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New York Times, Friday, June 2, 2017

Author:
John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2110/9/20122/8/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1322463
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
John Guzzetta
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
141/23/20142/8/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1214141
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
Michael Hawkins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 32 Missing: {FKXZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Guzzetta. This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Hawkins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
JOHN: This was a fun puzzle to make with Mike! I think you see our diverse interests come through in various places — a little ... read more

JOHN: This was a fun puzzle to make with Mike! I think you see our diverse interests come through in various places — a little food here, a little math there, a movie or two. The last corner to fall was the NW, where we were completely stuck until we found something new to fit the ??????TOR pattern. I may or may not be a fast food fan, but BACONATOR certainly is a fun word, and allowed us to sneak in yet another pop culture icon with AUNT MAY.

We noticed that Will and Joel changed PBS/PELLA to BBS/BELLA; and fixed our unintentional dupe of DEAD SET ON at 13-Down and SET at 58-Across by changing PARTY to PARCH at 47-Down. How did we miss that?

MIKE: No idea, I guess that's why there are editors. They also reworked most of our clues, I suspect to make the puzzle a bit easier for those lacking intimate knowledge of the Star Wars, Marvel, and Wendy Universes. VOLUNTOLD is the portmanteau that brought us together but didn't make the cut in our last collaboration. I've heard it used at two different workplaces, but I hope it's inferable for those unfamiliar with the term.

Jeff Chen notes:
Mike was over at my place for a beer a few weeks back, and he shared with me an enviable fact: he and John are around 75% in terms of ... read more

Mike was over at my place for a beer a few weeks back, and he shared with me an enviable fact: he and John are around 75% in terms of themeless acceptances. Considering Will once told me there's only one person who's sustained an acceptance rate over 40-50%, that's fantastic.

(The person is Patrick Berry of course, at around 90%.)

So what's their secret? Sending money directly to me, in stacks of large, unmarked bills. You can do it too!

Well, that, and working only with 70- or 72-word grids, focusing all their effort toward getting the four corners packed with juicy, clean fill. Middle of the puzzle be damned!

Of course, this is easier said than done. Creating a single triple-stacked corner with great entries and smooth fill is hard enough. Finishing a grid with four of them is a tough task.

I loved the lower right, AS EASY AS PIE for me since I'm a huge IDRIS ELBA and basketball fan. What a great clue for MIAMI HEAT too — I usually don't think about what logos actually are. Cool flaming (basket)ball.

Mike said VOLUNTOLD was one of their seeds. That one didn't do much for me, as 1.) I hadn't heard of it, and 2.) found it hard to believe people would say something so silly-sounding. It could easily be a TRYHARD situation, where I pooh-poohed that entry at first, and now I've heard all sorts of people (much younger than me) say it. Hmm.

INSATIATE in that same corner … I tried to plunk in "insatiable" and was confused why it didn't fit. Hmm again. INSATIATE is in the dictionary, though I doubt I'll ever use it.

ALEPH NULL was another curious one. I love math, having read a ton of Martin Gardner's work in rec math. But ALPEH NULL was tough to piece together, and it took a while to figure out what it meant (stupid complicated Wikipedia article!). I wonder how this entry will strike non-math fans.

In that same corner, John got worried that they had gotten scooped on MALL SANTA when they were working on the grid. It is true that themelesses tend to shine on the strength of a handful of fresh feature entries. But I think that given enough time between publications, great entries can still retain their sparkle, like this one.

I did get stuck in the NW, unwilling to believe that CYCAD was a thing. I kept wondering why LTD was specific to Lucasfilm (it's not). This uberdork immediately put in THX. Sigh.

Overall, great work keeping the grid smooth and silky. If only a couple of feature entries had resonated a little better for me ...

