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BRIGHT IDEAS

New York Times, Sunday, March 23, 2014

Author:
Ian Livengood
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
554/12/20109/15/20164
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
617667112
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64371
Ian Livengood

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 79 Missing: {X} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 37 for Mr. Livengood. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is done, the circled letters, reading counterclockwise from the top, will spell a phrase relating to the puzzle's theme.
Ian Livengood notes:
I saw a clue for AHA and — wait for it — the light went on in my head. The AHA MOMENT spelled out as a light bulb was the next logical step, followed by THOMAS EDISON and ... read more

I saw a clue for AHA and — wait for it — the light went on in my head. The AHA MOMENT spelled out as a light bulb was the next logical step, followed by THOMAS EDISON and INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB (a 21!). I toyed with listing other Edison inventions or accomplishments, but a quote seemed more appropriate.

The construction was tricky since I couldn't have the themers running through the middle of the grid mucking up the circled answers. But aside from two or three short clunkers, I'm pleased with the fill. I paused at inserting DNA MOLECULE and OPEN CIRCUIT since they seemed too close to the Edison/electricity/science theme, but eventually decided to roll with 'em.

Hope solvers enjoy the puzzle!

Jeff Chen notes:
Beautiful puzzle today, everything I personally like to see in a Sunday-size grid: nice theme answers, strong, clean fill, and a visual element. Plus, an inspirational message! Often, I ... read more

Beautiful puzzle today, everything I personally like to see in a Sunday-size grid: nice theme answers, strong, clean fill, and a visual element. Plus, an inspirational message! Often, I get a little worn-out by a 21x21 crossword puzzle, but this one kept me delighted from start to end. Doesn't hurt that I just saw Ian at the ACPT and had a drink with him, really enjoying chatting about crossword construction as always. Nothing better than talking shop with fellow constructors.

Except if Will is paying, of course.

One aspect I thought Ian did very well was in capturing elements of many different types of puzzles. Quote puzzles by themselves tend to be on the dull side (unless the quote is spectacularly funny or insightful), but not only does Ian restrict the quote part to three entries, he ties it in with the puzzle's visual. I had to work to uncover the quote, and it was totally worth it.

It's also neat when a constructor's personality and interests shine through. Ian is a sports guy, so seeing beautiful long entries like NFC SOUTH, CHICAGO BULLS, and my hometown THE NINERS was a pleasure. Some may accuse him of making the long fill too sports-oriented, but it's not like he's used TOLEDO MUDHENS or the TACOMA RAINIERS. Come on, it's THE NINERS, people! Grumble grumble, stupid play calling / decision making at the end of last year's NFC championship game, grumble grumble.

It did take me a little while to figure out the AHA MOMENT running around the light bulb, because I skipped the notepad (those just tend to seem superfluous) and tried to read it from the lower left corner going clockwise. It's the natural thing to do, right? Getting an OMAHA TNE wasn't quite doing it for me though, so I begrudgingly went back and read the notepad. Fine, I'll follow directions!

As with all of Ian's stuff, the fill is so smooth. He's the one who got me on a kick against partials, especially five-letter ones. It's amazing how much good stuff he packed in while avoiding ugly stuff, just some short NNE, CIR, ADE, SOC, ULT, OLEO kind of filler, barely noticable (I had to go back and search it out). I totally agree with his use of cheater squares in the middle row of the puzzle (before SEAL and after IDOS), which I'm sure made those sections smoother. That section above SEAL (where FEDORAS is) I'm sure would have been crunchier if not for that cheater square.

