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ZAP!

New York Times, Sunday, November 30, 2014

Author: Matt Ginsberg
Editor: Will Shortz
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471/17/20082/11/20187
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1603014464
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1.57230
Matt Ginsberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 41 for Mr. Ginsberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matt Ginsberg notes: My last puzzle in the Times came with a very brief interval between submission and publication of 74 days. This one was nearer the other end of the spectrum, with the interval being 833 days, a bit over two ... more
Matt Ginsberg notes: My last puzzle in the Times came with a very brief interval between submission and publication of 74 days. This one was nearer the other end of the spectrum, with the interval being 833 days, a bit over two years. (Still, not really so bad!) I'm not sure if it's related, but many more of the clues were changed on this one than on most of my efforts. Some of the clues I included but which never made it into print: [Deserted?] for SERE, [Crime recommended by the Doors in 1967?] for ARSON, [Gabriel Macht and Patrick Adams, as seen on TV] for SUITS, [Pigpen-esque] for MESSY, and [They're in knots] for TOADS. I used Maximum Decimus Meridius instead of Spartacus in 101-A (SLAVE), because I'm a Gladiator fan, and included the bit of trivia [Teddy Roosevelt's was the smallest when he assumed office] for AGE. I used [Burning it doesn't change the name] for ASH and had [Gathers, as Timothy] for HAYS because my wife is an equestrian. Will also saved me by removing a bunch of clunkers.

Cluing is interesting. I've remarked elsewhere that Dr.Fill does better on the NY Times puzzles than it does on those in the ACPT, and I suspect that the cluing is a lot of the reason. Dr.Fill is pretty well dialed in on the cluing style in the Times, but Will edits the ACPT clues much more lightly, and that's why I suspect it has trouble. Speaking of which, you can find a video of Dr.Fill solving today's puzzle below:

This was an interesting one. DF does terribly on its initial pass, but then checks to see if this is a rebus puzzle and concludes that it is (right!) with the rebus AD (also right!). It resolves the puzzle, and does much better. The only mistake is that it thinks that TEENY is better than WEENY for [Itsy-bitsy] and can't figure out what's going on with the existing clue for 103-D. My clue for WEENY was [Diminutive], about the same as Will's; my clue for WINE was [Red or white, but not blue]. DF would probably have liked that clue much better (it knows all about red and white wines), so I'll view this as another of Will's unending and gleeful efforts to cause Dr.Fill fits.

Jeff Chen notes: A Tale of Two Puzzles today. Interesting twist to a rebus theme, ADs getting zapped in the across direction to form wacky phrases. And it was fun to search for those little AD squares, each one a miniature ... more
Jeff Chen notes: A Tale of Two Puzzles today. Interesting twist to a rebus theme, ADs getting zapped in the across direction to form wacky phrases. And it was fun to search for those little AD squares, each one a miniature a-ha moment when I uncovered it.

I'm not totally sure I got it, though. Why was the AD zapped in one direction only? And am I using that "ad zapping" term correctly? I did a search for "ad zapping" and got quite a mixture of results. It also felt awkward to have an extra AD that wasn't zapped in the across direction … at 1-Across, right at the very front. I wondered for the longest time if that was supposed to be a hint to the entire puzzle somehow.

Strong choices for themers, both getting snappy base phrases like FIVE O CLOCK SHADOW (something we rarely see because at 16 letters, it doesn't fit into most weekday grids) as well as resulting answers. BRO MINDED gave me a chuckle, exactly the way a kooky-themed puzzle should kick off.

But other longish fill includes ARISTOS, BARDED, EDESSA. Perhaps a case can be made for EDESSA, I suppose, as it has historical significance. I'm curious who uses the words ARISTOS and BARDED. Bueller?

Some brilliant clues to make the short fill really stand out. I kept a running list because there were so many ones that brought a smile to my face. I think it's worth going back through these entries to appreciate how fun their clues were: FIN, PINS, PAROLE, IDOL, COCAS, RNA, MEAL. And the clue for TASS might confuse some, but once you realize it's referring to ITAR-TASS, the old Russian news agency, it sings. I'm usually satisfied if I get three or four of these playful clues in an entire Sunday puzzle, so to get eight blows me away. Very well done.

Yet other short answers were tough, of the type that potentially turns non-addicts away from crosswords. SERE is ranked so low on my word list that I only can access it when I'm in truly desperate measures. OSO is near that level, as is the extended BRRR. It's funny how strongly just a couple of those types of entries can affect a person's experience (subjective, of course). Will recently mentioned SLA and SDI are entries he's very strongly discouraging as near "puzzle-killers," and I feel like there are a few more that could be added to that list.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience, a hunting expedition for those AD squares lurking in the grid (in the down direction, at least), and making the leap that the ADs had to be zapped in the across. As with most Sunday puzzles, some compromises in the eternal quest to bring out the best of times. Dickensian, indeed. (Although Will says he's not purposefully trying to fool Dr. Fill at the ACPT, I love the image Matt paints of Will twirling his Snidely Whiplash mustache as he plots a la Uriah Heep.)

