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MAKE THAT A DOUBLE

New York Times, Sunday, July 31, 2016

Author:
Ruth Bloomfield Margolin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
102/26/20145/26/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
4013200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50100
Ruth B. Margolin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {QXZ} This is puzzle # 4 for Ms. Margolin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ruth B. Margolin notes:
I was first introduced to crossword puzzles in college when my friends and I would attempt to solve the NYTimes Sunday puzzle collaboratively, lingering over Sunday brunch in the dining ... read more

I was first introduced to crossword puzzles in college when my friends and I would attempt to solve the NYTimes Sunday puzzle collaboratively, lingering over Sunday brunch in the dining hall, procrastinating instead of studying.

A decade later, by then fully accustomed to spending my Sundays with the NYTimes, I had this great idea (IMHO) for an essay that would have been perfect (IMHO) for the "Hers" column that ran weekly on the very last page of the NYTimes Magazine. But I knew that being published in the Magazine was a ridiculous fantasy, so I didn't even write the essay, let alone submit it. Well, it turns out that this dream actually did come true — I just had a few of the details wrong. I had imagined the wrong genre, and I was off by one page! (I'm excited — can you tell?)

But I will KEEP IT TOGETHER.

As I composed this puzzle, I set certain constraints on myself. First, I absolutely wanted to keep FITBITS and NITWITS. I liked the way their pairs of ITs were so tight, they were fun words, and FITBITS hadn't been used yet. They did, however, force pairs of longer theme answers to be only one row apart, with the IT locked in a fixed location within the longer words.

Also, I didn't want IT ever to be "it", except in the reveal. So the shorter answers that crossed the long theme answers couldn't be, for example, GOTIT or ITSME. That ruled out a whole lot of options.

I hope that these touches added some elegance to the puzzle, and perhaps some fun to the solving process. I am certainly delighted to have spent a Sunday morning with you, and I hope that you have enjoyed the company!

Jeff Chen notes:
Ruth's Sunday debut! KEEP IT TOGETHER gives us a rationale for a rebus puzzle smashing I and T together, and the title, MAKE THAT A DOUBLE, tells us that each themer has two IT rebuses. ... read more

Ruth's Sunday debut! KEEP IT TOGETHER gives us a rationale for a rebus puzzle smashing I and T together, and the title, MAKE THAT A DOUBLE, tells us that each themer has two IT rebuses. Although there are a ton of phrases with two ITs in them, I thought Ruth did a great job selecting really strong ones. CREDIT OR DEBIT, INITIATION RITE, LITTLE WHITE LIE, PATERNITY SUIT, etc. — all of them sing, not a one falling flat.

It's pretty tough to work in more than seven longish themers into a Sunday puzzle, but Ruth manages to get in eight by working two in vertically. That threw me off at first, since it kind of muddled the fact that each themer has two ITs in it. It would have been great to run every one of the eight themers horizontally, which would have made the puzzle's consistency really shine. As it was, I got a little confused seeing some vertical answers like FITBITS and SECURITY DEPOSIT having two ITs, but others like LOITERER only having one. Easy to figure out the thematic consistency post-solve, but it would have been nice if it had popped immediately.

It took me a little thinking to make sense of the revealer and the title, but I like the dual nature of having one give a rationale of why it should be a rebus, and the other explaining why there are two rebuses in each themer. It did feel a little odd that KEEP IT TOGETHER didn't have two instances of IT, though. And it seems like MAKE IT A DOUBLE could have made an apt appearance somewhere in the puzzle itself. How cool would it have been if those two phrases crossed each other — at an IT rebus square!

Some really nice fill, kicking off the puzzle with ALLCAPS, ROOFTOP, LOWTECH, ARSENIC all in one corner. I wasn't hot on the cost of ATH, CFCS, ETES, NER, CENE, though. Thankfully, the rest of the puzzle was cleaner, and even included great stuff like COLD COCK and JOCULAR, TV HOSTS and BUST A GUT. Added a lot of sparkle to the solving experience.

And I hadn't realized some of the nice touches Ruth constrained herself to — upon second glance, it was pretty cool not to see any I-Ts as the word IT. Those little details are appreciated.

