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MAKE THAT A DOUBLE

New York Times, Sunday, July 31, 2016

Author: Ruth Bloomfield Margolin
Editor: Will Shortz
Ruth B. Margolin
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
72/26/20148/20/20170
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2013100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.48100

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 hall, ... more
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 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. Although there are a ton of ... more
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. 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.

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A
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K
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0731 ( 24,372 )
Across Down
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
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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