It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox for best results.

IT'S BETTER THIS WAY

New York Times, Sunday, March 16, 2014

Author:
Jeremy Newton
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/15/20083/9/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
13011200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81663
Jeremy Newton

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQZ} Scrabble average: 1.72 This is puzzle # 10 for Mr. Newton. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeremy Newton notes:
A puzzle featuring RX as the theme has been a personal 'constructor vendetta' for me. Maybe it's the lure of that damned Scrabbly X, or the excitement of getting a theme out that no one's ... read more

A puzzle featuring RX as the theme has been a personal "constructor vendetta" for me. Maybe it's the lure of that damned Scrabbly X, or the excitement of getting a theme out that no one's done, or some unhealthy deep-seated obsession with prescription drugs.

My first RX-related submission to the Times was a 15x15 rebus, the second a 21x21 rebus. Both had not enough theme material and some really strained theme entries (example: RxKBP clued as a chess move). Two rejection letters later, I submitted a 15x15 with entries containing RX in the very middle (COLORXEROX, DEERXING, etc) with PRESCRIPTION as the revealer, but The Big Guy said not quite interesting enough.

Next, I tried an (unsubmitted) idea, involving a diagonal offset of R and X in the grid, to represent how Rx is often hand-written or how it's displayed on drug store signs. The horizontal theme entries dropped down one row at the X, then continued along their way. While sort of a neat trick (and "Medicine Dropper" was screaming to be the puzzle title), I thought this offset gimmick would be too arbitrary for some and probably too easy to figure out the R/X locations for others.

My final attempt at the RX theme involved a more visual gimmick. I hit upon the phrase FOLLOW THE PRESCRIPTION as some kind of directive / theme revealer. So then, I needed something to drive the solver to follow "RX" pairs across the grid. Going from SICK to WELL was an appropriate solution, I thought. After arranging theme answers to create the RX conga line, the originally-planned phrase FOLLOW THE PRESCRIPTION could only find room in the puzzle by splitting into FOLLOWING THE / PRESCRIPTION. And as luck would have it (thank you, Crossword Gods), this answer pair crossed nicely with my center entry, GROUCHO MARX MUSTACHE.

I originally shaded the RX squares to highlight the journey from SICK to WELL. But Will wisely hid their locations — it works much better that way. I'm super pleased how the trail of RX's turned out. And I'm relieved that my RX vendetta is over.

Jeff Chen notes:
Today's author, Jeremy Newton, wrote one of my favorite puzzles in recent memory, one around Beethoven's Ode to Joy. This puzzles marks his tenth puzzle for the NYT, qualifying him for our ... read more

Today's author, Jeremy Newton, wrote one of my favorite puzzles in recent memory, one around Beethoven's Ode to Joy. This puzzles marks his tenth puzzle for the NYT, qualifying him for our "Most Prolific Authors" page.

Today's theme is explained by FOLLOWING THE / PRESCRIPTION, i.e. phrases containing the relatively rare RX pattern, hardly ever seen outside the MARX brothers and MARXISM. The phrase itself feels a little questionable, FILLING A PRESCRIPTION sounding better to my ear. I'm also not convinced that FOLLOWING THE PRESCRIPTION is that accurate of a revealer, as I would interpret that as "phrases that follow the RX letter sequence." Maybe I'm missing something?

ADDED NOTE: indeed, I totally missed a clever additional layer to the theme. I've highlighted the RXs in blue, so you can see their travel from SICK all the way to WELL down a diagonal path. Very cool! I'm really glad to have read Jeremy's note so I can appreciate the puzzle fully. Neat!

Jeremy sure picked some nice themers. I've been a huge X-Men fan for all my life (if you don't know what material Wolverine's skeleton is made of, I shall scoff at you), so seeing PROFESSOR XAVIER was pretty neat. SOLVE FOR X is also snappy, a beautiful phrase for us math dorks. Overall, X is such an infrequently used letter, it was neat to see so many instances of it strewn about the grid.

Not that records matter much (I think the solver's experience should be paramount above all else), but Jeremy gets up there in terms of number of X's. If you're interested, you might be interested to peruse all the record-setting letter counts for the Shortz era.

A bit of crunchy fill today in RSTU, ARIL, SPUME, etc. which made it a very tough solve for me. But one thing I'd like to point out is Jeremy's excellent usage of moderate-length fill. Check out the great colloquial 7's: MGM LION, GO BROKE, SWELL UP, ROM-COMS, and my favorite, THING IS... What fantastic use of usually boring 7's! And the 6's, even more difficult: HOT WAX, POOR ME, FESS UP!, FULL ON. GO COLD. I know some solvers much prefer a super-clean solve (no EPH, RES, ERN, etc.) without a great deal of snazz, but I appreciate the trade-off Jeremy gave us today. So much goodness in that mid-length fill.

