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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

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 an entirely new word ... more
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 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 mostly, I love his creativity ... more
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 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.

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.

 1U 2N 3J 4A 5M 6G 7L 8O 9B 10E 11R 12E 13V 14L 15O 16K 17I 18C A U S E 19A H M A D 20A V E 21M I N E D 22L A S E R 23N A G N A 24G N A G 25I N T E L 26A N T A C 27I D S 28M A U N A 29G O A P E 30W H A 31T 32H A P P E N 33S 34S R I S 35B 36O 37N 38S A I 39H U M E 40S S T 41S 42I N T 43D E P O T S 44C O M E D 45I C 46Y O 47D O G 48A M I T E 49M I R 50C E 51D E T O 52Y O U V E 53G O T A 54F 55R 56I E N D 57S E 58W 59N 60B A M 61P R E Y 62R I V E T E 63R 64T R O 65T 66E N D 67U S E 68S I L O S 69E 70T H I C S 71D E E M 72S 73A 74M P L E R 75M 76O N A 77T H E 78D N A 79S 80C O U L D Y 81O U P U T 82T H A T 83M E 84T E O R 85W I T 86T H I N S 87C 88A I R O 89S T 90P 91E 92T E R 93P O U N C E 94P A D 95B A 96C H 97A M A T 98G E O R G E 99E L M 100O 101D O U 102B L E D O 103V E R 104S L I C 105K 106S P A I N 107E C L 108E 109C 110T 111I 112C 113T I T H E 114T O W N D 115R 116U N K 117L A U R A 118O N I O N 119A R D 120E R A T O 121A M B E R 122S G T S 123S K Y 124D R E S S 125L E A S T
© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0628 ( 23,973 )