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New York Times, Monday, June 26, 2017

Author:
Brian Greer
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
411/7/20046/26/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
01000003
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56010
Brian Greer

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 44 Missing: {MQVX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Greer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Brian Greer notes:
I was born in Strabane, Ireland, like the great Brian O'Nolan (aka Flann O'Brien, aka Myles Na Gopaleen), who would have been a great ... read more

I was born in Strabane, Ireland, like the great Brian O'Nolan (aka Flann O'Brien, aka Myles Na Gopaleen), who would have been a great crossword constructor had he turned his mind to it. I started constructing crosswords more than fifty years ago while at college, and, after contributing to a variety of publications, got on the team at The (London) Times in 1975.

I became Crossword Editor at The Times in 1995 and continued in that post until emigrating to the US in 2000 to join my wife Swapna. She has no interest in crosswords but we do work very closely together on a mission we would describe as humanizing mathematics education. I continue to contribute occasionally to the Times, and to the Guardian as Brendan (another Irishman who came to America, more saintly than me).

Also, for about eight years I have contributed the cryptic puzzle every week for the Sunday Telegraph. I enjoy doing the New York Times puzzle most days and particularly the cryptic definitions of which my all-time favorite is: Rake over the coals? (3,4,2,4)

I'm very proud of a postcard from Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, congratulating me on a clue: For whom right and wrong can go in ledger? (9,5), and who included a character named for me in one of the television mysteries.

Having noticed the Harry Potter anniversary coming up, I decided to see if I could manage what for me is a completely different genre. I was able to do it finally with very patient help from Will Shortz. Then I asked Richard Rogan, current crossword editor of The (other) Times, to allow me to do another on the same theme and same day and he kindly agreed. I think having puzzles in both Times on the same day is a first.

By the way, I've never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies — they are surely great of their kind, but not my thing.

(Answers to clues cited: DON JUAN IN HELL, and RECORDING ANGEL = R + anagram of CAN GO IN LEDGER)

Jeff Chen notes:
HARRY / POTTER! Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the initial (British) release. The series is a large part of why I started ... read more

HARRY / POTTER! Hard to believe it's been 20 years since the initial (British) release. The series is a large part of why I started writing middle-grade books — my brother once said how sad he was, that there might never be anything as good as this series. I like me a challenge!

Speaking of a challenge, such a lot of thematic material packed in today. I enjoyed HARRY / POTTER snuck in at the very bottom, each word sneakily clued in non-Harry Potter ways.

AS NEAT (that feels too much like a verboten six-letter partial, BTW) as it was to get DANIEL RADCLIFFE over HARRY / POTTER, there were some trade-offs to make this work. Early-week puzzles usually depend on two sets of vertical black square bars on the bottom of a grid to make filling easier — having just one (between AS NEAT and SNEEZES) is a rough construction challenge. Besides AS NEAT, there's an IER and the odd EFFS.

That's not great, but not terrible either. I wouldn't have minded those prices to pay, except that there were already so many other gluey bits. I'm not sure why JK / ROW / LING gets split across the middle, but GHIJK is ... not good. That'd be a puzzle-killer for me. Along with AHOT, BLEST, ETH in the top of the grid, and a rough-for-newbies crossing in ASLAN / AGAS, it's too much for my taste.

I would have been fine with less thematic material, perhaps with THE PHILOSOPHERS / STONE intersecting smack dab in the middle, HARRY POTTER 11 and JKROWLING 9, using a mirror (left-right) grid layout.

The tough grid layout did allow for some nice bonuses like LOYALTY (Gryffindor!) and EGOTIST (Slytherin!). And ALASKAN got a great clue, "detached state" making me laugh.

As a huge fan, I like the 20-year tribute. But I wish it had been a smoother product for a Monday.

*Reparo!*

Jim Horne notes:

This is Mr. Greer's NYT daily crossword debut, but he has contributed three cryptic crosswords already.

1
B
2
L
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A
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R
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B
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A
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L
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A
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K
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G
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A
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S
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P
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0626 ( 24,702 )
Across
1. Explosions : BLASTS
7. Like the posture of humans : ERECT
12. Person in a detached state? : ALASKAN
13. Hit 2017 Jordan Peele thriller : GETOUT
15. With 25-Down, alchemists' quest in a book released on June 26, 1997 : THEPHILOSOPHERS
17. Office head : BOSS
18. Money back : REBATE
19. Evidence for determining paternity : DNA
20. Swear (to) : ATTEST
22. Victory : WIN
23. Deadly snakes : ASPS
26. Units in stables : STALLS
31. Lion in "The Chronicles of Narnia" : ASLAN
35. Coup d'___ : ETAT
37. Enthusiastic : KEEN
38. Alphabet chunk after D-E-F : GHIJK
39. Column's counterpart : ROW
40. Specialist's vocabulary : LINGO
41. Distinctive atmosphere : AURA
42. Jay once seen nightly : LENO
43. Fund, as a chair : ENDOW
44. Coming from two speakers : STEREO
46. Singer Fitzgerald : ELLA
48. Bill who's a science expert : NYE
50. Small program : APPLET
55. Lawyers' org. : ABA
58. "The Descent of Man" author : DARWIN
61. Widespread : RIFE
62. Star of the film version of the book referenced in 15-Across/25-Down : DANIELRADCLIFFE
65. Comparable to a pin, in a phrase : ASNEAT
66. Goes "Ah-choo!" : SNEEZES
67. Persistently torment : HARRY
68. Crafty person at a wheel? : POTTER
Down
1. Given benediction, the old-fashioned way : BLEST
2. Run out, as a subscription : LAPSE
3. ___ Wednesday : ASH
4. Evades : SKIRTS
5. Shakespeare's "The Winter's ___" : TALE
6. Hoity-toity type : SNOB
7. Self-centered sort : EGOTIST
8. Be in a sorry state? : REPENT
9. Biblical verb ending : ETH
10. Like volleyball that's played jointly by men and women : COED
11. Not go straight : TURN
12. "Cat on ___ Tin Roof" : AHOT
14. Passenger-screening org. : TSA
15. Letters on a schedule meaning "We'll let you know" : TBA
16. Went on dates with : SAW
21. What the Titanic did, famously : SANK
24. Father: Fr. : PERE
25. See 15-Across : STONE
27. Of similar character : AKIN
28. Advance, as money : LEND
29. Toy block brand : LEGO
30. Cold fall : SNOW
31. Turkish pooh-bahs : AGAS
32. Open's opposite : SHUT
33. Abandoned European capital : LIRE
34. Not quite closed : AJAR
36. Soldier who's gone missing : AWOL
40. Jump : LEAP
42. Allegiance : LOYALTY
45. Cause to be cherished : ENDEAR
47. Surgical knife : LANCET
49. Exemplify humanity, say : ERR
51. Contest award : PRIZE
52. Subject of a long sentence? : LIFER
53. Letters before gees : EFFS
54. Golf peg : TEE
55. Palindromic Nabokov title : ADA
56. Big party : BASH
57. "___ and the King of Siam" : ANNA
59. Big stinger : WASP
60. Nine-digit fig. on a Social Security card : IDNO
63. Comparative suffix : IER
64. Tennis umpire's call : LET

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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