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New York Times, Friday, December 18, 2015

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1711/11/20101/5/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3021533
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Zhou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes:
I always want to include vocabulary that allows solvers to reflect on the contexts in which these words arose, and hence on what they ... read more

I always want to include vocabulary that allows solvers to reflect on the contexts in which these words arose, and hence on what they say about society at large (or just about my current interests). Today, we have the conceptual PANOPTICON watching over the rest of the puzzle at 1A. UNLADYLIKE is such a loaded and interesting word to me: I mean, what does it mean nowadays to act like a "well-bred woman?"

When I constructed the final version of this in Sep. 2014, there had been a downtown beautification project going on outside my apartment whose completion date was delayed by over a year. Consider the inclusion of NOISE LEVEL as my personal vendetta against the awful din of a Caterpillar struggling to re-park every morning at 6:50 am! No such feelings toward SETH MEYERS, whose Weekend Update with Amy Poehler I thought was the highlight of SNL for several seasons.

Other bits: 1D breaks my personal rule of not including dictators or generally horrible individuals, but the stories of what Haiti has had to endure are really unknown here despite our geographic proximity, and worth investigating. 2D might be clued anew re the Chinese e-commerce company. And I like how the vertical spanner at 3D (which I conceived of as the Alice Cooper song) somehow anticipates the feeling of 12D and 33A. The clue for 49D comes from memories of my childhood in Canada, where in social science every event we studied was interrupted by a portage or the making of the scrumptious-sounding* pemmican.

And with that, I turn to WONDERBRAS, whose brilliantly straightforward clue is not mine (it originally echoed IRAS, both being sources of "support"). Reading up on it, the campaign in question enraged many, and a billboard that came out of it caused its share of traffic mishaps. Meanwhile, it launched the Czech model Eva Herzigová, who claims the campaign to have been more "empower[ing]" than offensive, into stardom.

Jeff Chen notes:
I think I sometimes underestimate themelesses featuring grid-spanning entries. I tend to count an asset as one point, no matter if ... read more

I think I sometimes underestimate themelesses featuring grid-spanning entries. I tend to count an asset as one point, no matter if it's eight letters of 15. Today's GO INTO OVERDRIVE and NO MORE MR NICE GUY felt like they should count for more than just one point apiece — both gave me a burst of "hey, cool!" when I pieced them together. I'll have to rethink my internal scoring system.

SETH MEYERS

There wasn't a lot of other long material, but NO LOVE LOST, ALOHA STATE, even PANOPTICON added to the quality of my solve.

I did hitch upon solving the duo of WONDERBRAS / UNLADYLIKE in a male constructor's puzzle. The latter especially — a debut to the NYT — gave me a strange vibe I couldn't quite explain. They're not crass in the way that I found PLAYBOY MANSION / TOPLESS DANCERS to be. So I was extremely glad to read Andrew's thoughtful commentary — nice to hear his take on the charged nature of UNLADYLIKE and how WONDERBRAS empowered Herzigová.

I like SETH MEYERS as a comedian, and he gets millions of Google hits due to his SNL and his Late Night gigs, so he seems worthy of being a feature entry in a themeless. But this puzzle had so many other proper names that all in all it felt like too much. INGA. CASS. KIROV. AILEY. ROREM. TSO. OHARE. LYLE. LE CID. HAYS. AGRA. I like some proper names in a puzzle, but too many and it starts to feel like a trivia match instead of a crossword. Most entries are significant enough that NYT solvers really ought to know them, but some seem debatable.

A couple of clues that are likely to stump some (they stumped me!):

  • How is AGRA an [Indian drawer?]? Think about "drawer" as "something that draws … tourists" (and then groan)
  • TOED apparently means "driven obliquely," as in a nail.
  • "Tennie" is slang for a singular SNEAKER, as in "tennies" (aka "tennis shoes") for SNEAKERs.
  • ITT Tech might not be as famous as Cal Tech, but Google shows it's quite a sprawling for-profit institute. Plus, Caltech is usually represented as one word.

Loved the clue for ASH — [Camel droppings?] as in "droppings from Camel cigarettes." Hilarious!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1218 ( 24,146 )
Across
1
Prison design that allows surveillance of any inmate at any time : PANOPTICON
11
Indian drawer? : AGRA
15
Nickname since 1959 : ALOHASTATE
16
Drove diagonally : TOED
17
High-grade sheet material : PIMACOTTON
18
Smidge : MITE
19
Mission directive : ABORT
20
Seventy-somethings? : CEES
22
Go out for a bit? : NAP
23
Virginia ___, first English child born in America (1587) : DARE
24
Things opened by many employees, for short : IRAS
26
Tag line? : NOTIT
28
It's an honour, in brief : OBE
29
Sports org. founded during W.W. I : NHL
30
First name in W.W. II : ENOLA
31
Reality show gear, informally : CAMS
33
Mutual dislike : NOLOVELOST
36
"Bertha" composer : ROREM
38
Company for which Rudolf Nureyev once danced : KIROV
39
Products once advertised with the slogan "Hello boys" : WONDERBRAS
42
___ Bank : WEST
45
Spinach : Florentine :: ___ : lyonnaise : ONION
46
See : EYE
47
Stuff of life : RNA
48
Massenet opera set in 11th-century Spain : LECID
49
___ Gilbert, designer of the Supreme Court building : CASS
50
Summer coolers : ADES
51
Philistines, to the Israelites : FOE
52
Lock horns (with) : SPAR
54
Coins worth 100 kurus each : LIRAS
55
Actress Swenson : INGA
57
Coarse, per etiquette manuals : UNLADYLIKE
60
Something shown to an usher : STUB
61
Volume : NOISELEVEL
62
Fort ___, Kan. : HAYS
63
TV host who succeeded Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night" : SETHMEYERS
Down
1
Nickname of the dictator who created the Tontons Macoutes : PAPADOC
2
Cassim's brother of folklore : ALIBABA
3
"The gloves are off" : NOMOREMRNICEGUY
4
L's end? : OHARE
5
Bargain : PACT
6
Eponymous general : TSO
7
___ Tech : ITT
8
Rude cry : CATCALL
9
Tribe once along the Big Blue River : OTOES
10
15-Across symbol : NENE
11
Bill passer? : ATM
12
Turn on the jets : GOINTOOVERDRIVE
13
Goes (for) : RETAILS
14
Capable of doing well : ADEPTAT
21
Sign of villainy : SNEER
24
Kind of circle : INNER
25
Diamond, e.g. : RHOMB
27
Simmering, say : ONLOW
32
"Same here!" : SODOI
34
Initials, perhaps : OKAYS
35
Grippers : VISES
37
Tears : RENDS
39
Fierce and rapacious : WOLFISH
40
New York home of Hartwick College : ONEONTA
41
Like E.T. riding Elliott's bicycle : REARLIT
43
Tennie : SNEAKER
44
Curtain hangers? : TASSELS
49
Portaged item : CANOE
50
"Revelations" choreographer : AILEY
53
Salon names like Scissors Palace and Curl Up & Dye : PUNS
54
Sparky of the 1970s Yankees : LYLE
56
Core components : ABS
58
Camel droppings? : ASH
59
Blue Stater, for short : DEM

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

Found bugs or have suggestions?