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New York Times, Saturday, January 5, 2019

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/11/20101/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3021533
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 64, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Zhou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Such an eye-catching grid pattern! Is it a starship? Ions floating around (those big black pluses and minuses)? Whatever it was, it ... read more

Such an eye-catching grid pattern! Is it a starship? Ions floating around (those big black pluses and minuses)? Whatever it was, it fit well with my sense of Andrew as an artistic creator.

Constructors using a huge swath with the center typically try to separate it off from the corners, making for easier construction. Not today! Andrew left himself so many outside connections to make. It's so challenging since there's no breathing a sigh of relief once you figure out a central section — it easily might not connect up with one of the corners, and then you have to iterate.

I loved SIMONE BILES featured front and center. But I CAN SEE THAT if you're not an Olympics fan or a gymnastics fan, the entry won't do much for you. Your loss, because she's the epitome of badassery! What I wouldn't give to be half as strong as her.

A trio of squarely Saturday-ish entries; I think some are more satisfying than others:

  1. SYNFUELS. I hadn't heard the term before, but I liked piecing it together. Portmanteau of synthetic fuels? Sure!
  2. XERISCAPING. A gray zone for me, considering the R crossing in ROES. I debated XERISCAPING vs. XEDISCAPING, but of course, DOES don't have antlers. (Okay, I had to look that up.) I'm glad to have learned the term XERISCAPING now, especially considering global environmental issues, but I wouldn't say the term delighted me in my solve.
  3. SIROCCO. I had looked this up a few months ago as I was creating a puzzle with a tough pattern to fill, something like S?R??CO. I read the definition and dismissed it as a possibility – seemed too esoteric. Thinking about it more, it is an interesting term, like a haboob or something. Again though, not sure it's going to delight solvers in the way GARLIC BREAD might.

It's tough to stitch together an audacious grid like this without some ANON ESTE NES SSE kind of stuff. That said, I appreciate it when constructors make an effort to shoot for the starships. Er, stars.

1
P
2
O
3
I
4
N
5
T
6
E
7
A
8
L
9
A
10
R
11
M
12
S
13
I
N
T
E
R
N
14
G
R
A
N
A
R
Y
15
S
I
T
S
O
N
16
I
A
M
W
O
M
A
N
17
T
O
E
18
O
U
19
T
C
R
Y
20
N
A
T
O
21
I
N
A
22
S
P
I
R
A
L
23
D
I
D
24
L
Y
M
E
25
A
N
I
26
L
27
P
A
N
S
28
X
29
E
30
R
I
S
C
A
31
P
I
N
G
32
S
I
M
O
N
E
B
I
L
E
S
33
S
Y
S
T
E
M
E
R
R
O
R
34
P
I
N
T
35
S
A
T
E
36
C
37
A
38
R
39
S
40
A
R
F
41
S
H
A
42
C
43
K
E
D
U
P
44
R
O
U
45
E
46
S
T
A
D
I
A
47
S
S
E
48
I
C
E
S
49
H
E
E
T
50
P
R
51
A
I
S
E
52
A
C
L
T
E
A
R
53
R
E
S
T
E
D
54
H
O
S
E
R
S
55
O
N
S
E
T
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0105 ( 25,260 )
Across
1. ___ shoes (ballet wear) : POINTE
7. Museum installations : ALARMS
13. Asok in "Dilbert," e.g. : INTERN
14. Farm feed holder : GRANARY
15. Holds back, for now : SITSON
16. 1972 hit with the lyric "You can bend but never break me" : IAMWOMAN
17. Nail site : TOE
18. Strong objection : OUTCRY
20. It. is in it : NATO
21. Spinning out of control : INASPIRAL
23. Impersonated : DID
24. Historic town in SE Connecticut : LYME
25. ___ Kapoor, "Slumdog Millionaire" actor : ANIL
27. Skewers : PANS
28. Design of park land requiring minimal water : XERISCAPING
32. Gymnast who won all-around gold in Rio : SIMONEBILES
33. Computer crash cause : SYSTEMERROR
34. Word after half or before size : PINT
35. Fill : SATE
36. What a jam is packed with : CARS
40. Labrador greeting : ARF
41. Lived in a love nest : SHACKEDUP
44. Lord Byron, notably, in his personal life : ROUE
46. Rose Bowl and others : STADIA
47. Tampa-to-Naples dir. : SSE
48. Big part of Greenland : ICESHEET
50. Glorification : PRAISE
52. Knee injury common among athletes : ACLTEAR
53. Ready to face another day, say : RESTED
54. Rubes, north of the border : HOSERS
55. Dawns : ONSETS
Down
1. It has a stigma : PISTIL
2. Like some bagels and dips : ONIONY
3. Grp. troubleshooting a 33-Across : ITTEAM
4. Platform for early Zelda games, for short : NES
5. Travel in large numbers : TROOP
6. Feeling akin to Weltschmerz : ENNUI
7. Group that 5-Downs : ARMY
8. Its spirit may be broken : LAW
9. In a bit, to bards : ANON
10. Fast times? : RAMADANS
11. Classification for violent video games : MRATING
12. Ecclesiastical jurisdictions : SYNODS
14. Pasta dinner staple : GARLICBREAD
16. "Obviously!" : ICANSEETHAT
19. To whom a conductor reports : TRAINMASTER
22. Like much locker room humor : SEXIST
26. Retreat : LAIR
27. Go through : PIERCE
29. Pre-hosp. childbirth aide, often : EMT
30. Graceful antlered animals : ROES
31. Intifada grp. : PLO
32. Petroleum substitutes : SYNFUELS
33. It blows across the Mediterranean : SIROCCO
34. One who's blackballed : PARIAH
37. What a pop-up link might lead to : ADSITE
38. Shade akin to chestnut : RUSSET
39. Interstate numbers : SPEEDS
42. Widely used antibiotic brand : CIPRO
43. Wife of Mike Pence : KAREN
45. Italia's Casa d'___ : ESTE
46. High ___ : SEAS
49. "Death Becomes ___" (Meryl Streep film) : HER
51. Jerk : ASS

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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