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New York Times, Monday, November 12, 2018

Author:
Kathy Bloomer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
111/12/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Kathy Bloomer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QXZ} Spans: 2 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Bloomer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kathy Bloomer notes:
When I retired from my Seattle pediatric hospitalist job in 2014, I became interested in crossword construction. The Diagramless ... read more

When I retired from my Seattle pediatric hospitalist job in 2014, I became interested in crossword construction. The Diagramless Puzzle has always been my hands down favorite, and I wondered if that might translate into success in puzzle construction. I made a bucket list and publication in the NYT was the only thing on it. After many attempts and great feedback from Will and Sam, this goal has been achieved. Thanks, guys!

Jeff Chen notes:
A proper debut! How well-mannered, using colorful phrases with a FORK, SPOON, KNIFE, wrapped up by a call to COME TO THE TABLE. I ... read more

A proper debut! How well-mannered, using colorful phrases with a FORK, SPOON, KNIFE, wrapped up by a call to COME TO THE TABLE. I liked how the TABLE was set following all the rules, the fork going on the (racing to read Wikipedia) FORK to the left of the knife, and the KNIFE and SPOON set to the right of the FORK. Just like at my dinner table!

Okay fine, I never use a KNIFE. That's what the side of the FORK (and your teeth) are for. Don't get me started on the uselessness of spoons. Drink straight from the dang bowl, and you have fewer utensils to wash.

I have hundreds of these genius ideas that save oodles of hours.

(My wife begs to differ)

I usually don't like seeing long theme answers run vertically – horizontal ones are so much easier to read – but today I would have liked an exception. Pretty much every table setting diagram I reviewed (in my hopes of pretending that I'm no barbarian) are set with the utensils pointing up.

Oh, and how cool would it have been if there had been a circular "plate" made of black squares right in the center of the puzzle! That would have made for a very difficult grid, but I think it would have been doable.

Okay, this grid is already hard enough to fill cleanly. For example, check out the west region, almost always a trouble spot with long themers. I think the black squares ought to have been rejiggered to avoid the troublesome ?G?U sequence. When your only options are IGLU (ugly variant) and OGPU, it's time to restart with a modified grid skeleton. There would still likely be some trickiness in that west region, but I'm sure it could have been done with a much more minor ding.

Overall, I appreciated the proper ordering of the place settings, as well as the great phrases. More testing on the grid skeleton before filling would have helped, though.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1112 ( 25,206 )

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Across
1
Walk in the kiddie pool : WADE
5
Org. for the Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty : WNBA
9
Minor fight : SCRAP
14
Affordable German car : OPEL
15
Garden worker : HOER
16
"Star Trek" lieutenant who speaks Swahili : UHURA
17
Drops dead : KEELSOVER
19
Tilts : CANTS
20
Declare something completely finished : STICKAFORKINIT
22
Cain or Abel, to Adam and Eve : SON
23
Tiny : WEE
24
"___ we can" (2008 campaign slogan) : YES
25
Self-proclaimed greatest boxer : ALI
28
One-named soccer great : PELE
31
Sis's sibling : BRO
33
Expression of disgust in Valley Girl-speak : GAGMEWITHASPOON
39
Give the glad eye : OGLE
40
Grp. to call to get a tow : AAA
41
Site with a "Shop by category" button : EBAY
42
Have surgery : GOUNDERTHEKNIFE
47
Not worth a ___ : SOU
48
One-named singer with the 1985 hit "Smooth Operator" : SADE
49
Concorde, e.g., for short : SST
50
Ingested : ATE
53
Org. with the longtime leader Wayne LaPierre : NRA
55
QB's mistake: Abbr. : INT
57
Show up for negotiations ... or a hint for 20-, 33- and 42-Across : COMETOTHETABLE
63
___ Gay (W.W. II plane) : ENOLA
64
Act all hoity-toity : PUTONAIRS
66
Indian princes : RAJAS
67
Felipe ___, first Dominican manager in M.L.B. history : ALOU
68
Small construction unit? : LEGO
69
Lose in a staring contest : BLINK
70
Littlest in a litter : RUNT
71
Sexual appetite : LUST
Down
1
Moo goo gai pan pan : WOK
2
Residents of a 1968 movie "planet" : APES
3
Mosquito repellent brand : DEET
4
___ Island, immigrants' landing spot, once : ELLIS
5
Comment after an amazing fact is stated : WHOKNEW
6
___ Scotia : NOVA
7
Meat in a burger : BEEF
8
--> or <-- : ARROW
9
Chumps : SUCKERS
10
Spiced tea from the East : CHAI
11
Like some noses and egg yolks : RUNNY
12
Bandleader Shaw : ARTIE
13
Histories : PASTS
18
Listerine competitor : SCOPE
21
McEntire known as "The Queen of Country" : REBA
25
Eagerly expectant : AGOG
26
Italian body of water : LAGO
27
Inuit shelter: Var. : IGLU
29
Pinocchio, notably : LIAR
30
Les ___-Unis : ETATS
32
Request from a dentist : OPEN
34
Clothing department with jackets and ties : MENS
35
[LOL] : HAHA
36
Japanese sashes : OBIS
37
Clods : OAFS
38
No, in Moscow : NYET
43
"You wouldn't believe it if I told you" : DONTASK
44
Currency unit worth a little more than a dollar : EURO
45
Delete from a manuscript : EDITOUT
46
Longtime "S.N.L." cast member Thompson : KENAN
50
Sour : ACERB
51
Like music with traditional harmony : TONAL
52
Smiley face with hearts for eyes, e.g. : EMOJI
54
Equal to face value : ATPAR
56
Pre-Little League game : TBALL
58
Panache : ELAN
59
Giant in streaming video : HULU
60
School attended by princes William and Harry : ETON
61
In ___ of (replacing) : LIEU
62
Units of work in physics : ERGS
65
Drunkard : SOT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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