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New York Times, Monday, June 17, 2019

Author:
Erik Agard and Yacob Yonas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4711/6/201210/13/201921
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1056663101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62170
Erik Agard
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
211/6/20186/17/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0110000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Yacob Yonas

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Agard. This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Yonas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
YACOB: I found Erik after he mentioned the Facebook group he created (Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory) in the XWord Info ... read more

YACOB: I found Erik after he mentioned the Facebook group he created (Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory) in the XWord Info notes for one of his puzzles in 2018. I reached out to ask him for ideas on how to improve a theme idea I had in mind. He responded fifteen minutes later with a bunch of useful feedback. Two months later, he checked back in to see if that theme idea had materialized and asked if I was interested in co-constructing a puzzle. I said yes, and this is the puzzle we produced! Since making this puzzle, we worked together on another one that ran as a part of the Lollapuzzoola tournament last summer.

Just wanted to shout out Erik for being an awesome mentor! And also, if you're interested in learning how to construct, the Facebook group is a great place to start and look around for resources and potential mentors.

ERIK: If memory serves, this is the lowest proportion of clues I've ever had changed by editors from submission to publication, which seems like a strong argument either for collaboration in general or for working with Yacob in particular (I highly recommend both).

Jeff Chen notes:
Standout Monday grid. Super accessible to newer solvers – only some minor PENH (can only be clued in one way), SPFS (not usually ... read more

Standout Monday grid. Super accessible to newer solvers – only some minor PENH (can only be clued in one way), SPFS (not usually pluralized), UNI (prefix), WKS (abbr.). And what a treat to get quantity and quality of bonuses: MC ESCHER, KISSERS, BANSHEE, BENGALI, MENORAH. Dang!

Constructors, NOT A CLUE how they did it? Study this layout. Their themers are spread out to the max, and more importantly, their long bonuses are too. Note how BENGALI and MC ESCHER are in adjacent columns, but they're offset so there's not much overlap. Same goes for MC ESCHER and KISSERS. Elegant way to work in so many long bonuses.

Entertaining clues, too, not a surprise from an Agard joint. SPLAT as the sound of ice cream hitting the floor. An ICICLE as a "high point" of winter – literally. BANSHEE is already great fill, and the trivia about it foretelling a death in the family? Creepy, but so interesting.

I also enjoyed the go-big approach to linking the clues for STOLEN / HOT, OOH / AAH, MOS / WKS. There's something about STOLEN right next to HOT that feels especially neat.

I sadly couldn't get past the not-quite-perfect theme. There are tons of X IN THE Y phrases, and a subset where X rhymes with Y (CAT IN THE HAT came immediately to mind). Tightening it up by using the related SUN, SKY, SHADE … BLACK?

Not only was I iffy on whether BACK IN THE BLACK was as juicy as the other themers, but it only fits with the other three if you turn your head and squint hard. And it pays you $50 to look the other way.

BLACKtop, perhaps?

Sure, why not. That'll be $50.

Tough call. I value perfect consistency and tightness, but if that's impossible, a diverse mix feels stronger.

Overall, still an excellent newb-friendly offering.

1
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0617 ( 25,423 )
Across
1
Benchwarmer : SCRUB
6
Shut loudly : SLAM
10
Calendar units: Abbr. : MOS
13
Dried plums : PRUNES
15
Part of a brain or a 59-Down : LOBE
16
Cry at a fireworks show : AAH
17
Beach outing, say : FUNINTHESUN
19
Hit CBS forensics series : CSI
20
Movie filming locale : SET
21
Merchandise : GOODS
22
TV studio alert : ONAIR
24
Ice cream drink : MALT
25
Engender, as suspicion : AROUSE
26
High point of winter? : ICICLE
29
Sound of ice cream hitting the floor : SPLAT
31
On easy street : MADEINTHESHADE
35
Raw metals : ORES
36
+ or - particle : ION
37
Stick in one's ___ : CRAW
39
Financially afloat again : BACKINTHEBLACK
44
Adds to the payroll : HIRES
45
Comics' goals : LAUGHS
46
Mother of Calcutta : TERESA
49
Nota ___ : BENE
50
Mobile app's clientele : USERS
51
Sweeping stories : EPICS
53
Cry at a fireworks show : OOH
56
Instagram upload, informally : PIC
57
Traffic helicopter, e.g. : EYEINTHESKY
60
"Four score and seven years ___ ..." : AGO
61
Landlord's due : RENT
62
Partner of "signed" and "delivered" in a Stevie Wonder hit : SEALED
63
Anderson Cooper's channel : CNN
64
Utters : SAYS
65
Wear down : ERODE
Down
1
Coppertone stats, for short : SPFS
2
Mötley ___ : CRUE
3
Peewee : RUNT
4
Prefix meaning "one" : UNI
5
Most widely spoken native language of India, after Hindi : BENGALI
6
Toboggan, e.g. : SLED
7
L's meaning, in box scores : LOSS
8
Aladdin's monkey sidekick : ABU
9
Hanukkah display : MENORAH
10
Asian gambling mecca : MACAU
11
Refuge in the desert : OASIS
12
Suffix in many English county names : SHIRE
14
Like a thief's loot : STOLEN
18
Like a thief's loot, slangily : HOT
23
"Beats me!" : NOTACLUE
24
Dutch artist known for his "impossible" drawings : MCESCHER
25
Gore and Capone, for two : ALS
26
"I think," in textspeak : IMO
27
Low-___ diet : CARB
28
Brainchild : IDEA
29
Drinks not meant to be savored : SHOTS
30
Phnom ___ (capital of Cambodia) : PENH
32
Fork prong : TINE
33
RuPaul's purview : DRAG
34
A pop : EACH
38
Calendar units: Abbr. : WKS
40
Pieholes : KISSERS
41
Savings plan, for short : IRA
42
Votes into office : ELECTS
43
Gaelic spirit who wails to foretell a death in the family : BANSHEE
46
Rapper Shakur : TUPAC
47
Provide one's digital John Hancock : ESIGN
48
Military info-gathering : RECON
49
Recycling receptacle : BIN
51
___-weeny (small) : EENY
52
Very bad, with "the" : PITS
53
Nobel Peace Prize city : OSLO
54
Ratified, for short : OKED
55
Jekyll's bad side : HYDE
58
Senate assent : YEA
59
Place for a stud or a ring : EAR

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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