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New York Times, Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Author:
Amanda Chung and Karl Ni
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
86/17/20184/23/20198
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1133000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60020
Amanda Chung
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
86/17/20184/23/20198
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1133000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60020
Karl Ni

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 6 for Ms. Chung. This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Ni. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
AMANDA: I was inspired by Ross Trudeau's note last week (and similar ones from other constructors I admire) to offer any assistance I ... read more

AMANDA: I was inspired by Ross Trudeau's note last week (and similar ones from other constructors I admire) to offer any assistance I can to those from underrepresented groups that are interested in crossword constructing. You can e-mail me at rosesmirror@gmail.com. I look forward to meeting you. Now on to the notes.

The female version of something often has the suffix "-ess," e.g., waiter and waitress, lion and lioness. With the recent movement to use more GENDER NEUTRAL words, e.g., "actor" for everyone across the board, it was a fun challenge to find words that ended in "-ess" that were NOT the female version of something, and then make them a "gender neutral" something.

Originally each of the theme entries was clued as a person or animal, like [Winged creature known for ramming objects with its head?] for FLYINGBUTTER, but the image of a piece of butter flying across the cafeteria is pretty funny. Many thanks to the editing team for improving the SW corner.

This theme idea came about two Thanksgivings ago in an eclectic Airbnb in Los Angeles with bunk beds and jazz posters a few blocks from a kosher grocery store. Not sure how or why that lead to this, but a change in scenery never hurts the creative process.

Jeff Chen notes:
I have to admit; I didn't entirely get this theme. After thinking about it for a while, I emailed Jim. Here's what he said (and what ... read more

I have to admit; I didn't entirely get this theme. After thinking about it for a while, I emailed Jim. Here's what he said (and what he meant).

ME: Did you understand what's going on today?

JIM: FLYING BUTTRESS -> FLYING BUTTER. (What, you couldn't figure that out?)

ME: But the GENDER NEUTRAL revealer?

JIM: Cutting off the ESS. (Again, isn't this obvious?)

ME: But but but, if you cut off the ESS, wouldn't it be FLYING BUTTR?

JIM: There's the "female-sounding" hint in the clue. (Stop being so picky!)

ME: Taking the ESS sound off makes it sound more like FLYING BUTT than BUTTER. (Tee hee.)

JIM: Yeah, I'm more lax about these things than you. (Just enjoy the frickin' puzzle, you hoser!)

Even if the theme didn't resonate with you, there's a lot to enjoy in the fill. TAX RETURN and STRONGMAN take up the long down slots, and there even more goodies: CAR RACE, ATE CROW, CATNAPS, MEEMAW, even KREWE (Mardi Gras term for "crew").

There was a price to be paid, though, in ENS, NNE, SSS, SYN. These are minor offenders—I wouldn't even bother pointing them out for an average constructor, but Amanda and Karl have the technical skills to smooth some of them out.

I'd have focused on that west region. With a couple of hours work, SSS and SYN could have been history. Not entirely sure what would solve the problem, but shifting around the black squares at the ends of BELIEF and NEW would have been a good start.

Overall, I liked the theme idea — BLOWUP MATTER as TNT is hilarious. (I'm a huge Wile E. Coyote fan, what can I say?) But I would have preferred not having the GENDER NEUTRAL revealer, in favor of adding a fourth themer.

I probably could have figured out what was going on. (Probably not.)

ADDED NOTE: I had been thinking along the lines of LIONESS -> LION and STEWARDESS -> STEWARD: simple ESS drops. Astute reader Seth Cohen points out that the theme makes more sense, if you think of it in terms of how WAIT(RESS) changes to become WAIT(ER).

