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New York Times, Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Author: Jay Kaskel
Editor: Will Shortz
Jay Kaskel
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94/9/20088/1/20175
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1.58030
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Kaskel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jay Kaskel notes: This puzzle was one of those rare instances, at least for me, where I wasn't asked to come up with a better theme fill or rebuild ... more
Jay Kaskel notes:

This puzzle was one of those rare instances, at least for me, where I wasn't asked to come up with a better theme fill or rebuild the puzzle in an effort to get rid of a lot of junk. That's typically not the case. As to any interesting anecdotes, I'd only say that I debated about going with "I'LL BE DAMMED" (clued as Sinner's "Shocking!") in place of "I'LL BE DARNED" (clued as Seamstress's "Shocking!") before deciding dammed, at least in this context, was probably too darn edgy.

Jeff Chen notes: Shocking themers, clued in kooky ways! This type of humor can be hit or miss, but it sure hit strongly with me. There was something ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Shocking themers, clued in kooky ways! This type of humor can be hit or miss, but it sure hit strongly with me. There was something so amusing about a seamstress slying saying ILL BE DARNED, and an astronomer trying to elicit a groan with OH MY STARS!

My favorite was GOOD GRAVY — how is it that I've never used this line at a Thanksgiving dinner?

WELL I NEVER was the only one I didn't laugh at immediately, as I had to think about why a teetotaler would mention a well (and what a teetotaler was — it's someone who doesn't drink alcohol). But then I remembered that a "well drink" refers to a bar's cheap liquor they pour from a spout. So this one worked for me in the end, but it didn't have quite the hilarious impact the others did.

It's a rare early-week puzzle that uses an eye-catching, artistic grid. Something so pleasing about those two "arms" of black squares extending from the left and right sides toward the middle, curling in like spirals. This sort of layout often chokes down puzzle flow, but Jay did a nice job making sure that all parts of the grid connect together without narrow constrictions.

This layout also allowed Jay to work in a lot of long entries. None of them jumped out at me as stellar, but they all do a fine job — INWARDS, ON ORDER, STEP ONE, ITALIANO. I would have liked even one long bonus that I could point out as fantastic, but there's always a trade-off between snazzy fill vs. clean fill, especially with biggish grid spaces like the NE and SW.

I did hitch at the collection of SEL (French for salt), EDS, EER, ATIE, TRE. Nothing major, but in total, it went over my threshold for early-week puzzles.

This POW! choice might come as a surprise to regular readers since crossword glue tends to heavily affect my perception of a puzzle, but the theme concept tickled me so much, and the grid was so neat-looking that I was able to overlook the flaws.

I still laugh, thinking about saying GOOD GRAVY at Thanksgiving. Tee hee.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0801 ( 24,738 )
Across Down
1. Zin alternative : CAB
4. With 6-Down, "Dancing Queen" musical : MAMMA
9. One of the Three Musketeers : ATHOS
14. Baton Rouge sch. : LSU
15. "See you!" : ADIOS
16. Main impact : BRUNT
17. "Shocking!," to an astronomer? : OHMYSTARS
19. Camping craft : CANOE
20. Secures, as an area, with "off" : ROPES
21. Duracell designation : AAA
23. Cincinnati sitcom station : WKRP
24. Mine finds : ORES
25. "Shocking!," to an Ohio tourist? : HOLYTOLEDO
28. Gen ___ : XER
29. Zest : PEP
30. Pommes frites seasoning : SEL
31. Stimpy's TV pal : REN
32. Strange : EERIE
34. "Nothing runs like a ___" (ad slogan) : DEERE
36. "Shocking!," to a seamstress? : ILLBEDARNED
39. Childish comeback : ISTOO
41. Primitive fishing tool : SPEAR
42. Teachers' org. : NEA
43. Sloth, for one : SIN
46. What some shoulders and pants do : SAG
47. English head : LOO
50. "Shocking!," to a teetotaler? : WELLINEVER
53. Something to watch on the telly, with "the" : BEEB
54. End in ___ : ATIE
55. White wine aperitif : KIR
56. Make a case (for) : ARGUE
57. Wanders : ROAMS
59. "Shocking!," to a Thanksgiving guest? : GOODGRAVY
62. Jurassic Park inhabitants, for short : DINOS
63. Mandel of "America's Got Talent" : HOWIE
64. Uno + due : TRE
65. One may be rolling or skipped : STONE
66. Bit of campaign nastiness : SMEAR
67. Multivolume ref. : OED
1. Bleach brand : CLOROX
2. Enjoying Fleet Week, say : ASHORE
3. Part of a pinball machine : BUMPER
4. Atomic ___ : MASS
5. Big letters in home security : ADT
6. See 4-Across : MIA
7. "Slow and steady wins the race," e.g. : MORAL
8. Some lab tests : ASSAYS
9. "The Goldbergs" network : ABC
10. Net that netted Dory in "Finding Nemo" : TRAWL
11. Hid out, with "down" : HUNKERED
12. Yet to be delivered : ONORDER
13. Start of a manual : STEPONE
18. "By all means" : YES
22. Got rid of the munchies : ATE
25. Marijuana, slangily : HERB
26. Onetime Ron Howard role : OPIE
27. Racetrack has-been : OLDNAG
29. Boehner's predecessor as House leader : PELOSI
32. "Strange Magic" band, for short : ELO
33. Mag heads : EDS
35. At any time, to poets : EER
36. Lingua di Luigi : ITALIANO
37. Quiet place to pray : APSE
38. Tail end : REAR
39. To the center : INWARDS
40. Make sure something gets done : SEETOIT
44. It's usually not erasable : INK
45. Sounds from a stable : NEIGHS
47. Smooth, in music : LEGATO
48. Entirety of a composer's works : OEUVRE
49. Followed instructions : OBEYED
51. Car that's hardly a peach : LEMON
52. Racetrack sound : VROOM
53. "I can't f-f-feel my f-f-feet!" : BRR
56. Ending with teen : AGER
58. Chicago-to-Indianapolis dir. : SSE
60. Be in the red : OWE
61. 24 horas : DIA

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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