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New York Times, Friday, December 8, 2017

Author: Paolo Pasco
Editor: Will Shortz
Paolo Pasco
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
117/17/201512/8/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1200053
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Pasco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Paolo Pasco notes: It started with NINJA STARS, which someone mentioned in a TV show I was watching (either 'Parks and Rec' or 'The Office,' I don't ... more
Paolo Pasco notes:

It started with NINJA STARS, which someone mentioned in a TV show I was watching (either "Parks and Rec" or "The Office," I don't remember which one). I thought it would be a cool entry to put in the bottom row of a themeless; it has a lot of common letters, but there's that cool J that prevents it from joining the boring, un-Scrabbly likes of PEERESSES and STRESS TESTS.

I found a good 50A/54A/56A stack, and worked counterclockwise from there. The high-Scrabble-value-letter pileup around the bottom middle was kind of an accident — when I was putting in all the Z's and Q's, it was under the impression that I wouldn't be able to fill the rest of the grid with those letters in place, but it would be cool if I could. Luckily, a nice fill came together.

I don't really have anything else to say, except that I like this grid design — it has a lot of flexibility between corners, so you can really inject your personality into the grid (I like the puzzle nerd vibe of ESCAPE ROOMS and PUZZLE BOX; very on brand for me).

This is all to say that when it looks like I'm watching TV, I'm actually doing valuable crossword research.

(P.S. Big ups as usual to Will/Joel/Sam for really making the clues sparkle. 27D is lovely, especially for such a frequently-used answer)

Jeff Chen notes: Loved that little QUAALUDE / PUZZLE BOX section! Something so awesome about all those rare letters worked in so smoothly. And ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Loved that little QUAALUDE / PUZZLE BOX section! Something so awesome about all those rare letters worked in so smoothly.

And PUZZLE BOX and ESCAPE ROOM in the same grid? Squee! A puzzler's dream.

Paolo did well with his long slots, converting so many of them into snazzy material. I hitched slightly on NINJA STARS — "throwing stars," yeah? — but AP CREDIT. BARREL RACE! JEAN SHORTS! DERNIER CRI, even some great mid-length stuff in QUE PASA, BAT CAVE! Paolo sure knows how to pack in a ton of entertainment.

I'm a Queen fan, but I wasn't sure what RADIO GAGA was, nor did I recognize it. Fun title, though.

SUBTWEET fell into the same category. I think I'm just not in that target demographic. Entries like this are tough — I bet some tweeps will go (radio?) ga-ga over this entry, but it didn't do anything for me. Except make me feel old.

Some crossword glue, in OTT, GOVT / CORP, AMT, KEL (come on, someone named KEL become truly crossworthy already!). Not too bad, but considering this is a 72-word puzzle (the max allowed for a themeless), I would have liked that AMT to be closer to two. There are always trade-offs with any grid construction, but I think it's very doable to make 72-word grids snazzy AND ultra-smooth.

A lot to love here. Approaching POW!-level work, but not quite at my personal threshold.

1
S
2
C
3
A
4
T
5
J
6
E
7
A
8
N
9
S
10
H
11
O
12
R
13
T
14
S
15
P
O
P
O
16
E
S
C
A
P
E
R
O
O
M
17
F
A
C
T
18
D
E
R
N
I
E
R
C
R
I
19
S
T
R
A
20
T
I
21
E
A
R
L
22
K
E
L
23
E
L
O
24
W
A
N
E
25
T
I
N
E
26
R
27
A
D
I
O
28
G
A
G
A
29
C
H
E
T
30
I
M
I
N
L
O
V
E
31
D
A
E
32
B
A
T
C
A
V
E
33
B
I
T
E
34
S
35
A
36
T
37
O
T
T
38
Q
U
A
A
L
U
D
E
39
M
40
A
M
E
41
P
U
Z
Z
L
E
B
O
X
42
C
O
L
E
43
B
A
E
Z
44
A
M
T
45
A
N
G
46
C
O
R
P
47
K
N
E
W
48
I
49
T
50
B
A
R
51
R
E
L
R
A
52
C
E
53
N
E
K
O
54
I
M
E
A
N
T
O
S
A
Y
55
T
E
E
N
56
N
I
N
J
A
S
T
A
R
S
57
S
T
A
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1208 ( 24,867 )
Across Down
1. "Get outta here!" : SCAT
5. Casual cutoffs : JEANSHORTS
15. Law force, slangily : POPO
16. Breakout entertainment? : ESCAPEROOM
17. Truth we hold to be self-evident? : FACT
18. Latest thing : DERNIERCRI
19. Some low clouds : STRATI
21. Tupper of Tupperware fame : EARL
22. Orange-soda-loving character of 1990s Nickelodeon : KEL
23. Big '70s-'80s band inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 : ELO
24. Start to go out : WANE
25. Point in a kitchen : TINE
26. Queen hit with the lyric "So don't become some background noise" : RADIOGAGA
29. Baker in a studio : CHET
30. Comment from the smitten : IMINLOVE
31. Kim ___-jung, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize : DAE
32. Subterranean hideout in comics : BATCAVE
33. Tries to nip : BITESAT
37. Sportsman whose #4 was retired : OTT
38. Powerful sedative : QUAALUDE
39. "We Need a Little Christmas" musical : MAME
41. Frustrating thing to open : PUZZLEBOX
42. ___ slaw : COLE
43. Female singer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 : BAEZ
44. Withdrawal fig. : AMT
45. Director Lee : ANG
46. News ___ (media giant) : CORP
47. "I was right!" : KNEWIT
50. Rodeo event : BARRELRACE
53. Indie singer ___ Case : NEKO
54. "That is ..." : IMEANTOSAY
55. Many a Generation Z member, now : TEEN
56. Throwable weapons used by assassins : NINJASTARS
57. Time at a hotel : STAY
1. 15, 30 and 50 are common ones, in brief : SPFS
2. Layer : COAT
3. Reward for an accelerated course, in brief : APCREDIT
4. Line on a 1040 : TOTALINCOME
5. ___ knight : JEDI
6. San Jose-to-San Antonio dir. : ESE
7. Figure that can describe a lot : ACREAGE
8. Refrain syllables : NANANA
9. What may be on the horizon? : SPIRE
10. Cad : HEEL
11. Alexander ___, pioneer and early head of New York's subway system : ORR
12. Mile-high player : ROCKIE
13. Sign of availability : TORENT
14. "You're about to be photographed!" : SMILE
20. "That ship has sailed" : TOOLATE
24. Aspect of hydrodynamics : WAVE
25. Weather : THEELEMENTS
26. Tease : RIB
27. Drs.' order? : AMA
28. C-Span focus: Abbr. : GOVT
29. Language banned under Franco's dictatorship : CATALAN
31. Cameron of Hollywood : DIAZ
33. Telephone, informally : BUZZ
34. Social media post that refers to another user without directly mentioning that person : SUBTWEET
35. Trouble : ADO
36. Ranch moniker : TEX
38. "What say, José?" : QUEPASA
39. Friendly French term of address : MONAMI
40. Nelson ___, author of "The Man With the Golden Arm" : ALGREN
41. Mimic : PARROT
42. Kind of fever : CABIN
43. Parts of a Frankenstein costume : BOLTS
46. W.W.E. star John : CENA
47. See 52-Down : KEYS
48. Store with a three-syllable name in four letters : IKEA
49. High-class : TONY
51. Literally, "rule" : RAJ
52. With 47-Down, some frequently misplaced items : CAR

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle.

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