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New York Times, Saturday, June 2, 2018

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
104/26/20171/9/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
01021321
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81011
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 )

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Students & seniors
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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