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HAVING NOTHING ON

New York Times, Sunday, April 9, 2017

Author:
Byron Walden
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9211/23/200111/18/201814
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1101192617
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59321
Byron Walden

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 134, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 84 for Mr. Walden. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Byron Walden notes:
The genesis of this puzzle was seeing OON in some puzzle, laughably clued yet again as a legit suffix. (I would say that I've never put it in a puzzle, but I'm afraid to check.) The few ... read more

The genesis of this puzzle was seeing OON in some puzzle, laughably clued yet again as a legit suffix. (I would say that I've never put it in a puzzle, but I'm afraid to check.) The few dictionaries that list it don't actually say what it means. They just blame it on the French and leave it at that.

That said, it was pretty easy to come up with lots of options. For a long time, HORSE-DRAWN CARTOON was the only 17. That puts it in the center and segments the grid unpleasantly with Utahs (3 blacks next to 2 blacks) or Merlesque staircases on either side, unless you can do some fancy long crossings on the downs on the H and the opposite N. I couldn't make it work, but trying made me very familiar with the possible intersections.

I was just about to downgrade it to GROCERY CARTOON, when I realized STRIPED BASSOON could be upsized to the much funnier LARGE-MOUTH BASSOON. The rest came together pretty nicely. LARGE had to be swapped out for SMALL to make REFLEX TESTS possible on the other side, but aside from the nasty little section in the Southwest (RWY, I'LL DRY, ugh), it worked well enough to leave a lot of room for some interesting non-theme entries. With such a straightforward theme, it's a good idea to spice it up a bit elsewhere. Hope you enjoyed it.

Jeff Chen notes:
Byron adds OON onto base phrases to form kooky themers. HORSE-DRAWN CART(OON) gave me a big laugh, reminscent of a million monkeys on a million typewriters, trying to write the great ... read more

Byron adds OON onto base phrases to form kooky themers. HORSE-DRAWN CART(OON) gave me a big laugh, reminscent of a million monkeys on a million typewriters, trying to write the great American novel. FLOOD LAMP(OON) also amused me, as Noah seems ripe for comedy potential. I can just imagine him on the ark for 40 days and nights ... staring at the two pigs and two cows ... drooling …

WAILING WALLOON was the only one that didn't hit for me. Apparently, it's a French-speaking person who lives in Belgium? It doesn't seem familiar enough to build a theme entry around, but I did like adding that funny-sounding word to my vocabulary.

Although I loved it, a huge surprise to get SAUSAGE FEST as a base phrase. If you don't know it, the term is slang for a meeting or gathering filled mostly with guys. You can figure it out from there. Take that, Gray Lady!

There were some really tough bits in the fill — the ACTA / VACUA crossing = oof. ACTA is a legit legal term, and VACUA is a plural form of VACUUMS. Crossing them seems like it could set up solvers to fail, though. I also had a hard time with LA LOIRE, which seemed like a long partial. Again, crossing it with LOCI … hmm. That does feel more fair to me since I hear LOCI much more than LOCUSES.

Along with longish gluey bits like AEREO, A CLEF, and some ugsome ULA RWY INDA sort of things, it felt a bit inelegant. I would have much rather Byron deploy some more black squares, going up to a 140-word grid (it's all the way down at 134 right now) in order to clean a few things up.

I think the title HAVING NOTHING ON implies "add O (nothing) + ON"? It didn't quite resonate with me, but I'm not sure what a better title would be.

I did wonder if this would have made a better 15x15 than a 21x21, since the idea is so straightforward. But Byron did a nice job of coming up with some funny themers. So glad he managed to save HORSE DRAWN CARTOON!

ADDED NOTE: Pete Collins pointed out that Byron ran eight(!!!) themers through the central MONSTERS BALLOON. Okay, that is impressive!

