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New York Times, Saturday, September 20, 2014

Author:
Erik Agard
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4711/6/201210/13/201921
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1056663101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62170
Erik Agard

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 34 Missing: {BZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Agard. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Erik Agard notes:
if you found this puzzle challenging, then you should really thank mr. shortz, because the one i sent him was a lot harder. my ... read more

if you found this puzzle challenging, then you should really thank mr. shortz, because the one i sent him was a lot harder. my favorite clues of will's are [Muscles for some fraternity guys?], [Sportsperson who may take a bow?], and [Macs and such].

Will Shortz notes:
The Thursday-Saturday puzzles this week were all created by constructors in their early 20s, part of a new generation of puzzlemakers. ... read more

The Thursday-Saturday puzzles this week were all created by constructors in their early 20s, part of a new generation of puzzlemakers. I don't have any hard figures on constructors' ages, but my gut feeling is that the median age has declined by about 15 years since I started in 1993 — from around 55 then to 40 now. Someone should do a study.

Jeff Chen notes:
Erik is THE MAN! How many people would let me play with the pic on their personal constructor's page for my amusement* (Jill Denny's ... read more

Erik is THE MAN! How many people would let me play with the pic on their personal constructor's page for my amusement* (Jill Denny's pic was of Sarah Palin for the longest time)? And after he sent me his notes (in lowercase, as is his wont), he sent me a new set with proper capitalization, in case I had to play by The Man's rules. Well let me tell you, The Man isn't gonna tell me what to do about The Man's notes. Wait...

Loved the mini-theme. CTR is normally a blah abbreviation, a bit of crossword glue needed to stick some great answers together. Using a self-reference in the clue is genius. CTR is at the center of four great answers: ASPECT RATIO, MAGIC TRICKS, LG ELECTRONICS, and PROJECT RUNWAY. I've said before that I'd get tired of mini-themes every weekend, but I love getting clever concepts like this which don't necessitate undue crossword glue. More, please!

A note on cheater squares today. You see the six black Tetris-like tetronimoes? Each one contains a cheater square, a black square that could have been eliminated without changing the word count. I don't mind one pair at all, and two pairs is usually fine. Three is often where my eye for aesthetics tweaks a bit. I actually like the four L-tetronimoes, finding them slightly pleasing, but the two S-tetronimoes in the middle stick out for me. As with most all art, this is a subjective call.

Ah, QUIRRELL! I'm sure this entry will generate discussion, as you either know it or you don't. Given that I've read the series roughly 96.5 times, it was a gimme (although I'll debate whether QUIRRELL actually tried to kill Harry or it was Voldemort acting through the poor professor). No doubt it's an esoteric piece of information, but Harry Potter has gained enough of a place in popular culture that I think it's fine. And even if you disagree with me (and get yourself horcruxed), it's simply one answer within the grid — I appreciate Erik's restraint. I personally would love to see SLUGHORN, CRUCIATUS CURSE, ACCIO, and PATRONUS CHARM in a grid, but I realize most solvers wouldn't care for that. Fie on you, muggles.

Finally, I appreciate Erik's careful choice of his long entries. I was a bit worried when I saw only 12 slots for 8+ letter entries, but check them out (hit the "Analyze" button below to see all the answers listed by length). Every one except UNWIELDY is good to strong, and even UNWIELDY isn't too unwieldy. And Erik adds to his pluses by inserting the language-tasty (but taste-disgusting) CLAMATO into one of the few 7-letter slots. Helps to offset some of the OARERS kind of stuff. Well done.

*I took down the pic of Dick Cheney. I thought it was hilarious, given that he and Erik are diametrically opposed, but my sense of humor is not for everyone.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0920 ( 23,692 )

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Across
1
Goes quickly after takeoff? : STREAKS
8
Series of antecedents : LEADUP
14
Professor who tries to kill Harry Potter : QUIRRELL
16
___ pectoris : ANGINA
17
One not favored : UNDERDOG
18
Randomly distributed : STREWN
19
PBJ filling? : AND
20
16:9, say : ASPECTRATIO
22
Muscles for some fraternity guys? : DELTS
24
Shake : LOSE
25
Mo. of National Grandparents' Day : SEP
26
Raft : SLEW
27
Height : APEX
29
Viewfinder? : POLL
30
Some nerve! : OPTIC
32
Nobelist Frederick ___, pioneer in radiochemistry : SODDY
33
Fashion series since 2004 : PROJECTRUNWAY
37
Asner's "Elf" role : CLAUS
38
Browning, for one : RIFLE
39
It might be found in a café : LAIT
40
Spanish interrogative : COMO
41
All-nighter, maybe : RAVE
45
Writer Rand : AYN
46
Cold-shoulder : SHUN
48
Mackenzie of "The Facts of Life" : ASTIN
49
Legerdemain : MAGICTRICKS
53
Cooperstown inst. : HOF
54
Words before and after "Am too!" : ARENOT
55
Longest continuous corporate partner of the Olympic Games : COCACOLA
57
Get misty : TEARUP
58
Fall guy? : STUNTMAN
59
Galley slaves, e.g. : OARERS
60
Least abundant : SPAREST
Down
1
Teams : SQUADS
2
Smuggling aid : TUNNEL
3
Judges 14:14 has the only one in the Bible : RIDDLE
4
"Maid of Athens, ___ we part": Byron : ERE
5
Hamlet takes a stab at it : ARRAS
6
Some gym shoes : KEDS
7
Spill : SLOP
8
Holds up : LASTS
9
Word with deux or nous : ENTRE
10
Home of the Unesco World Heritage Site Fatehpur Sikri : AGRA
11
Light refreshment : DIETSODA
12
Hard to handle : UNWIELDY
13
Splendid array : PANOPLY
15
"Life's Good" sloganeer : LGELECTRONICS
21
Sportsperson who may take a bow? : COX
23
Situation that makes a double play impossible : TWOOUT
27
Tucked away : ATE
28
Snap : PIC
29
Dungeons & Dragons attributes : POWERS
31
Wear for the weary : PJS
32
TV inits. since 10/11/75 : SNL
33
Feature of many a McDonald's : PLAYAREA
34
Macs and such : RAINGEAR
35
Part of a crater : RIM
36
Saucer, perhaps : UFO
37
Red juice hybrid : CLAMATO
40
Contemptible sort : CUR
42
In : ATHOME
43
They take bows : VIOLAS
44
Terrible one? : ENFANT
46
Comb : SCOUR
47
Certain address starter : HTTPS
48
Yoga pose : ASANA
50
About : INRE
51
Some Red Cross supplies : COTS
52
Single-serving coffee holder : KCUP
56
Abbr. found at the 56-Down of this puzzle's four longest answers : CTR

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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