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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.

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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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