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3.1415926 ...

New York Times, Sunday, March 8, 2015

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 82 Missing: {JQVXZ} Grid has mirror symmetry. This is puzzle # 9 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: Although this puzzle can be solved in Across Lite, the print version contains elements that the software cannot reproduce. We recommend using the PDF, or alternatively one of the other available electronic versions.
Tom McCoy notes:
This puzzle is dedicated to Martin Gardner, one of my all-time favorite authors. It was in his book Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions that I learned about the sort of ... read more

Martin Gardner

This puzzle is dedicated to Martin Gardner, one of my all-time favorite authors. It was in his book Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions that I learned about the sort of mnemonic found in this puzzle. He also created an annotated version of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, so I associate any Lewis Carroll reference (including my favorite theme answer, 26-Across) with him. I highly recommend his work to anyone who likes brainteasers, math, or wordplay.

Jill Denny notes:
First impression of the empty grid: pi. Second impression of the empty grid: Stonehenge! <insert obligatory Spinal Tap reference> A win-win situation. Graphic grids tend to ... read more

First impression of the empty grid: pi.

Second impression of the empty grid: Stonehenge! <insert obligatory Spinal Tap reference>

A win-win situation.

Graphic grids tend to lend themselves to left-right symmetry for obvious reasons. I particularly like how PI appears to be bursting through a wall, à la Kool-Aid Man, though this makes for a more septate grid.

I count five variations on a theme of PI:

  • The central black-squares PI formation in the grid
  • FILLING in the middle of the grid's PI formation
  • Five flickering TT/PI rebus squares (reading as TT in the across direction and PI in the down)
  • Flickering rebus squares are roughly arranged in a PI formation (sort of)
  • Mnemonic for the first eight digits of PI — HOW I WISH I COULD CALCULATE PI EASILY — where the number of letters in each word corresponds to a digit of PI

Packing in so many thematic layers is an impressive feat. I love how vibrant many of the answers are, and they are all well within the common parlance. I'm looking at you, ROTTEN EGG, MAD HATTER, GUILT TRIPS, UTOPIA.

When derelict buildings grow beyond the EYESORE(S) stage: the feral houses of Detroit.

