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New York Times, Friday, November 20, 2015

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
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31153641
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1.61440
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
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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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