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New York Times, Monday, December 16, 2013

Author:
Greg Johnson
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
712/16/20133/30/20190
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0311002
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.65120
Greg Johnson

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 74, Blocks: 34 Missing: {FJQWZ} This is the debut puzzle for Mr. Johnson. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Greg Johnson notes:
I wasn't sure of the spelling of DO SVIDANIYA so I looked it up one day ... and one thing led to another. Two 11's and two 10's ... read more

I wasn't sure of the spelling of DO SVIDANIYA so I looked it up one day ... and one thing led to another. Two 11's and two 10's matched perfectly although the grid was shaky with all horizontal entries so I put a revealer in the center of a windmill. I wasn't a fan of the relatively closed grid but the 74 word count seemed to balance that. I wanted to include AU REVOIR and SAYONARA but settled for CIAO and TATA.

The W was problematic because INDUCES, REDUCES and INDUCTS brought partials and other nasty fill ... but I chanced on AC DUCTS after seeing an ad mailer and decided to run with it. I spent of lot of free time toying with this puzzle this past spring and I am pretty pleased overall.

Will Shortz notes:
The four main theme entries, at 17A, 50A, 11D, and 24D, are nice, but they're not what sold me on this puzzle. It was the bonus ... read more

The four main theme entries, at 17A, 50A, 11D, and 24D, are nice, but they're not what sold me on this puzzle. It was the bonus themers of CIAO, TA-TA, and GOODBYE that moved it into the special category for me. The nontheme entries I'M YOURS, YOU LOSE, and SKI SLOPES are handsome, too.

Jeff Chen notes:
Nice work from Greg today, four common (warning, pun alert) bye-lines (groan), with two bonus ones in the north and south, and a ... read more

Nice work from Greg today, four common (warning, pun alert) bye-lines (groan), with two bonus ones in the north and south, and a revealer in the middle as the kicker. Impressive theme density for a debut puzzle.

DO SVIDANIYA: normally I grouse about tough/esoteric entries in a Monday puzzle, but I really liked this one (and it wouldn't keep me from giving this puzzle to a newbie to try). Bringing back images of Dolph Lundgren and his Cold War movie kin, DO SVIDANIYA was familiar enough I should have been able to get it right off the D. But DAS VEDANYA, DOS VEDANIA, DAS VIDALIA (I like onions, so sue me) later, I finally limped into the correct spelling. Thank goodness all the crosses were fair!

As Greg mentioned, one issue with the grid is its segmentation. Notice that by adding a single set of black squares, you could split the grid into three parts. It's not a big deal since the puzzle flowed reasonably well, but ideally grids are wide-open enough that they don't feel like separate mini-puzzles. It's a much bigger issue for a themeless or a hard Thursday, where it can be very frustrating if there's only one way into a closed-off area, and the solver can't manage to break in through the only possible route.

A nit to pick: for consistency's sake I would have liked each theme answer clued to a name associated with the specified nationality. Not sure what you'd use for SEE YA LATER (Jake? Bubba? Jeff is always good.) but TATA could have been "Cheerio, Wentworth Mortimer Biggleston the Third!" And because CIAO felt like a dupe of ARRIVEDERCI, it might have also been fun to just have one bonus answer, TATA, as (appropriately) the very last answer.

Mondays are so tough to create because the constructor can't depend on a couple of ugly entries to make his/her grid work. After all, it's not really fair to expect the Monday solver to know an ERNE or an OLEO or an AGHA outright, especially if they're crossed. So very nice work from Greg today, delivering a smooth grid with just a handful of the usual suspects plus some good stuff like SKI SLOPES and SINGLET. A nice debut.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1216 ( 23,414 )

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Across
1
___ lazuli : LAPIS
6
"Gotta go!" : CIAO
10
Jabbers : YAPS
14
Springtime of life : PRIME
15
All roads lead to it, in a saying : ROME
16
Pitcher Hershiser : OREL
17
"I'm outta here!" : SEEYALATER
19
___ Major (constellation) : URSA
20
Kind of band : ONEMAN
21
Like a recently waxed floor : SLICK
22
They connect cooling units to rooms, in brief : ACDUCTS
25
Unmemorable low-budget film : BMOVIE
26
Beaches : SHORES
27
___ longue (daybed) : CHAISE
29
Snake's warning : HISS
30
Bent over, as from pain : DOUBLEDUP
33
Letter holder: Abbr. : ENV
34
This puzzle's theme : GOODBYE
36
Brian who was a pioneer of ambient music : ENO
37
Locales for T-bars : SKISLOPES
39
Cleveland's lake : ERIE
40
Infant's wear : DIAPER
41
Leprechaun, for Notre Dame : MASCOT
43
Bleachers : STANDS
45
Bowling game : TENPINS
46
Vowel sound at the end of 39-Across : LONGE
47
Deliberately gives wrong information : LIESTO
49
Elec. or water : UTIL
50
"Adios, amigo!" : HASTALUEGO
54
Marvin of Motown : GAYE
55
Kuwaiti leader : EMIR
56
Earl of ___, favorite of Elizabeth I : ESSEX
57
Chairmaker's strip : SLAT
58
"Cheerio!" : TATA
59
Answer : REPLY
Down
1
The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" : LPS
2
"We ___ the Champions" : ARE
3
Quiche, for one : PIE
4
Candy heart sentiment : IMYOURS
5
Event that might involve a Ouija board : SEANCE
6
Overpacks : CRAMS
7
Letter before kappa : IOTA
8
"Praise be!" : AMEN
9
"___ the ramparts we watched ..." : OER
10
Poor sport's taunt : YOULOSE
11
"Godspeed, Bruno!" : ARRIVEDERCI
12
Joe of "My Cousin Vinny" : PESCI
13
Satisfy, as a thirst : SLAKE
18
Response to "Shall we?" : LETS
21
"Peace begins with a ___": Mother Teresa : SMILE
22
Fireplace residue : ASHES
23
Armor flaw : CHINK
24
"Farewell, Vladimir!" : DOSVIDANIYA
25
Infant : BABY
27
Computer programmer : CODER
28
Centers of wheels : HUBS
30
Dummy : DOPE
31
The "U" of U.S.S.R. : UNION
32
"Dead ___ Society" : POETS
34
Air freshener brand : GLADE
35
"My bad!" : OOPS
38
Wrestler's wear : SINGLET
39
Advocate : ESPOUSE
41
Small plateau : MESA
42
Weapon for a reindeer : ANTLER
43
Hits with the fist : SLUGS
44
Bottom line of an addition : TOTAL
45
Four: Prefix : TETRA
47
Tibetan priest : LAMA
48
"Really?" : ISIT
50
Plenty worked (up) : HET
51
Mind reader's inits. : ESP
52
Toothpaste form, often : GEL
53
Clearasil rival : OXY

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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