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New York Times, Monday, January 29, 2018

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
9012/9/197912/2/20192
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
664142130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610912
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {FQ} This is puzzle # 81 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes:
This was an idea that came together fairly quickly once it occurred to me. But it did undergo one major transformation. The obvious ... read more

This was an idea that came together fairly quickly once it occurred to me. But it did undergo one major transformation. The obvious first thought was to have small, medium, and large in phrases going down, with the downsizing revealer as the final, fourth entry. But then MUMBO JUMBO came to mind and was too perfect to disregard. That left the revealer for the spot where you find it now.

The grid constraint was that I wanted the size words to go sequentially down the grid as well as just being down entries. Which meant finding answers and placing them such that each keyword was lower than the previous one.

The turnaround on this puzzle was astoundingly fast. I sent it in at the tail end of October and got an acceptance email on January 10. And here it is still January. Maybe a record.

In looking this over, I can see I made some compromises. LASSI, ESSES, and ET ALII, as well as good old IDI, would not be my pick of fill. But that was the best I could do without changing the basic grid design.

Will did make one teeny grid change. At 7-Across, I had BMI rather than TGI. Most clues were unchanged. As I looked them over, I did pause at the one he substituted for PARK, thinking, What the heck is PRNDL? I had to laugh at that one.

Jeff Chen notes:
Who knew that DOWNSIZE-ing could be fun? I've highlighted the key words to make Lynn's creative take stand out. SMALL to MEDIUM to ... read more

Who knew that DOWNSIZE-ing could be fun? I've highlighted the key words to make Lynn's creative take stand out. SMALL to MEDIUM to LARGE to … JUMBO? Hard to find a good phrase hiding the word EXTRA LARGE, I suppose!

Loved SMALL WORLD; great phrase. To me, that was the standout of the four themers. MUMBO JUMBO was the snazziest of the bunch, but JUMBO didn't feel quite right in the size progression. I so badly wanted XL — stupid t-shirt industry with its indoctrination!

(We snooty Seattleites know that the proper term for "ridiculously large" is VENTI.)

PRINT MEDIUM … I'm so used to seeing it in the plural, PRINT MEDIA, that I struggled to stretch MEDIA across those last six boxes. And an AT LARGE RACE does appear to be a phrase in usage, but it didn't roll off my tongue as I said it to myself.

Not as smooth as Lynn's Monday puzzles are. Lynn mentioned many of these already, but kicking off with ET ALII, tough for newbies, some OPEL, LASSI (generally fine, but a lot of possibility to turn off newer solvers), ISA, TGI, both ELLS and ESSES. Oof!

Why so much? This layout is a little unusual — the placement of DOWNSIZE takes up valuable real estate. And check out how SMALL WORLD and PRINT MEDIUM aren't staggered, like adjacent themers usually would be. (PRINT MEDIUM would usually be shoved all the way to the bottom of the puzzle, for better spacing.) That creates problems in the NW corner.

But I did appreciate Lynn's efforts to give some bonuses here and there. MODEL UN was great, as was REDDIWIP and VAMOOSE.

Overall, I felt like Lynn's original idea of just a SMALL MEDIUM LARGE progression, along with DOWNSIZE (perhaps split as DOWN / SIZE across the middle row?) would have made for a tidier Monday puzzle. Neat concept, cool idea that I hadn't seen before — but I wouldn't recommend the puzzle as executed to newbies.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0129 ( 24,919 )
Across
1
Scuttlebutt : GOSSIP
7
___ Fridays (restaurant chain) : TGI
10
Slob's creation : MESS
14
Hedy in Hollywood : LAMARR
15
Dessert topper from a can : REDDIWIP
17
And others, in a bibliography : ETALII
18
Estrange : ALIENATE
19
Org. for Penguins and Ducks : NHL
20
Wintry coating : SNOW
22
Vice president Spiro : AGNEW
23
Cunning : SLY
25
Spill the beans : TELLALL
28
Online source for health info : WEBMD
30
Take a stab at : ATTEMPT
34
"Ye olde" place to browse : SHOPPE
36
Up to, as a particular time : TIL
37
Govern : RULE
38
Goopy roofing material : TAR
39
High U.S. Navy rank : ADMIRAL
42
Farrow in films : MIA
43
Building annexes : ELLS
45
Particle with a charge : ION
46
Thief : ROBBER
48
Students' simulation of global diplomacy, informally : MODELUN
50
Arctic abode : IGLOO
51
"Scram!" : VAMOOSE
53
Sleepover attire, informally : PJS
55
Twisty curves : ESSES
58
The "P" of PRNDL : PARK
60
Scanned lines on a pkg. : UPC
62
Diminish the work force ... or a literal hint to the answers to the four starred clues : DOWNSIZE
65
Deficiency in red blood cells : ANEMIA
67
Ship-related : NAUTICAL
68
Searched thoroughly, with "through" : COMBED
69
Fighting force : ARMY
70
Raises : UPS
71
Praises highly : EXTOLS
Down
1
"Galveston" singer Campbell : GLEN
2
Inauguration Day vows : OATHS
3
*"Crazy to run into you here!" : SMALLWORLD
4
Erie Canal mule of song : SAL
5
Blue or hazel eye part : IRIS
6
*Newspapers or magazines : PRINTMEDIUM
7
Fish with a heavy net : TRAWL
8
Form of some shampoo : GEL
9
Amin exiled from Uganda : IDI
10
One circulating at a party : MINGLER
11
"Trainspotting" actor McGregor : EWAN
12
Building lot : SITE
13
Spurt forcefully : SPEW
16
Gave a hand : DEALT
21
Brit. resource for writers : OED
24
"You betcha!" : YEP
26
Den : LAIR
27
*Contest for an areawide seat : ATLARGERACE
29
Controversial chemical in plastics, for short : BPA
31
*Nonsense : MUMBOJUMBO
32
Ballerina's bend : PLIE
33
Drop running down the cheek : TEAR
34
Pipe part : STEM
35
Angel's band of light : HALO
36
Sardine container : TIN
40
Like early LPs : MONO
41
Response to an online joke : LOL
44
Age reached by a septuagenarian : SEVENTY
47
1940s-'50s jazz : BOP
49
Asian yogurt drink : LASSI
50
"This ___ test" : ISA
52
German cars with a lightning bolt logo : OPELS
54
Long-winded sales pitch : SPIEL
55
Poet ___ St. Vincent Millay : EDNA
56
Rise quickly : SOAR
57
Taken a dip : SWUM
59
U.S. fort with very tight security : KNOX
61
Scoundrels : CADS
63
Post-O.R. area : ICU
64
Stick in the microwave : ZAP
66
Fire dept. responder, maybe : EMT

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

Found bugs or have suggestions?