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111-ACROSS!

New York Times, Sunday, March 19, 2017

Author: Grant Thackray
Editor: Will Shortz
Grant Thackray
TotalDebutCollabs
13/19/20170
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1000000
RebusCirclePangram
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This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 144, Blocks: 74 Missing: {JQWZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Thackray NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Grant Thackray notes: Dealing with movie/book/television spoilers is always a dicey subject. For this puzzle, I wanted to only fill the grid with twist endings that 99% of puzzle solvers will either already know, or won't care ... more
Grant Thackray notes:

Dealing with movie/book/television spoilers is always a dicey subject. For this puzzle, I wanted to only fill the grid with twist endings that 99% of puzzle solvers will either already know, or won't care about getting spoiled. If you haven't seen "Citizen Kane" yet, you're probably resigned to not seeing it with fresh eyes. It would have been cruel to have clues like "[BLANK] dies in Game of Thrones," because I imagine the NYT offices would have been immediately stormed by upset fans. That's also why I was determined to split the clues up into two answers, so that simply reading the clue wouldn't spoil the fun. A bit hypocritical, I know.

This is my first crossword in the New York Times, and in fact my first crossword accepted anywhere (though certainly not my first crossword submitted anywhere)! I gave myself the bucket list item of having a crossword in the NYT, and I thought once I achieved that, I would stop, but I might be hooked. I'm a huge fan of wordplay and pun-based clues or answers, and since this puzzle is a bit sparse in that department, I'll be doubling down with puns on my next puzzle.

I'd like to thank Jeff and his fantastic website for making it possible for me to create quality puzzles. I want to thank my mom and my family for giving me a love of puzzles to begin with, and I want to thank the Academy for nominating me for this award. (The ironic thing is—I've only actually seen two of the six movies in this puzzle. And yet, like everyone else, I know the endings to all of them.)

Jeff Chen notes: SPOILER ALERT! Hopefully, solvers have seen all of these movies already. Thankfully, Grant chose ones with iconic not-really-surprise-anymore endings. Fun pairs, and I like how he presented them, making me work a ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

SPOILER ALERT! Hopefully, solvers have seen all of these movies already. Thankfully, Grant chose ones with iconic not-really-surprise-anymore endings. Fun pairs, and I like how he presented them, making me work a little to uncover the pairs.

My head nearly exploded when I found out that SNAPE / KILLS DUMBLEDORE. I didn't have nearly as strong a reaction to seeing that EARTH is the PLANET OF THE APES, or that ROSEBUD is Kane's childhood SLED because I had already heard these spoilers long before I saw the movies, but these pairings all brought back some vivid memories.

(Experiencing "LUKE, I am your father" at age 9 ... whoa!)

To debut on a Sunday is a tricky business, as 21x21 140-word puzzles are so rough to construct. Grant has an even tougher job than usual, what with so many theme answers (highlighted below).

So it's understandable that Will let him slide by with a much easier task of 144-words. I did notice some NOL, IRAE, EAN, STYRO, ARU, USIA, UNHAP, etc. as I solved. But it wasn't much more than a typical Sunday puzzle, so good job there.

I often wonder if Will ought to let Sunday puzzles go to 142 or even 144 words. It'd open the Sunday arena to many more constructors; ones who shy away from the 140-word grid because it's really, really difficult. Just as long as I get a good amount of bonus fill to help hold my interest, I don't even notice that a puzzle has a high word count. I like the stuff Grant worked in: SET THE TONE, MARES NESTS, HEAD HONCHO, TAKE A BREAK, IDRIS ELBA (oh how badly I wish he signed up for "Pacific Rim 2" …), so it wasn't until I investigated that I realized the word count was well past Will's max.

It might have been nice to have the pairs of answers located closer to each other, so I didn't have to jump all over the grid with the cross-references. But that'd be awfully tough to do. And even though I usually groan at cross-referenced answers because of how they break up my solving flow, I liked how this technique hid the pairs in a sneaky way, making for fun discoveries of each pair.

