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UNEMPLOYMENT LINES

New York Times, Sunday, January 27, 2019

Author:
Randolph Ross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1125/12/199110/17/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
49103171824
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.486002
Randolph Ross

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 134, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 110 for Mr. Ross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Randolph Ross notes:
This is my 49th Sunday Times puzzle, and for the first time, I can say I had a glut of possible theme entries. Here are some of the other possibilities that didn't make the cut: ... read more

This is my 49th Sunday Times puzzle, and for the first time, I can say I had a glut of possible theme entries. Here are some of the other possibilities that didn't make the cut:

DEPARTED ACTOR, DEPRESSED DRY CLEANER, DEBUNKED CAMP COUNSELOR, DETESTED EXAMINER, DEBRIEFED LAWYER, DECOMPOSED SONGWRITER, DEFROCKED DRESSMAKER, DEPOSED MODEL, DISCHARGED SHOPPER, DISCOUNTED CENSUS TAKER, DISSOLVED PUZZLER, DISBARRED BALLERINA, DISCONCERTED MUSICIAN, DISINTERESTED BANKER.

I'm sure there are many more. I was inspired by a slightly related joke category: "Old___ never die, they just … e,g, "Old cashiers never die, they just check out."

I chose the seven in this puzzle because they each had adjectives that had to do with being fired or quitting. They also were dis- or de- adjectives (alternating) that have meanings unrelated to the profession, creating good wordplay. Of course, the parameter of matching word lengths for symmetry also went into the choices. Since these theme entries were on the long side I was restricted to seven; usually, I like eight or nine theme entries. The good news was that with seven theme entries I was able to have a lower word count: 134. This resulted in lots of longer fill entries involving some less common words and phrases.

A few particular entries helped me complete this grid. MCDLTS, with all its consonants, was a big help in that section... thank you McDonald's. RARE GEM, which has never appeared in a Times puzzle before, just came to me and helped complete a difficult area. This also was true of BRIGANTINE and CASEY KASEM, two unusual long entries that made the chunky bottom left corner fillable. BTW, BRIGANTINE is probably the etymological root of the term BRIG for a ship's prison. DIED ON also was an invented entry that helped me out of a difficult spot. I figured it was OK because I have had more than a few batteries die on me. Glad Will agreed.

Jeff Chen notes:
Ha! The poor MAGICIAN had his tricks confiscated. DIS-ILLUSIONED, shall we say? DIS-PATCHING a TAILOR would certainly be a cause for retirement. And how could a CATTLEMAN work if he had ... read more

Ha! The poor MAGICIAN had his tricks confiscated. DIS-ILLUSIONED, shall we say? DIS-PATCHING a TAILOR would certainly be a cause for retirement. And how could a CATTLEMAN work if he had been DE-RANGED?

Lots of groans, but the good kind.

Not all of them worked as well for me. A DIS-TRUSTED BANKER might be jumping for joy, if he/she were working for one of the small banks. No Citi or Morgan Stanley to compete with anymore? Yeah!

And a DIS-TRESSED HAIRDRESSER … aren't there bald stylists out there? I imagine the clue is talking about the person's clients. But dis-tressing people is a hairdresser's job, isn't it?

(Feels like there's a different crossword idea in there!)

The glut of ADAY ARMET ICS IGOT ISE NAHA SITA STD STE SCHED and on and on … I'm mystified why Will keeps on allowing constructors to go below 140 words. It's maybe 10x harder to execute well on a 134-word puzzle, and for what? I'd understand if it made a ton of long bonuses like BASS FIDDLE and CASEY KASEM possible. But PRECEDED, RESTAGED, OVEREXPOSE aren't super snazzy. Along with the flood of crossword glue … why?

I'd have had a smoother, more enjoyable solving experience if Randy had deployed more black squares to better separate his themers. Seven long themers are tough enough to build around – why not stick with 140 words and make a stellar grid?

Overall though, a fun notion for a theme. It might have played better as a weekday puzzle, i.e. [The cattleman was forced to retire because he was …], but I can respect Randy's longer presentation.

Jim Horne notes:

