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TAKE A BREAK

New York Times, Sunday, December 29, 2013

Author: Joel Fagliano
Editor: Will Shortz
Joel Fagliano
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5110/22/200911/13/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
1181069223
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65351

This puzzle:

Rows: 25, Columns: 17 Words: 138, Blocks: 78 Missing: {JX} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry Scrabble average: 1.71 This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes: I've always liked Sunday puzzles that have multiple layers to them. With such a big grid, if you crack the theme early (or even worse, off the title) ... more
Joel Fagliano notes: I've always liked Sunday puzzles that have multiple layers to them. With such a big grid, if you crack the theme early (or even worse, off the title) it can often feel like a slog to finish. The more twists the solver has to uncover, the longer they stay engaged and the more "aha" moments they'll hopefully have. With this puzzle, my original idea of a pool table-shaped grid with POCKET rebus squares took up a lot of real estate in the grid as it was, with 12 answers already locked in place, but I thought that the puzzle needed something more, particularly in the middle sections. I tried to narrow the words-that-end-with-pool-terms phrases to only physical objects to make the theme as tight as I could. Finally, I was happy with the addition of the POOL BALLS in a triangle, something added about a month after I had put the other thematic material in the grid.

When I submitted this to Will Shortz, he informed me that he had run a Sunday theme almost exactly like this in 2006 in a puzzle by Michael Shteyman. I was bummed, because I usually check my theme ideas on Cruciverb or XwordInfo to make sure I'm not regurgitating a theme that I just solved recently. Although I'm sure I didn't solve Michael's puzzle (because I was 13 at the time and wasn't solving crosswords yet), it's embarrassing nonetheless that I didn't do my due diligence in checking. I'm left with the uncomfortable feeling that some might think that I plagiarized his idea. So, if anyone had their solving experience ruined by remembering the other puzzle, I apologize. I think it is an interesting question, though: Is it on the constructor to look to see if their idea has ever been done before, or is it on the editor to remember which themes they've run before and inform the constructor? What if a constructor comes up with a great idea but notices that someone did it 12 years ago? Is there some sort of statute of limitations past which an idea can be reused? I don't know the answer, but I know that in the future I'll try to be more careful.

Will Shortz notes: When Joel showed me this puzzle last summer, my heart sank a bit, because I remembered Mike Shteyman's take on the same theme in 2006 — right ... more
Will Shortz notes: When Joel showed me this puzzle last summer, my heart sank a bit, because I remembered Mike Shteyman's take on the same theme in 2006 — right down to the elongated grid with six POCKETs positioned in the same spots. But that was almost eight years ago, and at some point a statute of limitations applies. Joel's version is quite different from Mike's, and it's a beauty. So I'm happy to run it.
Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful work from Joel, as usual. Not only does the puzzle take the shape of a pool table, and contain a pyramid of POOL BALLS, but it also has theme ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful work from Joel, as usual. Not only does the puzzle take the shape of a pool table, and contain a pyramid of POOL BALLS, but it also has theme answers that end in pool terms (verbal CUE, sidewalk CHALK, etc.). Talk about lots of layers! I almost missed the additional theme answers, but it eventually dawned on me that while some constructors would find the first two elements to be enough, Joel must have packed in more than just the rebus squares and the POOL BALLS triangle. Glad I thought twice about it.

Very smooth solve today, a testament to how much work and time Joel must have put into this. Even with the three layers of theme answers in the puzzle, there's SO much good long fill (HAS A GO AT + BARBELLS + STOOLIE right in the POOL BALLS section (super impressive fill given the extremely heavy constraints!), plus ILLUMINATI, FAQIR, TS ELIOT, SUDOKU, KUMAR) and relatively little undesirable stuff (DREI with UNE, ETH, ATA, ESTOP) for a Sunday puzzle. It's very difficult to fill a Sunday-size puzzle cleanly, and with this many constraints, Joel does an outstanding job.

It's inevitable that multiple constructors will come up with a very similar concept. Unfortunate that Joel's puzzle is so similar to Michael's, but I appreciate today's execution. It's true that I remembered doing the old one — that memory did detract from my solving pleasure a little — but I still appreciated the ultra-smooth solve and the neat L-R (mirror) symmetry in the grid. And seven years does seem like a reasonable time to wait. Fun Sunday experience.

