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SITTIN' SOLVE

New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 2014

Author: Caleb Madison
Editor: Will Shortz
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1.63132
Caleb Madison

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 76 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 30 for Mr. Madison. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Caleb Madison notes: This is my first Times puzzle in a while. Since my stuff tends to skew more edgy I send a lot of my 15xs to the American Values Club Crossword. But whenever I think of a savory theme, especially a Sunday, I ... more
Caleb Madison notes: This is my first Times puzzle in a while. Since my stuff tends to skew more edgy I send a lot of my 15xs to the American Values Club Crossword. But whenever I think of a savory theme, especially a Sunday, I get so excited to develop it for the Gray Lady.

No matter the publication, I love squeezing some of my world into the puzzle, and I know Will appreciates it too. His clue for 61-Across — one of the answers I was excited to work in — is phenomenal: [50 Cent piece] for RAP VIDEO. Completely justifies changing my original clue, "Spitting images?", which I was proud of but is probably to esoteric for the Times readership. MAN PURSE and SNAPCHAT were two others I was excited to slip in the Times. The theme has been a long time coming. I developed it with my two best friends on our Eurotrip the summer between High School and College, and it was sparked by my still-passionate obsession with the greatest duo in history phonetically hinted by 75-Across. If you disagree, I dare you to listen to the entirety of "Abandoned Luncheonette" without feeling some real feels.

The NYT crossword has been a benchmark throughout my evolution. I interned with Will and published my first puzzle during the summer of 2008. This summer, I'm headed into my senior year of college. I spent the summer in Forks, Washington on a fellowship. I lived in an RV with the head of Team Forks, the last surviving "Twilight" tour company, taking pictures and interviewing people in the town. Here are the pictures. I know wherever I am in 7 more years, I'll still be solving and constructing.

Will Shortz notes: At one time Caleb was the youngest crossword constructor I had published in the Times — just 15 years 3 months old when he made his debut in 2008. When 14-year-old Ben Pall came along and debuted in 2009, ... more
Will Shortz notes: At one time Caleb was the youngest crossword constructor I had published in the Times — just 15 years 3 months old when he made his debut in 2008. When 14-year-old Ben Pall came along and debuted in 2009, beating Caleb's record, Caleb shook his fist in indignation and screamed "No-o-o-o!!" Or so he told me. Anyway, I replied that Caleb will now have to live to be the oldest New York Times crossword constructor in order to hold an age record again. This past Monday, Bernice Gordon set a new "oldest" record of 100 years 7 months, so Caleb (or anyone else) has a real challenge.

As for the puzzle, Caleb, in his typical way, packed the grid with lots of modern culture like CIARA, KESHA, SASHA (Fierce), EMOJI, VINES, ZUNE, a character from "Inglorious Basterds," a quote from "Anchorman" (the last two of which I removed), and one or two "young" references I didn't even understand myself.

I do think there's a place in the Times for a puzzle like this that skews young — just as there's a place for puzzles that skew old. Over time I hope things balance out.

Jeff Chen notes: Fun concept, X AND Y phrases given a phonetic twist to form kooky X'IN Y results. Some great themers in this one, WRITIN' WRONG easily my favorite (as it explains all my typoes). Amazing amount of interlock ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Fun concept, X AND Y phrases given a phonetic twist to form kooky X'IN Y results. Some great themers in this one, WRITIN' WRONG easily my favorite (as it explains all my typoes).

Amazing amount of interlock today. I highlighted the theme answers to demonstrate. Yes, most of them are pretty easy to cross since every theme answer includes "IN," but check out how he's crossed THREE theme entries apiece in the NW and SE. Not only is it hard to figure out how to cross all those answers, but it makes filling much more challenging due to the high number of fixed constraints.

Caleb does well to add a big block of cheater squares in the NW and SE to help compensate for the filling difficulties. The SE comes out amazingly clean for a section that by all rights should require more glue. The NW is pretty good too, although seeing PHILO / WOOER / ROTI all in one region is not optimal. It's beautiful work overall.

Will brings up an interesting point. I had a tough time with this puzzle due to the heavy focus on up-to-date references for which I'm far outside the target audience. I did know MAN PURSE and SNAPCHAT, two great answers. And while I love learning one or two new nuggets (VINES, who knew?) and am good with three or four, more than that feels like drinking from a fire hose. I'd personally prefer these freshies to be spread out over multiple puzzles so that each one has more of a mass audience appeal. I can appreciate Will's general philosophy of wanting the puzzle constructor's personality to come through, though.

My out-of-touch-with-recent-pop-culture tendencies aside, it's a great piece of work. Ultra-high theme density (12!) achieved by high interlock, with both snazzy and clean fill.

P.S. It's not a purse! It's EUROPEAN!

