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New York Times, Monday, July 31, 2017

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
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5656921181
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This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVX} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 66 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is finished, read the circled letters roughly clockwise, starting with the first letter of 68-Across, to spell the name of an appropriate landmark.
David Steinberg notes: I constructed this puzzle a few months ago after reading one of Will Shortz's Cruciverb announcements about his inventory. I ... more
David Steinberg notes:

I constructed this puzzle a few months ago after reading one of Will Shortz's Cruciverb announcements about his inventory. I saw that he was shortest on Sundays and Thursdays, which was no surprise because those are the hardest ones for me to come up with. But I also noticed he was short on Mondays, which interested me because I'd never given much thought to constructing early-week puzzles. So the next time I sat down to construct something, I decided to target Monday instead of Friday/Saturday.

One of the first things that came to mind for some reason was Seattle. In between long stretches of living in California, I lived in the Seattle area for four years, which is where I first started constructing crosswords (for a fifth-grade project—see photo!). So I thought it would be fitting to pay homage to my "crossword roots."

I knew pretty early on that I wanted the focus of the puzzle to be the Space Needle grid art. Luckily, SPACE NEEDLE was the perfect length to make a grid art design out of, though it took me a few tries to come up with a convincing enough Space Needle. Once I realized that PIKE PLACE MARKET was 15-letters long, I was off and rolling. Noticing that the reveal SEATTLE would fit right between the S and the last E of SPACE NEEDLE was a huge stroke of luck, and I quickly banged out the rest of the grid from there. In fact, I was all set to send a version of the puzzle with RuIN/YuLE in the upper left corner when I noticed I could change RuIN to RAIN. After all, what puzzle about Seattle is complete without mentioning its signature weather? I initially worried that I wouldn't be able to balance RAIN with another theme entry, but fortunately, PIER came to the rescue.

All in all, I had a lot of fun constructing this one, and I hope Seattleites appreciate the shoutout! And who knows, I just might be back with more early-week offerings :).

Jeff Chen notes: Shout out to the 2-0-6! (SEATTLE's area code.) PIKE PLACE MARKET is a fun place to hang out — there's a piroshki place I love, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Shout out to the 2-0-6! (SEATTLE's area code.) PIKE PLACE MARKET is a fun place to hang out — there's a piroshki place I love, and don't get me started on the fresh mini-donuts — and indeed, we do have eleventy-billion COFFEE SHOPs here.

Nice bonus in the SPACE NEEDLE visual, and what an elegant touch to have SPACE NEEDLE start and end at the start and end of SEATTLE! The visual doesn't quite have the right dimensions (see right), but it would be difficult to make it any more accurate unless you added several more circles to better define the shape.

Speaking of those circled letters, it's so tough to work around fixed letters, especially when you jam them into a space that's as big as the south section. Great work down there, so smooth, along with the bonuses of RAT RACE and TITANTIC, with just a RIATA as a price to pay.

Well, there's MOLESTS. Yikes. I'd go far, far, far out of my way to avoid this word in a grid. Double yikes. I'd personally have sent the puzzle back for revision, accepting two or three dabs of crossword glue in its place if necessary.

Some ELKE, TAI, IST, but that's a lot less than I would have expected given all the SPACE NEEDLE letters fixed into place, as well as all the themers.

What fun bonuses in PERMIT ME and KEEP LEFT. The latter is more workmanlike, but I love the unMondayish clue, using wordplay around liberalism.

All in all, this Seattleite enjoyed the hometown love. It was a bit too much of a random listing — and PUGET SOUND wouldn't be in my top ten of things to include, and STARBUCKS felt like a big omission (the local joke is that you can throw a rock 50 feet in any direction and hit a Starbucks) — but such a nice touch of SPACE NEEDLE intersecting so perfectly with SEATTLE.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0731 ( 24,737 )
Across Down
1. "Star ___ Beyond" (2016 film) : TREK
5. "Are you interested in doin' this?" : WANNA
10. Livens (up) : PEPS
14. Harvard's archrival : YALE
15. Taking a nap, say : INBED
16. "Night" author Wiesel : ELIE
17. Downtown 68-Across attraction : PIKEPLACEMARKET
20. Without guaranteed payment : ONSPEC
21. Big brand of glue : ELMERS
22. Vientiane's country : LAOS
24. ___ B'rith : BNAI
25. Spiked medieval clubs : MACES
28. Mai ___ (cocktail) : TAI
30. March 17 honoree, for short : STPAT
34. Starting from : ASOF
35. Bamboo-eating bear : PANDA
37. Stubborn animal : MULE
38. Gold, frankincense or myrrh, for baby Jesus : GIFT
39. Soda bottle measure : LITER
40. Grade A items in the dairy aisle : EGGS
41. Clumsy person : OAF
42. 68-Across baseball player : MARINER
44. Devour : EAT
45. 2,000 pounds : ONETON
47. French edict city : NANTES
49. Mathematician whose name sounds like a fuel ship : EULER
51. Fills to capacity : SATES
52. Trash or compost : WASTE
54. Suffix with real or surreal : IST
56. Tree's support system : ROOTS
59. "What'd you say?" : HUH
60. Pancake-flipping implement : SPATULA
63. Large tea container : URN
64. Answer at the altar : IDO
65. Ship featured in a 1997 megafilm : TITANIC
66. Actress Vardalos : NIA
67. Move really fast : ZIP
68. City that's the subject of this puzzle : SEATTLE
69. Pomeranian, e.g. : DOG
1. Spell-checker target : TYPO
2. Common 68-Across forecast : RAIN
3. Antlered animals : ELKS
4. Liberal's favorite road sign? : KEEPLEFT
5. Radioer's word after "Roger" : WILCO
6. Santa ___ winds : ANA
7. "The Voice" airer : NBC
8. Hillary Clinton ___ Rodham : NEE
9. Some slogan writers : ADMEN
10. Chivalrous offer : PERMITME
11. Sommer of 1960s-'70s films : ELKE
12. Waterfront 68-Across location : PIER
13. Dips below the horizon : SETS
18. Small, spherical vegetables : PEAS
19. "Woe is me!" : ALAS
23. It goes from one story to another : STAIR
24. Obama's veep : BIDEN
25. Mr. ___ (nearsighted toon) : MAGOO
26. From east of the Urals : ASIAN
27. Business on every block in 68-Across, so it's said : COFFEESHOP
29. Opposed to : ANTI
31. Body of water that 68-Across is on : PUGETSOUND
32. Fish tank buildup : ALGAE
33. Exams : TESTS
35. Vehicle with wings and a nose : PLANE
36. Gladiator fight site : ARENA
42. Pesters repeatedly : MOLESTS
43. Hurry of modern life : RATRACE
46. King who died in his late teens : TUT
48. "The Matrix" hero : NEO
50. Cowboy's rope : RIATA
51. Fire-eating, for one : STUNT
52. Expert, informally : WHIZ
53. Automaker with a four-ring logo : AUDI
55. On-base percentage, e.g. : STAT
57. Half of a sextet : TRIO
58. Stocking problem : SNAG
61. Dessert divided into slices : PIE
62. ___ Wayne, rapper with the #1 hit "Lollipop" : LIL

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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