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New York Times, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Author: Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
287/28/20129/20/20189
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
211324105
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71200
Sam Ezersky
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
866/16/20119/29/201816
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681128192
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Ezersky. This is puzzle # 61 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: SAM: My first of many collaborations with David! We talk a bunch outside of crossword meetups--we're on the same wavelength solving ... more
Constructor notes:

SAM: My first of many collaborations with David! We talk a bunch outside of crossword meetups--we're on the same wavelength solving each other's puzzles--so it was only in due time that we'd take up themeless construction together.

It's so interesting to see different strategies constructors follow for filling an open grid; in my case, I usually stack/interlock 2-3 seed answers and build the black squares around them as I go. David, on the other hand, created a rough skeleton for the entire grid after slotting LIFE OF PABLO (our seed) at 1A. He designed the top half of the grid, including the aforementioned black square layout, and I pieced together the bottom beginning with NOBODY CARES as a fresh and constructor-friendly entry.

I fought for MAJORDOMO / BIZARRO / ?????JOB (now JACKED UP) to avoid the proper noun buildup near the southwest, but nothing would budge. Still overall pleased with how this turned out, especially with my clues for ROE V WADE and ABOUT ME staying intact, among others.

For those of you competing at the ACPT with me, I hope this puzzle serves as a nice morning warmup—good luck to all! Thanks to David for showing me some masterful techniques, and to Will and Joel, with whom I'm excited to work alongside after graduating from UVA in May!

DAVID: Always a pleasure to work with Sam! Collaborating is often a tricky process because constructors have such different styles, but with Sam, things work smoothly since we have the same tastes in fill, clues, etc. In fact, Sam was the one who suggested building a puzzle around LIFE OF PABLO in the first place, and I was quick to jump on the idea!

I'll be back in Pleasantville this summer working with Will and Joel for the few weeks before Sam takes over full-time. I'm so excited for him!!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy our puzzle, and I look forward to seeing many of you at the ACPT!

Jeff Chen notes: 11-letter entries can be tough to triple-stack cleanly, so HORROR MOVIE / AMERICAN ELM / NOBODY CARES with only a minor EMS to hold ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

11-letter entries can be tough to triple-stack cleanly, so HORROR MOVIE / AMERICAN ELM / NOBODY CARES with only a minor EMS to hold everything together = I sat back in admiration. Difficult task, strong execution.

Not having heard (or even heard of) "The LIFE OF PABLO" made this a tough solve for me. But I'm sure people with better music sensibilities will be elated by this marquee entry (maybe also by "We DEM Boyz" by Wiz Khalifa, too). Took me every letter to piece it together, and it didn't have much impact when I solved it. Maybe I'll listen and see what all the fuss is about.

Thankfully, I grew up with NOMOmania, HIDEO NOMO with that ridiculously awesome long windup. And although I don't watch "Entourage," I do know ARI GOLD from crosswords — ARI gets clued as [Agent Gold of "Entourage"] fairly frequently.

If you don't know all these featured folks, though, I think it'd be tough for the puzzle to resonate. Thankfully, it felt like all the crosses were fair.

Love, love, love BATTERY ACID as an entry, and its clue. Diner lingo fascinates me, and I had no idea there was offshoot lingo specifically for the military. (Off to an internet rabbit hole …)

Along with other great entries like ROE V WADE (although I wonder if that'll spark bad feelings in some), LAID AN EGG, ABOUT ME (for a bio), there was one innocent little clue that I thought stood out: [Joey of children's literature]. I've read over 800 middle grade and young adult books in the past few years, so I knew Joey Pigza right off the top. Except that the clue was referring to a baby kangaroo — specifically, the one from "Winnie the Pooh." Delightful!

I struggled with PESACH, a word I don't remember seeing before, but it being the Hebrew word for Passover, it seems fine. It's funny, though, how much one "odd" word can affect one's perception of a solving experience.

Strong grid execution, with little crossword glue necessary. I think this one might play well with a younger generation.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0325 ( 24,609 )
Across Down
1. 2016 #1 Kanye West album, with "The" : LIFEOFPABLO
12. Rave's opposite : PAN
15. Treat on a stick : ICECREAMBAR
16. Time of one's life, maybe : ERA
17. Coffee, in military slang : BATTERYACID
18. Container whose letters appear in "container" : TIN
19. Abbr. for a two-striper : NCO
20. False modesty, e.g. : ACT
21. Torrent : DELUGE
23. Gray matter : ASH
24. "Get a ___!" : CLUE
25. Cry of denial : ARENOT
26. Running slowly : SEEPY
28. Move : TURN
30. Finished elegantly : GILT
31. Seder celebration : PESACH
33. Classic case of making life choices? : ROEVWADE
35. Rate of speed : CLIP
37. Have a bad view? : OGLE
38. Raised sharply : JACKEDUP
42. Diving athlete : GOALIE
46. Company investing in self-driving cars : UBER
47. Literary waiter : ENID
49. Aid package component : GRANT
50. Locale in two James Bond films : MONACO
52. British ends : ZEDS
54. ___ big : YEA
55. Freebie at a rally : BUTTON
56. Director DuVernay : AVA
57. Text ___ : BOX
58. Printer setting: Abbr. : LTR
59. "Frankenstein," e.g. : HORRORMOVIE
63. Exotic jerky meat : EMU
64. Species of the Liberty Tree : AMERICANELM
65. Wiz Khalifa's "We ___ Boyz" : DEM
66. "Just stop talking already" : NOBODYCARES
1. Justin Trudeau's party: Abbr. : LIB
2. "Got it" : ICANSEE
3. Gets : FETCHES
4. Prefix with -derm : ECTO
5. Extractions are made from it : ORE
6. Unbroken : FERAL
7. Bad job news : PAYCUT
8. ___ hour : AMATEUR
9. Media inits. since 1922 : BBC
10. Failed ignominiously : LAIDANEGG
11. Group of families : ORDER
12. Tobacco flower relative : PETUNIA
13. Movie agent on "Entourage" : ARIGOLD
14. Broadway title character who runs off to Atlantic City : NANETTE
22. Hose and such : LEGWEAR
23. It may raise its hood : ASP
24. Washer/dryer unit? : CYCLE
27. Hoarder : PACKRAT
29. Joey of children's literature : ROO
32. Pitcher who was the 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year : HIDEONOMO
34. Some YouTube uploads : VLOGS
36. "Horse voice," e.g. : PUN
38. Mixed up : JUMBLED
39. Introduction to bio? : ABOUTME
40. Supplement brand : CENTRUM
41. Conqueror of Cuzco : PIZARRO
43. Part of many international flights : LAYOVER
44. Banished : INEXILE
45. Supposed end of a flight, for short : ETA
48. Missing, with "of" : DEVOID
51. Subject of the 1942 film musical "Yankee Doodle Dandy" : COHAN
53. Proud "Pride and Prejudice" character : DARCY
57. ___ fide : BONA
60. Fort Sumter victor, informally : REB
61. Bub : MAC
62. What moms have that dads don't? : EMS

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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