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THE IN CROWD

New York Times, Sunday, June 14, 2015

Author: Randolph Ross
Editor: Will Shortz
Randolph Ross
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1065/12/19912/2/20180
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1.475002

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 132, Blocks: 66 Missing: {X} This is puzzle # 102 for Mr. Ross. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Randolph Ross notes: The theme started with IN VESTMENTS. Seemed like a breakup that could lead to some interesting wordplay. I thought there would be plenty like PRIVATE IN VESTMENTS where the IN word could be split and form some ... more
Randolph Ross notes:

The theme started with IN VESTMENTS. Seemed like a breakup that could lead to some interesting wordplay. I thought there would be plenty like PRIVATE IN VESTMENTS where the IN word could be split and form some fun phrases. Oddly enough, it took a lot of work to find these seven — words like INCREASE, INVOICE, INSPECTOR, INSECT didn't have pairings that made a phrase that could be clued easily.

This is the kind of wordplay theme I like as a solver. It's on the traditional side (no rebus, no circles, no meta). I call it sort of an Alice in Wonderland look at the language. I find these kind of themes hard to come up with but very satisfying when I do. Merl Reagle does this the best.

I'm also pleased I got this one down to a 132 worder. I am motivated to go for low word counts because it force me to include longer fill entries that solvers don't see as much. I also find it forces me to come up with entries that I've never used before (e.g. TEEN IDOL, JENNERS, LOOPY, AB POSITIVE, etc.)

I hope no one is offended by BRAIN INJURY in the puzzle ... my feeling has always been if it's in the language and I could read it in the NY Times then it's OK for a puzzle. There have been lots of NFL articles about brain injuries. I once got a letter from a solver ticked off that I use CRAZY as an entry because it he said it made light of mental illness (this puzzle has LOOPY). I guess I'm also not a strong believer in the "breakfast test"... crossword puzzles should not be taken that sensitively IMO ( I once did a whole puzzle about unappetizing foods, e.g FRIED LICE, BEES AND CARROTS, et al). Like Merl says..."twisted but fair."

Thanks to Will for publishing this one. The best editors, like him, always make my puzzles better.

Happy solving!

Jeff Chen notes: Normal phrases using words starting with IN, where the IN is separated out for wacky results. It took me all the way to the bottom before I uncovered my first themer, where I was delighted to find this wasn't an ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Normal phrases using words starting with IN, where the IN is separated out for wacky results. It took me all the way to the bottom before I uncovered my first themer, where I was delighted to find this wasn't an "add-an-IN" type puzzle. CRIMINAL IN TENT was pretty amusing.

I like transformations that 1.) dramatically change the base phrase and 2.) are funny. GENERAL INFORMATION hit the mark for me, as it's amusing to think about a general hiding somewhere in the ranks, and INFORMATION is very different from IN FORMATION. SISTER IN LAW tickled my funny bone, but IN LAW is too close to the IN-LAW base for my taste.

Coming soon: Nuns on the Run 2: Private in Vestments

PRIVATE INVESTMENTS made me pause, as PRIVATE EQUITY is much more common in financial lingo, but it's still a reasonable base phrase. And I did like the image of a private dressed in a priest's outfit, a la "Nuns on the Run."

BRAIN INJURY … it is amusing to think about Encyclopedia Brown in a jury, and INJURY to IN JURY is a fun transformation, but the base phrase is such a downer. Randy and I emailed about this, and I see his point about the NYT reporting about football injuries, concussion studies, etc. Still, I'd rather have crosswords pick up my spirit; a bit of escapism.

I like Randy's experimentation with low word counts. Now, I don't care for plural names (JENNERS) unless they're something in common use (the OBAMAS, say), and the entries made artificially long by adding ON, TO, OUT, OVER, AT (TOOK TO, etc.) don't add much, but overall it's a fun experience to have to puzzle out a whole lot more six- and seven-letter entries than usual. Some of the shorter stuff, like SIP TEA and PIG IT, felt pretty made-up to me, but nicer entries like ON PAPER balance them out.

