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BANDS TOGETHER

New York Times, Sunday, December 13, 2015

Author:
Tracy Gray and Andrea Carla Michaels
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
249/8/20106/12/20185
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
6245610
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60431
Tracy Gray
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
626/12/200012/17/201834
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
64392200
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.63217
Andrea Carla Michaels

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 70 Missing: {JQV} This is puzzle # 16 for Ms. Gray. This is puzzle # 52 for Ms. Michaels. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Constructor notes:
TRACY: Two years ago, Mike Black and I collaborated on this concept but received a rejection due to inconsistencies with the theme. Mike's career was really taking off so he encouraged me ... read more

TRACY: Two years ago, Mike Black and I collaborated on this concept but received a rejection due to inconsistencies with the theme. Mike's career was really taking off so he encouraged me to give it another try with a new constructor. The puzzle lay idle until I teamed up with Andrea this past April.

Our first version received a "we're interested" from Will and Joel but they wanted us to rework the puzzle and change our theme entries to include either two or three band names, not a mix of both, for consistency and elegance. Since most of our three band name entries were too long (THE CARS RUSH ONE DIRECTION (23)), we concentrated on crunching together two band names, striving for theme entries with the best "surface sense." I was sorry to have to drop THE POLICE QUIET RIOT from our approved theme set since we couldn't find another (18) for symmetry, and my own personal favorite, STRAY CATS CROWDED HOUSE, didn't make the cut.

One of the memorable moments during the construction process was writing to and getting a response from "The Pretenders" band asking for a definitive answer on whether or not their name included "the" or not. Their response: "The answer is there is no definitive answer! It is both and either!"

Also, working with Andrea was a hoot! Her quick wit and sense of humor, combined with her "naming" talent, came through loud and clear from San Fran to Baltimore in the multitude of emails we exchanged. Thanks, Andrea — so glad we BANDED TOGETHER!

ACME: When Tracy approached me to see if I would collaborate on her fun and bouncy Sunday idea, I couldn't have been more delighted, because I love thinking about themes and am less fond of creating the actual grid! Although we'd never met in person, we seemed to be on the same page as to what needed doing. My favorite discarded entry was a bit darker, i.e. "STRAY CATS POISON TOTO."

I mostly create Mondays, though I have had three or four Sundays with new papa Patrick Blindauer. This is my first (accepted) Sunday-sized collaboration with a woman — I asked Will if that was a first. (It's not, there have been five or six in the past, all involving the quiet, often-unsung heroine Nancy Salomon … though it's been almost ten years since it's been two gals on a Sunday).

There must have been 500 emails back and forth on this puzzle and I'm thrilled it's seeing the light of day! And as Dick Clark might say, I hope you find that it has a nice beat that you can dance to!

Jeff Chen notes:
I imagine BANDS TOGETHER inspired the puzzle theme, two pop bands glommed together to make either a real or a wacky phrase. My knowledge of pop music is woeful at best (huge jazz and ... read more

I imagine BANDS TOGETHER inspired the puzzle theme, two pop bands glommed together to make either a real or a wacky phrase. My knowledge of pop music is woeful at best (huge jazz and classical fan, along with old-school rock and rap) so I'm glad Tracy and Acme used mostly giant-name bands. I still had to look up TRAIN, FUN, and FREE, but a quick Google search tells me that they are indeed bands. Huh.

No Doubt's first album

I dug the neat discovery of RUSH THE DOORS. It's a phrase I've heard before in relation to Black Friday sales, so it's fortuitous that it just happens to be two bands put together. BOSTON CREAM pie is one of my favorites, so that was fun too. EAGLES WINGS and YES NO DOUBT also seemed like legit phrases in actual use.

I wish there had been more consistency though, as the rest of the themers are pretty made-up sounding. It's perfectly fine to have a crossword where every themer is as wacky as FUN SMASHING PUMPKINS or POISON FREE, but the mix of spot-on real phrases and kooky ones didn't do it for me. And ONE DIRECTION TRAFFIC ... it's neither real nor very kooky.

With any Sunday 140-word puzzle, there are bound to be a few minor gluey bits of the LAI, AUST, TGI, HOC variety. Pretty easy for me to overlook these short and common offenders. But throw in a few more AGTS, OAST, OGEE, ORIG, OLEIN entries, and it starts to affect my solving pleasure. I can understand why Tracy and Acme might have gone to 138 words in order to reduce their number of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words (like Will's been looking for), but I'd much rather have more short words that are cleaner, than fewer that are gluier. Sticking to a 140 word count can help achieve that.

Some very nice long fill added to my solving experience, ISAAC NEWTON, UTTER ROT, and PRIMROSES my favorite. (PRIMROSES reminds me of Prim, Katniss's younger sister in "The Hunger Games," who Katniss sacrificed herself for. Hey, we get PEETA in the grid too!) A couple of neat single words were bonuses too, APTITUDE, INDIFFERENT, STALWART all adding ELEGANCE.

