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PUT A LID ON IT!

New York Times, Sunday, September 20, 2015

Author: Jason Mueller and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Jason Mueller
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
49/20/201512/19/20161
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1300000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55001
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
667/5/20102/23/201739
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1954111665
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633122

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 142, Blocks: 82 Missing: none – this is a pangram This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Mueller This is puzzle # 42 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: Jason Mueller: Hi, solvers, I'm proud to make my New York Times debut! About myself: I'm a University of Missouri alum (BS Physics and Mathematics; MA Economics) and former captain of the Mizzou quiz bowl team. ... more
Constructor notes:

Jason Mueller: Hi, solvers, I'm proud to make my New York Times debut! About myself: I'm a University of Missouri alum (BS Physics and Mathematics; MA Economics) and former captain of the Mizzou quiz bowl team. I started constructing about three years ago and have previously had a Sunday puzzle in the LA Times.

I got the idea to make a puzzle with people who wear hats with the hats appearing on top of the people around the time of this year's Oscar ceremony. I knew it was a good idea but a difficult one to pull off (what with the hats stacked directly on the main theme entries), so I asked Jeff to help and he came through, helping with choosing the theme entries, doing much of the heavy work with the fill, and polishing my draft of the clues.

We originally tried to fit a pillbox on Jackie Kennedy in the middle of the grid, but when that wouldn't fill cleanly, went for a kepi on Charles de Gaulle. Our original submission had LNG in the fill, so we came up with a revised version (but had to go to 142 words to make the fill clean). I noticed that Will and Joel changed MAA and SAT to MAO and SOT, which is a fine change.

Jeff Chen notes: It usually takes 20+ ideas to come up with a good one. To Jason's credit, he kept at it, never giving up as we bounced around concepts. Finally, his idea of famous people 'wearing' their trademark hat amused both ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

It usually takes 20+ ideas to come up with a good one. To Jason's credit, he kept at it, never giving up as we bounced around concepts. Finally, his idea of famous people "wearing" their trademark hat amused both of us.

Calamity Jane with her Stetson

We wanted an even gender split, but we couldn't find many females with a trademark hat (Jackie Kennedy, couldn't you have worn a hat without an "X" in it?). Luckily Jason thought of CALAMITY JANE, so we kicked off the puzzle with her in the upper left. I usually try not to use REATA, but 1.) that corner was rough to fill, and 2.) it's amusing to have the STETSON atop her head and a REATA twirling above.

Speaking of grid-filling issues, yikes. We felt seven people would be minimum, otherwise solvers might find their experience thin. But it took 50ish skeletons, shifting people and hats around, before one finally looked feasible. (UNKEYED comes from my music background — apologies if it's not familiar to you.)

But in that grid, Will pointed out that LNG (liquid natural gas) would be rough for solvers. He was absolutely right. Even though we crossed those letters fairly, LNG was something I looked the other way for, because that single entry made the skeleton possible.

You'd think I'd learn after all this time.

So we rebooted. After dozens more iterations, I threw in the towel and suggested that we go up to 142 words. We were still able to incorporate a lot of long slots for snazzy fill, so thankfully Will gave the thumbs-up. Jason worked in a lot of good stuff like WHAT A GUY and TV DAD.

I'll fess up to OSA, an entry I really dislike. But it allowed for EMOJI, DATA SET, and LEFT JABS — three goodies for the price of an OSA. I still cringe at seeing it, but hopefully solvers will find the trade-off favorable.

Finally, we had to use much more glue than I like in a crossword, but with much more than average thematic material, plus the constraint of seven pairs of entries having to be right atop each other, having some was unavoidable.

