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New York Times, Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Polin. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Something so pretty about those WATER / FALLS, yeah? I'm a sucker for a puzzle with a visual element. It's a shame that this couldn't ... read more

Something so pretty about those WATER / FALLS, yeah? I'm a sucker for a puzzle with a visual element. It's a shame that this couldn't have been printed in color, but I went ahead and added my own artist's representation of bubbling waterfalls below.

How about a little symmetry, eh, Mother Nature?

I remember talking to Parker Lewis years ago when he first got back from his Peace Corps mission, and one of the ideas he was tossing around was WATER falling in different parts of the grid. Not quite the same as Tim's, but too similar. Ah, getting scooped ...

Bendy themers always up the difficulty in grid filling. Here, it's not as bad as usual, because Tim chooses to go without symmetry in his waterfalls, giving himself high flexibility. Normally I'm not a fan of that, finding it inelegant, but there's something picturesque about the non-symmetry of the falls, just like in nature. Water goes where water wants to go, after all.

It's clear to me that Tim spent a lot of time and iterations figuring out where the falls could go without causing serious compromises in the grid. Not easy to work VICT / TORIA and YOS / SEMITE into regular words … nice to weave YOS into the end of ARROYOS instead of going with the easy road of YOYOS.

Now, it's not without its flaws. I know Suze ORMAN pretty well, as I think she's done some nice things with empowering people to take charge of their personal finances, but solvers not knowing her might be gnashing their teeth at the OMRI Katz crossing. Maybe it's fair, as both of them are semi-famous? Not ideal, though.

Similar situation in the lower left corner, UTZ unknown to this West coaster. REZA is awfully tough to pull out from memory if it's there at all, so that was rough. I do like the color the Z adds in, but I don't think it's worth the price.

Even though there are some compromises typical of the bendy themer type puzzle, I really dug the visual impact. Neat idea, and good execution.

1
A
2
C
3
M
4
E
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W
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A
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T
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E
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R
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O
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B
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O
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C
H
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P
15
T
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A
M
O
16
V
A
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N
17
C
A
L
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18
F
O
R
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19
G
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P
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A
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R
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Y
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O
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S
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K
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A
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K
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E
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N
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M
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O
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A
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R
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M
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O
M
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G
A
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G
S
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A
C
E
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T
H
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M
B
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L
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D
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J
U
D
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A
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B
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M
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I
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M
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V
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M
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F
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U
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D
M
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N
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F
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0819 ( 24,025 )
Across
1
As high as you can go : ACME
5
With 68-Across, what the groups of circled letters are famous examples of : WATER
10
Instrument similar to a cor anglais : OBOE
14
Use a Veg-o-Matic : CHOP
15
Italian's "I love you" : TIAMO
16
Fond of self-reflection? : VAIN
17
Per the Beach Boys, they're the cutest in the world : CALIFORNIAGIRLS
20
Ranchero's rope : RIATA
21
Flogging implement : STRAP
22
Usually dry gulches : ARROYOS
25
Sea monster of Norse myth : KRAKEN
29
Streaker at night : METEOR
32
Barclays Center, e.g. : ARENA
33
City founded by a twin, in myth : ROME
36
Actor Katz of "Dallas" : OMRI
37
Turf war adversaries : GANGS
38
Pass with flying colors : ACE
39
Sewer's protection : THIMBLE
41
Narc's org. : DEA
42
Friedlander of "30 Rock" : JUDAH
44
Forbidden-sounding perfume : TABU
45
Mobster's gal : MOLL
46
Words of concession : ILOSE
47
Mind-boggler : ENIGMA
49
Mr. Boddy, in the game Clue : VICTIM
51
Rabbi, e.g. : TEACHER
55
Home of Maine's Black Bears : ORONO
58
Zoo heavyweight : RHINO
59
Chester Nimitz or William Halsey : FOURSTARADMIRAL
64
___-G suit : ANTI
65
Dumbstruck : INAWE
66
Salt, chemically : NACL
67
Exiled shah Mohammad ___ Pahlavi : REZA
68
See 5-Across : FALLS
69
Trauma experts, briefly : EMTS
Down
1
Ghana's capital : ACCRA
2
Direct, as a meeting : CHAIR
3
One of eight baby teeth : MOLAR
4
Perfect example : EPITOME
5
Intl. commerce group : WTO
6
Go public with : AIR
7
Some salon acquisitions : TANS
8
Throw off : EMIT
9
"The Fountainhead" hero Howard : ROARK
10
Egg-laying animals : OVIPARA
11
Vaulter's hurdle : BAR
12
Subject of a 1973 crisis : OIL
13
U.S.N.A. grad: Abbr. : ENS
18
Dunaway of "Chinatown" : FAYE
19
Motorhead's workplace : GARAGE
23
Texter's "However ..." : OTOH
24
Hebrew or Arab : SEMITE
26
Japanese sword sport : KENDO
27
TV foreign correspondent Richard : ENGEL
28
Congested-sounding : NASAL
30
Financial guru Suze : ORMAN
31
Croaking sound : RIBBIT
33
Indira Gandhi's ill-fated son : RAJIV
34
Eye-shaped openings : OCULI
35
French red wine : MEDOC
39
His and hers : THEIRS
40
Olympic downhill event : LUGE
43
Oregon city named for a furrier : ASTORIA
45
Cyborg, in part : MACHINE
48
Head of the class, in pioneer schools : MARM
50
Theme : MOTIF
52
Distiller ___ Walker : HIRAM
53
Sign into law : ENACT
54
Diner basketful : ROLLS
56
Granny : NANA
57
Student's viva voce : ORAL
59
Partner of away : FAR
60
Score for a post-touchdown kick : ONE
61
Big name in chips and pretzels : UTZ
62
Saddler's tool : AWL
63
Start of many French surnames : DES

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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