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New York Times, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author:
Jacob McDermott
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
38/27/201311/18/20140
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0021000
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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 )
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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