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INITIAL DESCRIPTION

New York Times, Sunday, April 2, 2017

Author:
Jerry Miccolis
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
37/17/201611/14/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
Jerry Miccolis

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 75 Missing: {JQX} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Miccolis. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jerry Miccolis notes:
I've long been fascinated with self-referential stuff, from the mildly amusing (e.g., the Liar's Paradox, 'This statement is false'), to the visually dazzling (Escher's 'Drawing ... read more

I've long been fascinated with self-referential stuff, from the mildly amusing (e.g., the Liar's Paradox, "This statement is false"), to the visually dazzling (Escher's "Drawing Hands," "Print Gallery," etc.), to the deeply troubling (Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem and its mathematical foundation-rattling), to the cosmically profound (Wheeler's Participatory Anthropic Principle of the universe, and the like).

While on the amusing side, I had stumbled upon self-referencing acronyms — so-called "apronyms," or "aptonyms." It recently occurred to me, "What great fodder for a crossword!" My first submission had five of them, including a few that Will wasn't that crazy about (e.g., ENERGETIC LITTLE FELLOW). But he and Joel were sufficiently intrigued that they offered to workshop the idea with me.

I shared a bunch more of my favorites, culled over time from various sources and my own addled brain. With Will and Joel adding their deft touches to a couple (A TOME LOCATING A STREET became AID TO LOCATE A STREET, for example), we ultimately landed on the six you see. Squeezing in six of such length made it challenging to keep the fill lively, and meant having to lose payoff entries such as the four-theme-word-crossing SELF-REFERENTIAL (and thus settling for the more subtle reveal in 69- and 120-Across), but I was very pleased with the final result and hope you had fun with it.

Once again, it was a huge pleasure working with Will and Joel. I was happy to see so many of my clues survive their expert and uncompromising editor's scalpel. It was also gratifying to sneak in a reference to our youngest grandniece, ABIGAIL, who I hope will appreciate the "tribute" when she learns to read.

Overall, I was sufficiently encouraged by the almost simultaneous acceptance of this and a not-yet-published weekday puzzle submission, after a disappointingly steady run of (however gracious and constructive) rejections following my "beginner's luck" first submission last year, that I think I'll stick with this new-found hobby/budding passion of mine for a while longer and see how it goes. Besides, Beebo (Abby) has quite a few siblings and cousins who may demand equal time.

Jeff Chen notes:
Jerry wrote to me with this idea a while back. I thought it had potential, but I felt it was too easy to make theme phrases using just about any short word. Without something to link them ... read more

Jerry wrote to me with this idea a while back. I thought it had potential, but I felt it was too easy to make theme phrases using just about any short word. Without something to link them all in some interesting way, I estimated only a medium chance of acceptance.

Shows what I know!

THREE ROLLED INTO ONE was my favorite. It sounds natural, and it's a nice description of TRIO. It's not perfect, as "rolled" feels off compared to "harmonized." But it gave me a smile.

AID TO LOCATE A STREET worked much better than the original Jerry proposed, but it did feel like an awkward dictionary definition. And does anyone call MARS a SPHERE? (Maybe poets?) And wouldn't one say SWIMMER WITH (AN) ARCHED NECK? (Says the annoying grammarian in me.)

Anyone have natural-sounding ones they've personally made up? I'll publish the best one below.

Any Sunday 140-word puzzle is difficult to build with smoothness and snazziness. Jerry gives himself a slightly easier than average task, incorporating only six themers (most have seven or more these days).

Jerry does a good job of spacing out his themers — note how there are at least two rows of space between each pair. He also uses left-right alternation — look at the placement of MOSTLY ARID RED SPHERE and AID TO LOCATE A STREET — a strategy that minimizes overlap between themers.

Mostly decent fill, although I wish Jerry had gone up to 140 words (he uses 138) to smooth out the north section. That ABOLLA / DOTARDS crossing … both are words that I'd worry about as a constructor. I hate eliciting grumbling from solvers. Crossing them together accentuates their presence, if not making for an unfair crossing.

As a solver, I don't mind some minor IOC, DAR, ECUA — short offenders that are figure-out-able — but with the addition of EVAH, ATNOS, TARARA, RAPA, etc. the crossword glue dragged down my solve. I would have liked to see a revision for better overall smoothness. Jerry's a hard worker — I'm confident that his next puzzle will have less crossword glue.

