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THE DESCENT OF MAN

New York Times, Sunday, January 4, 2015

Author: Finn Vigeland
Editor: Will Shortz
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1610/20/20103/25/20184
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1.64230
Finn Vigeland

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {Q} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 5 for Mr. Vigeland. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Finn Vigeland notes: Unsurprisingly, the 'Frozen' song was the seed here. I was brainstorming contemporary entries that might span a 21x grid, and my disappointment at finding it was three letters too long turned to ... more
Finn Vigeland notes:

A little Frozen cosplay

Unsurprisingly, the "Frozen" song was the seed here. I was brainstorming contemporary entries that might span a 21x grid, and my disappointment at finding it was three letters too long turned to opportunity when I decided just to make the extra MAN the theme. (This thought process happened on a canoe trip, so my original title was "Man Overboard.") Although five themers is a bit below average for a Times Sunday puzzle, the corresponding down answers containing "MAN" added a lot of constraints, especially as I tried to use the string M-A-N in contexts not meaning "man."

The SE corner was a bear to fill, and when Will accepted the puzzle he graciously gave me the chance to re-fill and re-clue it — twice! (Once on my own, a second time with an assist from Frank Longo, who found ALE GLASS as the silver bullet that allowed a clean escape from that corner.) I was surprised Will nixed my original NEYMAR at 105D, but he OK'd TALISA Stark, who's not even in the books, so go figure!

I'm pleased to be able to clue JACOBS as my idol Jane for the first time in the Times, and to debut BRUNCH for the first time since the Farrar era. Enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes: A literal interpretation of THE DESCENT OF MAN, Darwin's seminal treatise on evolutionary theory. Neat how those five theme entries seemed incomplete … or was it perhaps a rebus? I first turned up WONDER ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

A literal interpretation of THE DESCENT OF MAN, Darwin's seminal treatise on evolutionary theory. Neat how those five theme entries seemed incomplete … or was it perhaps a rebus? I first turned up WONDER WO, and wondered (pun intended) if how in heck a MEN IN BLACK theme could possibly relate to the theory of evolution. (insert conspiracy theory here)

The misdirection made me appreciate even more Tom McCoy's puzzle from a few weeks back, where he intentionally placed a black square at the upper left corner, intending people to think that it was a rebus theme — BLACK squeezed into a single square. I hadn't even seen that trap, but now that I fell into today's, I realize how it would have been fiendishly clever for those encountering it.

I appreciated how Finn placed his themers symmetrically. Sometimes with this type of "bending" puzzle, the constraints become too difficult. So much real estate is required, and the constructor ends up spreading the themers at random. I find that inelegant. Even though I was a little put off by the fact that there are only five themers, I think it's a better solution than cramming a bunch in willy-nilly. Of course, the optimal solution is to still have seven(ish) symmetrical themers, even if they were a little shorter. Very tough to do, since those "bends" take up so much space.

I usually don't care about a lot of proper names in a grid. It's a plethora of esoteric ones I find bothersome. Let's say it was just LEONIA, INNESS, JACOBS. Totally fine! DOOLEY and NAMIB and NORRIS with a rough clue? Hmm. AMAZONAS taking up a precious long slot? And even having watched most of "Game of Thrones," being expected to know TALISA? It's tricky — propers are so useful because people spell names in odd ways; super useful for constructors in need of a jam-saving entry. Easy to go too far, though.

Overall, I liked the theme, and my solve was enhanced by a number of really strong clues. If you missed their impact, go back and look at TERMITE, BREW PUB, WRISTS, and ABACI. So worth an extra look.

