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PREDICTABLE PARTINGS

New York Times, Sunday, April 27, 2014

Author: John Lampkin
Editor: Will Shortz
John Lampkin
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
612/15/20106/29/20160
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1102011
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1.57001

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Lampkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Lampkin notes: When I started constructing six years ago my goal was to land a Sunday NYT. At last! My success is no doubt due to the fact that I recently gave up all impure thoughts. It might also be due to the 12 theme ... more
John Lampkin notes: When I started constructing six years ago my goal was to land a Sunday NYT. At last! My success is no doubt due to the fact that I recently gave up all impure thoughts. It might also be due to the 12 theme entries and 122 theme squares but one never really knows for sure, does one.

The seed was TOOKOFF [The ecdysiast ...] I was then pleasantly surprised to discover how many idiomatic ways there are to depart, but just enough to make for a tight theme. Now that my goal is achieved it seems safe enough to revert to impure thoughts, yes?

Jeff Chen notes: Fun Sunday puzzle, using 'parting lines' clued for the appropriate profession. My favorite was [The demolitionist ...] BLEW THE JOINT. [The civil engineer...] HIT THE ROAD also made me chuckle, although I would ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Fun Sunday puzzle, using "parting lines" clued for the appropriate profession. My favorite was [The demolitionist ...] BLEW THE JOINT. [The civil engineer...] HIT THE ROAD also made me chuckle, although I would have loved it if it had been clued to the Incredible Hulk. HULK SMASH is my go-to phrase, plus it would have been hilarious to see [The Incredible Hulk ...] in the NYT.

Good job with the layout today, not an easy task to pull together a group of themers with widely varying length. It's often very difficult to use short themers, because they tend to get lost within the noise of the puzzle. But the way the theme clues worked, with the [(Profession) ...] made it really clear which ones were themers and which weren't. Nice.

Well constructed Sunday puzzle. I estimate that Sunday puzzles are roughly three to five times harder to put together than a weekday, given the bigger palette and the higher average word length that Will's specifications dictate. Needing to settle for a few ugly entries is more common than it is in a weekday puzzle. So to have just a few REHEAL, REGREW, SYSTS, OLIO, I ROAM type entries shows the care John put into his gridwork. Even better, he's spread those entries around, not allowing any one section carry too much burden.

Note John's spacing. Eight long themers are not easy to work around (not to mention the four shorties!). But John does really well, placing two rows between each pair of long themers — this spacing almost always works better than just a single row in between. The middle of the grid could have presented a challenge, but John saves the shortest of his long themers for this spot, allowing good spacing between all four of them. Professional layout, that it is.

I did have a lot of trouble in one spot, but that had more to do with the cluing than the grid. IRAE crossing ARLEN usually wouldn't be too bad, in that IRAE is clued so often as ["Dies ___"] that I can fill it in automatically, without even fully comprehending it. And ARLEN Specter is familiar enough, but I find it tough to remember the difference between ARLEN and ARDEN, and ALLEN seemed like it could be that composer. It's probably a fair crossing for many solvers, but it left me a little crabby. Not that this is wrong or right, but the effect of crabbiness was what it was. Perhaps it's a good lesson to me, to actually look up things and not take them for granted!

It usually just takes a few great clues to make me overlook some flaws, and [Where auto racers retire?] for PITS and [Current amount] for AMPERE did it for me. I especially love the latter, in that it totally misdirects from the straightforward electrical measurement for a current, making you think about how much you have in your pocket, or how much the current tally is.

