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BINARY CODE

New York Times, Sunday, December 27, 2015

Author:
Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1211/13/20129/19/201712
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3151200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58131
Don Gagliardo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5911/13/20121/25/201919
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
619175462
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {KQX} This is puzzle # 8 for Mr. Gagliardo. This is puzzle # 24 for Ms. Burnikel. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
DON: What started me on this theme was ONION RINGS — I just happened to notice that the O's were described by RINGS. I thought if we simply write OO, one could literally say they ... read more

DON:

What started me on this theme was ONION RINGS — I just happened to notice that the O's were described by RINGS. I thought if we simply write OO, one could literally say they are ONION RINGS. I started to think of other possibilities. DD came easily, DEAD ENDS. Enlisting the help of a co-constructor is very profitable in this situation. Zhouqin came up with some great ones, like AA: NCAA FINALS, NN: MINNESOTA TWINS.

We got too ambitious with the grid design. With nine theme answers, one needs to be very careful. We had too many short answers that were unacceptable. The puzzle was accepted for the theme, but we needed to clean it up. We decided the best route was to start over completely. It paid off well because in a reasonably short time we were able to construct a grid that was acceptable. This is another case where having a co-constructor is ideal, because starting over completely may seem overwhelming by oneself, but much easier with some assistance.

C.C.:

I love when Don's theme proposal clicks with me immediately! I had fun finding LEADOFF DOUBLE, NCAA FINALS, JAZZ DUET & WINDOW FRAME. The other few (MARRIED COUPLE, SHOPPING CENTER & MINNESOTA TWINS) are just there waiting for us.

Don designed both our grids. I still have difficulty making 140-worder (maximum word count) happen.

Thanks for the new title, Will and Joel!

Jeff Chen notes:
Loved this puzzle. C.C. (Zhouqin) and Don's wide range of plays on double-letters is really cool. I vaguely remembered NN as MINNESOTA TWINS from somewhere, but most of the others felt ... read more

Loved this puzzle. C.C. (Zhouqin) and Don's wide range of plays on double-letters is really cool. I vaguely remembered NN as MINNESOTA TWINS from somewhere, but most of the others felt fresh. OO = the Os in ONION RINGS ("rings" within ONION) is such a clever find. PP = the central letters of SHOPPING CENTER. AA = NCAA FINALS, i.e. the final letters of NCAA. So many different discoveries, all using in-the-language phrases!

Boris and NATASHA

LEADOFF DOUBLE did throw me for a second — shouldn't "leadoff" mean that the double letters are at the front of the word? — but after thinking about it, it's just that the FF is a "double" within LEADOFF. It works, but the unintentional mislead made me feel like it was the weakest of the bunch.

But I'll pause here to repeat how much I loved the idea and the nine themers.

The execution was very nice, too. A 140-word puzzle is so tough to cleanly and snazzily fill, especially when you have nine themers. Not much long fill, but what great usage of their 7-letter slots. HALFCAF, AIR FARE, OH GREAT, LUDDITE, NATASHA (with a clue from "Rocky and Bullwinkle"!) = all wonderful entries. I wasn't sure what SANGRITA was (sangria, anyone?) but I don't drink much besides beer and scotch these days.

A great majority of the time, I see too much glue in NYT Sunday crosswords for my taste. It's understandable, as a 140-word puzzle is just really darn hard to put together without some glue. So to keep it to really minor ENS, EST, INTL, SPEE kind of stuff is excellent work. I really dislike DNAS, since it and RNA are rarely pluralized outside crosswords, but that's the only real standout.

