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New York Times, Friday, July 3, 2015

Author:
Brandon Hensley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
35/1/20142/12/20160
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0000120
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.71100
Brandon Hensley

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {FJZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Hensley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Brandon Hensley notes:
I am very happy to be debuting my first themeless today! Being a themeless neophyte, I worked with just the single seed ALBUS ... read more

I am very happy to be debuting my first themeless today! Being a themeless neophyte, I worked with just the single seed ALBUS DUMBLEDORE and let the subsequent fill take me wherever it wanted to go.

I spent a long time writing the clues for this puzzle, so I'm happy to see many of my favorites — THETA, DECK, BROMANCE, T-BALL, CIGS (though brilliantly edited to sync up with KIX), and CLEESE — make the cut. I was sad to see my more devious "Vessel of the 'Odyssey'?" for EPIC VERSE, "They call for a change of address" for PHDS, and "Subject of a noted 2007 outing" for ALBUS DUMBLEDORE get altered, but so it goes. I particularly liked the new clues for SEA ICE, RINGO, SLEEPS, and POTUS (which of course post-dates my submission!).

Since writing this puzzle, I've tried to be more careful about words that are almost always clued as part of a common phrase, e.g. POLI and RUSSE. I tried to save the former with the clue "Greek cities" and the latter with "French Russian," but no dice.

I hope that you enjoyed this first effort, and I'd be eager and grateful for any feedback.

ADDED NOTE: I completely agree with Jeff about SEX KITTEN. I would certainly not use that entry (or anything else of its ilk) in a puzzle today, and am sorry that I chose to a year or so ago when I made this puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Impressive debut themeless today. I was leery of those upper right and lower left corners, as a 4x8 space is so tough to fill with ... read more

Impressive debut themeless today. I was leery of those upper right and lower left corners, as a 4x8 space is so tough to fill with color and cleanliness. Brandon already had me with one of my favorite characters, ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, but intersecting him with HAD IT MADE / EL DORADO / AND ... SCENE! in that top right is even better. Very impressed how well he used so many of those long spaces, only paying the price of HALEN and TRAC.

I like a guy whose favorite present is socks

Some die-hard Van Halen fans will disagree about HALEN, of course. But to me, it's inelegant in that it's partial-esque. How are you going to clue it, except for some variant of [Rockers Van ___]? Same goes with POLI, as Brandon already pointed out.

There's so much long material packed in, and I was impressed by how much of it works well. Even QUAKER GUN was really interesting to read up on. RUM RAISIN ice cream feels somewhat outdated to me, but entries like WHITECAPS and EPIC VERSE were enjoyable.

I bet some will love SEX KITTEN, but it really turned me off. That surprised me — even five years ago, I would have pumped a fist with an "awesome!" (Embarrassingly true.) But to the present-day me, this sort of term, while perhaps used in the mainstream 50 years ago to describe Brigitte Bardot, seems awfully derogatory now. I don't think it belongs in the New York Times. An indie puzzle, sure, a specialty puzzle for Maxim, absolutely. Could be that I have a daughter now — sure changes one's perspective.

It had such a strong enough effect on me that I was considering this puzzle for the POW! but seeing it dropped it right out of contention. Yes, it's fun to have cleverly cheeky references in the puzzle, but overt and potentially crass entries feel wildly out of place; beneath the NYT.

All that said, I enjoyed so much of this puzzle, including some impressive work in those very difficult 4x8 corners. And I'm sure some people will point to SEX KITTEN as their favorite entry.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0703 ( 23,978 )

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Across
1
Shore sights on a windy day : WHITECAPS
10
Letter accompanying sin? : THETA
15
Ice cream flavor with chewy bits : RUMRAISIN
16
Van ___ : HALEN
17
Clean up, as text : EXPURGATE
18
Piled on : ADDED
19
Is in energy-saving mode : SLEEPS
20
"Slippery when wet" and others : CAUTIONS
22
Be disposed (to) : TEND
23
Goals of some candidates : PHDS
24
Gillette's ___ II : TRAC
25
Actor Chaplin, Charlie's older brother : SYD
26
Density symbol : RHO
28
Make a dent in, say : DAMAGE
30
"Stop!" : QUITIT
33
Weighed down : LADEN
34
School head in a best-selling series of novels : ALBUSDUMBLEDORE
38
Aloe ___ (some succulents) : VERAS
39
What grows in the winter : SEAICE
40
Summoner : EVOKER
42
Abbr. in a birth announcement, often : LBS
43
Hosp. units : CCS
46
Many a Facebook repost : MEME
47
False god : BAAL
50
___ sci : POLI
51
Frightful : ALARMING
53
Rot : DRIVEL
55
Rock star's nickname derived from his jewelry : RINGO
56
Cheat at hide-and-go-seek, say : TAKEAPEEK
58
Ear bone also known as the anvil : INCUS
59
Genre of the "Odyssey" : EPICVERSE
60
Word after free or press : AGENT
61
Coquettish sort : SEXKITTEN
Down
1
Extracts : WRESTS
2
"Eyeless in Gaza" novelist, 1936 : HUXLEY
3
Loom : IMPEND
4
Set straight : TRUED
5
Kurt Russell's role in "Tombstone" : EARP
6
Purchases that are puffed, slangily : CIGS
7
Big house connection? : ASA
8
Spiel : PITCH
9
Three-time P.G.A. Championship winner : SNEAD
10
All ___ : THAT
11
Was set for life : HADITMADE
12
Poe poem that begins "Gaily bedight, / A gallant knight" : ELDORADO
13
Joan of Arc, at the time of her death : TEENAGER
14
Director's cry with a pause in the middle : ANDSCENE
21
Alternative to EUR : USD
23
Follower of "@" in a White House Twitter account : POTUS
26
Charlotte ___ (cream-filled dessert) : RUSSE
27
Secreted : HID
29
Guinness and others : ALECS
30
Wood painted to look like a cannon : QUAKERGUN
31
The Beatles' "___ Mine" : IME
32
Minor league game? : TBALL
34
Solo at many a wedding : AVEMARIA
35
Demolition job : LEVELING
36
Love of one's fellow man? : BROMANCE
37
Lefty : LIB
41
Column in a box score : RBI
43
Surreptitious : COVERT
44
Sir Lancelot portrayer of 1975 : CLEESE
45
Soft and smooth : SILKEN
48
Chips in chips : ANTES
49
Love of one's fellow man, to Greeks : AGAPE
50
Lab tube : PIPET
52
Guinness superlative : MOST
53
It's divided at the start of war : DECK
54
Sitarist Shankar : RAVI
57
Purchase that's puffed : KIX

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?