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New York Times, Thursday, June 1, 2017

Author:
Derek Bowman and Sarah Keller
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/27/20091/10/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1000620
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58121
Derek Bowman
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5210/2/20006/1/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
020255200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51110
Sarah Keller

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Bowman. This is puzzle # 52 for Ms. Keller. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
DEREK: I had submitted several versions of this puzzle to Will and Joel to the extent that they (kindly) nudged me in the direction of ... read more

DEREK: I had submitted several versions of this puzzle to Will and Joel to the extent that they (kindly) nudged me in the direction of finding a collaborator.

I had worked with Sarah previously on a few puzzling endeavours, including a small diorama for a National Puzzlers' League convention event. It has always been very enjoyable working with her, a theme maven who doesn't let me get away with crummy entries, and again our collaboration worked out well.

I was particularly bogged down with chunky groups of black squares for the rays of the SUN, but she streamlined the layout of the whole grid and made everything fall into place.

I am indebted to her for helping make this puzzle come together. Thanks.

SARAH: This is our second New York Times collaboration. I met Derek, a successful new constructor, in 2008, at an NPL convention. We thought it would be fun to work on a puzzle together.

When collaborating, we always choose to work with wordplay themes as well as those that require unusual grids. This astrological theme was Derek's and Derek's alone. In my opinion, he is a grid master. In this venture, he combined circular THE WORLDs along with a SUNny central rebus.

We worked together on some grid manipulation to lessen the black square count as well to make the puzzle more pleasing to the eye. It was fun getting the puzzle publication-ready and is always fun working with Derek.

Jeff Chen notes:
What a neat visual! Something so pretty about those four diagonals leading out to the four sets of circles. Eye-catching, artistic ... read more

What a neat visual! Something so pretty about those four diagonals leading out to the four sets of circles. Eye-catching, artistic pattern.

We get THE WORLD circling in four places … that must mean "around THE WORLD"? ... with the SUN in the middle of the puzzle? It didn't all click for me, as I wasn't sure why around THE WORLD was circling … around what? And why were four worlds circling the SUN?

I'm sure my comics-ubergeek brother will clue me in, telling me about some fictional star system with four worlds circling the SUN. It'd be so awesome if it were called ETRURIA or ASASON!

Speaking of those, it's so tough to avoid obscure or esoteric entries when filling around so many circled letters. Although Derek and Sarah have a lot of flexibility in 1.) which way THE WORLD revolves and 2.) where to start it, it's highly likely that exactly zero of the 16 possibilities would have been easy to fill around.

I was all set to say how impressed I was with the NE corner, chock full of BATH TOY, PRELUDE, OODLES, and … ASASON? Oof. You can love someone like a son, you can think of someone as a son, but AS A SON by itself would be a puzzle-killer for me.

These types of heavily-constrained biggish corners tend to need entries with -ER and -EST additions, and/or RE- prefixes. The SW corner is a perfect example. EASIEST is a fine word, but ADORERS and LITHEST are both iffy.

It's common for these biggish, constrained corners to need short gluey bits, too. I don't mind an innocuous (and easily gettable) ESE. Maybe I should have known Jack SOO, one of the few Asian actors of his time? DIECI is … Italian for ten? Herb RITTS? Hmm.

This sort of puzzle with heavy constraints — so many letters fixed into place all over the grid — is so hard to pull off well. All in all, I would have liked a bigger payoff, something that made more sense of the rationale why four THE WORLDs were going around the SUN.

Still, what a great first impression the blank grid made on me.

ADDED NOTE: Astute reader Seth Cohen pointed out that THE WORLD rotates regularly, shifting two spots at each new position ... sort of how our world rotates as it revolves around the SUN. D'oh, can't believe I missed that. That does make much more sense now. I'm embarrassed to admit that I stared at everything for a good 10 minutes but couldn't piece together exactly what was going on.

1
R
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A
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F
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O
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B
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P
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B
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E
SUN
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F
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D
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A
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M
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D
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H
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M
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C
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H
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H
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D
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A
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0601 ( 24,677 )
Across
1
A whole bunch : RAFTS
6
How one may be loved : ASASON
12
Pitiful sorts : SADLOTS
14
Rubber ducky, e.g. : BATHTOY
15
Ancient region of central Italy : ETRURIA
16
Lead-in : PRELUDE
17
Universal life force : CHI
18
___-repeated : OFT
19
Depressed : LOW
20
Lead-in to right or rock : ALT
21
Movie theater pioneer Marcus : LOEW
23
___ Gong (Chinese spiritual practice) : FALUN
25
They may come with silver or gold : ORES
26
Of an arm bone : ULNAR
28
"___ folly to be wise" : TIS
29
Diner purchases, for short : BLTS
30
Towheaded comics boy : DENNIS
32
Creepy : EERIE
34
Minneapolis-to-Milwaukee dir. : ESE
35
Cowboys may ride off into it : THESUNSET
37
Letters of approval : FDA
40
Home addition? : STEAD
41
Middle of the road? : MEDIAN
43
Med. insurance plans : HMOS
45
Mo : SEC
47
Seldom-reviewed TV show : RERUN
48
Sub : HERO
49
Brought on : HIRED
51
Words after "Here" and "Away" : WEGO
52
The Liberty Tree, for one : ELM
53
Misfortune : WOE
54
El Orinoco, e.g. : RIO
56
Owing : SHY
57
The Magi, e.g. : ADORERS
59
One eating you out of house and home? : TERMITE
61
Most svelte : LITHEST
62
Left a burning impression? : SCALDED
63
Comics character with a big nose : SNOOPY
64
Cartoonist's aide : INKER
Down
1
Squalid places : RATHOLES
2
Actress Barbeau of the cult classic "Swamp Thing" : ADRIENNE
3
Something bad to come down with : FLU
4
Snow blower brand : TORO
5
Leave nothing behind? : STIFF
6
Composer Copland : AARON
7
Hearty entree : STEW
8
Org. with the Calder Cup : AHL
9
Little of children's literature : STUART
10
A whole bunch : OODLES
11
Nos in Novosibirsk : NYETS
12
Cut off : SECLUDE
13
Occupied, as a table : SATAT
14
Pretty good grades : BPLUSES
22
Washed-out : WAN
24
Opposite of covers : LIESUNDER
25
"___ Buttermilk Sky" : OLE
27
Fashion photographer Herb : RITTS
29
Midge, for one : BITER
31
"Ain't ___ Sweet" : SHE
33
Kind of sleep : REM
36
Like one-star puzzles : EASIEST
37
Place for a poker : FIRESIDE
38
Female issue : DAUGHTER
39
Ticked off : ANNOYED
40
Jack of "Barney Miller" : SOO
42
"Do the ___" (beverage slogan) : DEW
43
Bottled up : HELDIN
44
Detective whose first name is Kentaro : MRMOTO
46
Roll at a counter : CERTS
48
Makes sound : HEALS
49
Equine : HORSY
50
Cinque + cinque : DIECI
53
Boohoo : WEEP
55
Part of the escape route in "Casablanca" : ORAN
58
Density symbol : RHO
60
Jan. honoree : MLK

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?