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GOING OFF SCRIPT

New York Times, Sunday, October 29, 2017

Author:
Ross Trudeau
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
182/9/20177/16/20191
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
5262300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58021
Ross Trudeau

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 77 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Trudeau. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ross Trudeau notes:
A couple thoughts: 1. 'Going off script' includes lines from four white actors. Moreover, the SHOW ME THE MONEY line was also spoken by Cuba Gooding Jr., a black actor who goes ... read more

A couple thoughts:

1. "Going off script" includes lines from four white actors.

Moreover, the SHOW ME THE MONEY line was also spoken by Cuba Gooding Jr., a black actor who goes uncredited in this puzzle (despite upstaging Tom Cruise).

2. "Going off script" also includes lines from four male actors.

The original version did include WOODLINE / I FEEL PRETTY OH SO PRETTY, which got axed because it yielded asymmetric themers. But then again, Natalie Wood, an American with Russian parents, was cast to play Maria, a Puerto Rican. Dios.

Aside from Mrs. Wood, I only found revealers that referenced white males (PENNLINE, CRYSTALLINE, SHORTLINE, etc.), let alone ones that matched with legitimately iconic movie quotes.

So, open question: If Hollywood's gender/race representation problem means that, after an honest effort, you only get white male actors for your ___LINE puzzle, do you scrap it? Is doing otherwise cynical and opportunistic? Are your sins mitigated if you subsequently construct an UZI GAL GODOT puzz? (Very interested in collaborating on that puzzle. Let's chat.)

Jeff Chen notes:
Ross showed me this concept a few months ago. I liked the general idea, but some themers felt much stronger than others. CRUISE LINE was perfect, as 'cruise line' is a real thing, plus Tom ... read more

Ross showed me this concept a few months ago. I liked the general idea, but some themers felt much stronger than others. CRUISE LINE was perfect, as "cruise line" is a real thing, plus Tom Cruise has so many iconic lines! LEDGER LINE wasn't quite as good — "ledger line" felt like something only us finance dorks would know off the bat — but it still worked.

Turns out I was wrong about LEDGER LINEs! They're not related to bank ledgers, but musical scores. Huh. So much for my 20+ years of playing in orchestras ...

LANE LINE … that didn't seem like a real phrase to me. And FORD LINE is a thing, no doubt, but it felt so arbitrary, opening up crosswords to things like HP PRINTERS or EDDIE BAUER SOCKS or whatever. I wouldn't use either of these LINEs in a regular crossword.

FORD LINE at least lends itself to all sorts of possibilities, as Harrison Ford gets quoted so often. LANE LINE … granted, I haven't seen "The Lion King" in its entirety, but it took a long time to figure out who LANE was (Nathan Lane), and what character sang HAKUNA MATATA (… Timon? The meerkat?). So that one felt the weakest to me.

I've been impressed with Ross' work ethic, going at his grids with a fine pencil and a lot of erasing — literally! I always get a smile when people see what a huge help it is to jump from manual construction to computer-assisted. Akin to jumping from a legal pad to Microsoft Word. You still need to do the nut and bolts work, but technology simplifies things greatly.

Nice result, very little crossword glue in the form of ELHI, ALPES, ACS, BANC, ECOLE, ONEAS, etc. No major sticking points there. And to work in such great fill as ALAKAZAM, GRE SCORE, ROYAL WE, THE CURE, FATHER TIME, AMEX CARD — wow! Even if the theme didn't catch your attention, there's more than enough snazzy bonus fill to entertain.

Ross did use more cheater squares than I like to see — the black squares in the very NW / SE corners, the pyramids on the west / east, the little L blocks everywhere. Makes the grid feel inelegant, needing so many extra black squares (16!) to nibble away at the white space to be filled. But I'd much rather constructors err on the side of using too many cheaters, especially since so many tend to end up with Sunday grids splotched everywhere with ugly crossword glue.

