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THIS N' THAT

New York Times, Sunday, February 1, 2015

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
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76691132242
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1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 66 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 35 for Mr. Steinberg. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
David Steinberg notes:
This puzzle idea came about when my mom, who was a Russian Literature major in college, suggested I construct a crossword with literary puns, such as WARREN PEACE. I thought WARREN PEACE ... read more

This puzzle idea came about when my mom, who was a Russian Literature major in college, suggested I construct a crossword with literary puns, such as WARREN PEACE. I thought WARREN PEACE was a great find but was concerned that a literary puns puzzle might be too loose; after thinking some more about WARREN PEACE, I realized there were probably numerous other ___ and ___ phrases that could produce similarly structured puns. Coming up with enough theme entries for a Sunday puzzle is always very difficult — I brainstormed and scanned through thousands of ___ and ___ possibilities before settling on this set.

The next challenge was designing a grid that could accommodate nine theme entries, fill cleanly, and not exceed the 140-word limit. After I spent a sizable amount of time placing and rearranging the black squares, my construction software informed me that the grid was impossible to fill. Egad!

Luckily, I soon discovered why the grid wouldn't fill: For some reason, OJAI wasn't in my main word list. With OJAI in place, I was able to produce a fill I was quite pleased with; unfortunately, I still had a daunting 140 clues to write! I'm glad the consecutive "Howard Stern rival"/"Howard Johnson rival" clues made the editorial cut, though my favorite clue by far is "Square meal?" for RAVIOLI, which Will/Joel used in place of my much less clever "Ristorante pillows."

I'm thrilled to have my first solo Sunday in the Times and plan to continue exploring the possibilities of larger grids! For now, though, I'd like to give a shout-out to all the family members and friends who inspire us crossword constructors, tell us whether entries are well-known or not, and test-solve/proofread our puzzles. I know I couldn't have come this far as a constructor without being surrounded by such a supportive group of people!

Jeff Chen notes:
Drag and drop -> DRAGON DROP, four and twenty -> FOREIGN TWENTY, hair and makeup -> HERON MAKEUP. Fun sound changes, excellent consistency in how David executed each one. ... read more

Drag and drop -> DRAGON DROP, four and twenty -> FOREIGN TWENTY, hair and makeup -> HERON MAKEUP. Fun sound changes, excellent consistency in how David executed each one.

Teenage Mutant Zombie Turtle!

Impressive theme density to go with very clean fill. Seven themers on a Sunday are tough enough, but David goes the extra mile, using nine of them. And he tosses in such colorful long fill as MEAT PIES, CAROL ALT, and ARMOR CLAD. Very difficult to do this without resorting to a bunch of gluey short fill, so kudos to David.

For those of you (us) who didn't know DRY BONES, here's a pic. As a huge Mario Bros. fan (the old-school versions, of course) I enjoyed learning that this character actually had a name. Tough to figure out the HBS (halfbacks) crossing, but it seems reasonable given the "skeletal" part of the clue.

A few explanations for clues I didn't understand at first:

