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New York Times, Monday, November 19, 2018

Author:
Jim Hilger
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1412/11/20087/4/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0115700
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62320
Jim Hilger

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 76, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 3 Scrabble average: 1.88 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Hilger. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Hilger notes:
I began working on a crossword grid, inspired by just having viewed 'The Shape of Water' at the local movie theater. Originally I was ... read more

I began working on a crossword grid, inspired by just having viewed "The Shape of Water" at the local movie theater. Originally I was headed for a theme involving various water shapes (like drip, puddle, stream, spray, or whatever), but that approach never seemed quite satisfying enough. Then somehow my mind wandered off to another fine film, "The Color of Money" — whose title interestingly had a similar "shape." And then a third shapely theme entry suddenly came to mind: "The Sound of Music." I decided the Crossword Gods were trying to tell me something.

I liked this grid layout, for housing the three grid-spanning themers. It allowed some breathing room for a little BIGCHEESE fill while minimizing the 3-letter answers.

My submitted puzzle title was "Film Fam." My favorite submitted clue was at 44-Down, and was "Started to blow a straw house down."

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautifully consistent set of themers today. Look at all the layers: All movie titles Each fitting the pattern, THE ___ OF ... read more

Beautifully consistent set of themers today. Look at all the layers:

  • All movie titles
  • Each fitting the pattern, THE ___ OF ___
  • Both blanks containing exactly five letters
  • All three cluable in a punny way

In this day and age of dense themes, I often find that three 15-letter entries feels thin for my taste. But when they're this consistent, I'm okay with it.

Low theme density opens up huge possibilities for sparkly bonus fill. I'm a big fan of BIG CHEESE and BABY BUGGY — they inject nice color into the solve. Even mid-lengthers like HEY NOW! and MAKE ME elevate the quality of the grid.

I was hoping for more snazzy bonuses, though. With just 45 theme squares, I'd expect at least four long bonuses. One way to do this might be to remove the black square between EVAN and SAT ON. The black square between GATO and ALOE is another candidate, too.

Another advantage of doing one of these is that it'd open up the grid, letting the solving feng shui flow a little better.

There's a case to be made, that focusing on the short fill is way more important, when it comes to Monday "starter" puzzles. But I think it would have been possible to both add in more long bonuses while at the same time smoothing out WHELM / ORFF, MATRI, NEER. These aren't terrible offenders, but it's important to make early-week puzzles as accessible to newbs as possible.

TWOD (2-D) is a divisive one. I use to think it was fun and even a little clever. The fact that it's never seen written like this in real life was beside the point! Now that I've heard lots (and lots and lots) of complaints from rookie solvers though (similarly, things like AANDE, VEIGHT), I avoid them in my own constructions.

The theme piqued my interest enough to figure out what other titles fit the tight pattern. If only THE ILIAD OF HOMER had been made into a movie!

(Okay, good thing it wasn't. Man, was that boring. Sorry, ancient Greeks!)

Jim Horne notes:
It's interesting to see the evolution of clues. THE SOUND OF MUSIC has appeared many times. In 1959, it was a 'Coming production about ... read more

It's interesting to see the evolution of clues. THE SOUND OF MUSIC has appeared many times. In 1959, it was a "Coming production about the Trapp Family." By 1962 it was a "Broadway hit." By 1978, it was the "Most popular film ever produced." Today's "noted" clue is the first time wordplay has been used for this answer.

