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"WELL, GOLLY!"

New York Times, Sunday, December 14, 2014

Author:
Jim Peredo
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
71/7/201311/16/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1203100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60120
Jim Peredo

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 66 Missing: {QX} This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Peredo. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jim Peredo notes:
The idea for this puzzle came from out of the blue, as long as you define 'out of the blue' as 'Ian Livengood's 'Chee Whiz!' puzzle of 8/3/14.' While solving that puzzle, adding CHEE ... read more

The idea for this puzzle came from out of the blue, as long as you define "out of the blue" as "Ian Livengood's 'Chee Whiz!' puzzle of 8/3/14." While solving that puzzle, adding CHEE sounds to different phrases, I thought, "Gee, wouldn't it be interesting to add a GEE sound to different phrases?" Where do I come up with this stuff?!

I immediately fell in love with the phrase NINTENDO OUIJA. But not everyone pronounces it WEE-JEE, so it might fail for some. I asked my fellow cruciverbalists and got mixed results. I decided to push forward and make a weekday-sized puzzle with it, until at the last minute, Amy Reynaldo hammered it into my head. I abandoned OUIJA and started thinking of other possibilities. That allowed me to get GPS I LOVE YOU and OH DARJEELING, two of my favorites, along with KITTY LITURGY and WEIRD ALGAE. I figured I'd have enough for a Sunday, which has been a goal since I started constructing. So, thank you, Amy, for helping me make a better product!

Will and Joel said that Add-A-Sound themes were becoming common, so what put this puzzle over the top were a couple of secondary goals that I set. I wanted each GEE sound to be spelled differently, and I wanted them spread out within their respective entries; two are at the beginning, two at the end, and three in the middle. One interesting change: GOD NO was originally OODLE [Website behind Facebook Marketplace]. Will's entry is definitely livelier, but it comes with PENTAD and PROEMS where I had CELLAR and DREAMS. (And MUNG was ANNO.) So, a tradeoff. No amount of fiddling with the grid produced any better result.

Most of my clues were changed a little bit or completely (64%), but I'll proudly claim the clues for NANU, NACL, TOENAIL, and STOOP. I wish my clue for OH DARJEELING had gotten through ["Abbey Road" song with the lyric, "I'll never steep you alone"?], but I understand why it had to go. And I liked [Never, on a Sonntag] for NIE and [Four-letter word, boringly] for TETRAGRAM. But I do like Will and Joel's clues for DRAGNET and AWOL.

I submitted this puzzle at the end of September, a mere 11 weeks ago! That's light-speed in the crosswording world. Will's Sunday supply is comparatively low, creating opportunities for us Sunday-hopefuls.

Jeff Chen notes:
Sometimes a puzzle surprises me, and that's a very welcome occurrence after ten years of solving. Reading a title like 'WELL, GOLLY,' my mind immediately went to Ian's very recent puzzle ... read more

Sometimes a puzzle surprises me, and that's a very welcome occurrence after ten years of solving. Reading a title like "WELL, GOLLY," my mind immediately went to Ian's very recent puzzle and continued with 1.) it must be an add-a-sound puzzle with "GEE" likely involved 2.) I really hope it's something more complex than just adding the G sound. Given that I didn't actually uncover a themer all the way until I got to BEE GEE LINE, I prepped for the worst.

But wow, was I pleasantly surprised. Next themer up was OH DARJEELING, which made me laugh with its hilarious visual of a guy batting his eyelashes at looseleaf tea (I read between the lines of the clue). Another funny moment came when I got to GPS I LOVE YOU, and another with GENIE JERK REACTION. Kanji art KANJI ARTIST felt a bit too much like a real thing, but the rest of the themers felt above average to strong on the humor scale; KITTY LITURGY not a ten only because of missed LOLcat potential.

The themers also had nice base phrases, from WEIRD AL to KNEE JERK REACTION to CON ARTIST. OH DARLING felt strained to me, like it was contrived to make a length for symmetry requirements, but six out of seven is quite good. And to have each of the G sounds be spelled differently was really well done. I especially liked the JI in KANJI and JEE in DARJEELING.

