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New York Times, Monday, May 23, 2016

Author:
Ori Brian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
55/23/20168/16/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0111020
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65100
Ori Brian

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Brian. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ori Brian notes:
I'm excited to be making my New York Times Crossword debut! I just want to throw in a quick shout-out to my good friend Zachary ... read more

I'm excited to be making my New York Times Crossword debut!

I just want to throw in a quick shout-out to my good friend Zachary Spitz, a fellow first-year student at the University of Chicago, for introducing me to crossword construction and helping me workshop puzzle ideas in our dorm lounge.

I only started solving crosswords last fall, when my co-workers at a campus coffee shop first introduced me to them. I'm particularly glad that HOT TEA and JOE made it into my grid!

When I was constructing this puzzle, my main priority was to end up with a clean fill. I spent a lot of time polishing the puzzle and ridding it of as much "crosswordese" as possible – I think it worked out pretty well, but I'll let you be the judge!

I'm very happy to be published and I hope you'll be seeing some more of me in the future!

Jeff Chen notes:
What a great debut! Theme is fun and consistent — all zippy phrases in the form of (part of the body) + OF THE + (noun). Some ... read more

What a great debut! Theme is fun and consistent — all zippy phrases in the form of (part of the body) + OF THE + (noun). Some might grouse about the OF THE repetition, but I like it. Cool find, a tight set of four themers which just happen to fit into crossword symmetry.

The old-school ... er, new school? HOVERBOARD

The grid is strong compared to the average construction, and way above most debuts. Ori had to work with four pretty long themers, ones that forced placement of some black squares. Note that entries of length 12-14 are "awkward" in that they cannot go in rows 3/13, which usually is best for good spacing (try it and see what happens). Squeezing themers together makes for a tougher than usual challenge.

I'd usually expect a newer constructor to use a "Utah block" around a 13-letter themer, i.e. blackening in RAT to form a chunk of black squares to help separate themers. That's acceptable, but not elegant. Ori not only leaves things wide open, but manages to work in the beautiful HOVERBOARD on the side.

He doesn't stop there. Some constructors would be satisfied with maybe a pair of long entries as bonus fill. I like Ori's big thinking, working in HALF MOON too. POWDERED doesn't do that much for me, but it does get a nice clue, referring to how it can describe donuts or wigs.

All this while keeping his short fill perfectly clean — way cleaner than 95% of all crosswords. I had such an incredibly smooth solve. Even after scouring the grid, I couldn't find a thing I could point out as iffy.

Now, I would have liked BUTT OF THE JOKE and EYE OF THE STORM switched, so that the body parts would roughly mirror a person standing up. So it's not a perfect Monday puzzle in my eyes. But it's close. Extremely well done!

1
H
2
A
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S
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H
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H
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O
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L
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E
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R
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E
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H
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A
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B
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A
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P
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B
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O
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J
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M
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A
B
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S
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P
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N
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C
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P
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M
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E
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Y
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S
H
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W
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N
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C
K
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F
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D
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D
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H
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E
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U
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D
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T
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0523 ( 24,303 )
Across
1
___ browns (breakfast order) : HASH
5
Golf target : HOLE
9
Where "they tried to make me go," in an Amy Winehouse hit : REHAB
14
Red Muppet on "Sesame Street" : ELMO
15
Last word of grace : AMEN
16
Wear away, as soil : ERODE
17
Defeat decisively : ROUT
18
___ Payne, One Direction heartthrob : LIAM
19
Turn on one foot, in basketball : PIVOT
20
One being laughed at : BUTTOFTHEJOKE
23
"A Nightmare on ___ Street" : ELM
24
"Help!," at sea : SOS
25
Cheese-loving pest : RAT
28
Where Mom or Dad sits at dinner : HEADOFTHETABLE
33
"___ sells" (advertising maxim) : SEX
34
Take to the skies : SOAR
35
Not walk completely upright : STOOP
36
Mama's mate : PAPA
38
Org. co-founded by W. E. B. Du Bois : NAACP
41
When doubled, a Hawaiian fish : MAHI
42
Each and ___ : EVERY
44
Place after win and place : SHOW
46
Totally cool : RAD
47
Locale : NECKOFTHEWOODS
51
Building blaster, for short : TNT
52
R&B's ___ Hill : DRU
53
Cub Scout unit : DEN
54
Where it's calmest in a hurricane : EYEOFTHESTORM
61
Part of a bicycle or loom : PEDAL
63
An hour before office closing time, maybe : FOUR
64
Cookie in cookies-and-cream ice cream : OREO
65
Actress Berry : HALLE
66
Brink : EDGE
67
Space race competitor, for short : USSR
68
Clothesline alternative : DRYER
69
Word that follows steel, open or pigeon : TOED
70
Boring way to learn : ROTE
Down
1
Oregano, for one : HERB
2
Baseball's Felipe : ALOU
3
Filth : SMUT
4
Good drink for a sore throat : HOTTEA
5
First or last quarter in the lunar cycle : HALFMOON
6
Exclude : OMIT
7
Jacob's wife : LEAH
8
Catch in a net : ENMESH
9
Shares on Facebook, maybe : REPOSTS
10
"The Phantom of the Opera" lead role : ERIK
11
Futuristic mode of transportation in the "Back to the Future" films : HOVERBOARD
12
Big fuss : ADO
13
Wager : BET
21
Early automaker Ransom E. ___ : OLDS
22
"Average" guy : JOE
26
Greetings in Honolulu : ALOHAS
27
Lukewarm : TEPID
28
What's beyond the Pearly Gates : HEAVEN
29
As predicted : EXPECTEDLY
30
Flight watchdog org. : FAA
31
Get rid of : TRASH
32
Cash dispenser, briefly : ATM
33
Exhausted : SPENT
37
Animal house? : ARK
39
Guerrilla Guevara : CHE
40
Like some doughnuts and wigs : POWDERED
43
One calling from a Swiss mountaintop : YODELER
45
Troubles : WOES
48
Questlove's hairdo, for short : FRO
49
Nursery rhyme seat : TUFFET
50
Doing concerts here and there : ONTOUR
55
Connecticut Ivy : YALE
56
Kind of list : TODO
57
Ginormous : HUGE
58
Approximately : ORSO
59
Slumber : REST
60
"Encore!" : MORE
61
Prof's degree : PHD
62
Corn unit : EAR

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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