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EXPANDED WORLDVIEW

New York Times, Sunday, April 17, 2016

Author:
Howard Barkin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
57/23/201411/23/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1101101
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.66100
Howard Barkin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {Z} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Barkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Howard Barkin notes:
My favorite types of Sunday crosswords are those involving some sort of trickery, unusual gimmick, or other 'outside the box' features. So of course when I sat down to write one myself, I ... read more

My favorite types of Sunday crosswords are those involving some sort of trickery, unusual gimmick, or other "outside the box" features. So of course when I sat down to write one myself, I did pretty much none of that.

Instead, this puzzle is a relatively straightforward theme with a focus on clean, lively fill. It won't wow you with meta-level discovery or a maximally perfect, algorithmic-generated theme set; it simply aims to be fun.

My hope is that for at least one solver (or team) out there, this is the first Sunday puzzle they successfully complete. For the rest of us, I hope you enjoy the fill along the way. If it's not to your taste, there's always the promise of a new puzzle tomorrow. Happy solving!

RING ANNOUNCER notes:
IN THE RED CORNER: the new American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Champion, Howard Barkin! After recently pulling a stunning upset of the six-time defending champion, Dan Feyer, he's ... read more

IN THE RED CORNER: the new American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Champion, Howard Barkin! After recently pulling a stunning upset of the six-time defending champion, Dan Feyer, he's accepted our challenge: to go head to head, mano a mano, against a competitor looking to fry his neurons, to jolt his synapses, to short-circuit his wiring.

The fearsome challenger sits IN THE BLUE CORNER, epic electric energy emitting in a bluster of boastful braggadocio. It's Dr. Fill, the crossword solving computer, birthed by Matt Ginsberg. Not only has the good doctor challenged the reigning champion of the world ... but he's challenged him on A PUZZLE HOWARD HIMSELF WROTE. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet!

The competitors face off, and the bell rings! Howard is off like a shot, quickly filling in the northwest corner, aided by his knowledge of the first theme answer. He heads into the next section ... and the Doctor is done. The final results: Dr. Fill: no wrong letters, finishing well under a minute, even with time alloted to check his answers. Howard: Ah. Huh.

Well, Howard is a better conversationalist. So there.

Jeff Chen notes:
Congrats to our new ACPT champ! Neat to see one of the top speed solvers diving back into the construction game. Fun crossword, perhaps some solvers' first completeable Sunday, as ... read more

Congrats to our new ACPT champ! Neat to see one of the top speed solvers diving back into the construction game.

GOOGLE EARTH, a fun tool that I totally don't use to spy on my neighbors

Fun crossword, perhaps some solvers' first completeable Sunday, as Howard mentioned. I like the image Howard gives us, starting with a HOUSE, zooming back to a STREET, a BLOCK, CITY, STATE, NATION, to (GOOGLE) EARTH. Reminds me of the zoom out sequence in Contact, showing us how small we really are. And how nice that GOOGLE EARTH not only ends the sequence with EARTH, but GOOGLE EARTH is a tool that allows you to do that zoom out.

A couple of rough patches, perhaps a little more than we usually see on a Sunday. I tend to gloss over the ETE, HGT kind of stuff, but the plural EBONS and the crossing gluey bits in IDIO / EDUC are tougher to ignore. And AGRIN … because the starting A tends to come in useful for construction, we get a lot of AGLOW, ABOIL, ABED. Not great though.

Still, Howard does well to give us some good bonus fill, from BLOWTORCH to TIME LAPSE to SOAP OPERA to IM A MESS. Even the mid-length BIG GUN and PUTSCH are assets. For a theme that's nothing mind-blowing, I think about six pieces of good bonus fill help create enough snazz for me to be satisfied — Howard's definitely done that here. I really appreciate when a newer constructor takes the care and effort to work in such goodies. I imagine that solving thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of crosswords helps Howard stay in touch with what is "good fill" and what's just neutral filler material.

