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New York Times, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author:
Jacob McDermott
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
38/27/201311/18/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0021000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Jacob McDermott

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQVXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. McDermott. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
'Both words can precede X' type theme today. Will spaces these out since they've become a bit overused, but today's has a neat ... read more

"Both words can precede X" type theme today. Will spaces these out since they've become a bit overused, but today's has a neat revealer helping to set it apart. POWER COUPLE is a great phrase in itself, and it perfectly describes the idea: SUPER power, STAR power, FULL power, STEAM power, etc.

Nice themers, too. MUSCLEMAN is a colorful, fun one — a few months ago I attended a muscle-building contest with friends (one of their employees was competing) and had a lot of fun. (A point of advice: at one of these events, it's not a good idea to walk around with your arms out, flexing your neck in mock poses.) SUPERSTAR and HIGH HORSE are both solid, too. FULL STEAM, though … it's like playing the penultimate chord, leaving out the resolution. Or saying "Shave and a haircut," just daring someone not to yell "two bits!"

AHEAD! Ahem.

I like that Jacob's layout gives the solver no across answers longer than the themers — hard to confuse theme/fill that way. And I bet there were so few choices in themers that Jacob was just glad to get something to work. I've made these types of puzzles in the past, always starting with a giant list of individual words before running through the (huge number of) pairs, insanely happy when something made sense.

Uncas

Check out 31D: UNCAS. What else are you going to put into a U?C?S slot? "Jacob should have swapped the themers around to get a more flexible start to the puzzle," you might smugly say. But wait — what would you have swapped? Oddly enough, three of the four themers have U as their second letter … and those same three all have A as their penultimate letter! Not a lot of options. UNCAS I think is a fine answer, as it's straight out of history and literature, but perhaps crossing it with non-proper nouns (NIN and LOA) would have been better.

The NW and SE corners perfectly illustrate the constructors' constant trade-offs. Clean NW, but without much sizzle. Sparkly SE — CLAM UP / KIGALI / SPANKS is a great triple — but with ESE, EPIS, and a tough AGA / KIGALI crossing. There's hardly ever a perfect solution. Ah, the eternal struggle.

1
A
2
N
3
A
4
L
5
B
6
L
7
I
8
P
9
S
10
N
11
A
12
R
13
K
14
D
A
L
I
15
A
E
R
O
16
C
O
C
O
A
17
S
U
P
E
18
R
S
T
A
R
19
R
U
T
T
Y
20
A
S
H
21
A
S
O
N
22
W
A
G
23
L
E
A
24
R
N
O
F
25
C
A
P
A
26
B
27
L
28
E
29
E
A
S
E
L
30
F
31
U
L
L
S
T
E
A
M
32
P
O
33
P
34
N
I
N
35
D
O
T
36
P
O
W
E
37
R
C
O
U
38
P
39
L
E
40
A
41
W
E
42
L
O
A
43
T
I
E
44
H
I
G
45
H
46
H
O
R
S
47
E
48
S
O
49
C
50
K
51
S
52
I
T
S
E
A
S
Y
53
L
54
E
T
S
L
I
P
55
C
S
I
56
T
Y
P
O
57
A
G
A
58
K
59
O
60
O
K
S
61
M
U
S
C
L
62
E
M
A
N
63
I
D
Y
L
L
64
O
R
E
O
65
S
U
L
K
66
M
E
L
E
E
67
W
N
E
T
68
E
P
I
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1118 ( 23,751 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1
___-retentive : ANAL
5
Plane, on a radar screen : BLIP
9
Sarcasm : SNARK
14
"Swans Reflecting Elephants" painter : DALI
15
___ Club (pilot's group) : AERO
16
Kind of butter : COCOA
17
Luminary among luminaries : SUPERSTAR
19
Like many rural roads : RUTTY
20
Cigarette residue : ASH
21
Whom "unto us" is given, in Isaiah : ASON
22
What dogs' tails do : WAG
23
Hear about : LEARNOF
25
Competent : CAPABLE
29
Stand an artist might take : EASEL
30
Flat out : FULLSTEAM
32
Champagne opening sound : POP
34
Novelist Anaïs : NIN
35
Half of an umlaut : DOT
36
Beyoncé and Jay Z, e.g. ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 44- and 61-Across : POWERCOUPLE
40
Partner of shock : AWE
42
Hawaii's Mauna ___ : LOA
43
Link : TIE
44
Snooty attitude : HIGHHORSE
48
Low pair? : SOCKS
52
"Piece of cake!" : ITSEASY
53
Accidentally say : LETSLIP
55
CBS forensic series : CSI
56
There's one in this cleu : TYPO
57
___ Khan : AGA
58
Wackos : KOOKS
61
Bodybuilder, for one : MUSCLEMAN
63
Pastoral composition : IDYLL
64
___ cheesecake (black-and-white dessert) : OREO
65
Show petulance : SULK
66
Brawl : MELEE
67
PBS station behind "Live From Lincoln Center" : WNET
68
Certain Protestant: Abbr. : EPIS
Down
1
Magazine agent's success : ADSALE
2
Feeling after a roller coaster ride : NAUSEA
3
Top dogs : ALPHAS
4
Perjurious statement : LIE
5
Voice in the role of Mefistofele, e.g. : BASSO
6
Excuse from responsibility : LETOFF
7
Country bordering three "-stans" : IRAN
8
"___ favor" (Spanish "please") : POR
9
Leftovers : SCRAPS
10
Candy bar filling : NOUGAT
11
One may be hard to follow : ACT
12
"Hogwash!" : ROT
13
___ Jewelers : KAY
18
Became depleted : RANLOW
22
Waldorf salad morsel : WALNUT
24
Seized car, for short : REPO
25
Muse sometimes pictured with a book or scroll : CLIO
26
"Venerable" scholar of old England : BEDE
27
Vientiane native : LAO
28
First responder, for short : EMT
31
Last of the Mohicans in "The Last of the Mohicans" : UNCAS
33
First female speaker of the House : PELOSI
36
Cribbage score keepers : PEGS
37
Actor Calhoun : RORY
38
Energetic sort : PISTOL
39
Many August births : LEOS
40
Yellowfin tuna : AHI
41
Tina Fey display : WIT
45
Shout "Ref, are you blind?!," e.g. : HECKLE
46
Pain in the neck : HASSLE
47
Parisian palace : ELYSEE
49
Stop talking : CLAMUP
50
Capital of Rwanda : KIGALI
51
Hits bottom? : SPANKS
54
Florida tourist attraction : EPCOT
56
Spin of the dial or roll of the dice : TURN
58
Most common Korean surname : KIM
59
Poet's dedication : ODE
60
Olive of the comics : OYL
61
Cut (down) : MOW
62
Ending for Nepal : ESE

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

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