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"WELL, GOLLY!"

New York Times, Sunday, December 14, 2014

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

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 sounds to different phrases, ... more
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 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 and continued with 1.) it ... more
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 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 Down
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
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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