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New York Times, Saturday, December 10, 2016

Author:
Byron Walden
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1101292617
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1.59321
Byron Walden

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 27 Missing: {FJQW} This is puzzle # 83 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes:
The answer to the age-old question of 'Do you start with the answers or with the clues?' is sometimes 'I start with one nasty tough ... read more

The answer to the age-old question of "Do you start with the answers or with the clues?" is sometimes "I start with one nasty tough clue, and then build the rest of the puzzle around that entry." This puzzle was all about a vehicle for the [Play with an imaginary friend] at 15A. Very tricky obviously, and no ? as a warning.

After a lot of fiddling and polishing multiple versions. I saw that I had IVAN next to LEND. If there had been an easy fix, I would have tried to turn LEND into LENDL. I would have needed a five letter LG??? — LGBTQ would be great, and maybe even possible, but it was quickly evident that finishing the grid would have been murder, so I dropped it. This is the disadvantage from the constructor's point of view of grids that have lots of flow. The effects of changes in one area propagate elsewhere freely. But having flow is better for solvers, so I try to maximize it where I can. Sure, you get saddled with a TESORO now and then, but on balance, I hope it ends up for a more enjoyable puzzle overall.

Jeff Chen notes:
Love some of the long multi-word entries! EXHIBITA looks so cool and bizarre (it's 'Exhibit A'), I'M TOO SEXY is unfortunately very ... read more

Love some of the long multi-word entries! EXHIBITA looks so cool and bizarre (it's "Exhibit A"), I'M TOO SEXY is unfortunately very catchy, and the kid in me absolutely giggles with glee over the SLEEPER HOLD. (I watched way too much WWE as a kid.) Along with a PARTY BUS, PED XING, EXIT POLL, and SKI LODGE, that's some strong material throughout the puzzle.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I tend to find single-word entries less interesting than multi-worders. Part of it is that years ago, Rich Norris of the LAT imparted upon me how single-word entries can make a puzzle feel more like a school test rather than entertainment. For example, AMORTIZE doesn't wow me, even though I spent way too much time studying amortization in my accounting classes. And it's hard to do much with words like KNEADERS and SNOOPERS, which feel so contrived what with their -ERS addition.

But Byron does a good job working in some single-worders that I do find fun in themselves. Something really interesting about the words CAVALIER, EBENEZER, MAROONED — they all bring up interesting images in my head. Personal taste, of course.

This isn't to say that multi-worders are always better than single-worders — STAND NEXT TO doesn't do a lot for me, for example.

Byron always does such a great job of clue writing. There's a standout in [Leader in a suit?] for EXHIBIT A, making an already great entry even better. Love the misdirection, "leader" here more meaning "leadoff" than "head honcho".

As with some of Byron's other puzzles, some entries made me stop and think. PET HATES was one of those. Pet peeves, sure, but PET HATES? It does have a good showing in Google searches, so perhaps it's a new term that's gaining ground?

Also a couple of oddballs: ETTORE Bugatti seems esoteric (I knew him from crosswords — so useful with all those common letters), ESTHETE which I always knew as AESTHETE before I started doing crosswords, SNOCKERED (schnookered?), and SCHNOZ, which to me looks so odd without a double Z in SCHNOZZ. They are all fair game, though, I think.

