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New York Times, Thursday, January 26, 2017

Author:
Hal Moore
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
41/26/20179/9/20180
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1001110
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.76201
Hal Moore

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQV} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Moore. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Hal Moore notes:
I'm thrilled to see my first published puzzle on my favorite day of the puzzle week – the Times Thursday! First, I'd like to ... read more

I'm thrilled to see my first published puzzle on my favorite day of the puzzle week – the Times Thursday!

First, I'd like to thank Joel and Will for their encouragement through a significant rewrite and several revisions – I'm happy with the final product, but all that really matters is whether or not solvers enjoy it!

My goal was to provide that "aha!" moment in a playful way, to create the type of Thursday I'd like to solve myself. I have been fascinated by the idea of a rebus ever since I was first stumped by one, but for a long time, I struggled to think of a rebus concept that felt different, and that would allow me to express myself. Then it hit – the original inspiration for this puzzle was one of my favorite songs, Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."

The birds would be "little" in the sense of each one having to fit in a single square, and I would use all 4-letter birds for consistency – that seemed like the sweet spot between not interesting enough (3 letters) and too difficult to hide inside longer answers (5 letters).

My initial attempt was rejected for an awkwardly broken-up revealer (THREE and LITTLEBIRDS), but Joel had the idea that the revealer could be changed to ALITTLEBIRDIE. The new revealer worked much better because its 13 letters allowed for central placement in the grid – this flexibility and the removal of the song reference meant I could also include a fourth bird.

After much experimentation with the grid design, I opted for the "four corners" structure you see here. I felt it set the rebus squares apart nicely, and allowed me to maintain a uniform length for the themers of 10 letters for the Across answers and 7 letters for the Down answers.

Jeff Chen notes:
Debut! Loved the rationale of A LITTLE BIRDIE leading to rebusized birds. I also liked that Hal picked four birds, each with four ... read more

Debut! Loved the rationale of A LITTLE BIRDIE leading to rebusized birds. I also liked that Hal picked four birds, each with four letters — something satisfying about the symmetry.

I got IN (CROW)D / (CROW)N ROYAL quickly — great corner. Not only were both rebusized phrases strong, but the bird was an easily recognizable one. And the rest of the corner was executed nice and smoothly. If you can fill a rebus corner and with only a TRE as a minor ding, that's an excellent result.

I found the other three corners to be really hard, especially since they played like three separate mini-puzzles. The layout is constructor-friendly — note that there are only two words that let you get in/out of the NW, for example. This makes it SO much easier to section off and fill a grid piece by piece … but it also leads to solvers possibly getting dead-ended in small places. Not very satisfying.

That NW ... although I'm an avid comic book fan, I couldn't place the name ULTRON. And having tried HERB and NAME for [Rosemary, e.g.], the gears ground to a halt for five unsettling minutes. Thankfully the SAPPHO I (was supposed to have) read in college finally broke things open.

Then the SW ... the TE in T. E. LAWRENCE ( the inspiration for "Lawrence of Arabia") also made me sweat. After having been frustratingly stuck for another five minutes in this tiny space, I waffled on P?S. Maybe I follow basketball too closely and count Personal Fouls. Point Guards are on scoreboards too!

Oh, I wish TERN hadn't been the last bird. To me, it's one of those TERN / ERNE / ERN birds I learned from crosswords; a bit too insidery for my taste. A DODO or a SWAN would have been my preference. ASWAN DAM, anyone?

Overall, though, some nice gridwork, especially considering it's a debut. And loved the intersection of HELLENIC / AGAMEMNON, LOOPHOLE — excellent choices for bonus fill. With just a bit of IZE, THO, PTS, it's clear that Hal put some time and iteration into this grid.

