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New York Times, Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Author: Andrew Zhou
Editor: Will Shortz
Andrew Zhou
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1411/11/20109/3/20170
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2011532
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1.65230

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Zhou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes: I hope only that the quaint, slightly out-of-the-ark feel of the revealer elicits a chuckle. With the theme juxtaposed against some ... more
Andrew Zhou notes:

I hope only that the quaint, slightly out-of-the-ark feel of the revealer elicits a chuckle. With the theme juxtaposed against some rather fresh fill, like NSFW, CHABAD, FRITOPIE, BOOYA, GOOGLEIT, the puzzle seems to me to approach a nice balance between classic and trendy. Yes, there are some choices in short fill I wouldn't normally make, but the slew of newish-feeling entries, given the straightforwardness of the theme, seemed worth it.

The original theme clues only stated the date and type of work (1977 film, 1871 novel, etc.); the edited version here is much easier. Hopefully, the different categories of work allow for at least one of the answers not to be in the wheelhouse of the solver, so that some challenge remains.

Lastly, I am glad a female George (a nom de plume, of course) made the cut. Ms. Eliot is not unique here. I'm looking at you, George Sand.

Jeff Chen notes: BY GEORGE, it's theme entries that are 'things written by a person named George.' Fun idea. I liked the consistent cluing style of ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

BY GEORGE, it's theme entries that are "things written by a person named George." Fun idea. I liked the consistent cluing style of "year of work" + "last name" + "type of work." STAR WARS was an obvious one for this sci-fi ubergeek, and I even recognized MIDDLEMARCH — nice touch to feature a woman in what would otherwise have been a male-dominated puzzle.

(George Eliot was Mary Anne Evans' pen name.)

DECISION POINTS didn't come easy, nor did MY SWEET LORD, but they do seem crossworthy. (The latter more so, after the melody came back to me.)

Working with an eight-letter revealer can be surprisingly tricky. That's because revealers usually are best placed at the end of a puzzle, in row 13, forcing a big white space on the opposite side. Check out the roughly 6x5 chunk of space in the lower left — not easy to fill such a big swath well.

Andrew wisely added a cheater square in the very lower left (note: some editors hate this aesthetic), but these two corners still are the toughest part of the puzzle to fill. The lower left is pretty good, with just the tough IONESCO (not to be confused with ENESCO) and the odd UPCAST.

The opposite corner … SHA is a minor ding. ESL is okay. ACHESON crossing CHABAD crossing DOHA, though. Oof. I think all world capitals are fair game. But I don't know if it's fair to expect solvers to remember the spelling of Dean ACHESON's name, or to know the CHABAD organization. That crossing could be a killer for some poor solvers.

There's also more crossword glue than I expect from Andrew's work, ARIDE, YOO, ETTE / ATTA. That's because of the high theme density though — ETTE and ATTA are directly attributable to having to work with the ends of RHAPSODY IN BLUE and DECISION POINTS, for example. Perhaps one fewer themer would have been a better trade-off, although RHAPSODY IN BLUE is peskily an even number of letters, so it can't go in the middle of a 15x15 grid.

Overall, a neat concept. I might have given it the POW! if all the themers felt more like master opuses in the vein of STAR WARS. (Thank goodness THE PHANTOM MENACE is too long for a normal crossword grid!)

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0614 ( 24,690 )
Across Down
1. Terra ___ (old name for Newfoundland) : NOVA
5. Symbol for torque : TAU
8. Malfunction : ACTUP
13. 1977 Lucas film : STARWARS
15. Jewish organization known for its outreach work : CHABAD
17. Dish featuring corn chips as a main ingredient : FRITOPIE
18. Regarding this matter : HERETO
19. Took top honors : WON
20. 1871 Eliot novel : MIDDLEMARCH
22. Stamp collector's unit : PANE
23. Immigrant's course, for short : ESL
24. Syllable in oldies songs : SHA
25. Off-axis : ASLANT
28. Dial, e.g. : SOAP
30. 1924 Gershwin composition : RHAPSODYINBLUE
35. Self-referential : META
36. Bush denizen, for short : ROO
37. Lead-in to boy : ATTA
39. 2010 Bush autobiography : DECISIONPOINTS
44. Coupling device : YOKE
45. Heavily involved : INDEEP
46. Actor Robert of 1970s-'80s TV's "Quincy, M.E." : ITO
49. Early platform for The Legend of Zelda, for short : NES
50. Colony members : BEES
51. 1970 Harrison song : MYSWEETLORD
54. Wifey, with "the" : MRS
57. Looking skyward : UPCAST
58. Easy way to get information on something nowadays : GOOGLEIT
60. Raising of spirits? : SEANCE
61. Exclamation that describes 13-, 20-, 30-, 39- and 51-Across : BYGEORGE
62. Fire : ARDOR
63. ___ chi ch'uan : TAI
64. Gymnastics event, informally : BEAM
1. [Warning: explicit content] : NSFW
2. Other, in Oaxaca : OTRO
3. Pointless : VAIN
4. "___ does not surpass nature, but only brings it to perfection": Cervantes : ART
5. Access : TAPINTO
6. Bum ___ : ARIDE
7. Amazon category : USED
8. Secretary of state during the Korean War : ACHESON
9. Place to find solutions in school : CHEMLAB
10. Plantation of book and film : TARA
11. Some paid rides : UBERS
12. Aid in quitting smoking : PATCH
14. Word before Day or World on magazine racks : WOMANS
16. Capital of Qatar : DOHA
21. Scrape or cut : LESION
22. Office of the Vatican : PAPACY
25. Place for a 12-Down : ARM
26. Sloughed off : SHED
27. Like the baby in a 9 1/2-month pregnancy : LATE
29. Highland patterns : PLAIDS
31. Like the Atacama Desert among all places on earth : DRIEST
32. "___-hoo!" : YOO
33. Magazine founder Eric : UTNE
34. Suffix with major : ETTE
38. "Poor venomous fool," in Shakespeare : ASP
40. Playwright Eugène : IONESCO
41. Flying pest, slangily : SKEETER
42. Polish dumpling : PIEROGI
43. Nervous : ONEDGE
46. Shock jock Don : IMUS
47. Sort with a high-energy personality : TYPEA
48. "And the ___ goes to ..." : OSCAR
50. Celebratory cry : BOOYA
52. T.S.A. tool : WAND
53. Letters associated with a rainbow flag : LGBT
54. Just : MERE
55. Baltic capital : RIGA
56. Modern education acronym : STEM
59. High throw : LOB

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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