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New York Times, Friday, May 25, 2018

Author:
Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 67, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQXYZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 83 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Doug Peterson beat me to debuting NUCLEAR FOOTBALL a few years ago, so I took it off my list of potential seed entries. He's so great ... read more

Doug Peterson beat me to debuting NUCLEAR FOOTBALL a few years ago, so I took it off my list of potential seed entries. He's so great with his snazzy seeds; it's no surprise that he gets fantastic entries like T-SHIRT CANNON into crosswords way before me.

About a year ago, Mary Lou Guizzo asked for help with a Valentine's Day heart-shaped puzzle. (Stay with me, I promise that this all comes together.) I liked her idea, but I didn't like that she had used asymmetry to help with the fill in the center of the heart. After trying out a few dozen arrangements, one stuck in my head — a goal-post set of black squares. Maybe something very cool there … what if we could find phrases that related to both football and to love?

Alas, that didn't work out. We did have a lot of fun brainstorming what BLOCKED PUNT, TOUCHDOWN, and THIRD AND LONG might mean for Valentine's Day. Heh.

Shortly after, it occurred to me that I had never seen this goal-post pattern used in a themeless. I was curious to see if it might open up some possibilities, a new layout that might allow for more long answers, minimal 3-letter answers, more mid-length, whatever — just as long as it was something new.

After trying a few dozen arrangements, I hit upon something close to this current version. It had room for a single 15-letter seed entry, so I scanned my lists and my memory banks to see what FOOTBALL-related ones I could use. NUCLEAR FOOTBALL kept popping back up, so I finally gave in and decided to build around it.

Long and twisty crossword journey. As they usually are.

Jeff Chen notes:
This crossword was an enormous pain to put together. Like, trying several hundred times to fill it, with several dozen different black ... read more

This crossword was an enormous pain to put together. Like, trying several hundred times to fill it, with several dozen different black square skeletons, with countless hours lost to dead ends and restarts.

I'd be able to work in a few good long entries, but then I'd run into some area where I'd need a gluey bit to hold it all together.

Or I'd figure out how to turn one of the many corners, but then be unable to turn the next one successfully.

Restart!

And then it must have been 20 or more times that I got 95% of the puzzle finished, only to figure out that I couldn't get the ends to mesh.

I love puzzles with wide-open grid flow, where you can solve without feeling like you run into dead ends or segmented corners. But man oh man does that make filling a grid so painfully difficult.

1
I
2
M
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U
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C
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K
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D
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E
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P
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F
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A
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T
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H
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N
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A
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A
17
O
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P
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A
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A
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C
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W
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H
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E
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A
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R
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L
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N
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H
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A
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H
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L
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V
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O
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M
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N
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F
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D
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M
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B
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A
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0525 ( 25,035 )
Across
1
Frustrated solver's cry : IMSTUCK
8
Frying need for French fries : DEEPFAT
15
Verbally abuses, in slang : HATESON
16
So-called "Crossroads of America" : INDIANA
17
How bugs may be eaten : ONADARE
18
Marketing divisions : ADUNITS
19
Steamy fare : PORN
20
Co-founder of the Black Panther Party : SEALE
22
City north of Pittsburgh : ERIE
23
Son of : ibn :: father of : ___ : ABU
24
Someone to respect : ELDER
25
Tax ID : SSN
26
Overly pleased with oneself : SMUG
27
Bulgaria's Simeon I and Simeon II : TSARS
28
Grub : CHOW
30
"___ Today, Gone Tomorrow" ("Tiny Toon Adventures" episode) : HARE
31
Projected expense for a roofer? : EAVE
32
Get straight, in a way : UNSNARL
36
Gave recognition where recognition was due : THANKED
39
"Au contraire!" : NOTTRUE
40
Cheap accommodations : HOSTELS
41
1976 AC/DC single with the lyric "Watch me explode" : TNT
42
"Yadda yadda yadda" : ETC
43
"Doesn't get any better than this!" : AHBLISS
47
Made loud noises on the road : VROOMED
52
Important case for national security : NUCLEARFOOTBALL
54
Erté's art : DECO
55
Doughnut-shaped : TORIC
56
When the tempest occurs in "The Tempest" : ACTI
57
Cusps : EVES
58
Shakespearean lament : ALACK
59
Get cheeky with? : MOON
60
Pop : SODA
61
Baby ___ : BLUES
62
Rice left on a shelf, maybe : ANNE
Down
1
Sister chain of Applebee's : IHOP
2
Simple fighting style : MANOAMANO
3
Fireworks effect : STARBURST
4
Rocker nicknamed "The Motor City Madman" : TEDNUGENT
5
World Cup cheer : USA
6
Tight-fitting wear : CORSET
7
Time-killing plays for quarterbacks : KNEELS
8
Telemarketer's device : DIALER
9
"___ Game" (1986 Hugo Award winner) : ENDERS
10
Brown. follower : EDU
11
Common car freshener feature : PINESCENT
12
Just treatment : FAIRSHAKE
13
Fictional work that eschews literary conventions : ANTINOVEL
14
Hit with a big charge : TASE
21
Lovelace of early computing : ADA
26
Snub : SHUN
29
Joins : WEDS
33
Man's nickname that sounds like two letters : ARTIE
34
Plans to pay later : RUNSATAB
35
"It's go time!" : LETSROLL
36
Reality show whose contestants must be good with numbers : THEVOICE
37
12x platinum compilation album by the Rolling Stones, familiarly : HOTROCKS
38
Bit of fancy attire : ASCOT
43
Long range : ANDES
44
Spanish omelet ingredient : HUEVO
45
Secretly included, in a way : BCCED
46
Author Mario Vargas ___ : LLOSA
48
Winner of two Grammys and a Nobel Peace Prize : OBAMA
49
Georgia home of Mercer University : MACON
50
John in England : ELTON
51
Gridiron group that tries to sack the QB, collectively : DLINE
53
Madame, across the Rhine : FRAU

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle.

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