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New York Times, Saturday, June 2, 2018

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
84/26/201710/19/20180
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1.87011
Trenton Charlson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {FJ} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Charlson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trenton Charlson notes:
Though this is the third themeless puzzle I constructed, it is the first one where I did not begin with a set grid pattern, but ... read more

Though this is the third themeless puzzle I constructed, it is the first one where I did not begin with a set grid pattern, but instead built the grid around my initial seed entry. I started in the upper-left corner with QUEEQUEG, and after a decent number of attempts to place it at 1-Across, I realized that as my favorite literary harpooner's name is 5/8 vowels, it might fit better in the second row. When I noticed that 1-Across would most likely have to start with A, E, I or S, my proclivity toward unusual letter combinations (and contrarianism) led me to wonder if I could get it to begin with something else. Seeing the possibility of 1-Down being GQ MODEL or GQ TYPE, I looked for a solid potential 1-Across answer starting with G, and once I found GODZILLA, the rest of the corner soon fell into place.

Though the corner is a bit more partitioned off than I would prefer (and AGTS isn't the world's best entry), it still stands out to me as one of my favorites from my themeless constructions for both its Scrabbliness and sheer unexpectedness. That said, the thing I like most about the upper-left is perhaps the intersection of the consonant-free entries OUI OUI and EIEIO—how often does that happen?

UNSUNG HERO came next, as it was by far my preferred choice for 19-Across. As I worked my way through the rest of the grid, I was pleased to incorporate, among other entries, XENON GAS, TRAVEL SIZE, TZATZIKI, and YES AND NO, as well as the complementary pair of COWGIRL and ALTAR BOY.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my clues survived this time around. Of my originals, I was particularly glad that 1-Across, 12-Down, 19-Across, 33-Down, 46-Down, and 51-Across made the cut. My favorite, though, has to be "He had a heel that wouldn't heal" for ACHILLES, which I had thought might be a tad too cutesy to be allowed as a part of the imposing brain-buster that is the NYT Saturday puzzle— glad I was wrong! On that note, I hope you enjoyed your solving experience (and my ACHILLES clue).

Jeff Chen notes:
Trenton used CTHULHU in his last themeless, and I enjoyed it, what with my fascination with HP Lovecraft. It's such an awesomely ... read more

Trenton used CTHULHU in his last themeless, and I enjoyed it, what with my fascination with HP Lovecraft. It's such an awesomely bizarre string of letters!

I imagine that other solvers might have hated it – if you don't already know it, it's such a horribly bizarre string of letters!

I bet QUEEQUEG and TZATZIKI will elicit similar responses today. I understand if some solvers rage at the kooky-looking entries, but I loved them. Great way to incorporate rare letters, those Qs and Zs immediately injecting some zing into the solving experience. Plus, QUEEQUEG is from a classic, Moby Dick, so educated solvers ought to at least be familiar with the cast of characters.

Toss in an X in XENON GAS, and another Z in TRAVEL SIZE? Love it! And yet another Z in GODZILLA? Yes! I don't like it when constructors force in rare letters, glopping glue all over to hold the grid together, so it was a real treat to get so many rare ones with just the negligible AGTS employed.

And let's not forget about the other great entries Trenton worked in. TIME SLOT. UNSUNG HERO. ALTAR BOY. SPAMALOT. TIRE IRON. YES AND NO? Nope, definitely yes!

Impressively clever clues, too. MANHOLES is a solid entry. Playing on "main" – in this case, a water main – made it even better. "Good to go" hinting at TRAVEL SIZE was fantastic, too.

It's not a revolutionary grid – not that hard to execute on a 70-word themeless. But Trenton used his four corner stacks so well and knitted everything together so elegantly. A work of art.

