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New York Times, Monday, January 28, 2019

Author:
Thomas van Geel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
11/28/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52000
Thomas van Geel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. van Geel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Thomas van Geel notes:
This is my NYT debut! I've had one puzzle published in the WSJ, but that's it so far. I was thrilled to get the nod from Will on this ... read more

This is my NYT debut! I've had one puzzle published in the WSJ, but that's it so far. I was thrilled to get the nod from Will on this puzzle last summer. I've been constructing puzzles for some years now but never broke through until this one. I have to thank constructor Ruth Margolin for giving me construction tips (I work with her son); I don't think this would have happened without her guidance and encouragement.

I teach chemistry at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. I live in Natick, MA with my wonderful wife and two children, all of whom kindly tolerate my crossword construction binges (when I come up with a theme I like, I tend to disappear into my computer until it's done). I was introduced to crossword solving by my grandmother, who I imagine is smiling down on me from on high, with her clipboard of cut-out newspaper crosswords and trusty ballpoint.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Thomas did so many things well. FREECYCLING, SIDE HUSTLE, DROP THE MIC, KICKSTARTER are four great phrases, all with a modern ... read more

Debut! Thomas did so many things well. FREECYCLING, SIDE HUSTLE, DROP THE MIC, KICKSTARTER are four great phrases, all with a modern feel. I wasn't sure what FREECYCLING was, but it makes sense. My wife is a member of a "Buy Nothing" group that circulates stuff, so she'd heard the term.

Audacious gridwork for a debut and a lot of it is snazzy. It's so tough to fill big corners like the NW / SE with both color and cleanliness, but NARRATOR / KNEE BONE with just RABE (which might be perfectly fine to many) is a strong result.

The puzzle as a whole felt so carefully polished. It's rare that I encounter a Monday puzzle with just a bit of OCT USAF glue, and even more rare in a Monday debut. I love it when a puzzle feels like the constructor didn't stop at good enough, but aimed for perfection, unafraid to put in the work to get there.

A couple of tough entries, OLIVETTI, SHALOM, IN ESSE, gave the puzzle a challenging feel. I think it ended up fair, but I would have preferred a little more crossword glue in exchange for Monday-ifying these harder entries.

Ultimately, it's a "words that can precede X" theme, which makes it tough for me to get excited. But the above average execution and the fantastic theme phrases made my POW! spidey senses tingle.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0128 ( 25,283 )
Across
1
Joint that a sock covers : ANKLE
6
Small recess : NICHE
11
Karl Marx's "___ Kapital" : DAS
14
Country star Tucker : TANYA
15
Theater worker : USHER
16
Month with Columbus Day: Abbr. : OCT
17
Giving away unwanted items rather than trashing them : FREECYCLING
19
Second letter after epsilon : ETA
20
Rage : IRE
21
Luau dance : HULA
22
Absorbs, as gravy on a plate : SOPSUP
24
Broccoli ___ : RABE
26
Clark of the Daily Planet : KENT
28
Obsessive to a fault : ANAL
29
The Supremes' "___! In the Name of Love" : STOP
30
Extra job in the gig economy : SIDEHUSTLE
33
Gin's partner in a classic drink : TONIC
35
Look at, in the Bible : SEEST
36
Put in more ammunition : RELOAD
39
Greeting in Tel Aviv : SHALOM
42
Lessens, as pain : EASES
44
Alternatives to Nikes : FILAS
46
Dramatically end a speech, in a way : DROPTHEMIC
51
Result of a traffic ticket : FINE
52
Many, many, many, many, many moons : EONS
53
Hanker (for) : PINE
54
Ex-senator Bayh : EVAN
55
"Hold your horses" : NOTYET
58
Tear to bits : REND
60
Mind's I? : EGO
61
Reaction to an overshare : TMI
62
Crowdfunding site ... or a hint to the beginnings of 17-, 30- and 46-Across : KICKSTARTER
65
Goal : AIM
66
Inventor Howe : ELIAS
67
Prefix between tri- and penta- : TETRA
68
Martial arts master Bruce : LEE
69
What a star on the American flag represents : STATE
70
Slightly off : AMISS
Down
1
Initially : ATFIRST
2
Holden Caulfield, for "The Catcher in the Rye" : NARRATOR
3
Patella : KNEEBONE
4
Chemical compound with the formula NaOH : LYE
5
Made for ___ other : EACH
6
Centers of atoms : NUCLEI
7
Components of archipelagoes : ISLANDS
8
Second letter after upsilon : CHI
9
Roosters' mates : HENS
10
Therefore : ERGO
11
"Crime ___ pay" : DOESNT
12
Real : ACTUAL
13
Alternative to a paper clip : STAPLE
18
Hardy-har-hars : YUKS
23
Previous incarnation : PASTLIFE
25
Disorder resulting in seizures : EPILEPSY
27
Bagful carried by a caddie : TEES
31
When repeated, a sneaky laugh : HEH
32
Mil. branch with B-52s : USAF
34
Paint layer : COAT
37
Wood for a baseball bat : ASH
38
Profound : DEEP
40
Classic typewriter brand : OLIVETTI
41
Bosses : MANAGERS
43
Look smugly upon : SMIRKAT
45
Madrid matrons : SENORAS
46
Insurance type that often accompanies medical : DENTAL
47
Dormmate, e.g. : ROOMIE
48
Punctual : ONTIME
49
Existing: Lat. : INESSE
50
Coin with Lincoln on it : CENT
56
Barely makes, with "out" : EKES
57
Pinball fail : TILT
59
Facts and figures : DATA
63
Spying org. : CIA
64
Band with the 1993 hit "Everybody Hurts" : REM

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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