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New York Times, Friday, April 22, 2016

Author:
Robyn Weintraub
Editor:
Will Shortz
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193/28/201111/30/20180
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1.58000
Robyn Weintraub

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 8 for Ms. Weintraub. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robyn Weintraub notes:
I'm very excited to have my first published Friday puzzle. After banging my head against various hard surfaces over the years while ... read more

I'm very excited to have my first published Friday puzzle. After banging my head against various hard surfaces over the years while trying to come up with clever themes, I finally decided to focus on themeless puzzles. I think end-of-the-week is where you'll find me hanging out in the future.

This being my first themeless though, I'm not that surprised that my clues got a major overhaul from Mr. Shortz. I think my favorite clue that did make the cut (and one that I thought was a goner for sure) was "Fox coverage that may be controversial" for FUR. I also contributed Norwegian Ridgeback (though not the Chinese Fireball) from Harry Potter for DRAGON. I was a huge "thirtysomething" fan, so that's why my OLIN is for Ken, and not Lena. And my love for Dr. Seuss knows no bounds, so I'm glad to have introduced GREEN EGGS to the puzzleverse.

Jeff Chen notes:
There is so much to love about this puzzle. This stuck-in-fourth-grade-man-child loves the SMARTY PANTS / MADE YOU LOOK combination (I ... read more

There is so much to love about this puzzle. This stuck-in-fourth-grade-man-child loves the SMARTY PANTS / MADE YOU LOOK combination (I pulled that gag on my nephew the other day), and ORDER ONLINE makes for a beautiful third element in the starting triple-stack.

There was actually an "Order of the Dragon" created to defend Europe against the Turks in the 15th century. Cool!

70-word puzzles often have a limited number of long slots to begin with, but Robin pushes to squeeze in 14. That's important to me, as I've found that I need at least 10 strong entries in order for a themeless to really sing to me. There are a few neutral ones like EDGINESS and RADIATORS, but check out all the goodness in IVY LEAGUE, GREEN EGGS, LIVE A LITTLE! And this data junkie loves seeing a SPREADSHEET.

Also nice was that Robyn took advantage of her mid-length slots, often tough to convert to assets. NAIL GUN with its [Sharp shooter?] clue is great, and ZYDECO is such a cool word. And really, Robyn had me at DRAGON, giving us a taste of Harry Potter's beautifully crafted world filled with Chinese Fireballs, Norwegian Ridgebacks, Hungarian Horntails, Peruvian Vipertooths, Ukrainian Ironbellies okay okay I'll stop!

It's not a perfect puzzle, as there are a handful of gluey bits marring it. That's very common with triple-stacked 11s, entries like YOO and TYRE making that fine upper left corner possible. And we constructors all have our bugaboos, one of mine being five-letter partials wasting a slot that could be something as cool as MR YUK. So it's hard for me to give A REST a rest.

Overall though, so much to love here. I got a ton of enjoyment out of this one. A well-deserved POW!

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0422 ( 24,272 )
Across
1. Too-clever-by-half type : SMARTYPANTS
12. Important school fig. : GPA
15. Taunt to a head-turner : MADEYOULOOK
16. Head-butter : RAM
17. Make an Amazon visit, say : ORDERONLINE
18. Thoughtful gift? : ESP
19. Lady, for one : TITLE
20. What a pacer may be experiencing : EDGINESS
22. Project Mercury primate : ENOS
23. Still red, say : RARE
25. Flier not found in 49 states : NENE
26. Conform to the party line? : CONGA
27. Salon job, for short : PEDI
29. Hallmark occasion : BIRTHDAY
33. Chinese Fireball or Norwegian Ridgeback, in Harry Potter : DRAGON
35. Reproductive couple : OVARIES
36. Sharp shooter? : NAILGUN
37. Music style featuring accordions : ZYDECO
38. They play by themselves : SOLOISTS
39. Co-star of TV's "thirtysomething" : OLIN
40. Trickery : WILES
41. A unit : EACH
43. Years abroad : ANOS
44. Moose predator : PUMA
48. Broad in tastes : CATHOLIC
50. Like silt vis-à-vis sand : FINER
51. Years ___ : AGO
52. "Have some fun!" : LIVEALITTLE
55. Fox coverage that may be controversial? : FUR
56. What shoulders are often used for : EMERGENCIES
57. Some M.I.T. deg. holders : EES
58. It has many cells : SPREADSHEET
Down
1. Hit, old-style : SMOTE
2. Sausalito's county : MARIN
3. Increase : ADDTO
4. Casting needs : REELS
5. Roller on a carriageway : TYRE
6. ___-hoo : YOO
7. Many a Weird Al Yankovic title : PUN
8. Cause of a rash response? : ALLERGY
9. "Got me" : NOIDEA
10. Pick up, as ice cubes : TONG
11. Crocheter's purchase : SKEIN
12. Title food in children's literature : GREENEGGS
13. Crashed : PASSEDOUT
14. Tour gear : AMPS
21. Relative of Sinhalese : NEPALI
23. Event with goat tying : RODEO
24. Santa ___ (weather phenomena) : ANAS
26. Tony : CHIC
28. Holiday spots? : INNS
29. Doofus : BOZO
30. Lions, Tigers and Bears play in it : IVYLEAGUE
31. Cold remedies? : RADIATORS
32. Depression shared by soldiers : TRENCH
33. Hills' counterparts : DALES
34. Amazonas and Nilo : RIOS
36. Certain plea, for short : NOLO
38. Not faking it : SINCERE
40. Legal release : WAIVER
42. Bad things to find in theories : HOLES
44. Singer's concern : PITCH
45. Let loose : UNTIE
46. Row with many people : MELEE
47. "Give it ___!" : AREST
48. Monk's on "Seinfeld," e.g. : CAFE
49. Definitely not step lively : LIMP
50. Bass parts : FINS
53. Turkish chief : AGA
54. Set the pace : LED

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?