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BEST PICTURE ADAPTATIONS

New York Times, Sunday, May 29, 2016

Author: Kevin G. Der
Editor: Will Shortz
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393/12/20073/31/20182
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1.65865
Kevin G. Der

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 82 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Der. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin G. Der notes: This puzzle might be the most straightforward Sunday theme I've had in the Times, but hopefully it's no less enjoyable. I love movies, so it was a lot of fun to go through all of the Oscar Best Picture winners ... more
Kevin G. Der notes:

This puzzle might be the most straightforward Sunday theme I've had in the Times, but hopefully it's no less enjoyable. I love movies, so it was a lot of fun to go through all of the Oscar Best Picture winners and see which ones were one letter away from odd, funny phrases.

One choice during construction was to add the two extra 10-letter entries right alongside longer counterparts; this made the grid a bit less wide open, but with a theme like this, I figured it was worth it so that more solvers would find their favorites Oscar movies in the grid. I'm hoping this puzzle brings people delight as they enjoy their long weekend.

Jeff Chen notes: Fun plays on Oscar-winning movies, changing a single letter to give kooky results. SILENCE OF THE IAMBS was laugh-out loud funny due to its absurdity, and the rest were generally pretty humorous. Amusing to think ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Fun plays on Oscar-winning movies, changing a single letter to give kooky results. SILENCE OF THE IAMBS was laugh-out loud funny due to its absurdity, and the rest were generally pretty humorous. Amusing to think of Jabba the Hut as THE VAST EMPEROR.

Watch your carbs, kid

It felt inelegant to have some THEs included and some not, but I imagine it was necessary for crossword symmetry. A shame.

Given Kevin's history of multi-layered themes, I was so sure something was going to be spelled by the changed letters. Or the original letters? After all, there would be some flexibility given that DEER HUNTER could be changed to PEER, SEER, DEAR, DEED, even PUNTER, HINTER. Alas, BIVUGFKGH (new letters) DLLAENDTF (original letters) don't spell anything. Ah well; fun to think of what might have been.

Kevin does really well with his bonus fill — COOKIE TIN, FLAGPOLES, RAVE REVIEW, RAN LIKE MAD, MONGOLIA — useful to keep up the interest of the non-movie fans out there. Even GAS MAIN, TRIPPY, STASIS added to the quality of my solve.

A few blips in short fill are to be expected in any 140-word Sunday puzzle. Kevin mostly keeps his gluey bits to the ignorable kind, with a bit of BEL, ENE, TRAC, OEO. The one place I thought was pretty crunchy was the AIT/ARHAT region in the upper right. Not surprising since Kevin chose to stack BEER HUNTER and SILENCE OF THE IAMBS, forcing a ton of letter pairs to work with. Perhaps ARHAT should be in solvers' general knowledge, since it's an important concept in Buddhism? But this is the one spot where it feels like the solver isn't 100% set up to ultimately win.

It would have been mind-blowing to get an extra layer into this puzzle, the nine special letters somehow spelling out … something. Too bad ADAPTATION is 10 letters, not nine! But it would have been nearly impossible to get a sequence like this worked in, given the rules of crossword symmetry and the difficulty of packing in so many themers.

