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New York Times, Monday, January 21, 2019

Author:
Sean Biggins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
11/21/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.77000
Sean Biggins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Biggins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sean Biggins notes:
I became interested in crosswords after trying to solve some with my wife's grandmother (shout out to Grandma Pat in Algona, Iowa!). ... read more

I became interested in crosswords after trying to solve some with my wife's grandmother (shout out to Grandma Pat in Algona, Iowa!). When visiting her, we would sit around the kitchen table, drink coffee, and (try to) solve the crossword. Once I got the hang of solving, I felt that constructing would be a fun challenge. Thanks to the Will and Sam for coaching me through a few revisions of this puzzle and teaching me a lot along the way.

The idea for this puzzle was born out of a political theme I was trying to pull together. I was looking at last names of politicians that were homonyms (Bush, Gore, May, etc.) when I came to Martin Luther King Jr's name and reflected on "King" as part of a potential theme answer. I realized there were other prominent civil rights leaders whose last names shared the same characteristic. Sojourner Truth and Rosa Parks quickly followed. I hope solvers enjoy the theme and find it fitting for the day. We owe a large debt to the civil rights leaders of the past, and I hope this puzzle serves as a reminder that there is more progress to be made.

Jeff Chen notes:
Perfect theme for MLK Day: three important CIVIL RIGHTS figures disguised at the ends of phrases. Such uplifting phrases, too! Fit for ... read more

Perfect theme for MLK Day: three important CIVIL RIGHTS figures disguised at the ends of phrases. Such uplifting phrases, too! Fit for a KING fits King. Rosa PARKS is something of a NATIONAL treasure. And I have to imagine Sojourner told THE WHOLE TRUTH. Inspiring stuff.

I did wonder if Sojourner TRUTH was out of place, her life a century before those of KING and PARKS. Also, the civil rights movement is most often identified with the 1960s... but I like the idea of expanding it to any effort throughout history that worked toward equal rights for all.

Could Malcolm X have been a more apt third theme person? Maybe with SOLVE FOR X or GENERATION X? But referring to Malcolm X by "X" is odd. It's not his last name (is it?). So I like Sean's choices.

There were quite a few grid problems, including a glut of tough proper nouns that might trip up beginning solvers, and some gluey bits that felt inelegant. But the beautiful theme let me look past all of the dings and just appreciate the three folks honored in the puzzle. Digging into the technical weeds seems against the spirit of today's celebration, anyway.

1
P
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A
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H
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A
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O
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L
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N
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F
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C
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F
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G
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P
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X
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A
B
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M
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N
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A
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L
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P
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S
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C
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N
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H
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S
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K
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B
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G
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F
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D
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0121 ( 25,276 )

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Across
1
Turkish bigwig : PASHA
6
Norway's capital : OSLO
10
Luke, to Darth Vader ("Star Wars" spoiler) : SON
13
Released from bondage : FREED
14
Bounce, as off a billiard cushion : CAROM
15
Israeli gun : UZI
16
Regal : FITFORAKING
18
Bellum's opposite : PAX
19
"___ Te Ching" : TAO
20
Brother of Cain : ABEL
21
Nothing more than : MERE
22
Yosemite and Yellowstone : NATIONALPARKS
27
Mike who was a three-time N.L. M.V.P. with the Phillies : SCHMIDT
29
Close : NEAR
30
Big piles : HEAPS
31
Make a quick drawing of : SKETCHUP
35
Address in a browser, for short : URL
36
What a bald tire lacks : TREAD
38
Ending with neutr- or Filip- : INO
39
"The View," for one : TALKSHOW
42
Flower in a pond : LOTUS
44
Finished, as a cake : ICED
45
Heading on a personal bio : ABOUTME
47
Something promised in a court oath : THEWHOLETRUTH
51
Hot-rod engine, informally : HEMI
52
Love, in Latin : AMOR
53
Prefix with friendly : ECO
56
"A Nightmare on ___ Street" : ELM
57
Cause championed by the figures named at the ends of 16-, 22- and 47-Across : CIVILRIGHTS
61
Travel on Alaska or Hawaiian : FLY
62
___ Beckham Jr., three-time Pro Bowler for the New York Giants : ODELL
63
Pageant crown : TIARA
64
Many Ph.D. candidates : TAS
65
Fish trying to find Nemo in "Finding Nemo" : DORY
66
In a foxy way : SLYLY
Down
1
Dismissive sound : PFFT
2
Opera solo : ARIA
3
Roman Catholic-affiliated university in New Jersey : SETONHALL
4
Playboy founder, for short : HEF
5
Ruckus : ADO
6
Like bourbon barrels : OAKEN
7
Country once known as Ceylon : SRILANKA
8
Actor Chaney of "The Phantom of the Opera" : LON
9
Texter's "Holy cow!" : OMG
10
"Terrific!" : SUPER
11
Missouri's ___ Mountains : OZARK
12
Puts the kibosh on : NIXES
14
Early North American explorer John : CABOT
17
Bug spray from S.C. Johnson : RAID
21
Podcaster Maron : MARC
23
Box on a concert stage : AMP
24
"___ the season ..." : TIS
25
Green building certification, for short : LEED
26
Bit of butter : PAT
27
Close : SHUT
28
Actor Michael of "Juno" : CERA
31
Stitch : SEW
32
Go to bed, informally : HITTHEHAY
33
"E pluribus ___" : UNUM
34
Prepare for a photo : POSE
36
One of the Huxtable kids on 1980s-'90s TV : THEO
37
Australian winner of 11 Grand Slam tournaments : RODLAVER
40
Native New Zealander : KIWI
41
U.S.C. or U.C.L.A.: Abbr. : SCH
42
Funny Costello : LOU
43
Openly gay : OUT
45
Island with a lagoon : ATOLL
46
"It's c-c-cold!" : BRRR
47
Pilferage : THEFT
48
Very, slangily : HELLA
49
More than 60 awards for "Saturday Night Live" : EMMYS
50
One of the Brontë sisters : EMILY
54
___-Alt-Del : CTRL
55
Start of "The Star-Spangled Banner" : OSAY
57
Fish caught off the New England coast : COD
58
Wedding affirmation : IDO
59
Word before "a bird," "a plane" and "Superman!" : ITS
60
Baseball's Hodges : GIL

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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