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DOUBLE FEATURES

New York Times, Sunday, July 17, 2016

Author:
Jerry Miccolis
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
37/17/201611/14/20171
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2010000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60000
Jerry Miccolis

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQV} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Miccolis. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jerry Miccolis notes:
Talk about beginner's luck! This was the very first puzzle I ever constructed or submitted, anywhere, and I thought I'd swing for the fences and go straight for the Sunday NYT. Why not, ... read more

Talk about beginner's luck! This was the very first puzzle I ever constructed or submitted, anywhere, and I thought I'd swing for the fences and go straight for the Sunday NYT. Why not, right? I was more than pleasantly surprised, a few months later, to have it accepted! Having since had two subsequent puzzles rejected (followed by a less-than-stellar performance at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament), I'm now suitably humbled, and fear that I might be a one-shot wonder at this. But I do plan to keep swinging!

When I first got the idea for DOUBLE FEATURES and asked Will some pretty naïve questions about how to turn it into a NYT-worthy puzzle, he very helpfully referred me to cruciverb.com. I was amazed how much free advice was out there, much of it from Nancy Salomon who, it turns out, likes to mentor first-time constructors. I contacted Nancy, and she gave me some excellent pointers. With respect to the specific theme, however, she felt she was not the best arbiter of popular movies, so she referred me to Jeff Chen.

Jeff proved to be a tough sounding board, but incredibly generous and patient. While the themers, grid, fill, and clues (pre Will's expert editing, anyway) were ultimately all mine, Jeff guided me through each step of the proper, systematic way to construct a puzzle. He was so thoughtful and instructive, particularly in the way he critiqued some of my early attempts, that I offered him co-authorship credit, which he graciously declined.

So thanks again to Nancy and Jeff, and I hope you enjoy this puzzle about one of my (other) favorite pastimes.

Jeff Chen notes:
Congrats on the debut, Jerry! I agreed with Nancy that the basic idea — describing one movie with two others smashed together — was clever, so I went back and forth with ... read more

Congrats on the debut, Jerry!

I agreed with Nancy that the basic idea — describing one movie with two others smashed together — was clever, so I went back and forth with Jerry through 50ish emails, helping him brainstorm and ultimately settle on a set I felt Will would go for. I particularly liked TITANIC SKYFALL to describe "Armageddon."

I was mighty surprised to see the cluing changed to a more generic language. [… about baseball-sized hail?] for TITANIC SKYFALL doesn't do much for me — cramming just about any two movies together could form some wacky phrase, right?

I proposed a grid skeleton to Jerry, but he decided to go his own way and asked me to review his work. 140 word Sundays are so tough, especially for novices, but Jerry got pretty close on his own. There was way too much crossword glue in his first attempt, especially around that ALIEN CONTACT / TITANIC SKYFALL region, so we went back and forth a few times to work things through.

Given the difficulty of how much overlap there is between ALIEN CONTACT and TITANIC SKYFALL, I would have personally preferred a total reboot in order to achieve better spacing between themers. But scrapping a full grid can be disheartening. It's no surprise that even after some massage, that region contains the crunchy LGS / GNMA crossing as well as the deep crossword glue, ORLE. What with the AS YE, ME IS, EEE, EIN TER, TYES, EXEUNT, I GOT, etc. in the rest of the puzzle, I thought there was still well too much overall.

But as a constructor, you have to stop at some point. And some of the nice long entries like MEAT CASE, PIPE ORGAN, NERDIEST, help make up for some of the roughness.

I think this puzzle would have been much more memorable with the initial clues — it's a real shame. Just FYI, here are the movies that had been referenced:

  • FROZEN WATERWORLD = Ice Age
  • ALIEN CONTACT = ET The Extraterrestrial
  • TITANIC SKYFALL = Armageddon
  • BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY = JFK
  • SAW THE DEPARTED = The Sixth Sense
  • ROCKY SLEEPER = Insomnia
  • NOTORIOUS KINGPIN = The Godfather

