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NO ESCAPE

New York Times, Sunday, July 26, 2015

Author:
Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
87/11/201110/23/20167
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3210200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Ellen Leuschner
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
917/5/201011/15/201853
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2467172188
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.635192
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 81 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 6 for Ms. Leuschner. This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Jeff is so patient with me and my crazy ideas. This puzzle was inspired by our previous 'Fire in the Hole' puzzle. As I was looking back through my notes, I noticed that it was about ... read more

Jeff is so patient with me and my crazy ideas.

This puzzle was inspired by our previous "Fire in the Hole" puzzle. As I was looking back through my notes, I noticed that it was about one year ago when we first started discussing this idea. It took us over 30 revisions and a couple of months to reach a point of satisfaction with the fill.

I enjoy researching puzzle ideas, facts, clues and definitions. I've even been known to skim though a thesaurus. (To which my husband comments, "I wonder how it ends. Har! Har!") While I was researching the actual definition of a black hole, I realized it was way beyond my grasp. I think I'll just stick to the simplified version I know from Star Trek.

Thanks again to Jeff for his help and his sense of humor!

Jeff Chen notes:
So much fun to work with Ellen. She came up with the idea to have a giant black hole in the middle of a grid; sort of a HOLE faux-rebus. I thought it was clever, so we went to work trying ... read more

So much fun to work with Ellen. She came up with the idea to have a giant black hole in the middle of a grid; sort of a HOLE faux-rebus. I thought it was clever, so we went to work trying to find enough "___ HOLE" phrases for the north and west, and "HOLE ___" phrases for the east and south.

That's one giant sucker

After banging my head for ages, I came to the conclusion that it just wasn't possible. There were relatively few "HOLE ___" phrases, and to group them into triplets such that all the crosses worked proved infuriating. Luckily, Ellen came up with another brilliant idea: all the answers adjacent to the black hole really ought to be "sucked inside," i.e. reversed. Not only was this a cool visual representation of what happens with a black hole, but it allowed us to take advantage of the huge arsenal of "___ HOLE" phrases we found.

Then it was a matter of adding theme density. I thought it would be amusing to have funny phrases around the perimeter like DISAPPEARING ACT, but I worried that there wouldn't be enough apt choices. Ellen came back a few days later with a huge list, most of them of the "wish I had thought of that" variety. (Sensing a pattern here?) Turns out that the hardest part was picking the best ones from the list! Ellen's a hard-working, creative person.

Our original title made us laugh: ONE SINGULAR SENSATION. To all the die-hard physicists out there, I realize SINGULAR isn't exactly the same thing as a SINGULARITY, but we thought the wordplay was too good to pass up.

Our original clue for BLACK (HOLE) was [Giant sucker in the middle of the puzzle].

We amuse ourselves; hope you were amused, too. And if you weren't, I have a few other "___ HOLE" phrases on the list ready for assignment. (WORMhole. Why, what were you thinking?)

