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THE MAGIC SHOW

New York Times, Sunday, August 13, 2017

Author: Eric Berlin
Editor: Will Shortz
Eric Berlin
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396/23/20028/13/20172
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1.52261

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 72 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 39 for Mr. Berlin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: Great concept, literalizing magic tricks. Some solvers might not totally get what's going on, so we've fixed up a few things in the grid (see below). In particular, there's a LEVITATING MAN in the upper right. ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Great concept, literalizing magic tricks. Some solvers might not totally get what's going on, so we've fixed up a few things in the grid (see below). In particular, there's a LEVITATING MAN in the upper right. There's also a single rebus square — the RING of LINKING RINGS.

And the two that took me forever to grok: 1.) the PEACE DUCK of Chinese cuisine? Aha, that's wordplay around the CHANGING CARD TRICK, the KING of PE(KING) magically transformed into the ACE of PE(ACE). And 2.) the SURE I thought had to be INSURE … Nope! (COIN)SURE with its VANISHING COIN.

Nice to have so much variety in the "acts."

Not being a magician, I wondered if all the "acts" were in the language? Surely SAWING A WOMAN IN HALF is, but LADY felt like a compromise so that the phrase would fit in the middle of a 21x21 puzzle. Stupid crossword gods, why couldn't SAWING A WOMAN IN HALF be an odd number of letters!

The VANISHING COIN, yes! CHANGING CARD … this is apparently what magicians call the trick, but it sounded odd to this muggle.

LINKING RINGS … this one confused me. I thought the stereotypical trick was to link separate rings so they form a chain? Perhaps this one, squishing RINGs into a tiny square, is something different?

For those non-magic fans, good bonuses in SVENGALI, GRAY AREA, OLE MISS, TAFFETA, CHARISMA with an apt anagram in IS A CHARM. Even GLYPH is an interesting word.

There was too much crossword glue for my taste, though. ERGOT, INFRA, LTS, EERO / AMER / DRYS, DYS, ARD, ANTH, NOT BE, etc. There is so much going on in the grid — six tricks and six literalizations of those tricks — that I'd have preferred one fewer trick with a cleaner grid, or using more than 140 words, which would have helped break up some of those big chunks of white space.

