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New York Times, Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Author:
Stanley Newman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
235/5/19849/13/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1832513
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.640012
Stanley Newman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Newman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Stanley Newman notes:
This theme was inspired by seeing SHAQ ATTAQ in the Wikipedia article for Shaquille O'Neal, in search of something new to say about ... read more

This theme was inspired by seeing SHAQ ATTAQ in the Wikipedia article for Shaquille O'Neal, in search of something new to say about him in a crossword clue.

Slightly surprised that the phrase has apparently not been previously used as a crossword answer, I proceeded to round up QUINQUAGENARIAN and QUEBECNORDIQUES (with online assistance) as the best long answers to round out the theme--neither of which had appeared as a Times crossword answer before.

The central 9 pretty much requiring four sets of 7's in the corners, I thought it most prudent to deal with the six Q Downs by using the maximum allowable answer count of 78. Careful placement of the 15s and the black squares resulted in three of the Q Downs being three-letter words starting with Q.

Dealing with the those Down Qs first, I found the grid not overly difficult to complete. Give yourself extra points if you noticed the two echoes of the theme beyond the longest Acrosses: CUE CARDS at 38 Across and "Quid pro __" (QUO) at 68 Down.

Knowing that Will wanted this clued in a fairly easy manner didn't dissuade me from my usual attempt to have as many "brand-new clues" as possible in my puzzles for him. Some required some extra digging, such as the F.C.C. hearings on CSPAN (10 Across). 67 Down came from personal experience: Last year, I took a tour of the Liverpool boyhood home of John Lennon, which included the guide's prominent mention of Yoko ONO as the benefactor.

Jeff Chen notes:
I think the theme is … entries with two Qs? At first, I was underwhelmed, as there have to be a ton of entries with two Qs, ... read more

I think the theme is … entries with two Qs? At first, I was underwhelmed, as there have to be a ton of entries with two Qs, yeah? Not the case! I only searched for a few minutes, but the few others I turned up were QUOTE UNQUOTE, UNIQUELY QUALIFIED, QUID PRO QUO, QUADRATIC EQUATION, QUELQUECHOSE, QUEEQUEG, QLEARQUIL, LIQUOR IS QUICKER, BURLESQUE QUEEN(S). Shows what I know!

Although having so few theme squares made the theme feel thin, it did allow Stan to play with a wide-open grid. A couple of long entries, the juicy CUE CARDS and MORTIMER, gave me a smile (as I reminisced about "Trading Places" and "Arsenic and Old Lace"), and a whole slew of seven-letter fill in the corners. There wasn't anything sizzling in that mid-length material, but I did appreciate TORPEDO, POITIER, and the good use of the Qs in ACQUITS and MACAQUE. These are all fun words, although I wish at least some of those seven-letter entries had really jumped out at me like CUE CARDS.

Speaking of CUE CARDS, is that related to the theme? Or could it have been? Sometimes I think puzzles don't give solvers enough credit when they use an overt "revealer" phrase at the end of the puzzle, summarizing what's going on with the theme. Here, I think there's untapped potential for some wordplay, some fun CUE of CUES phrases that could enrich the theme. Not quite sure what that might be, though. If only TWO CUES or CUE PAIR or something were a real phrase.

But Stan does a nice job of smoothly filling his grid, only a minor SCI and … that's it. Pretty darn good work considering he had to work around six Qs — not an easy task. I personally would have preferred more colorful fill, especially more multi-word phrases like CUE CARDS, at the cost of a few more gluey bits. Since the grid is so beautifully clean — pretty much immaculate — I doubt I would have even noticed two or three more bits as minor as SCI. But it's a reasonable decision to go almost perfectly clean, if not that snazzy.