1
POCKET
2
B
3
O
4
O
5
K
6
T
7
U
8
N
9
E
10
S
11
P
12
I
13
C
14
K
15
POCKET
16
V
E
N
T
I
17
S
T
A
C
Y
18
A
T
L
A
S
19
E
L
I
T
E
20
A
U
T
O
S
21
C
O
A
T
I
22
T
O
O
23
V
24
E
R
B
A
L
C
25
U
E
26
W
I
Z
27
O
W
N
28
S
29
T
S
E
L
I
O
T
30
I
S
E
E
31
C
32
A
R
33
A
34
F
L
35
S
I
D
E
36
W
37
A
38
L
39
K
40
C
H
A
L
41
K
42
B
43
O
W
E
R
44
A
F
O
U
L
45
Q
U
I
46
L
47
T
48
A
M
A
N
A
49
N
A
O
M
I
50
I
M
D
U
E
51
W
A
L
T
W
52
H
I
T
M
A
N
53
B
R
I
D
G
E
54
D
R
E
I
55
U
N
E
56
R
C
A
57
N
O
E
S
58
S
59
A
N
G
60
H
I
61
Y
A
62
POCKET
63
W
64
A
T
C
H
65
H
66
U
67
B
68
O
U
T
69
O
70
F
71
POCKET
72
P
E
P
S
I
73
L
A
P
A
74
T
75
C
I
V
I
C
76
A
L
P
77
D
78
R
E
S
S
R
A
79
C
K
80
E
T
H
81
S
C
A
82
B
83
A
T
A
84
B
R
A
85
S
R
T
A
86
S
O
R
E
87
P
I
G
88
P
E
N
S
89
U
P
I
N
90
E
M
E
R
91
S
T
O
O
L
I
E
92
D
A
N
G
93
R
E
L
A
94
P
95
B
A
L
L
S
96
F
O
R
G
E
97
T
E
98
N
E
T
99
S
H
100
A
R
K
101
C
102
I
E
R
A
103
L
O
U
104
S
105
E
106
H
O
S
107
H
E
108
A
109
R
110
T
111
F
112
E
L
T
113
P
S
114
A
115
O
B
A
116
M
A
117
D
O
I
L
Y
118
H
119
A
I
T
I
120
T
R
A
M
P
121
D
O
N
O
R
122
E
R
R
O
R
123
POCKET
A
C
E
S
124
S
K
Y
P
E
125
D
E
E
P
POCKET
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 23,427
Across Down
1. One at a woman's side? : POCKETBOOK
6. Fixes keys : TUNES
11. Person who might bump into you on a subway : PICKPOCKET
16. Starbucks size : VENTI
17. Model/actress Keibler : STACY
18. Brother of Prometheus : ATLAS
19. Choice : ELITE
20. Road runners : AUTOS
21. Animal with a flexible snout : COATI
22. Unduly : TOO
23. Spoken instruction in animal training : VERBALCUE
26. Best Musical of 1975, with "The" : WIZ
27. Completely dominates : OWNS
29. He said the most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible : TSELIOT
30. "Oh, hmm ..." : ISEE
31. Elevator ___ : CAR
33. New York Titans' org. : AFL
35. Bit of hopscotch equipment : SIDEWALKCHALK
42. Shady spot : BOWER
44. In a state of conflict : AFOUL
45. Bee product : QUILT
48. Iowa's ___ Colonies : AMANA
49. Name that's Hebrew for "pleasant" : NAOMI
50. "Something ought to finally go my way" : IMDUE
51. Philadelphia/New Jersey connector : WALTWHITMANBRIDGE
54. Half of sechs : DREI
55. "Il était ___ fois" (French fairy tale start) : UNE
56. Brand name that's an anagram of 31-Across : RCA
57. Rejections : NOES
58. Acted like a rat : SANG
60. "Howdy" : HIYA
62. Item on a chain : POCKETWATCH
65. Center of activity : HUB
68. Like some expenses : OUTOFPOCKET
72. Pop icon? : PEPSI
73. Wash against, as the shore : LAPAT
75. Like some duties : CIVIC
76. Finsteraarhorn, e.g. : ALP
77. It's often divided into sections 0, 2, 4, 6, etc. : DRESSRACK
80. Country where the Blue Nile originates: Abbr. : ETH
81. Part of the healing process : SCAB
83. ___ distance : ATA
84. A balconette is a low-cut style of one : BRA
85. Mlle., in Madrid : SRTA
86. Like a Monday morning quarterback? : SORE
87. Symbols of dirtiness : PIGPENS
89. "___ the Air" (2009 Clooney movie) : UPIN
90. Part of FEMA: Abbr. : EMER
91. Rat : STOOLIE
92. "Shoot!" : DANG
93. Pass again on the track : RELAP
95. Big dos : BALLS
96. Fake : FORGE
