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New York Times, Saturday, June 24, 2017

Author: Stu Ockman
Editor: Will Shortz
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112/2/20122/7/20180
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0003503
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1.57110
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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 — 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 )
Across Down
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
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.

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