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PORTMANFAUX

New York Times, Sunday, November 18, 2018

Author:
Byron Walden and Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9211/23/200111/18/201814
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1101192617
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59321
Byron Walden
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6210/22/200911/18/20186
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
15811810325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351
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
65. Norwegian king near the end of the first millennium : OLAVI
66. Non-___ (food label) : GMO
67. Western powwow held every year or so : NATOSUMMIT
70. "Come again?" : HUH
72. Limit : CAP
73. "Fancy that!" : GEE
74. 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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