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REVOLUTIONARY

New York Times, Sunday, August 18, 2019

Author:
David Steinberg
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
976/16/201110/30/201918
SunMonTueWedThuFriSatVariety
76691132242
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.645173
David Steinberg

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 96 for Mr. Steinberg. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Will Shortz notes:
David Steinberg sold his first crossword to The Times in 2011, when he was 14 and just finishing the eighth grade. A prolific contributor since then, he has had 94 crosswords in the paper ... read more

David Steinberg sold his first crossword to The Times in 2011, when he was 14 and just finishing the eighth grade. A prolific contributor since then, he has had 94 crosswords in the paper altogether.

A 2019 graduate of Stanford University, studying psychology and computer science, David recently moved to Kansas City, Mo., to edit crosswords for Andrews McMeel Universal syndicate.

David Steinberg notes:
As is the case with a surprising number of my puzzle ideas, this one came to me during finals week. I had a 15-page term paper due two days later, which made the opportunity to ... read more

As is the case with a surprising number of my puzzle ideas, this one came to me during finals week. I had a 15-page term paper due two days later, which made the opportunity to "procrastistruct" a 21x21 more appealing than ever before!

My first challenge was coming up with a symmetric, lively theme set. I made a point of avoiding theme entries with extraneous ball strings, such as CLASSICAL BALLET for the LBAL slot. The theme set I almost used had WELL-BALANCED DIET paired with FALLBACK POSITION. Both of these entries seemed a little dry and perhaps more in-the-language as just balanced diet and fallback, respectively. After coming up with the four main theme entries, I threw in GOES FOR A SPIN and TURN TURN TURN to ensure that there would be enough theme material.

For 21x21s, I'm the kind of constructor who prefers 142- or 144-word grids with silky-smooth fill to 140-word grids with more pizzazz but also more trade-offs. In this grid, I attempted to balance the two philosophies by keeping the individual sections relatively closed off. As per usual with my grids nowadays, I made a point of avoiding trivia and spreading the cultural references I did use across generations.

I wrote a good chunk of the clues on the plane ride home from this year's ACPT. A couple of my favorites are [Producer of brown eggs] for CADBURY and [Garden item that sounds like the plural of another garden item] for HOSE. I also included two shoutouts to my new home, Kansas City: [Burnt barbecue bits] for ENDS and [Royals' org.] for MLB.

Hope you enjoy!

Jeff Chen notes:
The mighty orb, fit for a king or queen with its regal aura. What Atlas held high! The onus of Sisyphus! Lo, the lunar rotundity! I'm apparently obsessed with balls. It's rare for a ... read more

The mighty orb, fit for a king or queen with its regal aura. What Atlas held high! The onus of Sisyphus! Lo, the lunar rotundity!

I'm apparently obsessed with balls.

It's rare for a Sunday puzzle to hold my attention all the way through. This one did. The theme wasn't stellar, but there were enough visuals – the four spheres in thin outlines, and the giant one quasi-outlined by black squares – to pique my interest.

David did a standout grid job, giving us quality fill, packed with a huge quantity of bonuses. It's almost impossible to execute on a Sunday 140-word puzzle without some ENS ESSE FHA NCO OBI RTE USS, but note how minor and ignorable most of those things are. I doubt most solvers would even remember encountering them.

And the bonuses – these are just my top ten (!):

  1. APPARATED (sorry, Muggles – this is HP's equivalent of teleporting)
  2. TASMANIA
  3. POTLATCH
  4. QUANTICO
  5. BRAVADO
  6. DEFCON
  7. KAZOOS
  8. CAT TOYS
  9. KIRSCH
  10. REGIFTS

Okay, I have to mention one more. How brilliant is [It charges to do some cleaning]? Everyone charges to do some cleaning, even my enterprising four-year-old. But wait — "charges," as in plugs in to the wall! Delightful.

Creating a magical Sunday grid isn't magic. It's a matter of not trying to do anything lower than 140 words, being careful about spreading out your themers, and then spending dozens of hours testing, resetting, repeating, exploring nearly every branch of your decision tree. Once you get to David's level of experience, it comes much faster, but I imagine this one still took an eternity.

The themers felt more like they were worming – right, down, left, down – more than rolling, but what can you do. When you have little features like having the first themer be GET THE BALL ROLLING, it's easy to brush away the quibbles.

Jim Horne notes:

The four BALLs rotate 90 degrees through each iteration. Nice touch.

