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SURPRISE ENDINGS

New York Times, Sunday, January 28, 2018

Author:
Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
26/26/20161/28/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2000000
RebusCirclePangram
010
Priscilla Clark
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1027/5/20108/29/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182698
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 88 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Clark. This is puzzle # 79 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
PRIS: This is my second puzzle in the NYT — both collaborations with Jeff. My first one was a bucket list goal which took almost ten years to achieve. I honestly thought I was done ... read more

PRIS: This is my second puzzle in the NYT — both collaborations with Jeff. My first one was a bucket list goal which took almost ten years to achieve. I honestly thought I was done after that, but I found I missed the daily mental wrangling with themes and words, so I started sending Jeff themer ideas. There were some very polite "I'm not sures ..." but sometimes I got a "very funny — are there others like this?" In spite of our best efforts, there often weren't more "like this" but the search resulted in new possibilities.

I have found that what appeals to me as a constructor is humor. I want to laugh when I'm making a puzzle and hope solvers do also. It's what keeps me engaged. I so enjoy working with Jeff and learning from him, and the pleasure that comes from sharing creative energy is a wonderful added benefit.

Jeff Chen notes:
When I ask a collaborator to explore the solution space for a theme, I usually get a couple of ideas. Maybe a dozen. Rarely, a Word document. Pris created a spreadsheet. Awesome! The ... read more

When I ask a collaborator to explore the solution space for a theme, I usually get a couple of ideas. Maybe a dozen. Rarely, a Word document.

Pris created a spreadsheet. Awesome!

The spreadsheet grew and grew … doubly awesome!

… to over 300 entries. HEE HEE HEE SQUEE!

I love it when a collaborator is more than willing to put in the work. There are so many *pretty* good movie titles on that spreadsheet, but Pris was never happy until we found one that made us both laugh out loud. Took a long time to hit on LICENCE TO KILT, but man, do I love that one.

Tough grid to put together. I wanted the circled P L O T T W I S T letters (hopefully you noticed that hidden phrase?) to look like they were twisting, like a DNA helix. Crossword symmetry didn't make that perfectly possible, but I hope this layout came close.

My stubbornness to stick with this twisty layout meant we didn't have much flexibility in themer placement. I ended up using more cheater squares than I like, but hopefully it doesn't look too overrun by black squares.

Nine themers is never easy to work with in a Sunday 140-word puzzle, but we tried to include a little bonus fill for everyone. We debated whether TERMINATORS was too close to the theme? But both of us enjoyed that one so much. And then BLACK OPS, EAR CANDY, SPEED DATE, MUSCLE CAR, CELTIC HARPS, ERIC IDLE seemed like they were from different enough walks of life.

