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CRACKING WISE

New York Times, Sunday, February 4, 2018

Author: David Levinson Wilk
Editor: Will Shortz
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2412/2/19962/4/20180
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1.58120
David Levinson Wilk

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 24 for Mr. Wilk. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Levinson Wilk notes: There's always a next time, POTTYHUMOR and BELLYLAUGH. That said, hope this one helped all of you PUTONAHAPPYFACE.
Jeff Chen notes: I enjoy puzzles that play with shapes. I'd seen 'V sitting over I = Y' puzzles before, but I like David's additional layer, CRACKING WISE hinting that not only do the Ys get broken into V over I (see the grid ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I enjoy puzzles that play with shapes. I'd seen "V sitting over I = Y" puzzles before, but I like David's additional layer, CRACKING WISE hinting that not only do the Ys get broken into V over I (see the grid below for details), but it only happens within themers … that are humor-related! Love it when a puzzle goes above and beyond.

Delightful themers. I love me some YO MAMA JOKEs, so that one stood out. But all of them were strong phrases, all related to comedy. Good selections, if a bit repetitive-feeling toward the end.

In my book, the best Sunday puzzles are the ones that scream I'M TOO BIG TO BE CONTAINED BY A 15x15 GRID! This one did not. It's true that EVERYBODYS A COMEDIAN is too long for a 15x15. But while the theme tickled me through the first half of the puzzle, the joke started to get old.

(That central themer apparently is true!)

What might have helped: longer crossing answers (containing the VIs) — shorties like AVIAS and EVITE don't do much for me. Would have been awesome to have even more humor-related phrases crossing the themers at those squares! Now that would have been awesome, and given it a good reason to need a big grid.

A Sunday 140-word grid is almost always harder to fill with clean and colorful material, compared to a 15x15 weekday. It's even harder when you add the constraint of "no other Ys in the puzzle except those in the themers." Stuff like PERINATAL and ARGOSIES didn't do a lot for me — I bet there could have been more of the great ROSE PETAL and POLONIUS long fill in a 15x15 … as well as less AARONS / TARAS, STER / ISE, ACARD / AHERO, etc.

Clever idea overall though, and the title's extra lavier — er, layer — helped me enjoy the puzzle

