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PUT A LID ON IT!

New York Times, Sunday, September 20, 2015

Author:
Jason Mueller and Jeff Chen
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
59/20/20154/2/20181
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1400000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.55001
Jason Mueller
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
957/5/20102/14/201957
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
2468172398
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.636202
Jeff Chen

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 142, Blocks: 82 Missing: none – this is a pangram. This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Mueller. This is puzzle # 42 for Mr. Chen. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
Jason Mueller: Hi, solvers, I'm proud to make my New York Times debut! About myself: I'm a University of Missouri alum (BS Physics and Mathematics; MA Economics) and former captain of the ... read more

Jason Mueller: Hi, solvers, I'm proud to make my New York Times debut! About myself: I'm a University of Missouri alum (BS Physics and Mathematics; MA Economics) and former captain of the Mizzou quiz bowl team. I started constructing about three years ago and have previously had a Sunday puzzle in the LA Times.

I got the idea to make a puzzle with people who wear hats with the hats appearing on top of the people around the time of this year's Oscar ceremony. I knew it was a good idea but a difficult one to pull off (what with the hats stacked directly on the main theme entries), so I asked Jeff to help and he came through, helping with choosing the theme entries, doing much of the heavy work with the fill, and polishing my draft of the clues.

We originally tried to fit a pillbox on Jackie Kennedy in the middle of the grid, but when that wouldn't fill cleanly, went for a kepi on Charles de Gaulle. Our original submission had LNG in the fill, so we came up with a revised version (but had to go to 142 words to make the fill clean). I noticed that Will and Joel changed MAA and SAT to MAO and SOT, which is a fine change.

Jeff Chen notes:
It usually takes 20+ ideas to come up with a good one. To Jason's credit, he kept at it, never giving up as we bounced around concepts. Finally, his idea of famous people 'wearing' their ... read more

It usually takes 20+ ideas to come up with a good one. To Jason's credit, he kept at it, never giving up as we bounced around concepts. Finally, his idea of famous people "wearing" their trademark hat amused both of us.

Calamity Jane with her Stetson

We wanted an even gender split, but we couldn't find many females with a trademark hat (Jackie Kennedy, couldn't you have worn a hat without an "X" in it?). Luckily Jason thought of CALAMITY JANE, so we kicked off the puzzle with her in the upper left. I usually try not to use REATA, but 1.) that corner was rough to fill, and 2.) it's amusing to have the STETSON atop her head and a REATA twirling above.

Speaking of grid-filling issues, yikes. We felt seven people would be minimum, otherwise solvers might find their experience thin. But it took 50ish skeletons, shifting people and hats around, before one finally looked feasible. (UNKEYED comes from my music background — apologies if it's not familiar to you.)

But in that grid, Will pointed out that LNG (liquid natural gas) would be rough for solvers. He was absolutely right. Even though we crossed those letters fairly, LNG was something I looked the other way for, because that single entry made the skeleton possible.

You'd think I'd learn after all this time.

So we rebooted. After dozens more iterations, I threw in the towel and suggested that we go up to 142 words. We were still able to incorporate a lot of long slots for snazzy fill, so thankfully Will gave the thumbs-up. Jason worked in a lot of good stuff like WHAT A GUY and TV DAD.

I'll fess up to OSA, an entry I really dislike. But it allowed for EMOJI, DATA SET, and LEFT JABS — three goodies for the price of an OSA. I still cringe at seeing it, but hopefully solvers will find the trade-off favorable.

Finally, we had to use much more glue than I like in a crossword, but with much more than average thematic material, plus the constraint of seven pairs of entries having to be right atop each other, having some was unavoidable.

