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New York Times, Monday, November 23, 2015

Author:
Parker Lewis
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
48/11/20118/18/20161
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0100300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66001
Parker Lewis

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JKQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Lewis. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Parker Lewis notes:
This puzzle was a long time in the making! I submitted the first version back in early 2014. It was rejected because my central theme answer, ... read more

This puzzle was a long time in the making! I submitted the first version back in early 2014. It was rejected because my central theme answer, THIRD CULTURE KID, was deemed too obscure. I did a bit more brainstorming for alternatives and landed on THIRD TIMES A CHARM — a much better entry, but one that requires a 16x15 grid.

After producing several possible grids, I resubmitted the puzzle in late 2014. I heard back from Will with a tentative yes, provided I could clean up a few iffy entries. At that time, I was using the entry FOURTH OF JULY and no matter how creative I was with my block placements, the J was proving to be quite a problem. Changing that entry to FOURTH ESTATE helped alleviate some constraints and I was able to come up with a much cleaner fill. I resubmitted again this February and it was finally accepted!

I'd say that THIRD TIMES A CHARM is an apt description of this creation process but looking through my records, I found about 15 drafts of a completed grid! In one version, there were no blocks between 12/36-Down and between 28/49-Down, but unfortunately the fill had too many compromises. I'm pleased that I was able to pack in five theme entries although it certainly complicates the construction process.

Will changed a number of my clues, mostly skewing easier, since I wrote the initial clues expecting this to be a Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle. Did you catch the tie-in from the clue for 27-Down?

Jeff Chen notes:
I have the good fortune of living near Parker, so we meet up every other month or so. Nice to be in an area with many fellow puzzle people! ... read more

I have the good fortune of living near Parker, so we meet up every other month or so. Nice to be in an area with many fellow puzzle people! Parker showed me an earlier version of this puzzle, and I remember being impressed by the idea. It's so fun to see FIFTH, FOURTH, THIRD … and then not get SECOND and FIRST! Cool to have another completely natural sequence-completer in HALF and WHOLE; one which was unexpected.

The FIFTH ELEMENT

I also remember feeling like there were too many gluey bits in his earlier grid, so it was a relief to see Parker's final product. Not only is the crunchy stuff limited to the very minor LIRE, STS, SGTS, but Parker also worked in quite a bit of long fill. This is important, since the larger-than-normal grid (16x15), must captive the solver for that much longer. Uncovering bonus entries like NICE ONE, ALOHA STATE, STILL LIFES, EDIT MENU, ICE CREAM (yum!), AIRLIFT, even OCULUS Rift (one of the leading virtual reality headset companies) kept me entertained. Quite a nice construction, especially considering just having five themers is hard enough.

As Parker and I discussed his redo, I mentioned that the FIFTH ELEMENT was the weakest themer, since 1.) it omits "The" from the title and 2.) my guess is that it won't reach "classic" status. I thought there had to be something better. Could have been FIFTH WHEEL, FIFTH AVENUE, FIFTH COLUMN, but finding a "WHOLE ___" phrase with a matching length made it tricky. I liked WHOLE FOODS paired with FIFTH WHEEL, but WHOLE SHEBANG does make for a great final themer.

Nice to get a few insider's nods, with MASAI (Parker did Peace Corps in Africa a few years ago) and APP (he recently got a job as an ioS app developer).

A theme that cleverly misdirects + is accessible to novices + a smooth and meaty grid = a beauty of a Monday puzzle.

1
T
2
A
3
R
4
P
5
M
6
I
7
D
8
D
9
A
10
Y
11
A
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P
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P
14
O
D
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15
N
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16
L
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17
F
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F
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18
H
E
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M
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N
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19
O
V
A
20
U
N
F
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21
C
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S
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23
F
O
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U
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E
26
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T
A
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27
M
28
A
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S
30
A
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G
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P
A
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A
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A
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H
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39
D
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40
E
41
S
A
C
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42
H
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D
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Y
44
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L
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F
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O
D
E
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N
48
H
49
A
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F
M
A
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R
A
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H
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O
N
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I
B
M
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O
C
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U
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L
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S
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G
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W
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H
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A
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63
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N
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68
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1123 ( 24,121 )
Across
1. Cover during a rain delay : TARP
5. Noon : MIDDAY
11. "There's an ___ for that" : APP
14. "Garfield" dog : ODIE
15. "Yeah, that's good" : NICEONE
16. Rapper ___ Wayne : LIL
17. 1997 Bruce Willis sci-fi film, with "The" : FIFTHELEMENT
19. Latin for "eggs" : OVA
20. Not just : UNFAIR
21. Rollaway bed : COT
22. Whiskey purchase : SHOT
23. Journalistic profession : FOURTHESTATE
27. Native Kenyans : MASAI
31. "___ whiz!" : GEE
32. Workplaces for masseuses : SPAS
33. First part of a play : ACTI
34. Pie ___ mode : ALA
35. Six-line stanza : SESTET
38. Saying about persistence paying off : THIRDTIMESACHARM
42. Greetings : HELLOS
43. Like many home improvement projects, for short : DIY
44. Sicilian volcano : ETNA
45. Sicilians used to spend them : LIRE
46. ___ Newtons : FIG
47. Big name in theaters : ODEON
48. Race just over 13 miles long : HALFMARATHON
52. Withhold, as information : OMIT
53. Tech giant known as Big Blue : IBM
54. ___ Rift (virtual reality product owned by Facebook) : OCULUS
59. Repeating film snippet online : GIF
60. Entirety, informally : WHOLESHEBANG
63. 18+ to vote, e.g. : AGE
64. Protections for inventors : PATENTS
65. Send off, as rays : EMIT
66. Refusals : NOS
67. Wife, informally : MISSUS
68. "Doggone it!" : RATS
Down
1. High-protein food that often comes in cubes : TOFU
2. Game point, in tennis : ADIN
3. Speak extemporaneously (on) : RIFF
4. Org. against dog or cock fighting : PETA
5. "Cool" amount of money : MIL
6. Product from Ben & Jerry's or Baskin-Robbins : ICECREAM
7. Reduce in rank : DEMOTE
8. Performs, in the Bible : DOETH
9. Advice-dispensing Landers : ANN
10. "Are we there ___?" : YET
11. Hawaii's nickname : ALOHASTATE
12. Turning point : PIVOT
13. Center of a place setting : PLATE
15. Roman emperor known for his vanity : NERO
18. Revolutionary music device? : HIFI
22. Like a squirrel's acorns : STASHED
24. ___ fruit (relative of a tangelo) : UGLI
25. Op-ed piece : ESSAY
26. Guideline for a contractor, for short : SPEC
27. Subject with fractions : MATH
28. Feel the pain : ACHE
29. Paintings with fruits and vases, often : STILLLIFES
30. Evacuate by helicopter, say : AIRLIFT
34. Bewildered : ATSEA
36. Cube maker Rubik : ERNO
37. I.R.S. agent, for short : TMAN
39. Place to find an R.A. : DORM
40. It may give the options to copy, cut and paste : EDITMENU
41. [Ah, me] : SIGH
46. "The Fox and the Grapes" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" : FABLES
47. In times gone by : ONCE
48. Wrestler Hulk : HOGAN
49. Mexican friend : AMIGO
50. Civil disturbances : RIOTS
51. Sounds heard during fireworks shows : OOHS
55. Lyft competitor : UBER
56. Dalai ___ : LAMA
57. The "U" of I.C.U. : UNIT
58. Pepper and Friday: Abbr. : SGTS
60. Typist's stat, in brief : WPM
61. "Bali ___" : HAI
62. Alternatives to rds. and aves. : STS

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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