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HITS AND MS.ES

New York Times, Sunday, November 24, 2013

Author:
Gary Cee
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
385/28/20095/20/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
112108421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56021
Gary Cee

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 74 Missing: {QZ} This is puzzle # 21 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Gary Cee notes:
The first draft of this puzzle included two titles that concerned Will. AMAZING GRACE ('Sensational, Ms. Kelly!') is not about a woman named Grace, and PEGGY SUE ('Take 'em to court, Ms. ... read more

The first draft of this puzzle included two titles that concerned Will. AMAZING GRACE ("Sensational, Ms. Kelly!") is not about a woman named Grace, and PEGGY SUE ("Take 'em to court, Ms. Lipton!") was a full name in itself, so if I could replace those, we might have something here. JULIE DO YA LOVE ME went in on a second draft. HEY PAULA ("Over here, Ms. Abdul!") no longer fit and had to go. In the final edit, Will removed PROUD MARY ("Satisfied, Ms. Shelley?") as it was too close to HELLO MARY LOU.

This is my first Sunday puzzle for the Times. I hope solvers enjoy it.

Jeff Chen notes:
Easy-breezy theme today from Gary; songs with a woman's name reinterpreted as a question or request. It reminded me of another of Gary's puzzles earlier this year incorporating song ... read more

Easy-breezy theme today from Gary; songs with a woman's name reinterpreted as a question or request. It reminded me of another of Gary's puzzles earlier this year incorporating song titles*. Fun to get leave a puzzle humming to a catchy song.

It was difficult for me to figure out what was going on at first, not having heard of HELLO MARY LOU. Perhaps that's a matter of tastes (I'm a jazz and classical wanna-be snob) or a generational thing? In any case, I would have loved to see SWEET CAROLINE or COME ON EILEEN first, as they both feel catchier, more karaoke-popular to me. It brings up an interesting point about order of themers. Sometimes you don't have a choice due to an ordered theme, but for a collection like this, I find it's nice to hit the solver with your best themer first, then close with your second-best (or vice-versa). Just like public speaking, I think it's good to start strong and end strong.

Some nice long fill today, particularly DYSTOPIAN, which describes a lot of young adult literature from a few years back. The Hunger Games spawned quite a litany of works in that genre. Cool how Gary opened up his grid too, incorporating long fill in the four corners (DIPPING OIL, PLANT CELLS, EXTRA LARGE, CALL TO MIND). KEY FACTOR feels a little forced, but I sure like DOG EAT DOG.

RED MEAT is also a nice piece of fill, but its symmetrical partner, ELLIMAN was a toughie to uncover. I vaguely grasped Greasy NEALE (awesome name by the way!), but it didn't come easy, plus the "Family Ties" mom (ELYSE) always makes me struggle. Perhaps breaking up that pair of 7s (with a black square right in the middle of each) would have helped, but that would mean Gary would have to get rid of another pair of black squares somewhere else, since this is already at the max word limit of 140.

Always tough trade-offs when it comes to quantity of good long fill vs. quality of short fill. I finished with an error at AKON/NIT, and felt like there were a few areas where the short-fill quality suffered (the IBE/LAE/NBATV section comes to mind). But overall, Gary managed to pack a lot of good stuff in that I enjoyed. It's tough to make a flawless Sunday puzzle, and I appreciate the 20 minutes of entertainment today.

*I'm gonna rock down to Electric Avenue if anyone needs me.

