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New York Times, Friday, May 19, 2017

Author: Matthew Sewell
Editor: Will Shortz
Matthew Sewell
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
68/24/20165/19/20171
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1004010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66111

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {FQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Sewell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Matthew Sewell notes: I hope solvers have fun with this themeless; I was glad to be able to work in what seemed like a good variety of entries without ... more
Matthew Sewell notes:

I hope solvers have fun with this themeless; I was glad to be able to work in what seemed like a good variety of entries without too many compromises. As a solver, I enjoy when the mid-length entries are lively, and I felt like luck was on my side with this one — for example, 6-Down and 25-Across were both "Hm, I wonder if that would work..." ideas that panned out. I suppose that's a sideways way of saying that I didn't go looking for a 6-Down, but maybe sometimes you look up and you find yourself with one anyway. C'est la vie.

Jeff Chen notes: I'm usually wary of themelesses heavy on seven-letter entries — those mid-lengthers often end up more neutral than snazzy. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I'm usually wary of themelesses heavy on seven-letter entries — those mid-lengthers often end up more neutral than snazzy. There aren't as many juicy phrases that are seven letters, compared to eight+ letters.

So what a nice surprise in the upper right, with LEAR JET, STEPMOM, NBA JAM … and the lower left, with KISS CAM, IM ALIVE, and COME NOW! Juicy stuff squeezed out of those slots.

INTONED and EYELESS, not so much.

USURPED and BARRAGE … I could go either way on those. They're more everyday, workmanlike terms, but they might be ripe for great wordplay clues? Not today, unfortunately, both getting tough dictionary definitions.

And ALCAZAR, a Moorish castle built during Muslim rule. Good to learn a thing or two from a crossword ... but the random-seeming string of letters made me wonder if I had an error somewhere. Satisfying to add to my vocabulary, but not satisfying during those head-scratching moments of my solve.

MANBUN is such a fun entry. But so cringeworthy in real life. It was so cool to see Jeremy Lin earn the starting PG spot for the New Jersey Nets … and so embarrassing to see him sport a MAN BUN. Sigh.

A couple of great long entries, ENGAGEMENT PARTY anchoring the middle. This is the type of entry that shines for me — not only is it jazzy in its own right, but it's ripe for clever cluing. [Its honorees plan to become one] made me think, "… plan to become one what?" But it's just "become one," as in "wed." Great stuff.

CRUSHING IT also crushed it. I normally am so-so on add-a-short-word phrases, but there's something fresh about this one. Crushed it! Rocked it! Nailed it! (Younger people roll their eyes at me when I use any of these phrases.)

Along with STREAMLINE, ANY SECOND (although I so badly wanted NOW after that), LAST CHANCE, some nice feature entries. A couple of liabilities did detract from the overall experience, notably NOL (esoteric legal term), and also the more minor ETO / WAC, ARR, STS.

Overall, I would have liked a few more assets in the puzzle, especially given the moderate number of liabilities, but some strong work in those mid-length slots.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0519 ( 24,664 )
Across Down
1. Walk all over : ABUSE
6. Put back together : MEND
10. 88 or 98 : OLDS
14. "It's now or never" : LASTCHANCE
16. Converge : MEET
17. Nailing a performance : CRUSHINGIT
18. Origination point of some drips : EAVE
19. Sheet music abbr. : ARR
20. Having hit successfully, say : ONBASE
21. Weightlifter's concern : GRIP
22. Obliterates : ZAPS
24. Port whistler : TUG
25. Classic arcade game with a glass backboard that shatters : NBAJAM
27. 86 or 99 : AGENT
29. Still learning the ropes of : NEWTO
31. Large W.W. II area: Abbr. : ETO
32. Save : REDEEM
34. Agenda-topping issue : MAINITEM
36. Momentarily : ANYSECOND
38. Started to work : KICKEDIN
41. Bratty girl on "Little House on the Prairie" : NELLIE
45. Qualifier in 46-Across : IMO
46. Messages with emojis : TEXTS
48. Size zero, say : TEENY
49. Savory Indian appetizer : SAMOSA
51. Marking for a very soft passage : PPP
53. Show great fondness : DOTE
54. Abundance : SLEW
55. Mothered or fathered : REARED
58. ___ pros. (lawsuit abbr.) : NOL
59. French filmdom : CINE
60. Rid of inefficient extras : STREAMLINE
62. What makes consumers blush? : AVON
63. Plays peacemaker : INTERVENES
64. Pet sounds : MEWS
65. They may be soaked up : RAYS
66. They're favorites : SEEDS
1. Moorish castle : ALCAZAR
2. Heavy rain : BARRAGE
3. Wrongly assumed : USURPED
4. Some patrons: Abbr. : STS
5. Voice-activated Amazon device : ECHO
6. "The ponytail's hipster cousin," per GQ : MANBUN
7. Its honorees plan to become one : ENGAGEMENTPARTY
8. Org. for forensic specialist Abby Sciuto : NCIS
9. Class clown's comeuppance : DETENTION
10. Competitor of Cartier : OMEGA
11. Means of travel for a V.I.P. : LEARJET
12. Get sidetracked : DEVIATE
13. Part of a blended family : STEPMOM
15. Soupçon : HINT
23. Crafty sort : SNEAK
26. Article of attire with strings : BONNET
28. Convictions : TENETS
30. W.W. II service member : WAC
33. Old-fashioned letter opener : MYDEARSIR
35. Dogged it : IDLED
37. It shares a key with a caret : SIX
38. What motivates people to get to first base during a game? : KISSCAM
39. Survivor's cry : IMALIVE
40. "Let's get real here ..." : COMENOW
42. Strong and majestic : LEONINE
43. Half spoken, half sung : INTONED
44. Naturally blind : EYELESS
47. Flings : SPREES
50. Eponym of USA Track & Field's highest award : OWENS
52. It may be poached : PEAR
56. View from Catania : ETNA
57. Photo ID issuers : DMVS
61. Commander during John Brown's capture in 1859 : LEE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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