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ADDING INSULT

New York Times, Sunday, February 7, 2016

Author:
Alan Arbesfeld
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1278/27/19811/13/20200
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25924372615
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.595099
Alan Arbesfeld

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 134, Blocks: 66 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 112 for Mr. Arbesfeld. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Add-some-letters puzzle, DIS appended for kooky results. (DIS)BAND ON THE RUN provided some fun imagery, as did TABLE OF (DIS)CONTENTS. Sure, the latter really ought to be 'malcontents,' ... read more

Add-some-letters puzzle, DIS appended for kooky results. (DIS)BAND ON THE RUN provided some fun imagery, as did TABLE OF (DIS)CONTENTS. Sure, the latter really ought to be "malcontents," but sometimes kooky theme answers can get by with a lot of leeway.

ELLA DISENCHANTED

Humor is so tough to figure out, so specific to each individual. (DIS)CREDIT CARDS doesn't feel very funny to me, but I suppose it is a big transformation from CREDIT CARDS, which is nice. ELLA (DIS)ENCHANTED didn't do a whole lot for me either. I usually avoid these theme types as a constructor, because my sense of humor is often pretty different than Will's. Or most people's, for that matter.

Alan again dips into the very low word count territory. You can see on our list of lowest word count Sunday puzzles that Alan's name appears quite frequently. I think he has more success today than in previous ones, giving us such goodies as PROBOSCIS and MIXED MEDIA. Even PUERILE is a fun word (says the kid in me.)

I'm generally not a fan of low word count Sundays though. Since it's almost inevitable to require some gluey bits when building a 140-word puzzle, I think it's near impossible to get a 134-word grid to the point where I don't get bothered by all the AT YA, FMS, ATIC, SOR, etc. strewn about the grid. And to have a precious seven-letter slot taken up by HURTERS? That word is a hurter to my ears.

I did appreciate the challenge in solving the big SW and NE corners — those were fun. The NE was a great experience, rewarded by finding a BATBOY and some trivia that the Michelin Guide only goes up to THREE STARs. Cool!

Not as rewarding to fight the SW, only to realize that the last square I struggled against was inside APEAK. Yikes.

And perhaps I need to brush up on my cultural references, but I worry that I won't be the only one blanked by the crossings of ARRAN / OLAND / SELENE / DE SICA up north. Three intersections, all three of which I guessed wrongly on, made for an unsatisfying finish.

So, the ultra-low word count experiment continues, with a mix of effects.

Jim Horne notes:
Jeff's right, humor is personal. I found these amusing. We've seen similar ideas before, and in fact three of the theme answers are identical to puzzles past: these two in the same grid ... read more

Jeff's right, humor is personal. I found these amusing.

