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FOR VARIETY'S SAKE

New York Times, Sunday, October 11, 2015

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1843/15/19948/14/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451326571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514231
David J. Kahn

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 142, Blocks: 71 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 161 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David J. Kahn notes:
I wanted to focus on the show's talent, rather than specific sketches. I wanted to highlight a cross-section of performers who were with the show for a while. And I thought the ... read more

I wanted to focus on the show's talent, rather than specific sketches. I wanted to highlight a cross-section of performers who were with the show for a while. And I thought the pseudo-rivalry between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin for the most guest host appearances was funny and deserved a mention.

Jeff Chen notes:
Tribute to Saturday Night Live, a crossword standard in its 'SNL' form. We get the following stars found within themers: Amy POEHLER Eddie MURPHY Gilda RADNER Bill HADER ... read more

Tribute to Saturday Night Live, a crossword standard in its "SNL" form. We get the following stars found within themers:

  • Amy POEHLER
  • Eddie MURPHY
  • Gilda RADNER
  • Bill HADER
  • Chris ROCK
  • David SPADE
  • Tina FEY
  • Kristen WIIG

Good old Roseanne Roseannadanna ...

Nice to see a mix of old and new, male and female. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are notable omissions to me, but that's to be expected from this huge "Blues Brothers" (and "Animal House") fan. And getting the letters A Y K R O Y D inside a phrase would have been much harder than R O C K or S P A D E.

We also get two bonus people, the two most frequent guest hosts in STEVE MARTIN and ALEC BALDWIN. Fortuitous that they're both 11 letters long! And of course, the famous LIVE FROM NEW YORK / ITS SATURDAY NIGHT. That's a ton of theme material packed in.

A lot of compromises in the short fill in order to get such high theme packing, though. The middle is so tough to fill what with all the theme jammed in. Not a lot you can do in the ALOP / A POD area, and when you pack in STEVE MARTIN right next to SAFELY. It's not a surprise to get a heavy dose of glue in the old-school LIEF.

Sure would have been nice to get the SNL revealer in a more elegant place. The very first across answer, the very last one, smack-dab in the center, any of those would have been better than a random spot that happened to fit (56-Across).

It would also have been nice to present the cast members in a less overt and more deliberate way. I found all those circles strewn about the puzzle to be visually unappealing. I'm not sure what would have been better though — there are a few like ROCK and SPADE which can easily be hidden in phrases (HARD ROCK, SPADE WORK), but not many. Likewise, FEY can be hidden in FRESH PAIR OF EYES, but try doing that with WIIG.

Perhaps hiding the syllables within phrases, like RADNER in RADIANT ENERGY, would have at least cleaned up things a bit? How fortuitous that this phrase actually describes Radner! Seems like there's a seed of a theme right there ...

