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New York Times, Monday, December 2, 2019

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9012/9/197912/2/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
664142130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610912
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JKQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 90 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Lynn puts herself in limbo today. Get it, limbo? Because she lowered the bar? Speaking of lowering the bar, I'll be here all week, ... read more

Lynn puts herself in limbo today. Get it, limbo? Because she lowered the bar?

Speaking of lowering the bar, I'll be here all week, folks!

Making a trigram descend is not a novel idea – the one Mary Lou Guizzo and I did a few years ago is just one in this theme class – but Lynn executed it so well. The breakdown:

  1. Well-hidden BARs. No BAR OF SOAP or HEATH BAR CRUNCH or DIVE BAR. I had no idea what was going on until I hit the revealer, and that made for a snappy a-ha moment. Lynn even avoided the BAR sound completely. SANTA BARBARA might have been too overt, for instance.
  2. Judicious BAR spacing. It is possible to get the BARs on a perfect diagonal line, but that requires either the themers to be in columns 4/6/8/10/12, or 2/5/8/11/14. Both of those present technical difficulties, especially when you have Monday smoothness as a target. Lynn's BARs don't lie on a perfectly straight line, but that's hard to see, even if you use a ruler. Fine compromise.
  3. Great execution around themers. Typically, you'd space out CABARETS and LOWER THE BAR by placing the former at the top of the grid and the latter at the bottom, to minimize overlap. Today though, you need to keep both of them toward the bottom. That should cause problems in the SE corner, but Lynn just shrugs it off and produces a silky smooth result, even tossing in some DASHES and SELECT.

When it comes to puzzles featuring down-oriented themers, Will Shortz is laxer than other editors about including long across fill, not worrying about muddying up the theme. Today, I like the inclusion of BOARD GAME. That provides color, important since there's not much room for down-oriented long fill (the five themers take up too much space). I'd have loved for READS UP ON to be as snazzy as BOARD GAME, but what can you do.

Same sentiment for the assemblage of ABBR / NGO / ECTO in the NW corner, but that's a reasonable result, given the level of technical difficulty.

Overall, a Monday offering I'd happily give to a newb. I'd likely have to circle the BARs for them afterward, as they're easy to miss (see below for highlighting), but that only shows them how much a genius me be.

1
L
2
A
3
B
4
O
5
R
6
A
7
L
8
P
9
S
10
H
11
E
12
M
13
S
14
E
V
A
D
E
15
B
I
T
E
16
U
R
G
E
17
G
O
R
E
D
18
B
O
A
R
19
D
G
A
M
E
20
O
W
E
21
B
22
U
R
N
23
M
O
E
24
S
A
M
25
B
A
S
26
E
27
G
O
S
28
L
29
A
30
P
31
L
I
A
R
S
32
L
O
N
E
33
S
O
M
E
34
N
G
O
35
M
B
A
S
36
E
W
E
S
37
F
38
E
I
G
N
39
Y
A
P
40
C
R
E
S
T
41
A
C
M
E
42
O
G
R
E
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A
I
R
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S
T
U
D
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Y
F
O
R
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A
B
E
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47
S
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T
O
M
49
A
N
D
Y
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D
A
S
H
E
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S
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H
M
O
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M
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O
O
R
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E
L
I
56
R
57
E
58
A
D
S
U
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P
O
N
60
E
61
B
B
E
D
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N
E
A
T
63
S
O
R
E
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T
R
A
C
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S
L
A
V
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E
X
E
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S
O
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T
S
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 1202 ( 25,591 )
Across
1
Process of childbirth : LABOR
6
Mountains seen in "The Sound of Music" : ALPS
10
Adjusts lengthwise, as a skirt : HEMS
14
Manage to dodge : EVADE
15
"I'll ___" ("Try me") : BITE
16
Impulse : URGE
17
Hurt in the bullring : GORED
18
Scrabble or Monopoly : BOARDGAME
20
Be obligated to : OWE
21
Set on fire : BURN
23
Curly and Shemp's fellow Stooge : MOE
24
Syncopated Latin dances : SAMBAS
26
Rational selves, to Freud : EGOS
28
Place to set a baby or a napkin : LAP
31
Nigerian princes offering you money, probably : LIARS
32
Craving companionship : LONESOME
34
Assn. like Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders : NGO
35
Degs. for entrepreneurs : MBAS
36
___ milk (source of Roquefort cheese) : EWES
37
Pretend : FEIGN
39
High cry at doggie day care : YAP
40
High point : CREST
41
High point : ACME
42
Fearsome figure of folklore : OGRE
43
Flat tire's need : AIR
44
Prepare to take, as a test : STUDYFOR
46
Helps with a heist : ABETS
48
Piper's son who stole a pig in a nursery rhyme : TOM
49
Tennis great Roddick : ANDY
50
Morse code O's have three of them : DASHES
52
Grp. of medical providers : HMO
53
Othello, e.g. : MOOR
55
Cotton gin inventor Whitney : ELI
56
Learns about through books : READSUPON
60
Flowed out, as the tide : EBBED
62
All tidied up : NEAT
63
Painful to the touch : SORE
64
Vestige : TRACE
65
Many an Eastern European : SLAV
66
Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, to Madonna : EXES
67
Puts into categories : SORTS
Down
1
Kids' construction bricks : LEGOS
2
Statement of affirmation : AVOWAL
3
Smallest possible amount : BAREMINIMUM
4
Beethoven's "___ to Joy" : ODE
5
W.W. I fighter pilot who is Snoopy's fantasy opponent : REDBARON
6
Shortened word, for short : ABBR
7
Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life" : LIONELBARRYMORE
8
School grp. for moms and dads : PTA
9
Church talks : SERMONS
10
Colossal : HUGE
11
Distinctive stretch of time : ERA
12
Film studio with a roaring lion : MGM
13
"Get it?" : SEE
19
Spoonful of medicine, e.g. : DOSE
22
Letters on some American naval vessels : USS
25
Ready to take home, as groceries : BAGGED
27
Flip out : GOAPE
28
Reduce one's standards, as illustrated, respectively, in 3-, 5-, 7-, 40- and 28-Down : LOWERTHEBAR
29
City that's home to Iowa State : AMES
30
Boll weevil, to a cotton farmer : PEST
33
World ___ of Poker : SERIES
35
"Sheesh!" : MYGOD
37
Observe Ramadan : FAST
38
Prefix with plasm : ECTO
40
Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical : CABARETS
42
Pointless : OFNOUSE
45
Candied Thanksgiving servings : YAMS
46
Hullabaloo : ADO
47
Opt for : SELECT
51
French fries and coleslaw, often : SIDES
52
Modern viewing for couch potatoes : HDTV
54
Change for a five, say : ONES
56
Many I.C.U. workers : RNS
57
Long-bodied fish : EEL
58
High bond rating : AAA
59
Disease that causes a skin rash : POX
61
Male buddy : BRO

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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