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POWER BALLADS

New York Times, Sunday, October 8, 2017

Author: Erik Agard and Alex Briñas
Editor: Will Shortz
Erik Agard
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1011/6/201210/8/20173
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2111203
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60020
Alex Briñas
TotalDebutCollabs
110/8/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1000000
RebusCirclePangram
000

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQVX} This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Agard. This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Briñas NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: ERIK: Music and wordplay are but two of Alex's superpowers (you can see some of her punny drawings on her Instagram), so when this puzzle's then-half-formed theme needed rescuing, I knew who to shine the ... more
Constructor notes:

ERIK: Music and wordplay are but two of Alex's superpowers (you can see some of her punny drawings on her Instagram), so when this puzzle's then-half-formed theme needed rescuing, I knew who to shine the Bat-Signal for. Through a couple of revisions and upwards of a hundred emails, the collaboration was always fun, and I'm looking forward to her next puzzle.

ALEX: Erik was the true superhero here — zipped nimbly through the bulk of the work and picked up after all my snafus. I'm a super-newbie to everything in the crossword world, but I do enjoy myself a good pun every now and then, so this was fascinating and foreign and exciting and daunting all at once! And I owe much thanks to Erik for inviting me to sidekick this mission in the first place.

For your enjoyment (we hope), here are some of the theme answers from the cutting room floor:

[Human Torch's favorite band?] (3,7,4)

[Blade's favorite band?] (7,7)

[Wonder Twins' favorite band?] (5)

[Storm's favorite rapper?] (6)

[Beast's favorite singer?] (6)

[Wolverine's favorite guitarist?] (5)

[Lady Deathstrike's favorite band?] (13)

[Banshee's favorite band?] (5,5)

Jeff Chen notes: SUPER GROUP played upon today, various bands/singers amusingly interpreted as a particular superhero's favorite. I'm a huge fan of the Flash, so I got a laugh out of imagining Barry Allen squeeing at a TAYLOR ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

SUPER GROUP played upon today, various bands/singers amusingly interpreted as a particular superhero's favorite. I'm a huge fan of the Flash, so I got a laugh out of imagining Barry Allen squeeing at a TAYLOR SWIFT concert. Of course, the Hulk would love GREEN DAY, and Thor would be a fanboy of MC HAMMER.

I'm a huge superhero nerd, so all the characters came to me quickly. (In a Flash, you might say … *rimshot*) I appreciated that Erik and Alex executed the concept in a way that even if you don't know superheroes well, the puzzle still might amuse you. They could have easily relied on fringe characters like Hawkman or Plastic Man or Zatanna, for instance.

The nerd inside of me cries for Zatanna's exclusion, but what are you gonna do.

And even if you're a person who likes neither superheroes (infidel!) nor music, the grid was still interesting and clean enough to allow for a pleasant solving experience, treating it as a giant themeless puzzle. COIN TOSS, ETYMOLOGY, GOING PLACES, SACRED COW, SAN FRAN, PREGGERS, MUD PIE, and my favorite, SON OF A …! Something so entertaining about phrases implying a swear word, like "Why you little …" and "What the …".

All of that without much crossword glue: minor ARAT, CARO, CEST, DEO, DOI, NEO, SEI, etc. Notice how careful Erik and Alex were to keep their glue limited to very short words of mostly three letters? That's a great way to minimize their potential for feeling inelegant. Almost every Sunday 140-word puzzle will need some crossword glue, but sticking to very short (3-4 letters) stuff is a good way to make it seem less consequential.

Loved Erik's voice coming through in ALLEGEDLY: [legally covering our butts here]. He's so great with his memorable cluing. (ADDED NOTE: I would have bet $1000 that it was Erik's clue ... good thing I don't bet very often! It was Will's.)

The only things I wasn't wild about were the 2x2 chunks of black squares in the SW and NE. It's a subjective assessment, but they look so heavy and unnecessary to me.

