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New York Times, Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FQVXZ} This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes:
This puzzle was created roughly a year ago. Therefore, the message hidden in the twelfth row (highlighted below in green) is as seasonally ... read more

This puzzle was created roughly a year ago. Therefore, the message hidden in the twelfth row (highlighted below in green) is as seasonally appropriate now as it was during the puzzle's creation.

Jeff Chen notes:
There's a lot I appreciate about Jim (Horne), and one aspect that continues to amaze me is how differently we see puzzles. I missed some ... read more

There's a lot I appreciate about Jim (Horne), and one aspect that continues to amaze me is how differently we see puzzles. I missed some aspects of this puzzle the first time around, and it wasn't until Jim and I talked shop that I started to really appreciate it. Tom uses a great revealer — SINGULAR — to mean "a term used in the SINGULAR." But he also uses the second definition of SINGULAR — atypical — to describe four words rarely used in their singular form.

A scissor lift

PAJAMA PARTY is the perfect example. This is a widely used phrase, and when else are you going to say "pajama" in the singular (besides PAJAMA TOP or BOTTOM)? Same goes for SCISSOR KICK. (Well, there's SCISSOR LIFT (mechanical engineering) the SCISSOR COUP (bridge, or course!), the SCISSOR GRIP (wrestling), but none of these pop quite as much as SCISSOR KICK.)

Jim and I still disagree on TROUSER PRESS. I admit my knowledge of clothing is poor, but PANTS PRESS sounded like the more common term. Google sides with Jim, with many more hits for TROUSER PRESS, and on Amazon.com, they have a "trouser press" section … but most of the products are listed as "pants presses." Hmm.

I would say I need a new "lens for my sunglasses," not a new "sunglass lens," but I can see people saying both. Anyway, fun to discuss these issues.

I usually really admire Tom's math/sci bent. The clue for SUM looked too confusing, though, and I skipped it. Thankfully I went back to it to decipher its meaning! What the clue is trying to say is that if you want to SUM the numbers from 1 to n, you can use a formula: n*(n+1)/2. For example, the SUM of the numbers from 1 to 100 = (100*101)/2 = 5050.

There's a famous myth about the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss — one of his teachers wanted to keep him occupied and gave him the task of adding the numbers from 1 to 100. Gauss supposedly finished in minutes, using mathematical reasoning. Pretty darn cool.

So, a lot of interesting aspects to this puzzle, with some nice bonus fill in LEAP SECOND, I THINK I CAN, etc.

Jim Horne notes:
Since Jeff called me out, let me try to defend myself and this theme. English is full of amusing curiosities, and one of the curiouser is that ... read more

Since Jeff called me out, let me try to defend myself and this theme. English is full of amusing curiosities, and one of the curiouser is that some nouns exist only in plural form (you can't use a scissor or wear a pajama, a sunglass, or a trouser) yet when they're used as adjectives, they are singular. Why? It's a mystery. And like most amusing curiosities of English, it makes for a fine word puzzle theme.

If math puzzles are more your thing, proving that integers from 1 to n sum to n(n+1)/2 is a fun challenge. Try drawing pictures. You'll get a nice Aha moment when you realize why it works.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1222 ( 24,150 )
Across
1
Zealous : ARDENT
7
Meh : BLAH
11
River near the Valley of the Kings : NILE
15
Avoid attention : LIELOW
16
Weapon in Clue : ROPE
17
One of 10, say, in a supermarket's express checkout lane : ITEM
18
Kids' event that goes into the wee hours : PAJAMAPARTY
20
Convo : CHAT
21
Throw (together) : SLAP
22
In stitches : SEWN
23
Lay's product : CHIPS
24
Something in a movie star's frame? : SUNGLASSLENS
28
Condensed periodical : DIGEST
31
___ sour (drink) : WHISKEY
33
Pianist's practice piece : ETUDE
34
Mount of the Bible : SINAI
37
Water, potentially : ICE
38
Symbol for water potential : PSI
39
Atypical ... or like the first word in the answer to 18-, 24-, 51- or 62-Across : SINGULAR
42
Spare bed, often : COT
43
One of the kings in the Valley of the Kings, informally : TUT
44
See 8-Down : DOONE
45
Dweller on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula : OMANI
47
Like the population of Alaska vis-à-vis New Jersey : SPARSER
50
What the remorseful might make : AMENDS
51
Certain wrinkle remover : TROUSERPRESS
55
Meh : HOHUM
56
Weeding tools : HOES
57
Clog or pump : SHOE
61
Word with googly or goo-goo : EYES
62
Sidestroke component : SCISSORKICK
65
Mythos : LORE
66
Gives two big thumbs down : PANS
67
Ballet position on tiptoe : POINTE
68
The Black Keys and the White Stripes : DUOS
69
Relief provider for a burn : ALOE
70
Altercations : SETTOS
Down
1
Mont Blanc and Matterhorn : ALPS
2
Iranian currency : RIAL
3
___ vu : DEJA
4
Slipped by : ELAPSED
5
___ de plume : NOM
6
Quaint three-word contraction : TWASNT
7
Melee : BRAWL
8
With 44-Across, 1869 romance by R. D. Blackmore : LORNA
9
Fitting : APT
10
"Whoa there!" : HEY
11
Recesses : NICHES
12
Mantra of the Little Engine That Could : ITHINKICAN
13
Tiny time adjustment : LEAPSECOND
14
Ambulance workers, for short : EMTS
19
Identify (as) : PEG
23
Roman 151 : CLI
25
Employs : USES
26
Marshy valley : SWALE
27
LaBeouf of "Transformers" : SHIA
28
University divs. : DEPTS
29
Line of latitude : ITSUPTOYOU
30
Popular musical game beginning in 2005 : GUITARHERO
32
Fabled mountain dwellers : YETIS
34
A little night noise : SNORE
35
"Where did ___ wrong?" : IGO
36
Wimple wearer : NUN
40
Midmonth date : IDES
41
CD-___ (storage objects) : ROMS
46
Collection that, despite its name, is orderly and compact : MESSKIT
48
Awakens : ROUSES
49
n(n+1)/2, for all integers from 1 to n : SUM
50
"___ Fables" : AESOPS
52
African animal you might get a charge out of? : RHINO
53
Gang : POSSE
54
Hi-___ monitor : RES
55
Had in hand : HELD
58
When repeated, a subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) comment : HINT
59
Eight: Prefix : OCTO
60
Squeaks (by) : EKES
62
Where you might wear only a towel : SPA
63
Silent ___ (presidential nickname) : CAL
64
Caviar, e.g. : ROE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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