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MISQUOTING SCRIPTURE

New York Times, Sunday, May 21, 2017

Author:
Randolph Ross
Editor:
Will Shortz
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1135/12/199111/17/20190
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50103171824
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.486002
Randolph Ross

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 134, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 104 for Mr. Ross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Randolph Ross notes:
I like punny themes... the more groans the better. Constructors, like Merl Reagle, Rich Silvestri and Cathy Allis, who are among my favorites, have done great work in this genre, ... read more

I like punny themes... the more groans the better. Constructors, like Merl Reagle, Rich Silvestri and Cathy Allis, who are among my favorites, have done great work in this genre, especially when they created puzzles with outrageous or clever puns around a particular topic.

"Misquoting Scriptures" tries to do that. It probably started with IN THE BIG INNING, something I probably heard or read related to how the Bible could be connected to baseball. It's a beautiful pun in that it is quite euphonious and funny to think that the Bible would have anything to say about baseball.

Some solvers don't like puns and some who do are strict constructionists about the pun being an exact or very, very close sound-alike, such as GARDEN OF ETON and A MARK UPON CANE are in this puzzle. But, like Merl and Cathy, I'm a little more forgiving about how close in sound a pun needs to be if the entry fits the theme and the clue and solution generate a smile or groan. FORBIDDEN FLUTE and ASSAULT OF THE EARTH are two examples of less rigorous euphony, yet still fit the theme in a funny way.

I'm sure my constructor colleagues who also like these kinds of themes will agree that it sometimes hard to find a balanced set of punny theme entries for a Sunday puzzle, all of which are so tight with their puns that the substitutions are all homophones. That is something to strive for, but should not, in my opinion, be determinative of whether a pun-based theme should fly or not. For this puzzle I was happy that all the theme entries fit the clueing template "The Bible on..." and none were too far astray that the original word being manipulated was not easily identifiable with the original quote.

I was also pleased that I was able to construct this one with a fairly low word count and a lot of theme squares. With some guidance from Will and some reworking, I think we minimized the unappealing and crosswordese entries.

Now I'm thinking about "Misquoting Shakespeare" e.g. TWO BS OR NOT TWO BS — What the Bard thought about when spelling Caribbean?

Hope you enjoy the puzzle.

Jeff Chen notes:
Puns / homophones playing on famous Biblical phrases. This is a tried and true crossword theme type — it was Merl Reagle's specialty — and it lives or dies on how amusing the ... read more

Puns / homophones playing on famous Biblical phrases. This is a tried and true crossword theme type — it was Merl Reagle's specialty — and it lives or dies on how amusing the resulting phrases are. I enjoyed IN THE BIG INNING, as that was a surprising word transformation. And it was fun to think of God playing baseball (he/she and I are both SF Giants fans). FORBIDDEN FLUTE also entertained me, evoking an image of a magic flute held under lock and key.

The others didn't do much for me. LET THERE BE LITE didn't make much grammatical sense, AN AYE FOR AN EYE too easy of a substitution, and I was sure A MARK UPON CANE had to be based on the "mark of Cain." I'm no Bible scholar, but it was news to me that "a mark upon Cain" was a thing.

Even if a puzzle's theme doesn't catch my attention, there's plenty of room for bonus fill or great execution to do so. SCHUBERT was nice at the top of the puzzle. BARN ONE — er, BAR NONE — was another standout. I've never SAFARIED, but I'd sure like to. And even the crazy KEYOFE? Ah, the KEY OF E! Nice.

So much crossword glue, though. I don't mind a few minor STL, TRA, ADDA, REMI here and there. But LII. IT OFF. ASIA M — er, AS I AM. SENAT. (And I kept on ticking off more and more after that.)

VOGEL crossing VALES = yikes. I put in (HOGEL / HALES.) Maybe I ought to know Kenneth Vogel. But for those of us that need an introduction to him, doing it in a such a way to deprive solvers of a correct finish is not the way to do it.

I'll have to respectfully disagree with Randy on the amount of unappealing entries and crosswordese.

I do understand the drive to try difficult constructions — a crazily wide-open grid can make for an interesting challenge. And if the fill was smoother, it could have made for an extra-hard, extra-satisfying-to-complete solve. But making a quality 140-word puzzle is hard enough. Very few people can pull off the sub-140 — much less go all the way down to 134 — while keeping standards to where they need to be, if the NYT's reputation as one of the best puzzles out there is to be maintained.

