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TWIST ENDING

New York Times, Sunday, January 25, 2015

Author:
Alan Arbesfeld
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1248/27/19814/10/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25724362615
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.595099
Alan Arbesfeld

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 65 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 107 for Mr. Arbesfeld. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Phrases ending with a real twits. Er, twist. I found many of these amusing, RAISING THE BRA having both a great base phrase as well as a resulting wacky one. SCAREDY CAST also meets both ... read more

Phrases ending with a real twits. Er, twist. I found many of these amusing, RAISING THE BRA having both a great base phrase as well as a resulting wacky one. SCAREDY CAST also meets both criteria, a winner in my book.

Asturian cider pouring tradition. Really!

A lot of great clues today. My favorite was [Something hard to drink?], as in hard CIDER, not as in SARDINE JUICE. Speaking of that, SARDINE also had a nice one, [One in a tight spot?] indeed. And although PASS GO feels awkward (DO NOT PASS GO = do, PASS GO = do not) a beautiful clue, [Reach the Mediterranean, say?], referring to the property on the Monopoly board saves it.

I CANNOT TELL A LEI sounds a bit forced, but what a cool and bizarre letter sequence in –LALEI. Had me bamboozled. Took a long time to figure it out even after I was 100% those five letters were correct. Extremely satisfying when I got it.

Speaking of solver satisfaction, I believe it's one of the most important criteria, if not the most, to hold in mind while constructing. And Sunday NYT are hallowed ground, with solvers doing everything from solo speed solving, to group solving over a full day on the kitchen table, to entering a few answers and feeling good about that. To me, the SW corner does a good job of creating a nice solving experience. With the pretty amusing ILLEGAL ALINE and the great SMELL A RAT, it was great fun for me to eventually crack.

Not as much for the NW. I love WENT SOLO and NICE ONE as answers, and SCAREDY CAST was so satisfying to finally get. But I worked so hard to figure out that corner, only to eventually fill in the wonky PETTER, a kooky DOTARD, someone named THEDA (granted, that one I really should have appreciated learning given that she apparently was extremely famous in her time). I applaud Alan's use of a cheater square to the left of EER, and attempting a 136-word puzzle is always audacious. But I'd personally much rather have a clean 140-word puzzle, giving me a non-PETTER type reward upon filling in that last square.

Overall, some nice themers, a few that didn't resonate, some great fill like DUDE RANCH and ICE PALACE, balanced out with some gluey bits like the illy ILLY. As always, construction is full of trade-offs (and solving is full of subjectivity!).

