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New York Times, Sunday, April 7, 2019

Author:
Peter A. Collins
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1105/2/200610/16/201912
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
612253714106
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.565313
Peter A. Collins

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 108 for Mr. Collins. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Peter A. Collins is the chairman of the math department at Huron High School, in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he has been teaching for 39 years. He has been creating crosswords for The Times ... read more

Peter A. Collins is the chairman of the math department at Huron High School, in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he has been teaching for 39 years. He has been creating crosswords for The Times since 2006. This is his 108th. When he can, Peter likes to incorporate some of the black squares into his puzzle themes, as he ingeniously does here.

Peter A. Collins notes:
It was key to this puzzle's construction (in my opinion, anyway) that all the middle 'O' words in the S-O-S phrases were different. I used OLD, ON, OUT, OUR, OIL and OF. I don't know that ... read more

It was key to this puzzle's construction (in my opinion, anyway) that all the middle "O" words in the S-O-S phrases were different. I used OLD, ON, OUT, OUR, OIL and OF. I don't know that I had a lot of other substantive possibilities.

The most trouble in filling the grid arose in the EASTER WEEK area. It took a few tries to get to this version, and in spite of IES and RSTLNE, Will, Joel, and I thought it was the best of the bunch.

Jeff Chen notes:
In my early crossword construction days, I was so proud of making an M W out of black squares, hinting at the M* W* theme. But not a lot of friends actually noticed it. Initialisms ... read more

In my early crossword construction days, I was so proud of making an M W out of black squares, hinting at the M* W* theme. But not a lot of friends actually noticed it.

Initialisms have been mined for so many crosswords over the years, including S O S itself. I like that Pete tried to go above and beyond, using a grid pattern that looked like S O S – I'd give it a 7 out of 10 on the recognition scale. If the central O had been more closed-up, it would have been unmissable.

Tough to close up the O any more, though. Perhaps "filling it in" with grayed-out squares, and having those three-letter answers be OOO? [Winning tic-tac-toe line] and [Ghostly moan]?

Amazing that Pete got the visual to work. The S can't get any smaller without creating two-letter words, and you can't move them any closer to the edges of the grid. Fascinating that it appears to be a singular solution.

So hard to fill around the S O S. A lesser constructor might have added black squares jutting off the S's, in order to help break up the surrounding fill. I like that Pete avoided this, working in sparkly goodness like KANSAS STATE, RADICCHIO, EASTER WEEK, OKAY SURE, etc.

There is a glut of gluey short fill – ABT AGRO ASON EDD EEC ENE ETO just to start – but given the technical constraints, it's understandable. Filling a grid like this is as difficult as filling a low-word-count themeless.

I would have liked something less straightforward fpr the theme. It'd have been fun to brainstorm a more clever and fun angle – maybe playing on the Morse code for SOS — DOT DOT DOT / DASH DASH DASH / DOT DOT DOT?

It's a neat grid, and I do like the phrases SNAKE OIL SALESMAN and SAME OLD STORY. But I wish the theme had been as neat. A bit too much like his previous Sunday initialisms puzzle, too.

