot : AIRTIME
48
Said (to be) : REPUTED
50
Shakespearean cry before "What, are you mad?" : FIE
52
One of 10 in a ten-speed : GEAR
55
At this point : BYNOW
57
Problem that has ballooned : SNAFU
60
E pluribus ___ : UNUM
61
Memory unit : BYTE
64
Recycling container : BIN
65
Not let go to waste : USE
66
"I'm f-f-freezing!" : BRR

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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