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SITTIN' SOLVE

New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 2014

Author:
Caleb Madison
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
345/13/20086/8/20183
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
9154555
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
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, ... read more

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 ... read more

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). ... read more

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
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
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Like very few newspapers these days : EVENING
80
To be, in Tijuana : SER
81
"Are you done?" : ISTHATALL
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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
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French nobleman : COMTE
110
California's Santa ___ Mountains : YNEZ
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Album with the 1978 hit "Deacon Blues" : AJA
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Hot spring? : OASIS
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Accouterment popularized by a "Seinfeld" episode : MANPURSE
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Usin' less stickum? : CUTTINPASTE
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Tap choice : ALE
120
Put in a bibliography : CITE
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___ socks : KNEE
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Madcap : NUTTY
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"Gangnam Style" stylist : PSY
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Shipbuilder's starting point : KEEL
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Oracle : SEER
126
Certain recess : APSE
Down
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
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Hubbub : ADO
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Make a note of? : SING
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Sweater material : ANGORA
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Medium for many selfies : SNAPCHAT
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"I'm speechless" : WOW
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You can count on them : ABACI
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Makin' some big purchases? : BUYINLARGE
13
2002 Dennis Quaid film about a struggling minor-league pitcher : THEROOKIE
14
Places for briefs? : LEGALPADS
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Big cheese : CEO
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Steep : PRICY
20
Unconvincing : WEAK
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Cyrano de Bergerac, famously : WOOER
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Certain charge : WARD
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Party entertainers, for short : DJS
27
Breaks down : ROTS
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Dieter's label : NOFAT
31
This, in Tijuana : ESTO
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Singer with the 2009 hit "Tik Tok" : KESHA
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Track listings? : LANES
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Hopin' favor is bestowed? : WILLINGRACE
40
Moralist's comment : ITSASIN
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Vets : OLDPROS
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Panetta's successor as defense secretary : HAGEL
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Hitch : SNAG
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Juin honoree : PERE
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Deeply impressed : AWED
49
Logan of "60 Minutes" : LARA
51
Jumping-off point? : LEDGE
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Dealbreaker? : NARC
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Wrecks : DERAILS
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Engineering topic : ROBOTRY
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Popular six-second clips since 2013 : VINES
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Much of the Guggenheim's collection : OILS
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Big goof : BONER
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W.W. II transports: Abbr. : LSTS
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Old "There's no step 3!" sloganeer : IMAC
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River through two world capitals : NILE
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Hardens : GELS
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Bitin' a friend of Robin Hood? : NIPPINTUCK
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Carryin' a load of grain? : HAULINOATS
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Title film locale in Springwood, Oh. : ELMST
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Stats for basketball players : VERTICALS
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"Get rich quick" promise : EASYMONEY
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Clark ___, "The Avengers" actor : GREGG
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Egypt's Mubarak : HOSNI
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Coral reef lurker : MORAYEEL
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___ Zimmer, Oscar-winning composer for "The Lion King" : HANS
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Pest : PAIN
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What you might use to put on a happy face? : EMOJI
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Not step so lively : LIMP
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Some sweaters : VNECKS
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"Lemme!" : IWANNA
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Like barbecue sauce : ZESTY
102
Nobelist Wiesel : ELIE
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Loop loopers : ELS
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Eagle's perch : AERIE
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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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