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GETTING IN THE FINAL WORD

New York Times, Sunday, June 28, 2015

Author:
Jeremy Newton
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/15/20083/9/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
13011200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81663
Jeremy Newton

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 78 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Newton. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeremy Newton notes:
This was inspired with a theme entry that didn't make the cut: PUSS IN BOOTS, or PUSS IN BOO(S)TS I really dug the idea of smoothing over the last word of the X in Y gimmick with ... read more

This was inspired with a theme entry that didn't make the cut:

PUSS IN BOOTS, or PUSS IN BOO(S)TS

I really dug the idea of smoothing over the last word of the X in Y gimmick with an entirely new word formed by the overlap. There weren't too many possibilities I found that could fit the pattern smoothly. A couple others from the cutting room floor:

TIED UP IN KNO(T)TS
LIES IN WAI(S)T — Hmm, that doesn't have a pleasant sound to it. Good riddance.

With the eight themers that made it, the biggest challenge was positioning the overlapping "final" words. Because they're not symmetrical, I spread them into as much open territory as possible, without making the positioning of other black squares a nightmare. The resulting grid makes the corners a bit like islands, which isn't entirely ideal. But puzzling out the answers in those corners is still entertaining, I think.

An edit from Will and Joel I appreciate is the clue for MOE, the final word in YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND IN M(O)E. "Good name for a lawn care guy." Since it's part of a theme answer, I like the riddle angle here, which is less gettable than my original clue (referencing the Simpsons bartender).

Lastly, as a wink to the solver, I made the final Across answer in "Getting in the Final Word" the word LAST, from the themer CAME IN L(E)AST.

Hope this was a fun one to tackle!

Jeff Chen notes:
I thought more about why I like Jeremy's puzzles so much. Part of it is he just seems like a good guy — it's been amusing trying to get him to stop calling me 'sir' — but ... read more

I thought more about why I like Jeremy's puzzles so much. Part of it is he just seems like a good guy — it's been amusing trying to get him to stop calling me "sir" — but mostly, I love his creativity even as he sticks to the "one square, one letter" rule. Trying to innovate while keeping a single letter in a single square is incredibly difficult.

What happens in Vegas ...

Jeremy does it again today, executing brilliantly on an idea the likes of which I can't remember. He takes snazzy phrases where the second to last word is IN, and uses a crossing to imply that "in." WHAT HAPPENS (IN) VEGAS … for example.

But wait, there's more! He finds crossings so that the final word forms another valid word in its crossing. For this example, VEGAS becomes VEGA(N)S, obfuscating the theme. Very cool to see these entries which can read as two completely normal words. Even though there are thousands of X IN Y phrases, it couldn't have been easy to find a set that displayed crossword symmetry AND had this property of the Y word intersecting the X so that it formed a different, regular word.

And Jeremy has a knack for colorful phrases, the likes of which I identify with only a handful of themeless constructors like Josh Knapp and Peter Wentz. The best constructors are always on the lookout for punchy phrases that can add zest to a puzzle, like TOWN DRUNK. Even YO DOG works in that regard. Check out Jeremy's older puzzles to get a sense of how much great vocabulary he's introduced.

Now, just as with any puzzle, I didn't find it perfect. To me, the phrases would have been more apt if they had been X THROUGH Y instead of X IN Y. But that's minor; a tiny speed bump.

Finally, two standout clues:

  • [Guard at a gated community?] = ST PETER. I'm going to have some questions to answer at that gate.
  • [Green dwarf] had to be one of those _STAR kind of filler entries, right? D'oh, it refers to a tiny BONSAI.

Another extremely well-executed Sunday puzzle from Jeremy. I tip my hat to you, sir.

