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CREATURE FEATURE

New York Times, Sunday, June 24, 2018

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 80 Missing: {Q} Grid has mirror symmetry. Scrabble average: 1.70 This is puzzle # 46 for Mr. Polin. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: After completing this puzzle, draw a line starting at the middle square of 59-Across and connect five appropriate squares in roughly clockwise order to reveal an image suggested by this puzzle's theme.
Jeff Chen notes:
Duuuh-duh. Duuuh-duh. Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh AAAA! Something lost in translation there, the theme song to JAWS not quite as catchy on paper. However, I thought Tim did an excellent job ... read more

Duuuh-duh. Duuuh-duh. Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh AAAA!

Something lost in translation there, the theme song to JAWS not quite as catchy on paper. However, I thought Tim did an excellent job of making this crossword catchy! Not just a DORSAL FIN made of rebus letters, but some good references to JAWS. Yes, he's a MAN EATING / SEA MONSTER, in a movie directed by SPIELBERG set on AMITY ISLAND. But I thought the cheeky ones were standouts:

  • In football, a DEEP THREAT is that wide receiver who can burn you for a long TD. Or in this case, it's a literal threat from the DEEP blue sea.
  • I hadn't heard of REEL BIG FISH, but it's an apt description of JAWS.
  • In golf, a WATER HAZARD is a pond cutting across the course. JAWS is a very different type of WATER HAZARD! Golf would be much more exciting if they had this type of WATER HAZARD.

I wasn't sure what the big black cross in the center represented? At first glance, I guessed that the puzzle would be about Dracula. Then I thought maybe it's an anchor? Sort of, although it doesn't quite get there. And an anchor doesn't seem all that JAWS-related.

Then I realized that there's so much theme material in the center, that Tim didn't have much choice but to use that big black cross. The fin rebus squares, SEA MONSTER, DEEP THREAT, GREAT / WHITE / SHARK — that's a lot of stuff you need to separate.

It's too bad. The fin visual is cool, but it's overshadowed by that black cross. This kind of thing tends to happen with Sunday visual art puzzles. Generally, it's better if you can make the visual out of the black squares instead of rebuses or circles, but that does also have the drawback of making things very obvious.

Great gridwork, otherwise. Tim's constructions are so solid. He's one of the few people I'd trust to give me such a smooth Sunday product, just a bit of HGTS STDS ELHI. Way less than average – and with more theme material than average! Such a top-notch constructor.

