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MAKE A DASH FOR IT

New York Times, Sunday, September 18, 2016

Author: Jeremy Newton
Editor: Will Shortz
Jeremy Newton
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176/15/20083/9/20172
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13011200
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1.81663
Puzzle of the Week

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 with a sick sense of ... more
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 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 adhering to Will's limit of at ... more
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 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!

JimH notes: Very clever theme.
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0918 ( 24,421 )
Across Down
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
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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