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New York Times, Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Author:
David Levinson Wilk
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2512/2/199612/17/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6135271
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59120
David Levinson Wilk

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 42 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. Wilk. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Levinson Wilk notes:

Today's puzzle was fun to construct. For your amusement, here's a pic of _ED K_ _PEL as a TOPLESSDANCER.

Jeff Chen notes:
FEARLESS LEADER = Franklin Delano Roosevelt minus the letters F E A R — in that order! A wonderful find. I've been searching for ... read more

FEARLESS LEADER = Franklin Delano Roosevelt minus the letters F E A R — in that order! A wonderful find. I've been searching for an exemplary "clues are missing certain letters" concept for years now, and this is way better than anything I've come up with. It's so easy to identify FDR's name even without those four letters, so that you have half an idea of what's going on — and then when you get the other half, it's transcendent.

After solving that one, I thought for sure that this would be the POW! The fact that FDR was a FEARLESS LEADER makes it perfect.

HEADLESS CHICKEN was close in terms of wow factor, H E A D perfectly omitted, while still keeping Rhode Island Red identifiable. I did hear some complaints the last time the phrase showed up, making me wonder if it doesn't have universal recognition (running around like a headless chicken = going in chaos).

Oh, how badly I wanted the rest of the puzzle to measure up to these two findings. ODORLESS GAS was fine, although it's not as easy to smell what _xygen _iflu_ _ide should be, and it wasn't immediately clear to me that oxygen difluoride is an odorless gas.

TIRELESS WORKER had some issues too, as a TAXI DRIVER is a worker, but I don't know that all TAXI DRIVERs are tireless.

Huh. Now that I think about it, is oxygen disulfide odorless? Was it just a coincidence that FDR was a FEARLESS LEADER? I think so, which takes away from my perceived cleverness of the theme. Drat.

HAIRLESS DOG was the one that yanked it right out of POW! contention. _ _ r r _ e _ is … a HARRIER? How is the jump jet a HAIRLESS DOG? I read up on Harriers for five solid minutes before wondering, could there be a dog breed named the HARRIER? Huh.

The gridwork also pulled down the solving experience. As much as I crave bonuses like BADASS, RASSLE, BJORK, EMOJI, it's much more important to deliver a friendly Tuesday solving experience for newer folks. Entries like OJO EPEE SLO don't do that. Having LEPER in your grid isn't great, either.

Such a shame. FEARLESS LEADER is one of those amazing finds that rarely comes along. Cutting out HARRIER to let the grid breath more, and working to upgrade TIRELESS WORKER would have made the puzzle Puzzle of the Year material.

1
G
2
R
3
A
4
P
5
H
6
P
7
L
8
A
9
Y
10
A
11
B
12
A
13
G
14
M
A
D
E
A
15
O
A
R
E
D
16
J
L
O
17
O
D
O
R
L
18
E
S
S
G
A
S
19
O
F
F
20
V
E
S
T
21
E
R
I
E
22
T
23
I
24
R
E
L
E
S
25
S
26
W
27
O
R
K
E
R
28
B
A
D
A
S
S
29
L
A
H
R
30
O
M
E
N
31
A
32
M
I
S
H
33
S
34
L
35
O
36
H
E
A
D
37
L
38
E
S
S
C
H
I
39
C
K
E
N
40
O
D
S
41
O
P
I
N
E
42
H
Y
P
E
43
A
L
E
C
44
G
45
R
A
P
E
S
46
F
47
E
48
A
R
L
E
S
49
S
50
L
E
A
D
E
R
51
S
M
U
T
52
H
U
N
S
53
T
O
T
54
H
55
A
56
I
R
L
E
S
57
S
58
D
59
O
60
G
61
O
J
O
62
E
X
P
E
L
63
L
A
U
R
A
64
P
I
S
65
R
E
A
D
S
66
E
M
E
R
Y
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1217 ( 25,606 )

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Across
1
Boardroom easel display : GRAPH
6
Spanish beach : PLAYA
11
Sack : BAG
14
Film character about whom Tyler Perry said "I just don't want to be her age playing her" : MADEA
15
Used a dinghy thingy : OARED
16
Part of Bennifer, once : JLO
17
_xygen _iflu_ _ide : ODORLESSGAS
19
On vacation : OFF
20
Third piece of a three-piece : VEST
21
1813 battle site in the War of 1812 : ERIE
22
_ax_ d_iv_r : TIRELESSWORKER
28
Awesomely tough : BADASS
29
Bert who played the Cowardly Lion : LAHR
30
Appearance of a comet, maybe : OMEN
31
Horse and buggy users : AMISH
33
Caution in a school zone : SLO
36
R_od_ Isl_n_ Red : HEADLESSCHICKEN
40
Really binges (on) : ODS
41
Express viewpoints : OPINE
42
Build up : HYPE
43
"Smart" boy's name : ALEC
44
Bunch at a fruit stand : GRAPES
46
_ranklin D_l_no _oosevelt : FEARLESSLEADER
51
Dirty pics : SMUT
52
Fifth-century barbarians : HUNS
53
Rug rat : TOT
54
_ _rr_e_ : HAIRLESSDOG
61
Spanish eye : OJO
62
Kick out : EXPEL
63
First lady before Michelle : LAURA
64
Detectives, for short : PIS
65
Books, informally : READS
66
Pedicurist's board : EMERY
Down
1
Modern food concern, for short : GMO
2
Totally cool : RAD
3
"Without further ___ ..." : ADO
4
The "p" in m.p.g. : PER
5
Divides evenly : HALVES
6
Entertainer's crew : POSSE
7
Stands the test of time : LASTS
8
Where Che Guevara was born: Abbr. : ARG
9
Opposite of nay : YEA
10
Billboards, e.g. : ADS
11
One-named singer who once led the Sugarcubes : BJORK
12
1966 Michael Caine title role : ALFIE
13
Errand runner : GOFER
18
Prey for barracudas : EELS
21
Mess up : ERR
22
Wild no more : TAMED
23
Bean sprouts? : IDEAS
24
___ McNally (mapmaker) : RAND
25
Pizzeria order : SLICE
26
Load of laundry : WASH
27
"Didn't think I'd run into you here!" : OHHI
28
___-chic (fashion style) : BOHO
31
New Balance competitor : ASICS
32
Browser option : MSN
33
FaceTime alternative : SKYPE
34
Biblical outcast : LEPER
35
Much of binary code : ONES
37
Laze : LOLL
38
Weapon used when saying "En garde!" : EPEE
39
Land between Nigeria and Sudan : CHAD
43
Without which earth is just "eh"? : ART
44
Wilder who played Willy Wonka : GENE
45
Do some down-and-dirty fighting : RASSLE
46
Camera setting : FSTOP
47
Word derived from the Japanese for "picture writing" : EMOJI
48
Buicks and Bentleys : AUTOS
49
Ripped bit : SHRED
50
Downtimes : LULLS
54
___ Highness : HER
55
Firefighter's tool : AXE
56
Brewpub offering, for short : IPA
57
Cooke who sang "Twistin' the Night Away" : SAM
58
Like a pregnant woman at about 40 weeks : DUE
59
Bobby of the Boston Bruins : ORR
60
The "G" of L.G.B.T. : GAY

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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