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New York Times, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Author:
Evan Mahnken
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
110/4/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52000
Evan Mahnken

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQVZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Mahnken. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evan Mahnken notes:
It was a big goal of mine to get a puzzle accepted into the Times before I turned 21, and I just barely got there. And boy, it was not ... read more

It was a big goal of mine to get a puzzle accepted into the Times before I turned 21, and I just barely got there. And boy, it was not easy. With six theme clues in the puzzle, it was tough to get them all to fit nicely, and it meant completely changing the grid and reworking the fill many times during the revision process. I learned a lot from it though, and I hope my next submissions won't require quite so much tinkering. I'm very happy with the final result.

As for the theme, I'd had the idea floating around for awhile but didn't think it'd amount to a full crossword's worth of clues. The first one I came up with was BY ITSELF, and I at the time I couldn't think of any more. But I revisited the idea, brainstormed a bunch, and managed to get six in total. My favorite is definitely BENEATH ME. I hope you enjoy this crossword as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Happy solving!

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun debut! At first, I thought it was a simpler concept I'd seen before — listing the very next word in the dictionary AFTER ... read more

Fun debut! At first, I thought it was a simpler concept I'd seen before — listing the very next word in the dictionary AFTER HOURS as the clue (perhaps "house arrest"?) — but Evan's idea is so much better. Not only does "house party" come shortly AFTER HOURS, alphabetically … it's also described by AFTER HOURS! "Flanked" comes UNDER(neath) FIRE in the dictionary … but it's also described by UNDER FIRE! Loved it.

I appreciated how solid all the themers were. BENEATH ME was the only somewhat iffy one (sorry, Evan!), feeling like a partial without "That's" or "It's" preceding it. Five out of six is excellent. (AROUND NOON is a tad arbitrary, but I've heard it plenty to describe lunch plans.)

Tough task to debut with six themers. Evan did a good job with his layout, placing AFTER HOURS above NEAR MINT, and keeping UNDER FIRE well away in another corner. It's a variant on the "windmill" pattern many constructors use with just four themers, and it usually makes for good spacing.

I was worried about execution when I quickly ran into OER, RAH, SDS, all at the top. And there was quite a bit of crossword glue scattered about — DER, EDY, GAI, IRR, MES, ORI — but at least there wasn't another section quite so dense with it as the north.

And Evan did give us some strong bonuses in BROWNIE MIX, SONIC YOUTH, LEONARDO, DARE I SAY. I'd personally have preferred a smoother grid with fewer snappy bonuses, especially because the theme already tickled me. But I think this trade-off is a reasonable one.

Overall, a great idea, taking a concept I'd already seen to another level. The theme, plus all the great bonuses, plus the fact that it was a debut, were enough for me to overlook the glut of crossword glue. POW!

1
A
2
R
3
I
4
O
5
R
6
B
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I
8
T
9
S
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U
11
L
12
N
13
A
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M
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N
15
E
A
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E
D
16
N
E
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D
17
A
F
T
18
E
R
H
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D
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M
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G
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D
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B
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D
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M
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B
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D
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M
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G
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L
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T
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X
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C
U
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G
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P
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A
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64
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D
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1004 ( 24,802 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. "Exodus" hero : ARI
4. John Glenn famously had three of them : ORBITS
10. It's found by the radius : ULNA
14. Bathroom sign : MEN
15. Brought home : EARNED
16. Poverty : NEED
17. Where "house party" is in the dictionary? : AFTERHOURS
19. Op-Ed writer Maureen : DOWD
20. German industrial region : RUHR
21. Bring home the gold : WIN
22. Itches : YENS
23. Where "new" is in the dictionary? : NEARMINT
26. Actor Depardieu : GERARD
28. ___-rock : ALT
29. Dwarf brother in "The Hobbit" : ORI
30. Manumit : SETFREE
31. Along with pain, one of "the two enemies of human happiness," per Schopenhauer : BOREDOM
33. What a cartoon light bulb represents : IDEA
34. Something to do with one's time : BIDE
37. The day of M.L.K. Day: Abbr. : MON
38. Bundle of coins : ROLL
39. Edward ___, longtime archbishop of New York : EGAN
40. Sit : LIEIDLE
43. Water-repellent material : GORETEX
45. Help for an actor : CUE
46. Moo goo ___ pan : GAI
49. Like a good surgeon's hands : STEADY
50. Where "isolated" is in the dictionary? : BYITSELF
52. Things faultfinders pick : NITS
53. Arafat's grp. : PLO
54. "Render ___ Caesar ..." : UNTO
55. Chicken wire, e.g. : MESH
56. Where "midday" and "one" are in the dictionary? : AROUNDNOON
59. Procedure at a doctor's office : EXAM
60. Malcolm X facial feature : GOATEE
61. A small amount in science or a large amount in business : MIL
62. Eye sore : STYE
63. Book before Job : ESTHER
64. Big name in ice cream : EDY
Down
1. Cuneiform discovery site : AMARNA
2. Put more gas in the tank : REFUEL
3. Because : INTHAT
4. Anthem contraction : OER
5. When doubled, enthusiastic : RAH
6. Betty Crocker product : BROWNIEMIX
7. Certain Alaskan : INUIT
8. Bird found on all continents, including Antarctica : TERN
9. Activist campus org. : SDS
10. Where "flanked" is in the dictionary? : UNDERFIRE
11. One of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : LEONARDO
12. Old-time premovie fare : NEWSREEL
13. Recipe instruction : ADD
18. Blunder : ERR
22. Nevertheless : YET
24. Herd noise : MOO
25. Like some sale items: Abbr. : IRR
26. Glam rock? : GEM
27. One may be made with a handshake : DEAL
30. Band featured in the documentary "1991: The Year Punk Broke" : SONICYOUTH
31. Where "menial" is in the dictionary? : BENEATHME
32. John or Jane, at court : DOE
34. Pleads : BEGS
35. "After this, it's my turn" : IGOTNEXT
36. Lead-in to a controversial comment : DAREISAY
40. Science writer Willy : LEY
41. You could get one if you're over .08% : DUI
42. Rent out : LET
44. Scores for Seahawks and Eagles, for short : TDS
46. It wasn't mapped until 2003 : GENOME
47. Alternative to a Tic Tac : ALTOID
48. "I wish!" : IFONLY
50. Swell : BLOAT
51. What Helios personified : SUN
53. Arguments for : PROS
55. Parisian possessive : MES
56. Word after golden or old : AGE
57. Once called : NEE
58. German article : DER

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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