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New York Times, Friday, November 20, 2015

Author: Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor: Will Shortz
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214/17/20142/14/201810
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31141641
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1.61230
Mary Lou Guizzo

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 28 Missing: {JKQVXZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Mary Lou Guizzo notes: This is one of the first themeless grids I attempted. Lynn Lempel used the same grid design for a NYT puzzle, so I think I ... more
Mary Lou Guizzo notes:

This is one of the first themeless grids I attempted. Lynn Lempel used the same grid design for a NYT puzzle, so I think I borrowed from her. However Joel noted in the acceptance email, "One thing that almost made this a no, despite the good fill, was the grid shape. Will really doesn't like when the black squares segment the grid into thirds like this. It highly increases the chance of the solver to get stuck in one particular area." I mention this for other budding constructors as a word of caution.

I was pleased to fit GABRIELLE GIFFORDS in the grid along with Zooey DESCHANEL and Nancy PELOSI. I've admired Ms. Gifford's comeback after the devastating injury she suffered in an assassination attempt in 2011. She and her husband, former astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander, Mark E. Kelly, campaign tirelessly for common sense gun control legislation.

I'd like to thank Will and Joel for accepting and editing this puzzle. They've improved on many of my clues and it is a better puzzle for it. I laughed when I read the clue "Going places?" for THRONES. They made a slight change in the grid. I had ALII for 5-Across with ISS for 8-Down, and GUAM for 26-Down with GIDDY at 26-Across, UTES at 31-Across and ASS at 34-Across.

I hope you enjoyed your Friday solving experience. I will keep trying to up the percentage of crosswords constructed by women. I encourage other women who have the inclination and time to do the same. Both Jeff Chen and Kameron Austin Collins have offered to mentor women. Editors such as Ben Tausig are encouraging women as well. In a recent solicitation for a new constructor for The American Values Club he noted: "In the interest of equal representation and also of producing a more welcoming vibe in the universe of publishing/intellectual life, we strongly encourage submissions from women and/or people of color. Though all applicants will be seriously considered, these will be given priority consideration." The deadline for that position has passed but I applaud him for reaching out and encourage all editors to do the same as the statistics show a VERY discouraging drop in female constructors.

Jeff Chen notes: I co-construct with ML a lot, and one of the things I appreciate about her is that she introduces me to people and things I'm only ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I co-construct with ML a lot, and one of the things I appreciate about her is that she introduces me to people and things I'm only vaguely familiar with. Sometimes she proposes an entry that makes me question if enough people will appreciate it, but often times it's pure gold. I don't know that I would personally think to put in Zooey DESCHANEL in a puzzle, but she's famous enough to not be an (unsatisfying) either-you-know-it-or-you-don't entry. Plus, she has a cool-looking last name and is a great actress. This is the kind of proper name I like seeing featured in a grid.

Zooey DESCHANEL

Interesting layout. The NW and SE corners look so gigantic, with four long entries stacked atop each other. But the central staircase is pretty easy to fill, with hardly any long answers in it. It's like ML purposefully chose to concentrate all her efforts on the two super-challenging corners.

Some good work in those two corners. I especially liked the SE, with PAT RILEY (ever hear the stories about how he would dunk his head into cold water to supposedly motivate his team?), MEDIA CLIP, and GO IN PEACE stacked. Even RAMPART is an interesting word. With only MUS and REICE holding the area together, that's strong work. Those two minor blights are the only things that keep the corner from being Berryesque.

I liked the NW too, although CADILLACS isn't as snazzy and colorful as, say, CROWN VICS. OLD FOGIES isn't bad, but I personally prefer my crosswords to be inspiring and/or uplifting — along with USE FORCE, the corner was a bit of a downer. The outdated REN and the odd plural, LAICS aren't great, but I don't mind ALIA, since it's common in Et ALIA, and ALIA Shawkat played a memorable Maeby Funke in "Arrested Development."

I liked getting GABRIELLE / GIFFORDS in the grid, but I couldn't remember who she was. Not nearly the smile I got from DESCHANEL, plus I don't value an entry split across two slots very highly.

So, a good number of long assets, but also some offsetting liabilities in the aforementioned, plus the weirdly spelled AMEBA (amoeba is the only way I knew it before crosswords), another RE- in RELAP, etc.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1120 ( 24,118 )
Across Down
1. Event handouts : SWAG
5. Others, to Octavia : ALIA
9. What may follow "they say" : ADAGE
14. They're named for Detroit's founder : CADILLACS
16. One way to travel : BYCAR
17. Fossils : OLDFOGIES
18. Croatian head? : SERBO
19. Not rely just on persuasion : USEFORCE
20. Certain laundry load : COLORS
21. Going places? : THRONES
22. Subject of the 2008 biography "Woman of the House" : PELOSI
23. Cartoon canine : REN
24. Paraded : STRUTTED
26. Rapper with the 2006 #1 album "Press Play" : DIDDY
29. Accessory for Che : BERET
30. Irlande, e.g. : ILE
31. Shipping specifications: Abbr. : RTES
32. Some are vanilla-flavored : COLAS
33. Grp. that often files amicus briefs : ACLU
34. Letters before John F. Kennedy or George H. W. Bush : USS
35. One-up : TRUMP
36. Student drivers? : BUSES
37. Song by the #1 band on VH1's "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders" : MACARENA
39. Field of note?: Abbr. : MUS
40. Astute : SHREWD
41. Bulwark : RAMPART
45. Isn't selfish : SHARES
46. Three-time N.B.A. Coach of the Year : PATRILEY
47. Coyote's genus : CANIS
48. Excerpt for P.R. purposes, say : MEDIACLIP
49. Slide presentation? : AMEBA
50. Words of parting at a Mass : GOINPEACE
51. Pass again at Daytona : RELAP
52. Canoodle, in Canterbury : SNOG
53. Kind of butter used in lip gloss : SHEA
1. One promising "to help other people at all times" : SCOUT
2. Joe of the Eagles : WALSH
3. Math columnist? : ADDER
4. See 12-Down : GIFFORDS
5. Nelson who wrote "A Walk on the Wild Side" : ALGREN
6. Flock members : LAICS
7. Pepsi Freeze is one of its flavors : ICEE
8. Buffoon : ASS
9. Big Swedish export : ABSOLUT
10. Yarn label specification : DYELOT
11. NEWS for the four directions, and others : ACROSTICS
12. With 4-Down, congresswoman in 2011 news : GABRIELLE
13. Destination of NASA's NEAR : EROS
15. Tunes introducer? : LOONEY
20. Destination of NASA's Dawn : CERES
22. Under-the-sink fitting : PTRAP
24. Seat of Alabama's Dallas County : SELMA
25. Subject of a Latin hymn : DEUS
26. Show impatience, as with the fingers : DRUM
27. "So sad" : ITSASHAME
28. Player of the new girl on the sitcom "New Girl" : DESCHANEL
29. Run like a gazelle : BOUND
32. Groups of scullers : CREWS
33. Aegis : AUSPICES
35. It's transported in phloem : TREESAP
36. Legal injustice, informally : BUMRAP
38. Exuberant Mexican exclamation : ARRIBA
39. Endgame action : MATING
41. Tunes player : RADIO
42. Much-praised name : ALLAH
43. Keep treating, as a sprain : REICE
44. Uber-competitive : TYPEA
45. Closing line that stays with you? : SCAR
46. Grunt : PEON
48. Some vintage sports cars : MGS

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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