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ROLLING IN THE AISLES

New York Times, Sunday, January 1, 2017

Author:
Matthew Sewell
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
98/24/20163/11/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2104011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65121
Matthew Sewell

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 67 Missing: {JQX} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Sewell. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Matthew Sewell notes:
I developed a very different version of this puzzle as a 15x15, but along the way I came to the sinking realization that though maybe the gimmick was technically interesting, it didn't ... read more

I developed a very different version of this puzzle as a 15x15, but along the way I came to the sinking realization that though maybe the gimmick was technically interesting, it didn't seem like it would be especially enjoyable for solvers. I scrapped that approach, and asked myself how I might inject some fun into the idea... and, as often happens in life, posing the question in the right way was all it took to find a path forward.

My thanks to Will and Joel for their improvements, and I hope this provides an entertaining start to your puzzling year.

Jeff Chen notes:
ROLLING IN THE AISLES literally interpreted as HA rebuses sitting in places that have aisles … with a space put in to represent the aisle! Fun visual. I knew something was ... read more

ROLLING IN THE AISLES literally interpreted as HA rebuses sitting in places that have aisles … with a space put in to represent the aisle! Fun visual.

I knew something was going on when ED HARRIS wouldn't fit (I just watched "The Right Stuff" recently), so I had a slight deflation, thinking this would be just another rebus puzzle. But what could fill in MOVIE HA___? Neat realization that something else was going on and a nice a-HA to finally figure out that the "aisle" in each of these places (each of which notably contains aisles) was represented by a blank space.

The grid below explains it better.

I've greatly enjoyed working with Matt on a few puzzles/ideas now, so seeing his byline in a Sunday debut was a pleasure. Sunday 140-worders are so tough, and Matt does pretty well in his execution. I only noticed a handful of crossword glue dabs needed to hold everything together — plural name ANDYS, esoteric TRENTE, some MME, ETES, ETD, BANC, RTE, ENE, etc. Nothing really offense; not too shabby.

It would have been nice to get a little more bonus material — AVALANCHE, ARCHWAY, PIRANHA were the only standouts for me (maybe YODELED and ARIGATO too) — but Matt did have to work with crossing pairs of themers, which took up more real estate than a usual Sunday puzzle.

There were a few entries that felt inelegant, like PRESALE and NOT NEAR, but well, what are you gonna do. Building a Sunday 140-word puzzle is a tough task.

I got a little tired of the concept once I had uncovered three or four of the themers, since they were all "things with literal aisles" except for the US SENATE, which has a metaphorical aisle separating parties. So I think this might have been better as a Thursday 15x puzzle. (Curious to see what Matt originally made!) The theme might have felt stronger as a whole without the awkward AIRLINER (only themer that's one word, and AIRPLANE is so much more common).

