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SOMETHING IN THE WATER

New York Times, Sunday, April 10, 2016

Author:
Randolph Ross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1135/12/199111/17/20190
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1.486002
Randolph Ross

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 74 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 103 for Mr. Ross. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Randolph Ross notes:
This puzzle took a few iterations to get it where it was. Placing the various boats, ships, etc above and below the bodies of water was not so easy to do without resorting to lot of junk ... read more

This puzzle took a few iterations to get it where it was. Placing the various boats, ships, etc above and below the bodies of water was not so easy to do without resorting to lot of junk entries.

In my original composition I had THE DEAD SEA with a FLOATER on top of it. If you have ever been there you can actually lie on top of the water because it is so dense. Will saw it as a non-watercraft so FLOATER had to go out. I substituted OILTANKER on top of ARABIAN SEA and worked hard to fill that middle left area with that combination and three long down entries crossing them. The corresponding right middle area with GONDOLA atop GRAND CANAL was also difficult to match up with decent fill.

I started with the UBOAT under the ATLANTIC OCEAN. It's a one-off so I hope that the solvers will get the reason why that's below and not on top of the water.

Looking forward to the responses to this one.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love Randy's use of the big 21x21 canvas. Too often, Sunday puzzles feel to me like an overinflated 15x15. The imagery of a GONDOLA sitting on a GRAND CANAL and a RAFT on the COLORADO ... read more

I love Randy's use of the big 21x21 canvas. Too often, Sunday puzzles feel to me like an overinflated 15x15. The imagery of a GONDOLA sitting on a GRAND CANAL and a RAFT on the COLORADO RIVER is so pretty; a wonderful use of the huge space a Sunday puzzle allows for.

GONDOLA floating on the GRAND CANAL — pretty!

This type of puzzle (with pairs of stacked answers) is so tricky to pull off. In a recent one of similar conceit, Jason and I struggled mightily with the grid skeleton, going through dozens of iterations before finally arriving at something workable. Grid symmetry causes a huge problem — for instance, when you place GONDOLA, that forces you to use a symmetrically-placed seven-letter answer (NO TASTE in today's grid). Each time you force a long slot like that, the grid becomes more constrained. Pretty soon, you run into spots which are overly rigid and even impossible.

Randy does help himself by using a few shorter themers — GRAND CANAL and ARABIAN SEA — which helps reduce overlap between themers. But having to work in the long OIL TANKER and another long symmetrically-placed entry is not easy at all. Randy does so well, incorporating the nice STEEL MILL, along with very few dabs of crossword glue. ATMAN is a tough word to remember for me, but it's legit. ONCLE might be a bit deep into French for some, but it's not hard to figure out. And UNDAM … well, there was bound to be minor crossword glue needed to hold that section together.

I love that there's a lone UBOAT hanging out. It would have been nice to get that one at the very end though, tricking the solver by breaking the established pattern.

