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New York Times, Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Author:
Samuel A. Donaldson and Tracy Gray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3210/2/20085/5/20199
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7256516
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64130
Samuel A. Donaldson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
259/8/20104/8/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6345610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61441
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!

1
C
2
L
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W
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N
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M
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B
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H
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P
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B
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J
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F
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N
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D
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D
© 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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