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New York Times, Saturday, September 17, 2016

Author:
Andrew J. Ries
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
128/13/200712/14/20180
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21111321
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1.57010
Andrew Ries

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {JKQXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Ries. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Ries notes:
Not gonna lie, all I can say is I ain't Patrick Berry, and I'm almost embarrassed to follow him on a themeless weekend. But whatevs. ... read more

Not gonna lie, all I can say is I ain't Patrick Berry, and I'm almost embarrassed to follow him on a themeless weekend. But whatevs. Oh, and #ProTip if you ever wanna use FARMERSONLY: wheat, not corn. Trust me.

Jeff Chen notes:
NOT GONNA LIE, this was an entertaining solve. I really enjoy that sort of colloquial phrase in a themeless, giving it a snappy feel, ... read more

NOT GONNA LIE, this was an entertaining solve. I really enjoy that sort of colloquial phrase in a themeless, giving it a snappy feel, like a movie with well-written dialogue. Other entries like SPACE CADET and PLAYERS ENTRANCE added to that impression.

Interesting structure, what with all the longish answers intersecting to form a huge grid skeleton. Check out how much of the puzzle is affected by SPACE CADET running through PLAYERS ENTRANCE / USED CAR SALESMAN, through the CAESAR SALAD / FARMERS ONLY / NOT GONNA LIE stack, through ENAMELWARE. Talk about constraints! Such a large, interlocked skeleton ups the difficulty level when it comes to filling any one little subsection.

FARMERS ONLY didn't have much impact on me at first, but boy did I get a kick out of researching it. Who would have thought there would be a dating site specifically for farmers? And there's something so fun about the tagline "Sign up for free to find a farmer, rancher, cowboy, cowgirl or animal lover." There does appear to be some controversy as to whether it's "real" or a "scam," but that only adds to its intrigue for me. Nice pick for a marquee entry.

A themeless that features such long, intersecting entries runs the risk of not having much else. Since I've seen CAESAR SALAD several times in puzzles over the years, I was really hoping there would be a little extra somethin' somethin' in the grid. I enjoyed WHAT A DAY but the only other long entry was FOUL LINE, which seemed like a valid but strange way of saying "free throw line."

There were a few shorter colorful words like DUCATS, VELCRO and ROMANIA, but not much else in the mid-length material caught my attention. Still, it is nice to get some of these mid-length entries, as crossword puzzles often put them in the backseat, tending instead to lean on long themers and short fill.

Some of the short entries made the puzzle feel too easy for a Saturday — ADES, REA, ATL are very difficult to clue in obfuscating ways — but overall, a couple of great long entries buoyed by a clean grid and some interesting mid-length fill.

1
B
2
I
3
L
4
B
5
O
6
P
7
L
8
U
9
G
10
T
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W
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G
14
A
M
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15
L
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A
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Y
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A
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C
A
D
E
T
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R
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I
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Y
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D
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C
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E
25
D
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V
E
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L
C
R
O
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A
M
U
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S
T
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30
T
31
R
E
A
32
M
33
A
D
A
M
34
C
A
35
E
S
A
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36
S
A
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D
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F
A
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M
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S
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Y
38
N
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T
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N
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39
L
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S
E
40
T
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A
G
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A
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T
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E
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A
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L
46
T
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U
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T
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50
M
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O
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B
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A
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L
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W
A
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A
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60
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A
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H
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0917 ( 24,420 )
Across
1. First name in fantasy fiction : BILBO
6. Payola payoff : PLUG
10. Branch extension : TWIG
14. Subject for une chanteuse : AMOUR
15. When repeated, singer of the 1987 #1 hit "Head to Toe" : LISA
16. Exclamation sometimes said with a hand over the mouth : OHMY
17. One in la-la land : SPACECADET
19. Clichéd gift for a prisoner : RASP
20. Christ's end? : IAN
21. For instance : SAY
22. Snack brand first produced at Disneyland in the 1960s : DORITOS
24. Street ___ : CRED
26. Alternative to a snap : VELCRO
28. Asia's ___ Darya River : AMU
29. Structural support : STRUT
31. Stephen who was nominated for a 1992 Best Actor Oscar : REA
32. Title sometimes shortened by removing its middle letter : MADAM
34. Dish that often includes anchovies : CAESARSALAD
37. Website for people interested in "cultivating" a relationship? : FARMERSONLY
38. "Lemme be straight with you ..." : NOTGONNALIE
39. Good-for-nothing : LOUSE
40. Letterhead abbr. : TEL
41. 5 1/2-point type : AGATE
45. Falcons, on scoreboards : ATL
46. Staple of Victorian architecture : TURRET
49. Square : EVEN
50. McCarthy in Hollywood : MELISSA
52. Break down, maybe : SOB
54. Terse admission : IAM
55. For the ages : EPIC
56. Some kitchen utensils : ENAMELWARE
59. Court psychologist's ruling : SANE
60. Where Arthur Ashe played college tennis : UCLA
61. Book before Philemon : TITUS
62. Summer coolers : ADES
63. Round end, of a sort : PEEN
64. Curry of the N.B.A. : STEPH
Down
1. Educational foundations : BASICS
2. Lend : IMPART
3. One day's drive, maybe : LOANER
4. N.F.C. South pro : BUC
5. They're graded in geology class : ORES
6. Spot for autograph seekers : PLAYERSENTRANCE
7. Top : LID
8. One who works a lot? : USEDCARSALESMAN
9. Bulldog rival : GATOR
10. Spelling with lines : TORI
11. "Whew!," upon arriving home : WHATADAY
12. Cry before rage-quitting : IMSOMAD
13. Plaster of paris, essentially : GYPSUM
18. King James, e.g. : CAV
23. Country that's home to Dracula's Castle : ROMANIA
25. Tickets, in slang : DUCATS
27. Pupil : LEARNER
30. They're often said to be sitting or moving : TARGETS
33. Claim : ALLEGE
35. Angst-ridden and moody : EMO
36. Currency of Peru : SOL
37. Place to do some shots? : FOULLINE
38. It has rules for writing : NOTEPAD
39. San Diego suburb known as the "Jewel of the Hills" : LAMESA
42. Wing it? : AVIATE
43. Get misty : TEARUP
44. Catch in a net : ENMESH
47. Deplete : USEUP
48. One exposed by a flip-flop : TOE
51. Summer coolers : ICES
53. Counter orders? : BLTS
57. Bitter ___ : ALE
58. Card : WIT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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