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0817 ( 23,658 )
Across Down
1. Word after say or now : WHAT
5. Initiator of a probe, maybe : NASA
9. Mop : SWAB
13. Something five-star hotels provide, informally : TLC
16. Detective Vance : PHILO
17. Mythological deity with two ravens : ODIN
18. Celebrity chef Matsuhisa : NOBU
19. Part of a titter : HEE
20. Spellin' things incorrectly? : WRITINWRONG
22. Departing words : AWAYWEGO
24. Leonardo da Vinci, religiously : DEIST
25. Platform for many apps : IOS
26. Nosh on the trail : GORP
28. R&B singer with the 2004 #1 hit "Goodies" : CIARA
29. Stealin' a hard drug? : JACKINCOKE
32. Pushin' some bread back and forth? : ROCKINROLL
35. Domain of Jupiter : SKY
36. Beak : NOSE
37. Enwrap : SWATHE
39. Parkinson's treatment : LDOPA
40. Global finance org. : IMF
41. ___ de boeuf : ROTI
43. ___ Fierce (Beyoncé alter ego) : SASHA
45. Its official song is "Home on the Range": Abbr. : KAN
46. Like some relations : SPATIAL
50. Lie around : LOLL
52. Where she blows? : THAR
53. Suffix with glycer- : IDE
54. Paper pusher? : NEWSSTAND
56. Was a bellwether : LED
58. Strike first : AGGRESS
60. Disciplines : AREAS
61. 50 Cent piece : RAPVIDEO
64. Fair-hiring inits. : EEO
65. H.S. dropouts' documents : GEDS
66. Not allowin' anyone to cook burgers and franks? : BARRINGRILL
68. Google alternative : BING
72. Mortal queen of Thebes who was transfigured into a goddess : INO
74. Hardens : CONGEALS
75. Brother, in slang : HOMIE
76. Like very few newspapers these days : EVENING
80. To be, in Tijuana : SER
81. "Are you done?" : ISTHATALL
83. Place for lambs to frolic : LEA
84. Wavy do : PERM
86. Comedic Mort : SAHL
88. Bibliography listings : SOURCES
89. Union formation? : MRS
90. Hospital status, informally : PREOP
92. Each episode of "Law & Order," say : CASE
94. Roguish : SLY
95. Tablet marking options : STYLI
97. Deeply impressed : GRAVEN
99. ___ Cooper : MINI
101. 1/4 of zero? : ZEE
104. Recheckin' with a stopwatch? : TIMINAGAIN
106. Demonstratin' how to shoot an apple off someone's head? : SHOWINTELL
109. French nobleman : COMTE
110. California's Santa ___ Mountains : YNEZ
112. Album with the 1978 hit "Deacon Blues" : AJA
113. Hot spring? : OASIS
114. Accouterment popularized by a "Seinfeld" episode : MANPURSE
116. Usin' less stickum? : CUTTINPASTE
119. Tap choice : ALE
120. Put in a bibliography : CITE
121. ___ socks : KNEE
122. Madcap : NUTTY
123. "Gangnam Style" stylist : PSY
124. Shipbuilder's starting point : KEEL
125. Oracle : SEER
126. Certain recess : APSE
1. Egg beater : WHISK
2. Givin' a female casino patron another card? : HITTINMISS
3. Iraq's Imam ___ Air Base : ALI
4. Old-timey medicines : TONICS
5. Scandinavian language, to its speakers : NORSK
6. Hubbub : ADO
7. Make a note of? : SING
8. Sweater material : ANGORA
9. Medium for many selfies : SNAPCHAT
10. "I'm speechless" : WOW
11. You can count on them : ABACI
12. Makin' some big purchases? : BUYINLARGE
13. 2002 Dennis Quaid film about a struggling minor-league pitcher : THEROOKIE
14. Places for briefs? : LEGALPADS
15. Big cheese : CEO
16. Steep : PRICY
20. Unconvincing : WEAK
21. Cyrano de Bergerac, famously : WOOER
23. Certain charge : WARD
24. Party entertainers, for short : DJS
27. Breaks down : ROTS
30. Dieter's label : NOFAT
31. This, in Tijuana : ESTO
33. Singer with the 2009 hit "Tik Tok" : KESHA
34. Track listings? : LANES
38. Hopin' favor is bestowed? : WILLINGRACE
40. Moralist's comment : ITSASIN
42. Vets : OLDPROS
44. Panetta's successor as defense secretary : HAGEL
46. Hitch : SNAG
47. Juin honoree : PERE
48. Deeply impressed : AWED
49. Logan of "60 Minutes" : LARA
51. Jumping-off point? : LEDGE
55. Dealbreaker? : NARC
57. Wrecks : DERAILS
59. Engineering topic : ROBOTRY
62. Popular six-second clips since 2013 : VINES
63. Much of the Guggenheim's collection : OILS
66. Big goof : BONER
67. W.W. II transports: Abbr. : LSTS
69. Old "There's no step 3!" sloganeer : IMAC
70. River through two world capitals : NILE
71. Hardens : GELS
73. Bitin' a friend of Robin Hood? : NIPPINTUCK
75. Carryin' a load of grain? : HAULINOATS
76. Title film locale in Springwood, Oh. : ELMST
77. Stats for basketball players : VERTICALS
78. "Get rich quick" promise : EASYMONEY
79. Clark ___, "The Avengers" actor : GREGG
82. Egypt's Mubarak : HOSNI
85. Coral reef lurker : MORAYEEL
87. ___ Zimmer, Oscar-winning composer for "The Lion King" : HANS
91. Pest : PAIN
93. What you might use to put on a happy face? : EMOJI
96. Not step so lively : LIMP
98. Some sweaters : VNECKS
100. "Lemme!" : IWANNA
101. Like barbecue sauce : ZESTY
102. Nobelist Wiesel : ELIE
103. Loop loopers : ELS
105. Eagle's perch : AERIE
107. Hardly a yes man : HATER
108. Sample : TASTE
111. Microsoft portable media player : ZUNE
114. Plan (out) : MAP
115. Sault ___ Marie : STE
117. Shorts top? : TEE
118. Little chow, say : PUP

Answer summary: 15 unique to this puzzle, 5 debuted here and reused later.

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