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New York Times, Friday, October 13, 2017

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4811/13/201210/13/201717
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
517135332
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 33 Missing: {QVXZ} This is puzzle # 48 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: I often debate whether I should prioritize quality or quantity in my assessment of themelesses. I remember when I first broke into ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I often debate whether I should prioritize quality or quantity in my assessment of themelesses. I remember when I first broke into solving Fridays, I was delighted to uncover SAY THE MAGIC WORD — it was such an amazing entry, so snazzy, something a huge chunk of solvers would recognize. Didn't even matter to me what the rest of the puzzle was like. These days, I tend to do a straight-up count of how many above-average entries there are.

No entry of SAY THE MAGIC WORD's caliber today, but a couple of solid feature answers in WENT BERSERK, OPERA HOUSES. Those are ones I'd personally consider as seeds for a themeless.

I felt like there wasn't enough in the grid besides those. DIGITAL DATA is a thing, no doubt, but the difference between analog data and DIGITAL DATA isn't that interesting, even to this data junkie. I've seen a few episodes of AMERICAN DAD, but it didn't stick with me like "The Simpsons" or "King of the Hill" or "Family Guy." And I follow the stock market (although I'm 95% an asset allocation / passive index fund guy), but MARKETWATCH wasn't that interesting to me.

So many short answers, too. Some shorties are necessary to hold most grids together, but with only eight long answers (of 8+ letters) and six mid-lengthers (of 7 letters), there's little capacity to snazzify the grid. It's so difficult to make those shorter answers sing. BAR TAB is nice, SCARAB good, but so much of the short stuff tends to be of the LOWS, SWAB, OYL, NIGHT neutral quality. Overall, it's fine — especially considering there's virtually no crossword glue, except for RIS — but not much of it added to my solving experience.

Now, there were a few standout clues that helped make some of that short stuff sing — [Opposite of downs] was a great misdirect toward "nadirs," instead of "gulps, as a drink". AD HOC similarly, the clue [Not standing, in a way] befuddling, until I realized that an AD HOC committee is the opposite of a standing one. Great stuff.

But all in all, I would have liked either one or two sizzling standout entries to make the puzzle memorable, or a whole lot more long answers to give the puzzle more meat.

1
D
2
A
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M
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A
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S
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K
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S
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C
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R
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B
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16
G
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M
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K
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W
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D
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S
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B
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H
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M
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W
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1013 ( 24,811 )
Across Down
1. Reversible fabric : DAMASK
7. Egyptian charm : SCARAB
13. "It's just me" : IMALONE
15. Marching ___ (Midwest college band) : ILLINI
16. Flower with five petals : GERANIUM
18. "Such a pity" : TOOBAD
19. Bugs : IRKS
20. Remains of a wreck : FLOTSAM
22. Evening result? : TIE
23. They're seen going south in the fall : GEESE
24. [Wham!] : KAPOW
28. Person in a trailer, in two senses : ACTOR
30. Heads up : RUNS
32. Ready (for) : RIPE
33. Either Bill or Hillary Clinton, once : LAWYER
35. Worst of times : LOWS
37. ___ Lesser, player of Uncle Leo on "Seinfeld" : LEN
38. Sites associated with the Innocence Project : DNALABS
40. Good connection : RAPPORT
42. Big name in home security systems : ADT
43. Things worth waiting for? : TIPS
45. A screwdriver might be added to it : BARTAB
46. Dash part : TACH
48. Opposite of downs : SIPS
50. Six-Day War leader Dayan : MOSHE
51. Not standing, in a way : ADHOC
53. Pork cuts : LOINS
55. Heart: Lat. : COR
56. Ice cream treat : TORTONI
58. French vineyards : CRUS
59. 1997 film whose poster shows a woman wearing dog tags : GIJANE
62. Exercise often done while lying down : LEGRAISE
64. Brand in the frozen food section : OREIDA
65. What a laryngitis sufferer may do : WHISPER
66. Pound a beat : PATROL
67. Double-click sound? : TSKTSK
1. Bits of information? : DIGITALDATA
2. Long-running Fox sitcom : AMERICANDAD
3. Big news site for investors : MARKETWATCH
4. "Such a pity" : ALAS
5. Grand duke vis-à-vis a czar : SON
6. Big no-no at a T.S.A. checkpoint : KNIFE
7. Protests peacefully, in a way : SITS
8. Part of a wizard costume : CLOAK
9. Roberto ___, only Baseball Hall-of-Famer inducted as a Blue Jays player : ALOMAR
10. Tease : RIB
11. CNN anchor Cabrera : ANA
12. Offer : BID
14. 18th-century pioneer in graph theory : EULER
17. Major city on the Tigris : MOSUL
21. Wagner's Siegfried, for one : TENOR
23. Awesome : GREAT
25. Initial challenge for certain screenwriters : PILOTSCRIPT
26. Places to see Wagner : OPERAHOUSES
27. Totally lost it : WENTBERSERK
29. Castor ___ of old comics : OYL
31. Lowly navy person : SWAB
34. Pete Rose's 1,314, for short : RBIS
36. Bombards with fake offers : SPAMS
39. Like milk you shouldn't cry over : SPILT
41. Advocating : PRO
44. Obsolescent film holder : SPOOL
47. Blather : HOTAIR
49. Source of strength : SINEW
52. Airbnb listing : CONDO
54. "Sweet dreams" : NIGHT
57. Honest-to-goodness : REAL
58. Port vessel : CASK
59. Letters leaning to the right? : GOP
60. Certain investment, for short : IRA
61. Jacuzzi part : JET
63. "___ for Ricochet" (2004 best seller) : RIS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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