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MOVIE DOUBLES

New York Times, Sunday, October 9, 2016

Author: Michael Ashley
Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
117/29/200110/9/20160
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7000022
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56001
Michael Ashley

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Ashley. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Ashley notes: This puzzle began life as a joke. I asked a friend, have you heard about the movie sequel about the greatest mohel in Brooklyn? Anyone who knew what a mohel is has gotten a LOL moment at the answer: AMERICAN ... more
Michael Ashley notes:

This puzzle began life as a joke. I asked a friend, have you heard about the movie sequel about the greatest mohel in Brooklyn? Anyone who knew what a mohel is has gotten a LOL moment at the answer: AMERICAN SNIPPER. (For those of you who don't know, a mohel is the person who performs the Jewish rite of circumcision.) It's such a simple, concise little gem that, when I realized it was a great puzzle idea as well, it seemed like it would be a snap to sit down for a few minutes and come up with some more theme movies.

Ha! chalk that one up to rosy-cheeked optimism. It seems that the universe of words that form new words with a doubled letter is not nearly so big as I would have thought. And that list shrinks considerably when you try to fit them into a set of movie titles that are both familiar enough to everyone and yet still make any kind of sense as a phrase. So Will rejected my first draft, but encouraged me to find some new theme entries to replace the ones he didn't care for. And that too required a pretty fair amount of research work, plus some serious back-and-forthing with Will before arriving at the final set. So a big vote of thanks here to IMDB.com for a wealth of keyword titles to sift through, and to Will and his assistant Joel, both for their input and even more so for their patience.

BTW, this is a good thing to know for any of you puzzle writers who are struggling with rejection slips: getting a Times quality crossword can take a large amount of work and perseverance. So don't give up!

Finally, I am personally quite pleased with working both a GIANT SQUID and a JOLTIN JOE into the grid. It seems to me that the giant squid is an eminently worthy animal for the puzzle pantheon. And as for JOLTIN JOE, hey, come on, he's the Yankee Clipper, and I love the Yankees, even though we came up a little short this year!

Jeff Chen notes: This puzzle gave me quite a few entertaining moments. First, the title is perfect — MOVIE DOUBLES hinting at the doubling of one letter in a movie title for kooky effect — and more importantly, Michael ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

This puzzle gave me quite a few entertaining moments. First, the title is perfect — MOVIE DOUBLES hinting at the doubling of one letter in a movie title for kooky effect — and more importantly, Michael created some really funny themers. I particularly liked how AMERICAN SNIPER to AMERICAN SNIPPER flipped a serious image into a comedic one. A SHO(O)T IN THE DARK made me picture a poor photographer who keeps on getting told to just get the shot … even though there's no light. And HOMME ALONE turned a cutesy kid-flick into one with French subtitles. Very nice.

The only one that didn't do much for me was A STARR IS BORN, since I've seen lots of plays on STAR -> STARR. And it would have been nice for every movie be a blockbuster — HOT PURSUIT didn't get a very good critical reception or make much at the box office. Still, the visual of a crack squad staking out owls was pretty funny.

Michael did a nice job of adding in bonus fill, JOLTIN' JOE right above IRON AGE a standout for me. CRISIS MODE, GIANT SQUID, GALAHAD, and SOPHISM were great, too.

I wasn't as much a fan of ICE TRAY — isn't it usually ICE CUBE TRAY? — and SOB SISTER ... don't guys write sentimental features as well? There seems to be an outdated implication baked into the term that I don't care for.

I also noticed a good amount of crossword glue as I went, things like OJO (Spanish for "eye"), TIAS, AERO, AGS (attorney generals), PARAS, SSGTS, SSA, OSS. And the PEETA / EDOM might be a killer for some. Even though I loved the "Hunger Games" books, PEETA (one of Katniss's love interests) is a tough one for me to remember. It felt like quite a lot.