Can't say enough good stuff about this puzzle!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0323 ( 23,511 )
Across
1
Expands, in a way : ADDSON
7
Sister of Helios : EOS
10
___ room : REC
13
Elite unit : ATEAM
18
Gambling mecca : MONACO
19
Saint's home, for short : NFCSOUTH
22
Venomous African tree-dweller : MAMBA
23
Start of a motivational comment attributed to 86-Across : IHAVENOTFAILEDIVEJUST
26
Justin Timberlake's "Cry ___ River" : MEA
27
[That makes me so uncomfortable] : CRINGE
28
Lockup : CAN
29
Middle of the comment : FOUNDTENTHOUSANDWAYS
37
Toolbar feature : HELP
38
Director Nicolas : ROEG
39
Record : LOG
40
Facial moisturizing brand : OLAY
41
"Power" suffix : ADE
42
Sticks in the closet? : MOPS
43
End of the comment : THATWONTWORK
48
College major, briefly : SOC
49
Commercial lead-in to Pen : EPI
50
Rocket : SOAR
51
Cousin of "Ugh!" : BAH
52
Osaka-to-Sapporo dir. : NNE
53
Law firm department : TRUSTS
55
Fired on : SHOTAT
57
Good-for-nothing : USELESS
59
Resort city in 1945 news : YALTA
60
Small scene : SPAT
61
Restricted part of an urban area : BUSLANE
63
Ball player? : SEAL
64
Prominent feature of an Obama caricature : EAR
65
Ray Charles hosted it in 1977: Abbr. : SNL
66
Couple at the altar? : IDOS
69
Start to show one's real potential : BLOSSOM
72
So : THUS
73
Birthplace of Buddha, now : NEPAL
75
Pitcher Mike with 270 wins : MUSSINA
78
Christmas cookie ingredient : NUTMEG
80
Plagues : BESETS
81
Eponymous German physicist : OHM
82
Combined with : CUM
83
Watering hole for Homer and Barney : MOES
84
Coin collector : JAR
85
Pelican's home, for short : NBA
86
See 23-Across : THOMASEDISON
90
The Durbeyfield girl, in literature : TESS
91
Dr. Seuss animal : CAT
92
It has paper denominations from 5 to 500 : EURO
93
Ex-Fed head Bernanke : BEN
94
Some body work, in slang : TATS
95
Zippo alternatives : BICS
96
Nickname for 86-Across : THEWIZARDOFMENLOPARK
103
Barrel of fun? : KEG
104
Saffron-flavored dish : PAELLA
105
Brow line? : ARC
106
Development of 86-Across ... as depicted in the middle of this grid : INCANDESCENTLIGHTBULB
115
World capital on the slope of an active volcano : QUITO
116
Dolph of "Rocky IV" : LUNDGREN
117
More chilling : EERIER
118
Throw around : STREW
119
D.C. mover and shaker: Abbr. : SEN
120
Scandinavian coin : ORE
121
Actor Christian : SLATER
Down
1
French kiss recipient, maybe : AMI
2
"How silly of me!" : DOH
3
Bit of a code : DNAMOLECULE
4
Stockpile : SAVEUP
5
View that may cost you extra : OCEAN
6
Security Council veto : NON
7
Ins : ENTREES
8
Near future : OFFING
9
Hardly enough : SCANT
10
The French way? : RUE
11
It may be delayed by a storm: Abbr. : ETD
12
United Center team : CHICAGOBULLS
13
Update, say : AMEND
14
Garden State casino, informally, with "the" : TAJ
15
Outback native : EMU
16
Crunches crunch them : ABS
17
Yoga base : MAT
20
___ of relief : SIGH
21
Nondairy item in the dairy aisle : OLEO
24
Ones without a leg to stand on? : OCTOPI
25
Part of a moving line : VAN
29
Blues Brothers wear : FEDORAS
30
Nosedives : DROPS
31
Utmost: Abbr. : ULT
32
Farm mother : SOW
33
"My word!" : WOW
34
Stag, maybe : ALONE
35
"The fish that got away" and others : YARNS
36
Comic Wanda : SYKES
37
Hurried : HASTY
42
"Death Magnetic" band : METALLICA
43
Drinking binge : TOOT
44
Accessory for the 91-Across : HAT
45
Many an Al Jazeera viewer : ARAB
46
Pioneer org. : NASA
47
Five-time Super Bowl champions, informally : THENINERS
50
Barak's successor : SHARON
54
Sharp pains : STABS
55
Travel agency listings : SPAS
56
Cabooses : TUSHES
58
Starts of news articles : LEDES
60
Deli stock with seeds : SESAMEBAGELS
62
Tight : SNUG
67
What an electric current does not flow through : OPENCIRCUIT
68
Relaxed, say : SATBACK
70
Difficult weight : ONUS
71
Appropriate flowers for Mother's Day? : MUMS
72
Bootleggers' banes : TMEN
74
Exams offered four times a yr. : LSATS
75
Certain Bach composition : MOTET
76
"For sure" : UHHUH
77
Gooey campfire treat : SMORE
79
"Not ___ shabby!" : TOO
80
Cesare Angelotti in "Tosca," e.g. : BASSO
84
It gets you off schedule : JETLAG
87
Place to store hay : MOW
88
German article : DER
89
Third line on many a ballot: Abbr. : IND
90
Sunbathing evidence : TANLINE
94
One with bills piling up? : TELLER
95
"My Name Is ___," gold album of 1965 : BARBRA
97
"Tell me about it!" : IKNOW
98
One of two parts of a British puzzle? : ZED
99
___ page : OPED
100
Canine : FANG
101
D.C. mover : METRO
102
Pi ___, "Life of Pi" protagonist : PATEL
106
100s of ordinary people? : IQS
107
Fanatic : NUT
108
Geometry fig. : CIR
109
Had something : ATE
110
Bring into court : SUE
111
"___ = Politics" (TV slogan) : CNN
112
Guys : HES
113
Food Network host Sandra : LEE
114
"It's f-f-freezing!" : BRR

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?