XW Info

Sunday, November 10, 2013
by Alan Olschwang
Sun 11/10/2013BYE-LINES
© 2013, The New York Times
Jeff Chen notes: It is hard to create a Sunday puzzle. Working with a 21x21 grid and a maximum of 140 almost always causes me to tear my hair out (what's left of it, anyway). Each time I've dabbled with 138 word grids I've shied away, going back to the safety of the 140 worder. That goes doubly or triply so for the 136 word construction, which is exponentially harder to execute on. Today, Alan gives us a 134 word puzzle today, one of the lowest word count puzzles in the Shortz era. Audacious!

The theme is straightforward today, five well-known "bye-lines", phrases famous people said as they were leaving. Clever title. I liked the idea paired with the title and would have liked to see a few more theme examples. I'LL BE BACK comes to mind immediately, as does GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. I'm sure there are others. Fun to think of famous parting words.

This puzzle falls into the category of Will's experimentation with less theme density and a lower word count. 134 words is pretty impressive, but I for one don't care about record setting unless it leads directly to solver pleasure. So does this puzzle achieve that? On some levels, yes. The fact that the puzzle includes so much long fill is impressive, and that factor can really add to puzzle enjoyment. There's a lot of good stuff here, including IPOD NANO, IN UTERO, PLAYS UP, BAD TRIP, SURF CITY, SET BAIL, RAT TAILS, even IDI AMIN in his full. Pretty fun to see all that snazzy content.

However, a lot of the fill is in that 3-7 letter length, and much of that isn't exciting, more "ballast fill"; glue that holds the puzzle together. I enjoyed the idea of the theme and uncovering some of the longer fill, but encountering entries such as EPATHA, especially crossing ASAS took away from my solving pleasure. Also, I felt like I was solving a giant themeless puzzle, which could be great except that I personally get tired out mentally toward the end of a hard themeless without many marquee answers. Stretching that experience into a 21x dimension left me awfully worn-out toward the end.

Overall, interesting experiment with the "less theme, less words" approach. Seeing a few examples of this has helped tune my impression of what I would like to see in the future: at least six theme entries (or five grid-spanners), with more 8+ letter fill. I think it would be awesome to get a few more puzzles which aren't as theme-dense as usual, but offer more of the impact that snazzy themelesses deliver what with their fresh stacks of 8+ letter entries.

FYI, if you hit the "Analyze this puzzle" button at the very bottom of this page, you'll get all sorts of stats about this puzzle. No more drudgery of counting things manually!

