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New York Times, Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Author:
Paula Gamache
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1085/21/20021/14/20184
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
81318151217619
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1.58431
Paula Gamache

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 100 for Ms. Gamache. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Interesting to see how different Paula's and my interpretation of this theme were. I remember starting with a giant list of words that ... read more

Interesting to see how different Paula's and my interpretation of this theme were. I remember starting with a giant list of words that can be preceded by DEAD, then going through a systematic process of matching pairs to see what sounded colorful to me. I can't say I ever would have picked out WOOD DUCK or BODY WEIGHT (and I'm kicking myself for missing SEAHORSE!). Neat to see how Paula's personal preferences led to such a different end result. Vive la difference!

LOEB Boathouse in Central Park

I also appreciate Paula's addition of fill that I wouldn't have considered or thought of myself. SAUTERNES is vaguely familiar even to this anti-oenophile, and GOOD FAT is a snazzy answer. Along with other entries like JET BOAT, ON THE MAKE, SHALLOT, and even CAB IT, it feels like a very Paula-voiced puzzle.

I wasn't a huge fan of the grid segmentation, the NW and SE corners virtually cut off from the middle. This does help in filling — especially since there are so many themers, all jam-packed in — but it made for a choppy solve. Additionally, shortly after starting, I dead-ended in that NEO / ONE-D / BENE / EDU section. Gave me the opportunity to study all those short gluey answers concentrated into the corner. Not ideal.

Speaking of short entries, that SAL / LOEB crossing feels nearly like a killer. I wonder how many people know the mule SAL from "I've got an old mule and her name is Sal / Fifteen years on the Erie Canal"? And if you're not from New York, LOEB Boathouse seems like a guessing game. I suppose you could argue that SAL / LOEB is the only reasonable possibility, but for beginning solvers, I could see SAM / MOEB, SAN / NOEB, even SAK / KOEB. I think most all puzzles, especially early-week ones, should set up the solver to ultimate prevail. Crossings like this make that tough.

Good to get another of these "both words can follow" or "both words can precede" themes every once in a while — and getting one with such theme density + great long fill is nice — but they do feel like they're on their last legs.

1
W
2
I
3
I
4
E
5
S
6
M
7
E
8
C
9
U
10
S
11
S
12
A
13
T
14
O
P
T
15
N
A
I
L
16
A
S
H
O
R
E
17
W
O
O
18
D
D
U
C
K
19
B
E
A
V
E
R
20
L
O
O
T
21
A
I
R
L
I
N
E
22
B
23
O
D
Y
W
E
24
I
25
G
H
T
26
L
E
A
S
27
E
N
Y
A
28
R
O
O
S
29
L
O
T
S
A
30
N
E
O
31
E
N
T
O
32
O
A
T
33
E
D
U
34
D
E
A
D
35
E
N
D
36
F
37
F
38
F
39
J
D
S
40
F
A
T
E
41
I
L
L
42
A
43
L
44
L
E
Y
45
B
A
S
H
46
T
R
E
E
47
V
O
I
T
48
L
E
T
T
E
49
R
H
E
A
D
50
E
Y
E
B
51
A
L
L
52
M
E
E
T
53
N
O
N
O
N
O
54
S
55
E
A
H
O
R
56
S
57
E
58
G
L
O
A
T
S
59
A
L
K
A
60
A
I
M
61
E
A
R
T
H
A
62
L
O
E
B
63
P
X
S
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1216 ( 24,144 )
Across
1
Xbox alternative : WII
4
Salinger's "For ___ - With Love and Squalor" : ESME
8
Assail with expletives : CUSSAT
14
Elect (to) : OPT
15
Do perfectly : NAIL
16
Off the ship : ASHORE
17
*Colorful North American waterfowl : WOODDUCK
19
Symbol of busyness : BEAVER
20
Rioter's haul : LOOT
21
*Fleet operator : AIRLINE
22
*Class determinant in boxing : BODYWEIGHT
26
Gamboling spots : LEAS
27
New Age Grammy winner : ENYA
28
Aussie hoppers : ROOS
29
"___ luck!" : LOTSA
30
New beginning? : NEO
31
Inner: Prefix : ENTO
32
___ bran : OAT
33
Part of a student's address : EDU
34
Cul-de-sac ... or what either part of the answer to each starred clue is? : DEADEND
36
Very loud, on a score : FFF
39
Law grads, briefly : JDS
40
"The stars" : FATE
41
Not 100% : ILL
42
What a back door may open to : ALLEY
45
Helluva party : BASH
46
Christmas ___ : TREE
47
Big brand of sports equipment : VOIT
48
*Top on official stationery : LETTERHEAD
50
*Observe closely : EYEBALL
52
Entry on a sports schedule : MEET
53
"You've got that all wrong!" : NONONO
54
*Swimmer with a prehensile tail : SEAHORSE
58
Is a bad winner : GLOATS
59
___-Seltzer : ALKA
60
Asset for a gunfighter : AIM
61
Kitt who sang "Santa Baby" : EARTHA
62
Central Park's ___ Boathouse : LOEB
63
Stores for G.I.s : PXS
Down
1
Bowl over : WOW
2
Facebook had one in 2012, for short : IPO
3
"See?!" : ITOLDYOU
4
Fund : ENDOW
5
Sweet white wine from Bordeaux : SAUTERNES
6
Input jack abbr. : MIC
7
Member of a fraternal group : ELK
8
Let a hack do the driving : CABIT
9
___-friendly : USER
10
Food item often caramelized : SHALLOT
11
Old political council : SOVIET
12
Concert venues : ARENAS
13
Mother ___ : TERESA
18
1977 hit by 55-Down : DOYA
21
Understanding sounds : AHS
22
Nota ___ : BENE
23
Linear, for short : ONED
24
It's not much : IOTA
25
Olive oil and nuts have this : GOODFAT
29
Put on : LADE
31
Vortex in the sink : EDDY
32
Ambitious and unscrupulous : ONTHEMAKE
35
Middle ___ : EAST
36
It can easily go up in flames : FIRETRAP
37
Pet pest : FLEA
38
Took to the hills : FLED
39
Propellerless craft : JETBOAT
42
Exact satisfaction for : AVENGE
43
New Orleans university : LOYOLA
44
Property claim holder : LIENOR
45
Unit of sound named for an inventor : BEL
46
Van Gogh's brother : THEO
48
Novelist Mario Vargas ___ : LLOSA
49
Place to kick a habit : REHAB
51
Literary collection: Abbr. : ANTH
54
Mule of song : SAL
55
Grp. that sang 18-Down : ELO
56
___ Flags : SIX
57
Printing measures : EMS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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