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New York Times, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
212/9/201711/6/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5373300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61031
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FKQ} Scrabble average: 2.11 This is puzzle # 21 for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
My original clue for XXXL shirt was 'Really, really, really big top.' R.I.P. If you're looking to get into crossword constructing, ... read more

My original clue for XXXL shirt was "Really, really, really big top." R.I.P.

If you're looking to get into crossword constructing, and especially if you identify as non-male and/or LGBTQ+ and/or POC, I'd be thrilled to offer whatever assistance I can to help you get your puzzles published. Contact me via Instagram (@rosstrudeau) or Twitter (@trudeauross).

Jeff Chen notes:
This one's rated XXX! Make that XXXXXXXXXXXXX. It's rare to add a puzzle to our record-setting Letter Counts, and Ross gets into a ... read more

This one's rated XXX! Make that XXXXXXXXXXXXX. It's rare to add a puzzle to our record-setting Letter Counts, and Ross gets into a three-way tie for most Xs.

I liked the audacity of this concept. Some of them feel contrived to make it into this puzzle – XXXL TSHIRT, I'm looking at you – but it's also BUBBA SPARXXX's big day. All that work he put into coming up with a creative name finally pays off!

At first, I thought it was BUBBA SPAR, 30th in a long line of BUBBA SPARs. BUBBA SPARXXX (rhymes with Karl MARXXX) is much better, although what a shame he's not a porn star.

It's no coincidence that the word "Horcrux" ends with an X. As with Lord Voldemort, every time a constructor inserts an X into his or her grid, it rips out a piece of one's soul, storing it within the puzzle. The XCI Horcrux … AVADA KEDAVRA!

Kidding aside, Ross did an amazing job of integrating those 13 (appropriate number!) Xs. XCI was the only egregious blip, and it's easily figure-out-able, anyway. I did debate on ARANTXA Sanchez Vicario crossing the probably-not-crossworthy BUBBA SPARXXX, but the theme made that cross abundantly clear.

Amazing job of construction given the ridiculously difficult constraints. To work in CS MAJOR, THE X PRIZE, ZAPPERS as well speaks to Ross's talent.

The puzzle didn't feel as smooth a solve as I would have liked, though, due to overdipping into one particular well of crossword glue: ELS ESS ZEE ZED. One or two spelled-out letters per puzzle, please! LEZZ is more.

The puzzle didn't eXXXcite me – to easy to fill in all those Xs – but points for going big.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1106 ( 25,565 )

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Across
1
Unspecified series ender : NTH
4
Unrefined barrelful : CRUDE
9
Spelunking spots : CAVES
14
Toilette water : EAU
15
Dynamited, maybe : RAZED
16
"___ we a pair?" : ARENT
17
Raciest classification : XXXRATING
19
One that "eats, shoots and leaves," in a classic joke : PANDA
20
Group overthrown by Zeus : TITANS
21
Marvel hero with multiple M.I.T. degrees : IRONMAN
23
"Star Wars" nickname : ANI
24
One of a ZZ Top duo? : ZEE
25
Preschoolers : TOTS
26
Hip-hop artist with the 2006 hit "Ms. New Booty" : BUBBASPARXXX
31
Members ___ : ONLY
32
AOL, for one, in brief : ISP
33
Vows : OATHS
37
Charles Kingsley's "___ to the North-East Wind" : ODE
38
Three-screen cinema ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 46- and 61-Across : TRIPLEX
41
Going viral, say : HOT
42
Puccini title heroine : TOSCA
44
Lo-o-ong stretch : EON
45
Austin ___ (Tennessee university) : PEAY
46
Contest in which the Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-17 : SUPERBOWLXXX
50
Shark attractant : CHUM
53
Loop trains : ELS
54
Genre for 26-Across : RAP
55
Danish cheese : HAVARTI
57
Brit's gasoline : PETROL
60
Capital of Nigeria : ABUJA
61
Article of clothing at the very end of the rack : XXXLSHIRT
64
Word before light or study : PILOT
65
Seal the deal : ICEIT
66
24-Across, in London : ZED
67
Rubberneck : STARE
68
Tilt-a-Whirl and bumper cars : RIDES
69
Start to succeed? : ESS
Down
1
Deli counter call : NEXT
2
Curbside call : TAXI
3
1980s-'90s sitcom family : HUXTABLES
4
Skulls : CRANIA
5
"Dang it!" : RATS
6
___ Gal (eponymous gun designer) : UZI
7
Fox's home : DEN
8
More out there, as humor : EDGIER
9
Mafia head : CAPO
10
___ Sánchez Vicario of the International Tennis Hall of Fame : ARANTXA
11
Mobile payment service owned by PayPal : VENMO
12
Conclude by : ENDAT
13
Set of seven Asian countries, informally : STANS
18
Explained quickly to get an O.K. : RANBY
22
Dinosaur in "Toy Story" : REX
24
Mosquito killers : ZAPPERS
26
Kick out : BOOT
27
Excel command : UNDO
28
Common base word : SIR
29
Chi follower : PSI
30
Affectionate sign-off : XOX
34
Award that encourages technological development to benefit humanity : THEXPRIZE
35
Elaborate deception : HOAX
36
River of Hades : STYX
38
Sigma follower : TAU
39
Softball toss : LOB
40
Brian of ambient music : ENO
43
Student with coding homework, for short : CSMAJOR
45
Sylvia who wrote "The Bell Jar" : PLATH
47
Something a zoo animal isn't : PET
48
Magic potion : ELIXIR
49
Seizes by force : WRESTS
50
Togs for a cowboy : CHAPS
51
Good thing to break, maybe : HABIT
52
Throat dangler : UVULA
56
Assign stars to, say : RATE
57
Movement that's French for "bent" : PLIE
58
Unrefined cartfuls : ORES
59
Bygone Fords : LTDS
62
Nero's 91 : XCI
63
Struck (out) : XED

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle.

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