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New York Times, Monday, October 21, 2013

Author: Gary Cee
Editor: Will Shortz
Gary Cee
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
335/28/20094/24/20170
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1988421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56011

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 34 Missing: none – this is a pangram This is puzzle # 20 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gary Cee notes: I heard the phrase BREAKOUT STAR on TV and wondered if there had ever been a crossword based on two-word phrases beginning with a ... more
Gary Cee notes: I heard the phrase BREAKOUT STAR on TV and wondered if there had ever been a crossword based on two-word phrases beginning with a synonym for "flee." Quick research said no. ESCAPE CLAUSE then came to mind, also 12 letters. Bingo. I'm a Grisham fan, so RUNAWAY JURY had to be in this puzzle, and TAKE-OFF RAMP naturally countered it. So there's a cool theme. To the grid I went with hopes of a making this one a very accessible Monday offering (Will has told me that the Monday happy stack is the shortest of the bunch).

It's a good idea to begin in the center then fill the grid just as a drummer tunes a snare, starting with the corner with the trickiest theme letters, then advancing to its polar opposite. When the ESQ-QUAFF fit nicely, I decided to go for the pangram, which I usually don't give a hoot about, but I already had J, K and W taken care of in the theme so why not? Now for some fresh fill. POGO STICK, TOUCH UPON (which I actually added in a second take after Will requested a change in the SW corner), VARIOUS and the tasty FUMET (which I may have heard once on the Food Channel) have never appeared in a Shortz-era NYT puzzle so in they went. My apologies about ERY. Finally, CATTY is a strong 1A, a lively word, but not my all-time favorite. That would be CHIAROSCURO.

Will Shortz notes: A simple theme with a solid construction — a bread-and-butter Monday puzzle. Among the nontheme entries, I especially like ... more
Will Shortz notes: A simple theme with a solid construction — a bread-and-butter Monday puzzle. Among the nontheme entries, I especially like BAND-AID, QUAFF, I DUNNO, and POGO STICK. FUMET (66A) was new to me, but all the crossings are good.
Jeff Chen notes: Fun offering to start the week. Standard type of theme, where the first word of each phrase is synonymous. To Gary's credit, I didn't ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Fun offering to start the week. Standard type of theme, where the first word of each phrase is synonymous. To Gary's credit, I didn't notice the puzzle was a pangram until I analyzed it in our database. That's a testament to the smoothness of his work, because often times if the fill feels forced or iffy, it's because a constructor has stretched to incorporate the last letter he/she is missing. I don't support making pangrams for their own sake, but I fully endorse anything that enhances the solving experience. Often times, adding Scrabbly letters (JQXZ and perhaps KV) can do just that.

FUMET might generate a little controversy. I generally like learning something new from a crossword, and all the crosses to FUMET are certainly fair. But in my opinion, it felt out of place for a Monday. I realize I have a different philosophy than Will (and probably many others), mine being that I want Monday xws to be both interesting to current solvers but also something a novice could get hooked on. It doesn't take much to turn someone off to a new hobby, and hitting DICTA, AGLET and FUMET in one day feels like it might turn a novice away from future solves. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one, methinks.

Regarding the theme, it's a fine Monday idea. Straightforward, easy to cotton to, perfect for a beginner. I don't know if it's possible, but as I was solving I was hoping to see a Shawkshank Redemption story emerge, something like a HOLE then a BREAKOUT then an ESCAPE and finally FREEDOM. Probably too much to ask, and incorporating this might have made it too opaque. But a guy can dream.

Finally, nice long fill today. POGO STICK, BAND AID, and TOUCH UPON are strong entries, plus Gary delves into the six-letter fill to give us I DUNNO, CHOKER, and YAWNER. It's often difficult to incorporate strong six-letter fill, so kudos to Gary for being deliberate about adding these types of entries to enhance the solving experience. Overall, a solid offering.

