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IN CHARACTER

New York Times, Sunday, March 6, 2016

Author: David J. Kahn
Editor: Will Shortz
David J. Kahn
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1783/15/19945/17/20185
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4351222571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514180

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 142, Blocks: 79 Missing: {JKXZ} This is puzzle # 164 for Mr. Kahn. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The answers to 23-, 31-, 45-, 62-, 69-, 90-, 103- and 115-Across are themselves clues to the names spelled by their circled letters.
David J. Kahn notes: I had just seen 'Something Rotten!', a very funny Broadway musical, and I was looking to do something to commemorate the upcoming 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The theme came to me when I ... more
David J. Kahn notes:

I had just seen "Something Rotten!", a very funny Broadway musical, and I was looking to do something to commemorate the upcoming 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.

The theme came to me when I realized that FRIEND OF MERCUTIO (where FRIEND later became COMRADE) included the name ROMEO. Coming up with other answers and getting this puzzle accepted was a struggle. My original submission had a few themed answers Will and Joel felt were either contrived (OPHELIA'S COMPLEX SUITOR, anyone?) or hid characters with only four letters in 21-letter answers (e.g., VILLAIN UNDOING OTHELLO). They liked the concept, though, so I focused on shortening the answers and adding some 5, 6 and 7-letter characters. I stuck to Shakespeare's more popular plays and Will/Joel offered a lot of feedback along the way. Finally, deleting SHAKESPEARE as an answer, which I did at the very end, makes for more of an "aha" moment.

Jeff Chen notes: I read through the notepad a few times and still didn't understand what it meant, so I dove right into the solve. It's quite a clever idea — BANQUET GHOST describing Banquo, e.g. — so I wish there had ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

I read through the notepad a few times and still didn't understand what it meant, so I dove right into the solve. It's quite a clever idea — BANQUET GHOST describing Banquo, e.g. — so I wish there had been a clearer way of phrasing the notepad. Or working something right into the clues! Unfortunatey, I couldn't think of anything more self-explanatory.

The MACABRE THANE himself!

I enjoyed reading David's note, and I agree that not having SHAKESPEARE as a revealer makes it more fun. I actually couldn't place Banquo (he's from "Macbeth"), so it took me a while to realize that all these people IN CHARACTER were Shakespeare's. I like the consistency.

Some of them I enjoyed more than others. LEAR inside ELDERLY MONARCH is nearly perfect! Casca as a SCHEMER AGAINST CAESAR is descriptive. MACBETH in MACABRE THANE was perhaps my favorite, because I appreciated the degree of difficulty — to David's point, it's easy to fit in four letters if you have a long enough entry. To get the seven letters of MACBETH within a 12-letter entry is pretty darn amazing.

COMRADE OF MERCUTIO pales in comparison to FRIEND OF MERCUTIO, though. I imagine David had to resort to this due to crossword symmetry requirements. Very unfortunate. (Perhaps one day historians will uncover Shakespeare's Russian period?) And UNHAPPY MALCONTENT does describe Hamlet, but doesn't it describe maybe half of all Shakespeare's characters?

David does a nice job with this grid. As with most any Sunday-size 140-worder, you're bound to get some AGS (Attorney Generals), IT IN (connecting it with LEAVE, so far away, almost makes it worse for me — and LEAVE IT IN isn't a particularly colorful phrase), NEOS, A PAT, etc. But he does well with his long bonus fill, spreading the goodness around the grid: ORRIN HATCH, AUTOSTRADA, VOICE ACTOR, and ONLINE CHAT are four great entries, really boosting the quality of my solve. GO ROGUE, FATCATS and IM RICH! helped as well.

