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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
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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.

1
A
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A
5
L
6
S
7
H
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9
A
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P
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L
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G
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T
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T
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16
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T
J
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Q
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B
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J
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H
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V
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T
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W
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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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