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CREATURE FEATURE

New York Times, Sunday, June 24, 2018

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
5012/11/20118/8/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
74962202
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
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"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: 9 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?