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LOOK WHAT TURNED UP!

New York Times, Sunday, April 12, 2015

Author:
Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
917/5/201011/15/201853
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467172188
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635192
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 38 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Five guesses as to why this huge Monty Python fan put ANTIOCH into the grid. (Three, sir!) Okay, so the Holy Hand Grenade of ANTIOCH, from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' might ... read more

Five guesses as to why this huge Monty Python fan put ANTIOCH into the grid. (Three, sir!)

O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.

Okay, so the Holy Hand Grenade of ANTIOCH, from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," might be a bit too esoteric (sadly). I tend to give Will an alternate clue for these types of answers, and he wisely decided to skip straight to it.

I had a few other theme options I considered, but the deep basketball term BOOMSHAKAL(AKA) for a rim-rattling monster dunk felt a bit too out there (also sadly). Keeping a puzzle accessible to a majority of solvers always has to be one of my main goals, so I sometimes have to tell that devil on my shoulder to keep his trap shut. His usual response:

THE HELL I W(ILL)!

Okay, sometimes I listen to him. He's kind of fun.

Jeff Chen notes:
Seven theme answers which 'turn up,' i.e. they become complete by reversing back into themselves. GLUTEN FREE B becomes GLUTEN FREE B(EER) when you hit B and bounce back upward, thus ... read more

Seven theme answers which "turn up," i.e. they become complete by reversing back into themselves. GLUTEN FREE B becomes GLUTEN FREE B(EER) when you hit B and bounce back upward, thus completing the entry. NOW WHERE WER becomes NOW WHERE WER(E WE), DO EXACTLY AS I (SAY), etc.

What are your favorite GUT BOMBS? (I believe 50% of the "Big N' Tasty" name)

A relatively easy construction (as far as 140-word Sundays go), but finding theme answers was tricky. That is, until I dove back into the world of computer programming, spurred on by Bob Klahn and the needs of our CrosSynergy syndicate. It had been a few years since my last experience with Pascal and C++, so getting started again was quite a struggle. Turns out technology is vastly different from 15 years ago, dang it!

Wrenching myself away from my beloved arrays in favor of "lists" and "dictionaries" proved a bit puzzling, but now that I'm climbing my way up the learning curve, I'm finding Python to be more intuitive, akin to working on a Mac vs. a PC. It's pretty cool to be able to write code to find "all words whose last three letters reversed match the previous three letters" or similar such query.

