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JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

New York Times, Sunday, April 3, 2016

Author:
Natan Last
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
317/17/200710/20/20197
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
8123098
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60370
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
3
I
4
R
5
A
6
C
7
I
8
S
9
M
10
W
11
A
12
D
13
E
14
S
15
C
16
A
17
R
18
H
A
M
19
S
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A
D
O
N
A
I
21
A
L
O
N
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E
T
I
M
E
23
I
N
O
N
24
E
E
A
R
A
N
D
25
G
E
N
T
L
E
M
A
N
26
A
G
N
U
S
27
F
E
Y
28
E
P
A
29
M
A
I
Z
E
30
T
A
B
S
31
W
32
H
E
R
EAR
33
I
G
H
T
34
T
O
K
N
O
W
35
L
I
B
S
36
C
H
E
W
37
L
A
S
E
R
38
O
N
S
39
E
G
O
40
F
R
A
Y
41
B
42
E
E
P
43
D
U
44
B
45
S
46
I
H
A
47
V
EAR
E
M
Y
48
K
E
Y
S
49
C
L
A
50
U
51
S
52
E
53
A
T
T
L
E
E
54
A
N
N
E
55
T
56
A
K
EAR
I
V
E
R
57
A
D
D
58
S
59
I
T
S
60
C
61
O
O
L
62
S
N
E
E
R
63
R
64
A
65
I
D
66
S
A
67
Y
T
O
68
A
B
O
I
69
L
70
T
A
P
S
71
A
U
D
I
72
S
73
W
A
S
N
74
T
M
E
75
G
A
76
I
L
77
C
R
Y
M
EAR
78
I
S
K
79
O
I
L
80
Y
81
T
H
E
82
S
83
I
84
S
85
Y
A
L
I
E
S
86
C
A
N
I
M
87
A
K
EAR
O
U
N
D
88
R
D
A
89
S
90
C
A
T
O
91
C
U
E
D
92
M
B
A
93
B
94
C
95
S
96
A
T
97
I
L
T
98
B
A
N
S
99
A
M
O
K
100
Y
O
U
101
L
102
L
C
O
M
EAR
E
103
Q
104
U
E
S
T
105
I
B
E
X
106
R
U
B
I
O
107
R
P
I
108
U
S
A
109
T
E
R
Z
110
A
111
O
R
A
N
G
112
E
M
E
N
113
O
U
T
114
T
115
H
116
E
O
T
H
E
R
117
T
I
R
E
S
W
I
N
G
118
T
A
I
W
A
N
119
S
I
R
E
120
E
C
U
S
121
E
N
D
S
122
E
L
T
O
R
O
123
T
O
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: 11 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later.

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