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TRAFFIC INTERSECTIONS

New York Times, Sunday, June 19, 2016

Author: David Woolf
Editor: Will Shortz
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1711/15/20137/31/20180
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1.55310
David Woolf

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 144, Blocks: 73 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Woolf. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: We recommend using the PDF, or alternatively one of the other available electronic versions, for solving this puzzle, as it contains elements that the software cannot reproduce.

Specifically, six squares which normally would be black instead each have their four edges colored, alternating between green and red. These colored squares occur at the intersections of 31A/11D, 34A/5D, 46A/26D, 62A/45D, 92A/67D and 98A/75D.
David Woolf notes: This theme idea arose when I started picturing the crossword grid as intersecting streets. I tried to think of a way to represent a stop light in the grid somehow, and have certain answers stop on RED in one ... more
David Woolf notes:

This theme idea arose when I started picturing the crossword grid as intersecting streets. I tried to think of a way to represent a stop light in the grid somehow, and have certain answers stop on RED in one direction and continue through on GREEN in the other. I realized I couldn't have the stoplight squares as rebus squares without some unconventional cluing or grid numbering, so I settled on hiding stoplights in the black squares.

I then found a number of phrases where GREEN could be represented by a black square while the subsequent letter string would still be a perfectly acceptable crossword entry (such as BERG in HANK GREENBERG). Finally, I decided that this puzzle could use a revealer that might give an assist to any solvers who were stupefied by the theme. (Note: Will et al. decided to obviate the intersections, replacing the black squares with red and green colored squares. While I sense that this will make the puzzle eminently more solvable, I wonder if it doesn't also remove a certain aha moment from the solve.)

Symmetry for all six stop lights was impossible, though some ended up with a symmetric partner anyway, mostly because that's where I could fit them. The North and South open sections were the most challenging to fill, though no part of this puzzle filled easily. In spite of the challenges, I was pleased to be able to include CASH BAR (after having CASH BARS in my debut a few years ago), NON-EVENT, and SANTA CON.

This puzzle went through two revisions for the fill (getting rid of things like TA-DAH and HEY MA (crossing at the H) and HEALEY and YGRITTE (crossing at the Y) before it officially was accepted.

I hope everyone enjoyed the puzzle and that the challenge/payoff ratio was worth it.

Jeff Chen notes: Such a cool graphic in the pdf. The red/green ellipses are simple, but they provide a cool traffic light image. Really neat when I realized all the GREEN phrases are going through the green lights, and all the RED ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Such a cool graphic in the pdf. The red/green ellipses are simple, but they provide a cool traffic light image. Really neat when I realized all the GREEN phrases are going through the green lights, and all the RED phrases stop — except for the RUNNING A RED LIGHT revealer! I normally like perfect consistency in themes, but that exception was fantastic.

Hammerin' HANK GREEN(BERG)

I missed how this puzzle worked at first. 11-Down, the Detroit Tiger whose #5 is retired ... I thought he was just HANK GREEN. It confused me that the second half of that entry — BERG — formed another word. It is pretty cool that every GREEN themer worked this way, but that was a big source of bafflement for me.

Sometimes the second half of this type of themer gets a [no clue] or a [-], which is a dead giveaway that something odd is going on. I often think that makes things too easy. But today, I would have appreciated it, since I missed the full extent of the theme at first.

It's a tough balance — you don't want to make the puzzle too easy, but you also want to make sure lots of solvers actually understand the theme when they finish. I'm curious how many "Who is Hank Green"? questions I'll get, or how many people will think [Symbol of Washington State] is simply EVERGREEN, rather than the full answer, EVERGREEN TREE. We've fixed up all the answers below, if you want to make sure you didn't miss anything.

My first impression was that it was too bad that the themers were asymmetrical, but I think it's perfectly fine now. It might be one of those rare cases where asymmetry is actually better, since it more accurately reflects the non-regular layout of some city's streets. It also gave David a ton of more freedom in selecting colorful (pun intended) theme answers.

