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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
U
2
N
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J
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C
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M
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M
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B
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A
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K
Y
124
D
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125
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.

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