ADDED NOTE: My apologies to Will — he mentioned to me today that the manuscript he received did not actually contain the theme clues as I listed above. Not sure where things got lost in translation.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0717 ( 24,358 )
Across
1
Really tiny : ATOMIC
7
Deli fixture : MEATCASE
15
Over yonder : AFAR
19
First N.F.L. QB to pass for 5,000 yards in a season : MARINO
20
Cathedral music maker : PIPEORGAN
21
Best hand value in baccarat : NINE
22
Double feature about the Arctic Ocean? : FROZENWATERWORLD
24
Kardashian matriarch : KRIS
25
"___ sow, so shall ..." : ASYE
26
French for "square" : CARRE
27
Museumgoer, e.g. : AESTHETE
29
Upholstery problem : RIP
30
Sealy rival : SERTA
31
Some Korean-made TVs : LGS
34
City hard hit by the Zika virus : RIO
35
Didn't play in the game : SAT
36
Actor who was lionized in the 1930s? : LAHR
38
... about the search for extraterrestrial life? : ALIENCONTACT
42
Chump change : PEANUTS
45
Mustang rival : CAMARO
46
Unfair treatment, with "the" : SHAFT
49
... about baseball-sized hail? : TITANICSKYFALL
52
First home? : UTERUS
53
Like a neat freak : ANAL
54
Suffix with project : ILE
55
Actress Amanda of "Togetherness" : PEET
57
Additional, in adspeak : XTRA
58
Got room service : ORDEREDIN
64
Dope : SAP
66
Forget to carry the one, e.g. : ERR
67
... about Lee Harvey Oswald not being the lone gunman? : BIGCONSPIRACYTHEORY
72
When doubled, something to beat : TOM
73
Bow : ARC
74
Bandleader who popularized the conga line : DESIARNAZ
75
Like much of Namibia : ARID
77
"Within ___ a hell": Shak. : MEIS
80
Number on un orologio : TRE
81
About : ASTO
85
Kitchen counters? : TIMERS
87
... about attending a funeral? : SAWTHEDEPARTED
93
Watchdog org., in two senses? : ASPCA
94
Occupant of a 52-Across : EMBRYO
95
Stein relative : TANKARD
96
... about an insomniac? : ROCKYSLEEPER
100
Optimistic : ROSY
101
Floor : AWE
103
Wide shoe spec : EEE
104
U.S.N. rank : ENS
105
Marked, as a ballot : XEDIN
107
Cap-and-trade org. : EPA
110
Basis of a political scandal, maybe : MISTRESS
113
They lose their heads over time : BEERS
114
Promising exchange : IDOS
115
Really tiny : ITSY
116
... about Pablo Escobar? : NOTORIOUSKINGPIN
121
Manual component : STEP
122
Longtime "All My Children" role : ERICAKANE
123
Turn on : AROUSE
124
___ Park (Chicago neighborhood once home to Obama) : HYDE
125
Most geeky : NERDIEST
126
Yak, yak, yak : NATTER
Down
1
H.I.V. research org. : AMFAR
2
Foot bones : TARSI
3
Only U.S. state motto in Spanish : OROYPLATA
4
Hall-of-Fame slugger Johnny : MIZE
5
Chemical suffix : INE
6
Liszt wrote three for piano : CONCERTI
7
Kind of heart valve : MITRAL
8
Tool for a duel : EPEE
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___ Lingus : AER
10
What may follow a breakdown : TOW
11
___-Magnon : CRO
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Tourist destination SSE of Delhi : AGRA
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Amalfi Coast city : SALERNO
14
Breaks up : ENDSIT
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Cross with a loop : ANKH
16
Stephen King novel with a pyrokinetic character : FIRESTARTER
17
Hill in Hill hearings : ANITA
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Change to all zeros, say : RESET
20
First section : PARTA
23
"This means ___!" : WAR
28
Done for : TOAST
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Avoid : SHUN
31
Canadian flag symbol : LEAF
32
Fed. lending agency : GNMA
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Where your roots are : SCALP
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Kind of watch : ANALOG
39
Standoffish : ICY
40
Heraldic border : ORLE
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Cereal used in party mix : CHEX
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Open-house org. : PTA
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A, on the Aare : EIN
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It "never solves a problem without raising 10 more," per George Bernard Shaw : SCIENCE
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Like stuffed animals : FURRY
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Leader issuing a ukase : TSAR
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Some cameras, for short : SLRS
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Castle part : KEEP
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Pioneer Day celebrant : UTAHN
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Address of the Boss's band : ESTREET
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___ Victor : RCA
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Sides of a quadrangle, maybe : DORMS
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"___ not!" : DID
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High dudgeon : IRE
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Nasty ___ (rap nickname) : NAS
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Shade of green : PEA
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___ Johnson, former mayor of London : BORIS
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"Well, you've dazzled me!" : IMIMPRESSED
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Commend : CITE
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It has three feet : YARD
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Range that's home to the Mark Twain National Forest : OZARKS
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"Buh-bye!" : TATA
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Art ___ : DECO
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Beliefs : ISMS
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Black : SABLE
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Didn't budge : STAYEDPUT
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Thrice, in Rx's : TER
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"Huh"-inducing, say : ODD
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One going around in circles? : RACER
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Small songbird : WREN
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Sailing ropes : TYES
90
Short flight : HOP
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Monet or Sartre, by birth : PARISIAN
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In due course : ANON
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Blight : EYESORE
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One of the Wayans brothers : KEENEN
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Old-fashioned stage direction : EXEUNT
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Candy man : REESE
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Electricity-eschewing group : AMISH
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Swift, in a way : WITTY
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Nickname for baseball's Dwight Gooden : DRK
108
Cool : POISE
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"Roots" Emmy winner : ASNER
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Info for a dating profile : TYPE
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Ado : STIR
113
Drag queen's collection : BOAS
114
"___ Plenty o' Nuttin'" ("Porgy and Bess" song) : IGOT
117
Condition for a neat freak, in brief : OCD
118
Thor Heyerdahl craft : RAI
119
1950s pol : IKE
120
Body with many arms, for short : NRA

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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