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NUMBER-ONE FRIENDS

New York Times, Sunday, August 10, 2014

Author: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Editor: Will Shortz
Elizabeth C. Gorski
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2197/31/19952/23/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6716363439243
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5430225
Bo

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 139, Blocks: 81 Missing: {JQ} Grid has mirror symmetry This is puzzle # 213 for Ms. Gorski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Elizabeth C. Gorski notes: Josh Billings said: 'A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.' These dog days of summer call for a Sunday puzzle whose bark is bigger than its bite. A not-so-hard ... more
Elizabeth C. Gorski notes: Josh Billings said: "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself."

These dog days of summer call for a Sunday puzzle whose bark is bigger than its bite. A not-so-hard theme and fill seem appropriate for a sultry summer solve. The inspiration? The Obama family pooches — Bo and Sunny, our current, very cute, White House dogs.

I imagine that the pressures of the Presidency, along with the loneliness of the office, are eased by the presence of an unconditionally-loving pet. Over the years, our First Dogs have achieved sufficient fame to warrant a puzzle of their own.

As I constructed the grid, the primary design challenge was to surround the central doggy face with enough white space to make the face smile back at you.

Dog owners, I hope you'll work this puzzle with your pooch at your side, with extra ORTS on hand. Thank you for solving!

Will Shortz notes: An earlier version of this puzzle had the answer CHECKERS MATCH at 24A, clued as ''Jumping' competition [the Nixons]'. One of the puzzle testers, though, Frank Longo, pointed out that the Nixons' dog Checkers ... more
Will Shortz notes: An earlier version of this puzzle had the answer CHECKERS MATCH at 24A, clued as "'Jumping' competition [the Nixons]". One of the puzzle testers, though, Frank Longo, pointed out that the Nixons' dog Checkers died in 1964, five years before Nixon took office, so Checkers was never a WHITE HOUSE DOG (62A). That was a great catch, preventing an error from getting into print. On top of that, Frank reworked the upper-middle portion of the grid with the new theme entry HER EXCELLENCY. Thank god for Frank!
Jeff Chen notes: More grid art! Liz usually employs circled letters to form visual elements (check out how many on that page are hers!), but today she uses those black squares as her paintbrush. I generally prefer this approach, ... more
Jeff Chen notes: More grid art! Liz usually employs circled letters to form visual elements (check out how many on that page are hers!), but today she uses those black squares as her paintbrush. I generally prefer this approach, as black squares are such a strong visual element that they often overwhelm any other effects. And what an effect today — as a pet lover, I couldn't help falling for that cute dog in the center and its ears standing straight up. Dogs

For me, the best Sunday puzzles are the ones with themes or ideas that cannot be done in a 15x grid. Jill and I did a similar dog picture a while back in a 15x, but that picture constrained things so much we didn't have room to put more than a few theme answers in. I love how today's large palette allows for quite a bit more, namely themers starting with the name of a WHITE HOUSE DOG. Neat idea.

I didn't know every WHITE HOUSE DOG, so the puzzle played difficult for me. It was even harder because Sundays require more open space than usual weekday themed puzzles. Check out that giant SW region, with MILLIE SMALL / LEG WARMER / ANNE MEARA. That's a themeless-esque stack right there! Not easy to fill. The crossings were rough for me, and I imagine I won't be the only one. MARL has an old-timey ADIT-type feel to it (an ADIT is a rarely used word for a mine shaft opening), and OREL / RAMA / MILLIE SMALL / NEWELL make for an awfully difficult pile-up of esoteric proper names.

Deploying so many black squares to form the picture of the dog forces big open spaces everywhere throughout the puzzle. The south is another good example of that. That giant space contains some great entries like BUDDY SYSTEM and ESCAPE ROUTE. However, MDCC, OSE, STETS, and POEME are a pretty high price to pay for all the goodness. Sundays are so tricky to create without a few of these blips. In many ways, much harder than a themeless.

