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New York Times, Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1610/29/201512/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3101254
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
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: 13 unique to this puzzle.

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