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New York Times, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Author:
Evan Kalish
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
77/2/20189/3/20190
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0230020
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57020
Evan Kalish

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 32 Missing: {JVXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Kalish. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Evan Kalish notes:
I was so thrilled that this puzzle was accepted. It was one of my very first puzzle ideas, and it finally came to fruition last year. ... read more

I was so thrilled that this puzzle was accepted. It was one of my very first puzzle ideas, and it finally came to fruition last year. I wanted the theme to remain a mystery until the end, so straightforward entries like OOPSIE-DAISY and AXL ROSE were off the table. My only regret was that I couldn't include REINCARNATION.

Constructing this was a bit trickier than it might seem. The puzzle's layout was largely forced by the 11-letter revealer (LATE BLOOMER) and grid-spanning entries. Unfortunately, this meant lots of short (three-letter) entries, which aren't generally exciting for the solver. That said, I was pleased to be able to include stacks of longer down entries in the NE/SW corners.

I want to draw your attention to 23-Down. You might find this an unusual choice of clues to highlight, but I want to discuss ALI. It's one of those generally uneventful three-letter entries referred to above, and there are just so many ways to clue the name — most revolving around fictional characters and pugilists. I'm glad that the hilarious Ali Wong gets her first Daily New York Times crossword shout-out here. I try to be mindful of broadening the cross-section of accomplished people featured in clues, and I look forward to seeing more references to newer names like Mahershala Ali, Ali Krieger, Ali Stroker, and Ali Velshi in future crosswords.

Hope you enjoyed the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Evan's construction abilities have taken a meteoric rise. When I first started working with him, his ability to produce strong fill ... read more

Evan's construction abilities have taken a meteoric rise. When I first started working with him, his ability to produce strong fill was … underdeveloped. (As is almost everyone's!) I've seen firsthand how much time he invests in developing his craft, and it shows. It reminds me of Bruce Haight's trajectory.

Mid-length fill is becoming one of Evan's fortes. With a 76-word grid and four themers, I'd expect a solid constructor to produce a squeaky-clean grid packed with about six pieces of colorful fill. Check this out:

  • BUCKAROO / IN DENIAL / GOT NASTY
  • PECORINO / DRONED ON / FRUCTOSE

In just two corners, he's already hit the mark! But wait, there's more: TYPE AB / WOULDA. BREWPUB. IT'S BAD? No way, it's SUPERB!

Even his short fill: QUIPS. RAMBO. PLAN A. YODA. That's not stuff you see every day.

There was one blip, in TROMPE. It's fair game in general, but it runs the risk of moving the "weird" needle for newer solvers. It's to be avoided in an early-week puzzle, especially crossing APSE. We constructors tend to think APSE is something everyone knows, and we'd be wrong.

The theme works, although it more grazed than struck me. One reason: I've seen many variations on this idea by now. More important is a notion I hadn't considered until Will pointed it out a few years ago: PURPLE, BANANA, and COURTED do nothing for the theme. They spice things up, but ideally, hidden words ought to involve both words of the theme phrases.

Not all editors agree, and no rule says this must be done. There is a reason why Will and Peter Gordon often give me this feedback, though — BANANA is such dead weight.

An alternate concept: sticking with single words, which would have allowed for REINCARNATION. Single-word themes are rare, since they don't bring as much pizzazz as multi-worders, but entries like DRILLMASTER and KASHMIRIS would have been spicy. Heck, DAIQUIRIS by itself is awfully nice!

Now I'm curious to see what other flowers can be hidden at the ends of colorful words. Down the constructor's rabbit hole …

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 25,501 )

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Across
1
First word of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" : TWAS
5
Great : SUPERB
11
Great : BIG
14
Film character who says "Named must be your fear before banish it you can" : YODA
15
Captivate : ENAMOR
16
Card game with a high level of chance : UNO
17
Excessively ornate writing : PURPLEPROSE
19
Summer setting in K.C. : CDT
20
Whitney in the National Inventors Hall of Fame : ELI
21
Beverage in a 10-Down : IPA
22
Respond to an alarm : AWAKEN
24
"Don't judge a book by its cover," for instance : ADAGE
26
Sort : ILK
29
Preferred option for proceeding : PLANA
30
Some sweet cocktails : BANANADAIQUIRIS
33
You can take a trip with this without traveling : LSD
34
Refuse to acknowledge : SNUB
35
___ bran : OAT
36
.docx alternatives : PDFS
39
Long-stemmed mushroom : ENOKI
41
Word that can precede water or war : HOLY
42
Make a boo-boo : ERR
43
Indication of drunkenness : SLUR
44
One who's mastered the ropes : PRO
46
Did something hugely risky : COURTEDDISASTER
52
Perfectly timed : ONCUE
53
Have : EAT
54
Sign near a highway entrance : MERGE
55
Share, as an old story : RETELL
57
Bro or sis : SIB
59
Alternative to .net and .gov : ORG
60
Declaration just before a kiss : IDO
61
One who catches up eventually ... or a hint to the ends of 17-, 30- and 46-Across : LATEBLOOMER
65
ZIP codes, essentially: Abbr. : NOS
66
Lacking principles : AMORAL
67
Cathedral part : APSE
68
Wedded : ONE
69
Slow, medium and fast : SPEEDS
70
An "R" in R&R : REST
Down
1
Universal recipient's category : TYPEAB
2
Intended to, informally : WOULDA
3
Rocky's love in "Rocky" : ADRIAN
4
One who's easily fooled : SAP
5
Ooze : SEEP
6
Like bills that are overdue : UNPAID
7
Standard based largely on hole length : PAR
8
___ rap : EMO
9
Parks who is a civil rights hero : ROSA
10
Craft beer spot : BREWPUB
11
Cowboy : BUCKAROO
12
Experiencing the first stage of grief, say : INDENIAL
13
Took the gloves off : GOTNASTY
18
Some lenders' holdings : LIENS
23
Funny Wong : ALI
25
The ___ (gang for a ladies' night out) : GALS
27
Tommy ___, Dodgers manager with 1,599 career wins : LASORDA
28
Unusual sexual preference : KINK
31
"Skyfall" singer : ADELE
32
Lines that Groucho Marx is famous for : QUIPS
36
Cheese whose name comes from the Italian for "sheep" : PECORINO
37
Just kept talking and talking and talking and ... : DRONEDON
38
Source of added calories in many processed foods : FRUCTOSE
40
Statue that might offend a bluenose : NUDE
41
Cheat royally : HOSE
43
Popular Belgian beers, for short : STELLAS
45
"One-man army" of the silver screen : RAMBO
47
Feel sorry about : RUE
48
Dire appraisal of a situation : ITSBAD
49
___ l'oeil : TROMPE
50
Exit : EGRESS
51
Feel sorry about : REGRET
56
Tiffany treasure : LAMP
58
Woes : ILLS
62
Little dipper? : TOE
63
"Able was I ___ I saw Elba" : ERE
64
Sculling implement : OAR

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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