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New York Times, Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8512/9/197912/3/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
660132130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610812
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 68 for Ms. Lempel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes:
The initial idea for this theme hit me with the phrase 'peters out.' But finding some teammates for Peter, along with their baseball ... read more

The initial idea for this theme hit me with the phrase "peters out." But finding some teammates for Peter, along with their baseball actions, took a really long time.

A list of possibilities sat around in my hugely bulky and totally unorganized "ideas" folder for at least a couple years, which is not at all unusual. (And which does have its disadvantages. I can't count the number of times that a percolating theme has shown up in print with someone else's byline.)

Anyway, the lengthy incubation was largely because my various permutations kept coming up short in two ways. First, I really wanted to use WOLF'S DOWN, for Wolf Blitzer, but could never get it to work. And second, I didn't want to have just one woman in the group, which is the way things kept ending up. Finally, I just got tired of seeing this, decided on the current set, and waved it goodbye in November of 2012. But now I see that the whole male-female balancing act was unnecessary because Will changed PAT from Benatar to Sajak, thereby leaving Carrie as the lone female. I never really liked using "Benatar" anyway, so I'm not real surprised at the change.

The clues! I was amazed to go through them. Other than PAT's gender transformation, my clues remained mostly intact, with only a handful of substantive changes. The one that stands out was for STATUTES at 22D. Will's is fun and mine was boring. Thanks, Will!

Will Shortz notes:

Lynn Lempel is always a joy to edit because a) her grids are so clean and b) her clues are so good. I rewrote only eight clues in her entire puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Wonderful puzzle today. How Lynn found five normal phrases to fit this theme is beyond me. JACKS UP, for example, is such a great base ... read more

Wonderful puzzle today. How Lynn found five normal phrases to fit this theme is beyond me. JACKS UP, for example, is such a great base phrase (as in a store jacking up prices), plus it can be read as "Jack's up!" Beautiful idea with five solid themers.

It's also a perfect example of adding pizzazz into a puzzle without having to resort to a lot of long fill. Sure, there's the nice SORE LOSER and BOTTLE FED and BUGABOOS, but what really impresses me is Lynn's careful eye for the shorter stuff. ODD JOB. BREW PUB. JAKARTA. ALADDIN. Putting together a crossword is hard enough that sometimes it feels like a small miracle just to get a grid filled using regular words you can gloss over like… well, like GLOSS. I love it when a constructor grabs hold of each step of the filling process, carefully sorting through many options before landing on opulent words… like… like MAGI.

I like to eyeball a grid even before I start solving, and it's almost always a good sign to see white space apportioned out like this. There's nothing too big (making for a challenging fill) or too small (sectioned off areas can make for a choppy solving experience). Just right. At 78 words it hits the maximum allowed number of answers, but that matters not one bit to me. Using 76 or even 74 words can often allow for some really nice long fill, but Lynn shows that you can give a quality solving experience in 78 words too. It just takes more care, which she clearly put in here.

Finally, look how smooth the short fill is. So little to even point out. OLEO is an outdated product, but you do still see the word on some dairy aisle boxes. And NEHI may be a brand gone by the wayside, but I have fond memories of Radar O'Reilly drinking Grape Nehis on M*A*S*H. Outstanding work; bravo.

1
C
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O
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B
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M
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P
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J
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J
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0805 ( 23,646 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Corn throwaways : COBS
5
Emcee : HOST
9
Swampy tract : MARSH
14
Common sunscreen additive : ALOE
15
Sufficiently skilled : ABLE
16
___ State (Hawaii) : ALOHA
17
"That makes three strikes for O'Toole!" : PETERSOUT
19
Japanese model : CAMRY
20
"That's plain wrong!" : NOTSO
21
Miscalculates : ERRS
23
Monopoly acquisition : DEED
24
Shish kebab meat : LAMB
26
"Uh-oh, Sajak has fallen in the field!" : PATSDOWN
28
Spot for some local suds : BREWPUB
31
Ring king, once : ALI
32
Lummoxes : OAFS
33
Basic training grads : GIS
35
Christmas glitter : TINSEL
39
Cincinnati-to-Detroit dir. : NNE
40
"Now we have Nicklaus at bat" : JACKSUP
42
Good Grips kitchen brand : OXO
43
Handyman's assignment : ODDJOB
45
Thus far : YET
46
Chocolaty nibble : OREO
47
In the past : AGO
48
Shakespearean storm : TEMPEST
50
"There goes Zuckerberg, trying for a steal!" : MARKSOFF
55
Bellow in a bookstore : SAUL
56
Inkling : IDEA
57
Margarita option : SALT
59
Luster for the lips : GLOSS
62
Dishonest types : LIARS
64
"Fisher made it to first base!" : CARRIESON
66
Word with Sea or Star : NORTH
67
Lake in an old railroad name : ERIE
68
Classic soda brand : NEHI
69
College applicant's composition : ESSAY
70
Office sub, perhaps : TEMP
71
Non-Derby pace : TROT
Down
1
Title for Horatio Magellan Crunch, on cereal boxes : CAPN
2
Promise product : OLEO
3
Like some motherless calves and foals : BOTTLEFED
4
Vacillates : SEESAWS
5
Contains : HAS
6
Double-reed woodwind : OBOE
7
Eat noisily : SLURP
8
Neon ___ : TETRA
9
Bub : MAC
10
Magic lamp rubber of lore : ALADDIN
11
The "thou" in "Wherefore art thou?" : ROMEO
12
Headstrong woman, as in Shakespeare : SHREW
13
Joseph who wrote the "Surprise" Symphony : HAYDN
18
Cavort : ROMP
22
Things passed on the way to the White House? : STATUTES
25
Persistent problems : BUGABOOS
27
Freudian mistake : SLIP
28
Knighted U2 singer : BONO
29
Name on many a road map : RAND
30
Pen name? : BIC
34
Wild blue yonder : SKY
36
One moaning and groaning after a defeat : SORELOSER
37
Custody sharers, often : EXES
38
Plunder : LOOT
40
Goes once or twice around the track, maybe : JOGS
41
Encyclopedia from A to Z, e.g. : SET
44
Indonesia's capital : JAKARTA
46
Splendidly luxurious : OPULENT
49
New Testament gift bearers : MAGI
50
"Now We Are Six" writer : MILNE
51
"Hasta mañana" : ADIOS
52
Brings up : REARS
53
Aspect : FACET
54
Signal light : FLARE
58
Cut back a bit : TRIM
60
Gallery-filled Manhattan neighborhood : SOHO
61
State of vexation : SNIT
63
Like a shrinking violet : SHY
65
One of 435 in D.C. : REP

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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