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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
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2104011
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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 seem like it would be ... more
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 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 going on when ED HARRIS ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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