Fun connections between two disparate sets of interests, and excellent gridwork. Strong offering, especially considering it's Alex's debut.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1008 ( 24,806 )
Across Down
1. Agcy. for Kennedy and Reagan : TSA
4. Push : IMPEL
9. Positive quality : ASSET
14. Provider of directions, for short : GPS
17. Penne ___ vodka : ALLA
19. Around : CIRCA
20. Claw : TEARAT
22. "Intriguing!" : OOH
23. Aquaman's favorite singer? : BILLYOCEAN
25. The Human Torch's favorite band? : ARCADEFIRE
27. ___ Edberg, two-time U.S. Open tennis champion : STEFAN
28. With child, informally : PREGGERS
30. Nicely muscled : TONED
31. Canine warning : GRR
32. Feminine hygiene product : PAD
33. Seashore feature : DUNE
34. Oriental, e.g. : RUG
35. The Hulk's favorite band? : GREENDAY
38. Does 110, say : SPEEDS
40. Sculptor/collagist Jean : ARP
41. Staff : ROD
42. Number between cinque and sette : SEI
43. Mama ___ Elliot : CASS
44. Iceman's favorite band? : COLDPLAY
48. Bermuda, e.g. : ISLE
50. Sweetly sing : CROON
52. 14-pound unit : STONE
54. Australian friend : MATE
55. The Flash's favorite singer? : TAYLORSWIFT
58. Adamant refusal : IWONT
60. Animator's frame : CEL
61. "Your" of yore : THY
62. Bit of progress : INROAD
64. "Seriously?" : FORREAL
66. Front of a vessel : PROW
68. Magneto's favorite band? : METALLICA
70. Quaint agreement : YESM
71. Comment advising you to set your sights a little lower? : SEENOTE
73. Low tie : ONEONE
74. Response to "You have something on your face," maybe : DOI
75. List-ending abbr. : ETC
76. Gobbles (down) : WOLFS
78. Spider-Man's favorite band? : THESPINNERS
83. Smell ___ (sense something fishy) : ARAT
85. Like Hägar the Horrible : NORSE
87. ___ Martin : ASTON
88. "Enough already!" : STOP
89. Batman's favorite rapper? : LILWAYNE
91. Revivalists, for short : NEOS
93. Not only that but also : NAY
95. Singer Sumac : YMA
96. The Avalanche, on sports tickers : COL
97. Make do with a lesser option : SETTLE
99. Thor's favorite rapper? : MCHAMMER
101. Actress Thurman : UMA
102. 32° Fahrenheit, in Celsius : ZERO
103. Parisian street : RUE
104. ___ volente (God willing) : DEO
105. Old-fashioned provider of directions : ATLAS
107. Completely set : CEMENTED
109. Sir and madam : TITLES
112. Electro's favorite singer? : FRANKZAPPA
114. What the musical artists in this puzzle would form if they all performed together? : SUPERGROUP
116. Decompose : ROT
117. Let breathe, as stinky shoes : AIROUT
118. Tangent line? : ASIDE
119. Princess Fiona, after sunset : OGRE
120. One begins "Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness" : ODE
121. ___-turvy : TOPSY
122. Chocolate cup inventor H. B. ___ : REESE
123. Pained cry : YOW
1. Things the police may keep on suspects : TABS
2. Narrow cut : SLIT
3. [legally covering our butts here] : ALLEGEDLY
4. Clickable item : ICON
5. Boom ___ : MIC
6. Remit in advance : PREPAY
7. Digital greeting : ECARD
8. "Stay in your ___!" : LANE
9. Approximately : ATAGUESS
10. Untroubled : SERENE
11. Divine bovine? : SACREDCOW
12. Timeline sections : ERAS
13. Wee bit : TAD
14. Destined for greatness : GOINGPLACES
15. Opening in cosmetology? : PORE
16. Molt : SHED
18. Woodard with four Emmys : ALFRE
21. Covalent bonds of a carbon atom, e.g. : TETRAD
24. Things sailors spin : YARNS
26. Late afternoon hour : FOURPM
29. Some economic figs. : GDPS
32. Tournament bridge players, typically : PAIRS
35. Stick-to-it-iveness : GRIT
36. Santa ___, Calif. : ROSA
37. Speak out against : DECRY
38. City by the Bay, informally : SANFRAN
39. "Why, you little ..." : SONOFA
43. Several quarter turns? : COINTOSS
45. Jay with jokes : LENO
46. Starting squad : ATEAM
47. Speak up, and then some : YELL
49. ___ Brand, two-time N.B.A. All-Star : ELTON
51. Boo-boo : OWIE
53. Good trait in a housemate : TIDINESS
56. "Jeez, wasn't expecting that!" : OHWOW
57. For rent : TOLET
59. Test for fit : TRYON
63. Song with the lyric "A loko e hana nei" : ALOHAOE
65. Things equestrians have on hand? : REINS
66. ___ dish : PETRI
67. What 14-Across will do if you miss a turn : RECALCULATE
68. Fruit salad ingredients : MELONS
69. "___ bon" : CEST
71. Pup grown up : SEAL
72. Uptown : TONY
74. "___, won't you blow your horn?" (old lyric) : DINAH
77. Cold summer treat : FREEZEPOP
79. Puerto Rican city that shares its name with an explorer : PONCE
80. System of roots? : ETYMOLOGY
81. Part of a so-called "grand tour" : ROME
82. Trade barbs or blows : SPAR
84. Like some saws and bobsleds : TWOMAN
86. Supplication : ENTREATY
90. "What did Delaware?" "I don't know, but ___" (classic joke) : ALASKA
92. University in North Carolina : ELON
94. "Feel me?" : YADIG
98. "___ fugit" : TEMPUS
99. Gooey chocolate treat : MUDPIE
100. Public transit system : METRO
103. Be economical with : REUSE
105. Lead-in to -centric : AFRO
106. Stepped : TROD
107. Italian dear : CARO
108. Victim of a revolution : TSAR
109. What the upright yoga pose vrikshasana simulates : TREE
110. It's worth a little more than a dollar : EURO
111. Violently send out : SPEW
113. Stridex target, informally : ZIT
115. Mag personnel : EDS

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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