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New York Times, Friday, August 19, 2016

Author: Paolo Pasco
Editor: Will Shortz
Paolo Pasco
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
117/17/201512/8/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1200053
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 27 Missing: {JKQZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Pasco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Paolo Pasco notes: It's weird for me to see puzzles from my more 'beginner' stages of constructing. It feels kinda like being forced to read my ... more
Paolo Pasco notes:

It's weird for me to see puzzles from my more "beginner" stages of constructing. It feels kinda like being forced to read my middle-school journal — looking back there are always some choices I regret making, but at the same time, it's a nice snapshot of who I was back then.

Let's get the regrets out of the way first. My main gripe with this one is that I could have added more sparkle. I do like the entries in the SE stack (the impetus for the puzzle), and the fill overall is solid, but I'd try for some flashier entries nowadays — those stake of sevens in the NW and SE scream "unused potential."

Which isn't to say I wanna burn the thing to the ground — there's still a nice touch of stuff personal to me. It's full of the obligatory references to things I like: 32A and 61A came from the onset of my "Seinfeld" preoccupation (MANdelbaum! MANdelbaum! MANdelbaum!), and there are clue shoutouts for Beyoncé at 23D and (somewhat obliquely) Taylor Swift at 34A. Plus the clue for 8D is my favorite among the clues I've written; did your mind jump to E'ER?

Overall I like today's puzzle (and I'm happy to see it in the Times), but if I made it today, I'd probably see if I could get something more lively. Constructor's qualms aside, I hope you enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: I still chuckle at Paolo's interest in Seinfeld. It's one of my favorite shows of all time, having spawned so many phrases in use ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I still chuckle at Paolo's interest in Seinfeld. It's one of my favorite shows of all time, having spawned so many phrases in use today — but it aired back when I was Paolo's age. It's cool to see how someone from a generation (or two?) behind me shares for all things Seinfeldian. Hands up if you filled in MANSIERE for MAN___! Okay, MAN PURSE is pretty good too, but the "bro vs. mansiere" (a support garment for men) would have made me laugh so much. I'm super curious if that might have been Paolo's original seed entry.

And ITS GO TIME! I laughed so hard when I realized both Paolo and I were thinking "Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum!" (Sorry, non-Seinfeld fans — go watch the series. You won't be sorry.) That phrase right below BRING IT ON = a brilliant pairing. I've been appreciating more and more when themeless constructors figure out ways of putting related entries adjacent to each other.

Paolo uses a grid heavy on seven-letter entries, and some of them are great. BAR BETS always amuse me (especially those employing a trick of physics), BAD EGGS and USO TOUR are nice, and although STAN LEE is just an abysmal actor in his movie cameos, I greatly admire what he's done. He's been so incredibly productive.

As with many seven-letter-heavy themelesses though, I agree with Paolo that there was untapped potential. Entries like WRESTED, GLEANED, EPITOME are fine, but they don't give me the same elation as ITS GO TIME! And ESSENES is a valid word, but constructors have been relying on it so heavily over the years, what with all those Es and Ss so useful in a terminal spot.

I would have loved to see what Paolo could have done by shifting the three black squares above BIG EATER up one row — BAD EGGS / I LOVE LA / GLEANED is a decent triplet, but it felt like a triple of eight-letter words might have made that lower left corner stellar.

With just a bit of ARE NOT (any [Playground comeback] isn't great), DONA (tough Portuguese), TOD (esoteric cartoon name), Paolo holds his grid together well. Some potential left on the table, but man oh man do I love the Seinfeldian feel of Paolo's work.

1
W
2
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A
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0819 ( 24,391 )
Across Down
1. "Come again?" : WHATSTHAT
10. They're put in for work : HOURS
15. Brand whose first commercial featured a cable car : RICEARONI
16. Large-scale detail : INSET
17. Trust issue? : ESTATETAX
18. "Bleeding Love" singer Lewis : LEONA
19. Non-humanities acronym : STEM
20. When repeated, spouse's complaint : NAG
21. Walter ___, Dodgers manager before Tommy Lasorda : ALSTON
22. "The Fox and the Hound" fox : TOD
23. Dish that often has pea pods : STIRFRY
25. Medium for many 13-Down : OIL
26. Emmy-winning Susan Lucci role : ERICA
28. "On the hoof," in diner lingo : RARE
29. "Yeah, why not!?" : SURE
30. Kim Jong-un, for one : DYNAST
32. Gendered "Seinfeld" accessory : MANPURSE
34. Shake off : SHED
36. Sticky stuff : GOOP
37. Person with a lot on his plate? : BIGEATER
41. [I find this mildly amusing] : TEEHEE
45. Confederate : ALLY
46. Rush, e.g. : REED
48. Corners : TRAPS
49. Federal div. concerned with gas consumption : DOE
50. They may be settled over drinks : BARBETS
52. Burn : DIS
53. Shakes off : EVADES
55. "If you ask me ...," for short : IMO
56. Give a Yelp review, say : RATE
57. Hometown of Columbus : GENOA
58. "Let's do this!" : BRINGITON
60. Secluded spaces : GLENS
61. "Let's do this!" : ITSGOTIME
62. Yom Kippur War leader : SADAT
63. America, informally : THESTATES
1. Took by force : WRESTED
2. Done for : HISTORY
3. Was on the cast of : ACTEDIN
4. ___ U.S.A. : TEAM
5. Sr. stress source : SAT
6. Reznor of Nine Inch Nails : TRENT
7. What blowhards blow : HOTAIR
8. On end, to Donne : ANAGRAM
9. Concert needs, for short : TIX
10. Good for sledding, say : HILLY
11. Gender-neutral possessive : ONES
12. Entertainment for general audiences? : USOTOUR
13. Collection at the Musée d'Orsay : RENOIRS
14. Nonactor with cameos in more than 20 Marvel movies : STANLEE
21. Playground comeback : ARENOT
23. ___ Fierce (onetime Beyoncé alter ego) : SASHA
24. Certain grenade, for short : FRAG
27. Batman? : CASEY
29. "Neat-o-rific!" : SUPER
31. Aquarium fish : TETRAS
33. People thinking on their feet? : POETS
35. Road sign silhouette : DEER
37. No-goodniks : BADEGGS
38. Song that starts "Hate New York City / It's cold and it's damp" : ILOVELA
39. Slowly picked up : GLEANED
40. Comeback : REBIRTH
42. Battled : HADATIT
43. Model : EPITOME
44. Early Judaic sect : ESSENES
47. End : DEMISE
50. The Antichrist, with "the" : BEAST
51. They may grab a bite : TONGS
54. Lisbon lady : DONA
56. Beatles title girl with a "little white book" : RITA
58. Boring thing : BIT
59. Came down with : GOT

Answer summary: 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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