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MIXOLOGY

New York Times, Sunday, November 27, 2016

Author:
Matt Ginsberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
471/17/200811/1/20187
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1603015463
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57330
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 44 for Mr. Ginsberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matt Ginsberg notes:
MATT: This puzzle has been a long time in the making, going through a variety of revisions since I first submitted it (and Will rejected it) in February. He seemed to think it had promise, ... read more

MATT: This puzzle has been a long time in the making, going through a variety of revisions since I first submitted it (and Will rejected it) in February. He seemed to think it had promise, but didn't like my selection of theme entries. So I found a new set of theme entries and, before rebuilding the whole puzzle, asked if they were better. They were.

So I built a couple of very different versions of the puzzle and didn't clue them, instead asking Will which he preferred. As I clued the one he preferred, I discovered that while the fill was reasonably clean, it had so many Spanish entries that it might as well be a Spanish puzzle! So even though Will had accepted it, I changed it around quite a bit (there is still quite a bit of Spanish in it, I fear), and Will took the modified version.

There are a lot of ways that we could have dealt with the mixed up entries. Will chose what I suspect is the most benign, cluing PLEA BARGAINS = LAG + PEABRAINS as [Some compromises = Delay + dodos]. The nastiest mechanism (which I preferred, of course), would clue it simply as [Drop knuckleheads behind] where the clues for LAG [Drop behind] and PEABRAINS [knuckleheads] are interleaved, just like the answer is. You can uninterleave them by realizing that one clue is italicized and the other is not. (I guess it would have been even nastier to not even have the varying font, but that struck me as *too* nasty.)

My favorite clues that didn't make the grade: [Unsur] for NORTE and [Shortest sentence in English although, on sad occasion, also the longest] for IDO, [Grass opposite] for TURF, and especially [Like Doyle Lonnegon] for STUNG.

On the Dr. Fill side, bottom line is that it found the puzzle very easy, since all the words were in its dictionary. But it made a mistake! At 57-D, GOTAB has seen a reasonable number of appearances in high-quality puzzles, but GETAB has only appeared in less popular places. (You can check this out via my free clue database). So even though DEER is significantly better then DEOR at 62-A, it's so freaked out by the fact that no one "famous" has used GETAB that it decides to stick an O in the intersection square instead of an E. As always, it has no real idea what's going on and doesn't realize (for example) that GETAB and GOTAB are the same except for tense.

I hope everyone enjoyed the puzzle!

DR. FILL: I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal.

Jeff Chen notes:
MIXOLOGY indeed, two common words interspersed to create snappy phrases. My favorite was GONZO + RUDER = GROUND ZERO, as GONZO is such a fun word to say, and GROUND ZERO is a vivid entry. ... read more

MIXOLOGY indeed, two common words interspersed to create snappy phrases. My favorite was GONZO + RUDER = GROUND ZERO, as GONZO is such a fun word to say, and GROUND ZERO is a vivid entry. BIDE + ODDLY = BO DIDDLEY was another fun example.

I'm not usually a fan of circles quasi-randomly strewn through a long entry, as that usually seems haphazard and inelegant. But this worked okay for me since the resulting phrases were all pretty darn good. I would have liked the two words to stand out better — it's awfully difficult to see GONZO and RUDER unless you're really squinting and toiling and grunting — but it's still a fun discovery.

I enjoyed some of the long fill Matt worked in, too. SEXTANTS and EMBLAZON were particularly nice. Good bonuses.

I wasn't as much a fan of the BIAS TIRE, SALT II, DONE IT ALL, PLAIN FACT sorts of entries. The first two are legit but are more neutral than positive for me, and the latter two seem slightly off to my ear — SEEN IT ALL and THAT'S A FACT or COLD HARD TRUTH seem much more spot-on to me.

And then there's AGNATES and SNAILED … hmm.

I also wasn't a fan of the plethora of gluey short entries required to hold the puzzle together. I don't mind a little A SEC or NEHI here or there, but it did feel like I encountered a lot of gluey bits during my solve — AEREO, NORTE, ISIN, OSA, SERE, etc. Sunday 140-word puzzles are so, so, so tough to make smooth.

Nice theme idea. It would have been great to have some way to make the individual words stand out more, but overall, enough interesting finds to keep my attention.

