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THE IN CROWD

New York Times, Sunday, June 14, 2015

Author:
Randolph Ross
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1115/12/19912/28/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
49103161824
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.486002
Randolph Ross

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 ... read more

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 ... read more

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
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
Down
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
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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
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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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