A nice debut. Congrats, Grant!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0319 ( 24,603 )
Across Down
1. Poor-weather driving aid : CHAINS
7. Pale-faced : ASHY
11. Texting format, for short : SMS
14. Indonesian island : BALI
18. Possible weapon in a bar fight : POOLCUE
19. Resting place for a polar bear : FLOE
20. "I totally crushed that!" : NAILEDIT
22. It's actually made of 55-Down : SOYLENTGREEN
24. Companion of Jason : ARGONAUT
25. Wood that makes up the foundation of much of Venice : ALDER
26. Clomped (on) : TROD
27. Basil who designed England's Coventry Cathedral : SPENCE
28. Level : TIER
29. "___ All That" (1999 rom-com) : SHES
30. Who 93-Down was all along : LUKESFATHER
35. Product of Boston or Chicago : SONG
36. Part of a KFC order : LEG
37. Enthusiastic assent in Madrid : SISI
38. Cambodia's Lon ___ : NOL
39. What flows in une rivière : EAU
40. The "E" of Q.E.D. : ERAT
42. Boat with a very fine net : SHRIMPER
44. "Phooey!" : DANG
45. It turns out to be 99-Down : PLANETOFTHEAPES
49. Beefcake's pride : BOD
50. Fresh : SASSY
51. House call? : NAY
52. Up to this point : YET
53. Bad luck, old-style : UNHAP
56. Joke, slangily : YUK
57. Metal band around a pencil eraser : FERRULE
61. Peeping aid : SPYHOLE
63. Fashion : CREATE
66. It really is an 8-Down : ROSEBUD
69. Has pegged, say : ISONTO
70. Disappointment for someone looking for a parking spot : HYDRANT
72. Record-holder for the most times hosting the Academy Awards : BOBHOPE
74. Limit : CAP
75. Studio sign : ONAIR
76. Ga. neighbor : ALA
79. Indonesia's ___ Islands : ARU
80. Nothing, in Latin : NIHIL
82. Having a spare tire, maybe : FAT
83. What 11-Down does, shockingly : KILLSDUMBLEDORE
88. Computer-controlled players, in gaming lingo : BOTS
90. Relating to the sun : HELIACAL
91. Tolkien's trilogy, for short : LOTR
92. Cut : AXE
93. U.S. broadcaster overseas : VOA
94. ___ row : SKID
95. The end: Fr. : FIN
96. "Dies ___" : IRAE
100. To whom the title "45-Down" was referring the whole time : NORMANBATES
103. Big name in headphones : BOSE
104. Hindu god of destruction : SIVA
105. Trims : ADORNS
106. Kids' character who says "A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside" : POOH
107. Annual meal : SEDER
108. Learned inside and out : MASTERED
111. Warning for solvers of this puzzle : SPOILERALERT
114. Source of one's sense of balance : INNEREAR
115. Many resting places : URNS
116. Plant that's the source of a caffeine-free tea : REDBUSH
117. One way to sit by : IDLY
118. Squeeze (out) : EKE
119. Figure in statistics : MODE
120. Altercation : SCRAPE
1. "Gangsta's Paradise" rapper : COOLIO
2. Tomboy : HOYDEN
3. Subjects of some food package warnings : ALLERGENS
4. Cake finisher : ICER
5. Extra in "The Sound of Music" : NUN
6. Make it clear how things are going to go : SETTHETONE
7. Natural dos : AFROS
8. See 66-Across : SLED
9. Ground breaker : HOE
10. Itch : YEN
11. See 83-Across : SNAPE
12. Muddles : MARESNESTS
13. Accept, as a package : SIGNFOR
14. "The Devil and Daniel Webster" author : BENET
15. Nabokov novel : ADA
16. Lucy of "Charlie's Angels" : LIU
17. TV "Cousin" : ITT
18. Jrs. take them : PSATS
21. Good person to ask for directions : LOCAL
23. Actor Kinnear : GREG
27. Not covering much : SKIMPY
29. Picket, e.g. : SLAT
30. Pre-euro money : LIRE
31. Govt. cultural org. until 1999 : USIA
32. Big cheese : HEADHONCHO
33. Suffix with Jacob : EAN
34. Throw on the floor? : RUG
37. Sound in the stacks : SHH
41. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" protagonist : REY
42. Lead-in to foam : STYRO
43. Oh follower : PEE
44. "Tiny Bubbles" singer : DONHO
45. See 100-Across : PSYCHO
46. Hill of R&B : LAURYN
47. Inquired about : ASKEDAFTER
48. Jamie of "M*A*S*H" : FARR
49. Falls for : BUYS
54. Brightest star in Aquila : ALTAIR
55. See 22-Across : PEOPLE
57. Swamp : FEN
58. Kind of port : USB
59. Regulus's constellation : LEO
60. Draw back : EBB
62. Slapstick prop : PIE
64. Puccini pieces : ARIAS
65. Stolen item in "Alice in Wonderland" : TART
67. Moving aid : UHAUL
68. State quarters? : DORM
71. Rest : TAKEABREAK
73. Penguin and others : PUBLISHERS
77. Lead-in to Jon or Wayne : LIL
78. Exclusive groups : ALISTS
80. Nothing but ___ : NET
81. Player of Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" : IDRISELBA
84. Interest for a limnologist : LAKE
85. Some core classes: Abbr. : SCIS
86. Treehouse builder, maybe : DAD
87. Unattended : LONE
88. Exclusion : BAN
89. Big name in kitchen utensils : OXO
90. Center of a roast : HONOREE
93. See 30-Across : VADER
95. Jester : FOOL
97. Cause a wedgie : RIDEUP
98. Opposed : AVERSE
99. See 45-Across : EARTH
101. Bucko : MATEY
102. Major John ___, Benedict Arnold's co-conspirator : ANDRE
103. Western capital : BOISE
106. Koi's habitat : POND
107. Baghdad's ___ City : SADR
108. Early millennium year : MII
109. Not to mention : AND
110. Show with a "cold open," for short : SNL
111. Excel command : SUM
112. For : PRO
113. Remote button : REC

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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