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New York Times, Saturday, September 9, 2017

Author:
John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2110/9/20122/8/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1322463
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63100
John Guzzetta
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
141/23/20142/8/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1214141
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
Michael Hawkins

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JKQX} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Guzzetta. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Hawkins. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Michael provided the bottom to get us going, I did the top, and we batted around the east and west until we both liked it. We finished ... read more

Michael provided the bottom to get us going, I did the top, and we batted around the east and west until we both liked it. We finished the grid just before a Sept 2016 hike in North Cascades National Park. So we worked on clues while charging up and down mountains. Even though few of the clues survived, it's definitely our favorite collaboration published so far.

Jeff Chen notes:
A ton of strong entries today, most all of them hitting home so well for me. That bottom stack in particular — PEACE SUMMIT, PR ... read more

A ton of strong entries today, most all of them hitting home so well for me. That bottom stack in particular — PEACE SUMMIT, PR NIGHTMARE with its crazy PRN start, and SPIDEY SENSE? Yes, please! And there was so much goodness in those four corners, WORLDS APART to ZONE DEFENSE to HORSE AROUND to VAN DAMME (check out "JCVD" if you haven't seen it — amazing movie!).

And ADOLESCENTS isn't usually an entry I'd point out as an asset, but its clue made it shine. Such an innocent looking [Minority group] clue made me think of voting minorities, not under the age of 18 folks. Perfect wordplay; so clever.

The EMAIL clue, referencing the shenanigans in the 2016 election? Too soon, Will and Joel. Too soon.

I typically hold 72-word themelesses to a very high bar, because they're pretty easy to execute on. For me to pick one as a POW!, it usually has to contain well over 10 great entries, and close to no crossword glue. This one made me rethink my criteria. I counted about 11 assets and 3-4 liabilities. EEE in particular is EEEgregious, a constructor's crutch that I'd never use in one of my puzzles.

But I enjoyed the puzzle so much, that I was able to overlook these issues. Although there were some lost opportunities in the long slots — ARTINESS and GET REST don't do much except take up valuable real estate — the feature entries were so strong. Made me think I need to adjust my evaluation metrics, perhaps giving strong entries one point and super-strong ones two points?

My OCD need to measure and record everything aside, themeless puzzles are all about how the entries hit a solver's personal interests. This one was spot-on for me.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0909 ( 24,777 )
Across
1
Like night and day : WORLDSAPART
12
Take another direction : ZAG
15
Alternative to Pandora or Spotify : IHEARTRADIO
16
Words of praise : ODE
17
Became excited : GOTTURNEDON
18
Business concern : NET
19
2016 campaign topic : EMAIL
20
Difficulty picking up subtleties : TINEAR
22
Comparative indicator : THAN
25
Pool cover : FELT
27
Dormant : IDLE
28
"Ain't gonna happen!" : NODICE
30
Pretension : ARTINESS
33
Loyalty, old-style : TROTH
34
Timorese, e.g. : ASIAN
35
Richest part : FAT
36
Is dormant : SLEEPS
38
Faced with courage : BRAVED
40
Oxford designation : EEE
41
Son-in-law of Chief Powhatan : ROLFE
43
Ebbs : WANES
45
One getting depressed on the road : GASPEDAL
47
Person with a mental bloc? : MENSAN
48
It may prey on a ray : ORCA
49
Team in Houston : NASA
51
Inspiron maker : DELL
52
Means of keeping musical time : TOETAP
55
Date preceder : CIRCA
57
With 10-Down, go wild : RUN
58
President Clinton hosted one in 2000 : PEACESUMMIT
63
Football stat: Abbr. : INT
64
Big headache for a company rep : PRNIGHTMARE
65
They have sgts. : PDS
66
Intuition about something soon to happen : SPIDEYSENSE
Down
1
Drag accessory : WIG
2
"Well, I'll be!" : OHO
3
Like hall-of-fame inductees, typically : RET
4
Time for many TV talk shows, informally : LATENITE
5
Refinery container : DRUM
6
Fire on from above : STRAFE
7
"The Governator" : ARNIE
8
Valencian dishes : PAELLAS
9
Also say : ADD
10
See 57-Across : RIOT
11
Collette of "United States of Tara" : TONI
12
2-3 or 1-2-2, in basketball : ZONEDEFENSE
13
"We agreed to it, so you'd better deliver" : ADEALSADEAL
14
Recharge, so to speak : GETREST
21
"Little Birds" author : NIN
22
P.G.A. Championship airer : TNT
23
Goof off : HORSEAROUND
24
Minority group : ADOLESCENTS
26
Crow, for one : TRIBE
29
Start of a billet-doux : CHERE
31
Roadway finisher : TAR
32
Knocked out : INAWE
34
C. S. Lewis's symbol of Jesus : ASLAN
37
Edible part of a mesquite tree : POD
39
"Sudden Death" star, 1995 : VANDAMME
40
A star might go on one : EGOTRIP
42
Like a wet noodle : FLACCID
44
Its artists do many sketches, for short : SNL
46
Too slick : PAT
47
Boggy : MARSHY
50
Counterpart of a blitz : SIEGE
53
Pandora and Spotify : APPS
54
Kind of walk : PERP
56
Deli case display : CUTS
59
"___ ohev otach" (Hebrew for "I love you") : ANI
60
Staff : MAN
61
Government org. impersonated in many phishing scams : IRS
62
Starting point for a hole : TEE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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