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New York Times, Saturday, December 30, 2017

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
Damon J. Gulczynski
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3411/8/20045/5/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
14507710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65320

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {X} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Jeff Chen notes: Some grids scream to be run on a Saturday, especially ones that feature a ton of entries that solvers might label as 'you need to ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Some grids scream to be run on a Saturday, especially ones that feature a ton of entries that solvers might label as "you need to know trivia to do crosswords." HOWDAH, ZLOTYS, ALNICO, and CZOLGOSZ = Saturday!

While that preconceived notion gives crosswords a bad name, I like a puzzle in this vein once in a while, as long as it feels fair. I'd seen McKinley's assassin, Leon CZOLGOSZ in a previous crossword — CZOLGOSZ crossing GNARS sure made me gnar when I got that square wrong! — but I thought Damon did a nice job keeping all the crossings gettable. Some might argue that ZLOTYS is a tough unit of currency, but I think educated solvers ought to at least have heard the word.

And darn it, that clue for ZLOTYS was so awesome! The Polish currency clued with a devious [Pole vault …] = fantastic!

Some great feature entries, CAN I GET A WITNESS and SOCIAL DARWINISM terms that most everyone can recognize and appreciate. Colorful, snazzy, and not requiring niche knowledge. If SOCIAL DARWINISM had gotten a cheekier clue — the misdirect toward a laissez-faire national policy didn't totally work for me — they would have been perfect feature entries.

KING JAMES refers to LeBron's awesome nickname. I would have liked the clue to hint that it was a nickname, though — maybe something like [His Airness : Chicago :: ___ : Cleveland]? I'm sure sports-haters / people still suffering from SAT-anxiety would have hated that ...

With just a couple of INI, DTS, ETAT, I thought Damon did technically well with his grid. Sure, maybe you could argue that the CZOLGOSZ / ZLOTYS crossing was rough, but there's also an argument that one ought to know important historical figures like CSOLGOSZ.

Bah, CZOLGOSZ!

Along with some great MC ESCHER and RUN DMC drawing from different walks of life, I enjoyed the diversity that Damon brought to his grid. I prefer clever wordplay to "trivia," but the latter wasn't so heavy as to turn me off of this one.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1230 ( 24,889 )
Across Down
1. Colorful pullovers : DASHIKIS
9. Party host's convenience : WETBAR
15. "The Merchant of Venice" film star, 2004 : ALPACINO
16. Mark who won two golf majors in 1998 : OMEARA
17. Loss prevention association? : MNEMONIC
18. Pioneering hip-hop trio : RUNDMC
19. Benefiting : AIDING
20. Cards : IDS
22. Option for people who can't handle the truth? : DARE
23. Gulf War weapon : SCUD
24. Matchmaking site available in Hebrew : JDATE
26. Shoot out : SPEW
27. Keystone figure : KOP
28. Bombs : FAILS
29. "The More You Know" spot, e.g., for short : PSA
30. Zeroed (in on) : HOMED
31. Faithfulness : FEALTY
34. Question that might precede "Hallelujah!" : CANIGETAWITNESS
38. Pole vault units? : ZLOTYS
39. Played again : RERAN
40. Subject of Durocher's "Nice guys finish last" sentiment : OTT
41. "Yesss!" : SWEET
42. Ate : HAD
45. Composition of some beds : LAVA
47. Cracks : QUIPS
48. Range : ROVE
49. Snag : GRAB
50. Base for some Chinese art : URN
51. Place for many a start-up : THEWEB
53. Like Earth : OBLATE
55. "Best to avoid that" : IWOULDNT
57. "You are quite right" : SOITIS
58. Hemingway's "old man" : SANTIAGO
59. Bayou genre : ZYDECO
60. Artist with many mathematically inspired works : MCESCHER
1. Patterned fabric : DAMASK
2. Magnet alloy : ALNICO
3. Ran harder : SPEDUP
4. ___ Karzai, ex-president of Afghanistan : HAMID
5. Folder, maybe : ICON
6. "The Chosen One" of the N.B.A. : KINGJAMES
7. ___ Kamoze, "Here Comes the Hotstepper" singer : INI
8. Laissez-faire doctrine : SOCIALDARWINISM
9. Troubling prognosis : WORSE
10. ___ oil, ingredient in some health care products : EMU
11. Inclines : TENDS
12. No-goodnik : BADAPPLE
13. Subjects of some disputes in planes : ARMRESTS
14. Courses for cars in competition : RACEWAYS
21. The shakes : DTS
25. Take in less : DIET
28. Old-fashioned sort : FOGY
30. Miss's counterpart : HIT
31. Brand at Indy : FIRESTONE
32. Conseil d'___ : ETAT
33. Woman's name meaning "grace" : ANN
34. McKinley's assassin : CZOLGOSZ
35. Does this church position ring a bell? : ALTARBOY
36. Like division by zero : NOTVALID
37. Break down : WEEP
41. California's Point ___ : SUR
42. Elephant rider's seat : HOWDAH
43. Pay back : AVENGE
44. One subject to imprisonment, in Dickens's day : DEBTOR
46. Die down : ABATE
47. Chips and ___ (Tex-Mex offering) : QUESO
48. Item from another time : RELIC
52. They often precede hikes : HUTS
54. Little jerk : TIC
56. Mil. branch disbanded in 1978 : WAC

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

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