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New York Times, Friday, January 26, 2018

Author:
Caleb Madison
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
345/13/20086/8/20183
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9154555
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1.63132
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
2
I
3
K
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L
6
E
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A
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S
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T
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R
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C
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V
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A
L
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N
Y
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O
M
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M
A
K
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A
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U
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T
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N
32
C
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A
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P
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E
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H
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B
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D
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W
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A
P
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N
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L
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C
K
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B
A
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A
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D
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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 )
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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