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0204 ( 24,925 )
Across Down
1. 52-story Boston skyscraper, familiarly : THEPRU
7. Brass instrument with a mellow sound : BASSTUBA
15. ___ Malfoy, student at Hogwarts : DRACO
20. Sorkin and Spelling : AARONS
21. Kind of equinox : AUTUMNAL
22. Puerto ___ : RICAN
23. "Stop! You're killing me!" : THATSHYSTERICAL
25. ___-garde : AVANT
26. Give some lip : SASS
27. Uncut : ENTIRE
28. More than willing : EAGERTO
30. For whom the Lorax speaks : TREES
31. Internet home to "Between Two Ferns" : FUNNYORDIE
34. Latin for "womb" : UTERUS
38. Monsieur's mate : MADAME
41. Y or N, maybe : ANS
42. Shakespeare character who says "This above all: to thine own self be true" : POLONIUS
45. Actor Jason : ROBARDS
47. Zugspitze, e.g. : ALP
50. A person skilled at deadpan has one : DRYSENSEOFHUMOR
52. What "4" may stand for : APRIL
54. French river or department : OISE
55. Beseech : BEG
56. Advert's ending? : ISE
57. Designer Geoffrey : BEENE
58. Carrier to Karachi : PIA
61. Tugboat sounds : TOOTS
65. Decked out : ADORNED
67. Unimpressed response to someone's one-liner : EVERYBODYSACOMEDIAN
72. ___ intolerance : LACTOSE
73. Novo-Ogaryovo is the official one of the Russian president : DACHA
74. Lavatory sign : MEN
75. Hawke of "Training Day" : ETHAN
76. Regrettable : SAD
79. Broadway's Hagen : UTA
81. "Roméo et Juliette" segment : ACTE
85. Coin toss call : TAILS
86. Stand-up chain started in Los Angeles : THELAUGHFACTORY
92. Big engine additive : STP
93. Log-in needs : USERIDS
94. Verbally assail : SCREAMAT
95. "Iglu," for "igloo": Abbr. : VAR
97. Cover over, in a way : REROOF
99. Start limping : GOLAME
100. It might involve someone being "so poor" or "so old" : YOMAMAJOKE
104. "___, amigo" : ADIOS
107. Count ___ : CHOCULA
108. Nail salon employees, at times : FILERS
110. Its "reeds are a pain / And the fingering's insane," per Ogden Nash : OBOE
114. Lipinski and Reid : TARAS
115. "Jeez ... lighten up!" : IWASONLYKIDDING
120. Be grandiloquent : ORATE
121. To this day, Marie Curie's are still radioactive : LABNOTES
122. Mystery : ENIGMA
123. Lacoste and Descartes : RENES
124. Star of 1976's Oscar winner for Best Picture : STALLONE
125. Smoothed in a shop : SANDED
1. Some body art, for short : TATS
2. "Hilarious!" : HAHA
3. Noteworthy times : ERAS
4. Lobster traps : POTS
5. Med. professionals who take a pledge named for Florence Nightingale : RNS
6. Welcomes : USHERSIN
7. Plaster : BASTE
8. Condition for filmdom's Rain Man : AUTISM
9. Suffix with speed : STER
10. "Oh, what the hell ... I'll do it" : SURE
11. "Uh, you've told me quite enough" : TMI
12. Where Michael Jordan played coll. ball : UNC
13. Meadow call : BAA
14. Poet Ginsberg : ALLEN
15. "Game of Thrones" creature : DRAGON
16. Joan who quipped "A Peeping Tom looked in my window and pulled down the shade" : RIVERS
17. "Pick ___ ..." : ACARD
18. "Pretty please?" : CANTI
19. Doing a pirouette, say : ONTOE
24. Poison ivy, e.g. : VINE
29. Some sneakers : AVIAS
30. Something carried onstage? : TUNE
31. "Terrif!" : FABU
32. Fifth category of taste with a Japanese name : UMAMI
33. "Peter ___ Greatest Hits" (1974 album) : NEROS
34. High hairstyle : UPDO
35. Doughnut figures : TORI
36. Late '50s singing sensation : ELVIS
37. One of many scattered in a honeymoon suite, maybe : ROSEPETAL
39. Light bark : ARF
40. Cry from Homer : DOH
43. Kind of port for a flash drive : USB
44. Manage : SEETO
46. Night vision? : DREAM
47. Bowl : ARENA
48. Maid's armful : LINEN
49. Made an appeal : PLED
51. Hymn starter : OGOD
52. Habitation : ABODE
53. Around the time of birth : PERINATAL
59. Chains : IRONS
60. Car rental giant : AVIS
62. Poet who wrote "Fortune and love favor the brave" : OVID
63. Org. that offers Precheck enrollment : TSA
64. ___ fly : SAC
66. One on the left?: Abbr. : DEM
67. Greatly bother : EATAT
68. TV blocking device : VCHIP
69. Tops : BESTS
70. Finish all at once, in a way : CHUG
71. Things taken by government officials : OATHS
72. "Sounds like a plan!" : LETS
77. "Don't be ___!" : AHERO
78. ___ Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning poet : DEREK
80. Patriots' org. : AFC
82. Bad state to be in : COMA
83. Mine transport : TRAM
84. Modern party summons : EVITE
87. Euros replaced them : LIRE
88. Bustle : ADO
89. Grp. that puts on a show : USO
90. Fleets : ARGOSIES
91. Wall St. bigwigs : CEOS
93. Like Mount Narodnaya : URAL
95. Empty : VACATE
96. Brings a smile to : AMUSES
98. Like some angels and dominoes : FALLEN
100. Champion : VICTOR
101. Airport that J.F.K. dedicated in 1963 : OHARE
102. Erin of "Joanie Loves Chachi" : MORAN
103. Locks up : JAILS
105. Concoct : DEVISE
106. Bug : IRK
108. Jester : FOOL
109. Feeling : INTO
110. Anthony Hopkins's "Thor" role : ODIN
111. City NNE of San Antone : BIGD
112. "My treat!" : ONME
113. "My stars!" : EGAD
116. Cambodia's Angkor ___ : WAT
117. Court org. : ABA
118. Skit show, for short : SNL
119. What makes you you? : DNA

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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