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FOUND IN YOUR INBOX

New York Times, Sunday, August 20, 2017

Author:
Ruth Bloomfield Margolin
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
92/26/201412/20/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
3013200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50100
Ruth B. Margolin

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 73 Missing: {J} This is puzzle # 7 for Ms. Margolin. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Ruth B. Margolin notes:
Friends always ask me how long it takes to make a puzzle. There's no good answer to that question. Some ideas come together quite quickly, others involve lots of mulling, refining, and ... read more

Friends always ask me how long it takes to make a puzzle. There's no good answer to that question. Some ideas come together quite quickly, others involve lots of mulling, refining, and word-searching. This puzzle was of the latter sort, with months passing between first poring through lists of words beginning with "RE" and finally having a puzzle worthy of submission. I needed to find fun phrases involving "RE" words in which "RE" did not have the "do it again" meaning. (So REQUEST was in, and REPLAY was out.) However long it takes me, it is all part of the fun and the challenge! Doesn't everyone spend summer vacation evenings with a glass of wine in one hand and pages of words in the other?

I certainly learn a lot through the process of refining these puzzles. Not only do I get to scrutinize language, but I get to explore a tremendous spectrum of knowledge. As I attempt to assess whether a fill word is "good" or not, I often get caught up in a process akin to those childhood hours spent browsing through the paper-and-ink pages of our encyclopedia, where looking up one topic led to exploring a dozen others. I learn when I solve puzzles, and I learn even more when I create them! Not just about the content: as Will and Joel point out the shortcomings of one puzzle draft or another, I learn more and more about crossword structure and precision.

This puzzle required several drafts after Will first expressed his enthusiasm for the theme. As usual, revision forced me to leave some favorites behind, so I lost the memo re: cruise ship advertiser's subject line: MAINS TO BE SEEN! I truly appreciate Will and Joel's help and patience as I sought to create a revision that would pass muster. I hope you enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes:
What a fun idea, playing on the common 're:' start of memos. I loved REMOTE CONTROL transforming to 're: MOTE CONTROL' as a memo about cleaning. So amusing! 're: QUEST FOR PROPOSAL' also ... read more

What a fun idea, playing on the common "re:" start of memos. I loved REMOTE CONTROL transforming to "re: MOTE CONTROL" as a memo about cleaning. So amusing! "re: QUEST FOR PROPOSAL" also made me laugh. This theme type doesn't always bring a smile to my face, so kudos to Ruth for thinking up such entertaining themers.

I would have liked more strong bonus fill, in the vein of I WANNA SEE, CAN IT BE, and GMC TRUCKS — that type of entry is so important re: keeping this solver's attention through an entire Sunday-size grid. It's so difficult to do though, without introducing too much crossword glue — the 21x21, 140-word grid is so difficult to execute well on.

Considering Ruth kept the crossword glue down to a reasonable level, with some dribs and drabs of ANUT, EATNO, STAC, ORDS, ESTS, AFTS, NLER, I would have been okay with a just a touch more if it had allowed Ruth to add in a couple more shiny bonus entries. Stuff like ANOINTS and EXERT ON are perfectly fine, but they don't add much spice.

I originally thought going up to 140 words (from Ruth's 138) would have been an easy solution to achieving more snazzy fill / less crossword glue. But I couldn't find an easy way to do this by adding a single pair of black squares, and honestly, most of the crossword glue is spread out pretty well throughout the grid. I do think a different black square pattern, aiming at 140 words, could have been a better way go, though.