Some themers worked well for me, some felt a bit forced, but overall an enjoyable puzzle. Plus, I learned the term "ecdysiast"! What a fanciful word for that, er, profession.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,546
Across Down
1. Docks : PIERS
6. Fill : SATE
10. Where auto racers retire? : PITS
14. Bayonets, say : STABS
19. "That Old Black Magic" composer : ARLEN
20. Bit of riding gear : CROP
21. Big acronym in energy : OPEC
22. Actress Parker : POSEY
23. The paparazzo ... : WASGONEINAFLASH
26. Día de San Valentín flowers : ROSAS
27. Catchy pop ditties : EARCANDY
28. Back from vacation, say : RESTED
30. "Santa Baby" singer : KITT
31. New York City's ___ River : EAST
32. Bad points : CONS
33. Division in biology : MITOSIS
35. The demolitionist ... : BLEWTHEJOINT
40. Fund-raising event : BENEFIT
41. Simple tune : AIR
42. Roll in a disaster supply kit : DUCTTAPE
44. Christmas wrapper? : ELF
45. High-toned : CLASSY
49. U.P.S. driver assignments: Abbr. : RTES
50. Knock down a peg : ABASE
52. Knock over : ROB
55. The civil engineer ... : HITTHEROAD
57. Grab (onto) : GLOM
58. One heading to the cape? : TORO
59. Kitchen tool : RICER
60. The lingerie manufacturer ... : SLIPPEDAWAY
63. Queen, e.g. : MONARCH
66. Emulate Harry Connick Jr. : CROON
68. ___ City, 1939 film locale : EMERALD
69. The chicken farmer ... : FLEWTHECOOP
71. "___ around around around around" (repeated line in Dion and the Belmonts' "The Wanderer") : IROAM
72. Suffers : AILS
73. Supporting force : ALLY
74. The sound technician ... : MADETRACKS
79. Scale part : SOL
80. "The Jungle Book" bear : BALOO
82. Gala : FETE
83. Fund for a third party : ESCROW
84. "Whew!" : MAN
85. Faultless : UNERRING
88. Dubai's federation: Abbr. : UAE
89. Maximally hip : COOLEST
92. The film director ... : QUITTHESCENE
96. Range of understanding : PURVIEW
97. Prankster's patsy : BUTT
98. Between continents, say : ASEA
99. Magazine founder Eric : UTNE
100. Execute perfectly : DOTOAT
102. Motivates : INSPIRES
106. Some hibernators : TOADS
108. The soda jerk ... : RANLICKETYSPLIT
111. Instruct : TUTOR
112. Twosome : DUET
113. Comic's sidekick : FOIL
114. Free-for-all : MELEE
115. Trial figure : STENO
116. Houston pro, informally : STRO
117. Just : ONLY
118. Showplace? : STAGE
1. Pet door opener : PAW
2. Roman "of wrath" : IRAE
3. "Lohengrin" lady : ELSA
4. Greened up, perhaps : REGREW
5. Winter vehicle : SNOCAT
6. Like many candles : SCENTED
7. Xeric : ARID
8. Commercial tiger's name : TONY
9. Oil spill-monitoring org. : EPA
10. Cornmeal dish : POLENTA
11. "Not for me" : IPASS
12. Trial : TEST
13. Word with color or rhyme : SCHEME
14. Origin of a stream: Abbr. : SPR
15. The ecdysiast ... : TOOKOFF
16. Birthplace of the Franciscan order : ASSISI
17. The percussionist ... : BEATIT
18. Operating procedures: Abbr. : SYSTS
24. Poet who wrote "So Thomas Edison / Never drank his medicine" : NASH
25. Leads, as a band : FRONTS
29. More than snacks : DINES
32. In a footnote, say : CITED
34. Prefix with -port : TELE
35. "St. John Passion" composer : BACH
36. Actress Taylor of "Mystic Pizza" : LILI
37. Quod ___ faciendum : ERAT
38. Panel member : JUROR
39. Twice tetra- : OCTA
40. Monk's grooves : BEBOP
43. "America by Heart" author, 2010 : PALIN
46. Drawn things : STRAWS
47. Polo, e.g. : SHIRT
48. Exclamation said before sticking out the tongue : YECCH
51. Current amount : AMPERE
52. Prime seating area : ROWA
53. Kind of tradition : ORAL
54. William who played Hopalong Cassidy : BOYD
56. Mend after further injury : REHEAL
57. Mop's commercial partner : GLO
58. Place for a touchdown : TARMAC
60. Bribe : SOP
61. Hardly be deadpan : EMOTE
62. Little angels : DEARS
63. Pratt Institute degs. : MFAS
64. Bunch of stuff : OLIO
65. Dickens orphan : NELL
66. Two points : COLON
67. Baseball great Campanella : ROY
70. Political muscle : CLOUT
71. PIN part: Abbr. : IDENT
74. Basis for promotion : MERIT
75. Going ___ : ATIT
76. Mötley ___ : CRUE
77. Paradox to be meditated on : KOAN
78. "Little ___' Pea" : SWEE
80. Hindu part of Indonesia : BALI
81. Have ___ for : ANEED
82. Tutti-___ : FRUTTI
84. The van driver ... : MOVEDON
86. Capable of handling : EQUALTO
87. Horrifying : GHASTLY
89. The paper doll maker ... : CUTOUT
90. Baroque : ORNATE
91. Some canapé picks : SWORDS
93. Spot : ESPY
94. Tremors : SEISMS
95. Cover completely : CARPET
96. Short strokes : PUTTS
97. Big boo-boo : BONER
101. Not relaxed : TAUT
102. Religious figure: Var. : IKON
103. Simon of Broadway : NEIL
104. That señorita : ELLA
105. Victory, to Wagner : SIEG
107. Hit show sign : SRO
109. Fiscal exec : CFO
110. One may have a ball at the country club : TEE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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