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A CENTURY OF SONG

New York Times, Sunday, April 23, 2017

Author: Olivia Mitra Framke
Editor: Will Shortz
Olivia Mitra Framke
TotalDebutCollabs
14/23/20170
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1000000
RebusCirclePangram
010
Horse Head

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 71 Missing: {X} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Framke NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: When this puzzle is done, draw a line connecting the 11 circled letters, starting and ending in square #28, so as to spell a phrase related to the puzzle's theme.
Olivia Mitra Framke notes: I am so grateful and amazed that my first published crossword is with the New York Times... and on a Sunday no less. What a place to start! It was during my college years at Vassar that I really got ... more
Olivia Mitra Framke notes:

I am so grateful and amazed that my first published crossword is with the New York Times... and on a Sunday no less. What a place to start!

It was during my college years at Vassar that I really got into crosswords, not on campus, but when I'd visit home. It became a ritual that my dad would hoard the Times Magazines so that we could do the Sunday puzzles together when I returned. We'd take turns, and each time I'd try to "crack" the theme before he did. In the beginning, I didn't have a chance at finishing one on my own, but I did so many that soon I was getting the themes before my dad even got a chance to look at them.

Solving Elizabeth Gorski's 2013 Secretariat puzzle was a turning point for me. I was completely floored by her ingenuity and wanted to know exactly how she pulled off such a cool trick. So I started looking into what it takes to make crosswords and made a few for fun.

Three years later, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands after finishing grad school. I started to wonder about the world of crossword publication and got in touch with Nancy Salomon, who kindly gave me a crash course in puzzle construction. I learned so much from her, and there is simply no way I would be here without her tough love and incredible patience. With her help, I went from struggling to find the right construction software to having this puzzle accepted by Will in just under six weeks. It's been one hell of a ride.

I'm very proud of today's puzzle, which honors one of my all-time favorite musicians. The grid went through many iterations, but once I decided on using a phrase as the connection points for the image (instead of alphabetical connectors), it started to come together. I hope you like it!!

Jeff Chen notes: Homage to a jazz great, near what would have been ELLA's 100th birthday. I'm a huge jazz fan, having played in jazz bands for 20 years in my youth; neat to see Ella honored. Love that I SING LIKE I FEEL ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

Homage to a jazz great, near what would have been ELLA's 100th birthday. I'm a huge jazz fan, having played in jazz bands for 20 years in my youth; neat to see Ella honored.

Love that I SING LIKE I FEEL quote — perfect for someone known for her soulfulness, right up there with Nina Simone. If you haven't listened to her HOW HIGH THE MOON rendition, it's well worth a listen. A TISKET A TASKET is not one of my favorites, but it did help make her a star.

A shame that IT DON'T MEAN A THING didn't make the cut. One of her best performances.

Tribute puzzles can feel like a Wikipedia page, a dry listing of factoids, so I liked the QUEEN OF JAZZ crown visual. I wasn't familiar with this nickname, though — and LADY ELLA was only vaguely familiar — so that took away some of the impact for me.

I used to think that dot-to-dot puzzles weren't that hard to make … until I constructed one (coming out later this year). Turns out they're devilish, especially if you need exact placements of certain letters.

It wouldn't be hard to build around the letters if the crown were the only factor, but they all must interact with so many themers.

As if that wasn't hard enough, Will's max of 140 words means that you have to build the entire grid using fairly long entries!

Take the upper middle region. ABEET, SIA, OF NO, RESNAP aren't great. But with ELLA, the E O F hanging out in that section, and the long words like CONSUMER, it's hard to avoid using gluey bits. (If it were allowable, going up to 142 words could have helped, maybe by placing a black square at the S of CONSUMER.)

I did wince at ACETAL crossing AGHA and NUI crossing NUIT. Both should be gettable for regular crossword solvers, but it's these kind of things that potentially turn solvers away from crosswords. (If I had a nickel for every time I've heard "I have to know WHAT?")

Overall, Olivia does pretty well with this Herculean task — quite a way to make one's debut!

