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New York Times, Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Author:
Kary Haddad
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
19/7/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0001000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62000
Kary Haddad

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQY} Spans: 1 This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Haddad. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kary Haddad notes:
I'm excited to be making my Times debut today. I hope you enjoyed solving what I know was a bit of a quirky puzzle. A little about ... read more

I'm excited to be making my Times debut today. I hope you enjoyed solving what I know was a bit of a quirky puzzle.

A little about myself: I'm a music teacher and grad student in the dissertation phase of a doctorate in music education — which means learning how to construct crosswords was essentially an elaborate method of procrastination. It's very common to see teachers working together on the Times puzzle over lunch in the faculty room and eventually I wanted to see if I could put together a puzzle of my own.

My only other published puzzle was for BuzzFeed, where I learned a lot from the patient and helpful editing of Caleb Madison. This puzzle, in fact, was originally written for BuzzFeed, but was sadly orphaned when they shut down their crossword to contributors earlier this year. Happily, Will and Joel found it amusing enough to give it a second life and, consequently, my Times debut!

Unsurprisingly, a number of my clues were changed, although not as many as I expected, to my satisfaction. Will and Joel also changed a single letter in my submitted grid, changing AGE/EGO to ACE/ECO, I imagine to avoid the near-dupe with the neighboring HBOGO. I'm happy they left my clue for 67-A (STUNT) though, even if I'm the only one that thinks it's funny! Thanks for solving!

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Right up my alley, as my cooking skills are just a touch above [stick food in microwave]. Fun to get a sense for the old days ... read more

Debut! Right up my alley, as my cooking skills are just a touch above [stick food in microwave]. Fun to get a sense for the old days when HOT POCKETS and RAMEN NOODLES were some of my staples. Gave the puzzle a younger vibe, taking me back with an odd sense of nostalgia. Not sure why I liked stomach-turning HOT POCKETS so much...

Rare for a five-letter entry to catch my attention. I tried to sign up for HBO GO to watch "Silicon Valley" … but I couldn't figure it out. Yes, I'm now that old guy who doesn't understand newfangled technologies. Notwithstanding my ineptitude, I found myself staring at the odd HBOGO letter sequence, my brain struggling to parse it. Neat a-ha when it finally clicked.

ADAMA is another newish entry that didn't strike me as well. I watched most of BSG (Battlestar Galactica) but I had trouble with his name. Thankfully, the crossings were fair, and it was in a nice section featuring ADAGE / MAXIM crossing each other, which helped drown out some of the ADAMA struggle.

Generally pretty smooth for a debut. I did have some trouble with the lower left, where CDC crosses the confusing EDM (electronic … dance … music?), and SIA gave this pop-music idiot a long pause, hoping against hope that SAMOSA was right. Will has said that he avoids acronyms unless they're really, really well-known (like CDC), and I see his point even more clearly here with EDM. Tough to clue it in a way that explains to the solver what those randomish-seeming letters are.

The punchline — I CAN'T COOK — felt like it should be right up my alley, but I floundered, struggling to figure out how it works; why it's funny. This might have been an instance where maybe another quick-food item would have been better; no "revealer" necessary. (I do like COLD PIZZA, even more so because the preparation instructions = [Eat].)

And perhaps having four (or five) all-microwave easy edibles would have been nice? Some extra layer to tighten things up, as there are so many types of "instant" foods. Overall though, nice to get a young-feeling debut.

JimH notes:
Humor is such a personal thing. I was amused by the punchline and thought it tied the theme together perfectly.
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0907 ( 24,410 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Hip-hop's Kendrick ___ : LAMAR
6. Fly catcher : WEB
9. Like a visit from the Bishop of Rome : PAPAL
14. "Look before you leap," e.g. : ADAGE
15. It's not returned on the court : ACE
16. Way to stream "Game of Thrones" : HBOGO
17. Uber competitors : TAXIS
18. [Place in crisping sleeve; microwave for 2 minutes] : HOTPOCKET
20. One of the Estevezes : EMILIO
22. Charged particle : ION
23. Slate slate, for short : EDS
24. [Boil contents for 3 minutes; stir in seasoning packet] : RAMENNOODLES
28. Piercing spot : LOBE
29. Setting for "Friday the 13th" : CAMP
33. Santa ___ winds : ANA
36. Large or jumbo : SIZE
37. "It is better to ___ well than to arrive" : TRAVEL
39. [Put yesterday's General Tso's in microwave; heat for 2 minutes] : LEFTOVERCHINESE
42. Placid : SERENE
43. Hog fat : LARD
44. Gen. Beauregard's side: Abbr. : CSA
45. Scent : ODOR
46. iPhone assistant : SIRI
47. [Boil contents for 8-10 minutes; drain; add butter; stir in bright orange powder] : MACANDCHEESE
55. Open ___ night : MIC
58. Genre for much Top 40 radio, for short : EDM
59. Made : EARNED
60. Explanation one might give for following the directions of 18-, 24-, 39- and 47-Across? : ICANTCOOK
64. Circle lines : RADII
65. Imbecile : MORON
66. Singer of the 2016 #1 hit "Cheap Thrills" : SIA
67. Tom Cruise hanging onto an airplane during takeoff, for example : STUNT
68. Commercial prefix with -gram or -matic : INSTA
69. ___-right (modern conservative movement) : ALT
70. Partners of dreams : HOPES
Down
1. "Not now" : LATER
2. "Battlestar Galactica" commander : ADAMA
3. "He who hesitates is lost," e.g. : MAXIM
4. Twinkle-toed : AGILE
5. Pine product : RESIN
6. Baby's cry : WAH
7. Prefix with chic : ECO
8. "Woe ___ him, and her too": Jane Austen : BETIDE
9. Cell, e.g. : PHONE
10. Epitome of simplicity : ABC
11. Nudge : POKE
12. Like good Scotch : AGED
13. A ton : LOTS
19. Inside-the-Beltway sort : POL
21. Not taped : ONLIVE
25. Seepage : OOZE
26. Ohio school that pioneered coeducation : OBERLIN
27. Create a digital image of : SCAN
30. With: Fr. : AVEC
31. "Don't ___ with Texas" : MESS
32. "No contest," for one : PLEA
33. As well : ALSO
34. Requirement : NEED
35. ___-Cuban (music genre) : AFRO
36. John Quincy Adams, to John Adams : SON
37. How often Daniel Day-Lewis has won Best Actor : THRICE
38. Purge (of) : RID
40. Five years, for the U.N. secretary general : TERM
41. "We ___" (convenience store sign) : CARD
46. Indian appetizer : SAMOSA
48. Insurance giant : AETNA
49. Govt. health agency : CDC
50. Stringent : HARSH
51. Muse of poetry : ERATO
52. Turn out : ENDUP
53. River into which Joan of Arc's ashes were ordered to be thrown : SEINE
54. Revises : EDITS
55. "La Bohème" soprano : MIMI
56. Safari's is a compass : ICON
57. Some ferry cargo : CARS
61. "Just kidding!" : NOT
62. Painting medium : OIL
63. Krazy ___ : KAT

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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