It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

New York Times, Saturday, December 17, 2016

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6411/13/20126/26/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
620187472
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 37 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:
I'm not good at themeless and seldom venture out of the standard grid layouts. As friendly as this grid setup was, I still had a tough ... read more

I'm not good at themeless and seldom venture out of the standard grid layouts. As friendly as this grid setup was, I still had a tough time finding nice answers for these bridging slots: 33A / 39A (ECOFREAK / SERRANOS) and 21D / 27D (RSSFEED / SALAMIS) — I had filled and locked the two triple-stacked 10s earlier on.

Jeff Chen notes:
And C.C. hits for the cycle! I admire people who can do it all, and C.C. is developing into one of those folks. I liked entries ... read more

And C.C. hits for the cycle! I admire people who can do it all, and C.C. is developing into one of those folks.

I liked entries like TWITTERBOT, DOUBLE TALK, ALL THE RAGE, and GLASSY-EYED — C.C. is so good with her bonus fill on themed puzzles, that it's no surprise she can feature some real winners in a themeless. ORDER NOW and ANY IDEAS helped flesh out the puzzle, as did ECOFREAK.

I did pause at ECOFREAK, especially without a "disparaging" qualifier. While it is a colorful word, it does seem a little offensive. Perhaps it's my Seattle environs, filled with dirty hippie ecofreaks.

I mean, super-passionate people trying to save the environment! Ahem. Please don't blow pot smoke in my face.

Usually, the most wide-open space in a themeless will be the trickiest to fill. Here, my eye was drawn immediately to the LENDS / SELL section (and the symmetrical SAMP / PLEAT). They might seem innocuous, but those two triangles of space have to work in concert with their adjoining triple-stacks — not easy. At the top, I thought it was a little inelegant to get Brett RATNER and Ben BRADLEE next to each other. I do think both are crossworthy, but they make for an ungainly pair for solvers who don't know the hard-to-spell names.

But that was the only spot I thought was a bit inelegant. Yes, SAMP is a toughie, as is RSS FEED (Rich Site Summary), but all the crossings are fair (although reader Gerry Wildenberg points out that JSS and JAM IN work equally well — I hadn't thought of that!). I do wonder if RSS FEED is an asset to the puzzle — not only is RSS a seemingly Random Set of Stuff, but I stopped using RSS FEEDs a few years ago when Google Reader shut down. Hmm.

There weren't as many great feature entries as I usually want in a themeless, especially one using a fairly standard pattern of black squares — HEALTH PLAN, SO FAR AS, MEDICATE, PROMISED, and TEANECK were more neutral than assets for me — but C.C. sure did a nice job of filling smoothly around the ones she did have.

Jim Horne notes:

I liked this one even more than Jeff did. It had me at 1 Across.

1
T
2
W
3
I
4
T
5
T
6
E
7
R
8
B
9
O
10
T
11
S
12
P
13
A
14
T
15
V
O
G
U
E
P
A
R
I
S
16
A
R
N
E
17
D
O
U
B
L
E
T
A
L
K
18
G
O
Y
A
19
A
H
A
20
L
E
N
D
S
21
R
A
M
I
N
22
D
O
N
23
E
24
S
E
L
L
25
S
N
I
D
E
26
S
O
A
R
27
S
28
R
E
I
29
N
S
30
S
E
C
31
R
A
32
N
33
E
C
O
F
34
R
E
A
K
35
M
36
O
O
L
A
37
H
38
K
N
E
A
D
S
39
S
E
R
R
A
N
O
40
S
41
E
E
K
42
O
D
D
43
M
O
T
H
44
S
45
D
E
46
P
47
T
48
S
49
F
I
E
50
R
I
51
S
A
M
52
P
53
D
A
R
T
54
A
C
R
E
S
55
P
L
E
A
56
T
57
R
I
O
58
R
A
N
G
59
H
E
A
L
T
H
60
P
L
A
N
61
A
T
O
I
62
A
L
L
T
H
E
R
A
G
E
63
S
E
W
S
64
G
L
A
S
S
Y
E
Y
E
D
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1217 ( 24,511 )
Across
1
Automated message poster : TWITTERBOT
11
Insignificant row : SPAT
15
Reading material for French fashionistas : VOGUEPARIS
16
Composer of "A-Hunting We Will Go" : ARNE
17
Gobbledygook : DOUBLETALK
18
"Los Caprichos" artist : GOYA
19
Pop group whose name is an exclamation : AHA
20
Makes advances : LENDS
21
Force to fit : RAMIN
22
Ready to serve : DONE
24
Persuade : SELL
25
Left-handed : SNIDE
26
Really takes off : SOARS
28
Control, metaphorically : REINS
30
Not sweet : SEC
31
Was chicken, say : RAN
33
One who's extremely green? : ECOFREAK
35
Green stuff : MOOLAH
38
Works : KNEADS
39
Peppers that are hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale : SERRANOS
41
Cry upon opening a hospital bill : EEK
42
Like the year 2017 : ODD
43
Targets of naphthalene : MOTHS
45
Cabinet units: Abbr. : DEPTS
49
Guy in the kitchen : FIERI
51
Corn porridge : SAMP
53
Bar flier : DART
54
109 in Vatican City : ACRES
55
Iron production? : PLEAT
57
South America's ___ Negro : RIO
58
"You ___?" : RANG
59
Part of a benefits package : HEALTHPLAN
61
Yours, in Tours : ATOI
62
Extremely popular : ALLTHERAGE
63
Does some surgical work : SEWS
64
Looking dazed : GLASSYEYED
Down
1
Andy Taylor and Homer Simpson, for two : TVDADS
2
Cry of delight : WOOHOO
3
Omnivorous lizard or its genus : IGUANA
4
Hardly a racing boat : TUB
5
Poker player's blink, say : TELL
6
Touching things in competition : EPEES
7
Brett who directed "Rush Hour" : RATNER
8
Ben ___, legendary Washington Post editor : BRADLEE
9
Hazard for marine life : OILSLICK
10
It might accompany the wag of a finger : TSK
11
Astronomer whose show won three Emmys and a Peabody : SAGAN
12
Affianced : PROMISED
13
"I'm stumped - what do we do?" : ANYIDEAS
14
New Jersey town near the George Washington Bridge : TEANECK
21
Source of news and blog postings : RSSFEED
23
Bad play : ERROR
27
Deli stock : SALAMIS
29
Zippo : NONE
32
Touch alternative : NANO
34
Like croupiers' tables : RAKED
35
Treat with drugs : MEDICATE
36
"Call right away!" : ORDERNOW
37
Summer stretch : HOTSPELL
39
To the extent that : SOFARAS
40
Clinton Foundation head Donna : SHALALA
44
Processes, as ore : SMELTS
46
Betting tactic : PARLAY
47
Priority protocol : TRIAGE
48
High : STONED
50
New York's historic St. ___ Hotel : REGIS
52
Walks : PATHS
56
Anonymous news source : THEY
59
Halloween figure : HAG
60
TSA ___ (airport screening program, informally) : PRE

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?