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New York Times, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Author:
Alex Bajcz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
45/6/20148/29/20180
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Alex Bajcz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 77, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQWXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Bajcz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Bajcz notes:
I feel like I wrote this puzzle a long time ago, even though it was only last year. I only have vague memories of constructing it. I think I ... read more

I feel like I wrote this puzzle a long time ago, even though it was only last year. I only have vague memories of constructing it. I think I somehow noticed that DETROIT and I DOTTER (a meticulous person) were anagrams, so I went hunting for other major cities with some kind of consistent anagram to play off of. The challenge was finding a mix of cities that felt sufficiently well-known that would anagram in the same way. And then there was balancing them in the grid, coupled with finding some neat way of cluing the set...I remember there being some pain in coming up with a final set of entries, but I feel good about the set I managed. I'd be curious if anyone can think up others I missed!

Filling the puzzle was a bit of a challenge with this grid. Maybe I was too stubborn; I could have introduced a cheater square or two to make things smoother in some spots, but I like the long entries I was able to get in here despite the openness. Getting a final grid was complicated by having not one but two misspellings in the grid at different points in time (sorry about that Will and company)! My only major regret with the final grid, though, is with the three government agencies (NOAA, NASA, USDA). I would have certainly preferred for those three entries to be words rather than acronyms, but at least they are all well known.

Jeff Chen notes:
I often wish Jim would comment with me a la Siskel and Ebert. We happened to meet up and chat about this week's puzzles, and I found my ... read more

I often wish Jim would comment with me a la Siskel and Ebert. We happened to meet up and chat about this week's puzzles, and I found my opinions shifting as we talked.

My first impression of this one was confusion, as I nearly missed the fact that the cities were anagrammed to form the kooky theme phrases. After I finally figured out that DIAGNOSE was SAN DIEGO scrambled, I wanted some revealer to help direct me to that conclusion. (Not that I could think of a good one! CITY MIX UP isn't a real thing, unfortunately.)

Jim had a different take. It also took him a bit to figure out the notion (shorter than me, I'm sure), but the fact that he had to work hard to figure it out enhanced his feeling of accomplishment.

Sure, some solvers won't grok the theme, and that's unfortunate. But those who do might appreciate not being spoon-fed.

I'm agreed with Alex; there were some parts of the grid I'd have asked to rework — there's way too much ASI ETTE ESTA ARTE NEBR STS etc. for this to be considered an elegant product. I'd have suggested adding a cheater square at the R of NEBR, and probably also breaking up BLACK SEA at the C. BLACK SEA and NESTLE UP aren't as awesome to me as ARCHENEMY, USED CAR LOT, CHEESECAKE – great stuff there! — so you'd gain a lot of grid flexibility with these suggestions, without losing much.

"Horne and Chen, At the Puzzles"! Any marketing folks have a better name? I appreciate having my opinions and positions challenged, forcing me to hone and tune my general philosophy on puzzles.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0829 ( 25,131 )
Across
1
Open, as an envelope : UNSEAL
7
Big Ten school: Abbr. : NEBR
11
Grp. co-founded by Helen Keller : ACLU
15
Boaster's retort to a boast : SOCANI
16
Singer Fitzgerald : ELLA
17
Title that translates as "lord" : KHAN
18
Work as a metropolitan health official? : DIAGNOSESANDIEGO
21
Duncan of the Obama cabinet : ARNE
22
"Go" signal, maybe : NOD
23
Junker : CRATE
24
Home for a clown fish : REEF
26
Headwear for bank robbers : SKIMASKS
29
Works as a metropolitan census taker? : COUNTSTUCSON
33
Grilled sushi offering : EEL
34
Starts : ONSETS
35
"Rock of Love" star Michaels : BRET
36
Rough spots for teens? : ACNE
37
Extra-large : OBESE
38
Operator of weather.gov : NOAA
39
It gets depressed on the road : BRAKE
40
Fellas : LADS
41
Jeté, e.g. : LEAP
42
Beach toy : BUCKET
43
Key above "∼" : ESC
44
Work as a metropolitan traffic engineer? : HASTENATHENS
46
Not overly optimistic types : REALISTS
48
Works of Dalí, e.g. : ARTE
49
Word before flush or pain : ROYAL
50
"Take me ___ am" : ASI
51
Reputation : NAME
55
Works as a metropolitan reclaimant? : SALVAGESLASVEGAS
59
Item with a bore and a bell : OBOE
60
Cuckoo : NUTS
61
Least likely to harm : TAMEST
62
Things get crazy when all of them are off : BETS
63
Lhasa ___ (dog) : APSO
64
Actress Milano of "Charmed" : ALYSSA
Down
1
Org. to take your beefs to? : USDA
2
1950's "The Asphalt Jungle," for one : NOIR
3
Check out : SCAN
4
Zeal : EAGERNESS
5
Taylor of fashion : ANN
6
Nala, but not Simba : LIONESS
7
Morning coffee, for many : NEED
8
Yellow belly? : ELS
9
Danube's outlet : BLACKSEA
10
Went wild : RANRIOT
11
Dog with a thick double coat : AKITA
12
Dessert that's often topped with berries : CHEESECAKE
13
Gamer's frustration : LAG
14
Cry with one card in hand : UNO
19
Like Brie : SOFT
20
"Phooey!," only stronger : DAMN
25
Suffix with kitchen : ETTE
26
Pickle : SCRAPE
27
Numbers game : KENKEN
28
Wet blankets? : SLEETS
29
Beachgoer's take-along : COOLER
30
In scoring position, in a way : ONBASE
31
Place for junkers : USEDCARLOT
32
They hid beneath the surface : UBOATS
36
Voldemort, to Harry Potter : ARCHENEMY
38
Snuggle (against) : NESTLEUP
39
Tush : BUTT
41
Multilayered dish : LASAGNA
42
Fitting occupation for a "Joe" : BARISTA
44
Slangy greeting : HIYA
45
Org. doing exploratory work : NASA
47
Amours : LOVES
50
"Not only that ..." : ALSO
52
Forever, seemingly : AGES
53
Cathedral service : MASS
54
This: Sp. : ESTA
55
React dramatically to a tearjerker : SOB
56
16th prez : ABE
57
Sides of a block: Abbr. : STS
58
Actor Kilmer : VAL

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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