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New York Times, Monday, November 21, 2016

Author:
John Lieb
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
155/14/20132/16/20195
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0432204
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60110
John Lieb

This puzzle:

Rows: 16, Columns: 14 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Lieb. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: Although this puzzle can be solved in Across Lite, the print version contains elements that the software cannot reproduce. We recommend using the PDF, or alternatively one of the other available electronic versions.
John Lieb notes:
My favorite part of this puzzle is the doubling of the clue numbers, and I'm excited to get something unusual into a Monday ... read more

My favorite part of this puzzle is the doubling of the clue numbers, and I'm excited to get something unusual into a Monday puzzle. I hope the high number values gave some solvers a minor jolt on first glance, perhaps like the one I had after coming back to watching Jeopardy! after a many-year hiatus and discovering the increased dollar values on the board.

I originally was just playing with a basic 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 progression and then the "Against All Odds" revealer came out of desperation, as having five theme answers was a pain to work with (the "four" entry having to be in the middle of the grid). It turned out having six theme answers gave me more flexibility. Then carrying the revealer to its logical conclusion led to the clue inflation. (It was unintentional, but fortuitous, that the grid is 16 rows by 14 columns – thank you 14-letter revealer!)

As a middle/high school math teacher, I'm on pretty friendly terms with the odd numbers, so I hope they don't take the puzzle personally…

Jeff Chen notes:
Hey, a Monday featuring a trick! It's a lot of fun in print, where each clue number is doubled — thus getting even more ... read more

Hey, a Monday featuring a trick! It's a lot of fun in print, where each clue number is doubled — thus getting even more at AGAINST ALL ODDS — but even without this customization, the puzzle works well.

At first I was a little confused why John worked in ZERO in addition to what I would have expected (just TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT), but then I remembered he's a math professor. There's some debate as to whether ZERO is an even number or not, but there is no doubt that it isn't odd — neat math factoid.

Going away from the usual 15x15 to 14x16 is also a nice touch, to continue avoiding ODDS. Neat that it happened to work out perfectly with that 14-letter AGAINST ALL ODDS! (A 14-letter revealer in a 15x15 is tough, since you end up having to put the revealer in row 12 instead of 13, thus squishing themers together.)

Strong themers (I wasn't familiar with EIGHT MEN OUT, but it was fun to learn that eight refers to the number of players involved in the Black Sox scandal), snappy long fill like SNOW TIRE and TURN SIGNAL, and not much crossword glue — just some IN SO, ENV, ADES minor bits — made for an enjoyable early-week puzzle. I even enjoyed PSYOP, an uncommon Monday piece of fill but very colorful and interesting.

The only hesitation I had was the SEGO / OSSA crossing. That might be a toughie for novice solvers. I think it's probably fair, but not ideal.

Three great extras — 1.) Woodsy OWL ("Give a hoot, don't pollute!" 2.) one of my favorite TEE shirt slogans ("I'm With Stupid") and 3.) DIAGON Alley of the Harry Potter world — helped win me even further over. I often find myself on John's wavelength, and today was no exception.

Really fun to see a kooky twist on what's often an unremarkable day of the week for the NYT puzzle.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1121 ( 24,485 )

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Across
1
Taste or touch : SENSE
6
What eyeglass lenses fit in : RIMS
10
Drug also known as angel dust : PCP
13
Ivy League sch. in Philly : UPENN
14
Furry creature in "Return of the Jedi" : EWOK
15
W. Hemisphere alliance : OAS
16
Driving condition in a blizzard : ZEROVISIBILITY
19
"Man, that smarts!" : YEOW
20
Lucy's partner : DESI
21
Not ___ many words : INSO
22
Approval from Siskel and Ebert : TWOTHUMBSUP
25
Loosen, as laces : UNTIE
28
Go 4-0 in the Series, e.g. : SWEEP
29
R&B group with the #1 hit "Reach Out I'll Be There" : FOURTOPS
33
Cockpit info: Abbr. : ALT
34
Fairy tale monster : OGRE
35
Steinbeck's "The Grapes of ___" : WRATH
37
Shirt that might say "I'm with stupid" : TEE
40
___ of a gun : SON
41
Plant life : FLORA
42
Mediterranean fruits : FIGS
43
___-pitch softball : SLO
45
Amusement park with the Nitro roller coaster : SIXFLAGS
47
Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" was rewritten to honor her : DIANA
49
Rodeo rope : LASSO
50
1988 film about the Black Sox scandal : EIGHTMENOUT
54
Tirade : RANT
55
___-friendly : USER
56
Western lily : SEGO
60
How an extreme underdog wins ... or this puzzle? : AGAINSTALLODDS
63
Note between fa and la : SOL
64
Fortuneteller : SEER
65
What light bulbs represent in cartoons : IDEAS
66
Naval officer: Abbr. : ENS
67
Summer drinks : ADES
68
Country music's Tucker : TANYA
Down
1
___ Q's (Hostess brand) : SUZY
2
Fencing blade : EPEE
3
Character in "I, Claudius" : NERO
4
Michelin winter product : SNOWTIRE
5
Letter holder: Abbr. : ENV
6
Bowling alley button : RESET
7
"If only!" : IWISH
8
___ strip (mathematical curiosity) : MOBIUS
9
Compete in the Nordic combined, say : SKI
10
Traditional Christmas plants : POINSETTIAS
11
Heinz product : CATSUP
12
"Hearts and minds" military maneuver, briefly : PSYOP
17
Words at the altar : IDO
18
Printed defamation : LIBEL
23
Rainy : WET
24
Air kiss sound : MWAH
25
Supernatural tabloid fodder : UFOS
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Canceled, as a launch : NOGO
27
Blinkers : TURNSIGNALS
30
Bird that says "Give a hoot! Don't pollute!" : OWL
31
Counterparts of amateurs : PROS
32
Bollywood dress : SARI
36
Word after income, sales or excise : TAX
38
Custard base : EGGS
39
Canadian gas brand : ESSO
41
Times New Roman, e.g. : FONT
42
Pop with no fizz : FLATSODA
44
Actress Christine of "Chicago Hope" : LAHTI
46
Focus of a yearly shot : FLU
47
___ Alley, shopping area for Harry Potter : DIAGON
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Made smile : AMUSED
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Wipe clean, as a blackboard : ERASE
51
Cosmetician Lauder : ESTEE
52
Approaches : NEARS
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N.B.A.'s Magic, on scoreboards : ORL
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The Bible's Garden of ___ : EDEN
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Aussie greeting : GDAY
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Greece's Mount ___ : OSSA
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Org. for which Edward Snowden once worked : NSA
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Ignited, as a match : LIT

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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