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New York Times, Monday, September 19, 2016

Author:
Zhouqin Burnikel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
6111/13/20123/18/201919
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620175472
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1.56281
Zhouqin Burnikel

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 off-putting. ... read more

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 ... read more

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.

1
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N
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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0919 ( 24,422 )
Across
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
Down
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: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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