New York Times, Saturday, March 22, 2014

Author: Greg Johnson
Editor: Will Shortz
Greg Johnson
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
512/16/20131/7/20150
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0301001
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64110

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 70, Blocks: 27 Missing: {CK} This is puzzle # 2 for Mr. Johnson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Greg Johnson notes: I've been constructing seriously now for about two years and this is one of my first themeless attempts. I learned a lot making ... more
Greg Johnson notes: I've been constructing seriously now for about two years and this is one of my first themeless attempts. I learned a lot making this one ... which was done mostly on my cell phone during work breaks.

I like ZOO EXHIBIT and HOME PORT, and even though my favorite clues were rejected, I'm still pleased overall. The clue for GRAPE JELLY was originally about meatballs.

Thanks to Will and Jeff and everyone else in the cru community. The comments provided have been most helpful.

Jeff Chen notes: Good showing from Greg, only his second NYT puzzle. Some really nice debut entries plus a good number of tough clues made for a good ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Good showing from Greg, only his second NYT puzzle. Some really nice debut entries plus a good number of tough clues made for a good hard Saturday workout. I loved seeing ZOO EXHIBITS along with its deceptive clue [One often behind bars], making me think about criminal repeat offenders. Gave me a nice smile when I finally uncovered it.

Greg brings us an unusual grid, in that the NW and SE are segmented off from the rest of the puzzle, only one entrance into those sections apiece. Typically I like to see more flow within a themeless grid — I was able to work my way into the SE fairly easily, but the difficulty of that NW section and its only entry, ZOO EXHIBIT, made it fell like a mini-puzzle I had to solve after the rest of the puzzle. Not ideal, but I'm sure many will have no problems getting into those closed-off sections.

But really, really nice job on those closed-off areas. A 6x6 region will by nature be tough to fill cleanly, as there's no short entries available to glue everything together. Greg had to work with a 6/6/6/6/5 crossing a 6/6/6/5/5 section, which is no small feat. And he comes out beautifully, nary a bad entry in either section. Some will point out YTD as not so hot, but being on two Finance Committees for local non-profits, I loved seeing it. The SE was even prettier, another Z worked smoothly in, along with SYDNEY and its good bit of trivia.

What, you thought Greenland was a continent? Ha ha ha! Only silly billys and uneducated boors and certain crossword analysts who sit on Finance Committees would think that. Ha ha ha!

Not a huge fan of certain entries like RENTABLE and ALTERANT which certainly are words, but feel like they just take up space in a themeless grid. But those parts of the grid (8x3 stack intersecting another 8x3 stack) makes it very difficult to fill both cleanly and with snazz. As with all themelesses, there are trade-off: the wide-open NE and SW corners make the beautiful NW and SE corners possible.

1
F
2
L
3
E
4
W
5
B
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Y
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G
8
E
9
S
10
T
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A
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T
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S
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R
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A
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A
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D
18
Z
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P
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V
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E
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O
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T
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X
A
S
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L
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Z
O
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X
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H
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B
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T
O
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E
N
D
S
26
O
D
O
R
27
M
A
R
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O
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P
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S
E
X
T
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H
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E
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R
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A
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D
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34
L
E
G
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35
O
P
A
Q
U
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L
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M
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M
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A
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J
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P
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G
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N
N
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F
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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,510
Across Down
1. Passed in a blur, say : FLEWBY
7. Develops gradually : GESTATES
15. Smoking : REDHOT
16. Change-making : ALTERANT
17. Where to look for self-growth : INWARD
18. Obsolescent storage device : ZIPDRIVE
19. Historic first name in W.W. II : ENOLA
20. Locale of three presidential libraries : TEXAS
21. Fried : LIT
22. One often behind bars : ZOOEXHIBIT
24. Ditch : TOSS
25. Doesn't carry on : ENDS
26. Oxygen's lack : ODOR
27. Rescuer of Princess Peach : MARIO
28. Near: Fr. : PRES
29. Churchyard gravedigger : SEXTON
30. Signs of things to come : HERALDS
34. Truckloads : LEGIONS
35. Hard to grasp : OPAQUE
36. Remains after the aging process : LEES
37. Opposite of 28-Down : MINUS
38. Santa's reindeer, e.g. : TEAM
39. Some sharp words : SASS
43. Lou's "La Bamba" co-star : ESAI
44. Concord concoction : GRAPEJELLY
46. Many a "Meet the Press" guest, informally : POL
47. Swindler's moola : GRIFT
48. Hiked : UPPED
49. She had a single-season stint on "The View" : ODONNELL
51. Many a worker at Union Pacific headquarters : OMAHAN
52. Like Enterprise vehicles : RENTABLE
53. Fired up? : ABLAZE
54. Best, as friends : TIGHTEST
55. One of Leakey's "Trimates" : FOSSEY
1. Decorated band along a wall : FRIEZE
2. "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination" speaker : LENNON
3. He directed Bela Lugosi in "Bride of the Monster" : EDWOOD
4. High rollers, in casino lingo : WHALES
5. Cheap, shoddy merchandise : BORAX
6. Financial statement abbr. : YTD
7. Outdoor wedding settings : GAZEBOS
8. Alchemist's offering : ELIXIR
9. Green party V.I.P.? : STPAT
10. Three Stooges creator Healy and others : TEDS
11. Concourse abbr. : ARR
12. Personalize for : TAILORTO
13. Picture : ENVISION
14. Troopers' toppers : STETSONS
20. Almanac info : TIDES
23. Large pack : HORDE
24. Get set to take off : TAXI
27. What an 18-Across's capacity is measured in, briefly : MEGS
28. Opposite of 37-Across : PLUS
29. Message sometimes written below "F" : SEEME
30. Regular embarkation location : HOMEPORT
31. Series starter : EPISODEI
32. Left : RANALONG
33. "___ se habla español" : AQUI
34. Did an entrechat : LEAPT
36. Flier : LEAFLET
38. Voice lesson subjects : TRILLS
39. Protection for flowers in bud : SEPALS
40. Socially dominant sorts : ALPHAS
41. Dirty rat : SLEAZE
42. Biggest city on the smallest continent : SYDNEY
44. Diving bird : GREBE
45. Mammoth : JUMBO
47. Cookout irritant : GNAT
50. ___ root (math quantity) : NTH
51. Bungler : OAF

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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