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New York Times, Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Author: Michael Shteyman
Editor: Will Shortz
Michael Shteyman
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
552/13/200111/11/20176
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336717694
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1.62524

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {W} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 52 for Mr. Shteyman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Shteyman notes: My aging memory is a bit hazy on what went into making this puzzle or how it even came about. I blame the fact that the grid ... more
Michael Shteyman notes:

My aging memory is a bit hazy on what went into making this puzzle or how it even came about. I blame the fact that the grid lay completed for a few years before I finally got to cluing it. Looking at the final product, I'm glad to see the majority of my clues survived Will's editorial touches. And those that didn't were significantly improved. I mean, how can you not like a fresh clue for HOAX referencing the current (and troubling) rise in fake news? Or the juicy medical details concerning the final minutes of our old papal standby LEO VII? Talk about being in seventh heaven and going to heaven at the same time.

This is my sixth Tuesday overall and the first in almost fifteen years (been over ten years since I had a Monday). Easy crosswords are paradoxically very hard to make and I tip my hat to those who can consistently create top-notch puzzles with vocabulary accessible to all levels of solvers (Lynn Lempel, Zhouqin Burnikel and Andrea Carla Michaels come to mind, to name a few). So even after all this time in the biz, I still have a lot to learn.

Happy New Year and happy solving!

Jeff Chen notes: AT&T themers, ATLANTIC TIME, ATHLETIC TRAINER, and ATOMIC THEORY. Since 'initialism' type puzzles have been done so much over the ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

AT&T themers, ATLANTIC TIME, ATHLETIC TRAINER, and ATOMIC THEORY. Since "initialism" type puzzles have been done so much over the years, I appreciate when there's something extra. Certainly harder to find AT* T* phrases than just A* T* phrases, for example. I particularly liked ATOMIC THEORY, as it's so evocative, making me think of people all the way back to the ancient Greeks trying to figure out what makes up our world.

ATLANTIC TIME is decent. Not snazzy to my ear; more workmanlike. ATHLETIC TRAINER is a real phrase, but how many times have you heard your friends say they're going to their ATHLETIC TRAINER vs. to their trainer? (The answer to both is statistically probably "zero," but you get my point.)

I wondered for a long time if I was missing something. Michael is so prolific, having covered every day of the week over his 52 puzzles, that this one felt thin. Just three themers and a short revealer of A T AND T (I'm souring on these entries that are never written out like this in real life) … why not more?

It turns out that it's not as easy to come up with AT* T* phrases as I thought. There's ATTACK TRANSPORT … ATLANTA TOWNSHIP? Even if that were crossworthy, it duplicates ATLANTIC. ATHEISM … TEST? ATTIC ... TILE? Now I see why Michael stuck to just three.

And I did like the bonuses the extra space allowed for MIKE TYSON, LA-Z-BOY / SPITZ, ZIPLOC, even HOODOO. (I can see younger folks asking, "What the heck is a LOCAL CALL?")

I wasn't hot on the TACIT / LORAIN crossing. I always get TACIT / TACET mixed up, and LORAEN looked equally plausible. SKODA I can take, as the crossings are reasonable, although I would have liked some neat trivia in the clue to make it seem more interesting, just like with KB TOYS. Didn't know that one, but I liked how the clue steered me toward the hard-to-get KB.

Given the low theme density, it was a little surprising to see the OSS, IMET, QTR, APT NO kind of crossword glue from someone so experienced, but I did appreciate all the snappy bonus entries.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0103 ( 24,528 )
Across Down
1. Misgiving : QUALM
6. Small quarrel : TIFF
10. Leader from the House of Pahlavi : SHAH
14. Eating pork, to an observant Jew or Muslim : TABOO
15. Pac-12 hoops powerhouse : UCLA
16. ___ Alto, Calif. : PALO
17. Not be inert, as two chemical compounds : REACT
18. Cognitive scientist Chomsky : NOAM
19. 10-Across's land : IRAN
20. Puerto Rico clock setting : ATLANTICTIME
23. Resealable bag : ZIPLOC
26. Chair with two hyphens in its name : LAZBOY
27. Apple that might be seen on a teacher's desk : IMAC
28. ___-oriented : DETAIL
32. W.W. II spy org. : OSS
33. Genre for Mötley Crüe : METAL
35. Incendiary weapon : NAPALM
37. Fitness pro : ATHLETICTRAINER
42. Ohio city on Lake Erie : LORAIN
43. Czech-made auto that's part of the Volkswagen Group : SKODA
44. "Yes ... ri-i-i-ight there!" : AHH
47. Airplane's direction : VECTOR
49. Like custard : EGGY
50. Adopted : TOOKIN
52. Chain of children's stores founded by the Kaufman brothers (hence its name) : KBTOYS
54. Basis of particle physics : ATOMICTHEORY
58. Nothin' : NADA
59. Relative of fake news : HOAX
60. Ghostly white : ASHEN
64. Fashionable Christian : DIOR
65. Including all grades, briefly : ELHI
66. "Bear" that's actually a marsupial : KOALA
67. Gait faster than a walk : TROT
68. Baby's crib part : SLAT
69. "Bon appétit!" : ENJOY
1. Three months: Abbr. : QTR
2. Neighbor of Oman, for short : UAE
3. Atty.'s org. : ABA
4. Neighborhood buzz? : LOCALCALL
5. "Veritas" for Harvard or "Veritas vos liberabit" for Johns Hopkins : MOTTO
6. Sushi fish : TUNA
7. Trash bin on a computer screen, e.g. : ICON
8. Dead-tired? : FLAT
9. Acquainted (with) : FAMILIAR
10. Pointy-eared dog : SPITZ
11. Big maker of gummy bears : HARIBO
12. Los ___ National Laboratory : ALAMOS
13. Sweetie pies : HONEYS
21. Like some digital clocks, for short : LCD
22. Maria known as "La Divina" : CALLAS
23. Bygone alcopop : ZIMA
24. TV's "How ___ Your Mother" : IMET
25. Way : PATH
29. "Giant Brain" introduced in 1946 : ENIAC
30. Not expressly stated : TACIT
31. Abbr. in many an urban address : APTNO
34. Pope said to have died from a heart attack while in bed with his mistress : LEOVII
36. Former heavyweight champion with a tattooed face : MIKETYSON
38. Soldiers' digs? : TRENCHES
39. Canceled, as a mission : NOGO
40. Tense : EDGY
41. They may be caught at the beach ... or out at sea : RAYS
44. Communications giant ... or a possible title of this puzzle : ATANDT
45. All talk, no action : HOTAIR
46. Bringer of bad luck : HOODOO
48. ___ Pictures (bygone studio) : RKO
51. Store known for its Blue Light Specials : KMART
53. Stopper : BRAKE
55. Bridge charge : TOLL
56. "The joke's on you" : HAHA
57. Off-ramp sign : EXIT
61. Trek to Mecca : HAJ
62. Band with the 1977 hit "Telephone Line," in brief : ELO
63. Yea's opposite : NAY

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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