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New York Times, Saturday, February 17, 2018

Author:
Peter Wentz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
369/27/20073/14/20200
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
200121417
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.80005
Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 28 Missing: {Z} This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Wentz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes:
This puzzle's creation began with an old-school approach of mine... Namely, cramming a bunch of Scrabbly letters into the opening ... read more

This puzzle's creation began with an old-school approach of mine... Namely, cramming a bunch of Scrabbly letters into the opening corner and building out the grid from there. I've grown less infatuated with the rarer letters over the years, shifting my focus more towards smoother fill. That said, it's still fun to scatter a few J's and Z's when the opportunity presents itself. Regardless, hope the end result is an enjoyable solve!

Jeff Chen notes:
Peter produces such remarkably smooth, clean themeless grids. Even more impressive, given that he's been generally working with lowish ... read more

Peter produces such remarkably smooth, clean themeless grids. Even more impressive, given that he's been generally working with lowish word counts. This 68-worder ought to have more than just EMS and GRES holding it together, but somehow, Peter weaved everything together such that you can't see any of the seams. Impressive craftsmanship.

I like when a puzzle has at least one feature entry that has a shot at being memorable. For me, something like SAY THE MAGIC WORD, BABY GOT BACK, or ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE makes a puzzle stand out in my head. This grid didn't have one of those for me.

But I can see the argument for the other side, that the latter two entries aren't as broadly appealing as the first, that themeless entries ought to stick with timeless entries that most everyone can figure out, like QUIET TIME or SHOPAHOLIC.

Different strokes.

I did enjoy most of the long entries, MBA DEGREE crossing NBA GAMES particularly pleasing. But there were others that felt a bit dated like I AM AMERICA (over 10 years old now, whoa!), and ERICA JONG, whose "Fear of Flying" was published almost 50 years ago.

Now, Peter and Will did elevate a lot of the entries via great clues. A FOAL gets up and running in a couple of hours = brilliant! Innocently repurposing "up and running" in a literal way is genius.

I didn't understand the MBA DEGREE clue at first — why would you need an MBA to get boarded? Ah! It's not a doctor's boards. It's a Board of Directors. This one wasn't as strong for me, given that there are many board members who aren't MBAs, so it felt like the clue needed a giveaway question mark. But it was a good attempt.

I wonder how many people will write to Will, pointing out his "error," that DOCTORS DON'T NEED AN MBA!

(If you write to me with that, I'll politely put it in my spam folder.)

A beautifully smooth piece of work, if not so snazzy as to stick in my head.

1
B
2
M
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X
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G
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O
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T
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M
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E
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C
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H
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A
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S
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M
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B
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Y
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P
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A
Y
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R
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Q
U
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T
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I
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P
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M
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T
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L
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S
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P
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C
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F
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W
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C
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M
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S
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E
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N
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B
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D
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D
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T
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V
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R
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N
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A
D
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0217 ( 24,938 )

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Across
1
Sport with stunt riding, informally : BMX
4
"Heck if I know" : GOTME
9
Big difference : CHASM
14
Axe product : BODYSPRAY
16
Goes on and on : RANTS
17
Reflective stretch : QUIETTIME
18
Item checked at an airport : IDTAG
19
Misses overseas : SENORITAS
20
Gone : PAST
21
Trio in a children's rhyme : MICE
22
Three-lobed design : TREFOIL
25
Roughly 37% of U.S. immigrants : ASIANS
28
Personal bearing : PRESENCE
29
Jung ___, author of the 1991 best seller "Wild Swans" : CHANG
30
It's generally up and running within a few hours : FOAL
31
"Breaking Bad" protagonist : WALT
32
Lead-in to sat : COM
33
Aquarium performer : SEALION
36
Like a happening party, in slang : LIT
37
Olympic Australis, for one : OPAL
39
Suffix with Jumbo : TRON
40
North Carolina home of Appalachian State University : BOONE
42
Brand with the slogan "Fill your glass" : SAMADAMS
44
What makes a possum play possum : DANGER
45
A-number-one : THEBEST
46
Fifth-brightest star in the night sky : VEGA
47
Part of a pod : ORCA
48
Author who wrote "Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man" : ERICAJONG
53
"The Cocktail Party" dramatist : ELIOT
54
Model company? : AUTOMAKER
55
Book in which the Israelites are rebuked for idolatry : MICAH
56
Common board requirement, in brief : MBADEGREE
57
Vamooses : SCATS
58
Winner of nine Grand Slam tournaments in the 1990s : SELES
59
Components of many free apps : ADS
Down
1
Summer outdoor events, informally : BBQS
2
Manifestation of sulkiness : MOUE
3
Chose at the ballot box : XDIN
4
Almost nothing on? : GSTRINGS
5
Public perception : OPTICS
6
Worn-out : TRITE
7
2Pac's "Dear ___" : MAMA
8
Result of prolonged screen time, maybe : EYESTRAIN
9
"Golly!" : CRIPES
10
Threw some back : HADAFEW
11
Celery sticks topped with peanut butter and raisins : ANTSONALOG
12
Fixed cord for a paratrooper : STATICLINE
13
One source of the umami taste : MSG
15
Title figure in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera : YEOMAN
23
Quick move? : RELO
24
Word with fan or form : LETTER
25
Come right up to : ACCOST
26
One who always has time to spend? : SHOPAHOLIC
27
2007 satirical best seller : IAMAMERICA
28
Tops in athletics : POLOS
30
Professional feeders : FARMTEAMS
34
Constantly updating GPS figs. : ETAS
35
Widely followed court battles : NBAGAMES
38
You might experiment with this on : LABCOAT
41
Bingeing : ONAJAG
43
Ends : DEATHS
44
Crack, in a way : DECODE
46
Like some very important signs : VITAL
49
Carny's target : RUBE
50
Plant also known as ladies' fingers : OKRA
51
Grant consideration : NEED
52
E.T.S. offerings : GRES
53
Middle of summer? : EMS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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