Jim did very well with his fill, well above par for Sunday debuts. It's audacious to attempt the difficult task of dropping down to 138 words, and to pull it off with not much glue is impressive. The lower word count allows longer fill like MAIL ORDER and NETIZENS crossing, as well as the cool DIAL A RIDE and regal WHITE GLOVES.

There were some bits I hitched on though, notably the area containing OPP and PROEMS and CONG. The first is minor, the second straight from the Weng/Maleska eras, and the third not only cluable in one way, [Viet ___], but bringing up bad memories for many. I would have either liked 1.) more work in that section by changing the curious but not interesting (to me) TETRAGRAM to something else, as there's a lot of flexibility there in the ?ET???R?? pattern, or 2.) splitting up TETRAGRAM at the A and reworking. (Can't say I like Jim's original grid any better, given I believe it would have AT YA at 70D crossing/duping LOVE YOU, and OODLE doesn't feel crossworthy even to this tech dork.)

The rest of the puzzle has fairly minor stuff (aside from LEAL, also straight from the Maleska era), things like ENUF, EUR, NIE, ETYM, spread out through the puzzle to be fairly unnoticeable. It would have been great to have the entire puzzle equally smooth, without that one section sticking out. Thumbs up to Will for reworking it, but I would very much have liked to see the efforts go even further, maybe kicking it back to Jim for a more in-depth fix.

Finally, I really liked many of Jim's new-to-the-NYT-xw entries, but BESTIE made me pause. I read a lot of middle grade and young adult lit for research, and I personally don't want this to open the floodgates to such similar vocabulary as ADORBS (adorable) and TOTES (totally). Feels beneath the NYT.