Wish I had been more clever and picked up all the theme layers on my own! I blame the post-ACPT blues. Hurry up and get here already, ACPT 2015!

1
S
2
I
3
C
4
K
5
O
6
F
7
B
8
R
9
A
10
I
11
L
12
L
13
E
14
W
15
A
16
F
17
T
18
S
19
E
L
A
I
N
E
20
R
E
S
C
U
E
M
21
E
22
I
M
O
U
T
23
X
E
R
X
E
S
24
I
O
F
P
E
R
S
I
A
25
N
O
L
T
E
26
T
S
P
27
S
S
N
28
R
E
S
29
S
30
W
E
L
L
U
P
31
F
32
O
U
R
X
33
F
34
O
U
R
35
S
T
E
R
E
O
36
B
37
U
38
R
L
A
P
39
E
R
N
40
R
O
W
D
Y
41
W
42
A
43
G
44
A
G
U
A
S
45
S
46
H
A
Y
47
L
O
B
E
S
48
M
I
E
N
49
T
H
E
W
I
50
N
T
E
R
X
51
G
A
M
E
S
52
L
O
N
G
U
53
S
E
A
L
54
O
T
C
55
T
56
H
I
N
G
I
S
57
M
58
P
59
G
60
O
S
L
61
O
62
B
E
O
63
F
64
O
M
I
T
S
65
G
R
O
66
U
C
H
O
M
67
A
R
X
M
U
68
S
T
A
C
H
E
69
M
E
T
R
O
70
S
I
L
O
71
S
L
A
W
72
A
E
S
73
R
L
S
T
I
N
74
E
75
N
I
K
76
L
B
A
77
R
78
S
I
C
E
M
79
P
80
R
O
F
E
81
S
82
S
O
R
X
A
83
V
84
I
85
E
86
R
87
T
O
R
N
88
S
H
O
U
T
89
A
C
N
E
90
R
S
V
P
D
91
U
N
I
92
B
L
E
S
S
93
H
I
T
94
G
E
I
S
H
A
95
P
96
O
O
R
M
E
97
S
O
L
V
98
E
99
F
O
R
X
100
E
101
N
T
H
U
S
E
102
S
P
A
103
X
T
C
104
B
105
A
106
A
107
D
E
I
G
N
108
R
109
E
T
U
R
110
N
111
O
F
D
O
112
C
113
T
O
R
X
114
A
H
O
O
T
115
A
D
A
M
S
A
L
E
116
L
O
O
N
I
E
117
M
I
N
D
Y
118
S
T
E
E
P
E
D
119
D
O
W
E
L
L
© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0316 ( 23,504 )
Across
1
So over : SICKOF
7
Touching words? : BRAILLE
14
Gently floats : WAFTS
19
"Seinfeld" cohort : ELAINE
20
1965 R&B #1 song with the repeated lyric "Can't you see that I'm lonely?" : RESCUEME
22
"Too rich for me" : IMOUT
23
*He bested Leonidas at Thermopylae : XERXESIOFPERSIA
25
Nick of "Lorenzo's Oil" : NOLTE
26
Medicinal qty. : TSP
27
Dashed ID : SSN
28
Monitor setting, for short : RES
29
Balloon : SWELLUP
31
*Off-roader, often : FOURXFOUR
35
What an iPod plays in : STEREO
36
Stuff in sacks : BURLAP
39
Flying fisher : ERN
40
Roughhousing : ROWDY
41
Jokester : WAG
44
Glassfuls in restaurantes : AGUAS
45
Country buggy : SHAY
47
Places for studs : LOBES
48
Air : MIEN
49
*Annual draw for snocross fans : THEWINTERXGAMES
52
Union leader? : LONGU
53
Close up : SEAL
54
Like Advil or Aleve: Abbr. : OTC
55
"That may be true, but ..." : THINGIS
57
It's low for gas guzzlers: Abbr. : MPG
60
Home to King Harald V : OSLO
62
"___ good cheer!" : BEOF
64
Doesn't bring up : OMITS
65
*Iconic feature of comedy : GROUCHOMARXMUSTACHE
69
Line at the Louvre : METRO
70
Bomb shelter? : SILO
71
Sub side, maybe : SLAW
72
D.D.E. challenger : AES
73
"Revenge R Us" author : RLSTINE
75
Suffix with peace : NIK
76
Bent beam : LBAR
78
Biting remark? : SICEM
79
*Founder of Marvel's School for Gifted Youngsters : PROFESSORXAVIER
87
Of two minds : TORN
88
TALK LIKE THIS! : SHOUT
89
Teen headache : ACNE
90
Got back to, in a way : RSVPD
91
Prefix with cycle : UNI
92
Give one's O.K. : BLESS
93
Google datum : HIT
94
Robed performer : GEISHA
95
"Nothing seems to go my way" : POORME
97
*Frequent problem faced by algebra students : SOLVEFORX
100
Pump up : ENTHUSE
102
Chichi getaway : SPA
103
