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New York Times, Thursday, May 12, 2016

Author:
James Tuttle
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
71/10/20115/12/20160
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0320200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.52020
James Tuttle

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JKQXYZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Mr. Tuttle. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
James Tuttle notes:
Inspiration for this ONE came to me in a grocery store parking lot. Though I've never seen the film, (M)AR(A)THO(N) popped into my ... read more

Inspiration for this ONE came to me in a grocery store parking lot. Though I've never seen the film, (M)AR(A)THO(N) popped into my head and struck me as being theme-worthy. Excited by the prospect of a new project, I brainstormed suitable revealers as I shopped. Fellow consumers undoubtedly questioned the sanity of a grown man talking to himself while counting out the length of familiar phrases on his fingers. Somewhere in frozen foods, INITSELF (one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight…aha!) came to me. A phrase that's in the language and conveniently equal in length to MARATHON! A theme was born, even if in my preoccupied state I forgot to bring home the EDAMAME.

Over the next few days I scoured word lists for other thematic candidates and came up with a couple more. LABO(R)(A)(T)ORY and C(O)N(V)(E)CTIO(N) seemed legit and rounded out the first grid. Will and Joel liked the concept behind the original submission, but wondered if there could be more consistency in the theme answers. RAT was the only example with consecutive circles and OVEN was the only 4-letter example. I gladly went back to the drawing board to find ALIST good enough to cut the cruciverbial mustard.

It took several weeks of editing to yield today's offering. This is by far the most workshopped of all of my puzzles. The revealer INITSELF ended up on the cutting room floor. (S)(E)N(A)(T)E and PRE(S)ID(E)NTI(A)(L) were promising FINDS, but lacked symmetrical partners. A final set of theme answers was eventually assembled. Grids were constructed. Grids were reconstructed. Clues were written. Much time and CARE was taken to ensure a quality product. It's a MARATHON, not a sprint, right?

Thanks to Will and Joel for your advice on this one. I hope you all enjoy it!

Jeff Chen notes:
What a cool idea, two-word phrases where all the letters of the second word are contained in the first. ABSTRACT ART displayed as ... read more

What a cool idea, two-word phrases where all the letters of the second word are contained in the first. ABSTRACT ART displayed as ABSTRACT is so much fun. Great finds in MARATHON MAN and WRESTLING RING too. TRANSPARENT TAPE and ESTIMATED TIME are definitely real terms, but they're not as exciting to my ear.

What does it say about me that I once idolized this man?

James goes down to 74 words in an attempt to add in extra bonus fill. There is a good amount of nice stuff like DECREPIT, TENTACLE, EDAMAME, DRUM SET. Even the mid-length material adds spice: DAHLIA, GENOME, TV CREW, DO RE MI, SEA COW. That's a ton of extra material!

There are trade-offs, though. After I encounter maybe four or five gluey bits, I have a hard time shrugging it all off. I don't care at all about a bit of DEG, A NET, ESS here and there. But when there's more of SAE, RST, STOA, OLIO, SERER, etc. it's just too much for my constructor's brain to ignore.

It's annoying to have that constructor's perspective that I just can't turn off, because the rest of the puzzle was so much fun and entertainment. I think cutting the amount of gluey stuff in half — maybe by going up to 76 or even 78 words, shrinking the wide-openness of those big corners — could have turned this puzzle into a very good one into a great one.

Still, puzzles with such a neat theme idea don't come around all that often, and I really enjoyed this concept.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0512 ( 24,292 )
Across
1
Don Draper or Roger Sterling, on an AMC series : ADMAN
6
Club ___ : SODA
10
You might be honored with one: Abbr. : DEG
13
Worthy pursuits : IDEALS
14
It's responsible for controlling a pupil : IRIS
15
Bar barrier : AGE
16
Camera operators, gaffers, etc. : TVCREW
17
1976 Dustin Hoffman thriller : MARATHONMAN
19
More desertlike : SERER
20
Courier or Myriad : FONT
21
Jumble : OLIO
22
Stage for Hulk Hogan : WRESTLINGRING
24
Object depicted on the cover of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" : PRISM
25
Venomous menace : ASP
26
Ampersand follower, maybe : SON
27
Soybean snack : EDAMAME
29
Senate majority leader before McConnell : REID
31
World music's King Sunny ___ : ADE
33
See 39-Across : ONE
34
What 3M's Scotch is a brand of : TRANSPARENTTAPE
38
"___ Parisienne" (Brigitte Bardot comedy) : UNE
39
Hole in 33-Across : ACE
40
Hanoi holidays : TETS
43
___ market : FARMERS
47
Thurman of "Kill Bill" : UMA
49
San Francisco's ___ Valley : NOE
50
Ones getting the red-carpet treatment : ALIST
51
Arrival or departure approximation : ESTIMATEDTIME
54
Cannes film : CINE
55
Heedfulness : CARE
56
Actress de la Garza of "Law & Order" : ALANA
57
Rothko's field : ABSTRACTART
59
Winter trail transport : SNOCAT
60
One of five in Yahtzee : DIE
61
Greek colonnade : STOA
62
Penguin variety : ADELIE
63
Start to skid? : ESS
64
Responses to some OnStar calls : TOWS
65
Stand : EASEL
Down
1
Opposed : ADVERSE
2
In bad shape : DECREPIT
3
Colt carriers : MARES
4
Messages often with exclamation points : ALERTS
5
Neighbor of Victoria: Abbr. : NSW
6
"America's Got Talent" panelist : SIMON
7
Buddhist monks wear it : ORANGE
8
TMZ fodder : DIRT
9
Cool-cucumber center? : ASA
10
Mexican bloom : DAHLIA
11
Self-interest doctrine : EGOISM
12
Subject of a modern map : GENOME
13
"Dem's fightin' words!" : ITSWAR
18
Agony : TORMENT
20
Antiquers' delights : FINDS
23
Rental car alternative : LOANER
24
Subject of a frame job? : PANE
28
Cabbage : DOREMI
30
Beat it! : DRUMSET
32
Enforcer of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, for short : EPA
35
Working without ___ : ANET
36
Like two angles in a right triangle : ACUTE
37
Sucker holder : TENTACLE
41
Filing target : TOENAIL
42
Put under : SEDATE
43
Front : FACADE
44
They've got you covered : ALIBIS
45
Helps with the dishes : RINSES
46
Underwater behemoth : SEACOW
48
Only #1 hit for Boston : AMANDA
52
Mex. misses : SRTAS
53
Bitter ___ (purgative medicine) : ALOES
55
Foe of Caesar : CATO
58
Q followers : RST
59
Encl. to an editor : SAE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle.

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