We've seen similar ideas before, and in fact three of the theme answers are identical to puzzles past: these two in the same grid from 2009, and this one from 2006. But wait, there's more! This crossword from 2008 has the same theme but with all different answers. Some ideas are rich and thick enough to invite recycling.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0207 ( 24,197 )
Across
1
Ornamental projection on some 1950s cars : TAILFIN
8
Like the Pantheon : DOMED
13
Dugout figure : BATBOY
19
City with a Penn State campus : ALTOONA
20
Luna's Greek counterpart : SELENE
21
Stick : ADHERE
22
Damage a St. Louis team's reputation? : DISCREDITCARDS
24
Southern constellation that holds the second-brightest star in the night sky : CARINA
25
"Comin' ___!" : ATYA
26
Resort island in the Firth of Clyde : ARRAN
27
"God forbid!" : IHOPENOT
29
Ones giving the waiter a hard time? : TABLEOFDISCONTENTS
34
Smartphone feature : CAMERA
37
Most NPR stations : FMS
38
Nitty-gritty : MEAT
39
Sugar suffix : OSE
40
Were now? : ARE
41
"___ Ben Adhem" : ABOU
43
According to : PER
44
Sadists, e.g. : HURTERS
48
Harlequin exhibitions? : DISPLAYSFORAFOOL
53
1998 Sarah McLachlan hit : ADIA
54
Assess : RATE
55
Take some time to think about : SLEEPON
56
Sushi order : TUNAROLL
58
Serengeti grazer : ELAND
60
Orthodox Jewish honorific : REB
61
"What a tragedy!" : SOSAD
62
Something that's charged : FEE
63
Flee in separate directions? : DISBANDONTHERUN
69
Bottom of a column : SUM
72
Concert mementos : STUBS
73
With 74-Across, coastal flier : SEA
74
See 73-Across : EAGLE
78
St. Patrick's Day quaff : IRISHALE
80
Monroe or Taylor : ACTRESS
84
"___ Flux" (Charlize Theron film) : AEON
85
Year that Spenser's "The Faerie Queene" was published : MDXC
86
Result of the Queen of Scat's backup group messing up? : ELLADISENCHANTED
89
Childish : PUERILE
91
Subj. of David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King" : IRS
92
Small talk : CHAT
93
1945 battle site, for short : IWO
94
Jardin ___ Plantes (Paris botanical garden) : DES
95
Brashness, informally : TUDE
97
Hollywood's locale: Abbr. : FLA
99
Gold medalist : WINNER
101
Jewel heist outcome? : CAMEODISAPPEARANCE
106
It's not busy : OPENLINE
107
Bypasses : OMITS
108
Major in astronomy? : URSA
112
New Jersey's state tree : REDOAK
113
Question harshly after not allowing to practice? : DISBARANDGRILL
118
Nevada tribe : PAIUTE
119
Past the cutoff age : TOOOLD
120
Neighborhood guide : AREAMAP
121
Pair for a pairs competition : SKATES
122
Sandwich spec : ONRYE
123
Pet guinea pig food, typically : PELLETS
Down
1
"There!" : TADA
2
Settled (on) : ALIT
3
Teeny : ITSY
4
Track down : LOCATE
5
Pro : FOR
6
Suffix with elephant : INE
7
Djokovic rival : NADAL
8
Some orders with dessert : DECAFS
9
Charlie Chan portrayer Warner : OLAND
10
Boulogne-sur-___ (city on the English Channel) : MER
11
Bottom of the ninth, say : END
12
"The Bicycle Thief" director Vittorio : DESICA
13
Burger topper : BACON
14
International traveler's convenience : ADAPTOR
15
Like top ratings from Michelin : THREESTAR
16
Require : BEINNEEDOF
17
"... then again, I might be wrong" : ORNOT
18
Poet who originated the phrase "no country for old men" : YEATS
20
Longtime senator Thurmond : STROM
23
"You can't make me do it!" : IREFUSE
28
Nursery locale : HOTHOUSE
30
Name on a Kazakh map : ARAL
31
Rum-soaked cakes : BABAS
32
"Er ... um ..." : IMEAN
33
Lowly worker : SERF
34
Tight group : CADRE
35
Popular typeface : ARIAL
36
Legendary Washington hostess : MESTA
42
Olive ___ : OYL
43
Schnozzola : PROBOSCIS
45
Kind of nerve : ULNAR
46
Perturb : RILE
47
Event that's taking off? : SALE
49
Remain undecided : PEND
50
Maidenhair and others : FERNS
51
Feature usually near readers' letters : OPED
52
Quick "however" : OTOH
57
Together, musically : ADUE
59
DirecTV requirement : DISH
61
Rubberneck : STARE
64
"Delphine" author Madame de ___ : STAEL
65
News flash : BULLETIN
66
Third man : ABEL
67
Barclays Center team : NETS
68
Indian flatbread : NAAN
69
Nitwit : SIMP
70
Language that gave us "khaki" : URDU
71
Hybrid art technique : MIXEDMEDIA
75
Receive an acceptance letter : GETIN
76
"My Fair Lady" composer : LOEWE
77
Where King Saul consulted a witch : ENDOR
79
Exclude, as undesirable things : SCREENOUT
80
Person of account, informally? : ADREP
81
Bygone online reference : ENCARTA
82
N.Y.U. or M.I.T. : SCH
83
William ___, longtime editor of The New Yorker : SHAWN
87
New York Met performance 1,000+ times : AIDA
88
Ending with idiom or axiom : ATIC
90
Cut off : ISOLATE
96
Experienced with : USEDTO
97
Like about half of all deliveries? : FEMALE
98
Scottish landowner : LAIRD
100
Kind of network : NEURAL
101
U.S.M.C. member? : CORPS
102
Vertically, to a sailor : APEAK
103
Cousins of levees : DIKES
104
N'awlins sandwich : POBOY
105
Something easy : ASNAP
109
Frosty coating : RIME
110
Crib part : SLAT
111
Locale for 10 Winter Olympics : ALPS
114
Something that's charged : ION
115
Campus Greek grp. : SOR
116
Dr. featured in 2015's "Straight Outta Compton" : DRE
117
Come together : GEL

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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