1
A
2
C
3
T
4
V
5
C
6
S
7
P
8
A
9
N
10
S
11
P
12
A
13
M
14
C
O
R
A
15
O
P
E
R
A
16
I
O
W
A
17
Q
U
I
N
18
Q
U
A
G
E
N
19
A
R
I
A
N
20
U
P
C
21
V
C
R
22
S
O
D
23
T
I
N
24
I
L
K
25
C
H
E
26
R
27
S
28
P
I
T
E
29
T
E
L
30
L
31
D
I
32
B
33
S
34
L
E
E
R
35
S
T
E
E
36
P
37
S
38
C
U
E
39
C
A
R
D
S
40
S
H
A
41
Q
A
T
T
A
Q
42
M
43
O
44
R
T
I
M
E
R
45
S
P
U
46
R
47
T
48
S
49
A
R
E
A
50
E
D
D
51
Y
52
E
E
O
C
53
C
O
P
T
54
O
55
O
A
56
R
57
S
58
S
R
I
59
A
T
L
60
L
61
E
62
G
63
R
O
C
64
O
P
S
65
Q
U
E
66
B
E
C
N
67
O
R
D
I
68
Q
U
E
S
69
U
N
T
O
70
H
A
N
O
I
71
U
N
D
O
72
E
D
E
N
73
O
T
O
W
N
74
O
D
O
R
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0913 ( 24,416 )
Across
1
End of "Macbeth" or "Othello" : ACTV
5
Airer of F.C.C. hearings : CSPAN
10
Something caught in a filter : SPAM
14
"Downton Abbey" countess : CORA
15
"Macbeth" or "Otello" : OPERA
16
Davenport's home : IOWA
17
Person between 50 and 59 : QUINQUAGENARIAN
20
Supermarket checkout lines? : UPC
21
RCA introduction of 1977 : VCR
22
Surfacing for a golf course : SOD
23
Pie pan material : TIN
24
Sort : ILK
25
The Goddess of Pop : CHER
27
Vindictiveness : SPITE
29
Rebuke, with "off" : TELL
31
Rights, informally : DIBS
34
Oblique look : LEER
35
Brews, as tea : STEEPS
38
Orators' aids : CUECARDS
40
O'Neal's memoir of his N.B.A. rookie year : SHAQATTAQ
42
___ Brewster, Cary Grant's role in "Arsenic and Old Lace" : MORTIMER
45
Gushes, as from a water fountain : SPURTS
49
Domain : AREA
50
Water swirl : EDDY
52
Workplace fairness agcy. : EEOC
53
Acknowledge as true : COPTO
55
Things sometimes seen in banks : OARS
58
___ Lanka : SRI
59
The Braves of the N.L. East : ATL
60
Chicken drumstick : LEG
63
Mythical bird : ROC
64
Black ___ (secret missions) : OPS
65
N.H.L. team that became the Colorado Avalanche : QUEBECNORDIQUES
69
Frequent follower of "said" in the Bible : UNTO
70
Vietnam's capital : HANOI
71
Mistyping remedy : UNDO
72
1950s British P.M. Anthony ___ : EDEN
73
Central Florida metropolis, informally : OTOWN
74
Perfume : ODOR
Down
1
Emulates the O. J. Simpson jury : ACQUITS
2
"Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses," e.g. : COUPLET
3
Sparse flow : TRICKLE
4
Moving day vehicle : VAN
5
Davenport, e.g. : COUCH
6
Let off from punishment : SPARED
7
Violin's string tightener : PEG
8
Mars, to the Greeks : ARES
9
iPod Mini successor : NANO
10
Title bestowed on 72-Across : SIR
11
Sidney of "Lilies of the Field" : POITIER
12
Was in store for : AWAITED
13
Miss ___, etiquette columnist : MANNERS
18
Channel for TV shoppers : QVC
19
15+ minutes of a typical TV hour : ADS
26
Lucy or Ricky on "I Love Lucy" : RICARDO
28
Award on a wall : PLAQUE
30
Vampire in "The Vampire Chronicles" : LESTAT
32
Waffle introducer? : BUT
33
Gels : SETS
36
___ Beta Kappa : PHI
37
Unchanged : SAME
39
Beanie, e.g. : CAP
41
Logician's "There you have it" : QED
42
Cousin of a baboon : MACAQUE
43
Deep and sonorous, as a voice : OROTUND
44
Filled (with) : REPLETE
46
Reverberate : RESOUND
47
Sink, as one's chances : TORPEDO
48
___ kick (swimming technique) : SCISSOR
51
Peter of Peter, Paul and Mary : YARROW
54
Corrida cheer : OLE
56
"The Thinker" sculptor : RODIN
57
Many an ology: Abbr. : SCI
61
Reverberate : ECHO
62
Metaphor for insignificance : GNAT
66
"___ courage!" (French cry) : BON
67
Donator of Lennon's home to the National Trust : ONO
68
Quid pro ___ : QUO

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

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