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New York Times, Monday, August 22, 2016

Author: Emily Carroll
Editor: Will Shortz
Emily Carroll
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28/22/20164/12/20170
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0101000
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1.62010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQVX} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Carroll. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Emily Carroll notes: So excited to be making my New York Times debut! I got into constructing last year as a fourth year medical student eager to ... more
Emily Carroll notes:

So excited to be making my New York Times debut!

I got into constructing last year as a fourth year medical student eager to procrastinate from working on residency applications by any means necessary.

I think the idea for this puzzle was born from a sweet tooth and an empty stomach. I was initially trying to work "Sour Patch Kids" into an overly ambitious themeless with which I quickly grew frustrated and abandoned. Instead I brainstormed ways to fit it into a themed puzzle and hit on the idea of starting the themers with different "Taste makers". My only regret is that there aren't more phrases starting with umami — and by more I mean literally any.

I also agonized over the "Roeg"/"Gerard"/"Andrei" situation for the longest time and sadly couldn't find a way around it. Nothing like intersecting semi-obscure proper names to start your Monday morning. Speaking of proper names, as a die-hard Patriots fan I'm a little disappointed in the clue revision for 60-across, but I suppose I should be grateful Will didn't twist the knife further and include a reference to Eli's Super Bowl MVP awards.

Thanks for solving and I hope you enjoyed!

Jeff Chen notes: Debut! Emily uses the four main tastes — BITTER, SALTY, SWEET, SOUR with TASTEMAKERS as a revealer. I hadn't been familiar with ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Debut! Emily uses the four main tastes — BITTER, SALTY, SWEET, SOUR with TASTEMAKERS as a revealer. I hadn't been familiar with that last term until recently, but fashion is one of my many areas of knowledge deficit. I like that Emily repurposed TASTEMAKERS into a completely different sphere — tastes of the tongue, not fashion — to cleverly wrap up the puzzle.

Great to get some colorful bonus fill from a newbie! UP TO SPEED, RUSH WEEK, ONE BY ONE, WARM SPELL are all excellent phrases. Unusual to see four long and strong pieces of fill from a debut constructor. Wisely spreads all of them across the grid so none of it is too constrained; relatively easy to fill around. Good spacing is so key. She even sprinkles in some NEATNIK and POP OFF throughout.

There are some gluey bits here and there, kicking off with ACUT, some FEM, AMBI, IRREG, MSS, APO, etc. It's too much for what I like in a silky-smooth Monday puzzle, but a lot of it is minor offenders that's still accessible to novice solvers. For example, A CUT is a partial, but it's relatively easy for a newer solver to fill in. APO (Army post office) is much tougher — especially crossing SPATES. I can imagine someone debating SMATES, SLATES, SPATES, STATES, etc. (SMATES really ought to be a word!)

I would have also liked some way of hiding those four main tastes a little, as the concept made itself readily apparent after uncovering the first two themers. Not sure if this is possible, but SALTY LANGUAGE (such a great phrase!) does so much a better job hiding the taste meaning of "salty" than SOUR PATCH KIDS, which are overtly sour.

As Emily said, it would have been great to get UMAMI, the "fifth taste," but trying to incorporate that into a phrase is just about impossible. It might have been neat to have it tucked in somewhere, perhaps as the last across answer? As a revealer? Or in the middle of the center column? Not sure.

Some rough patches here and there, but a fun puzzle with a couple of great theme entries, along with bonus fill that exceeded my expectations.

1
A
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C
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P
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F
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F
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0822 ( 24,394 )
Across Down
1. ___ above (better than) : ACUT
5. Run one's mouth : POPOFF
11. Bit of acne, informally : ZIT
14. Unhurried run : LOPE
15. Protective tooth layer : ENAMEL
16. Blunder : ERR
17. Archfoe : BITTERENEMY
19. Bikini top : BRA
20. Previous to, in poetry : AFORE
21. Say "Please, please, please," say : BEG
22. Rep on the street : CRED
23. Profanity : SALTYLANGUAGE
27. Official sometimes said to be blind : UMP
29. "___-hoo!" ("Hello!") : YOO
30. Nostradamus, for one : SEER
31. "The Witches" director Nicolas : ROEG
33. NBC weekend show since '75 : SNL
35. Completely wrong : ALLWET
39. Golden parachutes, e.g. : SWEETHEARTDEALS
42. Peace Nobelist Sakharov : ANDREI
43. Title like "The Santa Clause" or "Knight and Day" : PUN
44. Faucet problem : DRIP
45. Prefix with dexterity : AMBI
47. Galahad or Lancelot : SIR
49. Pas' partners : MAS
50. Popular movie theater candy : SOURPATCHKIDS
55. Kite flier's need : WIND
56. Plant, as seeds : SOW
57. Like the stage after larval : PUPAL
60. QB Manning : ELI
61. Influential sorts ... or a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 39- and 50-Across : TASTEMAKERS
64. Teacher's ___ : PET
65. Sudden runs : SPATES
66. "___ Enchanted" (2004 rom-com) : ELLA
67. Attempt : TRY
68. Classic cameras : KODAKS
69. Where to drop a coin : SLOT
1. Jessica of "Dark Angel" : ALBA
2. Hairdo : COIF
3. Fully informed, informally : UPTOSPEED
4. Four: Prefix : TETRA
5. The "p" of m.p.h. : PER
6. In single file : ONEBYONE
7. Group of experts : PANEL
8. Last Greek letters : OMEGAS
9. Opposite of masc. : FEM
10. Travel like Superman : FLY
11. Alphabetically last animal in a zoo, usually : ZEBRA
12. Clearance rack abbr. : IRREG
13. Swap : TRADE
18. Slippery : EELY
22. Like pigs' tails and permed hair : CURLED
24. Samsung competitor : TOSHIBA
25. Fastidious sort : NEATNIK
26. Neuter, as a stud : GELD
27. ___ Major : URSA
28. Like a well-kept lawn : MOWN
32. Depardieu of film : GERARD
34. Pool unit : LAP
36. Period of higher-than-average temperatures : WARMSPELL
37. Charles Lamb's "Essays of ___" : ELIA
38. Kitchen amts. : TSPS
40. Office sub : TEMP
41. Important time at a fraternity or sorority : RUSHWEEK
46. "How tragic" : ITSSAD
48. Kelly of morning TV : RIPA
50. Won the World Series in four games, say : SWEPT
51. Edmonton hockey player : OILER
52. Togetherness : UNITY
53. Terra ___ : COTTA
54. "Put up your ___!" : DUKES
58. Guthrie who performed at Woodstock : ARLO
59. Future atty.'s hurdle : LSAT
61. "Naughty!" : TSK
62. Abbr. in a military address : APO
63. Things eds. edit : MSS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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