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ACTION STARS

New York Times, Sunday, December 4, 2016

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
Bruce Haight
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
201/3/201312/4/20161
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1762220
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1.57012

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {VX} This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes: My first Sunday NYT crossword- Woohoo!!! This has been my biggest goal in the crossbiz for some time now, so I'm really stoked to see this come out in print. Even if I never finish 'the cycle' with a Saturday ... more
Bruce Haight notes:

My first Sunday NYT crossword- Woohoo!!! This has been my biggest goal in the crossbiz for some time now, so I'm really stoked to see this come out in print. Even if I never finish "the cycle" with a Saturday puzzle I will feel like I reached the top of the mountain and basked in the sunshine for at least one magical Sunday.

My first attempt at this theme was not terribly well received — Will and Joel were not that impressed that GEOFFREY RUSHED off to a film shoot and TOM CRUISED to another Golden Globe award, and they really didn't like hearing that RAQUEL WELCHED on a film deal. I can see now that the Welch family could easily have been offended, and in fact, the entire Welsh nation might have taken umbrage — another batch of unpleasant Haight mail headed for Will's mailbox.

So this puzzle sat on my desk for months, until one day David Steinberg (who knows the inside scoop on pretty much everything) told me that the NYT was really short on Sunday puzzles. I combed thru the list of Hollywood stars and found some reasonable replacements, the puzzle was accepted a month after submission, and this publication date is just six weeks after acceptance. I really like the clue we came up with for AS ALL GET OUT ("Like you wouldn't believe"), but my favorite clue is the one for THUMB ("Something that turns up when you snap your fingers?") — I have this mental image of Will and Joel sitting around testing the idea, with Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" playing in the background ...

Jeff Chen notes: Apt title, ACTION STARS hinting at TV/movie stars whose last names are a verb. I like how Bruce modified those verb tenses so the results could be a stand-alone sentence — ORLANDO, BLOOM! feels a bit stilted ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Apt title, ACTION STARS hinting at TV/movie stars whose last names are a verb. I like how Bruce modified those verb tenses so the results could be a stand-alone sentence — ORLANDO, BLOOM! feels a bit stilted as a directive, but ORLANDO BLOOMED sounds much more natural. Good stuff.

Nice to get a mix of men and women, although SHELLEY LONG has been out of the spotlight for a while. Too bad Bruce didn't include any Asian actors … BECAUSE THEY'RE AREN'T ANY, THANKS A LOT, HOLLYWOOD. Well, many. Okay, fine, it's pretty tough to find a well-known Asian actor whose last name is a verb. Although CHENNED I'm pretty sure means "kicked ass and took names."

Well, it should.

Great gridwork! Wow, I was impressed, especially given that Bruce has had some rough patches in past puzzles, and Sunday 140-word puzzles are so tough to get smooth. Bruce told me that he was hesitant to help get the word out on our XWord Info Word List because it gives people who have it such a huge advantage over others (his words, not mine!). And because people who do are much better looking. And make more money. And are more humble.

Seriously, though, it's tough to work in great bonuses like BOOSTER SHOT, LSD TRIP (mind you, some editors are very anti-drug references), AS ALL GET OUT, while keeping the gluey bits to … to … heck, I can't find anything to point out. EATABLE (edible?) is a funny word, but it is in the dictionary and legit. It's been a long time since I couldn't find a single small gluey bit to point out in a Sunday 140-word puzzle.

