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New York Times, Saturday, October 21, 2017

Author: Samuel A. Donaldson and Brad Wilber
Editor: Will Shortz
Samuel A. Donaldson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2810/2/200810/21/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6136516
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64120
Brad Wilber
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
512/19/200510/21/201725
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
001201434
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60001

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 25 Missing: {QVX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 28 for Mr. Donaldson. This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Wilber. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: BRAD: As I recall, this collaboration started when Sam sent me a dense and ambitious block at the middle of the grid. EMOJI and ... more
Constructor notes:

BRAD: As I recall, this collaboration started when Sam sent me a dense and ambitious block at the middle of the grid. EMOJI and ROGUE ONE were the clear stars. It was mostly beautiful, but I think there was some plural that set off my Hinky Meter.

SAM: What, ALGEBRAS is bad? More importantly, I now want to make a puzzle containing HINKY METER.

BRAD: I sent back something that kept ROGUE ONE and crossed it with a specific EMOJI that we thought lent verve in its debut.

SAM: Yes, credit to Brad for the use of a particular EMOJI, and double (nay, triple) credit to him for the [Sext symbols] clue. One of my favorites.

BRAD: Sam supplied another great pop-culture 15, and helped me out with the nice SET MENU in the NW, as I wanted to recycle COSMIC JOKE from an abandoned draft of something I did with Byron Walden. Sam was crushing it on the cluing front, too: 39A, 10D & 11D echo. We submitted two clues for 17A, both his, and I was hoping maybe to see the other one, which poked fun at an urban myth about their shelf life.

SAM: I love me a Wilber-Walden collaboration--a guaranteed thirty hours of staring and erasing (and fun).

BRAD: Sam and I both worked on all the remaining corners after the SW went in, trying out combinations off the Z, voting Version 1 or Version 2 like at the eye doctor. Always a joy to see Sam's mind and craft going on all cylinders.

SAM: Brad is one of the great collaborators in crosswords. I believe this is his 25th collaboration in the Times, a testament to how well he plays with others. (Hey, I now have something in common with Emanuel Ax!) He is forgiving and supportive, but his keen eye also gets you to perform at your best.

Jeff Chen notes: I haven't enjoyed a debut entry as much as COSMIC JOKE in ages. Not only is it a beautiful, existentialist, Vonnegutesque term, but I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I haven't enjoyed a debut entry as much as COSMIC JOKE in ages. Not only is it a beautiful, existentialist, Vonnegutesque term, but I struggled so mightily with the -MICJ- string in the middle. It had to be wrong. Had to, had to, had to! What a joy to finally piece it together, sitting back and admiring the awesome entry.

HOSTESS TWINKIES and HOT PEPPER EMOJIS made for delicious feature entries. I know the former is bad for me. But gosh darn it, they're so satisfying. Especially when deep-fried. Twice. The latter wasn't entirely familiar to me, as I'm still not much of an emoji user. Aren't there a million emojis these days? Doesn't it seem arbitrary to choose these specific ones to feature? There's probably some hilarious special meaning to HOT PEPPER EMOJIS (that all the kids are giggling at me for not knowing).

Along with some MC ESCHER, SEA SNAKE, TINKERER, GREENLIT, there were enough strong entries to keep me happy.

Brad's Saturday Stumpers and themelesses in general are some of my most favorite and most feared puzzles. (That's how I'll define "Wilberian" from now on.) He has such a wealth of information, being a librarian and all, that I always pick up something new from his puzzles. He's usually good about not introducing too much, making sure that all the learning doesn't turn off solvers.

Today, it was STANHOPE. I enjoyed reading up on it, basically an old-school term for a horse-drawn carriage, named after an old English dude. I'll tuck this term away for trivia nights. STANHOPE being the sole new term for me, the puzzle didn't come across as teachy.

COACH K might be tough for some, but the longtime Duke bball coach (you might go by COACH K too if your last name was Krzyzewski) is no doubt crossworthy. Five NCAA championships!

