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WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT

New York Times, Sunday, July 13, 2014

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3311/14/20139/29/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
18815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQXZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. McCoy. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The circled letters, when read clockwise, will reveal a quote from Gertrude Stein.
Tom McCoy notes:
I constructed this puzzle while staying at my sister's house, so a big thanks to her for the hospitality! Another shout-out goes to Doris Day, whose recording of 'Que Sera Sera' I played ... read more

I constructed this puzzle while staying at my sister's house, so a big thanks to her for the hospitality! Another shout-out goes to Doris Day, whose recording of "Que Sera Sera" I played many times while filling the grid. (The song didn't make it into the puzzle, but its tautological refrain and circular storyline fit with the theme).

For a while, the central three theme answers were going to be I YAM WHAT I YAM, IT IS WHAT IT IS, and WE R WHO WE R (a Kesha song), which I thought made a fun trio due to their parallel wording. However, two strangely-spelled pop-culture references seemed a bit much for one puzzle, so I scrapped WE R WHO WE R. (IYAMWHATIYAM is not too hard to parse, but WERWHOWER would look pretty strange to those unfamiliar with the song).

The central ring was a late addition; I had already filled and clued a version of the puzzle before I thought of it. Incorporating the ring made the overall fill much more difficult because it required extra black squares in the center, forcing a wide-open periphery. Wording the note was also tricky because most people know the line as "A rose is a rose is a rose," but Gertrude Stein first phrased it as "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Therefore, the note does not mention where to start reading the ring, making both interpretations possible. I regretted leaving the note ambiguous, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Jeff Chen notes:
What a perfect title for this clever idea. Self-evident, indeed! I'm impressed that Tom was able to come up wtih so many snappy phrases that fit the pattern. The Yogi Berra quote in the ... read more

What a perfect title for this clever idea. Self-evident, indeed! I'm impressed that Tom was able to come up wtih so many snappy phrases that fit the pattern. The Yogi Berra quote in the middle sings, and how could you hate HATERS GONNA HATE? But the real topper is the quote from Gertrude Stein represented in a repeating circular pattern in the center. So many levels of delight today.

In just four published puzzles, I've picked two of Tom's as Puzzles of the Week now. Not bad sir, not bad at all. As Jim and I discussed, Tom's a constructor to watch. I've enjoyed my correspondence with him — seems like he has the right attitude: humble and willing to listen, learn and drive himself to improve. Hoping to see a lot more from him.

Liz Gorski's rebus interpretation of the Stein quote was another fun one. I appreciate Tom's new interpretation, taking things a step further.

Another thing I admired about this puzzle was its scientific tone. It's not going to RESONATE well with everyone, but I personally enjoyed seeing ENTROPY, LIGAND, and TITRATES in there, triggering good memories of college chem and physics classes. I bet it will trigger shudders for others, but you can't satisfy everyone. HATERS GONNA HATE, as they say.

I did wonder if this would have made a better weekday puzzle. A 21x can get a bit tedious to solve if there's not some factor that forces it to use an oversize grid. A visual element often does that for me. Grid art is another reason I find compelling. For me, the best Sunday puzzles are those that absolutely, positively, cannot be done in a normal 15x. All in all, I thought it was really nice to get all those snappy theme answers today, but it did get (pun intended) a little repetitive.

