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New York Times, Saturday, January 13, 2018

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

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 better idea ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
F
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A
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C
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S
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M
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A
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J
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F
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H
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B
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C
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P
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A
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F
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F
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G
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Y
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W
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H
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0113 ( 24,903 )
Across
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
Down
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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