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MAKING PROJECTIONS

New York Times, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is completed, an apt phrase can be found by starting at the top central letter and reading clockwise.
Tom McCoy notes:
The phrase DROP DOWN MENU was a lifesaver in constructing this puzzle. Every decent grid arrangement I found required a theme answer to end with a U, which was troublesome because U shows ... read more

The phrase DROP DOWN MENU was a lifesaver in constructing this puzzle. Every decent grid arrangement I found required a theme answer to end with a U, which was troublesome because U shows up so rarely in word-final position. Luckily, DROP DOWN MENU saved the day.

Originally, MOUNT MCKINLEY was going to be MOUNT VESUVIUS. I made the switch to MCKINLEY so that you can view the grid as a map of the US with Florida and Alaska in roughly the correct places.

I thought it might bother some people for SHARK FIN to have no symmetrical partner, so I put the answer RANCHER opposite it. RANCHER is another term for a ranch house, which explains why it does not stick out of the grid—ranch houses often lack basements.

Jeff Chen notes:
PROJECTIONS sticking up from the top of the puzzle and down from the bottom, the projecting letters aptly spelling out SORE THUMB. Stuck out like a sore thumb, indeed! I appreciated ... read more

PROJECTIONS sticking up from the top of the puzzle and down from the bottom, the projecting letters aptly spelling out SORE THUMB. Stuck out like a sore thumb, indeed!

Either a protest against shark finning ... or maybe day at Disney?

I appreciated how much care Tom put into selecting his themers. It would be all to easy to have just any entry starting with S for the first themer, but Tom picked SHARK FIN, which not only is a colorful entry, but also looks bizarre in the grid as HARK FIN. Same goes for RADIOANTENNA, which had me baffled when I uncovered the ADIOAN- start. I was sure there was some sort of unscrambling gimick involved.

Nice execution on the grid, too. Very little glue to hold everything together, plus a lot of supplemental fill that added to my experience. ITS NO WONDER I enjoyed the puzzle, getting KELVINS in the center. I was indignantly sure that it was incorrect, in that temperatures are given in Kelvin, not Kelvin, but a quick check reminded me that KELVINS are indeed used to express temperature differences.

So much for my mechanical engineering master's degree.

It's too bad that this puzzle was published so close to Kameron Collins' recent HA HA HA puzzle. It's great to get an outside-the-box rule breaker once in a while, but the gimmick loses its edge when overused.

Also, I would have loved to get grid art in the shape of a thumb. Not sure if that's possible with black squares, but perhaps something with circles could have been done? Some extra element around SORE THUMB would have been fantastic, and it might have also forced a breakup of that wide center swath, which has so few ways into it. It's a neat feat to generate a clean swath with so many mid-length answers, but having it so heavily bordered off in the NW and SE made it too much like a mini-puzzle for my taste.

Overall though, a neat idea, strong themer choice, and a pretty good punchline.