That said, it's a fun idea and a nice Sunday debut.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0101 ( 24,526 )
Across
1
Sponged : MOOCHED
8
Asylum : REFUGE
14
Takes from page to screen, say : ADAPTS
20
Pope with the longest reign between St. Peter and Pius VI (A.D. 67-1799) : ADRIANI
21
Left speechless : AMAZED
22
On the down-low : COVERT
23
They may be sealed or broken : RECORDS
24
Marquee locale : MOVIETHEATER
26
Degree in math : NTH
27
Gruesome : MACABRE
29
Companion of Han in "The Force Awakens" : REY
30
H.O.V. ___ : LANE
31
Sénégal summers : ETES
33
Running figure : TALLY
34
Players last produced in July 2016 : VCRS
36
Epic singers : BARDS
37
Kicks back : RESTS
39
Rural postal abbr. : RTE
40
Worthiness : MERIT
41
Samberg and Serkis : ANDYS
42
Home of the Triple-A Mud Hens : TOLEDO
44
Gets bogged down : MIRES
45
Vitamin Shoppe competitor : GNC
46
Vegan sandwich filler : SPROUTS
48
Calrissian of "The Empire Strikes Back" : LANDO
49
One end of Paris's Champs-Élysées : ARCHWAY
53
Worked as a stockbroker : TRADED
54
Capitol group : USSENATE
56
Designer Saarinen : EERO
57
Post-op program : REHAB
58
Main stem : STALK
59
Rap group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 : NWA
60
Pulled off : DID
61
Like an unswept hearth : ASHY
62
Brawl : SETTO
63
"That Latin Beat!" bandleader : CUGAT
65
Advantage : EDGE
66
Drone regulator, for short : FAA
67
Mrs., in Montreux : MME
68
Magic Johnson, for one : LAKER
69
Apothecary's container : VIAL
70
She, in Spanish : ELLA
72
Passenger jet : AIRLINER
75
Quinze + quinze : TRENTE
77
Actor with the line "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!" : SELLERS
79
Fits snugly : NESTS
80
Indra, to Hindus : RAINGOD
81
Developer's purchase : LOT
82
Giraffe-like beast : OKAPI
83
What might cost you an arm and a leg? : PIRANHA
84
Washroom feature : BASIN
87
Totally captivates : GRIPS
88
Muzzle : GAG
89
One who knows all the shortcuts, maybe : LOCAL
92
Fill in for : ACTAS
93
Game box specification : AGES
94
Flaky minerals : MICAS
96
"Mind ... blown!" : WHOA
97
Glue trap brand : DCON
98
Tolkien meanie : ORC
99
Beverage with a floral bouquet : ROSETEA
101
Hedge fund pro : ARB
102
Farmer's market alternative : GROCERYSTORE
106
Admit : OWNUPTO
108
West Coast city known as the Track and Field Capital of the World : EUGENE
109
Mischievous sort : RASCAL
110
Miles away : NOTNEAR
111
Candy known for its orange wrapping : REESES
112
Muss up : TOUSLE
113
Things always underfoot : INSOLES
Down
1
George Eliot title surname : MARNER
2
"Swan Lake" role : ODETTE
3
Place for bows and strings : ORCHESTRAHALL
4
Corporation's head tech expert, for short : CIO
5
Tort basis : HARM
6
Wrap up around : ENDAT
7
Tosses : DISCARDS
8
Not stay on topic : RAMBLE
9
University associated with the Carter Center : EMORY
10
Go-to choice, slangily : FAVE
11
Weapon in some Call of Duty games : UZI
12
"I didn't know that!" : GEE
13
John Glenn player in "The Right Stuff" : EDHARRIS
14
Sore : ACHY
15
Fawn's mother : DOE
16
Winter fall? : AVALANCHE
17
Early explosive device : PETARD
18
Modish : TRENDY
19
With 25-Down, financial regulator's requirement : STRESS
25
See 19-Down : TEST
28
Meteorological lead-in to stratus : ALTO
32
Resolutely supported : STOODBY
34
Like some salsa : VERDE
35
"Antigone" antagonist : CREON
36
Judge's seat : BANC
38
Zig or zag : SLUE
40
Capital of Belarus : MINSK
43
Fog might push it back, briefly : ETD
44
Hawaiian "thanks" : MAHALO
45
"Brilliant!" : GREAT
46
Attacks from above : STRAFES
47
Exclusive event before public availability : PRESALE
48
Exam with a section known as "Logic Games," for short : LSAT
49
Fighting tooth and nail : ATWAR
50
Hitching post? : WEDDINGCHAPEL
51
Japanese "thanks" : ARIGATO
52
Made peak calls? : YODELED
54
Unmitigated : UTTER
55
Sin of those in Dante's fifth circle : ANGER
58
Quarters followers : SEMIS
62
Chic : SMART
63
"Pretty please?" : CANTI
64
Instruments played close to the chest, informally : UKES
65
"Still, after all this time ..." : EVENNOW
68
Imitates Sylvester the Cat : LISPS
71
Results of treaties : ALLIANCES
73
Something to tear into, informally? : HANKIE
74
Bounds : LEAPS
75
Nautical sealer : TAR
76
Yemeni capital : RIAL
78
Immense spans : EONS
80
It comes in tubes : RIGATONI
82
It lays out the lines of authority : ORGCHART
83
Show anxiety, in a way : PACE
84
Nag to death : BADGER
85
Build up, as interest : ACCRUE
86
Straight man : STOOGE
87
Boy's name that's an Indiana city : GARY
88
Brazilian supermodel Bündchen : GISELE
90
Vital lines : AORTAE
91
Slogs away : LABORS
94
Kind of fiber : MORAL
95
Attach, as a patch : SEWON
98
They're found in veins : ORES
99
Elephant pluckers of myth : ROCS
100
Marching band? : ANTS
103
Venice-to-Trieste dir. : ENE
104
___ Paulo : SAO
105
Volunteer State sch. : TSU
107
Card game cry : UNO

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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