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# New York Times, Tuesday, December 30, 2014

 Author: Jeffrey Wechsler Editor: Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
177/17/19696/20/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0144710
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.571101

## This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 79, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQVXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. Wechsler. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeffrey Wechsler notes: For some reason the phrase 'LOOP DE LOOP' came to mind, and I thought it might become a valid puzzle theme by means of setting the ... more
Jeffrey Wechsler notes: For some reason the phrase "LOOP DE LOOP" came to mind, and I thought it might become a valid puzzle theme by means of setting the letters of LOOP within an actual loop of some sort. But a few random LOOPs by themselves didn't seem adequate. Then LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP occurred to me. By extending the concept into a repeated loop, things became interesting.

I realized that I needed to double the action — to create two "simultaneous" types of looping motion. Thus, the four-square units containing LOOP go around in a large circle within the grid. Then, as one follows the units around clockwise, the letters in LOOP are also "internally" shifted clockwise from unit to unit, so that L-O-O-P itself loops progressively, and does so twice in a circuit of the eight units. If you imagine this as an actual stunt by an aerobatic ace, the flyer is executing two full tight loops as he continues along the path of a large loop. Is this even possible in reality? I don't know — but it looks good on paper!

The puzzle had to be 16 squares wide to accommodate LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP, and the letter positions of L-O-O-P were almost entirely controlled by the circular arrangement, the symmetry of the units, and the letter combinations that arose as L-O-O-P was shifted. Thus, unsurprisingly, and despite a revision from my first grid, there are various entries that I would otherwise strive even more determinedly to remove. Among them are the crosswordese fellow Mobotu SESE Seko, plural ALOES, and of course HERAT (aargh!). But given the intransigence of the fixed letters, I think things resolved reasonably well, and I presume Will was lenient given the evident constraints.

Jeff Chen notes: As soon as I uncovered the first set of L O O P circles, I raced to the center to fill in LOOPS THE LOOPS. Well, that didn't fit. LOOPING THE ... more
Jeff Chen notes: As soon as I uncovered the first set of L O O P circles, I raced to the center to fill in LOOPS THE LOOPS. Well, that didn't fit. LOOPING THE LOOP? LOOPY LOOPY LOOP?

So much for my utter genius.

I liked the aesthetics, L O O P circling in eight locations, and those eight locations circling as a whole. Nice consistency too; L O O P always going clockwise, and the starting position shifting over one spot in each set of new circles. Elegant.

These types of puzzles can be tricky, because so much care must be taken to fill cleanly around those quartets of circles. I like how Jeffrey worked many long entries through the circles: POOL PUMP, CANOODLE, LAB ROOMS, DIET PLAN. They're not all superstar quality, but they're all nice.

Impressive that the short fill was relatively clean, given the high level of constraints. Really only the north and south sections stuck out, what with the CPL / ILO and REN / TEN OF combinations. Often, these little spaces utilizing three-letter words are harder than ones using four-letter words. Surprising, yeah? You'd think a smaller section would always be easier to fill. But there's a larger inventory of "good" four-letter words than three-letter words (by a factor of 2-3x). I try to stay away from these little squirrely areas chock full of 3s.

Given that the NE and SW are daunting chunks of open white (HERAT and AREOLE, I see you), it might have been useful to equalize space a bit. Expanding the south area at the expense of the SW could have made filling easier in both regions.

I'm not familiar with aerobatics, so I wasn't sure if the visual was "accurate." My mind sees something like the pic to the right, with a lead-up, a loop, and a pull-out to horizontal. I liked Jeffrey's imaginative description of a stunt pilot doing an insane looping-within-looping maneuver, but I'm not sure if LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP really describes that. The puzzle's visual is more like a "4-D" roller coaster to me.

In the end, I was able put that aside and have a fun solving experience.