ADDED NOTE: Jim pointed out that all the upper half theme answers are sort of "things that stick up" and the lower half answers are "things that stick down." A nice additional layer of theme that I missed. D'oh!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0531 ( 23,945 )
Across
1
Choco ___ (Klondike treat) : TACO
5
School : TEACH
10
Items that may be labeled SMTWTFS : PILLS
15
Dog sound : ARF
18
Series of numbers? : ALBUM
20
Kurt Vonnegut's "Happy Birthday, ___ June" : WANDA
21
Former part of the British Empire : INDIA
22
Joe Biden's home: Abbr. : DEL
23
"I expected as much" : ITSNOWONDER
25
Towering : LOFTY
26
Letters of obligation : IOU
27
Hair piece : TRESS
28
Currency which, in one denomination, features a portrait of Linnaeus : KRONA
30
Garment for tennis, perhaps : SKORT
32
Not as exciting : TAMER
34
Return from a store : PROFIT
37
When blacksmithing began : IRONAGE
39
Perfect orbit : CIRCLE
40
Fanatical : RABID
41
66, e.g.: Abbr. : RTE
42
Nav. rank : ENS
43
Run ___ : AMOK
44
Boarded : GOTON
45
"Awe-SOME!" : SUHWEET
47
Occurring in March and September, say : SEMIANNUAL
50
Shenanigans : TOMFOOLERY
53
Dietary no-no : TRANSFAT
54
Grey and ochre : COLOURS
55
"There is ___ in team" : NOI
56
Pleasant inflection : LILT
57
Park opened in 1964 : SEAWORLD
59
Easy-peasy task : SNAP
60
Chocolate mint brand with peaks in its logo : ANDES
63
Temperature units : KELVINS
64
Muscles worked by leg presses : QUADS
65
Anti-Revolutionary of 1776 : TORY
66
Gets harsher : HOARSENS
68
An example of itself : NOUN
70
Lacto-___ vegetarian : OVO
71
Condemned : DECRIED
72
Gone : VANISHED
76
Hockey team with a patriotic name : MAPLELEAFS
78
Distraction for many an idle person : SMARTPHONE
80
Bests : DEFEATS
81
Capacious : ROOMY
82
Apple desktop : IMAC
83
National Novel Writing Mo. : NOV
84
Havana-to-Palm Beach dir. : NNE
85
Eagerly accept : LAPUP
86
See 92-Across : STNICK
88
Handled roughly : PAWEDAT
90
Japanese for "teacher" : SENSEI
91
Message to one's followers : TWEET
92
Portrayer of 86-Across in "Elf" : ASNER
93
Artifact : RELIC
95
Rakes : ROUES
97
Cooking spray brand : PAM
98
"The Downeaster '___'" (Billy Joel song) : ALEXA
100
Sleep mode? : HIBERNATION
106
Malt product : ALE
107
Bring home the gold : WINIT
108
Barely manage : EKEBY
109
Breakfast cereal maker : KASHI
110
Hyphenated fig. : SSN
111
Factions : SECTS
112
"It was just a joke!" : RELAX
113
Where writing is on the wall? : TOMB
Down
1
Mai ___ : TAI
2
Bottom-row key : ALT
3
Capt. Kangaroo's network : CBS
4
Peak that's known as "The Great One" : MOUNTMCKINLEY
5
Rare notes : TWOS
6
Crisp bit in a stir-fry : BEANSPROUT
7
Further : AND
8
String after B : CDE
9
Seafood soup base : SHARKFIN
10
Series opener : PILOT
11
Privy to : INON
12
Attraction that operates under its own steam? : OLDFAITHFUL
13
Not in the dark : LIT
14
Authorization : SAYSO
15
Catcher of some waves : RADIOANTENNA
16
Shake-ups in corps. : REORGS
17
Champagne holder : FLUTE
19
Seasonal linguine topper : MOREL
24
"___ even" : WERE
29
Expunge : RID
31
Prepare to tie a shoelace, say : KNEEL
32
Staple of quiz bowls : TIMER
33
Redolence : AROMA
35
Pro ___ : RATA
36
Coin to pay for passage across the River Styx : OBOL
38
Put another way : REWORD
39
Strewn : CAST
41
Fodder for tabloids : RUMORS
44
Little bugger : GNAT
45
Wise ones : SOLONS
46
Daughter of Hyperion : EOS
48
Condition of sale : ASIS
49
TV's "The ___ Today" : NFL
50
Bring, as to a repair shop : TOWIN
51
Thoroughfare : ROAD
52
Dog sounds : YIPS
54
Collapsed, with "in" : CAVED
57
Ends of letters : SERIFS
58
Somebody ___ : ELSES
59
Words below an orange on a license plate : SUNSHINESTATE
60
One of 24 in a glucose molecule : ATOM
61
Bagel topper : NOVA
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It might contain a list of postal abbreviations : DROPDOWNMENU
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Something you might get a kick out of? : KARATE
64
Steven Wright's "I intend to live forever. So far, so good," e.g. : QUIP
66
Capital city founded during a gold rush : HELENA
67
Mariana, e.g. : OCEANTRENCH
68
___ a one : NARY
69
What's superior to Lake Superior: Abbr. : ONT
71
Hip-hop's Mos ___ : DEF
72
Hematophagous creature : VAMPIREBAT
73
Buddy : HOMIE
74
Pass : ENACT
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Hand source : DECK
77
Bank to rely on : LEVEE
78
Soaks (up) : SOPS
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Pouting expression : MOUE
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Major stockholder? : RANCHER
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"m" and "n" : NASALS
85
Hula hoop? : LEI
86
Dumbfound : STUN
87
Small change : TWEAK
88
June honorees : PAPAS
89
Parts, as blinds : DRAWS
90
Blind parts : SLATS
94
Highway number : EXIT
96
Variety of antelope : ORYX
99
Fiction : LIE
101
Old White House moniker : IKE
102
Unit usually seen with the prefix deci- : BEL
103
Equal: Prefix : ISO
104
Big name in current research? : OHM
105
Point of writing? : NIB

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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