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New York Times, Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Author:
Dan Schoenholz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
245/5/20109/9/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
10344300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63220
Dan Schoenholz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes:
At some point I ran across a Times crossword by Tyler Hinman where he used a set of five homophones (OR/OAR/OER/ORE/ORR) as clues for ... read more

At some point I ran across a Times crossword by Tyler Hinman where he used a set of five homophones (OR/OAR/OER/ORE/ORR) as clues for fresh, longer phrases. That got me wondering if I could find a different set of five homophones that would lend themselves to fresh (and symmetrical) theme answers. This puzzle is the result.

Of my crosswords that have appeared in the Times so far, this one had the longest gap between acceptance and publication (almost three years).

Will Shortz notes:
This puzzle had been languishing in my files for several years, because I'd run a couple of others with we/wee/Wii/etc. themes. But I ... read more

This puzzle had been languishing in my files for several years, because I'd run a couple of others with we/wee/Wii/etc. themes. But I thought Dan's treatment was nice — and after a few years the whole idea feels fresh again.

Jeff Chen notes:
A nice twist on the puzzle type where all the theme answers are definitions of a single word. Dan's additional element of using ... read more

A nice twist on the puzzle type where all the theme answers are definitions of a single word. Dan's additional element of using homonyms of the single word (WII, OUI, etc.) helps keep the idea fresh. And I laughed when reaching "Whee!" A major goal of crosswords is to entertain, and seeing that brought a smile to my face.

This theme type isn't seen much these days, since the answers tend to sound like made-up phrases. PERSONAL PRONOUN and CRY OF DELIGHT are both snappy answers, in-the-language, but FRENCH FOR YES will cause some solvers to grumble, saying that it's not as satisfying to solve such an answer. All puzzle themes must evolve or die (the simple "word that follows the first half of X, Y, Z-across" is largely dead, for example) so I think in the future, this theme will need to include all in-the-language phrases as theme answers or have some other advancement in order to be successful.

In construction, it's generally best to spread out theme answers as much as possible, since this provides for flexibility in filling. Typically rows 3 and 13 contain the first and last theme answers for this reason. Ten and 11-letter answers in these positions often make for an easier to fill grid, while eight and nine-letter answers add a layer of difficulty. Today's is prime example of this: note how the 9-letter theme answers in rows 3 and 13 create wide-open 5x5 white spaces in the NE and SW corners. Anything 5x5 or bigger can be very difficult to fill cleanly, and having something like STERS is not an optimal result. There are ways around this, breaking up CAME ONTO and OLD FILES for example, but that takes out some good long fill. A difficult trade-off.

1
W
2
H
3
A
4
T
5
S
6
R
7
A
8
C
9
A
10
R
11
T
12
E
13
A
O
N
E
14
L
A
S
15
E
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A
V
A
I
L
17
X
B
O
X
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R
I
V
A
L
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M
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N
T
S
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Y
O
N
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A
M
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B
A
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E
A
G
L
E
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F
R
E
N
C
H
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F
O
R
Y
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S
25
T
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A
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H
O
E
S
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A
N
Y
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A
G
O
G
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R
31
E
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M
I
T
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N
34
B
35
A
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P
E
R
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O
38
N
A
L
P
R
O
39
N
O
U
N
40
S
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N
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L
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E
K
S
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A
S
S
T
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C
D
E
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A
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S
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C
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R
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Y
O
F
D
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L
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I
G
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L
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R
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Q
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D
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U
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A
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M
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T
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E
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A
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W
I
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S
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64
A
R
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65
O
P
T
S
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 23,310 )

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Across
1
"Huh?" : WHAT
5
Mrs., in Majorca : SRA
8
___ blanche : CARTE
13
Top of the line : AONE
14
Use a surgical beam on : LASE
16
Be of use to : AVAIL
17
Wii : XBOXRIVAL
19
Money makers : MINTS
20
Farther away, quaintly : YON
21
One-celled organism : AMEBA
22
Birdie beater : EAGLE
23
Oui : FRENCHFORYES
25
Chevy S.U.V.'s : TAHOES
28
All's partner : ANY
29
Very eager to see something : AGOG
30
Send in : REMIT
33
Org. for Wizards and Magic : NBA
36
We : PERSONALPRONOUN
40
Rep.'s counterpart : SEN
41
Onionlike vegetables : LEEKS
42
No. 2 : ASST
43
Start of a musical scale : CDE
44
Portfolio contents : ASSETS
46
"Whee!" : CRYOFDELIGHT
52
Téa of "Jurassic Park III" : LEONI
53
Actress Zellweger : RENEE
54
Abbr. after a series of equations, maybe : QED
57
Commonplace : USUAL
58
Wee : MINIATURE
60
Weird : EERIE
61
They aren't returned : ACES
62
Impudent : WISE
63
Suffix with road and hip : STERS
64
Works in a gallery : ART
65
Selects, with "for" : OPTS
Down
1
Candlelike, say : WAXY
2
Rail rider : HOBO
3
Soon, quaintly : ANON
4
Stereotypical cowboy name : TEX
5
Attacks à la "Ghostbusters" : SLIMES
6
Baltimore footballer : RAVEN
7
Easy ___ : ASABC
8
Tried to seduce : CAMEONTO
9
Zoo feature : AVIARY
10
Long-limbed : RANGY
11
Championship : TITLE
12
Someone ___ (not mine) : ELSES
15
"In the Valley of ___" (2007 film) : ELAH
18
Not found in many stamp collections, say : RARE
23
Steams (up) : FOGS
24
Not bad : FAIR
25
Military base tune : TAPS
26
"A Death in the Family" novelist : AGEE
27
Instrument used to play 25-Down : HORN
30
Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" : RAE
31
Yellowstone grazer : ELK
32
AWOL chasers : MPS
33
Red feature of Ronald McDonald : NOSE
34
Total failure : BUST
35
Antenna users : ANTS
37
They're often archived : OLDFILES
38
Scholarship criterion : NEED
39
Thomas with a sharp pen : NAST
43
1997 Nicolas Cage thriller : CONAIR
44
Like the philosophy "Out with the old, in with the new"? : AGEIST
45
Former home of the Mets : SHEA
46
Detectives' helpers : CLUES
47
Put back to the beginning : RESET
48
"___ the One That I Want" (song from "Grease") : YOURE
49
Funny Bombeck : ERMA
50
Classic German camera maker : LEICA
51
___ circle : INNER
54
Bon mot : QUIP
55
While preceder : ERST
56
Barely passing grades : DEES
59
Team size in beach volleyball : TWO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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