I like it when tribute puzzles do something a little different to make themselves stand out.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0624 ( 25,065 )
Across
1. "Friendly" cartoon character : CASPER
7. Pro : OLDHAND
14. Symbols in calculus : SIGMAS
20. Simple kind of antenna : DIPOLE
21. Expenditures' counterpart : REVENUE
22. Lacking a break : ONEACT
23. Add surreptitiously : SLIPIN
24. Worrisome sight for a swimmer : DORSALFIN
25. With spite : MEANLY
26. Some Houdini feats : ESCAPES
28. John of spy fiction : LECARRE
30. Something extraordinary that won't soon be forgotten : ALLTIMER
32. Some northern Europeans : FINNS
35. Bit of hydrotherapy : SALTBATH
38. Caffeinated drink with tapioca balls : BOBATEA
39. Doled (out) : METED
41. Opposite of colorblindness? : BIGOTRY
42. "___ Jacques" : FRERE
43. Ones eligible for marathon prizes : FINISHERS
45. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," e.g. : AXIOM
46. Flight board abbr. : ARR
47. Sinking feelings : DREADS
50. Mistrusts : DOUBTS
53. Mother or sister : NUN
54. Does more than ask : BEGS
56. Dr. ___ Sattler, "Jurassic Park" paleobotanist : ELLIE
57. Energy giant that fell into ignominy in 2002 : ENRON
58. Elevs. : HGTS
59. Peevish quality : HUFFINESS
61. Get a new mortgage : REFINANCE
63. [Kiss] : MWAH
65. Powerful D.C. lobby : AARP
68. Scylla or Charybdis : SEAMONSTER
74. Speedy wide receiver, perhaps : DEEPTHREAT
80. Skill : ART
81. [Fingers crossed] : HOPESO
82. Buzz out in space : ALDRIN
83. And so on: Abbr. : ETC
84. Staff leader? : CLEF
86. With 87-Across, what might cost you an arm and a leg? : GREAT
87. See 86-Across : WHITE
88. Silver-tongued : GLIB
89. 2004 also-ran : KERRY
91. Martin who wrote "The Pregnant Widow" : AMIS
92. Evening, in ads : NITE
93. Southern sandwich : POBOY
94. Is there in spirit? : HAUNTS
96. Zen Buddhist goal : SATORI
98. Makes fun of : RAZZES
99. Menace in 106-Down : SHARK
104. Bad-mouth : MALIGN
106. Add spice to : JAZZUP
107. Metaphor for deliberate ignorance : DEAFEAR
109. Gobbled (down) : WOLFED
111. Seriously uptight : ANAL
112. Fictional setting for 106-Down : AMITYISLAND
115. "A ___ believes no one" (old saying) : LIAR
116. Pottery : WARE
117. Caffè ___ : LATTE
118. Justin Bieber or Justin Timberlake : TENOR
119. Concerning : ASTO
120. Conventions: Abbr. : STDS
121. "There, there" : ITSOK
122. Disgustingly obsequious : SLIMY
123. Class with drills : SHOP
Down
1. Things investors take an interest in? : CDS
2. Suffer : AIL
3. 106-Down director : SPIELBERG
4. Pink, e.g. : POPSTAR
5. Brought out : ELICITED
6. Christen anew : RENAME
7. Tidiness : ORDER
8. Proud, fiery types, they say : LEOS
9. Save for later, in a way : DVR
10. Fathers or brothers : HES
11. Santa ___ : ANA
12. No longer in force : NULL
13. Gives meaning to : DEFINES
14. Horn of Africa native : SOMALI
15. Neon, e.g. : INERTGAS
16. Transmission : GEARBOX
17. Like the menace in 106-Down : MANEATING
18. Common knee injury site, briefly : ACL
19. Locale for a trough : STY
27. Fairy tale "lump" : PEA
29. Hack : CAB
30. Hit BBC comedy, briefly : ABFAB
31. Peter of "The Maltese Falcon" : LORRE
32. Handles deftly : FINESSES
33. Utmost degree : NTH
34. Farm machine : SEEDER
36. Something to angle for : TROUT
37. "In Dulci Jubilo" and others : HYMNS
39. Modest skirts : MIDIS
40. Modern subject of F.A.A. regulation : DRONE
43. TV show with the season's highest rating, often : FINALE
44. "___ U.S.A." (1963 hit) : SURFIN
48. Sports arbiter : REF
49. Pixielike : ELFIN
51. Cabaret accessory : BOA
52. Country music channel, once : TNN
55. Decorative pillowcase : SHAM
58. Adjudicate, as a case : HEAR
60. "This is looking bad" : UHOH
62. Lyricist Sammy : CAHN
63. Singer Haggard : MERLE
64. Golfer's obstacle : WATERHAZARD
66. Ska-punk band with the 1997 song "Sell Out" : REELBIGFISH
67. Sunning area : PATIO
68. Ax : SACK
69. Seasonal quaff : NOG
70. Small herrings : SPRATS
71. Is a crowd : TEEMS
72. Actor Morales : ESAI
73. Deteriorates : ROTS
74. Beginning : DAWN
75. Precollege, for short : ELHI
76. Text tweaks : EDITS
77. Mid-crisis hire, perhaps : PRTEAM
78. Word with black or blood : TIE
79. Frozen dessert chain : TCBY
85. Leaves nervously exhausted : FRAZZLES
88. Thugs : GORILLAS
90. Aromatic yellow citrus : YUZU
93. Preppy wear : POLO
95. Himalayan native : NEPALI
97. Cheap and gaudy : TAWDRY
98. Charged : RANAT
99. Scrap : SETTO
100. Actress Salma : HAYEK
101. Movie org. whose "100 Years ... 100 Thrills" list has 106-Down at #2 : AFI
102. Takes a load off : RESTS
103. Superman, by birth : KALEL
105. "Coo-oo-ool!" : NEATO
106. 1975 summer blockbuster : JAWS
107. Morse clicks : DITS
108. Indian blueblood : RANI
110. Teensy amount : DROP
113. Yogi's accessory : MAT
114. Oscar ___ (Hollywood honor, informally) : NOM

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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