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New York Times, Thursday, December 17, 2015

Author: David Kwong
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.59232
David Kwong
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {QVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Kwong. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Kwong notes: I'm proud of the trick in this one, but I think I'm even prouder of the fill. I tried very hard to have very little crosswordese ... more
David Kwong notes:

I'm proud of the trick in this one, but I think I'm even prouder of the fill. I tried very hard to have very little crosswordese — did I succeed? You be the judge =) I originally submitted this puzzle with no partial phrases. Will since changed the clue to ASA from "Botanist Gray" to "__ whole ..." Totally understandable.

I'm always fascinated by the unwritten rules of crossword making: not too many 3-letter words, nice looking patterns of black squares etc. In this case, I learned that even though 78-words is the limit for a daily puzzle, Shortz prefers not to run 78-ers on Thursdays.

So I got the word count down to 76, which was not an easy task! And I'm pleased how it turned out. I think the long themers are fun, and I'm glad LONGISLANDICEDTEA breaks up the letters between two words. RUSHDIE was a must-have for me, and I am so glad I was able to get that word to span two of the long themers.

Hope you enjoy it!

Jeff Chen notes: There seem to be two camps when it comes to rebuses — the haters and the lovers. Given that there have been SO many rebuses, I ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

There seem to be two camps when it comes to rebuses — the haters and the lovers. Given that there have been SO many rebuses, I lean slightly toward the former side, but I really like when a rebus is not just a rebus. David's interpretation of DIE + DIE = DICE made for a highly entertaining solve.

It is a truth universally acknowledged ...

Not only was the concept really fun, but I loved David's selection of themers. BO(DICE) RIPPERS was my favorite, evoking images of Harlequin Romance covers. PRIDE AND PREJU(DICE), CAN(DICE) BERGEN, and LONG ISLAN(D ICE)D TEA are all great picks, too. It would have been nice to get one more where DICE was broken — perhaps COME(DIC E)FFECT or NOMA(DIC EMPIRE)? — but there are a very limited number of phrases breaking like that. And a second D / ICE break would be tough since not much starts with ICE that wouldn't have the same etymology as ICED.

I also liked how David only used DIE once by itself in the fill, in DIE OUT. Hiding the rebuses in RUSH(DIE), (DIE)TS, GRENA(DIE)R avoids duplications. With so rebus-filled entries required for this puzzle, it's impressive to not dupe DIE.

I also liked the big, open corners in the NE / SW. Sometimes this sort of thing is optional, but today David used so many black squares in the middle of his grid — necessary to partition all the various DIE entries — that he was forced to keep the corners wide open. They came out well, with some nice long stuff like INCENSED and ABROGATE, with very few gluey entries like ASSOC.

I wasn't a fan of the lower right corner. Yes, there's a lot to work around with two DIE answers and a relatively big corner, but HEIL … yikes. Maybe I've grown too sensitive over the years. At least clue it to "The Producers" or something? And A DUE / ASA / CTRL / TSURIS are all fine(ish) on their own, but they sure pile up in that corner.

Perhaps a little too easy for a Thursday puzzle, but it sure provided me with a lot of entertainment. Well done.

1
T
2
W
3
A
4
N
5
G
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Y
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A
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B
9
R
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O
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G
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A
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P
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N
D
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J
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DIE
DIE
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E
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S
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G
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A
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S
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A
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A
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F
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C
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DIE
DIE
B
E
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N
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M
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W
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O
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A
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E
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L
A
H
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E
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S
P
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F
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DIE
DIE
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A
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M
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O
N
E
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S
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D
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E
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A
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H
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DIE
DIE
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E
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A
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66
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A
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1217 ( 24,145 )
Across Down
1. Like a banjo : TWANGY
7. Annul : ABROGATE
15. Make fast : SECURE
16. Flexible : NONRIGID
17. 1813 novel made into a 2005 film : PRIDEANDPREJUDICE
19. Successor to Churchill : EDEN
20. Exclamations of exasperation : OYS
21. Drives : GOADS
22. More than half of all batteries sold : AAS
24. Moriarty, to Holmes : FOE
25. Five-time Emmy-winning actress : CANDICEBERGEN
31. A monster may have a big one : MAW
34. Places that may have beeches and benches : ARBORS
35. Something to dispense with : URN
36. Word that can be followed by any of several colors : CODE
37. Outdoor feast : LUAU
38. Piece of the N.R.A.?: Abbr. : ASSOC
40. One making a lot of turns on the road? : AXLE
41. "Oh yeah ... uh-huh" : IBET
42. ___-di-dah : LAH
43. Made out : ESPIED
45. Word repeated at the start of every "Star Wars" film : FAR
46. Racy books named after a Victorian garment : BODICERIPPERS
48. Biathlon need : AIM
49. Five fifths : ONE
50. Perform lousily : STINK
53. Calendar keeper, for short : PDA
55. A head : EACH
59. Alcoholic drink so named because of its color, not its content : LONGISLANDICEDTEA
63. Boiling : INCENSED
64. Trouble, in Yiddish : TSURIS
65. Bygone royals : TSARINAS
66. Blanche DuBois's sister : STELLA
1. It's about 5 mL : TSP
2. Lived : WERE
3. Biting : ACID
4. In the altogether : NUDE
5. Certain foot soldier : GRENADIER
6. House support? : YEA
7. Roddick who won the 2003 U.S. Open : ANDY
8. Conks : BOPS
9. Time off, in mil. slang : RNR
10. Where Nike is headquartered : OREGON
11. Boy toy? : GIJOE
12. Quito quaff : AGUA
13. Cleaned (up) : TIDIED
14. Things going down the drain? : EDDIES
18. Oenophile's concern : NOSE
23. Son of David : ABSALOM
24. Enclose : FENCEIN
25. 10-Down neighbor: Abbr. : CALIF
26. Caribbean vacation destination : ARUBA
27. Hawk or Hornet : NBAER
28. Go extinct : DIEOUT
29. Indian-born writer of the 1981 Booker Prize : RUSHDIE
30. Miracle-___ : GRO
31. Chutzpah : MOXIE
32. Chicago's ___ Planetarium : ADLER
33. Bed intruders? : WEEDS
36. Dogpatch creator : CAPP
39. Beatles title girl : SADIE
44. First to break the tape : SPEEDIEST
46. Beach attraction : BIKINI
47. Multihued horse : ROAN
48. Inflame : ANGER
50. Pupil of a snake's eye, often : SLIT
51. Plenty : TONS
52. Worshiper of Inti : INCA
53. Answer to a judge : PLEA
54. Pops : DADS
56. In unison, in a way : ADUE
57. PC key : CTRL
58. Greeting with a salute : HEIL
60. W-4 entry: Abbr. : SSN
61. Topics of many self-help books : DIETS
62. "___ whole ..." : ASA

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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