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G
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1011 ( 24,078 )
Across
1
Get by : PASS
5
Draw ___ on : ABEAD
10
With 101-Across, screen icon : TRASH
15
Co. that invented the floppy disk : IBM
18
Utah attraction for skiers : ALTA
19
Certain graduate : ALUMNA
20
Headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell, with "The" : HAGUE
21
Shellac finish? : CEE
22
Gladly, old-style : LIEF
23
Tents and the like (2001-08) : PORTABLESHELTERS
26
Wraps : ENVELOPS
28
See 109-Across : SIR
29
Goes after : ATTACKS
30
Brought (in) : REELED
31
One of two official Philippine languages, along with English : TAGALOG
35
Flight figures, for short : ETAS
36
"Case of the Ex" singer, 2000 : MYA
37
1964 Charlie Chaplin book (1980-84) : MYAUTOBIOGRAPHY
41
Actress Green of "Casino Royale" : EVA
43
___ column : SPINAL
45
All-inclusive, in edspeak : ELHI
46
Epitome of easiness : PIE
47
Northeastern university where Carl Sagan taught : CORNELL
49
Egypt's Port ___ : SAID
52
Soft wear, informally : MOC
54
Long stretch : ERA
55
Der ___ (Adenauer) : ALTE
56
TV show since 10/11/75, eight of whose former stars appear in the circled squares in this puzzle : SNL
58
Show-off (1975-80) : GRANDSTANDER
62
Stockholders? : STIES
64
"Yikes!" : EEK
66
Quarter : AREA
67
Nashville inst. : TSU
68
Muff, e.g. (2005-13) : HANDWARMER
71
Dessert often topped with cream cheese (1990-93) : CARROTCAKE
76
In the, in Italy : NEI
77
TV star who loved oats : MRED
79
Shirt style : TEE
80
Those girls, in French : ELLES
81
Berlin standard (1990-96) : EASTERPARADE
86
Spring business? : SPA
88
Ambush predators of the sea : EELS
89
Pharaoh ___ : ANT
90
Padre's hermano : TIO
91
Slim and trim : LEAN
93
Thing : ARTICLE
95
Trucker's circuit: Abbr. : RTE
96
Redhead on kids' TV : ELMO
99
How "You Make Me Feel" in a Van Morrison song : SOFREE
101
See 10-Across : BIN
102
With 120-Across, intro heard every week on 56-Across : LIVEFROMNEWYORK
107
First American carrier to show movies on flights : TWA
109
With 28-Across, letter opener : DEAR
110
CH4 : METHANE
111
Kitchen pad : BRILLO
114
Dispute : CONTEST
117
"___ thoughts?" : ANY
118
Ranger rival : ISLANDER
120
See 102-Across : ITSSATURDAYNIGHT
124
Champ's cry : IWON
125
Prefix with -centric : GEO
126
Taekwondo is its national sport : KOREA
127
Makes a good impression? : ETCHES
128
El ___ : NINO
129
Frequent target of ID thieves : SSN
130
Destructive 2012 hurricane : SANDY
131
Latches, say : SHUTS
132
Zapper target : GNAT
Down
1
Not so bright : PALER
2
Coat cut : ALINE
3
15-time guest host of 56-Across : STEVEMARTIN
4
One way to get home (2000-06) : SAFELY
5
Cockeyed : ALOP
6
1974 Best Actress for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" : BURSTYN
7
911 respondent, for short : EMT
8
"Wheel of Fortune" buy : ANA
9
Gently sponges : DABSAT
10
1953 biblical movie : THEROBE
11
Dorm heads, briefly : RAS
12
Ottoman Empire title : AGHA
13
Bird feeder fill : SUET
14
___-skelter : HELTER
15
Like the North Pole : ICECAPPED
16
English county that's home to Reading : BERKSHIRE
17
Snafu : MESS
19
Animal without feet : APOD
24
Title girl in a 2002 Disney movie : LILO
25
"Cheerio" : TATA
27
Focus of urban renewal? : LEASE
32
Some digital camera batteries : AAAS
33
Soviet labor camp : GULAG
34
Baseball's Hodges : GIL
37
John ___, greaser in "American Graffiti" : MILNER
38
___ law : OHMS
39
Designer of the Florence Cathedral bell tower : GIOTTO
40
Class : YEAR
41
Digital money : ECASH
42
Alessandro ___, scientist who discovered 110-Across : VOLTA
44
Abbr. of politeness : PLS
48
"You ___ worry" : NEEDNT
50
Radio host Glass : IRA
51
Jeanne ___ : DARC
53
Class : CASTE
57
Subsidiary proposition : LEMMA
59
Cool : NEAT
60
Does a high-wire act, e.g. : DARES
61
Centers : NUCLEI
63
Cool : SWEET
65
N.B.A. head coach Steve : KERR
69
More open to the outdoors : AIRIER
70
"Get ___!" : REAL
72
Find another spot, maybe : REPARK
73
16-time guest host of 56-Across : ALECBALDWIN
74
___ O'Hara, 2015 Tony winner for "The King and I" : KELLI
75
German coal city, once : ESSEN
78
Bygone presidential inits. : DDE
81
Peer group member? : EARL
82
Countermeasures : ANTIDOTES
83
Democratic presidential nominee before Kennedy : STEVENSON
84
Shirt style : POLO
85
Piece of cake in school : EASYA
87
"___ we alone?" : ARE
92
11 follower : NOON
94
Colorful fish : TETRA
97
"Makes me want seconds!" : MMM
98
Vitamin regimen : ONEADAY
100
Ship's load : FREIGHT
103
Chomps on : EATS
104
Loses it, with "out" : FREAKS
105
Italian mount : ETNA
106
"Actually, I do" : WHYYES
108
Dining partner? (2005-12) : WINING
111
Counter orders : BLTS
112
Lewis who sang the theme for "Avatar" : LEONA
113
"... then again, maybe I'm mistaken" : ORNOT
114
Weeds : CIGS
115
Old colonnade : STOA
116
Go bad : TURN
119
Does, e.g. : SHES
121
Like the border of Time magazine : RED
122
Ultimate : NTH
123
Post-O.R. site : ICU

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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