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IN CHARACTER

New York Times, Sunday, March 6, 2016

Author:
David J. Kahn
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1813/15/199412/12/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4451224571326
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.5514211
David J. Kahn

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 ... read more

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. ... read more

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.

1
F
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L
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B
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Q
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G
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B
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N
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M
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A
B
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C
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P
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M
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A
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N
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T
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E
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S
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A
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R
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0306 ( 24,225 )
Across
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
Down
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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