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New York Times, Saturday, January 13, 2018

Author: Alan DerKazarian
Editor: Will Shortz
Alan DerKazarian
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
511/7/20131/13/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2010101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 35 Missing: {VX} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. DerKazarian. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alan DerKazarian notes: My first themeless in the New York Times! O happy day! After having numerous ones rejected you'd think I would now have a ... more
Alan DerKazarian notes:

My first themeless in the New York Times! O happy day! After having numerous ones rejected you'd think I would now have a better idea of what Will Shortz and company are looking for, but sadly I don't. Looking over the grid, it looks like a normal themeless of mine, but something must have caught their eye. I do remember in Joel's acceptance letter he said there were a lot of assets in the puzzle with little dreck. One interesting thing is that it doesn't appear that this grid pattern has ever been used in the New York Times before. Maybe its different look helped get it accepted? Enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes: Eye-catching pattern! Hit my sweet spot of using black squares to create a visually-pleasing backdrop, while not using TOO many. Did ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Eye-catching pattern! Hit my sweet spot of using black squares to create a visually-pleasing backdrop, while not using TOO many. Did you notice that the grid is also symmetric about the SW to NE axis? Elegant!

Some great entries, too. Loved PRIDE PARADE / UNITED FRONT and EGG MCMUFFINS / IM IMPRESSED in the longest slots — now that's the way to squeeze the most out of those all-important spaces!

Not a lot of other long slots, but they were also well-used in WATER DOG / SORE SPOT and NORMA RAE / SEMIARID … well, three out of four ain't bad. SEMIARID is pretty dry. (*rimshot*)

I love how NORMA RAE was elevated by its clue. It's not a movie that sticks in my head, but to clue it so innocently with [Field work] (it starred Sally Field) makes it shine.

Same goes for USO TOUR. Kind of old-timey feeling as an entry, but again, [Hope was once its driving force] obfuscates innocently away from (Bob) Hope.

Speaking of seven-letter entries, Alan did a nice job of using his mid-length slots. They're often tough to convert into snazzy material, but IQ TESTS is lovely, as are ROUGH IT, CUT TIME (classical music is often in 4/4 time, and CUT TIME halves it to 2/2).

EL DUQUE … I vaguely remember him because of his awesome nickname, but I don't know if he's crossworthy? Granted, he won four rings, but will he make it to the Hall of Fame? Not sure if he's someone all educated solvers ought to know.

BIT SEC … I'm somewhat tech-savvy, but this one's new for me. Not sure it's the type of debut entry one should strive for. Mb/sec is more common, yeah?

And Charles HAID … he had his day, back in the day. But not sure he's earned his crossworthiness.

Beautiful pattern of black squares, some great feature answers, mostly smooth flow to the puzzle. If Alan had been able to avoid the aforementioned clunkers (plus OTT, ALIS, AREOLAR, REARER), it would have been in POW! contention. It's so tough to make a wide-open 64-worder like this work without those types of compromises, though.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0113 ( 24,903 )
Across Down
1. What a physiognomist studies : FACES
6. Palma's island : MAJORCA
13. Christopher Paolini best seller : ERAGON
15. Hope was once its driving force : USOTOUR
16. Sluggishness : LANGUOR
18. Act : STATUTE
19. "Well done!" : IMIMPRESSED
21. Something with "three deuces and a four-speed" in a 1964 hit : GTO
22. 30, on a table : ZINC
23. God : MAKER
24. Golfer Mickelson : PHIL
25. Dryish : SEMIARID
27. ___ facie (legal phrase) : PRIMA
28. Former Ecuadorean "dollars" : SUCRES
29. London or Manchester : WRITER
30. Chicken characteristic : FEAR
31. Charles of "Hill Street Blues" : HAID
32. ___ stick : SELFIE
35. Measure of data transfer speed, for short : BITSEC
37. With nothing on top : PLAIN
38. Touchy subject : SORESPOT
40. Successor to Churchill : EDEN
41. Noted blind mathematician : EULER
42. Noted boxing family : ALIS
44. Blackguard : CUR
45. Alliance of groups against a common enemy : UNITEDFRONT
47. Measures of sharpness : IQTESTS
49. One-named singer with the 2016 #1 album "A Seat at the Table" : SOLANGE
50. Parts of pit crews : FUELERS
51. Throw a bomb : GODEEP
52. "You don't have to explain" : YESISEE
53. Like an eisteddfod festival : WELSH
1. Hernando's "happy" : FELIZ
2. A Musketeer : ARAMIS
3. Foxes, e.g. : CANINES
4. Croissan'wich alternative : EGGMCMUFFIN
5. Make more powerful, with "up" : SOUP
6. Rumpled : MUSSED
7. Bloom that's often white or lavender : ASTER
8. 1940 Fonda role : JOAD
9. N.H.L. Eastern Conference team, on scoreboards : OTT
10. Camp out in the wilderness, say : ROUGHIT
11. 2/2, in music : CUTTIME
12. Pertaining to colored rings : AREOLAR
14. Field work : NORMARAE
17. Parent, e.g. : REARER
20. Does some runs : SKIS
24. Annual June celebration : PRIDEPARADE
26. Strand during a storm, maybe : ICEIN
27. Stuck-up sort : PRISS
29. Newfoundland or golden retriever : WATERDOG
31. Staff additions : HIREES
32. Spell out : SPECIFY
33. Nickname for baseball's Orlando Hernández : ELDUQUE
34. Shakespearean fencer : LAERTES
35. Leave in a hurry : BOLT
36. Fast-food icon, with "the" : COLONEL
38. Neighbor of Allemagne : SUISSE
39. Hints : TINGES
41. ___-deux : ENTRE
43. Curry of the N.B.A. : STEPH
45. A smartphone has lots of them : USES
46. Go smoothly : FLOW
48. Country music's Mike ___ : ELI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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