Again, incredibly fun idea with a wide range of findings for those double letters. One of my favorite Sunday puzzles of the year.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1227 ( 24,155 )
Across
1
Savor, as a drink : SIPON
6
Takes down a peg : ABASES
12
Je t'aime : French :: ___ : Spanish : TEAMO
17
Sell at a discount, say : UNLOAD
19
Female toon with a "dollink" Boris : NATASHA
21
Grackles and grebes : AVIANS
23
PP : SHOPPINGCENTER
25
Attic : GARRET
26
Horror franchise beginning in 2004 : SAW
27
Lasting for years and years : AGELONG
28
Dirt road hazards : RUTS
30
Melee : FRAY
31
Street of film fame : ELM
32
You might take it out for a drive : IRON
33
Court, for short : RHYME
35
Pile of stones used to mark a trail : CAIRN
36
DD : DEADENDS
39
First antibacterial soap brand : DIAL
40
"Oh, please, that's enough" : SPAREME
42
Derisive sounds : SNORTS
43
Abbr. in many airport names : INTL
44
Jubilant : ELATED
45
Portrait on Chinese renminbi bills : MAO
46
AA : NCAAFINALS
48
Extra bed, maybe : COT
51
Bad thing on a record : BLOT
53
The Jedi and the Sith, e.g. : FOES
54
"Thursday Night Football" airer : CBS
55
Alaska tourist attraction : AURORA
57
Director of 2015's "Chi-Raq" : LEE
58
Capital with the Norsk Folkemuseum : OSLO
60
Travel info source, for short : AAA
61
London cathedral : STPAULS
62
Volunteer's response : ICAN
64
WW : WINDOWFRAME
68
Historic German admiral Maximilian von ___ : SPEE
69
Fizzy drink : SODAPOP
71
Michael of "Saturday Night Live" : CHE
72
Cry to a husky : MUSH
74
"When I was a ___ ..." : LAD
75
Riot opportunist : LOOTER
76
Locale for cranberries : BOG
77
Very much : ALOT
79
Uniform : EVEN
81
See 114-Across : ELF
82
OO : ONIONRINGS
85
Hodges who managed the Mets to a World Series title : GIL
86
Little Rascals boy : FARINA
88
Tolkien tree creatures : ENTS
89
Mars features, mistakenly : CANALS
92
Befuddling : ADDLING
94
Peeps heard by Bo Peep : BAAS
95
ZZ : JAZZDUET
97
When repeated, a Yale fight song : BOOLA
98
Playwright Clifford : ODETS
100
"How ___!" : RUDE
101
Modern TV feature, for short : DVR
102
Hazy memory : BLUR
103
Grps. with the motto "Every child. One voice" : PTAS
104
Conquest of 1953 : EVEREST
107
Susan of "The Partridge Family" : DEY
108
Silas in "The Da Vinci Code," notably : ALBINO
110
NN : MINNESOTATWINS
113
Dances at the Tropicana Club : SALSAS
114
Santa Claus portrayer in 81-Across : EDASNER
115
Greet from behind the wheel : TOOTAT
116
Witherspoon of "Legally Blonde" : REESE
117
Shot put and long jump : EVENTS
118
"Auld Lang Syne" and others : POEMS
Down
1
Figured (out) : SUSSED
2
Has an inspiration : INHALES
3
Agricultural figure in "The Canterbury Tales" : PLOWMAN
4
Alley ___ : OOP
5
Pep Boys competitor : NAPA
6
Whites, informally : ANGLOS
7
Strips shortly after getting up in the morning? : BACON
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Rate ___ (be perfect) : ATEN
9
Spicy fruit beverage often used as a tequila chaser : SANGRITA
10
Cornerstone abbr. : EST
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Singer Crow : SHERYL
12
Identifies in a Facebook photo : TAGS
13
A Perón : EVA
14
Soaring cost? : AIRFARE
15
RR : MARRIEDCOUPLE
16
Like macho push-ups : ONEARM
18
Explore deeply : DIGINTO
20
Calla lily family : ARUM
22
"Gypsy" composer : STYNE
24
Techies, stereotypically : NERDS
29
Gasless car : TESLA
34
Java order that packs less of a punch : HALFCAF
35
What Brits call "red sauce" : CATSUP
37
Major-___ : DOMO
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Muse for D. H. Lawrence : ERATO
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Some lab samples : DNAS
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Assets for food critics : PALATES
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Put away : ICE
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Annapolis grad. : ENS
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It comes before one : NOON
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Building beam : IBAR
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Susan who wrote "The Orchid Thief" : ORLEAN
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Hit with a stun gun : TASED
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"Chill out, will you" : BECOOL
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FF : LEADOFFDOUBLE
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Wig out : FLIP
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Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
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Durable stocking fabric : LISLE
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Like courtroom witnesses : SWORNIN
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Floor : AWE
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X-rated material : SMUT
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D.C. athlete : NAT
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Pest control brand : DCON
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Sarcastic "Wonderful" : OHGREAT
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Tori of pop/rock : AMOS
70
Symbol of Middle America : PEORIA
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Big name in 35-Down : HEINZ
76
Gaudy wrap : BOA
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Industrious workers : ANTS
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Some TVs and smartphones : LGS
80
The Impaler : VLAD
83
Fort Knox valuable : INGOT
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To some degree : INASENSE
85
Beholds : GAZESAT
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It's heard at a hearing : ALLRISE
89
West Pointer : CADET
90
Opposite of an early adopter : LUDDITE
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Morning run time, maybe : SEVENAM
92
Arafat's successor as Palestinian president : ABBAS
93
Budget alternative : DOLLAR
94
Next to : BESIDE
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Peers in a box : JURORS
96
Meetings arranged through Ashley Madison : TRYSTS
99
Helen Mirren, e.g. : DAME
100
Like an alarm clock, night after night : RESET
103
It may be struck on a runway : POSE
105
___ diagram : VENN
106
'Vette choice : TTOP
109
"N.Y. State of Mind" rapper : NAS
111
___ system (luxury car option, briefly) : NAV
112
Romance : WOO

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?