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New York Times, Saturday, May 27, 2017

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3511/8/20048/10/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
14507810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65320
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:
I began this one while listening to an episode of 'StarTalk', hosted by recently published constructor Neil deGrasse Tyson. His guest, ... read more

I began this one while listening to an episode of "StarTalk", hosted by recently published constructor Neil deGrasse Tyson. His guest, planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, was discussing the famous "Pale Blue Dot" photograph, and it seemed like a good seed entry, so I put it in.

I'm mostly happy with how it turned out. I do wish I could have come up with a cleaner middle-bottom (Texas) section though. I broke two of my personal constructing rules here: (1) No pluralizing uncommon names; (2) No partials. I justified (1) by the fact that both ETTAS, James and Jones, were jazz singers. (I'm not sure why exactly this is a justification for me, but it is.) And my clue for I ATE was "Already had dinner," which would make it a full sentence, not a partial, but it was changed during edit. Does it not work?

"Want to order a pizza?"

"Nah, I ate."

Hmm… it does sound a bit awkward.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this one overall, and if you didn't, I'll thank you to not THROW SHADE in my direction.

Jeff Chen notes:
Sometimes people ask me why certain themelesses run on Fridays and some on Saturdays. You can make a puzzle as hard or easy as you ... read more

Sometimes people ask me why certain themelesses run on Fridays and some on Saturdays. You can make a puzzle as hard or easy as you want by tweaking the cluing, right? That's mostly true, but there are some puzzles that just scream SUPER HARD VOCABULARY, I BELONG ON A SATURDAY! Today was one of them.

I like learning a thing or two from my crosswords, especially when the thing is a catchy as FLEXITARIAN. What a snazzy term! And it's something that solvers can suss out, even if it's unfamiliar. Fantastic choice to seed a themeless puzzle.

I'm a Carl Sagan fan — love "Cosmos" — but PALE BLUE DOT was new to me. As a former NASA intern, I'm embarrassed that I didn't know it until now. Ahem. Again, I like learning a thing or two from a puzzle. And although this one wasn't as easy to grok as FLEXITARIAN, it still makes sense (the Earth as a faint blue dot in the universe).

I wouldn't expect educated solvers to know details about Miss HAVISHAM (from "Great Expectations"), but the name ought to at least be familiar-sounding.

ANTENATAL … okay, NATAL should be figure-out-able, meaning "related to birth." And the ANTE- prefix means "before." But what an odd term compared to the much more well-known "pre-natal." Jill (my wife, a doctor), says it's not uncommon, but it's a bit odd in lay usage.

COLPORTEUR … whoa. It is a word in the dictionary. And it amusingly sounds like Cole Porter (no relation, unfortunately). Sure was tough to piece together though, requiring each and every crossing.

Overall, I think the puzzle was fair. The only crossing that gave me pause was COLPORTEUR / PALE BLUE DOT. GALE? HALE? MALE? The P seemed highly likely though.

Well, there was the CHARY (what the…!?) crossing ACE, which had a tough clue. [Crush] was right; the crossing nearly crushed me.

I think the best puzzles are the ones that 1.) teach me a thing or two (FLEXITARIAN!), and 2.) which give me a huge feeling of accomplishment, knowing that I beat it with 100% certainty. This one felt heavier on the former, lighter on the latter.

Still, a great mental workout, one that belonged on a Saturday.

1
F
2
E
3
T
4
E
5
A
6
L
7
D
8
A
9
A
10
T
11
H
12
O
13
S
14
A
G
O
G
15
L
E
O
N
16
C
H
A
R
Y
17
C
O
P
A
18
G
E
N
T
19
E
R
N
E
S
20
A
S
S
N
21
A
Z
T
E
22
C
23
O
N
I
T
24
D
U
H
25
A
T
N
O
26
W
A
D
E
27
E
R
E
28
C
29
T
30
S
31
H
A
V
32
I
S
H
A
M
33
F
L
O
R
I
34
D
A
T
E
C
H
35
F
L
E
X
I
T
A
R
I
A
36
N
37
P
A
L
E
B
L
U
E
D
O
38
T
39
A
40
N
41
N
O
T
A
T
E
42
P
R
E
F
A
43
B
44
B
O
E
R
45
N
E
A
46
P
47
R
K
O
48
B
O
A
T
49
E
T
T
A
50
S
51
V
I
E
S
52
O
G
R
E
53
S
54
I
A
T
E
55
A
L
S
O
56
T
I
E
U
P
57
C
L
I
P
58
P
L
U
M
59
T
E
R
R
Y
60
S
L
O
T
61
E
S
P
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0527 ( 24,672 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Honor in a big way : FETE
5
"The Aviator" actor, 2004 : ALDA
9
Fictional swordsman : ATHOS
14
Stoked : AGOG
15
Province of NW Spain : LEON
16
Word that's its own synonym when its first two letters are replaced with "w" : CHARY
17
"At the ___" (subtitle of a 1978 hit) : COPA
18
Fellow : GENT
19
Relatives of kites : ERNES
20
N.E.A. member?: Abbr. : ASSN
21
Language related to Hopi : AZTEC
23
Terse response to an order : ONIT
24
"Well, yeah!" : DUH
25
Md or Rn fig. : ATNO
26
Notable 1973 defendant : WADE
27
Establishes : ERECTS
31
Dickens character "with a dead lull about her" : HAVISHAM
33
University in Melbourne : FLORIDATECH
35
Occasional meat eater : FLEXITARIAN
37
Carl Sagan's sequel to "Cosmos" : PALEBLUEDOT
39
Gloss : ANNOTATE
42
Quick to put up, in a way : PREFAB
44
Great Trek figure of the 1830s : BOER
45
Spring's cyclic counterpart : NEAP
47
Company behind Hitchcock's "Notorious" : RKO
48
One making bank-to-bank transfers? : BOAT
49
James and Jones of jazz : ETTAS
51
Battles : VIES
52
Dungeons & Dragons race : OGRES
54
"___ it up and spit it out" ("My Way" lyric) : IATE
55
What's more : ALSO
56
Totally occupy : TIEUP
57
Trailer segment : CLIP
58
Color close to puce : PLUM
59
Like many towels : TERRY
60
One of two areas on a football line : SLOT
61
Play award? : ESPY
Down
1
Front : FACADE
2
See how many hits you get, say : EGOSURF
3
Five-star : TOPSHELF
4
Pulitzer-winning novelist Jennifer : EGAN
5
Fountain growth : ALGA
6
1994-2000 TV talk show : LEEZA
7
"Who'da thunk it?!" : DONTTHATBEATALL
8
During pregnancy : ANTENATAL
9
Crush : ACE
10
Be subtly and snarkily insulting : THROWSHADE
11
"Girls" girl played by Lena Dunham : HANNAH
12
Portmanteau in the frozen food aisle : OREIDA
13
Word with sound or storm : SYSTEM
22
Part of many a scandal : COVERUP
28
Peddler of religious literature : COLPORTEUR
29
Attempt to cure : TREAT
30
Like many major highways : SIXLANE
32
Less genial : ICIER
34
Science of nutrition : DIETETICS
36
Basic : NOFRILLS
38
Starts to practice : TAKESUP
39
Jim ___, one-handed Yankee who pitched a no-hitter in 1993 : ABBOTT
40
Knuckle-headed antic? : NOOGIE
41
Like Mars vis-à-vis Jupiter : NEARER
43
Like centerfolds, typically : BOSOMY
46
Grill setting : PATIO
50
9/ : SEPT
51
Use an e-cig : VAPE
53
Bug catcher, maybe : SPY

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?