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New York Times, Saturday, January 20, 2018

Author:
Alex Vratsanos
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/13/20115/23/20193
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3142313
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60040
Alex Vratsanos

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 60, Blocks: 39 Missing: {FQ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Vratsanos. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Alex Vratsanos notes:
I don't remember exactly when I came up with this grid, but the seed for it may have been planted all the way back in summer 2011, ... read more

I don't remember exactly when I came up with this grid, but the seed for it may have been planted all the way back in summer 2011, when Todd Gross showed me the grid of his puzzle that went on to be published on February 23, 2013. At some point in the year or two after that, I came up with the MAJORITY RULES / HOME THEATER / TEXAS-SIZE combination, and went with SISTER SOULJAH after many attempts with ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH failed. I then continued going clockwise through the grid, getting particularly lucky with PACHINKO, and am very thankful for the feedback I received from my fellow constructors on both the fill and clues.

Had I come up with this grid today, I probably would not have pursued it, because it can be cut in two by turning the A of MAJORITY RULES and the corresponding E into blocks (this also violates one of the Chronicle of Higher Education's style guidelines). But it is always a pleasure to see the effects of Will's editing acumen, and this puzzle is no exception, some of my favorite new clues being those for 10A, 47A, 8D, 11D, 13D, and 46D.

I hope you enjoy solving this as much as I enjoyed making this!

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful, eye-catching grid! Jim curates our Grid Art page, and he tends to put in more than I would. But this one I have no doubt ... read more

Beautiful, eye-catching grid! Jim curates our Grid Art page, and he tends to put in more than I would. But this one I have no doubt about — looks like a Magic 8 Ball filled with crossbones! Stunning.

Those corners of black squares (six apiece) don't just help create neat grid art, but they make "turning the corners" so much easier. Those black squares nibbling away, helping stagger the starts of answers, are magic indeed.

Speaking of magic, wow was I surprised to get such goodness in YES MASTER / BOSTON CREAM / SISTER SOULJAH! Heck yeah! That's not supposed to happen with puzzles like this, where so many long stacked answers have to wrap around the full perimeter. (If you're one of those people who doesn't want the magic to be taken away, forget what I said about those black squares in the corners …)

And MAJORITY RULES / HOME THEATER / TEXAS SIZE? Okay, that's equally as good! Seems impossible, even with those chunks of black squares in the corners.

AND BOOP A DOOP (awesome name, even if I didn't recognize it) / BIG TICKET ITEM? Yes! SEND A LETTER didn't do much for me, but so far eight out of nine long slots converted into gold? That's an incredible conversion rate.

Too bad the east section didn't quite live up to the rest. RELEASE WAIVER is okay. MARIONETTES is fun. PANNED OUT didn't quite pan out, those +preposition phrases a bit dull. Still, an incredible quantity of long answers interlocked around the perimeter.

If there hadn't been quite so much in the way of esoteric mid-length entries — ANSELMO, SYNODAL, HELLENE, SARAI, the deadly AMATO / PELLA crossing, this would have been a POW! level themeless. But this type of grid arrangement is so tricky, bound to force compromises somewhere. As much as I loved the perimeter, the middle let the rest of my solving experience down.

I think it's a reasonable trade-off though, as you're bound to have to give up something somewhere with a layout of this difficulty.

1
B
2
O
3
O
4
P
5
A
6
D
7
O
8
O
9
P
10
S
E
N
D
A
L
E
T
T
E
11
R
12
B
I
G
T
I
C
K
E
T
I
T
E
13
M
14
Y
O
S
15
V
S
H
A
P
E
S
16
L
A
17
P
18
E
S
T
19
D
20
T
I
L
E
R
21
S
E
R
A
22
S
T
E
E
23
P
24
N
I
N
25
P
L
A
I
N
26
M
O
R
L
O
27
C
K
S
28
R
E
A
S
O
N
29
A
N
S
E
L
M
O
30
H
E
L
L
E
N
E
31
S
C
O
T
I
A
32
S
A
L
L
O
W
E
D
33
T
R
U
E
S
34
B
M
I
35
A
M
A
T
O
36
E
E
L
S
37
P
O
O
R
38
S
39
S
I
T
U
40
R
A
J
41
S
Y
N
O
D
A
42
L
43
V
E
T
44
M
A
45
J
O
R
I
T
Y
R
U
46
L
E
S
47
H
O
M
E
T
H
E
A
T
E
R
48
T
E
X
A
S
S
I
Z
E
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0120 ( 24,910 )

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Across
1
Blondie's maiden name in "Blondie" : BOOPADOOP
10
Post something : SENDALETTER
12
One taking a lot of credit, maybe? : BIGTICKETITEM
14
Sly remarks? : YOS
15
Many necklines : VSHAPES
16
Spot for Spot : LAP
18
Abbr. on a foundation stone : ESTD
20
Mosaicist : TILER
21
Pomeriggio follower : SERA
22
High-grade? : STEEP
24
Novelist who wrote "I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living" : NIN
25
Hamburger order : PLAIN
26
Nocturnal predators of fiction : MORLOCKS
28
"Because I said so" is not one : REASON
29
Tony ___, official character voice of Donald Duck : ANSELMO
30
Spartan, e.g. : HELLENE
31
Land north of England, in poetry : SCOTIA
32
Turned sickly yellow : SALLOWED
33
Aligns : TRUES
34
Song royalties org. : BMI
35
Pasquale ___, baritone at the Metropolitan Opera : AMATO
36
Meals for seals : EELS
37
Standard & ___ : POORS
39
In ___ (untouched) : SITU
40
"The Big Bang Theory" character : RAJ
41
Like certain ecclesiastical councils : SYNODAL
43
Critically examine : VET
44
Democratic principle : MAJORITYRULES
47
Setup for a Netflix film, say : HOMETHEATER
48
Gigantic : TEXASSIZE
Down
1
Canine command : BEG
2
Airing : ONTV
3
William Wordsworth, e.g. : ODIST
4
Its player may have a yen for gambling : PACHINKO
5
Things that cover all the bases? : ALKALIS
6
Grow, as sympathies : DEEPEN
7
Whiskered, fish-eating creature : OTTER
8
Maker of thousands of cars annually : OTIS
9
Term of endearment : PET
10
Hip-hop icon born Lisa Williamson : SISTERSOULJAH
11
Paper signed before filming begins : RELEASEWAIVER
12
Kind of pie that's actually a cake : BOSTONCREAM
13
Howdy Doody and others : MARIONETTES
14
Toadyish response : YESMASTER
17
Was successful in the end : PANNEDOUT
19
Files away? : DELETES
21
Doesn't go straight, in a way : SLALOMS
23
Sparta, e.g. : POLIS
25
Big name in windows : PELLA
27
Nashville awards org. : CMA
28
Subj. of tax exemption : REL
30
Changers of locks : HAIRDYES
32
Sands : SMOOTHS
34
Beautiful, in Bogotá : BONITA
37
Material for a baking vessel : PYREX
38
Name changed in Genesis 17:15 : SARAI
41
A taste : SOME
42
Turn on the ice : LUTZ
45
Tiny amount : JOT
46
Gray head? : LEE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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