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New York Times, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
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16911910325
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1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 50 for Mr. Fagliano. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: In the print version of this puzzle, the circled squares are instead outlined in heavy black bars to form a spiral shape.
Jeff Chen notes:
Ice cream swirls today, CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM, and PISTACHO swirling within the puzzle. And what an impressive ... read more

Ice cream swirls today, CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM, and PISTACHO swirling within the puzzle. And what an impressive construction! There have been tons of puzzles done with 2x2 chunks of letters (square D E A L kind of things), but rarely 3x3s. That's because they are so incredibly tough to execute on without resorting to the ugliest (capital Ug) type of crossword glue to hold those areas together. Most 2x2 chunks suffer, so think about how much harder a 3x3 is — I'd estimate it's a factor of 5 tougher.

Joel is one of the best gridworkers in the business, so I always expect a lot out of his puzzles, but this one goes above and beyond. I braced myself in each of those four areas, ready to cringe at some ridiculous random set of letters trying to pass off as a real entry … but there was nothing even creaky! TOI is very minor, and although NEHI will draw some assorted groans, it is a real brand. (Plus, it's Radar O'Reilly's drink of choice!) It's astounding that Joel managed to pull off this ambitious construction so smoothly.

He did have the advantage of flexibility — both in where the swirl started and which direction it went. Both of those seemed a bit random for my taste, but then again, that's how swirls really do appear in ice cream.

I did hitch on pistachio, as it's my favorite flavor of ice cream … and I've never seen a swirl in any pint I've eaten. Looking it up, there do appear to be pistachio swirl cakes, but no pistachio swirl ice cream. Dang it, now I really want someone to make just that! Hopefully Ben or Jerry is a crossword fan (please pass this along to them if you know ‘em) and heeds my desperate plea.

So that is a ding for me — CHOCOLATE, RUM RAISIN, BUBBLE GUM swirls = real things. Sigh, PISTACHIO. I'm not even sure what that would look like in ice cream form, but dang it, I want to know now!

The swirls smack dab in the 9x3 stacks were even more impressive, given the fact that 9x3 stacks in themselves are hard enough to get clean and colorful. To pull one off with a mostly fixed 3x3 chunk right inside is plain insane. EX HIPPIES did feel slightly made-up, but it's a funny enough answer that I decided I liked it. With great stuff like MATCH GAME, NO CONTEST, THAT'S A LIE — and just an ESTS and a TOI / ALII to pay — these are some brilliant sections.

Neat visual (see below for how it looked in print), gold-medal execution = very fun solve.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0823 ( 24,395 )
Across
1
Classic TV show with a celebrity panel : MATCHGAME
10
Verbally attack : BASH
14
Taverns : ALEHOUSES
15
Yo-Yo Ma's instrument : CELLO
16
Plea that accepts conviction without admitting guilt : NOCONTEST
17
Picture puzzle : REBUS
18
Soda brand introduced in 1924 : NEHI
19
Feudal status : VASSALAGE
21
Philosopher Descartes : RENE
24
Musical set in Oz, with "The" : WIZ
25
"Aaron Burr, ___" ("Hamilton" song with a rhyming title) : SIR
28
Like Monopoly deeds that are flipped upside down : MORTGAGED
32
Starchy substance found in some plant roots : INULIN
34
Direction : WAY
35
Software issues : BUGS
38
Strong suit? : ARMOR
39
Gift in a relationship that's getting serious, maybe : KEY
40
"Network" director Sidney : LUMET
41
Cat call : MEOW
42
Saldana of "Star Trek Beyond" : ZOE
43
Unsteady : WOBBLY
44
4, for 19 divided by 5 : REMAINDER
47
Windows : Microsoft :: ___ : Apple : OSX
48
Snooze : NAP
49
Some airport postings, for short : ETDS
51
Flawed : IMPERFECT
56
Counselor employer : CAMP
60
Ice cream feature represented four times in this puzzle : SWIRL
61
"False!" : THATSALIE
64
Chutney fruit : MANGO
65
Springing back in disgust : RECOILING
66
Rural carriage : SHAY
67
Many flower children, these days : EXHIPPIES
Down
1
Thomas who wrote "Death in Venice" : MANN
2
___ vera : ALOE
3
Silicon Valley specialty : TECH
4
"Hallelujah!" singers : CHOIR
5
Sweetie : HON
6
Belly : GUT
7
Unfailingly : ASEVER
8
Formation with steep cliffs : MESA
9
Best guesses: Abbr. : ESTS
10
The Devil : BEELZEBUB
11
Duchess of ___ (Goya subject) : ALBA
12
Creature leaving a slime trail : SLUG
13
Garden watering aid : HOSE
15
Bond player after Brosnan : CRAIG
20
Influence : SWAY
22
Sheik's peer : EMIR
23
Prefix with issue : NON
25
Thailand, before 1939 : SIAM
26
About, on a memo : INRE
27
One might start "I heard ..." : RUMOR
29
11-year old, e.g. : TWEEN
30
Part of L.G.B.T. : GAY
31
Toon that flies with his ears : DUMBO
33
Lethargic : LOWENERGY
36
Hair stiffeners : GELS
37
One hell of a river? : STYX
39
Garden pond fish : KOI
40
Feudal figure : LORD
42
___ Dingbats (font) : ZAPF
43
Soaked : WET
45
Drug kingpin on "The Wire" : MARLO
46
Separate : DETACH
50
Skullcap? : SCALP
51
Schools of thought : ISMS
52
Sound of an air kiss : MWAH
53
___ colada : PINA
54
French "to be" : ETRE
55
Party mix cereal : CHEX
57
Et ___ (and others) : ALII
58
Seven Dwarfs' workplace : MINE
59
Mastermind game pieces : PEGS
62
French "you" : TOI
63
Small taste : SIP

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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