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TAKE TWO

New York Times, Sunday, June 23, 2019

Author:
David Liben-Nowell and Victor Barocas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
123/25/20046/23/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1012341
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.57111
David Liben-Nowell
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
132/9/201110/6/20198
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
7012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62032
Victor Barocas

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 79 Missing: {FJQZ} Grid has repeated answers This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Liben-Nowell. This is puzzle # 12 for Mr. Barocas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
David Liben-Nowell is a professor of computer science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Victor Barocas is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. They ... read more

David Liben-Nowell is a professor of computer science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Victor Barocas is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. They met a few years ago at a crossword tournament at the St. Paul Public Library and have collaborated remotely ever since.

For this puzzle, they divided each part of the effort (theme, gridwork and cluing) evenly. They describe their process as "write, email, tweak, repeat."

Constructor notes:
VICTOR: I thought that I'd give a little history on the puzzle since especially new constructors might be interested in the timeline. The first communication I can find between David and ... read more

VICTOR: I thought that I'd give a little history on the puzzle since especially new constructors might be interested in the timeline. The first communication I can find between David and me on this was from June 22, 2017, and it involved the idea of putting a word (such as BASE) in the puzzle twice, with a clue elsewhere like "Player positioned to the left of X-Across," with the answer SHORTSTOP, since the shortstop plays to the left of second base." Then there was some back and forth about possible "second ___" combinations. It took us over a year to get to something we liked, and it went to Will in late August 2018.

In December, we got a tentative acceptance from Will but with a request to remove the cross-reference clues and just clue the second word as (SECOND) ___. So, the second BASE became "It's halfway around the diamond." Of course, that meant writing a new puzzle, but after we'd come as far as we had, rewriting the puzzle was small potatoes. We got a new version done in about two weeks and shipped it off. Will sent back a few quibbles, and then we put together the final version in early January 2019.

It's still not flawless (I wrote in one e-mail that "no one is going to have a party about BEIGES"), but it came out reasonably well. All told, almost 16 months of constructing, three to four months in review, and five months in the queue make right around two years from conception to publication. I hope that people enjoyed solving the puzzle as much as we enjoyed making it.

DAVID: I feel like the experience of filling a puzzle is all about tradeoffs — some version of "is using entry X worth the cost of having to use entry Y?" asked over and over. One of the things that I appreciate about collaboration with Victor (in addition to his persistent generosity and good humor) is that, first, we both try to maintain high standards in the fill, and that, second, the hypothetical entries that I hate are quite different from the ones that he hates.

I know of myself that I tend to overweight the benefit of a long entry that I find lively and fun, even if it means several of the kind of short entries that Victor calls "crud" (the less good three-letter acronyms, partial phrases, ...). Meanwhile, Victor happens to be a serious Latinist who knows a great deal more about pop culture than I do (not a high bar!), so he's happy to use proper names and Latin words that are both like foreign languages to me.

Neither of us wants to end up with something that we hate, so a lot of our back and forth is about each of us trying to excise some personally hated entry from a corner. The grid did not (and never does) end up being perfect, but at least this version includes none of RERISEN, IRING ("Do you want me to knock, or should ___ the bell?"; IRE was also in that version of the puzzle), and MANOLO, all of which were seriously considered at some stage in this construction process. (And all of which might still be worth it sometimes, but not this time.) I'll echo Victor's wishes: this puzzle was great fun to put together over its long journey, and I hope that it was a fun puzzle to solve!

Jeff Chen notes:
A decent idea that went on too long. HAND, and then (second)HAND, that's fun. PLACE, and (second)PLACE, still good. STRING, (second)STRING. Okay. PERSON, (second)PERSON. . . . ... read more

A decent idea that went on too long. HAND, and then (second)HAND, that's fun. PLACE, and (second)PLACE, still good.

STRING, (second)STRING. Okay.

PERSON, (second)PERSON.

. . .

Just thinking about having to list out the other five makes me tired. Check out our list of puzzles with repeated words to see them all.

Why not branch out, avoiding being so repetitive (ha)? TIME and (another)TIME. LOCATION and (echo)LOCATION. There's so much potential for fun. You might have to give a hint to the implied word, maybe even put that implied word into the grid somewhere, but it would be worth it.

Thankfully, David and Victor worked in a lot of extras, helping keep my attention. SLIDE GUITAR sparkled. HEDGEHOG, SKI PANTS, WINNIPEG for Canuck solvers, the OUTBACK for Aussies, even some TORSION for us mechanical engineers.

With an average quantity of crossword glue, it made for a good overall grid.

This would have been much better as a weekday puzzle, scaled down. Alternatively, more creative, expansive thinking, would have improved the Sunday experience dramatically.

I continue to hope that Will takes my suggestions in publishing more interesting Sunday puzzles. Things ain't what they used to be.

