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AWESOME!

New York Times, Sunday, February 21, 2016

Author:
Patrick Berry
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2297/11/199911/4/20182
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741241679512
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1.54980
Patrick Berry

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 72 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 209 for Mr. Berry. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Sound change theme, an 'ah' sound lengthening to 'awe.' These types of themes live and die by how humorous the results are, as well as the strength of the base phrases. Body-building to ... read more

Sound change theme, an "ah" sound lengthening to "awe." These types of themes live and die by how humorous the results are, as well as the strength of the base phrases. Body-building to BAWDY BUILDING worked perfectly for me — that phrase brings up all sorts of fun imagery. I also liked "The Mod Squad" to THE MAUDE SQUAD, getting a visual of Bea Arthur as a thug.

Leader of THE MAUDE SQUAD!

Knotty pine to NAUGHTY PINE is a great transformation, but the resulting phrase didn't make enough sense to me to be funny, especially given the clue relating it to a "bad kid." SHUTTLE CAULK felt a bit too real — they probably use some sort of sealant on space shuttles, yeah? — to be funny. So, a mixed bag for me.

As usual, Patrick executes so well on his 140-word 21x grid. Using eight themers makes this construction even more difficult, but PB still manages to work in bonuses like DEWDROP, SPYCAMS, CLOUDSCAPE, and LADY GAGA (cool bit of trivia too, that her followers are known as "Little Monsters").

What makes PB really stand out on Sundays though, is the silky-smoothness of his short fill. I love seeing an entire grid of this size that doesn't use even mild crossword glue, because my experience says it's one of the toughest challenges in construction.

And beyond my personal sense of aesthetics, I think having this level of smoothness is valuable to solvers, leading to a higher degree of satisfaction upon completion. Mike Shenk of the WSJ said it best, that the constructor's top priority is to set up a challenge, constructor vs. solver, but to do it in such a way that the solver will ultimately prevail.

Struggling is a good thing when those final boxes fill in regular words. It's not nearly as satisfying when you have to rely on having done crosswords for years, knowing your common crossword glue in order to get a complete and accurate solve. Too often on Sundays, God help you if you don't have that experience, so I really appreciate PB's strict attention to detail when it comes to fill smoothness.

Standard PB fare, well-executed as usual.

