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New York Times, Saturday, November 28, 2015

Author:
Ned White
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
231/16/20104/6/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1105259
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58010
Ned White

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 29 Missing: {J} Grid has super symmetry. This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. White. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ned White notes:
I was drawn to a supersymmetric grid largely because it's fun to look at. But I also knew I'd be dealing with 36 7-letter words and 12 ... read more

I was drawn to a supersymmetric grid largely because it's fun to look at. But I also knew I'd be dealing with 36 7-letter words and 12 5's — pretty cramped space for snippets of conversation and snappy phrasings. And so there are none! Still, it was a keen exercise in mining for energy in a highly restrictive environment.

13 D AGOUTIS... years ago, on a nature trip to Belize, our group adopted a wild agouti, named him "Rudy," fed him, and smuggled him home inside the leader's shirt in coach class. Great pet, very affectionate animal.

20-Across, ON POINT, is actually one of my favorites, and I sought to clue it cowboy-style (being a fan of Lonesome Dove), as the lead flank position for cowboys on a cattle drive. I'm also glad to get 55 -Down GARO Yepremian in here — I remember him as a kicker playing with no helmet (!) and also, at one point, famously trying to throw the ball for a touchdown, with no success.

Lastly, 44-Down ANYMORE is an absolute monster to clue. "These days" is as fair and accurate a synonym as you'll ever see. Special thanks to Will and Joel for terrific cluing throughout the puzzle, especially for 50-Down (CHIDE, cross-referenced to TUT), which never would've occurred to me.

Jeff Chen notes:
I'm gaining an appreciation for themelesses featuring 7-letter entries. I usually want long answers (8+ letters) in a themeless, since ... read more

I'm gaining an appreciation for themelesses featuring 7-letter entries. I usually want long answers (8+ letters) in a themeless, since with 7s it's more common to see neutral answers like AGOUTIS and REDUCED than colorful ones like NBA LOGO and PIEHOLE. But something this puzzle has going for it is a level of difficulty I haven't seen in a while. Puzzles featuring long entries tend to be easier to break into, since once you uncover a long answer, it gives you a bunch of toeholds.

The SAZERAC

Today's was an absolute bear for me. Even though the puzzle has a nice open flow to it, I kept on getting stuck. Those 7-letter words can be so opaque. [Turns in] could have easily been RETIRES or a few other things, and SCHLITZ took forever to uncover, with just the T in place. Good to get a dose of humility with my Did Not Finish today, a reminder that I still have work to do if I want to be able to solve all Saturday puzzles. I don't mind being defeated, if a puzzle does so fairly.

I appreciated Ned's ability to work in quite a bit of nice stuff, something I'm not used to in themelesses heavy on 7s. EYE OF RA, VOTER ID, SAZERAC, CHIN WAG are all assets in my book. There weren't as many of them as I would have liked, the puzzle also containing its fair share of neutral SEE NOTE, AERATOR, CALLS UP, AGES AGO, SATIRIC (satirical, yeah?) kind of stuff, but it was free enough from gluey bits that I didn't mind that much. UNI and ROTO along with some OHS and an ESS = minor stuff.

Ah. There was HIE. Any time you need "quaintly" to define a word, it's probably best to be avoided. (It's an old way of saying "hasten.")

I have a feeling some will complain about GARO Yepremian — his career was mostly in the 60s and 70s — but he was an incredible kicker who has two Super Bowl titles. I think the fair crossings make him a reasonable short grid entry.

Very tough crossword which made me appreciate how much 7-letter entries can bring to the table.

