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MIXED RESULTS

New York Times, Sunday, March 26, 2017

Author: Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Tracy Gray
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
209/8/20103/26/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5135510
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59420
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
677/5/20103/26/201740
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2054111665
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633132

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 81 Missing: {FQX} This is puzzle # 20 for Ms. Gray. This is puzzle # 67 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes: TRACY: It was so much fun to team up with Jeff again for our second collaborative NYT Sunday puzzle! I contacted Jeff last November with an idea I had been working on which crossed two colors through a shared ... more
Constructor notes:

TRACY: It was so much fun to team up with Jeff again for our second collaborative NYT Sunday puzzle!

I contacted Jeff last November with an idea I had been working on which crossed two colors through a shared rebus box to equal a third "mixed result" color, but I was struggling with how to represent the mixed result color in the grid that would make sense to the solver. I didn't want a lot of cross reference type clues, and a three-way rebus (has that ever been done before?) or a diagonally-running mixed result theme entry would be too confusing, IMO.

Not surprisingly, Jeff was able to think outside the proverbial (rebus) box concept and notice that certain pairs of colors shared a common letter where they could cross and "mix" with each other. For consistency, we picked four pairs of colors that included red, and from there, we came up with a list of colorful theme entries based on the final colors we had chosen. Lastly, we substituted the actual colors in the theme entries with one or the other mixing colors.

Jeff did the heavy duty grid work and placement of the theme entries, and we both shared in filling and cluing. The result, we hope, is a fun and lively Sunday puzzle. Enjoy!

JEFF: Such fun to work with Tracy! We went back and forth maybe 20 times before settling on this implementation. In case you missed it, an example is that RED + BLUE (RED crossing BLUE) = PURPLE, so you should interpret both crossing answers as the mixed color. Not RED PEOPLE EATER or BLUE HEARTS, but PURPLE PEOPLE EATER and PURPLE HEARTS! I've colorized the grid below to clarify.

It was hard to find enough well-known color mixes, and it turned out that almost all of them used RED. Both of us were worried about duplicating words in the puzzle, so I pushed us to use RED as a hidden word, i.e. within HIGHER EDUCATION, to avoid the outright duplications.

Thankfully, Tracy pushed back, pointing out that one way or another, we'd have duplicated answers — both the across and the down mixed color would be the same, i.e. PURPLE duplicated in (PURPLE) PEOPLE EATER / (PURPLE) HEARTS. If we're gonna have some duplication, why not go all out?

It took me a while to get used to that idea, but I liked it more and more every time I thought about it. Sort of a quantum duality. Very glad for Tracy's input there!

Jeff Chen notes: Oof, this grid was a bear. The skeleton alone nearly didn't come together, what with four pairs of long crossing answers needed. And we had to lay them out such that they didn't interfere with each other! Eight ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Oof, this grid was a bear. The skeleton alone nearly didn't come together, what with four pairs of long crossing answers needed. And we had to lay them out such that they didn't interfere with each other! Eight long themers is tough enough in a 21x21, but try intersecting pairs of them and cramming them all in. Not easy.

And then there was stupid old crossword symmetry to worry about. Tracy put together a good set of theme answer pairs to start, but we quickly realized that having to intersect answers at the E of RED each time was going to give us a symmetry nightmare. Specifically, the placement of the letter E within BLUE vs. GREEN was not good.

A few days later, it occurred to me that if we pluralized GREENS, we could make everything work. Tracy disliked the pluralization, though, and rightly so — a lone plural themer is inelegant. My a-ha moment might have come when eating HASH GREENS — er, (BROWNS) — which is much more natural in the plural.

Once in a while, the crossword gods throw you a bone.

The grid came together fairly quickly after that. I laid out about 20 skeletons before landing on one I thought would work. It also looked like we might be able to go down to 136 words so we could add in a whole bunch of snazzy material. But after a lot of back and forth, we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't going to be worth the crossword glue needed to hold those (not-so-snazzy) long fill together. I hate giving up on a tough construction challenge, but we decided it was the right thing to do. Going up to 138 words allowed for much, much cleaner fill, and still a good amount of KOHLRABI, TEND BAR, STOPGAP, RAZOR WIT, CATSUIT, I DOUBT IT, etc. sort of bonuses.