1
C
2
A
3
T
4
T
5
Y
6
D
7
R
8
I
9
V
10
E
11
P
12
A
13
P
14
O
M
A
H
A
15
R
A
D
A
R
16
O
N
E
17
R
U
N
A
W
18
A
Y
J
U
R
Y
19
G
E
E
20
A
S
K
I
N
G
21
A
N
I
22
D
O
W
N
23
L
E
S
24
E
L
25
F
26
N
O
27
S
E
S
28
B
R
E
A
29
K
O
U
T
S
T
30
A
31
R
32
S
33
E
34
T
A
35
T
I
N
36
S
U
P
I
N
E
37
A
X
O
N
38
S
39
L
E
40
A
41
D
I
C
T
A
42
F
E
U
D
E
43
D
44
E
S
45
Q
46
S
K
I
D
47
E
S
C
A
P
E
48
C
L
A
U
49
S
E
50
H
I
T
C
H
51
P
A
T
52
S
53
H
54
E
55
L
56
A
U
D
57
L
O
58
G
59
F
A
60
T
H
O
M
61
A
L
P
62
T
A
K
E
63
O
F
F
R
A
M
P
64
Z
O
O
65
A
R
E
N
A
66
F
U
M
E
T
67
Y
E
N
68
B
E
R
E
T
69
S
E
E
D
Y
© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1021 ( 23,358 )
Across Down
1. Slyly spiteful : CATTY
6. The "D" of PRNDL : DRIVE
11. Easy-to-chew food : PAP
14. Mutual of ___ (insurance giant) : OMAHA
15. Aid in detecting speeders : RADAR
16. ___ Direction (boy band) : ONE
17. John Cusack thriller based on a Grisham novel : RUNAWAYJURY
19. "Golly!" : GEE
20. Inviting : ASKING
21. "Gimme ___!" (start of an Iowa cheer) : ANI
22. Southward : DOWN
23. "___ Misérables" : LES
24. Santa's little helper : ELF
26. Snouts : NOSES
28. Newly famous celebrity : BREAKOUTSTAR
32. ___ date (make some plans) : SETA
35. Tuna container : TIN
36. Lying on one's back : SUPINE
37. Conductors of impulses from nerve cells : AXONS
39. Grazing area : LEA
41. Judicial statements : DICTA
42. Fought like the Hatfields and McCoys : FEUDED
44. Abbr. after a lawyer's name : ESQ
46. Lose traction : SKID
47. Stipulation that frees one of liability : ESCAPECLAUSE
50. Minor difficulty : HITCH
51. Bit of butter : PAT
52. "He said, ___ said" : SHE
55. Praise : LAUD
57. Nautical record : LOG
59. Nautical unit of measure : FATHOM
61. Swiss peak : ALP
62. Part of a ski jump just before going airborne : TAKEOFFRAMP
64. Bronx ___ : ZOO
65. Pop concert venue : ARENA
66. Strong, seasoned stock, in cookery : FUMET
67. Japanese money : YEN
68. Military cap : BERET
69. Run-down, as a bar : SEEDY
1. Atoll composition : CORAL
2. Tell jokes, say : AMUSE
3. Oxygen suppliers for scuba divers : TANKS
4. Spicy Southeast Asian cuisine : THAI
5. Show that's bo-o-oring : YAWNER
6. Unmoist : DRY
7. Indian nobleman : RAJA
8. "Can't say" : IDUNNO
9. Sundry : VARIOUS
10. Suffix with crock or mock : ERY
11. Toy that hops : POGOSTICK
12. All over again : ANEW
13. Ball-___ hammer : PEEN
18. Shoelace end : AGLET
22. Hate, hate, hate : DESPISE
25. "Words ___ me!" : FAIL
27. Macho sort : STUD
28. Quick but temporary fix : BANDAID
29. Prepare for prayer : KNEEL
30. Voting against : ANTI
31. What library patrons do : READ
32. How the cautious play it : SAFE
33. Mates who've split : EXES
34. Mention in passing : TOUCHUPON
38. Aug. follower : SEPT
40. Inits. on a rush order : ASAP
43. State openly, as for a customs official : DECLARE
45. Drink, as of ale : QUAFF
48. Tight necklace : CHOKER
49. Fills with personnel : STAFFS
52. Disgrace : SHAME
53. ___ in on (got closer to) : HOMED
54. "E" on a gas gauge : EMPTY
55. Indolent : LAZY
56. ___ vera : ALOE
58. Trait transmitter : GENE
60. Factual : TRUE
62. File extension? : TAB
63. Grain in Cheerios : OAT

Answer summary: 4 unique to this puzzle, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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