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MAKE A DASH FOR IT

New York Times, Sunday, September 18, 2016

Author:
Jeremy Newton
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
176/15/20083/9/20172
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
13011200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.81663
Jeremy Newton

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 82 Missing: {JQ} Scrabble average: 1.75 This is puzzle # 16 for Mr. Newton. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeremy Newton notes:
As it happens, the seed answer that inspired this theme hit the cutting room floor. I remember feeling pretty giddy about finding THE S-WORD IN THE STONE, which made me think of someone ... read more

As it happens, the seed answer that inspired this theme hit the cutting room floor. I remember feeling pretty giddy about finding THE S-WORD IN THE STONE, which made me think of someone with a sick sense of humor leaving a profane epitaph. In my first submission, that evolved into S-WORD SWALLOWER, a person clued as catching themselves before cussing. But alas, Will Shortz wasn't keen on this hyphenation. Admittedly, you often see it undashed as S WORD, so not exactly strong theme material.

Regardless, I'm proud of finding the solid set of 7 sneakily-hyphenated words that made the cut. My favorite of the bunch is probably B-LISTER PACK, since it evokes a kind of lesser-cool Brat Pack.

Trickiest part was wrangling the dashed Down answers that cross the themers at the hyphens. I tried to stay away from less lively possibilities (I'm looking at you, I-BAR and NON-U), while keeping the surrounding fill as smooth as possible.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Jeff Chen notes:
It's been seven years of constructing, and I've only now started to realize how difficult it is to create a captivating Sunday 140-word puzzle. Part of it is the sheer difficulty of ... read more

It's been seven years of constructing, and I've only now started to realize how difficult it is to create a captivating Sunday 140-word puzzle. Part of it is the sheer difficulty of adhering to Will's limit of at most 140 words — WAY harder than some other editors' 144 max — but a bigger part is coming up with a concept that holds solvers' attention through a 21x21 grid. This gets even tougher when considering how varied the NYT's solving population is.

Personally, I often don't enjoy the Sunday puzzle as much as I would like — I often get tired of it halfway through or even sooner. And I have very high expectations for Jeremy — I think he's one of the greats when it comes to Sunday puzzles — so I was honestly a little disappointed to figure out that this was "just" a theme including the dashes inside entries like UH-OH and PUSH-UP BRA. Felt like I had seen similar punctuation-related themes before (2015, 2013, 2007.)

Great a-ha moment to discover that wait, there was more! Took me over half of the puzzle to finally realize that Jeremy had replaced some regular words with hyphenated phrases — PHOENIX, AZ going to PHOENIX A-Z was so amusing. And each themer using an interesting word-to-hyphenated-word substitution helped hold my attention. My favorite was AMERICAN GOT HI-C for its unusual breaking of GOTHIC into GOT HI-C, plus the amusing result.

Jeremy is so good with his long fill. There wasn't as much as we usually see from him — CROP CIRCLE, TIME LOCKS, and VIP LINES the standouts — but there's a reason for that. Any time you have to work with crossing entries, a grid quickly becomes tough to fill. He could have gotten away with relying on short dashed fill like UH-OH and HA-HA everywhere, but I love how he pushed himself to work in THE PO-PO (slang for the police), FREE WI-FI, and PUSH-UP BRA. Doesn't leave much room for long fill throughout the grid, but when all your theme material is this good, that doesn't matter very much.

Really tough to hold my attention all the way through a Sunday puzzle. Big thanks to Jeremy for this one that greatly succeeded!

Jim Horne notes:

Very clever theme.

