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New York Times, Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5012/11/20118/8/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962202
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes:
Out of nowhere, it popped into my head one day that [Holy cow] would make a suitable clue for ZOUNDS as well as ZEBU. Whether this ... read more

Out of nowhere, it popped into my head one day that [Holy cow] would make a suitable clue for ZOUNDS as well as ZEBU. Whether this kind of spontaneous realization is a sign of improving thematic awareness or an indication of deteriorating mental stability I'll leave for you readers to decide. The smart money's on the latter, since I'm not sure I was ever playing with a full deck to begin with. More like with a euchre deck, say.

Anyway, the hope that enough similar combos would constitute a decent theme led me to start searching for others. Discovering CURSES / BOWS was the crucial point of construction, as this puzzle, at least in its present form, might have proved impossible to build without it. In fact, if I hadn't found those symmetrical entries for the SE corner, I probably would have abandoned the effort altogether. ZOUNDS / ZEBU was just too nice of a combo, in my opinion, to contemplate making the puzzle without.

Will and Joel caught and fixed a subtle but dumb oversight of mine, replacing DARN with DAMN at 7a. DAMN *was* in that spot in earlier drafts, but I changed it to DARN for some unimportant reason, completely overlooking the resultant duplication. It was downright mortifying to think that I'd compromised the puzzle with something so easily corrected, all the more so considering that I'd noticed the mistake myself but hadn't yet submitted my own revision. But they did correct it, and relief washed over me in an awesome wave. So, GRAZIE MILLE, MERCI BEAUCOUP, MUCHAS GRACIAS.

Bonus points for identifying the movie paraphrased above. "Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?"

Jeff Chen notes:
What an amusing theme idea, a word / phrase describing an outburst in the across direction and a normal word in the down. And each ... read more

What an amusing theme idea, a word / phrase describing an outburst in the across direction and a normal word in the down. And each pair crosses at beginning or ending letters! I'm not totally sure I understand the concept — some sort of revealer would have been very helpful to clarify the idea — but I liked it enough that I was willing to go with the flow.

Amazing job of filling. In the past, I've gone on and on about the difficulties of peripheral theme answer layouts, and I've also warned about crossing themers causing distress. Here, Tim goes big by drawing a little from both — quite a challenge. I kept on expecting to see piles of glue glorped all around, especially in the NW and SE corners, but to my surprise, it never really came. Sure, there are some awkward spots like ONE EYE / AYR / ENOUNCE, but even that was fairly minor. ALGAL feels like an odd duck even though it's a perfectly cromulent word, and the ECU has long gone by the wayside, but a few of them here and there are well worth the crazy amount of interlocking goodness.

The Mandelbrot set

And check out the center, the piece de resistance. With two long slots to fill, plus BLAST and SHOOT already fixed into place, there's not a lot of freedom there. But Tim works in PAT BOONE and my favorite answer in the grid, FRACTALS. He even tosses in FAN BELT off of the F of FRACTALS. It's beautiful work.

I would have loved some sort of "does double duty" type of concept connecting everything together, but I'm not sure what that would be. Seeing as how I had to rewrite my first paragraph six times before really feeling like I got the explanation correct (am I still missing anything?), a revealer to give me a quick and description would have been ideal. But overall, I enjoyed the solve.

