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NUMBER-ONE FRIENDS

New York Times, Sunday, August 10, 2014

Author:
Elizabeth C. Gorski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2197/31/19952/23/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6716363439243
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5430225
Elizabeth C. Gorski
Bo

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 139, Blocks: 81 Missing: {JQ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 213 for Ms. Gorski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Elizabeth C. Gorski notes:
Josh Billings said: 'A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.' These dog days of summer call for a Sunday puzzle whose bark is bigger than its bite. ... read more

Josh Billings said: "A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself."

These dog days of summer call for a Sunday puzzle whose bark is bigger than its bite. A not-so-hard theme and fill seem appropriate for a sultry summer solve. The inspiration? The Obama family pooches — Bo and Sunny, our current, very cute, White House dogs.

I imagine that the pressures of the Presidency, along with the loneliness of the office, are eased by the presence of an unconditionally-loving pet. Over the years, our First Dogs have achieved sufficient fame to warrant a puzzle of their own.

As I constructed the grid, the primary design challenge was to surround the central doggy face with enough white space to make the face smile back at you.

Dog owners, I hope you'll work this puzzle with your pooch at your side, with extra ORTS on hand. Thank you for solving!

Will Shortz notes:
An earlier version of this puzzle had the answer CHECKERS MATCH at 24A, clued as ''Jumping' competition [the Nixons]'. One of the puzzle testers, though, Frank Longo, pointed out that the ... read more

An earlier version of this puzzle had the answer CHECKERS MATCH at 24A, clued as "'Jumping' competition [the Nixons]". One of the puzzle testers, though, Frank Longo, pointed out that the Nixons' dog Checkers died in 1964, five years before Nixon took office, so Checkers was never a WHITE HOUSE DOG (62A). That was a great catch, preventing an error from getting into print. On top of that, Frank reworked the upper-middle portion of the grid with the new theme entry HER EXCELLENCY. Thank god for Frank!

Jeff Chen notes:
More grid art! Liz usually employs circled letters to form visual elements (check out how many on that page are hers!), but today she uses those black squares as her paintbrush. I ... read more

More grid art! Liz usually employs circled letters to form visual elements (check out how many on that page are hers!), but today she uses those black squares as her paintbrush. I generally prefer this approach, as black squares are such a strong visual element that they often overwhelm any other effects. And what an effect today — as a pet lover, I couldn't help falling for that cute dog in the center and its ears standing straight up. Dogs

For me, the best Sunday puzzles are the ones with themes or ideas that cannot be done in a 15x grid. Jill and I did a similar dog picture a while back in a 15x, but that picture constrained things so much we didn't have room to put more than a few theme answers in. I love how today's large palette allows for quite a bit more, namely themers starting with the name of a WHITE HOUSE DOG. Neat idea.

I didn't know every WHITE HOUSE DOG, so the puzzle played difficult for me. It was even harder because Sundays require more open space than usual weekday themed puzzles. Check out that giant SW region, with MILLIE SMALL / LEG WARMER / ANNE MEARA. That's a themeless-esque stack right there! Not easy to fill. The crossings were rough for me, and I imagine I won't be the only one. MARL has an old-timey ADIT-type feel to it (an ADIT is a rarely used word for a mine shaft opening), and OREL / RAMA / MILLIE SMALL / NEWELL make for an awfully difficult pile-up of esoteric proper names.

Deploying so many black squares to form the picture of the dog forces big open spaces everywhere throughout the puzzle. The south is another good example of that. That giant space contains some great entries like BUDDY SYSTEM and ESCAPE ROUTE. However, MDCC, OSE, STETS, and POEME are a pretty high price to pay for all the goodness. Sundays are so tricky to create without a few of these blips. In many ways, much harder than a themeless.

