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New York Times, Friday, December 19, 2014

Author:
Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
522/19/20056/10/201925
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
011201434
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60001
Brad Wilber
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
452/20/20069/26/201925
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
3273212142
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63300
Doug Peterson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 30 Missing: {HQZ} This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Wilber. This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Peterson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Brad:: I had the stack in the SW and was struggling with the 'J' in JOE CAMEL. Neither any 15s nor any 7s with J in that position ... read more

Brad::

I had the stack in the SW and was struggling with the "J" in JOE CAMEL. Neither any 15s nor any 7s with J in that position spoke to me. Enter Doug, who really got us unstuck with O.J. TRIAL. Lots of the fresh stuff here you owe to him. Some of my favorite clues include the ones we had for TRIX, OFFAL, and NEC. It might be worth noting that 25A is a terrific scene from Don Carlo, my favorite Verdi piece and quite possibly my favorite opera, period.

Doug:

Joe Camel shower curtain

Why would anyone want a JOE CAMEL shower curtain? And yet, back in the heyday of Joe Camel, that was one of the promotional items you could get for turning in proof-of-purchase slips called "Camel Cash." I'm not sure why I know or remember that. As for the O.J. TRIAL, I remember almost everything about that. I lived in Southern California in 1995, and it was impossible to escape the wall-to-wall coverage. Let's see what else is in the grid: DRACO MALFOY? I know a little about him, even though *gasp* I've never read a single "Harry Potter" book. I don't think either one of us has. So, no spoilers, please.

Jeff Chen notes:
Always a treat to see the Wilberson byline. Today's puzzle gives us an impressive 16 entries of 8+ letters. Loved seeing OLIVER TWIST. ... read more

Always a treat to see the Wilberson byline. Today's puzzle gives us an impressive 16 entries of 8+ letters. Loved seeing OLIVER TWIST. SEATTLE SLEW and its great clue that misdirected toward an Olympic track star. LEAD VOCALS. JOE CAMEL with a brilliant [Pack animal?] clue. FIGURE SKATE. So much goodness packed into a single grid.

And what a conversion rate! Out of those 16 key slots, really only REST AREA and STENO PADS stand out to me as so-so, mainly because their common letters make them frequently used in themelesses. That's 14 great long entries, a huge quantity for one puzzle. Throw in the confusing OJT???? pattern of OJ TRIAL and it's impressive how many assets this duo works in.

Not without a price, though. The stacks of 11s in the NW and SE corner already force six three-letter words into the grid design, and we get up to a whopping 17 three-letter words in total. That's not always bad if they can be disguised as the normal CRY, ELK, OPS, SPA, TON, YEW types of entries. But when about half of them are of the AFR, AMO, ATO, DIR, NEC variety, it becomes quite noticeable.

It is a valiant attempt to save NEC with a clever clue. But for those who don't already know that NEC sells semiconductor chips, this wordplay clue has more potential to cause further annoyance at seeing NEC rather than rescuing it.

Draco Malfoy

I bet DRACO MALFOY will be a divisive entry. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I knew it right off the top, which was a lot of fun. But as characters go, he's pretty one-dimensional. SEVERUS SNAPE, who's probably as recognizable to non-HP fans as DRACO MALFOY, is my choice for the antihero of our time.

(SPOILER ALERT!) The love of Snape's life slowly outgrowing their childhood friendship. A turn toward the power and social status offered by the Death Eaters. Snape's role in leading to He Who Shall Not Be Named taking Lily Potter's life. Seeing in Harry Potter's face two clashing elements: Lily's eyes, but also the features of Harry's father — Snape's mortal enemy. And the piece de resistance, Snape's final sacrifice.

Oh right, this post is supposed to be about crosswords, (sadly) not about Harry Potter. Anyway, a ton of great assets, offset by a good number of liabilities.

