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PREDICTABLE PARTINGS

New York Times, Sunday, April 27, 2014

Author:
John Lampkin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
912/15/20108/22/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2203011
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.58001
John Lampkin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Lampkin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
John Lampkin notes:
When I started constructing six years ago my goal was to land a Sunday NYT. At last! My success is no doubt due to the fact that I recently gave up all impure thoughts. It might also be ... read more

When I started constructing six years ago my goal was to land a Sunday NYT. At last! My success is no doubt due to the fact that I recently gave up all impure thoughts. It might also be due to the 12 theme entries and 122 theme squares but one never really knows for sure, does one.

The seed was TOOKOFF [The ecdysiast ...] I was then pleasantly surprised to discover how many idiomatic ways there are to depart, but just enough to make for a tight theme. Now that my goal is achieved it seems safe enough to revert to impure thoughts, yes?

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun Sunday puzzle, using 'parting lines' clued for the appropriate profession. My favorite was [The demolitionist ...] BLEW THE JOINT. [The civil engineer...] HIT THE ROAD also made me ... read more

Fun Sunday puzzle, using "parting lines" clued for the appropriate profession. My favorite was [The demolitionist ...] BLEW THE JOINT. [The civil engineer...] HIT THE ROAD also made me chuckle, although I would have loved it if it had been clued to the Incredible Hulk. HULK SMASH is my go-to phrase, plus it would have been hilarious to see [The Incredible Hulk ...] in the NYT.

Good job with the layout today, not an easy task to pull together a group of themers with widely varying length. It's often very difficult to use short themers, because they tend to get lost within the noise of the puzzle. But the way the theme clues worked, with the [(Profession) ...] made it really clear which ones were themers and which weren't. Nice.

Well constructed Sunday puzzle. I estimate that Sunday puzzles are roughly three to five times harder to put together than a weekday, given the bigger palette and the higher average word length that Will's specifications dictate. Needing to settle for a few ugly entries is more common than it is in a weekday puzzle. So to have just a few REHEAL, REGREW, SYSTS, OLIO, I ROAM type entries shows the care John put into his gridwork. Even better, he's spread those entries around, not allowing any one section carry too much burden.

Note John's spacing. Eight long themers are not easy to work around (not to mention the four shorties!). But John does really well, placing two rows between each pair of long themers — this spacing almost always works better than just a single row in between. The middle of the grid could have presented a challenge, but John saves the shortest of his long themers for this spot, allowing good spacing between all four of them. Professional layout, that it is.

I did have a lot of trouble in one spot, but that had more to do with the cluing than the grid. IRAE crossing ARLEN usually wouldn't be too bad, in that IRAE is clued so often as ["Dies ___"] that I can fill it in automatically, without even fully comprehending it. And ARLEN Specter is familiar enough, but I find it tough to remember the difference between ARLEN and ARDEN, and ALLEN seemed like it could be that composer. It's probably a fair crossing for many solvers, but it left me a little crabby. Not that this is wrong or right, but the effect of crabbiness was what it was. Perhaps it's a good lesson to me, to actually look up things and not take them for granted!

It usually just takes a few great clues to make me overlook some flaws, and [Where auto racers retire?] for PITS and [Current amount] for AMPERE did it for me. I especially love the latter, in that it totally misdirects from the straightforward electrical measurement for a current, making you think about how much you have in your pocket, or how much the current tally is.