1
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N
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J
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D
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C
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D
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D
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L
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0628 ( 23,973 )
Across
1
Free, as copies : UNJAM
6
Small world? : GLOBE
11
Flock leader, for short : REV
14
"The Avengers" supervillain : LOKI
18
Gay rights, e.g. : CAUSE
19
Sportscaster Rashad : AHMAD
20
Hello from Hadrian : AVE
21
Like some enemy waters in wartime : MINED
22
___ focus : LASER
23
"Geez, get off my back already!" : NAGNAGNAG
25
Drone's mission, maybe : INTEL
26
Tums and others : ANTACIDS
28
Mountain, in Hawaiian : MAUNA
29
Flip : GOAPE
30
With 13-Down, shorthand pact for a wild trip : WHATHAPPENS
34
Mumbai misters : SRIS
35
Green dwarf : BONSAI
39
"An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" philosopher : HUME
40
Old J.F.K. fliers : SSTS
42
C.D. fig. : INT
43
Stopping points : DEPOTS
44
Like most Seth Rogen roles : COMEDIC
46
"Sup, homie" : YODOG
48
Ever so slightly : AMITE
49
Red orbiter : MIR
50
Give formally : CEDETO
52
With 49-Down, 1995 Oscar-nominated Pixar theme song : YOUVEGOTAFRIEND
57
Tailor-made : SEWN
60
"Pow!" : BAM
61
Hunted : PREY
62
Rosie, for one : RIVETER
64
Easy step : TROT
66
Ultimate application : ENDUSE
68
Bomb shelters? : SILOS
69
Philosophy book by Spinoza : ETHICS
71
Judge : DEEM
72
Chocolatier's offering : SAMPLER
75
"___ Lisa" : MONA
77
Start of many Batman villain names : THE
78
Forensic IDs : DNAS
80
With 58-Down, request for an official document : COULDYOUPUTTHAT
83
Metaphor for a sudden success : METEOR
85
"___ and wisdom are like the seven stars, seldom seen together": Thomas Fuller : WIT
86
Some crackers : THINS
87
The City of a Thousand Minarets : CAIRO
89
Guard at a gated community? : STPETER
93
Not let a big opportunity slip by, say : POUNCE
94
Bit of roller derby gear : PAD
95
Master of fugues : BACH
97
Latin 101 verb : AMAT
98
Mr. Jefferson of "The Jeffersons" : GEORGE
99
Admiral Zumwalt : ELMO
101
With 90-Down, reacting to a gut punch, perhaps : DOUBLEDOVER
104
Cleverly crafted : SLICK
106
Financial backer for Magellan : SPAIN
107
Diverse : ECLECTIC
113
Gift in a plate : TITHE
114
Stock character like Mayberry's Otis : TOWNDRUNK
117
Bush in the Rose Garden, once : LAURA
118
Light bulb in the fridge? : ONION
119
Dull finish? : ARD
120
Sister of Clio : ERATO
121
Age-old bug trap : AMBER
122
Barracks barkers: Abbr. : SGTS
123
Drone zone : SKY
124
Prepare, as poultry : DRESS
125
Tiniest thing : LEAST
Down
1
Pac-12 team : UCLA
2
Indian flatbread : NAAN
3
With 18-Across, "To be on the safe side ..." : JUST
4
Out fishing, maybe : ASEA
5
Former Ford make, informally : MERC
6
Whom Indians called "Bapu" ("Father") : GANDHI
7
Home of many monasteries : LHASA
8
"Wow!," in I.M.s : OMG
9
Outlaw : BAN
10
Sushi bar appetizer : EDAMAME
11
Accrued : RANUP
12
Not here for long : EVANESCENT
13
Unlikely butchers : VEGANS
14
Typesetting machines, informally : LINOS
15
Locale of the Battle of Stoney Creek in the War of 1812 : ONTARIO
16
With 21-Across, remembering : KEEPING
17
Most lazy : IDLEST
21
Cold War flier : MIG
24
Looked surprised : GAPED
27
"___ robbed!" : IWAS
31
Actress Birch of "American Beauty" : THORA
32
Be busy : HUM
33
Ocular irritation : STYE
35
Didn't like, and said so : BEMOANED
36
Smoke-filled establishment : OPIUMDEN
37
Timeout alternative : NOTV
38
Gets into hot water? : STEEPS
41
They're often loaded : SOTS
43
Versatile couch : DAYBED
44
Dot on a map : CITY
45
Summer coolers : ICEES
47
Performs, in Proverbs : DOETH
49
Good name for a lawn care guy? : MOE
51
W.W. II inits. : DDE
53
Potential hurdles for coll. students : GRES
54
Amenity : FRILL
55
Angry : RILED
56
___-billed woodpecker : IVORY
58
Twisting : WRITHING
59
"Forget it!" : NOCHANCE
63
Lens care brand : RENU
65
Biter in Niger : TSETSE
67
Taste that's not sweet, sour, bitter or salty : UMAMI
68
What might win a race : SPURT
70
Something you can't get off your chest? : TATTOO
73
Whiz-bang : ACE
74
Chinese dish often wrapped in pancakes : MOOSHUPORK
75
Naturalist John : MUIR
76
___-in clause : OPT
79
Tennis's Novak Djokovic, e.g. : SERB
81
Must pay : OWETO
82
Must See TV night: Abbr. : THUR
84
Repugnant sort : TOAD
87
With 104-Across, talking with a fake rasp, perhaps : CALLING
88
"Fess up!" : ADMITIT
90
Bristol, for one : PALIN
91
Wrong no longer : EMENDED
92
Tiny piece : TAD
93
Physics Nobelist Martin, discoverer of the tauon : PERL
94
Italian sauces : PESTOS
96
Longtime Olympics TV host : COSTAS
98
Wall climbers : GECKOS
100
Big figures in Spanish ice skating : OCHOS
102
Off-color : BAWDY
103
Lets it all out : VENTS
105
Plastic guy : KEN
108
Airline to Ben Gurion : ELAL
109
With 125-Across, got the booby prize : CAME
110
March sound : TUBA
111
Angers : IRES
112
Wheel (off) : CART
115
Classroom basics, in a manner of speaking : RRR
116
Fed. rich in oil : UAE

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?