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PERSON / PLACE / THING

New York Times, Sunday, July 8, 2018

Author:
Bruce Haight
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
471/3/20134/22/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
313139450
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59042
Bruce Haight

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 40 for Mr. Haight. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Bruce Haight notes:
I remember thinking about nouns being persons, places, or things, and wondering if I could find strings that would contain two-word phrases for all three. My first try with this theme was ... read more

I remember thinking about nouns being persons, places, or things, and wondering if I could find strings that would contain two-word phrases for all three. My first try with this theme was a weekday puzzle with four 16-letter themers. Will's team liked the theme but not the execution. For instance, they didn't like KitCarsonCityMap because Carson City was named for Kit Carson (hello!) and because the meaning of City did not change from the "place" to the "thing".

It took a lot of digging to find six themers given those constraints but the 21x sizing brought lots of new possibilities into play. The big hangup was finding two-word place names where both words were flexible.

The editor team nixed ALL LEGS initially, but they had a long discussion about it and decided it would be fine with the right clue. ONLY TOO was another borderline acceptable entry that required careful cluing.

I wanted to get some long down action into this puzzle, but the 110 letters of theme material made that difficult to pull off cleanly. I imagine this puzzle will play a little easier than the average Sunday puzzle, which would be fine with me since I'm a lousy solver. DOGNAP was my favorite entry to clue — I think "Grab some chow?" is even better than the one we used, but it had been used before.

Jeff Chen notes:
I've seen many a 'word chain' theme, i.e., linked phrases like (word game) + (game bird) + (bird food) + (food chain) = WORD CHAIN, usually presented all smashed together like WORD GAME ... read more

I've seen many a "word chain" theme, i.e., linked phrases like (word game) + (game bird) + (bird food) + (food chain) = WORD CHAIN, usually presented all smashed together like WORD GAME BIRD FOOD CHAIN. Important to do something a little different if you dip into this tried and true well. I liked Bruce's extra layer, using PERSON PLACE or THING to describe the three elements composing each smash-up.

Not hard to find theme examples, as you just need:

  1. a person with a last name that can be an adjective,
  2. a two-word place, with its second word also able to double as an adjective.

THING is awfully broad, so that can be just about anything.

Not much of an a-ha moment, as the title gave away the game much too easily. I was thinking that PERSON PLACE OR THING would have been a great revealer in the puzzle … except that this theme is more accurately PERSON, PLACE AND THING. Which makes it seem inapt. So that tripped me up.

I know, I tend to overthink things way too much. But if Bruce had ditched PERSON / PLACE / THING and instead riffed on some other X, Y AND Z revealer, that would have given me a sharper a-ha.

Not many bonuses in the grid, but not much crossword glue, either. Impressive that I couldn't pick out any real flaw, just maybe a RES. That's amazing for a Sunday 140-word puzzle!

But I would have preferred more WHATNOT and ABSOLUT kind of colorful material — having a handful of crossword glue would have been worth it. As much as I detest inelegant gloop, I do want *some* sparkle out of a Sunday grid, especially for those solvers who don't quite vibe with the theme.

