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New York Times, Monday, December 8, 2014

Author: Kevin Christian and Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor: Will Shortz
Kevin Christian
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
95/22/201311/27/20173
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0422010
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.64011
Andrea Carla Michaels
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
576/12/20007/16/201730
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
63892200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63117

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQ} Spans: 1 This is puzzle # 4 for Mr. Christian. This is puzzle # 46 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF

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Constructor notes: KEVIN: I'm very lucky to be able to collaborate with Andrea and very pleased that we're having a Monday puzzle published ... more
Constructor notes:

KEVIN:

I'm very lucky to be able to collaborate with Andrea and very pleased that we're having a Monday puzzle published together. Andrea is one of the most accomplished Monday constructors of all time. She's had 31 Monday puzzles published (now 32), which is the 6th most in the Shortz era. Plus she's fun to hang out with, she's friendly and nice to everybody, and she organizes lunches at restaurants in San Francisco for Bay Area constructors to get together!

We started on this puzzle in early 2013. I emailed Andrea with a long list of possibilities, and we narrowed them down as follows. We started with a long list of SAY possibilities. I was trying to find a SAY 10 to go with SUE GRAFTON, but Andrea decided early on that her favorite SAY answer was SAY HEY KID, so we decided to look for a SUE 9.

Eventually we figured out it didn't have to be SUE, it could be SOO or SIOUX, so we went with SIOUX CITY. I proposed SEE NO EVIL and SO FAR AWAY (clued as the Carole King song) early on, and we both liked both of those, so we stuck with those. We had some SIGH possibilities, but none we were crazy about, and several of them were even lengths. Eventually we figured out we could do SCI FI something, with SCI FI CONVENTION and SCI FI SHORT STORY both as good options that were length 15.

I find easy puzzles are hard to make and harder puzzles are easier to make, because the universe of fill answers you can use in an early week puzzle is relatively small, but the possibilities for a later week puzzle are much broader. For this puzzle, we went through at least a dozen versions of the grid before we found one that was clean and crisp enough to be Monday-worthy.

ACME:

I love collaborating with folks who are really excited and dedicated, like Kevin. It makes me feel like there is more of a community that goes beyond just an individual little puzzle. He had a nice idea based on my vowel-run "poems" that stretched it in fun ways. It was a true collaboration.

Jeff Chen notes: Nice start to the week, a vowel progression using S + the five long vowel sounds. I like that Kevin and Acme choose some wacky ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Dorkus malorkus Nice start to the week, a vowel progression using S + the five long vowel sounds. I like that Kevin and Acme choose some wacky spellings like SIOUX instead of the straightforward SUE. Kept me on my toes. And the themers are well-chosen, a quintet of strong phrases. It's hard to argue with SCI-FI CONVENTION. I've never been to one, but I'm hoping my brother and I get a chance to use our Spock and Evil Spock (one guess as to which one I am) costumes again.

Great layout today. Vowel progressions necessitate five themers of course, which usually makes gridwork a little challenging. Many constructors would section off the grid into bunches of short fill to make things easier, but Kevin and Acme do well to leave four slots for longer fill. WHERE AM I, TIME FLIES, NON TOXIC, GET OVER IT! Four for four, if you ask me. Also, just as they've spaced the theme answers out, they've spaced these four long fill entries out too. Good spacing often is key in achieving sparkly, clean fill.

The Say Hey Kid

Since this theme type has been done quite a bit in the past, I would have liked a little more tightness. The first three had me smiling (aside from SAY HEY KID missing the important "THE" start), with identical three-word phrases (allowing for hyphenation is fine by me in this case) and three-letter starts. Perfect! The fourth made me pause, as the SO broke the pattern. Why not SEW? I wondered.

And the fifth went completely different with SIOUX. That's perfectly fine, but I think I would have really liked it if all the themers had fit identical patterns, or all of them had been completely different. Personal preference, of course.

Nice work in the fill today, really just the NE corner giving me a slight pause with its ONE TO, OR A, and OTERI. The last is a perfectly fine entry, and the SNL tie-in helps, but until she does something with her career like Kristen Wiig, I'll usually try to avoid using her in grids.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 1208 ( 23,771 )
Across Down
1. Paintings and statues : ART
4. Carriage driver's tool : WHIP
8. Archie Bunker type : BIGOT
13. Rocky peak : TOR
14. Vietnam's capital : HANOI
16. "... and ___ grow on" : ONETO
17. Nickname for Willie Mays : SAYHEYKID
19. Square dance group, e.g. : OCTET
20. Glue brand : ELMERS
21. Chunk of cement, say : SLAB
23. "... good witch ___ bad witch?" : ORA
24. Grammy winner for 2011's "Someone Like You" : ADELE
25. Catchphrase for a monkey with its eyes covered : SEENOEVIL
27. Labyrinth : MAZE
29. Certain vacuum tube : DIODE
30. Cousin of a chickadee : TIT
33. O. Henry's "The Gift of the ___" : MAGI
35. Peeves : IRKS
38. Where Darth Vader might meet Captain Kirk : SCIFICONVENTION
43. Reebok rival : PUMA
44. "Fiddling" Roman emperor : NERO
45. Up to, briefly : TIL
46. Tinker to ___ to Chance (classic double play) : EVERS
50. Ayn who wrote "Atlas Shrugged" : RAND
52. Carole King hit from "Tapestry" : SOFARAWAY
55. Small crown : TIARA
59. Nothing : NIL
60. Armstrong who said "The Eagle has landed" : NEIL
61. Groups chasing outlaws : POSSES
62. Wonderland girl : ALICE
64. Iowa port on the Missouri River : SIOUXCITY
66. Coal and natural gas : FUELS
67. Artist Matisse : HENRI
68. "Diamonds ___ a Girl's Best Friend" : ARE
69. Unexpected win : UPSET
70. Antidrug cop : NARC
71. "Fat chance!" : NOT
1. Befuddled : ATSEA
2. Dahl who wrote "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" : ROALD
3. "Go ahead, I'm listening" : TRYME
4. Dazed inquiry : WHEREAMI
5. "Airplane!" star Robert : HAYS
6. Pen filler : INK
7. Coolness under pressure : POISE
8. Little mistake : BOOBOO
9. Abbr. at the end of a co. name : INC
10. "You have to move on!" : GETOVERIT
11. Cheri formerly of 37-Down : OTERI
12. Utterly wreck : TOTAL
15. Twiddled one's thumbs : IDLED
18. Captain's place : HELM
22. Vowel that's missing from "dangerously" : ANI
25. Lily with bell-shaped flowers : SEGO
26. Blue-pencil : EDIT
28. Efron of "High School Musical" : ZAC
30. Cookbook meas. : TSP
31. Hospital area with many IVs : ICU
32. What happens when you're having fun? : TIMEFLIES
34. Quaint hotel : INN
36. Japanese pond fish : KOI
37. See 11-Down : SNL
39. ___ bean : FAVA
40. Extremely : VERY
41. Period in history : ERA
42. Harmless, as paint : NONTOXIC
47. Hemingway or Borgnine : ERNEST
48. Charlotte of "The Facts of Life" : RAE
49. Sound of a perfect basketball shot : SWISH
51. Tiddlywink or Frisbee : DISC
52. Big mistake : SNAFU
53. Prepare for a bodybuilding contest, maybe : OILUP
54. Otherworldly : ALIEN
56. Japanese or Javanese : ASIAN
57. Old-fashioned, yet hip : RETRO
58. Up to now : ASYET
61. What cats and some engines do : PURR
63. The Indians, on scoreboards : CLE
65. Go ___ diet : ONA

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle.

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