1
W
2
E
3
B
4
B
5
G
6
O
7
N
8
G
9
A
10
B
11
E
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T
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S
14
H
A
R
I
15
R
H
E
A
16
N
O
V
A
K
17
E
C
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G
18
I
B
E
T
19
I
T
A
L
Y
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T
H
E
C
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O
L
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R
O
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F
M
O
N
E
Y
23
H
O
L
Y
24
L
A
X
25
M
26
A
27
K
E
M
E
28
P
29
A
U
L
30
S
31
P
32
A
33
A
D
R
E
P
34
S
E
L
F
35
B
A
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R
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T
H
E
S
H
37
A
P
E
O
F
38
W
A
T
E
R
39
R
O
M
E
40
D
I
V
E
41
H
B
O
G
O
42
I
C
E
43
F
I
N
E
44
H
E
Y
N
O
W
45
A
L
E
46
B
U
L
B
47
T
48
H
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E
S
O
U
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N
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D
O
F
M
U
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S
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I
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C
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W
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D
O
W
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O
R
F
F
57
G
Y
R
O
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O
V
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N
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59
R
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G
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D
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Y
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S
© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 1119 ( 25,213 )
Across
1
Jack who starred on "Dragnet" : WEBB
5
Percussion in a pagoda : GONG
9
Serves as a lookout for, say : ABETS
14
Mata ___ (W.W. I spy) : HARI
15
Actress Perlman of "Cheers" : RHEA
16
Tennis star Djokovic : NOVAK
17
Vaping device, informally : ECIG
18
Skeptical comeback : IBET
19
Where pasta originated : ITALY
20
"Green" 1986 film? : THECOLOROFMONEY
23
Word before Ghost or Grail : HOLY
24
Not strict, as security : LAX
25
Defiant challenge to a bully : MAKEME
28
Singer McCartney : PAUL
30
Resort with springs : SPA
33
Seller of TV spots, informally : ADREP
34
Subject most familiar to a portrait painter : SELF
35
Roseanne who's not on "The Conners" : BARR
36
"Fluid" 2017 film? : THESHAPEOFWATER
39
Capital of 19-Across : ROME
40
Enter a pool headfirst : DIVE
41
Streamer of "Game of Thrones" : HBOGO
42
Rink surface : ICE
43
"O.K. by me" : FINE
44
"Whoa there!" : HEYNOW
45
Ginger ___ (soft drink) : ALE
46
Light source that needs occasional replacement : BULB
47
"Noted" 1965 film? : THESOUNDOFMUSIC
55
Black ___ spider : WIDOW
56
Carl who composed "Carmina Burana" : ORFF
57
Greek sandwich : GYRO
58
Sheep-related : OVINE
59
Teeming : RIFE
60
Chew on like a beaver : GNAW
61
Frighten off : DETER
62
Apple device with earbuds : IPOD
63
Hankerings : YENS
Down
1
Sharpen : WHET
2
To ___ his own : EACH
3
Cracker topping spread with a knife : BRIE
4
Grand pooh-bah : BIGCHEESE
5
Car part between the headlights : GRILLE
6
"Yippee!" : OHBOY
7
"... and ___ the twain shall meet" : NEER
8
Feline: Sp. : GATO
9
Neither vegetable nor mineral, in a guessing game : ANIMAL
10
Cosmetic injection : BOTOX
11
Welsh "John" : EVAN
12
Story : TALE
13
Vodka in a blue bottle : SKYY
21
Energy, informally : OOMPH
22
Trivial entertainment : FLUFF
25
Prefix with lineal : MATRI
26
Like a committee formed for a special purpose : ADHOC
27
Krispy ___doughnuts : KREME
28
Minor annoyance : PEEVE
29
Soothing plant extract : ALOE
30
Withheld the publication of : SATON
31
Alternative to Ragú : PREGO
32
Symbol on a one-way street sign : ARROW
34
What planets do on their axes : SPIN
35
Pram : BABYBUGGY
37
Word of parting in Paris : ADIEU
38
Engulf, old-style : WHELM
43
Blossom : FLOWER
44
Breathed heavily : HUFFED
45
In unison : ASONE
46
Terrific, on Broadway : BOFFO
47
Lacking depth, informally : TWOD
48
Hill : ants :: ___ : bees : HIVE
49
Revise, as text : EDIT
50
"Me neither," formally : NORI
51
Reason to call a plumber : DRIP
52
"Auld Lang ___" : SYNE
53
Longtime rival of Saudi Arabia : IRAN
54
Anthropomorphic figures in many "Far Side" cartoons : COWS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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