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IT'S ALL RELATIVE

New York Times, Sunday, January 26, 2014

Author: Daniel A. Finan
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel A. Finan
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151/4/20091/26/20140
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9021300
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1.64171
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 69 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Finan. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Daniel A. Finan notes: This puzzle's theme involves implied words — that is, words that don't actually appear in the grid. I think themes like these are interesting because they make the solver take that one extra step in ... more
Daniel A. Finan notes: This puzzle's theme involves implied words — that is, words that don't actually appear in the grid. I think themes like these are interesting because they make the solver take that one extra step in obtaining his or her "aha" moment. My favorite theme answer pair is probably the very G-rated NO WAY JOSE matched up with the darker (OVER) MY DEAD BODY. Coincidentally, I can assure you, BEHEADS crosses the latter entry!

Some of my favorite, more rosy non-theme clues and answers are: ELLE at 38-Across, which is the lovely name of my lovely lady; MR ED at 50-Down, who is probably one of my favorite talking horses; LIBYANS at 62-Across, which for me conjures up images of a crazy-eyed Christopher Lloyd; "One who might yell 'Go home!'" cluing BASE COACH at 63-Down; "Block party?" cluing WARDEN at 92-Down; and finally, what I hope everyone isn't yelling by the time they get all the way down to 96-Down, NO MORE!

Jeff Chen notes: The literal interpretation of OVER/UNDER (TWO under PAR = EAGLE, etc.) has been done many times in crosswords, so constructors have to up their game if they want to go this direction. Dan does just that, adding a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: The literal interpretation of OVER/UNDER (TWO under PAR = EAGLE, etc.) has been done many times in crosswords, so constructors have to up their game if they want to go this direction. Dan does just that, adding a new layer to his theme. It took me quite a while to figure out what was going on, but I had a nice a-ha moment when it finally dawned on me. BEWITCHED is literally under A SPELL... under a spell, get it? Clever stuff. It was fun to struggle with each of the six theme pairs.

Sometimes Sunday-size puzzles feel tiresome, like a regular 15x15 that's been stretched out just because it can be. I like the fact today that Dan has chosen enough long entries that makes a 21x21 puzzle the only option. TALK TO YOU LATER = (over) AND OUT, that's something you couldn't do in a 15x15. I really like when the puzzle *should* be a 21x21.

And Dan does a nice job on the fill. Like last week, this puzzle contains a high number of six and seven-letter answers, which have the potential to spice things up. WARTHOG, SKETCHY, BEHEADS, ANTONYM, THE MAGI = excellent! Loading up on six and seven-letter answers is a great way to add snazz to a puzzle. It's an audacious approach, which makes construction very difficult. His shorter stuff does suffer a bit, with ELOGE, NONNO, OSTEO, and the ASKA/BTEN/SANT trio, pulling things down. All in all though, an admirable fill with an above-average result.

Finally, a minor gripe I think others will share. It's perfectly acceptable to have an entry like SLIGO in a 21x, because it's just so darn hard to construct them. Only the Berrys of the world don't need to rely on these types of esoteric answers. But if you have them, I believe the crossings ought to be fair, with clues that aren't back-breakers. "Macros, e.g." for LENSES? Yikes. Maybe if you're a photography buff that's fair, but I thought TENSES or SENSES were as sensible as LENSES.

