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New York Times, Thursday, July 21, 2016

Author:
Jason Flinn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1410/9/20137/21/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0112505
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53030
Jason Flinn

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQVX} This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Flinn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jason Flinn notes:
I am trying something different with this Thursday puzzle. Usually, I start with a grid gimmick, and then I identify theme answers ... read more

I am trying something different with this Thursday puzzle. Usually, I start with a grid gimmick, and then I identify theme answers that work with that specific gimmick. Here, I started with a theme category, and then I found different gimmicks to express theme answers that fit the specific category. I'm hoping this results in a fun solving experience in the sense that uncovering one gimmick doesn't necessarily give the whole game away. It was fortunate that each gimmick turned out to use exactly two entries, as this gives the puzzle a slightly more uniform feel than otherwise.

I had a lot of fun with this construction method. I hope you enjoy the results!

Jeff Chen notes:
Is it Friday the 13th? Today we get three literal omens of BAD LUCK: WALKING (under) A LADDER, having a BLACK CAT crossing ONES PATH, ... read more

Is it Friday the 13th? Today we get three literal omens of BAD LUCK: WALKING (under) A LADDER, having a BLACK CAT crossing ONES PATH, and breaking a MIR/ROR. I had always thought that it was crossing a black cat's path that was bad, not the other way around, but it appears that either one is no good.

With a light theme (just 42 squares), I'd expect a ton of snazzy fill, and Jason delivers some great stuff. It was fun to uncover FIREFLY, UNIBROW, Emeril "Bam!" LAGASSE, CORN MAZE, even HOME ICE peppered throughout the grid.

It wasn't as fun to uncover the deep crosswordese ETUI. It's so useful for those common letters, but boy does it evoke the old days where various editors delighted in stumping solvers with esoterica. And crossing it with Mikhail TAL … he definitely is crossworthy given he was a World Chess Champion, but that intersection strikes me as borderline unfair. What with more than a smattering of NSEC, SSRS, the odd plural NAANS, ENA next to RGS, REL, etc., I got bogged down by the inelegance.

At first I was bothered by the asymmetry of the theme answers, but it's really impossible to make them all symmetric. And it was sort of fun to see asymmetry — that's surely another indicator of BAD LUCK. Or it should be.

All in all, it would have been nice to get a little something more, maybe another themer like STEPPING on a CRACK, or even the LADDER oriented vertically (how often do you see a horizontal ladder, except when it's on the ground?), or maybe everything hidden as a mini-theme on a themeless Friday the 13th.

Still, there was enough of a seed of an idea and some enjoyable bonus fill that it kept me entertained.

1
A
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L
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A
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D
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R
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K
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M
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0721 ( 24,362 )
Across
1
See 14-Across : ALADDER
8
___ Kappa Nu, engineering honor society : ETA
11
Agcy. regulating net neutrality : FCC
14
With 1-Across, no-no #1 : WALKING
15
1960s chess champ Mikhail : TAL
16
Geneva-based agcy. : ILO
17
Ulterior motives : AGENDAS
18
Prominent feature of Bert on "Sesame Street" : UNIBROW
20
___ White, singer of the 1991 #1 hit "Romantic" : KARYN
21
Billboard chart listings : SINGLES
22
Is in Paris or old Rome? : EST
23
"Play Time" director Jacques : TATI
26
Shortly, informally : INAFEW
28
Approx. time it takes for light to travel one foot : NSEC
30
Nail ___ : SALON
32
This is one : CLUE
33
"Modern Family" actor : EDONEILL
35
Aid for a long-distance relationship : SKYPE
36
True to life : REALISTIC
38
Battle locale that marked a turning point in W.W. I : MARNE
41
See 19-Down : ONESPATH
44
As above, in citations : IDEM
45
Realm : ARENA
46
New Mexico skiing mecca : TAOS
48
Take back : RECANT
50
15 divs. on old maps : SSRS
52
Chronometric std. : GMT
53
Dinosaurs, informally : LIZARDS
55
First of the Minor Prophets : HOSEA
57
CVS competitor : RITEAID
58
Old lamp fuel : COALOIL
60
___ budget : ONA
61
Crack team, for short? : NSA
62
Supposed consequence of any of the three no-nos in this puzzle : BADLUCK
63
Nepotism beneficiary: Abbr. : REL
64
Zeppelin's realm : SKY
65
Coins : CREATES
Down
1
Have an eye-opening experience : AWAKEN
2
Chef with the catchphrase "Kick it up a notch" : LAGASSE
3
Gave a heads-up : ALERTED
4
Fashion house based in the Big Apple : DKNY
5
"___ see that coming!" : DIDNT
6
Bambi's aunt : ENA
7
Some QB protectors : RGS
8
Needle holder : ETUI
9
Bitter component of tea : TANNIN
10
Harmonize : ALIGN
11
Night light? : FIREFLY
12
Detailed description : CLOSEUP
13
Intimidate : COW
19
With 41-Across, no-no #2 : BLACKCAT
21
Typical Three Stooges comedy : SILLINESS
24
Offshore : ASEA
25
Baba Mustafa, in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" : TAILOR
27
Just a ___ bit : WEE
29
Autumn attraction : CORNMAZE
31
"Full House" twins : OLSENS
34
Word in a wedding announcement : NEE
35
Quick draft? : SIP
37
Target of a 1917 uprising : TSAR
38
With 57-Down, no-no #3 : MIR
39
"Sweet" girl of song : ADELINE
40
Music event : RECITAL
42
Prevents from stealing, say : TAGSOUT
43
Advantage for a hockey team : HOMEICE
45
Staked : ATRISK
47
Hunts : STALKS
49
Tandoori products : NAANS
51
What a canopy provides : SHADE
54
Offensive date : DDAY
56
Relative of a bean pot : OLLA
57
See 38-Down : ROR
58
Ottawa-based media co. : CBC
59
Gondola feature : OAR

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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