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THE DESCENT OF MAN

New York Times, Sunday, January 4, 2015

Author:
Finn Vigeland
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1810/20/20109/1/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9123012
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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: 8 unique to this puzzle, 8 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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