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New York Times, Thursday, May 10, 2018

Author: Caitlin Reid
Editor: Will Shortz
Caitlin Reid
TotalDebutCollabs
15/10/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51000

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 33 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Reid. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Caitlin Reid notes: Hello fellow crossword enthusiasts! It'd be an understatement to say I'm positively thrilled about making my debut in the New York ... more
Caitlin Reid notes:

Hello fellow crossword enthusiasts! It'd be an understatement to say I'm positively thrilled about making my debut in the New York Times (or anywhere for that matter!). A life-long lover of solving crosswords, I decided last year to try my hand at making them in any spare time I could muster as a stay-at-home mom of four young children. What began as a personal challenge has become a full-blown passion, and I don't think I'll tire of this any time soon.

As a solver, I especially love the extra gimmicks in the Thursday puzzles, and I was inspired to try something fun with the black blocks (although in this case it was only one!). DEAD CENTER popped into my head, and after making sure the idea hadn't already been done, I was off. And, as a side note, this avid Beatles fan was tickled to include LENNON in the puzzle.

Of course, many thanks to Will and the NYT editing team for their patience with me as I learn the ropes, and especially Sam Ezersky who helped me to really make the fill shine. I hope you enjoy the solve as much as I enjoyed the construction!

Jeff Chen notes: Great debut! Interesting and twisty theme, perfect for a Thursday, where I want all my hard solving work to have a big payoff. DEAD ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great debut! Interesting and twisty theme, perfect for a Thursday, where I want all my hard solving work to have a big payoff. DEAD CENTER hints at the word DEAD being in the black square at the center of the puzzle, completing LEFT FOR (DEAD), (DEAD) OR ALIVE, (DEAD)BEAT DAD, KNOCK EM (DEAD). Four snazzy theme phrases!

At first, I didn't notice that ON THE MONEY was also thematic, a synonym for hitting DEAD CENTER. It's not easy to symmetrically interlock LEFT FOR / ON THE MONEY and BEAT DAD / DEAD CENTER. It's rare that the crossword gods smile upon constructors so fortuitously.

It's especially rare, considering how few (DEAD) phrases Caitlin had to choose from. Sure, there are a lot of phrases involving the word DEAD, but how many are exactly 7 + 4 = 11 letters long, with DEAD at the very start or beginning?

I so badly wanted the single DEAD black square to be by itself, not touching any others. It would have been awesome if the other black squares around the middle had formed a quasi-bullseye shape, or been arranged like a shotgun spray. It would have been possible – I was interested enough to lay out a quick grid skeleton – but it would have been much harder to fill well.

Speaking of filling well, REAL SOON / AFRAID SO! LENNON / AA TEAM / MR HYDE! Even TIMBRE and DOODLE helped out. Not as big on SERVED OUT, pretty dull, but FURY ROAD was a NICE IDEA for a movie (and very entertaining!). Not sure FURY ROAD will remain crossworthy 10 years into the future, but it's spicy right now.

Nice job on the short fill, too. I counted a bit of ENS INME and the tough-if-you-don't-know-it AFTRA, but that's solid work, especially considering that the themers interlocked to form an inflexible skeleton.

Well done! Very much looking forward to more from Caitlin.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0510 ( 25,020 )
Across Down
1. Very sore : IRATE
6. Monday feeling, with "the" : BLAHS
11. Take flight? : LAM
14. Overhaul : REFIT
15. Unsettling, in a way : EERIE
16. Something found near a temple : EAR
17. Kismet : KARMA
18. SAG partner : AFTRA
19. Kind of degree : NTH
20. Big piece of a sheet cake : SLAB
21. Well-aimed : ONTHEMONEY
23. Street clearer : SIREN
25. 2015 "Mad Max" reboot, familiarly : FURYROAD
26. Debate figure : MODERATOR
28. "You've Got a Friend ___" (song from "Toy Story") : INME
29. Part of L.A.P.D. : LOS
30. Skyscraper support : IBAR
31. Football kickoff aid : TEE
33. "Break a leg!" : KNOCKEMDEAD
35. In any condition, as an outlaw : DEADORALIVE
39. Snitch : RAT
40. Honey bunches? : BEES
41. Spread (out) : FAN
42. Gaelic language : ERSE
45. Finished, as a term of office : SERVEDOUT
47. "You're clever!" : NICEIDEA
50. Baseball's Lefty : ODOUL
51. Bull's-eye ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme : DEADCENTER
53. Being broadcast : ONTV
55. Spectrum or Xfinity, briefly : ISP
56. Dwelling : ABODE
57. Guitarist Van Halen : EDDIE
58. Fork in the road, basically : VEE
59. Diego Rivera's specialty : MURAL
60. Twinkle : GLINT
61. Half of none? : ENS
62. Bygone equivalent of "OMG!" : EGADS
63. Beginning, informally : GETGO
1. Peeves : IRKS
2. Not too far from now : REALSOON
3. "Yes, unfortunately" : AFRAIDSO
4. Sound quality : TIMBRE
5. Gate info : ETA
6. Noggin : BEAN
7. Abandoned while there still might have been hope : LEFTFORDEAD
8. PBS Kids' cartoon aardvark : ARTHUR
9. Personnel director, at times : HIRER
10. Sordid : SEAMY
11. One of the Fab Four : LENNON
12. Jackson Generals or Portland Sea Dogs : AATEAM
13. One half of a "strange case" : MRHYDE
21. How money may be lost : ONABET
22. Bay window : ORIEL
24. "Parenthood" actress Christensen : ERIKA
26. Jan. honoree : MLK
27. Laddie topper : TAM
31. "The Daily Show" host after Jon : TREVOR
32. Soothed : EASED
34. Rifleman's ___ (part of Marine training) : CREED
35. "The Strife Is ___, the Battle Done" (old hymn) : OER
36. "Eureka!" : IFOUNDIT
37. Springing over : VAULTING
38. Tolkien creature : ENT
40. Certain absentee parent : DEADBEATDAD
42. Salad vegetable : ENDIVE
43. German chocolate brand : RIESEN
44. Views from sea or land : SCAPES
45. Half of a Spanish union : SENORA
46. Output during a boring meeting, say : DOODLE
48. Start of an old boast : ICAME
49. Put through beta testing : DEBUG
52. Certain reef dwellers : EELS
54. Reject : VETO
57. It may be beaten and eaten : EGG

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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