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IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY

New York Times, Sunday, February 9, 2014

Author:
Charles M. Deber
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
384/4/19826/11/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
36000110
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.4631118
Charles M. Deber

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 74 Missing: {KQXZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Deber. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Charles M. Deber notes:
Listening to the Beatles' classic 'Sgt. Pepper' album a few months back, I heard them sing, 'It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play'. This led me in short order to ... read more

Listening to the Beatles' classic "Sgt. Pepper" album a few months back, I heard them sing, "It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play". This led me in short order to discover that the Beatles made their much-touted U.S. TV debut (spoiler alert!) on the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday, February 9, 1964. Once I noticed that February 9 is also a Sunday in 2014 — which would be 50 years later to the day — I was launched on the puzzle.

I realized that the theme would become apparent to solvers of all generations, and wanting to make the puzzle something special beyond including an ample supply of phrases and songs relating to the Beatles, I came up with the idea of incorporating the names of the Beatles into the shape of a guitar. This took a few iterations, as the combination of their four names required 47 letters to produce the shape (rendered in gray squares in the print puzzle), and a bit of organization to get the surrounding black squares properly placed. Since some musicians could speculate as to whether this shape resembles an instrument that all but Ringo might actually have played, I decided to include the word "guitar" at 102 Down. I very much appreciate how Will streamlined the fill in a couple of corners. Trust this puzzle is fun — and that solvers "can work it out" without too much "help".

Jeff Chen notes:
Ah, the Beatles. There have been several puzzles incorporating JOHN, PAUL, RINGO, and GEORGE, including a stealth one by Peter Collins, but none incorporating their full names quite like ... read more

Ah, the Beatles. There have been several puzzles incorporating JOHN, PAUL, RINGO, and GEORGE, including a stealth one by Peter Collins, but none incorporating their full names quite like this.

I found the most interesting question to ponder today: how the heck do we fix the answers up so the database is clean and accurate? Jim and I take great care to reverse entries, unbend them, do whatever it takes to make the entry make sense to the clue. This often requires judgment calls, and we try to just be as consistent as possible. We ended up splitting the theme answers into two, so that if solvers later want to find this puzzle, a search for *JOHN LENNON* (the asterisks being wild card operators) will turn up PAUL MCCARTNEY JOHN LENNON. Perhaps there are better ways to do it? (shaking fist at constructors who defiantly break the molds)

Neat change of pace; it's rare to see a long entry sweep around like this to form a single gigantic theme entry. The shape isn't bad, although it struck me as more of a banjo than a guitar. A few slight indentations in the body of the guitar might have helped, but could also have made the construction even harder than it already is.

This mirror-symmetry grid may not come across as tricky, but as soon as I saw it I knew there would have to be some compromises here and there. Just look at 9D and 11D separated by only one column, and they stretch almost the full length of the puzzle. And to top it off, they spread out, forcing a very tough section within the "body" of the guitar. Stuff like AAU and NEUER in the center is bound to happen with this many constraints. Not only that, but you have to spend so many of your black squares in the middle of the puzzle, that the outer regions are forced to be big white swaths, hard to fill. A real challenge.

Some compromises in execution today, but I find that it's always fun to remember the greatness that was the Beatles.

Jim Horne notes:

Grid numbers correspond to the Across Lite version of this grid. The printed puzzle was slightly different.

A related instrument complete with tuning pegs was cleverly revealed in this 2010 Diagramless by Michael Shteyman.

