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New York Times, Thursday, December 28, 2017

Author:
Gary Larson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
112/28/20170
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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 )
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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