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JOINED SIDES

New York Times, Sunday, May 4, 2014

Author: Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor: Will Shortz
Mary Lou Guizzo
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
194/17/20149/30/20179
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21131641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61120

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {FJQZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Ms. Guizzo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mary Lou Guizzo notes: One of my favorite NYT crossword puzzle constructors is Elizabeth Gorski. Her August 18, 2013 puzzle, EDGINESS, planted the seed for this along with another puzzle published in the WSJ (March 7, 2014, ... more
Mary Lou Guizzo notes: One of my favorite NYT crossword puzzle constructors is Elizabeth Gorski. Her August 18, 2013 puzzle, EDGINESS, planted the seed for this along with another puzzle published in the WSJ (March 7, 2014, co-constructed with Jeff Chen). I remember being intrigued by Ms. Gorski's crossword. Reinforcement came after seeing Dan Schoenholz's CONFUSION puzzle in the NYT on December 5, 2013.

Once I'd decided on DOUBLE-EDGED as the revealer, the next step was to jot down words shared/paired with DOUBLE. After compiling this list, I chose to use perimeter words that were preceded, rather than followed by DOUBLE. Once the perimeter was in place, I followed Jeff's advice to fill the outside first, working my way inward. (He's been AROUND and knows — see his February 23, 2012 NYT puzzle). I really had to DOUBLE down!

I have to laugh now as I'm rereading what Ms. Gorski penned at xwordinfo.com:

"Note to budding constructors: Don't ever try a location-specific theme (in this case, theme words that follow the grid's perimeter) unless you're willing to tear your hair out, gnash your teeth and become a BORDERLINE psycho."

Obviously, I didn't take that good advice — I was working on not just one, but two of these type puzzles.

Ms. Gorski was correct though, at times I thought I was becoming a "borderline case" trying to fill this puzzle cleanly. The only theme related material I had in the center of this grid was the revealer, unlike her puzzle which had the added phrase, AROUND THE PERIMETER (split), in addition to her revealer. My hat is off to you, Ms. Gorski! Thanks not only for the many pleasurable hours of solving delightful puzzles that you have given me, but also for being the inspiration for this and the WSJ puzzle.

I would like to encourage more females to try their hand at constructing and to consider getting into the sciences and math. Unknown to some, it was a young woman, Rosalind Franklin, whose research led to the discovery of the structure of the DOUBLE HELIX of DNA. Unfortunately, she died in 1958, at a young age, and was therefore ineligible for nomination for the Nobel Prize in 1962 which was subsequently awarded to Crick, Watson, and Wilkins in that year.

I hope you enjoyed the DOUBLE feature. (I know, I know, enough DOUBLE talk!) Thanks to Will Shortz for accepting and editing this puzzle. I am thrilled to get a Sunday puzzle in the NYT.

Jeff Chen notes: Mary Lou, back with her second NYT in a month! I enjoyed this one, which featured (DOUBLE) ___ type themers, like a (DOUBLE) BARRELED shotgun and a (DOUBLE) AGENT, all tied together with a DOUBLE EDGED revealer ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Mary Lou, back with her second NYT in a month! I enjoyed this one, which featured (DOUBLE) ___ type themers, like a (DOUBLE) BARRELED shotgun and a (DOUBLE) AGENT, all tied together with a DOUBLE EDGED revealer hinting to the perimeter theme answers. Tight theme, nice.

As with all perimeter theme-type puzzles, fill can be quite tricky. Mary Lou and I have tackled a couple of these constructions together, and there's hardly ever zero compromises. She does well in creating her grid skeleton, which spreads around the white space pretty evenly. If you stand back and squint, not a single white space jumps out at you as bigger than the others, and that's generally what you want. One big space can slaughter you with its intense difficulty to fill.

Lovely selection of longer fill. TITLE ROLES, DEBUT ALBUM, OLIVER STONE, CLEAR THE AIR, yes yes yes yes! That's the way to pick snappy answers. Since the themers are all pretty short, the grid must contain some longer fill (due to the word count maximum) so it's super important to make good use of these spaces. Mary Lou does well here.

