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SUPER LOOPER

New York Times, Sunday, September 17, 2017

Author:
Mark MacLachlan
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
312/22/201610/10/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1010100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.53010
Mark MacLachlan

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. MacLachlan. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Mark MacLachlan notes:
I'm really excited to get my first Sunday puzzle in the NYT! I started this puzzle late in 2015, with the concept of each word being a roller coaster track that goes from left to right ... read more

I'm really excited to get my first Sunday puzzle in the NYT! I started this puzzle late in 2015, with the concept of each word being a roller coaster track that goes from left to right through a loop. I landed on the word "LOOPER" and thought that could be "LOOP-ER" with a consistent looping at "ER". I initially had several different words in the grid (TIME REVERSAL, INTERAMERICAN CUP, MODERN GERMAN, THEATERGOERS, INTERSPERSED...), but had a really tough time filling it. I worked on the puzzle on-and-off for more than a year before submitting it early in 2017.

I really wanted to have MOTHER THERESA in the center position, where CONCERT SERIES ended up, but I couldn't get it to work (there aren't many words with "..HT.." that fit well with the rest). In the end, I liked the 9 theme words I was able to include without too much rough fill.

I was really pleased that Will and Joel allowed some science terms that aren't overly common in crosswords, like PRIONS and NANOTUBE. And I owe them a thanks for the small change they made to my homophone clue for 117D to make it chemistry-themed!

Jeff Chen notes:
We've had a couple of puzzles involving looping answers over the past few years, including one with the letters L O O P looping, Coriolis force, and my favorite — one with things ... read more

We've had a couple of puzzles involving looping answers over the past few years, including one with the letters L O O P looping, Coriolis force, and my favorite — one with things that actually loop! The title of SUPER LOOPER gave away the game instantly for me — would have been nice to get something more clever there, allowing for an a-ha moment.

I enjoyed many of the finds, especially the ones that were snazzy entries in their own right. LOBSTER THERMIDOR was particularly nice, as were SPOILER ALERT and ROLE REVERSAL. Great stuff.

Not as hot on BEVERAGE ROOM. It was hard enough to parse due to the looping effect, and no smile when I realized it had to be BEVERAGE ROOM … didn't sound like an actual thing. Some research shows that it is an actual term, but that didn't quell my grumblings.

Any Sunday puzzle is tough to make, and to introduce more constraints is asking for pain. You might think, what's the big deal, adding just two more fixed squares to each of the theme entries? It's a huge deal, greatly reducing much-needed flexibility.

So, not a surprise to get a slew of crossword glue. I stopped counting after I hit 10 dabs of glue, and it felt like it kept on going. Nothing egregious, except maybe OSO, STER, and IF I DO, but so much in aggregate left me with an impression of inelegance.

Certainly, reducing the number of theme examples would have helped — eight or even seven would have been perfectly fine for me. I might have even preferred for this to be a weekday puzzle (15x15) with just four themers, as once I figured out what was going on, the concept got repetitive.

Overall though, I appreciated the snazzier finds like LOBSTER THERMIDOR, and how Mark worked in some great bonuses that helped keep my attention, like WISHBONE, TAPAS BAR, LOOSEN UP. That's not easy to do with such a constrained puzzle.

ADDED NOTE: I completely missed that each loop starts with ER, making for LOOP-ERs! Nice touch, much harder to find good theme answers than I thought.

