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HOOK-UPS

New York Times, Sunday, May 19, 2019

Author:
Natan Last
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
317/17/200710/20/20197
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8123098
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60370
Natan Last

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 29 for Mr. Last. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Natan Last, 28, is a founding member of the International Rescue Committee's innovation lab and a researcher and advocate for refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid. A frequent ... read more

Natan Last, 28, is a founding member of the International Rescue Committee's innovation lab and a researcher and advocate for refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid. A frequent contributor — he sold his first crossword to The Times when he was 16; this is his 29th for the paper — Last says this puzzle's theme germinated while watching people fish in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.

Jeff Chen notes:
I like that Natan didn't stick to a standard 'words hidden within phrases' theme, but took it a step further. Apt to 'hook up' the fish buried in the theme phrases, pulling them all the ... read more

I like that Natan didn't stick to a standard "words hidden within phrases" theme, but took it a step further. Apt to "hook up" the fish buried in the theme phrases, pulling them all the way up to the top. It still may be boggling people's minds, so here's an example of how it worked:

WORKOUT ROUTINE -> TROUT WORKOU INE

I made a puzzle like this once for the WSJ, where the letters B I R D "flew south," in a similar manner. Some people loved it – I got a lot of fan mail. And some people hated it.

HAAAAAAATED it.

While I didn't receive any death threats, some notes were pretty close. It was just too hard a puzzle, even with the crossing answers dumbed way down.

I learned a lot from that experience. It's easy to go overboard and make a puzzle unenjoyably hard. Themes where a solver must depend on every single crossing answer can be especially frustrating. Think of a quote puzzle, where you have to solve based only on the downs, unable to see what's going on in the quote until the very last minute. That's essentially what we are working with today since it's so difficult to figure out each base phrase until you are close to uncovering the entire entry.

Natan's 136-word grid is well done – a rarity in Sunday puzzles. Big ups for that feat of cruciverbalistic wizardry. But figuring out the theme phrases was tough enough, and having so many long pieces of fill made the solving process even harder.

As much as I enjoyed the great bonuses – A VOTRE SANTE, COLD FISSION, PAUL SIMON, STEAMPUNK, and more — this particular theme was so challenging to uncover that a more standard 140-word grid might have made for a better solving experience.

As for the themers themselves, I'd have liked each of the fish spanning words within themers – the MAGIC and RIDE of MAGIC (CARP)ET RIDE felt superfluous, whereas LA(B ASS)ISTANT felt like a much more interesting discovery. But I can see how some would prefer the relative simplicity of ones like MAGIC (CARP)ET RIDE, given how hard the theme was to suss out.

Overall though, the twist on the tried and true theme type was appreciated.

