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New York Times, Monday, August 31, 2015

Author: Michael Dewey
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Dewey
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
61/9/201210/5/20160
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0303000
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1.73000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Dewey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Dewey notes: This puzzle, which I called 'Pool Cues' during construction, was one I began brainstorming several years ago. The expression DIVE ... more
Michael Dewey notes:

This puzzle, which I called "Pool Cues" during construction, was one I began brainstorming several years ago. The expression DIVE IN HEAD FIRST was my point of departure. From there I attempted to develop a theme with four or five different expressions with action verbs (jump, leap, etc.), but that did not pan out to my liking. The "get in the pool" theme came to me relatively easily, once I had GO OFF THE DEEP END to match up with the 15-letter count of the first one. TAKE THE PLUNGE soon followed and worked out nicely as a 13-letter entry for the center.

My first filled grid was unsatisfactory, so the puzzle sat on the back burner for probably six months before I resurrected it for completion. Looking at it with new eyes, I realized that the theme was a strong candidate for a NYT Monday because of those three lively expressions.

The grid underwent several more iterations until both Will and I were satisfied with this version for publication. It has some solid but easy fill entries like SEVEN DWARFS, HANG IN THERE, MEDIEVAL, and a fun new entry, TWIST TOP. As it stands, the puzzle is quite solvable, as a Monday crossword should be, to allow new solvers to stick a toe in the water without much trepidation. (This leads me to my new formula for measuring the degree of difficulty for NYT puzzles: Monday = Stick a toe in, Tuesday = Wade in the water (children), Wednesday = Take the plunge, Thursday/Sunday = Dive in head first, and Friday/Saturday = Go off the deep end).

In the end, the puzzle also acts as a reminder that the Summer of 2015 still has some life left in it.

Jeff Chen notes: Great theme; three colorful metaphors relating to jumping into a swimming pool. Really cool find, and so fortuitous that no words are ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great theme; three colorful metaphors relating to jumping into a swimming pool. Really cool find, and so fortuitous that no words are duplicated (except the minor THE in TAKE THE PLUNGE and GO OFF THE DEEP END). Wish I had made this discovery!

Getting medieval

It's become somewhat rare to get less than four themers in a weekday puzzle, but I'm perfectly fine with three long ones if they're all strong. All three here are beauties; vivid phrases that work so well together. I do expect more long fill out of a three-themer puzzle, so I like the effort Mike has put into giving us just that. Two pairs of long entries — HANG IN THERE / SEVEN DWARVES and MEDIEVAL / TWIST TOP — add so much to the sparkliness of the solve.

If only MEDIEVAL had been clued to the "Pulp Fiction" quote: "I'ma get ___ on your (bleep)." The Gray Lady doesn't allow ASS to be clued with this meaning, however. Ah well.

Nice to get a little extra in IVERSON and SISTINE as well.

I did notice some strain on the grid — not surprising given the size of those upper left and lower right corners. As much as I love Allen IVERSON, the pluralized OLEOS is a price to pay. And IVERSON's effects extend to the north section, forcing ETHNO and the partial A NAP. I think that's not a terrible trade-off, but since there's quite a bit more of the HOER, ONE A, A HIT sort of stuff, it felt like too much in total.

So, a fantastic theme and some great extras, but those extras came with a cost.

1
M
2
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0831 ( 24,037 )
Across Down
1. ___ pit (area at a punk concert) : MOSH
5. Cheese named after a town in Holland : EDAM
9. Phenom : WHIZ
13. Butterlike spreads : OLEOS
15. Adjust the strings of, as a guitar : TUNE
16. Shankar who mentored George Harrison : RAVI
17. Attack an endeavor vigorously : DIVEINHEADFIRST
20. Allen whose #3 was retired by the 76ers : IVERSON
21. Papal name chosen 12 times : PIUS
22. What a priest may absolve : SIN
23. Stepped (on) : TROD
25. Heroine of Purim : ESTHER
29. Pilgrim to Mecca : HADJI
31. Locale for Christmas lights : EAVE
33. Ginger ___ (soft drink) : ALE
34. Prevailed : WON
35. ___ mater : ALMA
36. The "O" in S.R.O. : ONLY
37. Get hitched : TAKETHEPLUNGE
40. Lacking adornment : BARE
41. Good things to have about you in an emergency : WITS
42. Building designer I. M. ___ : PEI
43. Terrier's expression of terror : ARF
44. Name, as sources : CITE
45. Entertainers Carvey and Delany : DANAS
48. M's and N's, in pronunciation : NASALS
50. Circa-W.W. I art movement : DADA
53. Pre-W.W. II public works project, for short : TVA
54. Moistens : WETS
56. Eighty-sixed : DITCHED
58. Lose one's mind : GOOFFTHEDEEPEND
62. Pakistani language : URDU
63. Expel from power : OUST
64. Jolt of power : SURGE
65. Holiday-time song : NOEL
66. Micro : millionth :: ___ : trillionth : PICO
67. Viewed : SEEN
1. In fashion : MODISH
2. Actress Munn of "Deliver Us From Evil" : OLIVIA
3. Title characters in Disney's first full-length feature : SEVENDWARFS
4. Gardener in the weeds : HOER
5. Prefix with centric : ETHNO
6. Word before north or process : DUE
7. "I need ___" (yawner's words) : ANAP
8. Pertaining to the time of castles and knights : MEDIEVAL
9. Where to wear a watch : WRIST
10. Part of a sarcastic laugh : HAR
11. Hosp. hookups : IVS
12. Teen's facial blemish : ZIT
14. The Vatican's ___ Chapel : SISTINE
18. Neither's partner : NOR
19. What to light on a stick of dynamite : FUSE
24. X'd out : DELETED
26. "Don't give up now!" : HANGINTHERE
27. Vogue rival : ELLE
28. "The Bridge of San Luis ___" : REY
30. Rib-tickler : JOKE
32. Charges (up) : AMPS
35. Score ___ (enjoy some success) : AHIT
36. Draft-worthy : ONEA
37. "Gone With the Wind" plantation : TARA
38. Like some easy-open bottles : TWISTTOP
39. Subjects of some software pop-ups : UPDATES
40. Outlaw : BAN
44. Musical symbol : CLEF
46. Exact retribution for : AVENGE
47. Make melancholy : SADDEN
49. Terrible : AWFUL
51. Supplement : ADDTO
52. Go pfft : DIE
55. Feng ___ (harmonizing philosophy) : SHUI
57. PC brains : CPUS
58. Rev, as an engine : GUN
59. Pizarro's gold : ORO
60. Praiseful poem : ODE
61. Abort key : ESC

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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