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New York Times, Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Author:
Kevin Christian
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
105/22/20133/25/20194
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0522010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Kevin Christian

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JKQVX} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Christian. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Kevin Christian notes:
I had a lot of theme entries I wanted to use for this puzzle, so intersecting and stacking them seemed like a good way to fit as many ... read more

I had a lot of theme entries I wanted to use for this puzzle, so intersecting and stacking them seemed like a good way to fit as many of them into the puzzle as possible. I lucked out in getting the intersecting letters to match up, and in getting the pairs of letters in the stacked entries to all yield possible perps.

The WP combo was tough, but I figured out that I could put either WPA or WPM there. I'm not that crazy about "TOGAE" at 6-Down because in real life most people would say "TOGAS," but I needed a word with an AE there so that's what I used there. I desperately wanted to fit another 5-letter theme entry at 37-Across to go with the ones I had at 23-Down and 35-Down, but I just couldn't come up with anything that would fit, so I ended up with no theme material in the center of the puzzle.

I spent a lot of time on this puzzle. I'm not sure how much. Probably over 40 hours. I built several versions of the grid that I rejected, and kept going back and moving black squares and changing fill, until I finally came up with something that I felt had clean enough fill to submit. Most experienced constructors will tell you that trying to cram too much theme material into a puzzle is a mistake, and I agree with that, but every once in a while it can work out.

Will Shortz notes:
I'm astonished by the amount of theme material Kevin managed to wedge into this puzzle, some of it even stacked and/or crossing other ... read more

I'm astonished by the amount of theme material Kevin managed to wedge into this puzzle, some of it even stacked and/or crossing other theme entries. At the last minute, just before editing, I decided this puzzle needed a theme "explainer," so the circled E and T were my idea. The E was already in place. The center-right and lower-right sections of the grid were revised to get the circled T in a symmetrical position.

Jeff Chen notes:
Enjoyable to hear the interplay between constructor and editor. Nice puzzle today, made nicer with Will's touch of adding the circled ... read more

Enjoyable to hear the interplay between constructor and editor. Nice puzzle today, made nicer with Will's touch of adding the circled E and T. If only the puzzle could add a sensory element to those circles, making them taste like REESES PIECES. Seriously, we have smartphones and life-saving medical devices but no one's invented "Solve N Taste" yet? Constructors: contact me for Solve N Taste® licensing rights.

An unusual layout today. I always appreciate seeing something different out of a construction, if nothing else to break convention and open one's mind to what else is possible. And this grid certainly allows Kevin to work in a lot of good stuff about a memorable movie. A drawback is that the short thematic material tends to get lost in the shuffle (I've highlighted all the theme material in the grid below to help it stand out). For some, that may not be an issue at all, but in my opinion it causes a slight loss of elegance (n.b.: some might see this layout as having increased elegance, due to the high degree of theme interlock). Additionally, the cross-referencing (OUTER/SPACE and REESES/PIECES) often causes complaints from solvers, forcing them to jump around as they solve.

Amazing that Kevin was able to jam in some long fill too, even given all the thematic constraints. DOORBELL and THE MRS are especially nice. EAR DOCTOR is a real profession (otologist), yes, but as a phrase, isn't not as snazzy as the other long fill. And given that the north and south sections suffer a bit with STER, AGIO, A GIRL, I might have preferred less long fill if it meant getting rid of some of that. But it's hard to say if breaking up some long answers would even be possible with this layout (without making the puzzle feel too segmented).

Overall, neat theme idea with a lot of good stuff packed in.

1
S
2
H
3
A
4
H
5
S
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T
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A
8
D
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T
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Z
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U
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T
E
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R
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H
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A
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T
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P
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D
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0924 ( 23,331 )

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Across
1
Deposed leader of 1979 : SHAH
5
Suffix meaning "city" in some European place names : STAD
9
Shih ___ (diminutive dogs) : TZUS
13
With 59-Across, where [circled letters] came from : OUTER
15
Like a drive-thru order : TOGO
16
"For ___ jolly good fellow" : HESA
17
When repeated, consoling words : THERE
18
Charge for currency exchange : AGIO
19
Once, old-style : ERST
20
Child actress who appeared with [circled letters] : DREWBARRYMORE
23
Biol., e.g. : SCI
25
Creator of [circled letters] : SPIELBERG
26
Palm, as a playing card : CONCEAL
28
Golf's Ernie : ELS
29
Dodge models until 1990 : OMNIS
30
Possible answer to "How'd you hurt yourself?" : IFELL
33
Site of four sold-out 1972 Elvis Presley concerts, for short : MSG
36
Swamp growth : REED
37
Base runner's attempt : STEAL
38
Wool lover : MOTH
39
Go astray : ERR
40
Not so outgoing : SHYER
41
Painter Picasso : PABLO
42
"... or ___ gather" : SOI
43
Some Wisconsin farms : DAIRIES
45
What [circled letters] wanted to do : PHONEHOME
48
Bunch : LOT
49
Means of escape for [circled letters] : FLYINGBICYCLE
52
It's cast : ROLE
53
Time to give up? : LENT
54
Jazz's Blake : EUBIE
57
Wayward G.I. : AWOL
58
Therefore : ERGO
59
See 13-Across : SPACE
60
Be inclined (to) : TEND
61
Suffix with prank : STER
62
Observer : EYER
Down
1
Lush : SOT
2
"Come again?" : HUH
3
Had an evening meal : ATEDINNER
4
Frau's mate : HERR
5
What a gyroscope may provide : STABILITY
6
Forum robes : TOGAE
7
"It's ___!" (birth announcement) : AGIRL
8
Avon commercial sound : DOORBELL
9
One's wife, informally : THEMRS
10
Free-fall effect, briefly : ZEROG
11
"Back in the ___" : USSR
12
Suffice, foodwise : SATE
14
With 41-Down, composition of a trail followed by [circled letters] : REESES
21
New Deal inits. : WPA
22
Cheerleader's cheer : YELL
23
Best Original ___ (award for the film with [circled letters]) : SCORE
24
Rising star : COMER
27
Spanish hero El ___ : CID
31
Checking charge : FEE
32
One using an otoscope : EARDOCTOR
33
Locale of an 1864 Civil War blockade : MOBILEBAY
34
Fifth-century pope with the epithet "the Great" : STLEO
35
Costume for [circled letters] on Halloween : GHOST
37
They're "hung out" by professionals : SHINGLES
38
Scratch : MAR
40
Anon : SOON
41
See 14-Down : PIECES
42
Warrior's aid : SHIELD
44
Adams of "The Fighter" : AMY
45
Traffic cone : PYLON
46
Late thumb-turning critic : EBERT
47
Stamp collector's fastener : HINGE
49
"Animal House" house : FRAT
50
Rob of "The West Wing" : LOWE
51
"Little Latin ___ Lu" (1966 hit) : LUPE
55
Freezer stock : ICE
56
Suffix with slogan : EER

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

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