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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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