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New York Times, Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Author:
Ed Sessa
Editor:
Will Shortz
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379/10/200710/16/20180
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4967452
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64251
Edward Sessa

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQVZ} This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Sessa. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Edward Sessa notes:
I think one would have had to be a teenager or adult during the '60s to really appreciate how much a game-changer 'The Twist' was to ... read more

I think one would have had to be a teenager or adult during the '60s to really appreciate how much a game-changer "The Twist" was to American song/dance culture. The puzzle happened only because Chubby Checker had a serendipitous letter-match in "nineteen sixty." I wish I had been able to lift a circled phrase from the original song but had to settle for words from Checker's song a year later. Just a straightforward puzzle with a little twist.

Will Shortz notes:
Anytime a puzzle contains triply-checked letters, like the circled ones here, there are likely to be compromises in the fill. The ... read more

Anytime a puzzle contains triply-checked letters, like the circled ones here, there are likely to be compromises in the fill. The middle section of this grid has more unappealing entries than I like — especially CES, SDS, NLERS, ALAI, ASTA, SNO, and DAL. So the question becomes ... is the "aha" strong enough to outweigh the puzzle's weaknesses? In this case, obviously, I thought the answer was yes.

Jeff Chen notes:
What a nice visual, a twist-related lyric 'twisting' down the center of the puzzle. Makes for a pretty picture and also gives a lift ... read more

What a nice visual, a twist-related lyric "twisting" down the center of the puzzle. Makes for a pretty picture and also gives a lift to hear that catchy line running through my head.

What does Will mean by "triply-checked"? Ah, the dreaded diagonal. Constructors typically avoid working with diagonal entries, because they quickly constrain all the regions they run through. A short diagonal entry isn't that tough to work with, but start increasing the length and the difficulty level quickly escalates. Ed does a nice job of isolating his twisting entry through the use of 1.) black squares, 2.) spreading his themers as far away as possible, and 3.) using a 78-word puzzle.

The black squares are such a helpful factor. Check out the blocks separating the E O N of COME ON. If those hadn't been there, Ed would have had to find words that are "triply-checked" i.e. they have to work with the diagonal, the horizontal, and the vertical words. No fun. The fact that the themers are pushed to the sides and thus only minimally interact with the "twist" is also helpful. Finally, going up to the max of 78 words allows Ed to deploy a whole lot of black squares throughout the middle of the puzzle, reducing the "triply-checked" areas.

Anytime there are few long theme entries — this one only has two which take up long slots — you'll need to incorporate long fill. I like the ones Ed selects; sparkly indeed. It was sort of neat that WALL SOCKET and POWER STRIP were related, although it made me wonder if I was missing something, i.e. was CHUBBY CHECKER's original job an electrician? (Perhaps it's that he electrified the world?) POWER STRIP does unfortunately constrain that west section, making for the awkward CLEW and A REED. I tried modeling that to see if it was easy to clean up, and it was not. Perhaps an alternate piece of fill to POWER STRIP could have made it smoother?

But all in all, a fantastic visual impact which I'm sure will have high resonance to those who witnessed the CHUBBY CHECKER craze firsthand. Even for those of us who didn't, I found it a fun way to learn a bit more about that period in American music.

1
L
2
O
3
B
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D
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A
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C
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H
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A
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S
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C
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R
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A
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G
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A
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O
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M
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B
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M
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C
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K
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K
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0909 ( 23,681 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. Easy toss : LOB
4. Country getaways, in Russia : DACHAS
10. Cliff feature : CRAG
14. Start of a Latin trio : AMO
15. Support, as a principle : UPHOLD
16. Subject of Dante's "Inferno" : HELL
17. Behavioral quirks : MANNERISMS
19. Together, in France : UNIE
20. Oven button : BROIL
21. These, to Thérèse : CES
22. Addis ___, Ethiopia : ABABA
23. Sub commander of fiction : NEMO
25. Home to James Joyce : DUBLIN
26. Bow (to) : ACCEDE
29. Smartly attired : NATTY
31. See 39-Across : SALT
32. Electricity source : WALLSOCKET
37. Thin as ___ : AREED
39. With 31-Across, natural flavor enhancer : SEA
40. Noted performing whale : SHAMU
41. Electricity source : POWERSTRIP
44. Environmental activist Brockovich : ERIN
45. Many babysitters : NANAS
46. Pepsi competitor : RCCOLA
48. Round a certain corner in Monopoly : PASSGO
51. Brought (along) : TOOK
52. "No" voters : ANTIS
53. Number often given to a maitre d' : TWO
55. Brown-toned photo : SEPIA
59. River to 16-Across : STYX
60. Class outings : FIELDTRIPS
62. Pinball infraction : TILT
63. Open, as a letter : UNSEAL
64. Pond fish : KOI
65. ___-deucey : ACEY
66. Noisy like a clunker : RATTLY
67. Hollywood's Harris and Helms : EDS
Down
1. Very soft fleece source : LAMB
2. Poet Khayyám : OMAR
3. Cher's son Chaz : BONO
4. Crossed swords : DUELED
5. Mo. when Shakespeare was born : APR
6. TV's "___ and the Man" : CHICO
7. Cheat, in slang : HOSE
8. Old-fashioned charity : ALMS
9. Onetime New Left org. : SDS
10. Starter of a dance craze in 18-Down : CHUBBYCHECKER
11. Kidney-related : RENAL
12. "I was home watching TV," e.g. : ALIBI
13. Gather bit by bit : GLEAN
18. See 10-Down : NINETEENSIXTY
22. BMWs, but not BMXs : AUTOS
24. Kitten call : MEW
25. The shakes, with "the" : DTS
26. Rush order : ASAP
27. Dear one, Italian-style : CARO
28. Discovery in a British mystery : CLEW
29. Reds and Pirates, for short : NLERS
30. Jai ___ : ALAI
33. Dog of 1930s-'40s mysteries : ASTA
34. Corn syrup brand : KARO
35. Jannings who won the first Best Actor Oscar : EMIL
36. ___ roll (sushi offering) : TUNA
38. Proceeds like a boring meeting : DRAGS
42. ___-Caps (movie candy) : SNO
43. For, in a debate : PRO
47. Like a mistake that's going to hurt you : COSTLY
48. Lasagna or linguine : PASTA
49. Three Stooges bit : ANTIC
50. Fashion sense : STYLE
51. Apartment rental sign : TOLET
53. Turner who sang "The Best," 1989 : TINA
54. Last part of the country to report election returns, usually, with "the" : WEST
56. Highway : PIKE
57. "Mini" music player : IPOD
58. How used goods are often sold : ASIS
60. Lab's coat : FUR
61. The Cowboys, on a scoreboard : DAL

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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