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RECORD OF THE YEAR

New York Times, Sunday, January 3, 2016

Author:
David Woolf
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/15/20137/31/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2322332
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55310
David Woolf

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 79 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Woolf. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Woolf notes:
I started writing this puzzle a long time ago and was convinced that 1) with 12 rebus squares, I couldn't fill it, and 2) couldn't keep it resembling a calendar while keeping the word ... read more

I started writing this puzzle a long time ago and was convinced that 1) with 12 rebus squares, I couldn't fill it, and 2) couldn't keep it resembling a calendar while keeping the word count beneath 140 words. So I set it aside for a better part of a year before picking it up again. When I did, I found a layout where each month was relatively the same size, relatively rectangular, and not-too closed off from one-another, and forged ahead.

There ended up being three major challenges to filling this puzzle. First, the many straight edges. Constructors know that it is way easier to fill puzzle sections that have diagonal edges rather than straight edges. With straight-edges, it becomes difficult to avoid words that have terminal non-RSTLNE letters, so one ends up with a lot of fill that is, shall we say, STRUCTURAL. Second, there are very few three-letter entries in the grid, which are a constructor's best friend in otherwise hard-to-fill sections. Finally, I didn't want any of the rebused entries to share a common root with their corresponding month. This was particularly hard for July, which comes from Julius, as do just about every word and name you can think of that starts with JUL besides JULEP. BANJUL, then was my only other JUL-containing option, which as a world capital, is fully legit, but as a city of only 30,000 people, is pretty small potatoes. But so it goes!

I hope this Sunday puzzle — my first! — kicks off your new year on the right foot.

Jeff Chen notes:
Normally I don't care for grids that segment puzzles into sections, but this design was so appropriate for the theme. Cool idea to have twelve 'boxes' — just like a calendar! Great ... read more

Normally I don't care for grids that segment puzzles into sections, but this design was so appropriate for the theme. Cool idea to have twelve "boxes" — just like a calendar! Great a-ha moment when I first uncovered (JAN)GLE and TRO(JAN)S, turning my initial grousing about the puzzle's (quasi-)segmentation into compliments.

The wise Latina!

We've seen a lot of rebus puzzles now, one with the exact same rebus strings and another one still. But David's calendar-looking layout gives it a unique execution. Even though I knew what the rebus square would be in each box, I still had to work to uncover it. Nice balance of deviousness and solvability.

A puzzle like this which uses so many short themers is hard to build — due to word count maximums, if your themers aren't long, your fill has to be. David did well here, with DIETITIAN, RAW SCORE, BEER STEIN, CROSSBAR, etc.

Usually I prefer entries with rebus strings to be long — LIFEBLOOD, SOTOMAYOR, CARL JUNG — but I enjoyed BAN(JUL)'s NYT debut, as I traveled to the Gambia in 2009 with a non-profit org. I learned a ton traveling upcountry for two weeks. The Gambia is a little snake-like country that the British carved out of (French) Senegal, specifically to claim the Gambia River. Crazy colonialists.

I didn't enjoy I(MAR)ET as much. I find it so much more satisfying to uncover something even like (DEC)OCT than I(MAR)ET, wondering if the latter is a valid word. I happen to know it from crosswords, but I liked the WI(N OV)ER / CASA(NOV)AS discovery much better, for example. Personal taste.

ONEK is such an odd entry. The first time I encountered it, I was sure it had to be wrong. It does parse to ONE K, but 1.) it's rare to have a 1-K race, and 2.) it's even more rare to see a race written out as a Five K or a Ten K. Personal preference, but I much prefer entries that one sees in real life. To me, that one sticks out much more so than INTRA or ETATS or even IAL or BRRR.

Very neat effect today with the calendar-looking grid.