Very neat theme today, with a lot of great constructing.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,455
Across Down
1. Apply quickly : SLAPON
7. Wall ___ : STREET
13. Gringos' land : ELNORTE
20. Place with wheels and deals : CASINO
21. Summit planner : SHERPA
22. Worse : LOUSIER
23. Woodworking tool : RIPSAW
24. Untrustworthy sort : WEASEL
25. What players do at the start of a game of tag : SCATTER
26. Some bling : ICE
27. One for the "no" column : NAY
29. Most Cypriots, ethnically : GREEKS
31. Massages : KNEADS
32. Like some eagles and tires : BALD
34. Li'l Abner's surname : YOKUM
36. Company with the Havoline brand : TEXACO
38. Notre dame, e.g. : ELLE
39. Valdez of coffee advertising : JUAN
40. Period of the Cenozoic Era : NEOGENE
42. Language suffix : ESE
45. Servings of mashed potatoes, e.g. : GLOBS
47. Writer Kipling : RUDYARD
48. Let go : AXED
49. Cynic Bierce who once defined "alone" as "in bad company" : AMBROSE
52. Swear off : FORGO
53. Potentially dangerous : SKETCHY
55. Sapling : TREELET
56. Relax : EASEUP
58. Goes in : ENTERS
59. Stairway post : NEWEL
60. Twinkie filler : CREME
62. "Back to the Future" villains : LIBYANS
64. Amo : I love :: ___ : I hate : ODI
65. "The Merry Drinker" painter : HALS
66. Pop singer Del Rey : LANA
67. In need of a lift : SAD
70. "Adoration" subjects in a Leonardo painting : THEMAGI
74. Maine college : BATES
75. Irish county and seaport : SLIGO
77. Have troops in : OCCUPY
79. [What a bore] : SNOOZE
81. Martin Sheen's real family name : ESTEVEZ
83. Tops off? : BEHEADS
85. Pam of "Jackie Brown" : GRIER
86. Takeout choice : CHINESE
87. All riled up : IRED
88. Part of London where Eliza Doolittle is from : EASTEND
90. One side of an 1899-1902 war : BOERS
91. Smidgen : TAD
92. Source of ivory : WARTHOG
93. Uzbekistan's ___ Sea : ARAL
94. About a quarter of the population of Sicily lives on its slopes : ETNA
98. Title girl in a Chuck Berry hit : NADINE
99. Make enforceable : ENACT
100. Opportunity : SHOT
101. Learn well : ABSORB
104. Take blows for : SHIELD
107. A line in an A-line? : HEM
109. Punk offshoot : EMO
110. Be supported by : STANDON
112. Movie director who was himself the subject of a 1994 movie : EDWOOD
114. Gold-medal gymnast Mary Lou : RETTON
116. Powell's successor on the Supreme Court : KENNEDY
117. Some starting help : ALEGUP
118. "Keep going!" : ENCORE
119. Love to hate? : ANTONYM
120. Canon parts : TENETS
121. On the receiving end of a Dear John letter : DUMPED
1. Writer of old : SCRIBE
2. Secular : LAICAL
3. See 51-Down : ASPELL
4. Gumshoes : PIS
5. ___ empty stomach : ONAN
6. 73-Down, relatively : NOWAYJOSE
7. Denver-to-Albuquerque dir. : SSW
8. See 52-Down : THEGUN
9. Break a peace treaty, say : REARM
10. Gaelic tongue : ERSE
11. Lunging sport : EPEE
12. 93-Down, relatively : TALKTOYOULATER
13. Lines to Wrigley Field : ELS
14. See 82-Down : LOCKANDKEY
15. Fine point : NUANCE
16. Bone: Prefix : OSTEO
17. Moreno of "West Side Story" : RITA
18. Ticked (off) : TEED
19. Goofs : ERRS
28. "Yessiree!" : YOUBETCHA
30. Dreamcast maker : SEGA
33. Résumé datum : DEGREE
35. ___ in kangaroo : KAS
37. Boomers' kids : XERS
40. Sip on : NURSE
41. Limit : EDGE
42. 95-Down, relatively : EXCESSIVE
43. "___ gut" : SEHR
44. Breyers alternative : EDYS
46. Rest in a hammock, say : LOLL
47. Wanders : ROAMS
48. Abbr. at the start of a memo : ATTN
49. He's 2, for one : ATNO
50. He "will never speak unless he has something to say," in a song : MRED
51. 3-Down, relatively : BEWITCHED
52. 8-Down, relatively : FEELINGTHEHEAT
54. "Bambi" doe : ENA
57. Air freshener scent : PINE
61. Cleaner's supply : RAGS
63. One who might yell "Go home!" : BASECOACH
66. Rested in a hammock, say : LAZED
68. Gets up there : AGES
69. Nap : DOZE
71. Taking a certain tone : HUED
72. Fuel economy authority, for short : EPA
73. See 6-Down : MYDEADBODY
74. Cartoon sound : BOING
75. Hubbub : STIR
76. Macros, e.g. : LENSES
77. Words of remembrance, briefly : OBIT
78. Michael of "Arrested Development" : CERA
80. McFlurry flavor : OREO
82. 14-Down, relatively : SHELTERED
84. Indian wrap : SARI
89. Depots: Abbr. : STNS
90. Built-in part of a tank top, maybe : BRA
92. Block party? : WARDEN
93. See 12-Down : ANDOUT
95. See 42-Down : THETOP
96. "Make it stop!" : NOMORE
97. Observed Yom Kippur : ATONED
98. Italian grandpa : NONNO
99. Funeral delivery of old : ELOGE
101. "___ stupid question ..." : ASKA
102. Vitamin a.k.a. para-aminobenzoic acid : BTEN
103. Director Gus Van ___ : SANT
105. In a hammock, maybe : IDLE
106. Gershwin biographer David : EWEN
108. Many a Yelp link : MENU
111. Big Apple N.L. team : NYM
113. Fielding feats: Abbr. : DPS
115. Cable inits. for a cinephile : TCM

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 7 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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