1
T
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B
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C
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I
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Y
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M
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P
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B
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L
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A
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B
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O
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M
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C
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D
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M
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B
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N
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W
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H
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L
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G
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P
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G
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M
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U
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S
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P
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W
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O
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M
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A
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W
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D
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L
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B
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C
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F
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A
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T
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L
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Y
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0519 ( 25,394 )
Across
1
"Full Frontal With Samantha Bee" channel : TBS
4
Counterpart of "highway" in an m.p.g. rating : CITY
8
Little rapscallions : IMPS
12
Weapon that's thrown : BOLAS
17
Male buddy, in slang : BRAH
18
Source of some penetrating notes : OBOE
19
Infiltrator : MOLE
20
In two pieces : APART
21
Took a chill pill : COOLEDDOWN
23
Danger for coastal residents : STORMSURGE
25
He hosted the second-ever episode of "Saturday Night Live" : PAULSIMON
26
Event in nuclear physics : COLDFISSION
27
It "should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable," according to a saying : ART
28
Incompetent sort, slangily : MOOK
29
Reveals : BARES
30
Braves' division, briefly : NLEAST
31
Pirouette : WHIRL
33
War loser, usually : TREY
34
Like beer and baking dough : YEASTY
35
Try Sinatra at karaoke, say : CROON
37
Boost : LEGUP
40
Member of a South Asian diaspora : DESI
41
Format accommodating poor vision : LARGETYPE
43
Fate, in Greek myth : MOIRA
46
Like some sheets : SATIN
51
Requests : ASKS
52
Depiction in Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights" : EDEN
53
Presage : AUGUR
54
"I kid you not!" : TRULY
55
Vietnamese soup : PHO
56
Went white : PALED
57
Vittles : GRUB
58
For the most part : MAINLY
59
1972 Bill Withers hit : USEME
61
The miser's daughter in Molière's "The Miser" : ELISE
63
Cuddly-looking bear : PANDA
64
They're full of hot air : DRIERS
66
Shoe with lots of holes : CROC
67
Fleet-footed : SWIFT
69
Crash site? : COT
72
Alternative to Corinthian : IONIC
73
First word in many a limerick : THERE
74
H. H. Munro's pseudonym : SAKI
75
___ Club : SAMS
76
"You've gotta be kidding" : YEESH
77
It may lead to tax evasion charges : AUDIT
78
Sci-fi subgenre with "retrofuturistic" technology : STEAMPUNK
80
Blabbed : SANG
82
Widespread unrest : RIOTS
84
Shield of Greek myth : AEGIS
85
Facebook users' multitude : GROUPS
88
Doppelgänger : TWIN
90
Oscar winner for "Shakespeare in Love" : DENCH
92
Language family that includes Crow and Lakota : SIOUAN
93
Helms : HEADS
94
Rain unsteadily : SPIT
95
Digital world : WEB
98
French toast : AVOTRESANTE
100
Hot chili designation : FOURALARM
102
Not like the odds of, say : BETAGAINST
103
Steinbeck novel featuring the madam Dora Flood : CANNERYROW
104
Title in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" : LIEGE
105
Hoodwink : FOOL
106
Comedic actor Wareheim : ERIC
107
"Wonder Woman" antagonist : ARES
108
Over : ENDED
109
Feature of an old-fashioned swing : TIRE
110
Peace Nobelist Walesa : LECH
111
What the Czech word "ano" means in English, paradoxically : YES
Down
1
Gym rat's development : WORKOUTROUTINE
2
High pitch, maybe : BALL
3
1984 Steve Perry hit : SHESMINE
4
Act overprotectively toward : MOLLYCODDLE
5
Bygone Apple laptop : IBOOK
6
Word with boom or skip : TOWN
7
Ache : YEN
8
Acher's lament : IMSORE
9
Ragtag : MOTLEY
10
Lumbers (along) : PLODS
11
One working on an estate : SERF
12
Role for a biology grad student, perhaps : LABASSISTANT
13
Works with numbers : OPUSES
14
One might be thrown from a horse : LARIAT
15
Flotilla of merchant ships : ARGOSY
16
Hospital tube : STENT
17
Animal with tusks : BOAR
21
Worker with numbers, for short : CPA
22
French fashion icon : DIOR
24
Does groundbreaking work? : MINES
26
The "Aladdin" song "A Whole New World" takes place on one : MAGICCARPETRIDE
29
Approx. 1,055 joules : BTU
32
Refuses to share : HOGS
34
What a cake candle often represents : YEAR
35
Give it up, so to speak : CLAP
36
Reckless : RASH
38
Fencing sword : EPEE
39
Like "mailman" and "waitress" : GENDERED
40
Clobber : DRUB
42
Cowboys and Spurs : TEAMS
44
Barbra Streisand album "A Love Like ___" : OURS
45
"Uh ... sure" : IGUESSSO
47
Like the central planet in "Dune" : ARID
48
Surprised : CAUGHTUNAWARES
49
Not 100% : ILL
50
Rival of BAL and BOS : NYY
56
Gave extra juice : SUPERCHARGED
58
Family business : MAFIA
60
Tres y tres : SEIS
62
Actress Petty of "A League of Their Own" : LORI
63
What might get you a "ladle" drunk? : SPIKEDPUNCH
64
Handyperson's inits. : DIY
65
Sushi topper : ROE
66
Quaff quickly : CHUG
68
Engineer who coined the term "horsepower" : WATT
70
Hilton alternative : OMNI
71
Sounds of disappointment : TSKS
73
Larrups : TANS
75
Something journalists may work on : SPEC
79
Its wingspan can reach 30 feet : MANTARAY
81
Problem usually encountered at night : APNEA
83
Aetna's business: Abbr. : INS
85
Say uncle : GIVEIN
86
Searched for truffles, maybe : ROOTED
87
Delightful event? : OUTAGE
88
Stretching or tightening muscle : TENSOR
89
Dangling part of a rooster : WATTLE
91
Isle named for a Gaelic goddess : EIRE
92
Shade of black : SABLE
93
Capital once known as Thang Long ("Ascending Dragon") : HANOI
94
Like some booms : SONIC
96
Bow-wielding god : EROS
97
Mini manufacturer : BMW
99
Winnow : SIFT
100
Meter reading : FARE
101
Erato's instrument : LYRE
103
Bit of old-fashioned animation : CEL

Answer summary: 10 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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