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INITIAL TURN

New York Times, Sunday, January 24, 2016

Author:
Francis Heaney and Brendan Emmett Quigley
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
94/17/19961/24/20163
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
20132001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53110
Francis Heaney
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1838/7/19964/28/201916
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
365152018482615
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635213
Brendan Emmett Quigley

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Heaney. This is puzzle # 168 for Mr. Quigley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
'INITIAL TURN' hinting at three-letter acronyms formed by swapping the last two letters of a normal word. Francis and BEQ sure found a ton of good answers — BOY WONDER turned into ... read more

"INITIAL TURN" hinting at three-letter acronyms formed by swapping the last two letters of a normal word. Francis and BEQ sure found a ton of good answers — BOY WONDER turned into BYO WONDER (bread), CUP OF NOODLES into CPU (central processing unit) of NOODLES, etc. And BTU, SERIOUSLY?! hit perfectly for this mechanical engineer frustrated by non-metric units. I especially liked the ones that added in some sort of implied punctuation, like TIM COOK into "TMI, COOK!"

We longtime solvers even get an insider's nod, with SDI AND NANCY — the SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) is something Will has been trying to phase out, but it works here. Neat find, that SID (Vicious) AND NANCY (Spungen, both of the Sex Pistols) turn into a pair of Reagan-related answers.

One aspect of the puzzle that I really liked was that the odd letter combinations — words starting with CPU, TBA, SDI — seemed totally wrong. I actually erased these starts a few times because they seemed like they couldn't be right; that some sort of word-bending trickery had to be going on. Neat to realize that there wasn't, and my mind had just led me down a wrong path.

Francis and BEQ do something few ever dare: cramming 12 theme answers into a 140-word Sunday. It is true that some of their themers are shorties (GTO MILK, TBA COLA, etc.) but executing on a Sunday with an average number of themers (about seven) is probably the toughest skill in the game. Trying to nestle in 12 themers is just plain old nuts. Given how much is going on, it's really impressive that they still gave us some nice long fill — MOUNT ETNA, MEIN HERR, CALL SHEET.

