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New York Times, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Author:
Matthew Sewell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/24/20163/11/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2104011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65121
Matthew Sewell

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Sewell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matthew Sewell notes:
I hope solvers share my pleasure in seeing CALVINBALL in a New York Times puzzle. It's such an evocative idea of pure creative play, ... read more

I hope solvers share my pleasure in seeing CALVINBALL in a New York Times puzzle. It's such an evocative idea of pure creative play, and I liked balancing it with the more contemplative POOHSTICKS — very different visions of childhood (and philosophies of life), each lovely in their own ways.

I'm grateful to Will and Joel for their improvements to this grid, and I'm also indebted to two other editors who've helped immeasurably in my development as a constructor: Stan Newman and Brad Wilber. Brad's mentorship in particular has been a great boon to me — even though he had no direct involvement with this puzzle, it's fair to say it wouldn't exist without him — and I'm very happy to be able to acknowledge that publicly.

Jeff Chen notes:
I came so close to giving this the POW. It reminded me of a friend's tweet to the effect of 'I would be so into fantasy football if I ... read more

I came so close to giving this the POW. It reminded me of a friend's tweet to the effect of "I would be so into fantasy football if I could draft a dragon." There's something so entertaining about the imagination and creativity involved there. And CALVINBALL fits that to a tee, what with its crazy rules, constantly being added / changed / subtracted. Brilliant!

POOHSTICKS is fun too — I didn't recognize it even as a Milne fan, but the name made me want to look it up. Quaint game, dropping sticks into a river and "racing" them. QUIDDITCH also amused me, but it's not nearly as whimsical as the first two.

Those three Star Wars movies were so abysmal. POD RACING in particular felt like a marketing team pushing Lucas to come up with something they could use to sell toys to kids. Sigh. Man oh man, I hated POD RACING.

My personal icky feelings around POD RACING aside, a nice debut grid. I've had the pleasure of working with Matt on a grid that was recently accepted, and I loved seeing some of his style come out in CONTRETEMPTS (what a great word!), SOUNDTRACKS, KICK ME / EDISON. Always fun to see what constructors select for their puzzles, especially what they pick for long bonus fill — that's where a person's voice often really comes through.

It's a tough construction, what with FANTASY SPORTS in the middle of the puzzle, and four more themers spread around. That QUIDDITCH / POOHSTICKS overlap is unsurprisingly the crunchiest area, with ILO / UNCAS / ROSEN. They're all fair game for a Wednesday, but it did feel like a pile-up of toughies. Even after all this time, ILO and ILA are hard for me to distinguish, so it'd be tough to be a non-baseball fan today to figure out if RASEN or ROSEN seemed more reasonable.

ADDED NOTE: as reader David Glasser points out, the clue for ILO makes it more fair; an anagram of OIL. But interesting that David's trouble spot was the ROSEN / UNCAS crossing!

But a few gluey spots (TV TAPE is a thing? KGS is usually KG.) is par for the course on a construction like this. Glad to see Matt make his debut with a really fun theme idea and some colorful bonus fill.

Jim Horne notes:

Clever theme.

1
T
2
A
3
S
4
K
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R
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M
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P
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W
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C
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B
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W
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O
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0824 ( 24,396 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. To-do list item : TASK
5. Skatepark features : RAMPS
10. Something in a KFC bucket : WING
14. YouTube journal : VLOG
15. Main ingredient in soubise sauce : ONION
16. Lake ___, home of Presque Isle : ERIE
17. T-shaped crosses : TAUS
18. Activity for Hobbes : CALVINBALL
20. One of the Wilson sisters of rock's Heart : ANN
21. Cash crop in Colombia : COCA
22. Election-influencing org. : PAC
23. Activity for Anakin Skywalker : PODRACING
26. Colorful parrot : MACAW
30. Start, as an adventure : ENTERON
31. "I'll have another" : ONEMORE
33. Coastal inlet : RIA
34. Pro org. with Christmas Day games : NBA
35. ___ neutrality : NET
36. Field of DraftKings and FanDuel ... or 18-, 23-, 52- and 58-Across? : FANTASYSPORTS
41. "Return to Amish" channel : TLC
42. Commandments possessive : THY
43. Duffer's delight : PAR
44. Flaky Greek pastry : BAKLAVA
47. Most perceptive : KEENEST
51. Adams who photographed Yosemite : ANSEL
52. Activity for Harry Potter : QUIDDITCH
54. Some univ. instructors : TAS
56. Mark Harmon police series : NCIS
57. Baseball's steroid ___ : ERA
58. Activity for Tigger and Eeyore : POOHSTICKS
62. X-rated stuff : SMUT
63. Andrea Bocelli delivery : ARIA
64. Texas landmark that shares its name with a tree : ALAMO
65. "Be on the lookout" alerts, for short : APBS
66. Wisher's place : WELL
67. Al who was A.L. M.V.P. in 1953 : ROSEN
68. ___ buco : OSSO
Down
1. VCR insert : TVTAPE
2. Families-and-friends support group : ALANON
3. The albums "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," for two : SOUNDTRACKS
4. Metric weights: Abbr. : KGS
5. Ornate style : ROCOCO
6. Pain relief brand with early "hammers in the head" ads : ANACIN
7. La Scala's home : MILAN
8. PBS documentary series since 1988 : POV
9. Do a mohel's job : SNIP
10. Part of a modern baby monitor : WEBCAM
11. T. Rowe Price offering, in brief : IRA
12. Nothing, in soccer : NIL
13. Insole material : GEL
19. Identify : NAME
21. Jeweler's measure : CARAT
24. Jockey's strap : REIN
25. Oodles : GOBS
27. Minor argument : CONTRETEMPS
28. Mars, to the Greeks : ARES
29. Like a dog's kiss : WET
32. Power ___ : NAP
34. Bronx nine, on scoreboards : NYY
36. Custardy dessert : FLAN
37. Transport with mud tires, for short : ATV
38. Hoops great O'Neal : SHAQ
39. Pieces of punditry : OPEDS
40. Indian princess : RANI
41. Unknown, on a sched. : TBA
45. Like arsenic in large amounts : LETHAL
46. [sigh] : ALAS
47. Sign on a prank victim's back : KICKME
48. Holder of 1,000+ patents : EDISON
49. Benchwarmers : SCRUBS
50. "Honest?" : THATSO
53. The last of the Mohicans, in Cooper's novel : UNCAS
55. Magi's guide : STAR
58. "Androcles and the Lion" thorn site : PAW
59. 1/100 of a Norwegian krone : ORE
60. Gallery hanging : OIL
61. Grp. that's an anagram of 60-Down : ILO
62. ___ Tomé and Príncipe : SAO

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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