It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker. Please consider supporting our site by purchasing an account.
This web browser is not supported. Use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge for best results.

BACK ON THE CHARTS

New York Times, Sunday, July 23, 2017

Author:
Caleb Madison
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
345/13/20086/8/20183
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9154555
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63132
Caleb Madison

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 88 Missing: {QV} This is puzzle # 32 for Mr. Madison. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Caleb Madison notes:
This puzzle was inspired by a monthlong hovercruise Elon Musk organized for the most important brand influencers from across all social media platforms. I remember looking philosophically ... read more

This puzzle was inspired by a monthlong hovercruise Elon Musk organized for the most important brand influencers from across all social media platforms. I remember looking philosophically out onto the sea from the balcony of the Nootropics Suite, sipping on my Matcha Soylent and listening to the statistically most thought-provoking sounds according to metadata when the epiphany came to me: what if there were as many singers in a puzzle as there were amazing digital content creators on this very hovership? I immediately got my crossword AI, Pencilton, to crowdsource reactions to that concept. Fun fact: this was actually the last puzzle I created before I started constructing completely in virtual reality. For updates about my industry-disrupting journey into the future of crosswords, sign up on solvetheinternet.com & to all my fans–stay branded ;)

Jeff Chen notes:
It took me an embarrassingly long to figure out what the bracketed numbers in the clues meant. What could the [4] refer to in HONOLULU? The fourth letter? Maybe it was the fourth themer in ... read more

It took me an embarrassingly long to figure out what the bracketed numbers in the clues meant. What could the [4] refer to in HONOLULU? The fourth letter? Maybe it was the fourth themer in some progression? Sheepish moment when I realized it was just the last four letters, LULU (a singer). Appropriate interpretation of BACK ON THE CHARTS, meaning "a singer hidden at the end of phrases."

I would have preferred a more obvious presentation of the theme, maybe circles or shaded squares highlighting the singers. I've gone ahead and done that (below) since I lost track of everything during my solve.

I wonder if others will also feel like the themers didn't stand out sharply enough. When a long across answer like MENU OPTIONS sits in a position that would typically be a themer, everything gets muddy. For instance, I found myself wondering who IONS at the end of MENU OPTIONS or SUITS at the end of PANT SUITS might be. Laying out all the themers in the across direction could have helped that.

More crossword glue than I expect from someone with Caleb's expertise. Everything was going pretty well until I bogged down in the west section. DOA over EUR over OTB is passable. Running through AGOUTI … okay. But toss in IME, OSE, MAPPER, and it felt like a patch of quicksand, tough for me to escape from.

It is incredibly tough to fill that section given the ultra-high theme density — look at the grid below again to see just how constrained it is — but to me, that's a sign that you should figure out how to avoid shoehorning so much in. It would have been one thing if every themer was essential, but I would have been fine with 50% fewer themers.

That PAZ / AZUL / LAHR set of crossings, too — should educated solvers be expected to know Bert LAHR? Probably. But AZUR / RAHR might seem reasonable, and I would be sympathetic. I think a constructor's number one goal should be to design something a lot of solvers will ultimately triumph over, and I don't know if this section qualifies.

Overall, I liked a lot of the finds — MADONNA at the end of PRIMADONNA was especially good — but I have a very high bar for Caleb.