It was a little surprising to run into a good amount of crossword glue like SAR, STYRO, CEN, NYES, etc. in a puzzle built by these two masters — that helped solidify my belief that something tricksy was going on — but after some thought, it really shouldn't be surprising given how much theme and long fill is packed in. Just part of that trade-off to get so much nice material into the grid.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0124 ( 24,183 )
Across
1
Home of Garden State Plaza, one of the largest shopping centers in the U.S. : PARAMUS
8
One staying in a lot? : CAR
11
Greenish blue : TEAL
15
High in calories : RICH
19
The Rebels : OLEMISS
20
Org. with suits and cases : ABA
21
Rights grp. : ACLU
22
Morales of "Criminal Minds" : ESAI
23
Two things on Ronald Reagan's mind? : SDIANDNANCY
25
Cousin of pow! or wham! : BOOM
26
One in your corner : ALLY
27
Really small : EENSY
28
Negotiation failure : NODEAL
30
"We'll tell you what soda we're serving later"? : TBACOLA
32
Brute working on the Human Genome Project? : DNASAVAGE
35
1900s, e.g.: Abbr. : CEN
37
20-Across members: Abbr. : ATTYS
38
Completely : INALL
39
Like : ASTHOUGH
42
Tuna that's often served seared : AHI
44
Planted : SOWN
47
Rhein rejection : NIE
48
Soggy computer brain? : CPUOFNOODLES
50
H&R Block employee's biceps? : CPAGUNS
52
Upbeat : CHIPPER
53
Renaissance fair instruments : LUTES
54
Hartsfield-Jackson airport code : ATL
55
"Game of Thrones" actress Dormer : NATALIE
57
Bleed (through) : SEEP
59
___ speak : SOTO
60
Theodore who directed "St. Vincent," 2014 : MELFI
62
Refuses to settle? : SUES
63
Onetime Iranian leader : SHAH
65
Origami BlackBerry, e.g.? : PDAOFPAPER
68
Amusing baseball scoring play? : RBITICKLER
74
Boehner's successor : RYAN
75
Weight : HEFT
76
Ingredient in a Spanish omelet : HUEVO
77
"Without ___" (1990 live Grateful Dead album) : ANET
80
Place of control : HELM
83
Last king of Spain before Juan Carlos : ALFONSO
86
Tourette's symptom : TIC
87
"Friendship is like ___, easier made than kept": Samuel Butler : MONEY
89
Narrow-minded views : MYOPIAS
91
Drink in an old Pontiac? : GTOMILK
93
"An A/C measure? Are you kidding me?"? : BTUSERIOUSLY
95
Patriotic men's org. : SAR
96
Crafty e-tailer : ETSY
97
Scottish John : IAN
98
Quality of beef : LEANNESS
99
Basic vocabulary level in Common Core programs : TIERI
101
Place for plugs : SCALP
103
VW head? : STU
104
Sign in a restaurant that doesn't serve white bread? : BYOWONDER
108
Chef who explains in detail how sausages are made? : TMICOOK
110
Star employee : EDITOR
113
Now, in Nogales : AHORA
114
Hat-tipping word : MAAM
115
Opening in a schedule : SLOT
117
Financial aid plan for a school in Provo? : BYUONCREDIT
120
Get the pot started : ANTE
121
Bird with a two-pointed tail : TERN
122
Rule of crime? : ANN
123
"The Silence of the Lambs" heroine : CLARICE
124
"Bill ___ History of the United States" (1894 humor book) : NYES
125
Arcade giant : SEGA
126
Visibly embarrassed : RED
127
Not an original : RETREAD
Down
1
Asked : POSED
2
John of the Plymouth Colony : ALDEN
3
Royal in un palacio : REINA
4
Piling up : AMASSING
5
Quorum for Jewish worship : MINYAN
6
EUR competitor : USD
7
Tax ID : SSN
8
One that might reach a tipping point : CANOE
9
Opening of a kid's song : ABCD
10
Country singer Collin : RAYE
11
Bounces around a restaurant : TABLEHOPS
12
Prefix with terrorism or tourism : ECO
13
Loads : ALOT
14
Lower back pain : LUMBAGO
15
Flinch, say : REACT
16
Stands by : ISLOYALTO
17
Daily schedule for filming : CALLSHEET
18
"Hello there" : HIYA
24
Billiard player's calculation : ANGLE
29
Malfunction : ACTUP
31
Playwright Fugard : ATHOL
33
One making a U turn? : VANNA
34
Most wanted : ALIST
36
Free, as banking : NOFEE
39
More sore : ACHIER
40
Secret collectors : SPIES
41
Turmoil : UNREST
43
"That ___ last year" : ISSO
44
Rogue : SCAMP
45
Chose, with "for" : OPTED
46
When doubled, a Washington city, county or river : WALLA
49
Actress Eliza of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" : DUSHKU
51
Make one : UNIFY
52
Lead : CLUE
56
Creature formed from Medusa's blood : ASP
58
Follower of upsilon : PHI
61
Strengths : FORTES
64
Sound of sternutation : ACHOO
66
Oom-___ (polka rhythm) : PAH
67
Weakness : ANEMIA
68
Pony Express riders, e.g. : RELAYS
69
Pals 4 life : BFFS
70
"What was ___ do?" : ITO
71
"___ Go" (hit song from "Frozen") : LETIT
72
Pandora's box contents : EVILS
73
Trainer in "Creed" : ROCKY
75
Acclaims : HAILS
77
Both: Prefix : AMBI
78
Fewer : NOTASMANY
79
Not mumble : ENUNCIATE
81
Fête des Lumières city : LYONS
82
View from the Gulf of Catania : MOUNTETNA
84
Marsh of mystery : NGAIO
85
Toss around : STREW
88
Mello ___ (soft drink) : YELLO
90
Poseur : PSEUD
92
"Cabaret" song with a German title : MEINHERR
94
Shares on Tumblr, say : REPOSTS
95
Commercial prefix with foam : STYRO
100
Greatly enjoy, as a joke : ROARAT
102
Maxima : ACMES
104
Tied up : BOUND
105
Smith who wrote "The Hundred and One Dalmatians" : DODIE
106
Writer Jong : ERICA
107
Like businesses on Yelp : RATED
108
Tax fraud detector, informally : TMAN
109
Artist Paul : KLEE
111
Construction piece : IBAR
112
Newcastle's river : TYNE
116
URL ending : ORG
118
Big A.T.M. maker : NCR
119
The Browns, on a ticker : CLE

Answer summary: 19 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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