I'm not convinced that the ultra-low word count is my cup of tea, but I like seeing the experimentation.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0614 ( 23,959 )
Across Down
1. Theoretically, at least : ONPAPER
8. Social exchanges : CHATS
13. Creator of Stupefyin' Jones : ALCAPP
19. It's said to be "the mother of success" : FAILURE
20. Offshore sight : OILRIG
22. Painted amateurishly : DAUBED
23. Dispute between Loretta Lynch and her co-workers? : FIGHTINJUSTICE
25. 1994 movie based on an "S.N.L." character : ITSPAT
26. Nike competitor : AVIA
27. Naval bases? : KEELS
28. B'way buy : TKT
29. Manila moolah : PESOS
30. Words before "Be" and "Go" in two hit songs : LETIT
32. Option for a non-grad : GED
33. Fowl pole? : ROOST
35. Rank above bey : PASHA
37. Army V.I.P. at a military parade? : GENERALINFORMATION
41. Chemistry unit: Abbr. : MOL
44. System starter? : ECO
45. Early times, for short : AMS
46. "Voulez-___" ("Mamma Mia!" song) : VOUS
47. Deck (out) : TOG
48. Smartest one to consider a case? : BRAININJURY
52. Ballet jumps : JETES
53. Suffix with Manhattan : ITE
54. Dreamboat : ADONIS
55. Org. that regulates arsenic and asbestos : EPA
56. Oscar Wilde poem "The Garden of ___" : EROS
57. Say for sure : AVER
58. "It brings tears to my eyes" : SOSAD
59. Loafer, e.g. : SLIPON
62. Winter coats : ULSTERS
64. Municipal building located where major roads intersect? : COURTINJUNCTION
68. The same as : EQUALTO
71. Empty ___ : NESTER
72. One fry short of a Happy Meal : LOOPY
76. Sally ___ (sweet bun) : LUNN
77. Letter from the teacher : MARK
79. Religious title : FRA
80. Became enamored with : TOOKTO
81. Dorm V.I.P.s : RAS
82. Sprays, with "down" : HOSES
83. Nun for the defense? : SISTERINLAW
85. Sch. in Norfolk, Va. : ODU
86. Abbr. on a town's welcome sign : ESTD
87. Dead-on : APT
88. Attention getters : YOS
89. Dummkopf : ASS
90. G.I. dressed like a priest? : PRIVATEINVESTMENTS
96. Exposed : OUTED
97. Not look forward to at all : DREAD
98. Play ___ with (harm) : HOB
99. Standard deviation symbol : SIGMA
103. Desiccate : PARCH
105. Where It.'s at : EUR
106. Truman's Missouri birthplace : LAMAR
108. Third-class : POOR
109. Dick ___, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who popularized the zone blitz : LEBEAU
110. Felon at a campground? : CRIMINALINTENT
113. Least active : IDLEST
114. In the future : TOCOME
115. New parent's purchase : LAYETTE
116. Early online forum : USENET
117. Night lights : NEONS
118. Lowlifes : SLEAZES
1. Slaughterhouse scraps : OFFAL
2. Green : NAIVE
3. Live in squalor, informally : PIGIT
4. Secretary of state after Ed Muskie : ALHAIG
5. Wall Street order : PUT
6. Tenor in "The Flying Dutchman" : ERIK
7. Back away from : RENEGEON
8. Might have, informally : COULDA
9. Blow off steam? : HISS
10. Flight stat. : ALT
11. Spiral seashells : TRITONS
12. Fed up with : SICKOF
13. Go for ___ (swim) : ADIP
14. It might allow a student to avoid detention : LATEPASS
15. Vituperate, informally : CUSSAT
16. Best blood type for a transfusion recipient : ABPOSITIVE
17. Toy blowgun : PEASHOOTER
18. Summer hours in L.A. : PDT
21. Recovers from : GETSOVER
24. Raspberry : JEER
31. Any member of One Direction : TEENIDOL
33. Frost-covered : RIMY
34. Bring forward : TROTOUT
36. Ticks off : ANGERS
38. Most-watched TV series of 2012-13 : NCIS
39. "S.N.L." castmate of John, Dan and Gilda : LARAINE
40. Breakfast cereal : MUESLI
41. Degs. for future financiers : MBAS
42. Great Seal word : ORDO
43. Landlocked Asian land : LAOS
49. How most Campbell's soup comes : INACAN
50. Kid : JEST
51. Satellite connections : UPLINKS
52. Longtime reality TV family on the E! channel : JENNERS
57. When there's "darkness" in a classic Arthur Koestler novel : ATNOON
60. Sleepers, for short : PJS
61. Closet collection : OUTFITS
63. Featured musicians : SOLOISTS
65. Maximum : UTMOST
66. Like some peanuts and celebrities : ROASTED
67. Political suffix : CRAT
68. Cheap smoke, in slang : ELROPO
69. Most mammals : QUADRUPEDS
70. Not appropriate : UNSUITABLE
73. Home of Broken Arrow and Broken Bow: Abbr. : OKLA
74. Mom-and-pop orgs. : PTAS
75. Pained plaints : YOWS
78. Follow-up to a cross-examination : REDIRECT
80. 1982 Disney film : TRON
82. Nut job : HEADCASE
83. Earned a citation, maybe : SPED
84. Watches : EYEBALLS
87. It's a sin : AVARICE
91. Tony winner for "Pippin" : VEREEN
92. One making cell transmissions : NEURON
93. Macbeth and Macduff : THANES
94. Where to see a van Gogh in N.Y.C. : MOMA
95. What many English do in the afternoon : SIPTEA
100. Bernhard ___, so-called "Subway Vigilante" of 1984 : GOETZ
101. Con game : MONTE
102. Song and dance, in Seville : ARTES
104. Jabba, for one, in "Star Wars" : HUTT
106. Portray : LIMN
107. Unit of currency for some oil : RIAL
109. Lucy of TV's "Elementary" : LIU
111. ___ shu pork : MOO
112. Science advocate Bill : NYE

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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