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111-ACROSS!

New York Times, Sunday, March 19, 2017

Author:
Grant Thackray
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
33/19/20171/26/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1000101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.51000
Grant Thackray

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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
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Inquired about : ASKEDAFTER
48
Jamie of "M*A*S*H" : FARR
49
Falls for : BUYS
54
Brightest star in Aquila : ALTAIR
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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
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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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?