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New York Times, Saturday, August 31, 2019

Author:
Brian Thomas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
711/21/20178/31/20191
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0320101
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1.73010
Brian Thomas

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Thomas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Brian Thomas notes:
Howdy! Excited to make my themeless debut and especially for a few debut entries — HOME REMEDY, BITE MARK, TANIKA, and MISSILE ... read more

Howdy! Excited to make my themeless debut and especially for a few debut entries — HOME REMEDY, BITE MARK, TANIKA, and MISSILE ENVY (which was the seed) in particular! I was really into the Cold War a few years back, learned of MISSILE ENVY from playing a board game with my brother, and had to seed a puzzle with it.

A few other thoughts:

  • The bottom right was the toughest part to fill — grateful that TANIKA Ray was able to make it all come together.
  • Sample size of one, but duct tape worked well for me as a wart-removal HOME REMEDY.
  • I've never even heard of spanakopita until now (that one wasn't my clue), but it looks delicious and is now on the menu for next week.

And, while I'm happy with how the puzzle turned out, if I were making it today I'd try to break up the 15s and juice up a couple more of those middle length entries in the top right and bottom left corners.

Anyways, hope you enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
Solid 66-worder, I'd give it my STAMP OF APPROVAL. I enjoyed the twist on the typical stair stack, Brian working in two 15-letter ... read more

Solid 66-worder, I'd give it my STAMP OF APPROVAL. I enjoyed the twist on the typical stair stack, Brian working in two 15-letter entries to provide extra color. Neat how he managed to weave so much through the five long across answers. HOME REMEDY, TESLA MOTORS, CAPITAL CITY, ON THE LEVEL are all on the level.

Plus BITE MARK and TRIFECTA? For a puzzle featuring so many ultra-long across answers, it's a feat of construction to add in so much more spice.

I wanted to love MISSILE ENVY, but it felt pitchy. Is it because it's a term from long ago that's fallen by the wayside? Or just not that clever, an in-your-face derivation of "penis envy" with no wordplay involved?

I had a similar feeling about BUDGE AN INCH, which didn't seem as strong without DIDN'T in front. Both of these marquee answers are fine, but I wouldn't call them standouts.

Neither Jim nor I knew TANIKA Ray, but this is a perfect example where I didn't mind learning something. She didn't affect my ability to achieve a victorious finish, and TANIKA looks enough like a name that I didn't give it a second thought. Glad to know about her now.

It's so hard to put together a 66-worder with so many long feature answers cleanly interlocked. Overall, top marks for technical execution, but a couple of bite marks for artistic merit.

1
P
2
O
3
S
4
H
5
B
6
O
7
S
8
C
9
L
10
I
11
S
12
P
13
O
C
H
O
14
I
O
W
A
15
T
O
N
T
O
16
S
T
A
M
17
P
O
F
A
P
18
P
R
O
V
A
L
19
T
A
K
E
I
T
20
B
I
T
E
M
A
R
K
21
O
V
E
R
E
A
22
T
23
T
A
X
24
S
K
A
25
P
E
R
E
C
26
E
27
P
A
28
O
I
L
S
29
M
I
30
S
S
I
L
31
E
32
E
N
V
Y
33
R
E
N
E
L
A
C
O
S
T
E
34
B
U
D
G
E
A
N
I
N
C
H
35
E
E
N
Y
36
M
O
T
37
A
E
38
T
39
N
40
A
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N
E
T
42
M
43
A
O
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Y
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O
P
L
A
I
T
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T
R
I
47
F
E
C
T
48
A
49
K
E
E
N
E
R
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I
N
E
E
D
S
O
M
51
E
A
D
V
I
C
E
52
R
U
S
T
S
53
R
O
P
Y
54
E
K
E
S
55
E
T
T
A
56
S
K
I
S
57
L
A
S
T
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0831 ( 25,498 )
Across
1
Fancy-schmancy : POSH
5
Brownish pear : BOSC
9
Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon : LISP
13
Dos and dos and dos and dos : OCHO
14
Locale of Drake University : IOWA
15
Classic TV character whose name is Spanish for "fool" : TONTO
16
Plus sign? : STAMPOFAPPROVAL
19
"Here!" : TAKEIT
20
Impression that's only skin-deep? : BITEMARK
21
What many Americans do on Thanksgiving : OVEREAT
23
Strain : TAX
24
___ punk (music hybrid) : SKA
25
French author Georges : PEREC
26
Cleanup grp. : EPA
28
Some skin care products : OILS
29
1980s feminist coinage regarding nuclear proliferation : MISSILEENVY
33
French tennis player and fashion icon : RENELACOSTE
34
Give a little bit : BUDGEANINCH
35
Wee, informally : EENY
36
Bon ___ : MOT
37
Big name in insurance since 1853 : AETNA
41
ABC, e.g., in Variety-speak : NET
42
Leader of the Autumn Harvest Uprising, 1927 : MAO
44
Brand in the dairy aisle : YOPLAIT
46
Winning an Oscar, Emmy and Tony, for an actor : TRIFECTA
49
More sharp : KEENER
50
"Help me with this problem" : INEEDSOMEADVICE
52
Gets creaky, say : RUSTS
53
Viscous : ROPY
54
Squeezes (by) : EKES
55
James in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame : ETTA
56
What Denver's airport has a special carousel for : SKIS
57
Like Leo XIII among all popes named Leo : LAST
Down
1
Recovery period : POSTOP
2
Stretch between two pitches, say : OCTAVE
3
One of a pair at a dinner table : SHAKER
4
Putting duct tape on a wart, e.g. : HOMEREMEDY
5
What a rain forest is rich in : BIOTA
6
[Wow, that's bad] : OOF
7
Clear the decks? : SWAB
8
What a star may represent : CAPITALCITY
9
Impend : LOOM
10
Like some exotic plants and prying questions : INVASIVE
11
With lots of contrast : STARKLY
12
Many Weird Al Yankovic medleys : POLKAS
15
Apex predator of old, informally : TREX
17
___ together (figuring out) : PIECING
18
Org. in which Marge becomes involved in a classic 1995 episode of "The Simpsons" : PTA
22
Company founded in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2003 : TESLAMOTORS
27
Softly : PIANO
28
Honest : ONTHELEVEL
30
Spot : SEE
31
Time between ordering and food arriving, seemingly : EON
32
Flew : ESCAPED
33
Most undersized : RUNTIEST
34
One of a handful at a bar : BEERNUT
35
Complete : ENTIRE
38
___ Ray, co-host of TV's "Extra" : TANIKA
39
Relatives not in direct line for royal succession : NIECES
40
Still : ATREST
42
Cabinetful, informally : MEDS
43
Coolers, for short : ACS
45
Gives a 16-Across : OKAYS
47
Ingredient in a spanakopita pastry : FETA
48
Wildly : AMOK
51
Prefix with dermis : EPI

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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