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New York Times, Sunday, June 26, 2016

Author:
Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
26/26/20161/28/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2000000
RebusCirclePangram
010
Priscilla Clark
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1017/5/20108/7/201961
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2678182598
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.637222
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JQZ} Spans: 2 This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Clark. This is puzzle # 53 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
PRISCILLA: To finally get a puzzle into the New York Times! I had been trying for years, always for a Sunday because they offered so many more theme possibilities. Some of the time Will ... read more

PRISCILLA: To finally get a puzzle into the New York Times! I had been trying for years, always for a Sunday because they offered so many more theme possibilities. Some of the time Will wrote encouraging comments on his rejection emails. That kept me going — though I was resigned to be a wannabe constructor which was a reasonable accolade unto itself. For the most part I just played with themes that entertained me without too much consideration of acceptance. But I also really didn't have a handle on Will's preferences.

As a baseball fan somehow the image of Tigers Can't Handle Cubs came to me and amused me no end. I have found that all it takes is one entry I love –- then it rolls from there.

When I got Joel's "We are interested…" email, I was ecstatic. Will loved the theme but "the fill needed a lot of work" and various not OK words were circled. So I thought that meant change those words. Which I did — and sent it back. Rinse and repeat. Finally Will and Joel realized I didn't have a clue and suggested I work with Jeff. Little did I realize the entire grid was bad — until Jeff sent me a proper grid skeleton. Fast forward, with Jeff's help and guidance I passed Crossword 101: Grid construction, 8-letter words (that can be very creative like "Oh boo hoo"), not crossing obscure words and using more current expressions.

One thing he said that really stuck with me was "Don't let the puzzle beat the solver. You want to solver to beat the puzzle." I was trying to be a little too esoteric rather than using some basic words and cluing them creatively. Though cluing is Crossword 201. Thus Jeff changed or suggested alternates for a fair number (almost all) of my clues (but left a few of mine to be gracious. I'm curious to see if Will changed those…).

I really look forward to collaborating with you again, Jeff. And thanks for your guidance on some other ideas. I certainly would never have made it without you. Imagine — being a NYT puzzle constructor! Bucket List complete!

Jeff Chen notes:
Will sends some newbie constructors my way, usually when they have a decent idea but can't provide him with a satisfactory grid. I like going back and forth with the person as we trade ... read more

Will sends some newbie constructors my way, usually when they have a decent idea but can't provide him with a satisfactory grid. I like going back and forth with the person as we trade ideas on how to build a nice final product. And sometimes I learn something, which I absolutely love. Nothing like unexpectedly picking up a little tidbit.

Riding one of these in HOT PANTS!

That was the case in working with Pris. Not only did I really enjoy working with her on this fun theme, but she challenged me on a couple of pieces of long fill I suggested, giving me rationale on why something else might be better. The best example: HAVE PITY. I had HATERADE in that slot at first, feeling good about introducing a newish piece of slang (haters drink the haterade, a play on Gatorade). Pris tactfully mentioned that she worried about it being a negative term, and she preferred to keep her crosswords upbeat and positive.

What a great reminder! Sometimes I get too focused on incorporating entries that are fresh and new, at the expense of the main goal: providing people with an enjoyable and uplifting solving experience. Many thanks to Pris for helping make a course adjustment as we filled this grid.

For any Sunday 140-word puzzle, I'm not happy unless I work in at least four long bonus entries. And for a wide-open grid like today's, I really want at least 10 snazzy bonus entries — given that there are only five theme entries, it's important to me to give solvers a lot of pick-me-ups to keep up their interest. There was something amusing about balancing a UNICYCLE over BAD DATES, and I liked the variety of OLD MASTER to LAWYERS UP to HOVERCAR to TSA AGENT to HOT PANTS. Something for everyone.

We tried a couple of fresh entries in the upper right, my favorite being OTTER PUPS. But we couldn't get that to work to our liking, and although OUT OF TUNE wasn't as squee-worthy, it seemed like it would lend itself to a fun clue. It also allowed us to incorporate CREED. If you haven't seen it, Michael B. Jordan is amazing ... and surprisingly, so is Stallone!