1
C
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A
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F
4
E
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S
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C
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A
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D
9
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A
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M
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P
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B
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I
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F
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F
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O
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O
T
O
E
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N
O
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E
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D
O
L
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B
E
A
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B
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R
Y
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G
R
O
U
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D
Z
E
R
O
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C
L
E
R
A
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N
E
H
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I
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R
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N
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O
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A
C
E
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M
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T
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W
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M
G
O
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G
L
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O
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F
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F
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M
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U
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P
L
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B
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G
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E
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M
B
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Z
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O
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N
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T
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T
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A
C
O
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E
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O
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P
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G
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E
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K
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O
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B
O
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Y
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D
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E
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R
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A
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E
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A
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R
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T
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73
S
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S
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D
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D
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S
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A
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E
A
T
O
N
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S
A
K
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E
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D
R
E
A
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M
B
O
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T
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W
A
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H
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O
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N
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A
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A
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P
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A
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C
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O
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B
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L
E
D
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D
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H
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O
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U
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N
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E
G
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M
A
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T
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U
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F
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E
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A
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M
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E
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S
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P
A
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O
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P
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N
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D
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O
M
A
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E
A
M
E
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O
N
C
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127
E
R
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128
T
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G
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N
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1127 ( 24,491 )
Across
1. They often have small tables : CAFES
6. Base men? : CADS
10. Jazzes (up) : AMPS
14. "Back to the Future" antagonist : BIFF
18. Stars-and-stripes land, informally : USOFA
19. Some Great Plains residents : OTOE
20. Possible destination for un inmigrante, with "el" : NORTE
22. Hero : IDOL
23. Infant + straying = noted coach : BEARBRYANT
25. Less polite + wildly unconventional = epicenter : GROUNDZERO
27. Eye part : SCLERA
28. New pop of 1924 : NEHI
30. Approached apace : RANTO
31. Pro : ACE
32. In Tahitian it means "good" : MAITAI
34. Urban woe + squirms = pool accessory : SWIMGOGGLES
37. Untuned, say : OFF
40. Halters? : SENTRIES
42. Big Ten sch. : MSU
43. Delay + dodos = some compromises : PLEABARGAINS
46. Adorn brilliantly : EMBLAZON
51. Birthday girl's wear : TIARA
52. Pandora release : ILLS
53. Del ___ (fast-food chain) : TACO
55. Poetic Muse : ERATO
56. Spa, e.g. : SPRING
58. Nevada gold-mining town : ELKO
60. Remain + "Hmm ..." = R&B great : BODIDDLEY
62. ___ season : DEER
64. Moved at a crawl : SNAILED
66. Saharan : SERE
67. Letter at the end of three other letters : ETA
70. Bill producers + Western wear = info for events : STARTINGTIMES
74. Lisa, to Bart : SIS
75. Big name in root beer : DADS
77. Overindulged : ATEATON
78. Sushi go-with : SAKE
80. Show, informally + African capital = Adonis : DREAMBOAT
82. Social worker? : WASP
85. Suck it up? : SIPHON
89. Someone never seen in "Peanuts" : ADULT
90. ___ Minor : URSA
92. Yarn : TALE
94. Feudal lord : LIEGE
95. Mariners' aids : SEXTANTS
97. Pasty + vacation expense, maybe = hospital specialty : PRENATALCARE
100. Court affirmation : IDO
101. Radial alternative : BIASTIRE
102. Was ahead : LED
103. See + umbrella alternative = warming option : RADIANTHEAT
108. Minimal diamond margin : ONERUN
111. Lead-in to maniac : EGO
112. Santa ___ : MARIA
113. Area to defend : TURF
115. "My Cup Runneth Over" crooner : EDAMES
119. Regarding + undercoat = network with 303 stations : PARISMETRO
122. Day of the month + succeed = some recital pieces : PIANODUETS
124. Epps of "House" : OMAR
125. Kind of chair : EAMES
126. In years past : ONCE
127. Vertical : ERECT
128. Makes it? : TAGS
129. Prefix with byte : TERA
130. The time of Nick? : NITE
131. ___ Chris Steak House : RUTHS
Down
1. "Jinx" breakers of 2016 : CUBS
2. "Hold on ___!" : ASEC
3. Stable arrival : FOAL
4. Violinist Zimbalist : EFREM
5. Negev native : SABRA
6. Evasive : COY
7. Crooked : ATANANGLE
8. Accomplished everything : DONEITALL
9. Green of "The Italian Job" : SETH
10. Director Lee : ANG
11. Cat that epitomizes finickiness : MORRIS
12. Many a charity tournament : PROAM
13. Deeply offended : STUNG
14. Hollywood, with "the" : BIZ
15. Unimprovable : IDEAL
16. The "F" in F = ma : FORCE
17. Results of icy breakups? : FLOES
21. Finally put an end to? : ENTOMB
24. Mrs. Gorbachev : RAISA
26. Follower of an Alaskan team : DOGSLED
29. "The doctor ___" : ISIN
33. Actress Hatcher : TERI
35. Last part of the country to report election results : WEST
36. Keeps safe : GUARDS
37. Pulls (out of) : OPTS
38. Resell quickly : FLIP
39. "___ not!" : FEAR
41. Takes a chance : RISKSIT
44. Saharan : ARID
45. Curses : BANES
46. Recall cause, maybe : ECOLI
47. Computer hookups : MODEMS
48. Chain that sells chains : ZALES
49. Cheri formerly of "S.N.L." : OTERI
50. "The Highwayman" poet : NOYES
54. Some : ABIT
57. Do pretty well gradewise : GETAB
59. Currently airing : ONNOW
61. What germs may turn into : IDEAS
63. Squeal on : RATOUT
65. Relatives on the father's side : AGNATES
67. Classic Icelandic literary works : EDDAS
68. Time for una siesta : TARDE
69. For two : ADEUX
71. Cabooses : REARS
72. Some needlework, informally? : TATS
73. Art : SKILL
76. Carter/Brezhnev agreement : SALTII
79. Absolutely awesome : EPIC
81. After Rainier, highest peak in the Pacific Northwest : MTADAMS
83. Island whose volcanic eruption is rumored to have destroyed Atlantis : SANTORINI
84. Simple truth : PLAINFACT
86. Mend : HEAL
87. Nasty sort : OGRE
88. Attention, for some : NEED
91. Capital where Robert Louis Stevenson died : APIA
93. Verb from which "suis" and "sommes" are conjugated : ETRE
96. Anonymous : NONAME
98. Heavy metal band with 1980s hits : RATT
99. Correo ___ (foreign mail stamp) : AEREO
101. Carrier : BEARER
103. Move, as a plant : REPOT
104. Old World lizard : AGAMA
105. Hulk Hogan trademark : DORAG
106. October option : TREAT
107. Counterpart of "stand" : HITME
109. Milk container : UDDER
110. Remote land in the Pacific : NAURU
114. Familiar with : UPON
116. Rendezvous : MEET
117. Impress deeply : ETCH
118. Bygone boomers, for short : SSTS
120. Org. authorized by the 16th Amendment : IRS
121. Spanish she-bear : OSA
123. Maiden name preceder : NEE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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