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New York Times, Thursday, January 19, 2017

Author:
Jacob Stulberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3012/25/20131/2/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3449640
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.597100
Jacob Stulberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 39 Missing: {JQWZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. There are unchecked squares This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Stulberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jacob Stulberg notes:
Of all the puzzles I've sent to the New York Times, today's may have had the shortest time to publication: submitted in July 2016, ... read more

Of all the puzzles I've sent to the New York Times, today's may have had the shortest time to publication: submitted in July 2016, returned for revision in October, and accepted later that month. A tip of the hat to Will for lending a current-events angle to MICHAEL and ROBBY, which were originally clued as "‘Peter Pan' character" and "Steinhardt of Kansas." (Had I constructed this puzzle slightly later, my clue for HBO might well have been "‘The Young 24-Across' airer.")

Jeff Chen notes:
Politicians' CHECKERED PAST(s) riffed on today, four instances of P-A-S-T circling a checkerboard pattern. I always sit up a little ... read more

Politicians' CHECKERED PAST(s) riffed on today, four instances of P-A-S-T circling a checkerboard pattern. I always sit up a little straighter when I see something new in a grid's black squares, so I enjoyed the fun first impression here.

Nice that Jacob put his P at the top in the NW corner, the right in the NE corner, the bottom in the SE corner, and at the left in the SW corner. Sort of looks … cyclical? Don't know what the right word is, but the constant progression is pleasing to this constructor's sensibilities.

I did feel like the puzzle was theme-thin. Once I uncovered CHECKERED PAST, I was able to fill in the P-A-S-Ts, and then that was it. It sure would have been nice to have maybe just one CHECKERED P-A-S-T and a few other literal interpretations of political-related phrases. SLINGING MUD comes to mind, as does ATTACK AD or SUPER PAC? Not sure, but some more variety would have been good.

Given the theme thinness, I appreciated Jacob's effort to give me more bonuses to keep my attention. Such nice entries in THE COMETS, TELEPORT, A LA MODE, and the really long STEEPLECHASES and TOP O THE MORNING. The latter two did make me wonder if they were themers, given the lack of other themers in the grid, but I shrugged that off quickly.

Great clue for TOUPEES: only some are "top secrets," some others quite obvious to everyone. (cough TRUMP cough.) As a founding member of the Triple Bs (the Bad Bald Boys, whatchagonnado?), Sam and Doug and I say the truth shall set you free!

Overall, I liked the trade-off of getting a lot of nice bonuses for minor prices of OFA, HET, AEROS, but it would have been nice to get more meat to the theme.

1
S
2
H
3
O
4
C
5
K
6
S
7
S
8
M
9
U
10
T
11
T
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Y
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T
O
U
P
E
E
14
S
15
T
E
A
T
R
E
E
16
A
R
T
I
E
S
T
17
O
X
T
A
I
L
S
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R
R
R
P
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E
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S
P
T
21
T
E
L
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D
I
E
T
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A
E
R
O
S
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P
O
P
E
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O
F
A
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S
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P
I
T
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A
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N
O
T
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M
I
C
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H
A
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E
L
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H
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O
P
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P
E
R
S
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C
H
E
C
K
E
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R
E
D
P
A
S
T
38
T
H
E
C
O
M
E
T
S
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V
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C
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R
A
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H
B
O
S
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M
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O
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P
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I
H
O
P
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S
A
B
R
A
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T
O
L
L
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C
A
M
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T
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S
Y
N
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P
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I
D
A
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A
L
A
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M
O
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D
E
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I
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C
E
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T
R
A
Y
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R
E
N
A
M
E
S
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N
O
R
I
E
G
A
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S
T
O
P
B
Y
63
G
U
S
S
E
T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0119 ( 24,544 )

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Across
1
Blows : SHOCKS
7
Like some R-rated movies : SMUTTY
13
Top secrets? : TOUPEES
15
Plant with fragrant leaves : TEATREE
16
Most pretentious : ARTIEST
17
Ingredients in a Jamaican stew : OXTAILS
18
School basics, informally : RRR
19
Ability of some of the heroes on NBC's "Heroes" : ESP
21
___ Aviv : TEL
22
Trim the fat : DIET
23
Planes, old-style : AEROS
24
Word before or after Alexander : POPE
25
___ piece : OFA
27
Mine, e.g. : PIT
29
Kidder's cry : NOT
30
George who sang "I Want Your 7-Down" : MICHAEL
33
Lottery ball containers : HOPPERS
36
Liability for a political candidate ... as depicted four times in this puzzle? : CHECKEREDPAST
38
Bill Haley's backup band : THECOMETS
39
Blu-ray forerunner : VCR
42
"True Detective" airer : HBO
43
Swab : MOP
46
Sister company of Applebee's : IHOP
47
Native-born Israeli : SABRA
48
Ring : TOLL
49
Kiss ___ : CAM
51
Looks for ganders, e.g.: Abbr. : SYN
53
Wash. neighbor : IDA
54
Modifier on a dessert menu : ALAMODE
57
You might empty it into a bucket : ICETRAY
60
Gives a new handle : RENAMES
61
Leader targeted in 1989's Operation Nifty Package : NORIEGA
62
Visit : STOPBY
63
Cloth insert : GUSSET
Down
1
Celebrity : STARDOM
2
Awful : HORRIFIC
3
Public relations effort : OUTREACH
4
Economic benchmark, briefly : CPI
5
Retain : KEEP
6
French possessive : SES
7
See 30-Across : SEX
8
Groening who created "The Simpsons" : MATT
9
Actress Hagen : UTA
10
Musical intervals from F to B, e.g. : TRITONES
11
Travel sci-fi style : TELEPORT
12
"Count me in!" : YESLETS
14
They present hurdles : STEEPLECHASES
15
Cork opener? : TOPOTHEMORNIN
20
Title that anagrams to another title : SRI
26
Satirist ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA
28
Sched. listings : APPTS
31
Worked (up) : HET
32
Stretch (out) : EKE
34
"Coronation ___" (Elgar composition) : ODE
35
They bring speakers into classrooms, briefly : PAS
37
___ Mook, Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign manager : ROBBY
39
Flock leaders : VICARS
40
Place to come in from the cold : CHALET
41
Asiago alternative : ROMANO
43
Patterned fabrics : MOIRES
44
"The most unexpected of all things that happen to a man," per Leon Trotsky : OLDAGE
45
Do unseriously : PLAYAT
50
Many a monument : TOMB
52
Source of the Amazon : PERU
55
Plot : MAP
56
Actress Susan : DEY
58
Part of the works : COG
59
"___ the Voice of the Lobster" ("Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" poem) : TIS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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