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THIS N' THAT

New York Times, Sunday, February 1, 2015

Author: David Steinberg
Editor: Will Shortz
David Steinberg
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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 was a great find but ... more
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 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. Impressive theme density ... more
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.

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 Down
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
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
11. Santa ___ winds : ANA
12. Got the gold : WON
13. Envelope abbr. : ENC
14. Handle of a plow? : DEERE
15. Unceremonious removal : HEAVEHO
16. Half a game name that rhymes : ALAI
17. 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
62. Skeletal enemy in Mario games : DRYBONES
64. ___ point : FOCAL
66. Perform terribly : STINK
68. "Lookin' good!" : DAMN
69. Kind of contraception : ORAL
70. Period when rabbits stop fighting? : WARRENPEACE
72. Harangues, with "at" : RAILS
73. Sport : WEAR
74. Mystery prize : EDGAR
77. Naïfs : BABES
80. Slangy greeting : SUP
82. Salad bar morsels : BACOS
83. Like the world's largest sultanate : OMANI
85. 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
96. 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: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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