A street drug, briefly : XTC
104
Rural call : BAA
107
Stoop : DEIGN
108
*Horror flick starring Humphrey Bogart as a mad scientist, with "The" : RETURNOFDOCTORX
114
Something LOL-worthy : AHOOT
115
Water, wryly : ADAMSALE
116
Canadian coin named for a bird : LOONIE
117
"The ___ Project" (Fox comedy) : MINDY
118
In hot water? : STEEPED
119
Thrive : DOWELL
Down
1
Something dirty kept in a cell? : SEXT
2
___ de la Société : ILES
3
Complain, complain, complain : CARP
4
"Kid-tested" breakfast cereal : KIX
5
50/50 : ONE
6
"Admit it!" : FESSUP
7
J.Lo's birthplace : BRONX
8
Shot caller : REF
9
Danger for Indiana Jones : ASP
10
Spring river breakup : ICERUN
11
Siren, say : LURER
12
Not so great : LESS
13
Member of the music industry's former Big Four : EMI
14
Part of a Napa Valley tour : WINERY
15
Whack-___ : AMOLE
16
With 58-Down, a patient process? ... or a hint to two consecutive letters in the answer to each of the seven starred clues : FOLLOWINGTHE
17
What one might go for a spin in? : TUTU
18
Any "cha" in the cha-cha-cha : STEP
21
How lines of latitude run : EASTWEST
24
Mount Zion's land: Abbr. : ISR
30
Couples : WEDS
31
Scratch, say : FLAW
32
Rest stop : OASIS
33
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind," per H. P. Lovecraft : FEAR
34
Cousin of a gazelle : ORYX
35
Drink with two lizards in its logo : SOBE
36
Club : BAT
37
"Bleah!" : UGH
38
Have second thoughts about : RUE
40
"Clueless" and "Bridget Jones's Diary" : ROMCOMS
42
Sponsorships : AEGISES
43
Serengeti prey : GNUS
45
Put away for safekeeping : STASH
46
Hugs and kisses, at times : HELLOS
47
Paint variety : LATEX
48
Type-A friend from "Friends" : MONICA
50
One turning to the right : NEOCON
51
Lose everything : GOBROKE
52
Certain bean : LIMA
56
Hair-razing stuff? : HOTWAX
57
Loud beast heard in theaters : MGMLION
58
See 16-Down : PRESCRIPTION
59
Bamboozled : GOTTEN
61
Like gathering storm clouds : OMINOUS
63
No-holds-barred : FULLON
66
___ and Thummim (sacred Judaic objects) : URIM
67
"Need ___?" (query to hitchhikers) : ALIFT
68
Baron's blade : SABRE
73
They're 18 to 21 : RSTU
74
Things for here and now : EPHEMERA
77
More pink, perhaps : RARER
80
It can be prickly : ROSE
81
Jib, e.g. : SAIL
82
John Candy's old comedy program : SCTV
83
Motor with some muscle : VSIX
84
You might get stuck with them : IVS
85
Book after Galatians: Abbr. : EPH
86
Nutritional info : RDA
88
Photogs' choices : SLRS
92
It may help catch a fugitive : BOUNTY
93
Like Brando's Don Corleone : HOARSE
94
Disappear, as a trail : GOCOLD
96
"Good heavens!" : OHGOD
97
Eject, as froth : SPUME
98
Retired govt. agent : EXFED
99
Co. making arrangements : FTD
100
Dutch wheels : EDAM
101
Member of the old Chero-Cola product line : NEHI
102
"Chop-chop!" : STAT
104
Radius, e.g. : BONE
105
Seed casing : ARIL
106
Jump on ice : AXEL
109
Jet crew, briefly : EDS
110
Quick time-out : NAP
111
Scream at a ring : OLE
112
Bit of love talk : COO
113
Drag : TOW

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

Found bugs or have suggestions?