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DON'T QUOTE ME

New York Times, Sunday, June 9, 2019

Author:
Seth A. Abel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1312/28/20036/9/20190
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6113110
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55000
Seth A. Abel

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {Q} Scrabble average: 1.70 This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Abel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
Seth A. Abel is a lawyer based in Columbus, Ohio, who works in commercial and industrial real estate. He has been making crosswords since 2003, often with themes involving gags. He thought ... read more

Seth A. Abel is a lawyer based in Columbus, Ohio, who works in commercial and industrial real estate. He has been making crosswords since 2003, often with themes involving gags. He thought of this one in 2008 and kept tweaking it over the years — "which has to be a record for incubation time for me," he says. The title [DON'T QUOTE ME] was his starting point.

This is Seth's 13th crossword for The Times.

Seth A. Abel notes:
Typically, when I have an idea for a Sunday puzzle, I'll put the puzzle together and then have to wrack my brain for a good title. Here, it was the other way around: the title came first, ... read more

Typically, when I have an idea for a Sunday puzzle, I'll put the puzzle together and then have to wrack my brain for a good title. Here, it was the other way around: the title came first, and the theme idea came second. I thought it would be cool to make a puzzle of famous movie and TV lines that were never actually said, even though we're all familiar with them. Google revealed that there are many such lines firmly cemented in our psyches despite having never been uttered.

Back in the early 2000s when I started making puzzles, Will would accept the occasional theme query for a Sunday puzzle, since it takes so much more work to make one. I emailed him about this idea in 2007, and he politely informed me that he could no longer accept theme queries due to the huge volume of email he was receiving. He added that, having said that, this idea was a "maybe." That "maybe" was all it took to keep the idea alive over the years, and I would return to it every so often, but could never get it just right.

The problem was that there were too many good entries I wanted to include, which always resulted in a puzzle with sub-par fill. Eventually, I came to terms with having to kill off more than a few entries to get everything to work, and left many memorable unspoken "lines" on the cutting room floor: "Luke, I am your father" (Darth Vader), "No more wire hangers!" (Joan Crawford), and "I want to suck your blood" (Count Dracula), to name a few. I hope you enjoy the result.

Jeff Chen notes:
Oft-quoted quotes that were never spoken by said character ... and no ILSA LUND / PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM? Sacrilege! And GORDON GEKKO isn't someone whose bad side I'd want to be on. You're ... read more

Oft-quoted quotes that were never spoken by said character ... and no ILSA LUND / PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM? Sacrilege!

And GORDON GEKKO isn't someone whose bad side I'd want to be on. You're living life on the edge, Seth! Mr. Gekko might not have ever said GREED IS GOOD, but he sure did a lot of other bad stuff.

Seth is right — there are a lot of famous misquote compilations out there. Too many; it risks the puzzle feeling like a listicle.

But I do like the ones he picked out; all good pairings of famous lines and famous people who said them. It could be argued that EARL OF GREYSTOKE is a toughie, but the word GREYSTOKE has been used in movie and book titles enough that I think it's fair game.

This is a great example of why the 140-word maximum (on Will's spec sheet) is a bad thing for solvers. As soon as I opened the puzzle, the sight of those big swaths of white space in the NW and north worried me. Those are of themeless-grade difficulty to fill — plus, you have the constraints of having to work with fixed themers! No Bueno.

See: ABLUR, ITY, TYRE. Not a good way to kick off a solving experience, even with MACHISMO adding color.

Up next, SOIN, MRE, PEES, SOYS.

As much as I love OSMOSIS and TORNADO, it already felt like a compromised, inelegant product, and I had just begun.

I understand Will's steadfast adherence to the 140-word max. In theory, that forces constructors to work in some long bonuses, and not just pack a puzzle with a flood of boring, every day 3-5 letter entries. In real practice, though, even some of the most experienced constructors can't pull off a colorful, clean 140-worder.

