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New York Times, Thursday, May 25, 2017

Author:
Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2911/6/201211/27/201812
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
73335341
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60140
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
19
F
20
R
E
N
C
H
I
G
U
A
N
A
21
R
22
E
23
B
R
A
N
D
24
A
D
O
25
P
O
R
26
C
L
U
E
S
27
T
28
A
N
29
L
E
S
T
30
A
I
R
S
H
31
O
W
S
32
M
33
D
I
34
R
O
L
L
O
F
35
I
C
O
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
45
I
D
E
S
T
46
A
P
E
47
F
48
W
D
49
E
50
A
T
A
W
A
Y
51
C
O
V
52
E
R
I
V
53
E
R
S
O
N
54
I
L
L
G
O
F
I
R
S
T
55
C
56
A
57
M
58
P
59
F
L
O
G
60
I
C
I
E
R
61
E
L
L
A
62
Y
O
N
63
E
N
D
O
64
R
I
B
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0525 ( 24,670 )

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Students & seniors
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: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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