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New York Times, Friday, February 24, 2017

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1811/11/20108/15/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3021633
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 68, Blocks: 30 Missing: {JP} Spans: 4 This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Zhou. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes:
Don't know if you can tell, but this puzzle had to be scaled back slightly from its original, larger ambitions. After some futzing ... read more

Don't know if you can tell, but this puzzle had to be scaled back slightly from its original, larger ambitions. After some futzing around, LASTSTRAW was slotted for 1A but due to various formal and aesthetic constraints, like my non-acceptance of multiple STILTONS where TILTSAT is, and 31D/32D crossing three very long entries in a relatively open region, there was no way I could get the other corner to work without breaking it up. But I liked the top half too much to completely put the puzzle away for good.

Clues that stayed that have personal resonance: 3D (love that description) and 19A (I studied Xhosa for a semester and Zulu for a year and a half; can't really speak either to save my life).

As for 1D, it's the final Q that makes this entry new to a Times puzzle, and semantically, it's the most interesting letter, what with its dual meaning of "queer"/"questioning." Although the Q now seems to be standardized, its widespread adoption is still relatively recent, and has its remaining detractors, despite reclamation in inclusive circles of the word "queer." The National LGBTQ Task Force was renamed in 2014, I learned, and GLAAD only updated its media handbook to recommend its usage in October 2016. Some advocates, out of a desire to be more specific, have adopted my favorite version of the acronym: QUILTBAG.

A chance, anyhow, to meditate on a wider significance of single letters beyond the boxes of a crossword puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Often, themelesses featuring a lot of 15-letter entries don't have a lot else to talk about. I like Andrew's innovative layout, ... read more

Often, themelesses featuring a lot of 15-letter entries don't have a lot else to talk about. I like Andrew's innovative layout, spacing out his 15-letter entries so the rest of his grid can breathe and shine. He weaves in an impressive 12 long entries — so hard to do when some of them are grid-spanners.

I loved QWERTY KEYBOARDS and its clue. That QWE* start is so odd, and what a great misdirect, referring to "power output." This still confused me even after I got the answer. I finally realized the clue meant that the top of the keyboard — the top line — could be used exclusively when typing the words "power output." Clever!

BRITISH INVASION was nice too. Oldie but a goodie. DESI ARNAZ too. And the pairing of DRIVE TIME and MASERATIS was fun. I like it when a themeless constructor can generate associations between adjacent or crossing answers.

Not as much a fan of EXERCISE SCIENCE and EDITORIAL WRITER. Both are legit, but neither sing to me. Interesting terms to look up, but I doubt either will stick in my memory, not like QWERTY KEYBOARDS. In themelesses featuring 15-letter answers, I want those feature entries to shine. The north half of the puzzle, that was the case, to full effect. The south, not so much.

A notable aspect of Andrew's puzzle is how smooth it is — this usually isn't the case for themelesses featuring uber-long entries. The grid is constrained all over the place, with those 15s and 10s and 9s interlocking, creating so much rigidity and inflexibility. But Andrew scoots by with just an outdated QWEST (now CenturyLink) and Sydney OMARR, plural RENES, RAH.

Well, there are the oddballs: OSIER, KITER, NATAL. Hmm. Each is reasonably fine on its own, but as a group, they didn't leave me with a great impression.

Some of that overall smoothness of fill may have come at the expense of snazzy entries. I wonder if EXERCISE SCIENCE and/or EDITORIAL WRITER could have been replaced with snappier entries if Andrew had allowed a little more crossword glue. Ah, the eternal trade-off.

Yay for the Q in LGBTQ! I had been wondering when it'd finally make its debut (past just LGBT).

1
L
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A
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R
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A
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W
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A
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D
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Q
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Y
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K
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M
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B
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S
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G
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Q
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F
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S
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D
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0224 ( 24,580 )
Across
1
Take a while to wear off : LAST
5
Bird food holder : CRAW
9
Allow through : ADMIT
14
Big dog : GREATDANE
16
"It Is Never Too Late to Mend" novelist, 1856 : READE
17
The Fab Four kicked it off : BRITISHINVASION
19
Like many sub-Saharan languages : TONAL
20
What often follows grace : DIGIN
21
Their tops can produce "power output" : QWERTYKEYBOARDS
27
Nitrogen source for plants : SOIL
28
Put in firmly : ENROOT
29
Michelangelo and others : OLDMASTERS
34
With nothing on : NUDE
35
Title mankini wearer in a 2006 film : BORAT
36
Woman often depicted 34-Across by 29-Across : EVE
37
Didn't release : SATON
38
Astronomical discovery initially called Xena : ERIS
39
Ingredient in some mulled wine : ORANGEZEST
41
File menu option : SAVEAS
43
Locale of Franklin County ... or of Aretha Franklin's birth: Abbr. : TENN
44
Workout area? : EXERCISESCIENCE
50
Music direction to stop playing : TACET
51
Celebrity astrologer Sydney ___ : OMARR
52
Usually anonymous newspaper worker : EDITORIALWRITER
57
They're more important than quarters : SEMIS
58
Bavaria, per part of its official name : FREESTATE
59
Seahawks stadium name before 2011 : QWEST
60
Twitter feature : FEED
61
Something pulled uphill : SLED
Down
1
Orientation letters? : LGBTQ
2
Orientation aid : ARROW
3
River that Henry Miller likened to "a great artery running through the human body" : SEINE
4
Golden Horde member : TATAR
5
They may be stored in towers : CDS
6
Match noise : RAH
7
Darth Vader's childhood nickname : ANI
8
Darling of literature : WENDY
9
It's between Navarre and Catalonia : ARAGON
10
Co-star of a #1 TV show for four seasons in the 1950s : DESIARNAZ
11
Artery : MAINROUTE
12
"Yes, agreed" : IDO
13
X : TEN
15
Attacks medieval-style : TILTSAT
18
Things picked up by the perceptive : VIBES
22
High-five go-withs, maybe : YOS
23
Certain white-collar criminal : KITER
24
Hoist : ELEVATE
25
Pinheads : DODOS
26
Angioplasty device : STENT
29
Like cartoondom's Peter Griffin or Chief Wiggum : OBESE
30
Once-ler's opponent, in children's literature : LORAX
31
Rush hour, on the airwaves : DRIVETIME
32
Their grilles have trident ornaments : MASERATIS
33
Actor Auberjonois and others : RENES
37
Upper class : SENIORS
39
Wickerwork material : OSIER
40
Co. with the longtime slogan "Live well" : GNC
42
Waylay : ACCOST
45
Joe Blow : STIFF
46
Broadcasts : EMITS
47
From one's earliest days : NATAL
48
Where the Linear A script was unearthed : CRETE
49
Was immoral : ERRED
52
Lawyer's title: Abbr. : ESQ
53
Beads on petals : DEW
54
Were present? : ARE
55
Spike in direction : LEE
56
Say 12-Down : WED

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

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