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New York Times, Friday, December 7, 2018

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1610/29/201512/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3101254
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 26 Missing: {FQX} This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Trabucco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
MUNCHIES over GYM DAY might be the most autobiographical thing I've ever put into a crossword. AIR KISS to my fellow 'Orange Is the ... read more

MUNCHIES over GYM DAY might be the most autobiographical thing I've ever put into a crossword.

AIR KISS to my fellow "Orange Is the New Black" fans who appreciate seeing UZO ADUBA today. And to everyone else: wake up, SHEEPLE!

Jeff Chen notes:
I had to rub my eyes when I counted out how many long slots Sam worked into this themeless. For a 70-word puzzle, 12-14 is about ... read more

I had to rub my eyes when I counted out how many long slots Sam worked into this themeless. For a 70-word puzzle, 12-14 is about average. This one has … 18? Wow!

And Sam is so good at transforming potential into actual. Rarely is one of his long slots left with something neutral or dull – he's so careful about making it all count. Out of all 18 slots, I could only find one (!) that was a bit meh: REGALEMENT. Some might even like that one, but it did feel a bit odd in the noun form.

AIDES DE CAMP, PATRON SAINT, SEED OYSTERS, SKI LESSONS, CAMERA SHOP – NOT A CHANCE that this is boring, DO YOU HEAR ME?

I did wonder if there was a bit too much niche material overall, though. I personally enjoyed DECEPTICON (Megatron always got a bad rap), RACE BIBS (I've had many pinned onto my shirt over the years), SHEEPLE (sheep + people portmanteau), UZO ADUBA (I watched some "Orange is the New Black" until I couldn't stand Piper anymore), WIIMOTES (Wii + remotes = wordplay!). But that's a lot that might potentially turn off a solver for one reason or another.

It's a tough call. Is it better to go safe, with entries that most everyone will recognize, or push the envelope? These days I tend to favor the former, as a single entry can sour a solver's impression of an entire puzzle. I don't think that's fair at all, but it sadly does seem to be a real phenomenon.

Along with what seemed to be an enormous number of short entries – you do have to pay the price for having so many long entries – it wasn't quite up to Sam's usual for me. Still entertaining though.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1207 ( 25,231 )
Across
1. "Are we clear?" : DOYOUHEARME
12. E.R. figures : DRS
15. Eager to a fault : OVERZEALOUS
16. Sound of alarm : EEK
17. Joseph, to the Catholic Church : PATRONSAINT
18. "Transformers" technology, for short : CGI
19. Roth of cinematic gore : ELI
20. Father of the Amazons, in myth : ARES
21. Total taken in? : CEREAL
23. Peaceful scene : IDYL
24. Mindless followers, in slang : SHEEPLE
25. Event for an enumerator : CENSUS
28. Hand-held game devices : WIIMOTES
29. Trinity test subject, informally : ABOMB
30. Lessen : BATE
31. Family of computer games : SIMS
32. Quipster's delivery : MOT
33. [Mwah!] : AIRKISS
36. Major suit : CEO
37. They, in Portugal : ELAS
39. Tax ___ : LIEN
40. N.C.A.A. hoops powerhouse : UCONN
42. Running numbers? : RACEBIBS
44. Lowly workers : GRUNTS
45. Southern corn bread : ASHCAKE
46. Like Easter eggs : DYED
47. Castigate : SCATHE
48. Partner for life : LIMB
49. Religious trip : HAJ
52. Solo flying? : HAN
53. Military assistants : AIDESDECAMP
56. Dungeons & Dragons baddie : ORC
57. Help for ordering some affordable furnishings : IKEACATALOG
58. With 54-Down, river of the Carolinas : PEE
59. Base of some aquaculture farms : SEEDOYSTERS
Down
1. Really cool : DOPE
2. You might make one in your lap : OVAL
3. Fabulous creature : YETI
4. "Catch-22" pilot : ORR
5. Emmy-winning "Orange Is the New Black" actress : UZOADUBA
6. Eight English kings : HENRYS
7. Prop at a sales meeting : EASEL
8. "Ah well, we tried" : ALAS
9. Père d'une princesse : ROI
10. Urge to raid the fridge, with "the" : MUNCHIES
11. Think a lot of : ESTEEM
12. "Transformers" antagonist : DECEPTICON
13. Wining and dining : REGALEMENT
14. Higher education? : SKILESSONS
22. Some antique buses : REOS
23. Real close? : ISM
24. Protest action : SITIN
25. Seller of lenses : CAMERASHOP
26. Viral fear of the 2010s : EBOLASCARE
27. "Dream on!" : NOTACHANCE
28. Paths left by storms : WAKES
30. Grease : BRIBE
34. Catchy 1952 slogan : ILIKEIKE
35. They never fail : SUREBETS
38. Mennonites, e.g. : SECT
41. Chew on this : CUD
43. Believers in world spiritual unity : BAHAIS
44. Time to work out : GYMDAY
46. Ball club? : DISCO
48. Clue for a detective : LEAD
49. Robust : HALE
50. Mythical shooter : AMOR
51. Some PC image files : JPGS
54. See 58-Across : DEE
55. Hipster : CAT

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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