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BINARY CODE

New York Times, Sunday, December 27, 2015

Author: Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Don Gagliardo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1111/13/201210/13/201611
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3141200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59131
Zhouqin Burnikel
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3711/13/201212/17/201615
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
51395311
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56261
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {KQX} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Gagliardo. This is puzzle # 24 for Ms. Burnikel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: DON: What started me on this theme was ONION RINGS — I just happened to notice that the O's were described by RINGS. I thought if we simply write OO, one could literally say they are ONION RINGS. I ... more
Constructor notes:

DON:

What started me on this theme was ONION RINGS — I just happened to notice that the O's were described by RINGS. I thought if we simply write OO, one could literally say they are ONION RINGS. I started to think of other possibilities. DD came easily, DEAD ENDS. Enlisting the help of a co-constructor is very profitable in this situation. Zhouqin came up with some great ones, like AA: NCAA FINALS, NN: MINNESOTA TWINS.

We got too ambitious with the grid design. With nine theme answers, one needs to be very careful. We had too many short answers that were unacceptable. The puzzle was accepted for the theme, but we needed to clean it up. We decided the best route was to start over completely. It paid off well because in a reasonably short time we were able to construct a grid that was acceptable. This is another case where having a co-constructor is ideal, because starting over completely may seem overwhelming by oneself, but much easier with some assistance.

C.C.:

I love when Don's theme proposal clicks with me immediately! I had fun finding LEADOFF DOUBLE, NCAA FINALS, JAZZ DUET & WINDOW FRAME. The other few (MARRIED COUPLE, SHOPPING CENTER & MINNESOTA TWINS) are just there waiting for us.

Don designed both our grids. I still have difficulty making 140-worder (maximum word count) happen.

Thanks for the new title, Will and Joel!

Jeff Chen notes: Loved this puzzle. C.C. (Zhouqin) and Don's wide range of plays on double-letters is really cool. I vaguely remembered NN as MINNESOTA TWINS from somewhere, but most of the others felt fresh. OO = the Os in ONION ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Loved this puzzle. C.C. (Zhouqin) and Don's wide range of plays on double-letters is really cool. I vaguely remembered NN as MINNESOTA TWINS from somewhere, but most of the others felt fresh. OO = the Os in ONION RINGS ("rings" within ONION) is such a clever find. PP = the central letters of SHOPPING CENTER. AA = NCAA FINALS, i.e. the final letters of NCAA. So many different discoveries, all using in-the-language phrases!

Boris and NATASHA

LEADOFF DOUBLE did throw me for a second — shouldn't "leadoff" mean that the double letters are at the front of the word? — but after thinking about it, it's just that the FF is a "double" within LEADOFF. It works, but the unintentional mislead made me feel like it was the weakest of the bunch.

But I'll pause here to repeat how much I loved the idea and the nine themers.

The execution was very nice, too. A 140-word puzzle is so tough to cleanly and snazzily fill, especially when you have nine themers. Not much long fill, but what great usage of their 7-letter slots. HALFCAF, AIR FARE, OH GREAT, LUDDITE, NATASHA (with a clue from "Rocky and Bullwinkle"!) = all wonderful entries. I wasn't sure what SANGRITA was (sangria, anyone?) but I don't drink much besides beer and scotch these days.

A great majority of the time, I see too much glue in NYT Sunday crosswords for my taste. It's understandable, as a 140-word puzzle is just really darn hard to put together without some glue. So to keep it to really minor ENS, EST, INTL, SPEE kind of stuff is excellent work. I really dislike DNAS, since it and RNA are rarely pluralized outside crosswords, but that's the only real standout.

