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New York Times, Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Author: John Lieb and Andrea Yañes
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
145/14/20138/21/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0432203
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60110
John Lieb
TotalDebutCollabs
18/21/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51010
Andrea Yañes

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FQVXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Lieb. This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Yañes. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: ANDREA: As I'm sure is true of many constructors, I'm thrilled to have a puzzle published in the Times for the first time. It'll be ... more
Constructor notes:

ANDREA: As I'm sure is true of many constructors, I'm thrilled to have a puzzle published in the Times for the first time. It'll be a bit surreal to see a puzzle I already know the answer to! As a biology teacher, I'm particularly excited that my first puzzle has an evolution theme and uses Charles Darwin as a reveal. John was really fun to work with, and his deep experience in these matters paired well with my instinct to push the envelope. I think we've come up with a fun and interesting challenge.

JOHN: Andrea teaches a course on evolution, so we started brainstorming themes related to that and the building up to DARWIN emerged as a fun possibility. There was not a lot of flexibility in theme entries (D, DA, and DARIN did not have many choices) so we were fortunate to be able to get symmetric theme entries. It was great fun making this puzzle with Andrea, going through the various grid layouts and discussing why this theme ultimately did not give us too many options to choose from.

My mom recently started doing the NYT crossword, so I am more aware than ever of the different generations doing the puzzle. TENACIOUS D will, I'm sure, be unknown to her, and to many (we worked hard to make the crosses fair!) but hopefully having a nostalgic BOBBY DARIN at the end will balance things out.

Jeff Chen notes: D 'evolving' to DARWIN, what a fun idea! I usually think of 'evolving' as one element changing for the better, so my first thought as ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

D "evolving" to DARWIN, what a fun idea! I usually think of "evolving" as one element changing for the better, so my first thought as a constructor might have been a word ladder (from ... (some six letter word) to DARWIN?). But word ladders can be pretty dull, so I like the concept here.

Each of the themers is so colorful. DARN TOOTIN, they are! Great work there.

Now that I think of it, the progression from amoeba to invertebrate to mammal, etc. is a kind of growth, isn't it? Okay, maybe this interpretation is a lot more appropriate than a word ladder.

Never mind me. Ahem.

Ah, five themers squished together. That was almost necessary since DARWIN at the very end forced BOBBY DARIN to move to row 12, instead of row 13, where it'd usually be. Everything gets crunched up, and O ME did we get a lot of crossword glue.

Will strives to avoid non-common abbreviations and initialisms since if you don't know them, there's no way to infer them. NMI is a prime example (no middle initial). Along with HALER ORY SYL TAUR ERL etc. it felt like a lot to wade through.

Thankfully, there was a good amount of long(ish) fill to help lift the solving experience, IRON MAN, GAP YEAR, PAR THREE making me wonder if I ATE CROW on my critiques! It's still not a trade-off I would have personally made, but I can see the appeal.

Heck, even BIRYANI, PERUSAL, CASSETTE are pretty interesting. Okay, that's a lot of solid bonus fill! Definitely helps to balance out the grid liabilities.

Perhaps an evolutionary step (sorry, couldn't help myself) would have been to shift DARN TOOTIN all the way to the left, so that DARWIN could be placed vertically, down off that D. Total grid redesign of course, but that would have allowed for better spacing of the long themers (BOBBY DARIN moving to row 13).

Overall though, it was something new for me, and the novelty was much appreciated. Really neat to get a theme from a debut constructor related to her profession!

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0821 ( 25,123 )
Across Down
1. Galoot : BIGAPE
7. "State of the Union" channel : CNN
10. Datebook entry: Abbr. : APPT
14. Skulls : CRANIA
15. Obama health measure, in brief : ACA
16. Actress Garr : TERI
17. "M*A*S*H" transport, informally : COPTER
18. Augusta National's infamous 12th hole, for one : PARTHREE
20. Bill ___, the Science Guy : NYE
21. Comedy rock duo featuring actor Jack Black : TENACIOUSD
23. Queen Gertrude's "alas" in "Hamlet" : OME
24. Kit ___ (candy bar) : KAT
25. Test, as 46-Across : ASSAY
26. Sacha Baron Cohen program of the early 2000s : DAALIGSHOW
31. Hoppy brew : ALE
32. Infamous bankruptcy declarer of 2001 : ENRON
33. Vest openings : ARMHOLES
36. "Reelin' in the Years" band : STEELYDAN
39. Part of VCR : CASSETTE
42. Attempts : STABS
46. Material that is 25-Acrossed : ORE
47. "Abso-lutely!" : DARNTOOTIN
50. Deli selections : MEATS
53. Opposite of max. : MIN
54. Schubert's "The ___ King" : ERL
55. 1950s-'60s teen idol who sang "Dream Lover" and "Splish Splash" : BOBBYDARIN
59. Quite standoffish : ICY
60. Enjoying some me time, say : ALLALONE
61. Embrace the aging process, in a way : GOGRAY
64. Bull: Prefix : TAUR
65. Garfield's owner, in the funnies : JON
66. New Year's Day : ONEONE
67. Comprehends : SEES
68. Lennon's love : ONO
69. Evolution theorist ... or what the circled letters are evolving toward? : DARWIN
1. Include covertly in an email : BCC
2. Avenger in a red-and-gold suit : IRONMAN
3. Hiatus between high school and college : GAPYEAR
4. Pot starter : ANTE
5. Slapstick projectile : PIE
6. Wildlife identifier : EARTAG
7. Quaker Oats' ___ Crunch : CAPN
8. March Madness org. : NCAA
9. Deal breaker? : NARC
10. Fellow Musketeer of Aramis and Porthos : ATHOS
11. Casual reading : PERUSAL
12. Chance to get good seats, say : PRESALE
13. Colors 1960s-style : TIEDYES
19. Spanish aunt : TIA
22. U.F.O. crew : ETS
23. Words of praise : ODE
24. "Roots" protagonist Kunta ___ : KINTE
27. An overtime one counts as a point in the N.H.L. : LOSS
28. More robust : HALER
29. Jazz's Kid ___ : ORY
30. Iraq War concern, for short : WMD
34. Is wearing : HASON
35. Aware of : ONTO
37. When something should take off, for short : ETD
38. Opposite of 37-Down : ETA
39. Fights against : COMBATS
40. Anatomical rings : AREOLAE
41. Ocean shade : SEABLUE
43. Was humbled : ATECROW
44. South Asian mixed rice dish : BIRYANI
45. Show with "TV Funhouse" pieces, in brief : SNL
48. Abbr. for someone with just a first and last name : NMI
49. Self-important minor official : TINGOD
51. Ski lift varieties : TBARS
52. Word part: Abbr. : SYL
56. Setting for "The Karate Kid" : DOJO
57. Shortly : ANON
58. Gambling mecca : RENO
59. Bob ___, longtime Disney C.E.O. : IGER
62. ___ lark : ONA
63. Craving : YEN

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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