As it was, I appreciated Kevin's efforts to shoehorn in a ton of fun movie "adaptations." Much more straightforward than I expect from Kevin, but still an enjoyable solve.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0529 ( 24,309 )
Across Down
1. 2013 Best Picture nominee in which a main character isn't human : HER
4. Airplane part : CABIN
9. "Hairspray" mom usually played by a man : EDNA
13. Leg presses work them : QUADS
18. 60 minuti : ORA
19. Successors to Cutlasses : ALEROS
21. Best Picture adaptation about ... a search for the perfect brew, with "The"? : BEERHUNTER
23. Disney Channel's "___ and Maddie" : LIV
24. ... inaudible metrical poetry, with "The"? : SILENCEOFTHEIAMBS
26. Northeast Corridor train : ACELA
28. Like groaners : CORNY
29. River islet : AIT
30. 1988 chart-topping country album : REBA
32. Game for bankers? : POOL
33. Psychedelic : TRIPPY
37. ... a fat Eastern monarch? : THEVASTEMPEROR
43. One in a no-blinking contest : STARER
45. Second draft : REVISION
46. Neighbor : ABUT
48. Extended rental? : LIMO
49. Sea urchin, at a sushi bar : UNI
50. ... fools accompanying a pack of wild animals? : DUNCESWITHWOLVES
56. King's handful : SCEPTER
59. Chance occurrence, old-style : HAP
60. Bad sound in a changing room : RIP
61. Vegas-to-Denver dir. : ENE
62. Part of a city network : SEWER
63. "Relax" : EASY
64. Reusable part of a common thank-you gift : COOKIETIN
67. ... a reed and percussion duet? : GONGWITHTHEWIND
71. Group standing at the U.N. : FLAGPOLES
74. Treat with a "Golden" variety : OREO
75. They rank below marquises : EARLS
79. Words before and after "what" : IAM
80. O.T. book before Jeremiah : ISA
81. Chorus line? : LAS
82. Obstacle in road repairs, maybe : GASMAIN
84. ... an éclair or crème brûlée, with "The"? : FRENCHCONFECTION
90. Previously : NEE
91. Spork part : TINE
92. Daughter in E. M. Forster's "Howards End" : EVIE
93. Neighbor of Irkutsk on a Risk board : MONGOLIA
96. Badger : HARASS
99. ... gorgeous fur? : ABEAUTIFULMINK
103. Shred : TATTER
105. Lit ___ : CRIT
106. Safari sight? : LINK
107. Singer DiFranco : ANI
108. Like a portrait that seems to be watching you : EERIE
110. Winnower : SIEVE
113. ... cooties from hugs and kisses? : GERMSOFENDEARMENT
121. Blender setting : MIX
122. ... a salon woman I go to? : MYHAIRLADY
123. Tush : HEINIE
124. Set of anecdotes : ANA
125. A while, in hyperbole : AEONS
126. Olympian with a bow : EROS
127. Jet similar to a 747 : DCTEN
128. Benedictine title : DOM
1. Chihuahua greeting : HOLA
2. Country singer Church : ERIC
3. * * * * : RAVEREVIEW
4. Honeydew cousins : CASABAS
5. U.S. women's soccer star Krieger : ALI
6. Volume measure : BEL
7. Cause of boiling over : IRE
8. Sarge, e.g. : NONCOM
9. Jet : EBON
10. Stand up to : DEFY
11. Bit of safari equipment : NET
12. Enlightened Buddhist : ARHAT
13. "Enough is enough!" : QUITIT
14. "___ voce poco fa" (Rossini aria) : UNA
15. PIN point : ATM
16. One having a ball? : DEB
17. G.R.E. takers: Abbr. : SRS
20. Ice cream order : SCOOP
22. Juniors, maybe : HEIRS
25. Writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
27. 1880s-'90s veep ___ P. Morton : LEVI
31. Step ___ : ASIDE
32. Half of a Vegas show duo : PENN
34. Shroud : PALL
35. ___ Drive (street where Harry Potter grew up) : PRIVET
36. Dweller along the Mandeb Strait : YEMENI
37. Bridge support : TRUSS
38. "As such ..." : HENCE
39. College campus offering : TOUR
40. Like carpaccio or crudités : RAW
41. Geisha's accessory : OBI
42. Metaphorical low point : RUT
44. Physicist Nathan who postulated wormholes : ROSEN
47. Attempt at a dunk tank : THROW
51. Spiced teas : CHAIS
52. The White House's ___ Room : EAST
53. Peeping Tom's spot : SPYHOLE
54. Modern encyclopedia platform : WIKI
55. Muses : OPINES
57. Simon of the "Mission: Impossible" films : PEGG
58. It circles the globe : TROPIC
63. Merino mother : EWE
64. Stethoscope's place : CHEST
65. War on Poverty agcy. : OEO
66. Main ingredient in queso relleno : EDAM
68. Bite : NOSH
69. Like candied apples : GLACE
70. Gillette razor name : TRAC
71. Liquor purchase : FIFTH
72. Ring around the collar? : LARIAT
73. Chief Theban god : AMENRA
76. Hightailed it : RANLIKEMAD
77. Peaceful protest : LIEIN
78. Apt anagram of SNAKE : SNEAK
82. Slip : GOOF
83. Quash : ANNUL
85. Peachy : NEAT
86. Things zygotes come from : OVA
87. Penpoint : NIB
88. Commission, e.g. : FEE
89. "You're stuck with me" : IMIT
94. What stars do : GLISTEN
95. Hilton alternative : OMNI
97. Equilibrium : STASIS
98. Sancho Panza, e.g. : SENOR
100. About 3/4 of a football field : ACRE
101. ___ Heep (Dickens villain) : URIAH
102. Like some sponsorship packages : TIERED
104. One taking a long shot? : RIFLE
108. Prefix with spore : ENDO
109. "Slow Churned" brand : EDYS
111. Antipasto pairing : VINO
112. Reason for a class struggle? : EXAM
113. TV inits. since 1975 : GMA
114. Photographer's asset : EYE
115. Certain fraternity chapter : RHO
116. "Wowie!" : MAN
117. Musician's asset : EAR
118. Lapel attachment : MIC
119. Suffix with subsist : ENT
120. Never, in Nikolaus : NIE

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle.

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