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CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER

New York Times, Sunday, June 21, 2015

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5012/11/20118/8/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962202
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 137, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes:
One of the advantages in doing this puzzle was that I was that working with a true word count of 144—not 137—since seven across answers are unclued and don't figure in the end ... read more

One of the advantages in doing this puzzle was that I was that working with a true word count of 144—not 137—since seven across answers are unclued and don't figure in the end total. The areas around the turns can be thorny, but the extra wiggle room is definitely noticeable throughout the rest of the grid. Because of the depressed word count, I made an effort to keep it at 137 rather than going to 139, which splitting up SUGARLOAF and STITCHING would have done. It seemed better to use cheaters to keep the fill clean and push the word count a little lower with those open corners.

Wow, my clue for HOLY WATER ([Liquid harmful to vampires]) is dorky. Really dorky. I can't think of another good way to clue it, but that's pretty embarrassing. Thank God there's not another entry in here with a clue that points towards too much time having been spent in high school playing D&D-based video games ...

... Except for POLEAXE. Son of a #*(!*&. Why should anyone who isn't a military historian or a knight at Medieval Times know that poleaxes and halberds are similar weapons? Great question.

Can I disavow authorship of those two clues in exchange for arrogating to myself credit for the clue for SEXOLOGY? ([Study for a Masters?])

Here's a gratuitous Seinfeld reference for Jeff:

Although, one wonders if "War and Peace" ("Voyna i MIR") would have been as highly acclaimed as it was had it been published under its original title, "War, What Is It Good For?".

Jeff Chen notes:
I enjoy when a theme catches me off guard. I was well past the point of frustration when I finally figured out what was going on, but the a-ha moment made me happy I stuck with it. Very ... read more

I enjoy when a theme catches me off guard. I was well past the point of frustration when I finally figured out what was going on, but the a-ha moment made me happy I stuck with it. Very rewarding. For the longest time I couldn't see that the themers don't start from the companies ... the companies are in the middle, with the themer "climbing" through them! I highlighted them below to make it easier to see.

I pondered why it took me so long to figure out. A previous puzzle, similar in nature, was easy for me to cotton to — perhaps too easy. So why was this so much harder? Maybe it's the fact that this one defies the normal top to bottom, left to right reading pattern I'm used to? Whatever the reason, it made the solve very tough and the payoff feel like I had really earned it.

Sugarloaf is a mecca for rock climbers

Impressive how much strong material Tim worked into the grid. With a whopping 17 long slots (eight or more letters), it often means that they get filled with neutral or bleh material. Tim's list of long fill reads like the inventory of a great themeless: HOLY WATER, IDLE HANDS, PENNY ANTE, RICE CAKES, SUGARLOAF, TEA TASTER, and more. Of those 17 slots, I'd say Tim converted about 90% of them into zippy entries; amazing efficiency.

And such a high degree of smoothness. Bending themers cause all sort of problems for constructors, forcing constraints around those bending points. But Tim finessed all of those regions nicely. Check out the two TRUEFA/ALSET/TESTS bends, for example. It's not easy to fill around that F-A-L bend. Yes, there is an EFT, but what else? Often, those sections propagate glue throughout. Not today.

I debated whether to give this one or MAS's Friday quad-stack the POW! Ultimately I decided this one was a bit too frustrating for me through the first 30 minutes, but looking back on it, it could easily be deserving. Good idea, solid choice of themers (very hard to do with their need to bend symmetrically!), and very well executed.

