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Puzzle of the Week

New York Times, Friday, October 12, 2018

Author: Erik Agard and Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2511/6/201210/18/201811
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6323533
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61140
Erik Agard
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
431/3/201310/12/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
312127450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58032
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 71, Blocks: 36 Missing: {K} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Agard. This is puzzle # 43 for Mr. Haight. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: ERIK: Can't spell 'Bruce Haight' without 'bright'! As a solver, I'm always excited to see this multiple Orca nominee's byline on a ... more
Constructor notes:

ERIK: Can't spell "Bruce Haight" without "bright"! As a solver, I'm always excited to see this multiple Orca nominee's byline on a puzzle, so it's an honor for me to join him for his 43rd NYT crossword.

BRUCE: Erik is the reigning ACPT champion, having blown thru a super tough finals puzzle in the record time of 4 minutes 58 seconds back in March of this year. So many people wanted so badly for him to get his first win there, and for him to do it in such dramatic fashion was amazing. Also in March, he was named as one of the two crossword constructors of the year (for 2017) by Diary of a Crossword Fiend. When you work with a brilliant 25-year-old like Erik you try to stay out of his way and not embarrass yourself.

The "grid-art" here was my idea, but Erik came up with the fabulous second theme entry WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA. He also came up with about 90% of the fill on this grid — the inside of the bulb was particularly hard to fill cleanly. I wouldn't have even known how to spell MEGADETH, and since I am 65 years old, you would be right in guessing I don't have much of their music on my iPhone. The clue for 31-Across was Erik's idea also — pretty funny I think.

It was a ton of fun working with Erik, and thanks to Will and the editing team for allowing BADASS and making us fine tune the fill. I'm super pleased with the way the puzzle turned out - hope solvers enjoy it!

Jeff Chen notes: I love me some beautiful grid art, and this is right up there with the best of the best. Big ol' LIGHT BULB, that's pretty good. But ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I love me some beautiful grid art, and this is right up there with the best of the best. Big ol' LIGHT BULB, that's pretty good. But when you add in WHATS THE BIG IDEA, it becomes doubly clever. You know, because a LIGHT BULB represents an idea in the comics pages, and the LIGHT BULB is literally a BIG picture in today's grid?

Have I explained it to death yet?

Bruce ain't kidding about the difficulty of filling that middle section. I would have been sorely tempted to put a black square at the Q of IRAQ WAR. That would have made the puzzle 73 words — over the max of 72 for themelesses. That might have passed muster, but more problematically, it would have removed some precious long slots. Stunt themelesses sometimes suffer when held to normal themeless standards, because they don't have enough color to please solvers, so every long slot is golden.

Check out how critical that center section was. With IRAQ WAR crossing CONQUEST for a bit of sneaky political commentary, the kooky MEGADETH rock band name giving me happy memories of "This is Spinal Tap," and the delicious SNOW CRAB? All of that, with no prices to pay?

Good thing Erik was at the filling helm, not me!

There was already enough RIDE SHOTGUN, THAT IS TO SAY, NOW LET ME SEE, STATE MOTTOS to make it a pretty decent themeless. Adding in those appetizers in the middle of the grid made it great.

I did almost fail in the west section, not knowing the term ECHO BOOMERS. And there were some wickedly hard clues. But the clue for MOO was tough in a good way – great click when I realized that it was a cow saying that someone was "milking it a bit too much." Groan-worthy! In a good way.

Excellent craftsmanship in a tough construction, with just a little minor OCTA TSO ATTN. For me, this weel's POW! pick was AS EASY AS ABC.

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N
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 25,175 )
Across Down
1. Bitter end? : NESS
5. Many a line from Benjamin Franklin : ADAGE
10. Fool, in British slang : PRAT
14. Numerical prefix : OCTA
15. First name in rap history : TUPAC
16. Look (for), as a compliment : FISH
17. Question after "Hey!" : WHATSTHEBIGIDEA
20. Bathroom or beach supply : LOTION
21. Eye intently : GAZEAT
22. "Awake in the Dark" author : EBERT
23. Mic holders : MCS
26. Soccer superstar Lionel : MESSI
27. Gutenberg's Bible, e.g. : TOME
28. Workers, dismissively : PEONS
30. Jean who wrote "Wide Sargasso Sea" : RHYS
31. [Don't you think you're milking it a bit too much?] : MOO
32. Enid who wrote "National Velvet" : BAGNOLD
34. ___ milk : OAT
35. Checker of someone's vitals : EMT
36. 2008 presidential campaign topic : IRAQWAR
37. Name associated with chicken : TSO
38. Unwavering : SET
39. Takes off : DEDUCTS
40. Focus of Boyle's law : GAS
41. Relative of philia and agape, to the Greeks : EROS
43. Fortune 500 company whose products have a trademarked green-and-yellow color scheme : DEERE
44. Capital of South Sudan : JUBA
45. Hertfordshire neighbor : ESSEX
47. Provider of a traveler's check, for short : TSA
48. Like : FANCY
49. Item suggested visually by the black squares in this puzzle's grid : LIGHTBULB
52. Like many an ESPN Deportes watcher : LATINO
55. Full-bodied : ROBUST
59. Redress : AVENGE
60. Reduplicative dance name : NAENAE
61. Impressively tough, slangily : BADASS
62. Marched : STRODE
1. "Hmm ..." : NOWLETMESEE
2. Millennials, in relation to their parents : ECHOBOOMERS
3. "Hope" and "Friendship," for two : STATEMOTTOS
4. HBO's "Veep," e.g. : SATIRE
5. Envelope abbr. : ATTN
6. "OB-viously!" : DUH
7. Parrot : APE
8. Go on and on : GAB
9. Vaper's device : ECIG
10. Big name in pharmaceuticals : PFIZER
11. Not be in the driver's seat : RIDESHOTGUN
12. Simple : ASEASYASABC
13. "In other words ..." : THATISTOSAY
18. Juicer : SOT
19. Group of whales : GAM
23. Heavy metal band with the double-platinum album "Countdown to Extinction" : MEGADETH
24. Victory : CONQUEST
25. Seafood known for its sweet taste and delicate texture : SNOWCRAB
28. Peeled : PARED
29. Group running together : SLATE
32. Tender : BID
33. Many profs : DRS
42. ___ Kyle, Catwoman's alter ego : SELINA
44. Go on and on : JABBER
46. Places for pedestrians to be alert, informally : XINGS
48. Drink with a straw : FLOAT
50. Sez : GOES
51. Some wares in a china shop : URNS
52. The International Space Station, e.g. : LAB
53. DuVernay who directed "A Wrinkle in Time" : AVA
54. ___ Baker (British clothing retailer) : TED
56. Italian cardinal : UNO
57. Bummed : SAD
58. ___ time : TEE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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