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New York Times, Saturday, July 15, 2017

Author:
Zachary Spitz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
511/18/20152/21/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0012101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63200
Zachary Spitz

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 to ... read more

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, or ... read more

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 )

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Students & seniors
Across
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
Down
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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