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M
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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0708 ( 25,079 )
Across
1
Beguiled : LEDON
6
Carnival performer : GEEK
10
Heavy hit : WHUMP
15
Popular self-help website : EHOW
19
Make a good point? : SCORE
20
"Three Sisters" sister : OLGA
21
"The Gold-Bug" author, for short : EAPOE
22
Princess with superpowers : XENA
23
Singer / City / Home feature : ALGREENBAYWINDOW
26
"Safe!," in baseball, or "Safety!," in football : CALL
27
Beachgoer's souvenir : TAN
28
Leg press target, informally : QUAD
29
Third-most abundant gas in the atmosphere : ARGON
30
Emerald or aquamarine : BERYL
31
"Don't move!" : STAYPUT
34
Dog tag? : FIDO
35
Finished behind : LOSTTO
36
Socialite / Resort / Store : PARISHILTONHEADSHOP
41
"Keystone" character of old comedy : KOP
42
Sacred symbol of ancient Egypt : IBIS
43
Word after who, what, when, where, why or how : ELSE
44
Message in a bottle, maybe : SOS
45
Roman orator : CATO
48
Gangster tracker : GMAN
49
How a gangly person might be described : ALLLEGS
52
Political commentator / Geographical area / Fitness routine : OLIVERNORTHPOLEDANCE
58
World Cup cheer : OLE
59
Lots : REAMS
60
Show extreme instability : YOYO
61
Alpo alternative : IAMS
63
NPR's "Planet Money" or "How I Built This" : PODCAST
65
Ceiling : CAP
66
Related stuff : WHATNOT
69
Texter's sign-off : TTYL
70
"Shoo!" : SCAT
72
Cheer with beer : SKOAL
74
___-Magnon man : CRO
75
Actor / Transportation hub / Part of a broadcast : SEANPENNSTATIONBREAK
81
Holy terror : WILDONE
82
Unwitting accomplice : TOOL
83
Suisse peak : ALPE
84
"Young Sheldon" airer : CBS
87
Scott of "Charles in Charge" : BAIO
88
"With ___ ring ..." : THIS
89
Way cool : RAD
91
Comedian / State capital / Record store section : RICHLITTLEROCKMUSIC
97
"It's a deal!" : AGREED
98
Some singles : EXES
99
Big name in vodka : ABSOLUT
102
Blockage reliever : STENT
103
"Roger that" : CHECK
105
Upscale hotel chain : OMNI
107
Father of octuplets on "The Simpsons" : APU
108
Haunted house sound : HOWL
109
Actress / Mideast area / Crime : MAEWESTBANKHEIST
113
1960s "It Girl" Sedgwick : EDIE
114
Longtime "Inside the N.B.A." analyst : ONEAL
115
Primary concern : VOTE
116
"Speed-the-Plow" playwright : MAMET
117
RCA competitor : SONY
118
Some sports prizes : ESPYS
119
Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter books, e.g. : SEER
120
"Is this really necessary?" : MUSTI
Down
1
What some Kaplan guides help prep for : LSATS
2
Dash : ECLAT
3
Take a few pointers? : DOGNAP
4
Three-time N.H.L. M.V.P. : ORR
5
Once named : NEE
6
Get crazy : GONUTS
7
English actor Idris : ELBA
8
"Holy moly!" : EGAD
9
___ Graham, Meryl Streep's role in 2017's "The Post" : KAY
10
Crackpot : WEIRDO
11
"Wait just a sec" : HANGON
12
Many a pageant coif : UPDO
13
Titan, Triton or Titania : MOON
14
Seat at many a wedding : PEW
15
"Nothing succeeds like ___": Oscar Wilde : EXCESS
16
Warm, cozy spots : HEARTHS
17
Quite, despite expectations : ONLYTOO
18
Clobbers : WALLOPS
24
Plenish : EQUIP
25
Theme park annoyances : WAITS
30
Barrio grocery : BODEGA
32
___ Perelman, classic Russian science writer : YAKOV
33
For : PRO
34
Lighter igniter : FLINT
35
Zapped, in a way : LASED
37
Words mouthed on a Jumbotron : HIMOM
38
Some girders : IBARS
39
"That's pretty obvious!" : HELLO
40
Fashion monthly : ELLE
45
Take over : COOPT
46
Divvies up : ALLOTS
47
1960s Haight-Ashbury wear : TIEDYE
48
Summer swarmer : GNAT
49
Per unit : APOP
50
Myrna of "Love Crazy" : LOY
51
Lather : SNIT
53
Obama ___ : ERA
54
Hi or lo follower : RES
55
Upscale hotel chain : HYATT
56
Undo : CANCEL
57
Hip-hop subgenre : EMORAP
62
Add fuel to : STOKE
64
Part of a crane : CLAW
65
Try this! : CASE
66
What's got ewe covered? : WOOL
67
Flying Solo : HAN
68
Clerical wear : ALB
70
Condescending sort : SNOOT
71
"The Situation Room" airer : CNN
72
Unflappable : STOIC
73
Stand-alone business? : KIOSK
76
Kernel : NIBLET
77
Like many a kilt : PLAID
78
Computer menu option : EDIT
79
Dumas dueler : ATHOS
80
Contact, in a way : RADIO
84
Hits the hay : CRASHES
85
Major fuss : BIGTODO
86
Like most light bulbs : SCREWIN
88
Difficult journeys : TREKS
89
Cubist of note? : RUBIK
90
Twit : ASS
92
Regatta site since 1839 : HENLEY
93
Slack : LEEWAY
94
Shines : EXCELS
95
Fashion : MANNER
96
Insurance filings : CLAIMS
100
Ticked off : UPSET
101
All together, in scores : TUTTI
103
Food drive collection : CANS
104
Uriah of "David Copperfield" : HEEP
105
High wind : OBOE
106
Half of a pair : MATE
109
"The Godfather" mobster who was shot in the eye : MOE
110
Staples of waiting rooms : TVS
111
"I'm thinking ..." : HMM
112
___ de vie : EAU

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later.

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