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New York Times, Thursday, May 25, 2017

Author:
Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4911/6/201211/20/201922
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1056763111
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62180
Erik Agard

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JKQXZ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Agard. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Erik Agard notes:
The idea for this puzzle came to me as I was watching the documentary IVERSON, which I emphatically recommend, even if you're not big ... read more

The idea for this puzzle came to me as I was watching the documentary IVERSON, which I emphatically recommend, even if you're not big on sports. The grid went through a couple of revisions, chiefly to remove this extra theme answer: [The blood of Jesus, say?] (6,5). I am fully at peace with that decision.

I am less at peace with what is going on at 4-Down. Not my clue, not my president, not my breakfast test. If this worsened your solving experience at all, my apologies.

On the bright side, I got a kick out of the shortcut at 12-Across and the vocabulary at 40-Down (both Shortz et al.'s finds). Not sure I'll ever have occasion to use the former, but I promise to work the latter into as many conversations as I can think to.

Thanks for reading, and stay well.

Jeff Chen notes:
Erik Agard! Love this guy; easily in the running for the most creative person in the crossworld. I always look forward to his ... read more

Erik Agard! Love this guy; easily in the running for the most creative person in the crossworld. I always look forward to his byline. Check out a spotlight Ben over at Fiend did recently for more about Erik.

Today, he riffs on ILL BE FIRST, meaning "move the I to the beginning of words." I must admit, I was confused at first — shouldn't that mean the I moves all the way to the beginning of the phrase, rather than the beginning of the second word? Perhaps that's too picky.

I also got thrown off by the first two themers both being country-related. Sure, they work different ways — one has a country (FRENCH GUIANA) as a base phrase, the other as a resultant (IRAN) — but since it's relatively easy to find words that form other words when the I is moved to the front, I was convinced there had to be some country-related extra layer. Ah well.

Superb grid execution. Erik shows off by stacking pairs of themers, something rarely done. Most constructors would separate PURPLE IRAN and FRENCH IGUANA, one to the very right and the other to the very left of the grid — but Erik likes to innovate.

I often dislike this sort of innovation when others do it since it usually results in terrible compromises. But Erik's grid is not only smooth, it opens things up for great extras like GOLF RESORT, REBRAND, AIRSHOWS jam-packed into one region. Love it.

Erik's a top-notch clue writer, too. Love [Org. with Card games], that capital C alluding to the Cardinals. If you're not already doing his indie puzzles, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

I enjoyed this puzzle, but I have such high expectations for Erik's work now that I wanted something extra, another layer tying everything together. (I also have high expectations for Thursday puzzles not to be as straightforward as this.) Still, such a well-executed product.

(CHURCH ICHOR was the extra themer.)

1
D
2
R
3
A
4
G
5
A
6
R
7
N
8
O
9
S
10
P
11
F
12
E
U
R
O
13
S
O
A
R
14
S
15
L
E
I
A
16
F
E
E
L
17
P
U
R
P
L
18
E
I
R
A
N
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F
20
R
E
N
C
H
I
G
U
A
N
A
21
R
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E
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B
R
A
N
D
24
A
D
O
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P
O
R
26
C
L
U
E
S
27
T
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A
N
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L
E
S
T
30
A
I
R
S
H
31
O
W
S
32
M
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D
I
34
R
O
L
L
O
F
35
I
C
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N
36
S
37
R
Y
E
38
O
M
A
R
E
P
39
P
40
S
41
P
42
A
43
R
T
44
A
R
M
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I
D
E
S
T
46
A
P
E
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F
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W
D
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E
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A
T
A
W
A
Y
51
C
O
V
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E
R
I
V
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E
R
S
O
N
54
I
L
L
G
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F
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T
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C
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A
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M
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P
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F
L
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G
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I
C
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61
E
L
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Y
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N
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D
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R
I
B
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0525 ( 24,670 )

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Across
1
Go on a little too long : DRAG
5
Central Italian river : ARNO
9
Letters on a bottle at the beach : SPF
12
Symbol gotten by typing Ctrl+Alt+E, in Microsoft Word : EURO
13
Goes high : SOARS
15
Cameo role at the end of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" : LEIA
16
"How do you ___?" : FEEL
17
Possible result of spilling grape juice on a map of the Middle East? : PURPLEIRAN
19
Pet with a dewlap and a beret? : FRENCHIGUANA
21
Public relations pivot : REBRAND
24
Shakespeare title word : ADO
25
"___ favor" : POR
26
"Jeopardy!" boardful : CLUES
27
Bronze-ish : TAN
29
Just in case : LEST
30
Blue Angels performances : AIRSHOWS
32
Year that Michelangelo started "David" : MDI
34
Pantheon list? : ROLLOFICONS
37
Toast option : RYE
38
"Love & Basketball" co-star, 2000 : OMAREPPS
41
Thespian's quest : PART
44
Branch : ARM
45
That is to say : IDEST
46
Copy : APE
47
Start of many a chain email : FWD
49
Erode : EATAWAY
51
Guard the 2001 N.B.A. M.V.P.? : COVERIVERSON
54
Trailblazer's declaration ... or a hint to 17-, 19-, 34- and 51-Across : ILLGOFIRST
55
Wait in a strategic location, in video game lingo : CAMP
59
Promote shamelessly : FLOG
60
Less welcoming : ICIER
61
"___ Sings Gershwin" (1950 jazz album) : ELLA
62
Direction to which a pointer may point : YON
63
Prefix meaning "internal" : ENDO
64
Barbecue dish : RIBS
Down
1
"___ Comedy Jam" : DEF
2
Way through une ville : RUE
3
Word between "facts" and "facts" : ARE
4
Many a Trump property : GOLFRESORT
5
Wood that doesn't burn easily : ASPEN
6
Another go : ROUNDTWO
7
Drug cop : NARC
8
Dogie, e.g. : ORPHAN
9
Mexican shawl : SERAPE
10
Challenges for movers : PIANOS
11
Some derivative drawings : FANART
14
Declined : SLID
15
Emmy-nominated Lucy : LIU
18
Bigheadedness : EGO
20
In haste : RASHLY
21
Record label for Usher, Pitbull and Pink : RCA
22
2010 title role for Denzel Washington : ELI
23
"Hamilton" duelist : BURR
28
Regarding : ASFOR
29
One who might get down to Alabama? : LINEDANCER
31
Sporting chant : OLE
32
___ Nashville (major country label) : MCA
33
Cool Ranch chip : DORITO
35
Heavily engaged (in) : IMMERSED
36
Erupt : SPEW
39
Anti-bullying ad, e.g., for short : PSA
40
Piggery : STY
41
Appease : PACIFY
42
Renowned Harlem venue : APOLLO
43
Maker of Almay cosmetics : REVLON
44
Tips, e.g. : ADVICE
47
Back to? : FRO
48
Service symbolized by a dot and three curved lines : WIFI
50
Space science, for short : ASTRO
52
Cobb salad ingredient : EGG
53
Consumer advocate Brockovich : ERIN
56
"Moonlight" star Mahershala : ALI
57
Org. with Card games : MLB
58
Faux ___ : PAS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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