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UNITED KINGDOM

New York Times, Sunday, September 3, 2017

Author:
Andrew Zhou
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
1611/11/20109/23/20180
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3021532
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64241
Andrew Zhou

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 136, Blocks: 74 Missing: {XZ} This is puzzle # 14 for Mr. Zhou. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Andrew Zhou notes:
Who ISN'T captivated by stories of unusual animal friendships? This list of theme entries took a while to get right (and still, only a few weeks ago, I realized STEPHENHAWKING's name ... read more

Who ISN'T captivated by stories of unusual animal friendships?

This list of theme entries took a while to get right (and still, only a few weeks ago, I realized STEPHENHAWKING's name also has this property). The original submission contained DRONESTAGRAM, an Instagram-type site for aerial photos, but for Will, it was less "three's company" than "three's a crowd."

Upon revision, which required nearly the whole puzzle to be razed, interesting entries like 55-across presented themselves—I dedicate that to all my friends who attended this fine institution. Many are musicians, composers, and puzzlers, incidentally. I learned about 107D (EGOT) from "30 Rock," produced by 20D (LORNE Michaels). 78D has a property that I hope will cause some solvers to consider 96A (You might pass one in a race) to be BACON. 119A came up in the revision; after I emailed Will about greenlighting its usage, he replied: "SNOT-NOSED is a little rude, so it's something I would try not to use. Still, if it makes for the best fill, go ahead."

On that note, I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable long weekend.

Jeff Chen notes:
Just when I think I've seen it all when it comes to 'words hidden in phrases' themes, something innovative crops up. Kudos to Andrew for doing something new with it — finding words ... read more

Just when I think I've seen it all when it comes to "words hidden in phrases" themes, something innovative crops up. Kudos to Andrew for doing something new with it — finding words like LAMB inside phrases is one thing, but finding connected word pairs like LAMB / ASS is on a different level!

Great revealer in ANIMAL MAGNETISM, too. I've seen this phrase used in a couple of crosswords now, and it's cool to get so many different interpretations from different constructors. It would have been incredible to get theme phrases that had the male / female animal-specific terms, like BULL / COW or COCK / HEN, but I imagine that's impossible.

I did wonder if this would have made for a better weekday (15x15) puzzle than a Sunday, as the theme was straightforward once I figured out the gist. But there's something nice about a straightforward Sunday puzzle once in a while — I imagine that some (many?) novice Sunday solvers breathe a huge sigh of relief when the theme is something they can easily understand.

I also thought Andrew did a great job in executing his grid, going down to 136 words to give solvers an extra challenge ... WITHOUT COMPROMISING MUCH to accomplish this. To work in bonuses like NINJA LOANS, STAGE NAME, IMPROVISE, PAW PRINT, NEW MOON, etc. with just a smattering of ILO, DCI, GAOL, LITRE, TAE, is fantastic work. I did worry at first after encountering both ILO and DCI right off the bat, but thankfully, that didn't persist.

I think Sunday constructors need to earn their right to work with sub-140 word puzzles, as a great majority accept bad compromises to dip into those difficult waters. I'd give Andrew that green light based on his standout execution.