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0726 ( 24,001 )
Across
1. Drug charge? : COPAY
6. Petition : PLEA
10. War ___ : CRY
13. Govt. health org. : CDC
16. Conductor's resistance : OHMAGE
17. Mark's replacement : EURO
18. Laugh syllable : HEE
19. Scenic drapery fabric : TOILE
21. Novella that served as the basis for "Apocalypse Now" : HEARTOFDARKNESS
24. Like dough after baking : RISEN
25. Actress Suvari of "American Beauty" : MENA
26. Mercedes-Benz competitor : LEXUS
27. Panama part : BRIM
28. Remove a piece from? : UNARM
29. "The Phantom Menace" in the "Star Wars" series : EPISODEI
31. Feminist of 1970s TV : MAUDE
32. "Silas Marner" girl : EPPIE
33. Chemical ending : ANE
34. ___ contendere : NOLO
37. Hooey : BUNK
39. Short lines at the checkout? : UPCS
40. To whom Dionne Warwick asked "What's it all about?" in a 1967 hit : ALFIE
43. Idol worshiper? : GROUPIE
45. From scratch : AFRESH
47. Idol worship : BAALISM
50. ___ of Abraham (place of comfort) : BOSOM
51. Asian capital : LHASA
52. Canadian N.H.L. team, on scoreboards : OTT
53. Lender's security : LIEN
55. Dearie : PET
56. Loped : CANTERED
59. Long, in Lahaina : LOA
60. Damage to a wall made in hanging a picture : NAILHOLE
62. Mouth, slangily : PIEHOLE
63. Comment that might start with 96-Across : ASIDE
64. Maui or Bali: Abbr. : ISL
65. Having more liabilities than assets : INTHEHOLE
66. Secret spot : HIDEYHOLE
68. Catch : NAB
69. Milan's La ___ : SCALA
71. Primitive kind of camera : PINHOLE
72. Fracking opening : BOREHOLE
73. Atlanta sch. : GSU
74. Some written rants : HATEMAIL
76. StubHub purchase: Abbr. : TKT
79. Like fine wine : AGED
81. It may be filled in with a No. 2 pencil : ANS
82. Postpone : TABLE
83. Paris's ___-Coeur : SACRE
85. Batting positions : STANCES
87. "Aargh!" : DARNIT
89. Drinking songs? : KARAOKE
91. Go after following a hung jury, say : RETRY
92. "Casablanca" escape route city : ORAN
93. 50 or more people? : AARP
95. Tour grp. since 1950 : LPGA
96. "Incidentally," in a text : BTW
97. Button material : NACRE
99. Biblical spy : CALEB
101. "Friday the 13th" movies, e.g. : SLASHERS
106. Sign up to receive email alerts, say : OPTIN
107. Like : AKIN
108. Tree spirit : DRYAD
110. Jordan's Queen ___ International Airport : ALIA
111. Hollywood director Sam : RAIMI
112. Tightrope walker's concern : CENTEROFGRAVITY
115. Unlike wild horses : SHOED
116. Multinational bank : ING
117. Cry outside an airport : TAXI
118. Glacial ridges : ARETES
119. Ending with walk or run : ONS
120. Idiot : ASS
121. River with a "dreadful shore," in Shakespeare : STYX
122. They line many ski runs : PINES
Down
1. Sound like a bird : CHEEP
2. Certain Arabian : OMANI
3. Soar above the sea, say : PARASAIL
4. Fed, e.g.: Abbr. : AGT
5. Quaint sign starter : YEOLDE
6. Caution for drivers on city streets : PEDXING
7. Party on a beach : LUAU
8. Blows it : ERRS
9. "Ready for takeoff!" : AOK
10. Pair of figures in Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" : CHERUBIM
11. Remains : RESIDUE
12. Rubber stamps : YESMEN
13. Change places : COINPURSES
14. Avoidance maneuver : DISAPPEARINGACT
15. Priests, e.g. : CLERICS
16. "Heavens!" : OHME
19. "You have a point" : TRUE
20. Tangle up : ENMESH
22. Greens ___ : FEE
23. What L.A. is represented in twice : NBA
30. Baseball's Buck : ONEIL
31. Place to set a trap : MOUSEHOLE
35. Poet's planet : ORB
36. Tax dodger's discovery : LOOPHOLE
38. Madeline of "What's Up, Doc?" : KAHN
40. Put an end to : ABOLISH
41. French play that inspired an Italian opera : LATOSCA
42. 1987 Michael Douglas/Glenn Close blockbuster : FATALATTRACTION
44. Tire hazard : POTHOLE
46. Palestinian political group : FATAH
48. ___ Fein (Irish political group) : SINN
49. Savory dish with a crust : MEATPIE
51. Toy poodles, e.g. : LAPDOGS
54. Nothing : NIHIL
56. Old Olds : CIERA
57. Santa Claus player in a 2003 comedy : EDASNER
58. "Clair de Lune" composer : DEBUSSY
61. "Dancing With the Stars" judge Goodman : LEN
62. Ogle : EYE
65. "But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?," e.g. : IAMBI
67. "Yeah, whatever you say" : IBET
70. Singer with the 1997 3x platinum single "How Do I Live" : LEANNRIMES
75. Ski area in the Wasatch Mountains : ALTA
76. Small, dirty, uncomfortable room : RATHOLE
77. The middle of this puzzle's grid, symbolically : BLACKHOLE
78. Ship window : PORTHOLE
80. Game with rings : DARTS
83. Nursery purchases : SAPLINGS
84. Heart test, for short : EKG
86. Ivy League home : NEWHAVEN
87. Certain angels : DONORS
88. Great Plains Indian : ARAPAHO
89. Mythical monsters : KRAKENS
90. Simple solution : EASYFIX
94. Mimosa, for one : ACACIA
96. Undeserved reputation : BADRAP
98. Woman of Camelot : ENID
100. "The Lord of the Rings" creature : ENT
102. Not keep up : LAG
103. Like Navy SEALs : ELITE
104. Some contents of a Masonic manual : RITES
105. "___ who?" : SAYS
108. "Darn!" : DRAT
109. Classic theater name : ROXY
113. Mork and Worf : ETS
114. Jackie's Onassis : ARI

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

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