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New York Times, Friday, February 9, 2018

Author:
Brendan Emmett Quigley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1788/7/19965/6/201816
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1.635213
Brendan Emmett Quigley

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 72, Blocks: 30 Missing: {WX} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 177 for Mr. Quigley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Brendan Emmett Quigley notes:
This is one of my go to grids when making themelesses. Peter Gordon was the first (I believe) to do a pattern like this with the 12s ... read more

This is one of my go to grids when making themelesses. Peter Gordon was the first (I believe) to do a pattern like this with the 12s and the stacked 7s. Basically it allows for some solid anchoring phrases and enough room to breathe to have clean fill in the remaining corners.

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun to get that pile-up of rare letters in the middle of the puzzle, Q J J Z Z nearby. Loved it! I like BOOK PROPOSAL a lot, ... read more

Fun to get that pile-up of rare letters in the middle of the puzzle, Q J J Z Z nearby. Loved it!

I like BOOK PROPOSAL a lot, being a writer and all, and EMPHASIS MINE was strong too.

It's so tough to feature 12-letter entries in themelesses. Look at how those three black squares at the end of EMPHASIS MINE and the start of BOOK PROPOSAL fix so much into place. Themelesses often benefit from shifting black squares around like crazy, testing, testing, testing. Not easy to do when you already start with some fixed black squares.

I didn't know what a SQUAT JUMP was, but it seemed self-explanatory (starting from a squat … and then jumping?). Neat how it interlocked with the 12s above, and also PORTRAIT GALLERY. Strong backbone to the puzzle.

But also a fairly inflexible one. BEQ did well to work in LAZY BONES and TROMBONE (still waiting for someone to use the awesome SAD TROMBONE), but that further rigidified things. Not a surprise to end up needing some LST (yikes), ONEL in the SW, along with the more-neutral-than-positive SCENE II and TO HELEN.

In general, it's so tough to make 7-letter entries stand out. I did like LE MONDE, and I INSIST was a nice one too. But COLLATE, LEASE TO, ROOT FOR, ESTEEMS … just taking up valuable real estate.

ROOT FOR actually did get elevated by its clue — I was so confused, wondering what the back rows of a stadium were called. Nope, "back" as in support! That's the way to make a dull entry stand out.

A neat skeleton structuring this 72-word grid. But as a 72-worder — the max number of allowable words in a themeless — I wanted a little more juice. Those corners full of 7s are so tough to make sing.

1
I
2
I
3
N
4
S
5
I
6
S
7
T
8
C
9
O
10
L
11
L
12
A
13
T
14
E
15
S
T
E
A
M
E
R
16
A
V
I
A
T
O
R
17
L
E
A
S
E
T
O
18
R
O
O
T
F
O
R
19
E
M
P
H
A
S
I
20
S
M
I
N
E
21
A
N
A
22
Q
E
D
23
C
24
A
25
B
26
S
27
Z
28
A
29
N
Y
30
G
31
A
U
L
32
L
A
P
E
L
33
A
P
E
34
B
O
L
A
35
L
O
L
I
T
A
36
P
O
R
37
T
R
A
I
T
38
G
A
L
L
E
R
Y
39
P
L
U
R
A
L
40
J
A
Z
Z
41
C
U
E
42
E
L
D
O
N
43
R
U
B
Y
44
F
E
E
D
45
R
O
A
M
46
J
A
M
47
B
48
O
O
49
B
50
O
O
K
P
51
R
O
P
O
52
S
53
A
54
L
55
L
56
E
57
M
O
N
D
E
58
O
N
A
D
A
T
E
59
S
C
E
N
E
I
I
60
M
E
R
I
N
O
S
61
T
O
H
E
L
E
N
62
E
S
T
E
E
M
S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0209 ( 24,930 )
Across
1. "No, really" : IINSIST
8. Sort : COLLATE
15. Carpet cleaner : STEAMER
16. High-minded sort? : AVIATOR
17. Give a flat fee? : LEASETO
18. Back in the stadium : ROOTFOR
19. [Can you believe they wrote this?!] : EMPHASISMINE
21. TV commentator Navarro : ANA
22. Abbr. in math class : QED
23. Stock at a wine bar : CABS
27. Off the wall : ZANY
30. Battle of Soissons setting : GAUL
32. Place for a miniature flag : LAPEL
33. Goon : APE
34. Weapon with a rope and balls : BOLA
35. Literary nickname for Dolores : LOLITA
36. One of the Smithsonian buildings : PORTRAITGALLERY
39. What "they" can only be, to grammar sticklers : PLURAL
40. Enliven, with "up" : JAZZ
41. Signal : CUE
42. Iowa town where Grant Wood's "American Gothic" is set : ELDON
43. Shade of red : RUBY
44. Word with chicken or news : FEED
45. Go here and there : ROAM
46. Tight spot : JAM
47. Scare quote? : BOO
49. Pitch to a publisher : BOOKPROPOSAL
55. Paper that runs mots croisés : LEMONDE
58. Seeing someone, say : ONADATE
59. When Caesar says "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look" : SCENEII
60. Prized sheep : MERINOS
61. 1831 Poe work : TOHELEN
62. Prizes : ESTEEMS
Down
1. Carnival Cruise stop : ISLE
2. Twosome : ITEM
3. ___ tide : NEAP
4. Walk alluringly : SASHAY
5. "Well ..." : IMEAN
6. Aspires to do something : SETSAGOAL
7. "Star Trek: T.N.G." role : TROI
8. Mount near Haifa : CARMEL
9. Like a squashed circle : OVOID
10. Peugeot symbol : LION
11. It may come long after the play : LATECALL
12. Gangbusters, for short? : ATF
13. "___ soon?" : TOO
14. Go astray : ERR
20. Exercise started by crouching : SQUATJUMP
24. Per : APIECE
25. Not stray : BETRUE
26. Did phenomenally onstage : SLAYED
27. Debugging tool? : ZAPPER
28. Cyclops killer of myth : APOLLO
29. Poet who wrote "Tonight I can write the saddest lines" : NERUDA
31. Ayaan Hirsi ___, Somali-born advocate for women's rights and religious freedom : ALI
32. Online hilarity : LOLZ
34. Healthful breakfast choice : BRAN
35. Do-nothing : LAZYBONES
37. Ska band instrument : TROMBONE
38. Be garrulous : GAB
43. Make hand over fist : RAKEIN
44. Epicure : FOODIE
46. "Doctor Who" actress Whittaker : JODIE
48. Good genre for a maze maker : OPART
50. Intro to Torts student : ONEL
51. "The Bicycle Thief" setting : ROME
52. All together, so to speak : SANE
53. Bond collector? : ATOM
54. Not so great : LESS
55. W.W. II craft: Abbr. : LST
56. Pro-sustainability, in lingo : ECO
57. "It doesn't excite me" : MEH

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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