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New York Times, Thursday, May 12, 2016

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

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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