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WHY NOT?

New York Times, Sunday, October 19, 2014

Author:
David Phillips
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
207/24/20148/5/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1021277
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57000
David Phillips

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQXY} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Phillips. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Phillips notes:
Like my NYT debut, this puzzle also has an Oppositeland twin, Patrick Berry's 5/15/2005 'Words to the Y's' Sunday NYT crossword. After (eventually) solving Mr. Berry's puzzle, I figured ... read more

Like my NYT debut, this puzzle also has an Oppositeland twin, Patrick Berry's 5/15/2005 "Words to the Y's" Sunday NYT crossword. After (eventually) solving Mr. Berry's puzzle, I figured there had to be some words, like "hymn" or "sync," that used this same trick in reverse.

Before I began searching for specific theme phrases, I first brainstormed as many "y-less" homophone pairs as I could. This website was particularly helpful. Once I had amassed a good number of these pairs, I prioritized finding good entries for pairs with particularly odd/unique letter changes, e.g. SHAYS' --> CHAISE, SORRY --> SARI, or IDYLLS --> IDOLS. Using these "odd" entries as a starting point, I then attempted to find corresponding symmetric answers with as much variety, interest, and punniness as I could muster while also making sure to avoid letter changes that were too similar (e.g. DAYS --> DAZE, RAYS --> RAZE and/or [Willie] MAYS --> MAZE). If the theme entries evoke at least one or two chuckles, then I think they did their job.

Before and during the grid design process, I kept debating whether to use seven or nine theme entries. Since my theme entries were relatively short for a 21x21 puzzle, I wanted nine but also knew that attempting such might require some fancy gridwork or a sacrifice to the mighty crossword gods. Fortunately, there was no sacrifice necessary since SUNDAEBEST/DEVILRAISE intersected symmetrically with TRUSTEESIDEKICK/CHAISEREBELLION. Doing this really helped in spacing out the theme entries and creating some spots for 6's, 7's, and 8's in the fill. (Slight side note: Since the shortest theme entry was nine letters and since there were theme entries in the down direction, I tried to keep all fill shorter than nine letters to prevent "Is this theme or is this fill?" confusion.)

As for the fill, I particularly liked BUTTED (tehee), REDDIT, TOLKIEN, RICKROLL, SIZZLES, BADRAP, and BOOHISS.

If you were tripped up by or liked the clues for 1A, 72A, 116A, or the 11D/12D duo, you can blame/thank me. =) If this also happened for 65A (it's certainly convenient that ROWLING and TOLKIEN have the same number of letters), 15D, 19D, 41D, 56D, or 93D, you can blame/thank Will and his team.

Will Shortz notes:
An unusual theme today that took me awhile to wrap my head around — puns involving homophones of words containing the letter Y. The Y's are all gone. Usually themes are based on ... read more

An unusual theme today that took me awhile to wrap my head around — puns involving homophones of words containing the letter Y. The Y's are all gone. Usually themes are based on what's in the grid, not what's not. But once you get it, the result is nice, and the puzzle has a perfect, explanatory title. I also like David's elegant touch of avoiding Y's anywhere in the grid, not just in the theme answers.

Jeff Chen notes:
Homonyms today, with an extra layer of theme complexity: each of the nine themers has a word including the letter Y, and that word gets replaced with a homonym not containing the letter Y. ... read more

Homonyms today, with an extra layer of theme complexity: each of the nine themers has a word including the letter Y, and that word gets replaced with a homonym not containing the letter Y. WHY NOT? indeed.

For a relatively simple theme, it's critical to choose themers that both 1.) have a snappy base phrase and 2.) entertaining results. This is always a challenge — so hard to stick 100% of your themers. I quite liked CHAISE REBELLION, for example. It took me a while to remember what SHAY'S REBELLION was, and the fact that I pulled it out of long-term storage gave me a "I won!" feeling. The amusing picture of a guy throwing a hissy-fit over the patio furniture more than satisfied the second.

NO RIME OR REASON was on the other end of my spectrum. I got confused as it seemed like it ought to be NO RHYME NOR REASON or NO RHYME NO REASON, plus the resulting themer fell flat for me. Perhaps there would be a way to improve that in my eyes, a more entertaining connection between RIME and REASON — something to do with Jack Frost, perhaps? As it was, it felt like two random things thrown together.