Overall, I liked that the concept spurred me on to think about what would make for some perfect examples.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0402 ( 24,617 )
Across
1
Ascribes, with "up" : CHALKS
7
Title film character played by Tyler Perry : MADEA
12
Hails : SALUTES
19
Showy gymnastics maneuver : AERIAL
20
Togalike Roman cloak : ABOLLA
22
In an attentive manner : CLOSELY
23
SWAN : SWIMMERWITHARCHEDNECK
26
Crunchy green vegetable : SNAPPEA
27
Profitable : GAINFUL
28
Sportscaster Johnson : ERNIE
29
Show up : APPEAR
31
Wet blanket? : DEW
33
They contain libidos : IDS
34
MARS : MOSTLYARIDREDSPHERE
43
Largest city of Yemen : SANAA
44
French region now part of the Grand Est : ALSACE
45
Ally (with) : SIDE
46
Hershey product similar to a Heath bar : SKOR
47
Part of a domain name : DOT
49
Gists : NUBS
51
Foreboding atmosphere : MIASMA
55
ATLAS : AIDTOLOCATEASTREET
60
Fixed fee : SETRATE
63
Spa sound : AAH
64
"Once in Love With ___" : AMY
65
Objectivist Rand : AYN
66
Fat substitute brand : OLEAN
67
Pride parade letters : LGBT
69
Self-referential : META
71
Fifth-century pope dubbed "the Great" : STLEO
73
An evergreen : FIR
74
Martinique, par exemple : ILE
75
Exist : ARE
76
Musical instruments that lie flat : ZITHERS
78
TRIO : THREEROLLEDINTOONE
84
Jose ___ (tequila brand) : CUERVO
85
___ the Explorer : DORA
86
Chapel Hill sch. : UNC
87
It's a long story : SAGA
91
Squealed : SANG
93
Really bothers : NAGSAT
96
Drew useful material from : MINED
97
OKAY : OTHERWISEKNOWNASYES
101
Fiery end? : ASH
103
___ es Salaam : DAR
104
Of a heart chamber : ATRIAL
105
Direct : STEER
108
Stop, in sailor's lingo : HEAVETO
112
Shudder of emotion : FRISSON
117
WASP : WINGEDANDSTINGINGPEST
120
Opening letters? : ACRONYM
121
One of the Wahlbergs : DONNIE
122
One way to pay : INCASH
123
Introversion : SHYNESS
124
Idol worshiper : PAGAN
125
Yoga poses : ASANAS
Down
1
Musical Mama : CASS
2
Cut : HEWN
3
Something delivered by a diva : ARIA
4
Droopy : LIMP
5
Capital of Uganda : KAMPALA
6
Nearly out? : SLEEPY
7
Gullet : MAW
8
Second first lady : ABIGAIL
9
Foolish oldsters : DOTARDS
10
K thru 12 : ELHI
11
King who spoke at Kennedy's inaugural ball : ALAN
12
Lugs : SCHLEPS
13
Samuel Adams, e.g. : ALE
14
Rich supply : LODE
15
Natl. Guard counterpart : USNR
16
Small, as Beanie Babies : TEENIE
17
1961 title role for Charlton Heston : ELCID
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A comic called Wanda : SYKES
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Burglar frightener : ARF
24
___ Nui (Easter Island) : RAPA
25
Mooers' mouthfuls : CUDS
30
Muse of lyric poetry : ERATO
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Flight of fancy : WHIMSY
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Publisher's pile: Abbr. : MSS
35
___ Park, Ill. : OAK
36
Commercial lead-in to Caps : SNO
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"___ Boom-De-Ay" : TARARA
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Certain house ... or house dressing : RANCH
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Land next to Peru: Abbr. : ECUA
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Obligation : DEBT
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Drop a line, say : EDIT
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Raise : REAR
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Banned insecticide : DDT
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Desdemona's husband, in opera : OTELLO
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Candidate's goal : SEAT
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Bobby of the Black Panthers : SEALE
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Stephenie who wrote the "Twilight" series : MEYER
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Periodic table figs. : ATNOS
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Actor Holm : IAN
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Where cultures thrive? : LAB
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Horse bit : OAT
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Wonder Woman is one : AMAZON
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City, but not county, leader? : SOFTC
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Yale of Yale University : ELIHU
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La ___ (notre planète) : TERRE
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Neuter : GELD
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Med. scan : MRI
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Poetic time : EEN
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Stop: Abbr. : STN
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That life evolves, to Darwin : THESIS
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Pressed : IRONED
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Apothegm : ADAGE
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Global sports org. : IOC
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German for "first" : ERST
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Cole Porter's "Well, Did You ___?" : EVAH
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Actress Anderson : LONI
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They may match presidential administrations : ERAS
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Train : TUTOR
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Nonspecific amount : ANY
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Mild exclamation : GEE
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Supplemental work for actors : ADS
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Golden ___ (General Mills cereal) : GRAHAMS
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Winter Olympics activity : SKATING
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Willa Cather's "My ___" : ANTONIA
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Bad-mouths : MALIGNS
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Writer who coined the term "banana republic" (1904) : OHENRY
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Drab songbird : WREN
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Airport amenity : WIFI
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Realm chronicled by C. S. Lewis : NARNIA
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___ expected (predictably) : ASWAS
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1991 Wimbledon champ Michael : STICH
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Ghostbuster Spengler : EGON
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___ Préval, two-time president of Haiti : RENE
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Say further : ADD
110
Brandy grade, briefly : VSOP
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Volcano at the meeting point of the African and Eurasian plates : ETNA
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Pet protection agcy. : SPCA
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White House spokesman Spicer : SEAN
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Greek peak : OSSA
116
Some degrees : NTHS
118
Bad start? : DYS
119
Col.'s superior : GEN

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?