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0917 ( 24,785 )
Across
1. Naval engagements : SEAWARS
8. Setting a world record, e.g. : FEAT
12. "The Hallucinogenic Toreador" artist : DALI
16. Evidence in an arson investigation : ASH
19. "No point arguing with me!" : IMRIGHT
20. Some rounds : AMMO
21. "The only beauty that never fades," per Audrey Hepburn : ELEGANCE
23. Fancy French shellfish dish : LOBSTERTHERMIDOR
25. Beer parlor : BEVERAGEROOM
26. "Then again ...," in a tweet : OTOH
27. Collection of Hindu aphorisms : SUTRA
28. Palindromic bird : TIT
30. It's got you covered : ATTIRE
31. Tennis's Novak Djokovic, by birth : SERB
32. Rex Tillerson's alma mater, for short : UTAUSTIN
34. Proteins responsible for mad cow disease : PRIONS
35. Special ___ : OPS
37. It's got you covered : SHELTER
39. Carved emblem : TOTEM
41. Keys for Keys? : PIANO
44. German pronoun : SIE
46. South American plains : LLANOS
48. Tikkanen who won five Stanley Cups : ESA
49. All together, as a family : UNDERONEROOF
51. Classroom item : BLACKBOARDERASER
54. Schoolboy : LAD
55. More chichi : TONIER
57. Get a bite? : TEETHE
58. Team finale? : STER
60. Hot spot, both literally and figuratively : MIDEAST
63. Roman philosopher who wrote "All cruelty springs from weakness" : SENECA
67. Buenos ___ : AIRES
69. Central Park's SummerStage, e.g. : CONCERTSERIES
73. At the limit, with "out" : MAXED
74. Save from disaster : RESCUE
76. The same as : EQUALTO
78. "Homer and ___ Exchange Cross Words" (2008 episode of "The Simpsons") : LISA
79. Music genre for Weezer or the Shins : ALTPOP
83. Catch like Spider-Man : ENMESH
85. Child's seat, maybe : LAP
86. Tech overseer : COMPUTEROPERATOR
91. Reason to stop reading : SPOILERALERT
93. Stranded cellular stuff : RNA
94. ___ plane : ASTRAL
95. Addis Ababa's country: Abbr. : ETH
96. Claim deposits : LODES
97. "I rock!" : YAYME
100. Backup group for Gladys Knight : THEPIPS
102. Mahmoud Abbas's grp. : PLO
103. Quarter deck? : SPADES
105. Tiny conductor of heat or electricity : NANOTUBE
108. Email best not replied to : SPAM
112. Mulled wine ingredient : CLOVES
113. Extra periods at TD Garden : OTS
114. Mythical beast with goatlike features : SATYR
115. Jazzy Fitzgerald : ELLA
116. Premise of the film "Freaky Friday" : ROLEREVERSAL
118. Some positives and negatives : BATTERYTERMINALS
121. Welcoming diners at midnight, say : OPENLATE
122. Singer India.___ : ARIE
123. Adds water to : DILUTES
124. Director Anderson : WES
125. Surveys : EYES
126. "Darn it!" : RATS
127. A good place to start : STEPONE
Down
1. Grain containers : SILOS
2. Theatricalize : EMOTE
3. National ___ Day (last Friday in April) : ARBOR
4. Football formation : WISHBONE
5. 007, for one: Abbr. : AGT
6. ___ monkey : RHESUS
7. Cocky walk : STRUT
8. Copyright concern : FAIRUSE
9. Symbol for a break : EMDASH
10. ___, amas, amat : AMO
11. Taquito wrap : TORTILLA
12. What may grow with interest : DEBT
13. Barley wine, e.g. : ALE
14. Burton of "Reading Rainbow" : LEVAR
15. "Totally understood" : IGETIT
16. Blessed : ANOINTED
17. Frequent director of De Niro : SCORSESE
18. Pigment in red blood cells : HEME
22. "Star Wars" droid : ARTOO
24. Letters on N.Y.C. trains : MTA
29. Together : INTACT
33. Swiss folk hero with a crossbow : TELL
34. Dig for answers : PROBE
36. After-dinner drink : PORT
38. Speed skater Karin who won eight Olympic medals : ENKE
40. Scratch : MAR
41. Celestial object that emits radio waves : PULSAR
42. Drawn : INATIE
43. Poisonous snakes : ADDERS
44. Anthropomorphic hedgehog of gamedom : SONIC
45. "Don't mind ___!" : IFIDO
47. Elbow-benders : SOTS
50. ___-pah-pah : OOM
51. Pair : BRACE
52. "Excuse me" : AHEM
53. Kidney-related : RENAL
56. Dark time, in poesy : EEN
59. Wrap-up : RECAP
61. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ..., e.g.: Abbr. : SEQ
62. Less mendacious : TRUER
64. Like the Dalai Lama : EXILED
65. One of the Borgias : CESARE
66. Evolves : ADAPTS
68. The Philippines' ___ Sea : SULU
70. Author Rankin : IAN
71. 1428 ___ (horror film address): Abbr. : ELMST
72. The N.B.A.'s Curry, informally : STEPH
75. Singer James : ETTA
77. Baja bear : OSO
80. Vermin : PESTS
81. Straight: Prefix : ORTH
82. Signer of many a permission form : PARENT
84. Congress, with "the" : HILL
86. ___ wolf : CRY
87. Not level : ONASLOPE
88. Old outdoor dance sights : MAYPOLES
89. Place to try patatas bravas : TAPASBAR
90. Actress Lena : OLIN
92. "Relax!" : LOOSENUP
95. Trusts and ___ (law school class) : ESTATES
98. Authority : MAVEN
99. Gertrude who swam the English Channel in 1926 : EDERLE
101. Brand of note? : POSTIT
102. Teen driver's acquisition : PERMIT
104. The New Yorker piece : ESSAY
106. Western tribe : UTE
107. "Turn! Turn! Turn!" band, with "the" : BYRDS
109. One-named philosopher : PLATO
110. Paul ___, Microsoft co-founder : ALLEN
111. En ___ (as a group) : MASSE
112. Boast : CROW
113. Bullfight chorus : OLES
117. Homophone for the atomic number of oxygen : ATE
119. Altar constellation : ARA
120. St. Pierre, par exemple : ILE

Answer summary: 12 unique to this puzzle, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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