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DRIVING AROUND

New York Times, Sunday, July 1, 2018

Author:
Sam Trabucco
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2110/29/20157/20/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3102357
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.68150
Sam Trabucco

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 76 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Trabucco. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Sam Trabucco notes:
It's pretty standard for Will and co. to change a large number of your clues between submission and publication, and the changes are almost always for the better. However! I cannot sit ... read more

It's pretty standard for Will and co. to change a large number of your clues between submission and publication, and the changes are almost always for the better. However! I cannot sit idly by and watch my RED BEAN ice cream clue vanish. It — in addition to other typically Asian ice cream flavors like matcha and taro — is delicious, and I wish they were more popular in the U.S. (and therefore easier for me, personally, to find). My crusade is just beginning, though — I never intend to clue TARO as anything but an Asian dessert flavor again!

Jeff Chen notes:
I enjoy when a theme makes me wonder how easy/hard it would be to find fitting examples. Seeing LOGGED IN 'pass by' the CAB in LOG CABIN did exactly that! Some neat finds in PLAYING DEAD / ... read more

I enjoy when a theme makes me wonder how easy/hard it would be to find fitting examples. Seeing LOGGED IN "pass by" the CAB in LOG CABIN did exactly that! Some neat finds in PLAYING DEAD / PLAYING CARD, SUNTAN OIL / STRUCK OIL, etc.

Ultimately, there are a lot of pairs that can work like this, especially with CAR and CAB. The real challenge is finding pairs that can be placed symmetrically. Pesky crossword symmetry! I thought Sam did a great job with this. All five themer pairs were solid to great, and there were some especially nice finds, like working the juicy POTTED PLANT around that tough *DPL* letter sequence.

So tough to work through pairs of themers! Sam has such solid gridwork. He's one of the few people I'd trust to execute on a paired themer puzzle. The only rough spot was ADC, which I *think* means aide-de-camp? There's a good reason why Will advises constructors to avoid initialisms that aren't known by virtually everyone.

The a-ha moment was nearly enough for me to put this in POW! contention. But I got confused at first, since LOG IN almost fit with the LOGGED IN clue: [Began a PC session]. And then there was something odd about the base phrase not being clued in any way, i.e., PLAYING CARD sort of just sitting there. I did come around to appreciate the concept more and more, though.

I felt like there was one aspect that pulled the puzzle out of POW! contention, though. See the connection between LACUNAR, WIVE, SEA PIG, DAY DRINK, SEAM RIPPER, RUN GOOD? Took me a while to understand my discomfort – each entry would be generally fine on its own, but as a whole, they all felt … weirdly hard. Not in a satisfying way.

Thankfully, there was enough CARBO LOAD, CAT TOYS, TIGHT RACE, TRUTH SERA, and especially WHERE ITS AT to keep me going.

