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New York Times, Thursday, December 27, 2018

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
234/17/201412/27/201812
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31143641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61430
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
937/5/20101/11/201955
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467172298
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636192
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 40 Missing: {QUXZ} Grid has diagonal symmetry. This is puzzle # 23 for Ms. Guizzo. This is puzzle # 92 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
MARY LOU: This CONtrail puzzle with the visual element in the black boxes of the grid, five rebus squares and 66 squares devoted to ... read more

MARY LOU: This CONtrail puzzle with the visual element in the black boxes of the grid, five rebus squares and 66 squares devoted to theme answers seemed like a good idea initially. However, it became one of the more labor-intensive 15x grids I've constructed.

Looking back through my email correspondence with Jeff, Will, and Sam, I found six chains with numerous back and forths. Trying to fill the grid cleanly with all these constraints was a challenge. So, I really hope you enjoyed the solve!

Thanks to Jeff for accepting the challenge of working on this puzzle and to Will and Sam on their acceptance and patience in finessing it into its final form.

Jeff Chen notes:
Day 4 of WTF? Week at XWI! I love having the chance to tell people What I'm Thankful For. Today I'm thankful for ML's perseverance. ... read more

Day 4 of WTF? Week at XWI! I love having the chance to tell people What I'm Thankful For.

Today I'm thankful for ML's perseverance. She comes up with some of the toughest concepts of any collaborator, and she doesn't give up when they prove to require dozens of hours to iterate. Never say die!

This grid was one of the top ten hardest 15x15s I've ever worked on — maybe even top five — and I nearly threw in the towel on four separate occasions. Rebus squares are easy to work with, but two in close proximity is asking for trouble.

Five?

FIVE?

I almost said no right from the get-go after I heard that number!

It's so satisfying to have worked through the grinding process and come out with a grid that we're both happy with. I'm so glad that ML included me in this concept – it's a great feeling to have all that hard work lead to a publication.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1227 ( 25,251 )
Across
1. ___ billiards, game on a pocketless table : CAROM
6. Mount whose name means, literally, "I burn" : ETNA
10. Something with teeth : JAW
13. In the course of : ALONG
14. Detached : ALOOF
15. Fed. science org. : EPA
16. Family symbol : TOTEM
17. Flier with a message : SKYWRITER
19. Monomaniac of fiction : AHAB
20. Divisions in the Congressional Record : SESSIONS
21. View remotely? : WATCHTV
23. Sunroof alternative : TTOP
26. "You sti-i-i-ink!" : BOO
27. Follower of clear or cross : EYED
29. "Forever, ___" (1996 humor book) : ERMA
30. Drone's job : AERIALRECON
33. Rod's partner : REEL
34. Realm with an Imperial Diet: Abbr. : HRE
35. Rods' partners : CONES
37. Rival of Cassio : IAGO
38. One might have a wink or a smile : EMOTICON
41. Foreign-born musician with a Presidential Medal of Freedom : YOYOMA
43. Trough filler : SLOP
44. Tin or glass : CONTAINER
46. Business meeting that participants dial into, informally : TELECON
48. Bunch of lovers? : ROSES
49. "Just like that!" : BAM
52. Gray : AGE
53. Words before "a good night" : TOALL
55. Author Calvino : ITALO
57. Former Yankees manager Joe : GIRARDI
59. Crafty person? : ARTISAN
61. It helps keep the machinery running : GEAROIL
62. Does something to a T : NAILSIT
63. Clichéd : STALE
64. "A tyrant's authority for crime and a fool's excuse for failure," per Ambrose Bierce : DESTINY
Down
1. Carolina tribe that allied with the colonists in the American Revolution : CATAWBA
2. Song sung by Elvis in "Blue Hawaii" : ALOHAOE
3. Muscle with a palindromic name : ROTATOR
4. End of an era? : ONEBC
5. Company that released "2001: A Space Odyssey" : MGM
6. ___ Club : ELKS
7. Department store department : TOYS
8. "___ get it" : NOWI
9. It was once big for Aretha Franklin : AFRO
10. It's indicated by arrows on a map : JETSTREAM
11. Parody, in a way : APE
12. Newspaper headline of 12/8/1941 : WAR
14. Alternative to "Sincerely" : ASEVER
18. Department with a buffalo on its seal : INTERIOR
20. One frequently pictured in GQ or Vogue : STYLEICON
22. Symbol on many a bumper sticker : HEART
24. Rolex rival : OMEGA
25. Texas' ___ Duro Canyon : PALO
28. Radiation cleanup, briefly : DECON
31. "Fingers crossed!" : IHOPE
32. Brooklyn attraction : CONEYISLAND
36. Acoustic measure : SONE
38. Sad songs : ELEGIES
39. Burrowing rodent : MOLERAT
40. Follower of a plane ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme : CONTRAIL
42. "Most definitely!" : YESITIS
43. Amos Alonzo ___, coach in the College Football Hall of Fame : STAGG
45. I.S.P. option : AOL
47. Dominate : CONTROL
49. Lowest parts : BASSI
50. Author Locke of the Harlem Renaissance, the first African-American Rhodes scholar (1907) : ALAIN
51. Hall of fame : MONTY
54. Comic strip canine : ODIE
56. Bias : TILT
58. Celestial altar : ARA
60. Norma ___ (Oscar-winning role of 1979) : RAE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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