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PORTMANFAUX

New York Times, Sunday, November 18, 2018

Author:
Byron Walden and Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9311/23/20012/20/201914
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1101292617
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59321
Byron Walden
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
16911910325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 130, Blocks: 74 Missing: {FZ} This is puzzle # 92 for Mr. Walden. This is puzzle # 62 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Byron: It's always a blast constructing with Joel. It's like playing HORSE with Michael Jordan. 'Wow, that's amazing. Wait, what, I have to match that?!' We probably could have made our ... read more

Byron:

It's always a blast constructing with Joel. It's like playing HORSE with Michael Jordan. "Wow, that's amazing. Wait, what, I have to match that?!" We probably could have made our task 10 times easier by cutting GREY POUPON GROUPON, but it was our favorite, so I'm very pleased we made it work.

Joel:

Byron and I have been working on this theme, on and off, since April 2016. We batted it around for a while over email, but it started to seem impossible to find enough good examples, never mind for them to work symmetrically. Still, after every fallow period over the intermittent two years, one of us would find another example, and the thread would keep going. Definitely one of the most satisfying themes to finally put together, after all that work!

Jeff Chen notes:
False portmanteaus is on my (extremely) long list of theme concepts, but I never could quite figure it out. I even had SKORT along with SKI RESORT, but I couldn't come up with a clever way ... read more

False portmanteaus is on my (extremely) long list of theme concepts, but I never could quite figure it out. I even had SKORT along with SKI RESORT, but I couldn't come up with a clever way of cluing it. SKI RESORT as the entry, [Skort?] as the clue didn't seem like it would have produced a good enough a-ha moment.

Byron and Joel are more clever than me.

What a great idea, combining the two to help solvers figure out what was going on. SKI RESORT SKORT as a piece of clothing on the slopes, that's fun!

They did such a nice job of finding enough solid themers to fill out a Sunday, too. I kicked myself that in my own searching, I hadn't found BRADY BUNCH = BRUNCH, BURNING LOG = BLOG, and especially GREY POUPON GROUPON. That last one is a beaut.

Great color in the grid, too. HAUL ASS made me chuckle. NATO SUMMIT, yeah! This math dork loved RISE OVER RUN. Even PAID AD made me stop and think – is there such a thing as a non-paid ad? PEER GROUP, GOJI BERRIES, KIDDERS, RIBEYES, it just went on and on. Even if the theme didn't tickle you, there's plenty of solving entertainment to be had.

As with most Waldenesque constructions, there were a couple of entries that made me cock my head. NONREAL was the one that got me. I know imaginary numbers well, but calling them nonreal seems just ... unreal. It turns out it's a not a non-real dictionary term, but, huh.

(It looks like NONREAL may be replacing "imaginary" in math classes, chalk up one demerit for Jeff. Sigh.)

CORNETTI was another one I didn't know, but it was much more on my wavelength — it was fun to learn. I've gotten unhealthy fascinated by baking shows, and now I want to try my hand at making CORNETTI. I also appreciated that it's related to "cornet," which made me feel like I should have gotten it quicker if I had only thought a little harder.

It wasn't a surprise that this was a low-word-count grid (130, much less than the max 140). Joel and I have discussed this issue a couple of times, and I understand his perspective, that going low helps to introduce freshness. You're forced to not rely on short entries seen all the time in crosswords. But I personally tend to gloss over those shorties, while entries like NONREAL and EX-PARTNER tend to make me pause.

Going to a higher word count would have also allowed for smoothing, getting rid of AKEY, AGRIP, IMRE, etc. Don't get me wrong — this grid is way smoother than an average Sunday grid, even at 130 words — but I have an extremely high bar for these two masters.

That's all super-picky nit-picking, because I do have such astronomically high expectations for these two. Overall, so many great theme entries + strong gridsmanship = POW!