P.S. Yuri Testikov may be turning over in his grave, but I'm laughing my head off.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0621 ( 23,966 )
Across
1
Sunni jihadist grp. : ISIS
10
Alternatively, online : OTOH
19
Impermanent hill : DUNE
20
Bath-loving TV character : ERNIE
21
Lionhearted sort : HERO
22
College booster? : EASYA
23
Fuji rival : AGFA
24
Ingredient in glassmaking : SILEX
25
Meal plan : MENU
26
Architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao : GEHRY
27
Genetic variant : ALLELE
29
Melodramatic sound : SOB
31
What may be forever? : POSTAGESTAMP
33
High school class, briefly : BIO
34
Exams that students get F's on? : TRUEFALSETESTS
35
Liquid harmful to vampires : HOLYWATER
37
100 Iranian dinars : RIAL
38
Fully caffeinated, say : ALERT
39
Stood for : DENOTED
40
Singer Carlisle of the Go-Go's : BELINDA
42
Yardbirds : CONS
43
Lexical ref. : OED
44
Land : GET
45
Former Seattle pro : SONIC
46
Looney Tunes "devil," for short : TAZ
49
Lighted icons on airplanes : SEATBELTS
53
Coming down the line? : FAMILIAL
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Offshoot : SCION
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Scratches (out) : EKES
59
Imaginary : DREAMT
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Former Houston athlete : AERO
62
Annual celebration on January 6 : THREEKINGSDAY
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First silent film to win Best Picture since "Wings" : THEARTIST
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i, for -1 : ROOT
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Arch locale : INSTEP
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Give a zero-star review, say : HATE
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"Once again ..." : ISAID
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When viewed one way : INTHATRESPECT
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Opposites of fantasts : REALISTS
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Piddling : PENNYANTE
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Response deflecting blame : HOWWASITOKNOW
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More to come shortly? : ETC
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Magnetic induction unit : GAUSS
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Org. whose website has a lot of links? : PGA
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Poetic dusk : EEN
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Something to take to a beach : PAIL
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English monarch called "the Magnificent" : EDMUNDI
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Manhattan campus : BARNARD
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___ voce : SOTTO
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Move like groundwater : SEEP
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The devil's workshop, as the saying goes : IDLEHANDS
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Sea dog : TAR
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Peace, to Pushkin : MIR
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Over again : AFRESH
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Time for a siesta, perhaps : ONEPM
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Boot : OUST
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Whole essence : BEALL
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Having a row : ATIT
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Fibonacci, for one : PISAN
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Atop : UPON
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Shark girl in "West Side Story" : ANITA
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TV amazon : XENA
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Initiates : SETSINMOTION
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Tickled, and how! : SENT
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Part of an unsound argument : LOGICALFALLACY
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As a consequence : ERGO
Down
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State bordering B.C. : IDA
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Rio de Janeiro peak : SUGARLOAF
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Something caught in the air : INFLUENZA
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Some arctic hunters : SEALERS
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[Automobiles] : TESLA
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Member of a noted quintet : ERIE
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Big inits. in comedy : SNL
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Attaches, as with rope : TIESON
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Study for a Masters? : SEXOLOGY
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One doesn't have much resistance : OHM
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Golfers drive off it : TEEPAD
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Ready follower? : ORNOT
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Mobile home : HOUSEBOAT
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[Video games] : SEGA
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___ kwon do : TAE
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Garbage collector : ASHBIN
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Multitudinous : MYRIAD
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Quid pro quo on the radio : PAYOLA
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Young salamander : EFT
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Small storage space : BYTE
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North-flowing English river : TRENT
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What might be revealed in silence : TACT
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Ibsen's "___ Gabler" : HEDDA
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Fresh from a shower : WET
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Crunchy snacks : RICECAKES
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Quit it : DESIST
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Mad ___ : LIBS
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Gape at : OGLE
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Some offshoots : SECTS
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[Sportswear] : NIKE
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Firm, in a way : ALDENTE
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Step above amateur : SEMIPRO
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Debtor's burden : LIEN
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Pamplona runner : TORO
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Bank deposit? : SNOW
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Getting together : MEETINGUP
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[Mattresses] : SERTA
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Fancy spread : PATE
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Foolhardy : RASH
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Paradoxically, when it's round it's not circular : TRIP
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Trick, slangily : HOSE
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Horse color : ROAN
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Suggestions : HINTS
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Improved, as relations : THAWED
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[Elevators] : OTIS
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Bean on the moon : ALAN
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Actress Cannon : DYAN
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Sneaky : INSIDIOUS
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Vessels near washstands : EWERS
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Lipton employee : TEATASTER
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Needlework : STITCHING
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Book report? : AUDIT
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General defeated by Scipio, ending the Second Punic War : HANNIBAL
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Grow tiresome : CLOY
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"Balderdash!" : PAH
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"g," to a chemist : GRAM
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Relative of a halberd : POLEAXE
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Prevents : ESTOPS
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"Hey ___" (1977 Shaun Cassidy hit) : DEANIE
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Minimal : MEREST
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"Soap" spinoff : BENSON
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Glandular prefix : ADRENO
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Certain 35mm camera : SLR
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Magnifying lens : LOUPE
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[Insurance] : AFLAC
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[Hotels] : OMNI
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Some madrigal singers : ALTI
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Ballet step : PAS
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Earth-shattering invention? : TNT
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2008 bailout recipient, for short : AIG
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Path to enlightenment : TAO

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?