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BRING YOUR 'A' GAME

New York Times, Sunday, March 22, 2020

Author:
Brendan Emmett Quigley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1858/7/19963/22/202016
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
375152018492615
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635213
Brendan Emmett Quigley

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 70 Missing: {Z} This is puzzle # 185 for Mr. Quigley. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Brendan Emmett Quigley of Brookline, Mass., has been creating puzzles for The Times since 1996 when he was a senior at college. This is his 170th regular crossword for the paper. For ... read more

Brendan Emmett Quigley of Brookline, Mass., has been creating puzzles for The Times since 1996 when he was a senior at college. This is his 170th regular crossword for the paper.

For the past 12 years, he has played for the Boston Typewriter Orchestra, a percussion ensemble whose only instruments are old typewriters. You can check them out on YouTube. Brendan's the member with glasses and a beard and who is follically challenged on top.

Brendan Emmett Quigley notes:

If you had no idea about rock history at all, and only listened to the Boston classic rock radio station, you'd think AC/DC was the greatest band of all time.

Jeff Chen notes:
My memory for crosswords is long. After reading the title, I immediately thought of another of BEQ's Sunday puzzles, playing on As. I steeled myself, wondering if it'd be another A ... read more

My memory for crosswords is long. After reading the title, I immediately thought of another of BEQ's Sunday puzzles, playing on As. I steeled myself, wondering if it'd be another A addition. Nothing wrong with that, but so many have been done that the resulting themers have to be spectacular.

Boy, was I wrong! What a playful way to riff on As, words that start with As, but become completely different words when the A sound is removed. APACHE to A PATCHY, ACQUIRE to A CHOIR, ATTACKS to A TAX — such interesting finds!

Best of all, the resulting phrases were amusing. A PATCHY APACHE as Geronimo with peach fuzz? That's a big winner.

Even the ones that weren't as surprising (not much of a spelling change), like A VOWEL AVOWAL, worked out well because of strong cluing. I had never thought of AYE and OUI being all vowels. That elevates a fine theme entry onto the Olympic podium's gold platform.

I wasn't as wild about the solving experience though, wading through such gloop as ALEE AMA ANIS CBER ENE REMS SERE etc. Nor was I excited to hit oddities like PENTODE and BLUE CAP and the outdated RCA DOME / TELSTAR. There was some strong material, like CSI MIAMI, SLIM JIM, RED BEANS, and PR FIRM, but the overall balance made the solve feel bogged down.

My preference is to have easier grids, where you don't even notice the short stuff, along with more strong bonuses. I do understand the perspective that a 136-word grid allows for bigger tracts of white space, making for a more challenging solve. Given how long it takes to finish a Sunday puzzle, I'd take funner over harder every time.

That's a minor issue, paling in comparison to theme quality, though. Some awesome finds, easily holding my attention through the full solve. I especially enjoyed how it seemed at the start like a theme I've seen before, only to slowly reveal itself as something different.

