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New York Times, Friday, April 21, 2017

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3711/8/20045/14/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
14608810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65320
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQVWX} This is puzzle # 23 for Mr. Gulczynski. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:
This is one of the first themeless puzzles I ever constructed. My first version was rejected, and I set it aside for a while, and then ... read more

This is one of the first themeless puzzles I ever constructed. My first version was rejected, and I set it aside for a while, and then after this version was accepted, it sat in the queue for a while longer, getting jumped by a few of my other themeless puzzles.

Looking over it with fresh eyes, I like it. The Texas region makes me cringe a bit – ANNEE crossing RONA and LINTEL is less than stellar – but I'm quite satisfied with the rest of it. My favorite answers are GRAMMAR NAZI and GO-GO BOOTS (not coincidentally my seed entries). To my knowledge, neither has ever before appeared in a crossword puzzle, and I think the clue for the former ("Type for who this clue will be annoying?") is pretty clever. I really like my submitted clue for the latter too, which was basically the same as the published clue ("Iconic part of Nancy Sinatra's early attire"), but I omitted one word: Nancy. Of course, the solver will immediately think of Frank Sinatra, which is the trick.

In another bit of misdirection, I hope fellow baseball fans will appreciate the clue for TOTAL BASES ("A batter receives four for a grand slam"), once they realize RUNS BATTED IN doesn't fit.

Jeff Chen notes:
SO MANY great entries! Damon starts with 14 long slots (8+ letters), and converts most into sizzling material. Love GO-GO BOOTS, and ... read more

SO MANY great entries! Damon starts with 14 long slots (8+ letters), and converts most into sizzling material. Love GO-GO BOOTS, and in my previous career, the ACTs OF GOD clauses in legal contracts were always good for a laugh. HOT DATES, SMEAR TACTIC, SPY STORY ... everywhere I looked, great material packed in tight.

My daughter has a weird fascination with HELLO KITTY. Sigh, so much pink. Still, a great entry.

SETTLE IN and TOTAL BASES didn't do much for me (I'm plus/minus on baseball), but Damon's slugging percentage (or whatever metaphor you baseball fans like to use) in converting long slots to great entries is very high.

Excellent use of mid-length entries, too. I grew up idolizing THE FONZ, a virtual MESSIAH to me. AFROPOP too? OMIGOSH! Constructors tend to overlook the potential of these mid-length slots, but Damon does so well with them.

GRAMMAR NAZI … I chuckled at this one in the end, but I uncovered the NAZI end of it first. Never pleasant to see NAZI in a crossword. GRAMMAR NAZI sure is a colorful term, though.

There was something non-themeless feeling to this puzzle, and it took me a while to figure out what. During my solve, I felt like I stopped and started dozens of times. Took me a while to figure out that the number of three-letter words was most of the root cause.

Now, most people won't care how many three-letter words there are in a themeless. But so many shorties leads to so much starting and stopping. Typically, themelesses don't have more than 12 three-letter entries, for good reason.

And entering ERG, then DAN, RIA, TEA, OHS, across the middle … that row of shorties takes away from the themeless feel to the layout.

But overall, a fairly smooth solve (aside from what Damon mentioned plus TE AMO, ERG, and OFT) and a huge number of great entries gave me a very nice solving experience.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0421 ( 24,636 )

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Across
1
Areas where clerics are seated : APSES
6
Play's counterpart : PAUSE
11
Beldam : HAG
14
Thin layer of foam at the top of an espresso : CREMA
15
Selling point : ASSET
16
The Jazz, on sports tickers : UTA
17
Add, British-style : TOTUP
18
Business circles? : PIECHARTS
20
"Our remedies ___ in ourselves do lie": Shak. : OFT
21
Character assassination, for one : SMEARTACTIC
23
Collapse : FOLD
25
Bit of work : ERG
26
Brand that's a shortened description of its flavor : NILLA
27
"Heavens to Murgatroyd!" : GREATSCOTT
31
James, Jimmy or John : DEAN
32
"Heavens to Murgatroyd!" : OMIGOSH
33
Omegas represent them : OHMS
35
Savage of "Savage Love" : DAN
36
Cousin of a fjord : RIA
37
___ party : TEA
38
Post cereal with an apostrophe in its name : OHS
41
Familia members : TIAS
42
Genre for Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo : AFROPOP
44
Quiet (down) : PIPE
47
Toon who wears a red hair bow : HELLOKITTY
49
Zhou ___ : ENLAI
51
Mac : Scottish :: ___ : Arabic : IBN
52
They open in the morning : LIDS
53
Type for who this clue will be annoying? : GRAMMARNAZI
57
It's stretched out in yoga class : MAT
58
Iconic part of Nancy Sinatra's early attire : GOGOBOOTS
59
Kennedy colleague : ALITO
61
Café freebie : EAU
62
Year abroad : ANNEE
63
Unlikely donor : MISER
64
Pres. whose given birth name was David : DDE
65
Does business : DEALS
66
Alternative nickname for Liz : BETSY
Down
1
Hurricane or flood : ACTOFGOD
2
Perfunctory : PROFORMA
3
Get cozy : SETTLEIN
4
Producer of a deep drumming call : EMU
5
Boobs : SAPS
6
Law school, so it's said : PAPERCHASE
7
Pungent cheese : ASIAGO
8
One who might need an ID : USER
9
Broken-off branch : SECT
10
"___ Brand" (Nathaniel Hawthorne tale) : ETHAN
11
Rush : HURTLE
12
Verdi opera based on a historic invader : ATTILA
13
Stranded motorist's boon : GASCAN
19
Eating things : ACIDS
22
Promised one : MESSIAH
24
Nobelist Hammarskjöld : DAG
28
Rings : TORI
29
A batter receives four for a grand slam : TOTALBASES
30
Shark-jumping sitcom character : THEFONZ
34
Beauty ___ : MARK
38
Bull, essentially : OPTIMIST
39
Highly anticipated social events : HOTDATES
40
Work with intelligence? : SPYSTORY
41
Latin lover's words : TEAMO
43
One may be essential : OIL
44
Classified : PEGGED
45
Foray : INROAD
46
Hound : PLAGUE
48
Doorframe part : LINTEL
50
Repeated boast in a 1987 #1 hit : IMBAD
54
Super : AONE
55
Author Jaffe : RONA
56
Foot type : IAMB
60
Get down, in a way : LIE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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