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New York Times, Thursday, September 12, 2019

Author:
Grant Thackray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
53/19/20179/12/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2000201
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57010
Grant Thackray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Thackray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Grant Thackray notes:
When I first submitted this blurb, I did it for the wrong puzzle. I completely forgot this puzzle had been accepted, so it was a very pleasant ... read more

When I first submitted this blurb, I did it for the wrong puzzle. I completely forgot this puzzle had been accepted, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see it on the docket. It has several clues I'm proud of, such as the fun back-and-forth pairing at 32-Across and 33-Across, the simple wordplay of 53-Across, and the enigmatic misdirect at 52-Down.

I also just finished a six-week run acting in a production of "Matilda," which was a fabulous production full of talented and hilarious people, so it was funny that my past self somehow had the foresight to make a nod to that wonderful story in the clue to 57-Across, when I wrote that clue months ago. Or maybe Will Shortz tweaked the clue to mention the story, I don't remember. Either way is nice.

Finally, the blurb I wrote for the other puzzle talked about a connection to a Disney song lyric, just like 46-Across here. I'd say that's a funny coincidence, but anyone who knows me well enough, and has heard me belt out the entirety of the Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea" probably wouldn't be surprised.

As you may imagine, I had to remake this grid a few times until I got something remotely satisfying, as it's a bit difficult to fit five different Q's into a puzzle seamlessly. I also considered adding something along the lines of "IF IT AIN'T BAROQUE," or "GO FOR BAROQUE," but that felt too played out already. I also hoped I could fit the word "BISQUE" in somewhere because it's such a fun word, but there's no real homophonic counterpart that I could find, alas.

Jeff Chen notes:
MARQUEE MARK, that's a great one! If you know who Marky Mark is, that is. 'Mark Wahlberg' is a better name for a serious actor, but it ain't no ... read more

MARQUEE MARK, that's a great one! If you know who Marky Mark is, that is. "Mark Wahlberg" is a better name for a serious actor, but it ain't no Marky Mark. Boo!

I get so many theme queries playing on homophones that I'm more tired of them than ever. They have to have something special to make me sit up a little straighter. I appreciated Grant's take, restricting his to ones using a Q. That's a nice way to tighten the concept.

It's not what I want out of a Thursday – I deserve a bigger payoff after working so hard to finish – but there are some solvers out there who'll be proud to hold this one up as one of the few Thursday NYTs they've ever finished. It's okay to throw people a bone every once in a while.

I'd have liked a touch more elegance in the grid, what with ERI ETD NOI UND, and the odd clue for ONE A. That last one is undesirable in the first place, and to force solvers to think about Elvis's middle name (Aron) is an odd decision, making the entry even worse.

Thankfully, there was enough bonus material to balance things out. Working in ER NURSES, KNEE PAIN, OUTTAKES, BAD FAT, BAR B QS, I DUNNO, LOQUAT, PARODY? MAN OH MAN that's good. I'd have asked for one or two fewer of these in exchange for a smoother overall product, but I can buy the trade-off. That's a lot of sizzle.

Because you can throw a stone 50 feet in any direction and hit a homophone puzzle, it's so important to do something above and beyond. The Q restriction helped, but I'd have liked something even more. Perhaps a revealer would have helped pull it all together. Well, that's my cue to go, so I'm--

Hey, THAT'S MY CUE!

1
L
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B
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A
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C
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M
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A
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G
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Q
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0912 ( 25,510 )
Across
1
Extremity : LIMB
5
Snags : NABS
9
2001 title role for Audrey Tautou : AMELIE
15
What Elvis Aaron Presley's middle name is spelled with on his birth certificate : ONEA
16
Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT
17
Spinal Tap vis-à-vis 1980s rock bands : PARODY
18
Thataway, from a crow's-nest : THAR
19
Fury at a husband leaving his entire estate to his mistress? : WIDOWSPIQUE
21
Mitch who wrote "Tuesdays With Morrie" : ALBOM
23
Escape : FLEE
24
Sturm ___ Drang : UND
25
What an in-group uses for fishing? : CLIQUEBAIT
27
Actor Reeves : KEANU
29
Look at, biblically : SEEST
30
Flight board abbr. : ETD
31
Pull a cork from : UNSTOP
32
Org. that might pocket your checks : IRS
33
Org. that might check your pockets : TSA
35
Top of a schedule, maybe : LINEA
37
"Oh, I'm supposed to be in the line over there"? : THATSMYQUEUE
41
Dog with an upturned tail : AKITA
42
One using foul language? : UMP
43
World of Warcraft, e.g., for short : RPG
46
Image on the back of a Canadian nickel : BEAVER
49
What "team" has, it's said : NOI
51
Ed of "Up" : ASNER
53
Short staff? : ELVES
54
Some alcohol smuggled into a rodeo, say? : BOOTLIQUOR
56
Silverback, e.g. : APE
57
Author of the best-selling children's book "Matilda" : DAHL
58
Place in canopic jars, say : INURN
59
Smudge on a theater sign? : MARQUEEMARK
63
Secondhand sale stipulation : ASIS
65
Quick : ASTUTE
66
Sunburn aid : ALOE
67
Many a scuba destination : REEF
68
"Fuhgeddaboudit!" : NOSOAP
69
Those against : NAYS
70
"Happy Motoring" sloganeer, once : ESSO
Down
1
Alitalia : Italy :: ___ : Poland : LOT
2
Asthmatic's aid : INHALER
3
Least crisp, as an apple : MEALIEST
4
Some Labor Day events, informally : BARBQS
5
"It's a ___" ("I've changed") : NEWME
6
NPR host Shapiro : ARI
7
Butter, in a dieter's eyes : BADFAT
8
Without betraying emotion : STOLIDLY
9
Stained-glass window locale : APSE
10
Posting at many a park entrance : MAP
11
Verdi's "___ tu" : ERI
12
Japanese plum : LOQUAT
13
"You got me" : IDUNNO
14
Assessed lasciviously : EYEDUP
20
Word with suit or blanket : WET
22
Bonus features on some DVDs : OUTTAKES
25
Longtime staple of Thurs. night TV : CSI
26
Grendel, e.g. : BEAST
27
Reason to wear a brace : KNEEPAIN
28
Grandson of Abraham : ESAU
31
One, on a one : UNUM
34
Flutter one's eyelids, say : STIR
36
Words after "You can't fire me!" : IQUIT
38
Eat : HAVE
39
"Hoo boy!" : MANOHMAN
40
Some triage pros : ERNURSES
44
Flowers named after the Greek physician of the gods : PEONIES
45
Trespasser's warning : GRR
46
Refrain from "Mulan" before "With all the force of a great typhoon" : BEAMAN
47
City once represented in Congress by Beto O'Rourke : ELPASO
48
Prevents : AVERTS
50
"Well, isn't that fancy!" : OOLALA
52
Cat's opposite : SQUARE
54
Modern sweetie : BAE
55
Count for a Facebook post : LIKES
57
Very thought-provoking : DEEP
60
Status ___ : QUO
61
Tony winner Hagen : UTA
62
Walt Disney's older brother : ROY
64
Air hub between LAX and Sea-Tac : SFO

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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