Not a mind-blowing theme, but I enjoyed the added level of complexity in the "words hidden within phrases" genre. Along with sharp execution featuring great bonuses in the fill, this one gets my POW!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0903 ( 24,771 )
Across
1. Mayhem : DISORDER
9. Bowfishing need : ARROW
14. Happy event after a split? : SPARE
19. Really happening : ULTRACOOL
21. "Don Juan" girl : LEILA
22. Prince of ___ : WALES
23. *Law enforcer with the Coast Guard : BOARDINGOFFICER
25. "___ we lucky?" : ARENT
26. Nat ___ Wild (cable channel) : GEO
27. More decisive : SURER
28. Place for stars : MARQUEE
30. Buffet heater : STERNO
33. *It passes on some bits of information : INTERNETROUTER
37. What the last letter of 107-Down stands for : TONY
38. Very puzzled : ATSEA
40. Record collection? : ARCHIVE
41. Constellation next to Corona Australis : ARA
42. ___ Jahan, leader who commissioned the Taj Mahal : SHAH
43. ___ Jorge (part of the Azores) : SAO
44. Little sucker? : STRAW
48. *Philosopher who wrote "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made" : IMMANUELKANT
53. "Works for me" : OKSURE
54. Company known for combining expertise? : DEERE
55. Presidents Taft, Ford, Clinton and both Bushes : YALEALUMNI
59. Remain : LIE
60. What the Tower of London was for over 850 years : GAOL
63. Adhere (to) : HEW
64. Utter, as a sound : EMIT
65. One put in bed? : SEED
66. *Celebrities working for the U.N., perhaps : GOODWILLAMBASSADORS
71. Disposition : BENT
72. International fusion restaurant chain : NOBU
73. Hall-of-Fame Bruin : ORR
74. Tater : SPUD
75. Common Korean surname : LEE
76. Low-quality bank offerings whose acronym suggests stealthiness : NINJALOANS
79. A little teary : MOIST
83. Peevish : INAPET
85. *Certain photo poster : INSTAGRAMMER
88. Island nation that was once part of the Spanish East Indies : PALAU
89. TV's NBA on ___ : TNT
91. Tribe that gave its name to a state : UTES
92. Grp. of people puttering around? : PGA
93. Tow truck : WRECKER
96. You might pass one in a race : BATON
98. Onetime Yankee nickname : AROD
99. *Business bigwigs : CORPORATEELITE
103. Seep through : OSMOSE
105. Like a bogey : OVERPAR
106. Tie up quickly? : ELOPE
108. Cleveland athlete, familiarly : CAV
109. Educator Montessori : MARIA
110. Sex appeal ... or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues : ANIMALMAGNETISM
117. Main force : BRUNT
118. Bring to a full amount : TOPUP
119. Bratty : SNOTNOSED
120. Big instrument in electronic music, informally : SYNTH
121. Pillow covers : SHAMS
122. Washington newsmaker of 1980 : STHELENS
Down
1. Start to call : DUB
2. U.N. workers' grp. : ILO
3. Handle in the entertainment industry : STAGENAME
4. Solar system model : ORRERY
5. Home testing kit target : RADON
6. Early seventh-century year : DCI
7. Very long spans : EONS
8. In a mischievous manner : ROGUISHLY
9. Actress Woodard : ALFRE
10. Big seller of outdoor gear : REI
11. Ocasek of the Cars : RIC
12. Call with a charge? : OLE
13. Geniality : WARMTH
14. Crystal jewelry company with a swan in its logo : SWAROVSKI
15. Some patterned floors : PARQUETS
16. Fox Islands dweller : ALEUT
17. ___ Elise Goldsberry, 37-Across winner for "Hamilton" : RENEE
18. Poly- follower : ESTER
20. TV producer Michaels : LORNE
24. Cheese often served with olives : FETA
29. Hebrew name meaning 62-Down : ARI
30. Unadventurous : STAID
31. Crooner with the autobiography "It Wasn't All Velvet" : TORME
32. U.S.S. Missouri's resting site : OAHU
34. Person who's dreaded? : RASTA
35. Publisher of the magazine America's 1st Freedom, for short : NRA
36. Prefix with system : ECO
39. ___ Bo (workout system) : TAE
42. Golf's Slammin' Sammy : SNEAD
45. It helps keep things straight : RULER
46. First sign of spring : ARIES
47. Wacky tobacky, in part : WEED
49. Lingo : ARGOT
50. One-third of a B-52 cocktail : KAHLUA
51. "___ iacta est" ("The die is cast") : ALEA
52. First phase : NEWMOON
53. Draft status? : ONTAP
56. Mastered, British-style : LEARNT
57. Conversation fillers : UMS
58. "___ me?" : MISS
61. Take responsibility for something : OWNIT
62. Safari sighting : LION
65. Site of biblical destruction : SODOM
66. Davis of "Thelma & Louise" : GEENA
67. Heat center of old? : ONEAL
68. War on Poverty prez : LBJ
69. Things displayed by mannequins : BRAS
70. "The Lady of the Camellias" author, 1848 : DUMAS
71. Dot on a screen : BLIP
76. One suffering from numbness, maybe : NEUROPATH
77. Unit of petrol : LITRE
78. Browning vessels : SAUTEPANS
80. Do make-up work? : IMPROVISE
81. Plants with bell-shaped blooms : SEGOS
82. Pokémon card transaction : TRADE
84. Penn State symbol : PAWPRINT
86. Old Pontiac : GTO
87. Western city bisected by I-80 : RENO
89. B'way buy : TKT
90. Eleanor Roosevelt ___ Roosevelt : NEE
94. Soviet ___ : ERA
95. Diamond figures : CARATS
96. Ten or twenty : BILL
97. Little bits : ATOMS
98. Big bang creator : AMATOL
99. Rooster displays : COMBS
100. Gynecologist's concern : OVARY
101. Many a late-night cable show : RERUN
102. Bounds : LEAPS
104. Word with crime or bar : SCENE
107. Acronym for an acting/singing awards sweep : EGOT
111. Plays performed in shozoku robes : NOH
112. Hoppy quaff, briefly : IPA
113. Closemouthed : MUM
114. Utmost : NTH
115. One in 100: Abbr. : SEN
116. O.R. figures : MDS

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 3 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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