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JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

New York Times, Sunday, April 3, 2016

Author:
Natan Last
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
277/17/200710/9/20186
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5122098
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60350
Natan Last

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 75 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 17 for Mr. Last. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Natan Last notes:
I had the idea to literalize the phrase 'In one ear and out the other' a long time ago, and the rebus part was I think the most fun way to actualize this theme. There were wonky ways to ... read more

I had the idea to literalize the phrase "In one ear and out the other" a long time ago, and the rebus part was I think the most fun way to actualize this theme. There were wonky ways to make the theme more or less elegant, I thought, while keeping it solvable: the circles were Will and Joel's addition, since they thought the puzzle played too hard without it.

I liked having all the entires be actual phrases, making the theme even truer, though it was hard to not repeat "A" too many times, and a few discarded phrases ("WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?" I remember as one I was sad to see go) duped the common components of spoken language too much to stay; earlier versions had ear-shaped black square contortions (kind of) and fewer theme answers, since those crossing rebus squares, which I thought didn't need to conform to the theme, were getting tough to fill around.

On the fill, glad I was able to get I'M ON A BOAT, WAGE GAP, HANG TIGHT, WASN'T ME, and a few other more modern entries in the grid. Hopefully OBELI is worth its surrounding colloquialisms.

The world, I guess, maybe, is better off without my wordier clues for many entries. I love, love, love quote clues for literature / pop culture references; ADA and VLADIMIR both had enormous excerpts of their lines trotted out for reasons pretentious and unnecessary. But damn, they said good stuff. Also, one of my favorite things about cluing is finding relationships between adjacent or nearby clues: I had originally clued LINES as [Subjects in Euclid's geometry] and LOGS as [Subjects in Euler's calculus, briefly], or something, and I miss those little mini topical excursions in the clues.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes:
Fun concept, theme answers literally going IN ONE EAR … and OUT THE OTHER. Six EAR rebus squares act as portals, i.e. WHER(E AR) … jumps from one EAR to another EAR, ... read more

Fun concept, theme answers literally going IN ONE EAR … and OUT THE OTHER. Six EAR rebus squares act as portals, i.e. WHER(E AR) … jumps from one EAR to another EAR, finishing with … (E AR)E MY KEYS. The title is perfect, as the theme answers are literally JUMPING TO (their) CONCLUSIONS.

Coming through!

It might have been nice to hide the concept for longer, as I was able to fill in IN ONE EAR / OUT THE OTHER very early in my solve. Placing those two themers very far away from the middle of the puzzle does make construction easier — very little interaction with all those EARs — but it does give away the game. Perhaps spreading out all the EARS so IN ONE EAR / OUT THE OTHER could have gone more in the middle of the puzzle?

Natan gives us some sizzling bonus entries, INBOX ZERO my favorite. I once achieved INBOX ZERO ... and stupidly posted about it on Facebook. (My inbox was then flooded by people congratulating me. Sigh.) And CRY ME A RIVER, HANG TIGHT, TIRE SWING, ORANGEMEN … it's so awesome to get a taste of themeless-like goodness in a Sunday puzzle. I often lose steam while solving Sunday-size puzzles — so many boxes to fill in — so getting a ton of bonus fill like this is very much appreciated.

I really liked Natan's attention to detail when it came to avoiding gluey bits, too. COR is minor, BCS is a bit odd when clued to the Johnny Hart comic strip (plus, the Bowl Championship Series is now defunct), and ABOIL is one of those funny start-with-an-A words. To keep it to such a small amount of gristle is really good on a Sunday 140-word puzzle.

Two clues I didn't understand: [Brace] for TWO, and [Sally] for RAID? Apparently a "sally" is a "sudden charge out of a besieged place" and a "brace" is a "pair of something." Learn something new every day.

It would have been SO nice to have some sort of image of an ear, but I'm not sure how one would do that. Perhaps chunks of black squares around the sides of the puzzle? I'd be curious to see what Natan's attempts looked like. But still, an entertaining solve.