Such fun when a collaboration comes together like this, where we have to work like the dickens and struggle through so many problems. Finally getting across the finish line hasn't felt so satisfying in ages.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 24,610
Across Down
1. Martin Van Buren was the first president who wasn't one : WASP
5. Get ready for a long drive : TANKUP
11. I.M. chuckle : LOL
14. Martial arts move : CHOP
18. Vitamix competitor : OSTER
20. Hoity-toity : SNOOTY
21. Shelley's "To the Moon," e.g. : ODE
22. It's between the Study and Lounge on a Clue board : HALL
23. 1970s TV cartoon series, with "The" : PINKPANTHERSHOW
26. World capital whose seal depicts St. Hallvard : OSLO
27. Pull out : SECEDE
28. It might give you a shock : EEL
29. Missile Command maker : ATARI
30. Scintilla : WHIT
31. Filmer in a stadium : SKYCAM
33. Noodle dish : RAMEN
35. Rushes on banks? : SEDGES
37. Medicinal plant : ALOE
39. Possible subject of a French scandal : AMIE
40. German article : DER
41. "Who ___ you?" : ASKED
45. 1973 #1 hit for Jim Croce : BADBADLEROYBROWN
51. Téa of "Madam Secretary" : LEONI
52. Pull (in) : REIN
53. Philosopher who wrote "To be sane in a world of madmen is in itself madness" : ROUSSEAU
55. It may carry a virus : EMAIL
56. First and last word of the Musketeers' motto : ALL
57. Pour, as wine : DECANT
60. Degree in math? : NTH
61. Wrestler's wear : SINGLET
63. Claw : TEARAT
65. Tickles : AMUSES
68. Target protector, perhaps : MALLCOP
70. Jury-rigged : STOPGAP
72. Monastery head's jurisdiction : ABBACY
75. Feudal lords : LIEGES
77. Practice mixology : TENDBAR
81. Chum : PAL
82. James of NBC's "The Blacklist" : SPADER
84. One side in golf's Ryder Cup : USA
86. Song of mourning : DIRGE
87. Big, husky sorts : BRUISERS
90. Pennsylvania's "Gem City" : ERIE
92. Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
93. Title creature in a 1958 #1 Sheb Wooley hit : PURPLEPEOPLEEATER
97. Buick model : REGAL
98. Planter's aid : HOE
99. Figure skating jump : LUTZ
100. It's a wrap : SARI
102. False start? : PSEUDO
105. Words of defiance : CANSO
106. Control groups : JUNTAS
110. Captain of the Pequod : AHAB
111. Actor Reeves : KEANU
113. Onetime acquisition of G.E. : RCA
116. Shipping coolant : DRYICE
118. Cameo, for one : PART
119. Dystopian film of 1971 : ACLOCKWORKORANGE
122. Rihanna album featuring "Work" : ANTI
123. Juice brand whose middle letter is represented as a heart : POM
124. Tushy : HEINIE
125. Biggest employer in Moline, Ill. : DEERE
126. Bridge position : WEST
127. Drop-___ : INS
128. GPS, e.g., in military lingo : SATNAV
129. Wild Turkey and Jim Beam : RYES
1. Bowls over : WOWS
2. Word both before and after "to" : ASHES
3. Retriever's retrieval, maybe : STICK
4. Little Rascals' ring-eyed pooch : PETEY
5. Big airport inits. : TSA
6. Hathaway of "The Intern" : ANNE
7. Point out : NOTE
8. Cabbage variety : KOHLRABI
9. Rice-Eccles Stadium player : UTE
10. Image on the back of a dollar bill : PYRAMID
11. Lindsay of "Freaky Friday" : LOHAN
12. Sign of decay : ODOR
13. Civil rights icon John : LEWIS
14. Hearty soups : CHOWDERS
15. "Idaho cakes," in diner lingo : HASHBROWNS
16. Slapstick sidekick of old comedy : OLLIE
17. Movie review revelations : PLOTS
19. B-side of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" : PINKCADILLAC
24. Toll : PEAL
25. Shade of gray : STEEL
32. Gaggle : geese :: ___ : emus : MOB
34. Actress Peet : AMANDA
36. Big name in ice cream : EDYS
38. Rank between viscount and marquess : EARL
41. What may be brewing : ALES
42. Interstate hauler : SEMI
43. Zen master's query : KOAN
44. Conundrum : ENIGMA
46. Shoulder muscle : DELTOID
47. Lyre-plucking Muse : ERATO
48. Howard of Hollywood : RON
49. Delighting? : OUTAGE
50. Letter header : DATE
54. Stammered syllables : UHS
56. Delta hub, in brief : ATL
58. European language : ERSE
59. Costume worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in "Batman Returns" : CATSUIT
62. Parisian palace : ELYSEE
64. French for "sword" : EPEE
66. Easy-to-peel fruit : MANDARINORANGE
67. "Rabbit Is Rich" Pulitzer winner : UPDIKE
69. Hug : CLASP
71. Org. that usually meets in evenings : PTA
72. P.D. dispatch : APB
73. Epstein-___ virus : BARR
74. Military decorations featuring George Washington's profile : PURPLEHEARTS
76. Welcomes : GREETS
78. Jolly Roger, in "Peter Pan" : BRIG
79. Indian city whose name is an anagram of some Indian music : AGRA
80. Bona fide : REAL
83. ___ Bowl : PRO
85. Matches, at a table : SEES
88. "Hmm ... probably not" : IDOUBTIT
89. Burned rubber : SPED
91. Comic's asset : RAZORWIT
94. South American prairie : LLANO
95. Harem servants, often : EUNUCHS
96. One of the geeks on "The Big Bang Theory" : RAJ
101. Former Big Apple mayor Giuliani : RUDY
102. Fruit tree : PAPAW
103. 1953 hit film set in Wyoming : SHANE
104. Animal with striped legs : OKAPI
105. Difficult conditions for sailing : CALMS
107. City with a University of Texas campus : TYLER
108. "Revelations" choreographer : AILEY
109. Hit pay dirt : SCORE
112. "The Wealth of Nations" subj. : ECON
114. Its state song is "Yankee Doodle": Abbr. : CONN
115. Opera highlight : ARIA
117. ___ milk : EWES
120. Mauna ___ : KEA
121. Bandleader Eubanks, familiarly : KEV

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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