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New York Times, Saturday, June 28, 2014

Author: Josh Knapp
Editor: Will Shortz
Josh Knapp
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
222/26/20102/26/20170
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20102710
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.70002

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Knapp. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Josh Knapp notes: Built this one a few years ago, with KAFKAESQUE as the seed entry. My original grid had some fun stuff, but a lot of terrible stuff ... more
Josh Knapp notes: Built this one a few years ago, with KAFKAESQUE as the seed entry. My original grid had some fun stuff, but a lot of terrible stuff too, and one fatal flaw in PEARL/PEARLE. So I added another block and started over from the SE corner. Once I thought of the clue for GUITARSOLO I had to fit it in somewhere, even if it meant AGAS and APRICOTJAM (which is a pretty undesirable 1-Across, but it's still a thing — my grandma makes chicken with it).

And a quick plug for my puzzle in tomorrow's Washington Post Puzzler, another themeless.

Jeff Chen notes: A Josh Knapp! He's one of the younger constructors whose name I love seeing on bylines. Josh has a knack for what entries sing, and ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A Josh Knapp! He's one of the younger constructors whose name I love seeing on bylines. Josh has a knack for what entries sing, and has the skills to incorporate a lot of them without too much glue. Plus, he works for Jimmy Fallon; hard to argue with a guy with perhaps the best job in the world.

Josh uses a standard-ish grid today, highlighting four sets of triple-stacked 10's, one in each corner. I like that he gives us a little extra, tossing in four 8's, each of which cross through a triple-stack and head into the center. That TSINGTAO / BAD SANTA crossing was fantastic.

Man oh man what a snazzy NW corner! A GUITAR SOLO crossing JOJO, along with a clue that makes you sing that Beatles' song (WARNING, EARWORM ALERT! "Jojo was a guy from Tucson, Arizona..."*), and the crazy set of consonants in AZERBAIJAN. Wow, what a stack of great answers. I might have preferred a set of cheater squares up in the corner in an attempt to get rid of A GAS, but that one entry is a teeny-tiny price to pay for such beautiful work.

And the SE. Double-wow! Normally I'd expect to see a glue entry to hold such nice long stuff together, especially given than Q in KAFKAESQUE. Not a stinker in there; with just STA, the entire quadrant just HUMS along.

The grid did feel a bit more segmented than I like, especially since I got stuck in the NE corner. I finished everything else and then... then... then... there was a lot of staring. You'd think that this uber-dork would know ELVISH off the bat or that PRIAM was Paris's father, but I couldn't pull them out. There are multiple ways into that corner so it's more than fair, but I couldn't help wishing that the entries into it were a little bit bigger, giving me more chances to gain an entry somehow.

I talk about "puzzle flow" a lot, and this is the sort of reason I really appreciate when a puzzle has wide-open flow. It's easier for a constructor to be able to segment a grid and work on one piece at a time, whereas something with multiple interconnected areas make for giant constructing headaches. In more wide-open grids, you might finish one corner great, only to find out that the roots it shoots out make it impossible to fill the rest of the puzzle cleanly. This puzzle would lend itself to segmenting a little more than some others (like Josh's original grid!). You can probably imagine that by putting in two or three middle-section entries, you can isolate a corner somewhat easily.

I just loved the clue for CABANA. [Changing place] made me think of urban renewal, but indeed it's simply a place to change. Nice. And my favorite clue of the bunch was actually for TEAMWORK. I know balance sheets reasonably well, so I smugly cycled through LONG TERM INVESTMENTS, PROPERTY PLANTS AND EQUIPMENT, LEASEHOLD IMPROVEMENTS and other esoterica until I finally figured out it was one of those intangibles that's nonetheless at the heart of any company: TEAMWORK. Well done, way to make my stupid MBA brain eat a little humble pie.

ADDED NOTE: *Jim pointed out that the lyric is actually "Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona..." Rats! Ah well. I'll still sing the rest: "...for some California brass. Get back. Get back! Get back to where your lunch belonged." Man, that's catchy.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0628 ( 23,608 )
Across Down
1. Tangy fruit pastry filling : APRICOTJAM
11. Physical, say : EXAM
15. There might be one after a bridge : GUITARSOLO
16. The Rice Krispies mascots, e.g. : TRIO
17. Georgia neighbor : AZERBAIJAN
18. Amazon icon : CART
19. Raskolnikov's love in "Crime and Punishment" : SONYA
20. City whose name is pronounced like the natives' word for "Where is ...?" : NOME
21. Something an aichmophobe fears, briefly : HYPO
22. Old mount : NAG
24. Grandmotherly plaints : OYS
26. Abbr. at the end of some crossword clues : VAR
27. 2003 Billy Bob Thornton crime film : BADSANTA
32. Language of Middle-earth : ELVISH
34. Craigslist section : FREE
35. It's usually closed before leaving : TAB
36. Playground retort : DOESSO
37. Ax : LETGO
39. Presidential debate mo. : OCT
41. Father of Paris : PRIAM
42. What may accompany a salute : AYEAYE
44. With 51-Across, end of the London blitz? : TEE
46. Ruler with a palace near St. Mark's : DOGE
47. San Diego's ___ Pines, site of the 2008 U.S. Open : TORREY
48. Prerequisites for some overseas travel : VACCINES
50. On the q.t. : MUM
51. See 44-Across : ZED
53. New, informally : MOD
54. Valley girl's "no" : ASIF
56. Cry over spilled milk? : MEOW
58. Kung Pao chicken ingredient : CHILI
63. Solstice time : JUNE
64. Literally, "different lizard" : ALLOSAURUS
66. Some extracts : ORES
67. Advice of caution to a beginner : STARTSMALL
68. Midwest squad : REDS
69. Bizarre and alienating : KAFKAESQUE
1. "What ___!" ("How fun!") : AGAS
2. Two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter : PUZO
3. Love at the French Open, essentially : RIEN
4. Humble response : ITRY
5. Changing place : CABANA
6. Start of an "Ave Maria" line : ORA
7. Beer named for a port on the Yellow Sea : TSINGTAO
8. Guy from Tucson in a Beatles song : JOJO
9. 1960 historical film written and directed by John Wayne, with "The" : ALAMO
10. Well-off : MONEYED
11. Put on the surface, in a way : ETCH
12. Superpower : XRAYVISION
13. Ventilation provider : AIRPASSAGE
14. Campers' relatives : MOTORHOMES
23. Argentine ___ : ANT
25. Spillover : SLOP
27. Key of Schumann's Symphony No. 1 : BFLATMAJOR
28. "Really?" : AREYOUSURE
29. Not willing to give : DETERMINED
30. "Popeye" cartoonist Elzie : SEGAR
31. Part of the Disney family, so to speak : ABCTV
33. "Falstaff" composer : VERDI
38. Attention-getter, in some rooms : OYEZ
40. Company asset : TEAMWORK
43. Freebie on some airplane flights : EYEMASK
45. Prefix with efficiency : ECO
49. Obsolescent media holder : CDCASE
52. It's around the mouth : DELTA
55. Own (up) : FESS
57. Dedicatee of a famous Tallinn church : OLAF
59. Runs smoothly : HUMS
60. Setting for "Three Kings," 1999 : IRAQ
61. Beaut : LULU
62. Vacation destination : ISLE
65. "Come ___?" (greeting) : STA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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