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New York Times, Friday, July 31, 2015

Author:
James Mulhern and Ashton Anderson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2411/16/20096/23/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
012001011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
James Mulhern
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1111/16/20096/23/20176
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100073
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62000
Ashton Anderson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {FJQVZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Mulhern. This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Anderson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ASHTON: This puzzle started off as a collaboration between me and David Quarfoot, but started to gather dust when we both got too busy ... read more

ASHTON: This puzzle started off as a collaboration between me and David Quarfoot, but started to gather dust when we both got too busy with our respective PhDs. Later, I asked him if it'd be OK if I finished it with my partner in crossword crime, James Mulhern, and he said sure. The result is what you see today. James did the SE and I did the rest (except for DQ's seed at 1A, so thanks to him for that!).

The gem of this one for me is, without a doubt, James's SE corner. It's ridiculously fun and surprising and clean. It's a great feeling to collaborate with someone who can pull stuff like that off.

Jeff Chen notes:
AUTOTUNE! If you haven't already seen 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,' it's well worth watching if only for the autotuned opening ... read more

AUTOTUNE! If you haven't already seen "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," it's well worth watching if only for the autotuned opening song. I thought the show had its ups and its downs, but even the bad episodes were made palatable by that awesome theme.

It's a miracle!

Interesting layout today, featuring only 10 answers of 8+ letters. Most of those were pretty strong — DRAG SHOW, ONLINE AD, and HULA SKIRT some of my favorites — but I wasn't sure if GET WEIRD felt natural enough. Is GET BAD or GET CONFUSED or GET WILD equally acceptable ... or just weird? Not sure.

So that places a lot of pressure on the seven-letter answers to generate color and snazz. Of the whopping 18 (!) seven-letter entries, some are quite good. DAS BOOT gets a great clue, describing a amusingly-named drinking vessel. PACHISI teaches us a bit about the etymology of the name. CANKLES is a funny word, although I don't know how well this will go over with certain solvers. (The term is a portmanteau of "calf-ankles". Do yourself a favor and don't look up pics.)

Normally, I love the onomatopoeia of KERPLOP … but as Ashton mentioned a while back, he likes to search for fill where adjacent or crossing answers relate, giving mini-themes. I'm not such a huge fan of KERPLOP crossing TOILET in my morning crossword. Ahem.

STAY DRY and TALK BIG also hit me the same way as GET WEIRD. TALK A BIG GAME, for sure. TALK BIG? Dunno. STAY DRY … okay, it's legit, as in a mom saying ["Keep out of the rain!"]. Perhaps more of a neutral entry for me.

So with a decent (but not outstanding) number of grid assets, I'd expect the shorter stuff to be pretty darn clean. James and Ashton do pretty well in this regard. TKTS is a bit awkward and KERB is pretty out there, but neither is puzzle-killingly terrible. And while some people will hate CAGER, there seems to be dictionary support for it.

Overall, some strong vocab, as well as some that didn't quite hit for me.

1
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0731 ( 24,006 )
Across
1. It often features diva impersonators : DRAGSHOW
9. Some IHOP orders : STACKS
15. Musical tool on Time's list of "50 Worst Inventions" : AUTOTUNE
16. "Reading room" : TOILET
17. Sister brand of Twinkies : SNOBALLS
18. Psychiatrist played by Mia Farrow in "Zelig" : EUDORA
19. "Just like THAT!" : BAM
20. Help in catching an auto thief : BAITCAR
22. Authority on bugs? : SPY
23. Sudanese president ___ al-Bashir : OMAR
25. Slippery sort : SNEAK
26. Join : MELD
27. Donald Duck cartoon princess : OONA
28. A tyre may rub against one : KERB
29. Swamp thing : GATOR
30. Times Sq. bargain booth : TKTS
31. Ziering of "Sharknado" : IAN
32. Cartoon character often pictured on his back : SNOOPY
33. Pip's place : CARD
35. Gendarme's topper : KEPI
36. Cry after a holdup : ATLAST
39. Role in an 8-Down, maybe : TEX
40. What many designers work on : SPEC
44. Is turbulent : ROILS
45. "___ Bell" (Stephen Foster song) : KATY
46. ___ Bell : TACO
47. Max : TOPS
48. One on whom tabs keep tabs : CELEB
49. Lowest of the low : SCUM
50. Fingers : IDS
51. Lower leg woe, slangily : CANKLES
53. Country ___ : HAM
54. Cunning sort : SLYDOG
56. Outing on a river or lake : BOATRIDE
58. Academic award : TENURE
59. Like strawberries during the summer and apples during the fall : INSEASON
60. Drawer of paradoxes : ESCHER
61. Turn awkward, as a relationship : GETWEIRD
Down
1. Oversize Oktoberfest vessel named after a classic film : DASBOOT
2. Go nuts : RUNAMOK
3. Slight '60s superhero : ATOMANT
4. Hunk : GOB
5. Whack : STAB
6. Hipster's dance wear? : HULASKIRT
7. Plug in a browser : ONLINEAD
8. One may be shot on a range : WESTERN
9. Restaurateur's turf? : STEAK
10. Many a vacation package : TOUR
11. Support : AID
12. All but : CLOSETO
13. Sound heard before ripples are seen : KERPLOP
14. Rainy day pleasantry : STAYDRY
21. Rainy day rarity : CAB
24. Cheeky children : RASCALS
26. 20th-century revolutionaries : MAOISTS
29. Country stat : GNP
32. Hunk : SEXYBEAST
34. One of Aesop's animals : ASS
35. Vodka with an "Oranje" variety : KETELONE
36. Chanteuse, e.g. : ARTISTE
37. "Cheerio!" : TOODLES
38. Mouth : LIPSYNC
39. Crow : TALKBIG
41. Game named after the Hindi word for "twenty-five" : PACHISI
42. Land at 0 degrees latitude : ECUADOR
43. Kudize : COMMEND
45. Grasp : KEN
48. Hawk or Pelican : CAGER
51. Heart : CORE
52. Tizzy : STEW
55. "Obviously!" : DUH
57. 2011 Grammy winner Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 5 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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