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© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0818 ( 25,485 )
Across
1
Passes along, as a present : REGIFTS
8
What 13-Down means in poker : ICHECK
14
Book in a mosque : QURAN
19
Antarctic mass : ICESHEET
21
Major British tabloid : THESUN
22
Yogurt container words : USEBY
23
Celebratory Native American feast : POTLATCH
24
Drives around awhile ... as suggested by this puzzle's circled squares? : GOESFORASPIN
26
If's counterpart, in programming : ELSE
27
"S.N.L." alum Cheri : OTERI
29
Military alert system : DEFCON
30
Sow's home : STY
31
Small criticism : NIT
32
Baa-dly needing a haircut? : UNSHORN
34
"Today" co-host Hoda : KOTB
36
Challenges for infielders : HOPS
38
"De-e-e-eluxe!" : OOLALA
41
Cherry brandy : KIRSCH
45
Certain rideshares : UBERS
47
Deposit box? : ATM
48
Morning hour : TENAM
51
Many a Stan Lee film role : CAMEO
52
Capital NE of Casablanca : RABAT
53
Idris of "The Dark Tower" : ELBA
55
Ones or tens place : TILL
56
0 0 0 : OVALS
57
Wafer brand : NILLA
58
Hockey shot sound : SLAP
59
Shots in the dark : STABS
61
Beginning of the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet : ABLE
62
Camera type, for short : SLR
63
Very funny person : RIOT
65
Extremely cold : POLAR
67
River through Pakistan : INDUS
69
Sea creatures that may employ camouflage when hunting : OCTOPI
71
Blood type system : ABO
72
Ones generating buzz in the music world? : KAZOOS
74
Play at full volume : BLAST
75
Super ___ (game series) : MARIO
77
Help with a job : ABET
78
Wrath : IRE
81
Eco-friendly car introduced in 2011 : VOLT
82
Something the nose knows : AROMA
84
___ Pictures : SONY
86
First name on the Supreme Court : SONIA
88
Quits a program : EXITS
90
Dennis the Menace, e.g. : BRAT
91
Burnt barbecue bits : ENDS
92
Shooting stars, some think : OMENS
93
Kind of salami : GENOA
94
Pool components : GENES
96
Type units : ENS
97
Like going all in, maybe : RISKY
98
Diamond pattern : ARGYLE
100
Slowly, musically : ADAGIO
102
Some are liberal : ARTS
103
Meyers of late-night : SETH
105
Producer of brown eggs : CADBURY
107
Black ___ : OPS
110
Arborist's tool : SAW
113
Laid, as a claim : STAKED
117
"Spider-Man" director : RAIMI
118
Hit hard : SWAT
119
1965 #1 Byrds hit ... as suggested by this puzzle's circled squares? : TURNTURNTURN
122
Australia's smallest state : TASMANIA
124
Upstate New York city : UTICA
125
Topic of Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution : SENATE
126
Up-and-coming : EMERGENT
127
Wrinkle treatment : BOTOX
128
Shaman, for one : HEALER
129
Newspaper sections that often fall out : INSERTS
Down
1
Age : RIPEN
2
Romaine concern : ECOLI
3
Kicks things off : GETSTHEBALLROLLING
4
Land in the water : ISLE
5
Mortgage org. : FHA
6
Mountains just south of Yellowstone : TETONS
7
The Quakers and others : SECTS
8
Celebrity socialite : ITGIRL
9
Comedian Margaret : CHO
10
Mind : HEED
11
"___ quam videri," state motto of North Carolina : ESSE
12
Strike on the head : CUFF
13
See 8-Across : KNOCK
14
Home of the Marine Corps University : QUANTICO
15
___ Constitution : USS
16
Individual curls, say : REPS
17
Slightly : ABIT
18
It contains M.S.G.: Abbr. : NYNY
20
1973 play featuring a sign with a burned-out "E" : THEHOTLBALTIMORE
25
Part of a king's guard : ROOK
28
It charges to do some cleaning : ROOMBA
32
Arrogant newcomers : UPSTARTS
33
Rebellion leader Turner : NAT
35
Swagger : BRAVADO
37
Freud's first stage : ORAL
39
Plays hard after working hard : LETSLOOSE
40
Baker with the 1986 hit "Sweet Love" : ANITA
42
Baker or dry cleaner, maybe : SMALLBUSINESSOWNER
43
They multiply by dividing : CELLS
44
Garden item that sounds like the plural of another garden item : HOSE
45
Dispensers at banquets : URNS
46
Help (out) : BAIL
47
Author of "The Lion, the Bear and the Fox" : AESOP
49
Full of empty talk : ALLBARKANDNOBITE
50
Royals' org. : MLB
54
Teleported, in the Harry Potter books : APPARATED
60
Drop-down menu in online shopping : SIZE
64
I as in Icarus : IOTA
66
Something you might take a bow for in the theater? : OBI
68
Unapologetic : NOTSORRY
70
Squeaky mice, e.g. : CATTOYS
73
Chasm : ABYSS
74
Jabber? : BOXER
76
Whirlpool subsidiary since 2006 : AMANA
79
Place to lace up : RINK
80
"It's a snap!" : EASY
81
Summer Triangle star : VEGA
83
The Notorious ___ : RBG
85
Six Nations tribe : ONEIDA
87
Leave off, as the last word of a : OMIT
89
Line just above a total, say : SALESTAX
95
Squid's ink holder : SAC
99
Latin rebuke : ETTU
101
Accumulate : GARNER
102
Up : ARISEN
104
Like a zero-star review : HARSH
106
Savory taste : UMAMI
108
Coat that's hard to take off : PAINT
109
Sports page fodder : STATS
110
Paycheck go-with : STUB
111
A plane might be flown on it : AUTO
112
Judicial order : WRIT
114
Pad site : KNEE
115
___ Rosso (Sicilian wine) : ETNA
116
Kind of citizenship : DUAL
118
Kind of tea : SAGE
120
Cpl. or sgt. : NCO
121
Fwy., e.g. : RTE
123
Virginia Woolf's "___ Dalloway" : MRS

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?