Neat idea, well laid out (great spacing between his themers and the central element), some strong, smooth fill and cluing, and a neat visual element. A winner of a Sunday in my book.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0713 ( 23,623 )
Across
1
Fighting group : CADRE
6
Understood : GOT
9
Scientific truth : LAW
12
Lives : ABIDES
18
Opposite of wind up : UNREEL
20
Bobby on the ice : ORR
21
Memphis-to-Nashville dir. : ENE
22
Like yesterday : RECENT
23
Classic excuse for some misdemeanors : BOYSWILLBEBOYS
26
Intimidating words : ORELSE
27
Prefix with -graphic : IDEO
28
Mercury, but not Earth : GOD
29
Workman's aid : VAN
30
Heavy work : TOME
32
Carrier to Tokyo : ANA
33
World's largest particle physics lab, in Switzerland : CERN
34
Many a drive-thru installation : ATM
35
Declaration from Popeye : IYAMWHATIYAM
38
___ Anne's (popular pretzel purveyor) : AUNTIE
41
Smugglers' worries : RAIDS
42
___ mortal : MERE
43
Doubt-dispelling words from Lady Macbeth : WHATSDONEISDONE
48
Follower of lop : SIDED
49
Follower of lop : EARED
50
Formerly, once : ERST
51
Spectrum : GAMUT
53
"Alea iacta ___" ("The die is cast") : EST
54
Mutt's mutter? : ARF
57
"When You're Good to ___" ("Chicago" song) : MAMA
60
Aside, e.g. : REMARK
63
Encyclopedic : VAST
65
Frequent features of John Constable landscapes : ELMS
68
Atypical : RARE
70
Bearing in mind : NOTING
72
Famous Yogiism : ITAINTOVERTILLITSOVER
76
Traditional Gaelic singer : LILTER
77
Falafel holder : PITA
78
Food often with pentagonal cross sections : OKRA
79
"All ___" : RISE
80
Holy ___ : TERROR
82
Makes loop-the-loops? : SEWS
84
Chicken ___ diable : ALA
86
Spanish "that" : ESA
87
One summing things up : ADDER
89
They may come with covenants : ARKS
92
Property areas : ACRES
94
Match game? : SLOTS
97
Words dismissive of detractors : HATERSGONNAHATE
102
Send, in a way : WIRE
103
Urge to attack : SETON
104
Top choice : BLOUSE
105
Expression of resignation : ITISWHATITIS
109
Baseball stat. : AVG
110
"Did gyre and gimble in the ___": "Jabberwocky" : WABE
114
Take it easy : VEG
115
Cast : HURL
116
Sushi topper, maybe : ROE
117
Hardly highbrow reading : RAG
118
Material blocked by parental controls : SMUT
119
Fantasy title character whose name is one letter different from the creature he rides : ERAGON
121
"We will tolerate this no more!" : ENOUGHISENOUGH
125
Least plausible : LAMEST
126
Certain wardrobe malfunction : RIP
127
Filler of la mer : EAU
128
Mess up : TOUSLE
129
Covers with goo : SLIMES
130
Austin Powers, e.g. : SPY
131
Record stat : RPM
132
Guide : STEER
Down
1
Like some measures : CUBIC
2
Cell part : ANODE
3
Whirlpool product : DRYER
4
Strike a chord : RESONATE
5
"Gross!" : EEW
6
Source of great profit : GOLDMINE
7
Mercury or Earth : ORB
8
District in Rome : TREVI
9
Sheldon's apartment-mate on "The Big Bang Theory" : LEONARD
10
"___ questions?" : ANY
11
Emmy-winning drama four years in a row, with "The" : WESTWING
12
Some memory triggers : AROMAS
13
Stereotypical beatnik accessory : BERET
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Hard water : ICE
15
Pushed back : DELAYED
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Capture : ENSNARE
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Fuming : STEAMED
19
Bonding molecule : LIGAND
24
Kind of ticket : LOTTO
25
Howl : BAY
31
"My, my!" : OHDEAR
36
Card game with a "Chairman" : MAO
37
Ape : IMITATOR
39
Letters of certification? : USDA
40
Ending for how or who, for Shakespeare : EER
43
One that's a bore? : WEEVIL
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Fights : HASATIT
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Where prints may be picked up : ARTSALE
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Movement : ISM
47
Send in troops, say : STARTAWAR
48
Some wrestlers : SUMOS
52
Bonkers : MENTAL
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Went back over : RETROD
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Rapper ___ Rida : FLO
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Juin preceder : MAI
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1968 live folk album : ARLO
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"Tender Is the Night" locale, with "the" : RIVIERA
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Mideast legislature : KNESSET
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Determines the concentration of a dissolved substance : TITRATES
66
Team V.I.P. : MVP
67
Ocho - dos : SEIS
69
Certain ruminant : ELK
71
"Summer Nights" musical : GREASE
73
Colorful, pebble-like candies : NERDS
74
Bit of trip planning: Abbr. : RTE
75
Roth ___ : IRA
81
Take up again, as a case : REHEAR
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Yearbook sect. : SRS
85
Small power sources : AAAS
88
Ones that warn before they attack : RATTLERS
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Former employer for Vladimir Putin, for short : KGB
91
Sunny room : SOLARIUM
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Reams : CHEWSOUT
94
Takes a turn : SWIVELS
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Strict : LITERAL
96
Work for a folder : ORIGAMI
98
What you might be in France? : TOI
99
Degree of disorder in a system : ENTROPY
100
Pop stars? : NOVAS
101
Bit of wisdom : NUGGET
103
Pushes aside : SHUNTS
106
"___ Baby Are You?" (1920 show tune) : WHOSE
107
Debt note : IOU
108
Rocker Bob : SEGER
111
Beguile : AMUSE
112
Corn chip since 1966 : BUGLE
113
Clear sky : ETHER
120
Pip : GEM
122
Barely beat : NIP
123
Chance, poetically : HAP
124
Refusals : NOS

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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