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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
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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
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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
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Saw : DATED
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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
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Spade holder : SHED
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It might start "Attn." : MEMO
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Gets back (to), in a way : RSVPS
52
Katniss's love in "The Hunger Games" : PEETA
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Morning ___ : ZOO
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D.O.J. figures : AGS
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Serengeti roamer : GNU
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Slim beachwear : THONG
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___ generis : SUI
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Cara of "Fame" : IRENE
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Eye: Sp. : OJO
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Part of a boot : TOE
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Prefix with -therm : ISO
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River spanned by the Pont Neuf : SEINE
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Member of the genus Vipera : ADDER
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Magazine founder Eric : UTNE
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Members of la familia : TIAS
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Own, so to speak : DOMINATE
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Redbox offerings : DVDS
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Be in harmony : JIBE
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Serengeti roamer : ORYX
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Country music's Colter : JESSI
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"Truly" : ITSSO
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Daughter of Tantalus : NIOBE
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Cold War land: Abbr. : SSR
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Mediterranean land: Abbr. : ISR
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Pays a short visit : STOPSIN
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Son of Sir Lancelot : GALAHAD
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Large sea snails : TRITONS
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Bit of attire for Roy Rogers : BOLOTIE
96
Forum greeting : AVE
97
Quick signature: Abbr. : INITS
98
Rule : REIGN
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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
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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: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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