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New York Times, Friday, July 21, 2017

Author:
Paolo Pasco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
137/17/20151/19/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300054
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63011
Paolo Pasco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 33 Missing: {QWX} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Pasco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Paolo Pasco notes:
This crossword was born after I noticed something in crossword puzzle forums. Whenever people complain about trivia in crosswords, the ... read more

This crossword was born after I noticed something in crossword puzzle forums. Whenever people complain about trivia in crosswords, the first thing they attack is automatically rapper names. Not, like, the 1950's Olympians or bygone opera stars that show up in crosswords from time to time. It seems like it's always, without fail, the names of popular rappers. It doesn't even matter if the artist in question has sold millions of albums, or how many times their songs have been on the charts— rap references always attract ire from some part of the solving public.

My natural response was to make a puzzle seeded by a 12-letter rap artist. If you're a fan of BIGGIE SMALLS, I hope you got something out of seeing his name in the puzzle. If you're unfamiliar with his name, that's fine too. As long as you feel you learned something.

Rant aside, I like the feel of this puzzle. It's not perfect, but the grid definitely has my vibe. I'm a fan of a lot of the debut entries— 59A, 7D, 21D, and especially 35D have been in my list of seed entries for a while. Plus, I love the works referenced in 5D and 42D, and I'm always glad to sneak a Lady Gaga reference (39A) into the Gray Lady.

Playing you off with this!

Jeff Chen notes:
Love the featured I NEED A MOMENT and BIGGIE SMALLS — I'm not the most diehard of rap fans, but what a great name, BIGGIE ... read more

Love the featured I NEED A MOMENT and BIGGIE SMALLS — I'm not the most diehard of rap fans, but what a great name, BIGGIE SMALLS. You know you've made it big(gie) when you get not one but two awesome monikers that stick (The Notorious B.I.G. is his other one). I also like that Paolo chose a rapper whose stage name is made of real(ish) words, rather than two tough proper nouns, i.e. TALIB KWELI. I have to imagine that for non-rap fans, BIGGIE SMALLS is at least gettable without needing every crossing answer.

So difficult to seed a themeless with 12-letter entries. Those black squares to the left of I NEED A MOMENT already start fixing a grid pattern into place, rarely a good thing for constructors, needing maximum flexibility to move black squares around.

There aren't very many long entries — just ten that are eight letters or longer — but Paolo does include a few nice mid-length entries to spice things up. FAN DUEL is familiar to this fantasy basketball fan, and MINI ME (so tough to parse that French-looking MINIME string), CANAPE, LES MIZ are all nice.

I did struggle around LES MIZ though, as I've seen it written LES MIS, too. Surely there couldn't be a one-name singer whose name starts with Z, right? Wrong! I have (sort of) heard of Zayn (Malik), formerly of One Direction, but I had already put LAID in where LAIN was supposed to go.

Is that south section fair, i.e. should educated solvers be expected to know ZAYN without needing every cross? On the one hand, he did have a #1 hit in 2016. On the other, there are so many crazily-named singers out there, that SAYD or SAYN seems plausible too. I think a clearer clue for LAIN would have made things better, perhaps a "Biblically" descriptor.

MALE GAZE wasn't familiar to me, but it was interesting to read up on — I do like to learn one, maybe two things, from a single crossword.

But GALOP … what an oddball word. It does seem fair(ish) now that it's been in the NYT, but I'd personally try everything I could to excise it.

Overall, some great feature entries, but not enough for my taste, especially given the presence of liabilities like ELLS, SKED, ENSEAL. It's too bad that there weren't more long entries in the grid in total — with just ten long slots, I feel like every one of them has to land with power. Didn't quite happen for me.

