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New York Times, Friday, June 5, 2015

Author: James Mulhern
Editor: Will Shortz
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2411/16/20096/23/20176
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1.60000
James Mulhern

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 27 Missing: {QWXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Mulhern. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
James Mulhern notes: As my mom always says: if JOCK JAMS doesn't get your party started, check your guest list. Besides 1-Across, I was excited to ... more
James Mulhern notes:

As my mom always says: if JOCK JAMS doesn't get your party started, check your guest list.

Besides 1-Across, I was excited to include MURSE, FAKE PUNT, REJIGGER, and OH GOD NO. JAI ALAI in its full form is kind of fun, too. Overall, I think the longer fill has a nice bounciness, or life, to it in this puzzle — lots of multiword phrases help give that feel. I hope you agree! ORLE else...

Jeff Chen notes: Nice change of pace to get a themeless focused on seven-letter entries. These can be really difficult, since 8+ letter entries have ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Nice change of pace to get a themeless focused on seven-letter entries. These can be really difficult, since 8+ letter entries have so much more potential for color and pizzazz. But when a constructor can identify and weave in such great entries as OH GOD NO! it makes for good effect.

I like how James offset some blocks in rows 1-3 to give himself a good number of eight-letter slots. With this particular grid pattern (a big "X" in the middle — scroll down to see it), a lot of constructors have chosen to go the all-out, focus-on-seven-letter entries approach. Seven-letter entries tend to lend themselves to such neutral stuff as DONATOR and CLEANSE, so throwing in some eight-letter slots can really help to add zest.

Who's going to be the first to use JOCK JAM MEGAMIX?

Normally I find it difficult to identify colorful one-word entries in themelesses, but REJIGGER did it for me. Fun word, and one I like to use in colloquial speech. If we engineers know anything, it's failure.

That didn't come out right.

I meant, even with all the planning and groundwork, the path to perfection (or simply good enough) involves a lot of iteration, i.e. REJIGGERing.

Something Byron Walden said has been resonating with me; how he avoids putting his marquee entry at 1-Across. I do like a great start to the puzzle, but there's something to be said about stumbling upon buried treasure where you least expect it. I didn't know what JOCK JAMS was, because I knew I was looking for a feature entry, that prompted me to try some Scrabbly letters in that first answer, getting JOCK JAMS to fall a bit too easily. Whoomp, there it went!

Now, that's easier said than done. It's almost always easiest to incorporate Scrabbly words into that 1-Across slot, since so many more words start with a J than end with one (or have one in the middle). Always the trade-offs.

Finally, I liked the FAKE PUNT-style fakeout of [Printemps time], which is ALWAYS "ete." Er, make that ALMOST always. I like being forced to rejigger my thinking.

Er, "printemps" means "spring," not "summer." Drat! So much for those five years of high school French.

1
J
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O
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C
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K
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J
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A
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M
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S
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M
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E
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0605 ( 23,950 )
Across Down
1. Popular series of 1990s compilation albums : JOCKJAMS
9. Packaged candy once promoted with the slogan "The Freshmaker" : MENTOS
15. Definitely in favor : ALLFORIT
16. Cultivated : URBANE
17. "Lordy Lordy!" : IDECLARE
18. War on drugs wager : REAGAN
19. Org. with a code of ethics : AMA
20. Supreme Court of Georgia locale : TBILISI
22. Continue : ADD
23. It's between the lines : LANE
25. Mollify : SALVE
26. King in an Elgar title : OLAF
27. Seating request : AISLE
29. Printemps time : MAI
30. Snap : PHOTO
31. Get creative : IDEATE
33. Adjust : REJIGGER
35. Cappuccino unit : SHOT
37. Go it alone : SOLO
38. "Hold on" : JUSTASEC
42. First in line, say : ELDEST
46. Not leave waiting at the door : ASKIN
47. "Eternally nameless" thing : TAO
49. Dumbledore's killer : SNAPE
50. Dressed in a stunning gown with pearls, say : CHIC
51. Quadragesimal count : FORTY
53. Edge on a shield : ORLE
54. Mauna ___ : KEA
55. Philanthropist : DONATOR
57. It's big in London : BEN
58. Overdue amount : ARREAR
60. Certain trick football play : FAKEPUNT
62. Environmental publication name since 1893 : SIERRA
63. 1 to 1 : EVENODDS
64. Rudely sarcastic : SNARKY
65. "Regrettably ..." : SADTOSAY
1. Court sport : JAIALAI
2. Game with matches : OLDMAID
3. Purify : CLEANSE
4. Louisville-based restaurant chain : KFC
5. Give a turn : JOLT
6. Some Semites : ARABS
7. O. Henry Award-winning Truman Capote story, or either of its main female characters : MIRIAM
8. Outstanding : STELLAR
9. Metrosexual satchel : MURSE
10. "___ learn love, I'll practise to obey": Shak. : EREI
11. Houston and Dallas are in it: Abbr. : NBA
12. Language in which "maraming salamat" means "thank you very much" : TAGALOG
13. Seeing someone, say : ONADATE
14. Summon : SENDFOR
21. Brown and others : IVIES
24. Like some demand, in economics : ELASTIC
26. "That's a terrible, terrible idea!" : OHGODNO
28. Historical Allen : ETHAN
30. Irksome ones : PILLS
32. Aurora's Greek counterpart : EOS
34. Mud : JOE
36. Grand ___ : TETON
38. Jerk : JACKASS
39. Welcome : USHERIN
40. Chamonix, for one : SKIAREA
41. Red and white containers : CARAFES
43. Beats by Dre items : EARBUDS
44. Equal alternative : SPLENDA
45. Minute : TEENTSY
48. Up or down 12 semitones, in musical notation : OTTAVA
51. Sally : FORAY
52. On a farm team? : YOKED
55. Forbidding : DARK
56. Some overhead : RENT
59. Fumble : ERR
61. Cutesy ending : POO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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