1
P
2
A
3
S
4
S
5
R
6
U
7
S
8
H
9
D
10
S
11
H
12
A
13
R
14
P
15
Z
16
I
17
P
18
P
19
O
20
A
U
T
O
M
A
T
A
21
I
N
A
W
A
Y
22
E
T
H
A
N
23
S
C
A
N
N
E
R
S
24
S
A
M
E
O
L
25
D
S
T
O
R
Y
26
T
R
Y
27
U
N
28
F
U
R
L
29
E
A
T
30
T
E
X
31
L
I
T
32
P
33
U
T
T
O
S
L
E
34
E
35
P
36
M
A
37
L
O
N
E
38
P
O
O
39
A
B
T
40
P
E
S
T
E
R
41
S
42
A
N
T
S
43
G
N
U
44
L
E
E
45
K
S
46
C
O
N
47
M
48
A
N
49
A
S
T
50
O
51
R
D
A
52
M
53
C
54
S
55
P
A
R
M
E
56
S
57
A
58
N
59
S
P
60
A
61
O
N
62
L
O
A
N
63
O
K
A
Y
S
U
R
E
64
M
65
I
L
E
Y
66
U
S
E
D
T
O
67
S
E
Z
68
L
I
E
69
S
H
O
N
E
70
R
A
D
I
C
C
71
H
I
O
72
A
73
C
T
E
D
74
N
E
W
75
A
S
S
76
S
H
O
R
T
I
77
C
L
A
S
S
78
B
A
L
79
L
80
A
S
T
S
81
T
O
N
S
I
L
82
E
O
N
83
C
R
Y
A
B
O
U
T
84
E
N
E
85
O
S
86
T
87
Y
S
88
E
89
R
90
N
O
N
F
A
91
T
92
A
N
A
R
93
T
94
O
N
E
95
S
96
O
97
C
K
98
F
T
B
99
R
100
A
101
G
G
102
L
E
S
103
F
R
O
104
P
R
A
Y
105
E
106
D
107
E
A
S
T
E
R
108
W
E
E
K
109
S
O
S
110
A
D
S
111
B
A
112
T
113
T
E
N
O
R
S
114
A
W
L
115
S
A
I
116
L
O
N
S
117
A
118
I
L
O
R
119
I
M
120
B
121
E
C
I
L
122
E
123
M
I
N
E
O
124
A
V
E
N
U
E
125
T
A
U
T
E
N
E
D
126
S
N
O
O
K
127
R
E
S
E
T
S
128
E
N
G
O
R
G
E
D
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0407 ( 25,352 )
Across
1
It might end up in a sack : PASSRUSH
9
E neighbor : DSHARP
15
Nada : ZIPPO
20
Robots : AUTOMATA
21
"Not exactly, but close ..." : INAWAY
22
Filmmaker Coen : ETHAN
23
Checkout devices : SCANNERS
24
Tired tale : SAMEOLDSTORY
26
Seriously annoy : TRY
27
Roll out, as a flag : UNFURL
29
Stuff in a muffin, say? : EAT
30
Neighbor of Okla. : TEX
31
Exciting, in modern lingo : LIT
32
Rock, maybe : PUTTOSLEEP
36
Danson's "Cheers" role : MALONE
38
End of some hybrid dog breed names : POO
39
N.Y.C. dance company : ABT
40
Hounds : PESTERS
42
Tidbits for aardvarks : ANTS
43
Bearded beast : GNU
44
They go with potatoes in soup : LEEKS
46
Sting operator : CONMAN
49
Regarding : ASTO
51
Vitamin stat : RDA
52
Hosts, in brief : MCS
55
Italian cheese : PARMESAN
59
Peel place : SPA
61
Out at a library, say : ONLOAN
63
"Yeah, why not" : OKAYSURE
64
Cyrus who sang the 2013 #1 hit "Wrecking Ball" : MILEY
66
Once did : USEDTO
67
States, informally : SEZ
68
Be prone : LIE
69
Radiated : SHONE
70
Leafy salad ingredient : RADICCHIO
72
Didn't delay : ACTED
74
Inexperienced : NEW
75
Fool : ASS
76
Something frequently found in pink lipstick : SHORTI
77
Pupil's location : CLASS
78
Stabilizes with a heavy load : BALLASTS
81
Lump in the throat : TONSIL
82
Geologic period : EON
83
Get upset over : CRYABOUT
84
Lincoln-to-Madison dir. : ENE
85
Sunrise direction, in Stuttgart : OST
87
River in a 1914 battle : YSER
90
Skim : NONFAT
92
Not a science, but ___ : ANART
94
With 95-Across, what often seems to disappear in a dryer : ONE
95
See 94-Across : SOCK
98
N.C. military installation : FTBRAGG
102
"___ Trois Mousquetaires" : LES
103
Big do : FRO
104
Appealed to a higher authority? : PRAYED
107