1
S
2
P
3
O
4
I
5
L
6
T
7
P
8
E
9
T
10
H
11
A
12
T
13
E
14
S
15
H
A
R
V
E
Y
16
E
X
H
I
B
I
T
A
17
E
R
N
A
N
I
18
D
I
A
L
E
C
T
S
19
S
T
A
N
D
N
20
E
X
T
T
O
21
K
O
S
22
G
Y
M
23
G
R
I
P
24
M
E
R
E
25
O
B
E
26
S
27
E
28
S
N
O
29
C
30
K
E
R
E
D
31
N
U
N
C
I
32
O
33
G
L
O
A
T
34
E
S
T
H
E
T
35
E
36
L
O
U
I
37
S
38
C
39
K
40
N
I
O
B
41
E
42
L
A
N
K
A
N
43
I
44
M
45
T
O
O
S
E
X
46
Y
47
I
G
I
V
E
48
B
A
E
Z
49
N
C
I
50
S
51
L
A
A
52
E
D
S
53
S
54
L
E
E
P
E
55
R
56
H
O
L
D
57
A
M
O
58
R
T
I
Z
E
59
R
O
A
D
I
E
60
M
A
R
O
O
N
E
D
61
B
U
R
G
E
R
62
S
N
O
O
P
E
R
S
63
S
T
E
E
R
S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1210 ( 24,504 )
Across
1
"Summer's joys are ___ by use": Keats : SPOILT
7
Bugaboos : PETHATES
15
Play with an imaginary friend : HARVEY
16
Leader in a suit? : EXHIBITA
17
Elvira's love, in opera : ERNANI
18
Sicilian Italian and others : DIALECTS
19
Rub elbows with, say : STANDNEXTTO
21
More than staggers : KOS
22
Setting for many a political rally : GYM
23
Film set schlepper : GRIP
24
Just : MERE
25
Extremely endomorphic : OBESE
28
Three sheets to the wind : SNOCKERED
31
Ambassador sent by the Vatican : NUNCIO
33
Crow : GLOAT
34
Gallery habitué : ESTHETE
36
Comedian who voiced the lead in "The Secret Life of Pets" : LOUISCK
40
Analogue of Lot's wife in Greek mythology : NIOBE
42
Sri ___ : LANKAN
43
Runner-up to "Baby Got Back" on VH1's "40 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '90s" : IMTOOSEXY
47
"Go ahead, you got me" : IGIVE
48
"And a Voice to Sing With" memoirist : BAEZ
49
"JAG" spinoff : NCIS
51
A.L. West team, on scoreboards : LAA
52
Masthead listing, for short : EDS
53
Certain choke in wrestling : SLEEPERHOLD
57
Pay off gradually : AMORTIZE
59
Tour schlepper : ROADIE
60
Like Robinson Crusoe : MAROONED
61
Justice who wrote the unanimous decision in United States v. Nixon : BURGER
62
Spies : SNOOPERS
63
Directs (to) : STEERS
Down
1
Hall & Oates hit that asks "What went wrong?" : SHESGONE
2
It rocks as it rolls : PARTYBUS
3
Holiday ball : ORNAMENT
4
The middle Karamazov brother : IVAN
5
Impart : LEND
6
Getting even with : TYING
7
Sign of the cross? : PEDXING
8
Election night news : EXITPOLL
9
"So ___ happened" : THAT
10
U.S. city whose name looks like a form of poker : HILO
11
Prime minister who helped his country land the 2020 Summer Olympics : ABE
12
Crawl on CNBC : TICKER
13
Automotive pioneer Bugatti : ETTORE
14
Got lippy with : SASSED
20
Medevac destinations, informally : ERS
24
Apportioning : METING
26
Beak : SCHNOZ
27
Trailer for farm animals? : EIEIO
29
Dissipate, as ardor : COOL
30
Island home to the Sleeping Giant mountain : KAUAI
32
Plains tribe : OTOS
35
___ Baptist Church, where M.L.K. Sr. and Jr. preached : EBENEZER
37
Where you might warm up after a run : SKILODGE
38
Supercilious : CAVALIER
39
Workers making lots of dough? : KNEADERS
41
Tops : EXCEEDS
43
Building supports : IBEAMS
44
Gogol's Aksenty Poprishchin, per the title : MADMAN
45
San Antonio-based refinery giant that acquired Arco in 2013 : TESORO
46
Little bark : YIP
50
Spenders of 100-dinar notes depicting Nikola Tesla : SERBS
53
Subway ___ : STOP
54
Subway ___ : LINE
55
Blowout : ROUT
56
Fast runner : HARE
58
Baby boomer, in Aussie slang : ROO

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?