1
A
2
C
3
M
4
E
5
H
6
A
7
S
8
O
9
N
10
I
11
B
12
M
13
C
14
N
15
N
16
M
O
O
N
17
S
18
E
L
O
P
E
19
O
N
E
A
20
R
Y
E
21
F
L
U
S
H
22
A
I
L
E
S
23
O
U
T
A
N
24
D
O
U
T
25
M
E
N
U
O
26
P
T
I
O
N
S
27
N
T
H
28
D
E
W
29
T
R
E
E
S
30
L
I
31
T
T
L
E
32
P
R
I
N
33
C
34
E
35
N
36
U
K
E
37
N
E
38
A
39
Y
E
A
40
A
P
I
A
41
J
A
X
42
O
S
E
43
P
A
Z
44
D
45
R
Y
I
N
K
46
E
S
T
47
H
O
N
48
O
49
L
U
L
U
50
A
51
B
A
A
52
N
E
E
53
W
T
O
54
O
N
Y
X
E
S
55
L
56
A
H
R
57
M
58
L
K
59
H
E
L
L
60
W
E
A
L
T
H
61
D
O
U
62
G
I
E
63
P
64
R
O
L
E
S
65
I
M
E
66
P
R
O
B
O
N
O
67
E
A
R
68
M
69
A
70
P
P
E
R
71
B
I
T
E
A
T
72
T
I
N
73
P
74
A
75
N
76
A
G
E
S
77
A
J
A
78
C
P
O
79
S
80
E
T
E
R
N
E
81
D
O
A
82
F
83
C
C
84
N
85
I
K
E
86
W
87
H
A
T
D
I
D
O
88
E
U
R
89
A
R
C
90
T
A
N
91
A
E
C
92
M
E
N
93
O
T
B
94
N
O
O
R
95
G
96
I
97
T
98
N
I
H
99
C
A
S
S
100
F
I
R
101
S
T
C
R
U
102
S
A
D
E
103
S
E
104
W
E
D
105
A
A
A
106
D
S
O
107
C
A
108
N
109
I
T
R
Y
S
O
110
M
111
E
112
P
113
A
N
T
S
114
U
I
T
S
115
A
S
A
M
I
116
L
A
N
E
D
117
A
I
D
118
I
P
O
S
119
R
E
S
I
N
120
E
R
N
I
E
121
W
R
Y
122
A
N
N
123
D
R
A
N
G
124
E
A
R
N
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0723 ( 24,729 )
Across
1
Top : ACME
5
Wears : HASON
10
Pioneer in computer chess : IBM
13
Channel setting on many airport TVs : CNN
16
Gets cheeky with? : MOONS
18
Act on a sudden itch to be hitched : ELOPE
19
Fit for service : ONEA
20
It may be seeded : RYE
21
Even (with) : FLUSH
22
Roger who battled 13-Across : AILES
23
Utter : OUTANDOUT
25
Cut, Paste and Print : MENUOPTIONS
27
Degree in math? : NTH
28
Mountain ___ : DEW
29
Copse makeup : TREES
30
Title character in a 1943 French novella [6] : LITTLEPRINCE
35
Zap : NUKE
37
Pedagogic org. : NEA
39
Vote for : YEA
40
Pacific capital : APIA
41
N.F.L.'s Jaguars, on scoreboards : JAX
42
Sugar suffix : OSE
43
1990 Literature Nobelist Octavio ___ : PAZ
44
Toner cartridge contents : DRYINK
46
Is from ancient Rome? : EST
47
The Big Pineapple [4] : HONOLULU
50
Rhyme scheme ending a villanelle : ABAA
52
French word between two surnames : NEE
53
Intl. commerce grp. : WTO
54
Banded gemstones : ONYXES
55
Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" : LAHR
57
Poor People's Campaign organizer, for short : MLK
59
Frequent Bosch setting : HELL
60
Capital accumulation : WEALTH
61
Dance craze of the 2010s : DOUGIE
63
"___ and animals are free" (party slogan in "1984") : PROLES
65
"___ Mine" (George Harrison book) : IME
66
Like some lawyers' work [4] : PROBONO
67
Musical talent : EAR
68
Cartographer : MAPPER
71
Try to sink one's teeth into : BITEAT
72
Cheap cooking implement : TINPAN
76
Like, forever : AGES
77
Steely Dan's best-selling album : AJA
78
Naval noncoms : CPOS
80
E'erlasting : ETERNE
81
___ one-eighty : DOA
82
Bleeping government org.? : FCC
84
Trophy figure : NIKE
86
"Why are you looking at me?" [4] : WHATDIDO
88
Where It. is : EUR
89
Inverse trig function : ARCTAN
91
Agcy. that oversaw plants : AEC
92
Ones "from Mars" : MEN
93