Again, incredibly fun idea with a wide range of findings for those double letters. One of my favorite Sunday puzzles of the year.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 24,155
Across Down
1. Savor, as a drink : SIPON
6. Takes down a peg : ABASES
12. Je t'aime : French :: ___ : Spanish : TEAMO
17. Sell at a discount, say : UNLOAD
19. Female toon with a "dollink" Boris : NATASHA
21. Grackles and grebes : AVIANS
23. PP : SHOPPINGCENTER
25. Attic : GARRET
26. Horror franchise beginning in 2004 : SAW
27. Lasting for years and years : AGELONG
28. Dirt road hazards : RUTS
30. Melee : FRAY
31. Street of film fame : ELM
32. You might take it out for a drive : IRON
33. Court, for short : RHYME
35. Pile of stones used to mark a trail : CAIRN
36. DD : DEADENDS
39. First antibacterial soap brand : DIAL
40. "Oh, please, that's enough" : SPAREME
42. Derisive sounds : SNORTS
43. Abbr. in many airport names : INTL
44. Jubilant : ELATED
45. Portrait on Chinese renminbi bills : MAO
46. AA : NCAAFINALS
48. Extra bed, maybe : COT
51. Bad thing on a record : BLOT
53. The Jedi and the Sith, e.g. : FOES
54. "Thursday Night Football" airer : CBS
55. Alaska tourist attraction : AURORA
57. Director of 2015's "Chi-Raq" : LEE
58. Capital with the Norsk Folkemuseum : OSLO
60. Travel info source, for short : AAA
61. London cathedral : STPAULS
62. Volunteer's response : ICAN
64. WW : WINDOWFRAME
68. Historic German admiral Maximilian von ___ : SPEE
69. Fizzy drink : SODAPOP
71. Michael of "Saturday Night Live" : CHE
72. Cry to a husky : MUSH
74. "When I was a ___ ..." : LAD
75. Riot opportunist : LOOTER
76. Locale for cranberries : BOG
77. Very much : ALOT
79. Uniform : EVEN
81. See 114-Across : ELF
82. OO : ONIONRINGS
85. Hodges who managed the Mets to a World Series title : GIL
86. Little Rascals boy : FARINA
88. Tolkien tree creatures : ENTS
89. Mars features, mistakenly : CANALS
92. Befuddling : ADDLING
94. Peeps heard by Bo Peep : BAAS
95. ZZ : JAZZDUET
97. When repeated, a Yale fight song : BOOLA
98. Playwright Clifford : ODETS
100. "How ___!" : RUDE
101. Modern TV feature, for short : DVR
102. Hazy memory : BLUR
103. Grps. with the motto "Every child. One voice" : PTAS
104. Conquest of 1953 : EVEREST
107. Susan of "The Partridge Family" : DEY
108. Silas in "The Da Vinci Code," notably : ALBINO
110. NN : MINNESOTATWINS
113. Dances at the Tropicana Club : SALSAS
114. Santa Claus portrayer in 81-Across : EDASNER
115. Greet from behind the wheel : TOOTAT
116. Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde" : REESE
117. Shot put and long jump : EVENTS
118. "Auld Lang Syne" and others : POEMS
1. Figured (out) : SUSSED
2. Has an inspiration : INHALES
3. Agricultural figure in "The Canterbury Tales" : PLOWMAN
4. Alley ___ : OOP
5. Pep Boys competitor : NAPA
6. Whites, informally : ANGLOS
7. Strips shortly after getting up in the morning? : BACON
8. Rate ___ (be perfect) : ATEN
9. Spicy fruit beverage often used as a tequila chaser : SANGRITA
10. Cornerstone abbr. : EST
11. Singer Crow : SHERYL
12. Identifies in a Facebook photo : TAGS
13. A Perón : EVA
14. Soaring cost? : AIRFARE
15. RR : MARRIEDCOUPLE
16. Like macho push-ups : ONEARM
18. Explore deeply : DIGINTO
20. Calla lily family : ARUM
22. "Gypsy" composer : STYNE
24. Techies, stereotypically : NERDS
29. Gasless car : TESLA
34. Java order that packs less of a punch : HALFCAF
35. What Brits call "red sauce" : CATSUP
37. Major-___ : DOMO
38. Muse for D. H. Lawrence : ERATO
39. Some lab samples : DNAS
41. Assets for food critics : PALATES
43. Put away : ICE
44. Annapolis grad. : ENS
46. It comes before one : NOON
47. Building beam : IBAR
49. Susan who wrote "The Orchid Thief" : ORLEAN
50. Hit with a stun gun : TASED
51. "Chill out, will you" : BECOOL
52. FF : LEADOFFDOUBLE
53. Wig out : FLIP
56. Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
57. Durable stocking fabric : LISLE
59. Like courtroom witnesses : SWORNIN
60. Floor : AWE
61. X-rated material : SMUT
63. D.C. athlete : NAT
65. Pest control brand : DCON
66. Sarcastic "Wonderful" : OHGREAT
67. Tori of pop/rock : AMOS
70. Symbol of Middle America : PEORIA
73. Big name in 35-Down : HEINZ
76. Gaudy wrap : BOA
77. Industrious workers : ANTS
78. Some TVs and smartphones : LGS
80. The Impaler : VLAD
83. Fort Knox valuable : INGOT
84. To some degree : INASENSE
85. Beholds : GAZESAT
87. It's heard at a hearing : ALLRISE
89. West Pointer : CADET
90. Opposite of an early adopter : LUDDITE
91. Morning run time, maybe : SEVENAM
92. Arafat's successor as Palestinian president : ABBAS
93. Budget alternative : DOLLAR
94. Next to : BESIDE
95. Peers in a box : JURORS
96. Meetings arranged through Ashley Madison : TRYSTS
99. Helen Mirren, e.g. : DAME
100. Like an alarm clock, night after night : RESET
103. It may be struck on a runway : POSE
105. ___ diagram : VENN
106. 'Vette choice : TTOP
109. "N.Y. State of Mind" rapper : NAS
111. ___ system (luxury car option, briefly) : NAV
112. Romance : WOO

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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