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 1213 ( 24,141 )
Across
1. Plentiful : AMPLE
6. Pomeranian, e.g. : LAPDOG
12. Slow musical movements : ADAGIOS
19. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," e.g. : CAROL
20. Available, as a London limo : ONHIRE
21. A touch of class : ELEGANCE
22. Elevated sight in the Windy City : CHICAGOTRAIN
24. "Why didn't I think of that?!" : NEATIDEA
25. Forward, as a letter : REMAIL
26. Quest for the unknown? : ALGEBRA
28. Aid for a flood-prone house : STILT
29. Itinerary abbr. : ARR
30. Some are 13-/14-Down : NARCS
33. It's for the birds : ROOST
35. Key state geographically or electorally?: Abbr. : FLA
36. All the cars going the same way : ONEDIRECTIONTRAFFIC
42. Nominative or accusative : CASE
44. "Grand" name in the frozen food aisle : EDY
45. "Eww, gross!" : YUCK
46. Arch type : OGEE
47. Fatty liquid : OLEIN
49. Brewery kiln : OAST
51. Twaddle : UTTERROT
55. "Absolutely!" : YESNODOUBT
58. "The King of Queens" co-star Remini : LEAH
60. Job-related move, for short : RELO
61. Certain sorority member, informally : DELTA
62. They're seen spread on the back of a quarter : EAGLESWINGS
65. Title ship in a 1997 Spielberg movie : AMISTAD
69. Former baseball boss Bud : SELIG
71. Times when shops close : SIESTAS
72. Kind of pie or doughnut : BOSTONCREAM
74. Public spat : SCENE
76. Medium for cuneiform writing : CLAY
77. Victoria's home: Abbr. : AUST
78. Like child-safe cleaning products : POISONFREE
83. Strong and unwavering : STALWART
86. Cold War capital : BONN
87. Investor's concern : YIELD
88. Recipe amounts : CUPS
89. Skyrocket : ZOOM
91. ___ Claire, Wis. : EAU
94. Org. in "The Martian" : NASA
95. Lark for a Halloween hooligan : FUNSMASHINGPUMPKINS
101. Chemical suffix : ASE
102. ___ Mellark, Katniss Everdeen's partner in "The Hunger Games" : PEETA
103. Bar snacks : TAPAS
104. "Now the truth comes out!" : OHO
107. Home Depot competitor : LOWES
110. Land on the Red Sea : ERITREA
113. A wink or a nod, maybe : SIGNAL
115. Gift : APTITUDE
117. What many Black Friday shoppers do at midnight : RUSHTHEDOORS
120. Newborns : NEONATES
121. "We've been approved!" : ITSAGO
122. Deliverer's assignment : ROUTE
123. Like Crimea, now : ANNEXED
124. Sound-related : PHONIC
125. Time and time again : OFTEN
Down
1. Capital of Ghana : ACCRA
2. Bill for cable TV : MAHER
3. Early spring blooms : PRIMROSES
4. "Livin' La Vida ___" : LOCA
5. Lover of Sir Lancelot : ELAINE
6. John : LOO
7. Symbol of industry : ANT
8. "Wheel of Fortune" category : PHRASE
9. Ratchet (up) : DIAL
10. Nee: Abbr. : ORIG
11. No-name : GENERIC
12. Bosox division : ALEAST
13. With 14-Down, figs. in the war on drugs : DEA
14. See 13-Down : AGTS
15. It may be jaunty : GAIT
16. Not taking sides : INDIFFERENT
17. Peacock's "eyes" : OCELLI
18. Northwest airport named for two cities : SEATAC
21. Big bankruptcy of 2001 : ENRON
23. Open spot in a woods : GLADE
27. Something bound to sell? : BOOK
31. Relieve (of) : RID
32. Yelp : CRYOUT
34. Show, with "out" : TROT
37. No de Cologne? : NEIN
38. Dermatological sac : CYST
39. Sound of disapproval : TUT
40. Dating datum : AGE
41. Kind of wheel : FERRIS
42. Like the comment "Maybe, maybe not" : COY
43. Order at McSorley's : ALE
48. Silently acknowledge : NODTO
50. Humiliates : ABASES
51. Carrier inits. : UAL
52. Professors' reading : THESES
53. Actress Kurylenko of "Quantum of Solace" : OLGA
54. Fling : TOSS
56. Travelmate in "On the Road" : DEAN
57. Clunker : OLDCAR
58. China's Chou En-___ : LAI
59. Goads : EGGSON
62. American ___ : ELM
63. Chinese: Prefix : SINO
64. Pipsqueak : WEENY
65. They may be taught with a song : ABCS
66. Undergo ecdysis : MOLT
67. Who said "Aristotle is my friend - but my greatest friend is truth" : ISAACNEWTON
68. Apple Pencil, for one : STYLUS
70. Put away : EAT
73. Place to get stuck : RUT
75. Films : CINEMA
78. Spectacle : POMP
79. Lead role in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" : FINN
80. Solve by logic : REASONOUT
81. Golfer Ernie : ELS
82. LeShan who wrote "It's Better to Be Over the Hill Than Under It" : EDA
84. Typing test fig. : WPM
85. Pronto : ASAP
86. Weigh (down) : BOG
89. Baked ___ : ZITI
90. Traveling : ONATRIP
92. Candy Crush Saga, for one : APP
93. Czar's decree : UKASE
95. Singer/actress Lola : FALANA
96. One of the majors : USOPEN
97. Favored at the 96-Down, say : SEEDED
98. "___ to you!" : HERES
99. Area code 801 resident : UTAHAN
100. San ___, Argentina : ISIDRO
105. Writer Bret : HARTE
106. TV's ___ twins : OLSEN
108. Start of a Mozart title : EINE
109. Classic record label for R&B and soul : STAX
111. Book that begins "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land" : RUTH
112. He, in Italian : ESSO
114. Slip : GOOF
116. Sport-___ : UTE
118. ___ Fridays (restaurant chain) : TGI
119. Ad follower : HOC

Answer summary: 7 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 2 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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