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WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT

New York Times, Sunday, July 13, 2014

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
Tom McCoy
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2311/14/201310/16/20160
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61341
Puzzle of the Week

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. McCoy. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The circled letters, when read clockwise, will reveal a quote from Gertrude Stein.
Tom McCoy notes: I constructed this puzzle while staying at my sister's house, so a big thanks to her for the hospitality! Another shout-out goes to Doris Day, whose recording of 'Que Sera Sera' I played many times while filling ... more
Tom McCoy notes: I constructed this puzzle while staying at my sister's house, so a big thanks to her for the hospitality! Another shout-out goes to Doris Day, whose recording of "Que Sera Sera" I played many times while filling the grid. (The song didn't make it into the puzzle, but its tautological refrain and circular storyline fit with the theme).

For a while, the central three theme answers were going to be I YAM WHAT I YAM, IT IS WHAT IT IS, and WE R WHO WE R (a Kesha song), which I thought made a fun trio due to their parallel wording. However, two strangely-spelled pop-culture references seemed a bit much for one puzzle, so I scrapped WE R WHO WE R. (IYAMWHATIYAM is not too hard to parse, but WERWHOWER would look pretty strange to those unfamiliar with the song).

The central ring was a late addition; I had already filled and clued a version of the puzzle before I thought of it. Incorporating the ring made the overall fill much more difficult because it required extra black squares in the center, forcing a wide-open periphery. Wording the note was also tricky because most people know the line as "A rose is a rose is a rose," but Gertrude Stein first phrased it as "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Therefore, the note does not mention where to start reading the ring, making both interpretations possible. I regretted leaving the note ambiguous, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Jeff Chen notes: What a perfect title for this clever idea. Self-evident, indeed! I'm impressed that Tom was able to come up wtih so many snappy phrases that fit the pattern. The Yogi Berra quote in the middle sings, and how could ... more
Jeff Chen notes: What a perfect title for this clever idea. Self-evident, indeed! I'm impressed that Tom was able to come up wtih so many snappy phrases that fit the pattern. The Yogi Berra quote in the middle sings, and how could you hate HATERS GONNA HATE? But the real topper is the quote from Gertrude Stein represented in a repeating circular pattern in the center. So many levels of delight today.

In just four published puzzles, I've picked two of Tom's as Puzzles of the Week now. Not bad sir, not bad at all. As Jim and I discussed, Tom's a constructor to watch. I've enjoyed my correspondence with him — seems like he has the right attitude: humble and willing to listen, learn and drive himself to improve. Hoping to see a lot more from him.

Liz Gorski's rebus interpretation of the Stein quote was another fun one. I appreciate Tom's new interpretation, taking things a step further.

Another thing I admired about this puzzle was its scientific tone. It's not going to RESONATE well with everyone, but I personally enjoyed seeing ENTROPY, LIGAND, and TITRATES in there, triggering good memories of college chem and physics classes. I bet it will trigger shudders for others, but you can't satisfy everyone. HATERS GONNA HATE, as they say.

I did wonder if this would have made a better weekday puzzle. A 21x can get a bit tedious to solve if there's not some factor that forces it to use an oversize grid. A visual element often does that for me. Grid art is another reason I find compelling. For me, the best Sunday puzzles are those that absolutely, positively, cannot be done in a normal 15x. All in all, I thought it was really nice to get all those snappy theme answers today, but it did get (pun intended) a little repetitive.

