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New York Times, Thursday, September 24, 2015

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1.564313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 33 Missing: {JQVWYZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 92 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter A. Collins notes:
The original version of this one had BALTO TO TOTO TOME at 17-Across. That would've led to the tighter clue 'One volume of the ... read more

The original version of this one had BALTO TO TOTO TOME at 17-Across. That would've led to the tighter clue "One volume of the Encyclopedia of Movie Dogs?". Unfortunately, Will thought Balto was too obscure in his own right (as the hero of the original Iditarod), let alone as the star of the 1995 animated film "Balto".

That film was getting heavy rotation in the Collins VCR back in the day, as in the late ‘90s our four preteen girls were deep into a) dogs, and b) animated movies. About that time our family was passing through Cleveland on our way home from a family reunion. We stopped at the Natural History Museum. Imagine our surprise when we turned a corner and stumbled upon the real Balto, stuffed and standing in a plexiglass box. Our youngest daughter flipped out. Why a famous sled dog from Alaska ended up in Cleveland is a mystery to me. There's also a Balto statue in Central Park in New York. Another mystery to me.

If you were really to make one volume of an encyclopedia of Movie Pets and Sidekicks from Tonto to Toto, I think you'd have a hard time filling an index card let alone a tome. Therein lies the humor, I guess.

This puzzle was finally accepted last February. After a second and third revision (both involving TONTO for BALTO), it was decided to revert back to the second version. The third version had fewer three-letter entries, but overall the fill wasn't as good.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nicely consistent theme; a pair of letters repeated exactly four times (total of five instances) within a kooky sentence. I AM A MAMA ... read more

Nicely consistent theme; a pair of letters repeated exactly four times (total of five instances) within a kooky sentence. I AM A MAMA MAMBA gave me a chuckle — it would make a great seed for a picture book! LEND A DAD A DADA was a neat exercise in parse-ology, forcing me to struggle to figure out where the spaces went. Entertaining.

I AM A MA MAMA MBA! Er, A MAMA MAMBA!

I always appreciate getting some long pieces of fill in a crossword, and Pete hits my wavelength today with six long entries. SMOKE ALARMS, NEXT IN LINE, PHOTO ALBUMS, and RATTED ON are all strong entries in my book. And although SANTA MONICA is average-ish to me, the "Three's Company" clue brought me back to the days when Jack Tripper was my boyhood hero.

Sad, isn't it?

Note how well Pete spaces out his long downs. None of them are piled up against each other, and they're all separated by a good number of black squares. I personally use similar arrangements of six long downs all the time, as it makes for surprisingly easy filling. All this extra material for the price of only an EDE and a minor AGRI = good execution.

Great to get even more sparkle in ONE SEED, too. I dropped in TOP SEED, but ONE SEED is a term I hear all the time during the NCAA basketball tourney.

Will's mentioned that all he's looking for out of a Thursday crossword is for it to be harder than a Wednesday. One way to do this is to simply crank up the difficulty of the clues. Take [Tots] for example. It took me forever to figure out that it obliquely referred to "totals up," not "little kid." I personally find it much more satisfying to have the theme concept of the crossword difficult, not the clues, though. Once I cottoned to this particular trick, looking for letter-repetitions made it too easy for my taste to fill in the theme answers.

The clue for ABA gave me a middle-schooler's tee-hee — the last part of the [Org. with red, white and blue balls, once] clue made me think of something very different. Ahem.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0924 ( 24,061 )
Across
1. Not much, but better than none : SLIM
5. Cookout fare : RIBS
9. Head dog : ALPHA
14. One of the Nereids in Greek myth : IONE
15. Garden party? : ADAM
16. TV host who said "It's all been satirized for your protection" : MAHER
17. One volume in the Encyclopedia of Movie Pets and Sidekicks? : TONTOTOTOTOTOME
20. Outcome : UPSHOT
21. Goldfish relative : KOI
22. Instant ___ : TEA
23. Tournament favorite : ONESEED
26. Forever : EONS
27. Let someone's father borrow this Arp or that Duchamp? : LENDADADADADA
31. God with a shield : ARES
32. Scott Turow title : ONEL
33. Some spring plantings : BULBS
36. This and that : MIX
37. Social worker? : ANT
38. "You are so busted!" : AHA
40. Bucolic sound : BAA
41. Sellers of many films : PETER
43. Farming prefix : AGRI
45. Engine sound : PURR
46. Statement from the proud snake as its eggs were hatching? : IAMAMAMAMAMBA
49. Remote button : MENU
51. Sirius : DOGSTAR
52. Hawks' home: Abbr. : ATL
53. Bog : FEN
54. Lake Victoria locale : UGANDA
58. Recounting of the time you introduced the Egyptian goddess of fertility? : THISISISISISAID
62. German article : EINEN
63. Staple at a wedding reception : CAKE
64. Piece that can go left or right : OPED
65. Much of a world map : OCEAN
66. Forever : AGES
67. "Sure, I'm game" : LETS
Down
1. In ___ (as found) : SITU
2. Aerial stunt : LOOP
3. Comfort spots? : INNS
4. Section of a science paper : METHODS
5. Sold down the river, in a way : RATTEDON
6. Ringing endorsement? : IDO
7. Stick in a dugout : BAT
8. Signals to leave? : SMOKEALARMS
9. Mine, in Marseille : AMOI
10. Back muscle, to weightlifters : LAT
11. Where to get in your best shots? : PHOTOALBUM
12. Weightlifter types : HEMEN
13. Places : AREAS
18. Chaplin of "Game of Thrones" : OONA
19. Chuck of NBC News : TODD
24. "Three's Company" setting : SANTAMONICA
25. Palindromic Dutch city : EDE
26. End of a commencement speaker's address? : EDU
27. Part of the Pixar logo : LAMP
28. Sandusky's lake : ERIE
29. Like Charles vis-à-vis Elizabeth : NEXTINLINE
30. Org. with red, white and blue balls, once : ABA
34. Sharp remark : BARB
35. F.D.R.'s mother : SARA
37. Branch : ARM
39. Breaks : HIATUSES
42. Toilette water? : EAU
44. Shtick bit : GAG
45. Object seen in Seurat's "La Grande Jatte" : PARASOL
47. Citrus drinks : ADES
48. Figures in a crèche : MAGI
49. Start of the Nuevo Testamento : MATEO
50. Work ___ : ETHIC
53. Fictional boy who claimed "All kings is mostly rapscallions" : FINN
55. Scruff : NAPE
56. "Breakthrough" detailed in many a best seller : DIET
57. Tots : ADDS
59. Locale for Wynken, Blynken and Nod : SEA
60. Annual awards org. : SAG
61. Old White House nickname : IKE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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