Inits. in some parlors : OTB
94
American-born Jordanian queen : NOOR
95
"Shoo!" : GIT
98
Org. behind the Human Genome Project : NIH
99
Lewis ___, 1848 Democratic candidate for president : CASS
100
11th-century campaign [4] : FIRSTCRUSADE
103
Put in stitches : SEWED
105
Like the Salt Lake Bees baseball team : AAA
106
Decoration for an R.A.F. pilot : DSO
107
"Will you let me have a taste?" : CANITRYSOME
112
Clothing associated with Hillary Clinton : PANTSUITS
115
"Same here" : ASAMI
116
Like many pools and highways : LANED
117
Cooperation : AID
118
They begin trading, for short : IPOS
119
Frankincense, e.g. : RESIN
120
Singer of a famous bath time song : ERNIE
121
Crooked : WRY
122
Barack Obama's mother : ANN
123
Sturm und ___ : DRANG
124
Garner : EARN
Down
1
Like some radios : AMFM
2
"Born Sinner" rapper J. ___ : COLE
3
17,000+-foot peak near the Equator [4] : MOUNTKENYA
4
Guarantee : ENSURE
5
Make airtight, in a way [4] : HEATSEAL
6
Others of ancient Rome? : ALII
7
Band member's time to shine : SOLO
8
In public : OPENLY
9
Monster's moniker : NESSIE
10
Healthy [4] : INTHEPINK
11
"Don't ___ hero!" : BEA
12
Nightshade family member [5] : MANDRAKE
13
Prized possession [5] : CROWNJEWEL
14
Home of the Gallatin Sch. of Individualized Study : NYU
15
Take home : NET
17
Unit around one foot? : SHOE
19
Spending : OUTLAY
23
Mich. neighbor : ONT
24
Mater ___ : DEI
26
One doing routine office work, informally [5] : PENPUSHER
31
"Wasn't that fantastic?!" : TADA
32
Long : PINE
33
Move to protect the king, say : CASTLE
34
Praises highly : EXTOLS
35
At all, in dialect : NOHOW
36
Me.-to-Fla. route : USONE
38
Color of el mar : AZUL
45
Butt : RAMINTO
48
Flowers native to damp woods : OXLIPS
49
"Please, I'll handle it" : LETME
50
Totally LOL-worthy : AHOOT
51
Dave of jazz [4] : BRUBECK
56
Supermodel Lima : ADRIANA
58
Certain fire sign : LEO
59
Like the Greek god Pan : HORNED
62
Flip out : GOAPE
63
One leading the exercises, for short? [4] : PETEACHER
64
Singer Bonnie : RAITT
66
Sandwich inits. : PBJ
68
Having as ingredients : MADEOF
69
Guinea pig relative : AGOUTI
70
Fruity spirit [6] : PEARBRANDY
73
Vain, temperamental sort [7] : PRIMADONNA
74
Long range : ANDES
75
Bright lights : NEONS
77
Band member's main squeeze? [4] : ACCORDION
79
___ song : SWAN
82
1940 Disney release [3] : FANTASIA
83
Swamp swimmer : CROC
85
Woman who took a "roll in ze hay" in "Young Frankenstein" : INGA
87
Pulling off bank jobs [5] : HEISTING
90
Teddy Roosevelt targets : TRUSTS
96
Much-swiped item : IDCARD
97
Short trailer : TEASER
99
Borgia who was an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI : CESARE
101
Took a breather : SAT
102
Message from the marooned : SOS
104
Noah of "ER" : WYLE
108
Grp. with a mission : NASA
109
"Sure, sign me up!" : IMIN
110
Predecessor of Rabin : MEIR
111
What's lost in "Paradise Lost" : EDEN
112
Rabbit's foot : PAW
113
It's inspired : AIR
114
Original "Veronica Mars" channel : UPN

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?