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New York Times, Saturday, November 30, 2019

Author:
Joe Deeney
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
610/9/201711/30/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0210003
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58000
Joe Deeney

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 66, Blocks: 32 Missing: {QV} Grid has both 90- and 180-degree symmetry. Minimum word length: 4 This is puzzle # 6 for Mr. Deeney. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joe Deeney notes:
I suppose one could say that this grid is in the same 'grid family' as my New York Times puzzle published June 22, 2019, though ... read more

I suppose one could say that this grid is in the same "grid family" as my New York Times puzzle published June 22, 2019, though shifting some black squares has left this grid devoid of any three-letter answers. I seeded this with MJOLNIR, which is a fun collection of letters that has pop culture relevance because of the Marvel movies, and built the corners from there in a clockwise direction.

I can't take credit for the fantastic clues for 1-Across, 19-Across, or 52-Across, though I liked my clue for that last one well enough, [Rules with force of will?]

Jeff Chen notes:
Joe beat me to the punch with his comment about his previous wide-open themeless! I had the same reservations going in for this one as ... read more

Joe beat me to the punch with his comment about his previous wide-open themeless! I had the same reservations going in for this one as for the previous one: more often than not, quad-stacks will contain some neutral entries or even liabilities. But wow, was I impressed by the SE corner: ESTATE LAW, A LOT ALIKE, DATA MINER, BOXSTER = 4 out of 4! Rare occurrence for a corner this big to be this fantastic. It deserves a round of applause.

The opposite corner (NW) was more what I was expecting. TEAR APART ain't gonna win any awards, and ZEROES OUT would be fine or even an asset, if it weren't crossing LEAP OUT. I don't mind duplication of short words, but it's inelegant when they cross.

I'd rank the SW somewhere in between those two corners. Three strong entries – ADAMS RIB / PEAR JUICE / HOW GOES IT – along with MJOLNIR! Lovely. PHAT was a ding (outdated term), and AEON isn't great either since it's hard to clue in any other way but "___ Flux." (AEON is more commonly "eon.")

Similar assessment of the NE. AFTERCARE / BORN TO RUN / ALONE TIME / TD PASSES; those are all solid to sparkly! ARIE, BENE, not so bene.

Being able to talk about each corner separately implies that there wasn't enough interconnectivity, but the choked feeling of the middle didn't bother me as much as I expected. Plenty of ways in and out of each corner, even if every connection was tunnel-like.

Overall, a super-solid 66-worder. It's a feat that's hard enough to accomplish without additional points of difficulty, and it becomes an extreme challenge when you throw in quad-stacks. It definitely attracted some POW! consideration, winning points on technical excellence for its degree of difficulty.

1
A
2
R
3
T
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C
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L
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A
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S
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S
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D
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A
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B
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A
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Z
E
R
O
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S
O
U
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T
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I
F
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D
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E
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P
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H
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C
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J
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M
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B
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B
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B
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1130 ( 25,589 )

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Across
1
Where one might be graded on a curve? : ARTCLASS
9
Use a tissue on : DABAT
14
Eliminates : ZEROESOUT
16
"That's it for me" : IFOLD
17
Really let have : TEARAPART
18
Leather band for sharpening : STROP
19
It gets pushed in a corner : ESCAPEKEY
20
Source of red ink : HENNA
21
Island once called Serendip, source of the word "serendipity" : CEYLON
22
Speaker of the line "Hamlet, thou art slain" : LAERTES
24
FAQ checker : USER
27
Duds for dandies : ASCOTS
28
Dope : PHAT
31
Darling : DEAR
33
___ Luyendyk Jr., TV bachelor of 2018 : ARIE
34
"___ Flux" (2005 film) : AEON
35
Clog : JAMUP
36
Some Cuban exports : RUMS
37
Common duel setting : DAWN
38
One title of the prophet Muhammad : EMIR
39
Positive response to "Come va?" : BENE
40
Spoke in court : ARGUED
42
"Abyssinia" : TATA
44
Thor's hammer : MJOLNIR
46
Get ready for court, maybe : ENROBE
51
Sarcastic "Sorry!" : SUEME
52
Subject of passing interest? : ESTATELAW
55
Part of a staircase : RISER
56
Quite similar : ALOTALIKE
57
Cause of a delay in a plane's takeoff : ICING
58
One who might find a pattern in the noise : DATAMINER
59
Brown ___ : BETTY
60
Porsche two-seaters : BOXSTERS
Down
1
San Diego State athlete : AZTEC
2
Eponymous candy man : REESE
3
Funny Morgan : TRACY
4
Pink shade : CORAL
5
Be immediately obvious : LEAPOUT
6
Trees that "at the cross-roads talk together," in an Edward Thomas poem : ASPENS
7
Do a prewashing job : SOAK
8
"Okey-doke" : SURE
9
Gossips : DISHES
10
Postoperative treatment : AFTERCARE
11
1975 hit with a classic saxophone solo : BORNTORUN
12
Hermits get a lot of it : ALONETIME
13
Some QB successes : TDPASSES
15
"Until next time," in a text : TTYL
23
Grp. that offers driver safety courses : AARP
25
Alternative to Leyden or Boerenkaas : EDAM
26
Compensate for something? : REMIT
28
Apple cider alternative : PEARJUICE
29
"Everything good with you?" : HOWGOESIT
30
"I do" undoer : ANNULMENT
32
Mood : AURA
34
Biblical starting material : ADAMSRIB
35
Forceful one? : JEDI
39
Little chickens : BANTAMS
41
___ drink : ENERGY
43
Noted parliamentary measure of 1773 : TEATAX
45
Went over : READ
47
On again : RELIT
48
R.B.'s blockers : OLINE
49
Renowned London street in literature : BAKER
50
Some still-life fixtures : EWERS
53
Tabletop, perhaps : SLAB
54
Altogether, after "in" : TOTO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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