1
C
2
R
3
A
4
B
5
A
6
R
7
C
8
S
9
H
10
O
11
T
12
E
13
L
14
L
I
T
E
15
P
E
R
P
16
A
W
A
K
E
17
O
V
A
L
18
S
T
A
R
19
N
I
X
E
D
20
D
E
L
I
21
V
E
R
Y
A
22
D
D
E
R
23
S
T
L
E
O
24
A
O
N
E
25
E
26
L
27
K
28
F
L
29
Y
I
N
G
B
30
U
31
T
T
E
R
32
S
33
S
34
S
35
E
N
S
36
S
A
U
T
E
37
C
A
T
38
N
39
A
P
S
40
A
41
T
E
C
R
O
W
42
A
D
R
E
P
43
C
N
N
44
N
N
E
45
B
L
O
W
U
46
P
47
M
A
T
T
48
E
49
R
50
S
Y
N
51
H
E
R
E
52
M
A
53
G
54
M
55
A
56
G
57
E
58
N
D
E
R
N
59
E
U
T
R
A
L
60
L
61
E
M
M
E
62
M
A
N
X
63
T
I
T
O
64
A
W
A
I
T
65
A
C
A
I
66
A
M
E
N
67
V
E
N
T
S
68
W
E
S
T
69
N
Y
S
E
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0123 ( 25,278 )
Across
1
Grouch : CRAB
5
Some lines drawn with protractors : ARCS
9
Airbnb alternative : HOTEL
14
Miller ___ : LITE
15
One nabbed by the fuzz : PERP
16
With eyes open : AWAKE
17
Trotter's course : OVAL
18
Marquee performer : STAR
19
Shot down : NIXED
20
Maternity ward worker who counts each day's births? : DELIVERYADDER
23
First pope to be called "the Great" : STLEO
24
Great : AONE
25
Noncollegiate fraternity member : ELK
28
Dairy item thrown in a food fight? : FLYINGBUTTER
32
Snake's warning : SSS
35
Navy rank below lt. junior grade : ENS
36
Fry up : SAUTE
37
Quick rests : CATNAPS
40
Dined on humble pie : ATECROW
42
One selling a Super Bowl spot, say : ADREP
43
MSNBC competitor : CNN
44
Tampa-to-Jacksonville dir. : NNE
45
Dynamite? : BLOWUPMATTER
50
Thesaurus offering: Abbr. : SYN
51
"___ we go again ..." : HERE
52
Lava below the surface : MAGMA
56
Like 20-, 28- and 45-Across vis-à-vis the female-sounding phrases they're based on? : GENDERNEUTRAL
60
"___ at 'em!" : LEMME
62
Cat with no tail : MANX
63
Latin music great Puente : TITO
64
Look forward to : AWAIT
65
___ bowl (trendy healthful food) : ACAI
66
Last word said just before opening the eyes : AMEN
67
Parts of volcanoes : VENTS
68
Foe of Russia, with "the" : WEST
69
Where a bell is rung M-F at 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. : NYSE
Down
1
Thickheaded sorts : CLODS
2
Stud on a pair of jeans : RIVET
3
In the slightest : ATALL
4
Agnostic's lack : BELIEF
5
Place to pray : APSE
6
Prepares for a second career, say : RETRAINS
7
Boxful for a kindergartner : CRAYONS
8
Activated, as a trap : SPRANG
9
Unit of measurement for a horse's height equivalent to four inches : HAND
10
Scraped knee, in totspeak : OWIE
11
Annual filing : TAXRETURN
12
Barely win, with "out" : EKE
13
Commanded : LED
21
Radio dial: Abbr. : VOL
22
Girl entering society, in brief : DEB
26
Pretend : LETON
27
Group organizing a Mardi Gras parade : KREWE
29
"Sure is!" : YEP
30
Operate : USE
31
Sea-___ (Washington airport) : TAC
32
Coverings of cuts : SCABS
33
"Alas ..." : SADLY
34
Dictator : STRONGMAN
38
Unopened : NEW
39
Kwik-E-Mart storekeeper : APU
40
Cell tower equipment : ANTENNAS
41
Cable airer of N.B.A. games : TNT
43
Monaco Grand Prix, e.g. : CARRACE
46
Successful defender, in academia : PHD
47
Granny, in the South : MEEMAW
48
Land-bound bird : EMU
49
Wicker material : RATTAN
53
In need of a good scrubbing : GRIMY
54
Ones to share a pint with : MATES
55
Without company : ALONE
57
Give off : EMIT
58
Trawlers' equipment : NETS
59
On-ramp's opposite : EXIT
60
Washroom, informally : LAV
61
Homophone of "you" that shares no letters with it : EWE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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