This weekend's Variety puzzle is a form I particularly like called Going Too Far. We have the solution here.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0127 ( 25,282 )
Across
1
Google Calendar, e.g. : WEBAPP
7
In addition : ATTHAT
13
"Foundation" author : ASIMOV
19
Hit 2009 movie set in the 22nd century : AVATAR
20
Cry of exasperation : SHEESH
21
When Hamlet dies : ACTFIVE
22
Unemployed salon worker? : DISTRESSEDHAIRDRESSER
25
Venusians, e.g., informally : ETS
26
In base 8 : OCTAL
27
Bob ___, 1968 record-setting long jumper : BEAMON
28
Foreign title that's an anagram of its English equivalent : SRI
29
Unemployed nail polisher? : DEFILEDMANICURIST
33
Most preferred : PET
34
Coffee order : ICED
35
Jokester : WAG
36
Some TV drama settings, for short : ERS
37
Hot : SEXY
38
Troublemaker since birth : BADSEED
41
Something paid to a hero : HOMAGE
44
Cosby's "I Spy" co-star : CULP
45
Jack-in-the-box part : LID
46
Unemployed men's clothier? : DISPATCHEDTAILOR
51
Wing it : ADLIB
54
Remote figure: Abbr. : VOL
55
Hydro plant locale : DAM
56
Exam scored on a scale of 1 to 5, informally : APTEST
57
Designer Geoffrey : BEENE
58
"___ Live" (onetime cooking show) : EMERIL
61
___ tear (sports injury) : ACL
62
Jay preceder : DEE
63
Unemployed educator? : DEGRADEDTEACHER
68
Media inits. before One, Two or Four : BBC
71
Wall Street order : PUT
72
Question after "I'm back" : MISSME
73
Fish in a tank : TETRA
77
Rubber : ERASER
79
Article in La Repubblica : UNA
81
Kitty : POT
82
Port Authority posting: Abbr. : SCHED
83
Unemployed loan officer? : DISTRUSTEDBANKER
88
Watchdog org. established by Nixon : EPA
89
Salon supply : GELS
90
"No returns," e.g. : CAVEAT
91
"Extra! Extra!" shouter : NEWSBOY
94
Repeated word in a 1957 Harry Belafonte hit : DAYO
95
Fan noise : RAH
96
Cote call : BAA
98
___ spell : SITA
99
It's kept in a pen : INK
100
Unemployed rancher? : DERANGEDCATTLEMAN
107
Capt.'s guess : ETA
108
More balanced : EVENER
109
Popular font : ARIAL
110
Airport near D.C. : BWI
111
Unemployed prestidigitator? : DISILLUSIONEDMAGICIAN
116
Efficient kind of shopping : ONESTOP
117
Iconic 1950s-'70s female TV role played by a male : LASSIE
118
Achieve something by merit : EARNIT
119
Like the lion slain by Hercules : NEMEAN
120
Be short with : SNAPAT
121
Peanut butter choice : SMOOTH
Down
1
Tested the waters, say : WADED
2
Request for an online R.S.V.P. : EVITE
3
Bluegrass instrument : BASSFIDDLE
4
___.com, site with the category "Cellphones & tablets" : ATT
5
One out? : PAROLEE
6
Came before : PRECEDED
7
___ tea : ASSAM
8
Sheriffs, marshals, etc. : THELAW
9
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" character : TED
10
Short snicker : HEH
11
Easy ___ : ASABC
12
President during the Vietnam War : THIEU
13
Straddling : ACROSS
14
Surgical tube : STENT
15
Suppositions : IFS
16
Like Feburary : MISSPELLED
17
Advertise excessively : OVEREXPOSE
18
It's the truth : VERITY
21
Used as a role model : ADMIRED
23
Part of S.O.P.: Abbr. : STD
24
Beauty that's seldom seen : RAREGEM
30
Suffix with linguist : ICS
31
Okinawa port : NAHA
32
"___ Rhythm" : IGOT
37
Exec : SUIT
38
Spill the beans : BLAB
39
Second : AIDE
40
Send in a different direction : DIVERT
42
Fast-food sandwiches introduced in 1985 : MCDLTS
43
"Bingo!" : AHA
44
They go down easily : CAPLETS
47
"Brave New World" drug : SOMA
48
Responded in court : PLED
49
Dash gauge : TACH
50
AAA suggestion: Abbr. : RTE
52
It borders Ky. : IND
53
You can page through them : BEEPERS
59
Like "A Star Is Born," several times : REMADE
60
A mean Amin : IDI
61
Blackjack combo : ACETEN
64
Maven : GURU
65
Locker room shower? : ESPN
66
Every which way : AMOK
67
___ center : REC
68
Hospital unit : BED
69
Two-masted sailing vessel : BRIGANTINE
70
Longtime host of "American Top 40" : CASEYKASEM
74
Source of a Boston "curse" : THEBAMBINO
75
Defaulter's comeuppance : REPO
76
Every 24 hours : ADAY
78
Normandy invasion town : STLO
79
Marie and Donny Osmond, e.g. : UTAHANS
80
It borders Ida. : NEV
84
Find with difficulty : SCAREUP
85
Hon : BABE
86
Not very much : ATAD
87
Produces a revival of : RESTAGES
92
Royal Charlotte's father : WILLIAM
93
Abbr. in many an office address : STE
94
Failed, as a cellphone or car to its user : DIEDON
95
Estée Lauder competitor : REVLON
97
"Evangeline" setting : ACADIA
100
Symbol of change : DELTA
101
Young and Simon : NEILS
102
Preceder of "Do I have to?" : GROAN
103
Headgear for a knight : ARMET
104
Padre's hermana : TIA
105
Look for : AWAIT
106
Beethoven's "Choral" Symphony : NINTH
112
Suffix with expert : ISE
113
Code-cracking org. : NSA
114
Special gift : ESP
115
___-Magnon : CRO

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?