1
J
2
A
3
N
4
F
5
B
6
I
7
P
8
A
9
L
10
M
11
O
12
F
13
F
14
I
15
S
16
H
17
A
N
A
18
T
19
U
R
N
20
A
T
E
A
21
M
22
P
O
U
N
C
E
23
C
O
M
E
24
O
N
I
N
25
X
W
O
R
D
26
E
A
R
T
H
Y
27
O
M
E
N
S
28
N
E
29
G
R
O
30
I
M
31
O
N
L
Y
H
U
32
B
I
L
D
U
33
N
G
S
R
O
34
B
L
A
S
E
35
E
M
36
I
37
S
A
Y
S
38
R
O
S
E
M
39
A
R
Y
40
C
R
41
O
42
W
B
A
R
43
B
44
E
A
U
45
A
G
E
N
46
D
A
47
P
R
A
N
K
48
A
49
S
50
F
A
R
51
T
52
H
53
E
N
O
W
54
A
R
55
R
A
I
G
N
S
56
N
O
R
R
I
57
S
58
E
L
A
59
P
60
B
R
61
E
L
S
62
O
H
O
63
T
E
64
R
R
A
65
P
U
R
E
66
E
D
67
T
68
I
69
N
70
A
71
D
O
Y
72
O
U
W
A
N
T
73
T
O
B
U
I
L
D
74
A
S
N
O
W
75
E
T
O
N
76
S
E
A
E
A
R
77
N
A
M
I
B
78
A
T
M
79
E
80
C
U
81
N
S
C
82
A
C
S
83
T
A
84
L
I
S
A
85
C
86
R
87
A
S
H
P
88
A
D
89
K
90
I
S
H
K
91
A
92
C
A
R
O
N
93
A
I
M
E
E
94
D
O
95
O
L
E
Y
96
L
97
A
I
N
98
S
C
A
T
T
99
E
D
100
T
E
R
M
101
I
102
T
E
S
103
D
104
O
105
L
106
L
107
S
E
Z
108
V
E
109
S
T
S
110
M
O
R
G
A
111
N
F
R
E
E
112
W
O
113
N
114
D
E
R
W
O
115
V
E
N
A
L
116
S
O
D
O
M
117
L
I
N
E
A
R
118
A
M
119
B
I
T
120
M
A
121
C
A
R
E
N
A
122
S
N
A
R
F
S
123
P
A
R
E
R
124
P
S
A
125
M
A
I
N
126
D
E
S
O
T
O
127
N
O
S
Y
128
S
S
N
129
L
A
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0104 ( 23,798 )
Across Down
1. The "1" of 1/4 : JAN
4. Org. portrayed in "American Hustle" : FBI
7. Conceal, in a way : PALM
11. Aloof : OFFISH
17. Subj. that gets into circulation? : ANAT
19. Caterer's container : URN
20. Starters : ATEAM
22. Spring : POUNCE
23. Greeting at the door : COMEONIN
25. Daily newspaper feature, informally : XWORD
26. Rabelaisian : EARTHY
27. Signs from above : OMENS
28. Part of U.N.C.F. : NEGRO
30. "Nobody's infallible, not even me" : IMONLYHUMAN
32. Literary genre of "David Copperfield" or "Ender's Game" : BILDUNGSROMAN
34. World-weary : BLASE
35. U.K. record label : EMI
37. States : SAYS
38. So-called "herb of remembrance" : ROSEMARY
40. Jimmy : CROWBAR
43. Serenader, maybe : BEAU
45. Something a chair has : AGENDA
47. "Candid Camera" feature : PRANK
48. To the same extent : ASFAR
51. What a hippie lives in? : THENOW
54. Takes to court : ARRAIGNS
56. Novelist Frank who wrote "The Octopus" : NORRIS
58. She, in Brazil : ELA
59. Hipster beer, for short : PBR
61. Most IRT lines in the Bronx, e.g. : ELS
62. Cry of discovery : OHO
63. ___ cotta : TERRA
65. Like smoothie fruit : PUREED
67. Rocker Weymouth of the Talking Heads : TINA
71. Title song question in Disney's "Frozen" : DOYOUWANTTOBUILDASNOWMAN
75. ___ jacket : ETON
76. Abalone : SEAEAR
77. Southern African desert : NAMIB
78. You can bank on it : ATM
79. Bygone French coin : ECU
81. Foreign policy grp. : NSC
82. Window units, briefly : ACS
83. ___ Stark, Oona Chaplin's "Game of Thrones" role : TALISA
85. Friend's couch, perhaps : CRASHPAD
89. Stuffed Jewish dish : KISHKA
92. Leslie of "Gigi" and "Lili" : CARON
93. Singer Mann : AIMEE
94. "Tom ___" (#1 Kingston Trio hit) : DOOLEY
96. Reclined : LAIN
98. Sang like Ella : SCATTED
100. What may eat you out of house and home? : TERMITES
103. Hon : DOLL
107. 37-Across, informally : SEZ
108. Some police attire : VESTS
110. Academy Award winner who has played both a U.S. president and God : MORGANFREEMAN
