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INNER WORKINGS

New York Times, Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author:
Pawel Fludzinski
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
77/12/20127/19/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1102210
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53000
Pawel Fludzinski

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 70 Missing: {JXZ} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Fludzinski. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Pawel Fludzinski notes:
My first Sunday puzzle in the NY Times! The inspiration for this puzzle came from my daughter's first day in second grade. She came home that day with a variety of word puzzles, including ... read more

My first Sunday puzzle in the NY Times! The inspiration for this puzzle came from my daughter's first day in second grade. She came home that day with a variety of word puzzles, including words within words, e.g. THODEEPUGHT. Her schoolwork got me thinking about short phrases containing "in" that could work in a puzzle, rather than just a word within a word, like her example. From that moment of inspiration, the creation of this puzzle became a tutorial in how to create a consistent, tight-knit set of theme entries. Indeed, the published version is the fourth iteration of the puzzle. (My daughter is now in third grade, so you can get a sense of the gestation period for this puzzle!)

In the first version, I had many interesting theme entries, but they were inconsistent in whether or not an article was dropped — e.g. HIGHFRIENDSPLACES, CHINABULLSHOP and NEWRINGYEAR — all nice entries, but the second drops an "a", the third a "the", whereas the first does not drop an article at all. In hindsight, this should have been an obvious consideration in the selection of my theme entries. I went back to my list of over 50 possible theme entries and sorted for grammatical consistency. The selection process became much more difficult because no group of possible theme entries had more than 10-12 members. As if that wasn't enough, I added the additional constraint to the selection process of having crossing theme entries — both versions 2 and 3 had 8 entries, with 2 in the down orientation.

Both the second and third versions of the puzzle were grammatically consistent, but some of the entries were weak. Hence, the tutorial concluded with the valuable lesson of not compromising the selection of theme entries for the sake of having them cross. Everything finally came together in the fourth and final version, which is the result you see today. As a new constructor, it was a real education. (I got started in crossword creation about 4 years ago after seeing Will Shortz give a talk in Indianapolis — I caught the cruciverbalist bug).

My other passion, time permitting (and it is tough with an 8 year old) is large format photography. It has occurred to me on more than one occasion that spatial relationships — be they black squares on a crossword grid or subject elements on the ground glass of a large format camera (viewed upside and in reverse) — are something of great interest to me. The rest, as they say, is "history", although in my case, a very thin one! I definitely want to extend a tremendous thanks to Will for his continued encouragement and assistance in finalizing the theme set for this puzzle.

Will Shortz notes:
This puzzle has an interesting history. Pawel and I went back and forth on the theme many times, as he progressively refined the idea and got better examples. In the end I thought it ... read more

This puzzle has an interesting history. Pawel and I went back and forth on the theme many times, as he progressively refined the idea and got better examples. In the end I thought it turned out great — very tight, with all familiar, lively phrases. He constructed the grid, I edited it, the puzzle-testers did their thing, etc. And after the puzzle went to the Times and was all set to be published ... I learned from a solver who got an advance copy that I ran a puzzle with the same theme, using two-and-a-half of the same theme entries, three years ago. :-(

Well, at least I'm consistent in what I like!

It's still a fine puzzle, with an expanded theme (Sunday-size rather than daily), and a solid construction besides. Still worth doing, I think, despite the accidental theme duplication. I hope you agree.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice wordplay theme today, literal interpretations of 'X in a Y' phrases, CANARY IN A COAL MINE transmogrifying into COAL CANARY MINE. This is a theme type that hasn't been done too many ... read more

The Burghers of Calais by Rodin Nice wordplay theme today, literal interpretations of "X in a Y" phrases, CANARY IN A COAL MINE transmogrifying into COAL CANARY MINE. This is a theme type that hasn't been done too many times before, my LAT debut and Parker's weekday puzzle coming to mind. I like that Pawel tried to do something different with it, expanding to a Sunday-size puzzle. He sent me a shorter version of his notes, but I asked if I could run the longer version — I liked reading about his entire process.

I like the balance Pawel struck today. There's not huge amount of sparkling fill — FAT CHANCE, MT EVEREST, PARODIST, RAW DEAL, CADDIES — but it was enough to add zest to my solving experience. And I appreciate how I didn't run into too much glue. I hitched when I got to SONDE, an odd little bit, but that fell pretty quickly. Some might have trouble with CALAIS, but that town does have historical importance so I think it's fine. Keeping things to a smattering of CPO, EIN, NNE, OON, SFC, OESTE, etc. isn't too shabby.

Since three of the theme entries are essentially identical to Parker's 2011 puzzle, I would have liked more time between the two. How much is enough? For a crossword-OCD person like myself, Parker's puzzle came to mind immediately, so perhaps something more like five years? Of course, most people will have long forgotten even things like their ... their... (well, I forget) over the course of three years.

