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New York Times, Thursday, June 20, 2019

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
204/26/20172/22/20201
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
11123561
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.77112
Trenton Charlson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKY} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Charlson. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trenton Charlson notes:
Back when I first starting solving the Times crossword, I discovered that different constructors actually write these things, and ... read more

Back when I first starting solving the Times crossword, I discovered that different constructors actually write these things, and thought, "Hey, that could be my name in tiny print in the corner!" One of my earliest theme ideas was to have theme entries that consisted entirely of consonants. Like most of my early ideas, it never left the drawing (constructing?) board, as it became clear that the theme entries would have to be rather short, meaning that they wouldn't stand out. The idea of starting every entry with a consonant came much later—perhaps it was having written a vowelless puzzle that eventually gave me the subconscious inspiration for this one.

I chose this grid pattern as it allowed for some longer entries, with its stacks in the upper-left and lower-right, while still being doable; the stair-step pattern in the middle definitely facilitated connecting the two stacks cleanly. Overall, I think the puzzle turned out well, with some nice long fill, some Scrabbly letters, and not too many compromises—I particularly like the four long Across entries stacked in the upper left. I think it's fun to have SMTWTFS at 1-Across, with the numbers 1 through 7 in the corresponding boxes, as it resembles the first row of a calendar for a month beginning on Sunday (too bad this wasn't published this September).

When I submitted this, I honestly had no idea which day of the week it would end up on. It seemed a little difficult for a Wednesday, and it didn't really feel like a Friday (though I went down to 72 words to allow for the possibility), so in hindsight, I think Thursday is a good fit. This perhaps isn't as tricky of a theme as might be expected on a Thursday, but to me, that's okay. I don't think every Thursday puzzle necessarily has to feel the same—I think there are enough Thursdays on the calendar for a quirky quasi-themeless puzzle every now and then, and I hope you agree.

Happy solving!

Jeff Chen notes:
I heard a lot of complaints about Trenton's last trick puzzle. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY GIVE THIS PIECE OF @#$@! YOUR POW!, YOU UTTER ... read more

I heard a lot of complaints about Trenton's last trick puzzle. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY GIVE THIS PIECE OF @#$@! YOUR POW!, YOU UTTER MORON?

Anytime I hear feedback like this, my pat answer: I like what I like, and I'm happy to explain why at length. You don't agree? Write your own blog.

(Seriously, you should. Blogger.com and other similar services make it easy.)

I wonder if this one will engender a similar love/hate split. Or if it had run on a Friday, as a seemingly regular themeless, it would have been lauded as a good grid with a fantastic bonus?

So many great entries. SMTWTFS / FIREWALL / PROTOZOAN to kick it off. LITMUS TESTS. TEXAS BBQ. ST PAULI GIRL. NUTELLA. NFL TEAM. ZEALOTS. Yes, there's some potential left untapped, STOP LOSS, TAUTENED, RESENTS, CLOUDED not doing much in their long slots. With so much strong material though, it qualifies as a good themeless in my book.

To pull all this off with just some ignorable STDS … and what else? Maybe TBSPS is a bit ungainly, but it's seen in recipes all the time.

Such fantastic craftsmanship. Some constructors say that using so many cheater squares — the pyramids at the top and bottom — is a dirty rotten cheat. I do not. I value color and cleanliness so highly that as long as there's not a ridiculous number of cheaters, they rarely bother me.

I enjoyed the solve. I liked the revealer, even though the a-ha moment wasn't that strong, since I was positive something fishy was going on.

Most importantly, I loved going back and admiring the uncompromising craftsmanship Trenton so carefully employed.

I hesitated before giving it the POW!, since it would have been better suited as a themeless with a big bonus, instead of running on a Thursday, where it won't meet some people's tricksy-Thursday expectations. But it was too good, too fun, too admirable not to give the POW!

1
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0620 ( 25,426 )
Across
1
Series seen on many a planner or pill container : SMTWTFS
8
"S.N.L." network : NBCTV
13
Computer security measure : FIREWALL
15
Food for some fauna : FLORA
16
Single-celled organism : PROTOZOAN
18
Simon ___, lead singer of Duran Duran : LEBON
19
Place to play a board game : DEN
20
Decisively indicative questions : LITMUSTESTS
22
Nightmares on opening night : PANS
23
Caught up to, say : TIED
24
Crowd : THRONG
27
Seasoned smoked beef brisket or pork ribs, e.g. : TEXASBBQ
31
Music festival street in Memphis : BEALE
32
"The Crucible" locale : SALEM
33
Pasture : LEA
34
Hypotenuse, e.g. : SIDE
35
Deals in : SELLS
36
Good name for a wrestler? : MATT
37
Penultimate letter : PSI
38
Friend for un muchacho : CHICA
39
Cracker brand : ZESTA
40
Kind of liability-limiting stock order : STOPLOSS
42
Like some antique tableware : PEWTER
43
Go far and wide : ROAM
44
Binary : DUAL
45
Popular product of Bremen, Germany, not sold in Germany : STPAULIGIRL
49
Hosts, in brief : MCS
52
Pyramid, e.g. : SOLID
53
Something each of this puzzle's answers begins with : CONSONANT
55
Symptom for a car mechanic : NOISE
56
Like a fishing line after a bite : TAUTENED
57
Knight's need : STEED
58
Doesn't take well : RESENTS
Down
1
"Dirty Harry" org. : SFPD
2
Bog down : MIRE
3
Sci-fi film recognized with an Oscar for Technical Achievement 15 years after it was released : TRON
4
Painter's sign : WET
5
Kind of highway : TWOLANE
6
Disconcerting : FAZING
7
Casino draws : SLOTS
8
Cowboys, for example : NFLTEAM
9
Runs : BLEEDS
10
Cookout discards : COBS
11
Bring (out) : TROT
12
They have sliding doors : VANS
14
Hasty getaway : LAM
17
Chocolaty spread since 1964 : NUTELLA
21
Big roll : SIXES
22
Flag holder : POLE
24
Recipe amts. : TBSPS
25
"Safe" kind of film? : HEIST
26
Rush job? : RADIO
27
Powders, in a way : TALCS
28
Terrific time : BLAST
29
Davis of film : BETTE
30
World's richest country, according to the World Bank : QATAR
32
Huge and abrupt : SEISMIC
35
Maritime hazard : SHOAL
36
Whimper : MEWL
38
Murky : CLOUDED
39
Die-hard types : ZEALOTS
41
Hail, e.g. : PRAISE
42
Strive for : PURSUE
44
Mosul money : DINAR
45
Payroll dept. figs. : SSNS
46
Drinking spree : TOOT
47
Pirouette follower, perhaps : PLIE
48
Comprehended : GOT
49
"Doctor Faustus" novelist : MANN
50
Popular tech news site : CNET
51
Regs. : STDS
54
Word in a wedding notice : NEE

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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