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TAKE A BREAK

New York Times, Sunday, December 29, 2013

Author:
Joel Fagliano
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6510/22/20096/16/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
16911910325
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64351
Joel Fagliano

This puzzle:

Rows: 25, Columns: 17 Words: 138, Blocks: 78 Missing: {JX} Spans: 1 Grid has mirror symmetry. Scrabble average: 1.71 This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Fagliano. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Joel Fagliano notes:
I've always liked Sunday puzzles that have multiple layers to them. With such a big grid, if you crack the theme early (or even worse, off the title) it ... read more

I've always liked Sunday puzzles that have multiple layers to them. With such a big grid, if you crack the theme early (or even worse, off the title) it can often feel like a slog to finish. The more twists the solver has to uncover, the longer they stay engaged and the more "aha" moments they'll hopefully have. With this puzzle, my original idea of a pool table-shaped grid with POCKET rebus squares took up a lot of real estate in the grid as it was, with 12 answers already locked in place, but I thought that the puzzle needed something more, particularly in the middle sections. I tried to narrow the words-that-end-with-pool-terms phrases to only physical objects to make the theme as tight as I could. Finally, I was happy with the addition of the POOL BALLS in a triangle, something added about a month after I had put the other thematic material in the grid.

When I submitted this to Will Shortz, he informed me that he had run a Sunday theme almost exactly like this in 2006 in a puzzle by Michael Shteyman. I was bummed, because I usually check my theme ideas on Cruciverb or XwordInfo to make sure I'm not regurgitating a theme that I just solved recently. Although I'm sure I didn't solve Michael's puzzle (because I was 13 at the time and wasn't solving crosswords yet), it's embarrassing nonetheless that I didn't do my due diligence in checking. I'm left with the uncomfortable feeling that some might think that I plagiarized his idea. So, if anyone had their solving experience ruined by remembering the other puzzle, I apologize. I think it is an interesting question, though: Is it on the constructor to look to see if their idea has ever been done before, or is it on the editor to remember which themes they've run before and inform the constructor? What if a constructor comes up with a great idea but notices that someone did it 12 years ago? Is there some sort of statute of limitations past which an idea can be reused? I don't know the answer, but I know that in the future I'll try to be more careful.

Will Shortz notes:
When Joel showed me this puzzle last summer, my heart sank a bit, because I remembered Mike Shteyman's take on the same theme in 2006 — right down ... read more

When Joel showed me this puzzle last summer, my heart sank a bit, because I remembered Mike Shteyman's take on the same theme in 2006 — right down to the elongated grid with six POCKETs positioned in the same spots. But that was almost eight years ago, and at some point a statute of limitations applies. Joel's version is quite different from Mike's, and it's a beauty. So I'm happy to run it.

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful work from Joel, as usual. Not only does the puzzle take the shape of a pool table, and contain a pyramid of POOL BALLS, but it also has theme ... read more

Beautiful work from Joel, as usual. Not only does the puzzle take the shape of a pool table, and contain a pyramid of POOL BALLS, but it also has theme answers that end in pool terms (verbal CUE, sidewalk CHALK, etc.). Talk about lots of layers! I almost missed the additional theme answers, but it eventually dawned on me that while some constructors would find the first two elements to be enough, Joel must have packed in more than just the rebus squares and the POOL BALLS triangle. Glad I thought twice about it.

Very smooth solve today, a testament to how much work and time Joel must have put into this. Even with the three layers of theme answers in the puzzle, there's SO much good long fill (HAS A GO AT + BARBELLS + STOOLIE right in the POOL BALLS section (super impressive fill given the extremely heavy constraints!), plus ILLUMINATI, FAQIR, TS ELIOT, SUDOKU, KUMAR) and relatively little undesirable stuff (DREI with UNE, ETH, ATA, ESTOP) for a Sunday puzzle. It's very difficult to fill a Sunday-size puzzle cleanly, and with this many constraints, Joel does an outstanding job.

It's inevitable that multiple constructors will come up with a very similar concept. Unfortunate that Joel's puzzle is so similar to Michael's, but I appreciate today's execution. It's true that I remembered doing the old one — that memory did detract from my solving pleasure a little — but I still appreciated the ultra-smooth solve and the neat L-R (mirror) symmetry in the grid. And seven years does seem like a reasonable time to wait. Fun Sunday experience.

