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New York Times, Saturday, August 10, 2019

Author:
Anna Gundlach and Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
18/10/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51000
Anna Gundlach
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4311/6/20128/10/201920
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
94566391
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62160
Erik Agard

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 30 Missing: {FJKQZ} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Gundlach. This is puzzle # 43 for Mr. Agard. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ANNA: I'm so excited for this puzzle to exist — this is my first NYT print puzzle, and working with Erik is a great experience. ... read more

ANNA: I'm so excited for this puzzle to exist — this is my first NYT print puzzle, and working with Erik is a great experience. I've had puzzles previously in the LA Times, American Values Club, minis for the NYT app, the Indie 500 and Crosswords LA tournaments, and I'm also now the puzzle creator for Kinfolk magazine. I've been solving puzzles (or trying to) since I was something like ten years old, so this is a kind of huge deal for me.

Erik and I have created puzzles before, which is always wonderful. For this one, Erik provided some 15-letter entries to start a puzzle with. I picked the big central across one, put in 6-Down, and the whole northwest chunk just kinda miraculously fell into place. I'm not the best at making these wide-open themelesses, but I love solving them, so pulling this off felt real good. The smaller northeast/southwest portions were weirdly much harder to get into place. Our original cluing probably skewed a bit more Millennial/Gen Z, but it's nice to see that a lot of our clues stayed in place, or at least carried the same essence.

Jeff Chen notes:
The mysterious clue for DEAR SANTA would have earned this puzzle the POW! alone. That huge SE corner, so hard to break into, made it ... read more

The mysterious clue for DEAR SANTA would have earned this puzzle the POW! alone. That huge SE corner, so hard to break into, made it even more baffling, given that I had precious few crossing letters to help me out. What a wow-moment when I realized that "anti-coal" was misdirecting away from children's desire to stay on the "nice" list and get toys instead.

I'll be holding this one up as the paragon, the perfect themeless entry/clue pair. Great entry + sizzlingly clever clue = Jeff has to go find the socks that Anna and Erik knocked off.

But wait, there's more! Big NW / SE corners like these are notorious for not being fillable with color and creaminess. LIES AHEAD doesn't do much, yes, but STEADICAM over POWER MOVE is delightful. IM HERE TO HELP running through both is fantastic. And if EWELL is your weak link, that's a huge win. (He was a biggish star in his day, so crossworthy.)

AND a central grid-spanner running through the triple-stacks in the SW / NE? What did I expect? I tell you what, not something as great as WHAT DO YOU EXPECT!

This is such a difficult construction. Any 68-worder is hard. Throw in:

  1. two gigantic corners,
  2. long answers running through said big corners, and
  3. a grid-spanner,

and there's no way a puzzle should be this silky and sparkly. HALTER TOP, MOUSE POINTER, PARASITIC, OWNERSHIP, it's all so good. Some might even say ITS LIT.

(Some who are hipper than me. See: TURNT is a thing?)

Some might ask why I put OWNERSHIP on that list of sizzlers. It's just a ho-hum word, right? Yes, but give it a riddly clue like [It can pass when you pass] and heck yeah, it's an asset.

A couple of blips in IDONT OPPS RES TAI don't even matter when your overall product is this entertaining and smooth. It's such a pleasure when I know immediately, without a doubt, that a puzzle is POW!-worthy.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0810 ( 25,477 )
Across
1
What takes motion out of motion pictures? : STEADICAM
10
Goddess of spring and rebirth : MAIA
14
Superiority-asserting action : POWERMOVE
15
Drunk, in modern slang : TURNT
16
Is to come : LIESAHEAD
17
Wiped out : ATEIT
18
Fair game : ALLOWED
19
Parody : IMITATE
21
Certain online food critic : YELPER
22
Prefix with car : ECO
23
Place for a tab : CAN
24
Wine lover's favorite team? : REDS
26
Persuaded to take a higher-priced option : UPSOLD
29
Enemies, in slang : OPPS
33
Lose balance : TIP
34
Women who were legally permitted to drive for the first time in 2018 : SAUDIS
35
Response to someone with unrealistic hopes : WHATDOYOUEXPECT
38
"Take your time" : NORUSH
39
Word whose musical sense was added to Merriam-Webster dictionaries in 1986 : RAP
40
Competitor of Petro-Canada : ESSO
41
Green-light : ENABLE
42
Some baskets : TWOS
44
Business card abbr. : RES
45
California W.N.B.A. team, on scoreboards : LAS
47
"This party's poppin'!" : ITSLIT
52
Boo-boos : SLIPUPS
55
Off guard : UNREADY
56
Discover serendipitously : HITON
57
Article of summer wear : HALTERTOP
59
___ Montoya, swordsman in "The Princess Bride" : INIGO
60
Woman's name that's an anagram of INTERNEES : ERNESTINE
61
Body parts that sound like some units of measure : PECS
62
Start of an anti-coal petition : DEARSANTA
Down
1
Spread out : SPLAY
2
Fabric whose name is French for "cloth" : TOILE
3
Tom ___, co-star of Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch" : EWELL
4
"Venus and the Cat" author : AESOP
5
Storage site : DRAWER
6
"Let me assist you" : IMHERETOHELP
7
Like some rec leagues : COED
8
Palindromic woman's name : AVA
9
Cry on a battlefield : MEDIC
10
Unlikely entrant in a Westminster show : MUTT
11
Some demographic data : AREACODES
12
Emphasized : INITALICS
13
Deals with : ATTENDSTO
15
Mai ___ : TAI
20
Arrow on a screen : MOUSEPOINTER
22
Field for gamers : ESPORTS
25
Kind of project for a hardware store customer, in brief : DIY
27
Goddess of peace : PAX
28
Person whom people take their complaints to, informally : SUPE
29
It can pass when you pass : OWNERSHIP
30
Connection to the outside world : PHONELINE
31
Spongelike : PARASITIC
32
Proof of purchase, perhaps : STUB
36
Certain connection for a 30-Down, for short : DSL
37
Negotiating partner with G.M. : UAW
43
Natural ager : STRESS
46
Flicked, in a way : ASHED
48
Competitor of Stearns & Foster : SERTA
49
Music store category : LATIN
50
Words before know, care or mind : IDONT
51
Most serious kind of flu : TYPEA
53
Fad game of the 1990s : POGS
54
Unnamed individual from Italy : UNO
55
It reaches to touch one's hand : ULNA
58
What you can take that I can't? : ARE

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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