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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

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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 ... more
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 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
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S
11
S
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A
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T
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O
P
T
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N
A
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A
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W
O
O
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D
D
U
C
K
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B
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A
V
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L
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A
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B
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D
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G
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L
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A
S
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N
Y
A
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R
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L
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O
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O
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D
U
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D
E
A
D
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E
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D
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F
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F
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F
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J
D
S
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F
A
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A
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L
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L
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B
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V
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A
D
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Y
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B
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A
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M
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N
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S
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P
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1216 ( 24,144 )
Across Down
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
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: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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