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New York Times, Friday, May 4, 2018

Author:
Michael Hawkins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
131/23/20147/11/20184
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1214131
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
Michael Hawkins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 36 Missing: {BJQZ} This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Hawkins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Hawkins notes:
Today's puzzle is my first solo themeless puzzle after collaborating with John Guzzetta on my first three. Because we received some ... read more

Today's puzzle is my first solo themeless puzzle after collaborating with John Guzzetta on my first three. Because we received some editorial pushback on previous portmanteaus, I worried a bit about stacking HACKTIVISM and STAYCATION in such close proximity. Will liked both, so perhaps these entries are regarded as more common.

Many of my favorite clues survived the edit, including "DC area?" for KRYPTON and "What has a lot in store for you?" for ONESTOPSHOP. "Long Division?" for AFCWEST did not make the cut however, likely because Howie has been too long out of the game.

Jeff Chen notes:
Mike's had an impressive run of themeless acceptances — his rate is much higher than most anyone I know. He said the secret is ... read more

Mike's had an impressive run of themeless acceptances — his rate is much higher than most anyone I know. He said the secret is to stick with 72 words, making every one of your long entries count. And of course, minimizing your crossword glue. Easy peasy!

Nice example in the NW, a great triplet of HACKTIVISM / IMPRESARIO / STAYCATION. Editors tend to value multi-word entries since they're often more colorful than one-worders. Plus, parsing them makes for a fun solving challenge. But these one-worders are nice. A bit of AMT, TECS holding it together, but both of those are minor.

Mike usually sticks to straightforward themeless grids, focusing all his juice in the four corners, with each corner having three stacked long entries. So it was nice to see him branch out with MONEY TALKS running through the NW stack, and KRYPTON / OPEN WIDE making the puzzle feel like it had good stuff woven all through it. I like it when something fun pops up everywhere you turn.

I'm realizing more and more that there are different tiers of themeless feature entries, and my method for evaluation is shifting. To me, the best entries those that are both 1.) snazzy in their own right, and 2.) ripe for a clever clue. ONE STOP SHOP hits both of those right on. "Has a lot in store for you" made me laugh. Very well done, Mike!

HACKTIVISM is a fantastic headliner. But since not everyone will know what it means, it must have a definitional clue. So it doesn't hit criterion #2 for me. It's still a colorful phrase, just not an entry that ticks all the boxes anymore for me.

KRYPTON might be a dull entry for some, but its clue made it shine. DC area wasn't the District of Columbia, but DC Comics – as in Superman's homeworld! So although the entry might fall short of criterion #1 for some, it hits #2 with high marks.

A lot of strong entries, not much crossword glue. If it had had a little more pizzazz overall, it would have been my POW!

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0504 ( 25,014 )
Across
1. Subversive use of computers to promote a political agenda : HACKTIVISM
11. Sharp : ACID
15. One who gets the show on the road : IMPRESARIO
16. Dim : FADE
17. What's not going anywhere? : STAYCATION
18. Animal with a big bite, informally : CROC
19. Liberal arts dept. : PSY
20. Exact revenge legally : SUE
21. Constitutional : WALK
22. Bring (out) : TROT
25. Plant tissue : XYLEM
27. Apt rhyme for "casino" : RENO
28. Some animal tissue : FAT
31. Stunners : TASERS
34. Dentist's direction : OPENWIDE
36. 1940s P.M. : ATTLEE
37. "May I help you?" : YES
38. Gave secondhand? : REDEALT
40. What the middle of the U.S. is usually on, for short : CDT
41. Involve : ENTAIL
43. Becomes successful : TAKESOFF
45. Baked : STONED
46. Eats : HAS
47. One of the Greats? : ERIE
48. Have a good time : PARTY
50. Sci-fi writer McCaffrey, who was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction : ANNE
51. Not eat : FAST
53. Not a team player : REF
55. Director Anderson : WES
57. Texting preamble : IMHO
58. Lack of polish : INELEGANCE
63. Portend : LOOM
64. Finally : ATLONGLAST
65. Lay eyes on : ESPY
66. "How about we get started?!" : LETSDOTHIS
Down
1. Some hand waves : HIS
2. Tsp. or tbsp. : AMT
3. Keeper of the books, for short : CPA
4. DC area? : KRYPTON
5. Private eyes : TECS
6. Brit's exclamation : ISAY
7. It has a large holding area : VAT
8. Good name for an optometrist : IRIS
9. One signatory to the Treaty of Fort Laramie : SIOUX
10. "Mere rhetoric is not enough" : MONEYTALKS
11. The K.C. Chiefs are in it : AFCWEST
12. Snack at a county fair or baseball park : CARAMELCORN
13. Indiana Jones pursuit : IDOL
14. K.O. : DECK
22. French city where an English/French treaty was signed in 1420 : TROYES
23. Evangelist's exhortation : REPENT
24. What has a lot in store for you? : ONESTOPSHOP
26. ___ machine (restaurant fixture) : LATTE
28. Research done outside the lab : FIELDTRIAL
29. Put together : ADD
30. Crown holders : TEETH
32. Freshwater minnow : REDFIN
33. Fixed rate : SETFEE
35. Comparatively twisted : WRIER
39. Org. found early in the phone book : AAA
42. Gray area? : ANATOMY
44. Natural seasoning : SEASALT
49. Gossipmonger : YENTE
51. Computer menu heading : FILE
52. Contemporary of Hosea : AMOS
54. Pool surface : FELT
55. Proceed on one's way : WEND
56. Breakfast item in a box : EGGO
59. "___ Olvidados" (1950 Luis Buñuel film) : LOS
60. Slangy turndown : NAH
61. Long-running procedural : CSI
62. Arrivals in "Arrival," for short : ETS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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