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DO THE SPLITS

New York Times, Sunday, February 12, 2017

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8912/9/19799/30/20192
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663142130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610912
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 66 Missing: {Q} This is puzzle # 77 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes:
The idea for this puzzle languished for years. I could never decide if it was good, or uninspired. Then, if I looked at it for the umpteenth time, I couldn't decide which ideas were the ... read more

The idea for this puzzle languished for years. I could never decide if it was good, or uninspired. Then, if I looked at it for the umpteenth time, I couldn't decide which ideas were the best to use. I might like one choice for a symmetrical pair, but be lukewarm about the other one.

Finally, this fall, I emailed a friend here who I know does Sunday NYT puzzles, and asked her what she thought. She started bugging me to do this. And here you have the result.

I was amazed how fast it went from submission to publication. I mailed this in early December and it was accepted in mid-January.

Probably the genesis of this puzzle was somehow reading "Colorado" as "color ado." That would make PUEBLO COLORADO into something like [Big fuss over how to paint the Indian village]. I still like that, but was afraid it wouldn't pass muster since "Colorado" actually comes from the Spanish word for "color", and thus the meanings wouldn't change.

I would have preferred more answers that divided the words in unusual ways, like MARSHALL PLAN, which I liked [Spec for an interplanetary campus building?] or MADEIRA WINE, which in the end seemed kind of blah [Aged a glassful for Mr. Glass?]. A few others that got left out were RAMBLING ROSE [The price went up on some flashy NFL jewelry?], TAKE A PLACEBO ["Park yourself somewhere," to a onetime White House pet?] (I wasn't sure whether that qualified as an "in the language" phrase), and GOLF CADDIES [Headline for the obit of a country club scoundrel?]. If the current grid hadn't worked out well enough, I would have gone back and tried other options.

As for clues, mine remained intact for the most part. I think that Will's changes, overall, tended to make things a bit easier; for example, the clues for MALE and ORANGES—both sort of gimmes--were his. And I would never have come up with that clue for MOTH—totally not in my wheelhouse. All the theme clues were basically the ones I wrote except for UNFUNDED MANDATES. I think I'm reading Will's revised clue a bit differently than he intends, because it seems somewhat off to me. (Mine had been "Watching TV on Saturday nights with a cash-strapped beau?")

Oh, and one last thing for all of you who wonder about clue-grid duplications. Looking at the preview copy, I happened to notice that Will changed the ELMO clue to read "Kids' TV character …" when KIDDIE LIT was fairly nearby in the grid. His response:

"I think bloggers accord way too much importance to this sort of thing, which average solvers don't give a hoot about. My rule is: No answer word in its entirety can be part of a clue, and no clue in its entirety can be part of an answer. But in most cases, partial to partial duplication, as in this puzzle, doesn't matter."

Anyway, I hope you had fun with this. That's the whole point.

Jeff Chen notes:
DO THE SPLITS, apt title for introducing spaces into regular phrases for kooky results. I enjoyed GO OFF ON A TAN GENT, and BRA IN WAVES evoked a funny image. Humor is so ... read more

DO THE SPLITS, apt title for introducing spaces into regular phrases for kooky results. I enjoyed GO OFF ON A TAN GENT, and BRA IN WAVES evoked a funny image.

Humor is so subjective. I found some of the resulting phrases stilted, especially POE, TRY READING. Not only grammatically does it feel odd, but I imagine Poe wouldn't have needed much prompting to read. And FAT AL ATTRACTION … something there makes me cringe. Not sure what.

UNFUNDED MANDATE as a base phrase. I vaguely recognized it as a thing, but even after researching it, it still doesn't sing to me.

Some nice long bonus fill, RAW RECRUIT matching well with a TROOPSHIP, and … GOOSESTEP. That last one is a regular term for a common military practice (especially outside America), but boy, does it have uncomfortable connotations. Perhaps recently reading about the siege of Leningrad colored my thinking.

Lynn is so good with her short fill — she usually focuses on Monday puzzles, giving us some of the smoothest Monday offerings around — and today is no different. Although it's a tough task to build a 21x 140-word puzzle — I'd estimate it to be about five times harder than a Monday, since there are necessarily much bigger swaths of white space to fill — this is such a smooth offering.

I did hitch at DAVA, but 1.) all the crossings were fair, 2.) Pulitzer Prize nominee, and 3.) if that's one of the few quasi-gluey bits you end up with, that's a win.

Although most of the themers didn't resonate with me, a few great clues helped to elevate my solve:

