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New York Times, Monday, May 23, 2016

Author: Ori Brian
Editor: Will Shortz
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35/23/20165/8/20181
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Ori Brian
Puzzle of the Week

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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!

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0523 ( 24,303 )
Across Down
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
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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