1
T
2
P
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S
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C
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D
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S
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H
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P
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W
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R
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A
U
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B
DASH
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K
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D
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R
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R
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M
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N
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G
DASH
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C
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B
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W
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H
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P
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A
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H
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M
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W
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G
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M
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B
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C
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K
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C
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O
DASH
O
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S
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T
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P
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D
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K
O
A
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S
O
B
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L
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X
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O
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S
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C
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H
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A
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N
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G
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M
O
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V
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A
DASH
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D
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E
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F
L
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B
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T
U
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T
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Y
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A
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L
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DASH
C
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A
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L
H
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O
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S
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M
T
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C
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A
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H
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W
E
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S
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L
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A
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S
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L
G
A
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P
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A
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W
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T
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122
P
S
Y
123
E
S
T
© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0918 ( 24,421 )
Across
1
Pranks with a roll, briefly : TPS
4
Casualties of streaming services : CDS
7
Updated one's blog : POSTED
13
Swap (out) : SUB
16
Navajo hogan, e.g. : HUT
17
Part of NATO : TREATY
20
Forgo : ESCHEW
21
Question from an owl? : WHO
22
Austin-to-Houston dir. : ESE
23
Chief : HONCHO
24
Actor Joaquin's complete bio? : PHOENIXA-Z
26
Start of a legalese paragraph : WHEREAS
28
Figs. in an author's acknowledgments section : EDS
30
"___ Wiedersehen!" : AUF
31
Hughes poem that mentions "the darker brother" : ITOO
32
Troupe of lesser-known actors? : B-LISTERPACK
35
Reef-dwelling snapper : REDFISH
38
Unattractive fruit : UGLI
39
2016 Olympics site : RIO
40
What swish shots miss : RIM
42
Word repeated in the postal creed : NOR
43
W.W. I battle locale : YPRES
44
Schmaltz in kids' films? : G-RATEDCHEESE
50
"The meaning of life" once sold on it for $3.26 : EBAY
51
Throw together : WHIPUP
53
Certainly not wish to repeat : RUE
54
Get by : EVADE
56
"I don't mean to ___ ..." : PRY
57
Like bibs and aprons : TIEDON
58
Sermon topics : SINS
59
Muhammad had 13 : WIVES
60
Birthplace of multiple saints : ASSISI
62
Slowly disengages (from) : WEANS
64
Department store department : LINENS
65
An airline now serves a Minute Maid beverage? : AMERICANGOTHI-C
69
Whined like a baby : MEWLED
72
End of many a toast : TOYOU
73
Touch : AFFECT
76
Popular sans-serif font : ARIAL
77
Schools of thought : ISMS
78
"Onward!," in Italy : AVANTI
81
Unfiltered : RAW
83
U.S. detainment site in Cuba, informally : GITMO
84
Question posed with feigned shock : MOI
85
Ushers in : BRINGS
86
Joint action : TOKE
87
Some apartments for scaredy-cats? : CHICKENCO-OPS
90
Drank to excess : TOPED
91
R.V. camper's org. : KOA
92
[I'm devastated!] : SOB
93
Deli supply : LOX
95
Marauding group in Tolkien's "The Two Towers" : ORCS
96
Game of tag, basically : CHASING
100
Record half that stirs emotions? : MOVINGA-SIDE
104
Exerciser's target : FLAB
105
"Shame on you!" : TUT
107
Dark force : YIN
108
European country slightly larger than Malta : ANDORRA
109
Sandwich for a dieter? : LO-CALHERO
113
Appear that way : SEEMTO
115
Share : CUT
116
Volcano output : ASH
117
Slippery sort : WEASEL
118
Size up : ASSESS
119
Letters on some baggage to N.Y.C. : LGA
120
Word with sweet or sugar : PEA
121
Made damp : WETTED
122
"Gangnam Style" singer : PSY
123
Winter D.C. hrs. : EST
Down
1
Channel that aired "Felicity" and "Smallville" : THEWB
2
Curve-enhancing undergarment : PUSH-UPBRA
3
Metallic shades : STEELGRAYS
4
Certain Balkanite : CROAT
5
Not as bright : DENSER
6
___ fly : SAC
7
Oomph : PEP
8
Factory watchdog grp. : OSHA
9
Search far and wide : SCOUR
10
Home run territory, in lingo : THEFENCES
11
Dark time, in poetry : EEN
12
Something that gets MADD mad : DWI
13
Smacks hard : SWATS
14
"That is ... not looking good" : UH-OH
15
Numbskull : BOZO
17
Argument you may start in school : THESIS
18
Cops, in slang : THEPO-PO
19
Sage swamp-dweller of film : YODA
25
The witching hour : XII
27
Pat ___, three-time N.B.A. Coach of the Year : RILEY
29
Discard : SCRAP
33
Inflexible : RIGID
34
Handy take-along : KIT
36
Play-___ : DOH
37
Modern airport amenity : FREEWI-FI
41
Soft wool source : MERINO
43
"Sure thing" : YEP
45
Parts of airports and fashion shows : RUNWAYS
46
Actress Kirsten : DUNST
47
Display clearly : EVINCE
48
Goalie's goal : SAVE
49
Locale painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling : EDEN
51
Caught on, with "up" : WISED
52
Junior, often : HEIR
55
Something starting something? : ESS
57
Devices preventing off-hour openings of vaults : TIMELOCKS
58
Image on the Arizona license plate : SAGUARO
61
Deli supply : SALAMI
63
Brian of ambient music : ENO
64
Offerings to hitchhikers : LIFTS
66
"Challenge accepted!" : ITSON
67
Common newspaper feature not seen in The New York Times : COMICS
68
Chill, with "out" : HANG
69
E.W. or S.I. : MAG
70
One of the Trumps : ERIC
71
"I'm ___ Her," 2016 political slogan : WITH
74
Work of extraterrestrials? - not! : CROPCIRCLE
75
Pops some pills, say : TAKESDRUGS
77
"No joke!" : IMEANTHAT
79
Shortcuts into clubs : VIPLINES
80
Actor Williams of "Happy Days" : ANSON
82
Put together : WED
85
Guy into hip-hop : B-BOY
86
Where the heart is : TORSO
88
Colorful pond swimmer : KOI
89
___-pah : OOM
90
Kerfuffles : TO-DOS
94
Event for snocrossers : XGAMES
96
"You're almost there" : CLOSE
97
"So funny!" : HA-HA
98
"World News Tonight" airer : ABC
99
Talk show interviewee : GUEST
101
Aid for one going places? : VISA
102
On edge : ANTSY
103
Worry : EATAT
104
Kerfuffle : FLAP
106
Olive or avocado : TREE
110
"How precious is that!" : AWW
111
Actor ___ J. Cobb of "12 Angry Men" : LEE
112
So last month : OLD
114
You thinking what I'm thinking? : ESP

Answer summary: 21 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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