I would have liked something more dynamic in this theme — something more flashy in the cluing, some story arc tying all the themers together into a narrative, something that screams ACTION! and makes you want to use a lot of exclamation points!!! — but overall, a nicely consistent if not super-exciting theme, and exceptional gridwork.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 24,498
Across Down
1. Kind of marker : FELTTIP
8. Auto-sharing company : ZIPCAR
14. Solid : STABLE
20. Attack : LAYINTO
21. Harshly bright : AGLARE
22. Earning a Purple Heart, say : HEROIC
23. ___ into a major film star : ORLANDOBLOOMED
25. 7Up, in old ads, with "the" : UNCOLA
26. Vale : GLEN
27. Salacious look : LEER
28. Sibling of Helios and Selene, in myth : EOS
30. Something to shoot with, briefly : SLR
31. "Phooey!" : AWRATS
34. ___ for just the right film role : HELENHUNTED
39. Many a suit has one, for short : MBA
42. New employee : HIRE
43. "You think I won't!" : DAREME
44. Bio word : NEE
45. Radius, for one : ARMBONE
47. ___ Doggie of old cartoons : AUGIE
48. Psychedelic experience : LSDTRIP
52. ___ several filmmaking awards : JAMESGARNERED
54. Maker of business jets : CESSNA
55. Spellbound : AGOG
56. Hybrid citrus fruits : UGLIS
57. "The Lion King" villain : SCAR
59. Stick close to : HUG
60. Went after : ASSAILED
64. Something that turns up when you snap your fingers? : THUMB
65. Pay dirt : ORE
66. ___ a new film adaptation : SEANPENNED
69. ___ two film studios against each other : BRADPITTED
71. ___ nova (musical style of the late Middle Ages) : ARS
72. Like businesses on Yelp : RATED
73. Land near a wharf : QUAYSIDE
74. Org. with the magazine America's 1st Freedom : NRA
75. Spellbound : AWED
76. Leader who was Time's 2007 Person of the Year : PUTIN
77. Italy's Isola d'___ : ELBA
81. "Ha! I was right!" : TOLDYA
83. ___ for meatier film roles : SHELLEYLONGED
87. Brisk tempo : ALLEGRO
89. Cads : ROUES
90. Like food : EATABLE
91. "Despicable Me" supervillain : GRU
92. Evidence of a brawl : SHINER
94. Baylor's home : WACO
95. Salon offering : TAN
96. ___ the film deal : GLENNCLOSED
99. Giggled : TEHEED
101. Honey ___ Clusters (breakfast cereal) : OAT
102. Milne character : ROO
103. Java neighbor : BALI
104. Church recess : APSE
108. Too much, in music : TROPPO
111. ___ himself as a big-screen film star : RUSSELLBRANDED
117. "If you say so" : IGUESS
118. Strive : ASPIRE
119. Actions of environmental extremists : ECOTAGE
120. Stacking game : TETRIS
121. Pines : YEARNS
122. Confronts : TAKESON
1. Lash : FLOG
2. Lady's man : EARL
3. Country singer Lovett : LYLE
4. First African-American Disney princess : TIANA
5. Spike TV's former name : TNN
6. "___ be my honor" : ITD
7. Sunbathing locale : POOLAREA
8. Jewelry chain : ZALES
9. Borodin's prince : IGOR
10. 1993 accord grp. : PLO
11. Surveillance device : CAM
12. Middle word in a mall map phrase : ARE
13. Cash in : REDEEM
14. "Quiet down!" : SHUSH
15. Half a score : TEN
16. Story ___ : ARC
17. Immunity enhancer : BOOSTERSHOT
18. French city near the Belgian border : LILLE
19. Modern greeting : ECARD
24. ___ noire : BETE
29. Student taking Contracts, maybe : ONEL
32. Villagers the Grinch stole from in Dr. Seuss : WHOS
33. Surround : RING
34. Hogwarts groundskeeper : HAGRID
35. Native New Yorkers : ERIES
36. Eco-friendly building certification, for short : LEED
37. Runner-up's amount in an auction : UNDERBID
38. New York team : NETS
39. Goya subject : MAJA
40. Speak for oneself? : BRAG
41. Some rounds : AMMO
43. Settled a score old-style : DUELED
46. Got going : BEGAN
47. Aslant : ANGLED
49. Seafood order : SCAMPI
50. Temper : INURE
51. Summoned, in a way : PAGED
53. In bankruptcy : RUINED
57. Michael ___, Brett Halliday detective : SHAYNE
58. Things to chew on : CUDS
61. Aid for a big painting project : SPRAYGUN
62. Naval conflict : SEAWAR
63. Put up : ANTE
64. Straggles : TRAILS
66. December temp : SANTA
67. Morris who directed "The Fog of War" : ERROL
68. Like you wouldn't believe : ASALLGETOUT
69. Gable part : BUTLER
70. Singer Marie : TEENA
73. In line : QUEUED
76. Buzz, so to speak : PHONE
78. Pride parade letters : LGBT
79. Actor Lugosi : BELA
80. Yemen seaport : ADEN
82. Laura of "Blue Velvet" : DERN
83. Hindu honorifics : SRIS
84. "A likely story!" : YEAHIBET
85. Tie (up) : LACE
86. Western tribe : OTOE
88. 1993 accord city : OSLO
93. "Yippee!" : HOORAY
94. "I'm waiting ...?" : WELL
96. "Roger that" : GOTIT
97. Vast : LARGE
98. Betray : CROSS
99. "The Twilight Zone" episodes, e.g. : TALES
100. Poet who wrote "In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost" : DANTE
103. Capital NW of Jungfrau : BERN
105. Some info holders : PDAS
106. ___ lily : SEGO
107. Depiction in Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" : EDEN
109. ___ se : PER
110. Tire measure: Abbr. : PSI
112. Benefit : USE
113. Unwinding spot : SPA
114. Word before and after "yes," in the Army : SIR
115. Home appliance giant : RCA
116. Swell : AOK

Answer summary: 18 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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