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New York Times, Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Author: Gareth Bain and David Poole
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
144/6/20119/18/20152
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0334112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58210
Gareth Bain
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/9/20101/10/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0213300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59101
David Poole

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {X} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Bain. This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Poole. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: This puzzle was the first collaboration for both of us. David originally contacted Gareth via email, and we ended up sending each ... more
Constructor notes: This puzzle was the first collaboration for both of us. David originally contacted Gareth via email, and we ended up sending each other several stalled crosswords. This one was Gareth's, with the initial seed entry being TUBBY THE TUBER (which didn't make it to the final cut). Gareth didn't have enough themers that he liked or themers of the right lengths. After much wrangling, and a lot of creative ideas from both of us (FRANK ZAPPER, e.g.) we came to a mutually agreeable set and sent it off to Will, who liked some answers but asked for some new ones.

This went on for about three rounds. Boy is it difficult for three people to agree on what "pun" entries work! When we finally got the nod, I think we were both so excited we sent each other basically filled grids. This grid was David's although Gareth further revised it in a few places. The finished product is much better than the original one we submitted — we're both very happy with it. Patience often pays off! Thanks to Will for sticking with us on this one and for leaving so many of our clues alone!

Jeff Chen notes: Letter substitution theme today, words ending in A changed to ER with wacky results. Some of them really amused me, TUBER PLAYER ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Letter substitution theme today, words ending in A changed to ER with wacky results. Some of them really amused me, TUBER PLAYER eliciting a laugh and FRANK ZAPPER being gold (if the FRANK ZAPPER were sold on infomercials, my grandma would buy at least one). CONGER LINES could have fallen flat, but a fun clue rescues it. "Eel Trovatore," a pun on "Il Trovatore," still makes me giggle.

Five themers are no joke, especially when they're all long. At 11/11/15/11/11, this puzzle is packed to the gills. Gareth and David do a nice job with the fill, even incorporating two long pieces of fill. FOAM PEANUT is nice, and WHAT A LAUGH is snappy. My personal preference is to fill puzzles with uplifting entries, hopefully sending the solver off on a high, so it would have been perfect if WHAT A LAUGH had somehow been clued as a reaction to something actually funny. I suppose the sarcastic approach is more accurate though.

For such high theme density, it's amazing that really only one spot stuck out to me, the OESTE and ITA area in the middle. Unfortunately, they're sort of linked by ICK — not the greatest subconscious influence on solvers. I might not have even noticed those two entries if they had been spread out. For example, I glossed over ERST and MOR because they were all by themselves, almost unnoticeable pieces of glue.

Sometimes I wonder if the trend toward more and more theme density is a good thing. CHARLIE THE TUNA didn't do much for me, and without it, there could have been a lot more long fill in the puzzle without the need for any glue. As always, trade-offs.

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A
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B
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J
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E
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C
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T
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H
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I
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V
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F
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K
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W
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0827 ( 23,668 )
Across Down
1. Showing hopelessness : ABJECT
7. "West Side Story" weapon : SHIV
11. Do Not Call Registry org. : FTC
14. Truckers' contest : ROADEO
15. Colombian city of 2+ million : CALI
16. Dig this! : ORE
17. Libretto for "Eel Trovatore"? : CONGERLINES
19. FEMA offering : AID
20. Green-light : OKAY
21. Want ad abbr. : EEO
22. Lightning setting : TAMPA
24. Microwave for hot dogs? : FRANKZAPPER
27. Sequel to "Twilight" : NEWMOON
31. 90 degrees from sur : OESTE
32. Sound of an allergic reaction : ACHOO
33. ___ factor : ICK
34. Porter's cousin : ALE
37. Actor Sheen after starting a new career in piano maintenance? : CHARLIETHETUNER
42. "Salem's ___" : LOT
43. DVR brand : RCA
44. Subject of King Abdullah : SAUDI
45. Union station? : ALTAR
48. Lacking the traditional comforts : SPARTAN
50. One who knows the earnings report by heart? : SALESQUOTER
53. Get the lead out? : ERASE
54. Hauler's choice : VAN
55. Once, quaintly : ERST
59. Lucy of "The Man With the Iron Fists" : LIU
60. Actor in a Mr. Potato Head costume? : TUBERPLAYER
64. Gig part : MEG
65. Scrape, in a way : SKIN
66. Make bubbly : AERATE
67. Wood used to make the original Stratocasters : ASH
68. Neurosurgeons' readouts, for short : EEGS
69. George's friend in "Of Mice and Men" : LENNIE
1. Oil giant that's part of the Tesoro Corporation : ARCO
2. Reserve : BOOK
3. 1998 Wimbledon champ Novotna : JANA
4. Pushing the boundaries of propriety : EDGY
5. Daycare center? : CEE
6. Fighter in a ring : TORERO
7. Descendant : SCION
8. Solo on the big screen : HAN
9. Land in la mer : ILE
10. Prospects : VISTAS
11. Bit of packaging detritus : FOAMPEANUT
12. Horsefeathers : TRIPE
13. Chest wood : CEDAR
18. Like ostrich meat : LEAN
23. Abbr. in some addresses : APT
24. Hornswoggle : FOOL
25. ___ brothers, noted political donors : KOCH
26. First name of the wolf in Disney's "The Big Bad Wolf" : ZEKE
27. Salt, chemically : NACL
28. Parrot : ECHO
29. "That is SO stupid!" : WHATALAUGH
30. Country on the Strait of Gibraltar: Abbr. : MOR
33. "Keep ___ secret" : ITA
35. Helen of Troy's mother : LEDA
36. Hibernia : ERIN
38. Early 2000s war zone : IRAQ
39. Color similar to almond : ECRU
40. Winter Palace resident : TSAR
41. Political alliance of 1958: Abbr. : UAR
46. "___ Girls," 1957 musical comedy : LES
47. Sub-Saharan menace : TSETSE
48. Badge shape : STAR
49. One who might have a collection of foreign stamps : PENPAL
50. 1965 civil rights march site : SELMA
51. Curious, action-oriented sort, supposedly : ARIES
52. Pizzeria needs : OVENS
55. Pull in : EARN
56. Romney's 2012 running mate : RYAN
57. ___ Institute, org. that makes use of the Allen Telescope Array : SETI
58. Family ___ : TREE
61. Relative of a cuatro, informally : UKE
62. All over the news : BIG
63. Victor at Chancellorsville : LEE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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