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New York Times, Saturday, June 24, 2017

Author:
Stu Ockman
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
122/2/20121/24/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0003603
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57210
Stu Ockman

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 26 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Ockman. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Stu Ockman notes:
The seed for this grid was LAP DANCERS, but Will preferred TAP DANCERS. Go figure. He even suggested a fix: make ADDLE ADD TO and ... read more

The seed for this grid was LAP DANCERS, but Will preferred TAP DANCERS. Go figure. He even suggested a fix: make ADDLE ADD TO and CREAM CREAK. Since I hadn't had a puzzle accepted in more than a year, I was delighted to comply.

The entire bottom half of the original grid [see left] required rework. Can you see why?

If you guessed ESOP, OSSO, UTES, TETS, AGEE, SNERD, LEAS, LEVAR and LARA, go to the head of the class (it was pretty bad). NAVIGATE, BRACELET and CARELESS aren't very exciting, either. However, all's well that ends well. The SE corner is now my favorite part of the puzzle.

I do have a small bone to pick with the cluing. Will replaced nearly three-quarters of my clues (a new record for me, I think). Two missing in action that I like are 46A ‑ Followed but never met [PARALLELED] and 31D - Tight slip [CORSELET].

Oh, and one more thing. Noticing that the grid contained both OAKS/OKS and LA LA/LAA-LAA, I clued OKS as 1-Across minus one and LA LA as 12-Down minus two. I never expected those clues to make the cut, but I thought it was worth a try.

I'm looking for a course in remedial cluing if I can find one nearby. Perhaps, Swarthmore College will offer one in the fall. I should add that Will's cluing is a lot tougher than mine. ‘Dendrochronology,' what isthat? [And, I was worried that having BOLES in the grid might be a puzzle killer].

Hope you enjoyed the challenge, and kudos if you solved it without googling. I would have needed to google a lot.

Jeff Chen notes:
Love that wide-open middle, highlighted by the awesome DEMOLITION DERBY. That answer is elevated even further by such a great clue ... read more

Love that wide-open middle, highlighted by the awesome DEMOLITION DERBY. That answer is elevated even further by such a great clue — of course, a DEMOLITION DERBY would require a "crash course"! Along with TAP DANCERS misdirecting toward business-type instead of dance-type companies, MINCEMEAT, FATCATS, IDITAROD, that's a lot to admire.

I wondered if MALIA OBAMA was crossworthy. Of course, her first name gets used all the time in crosswords, and first family members are fair game. But I think about Michelle Obama's reaction to her kids being listed in 25 Most Influential Teens." Great quote: "They have done nothing to gain any influence." So, I personally wouldn't use either full name in a themeless, unless it served to hold other stronger entries together.

So much of the puzzle was nice and clean. If it hadn't been for a few offenders ... but some of the offenders are serious red flags. Stu pointed it out already: BOLES to me is a Maleskan-era puzzle-killer, a throwback to the bad old days of crosswords where only people who memorized dozens of crossword-specific terms could even attempt them. Just as with ESNE or ADIT, I wouldn't have let a puzzle be published with BOLES.

Crosswords have come a long way over the years, and terms like this need to be left behind in order to build new audiences.

Minor dabs of crossword glue like LA LA, A TOY, SALAS (Spanish for "rooms"), STER are par for the course when it comes to wide-open white spaces. These days, however, the bar for themelesses is so high that it felt like the grid wasn't that polished. I would have happily given up TREE STUMPS, breaking up that answer by placing a black square at the first S, in order to get rid of STER, ESALEN (especially with the rough OVETT and ODILE — crossing each other! — already in the grid), and ALAR.

So many great long entries, HOPE TO GOD, BELOW ZERO, playing KEEPAWAY, ALTER EGO, etc. A shame about the little flaws to go along with the really big one.