112. Cover subject on Ms. magazine's debut issue, 1972 : WONDERWOMAN
115. Easily bribed : VENAL
116. City burned in Genesis : SODOM
117. ___ algebra : LINEAR
118. Scope : AMBIT
120. 1990s craze : MACARENA
122. Eats up : SNARFS
123. Kitchen gadget : PARER
124. Free ad, for short : PSA
125. Water carrier : MAIN
126. See 52-Down : DESOTO
127. Like stereotypical TV neighbors : NOSY
128. Application info: Abbr. : SSN
129. Spanish article : LAS
1. Pioneering urbanologist Jane : JACOBS
2. Inability to recall the names of everyday objects : ANOMIA
3. To wit : NAMELY
4. Entertainment : FUN
5. Elicit : BRINGOUT
6. "Delaware Water Gap" painter George : INNESS
7. Long period of stability ending circa A.D. 180 : PAXROMANA
8. Part of Lawrence Welk's introduction : ATWO
9. Enthusiastic, sociable, confident type, it's said : LEO
10. Norma Jean, later : MARILYN
11. Kitchen gadget : OPENER
12. Certain weanling : FOAL
13. One of a Greek trio : FURY
14. 100% guaranteed : INTHEBAG
15. "Kinderszenen" composer : SCHUMANN
16. Exclamation repeated in the Monkees' TV theme song : HEY
18. Is a mixologist : TENDSBAR
21. Drug also known as Ecstasy : MDMA
24. Big Ten rival of UMich : OSU
29. College sr.'s test : GRE
31. Award for Hunt and Peck : OSCAR
33. Shooters' org. : NRA
34. Its drafts may be crafts : BREWPUB
36. Bothers : IRKS
39. Fourth word in the "Star Wars" prologue : AGO
41. Kind of blue : OPAL
42. Ones holding hands? : WRISTS
44. "Un Ballo in Maschera" aria : ERITU
46. Hesitant start to a question : DAREIASK
48. + end : ANODE
49. "Ooh-la-la!" : SOHOT
50. Cold treat, informally : FROYO
52. With 126-Across, first European to cross the Mississippi : HERNANDO
53. Thrills : ELATES
55. Website billed as "the front page of the Internet" : REDDIT
57. Clinches : SEWSUP
60. Repast for a late riser : BRUNCH
64. Singer Carly ___ Jepsen : RAE
65. ___ favor : POR
66. Good wood for cabinetmaking : ELM
68. Where bombs are bursting, per Francis Scott Key : INAIR
69. "Au contraire!" : NOTSO
70. "Gimme a break!" : AWMAN
72. Quick round of tennis : ONESET
73. Takes on : TACKLES
74. Summers of old? : ABACI
80. President Arthur's nickname : CHET
82. Feature of much modern architecture : ASYMMETRY
84. Hill or dale : LANDFORM
85. Mama ___ : CASS
86. Popular Eastern beverage : RICEWINE
87. Largest state of Brazil : AMAZONAS
88. Deadly viper : ADDER
90. Suffix with hotel : IER
91. Container in a 34-Down : ALEGLASS
95. Place to kick your feet up : OTTOMAN
97. Solid rock center? : ASA
99. Very much : EVERSO
101. ___ thruster (NASA system) : ION
102. Wanders (around) : TRAMPS
104. Traveling around the holidays, maybe : ORDEAL
105. New Jersey town next to Fort Lee : LEONIA
106. 1960s-'80s Pontiac : LEMANS
109. Substitute : SWAP
111. Edward Snowden subj. : NSA
113. "Quo Vadis" character : NERO
114. Nutty : DAFT
115. Tries to win : VIES
117. You can trip on it : LSD
119. Dude : BRO
121. Has the ability to : CAN

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 7 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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