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MIXOLOGY

New York Times, Sunday, November 27, 2016

Author:
Matt Ginsberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
501/17/200810/24/20197
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1703016464
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57330
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 45 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
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B
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G
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D
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O
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P
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B
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Z
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O
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G
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O
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D
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M
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W
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A
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B
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L
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D
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H
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M
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O
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N
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O
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N
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R
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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: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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