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New York Times, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Author:
Samuel A. Donaldson and Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2910/2/20086/12/20187
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6146516
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64120
Samuel A. Donaldson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
249/8/20106/12/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6245610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60431
Tracy Gray

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Donaldson. This is puzzle # 24 for Ms. Gray. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
SAM: I came across the phrase JUST FOR KICKS and thought it would be a great name for a shoe store. That's when the theme idea for ... read more

SAM: I came across the phrase JUST FOR KICKS and thought it would be a great name for a shoe store. That's when the theme idea for this puzzle hit. I had wanted to collaborate with Tracy for some time, so I sent her a set of proposed theme entries and asked if she wanted to join in the fun. Happily, she agreed.

TRACY: I tackled the initial challenge of the 12-14-14-12 grid. Together, we went through several iterations of the grid, opening up 4- and 31-down for some colorful long down entries, but having to deal with some frustrating fill constraints in two areas.

SAM: I really admired Tracy's construction. As she says, a grid built around two 12s and two 14s imposes significant constraints. She made it look easy.

TRACY: With the exception of EDDA, I think we were both happy with the finished puzzle and were thrilled when we got the yes this past February.

SAM: Here's hoping the next royal baby is named Edda!

Jeff Chen notes:
I love an early-week puzzle that's JUST FOR KICKS! (KICKS is what the young kids call shoes these days. Well, not anymore now that ... read more

I love an early-week puzzle that's JUST FOR KICKS! (KICKS is what the young kids call shoes these days. Well, not anymore now that I've started to use the term myself.)

Such a hilarious image of a cat burglar, walking upside-down across a ceiling in fashionable SUCTION shoes. Love it! And PLATFORM shoes no doubt make you the life of the PARTY. Great repurposing of the common political phrase, PARTY PLATFORM.

WATER MOCCASINS wasn't as amusing to me, as you can't see synchro swimmers' feet that much, but it worked well as a kooky redefining of the moccasin snakes.

I liked the theme notion so much that I would have loved a fifth themer. But not sure what that could be – maybe FLATS, in TORTILLA FLATS? HEELS, in TAR HEELS?

Totally fine to stick to four though, especially if you're going to buckle down and make the grid great. So much room for bonuses in the fill and Sam and Tracy didn't disappoint. MEMOIRS, TROUNCED, G FORCES, HOOPLA, SUPERSIZED? WHAT A TREAT! Sam and Tracy, YOU WIN!

Note how well they spaced out their bonus fill, alternating up / down, trying to keep them as far apart as possible. Generally speaking, the less long bonuses have to interact with each other, the easier it is to fill the grid smoothly.

And a nice and smooth product, indeed. I might have tried harder to avoid EMIR and EDDA for an early-week puzzle, but I can see the case for those being terms an educated solver ought to know. Short gluey entries are usually easier to ignore, anyway, than longer globs. Something like GO NOW is a bit harder to let slide — seems a bit awkward, doesn't it?

But those are minor nits. An early-week puzzle that both gives me this many kicks, and demonstrates high craftsmanship, easily deserves a POW!

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0612 ( 25,053 )
Across
1. Crab's means of defense : CLAW
5. Tuna ___ : MELT
9. One wallowing in a zoo pond : HIPPO
14. "That smarts!" : OUCH
15. Mideast V.I.P. : EMIR
16. Not in a bottle or can : ONTAP
17. Zippo : NADA
18. Soup that might have a tofu cube in it : MISO
19. Gives the go-ahead : OKAYS
20. Cat burglar's shoe purchase? : SUCTIONPUMPS
23. "___ Baby" ("Hair" number) : ABIE
24. Zero score, in soccer : NIL
25. Bon ___ (witty remark) : MOT
28. Synchronized swimmer's shoe purchase? : WATERMOCCASINS
32. Tops : SHIRTS
33. Gathering of quilters : BEE
34. Bear that's up at night? : URSA
35. Raced (through) : TORE
36. Used to own : HAD
37. Fishing site : PIER
38. Old Icelandic saga : EDDA
39. Newsman Donaldson : SAM
40. Members of all-century teams, e.g. : GREATS
42. Event coordinator's shoe purchase? : PARTYPLATFORMS
45. Apt metaphor for many a dorm room : STY
46. Klutz : OAF
47. Greetings for the visiting team : BOOS
48. Why the buyers of 20-, 28- and 42-Across are in the shoe store? : JUSTFORKICKS
53. "Leave!" : GONOW
56. Camaro ___-Z : IROC
57. Word that can follow time, danger or neutral : ZONE
58. Loudly crying face, for one : EMOJI
59. Lion's pride? : MANE
60. Divisible by two : EVEN
61. Goad : EGGON
62. Buds on spuds : EYES
63. Document recorded at a government office : DEED
Down
1. Drawbacks : CONS
2. Polynesian shindig : LUAU
3. Flexible, electrically : ACDC
4. "How delightful!" : WHATATREAT
5. Some nonfiction best sellers : MEMOIRS
6. Slim Shady is his alter ego : EMINEM
7. Imitate Daffy Duck : LISP
8. Clobbered : TROUNCED
9. Big to-do : HOOPLA
10. Calligraphers' choices : INKS
11. Grp. that might help organize an open house : PTA
12. Subject of hiring negotiations : PAY
13. Coin-___ : OPS
21. "Yeah, right!" : IBET
22. Stuart Little and Chuck E. Cheese, for two : MICE
25. ___ Makeba, singer known as "Mama Africa" : MIRIAM
26. Initial stages : ONSETS
27. Old Russian autocrats : TSARS
28. Slangy question suggesting "I don't know this person" : WHODAT
29. Hang out, as laundry : AIRDRY
30. "44" : OBAMA
31. Enlarged, as an order of fries : SUPERSIZED
32. Numbered things in a how-to manual : STEPS
36. 12-minute period expanded to 30 minutes for the Super Bowl : HALFTIME
39. Beauty spots : SPAS
40. Pressing concerns for astronauts? : GFORCES
41. Castle : ROOK
43. Terse concession speech : YOUWIN
44. Magnate ___ Pickens : TBOONE
48. Who left his home in Tucson, Arizona, in a Beatles tune : JOJO
49. Melee : FRAY
50. Pirate's hideout : COVE
51. Pants part that might be patched : KNEE
52. Email button that's all too easy to hit by mistake : SEND
53. "I'll be darned!" : GEE
54. "Holy cow!," in a text : OMG
55. Holiday quaff : NOG

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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