I enjoyed COSMIC JOKE so much that I thought about handing out the POW! based on that alone. But with some wastage in MAIN GATE, SYSTOLES, RECAST, IMARETS — all fine entries, but all paling in comparison to COSMIC JOKE — and a bit of CEE, TO BED, NAES, it didn't quite make it.

Kind of a COSMIC JOKE that COSMIC JOKE made everything else seem less interesting in comparison!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1021 ( 24,819 )
Across Down
1. The Mideast's City of Jasmine : DAMASCUS
9. Backup for R&B's Booker T. : THEMGS
15. Open, one-seated horse-drawn carriage : STANHOPE
16. ___ B. Price, creator of the comic strip "Rhymes With Orange" : HILARY
17. Iconic snacks that re-debuted in 2013 : HOSTESSTWINKIES
19. Sainted archbishop of Canterbury : ANSELM
20. Darn : MEND
21. It may have butterflies : NET
22. Tara of the "Sharknado" films : REID
23. Clinched : ICED
25. Score mark indicating a passage to be repeated : SEGNO
27. Adobe document suffix : PDF
28. Honker : SCHNOZ
30. Poker action : CALL
31. Exquisite gem : BIJOU
32. Knotted : INATIE
34. Toon who often congratulates himself with "You've done it again!" : MRMAGOO
37. Near Eastern inns : IMARETS
38. Duke legend, to fans : COACHK
39. Phrase said five times by Lady Macbeth soon after "Out, damned spot!" : TOBED
40. Kellogg's brand : EGGO
41. Tennis players Dementieva and Makarova : ELENAS
43. Display of glee : JIG
46. World's largest religious denomination : SUNNI
48. Steed noted for its stamina : ARAB
49. "Personally ..." : TOME
50. Part of a Connecticut trio? : CEE
51. Amts. of powder, maybe : TSPS
53. Unstable : WOBBLY
55. Sext symbols : HOTPEPPEREMOJIS
58. The Mona Lisa's smile, e.g. : ENIGMA
59. Coral reef inhabitant : SEASNAKE
60. Put in another light : RECAST
61. Typical inventor : TINKERER
1. Note in the B major scale : DSHARP
2. Expiated : ATONED
3. Cluster of mountains : MASSIF
4. Got in the game, say : ANTED
5. First name in children's literature : SHEL
6. Twist of fate you can't help but laugh at : COSMICJOKE
7. Paradoxical answer to appear among the Downs in a crossword : UPS
8. Thanksgiving offering at many restaurants : SETMENU
9. Add water to, say : THIN
10. Some deer : HINDS
11. Some deer : ELK
12. It's usually next to a ticket booth : MAINGATE
13. O.K.'d : GREENLIT
14. Contractions of the heart : SYSTOLES
18. Shared vow : WEDO
24. Shoe designer Jimmy : CHOO
26. Lame (but eco-friendly) birthday gift : ECARD
28. It may accompany an eye roll : SIGH
29. Dweller between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers : ZIMBABWEAN
31. Earnings, in slang : BACON
33. Turndowns across the Atlantic : NAES
34. Artist who drew "Waterfall" and "Hand With Reflecting Sphere" : MCESCHER
35. Second-highest-grossing movie of 2016 after "Captain America: Civil War" : ROGUEONE
36. Attractive : MAGNETIC
37. Where Macbeth is buried : IONA
39. Least likely to ramble : TERSEST
42. Certain Finn : LAPP
43. Household chore system : JOBJAR
44. "And my reaction was ...," in teenspeak : IMLIKE
45. Jet launcher : GEYSER
47. Word on an express lane sign : ITEMS
49. What's your beef? : TBONE
52. Small scrap : SPAT
54. Locale of Dostoyevsky's exile : OMSK
56. ___ Championship (event since 1916) : PGA
57. King, in Portugal : REI

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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