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© 2013, The New York TimesNo. 1124 ( 23,392 )
Across
1
Parade organizer : MACYS
6
Fake : FALSE
11
One-named singer with the hit "Locked Up" : AKON
15
Pat gently : DAB
18
Recipe amount : ADASH
19
___ mama (tropical drink) : BAHAMA
20
Belittling : DERISIVE
22
"Greetings, Ms. Retton!" : HELLOMARYLOU
24
Orwellian state : DYSTOPIA
25
Right angle : ELL
26
Turkey isn't one : REDMEAT
27
One who's done the "I do's" : WIFE
28
"___ further review ..." : UPON
29
Handle again? : RETITLE
31
"Very nice, Ms. Kennedy!" : SWEETCAROLINE
34
Eight, for starters? : OCTO
35
March org.? : ROTC
36
Admiral's inits. : USN
37
"Hurry up, Ms. Brennan!" : COMEONEILEEN
44
Little birdie : TIT
46
3.0 or 4.0 : GPA
49
Like some queens : APIAN
50
Sports league-backed cable network : NBATV
51
Market makeup: Abbr. : COS
52
Summer month in France : AOUT
53
Kind of cat : MANX
54
Feature of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West : ONEEYE
55
"Cheer up, Ms. Teasdale!" : SARASMILE
57
Advanced deg. : PHD
58
Bearded one : GNU
59
Title character in an A. A. Milne play : MRPIM
61
Person who holds property in trust : BAILEE
62
"Am I the one, Ms. Andrews?" : JULIEDOYALOVEME
66
"Sí!" at sea : AYEAYE
69
Shorties : RUNTS
70
"Hurrah!" : OLE
71
Scuba tank meas. : PSI
74
"You look hot in a thong, Ms. Hawkins!" : SEXYSADIE
76
Firenze's home : ITALIA
79
Bad mark : BLOT
80
"___ off!" : HATS
81
German name part : VON
82
Rock genre : METAL
83
Barbecue needs : COALS
84
Go off : ERR
85
Nothing special: Abbr. : REG
86
"I need a hand, Ms. Fleming!" : HELPMERHONDA
88
N.R.C. forerunner : AEC
90
Classical "You too?" : ETTU
93
Big ___ Conference : EAST
94
"Leave it alone, Ms. Zellweger!" : WALKAWAYRENEE
100
"Absolutely Fabulous" or "Father Ted" : BRITCOM
103
Jai ___ : ALAI
104
First razor with a pivoting head : ATRA
105
Yvonne with the 1978 #1 hit "If I Can't Have You" : ELLIMAN
107
Portuguese "she" : ELA
108
Pitcher Valenzuela : FERNANDO
110
"Time to show your cards, Ms. Field!" : LAYDOWNSALLY
112
Pulled : TUGGEDON
113
TV's Ashley and Mary-Kate : OLSENS
114
Kate's TV partner : ALLIE
115
Maxime or Marie: Abbr. : STE
116
Fury : RAGE
117
Agemates : PEERS
118
More Solomonic : WISER
Down
1
HBO host Bill : MAHER
2
Singer with the hit albums "19" and "21" : ADELE
3
Remember : CALLTOMIND
4
Designer inits. : YSL
5
2,000 pounds : SHORTTON
6
Food source : FARM
7
"Oh, now I see" : AHYES
8
1980s-'90s Corbin Bernsen TV drama : LALAW
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Cuffed : SMOTE
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___ de Nil (pale yellowish green) : EAU
11
Hound : ADDICT
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Main cause : KEYFACTOR
13
Figure skating champion Brian : ORSER
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Cavil : NIT
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Bread flavorer : DIPPINGOIL
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Par ___ : AVION
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"Moneyball" subject Billy : BEANE
19
Urged : BADE
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All ___ Day : SOULS
23
Breakfast order : MELON
27
Global commerce grp. since 1995 : WTO
30
Alpine climber's tool : ICEAX
32
Seaside eagle : ERN
33
No longer closeted : OUT
37
Not serious, in a way : CAMP
38
Sushi fish : OPAH
39
Cause of yawning : ENNUI
40
"Can ___ next?" : IBE
41
Port city from which Amelia Earhart last flew : LAE
42
Older form of a word : ETYMON
43
Always : EVERYTIME
45
La ___, Dominican Republic (first Spanish settlement in the Americas) : ISABELA
47
Whine : PULE
48
Suit to ___ : ATEE
51
Military wear, for short : CAMO
52
Date for Denis : AMIE
54
Away for a while : ONLEAVE
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The "S" of R.S.V.P. : SIL
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Matching : SAME
58
Blokes : GUYS
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Aqua, e.g. : PASTEL
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Noisy birds : JAYS
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Fairies' land : ERIN
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Having a projected date of : DUE
65
Drapery material : VOILE
66
Athlete who wrote "A Hard Road to Glory" : ASHE
67
Juniors, e.g. : YEAR
68
Egg choice : EXTRALARGE
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Botanists' microscopic study : PLANTCELLS
72
Persuaded : SOLD
73
"___ jungle out there" : ITSA
75
Cutthroat : DOGEATDOG
77
Sports org. supported by 66-Down : ATP
78
Beat it : LAM
79
Hype : BOOST
83
Logging aid : CHAINSAW
85
Home theater brand : RCA
86
Aqua, e.g. : HUE
87
Broadcast as an encore : RERAN
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Barely managing, with "out" : EKING
91
Power in old Hollywood : TYRONE
92
Singsong syllable : TRA
94
Drifts : WAFTS
95
Northern native : ALEUT
96
Film fish : WANDA
97
Football Hall-of-Fame coach Greasy : NEALE
98
"Family Ties" mom : ELYSE
99
Black-berried tree : ELDER
100
Gran Turismos and others : BMWS
101
Dragon puppet : OLLIE
102
One-third of an old Hollywood trio : MAYER
106
They carry charges : IONS
109
___ Lingus : AER
110
Cut : LOP
111
Rope-a-dope boxer : ALI

Answer summary: 13 unique to this puzzle, 3 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?