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New York Times, Saturday, May 27, 2017

Author: Damon Gulczynski
Editor: Will Shortz
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3511/8/20048/10/20180
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14507810
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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

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Damon J. Gulczynski notes: I began this one while listening to an episode of 'StarTalk', hosted by recently published constructor Neil deGrasse Tyson. ... more
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, 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 ... more
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 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
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T
24
D
U
H
25
A
T
N
O
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W
A
D
E
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E
R
E
28
C
29
T
30
S
31
H
A
V
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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
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N
41
N
O
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A
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E
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P
R
E
F
A
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B
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B
O
E
R
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N
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P
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R
K
O
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B
O
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S
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V
I
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S
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A
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T
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P
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C
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P
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M
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60
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0527 ( 24,672 )
Across Down
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
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.

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