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FLIP 'PHONES

New York Times, Sunday, June 30, 2019

Author:
Emily Carroll
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
88/22/20168/22/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1113200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55130
Emily Carroll

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 66 Missing: {JQXZ} This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Carroll. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Emily Carroll is a 2016 medical-school graduate now finishing her residency in New York City. She finds crossword constructing 'a nice stress reliever in the little free time I have ... read more

Emily Carroll is a 2016 medical-school graduate now finishing her residency in New York City. She finds crossword constructing "a nice stress reliever in the little free time I have outside the hospital." This puzzle was initially intended for a weekday (15 x 15 squares), but when she couldn't make the theme work satisfactorily, she came up with more examples and expanded it into a 21 x 21.

This is Emily's seventh crossword for The Times and her first Sunday.

Emily Carroll notes:
My idea for this puzzle started as a 15x15 with all clothing-themed homophone swaps — Bowtie Tae Bo, Loafer Furlough, and T-shirt Surety and the revealer Refashioned. But, since ... read more

My idea for this puzzle started as a 15x15 with all clothing-themed homophone swaps — Bowtie Tae Bo, Loafer Furlough, and T-shirt Surety and the revealer Refashioned. But, since Surety has three syllables (as much as I tried to convince myself I could pronounce it in two), I was sent back to the drawing board and encouraged to try to expand it into a 21x21. Glad it worked out in the end and very excited to be making my Sunday debut!

Jeff Chen notes:
This one felt familiar. Will rejected mine last year, saying that it didn't quite work for him. I never like getting a rejection, but I can understand, given how competitive it is for ... read more

This one felt familiar.

Will rejected mine last year, saying that it didn't quite work for him. I never like getting a rejection, but I can understand, given how competitive it is for weekday puzzle slots. Will receives more submissions than ever, about 125 per week. For seven slots, that makes for a dauntingly low acceptance rate.

However, Sundays have always been the pain point for Will. In the past, he's had assistants comb through the slush pile, first and foremost flagging all Sunday grids. At last reported count, he only had 10 in the queue (most other days of the week it was more like 30-50). I sound like a skipping CD, beating the drum of getting him to try new ways of encouraging more Sunday submissions, especially clever theme ideas that can carry a solver through the big grid without losing interest.

The NYT Sunday crossword competes with other crosswords. Evan Birnholz's Washington Post Sunday crosswords have overall had better themes and much stronger grid execution than the NYT's over the past year. Worse, the NYT Sunday crossword also competes with social media. Netflix. Amazon Prime. As with every business, the NYT Sunday crossword must evolve and improve to compete with people's attention.

Yes, the NYT crossword subscription business has never been better. But complacency is the most common problem for any successful business.

I enjoyed Emily's theme set. I spent dozens of hours brainstorming mine, and LOAFER FURLOUGH never occurred to me. Brilliant find. It's so tricky working with a theme that doesn't allow for any computer-based data-mining assistance. Discovering something like KNEE HIGH HEINIE can feel like a gift of fortune (although I ended up dismissing it way back when, worrying that a saggy butt reference could offend people).

Nice gridwork. OH DEAR ME is a solid bonus, as is SEASLUG, BEGUILE, TRUE DAT, YEAH MAN.

It's not perfect craftsmanship in terms of short fill, but the crossword glue is mostly minor. ESS, HIES, HORS, ICI, LAH, OVI, TSE, UNI are thankfully all ignorable. On the whole, the grid is about average in terms of NYT Sunday quality. Might have benefitted from going to 142 words, allowing some smoothing and a bit more injected into the long slots.

Yet again, today's puzzle ended up feeling like a weekday grid stretched into a Sunday. Emily's initial instinct to do it as a 15x15 was spot-on. As much as I liked many of the finds, concentrating the five best into a 15x15 would have packed more punch.

I applaud Will's effort here, trying to expand his pool of Sunday submissions. Inflating weekday puzzles isn't a great way, though. If I were Will, I'd think about bringing on people like Evan as regular Sunday contributors.

Jim Horne notes:

