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New York Times, Friday, June 17, 2016

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6611/13/201210/28/201919
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622187472
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1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 29 Missing: {FJQXYZ} This is puzzle # 31 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:
This puzzle was accepted in Feb 2015. Since then I've learned not to be obsessed with packing grids with never-seen-before entries for ... read more

This puzzle was accepted in Feb 2015. Since then I've learned not to be obsessed with packing grids with never-seen-before entries for themeless grids. Cleanness should always be the #1 priority, then freshness. Otherwise, junk fill will follow me wherever I go. I doubt this puzzle would be accepted with Will's high standards these days: two partials, one plural name, etc.

Jeff Chen notes:
C.C.'s themeless debut! She's always impressed me with her ability to introduce new entries in her puzzles (as long fill), so it's a ... read more

C.C.'s themeless debut! She's always impressed me with her ability to introduce new entries in her puzzles (as long fill), so it's a natural progression to themelesses. She's now just a Saturday puzzle away from hitting for the cycle.

Any bets on when this will go the way of the Zune?

I remember C.C. using ANDROID ONE a while back — curious if tech is her thing? I was surprised to see WINDOWS PHONE, since that's a distant third platform to the iPhone and Android. Still, I was amused by the WINDOWS PHONE and VOICE COMMAND symmetrical pairing. Fun to get the quasi-mini-theme.

With a fairly standard themeless pattern, the triple-stacks in the four corners have to shine. I really enjoyed the leadoff corner, with ESPN RADIO the source of much personal entertainment, and STONE COLD / TAKES HOLD reading like a poetic STONE COLD Steve Austin headline. There's something so cool about two stacked answers rhyming like that.

I also enjoyed BOOK SCAN, as digitizing the world's books is a fascinating Google project. The rest of that corner didn't do as much for me though, as OTTOWANS and WEST END aren't quite as snazzy.

There were a ton of clever clues today. My favorite was [One multiplying by division] for AMOEBA, combining math and science in a witty way. [Not act conservatively] seemed to imply "take a risk," but it referred to ham actors and their tendency to EMOTE. And I thought the [One with eye patches] had to be pirate-related. So fun to realize that PANDAs also have eye patches, of a sort. This is the type of great cluing that really adds to a solve.

Overall, there's too much crossword glue holding this 70-word themeless together for my taste — nothing major, but a lot of minor NNE, A CAN, TERIS, SWE, ADD IT. Still, there was enough colorful BEET SALAD type of material that I enjoyed the puzzle.

I'm always impressed at how hard C.C. works to continually improve her already strong construction skills, so I'm looking forward to more themelesses from her.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0617 ( 24,328 )
Across
1
Longtime "Mike & Mike" airer : ESPNRADIO
10
See 29-Across : TEBOW
15
Utterly : STONECOLD
16
Not act conservatively : EMOTE
17
Sets in : TAKESHOLD
18
Widespread unrest : RIOTS
19
Got on a roll? : ATE
20
Plot element : TOMB
21
"Gimme a break" product : KITKAT
22
First name in 39-Down research : DIAN
24
God with green skin : OSIRIS
26
Where "crossword" is "korsord": Abbr. : SWE
27
Good-sized combo : OCTET
29
With 10-Across, player that the Broncos replaced with Peyton Manning : TIM
30
Like ___ of corn (really easy) : ACAN
31
Something given to Apple's Siri : VOICECOMMAND
35
Like much locker room language : COARSE
37
Things to cry over? : ONIONS
38
Samsung Galaxy rival : WINDOWSPHONE
40
Tabula ___ : RASA
41
Audio receiver : EAR
42
Mountain climbers? : TBARS
46
Exemplar of ease : ABC
47
Hub for All Nippon Airways : NARITA
50
Sports great with the 1993 memoir "Days of Grace" : ASHE
51
Place for billiards or bingo : PARLOR
53
Forum rule enforcers, for short : MODS
55
Neptune vis-à-vis Saturn : SON
56
Fajita option : STEAK
57
Halves of twinsets : CARDIGANS
59
Early growth areas : UTERI
60
Assurance that you can get bread at a store : ATMINSIDE
61
One with eye patches : PANDA
62
Well-rooted course? : BEETSALAD
Down
1
Tabasco, por ejemplo : ESTADO
2
Reception annoyance : STATIC
3
Nudge : POKEAT
4
Hanoi-to-Beijing dir. : NNE
5
Chill out : REST
6
Potential reaction to a cat : ACHOO
7
Makes a dead duck : DOOMS
8
"Sure, tell me" : ILLBITE
9
Matchless? : ODD
10
Actress Polo and others : TERIS
11
Shoot out : EMIT
12
Project Gutenberg job : BOOKSCAN
13
Senators' supporters, largely : OTTAWANS
14
Home to the Royal Opera House : WESTEND
21
Wear for Japan's Coming of Age Day : KIMONO
23
State with the most mountain ranges : NEVADA
25
Big name in projectors : RICOH
28
Big name in mowers : TORO
30
One multiplying by division : AMOEBA
32
"Really!" : ISWEAR
33
French film award : CESAR
34
Pristine : MINT
35
Panini bread : CIABATTA
36
Not in real life, say : ONSCREEN
38
Finishes : WRAPSUP
39
Person, e.g. : PRIMATE
43
Go after : ASSAIL
44
Girl in a Beach Boys hit : RHONDA
45
Saw, say : SENSED
47
Lumia smartphone launcher : NOKIA
48
The "Velvet" half of jazz's "Velvet & Brass" : TORME
49
"___ to the list" : ADDIT
52
Fatten : LARD
54
Things laid on scapegoats : SINS
57
Hotel waiter? : CAB
58
Fed. purchasing agency : GSA

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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