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New York Times, Thursday, July 23, 2015

Author:
Timothy Polin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
4912/11/20111/3/20192
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74962102
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.626140
Timothy Polin

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 77, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QWZ} This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Polin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Timothy Polin notes:
Chris McGlothlin did a sweet puzzle four years ago where he partitioned ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM into 11 chunks and rebused it across the ... read more

Chris McGlothlin did a sweet puzzle four years ago where he partitioned ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM into 11 chunks and rebused it across the middle of his grid. The obvious candidate for doing something similar with a longer word was PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS, a 45-letter term that refers to a lung disease caused by inhaling silica dust and fine ash, as from an erupting volcano.

Just kidding. (I'm saving that bad boy for a Science Friday crossword.)

Incredibly, a 1970 puzzle actually WAS built thematically around that word, stretching it across three 15-letter spanners. [Miner's ailment]—fun times!

The fill turned out pretty well. You always try to get rid of bits like NORAS and ITA, but adding cheaters or moving squares around to turn NORAS into NORA and SETTE into ETTE didn't lead to a clean fill in the SE, as nothing helpful built off of AL- (37D). The central blocks have to go above SUPER and below DOCIOUS, because nothing starts with CIOUS-. And if those blocks are fixed in place, you're very limited in how you can arrange the grid around the other two themers.

It took some confused thinking to come up with a thematic 11 to offset MARY. If her name were one shorter, Julie Andrews would have been the pick. Her singing partner, Dick Van Dyke, fit, but I wasn't sure if I could include him if she wasn't somewhere in the grid herself.

Parsing the main entry by its 14 syllables struck me as the only fair partition, even though it meant three squares would contain single letters instead of rebuses. The problem is that nothing larger than two divides into 34 except 17. Splitting SUPERC into SU / PE / RC, or IDOCIOUS into ID / OC / IO / US—which would force solvers to enter unintuitive, unpronounceable chunks into half the squares—seemed a miserable choice compared to this segmentation.

In other words, "He chose ... poorly" is the general sentiment I was hoping to avoid.

Jeff Chen notes:
Sometimes this annoyingly OCD memory of mine comes in handy! Four years ago, I was starting to consistently finish Friday NYTs … and ... read more

Sometimes this annoyingly OCD memory of mine comes in handy! Four years ago, I was starting to consistently finish Friday NYTs … and then I hit the sneaky rebus Tim mentioned. I was so stumped that it stuck with me, making today's much easier. I didn't complete today's either though — I'll get into that below.

I cry SHENANIGANS on the umbrella

Nice idea, parsing SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS into rebus syllables. I wasn't a MARY POPPINS fan when I was a kid (could have been my failed umbrella experiments) but I do remember being fascinated by the SUPER… word. It is awfully fun to say, and it also made for a fun solving challenge; not knowing what was going on in the middle row.

Also made for a construction challenge. Two rebus squares in a row is hard to pull off, because the adjacent entries have to work together. When you expand the problem to nearly a full row, you get a monumental challenge. Tim does a pretty good job in the middle, with just NORAS and ITA / SETTE as gluey bits. He uses black squares to section off the SUPER... string from the rest of the puzzle, which allows him to work with short words.

The sectioning does cut the puzzle into mini-puzzles — the NE and SW are connected to the rest of the puzzle only by two little spots apiece. That didn't bother me much in the SW, where everything was so cleanly and colorfully filled. Beautiful work there, with OH SNAP, NAIL GUNS, and PERSIAN RUG fantastic. And MARY POPPINS was a giveaway.

The NE... there are so many synonyms for "super" that MAGNIFICENT felt non-specific. Along with the esoteric THE TUXEDO (this Jackie Chan fan is hanging his head in shame), some gluey bits like ILL USE and ROHAN (big LotR fan but this goes deep even for me), and a rough clue for ULTRA (an oblique term for "zealot"), the separated corner stumped me.

So, some nice constructing given the incredibly hard constraints, but I have a feeling that I won't be alone in having a rough go with that NE mini-puzzle. Overall, a fun solving experience though.

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PER
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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0723 ( 23,998 )
Across
1. Top dog in Hollywood in the 1930s : ASTA
5. Cans : JAILS
10. Zealot : ULTRA
15. Burst into flames : GOUP
16. Abrogate : ANNUL
17. Gondor's northern ally in Middle-earth : ROHAN
18. 42, for Mo : ATNO
19. What 39-Across means : MAGNIFICENT
21. Continental ___ : SHELF
23. One who ignores bills : DEADBEAT
24. W.W. II bond type : SERIESE
26. Treat barbarically : ILLUSE
29. Woodwind or wind gauge : INSTRUMENT
33. Major showcase : EXPO
34. Global capital inst. : IMF
35. Comedian Dunn and others : NORAS
38. Gloaming, to a poet : EEN
39. Mouthful from a 1964 song : SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS
43. Slam : DIS
44. Number of giorni in a week : SETTE
45. Terminal approx. : ETD
46. On tenterhooks : ATIP
48. Law firm employees : ASSOCIATES
53. What shadows become as they lengthen : BEARDS
56. The Wars of the Roses began during his reign : HENRYVI
57. Sharp shooters? : NAILGUNS
61. Preternatural : EERIE
62. Musical featuring 39-Across : MARYPOPPINS
65. Masculine side : YANG
66. Oversupplies : GLUTS
67. Swell : AOKAY
68. Many moons ago : ONCE
69. Mr. in two Oscar-winning shorts : MAGOO
70. Short cuts : SNIPS
71. The Pac-12's Runnin' ___ : UTES
Down
1. Sports champion whose father twice represented Iran as an Olympic boxer : AGASSI
2. "Afterward ..." : SOTHEN
3. Workers with pitch forks? : TUNERS
4. Nonvoting, say : APOLITICAL
5. Quandary : JAM
6. Floral garland : ANADEM
7. Playwright William : INGE
8. 1960s-'70s Soviet space program : LUNA
9. Declined : SLID
10. Archangel in "Paradise Lost" : URIEL
11. Spot : LOCALE
12. Jackie Chan action film featuring a high-tech jacket : THETUXEDO
13. Reacted pusillanimously : RAN
14. Member of a colonial army : ANT
20. Kind of sting : FBI
22. Minuscule distance units : FERMIS
25. Subject of the 15th and 19th Amendments : SUFFRAGE
27. False : SPECIOUS
28. Many moons : EON
30. Signs up : ENLISTS
31. Fliers, e.g. : NOTICES
32. Natural history museum attraction, for short : TREX
36. Not together : APIECE
37. Soup go-with : SALTINE
39. Microsoft Office, e.g. : SUITE
40. Grand Bazaar purchase : PERSIANRUG
41. "Give ___ rest" : ITA
42. Words after "Go on ..." : IDAREYOU
43. Light application : DAB
47. Implore : PRAYTO
49. Rejoinder to a zinger : OHSNAP
50. Uncompromising sort : TYRANT
51. Bespeak : EVINCE
52. Protracted campaigns : SIEGES
54. Tosspot : DIPSO
55. School zone warning : SLO
58. University figs. : GPAS
59. ___ reflection : UPON
60. Supermodel Taylor : NIKI
62. "Grand" letters : MGM
63. Impersonating : ALA
64. M.O.: Abbr. : SYS

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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