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New York Times, Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
182/9/20177/16/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5262300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58021
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FJQWXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
This is the kind of puzzle idea I generally recommend not pursuing. There are just way too many dependencies that need to fall into ... read more

This is the kind of puzzle idea I generally recommend not pursuing. There are just way too many dependencies that need to fall into place for it to be worth the effort. In this case, the idea required a) finding 5 themers that hid the sun, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Saturn, b) placing them in way that the hidden celestial bodies "aligned" in middle six columns of the grid, and c) interlocking PLANETARY / ALIGNMENT through two of the themers. Needless to say, I was very surprised that this puzz came together at all.

Also, if you identify as non-male and/or LGBT and/or POC, and you're looking to get into crossword constructing, I'd be thrilled to offer whatever assistance I can to help you get your puzzles published. Contact me via Instagram (@rosstrudeau) or Twitter (@trudeauross).

Jeff Chen notes:
Ross ain't joking. As soon as I opened up the puzzle, I girded myself for crossword glue and entry weirdity. Pleasantly surprised to ... read more

Ross ain't joking. As soon as I opened up the puzzle, I girded myself for crossword glue and entry weirdity. Pleasantly surprised to not get much of either. There's some ALAI, USS … hey, that's it? Impressive!

And looking back on the grid as a whole, there's MARSUPIUM, NOOVE NUSE (that's a Canadian province) … it's better than I had thought. A lot better. Perhaps it was the oddity of MARSUPIUM that threw me for a curve? It's funny how a single entry, especially a long one, can tilt one's perspective on a puzzle as a whole. Judging an entire crossword by its worst or most bizarre entry isn't fair. Not in the slightest. But impressions are what impressions are.

I generally like TITTLES and IT BANDS (except when I have trouble with my tight IT BANDS stemming from long-distance running). I didn't like them as much today though, because of MARSUPIUM.

Darn you, first impressions!

I wonder if not shooting for lower than the moon (ha) would have been better. Maybe SYZYGY as a shorter revealer, which would have gained Ross a ton more freedom in picking his long across themers? Granted, that's also a word some would consider bizarre. Such a cool string of letters, though!

Loved the color of BARISTA as fill, plus its fantastic clue — a BARISTA doesn't serve any average joe, indeed. Give me my soy extra hot no foam latte, please!

Strong crossword concept, and a valiant attempt at executing with a ridiculous amount of theme material. Almost pulled it off. Almost.

1
S
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P
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A
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O
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M
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H
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B
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0213 ( 25,299 )
Across
1
Bridge : SPAN
5
"I'll take care of that" : ONIT
9
American Girl products : DOLLS
14
Jai ___ : ALAI
15
Common blessing : GESUNDHEIT
17
Undercover buster : NARC
18
Rhyming description for IHOP's "Fresh 'N Fruity" pancakes : ROOTYTOOTY
19
Safety warning for some kitchenware : NOOVENUSE
21
Born : NEE
22
___ Park, Calif. : MENLO
23
Jots : TITTLES
26
Outer thigh stabilizers, in brief : ITBANDS
29
See in court, say : SUE
30
Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-winning graphic novel : MAUS
31
Craze : RAGE
34
Road Runner cartoon sights : MESAS
38
Goof : ERR
39
Warm and cozy spots : HEARTHS
41
Manning with two Super Bowl M.V.P. awards : ELI
42
Homeland of many 2010s refugees : SYRIA
44
What bugs are found in : BETA
45
Bug on a hook, maybe : BAIT
46
Ctrl-___-Del : ALT
48
On the loose : ATLARGE
50
Big news involving extraterrestrials : CONTACT
54
Caddies' suggestions : IRONS
55
Some four-year degrees, for short : BAS
56
Kangaroo's pouch : MARSUPIUM
59
Loudly angry, as a group : INANUPROAR
62
Flight part : STEP
64
Rolls the dice and moves one's token : TAKESATURN
65
Perfect dives : TENS
66
Parts of porch chairs : SLATS
67
Airport postings, in brief : ETAS
68
Italian wine region : ASTI
Down
1
Lead-in to Francisco or Pedro : SAN
2
With 36-Down, astronomical rarity ... or a hint to the circled letters : PLANETARY
3
Alexander Hamilton's nemesis : AARONBURR
4
___ Maduro, successor to Venezuela's Hugo Chávez : NICOLAS
5
Fairy tale baddie : OGRE
6
Sign gas : NEON
7
Gets tagged, say : ISOUT
8
Rwandan minority : TUTSI
9
Banned insecticide : DDT
10
"Well, well, well!" : OHO
11
Sierra ___ : LEONE
12
Some Millers : LITES
13
Bad eye sight? : STYE
16
Nabokov's nos : NYETS
20
Part of many German names : VON
22
They act in silence : MIMES
24
Big name in antacids : TUMS
25
Meade's opponent at Gettysburg : LEE
27
"Dr." of hip-hop : DRE
28
Onetime Volvo alternative : SAAB
32
Master's seeker's hurdle, for short : GRE
33
Suffix with oper- : ETTA
35
Shipping lanes : SEAROUTES
36
See 2-Down : ALIGNMENT
37
Browser history contents : SITES
39
"Freeze!" : HALT
40
Fedora, for one : HAT
43
McKellen who played Gandalf : IAN
45
One who won't serve the average joe : BARISTA
47
Florida city on a bay : TAMPA
49
Back talk : LIP
50
Ear passage : CANAL
51
Japanese city on a bay : OSAKA
52
___ blanche : CARTE
53
Prey for a brown bear : TROUT
55
Smithereens : BITS
57
Actress Ramirez of "Grey's Anatomy" : SARA
58
Cremation containers : URNS
60
Pull in : NET
61
___ Intrepid (New York City tourist attraction) : USS
63
Letter after "X" : PSI

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?