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New York Times, Friday, September 14, 2018

Author:
John Guzzetta
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2010/9/20129/14/20184
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1322453
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1.63100
John Guzzetta

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Guzzetta. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Guzzetta notes:
I mailed this puzzle late 2016, back when I was using this type of grid layout for themeless submissions. It's a good way to get nice ... read more

I mailed this puzzle late 2016, back when I was using this type of grid layout for themeless submissions. It's a good way to get nice 3x10 and 3x11 spaces, but these days I start elsewhere, especially to avoid the triple stack of three-letter answers.

THAT'S GENIUS was the only seed. I tried it in every 11-letter slot until it finally seemed at home all the way at the bottom. Hope you enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
Sometimes I feel like I have to HUNT AND PECK when a grid is filled with tough names. I'm personally familiar with NEMEA and Boba ... read more

Sometimes I feel like I have to HUNT AND PECK when a grid is filled with tough names. I'm personally familiar with NEMEA and Boba FETT, being a big fan of Greek myth and Star Wars lore. But pop music? Shudder! Names like DANGER MOUSE are dangerous to my ability to successfully complete a puzzle, when I barely know what "Gnarls Barkley" is. IT'S A MIRACLE that I finished with no errors, given so many DELIA, DEIRDRE, SHTETL, KOENIG entries in the grid!

I did love some entries, especially THAT'S GENIUS, which people say to me much less frequentsomely than I would not unlike. PASS THE BAR and IMAGINE THAT were also strongly on my WAVELENGTH(s).

Sometimes my constructor background stabs at my ability to enjoy puzzles. I see two elements that shouldn't coexist: 1.) a 70-word puzzle (just two under the maximum for themelesses), and 2.) more crossword glue than I want to see in any themeless. About five of AMAS DECI ESS FETT SEP THU XKES feels like an unpolished finish.

It's a shame. Other people have different (but perhaps equally valid) philosophies on themeless construction, some more liberal on how much crossword glue is okay – or even what qualifies as crossword glue!

Thankfully a couple clues helped elevate my solve. The clue for HAS BEENS was delightful – riffing on the astronomy term "distant stars" was brilliant. Similarly, riffing on the football "offensive line" for BARB = brilliant!

Jim Horne notes:
In 2010, I wrote an article for the Science section of the New York Times called The Rush of the ‘Crossword Puzzle Moment.' I ... read more

In 2010, I wrote an article for the Science section of the New York Times called The Rush of the ‘Crossword Puzzle Moment.' I contended that we all have all keep information at the edge of our consciousness, things we don't know that we know. Part of the joy of crosswords is that tiny clues, sometimes just one or two letters from crossing words, can unlock these facts, and unlocking them can be very satisfying. That happened to me today with DANGER MOUSE. I have no idea what their music is like, but somehow, even though I'm not tuned in to it, I know that Danger Mouse is a thing and that it had to fit the clue. Endorphins are a great drug.

Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, how could you not have fallen in love with Sarah KOENIG? Like everyone in America except, apparently, Jeff, I followed the weekly podcast drops of Serial with great anticipation. Season 3 begins September 20th. I'll be there.

And SHTETL? Have you never seen Fiddler on the Roof? Talking crosswords with Jeff is a constant reminder that different life experiences lead to different crossword experiences. How audacious of this rectangular art form to take as its ambit of allowable topics, everything worth knowing! Personally, I haven't known everything since I was in my mid-teens.

I liked the science clue for WAVELENGTHS but it didn't feel quite right, implying subtraction was somehow involved. "Color determinants" would have made me feel better.

Jeff is right about the clues for HAS BEENS and BARBS. Outstanding.