Nice idea, wish all four theme pairs worked as strongly as CRUISE LINE / SHOW ME THE MONEY.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 1029 ( 24,827 )
Across
1
Lecterns : PODIA
6
Some looping online animations : GIFS
10
No. 2's : VPS
13
Canine supporters : GUMS
17
It's all an act : CHARADE
19
Actor Epps : OMAR
20
"Abracadabra!" : ALAKAZAM
22
"The Lion King" : HAKUNAMATATA
24
Pool divider, or a further hint to 22-Across : LANELINE
25
Wine often served with dessert : ASTI
26
College department that might offer paid studies, informally : PSYCH
27
"Who, me?" : MOI
28
Majestic : REGAL
29
Get excited about crosswords, say, with "out" : NERD
30
Hockey feint : DEKE
31
Hallmark.com offerings : ECARDS
34
Bond, for one: Abbr. : AGT
35
Fig. on a master's application : GRESCORE
37
Geometry test directive : PROVE
38
Maître's domain : ECOLE
41
Suffix with legal : ESE
42
"Jerry Maguire" : SHOWMETHEMONEY
45
Box a bit : SPAR
46
Hunter in the night sky : ORION
47
Feature of Chairman Mao's cap : REDSTAR
51
Reaction to a bad joke : BOO
52
They're often cross-bred with apricots : PLUMS
53
Smart-alecky : WISE
54
American pale ___ : ALE
55
Bozo : DOLT
56
Get up : ARISE
57
Judge's seat : BANC
58
Neural conductor : AXON
59
Carnival, say, or a further hint to 42-Across : CRUISELINE
61
Musical score marking, or a further hint to 101-Across : LEDGERLINE
63
Full house, for one : HAND
64
___ mater : ALMA
65
Ideas spreading virally : MEMES
66
Duel tool : EPEE
67
Blue Devils' org. : ACC
68
Hephaestus' forge is said to be under it : ETNA
69
Uninspired : VAPID
70
Satiated : FED
71
What I may turn into : ROYALWE
73
Coin at an arcade : TOKEN
74
"The Merry Drinker" painter : HALS
76
"The Force Awakens" : CHEWIEWEREHOME
79
Traffic-monitoring org. : FAA
82
Herb pronounced differently in the U.S. and U.K. : BASIL
84
Appears : SEEMS
85
Item with the words "Member Since" : AMEXCARD
87
White House extension? : GOV
88
George Takei's role on the U.S.S. Enterprise, in brief : LTSULU
90
Small beam : GRIN
91
When Macduff slays Macbeth : ACTV
92
They're first in the draft : ONEAS
95
"Sure" : YUP
96
Brunch offering : CREPE
98
Where Samson slew the Philistines : LEHI
99
F-150s or Thunderbirds, or a further hint to 76-Across : FORDLINE
101
"The Dark Knight" : WHYSOSERIOUS
104
Onlooker : OBSERVER
105
Ills : WOES
106
"Friday I'm in Love" band, 1992 : THECURE
107
Caviars : ROES
108
Defib locales : ERS
109
"In that case ..." : IFSO
110
Language in which the first four cardinal numbers are ane, twa, three and fower : SCOTS
Down
1
Sci-fi weapons : PHASERS
2
Symbol of strength : OAKTREE
3
Stonehenge priests : DRUIDS
4
McKellen who played Gandalf : IAN
5
City south of Seminole, Okla. : ADA
6
Singer with the 2012 #1 hit "Somebody That I Used to Know" : GOTYE
7
Apple desktop : IMAC
8
New Year's Eve figure : FATHERTIME
9
Mrs., abroad : SRA
10
Ad ___ tax : VALOREM
11
Daring thing to wear with polka dots : PLAID
12
___ Gabriel Mountains : SAN
13
Big gust : GALE
14
Eponymous Israeli gun designer : UZIGAL
15
Get by : MANAGE
16
Refine : SMELT
17
What metathesiophobia is the fear of : CHANGE
18
Kind of penguin : EMPEROR
21
Splat preceder : KER
23
Out of whack : ASKEW
27
Connoisseur : MAVEN
30
Capital of Qatar : DOHA
32
Some salmon : COHOS
33
Get old : SENESCE
36
$100 bills, in slang : CSPOTS
37
Study : PERUSE
39
Turn over : CEDE
40
Yiddish cries : OYS
43
José, Bengie and Yadier ___, catcher brothers with five World Series rings among them : MOLINA
44
Redundant-sounding engine parts : ORINGS
45
Like the 1-to-7 balls : SOLID
48
Prepared for takeoff : TAXIED
49
Stag : ALONE
50
Actress Russo : RENE
51
Like trampolines : BOUNCY
52
___ ballerina : PRIMA
53
Got one's feet wet? : WADED
55
Harry's wizarding foe : DRACO
56
Never-before-seen : ALLNEW
57
Candy heart message : BEMINE
58
Suisse peaks : ALPES
59
A fish ... or to cook it, in a way : CHAR
60
Have nutritious foods : EATWELL
61
Pariahs : LEPERS
62
Flinching, typically : REFLEX
65
Play up : MAKEMUCHOF
68
K-12 : ELHI
69
What "w" is in Welsh, at times : VOWEL
72
Window fixtures, for short : ACS
73
Get ready to drive : TEEUP
74
Most cozy : HOMIEST
75
"Preach!" : AMEN
77
Publishers : ISSUERS
78
___ Productions, company behind TV's "Dr. Phil" : HARPO
79
Look onto the street, say : FACEOUT
80
First family after the Garfields : ARTHURS
81
Counsel : ADVISE
82
Endangered ape : BONOBO
83
Opposed (to) : AVERSE
86
Multicolored : CALICO
87
Choose : GOFOR
89
Jazz pianist McCoy ___ : TYNER
90
Artist's base : GESSO
93
Coolers in coolers : ADES
94
Camera option, for short : SLR
97
Loafs around a deli? : RYES
100
"___ had it!" : IVE
101
The U.S. joined it in 1917: Abbr. : WWI
102
Quizzical utterances : EHS
103
Fun, for short : REC

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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