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New York Times, Friday, March 27, 2015

Author:
David Kwong
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
194/1/20062/17/20195
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3234421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59332
David Kwong

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 62, Blocks: 40 Missing: {FJQVXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Kwong. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Kwong notes:
This puzzle is a nod to cruciverbalists who have been thwarted by the ugly five-block monstrosity known as the 'Utah.' Who hasn't ... read more

This puzzle is a nod to cruciverbalists who have been thwarted by the ugly five-block monstrosity known as the "Utah." Who hasn't scrapped a puzzle or had one rejected because it contained too many of these? So I decided to face the problem head on. Enjoy! And go Aggies!

Jeff Chen notes:
Very cool mini-themed themeless! Not only does David only use Utah-shaped blocks of black squares, but he incorporates three ... read more

Very cool mini-themed themeless! Not only does David only use Utah-shaped blocks of black squares, but he incorporates three Utah-related phrases, TABERNACLE CHOIR, UTAH STATE, and LATTER DAY SAINTS. All lively entries.

Recognize that shape?

I liked the mini-theme so much that I think it would have made more sense to run this on a Thursday. I had a great a-ha moment when I figured out why David used such chunky black square blocks. Perhaps the theme density isn't high enough to run it as a themed puzzle, but I think the visual's extra oomph puts it over the edge. Thursday puzzles are so difficult to innovate, and for me, this concept fell right into that sweet spot where I'm treated to a stroke of creativity.

I would have loved just a little more flow, more connectivity throughout the puzzle. Not sure if it's even possible to shift the Utah blocks around Tetris-style while still keeping the three themers, but I ended up getting stuck in the NW corner. If only some entries could have squeaked through where the adjacent Utah blocks are touching! Much harder to fill the puzzle that way, though.

We're getting ready to launch scored word lists (coming soon!), and many entries here are easy to evaluate. ITES and ISS are fairly clear; they ought to be avoided whenever possible. DEME is in a grayer zone. And surprisingly, HOI is too. The difficulty with HOI: how else do you clue it besides [___ polloi]? It's tough to assign hard numbers, but we're hoping that our simple system will help a lot of constructors in taking their first cut.

Great idea; beautiful use of the crossword grid as an artistic canvas.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0327 ( 23,880 )

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Across
1
Sandwich introduced in 1968 : BIGMAC
7
The 21st Amendment and such : REPEALS
14
___ Berlinguer, longtime Italian Communist leader : ENRICO
15
Becomes forthcoming : OPENSUP
16
Quite ill, in Lille : ALAMORT
18
Brings : LEADSTO
19
Temple Square group founded in 1847 : TABERNACLECHOIR
21
Francisco and California, in San Francisco: Abbr. : STS
22
Mount of Moses : NEBO
23
Mount : HORSE
24
Battle stat : MIA
25
___ Biao, Mao Zedong confederate : LIN
26
Taps on the links : PUTTS
27
Otorhinolaryngology, familiarly : ENT
28
Followers: Suffix : ITES
30
One New Yorker, e.g.: Abbr. : ISS
31
University suggested by this puzzle's black squares : UTAHSTATE
34
"This ___ stickup!" : ISA
35
Where some people go through withdrawals? : ATMS
36
Theater reproof : SHH
39
Shocks, in a way : TASES
41
Hemispheric grp. : OAS
42
___ polloi : HOI
43
Things you might enjoy with your best buds? : IPODS
44
Bad : GRIM
46
Subject for a toxicologist : ASP
47
Young followers : LATTERDAYSAINTS
51
Police reporter? : STOOLIE
52
Do poorly : STINKAT
53
Ray gun ray : IONBEAM
54
Lock up : ENCAGE
55
Entice with music : TWEEDLE
56
More close : DEARER
Down
1
"I dunno" : BEATSME
2
Like traditional Masses : INLATIN
3
Tries to paw : GRABSAT
4
Some performance art : MIME
5
Symbol of potential strength : ACORN
6
First wife of Julius Caesar : CORNELIA
7
Sushi selection : ROLL
8
One guarded at the Olympics : EPEE
9
Part not used when making a cobbler : PEACHPIT
10
Agatha Christie's "Peril at ___" : ENDHOUSE
11
Classifies : ASSORTS
12
Minstrel, often : LUTIST
13
Future ferns : SPORES
17
"Bewitched" spinoff : TABITHA
20
Prairie transport : CONESTOGA
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Title religious school in a classic Crosby/Bergman film : STMARYS
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Was : USEDTOBE
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Having some strings attached? : TASSELED
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Kind of living : ASSISTED
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One of a group of atoms having the same number of neutrons but a different number of protons : ISOTONE
36
Big name in Indian music : SHANKAR
37
One way to be held : HOSTAGE
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Daddy-o : HIPSTER
39
Cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk : TILSIT
40
Judd who directed "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" : APATOW
45
Big source of blueberries : MAINE
48
Balboa : Panama :: ___ : Iran : RIAL
49
Greek township : DEME
50
___ Empire : INCA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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