It's so neat to see consumers of puzzles become producers. Here's hoping we see more from not just Howard, but the other top solvers too! I'm looking at you, David Plotkin and Dan Feyer.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0417 ( 24,267 )
Across
1. Kind of chip : NACHO
6. Novelist Tillie who wrote "Tell Me a Riddle" : OLSEN
11. 1950s sci-fi terror, with "the" : BLOB
15. Pro baller-turned-commentator for N.B.A. on TNT : SHAQ
19. Upper reaches : ETHER
20. Last method of death in Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" : NOOSE
21. Letter sign-off : LOVE
22. Modern movement inits. : LGBT
23. *1978 movie in which Kevin Bacon made his film debut : ANIMALHOUSE
25. Minicar, say : ONESEATER
27. Makeup for a "Wizard of Oz" character? : TIN
28. Cooperate (with) : LIAISE
29. Didn't exist : WERENT
30. Sufficient, in brief : ENUF
32. *Having it made : ONEASYSTREET
35. Deg. in the boardroom : MBA
38. Fails to brake in time for, maybe : REARENDS
40. "I see what you did there!" : OHO
41. Comments from a crossword kibitzer : ANSWERS
43. It's sold by the yard : ALE
44. If all else fails : ATWORST
47. Actor Morales : ESAI
48. *Progress preventer : STUMBLINGBLOCK
53. Some Vegas attractions : FIGHTS
55. Prophet whose name means "deliverance" : HOSEA
56. Southern Italian port : BARI
57. Lock combination? : HAIRDO
59. Helmeted deity : ARES
60. Cravings : DESIRES
63. Sing loudly : BELTOUT
67. Non-___ (modern food label) : GMO
68. *1990s-2000s HBO hit : SEXANDTHECITY
71. A, in Amiens : UNE
72. Feeling : SENSATE
74. "Chilean" fish : SEABASS
75. Typewriter type : PICA
76. Family symbols : CRESTS
79. Mexican sauce : MOLE
80. "Natural" way to serve a roast : AUJUS
81. "Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette," e.g. : RENOIR
84. *Laos or Vietnam : COMMUNISTSTATE
88. Start to -matic : IDIO
89. "Oh jeez, don't look at me" : IMAMESS
90. Sue Grafton's "___ for Ricochet" : RIS
91. Result of overexposure? : SUNBURN
94. Where phone nos. might be stored : PDA
95. Burst through, as a barrier : BREACHED
100. Prefix meaning 118-Across : ECO
101. *Sobriquet for ardent Boston fans : REDSOXNATION
105. Tetra- plus two : HEXA
106. Superficially repair : TAPEUP
107. Things always kept on hand? : DIGITS
109. Quick jump in the pool : DIP
110. Like some photography : TIMELAPSE
113. *Popular app that can view any of the places named at the ends of the answers to the starred clues : GOOGLEEARTH
115. Tippy-top : APEX
116. Disturbance : STIR
117. Bach composition : FUGUE
118. See 100-Across : GREEN
119. Shock to the system : JOLT
120. "___-Team" : THEA
121. Blackjack option : STAND
122. "Duck Dynasty" network : AANDE
Down
1. More likely to win a handwriting award : NEATER
2. When many start the workday : ATNINE
3. Achebe who wrote "Things Fall Apart" : CHINUA
4. Designer line? : HEM
5. Like some medication : ORAL
6. Available : ONHAND
7. Sarges' superiors : LOOIES
8. March composer : SOUSA
9. Curves seen in sports car ads : ESSES
10. Formerly : NEE
11. Instrument in a metalworker's union? : BLOWTORCH
12. Soloist? : LONER
13. Lose control at the buffet : OVEREAT
14. Appear : BESEEN
15. Blind part : SLAT
16. Elev. : HGT
17. Prez on a penny : ABE
18. 15 mins. of an N.F.L. game : QTR
24. Rich Richie : LIONEL
26. Tolkien creatures : ENTS
31. Purchase at an optometrist's : FRAMES
33. Cry of pain : YOWL
34. "Vamoose!" : SHOO
35. Work well together : MESH
36. Seasoned pork sausage, informally : BRAT
37. "No warranty" : ASIS
39. Third-largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia : ELBA
42. "___ the Beat" (1982 Go-Go's hit) : WEGOT
44. Broadly smiling : AGRIN
45. Gang in "Grease" with an automotive name : TBIRDS
46. Reggae precursor : SKA
48. Fetches : SHAGS
49. See 112-Down : TORME
50. Deliver to, as a pickup line : USEON
51. Agile mountain climbers : IBEXES
52. Explorer's grp. : NASA
53. Guitar bars : FRETS
54. One way to sit by : IDLY
58. Storklike waders : IBISES
60. Dissuade : DETER
61. La saison chaude : ETE
62. P.I., in old slang : SHAMUS
64. Board displaying the alphabet : OUIJA
65. Like some DVD-exclusive releases : UNCUT
66. Mess with, as hair or siblings : TEASE
68. What covers parts of 80-Down? : SARI
69. Poetic shades : EBONS
70. L.A. locale : CALI
73. Cartoon Great Dane, informally : SCOOB
75. Coup d'état : PUTSCH
77. Cable channel whose first initial stands for its founder : TCM
78. Drama that can go on for years : SOAPOPERA
80. See 68-Down : ASIA
81. Order in the court : RISE
82. Cabinet dept. : EDUC
83. El ___ : NINO
85. The year 2510 : MMDX
86. Average : MEAN
87. Thirty, en français : TRENTE
89. Thorough : INDEPTH
92. River past Orsk : URAL
93. Meal : REPAST
95. Mogul : BIGGUN
96. Churned : ROILED
97. Star of Hitchcock's "The Birds" : HEDREN
98. Egressed : EXITED
99. Nymph turned into a laurel tree, in Greek myth : DAPHNE
102. "Calvin and Hobbes" girl : SUSIE
103. Tennis situation after deuce : ADOUT
104. Border county of New York or Pennsylvania : TIOGA
106. "omg" or "lol," say : TEXT
108. Phantasy Star maker : SEGA
110. Indian mausoleum opening? : TAJ
111. N.Y.S.E. debut : IPO
112. With 49-Down, singer with the autobiography "It Wasn't All Velvet" : MEL
113. Guys' dates, informally : GFS
114. ___ Pacis (Roman monument) : ARA

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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