Nice idea, though not as elegant as I like a magic show to be.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0813 ( 24,750 )
Across Down
1. Bit of a Bollywood soundtrack : RAGA
5. Hawaiian giveaway : LEI
8. Home of van Gogh's "The Starry Night," informally : MOMA
12. Walgreens competitor : RITEAID
19. Greek warrior of myth : AJAX
20. Person from Calgary or Edmonton : ALBERTAN
22. Source of material for a baseball bat : ASHTREE
23. Magic trick performed at 78-Down : VANISHINGCOIN
25. Company accountant's responsibility : PAYROLL
26. Concern for wheat farmers : ERGOT
27. Nickname for an Oxford university : OLEMISS
29. Puzzle-loving group : MENSA
30. Sugar found in beer : MALTOSE
34. Mouselike rodents : VOLES
36. Sometimes-stinky pair : GYMSHOES
39. Adds to : AUGMENTS
43. Agcy. that cares what airs : FCC
46. Mauna ___ : LOA
47. Magic trick performed at 119-Across and 104-Down : LINKINGRINGS
49. Burden for Jack and Jill : PAIL
50. Female org. since the 1850s : YWCA
52. Lee of Marvel Comics : STAN
53. Pals around (with) : HANGS
54. Coca-Cola brand : FANTA
55. ___ duck (Chinese entree) : PEKING
57. "Carmina Burana" composer Carl : ORFF
59. Grant-making org. : NEA
60. Like most doors : HINGED
61. Followed closely, as a set of rules : HEWEDTO
63. Zest source : RIND
65. Feudal vassal : LIEGE
67. Magic trick performed at 123- and 124-Across : SAWINGALADYINHALF
71. Word repeated before "everywhere" : WATER
72. Online "Very funny!" : LMAO
73. Basic gymnastics flips : AERIALS
76. Comic Aziz of "Master of None" : ANSARI
79. "Is that true about me?" : AMI
81. Movies with big budgets and no audience : DUDS
83. At the proper moment : ONCUE
84. Simple percussion instrument : GOURD
85. Greenish-blue hues : CYANS
87. Musical based on Fellini's "8 1/2" : NINE
89. Ready to take part : GAME
90. Escape maker : FORD
91. Magic trick performed at 55-Across : CHANGINGCARD
94. Blue, on some maps: Abbr. : DEM
95. Onetime White House nickname : ABE
96. Apt anagram of IS A CHARM : CHARISMA
97. Eight-line poems : TRIOLETS
99. Hullabaloo : NOISE
100. Four-string instrument : UKULELE
102. Kind of jar : MASON
105. Crisp fabric : TAFFETA
109. Tequila source : AGAVE
113. "Whenever you want" : ANYTIME
115. Magic trick performed at 15-, 16- and 17-Down : LEVITATINGMAN
119. Skinny sort : STRINGBEAN
120. Hydrogen has one : ELECTRON
121. Architect Saarinen : EERO
122. Swiss and others : CHEESES
123. First name in jazz : ELLA
124. Bad: Prefix : DYS
125. Prohibitionists : DRYS
1. Go gaga : RAVE
2. Not quite closed : AJAR
3. Bunch of friends : GANG
4. Truisms : AXIOMS
5. ___-di-dah : LAH
6. QB Manning : ELI
7. Arabic for "son of" : IBN
8. Advertising icon who wears a single earring : MRCLEAN
9. Missouri River native : OTOE
10. Hurt badly : MAIM
11. Latin years : ANNI
12. Output of N.W.A or DMX : RAPSONGS
13. "This ___ test" : ISA
14. Herbs related to mints : THYMES
15. English lengths : METRES
16. Baseball's Hank : AARON
17. Physicist Bohr : NIELS
18. Crème ___ crème : DELA
21. They can be inflated or shattered : EGOS
24. Lesley of "60 Minutes" : STAHL
28. Manipulative type : SVENGALI
31. Lane in Metropolis : LOIS
32. 12:50 : TENTOONE
33. Schindler of "Schindler's List" : OSKAR
35. Officers below capts. : LTS
36. Relief carving : GLYPH
37. Shout of pain : YOWEE
38. Talkative birds : MACAWS
40. "Yuk!" : UGH
41. Relative of pop? : GRANDDAD
42. Place from which to withdraw deposits : MINE
43. Long tooth : FANG
44. Give as an example : CITE
45. Wearing, with "in" : CLAD
48. Prefix with structure : INFRA
49. Décor of many dens : PANELING
51. Onetime honor for cable TV shows : ACEAWARD
54. Mozart title character : FIGARO
56. Part of P.E.I. : EDWARD
58. Some dental work : FILLINGS
60. Titter : HEHE
62. South American monkey : TITI
64. Old war zone, briefly : NAM
66. Tangled up : INASNARL
68. Ill-defined situation : GRAYAREA
69. Offspring : YOUNG
70. Front : FACADE
74. Director of 1957's "12 Angry Men" : LUMET
75. Looks like : SEEMS
76. Name on some boxes of film : AGFA
77. Neophyte, informally : NOOB
78. Provide part of a coverage policy for : COINSURE
80. ___-pedi : MANI
82. "Mirabile ___!" ("Wonderful to state!") : DICTU
85. Reproves : CHASTENS
86. Dweller in a virtual "City" : SIM
88. Great Lakes city : ERIE
91. Greek X : CHI
92. J.Crew competitor : NAUTICA
93. New York archbishop Timothy : DOLAN
96. Furs from rabbits : CONIES
98. Got a move on, with "it" : LEGGED
99. "I would ___ surprised" : NOTBE
101. Stand-up comic Williams : KATT
102. Like the Spanish nouns "gato" (cat) and "perro" (dog): Abbr. : MASC
103. Literary collection: Abbr. : ANTH
104. Vaccine holder : SYRINGE
106. Run away : FLEE
107. Tumbled : FELL
108. Stuntman Knievel : EVEL
110. The New World: Abbr. : AMER
111. Be inconsistent : VARY
112. Book of Mormon book : ENOS
114. Fannie or Ginnie follower : MAE
116. Suffix with dull : ARD
117. Small dog : TOY
118. Entrances : INS

Answer summary: 6 unique to this puzzle, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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