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New York Times, Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Author: Freddie Cheng
Editor: Will Shortz
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77/12/20107/4/20180
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1222000
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1.62000
Freddie Cheng
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Cheng. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Freddie Cheng notes: As these are my first comments for XWord Info, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Will for his guidance for this and ... more
Freddie Cheng notes:

As these are my first comments for XWord Info, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Will for his guidance for this and previous endeavors. Construction newbies, do not be discouraged — Will is really very helpful!

As brief background, I originally hail from England, where you're more likely to come across words like AGNAIL (?) or WINDLESTRAE (??) than OREO in a crossword. I personally find US-style crosswords more fun though, with its smattering of general knowledge thrown in. Also, speaking as an ex-engineer with a poor command of Chaucer-English or botany, I tend to do better solving the US ones.

On to the puzzle, which was submitted in September 2013, with final acceptance in April 2014. Straightforward break-a-something theme, where you don't actually physically break any of the items. The original submission had the revealer BREAKAWAYS, but Will suggested and preferred BREAKABLES that you see in the final product. With six themers, there's some compromising (OK, ugly) 3-letter fill to enable some fresh vocabulary. Most questionable entry : MATIC (sorry about that, but it's my engineering background). Personal favorite : GAZILLION (useful in engineering also!). Cozy pairing : LEGWARMERS + SWEATPANTS (neither of which I've worn).

All the good clues are Will's — he's so much better at this than I am, especially at pitching to the right level of difficulty for the given weekday.

Jeff Chen notes: I like this type of theme, going one step past 'word that can follow.' Here, we have BREAKABLES revealing that one can break a FEVER, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I like this type of theme, going one step past "word that can follow." Here, we have BREAKABLES revealing that one can break a FEVER, break a RECORD, break a SWEAT, etc. Fun to think of all the disparate things that can be broken, in such different ways.

An OWLET MOTH

Cool layout, too. Freddie not only puts in six themers, but gives us a lot of great fill. Usually when people go up to such high theme density, it's at the cost of colorful fill. Not today! KEYNESIAN is my favorite, as macroeconomics fascinates me. Central banks and monetary policy have such a huge influence over the lives of millions, yet some economists advocate doing EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what others insist upon. It's bizarre how little macroeconomists definitively know.

GAZILLION is really nice too. Fun and expressive word. But wait, there's more! FIRE DANCE gets wedged in too — so much strong material made for a cool bonus.

One issue for me is that "break a leg" is a colorful saying, but it's the only saying in the bunch. Made it feel like an outlier. I suppose one can break a leg, literally, but that doesn't fit with the idea of the puzzle for me.

Nice and smooth, especially given all the theme material and long fill. It's too bad that ITE and OID stick out in row nine, but they're minor. RARES seems less minor to me — it's hard to imagine any collector looking for RARES. But what else are you going to do with that R?R?S pattern going through three themers? Collateral damage from the high theme density.

EMBAR is also a funny one. It does appear to be a legit word, but the "To bar or shut in" definition makes it seem awfully bizarre. Collateral damage from the OWLET MOTH long fill.

All in all though, I really appreciated the combination of high theme density and a lot of colorful long fill.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0930 ( 24,067 )
Across Down
1. "___ goes it?" : HOW
4. Pow! : WHAMMO
10. Rubber-stamp : OKAY
14. 2013 Twitter event, briefly : IPO
15. Café specification : AULAIT
16. Mad stepson in "I, Claudius" : NERO
17. High excitement : FEVERPITCH
19. Took a gander at : EYED
20. Memorable hurricane of 2011 : IRENE
21. Performance with torches : FIREDANCE
23. Cement mixer input : SAND
24. Desire of one submitting a demo CD : RECORDDEAL
25. Fertility clinic eggs : OVA
27. Profs' paper graders, often : TAS
28. Workout attire that became a 1980s fad : LEGWARMERS
35. "Holy cow!" : YIPE
38. Taking after : ALA
39. Driver's ed enrollee, e.g. : LEARNER
41. Deadeye's asset : AIM
42. Great Sphinx locale : GIZA
44. Bottom of a gym? : SWEATPANTS
46. Mineral suffix : ITE
48. Suffix with planet : OID
49. Debut time for many TV shows : FALLSEASON
55. After the bell : LATE
59. Flying nocturnal insect : OWLETMOTH
60. Puts the kibosh on : NIXES
61. Greek goddess of the earth: Var. : GAIA
62. Extra-care items for movers ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 24-, 28-, 44- and 49-Across : BREAKABLES
64. Libidinous god : EROS
65. Classic game consoles : ATARIS
66. Greek H : ETA
67. Mardi Gras follower : LENT
68. Part of the Wyndham hotel group : RAMADA
69. Like a shrinking violet : SHY
1. Players of 45s : HIFIS
2. "Cavalleria Rusticana," for one : OPERA
3. Like wickerwork : WOVEN
4. Ending with metal or mal- : WARE
5. Start of a drill sergeant's count : HUP
6. Phrase in some biography titles : ALIFE
7. Ronco Veg-o-___ : MATIC
8. Smaller than small : MICRO
9. None of the above : OTHER
10. Vitamin frequency, often : ONEADAY
11. Like many mainstream economic theorists : KEYNESIAN
12. Betel nut-yielding tree : ARECA
13. Alpine call : YODEL
18. Fund, as a foundation : ENDOW
22. E.P.A.-banned pesticide : DDT
24. Hardest-to-find items for a collector : RARES
26. Kilmer who played Batman : VAL
28. Online gaming annoyance : LAG
29. "The Book of ___" (Denzel Washington movie) : ELI
30. Huge amount, slangily : GAZILLION
31. Backwoods parent : MAW
32. Bard's preposition : ERE
33. Genetic messenger : RNA
34. Determined to achieve : SETON
36. Word before boss or bull : PIT
37. Ambulance letters : EMS
40. N.Y. sch. whose team is the Engineers : RPI
43. "Maybe even more" : ATLEAST
45. Ditch the script : ADLIB
47. Guinness suffix : EST
49. 1993 Economics co-Nobelist Robert : FOGEL
50. In the know : AWARE
51. Confine to jail : EMBAR
52. Line from the heart : AORTA
53. Early car powerer : STEAM
54. U.S. women's soccer star Kelley : OHARA
56. Trucker's toll factor : AXLES
57. Elephants' tusks, essentially : TEETH
58. Op-ed piece : ESSAY
60. Probe-launching org. : NASA
63. Not be serious : KID

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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