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New York Times, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Author:
Michael Hawkins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
131/23/20147/11/20184
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1214131
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1.64100
Michael Hawkins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 35 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Hawkins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Hawkins notes:
At a mini-conference last year, the first speaker of the day used the term BUZZKILL, which I connected to my battle earlier that ... read more

At a mini-conference last year, the first speaker of the day used the term BUZZKILL, which I connected to my battle earlier that morning with the alarm clock. By the end of her presentation, I had worked out the rest of the theme.

This puzzle is dedicated to Katie, my wife of fifteen years, whom I married in 18-A and who may never forgive me for introducing to the 49-A.

Jeff Chen notes:
I almost dismissed this as an inelegant, loosey-goosey theme. Man, am I glad I took a second look! I skimmed over the SNOOZE BUTTON ... read more

I almost dismissed this as an inelegant, loosey-goosey theme. Man, am I glad I took a second look! I skimmed over the SNOOZE BUTTON clue at first, thinking that the theme was simply "noises that come out of an alarm clock." RADIO, BUZZ, SOUND? Bleh, totally unspecific!

What, you got the real theme immediately? Um, so did I. For all those ninnies that didn't, bear with us:

The SNOOZE BUTTON makes the RADIO go silent, for RADIO SILENCE. It KILLs the BUZZing, as in a BUZZKILL. And it turns OFF the SOUND = SOUND OFF!

Brilliant!

I wasn't sure if it was just me who missed the cleverosity, so I asked Jim for his thoughts on the puzzle. Turns out he glossed over it, too! After chit-chatting about it, we both agreed that it was delightful; such fantastic plays on words that were tightly bound to SNOOZE BUTTON.

Great grid execution, too. Mike didn't try to do too much, sticking with an easy-to-fill 76-word grid. But with a little zazz in STARGAZING, WORD LENGTH, HOT YOGA, even some BUSH SR, UNICORN, ST LOUIS, that's more than good enough for me.

Best yet, such a silky-smooth grid. I love it when I can't find a single short entry to squint at. This grid felt much more friendly to newer solvers than either of the past two days, even given the presence of HOBART. Some might complain about that one, but come on. You gotta at least be familiar with world capitals.

Okay, maybe BORGE crossing KLEE isn't newb-friendly. But that's perfectly fine in a mid-week puzzle. Paul KLEE is an important painter educated solvers ought to at least have heard of.

So, so, so glad I took a second and third look. A fantastic-- albeit delayed — a-ha moment.

1
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0711 ( 25,082 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Suddenly stopped communicating with, in modern lingo : GHOSTED
8. Daft : MAD
11. Utility bill meas. : BTU
14. Fresh spin on a familiar idea : NEWTAKE
15. Ride on a merry-go-round, maybe : UNICORN
17. Conceives : CREATES
18. City nicknamed "The Gateway to the West" : STLOUIS
19. Incommunicado period : RADIOSILENCE
21. Wade in the Baseball Hall of Fame : BOGGS
24. Bench press muscle, for short : PEC
25. Spook grp. : CIA
26. Running shoe brand : AVIA
27. Put on a truck, say : LOAD
29. "Don't ___ it!" : SWEAT
31. Debbie Downer : BUZZKILL
33. Frenzied place : ZOO
34. Contacted without a trip to the post office, say : EMAILED
35. "Gone With the Wind" locale : GEORGIA
39. ___ Stark, patriarch on "Game of Thrones" : NED
40. Express one's opinion in no uncertain terms : SOUNDOFF
41. Pianist/comic Victor of old TV : BORGE
44. O'Hare and LAX : HUBS
45. Emmy-winning Kudrow : LISA
46. What a weather balloon might be mistaken for : UFO
47. Roman sun god : SOL
48. General tone : TENOR
49. What a late sleeper may use ... resulting in 19-, 31- and 40-Across? : SNOOZEBUTTON
54. Meditative exercises in a steamy room : HOTYOGA
55. Could no longer fit into, as one's childhood clothing : OUTGREW
59. Pittsburgh pro : STEELER
60. Former : ONETIME
61. Like the Canadian flag's maple leaf : RED
62. Verb with "thou" : ART
63. Verbally attack, with "at" : LASHOUT
Down
1. Big purveyor of vitamin supplements : GNC
2. ___ Majesty : HER
3. Be behind : OWE
4. Observatory activity : STARGAZING
5. Byes : TATAS
6. Barely made, with out : EKED
7. Lucy's guy : DESI
8. Tousled : MUSSED
9. Bit of a lark : ANTIC
10. ___ pickle : DILL
11. Leave, slangily : BOUNCE
12. One of the Nixons : TRICIA
13. Vote out : UNSEAT
16. Iowa college : COE
20. Memorable 1995 hurricane : OPAL
21. ___ in arms : BABE
22. Tube traveler : OVUM
23. Egyptian tourist spot : GIZA
27. Set off a polygraph : LIED
28. Up there in years : OLD
29. Procrastinator's promise : SOON
30. Six for dinner? : WORDLENGTH
32. Paul who painted "Fish Magic" : KLEE
33. For whom "it is not possible either to trick or escape the mind," per Hesiod : ZEUS
35. Great deal : GOB
36. "How's it ___?" : GOIN
37. Supposing that : IFSO
38. Many miles away : AFAR
40. "Star Trek" role for George Takei : SULU
41. W.'s father : BUSHSR
42. Significant : OFNOTE
43. Entrenched : ROOTED
44. Capital of Tasmania : HOBART
47. Bob with the Silver Bullet Band : SEGER
48. Pledge drive giveaways : TOTES
50. "Hey!" from Jesús : OYE
51. Author Émile : ZOLA
52. Hammer or sickle : TOOL
53. "Chicken of the sea" : TUNA
56. 2016 Olympics host, informally : RIO
57. Bird whose name is also the initials of a school in Ypsilanti : EMU
58. Dampen : WET

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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