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New York Times, Thursday, July 6, 2017

Author:
Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/6/20122/5/201913
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73435361
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1.61140
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
R
2
S
3
V
4
P
5
S
6
I
7
G
8
H
9
B
10
R
11
A
12
D
13
U
P
C
S
14
O
S
L
O
15
E
U
R
O
16
M
A
R
T
17
I
N
L
A
W
18
R
E
N
C
E
19
A
R
R
S
20
D
Y
E
D
21
A
F
T
E
R
22
B
A
E
23
T
E
X
T
24
B
I
P
O
D
S
25
F
I
T
26
E
S
P
27
B
O
N
A
28
A
S
I
29
A
N
30
E
31
B
A
Y
32
T
33
P
34
S
35
B
I
R
D
S
36
R
I
M
37
S
T
O
N
38
E
39
N
E
O
40
P
I
B
B
41
P
Y
L
O
N
42
P
43
A
R
A
44
O
45
B
I
46
E
W
E
47
B
48
I
49
S
T
R
O
50
K
O
R
N
51
D
A
M
52
U
N
T
A
G
53
G
A
P
E
54
M
A
N
Y
55
S
T
E
P
H
56
E
N
H
A
W
57
K
I
N
G
58
T
R
E
E
59
T
A
L
L
60
O
N
C
E
61
S
O
R
T
62
A
T
O
M
63
R
E
E
L
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0706 ( 24,712 )
Across
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
Down
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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