I found it to be an extremely difficult solve, with somewhat choked off grid flow (perhaps appropriate for a traffic-jammed city?) and some rough patches necessitated by all the restrictions of the themers. Still, a couple of awkward EDATES and SLEAZO (not SLEAZE?) kind of things didn't stop me from enjoying this one. Memorable, for sure.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0619 ( 24,330 )
Across Down
1. It's accommodating : BANDB
6. Comic cries of frustration : ACKS
10. Grouped for threshing, say : SHEAFED
17. Continuing story : SERIAL
18. Busybody : SNOOP
19. Sly one? : STALLONE
20. Many-time Indy 500 pace car : CAMARO
21. Pruritic : ITCHY
22. Goal on a first down : TENYARDS
23. Handle letters : AKA
24. Gender nonconformist : TOMGIRL
26. Ruin : SINK
27. Hazel's love in "The Fault in Our Stars" : GUS
28. Musical with the songs "Santa Fe" and "I Should Tell You" : RENT
30. Blockheaded : DENSE
31. Showing acute embarrassment, say : BEETRED
32. Anti-Communist fervor : REDSCARE
34. 1991 film with the tagline "The secret of life? The secret's in the sauce" : FRIEDGREENTOMATOES
36. Symbols of audience disapproval : TOMATOES
38. Feller in a forest? : BEAVER
39. ___'easter : NOR
41. Spinners : ROTORS
42. Most nail-biting : TENSEST
43. Fill-in-the-blanks diversion : MADLIB
46. The world, idiomatically : GODSGREENEARTH
47. Soil : EARTH
48. ___ lane : HOV
49. Poet who wrote "Jupiter from on high laughs at lovers' perjuries" : OVID
51. Like "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" : RATEDPG
53. Finish ahead of : BEST
57. Summer, in much of West Africa : ETE
58. Former "Live" co-host with Kathie Lee : REGIS
60. The Rolling Stones' "Get Yer ___ Out" : YAYAS
61. Sidekick in 1990s "S.N.L." skits : GARTH
62. Trident piece? : WINTERGREENGUM
64. Clog, with "up" : GUM
66. Call before reserving? : LET
67. Stadium store souvenir : JERSEY
68. Stolas : women :: ___ : men : TOGAS
69. Distiller Walker : HIRAM
71. Affix, in a way : SEWON
73. Bay, e.g. : ARM
74. First-year J.D. student : ONEL
75. Use, as a dish : EATFROM
77. Save, with "away" : SALT
78. Top choice : TEE
79. Brand with two harnessed horses in its logo : LEVIS
81. Dolls' counterpart : GUYS
83. Creepazoid : SLEAZO
85. Trembling : ASHIVER
88. Pilot : AIRMAN
90. "Success-s-s!" : YES
91. Meeting around lunchtime : NOONER
92. Illegal action shown literally in this answer? : RUNNINGAREDLIGHT
94. Not deep, as entertainment : LIGHT
98. Blushes : TURNSRED
99. Cinnamon-flavored candy : REDHOTS
100. Smarted : STUNG
102. What spirits may do : SOAR
103. Workplaces where gloves are worn, for short : ORS
104. Ordering option : TOGO
105. Has a quiet evening, say : STAYSIN
107. ___-Caps : SNO
108. "For real?" : ISITTRUE
111. On the double : APACE
112. Confront aggressively : ACCOST
114. Incident not worth talking about : NONEVENT
115. Its capital is Whitehorse : YUKON
116. Starting point for Pompeii tourism : NAPLES
117. Busy : ENGAGED
118. Idyllic place : EDEN
119. Part of a kite : TALON
1. Lab vessel : BEAKER
2. Noted name in suits : ARMANI
3. Long on screen : NIA
4. One going for a board position? : DART
5. Like the moon during a total lunar eclipse : BLOODRED
6. Designed to clear the air : ANTISMOG
7. Jerry Siegel or Joe Shuster, for Superman : COCREATOR
8. Department store eponym : KOHL
9. Busybody, maybe : SPY
10. Coronary ___ : STENT
11. Detroit Tiger whose #5 is retired : HANKGREENBERG
12. Cambridgeshire city : ELY
13. Mobile home: Abbr. : ALA
14. Accepted an apology : FORGAVE
15. Lasts : ENDURES
16. Calorie counter's temptation : DESSERT
17. Chow (down) : SCARF
18. Turin title : SIGNOR
19. Places to wallow : STIES
25. Crossed : MET
26. Is angry : SEESRED
29. Keep, as a garden : TEND
31. Youth detention center in England : BORSTAL
32. Over the moon : SENT
33. Feature of many a reception : CASHBAR
35. ___ Umbridge, teacher of Dark Arts at Hogwarts : DOLORES
37. Now : TODAY
38. Something that might fall off the shelf? : BERG
40. 1948 John Wayne film : REDRIVER
42. Chooses to lead : TAPS
43. Legal maneuver : MOTION
44. Requite : AVENGE
45. Cornell athletes : BIGRED
47. Tinder successes, say : EDATES
48. Strictly follow : HEWTO
50. Limbs' ends : DIGITS
52. Trips in the dark? : REDEYES
54. Fake : ERSATZ
55. Dual-channel : STEREO
56. Stuffing herb : THYME
59. Sound heard at a beach : SURF
61. Decorous : GENTEEL
63. Baltic capital : TALLINN
65. Pages have four of them : MARGINS
67. Frozen aisle icon : JOLLYGREENGIANT
69. Ginger feature : REDHAIR
70. Miss badly, say : MOURN
72. Lived : WAS
75. Symbol of Washington State : EVERGREENTREE
76. "Oops!" : MYMISTAKE
80. Cusps : EVES
82. Annual December pub crawl : SANTACON
84. Defects and all : ASIS
85. Fats Domino's real first name : ANTOINE
86. Grows sick of : SOURSON
87. Goofing (around) : HORSING
88. Kind of body : AUTO
89. Most common family name in Vietnam : NGUYEN
92. Webster shelfmate : ROGET
93. Key part: Abbr. : ANS
95. Break from a band, maybe : GOSOLO
96. Crime writer Joseph : HANSEN
97. Brings (out) : TROTS
99. Harass : HOUND
101. Fairy tale figure : GIANT
104. Evolutionary diagram : TREE
105. Pre-fries? : SPUD
106. Org. with Divisions I-III : NCAA
109. Social gathering : TEA
110. Like most children's programming : TVG
111. Something said repeatedly on a ship : AYE
113. Sgt.'s inferior : CPL

Answer summary: 14 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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