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New York Times, Saturday, June 27, 2015

Author:
Tim Croce
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
333/12/20106/27/20151
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
01332816
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001
Tim Croce

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 27 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 33 for Mr. Croce. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tim Croce notes:
Usually, when I start with a formation of black squares, it's not particularly close to what I end up with. But this is an exception. ... read more

Usually, when I start with a formation of black squares, it's not particularly close to what I end up with. But this is an exception. I usually like to start with stacks of 8, 9, or 10 and intersect them with stacks of 5 or 6, because that's what usually works. Whenever you intersect stacks of 7 or more with other stacks of 7 or more, that's when it gets challenging.

Did you find yourself solving five mini-puzzles instead of one puzzle? I hope not too much. This puzzle is a bit compartmentalized — there are only two ways into each corner. So I tried to make enough entries at the entry points into the corners so that (a) solvers wouldn't get stuck from entering a corner by two unfamiliar entries, and (b) the entries would be recognizable from the letters in the middle. That is, if you were working from the middle out, or from one corner to the middle then into another corner, you wouldn't (I hope) get shut out of a corner due to unfamiliarity.

A constructor's personality, it's said, comes through in their grids. One may surmise that, with two video game references, one of which being a seed entry, I am a big gamer — but I've never owned a video game console. Nor have I or would I ever use BARQ'S or anything like it. However, I did include 60-Across (PGA TOUR) and 1-Down (PAR FIVE) and did clue 4-Down (FOOTE) with two of my favorite things in mind.

By the by, for 52-Across... my original clue ("One starting a movement?") would definitely be better served for my website than for the Times. I appreciate that Will wanted to keep the clue at least a little palatable and — pun intended — didn't want to push it.

Jeff Chen notes:
Eye-catching grid, something so clock-like to it. Tim stuffed so many Scrabbly letters into the center mini-puzzle — a J, a Q, ... read more

Eye-catching grid, something so clock-like to it. Tim stuffed so many Scrabbly letters into the center mini-puzzle — a J, a Q, and three Xs, done with polish and finesse. And with such sparkly answers — SICK JOKE, AMEX CARD, HOT WAX, and RAGE QUIT — I can't remember when I've enjoyed a tiny subsection quite this much.

Amex's black card, aka the Centurion. Not sure why, but I want one ...

It is just one of five areas in the grid, however (sorry, Tim!). The layout chops up the square into pieces, making my solve go like a countdown from five to one.

Hey, maybe it is a clock mini-theme!

With each of the four corners featuring intersecting triple-stacked 7s in wide-open areas, it's a wonder that Tim got all of these sections to fall. After deploying so many of your blocks on the middle — with stellar results — you gotta pay the piper at some point. Surprisingly, Tim gets the lower right cleanly, with just ENTHUSE, which seems odd to me without a final D. Pretty impressive!

Ending up with answers like SLEEKED and DESTINE though, is not ideal. Neither of these words are 100% bogus, but on the bogosity scale, they strike me as above average.

Mike Shenk once said that the constructor's task is to devise a puzzle that challenges the solver, and provides a test that he/she can ultimately win. I felt like the top left corner was a game rigged against me. I loved the PAR FIVE clue (an "ace" is slang for a hole-in-one) and should have gotten ARIOSOS quicker. But I don't know that I would have ever gotten the RICO ACT / FOOTE crossing. I'm sure others will feel differently, but that soured my solving experience, as I struggled with that tiny intersection for 20 minutes and then realized that it was a waste of time, as I would never have solved it.

Being a constructor is a tough game. Should NYT readers know RICO ACT or FOOTE ... or both? Judging by Tim's reaction to FOOTE, maybe I really ought to have known that. And the RICO ACT does seem like an important piece of legislation. But with four basically random letters in RICO, it'd have been so much more satisfying for me if each had been crossed with non-esoteric names. (Who's to say what's "esoteric," though!)

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0627 ( 23,972 )

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Across
1
Bluegill or crappie : PANFISH
8
Iceberg neighbor : ROMAINE
15
Rice variety used in rice pudding : ARBORIO
16
The Amu Darya no longer feeds it : ARALSEA
17
Mob law? : RICOACT
18
Follower of un favor : GRACIAS
19
They can be right-leaning : FONTS
20
Cause of dejection : WOE
22
One of Jesus' brothers, in baseball : MATTY
23
All-clear indication? : ISEE
24
Hires competition : BARQS
26
Head of technology? : NANO
27
Veiled statement? : VOW
28
Tea Party goals : TAXCUTS
30
Game-ending exclamation : GIN
31
English teacher's stack : ESSAYS
33
Product of a twisted sense of humor : SICKJOKE
35
Itself, in a Latin legal phrase : IPSA
37
Knot holder : TREE
38
Handsome surgeon's nickname on "Grey's Anatomy" : MCDREAMY
42
Was piggish, say : OINKED
46
Québec's ___ Jésus : ILE
47
What many people do on vacation : SLEEPIN
49
Plastic finish? : INE
50
Slush pile item, for short : SASE
52
"Excellent mornings guaranteed" product : EXLAX
53
Expansion group? : FATS
54
Try to swipe : HITAT
56
Core of a tablet, briefly : CPU
57
Dinosaur in many Nintendo games : YOSHI
58
Brand name whose middle letter is capitalized for no apparent reason : ARIZONA
60
Presidents Cup runner : PGATOUR
62
Mustang, e.g. : PONYCAR
63
Champion : ESPOUSE
64
Made smooth and glossy : SLEEKED
65
Fought agin : RASSLED
Down
1
What an ace is rarely seen on : PARFIVE
2
Relatives of recitatives : ARIOSOS
3
"Dateline" group : NBCNEWS
4
"The Young Man From Atlanta" Pulitzer winner, 1995 : FOOTE
5
They can roll over, briefly : IRAS
6
Editorial qualification : SIC
7
Brazilian supply : HOTWAX
8
Leave an online game in a huff : RAGEQUIT
9
Subject of a statue outside Boston's TD Garden : ORR
10
"Thank you, ___" : MAAM
11
U.S.-built route that's mostly outside the U.S. : ALCAN
12
"Do we have the green light?" : ISITAGO
13
One whose work is picking up? : NEATNIK
14
"C'mon ... gimme a challenge!" : EASYONE
21
Meanies of fantasy : ORCS
24
Its logo was the U.K.'s first registered trademark : BASSALE
25
Denmark sold it to the U.S. in 1917 : STCROIX
28
Enters with keys : TYPES
29
Tangled mass : SKEIN
32
Ball or strike lead-in : AIR
34
Garner, for short : JEN
36
Plastic that's often green : AMEXCARD
38
Blooper reel highlights : MISHAPS
39
Born Blonde brand : CLAIROL
40
Foreordain : DESTINE
41
Business review company with a 2012 I.P.O. : YELP
43
Korean compact : KIASOUL
44
Bubble over : ENTHUSE
45
On a wish list : DESIRED
48
Twain's Tom Canty, e.g. : PAUPER
51
The Godfather of Gangsta Rap : EAZYE
53
Commercial pictures? : FOTOS
55
Half-a-second sound : TOCK
57
Talks, talks, talks : YAPS
59
Duncan's dissent : NAE
61
It auctions off used fed. property : GSA

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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