1
A
2
B
3
B
4
O
5
T
6
S
7
C
8
A
9
T
10
C
11
R
12
I
13
P
14
R
15
O
16
O
17
S
18
C
L
O
T
H
19
A
R
C
H
20
R
E
N
E
21
K
E
N
D
O
22
H
O
B
B
I
23
T
H
O
L
E
24
A
I
D
E
25
O
F
T
E
N
26
T
O
R
27
S
W
I
N
E
28
M
Y
G
A
L
29
S
A
L
O
O
N
30
M
O
31
V
I
E
B
U
F
32
F
O
O
N
33
S
P
L
E
E
N
Y
34
B
A
S
E
S
T
35
E
N
L
36
L
O
R
A
X
37
P
38
R
E
C
U
T
39
S
40
A
U
S
A
41
G
E
F
E
S
T
42
O
43
O
44
N
45
L
A
R
U
S
S
46
A
47
C
D
T
48
L
I
F
E
49
E
C
R
U
50
A
C
T
A
51
T
E
52
E
N
53
E
54
G
O
55
A
S
H
E
N
56
Y
E
S
57
H
O
R
S
E
58
D
R
A
W
59
N
60
C
61
A
R
T
O
O
N
62
B
E
R
E
A
63
A
S
L
64
A
R
G
O
S
65
S
66
M
67
A
L
L
M
O
U
68
T
H
B
A
69
S
S
O
O
N
70
T
71
U
72
B
73
P
I
N
U
P
74
U
L
A
75
O
H
N
O
76
S
U
P
E
77
E
R
T
E
78
S
79
E
80
R
B
81
L
82
P
S
83
E
D
84
W
A
R
D
S
85
W
A
I
L
86
I
N
G
W
A
87
L
L
O
O
88
N
89
W
H
Y
N
O
T
90
E
L
E
G
Y
91
A
O
L
92
O
93
B
O
I
S
T
94
I
95
M
96
P
A
L
E
S
97
F
L
O
O
98
D
L
A
M
P
O
O
99
N
100
M
A
I
N
D
R
A
101
G
O
O
N
102
R
I
V
A
L
103
G
O
104
P
105
A
D
A
I
R
106
L
O
C
I
107
D
O
M
I
N
A
108
T
O
R
S
109
M
A
N
N
Y
110
A
G
A
R
111
O
P
I
E
112
S
E
L
M
A
113
S
M
O
G
114
D
O
L
E
115
A
S
T
R
116
H
A
D
A
T
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0409 ( 24,624 )
Across
1
Ecclesiastical leader : ABBOT
6
"Get out!" : SCAT
10
Blood enemy : CRIP
14
Aussie critters : ROOS
18
Diaper option : CLOTH
19
Bridge shape : ARCH
20
French director Clément : RENE
21
Martial art whose name means "sword way" : KENDO
22
Home for Bilbo Baggins : HOBBITHOLE
24
West Wing worker : AIDE
25
A lot : OFTEN
26
A.L. East team: Abbr. : TOR
27
Contemptible sorts : SWINE
28
The ladies-only Western-themed bar I own? : MYGALSALOON
30
Inspector Clouseau or Borat? : MOVIEBUFFOON
33
Peevish : SPLEENY
34
Most contemptible : BASEST
35
Blowup: Abbr. : ENL
36
See 9-Down : LORAX
37
Like some quilt blocks : PRECUT
39
Decoration in a deli case? : SAUSAGEFESTOON
45
Tony who managed two World Series championships for the Cardinals : LARUSSA
47
Setting for Cardinals home games, briefly : CDT
48
Vivacity : LIFE
49
Neutral tone : ECRU
50
Parliamentary proceedings, e.g. : ACTA
51
Romeo or Juliet : TEEN
53
___ booster : EGO
55
Drained of color : ASHEN
56
"Indubitably" : YES
57
Product of a stable of comic strip artists? : HORSEDRAWNCARTOON
62
Kentucky college : BEREA
63
Communication system pioneered by Thomas Gallaudet, for short : ASL
64
Greek city where Perseus was born : ARGOS
65
Scaled-down woodwind? : SMALLMOUTHBASSOON
70
Ice cream container : TUB
73
Calendar model : PINUP
74
Suffix with blast- : ULA
75
Eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton ___ : OHNO
76
Condo V.I.P. : SUPE
77
Art Deco artist : ERTE
78
Belgradian, e.g. : SERB
81
Audiophile's collection : LPS
83
Elizabeth with the memoir "Saving Graces" : EDWARDS
85
Audibly upset Belgian francophone? : WAILINGWALLOON
89
Words after "Sure!" : WHYNOT
90
Mournful work : ELEGY
91
MSN alternative : AOL
92
Musician in the woodwind section : OBOIST
94
Runs through : IMPALES
97
Satirical depiction of the story of Noah? : FLOODLAMPOON
