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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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Students & seniors
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?