Fun to work with Jason!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0920 ( 24,057 )
Across
1
Just : FAIR
5
Many lines of code : IFS
8
Legitimate : VALID
13
Demolish : RAZE
17
You can learn something by this : ROTE
18
Portrait overlooking Tiananmen Square : MAO
19
23-Across topper : FEDORA
20
One getting a tax write-off, maybe : DONOR
21
Filer's concern : IRSAUDIT
23
Fictional archaeologist : INDIANAJONES
25
28-Across topper : STETSON
26
Indigo plants : ANILS
27
Kramer's first name on "Seinfeld" : COSMO
28
Famed frontierswoman : CALAMITYJANE
30
Hip-hop name modifier : LIL
31
Publishing mogul, for short : HEF
32
Toughens, as metal : ANNEALS
33
Gain : WIN
34
40-Across topper : BERET
39
Post-boomer group : GENX
40
Subject of "Guerrillero Heroico" : CHEGUEVARA
42
Three-time Nobel Prize-winning organization : REDCROSS
47
Al Bundy or Phil Dunphy : TVDAD
49
Nixing phrase on movie night : SEENIT
50
Arctic jackets : ANORAKS
51
Shoplift, in slang : BOOST
52
Site of a miracle in Daniel 3 : FURNACE
53
They pop up in the morning : EGGOS
54
58-Across topper : KEPI
55
___ breve : ALLA
57
Shipmate : TAR
58
Leader of the Free French : CHARLESDEGAULLE
64
Quick shot? : PIC
67
Jack who ran for vice president in 1996 : KEMP
68
Chits : IOUS
69
Modern-day hieroglyph : EMOJI
73
South American rodents : AGOUTIS
76
Bugs, e.g. : BUNNY
78
Contents of a spreadsheet : DATASET
80
83-Across topper : BOWLER
81
Arctic masses : BERGS
82
Starts of some one-twos : LEFTJABS
83
He helped move a piano in "The Music Box" : STANLAUREL
85
Violinist Leopold : AUER
86
Like Mandarin or Cantonese : TONAL
87
Pinch : NIP
88
95-Across topper : PORKPIE
91
Loan source for a mom-and-pop store: Abbr. : SBA
94
Finish on a canvas? : TKO
95
Star of "Sherlock Jr." and "Steamboat Bill Jr." : BUSTERKEATON
97
102-Across topper : TOQUE
100
Giving goose bumps, say : EERIE
101
City about which Gertrude Stein said "There is no there there" : OAKLAND
102
Italian pitchman of note : CHEFBOYARDEE
105
Something cooks put stock in : CONSOMME
106
Catches a wave : SURFS
107
More indie, say : EDGIER
108
Absorbed : ATE
109
Queen of Jordan : NOOR
110
Ancient hieroglyph : IBIS
111
Sends to oblivion : DOOMS
112
Co. that originated Dungeons & Dragons : TSR
113
Ballpark amts. : ESTS
Down
1
Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project : FRISCH
2
Powerful bloodlines? : AORTAE
3
Word after in and of : ITSELF
4
Bit of cowboy gear : REATA
5
"Been better, been worse" : IMDOINGOK
6
Quality of voices in the distance : FAINTNESS
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Swillbelly : SOT
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Poison compounds produced by snakes : VENINS
9
Confuse : ADDLE
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Mom on "Family Guy" : LOIS
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Journalist Flatow : IRA
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Getting down, so to speak : DANCING
13
Leeway : ROOM
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___ Christi : ANNO
15
Actress Kravitz of "Mad Max: Fury Road" : ZOE
16
Triage locales, for short : ERS
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Like answers on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" : FINAL
20
Some club hires : DJS
22
West Point inits. : USMA
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Verizon purchase of 2015 : AOL
26
Title character in a Sophocles play : AJAX
29
Desires : YENS
30
Perjured oneself : LIED
33
"Isn't he great!" : WHATAGUY
34
Drink that's the subject of several rules in the Code of Hammurabi : BEER
35
Still : EVEN
36
Approached quickly : RANAT
37
Author Jong : ERICA
38
"Long ball" : TATER
40
Investment instruments, for short : CDS
41
Routine : USUAL
42
Pioneering Arctic explorer John : RAE
43
Like the 13 Colonies: Abbr. : ENG
44
Barker : DOG
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Pursuer of Capt. Hook : CROC
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Spate : RASH
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Twirlers : TOPS
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Invalidating : VOIDING
51
"Out of my way!" : BEEPBEEP
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___ bug : FLU
54
Continental carrier : KLM
56
Velázquez's "___ Meninas" : LAS
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Director Kurosawa : AKIRA
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Like some tel. nos. : RES
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Eternities : EONS
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Baltic native : LETT
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Key with four sharps: Abbr. : EMAJ
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Coors competitor : PABST
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Billy Joel's "___ Extremes" : IGOTO
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Wes of PBS's "History Detectives" : COWAN
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Spanish she-bear : OSA
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One of the Bushes : JEB
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Post-___ : ITS
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It parallels a radius : ULNA
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Opposite of a poker face : TELL
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Website necessity : URL
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A long-established history : DEEPROOTS
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Literature Nobelist J. M. Coetzee, by birth : AFRIKANER
81
Gusto : BRIO
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Bo's cousin on "The Dukes of Hazzard" : LUKE
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Discordant, to some : UNKEYED
85
Museo contents : ARTE
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Mashes into a pulp : PUREES
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Basketry material : OSIER
90
Cartoon cries : EEKS
91
Actor John of "Full House" : STAMOS
92
Bit of wit : BONMOT
93
Angström or Celsius : ANDERS
94
Your, in Siena : TUO
95
Darken : BEDIM
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Solo : ALONE
97
Hatcher who was a Bond girl : TERI
98
Slays, informally : OFFS
99
Ones going for hikes, for short? : QBS
100
As a result : ERGO
102
CBS show with a 15-year run ending in 2015 : CSI
103
Nucleus : HUB
104
Kerfuffle : ADO
105
Cool dude : CAT

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?