1
POCKET
2
B
3
O
4
O
5
K
6
T
7
U
8
N
9
E
10
S
11
P
12
I
13
C
14
K
15
POCKET
16
V
E
N
T
I
17
S
T
A
C
Y
18
A
T
L
A
S
19
E
L
I
T
E
20
A
U
T
O
S
21
C
O
A
T
I
22
T
O
O
23
V
24
E
R
B
A
L
C
25
U
E
26
W
I
Z
27
O
W
N
28
S
29
T
S
E
L
I
O
T
30
I
S
E
E
31
C
32
A
R
33
A
34
F
L
35
S
I
D
E
36
W
37
A
38
L
39
K
40
C
H
A
L
41
K
42
B
43
O
W
E
R
44
A
F
O
U
L
45
Q
U
I
46
L
47
T
48
A
M
A
N
A
49
N
A
O
M
I
50
I
M
D
U
E
51
W
A
L
T
W
52
H
I
T
M
A
N
53
B
R
I
D
G
E
54
D
R
E
I
55
U
N
E
56
R
C
A
57
N
O
E
S
58
S
59
A
N
G
60
H
I
61
Y
A
62
POCKET
63
W
64
A
T
C
H
65
H
66
U
67
B
68
O
U
T
69
O
70
F
71
POCKET
72
P
E
P
S
I
73
L
A
P
A
74
T
75
C
I
V
I
C
76
A
L
P
77
D
78
R
E
S
S
R
A
79
C
K
80
E
T
H
81
S
C
A
82
B
83
A
T
A
84
B
R
A
85
S
R
T
A
86
S
O
R
E
87
P
I
G
88
P
E
N
S
89
U
P
I
N
90
E
M
E
R
91
S
T
O
O
L
I
E
92
D
A
N
G
93
R
E
L
A
94
P
95
B
A
L
L
S
96
F
O
R
G
E
97
T
E
98
N
E
T
99
S
H
100
A
R
K
101
C
102
I
E
R
A
103
L
O
U
104
S
105
E
106
H
O
S
107
H
E
108
A
109
R
110
T
111
F
112
E
L
T
113
P
S
114
A
115
O
B
A
116
M
A
117
D
O
I
L
Y
118
H
119
A
I
T
I
120
T
R
A
M
P
121
D
O
N
O
R
122
E
R
R
O
R
123
POCKET
A
C
E
S
124
S
K
Y
P
E
125
D
E
E
P
POCKET
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1229 ( 23,427 )
Across
1
One at a woman's side? : POCKETBOOK
6
Fixes keys : TUNES
11
Person who might bump into you on a subway : PICKPOCKET
16
Starbucks size : VENTI
17
Model/actress Keibler : STACY
18
Brother of Prometheus : ATLAS
19
Choice : ELITE
20
Road runners : AUTOS
21
Animal with a flexible snout : COATI
22
Unduly : TOO
23
Spoken instruction in animal training : VERBALCUE
26
Best Musical of 1975, with "The" : WIZ
27
Completely dominates : OWNS
29
He said the most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible : TSELIOT
30
"Oh, hmm ..." : ISEE
31
Elevator ___ : CAR
33
New York Titans' org. : AFL
35
Bit of hopscotch equipment : SIDEWALKCHALK
42
Shady spot : BOWER
44
In a state of conflict : AFOUL
45
Bee product : QUILT
48
Iowa's ___ Colonies : AMANA
49
Name that's Hebrew for "pleasant" : NAOMI
50
"Something ought to finally go my way" : IMDUE
51
Philadelphia/New Jersey connector : WALTWHITMANBRIDGE
54
Half of sechs : DREI
55
"Il était ___ fois" (French fairy tale start) : UNE
56
Brand name that's an anagram of 31-Across : RCA
57
Rejections : NOES
58
Acted like a rat : SANG
60
"Howdy" : HIYA
62
Item on a chain : POCKETWATCH
65
Center of activity : HUB
68
Like some expenses : OUTOFPOCKET
72
Pop icon? : PEPSI
73
Wash against, as the shore : LAPAT
75
Like some duties : CIVIC
76
Finsteraarhorn, e.g. : ALP
77
It's often divided into sections 0, 2, 4, 6, etc. : DRESSRACK
80
Country where the Blue Nile originates: Abbr. : ETH
81
Part of the healing process : SCAB
83
___ distance : ATA
84
A balconette is a low-cut style of one : BRA
85
Mlle., in Madrid : SRTA
86
Like a Monday morning quarterback? : SORE
87
Symbols of dirtiness : PIGPENS
89
"___ the Air" (2009 Clooney movie) : UPIN
90
Part of FEMA: Abbr. : EMER
91
Rat : STOOLIE
92
"Shoot!" : DANG
93
Pass again on the track : RELAP
95
Big dos : BALLS
