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New York Times, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Author: Mark Diehl
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
7311/11/19848/18/20183
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3214719352
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1.571038
Mark Diehl

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 73 for Mr. Diehl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark Diehl notes: Constructing a themeless puzzle is hardly like navigating a major river — the fill rarely flows smoothly and obviously to ... more
Mark Diehl notes:

Constructing a themeless puzzle is hardly like navigating a major river — the fill rarely flows smoothly and obviously to completion. It is much more like navigating an unfamiliar river delta filled with a variety of channels to pursue. At some points along the journey, there may be picturesque entries to savor and exhilarating rushes of discovery, but there will also be stale shallows, stagnant pools, and even dead ends that force retracing one's progress, sometimes all the way back to the start!

Today's puzzle was my favorite course, but pictured to the right and left were a few other lower deltas I explored and left behind.

Hopefully, you enjoyed the boat ride I chose for you.

And Jeff, feel free to add ARGON LASER, ANTIVIRALS, ACACIA OIL, and TOWEL RINGS to the excellent XWord Info Word List [plug, plug]! Maybe someone else can debut them.

Jeff Chen notes: A surprise to see Mark build a 70-worder! He usually stays in low word-count territory, and does so often using no cheater squares, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A surprise to see Mark build a 70-worder! He usually stays in low word-count territory, and does so often using no cheater squares, making for grids with eye-popping wide-open white spaces.

I'm amused by Mark's tradition of including dental-related entries, always clued in funny ways. (Mark is a dentist.) Today is no different, with DENTAL EXAM being an [Open investigation?]. An open case, indeed!

I like his care to avoid short gluey bits, dipping only into a bit of AQUI, ELAL stuff. Those could even be argued to be perfectly fine.

And some great feature entries. DATA MINERS, the STETSON HAT, CITY PLAZA, the MARCH HARE ... who I embarrassingly thought was the White Rabbit. Huh. Apparently, they're two different characters.

RAT POISON was a bit grim. Yikes.

And I think I love AQUAZUMBA? Not sure, since it didn't seem like a real thing at first (no Wikipedia entry? Wiki-editors, get on that!). But as is often the case, I was wrong. And even though it wasn't familiar to me, AQUA + ZUMBA = Zumba in the water. Easy enough to figure out.

A couple of other entries gave me an equal feeling of unfamiliarity. I'm used to that in Mark's low word-count stuff, where he might need to use an unusual long entry to make the grid work. Today, it was FORETASTE and MUD FACIAL (mud mask?). They both made sense when I thought about them and looked them up, but they didn't hit me with a feeling of elation as I solved.

Fantastic clue in [Private leaders]. Coming from a business background, I was thinking C-suite people (CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.), as in private industry. Nope, army privates led by CORPORALS!

Overall, plenty of goodness within this well-crafted puzzle to keep me entertained. Knowing Mark's mark of working in dental entries made me enjoy it even more.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0818 ( 25,120 )
Across Down
1. Certain fish ... or sailboats : SKIPJACKS
10. Jon of 2010's "The Town" : HAMM
14. Cover for a cowboy : STETSONHAT
15. Here, in Honduras : AQUI
16. Beset, as a castle : LAYSIEGETO
17. Garb : DUDS
18. Ones frequently called on to give, for short : ALUMS
19. Makeshift fly swatter : SHOE
21. Toward the poop deck : AFT
22. ___ the King Prawn (Muppet in "Muppets Tonight") : PEPE
23. Urban open space : CITYPLAZA
26. Hit with a charge : TASE
27. Charm : SEDUCE
29. Tea party member : MARCHHARE
34. Ones in charge, for short : ADMIN
35. Primitive wind instrument : OCARINA
36. Turned : GONEBAD
38. Story of past glories, maybe? : ATTIC
39. Private leaders : CORPORALS
41. City along the old Oregon Trail : TOPEKA
43. IV, to III : HEIR
44. Hint of things to come : FORETASTE
46. Up to snuff : ABLE
50. Priest in the Books of Samuel : ELI
51. "___ problem" : NOTA
52. Suffer in the sun : BROIL
53. Picked rock against paper, say : LOST
55. Open investigation? : DENTALEXAM
58. State as a matter of fact : AVOW
59. Computer statisticians : DATAMINERS
60. TV host who won a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor : LENO
61. Ink holders : STAMPPADS
1. Like twice-told tales : STALE
2. Make psyched : KEYUP
3. "You know who I am" : ITSME
4. Symbols of wave functions : PSIS
5. Regular guy : JOE
6. Lee with three Oscar-garnering films : ANG
7. President between James and Grover : CHESTER
8. Lead female role in "Singin' in the Rain" : KATHY
9. Gets down, in a way : STOOPS
10. Made a meal of : HAD
11. In-pool fitness program : AQUAZUMBA
12. Rejuvenating treatment at a spa : MUDFACIAL
13. Vegetable aisle freshener : MIST
14. Give an unexpected hand : SLAP
20. Rigby of songdom : ELEANOR
23. "My Kind of Town" lyricist : CAHN
24. Almost-sacrificed son in the Bible : ISAAC
25. Summer : ADDER
26. Add cornstarch to : THICKEN
28. ___ of the earth : ENDS
29. Defensive ring : MOAT
30. Selfless gesture : ACTOFLOVE
31. One use for arsenic : RATPOISON
32. Former news agent : CRIER
33. Gulf Coast flier : EGRET
37. Concern for TV's Aunt Bee : OPIE
40. Mariah Carey holiday song that was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit : OHSANTA
42. Out of sync : ATODDS
45. Irked constantly : ATEAT
46. Curling venue : ARENA
47. Exchanged some crosses : BOXED
48. Figures in a classic logic problem : LIARS
49. National Mall liners : ELMS
50. Airline in the early 1950s' Operation Ali Baba : ELAL
52. Minor deviation : BLIP
54. Derek Jeter's retired number : TWO
56. Top of Scotland : TAM
57. Bit of dance club equipment : AMP

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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