Great title.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0630 ( 25,436 )
Across
1
Crawling marine mollusk : SEASLUG
8
Victorious cry : IDIDIT
14
At first, say : ONBASE
20
So-called "Crossroads of America" : INDIANA
21
Wife in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" : NICOLE
22
Uprights, e.g. : PIANOS
23
Low end? : KNEEHIGHHEINIE
25
What sunblock blocks, briefly : UVRAYS
26
Rushes : HIES
27
Hangout on "The Simpsons" : MOES
28
One of two for a buck? : ANTLER
30
Somewhat, slangily : SORTA
32
Go astray : ERR
33
Part of town that may be dangerous : BADAREA
35
Tater ___ : TOT
38
Extraterrestrial from the planet Melmac : ALF
40
Emphatic ending with yes or no : SIREE
42
Bulging bicep, in slang : GUN
43
Raise : REAR
44
Wet : MOISTEN
48
Agreement for exporting essential oils? : TEATREETREATY
51
Raggedy ___ : ANN
52
Around an hour after noon : ONEISH
54
Spend all weekend solving crosswords, say, with "out" : NERD
55
Dummkopfs : ASSES
56
Movie-rating org. : MPAA
58
Semi-essential part? : CAB
59
Driver of "BlacKkKlansman" : ADAM
61
Most pallid : ASHIEST
63
Exercise program done in formal attire? : BOWTIETAEBO
66
Horse operas : OATERS
68
Top squads : ATEAMS
69
Sports page listings : RESULTS
71
Avoid cooked foods : EATRAW
75
Beyond prim and proper : PRISSY
77
Sturdily built friend on "Friends"? : BEEFYPHOEBE
79
Relative of a flute : OCARINA
82
Statement often starting "I ..." : OATH
84
Egg head? : OVI
85
Train transportation : RAIL
86
"Baby Blues" or "Rhymes With Orange" : COMIC
87
PC key : CTRL
89
Rita who played Anita in "West Side Story" : MORENO
92
Setting for many Twins games: Abbr. : CDT
93
Spotted animal with a lot of sore spots? : TOUCHYCHEETAH
96
Squirrels away : STASHES
98
"What ___?" : ELSE
99
Maestro's gift : EAR
100
___ Rousey, first female fighter inducted into the U.F.C. Hall of Fame : RONDA
102
Animal in un zoológico : OSO
103
First letter of "tsar" in Russian : TSE
104
Father of the Constitution : MADISON
106
PC key : ESC
108
Extended family : TRIBE
112
Utterly useless : NOHELP
113
Totally abandon one's plan : BAIL
114
Letter-shaped fastener : TNUT
115
Laugh riot : SCREAM
118
Cause of a work stoppage at a shoe factory? : LOAFERFURLOUGH
123
Tropical scurrier : IGUANA
124
Put on a pedestal : ESTEEM
125
Charm : BEGUILE
126
A cobbler might use one : PIEPAN
127
Expunge : DELETE
128
Word before shot or plot : SCATTER
Down
1
Some turban wearers : SIKHS
2
Film composer Morricone : ENNIO
3
Doe follower, in song : ADEER
4
Breaks along the Panama Canal? : SIESTAS
5
"Well, ___-di-dah!" : LAH
6
Commercial prefix with lever : UNI
7
"That's so-o-o gross!" : GAGME
8
Is a willing participant? : INHERITS
9
Runs out of gas : DIES
10
Here, to Henri : ICI
11
Underworld boss : DON
12
Troy story : ILIAD
13
Joan of Arc, at the time of her death : TEENAGER
14
Fit for a king : OPULENT
15
Skin care brand : NIVEA
16
Attorney general under both Bush 41 and Trump : BARR
17
Santa ___ winds : ANA
18
___ sauce : SOY
19
Symbol on a Mariners cap : ESS
24
___ d'oeuvre : HORS
29
Slangy affirmation : TRUEDAT
31
Rare solo voice in opera : ALTO
33
Arthur with a Tony : BEA
34
UnitedHealthcare competitor : AETNA
35
Back-comb : TEASE
36
Multi-time Pulitzer finalist, including for the volume "Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories" (2014) : OATES
37
Meet on the down-low : TRYST
39
Confines : FENCESIN
41
Fixes up, in a way : REHABS
43
Circuit board component : RESISTOR
44
Fearsome snake : MAMBA
45
Stoned : ONPOT
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Dumbstruck : INAWE
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Undiluted : NEAT
49
Like Easter Island : REMOTE
50
Full of enthusiasm : RAHRAH
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Construction girders : IBARS
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Not without sacrifice : ATAPRICE
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Call into question : DOUBT
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Permeate : SEEPINTO
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Shout from a lottery winner : IMRICH
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Kid-lit character with the catchphrase "Thanks for noticing me" : EEYORE
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In regard to : ASFOR
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Big name in 2008 financial news : LEHMAN
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Jurisdiction : REACH
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Stomach : ABIDE
74
Painful paintball mementos : WELTS
76
Rapid movement of the eye from one point to another : SACCADE
78
Surrealist Tanguy : YVES
79
Groups in the quarterfinals, e.g. : OCTET
80
Loses enthusiasm : COOLS
81
Elicit a smile from : AMUSE
83
Last Oldsmobile ever produced : ALERO
88
Sent : THRILLED
90
Pearl clutcher's cry : OHDEARME
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Bit of brewing equipment : OAST
94
"Sure thing, dude!" : YEAHMAN
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Boatload : TON
97
Untangle : SORTOUT
101
"In your dreams!" : ASIF
104
2016 film set in Polynesia : MOANA
105
Reckon, informally : SPOSE
107
Section of a high school yearbook : CLUBS
109
Native Alaskan : INUIT
110
Popular corn chip : BUGLE
111
What radio signals travel through, with "the" : ETHER
112
Spring's opposite : NEAP
113
Nongreen salad ingredient : BEET
115
Merest taste : SIP
116
Part of a sci-fi film's budget : CGI
117
French way : RUE
119
The Braves, on scoreboards : ATL
120
One of many extras in air travel nowadays : FEE
121
A little fun? : REC
122
Letters on some luggage to New York : LGA

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?