1
A
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C
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M
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J
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L
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O
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N
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A
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E
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G
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A
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K
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IT
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G
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T
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O
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S
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D
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T
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0731 ( 24,372 )
Across
1
What an urgent message may be in : ALLCAPS
8
Person in handcuffs, for short : PERP
12
The Fonz, for one : GREASER
19
Dish site, maybe : ROOFTOP
20
Leaf : FOLIO
21
Stuffed, in Mexican cuisine : RELLENO
22
Flip-flop : SWITCHPOSITIONS
24
Puts on : AFFECTS
25
Times for many Tours tours : ETES
26
Holds up : ROBS
27
Juniors : SONS
29
Mentalist Geller : URI
30
___ Tamid (synagogue lamp) : NER
31
Question asked at the cash register : CREDITORDEBIT
35
Match : AGREE
37
Drink with mint or lemon : ICETEA
39
Ed of "Up" : ASNER
40
See 46-Across : RECRUITER
42
Persistent : CHRONIC
44
It may require a password : WIFI
46
With 40-Across, visitor on high-school career day : ARMY
47
Spot for a shopping list : MEMOPAD
51
Collect : REAP
53
Some email attachments : PDFS
56
Travis who sang "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" : TRITT
59
Occasion to learn a secret handshake : INITIATIONRITE
63
Opposite of fast : EAT
64
Man of morals : AESOP
66
Blackening : TARRING
67
Tangle of hair : MAT
68
Spot for vaccinations, for short? : PSA
69
Chest organs : THYMUSES
71
Q neighbors : RST
72
Knock unconscious : COLDCOCK
74
Q neighbor : TAB
75
Apartment ad abbr. : RMS
76
Playful : JOCULAR
78
Q preceder, in song : SUSIE
79
Passing note? : OBIT
80
Fib : LITTLEWHITELIE
83
Romance writers' awards : RITAS
84
___ buco : OSSO
86
"Amazing Grace" verse ender : ISEE
87
Bush campaigns? : SAFARIS
89
Ho-hum response : YAWN
91
Pet cause, in brief : SPCA
94
French city known for its porcelain : LIMOGES
98
Laugh uproariously : BUSTAGUT
101
Powerhouse in women's b-ball : UCONN
105
"... or I quit!," e.g. : THREAT
106
Trophies for Tiger Woods and LeBron James : ESPYS
107
Way to get to know a father in law? : PATERNITYSUIT
110
Home of the N.C.A.A.'s Cyclones : ISU
111
King of Portugal : REI
112
Regarding : ASTO
113
Actor Bremner of "Black Hawk Down" : EWEN
114
One side of the Bosporus strait : ASIA
115
Lead-up to mating : ENDGAME
118
Stay cool ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme : KEEPITTOGETHER
123
It might land you in a trap : TEESHOT
124
Singer with an eponymous 1956 #1 album : ELVIS
125
Persona non grata : OUTCAST
126
Melodic passages : STRAINS
127
Fossey who was "in the mist" : DIAN
128
Ones who say "We'll be right back" : TVHOSTS
Down
1
What gets As in chemistry? : ARSENIC
2
Hardly electronic wizardry : LOWTECH
3
One who's outstanding? : LOITERER
4
Ozone destroyers, for short : CFCS
5
Phys ed dept. : ATH
6
Carbonated drink : POP
7
Reproduction unit : SPORE
8
Cause of Romeo's death : POISON
9
"Xanadu" group, for short : ELO
10
___ Tin Tin : RIN
11
Group surrounding a star : POSSE
12
Curling stone stone : GRANITE
13
Makes the calls : REFS
14
Keebler baker : ELF
15
Carbonated drink : ALE
16
Landlord's request : SECURITYDEPOSIT
17
Something with two sides? : ENTREE
18
More promising : ROSIER
20
Activity-tracking devices : FITBITS
23
Carbonated drink : SODA
28
Newswoman Soledad : OBRIEN
31
End of geologic time? : CENE
32
"The Evil Dead" director : RAIMI
33
"<<" button: Abbr. : REW
34
Wash'n ___ (towelette brand) : DRI
35
Flight board abbr. : ARR
36
Oscar-winning Hanks role : GUMP
38
Beat it : TOMTOM
41
What a star may denote : CAPITAL
43
Doesn't accept, say : CONTESTS
45
Throat problem : FROG
48
Hummus holders : PITAS
49
Cause of inflation? : AIR
50
Lawyer who defended Leopold and Loeb : DARROW
52
Relating to heraldry : ARMORIAL
54
Tissue surrounding a muscle : FASCIA
55
What's at risk : STAKES
56
Something hard to get off your chest? : TATTOO
57
Places to get clean : REHABS
58
Climber in a children's rhyme : ITSYBITSYSPIDER
60
N.Y.U.'s ___ School of the Arts : TISCH
61
Senses : INTUITS
62
Terminal info, for short : ETDS
65
It's a stitch : PURL
70
Striking down : SMITING
72
Baby whale : CALF
73
Arrow on a screen : CURSOR
76
Private transportation? : JEEP
77
Shepherd's place : LEA
81
Anne Rice antihero : LESTAT
82
"It was you," à la Verdi : ERITU
85
Like Cheerios : OATY
88
Paintball cry : IMHIT
90
"I wish I ___ [sic] homeward bound": Paul Simon : WAS
92
Signal : CUE
93
Horizontal: Abbr. : ACR
95
Kimono-clad hostesses : GEISHAS
96
Like Monday crosswords : EASIEST
97
English royal family : STUARTS
98
Hats for artistes : BERETS
99
Early online forum : USENET
100
Overturns : UPSETS
102
The first to go on a strike, usually : ONEPIN
103
Dummies : NITWITS
104
Duma dissent : NYET
108
Took a hit : TOKED
109
Hoity-toity sort : SNOOT
112
Patron god of ancient Thebes : AMON
114
Record label for Cream and Sonny & Cher : ATCO
116
Federal management org. : GSA
117
Tuna type : AHI
119
Giant Manning : ELI
120
Señora Perón : EVA
121
Statehouse resident, informally : GUV
122
Archaic verb ending : ETH

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

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