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New York Times, Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Author:
Matthew Sewell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/24/20163/11/20181
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2104011
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1.65121
Matthew Sewell

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Sewell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matthew Sewell notes:
My friend and colleague David Clisbee used the phrase SCRAMBLE THE JETS in a meeting, and that was that. I wanted each theme entry to ... read more

My friend and colleague David Clisbee used the phrase SCRAMBLE THE JETS in a meeting, and that was that. I wanted each theme entry to feature J-E-T-S in a different order — that plus all those Js made construction interesting. I'm grateful to Will and Joel for their improvements to this grid; I hope solvers enjoy encountering ROCKET J. SQUIRREL, and don't begrudge JULES ET JIM its French title.

Jeff Chen notes:
ROCKET J SQUIRREL! Just like in Matt's debut puzzle, a single entry (in that case, CALVINBALL) can generate such a connection for me. ... read more

ROCKET J SQUIRREL! Just like in Matt's debut puzzle, a single entry (in that case, CALVINBALL) can generate such a connection for me. As a latchkey kid, I watched every single "Rocky and Bullwinkle" at least five times. It's a wonder I ever learned anything — besides Rocky's full name, that is.

SCRAMBLE THE JETS is vivid and fun, too, hinting at the circled letters.

A friend recently asked me about an anagramming idea, where he was going to put five randomly-ordered letters in the middle of phrases. I told him I wasn't a huge fan, since so much anagramming has been done that you really have to do something special in order to stand out. His task seemed way too easy.

Anagramming JETS is definitely a challenge — Js are so inflexible to work with, and having just one vowel adds another level of difficulty. ROCKET J SQUIRREL is such a beautiful way to hide the J E T S letters. COURT JESTER is another excellent one, although it does stand out as the only themer where you could have the J E T S letters in two places (using the first or second T). I only barely recognized JULES ET JIM, but what a neat way to work ino those four letters.

METS JERSEY was the only one that felt slightly off to me. It is a real thing, no doubt. But it did feel somewhat arbitrary, opening a Pandora's box for METS CAP or METS JACKET or METS GAME, etc. Hmm.

I liked the long entries, PERORATE a fun word to learn. ("Bloviate" is another one I like to describe windbaggery.) A treat to get LARKSPUR, CALLER ID and ON DEMAND, along with some fun mid-length ROOMIE, ANKLET, HEXAPOD.

Not such a treat to get the assortment of OJO, LEK, AS IM, SSR, IS TOO, etc. — quite A DRAG. It's the trade-off constructors face so often: perfectly smooth with not much zing, or a ton of color with a proportional amount of crossword glue?

Still, ROCKET J. SQUIRREL hiding an anagram of JETS, which he constantly does! I'll remember the puzzle for that alone.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0921 ( 24,424 )
Across
1. Common sans-serif font : ARIAL
6. Citi Field predecessor : SHEA
10. Stop up ... or talk up : PLUG
14. Unit for a lorry : TONNE
15. News agency for a 57-Down : TASS
16. Make less difficult : EASE
17. Flying furry friend from Frostbite Falls, formally : ROCKETJSQUIRREL
20. Mayonnaise, for one : EMULSION
21. ___ choy : BOK
22. Entry in an equine family tree : SIRE
23. New York sports fan's purchase : METSJERSEY
28. Students may pass them : TESTS
30. Six-legged creature, to an entomologist : HEXAPOD
31. Hazmat suit features : VISORS
35. Wine casks : TUNS
36. Rigoletto, for one : COURTJESTER
39. Detach gradually (from) : WEAN
41. Diminishes by degrees : ERODES
42. Uhura portrayer Zoë : SALDANA
44. Something boring : ADRAG
49. 1962 François Truffaut film classique : JULESETJIM
53. "Bite ___ tongue!" : YOUR
54. British record giant : EMI
55. Trattoria shot : ESPRESSO
57. Spring into action ... or an apt directive for 17-, 23-, 36- and 49-Across : SCRAMBLETHEJETS
61. Go round and round : SPIN
62. Defaulter's auto, often : REPO
63. Students may pass them : NOTES
64. "Ant-Man" star Paul : RUDD
65. "And I should care because ...?" : OKSO
66. Porterhouse cousin : TBONE
Down
1. Not moving : ATREST
2. One sharing a Wi-Fi password, maybe : ROOMIE
3. Racks up, as debt : INCURS
4. Jewelry worn by Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" : ANKLET
5. Dregs : LEES
6. Pony Express's Missouri terminus, informally : STJOE
7. Lacks : HASNT
8. Lawyer's title: Abbr. : ESQ
9. Sch. with a Phoenix campus : ASU
10. Give a long, grandiloquent speech : PERORATE
11. Buttercup family member with irregularly shaped blossoms : LARKSPUR
12. "What's the ___?" : USE
13. It secures locks : GEL
18. O'Brien who wrote "The Things They Carried," 1990 : TIM
19. Alpine goat : IBEX
24. Wail on a 33-Down : SHRED
25. "Full House" uncle : JESSE
26. Forever, seemingly : EON
27. QB rating factor: Abbr. : YDS
29. Div. in a "Law & Order" spinoff : SVU
32. Nobel Prize-winning daughter of the Curies : IRENE
33. Fender model, familiarly : STRAT
34. Eye, in Ávila : OJO
36. Phone screening service : CALLERID
37. Movie screening service : ONDEMAND
38. Bag-screening org. : TSA
39. Financial news inits. : WSJ
40. French quencher : EAU
43. "___ sure you know ..." : ASIM
45. Colorist's task : DYEJOB
46. Took on, as a challenge : ROSETO
47. 19th-century author who wrote "Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief" : AUSTEN
48. Michigan's ___ Pointe : GROSSE
50. Cherokees, for example : JEEPS
51. Playground comeback : ISTOO
52. Dashboard fig. : MPH
56. Tony-winning musical that begins and ends on Christmas Eve : RENT
57. Kazakhstan, once: Abbr. : SSR
58. Its speed is usually measured in GHz : CPU
59. "My man" : BRO
60. Albanian coin : LEK

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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