But all in all, a well executed theme, demonstrating that a simple concept can be pulled off with strong base phrases, humorous impact, and a range of clever sound changes. Since the solving audience is so wide and diverse, it's smart to aim some NYT Sunday puzzles to the straightforward side.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1214 ( 23,777 )
Across
1
Bed cover : LINEN
6
Flips : UPENDS
12
Symbol in the logo of "The Big Bang Theory" : ATOM
16
___ test : DNA
19
Drops : OMITS
20
Title hunter of a 1922 film : NANOOK
21
"___ chance!" : NOTA
22
It may be beaten, with "the" : RAP
23
Religious rituals for cats? : KITTYLITURGY
25
Web browsers : NETIZENS
27
"Off the hook" : INSANE
28
Cookware brand : TFAL
29
Tofurky, to turkey, e.g. : ANALOGUE
30
Nagging question? : CANI
32
Demanding sort : DIVA
35
Having left the company, maybe : AWOL
36
Seeds : SOWS
40
"Let's Be Cops" org. : LAPD
42
Master of Japanese writing? : KANJIARTIST
47
Sound before a big blow? : ACHOO
49
Orbitz offering : CARRENTAL
51
Poet who wrote "Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass on" : DANTE
52
Strange pond scum? : WEIRDALGAE
54
Ingredient in some London pies : EEL
55
Jim of children's TV : HENSON
56
Shred : TATTER
57
"Zounds!" : EGADS
59
Swear : AVER
61
Day care attendee : TOT
62
The tiniest amount : ONEIOTA
64
Never: Ger. : NIE
65
"Gilgamesh," e.g. : EPIC
66
Turns down : DIPS
67
"Grant your own damn wishes," e.g.? : GENIEJERKREACTION
71
"Do the Right Thing" pizzeria : SALS
73
Fire proof? : SOOT
74
Part of E.U.: Abbr. : EUR
75
Former auto exec Lee : IACOCCA
78
Way of the East : TAO
79
Former White House press secretary Perino : DANA
80
Cop (to) : ADMIT
82
Markdown marker : REDTAG
83
Futilely : INVAIN
85
Born abroad? : NEE
87
"How deep is your love?" or "You should be dancing"? : BEEGEELINE
89
Abnormal swelling : EDEMA
90
Olive Garden starter : ANTIPASTO
92
Full complement for a Quidditch team : SEVEN
93
Comment from a driver who finally reached his destination? : GPSILOVEYOU
95
Jog : TROT
97
Stop what you're doing : REST
98
Goggle : GAPE
99
___ bean : MUNG
101
Per : APOP
103
Arsenal workers : ARMORERS
107
Viet ___ : CONG
109
Closest friend, slangily : BESTIE
114
Discusses at length : GOESINTO
115
Surprised comment upon rummaging through a tea chest? : OHDARJEELING
117
Cause of wear and tear : USE
118
Chef Paula : DEEN
119
See 80-Down : PENTAD
120
Calrissian of "Star Wars" : LANDO
121
"Just ___" : ASK
122
Start to go down the drain : EDDY
123
Literary prefaces : PROEMS
124
Convinces : SWAYS
Down
1
Deity in the Edda : LOKI
2
"Sure, put me down for that" : IMIN
3
Cavils : NITS
4
James of jazz : ETTA
5
"God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You" group : NSYNC
6
College for a Brit : UNI
7
"Tennessee Waltz" singer : PATTIPAGE
8
Sufficient, informally : ENUF
9
Santa Claus-tracking org. : NORAD
10
Descriptive of dingos and jackals : DOGLIKE
11
Blue expanse : SKY
12
Actress Paquin : ANNA
13
It might be clipped and filed : TOENAIL
14
Capital on a river of the same name : OTTAWA
15
Like early Sears business : MAILORDER
16
Leftover bit : DREG
17
When doubled, part of many a Robin Williams tribute : NANU
18
Abbey area : APSE
24
Faithful, in old poetry : LEAL
26
Korda who directed "Sahara" : ZOLTAN
31
Chemical compound often labeled "S" : NACL
33
Barn attachments : VANES
34
Pot money : ANTE
36
Took care of : SAWTO
37
Blue expanse : OCEAN
38
Some queenly attire : WHITEGLOVES
39
Fighter pilots fly them : SORTIES
41
Friday night series? : DRAGNET
43
Veracruz's capital : JALAPA
44
Not learned : INSTINCTIVE
45
Keep a low profile? : STOOP
46
Circus sights : TENTS
48
Classic theater : ODEON
50
Play again : REAIR
53
Mosaicist or glassblower : ARTISAN
55
About 2 1/2 acres : HECTARE
58
Made a false move? : DEKED
60
End of a famous boast : VICI
63
"___ Flux," 2005 sci-fi film : AEON
65
Most chill-inducing : EERIEST
66
Many a bored student : DOODLER
68
Actress Woodward : JOANNE
69
Relative of the cha-cha : RUMBA
70
Brain-freeze drinks : ICEES
71
Larsson who wrote "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" : STIEG
72
U.S.'s first grocery chain : AANDP
76
University of Miami athletes, for short : CANES
77
Means : AGENT
79
Transportation service for the disabled : DIALARIDE
80
Alphabetical 119-Across : AEIOU
81
Any four-letter word : TETRAGRAM
84
Pals : AMIGOS
86
Dict. info : ETYM
88
Hair gel, e.g. : GOOP
90
Sidestepped : AVERTED
91
Ending with cow or hole : PUNCHER
94
Warmed up the crowd (for) : OPENED
96
"___ honest ..." : TOBE
100
"Heaven forbid!" : GODNO
102
Strips : PEELS
103
Rarity in un desierto : AGUA
104
One of the friends on "Friends" : ROSS
105
Deferential : MEEK
106
Electronics giant : SONY
108
___ the Great of children's lit : NATE
110
Picnic side dish : SLAW
111
Brown who founded The Daily Beast : TINA
112
Annual "500" : INDY
113
Vanity cases? : EGOS
115
Antithesis: Abbr. : OPP
116
Attorneys' degs. : JDS

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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