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New York Times, Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Author: Kevin Christian
Editor: Will Shortz
Kevin Christian
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75/22/20137/25/20163
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ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65011

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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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 ... more
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 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
6
T
7
A
8
D
9
T
10
Z
11
U
12
S
13
O
U
T
E
14
R
15
T
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G
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16
H
E
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A
17
T
H
E
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E
18
A
G
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19
E
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T
20
D
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W
B
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M
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23
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C
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P
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B
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26
C
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27
C
E
A
L
28
E
L
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29
O
M
N
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30
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F
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E
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33
M
34
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G
36
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E
E
D
37
S
T
E
A
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38
M
O
T
H
39
E
R
R
40
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H
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41
P
A
B
L
O
42
S
O
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D
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A
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E
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45
P
H
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E
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H
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M
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L
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T
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F
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L
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C
51
L
E
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L
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N
T
54
E
U
B
55
I
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E
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A
W
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E
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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 0924 ( 23,331 )
Across Down
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
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: 4 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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