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New York Times, Saturday, August 4, 2018

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1910/29/20153/9/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3101356
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Trabucco. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
Many solvers enjoy cross-references in their puzzles, but I know that many others detest them with some sort of burning passion I ... read more

Many solvers enjoy cross-references in their puzzles, but I know that many others detest them with some sort of burning passion I can't relate to. My hope is that this puzzle presents a "worst of both worlds" situation — solvers who like them will be disappointed, and solvers who hate them will have their days ruined before discovering the trick! I'm equal opportunity like that.

Of the numbers which were possible to use, SEVEN was (of course) the most constraining since I didn't want to cross two *S EVEN phrases. Luckily, there were actually two options I could find in the slot — apologies to JESSE VENTURA for the exclusion!

Hope you enjoyed!

Jeff Chen notes:
Will often gets correspondence on a certain clue, expressing outrage that HE IS MOST CERTAINLY WRONG, SIR! (Turns out to be right ... read more

Will often gets correspondence on a certain clue, expressing outrage that HE IS MOST CERTAINLY WRONG, SIR! (Turns out to be right 99.5% of the time.) I was all set to write him and his copyediting team to say that there was something wrong with the clues today … and then I realized that THERE WAS A TRICK RUNNING IN MY THEMELESS PUZZLE! WHAAAA?!

And what a trick! I nearly solved the entire grid before realizing what was going on. An example: 18-Across references 10-Down (literally). What does that "literally" mean? There's a T E N at the end of EVERY SO OF(T E N)! It has nothing to do with the entry at 10-Down (RESTLESS); just a fake-out.

A fantastic a-ha moment! Best in my recent memory! Heck yeah!

But to be honest, I had mixed feelings at the end of my solve. Such a great concept – I loved, loved, loved it! Why was it running on a Saturday though, where I expect my themeless to be a little more chock-full of colorful long fill? This could have been the perfect Thursday puzzle. Quintessential.

I discussed it with Jim, and in the end, I decided that I liked Will throwing us all off guard, keeping us on our toes, not being too predictable. It's good to break expectations every once in a while.

And ultimately, there was still enough sizzle in the grid – THE ARTIST, GENE POOL, PRESS EVENT, the dreaded FRIEND ZONE, MODEL UN, COW POSE, HAND BRA (think about Vogue covers …) – that I felt like it'd be plain stupid not to give this fantastic theme the POW! just because it ran on a day I didn't expect. It's pretty incredible that Sam managed to fit in his four turning themers – all super-strong choices – plus all this great fill, with just a few KETT TRA dabs of glue.

Bravo, Sam!

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A
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0804 ( 25,106 )

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Across
1
Buzz source : HIVE
5
Right : PROPER
11
Leader in a chorus line? : TRA
14
Conversation stopper : AHEM
15
Love of Cyrano de Bergerac : ROXANE
16
One not abstaining : WET
17
Husband of Octavia : NERO
18
With 10-Down, literally, now and then : EVERYSOOFTEN
20
Feature of a moat : DAM
21
Things a smartphone has lots of : USES
22
Cash payment? : ATMFEE
23
With 7-Down, literally, neither wins nor loses : BREAKSEVEN
25
Pick up : LEARN
26
Some spicy brews : RYEBEERS
29
Like ranches, typically : FENCED
30
European river that originates from a glacier : AARE
31
Ones not abstaining : VOTERS
33
Some Tesla employees, in brief : EES
34
Only French-produced film to win an Oscar for Best Picture (2011) : THEARTIST
37
Chest-thumping, for short? : CPR
40
Abide : ENDURE
41
Old Gremlins and Hornets : AMCS
45
Eye : LOOKAT
47
Makings of a population : GENEPOOL
49
Ran in place : IDLED
50
With 8-Down, literally, one just taking up space : DEADWEIGHT
51
Preps, as cappuccino milk : FROTHS
53
Lamebrain : BOZO
55
Pen lead-in : EPI
56
With 1-Down, literally, downright dastardly : BADTOTHEBONE
58
Place for a post : BLOG
59
Put something past? : ACE
60
Electrically insulating material around nerve fibers : MYELIN
61
Wild country : BUSH
62
Ancient title : REX
63
Divorcé, e.g. : EXMATE
64
Tech review site : CNET
Down
1
Makeshift technique for female modesty : HANDBRA
2
"Yep, perfectly clear" : IHEARYA
3
"The Astronomer" painter : VERMEER
4
___ pop : EMO
5
Groundhog Day celebration, typically : PRESSEVENT
6
Knock about : ROVE
7
Buffoons : OXES
8
Course number : PAR
9
"May It Be" singer, 2001 : ENYA
10
Never putting down roots for long : RESTLESS
11
Coin-flipping "Batman" villain : TWOFACE
12
Ringmaster? : REFEREE
13
Sees (to) : ATTENDS
19
Calpurnia's dream of Caesar's death, e.g. : OMEN
21
Alternative to a mandolin, informally : UKE
24
Provide job support : ABET
27
Take it for a ride : ROAD
28
Member of the "magnificent" 1996 U.S. women's gymnastics team : STRUG
29
Unwanted state for a would-be lover : FRIENDZONE
32
___ humain (person: Fr.) : ETRE
35
Commute in the afternoon, say : HEADHOME
36
Appetizer that may accompany sangria : TAPA
37
Popular snack for bikers and hikers : CLIFBAR
38
"Star Wars" sporting event : PODRACE
39
Quaint item on an office desk : ROLODEX
42
Exercise in student diplomacy, for short : MODELUN
43
It's performed on hands and knees in yoga : COWPOSE
44
Dexterity : SLEIGHT
46
Etta of old comics : KETT
48
Job ad abbr. : EEO
52
It goes to hell : STYX
53
___ Fleck and the Flecktones : BELA
54
End note? : OBIT
57
Bottom line? : HEM
58
Airer of the children's news program "Newsround" since 1972 : BBC

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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