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MAKING CONNECTIONS

New York Times, Sunday, March 15, 2015

Author: Dan Feyer
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Feyer
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
410/4/20113/15/20151
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2020000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64010

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 66 Missing: {Z} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Feyer. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Feyer notes: This crossword was designed to annoy Jeff Chen. He often talks about how it's a good idea to space out your theme answers for maximum flexibility. So what did I end up with? Every theme answer is adjacent to, or ... more
Dan Feyer notes:

This crossword was designed to annoy Jeff Chen. He often talks about how it's a good idea to space out your theme answers for maximum flexibility. So what did I end up with? Every theme answer is adjacent to, or overlapping, another one.

My previous Sunday puzzle also had an overlapping stack at the center, so I wanted to see if that could work again. After I had the first two, last two, and middle three theme answers in place, I tried many, many different layouts to find the best spots for the last two pairs of themers. This one was the winner once I lucked into the southwest corner with fresh entries SLUSHIE, HYPHEN, PUSHBACK, and CHESNEY. (And ACTINIC, but I'm less proud of that one.)

The northeast corner was by far the hardest to fill, but because I was so enamored with that southwest, and I had tried so many grid configurations already, I didn't want to move or add blocks. (If you regularly read XWordInfo commentary, you know that moving blocks around is the right thing to do.) Anyway, I was locked into BRUNEI, GOTSORE, and EYEEXAM up there. The seven-letter slot at 43-Across was the biggest problem, because the ideal fill would be a phrase starting with GET (GET TO IT! GET ON IT! GET IT ON! GET IT UP! GET LAID! GET BENT! OK, now we're getting out of NYT territory). But I wouldn't let myself cross GOT with GET, so the current boring northeast is the best I could do.

I had a similar issue with 71-Down, where OPENLY would quite improve that little section (eliminating the need for TENNER/RASE, for instance) but dupes with INCAN OPENER. I don't think that kind of duplication is necessarily a dealbreaker for Will Shortz, who tends to be lenient about such things, but it's inelegant and I'd rather avoid it.

Overall I thought the freshness of some of the long fill, and the amount/amusement of the themers, would outweigh all the glue in the grid. As a solver, I like to see more new/unusual fill even at the cost of more junk. As a constructor... I'm a really good solver.

Jeff Chen notes: Did you ever watch MAN VS. BEAST? Ultimately it disappointed, but the promise of bizarre matchups like a man trying to outrace a giraffe / a speed-eater racing a Kodiak bear was too good to pass up. So today we at ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Did you ever watch MAN VS. BEAST? Ultimately it disappointed, but the promise of bizarre matchups like a man trying to outrace a giraffe / a speed-eater racing a Kodiak bear was too good to pass up. So today we at XWord Info bring you …

MAN-MACHINE vs. MACHINE-MAN!

In the blue corner is a computer with heart — you better believe it's smart — trained by a programmer with a whole lotta glamor. Its processor is so fast it once got citations for doing way too many calculations; its ability so fine it'll drive you out of your mind. I give you … DR. FILL!

In the red corner, we have the five-time ACPT champion. Half-man, half-amazing, and half-blazing (yes, he runs at 150%, folks); he towers like Big Ben (and of course, writes in pen). The bookies have had to make up NEW NUMBERS in order to take bets on him this year! Personally, I like the eleventy-pi to negative j odds that our champion will show up the good doctor, especially given that HE'S DOING HIS OWN PUZZLE AS FAST AS HE CAN.

Okay, let's set some ground rules. I'll count any error as a 15 second penalty. Other than that, THERE ARE NO RULES. (Except the ones I'll make up as we go.) I want to see a good dirty fight. Solvers ready? FIGHT!

Dr. Fill comes out with a quick flurry of bytes, his jabs and crosses landing hard. Folks, it looks like the champ is taking a beating! Feyer's on the ropes, taking ONERs to the solar plexus. He's looking POTTED!

But wait! Feyer comes back with a flurry of his own, finishing the puzzle out in 2:48, leaving the good doctor reeling in confusion. The doctor is staggering! Toppling! And the doctor is down! Let's count it out … 16 wrong squares. I declare the winner… the MACHINE-MAN! Er, the MAN-MACHINE!

Straightforward but fun "add two letters" puzzle today. INFANCY PANTS made me giggle. Impressive theme density, and going down to 138 words makes the task even harder. There's some strain with a few partials and gluey bits, but it's neat to see Dan flex his constructing muscles.

(Special thanks to Matt Ginsberg for indulging my bizarre whims. Now, to pit Dr. Fill against a honey badger ...)

