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New York Times, Saturday, September 7, 2019

Author:
Trenton Charlson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
154/26/20179/7/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
11022531
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.79012
Trenton Charlson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {F} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Charlson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Trenton Charlson notes:
I started this puzzle off with RAPUNZEL, which I thought might make a good second-row entry. Of course, being me, I saw the presence ... read more

I started this puzzle off with RAPUNZEL, which I thought might make a good second-row entry. Of course, being me, I saw the presence of ‘UN' as an invitation to place ‘QU' above it. That got me to J.V. SQUADS, which stacked well on top of RAPUNZEL, with the exception of the JR combination. I then came up with the idea of using JR. PAC-MAN, creating two intersecting stacks of 8-letter entries, which I would say seemed just crazy enough to work, but to be honest, it just seemed crazy. I was pleasantly surprised when that corner somehow ended up coming together (and pretty nicely, to boot—go figure).

PIXY STIX was the first entry I placed in the lower-right, and I was glad to be able to incorporate NOT QUITE and SPHINXES crossing it without too much difficulty. The upper-right and lower-left, however, were different stories. It's very challenging to connect a section that large to the rest of the puzzle, especially when you have to work around a long entry like 19-Across that runs straight through it, and already has four letters locked in. Overall, though, I thought those sections turned out pretty well (after much iteration), anchored by nice long answers in PRICKLY PEAR and especially IMPROV CLASS — which might be my favorite entry here — and I'm glad my clue for it survived.

Though the tough grid layout meant I had to make a few compromises, this puzzle still looks pretty good to me, with some interesting entries, fun, unique letter combinations, and more than a few rare letters (although it's NOT QUITE a pangram, despite a bit of eFFort …) Hope you enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes:
Trenton loves himself some rare letters. His last one was jam-packed with JQXZs, and this one's in the same mold. Knowing his ... read more

Trenton loves himself some rare letters. His last one was jam-packed with JQXZs, and this one's in the same mold. Knowing his tendencies, JV SQUADS and AZIMUTH came easily.

[Candy sold ...] – stop, that's all I need! It has to be PIXY STIX, because Trenton wanted Xs! Bwa ha ha, I'm a genius!

That insider knowledge makes me feel smug. Jeff likes to feel smug.

I did wonder how many solvers would recognize AZIMUTH. What, you're a Saturday solver and you don't know AZIMUTH? It's obvious! It's that angle … at which the height … star parallax … I DON'T NEED TO EXPLAIN MYSELF, SO THERE.

Fine, it's a tough term even for us engineering geeks. Even for those of us who did an astronomy internship at NASA's Ames Center. Ahem.

It's a shame that SNELL'S law couldn't have been invoked. Along with AZIMUTH, that would have been quite the pairing for us smugineers.

Editors prize multi-word themeless entries for their color, but today brings us many examples of how one-worders can shine. SPHINXES are mysterious. STINKERS is no stinker. And RAPUNZEL with a hair-raising escape, that's hilarious!

A 70-word themeless has to be both jazzy and pristine for me to perk up. The abundance of rare letters helped, but a couple of clues felt off. Does anyone call a vice-president a VICE? And isn't it paper-thin, not TISSUE-thin?

Along with a couple of words that might get the weirdometer clicking – SNELLS, SHIRRS, SAPID, SPILLAGE, singular ALGA – there were more trade-offs than I like. I can imagine solvers asking themselves, "What the snell?"

Solid Saturday workout, though — nearly mind-breaking as I tried to pull ITASCA, ANIMAS, GAMETE from memory. Sometimes it's arbitrary as to whether a puzzle runs on a Friday or a Saturday, but this one was a Saturday through and through.

Jim Horne notes:

Very tough. And I knew AZIMUTH.

