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TWIST ENDING

New York Times, Sunday, January 25, 2015

Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Editor: Will Shortz
Alan Arbesfeld
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1188/27/198110/5/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25523342515
ScrabRebusCirclePangrampre-WS
1.605099

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 criteria, a winner in my ... more
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 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 Down
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
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
19. 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
38. Geometric figures : AREAS
39. Have a big mouth? : YAWN
40. Attire : GARB
41. In a bad way : ILLY
42. Secure, as a sailor's rope : BELAY
43. She's asked "When will those clouds all disappear?" in a 1973 #1 hit : ANGIE
45. Where many people may follow you : TWITTER
48. Per ___ : DIEM
54. Popular après-ski place : SAUNA
55. Spot in the afternoon? : TEA
56. Product that's hard to keep in stock : HOTITEM
57. Janvier, across the Pyrenees : ENERO
60. Cap : LID
63. Supply with weaponry : ARM
66. Put away : EAT
68. Subway Series team : METS
70. Lovely but stupid person? : OBTUSEANGEL
71. U.S. city whose name becomes another city's name if you change both its vowels to A's : TEMPE
72. Kiss drummer Peter : CRISS
74. Reach the Mediterranean, say? : PASSGO
75. Pig sounds : SQUEALS
77. Fix, as some lawn chairs : RECANE
79. Canine cousin : MOLAR
80. "Dallas" family name : EWING
81. Race in classic science fiction : ELOI
82. "Whirlybird" source : MAPLETREE
83. Suspect duplicity : SMELLARAT
85. Caspian Sea feeder : URAL
86. Trojan horse, e.g. : RUSE
92. Like the Parthenon : PILLARED
94. Fitting one inside the other : NESTING
95. Appointment book : PLANNER
96. Did a 1930s dance : LINDIED
97. 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: 10 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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