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0626 ( 24,337 )
Across
1
Foyer fixture : COATRACK
9
Paratroopers' gear : CHUTES
15
Building material for an 80-Across (in two different ways?) : ADOBE
20
Unsympathetic response to a complainer : OHBOOHOO
21
Warhol's "Campbell's Tomato Juice Box," e.g. : POPART
22
Italian vessel? : CRUET
23
Conflict at sea : MARINERSBATTLEPIRATES
26
Asia's ___ Sea : ARAL
27
Geological flat top : MESA
28
Staple at a luau : POI
29
Orange Pixar character : NEMO
30
Main character in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" : SAMSA
32
River ___ (tributary of the Thames) : LEA
34
Balls or fire preceder : SPIT
37
Way off : AFAR
40
Decides, in a way : VOTESON
44
Dura ___ (brain membrane) : MATER
46
"That's more than I want to know!" : TMI
47
Parenting problem at a zoo : TIGERSCANTHANDLECUBS
52
Luke Skywalker's landspeeder, e.g. : HOVERCAR
53
Spill one's secrets : SING
54
"The Governator" : ARNIE
55
Focus of study for Niels Bohr : ATOM
56
Lead-in to dealer or dialer : AUTO
59
Winter Palace resident : TSAR
61
Particulars, in slang : DEETS
62
Logician's word : NOR
63
Show weariness : SAG
65
Eight days after the nones : IDES
67
Choice word? : EENIE
69
Cold War synopsis : YANKEESDEFEATREDS
74
Rimes with rhymes : LEANN
75
Othello, for one : MOOR
76
"Kewl!" : RAD
77
Catch : NAB
80
See 15-Across : ABODE
83
It may be recounted : TALE
85
Be highly esteemed : RATE
87
Not mad : SANE
88
Roger Bannister, notably : MILER
89
Word repeated in James Brown's "It's a ___ ___ ___ World" : MANS
91
"Please show some compassion!" : HAVEPITY
94
Show of respect at the Vatican : PADRESBOWTOCARDINALS
99
Wood in Lucius Malfoy's wand : ELM
100
Dear one? : DIARY
101
Rapt : FOCUSED
102
Twosome : DYAD
104
Incapacitate, in a way : TASE
105
"Inside the N.B.A." airer : TNT
106
Yemen, once : SHEBA
111
Subj. for a radio astronomer : SETI
113
One in a gray suit, for short : REB
115
Most-applied-to sch. in the U.S. : UCLA
119
Split pair : EXES
120
Overthrow of a monarchy : NATIONALSTOPPLEROYALS
126
Smart ___ : ALECK
127
Only guest host in the 21 years of Leno's "The Tonight Show" : COURIC
128
It requires a balancing act : UNICYCLE
129
City of Light, informally : PAREE
130
Gives the old heave-ho : EXPELS
131
Faulty connections? : BADDATES
Down
1
Food ___ (feelings after big meals) : COMAS
2
John who wrote "Appointment in Samarra" : OHARA
3
Hussein : Obama :: ___ : Garfield : ABRAM
4
"Through many dangers, ___ and snares I have already come" ("Amazing Grace" lyric) : TOILS
5
Burgundy of "Anchorman" : RON
6
"Pardon ..." : AHEM
7
Heart : CORE
8
Big name in headphones : KOSS
9
Number cruncher, for short : CPA
10
Short shorts : HOTPANTS
11
Until : UPTO
12
The Seal of Solomon and others : TALISMANS
13
Before, poetically : ERE
14
Letters on many a racecar : STP
15
Part of a plot : ACRE
16
___ queen : DRAMA
17
Pitched poorly : OUTOFTUNE
18
Queen ___ : BEE
19
SAT org. : ETS
24
Raft material : BALSA
25
Pentium creator : INTEL
31
Profess : AVER
33
Long stretch : EON
35
Supercontinent of 200 million years ago : PANGAEA
36
"___ be my pleasure" : ITD
38
Scope : AMBIT
39
Climbs : RISES
41
World of Warcraft beast : ORC
42
Waver of a wand : TSAAGENT
43
Bathroom tile shade : ECRU
45
Prepped : READIED
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Cowardly Lion harasser : TOTO
48
Bathroom bar : IVORY
49
The Pink Panther, in "The Pink Panther" : GEM
50
Takes the place of, in batting : HITSFOR
51
Seventh film in the "Rocky" series : CREED
52
___ characters (basic means of writing Chinese) : HAN
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"___ the season ..." : TIS
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Leftover : ODDMENT
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Hardly original works : RETREADS
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Curled one's lip : SNEERED
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Police blotter letters : AKA
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Fair-hiring inits. : EEO
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Org. with the Eddie Eagle safety program : NRA
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Tree with catkins : ALDER
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Charms : ENAMORS
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Long stretch : ERA
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Delicacy usually eaten as an appetizer : SNAIL
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Marching band? : ANTS
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Queen ___ (pop music nickname) : BEY
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Stoked : AMPED
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Deli roll : BIALY
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Rubens or Raphael : OLDMASTER
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Gets fitted for a suit? : LAWYERSUP
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Drive-___ : THRU
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Pool site : SPA
90
Leave runny on the inside, say : SOFTBOIL
92
Compete : VIE
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Leftovers : ENDS
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Once-common campus event : SITIN
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Welcome to the fold? : BAA
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Downside : CON
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Go haywire : ACTUP
103
Clear for takeoff? : DEICE
107
OutKast chart-topper : HEYYA
108
On the button : EXACT
109
Southern beauty : BELLE
110
Low mounts? : ASSES
112
Take a hit : TOKE
114
Sein : German :: ___ : French : ETRE
116
Cotton or country follower : CLUB
117
Siberian river : LENA
118
Dry : ARID
120
Time out? : NAP
121
___ russe : ALA
122
A card? : ACE
123
Deli offering : LOX
124
Alternatives to Macs : PCS
125
What a constant hand-washer probably has, for short : OCD

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 2 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?