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New York Times, Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Author: Gary J. Whitehead
Editor: Will Shortz
Gary J. Whitehead
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
154/10/20064/25/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0333402
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57120

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JW} Scrabble average: 1.91 This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Whitehead. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Phrases where both parts of the phrase can follow HOME: HOME BODY / HOME GUARD, HOME GAME / HOME BOY, etc. This theme type tends to ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Phrases where both parts of the phrase can follow HOME: HOME BODY / HOME GUARD, HOME GAME / HOME BOY, etc. This theme type tends to feature so-so entries because it's hard to find strong phrases that follow this principle — COMPUTER PORT isn't super snazzy, for example. But some good finds, BODYGUARD and FRONT PAGE particularly nice.

Working with six theme answers is not for the faint of heart. This typically results in 1.) an excess of crossword glue and/or 2.) a dearth of long bonus fill. Gary does quite well on the second point, featuring CHIMERAS, KEEP AT IT, ITS ON ME (I don't mind short word dupes like IT), TRUISMS, and even NUZZLES. These quality bonuses elevated my solve.

The first point, though … Gary does well to "stack" BODYGUARD just one row above GAMEBOY, sort of treating them like a single, long themer. This helps create good spacing between themers.

But there are so many prices to pay, all over the grid. The opening corner alone: MENT, EGESTS, QTY, URI crossing ANDIE. Inelegant. You might think that adding a black square, perhaps at the S of EGESTS would have helped smooth everything out. You'd be right, but Gary is already at the max word limit of 78, so that's not possible — so many themers means that Gary already had to spend his black squares elsewhere.

It's admirable to try to distinguish this theme by going to high density, but I'd have preferred a smoother puzzle at the price of not as many themers. Given that GAMEBOY and ICELAND feel unlike the others (being single-word entries that don't totally work with the theme revealer), the puzzle might have been stronger without them.

Very glad to get so many great pieces of bonus fill — the CHIMERAS type entries did help hold my attention.

A couple of years ago, Will said he was phasing out "word that can follow the ends of …" puzzles, as they had run their course. Given how long it's been since we've seen a "both words can follow ...", I wonder if this theme type has also reached the end of its lifespan.

1
I
2
R
3
A
4
Q
5
T
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R
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I
8
G
9
C
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B
11
G
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B
13
S
14
M
E
N
T
15
R
O
S
A
16
H
E
L
O
T
17
B
O
D
Y
18
G
U
A
R
D
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I
B
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Z
A
20
U
R
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A
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D
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G
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A
M
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B
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Y
24
E
G
E
25
S
T
S
26
N
E
V
E
27
C
O
M
28
P
U
T
E
R
29
P
30
O
31
R
32
T
33
S
34
A
35
M
E
36
S
E
Z
37
C
A
R
V
E
S
38
P
R
A
N
39
K
40
Z
Z
41
Z
42
S
I
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N
A
43
A
G
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E
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44
S
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L
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46
I
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M
O
V
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H
E
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E
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P
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A
S
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S
A
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I
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D
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O
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I
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C
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E
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L
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C
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S
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M
E
X
62
B
O
R
A
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63
F
64
R
O
N
T
65
P
A
G
E
66
M
I
T
Z
I
67
U
N
U
M
68
A
G
U
Y
69
S
L
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E
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N
A
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71
H
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M
E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0425 ( 24,640 )
Across Down
1. Country invaded in 2003 : IRAQ
5. H.S. math class : TRIG
9. Legendary music club in Lower Manhattan, informally : CBGBS
14. Suffix with refresh or replace : MENT
15. Parks of Alabama : ROSA
16. Spartan serf : HELOT
17. *V.I.P.'s security agent : BODYGUARD
19. Resort island near Majorca : IBIZA
20. The Rams of the Atlantic 10 Conf. : URI
21. Scholarship money : AID
22. *Nintendo hand-held : GAMEBOY
24. Disgorges : EGESTS
26. Actress Campbell of "Scream" : NEVE
27. *Place to plug in a USB cable : COMPUTERPORT
33. "Ditto" : SAME
36. Utters, informally : SEZ
37. Does the honors for Thanksgiving dinner : CARVES
38. Short-sheeting, e.g. : PRANK
40. Snoring sound : ZZZ
42. Tuscan city : SIENA
43. Sees eye to eye (with) : AGREES
45. 52, in old Rome : LII
47. Long, single take, in filmmaking : ONER
48. *Multiplex, e.g. : MOVIETHEATER
51. Stew morsels : PEAS
52. Exchange vows at the altar : SAYIDO
56. *NATO's smallest member, populationwise : ICELAND
60. Stock listings: Abbr. : COS
61. Ariz. neighbor : MEX
62. Sacha Baron Cohen character : BORAT
63. *Where a newspaper's biggest stories go : FRONTPAGE
66. Actress Gaynor of "South Pacific" : MITZI
67. "E pluribus ___" : UNUM
68. "So ___ walks into ..." : AGUY
69. Fall of winter : SLEET
70. What a ponytail partially covers : NAPE
71. There's no place like it ... or a word that can precede either half of the answer to each starred clue : HOME
1. Fill (with) : IMBUE
2. Corporate shuffle, for short : REORG
3. Love interest of Pacey on "Dawson's Creek" : ANDIE
4. Amt. : QTY
5. "What's right is right" and others : TRUISMS
6. Rocky ___ : ROAD
7. Haifa's country: Abbr. : ISR
8. Doohickey : GADGET
9. Monstrous creatures : CHIMERAS
10. French newborn : BEBE
11. Smooth-talking : GLIB
12. Schmo : BOZO
13. "___ With Me" (Sam Smith hit) : STAY
18. Purrer in Peru : GATO
23. Opposite of sans : AVEC
25. Act starter : SCENEI
26. Shows some affection : NUZZLES
28. Dispenser candy : PEZ
29. Religious abode : PRIORY
30. Baker's need : OVEN
31. Artist Magritte : RENE
32. Romanov ruler : TSAR
33. Often-filtered messages : SPAM
34. Jason's ship : ARGO
35. ___ Levy, Buffalo Bills coach in the Hall of Fame : MARV
39. "Don't quit!" : KEEPATIT
41. 1980s Pakistani president : ZIA
44. W.W. II-era British gun : STEN
46. Treater's phrase : ITSONME
49. Enjoyed oneself : HADFUN
50. Wind tile in mah-jongg : EAST
53. Insect stage : IMAGO
54. Use Goo Gone on, perhaps : DEGUM
55. Daisy variety : OXEYE
56. Some old PCs : IBMS
57. Snake's shape : COIL
58. Art Deco notable : ERTE
59. Loaf (around) : LAZE
60. Government overthrow : COUP
64. Single-stranded molecule : RNA
65. Part of a tuba's sound : PAH

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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