Ah, the difficulty of filling these bad boys. Corners like the NW and SE are always going to be tough, playing out like filling a themeless puzzle. The NW is pretty decent, only OEN, SLO, ELL, ERICAS as slight blights. The SW has some more issues, PERCALES being an oddity. When I searched it on Bing, the first answer that came up was the Wikipedia article on Pericles. Now, that may have more to do with Bing than anything, but it felt to me at best a missed opportunity to do something with that nice 8-letter entry slot. And man, is it going to be tough for people unfamiliar with SARAPES.

Sections like the west and east are typically easier to fill since there's not much constraining them like in the four corners, but since Mary Lou has long answers crossing them (TITLE ROLES and DEBUT ALBUM), things get hairy. AREEL, ESSE, and especially TELA create a bit of inelegance, as do CESTA, A HAT, SNEE. Perimeter puzzles are super tricky. Starting in the middle often creates problems in propagating fill out into the corners, and staring in the corners often creates problems in knitting the sections together.

Finally, some great stuff. [Better at picking things up?] wasn't pointing to SMARTER or anything, but TIDIER. And I love to see a clever clue for a shorty like SOD: [Cover some ground?] adds a lot of spice. Stuff like this really adds to my overall impressions of any puzzle.

Congrats on your Sunday NYT debut, Mary Lou! Interesting to see that in 2013, only eleven of the NYT Sunday puzzles were made by women (the awesome Liz Gorski had six of those). Glad to see Mary Lou join the club of Sunday constructors. As I've offered before, if you're a woman interested in working on a Sunday NYT puzzle submission and could use a hand or just some feedback, let's talk. If I can't help you, I'm sure we can find you someone that can. Let's do what we can to even up the stats, yeah? Contact me through the XWord Info home page.