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0125 ( 23,819 )
Across
1
Hairstyle that usually involves clips or pins : UPSWEEP
8
Confidentially : SUBROSA
15
N.J. Army base : FTDIX
20
"Beautiful!" : NICEONE
21
Points in the right direction : ORIENTS
22
"Let's stop fighting, O.K.?" : TRUCE
23
"Those wreaths all look the same to me!"? : ICANNOTTELLALEI
25
Something hard to drink? : CIDER
26
Law school class : TORTS
27
Start of a conclusion : THUS
28
Satisfies : MEETS
30
Sales force, informally : REPS
31
Summers on the Seine : ETES
32
Convention closing? : EER
33
___ black : COAL
34
Cutlass model of the 1980s-'90s : CIERA
36
Senile sort : DOTARD
39
Start of an oral listing of African nations, perhaps? : YOUVEGOTMALI
42
Texas home of the Bears : BAYLOR
44
One small sip : ATASTE
46
Store : ARSENAL
47
Asked to come back, in a way : ENCORED
49
"Over There" subj. : WWI
50
VCR button : REW
51
D halved : CCL
52
Alternative to JFK : LGA
53
Showing less cleavage? : RAISINGTHEBRA
58
"Watch it!" : HEY
59
Many a critic's preference : AISLESEAT
61
Superbright : NEON
62
Mrs., abroad : SRA
64
Himalayan myth : YETI
65
Remote button : MUTE
67
"Lemme ___!" : ATEM
69
March org.? : ROTC
73
Rally killers in baseball: Abbr. : DPS
76
"Warm" : NEAR
78
"There was the time ..." : IREMEMBER
81
Middle of summer? : EMS
84
Cheap roadside assistance? : AQUARTERTOTOW
87
"I don't need to hear that," informally : TMI
88
Skip town : LAM
89
Big ___ : SUR
90
Stick in a rack : CUE
91
Mistakes : SLIPUPS
93
Setting for most of "Moby-Dick" : OPENSEA
95
Kind of TV : PLASMA
98
Liqueur flavorers : ANISES
99
Knockoff dress labeled "Armani," say? : ILLEGALALINE
101
Rob : BURGLE
103
Popular Hispanic newspaper name : ELSOL
104
Rider's handful : MANE
105
Son of, in foreign names : IBN
106
Have legs : LAST
109
E.R. "A.S.A.P." : STAT
110
Devote : SPEND
112
Longtime Yankee nickname : AROD
113
Less loopy : SANER
114
Ban competition : ARRID
116
Caution to an orphan girl not to leave her wildebeest behind? : ANNIEGETYOURGNU
119
Reeves of "John Wick" : KEANU
120
Enter stealthily : CREEPIN
121
"With Reagan" memoirist : EDMEESE
122
Ready followers? : SETGO
123
One in a tight spot? : SARDINE
124
Did some edgy writing? : DOODLED
Down
1
Get together : UNITE
2
Embroidery loop : PICOT
3
Group of actors who all have stage fright? : SCAREDYCAST
4
Emulated Diana Ross (1970) and Justin Timberlake (2002) : WENTSOLO
5
How long it takes mountains to form : EONS
6
Roxy Music co-founder : ENO
7
Attentive dog owner : PETTER
8
French sister : SOEUR
9
They may be bookmarked : URLS
10
"The Family Circus" cartoonist Keane : BIL
11
Castigate : REAMOUT
12
Away, in a way : ONLEAVE
13
Republican politico Michael : STEELE
14
"___ happens ..." : ASIT
15
National Do Not Call Registry overseer, for short : FTC
16
Ancient galley : TRIREME
17
Western vacation spot : DUDERANCH
18
Winter carnival attraction : ICEPALACE
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Gen ___ : XERS
24
Silents star Bara : THEDA
29
They put points on the board : SCORERS
33
Help to secure a loan, maybe : COSIGN
35
"Them's fightin' words!" : ITSWAR
37
Former A.L. manager who was an N.L. M.V.P. : TORRE
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Geometric figures : AREAS
39
Have a big mouth? : YAWN
40
Attire : GARB
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In a bad way : ILLY
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Secure, as a sailor's rope : BELAY
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She's asked "When will those clouds all disappear?" in a 1973 #1 hit : ANGIE
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Where many people may follow you : TWITTER
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Per ___ : DIEM
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Popular après-ski place : SAUNA
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Spot in the afternoon? : TEA
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Product that's hard to keep in stock : HOTITEM
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Janvier, across the Pyrenees : ENERO
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Cap : LID
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Supply with weaponry : ARM
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Put away : EAT
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Subway Series team : METS
70
Lovely but stupid person? : OBTUSEANGEL
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U.S. city whose name becomes another city's name if you change both its vowels to A's : TEMPE
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Kiss drummer Peter : CRISS
74
Reach the Mediterranean, say? : PASSGO
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Pig sounds : SQUEALS
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Fix, as some lawn chairs : RECANE
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Canine cousin : MOLAR
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"Dallas" family name : EWING
81
Race in classic science fiction : ELOI
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"Whirlybird" source : MAPLETREE
83
Suspect duplicity : SMELLARAT
85
Caspian Sea feeder : URAL
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Trojan horse, e.g. : RUSE
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Like the Parthenon : PILLARED
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Fitting one inside the other : NESTING
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Appointment book : PLANNER
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Did a 1930s dance : LINDIED
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Big brother : ABBOT
100
Luxor Temple deity : AMENRA
102
Natural : UNDYED
105
Ryan of old TV : IRENE
107
Intuit : SENSE
108
Straight, now : TRUED
109
Fifth Avenue retailer : SAKS
111
Campaign grps. : PACS
112
Backwoods con? : AGIN
113
Heavyweight bouts? : SUMO
115
Indigo Girls, e.g. : DUO
117
Commercial lead-in to Pen : EPI
118
Lead-in to meter : ODO

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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