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ACTUALLY ...

New York Times, Sunday, December 1, 2019

Author:
Patrick Merrell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
907/10/200112/1/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
22105123452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61554
Patrick Merrell

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JWZ} This is puzzle # 90 for Mr. Merrell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Patrick Merrell, of Vero Beach, Fla., is a freelance cartoonist, writer, graphic designer, photographer and puzzlemaker — 'all in about equal measure,' he says. For 40 years he's ... read more

Patrick Merrell, of Vero Beach, Fla., is a freelance cartoonist, writer, graphic designer, photographer and puzzlemaker — "all in about equal measure," he says. For 40 years he's been drawing cartoons for books, magazines (including Mad) and other publications. Mice are a recurring theme. [The drawing here] is the illustration he added to the manuscript for this puzzle just for fun.

This is Pat's 91st crossword for The Times.

Jeff Chen notes:
CHINESE CHECKERS not actually Chinese, RHODE ISLAND not actually an island, etc. What with all the oddities of the English language, it's not hard to see why people believe it when someone ... read more

CHINESE CHECKERS not actually Chinese, RHODE ISLAND not actually an island, etc. What with all the oddities of the English language, it's not hard to see why people believe it when someone yells FAKE NEWS!

Did you get the secret subversive message: CROSSWORDS ARE NOT ACTUALLY NOT CROSS WORDS? How many F-bombs have you seen the NYT xw drop lately, hmm? Not even one S-word!

Huh? The NYT xw does use IRE and IRK all the time, and those are cross (angry) words?

What? Crosswords are so named because words cross each other?

HA! TBA is NOT A WORD. NEITHER ARE SSTARS, NCO, ESTAB AND SO MANY OTHERS TODAY!

Did you know that the HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE was neither Roman nor holy? You can't even call it an empire. I mean, holy moly, it didn't even span a single continent. If the sun sets on your little fiefdom EVERY DAY, it ain't an empire.

All kidding aside, I enjoyed learning a few things from this puzzle.

But wait. REST ROOMS aren't places of rest? I beg to differ! Apparently Patrick has never been in a women's room. My wife Jill spent about an hour in a fancy one with both my kids the other day, where there are couches, loungers, toys for the kids, and so many secret amenities I'm not privy to.

Get it, privy?

Maybe I should stop there.

Maybe I should have stopped yesterday.

It's hard to swallow the glut of APLEA, ASLAP, ASON kicking off DST, ENDE, ERN, ESS, and so on and so on. But I did enjoy some of the bonuses, TAILSPIN and VIGNETTE the standouts. Just goes to show how difficult the 140-word 21x21 construction is, even for seasoned pros. One thing that could have helped: getting rid of PEANUT and CATGUT, which both got lost in the shuffle and created tough filling problems in their respective corners.

I'd heard most of these "false fact" VIGNETTES before, but perhaps they'll be of more interest to those hearing them the first time.

Jim Horne notes:
XWord Info counts this as Mr. Merrell's 90th puzzle because we don't include PDF-only puzzles like this Special Delivery from 2011. (Link requires NYT Puzzle Subscription.) Here's an ... read more

XWord Info counts this as Mr. Merrell's 90th puzzle because we don't include PDF-only puzzles like this Special Delivery from 2011. (Link requires NYT Puzzle Subscription.)

Here's an old music joke: "The French Horn isn't French, it's English. The English Horn not only isn't English (it's French), it's not even a horn (it's a woodwind.)"

NYT fact-checkers — darn them — weaken the punch line by pointing out that the English Horn originates from Central Europe. Oh well. :)