1
C
2
H
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A
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C
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9
M
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W
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A
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E
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A
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H
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A
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A
L
O
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E
E
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G
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A
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A
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F
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Y
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E
P
A
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M
A
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Z
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T
A
B
S
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W
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H
E
R
EAR
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G
H
T
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T
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K
N
O
W
35
L
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B
S
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C
H
E
W
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L
A
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O
N
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E
G
O
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F
R
A
Y
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B
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E
E
P
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D
U
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B
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H
A
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V
EAR
E
M
Y
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K
E
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S
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C
L
A
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U
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S
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E
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A
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A
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T
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A
K
EAR
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A
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L
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A
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N
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M
E
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G
A
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L
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C
R
Y
M
EAR
78
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K
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O
I
L
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Y
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T
H
E
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S
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Y
A
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86
C
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N
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M
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A
K
EAR
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D
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R
D
A
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A
T
O
91
C
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E
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92
M
B
A
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B
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C
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B
A
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A
M
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K
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Y
O
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L
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L
C
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EAR
E
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Q
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T
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B
E
X
106
R
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B
I
O
107
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I
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A
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Z
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A
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A
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M
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O
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H
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118
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A
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119
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120
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121
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D
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122
E
L
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123
T
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S
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0403 ( 24,253 )
Across
1. ___-Town (sobriquet in many a Kanye West song) : CHI
4. "To Kill a Mockingbird" theme : RACISM
10. Get heavily (into) : WADE
14. Distinctive Harry Potter feature : SCAR
18. Overactors : HAMS
20. Hebrew for "my Lord" : ADONAI
21. Period for reflection and recharging : ALONETIME
23. With 113-Across, heard but disregarded ... or a hint to interpreting the Across answers with circled letters : INONEEARAND
25. Gallant type : GENTLEMAN
26. "___ Dei" (prayer) : AGNUS
27. Baldwin's "30 Rock" co-star : FEY
28. Clean air org. : EPA
29. Mayan food staple : MAIZE
30. Browser navigation aids : TABS
31. Common query from one about to leave the house : WHEREAREMYKEYS
35. The left, informally : LIBS
36. Meditate (on) : CHEW
37. Modern surgical aid : LASER
38. Come-___ : ONS
39. ___-surfing : EGO
40. Show wear : FRAY
41. Arcade game sound : BEEP
43. Nicknames : DUBS
46. Indignant reply when someone withholds information : IHAVEARIGHTTOKNOW
49. Contract part : CLAUSE
53. P.M. after and before Churchill : ATTLEE
54. Carson who won the 2001 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry : ANNE
55. "Come on ... be daring" : TAKEARISK
57. Increases, with "to" : ADDS
59. "No worries" : ITSCOOL
62. Look from Scrooge : SNEER
63. Sally : RAID
66. Tell : SAYTO
68. Bubbling : ABOIL
70. 24-note tune : TAPS
71. Quattros and TTs : AUDIS
73. "I had nothing to do with it" : WASNTME
75. Olympic sprinting champion Devers : GAIL
77. "Oh, boo-hoo!" : CRYMEARIVER
79. Overly ingratiating : OILY
81. Senior project : THESIS
85. Some Ivy Leaguers : YALIES
86. "Would you consider this suggestion?" : CANIMAKEAREQUEST
88. Nutritional figs. : RDAS
90. Roman statesman known as "the Censor" : CATO
91. Given the signal : CUED
92. Label for a suit? : MBA
93. Some Johnny Hart panels : BCS
96. Not true? : ATILT
98. Outlaws : BANS
99. Out of control : AMOK
100. Comment to the not-yet-convinced : YOULLCOMEAROUND
105. Mountain goat : IBEX
106. Politico with the autobiography "An American Son" : RUBIO
107. The Engineers of the N.C.A.A. : RPI
108. Disneyland's Main Street, ___ : USA
109. ___ rima (meter of Dante's "Divine Comedy") : TERZA
111. Former name for Syracuse athletes : ORANGEMEN
113. See 23-Across : OUTTHEOTHER
117. Rustic backyard plaything : TIRESWING
118. Subject of 1972 negotiations with China : TAIWAN
119. Part of a bloodline : SIRE
120. Coins with fleurs-de-lis : ECUS
121. Remnants : ENDS
122. Famed Six Flags Great Adventure roller coaster : ELTORO
123. Talking-___ : TOS
Down
1. ___ Pets (1980s fad) : CHIA
2. "Just hold on" : HANGTIGHT
3. 2009 Grammy nominee with the lyric "But this ain't SeaWorld, this is real as it gets" : IMONABOAT
4. Singer Carly ___ Jepsen : RAE
5. Nabokov heroine : ADA
6. Heart: Lat. : COR
7. "Moments from now" : INAFEW
8. More grounded : SANER
9. June and July : MIDYEAR
10. Feminist issue in the workplace : WAGEGAP
11. Israeli leaders? : ALEPHS
12. Helped the cause, say : DONATED
13. Foe of Saruman, in Tolkien : ENT
14. Hearty entree : STEAK
15. Director Michael : CIMINO
16. Company that passed Walmart in 2015 as the world's largest retailer by market value : AMAZON
17. Extends, in a way : RENEWS
19. Disinvites, e.g. : SNUBS
22. Mr. Noodle's friend on "Sesame Street" : ELMO
24. Tricky curve : ESS
31. Kapow! : WHAM
32. 2003 #1 hit for OutKast : HEYYA
33. Parts of Polynésie : ILES
34. Rig, e.g. : TRUCK
35. General of the Resistance in "The Force Awakens" : LEIA
36. Doctrines : CREEDS
40. Awesome : FEARED
41. Unlikely to be talked out of : BENTON
42. Sight seers : EYES
44. Makes dim, as the 42-Down : BLEARS
45. Fifth-century pope who was the first to be called "the Great" : SAINTLEO
47. One waiting in "Waiting for Godot" : VLADIMIR
48. Sweaters, e.g. : KNITS
50. Layer of the 42-Down : UVEA
51. Slip (through) : SEEP
52. Slips up : ERRS
55. Duke Ellington's "All ___ Soon" : TOO
56. Sacha Baron Cohen persona : ALIG
58. Aphorisms : SAWS
60. El ___ Real : CAMINO
61. Symbols on old manuscripts : OBELI
63. Not for prudes : RACY
64. Energy field, of sorts : AURA
65. Tennyson work : IDYL
67. Jabber : YAK
69. Post-menorah-lighting treats : LATKES
72. Branded : SEARED
74. Impeccably : TOAT
76. "Rumor has it ..." : IHEARD
78. Oscar ___, star of "Inside Llewyn Davis" : ISAAC
80. Facilities often referred to by their first letter : YMCAS
82. 2010's "California Gurls" or 1996's "Macarena" : SUMMERHIT
83. Goal of having no unread emails : INBOXZERO
84. Lake Oahe locale: Abbr. : SDAK
86. Actress Blanchett : CATE
87. ___ Viv, caretaker of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air : AUNT
89. Enter angrily : STORMIN
90. Glades : CLEARINGS
93. From memory : BYROTE
94. Former "CBS Evening News" anchor : COURIC
95. Outback maker : SUBARU
97. Loom : IMPEND
98. "Scram!" : BEATIT
99. Looks out for? : ABETS
101. Dialogue : LINES
102. Calc figures : LOGS
103. "And I ___ ..." : QUOTE
104. Accustomed : USUAL
105. "Were ___ hazard a guess ..." : ITO
110. Lover of Aphrodite : ARES
112. Farm female : EWE
114. Brace : TWO
115. Laugh half : HAR
116. "Lux" composer : ENO

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later.

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