Anyway, a fun puzzle with some nice long themers.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1012 ( 23,714 )
Across
1
Short end of the stick : RAWDEAL
8
1960s dance : WATUSI
14
French port just up the coast from Boulogne : CALAIS
20
Speedily : INHASTE
21
Key of Grieg's only piano concerto : AMINOR
22
Belabor, say : OVERDO
23
Leading indicator? : COALCANARYMINE
25
Spruce up : NEATEN
26
Sinus specialist, succinctly : ENT
27
Zest : RIND
28
Bacalao and boquerones : TAPAS
30
Ugly one : TOAD
31
Misfit : ROUNDSQUAREPEGHOLE
36
"American Pie" songwriter : MCLEAN
39
Boosts : UPS
40
"___ Grows in Brooklyn" : ATREE
41
Shakespearean lament : ALACK
42
Like a pilot that's working again : RELIT
45
Locale that made Hillary famous : MTEVEREST
49
One who's enthralled, metaphorically : CANDYKIDSTORE
52
French possessive : SES
53
Response to a 26-Across, perhaps : AAH
54
Botanist Gray : ASA
55
Dedicated : AVID
56
Quod ___ demonstrandum : ERAT
58
First steamship with a planned circumnavigation of the globe : ARGO
59
Something on a hero, maybe : WHITEHAT
62
Greeted and seated : SAWIN
64
Pitbull or Snoop Dogg : RAPPER
66
Never : MILLIONNOTYEARS
69
1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
72
Studio behind "Amadeus" and "Platoon" : ORION
73
Winning an Oscar, Emmy and Tony, e.g. : TRIFECTA
77
Activist Brockovich : ERIN
78
Hypnotist's signal : SNAP
79
One of a dozen popes : PIUS
80
Suffix with ball : OON
81
Game warden? : REF
82
U.S.N. rank : CPO
84
Much ado about nothing : TEATEMPESTPOT
89
"I wouldn't bet on it!" : FATCHANCE
92
Top of the Eiffel Tower? : BERET
93
Honduras-to-Guatemala dirección : OESTE
94
Hearing-related : AURAL
95
Blues rocker Chris : REA
96
Become fixated : OBSESS
97
Deteriorate rapidly : HANDGOTOHELLBASKET
104
Make ___ dash for : AMAD
105
Went out with : DATED
106
Actress Falco : EDIE
107
Neutrinos, symbolically : NUS
110
Broccoli-like vegetable : RAPINI
112
It's hard to find : HAYNEEDLESTACK
117
Directs, as a conversation : STEERS
118
True : EVENUP
119
Transgression : OFFENSE
120
Show disdain for, in a way : HISSAT
121
Dinners at which people read at the table : SEDERS
122
Hide : SECLUDE
Down
1
Sake source : RICE
2
Like most graffiti, for short : ANON
3
"Come again?" : WHAT
4
AT&T Stadium team, on scoreboards : DAL
5
Corner key : ESC
6
Speedily : ATARUN
7
___ Peace Prize (award discontinued in 1990) : LENIN
8
Charges : WARDS
9
Girl's name that becomes a different girl's name if you switch the first two letters : AMY
10
Goalie Howard of U.S.A.'s 2010 and '14 World Cup teams : TIM
11
QB Johnny : UNITAS
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Ping maker : SONAR
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"To reiterate ..." : IREPEAT
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Opposite of waste : CONSERVE
15
Michigan, in Chicago: Abbr. : AVE
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Hide stuff : LEATHER
17
___-Detoo ("Star Wars" droid) : ARTOO
18
World peace, e.g. : IDEAL
19
Atmospheric probe : SONDE
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"But wait, there's more ..." : AND
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Best suited : APTEST
31
Mailroom stamp : RECD
32
Like some chardonnays : OAKY
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Relinquish : QUIT
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Plotting : UPTO
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Thousands, in slang : GEES
36
Avian mimic : MACAW
37
What stripes and polka dots do : CLASH
38
Luau locale : LANAI
42
Lakers, to Celtics, e.g. : RIVAL
43
It may be limited or late : EDITION
44
Subject of some '50s-'60s experiments : LSD
45
Excellence : MERIT
46
Tombstone figure : EARP
47
Brush material : SAGE
48
Two-time title role for Chris Hemsworth : THOR
50
Artist Frida renowned for her self-portraits : KAHLO
51
Took back, as lost territory : REWON
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24/7 : ANYTIME
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Sunday recess? : APSE
60
Untouchable, e.g. : TMAN
61
Viennese one : EIN
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Long-billed wading bird : SNIPE
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12 months, in Rio : ANO
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Hike : RAISE
65
Chihuahua cry : ARF
67
Preach, e.g. : ORATE
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Go off : ERUPT
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Gun brand not endorsed by the 111-Down : NERF
70
Play ___ : AREA
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Photographic memory, e.g. : GIFT
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Thicket : COPSE
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Sweetie pie : TOOTS
76
Gets in the game : ANTES
78
Beethoven's "Hammerklavier," e.g. : SONATA
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___ curiam decision : PER
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When repeated, party cry : CHUG
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Weird Al Yankovic, e.g. : PARODIST
85
Third person masculine? : ABEL
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Relative of turquoise : TEAL
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"___ it!" : SOBE
88
International cricket match : TEST
90
Ones left holding the bag? : CADDIES
91
Gaps are filled with them : CLOTHES
95
Fixed, as Easter eggs : REDYED
96
Michael of "The Great Santini" : OKEEFE
97
Like some truths : HARSH
98
Andrea or Nicolò, in the music world : AMATI
99
Scruffs : NAPES
100
Ho preceder : HEAVE
101
Gentle alarms : BEEPS
102
Go on to say : ADD
103
Some launch sites : SILOS
107
Half of Mork's farewell : NANU
108
La Jolla campus, briefly : UCSD
109
___-Ball : SKEE
111
See 69-Down : NRA
113
Vane dir. : NNE
114
It. is there : EUR
115
Army E-7: Abbr. : SFC
116
Contact info abbr. : TEL

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?