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IT'S ALL RELATIVE

New York Times, Sunday, January 26, 2014

Author:
Daniel A. Finan
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
151/4/20091/26/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9021300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64171
Daniel A. Finan

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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. 0126 ( 23,455 )
Across
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
Down
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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?