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New York Times, Friday, June 30, 2017

Author:
Damon Gulczynski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3811/8/20047/1/20190
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15608810
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65330
Damon J. Gulczynski

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JQWX} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Gulczynski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Damon J. Gulczynski notes:
Pretty typical Friday fare with a pretty typical back story. I put in a couple of long seed entries (CHARM OFFENSIVE and FRANZ ... read more

Pretty typical Friday fare with a pretty typical back story. I put in a couple of long seed entries (CHARM OFFENSIVE and FRANZ FERDINAND) and went from there. I was happy to find HA-HA FUNNY (making its debut), and I was relieved to find Lindsey VONN – she saved me in the SW corner.

I'm also glad my clue for HANOI survived. When I first learned about recursive algorithms The Tower of Hanoi was the example problem, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. After seeing it, I wrote a computer program to solve it and kicked it off with 100 discs, wondering how long it would take. It ran for four days straight on my parents' Power Mac before I killed it. I later learned that if I would have only waited like 600 billion more days I would have seen it finish.

Jeff Chen notes:
I admire Damon's use of 14-letter entries. So tough to build around, since they automatically force placement of black squares, ... read more

I admire Damon's use of 14-letter entries. So tough to build around, since they automatically force placement of black squares, reducing flexibility right off the bat. I hadn't heard of CHARM OFFENSIVE before, but it was easily grokkable and a fun term to learn. FRANZ FERDINAND wasn't as interesting to me — he's no doubt crossworthy as a fuse for WWI — but it's tough to clue him in a clever way.

This puzzle isn't as segmented as it could be, but there are three sub-regions that are only connected by two answers apiece. Notice that once you drop in HAHA FUNNY and CHARM OFFENSIVE, you can work on the upper right region independently of the rest of the puzzle. It's a great boon for the constructor, but it's not great flow for the solver.

Still, having just two entries connecting a section is better than having only one. And it does allow Damon to do so well with that upper right. It's a huge swath of white space, daunting to fill. To weave in ZOOKEEPER, HAYMAKER and RAM HOME is excellent work.

I wish a few black squares had been moved to open up that corner, connecting it much more strongly to the rest of the puzzle — something like blackening in the ED of PLAYED and making the square after PIZZERIA white. But doing so would likely have weakened the corner's fill.

Never easy.

I liked how Damon kept his crossword glue to a minimum, just an ILO, ECU, OLEO and perhaps UNSAY. I was loving the puzzle, feeling like it might win my POW! what with all its great ZEN GARDEN sort of sizzling entries. But then I hit NANU NANU. Even as a "Mork and Mindy" fan in my youth, it feels dated to use as s feature entry. And HA HA FUNNY felt like it ought to be FUNNY HA HA, as per the old SNL sketch. Throw in a NEEDLER, I LOVE LA (a common constructor's crutch, given its friendly consonant/vowel alternation) and it didn't quite hit my threshold for a POW!-level themeless.

Still, generally well done and an entertaining solve.

1
S
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H
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A
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F
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N
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O
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D
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M
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O
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N
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0630 ( 24,706 )
Across
1
Given the short end of the stick : SHAFTED
8
Prone : APT
11
What many Brits don't spell "realize" with : ZED
14
500, e.g. : CARRACE
15
Natural energy source : GLUCOSE
17
Designer behind the Dolly Girl perfume : ANNASUI
18
Really stress : RAMHOME
19
Wind sounds : MOANS
20
Strong connection? : HAYMAKER
21
Locale in "Do the Right Thing" : PIZZERIA
24
Where the Shannon flows : EIRE
25
One may be straight : FLUSH
26
Put down : DEMEAN
29
Disconcert : FAZE
32
Spirit : ELAN
34
Excessively sentimental : SOPPY
35
No more : OVER
36
Trim, in a way : DEFAT
38
Own (up) : FESS
39
Tapes, maybe : MENDS
41
Impudence, slangily : TUDE
42
For the taking : FREE
43
Bacchanals : ORGIES
45
Flower girl, sometimes : NIECE
47
Like a control freak : ANAL
48
Classic sitcom sign-off : NANUNANU
52
Big appetite : VORACITY
55
House shower : CSPAN
56
H&M competitor : OLDNAVY
57
Providers of limited coverage? : BIKINIS
59
Noodge : NEEDLER
60
1983 song that begins "Hate New York City" : ILOVELA
61
Only word spoken in Mel Brooks's "Silent Movie" : NON
62
Back again : FRO
63
"That's no challenge" : TOOEASY
Down
1
Rogue : SCAMP
2
Tower of ___ (classic math puzzle) : HANOI
3
Desi Jr. of the 1960s group Dino, Desi & Billy : ARNAZ
4
His assassination sparked W.W. I : FRANZFERDINAND
5
Tarboosh feature : TASSEL
6
Coin introduced by Louis IX : ECU
7
___ gratia : DEI
8
Famed Indian burial site : AGRA
9
Took for a fool : PLAYED
10
Food processors, informally : TUMMIES
11
One involved in monkey business? : ZOOKEEPER
12
Titular Salinger girl : ESME
13
Puma prey : DEER
16
Campaign of flattery : CHARMOFFENSIVE
20
Humorous as opposed to strange : HAHAFUNNY
22
Wished could be undone : RUED
23
Key : ISLET
27
Place to pray : APSE
28
Where Molson Coors is TAP : NYSE
29
Feeling that everyone's having fun without you, in modern lingo : FOMO
30
More than conjecture : AVER
31
Place of outdoor meditation : ZENGARDEN
33
Tennis's Petrova : NADIA
37
___ Vogue : TEEN
40
Harbor seal : SEACALF
44
Dieter's piece of cake? : SLIVER
46
Crackpot : CUCKOO
49
Trouble in the night : APNEA
50
Catches in the act : NAILS
51
Retract : UNSAY
52
Skiing great Lindsey : VONN
53
Nondairy spread : OLEO
54
Newbie : TYRO
57
Jot : BIT
58
1969 Peace Prize agcy. : ILO

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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