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New York Times, Saturday, May 16, 2015

Author:
Byron Walden
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9511/23/200110/19/201914
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1101292637
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58321
Byron Walden

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 24 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 1 Average word length: 6.28 This is puzzle # 75 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes:
A couple of clue edits caught my eye. For 1-Down (DRUG CZAR), I had [Coke head?]. I would have gone with [Pot head?] but for 1-Across. ... read more

A couple of clue edits caught my eye. For 1-Down (DRUG CZAR), I had [Coke head?]. I would have gone with [Pot head?] but for 1-Across. As such, the clue felt a little crass to me. I love the edited version, which works the same kind of joke in a much subtler fashion. (Jeff: [Highest officer in his field, ironically]; "Highest" — get it?)

For 8-Down, I had the somewhat rococo [Teddy Roosevelt's third-party endorsement?]. It interests me that my version made the first part of the entry easier to find, where the edited version gives a big hint for getting the end of the clue. It might be an easier clue that makes the puzzle harder, since the top of the entry is one of only two ways into the NE section. Fortunately, the baseball trivia at 20-Across is well-known to many, and easily findable for anyone else who gets really stuck getting into that corner.

Jeff Chen notes:
What intimidation the amazingly wide-open grid presents! From a constructor's standpoint, I cringed at the thought of trying to fill ... read more

What intimidation the amazingly wide-open grid presents! From a constructor's standpoint, I cringed at the thought of trying to fill such wide swaths, especially the NW and SE corners.

As a solver, I found it nearly impossible to get a toehold anywhere. Byron mentioned to me at the ACPT that he avoids three-letter entries like the plague, since they've been done to death. I depend on those little guys to give me a place to start, though! This one only had six of them, so it was an extremely solve difficult. Daunting when your first pass through the clues turns up only Douglas ADAMS.

GWB's BONESMAN's nickname was "Magog." Um, no thank you.

Byron has a unique constructing style. At the ACPT, a bunch of us were joking around that some of his entries need a tennis line judge to make a determination on whether it's a real thing or not. There's a huge amount of great fill in this puzzle — RED DIAPER BABIES, BULLY FOR HIM, HINDU GOD, DRUG CZAR — all super solid and zippy.

But I cocked my head a few times, at ECONOCAR (economy car?), LIT THE TORCH (lit the fuse?), DRIP POT (drip coffee or just coffee maker?), and BONESMAN (Skull and Bones member?). As the line judge, I think I'd call the first three just slightly out. However, BONESMAN turns out to be a recognized term for a Skull and Bones member. That's a keeper, IMO.

Typically a grid as open as this will depend on gluey words and RE- / -ER crutches, so it's amazing how little Byron needs. As RE- words go, RELEARN isn't bad, and NARIS apparently is the medical term for a nostril. The PENNI was in circulation until fairly recently, so it's not that bad either.

Overall, an impressive piece of work, Byron weaving creative answers throughout the grid in order to knit the entire thing together.

1
D
2
R
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P
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O
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B
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E
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A
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M
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E
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U
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A
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A
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T
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B
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A
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G
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H
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G
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W
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A
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P
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M
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0516 ( 23,930 )

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Across
1
Coffee-brewing device : DRIPPOT
8
"I haven't the foggiest" : BEATSME
15
Parole board consideration : REMORSE
16
Like news blogs, typically : UPDATED
17
Swedish university where Anders Celsius taught : UPPSALA
18
Faulty, as a tank : LEAKING
19
Natural shelter : GROTTO
20
Hall-of-Famer with exactly 3,000 hits : CLEMENTE
21
Goddess of magic : CIRCE
22
Expert in calculating : SLY
23
Big Florida export : SUGAR
24
Sixth in a series : ZETA
25
Off the ground : ALOFT
27
Ones skewered in P. J. O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores" : POLS
28
Moves toward the middle : AVERAGESOUT
31
Children of American Communists : REDDIAPERBABIES
36
Started a movement, metaphorically : LITTHETORCH
37
Barbera d'___ (Italian wine) : ASTI
41
Hole in the head : NARIS
42
Former Jordanian queen : NOOR
43
Exactly, informally : SPANG
45
___-com : ROM
46
Bygone Finnish coin : PENNI
47
Deva, for one : HINDUGOD
49
Big name in oil : WESSON
50
Poet who won three Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album : ANGELOU
51
Tufted songbirds : TITMICE
52
Brush up on : RELEARN
53
Being tracked, in a way : ONRADAR
54
Swore : PLEDGED
55
Tail waggers? : MOONERS
Down
1
Highest officer in his field, ironically : DRUGCZAR
2
Welcome out : REPRIEVE
3
Unsuitable for locavores : IMPORTED
4
Tourist purchase : POSTCARD
5
Rattle on : PRATE
6
Setting for Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" : OSLO
7
Contents of some chests : TEA
8
"Isn't he great!" : BULLYFORHIM
9
French pioneer of sign language : EPEE
10
Douglas who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" : ADAMS
11
Adopt : TAKEUP
12
British beer with a kick : STINGO
13
Bonkers : MENTAL
14
Tools with semicircular blades : EDGERS
20
What may help you hang in there? : CLOSETROD
22
Bed-hopped : SLEPTAROUND
25
"You ___?" : AGAIN
26
Some pasta : TUBES
29
Languish : AIL
30
Forever stamp? : TAT
32
Secret society brother to George W. Bush and John Kerry : BONESMAN
33
1960s-'70s detective series : IRONSIDE
34
Cheap ride : ECONOCAR
35
Group governed by the Imperial Divan : SHRINERS
37
Note in B major but not E major : ASHARP
38
Rubylike gem : SPINEL
39
Wrestle : TANGLE
40
Verily : INDEED
44
Place bereft of happy campers? : GULAG
46
Rock: Prefix : PETRO
48
Cause for an R rating : GORE
49
Lush : WINO
51
Barnyard male : TOM

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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