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New York Times, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2210/29/201510/26/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3102358
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.67150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} This is puzzle # 15 for Mr. Trabucco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
I thought of this concept while running, which marks the first time I've ever had a cogent thought while running. More specifically, I ... read more

I thought of this concept while running, which marks the first time I've ever had a cogent thought while running. More specifically, I thought of the "build a word" idea, hoping that I'd be able to find a nice enough selection of words which could be built up that there'd be a shot one would have an apt revealer. I wrote a script to find all the 5s in my word list which would work (daring not even dream a 6 might work — I did confirm this later though!) and was very happy to see BEARD pop out, immediately thinking of today's revealer. The theme fell nicely together after that. I like how as you solve, it seems like a homonym puzzle, and then BEAR shows up and hopefully provides some temporary confusion (as a bear showing up is wont to do). And shoutout to mom and sister, both gigantic 34-Across fans.

Some people dislike the structure a central 9 often forces, with lots of 7s in the corners, but I'm a big fan. Because this usually means each corner only interacts with one themer, I find I can usually convert a decent number of those 7s into assets (e.g., I like A-LISTER, PLANET X, and JANELLE in the NE). And I was able to get down to 72 words, allowing for some additional nice answers going across (again, some people dislike having non-theme across answers as long as theme answers, like FALSE IDOL and THIS IS WAR, but I think it's almost always fine, and especially so here because of the circles).

Happy No-Shave November!

Jeff Chen notes:
Ha! Ian Livengood and I wrestled with this exact theme almost ten years ago, wanting it to end with BEARD TRIMMER [Device needed after ... read more

Ha! Ian Livengood and I wrestled with this exact theme almost ten years ago, wanting it to end with BEARD TRIMMER [Device needed after finishing this puzzle]. I don't remember why we abandoned it. Drat, I wish we had followed it through! BEA ARTHUR was our middle themer, and I'm pretty sure we had BEAR TRACKS on our list of potential phrases.

Double drat!

Ah. One of the big reasons we gave it up was that we couldn't find a starting themer that matched the length of BEARD TRIMMER. We were dead set on having B start that first phrase so that every themer consistently began with the BEARD growth. I think that's why we stalled out.

Funny. Now that I see BEARD at the end of the last phrase – the only one not at the start – it doesn't bother me. Makes me wonder if I should be less anal about consistency in themes. Four at the start and one at the end seems perfectly fine.

I like Sam's gridwork, especially in the big NW / SE corners. At first, I was skeptical, wondering if things like AFFAIRE and RESEAT were worth it to get FALSE IDOL and THIS IS WAR. I'm still not sold on the cost of AFFAIRE, but FALSE IDOL is such a colorful bonus that it's hard to pass up.

Speaking of added color, there's so much goodness packed into those four corners. THAT GUY made me laugh, as in "don't be THAT GUY who takes all the fun out of crosswords due to his annoying overanalysis." Along with MALWARE, AT LARGE, and PLANET X, JOB FAIR, MALL MAP, it's a ton of gold worked in.

I think I'd have loved it if the themers had been vertical and the BEARD grew from left to right (or the BEARD was in the middle column, at the bottom). But it is easier to read the themers horizontally.

Overall, a solid concept. Along with really strong gridwork, it made for an enjoyable solve.