Overall, a great visual, causing a lot of constraints in the grid and some compromises in the fill.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,651
Across Down
1. Count back? : ESS
4. Not the final version : BETA
8. Lab report? : ARF
11. "Coffee Cantata" composer : BACH
15. Role on "Frasier" : ROZ
18. Clear the deck? : MOP
19. Acknowledge : AVOW
20. Provo sch. : BYU
21. Singer with the triple-platinum album "The Memory of Trees" : ENYA
22. Shepherded she? : EWE
23. Book jacket bit : BIO
24. *What to call a female ambassador [the Johnsons] : HEREXCELLENCY
27. Gen ___ : XER
28. Table scraps : ORTS
30. Hillock : RISE
31. Off-white shade : OPAL
32. Very : OHSO
33. Mexican wrap : SERAPE
35. It's all uphill from here : NADIR
39. Very busy : ORNATE
41. Consider necessary : SEEFIT
42. Upright : ONEND
43. Baseball's Alvarez and others : PEDROS
44. Damon and Dillon : MATTS
46. ___ prosequi ("proceed no further" court entry) : NOLLE
47. Program carrier : USHER
48. Crude crowd : BOORS
50. Motorcycle demos, e.g. : TESTRIDES
53. One side of the pH scale : ACIDS
56. Makes unnecessary : OBVIATES
58. French "Inc." : CIE
59. Experiences with great enjoyment : DRINKSIN
61. Expensive spoonful, maybe : ROE
62. What the answer to each of the six starred clues starts with : WHITEHOUSEDOG
65. Old antipoverty agcy. : OEO
66. Purell target : GERM
68. Max Peel, for example: Abbr. : ANAG
69. Partner of scratch : CLAW
70. Slight : SNUB
71. Days ___ : INN
73. With 75-Across, bark : BOW
75. See 73-Across : WOW
76. Prefix with pressure : ACU
78. ___ Cup (candy with a gooey center) : MALLO
81. Utah ski resort : ALTA
82. Director Nicolas : ROEG
84. On-track Bobby : UNSER
88. Common deli meat order: Abbr. : ONELB
89. Modern know-it-all? : SIRI
90. Mayberry kid : OPIE
91. Between: Fr. : ENTRE
92. Dickinson of TV's "Police Woman" : ANGIE
93. "Not likely!" : ASIF
94. Hardy heroine : TESS
95. How school kids are grouped : BYAGE
96. Mike who directed "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" : NEWELL
98. Some computers, familiarly : HPS
99. Hectic hosp. areas : ERS
100. What a packing person may pack : PISTOL
101. General public : MASSES
103. Part of lye : SODIUM
104. It can make waves : PERM
105. Lasagna ingredient : TOMATOPASTE
113. Think : DEEM
115. Any of nine kings of Thailand : RAMA
116. *Pairing up for safety [the Clintons] : BUDDYSYSTEM
117. Accusatory words : ETTU
118. Pitcher Hershiser : OREL
119. Freedom trail? : ESCAPEROUTE
120. Huntsman Center team : UTES
121. Earthy deposit : MARL
122. Climax : ACME
123. Whacks : OFFS
124. Brighten (up) : PERK
1. Give some relief : EMBOSS
2. Many a ball : SOIREE
3. *Cleaning supply [the Bushes 43] : SPOTREMOVER
4. "Phooey!" : BAH
5. City north of Seattle : EVERETT
6. Doughnuts : TORI
7. Wows : AWES
8. Epitome of simplicity : ABC
9. Alternative to pumpernickel : RYE
10. Suffix with art : FUL
11. Smartphone sound : BEEP
12. "The King and I" heroine : ANNA
13. One with an eye for a storyteller? : CYCLOPS
14. Cow chow : HAY
15. *"My Fair Lady" co-star [the Reagans] : REXHARRISON
16. Must pay, as a debt : OWESTO
17. Two out of 100? : ZEROES
25. Some gas atoms, informally : XENONS
26. Domineered, with "over" : LORDED
29. Adventure with a guide : SAFARI
32. Next : ONDECK
34. Two-person tool : PITSAW
36. Amount to "kick it up" : ANOTCH
37. Texas border city : DELRIO
38. Taking the place (of) : INLIEU
40. Move, as a painting : REHANG
45. Pub vessel : STEIN
47. Old food label std. : USRDA
48. "Star Trek" enemy, with "the" : BORG
49. Letter before Peter in a phonetic alphabet : OBOE
51. Found : ESTABLISH
52. Last song Rodgers and Hammerstein did together (1959) : EDELWEISS
54. French prayer addressee : DIEU
55. One never stooping : SNOB
57. Larger ___ life : THAN
60. Place to caucus : IOWA
63. A big head may be on one : EGOTRIP
64. Pooper ___ : SCOOPER
67. *Singer with the 1964 #2 hit "My Boy Lollipop" [the Bushes 41] : MILLIESMALL
70. *Egg order [the Obamas] : SUNNYSIDEUP
72. Some gold medals : NOBELS
74. Slight people : WAIFS
75. Composed : WROTE
77. Contract bridge tactic : CUEBID
78. Zombie's sound : MOAN
79. Actress nominated for a Golden Globe for "Rhoda" : ANNEMEARA
80. Dancer's wear : LEGWARMER
81. Pretty picture connector? : ASA
83. Some fridges : GES
85. Oscar, e.g. : STATUETTE
86. Rowing machine, for one : ERGOMETER
87. Stagger : REEL
97. Not interfere with : LETBE
100. Item in Baudelaire's oeuvre : POEME
102. March great : SOUSA
103. Editorial instructions : STETS
104. Dance with a king : PROM
106. Year John Dryden died : MDCC
107. West of the screen : ADAM
108. Information gleaned from a dating site : TYPE
109. Sugar suffix : OSE
110. Firebug : PYRO
111. Starting : ASOF
112. Double ___ Oreo : STUF
114. Perfume ingredient : MUSK

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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