Still, I did enjoy a couple of the themers, as well as some of the long fill bonuses.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0521 ( 24,666 )
Across
1
Purchase via Charles Schwab: Abbr. : STK
4
"Unfinished" Symphony composer : SCHUBERT
12
Commercial success? : ADSALE
18
Expose : BARE
19
Its slogan is "Family City U.S.A." : OREMUTAH
20
Final bit : TAILEND
22
The Bible on political horse trading? : ANAYEFORANAYE
24
One of the original Mouseketeers : ANNETTE
25
Approaches aggressively : ACCOSTS
26
Cries at unveilings : TADAS
28
Part of a chorus line? : TRA
29
The Bible on camera problems? : THEFLASHISWEAK
35
1987 Best Actress winner : CHER
36
Water carrier : HOSE
37
Square dance group, e.g. : OCTET
38
Rave review : ITSGREAT
42
The Bible on an alien invasion? : ASSAULTOFTHEEARTH
46
Went on an African hunting expedition : SAFARIED
50
Without exception : BARNONE
51
Losing ground? : ERODING
52
A hill of beans? : LIMAS
56
Pass carefully : EASEBY
58
The Bible on where Prince Harry learned horticulture? : GARDENOFETON
60
Perceive : GET
61
Spacewalk, for short : EVA
63
Arafat's successor as P.L.O. chairman : ABBAS
64
Nursery rhyme boy : GEORGIE
66
Forum farewells : VALES
68
Number of weeks per annum? : LII
69
Those with clout : INS
71
The Bible on bad business practices? : FALSEPROFITS
74
Item near a stereo : CDCASE
77
Buc or Bronco : NFLER
78
Newport event : REGATTA
79
Long, long time : DOGSAGE
81
Like all official football games : REFEREED
82
The Bible on directions to hell? : THEROUTEOFALLEVIL
88
Weasel out of : RENEGEON
89
"Take me ___" : ASIAM
90
Sportswear brand : AVIA
94
Bozos : OAFS
95
The Bible on a climactic part of a baseball game? : INTHEBIGINNING
100
Blood work report abbr. : LDL
101
In la-la land : SPACY
104
Skilled banker? : AVIATOR
105
Bungle : LOUSEUP
107
The Bible on ruined sugar crops? : AMARKUPONCANE
113
___ Mill (California gold rush site) : SUTTERS
114
Parent vis-à-vis a child's loan, maybe : COSIGNER
115
"Would ___?" : ILIE
116
Conical construction : TEEPEE
117
Avoid boredom, say : KEEPBUSY
118
Safety device : NET
Down
1
Don Quixote's squire : SANCHO
2
Vestiges : TRACES
3
Setting for spring in Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" : KEYOFE
4
Vowel sound in "hard" and "start" : SOFTA
5
Betray : CROSS
6
Film in which Scarlett Johansson is heard but not seen : HER
7
Actress Thurman : UMA
8
Rear half? : BUN
9
LAX listing : ETA
10
Something poking through the clouds : RAY
11
Symbol in trigonometry : THETA
12
Just slightly : ATAD
13
Perino of Fox News : DANA
14
Confessor's confessions : SINS
15
Sierra Nevada, e.g. : ALE
16
The Bible on diet food? : LETTHEREBELITE
17
Beseech : ENTREAT
18
62-Down's political party : BAATH
21
Scarcity : DEARTH
23
Night school subj. : ESL
27
Japanese relative of a husky : AKITA
30
Two-time Wimbledon winner Lew : HOAD
31
Destination from the E.R. : ICU
32
Cardinal letters : STL
33
Anti-Prohibitionist : WET
34
W.W. II zone, for short : ETO
35
One doing heavy lifting : CRANE
39
A wee hour : THREE
40
French assembly : SENAT
41
Storms of the 1990s : GEOS
42
Sign of spring : ARIES
43
Ireland's ___ Fein : SINN
44
Western lily : SEGO
45
Runners behind O-lines : FBS
46
Erich who wrote "Love Story" : SEGAL
47
Like our numerals : ARABIC
48
The Bible on a taboo musical instrument? : FORBIDDENFLUTE
49
Start of many recipe steps : ADDA
52
Wrangler alternative : LEE
53
Words after hit or knock : ITOFF
54
Fable finale : MORAL
55
Perspective : ANGLE
57
Mrs. Michael Jordan : YVETTE
59
OT enders, sometimes : FGS
60
"Oh wow!" : GEE
62
Putin ally : ASSAD
65
United Nations entrant of 1949: Abbr. : ISR
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Political writer Kenneth : VOGEL
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A long way off : AFAR
69
Matter of debate : ISSUE
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"Keen!" : NEATO
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Before: Abbr. : PREV
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Mortgage deal, for short : REFI
75
Essential parts : CORES
76
Bug-eyed : AGOG
77
Prefix with con : NEO
80
Photo finish? : GENIC
81
Scale sequence : REMI
82
Online mischief-makers : TROLLS
83
Get going : HEADOUT
84
Falstaffian : FAT
85
Pompeii problem : ASH
86
Golfer's concern : LIE
87
Test site : LAB
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Motrin alternative : ANACIN
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Sportscaster Dick : VITALE
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Being part of a secret : INONIT
93
Match : AGREE
96
New York town on the Hudson : NYACK
97
Reacts to an awesome sight : GAPES
98
Shade of white : IVORY
99
"Children of the Albatross" author : NIN
101
Escape slowly : SEEP
102
100% : PURE
103
Quiet place to pray : APSE
106
___-Foy, Que. : STE
108
Stooge with a bowl cut : MOE
109
"Peer Gynt" character : ASE
110
Upholstery problem : RIP
111
Org. in a le Carré novel : KGB
112
Burma's first P.M. : UNU

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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