  • [Gives an order] made no sense for RANKS until I realized that it wasn't a sergeant giving an order, but a spreadsheet jockey.
  • LADLE delivering a punch sounded like it should be "delivering punch" or "a cup of punch," but I still liked the clever wordplay, nonetheless.
  • ATOMS are indeed at the "heart of the matter" — all matter, to be precise!
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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0212 ( 24,568 )
Across
1
Topic for Dr. Ruth : LIBIDO
7
Reimbursed expense for a commuter, maybe : MILEAGE
14
As yet : SOFAR
19
Sound system? : PHONICS
21
Major export of Florida : ORANGES
22
Blue hue : AZURE
23
Berate some guy for getting too much sun? : GOOFFONATANGENT
25
Like most "Quo Vadis" characters : ROMAN
26
Altar spot : APSE
27
"A bit of talcum / Is always walcum" writer : NASH
28
Banquet : DINE
29
For whom Nancy was first lady : RONALD
30
Gives an order : RANKS
32
Remain undecided : PEND
33
Fabric from flax : LINEN
34
Bearded animal : GNU
37
Suggestion to a bored short story writer? : POETRYREADING
40
Book reviewer?: Abbr. : CPA
43
Having less heft : LANKER
45
Swinging Ernie : ELS
46
35-nation alliance, briefly : OAS
47
Drive-___ : THRU
48
Fasten : AFFIX
49
Kids' TV character who refers to himself in the third person : ELMO
51
Greenhorn on the force : RAWRECRUIT
54
Horse for hire : STUD
55
Result of a serious wardrobe malfunction at the beach? : BRAINWAVES
57
Hit one out : HOMER
58
Clean with a pressurized spray : SANDBLAST
60
First name in daredevilry : EVEL
61
Turbid : CLOUDY
62
Weighty matters? : DIETS
63
He can be seen at the western end of the National Mall, informally : ABE
64
Pens for hens : COOPS
65
Toast word : CHEERS
67
M, on a form : MALE
69
March movement : GOOSESTEP
73
It may deliver a punch : LADLE
74
Scientist's dilemma regarding work vs. play? : LABORPARTY
76
"My only love sprung from my only ___!": Juliet : HATE
77
Entry : ADMITTANCE
79
Wild revelry : ORGY
80
Archives material : FICHE
81
Gist : MEAT
82
Sight at Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park : APE
83
Gist : NUB
84
It's a drain : SIPHON
85
Entry on an I.R.S. form: Abbr. : SSN
86
Dismaying announcement about disaster aid? : JUSTICEFORALL
91
What's right in front of the tee? : ESS
92
Photographer Arbus : DIANE
94
Old gang weapons : GATS
95
Heart of the matter? : ATOMS
97
Bit of cushioning : PEANUT
99
Arrears : DEBT
100
Glitch : SNAG
101
"Waterloo" band : ABBA
105
Corroded : EATEN
106
Roker's appeal before gastric bypass surgery? : FATALATTRACTION
109
Turn aside : AVERT
110
Bad look : EVILEYE
111
Five-alarmer : INFERNO
112
Irritable : TESTY
113
Spreadsheet contents : DATASET
114
Dripping : SODDEN
Down
1
Tour grp. since 1950 : LPGA
2
Breakfast chain : IHOP
3
Disapproving sounds : BOOS
4
Gather : INFER
5
"What's the ___?" : DIF
6
Alito's Supreme Court predecessor : OCONNOR
7
Creature on the movie poster for "The Silence of the Lambs" : MOTH
8
With 34-Down, longtime public radio host : IRA
9
Some space vehicles : LANDERS
10
It must turn over to start : ENGINE
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Docket : AGENDA
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With 42-Down, "Frosty the Snowman" singer : GENE
13
Super suffix? : EST
14
Pacific island wrap : SARONG
15
Worry of stratospheric proportions : OZONE
16
"That villain in comics has sure gotta be sore!"? : FUMANCHUMUSTACHE
17
Desiccated ___ Sea : ARAL
18
Tear apart : REND
20
Plunger alternative : SNAKE
24
Deputy: Abbr. : ASST
29
Dentist's directive : RINSE
31
Tip : APEX
32
Traffic cone : PYLON
33
Those who need sound memories, per Montaigne : LIARS
34
See 8-Down : GLASS
35
W. Hemisphere treaty of 1994 : NAFTA
36
What a cash-strapped beau might take you on? : UNFUNDEDMANDATES
38
Pay : REMIT
39
Certain rod : DOWEL
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Was a busybody : PRIED
42
See 12-Down : AUTRY
44
Beatrix Potter's genre : KIDDIELIT
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Conveyance for soldiers : TROOPSHIP
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Timeline sections : ERAS
50
___ Palmas (Spanish province) : LAS
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Talk wildly : RAVE
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Way to go: Abbr. : AVE
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Pricey French fashion label : CHLOE
55
Club cousins : BLTS
56
Utah's ___ State University : WEBER
59
Cap similar to a tam-o'-shanter : BERET
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London tea accessory : COSY
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Fleshy-leaved succulent : ALOE
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1950s French president René : COTY
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Steamed seafood dish : CLAMS
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Abductor of Persephone : HADES
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Exhibitor at 1863's Salon des Refusés : MANET
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Something easy, so they say : ABC
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"Grand Hotel" star, 1932 : GARBO
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A.A. or AAA : ORG
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Group's basic beliefs : ETHOS
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Tool parts used for bending things : PEENS
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Run out : LAPSE
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High hairdos : POUFS
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Jeer : TAUNT
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Take some shots : FILM
83
Annoys : NETTLES
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Ad agency output : SLOGANS
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Devil-may-care : JAUNTY
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"Aha!" : IGETIT
88
Mystical doctrine : CABALA
89
Talk wildly : RANT
90
Gaming trailblazer : ATARI
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Sluggish : INERT
96
Having no room for more : SATED
97
Fuel from a fen : PEAT
98
Building's rain diverter : EAVE
99
Sobel who wrote the Pulitzer-nominated "Galileo's Daughter" : DAVA
100
Editor's override : STET
102
One with a lot of tweets : BIRD
103
Treat for a dog : BONE
104
Presently : ANON
106
Supplied : FED
107
Parliamentary support : AYE
108
Corp. bigwig : CFO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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