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New York Times, Thursday, February 1, 2018

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3511/8/20048/10/20180
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14507810
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1.65320
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 31 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Damon J. Gulczynski notes: My only regret with this puzzle is that there was no room in it for SEAN ASTIN – "Salad popular in ‘80s movies?"
Jeff Chen notes: Love me a good parsing puzzle. Roman of Hollywood isn't a 'Roman,' but an R. O. man = RYAN O'NEAL. Great consistency, Damon finding ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Love me a good parsing puzzle. Roman of Hollywood isn't a "Roman," but an R. O. man = RYAN O'NEAL. Great consistency, Damon finding "person" terms readily hideable within regular words: ROman, LEgal, MAlady, REgent. Tight set, too — I'd be remiss in saying that the only other possibility I could find (besides SAlad) was REmiss.

*rimshot*

INITIALLY initially didn't click with me. Yes, the first two initials are at the start of the first word, thus doubly "initial." Thinking about it for a while, it does feel like there's cleverness that should have produced a stronger a-ha moment for me. Not sure why it's still feeling like a stretch — perhaps it's a bit too punny for my taste?

Good gridwork. The obvious glue is stuff that gets listed on editors' spec sheets, i.e. abbrs. (RETD), tough foreign words (A TOI), entries that might feel esoteric (NENE). The one that interests me most today is A LOAD. It feels bad to me, but how is it different than A LOT or A TON, which both feel fine? Perhaps it's because I usually hear A LOT or A TON by themselves, but A LOAD always comes with "of"? Hmm.

AGE TEN was another that made me pause. It is a milestone age, turning double digits. But I don't like the idea of paving the way for AGE FIVE (when most kids start school) or AGE TWO ("terrible" time for tots) or other arbitrariness.

APERY is another odd-sounding word — if you have to convince yourself that yeah, it's probably fine because it's in the dictionary, it's probably not. But the fantastic clue rescued it for me. Love the clever repurposing of the word "Impressionism."

All in all, a neat idea. I think I would have given it the POW! if 1) the INITIALLY revealer had hit me more strongly (subjective call), or if 2) the people had all been drawn from the same walk of life, tightening up the theme set even further. Lots of people whose initials are MA, for example.

Would have been POY! (year) status if everyone had been the first to do something in their field … thus triply INITIAL!

JimH notes: Clever theme. Over at Crossword Fiend, Andy Kravis noticed that this same idea had been used two years earlier by Zhouqin Burnikel.
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0201 ( 24,922 )
Across Down
1. Tough person to tolerate : PAIN
5. Qatar's capital : DOHA
9. Decide to join : OPTIN
14. Literary matchmaker : EMMA
15. Clinches : ICES
16. One joining a union? : BRIDE
17. *Roman of Hollywood? : RYANONEAL
19. Pretend : LETON
20. Shoe company based in Southern California : LAGEAR
21. Basketball sportscaster Dick : VITALE
22. Paradise in "On the Road" : SAL
24. *Legal acting in a 1980s prime-time soap opera? : LINDAEVANS
26. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner of the 1980s-2000s : CLEMENS
28. Operating system developed at Bell Labs : UNIX
29. Frost : HOAR
30. "The Simpsons" bus driver : OTTO
31. Barfly : SOT
34. *Malady of French history? : MARIEANTOINETTE
39. Really binges, in brief : ODS
40. No. crunchers : CPAS
41. No longer serving: Abbr. : RETD
42. "Uh, excuse me" : AHEM
43. Like rock stars among fans : SWARMED
46. *Regent of film criticism? : ROGEREBERT
49. Get blubbery : CRY
50. In the worst way : SORELY
51. Maryland state symbol : ORIOLE
53. Student of Socrates : PLATO
54. At the start ... or how the first two letters of each starred clue relate to the answer? : INITIALLY
57. In many cases : OFTEN
58. James with a posthumous Pulitzer : AGEE
59. Award for Agency of the Year, e.g. : CLIO
60. Frigid temps : TEENS
61. Velvety growth : MOSS
62. FiveThirtyEight.com owner : ESPN
1. According to : PER
2. "Arrival" actress Adams : AMY
3. "Talk away" : IMALLEARS
4. Mom's mom : NANA
5. Have a date night at home, say : DINEIN
6. Vast amounts : OCEANS
7. "Have you ___?" : HEARD
8. Digital communication, for short? : ASL
9. The void : OBLIVION
10. Like one line on a sales receipt : PRETAX
11. Magnate : TITAN
12. Subjects of the Second Commandment : IDOLS
13. Endangered state bird : NENE
18. Beach look? : OGLE
21. Starbucks specification : VENTI
22. Average guy : SCHMO
23. Tons : ALOAD
25. A camera may be set on it : AUTO
27. Something a doc might order : MRI
30. They may follow buzzers, for short : OTS
31. Subject of some biomedical research : STEMCELLS
32. Den : bear :: holt : ___ : OTTER
33. Child's bear : TEDDY
35. Ranks : ECHELONS
36. Impressionism? : APERY
37. Handle : NAME
38. Goof : ERR
42. When many kids start fifth grade : AGETEN
43. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ..., e.g. : SERIES
44. Pens : WRITES
45. Yours, in Tours : ATOI
46. John of colonial Jamestown : ROLFE
47. Give an address : ORATE
48. Beat it! : BONGO
50. Difficult situation : SPOT
52. Castigate, with "into" : LACE
54. Cartesian conclusion : IAM
55. Sass : LIP
56. Over there : YON

Answer summary: 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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