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MIXED RESULTS

New York Times, Sunday, March 26, 2017

Author:
Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
259/8/20104/8/20196
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6345610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61441
Tracy Gray
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
977/5/20104/8/201959
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2578172398
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636212
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 81 Missing: {FQX} This is puzzle # 20 for Ms. Gray. This is puzzle # 67 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
TRACY: It was so much fun to team up with Jeff again for our second collaborative NYT Sunday puzzle! I contacted Jeff last November with an idea I had been working on which crossed two ... read more

TRACY: It was so much fun to team up with Jeff again for our second collaborative NYT Sunday puzzle!

I contacted Jeff last November with an idea I had been working on which crossed two colors through a shared rebus box to equal a third "mixed result" color, but I was struggling with how to represent the mixed result color in the grid that would make sense to the solver. I didn't want a lot of cross reference type clues, and a three-way rebus (has that ever been done before?) or a diagonally-running mixed result theme entry would be too confusing, IMO.

Not surprisingly, Jeff was able to think outside the proverbial (rebus) box concept and notice that certain pairs of colors shared a common letter where they could cross and "mix" with each other. For consistency, we picked four pairs of colors that included red, and from there, we came up with a list of colorful theme entries based on the final colors we had chosen. Lastly, we substituted the actual colors in the theme entries with one or the other mixing colors.

Jeff did the heavy duty grid work and placement of the theme entries, and we both shared in filling and cluing. The result, we hope, is a fun and lively Sunday puzzle. Enjoy!

JEFF: Such fun to work with Tracy! We went back and forth maybe 20 times before settling on this implementation. In case you missed it, an example is that RED + BLUE (RED crossing BLUE) = PURPLE, so you should interpret both crossing answers as the mixed color. Not RED PEOPLE EATER or BLUE HEARTS, but PURPLE PEOPLE EATER and PURPLE HEARTS! I've colorized the grid below to clarify.

It was hard to find enough well-known color mixes, and it turned out that almost all of them used RED. Both of us were worried about duplicating words in the puzzle, so I pushed us to use RED as a hidden word, i.e. within HIGHER EDUCATION, to avoid the outright duplications.

Thankfully, Tracy pushed back, pointing out that one way or another, we'd have duplicated answers — both the across and the down mixed color would be the same, i.e. PURPLE duplicated in (PURPLE) PEOPLE EATER / (PURPLE) HEARTS. If we're gonna have some duplication, why not go all out?

It took me a while to get used to that idea, but I liked it more and more every time I thought about it. Sort of a quantum duality. Very glad for Tracy's input there!

Jeff Chen notes:
Oof, this grid was a bear. The skeleton alone nearly didn't come together, what with four pairs of long crossing answers needed. And we had to lay them out such that they didn't interfere ... read more

Oof, this grid was a bear. The skeleton alone nearly didn't come together, what with four pairs of long crossing answers needed. And we had to lay them out such that they didn't interfere with each other! Eight long themers is tough enough in a 21x21, but try intersecting pairs of them and cramming them all in. Not easy.

And then there was stupid old crossword symmetry to worry about. Tracy put together a good set of theme answer pairs to start, but we quickly realized that having to intersect answers at the E of RED each time was going to give us a symmetry nightmare. Specifically, the placement of the letter E within BLUE vs. GREEN was not good.

A few days later, it occurred to me that if we pluralized GREENS, we could make everything work. Tracy disliked the pluralization, though, and rightly so — a lone plural themer is inelegant. My a-ha moment might have come when eating HASH GREENS — er, (BROWNS) — which is much more natural in the plural.

Once in a while, the crossword gods throw you a bone.

The grid came together fairly quickly after that. I laid out about 20 skeletons before landing on one I thought would work. It also looked like we might be able to go down to 136 words so we could add in a whole bunch of snazzy material. But after a lot of back and forth, we came to the conclusion that it just wasn't going to be worth the crossword glue needed to hold those (not-so-snazzy) long fill together. I hate giving up on a tough construction challenge, but we decided it was the right thing to do. Going up to 138 words allowed for much, much cleaner fill, and still a good amount of KOHLRABI, TEND BAR, STOPGAP, RAZOR WIT, CATSUIT, I DOUBT IT, etc. sort of bonuses.

Such fun when a collaboration comes together like this, where we have to work like the dickens and struggle through so many problems. Finally getting across the finish line hasn't felt so satisfying in ages.

Jim Horne notes:

