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New York Times, Monday, October 17, 2016

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
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14507710
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1.65320

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes: The best 'What do these seemingly disparate things have in common?' puzzles are those in which you don't know the answer to ... more
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:

The best "What do these seemingly disparate things have in common?" puzzles are those in which you don't know the answer to this question until you hit the revealer. That's what I was trying for here – a legitimate, honest "a-ha" moment. This can be difficult to achieve with a Monday-level puzzle, so if I pulled it off, kudos to me! If I didn't, well, no kudos, I guess. I'll somehow have to make it through the day kudos-less.

Other than that, I tried to pack in interesting entries while minimizing the glue, as always. I'm mostly happy with how things came out in this regard. The only entry I really don't like is C-SPOT, because I've never seen it or heard it used in "the wild" (and Google thinks it's something very different than money). But it *is* in the dictionary, so fair game, I suppose.

I do like some of the longer non-theme entries, like OK CORRAL, PAGE BOY, and LUCKY ME. I was also happy to facilitate the debut of the hilarious ILANA Glazer in the NYT puzzle. The equally funny (maybe even a bit funnier) ABBI Jacobson probably isn't far behind. Those two can crack me up like few other. Do you think YAS QUEEN will ever be an entry in a mainstream puzzle?

By the way, if you are interested in more in depth constructor notes, feel free to check out my word blog.

Jeff Chen notes: I really like 'what do these things have in common' puzzles when they provide for a satisfying click. BENCH WARMER and a DEAD BATTERY ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I really like "what do these things have in common" puzzles when they provide for a satisfying click. BENCH WARMER and a DEAD BATTERY are both vivid, in-the-language phrases, but how could they both be part of the same theme? When they're NON-STARTERs! Very clever.

I didn't care as much for LAST LAP and MAIN COURSE. They are NONSTARTERs of course, but so are every other lap, as well as soup, salad, dessert, etc. They don't have the "dang, that's spot-on!" feeling I got from BENCH WARMER and DEAD BATTERY.

So much to like about Damon's grid. His last themeless had too much crossword glue for my personal taste — I try to stop enumerating at about 4 or 5 instances — but this one had the smoothness I seek out of a Monday. Very minor ENC, ATMO, TAI, ENS, all of which are easily gettable and common enough in real life to hardly even notice.

ILANA was a mystery to me, but that's not surprising since I don't have a lot of time to watch TV these days. She certainly seems crossworthy, given the critical praise and popularity of "Broad City." As a constructor, I welcome her friendly vowel-consonant alternation to the crossworld with open arms!

And all the bonuses were much appreciated. Just two long entries in OK CORRAL and PIE CHART, but both are excellent. The real standout quality was how well Damon used his seven-letter slots. ART DECO, PAGE BOY, LAPTOPS = LUCKY ME! So much goodness elegantly worked in.

I know I'll get questions about the LAST LAP / LAPTOPS duplication. Yes, two LAPs is usually a no-no, and it feels inelegant, but it didn't really bother me during my solve. I personally would have redone the LAPTOPS area because of this, but I don't actually care that much about these types of issues. The two instances have different etymologies (I think?), and there's no hard and fast rule about this sort of thing.

Overall, strong execution with so many great bonuses. If all the themers had been as spot-on as BENCH WARMER and DEAD BATTERY, it'd be an easy POW! selection for me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1017 ( 24,450 )
Across Down
1. Ten to one, for one : RATIO
6. "I Am ___" (Jenner's reality show on E!) : CAIT
10. "Madam, I'm ___" (palindromic introduction to Eve) : ADAM
14. Something "walked" on a pirate ship : PLANK
15. Merry-go-round or roller coaster : RIDE
16. Nevada's so-called "Biggest Little City in the World" : RENO
17. *Serving between appetizer and dessert : MAINCOURSE
19. Puts out, in baseball : TAGS
20. Dedicated poems : ODES
21. Confuse : ADDLE
22. Politically left-leaning : LIBERAL
26. Hairstyle with straight-cut bangs : PAGEBOY
28. Mrs. whose cow supposedly began the Great Chicago Fire : OLEARY
29. Philosopher who tutored Nero : SENECA
30. ___ Claus : SANTA
31. James of "The Godfather" : CAAN
32. Germany's von Bismarck : OTTO
35. Abbr. at the bottom of a letter : ENC
36. *It's signaled by a white flag on the racetrack : LASTLAP
39. Austin's home: Abbr. : TEX
40. Witty Mort : SAHL
42. Hearts of PCs, for short : CPUS
43. "Me, Myself & ___" (Jim Carrey film) : IRENE
45. Punch hard : WALLOP
47. Offset, as costs : DEFRAY
48. Exchange, as an old piece of equipment for a new one : SWAPOUT
50. "Aren't I the fortunate one!" : LUCKYME
51. Fruit-filled pastries : TARTS
52. Window frame : SASH
53. Prefix with sphere : ATMO
54. Plan that has no chance of working ... or the answer to each starred clue? : NONSTARTER
60. Stay fresh : KEEP
61. Winter ailments : FLUS
62. Wet, weatherwise : RAINY
63. Does wrong : ERRS
64. Toy block brand : LEGO
65. "___ Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (1966 Nancy Sinatra hit) : THESE
1. 33 1/3, for an LP : RPM
2. In the manner of : ALA
3. ___ chi (martial art) : TAI
4. Bed-and-breakfast : INN
5. Shootout site involving the Earp brothers : OKCORRAL
6. Mean, mean, mean : CRUEL
7. Is broadcast : AIRS
8. Check-cashing requirements, for short : IDS
9. Golf peg : TEE
10. Design style of the 1920s and '30s : ARTDECO
11. *Reason for jumper cables : DEADBATTERY
12. ___-Saxon : ANGLO
13. Putter (along) : MOSEY
18. Anita of jazz : ODAY
21. Get on in years : AGE
22. Finishes with fewer votes : LOSES
23. Glazer of "Broad City" : ILANA
24. *Athlete who "rides the pine" : BENCHWARMER
25. Chow down : EAT
26. Rings, as church bells : PEALS
27. Kournikova of tennis : ANNA
29. Stopped lying? : SATUP
31. Bill also called a benjamin : CSPOT
33. Brunch time, say : TENAM
34. Common daisy : OXEYE
37. Free speech advocacy grp. : ACLU
38. Infographic with wedges : PIECHART
41. Go-with-you-anywhere computers : LAPTOPS
44. D.C. stadium initials : RFK
46. The "L" of L.A. : LOS
47. Attic accumulation : DUST
48. Vampire hunter's weapon : STAKE
49. H2O : WATER
50. Rodeo rope : LASSO
52. Close-fitting : SNUG
54. Lombardi Trophy org. : NFL
55. Stadium cheer : OLE
56. Stadium cheer : RAH
57. Suit accessory : TIE
58. U.S.N. officer: Abbr. : ENS
59. Whiskey type : RYE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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