I had heard all of these misquotes before, so the puzzle played more like a Wikipedia article for me. But I imagine there will be solvers who learned one or two new things today. If the grid had been improved – maybe by going to 144 words, or by using only the misquotes as themers, thus allowing for lower theme density – it could have made for a better solving experience.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0609 ( 25,415 )
Across
1
Exaggerated virility : MACHISMO
9
Effortless assimilation : OSMOSIS
16
Alternatives to H.S. diplomas : GEDS
20
Surgical removal procedure : ABLATION
21
What might raise the roof? : TORNADO
22
Come down, in a way : RAIN
23
Line never said by 58-Across : FLYMYPRETTIESFLY
25
Columnist Bombeck : ERMA
26
Birth control option, briefly : IUD
27
"Please hold the line" : STAYON
28
Shopping center? : PEES
29
Excerpt : CLIP
30
Subjects of expertise : AREAS
33
Lay an egg, say : ERR
34
Targets on "chest day" : PECS
35
Hollers : HOOTS
36
Line never said by 83-Across : BEAMMEUPSCOTTY
41
Lobster ___ diavolo : FRA
42
Official language of a U.S. territory : SAMOAN
45
Medical research org. : NIH
46
"Gotcha, man!" : IDIGIT
48
December 31, e.g. : EVE
49
Diminutive for Theresa : TESS
52
Takes the plunge : LEAPS
55
Will who played Grandpa Walton on "The Waltons" : GEER
56
Big name in applesauce : MOTT
58
Film villain who never said 23-Across, with "the" : WICKEDWITCH
61
Some purchasers of expensive gowns : DEBS
64
Manhattan's ___ Stadium : ICAHN
66
The "E" in Q.E.D. : ERAT
67
Noses out? : SNOUTS
69
Counterpart of pitch : YAW
70
Prefix with -lepsy : NARCO
71
Title for two Beatles : SIR
72
___-Locka, Fla. : OPA
73
Try, in a way : TASTE
75
Woodworker's tool : ADZ
76
Digital image format : BITMAP
79
3:00 : EAST
80
Willowy : LITHE
81
Washer/dryer unit : LOAD
83
Commander who never said 36-Across : CAPTAINKIRK
86
Former Mississippi senator Trent : LOTT
87
The first recorded one was noted by the Greek scientist Hipparchus in 134 B.C. : NOVA
89
2014 hit film featuring Oprah Winfrey : SELMA
90
Announcement from a band : TOUR
92
Colorful fish : KOI
93
Surveillance aid : SPYCAM
95
Word before check or drop : MIC
96
Overnighter : REDEYE
98
Chinese principle : TAO
99
TV detective who never said 121-Across : SERGEANTFRIDAY
106
Exercise done while sitting : ETUDE
108
Wax holders : EARS
109
What a plus sign may indicate : ION
110
Belief of Benjamin Franklin : DEISM
114
Already: Fr. : DEJA
115
Lhasa ___ : APSO
116
May ordeal for some H.S. students : APEXAM
119
N.Y. engineering sch. : RPI
120
Pop singer Jason : MRAZ
121
Line never said by 99-Across : JUSTTHEFACTSMAAM
125
Last of the Stuarts : ANNE
126
Thoroughly enjoyed something : ATEITUP
127
Birth : NASCENCE
128
Obstinate responses : NOES
129
"Oh, lordy!" : MERCYME
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Corporations and partnerships, e.g. : ENTITIES
Down
1
Secret society : MAFIA
2
Moving too quickly to be seen clearly : ABLUR
3
Half of an old crime duo : CLYDE
4
Croque-monsieur ingredient : HAM
5
Plural suffix? : ITY
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Drinks in moderation : SIPS
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Post-___ : MORTEM
8
Difficult kind of push-up : ONEARM
9
German artist Dix : OTTO
10
"___ Love" (Cole Porter song) : SOIN
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G.I. grub : MRE
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Without a buyer lined up : ONSPEC
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Seattle-based insurance giant : SAFECO
14
Least productive : IDLEST
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Some beans : SOYS
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___-Roman wrestling : GRECO
17
British noble who never said 44-Down : EARLOFGREYSTOKE
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Anastasia's love in Disney's "Anastasia" : DIMITRI
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Irritably answers : SNAPSAT
24
Purchase for a lorry : TYRE
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Blood-typing letters : ABO
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Politician's goal : SEAT
34
Impatient dismissals : PSHAWS
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London's ___ Park : HYDE
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All over again : ANEW
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Not yet rented : UNLET
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Varicolored : PIED
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Like BFFs : TIGHT
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Formative : SEMINAL
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Shade of green : AVOCADO
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Line never said by 17-Down : METARZANYOUJANE
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Iraq War danger, for short : IED
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Rest of the afternoon : SIESTA
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Economizes : SCRIMPS
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Common landscaping tree with acorns : PINOAK
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Puts the kibosh on something : STOPSIT
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Active ingredient in marijuana : THC
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Sport making its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020 : KARATE
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Number of Spanish kings named Carlos : CUATRO
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Small boat, maybe : BATHTOY
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Angel : SWEETIE
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Head, slangily : NOB
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Home to the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi: Abbr. : STL
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Suffer : AIL
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Part of Caesar's boast : ICAME
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Las ___, Canary Islands : PALMAS
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Opposite of kill : ENACT
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Elmer, to Bugs : DOC
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"Sounds good to me!" : IMIN
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Many a northern Iraqi : KURD
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Rubin ___ (classic illusion) : VASE
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Try for a part : READ
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___ Graham, Oprah's longtime beau : STEDMAN
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Former Penn State football coach : PATERNO
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Go green, say : DYE
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Standing : REPUTE
101
Hilarious joke, in slang : GASSER
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Titillating : EROTIC
103
Feudal estate : FIEF
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Cyrano de Bergerac's love : ROXANE
105
How paint is usually sold : INACAN
107
Stuns : DAZES
111
Shiraz native : IRANI
112
#, to a proofreader : SPACE
113
Performers in old-fashioned dumb shows : MIMES
115
Stuck, after "in" : AJAM
116
Buzzing : AHUM
117
Stinky Le Pew : PEPE
118
___ Helens : MTST
122
Communication syst. for the deaf : TTY
123
Comp ___ (coll. major) : SCI
124
Crossed : MET

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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