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TT
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0308 ( 23,861 )
Across
1. Exploit, e.g. : ACT
4. Mountain cat : PUMA
8. All-___ : PRO
11. Careen : TEAR
15. "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" band : REM
18. Thickness : PLY
19. Subject of a prophecy in Genesis : ESAU
20. Ad ___ : REP
21. Eponymous Indian tribe : ERIE
22. Cry on the bridge : AYE
23. The last one in, perhaps : ROTTENEGG
25. Toledo-to-Akron dir. : ESE
26. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" asker : MADHATTER
28. Move quickly, as clouds : SCUD
29. Shames into action : GUILTTRIPS
32. Puts on : ADDS
33. Darlings : DEARS
34. Cross : IRRITABLE
35. Confuse : BEFOG
37. Capital near the 60th parallel : OSLO
38. Sushi coating, maybe : SESAMESEEDS
40. Currency in Turkey : LIRA
41. Bully on "The Simpsons" : NELSON
43. "___ no doubt" : THERES
45. Mess : STY
46. 2009 Newbery-winning author Gaiman : NEIL
49. Where you might exchange tender for tenders : KFC
52. Something off the top of your head? : HAIR
54. Particularly: Abbr. : ESP
55. Make content : SATE
56. El Amazonas, e.g. : RIO
57. Hole punchers : AWLS
58. Heart-to-heart, e.g. : CHAT
62. Shaving ___ : KIT
63. Wood in Lucius Malfoy's wand : ELM
64. Chum : PAL
65. Setting for part of "Frankenstein" : ALPS
69. With 94- and 72-Across, a mnemonic for the first eight digits of [symbol in the middle of the grid] : HOWIWISH
71. XV years before the Battle of Hastings : MLI
72. See 69-Across : PIEASILY
74. "I" strain? : EGOMANIA
75. Jeremy of the N.B.A. : LIN
76. Like much of Italy in 700 B.C. : ETRUSCAN
77. Encrusted : CAKED
78. Atop : LYINGON
81. ___ Bay, site of a historic Admiral Perry visit of 1853 : TOKYO
82. Israeli diet : KNESSET
85. Disquietude : ANGST
86. "Carry on" : PROCEED
88. It never starts with 666: Abbr. : SSN
89. Beast imagined in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" : BOAR
91. "That makes sense now" : ISEE
93. Practice runners: Abbr. : DRS
94. See 69-Across : ICOULDCALCULATE
101. Trips up? : ASCENTS
103. Computing pioneer Lovelace : ADA
104. Agitates : STIRSUP
107. It's revolting : MUTINY
108. One way of learning, it's said : OSMOSIS
111. Parish head : RECTOR
113. Belch : ERUCT
114. Risky venture : CRAPSHOOT
116. Cropped up : AROSE
117. Snitch : TATTLE
118. Fabled 90-Down : HARE
119. Needle case : ETUI
120. Like two lowercase letters of the alphabet : DOTTED
121. Mormon V.I.P. : ELDER
122. English author Blyton : ENID
123. 1/2, for one : DATE
124. Brings around : SWAYS
Down
1. Bank inits. : APR
2. Not far apart : CLOSESET
3. As is usual : TYPICALLY
4. Remains unsettled : PENDS
5. Exploit : USE
6. Smith of "Downton Abbey" : MAGGIE
7. Portends : AUGURS
8. Heat, informally : PRELIM
9. Breather : RESPITE
10. Stock of certain companies? : OPERAS
11. - : TEMPLE
12. Like the previous clue (which originally read "Place of Jewish worship") : ERASED
13. Red Cross work : AID
14. Place to get clean : REHAB
15. How questions may be asked : RAPIDFIRE
16. Derelict buildings, e.g. : EYESORES
17. Eau holder : MER
24. Money in la banque or la banca : EUROS
27. "Rolling in the Deep" singer : ADELE
30. Bank inits. : IRA
31. "Where would ___ without you?" : IBE
33. Puts on : DONS
36. [Good heavens!] : GASP
38. Enter through the back door, say : SNEAKIN
39. Frat Pack member Ben : STILLER
42. Slip-___ : ONS
44. Slugger's stat, for short : HRS
47. "Who goes there?" response : ITISI
48. Deadly : LETHAL
49. One end of the hotline : KREMLIN
50. Pie part (that's appropriately placed in this puzzle?) : FILLING
51. Arrivals : COMINGS
52. Betide : HAPPEN
53. Be in store for : AWAIT
58. Threatens, as a king : CHECKS
59. "___ Heroes" : HOGANS
60. Like a body no longer at rest? : AWOKEN
61. x : TIMES
65. N.A.A.C.P. or N.C.A.A. part: Abbr. : ASSOC
66. Trounced : LICKED
67. Ladies' man : PLAYER
68. Church assemblies : SYNODS
70. Tobacco chewers' chews : WADS
73. With 79-Down, place to get spare parts : AUTO
79. See 73-Down : YARD
80. Ear-related : OTIC
83. Key material : EBONY
84. Ballyhoo : TOUT
86. Hide : PELT
87. Put on again : REAIR
90. Race loser : ALSORAN
92. Solve : SUSSOUT
94. It always points down : ICICLE
95. Football hiker : CENTER
96. Bivouacked : CAMPED
97. Brouhahas : ADOS
98. Struck (out at) : LASHED
99. Escalator parts : TREADS
100. What money can be kept in : ESCROW
101. Ear-related : AURAL
102. Cry exclaimed while facepalming : STUPID
105. More work : UTOPIA
106. Actress Parker : POSEY
107. Parcel (out) : METE
109. Rani's wear : SARI
110. Bit : IOTA
112. Chianti and Beaujolais : REDS
114. What's that in Italy? : CHE
115. Train track support : TIE

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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