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New York Times, Saturday, July 4, 2015

Author: Sam Ezersky
Editor: Will Shortz
Sam Ezersky
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
137/28/20123/26/20175
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
00121252
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.75100

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {QV} Scrabble average: 1.98 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Ezersky. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Sam Ezersky notes: This puzzle was constructed just over a year ago, inspired by the interesting intersection of BABA GHANOUJ and JEDI MIND TRICK at ... more
Sam Ezersky notes:

This puzzle was constructed just over a year ago, inspired by the interesting intersection of BABA GHANOUJ and JEDI MIND TRICK at the J. I believe I wanted to do something similar with a Q, X, or Z in the 56A square, but that clearly didn't work out. In all honesty, I don't know what I was thinking, going with the black square pattern that you see here. Yes, it was practically built around the BABA GHANOUJ / GLOW IN THE DARK / JEDI MIND TRICK seed entries, but whoa, I still can't get over how weird it looks.

As with many of my puzzle successes, I can't believe how lucky I got with some of the fill. Sure, let's just try KLONDIKE BAR at 56A and hope something nice comes out of it (LOFGREN / AM I RIGHT). Let's spend hours monkeying around with the top-left and stumble upon the lovely SPELLING BEE and TYSON GAY, both never before seen in a NYT puzzle. Oh look, IDIOT right next to SMART at 25 & 26D. A Scrabble average of 1.98 without anything terribly forced! It's almost as if I know what I'm doing!

One more thing: My apologies to all the solvers that combed this grid looking for an Independence Day mini-theme, and were left disappointed … I must appear so unpatriotic. Truth is, I was quite surprised to see that Will had slotted this for today, though I'm stoked for its appearance on a nice, memorable date! If you are looking for something July Fourthy, however, perhaps today's offering on my website may interest you :)

Happy solving, everyone!

Jeff Chen notes: Nice offering from one of the 20-something constructors. I sometimes do Sam's puzzles on his indie site, and I must confess the vibe ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Nice offering from one of the 20-something constructors. I sometimes do Sam's puzzles on his indie site, and I must confess the vibe is sometimes way too young for me. I miss a lot of references as to what the kids say these days, I know virtually none of the current pop trivia, and his puzzles definitely race past the line of good taste (totally fine for an indie puzzle!). Today, Sam targets a broader audience with some great long entries like GLOW IN THE DARK, SPELLING BEE, RECORD CROWD.

This isn't the mailbox I'm looking for.

I like the unusual arrangement, starting out with a shifted triple-stack pattern in the upper left. This allows him to run GLOW IN THE DARK as well as JEDI MIND TRICK (some references never get old to fanboys throughout the ages!) through the puzzle. Beautiful results; snappy entries without much glue.

I did wonder about AM I RIGHT though. Don't people mostly say/write AMIRITE? And BARF … do people really use that these days? It certainly used to be in vogue back in the 1990s, but has it made a resurgence?

And HOLLA? These types of little oddities highlight the differences in my and Sam's experiences and backgrounds. They all probably sound spot-on to people in his college class, but they gave me some head-scratching.

With a 70-word puzzle, I'd expect to see the gluey entries kept to less than five, and Sam does well there. NIRO always feels like a partial to me (DE NIRO is fine, of course), and MISDID strikes me as not really in usage. Perhaps it's appropriate for a particular sport or game or something? Along with the A COP partial, Sam keeps his liability count reasonably low.

A couple of clues snookered me, so I'll explain them:

