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New York Times, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Author:
Matthew Sewell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
108/24/20167/18/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2104111
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
5
R
6
A
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M
8
P
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S
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W
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I
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N
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G
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V
L
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G
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N
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E
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A
U
S
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C
A
L
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I
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B
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A
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C
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A
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P
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P
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D
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G
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M
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W
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O
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R
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A
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N
B
A
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N
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T
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F
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N
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A
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S
Y
S
P
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O
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R
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T
L
C
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T
H
Y
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P
A
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B
A
K
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L
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A
V
A
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K
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E
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S
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A
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Q
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U
I
D
D
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C
H
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N
C
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E
R
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P
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O
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H
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C
K
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S
M
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A
R
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A
L
A
M
O
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A
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B
S
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W
E
L
L
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R
O
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N
68
O
S
S
O
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0824 ( 24,396 )
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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