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CAPITAL L'S

New York Times, Sunday, August 25, 2013

Author:
Victor Barocas
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
122/9/20116/23/20197
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6012300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.62032
Victor Barocas

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 69 Missing: {X} This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Barocas. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Victor Barocas notes:
Once I had the idea for this puzzle, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are exactly eight six-letter state capitals (not counting my own STPAUL!), and that all of them had ... read more

Once I had the idea for this puzzle, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are exactly eight six-letter state capitals (not counting my own STPAUL!), and that all of them had workable three-letter blocks. It was a bit of a challenge trying to make a grid with enough room for the L's all to fit symmetrically. I also didn't want any six-letter words starting with the first three-letter block because it would be too misleading. PIETAS at 116-Across is the one, and I decided that by then, the solver would probably have figured out what is going on and would not be inclined to write PIETAS like a normal entry.

The fill was difficult but ended up okay, and then Will cleaned up some weak spots. I tried some other things at various times (NITTANY for TIFFANY, DENTISTS for DENOUNCE), but this is where it ended up. If it weren't for Kaley CUOCO, I am not sure that I would have been able to unsnarl the NW quarter of the puzzle. I hope that people enjoyed it.

Jeff Chen notes:
It's a rare occasion that I run across a theme idea I've never seen before. Bravo to Victor! It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out the trick, but when I realized the state ... read more

It's a rare occasion that I run across a theme idea I've never seen before. Bravo to Victor! It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out the trick, but when I realized the state capitals were split, forming two L-shapes apiece, I smiled.

Sunday puzzles are notoriously difficult to construct; roughly a factor of five more difficult than a regular weekday puzzle. The biggest challenge is that instead of 225 squares/78 max words, you're working with 441 squares/140 max words. While this might seem no different at first glance, it's like sculpting with clay vs. damp sand. So many of my Sunday puzzles have fallen apart just when I think I'm nearly done (unfillable corner, too much ugliness, etc.), and I'm forced to reboot.

Consider the open white spaces in the four corners, for example. You don't typically see that kind of real estate outside of themeless puzzles. Trying to fill them cleanly while maintaining your thematic density can be a serious challenge. Ratcheting up the difficulty level, Victor has chosen to use only 136 words, making the task even harder. He could have split up 23A/123A and/or 24A/126A with black squares, but it would have taken away some really nice long fill. For a Sunday puzzle, which comes with the expectation that there will be some less-than-stellar fill, the price to pay (ONDES, PUD, et al.) seems fair. I personally might have split up one pair to get cleaner fill, but that's a subjective difference in construction style.

Jim Horne notes:
At first, it seems like the Across theme answers are unclued. Nothing corresponds to TOPEKA, DENVER, JUNEAU, BOSTON, AUSTIN, ALBANY, HELENA or PIERRE. But then, did you notice the puzzle's ... read more

At first, it seems like the Across theme answers are unclued. Nothing corresponds to TOPEKA, DENVER, JUNEAU, BOSTON, AUSTIN, ALBANY, HELENA or PIERRE. But then, did you notice the puzzle's title?