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0315 ( 23,868 )
Across Down
1. Opportunity : PROSPECT
9. So-called Baghdad by the Bay : FRISCO
15. "___ at the office" : IGAVE
20. Mayor's title : HISHONOR
21. Mr. Darcy's creator : AUSTEN
22. Circle : ORBIT
23. "You can never moor a boat here"? : INLETLIE
24. Provide sufficient coverage from risk? : INSUREENOUGH
26. Fashion portmanteau : SKORT
27. Gets close to : NEARS
29. "Have some!" : TRYIT
30. Feature of Hawaii's Molokini Crater : REEF
32. Some miracle drug pushers : QUACKS
35. Bothers : EATSAT
39. Atheistic Cuban leader? : INFIDELCASTRO
43. Like Columbus : GENOESE
44. Low : MOO
45. Legendary weeper : NIOBE
46. Desk chairs? : INBOXSEATS
48. Most common key of Chopin's piano pieces : AFLAT
51. Tour grp. : PGA
52. Side in the Peloponnesian War : SPARTA
53. Hit hard : SWAT
54. Unsalvageable : RUINED
56. Valentine and others: Abbr. : STS
57. Pvt. Pyle's outfit : USMC
59. Get on : AGE
60. Quechuan "hello"? : INCANOPENER
64. ___-Caps : SNO
65. Moved a shell : OARED
67. Removing a Band-Aid too early? : INJURYTAMPERING
70. 2:1, e.g., in the Bible : VERSE
73. On : LIT
74. Covering first, second and third base? : INFIELDGOAL
78. "Hello, Hadrian!" : AVE
79. Tear down, in Tottenham : RASE
81. A year in Brazil : ANO
82. Aristocratic : LORDLY
83. Certain tide : NEAP
85. Green deli stock : CAPERS
87. With 115-Down, 1983 Lionel Richie hit : YOU
90. Subjects of some modern school bans : SODAS
91. Add to the Video Clip Hall of Fame? : INDUCTTAPE
93. Is forbidden to, quaintly : MAYNT
95. Genre for Panic! at the Disco : EMO
96. Drink that might cause brain freeze : SLUSHIE
97. Diet? : INTAKECONTROL
101. Jack-in-the-box part : HYPHEN
102. "Lucy" star, in tabloids : SCARJO
103. Bygone Chevrolet : AVEO
104. Madonna's "Into the Groove," originally : BSIDE
106. "Do ___!" : IEVER
108. Cameron who directed "Jerry Maguire" : CROWE
112. Diapers? : INFANCYPANTS
117. Popular website whose name is a hint to this puzzle's theme : LINKEDIN
119. Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors," e.g. : FARCE
120. How to make money "the old-fashioned way" : EARNIT
121. Disrespectful, in a way : SNEERING
122. ___ Mountains : SMOKY
123. Heavy-lidded : SLEEPY
124. Visitor to a fertility clinic : EGGDONOR
1. Sorority letters : PHIS
2. Place for curlers : RINK
3. Home for King Harald : OSLO
4. Shepherd formerly of "The View" : SHERRI
5. Stinko : POTTED
6. Big picture: Abbr. : ENL
7. 50-50 chance : COINFLIP
8. It can be sappy : TREE
9. Parodist's principle : FAIRUSE
10. Charges : RUNSAT
11. There's one every year for Person of the Year: Abbr. : ISS
12. Political analyst Rothenberg : STU
13. Roll by a cashier : CERTS
14. Long, unbroken take, in film lingo : ONER
15. Certain ancient Greeks : IONIANS
16. Small caves : GROTTOES
17. ___ Dhabi : ABU
18. Bookie's charge : VIG
19. Ordinal ending : ETH
25. Something you might get two 20s for? : EYEEXAM
28. Mideast's Gulf of ___ : AQABA
31. Morn's counterpart : EEN
33. Bloods' rivals : CRIPS
34. Coastal region of Hawaii : KONA
36. What the Spanish Armada fought : SEAWAR
37. Shakespeare's world? : ASTAGE
38. Proven : TESTED
39. Japanese porcelain : IMARI
40. A drag : NOFUN
41. ___ acid (vitamin B9) : FOLIC
42. Interlocking piece : COG
43. Became peeved : GOTSORE
47. Oil-rich land ruled by a sultan : BRUNEI
49. Writer Nin : ANAIS
50. Pair of fins : TENNER
52. Bits of music : STRAINS
55. Atty. gen.'s employer : DOJ
56. Word with get or smart : SET
58. Some ski resort rentals : CONDOS
61. Throb : PULSATE
62. City about 100 miles ENE of Cleveland, O. : ERIEPA
63. Paper featured in the documentary "Page One," for short : NYT
64. No. often between 15 and 50 : SPF
66. Belligerent, in Britspeak : AGGRO
68. Three on a 6 : MNO
69. Poorly : ILL
70. Go poof : VANISH
71. Without variation : EVENLY
72. Get educated (on) : READUP
75. More outré : ODDER
76. Memorable mission : ALAMO
77. Disinfecting Wipes brand : LYSOL
80. Like light that causes chemical change : ACTINIC
81. "Gladiator" locale : ARENA
84. Resistance : PUSHBACK
86. "Gladiator," for one : EPIC
87. Smirnoff of comedy : YAKOV
88. "___ Como Va" (Santana hit) : OYE
89. Cold : UNCARING
92. Country singer Kenny : CHESNEY
93. Grandeur : MAJESTY
94. "Mazel ___!" : TOV
98. Bottom sirloin cut of beef : TRITIP
99. Made out : NECKED
100. One who takes the bull by the horns : TORERO
102. Plant part : SEPAL
105. Turns a different shade, say : DYES
107. Alternatively : ELSE
109. Sleipnir's master, in myth : ODIN
110. Drunk's favorite radio station? : WINO
111. App creator, perhaps: Abbr. : ENGR
112. Uncertainties : IFS
113. '60s war zone : NAM
114. Back the other way : FRO
115. See 87-Across : ARE
116. Uptown dir. in N.Y.C. : NNE
118. -: Abbr. : NEG

Answer summary: 18 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 7 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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