1
M
2
B
3
A
4
S
5
J
6
I
7
F
8
F
9
G
10
A
11
R
12
T
13
H
14
E
R
I
E
15
C
A
N
A
L
16
A
D
I
E
U
17
N
O
M
E
A
N
S
N
O
18
L
A
T
E
R
19
I
N
E
E
D
A
20
M
O
M
E
N
T
21
N
22
O
N
E
23
C
U
T
U
P
S
24
D
A
N
G
25
D
R
E
S
S
26
R
27
E
28
M
29
S
30
B
E
L
31
B
I
E
L
32
T
33
R
I
V
I
A
34
A
N
I
35
M
I
S
T
36
I
N
A
B
I
N
D
37
C
A
N
A
P
E
38
A
D
O
S
39
T
I
L
40
K
E
E
L
41
A
42
L
L
O
T
43
R
E
M
Y
44
E
45
N
S
E
A
L
46
E
A
S
E
47
B
48
I
49
G
G
I
E
S
M
A
50
L
L
S
51
A
R
Y
A
N
52
M
E
T
A
L
H
53
E
54
A
55
D
56
J
O
N
Z
E
57
I
D
R
I
S
E
L
B
A
58
A
N
T
E
S
59
Z
A
Y
N
60
S
K
E
D
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0721 ( 24,727 )
Across
1
Many consultants, for short : MBAS
5
Flash : JIFF
9
Wayne's friend in "Wayne's World" : GARTH
14
Waterway whose construction began in Rome : ERIECANAL
16
Word repeated before "to you and you and you," in a show tune : ADIEU
17
Emphatic parental turndown : NOMEANSNO
18
"Ciao" : LATER
19
Words from one about to break into tears : INEEDAMOMENT
21
Master of ___ : NONE
23
Cards : CUTUPS
24
"Ain't that the worst!" : DANG
25
Add oil to, maybe : DRESS
26
Sleep phenomena : REMS
30
"___-Ami" (Guy de Maupassant novel) : BEL
31
Jessica of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" : BIEL
32
Frequent fodder for crossword clues : TRIVIA
34
Believer in spirits : ANIMIST
36
Trapped : INABIND
37
Bit of finger food : CANAPE
38
Stirs : ADOS
39
Lady Gaga's "___ It Happens to You" : TIL
40
Place for barnacles : KEEL
41
Dispense : ALLOT
43
___ Martin, French firm since 1724 : REMY
44
Formally approve, as a document, old-style : ENSEAL
46
No worries : EASE
47
"Mo Money Mo Problems" rapper : BIGGIESMALLS
51
Early Indus Valley settler : ARYAN
52
Devotee of Mötley Crüe or Megadeth : METALHEAD
56
Spike who directed "Being John Malkovich" : JONZE
57
Player of a drug kingpin on "The Wire" : IDRISELBA
58
Puts money on the table, say : ANTES
59
One-named singer with the 2016 #1 hit "Pillowtalk" : ZAYN
60
Plan, for short : SKED
Down
1
Dudes : MEN
2
Dude : BRO
3
Quarterback's asset : AIM
4
Involved with : SEEING
5
"___ the Virgin" (CW show) : JANE
6
Behind closed doors : INSECRET
7
DraftKings competitor : FANDUEL
8
They might be wished for at fountains : FLOATS
9
Polka forerunner : GALOP
10
1949 Hepburn/Tracy courtroom film : ADAMSRIB
11
Initiation practice : RITE
12
This puzzle's constructor, for one : TEEN
13
What words can do, in an admonishment : HURT
15
Christmas decoration : CANE
20
Is forbidden to : MUSTNOT
21
Faddish dance move done to the 2015 hit "Watch Me" : NAENAE
22
Facebook Chat status denoted by a green dot : ONLINE
24
Arizona ballplayer, casually : DBACK
25
Nationalism, per Einstein : DISEASE
27
Modern requests for participation : EVITES
28
Dr. Evil's sidekick in Austin Powers movies : MINIME
29
"Sorry to say ..." : SADLY
31
Marcel Marceau persona : BIP
33
Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
35
Topic in feminist film criticism : MALEGAZE
36
Something prohibited by the Ten Commandments : IDOLATRY
38
Island in San Francisco Bay : ALAMEDA
42
"Do You Hear the People Sing?" musical, to fans : LESMIZ
43
Outbreaks of eczema, e.g. : RASHES
45
Great scores in Olympic diving : NINES
46
Lawful ends? : ELLS
47
State bordering California, informally : BAJA
48
Press : IRON
49
Peer ___ : GYNT
50
Reclined : LAIN
53
They're game : ELK
54
Half a Hamilton : ABE
55
Pop : DAD

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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