96
Fake : FORGE
97
Precept : TENET
99
Dangerous person to play against for money : SHARK
101
Old Olds : CIERA
103
No-goodnik : LOUSE
106
Sounds from Santa : HOS
107
Sincere : HEARTFELT
113
Ad Council output, briefly : PSA
115
First president with a Twitter account : OBAMA
117
Decoration under a dish : DOILY
118
2010 earthquake site : HAITI
120
Walk heavily : TRAMP
121
Universal ___ : DONOR
122
Blown out? : ERROR
123
Best hand in Texas hold 'em : POCKETACES
124
Talk face-to-face? : SKYPE
125
Having a ton of money to draw on : DEEPPOCKET
Down
1
Presidential power first used by James Madison : POCKETVETO
2
Not on deck, say : BELOW
3
Sometimes-caramelized item : ONION
4
First National Leaguer with eight consecutive 100-R.B.I. seasons : OTT
5
Chicken ___ : KIEV
6
Michael and Peter : TSARS
7
Lab item that sounds like a popular website : UTUBE
8
Birth-related : NATAL
9
Reason for a food recall : ECOLI
10
Big name in food service : SYSCO
11
Show anxiety, in a way : PACE
12
1989 world champion figure skater : ITO
13
Bear necessities? : CLAWS
14
Talk show starting in 2012 : KATIE
15
Miniature : POCKETSIZE
24
To be, to Béatrice : ETRE
25
Jazz quintet's home : UTAH
28
Half of the Nobel Prize winners, typically : SCIENTISTS
30
Secret society in Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" : ILLUMINATI
32
"Let's call it ___" : ADRAW
34
Muslim ascetic : FAQIR
35
Low, moist area : SWALE
36
On the way out : WANING
37
___ worse than death : AFATE
38
Hang (over) : LOOM
39
Harold's partner in comedies : KUMAR
40
Ice : CLINCH
41
Friendly term of address : KIDDO
42
Madam : BAWD
43
"The Wire" antihero : OMAR
46
Downhill sport : LUGE
47
Tight ends? : TEES
52
"Come again?" : HUNH
53
Scott of "Happy Days" : BAIO
59
You'll trip if you drop it : ACID
61
"Gross!" : YUCK
62
Well-protected, nonrunning quarterback : POCKETPASSER
63
Sign word often translated into multiple languages : WELCOME
64
Duds : APPAREL
65
Tries : HASAGOAT
66
Emotional peaks : UPS
67
Pressing needs? : BARBELLS
69
Unlike eagles : OVERPAR
70
Appropriate : FITTING
71
Silver, say : POCKETCHANGE
73
Next-to-last #1 Beatles hit : LETITBE
74
Sully : TARNISH
78
Spits rhymes : RAPS
79
Beer buy : CASE
82
Tongue-lash : BERATE
85
Subject of a 2009 national tournament cheating scandal : SUDOKU
88
"Meet the Press" guest, for short : POL
94
Possibly : PERHAPS
96
Formed rising bubbles : FROTHED
98
It's "not" in Scotland : NAE
100
Apiece, at Wimbledon : ALL
101
Army attack helicopter : COBRA
102
___ Pitman, developer of shorthand : ISAAC
104
Freedom Tower feature : SPIRE
105
Bar at the bar : ESTOP
106
Microwaveable snack item : HOTPOCKET
108
States further : ADDS
109
Corner piece : ROOK
110
Miniature : TINY
111
Dud : FLOP
112
Jane who becomes Mrs. Rochester : EYRE
114
Cause of a sudden drop in altitude : AIRPOCKET
116
Marie Curie, e.g.: Abbr. : MME
119
Word often shortened to one letter in text messages : ARE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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