JimH notes: NYT puzzles often reference Apple products so it's nice to see two Microsoft Office clues today — 76A and 99A.
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1130 ( 23,763 )
Across Down
1. Interjects : ADDS
5. Pass off : FOIST
10. Pianist Schumann, early champion of Brahms : CLARA
15. Certain servers : IBMS
19. Focused on one's fellow fraternity members? : BROMINDED
21. Egyptian war god : HORUS
22. Fast break? : MEAL
23. Workers in booths : ANNOUNCERS
24. Dublin dance? : IRISHBALL
26. Pooh's baby friend : ROO
27. King Abdullah, e.g. : SAUDI
28. Like a desert climate : HARSH
29. Like circus tumblers : AGILE
30. What may come with a trophy : TITLE
32. "Shut up!" : CANIT
33. Like the Head Start program, for short : PREK
34. African flier : TSETSE
36. What Clark Kent needs to become Superman? : CHANGEOFDRESS
41. Response to a gotcha : WINCE
42. One-named chanteuse : CHARO
43. Dry : SERE
44. Julius Wilbrand invention of 1863, for short : TNT
45. Somewhat bashful? : ONTHESHYSIDE
49. Article of papal attire : REDSHOE
51. ___ spot : AGE
52. Red alert source? : TASS
53. Uncommon cry after a lottery drawing : IWIN
55. Oscar winner who was formerly a regular on TV's "Laugh-In" : HAWN
56. Fine wool sources : MERINOS
59. Firing offense? : ARSON
61. Polish capital : ZLOTYS
63. Local afternoon newscast? : FIVEOCLOCKSHOW
67. Sentence ender, maybe : PAROLE
70. Execs : SUITS
71. Eggs-to-be : OOCYTES
75. Subject of a Fox hunt : IDOL
76. Excel function : SORT
77. "I'm f-f-freezing!" : BRRR
79. ___-Locka, Fla. : OPA
80. Show, as cards in gin rummy : LAYDOWN
83. Business offering the right to buy and sell securities? : OPTIONAGENCY
88. Carrier to Tokyo : ANA
89. End of an era? : ZOIC
91. III : IOTAS
92. Textile patented in 1894 : RAYON
93. How to find what a creep is looking at? : FOLLOWTHELEER
97. Become fond of : WARMTO
98. Ones bowled over? : PINS
99. What Microsoft Word's Track Changes shows : EDITS
100. Flowering tropical plant : CANNA
101. Spartacus, at one time : SLAVE
103. Itsy-bitsy : WEENY
104. Northern passage : FJORD
106. Chain letters? : RNA
109. Says "I didn't do it!" before fessing up? : LIESFIRST
111. Clarifies : ELUCIDATES
113. Fibula : leg :: ___ : arm : ULNA
114. Taken : INUSE
115. Cigarettes or booze? : LEGALVICE
116. Conclude in court : REST
117. Where Indiana Jones reunites with Marion : NEPAL
118. Overly involved : MESSY
119. Paul who composed the "Tonight Show" theme : ANKA
1. "This guy walks into ___ ..." : ABAR
2. Fictional villain whose given name is Julius : DRNO
3. "Wrong way" : DONOTENTER
4. Prefix with masochistic : SADO
5. One may be grand : FINALE
6. Perfectly timed : ONCUE
7. Fingered : IDED
8. Golfer ___ Pak : SERI
9. Some OT enders : TDS
10. Mao adversary : CHIANG
11. Country singer Morgan : LORRIE
12. Blue bloods, informally : ARISTOS
13. "A.S.A.P.!" : RUSH
14. Bit of air pollution : ASH
15. Digicam component : IMAGER
16. "Well, fine" : BELIKETHAT
17. Washington attraction : MALL
18. English glam-rock band with six #1 hits : SLADE
20. Essential, in a way : MUSTSEE
25. Armored, as a horse : BARDED
28. Asian capital known as the City of Lakes : HANOI
31. Astronaut's woe, perhaps : ITCH
32. Sleeper and others : CARS
33. Father : PADRE
34. When D.S.T. starts or ends : TWOAM
35. Burn a little : SINGE
36. Refuse at the polling station : CHADS
37. Old Hollywood's ___ Code : HAYS
38. Leaves in a waiting room? : FERN
39. Flaky? : SNOWY
40. British guns : STENS
42. Climax of many an action film : CHASE
46. Hot pot spot : STOVE
47. Pieces in the game Othello : DISCS
48. Certain Endorian : EWOK
50. Flamboyant : SHOWY
54. Connections : INS
57. Poker resignation : IFOLD
58. Bubkes : NIL
59. O'Connor successor : ALITO
60. Bilge : ROT
61. "Butterfly" actress, 1982 : ZADORA
62. ___ cit. (footnote abbr.) : LOC
64. Mexican bear : OSO
65. Band-Aid competitor : CURAD
66. Orchestra section : HORNS
67. Rice ___ : PILAF
68. Hersey novel locale : ADANO
69. Major annoyances : ROYALPAINS
72. Singer whose "I Get Ideas" was on the charts for 30 weeks : TONYMARTIN
73. Its icon is Spaceship Earth : EPCOT
74. Decline : SAYNO
76. Pique activity? : SNIT
77. Quick snack : BITE
78. Sound of approval : ROAR
81. Some oxygen molecules : OZONES
82. Bowls over : WOWS
84. High fidelity? : PIETY
85. Ugly ones : TOADS
86. Pop's pop : GRANDDAD
87. Make : EARN
90. "Things aren't so bad" : CHEERUP
94. Occupy : LIVEAT
95. Ancient Macedonian capital : EDESSA
96. Stonehenge feature : LINTEL
97. With caution : WARILY
100. Chewed stimulants : COCAS
101. Potential libel : SLUR
102. Scoop (out) : LADLE
103. With 105-Down, some amphorae : WINE
104. Scoot : FLEE
105. See 103-Down : JUGS
107. Head turner : NECK
108. Between ports : ASEA
110. Cod piece : FIN
111. West ___ (upscale furniture store) : ELM
112. Actress Gardner : AVA

Answer summary: 15 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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