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New York Times, Thursday, December 28, 2017

Author:
Gary Larson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
112/28/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57000
Gary Larson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Larson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gary Larson notes:
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That's not true. You can teach an old dog, it just takes a heck of a lot longer. You ... read more

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That's not true. You can teach an old dog, it just takes a heck of a lot longer. You have to be patient. Thanks to Will's patience with me, I was able to finally get the hang of this puzzle thing.

This was my 42nd submission to The Times. My previous 41 attempts were rejected for one reason or another. (That's right — 41 rejections in a row — I don't know if that's a record, but it's a personal best!)

Having been a professional comedian for more than a third of a century, I'm no stranger to rejection. The rough and tumble nightclub business is capable of delivering its share of rejections — often accompanied by a flying shot glass and/or an invitation to have one's face rearranged in the parking lot — but 41 "no's" in a row was, to say the least, disappointing.

Will, being Will, was kind and considerate (never once threatening bodily harm) and offered constructive criticism and encouragement with each successive defeat. When he was finally able to respond with a "yes," the relief was palpable … on both our parts. But that relief was short-lived because the "yes" was conditional. I would need to make some revisions.

"Dings," a term I would come to know all-to-well during the 11 subsequent revisions, was not an easy concept for me to grasp. I struggled. And struggled. And struggled some more. Why EMU and not ULU? Or MOI but not TOI? Why was UMA Thurman okay but UTA Hagen not? What did the original Broadway star of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" do to fall from grace in the eyes of The New York Times?

I don't know. But I do know this. Even if that old dog seems completely clueless, hang in there. Who knows? He might just "roll over" by accident.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut, from a fellow Washingtonian! Gary wants us to UP THE ANTE, the letters A N T E popping up out of phrases. We've highlighted ... read more

Debut, from a fellow Washingtonian! Gary wants us to UP THE ANTE, the letters A N T E popping up out of phrases. We've highlighted them below to make them pop, and corrected the answers in our database. (Although I kind of wish there really was something called a WAD POSTER!).

Great selection of themers, WANTED POSTER, DEBUTANTE BALL, and DANTES INFERNO sizzling. There are quite a few possibilities, like AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, CANTERBURY TALES, ELEPHANT EARS, THE GREEN LANTERN, etc. But I like the ones Gary picked.

Would have been nice to get one more themer, as three ANTEs felt a bit slim. Wouldn't have been easy though, as WANTED POSTER had to be pushed down into row 4 (usually it'd be in row 3) because it needed to fit in ETNA popping up.

Given how many phrases there are with A N T E — so much construction flexibility! — I wonder if somehow Gary could have made UP THE ANTE run vertically, with across themers intersecting it? Probably too tough, but a guy can wish.

Interesting choice to add some bonus fill in the across direction, ACADEMICS and TURNABOUT. They're decent entries, but they muddled up theme vs. fill for me — it's so common for themers to be in row 3 / 13 that I wondered for an embarrassingly long time how ACADEMICS could have UPped THE ANTE. Jeff, you silly Billy. Might have been better to break up ACADEMICS at the M, which would also have allowed for a little cleanup on aisle Short Fill.

Overall, not a novel idea — a lot of puzzles have made letter move like this, either up or down — but fun anyway. And pretty good execution for a debut! A bit of NIE, ONE PM (arbitrary), BEAME (outdated), HOC (hard to clue with any variety), etc. but that's not bad, considering how much extra real estate the three ANTEs took.

