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New York Times, Friday, June 6, 2014

Author:
Kameron Austin Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
106/6/20149/28/20181
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0000136
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57000
Kameron Austin Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QWX} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kameron Austin Collins notes:
I'm most interested in crosswords as incubators of what's weird and exciting in language and culture, and this puzzle, constructed in ... read more

I'm most interested in crosswords as incubators of what's weird and exciting in language and culture, and this puzzle, constructed in August, clued in December and submitted in January, is very much a product of its cultural moment. ARCADE FIRE's "Reflektor" had just dropped in late October, and I had it on constant rotation as I completed the puzzle. Nelson Mandela passed away in December, as I was cluing, and JACOB ZUMA, in the news for something other than a political scandal (for once), was doing his best to eulogize his forebear, despite the apparent irony. Freida Lee Mock had recently completed and released Anita: Speaking Truth to Power, a chronicle of ANITA HILL's involvement in the Clarence Thomas affair, and, having been raised a captive audience to this and a few other scandals in the '90s, I couldn't resist when her name appeared as an option.

Besides ANITA HILL and my seeds (JAVASCRIPT & DAKAR RALLY), the only other include-or-die-trying entries for me were NARUTO, which Will thankfully liked, and — my fav — ANABIOSIS, which some might guess is a subpar "glue" answer, since no one knows what the hell it is. In fact, it's the coolest thing here.

Feel free to harass me on Twitter (@melvillmatic), and enjoy.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Congrats, Kameron. Always nice to get a puzzle from yet another constructor's perspective. It always amazes me how much of ... read more

Debut! Congrats, Kameron. Always nice to get a puzzle from yet another constructor's perspective. It always amazes me how much of his/her own style each constructor brings through the selection of a couple of key entries or clues.

Unusual construction today, one featuring quite a large white space in the very center of the grid. Typically something this big tends to be a bit rough around the edges, especially since it has to connect to four different subsections, but Kameron doesn't have a single STINKER in there. (Well, one stinker, in STINKER.) I even appreciated getting a novel and current clue for REE Drummond. It's impressive work in this large swath, even more so considering it's heavily constrained what with JAVASCRIPT and DAKAR RALLY intersecting it. I'm vaguely familiar with NARUTO, although really, what can compete with the joy that is Pokemon?

I've said too much.

Being the pop music moron I am, it took me every crossing to get ARCADE FIRE, thinking that it might be ARCADE TIRE, ARCADE FIRM, ARCADE FARE? I had a good laugh at my own ineptitude there. What made it extra tough was that the grid layout, while allowing for a giant center section, effectively chokes down each quadrant into its own mini-puzzle. The east and south mini-puzzles came quite easily to me, but they didn't help much in terms of breaking open that difficult north.

If a puzzle can be broken into two separate parts with the addition of a single pair of squares, that's generally a sign of potential flow problems. This grid doesn't exactly have that condition (try it; surprising to me that it didn't), but having two sets of places (the H of KESHA / the U of GUTSY and the N of KATRINA / the N of ANT NEST) where adding a pair of black squares could create a choked-off pattern felt constricting to me.

And wow, that west section was tough. I gave up, guessing ATABIOSIS and was initially frustrated by the term, but after pausing to reflect upon it, ANABIOSIS is pretty great. Who doesn't like zombie lingo? And for those of you equally baffled, ANA is defined as "a collection of various materials that reflect the character of a person or place." Learn something new every day. It's too bad that ANABIOSIS didn't have all easier crossings, because the more I think about it, the more I like it. If ANA had been [Santa ___] I think I would have loved learning ANABIOSIS.

Some beautiful clues today. [Printed slip] is such an innocent little clue, isn't it? Probably something like RECEIPT or BILL or something, yeah? Beautiful example of misdirection without the giveaway question mark at the end of the clue — "slip" here means "error," not "paper." [Pickup line?] was pretty good, although it felt slightly tortured to me (RAM = the Dodge Ram truck, methinks...). I liked [Reed section?] better, as it's repurposing the term for clarinets, oboes, etc. in order to make an otherwise boring entry stand out. Neat stuff.

Jim Horne notes:

The "London Trilogy" at 16-Across begins with Money: A Suicide Note, an excellent introduction to MARTIN AMIS if you're not already a fan.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0606 ( 23,586 )

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Across
1
Decision theory factor : RISK
5
Athletic short? : FIVEK
10
Coolers, in brief : ACS
13
Indie rock band whose "The Suburbs" was the Grammys' 2010 Album of the Year : ARCADEFIRE
15
Jiffy : SNAP
16
British author of the so-called "London Trilogy" : MARTINAMIS
17
Feature of a Norman Rockwell self-portrait : PIPE
18
Agitation overseas : STURM
19
Hot, spicy brew : CHAITEA
21
___ Records : EMI
22
Washboard parts : ABS
25
"Sic 'em!" : ATTACK
26
Popular Japanese manga seen on the Cartoon Network : NARUTO
29
"Bonanza" setting : TAHOE
30
Language originally known as Mocha : JAVASCRIPT
34
Turkish money : LIRA
35
Miscellany : ANA
36
Tochises : HEINIES
38
Diego Rivera's "___ Sandías" : LAS
39
Ceilings : CAPS
41
Exotic annual off-road race : DAKARRALLY
43
Dead reckonings? : OBITS
45
Admits : LETSON
46
In wait : BIDING
48
Best-selling food writer ___ Drummond : REE
49
"Bad!" : TSK
52
Become dazedly inattentive : ZONEOUT
54
Ryan of Hollywood : ONEAL
56
One with a password, maybe : USER
57
Writer, director and co-star of the Madea films : TYLERPERRY
61
Master's counterpart : MISS
62
Belief in human supremacy : SPECIESISM
63
Buffoon : ASS
64
Goes on and off diets, say : YOYOS
65
___ Modern : TATE
Down
1
Pickup line? : RAMS
2
Furious : IRATE
3
Rugby formation : SCRUM
4
Subject of Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" : KATRINA
5
Reed section? : FEN
6
1962 film "___ Man Answers" : IFA
7
Energy : VIM
8
Actor Stoltz : ERIC
9
Gaga contemporary : KESHA
10
Notable Senate testifier of 1991 : ANITAHILL
11
Florida's so-called "Waterfront Wonderland" : CAPECORAL
12
Password requirer, maybe : SPEAKEASY
14
10-watt, say : DIM
15
Old-fashioned shelter along a highway : SPITAL
20
Phone inits. : ATT
22
Proceeded like a rocket : ARCED
23
Time capsule event : BURIAL
24
Tough problem : STINKER
27
Grayish : ASH
28
Downer : OPIATE
30
South African leader beginning in 2009 : JACOBZUMA
31
Reanimation after apparent death : ANABIOSIS
32
Insipidity : VAPIDNESS
33
Short : TERSE
37
Kind of hotel, for short : SRO
40
David Ogden ___, actor on "M*A*S*H" : STIERS
42
Colony unit : ANTNEST
44
___-cone : SNO
47
Bold : GUTSY
50
Opera ___ : SERIA
51
Land formation known for its caves : KARST
53
Printed slip : TYPO
54
Unlock, in poetry : OPE
55
Old ___, Conn. : LYME
58
Willy ___, pioneering writer on rocketry : LEY
59
Green start? : ECO
60
"___ for rainbow" : RIS

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 4 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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