1
M
2
O
3
B
4
I
5
L
6
E
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S
8
A
9
P
10
A
11
R
12
T
13
S
14
T
15
R
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A
17
S
18
S
19
E
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O
N
E
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I
D
E
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B
A
S
I
E
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T
H
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T
H
E
R
23
S
T
A
T
I
S
T
24
B
U
E
N
A
25
R
E
D
E
E
M
S
26
T
O
T
O
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U
S
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U
A
L
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G
R
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I
E
F
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S
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I
T
32
L
O
33
L
L
O
P
34
M
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I
O
36
D
E
A
37
R
T
O
38
T
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S
E
40
U
L
N
A
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C
O
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I
T
B
E
43
V
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A
45
S
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Y
E
M
47
E
N
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48
A
C
U
T
49
E
50
F
I
51
N
E
S
T
52
R
E
A
L
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V
53
A
V
A
54
A
L
55
I
56
O
D
E
S
S
A
57
O
O
N
A
58
A
59
P
T
E
R
60
R
I
C
61
E
U
62
W
Y
E
S
63
N
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64
A
N
C
E
65
T
66
A
R
67
E
A
R
68
P
H
O
N
E
69
E
T
A
T
S
70
T
E
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E
N
A
G
72
E
R
S
73
R
O
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T
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74
I
W
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A
S
76
N
E
U
E
R
77
T
78
T
O
P
79
O
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I
81
L
C
A
R
O
J
Y
O
R
G
85
O
B
E
86
Y
87
E
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R
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A
M
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N
A
91
C
H
O
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A
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93
R
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E
C
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F
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V
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E
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M
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S
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A
T
H
O
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S
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E
M
102
S
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B
L
E
H
104
L
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M
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G
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Y
106
A
R
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L
E
D
A
108
A
C
R
E
109
U
T
E
P
110
S
T
P
111
O
112
V
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N
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N
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A
M
115
R
O
116
N
I
117
R
H
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O
119
H
O
O
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P
L
A
N
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O
N
N
O
123
S
I
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E
T
125
U
D
E
S
126
E
R
O
D
E
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127
M
O
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Y
128
S
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F
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129
A
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L
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N
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A
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131
T
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S
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0209 ( 23,469 )
Across
1
Cellphones, in Britain : MOBILES
8
Alone : APART
13
13-Down, in Dresden : STRASSE
20
A debater takes it : ONESIDE
21
Jazz count? : BASIE
22
In that direction : THITHER
23
One favoring a strong central government : STATIST
