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BRIGHT IDEAS

New York Times, Sunday, March 23, 2014

Author: Ian Livengood
Editor: Will Shortz
Ian Livengood
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554/12/20109/15/20164
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617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 79 Missing: {X} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Livengood. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is done, the circled letters, reading counterclockwise from the top, will spell a phrase relating to the puzzle's theme.
Ian Livengood notes: I saw a clue for AHA and — wait for it — the light went on in my head. The AHA MOMENT spelled out as a light bulb was the next logical step, followed by THOMAS EDISON and INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB (a ... more
Ian Livengood notes: I saw a clue for AHA and — wait for it — the light went on in my head. The AHA MOMENT spelled out as a light bulb was the next logical step, followed by THOMAS EDISON and INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB (a 21!). I toyed with listing other Edison inventions or accomplishments, but a quote seemed more appropriate.

The construction was tricky since I couldn't have the themers running through the middle of the grid mucking up the circled answers. But aside from two or three short clunkers, I'm pleased with the fill. I paused at inserting DNA MOLECULE and OPEN CIRCUIT since they seemed too close to the Edison/electricity/science theme, but eventually decided to roll with 'em.

Hope solvers enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful puzzle today, everything I personally like to see in a Sunday-size grid: nice theme answers, strong, clean fill, and a visual element. Plus, an inspirational message! Often, I get a little worn-out by a ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Beautiful puzzle today, everything I personally like to see in a Sunday-size grid: nice theme answers, strong, clean fill, and a visual element. Plus, an inspirational message! Often, I get a little worn-out by a 21x21 crossword puzzle, but this one kept me delighted from start to end. Doesn't hurt that I just saw Ian at the ACPT and had a drink with him, really enjoying chatting about crossword construction as always. Nothing better than talking shop with fellow constructors.

Except if Will is paying, of course.

One aspect I thought Ian did very well was in capturing elements of many different types of puzzles. Quote puzzles by themselves tend to be on the dull side (unless the quote is spectacularly funny or insightful), but not only does Ian restrict the quote part to three entries, he ties it in with the puzzle's visual. I had to work to uncover the quote, and it was totally worth it.

It's also neat when a constructor's personality and interests shine through. Ian is a sports guy, so seeing beautiful long entries like NFC SOUTH, CHICAGO BULLS, and my hometown THE NINERS was a pleasure. Some may accuse him of making the long fill too sports-oriented, but it's not like he's used TOLEDO MUDHENS or the TACOMA RAINIERS. Come on, it's THE NINERS, people! Grumble grumble, stupid play calling / decision making at the end of last year's NFC championship game, grumble grumble.

It did take me a little while to figure out the AHA MOMENT running around the light bulb, because I skipped the notepad (those just tend to seem superfluous) and tried to read it from the lower left corner going clockwise. It's the natural thing to do, right? Getting an OMAHA TNE wasn't quite doing it for me though, so I begrudgingly went back and read the notepad. Fine, I'll follow directions!

As with all of Ian's stuff, the fill is so smooth. He's the one who got me on a kick against partials, especially five-letter ones. It's amazing how much good stuff he packed in while avoiding ugly stuff, just some short NNE, CIR, ADE, SOC, ULT, OLEO kind of filler, barely noticable (I had to go back and search it out). I totally agree with his use of cheater squares in the middle row of the puzzle (before SEAL and after IDOS), which I'm sure made those sections smoother. That section above SEAL (where FEDORAS is) I'm sure would have been crunchier if not for that cheater square.