All in all though, programming is just another tool, in the same way that a Crossword Compiler, or Excel, or even a computer is a tool. Finding that FREE B(EER) and ONE TO (TEN) fit my criteria was a good start, but FREEB and ONETO were much too short to use as themers. Good thing a close friend of mine is on a quest to find decent GLUTEN FREE B(EER)! He and I have done many taste tests, and ON A SCALE FROM ONE TO (TEN), most of them rate about a negative four hundred and twenty nine.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0412 ( 23,896 )
Across
1. Crime lab tool : SWAB
5. Canyon creator : GMC
8. Record number, for short : RPM
11. Butler who was a professional gambler : RHETT
16. Muchacha : CHICA
17. Baseball family name : ALOU
18. Paris accord? : OUI
19. The works? : OEUVRE
20. Rolls up the sleeves and begins : HASAT
21. Hard-to-digest food items, in slang : GUTBOMBS
23. Fruit in some Asian salads : PAPAYA
24. "Gotcha, dude" : IMHIP
25. Eponym of a European capital : ATHENA
26. Prototype detail, briefly : SPEC
28. One of 21 on a die : PIP
29. Opposition call : NAY
30. Great Lakes mnemonic : HOMES
32. Ohio college named after an ancient capital : ANTIOCH
34. Letter that rhymes with three other letters : ETA
35. Musician who co-founded Nutopia : ONO
36. Tournament type : OPEN
37. Something to hold money in : ESCROW
38. Warning to a coder : ERROR
40. Alternative media magazine founder : UTNE
42. Corral : FENCEIN
44. Whoop : SHOUT
45. Finn's friend : SAWYER
47. Musical anagram of AGRA, fittingly : RAGA
48. Nile biter : ASP
50. Like an unbrushed suit, maybe : LINTY
51. One logging in : USER
52. Golden ___ : AGER
54. Skype annoyance : LAG
56. Something to get your mitts on? : OVEN
58. Big name in lean dieting : SPRAT
60. Stuffed : REPLETE
62. Places to meditate : PAGODAS
66. Hightail it : HIE
67. ___ Spring : ARAB
69. Landing place on a bay, for short : SFO
70. "99 Luftballons" pop group : NENA
71. Seville cheer : OLE
72. "Couldn't handle the pressure, man" : ICHOKED
74. Young Clark Kent, e.g. : FARMBOY
76. Title in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" : LIEGE
78. Bill : William :: ___ : José : PEPE
79. Skater Midori : ITO
80. Wasn't square : OWED
82. Cut, in a way : AXED
83. Leans : LISTS
86. P.D. broadcast : APB
88. Cry for attention, maybe : MEOW
90. Roald Dahl won three of these : EDGARS
92. Nail a test : ACEIT
93. Team leader : RUDOLPH
95. Nile biter, for short : CROC
96. Extract by percolation : LEACH
97. Eyes for emoticons : COLONS
98. Owner of StubHub : EBAY
100. Spa specialty, for short : TLC
103. A.C.A. part : ACT
104. Environmental terrorism : ECOTAGE
106. Is an ass? : BRAYS
107. Language along the Mekong : LAO
108. Flight : LAM
109. Soap brand with cocoa butter : TONE
110. Mustier : STALER
112. Cable, e.g. : PAYTV
114. Not digital : ANALOG
116. Do something extravagantly : GOTOTOWN
118. Delight : ELATE
119. Policy on some cruises : NOTIPS
120. Slice of history : ERA
121. Base 10? : TOES
122. X-O-X line in tic-tac-toe, e.g. : LOSER
123. Monopoly holdings : DEEDS
124. Photog's choice : SLR
125. Broadcast inits. since April 1971 : NPR
126. Gifts often received while bowing the head : LEIS
Down
1. One with spirit? : SHAMAN
2. Postcard message : WISHYOUWEREHERE
3. ___ palm : ACAI
4. Line in Gotham : BATPHONE
5. Beverage brewed without barley or wheat : GLUTENFREEBEER
6. Ones found in the closet? : MOTHS
7. Die, say : CUBE
8. Have a heart-to-heart with? : ROMANCE
9. Local, e.g. : PUB
10. Mercury had 26 of them : MISSIONS
11. Becomes an adult : REACHESLEGALAGE
12. Drill sergeant's bark : HUP
13. First lady of the 1940s-'50s : EVAPERON
14. Experiment with something : TRYITOUT
15. Sons of Liberty gathering : TEAPARTY
16. Uniform material : CHINO
17. Peak performance, informally : AGAME
19. Grp. that knows the drill? : OPEC
22. How things may be rated : ONASCALEFROMONETOTEN
27. [Wham!] : POW
31. Setting for a Marx Brothers farce : OPERA
33. Priority system : TRIAGE
37. Class with a Classics unit: Abbr. : ENG
39. Where to see the horn of Africa? : RHINO
41. Model Banks : TYRA
43. Tombstone lawman : EARP
45. ___ bar : SUSHI
46. Certain gelatin : ASPIC
49. Tattooed toon : POPEYE
53. Top-notch : GRADEA
55. Supercollider bit : ATOM
57. Moving vehicle : VAN
59. Wins : TAKESTHETOPSPOT
61. Future atty.'s challenge : LSAT
63. "Follow my command!" : DOEXACTLYASISAY
64. Horatio who wrote the Tattered Tom series : ALGER
65. Progenitors : SEEDS
68. Street cred : REP
70. "What was I talking about before?" : NOWWHEREWEREWE
73. ___ nerve : OPTIC
74. Bone whose name means "clasp" in Latin : FIBULA
75. Big-eyed Betty : BOOP
77. "I hate the Moor" speaker : IAGO
81. Go downhill : DECAY
83. Dreamworld : LALALAND
84. Winter race vehicle : ICECANOE
85. Next one in a row : SEATMATE
87. Some young colleagues : PROTEGES
89. Raised railroads : ELS
91. Drought : DRYSPELL
94. Bright spot? : DOGSTAR
97. Drawback : CON
99. They're raised by farmers : BARNS
101. Eye-openers, of a sort : LATTES
102. Charge at the door, informally : COVER
105. Gear parts : COGS
106. Softly hit fly : BLOOP
111. Memo abbr. : ATTN
113. Palliative plant : ALOE
115. Hat, informally : LID
117. Magic, on scoreboards : ORL

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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