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New York Times, Monday, September 3, 2018

Author:
Trent H. Evans
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
19/3/20180
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0100000
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1.52000
Trent H. Evans

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FQVXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Evans. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trent H. Evans notes:
I'm thrilled to have my first puzzle published in the New York Times. One thing I have discovered while learning this craft is that ... read more

I'm thrilled to have my first puzzle published in the New York Times. One thing I have discovered while learning this craft is that the community of crossword constructors is welcoming and generous. I'd like to specifically thank Jeff Chen, Sam Ezersky, Sam Donaldson, Will Nediger, Sam Trabucco, Finn Vigeland, and Peter Broda. These talented constructors selflessly shared the benefit of their experience with a newbie, and I cannot overstate how grateful I am for that.

I'm a clinical psychologist practicing in Catonsville, MD, and I am fortunate to have found a calling that suits me and gives me the great privilege of helping others as they grow and overcome obstacles in their lives. I live in Catonsville with my wife Beth and four of our five children, all of whom were in middle school and at that AWKWARDAGE when this puzzle was constructed. My oldest is a college graduate and working in his first professional job in environmental science. In my free time, I play piano and trumpet in a local band, and Saturdays this fall I can be found cheering on my alma mater, the TCU Horned Frogs. Whether this will prove therapeutic remains to be seen as of this writing.

Crossword constructing has proven therapeutic for me, and I hope you enjoy the result of my first effort. With the benefit of more experience I look back on this puzzle and wish I had another crack at a few of the fill choices, but I'm happy with the theme, and I learned a lot from reviewing the changes Will and his team made to many of the clues.

I have more accepted puzzles in the queue, and I look forward to sharing them with you. I only began solving crosswords a couple of years ago, and I quickly discovered solving is a wonderful way to clear my mind of all the tasks and worries which might otherwise take me out of the present moment. I hope this puzzle gives you a few minutes of that same peace.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun imagery, someone SITTING, suddenly jumping to a STANDING position, WALKING in alarm, and then jolting to RUNNING. I'm imagining it ... read more

Fun imagery, someone SITTING, suddenly jumping to a STANDING position, WALKING in alarm, and then jolting to RUNNING. I'm imagining it as a Festivus miracle!

(Awesome clue for POLE for us "Seinfeld" fans.)

Let's start with the feats of strength. Great choices for themers, SITTING DUCK, STANDING ORDER, WALKING PAPERS, RUNNING JOKE all phrases I'd happily work into any crossword. SITTING DUCK is particularly colorful to me, as my two-year-old son doesn't say much yet. But man, does he QUACK like the dickens when he sees a duck!

It's cute. And a little bizarre.

I also appreciated that Trent maintained consistency in his themers: (verb in ING form) + noun every time. Some might gripe about WALKING PAPERS being the only plural, but when do you ever see a singular walking paper?

ARROWHEADS and AWKWARD AGE, both nice bonuses. The latter caused me a pause at first – AWKWARD STAGE or AWKWARD TIME felt more spot-on – but I can buy AWKWARD AGE.

(For me, that's pretty much any age.)

Now, for the airing of grievances! Not many, but OSS, ASTA, and NEHIS are stale entries, ones that constructors ought to phase out. AMOR is tough too, for newer solvers. I don't mind AERIES so much since it's a word heard on "Game of Thrones" recently, but I've heard complaints about that being esoteric too.

Nice debut, overall. Not a ton of extras outside the two long downs, but PARAGON, MAKES DO, and the Festivus EPISODE of "Seinfeld"? Good stuff, all.

Now if someone would just work THE HUMAN FUND into a crossword.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 25,136 )
Across
1. Big name in banking : CHASE
6. Tempest : STORM
11. Something to download : APP
14. "The Fox and the Grapes" author : AESOP
15. Ancient Asia Minor region : IONIA
16. Subject for "Dunkirk" or "Apocalypse Now" : WAR
17. Defenseless target : SITTINGDUCK
19. Hawaii's Mauna ___ : KEA
20. Pitching stat : ERA
21. Transmits : SENDS
22. Hall-of-Fame Broncos QB John : ELWAY
24. Artsy Big Apple neighborhood : SOHO
25. "Crazy Rich ___" (hit 2018 movie) : ASIANS
26. Directive that's in force until canceled : STANDINGORDER
31. Eagles' nests : AERIES
32. Puerto ___ : RICO
33. Just a touch : DAB
36. Lobbying org. for seniors : AARP
37. Pioneer in email : AOL
38. Wild's opposite : TAME
39. "'Sup, ___?" : BRO
40. New Age energy field : AURA
42. Part of an urn that can turn : SPIGOT
44. Notice when getting fired : WALKINGPAPERS
47. Scarf down : INHALE
49. Big parts of donkeys : EARS
50. Birds that honk : GEESE
51. Justice Sotomayor : SONIA
53. Furry foot : PAW
56. Meadow : LEA
57. Repeated comical reference : RUNNINGJOKE
60. Like most things in "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" : ODD
61. Words said just before dinner : GRACE
62. Stan's buddy of old comedies : OLLIE
63. Pre-C.I.A. spy org. : OSS
64. "Holy cow! This could be bad!" : YIPES
65. With ___ in sight : NOEND
Down
1. Lawyer's assignment : CASE
2. Prince, to a throne : HEIR
3. "The Thin Man" dog : ASTA
4. One in need of drying out : SOT
5. Unit of a TV series : EPISODE
6. Agree to join : SIGNON
7. Newsman Chuck : TODD
8. Burden : ONUS
9. Ocasek of the Cars : RIC
10. Muddles through with what one has : MAKESDO
11. Middle school years, notably : AWKWARDAGE
12. Song of praise : PAEAN
13. Says "Dear God ..." : PRAYS
18. Sodas not much seen nowadays : NEHIS
23. It can be white or boldfaced : LIE
24. Small scissor cut : SNIP
25. Path of a Hail Mary pass : ARC
26. Bygone Swedish auto : SAAB
27. Bit of weeping : TEAR
28. Images on Kansas City Chiefs' helmets : ARROWHEADS
29. A pun can induce one : GROAN
30. Resource extracted from Alaska's North Slope : OIL
34. Roman god of love : AMOR
35. Wagers : BETS
37. NPR's Shapiro : ARI
38. Much of a salon worker's income : TIPS
40. Peanut or pollen reaction, possibly : ALLERGY
41. Hawaiian instrument, for short : UKE
42. Land on the Strait of Gibraltar : SPAIN
43. Model of excellence : PARAGON
45. Small batteries : AAS
46. Ones who are said to grant three wishes : GENIES
47. Eskimo home : IGLOO
48. Must-haves : NEEDS
51. Crackle and Pop's buddy : SNAP
52. Fairy tale beginning : ONCE
53. Tree : Christmas :: ___ : Festivus : POLE
54. Similar (to) : AKIN
55. Dandelion, for one : WEED
58. Spoon-bending Geller : URI
59. Singer and former "American Idol" judge, familiarly : JLO

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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