I like the shoot-for-the-moon approach David takes on his first Sunday NYT puzzle. Most first-timers adhere tightly to the 140-word maximum, pulling their hair out to do anything they possibly can to drop from 146 or 144 down to Will's threshold of 140. It's very, very hard to do. Going down to 138 words gives him the potential for a little more long fill, and I love seeing BOO HISS, UNITARD, TENDRILS with its brilliant clue, and RICKROLL. Mind you, I didn't know what being rickrolled meant until I encountered it in an earlier NYT puzzle, but I find it hilarious for some reason.

I do think there's some missed potential though, as ULTRAHIP and ALLEGER feel a little made up to me, and ALBANESE was one of those names I shrugged at after uncovering. With so few precious 7+ letter slots, I want to see them all filled with juicy material.

As Will mentioned, sometimes a perfect title pulls everything together, and today is a case in point.

1
B
2
U
3
T
4
T
5
E
6
D
7
G
8
R
9
I
10
L
11
L
12
S
13
S
14
H
15
A
16
R
17
I
18
F
19
S
20
O
N
R
I
C
E
21
R
E
D
D
I
T
22
G
A
L
A
T
E
A
23
O
E
U
V
R
E
24
I
D
O
L
S
O
25
F
T
H
E
K
I
N
G
26
H
A
S
O
U
T
27
E
S
S
28
A
O
L
29
K
I
N
D
A
30
I
R
T
31
A
V
E
32
G
E
33
M
34
E
S
A
I
35
S
T
E
36
T
37
C
L
E
A
38
R
39
T
40
H
E
W
E
41
I
G
H
42
S
H
E
C
43
R
A
B
44
E
M
O
45
O
W
N
46
C
47
R
48
O
49
S
U
N
D
A
50
E
51
B
E
S
T
52
U
L
T
53
R
54
A
H
I
P
55
U
56
N
I
57
S
E
N
D
A
K
58
P
59
E
T
60
R
E
S
A
V
E
61
P
A
D
62
S
63
T
E
N
D
64
T
O
T
65
T
O
L
K
I
E
N
66
S
T
E
P
67
S
68
S
A
R
69
I
S
T
A
70
T
E
71
O
E
S
T
E
72
T
A
K
E
O
73
N
E
74
A
C
E
75
L
A
N
76
D
77
D
E
E
R
78
A
L
I
C
I
A
79
A
P
E
80
T
I
L
D
E
81
S
82
R
D
A
83
R
I
C
K
R
O
84
L
L
85
D
86
E
V
I
L
R
A
I
87
S
E
88
T
E
K
89
M
O
L
90
I
N
A
91
I
N
C
U
B
92
U
93
S
94
G
95
U
I
S
E
96
A
N
D
D
97
O
98
L
L
S
99
V
E
N
I
100
I
101
T
L
L
102
E
G
G
103
S
O
S
104
L
I
Z
105
O
D
O
U
L
106
E
O
107
N
108
A
B
A
109
S
110
H
111
U
L
T
Z
112
N
O
R
I
M
113
E
114
O
R
R
E
115
A
S
O
N
116
A
E
R
I
A
L
117
E
N
S
N
A
R
L
118
A
S
P
I
R
E
119
A
L
G
O
R
E
120
D
E
I
G
N
E
D
121
S
T
R
A
N
D
122
B
L
E
N
D
S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1019 ( 23,721 )
Across
1
Headed for some serious pain? : BUTTED
7
Gives the third degree : GRILLS
13
Arab nobles : SHARIFS
20
How some stir-fry dishes are served : ONRICE
21
Site claiming to be "the front page of the Internet" : REDDIT
22
Pygmalion's beloved : GALATEA
23
Body of art : OEUVRE
24
Elvis's heroes? : IDOLSOFTHEKING
26
Settles through an angry confrontation : HASOUT
27
Sigmoid curve : ESS
28
2011 purchaser of the Huffington Post : AOL
29
Somewhat, informally : KINDA
30
N.Y.C.'s first subway co. : IRT
31
Park in N.Y.C., e.g. : AVE
32
Beauty : GEM
34
Morales of "La Bamba" : ESAI
35
Editor's "undo" : STET
37
Embarrassed person's comment after getting off an electronic scale? : CLEARTHEWEIGH
42
Kind of soup in Southern cuisine : SHECRAB
44
Genre of My Chemical Romance : EMO
45
Real estate option : OWN
46
___-Magnon : CRO
49
#1 item at Dairy Queen? : SUNDAEBEST
52
Cool and then some : ULTRAHIP
55
Single starter? : UNI
57
"Where the Wild Things Are" author : SENDAK
58
See 90-Across : PET
60
Back up, as a backup : RESAVE
61
Some football gear : PADS
63
Shepherd : TEND
64
Pre-K enrollee : TOT
65
Author who wrote "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards" : TOLKIEN
66
Dance routine : STEPS