1
J
2
V
3
S
4
Q
5
U
6
A
7
D
8
S
9
P
10
E
11
R
12
I
13
L
14
R
A
P
U
N
Z
E
L
15
G
A
M
E
T
E
16
P
R
I
E
D
I
E
U
17
A
N
I
M
A
S
18
A
I
L
19
I
M
P
R
20
O
V
C
L
A
S
S
21
C
A
L
22
D
U
D
23
T
E
R
E
N
C
E
24
M
B
A
25
S
26
T
I
27
S
S
U
E
28
D
A
N
29
A
L
G
A
30
H
S
T
31
P
A
32
W
33
N
E
E
D
34
S
35
H
A
36
T
37
S
A
38
P
39
I
40
D
41
E
T
42
S
43
G
A
44
S
45
V
I
C
E
46
I
47
M
48
S
49
I
N
50
D
E
B
T
51
E
X
E
C
52
M
A
T
53
I
N
E
E
54
L
E
55
I
56
Y
S
L
57
P
R
I
C
K
L
Y
58
P
E
A
R
59
S
K
I
60
I
S
R
A
E
L
61
A
T
L
A
62
N
T
A
N
63
S
H
I
R
R
S
64
N
O
T
Q
U
I
T
E
65
H
A
N
E
S
66
S
P
H
I
N
X
E
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0907 ( 25,505 )
Across
1
H.S. teams mainly with freshmen and sophomore players : JVSQUADS
9
Cause for caution : PERIL
14
One engaged in a hairy escape? : RAPUNZEL
15
Product of meiosis : GAMETE
16
Fixture in a church sanctuary : PRIEDIEU
17
Inner selves, to Jung : ANIMAS
18
Trouble : AIL
19
Where people may make a scene : IMPROVCLASS
21
Unit equivalent to 4.184 joules: Abbr. : CAL
22
Bust : DUD
23
Ancient Roman writer of comedies : TERENCE
24
51-Acrosses often hold them : MBAS
26
Epitome of thinness : TISSUE
28
Rank in judo : DAN
29
Film bit : ALGA
30
Only 20th-century president whose three distinct initials are in alphabetical order : HST
31
Shake on it! : PAW
33
Calls for : NEEDS
35
Ring-toss item? : HAT
37
Palatable : SAPID
41
A.P. exam inits. : ETS
43
Empty talk : GAS
45
Pence, e.g. : VICE
46
Some exchanges, in brief : IMS
49
Charging too much, say : INDEBT
51
Board appointment, for short : EXEC
52
Lower-priced ticket option, maybe : MATINEE
54
Floral arrangement : LEI
56
Monogram on L'Homme products : YSL
57
Cactus with an edible fruit : PRICKLYPEAR
59
Word with run or jump : SKI
60
___ Museum, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls : ISRAEL
61
Brave, e.g. : ATLANTAN
63
Gathers together with stitching : SHIRRS
64
"Close ..." : NOTQUITE
65
Jockey competitor : HANES
66
Enigmatic people : SPHINXES
Down
1
1980s arcade character with a propeller beanie : JRPACMAN
2
Not fixed : VARIABLE
3
Overflow : SPILLAGE
4
Spanish interrogative : QUE
5
Reversed : UNDID
6
Angle measured by an astrolabe : AZIMUTH
7
Kind of pizza : DEEPDISH
8
Musical symbol indicating legato : SLUR
9
Where the islets of Langerhans are located : PANCREAS
10
Rat in "Ratatouille" : EMILE
11
Send back : REMAND
12
Minnesota county or lake : ITASCA
13
Mitigate : LESSEN
15
Swore off : GAVEUP
20
Decisive periods, briefly : OTS
25
Singer with the 1986 #1 album "Promise" : SADE
27
Something to act on : STAGE
32
Image on an oscilloscope : WAVE
34
No-goodniks : STINKERS
36
Place to play a board game : TABLETOP
38
Candy sold in straws : PIXYSTIX
39
Something to lace up before competition : ICESKATE
40
Dips : DECLINES
42
Tackle box accessories : SNELLS
44
Ninja's asset : STEALTH
46
Like a troublemaker : IMPISH
47
___ Norman, 1983 Pulitzer-winning playwright : MARSHA
48
Add to the rotation? : STIRIN
50
Susan who starred on TV's "The Partridge Family" : DEY
53
Comforting comment : ICARE
55
Dialect of Arabic : IRAQI
58
Works (out) : PANS
62
Poor Clares member : NUN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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