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New York Times, Saturday, July 15, 2017

Author: Zachary Spitz
Editor: Will Shortz
Zachary Spitz
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {FJQY} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Spitz. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zachary Spitz notes: I made this puzzle last summer, after watching too much of the Republican National Convention. I don't think I consciously tried ... more
Zachary Spitz notes:

I made this puzzle last summer, after watching too much of the Republican National Convention. I don't think I consciously tried to make a Trump-themed puzzle, but let's just say that my seed answers were TAX EVASION up top and TWEETSTORM down below. Given that, I'm especially pleased with the bottom right corner, which turned out very... presidential. 25-Across!

I can only assume that the editors sensed the vibe, because they changed my original clues for 25- and 28-Across and made them both [Deplorable]. I also really like their new clues for TAX EVASION and LIAR. Happy to see that my clues for ARSE and LIRA made it, though I'm still in mourning for my original ROOK clue, which was [Half of a straight couple?].

They also changed some squares in the top right corner, presumably to be able to clue 20- and 21-Across as a full name (my submission had RENDS at 13-Down and TWIST at 14-Down). These changes had the unfortunate and/or humorous effect of juxtaposing 11-Across with the end of 1-Across, not too far from 22-Across.

Overall, I'm excited to be published on a Saturday!

Jeff Chen notes: Ha! I love it when the Gray Lady surprises me, this time kicking off with the slangy AMAZEBALLS. Maybe it just seems naughty to me, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Ha! I love it when the Gray Lady surprises me, this time kicking off with the slangy AMAZEBALLS. Maybe it just seems naughty to me, or it's often paired with other off-color language? In any case, I'm a big fan, as people in my writing group use it frequently in our discussions.

I can understand how other solvers might not approve — or worse yet, not be able to achieve a correct solve, given the ATTU crossing — but it's hard to imagine something like IMAZEBALLS looking right. Still, I wonder if I'll hear grumblings.

Very good craftsmanship in construction, a ton of sizzling long entries without much crossword glue. I did hitch when filling in ATTU at 1-Down — tough bit of trivia that I'm not sure all educated solvers should be expected to know — but just getting a little of CKS (checks?) and ANON shows careful consideration in the grid. Much appreciated; lent a feeling of elegance.

I felt like there were a couple of long slots leaving potential on the table — DATE SUGAR and IN ONE SENSE aren't as strong as DRAG RACING and IMMOLATES, for me, e.g. — but given that Zach started off with 16 long slots, a few neutral entries still means that we get assets well into the double-digits. Great stuff.

And that bottom stack, hatchi matchi! PLUTOMANIA wasn't familiar, but what a neat word to learn. Along with SEX SCANDAL atop TWEETSTORM = such fodder for active imaginations. I'm usually one for more positive, uplifting entries in crosswords, but that corner is so evocative. Love it.

I didn't get the SIGMA CHI clue — apparently, there's a song called "Sweethearts of SIGMA CHI"? I love a wickedly clever clue, but this one went way over my head. SIGMA CHI is still a pretty good entry, but the clue lessened its impact for me.

The only entry I hesitated on was SO BAD. It felt like a long partial to me, but perhaps that's what the kids say these days? Or is it SO BAD to try to disguise an ugly partial?

I dug this fresh themeless. I imagine there will be some AMAZEBALLS haters, but to me, the jam-packed ton of colorful entries and careful workmanship wins it my POW!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0715 ( 24,721 )
Across Down
1. Incredible, in modern slang : AMAZEBALLS
11. Veep between Al and Joe : DICK
15. Diminishing returns? : TAXEVASION
16. By and by : ANON
17. Like Nafta : TRILATERAL
18. Blazed : TORE
19. The Tritons of the N.C.A.A. : UCSD
20. With 21-Across, U.S. Open champ of 1985-87 : IVAN
21. See 20-Across : LENDL
22. Seat in Parliament? : ARSE
24. Least naive : WISEST
25. Deplorable : SAD
28. Deplorable : ATROCIOUS
31. Maker of Friskies : PURINA
33. The Wasp and Black Widow, for two : AVENGERS
36. Boston Tea Party leader : ADAMS
37. Lets go : OKS
38. Capital whose name means "city inside rivers" : HANOI
39. Sweetheart's brothers? : SIGMACHI
41. It's moved by a keystroke : CURSOR
42. Cantaloupe, by another name : ROCKMELON
44. Pull (out) : EKE
45. Gives a lot of unwanted attention : STALKS
47. Tree line? : ANTS
49. Mammals that may weigh up to 12,000 pounds : ORCAS
50. Tea Party, e.g. : BLOC
52. "PT 109" actor Robert : CULP
56. Cheese, for some : BAIT
57. Excessive desire for wealth : PLUTOMANIA
59. Problem to face? : ACNE
60. Celebrity affair, maybe : SEXSCANDAL
61. Crib : DIGS
62. Digital barrage : TWEETSTORM
1. W.W. II's Battle of ___ : ATTU
2. Podcaster Maron : MARC
3. Japan was a member of it : AXIS
4. Video game character rescued by Link : ZELDA
5. Spacewalk, for short : EVA
6. Castro overthrew him : BATISTA
7. Alternative to "Sincerely" : ASEVER
8. Turkey bacon? : LIRA
9. Something to float : LOAN
10. Show for which Louis C.K. unsuccessfully auditioned in '93 : SNL
11. Sweetener in a health food store : DATESUGAR
12. By some measure : INONESENSE
13. Hammock holders : CORDS
14. Prepared to confess sins, say : KNELT
21. Traditional rite of passage among the Masai : LIONHUNT
23. Scours : RANSACKS
24. 2014 U.S. Women's Open champion : WIE
25. Beauty spots : SPAS
26. Lamborghini owner : AUDI
27. "The Fast and the Furious" activity : DRAGRACING
29. Oscar nominee for "The Great Dictator" : OAKIE
30. Major employer of pharmacists : CVS
32. Offers as a sacrifice : IMMOLATES
34. One that can only go straight : ROOK
35. Part of a pedigree : SIRE
37. Watt per ampere squared : OHM
40. A.T.M. deposits: Abbr. : CKS
41. Throw together : CONCOCT
43. He said "He who knows does not speak; he who speaks does not know" : LAOTSE
45. Desperately, informally : SOBAD
46. Lords of film : TRACI
48. Slight : SCANT
50. Ruined, in a way : BLEW
51. Like a five-star hotel : LUXE
53. Backup software option? : UNDO
54. Trust buster? : LIAR
55. Conceal cleverly : PALM
57. Rose Bowl setting, for short : PST
58. ___ adelante (later on: Sp.) : MAS

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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