1
J
2
A
3
M
4
A
5
S
6
O
7
P
8
S
9
P
10
J
11
S
12
O
F
A
G
13
E
14
P
H
A
T
15
A
L
A
N
16
B
F
L
A
T
17
M
A
J
O
R
18
L
A
N
A
19
F
A
L
S
E
I
D
O
L
20
F
I
N
E
R
21
A
I
M
S
22
B
E
Y
O
23
U
R
S
E
L
F
24
I
R
A
I
25
L
26
B
O
T
T
L
E
27
R
E
P
28
Y
29
O
30
Y
31
O
32
M
A
33
E
X
E
D
34
B
E
A
A
R
T
H
35
U
R
36
R
37
I
38
T
E
39
T
Y
R
A
N
T
40
M
41
A
42
B
43
I
M
H
E
44
R
E
45
E
46
R
A
T
O
47
B
E
A
R
T
R
48
A
49
C
50
K
51
S
52
E
L
L
A
53
B
A
T
H
E
54
T
H
I
S
55
I
S
W
A
R
56
I
N
G
A
57
G
R
O
W
A
B
E
A
R
D
58
T
N
U
T
59
W
I
K
I
60
M
A
R
G
E
61
S
O
Y
62
B
A
E
S
63
T
E
E
D
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1114 ( 25,208 )
Across
1
Mag for docs : JAMA
5
Absorbs, with "up" : SOPS
9
Attire that may include covering for the feet, in brief : PJS
12
Old enough : OFAGE
14
Cool, in dated slang : PHAT
15
Boy's name that's an anagram of 18-Across : ALAN
16
Key for five Mozart piano concertos : BFLATMAJOR
18
Girl's name that's an anagram of 15-Across : LANA
19
Its worship is condemned in the Bible : FALSEIDOL
20
The ___ things in life : FINER
21
Intentions : AIMS
22
"Just act natural!" : BEYOURSELF
24
Letter-shaped beam : IRAIL
26
Waves may convey a message in this : BOTTLE
27
Be an agent for, informally : REP
28
Many-time Grammy-winning cellist : YOYOMA
33
Struck (out) : EXED
34
"The Golden Girls" actress : BEAARTHUR
36
Initiation, e.g. : RITE
39
Bad, bad boss : TYRANT
40
Fairy queen in "Romeo and Juliet" : MAB
43
"The party can finally start!" : IMHERE
45
Muse featured in "Xanadu" : ERATO
47
Worrisome sign around a campsite : BEARTRACKS
52
Fitzgerald known as the Queen of Jazz : ELLA
53
Get clean : BATHE
54
Fighting words : THISISWAR
56
Swenson of "Benson" : INGA
57
Do the opposite of shave ... as suggested by the circled letters : GROWABEARD
58
Letter-shaped fastener : TNUT
59
User-edited web page : WIKI
60
Mom on "The Simpsons" : MARGE
61
___ milk : SOY
62
Sweeties, in modern slang : BAES
63
Angry, with "off" : TEED
Down
1
Event for college seniors : JOBFAIR
2
___ de coeur (French romance) : AFFAIRE
3
Plan for shoppers : MALLMAP
4
Longtime Sampras rival : AGASSI
5
Heart beater, in bridge : SPADE
6
"How wonderful!," sarcastically : OHJOY
7
Paul : U.S. :: ___ : Italy : PAOLO
8
Orch. section : STR
9
Hypothetical body in the solar system beyond Neptune : PLANETX
10
"Hidden Figures" co-star Monáe : JANELLE
11
Inhaled, as food : SNARFED
13
Summer in Paris : ETE
15
Much-sought-after celeb : ALISTER
17
Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones film franchise, for short : MIB
20
Big do : FRO
23
German rapid transit system : UBAHN
25
Ingredient in a drain declogger : LYE
29
Western flick, in old parlance : OATER
30
"That's terrific!" : YAY
31
Bruins great Bobby : ORR
32
Underground org. in N.Y.C. : MTA
34
Drinker's party headgear : BEERHAT
35
Sport-___ (vehicle) : UTE
36
Sounds heard at night near a pond : RIBBITS
37
Resolute refusal : IMEANNO
38
Fellow you don't want to be, in a phrase : THATGUY
40
It might require antiviral treatment to beat : MALWARE
41
Still wanted by the police : ATLARGE
42
Got on : BOARDED
44
Highway: Abbr. : RTE
46
Move into or from an exit row, perhaps : RESEAT
48
Fancy hotel lobbies : ATRIA
49
Strangle : CHOKE
50
New Zealanders : KIWIS
51
Govt. org. dating from the 1930s : SSA
55
Big name in cloud computing : IBM
57
Potus #43 : GWB

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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