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New York Times, Thursday, August 3, 2017

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: 74, Blocks: 37 Missing: {FQZ} Grid has up-down mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Rare sighting of up-down symmetry! Will's told me before that this type of symmetry looks too odd for him, so I'm glad to see another ... read more

Rare sighting of up-down symmetry! Will's told me before that this type of symmetry looks too odd for him, so I'm glad to see another example we can add to our list. I do agree that it's not as visually pleasing as normal or mirror (left-right) symmetry, but I like how it opens up more possibilities for creative constructors.

Speaking of creative, BELT LOOP gets interpreted as "words that can precede BELT, looping around the right of the puzzle back to the left." (AMMO, LAP, TOOL.) As an old-school gamer, I think "warp" is a better description of this phenomenon — TIME WARP might have resonated better for me, using "words that can precede TIME" — but I can see how that would get lost on a lot of solvers.

At first, I was curious why Tim used up-down symmetry. It shouldn't be that hard to find a 14-letter phrase with LAP or AMMO in the middle, yeah? But then I realized Tim gave himself an additional constraint of having the ends of the phrases be actual words — MOTHS, APSE, LIVES. It narrows down his choice of themers dramatically, thus forcing the up-down symmetry, but I like that added constraint a lot.

I did find it a bit odd that BELT LOOP didn't have a symmetrically-placed theme partner. It would have been perfect if Tim could have added a fourth example of this LOOPing to match with BELT LOOP, but how would you even lay that out? Maybe BELT all the way over on the right of the puzzle, and LOOP in the same row, all the way to the left, with a cross-referenced clue?

Well-executed grid otherwise, with just an ASK NO, NESTER, and TEDS as dings. TEDS does mean "spreads, as straw," but I'd much prefer a straightforward clue referring to multiple TEDs.

Nice to get some CLEAN AIR, CRUCIBLE, YES SIREE, KABOOM, IT'S A SECRET, HEDONISTIC in there, too. That's a ton of great bonuses. I would have expected much more crossword glue to make these all happen, so it speaks well to Tim's craftsmanship.

1
S
2
T
3
I
4
G
5
M
6
A
7
M
8
A
9
D
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V
11
O
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I
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T
14
K
A
B
O
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M
15
C
R
U
16
C
I
B
L
E
17
I
C
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S
U
P
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C
L
E
A
N
A
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M
O
T
H
S
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W
O
O
L
L
Y
M
A
M
21
S
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K
Y
Y
23
L
A
D
S
24
C
25
H
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O
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L
E
R
A
28
J
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A
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R
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L
O
N
I
32
I
T
33
S
A
S
E
34
C
35
R
36
E
37
T
38
A
P
S
E
39
S
T
O
C
K
S
C
O
L
L
40
R
O
E
G
41
H
E
D
O
N
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S
T
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C
42
A
N
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E
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N
N
A
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B
O
N
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E
A
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L
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U
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S
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M
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C
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P
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M
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E
N
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O
O
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O
M
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A
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B
E
L
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L
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D
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N
G
E
R
63
Y
E
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64
E
X
T
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A
K
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66
T
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D
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0803 ( 24,740 )
Across
1
Tough-to-remove stain : STIGMA
7
Cracked : MAD
10
Basketball brand : VOIT
14
Big report : KABOOM
15
Severe test : CRUCIBLE
17
Gets frosty : ICESUP
18
Concern for the E.P.A. : CLEANAIR
19
Outdoor lighting fixtures? : MOTHS
20
Drawings seen in France's Rouffignac Cave : WOOLLYMAMMOTHS
21
Grey Goose competitor : SKYY
23
Striplings : LADS
24
"Love in the Time of ___" (Gabriel García Márquez novel) : CHOLERA
28
Shake : JAR
31
Actress Anderson : LONI
32
What putting one's finger to one's lips may mean : ITSASECRET
38
Indoor recess : APSE
39
Headline after a market crash : STOCKSCOLLAPSE
40
"Walkabout" director Nicolas : ROEG
41
Pleasure-seeking : HEDONISTIC
42
Cell tower feature : ANTENNA
44
___ vivant : BON
45
British title holder : EARL
47
Parris Island grp. : USMC
51
Video game units : LIVES
55
Stuffed garnishes : PIMIENTOOLIVES
59
Code broken by rats : OMERTA
61
Waistband sight ... or what 20-, 39- and 55-Across each have? : BELTLOOP
62
What red may mean : DANGER
63
"You got it!" : YESSIREE
64
Acquire via blackmail : EXTORT
65
Otherwise called : AKA
66
Spreads, as straw : TEDS
Down
1
Less than 1%, say : SKIM
2
Order across the border : TACO
3
Sarcastic response : IBET
4
"Holy smokes!" : GOSH
5
Salon stuff : MOUSSE
6
Hype (up) : AMP
7
Sci-fi character nicknamed "Bones" : MCCOY
8
1968 self-titled folk album : ARLO
9
Drawing contest? : DUEL
10
Like records that are easily broken? : VINYL
11
President whose initials were also his dog's name : OBAMA
12
Long, old yarn : ILIAD
13
Come to ___ : TERMS
16
Nutritional label abbr. : CAL
20
Nemesis of the Clanton gang : WYATTEARP
22
Deity often depicted with blue skin : KRISHNA
24
Santa ___ : CLARA
25
Biker's invitation : HOPON
26
Dawn : ONSET
27
One working for the lord : LIEGE
28
Patriarch with 12 sons : JACOB
29
___ quarter (refuse mercy) : ASKNO
30
Shellac, e.g. : RESIN
33
What might make up for lost ground? : SOD
34
Also keeps in the know, in a way : CCS
35
Corruption : ROT
36
Skull and Bones collegian : ELI
37
"Cake Boss" channel : TLC
43
One living in the sticks, e.g. : NESTER
46
Modern home of ancient Tripolitania : LIBYA
47
Dark : UNLIT
48
Cache : STORE
49
Made field calls? : MOOED
50
Carries on through difficulty : COPES
51
Lucky strike? : LODE
52
Wide-screen format : IMAX
53
Magma conduit : VENT
54
"And so ..." : ERGO
56
Not assertive : MEEK
57
Visitor to Rick's Café Américain : ILSA
58
Figures in the 2016 film "Arrival," for short : ETS
60
Works in a salon : ART

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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