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OH, SAY...

New York Times, Sunday, July 6, 2014

Author: Daniel C. Bryant
Editor: Will Shortz
Daniel C. Bryant
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
94/22/20047/6/20140
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6000300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58010

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Bryant. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Daniel C. Bryant notes: Although a number of my puzzles have been published over the years, I'm only now realizing there are sites for constructor comments. I'm a retired physician with, like many physicians (witness Roget of the ... more
Daniel C. Bryant notes: Although a number of my puzzles have been published over the years, I'm only now realizing there are sites for constructor comments. I'm a retired physician with, like many physicians (witness Roget of the thesaurus, Minor of the OED), a long-time interest in words. The idea of mapping notes across a grid came to me when I was getting back to playing the piano after many years. I also considered a rebus format, but think editors don't like those so much these days; and single letter notes running clear across the grid, but that sounded like an awful lot of work. In any event, I'm happy to see the final product appear, and on the Fourth of July weekend at that.
Jeff Chen notes: Ah, THERE'S the Fourth of July puzzle I was expecting! An homage to THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER today. One aspect that I really enjoyed about this puzzle was a post-solve analysis of the notes. Check out how much ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Ah, THERE'S the Fourth of July puzzle I was expecting! An homage to THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER today. One aspect that I really enjoyed about this puzzle was a post-solve analysis of the notes. Check out how much care Dan put into his layout of the musical STAFF. Not only does he place the notes in the correct musical intervals (SOL to MI is a third, SOL to DO is a fourth, etc.) but he gives us good approximations of the note durations (half notes, quarter notes, etc.). I like those careful touches.

Tribute puzzles can be hard to construct, because you run the risk of people thinking it's a straight forward tribute puzzle. Sometimes they tend to get boring if they're straightforward, more akin to reading a Wikipedia article instead of doing something fun. I like that Dan gives us interesting bits of trivia in addition to the obvious FRANCIS SCOTT KEY. Learning about the PRISONER EXCHANGE and the BRITISH PUB SONG was pretty fun. Who knew? Might explain some things about America today. Huh.

A few things did give me pause though, like what makes WHITNEY HOUSTON's performance better than ROSEANNE BARR's (don't answer that). Seriously though, WHITNEY HOUSTON but no JIMI HENDRIX? Sigh. I suppose there's no accounting for taste.

A lot of tough crossings today. Maybe not for experienced crossword solvers, but things like TITI/ISERE and ERST/AIT are going to be rough on some poor folks. When a puzzle has this many constraints, those types of things are going to happen. Going up to 140 words (this grid is 138) by breaking up FACTOTUM could have helped the former, but the latter is right in the midst of the second MI. Very tough. ASTI / STOA is right in that region too. I might have liked it better if two themers were eliminated (EIGHTEEN FOURTEEN doesn't do much for me, personally), and the scale notes spread out from the themers more. Just one man's opinion of course.

About Sunday puzzle word counts. Will's maximum is 140, and it's hard to adhere to. (Rich Norris at the LAT and Patti Varol at the Crosswords Club go up to 144.) So many times I wonder if ugly crossings and glue-y entries could be avoided by going above 140. But I do like how it forces constructors to work in longer fill, which usually enhances the solving experience. In today's case, as much as I like the word FACTOTUM, I'd much rather see it broken up, as the price of CRO, TITI, OTTS, ISERE in concentration was too high for me. It might have been just fine if there weren't already other compromises in the grid due to high themage — tough to say. Always difficult trade-offs in construction, especially since that opposite corner (the SW) turned out quite nice. You hate to break up a strong region like that.

