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New York Times, Friday, January 26, 2018

Author:
Caleb Madison
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
355/13/20084/19/20193
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9154565
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62132
Caleb Madison

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 26 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Madison. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
WORD VOMIT! Man, do I know a ton of people with this issue … and COVER BAND, with its fantastically innocent clue: [Act without ... read more

WORD VOMIT! Man, do I know a ton of people with this issue … and COVER BAND, with its fantastically innocent clue: [Act without originality]. That puzzled me for the longest time, but what an a-ha moment when I realized that "act" was a noun, not a verb, in the clue. Two beautiful seed entries.

Themelesses typically feature 12+ longish answers, and constructors try to spread them out as much as possible, for maximum flexibility. Usually, that means putting three in each corner, so that those four stacks don't interact with each other.

Today, Caleb goes big, interlocking six long answers in each of the NW and SE corners. It's so difficult to get six out of six great long answers in a corner like this, without resorting to crossword glue. The NW was pretty darn good — WIKI LEAKS and RARE COINS to go with WORD VOMIT? Yes please! With just ON A DOWNER feeling like a long partial, and some minor IT IS and SRS = very good results.

I wasn't as hot on the SE. POSSESSES feels a bit cheap, what with all those Ss and Es. EVER SINCE takes up room more than shines. ABERRANCE is an interesting word, but it didn't hit me as strongly as COVER BANDS. Still, some nice craftsmanship in that corner to put it together without any crossword glue (EELER generally feels fine to me).

But wait, there's more! Love that Caleb worked in a couple more long entries, MAKESAUTURN looking awesomely French (makes au turn?), and SISTER WIVES jutting into the middle. I wasn't familiar with the latter term, but it makes sense. If a bit icky.

It's too bad that the SW and NE corners felt dull, with so many short words concentrated into those spaces. But a themeless puzzle has to have some shorties, and when you place so many long entries in the other corners, the shorties have to go somewhere.

Overall, a great number of juicy entries. I sometimes feel like a moron doing Caleb's puzzles — I'm not hip enough to fully appreciate them — so I was relieved to only get that feeling from AKON, LORDE, and TALIA al Ghul today. And this Batman fan really ought to have known that last one.

1
W
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V
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M
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H
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W
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N
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C
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B
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H
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K
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F
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0126 ( 24,916 )

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Across
1
Source of embarrassment for some public officials : WIKILEAKS
10
Skedaddled : SPLIT
15
How buzzkills end things : ONADOWNER
16
Golfer's collection : IRONS
17
Numismatist's collection : RARECOINS
18
Mexican sandwich : TORTA
19
___ sample : DNA
20
One-named singer with the 2007 #1 hit "Don't Matter" : AKON
21
Building block makeup : CINDER
22
Essential : VITAL
24
First U.S. team to win the N.H.L. Stanley Cup (1928) : NYRANGERS
26
Diner order that gets filled? : OMELET
28
Life instinct, in psychology : EROS
29
Reverses course : MAKESAUTURN
32
Ceiling : CAP
35
"___ said ..." : ITIS
36
Write a think piece, say : OPINE
37
Drifter : HOBO
38
___ Mosby, main role on "How I Met Your Mother" : TED
39
Some polygamous figures : SISTERWIVES
41
Niche form of architecture? : APSE
42
Many workers in Japan's Lake Hamana : EELERS
43
Sharp-looking footwear? : STILETTOS
48
"The Yankee Years" memoirist : TORRE
49
Home of the first known pizza parlor : NAPLES
50
Certainty : LOCK
52
Some undergrad degs. : BAS
53
Not just in one's head, say : ALOUD
54
Kamehameha Day observers : HAWAIIANS
56
Little buddy : KIDDO
57
From that point on : EVERSINCE
58
Simplifies : EASES
59
Cozy curl-up spots : FIRESIDES
Down
1
Verbal outpouring, in slang : WORDVOMIT
2
Dead : INANIMATE
3
Sobriquet for filmdom's Daniel LaRusso, with "The" : KARATEKID
4
Common suffix for 7-Downs : IDE
5
Areas : LOCALES
6
Ursine sci-fi creature : EWOK
7
Atom with an electronic imbalance : ANION
8
G in jazz : KENNY
9
Students with 300 and 400 classes: Abbr. : SRS
10
Audit, as a class : SITINON
11
Sticking points : PRONGS
12
One-named singer with the 2013 #1 hit "Royals" : LORDE
13
Bury : INTER
14
Bulgaria's Simeon I and Simeon II : TSARS
21
Actress Tia of "Wayne's World" : CARRERE
23
They have hops : ALES
25
Get back together : REUNE
27
Ones who know the way? : TAOISTS
30
Underdog victory : UPSET
31
"Blue" or "bearded" bird : TIT
32
Act without originality : COVERBAND
33
Deviation : ABERRANCE
34
Has hold of : POSSESSES
37
Stud poker variation, informally : HILO
39
Skimpy swimwear : SPEEDOS
40
Sloppy planting job? : WETKISS
41
Refer (to) : ALLUDE
43
Backstabber : SNAKE
44
___ al Ghul (Batman foe) : TALIA
45
Devices that introduced the click wheel : IPODS
46
Norwegian king until 1000 : OLAVI
47
One spreading seed : SOWER
51
Something that people wish you would take when you leave : CARE
54
Noted mansion man, for short : HEF
55
Jr.'s son : III

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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