1
M
2
E
3
C
4
C
5
A
6
L
7
S
8
D
9
V
10
I
11
V
12
I
13
D
14
O
N
Y
O
U
15
E
T
A
16
P
R
O
N
E
17
B
A
C
O
N
18
A
T
O
R
19
S
A
L
S
A
20
I
C
A
N
T
W
A
I
T
21
Q
U
A
D
22
L
T
D
23
M
A
T
C
H
24
P
25
O
I
N
T
S
26
C
A
Y
27
M
O
W
28
T
I
E
29
I
30
M
31
P
L
Y
32
S
33
C
A
P
E
34
G
O
A
T
35
M
A
I
A
36
E
Q
U
U
S
37
A
L
T
O
38
A
L
E
P
39
H
N
U
L
L
40
W
I
D
E
N
41
T
L
C
42
A
V
E
43
J
O
T
44
A
S
E
45
A
S
Y
A
46
S
47
P
I
E
48
B
49
B
50
S
51
L
A
M
B
52
M
I
A
M
I
53
H
E
A
T
54
O
N
E
A
55
L
56
I
D
R
I
S
E
L
B
A
57
S
T
A
T
E
58
S
E
C
59
M
I
L
E
R
60
S
A
L
E
S
61
H
A
H
62
E
R
A
S
E
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0602 ( 24,678 )
Across
1
Churchill Downs, to horse racing fans : MECCA
6
So-called "battery acid" : LSD
9
Striking : VIVID
14
Words after "Stuck" or "High" in hit song titles : ONYOU
15
Control tower projection, for short : ETA
16
Susceptible : PRONE
17
Wendy's burger for "discerning carnivores" : BACONATOR
19
It'll give a chip zip : SALSA
20
"This is gonna be amazing!" : ICANTWAIT
21
Dazzling figure skating feat : QUAD
22
Abbr. for Lucasfilm : LTD
23
Court finales : MATCHPOINTS
26
Sandy islet : CAY
27
Do some plot work : MOW
28
One to one, say : TIE
29
Get at : IMPLY
32
Shakespeare's Shylock, for one : SCAPEGOAT
35
Eldest of the Pleiades : MAIA
36
Group of horses? : EQUUS
37
Cher or Adele, e.g. : ALTO
38
Smallest infinite cardinal number : ALEPHNULL
40
Opposite of narrow : WIDEN
41
Close attention, in brief : TLC
42
Uber app abbr. : AVE
43
Modicum : JOT
44
Simple, simple, simple : ASEASYASPIE
48
Stingers from a gun : BBS
51
One devoted to Mary? : LAMB
52
Its logo features a flaming ball : MIAMIHEAT
54
He joined the 52-Across in 2004 : ONEAL
56
Title role player in 2013's "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" : IDRISELBA
57
Plasma, for one : STATE
58
Heartbeat : SEC
59
One who might target four minutes : MILER
60
What Willy Loman was in : SALES
61
"Dream on!" : HAH
62
Get rid of : ERASE
Down
1
Company once named Socony-Vacuum : MOBIL
2
Pass : ENACT
3
Palmlike tropical plant : CYCAD
4
Cousin of a polecat : COON
5
Sally Field's role in "The Amazing Spider-Man" : AUNTMAY
6
Unleash upon : LETAT
7
Not the movable type : STOIC
8
Main villain in "The Phantom Menace" : DARTHMAUL
9
Some execs : VPS
10
Many a dweller along the Euphrates : IRAQI
11
Assigned, as to do charity work, in modern lingo : VOLUNTOLD
12
Constantly wanting more : INSATIATE
13
Unwaveringly committed to : DEADSETON
18
Follower of fire or bombs : AWAY
24
Boston ___ : POPS
25
Be short : OWE
26
Sound in a storm : CLAP
29
"No clue" : IMATALOSS
30
Worker always seen with a beard : MALLSANTA
31
Bit by bit : PIECEMEAL
32
Easily disgusted : SQUEAMISH
33
___-de-sac : CUL
34
Dressage concern : GAIT
36
"Pain at another's good," per Plutarch : ENVY
39
Bears : HAS
40
Pity party cry : WOEISME
43
Guitarist Hendrix : JIMI
45
Go down : ABATE
46
Queen's "We Are the Champions," vis-à-vis "We Will Rock You" : SIDEA
47
Dry out : PARCH
48
Gorgeous, to Giorgio : BELLA
49
Ones up in arms? : BABES
50
Vacancy sign? : STARE
53
Probate figure : HEIR
55
Relative of "die" : LES

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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