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1201 ( 25,590 )
Across
1
Bird growing up Down Under : EMU
4
Russian novelist Maxim : GORKI
9
Honey : BABE
13
Suddenly stand at attention : SNAPTO
19
Apt move when dancing the salsa? : DIP
20
Home of the Huskies, informally : UCONN
21
"He's like ___ to me" : ASON
22
Undo, legislatively : REPEAL
23
Notwithstanding : INSPITEOF
25
... It abuts water on only one of its four sides : RHODEISLAND
27
Attach, as a ribbon : TIEON
28
Possible result of late payments, informally : REPO
30
Verb on a candy heart : LUV
31
Tithing portion : TENTH
32
... It's an ellipse : STPETERSSQUARE
36
"Little House on the Prairie" girl : LAURA
37
Italian "darling" : CARA
38
Like drumheads : TAUT
39
Frankish finish : ENDE
41
Inker's artwork : TAT
42
Meeting expectations : UPTOPAR
45
Source of Andrew Carnegie's fortune : STEEL
47
Heir extension? : ESS
49
Lambaste : TEARINTO
51
Competitor : RIVAL
54
Of all time : EVER
58
Impersonator's skill : APING
59
... It was predominantly German : HOLYROMANEMPIRE
64
Sci-fi character depicted as a glowing red dot : HAL
65
Punjab's capital : LAHORE
66
Things around a cloverleaf : EXITSIGNS
67
Footprint maker : SOLE
70
Give ___ on the wrist : ASLAP
72
Jennifer who wrote the Pulitzer-winning "A Visit From the Goon Squad" : EGAN
73
Currently : ATPRESENT
77
Van Gogh masterwork : IRISES
80
Move offshore, say : EBB
83
... It's an American name for a German game : CHINESECHECKERS
85
Fuel mileage, for example : RATIO
87
Gambling game akin to bingo : KENO
88
Drift ice pieces : FLOES
89
Vouch for : ATTESTTO
91
Letters on an incomplete syllabus : TBA
93
Serious : STAID
97
Like par 2 holes among all holes in miniature golf : EASIEST
98
Rapper Tone ___ : LOC
101
___ the Orange (Syracuse mascot) : OTTO
104
Pretentious : ARTY
105
Defibrillator pros : EMTS
106
Some rectangular tablets : IPADS
108
... They're of Indian origin : ARABICNUMERALS
113
Wind-up toys? : KITES
114
It's often performed by 105-Across : CPR
115
Sounds of enlightenment : AHAS
116
Like bicycle chains : OILED
118
... It's a woodwind from Central Europe : ENGLISHHORN
121
Onetime home of the Vikings and the Twins : METRODOME
124
Make litter-proof? : NEUTER
125
Wholehearted endorsement : AMEN
126
Flanged structural support : IBEAM
127
Yang's opposite : YIN
128
Cool red giants : SSTARS
129
U.S. viticulture region : NAPA
130
Printing hues : CYANS
131
It starts in Mar. : DST
Down
1
Make amends? : EDIT
2
They're compacter than compacts : MINIS
3
Miffed : UPSET
4
... It's a rodent native to the Andes : GUINEAPIG
5
Mo. when the N.F.L., N.B.A., N.H.L. and M.L.B. all have games : OCT
6
Unidentified person in a suit : ROE
7
Big name in the soup aisle : KNORR
8
Overruns : INFESTS
9
Highly decorated : BAROQUE
10
Eruption particulates : ASH
11
When doubled, a Yale football song : BOOLA
12
Survive : ENDURE
13
___ Lanka : SRI
14
Spoons, e.g. : NESTLES
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Cop ___ : APLEA
16
... It's a legume : PEANUT
17
Hindu tradition that's two men's names in reverse : TANTRA
18
Trite : OLDHAT
24
Popular microwave snack : POPCORN
26
What avengers get : EVEN
29
Exam for many sophs. and jrs. : PSAT
33
Second most popular Vietnamese surname (after Nguyen) : TRAN
34
Kitt who played Catwoman on TV : EARTHA
35
In ___ development : UTERO
40
Expunges : DELETES
42
Home to the Sundance Film Festival : UTAH
43
Salt's hip-hop counterpart : PEPA
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Aerobatic maneuver : TAILSPIN
46
Tart dessert : LIMEPIE
48
Vintage-looking shade : SEPIA
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La-la lead-in : OOH
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Preventive medicine, slangily : VAX
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"Star Wars" nickname : ANI
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Short story : VIGNETTE
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West end? : ERN
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Pixelatedness, for short : RES
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Abhors : LOATHES
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Slices of life: Abbr. : YRS
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Historic discovery : RELIC
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Umami enhancer, for short : MSG
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What diet products often contain : LESSFAT
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Alternative indication : ORNOT
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First, last, male or female name : LEE
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Gilded chest in the Bible : ARK
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Cathy's comics cry : ACK
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Not just any : THE
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Fish that's 69-Down reversed : EEL
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High-grade U.S.M.C. enlistee : NCO
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Lima lady: Abbr. : SRA
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Regard : ESTEEM
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Atoms : BITS
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A rancher might pull one over a calf : BOOT
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Cornerstone abbr. : ESTAB
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... They're lousy places to sleep : RESTROOMS
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"To repeat ..." : ASISAID
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Subdued : TAME
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More overbearing : BOSSIER
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Huffington of journalism : ARIANNA
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Septennial symptom? : ITCH
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Charismatic : DYNAMIC
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Compares (to) : LIKENS
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Throws in one's two cents : OPINES
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... It usually comes from sheep : CATGUT
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Dash dial : TACH
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Unmatched sock, informally : ORPHAN
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Silty spot : DELTA
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Welcoming whiff : AROMA
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Phrase before a date : USEBY
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Eponym of a London insurer : LLOYD
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Highway haulers : SEMIS
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Parking lot souvenir : DENT
119
AARPers : SRS
120
Part of a gym set : REP
122
Bagged leaves? : TEA
123
Dashed : RAN

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?