Knowing how difficult it is to execute on a puzzle like today's, I was extremely impressed by Randy's work. I wish all Sunday constructors would think as big as Randy did, while taking the care to execute on the concept as well as he did — such strong bonus fill (BALALAIKA!) with only a minimum of gluey bits. Loved it.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0410 ( 24,260 )
Across
1
"Things aren't so bad!" : CHEERUP
8
Memorable mission : ALAMO
13
Napoleon, for one : PASTRY
19
Head of the army? : LATRINE
20
Jerusalem's province, to the Romans : JUDAEA
21
Role for Julia Louis-Dreyfus : ELAINE
22
Iron Man, e.g. : AVENGER
23
Where a 28-Across was often submerged in W.W. II : ATLANTICOCEAN
25
Prefix with comic : SERIO
26
Chinese leader? : SINO
28
See 23-Across : UBOAT
29
More sound : SANER
30
Global supporter of the arts : UNESCO
33
Retailer ___ Taylor : ANN
34
Kind of PC port : USB
37
Grocery chain since 1926 : IGA
38
See 43-Across : RAFT
39
A or O, e.g. : ALER
41
Ready to be drawn : ONTAP
43
Where you might tour the Grand Canyon in a 38-Across : COLORADORIVER
47
See 50-Across : GONDOLA
49
Young hare : LEVERET
50
Where an Italian tourist might ride in a 47-Across : GRANDCANAL
52
Honkers : GEESE
54
"If I Ruled the World" rapper : NAS
56
Heavy metal venue? : STEELMILL
57
Approximately : ORSO
58
Bars frequented at night : ROOSTS
61
Tiny bit : MITE
62
Not, to a Scot : NAE
63
Saloon sounds : HICS
64
Knock over : ROB
65
Animal that an ailurophobe fears : CAT
66
Unimpressive mount : ASS
67
"So ___" : BEIT
68
Where to find Moscow in the U.S.: Abbr. : IDA
69
1993 standoff site : WACO
70
Trembling trees : ASPENS
72
Does some grilling : ASKS
73
See 79-Across : OILTANKER
76
Solo pilot? : HAN
77
Vice ___ : VERSA
79
Where a 73-Across sails loaded with fuel : ARABIANSEA
81
See 85-Across : TRAWLER
84
What a vulgarian has : NOTASTE
85
Place for an 81-Across to catch seafood : CHESAPEAKEBAY
90
[Humph!] : SNORT
91
Put one's foot down : STEP
92
Cowpoke's friend : PARD
93
U.K. award : OBE
94
Yearbook sect. : SRS
95
Political writer Matt : BAI
97
École educator : MAITRE
99
Ticked off : CROSS
101
See 105-Across : FERRY
103
First name on the Supreme Court : RUTH
104
Suite spot, say : HOTEL
105
What a 101-Across travels for some urban commuters : NEWYORKHARBOR
111
James Joyce short story in "Dubliners" : EVELINE
113
Self-image? : AVATAR
114
Time to start walking : AGEONE
115
Campaign poster word : REELECT
116
Not quite : HARDLY
117
"Ain't happening" : NOWAY
118
Investigative pieces : EXPOSES
Down
1
Great work of literature : CLASSIC
2
Try : HAVEAGO
3
"But thy ___ summer shall not fade": Shak. : ETERNAL
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"It's a Wonderful Life" role : ERNIE
5
Attention to detail : RIGOR
6
Article in Le Monde : UNE
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Sell : PERSUADE
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They have belts and coats : AUTOS
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Cholesterol inits. : LDL
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Top of the minors : AAA
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Aid in picking sides : MENU
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Crunchy snack : OATBAR
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Butter ___ (ice cream flavor) : PECAN
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Buckets : ALOT
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It counts as a plate appearance but not as an at-bat, briefly : SAC
16
Trash bag accessory : TIE
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Retrovirus component : RNA
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Appetite : YEN
20
Cabinet member who served all eight years under Bill Clinton : JANETRENO
24
Saturn model with a scientific name : ION
27
Awaiting : INFOR
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Basketball's King James, for one : CAV
32
Cassini of fashion : OLEG
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Let flow again : UNDAM
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Lack of compassion : STONINESS
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Russian relative of a guitar : BALALAIKA
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Party with glow sticks, maybe : RAVE
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Stumbles : ERRS
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Rouen relation : ONCLE
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Makeshift beds : PALLETS
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Bread spreads : OLEOS
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Lawyer's thing : RES
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Lake that's the source of the Mississippi : ITASCA
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Banded rock : GNEISS
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"Waiting for Lefty" playwright : ODETS
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Hindu soul : ATMAN
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Metal grates for grilling : GRIDIRONS
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One-way flight? : ESCALATOR
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Hide away : STASH
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Seven U.S. presidents, by birth : OHIOANS
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Notre Dame football legend : ROCKNE
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They're blown in the winds : OBOES
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Tourist attraction on N.Y.C.'s Fifth Ave. : STPATS
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Charged : RANAT
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Support for ballet dancers : BARRE
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Place for a spare tire : WAIST
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Send into a swoon : ENRAPTURE
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Lifts up a mountain : TBARS
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Geom. shape : RECT
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___ III, inspiration for Dracula : VLAD
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Cry of mock horror : EEK
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"Don't forget about me" : AHEM
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Set off : APART
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Announcement at the end of a long car trip : WEREHERE
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Org. established by President Nixon : EPA
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"Little piggy" holders : BOOTIES
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Lack : ABSENCE
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"Count me in" : YESLETS
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When repeated, 1968 name in the news : SIRHAN
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Generic juice flavor : BERRY
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Scroll holder : ARK
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Choking on a Life Saver, e.g. : IRONY
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Fowl language? : CHEEP
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Rich kid in "Nancy" : ROLLO
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Young Arab : FOAL
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Sant' Gria brand : YAGO
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"I don't think so" : NAH
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Stowe girl : EVA
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Card game for two : WAR
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Financial report abbr. : YTD
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Opposite of FF : REW
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Dangerous pet : BOA
112
Aggravate : VEX

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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