Overall though, I thought Michael did a remarkable job with really funny theme answers. That's no mean feat — most of the time I find kooky-themer Sunday puzzles not amusing enough. Because of that accomplishment, I might have tried for less sizzle in the fill in order to smooth out some of the rough spots. But I can respect the desire to work in great JOLTIN JOE-esque material.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 1009 ( 24,442 )
Across Down
1. Loud sound in a storm : CLAP
5. Brand in the freezer aisle : EGGO
9. "Well, blimey!" : ISAY
13. Masked hero : ZORRO
18. ___ land : LALA
19. Emergency state : CRISISMODE
22. Indo-___ : ARYAN
23. One working for Supercuts? : AMERICANSNIPPER
25. "Later" : PEACE
26. Crusader's foe : SARACEN
27. Longtime "60 Minutes" reporter : STAHL
28. Beats handily : SPANKS
29. "Always be a poet, even in ___": Baudelaire : PROSE
30. Bro : DUDE
33. See what one is saying? : LIPREAD
35. Barista's big reveal? : THELATTESHOW
38. Fall guy : SAP
41. Awful : ABHORRENT
45. Allow : ADMIT
46. Put-away shot : SMASH
48. Pacific farewells : ALOHAS
49. Lead-in to -drome : AERO
51. Who says "O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!," in Shakespeare : OPHELIA
53. Cry after an owie, maybe : MOMMY
54. British terminals? : ZEDS
55. Concord : AGREEMENT
57. Wakens : COMESTO
59. Winning gesture : VSIGN
62. Biblical kingdom : EDOM
63. "___ to Psyche" : ODE
64. Search for a really funny person? : HOOTPURSUIT
68. Monthly check-issuing org. : SSA
71. Camera setting : AUTO
74. "___ and the Pussycats" : JOSIE
75. Burdened (with) : SADDLED
78. Nickname for DiMaggio : JOLTINJOE
81. Child in Chile : NINO
84. Humpty Dumpty-shaped : OVOID
85. Post-Neolithic period : IRONAGE
86. Astrobiologists' org. : SETI
87. "That's it for me" : IMDONE
88. Actress Amanda of "She's the Man" : BYNES
89. Army E-6s: Abbr. : SSGTS
93. Writer who specializes in sentimental stories : SOBSISTER
95. Program file suffix : EXE
96. Declaration at Ringo's birth? : ASTARRISBORN
98. Chef Boyardee offering : RAVIOLI
100. 'Tis the season : NOEL
101. ___ football : ARENA
106. Parthenon feature : FRIEZE
109. Singer LaBelle : PATTI
111. Best: Lat. : OPTIMUS
113. Send, as payment : REMIT
114. Photographer's impossible task? : ASHOOTINTHEDARK
117. "Poor Richard's Almanack" offering : ADAGE
118. Menace in "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" : GIANTSQUID
119. Other than that : ELSE
120. "This I Promise You" band, 2000 : NSYNC
121. Added details : ANDS
122. Divisions of office bldgs. : STES
123. Whole bunch : SLEW
1. Hug : CLASP
2. University in Beaumont, Tex. : LAMAR
3. Old Olds : ALERO
4. Law office staffers, informally : PARAS
5. "Look!," to Livy : ECCE
6. Spanish nobleman : GRANDEE
7. Cry at a card table : GIN
8. W.W. II org. : OSS
9. Stuck through : IMPALED
10. Specious reasoning : SOPHISM
11. University in Garden City, Long Island : ADELPHI
12. "___ out!" (ump's cry) : YER
13. Frank who was called the "Electric Don Quixote" : ZAPPA
14. Mountain nymph : OREAD
15. Politico Paul : RYAN
16. Billiards need : RACK
17. Till compartment : ONES
20. Smaller picture : INSET
21. Canine command : SIT
24. Freezer items : ICETRAYS
28. Darn, e.g. : SEW
31. Radii partners : ULNAE
32. Saw : DATED
34. Part of an ignition system : ROTOR
36. Timecard measure: Abbr. : HRS
37. Philosophical lead-in to -ism : TAO
38. Money in Oregon state coffers? : SALEMSLOOT
39. A ___ apple : ASIN
40. Cool, in old slang : PHAT
41. Company near the start of the telephone book listings : AAMCO
42. Relatives : BLOOD
43. French bachelor? : HOMMEALONE
44. "Goodness!" : OHME
46. Spade holder : SHED
47. It might start "Attn." : MEMO
50. Gets back (to), in a way : RSVPS
52. Katniss's love in "The Hunger Games" : PEETA
54. Morning ___ : ZOO
55. D.O.J. figures : AGS
56. Serengeti roamer : GNU
58. Slim beachwear : THONG
60. ___ generis : SUI
61. Cara of "Fame" : IRENE
65. Eye: Sp. : OJO
66. Part of a boot : TOE
67. Prefix with -therm : ISO
69. River spanned by the Pont Neuf : SEINE
70. Member of the genus Vipera : ADDER
72. Magazine founder Eric : UTNE
73. Members of la familia : TIAS
76. Own, so to speak : DOMINATE
77. Redbox offerings : DVDS
78. Be in harmony : JIBE
79. Serengeti roamer : ORYX
80. Country music's Colter : JESSI
82. "Truly" : ITSSO
83. Daughter of Tantalus : NIOBE
86. Cold War land: Abbr. : SSR
87. Mediterranean land: Abbr. : ISR
90. Pays a short visit : STOPSIN
91. Son of Sir Lancelot : GALAHAD
92. Large sea snails : TRITONS
94. Bit of attire for Roy Rogers : BOLOTIE
96. Forum greeting : AVE
97. Quick signature: Abbr. : INITS
98. Rule : REIGN
99. San Diego State athlete : AZTEC
102. Coasters, e.g. : RIDES
103. Online shoppers' destination : EMALL
104. Sip : NURSE
105. Slightly off : ASKEW
106. Football Hall-of-Famer Tarkenton : FRAN
107. Cold War side : REDS
108. "___ as well" : IMAY
110. Little 'un : TOT
112. Many tenured profs : PHDS
114. Old Turkish commander : AGA
115. Some test results, for short : IQS
116. Crank : NUT

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle.

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