1
Z
2
O
3
U
4
N
5
D
6
S
7
D
8
A
9
M
10
N
11
W
12
O
13
W
14
E
X
P
E
R
T
15
A
L
A
I
16
A
N
A
17
B
E
R
A
T
E
18
F
L
I
X
19
L
E
N
20
U
N
I
T
21
A
22
P
T
23
T
O
24
M
T
I
T
25
S
I
26
T
K
A
27
F
A
N
B
E
L
T
28
C
29
H
I
D
E
30
T
31
E
R
I
32
A
R
L
O
33
P
A
N
E
L
34
B
L
A
S
35
T
36
A
L
G
A
L
37
O
R
C
38
R
39
E
40
F
41
E
42
R
43
S
44
H
O
O
T
45
E
M
O
T
E
46
D
47
O
48
H
49
S
50
E
N
Y
A
51
A
B
R
A
M
52
E
N
O
U
53
N
C
E
54
L
55
E
T
I
T
56
F
E
M
B
O
T
57
S
S
T
58
T
R
59
I
60
B
61
R
E
B
62
T
A
63
R
O
64
H
65
E
T
E
R
O
66
A
Y
R
67
C
R
O
C
68
I
C
E
S
A
W
69
G
E
E
70
H
E
C
K
71
C
U
R
S
E
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1202 ( 23,765 )
Across
1
"Holy cow!" : ZOUNDS
7
"Nuts!" : DAMN
11
"Great Scott!" : WOW
14
Old hand : EXPERT
15
Jai ___ : ALAI
16
Santa ___ winds : ANA
17
Rake over the coals : BERATE
18
Movies, informally : FLIX
19
Football Hall-of-Famer Ford : LEN
20
Textbook segment : UNIT
21
Likely : APT
23
Small songbird : TOMTIT
25
Alaska city that's larger in area than Rhode Island or Delaware : SITKA
27
Auto part driven by the crankshaft : FANBELT
28
Admonish : CHIDE
30
Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives" : TERI
32
Guthrie who sang at Woodstock : ARLO
33
Sunday morning talk show assemblage : PANEL
34
"Fudge!" : BLAST
36
Harmful ___ bloom (aquatic growth) : ALGAL
37
Fabled monster in English literature : ORC
38
Send someplace else : REFER
43
"Rats!" : SHOOT
45
Theatricalize : EMOTE
46
Exclamations often made with head-slaps : DOHS
50
One-named singer with four Grammys : ENYA
51
James ___ Garfield : ABRAM
52
Declare : ENOUNCE
54
Words before go or ride : LETIT
56
Seductive "Austin Powers" android : FEMBOT
57
Jet for the jet set : SST
58
Common newspaper nickname : TRIB
61
Stars and Bars soldier, informally : REB
62
Polynesian dietary staple : TARO
64
Straight : HETERO
66
Port on the Firth of Clyde : AYR
67
Cold-blooded killer, for short : CROC
68
Tool for fishing a frozen river : ICESAW
69
"Man!" : GEE
70
"Darn it!" : HECK
71
"Fiddlesticks!" : CURSES
Down
1
Holy cow : ZEBU
2
Wagon pullers : OXEN
3
It's a riot : UPRISING
4
Bit of cleverness : NEATIDEA
5
2000 Richard Gere title role : DRT
6
T-bone, e.g. : STEAK
7
Nuts : DAFT
8
Entirely : ALL
9
Drinks at Trader Vic's : MAITAIS
10
Landslide winner of 1972 : NIXON
11
Great Scott : WALTER
12
"Ah, Wilderness!" playwright : ONEILL
13
"Are you game?" : WANTTO
22
"April Love" singer, 1957 : PATBOONE
24
Wall St. credential : MBA
26
Rats : TELLS
27
Infinitely repeating geometric patterns : FRACTALS
28
Ernst & Young employee, for short : CPA
29
Drinking buddy for Falstaff : HAL
31
Boy's name that means "the king" : ELROY
35
Fudge : TREAT
39
Alienate : EMBITTER
40
Citadel : FORTRESS
41
H as in Heracles : ETA
42
Radiation dosage : REM
44
100 meters x 100 meters : HECTARE
46
Reorganize computer data to improve performance, informally : DEFRAG
47
What the wary keep open while sleeping : ONEEYE
48
Man : HOMBRE
49
Benchwarmer : SUB
53
V-shaped cut : NOTCH
55
Moral tenet : ETHIC
57
Darn it : SOCK
59
"Dies ___" : IRAE
60
Fiddlesticks : BOWS
63
Fabled monster in Arabic literature : ROC
65
Old French coin : ECU

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?