68
Gujarat or Punjab, dresswise? : SARISTATE
71
Dirección sailed by Columbus : OESTE
72
Sample text? : TAKEONE
74
Whiz : ACE
75
Deliver, as a punch : LAND
77
They're game : DEER
78
Keys with the #1 hits "My Boo" and "Fallin'" : ALICIA
79
Impersonate : APE
80
Marks gotten in Spanish class? : TILDES
82
Dietitian's stat : RDA
83
Pull a classic Internet prank on : RICKROLL
85
Wicked poker bet? : DEVILRAISE
88
Sci-fi drug : TEK
89
Group of atoms: Abbr. : MOL
90
With 58-Across, miffed : INA
91
Certain demon : INCUBUS
94
Two concerns of a secretive voodoo practicer? : GUISEANDDOLLS
99
First of a Latin trio : VENI
100
"___ never work!" : ITLL
102
See 107-Down : EGG
103
Rescue party prompter : SOS
104
___ Lemon of "30 Rock" : LIZ
105
Lefty of the old Dodgers : ODOUL
106
Many years : EON
108
Court inits. : ABA
109
George P. ___, 1980s secretary of state : SHULTZ
112
Lack of logic and a frosty coating? : NORIMEORREASON
116
Shot from above : AERIAL
117
Tangle : ENSNARL
118
Reach for the sky : ASPIRE
119
Big name in environmental advocacy : ALGORE
120
Condescended : DEIGNED
121
Hair piece : STRAND
122
Amalgamates : BLENDS
Down
1
Expression of disapproval : BOOHISS
2
Dig up : UNEARTH
3
Subordinate of a board chair? : TRUSTEESIDEKICK
4
Not watch live, say : TIVO
5
Beige relative : ECRU
6
Active ingredient in Off! : DEET
7
Sit shiva, say : GRIEVE
8
View from Aqaba : REDSEA
9
Important vows : IDOS
10
Bad cholesterol, in brief : LDL
11
"The Simpsons" second grader : LISA
12
Moe, for one : STOOGE
13
___ Pepper : SGT
14
Cry of triumph : HAH
15
Bass drum? : ALEKEG
16
Debonair : RAKISH
17
Turner memoir : ITINA
18
Gucci competitor : FENDI
19
"Game of Thrones," e.g. : SAGA
25
Left by plane : FLEWOUT
31
Soprano Licia, singer at the Met for 26 years : ALBANESE
33
Cry like a baby : MEWL
36
Big 12 sch. : TCU
37
Student in a uniform : CADET
38
Be offensive, in a way : REEK
39
Pat. off. concerns : TMS
40
Stew dish known in Thailand as "suki" : HOTPOT
41
First class : INTRO
43
Some temp takers : RNS
46
"I've had enough of this patio furniture!," e.g.? : CHAISEREBELLION
47
Engrossed : RIVETED
48
Post-1968 tennis period : OPENERA
50
Irish novelist O'Brien : EDNA
51
Unfair condemnation : BADRAP
53
Move, in agent lingo : RELO
54
Set, as a price : ASKED
55
Arriviste : UPSTART
56
Wood in Hollywood : NATALIE
59
Latin phrase of inclusion : ETALII
62
Dot : SPECK
64
J. Alfred Prufrock creator's inits. : TSE
65
Climbing things? : TENDRILS
67
Nuit lead-in : SOIR
69
Like some trapped airport passengers : ICEDIN
70
Kind of order : TALL
73
Actress Watts : NAOMI
76
___ list : DEANS
79
Plaintiff, e.g. : ALLEGER
80
Spot to watch : TVAD
81
Set (on) : SIC
84
Shake : LOSE
86
Not go on : END
87
Roomy ride : SUV
92
Exercise piece : UNITARD
93
Is hot, hot, hot : SIZZLES
94
Model builder's activity : GLUING
95
Funnywoman Tracey : ULLMAN
96
Bazaars of yore : AGORAS
97
Harry ___ (Peter Parker's college friend) : OSBORN
98
Advanced : LOANED
100
"What have ___ to deserve this?!" : IDONE
101
Bodies of art? : TORSI
105
Like the x-, y- or z-axis : ONED
107
With 102-Across, future funds : NEST
108
Where the World Cup has been held only once : ASIA
109
9-5 maker : SAAB
110
Epitome of hotness : HELL
111
Compel : URGE
113
Before, to Byron : ERE
114
Discontinued : OLD
115
Credit card no. : APR

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?