1
T
2
R
3
O
4
JAN
5
S
6
L
7
I
8
FEB
9
L
10
O
11
O
12
D
13
A
14
D
15
O
16
N
17
I
18
S
19
H
A
N
G
E
20
R
21
A
M
R
A
D
I
O
22
M
I
N
I
MAR
T
23
A
M
E
L
I
E
24
D
A
I
K
O
N
S
25
P
E
S
T
E
R
26
T
A
K
E
N
U
27
P
28
C
L
E
R
K
E
29
D
30
T
E
S
T
S
31
E
N
D
32
U
S
E
R
S
33
O
34
B
I
T
35
C
36
APR
37
I
38
S
39
I
A
N
40
G
41
C
H
A
T
42
C
43
A
44
L
45
H
I
N
T
46
A
T
47
S
48
O
49
T
50
O
51
MAY
O
R
52
L
I
53
B
I
D
O
54
O
C
T
A
N
E
55
P
A
S
H
T
O
56
C
A
R
L
JUN
G
57
S
O
R
D
I
D
58
V
A
L
L
E
Y
S
59
O
N
R
I
C
E
60
E
T
A
T
S
61
W
E
L
C
O
M
E
S
62
I
N
63
R
A
T
S
64
E
65
P
E
E
66
B
A
Y
67
S
68
B
69
A
70
N
71
JUL
72
S
T
R
73
U
74
C
75
T
76
U
77
R
A
L
78
A
79
SEP
80
T
81
I
82
C
83
A
M
O
E
84
B
A
85
S
L
AUG
H
T
E
R
86
A
S
H
O
R
E
87
D
I
S
P
E
L
88
O
N
H
A
N
D
89
S
H
O
W
E
R
90
A
S
A
S
E
T
91
F
A
T
N
E
S
92
S
93
P
A
R
E
N
T
94
T
H
Y
95
R
E
96
E
F
S
97
I
98
C
I
99
A
L
E
S
100
M
S
R
P
101
R
102
A
103
W
104
S
C
O
R
105
E
106
I
107
D
108
B
E
T
109
A
110
N
111
G
E
L
I
C
112
T
A
P
113
E
114
DEC
115
K
116
S
117
P
E
E
R
E
118
D
119
C
A
S
A
NOV
A
120
S
121
T
O
K
E
N
S
122
A
C
A
C
I
A
123
A
L
A
M
E
D
A
124
E
D
G
I
E
R
125
D
OCT
R
I
N
E
126
A
T
W
O
R
S
T
127
E
S
T
E
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0103 ( 24,162 )
Across
1
Malicious computer programs : TROJANS
6
Essence : LIFEBLOOD
13
Chippendales dancer, e.g. : ADONIS
19
One in the closet : HANGER
21
Band that doesn't play much music nowadays : AMRADIO
22
Common gas station attachment : MINIMART
23
2001 foreign film with five Oscar nominations : AMELIE
24
Radishes with long white roots : DAIKONS
25
Nag : PESTER
26
Accepted, as an offer : TAKENUP
28
Was behind a register, maybe : CLERKED
30
Battery parts : TESTS
31
For whom products are designed : ENDUSERS
33
Passing mention? : OBIT
35
Short pants : CAPRIS
39
McKellen of "The Hobbit" : IAN
40
Alternative to Facebook Messenger : GCHAT
42
Golden Bears' sch. : CAL
45
Suggest : HINTAT
47
Supreme Court justice who once said "I am a New Yorker, and 7 a.m. is a civilized hour to finish the day, not to start it" : SOTOMAYOR
52
Concupiscence : LIBIDO
54
Power, so to speak : OCTANE
55
Language of Afghanistan : PASHTO
56
"The Undiscovered Self" author : CARLJUNG
57
Filthy : SORDID
58
Low points : VALLEYS
59
How curry is often served : ONRICE
60
Divisions politiques : ETATS
61
Beckons through a portal : WELCOMESIN
63
"I hate when that happens!" : RATS
64
Cousin of a foil : EPEE
66
Dark horses : BAYS
68
Capital of Gambia : BANJUL
72
Like some building damage : STRUCTURAL
78
Sterile : ASEPTIC
83
One having a simple existence : AMOEBA
85
Blowout, in sports lingo : SLAUGHTER
86
To land : ASHORE
87
Drive off : DISPEL
88
Available : ONHAND
89
Spring forecast : SHOWER
90
How silverware is often sold : ASASET
91
Obesity : FATNESS
93
Rear : PARENT
94
Your of yore : THY
95
Some protective barriers : REEFS
97
"Vous êtes ___" : ICI
99
Tap things? : ALES
100
Fig. often discounted : MSRP
101
Pre-curve figure : RAWSCORE
