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New York Times, Saturday, August 26, 2017

Author: Peter Wentz
Editor: Will Shortz
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339/27/20078/31/20180
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200121216
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1.81005
Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 27 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 27 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes: This may be the first time I've so blatantly included an inside reference in one of my puzzles, but there lies CAHOOTS smack-dab at ... more
Peter Wentz notes:

This may be the first time I've so blatantly included an inside reference in one of my puzzles, but there lies CAHOOTS smack-dab at 1-Across, which is also not coincidentally the name of the ultimate team I played with for several years, including when I wrote this puzzle. It would be problematic to shoehorn in an ugly entry for a such a small percentage of solvers, but thankfully the colorful phrase it's commonly used with feels like a worthy way to kick off a puzzle.

The rest of the grid still seems pretty solid, even looking at it again today with fresh eyes. There's a couple of quality stacks and not much dreck in sight. As usual, the editing team did a great job sprucing up a few of my weaker clues, with the fun wordplay at 2-Down maybe being my favorite improvement.

Hope everyone enjoys!

Jeff Chen notes: Another solid themeless from Peter, one of the best in the business for my money. I appreciate how he chooses his feature entries not ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Another solid themeless from Peter, one of the best in the business for my money. I appreciate how he chooses his feature entries not just for how cool they sound or how bizarre they look in the grid, but whether they can take a clever clue. AFTERSHAVE is a snappy entry in its own right, but it's so ripe for tricksy wordplay. [It hurts when you rub it in] had me fixated on various insults. That's the type of innocuous misdirection a great wordplay clue ought to achieve.

I have very high expectations for Peter's puzzles these days, and several entry/clue pairs didn't disappoint. ORAL PHASE! Love it, even more so with the deviously brilliant misdirect in "nursing" — very different than the hospital nursing I was thinking about!

JAY GATSBY as a party host and THE BIG BANG made for terrific entries, too. Toss in some IN CAHOOTS, BASE METAL, HONEY WINE, and that's a solid puzzle.

But even as a chemistry wonk, BOYLES LAW isn't super interesting to me; certainly not nearly as fantastic as the IDEAL GAS LAW. (An old chemistry teacher had PV NRT as his license plate, which I secretly thought was awesome. Especially when he carefully taped in an equals sign in the space!) Still, though, I'm not sure how big a chunk of the solving population would appreciate even the IDEAL GAS LAW. (Heathens!)

And a few other long entries more took up space than shined. KNEEHOLES, for example … that's a real term? (Google says yes.) I appreciated the misdirect toward "office openings," but since I didn't recognize the term, the cleverness got lost on me.

Peter is so good in terms of keeping grids smooth that I was thrown a bit by the ASLAN / LESH crossing — I'm not convinced that ASLAN is a name all educated solvers ought to know. (Even less so for Phil LESH.) I could understand the need to accept this crossing in a more ambitious themeless grid, but it's harder to take in a 70-worder. Just too much possibility for solver dissatisfaction, finishing with an understandable error.

Not up there with my favorite of Peter's puzzles, but still a solid offering.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0826 ( 24,763 )
Across Down
1. As thick as thieves : INCAHOOTS
10. Butt heads : CLASH
15. PV = k, to a physicist : BOYLESLAW
16. "Um ... I'm standing right here!" : HELLO
17. Nursing is a key component of it : ORALPHASE
18. Literary hero who gets resurrected : ASLAN
19. Introduction to science? : OMNI
20. It hurts when you rub it in : AFTERSHAVE
22. Longtime radio D.J. : KASEM
24. Pentathlon event : EPEE
25. Puckish : FEY
26. Secretly : SUBROSA
29. Chip, e.g. : FLAW
30. ___ fair : JOB
33. One might be embedded : LINK
34. "The Warm Heart of Africa" : MALAWI
36. Forum icons : AVATARS
38. President's personal aide : BODYMAN
39. Phrase used as a basic tenet of improv comedy : YESAND
40. Thundering : LOUD
41. Worm's-___ view : EYE
42. Daniels who adapted "The Office" for NBC : GREG
43. Advice for a wannabe loser : DIETTIP
46. PIN point : ATM
47. "Oven" : WOMB
48. Like some exclusive contracts : NOBID
52. Explosive theory? : THEBIGBANG
56. Birthday visitors? : MAGI
57. Resolved to do : SETON
58. Medical marijuana is one : ANALGESIC
60. Interlace : BRAID
61. Start hopping : COMEALIVE
62. Whoops : YELLS
63. Some office openings : KNEEHOLES
1. Former laptop line : IBOOK
2. Woman's name that becomes a man's name when its first letter is added to the end : NORMA
3. Blue shades : CYANS
4. Germany and Japan, once : ALLIES
5. It was cool in the '40s : HEP
6. Grp. that doesn't cover the self-employed : OSHA
7. N.C.A.A.'s St. ___ Oles : OLAF
8. "How's the food?" : TASTEOK
9. Crucial time for network execs : SWEEPS
10. Bank of America competitor : CHASE
11. Grateful Dead bassist Phil : LESH
12. Filled with desire : ALLAFLAME
13. Work one's fingers to the bone : SLAVEAWAY
14. Mead : HONEYWINE
21. Scold and then some : REAMOUT
23. 1998 Disney princess : MULAN
27. English setter, e.g. : BIRDDOG
28. Careful workers, briefly? : RNS
29. Be successful, as a proposal : FLY
30. Storied party host : JAYGATSBY
31. Yonder : OVERTHERE
32. Alchemist's starting point : BASEMETAL
35. Contribute : ADDIN
37. Identify online : TAG
38. Many an online nuisance : BOT
40. Cedar Revolution locale : LEBANON
44. Cry after a vacation : IMBACK
45. Exotic salad ingredient : POMELO
47. Orchestra section : WINDS
49. Lime cooler garnish : BASIL
50. "Fine, you win!" : IGIVE
51. Does some kitchen prep : DICES
53. Be super-angry : BOIL
54. Big shot : NAME
55. ___ club : GLEE
59. Cry of frustration : GAH

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?