Fun to work with Jason!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 24,057
Across Down
1. Just : FAIR
5. Many lines of code : IFS
8. Legitimate : VALID
13. Demolish : RAZE
17. You can learn something by this : ROTE
18. Portrait overlooking Tiananmen Square : MAO
19. 23-Across topper : FEDORA
20. One getting a tax write-off, maybe : DONOR
21. Filer's concern : IRSAUDIT
23. Fictional archaeologist : INDIANAJONES
25. 28-Across topper : STETSON
26. Indigo plants : ANILS
27. Kramer's first name on "Seinfeld" : COSMO
28. Famed frontierswoman : CALAMITYJANE
30. Hip-hop name modifier : LIL
31. Publishing mogul, for short : HEF
32. Toughens, as metal : ANNEALS
33. Gain : WIN
34. 40-Across topper : BERET
39. Post-boomer group : GENX
40. Subject of "Guerrillero Heroico" : CHEGUEVARA
42. Three-time Nobel Prize-winning organization : REDCROSS
47. Al Bundy or Phil Dunphy : TVDAD
49. Nixing phrase on movie night : SEENIT
50. Arctic jackets : ANORAKS
51. Shoplift, in slang : BOOST
52. Site of a miracle in Daniel 3 : FURNACE
53. They pop up in the morning : EGGOS
54. 58-Across topper : KEPI
55. ___ breve : ALLA
57. Shipmate : TAR
58. Leader of the Free French : CHARLESDEGAULLE
64. Quick shot? : PIC
67. Jack who ran for vice president in 1996 : KEMP
68. Chits : IOUS
69. Modern-day hieroglyph : EMOJI
73. South American rodents : AGOUTIS
76. Bugs, e.g. : BUNNY
78. Contents of a spreadsheet : DATASET
80. 83-Across topper : BOWLER
81. Arctic masses : BERGS
82. Starts of some one-twos : LEFTJABS
83. He helped move a piano in "The Music Box" : STANLAUREL
85. Violinist Leopold : AUER
86. Like Mandarin or Cantonese : TONAL
87. Pinch : NIP
88. 95-Across topper : PORKPIE
91. Loan source for a mom-and-pop store: Abbr. : SBA
94. Finish on a canvas? : TKO
95. Star of "Sherlock Jr." and "Steamboat Bill Jr." : BUSTERKEATON
97. 102-Across topper : TOQUE
100. Giving goose bumps, say : EERIE
101. City about which Gertrude Stein said "There is no there there" : OAKLAND
102. Italian pitchman of note : CHEFBOYARDEE
105. Something cooks put stock in : CONSOMME
106. Catches a wave : SURFS
107. More indie, say : EDGIER
108. Absorbed : ATE
109. Queen of Jordan : NOOR
110. Ancient hieroglyph : IBIS
111. Sends to oblivion : DOOMS
112. Co. that originated Dungeons & Dragons : TSR
113. Ballpark amts. : ESTS
1. Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project : FRISCH
2. Powerful bloodlines? : AORTAE
3. Word after in and of : ITSELF
4. Bit of cowboy gear : REATA
5. "Been better, been worse" : IMDOINGOK
6. Quality of voices in the distance : FAINTNESS
7. Swillbelly : SOT
8. Poison compounds produced by snakes : VENINS
9. Confuse : ADDLE
10. Mom on "Family Guy" : LOIS
11. Journalist Flatow : IRA
12. Getting down, so to speak : DANCING
13. Leeway : ROOM
14. ___ Christi : ANNO
15. Actress Kravitz of "Mad Max: Fury Road" : ZOE
16. Triage locales, for short : ERS
19. Like answers on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" : FINAL
20. Some club hires : DJS
22. West Point inits. : USMA
24. Verizon purchase of 2015 : AOL
26. Title character in a Sophocles play : AJAX
29. Desires : YENS
30. Perjured oneself : LIED
33. "Isn't he great!" : WHATAGUY
34. Drink that's the subject of several rules in the Code of Hammurabi : BEER
35. Still : EVEN
36. Approached quickly : RANAT
37. Author Jong : ERICA
38. "Long ball" : TATER
40. Investment instruments, for short : CDS
41. Routine : USUAL
42. Pioneering Arctic explorer John : RAE
43. Like the 13 Colonies: Abbr. : ENG
44. Barker : DOG
45. Pursuer of Capt. Hook : CROC
46. Spate : RASH
47. Twirlers : TOPS
48. Invalidating : VOIDING
51. "Out of my way!" : BEEPBEEP
52. ___ bug : FLU
54. Continental carrier : KLM
56. Velázquez's "___ Meninas" : LAS
59. Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
60. Like some tel. nos. : RES
61. Eternities : EONS
62. Baltic native : LETT
63. Key with four sharps: Abbr. : EMAJ
64. Coors competitor : PABST
65. Billy Joel's "___ Extremes" : IGOTO
66. Wes of PBS's "History Detectives" : COWAN
70. Spanish she-bear : OSA
71. One of the Bushes : JEB
72. Post-___ : ITS
74. It parallels a radius : ULNA
75. Opposite of a poker face : TELL
77. Website necessity : URL
78. A long-established history : DEEPROOTS
79. Literature Nobelist J. M. Coetzee, by birth : AFRIKANER
81. Gusto : BRIO
82. Bo's cousin on "The Dukes of Hazzard" : LUKE
84. Discordant, to some : UNKEYED
85. Museo contents : ARTE
88. Mashes into a pulp : PUREES
89. Basketry material : OSIER
90. Cartoon cries : EEKS
91. Actor John of "Full House" : STAMOS
92. Bit of wit : BONMOT
93. Angström or Celsius : ANDERS
94. Your, in Siena : TUO
95. Darken : BEDIM
96. Solo : ALONE
97. Hatcher who was a Bond girl : TERI
98. Slays, informally : OFFS
99. Ones going for hikes, for short? : QBS
100. As a result : ERGO
102. CBS show with a 15-year run ending in 2015 : CSI
103. Nucleus : HUB
104. Kerfuffle : ADO
105. Cool dude : CAT

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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