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PERSON / PLACE / THING

New York Times, Sunday, July 8, 2018

Author: Bruce Haight
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.58032
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 a weekday puzzle with ... more
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 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 BIRD FOOD CHAIN. Important ... more
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 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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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0708 ( 25,079 )
Across Down
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
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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