1
P
2
A
3
P
4
A
5
S
6
C
7
O
8
M
9
B
10
A
11
T
12
S
13
L
14
I
15
M
16
J
17
I
18
M
19
T
B
I
L
L
20
B
L
U
E
C
A
21
P
22
P
E
N
T
O
D
E
23
A
C
Q
U
I
24
R
E
A
C
H
O
I
R
25
I
N
C
E
N
S
E
26
S
T
U
M
P
E
R
27
H
E
R
28
F
29
C
C
30
A
T
B
A
T
31
V
E
N
O
M
32
A
N
33
O
I
S
E
34
A
N
N
O
Y
S
35
I
N
S
36
I
37
P
38
I
D
39
S
R
I
40
I
T
A
N
41
L
42
S
43
U
44
V
I
M
45
P
U
M
M
46
E
L
S
47
J
48
A
49
W
50
A
P
P
51
A
52
L
53
L
A
P
A
54
U
L
55
I
D
S
56
P
O
N
Y
57
R
E
D
B
E
A
N
S
58
N
A
59
S
60
S
A
U
61
D
E
V
I
L
62
S
W
O
R
E
T
O
63
A
U
N
T
E
M
64
C
E
R
I
S
E
65
A
R
I
V
66
A
L
S
A
R
R
I
67
V
A
L
S
68
A
69
F
70
G
H
A
N
71
T
E
E
H
E
E
72
O
U
T
O
73
F
74
I
75
T
76
C
R
O
A
T
77
D
E
E
D
E
E
78
M
I
L
A
N
E
S
E
79
D
E
E
M
80
P
E
A
81
A
T
82
T
A
C
K
S
A
T
A
X
83
C
D
S
84
T
O
Y
L
85
A
86
N
D
87
E
N
E
88
T
O
T
89
P
90
A
S
O
91
I
R
E
92
C
A
N
D
93
I
94
E
95
S
96
A
97
V
O
W
E
L
98
A
V
O
W
99
A
L
100
K
L
E
101
I
102
N
103
B
A
S
A
L
104
D
E
M
105
B
O
106
S
107
L
E
A
R
N
E
108
D
109
O
N
T
R
I
110
A
L
111
A
112
P
A
T
C
113
H
Y
A
P
A
C
H
E
114
R
C
A
D
O
M
E
115
S
A
T
H
O
M
E
116
S
P
A
I
N
117
T
E
L
S
T
A
R
118
P
E
S
T
O
S
119
E
E
N
S
Y
© 2020, The New York TimesNo. 0322 ( 25,702 )
Across
1
Half of a 1960s folk-rock group : PAPAS
6
Action : COMBAT
12
Car thief's tool : SLIMJIM
19
Govt.-backed investment : TBILL
20
Another name for the cornflower : BLUECAP
22
Vacuum tube with five active components : PENTODE
23
What the church's music director wanted to do? : ACQUIREACHOIR
25
Stick in a church : INCENSE
26
Difficult problem : STUMPER
27
"I'm With ___" (2016 campaign slogan) : HER
28
Broadband overseer, for short : FCC
30
Up : ATBAT
31
Nasty words : VENOM
32
Truism about unwanted sound? : ANOISEANNOYS
35
Dull : INSIPID
39
Indian term of address : SRI
40
Call ___ early night : ITAN
41
Sch. on the Mississippi River : LSU
44
Robustness : VIM
45
Pounds : PUMMELS
47
Chatter : JAW
50
Greatly dismay one of the Beatles? : APPALLAPAUL
55
Picture cards : IDS
56
Carousel figure : PONY
57
Staple in Creole cooking : REDBEANS
58
West Indies city that's home to Lynden Pindling International Airport : NASSAU
61
Classic Halloween costume : DEVIL
62
Affirmed under oath : SWORETO
63
Literary character whose house is uprooted by a tornado : AUNTEM
64
Shade similar to claret : CERISE
65
Times when your archenemy shows up? : ARIVALSARRIVALS
68
Decorative throw : AFGHAN
71
Quaint giggle : TEEHEE
72
In a daze : OUTOFIT
76
Native of Hrvatska, e.g. : CROAT
77
One of the Ramones : DEEDEE
78
Dipped in egg and bread crumbs, then fried : MILANESE
79
Consider : DEEM
80
Unimpressive brain size : PEA
81
What the antigovernment activist does? : ATTACKSATAX
83
Acct. holdings : CDS
84
Setting of a 1903 Victor Herbert operetta : TOYLAND
87
Spanish letter with a tilde : ENE
88
Little kid : TOT
89
___ doble (dance) : PASO
91
What's not a good fit? : IRE
92
Halloween haul : CANDIES
96
"Aye" or "Oui"? : AVOWELAVOWAL
100
Anne of fashion : KLEIN
103
Pertaining to the lowest possible level : BASAL
104
Rep.'s opponent : DEM
105
One of the N.H.L.'s original six teams: Abbr. : BOS
107
Scholarly : LEARNED
109
Facing a judge : ONTRIAL
111
Geronimo, when his beard was just coming in? : APATCHYAPACHE
114
Former Indianapolis arena : RCADOME
115
Didn't go out : SATHOME
116
America's foe in an 1898 war : SPAIN
117
Noted satellite of 1962 : TELSTAR
118
Some green sauces : PESTOS
119
Very small : EENSY
Down
1
Some book fair organizers, for short : PTAS
2
"The Good Doctor" airer : ABCTV
3
Arouse : PIQUE
4
Class Notes subjects : ALUMNI
5
Get into with little effort : SLIPON
6
One who asks "Got your ears on?" : CBER
7
Rio hello : OLA
8
Significantly : MUCH
9
Take from the top? : BEHEAD
10
Nut seen on the back of a dime : ACORN
11
___ chi ch'uan (martial art) : TAI
12
Liven (up) : SPICE
13
Billionaire Blavatnik : LEN
14
Recites, as a spell : INCANTS
15
Sight from Catania, in brief : MTETNA
16
Frontman whom People magazine once named "sexiest rock star" : JONBONJOVI
17
"Methinks ..." : IDSAY
18
Matches : MEETS
21
Co. that might hire influencers : PRFIRM
24
Radiation units : REMS
29
TV show with the theme song "Won't Get Fooled Again" : CSIMIAMI
33
Sch. whose mascot is Brutus Buckeye : OSU
34
Suffers (from) : AILS
36
1887 Chekhov play : IVANOV
37
Spots at the card table : PIPS
38
"___ bit confused" : IMA
41
Director von Trier : LARS
42
Gush : SPEW
43
Hairstyle that calls for a lot of spray : UPDO
45
Do some prescheduling : PLANAHEAD
46
Ending with "umich." : EDU
48
Black birds : ANIS
49
Actor Noah of "ER" : WYLE
51
Prophet believed to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs : ABRAHAM
52
Eye luridly : LEERAT
53
Foreign language seen on U.S. money : LATIN
54
In mint condition : UNUSED
56
Avatar : PERSONA
59
Park place? : STREET
60
Extremely dry : SERE
61
Symbols of change, in math : DELTAS
63
Protected on a boat : ALEE
64
Bathroom sealant : CAULK
66
Ravaged, as mosquitoes might : ATEALIVE
67
Spoke aloud : VOICED
68
Rock band whose lead guitarist notably dresses in a schoolboy uniform : ACDC
69
Actor Armisen : FRED
70
Flies into a violent rage : GOESPOSTAL
73
Sci-fi bounty hunter Boba ___ : FETT
74
Golfer Aoki : ISAO
75
Reach out with one's hands? : TEXT
77
Susan of "L.A. Law" : DEY
78
Abolitionist Horace : MANN
80
Spot for cannonballs : POOL
82
Part of a Victorian social schedule : TEA
84
Who wrote "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper" : TSELIOT
85
Enticing smells : AROMAS
86
In mint condition : NEW
90
Some honors : AWARDS
92
Polishing aids : CLOTHS
93
Flatpack retailer : IKEA
94
Go by : ELAPSE
95
Mexican wrap : SERAPE
96
Cancel early : ABORT
97
Former secretary of state Cyrus : VANCE
98
Psychotherapist Alfred : ADLER
99
Diminish : ABATE
101
Like Machu Picchu : INCAN
102
Some fruit-flavored sodas : NEHIS
106
___-free : SCOT
107
Caustic cleaners : LYES
108
Not allow : DENY
110
Residency org. : AMA
112
Trivial content : PAP
113
Benefits plan, maybe : HMO

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?

See NYT Crosswords for info.