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New York Times, Monday, September 5, 2016

Author: Tracy Gray
Editor: Will Shortz
Tracy Gray
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249/8/20106/12/20185
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6245610
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1.60431

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {VXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 18 for Ms. Gray. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tracy Gray notes: My first Monday puzzle! The inspiration came from a little retail therapy at the mall with one goal in mind: FIND THE PERFECT JEANS. ... more
Tracy Gray notes:

My first Monday puzzle! The inspiration came from a little retail therapy at the mall with one goal in mind: FIND THE PERFECT JEANS. In the store, surrounded by the overwhelming choices of jean styles, fits, rises, etc., my crossword brain kicked into high gear and I quickly had some theme entries in mind, even before leaving the fitting room.

My first grid (not submitted) had a revealer of sorts with the Neil Diamond song "FOREVER IN BLUE JEANS" (18) broken up into two 9's and three styles of jeans as theme entries. My second grid, which I submitted, was rejected because (SLIM)SHADY was too similar to (SKINNY)DIP and (LOOSE)LIPS was overly generic, in terms of jean styles. However, the rejection came with the encouraging words "different and fun theme" and a note from Joel saying that he had come up with (BAGGY)EYES - which I loved. The next day, I came up with (RIPPED)ABS, (BOOT)DRIVE, and (CUTOFF)SAW, the latter of which Will felt was the best, plus it worked with my simple JEANS revealer, crossing at the "A."

So, that's the real skinny on this Labor Day puzzle — hope you enjoy the holiday and the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: 'Words that can be preceded by' theme today, something we rarely see these days. (Most editors take very few of them now.) A few ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

"Words that can be preceded by" theme today, something we rarely see these days. (Most editors take very few of them now.) A few months ago, Tracy asked me about this idea, and I mentioned that although it is indeed a "words that can be preceded by," what might help elevate it is that some of the terms — SKINNY (JEANS), LOW RISE (JEANS) — are fresh, colorful phrases. It also has a somewhat "fashionable" feel to it, making it a little more upscale.

Tracy does a nice job with her grid, especially considering the theme density. Five longish phrases, including a 15-letter one, are tougher to fill around than jamming oneself into a pair of SKINNY JEANS. Just getting a smoothish, cleanish result is an accomplishment, but Tracy works to give us the nice UP AND AT IT (AT EM would have been just perfect!). TWO HANDED is more workmanlike, but getting some OPAQUE, ENSUITE helps elevate the solve. I like seeing those careful touches, showing the constructor's desire to do something more for the solver.

Relative lack of DRECK, too — I was almost all the way through the puzzle before I hitched at the south. Not surprising that two themers (FLARE GUNS and CUT OFF SAW) sandwiching a six-letter word (ENESCO) would be the boggiest section. All the ENESCO crossings are fair (although that entry in itself might turn off some novice solvers), but to have any ?STAR, NEURO, and the slightly odd UNCAP doesn't do that region any favors. It's a lot to cram into one tiny section.

I wasn't familiar with the term FLARE JEANS, but fashion is not at all my forte, and it does Google well. I felt as a mechanical engineer I should know CUT OFF SAW, but it didn't hit my ear very well as something like, say, CHOP SAW. Research shows it's a real thing though — perhaps I've been out of engineering too long.

Nice execution through most of the puzzle, along with some great phrases like SKINNY DIP and BAGGY EYES, helping to overcome my personal ennui with this type of theme.

1
G
2
A
3
R
4
B
5
S
6
O
7
D
8
S
9
D
10
R
11
U
12
G
13
S
14
O
B
O
E
15
T
H
R
U
16
D
E
P
O
T
17
B
A
G
G
18
Y
E
Y
E
S
19
S
L
A
T
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I
C
E
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A
M
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C
H
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E
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A
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G
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L
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K
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N
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A
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P
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S
O
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A
31
A
32
S
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O
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P
36
A
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Q
U
E
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M
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L
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W
R
42
I
S
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B
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I
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43
D
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44
I
W
O
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M
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H
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W
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F
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L
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J
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A
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C
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C
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F
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F
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0905 ( 24,408 )
Across Down
1. Apparel : GARB
5. Installs, as a lawn : SODS
9. Prilosec and Prozac : DRUGS
14. Double-reed woodwind : OBOE
15. Drive-___ window : THRU
16. Bus station : DEPOT
17. Facial sign of sleep deprivation : BAGGYEYES
19. Roof material : SLATE
20. Decorate, as a cake : ICE
21. Actor Don of "Trading Places" : AMECHE
23. Pony up, in poker : ANTE
24. Like outfits with ruffles and lace : GIRLY
26. Bathe in the buff : SKINNYDIP
28. Symbol of royalty in ancient Egypt : ASP
30. Baseball's Slammin' Sammy : SOSA
31. Sparkling Italian wine : ASTI
34. Hard to see through : OPAQUE
38. Male turkey : TOM
41. It has only a few stories : LOWRISEBUILDING
44. Battle of ___ Jima : IWO
45. Springsteen's E ___ Band : STREET
46. Thing : ITEM
47. Luau dance : HULA
49. Lamb's mother : EWE
51. Distress signal producers : FLAREGUNS
56. Board for a séance : OUIJA
60. Telephoned : RANG
61. Romanian composer Georges : ENESCO
63. Number of lords a-leaping : TEN
64. Break off a relationship : ENDIT
66. Tool for severing a steel cable, maybe : CUTOFFSAW
68. "And ... ___!" (director's cry) : SCENE
69. Asia's diminishing ___ Sea : ARAL
70. Moth whose name is Latin for "moon" : LUNA
71. Not give a definitive answer : HEDGE
72. City with piers : PORT
73. America's Cold War foe, for short : USSR
1. Shoot for the stars : GOBIG
2. Counting devices : ABACI
3. "I read you," in radio lingo : ROGER
4. Plead : BEG
5. Thorn's site on a rose : STEM
6. "I totally agree!" : OHYES
7. Worthless stuff : DRECK
8. Japanese food : SUSHI
9. Orthodontist's deg. : DDS
10. Pass-the-baton track events : RELAYS
11. Energetically starting one's day : UPANDATIT
12. Mobster John : GOTTI
13. Descriptive of some bills or hills : STEEP
18. Celebratory cheers : YAYS
22. Connected, as a bath to a bedroom : ENSUITE
25. Den : LAIR
27. Yule tune : NOEL
29. Mailing charge : POSTAGE
31. Late, great boxing champ : ALI
32. "You reap what you ___" : SOW
33. Like some tennis grips : TWOHANDED
35. The "p" of r.p.m. : PER
36. He's next to Teddy on Mount Rushmore : ABE
37. "___ pasa?" : QUE
39. Bill with Washington's face : ONE
40. "The Wizard of Oz" studio : MGM
42. Castaway's spot : ISLE
43. "Mon ___!" : DIEU
48. Insistence : URGING
50. Dog's bark : WOOF
51. Scoring high on Rotten Tomatoes : FRESH
52. Jouster's weapon : LANCE
53. Open, as a toothpaste tube : UNCAP
54. Prefix with transmitter : NEURO
55. Celestial cool red giant : SSTAR
57. Couple's answer to "Who's there?" : ITSUS
58. Article of apparel with styles found at the starts of 17- 26-, 41-, 51- and 66-Across : JEANS
59. Egypt's Sadat : ANWAR
62. Male foal : COLT
65. Jockey purchase, informally : TEE
67. It might give you the chills : FLU

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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