1
E
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0221 ( 24,211 )
Across
1. Harmful aspects : EVILS
6. Go long : RUNLATE
13. Surveillance equipment : SPYCAMS
20. Balloon : BLOAT
21. Shakespeare character who says "Good night, ladies; good night, sweet ladies; good night, good night" : OPHELIA
22. "Wet look" product : HAIRGEL
23. Burlesque theater? : BAWDYBUILDING
25. Make amends for : EXPIATE
26. Bathed in the sun : DAYLIT
27. Toothy turner : GEAR
29. Exceeded a limit : SPED
30. Group engagement : GIG
31. Moviegoers who can't afford concession stand snacks? : POPCORNPAUPERS
37. Killers at sea : ORCAS
40. Prepared for takeoff : TAXIED
41. Class with derivatives, briefly : CALC
42. Bad kid's Christmas tree? : NAUGHTYPINE
44. Loses : MISPLACES
49. Old Testament prophet : EZRA
50. Page views? : OPEDS
51. "Eldorado" poet : POE
52. Political opponent of Ike : ADLAI
53. Guy Fawkes Day mo. : NOV
54. Brother, in Brittany : FRERE
55. Like many food drive offerings : CANNED
58. Showing signs of age : WORN
59. Utilized : DREWON
61. Sealant used by NASA? : SHUTTLECAULK
63. Viscount's inferior : BARON
65. "Quit talking!" : SHUSH
66. Centurion weapon : SWORD
67. B-roll from "Splendor in the Grass"? : STALKFOOTAGE
70. Formal : DRESSY
73. It's divided into nine circles : HELL
74. Shutterbugs' settings : FSTOPS
75. 2014 Cooperstown inductee Joe : TORRE
78. Certain H&R Block worker : CPA
79. DuPont creation of 1941 : ORLON
81. Creator of plot holes? : HOE
82. Ardent lover : ROMEO
83. Can of worms? : BAIT
84. Broke up : DISPERSED
87. Owners of large enthusiastic dogs? : PAWEDPEOPLE
89. Cooler unit : CELL
90. Kicks off : BEGINS
91. Sustains : FUELS
92. Writing implement from Planters? : CHALKFULLONUTS
97. ___-repeated : OFT
98. Lover of Radames, in opera : AIDA
99. Feature of the Tokyo Imperial Palace : MOAT
100. Greenland natives : INUITS
103. Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch," e.g. : STEPMOM
106. Supporting actors in a Bea Arthur sitcom? : THEMAUDESQUAD
112. Up on deck : TOPSIDE
113. Legendary lover of Abelard : HELOISE
114. Blake who composed "I'm Just Wild About Harry" : EUBIE
115. Crossed the sill : ENTERED
116. Border disputer with Ethiopia : ERITREA
117. Works as a trader : DEALS
Down
1. Regression : EBB
2. Wallachian prince who inspired "Dracula" : VLAD
3. "The Bridges of Madison County" setting : IOWA
4. Her fans are called Little Monsters : LADYGAGA
5. Smart : STYLISH
6. Drubbing : ROUT
7. Longtime employer of Helen Thomas, in brief : UPI
8. Rangers' org. : NHL
9. Was in charge : LED
10. Fight of the Century loser : ALI
11. Egocentric tyrant : TINGOD
12. Fired up : EAGER
13. Ones helping people up? : SHERPAS
14. "___ vobiscum" (Mass salutation) : PAX
15. Toy dog's bark : YIP
16. Like iceberg lettuce : CRISP
17. Visibly amazed : AGAPE
18. Word with parking or postage : METER
19. What the Olympic sport of skeleton involves : SLEDS
24. Highly successful : BIG
28. Like the Mesopotamian people : ANCIENT
31. Writing assignment : PAPER
32. Ethylene ___ : OXIDE
33. Tailor's supply : PINS
34. Community leader? : CEE
35. Bernina, for one : ALP
36. One of the so-called "Public Ivies" : UCLA
37. Nonstop : ONEND
38. Shower accessory : RAZOR
39. Trick questions, e.g. : CURVEBALLS
40. Do data entry : TYPE
43. Roughly removed : TORNOFF
44. Common pay period : MONTH
45. Program with plugs : ADWARE
46. Heavenly painting? : CLOUDSCAPE
47. Viscount's superior : EARL
48. Deteriorate : SINK
51. Comma, to an orator : PAUSE
54. Food sticker : FORK
55. Finishes all at once, in a way : CHUGS
56. Some people movers : ELS
57. One on the web at daybreak? : DEWDROP
60. Strong punch : WALLOP
61. Figure : SHAPE
62. Geological sample : CORE
64. Inclusions in safer passwords: Abbr. : NOS
65. Rose : STOOD
67. Like Derby entrants : SHOD
68. Garr of "Tootsie" : TERI
69. Game with a 64-square board : OTHELLO
71. Tanker mishap : SPILL
72. Eastwood's role on "Rawhide" : YATES
75. Specifically : TOWIT
76. Augural observations : OMENS
77. Johnny Bench's team : REDS
80. Guitar part : NECK
82. Classico competitor : RAGU
83. Posh shop : BOUTIQUE
85. Flag thrower : REF
86. Hung out with the riffraff : SLUMMED
87. Gift that may be gold-plated : PEN
88. Gave off : EFFUSED
90. Rub the wrong way : BOTHER
92. Social stratum : CASTE
93. Make advances toward : HITON
94. No slouch : ADEPT
95. Instance of forgetfulness : LAPSE
96. Pool cue maker's tool : LATHE
97. Vowel's value in Scrabble : ONE
100. Impression : IDEA
101. Bass instrument : TUBA
102. Set ___ (embark) : SAIL
104. I.S.S. forerunner : MIR
105. Pindaric composition : ODE
107. New Haven student : ELI
108. Vocabulaire entry : MOT
109. Intangible quality : AIR
110. Expend : USE
111. ___ Peres (St. Louis suburb) : DES

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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