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New York Times, Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Author: Sen. Joe Donnelly and Michael S. Maurer
Editor: Will Shortz
Joe Donnelly
TotalDebutCollabs
11/10/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66000
Michael S. Maurer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
255/4/19921/10/20183
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
32511310
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.550006

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQX} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Donnelly. This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Maurer. See all the celebrity crosswords. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: CELEBRITY CROSSWORD
This puzzle is a collaboration by the basketball-loving senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, working together with longtime crossword contributor Michael S. (Mickey) Maurer, the owner of the Indianapolis Business Journal. This is Mickey's 25th crossword for The Times.
More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes: MICKEY: I am delighted when my puzzle appears in the New York Times so I always try to maintain three puzzles in the queue to feed ... more
Constructor notes:

MICKEY: I am delighted when my puzzle appears in the New York Times so I always try to maintain three puzzles in the queue to feed that addiction.

Puns and quips are my favorite crossword puzzle themes. We should all know by now that it is difficult to shoot a quip puzzle idea past Will Shortz. I keep trying. Many of my recent puzzles including this collaboration with Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly are themed puns. Some of these puns made me laugh out loud. See 18 across.

It was a pleasure to work with Senator Joe Donnelly. I am not making a political statement here, but I was not surprised to learn that Senator Donnelly was recognized as the 2nd most bipartisan Senator since 1993 by the Lugar Center, McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is easy to work with. I had originally intended to hide his name in the puzzle (don, nelly) but those letters didn't mesh well with the theme clues.

We chose a basketball theme for Indiana, a basketball crazy state that produced Oscar Robinson, Larry Bird and George McGinnis. McGinnis was recently enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2017). You do not need a deep understanding of the game of basketball to enjoy this puzzle. I hope you like our effort.

Jeff Chen notes: Plays on basketball terms! ALLEY OOPS as a bowling flub made me laugh, as did FOUL LINE = something a censor has to bleep out. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Plays on basketball terms! ALLEY OOPS as a bowling flub made me laugh, as did FOUL LINE = something a censor has to bleep out.

Great to get so much bonus material, too. The grid was packed with such goodies as WISEASS, APPLE TV, HOOKS UP, and an ejected player hitting the SHOWERS. Along with Eric SEVAREID and a fun wordplay clue in DILATES (eye pupils, not student pupils!), that's a lot of good stuff.

It almost felt like a little too much. When your themers all have question marked clues, it's important not to have too many other question marked clues in the grid, for fear of muddying up theme vs. fill. With DILATES and WISEASS in such prominent positions within the grid, I wasn't sure if I was missing some theme material. I mean, Dennis Rodman is a WISEASS, right?

It's unusual to put themers in row 2, so that also muddied things up for me. It wasn't hard to pick out the five themers, but it wasn't easy, either. I would have liked a more standard layout, with themers in rows 3 / 13 instead of 2 / 14.

I know, us regular solvers are so annoyingly demanding about our crossword conventions!

A bit too much crossword glue in SKAT / ESTE, DBL, SOO, GIE. I can understand the constructors' decision to prioritize snazziness over smoothness, but it felt like the prices I had to pay as a solver were too high. I would have preferred a less audacious grid, perhaps breaking up WISEASS / TOPPLED, and/or SEVAREID / LINSEEDS.

As a big basketball fan myself (well, until I tore my Achilles playing one-on-one last year), I enjoyed the hoops wordplay. I also liked that the constructors selected terms that would be mostly accessible even to non-fans. As much as I like more specialized lingo like DOUBLE DRIBBLE, or SHOT CLOCK, terms like FAST BREAK are more accessible to a larger number of solvers.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0110 ( 24,900 )
Across Down
1. Exchange of words : DIALOG
7. Smart farm animal? : WISEASS
14. Chevrolet model : IMPALA
15. Warning during a heist? : BANKSHOT
16. Washes against, as the shore : LAPSAT
17. In baroque fashion : ORNATELY
18. Gutterball? : ALLEYOOPS
20. Afternoon social : TEA
21. Pigeon-___ : TOED
22. Filler ads, in brief : PSAS
24. Korean border area, for short : DMZ
27. Sinus doc : ENT
28. Yukon or Sierra : GMC
30. Opening word at many a conference : WELCOME
33. Eric of old CBS News : SEVAREID
36. Flipped (through) : LEAFED
37. Dinner at the end of Ramadan? : FASTBREAK
39. Where Socrates lived : ATHENS
42. Artists' oil sources : LINSEEDS
46. Like Times Square on New Year's Eve : CROWDED
48. Diet of Jack Sprat's wife : FAT
49. "Doesn't excite me" : MEH
50. Spanish uncle : TIO
51. Elite team member : SEAL
53. Bowery boozer : WINO
54. "The Spy Who Loved Me" org. : KGB
57. Rug store promotion? : FREETHROW
60. Pacifies : ASSUAGES
63. Establish : CREATE
64. Something bleeped out for television? : FOULLINE
65. Successful batter : HITTER
66. Knocked over : TOPPLED
67. Think about only one thing : OBSESS
1. Works with pupils? : DILATES
2. "No one's with me" : IMALONE
3. Digital media player that's "big" in New York City? : APPLETV
4. Operated on, as the eyes : LASED
5. Beauty product line with the slogan "Ageless" : OLAY
6. Cat, to Catarina : GATO
7. Site of a 1955 "Pact" : WARSAW
8. Comfort ___ : INN
9. 32-card card game : SKAT
10. Punta del ___ (Uruguayan resort) : ESTE
11. Leading : AHEADOF
12. Fa follower : SOL
13. Home on a farm : STY
15. Noggin knocks : BOPS
19. Footnote abbr. : OPCIT
23. Jennifer Lopez title role : SELENA
25. ___ Tussaud: Abbr. : MME
26. The end of the British monarchy? : ZED
28. Thou : GRAND
29. Things babies make : MESSES
31. ___ of one's worries : LEAST
32. One might say "Happy Birthday" : CAKE
34. Not many : AFEW
35. Two-bagger: Abbr. : DBL
38. Part of N.R.A. : RIFLE
39. SAT alternative : ACT
40. Numerical prefix : TRI
41. Has a one-night stand, say : HOOKSUP
43. Abu Dhabi, for one : EMIRATE
44. Signifies : DENOTES
45. An ejected player might be sent to them : SHOWERS
47. Protect against the other team scoring : DEFEND
52. The end of the British monarchy? : ARSE
53. Sharpens : WHETS
55. More than a sip : GULP
56. Spalding or Voit product : BALL
58. Bounce off the wall : ECHO
59. Chicago daily, informally : TRIB
60. Back, on a ship : AFT
61. Great Lakes' ___ Canals : SOO
62. Bestow, to Burns : GIE

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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