1
B
2
E
3
A
4
M
5
E
6
S
7
P
8
A
9
M
10
D
11
R
12
Y
13
L
T
C
O
L
14
T
A
G
U
15
P
16
R
O
E
17
O
N
E
P
M
18
A
C
A
D
E
19
M
I
C
S
20
W
A
D
P
O
21
S
T
E
R
22
T
O
N
23
E
S
A
U
24
S
N
A
K
25
E
26
S
27
S
28
W
29
I
T
30
D
E
31
B
32
U
T
A
B
A
L
L
33
T
E
N
S
34
E
35
I
M
A
M
36
T
W
A
37
E
T
D
38
V
39
A
40
N
T
A
G
E
41
H
O
C
42
A
N
I
43
E
L
I
E
44
S
45
H
O
O
K
46
D
A
S
47
I
N
F
E
R
48
N
49
O
50
A
N
D
S
51
S
P
A
R
T
A
52
E
O
53
N
S
54
R
A
U
55
U
56
P
T
H
E
A
57
N
58
T
59
E
60
T
61
U
R
N
A
62
B
O
U
T
63
A
C
O
R
N
64
A
N
A
65
L
E
M
M
E
66
R
O
V
E
D
67
B
O
Y
68
G
O
A
D
69
S
W
A
Y
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1228 ( 24,887 )

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Across
1
1970s New York City mayor : BEAME
6
Meat that comes in a can : SPAM
10
Leave hanging, maybe : DRY
13
Maj.'s superior : LTCOL
14
Touch base : TAGUP
16
Future fish : ROE
17
1300 hours : ONEPM
18
Professors and such : ACADEMICS
20
Where you might see a criminal : WANTEDPOSTER
22
Truckload : TON
23
Biblical twin : ESAU
24
Indiana Jones phobia : SNAKES
27
"M*A*S*H" actress : SWIT
30
Coming-out party : DEBUTANTEBALL
33
High-strung : TENSE
35
Prayer leader : IMAM
36
Bygone carrier : TWA
37
J.F.K. posting, for short : ETD
38
Kind of point : VANTAGE
41
Ad follower : HOC
42
Something a Mississippi cheerleader repeatedly calls for : ANI
43
Peace Nobelist Wiesel : ELIE
44
All ___ up : SHOOK
46
Account of a hellish trip? : DANTESINFERNO
50
Some Boolean operators : ANDS
51
Ancient land known in antiquity as Lacedaemon : SPARTA
52
Volcanoes develop over them : EONS
54
Writer Santha Rama ___ : RAU
55
Increase what is at stake ... or a hint to answering 20-, 30- and 46-Across : UPTHEANTE
60
Fair play, to some : TURNABOUT
63
Item in a winter cache : ACORN
64
Gasteyer formerly of "Saturday Night Live" : ANA
65
"I wanna!" : LEMME
66
Traveled like Johnny Appleseed : ROVED
67
"Whew!" : BOY
68
Egg on : GOAD
69
Influences : SWAYS
Down
1
Squander : BLOW
2
Mount SW of Messina : ETNA
3
Sailed through : ACED
4
Rug rats : MOPPETS
5
Ticklish dolls : ELMOS
6
David, for one : STATUE
7
Go back and forth : PACE
8
Food thickener : AGAR
9
Coffee, in slang : MUD
10
Affair for bingers : DRINKATHON
11
"Arabian Nights" creature : ROC
12
"Amen!" : YES
15
Honey and Sugar : PETNAMES
19
Ancient kingdom east of the Dead Sea : MOAB
21
End of many a Trump tweet : SAD
24
Alone, in a way : STAG
25
Jake's "Blues Brothers" brother : ELWOOD
26
Pants : SLACKS
27
Places : STEADS
28
Moist towelette : WETNAP
29
Unorganized : INDISARRAY
31
Dangerous dog : BITER
32
Thurman of the "Kill Bill" films : UMA
34
Ultimate : EVENTUAL
39
Soviet nuclear-powered submarine : ALFA
40
Never, abroad : NIE
45
Flips one's lid : HASACOW
47
It's on the Gulf of Oman : IRAN
48
Took home : NETTED
49
"That's amazing!" : OOH
53
Moves toward : NEARS
55
Man, in Milan : UOMO
56
Fast feline : PUMA
57
Blast from the past, astronomically speaking? : NOVA
58
Rare trick taker : TREY
59
Bounds : ENDS
60
Can opener : TAB
61
Popular card game : UNO
62
Beseech : BEG

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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