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New York Times, Saturday, March 24, 2018

Author:
Byron Walden
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9211/23/200111/18/201814
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1101192617
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1.59321
Byron Walden

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 24 Missing: {FJQWXZ} Average word length: 6.28 This is puzzle # 88 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes:
For three or so years, I've been the second most published Saturday constructor in the Times. With great fanfare, I can now say I have ... read more

For three or so years, I've been the second most published Saturday constructor in the Times. With great fanfare, I can now say I have one half — that's a big 50% — as many Saturdays as the all-time king and all-time great Rich Norris. And it was possible to get halfway there only because he's taken a ten-year breather. Maybe it's like competing with Milton Berle — if I ever get close, he can just crank out a few more Saturdays for us. (Oh, that reminds me, in case there's any confusion, the second half of 6-Down is just the proper name, not an epithet.)

This puzzle started with CHINA SHOP. My clue was [Bull market?], so this is probably the first time the edited clue was the exact opposite of mine. I get the change, in that the norm is that the bull wouldn't be there. But norms that proscribe wanton wreckage are not quite in vogue these days, so my version might be a bit more zeitgeisty.

Jeff Chen notes:
Big ol' white spaces, a Byron Walden special! He and Mark Diehl are two of the few constructors that regularly delve into this ... read more

Big ol' white spaces, a Byron Walden special! He and Mark Diehl are two of the few constructors that regularly delve into this territory, using few or no extra black ("cheater") squares. I always look forward to their work – with a healthy dose of fear, wondering if I'll be able to complete the puzzle.

With Byron's low-word-count themelesses, I often find myself playing a role akin to the line judge in tennis:

  • CHINA SHOP, cleverly hinted at by "bull market" – IN!
  • NOSE SPRAY. "Nasal spray," more commonly, yeah? It does seem to be a real term though ... ON THE LINE!
  • MOTTLERS – OUT! A roll-your-own -ERS addition. Well, wait. Let's go to replay. Apparently, a MOTTLER is a real type of paintbrush? Seems to only show up on art websites, but it does appear to be legit. Ruling overturned. IN!
  • The LOVE BOAT, IN! I can't believe my parents let me watch this when I was seven.
  • CLEVER DICK … in? I mean, IN! Authoritatively! (running to Wikipedia) Yes, IN! This is a real term. (Apparently.)
  • GOPER – OUT! Took me forever to parse this as GOP'er. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. This entry hit someone in the stands in the face, right in the EMPTY EYES.
  • EMPTY EYES … in? Out? Let's look the other way.
  • LESSEPS? MEAN GENE? This line judge likes explorers and LOVES – I mean LOVED, ahem – pro wrestling. Unfamiliar. But definitely IN!
  • YES INDEEDY, that's an ACE! My favorite entry of the puzzle.

Line judge ended the match mostly happy.

I appreciate how much care Byron takes to avoid short crossword glue. With low word-count puzzles though, there are almost always compromises, and some of his longer material suffered. Still, mostly a winner, if after a lot of back and forth.

1
A
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0324 ( 24,973 )
Across
1. Text ___ : ALERT
6. No bull market? : CHINASHOP
15. Mr. or Mrs. Right? : GOPER
16. Like some sodas : LEMONLIME
17. "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" musical : EVITA
18. Little Orphan Annie feature : EMPTYEYES
19. Concern of "three strikes" laws : RECIDIVISM
21. Hollow : DALE
22. Home to Dyess Air Force base : ABILENE
23. Avian epithet for Napoleon II, with "the" : EAGLET
25. Certain flu vaccine medium : NOSESPRAY
28. Echo preceder : DELTA
29. Mob pieces : GATS
30. Cleaves : ADHERES
32. And many times in France? : ETS
33. Has a fit, maybe? : TRIESON
34. Queen ___ : MUM
37. Class for an English major, familiarly : LITCRIT
38. Home of Triple-A baseball's Aces : RENO
39. Only poisonous snake in Britain : ADDER
42. Coffee-growing region of Hawaii : KONACOAST
44. Ones hanging around a haunted house? : NOOSES
46. Street sweep? : DRAGNET
47. Golden rice and others, in brief : GMOS
48. Sitcom mother portrayer of 1987-97 and (on a different show) 2002-05 : KATEYSAGAL
51. Hides who one is : LIVESALIE
53. Ocho preceder : SIETE
54. Achieved green efficiency? : ONEPUTTED
55. Like some monologues : INNER
56. FedEx Office competitor : SIRSPEEDY
57. Places in brackets : SEEDS
Down
1. Toy package info : AGERANGE
2. Old TV show set on the Pacific Princess, with "The" : LOVEBOAT
3. Homer and others : EPICISTS
4. Fixes, as a shower stall : RETILES
5. Masonry and others : TRADES
6. Know-it-all, in Britspeak : CLEVERDICK
7. Powerful car engine : HEMI
8. Sorts frequently given detention : IMPS
9. Terse denial : NOTME
10. "___ regrets?" : ANY
11. Haulers on runners : SLEDGES
12. Mobile greeting : HIYALL
13. To fix this you need to get cracking! : OMELET
14. Coin whose name means "small weight" : PESETA
20. To some extent : INPART
24. City where, according to legend, Cain and Abel are buried : ADEN
26. "Don't be ___" (words of caution) : AHERO
27. "Darn tootin'" : YESINDEEDY
31. Pre-cell? : ROTARY
33. Begin to give out : TIRE
34. Rhyming nickname for wrestling Hall-of-Famer Okerlund : MEANGENE
35. Booted out : UNSEATED
36. Paintbrushes for applying spots and blotches : MOTTLERS
37. Ferdinand de ___, developer of the Suez Canal : LESSEPS
38. "Use it or lose it" sloganeer : ROGAINE
39. Whites : ANGLOS
40. D, on a cornerstone : DOMINI
41. Mulligan : DOOVER
43. Black currant liqueur : CASSIS
45. Relative of a stingray : SKATE
49. ___ Oper (historic concert hall in Frankfurt, Germany) : ALTE
50. Even : TIED
52. "How's it hangin'?" : SUP

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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