1
S
2
U
3
C
4
H
5
A
6
S
7
A
8
N
9
E
10
M
11
I
12
A
13
B
A
L
LOON
I
S
T
14
F
R
A
TERN
I
T
Y
15
U
P
T
E
M
P
O
16
I
M
P
A
S
S
E
17
S
P
R
Y
18
S
P
19
A
N
I
E
L
S
20
T
H
O
21
G
E
E
22
O
23
P
24
S
25
S
O
N
26
S
27
B
28
E
A
29
S
30
A
31
M
U
E
L
32
T
33
E
L
L
M
34
E
35
C
U
R
L
Y
36
A
37
L
I
T
T
L
E
B
38
I
R
D
I
E
39
A
L
O
F
T
40
A
M
A
Z
E
D
41
R
O
O
F
E
42
R
43
N
Y
E
44
Y
45
O
46
K
47
E
48
C
U
P
49
E
50
C
O
51
N
I
X
52
H
53
E
54
L
L
E
N
55
I
56
C
57
S
E
E
P
58
P
59
H
O
T
O
I
D
60
N
O
61
T
H
E
R
E
62
T
E
L
A
WREN
C
E
63
CROW
N
R
O
Y
A
L
64
S
M
E
L
T
S
65
D
E
E
P
E
N
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0126 ( 24,551 )
Across
1. To wit : SUCHAS
7. Weakness : ANEMIA
13. One traveling in a basket : BALLOONIST
14. Place where people are rushing : FRATERNITY
15. Lively : UPTEMPO
16. Deadlock : IMPASSE
17. Lively : SPRY
18. White House pets for Reagan and both Bushes : SPANIELS
20. Le Duc ___, decliner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize : THO
21. "Huh! No kidding!" : GEE
22. Black ___ : OPS
25. End of some business names : SONS
27. Actress Benaderet : BEA
29. Prophet who anointed Saul : SAMUEL
32. "Spit it out!" : TELLME
35. ___ fries : CURLY
36. Secret's source ... that can be found four times in this puzzle : ALITTLEBIRDIE
39. Up : ALOFT
40. Bowled over : AMAZED
41. One whose business has a lot of overhead? : ROOFER
43. Dec. 31 : NYE
44. It keeps a team together : YOKE
48. Ice cream purchase : CUP
49. "The Name of the Rose" author : ECO
51. Reject : NIX
52. Greek : HELLENIC
57. Percolate : SEEP
58. Voting requirement in some states : PHOTOID
60. "Let's go someplace private" : NOTHERE
62. Best Picture subject nine inches shorter than the actor who portrayed him : TELAWRENCE
63. Whisky first produced for King George VI's 1939 visit to Canada : CROWNROYAL
64. Refines, in a way : SMELTS
65. Intensify : DEEPEN
Down
1. Plato's "tenth Muse" : SAPPHO
2. Supervillain in a 2015 "Avengers" sequel : ULTRON
3. Rosemary, for one : CLOONEY
4. That guy : HIM
5. Ancient symbols of sovereignty : ASPS
6. Station : STOP
7. Forces : ARMIES
8. Common spot for a sunburn : NAPE
9. Constant : ETERNAL
10. Subject of an 1820 compromise : MISSOURI
11. "___ alive!" : ITS
12. Word of support : AYE
13. Exceeds 21, in a way : BUSTS
14. Dandy : FINE
19. Aeschylus tragedy : AGAMEMNON
23. Sports star with a signed jersey in the Vatican : PELE
24. Foxy : SLY
26. Not tip : STIFF
27. Club alternative : BLT
28. "___ & Duke at the Côte D'Azur" (1966 jazz album) : ELLA
30. 1 chain x 1 furlong : ACRE
31. Obfuscate : MUDDY
33. Rock follower? : ETTE
34. Fortune 500 company founded in 1995 : EBAY
36. Name of a family with a combined 7,228 hits : ALOU
37. One may be exploited : LOOPHOLE
38. Suffix with real : IZE
39. "The ___ of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice": M.L.K. : ARC
42. All that is left? : RELICS
45. Feature of many a minion in "Despicable Me" : ONEEYE
46. Actor Culkin of "Igby Goes Down" : KIERAN
47. Boot : EXPEL
50. Give up : CEDE
53. Bibliography abbr. : ETAL
54. Shabby : LOWRENT
55. Cool people : INCROWD
56. Ice cream purchase : CONE
57. Ice cream ___ : SHOP
58. Scoreboard figure: Abbr. : PTS
59. Start to hesitate? : HEM
61. Afternoon hour in Italy : TRE

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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