1
O
2
A
3
K
4
S
5
A
6
D
7
D
8
T
9
O
10
D
11
O
12
L
13
E
14
N
E
E
T
15
C
R
E
A
K
16
I
B
A
R
17
T
R
E
E
18
S
T
U
M
P
S
19
A
L
A
N
20
H
O
P
E
T
O
G
O
D
21
O
D
I
L
E
22
E
S
A
L
E
N
23
L
A
24
S
V
E
G
A
S
25
M
O
W
E
R
26
M
I
N
C
E
M
E
A
T
27
A
L
A
R
28
F
A
T
C
A
T
S
29
P
S
Y
30
S
A
L
I
E
N
T
31
C
32
A
33
D
34
S
A
V
I
O
R
S
35
N
O
L
A
36
H
37
O
38
M
E
L
O
A
N
S
39
F
O
R
T
Y
40
I
D
I
T
A
R
O
D
41
B
O
X
S
E
T
42
N
E
S
T
S
43
B
E
44
L
O
W
Z
E
R
O
45
G
L
U
E
46
P
A
R
A
L
L
E
L
E
D
47
E
A
S
E
48
A
M
B
L
E
49
M
E
G
A
50
D
Y
E
S
51
Y
A
Y
A
S
52
A
T
O
Y
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0624 ( 24,700 )

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Across
1
Wine barrel sources : OAKS
5
Enhance : ADDTO
10
Handouts, with "the" : DOLE
14
Old competitor of Bikini Bare : NEET
15
Audible sign of age : CREAK
16
Flanged support : IBAR
17
Things analyzed in dendrochronology : TREESTUMPS
19
Bean in a pod? : ALAN
20
Desperately wish : HOPETOGOD
21
Von Rothbart's daughter, in ballet : ODILE
22
New Age retreat in Big Sur : ESALEN
23
Paradise is next to it : LASVEGAS
25
Diamond cutter? : MOWER
26
Holiday pie ingredient : MINCEMEAT
27
Now-regulated growth regulator : ALAR
28
Mr. Moneybags types : FATCATS
29
One-named singer with the 2013 top 5 hit "Gentleman" : PSY
30
Standing out : SALIENT
31
Dreadful date, maybe : CAD
34
Lifeline providers : SAVIORS
35
Jazz Fest setting, informally : NOLA
36
Dollars for quarters? : HOMELOANS
39
Card count in ombre : FORTY
40
Annual event covering about 1,000 miles : IDITAROD
41
It might contain a discography : BOXSET
42
Rats' hangouts : NESTS
43
Like some harsh weather : BELOWZERO
45
People bond with it : GLUE
46
Was similar to : PARALLELED
47
Lack of pressure : EASE
48
Many a nature walk : AMBLE
49
Big intro? : MEGA
50
Producers of highlights : DYES
51
"Get Yer ___ Out!" (1970 live album) : YAYAS
52
"Love is not ___" ("Tears on My Pillow" lyric) : ATOY
Down
1
Worthy of notice : ONTHEMAP
2
Some whipped creams : AEROSOLS
3
Kids' game with a ball : KEEPAWAY
4
A.F.C. North player : STEELER
5
Follow, as a lead : ACTON
6
It may put you to sleep : DRUG
7
Activity requiring a crash course? : DEMOLITIONDERBY
8
Company with striking footwear : TAPDANCERS
9
Sanctions : OKS
10
Jeweled headwear : DIADEMS
11
Do a 28-Down for : OBLIGE
12
One of the Teletubbies : LAALAA
13
Cline who wrote the 2011 best seller "Ready Player One" : ERNEST
18
End with speed : STER
21
Running gold medalist Steve : OVETT
24
Some hospital work : SCANS
26
The Secret Service dubbed her "Radiance" : MALIAOBAMA
28
See 11-Down : FAVOR
30
Cocina and baño, e.g. : SALAS
31
Combination undergarment : CORSELET
32
Bosom buddy : ALTEREGO
33
Routine : DAYTODAY
34
Foyer furniture : SETTEES
35
Brand once advertised with "Take it off. Take it all off" : NOXZEMA
36
Like tailgates and trapdoors : HINGED
37
Beck album with the alternative hit "Where It's At" : ODELAY
38
Handle badly : MISUSE
39
Goose, e.g. : FOWL
41
Botanical trunks : BOLES
44
Karaoke stand-in? : LALA
46
Be worth it : PAY

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?