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New York Times, Thursday, February 11, 2016

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6411/13/20126/26/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
620187472
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 38 Missing: {FJQXZ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 27 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
What cool finds, single words parsed as 'person's initials + gender-specific identification'! I had completely filled in MARIE ... read more

What cool finds, single words parsed as "person's initials + gender-specific identification"! I had completely filled in MARIE ANTOINETTE but had no clue why she was a [Malady?]. Parse that word as M. A. LADY = "lady with the initials M. A." — that's so much fun! Great that C. C. (Zhouqin) was able to find four strong examples, "tamale" = T. A. MALE, "Roman" = R. O. MAN, and "legal" = L. E. GAL.

That's one hot T. A. MALE!

I imagine it was difficult to find four perfect themers, and a lesser constructor would have given up after concluding that there was no way to attain crossword symmetry with themers of length 15, 10, 10, 9. Enter mirror symmetry! I find this style aesthetically pleasing, and it sure saves a puzzle now and again.

C. C. runs the matching lengths of ROY ORBISON and LINDA EVANS in the down direction, taking advantage of some of the flexibility mirror symmetry allows. Works great, although it does muddy up what is theme and what is not a bit — ATM INSIDE and TIMESINKS are awfully nice as bonus fill, but since both are of equal length to TOM ARNOLD, the themers don't pop out as much as I would have liked. SPITTAKE and OKEY DOKE work much better for me, since they're shorter than all the themers.

LAYETTE is such an odd word. I ran across it one day as I was searching for what might complete the ???ETTE pattern. Apparently it's a common term for a set of baby's clothing, who knew? Making crosswords has helped me a ton as a solver — entries like this stick in my head.

Loved the clue for TABOO, as it gives the puzzle a C. C. flavor. Apparently "giving you a clock" sounds like "attending your funeral" in Mandarin? Neat trivia.

I've been really impressed with C. C.'s rapid rise as a crossword constructor. Even just a year or two ago, we would have seen more of the EEOC / TRAC kind of entry. But she's really cut the crossword glue down, while still maintaining colorful long fill. Most importantly though, she comes up with some really neat themes. In many other weeks, I would have picked this one as the POW.

1
E
2
B
3
B
4
S
5
P
6
R
7
O
8
N
9
G
10
O
11
I
12
L
13
S
14
R
E
A
P
15
S
A
U
C
E
16
K
N
O
W
17
M
A
R
I
18
E
A
N
T
O
I
19
N
E
T
T
E
20
A
M
S
T
E
L
21
C
O
Y
O
T
E
22
T
O
M
23
A
24
R
25
N
O
L
D
26
T
27
R
A
C
28
N
E
O
29
L
O
30
L
31
A
32
A
M
O
K
33
A
D
M
I
34
T
35
K
I
N
36
K
37
L
A
Y
E
38
T
T
E
39
S
I
40
L
E
N
T
E
41
E
N
O
42
A
M
A
43
E
M
O
44
D
E
N
45
R
46
O
B
I
N
47
S
E
R
48
T
A
49
L
50
E
B
R
O
N
51
S
E
R
E
52
N
53
A
54
O
M
I
G
O
S
55
H
56
M
I
N
I
V
A
N
57
C
O
S
A
58
I
O
59
W
A
N
60
P
A
N
G
61
A
T
O
N
62
D
R
A
N
K
63
U
N
O
S
64
L
E
N
S
65
E
A
S
E
S
66
P
S
S
T
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0211 ( 24,201 )
Across
1
Undergoes recession : EBBS
5
Dining tip? : PRONG
10
Works at the Guggenheim : OILS
14
Cut crops : REAP
15
Hooch : SAUCE
16
Have the answers : KNOW
17
Malady? : MARIEANTOINETTE
20
1968 Heineken acquisition : AMSTEL
21
Prairie predator : COYOTE
22
Tamale? : TOMARNOLD
26
___ II (Gillette razor) : TRAC
28
Con opener? : NEO
29
Popular fragrance that's a girl's name : LOLA
32
One way to run : AMOK
33
Let in : ADMIT
35
Pain in the neck : KINK
37
Outfit for newborns : LAYETTE
39
Adventure's end? : SILENTE
41
Brian who scored "The Lovely Bones" : ENO
42
Reddit Q&A session, briefly : AMA
43
Jimmy Eat World genre : EMO
44
Dragon's locale : DEN
45
Secret identity of Dick Grayson : ROBIN
47
Perfect Elements maker : SERTA
49
James who can jam : LEBRON
51
Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year, to fans : SERENA
54
"Wow!!" : OMIGOSH
56
Odyssey, e.g. : MINIVAN
57
___ Nostra : COSA
58
Dweller on the upper Mississippi : IOWAN
60
Hunger indicator : PANG
61
Oodles : ATON
62
Took a shot, say : DRANK
63
Big pizza chain, informally : UNOS
64
Part of the eye : LENS
65
Dulls, as pain : EASES
66
[You over there!] : PSST
Down
1
First name in home humor : ERMA
2
Put on a happy face : BEAM
3
Monkey ___ : BARS
4
"You did WHAT?" reaction : SPITTAKE
5
Number of churchgoers? : PSALM
6
Appeared (in) : RAN
7
Caught off base : OUT
8
Sgt., for example : NCO
9
Progressive competitor : GEICO
10
"Alrighty then" : OKEYDOKE
11
Keen on : INTO
12
Former senator Trent : LOTT
13
___'Pea : SWEE
18
Fair-hiring watchdog, for short : EEOC
19
Chuck who won four Super Bowl rings : NOLL
23
Like quinoa growers : ANDEAN
24
Sleep stage : REM
25
Bangs and clangs : NOISES
26
Fake bill tracer : TMAN
27
Roman? : ROYORBISON
30
Legal? : LINDAEVANS
31
Something to give a kitty? : ANTE
32
Belgian red, e.g. : ALE
33
Sign on a convenience store window : ATMINSIDE
34
Mindless but addictive app games, e.g. : TIMESINKS
36
Knowledge range : KEN
38
Gifting someone with a clock in China, e.g. : TABOO
40
"Marriage Italian-Style" actress : LOREN
46
They may have many stops : ORGANS
48
Cause to blunder : TRIPUP
49
Like some subway stops : LOCAL
50
Really act out? : EMOTE
52
Thin iPods : NANOS
53
Teen sensation? : ANGST
55
Romanian wedding dance : HORA
56
Equestrian's handhold : MANE
59
Never-___ (unsuccessful sort) : WAS

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?