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THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY

New York Times, Thursday, September 3, 2015

Author:
Merl Reagle (1950-2015)
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
102/11/19679/3/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4011211
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.490013
Merl Reagle
Merl Reagle

This puzzle:

Rows: 17, Columns: 17 Words: 94, Blocks: 56 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Reagle. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: In honor of the late, beloved crossword constructor Merl Reagle, today we present a classic puzzle of his from the 1999 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
Jeff Chen notes:
As many of you already know, the great Merl Reagle passed away a few weeks ago; a huge loss for the crossword community. Only having gotten into ... read more

As many of you already know, the great Merl Reagle passed away a few weeks ago; a huge loss for the crossword community. Only having gotten into crosswords a few years ago, I really appreciated seeing this gem by Merl from way back in 1991. It's astounding to see how good this puzzle is given its point in crossword history, well before computer-assisted design became easily accessible.

You know you've made it big when you get a part on The Simpsons

Merl always stressed the importance of crosswords being first and foremost fun for solvers. This puzzle is a great example of that. The theme is so grin-inducing, I would have given it the POW! all by itself. I love Greek mythology, so seeing MANACLES reimagined as "man-a-clees" (similar to Pericles) is so hilarious. Each one of the ten (!) themers (not including the revealer!) works well for me; each one evoking a similar-sounding name from ancient Greece. TELEPHONE bring Persephone to mind, ANTIBIAS does the same for Phidias, etc.

To pack so much great material into a puzzle done by hand is amazing. And although Merl was known for being fine with six-letter partials and "imaginative" pieces of fill like PREWRAP, EXILER, IDLERS, and OTTS, there's remarkably little of that in play. I would consider it a very good puzzle in today's standards, and an absolute home run in 1991 standards.

It's so strange to think that I'll never see Merl again. He was so supportive, contacting me after I got my first NYT Sunday crossword published, both with kudos and a couple of tips. And at my first ACPT, he chatted with this fanboy for a long time, happy to talk shop with many a kind word for my work.

Merl hasn't published a puzzle in the NYT for a long time, since all his work went into his weekly Sunday puzzle, so I'm really glad to have this opportunity to add him to the list of constructors earning a Puzzle of the Week nod.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 24,040 )
Across
1
Small group, as of trees : CLUMP
6
Hibernating : DORMANT
13
Lush : BOOZER
14
Greek god of bondage? : MANACLES
15
Greek goddess of learning? : ERUDITE
16
Greek goddess of communication? : TELEPHONE
17
Slogging areas : MIRES
18
"You want to go ___?" : WHERE
20
Had wings : ATE
21
23-Across and others : OTTS
22
Wear away : ERODE
23
Slugger's first name : MEL
25
Young 'un : TOT
26
Does a number on : SCAMS
27
Greek god of fertility? : GAMETES
31
Greek goddess of messages? : ENVELOPE
33
Used bookstore containers : BINS
34
Pep rally cry : RAH
35
Catch some rays : SUN
36
Bumpy : ROUGH
38
Sicilian's millions : LIRE
39
Key to understanding the theme of this puzzle : REPRONUNCIATION
43
Title villain of a "Star Trek" film : KHAN
44
May, for one : MONTH
45
Peeping ___ : TOM
46
1940s war zone: Abbr. : EUR
47
Prepares to fire : AIMS
48
Greek god of equal opportunity? : ANTIBIAS
53
Greek god of electricity? : AMPERES
55
Actor Ryan : ONEAL
56
Hit bonus, for short : RBI
57
Poison indicators, on bottles : XES
58
Butler's last words : ADAMN
59
Goad gently : COAX
60
___ alai : JAI
62
Acting exercise : SCENE
63
Cut a rug : DANCE
64
Greek god of healthy hair? : FOLLICLES
67
Greek god of mercy? : SPAREUS
69
Greek god of tangy drinks? : LIMEADES
70
Goof-offs : IDLERS
71
Weapon-free : UNARMED
72
Fabric meas. : SQYDS
Down
1
Cable channel that broadcasts trials : COURTTV
2
Silver streaks : LODES
3
Weapons in action films : UZIS
4
Trysted : MET
5
Do before, as a gift chore : PREWRAP
6
Bumpers of Arkansas : DALE
7
Common lunch hour : ONE
8
Grammys category : RAP
9
Lt. commander of '60s TV : MCHALE
10
Frequently : ALOT
11
Hawaiian goose : NENE
12
Poet on whose work "Cats" is based: Abbr. : TSE
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Tony Blair, for one : BRITON
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Nothing more than : MERE
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Be a ham : EMOTE
16
Kennedy and others : TEDS
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Base clearers : HOMERUNS
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Cuts in expenses : ECONOMIES
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Macy's Parade locale : MANHATTAN
24
Dash units : EMS
26
Disparaging remark : SLUR
27
Best Picture of 1958 : GIGI
28
Rock's Police or Cream, e.g. : TRIO
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Get through work : EARN
30
"Does" or "doesn't" follower : SHE
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Where to see "Outside the Lines" : ESPN
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America's only bachelor president : BUCHANAN
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Province opp. Detroit : ONT
38
Life's partner : LIMB
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Baba au ___ : RHUM
40
Tombstone lawman : EARP
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Club aliases, for short : NOMS
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Work hard : TOIL
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Mauna ___ : KEA
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"Facts ___ facts" : ARE
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Moriarty, to Holmes : NEMESIS
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Wrinkle removers : IRONERS
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You can count on it : ABACUS
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"Boxcars" : SIXES
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Performer of a banishing act : EXILER
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"To Spring" and others : ODES
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Air force heroes : ACES
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Had feelings (for) : CARED
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Sign up : JOIN
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___ mater : ALMA
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Hillside thrill-ride need : SLED
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Emmy-winning Tyne : DALY
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Winter woe : FLU
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"___ shocked ... shocked!" : IAM
66
String between B and F : CDE
68
"By yesterday" : PDQ

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?