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New York Times, Friday, November 9, 2018

Author:
Robyn Weintraub
Editor:
Will Shortz
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183/28/201111/9/20180
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02320101
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1.58000
Robyn Weintraub

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 32 Missing: {BJQVXZ} This is puzzle # 18 for Ms. Weintraub. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robyn Weintraub notes:
Recently I was asked about using seed entries in my themeless puzzles. I replied that I don't do seed entries — instead, I focus ... read more

Recently I was asked about using seed entries in my themeless puzzles. I replied that I don't do seed entries — instead, I focus on crafting the best stacks and go wherever my word list takes me. It never works well for me to fall in love with an entry and force the rest of the grid around it. I've gotten pretty inured to "killing my darlings"; good entries resurface when the time is right. I've tried to include both WHO GOES THERE and GLASS CEILING in previous grids, but they never survived to the final cut. Today those two great entries finally get their debut.

Jeff Chen notes:
At my favorite cookie place, Hello Robin, their bags have the tagline 'You had me at Hello (Robin).' Hello, Robyn, you had me at CLOWN ... read more

At my favorite cookie place, Hello Robin, their bags have the tagline "You had me at Hello (Robin)." Hello, Robyn, you had me at CLOWN CARS! What a brilliant clue – high-occupancy vehicles indeed. I was stuck on the notion of carpools, vans, etc. for the longest time. Made an already great entry even better.

Jim sometimes quotes a single entry in a themeless as the reason he loves the entire puzzle. It often seems like such is his level of delight, that he can overlook anything else in the puzzle. I rarely have that experience, but today, Robyn could have thrown in about ten dabs of crossword glue and three asymmetrical blocks and a two-letter word, and I doubt I would have stopped smiling.

But it didn't end there! Like with all her themeless, Robyn had so much color elsewhere – WHO GOES THERE, FUNNEL CAKES, GLASS CEILING, CANDY CANE, among others – and all of it felt so relatable to a broad audience.

I don't mind when a themeless constructor starts with some person or phrase I'm too uncool to know about – just as long as the crosses are fair. But it's hard to get excited about something that feels unfamiliar (or makes you just plain feel old).

Not the case for something like CLOWN CAR, a term which I'd guess that most everyone knows. And even if you don't know it, it's not hard to figure out. Who doesn't love clowns endlessly streaming out of a tiny VW Bug?

Okay, people who are scared of clowns. Right.

There were a couple of blips in the fill, but they were minor (all short and easy to figure out): SIE SEE TIAS YDS. And CREEL may cause consternation for some – I remember when I first learned the term ... in a hard crossword! But it no doubt is a real thing, and I can't see any of the crosses possibly seeming right any other way. CREAL / THALMA perhaps?

Nah.

Another Weintraub themeless, another POW! Robyn's voice comes through loud and clear in her themelesses, and it's such a joy to experience. When I find a (book) author I like, I go off in search of everything that person has written and devour it. Here's hoping that Robyn continues to be prolific.

Jim Horne notes:
If, like Jeff, you like to track down puzzles by a constructor you love, this page is full of Across Lite links organized by the ... read more

If, like Jeff, you like to track down puzzles by a constructor you love, this page is full of Across Lite links organized by the people who made them. Print out your own book of great crosswords for on your next trip. An NYT Crossword subscription is required.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1109 ( 25,203 )
Across
1. High-occupancy vehicles? : CLOWNCARS
10. Madres' kin : TIAS
14. Some high-rise constructions : TREEHOUSES
15. "This one's ___" : ONME
16. Backward : RETROGRADE
17. Soup noodle : UDON
18. Drapers' units: Abbr. : YDS
19. Wig out : GOAPE
20. Friendly greetings : GRINS
21. "Fish are friends, not ___" (line from "Finding Nemo") : FOOD
22. Leaves : FOLIAGE
24. Made a case : ARGUED
27. Touchy sort? : MIDAS
28. ___ Bar, Ireland's oldest pub, dating to A.D. 900 : SEANS
29. Pioneer mover : CONESTOGA
33. Call mean names, say : TAUNT
34. Old Speckled Hen, for one : ALE
35. Dispenser item : STRAW
36. "The Devil's playthings" : IDLEHANDS
38. Crinkly fabric : CREPE
39. Provides, as aid : LENDS
40. Calls funny names, say : TEASES
41. "Vamoose!" : AMSCRAY
44. Liner, e.g. : SHIP
45. Butterfly chrysalises, e.g. : PUPAE
46. Fishing basket : CREEL
48. Eponymous Belgian resort town : SPA
51. Like some early learning, for short : PREK
52. Like some college applicants : WAITLISTED
54. Something found near the tongue? : LACE
55. Ones who find it difficult to go out? : INSOMNIACS
56. Group whose past members have included six U.S. presidents : ELKS
57. Much of Generation Z, today : TEENAGERS
Down
1. Rep : CRED
2. Agreeable answer to an invitation : LETS
3. "Jingle Bells" contraction : OER
4. Sentry's query : WHOGOESTHERE
5. Reprobate : NOGOOD
6. First-aid brand : CURAD
7. Urgent letters : ASAP
8. Adjusts the parameters of : REDEFINES
9. General direction of I-77: Abbr. : SSE
10. Times Square, you might say : TOURISTTRAP
11. Setting for "Siddhartha" : INDIA
12. ___ friends : AMONG
13. Impression : SENSE
14. Take a sip of : TRY
20. Breaking it might be cause for celebration : GLASSCEILING
21. Fair fare : FUNNELCAKES
23. Complimentary composition : ODE
24. Wine town in Piedmont : ASTI
25. Follow the script : READ
26. Caesar's conquest of 58-50 B.C. : GAUL
27. Gets into shape? : MOLDS
29. Common Christmas decoration : CANDYCANE
30. Raw materials : ORES
31. Look of astonishment : GAPE
32. Astonishes : AWES
37. Largest carrier in Japan : ANA
40. J. J.'s sister on "Good Times" : THELMA
41. First U.S. company to be valued at $1 trillion : APPLE
42. Certain street art : MURAL
43. Dot : SPECK
44. Determined about : SETON
47. Stop lying : RISE
48. Competitor of Us Weekly : STAR
49. Bodybuilder's pride : PECS
50. Trailers, e.g. : ADS
52. Romeo's was "a most sharp sauce," per Shakespeare : WIT
53. You: Ger. : SIE

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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