Finally, a couple of beautiful clues. [Penn station?] repurposes a famous train station to clue IVY LEAGUE (it stretches the definition of "station" a bit, but in a fun way). And [Long arm] seemed so innocuous. I figured it had to be some term relating to NBA players or policemen (the long arm of the law). But it's simply a long "arm," in the sense of a firearm. Beautiful stuff.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,616
Across Down
1. Serving edges : ADINS
6. Husband one's energy, say : RESTUP
12. General servant : FACTOTUM
20. Salle de bain fixture : BIDET
21. Enunciate slowly : INTONE
22. Get to : IRRITATE
23. First U.S. multimillionaire : ASTOR
24. Lawyer who wrote 65-Across : FRANCISSCOTTKEY
26. Land's end? : SCAPE
27. Throw up : LOFT
28. Sound of expiration : AHH
29. Skiing destination Val d'___ : ISERE
30. Year 24-Across wrote 65-Across : EIGHTEENFOURTEEN
35. Any knight : SIR
36. Jan. 1 till now : YTD
37. Crayola color akin to fern : SEAGREEN
40. What the music to 65-Across was, originally : BRITISHPUBSONG
47. Some American Indian homes : ADOBES
51. As it happens : LIVE
52. Better to a rapper, worse to a patient : ILLER
53. Herbal Essences shampoo company : CLAIROL
54. Standoffish : ICY
55. Fixed things? : ASSETS
57. James Douglas Muir ___ (TV host's birth name) : LENO
60. Looking up : ROSY
61. Sun: Sp. : SOL
62. Ancient walkway : STOA
63. Four-time N.B.A. All-Star Pau ___ : GASOL
64. Farm female : SOW
65. This puzzle's theme, whose first notes are indicated by shaded squares : THESTARSPANGLEDBANNER
72. Camus, to Sartre, for many years : AMI
73. Blood-related : HEMIC
74. Sports org. founded in 1906 : NCAA
75. Book jacket staple : BIO
76. It's bound to be turned : PAGE
78. Beginner for a while? : ERST
79. Star in the Summer Triangle : ALTAIR
81. "I should ___ die with pity, / To see another thus": Shak. : EEN
82. Country whose national currency is the U.S. dollar : ECUADOR
85. French evenings : SOIRS
86. "Essays of ___" : ELIA
87. What the curious may do : PEERIN
88. Performer who gave a memorable rendition of 65-Across in 1991 : WHITNEYHOUSTON
93. Setting of James Clavell's "Gai-Jin" : YOKOHAMA
95. G.O.P. org. : RNC
96. Gator's tail? : ADE
99. Mission that 24-Across was on when he wrote 65-Across : PRISONEREXCHANGE
107. He prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem : MICAH
110. N.Y.C. subway inits. : IRT
111. Cloth for a man of the cloth? : ROBE
112. "The Tempest" spirit : ARIEL
113. Where 24-Across was inspired to write 65-Across : BALTIMOREHARBOR
117. It handles lettres : POSTE
118. Later : INAWHILE
119. Best Actor nominee for "Venus," 2006 : OTOOLE
120. Vanilla : PLAIN
121. Inked : TATTOOED
122. Symbols of change : DELTAS
123. Gossip : YENTA
1. Demean : ABASE
2. They're thrown in decathlons : DISCI
3. It may have a pet name : IDTAG
4. Greenhorn : NEOPHYTE
5. Overlapping fugue motifs : STRETTI
6. Long arm : RIFLE
7. "America's most innovative company" prior to its bankruptcy in 2001 : ENRON
8. Locale for this puzzle's shaded squares : STAFF
9. Sidekick of TV and film : TONTO
10. Where Michael Jordan played college ball: Abbr. : UNC
11. Louvre pyramid designer : PEI
12. Bit of spawn : FISHEGG
13. Sagittarius, with "the" : ARCHER
14. ___-Magnon : CRO
15. New World monkey : TITI
16. Giant Mel and Pirate Ed : OTTS
17. Film units : TAKES
18. Birth places? : UTERI
19. ___ Wolfsheim, gambler in "The Great Gatsby" : MEYER
25. Old Nick : SATAN
31. MS. managers : EDS
32. Initialism in a Beatles title : USSR
33. Old car company based in Lansing, Mich. : REO
34. Oscar-winning Patricia : NEAL
38. Author LeShan : EDA
39. Wrinkle-free, say : NOIRON
40. Second-rate : BLIST
41. Big copier maker : RICOH
42. Penn station? : IVYLEAGUE
43. Their, singularly : HISORHER
44. Crowd-___ : PLEASER
45. Last: Abbr. : ULT
46. Wanna-___ : BES
48. High level in karate : BROWNBELT
49. Counterpart of Aurora : EOS
50. Winking, maybe : SLY
53. Money in hand : COLDCASH
55. Italian province or its capital : ASTI
56. "Come ___?" (Italian greeting) : STA
57. Tarry : LAG
58. Immigrant's subj. : ESL
59. "Stay out" : NOENTRY
63. Health supplement co. : GNC
64. River of western Germany : SAAR
66. Like mascara in the rain : SMEARY
67. Some natl. leaders : PMS
68. River isle : AIT
69. Political writer Matt : BAI
70. Farm refrain : EIEIO
71. Farrow of MSNBC : RONAN
76. Oomph : PEP
77. See 79-Down : ACE
79. Get an ___ (77-Down) : AON
80. Bit of flimflam : LIE
83. God: It. : DIO
84. Peeling potatoes, perhaps : ONKP
85. Title name in a 2000 Eminem hit : STAN
86. Salad green : ESCAROLE
88. Sounded like a fan : WHIRRED
89. Speed : HASTE
90. Texter's qualification : IMO
91. "The Hobbit" figure : ORC
92. Blue : UNHAPPY
94. Player in orange and black : ORIOLE
96. Scope : AMBIT
97. Princess played by Naomi Watts : DIANA
98. Brilliance : ECLAT
100. Flynn of old film : ERROL
101. Metal worker? : ROBOT
102. Menace named after an African river : EBOLA
103. City whose name was the source of the word "sherry" : XERES
104. Jewish month : NISAN
105. "See?" : GETIT
106. Justice Kagan : ELENA
108. Periodic table abbr. : ATWT
109. Sunshine cracker : HIHO
114. "O Sole ___" : MIO
115. Brick transporter : HOD
116. Absorbed : ATE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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