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New York Times, Friday, August 25, 2017

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1510/29/201511/14/20180
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3101244
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Trabucco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
This is a weird case where my original seed entry* was deemed a puzzle killer, but Will was interested in the rest of the grid, so I ... read more

This is a weird case where my original seed entry* was deemed a puzzle killer, but Will was interested in the rest of the grid, so I salvaged the puzzle. Unfortunately, this led to the grid having less sparkle than I aim for in my puzzles today — the parts of the grid which can typically shine most are the least constrained parts, and tearing out my only seed then rebuilding that section effectively led to the grid having zero unconstrained regions.

It is pretty clean, though, I think — a bit more flash / personality and I'd really like it. I DON'T MIND, though! I wouldn't have submitted the revision if I didn't think it had enough GOOD STUFF, and I hope solvers agree.

I love writing hard clues, so my recent focus on themeless puzzles has been lots of fun in that regard. My favorites here are for ODOR EATER, PUFFERFISH (also my fav entry in the puzzle), TAROT CARDS, and ULTRASONIC. I also love all the clue echoes Will and co. added — stuff like giving three entries the clue [Test] and the disparate John Hancock references adds a nice sense of cohesion for me as a solver.

Til next time!

*This entry was "MOM, DAD — I'M GAY" which was (fairly) rejected for being arbitrary. I got too attached to the clue [Parental advisory about sexual content?] to realize that, I think (and it's possible that clue is too "risque" anyway). Being more objective and recognizing that other people's experiences / preferences differ from my own has been an ongoing goal for me in construction — and my focus on improving in that arena has greatly improved the puzzles I've made in the year-plus since I made this one (I hope???).

Jeff Chen notes:
GOOD STUFF all around today, Sam jam-packing in so many assets. It's such a rush to keep uncovering great entry after great entry ... read more

GOOD STUFF all around today, Sam jam-packing in so many assets. It's such a rush to keep uncovering great entry after great entry after great entry, SORORITY ROW to NEVER EVER to BANANA PEELS to PUFFER FISH to TAROT CARDS. I count about 13 assets in this themeless, well over my threshold of 10.

I also liked the intersections of TAKE A SNOOZE / DOZE (both using that snazzy Z!) and ASSAY / TRY both clued as "test." There's something so fortuitous about those sorts of crossings in a themeless.

There were a couple of entries that fell flat to my ear. FRESH FACED … hmm. DARE ME? These do appear to be reasonable phrases, at least to Google. I wouldn't go out of my way to incorporate either into a themeless, though.

I wonder if some solvers will complain about HEGIRA and/or ALEWIFE, especially crossing each other? I don't actually mind either, and I'd much rather get a HEGIRA than a DARE ME. There's so much subjectivity in assessing how "good" an entry is, but I'd argue that HEGIRA is an important term in Muslim history, something educated solvers ought to know (or strive to know if they don't).

I do appreciate that DARE ME is more inferable, but just as long as all the crosses are fair, I'd much rather have HEGIRA.

Great craftsmanship overall, with hardly a dab of crossword glue. I'd argue that nearly every 70 (and 72) word themeless should be this clean and sparkly — there's just no reason to settle, given that it's near the maximum allowable word count. We as constructors should rarely — perhaps NEVER EVER — settle for less.

1
G
2
O
3
O
4
D
5
S
6
T
7
U
8
F
9
F
10
P
11
A
12
S
13
T
14
S
15
O
D
O
R
E
A
T
E
R
16
C
L
O
A
K
17
D
E
H
Y
D
R
A
T
E
18
P
E
R
K
Y
19
R
A
S
H
E
S
20
T
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W
O
E
S
22
B
23
B
24
G
U
N
25
H
E
26
G
I
R
A
27
E
A
R
N
28
P
29
U
30
F
F
E
R
F
I
S
31
H
32
A
N
A
33
H
E
L
L
A
34
A
E
T
N
A
35
T
A
N
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E
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T
I
C
37
E
D
38
Y
O
N
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N
D
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R
A
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R
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E
L
S
42
R
O
D
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T
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C
A
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D
O
Z
E
46
P
A
S
H
A
S
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P
A
W
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D
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R
E
P
S
49
F
O
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R
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A
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G
E
R
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H
E
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T
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N
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V
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E
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V
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E
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R
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E
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A
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62
C
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0825 ( 24,762 )
Across
1. "I like it!" : GOODSTUFF
10. They often come back to haunt people : PASTS
15. Shoe-in? : ODOREATER
16. Wear that renders Harry Potter invisible : CLOAK
17. Make very thirsty : DEHYDRATE
18. Cheerful : PERKY
19. Least thought through : RASHEST
21. Sob story subjects : WOES
22. Toy that might cause injury : BBGUN
25. Muhammad's flight : HEGIRA
27. Net : EARN
28. One blowing up when threatened : PUFFERFISH
32. Newswoman Cabrera : ANA
33. Extremely, in slang : HELLA
34. John Hancock competitor : AETNA
35. Like much sandpaper : TAN
36. Drew : ENTICED
38. Thataway : YON
39. Hindu war deity : INDRA
41. Partners of 42-Acrosses : REELS
42. Angling tool : ROD
43. Observation deck of the future? : TAROTCARDS
45. Get some quick rest : DOZE
46. Officials outranking beys : PASHAS
47. Played with like a pooch : PAWED
48. Workout set : REPS
49. Raccoon in a Dumpster, e.g. : FORAGER
53. Focus of "Ocean's Eleven" : HEIST
55. "When hell freezes over!" : NEVEREVER
59. One knowledgeable on tribal lore : ELDER
60. "No problem at all" : IDONTMIND
61. Test : ASSAY
62. TV family from the planet Remulak : CONEHEADS
Down
1. Uranus, e.g. : GOD
2. Work of admiration : ODE
3. Sound of admiration : OOH
4. Test : DRYRUN
5. Malibu, e.g. : SEDAN
6. Popeye and others : TARS
7. Home of Weber State University : UTAH
8. Bash : FETE
9. Looking youthful : FRESHFACED
10. Hallucinogen nicknamed "embalming fluid" : PCP
11. Member of the herring family : ALEWIFE
12. Home to many sisters : SORORITYROW
13. Get some quick rest : TAKEASNOOZE
14. "___ the Limit" (Notorious B.I.G. hit) : SKYS
20. It gives a driver a little height : TEE
22. Order to go : BEATIT
23. Slip causes, in cartoons : BANANAPEELS
24. Gerald Ford's hometown : GRANDRAPIDS
26. Their number increases every May : GRADS
28. John Hancock item : PEN
29. Too high to catch? : ULTRASONIC
30. Superman, notably : FLIER
31. Heavy or ham follower : HANDED
33. Home for gorse and coarse grasses : HEATH
37. Golf Hall of Fame inductee of 2011 : ELS
40. Waters near Mount Erebus : ROSSSEA
44. Half-___ : CAF
45. Response to "You wouldn't do that" : DAREME
47. State capital on the Indian Ocean : PERTH
48. Bird named for a Titaness : RHEA
50. Face-lift : REDO
51. Maker of Scentini fragrances : AVON
52. One with a feature role? : GENE
54. Test : TRY
56. Using : VIA
57. Destroy : END
58. Ways: Abbr. : RDS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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