Overall, I was amused by the theme, and that's my most critical element for a Sunday puzzle. If there had been more sparkly fill (with the short fill still being kept relatively clean), I might have given it POW! consideration.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0820 ( 24,757 )
Across
1
Matisse, e.g., stylistically : FAUVE
6
H. H. Munro pseudonym : SAKI
10
XXX : CHIS
14
Back up on disk : SAVE
18
Cons : ANTIS
19
Juicy : LURID
20
Seats by the orchestra pit, perhaps : ROWA
21
Film excerpt : CLIP
22
Re: ___ (suitor's subject line) : QUESTFORPROPOSAL
25
25, 27, 29, etc. : ODDS
26
The first pope, to French speakers : STPIERRE
27
Words before fat and lean, in a nursery rhyme : EATNO
28
The Gabor sisters, e.g. : TRIO
29
Re: ___ (stingy date's subject line) : TREATISNOTANOPTION
34
Hairstyle rarely seen in the military : AFRO
37
Apply to : EXERTON
38
Formally chooses : ANOINTS
39
The crystal in some crystal balls : QUARTZ
41
Carrier to Seoul, for short : KAL
42
The lowest of the low : BASSES
44
Catering staple : URN
45
Re: ___ (song lyricist's subject line) : VERSECOURSE
49
Part of a locust tree : THORN
53
Place to say 9-Down : ALTAR
55
Help : AID
56
Quenched : SLAKED
58
World leader who proclaimed "Women hold up half the sky" : MAO
59
Bathday cakes? : SOAPS
61
Kind of diagram : VENN
62
Dwellers on the Arabian Peninsula : OMANIS
65
Re: ___ (film director's subject line) : ACTIONTIME
69
Re: ___ (sales agent's subject line ... with an attachment) : ADONLYFILE
72
Peanut butter choice : CREAMY
73
Municipal regs. : ORDS
75
Prefix with liberal or conservative, but not moderate : ULTRA
76
Slippery sort : EEL
77
One is usually set by a chair : AGENDA
80
Purpose : USE
81
Talk smack about : TRASH
85
Baseball exec Bud : SELIG
88
Re: ___ (duster's subject line) : MOTECONTROL
91
Tony winner Hagen : UTA
92
$$$$, on Yelp : PRICEY
94
"Selma" director DuVernay : AVA
95
Greek gods' drink : NECTAR
97
"Down," at a diner : ONTOAST
100
Pithy observations : APERCUS
103
Best-of-the-best : AONE
104
Re: ___ (prison librarian's subject line) : WARDFORINFORMATION
108
Hansen of a 2016 Broadway hit : EVAN
109
Sidney who directed "12 Angry Men" : LUMET
110
Actress Arquette : PATRICIA
114
The Destroyer, in Hinduism : SIVA
115
Re: ___ (celebrity physician's subject line) : ACHESFORTHESTARS
119
Mark Zuckerberg when founding Facebook, e.g. : TEEN
120
Eliminated by a ref's decision : TKOD
121
Heavenly hunter : ORION
122
Monastery figure : ABBOT
123
European capital : OSLO
124
Repair shop figs. : ESTS
125
Stuff : GEAR
126
Simple, as a question : YESNO
Down
1
Online help : FAQS
2
"Are you some kind of ___?" : ANUT
3
Lone Star State sch. : UTEP
4
Guest : VISITOR
5
Perfume compound : ESTER
6
Inspector Clouseau's employer : SURETE
7
"A Navel" artist, 1923 : ARP
8
Wine-and-cassis drink : KIR
9
See 53-Across : IDO
10
Dalmatian, e.g. : CROAT
11
Lilylike plant : HOSTA
12
Tot's "Lemme up on your shoulders!" : IWANNASEE
13
Old-fashioned gunfight locales : SALOONS
14
Like the people who invented golf : SCOTTISH
15
Astronaut after whom Buzz Lightyear was named : ALDRIN
16
Couch potato : VIDIOT
17
Some home printers : EPSONS
19
Title Seuss creature : LORAX
23
"Stop!," to a cop : FREEZE
24
Lowly worker : PEON
30
Bugged : IRKED
31
Short and detached, in music: Abbr. : STAC
32
Surefire : NOLOSE
33
Expert on meters and feet : POET
34
An official color of the Miami Dolphins : AQUA
35
Roll up : FURL
36
Tirade : RANT
40
Den, often : TVROOM
42
Gucci or Givenchy, e.g. : BRAND
43
The first "A" in Reddit's A.M.A. : ASK
46
Mesmerized : RAPT
47
"You bet!," in Yucatán : SISI
48
Radiuses' neighbors : ULNAS
50
Marriott competitor : OMNI
51
Third one's a harm? : RAIL
52
Wine's aroma : NOSE
54
China setting : ASIA
57
Doofus : DOLT
60
Novelist Seton : ANYA
61
Mesa ___ National Park : VERDE
63
Moaning Hogwarts ghost : MYRTLE
64
Not even close : AFAR
65
The Red Baron and others : ACES
66
Northern Montana tribe : CREE
67
Poker player's tic, perhaps : TELL
68
___ Python : MONTY
70
Depose : OUST
71
Cubbie or Card : NLER
74
From the top, to a musician : DACAPO
78
Sierras, e.g. : GMCTRUCKS
79
Want ad letters : EOE
80
Take the heat from? : UNARM
82
Motorcade unit : AUTO
83
Lee of Marvel Comics : STAN
84
Storied also-ran : HARE
86
Apple product discontinued in 2017 : IPODNANO
87
Tennis's Steffi : GRAF
89
Through with : OVER
90
Like some training : ONSITE
93
Quarantine : ISOLATE
96
"Is that even possible?" : CANITBE
97
Must pay : OWESTO
98
Main forces? : NAVIES
99
See the world : TRAVEL
100
Tea times: Abbr. : AFTS
101
Ransom note writer : CAPTOR
102
Deseret News reader, e.g. : UTAHN
105
"Turn up the A/C!" : IMHOT
106
Must have : NEEDS
107
Paris's Musée d'___ : ORSAY
111
Fleet on Fleet Street : CABS
112
With 117-Down, Mesabi Range output : IRON
113
Regarding : ASTO
116
Thick coat on a cold day? : FOG
117
See 112-Down : ORE
118
Small inlet : RIA

Answer summary: 11 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?