Interesting concept overall, though.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0701 ( 25,072 )
Across
1
Played for a fool : USED
5
Total mess : FIASCO
11
Big piece of cake : SLAB
15
Buzzed : RANG
19
"It's all good" : NOTABIGDEAL
21
Guido ___, painter of the "Crucifixion of St. Peter" : RENI
22
"Do I ___!" : EVER
23
Trying to show no signs of life : PLAYINGDEAD
24
Show out? : STAGEDOOR
26
Metaphorical time in hell : COLDDAY
27
Future exec, maybe : MBA
28
Began a PC session : LOGGEDIN
29
Seminary study: Abbr. : REL
30
One who "went a-courtin'," in a children's song : FROGGY
32
Hurried along : RACED
33
Asian berry marketed as a "superfood" : GOJI
36
"Darth Vader is Luke's father," e.g. : SPOILER
38
Kind of yoga : HATHA
39
Lily Potter's maiden name in the Harry Potter books : EVANS
41
Fair : EXPO
42
Attention getters : AHEMS
44
Longtime CBS police procedural : NCIS
48
Voodoo, e.g. : DARKART
50
Quite a bash, in slang : PARTAY
52
Partner of shock : AWE
53
Wrecks, as chances : TORPEDOES
55
Relating to gaps : LACUNAR
59
Norm: Abbr. : STD
62
Burrow : LAIR
63
Bit of office greenery : POTTEDPLANT
65
Dead end sign : NOOUTLET
67
Kind of state : ZEN
68
Was forced to turn down an invitation : HADPLANS
69
Big character? : BLOCKLETTER
71
Take as a bride : WIVE
72
News commentator Navarro : ANA
73
Ball of yarn and others : CATTOYS
74
Confession inducers : TRUTHSERA
77
"Jeez, you should keep that private" : TMI
78
Get down : BOOGIE
79
Go as far down as : STOOPTO
84
___ diagram : VENN
86
Green surroundings? : TRAPS
88
Seize : GRAB
90
Work : KNEAD
91
"You betcha!" : UHHUH
93
Had a leading role? : USHERED
96
S or M : SIZE
97
Sam of Watergate hearings : ERVIN
98
Ipecac, e.g. : EMETIC
99
Openly gay : OUT
101
Fix, as a mess of wires : UNTANGLE
103
Singer Garfunkel : ART
104
Big part of an orchestra : STRINGS
108
Bottle for a beachgoer : SUNTANOIL
109
It's left on a highway ... or a path used by five answers in this puzzle? : PASSINGLANE
111
___ about (approximately) : ONOR
112
A little : SOME
113
"Yeah, it makes sense" : ICANSEETHAT
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Nota ___ : BENE
115
Had too much, for short : ODED
116
Go on a drinking spree, in slang : GETLIT
117
Nuggets in "Poor Richard's Almanack" : SAWS
Down
1
Not using sensitive language, say : UNPC
2
Dis-banded? : SOLO
3
List ender: Abbr. : ETAL
4
Not wait till evening to crack a bottle : DAYDRINK
5
Semester's end : FINALS
6
Rapper ___ Azalea : IGGY
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General's assistant: Abbr. : ADC
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Tool for undoing stitches : SEAMRIPPER
9
What many runners do before a marathon : CARBOLOAD
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Senectitude : OLDAGE
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"r u 4 real?" : SRSLY
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Jared of "Dallas Buyers Club" : LETO
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Nerd's epithet for the president? : ANAGRAM
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Lions and tigers : BIGCATS
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Tidbit with rice in Creole cuisine : REDBEAN
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Sidestep : AVOID
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It's under helium in the periodic table : NEON
18
Dog's warning : GRR
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Endure : BIDE
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Per : EACH
30
___ News : FOX
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Annoy, in a way : GRATEON
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Goal for many a H.S. dropout : GED
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Donations to certain clinics : OVA
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Pantry item : JAR
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David ___, C.I.A. director under Obama : PETRAEUS
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"Watch it!" : HEY
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Took a breather : SAT
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Possess, as thou might : HAST
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Old Testament land : CANAAN
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"Pick me! Pick me!" : IWANNA
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Certain Spanish murals : SERTS
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Elapse, as years : ROLLBY
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Braided floor covering : ROPERUG
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Where coal miners work : PITS
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Doesn't bother : LEAVESBE
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Telly pitch : ADVERT
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1040 reviewer, for short : CPA
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Humerus connection : ULNA
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"How uncool!" : SOLAME
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"Yer darn ___!" : TOOTIN
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It may bring a tear to one's eye : DUCT
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"___ Is Us" (65-Down drama) : THIS
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See 64-Down : NBCTV
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Bout result, in brief : TKO
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Like a game with equal winners and losers : ZEROSUM
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'Vette option : TTOP
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Happenin' place : WHEREITSAT
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Election that's too close to call : TIGHTRACE
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Peachy : AOK
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"Phooey!" : BAH
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Like many clowns and beachside houses : ONSTILTS
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Kennedy Library architect : PEI
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Nickname for a devil : TAZ
83
Flowery poem : ODE
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Help grow : NURTURE
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"You agree?" : THINKSO
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Enjoy consistent, favorable luck, in poker lingo : RUNGOOD
89
Story line : ARC
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Sort of rooftop unit, familiarly : HVAC
94
Another name for a porpoise or dolphin : SEAPIG
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Certain domain suffix : DOTNET
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Subject of a 2001-02 scandal : ENRON
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Caught congers : EELED
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Strong desire : URGE
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___ Reader : UTNE
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Shade of green : LIME
104
"Absolutely!," to Alejandro : SISI
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Capital of Okinawa : NAHA
106
Chew (on) : GNAW
107
Match makers? : SETS
108
Get all blubbery : SOB
110
Show with Kate McKinnon, for short : SNL

Answer summary: 20 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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