100
Most important mounted cavalryman? : MAINDRAGOON
102
Opposite corner in a romantic triangle : RIVAL
103
Bush league, for short? : GOP
105
Jean who played Aunt Martha in "Arsenic and Old Lace" : ADAIR
106
Important positions : LOCI
107
Alphas : DOMINATORS
109
Son of Gloria on "Modern Family" : MANNY
110
Food thickener : AGAR
111
Big name among radio shock jocks : OPIE
112
So-called "Butterfly Capital of Alabama" : SELMA
113
Environmental bane : SMOG
114
Hand (out) : DOLE
115
Study of the heavens: Abbr. : ASTR
116
Attacked : HADAT
Down
1
Drei + fünf : ACHT
2
Sign of spring : BLOOM
3
1992 Tim Robbins mockumentary : BOBROBERTS
4
Horse picker's hangout, for short : OTB
5
Melodramatic NBC hit starting in 2016 : THISISUS
6
Indian "masters" : SAHIBS
7
Hybrid bakery treats : CRONUTS
8
Roman ___ : ACLEF
9
With 36-Across, a Dr. Seuss book : THE
10
Marker maker : CRAYOLA
11
Time on the throne : REIGN
12
"___ Club" (#1 hit for 50 Cent) : INDA
13
Removes, as a sticker : PEELSOFF
14
They can provoke knee-jerk reactions : REFLEXTESTS
15
Reaching new heights in ballet? : ONTOE
16
Ancient theater : ODEON
17
Little lad : SONNY
21
Aussie critters : KOALAS
23
Quick series of social media posts : TWEETSTORM
28
Something seen at Frankenstein's birthday party? : MONSTERSBALLOON
29
Shopping ___ : SPREE
31
Empty spaces : VACUA
32
Rhubarb with deep roots? : FEUD
36
Welcoming necklace : LEI
37
DVD remote button : PLAY
38
Go a mile a minute : RACE
40
Woe for some 51-Acrosses : ACNE
41
Shine : GLOW
42
Tres + cinco : OCHO
43
Two-tone treat : OREO
44
Georgia senator who helped establish "don't ask, don't tell" : NUNN
46
Correo ___ (words on foreign correspondence) : AEREO
52
Hairy hunter of Genesis : ESAU
54
Big do : GALA
55
Elvis ___ Presley : ARON
57
Pitch in : HELP
58
"The BFG" author : DAHL
59
Automaker that introduced the Rambler : NASH
60
Witch : CRONE
61
2004 Scarlett Johansson film adapted from "Lady Windermere's Fan" : AGOODWOMAN
62
Apt to go Democratic : BLUELEANING
65
Spit out : SPEW
66
Actress Sorvino : MIRA
67
One opposed : ANTI
68
Big brass : TUBA
69
Middling : SOSO
70
Work out spectacularly : TURNTOGOLD
71
Beehive, for one : UPDO
72
Overcome : BEST
76
Authority : SAYSO
78
Villainous visage : SNEER
79
Vegetarian sandwich filling : EGGSALAD
80
Train syst. : RWY
82
Quarters : basketball :: chukkers : ___ : POLO
84
Abrupt, disconcerting reaction : WHIPLASH
86
After-dinner volunteer's words : ILLDRY
87
Pays de ___ (Nantes's region) : LALOIRE
88
Variety of hold 'em : NOLIMIT
93
Frances who played TV's Aunt Bee : BAVIER
94
Religious leaders : IMAMS
95
___ President : MADAM
96
Baldwin offering : PIANO
97
Central : FOCAL
98
Gets ready to do push-ups, say : DROPS
99
Title opera heroine who is a Druidic high priestess : NORMA
101
Kind of boots : GOGO
104
ETS offering : PSAT
107
Going nowhere, metaphorically : DOA
108
Women's club event : TEA

Answer summary: 21 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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