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New York Times, Monday, September 19, 2016

Author: Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor: Will Shortz
Zhouqin Burnikel
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1.56281

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 81, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JZ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 33 for Ms. Burnikel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Zhouqin Burnikel notes: For the original grid I sent in, I used a Left/Right grid with four broken pieces. Will & Joel found the theme entry split-up ... more
Zhouqin Burnikel notes:

For the original grid I sent in, I used a Left/Right grid with four broken pieces. Will & Joel found the theme entry split-up off-putting.

Felt sheepish about OENO and a few other entries in the revised grid. Just could not get a cleaner grid due to the themer lengths.

Jeff Chen notes: Such a fun idea, HOLLYWOOD SQUARES interpreted as films that have perfect squares in their titles. Neat that C.C. was able to uncover a set ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Such a fun idea, HOLLYWOOD SQUARES interpreted as films that have perfect squares in their titles. Neat that C.C. was able to uncover a set that worked perfectly with crossword symmetry.

I really liked that C.C. strove for a tight(-ish) set, using just the first four perfect squares. There probably are a bunch of movies with HUNDRED in their title, and maybe some with MILLION or 49 or even a GROSS (=144, which just happens to be a perfect square!). So sticking to the first four is pretty nice.

I would have loved for them to be presented in numerical order, though. I know, it's a lot to ask for, and likely impossible given the constraints of crossword symmetry. But it would have been so elegant to get the ONE, FOUR, NINE, SIXTEEN progression. It would also have been great for all these movies to be more … well-received? To have made more at the box office? How impressive would it have been if all four movies were Titanic-esque blockbusters?

A tough set of lengths to work with. If C.C. had kicked off the puzzle with THE FOUR SEASONS, it would have had to be in row four instead of row three (in order to prevent a ton of black squares in the NW and SE corners). That would have squished all the themers together, and good spacing is key to most puzzles. As it is, this placement of themers is just about as good as you can do, but it forces a ton of vertical entries that need to interact with two long themers.

Check out how much overlap is there is between THE FOUR SEASONS and HOLLYWOOD SQUARES, for example. C.C. uses her black squares to separate the two as best as possible, but there's still a OENO in the middle. Fine by itself, but when she squeezes in DONUT HOLE (mmm!) in the NW corner, all the constraints force her into an AMOI and an unfortunate AKELA / BAHA crossing, perhaps a killer for novice solvers.

A smile-inducing idea, but with a couple of inelegancies forced by the lack of flexibility in themer choices.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0919 ( 24,422 )
Across Down
1. Termini : ENDS
5. Black ___ (deadly African snake) : MAMBA
10. "Beat it!" : SCRAM
15. Most important part of a carrot or turnip plant : ROOT
16. South American range : ANDES
17. ___ Island Red (chicken variety) : RHODE
18. 1995 Hugh Grant/Julianne Moore romantic comedy : NINEMONTHS
20. "The X Factor" judge Cowell : SIMON
21. ___ Arena, home to the Kentucky Wildcats : RUPP
22. Feel lousy : AIL
24. Socially maladroit sort : NERD
25. 1981 Alan Alda/Carol Burnett comedy : THEFOURSEASONS
30. "Humbug!" : BAH
32. Secluded valley : GLEN
33. Pinball foul : TILT
34. Mine: Fr. : AMOI
36. & : AND
37. "Medium hamburger and a Coke," e.g. : ORDER
41. Classic TV game show ... or what 18-, 25-, 55- and 66-Across are, in a way : HOLLYWOODSQUARES
46. Cub Scout leader named after a character in "The Jungle Book" : AKELA
47. Part of a hosp. with oxygen tents : ICU
48. Deviant, in slang : PERV
49. "On top of that ..." : ALSO
52. Innocent sort : NAIF
54. Soak (up) : SOP
55. 1984 Molly Ringwald coming-of-age comedy : SIXTEENCANDLES
60. Redwood or dogwood : TREE
61. Aunt: Sp. : TIA
62. Pub potables : ALES
64. Hearing-related : AURAL
66. 1996 Michelle Pfeiffer/George Clooney romantic comedy : ONEFINEDAY
71. Lip shine : GLOSS
72. First president to visit China : NIXON
73. Unclothed : NUDE
74. School health class, informally : SEXED
75. Rear of a ship : STERN
76. Long-armed banana lovers : APES
1. Suffix with north : ERN
2. Detective fiction genre : NOIR
3. Bite-size Krispy Kreme offering : DONUTHOLE
4. ___ Curry, 2015 and '16 N.B.A. M.V.P. : STEPH
5. China's ___ Zedong : MAO
6. ___ Arbor, Mich. : ANN
7. Summer hrs. in Colorado : MDT
8. Joy of "The View" : BEHAR
9. Passing a ball to a scorer, e.g. : ASSIST
10. Grads-to-be: Abbr. : SRS
11. Football helmet attachment : CHINSTRAP
12. Juliet's love : ROMEO
13. Decorate : ADORN
14. Gives a darn? : MENDS
19. Digital video file format : MPEG
23. Necklace for one in a hula skirt : LEI
26. Imperfection : FLAW
27. Wine: Prefix : OENO
28. Bring to naught : UNDO
29. Surname of the only M.L.B. brother trio to play together in the outfield : ALOU
30. ___ Men ("Who Let the Dogs Out" band) : BAHA
31. In a frenzy : AMOK
35. Uncomfortable : ILLATEASE
38. In one's Sunday best : DRESSEDUP
39. Designer Saarinen : EERO
40. Request in an invitation : RSVP
42. Last Ivy League school alphabetically : YALE
43. Actress Merrill : DINA
44. Digitize, as a document : SCAN
45. ___ pro quo : QUID
50. "Ready, ___, go!" : SET
51. They can bring tears to chefs' eyes : ONIONS
53. Custardy dessert : FLAN
55. Men-only parties : STAGS
56. "Go me!" : IRULE
57. Pioneer in photocopying : XEROX
58. "Zip your lip!" : CANIT
59. Justice Kagan : ELENA
63. One-named singer with the 1985 hit "Smooth Operator" : SADE
65. Drug for tripping : LSD
67. Palindromic file extension : EXE
68. In favor of : FOR
69. Word with Comfort or Holiday : INN
70. "Absolutely!" : YES

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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