Overall, a great visual, causing a lot of constraints in the grid and some compromises in the fill.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0810 ( 23,651 )
Across
1
Count back? : ESS
4
Not the final version : BETA
8
Lab report? : ARF
11
"Coffee Cantata" composer : BACH
15
Role on "Frasier" : ROZ
18
Clear the deck? : MOP
19
Acknowledge : AVOW
20
Provo sch. : BYU
21
Singer with the triple-platinum album "The Memory of Trees" : ENYA
22
Shepherded she? : EWE
23
Book jacket bit : BIO
24
*What to call a female ambassador [the Johnsons] : HEREXCELLENCY
27
Gen ___ : XER
28
Table scraps : ORTS
30
Hillock : RISE
31
Off-white shade : OPAL
32
Very : OHSO
33
Mexican wrap : SERAPE
35
It's all uphill from here : NADIR
39
Very busy : ORNATE
41
Consider necessary : SEEFIT
42
Upright : ONEND
43
Baseball's Alvarez and others : PEDROS
44
Damon and Dillon : MATTS
46
___ prosequi ("proceed no further" court entry) : NOLLE
47
Program carrier : USHER
48
Crude crowd : BOORS
50
Motorcycle demos, e.g. : TESTRIDES
53
One side of the pH scale : ACIDS
56
Makes unnecessary : OBVIATES
58
French "Inc." : CIE
59
Experiences with great enjoyment : DRINKSIN
61
Expensive spoonful, maybe : ROE
62
What the answer to each of the six starred clues starts with : WHITEHOUSEDOG
65
Old antipoverty agcy. : OEO
66
Purell target : GERM
68
Max Peel, for example: Abbr. : ANAG
69
Partner of scratch : CLAW
70
Slight : SNUB
71
Days ___ : INN
73
With 75-Across, bark : BOW
75
See 73-Across : WOW
76
Prefix with pressure : ACU
78
___ Cup (candy with a gooey center) : MALLO
81
Utah ski resort : ALTA
82
Director Nicolas : ROEG
84
On-track Bobby : UNSER
88
Common deli meat order: Abbr. : ONELB
89
Modern know-it-all? : SIRI
90
Mayberry kid : OPIE
91
Between: Fr. : ENTRE
92
Dickinson of TV's "Police Woman" : ANGIE
93
"Not likely!" : ASIF
94
Hardy heroine : TESS
95
How school kids are grouped : BYAGE
96
Mike who directed "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" : NEWELL
98
Some computers, familiarly : HPS
99
Hectic hosp. areas : ERS
100
What a packing person may pack : PISTOL
101
General public : MASSES
103
Part of lye : SODIUM
104
It can make waves : PERM
105
Lasagna ingredient : TOMATOPASTE
113
Think : DEEM
115
Any of nine kings of Thailand : RAMA
116
*Pairing up for safety [the Clintons] : BUDDYSYSTEM
117
Accusatory words : ETTU
118
Pitcher Hershiser : OREL
119
Freedom trail? : ESCAPEROUTE
120
Huntsman Center team : UTES
121
Earthy deposit : MARL
122
Climax : ACME
123
Whacks : OFFS
124
Brighten (up) : PERK
Down
1
Give some relief : EMBOSS
2
Many a ball : SOIREE
3
*Cleaning supply [the Bushes 43] : SPOTREMOVER
4
"Phooey!" : BAH
5
City north of Seattle : EVERETT
6
Doughnuts : TORI
7
Wows : AWES
8
Epitome of simplicity : ABC
9
Alternative to pumpernickel : RYE
10
Suffix with art : FUL
11
Smartphone sound : BEEP
12
"The King and I" heroine : ANNA
13
One with an eye for a storyteller? : CYCLOPS
14
Cow chow : HAY
15
*"My Fair Lady" co-star [the Reagans] : REXHARRISON
16
Must pay, as a debt : OWESTO
17
Two out of 100? : ZEROES
25
Some gas atoms, informally : XENONS
26
Domineered, with "over" : LORDED
29
Adventure with a guide : SAFARI
32
Next : ONDECK
34
Two-person tool : PITSAW
36
Amount to "kick it up" : ANOTCH
37
Texas border city : DELRIO
38
Taking the place (of) : INLIEU
40
Move, as a painting : REHANG
45
Pub vessel : STEIN
47
Old food label std. : USRDA
48
"Star Trek" enemy, with "the" : BORG
49
Letter before Peter in a phonetic alphabet : OBOE
51
Found : ESTABLISH
52
Last song Rodgers and Hammerstein did together (1959) : EDELWEISS
54
French prayer addressee : DIEU
55
One never stooping : SNOB
57
Larger ___ life : THAN
60
Place to caucus : IOWA
63
A big head may be on one : EGOTRIP
64
Pooper ___ : SCOOPER
67
*Singer with the 1964 #2 hit "My Boy Lollipop" [the Bushes 41] : MILLIESMALL
70
*Egg order [the Obamas] : SUNNYSIDEUP
72
Some gold medals : NOBELS
74
Slight people : WAIFS
75
Composed : WROTE
77
Contract bridge tactic : CUEBID
78
Zombie's sound : MOAN
79
Actress nominated for a Golden Globe for "Rhoda" : ANNEMEARA
80
Dancer's wear : LEGWARMER
81
Pretty picture connector? : ASA
83
Some fridges : GES
85
Oscar, e.g. : STATUETTE
86
Rowing machine, for one : ERGOMETER
87
Stagger : REEL
97
Not interfere with : LETBE
100
Item in Baudelaire's oeuvre : POEME
102
March great : SOUSA
103
Editorial instructions : STETS
104
Dance with a king : PROM
106
Year John Dryden died : MDCC
107
West of the screen : ADAM
108
Information gleaned from a dating site : TYPE
109
Sugar suffix : OSE
110
Firebug : PYRO
111
Starting : ASOF
112
Double ___ Oreo : STUF
114
Perfume ingredient : MUSK

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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