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New York Times, Saturday, December 10, 2016

Author: Byron Walden
Editor: Will Shortz
Byron Walden
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8311/23/200112/10/201611
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701192567
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1.59321

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 27 Missing: {FJQW} This is puzzle # 83 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes: The answer to the age-old question of 'Do you start with the answers or with the clues?' is sometimes 'I start with one really ... more
Byron Walden notes:

The answer to the age-old question of "Do you start with the answers or with the clues?" is sometimes "I start with one really nasty tough clue, and then build the rest of the puzzle around that entry." This puzzle was all about a vehicle for the [Play with an imaginary friend] at 15A. Very tricky obviously, and no ? as a warning.

After a lot of fiddling and polishing multiple versions. I saw that I had IVAN next to LEND. If there had been an easy fix, I would have tried to turn LEND into LENDL. I would have needed a five letter LG??? — LGBTQ would be great, and maybe even possible, but it was quickly evident that finishing the grid would have been murder, so I dropped it. This is the disadvantage from the constructor's point of view of grids that have lots of flow. The effects of changes in one area propagate elsewhere freely. But having flow is better for solvers, so I try to maximize it where I can. Sure, you get saddled with a TESORO now and then, but on balance, I hope it ends up for a more enjoyable puzzle overall.

Jeff Chen notes: Love some of the long multi-word entries! EXHIBITA looks so cool and bizarre (it's 'Exhibit A'), I'M TOO SEXY is unfortunately very ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Love some of the long multi-word entries! EXHIBITA looks so cool and bizarre (it's "Exhibit A"), I'M TOO SEXY is unfortunately very catchy, and the kid in me absolutely giggles with glee over the SLEEPER HOLD. (I watched way too much WWE as a kid.) Along with a PARTY BUS, PED XING, EXIT POLL, and SKI LODGE, that's some strong material throughout the puzzle.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I tend to find single-word entries less interesting than multi-worders. Part of it is that years ago, Rich Norris of the LAT imparted upon me how single-word entries can make a puzzle feel more like a school test rather than entertainment. For example, AMORTIZE doesn't wow me, even though I spent way too much time studying amortization in my accounting classes. And it's hard to do much with words like KNEADERS and SNOOPERS, which feel so contrived what with their -ERS addition.

But Byron does a good job working in some single-worders that I do find fun in themselves. Something really interesting about the words CAVALIER, EBENEZER, MAROONED — they all bring up interesting images in my head. Personal taste, of course.

This isn't to say that multi-worders are always better than single-worders — STAND NEXT TO doesn't do a lot for me, for example.

Byron always does such a great job of clue writing. There's a standout in [Leader in a suit?] for EXHIBIT A, making an already great entry even better. Love the misdirection, "leader" here more meaning "leadoff" than "head honcho".

As with some of Byron's other puzzles, some entries made me stop and think. PET HATES was one of those. Pet peeves, sure, but PET HATES? It does have a good showing in Google searches, so perhaps it's a new term that's gaining ground?

Also a couple of oddballs: ETTORE Bugatti seems esoteric (I knew him from crosswords — so useful with all those common letters), ESTHETE which I always knew as AESTHETE before I started doing crosswords, SNOCKERED (schnookered?), and SCHNOZ, which to me looks so odd without a double Z in SCHNOZZ. They are all fair game, though, I think.

1
S
2
P
3
O
4
I
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L
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T
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P
8
E
9
T
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H
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A
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15
H
A
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N
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K
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G
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K
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O
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G
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H
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K
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B
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Z
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H
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Z
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B
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63
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,504
Across Down
1. "Summer's joys are ___ by use": Keats : SPOILT
7. Bugaboos : PETHATES
15. Play with an imaginary friend : HARVEY
16. Leader in a suit? : EXHIBITA
17. Elvira's love, in opera : ERNANI
18. Sicilian Italian and others : DIALECTS
19. Rub elbows with, say : STANDNEXTTO
21. More than staggers : KOS
22. Setting for many a political rally : GYM
23. Film set schlepper : GRIP
24. Just : MERE
25. Extremely endomorphic : OBESE
28. Three sheets to the wind : SNOCKERED
31. Ambassador sent by the Vatican : NUNCIO
33. Crow : GLOAT
34. Gallery habitué : ESTHETE
36. Comedian who voiced the lead in "The Secret Life of Pets" : LOUISCK
40. Analogue of Lot's wife in Greek mythology : NIOBE
42. Sri ___ : LANKAN
43. Runner-up to "Baby Got Back" on VH1's "40 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '90s" : IMTOOSEXY
47. "Go ahead, you got me" : IGIVE
48. "And a Voice to Sing With" memoirist : BAEZ
49. "JAG" spinoff : NCIS
51. A.L. West team, on scoreboards : LAA
52. Masthead listing, for short : EDS
53. Certain choke in wrestling : SLEEPERHOLD
57. Pay off gradually : AMORTIZE
59. Tour schlepper : ROADIE
60. Like Robinson Crusoe : MAROONED
61. Justice who wrote the unanimous decision in United States v. Nixon : BURGER
62. Spies : SNOOPERS
63. Directs (to) : STEERS
1. Hall & Oates hit that asks "What went wrong?" : SHESGONE
2. It rocks as it rolls : PARTYBUS
3. Holiday ball : ORNAMENT
4. The middle Karamazov brother : IVAN
5. Impart : LEND
6. Getting even with : TYING
7. Sign of the cross? : PEDXING
8. Election night news : EXITPOLL
9. "So ___ happened" : THAT
10. U.S. city whose name looks like a form of poker : HILO
11. Prime minister who helped his country land the 2020 Summer Olympics : ABE
12. Crawl on CNBC : TICKER
13. Automotive pioneer Bugatti : ETTORE
14. Got lippy with : SASSED
20. Medevac destinations, informally : ERS
24. Apportioning : METING
26. Beak : SCHNOZ
27. Trailer for farm animals? : EIEIO
29. Dissipate, as ardor : COOL
30. Island home to the Sleeping Giant mountain : KAUAI
32. Plains tribe : OTOS
35. ___ Baptist Church, where M.L.K. Sr. and Jr. preached : EBENEZER
37. Where you might warm up after a run : SKILODGE
38. Supercilious : CAVALIER
39. Workers making lots of dough? : KNEADERS
41. Tops : EXCEEDS
43. Building supports : IBEAMS
44. Gogol's Aksenty Poprishchin, per the title : MADMAN
45. San Antonio-based refinery giant that acquired Arco in 2013 : TESORO
46. Little bark : YIP
50. Spenders of 100-dinar notes depicting Nikola Tesla : SERBS
53. Subway ___ : STOP
54. Subway ___ : LINE
55. Blowout : ROUT
56. Fast runner : HARE
58. Baby boomer, in Aussie slang : ROO

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

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