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New York Times, Friday, May 20, 2016

Author: Kristian House
Editor: Will Shortz
Kristian House
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 26 Missing: {QVWYZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. House. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kristian House notes: I had a lot of fun making this puzzle. I love the string of consonants in EGGMCMUFFIN, so I put that in the center and worked in ... more
Kristian House notes:

I had a lot of fun making this puzzle. I love the string of consonants in EGGMCMUFFIN, so I put that in the center and worked in the two long down answers. From there, it was a matter of seeding the bigger corners with interesting entries and building it out.

My favorite part of the puzzle is the upper left corner, and I love the (accidental) placement of AROMARAMA next to ACHOO. I imagine a lot of sneezing going on as the different scents were sent wafting through the movie theater.

I hope everyone enjoys the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: Great clue to kick off 1-Down: a RARE (or noble) GAS is one sitting at the very right of the Periodic Table, thus giving [Noble at ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great clue to kick off 1-Down: a RARE (or noble) GAS is one sitting at the very right of the Periodic Table, thus giving [Noble at the end of a table?]. Got me thinking about King Arthur and the Round Table.

Sometimes themelesses featuring 15-letter answers can suffer, what with a lack of any other zest besides those long answers. Not so today! Kristian chooses some great grid-spanning entries in GO FOR THE JUGULAR and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, and adds in a good amount of other strong fill, headlined by a beautiful triple in ROGER THAT/AROMARAMA/REFUSENIK.

Perhaps the most famous BOOM BOX in movie history?

That upper corner is so pretty. That sparkly triplet of answers is so tough to pull off, what with GO FOR THE JUGULAR already constraining it. But Kristian doesn't stop there, working in some seven-letter answers. RARE GAS is a great entry, and OREGANO adds some spice (terrible pun intended). All of that for a minor AMI and a not-quite-as-minor SOHN makes it a standout corner.

At 72 words — the max allowed for a themeless — I expect both a ton of snazzy fill and nearly zero gluey bits. I bent that last expectation a bit to allow for the difficulty of working in a pair of 15-letter answers — but not by much. So to get some CESTA / TITI / TENK (10-K) action in one region alone was a bit disappointing. Those first two are real words, but a bit on the esoteric / very-friendly-for-crosswords letter patterns. Along with some of the usual suspects — RIA, the outdated UAR, and the aforementioned SOHN, it felt like too much for me for a 72-worder.

Then again, Kristian does do more with his grid than most 72-worders. I did like the interlock of colorful answers, EGG MCMUFFIN intersecting the 15-letter answers, plus BOOM BOX running straight through it. So upon second glance, having a bit more gluey short material than what I'd like to see out of a 72-worder is all right.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0520 ( 24,300 )
Across Down
1. "I hear you" : ROGERTHAT
10. Flub : BOTCH
15. Smell-O-Vision competitor of 1950s cinema : AROMARAMA
16. Sound of an everyday explosion : ACHOO
17. Order-flouting protester : REFUSENIK
18. Butler who was expelled from West Point : RHETT
19. It welcomes compliments : EGO
20. Evil Queen's disguise in "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs" : HAG
21. Pops up : EMERGES
23. Decked out : GARBED
25. Accouterment for a diva : BOA
26. Isle named for a Gaelic goddess : EIRE
27. Opposing group : ANTIS
28. Best Actress winner for "Klute" : FONDA
30. Narrow waterway : RIA
31. Male offspring, in Munich : SOHN
32. 1992 Olympic figure skating silver medalist : ITO
33. Good place to vent : OUTLET
35. Restaurant breakfast innovation of 1971 : EGGMCMUFFIN
38. Alternatives to Bartletts : ANJOUS
40. Mate 4 life? : BFF
41. Many a charity run : TENK
44. Paltry amount : SOU
45. Squinting cartoon character : MAGOO
47. Add with a beater : MIXIN
48. Curly-tailed dogs : PUGS
50. Office page? : FAX
51. World's second-largest retailer : COSTCO
52. Hit the roof : ERUPTED
54. Esquire's target audience : MEN
55. Advent time: Abbr. : DEC
56. Tiny hairs : CILIA
57. Item in the lobby of a country inn : GUESTBOOK
60. Peterhof Palace personages : TSARS
61. 11-Down, e.g. : EARTHTONE
62. Kids' classic that opens "His mother was ugly and his father was ugly" : SHREK
63. Prized : TREASURED
1. Noble at the end of a table? : RAREGAS
2. Sauce seasoning : OREGANO
3. Attack viciously : GOFORTHEJUGULAR
4. Prey for a dingo : EMU
5. Roseola symptoms : RASHES
6. Where the rubber meets the road : TREAD
7. Chill (with) : HANG
8. Renoir vis-à-vis Monet : AMI
9. Go up against : TAKEON
10. Lead-in to bones or knuckles : BARE
11. Canyon colour : OCHRE
12. Approachable, unglamorous sort : THEGIRLNEXTDOOR
13. Algonquin Round Table, e.g. : COTERIE
14. Pressure cooker : HOTSEAT
22. Big name in financial fraud : MADOFF
24. "Correct!" : BINGO
25. Music player for a break dancer : BOOMBOX
28. Org. with scam alerts : FTC
29. "Ariadne ___ Naxos" : AUF
32. Comforting words to a worried loved one : IMSAFE
34. South American monkeys : TITIS
36. Impulse buy at a checkout counter : GUM
37. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" craft : UFO
38. Parts : ASPECTS
39. Foster : NOURISH
42. "Impressive!" : NICEONE
43. Bad-mouthed : KNOCKED
46. Many an infomercial offering : GADGET
47. Three in a quarter : MONTHS
49. Burj Khalifa feature : SPIRE
51. Jai alai basket : CESTA
53. Mission : TASK
54. Piddling : MERE
58. Former Mideast org. : UAR
59. Grill measure, in brief : BTU

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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