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LOOK WHAT TURNED UP!

New York Times, Sunday, April 12, 2015

Author:
Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
987/5/20105/16/201959
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2578172498
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636212
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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