  • [Ring-toss item?] is HAT, when you toss your hat into the ring
  • [They come down to the wire] = brilliant! BIRDS fly down to a telephone wire.
  • I filled in [Skipping words?] with TRA LA and groaned. Thankfully, it was I PASS. Fun wordplay.
1
B
2
R
3
O
4
S
5
W
6
H
7
I
8
M
9
S
10
M
11
O
12
T
13
B
A
B
A
14
G
H
A
N
O
U
15
J
16
E
X
O
17
S
P
E
L
L
I
N
G
B
E
E
18
G
Y
M
19
T
Y
S
O
N
G
A
Y
20
D
21
R
A
G
S
22
O
W
E
S
23
B
I
B
L
E
24
M
25
I
26
S
D
I
D
27
M
28
I
A
M
I
I
N
29
K
30
A
D
M
A
N
31
N
I
C
K
I
32
T
M
I
33
M
I
A
34
T
35
H
I
C
K
E
N
36
H
A
T
37
M
O
R
38
H
A
R
R
Y
39
D
40
L
I
S
T
41
A
T
T
42
H
E
Z
O
O
43
S
T
O
C
K
Y
44
B
A
D
D
Y
45
B
A
R
F
46
H
O
L
L
A
47
A
48
M
I
R
I
G
49
H
50
T
51
A
X
E
52
R
53
E
C
O
R
D
C
R
O
W
54
D
55
R
E
C
56
K
L
O
N
D
I
K
E
B
A
R
57
T
S
K
58
I
P
A
S
S
59
N
O
S
Y
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0704 ( 23,979 )
Across Down
1. Mates : BROS
5. Fancies : WHIMS
10. Zinger : MOT
13. Staple of Mediterranean cuisine : BABAGHANOUJ
16. Prefix with biology : EXO
17. Character-building event? : SPELLINGBEE
18. ___ shoe : GYM
19. He became the fastest sprinter in the U.S. in 2009 : TYSONGAY
20. Goes on and on ... and on : DRAGS
22. Takes credit? : OWES
23. Job holder? : BIBLE
24. Flubbed : MISDID
27. Former TLC reality show set in a Florida tattoo parlor : MIAMIINK
30. Many a catchphrase coiner : ADMAN
31. "Super Bass" singer Minaj : NICKI
32. Inappropriate detail, for short : TMI
33. See 24-Down : MIA
34. What a plot may do : THICKEN
36. Ring-toss item? : HAT
37. Neighbor of W. Sahara : MOR
38. Badger : HARRY
39. Classification for faint stars? : DLIST
41. Where "giraffes are insincere," in a Simon & Garfunkel hit : ATTHEZOO
43. Like many a football player : STOCKY
44. Dr. No or Mr. Hyde : BADDY
45. [Yecch!] : BARF
46. Say hi, in modern lingo : HOLLA
47. Question before and after "or" : AMIRIGHT
51. Pink slip : AXE
52. Best turnout ever : RECORDCROWD
55. Work's counterpart, briefly : REC
56. Treat with a polar bear in its logo : KLONDIKEBAR
57. Finger wag accompanier : TSK
58. Skipping words? : IPASS
59. Not merely interested : NOSY
1. Not-so-big shot : BBS
2. Glued to something : RAPT
3. Earn a treat, say : OBEY
4. Stain-removing compound : SALSODA
5. Was a crybaby : WHINED
6. Chills : HANGS
7. Actress Cadranel of TV's "Lost Girl" : INGA
8. Musician who's a great-great-grandnephew of Herman Melville : MOBY
9. Try to have tried? : SUE
10. Like Stonehenge : MEGALITHIC
11. Breather? : OXYGENMASK
12. ___ River, N.J. : TOMS
14. Like some rave accessories : GLOWINTHEDARK
15. Skill used by Obi-Wan Kenobi : JEDIMINDTRICK
21. Result of a squeeze, briefly : RBI
23. Get within range? : BAKE
24. With 33-Across, musical set on the island of Kalokairi : MAMMA
25. Boob tubes : IDIOTBOXES
26. Wise one : SMARTALECK
27. It means very little : MICRO
28. Like creepy-crawlies : ICKY
29. Pool in a casino : KITTY
31. "De ___: A Life" (2014 biography) : NIRO
35. Confused : HAZY
40. Longtime E Street Band guitarist : LOFGREN
42. Cholesterol panel letters : HDL
43. Eatery known for its celebrity caricatures : SARDIS
45. They often come down to the wire : BIRDS
46. Either of two married supersleuths of 1970s-'80s TV : HART
47. Rent-___ : ACOP
48. Villainess Vanderwaal of TV's "Pretty Little Liars" : MONA
49. Type tending to drift : HOBO
50. "___ not to be" : TWAS
53. One adopting the motto "Lux et veritas" : ELI
54. Without any toppings, in restaurant-speak : DRY

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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