24
___ Vista : BUENA
25
Turns in : REDEEMS
26
Film terrier : TOTO
27
Bar order, with "the" : USUAL
29
Sadness : GRIEF
31
Narrow cut : SLIT
32
Move in an ungainly way : LOLLOP
34
Mine, in Madrid : MIO
36
Cherished by : DEARTO
38
Literary inits. : TSE
40
It's below the humerus : ULNA
41
Trig. function : COS
42
"Let ___" : ITBE
43
___ deferens : VAS
46
Dweller on the Red Sea : YEMENI
48
Less than right : ACUTE
50
Crème de la crème : FINEST
52
1996-2001 show featuring home videos : REALTV
53
Actress Gardner : AVA
54
The People's Champion : ALI
56
"The Battleship Potemkin" locale : ODESSA
57
An O'Neill : OONA
58
More appropriate : APTER
60
Houston sch. : RICEU
62
Followers of exes : WYES
63
Detour, e.g. : NUISANCE
65
Coal distillate : TAR
67
Announcer's aid : EARPHONE
69
Plural French word that spells its singular English form in reverse : ETATS
70
Much of the audience for 6-Down's show on 2/9/64 : TEENAGERS
73
Trounces : ROUTS
74
"When ___ younger, so much younger ..." ("Help!" lyric) : IWAS
76
More modern, in Munich : NEUER
77
Relative of a convertible : TTOP
79
Part of a train from a refinery : OILCAR
85
Servant, e.g. : OBEYER
89
"Why ___ so shy when ...?" ("It's Only Love" lyric) : AMI
90
Snack chip : NACHO
92
Nest on a cliff : AERIE
94
Author Umberto : ECO
95
Dave Clark ___ : FIVE
97
"___ the time ..." : MANYS
99
Playwright Fugard : ATHOL
100
General ___ chicken : TSOS
101
Attractive legs, in slang : STEMS
103
"Yuck!" : BLEH
104
Actor Hemsworth of "The Hunger Games" : LIAM
105
Bold : GUTSY
106
Stuck, after "in" : ARUT
107
Queen who fell for Zeus' swan song? : LEDA
108
It may be a plot : ACRE
109
Lone Star State sch. : UTEP
110
500 letters? : STP
111
Cause of the witch's demise in "Hansel and Gretel" : OVEN
113
'60s war zone : NAM
115
Rice-A-___ : RONI
117
Fraternity chapter : RHO
119
Big to-do : HOOPLA
124
They're played at un conservatoire : ETUDES
126
Undermines, as support : ERODES
127
Living in a swing state? : MOODY
128
Kind of jacket with pockets on the chest : SAFARI
129
Tilted : ASLANT
130
Oxford's St. ___ College : ANNES
131
City on the Seine upstream from Paris : TROYES
Down
1
A majority : MOST
2
Aware of : ONTO
3
Craze caused by this puzzle's subjects : BEATLEMANIA
4
Schoolyard rejoinder : ISTOO
5
Card count in Caesar's Palace? : LII
6
Host for this puzzle's subjects on 2/9/64 : EDSULLIVAN
7
Places atop : SETSON
8
Eban of Israel : ABBA
9
With 11-Down, subjects of this puzzle : PAULMCCARTNEYJOHNLENNON
10
Enzyme suffix : ASE
11
See 9-Down : RINGOSTARRGEORGEHARRISON
12
Rampage : TEAR
13
Way to go : STREET
14
Nickname for this puzzle's subjects : THEFABFOUR
15
Free : RID
16
Bikini blast, informally : ATEST
17
Song sung by this puzzle's subjects on 6-Down's show on 2/9/64 : SHELOVESYOU
18
Big rig : SEMI
19
Lead-in to while : ERST
28
___ creek : UPA
30
Dictator Amin : IDI
33
Broadway's ___-Fontanne Theater : LUNT
35
Promise of payment : IOU
37
Frist's successor as Senate majority leader : REID
38
One of the six counties of Northern Ireland : TYRONE
39
Escort to the door : SEEOUT
44
Yes : ASSENT
45
Balanced conditions : STASES
47
Band material : ELASTIC
48
Park, e.g., in N.Y.C. : AVE
49
Wallach of "The Misfits" : ELI
51
Subtitle for "Star Wars Episode IV," with "A" : NEWHOPE
53
Just so, after "to" : ATEE
55
Bakeshop worker : ICER
59
Free throw avgs., e.g. : PCTS
61
One team in the N.B.A. All-Star Game, with "the" : EAST
64
City on the Nile : ASWAN
66
Junior Olympics org. : AAU
68
Certain NASA launch : PROBE
71
Had a ball at : ENJOYED
72
Unpredictable : ERRATIC
75
Composer Khachaturian : ARAM
78
Slave : TOIL
79
Apes : OAFS
80
Apes : IMITATORS
81
Where this puzzle's subjects got their start : LIVERPOOL
86
Song sung by this puzzle's subjects on 6-Down's show on 9/12/65 : YESTERDAY
87
Earth's habitable parts : ECOSPHERE
88
Dawnlike : ROSY
91
Common monthly expense : CABLE
93
Ladies' man : ROMEO
96
Prey for a dingo : EMU
98
Molly formerly on "S.N.L." : SHANNON
99
Like some dessert orders : ALAMODE
100
King in 1922 news : TUT
102
Hot : STOLEN
105
Instrument depicted by the shaded squares in this grid : GUITAR
110
1965 and 1966 concert site for this puzzle's subjects : SHEA
112
Sweeping : VAST
114
Soon : ANON
116
Be domestic : NEST
118
Medical suffix : OSIS
120
Calendar keeper, for short : PDA
122
Medical suffix : OMA
123
The "S" of CBS: Abbr. : SYS
125
Sci-fi sighting : UFO

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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