Some themers worked well for me, some felt a bit forced, but overall an enjoyable puzzle. Plus, I learned the term "ecdysiast"! What a fanciful word for that, er, profession.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0427 ( 23,546 )
Across
1
Docks : PIERS
6
Fill : SATE
10
Where auto racers retire? : PITS
14
Bayonets, say : STABS
19
"That Old Black Magic" composer : ARLEN
20
Bit of riding gear : CROP
21
Big acronym in energy : OPEC
22
Actress Parker : POSEY
23
The paparazzo ... : WASGONEINAFLASH
26
Día de San Valentín flowers : ROSAS
27
Catchy pop ditties : EARCANDY
28
Back from vacation, say : RESTED
30
"Santa Baby" singer : KITT
31
New York City's ___ River : EAST
32
Bad points : CONS
33
Division in biology : MITOSIS
35
The demolitionist ... : BLEWTHEJOINT
40
Fund-raising event : BENEFIT
41
Simple tune : AIR
42
Roll in a disaster supply kit : DUCTTAPE
44
Christmas wrapper? : ELF
45
High-toned : CLASSY
49
U.P.S. driver assignments: Abbr. : RTES
50
Knock down a peg : ABASE
52
Knock over : ROB
55
The civil engineer ... : HITTHEROAD
57
Grab (onto) : GLOM
58
One heading to the cape? : TORO
59
Kitchen tool : RICER
60
The lingerie manufacturer ... : SLIPPEDAWAY
63
Queen, e.g. : MONARCH
66
Emulate Harry Connick Jr. : CROON
68
___ City, 1939 film locale : EMERALD
69
The chicken farmer ... : FLEWTHECOOP
71
"___ around around around around" (repeated line in Dion and the Belmonts' "The Wanderer") : IROAM
72
Suffers : AILS
73
Supporting force : ALLY
74
The sound technician ... : MADETRACKS
79
Scale part : SOL
80
"The Jungle Book" bear : BALOO
82
Gala : FETE
83
Fund for a third party : ESCROW
84
"Whew!" : MAN
85
Faultless : UNERRING
88
Dubai's federation: Abbr. : UAE
89
Maximally hip : COOLEST
92
The film director ... : QUITTHESCENE
96
Range of understanding : PURVIEW
97
Prankster's patsy : BUTT
98
Between continents, say : ASEA
99
Magazine founder Eric : UTNE
100
Execute perfectly : DOTOAT
102
Motivates : INSPIRES
106
Some hibernators : TOADS
108
The soda jerk ... : RANLICKETYSPLIT
111
Instruct : TUTOR
112
Twosome : DUET
113
Comic's sidekick : FOIL
114
Free-for-all : MELEE
115
Trial figure : STENO
116
Houston pro, informally : STRO
117
Just : ONLY
118
Showplace? : STAGE
Down
1
Pet door opener : PAW
2
Roman "of wrath" : IRAE
3
"Lohengrin" lady : ELSA
4
Greened up, perhaps : REGREW
5
Winter vehicle : SNOCAT
6
Like many candles : SCENTED
7
Xeric : ARID
8
Commercial tiger's name : TONY
9
Oil spill-monitoring org. : EPA
10
Cornmeal dish : POLENTA
11
"Not for me" : IPASS
12
Trial : TEST
13
Word with color or rhyme : SCHEME
14
Origin of a stream: Abbr. : SPR
15
The ecdysiast ... : TOOKOFF
16
Birthplace of the Franciscan order : ASSISI
17
The percussionist ... : BEATIT
18
Operating procedures: Abbr. : SYSTS
24
Poet who wrote "So Thomas Edison / Never drank his medicine" : NASH
25
Leads, as a band : FRONTS
29
More than snacks : DINES
32
In a footnote, say : CITED
34
Prefix with -port : TELE
35
"St. John Passion" composer : BACH
36
Actress Taylor of "Mystic Pizza" : LILI
37
Quod ___ faciendum : ERAT
38
Panel member : JUROR
39
Twice tetra- : OCTA
40
Monk's grooves : BEBOP
43
"America by Heart" author, 2010 : PALIN
46
Drawn things : STRAWS
47
Polo, e.g. : SHIRT
48
Exclamation said before sticking out the tongue : YECCH
51
Current amount : AMPERE
52
Prime seating area : ROWA
53
Kind of tradition : ORAL
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William who played Hopalong Cassidy : BOYD
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Mend after further injury : REHEAL
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Mop's commercial partner : GLO
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Place for a touchdown : TARMAC
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Bribe : SOP
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Hardly be deadpan : EMOTE
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Little angels : DEARS
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Pratt Institute degs. : MFAS
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Bunch of stuff : OLIO
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Dickens orphan : NELL
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Two points : COLON
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Baseball great Campanella : ROY
70
Political muscle : CLOUT
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PIN part: Abbr. : IDENT
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Basis for promotion : MERIT
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Going ___ : ATIT
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Mötley ___ : CRUE
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Paradox to be meditated on : KOAN
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"Little ___' Pea" : SWEE
80
Hindu part of Indonesia : BALI
81
Have ___ for : ANEED
82
Tutti-___ : FRUTTI
84
The van driver ... : MOVEDON
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Capable of handling : EQUALTO
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Horrifying : GHASTLY
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The paper doll maker ... : CUTOUT
90
Baroque : ORNATE
91
Some canapé picks : SWORDS
93
Spot : ESPY
94
Tremors : SEISMS
95
Cover completely : CARPET
96
Short strokes : PUTTS
97
Big boo-boo : BONER
101
Not relaxed : TAUT
102
Religious figure: Var. : IKON
103
Simon of Broadway : NEIL
104
That señorita : ELLA
105
Victory, to Wagner : SIEG
107
Hit show sign : SRO
109
Fiscal exec : CFO
110
One may have a ball at the country club : TEE

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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