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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.

1
A
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C
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T
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P
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R
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A
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R
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TT
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M
A
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H
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A
TT
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G
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TT
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P
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B
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B
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F
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G
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P
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TT
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H
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D
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TT
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D
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S
W
A
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S
© 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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?