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New York Times, Saturday, May 26, 2018

Author:
Peter Wentz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
349/27/20077/19/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
200121316
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81005
Peter Wentz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 32 for Mr. Wentz. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Peter Wentz notes:
More Saturday puzzle good times! This grid layout is something of an old standby for me, with the three long central answers balancing ... read more

More Saturday puzzle good times! This grid layout is something of an old standby for me, with the three long central answers balancing the mid-range entries in each quadrant. A few bullet points about this one:

-I believe DOTEDU was a first in my debut all those years ago, and it looks like this might be the first DOTGOV to grace a mainstream crossword. Be on the lookout for DOTLIMO and DOTDIAMONDS in future puzzles.

-Yes, I wasn't all that happy with the THE trio in this grid. In my own halfhearted defense, all three of those entries are pretty solid & if you're going to repeat a word, the most common in the English language isn't a bad choice.

-Two companies of eleven-figure Facebook acquisition offers in one quadrant! Stacks like these are the funnest to create.

Hope this one is a 34-Across! (sorry...)

Jeff Chen notes:
CROWD PLEASER indeed! Such a solid example of a stair stack themeless, Peter hitting on all marks. A great stair stack starts with ... read more

CROWD PLEASER indeed! Such a solid example of a stair stack themeless, Peter hitting on all marks.

A great stair stack starts with that oh-so-important middle triplet. CROWD PLEASER / PLAY THE PONIES / THE LEGO MOVIE provide so much zazz. Yes!

Then the NW / SE stacks – POP A PILL / AMAZONIA, and WHATS APP over SNAP CHAT = good usage of those slots.

And finally, where many stair stacks fall is in the SW / NE corners, so hard to execute on once the stair stack is fixed in place. THE CURE / PHONE SEX plus STARBASE / BEDTIMES = excellent work.

And of course, Peter is such a great gridder that he wove everything together with little to no crossword glue. Some will argue that ENO gets way too much expose for his level of fame, but I think he's crossworthy enough. And RNS might be hard to figure out if you don't know it (registered nurses).

I did wonder if POP A PILL was as on point as "pill popper." But ultimately I thought it was a solid 1-Across.

I also don't love THE CURE crossing THE LEGO MOVIE, at THE, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Terrific puzzle from one of the top themeless constructors around. It's not easy to work with 68-word grids, and Peter does it so elegantly.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0526 ( 25,036 )

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Across
1
Easy way to ease pain : POPAPILL
9
Doesn't bother : LETSBE
15
About a third of South America : AMAZONIA
16
Election Day declaration : IVOTED
17
Tries to detect, as a substance in the body : TESTSFOR
18
Literally, "of nothing" : DENADA
19
Part of some shortcuts : ALT
20
Its capital is Nuku'alofa : TONGA
22
"Dagnabbit!" : NERTS
23
Bottom of the sea? : KEEL
25
Single numbers : SOLI
27
Trash holder : BIN
28
"How curious ..." : ITSODD
31
Final stage : ENDGAME
34
Fan favorite : CROWDPLEASER
37
Patronize off-track betting, say : PLAYTHEPONIES
39
Blockbuster 2014 animated film : THELEGOMOVIE
40
Typing center : HOMEROW
41
Heat : ESTRUS
45
Repeated collaborator with Bowie : ENO
46
Grasslands burrower : VOLE
49
Supposed source of large footprints : YETI
50
The "00" of ".00" : CENTS
53
V-shaped cut : NOTCH
56
In : HOT
57
The Beatles had their last one in 1966 : USTOUR
59
2014 Facebook acquisition : WHATSAPP
61
Not leave at the end of the line : REELIN
62
One of the superstates in "1984" : EASTASIA
63
Panegyrizes : EXALTS
64
Instagram rival : SNAPCHAT
Down
1
Republican politico George : PATAKI
2
___ station : OMELET
3
Wallops : PASTES
4
Drug marketed as Retrovir : AZT
5
Use Instagram, e.g. : POST
6
Thumbnail bio, e.g. : INFO
7
Threats to Daniel, in the Book of Daniel : LIONS
8
Slow and dignified : LARGO
9
Aid in keeping food fresh : LID
10
Perfectly matched : EVEN
11
Word with skin or ring : TONE
12
Outpost in science fiction : STARBASE
13
Subjects of babysitter negotiations : BEDTIMES
14
Portrayer of Warren Buffett in HBO's "Too Big to Fail" : EDASNER
21
War-torn Mideast city : ALEPPO
24
Setting : LOCALE
26
Smitten : INLOVE
29
Lint collector : DRYER
30
End of a presidential address : DOTGOV
32
Margaret Thatcher's husband : DENIS
33
Merrymaking : GAIETY
35
Question pundits discuss after a presidential debate : WHOWON
36
Certain voter ID : DEM
37
Intimate practice done at a distance : PHONESEX
38
Beverage said to help with weight loss : LEMONTEA
39
"Friday I'm in Love" band, 1992 : THECURE
42
Warmed-over material : REHASH
43
It's perfect : UTOPIA
44
Hold tight : SITPAT
47
"Never stop improving" sloganeer : LOWES
48
___ Hunt, protagonist in the "Mission: Impossible" films : ETHAN
51
Payment that many wait in line to make : TOLL
52
"___ yourself" : SUIT
54
Mexican quarters : CASA
55
Letters before a colon : HTTP
58
Some shelter volunteers, briefly : RNS
60
Certain ink holder : SAC

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?