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New York Times, Thursday, April 25, 2019

Author:
Jon Olsen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
24/25/20198/6/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.76100
Jon Olsen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {GQZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Olsen. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jon Olsen notes:
It's a great honor to make my New York Times crossword debut with a puzzle I had so much fun putting together! I'm a veterinarian who ... read more

It's a great honor to make my New York Times crossword debut with a puzzle I had so much fun putting together! I'm a veterinarian who has been addicted to crossword puzzles for 30 years, since picking up my first issue of GAMES magazine when I was 7. After getting some puzzles published in GAMES in college, I wanted to make a more serious effort to get my work into the New York Times. All of my early rejections thankfully came with some helpful feedback. Thanks to Will for giving this puzzle a thumbs up, to Dave, Lily, and Mom for test solving, and especially to Nancy Salomon for some excellent mentorship during the constructing process!

I decided it would be a novel idea to build a puzzle around an emoticon — I toyed with a few different ideas for working in a smiley face, such as fitting it into a single square rebus-fashion or placing it into a few themed entries to replace the word HAPPY. In the end, I decided to place it dead center, and use the other theme entries to hint at the gimmick. It worked out nicely that EYES, NOSE, and MOUTH dovetailed into some decent Down rebus entries, and the fact that COLONHYPHEN / PARENTHESIS worked as symmetrical descriptors sealed the deal.

A few of my original clues may have been too iffy for a Thursday, or for the difficulty of their crossings ("Rocky landing?" for PLYMOUTH; "Change for good?" for TIP JAR), and were changed accordingly, so I'll have to keep that in mind going forward.

Hope this was a fun solve, and I look forward to rolling out some more puzzles in the near future!

Jeff Chen notes:
Many moons ago, I submitted an EMOTICON puzzle to Will, using a double O rebus for EYES, an I for a NOSE, and a U for a MOUTH (the ... read more

Many moons ago, I submitted an EMOTICON puzzle to Will, using a double O rebus for EYES, an I for a NOSE, and a U for a MOUTH (the three squares on top of each other). It sort of looked like a HAPPY FACE if you cocked your head and squinted. And if I paid you ten dollars. Needless to say, Will politely rejected it.

OO

I

U

Yeah, that doesn't work.

Even having spent umpteen-fifty hours doing that, AND today receiving what seemed like hit-me-over-the-head hints in COLON HYPHEN and PARENTHESIS, I still got stuck like a duck in the center. The timer ticked away as I sweated, wondering why DOT DOT or COLON wasn't fitting at the start of 39-Across.

Delightful a-ha when I realized it was EYES! Clever double-interpretation, using COLON in one place and an EYES rebus in another.

Good gridwork, especially for a debut. I wasn't keen on A HAND NOICE (I think that's what Jake Peralta says on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," stretching out the word "nice"?) or SSR, but that's not much for a grid with so many things going on.

(NO ICE makes more sense of course, as a different meaning of ["Neat"]. But I do love me some Jake Peralta.)

HORST was also a baffler, but I could more easily excuse that in the service of the center, a strong triplet in EYESORE / PIANO SEATS / PLYMOUTH.

There was even a little VIP ROOM and TIP JAR to spice things up.

I'm suffering from a touch of rebus fatigue, having seen so many of them, but I appreciate when a rebus does something fresh. For that great lightbulb moment when I finally broke open the center of the puzzle, I'm giving out something rare today: a POW! on a debut. Well done, Jon!

1
B
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A
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H
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L
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P
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O
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C
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H
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V
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E
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K
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P
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D
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O
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A
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M
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I
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C
O
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EYES
NOSE
MOUTH
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S
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U
M
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C
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D
R
E
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W
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H
O
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E
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J
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F
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A
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P
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P
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H
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O
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A
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N
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M
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S
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R
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0425 ( 25,370 )
Across
1
Cry of disgust : BAH
4
One cleansed by Jesus : LEPER
9
Outlet, for one : STORE
14
Food fig. : RDA
15
President with the same first and last name as his father : OBAMA
16
Amount to give : TITHE
17
Power increaser : AMP
18
First two symbols in a 3-Down : COLONHYPHEN
20
Place to find a cluster of stars? : VIPROOM
22
Joe Namath and Vinny Testaverde, notably : EXJETS
23
"Watermark" singer, 1988 : ENYA
24
___ Alpha Theta, first Greek-letter sorority in the U.S. : KAPPA
27
Affected : ARTY
28
Co. with an image of Mercury in its logo : FTD
30
Argentina was named after it : SILVER
32
Live : ONAIR
34
Assents at sea : AYES
35
Onetime competitor of RCA and Columbia : EMI
38
Shade of brown : COCOA
39
Elements of a 3-Down : :-)
40
Poison ___ : SUMAC
42
Rhyming "Dr." : DRE
43
"Hold your horses!" : WHOA
45
Research institution in Atlanta : EMORY
46
Shows derision, in a way : SNORTS
48
Expo, today : NAT
49
Dovetail (with) : JIBE
52
Myrrh, for one : RESIN
54
Rub the wrong way : MIFF
57
Treasures : ADORES
59
In the news : TOPICAL
61
Final symbol in a 3-Down : PARENTHESIS
64
Palindromic brand in the kitchen : OXO
65
Something to lend : AHAND
66
Longtime Susan Lucci role on "All My Children" : ERICA
67
Con opener? : NEO
68
What the mnemonic "Every good boy does fine" represents : NOTES
69
"Olympia" painter : MANET
70
Georgia, once: Abbr. : SSR
Down
1
End of every verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" : BRAVE
2
Online moderator, for short : ADMIN
3
Response to solving this puzzle : HAPPYFACE
4
Bananas : LOCO
5
Offering on Amazon : EBOOK
6
Capital of the Canary Islands, after "Las" : PALMAS
7
Indie rock genre : EMO
8
Commanded : RAN
9
Home to a mythical ferry : STYX
10
Item sometimes next to a cash register : TIPJAR
11
Survey option : OTHER
12
Butler of renown : RHETT
13
Minuscule, informally : EENSY
19
It's more than a fling : HEAVE
21
Pi or phi, in math : RATIO
25
Perches for some musicians : PIANOSEATS
26
___ Rock : PLYMOUTH
29
Like curtains and cartoons : DRAWN
31
Center of the Krupp family dynasty : ESSEN
32
Condition with tics, for short : OCD
33
Winter Olympics powerhouse: Abbr. : NOR
35
Images such as 3-Down : EMOTICONS
36
Sully : MAR
37
Unfriendly : ICY
39
Blot on a landscape : EYESORE
41
Rich, savory flavor : UMAMI
44
Raised block of the earth's crust, to a geologist : HORST
46
Unruffled : SERENE
47
Doesn't officially enroll : SITSIN
49
Country with the second greatest number of McDonald's restaurants after the U.S. [2,900+] : JAPAN
50
Home of the Sawtooth National Forest : IDAHO
51
Character who popularized the "mankini" : BORAT
53
"Neat" : NOICE
55
Some document transmissions : FAXES
56
One of 163 in the Burj Khalifa : FLOOR
58
Extremities : ENDS
60
Princeton Review subj. : PSAT
62
Bottom line? : HEM
63
Alternative to Gain : ERA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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