106
"Sounds likely to me" : IDBET
109
Exceptionally well behaved : ANGELIC
112
Boom box pair : TAPEDECKS
117
Looked (in) : PEERED
119
Lover boys : CASANOVAS
121
Sole representatives, maybe : TOKENS
122
Gum arabic source : ACACIA
123
Oakland's county : ALAMEDA
124
Like HBO and Showtime vis-à-vis basic cable : EDGIER
125
Something you can believe in : DOCTRINE
126
If everything fails : ATWORST
127
Blues musician known as Sleepy John : ESTES
Down
1
Pointer's request? : THAT
2
Ending with Cine- : RAMA
3
Brief race, in brief : ONEK
4
What keys on a key ring do : JANGLE
5
Setting for van Gogh's "River Bank in Springtime" : SEINE
6
Sonny : LAD
7
Some desktops : IMACS
8
Running a high temperature : FEBRILE
9
Staples Center athlete : LAKER
10
Stinks : ODORS
11
Emanation from a pen : OINK
12
Doctor's recommendation : DOSE
13
Box in an arena? : AMP
14
One helping with servings : DIETITIAN
15
Start : ONSET
16
"You're missing a comma" and others : NITS
17
Turkish inn : IMARET
18
Orch. section : STRS
20
Together again : REUNITED
27
Something people do not want to see outside, for short : PDA
29
Cartoon exclamation : DOH
32
Young ___ : UNS
34
Setting not actually found in "Romeo and Juliet" : BALCONY
35
Opted for : CHOSE
36
Kind of orchard : APRICOT
37
Mural's beginning? : INTRA
38
Town: Ger. : STADT
40
Singer with the 2012 #1 hit "Somebody That I Used to Know" : GOTYE
41
It splits the uprights : CROSSBAR
42
Paramecium propellers : CILIA
43
Kind of professor : ADJUNCT
44
Some premium seating : LOGES
46
Licorice flavor : ANISE
48
Colorful gem : OPAL
49
Barber's supply : TALC
50
___ Accords : OSLO
51
Keystone Kops-like scene : MAYHEM
53
Icy remark? : BRRR
58
Diverges : VEERSOFF
61
Besprinkle, say : WET
62
Suffix with conspirator : IAL
65
Church book : PSALTER
67
One of the Obamas : SASHA
68
Unable to do well : BADAT
69
Rural community : AMISH
70
Lack of influence : NOSAY
71
Kentucky Derby drinks : JULEPS
73
Ones up in arms? : ULNAS
74
No longer wanted : CAUGHT
75
More ___ enough : THAN
76
___ Reader : UTNE
77
Most lipstick options : REDS
79
Big lipstick seller : SEPHORA
80
Dry (off) : TOWEL
81
Memorable 2011 hurricane : IRENE
82
Mint roll : CERTS
84
Rathskeller decoration : BEERSTEIN
86
Breathe in : ASPIRATE
92
Word often seen in brackets : SIC
96
Green grp. : EPA
98
Item in a tent : COT
100
Guy's thanks? : MERCI
101
Cut over, in a way : RESAW
102
Dollar competitor : ALAMO
103
Convince : WINOVER
104
A lot : SCADS
105
Horatian work : EPODE
106
Certain tablet : IPAD
107
Boil down : DECOCT
108
Handle : BEAR
110
Publisher of Champion magazine, for short : NCAA
111
"Who is John ___?" (question in "Atlas Shrugged") : GALT
113
Hosp. readouts : EKGS
114
Lies : DECEIT
115
Just above where 35-Across end : KNEE
116
They were wiped off the map in '91 : SSRS
118
Daniel ___ Kim, "Hawaii Five-0" actor : DAE
120
Remained in inventory : SAT

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?