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New York Times, Monday, April 23, 2018

Author:
Lynn Lempel
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
8512/9/197912/3/20182
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
660132130
ScrabRebusCirclePangramPre‑WS
1.610812
Lynn Lempel

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JZ} This is puzzle # 83 for Ms. Lempel. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Lynn Lempel notes:
This was an exceedingly rare, once-in-a-blue-moon puzzle for me: Once the phrase 'go first' popped into my head, the theme idea and ... read more

This was an exceedingly rare, once-in-a-blue-moon puzzle for me: Once the phrase "go first" popped into my head, the theme idea and all four theme entries were a done deal within, say,15 minutes. And within an hour, the grid was finished. That just never happens.

I submitted the puzzle close to a year ago, without the circles. I thought the revealer would make everything obvious enough without them, and that people would have a nicer aha moment by seeing it on their own. But yeah, it's Monday.

Only a pair of clue changes to note—the Michael Jackson ones at 11- and 12-Down. I could never have written them, never having heard of the song. But then, you all probably knew that!

Jeff Chen notes:
GO FIRST! Because the theme answers start with synonyms for GO. As in DEPART, EXIT … Er, more like synonyms for 'GO!' ... read more

GO FIRST! Because the theme answers start with synonyms for GO. As in DEPART, EXIT …

Er, more like synonyms for "GO!" SCAT! SCRAM already! Kind of a pushy Monday puzzle, sheesh! Trying to tell us something, hmm, Lynn?

Some neat finds, most of the themers snazzy. I wasn't sure what a SCATTER RUG was (another term for a throw rug apparently), but I like the sound of it.

I hitched slightly on LEAVENED BREAD, as it's the only one where the GO! synonym changes pronunciation. It would have been nice for all of them to have a pronunciation change, or none of them, for consistency's sake. Ah well. The crossword gods can be cruel.

Are GITANO JEANS still a thing?

Now, this is the way to execute on a simple Monday theme. Go up to 78 words if you need to, but make sure to weave in at least a couple of long bonuses — WEARS THIN, INSIDIOUS, MCQUEEN, even ATTACHE — while keeping your short stuff from getting noticed. Lynn is so good about using those longer slots to her advantage, elevating the solving experience.

Although, there was one area I felt was subpar for her: the DDE / ALEE / DUNNE region. It would have been fine if it had been any other constructor, but a little-used Presidential monogram, a nautical term, and an actress from "old Hollywood"? Not quite up to Lynn's bar.

I liked MCQUEEN and the YOUNG / THING pairing. I'd personally have chosen to smoothify the grid by taking one or more of those out. But I can respect Lynn's choice.

Overall, a fine Monday puzzle. I liked the theme enough that I considered it for the POW! If the revealer had packed more punch, creating a sharper a-ha moment, it might well have been my pick.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0423 ( 25,003 )
Across
1
Engaged in country-to-country combat : ATWAR
6
Dance movement : STEP
10
Story about Zeus and Hera, e.g. : MYTH
14
Be dishonest with : LIETO
15
Language of Bangkok : THAI
16
Salmon variety : COHO
17
Small floor covering : SCATTERRUG
19
Witticism : QUIP
20
Gummy gumbo vegetable : OKRA
21
"Winnie-the-Pooh" baby : ROO
22
Irene of old Hollywood : DUNNE
23
Standard breakfast order : SCRAMBLEDEGGS
27
Johnny who sang "Chances Are" : MATHIS
29
Toward shelter, at sea : ALEE
30
White as a ghost : ASHEN
31
Legacy student's relative, for short : ALUM
33
Friendly : NICE
37
Nintendo game console : WII
38
Lead off ... or a hint to the circled letters : GOFIRST
41
Aye's opposite : NAY
42
Makings of a castle at the beach : SAND
44
Gyro wrap : PITA
45
Waste maker, in a saying : HASTE
47
At any time : EVER
49
Entries in the minus column : DEBITS
50
Passover no-no : LEAVENEDBREAD
55
Holder of unread emails : INBOX
56
Savings plan for old age, in short : IRA
57
Kudrow of "Friends" : LISA
60
Cut and paste text, e.g. : EDIT
61
Play H-O-R-S-E, say : SHOOTHOOPS
64
Michelangelo's "David," for one : NUDE
65
German luxury carmaker : AUDI
66
Arctic people : INUIT
67
Put the pedal to the metal : SPED
68
Get over a sunburn, maybe : PEEL
69
Green pasta sauce : PESTO
Down
1
Likewise : ALSO
2
Sound of a watch : TICK
3
Diminishes, as patience : WEARSTHIN
4
Embassy staffer : ATTACHE
5
"Poppycock!" : ROT
6
Longtime senator Thurmond : STROM
7
Pulsate : THROB
8
French water : EAU
9
Big Bad Wolf's target : PIG
10
Steve who directed "12 Years a Slave" : MCQUEEN
11
The "Y" of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." : YOUNG
12
The "T" of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." : THING
13
"High" feelings : HOPES
18
Timeline periods : ERAS
22
J.F.K.'s predecessor : DDE
24
Age indicator in a tree trunk : RING
25
Actress Linney in "Kinsey" : LAURA
26
Trees attacked by bark beetles : ELMS
27
Cavernous openings : MAWS
28
Home to 48 countries : ASIA
31
Blazing : AFIRE
32
Blazing : LIT
34
Sneakily dangerous : INSIDIOUS
35
Suffragist Carrie Chapman ___ : CATT
36
Baby blues, e.g. : EYES
39
Like most businesses from 9 to 5 : OPEN
40
"Get ___ to a nunnery": Hamlet : THEE
43
Totally loyal : DEVOTED
46
Sea snail with a mother-of-pearl shell : ABALONE
48
Annoy : VEX
49
"Shucks!" : DRAT
50
Creditors' claims on property : LIENS
51
Ultimately become : ENDUP
52
Bear patiently : ABIDE
53
Semiconductor device with two terminals : DIODE
54
Swelter : BROIL
58
Barbecue rod : SPIT
59
Concerning : ASTO
61
Source of maple syrup : SAP
62
Choice from a painter's palette : HUE
63
Belly dancer's gyrating body part : HIP

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

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