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New York Times, Thursday, July 6, 2017

Author: Erik Agard
Editor: Will Shortz
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Erik Agard

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Agard. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Erik Agard notes: I have to shout out two indirect inspirations for this puzzle: -Elizabeth Gorski, the Crossword Nation auteur: it was in one of ... more
Erik Agard notes:

I have to shout out two indirect inspirations for this puzzle:

-Elizabeth Gorski, the Crossword Nation auteur: it was in one of her Crosswords with Friends puzzles that I first saw the triple-black corner design that you see in the NW and SE here. I was like, "Wait, you can do that?? The universe won't implode??" It's bailed me out many a time when I've had to fit in almost-but-not-quite-grid-spanning theme answers, and it was indispensable for this puzzle. Also, I think it looks pretty.

-Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel, the LeBron James of crossword construction: I'm totally biting her style here with these double-stacked long downs (1&2-Down, 33&34-Down).

Hope you dug it.

Jeff Chen notes: It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the gist of today's puzzle. I got stuck on BIRDS, wondering how having two BIRDS ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the gist of today's puzzle. I got stuck on BIRDS, wondering how having two BIRDS in the bush was reflected in the puzzle? Then I thought it might be two BIRDS of a feather, somehow flocking together? That *almost* worked. Finally, Googling turned up killing two BIRDS with one STONE!

D'oh.

I still don't exactly see how that saying is reflected within the puzzle — there are two BIRDS inside MARTIN LAWRENCE and STEPHEN HAWKING (neat finds!) and a stone inside SONY XPERIA and BAMBOO PALM — but how does the STONE "kill" the two BIRDS?

I'm probably waaaaaay overthinking this.

Great grid execution, not a surprise from a master. Erik shows off by interlocking his themers, not an easy task, especially considering that there probably aren't many themer choices that hide two BIRDS. The interlock does force some ugly black square chunks in the upper left and lower right — placing MARTIN LAWRENCE in row 3 necessitates this — but I don't mind as much as I usually do, given the visually pleasing themer interlock.

Funny, Erik's comments about how he thought they were pretty. To each his own.

Also of note are those awesome "parallel downs" — RUM RAISIN / SPARE TIRE and POLE DANCE / SNOW ANGEL are such snazzy answers. Even more impressive is that Erik hardly used any crossword glue to hold everything together there. An ARRS and a KOR, yes, but that's far less than most people would dab on to get such goodness.

Toss in ADOPT A PET and BEEF PATTY too! Erik makes it look so easy when in truth, just making the themer interlock work is hard enough without any bonus entries.

And that's not all. Erik is particularly good at clues, so many shining today. My favorite: [Figure whose wings melt in the sun], making me think it had to be ICARUS. Nope, SNOW ANGEL shares that property. Makes an already great entry glow even brighter.

Erik's constructions tend to be fresh and unconventional (while still maintaining snazz and smoothness), and this one is a prime example. Wish the theme had given me a sharper a-ha moment, though.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0706 ( 24,712 )
Across Down
1. Say "Yeah, I can make it," say : RSVP
5. [Ask me what's wrong] : SIGH
9. Pitt of "The Big Short" : BRAD
13. Scannable symbols on store items, for short : UPCS
14. 2017 Best Play winner : OSLO
15. Mark's replacement : EURO
16. Will Smith's co-star in 1995's "Bad Boys" : MARTINLAWRENCE
19. Some airport times: Abbr. : ARRS
20. Like most clown wigs : DYED
21. Last word of a fairy tale : AFTER
22. Hon, modern-style : BAE
23. Part of a phone plan : TEXT
24. Two-legged stands : BIPODS
25. Tantrum : FIT
26. Madrid's country, on Olympic scoreboards : ESP
27. ___ fides : BONA
28. Like the Nikkei and Hang Seng indexes : ASIAN
30. It uses clicks in lieu of paddles : EBAY
32. Decorates with some rolls, for short : TPS
35. There are two, as the expression goes, in each of 16- and 55-Across : BIRDS
36. Part of a golf cup : RIM
37. There's one, as the expression goes, in 5- and 27-Down : STONE
39. "The Matrix" hero : NEO
40. ___ Xtra (soda) : PIBB
41. Traffic cone : PYLON
42. Sports category prefix : PARA
44. "Help me, ___-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope" : OBI
46. Source of Manchego cheese : EWE
47. Cafe : BISTRO
50. Band whose name sounds like a vegetable : KORN
51. Fish ladder site : DAM
52. Remove ID from, as a Facebook picture : UNTAG
53. Look stunned : GAPE
54. Lots of : MANY
55. Physicist who won a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom : STEPHENHAWKING
58. Nursery item : TREE
59. One way to stand : TALL
60. First word of a fairy tale : ONCE
61. Stripe : SORT
62. Half of a two-volume directory : ATOM
63. Collection of highlights or bloopers : REEL
1. Popular ice cream flavor : RUMRAISIN
2. Little extra poundage : SPARETIRE
3. Betamaxes, e.g. : VCRS
4. S.F. winter clock setting : PST
5. Line of Japanese smartphones : SONYXPERIA
6. Where one might be marooned : ISLET
7. Content : GLAD
8. Question asked in befuddlement : HOW
9. Part of a Whopper : BEEFPATTY
10. Approach quickly : RUNTO
11. Like a rainbow : ARCED
12. Movers and shakers : DOERS
17. 13th, maybe : IDES
18. It often occurs following a car wash, seemingly : RAIN
19. Classic Britcom : ABFAB
23. Hamiltons : TENS
24. "Whew!" : BOY
27. Tropical houseplant : BAMBOOPALM
29. Animal lovers' program : ADOPTAPET
31. Chest protector : BIB
33. Performance that requires a lot of upper body strength : POLEDANCE
34. Figure whose wings melt in the sun : SNOWANGEL
37. Prepare to pin the tail on the donkey, say : SPIN
38. Decepticons, in the Transformers universe : ENEMY
40. Golf ___ : PRO
43. Frustrated exclamation : ARGH
45. Be in development : BREW
47. Unsuccessful draft picks, in sports lingo : BUSTS
48. Opening : INTRO
49. Have the tiller : STEER
50. "The Two Fridas" artist : KAHLO
53. Little annoyance : GNAT
54. "You can't have that!" : MINE
56. Second letter before iota : ETA
57. Two-nation peninsula: Abbr. : KOR

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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