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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.

1
S
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E
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A
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W
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B
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H
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P
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P
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M
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L
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U
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D
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O
O
F
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B
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A
C
K
B
O
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D
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L
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D
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H
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C
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M
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D
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C
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M
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A
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A
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A
L
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E
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H
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L
O
D
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S
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Y
A
Y
98
M
99
E
100
T
H
E
P
I
101
P
S
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P
L
O
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S
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A
D
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E
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N
A
N
O
T
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U
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B
E
108
S
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P
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A
111
M
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C
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O
V
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O
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R
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E
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A
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B
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A
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O
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A
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D
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W
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E
Y
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R
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P
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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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