JimH notes: 2013 was a step up from the previous year when there were only seven Sundays by women.
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0504 ( 23,553 )
Across Down
1. Like many shotguns : DOUBLEBARRELED
9. Mole : DOUBLEAGENT
14. Back-to-back games : DOUBLEHEADER
20. Singer Christina : AGUILERA
21. ___ gin fizz : RAMOS
22. "Twelfth Night" lover : ORSINO
23. Oil and gasoline giant : SINCLAIR
24. Very vexed : IRATE
25. Leonardo ___, a.k.a. Fibonacci : PISANO
26. ___-pitch softball : SLO
27. What a detective tries to reconstruct : SCENARIO
29. "Platoon" setting : VIETNAM
30. Sommelier's prefix : OEN
31. Flavor : SEASON
32. Lozenge brand : LUDENS
34. "Platoon" director : OLIVERSTONE
37. Suckling site : TEAT
38. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for ___" (1985 best seller) : AHAT
42. Old Baby Bell based in the Big Apple : NYNEX
43. Assents : OKAYS
45. Stretch out : ELONGATE
47. Neuter : GELD
50. Literary inits. : EAP
52. Jai alai basket : CESTA
53. Water checker? : DAM
56. Going out for the afternoon? : SIESTA
60. The Who's "My Generation," e.g. : DEBUTALBUM
64. Pelvic parts : ILIA
66. Musician's practice with four sharps : ESCALE
68. Former Obama social secretary Rogers : DESIREE
69. Over : PAST
70. Like some swords ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme : DOUBLEEDGED
72. Balkan native : SERB
75. Old Jewish villages : SHTETLS
77. Start of a Beatles refrain : OBLADI
78. Old Highlands dagger : SNEE
79. Thelma and Louise, e.g. : TITLEROLES
82. Davis and Midler : BETTES
84. Cover some ground? : SOD
85. Dizzy : AREEL
86. Bit : TAD
88. "___ put it another way ..." : ORTO
90. Persevered : KEPTATIT
94. Spurs : GOADS
98. Landmark tech product of 1981 : IBMPC
102. Latin "to be" : ESSE
103. Biblical name of ancient Syria : ARAM
105. Dispel differences : CLEARTHEAIR
108. "CSI" setting : DNALAB
110. Coal or pine product : TAROIL
111. Melted chocolate, e.g. : GOO
112. Kind of algebra : BOOLEAN
116. "Is it in you?" sloganeer : GATORADE
118. Write-___ : INS
119. Renter's dream, maybe : OWNING
120. Lhasa ___ (dogs) : APSOS
121. Some sheet fabrics : PERCALES
124. Nothing, in Napoli : NIENTE
125. Tuscany town : SIENA
126. Sign-up : ENROLLEE
127. Classic London transport : DOUBLEDECKER
128. Genetic structure : DOUBLEHELIX
129. Source of some discrimination : DOUBLESTANDARD
1. Wind instrument pitched an octave lower than its smaller cousin : DOUBLEBASSOON
2. How ballerinas move : AGILELY
3. "Enter quickly!" : RUNONIN
4. Rock's Ocasek : RIC
5. Pipe fitting : ELL
6. Renter : LEASER
7. Heath evergreens : ERICAS
8. Thinks maybe one can : DARESTO
9. Huffington of the Huffington Post : ARIANNA
10. Teri of "Tootsie" : GARR
11. Subject of some computer settings : EMAIL
12. Closeted : NOTOUT
13. Lao-___ : TSE
14. Enter quickly : HOPINTO
15. Native New Yorkers : ERIES
16. ___ D.A. : ASST
17. Primatologist Fossey : DIAN
18. Sicilian city : ENNA
19. Hotel accommodation for more than one : DOUBLEROOM
28. Kindle competitor : NOOK
29. ___ chops : VEAL
31. Battle of the ___ : SEXES
33. Letter that's also a name : DEE
35. Chillax : VEG
36. Art appreciation : EYE
38. Forever young : AGELESS
39. Dimmed stars? : HASBEENS
40. Aleutian isle : ATTU
41. Gang up on, as in basketball : DOUBLETEAM
44. "How ___" : SAD
46. Tar Heels' state: Abbr. : NCAR
48. German musical entertainment : LIEDER
49. Auto sponsor of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" : DESOTO
51. Hawk : PEDDLE
53. Commit a chip-eating faux pas : DOUBLEDIP
54. King lead-in : ALA
55. Boo-boos : MISSTEPS
57. Shell seen around water : SCULL
58. Formatting feature on a typewriter : TABSET
59. Totality : ALL
61. Sired : BEGAT
62. Unfazed by : USEDTO
63. Better at picking things up? : TIDIER
65. Jock : ATHLETE
67. Job listing inits. : EEO
71. Descent : EBB
73. Old car make that's a homophone of a modern car model : REO
74. Relative of a twin : DOUBLEBED
76. Anatomical tissue : TELA
79. Reaction of surprise : DOUBLETAKE
80. Ticks off : IRES
81. Need a lift? : SAG
83. Brand of power tools : STIHL
87. Vet, e.g. : DOC
89. Queen's honour: Abbr. : OBE
91. Brightly colored bird : TANAGER
92. Country whose flag says "God is great" 22 times : IRAN
93. Chess champ Mikhail : TAL
95. Part of a jazz combo : ALTOSAX
96. Precious : DEAR
97. Mexican shawls : SARAPES
99. ___ Gorilla, 1960s TV cartoon character : MAGILLA
100. First of a kind : PIONEER
101. Betrayed : DOUBLECROSSED
104. Raucous bird : MAGPIE
106. Squirrel, e.g. : RODENT
107. South American land : TIERRA
108. Al ___ : DENTE
109. Swiss city on the Rhine : BASEL
112. Attraction in a carbon dioxide molecule : DOUBLEBOND
113. Baby's boo-boo : OWIE
114. Equivalent of 20 fins : ONEC
115. Something clickable : LINK
117. Collette of "United States of Tara" : TONI
120. Blond shade : ASH
122. Bamboozle : CON
123. City council rep. : ALD

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 6 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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