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New York Times, Monday, September 3, 2018

Author:
Trent H. Evans
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
29/3/20183/11/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0200000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48000
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
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Resource extracted from Alaska's North Slope : OIL
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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
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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
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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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?