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New York Times, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 50 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: In the print version of this puzzle, the circled squares are instead outlined in heavy black bars to form a spiral shape.
Jeff Chen notes: Ice cream swirls today, CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM, and PISTACHO swirling within the puzzle. And what an impressive ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Ice cream swirls today, CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM, and PISTACHO swirling within the puzzle. And what an impressive construction! There have been tons of puzzles done with 2x2 chunks of letters (square D E A L kind of things), but rarely 3x3s. That's because they are so incredibly tough to execute on without resorting to the ugliest (capital Ug) type of crossword glue to hold those areas together. Most 2x2 chunks suffer, so think about how much harder a 3x3 is — I'd estimate it's a factor of 5 tougher.

Joel is one of the best gridworkers in the business, so I always expect a lot out of his puzzles, but this one goes above and beyond. I braced myself in each of those four areas, ready to cringe at some ridiculous random set of letters trying to pass off as a real entry … but there was nothing even creaky! TOI is very minor, and although NEHI will draw some assorted groans, it is a real brand. (Plus, it's Radar O'Reilly's drink of choice!) It's astounding that Joel managed to pull off this ambitious construction so smoothly.

He did have the advantage of flexibility — both in where the swirl started and which direction it went. Both of those seemed a bit random for my taste, but then again, that's how swirls really do appear in ice cream.

I did hitch on pistachio, as it's my favorite flavor of ice cream … and I've never seen a swirl in any pint I've eaten. Looking it up, there do appear to be pistachio swirl cakes, but no pistachio swirl ice cream. Dang it, now I really want someone to make just that! Hopefully Ben or Jerry is a crossword fan (please pass this along to them if you know ‘em) and heeds my desperate plea.

So that is a ding for me — CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM swirls = real things. Sigh, PISTACHIO. I'm not even sure what that would look like in ice cream form, but dang it, I want to know now!

The swirls smack dab in the 9x3 stacks were even more impressive, given the fact that 9x3 stacks in themselves are hard enough to get clean and colorful. To pull one off with a mostly fixed 3x3 chunk right inside is plain insane. EX HIPPIES did feel slightly made-up, but it's a funny enough answer that I decided I liked it. With great stuff like MATCH GAME, NO CONTEST, THAT'S A LIE — and just an ESTS and a TOI / ALII to pay — these are some brilliant sections.

Neat visual (see below for how it looked in print), gold-medal execution = very fun solve.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,395
Across Down
1. Classic TV show with a celebrity panel : MATCHGAME
10. Verbally attack : BASH
14. Taverns : ALEHOUSES
15. Yo-Yo Ma's instrument : CELLO
16. Plea that accepts conviction without admitting guilt : NOCONTEST
17. Picture puzzle : REBUS
18. Soda brand introduced in 1924 : NEHI
19. Feudal status : VASSALAGE
21. Philosopher Descartes : RENE
24. Musical set in Oz, with "The" : WIZ
25. "Aaron Burr, ___" ("Hamilton" song with a rhyming title) : SIR
28. Like Monopoly deeds that are flipped upside down : MORTGAGED
32. Starchy substance found in some plant roots : INULIN
34. Direction : WAY
35. Software issues : BUGS
38. Strong suit? : ARMOR
39. Gift in a relationship that's getting serious, maybe : KEY
40. "Network" director Sidney : LUMET
41. Cat call : MEOW
42. Saldana of "Star Trek Beyond" : ZOE
43. Unsteady : WOBBLY
44. 4, for 19 divided by 5 : REMAINDER
47. Windows : Microsoft :: ___ : Apple : OSX
48. Snooze : NAP
49. Some airport postings, for short : ETDS
51. Flawed : IMPERFECT
56. Counselor employer : CAMP
60. Ice cream feature represented four times in this puzzle : SWIRL
61. "False!" : THATSALIE
64. Chutney fruit : MANGO
65. Springing back in disgust : RECOILING
66. Rural carriage : SHAY
67. Many flower children, these days : EXHIPPIES
1. Thomas who wrote "Death in Venice" : MANN
2. ___ vera : ALOE
3. Silicon Valley specialty : TECH
4. "Hallelujah!" singers : CHOIR
5. Sweetie : HON
6. Belly : GUT
7. Unfailingly : ASEVER
8. Formation with steep cliffs : MESA
9. Best guesses: Abbr. : ESTS
10. The Devil : BEELZEBUB
11. Duchess of ___ (Goya subject) : ALBA
12. Creature leaving a slime trail : SLUG
13. Garden watering aid : HOSE
15. Bond player after Brosnan : CRAIG
20. Influence : SWAY
22. Sheik's peer : EMIR
23. Prefix with issue : NON
25. Thailand, before 1939 : SIAM
26. About, on a memo : INRE
27. One might start "I heard ..." : RUMOR
29. 11-year old, e.g. : TWEEN
30. Part of L.G.B.T. : GAY
31. Toon that flies with his ears : DUMBO
33. Lethargic : LOWENERGY
36. Hair stiffeners : GELS
37. One hell of a river? : STYX
39. Garden pond fish : KOI
40. Feudal figure : LORD
42. ___ Dingbats (font) : ZAPF
43. Soaked : WET
45. Drug kingpin on "The Wire" : MARLO
46. Separate : DETACH
50. Skullcap? : SCALP
51. Schools of thought : ISMS
52. Sound of an air kiss : MWAH
53. ___ colada : PINA
54. French "to be" : ETRE
55. Party mix cereal : CHEX
57. Et ___ (and others) : ALII
58. Seven Dwarfs' workplace : MINE
59. Mastermind game pieces : PEGS
62. French "you" : TOI
63. Small taste : SIP

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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