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New York Times, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
152/9/20174/3/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5142300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58021
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 37 Missing: {FJQ} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
Maybe this 'protest puzz' is a little late to the game. I take the T to work here in Boston, and these days it seems the boorish ... read more

Maybe this "protest puzz" is a little late to the game. I take the T to work here in Boston, and these days it seems the boorish commuter MAN SPREADS less than he KEEPS HIS BACKPACK ON in a crowded car. (Though it bears noting that there's a pretty healthy "would you like to sit down?" culture on the Red Line. Go, team!)

Also, the bizarre triple stack juxtaposition of AMY POEHLER / MAN SPREADS/ SLEEP APNEA felt like an acceptable trade-off for some 3-letter glue in the center.

Jeff Chen notes:
Will's got a tough job, adhering to the NYT's tone and brand. Other editors get to debut all sorts of interesting terms at their ... read more

Will's got a tough job, adhering to the NYT's tone and brand. Other editors get to debut all sorts of interesting terms at their leisure, but Will is careful to maintain standards that he feels is appropriate for the NYT. Several years ago, he rejected one of my themelesses because DROPPED THE F-BOMB was too crass. And a while back, he said he wouldn't allow MANSPREAD, for similar reasons.

The Times, it is a changin'!

(F-BOMB debuted in 2015, MANSPREADS today – don't forget the cheeky SHTUP!)

It's a slow process of adoption, but I think that's a good thing. MANSPREADS felt a whole lot edgier back when the term first arose. Now, it's more mainstream, more acceptable for NYT usage.

Today's MANSPREADS visual was a bit too graphic for my taste, given the image in the bottom center of the puzzle.

What, you don't see it?

Um.

I don't either.

Ahem.

Let's change the subject and talk about puzzle tech. I like Ross's use of mirror symmetry, which feels appropriate for the theme. Check out the placement of the MANSPREADS revealer, down the centerline of the grid. That's rarely done because it forces a 10x3 chunk – you can't deploy black squares around it in columns 7 or 9 like you usually would using regular symmetry. And 10x3 chunks in a themed puzzle usually = no bueno!

It's a good thing Ross is a solid constructor. Some AMS ISS OPP LOA needed, but that's not that bad. A reasonable price to pay for the long bonuses.

The grid did feel pretty tough though; not welcoming for newer solvers. Entries like ELBERT, BYNES, TYNAN, MAXWELL ANDERSON give the puzzle an "I have to know trivia to do crosswords?" feel. That isn't the case since the crossings were all fair, but still, it can leave newbs with a sour aftertaste.

Also, given the simple theme, the complexity of the fill felt dissonant.

Overall, I liked the acknowledgment of the super-annoying phenomenon — dudes, keep them legs together! — but I felt like the bit wasn't enough to sustain an entire puzzle.

(And now I can't look away from that bottom center visual. My eyes, they're burning!)

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0925 ( 25,158 )

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Across
1
Secondhand : USED
5
Native of Muscat : OMANI
10
Drama units : ACTS
14
Like photos that violate one of Instagram's community guidelines : NUDE
15
Betray by selling out : RATON
16
Unadorned : BARE
17
Legendary N.Y.C. punk rock club : CBGB
18
Really vex : EATAT
19
Common picnic side dish : SLAW
20
Leave gobsmacked : AWE
21
W.W.E. head Vince ___ : MCMAHON
23
By way of : VIA
24
Verbally consented : SAIDOK
26
Coming to : WAKING
28
Tenor Ronan ___ : TYNAN
29
Early hrs. : AMS
32
Something "common" that's not really so common : SENSE
33
Like bats, cats and rats : MAMMALIAN
36
With 40-Across, comment to someone who 30-Down : MOVE
39
Amanda of Nickelodeon's "The Amanda Show" : BYNES
40
See 36-Across : OVER
44
"Great" primate : APE
45
Church recesses : APSES
46
"Selma" director DuVernay : AVA
47
Courage : NERVE
50
Antonym: Abbr. : OPP
51
Hit a four-bagger : HOMER
53
To the point that : UNTIL
54
___ of Good Feelings : ERA
55
Absolutely love : ADORE
56
Network on the telly, with "the" : BEEB
57
Cool, to a jive talker : HEP
58
Go a mile a minute : ZOOM
59
Pulitzer-winning playwright for "Both Your Houses" : MAXWELLANDERSON
63
"___ you serious?" : ARE
64
Eurasian animals with antlers : ROEDEER
65
Before, to poets : ERE
66
Donkey : ASS
67
Foot bones : TARSALS
68
Wet blanket? : DEW
Down
1
Still to be filled, as a role : UNCAST
2
With 12-Down, places where a thoughtless person 30-Down : SUBWAY
3
Enter by sidling : EDGEIN
4
Ball belle, briefly : DEB
5
Hoover competitor : ORECK
6
"Just the facts, ___" : MAAM
7
Lead-in to girl or boy : ATTA
8
Biblical patriarch-turned-sailor : NOAH
9
Being pulled : INTOW
10
Muscles in sit-ups, informally : ABS
11
Comics boy who says "Reality continues to ruin my life" : CALVIN
12
See 2-Down : TRAINS
13
Underground waste : SEWAGE
21
"___ Lisa" : MONA
22
Org. prominent at Cape Canaveral : NASA
25
Title for Judi Dench : DAME
27
Casino game : KENO
29
"Parks and Recreation" star : AMYPOEHLER
30
Crowds one's seatmates, in a way ... or a hint to the circled letters : MANSPREADS
31
Nighttime breathing disorder : SLEEPAPNEA
34
Deg. for a C.E.O. : MBA
35
Magazine no. : ISS
36
Four-time N.B.A. champ Ginobili : MANU
37
Free drink locales : OPENBARS
38
Corners in geometry : VERTEXES
41
Skedaddled : VAMOOSED
42
Always, quaintly : EVERMORE
43
Like a steak that's "still mooing" : RARE
48
Panorama, e.g. : VIEW
49
Mount ___, highest peak in the Rockies : ELBERT
51
Abusive sorts in a fraternity : HAZERS
52
Scent : ODOR
59
Goat's call : MAA
60
Hawaii's Mauna ___ : LOA
61
Joe Biden's state: Abbr. : DEL
62
Never-before-seen : NEW

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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