The idea was really nice here, and if 1.) the notepad / cluing had been better, and 2.) all the examples were of the same quality as MACABRE THANE, it would have been an easy POW choice for me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0306 ( 24,225 )
Across Down
1. Spokesperson in TV insurance ads : FLO
4. Candidate's concern : IMAGE
9. Snap : FOTO
13. "Not ___!" : AGAIN
18. Manhattan developer? : BAR
19. Big name in travel guides : FODOR
20. Track runner : TRAIN
21. "Et tu" follower : BRUTE
22. Sharing word : OUR
23. See blurb : COMRADEOFMERCUTIO
26. It may detect a break, for short : MRI
27. Hit 2011 animated film : RIO
28. Stay here : INN
29. Source of iron : ORE
30. An eternity : EONS
31. See blurb : BANQUETGHOST
35. Crashes badly : TOTALS
37. Czech reformer Jan : HUS
38. Press (for) : SUE
39. Cut off : SHORN
40. Request after a breakdown : TOW
43. Some cleaners : MAIDS
45. See blurb : ELDERLYMONARCH
50. Billionaire sorts : FATCATS
52. ___ Peninsula : MALAY
53. Borah Peak locale : IDAHO
54. Part of a foot : ARCH
55. Music appreciation : EAR
57. Lead-in to care or dare : DOI
58. Nike ___ Max : AIR
61. Dedicated works : ODES
62. See blurb : SCHEMERAGAINSTCAESAR
67. How to play solitaire : ALONE
68. Some conversation interruptions : AHEMS
69. See blurb : LOVEINTERESTOFOLIVIA
79. Italian fine? : BENE
80. Big head : EGO
81. Figure in "The Garden of Earthly Delights" : EVE
82. Hal, to Henry IV : SON
83. Titania or Oberon, in space : MOON
84. Former NBC drama : LALAW
86. National alternative : ALAMO
88. Getting ready, with "up" : GEARING
90. See blurb : EVILANTAGONIST
95. Jazz (up) : SPICE
96. Place for plaques : DEN
97. Dos : COIFS
98. Bro or sis : SIB
100. Mound great : ACE
101. Ham : EMOTER
103. See blurb : MACABRETHANE
109. Squeakers : MICE
111. Best Foreign Language Film of 2014 : IDA
112. Fiver : ABE
113. Always, to Shakespeare : EER
114. One carrying a toon? : CEL
115. See blurb : UNHAPPYMALCONTENT
120. Har-___ (tennis court surface) : TRU
121. Part of a legend : SCALE
122. Hunted for morays : EELED
123. Sides of sectors : RADII
124. Atypical : ODD
125. Lascivious sort : SATYR
126. Some speedsters, for short : SSTS
127. Photographer Adams : ANSEL
128. Seedy type? : RYE
1. Rude thing to drop : FBOMB
2. First lady before Michelle : LAURA
3. Senate's president pro tempore after Patrick Leahy : ORRINHATCH
4. Movie co. behind "Boyhood" and "Transamerica" : IFC
5. He played Bond seven times : MOORE
6. Allows in : ADMITS
7. Not follow orders or guidelines : GOROGUE
8. Time remembered : ERA
9. Phony persona : FRONT
10. Stumblebum : OAF
11. One of two New Testament books : TIMOTHY
12. Like some old schoolhouses : ONEROOM
13. "Scandal" airer : ABC
14. Food for Oliver Twist : GRUEL
15. Major Italian highway : AUTOSTRADA
16. See 69-Down : ITIN
17. Modernists, informally : NEOS
20. Kind of column : TENS
24. Giorgio's god : DIO
25. Like comebacks? : RETRO
32. Brunch pie : QUICHE
33. Food safety org. : USDA
34. Commander's place : HELM
36. Years at the Colosseum : ANNI
39. Christopher ___, tippler in "The Taming of the Shrew" : SLY
41. Earthy color : OCHER
42. "___ asking?" : WHOS
43. Singer Anthony : MARC
44. Metal marble : STEELIE
46. Duchamp's movement : DADA
47. Sci-fi race : ELOI
48. It may come in sheets : RAIN
49. Flaps : ADOS
50. Fourth parts in series of eight : FAS
51. It's a wrap : SARONG
56. Reached, numerically : RANTO
58. Dumas swordsman : ATHOS
59. Arctic weather phenomenon : ICEFOG
60. "I Wanna Be Sedated" rockers : RAMONES
63. ___ Jemison, first African-American woman in space : MAE
64. Tag end? : GEE
65. Didn't move : SAT
66. Some newcomers' study, in brief : ESL
69. With 16-Down, what "stet" means : LEAVE
70. Real-time messaging system : ONLINECHAT
71. ___ piccata : VEAL
72. Move, informally : RELO
73. Three-time All-Star Longoria for the Tampa Bay Rays : EVAN
74. It's good for the long haul : SEMI
75. Lottery winner's cry : IMRICH
76. Mel Blanc, notably : VOICEACTOR
77. Daughter of Nereus : IONE
78. Director Lee : ANG
79. Sucked dry : BLED
85. City on the Brazos River : WACO
86. Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder: Abbr. : AGS
87. Greek summit : OSSA
89. Pit-___ : APAT
91. Penalty for poor service, maybe : NOTIP
92. Colors 1960s-style : TIEDYES
93. Many ski lodges : AFRAMES
94. Like Lhasa apsos : TIBETAN
99. Lhasa apso and others : BREEDS
102. Like polenta : MEALY
103. Some electrical plugs : MALES
104. First string? : ABCD
105. Inc. cover subj. : CEO
106. "Journey to ___," recurring segment on "Sesame Street" : ERNIE
107. Unhip : NERDY
108. Lose, in a way : ELUDE
109. Tousle : MUSS
110. ___ Empire : INCA
116. Pay-view connection : PER
117. Keyboard abbr. : ALT
118. Packers' org.? : NRA
119. Up to, briefly : TIL

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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