Can't say enough good stuff about this puzzle!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,511
Across Down
1. Expands, in a way : ADDSON
7. Sister of Helios : EOS
10. ___ room : REC
13. Elite unit : ATEAM
18. Gambling mecca : MONACO
19. Saint's home, for short : NFCSOUTH
22. Venomous African tree-dweller : MAMBA
23. Start of a motivational comment attributed to 86-Across : IHAVENOTFAILEDIVEJUST
26. Justin Timberlake's "Cry ___ River" : MEA
27. [That makes me so uncomfortable] : CRINGE
28. Lockup : CAN
29. Middle of the comment : FOUNDTENTHOUSANDWAYS
37. Toolbar feature : HELP
38. Director Nicolas : ROEG
39. Record : LOG
40. Facial moisturizing brand : OLAY
41. "Power" suffix : ADE
42. Sticks in the closet? : MOPS
43. End of the comment : THATWONTWORK
48. College major, briefly : SOC
49. Commercial lead-in to Pen : EPI
50. Rocket : SOAR
51. Cousin of "Ugh!" : BAH
52. Osaka-to-Sapporo dir. : NNE
53. Law firm department : TRUSTS
55. Fired on : SHOTAT
57. Good-for-nothing : USELESS
59. Resort city in 1945 news : YALTA
60. Small scene : SPAT
61. Restricted part of an urban area : BUSLANE
63. Ball player? : SEAL
64. Prominent feature of an Obama caricature : EAR
65. Ray Charles hosted it in 1977: Abbr. : SNL
66. Couple at the altar? : IDOS
69. Start to show one's real potential : BLOSSOM
72. So : THUS
73. Birthplace of Buddha, now : NEPAL
75. Pitcher Mike with 270 wins : MUSSINA
78. Christmas cookie ingredient : NUTMEG
80. Plagues : BESETS
81. Eponymous German physicist : OHM
82. Combined with : CUM
83. Watering hole for Homer and Barney : MOES
84. Coin collector : JAR
85. Pelican's home, for short : NBA
86. See 23-Across : THOMASEDISON
90. The Durbeyfield girl, in literature : TESS
91. Dr. Seuss animal : CAT
92. It has paper denominations from 5 to 500 : EURO
93. Ex-Fed head Bernanke : BEN
94. Some body work, in slang : TATS
95. Zippo alternatives : BICS
96. Nickname for 86-Across : THEWIZARDOFMENLOPARK
103. Barrel of fun? : KEG
104. Saffron-flavored dish : PAELLA
105. Brow line? : ARC
106. Development of 86-Across ... as depicted in the middle of this grid : INCANDESCENTLIGHTBULB
115. World capital on the slope of an active volcano : QUITO
116. Dolph of "Rocky IV" : LUNDGREN
117. More chilling : EERIER
118. Throw around : STREW
119. D.C. mover and shaker: Abbr. : SEN
120. Scandinavian coin : ORE
121. Actor Christian : SLATER
1. French kiss recipient, maybe : AMI
2. "How silly of me!" : DOH
3. Bit of a code : DNAMOLECULE
4. Stockpile : SAVEUP
5. View that may cost you extra : OCEAN
6. Security Council veto : NON
7. Ins : ENTREES
8. Near future : OFFING
9. Hardly enough : SCANT
10. The French way? : RUE
11. It may be delayed by a storm: Abbr. : ETD
12. United Center team : CHICAGOBULLS
13. Update, say : AMEND
14. Garden State casino, informally, with "the" : TAJ
15. Outback native : EMU
16. Crunches crunch them : ABS
17. Yoga base : MAT
20. ___ of relief : SIGH
21. Nondairy item in the dairy aisle : OLEO
24. Ones without a leg to stand on? : OCTOPI
25. Part of a moving line : VAN
29. Blues Brothers wear : FEDORAS
30. Nosedives : DROPS
31. Utmost: Abbr. : ULT
32. Farm mother : SOW
33. "My word!" : WOW
34. Stag, maybe : ALONE
35. "The fish that got away" and others : YARNS
36. Comic Wanda : SYKES
37. Hurried : HASTY
42. "Death Magnetic" band : METALLICA
43. Drinking binge : TOOT
44. Accessory for the 91-Across : HAT
45. Many an Al Jazeera viewer : ARAB
46. Pioneer org. : NASA
47. Five-time Super Bowl champions, informally : THENINERS
50. Barak's successor : SHARON
54. Sharp pains : STABS
55. Travel agency listings : SPAS
56. Cabooses : TUSHES
58. Starts of news articles : LEDES
60. Deli stock with seeds : SESAMEBAGELS
62. Tight : SNUG
67. What an electric current does not flow through : OPENCIRCUIT
68. Relaxed, say : SATBACK
70. Difficult weight : ONUS
71. Appropriate flowers for Mother's Day? : MUMS
72. Bootleggers' banes : TMEN
74. Exams offered four times a yr. : LSATS
75. Certain Bach composition : MOTET
76. "For sure" : UHHUH
77. Gooey campfire treat : SMORE
79. "Not ___ shabby!" : TOO
80. Cesare Angelotti in "Tosca," e.g. : BASSO
84. It gets you off schedule : JETLAG
87. Place to store hay : MOW
88. German article : DER
89. Third line on many a ballot: Abbr. : IND
90. Sunbathing evidence : TANLINE
94. One with bills piling up? : TELLER
95. "My Name Is ___," gold album of 1965 : BARBRA
97. "Tell me about it!" : IKNOW
98. One of two parts of a British puzzle? : ZED
99. ___ page : OPED
100. Canine : FANG
101. D.C. mover : METRO
102. Pi ___, "Life of Pi" protagonist : PATEL
106. 100s of ordinary people? : IQS
107. Fanatic : NUT
108. Geometry fig. : CIR
109. Had something : ATE
110. Bring into court : SUE
111. "___ = Politics" (TV slogan) : CNN
112. Guys : HES
113. Food Network host Sandra : LEE
114. "It's f-f-freezing!" : BRR

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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