"Putting out on an anniversary, maybe" at 47 Across is an outstanding clue.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0825 ( 23,301 )
Across
1
Item whose name is derived from the Latin "aquarius" : EWER
5
Auto parts giant : NAPA
9
Pot user, maybe : EELER
14
Peyote and saguaro : CACTI
19
Rossini's William Tell and others : BARITONES
21
Lump in one's throat : UVULA
22
First acrylic fiber : ORLON
23
Superlative for Sirius : BRIGHTEST
24
Rush job? : ROCKCONCERT
26
Home security system component : SENSOR
27
Big kahunas : TOPDOGS
29
Stationery item: Abbr. : ENV
30
Had : ATE
31
Log : RECORD
33
Abbr. on a lawyer's stationery : ESQ
35
Censure : DENOUNCE
37
Berry used to make gin : JUNIPER
40
They have pluses and minuses : IONS
42
In ___ : UTERO
44
___-pedi : MANI
45
Medicine label info : DOSAGE
47
Putting out on an anniversary, maybe : REISSUING
51
Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights," for one : TRIPTYCH
53
Lustrous fabric : SATEEN
55
Provide with a quality : ENDUE
56
Daisylike bloom : ASTER
57
Massive ref. : OED
59
Maze explorer : LABRAT
61
Turn over : CEDE
62
Disencumber : RID
64
Not beat : LOSETO
66
Collapses : CAVESIN
68
Drain : SAP
71
White-suited "Dukes of Hazzard" villain : BOSSHOGG
73
Spartan : AUSTERE
75
___ Party : TEA
76
Some bio majors : PREMEDS
78
Fails to : DOESNT
80
Court judgment : LET
82
Barrett of gossip : RONA
83
"Phooey!" : OHDARN
85
___ Moines : DES
87
Mentions : CITES
91
Apple line : IMACS
93
Experience you might want to forget : ORDEAL
95
Guaranteed : RISKFREE
97
Darwin stopping point, with "the" : GALAPAGOS
99
Founder of the Missionaries of Charity : TERESA
101
Epitome of cool, with "the" : FONZ
102
Lead singer on "Octopus's Garden" : RINGO
103
Singer Peniston : CECE
104
Einstein and Camus : ALBERTS
106
Hint-giving columnist : HELOISE
109
Three, for a short hole : PAR
111
Postwar prime minister : ATTLEE
113
Simpson case judge : ITO
114
11th-century hero, with "El" : CID
116
Religious art figures : PIETAS
118
Country crooner Randy : TRAVIS
123
Emergency Broadcast System opening : THISISATEST
126
Kind of treatment : INPATIENT
128
Still goopy, as concrete : UNSET
129
Poet/dramatist Federico García ___ : LORCA
130
Pixar movie between "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" : ABUGSLIFE
131
Verse-writing : POESY
132
Jerks : YOYOS
133
Some screens, for short : LCDS
134
Glacial : SLOW
Down
1
Goes down : EBBS
2
Suffix with hard or soft : WARE
3
Girl's name that's also a place name : ERIN
4
Semis : RIGS
5
Unprepared : NOTREADY
6
Hydrocarbon suffix : ANE
7
Basil sauce : PESTO
8
One end of New York's Triborough Bridge : ASTORIA
9
Cry of epiphany : EUREKA
10
Suggests : EVOKES
11
Director George : LUCAS
12
Bull or cow : ELK
13
Tear : RACE
14
Nike rival : CONVERSE
15
Parenthesis shape : ARC
16
Butcher's tool : CLEAVER
17
Layered dessert : TORTE
18
Head of state? : INTER
20
He wrote "It is life near the bone where it is sweetest" : THOREAU
25
French waves : ONDES
32
Kaley of "The Big Bang Theory" : CUOCO
34
Eccentric : QUEER
37
Pantry lineup : JARS
38
Squad, e.g. : UNIT
41
Author Zora ___ Hurston : NEALE
43
Athlete's foot treatment : TINACTIN
44
Where Charlie may ride forever, in song : MTA
46
Connecticut city : SHELTON
47
Carom : REBOUND
48
Words of explanation : IDEST
49
Blue flick : NUDIE
50
Hollywood's Davis : GEENA
52
Crow, e.g. : TRIBE
54
Byes : TATAS
58
Thingamabobs : DOODADS
60
Cow's fly swatter : TAIL
63
Dummy : DODO
65
Bad thing for a roommate to do : SNORE
67
Sweater option : VNECK
68
Rosemary piece : SPRIG
69
Rosemary feature : AROMA
70
Like some codes : PENAL
77
1990s craze : MACARENA
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Related on the mother's side : ENATE
81
Renowned jeweler : TIFFANY
84
Sag : DROOP
86
Rug fiber : SISAL
88
Jeff Bridges sci-fi classic : TRON
89
Start of a count-off : EENY
90
"___ who?" : SEZ
92
TV show on which Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox : SPINCITY
94
Best-selling author who once worked for Britain's MI6 : LECARRE
96
Markdown markers : SALETAGS
98
Author Nin : ANAIS
100
New DNA evidence may lead to one : RETRIAL
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It's been shortening for over 100 years : CRISCO
106
Ask for money : HITUP
107
Prefix with musicology : ETHNO
110
Imitation : APERY
112
Year the emperor Claudius was born : TENBC
115
1991 P.G.A. champion John : DALY
119
Is unwell : AILS
120
Obscure : VEIL
121
Skinny : INFO
122
Fuss : STEW
124
French possessive : SES
125
"___ cool!" : TOO
127
British dessert, for short : PUD

Answer summary: 9 unique to this puzzle, 5 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?