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New York Times, Friday, December 18, 2015

Author: Andrew Zhou
Editor: Will Shortz
Andrew Zhou
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1411/11/20109/3/20170
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2011532
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65230

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

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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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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.

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