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New York Times, Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Author:
Dan Schoenholz
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
245/5/20109/9/20190
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10344300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63220
Dan Schoenholz

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {BQZ} This is puzzle # 21 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes:
This is my second attempt at a puzzle with perimeter answers. My first one required a lot of dodgy fill, and was difficult enough to ... read more

This is my second attempt at a puzzle with perimeter answers. My first one required a lot of dodgy fill, and was difficult enough to construct that I vowed never to try THAT again. But then I had the idea for today's puzzle.

Happily, when I sat down to construct this one, the fill came together pretty well. While it's hinted at in the revealer, it's not explicitly stated that each of the films referenced in the puzzle was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Given that, as well as the need for symmetry and to have four corners where the first and/or last letters of the answers were the same, I didn't have a lot of wiggle room to try different configurations/answers. The three themers in the main body of the puzzle layered on additional constraints. Despite all that, the fill in the final product isn't bad, IMO, with only a few entries I wish I could have eliminated (KTS, ITA and IMET, you know who you are . . . )

One other tricky aspect of this puzzle was cluing. I wanted the clues to be independent of the films and their subjects: but since many of the theme movies were biopics, I couldn't pull it off. For example, how do you clue "Patton" in a way that doesn't relate to General Patton? How do you clue Amadeus without referencing Mozart? It doesn't work, unfortunately.

In any case, I hope solvers enjoy the puzzle enough to give it two thumbs up!

Jeff Chen notes:
PICTURE / FRAME telling us that all perimeter answers are motion PICTUREs. At first I felt like the revealer was inelegant, placed ... read more

PICTURE / FRAME telling us that all perimeter answers are motion PICTUREs. At first I felt like the revealer was inelegant, placed into odd locations with no symmetry, but I liked Dan's effort to save that by using the ACADEMY to balance everything out.

Great gridwork. It's so hard to build around perimeter themers, since they immediately make the four corners so inflexible. At first I thought Dan had a ton of freedom in choosing from hundreds of single-word movies out there, but reading his notes (about how each of the perimeter movies are Best Picture nominees) made me realize how little flexibility he really had. Most any pair of crossing perimeter answers in a corner means trouble, and having such a limited set can mean trouble.

But that NW came out so strong, kicked off by AVATAR and AMADEUS, including the nice VARIETAL / ANGELINA / REDDIT. There aren't any fantastic multi-word entries like IT'S A GIRL, but given the ultra-tough constraint of having AVATAR / AMADEUS fixed into place in a big space, I can only imagine how much time Dan spent working through that corner, restarting when he hit even the most minor of crossword glue. Now this is the way to start a puzzle!

The SE wasn't quite as nice, given the I MET partial and HITHERTO (although the lawyers in the solving audience might disagree with me), but it's still very smooth. I'm so resigned to seeing two or three ugly bits like I MET in a corner of perimeter puzzles — to get such effortless-seeming results was a great and pleasant surprise.

Perimeter puzzles also often show signs of strain as the constructor tries to merge everything in the middle, but Dan also does well here. Keeping his NW and SE corners big and wide-open means he can spend a bunch of black squares in the middle of the puzzle, helping him knit the four corners together more easily. RENA was the only head-scratcher for me, but she is a soap star, and all the crosses are fair.

Been a while since we had a perimeter theme, and usually it's pretty apparent what's going on because of all the crossword glue needed to hold the thing together. Really nice craftsmanship from Dan today.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0914 ( 24,417 )
Across
1
Gamer's representation : AVATAR
7
"We choose to go to the moon" speech giver, informally : JFK
10
Wines said to go well with steak : REDS
14
Make do : MANAGE
15
Granola morsel : OAT
16
Emollient source : ALOE
17
Wrangled : ARGUED
18
Words on a pink cigar band : ITSAGIRL
20
Losing effort? : DIET
21
Cacophony : DIN
23
"Money talks," e.g. : MAXIM
24
Fish that may be jellied or smoked : EEL
25
With 36-Across, what this puzzle features, literally : PICTURE
28
Give ___ go : ITA
29
Gas or water : UTILITY
31
College player, e.g. : NONPRO
33
Yemeni capital : SANAA
34
A vital sign : PULSE
35
"Wee" fellow : LAD
36
See 25-Across : FRAME
38
Japanese masked drama : NOH
41
Respected tribesman : ELDER
43
Faux money : SCRIP
45
Appear gradually, on film : FADEIN
47
It occurs twice in "chalk talk" : SILENTL
49
Miracle-___ (garden care brand) : GRO
50
Organization that honored those referenced in the 25-/36-Across, with "the" : ACADEMY
52
"Bingo!" : AHA
53
Angels' instruments : HARPS
55
Camcorder brand : RCA
56
"How ___ Your Mother" : IMET
57
En route : ONTHEWAY
60
"O tempora! O mores!" orator : CICERO
62
Whole bunch : SCAD
63
The whole shebang : ALL
64
Willing to try : OPENTO
65
___ Trueheart, Dick Tracy's sweetheart : TESS
66
Bit of hope, in an expression : RAY
67
U.S. general who was a pentathlete in the 1912 Olympics : PATTON
Down
1
Mozart's middle name : AMADEUS
2
Wine from a single type of grape : VARIETAL
3
Jolie of "Maleficent" : ANGELINA
4
Ready to snap, maybe : TAUT
5
Match.com datum : AGE
6
Website with "Ask Me Anything" interviews : REDDIT
7
Like some custody or tax returns : JOINT
8
Budgetary excess : FAT
9
Jewelers' purity measures: Abbr. : KTS
10
Ravi Shankar's music : RAGA
11
Magic potion : ELIXIR
12
Triangular chip : DORITO
13
March locale of note : SELMA
19
Cries from a flock : AMENS
22
Very standoffish : ICY
25
Actress Zadora : PIA
26
"One," in a coin motto : UNUM
27
Auditioner's hope : ROLE
30
Put on, as cargo : LADED
32
2016 running mate : PENCE
34
72, on many courses : PAR
36
Savings acct. protector : FDIC
37
Sofer of "General Hospital" : RENA
39
The jaguar on a Jaguar's hood, e.g. : ORNAMENT
40
Thus far : HITHERTO
42
Paper for a pad : LEASE
43
Like a fox : SLY
44
It's smaller than a company : PLATOON
45
New Caledonia is a territory of it : FRANCE
46
Major vessels : AORTAS
47
Brief time, in brief : SEC
48
Sgt. Friday's introduction : IMACOP
49
Quickie Halloween costume : GHOST
51
In a deadpan manner : DRYLY
54
Degs. for many professors : PHDS
56
"Law & Order: SVU" co-star : ICET
58
Subject of 12/8/1941 headlines : WAR
59
Reminiscent of : ALA
61
Bitter brew, briefly : IPA

Answer summary:

Found bugs or have suggestions?

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