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New York Times, Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Author:
John Lieb and Andrea Yañes
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
155/14/20132/16/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0432204
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60110
John Lieb
TotalDebutCollabs
18/21/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51010
Andrea Yañes

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FQVXZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Lieb. This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Yañes. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
ANDREA: As I'm sure is true of many constructors, I'm thrilled to have a puzzle published in the Times for the first time. It'll be a ... read more

ANDREA: As I'm sure is true of many constructors, I'm thrilled to have a puzzle published in the Times for the first time. It'll be a bit surreal to see a puzzle I already know the answer to! As a biology teacher, I'm particularly excited that my first puzzle has an evolution theme and uses Charles Darwin as a reveal. John was really fun to work with, and his deep experience in these matters paired well with my instinct to push the envelope. I think we've come up with a fun and interesting challenge.

JOHN: Andrea teaches a course on evolution, so we started brainstorming themes related to that and the building up to DARWIN emerged as a fun possibility. There was not a lot of flexibility in theme entries (D, DA, and DARIN did not have many choices) so we were fortunate to be able to get symmetric theme entries. It was great fun making this puzzle with Andrea, going through the various grid layouts and discussing why this theme ultimately did not give us too many options to choose from.

My mom recently started doing the NYT crossword, so I am more aware than ever of the different generations doing the puzzle. TENACIOUS D will, I'm sure, be unknown to her, and to many (we worked hard to make the crosses fair!) but hopefully having a nostalgic BOBBY DARIN at the end will balance things out.

Jeff Chen notes:
D 'evolving' to DARWIN, what a fun idea! I usually think of 'evolving' as one element changing for the better, so my first thought as ... read more

D "evolving" to DARWIN, what a fun idea! I usually think of "evolving" as one element changing for the better, so my first thought as a constructor might have been a word ladder (from ... (some six letter word) to DARWIN?). But word ladders can be pretty dull, so I like the concept here.

Each of the themers is so colorful. DARN TOOTIN, they are! Great work there.

Now that I think of it, the progression from amoeba to invertebrate to mammal, etc. is a kind of growth, isn't it? Okay, maybe this interpretation is a lot more appropriate than a word ladder.

Never mind me. Ahem.

Ah, five themers squished together. That was almost necessary since DARWIN at the very end forced BOBBY DARIN to move to row 12, instead of row 13, where it'd usually be. Everything gets crunched up, and O ME did we get a lot of crossword glue.

Will strives to avoid non-common abbreviations and initialisms since if you don't know them, there's no way to infer them. NMI is a prime example (no middle initial). Along with HALER ORY SYL TAUR ERL etc. it felt like a lot to wade through.

Thankfully, there was a good amount of long(ish) fill to help lift the solving experience, IRON MAN, GAP YEAR, PAR THREE making me wonder if I ATE CROW on my critiques! It's still not a trade-off I would have personally made, but I can see the appeal.

Heck, even BIRYANI, PERUSAL, CASSETTE are pretty interesting. Okay, that's a lot of solid bonus fill! Definitely helps to balance out the grid liabilities.

Perhaps an evolutionary step (sorry, couldn't help myself) would have been to shift DARN TOOTIN all the way to the left, so that DARWIN could be placed vertically, down off that D. Total grid redesign of course, but that would have allowed for better spacing of the long themers (BOBBY DARIN moving to row 13).

Overall though, it was something new for me, and the novelty was much appreciated. Really neat to get a theme from a debut constructor related to her profession!

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0821 ( 25,123 )
Across
1
Galoot : BIGAPE
7
"State of the Union" channel : CNN
10
Datebook entry: Abbr. : APPT
14
Skulls : CRANIA
15
Obama health measure, in brief : ACA
16
Actress Garr : TERI
17
"M*A*S*H" transport, informally : COPTER
18
Augusta National's infamous 12th hole, for one : PARTHREE
20
Bill ___, the Science Guy : NYE
21
Comedy rock duo featuring actor Jack Black : TENACIOUSD
23
Queen Gertrude's "alas" in "Hamlet" : OME
24
Kit ___ (candy bar) : KAT
25
Test, as 46-Across : ASSAY
26
Sacha Baron Cohen program of the early 2000s : DAALIGSHOW
31
Hoppy brew : ALE
32
Infamous bankruptcy declarer of 2001 : ENRON
33
Vest openings : ARMHOLES
36
"Reelin' in the Years" band : STEELYDAN
39
Part of VCR : CASSETTE
42
Attempts : STABS
46
Material that is 25-Acrossed : ORE
47
"Abso-lutely!" : DARNTOOTIN
50
Deli selections : MEATS
53
Opposite of max. : MIN
54
Schubert's "The ___ King" : ERL
55
1950s-'60s teen idol who sang "Dream Lover" and "Splish Splash" : BOBBYDARIN
59
Quite standoffish : ICY
60
Enjoying some me time, say : ALLALONE
61
Embrace the aging process, in a way : GOGRAY
64
Bull: Prefix : TAUR
65
Garfield's owner, in the funnies : JON
66
New Year's Day : ONEONE
67
Comprehends : SEES
68
Lennon's love : ONO
69
Evolution theorist ... or what the circled letters are evolving toward? : DARWIN
Down
1
Include covertly in an email : BCC
2
Avenger in a red-and-gold suit : IRONMAN
3
Hiatus between high school and college : GAPYEAR
4
Pot starter : ANTE
5
Slapstick projectile : PIE
6
Wildlife identifier : EARTAG
7
Quaker Oats' ___ Crunch : CAPN
8
March Madness org. : NCAA
9
Deal breaker? : NARC
10
Fellow Musketeer of Aramis and Porthos : ATHOS
11
Casual reading : PERUSAL
12
Chance to get good seats, say : PRESALE
13
Colors 1960s-style : TIEDYES
19
Spanish aunt : TIA
22
U.F.O. crew : ETS
23
Words of praise : ODE
24
"Roots" protagonist Kunta ___ : KINTE
27
An overtime one counts as a point in the N.H.L. : LOSS
28
More robust : HALER
29
Jazz's Kid ___ : ORY
30
Iraq War concern, for short : WMD
34
Is wearing : HASON
35
Aware of : ONTO
37
When something should take off, for short : ETD
38
Opposite of 37-Down : ETA
39
Fights against : COMBATS
40
Anatomical rings : AREOLAE
41
Ocean shade : SEABLUE
43
Was humbled : ATECROW
44
South Asian mixed rice dish : BIRYANI
45
Show with "TV Funhouse" pieces, in brief : SNL
48
Abbr. for someone with just a first and last name : NMI
49
Self-important minor official : TINGOD
51
Ski lift varieties : TBARS
52
Word part: Abbr. : SYL
56
Setting for "The Karate Kid" : DOJO
57
Shortly : ANON
58
Gambling mecca : RENO
59
Bob ___, longtime Disney C.E.O. : IGER
62
___ lark : ONA
63
Craving : YEN

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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