Neat idea, well laid out (great spacing between his themers and the central element), some strong, smooth fill and cluing, and a neat visual element. A winner of a Sunday in my book.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,623
Across Down
1. Fighting group : CADRE
6. Understood : GOT
9. Scientific truth : LAW
12. Lives : ABIDES
18. Opposite of wind up : UNREEL
20. Bobby on the ice : ORR
21. Memphis-to-Nashville dir. : ENE
22. Like yesterday : RECENT
23. Classic excuse for some misdemeanors : BOYSWILLBEBOYS
26. Intimidating words : ORELSE
27. Prefix with -graphic : IDEO
28. Mercury, but not Earth : GOD
29. Workman's aid : VAN
30. Heavy work : TOME
32. Carrier to Tokyo : ANA
33. World's largest particle physics lab, in Switzerland : CERN
34. Many a drive-thru installation : ATM
35. Declaration from Popeye : IYAMWHATIYAM
38. ___ Anne's (popular pretzel purveyor) : AUNTIE
41. Smugglers' worries : RAIDS
42. ___ mortal : MERE
43. Doubt-dispelling words from Lady Macbeth : WHATSDONEISDONE
48. Follower of lop : SIDED
49. Follower of lop : EARED
50. Formerly, once : ERST
51. Spectrum : GAMUT
53. "Alea iacta ___" ("The die is cast") : EST
54. Mutt's mutter? : ARF
57. "When You're Good to ___" ("Chicago" song) : MAMA
60. Aside, e.g. : REMARK
63. Encyclopedic : VAST
65. Frequent features of John Constable landscapes : ELMS
68. Atypical : RARE
70. Bearing in mind : NOTING
72. Famous Yogiism : ITAINTOVERTILLITSOVER
76. Traditional Gaelic singer : LILTER
77. Falafel holder : PITA
78. Food often with pentagonal cross sections : OKRA
79. "All ___" : RISE
80. Holy ___ : TERROR
82. Makes loop-the-loops? : SEWS
84. Chicken ___ diable : ALA
86. Spanish "that" : ESA
87. One summing things up : ADDER
89. They may come with covenants : ARKS
92. Property areas : ACRES
94. Match game? : SLOTS
97. Words dismissive of detractors : HATERSGONNAHATE
102. Send, in a way : WIRE
103. Urge to attack : SETON
104. Top choice : BLOUSE
105. Expression of resignation : ITISWHATITIS
109. Baseball stat. : AVG
110. "Did gyre and gimble in the ___": "Jabberwocky" : WABE
114. Take it easy : VEG
115. Cast : HURL
116. Sushi topper, maybe : ROE
117. Hardly highbrow reading : RAG
118. Material blocked by parental controls : SMUT
119. Fantasy title character whose name is one letter different from the creature he rides : ERAGON
121. "We will tolerate this no more!" : ENOUGHISENOUGH
125. Least plausible : LAMEST
126. Certain wardrobe malfunction : RIP
127. Filler of la mer : EAU
128. Mess up : TOUSLE
129. Covers with goo : SLIMES
130. Austin Powers, e.g. : SPY
131. Record stat : RPM
132. Guide : STEER
1. Like some measures : CUBIC
2. Cell part : ANODE
3. Whirlpool product : DRYER
4. Strike a chord : RESONATE
5. "Gross!" : EEW
6. Source of great profit : GOLDMINE
7. Mercury or Earth : ORB
8. District in Rome : TREVI
9. Sheldon's apartment-mate on "The Big Bang Theory" : LEONARD
10. "___ questions?" : ANY
11. Emmy-winning drama four years in a row, with "The" : WESTWING
12. Some memory triggers : AROMAS
13. Stereotypical beatnik accessory : BERET
14. Hard water : ICE
15. Pushed back : DELAYED
16. Capture : ENSNARE
17. Fuming : STEAMED
19. Bonding molecule : LIGAND
24. Kind of ticket : LOTTO
25. Howl : BAY
31. "My, my!" : OHDEAR
36. Card game with a "Chairman" : MAO
37. Ape : IMITATOR
39. Letters of certification? : USDA
40. Ending for how or who, for Shakespeare : EER
43. One that's a bore? : WEEVIL
44. Fights : HASATIT
45. Where prints may be picked up : ARTSALE
46. Movement : ISM
47. Send in troops, say : STARTAWAR
48. Some wrestlers : SUMOS
52. Bonkers : MENTAL
55. Went back over : RETROD
56. Rapper ___ Rida : FLO
58. Juin preceder : MAI
59. 1968 live folk album : ARLO
61. "Tender Is the Night" locale, with "the" : RIVIERA
62. Mideast legislature : KNESSET
64. Determines the concentration of a dissolved substance : TITRATES
66. Team V.I.P. : MVP
67. Ocho - dos : SEIS
69. Certain ruminant : ELK
71. "Summer Nights" musical : GREASE
73. Colorful, pebble-like candies : NERDS
74. Bit of trip planning: Abbr. : RTE
75. Roth ___ : IRA
81. Take up again, as a case : REHEAR
83. Yearbook sect. : SRS
85. Small power sources : AAAS
88. Ones that warn before they attack : RATTLERS
90. Former employer for Vladimir Putin, for short : KGB
91. Sunny room : SOLARIUM
93. Reams : CHEWSOUT
94. Takes a turn : SWIVELS
95. Strict : LITERAL
96. Work for a folder : ORIGAMI
98. What you might be in France? : TOI
99. Degree of disorder in a system : ENTROPY
100. Pop stars? : NOVAS
101. Bit of wisdom : NUGGET
103. Pushes aside : SHUNTS
106. "___ Baby Are You?" (1920 show tune) : WHOSE
107. Debt note : IOU
108. Rocker Bob : SEGER
111. Beguile : AMUSE
112. Corn chip since 1966 : BUGLE
113. Clear sky : ETHER
120. Pip : GEM
122. Barely beat : NIP
123. Chance, poetically : HAP
124. Refusals : NOS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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