1
S
2
C
3
H
4
L
5
I
6
T
7
Z
8
S
9
A
10
Z
11
E
12
R
13
A
14
C
15
E
Y
E
O
F
R
A
16
A
G
E
S
A
G
O
17
C
A
L
L
S
U
P
18
T
O
S
S
P
O
T
19
U
N
I
20
O
N
P
21
O
I
N
T
22
T
U
T
23
L
I
P
24
S
25
K
E
R
R
Y
26
R
O
T
O
27
A
D
A
M
28
S
29
R
B
I
30
T
U
R
I
N
31
R
E
D
E
E
32
M
S
33
C
34
H
R
I
S
S
Y
35
L
G
A
36
I
A
N
37
S
38
P
39
A
T
U
L
40
A
41
K
E
N
O
42
S
43
H
44
A
45
A
I
M
E
E
46
V
47
I
N
48
Q
U
E
E
N
49
M
E
I
R
50
C
O
B
O
51
L
52
S
E
X
Y
53
O
H
S
54
C
H
I
N
W
A
55
G
56
N
A
M
57
V
O
T
58
E
R
I
D
59
N
B
A
60
L
O
G
O
61
A
L
A
M
O
D
E
62
A
E
R
A
T
O
R
63
R
E
D
U
C
E
D
64
S
L
O
V
E
N
E
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1128 ( 24,126 )
Across
1
Brand with the old slogan "Just the kiss of the hops" : SCHLITZ
8
Official cocktail of New Orleans : SAZERAC
15
Unblinking gazer in Egyptian mythology : EYEOFRA
16
Way in the past : AGESAGO
17
Evokes : CALLSUP
18
Juicer : TOSSPOT
19
Verse starter? : UNI
20
Germane : ONPOINT
22
Bit of a rebuke : TUT
23
Bussing requirement : LIPS
25
Clinton's successor : KERRY
26
Spinning: Prefix : ROTO
27
Agent 86 player : ADAMS
29
One of Aaron's 86 in '68 : RBI
30
Where Alfa Romeo is based : TURIN
31
Turns in : REDEEMS
33
One of the three on "Three's Company" : CHRISSY
35
Delta hub, briefly : LGA
36
John, abroad : IAN
37
Flipper? : SPATULA
41
Fourth-largest city on Lake Michigan : KENOSHA
45
Name that means "loved" : AIMEE
46
Porto, par exemple : VIN
48
Powerful board member : QUEEN
49
Feldshuh's role in "O Jerusalem" : MEIR
50
Language created in 1959 : COBOL
52
10-ish? : SEXY
53
Brand with a Honey Graham variety : OHS
54
Yak : CHINWAG
56
Where 25-Across served in the late '60s : NAM
57
Request from a poll worker : VOTERID
59
It features the silhouette of hoops legend Jerry West : NBALOGO
61
In style : ALAMODE
62
Faucet accessory : AERATOR
63
Like some sentences and fat : REDUCED
64
Neighbor of an Italian : SLOVENE
Down
1
Like Labor Day, but not Christmas : SECULAR
2
Compound in apricot pits : CYANIDE
3
Special touchdown point? : HELIPAD
4
Palindromic bit of textspeak : LOL
5
Hypothetical phrase : IFSO
6
Jack holder : TRUNK
7
Debuggers? : ZAPPERS
8
Like many segments on "The Daily Show" : SATIRIC
9
Hell : AGONY
10
Marmalade ingredient : ZEST
11
Part of a skier's run : ESS
12
Hawks, e.g. : RAPTORS
13
Cousins of capybaras : AGOUTIS
14
Soft and delicate : COTTONY
21
Bit of regalia : ORB
24
Ironman? : SMELTER
26
Devastating : RUINOUS
28
"Anyhoo," e.g. : SEGUE
30
Downer, for short : TRANQ
32
Not bien : MAL
34
Tear, quaintly : HIE
37
Tea server : SAMOVAR
38
Big fat mouth : PIEHOLE
39
Vessel whose name meant "friendship," ironically : AMISTAD
40
Like pariahs : AVOIDED
41
Called : KNOWNAS
42
Often-bracketed direction : SEENOTE
43
Cross-section of a pencil : HEXAGON
44
These days : ANYMORE
47
Arabic name part : IBN
50
22-Across-22-Across, say : CHIDE
51
Clotheshorse's concern : LABEL
54
Large snapper : CROC
55
1960s-'80s placekicker Yepremian, who helped the Dolphins win consecutive Super Bowls : GARO
58
Source of jumbo eggs : EMU
60
John : LAV

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?