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LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

New York Times, Sunday, August 27, 2017

Author: Jeff Chen
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeff Chen
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
777/5/201011/26/201745
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2267111768
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.633162

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 73 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 72 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes: This puzzle started out when I noticed ECHO sitting in the middle of LIFESTYLE CHOICE. How neat to put a black square on top of the E, making that spot an ECHO LOCATION! (insert groan here) That didn't ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

This puzzle started out when I noticed ECHO sitting in the middle of LIFESTYLE CHOICE. How neat to put a black square on top of the E, making that spot an ECHO LOCATION!

(insert groan here)

That didn't end up making the cut — stupid crossword gods and their symmetry requirements. It was so tough to find eight total themers (four pairs) that matched in length. So many times I'd get to seven ... and then crap out at the eighth.

After months of repeated failures, I happened to be watching "Sherlock" on BBC, and inspiration hit, thinking of the CANAL ZONE within FORENSIC ANALYST. Thanks, Sherlock!

The grid was an interesting problem in construction, working with all the constraints. I like challenging myself, so I wanted to see if I could do a 136-word grid that would be a fun (and smooth) solving experience. Earlier in my constructing career, I probably would have called some of my first versions good, but I just wasn't happy about some of the fill, no matter how hard I tried.

So I rebooted with a 138-word grid, and the result felt like it'd be a much more fun solving experience, with fewer odd words and gluey bits. Hard to turn off my stupid constructor's brain that's always looking for a challenge — sometimes I have to beat it into submission so I can remember to keep the solver as my first priority. Maybe I should have stuck with a 140-word grid to eliminate things like RATINE? I think it's an interesting word, but it's a tough call.

