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New York Times, Thursday, May 10, 2018

Author:
Caitlin Reid
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
25/10/20189/17/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56000
Caitlin Reid

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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 )

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Across
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
Down
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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