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CLOTHES THAT FIT

New York Times, Sunday, November 13, 2016

Author: Joel Fagliano
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
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Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 132, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 51 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes: One thing I often tussle with when putting together a theme is the balance between consistency and playfulness. On the one hand, it's nice for the solver who has cottoned onto the theme to have some idea of ... more
Joel Fagliano notes:

One thing I often tussle with when putting together a theme is the balance between consistency and playfulness. On the one hand, it's nice for the solver who has cottoned onto the theme to have some idea of what the following theme answers will look like. On the other hand, curveballs and surprising theme answers can add extra aha moments to the solve and more satisfaction.

With this theme, I originally had thrown some extraneous words on like SWEATER AND LOUD PANTS for a marathoner, TWO SOCKS AND A BELT for the boxer, and so on. My thinking was the ___ AND ___ format would get too repetitive. But in the end, it felt like it was going to be inconsistent for the solver to encounter some theme answers with extraneous words and others without. My compromise was to put a trio (TURTLENECK, BOA AND CROCS) across the middle, which does break the pattern but in a more constrained way. That was my way of adding an extra "aha".

I'm not sure solvers care about any of this that much, but these are the things constructors agonize over!

Hope everyone enjoys the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes: I have to admit I didn't understand this one at all after uncovering PANTS AND A SNEAKER. Of course an aerobics instructor would wear pants! And a sneaker! But why not two? I felt silly when I realized that ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I have to admit I didn't understand this one at all after uncovering PANTS AND A SNEAKER. Of course an aerobics instructor would wear pants! And a sneaker! But why not two?

I felt silly when I realized that 1.) it was PANTS AND A SWEATER and 2.) how much fun, that you hear PANTS in an aerobics class, and everyone is a SWEATER (one who sweats). Amusing play on double-meanings of words.

I liked most all the themers, but I loved SLACKS AND LOAFERS for an unemployed person — slacking and loafing are two of my favorite hobbies. And some of the themers also gave me amusing visuals. A gardener wearing BLOOMERS AND HOSE, love it!

I wasn't as much a fan of the central answer because 1.) it was the only one with three items, so I had a hard time figuring out that I needed implied commas in TURTLENECK, BOA, AND CROCS and 2.) TURTLENECK is associated with the turtle (to some extent), as is BOA / feather boa, and CROCS even have a crocodile for a logo — no real wordplay for me here.

Incredibly well-constructed. Plenty of constructors have tried to go down to 132 words, but very few have been successful in creating a both snazzy and smooth product. Joel uses four big corners and a diagonal swath of white in the middle of the puzzle, both of which should result in at least a few dabs of crossword glue, or at least some bleh/neutral answers. I love that lower left, with TRIBUTE BANDS, TAPENADE, WEB APP, (we were) ON A BREAK! ("Friends," anyone?), TEMPEST, with such clean results. Great stuff.

There were a few tiny HICCUPs here and there — as good as L'ETAT, C'EST MOI / DRONE BEE / the ICE MAN are in the upper right, TOOTER feels contrived. And in the lower right, PISTES is a bit esoteric. But to get so much jazzy fill like CHAKRA, KRONOS, CHIPPER, even CANNIBAL with a jokey clue, that's great stuff.

