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New York Times, Friday, November 13, 2015

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
741241679512
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 206 for Mr. Berry. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
In an effort to spread around Puzzle of the Week awards, I've recently held Patrick to an impossibly high standard. So many of his ... read more

In an effort to spread around Puzzle of the Week awards, I've recently held Patrick to an impossibly high standard. So many of his themelesses could have been a no-brainer POW choice — almost all of them are that good — but I can usually find some minor nit to pick, some point of critique that us mere mortals can learn from.

Not today. It's a great feeling to be able to gush over a PB puzzle, even as I compare it against his own lofty standards!

Good ol' HONES TA BE

What really sold me on this one was those daunting NW and SE regions. Almost no one quad-stacks entries these days, because it's so difficult to fill them cleanly and colorfully. Usually there's some crossing answer which causes a groan, or some answer within the stack which is pretty neutral at best.

Patrick doesn't just use a (quasi-)quad-stack today — he RUNS LONG ANSWERS THROUGH THEM. Not only that, but he DOESN'T SEGMENT THESE CORNERS FROM THE REST OF THE PUZZLE, which usually people need to do in order to pull this off. Such beautiful grid flow.

I never work with these sorts of gargantuan swaths of white space. They're just too hard to execute on. So it's stunning to see all the snazzy material, all pulled off with the usual PB uber-cleaninless. Take the bottom right. SHOULDER STRAP / WHITE FLAG / HONEST ABE / IN ESSENCE is great enough by itself. (So challenging to parse HONESTABE, which I thought was some football player #16, HONES ????) Run IT'S A PLANE through that all, along with no gluey crossing entries = amazing.

Same goes for the upper left. RICE A RONI, BLENDED IN, SAY CHEESE, DEEP SEA DIVERS, with ACEY DEUCY running through them (and no junky fill). Dang, that's incredible.

FILLIP was a tough word for me and I don't know I'd ever use it to replace "bonus," but I liked learning it. AQUIVER doesn't sound as good to me as ALL AQUIVER, but it's no problem.

The only complaint I had was that PB's puzzles as of late have been so wide-open, so difficult to start, that I've found them much harder than any other Friday puzzle. Maybe Saturday would be a better slot.

Some of my friends call PB the Crossword Jesus, and it's puzzles like this that justify that name.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1113 ( 24,111 )
Across
1
Snowman in 2013's "Frozen" : OLAF
5
Flamenco sound : CLAP
9
Observes the Muslim day of Ashura : FASTS
14
Product whose jingle was based on the 1923 hit "Barney Google" : RICEARONI
16
Cry often heard after "That's it!" : IQUIT
17
Fit well, so as hardly to be noticed : BLENDEDIN
18
Green-hatted Nintendo character : LUIGI
19
Words before taking a shot? : SAYCHEESE
20
Engine displacement unit : LITER
21
People who are under a lot of pressure : DEEPSEADIVERS
23
Wine of the palomino grape : SHERRY
25
Vicar of Christ, more familiarly : POPE
26
Gambling opponent : HOUSE
27
Hands-on sites? : HIPS
29
Arranges : RIGS
33
Soldier in the Battle of Helm's Deep : ORC
34
Bad : SPOILED
37
N.B.A. on ___ (sports staple since 1989) : TNT
38
Performer of the 2001 Oscar-nominated song "May It Be" : ENYA
40
The "E" of the old NY&E Rail Road : ERIE
41
Time unit : ISSUE
43
Sacks : CANS
45
More than surprised : AGHAST
46
Line of women's clothing? : SHOULDERSTRAP
51
Flat fish : MANTA
52
Standard of negotiation : WHITEFLAG
55
Pod : whale :: raft : ___ : OTTER
56
Moniker for #16 : HONESTABE
57
Sphere : REALM
58
At bottom : INESSENCE
59
Awards ceremony since 1993 : ESPYS
60
Garden interloper : PEST
61
Newsroom post : DESK
Down
1
Orrery components : ORBS
2
Diane Sawyer's actual first name : LILA
3
Backgammon variant in which rolling a 1-2 is beneficial : ACEYDEUCY
4
Duelists of old : FENCERS
5
Unsettling : CREEPY
6
Valuable deposits : LODES
7
Ingredient in five-spice powder : ANISE
8
SpongeBob SquarePants lives inside one : PINEAPPLE
9
Nice extra : FILLIP
10
Visibly nervous : AQUIVER
11
Software package : SUITE
12
Animal symbolizing anger in Buddhism : TIGER
13
Shows signs of life : STIRS
15
Conforms (to) : ADHERES
22
Hospital meal accompanier : DOSE
23
Clodhopper, e.g. : SHOE
24
Road rage catalyst : HORN
27
Coachman's handful : HORSEWHIP
28
First Super Bowl to be called "Super Bowl" : III
30
Metropolis misidentification : ITSAPLANE
31
South African game : GNUS
32
Proofer's direction : STET
35
Await : PEND
36
Go from point A to point B? : DIGRESS
39
How devastating insults are felt : ACUTELY
42
Given a raw deal : SHAFTED
44
Ironic items to steal : ALARMS
45
Swear : ATTEST
46
Gooey treat : SMORE
47
Is repelled by : HATES
48
Ready if needed : ONTAP
49
"Starry Night Over the ___" (van Gogh painting) : RHONE
50
Trig ratios : SINES
53
Early lesson : ABCS
54
Sideshow oddity : GEEK

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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