Who knows, maybe there's even some SYNERGY there …

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0128 ( 24,918 )
Across
1
Small house in the Southwest : CASITA
7
Covert missions : BLACKOPS
15
Select : TAP
18
Wading birds : AVOCETS
20
Light, catchy tunes : EARCANDY
21
"Je t'___" : AIME
22
Cite : REFERTO
23
Pimp launches career in rap ... BUT HAS AN EPIC FAIL! : HUSTLEANDFLOP
25
Father of Paris, in myth : PRIAM
26
Apple buy-product? : IPAD
28
Relax, with "out" : VEG
29
Assessed : EYEDUP
30
Cabby saves prostitute ... WITH HIS BLATHERING! : TAXIDRIVEL
33
Labatt, for one : BREWERY
34
Composer known for mood music : ENO
35
Relinquish : CEDE
36
Something coming off the shelf? : BERG
38
Tropicana products, for short : OJS
41
Floor : AWE
43
Guy makes a new best friend ... WHO TURNS OUT TO BE A COMMUNIST! : ILOVEYOUMAO
50
Beverage called a "tonic" in Boston : POP
51
Inclines : TENDS
54
Enya's land : ERIN
55
Appropriate : USURP
56
Retired pool shark returns ... TO WIN FRENCH IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING! : THECOLOROFMONET
60
"___ Revere, Engineer" (best-selling 2013 children's book) : ROSIE
61
Facial expression often accompanied by "Heh, heh, heh" : SNEER
62
Big dipper : LADLE
63
Pink-slip : CAN
64
___ Equis (Mexican beer) : DOS
65
Chap gets life lessons from kid ... WHO'S REALLY AN ANDROID! : ABOUTABOT
70
One side in college football's "Big Game" : CAL
72
Blue : SAD
74
Bitcoin, e.g. : ECASH
75
Utopias : EDENS
78
Shoves (in) : CRAMS
81
West Coast officers track wisecracking detective ... TO A BOVINE! : BEVERLYHILLSCOW
86
One with a role to play : ACTOR
87
Bullets, in cards : ACES
88
First "America's Funniest Home Videos" host : SAGET
89
Glamorous Gardner : AVA
90
Friends gather for a funeral ... AND COOK UP AN ENORMOUS STEW! : THEBIGCHILI
93
"Bali ___" : HAI
94
Lively tune : RAG
95
Symbolic bird in "On Golden Pond" : LOON
96
Recipe amts. : TSPS
100
"Angel dust" : PCP
102
Kind of knot : GORDIAN
107
Bog monster emerges ... WITH A NEW LINE OF SNACK CRACKERS! : SWAMPTHINS
111
Shakespearean king : OBERON
112
Auto safety feature to prevent skidding, for short : ABS
115
Man, for one : ISLE
116
Greeting on Maui : ALOHA
118
007 gets fired ... AND LANDS A JOB AS A SCOTTISH TAILOR! : LICENCETOKILT
121
Out early : PAROLED
123
Playing ___ : DEAD
124
"Spamalot" writer : ERICIDLE
125
Drained : EMPTIED
126
Object of veneration by ancient Egyptians : ASP
127
Casualty of a crash? : DATALOSS
128
One side of a ledger : ASSETS
Down
1
Goldfish, e.g. : CARP
2
Sidestep : AVERT
3
Balkan capital : SOFIA
4
Mountaineer's tool : ICEAXE
5
Skynet's T-800's, e.g. : TERMINATORS
6
One who's passed the bar: Abbr. : ATT
7
Parent's scolding : BEHAVE
8
Praised : LAUDED
9
"___ Poetica" : ARS
10
Letters on a video surveillance screen : CCTV
11
Trendy smoothie ingredient : KALE
12
Force on earth, in brief : ONEG
13
Bussing on a bus, for short? : PDA
14
Two plus two equaling five, e.g. : SYNERGY
15
High mark in Spanish class? : TILDE
16
"Mon ___" (words of endearment) : AMOUR
17
Energetic : PEPPY
19
"Bon" time : SOIR
21
Some : AFEW
24
Color changer : DYE
27
Flick : PIC
31
Carpentry rod : DOWEL
32
Gift on a string : LEI
33
Spiner of "Star Trek: T.N.G." : BRENT
36
Destined (to be) : BORN
37
Singer Sands : EVIE
38
Goes (for) : OPTS
39
In song, Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt's first name : JOHN
40
Mix and match? : SPEEDDATE
42
___ Gay (W.W. II plane) : ENOLA
44
Fifth sign : LEO
45
"___ Gang" : OUR
46
Grp. with the motto "Until every one comes home" : USO
47
Gran Torino, e.g. : MUSCLECAR
48
Part of a score, maybe : ARIA
49
Dentist's directive : OPEN
52
Lacking pizazz : DRAB
53
"___ I" ("Same here") : SODO
57
Position sought by some M.B.A.s : CEO
58
Kind of shot : FLU
59
Olympics unit : METER
66
Concern of an orthopedic M.D. : ACL
67
Howls : BAYS
68
Org. that's found by accident? : OSHA
69
Piece of chicken : THIGH
70
Symbols on Irish euro coins : CELTICHARPS
71
Video intrusions : ADS
72
Tracker's clue : SCAT
73
Sole part : ARCH
76
Astronomical event : NOVA
77
Goodies in a goody bag : SWAG
79
Swarm : MOB
80
Hindu honorific : SRI
81
Burger topper : BACON
82
Backtalk? : ECHO
83
Miner's find : VEIN
84
Immigrant's class, in brief : ESL
85
Bounded : LEAPT
91
Sneaked a peek : GLANCED
92
Part of T.G.I.F. : ITS
97
Slops : SWILLS
98
Wallops : PASTES
99
T-shirt choices, briefly : SML
101
What drones lack : PILOTS
102
2008 Israeli political biography : GOLDA
103
Relatives of Tonys : OBIES
104
Sum up : RECAP
105
___ Scott : DRED
106
"Positively Entertaining" cable network : ION
108
Le Pew of Looney Tunes : PEPE
109
"That's the truth!" : NOLIE
110
Makeshift ghost costume : SHEET
112
Warring : ATIT
113
Florida city, informally : BOCA
114
Brand of tools : SKIL
117
Says further : ADDS
119
Great time : ERA
120
Sworn statement : IDO
122
G.P.'s grp. : AMA

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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