1
G
2
O
3
D
4
Z
5
I
6
L
7
L
8
A
9
C
10
U
11
T
12
E
13
X
14
Q
U
E
E
Q
U
E
G
15
M
O
H
A
V
E
16
T
I
M
E
S
L
O
T
17
A
W
O
K
E
N
18
Y
O
U
19
U
N
S
20
U
N
G
H
E
R
O
21
P
U
R
22
P
23
O
S
E
24
P
H
I
25
A
Y
N
26
E
I
E
I
O
27
O
D
O
R
28
N
O
G
29
T
H
30
A
31
T
S
A
L
L
32
A
N
A
33
C
34
A
35
S
H
36
C
R
A
T
E
37
A
P
E
S
38
A
L
P
39
S
H
A
K
E
S
40
O
N
41
P
T
A
42
N
I
N
A
43
E
T
44
U
45
D
46
E
47
I
A
M
48
E
L
K
49
O
50
R
D
I
N
A
L
51
T
R
A
52
V
E
L
S
53
I
Z
E
54
G
I
N
55
A
B
L
A
Z
E
56
T
Z
A
57
T
58
Z
I
K
I
59
L
O
O
S
E
S
60
T
I
R
E
I
R
O
N
61
B
Y
T
E
S
62
Y
E
S
A
N
D
N
O
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0602 ( 25,043 )
Across
1. Fictional character with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame : GODZILLA
9. Nail care brand : CUTEX
14. Friend of Ishmael : QUEEQUEG
15. People indigenous to the Colorado River : MOHAVE
16. 9/8 Central, e.g. : TIMESLOT
17. Disturbed, maybe : AWOKEN
18. Time's 2006 Person of the Year : YOU
19. What someone no longer is as soon as he is identified as one, per George Carlin : UNSUNGHERO
21. Reason : PURPOSE
24. Golden ratio symbol : PHI
25. First name in Objectivism : AYN
26. What might come after a cow or a sheep? : EIEIO
27. Repute : ODOR
28. Drink often served chilled : NOG
29. Introduction to folks? : THATSALL
32. Santa ___ : ANA
33. Till fill : CASH
36. Junk heap : CRATE
37. Some early "astronauts" : APES
38. Habitat for an ibex : ALP
39. Closes, in a way : SHAKESON
41. Grp. once known as the National Congress of Mothers : PTA
42. It "sailed the ocean blue" : NINA
43. Exercise in dexterity : ETUDE
47. Cartesian conclusion : IAM
48. Animal on the Michigan state flag : ELK
49. Part of many a street name : ORDINAL
51. Good to go? : TRAVELSIZE
54. It may be in a sling : GIN
55. All fired up? : ABLAZE
56. Sauce made with yogurt and cucumbers : TZATZIKI
59. Sets free : LOOSES
60. Spare item? : TIREIRON
61. Storage units : BYTES
62. "It's complicated ..." : YESANDNO
Down
1. Well-dressed, photogenic guy : GQTYPE
2. "Absolument!" : OUIOUI
3. Modest, as clothing : DEMURE
4. Sleep unit? : ZEE
5. They're high in the Ivy League : IQS
6. Lollapaloozas : LULUS
7. Film director Sergio : LEONE
8. Go-betweens: Abbr. : AGTS
9. Lass with a lasso : COWGIRL
10. "Eeep!" : UHOH
11. Go out, but not for long? : TAKEANAP
12. Critic or comedian, it's said : EVERYONE
13. Strobe stuff : XENONGAS
15. Main entrances? : MANHOLES
20. Many a software download : UPDATE
22. Heart : PITH
23. "Impressive!" : OOH
27. City destroyed by 1-Across : OSAKA
30. He had a heel that wouldn't heal : ACHILLES
31. Zookeepers' rounds, informally : TRANKS
33. eBay feature : CAPITALB
34. One involved in mass production? : ALTARBOY
35. Tony winner after "Avenue Q" : SPAMALOT
37. Set against : ANTI
39. Cold evidence : SNEEZES
40. It took 70 years to complete, in brief : OED
44. Remove a belt from : UNGIRD
45. Japanese radish : DAIKON
46. Weather phenomenon portrayed by Chris Farley on "S.N.L." : ELNINO
49. Harriet's hubby on 1950s-'60s TV : OZZIE
50. Parents : REARS
52. Ming dynasty artifact : VASE
53. Minute, informally : ITTY
57. It might be in the bag : TEA
58. Alternative to a cab : ZIN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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