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SURPRISE ENDINGS

New York Times, Sunday, January 28, 2018

Author: Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
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26/26/20161/28/20182
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2000000
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010
Priscilla Clark
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907/5/201010/11/201852
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2467172088
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1.634192
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 after that, but I found ... more
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 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 spreadsheet grew and ... more
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 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 Down
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
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: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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