  • [Mystery prize] isn't a mystery box prize a la "Let's Make a Deal," but the Edgar Award for mystery writing.
  • ELIS gets a very difficult clue, skipping [Manning and Whitney] to go with a region of ancient Greece.
  • CERES is a dwarf planet, and it gets a great, timely clue. Super curious to see what the Dawn probe transmits back.
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0201 ( 23,826 )
Across
1
Filling entrees? : MEATPIES
9
Imperfect : FLAWED
15
Laugh track content : HAHAS
20
Former Diet Pepsi spokesmodel : CAROLALT
21
Nymph jilted by Paris : OENONE
22
"The Vampire Diaries" protagonist : ELENA
23
Content of a demand to attend? : SUMMONSUBSTANCE
25
Cry of frustration : AARGH
26
___ flakes : OAT
27
Hullabaloo : FUSS
28
Square meal? : RAVIOLI
30
Gas station adjunct : MART
32
Freaky funeral noise? : COFFINWHEEZE
37
Tornado Alley state: Abbr. : NEB
38
Smirnoff Ice, e.g. : ALCOPOP
40
Red-faced : FLORID
41
View from Big Ben : THAMES
43
Patriots' and Seahawks' org. : NFL
44
"Castaway" director, 1986 : ROEG
46
Points of view : TAKES
48
W.W. II rationing agcy. : OPA
49
Dive from a fire-breathing creature? : DRAGONDROP
53
Al Qaeda stronghold : YEMEN
55
Vegetable that's often fried : OKRA
58
Place first, second or third, say : MEDAL
59
Man of letters? : SAJAK
61
"The Bridge on the River Kwai" director : DAVIDLEAN
63
Certain embedded Internet video : GIF
65
___ lupus (gray wolf) : CANIS
67
Not there yet : ENROUTE
68
Company that introduced Saran Wrap : DOW
71
Venti, vingt or zwanzig? : FOREIGNTWENTY
75
Missal storage site : PEW
76
Coffee bean variety : ARABICA
78
Went on a run? : SKIED
79
43-Across ball carriers: Abbr. : HBS
81
Lake ___, biggest lake in South America : MARACAIBO
84
Holdups : SNAGS
86
Perfumery measure : OUNCE
90
Workers' rights org. : NLRB
91
Wool source : LLAMA
93
Woe for a sunburned sea monster? : KRAKENPEEL
95
Northern California's ___ River : EEL
97
Burn : SCALD
99
Make hot : RILE
100
___-Magnon : CRO
101
Uses mouthwash, e.g. : RINSES
104
Like a dutiful sentry : ONPOST
107
Faux pas : MISSTEP
109
Symbol on a sarcophagus : ASP
110
Intel products used at a nuclear facility? : FISSIONCHIPS
113
Hit with a charge : TASE
114
Seiji Ozawa, e.g. : MAESTRO
116
"Argo" setting : IRAN
117
Roman guardian spirit : LAR
118
Diminish in strength : ABATE
119
Overseeing a work crew, e.g.? : FOREMANFUNCTION
127
Cause of radioactivity : DECAY
128
Beggar's receptacle : TINCUP
129
Attorney's presentation : EVIDENCE
130
Coeur d'___ : ALENE
131
Part of a contract : CLAUSE
132
Mess : RATSNEST
Down
1
Game show V.I.P.'s : MCS
2
Three-vowel word that sounds like a fourth vowel : EAU
3
Like some knights and warships : ARMORCLAD
4
Kind of paste : TOMATO
5
What a spoiler might spoil : PLOT
6
Golfer Woosnam : IAN
7
Chi-town circlers : ELS
8
Possessions : STUFF
9
Old fogy : FOSSIL
10
"We'd better skip it" : LETSNOT
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Santa ___ winds : ANA
12
Got the gold : WON
13
Envelope abbr. : ENC
14
Handle of a plow? : DEERE
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Unceremonious removal : HEAVEHO
16
Half a game name that rhymes : ALAI
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Feathers, pointy bill, long legs, etc.? : HERONMAKEUP
18
"Life of Pi" director : ANGLEE
19
Old colonial masters : SAHIBS
24
Aficionado : BUFF
29
AIDS-fighting drug : AZT
30
One with a colorful coat? : MANDM
31
Woodard of "Primal Fear" : ALFRE
32
Garbage collector, informally? : COON
33
Slanted columns : OPEDS
34
Fay of "King Kong" : WRAY
35
Upped : HIKED
36
Plant swelling : EDEMA
39
Like Isaac Asimov : PROLIFIC
42
Speed skater Ohno : APOLO
45
Words of thanksgiving : GRACE
47
Common craps roll : SEVEN
50
Dribble glass, e.g. : GAG
51
California resort town : OJAI
52
Feelings of guilt : PANGS
54
What I will always be, alphabetically : NINTH
56
Parking lot figure : RATE
57
From square one : ANEW
60
Problems with hoses : KINKS
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Skeletal enemy in Mario games : DRYBONES
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___ point : FOCAL
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Perform terribly : STINK
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"Lookin' good!" : DAMN
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Kind of contraception : ORAL
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Period when rabbits stop fighting? : WARRENPEACE
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Harangues, with "at" : RAILS
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Sport : WEAR
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Mystery prize : EDGAR
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Naïfs : BABES
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Slangy greeting : SUP
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Salad bar morsels : BACOS
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Like the world's largest sultanate : OMANI
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Economize to a fault : SKIMP
87
Juicy fruit : NECTARINE
88
Destination of NASA's Dawn probe : CERES
89
What Othello and Desdemona do in "Othello" : ELOPE
92
Prime Cuts brand : ALPO
94
Site of ancient Greek Olympics : ELIS
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What the jack of spades lacks : LEFTEYE
98
Howard Stern rival : DONIMUS
101
Howard Johnson rival : RAMADA
102
Chilean author Allende : ISABEL
103
"My dear man" : SIR
105
Difficult situation : SCRAPE
106
Greater or lesser follower : THAN
108
New York's ___ Island : STATEN
111
Circular opening? : SOFTC
112
Gather (from) : INFER
115
"South Park" boy : STAN
117
Some PC screens : LCDS
120
Many an art museum piece : OIL
121
Cellular messenger : RNA
122
Bit of old French bread : ECU
123
Charlottesville inst. : UVA
124
Picayune quibble : NIT
125
Brass producer, briefly : OCS
126
Catchy thing? : NET

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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