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EXPANDED WORLDVIEW

New York Times, Sunday, April 17, 2016

Author:
Howard Barkin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/23/20144/12/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1202111
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64100
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
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Sarges' superiors : LOOIES
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March composer : SOUSA
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Curves seen in sports car ads : ESSES
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Formerly : NEE
11
Instrument in a metalworker's union? : BLOWTORCH
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Soloist? : LONER
13
Lose control at the buffet : OVEREAT
14
Appear : BESEEN
15
Blind part : SLAT
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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
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"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
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Explorer's grp. : NASA
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Guitar bars : FRETS
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One way to sit by : IDLY
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Storklike waders : IBISES
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Dissuade : DETER
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La saison chaude : ETE
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P.I., in old slang : SHAMUS
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Board displaying the alphabet : OUIJA
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Like some DVD-exclusive releases : UNCUT
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Mess with, as hair or siblings : TEASE
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What covers parts of 80-Down? : SARI
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Poetic shades : EBONS
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L.A. locale : CALI
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Cartoon Great Dane, informally : SCOOB
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Coup d'état : PUTSCH
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Cable channel whose first initial stands for its founder : TCM
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Drama that can go on for years : SOAPOPERA
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See 68-Down : ASIA
81
Order in the court : RISE
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Cabinet dept. : EDUC
83
El ___ : NINO
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The year 2510 : MMDX
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Average : MEAN
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Thirty, en français : TRENTE
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Thorough : INDEPTH
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River past Orsk : URAL
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Meal : REPAST
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Mogul : BIGGUN
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Churned : ROILED
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Star of Hitchcock's "The Birds" : HEDREN
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Egressed : EXITED
99
Nymph turned into a laurel tree, in Greek myth : DAPHNE
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"Calvin and Hobbes" girl : SUSIE
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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
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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.

Found bugs or have suggestions?