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New York Times, Saturday, January 21, 2017

Author: James Mulhern
Editor: Will Shortz
James Mulhern
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2311/16/20091/21/20175
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01200911
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Mulhern. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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James Mulhern notes: I made this puzzle way back in December 2014, so I don't remember too much about the construction process. I do remember building ... more
James Mulhern notes:

I made this puzzle way back in December 2014, so I don't remember too much about the construction process. I do remember building out the upper-left corner and beginning pretty appalled by the Tetris-style arrangement of black squares, but going with it because I thought the fill was worth it.

I actually had some back and forth with Will and Joel about KIND EYES in the bottom-right. I had seeded the corner with that entry, but they initially asked me to rework things to eliminate it. I wrote an impassioned, 300-word email to defend the answer, and they agreed to run it. I'm glad they did... I hope solvers agree!

Jeff Chen notes: CATLIKE REFLEXES and I HOPE YOURE HAPPY anchor today's puzzle, both great entries. Interesting choice to have them running vertically ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

CATLIKE REFLEXES and I HOPE YOURE HAPPY anchor today's puzzle, both great entries. Interesting choice to have them running vertically instead of horizontally. That made it much more difficult for me to see the CATLIKE part of the first answer; made for a very difficult challenge.

I enjoyed some of the longer stuff, the combination of KICKBALL and USA TODAY really nice. Fun to think about Timothy Parker get KICKedBALLed out of that editorship due to plagiarism. LAPEL PIN was nice, too.

KIND EYES … my first reaction paralleled Will and Joel's: is that a real thing? After some thought, I seemed to remember that Lily Potter had kind eyes. Sniffling, I let it pass.

Chunky block patterns in the middle, indeed. A hidden pentomino mini-theme? I don't mind that central plus sign, but the other two scream EXCESSIVE USE OF BLACK SQUARES! to me ... even though they're also five squares big. Just like James mentioned, there's something excessively blocky about those shapes that makes my constructor's brain cringe.

A note on TARPONS. I used to hate this kind of entry. I remember seeing GALOPS back when I was starting to do crosswords and thinking that it was the worst entry I had even seen in my life and that it ruined the puzzle. But my sensibilities have changed a lot, mellowing with time. Although I still don't get much elation from something-new-but-unexciting like TARPONS, I like learning a little each day ... just as long as the crosses are fair. Sometimes people complain about TERRIBLE NEW THINGS THEY HAVE TO LEARN FROM THAT !%#$@ JEFF CHEN'S PUZZLES LIKE SIRENIA AND MOLDAU AND HE'S THE WORST CONSTRUCTOR EVER!

Haters gonna hate.

And these types of entries are useful to have in one's solving arsenal! Today, I was very glad that I had learned EDESSA / ODESSA (from crosswords). And LYCEUM too. Very tough the first time I encountered it, but glad it's part of my vocabulary now.

Tough solve; some great mental exercise.

1
K
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A
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B
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 24,546
Across Down
1. Popular playground pastime : KICKBALL
9. Pacific demonstrations : SITINS
15. News source with a "For the Record" feature : USATODAY
16. "Oh yeah!" : WOOHOO
17. Remarkably rapid : METEORIC
18. Overall : INTOTO
19. Producer of boxing rings : BELL
20. City in Central Macedonia : EDESSA
22. Permanent marker : PEN
23. Violinist Kavafian : ANI
24. Looks down : POUTS
25. Actress Campbell : NEVE
26. "Dear ___" ("Double Fantasy" song) : YOKO
28. Actress Thurman : UMA
29. Charles who starred in the 1938 drama "Algiers" : BOYER
30. Slightly : AWEEBIT
33. Prized game fish : TARPONS
35. He played Ant-Man in 2015's "Ant-Man" : RUDD
36. Place : LIEU
37. Come out on top : PREVAIL
40. Betraying extreme embarrassment : BEETRED
43. Prepare, as some Mexican food : REFRY
44. Movie-archiving org. : AFI
46. Bulbous perennial : SEGO
47. Women's issue? : ELLE
48. Series finale : OMEGA
50. Partner of 9-Down : HAM
51. Downwind : LEE
52. What small cranes may produce : CHEEPS
53. Tourist haven with the capital Denpasar : BALI
54. Home to the Zapotec people : OAXACA
56. Politician's accessory : LAPELPIN
58. Letter closing : ASEVER
59. Share confidences with : OPENUPTO
60. He wrote "Lust's passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes" : DESADE
61. Warm, inviting facial feature : KINDEYES
1. Camp classic : KUMBAYA
2. Words of understanding : ISEENOW
3. They result in very fast response times : CATLIKEREFLEXES
4. "Superhits of the Superstars" label : KTEL
5. Reaction from a tough crowd : BOO
6. Seller of TV and magazine spots, informally : ADREP
7. Knocked senseless : LAIDOUT
8. Oration location : LYCEUM
9. Partner of 50-Across : SWISS
10. College just north of New York City : IONA
11. Squirt : TOT
12. "Nice going, jerk!" : IHOPEYOUREHAPPY
13. "Far less than that" : NOTEVEN
14. Longhorns' rivals : SOONERS
21. Blocks, e.g. : STAT
25. Common beach policy : NOPETS
27. Works of a lifetime : OEUVRE
29. Imported wheels? : BRIE
31. Xmas, for Jimmy Buffett : BDAY
32. First name in infamy : IDI
34. It may be labeled "XXX" : ALE
37. Install, as software before shipping : PRELOAD
38. Software event : RELEASE
39. Sorry : LAME
40. 2013 World Series M.V.P., to fans : BIGPAPI
41. French motto part : EGALITE
42. Restaurant with a "playful" name : DOMINOS
45. "How ya holdin' up?" : FEELOK
48. United base : OHARE
49. "Dumb and Dumber" drive destination : ASPEN
52. Looped in, in a way : CCED
53. Midnight, e.g. : BLUE
55. Seat of Missouri's Douglas County : AVA
57. Appropriate answer for this clue : END

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

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