1
S
2
P
3
A
4
O
5
L
6
I
7
V
8
E
9
R
10
T
11
W
12
I
13
S
14
T
15
T
O
N
16
P
I
R
A
T
E
R
A
D
I
O
17
E
L
K
18
S
T
A
N
D
S
A
L
O
N
E
19
N
O
L
20
O
21
E
N
E
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T
U
L
L
E
S
23
O
P
E
N
24
M
R
I
S
25
A
M
O
26
P
O
S
E
A
S
27
T
R
A
W
28
L
29
S
30
A
N
T
S
Y
31
A
32
C
R
E
33
S
E
E
34
R
35
D
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36
O
37
J
T
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I
A
38
L
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A
N
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40
S
E
A
41
L
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O
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Y
X
43
A
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D
D
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S
P
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46
R
E
A
47
B
R
A
V
O
S
48
N
E
C
49
T
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O
Y
S
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O
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E
51
P
52
E
53
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E
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A
54
A
F
R
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A
C
I
D
56
D
R
A
C
O
M
57
A
L
F
O
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Y
59
A
T
O
60
F
I
G
U
R
E
S
K
A
T
E
61
L
I
U
62
S
E
A
T
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L
E
S
L
E
W
63
S
S
T
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1219 ( 23,782 )

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Across
1
There's the rub! : SPA
4
Novel subtitled "The Parish Boy's Progress" : OLIVERTWIST
15
Lot : TON
16
Underground waves? : PIRATERADIO
17
Animal on the Michigan state flag : ELK
18
Is beyond compare : STANDSALONE
19
Plea opener : NOLO
21
Heading from Okla. City to Tulsa : ENE
22
Gown maker's supply : TULLES
23
Tests that accommodate claustrophobes : OPENMRIS
25
"Ella giammai m'___" (Verdi aria) : AMO
26
Pretend to be : POSEAS
27
Casts a wide net? : TRAWLS
30
Rarin' to go : ANTSY
31
Lot, maybe : ACRE
33
Tiresias in "Oedipus Rex," e.g. : SEER
35
Heading: Abbr. : DIR
36
Major media event of '95 : OJTRIAL
39
"Star Wars" boy, informally : ANI
40
Vacuum maintainer : SEAL
42
"Scimitar-horned" creature : ORYX
43
Find a spot for, say : ADDIN
45
Flowering shrub whose name comes from the Greek for "coil" : SPIREA
47
Chorus of approval : BRAVOS
48
Big name in chips : NEC
49
Play house? : TOYSTORE
51
Coin with a picture of un rey : PESETA
54
About 28% of the U.N.: Abbr. : AFR
55
Indigestion cause : ACID
56
Fictional school bully with henchmen named Crabbe and Goyle : DRACOMALFOY
59
Volume 1 starter, maybe : ATO
60
Practice swizzles and twizzles, say : FIGURESKATE
61
Dr. Watson portrayer on CBS's "Elementary" : LIU
62
Track star of 1977 : SEATTLESLEW
63
Craft that must overcome wave drag, in brief : SST
Down
1
Quaint office supply : STENOPADS
2
Ones involved in horseplay? : POLOPONIES
3
Stiletto attachment, perhaps : ANKLESTRAP
4
Ending with psy- : OPS
5
Some bottled water purchases : LITERS
6
Almost any character in Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" : IRANI
7
Turbine blades : VANES
8
Gate approx. : ETD
9
Where you might see someone walk the dog : RESTAREA
10
___ center : TRAUMA
11
Indulges oneself, in a way : WALLOWS
12
Fan fixation : IDOL
13
0, for 180 degrees : SINE
14
Tips of wingtips : TOES
20
Common notes : ONES
24
Subway option : MAYO
27
Cereal that reverted to spherical shapes in 2007 : TRIX
28
Frontman's assignment : LEADVOCALS
29
Certain drop in motivation : SENIORITIS
31
Gillette brand : ATRA
32
"Extra! Extra!," e.g. : CRY
34
No longer sudsy, say : RINSEDOUT
37
Pack animal? : JOECAMEL
38
Never-seen neighbor on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" : LARS
41
Black-and-white engraving : LINECUT
44
Table filler : DATA
46
Shoot back : RETORT
47
Mechanically : BYROTE
49
Part of SALT : TALKS
50
Some haggis ingredients : OFFAL
51
Many email attachments : PDFS
52
County name in three states : ERIE
53
Novel format : SAGA
57
Enzyme suffix : ASE
58
Tree whose name sounds like a letter of the alphabet : YEW

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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