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New York Times, Monday, September 14, 2015

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5911/13/20121/25/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
619175462
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 21 for Ms. Burnikel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:
Joel said, 'We're interested in your CROWN puzzle if you can revise the fill a bit. In particular, we'd really prefer if the weirdly ... read more

Joel said, "We're interested in your CROWN puzzle if you can revise the fill a bit. In particular, we'd really prefer if the weirdly spelled TFAL could be removed. Aim for Monday-level vocabulary, as that's probably what this would be."

I removed T-FAL, then decided to add a cheater to remove NE-YO (65-Across) as well. I was concerned that his name was not Monday-friendly either.

I love Will's USGA clue. I had a boring "121-year-old course server: Abbr." there. Will changed a ton of my clues. I just don't seem to get better as my clues.

And I'm a HAN (28-Across), like over 92% of the Chinese. I'm guessing Jeff Chen is a Han too. Maybe Kevin Der as well.

Jeff Chen notes:
It's always a pleasure when a puzzle surprises me, doubly so when it happens on a Monday. I couldn't even tell what was a themer and ... read more

It's always a pleasure when a puzzle surprises me, doubly so when it happens on a Monday. I couldn't even tell what was a themer and what wasn't until I hit CROWN at the very bottom, pulling it all together — the LOS ANGELES KINGS, BUDWEISER, ROLEX, and HALLMARK CARDS all having a CROWN in their logo. Really fun idea.

The "king" of beers (emphasis on the air quotes)

Neat layout, too. I like mirror symmetry, and CC's design reminds me of a Space Invader or the TiVo logo. Mirror symmetry can be really useful, like in this case where the themers don't pair up in lengths, but they all have an odd number of letters: 15, 9, 5, and 11. That's perfect for mirror symmetry.

One of CC's trademarks is to include some snazzy long fill, no matter how difficult the layout. I have a feeling CC keeps a running list of strong fill, incorporating it at every opportunity. US MARSHALS, an emphatic THAT IS A LIE, ANDROID ONE, and LEO TOLSTOY are all beautiful. And even with the difficult parallel down layout of those four answers, there's barely a gluey bit to be seen, just an ESE. It's such fine work.

Although it's minor, IDE up in the north section is easy to polish out. The bigger issue for me is the south, with REY, ERATO, and ADANO. They're all fair(ish), but that pile-up could be very frustrating for a novice solver. It's a tough section to fill — that M??C slot at 54-Down takes away a lot of flexibility.

One option that would have helped is to place CROWN one row higher, at 61-Across. M?C? gives much more flexibility with MICE, MACE, MICA, MACH, MUCH, etc. But having a revealer not at the very end is inelegant. The option I like better is to place CROWN vertically at 50-Down, intersecting HALLMARK CARDS. It would likely require another set of cheater squares (where the C and N of CROWN are now), but that doesn't bother me personally.

A neat Monday theme which kept me guessing until the end.

1
M
2
A
3
P
4
O
5
N
6
A
7
I
8
R
9
R
10
U
11
B
12
A
R
A
13
B
14
H
E
I
D
I
15
C
A
S
E
16
L
O
S
A
17
N
G
E
L
E
S
18
K
I
N
G
S
19
I
D
O
T
O
O
20
K
I
T
K
A
T
21
B
U
D
22
W
23
E
24
I
S
E
R
25
P
26
U
27
T
O
N
28
H
A
N
29
V
I
30
A
31
L
32
S
33
A
S
H
Y
34
F
O
R
T
35
E
36
C
N
E
T
37
G
M
A
38
R
O
L
E
X
39
D
O
E
40
O
A
T
41
S
42
O
P
E
R
A
43
S
R
T
A
44
D
R
I
V
45
E
S
46
M
47
R
C
O
O
L
48
A
S
S
E
S
49
R
50
E
51
Y
52
C
O
I
L
S
53
H
A
L
L
54
M
A
R
K
55
C
A
R
D
S
56
S
A
L
T
57
A
D
A
N
O
58
N
O
T
59
E
60
E
L
I
E
61
R
A
T
O
N
62
S
N
O
W
63
E
S
E
64
C
R
O
W
N
65
E
Y
E
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0914 ( 24,051 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
Hiking trail reference : MAP
4
Sign in a radio studio : ONAIR
9
Massage : RUB
12
Like most Jordanians : ARAB
14
Klum of "Project Runway" : HEIDI
15
Lawyer's assignment : CASE
16
Hockey team that plays at Staples Center : LOSANGELESKINGS
19
"Same here!" : IDOTOO
20
Chocolate wafer bar in a red wrapper : KITKAT
21
Super Bowl advertiser with Clydesdale horses : BUDWEISER
25
Don : PUTON
28
___ Solo of "Star Wars" : HAN
29
Lab glasses : VIALS
33
Pale-faced : ASHY
34
What someone's best at : FORTE
36
Online tech review site : CNET
37
ABC a.m. show, for short : GMA
38
Luxury watch brand : ROLEX
39
What a fawn might grow into : DOE
40
Food in a feedbag : OATS
42
"Don Giovanni" or "Don Pasquale" : OPERA
43
Spanish miss: Abbr. : SRTA
44
Golf shots off tees : DRIVES
46
Hip guy : MRCOOL
48
Donkeys : ASSES
49
Lana Del ___, singer with the 2014 #1 album "Ultraviolence" : REY
52
Gets ready to strike, as a snake : COILS
53
Busy company around Mother's Day and Valentine's Day : HALLMARKCARDS
56
"S" on the dinner table : SALT
57
Hersey's "A Bell for ___" : ADANO
58
Memorandum : NOTE
60
1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wiesel : ELIE
61
Betray, as a naughty sibling : RATON
62
Frequent Arctic forecast : SNOW
63
Suffix with Vietnam : ESE
64
Royal topper ... or part of the logos of 16-, 21-, 38- and 53-Across : CROWN
65
Lens of a camera, essentially : EYE
Down
1
Niger's western neighbor : MALI
2
Yankee slugger with the most M.L.B. career grand slams, informally : AROD
3
El ___, Tex. : PASO
4
"Good heavens!" : OHGOD
5
Word before a maiden name : NEE
6
Have a bug : AIL
7
Suffix with cyan- : IDE
8
Insurers assume them : RISKS
9
Captain or major : RANK
10
Org. whose website has many links? : USGA
11
Cream of the crop : BEST
13
Dugout figure : BATBOY
15
___ acid (part of lemons and oranges) : CITRIC
17
Follower of "a" or "the," often : NOUN
18
Ukraine's capital : KIEV
22
"Big ___" ("Who cares?") : WHOOP
23
Three-time Grammy winner Steve : EARLE
24
Encrypt? : INTER
25
Where Buddhists worship : PAGODA
26
Fed. fugitive hunters : USMARSHALS
27
"NOT true!" : THATISALIE
30
Google smartphone released in 2014 : ANDROIDONE
31
"War and Peace" author : LEOTOLSTOY
32
Thieves : STEALS
34
Bushy dos, informally : FROS
35
SAT, e.g. : EXAM
41
Gracefully thin : SVELTE
43
Looks down on : SCORNS
45
Course for many immigrants, for short : ESL
47
___ Victrola : RCA
49
Control tower device : RADAR
50
Muse for Lord Byron : ERATO
51
"Get what I mean?," informally : YKNOW
54
"WTF With ___ Maron" (popular podcast) : MARC
55
Hartford's state: Abbr. : CONN
56
"Get what I mean?" : SEE
59
Woolly mama : EWE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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