1
W
2
A
3
V
4
E
5
L
6
E
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N
8
G
9
T
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H
11
S
12
A
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R
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P
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I
M
A
G
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N
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T
H
A
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16
B
O
A
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D
A
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G
E
R
M
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U
S
E
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O
T
S
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E
S
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W
O
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B
E
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A
V
I
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F
I
L
A
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T
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T
25
S
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H
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T
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L
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S
H
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P
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H
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W
O
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F
O
U
N
D
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T
E
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I
N
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B
E
A
D
S
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B
A
R
B
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S
E
P
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L
A
M
P
S
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D
E
L
I
A
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S
Y
L
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L
A
B
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K
E
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L
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R
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C
H
E
A
T
E
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B
O
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L
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H
O
T
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E
R
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S
E
E
R
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D
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A
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X
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A
N
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H
U
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N
T
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D
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P
E
C
K
52
R
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M
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L
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D
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G
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0914 ( 25,147 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Differences between colors : WAVELENGTHS
12. Duchamp contemporary : ARP
15. "Well, what do you know?!" : IMAGINETHAT
16. Accessory for Miss Piggy : BOA
17. Six-time Grammy winner who is half of the group Gnarls Barkley : DANGERMOUSE
18. Some buzzer followers, for short : OTS
19. End of a count? : ESS
20. Toil and trouble : WOES
21. MTV toon teen : BEAVIS
23. Reebok rival : FILA
24. Most clipped : TERSEST
25. "Fiddler on the Roof" setting : SHTETL
28. Embarrassed : SHEEPISH
29. Net ___ : WORTH
30. Establish : FOUND
31. Shorts go-with : TEE
32. Still vying : INIT
33. Bits of sweat : BEADS
34. Offensive line : BARB
35. Natl. Library Card Sign-Up Month : SEP
36. Desktop accessories : LAMPS
37. Novelist Ephron : DELIA
38. Course outline : SYLLABUS
40. Helen who helped establish the 46-Down : KELLER
41. School copier, maybe : CHEATER
42. Minute Rice instruction : BOIL
43. Like Mercury vis-à-vis Mars : HOTTER
44. Future reporter : SEER
45. Shepard of "Parenthood" : DAX
48. Darth Vader's boyhood nickname : ANI
49. Type unprofessionally : HUNTANDPECK
52. Sleep study acronym : REM
53. "Hallelujah!" : ITSAMIRACLE
54. Change the locks? : DYE
55. "Brilliant!" : THATSGENIUS
Down
1. Extensive : WIDE
2. Reddit Q&A sessions, briefly : AMAS
3. Circlers at airports : VANS
4. Oocyte, e.g. : EGG
5. Rest on, as chances : LIEWITH
6. Register : ENROLL
7. Where Hercules slew the lion : NEMEA
8. Some Pontiacs : GTOS
9. Night that "Friends" aired: Abbr. : THU
10. Distant stars? : HASBEENS
11. Led : STEERED
12. Supercilious : ABOVEITALL
13. Spit spot : ROTISSERIE
14. Become legally certified : PASSTHEBAR
22. "My baby at my breast," to Shakespeare's Cleopatra : ASP
23. Boba ___, "Star Wars" bounty hunter : FETT
24. Sounds of failure : THUDS
25. Leafy vegetable related to a beet : SWISSCHARD
26. 1974 Abba hit : HONEYHONEY
27. Mazurka meter : TRIPLETIME
28. Individually wrapped hotel amenities : SOAPS
30. Pelvis-patella connector : FEMUR
33. Member of the 1920s Murderers' Row : BABERUTH
34. Bout ender : BELL
36. Grounds for a 15-yard penalty : LATEHIT
37. Tragic heroine of Irish legend : DEIRDRE
39. Muscle used in pull-ups, briefly : LAT
40. Sarah who hosted the podcast "Serial" : KOENIG
42. Support pieces : BEAMS
44. Saves or assists : STAT
45. Liter lead-in : DECI
46. See 40-Across : ACLU
47. Classic Jaguars : XKES
50. D.O.D. division : NSA
51. It might receive zero stars : PAN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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