A playful theme plus top-notch execution is a rare feat on a Sunday 21x.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,477
Across Down
1. Upbeat : CHIPPER
8. Follows the party line? : CONGAS
14. Senator Vinick's portrayer on "The West Wing" : ALDA
18. The rest of China, to Hong Kong and Macau : MAINLAND
19. Interstate highway feature : ONRAMP
20. Chemically treated hairstyle : PERM
21. The aerobics instructor wore ... : PANTSANDASWEATER
23. "Then again ...," to a texter : OTOH
24. British poet laureate Carol ___ Duffy : ANN
25. Get even : TIE
26. Obamacare option, for short : HMO
27. Interstate highway feature : EXITLANE
29. The lawyer wore a ... : SUITANDBRIEFS
34. Horn blower : TOOTER
35. Wooden-soled shoes : SABOTS
36. Curb, with "in" : REIN
37. Floor : AMAZE
40. Airer of 89-Down : CBS
41. Open space in a forest : GLADE
42. Affliction in "Philadelphia" : AIDS
43. "A Fish Called Wanda" co-star Kevin : KLINE
44. Borscht vegetable : BEET
45. Destination of some SAS flights : OSLO
46. The gardener wore ... : BLOOMERSANDHOSE
49. "Whatever satisfies the ___ is truth": Whitman : SOUL
51. Gallows item : NOOSE
52. Bank fig. : INT
53. Everyone's bets : POT
56. Naval jail : BRIG
58. "Fifty Shades of Grey" topic, for short : SANDM
59. Nickname for basketball's George Gervin : ICEMAN
62. The reptile expert wore a ... : TURTLENECKBOAANDCROCS
66. Recipe direction : STIRIN
67. Quarter back? : TAILS
68. "Star Trek" role : SULU
69. "Isn't ___ shame?" : ITA
70. Important : BIG
71. "Death be not proud" poet : DONNE
72. Gilbert Grape portrayer : DEPP
74. The plumber wore a ... : TUBETOPANDCLOGS
79. What fans do : CLAP
83. Word repeated before show : LATE
84. Partner of each : EVERY
85. Logical flaw : HOLE
86. Russian pancakes : BLINI
87. Friend of Tarzan : APE
88. Revise : AMEND
89. Get exactly right : NAIL
90. Much Etsy merchandise : CRAFTS
91. Google Docs, e.g. : WEBAPP
93. The boxer wore ... : SOCKSANDABELT
96. Away from work temporarily : ONABREAK
99. Put on : AIR
100. Hosp. areas : ORS
101. 22nd out of 26 : VEE
102. See 9-Down : MANY
103. The happily unemployed person wore ... : SLACKSANDLOAFERS
108. Puts on : ADDS
109. Means of escaping prison, maybe : TUNNEL
110. Smooth and continuous : SEAMLESS
111. It's a loch : NESS
112. Yellow-brown : SIENNA
113. Sex ed topic : CONSENT
1. One looking to serve mankind? : CANNIBAL
2. Successful turn in the game Battleship : HIT
3. Kind of tuition : INSTATE
4. Where the buffalo roam : PLAINS
5. Like a French door : PANED
6. Maze word : END
7. Nutritional amt. : RDA
8. Ranchers : COWMEN
9. With 102-Across, not the only : ONEOF
10. Major D.C. lobby : NRA
11. Arena income : GATE
12. Capital One competitor, for short : AMEX
13. Applied, as cologne : SPRITZED
14. Speed skater ___ Anton Ohno : APOLO
15. Famed claim from Louis XIV : LETATCESTMOI
16. Queen's mate : DRONEBEE
17. Home to Hampshire College : AMHERST
18. Guides : MANUALS
21. Turn a corner in Monopoly : PASSGO
22. Religious branch sometimes spelled with an apostrophe : SHIISM
28. Sole neighbor : TOE
30. Bothers : TODOS
31. Pizazz : BRIO
32. Overhaul : REDO
33. Cleansing substance : SALSODA
38. Noxious emanations : MIASMAS
39. William and Mary's successor : ANNE
42. Aggressive bet : ALLIN
43. Zeus' father : KRONOS
44. Stupid mistake : BONER
46. Van trailer? : BUREN
47. Facilitated : ENABLED
48. Minor setback : HICCUP
50. Accommodate : OBLIGE
53. N.B.A. stat: Abbr. : PTS
54. Excuse : OUT
55. Dread Zeppelin and the Wholigans : TRIBUTEBANDS
57. Shake one's defender : GETOPEN
58. Dope : SKINNY
59. Wastes gas, say : IDLES
60. Patriot ___ : ACT
61. Org. in "Snowden" : NSA
63. "Survivor" faction : TRIBE
64. Baseless rumors : CANARDS
65. Gentle reminder : NUDGE
71. Plunged : DOVE
73. School area that has mice : PCLAB
74. Dip made with olives, capers and anchovies : TAPENADE
75. Violent storms : TEMPESTS
76. Energy point in yoga : CHAKRA
77. Wife on TV's "Family Guy" : LOIS
78. Cantina vessel : OLLA
80. It helps you stay above water : LIFEVEST
81. Two for a buck : ANTLERS
82. Downhill ski runs : PISTES
83. The Doors album with the hit "Riders on the Storm" : LAWOMAN
86. Victoria's Secret event : BRASALE
88. Patriots' Day mo. : APR
89. Spinoff drama featuring LL Cool J : NCISLA
90. Some data storage media : CDROMS
92. Deep gulf : ABYSS
94. Like some wine casks : OAKEN
95. Jonathan who co-created HBO's "Westworld" : NOLAN
97. His: Fr. : ALUI
98. Classic Orson Welles role : KANE
104. Fareed Zakaria's employer : CNN
105. Defense advisory grp. : NSC
106. In excelsis ___ : DEO
107. Swamp : FEN

Answer summary: 14 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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