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New York Times, Saturday, January 7, 2017

Author: Roland Huget
Editor: Will Shortz
Roland Huget
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
73/20/20156/3/20170
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0010015
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55012

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: none – this is a pangram This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Huget. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Roland Huget notes: This puzzle was constructed in November 2015, and accepted for publication in March 2016. This is one of a trio of themeless grids ... more
Roland Huget notes:

This puzzle was constructed in November 2015, and accepted for publication in March 2016. This is one of a trio of themeless grids of similar design that I constructed in 2015, where the starting point for the fill was a central 9-letter idiomatic remark. All three puzzles were picked up, two of them here.

This fill started with ARE WE GOOD. I think idiomatic expressions make good crossword entries, especially those uttered in private or unguarded moments. To those who say WHO WAS IT is perhaps too much of a good thing, I say SPARE ME. ;-)

I like pangrams – they're fun to solve and to construct. When I solve a puzzle that's shaping up to be a pangram, I root for it to happen. The challenge in constructing a pangram is to accommodate the high Scrabble value letters without using answers that otherwise wouldn't be allowed in the grid. I think this effort was successful in that regard.

I would like to thank Will and Joel for their work on the clues. I particularly like their clues for MASSEUR (1D - One pressing the flesh) and MEAT RUB (1A – Barbecue chef's coat). As for a clue that survived the final edit, I like the one for SOFA BED (28A – All-weather convertible?).

Jeff Chen notes: SPACE TIME crossing ARE WE GOOD in the center — love it! Themeless that feature mostly mid-to-short entries have to really make ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

SPACE TIME crossing ARE WE GOOD in the center — love it! Themeless that feature mostly mid-to-short entries have to really make their few long entries sing, so it's nice to get these two front and center. WIFI ZONE and IN THE BAG are pretty darn great as well.

I wasn't so sure about WHO WAS IT. Certainly a common phrase, but it feels more ho-hum, something functional in everyday conversation. CAPRICES … not a spectacular entry, but for a one-worder, it's pretty colorful. Not as sizzly as WIFI ZONE was for me, but still nice.

I'm not a fan of this sort of layout that breaks the puzzle up into so many subsections. It's all too easy to get stuck in a single region, making for a stop and go solve. Not super satisfying if there are only two ways into a corner, and you can't figure out either of them.

It sure does make construction easier, though. Once you select those entry words, you can work on that little piece of the grid just by itself, not worrying about the rest of the puzzle. I'd rather constructors avoid this crutch, as the resulting puzzle flow is so stilted and jarring for me as a solver.

That said, I really liked some of the results — it did feel more polished and snazzy than Roland's last use of a very similar grid pattern. Kicking it off with MEAT RUB is awfully nice, and a MASSEUR as [One pressing the flesh] = fantastic misdirectional clue! And I really, really enjoyed the bottom right. The rare J X in NINJAS / JUKEBOX / ROLEXES were neat, and I liked TERABIT and SEDATES with its tricky [Gives a number?] clue. (Think numb-er, as in one who numbs.)

Not as much a fan of the upper right, where PESETAS and PEERAGE takes up valuable real estate. It sure is tough to execute on triple-stacks of sevens crossing other triple-stacks of sevens.

Good workout overall, each of the five mini-puzzles taking a quite while to crack into.

1
M
2
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3
A
4
T
5
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6
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B
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9
P
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A
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D
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P
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P
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A
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31
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L
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D
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W
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J
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0107 ( 24,532 )
Across Down
1. Barbecue chef's coat : MEATRUB
8. Angry Birds starting in 2010, e.g. : IPADAPP
15. Pick up : ACQUIRE
16. Something on a ticket : NOMINEE
17. Deeply felt : SOULFUL
18. Small stabs : TWINGES
19. Overused : STALE
20. "Kinda" : ISH
22. Company with a buck in its logo : DEERE
23. Literary character self-described as "poor, obscure, plain and little" : EYRE
24. Ostracized sort : LEPER
26. Plane wing part : SLAT
27. Inits. after a big media merger of 1958 : UPI
28. All-weather convertible? : SOFABED
30. Alternative to Food Lion or Piggly Wiggly : IGA
31. 1990s "caught on tape" series : REALTV
33. Vagaries : CAPRICES
35. "No hard feelings?" : AREWEGOOD
37. Query about a phone call : WHOWASIT
40. Many a maid of honor : SISTER
44. Roach of old comedy : HAL
45. In the dictionary, say : DEFINED
47. Mitsubishi sports car, for short : EVO
48. Some thirst quenchers : ADES
50. Shrinking : TIMID
51. Seed coat : ARIL
52. Something water lacks : TASTE
54. Tranquil and minimalistic : ZEN
55. It might reveal what you've lost : SCALE
56. Up to speed, musically : INTEMPO
58. Something to pick a number from : JUKEBOX
60. One taking heat at work? : FIREMAN
61. Synthetic dye compound : ANILINE
62. "Talk to the hand" : SPAREME
63. Gives a number? : SEDATES
1. One pressing the flesh : MASSEUR
2. Subspecies of a distinct geographical variety : ECOTYPE
3. Features of many doctor's office waiting rooms : AQUARIA
4. Veil material : TULLE
5. Widespread : RIFE
6. Latin American soccer powerhouse: Abbr. : URU
7. It's what you think : BELIEF
8. Assured : INTHEBAG
9. [Take THAT!] : POW
10. Within : AMID
11. Banquets : DINES
12. Not merely good : ANGELIC
13. Aristocracy : PEERAGE
14. Pre-euro money : PESETAS
21. What a wormhole is a tunnel in : SPACETIME
24. Court blowout : LOVESET
25. Took it easy : REPOSED
28. Pricey strings : STRAD
29. iPhone rival : DROID
32. Brief topic : LAW
34. D.M.V. demands : IDS
36. Hot spot : WIFIZONE
37. Thoughts of wishful thinkers : WHATIFS
38. Imbibed modestly : HADANIP
39. Ingredient in Pringles Light : OLESTRA
41. Unit in superfast data transfer : TERABIT
42. Old Scratch, with "the" : EVILONE
43. Wearable status symbols : ROLEXES
46. Stealth fighters : NINJAS
49. Provide direction : STEER
51. Express starting in 2000 : ACELA
53. Model who wrote the 1996 book "True Beauty" : EMME
55. Fall rapidly, as sales : SKID
57. Grocery brand that's also a girl's name : PAM
59. "Les Mille et ___ Nuits" : UNE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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