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New York Times, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Author:
Mark Diehl
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
7411/11/19845/4/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3214719362
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.572038
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 ... read more

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, ... read more

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.

1
S
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K
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P
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J
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C
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0818 ( 25,120 )
Across
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
Down
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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