Elizabeth Gorski had an interesting color mixing puzzle back in 2013.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0326 ( 24,610 )
Across
1
Martin Van Buren was the first president who wasn't one : WASP
5
Get ready for a long drive : TANKUP
11
I.M. chuckle : LOL
14
Martial arts move : CHOP
18
Vitamix competitor : OSTER
20
Hoity-toity : SNOOTY
21
Shelley's "To the Moon," e.g. : ODE
22
It's between the Study and Lounge on a Clue board : HALL
23
1970s TV cartoon series, with "The" : PINKPANTHERSHOW
26
World capital whose seal depicts St. Hallvard : OSLO
27
Pull out : SECEDE
28
It might give you a shock : EEL
29
Missile Command maker : ATARI
30
Scintilla : WHIT
31
Filmer in a stadium : SKYCAM
33
Noodle dish : RAMEN
35
Rushes on banks? : SEDGES
37
Medicinal plant : ALOE
39
Possible subject of a French scandal : AMIE
40
German article : DER
41
"Who ___ you?" : ASKED
45
1973 #1 hit for Jim Croce : BADBADLEROYBROWN
51
Téa of "Madam Secretary" : LEONI
52
Pull (in) : REIN
53
Philosopher who wrote "To be sane in a world of madmen is in itself madness" : ROUSSEAU
55
It may carry a virus : EMAIL
56
First and last word of the Musketeers' motto : ALL
57
Pour, as wine : DECANT
60
Degree in math? : NTH
61
Wrestler's wear : SINGLET
63
Claw : TEARAT
65
Tickles : AMUSES
68
Target protector, perhaps : MALLCOP
70
Jury-rigged : STOPGAP
72
Monastery head's jurisdiction : ABBACY
75
Feudal lords : LIEGES
77
Practice mixology : TENDBAR
81
Chum : PAL
82
James of NBC's "The Blacklist" : SPADER
84
One side in golf's Ryder Cup : USA
86
Song of mourning : DIRGE
87
Big, husky sorts : BRUISERS
90
Pennsylvania's "Gem City" : ERIE
92
Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
93
Title creature in a 1958 #1 Sheb Wooley hit : PURPLEPEOPLEEATER
97
Buick model : REGAL
98
Planter's aid : HOE
99
Figure skating jump : LUTZ
100
It's a wrap : SARI
102
False start? : PSEUDO
105
Words of defiance : CANSO
106
Control groups : JUNTAS
110
Captain of the Pequod : AHAB
111
Actor Reeves : KEANU
113
Onetime acquisition of G.E. : RCA
116
Shipping coolant : DRYICE
118
Cameo, for one : PART
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Dystopian film of 1971 : ACLOCKWORKORANGE
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Rihanna album featuring "Work" : ANTI
123
Juice brand whose middle letter is represented as a heart : POM
124
Tushy : HEINIE
125
Biggest employer in Moline, Ill. : DEERE
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Bridge position : WEST
127
Drop-___ : INS
128
GPS, e.g., in military lingo : SATNAV
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Wild Turkey and Jim Beam : RYES
Down
1
Bowls over : WOWS
2
Word both before and after "to" : ASHES
3
Retriever's retrieval, maybe : STICK
4
Little Rascals' ring-eyed pooch : PETEY
5
Big airport inits. : TSA
6
Hathaway of "The Intern" : ANNE
7
Point out : NOTE
8
Cabbage variety : KOHLRABI
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Rice-Eccles Stadium player : UTE
10
Image on the back of a dollar bill : PYRAMID
11
Lindsay of "Freaky Friday" : LOHAN
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Sign of decay : ODOR
13
Civil rights icon John : LEWIS
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Hearty soups : CHOWDERS
15
"Idaho cakes," in diner lingo : HASHBROWNS
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Slapstick sidekick of old comedy : OLLIE
17
Movie review revelations : PLOTS
19
B-side of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" : PINKCADILLAC
24
Toll : PEAL
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Shade of gray : STEEL
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Gaggle : geese :: ___ : emus : MOB
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Actress Peet : AMANDA
36
Big name in ice cream : EDYS
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Rank between viscount and marquess : EARL
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What may be brewing : ALES
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Interstate hauler : SEMI
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Zen master's query : KOAN
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Conundrum : ENIGMA
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Shoulder muscle : DELTOID
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Lyre-plucking Muse : ERATO
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Howard of Hollywood : RON
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Delighting? : OUTAGE
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Letter header : DATE
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Stammered syllables : UHS
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Delta hub, in brief : ATL
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European language : ERSE
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Costume worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in "Batman Returns" : CATSUIT
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Parisian palace : ELYSEE
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French for "sword" : EPEE
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Easy-to-peel fruit : MANDARINORANGE
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"Rabbit Is Rich" Pulitzer winner : UPDIKE
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Hug : CLASP
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Org. that usually meets in evenings : PTA
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P.D. dispatch : APB
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Epstein-___ virus : BARR
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Military decorations featuring George Washington's profile : PURPLEHEARTS
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Welcomes : GREETS
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Jolly Roger, in "Peter Pan" : BRIG
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Indian city whose name is an anagram of some Indian music : AGRA
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Bona fide : REAL
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___ Bowl : PRO
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Matches, at a table : SEES
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"Hmm ... probably not" : IDOUBTIT
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Burned rubber : SPED
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Comic's asset : RAZORWIT
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South American prairie : LLANO
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Harem servants, often : EUNUCHS
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One of the geeks on "The Big Bang Theory" : RAJ
101
Former Big Apple mayor Giuliani : RUDY
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Fruit tree : PAPAW
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1953 hit film set in Wyoming : SHANE
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Animal with striped legs : OKAPI
105
Difficult conditions for sailing : CALMS
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City with a University of Texas campus : TYLER
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"Revelations" choreographer : AILEY
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Hit pay dirt : SCORE
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"The Wealth of Nations" subj. : ECON
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Its state song is "Yankee Doodle": Abbr. : CONN
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Opera highlight : ARIA
117
___ milk : EWES
120
Mauna ___ : KEA
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Bandleader Eubanks, familiarly : KEV

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?