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New York Times, Saturday, September 2, 2017

Author: Erik Agard
Editor: Will Shortz
Erik Agard
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1911/6/20126/17/20187
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5212423
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1.61130

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 30 Missing: {FJYZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Agard. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: 64-worder, yikes! I've developed a knack for sniffing out low word-count themeless grids — that huge SW alone is a good ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

64-worder, yikes! I've developed a knack for sniffing out low word-count themeless grids — that huge SW alone is a good indicator that the constructor is dipping into those daunting waters. Check it out — you start with a 6x6 chunk of white space, hard enough to fill on its own. But then you extend four of the entries into the rest of the puzzle? Daunting is an understatement.

Erik worked in more snazzy feature entries than I'm used to seeing in a 64-worder. Love GREENHOUSE GASES / SOUTH SUDANESE, THE STONES, PAT BENATAR, CHESS SET, AIR TAXIS, SITH LORD, even IRIDESCE. Usually, we see more of the ADDRESSES, ENROLLEE, ETAGERES kind of filler in low-word count themelesses, so great to get these sparkly entries.

So tough to pull off without applying too much crossword glue. DUNNED was the only glob that stood out to me, an old-style word that felt like a throwback to the Maleska era of esoteric crosswords. But with just an OLEO of CTR, LLD otherwise, it's a good overall result.

(SOTU = State of the Union, SDSU = San Diego State University. I think one of those by itself would be fine, but both of them felt somewhat inelegant.)

Erik is so good at cluing — I look forward to the clues in his puzzles even more than the grids. [Movie lot?], as in a lot of people in a CAST, is a great way to kick things off. I didn't know the Vue car model, but a GARAGE as a [Room with a Vue, perhaps] is a clever play on "Room With a View."

A few were over my head this time around:

  • SON = [This is an issue] … ? "Issue" apparently can mean "offspring." Huh.
  • DEICED … I get that the clue is playing on "cleared for landing," but isn't deicing more often done before getting cleared for takeoff, not landing?
  • CRICKET as [Fair play]. (insert sound of crickets here). Ah, I have heard "That's not cricket," as a Britishism?

I enjoyed the solve, a solid Saturday workout. If I had seen some episodes of QUEEN SUGAR (I admit, I read the O magazine and love it, so I've seen ads for this series) or was more familiar with RICE BEER, it might have hit me a little more strongly.

1
C
2
A
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S
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R
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P
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G
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P
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O
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K
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B
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L
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G
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K
A
O
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G
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X
C
O
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P
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T
H
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29
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O
L
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H
32
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B
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Q
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A
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59
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0902 ( 24,770 )
Across Down
1. Movie lot? : CAST
5. Dungeons & Dragons or Final Fantasy, for short : RPG
8. It has tiny tines : SPORK
13. Relative of sake : RICEBEER
15. Actress London of TV's "The Game" : LAUREN
16. Sparkle : IRIDESCE
17. Wired : ONEDGE
18. Focal point: Abbr. : CTR
19. Stomach : TAKE
20. Room with a Vue, perhaps : GARAGE
21. Enemy of CONTROL on "Get Smart" : KAOS
23. Barely relevant : TANGENTIAL
25. Person who came out of the blue? : EXCOP
27. Band that really rocks, appropriately? : THESTONES
28. Onomatopoeic mint name : TICTAC
30. Option for a roll : OLEO
31. Neighbor of an Ethiopian : SOUTHSUDANESE
36. Their heads and feet are usually the same distance from the ground : BEDS
37. Comic's concern : TIMING
39. Points of contact? : ADDRESSES
44. Closing bit of music : OUTRO
45. Oprah Winfrey Network show about a family farm : QUEENSUGAR
47. Like derby entrants : SHOD
48. Winning QB in the first N.F.L. playoff game to go into sudden-death overtime : UNITAS
49. Profess : AVOW
51. Deg. for a jurist : LLD
52. Spark : INCITE
53. Creek language : SEMINOLE
55. Check out rudely : LEERAT
56. Pieces of furniture with many shelves : ETAGERES
57. Viperidae family member : ADDER
58. This is an issue : SON
59. Uplifting literature : ODES
1. Fair play : CRICKET
2. They might be used in making hops : AIRTAXIS
3. Volkswagen coupe : SCIROCCO
4. Big name in talks : TED
5. Convened anew : RESAT
6. Eat with no enthusiasm : PECKAT
7. They leave carbon footprints : GREENHOUSEGASES
8. Home to shooting Stars : SANANTONIO
9. P.R. piece? : PUERTO
10. Decree : ORDAIN
11. Wailers' sound : REGGAE
12. Prepares to weed, perhaps : KNEELS
14. Word after safe or side : BET
15. Superior stadium spot : LOGESEAT
22. President's annual delivery to Cong. : SOTU
24. Fix, in a way : GELD
26. Female singer with the second video ever shown on MTV : PATBENATAR
29. 32 men are found in it : CHESSSET
32. Calif. school near the Mexican border : SDSU
33. Targets of a 1932 "war" in Australia : EMUS
34. Jedi knight's rival : SITHLORD
35. Course participant : ENROLLEE
38. See 46-Down : GODDESS
39. Eagle constellation : AQUILA
40. Bugged for money : DUNNED
41. Cleared for landing? : DEICED
42. Quit using : RETIRE
43. Put a backup copy on : SAVETO
46. With 38-Down, Diana, e.g. : ROMAN
50. Removable locks : WIG
54. Lead-in to folk or soul : NEO

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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