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New York Times, Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Author: Harry Smith and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Harry Smith
TotalDebutCollabs
112/5/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5011/13/201212/5/201718
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
517145342
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {FJQVXZ} Spans: 2 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Smith. This is puzzle # 50 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: CELEBRITY CROSSWORD
To mark the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword, which debuted in 1942, we are publishing a series of puzzles co-created by famous people who solve the Times crossword, working together with regular Times puzzle contributors.
This collaboration is by the television journalist Harry Smith, a correspondent for NBC News, and previously a host of CBS's "The Early Show," working together with Zhouqin Burnikel, of Brooklyn Park, Minn. This is Zhouqin's 50th crossword for The Times.
More information about the making of today's puzzle appears in the Times's daily crossword column (nytimes.com/column/wordplay).
Constructor notes: C.C.: This puzzle was made last April. Immediately after Will introduced us, Harry sent me a few ideas. We eventually settled on ... more
Constructor notes:

C.C.: This puzzle was made last April. Immediately after Will introduced us, Harry sent me a few ideas. We eventually settled on today's theme set, with Will's help.

Harry was so warm, quick and creative. I was also surprised that he speaks some Chinese. He knows pijiu (beer), mei wen ti (no problem), etc. It's such an honor to work with a news legend.

Jeff Chen notes: It's so much fun when the Celeb Constructor series puts out a theme related to that celeb! Today, Harry Smith, a journalist, gives us ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

It's so much fun when the Celeb Constructor series puts out a theme related to that celeb! Today, Harry Smith, a journalist, gives us a kooky news team, anchored by an [Anchor man?] — POPEYE THE SAILOR. (Think about that tattoo he sports.)

It took me half a minute to grok how a MARINE BIOLOGIST was a [Sound technician?]. I'll give you a little time to think about it … *

ALLEN GINSBERG is pretty good [Beat reporter?] — he's of the Beat Generation. As to being a reporter, though … hmm. But one definition of "report" is "to give a spoken or written account of something that one has observed." Contrary to my first impression, that describes GINSBERG surprisingly well.

And the best for last, the [Executive producer?]. WHARTON is one of the most famous b-schools, i.e., a place that produces execs! Great way to cap it off.

C.C. is such a PRO. Look how expertly she uses mirror symmetry to her advantage today. It's such a great option when your themers are unpairable but all odd-numbered in length. She spaces the four themers to the max, giving room to breathe, and uses her black squares to separate them wisely.

The only tiny section that needed some crossword glue was the south, not a surprise considering it has to work with two themers. A bit of SYN and ANO … but look at what bonuses she and Harry were able to work in. HAT TIPS and OH HENRY are delightful. A hat tip to both of you for fitting those in with such minor prices to pay!

A lot of construction is iterating little sections over and over until the balance is right. This grid came out so smooth, while even incorporating some bonuses in ROAD CLOSED, IM NOT READY. Not a ton of extras, but with HAT TIPS and OH HENRY, it was enough to keep me happy.

So smooth and engaging a solve. If all the themers had been as spot-on and funny as WHARTON, it would have been the POW! for me.

(*Think about Puget Sound. As in, the place I live. D'oh!)

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1205 ( 24,864 )
Across Down
1. Kindergarten learning : ABCS
5. Place with hot rocks : SAUNA
10. Golf shot near a green : CHIP
14. Cemetery purchase : PLOT
15. Tells to "Do it!" : URGES
16. Long-eared hopper : HARE
17. Anchor man? : POPEYETHESAILOR
20. Sacred Egyptian bug : SCARAB
21. Southern drawl, e.g. : ACCENT
22. Snack you might bite or lick : OREO
24. "Lovely ___" (Beatles song) : RITA
25. Sound technician? : MARINEBIOLOGIST
32. They come with buds : IPODS
33. Space ball : ORB
34. Star-crossed lover of literature : ROMEO
35. Secretive org. : CIA
36. Bare minimum : LEAST
38. Tennis barrier : NET
39. What dropping off a last child at college is, to many parents : SADDAY
42. Star of "An Inconvenient Truth" : ALGORE
45. Giant in health plans : CIGNA
47. Cancel, as a rocket launch : ABORT
48. Beat reporter? : ALLENGINSBERG
51. One not reporting for duty, maybe : AWOL
52. 2017, por ejemplo : ANO
53. Cartoon "Ouch!" : YEOW
55. Suffers from : HAS
56. Quaint gestures of gratitude : HATTIPS
60. Noshed : ATE
61. "Right you ___!" : ARE
62. Sister brand of Baby Ruth : OHHENRY
63. It stains : DYE
64. Resting place : BED
65. Executive producer? : WHARTON
66. Blab : YAK
1. Smartphone downloads : APPS
2. Congress's Freedom Caucus, e.g. : BLOC
3. Nightclub in a Manilow song : COPA
4. Olympics no-no : STEROID
5. Honey brand since 1921 : SUEBEE
6. "The creation of beauty," per Ralph Waldo Emerson : ART
7. "Yuck!" : UGH
8. Maiden name intro : NEE
9. Batter, e.g. : ASSAIL
10. City said to have big shoulders : CHICAGO
11. In great shape : HALE
12. Resource in the Mesabi Range : IRON
13. Cheeky : PERT
18. Hard-to-believe stories : YARNS
19. One in a cast : ACTOR
23. Instrument with cane blades : OBOE
24. Steals : ROBS
25. Hot ones can cause trouble : MICS
26. Capital of Samoa : APIA
27. Sign akin to "Bridge Out" : ROADCLOSED
28. One of the Gershwins : IRA
29. "Hold on, give me a second" : IMNOTREADY
30. Future predictor : SEER
31. Many a pledge drive gift : TOTE
36. Loretta who was the subject of "Coal Miner's Daughter" : LYNN
37. Word document settings : TABS
40. ___ pickle : DILL
41. 5 or 6, for a kindergartner, typically : AGE
43. High toss : LOB
44. ___ Goose (vodka brand) : GREY
46. Dame of mystery : AGATHA
47. Consecrate : ANOINT
48. Cognizant : AWARE
49. Bury : INTER
50. Successful prankster's cry : GOTYA
51. Melville monomaniac : AHAB
54. Span for The New Yorker : WEEK
56. Know-___ : HOW
57. Appropriate rhyme for "spa" : AHH
58. For : PRO
59. Roget's entry: Abbr. : SYN

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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