 1P 2O 3M 4P 5S 6A 7G 8S 9C 10R 11A 12P 13S 14A D I O 15S 16C P L 17L A U R I E 18R I C O H 19R O O 20I N M I N D 21C E E L O 22I L O 23T O P E K A 24P O 25M P O M 26S 27O L S O N 28A 29C 30C U S E 31E 32R D E 33L O O M 34T 35A 36R 37H E E L 38S 39C 40I 41L O O P 42D E L O O P D E 43L O O P 44A L P 45I R O N I S T 46A L P O 47S E S E 48O 49R B I T S 50C 51H 52A N T 53S 54H 55O 56T P A R 57R E C O P 58Y 59A C E 60L O 61S 62E 63S 64A R E O L E 65R E N 66P O N T I 67B A L K A N 68P L O 69H M O N G 70S T A I N S 71O O F 72S W A N
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1230 ( 23,793 )
 Across Down 1. Feature of a royal event : POMP5. What bulldogs' jowls do : SAG8. Food for Fido, perhaps : SCRAPS14. "Hasta luego!" : ADIOS16. Houlihan : Maj. :: Klinger : ___ : CPL17. "House" star Hugh : LAURIE18. Xerox competitor : RICOH19. Friend of Pooh : ROO20. Not forgotten : INMIND21. Green who was on four seasons of "The Voice" : CEELO22. U.N. grp. monitoring workers' rights : ILO23. Brown v. Board of Education city : TOPEKA24. Cheerleaders' handfuls : POMPOMS27. Announcer Johnny famous for crying "Come on down!" : OLSON28. Point the finger at : ACCUSE31. Our planet, to Germans : ERDE33. Be impending : LOOM34. North Carolinian : TARHEEL38. Chem., e.g. : SCI41. Maneuver for slot car racers or stunt pilots, as suggested by this puzzle's circled letters : LOOPDELOOPDELOOP44. Yodeler's locale : ALP45. Jonathan Swift, notably : IRONIST46. Food for Fido : ALPO47. Zairean president Mobutu ___ Seko : SESE48. Goes around : ORBITS50. Sound in a lamasery : CHANT53. Had a good day on the links, say : SHOTPAR57. Transcribe again : RECOPY59. Expert : ACE60. Shakes, as in a car chase : LOSES64. Iris ring : AREOLE65. Toon chihuahua : REN66. Film producer Carlo : PONTI67. Like Greece or Serbia : BALKAN68. Oslo Accords grp. : PLO69. Ethnic group of Southeast Asia : HMONG70. Dry cleaning targets : STAINS71. Punch-in-the-stomach sound : OOF72. Bird in a Hans Christian Andersen tale : SWAN 1. Setting for Seurat's "La Grande Jatte" : PARC2. Toon beagle : ODIE3. Victims of the farmer's wife : MICE4. Certain water circulator : POOLPUMP5. Gift vouchers, arcade tickets and such : SCRIP6. Olympic gold medalist Ohno : APOLO7. Atmosphere of many a Poe story : GLOOM8. Sexy skirt feature : SLIT9. Kiss and cuddle : CANOODLE10. Dishevel, as bed linen : RUMPLE11. Zodiac opener : ARIES12. Socialist, disparagingly : PINKO13. Alternative to an S.U.V. : SEDAN15. Waves away : SHOOS25. Olympic lengths : METERS26. Permeates, with "through" : SEEPS28. Penne ___ vodka : ALLA29. Composure : COOL30. Farm enclosure ... or a farmers' group : COOP32. Common grass variety named for its color : REDTOP35. Lily family plants : ALOES36. A Reagan : RON37. ___ polloi : HOI38. Arias, usually : SOLI39. Egyptian Christian : COPT40. Wall St. debuts : IPOS42. Schedule for take-off? : DIETPLAN43. Parts of chemistry buildings : LABROOMS47. "Jersey Shore" housemate : SNOOKI49. "The Honeymooners" husband : RALPH50. Chesapeake Bay feast : CRABS51. Western Afghan city : HERAT52. Amtrak option : ACELA54. ___ Productions (Oprah Winfrey company) : HARPO55. Big name in kitchen sponges : OCELO56. :50 : TENOF58. Itches : YENS61. The white of a whiteout : SNOW62. European smoker : ETNA63. 11-Down, for one : SIGN

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?