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New York Times, Friday, February 15, 2019

Author:
Wyna Liu
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
12/15/20190
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.72000
Wyna Liu

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {Q} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Liu. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Wyna Liu notes:
This is the first puzzle I've constructed and I'm thrilled to be making my NYT debut. The seed entry for this puzzle was 33-Across ... read more

This is the first puzzle I've constructed and I'm thrilled to be making my NYT debut. The seed entry for this puzzle was 33-Across CRAZY RICH ASIANS, followed by 1-Across CATFISHES, a shoutout to Henry Joost and Supermarché, who made Catfish. I wanted to clue 41-Across ALL-PROS as "Like Newton and Watt," but WATT was already in the grid and I couldn't figure out how to replace it.

Fill-wise, I'm least happy with WOODMEN, T-NUTS, and T-SLOT, particularly since they sit so close together in the grid. My favorites are the multi-word answers OOPS SORRY, WIN AT LIFE, and SLEEP EASY.

I'm grateful to Erik Agard for inspiring me to start constructing and for being a fantastic mentor. He did warn me about the dicey black square configuration that almost trisects the grid, exactly the feedback I got from the editors. A near deal-breaker — thank you eds. for letting it slide!

I've been a crossword enthusiast for about ten years. Between solving puzzles, I spend my time making jewelry and magnetic objects, teaching yoga, and bothering my dog. I hope to keep the puzzles coming!

Jeff Chen notes:
CRAZY RICH ASIANS! The book was hilarious. I was so glad that they didn't cast Tilda Swinton to play one of the lead roles. Not all ... read more

CRAZY RICH ASIANS! The book was hilarious. I was so glad that they didn't cast Tilda Swinton to play one of the lead roles. Not all movies make for great crossword feature entries, but this one had mass popular appeal, bringing in the megabucks. NYT solvers should have at least heard of it.

Solid craftsmanship, especially for a debut. Impressive that I hit barely a dab of crossword glue anywhere. I love this careful approach, no trace of the all-too-common "good enough is good enough" attitude I see in newer constructors. Way to go, Wyna!

Fun connection between T NUTS and T SLOT, too. Amusing to this mechanical engineer who's used many T NUTS in his lifetime.

Some good color: CATFISHES, FOSSILIZE, OOPS SORRY, and the highlight, WIN AT LIFE.

I would have liked more jazz overall, though. When you feature a 15-letter entry, you run the risk of 1.) not having many other long slots, and 2.) not using the ones you have to their fullest potential. INSANELY takes up one of those precious 8-letter slots for example, and it doesn't do much for me. SALSA DIP, too – I eat a lot of salsa, some dip, but SALSA DIP, not so much.

Sometimes in these cases, the mid-length fill can help. BROTOX is a funny asset, THE RIO is good too. MOSTEST is amusing, ALL PROS solid. WOODMEN ... meh.

As Wyna, Erik, Will all mentioned, there was so much separation, three mini-puzzles barely connected. No bueno; made for a choppy solve in which I got stuck in each of the three sections. It's frustrating to dead-end so many times like that. I'm glad that Will let it slide for this debut, but I'd be just as happy if he put the kibosh on it for the future.

Overall though, impressive debut. Looking forward to seeing how much juice Wyna can pack into her next one.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0215 ( 25,301 )
Across
1
Misrepresents oneself to on the internet, in a way : CATFISHES
10
Place to unload : WHARF
15
Savory treat that is often caramelized : ONIONTART
16
Titan, once : OILER
17
"My bad" : OOPSSORRY
18
Keynote, maybe : ORATE
19
"___ alive!" : SAKES
20
World Series of Poker venue in Las Vegas : THERIO
21
Thin strips used in building construction : SPLINES
24
Lumberjacks, e.g. : WOODMEN
25
Left in a hurry, with "out" : PEELED
26
Mother of Mars, in myth : JUNO
27
Relief pitcher? : ADVIL
28
Obscure : MASK
29
Power unit : WATT
33
Highest-grossing rom-com of the 2010s : CRAZYRICHASIANS
36
Days gone by : YORE
37
Baseball family name : ALOU
38
Void : ANNUL
39
Party spec : BYOB
40
Cheerful response after helping : GLADTO
41
Selected N.F.L. stars : ALLPROS
45
Facetious superlative : MOSTEST
46
Become tiresome to : WEARON
47
Music genre that's the focus of Decibel magazine : METAL
48
Not shy away from a potential embarrassment : OWNIT
49
Composes beautifully : MELODIZES
53
Little buddy : KIDDO
54
Late Peabody-winning journalist and newscaster : GWENIFILL
55
County name in five East Coast states : ESSEX
56
Have no worries : SLEEPEASY
Down
1
Something babies do (and people do at babies) : COO
2
1/100 de un siglo : ANO
3
Line on a bill : TIP
4
Petrify, say : FOSSILIZE
5
Without a bit of sense : INSANELY
6
Pumped : STOKED
7
Animals whose fur may change color in the winter : HARES
8
Slips : ERRS
9
Dump : STY
10
"Yay!" : WOOHOO
11
Contracted : HIRED
12
Unit measure for chili : ALARM
13
Fix, as laces : RETIE
14
Gas once used in aerosols : FREON
20
Toy company whose name comes from the Dakota Sioux word for "big" : TONKA
21
Not all there : SPACY
22
Don ___, "Don Giovanni" role : PEDRO
23
Actor Burton : LEVAR
24
Chinese martial arts : WUSHU
26
Most popular U.S. baby name for boys, 1999-2012 : JACOB
28
Greek island where a famous armless statue was found : MILOS
29
Be successful, informally : WINATLIFE
30
"Biography" cable channel : AANDE
31
Bits of hardware that can fit inside 32-Downs : TNUTS
32
Opening for 31-Down : TSLOT
34
Fabric name since 1924 : RAYON
35
Zesty bowlful : SALSADIP
39
Shots for dudes? : BROTOX
40
Cry after a lucky snag : GOTONE
41
Stirred : AWOKE
42
Sports Illustrated's "Olympian of the Century" : LEWIS
43
Touches down : LANDS
44
"In general, ___ is at the bottom of all great mistakes": John Ruskin : PRIDE
45
Imbroglio : MELEE
47
Cry querulously : MEWL
49
Old British sports cars : MGS
50
Khaleda ___, first female P.M. of Bangladesh (1991-96, 2001-06) : ZIA
51
High lines : ELS
52
Machiavellian : SLY

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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