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JOINED SIDES

New York Times, Sunday, May 4, 2014

Author:
Mary Lou Guizzo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
244/17/20143/6/201913
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
31153641
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61440
Mary Lou Guizzo

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

Jim Horne 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
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
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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
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Tuscany town : SIENA
126
Sign-up : ENROLLEE
127
Classic London transport : DOUBLEDECKER
128
Genetic structure : DOUBLEHELIX
129
Source of some discrimination : DOUBLESTANDARD
Down
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
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Heath evergreens : ERICAS
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Thinks maybe one can : DARESTO
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Huffington of the Huffington Post : ARIANNA
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Teri of "Tootsie" : GARR
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Subject of some computer settings : EMAIL
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Closeted : NOTOUT
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Lao-___ : TSE
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Enter quickly : HOPINTO
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Native New Yorkers : ERIES
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___ D.A. : ASST
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Primatologist Fossey : DIAN
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Sicilian city : ENNA
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Hotel accommodation for more than one : DOUBLEROOM
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Kindle competitor : NOOK
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___ chops : VEAL
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Battle of the ___ : SEXES
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Letter that's also a name : DEE
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Chillax : VEG
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Art appreciation : EYE
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Forever young : AGELESS
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Dimmed stars? : HASBEENS
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Aleutian isle : ATTU
41
Gang up on, as in basketball : DOUBLETEAM
44
"How ___" : SAD
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Tar Heels' state: Abbr. : NCAR
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German musical entertainment : LIEDER
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Auto sponsor of Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life" : DESOTO
51
Hawk : PEDDLE
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Commit a chip-eating faux pas : DOUBLEDIP
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King lead-in : ALA
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Boo-boos : MISSTEPS
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Shell seen around water : SCULL
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Formatting feature on a typewriter : TABSET
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Totality : ALL
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Sired : BEGAT
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Unfazed by : USEDTO
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Better at picking things up? : TIDIER
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Jock : ATHLETE
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Job listing inits. : EEO
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Descent : EBB
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Old car make that's a homophone of a modern car model : REO
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Relative of a twin : DOUBLEBED
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Anatomical tissue : TELA
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Reaction of surprise : DOUBLETAKE
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Ticks off : IRES
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Need a lift? : SAG
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Brand of power tools : STIHL
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Vet, e.g. : DOC
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Queen's honour: Abbr. : OBE
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Brightly colored bird : TANAGER
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Country whose flag says "God is great" 22 times : IRAN
93
Chess champ Mikhail : TAL
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Part of a jazz combo : ALTOSAX
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Precious : DEAR
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Mexican shawls : SARAPES
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___ Gorilla, 1960s TV cartoon character : MAGILLA
100
First of a kind : PIONEER
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Betrayed : DOUBLECROSSED
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Raucous bird : MAGPIE
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Squirrel, e.g. : RODENT
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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, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?