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MAKING PROJECTIONS

New York Times, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Author: Tom McCoy
Editor: Will Shortz
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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 up so rarely in ... more
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 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 how much care Tom put ... more
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!

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 Down
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
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
62. It might contain a list of postal abbreviations : DROPDOWNMENU
63. 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
75. Hand source : DECK
77. Bank to rely on : LEVEE
78. Soaks (up) : SOPS
79. Pouting expression : MOUE
81. Major stockholder? : RANCHER
83. "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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