Here's another suggestion: issue "Sunday theme query licenses" to 25 constructors. I get that it can be overwhelming to have to sift through theme queries, but:

  1. A limited number would be more of a trickle than a flood.
  2. Mike Shenk at the WSJ does it (with the huge help of Mark Danna)
  3. Not being able to theme query is a tremendous hurdle that some of the best constructors aren't willing to overcome.
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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0623 ( 25,429 )
Across
1
Word in Facebook and Disney Channel's original names : THE
4
Ninny : TWIT
8
Subj. of a National Historic Site outside Wall, S.D. : ICBM
12
Ditties : TUNES
17
Bridge component : HAND
19
Previously owned : HAND
20
Upshot of a story : MORAL
22
Wolf howls, maybe : OMENS
23
Org. concerned with grades : USDA
24
Certain warriors in Magic: The Gathering : ORCS
25
One of three properties in Monopoly : PLACE
26
Silver : PLACE
27
Don at the Met : GIOVANNI
29
Cream and others : BEIGES
30
Attire that flaps in the wind : CAPE
31
E, B, G, D, A or E : STRING
32
B-team : STRING
34
Sports team employee : SCOUT
36
Shell station? : SEASHORE
38
Using without paying royalties, say : PIRATING
41
___ amis (my friends: Fr.) : MES
42
Part of Q.E.D. : ERAT
43
Like a swished basketball shot : ALLNET
45
___ volente (God willing: Lat.) : DEO
46
Aspire : AIM
47
Paroxysm : SPASM
49
It "isn't so bad when you consider the alternative," per Maurice Chevalier : OLDAGE
50
Designed to minimize drag : AERO
51
Cooked up : IDEATED
53
Being : PERSON
55
What you will always be (but he or she isn't)? : PERSON
57
Provincial capital south of a lake with the same name : WINNIPEG
59
Recurrent theme : TROPE
60
Indication of good taste? : YUM
61
Famed furrier : ASTOR
62
Clip : RATE
64
Low-quality : RATE
66
Major name in network hardware : CISCO
70
___ Tin Tin : RIN
72
"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him" speaker : BERRA
74
Introduce oneself : SAYHELLO
76
Fruit that, surprisingly, is slightly radioactive : BANANA
79
Supporting role : BANANA
81
Kind of spring found in a mousetrap : TORSION
82
Reassuring words after an accident : IMOK
83
Attacks : GOESAT
85
Fortitude : SPINE
87
It's replicated during mitosis : DNA
88
URL ending : GOV
89
Winner's wreath : LAUREL
90
Product from the Royal Small Arms Factory : STEN
91
Sound while being tickled : HEE
92
Warm winter wear : SKIPANTS
94
Beatrix Potter's Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, for one : HEDGEHOG
97
Pulse : THROB
98
"All ___ is but art, unknown to thee": Alexander Pope : NATURE
101
Deeply ingrained habit : NATURE
104
Leaning : BIAS
105
Nails a test : ACESIT
107
Geniuses, informally : SMARTIES
109
Impressive stylishness : CLASS
110
Not having full rights, as a citizen : CLASS
111
"Up and ___!" : ATEM
112
Home team at Rice-Eccles Stadium : UTES
113
San ___, Calif. : MATEO
114
Carpenter of note : KAREN
115
Politician's core support : BASE
116
It's halfway around a diamond : BASE
117
Unsmiling : STERN
118
"Hey!" : PSST
119
Carrier with King David Lounges : ELAL
120
Romulus, but not Remus, in ancient Rome : REX
Down
1
Brutish sorts : THUGS
2
"That happened?" : HASIT
3
Signature : ENDORSEMENT
4
Some revealing beachwear : THONGS
5
Caution : WARN
6
Things that most people have eight of : INCISORS
7
Bear necessities, for short? : TDS
8
Bank of China Tower architect : IMPEI
9
___ Kaepernick, former N.F.L. QB : COLIN
10
Confederate general with a fort named after him : BRAGG
11
Item carried in an academic procession : MACE
12
Bit of outerwear : TOPCOAT
13
Couple of high points? : UMLAUT
14
Twice-monthly coastal phenomena : NEAPTIDES
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Suffix with defer or insist : ENCE
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About 5:00, directionally: Abbr. : SSE
18
Ray or Dave of the Kinks : DAVIES
21
Doris who won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature : LESSING
28
"Gimme ___!" (Alabama cheerleader's repeated call) : ANA
29
Author Harte : BRET
33
Walk with a firm, heavy step : TRAMP
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Staring a bit too long, perhaps : CREEPY
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Bad tumble : HEADER
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Objects spinning in an orrery : PLANETS
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Model for a bust at the Musei Capitolini : NERO
40
Continue : GOON
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Knee-covering skirts : MIDIS
43
Nonwinner : ALSORAN
44
Drug treatment for Muhammad Ali : LDOPA
46
Competitor of Sanyo and Bose : AIWA
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Add to the mix : STIRIN
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Animation : PEP
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Subject of a statue outside Boston's TD Garden : ORR
50
The two sides in chess, essentially : ARMIES
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Arctic wear : ANORAK
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Never to be forgotten : ETERNAL
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Trick-taking game : EUCHRE
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Talkaholics : GABBERS
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What movie trailers do : TEASE
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What cibophobia is the fear of : EATING
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Specialty of Muddy Waters and Blind Willie Johnson : SLIDEGUITAR
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Copy : CLONE
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Actress Chaplin of "Game of Thrones" : OONA
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1998 Winter Olympics host : NAGANO
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Teller? : RAT
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Poetic direction : YON
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Majors : BIGS
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One way to run : AMOK
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New brother or sister : NOVITIATE
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Flower for a 20th wedding anniversary : ASTER
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Bush : OUTBACK
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Bust supporter : PEDESTAL
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Stieg who wrote "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" : LARSSON
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Out of business : SHUT
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Somewhere to chill, paradoxically : HOTTUB
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Tricorder go-with : PHASER
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Nice finish, maybe : ENAMEL
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Sarcastic syllable : HAR
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Gets warmer, so to speak : NEARS
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Jerks : ASSES
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Quaint contradiction : TISNT
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Eponymous cup maker : REESE
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Thomas Cromwell, Earl of ___ : ESSEX
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Musical miscue : BLAT
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___ eyes on (see) : CLAP
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Four-letter U.S. city with the highest population : MESA
109
Ruler units: Abbr. : CMS
111
Five Georges : ABE

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?