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1118 ( 25,212 )
Across
1
Era of ignorance : DARKAGES
9
Elevators in an office building? : HEELS
14
Houston squad, casually : STROS
19
Eaglelike : AQUILINE
20
Mississippi River bottom feeder : MUDCAT
21
"Wouldn't that be nice!" : IWISH
22
Satchel for a homicide detective? : MURDERCASEMURSE
24
Joe of "GoodFellas" : PESCI
25
Something found at the top of many a Google search page : PAIDAD
26
Manufactured : MADE
27
Baking soda has many of these : USES
29
Tush : REAR
30
Danny Ocean's ex-wife in "Ocean's Eleven" : TESS
31
Unseasonal wear on a winter vacation? : SKIRESORTSKORT
34
Map : CHART
36
Parisian waters : EAUX
37
Jewish mourning period : SHIVA
38
Zoom, e.g. : LENS
39
Baseball stats sometimes called 39-Down : RBIS
42
Jerk : SPASM
46
Static : INERT
48
Swiss canton that was home to William Tell : URI
49
Variety of stud poker, familiarly : HILO
50
Berry with two diacritics in its name : ACAI
51
"Get ___!" : AGRIP
52
Late-morning meal for a TV family? : BRADYBUNCHBRUNCH
58
Dorm overseers, for short : RAS
59
Sports event with two diacritics in its name : EPEE
60
Cry after "Company" : HALT
61
Who wrote "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" : ERASMUS
64
One way to buy mustard cheaply? : GREYPOUPONGROUPON
67
Like the number i, mathematically : NONREAL
68
Burns writing : POEM
69
Strong bond : GLUE
70
A pillar of Islam : HAJ
71
Emails such as "Click this link to become an Apollo astronaut"? : SPACEPROGRAMSPAM
77
Erie Canal city : UTICA
80
___ Spiegel, co-founder of Snapchat : EVAN
81
"Darling, won't you ___ my worried mind" ("Layla" lyric) : EASE
82
Peter's chief of staff on "The Good Wife" : ELI
83
Down-on-their-luck sorts : HOBOS
84
Hit the hide off the baseball : RIPIT
86
Beauts : GEMS
87
Backgrounds in theater : SETS
88
Tempur-Pedic rival : SERTA
90
Seawater compound : NACL
92
Neophytes : TYROS
93
Collection of Yule-centric posts? : BURNINGLOGBLOG
98
Boxing venue : RING
99
Nagy of Hungarian history : IMRE
100
Wooded valley : DELL
101
Bird on Walden Pond in "Walden" : LOON
102
Like services covered by a health insurer : INAREA
105
Drops : OMITS
107
Utensil for eating some cured meat? : SALTEDPORKSPORK
110
Link with : TIETO
111
Brainpower : SMARTS
112
See to it : MAKESURE
113
When a happy hour might start : ATSIX
114
Haven : OASIS
115
Seizure cause : EPILEPSY
Down
1
Deaden acoustically : DAMP
2
Blue shade : AQUA
3
Kingdom in "The Prisoner of Zenda" : RURITANIA
4
Leg-pullers : KIDDERS
5
Div. for the Red 106-Down : ALEAST
6
Secures with a band : GIRDS
7
S.A.S.E., e.g.: Abbr. : ENC
8
They require stitches : SEAMS
9
What the rotator cuff rotates : HUMERUS
10
School extension? : EDU
11
Neutral shades : ECRUS
12
Word from the Latin for "noose" : LASSO
13
One caught by a 12-Down : STEER
14
Nurse : SIP
15
Can-can dancing? : TWERKING
16
Formula for slope in math : RISEOVERRUN
17
Costa Rican president who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize : OSCARARIAS
18
Stuffed ___ : SHIRT
20
Clay and oil, for artists : MEDIA
23
"For heaven ___" : SAKES
28
Some ways on Waze: Abbr. : STS
32
Split personality? : EXPARTNER
33
Branch of Islam : SHIA
34
Appurtenance for a cartoon Neanderthal : CLUB
35
Mannheim mister : HERR
39
Delmonico steak cuts : RIBEYES
40
Document listing technical specifications : BLUEPAPER
41
TV network with a science-y name : ION
43
Prefix with puncture : ACU
44
More sensible : SANER
45
One is roughly the mass of a speck of dust : MICROGRAM
47
Festoons with Charmin, for short : TPS
49
Charged up : HYPER
53
Laura of "Big Little Lies" : DERN
54
Confucian philosopher ___ Hsi : CHU
55
Really trendy : HAPPENING
56
Hit just beyond the infield : BLOOP
57
Hightail it, saltily : HAULASS
62
Ocean froth : SPUME
63
"The Simpsons" bar : MOES
64
Asian fruits used in Western alternative medicine : GOJIBERRIES
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Norwegian king near the end of the first millennium : OLAVI
66
Non-___ (food label) : GMO
67
Western powwow held every year or so : NATOSUMMIT
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"Come again?" : HUH
72
Limit : CAP
73
"Fancy that!" : GEE
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People like you : PEERGROUP
75
Orfeo in Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice," e.g. : ALTO
76
Not catch : MISS
78
Crescent-shaped Italian pastries : CORNETTI
79
Piedmont wine town : ASTI
85
Alternatives to gelcaps : TABLETS
86
Semiliquid stuff : GLOOP
87
Neural junction : SYNAPSE
89
So-so filler? : AND
91
Lunkheads : CLODS
92
Holiday glitter : TINSEL
93
Flora and fauna : BIOTA
94
Plaster for painting : GESSO
95
Animal used to guard sheep and goats : LLAMA
96
Spanish crockery : OLLAS
97
Munchkin : GNOME
98
"___-Tikki-Tavi" : RIKKI
103
Misreckons : ERRS
104
"It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is ___": Churchill : AKEY
106
See 5-Down : SOX
108
Numerical prefix : TRI
109
Much Top 40 music now : RAP

Answer summary: 22 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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