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New York Times, Friday, December 28, 2018

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
906/16/201112/28/201817
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
66681130212
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645163
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 29 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 6, (2 triple stacks) This is puzzle # 90 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
This puzzle started as just a top stack that I'd fallen in love with! The seed was GOING BACK TO CALI, though ALFA ROMEO SPIDER was ... read more

This puzzle started as just a top stack that I'd fallen in love with! The seed was GOING BACK TO CALI, though ALFA ROMEO SPIDER was high on my list as well. I initially wasn't making much headway in the bottom, so I set the puzzle aside for a while. Eventually I picked it back up again and tried MATRYOSHKA DOLLS in the bottom slot . . . suddenly, everything started working! Constructing can be a lot like solving.

Jeff Chen notes:
Day 5 of WTF? Week at XWI! I love having the chance to tell people What I'm Thankful For. So neat that the first and last across ... read more

Day 5 of WTF? Week at XWI! I love having the chance to tell people What I'm Thankful For.

So neat that the first and last across answers had a little more for the solver, even after you figured them out. LEADER OF THE PACK? Of course, it should be the first answer in the grid!

And that baffling clue for 59-Across: [Things that contain 59-Across that contain 59-Across that …]. I went searching for where 59-Across was … only to find that it was the entry for which I was solving! What a neat way to self-reference a clue. Mind … BLOWN!

There's something so delightful about starting a puzzle in this way and then capping it off in a similar way. It's not quite a mini-theme, but I loved it.

I also appreciated how David wove a couple of snazzy long entries through his triple-stacks. Can't wait for the 2020 TOKYO GAMES, and to have the juicy EYE POPPERS run through the bottom stack is eye-popping.

Most of all, there was a clue that stood out. My kids like a shiny new toy and I bet they'd LOVE it if it happened to be a PUP. Themelesses have such potential for clever cluing, and the use of this innocuous little three-letter word was excellent.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1228 ( 25,252 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Dominant figure : LEADEROFTHEPACK
16. High-end Italian sports car : ALFAROMEOSPIDER
17. 1997 Notorious B.I.G. hit whose title lyric precedes "strictly for the weather" : GOINGBACKTOCALI
18. Queen who styled herself as Isis, familiarly : CLEO
19. ___ Lopez opening (chess tactic) : RUY
20. Some superhero attire : CAPES
21. Yankees All-Star pitcher Severino : LUIS
22. Chris of "The Good Wife" : NOTH
24. Four-thirds of a dram: Abbr. : TSP
25. "___ time!" : ITS
26. Brother-to-be : PLEDGE
29. Cosmetics company whose letters appear in left-to-right order in "cosmetics company" : COTY
30. Electron particle emission : BETARAY
32. Relative of cashmere : ANGORA
34. Money replaced by euros : LIRE
35. Thrash : MAUL
36. Prepare for a bomb, say : GODEEP
38. Euphoria : ECSTASY
42. Court plea, briefly : NOLO
43. County east of Devon : DORSET
45. "If u ask me ..." : IMO
46. America's busiest airport after ATL and LAX : ORD
47. ___ América (soccer tournament) : COPA
48. Rose : GREW
49. Screw up : MISDO
51. New toy? : PUP
53. Legislative body of Russia : DUMA
54. "Gil Blas" author : ALAINRENELESAGE
58. Everywhere : ALLOVERCREATION
59. Things that contain 59-Across that contain 59-Across that ... : MATRYOSHKADOLLS
Down
1. Online gamer's problem : LAG
2. Orate : ELOCUTE
3. "100 Years ... 100 Movies," e.g. : AFILIST
4. Many employees of the Lego company : DANES
5. So : ERGO
6. Seriously shortchange : ROB
7. ___ Little, "The Wire" character : OMAR
8. Prolific : FECUND
9. Event of 1964 and 2020 : TOKYOGAMES
10. It's two hours behind Pacific: Abbr. : HST
11. Memorable time : EPOCH
12. 12 points, typographically : PICA
13. Many a battery charger : ADAPTOR
14. Instrument whose name comes from the Latin for "heavenly" : CELESTA
15. Hard to eat quietly, in adspeak : KRISPY
21. ___ Dems (U.K. political party, informally) : LIB
23. Highish bridge holding : TENACE
26. "Je vous en ___" (French for "You're welcome") : PRIE
27. City on the Mexican border : LAREDO
28. Things that amaze : EYEPOPPERS
29. Noted arms manufacturer : COLT
31. Designer Gucci : ALDO
33. Indicator of a coming storm : GUST
36. Friend of Tarzan : GORILLA
37. Tar : OLDSALT
39. Communication means since 1911 : AIRMAIL
40. Hobbit corrupted by the Ring : SMEAGOL
41. "That HURTS!" : YOW
42. Refusal with a contraction : NOMAAM
44. Lewdness : RAUNCH
47. Host Bert of old game shows : CONVY
48. Vim : GUSTO
50. Gucci competitor : DIOR
52. Corner office, maybe : PERK
53. Out of juice : DEAD
55. Car that went defunct in 1936 : REO
56. Place to count sheep : LEA
57. Pair of nines? : ENS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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