Religious time in spring : EASTERWEEK
109
Critical message that's a hint to the six longest entries in this puzzle : SOS
110
Circular components? : ADS
111
Cave dweller : BAT
113
Caruso and Pavarotti : TENORS
114
It makes for a boring job : AWL
115
1973 Beach Boys song : SAILONSAILOR
119
"Three Stooges" insult : IMBECILE
123
Sal of "Rebel Without a Cause" : MINEO
124
Course of action : AVENUE
125
Stretched tight : TAUTENED
126
Caribbean game fish : SNOOK
127
Changes back to 0000 : RESETS
128
Swollen : ENGORGED
Down
1
Ballet step : PAS
2
They have lots for sale : AUCTIONS
3
Not exactly hit the ground running : STARTOUTSLOWLY
4
PlayStation company : SONY
5
L.B.J. follower : RMN
6
Home of the Burj Khalifa: Abbr. : UAE
7
Showed 'em what we've got : STRUTTEDOURSTUFF
8
"It ___ hit me yet" : HASNT
9
State of abandonment : DISUSE
10
Traffic troubles : SNARLS
11
Where the phrase "To thine own self be true" comes from : HAMLET
12
What shocked people stand in : AWE
13
Raja ___, Indian author of "The Serpent and the Rope" : RAO
14
Ernie ___, Pulitzer-winning journalist of W.W. II : PYLE
15
Keebler cracker brand : ZESTA
16
Member of TV's Addams Family : ITT
17
Something scientists make light of? : PHOTON
18
Rear : PARENT
19
Some cameo stones : ONYXES
25
Obstacle for a fish : DAM
28
Dandies : FOPS
31
Tour grp. : LPGA
32
Bro : PAL
33
Cab alternative : UBER
34
Common Market org. : EEC
35
Starting point in logic : PROPOSITION
37
Swimmers' assignments : LANES
41
Slippery vendor : SNAKEOILSALESMAN
45
The Wildcats of the N.C.A.A. : KANSASSTATE
47
Jason with the 2008 hit "I'm Yours" : MRAZ
48
Poet Lowell : AMY
50
Store window sign : OPEN
52
Dress seller : MODISTE
53
Take root : CATCHON
54
Sweet summer treat : SNOCONE
56
1978 Dire Straits hit : SULTANSOFSWING
57
The Ram : ARIES
58
Doesn't just want : NEEDS
60
Word said in passing? : AYE
62
Headed up : LED
64
"Morning Joe" airer : MSNBC
65
Rumor starter : IHEAR
71
Timecard abbr. : HRS
72
Prized pitcher : ACE
73
Please too much : CLOY
75
"Unto us ___ is given" : ASON
79
Like a string bean : LANKY
80
Blood-typing letters : ABO
86
Word with bay or family : TREE
88
Course registrant : ENROLLEE
89
Cars that disappeared during the Depression : REOS
91
"Don't know yet," on a schedule : TBA
92
Prefix with industry : AGRO
93
Bit of shaming : TSK
95
Involuntary actions : SPASMS
96
Make official : ORDAIN
97
House of cards? : CASINO
99
"Wheel of Fortune" sextet : RSTLNE
100
Eschewed home cooking : ATEOUT
101
Mystery and romance, for two : GENRES
105
Download for a tablet : EBOOK
106
Skilled judoist : DAN
108
Draft : WRITE
112
Nicholas II was the last one : TSAR
114
Big name in laptops : ACER
116
The Lion : LEO
117
"___, Imperator!" : AVE
118
"-y" pluralizer : IES
120
Irk : BUG
121
W.W. II arena: Abbr. : ETO
122
Baseball Hall-of-Famer Roush : EDD

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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