JimH notes: Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.
1.Former Belgian national airline : SABENA
7.Just says no : RESISTS
14.Cremona craftwork : AMATIS
20.Origami staples : CRANES
21.1993 5x platinum Nirvana album : INUTERO
22.Wise guy : SAVANT
23.The Lone Ranger : HIYOSILVERAWAY
25.Phillip, e.g., in Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" : PRINCE
26.Carrier inits. : UAL
27.Kemo ___ (the Lone Ranger) : SABE
28.Move a muscle? : FLEX
29.No longer in enemy hands : RETAKEN
30.Kind of appeal : SNOB
32.Base, e.g. : NONACID
34.Infusing with a soda maker : AERATING
35.Hospital supply : SERUM
37.___ Fáil, Ireland's coronation stone : LIA
38.Strike callers : UMPS
39.Massachusetts motto starter : ENSE
40.Dietary claim : LESSFAT
44.Deeply rooted : INBRED
46.Toothpaste type : GEL
52.84-Down writer's monogram : EAP
53.Opportunities, metaphorically : DOORS
54.Hands (out) : DOLES
55.Trig ratio : COTAN
59.Old camera settings, for short : ASAS
61.Add (up) : TOT
62.François Truffaut's field : CINE
63.Sweet-talk : CAJOLE
69.Fixes up, as a run-down house : REHABS
70.Cato's man : HOMO
71.When doubled, one of the Teletubbies : LAA
72."Now!" : STAT
73."August: ___ County" (2008 Pulitzer winner for Drama) : OSAGE
74."S.N.L." alum Cheri : OTERI
76.Mimicry : APING
78.July third? : ELL
83.Genus of small rodents : MUS
86.Items sometimes sniffed at a supermarket : MELONS
87.Highlights : PLAYSUP
88.Mille ___ (part of Québec with a rhyming name) : ILES
90.Fill : SATE
91.Other side : FOE
92.Volleyball venue : BEACH
96.Hair extensions? : RATTAILS
98.Something you want to come down from quickly : BADTRIP
102.Dry: Prefix : XERO
103.Home of Banff National Park : ALBERTA
104.Animal house : BARN
105.2004 Chevy debut : AVEO
107."___ can't" : NOI
108.Beefeaters, e.g. : GUARDS
109.Red Skelton : ANDMAYGODBLESS
112.Record of the Year Grammy nominee for "Lose Yourself" : EMINEM
113.Primary pigment for printers : MAGENTA
114.Rays' div. : ALEAST
115.Luna's counterpart : SELENE
116.Auto steering system components : TIERODS
117.Potential sweethearts : LASSES
1.Downhill run : SCHUSS
2.Massenet opera based on Greek myth : ARIANE
3.Bears' home in Texas : BAYLOR
4.2005 Drama Pulitzer finalist Will : ENO
5.Costner role : NESS
6.Like the origin of the food in many fusion restaurants : ASIAN
7.Pulled apart : RIVEN
8.Compass dir. : ENE
9.Nickname for Huntington Beach, Calif. : SURFCITY
10.Bologna's place : ITALIA
11.Clinched, with "up" : SEWED
12."Time ___" (bygone sci-fi series) : TRAX
13.___-based : SOY
14.Defames : ASPERSES
15.One of the von Trapp girls : MARTA
16.Do some banking, say : AVIATE
17.Going down in the rankings, say : TANKING
18.Holy smoke : INCENSE
19.First Mets manager : STENGEL
24.CNBC news item : LBO
29.Mag proofs : REPROS
31.Shallot, e.g. : BULB
33.Keyes and King : ALANS
34.Mosey along : AMBLE
36."Beowulf" quaff : MEAD
38.Jesse and Leo of TV sitcoms : UNCLES
41.Poky sorts : SLOTHS
42.Order to go? : SCOOT
43.Onward : FORTH
44.Sees through : ISONTO
45.Latte option : DECAF
47.Ópera venue : TEATRO
48.Chops up : HASHES
49.S. ___ Merkerson, four-time N.A.A.C.P. Image Award-winning actress : EPATHA
50.Oscar-winning Forest Whitaker role : IDIAMIN
51.Judo gyms : DOJOS
56.Ancient Mexican : TOLTEC
57.Base : ALKALI
58.Company that owns Gerber : NESTLE
60.Layered coifs : SHAGS
62.Groups of strings, maybe : CHORDS
63.Sword fight sounds : CLANGS
65.Letter-shaped bridge support : TBEAM
66.Mr. Right : THEONE
67.Dominant : ALPHA
68.Church group : LAITY
74.Black Hills native : OGLALA
75.Sweetie : TOOTS
76.Lace's end : AGLET
77.Vittles : GRUB
80.Possible answer to "Is that you?" : YESITSME
81.Apple product : IPODNANO
82.Extreme point : APEX
83.Sights not to be believed : MIRAGES
84.Poem that ends "This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir" : ULALUME
85.What a judge might do during a hearing : SETBAIL
89."A Sentimental Journey" author : STERNE
91.Thomas Jefferson or Jimmy Carter, once : FARMER
93.Virgil hero : AENEAS
94.Bit of field sport equipment : CROSSE
95.Lifts : HOISTS
97.Where to find "books in the running brooks," per Shakespeare : ARDEN
98.Star, maybe : BADGE
99.Indian melodies : RAGAS
100.Nobelist writer Andric : IVO
101.Go by bike : PEDAL
104.Beginning of some temple names : BNAI
106.Preceder of "di" or "da" in a Beatles song : OBLA
109.Invoice fig. : AMT
110.Since 1/1 : YTD
111."___ Sylphides" (ballet) : LES

© 2017, Jim Horne