I was such a fan of "Spy Hunter" (the arcade game) as a kid. Pressing the button for that OIL SLICK was so fun! That's how I clued it in my submission, but big ups to Will and Joel for their brilliant clue. [Disaster film?] is one of those devilishly clever plays on words that makes me mad I didn't think of it myself!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0827 ( 24,764 )
Across Down
1. Way around London, with "the" : TUBE
5. E.R. V.I.P.s : MDS
8. Haunted house sound : CREAK
13. Backflow preventer in a drain : PTRAP
18. Brief, as a visit : INANDOUT
20. Sub : HOAGIE
21. Oscar role for Vivien Leigh : OHARA
22. Astonishing March Madness success, e.g. : CINDERELLASTORY
24. He denied Christ three times : PETER
25. Device with a Retina display : IPAD
26. The opposition : ANTIS
27. "Madame X" painter John Singer ___ : SARGENT
29. 23-Across, literally? : LASTPLACE
33. Cozy : SNUG
35. Actor ___ Buchholz of "The Magnificent Seven" : HORST
36. Epitome of simplicity : ABC
37. Sour : TART
39. Spicy fare? : EROTICA
41. "Where America's Day Begins" : GUAM
43. Made an impression? : DENTED
45. Iron: Fr. : FER
46. Get ready to be dubbed : KNEEL
50. Machine-gun while flying low : STRAFE
52. Stereotypical oil tycoon : TEXAN
54. Remains unused : SITSIDLE
56. Sweets : DEAR
58. Take both sides? : STRADDLE
60. Word on a jar : TIPS
61. Muskmelon variety : HONEYDEW
65. Bombs developed in the 1950s : EDSELS
66. Some airport figures, for short : ETAS
67. Eminently draft-worthy : ONEA
68. Pitch : SPIEL
71. Wiped out : ATEIT
72. Middling : SOSO
73. Plenty sore, with "off" : TEED
74. Heat : PRELIM
76. Antiparticle first observed in 1929 : POSITRON
78. Noon, in Nantes : MIDI
79. Disaster film? : OILSLICK
82. Singer Simone : NINA
83. Doomed : ILLFATED
85. N.B.A. Hall-of-Famer Thomas : ISIAH
87. Ladies' shoe fastener : TSTRAP
91. Staff openings? : CLEFS
92. By way of : VIA
94. Wine bar order : CARAFE
96. Elusive : EELY
97. ___ Lenoir, inventor of the internal-combustion engine : ETIENNE
100. Location of Waimea Valley : OAHU
101. What one will never be, in golf : PAR
102. Tended, with "for" : CARED
104. Comedian's stock in trade : GAGS
106. 118-Across, literally? : CANALZONE
110. Africa's oldest republic : LIBERIA
112. Result of some plotting : GRAPH
114. Bingo square : FREE
115. Old Russian ruler known as "Moneybag" : IVANI
116. Detective in a lab : FORENSICANALYST
122. Frisbees and such : DISCS
123. Like spoiled kids : BRATTY
124. Metallic element that's #21 on the periodic table : SCANDIUM
125. Like many concept cars : SLEEK
126. Gregor ___, protagonist in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" : SAMSA
127. Snack food brand : UTZ
128. Latin years : ANNI
1. Sign of nervousness : TIC
2. Sea urchin, at a sushi bar : UNI
3. Declare verboten : BAN
4. Break off a romance : ENDIT
5. Takeaway, of a sort : MORAL
6. When a baby is expected : DUEDATE
7. 1904 world's fair city: Abbr. : STL
8. Utilities, insurance, advertising, etc. : COSTS
9. Loosely woven fabric with a rough texture : RATINE
10. Try to find oneself? : EGOSURF
11. ___ quotes : AIR
12. What a designated driver takes : KEYS
13. Candy that fizzes in the mouth : POPROCKS
14. New Hampshire : THEGRANITESTATE
15. Gives stars to : RATES
16. Have no existence : ARENT
17. Line usually on the left or right side : PART
19. Tonto player of 2013 : DEPP
20. ___ characters (Chinese writing) : HAN
23. Murderer of Hamlet : LAERTES
28. Tuna, at a sushi bar : AHI
29. Doesn't keep up : LAGS
30. Go up against : ABUT
31. Facial feature of the Bond villain Ernst Blofeld : SCAR
32. Jargon : CANT
34. Runs for a long pass, say : GOESDEEP
38. One component of a data plan : TEXT
40. What the prefix "tera-" means : TRILLION
42. Contributed to the world : MADEADIFFERENCE
43. 56-Down, literally? : DEADSPOT
44. "Don't you ___!" : DARE
47. Line judge? : EDITOR
48. Home to the National Border Patrol Museum : ELPASO
49. Teacher's unit : LESSON
51. Funny Tina : FEY
53. Bubkes : NADA
55. 60-Down, literally? : TESTSITE
57. Stay : REPRIEVE
59. Setting eschewed by Hawaii: Abbr. : DST
61. Capturer of some embarrassing gaffes : HOTMIC
62. "The Iceman Cometh" playwright : ONEILL
63. Hospital sticker : NEEDLE
64. Handling well : WIELDING
69. Winner of four 1990s-2000s golf majors : ELS
70. 1953 Leslie Caron film : LILI
75. Other: Abbr. : MISC
77. Networking assets : INS
80. "Ta-ta!" : CIAO
81. Former world capital called "City of Lights" : KARACHI
84. Shift+8 : ASTERISK
86. "Everybody's a comedian" : HAHA
88. Certain cheap car, informally : REPO
89. Mathematician Turing : ALAN
90. Apt rhyme for "fire" : PYRE
93. Asked for a desk, say : ANAGRAM
95. That the sum of the numbers on a roulette wheel is 666, e.g. : FUNFACT
98. Uganda's Amin : IDI
99. Marsh birds : EGRETS
102. Showing politesse : CIVIL
103. Lower : ABASE
105. International package deliverer : SANTA
107. Desi of Desilu Productions : ARNAZ
108. Show a bias : LEAN
109. Nintendo game princess : ZELDA
110. Lens caps? : LIDS
111. Where fighter jets are found: Abbr. : AFBS
113. "Gangnam Style" hitmaker : PSY
117. ___ pro nobis (pray for us) : ORA
118. Sch. in Fort Collins : CSU
119. The dark side : YIN
120. Symbol on the flag of Argentina or Uruguay : SUN
121. "Eww, stop!" : TMI

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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