New York Times, Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Author: Susan Gelfand
Editor: Will Shortz
Susan Gelfand
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1411/3/20086/2/20160
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0652100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.69101

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 11 for Ms. Gelfand. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Susan Gelfand notes: I began this crossword by coming up with the revealer, ALL THE TRIMMINGS. Initially, I intended to use words associated with a ... more
Susan Gelfand notes: I began this crossword by coming up with the revealer, ALL THE TRIMMINGS. Initially, I intended to use words associated with a Thanksgiving Day feast such as turkey, dressing, etc. and to pair each of these words with one other word for the theme entries. However, that did not go too far. But all was not lost... I then changed course and started to focus on things that are used as decorative trim such as fringe, cord, etc. LUNATIC FRINGE was one of the first theme entries I came up with and I did what I could to make sure it ended up in the grid for a couple of reasons. First, there was not much else in two-word combinations that ended in fringe and secondly, I really liked it a lot. So there you have it, the inside scoop with all the trimmings.
Jeff Chen notes: Such strong theme answers today. LUNATIC FRINGE is one of my favorite answers in recent memory; a joy to uncover. And there's not ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Such strong theme answers today. LUNATIC FRINGE is one of my favorite answers in recent memory; a joy to uncover. And there's not much better than a cheap beer after a long run, so seeing PBR really did it for me. Everything is tied neatly together with ALL THE TRIMMINGS (RIBBON, CORD, FRINGE, and LACE all being types of trimming). Being the complete moron when it comes to all things decorative, I wasn't aware CORD could be anything besides what you tie around your pants to hold them up. Learn something new every day!

Ah, the central 13, bane of the constructor's existence. Those black squares on either side of the central answer cause all sorts of trouble. Anything that cuts down your flexibility means trouble, and fixing those two blacks squares may seem so minor, but they take away so many possibilities.

I like what Susan has done today with the black square pattern, forming a big "L" block on either side. Unusual to see such a big chunk of connected black squares. Visually it's a bit clunky, but it allows her to work in CYBERPUNK and ENCRYPTED as her long downs. When you have five theme answers, with the central one being an inconvenient length, sometimes you're just happy to escape with a fillable grid. I appreciate Susan's effort in giving us these two strong entries. To me, they're worth the price of REINE.

What with the high theme density and the central 13 difficulty, it's not surprising to see some blips in the fill quality. The NW and SE were bound to be difficult, given that a single word of five letters separates PABST BLUE RIBBON and SPINAL CORD. Trying to find something that works perfectly is not easy. I'm impressed that Susan only has NCR up top as a glue-y entry... unfortunately, it comes at 1-across. Not an ideal way to start a puzzle. The SE suffers a bit more, with LVI and CAGER (does anyone really use this term?) cropping up. I do love TV TRAY and BEEMER in the grid, but I'm not sure they're worth the hiccups in smoothness.

Standards have been ratcheting up over the years. When I first started a few years ago, I wouldn't have blinked at SSTAR or INT next to MCA. I suppose it's the curse of doing a daily puzzle, one's expectations always rising.

I'm a little mixed on whether I would have preferred to see this closer to Thanksgiving? On one hand it's overall a neat theme so I like getting it whenever I can. But it seems like a missed opportunity to run this nice Thanksgiving-ish-puzzle-which-really-isn't on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Anyway, a fun solving experience with a couple of rough spots.

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N
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,583
Across Down
1. Big A.T.M. maker : NCR
4. Part of TWA : TRANS
9. One turning to enter? : SCREW
14. "Now I get it!" : AHA
15. One of Santa's reindeer : VIXEN
16. Serengeti scavenger : HYENA
17. Brand with the tagline "Established in Milwaukee 1844" : PABSTBLUERIBBON
20. Glowing coal : EMBER
21. Roi's wife : REINE
22. Part of the back : SPINALCORD
25. They precede sigmas : RHOS
29. Vote of support : YEA
30. Garden of Eden creature : SERPENT
32. Prez on a penny : ABE
35. ___-mo : SLO
37. Big and cumbersome : BULKY
38. Extremist group : LUNATICFRINGE
42. Best friend of Thomas the Tank Engine : PERCY
43. Election day: Abbr. : TUE
44. Mary ___ cosmetics : KAY
45. Local's counterpart : EXPRESS
48. Triangular sail : JIB
50. Hardly brow-furrowing : EASY
51. Deli counter cheese brand : ALPINELACE
57. Hero of New Orleans : POBOY
59. Aquafina competitor : EVIAN
60. What Thanksgiving turkey may come with ... as suggested by parts of 17-, 22-, 38- and 51-Across? : ALLTHETRIMMINGS
65. Tricks : RUSES
66. Therefore : HENCE
67. Nat ___ (cable channel) : GEO
68. Bub : KIDDO
69. Relatively cool red giant : SSTAR
70. Mess up : ERR
1. Pickup sites? : NAPES
2. Titleholder : CHAMP
3. Temple teacher : RABBI
4. Couch potato's table : TVTRAY
5. Josh : RIB
6. Rock's ___ Rose : AXL
7. Prefix with surgeon : NEURO
8. Dirty looks : SNEERS
9. A guard may protect it : SHIN
10. Science fiction subgenre : CYBERPUNK
11. Yank's foe : REB
12. Brian who pioneered in ambient music : ENO
13. Lacking color : WAN
18. D.C. V.I.P. : SEN
19. Hitchhiker's need : RIDE
23. In case that : LEST
24. Colombian city : CALI
26. Wyeth subject : HELGA
27. Pleasant to the ear, say : ONKEY
28. Pig's place : STY
31. M.L.B. stat : RBI
32. Vega of "Spy Kids" : ALEXA
33. Pats on the back, maybe : BURPS
34. Unreadable without a key : ENCRYPTED
36. Big campaign mo. : OCT
39. Vote of support : AYE
40. Honshu peak : FUJI
41. Derby strap : REIN
42. Second of April? : PEE
46. Kemo ___ : SABE
47. Sluggish creatures : SLOTHS
49. 3 or 5 Series car, in slang : BEEMER
52. Combustible heaps : PYRES
53. Early year in Nero's reign : LVI
54. Former Celtic Danny : AINGE
55. 54-Down was one : CAGER
56. Belgian painter James : ENSOR
58. Very : OHSO
60. Ship in a 2014 Russell Crowe film : ARK
61. Him: Fr. : LUI
62. Acid : LSD
63. Acct. earnings : INT
64. Longtime record label : MCA

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

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