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New York Times, Friday, December 23, 2016

Author:
Robyn Weintraub
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
203/28/201112/29/20180
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02320112
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1.58000
Robyn Weintraub

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 31 Missing: {JQUWX} This is puzzle # 10 for Ms. Weintraub. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Robyn Weintraub notes:
This is my third puzzle in 2016, and my third Friday overall. Although I will happily return to themed puzzles when an interesting ... read more

This is my third puzzle in 2016, and my third Friday overall. Although I will happily return to themed puzzles when an interesting idea comes along, for now, I prefer focusing on the grids and cramming as many fun entries in as possible. Also, I learned a while back that female constructors are underrepresented on Friday and Saturday (not that we're all that well represented during the other five days of the week...), so by concentrating on themeless puzzles I'm doing what I can for the team.

As for this particular puzzle, my favorite entries are TRACTOR BEAM, CASH ADVANCE, KNOCK OVER and IMPRESS ME. I like the clue for BATCAVE, even though ‘Robin' isn't spelled correctly. And finally, I can't help but wonder if this puzzle's publication date of December 23 is in any way related to the final Across entry: SECRET SANTA.

Happy 2017 everyone!

Jeff Chen notes:
Robin, you had me at TRACTOR BEAM. Not everyone will know what this, but those of us that do will screech HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A ... read more

Robin, you had me at TRACTOR BEAM. Not everyone will know what this, but those of us that do will screech HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHAT A TRACTOR BEAM IS? Probably in Klingon.

(It's a sci-fi beam using a graviton interference pattern to draw in an object. Duh.)

A lot of strong entries, highlighted by TRACTOR BEAM, CASH ADVANCE, GREEN SCREEN, and SECRET SANTA. Also nice: STARGAZER and IMPRESS ME anchoring the other two corners.

I wonder if some solvers will be offended by SECRET SANTA? It's fun for me, but it's certainly possible that it'll bring up unpleasant feelings of being outside the Christmas-focused culture in Murica.

It's tough to make your mid-length slots sing, but Robin does it in spades with BATCAVE. Not only is this a fantastic entry in itself, but the clue is so innocent. [Robin's refuge] surely means AVIARY? Not when the clue hides the capitalized R of Robin, Batman's sidekick. Awesome!

For me, the black square layout would have been a non-starter. That diagonal across the middle cuts the puzzle in two, only a single word connecting the halves on each end. Some constructors use a rule of thumb that if placing a pair of black squares anywhere results in two disconnected puzzle halves, that's a no-go.

For me, much more important is: how many answers connect the halves? If the black square above BETSY was turned into a white square, that would have allowed for a pair of answers to connect the halves at both top and bottom. Right now, if you can't figure out CBATTERY or NOSTRILS, that wall of black squares might as well be the Berlin wall.

Robyn uses such great entries — last time it was MIRACLE MAX and JEDI MASTER — right on my wavelength. Like the last one, there's too much crossword glue in this puzzle for my taste — ENE, MST, RELET, HRE, ACTA, SITA — making it feel rough around the edges, but I have a strong feeling that soon, Robin will be turning out themelesses that have the same sizzle without these crutches. The Force is strong with this one!

Jim Horne notes:

To Ms. Weintraub's point, in 2016, there were only 9 Friday and 6 Saturday daily crosswords by women.

1
T
2
R
3
A
4
C
5
T
6
O
7
R
8
B
9
E
10
A
11
M
12
D
13
S
14
L
15
C
A
S
H
A
D
V
A
N
C
E
16
E
T
A
17
E
M
P
I
R
E
S
T
A
T
E
18
F
A
D
19
L
I
E
T
O
20
C
B
A
T
21
T
E
R
Y
22
L
E
N
A
23
A
24
R
A
L
25
E
N
G
26
C
R
A
V
E
27
B
A
S
A
28
L
29
S
30
K
31
I
32
L
O
D
G
E
33
R
E
S
I
Z
E
34
I
N
M
A
T
E
S
35
G
E
T
E
V
E
N
36
T
O
P
T
E
N
37
H
I
P
S
T
E
R
S
38
A
C
R
E
S
39
T
A
L
L
Y
40
K
E
N
41
O
R
L
Y
42
H
43
O
44
R
45
A
46
N
O
S
T
47
R
48
I
L
S
49
T
Y
L
E
R
50
I
V
S
51
I
N
T
H
52
E
53
M
I
D
D
L
E
54
G
E
M
55
G
R
E
E
N
S
C
R
E
E
N
56
H
R
E
57
S
E
C
R
E
T
S
A
N
T
A
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1223 ( 24,517 )
Across
1
One may hold a ship in place : TRACTORBEAM
12
Network initials : DSL
15
Visa option : CASHADVANCE
16
It resembles an "n" when lowercase : ETA
17
Northeast nickname, with "the" : EMPIRESTATE
18
Man buns, e.g. : FAD
19
Remain stationary while facing the wind, in nautical lingo : LIETO
20
Toy car driver? : CBATTERY
22
Actress Headey of "Game of Thrones" : LENA
23
___ Sea, now four lakes : ARAL
25
A.C.T. subj. : ENG
26
Jones for : CRAVE
27
___ metabolism : BASAL
29
Warm spot in the snow : SKILODGE
33
Crop, e.g. : RESIZE
34
Life partners? : INMATES
35
Square things : GETEVEN
36
Many a listicle : TOPTEN
37
Stereotypical man bun sporters : HIPSTERS
38
Plot elements? : ACRES
39
Keep score, say : TALLY
40
Understanding : KEN
41
Eponymous Paris suburb : ORLY
42
Circle of friends at a party, perhaps : HORA
46
Breathers? : NOSTRILS
49
Harrison's vice president : TYLER
50
Hospital lines, briefly : IVS
51
Like moderates, politically : INTHEMIDDLE
54
Beaut : GEM
55
Common film background : GREENSCREEN
56
Francis II dissolved it in 1806: Abbr. : HRE
57
Game for the gifted? : SECRETSANTA
Down
1
Immune system component : TCELL
2
Strong fiber : RAMIE
3
Tree that can survive forest fires : ASPEN
4
Tony winner Rivera : CHITA
5
Elephant's-ear : TARO
6
Sappho dedicated one to Aphrodite : ODE
7
National park sights : RVS
8
Robin's refuge : BATCAVE
9
Permit : ENABLE
10
Official records : ACTA
11
Swim ___ : MEET
12
Like a watchful driver : DEFENSIVE
13
Copernicus, for one : STARGAZER
14
Disney toon often pictured eating spaghetti : LADY
21
Social group? : TEASET
23
Shakespearean forest : ARDEN
24
Impoverished state : RAGS
26
Shelters for sheep : COTES
27
___ DeVos, noted school choice advocate : BETSY
28
Contact, say : LENS
29
Rama's wife, in Hinduism : SITA
30
Upset : KNOCKOVER
31
"Let's see what you've got" : IMPRESSME
32
Hidden : LATENT
33
Thread part : REPLY
35
Bass organ : GILL
37
More caustic : HARSHER
39
Pre-Columbian civilization : TOLTEC
42
Hercules slew it : HYDRA
43
Bygone : OLDEN
44
Filled again, as a flat : RELET
45
Circus Maximus, e.g. : ARENA
46
Virtually : NIGH
47
Fixes badly? : RIGS
48
Subject preceder : INRE
49
Little jerks : TICS
52
Suffix indicating a double bond : ENE
53
Boulder setting: Abbr. : MST

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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