97. Precept : TENET
99. Dangerous person to play against for money : SHARK
101. Old Olds : CIERA
103. No-goodnik : LOUSE
106. Sounds from Santa : HOS
107. Sincere : HEARTFELT
113. Ad Council output, briefly : PSA
115. First president with a Twitter account : OBAMA
117. Decoration under a dish : DOILY
118. 2010 earthquake site : HAITI
120. Walk heavily : TRAMP
121. Universal ___ : DONOR
122. Blown out? : ERROR
123. Best hand in Texas hold 'em : POCKETACES
124. Talk face-to-face? : SKYPE
125. Having a ton of money to draw on : DEEPPOCKET
1. Presidential power first used by James Madison : POCKETVETO
2. Not on deck, say : BELOW
3. Sometimes-caramelized item : ONION
4. First National Leaguer with eight consecutive 100-R.B.I. seasons : OTT
5. Chicken ___ : KIEV
6. Michael and Peter : TSARS
7. Lab item that sounds like a popular website : UTUBE
8. Birth-related : NATAL
9. Reason for a food recall : ECOLI
10. Big name in food service : SYSCO
11. Show anxiety, in a way : PACE
12. 1989 world champion figure skater : ITO
13. Bear necessities? : CLAWS
14. Talk show starting in 2012 : KATIE
15. Miniature : POCKETSIZE
24. To be, to Béatrice : ETRE
25. Jazz quintet's home : UTAH
28. Half of the Nobel Prize winners, typically : SCIENTISTS
30. Secret society in Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" : ILLUMINATI
32. "Let's call it ___" : ADRAW
34. Muslim ascetic : FAQIR
35. Low, moist area : SWALE
36. On the way out : WANING
37. ___ worse than death : AFATE
38. Hang (over) : LOOM
39. Harold's partner in comedies : KUMAR
40. Ice : CLINCH
41. Friendly term of address : KIDDO
42. Madam : BAWD
43. "The Wire" antihero : OMAR
46. Downhill sport : LUGE
47. Tight ends? : TEES
52. "Come again?" : HUNH
53. Scott of "Happy Days" : BAIO
59. You'll trip if you drop it : ACID
61. "Gross!" : YUCK
62. Well-protected, nonrunning quarterback : POCKETPASSER
63. Sign word often translated into multiple languages : WELCOME
64. Duds : APPAREL
65. Tries : HASAGOAT
66. Emotional peaks : UPS
67. Pressing needs? : BARBELLS
69. Unlike eagles : OVERPAR
70. Appropriate : FITTING
71. Silver, say : POCKETCHANGE
73. Next-to-last #1 Beatles hit : LETITBE
74. Sully : TARNISH
78. Spits rhymes : RAPS
79. Beer buy : CASE
82. Tongue-lash : BERATE
85. Subject of a 2009 national tournament cheating scandal : SUDOKU
88. "Meet the Press" guest, for short : POL
94. Possibly : PERHAPS
96. Formed rising bubbles : FROTHED
98. It's "not" in Scotland : NAE
100. Apiece, at Wimbledon : ALL
101. Army attack helicopter : COBRA
102. ___ Pitman, developer of shorthand : ISAAC
104. Freedom Tower feature : SPIRE
105. Bar at the bar : ESTOP
106. Microwaveable snack item : HOTPOCKET
108. States further : ADDS
109. Corner piece : ROOK
110. Miniature : TINY
111. Dud : FLOP
112. Jane who becomes Mrs. Rochester : EYRE
114. Cause of a sudden drop in altitude : AIRPOCKET
116. Marie Curie, e.g.: Abbr. : MME
119. Word often shortened to one letter in text messages : ARE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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