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© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0423 ( 24,638 )
Across Down
1. Italian relatives : MAMMAS
7. Part of the earth : CRUST
12. ___ Coast, scenic area near Capri : AMALFI
18. Brutish sort : GORILLA
19. "Dallas" actress ___ J. Wilson : SHEREE
20. Mermaids' home in Neverland : LAGOON
21. 1938 #1 hit for 68-/70-Across, which was inspired by a nursery rhyme : ATISKETATASKET
23. Listless feelings : ENNUIS
24. Many August births : LEOS
25. Popular pairing with steak au poivre : CABERNET
26. Charm : BEGUILE
27. And the following: Abbr. : ETSEQ
29. Longbow wood : YEW
30. Detached : ALOOF
32. One for the plus column : ASSET
33. Congestion site : SINUS
35. Wyatt of the Old West : EARP
37. Extremely loud, in music : FFF
39. Soft drink brand : DADS
40. Love interest for Anastasia in "Anastasia" : DIMITRI
42. ___ Reports : CONSUMER
45. Suffix with sheep or hawk : ISH
48. Vintner's cask : TUN
49. Old car named for an explorer : DESOTO
51. Elder Lannister son on "Game of Thrones" : JAIME
53. Stone Age relics : NEOLITHS
56. Piñata smasher, maybe : NINO
57. "___ parvis magna" ("Greatness from small beginnings": Lat.) : SIC
58. H.S. big shots : SRS
60. Talk endlessly to : JAWAT
61. Act like : APE
63. Illustrator software maker : ADOBE
65. Kama ___ : SUTRA
67. For grades 1-12, briefly : ELHI
68. With 70-Across, nickname for a celebrated performer born on April 25, 1917 : LADY
70. See 68-Across : ELLA
71. Dreary : GRAY
72. Dog whose tail curls over the back : SPITZ
74. Great Lakes natives : ERIES
76. Sister of Helios and Selene : EOS
77. Polish coin : ZLOTY
78. Promising action on a fishing line : TUG
79. Picks out of a lineup, informally : IDS
81. Letter-shaped fastener : TNUT
83. Button on the bottom of a multipage form : CONTINUE
85. Ring : PHONE
87. Frank : HOTDOG
89. Rapa ___ (locale of many monoliths) : NUI
90. Sports team V.I.P.s : GMS
91. Set piece? : TVCAMERA
93. Natural history museum sights : FOSSILS
96. Turkish title : AGHA
98. Road offense, for short : DUI
99. The hots : LUST
100. Bluish shades : TEALS
103. Green who was a four-time vocal coach on "The Voice" : CEELO
105. Question asked while extending the hand, maybe : TRUCE
108. Reassuring touch : PAT
110. Fixture on a fishing dock : SCALE
112. One state symbol of Massachusetts : ELMTREE
114. Introduces slowly : PHASESIN
117. Record label that looks like the name of a radio station : KTEL
118. Lao-tzu follower : TAOIST
119. Notable quote by 68-/70-Across : ISINGLIKEIFEEL
121. Set oneself right, in a way : ATONED
122. Five Pillars of Islam, e.g. : TENETS
123. "Bonehead" and "numbskull," e.g. : INSULTS
124. Solitudinarians : LONERS
125. State representatives? : STARS
126. Ride and Field : SALLYS
1. Sacred choral works : MOTETS
2. Melodic passages : ARIOSI
3. Accidentally hit "reply all" on, say : MISSEND
4. Jan. inits. : MLK
5. "Smart" one : ALEC
6. Skewered Asian dish : SATAY
7. Arctic food fish : CHAR
8. Close again, as a purse : RESNAP
9. "Family Matters" ubernerd : URKEL
10. Manage : SEETO
11. Winter celebration abroad : TET
12. Sheltered at sea : ALEE
13. Japanese comic style : MANGA
14. Mass recitation : AGNUSDEI
15. Repeated collaborator with 68-/70-Across : LOUISARMSTRONG
16. Thwarted : FOILED
17. Maps of Alaska and Hawaii, often : INSETS
18. Big blow : GALE
19. Flight attendant : STEWARD
22. Red as ___ : ABEET
26. Close buds : BFFS
28. "Enough already!" : QUITIT
31. Be ___ use : OFNO
34. Unlikely book club recommendation : SMUT
36. Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette ___" : RIEN
38. Name on a blimp : FUJI
41. Gets some air : INHALES
42. ___ Nast (magazine publisher) : CONDE
43. Good name for an Irish carpenter? : OTOOLE
44. Bubs : MACS
45. For laughs : INJEST
46. Arctic young 'un : SEALPUP
47. Signature tune of 68-/70-Across : HOWHIGHTHEMOON
50. One-named singer with the 2016 #1 hit "Cheap Thrills" : SIA
52. Slip in a book : ERRATUM
54. Café additive : LAIT
55. Trade jabs (with) : SPAR
57. Flavors : SEASONS
59. Approve : SAYYES
62. Hollywood job title : EDITOR
64. Freedom Caucus, e.g. : BLOC
66. Wrinkly fruit : UGLI
69. Gossipmonger : YENTA
73. Portion of a penny : ZINC
75. Where Nice is en France : SUD
77. Tough draws in the game Bananagrams : ZTILES
80. No fun, as a party : DEAD
82. Vegan staple : TOFU
84. Van Gogh's "Le Café de ___" : NUIT
86. Beverage sponsor of the old "Little Orphan Annie" radio show : OVALTINE
87. One in line? : HEIR
88. Biblical quartet : GOSPELS
92. Silence : MUTE
94. East German secret police : STASI
95. Quantity of toys on Santa's sleigh : SACKFUL
96. Perfumer's liquid : ACETAL
97. Summer piazza treat : GELATO
99. Near ringer : LEANER
101. Nowadays : LATELY
102. Occurrences in the 30s, say : SLEETS
104. Skating champ Brian : ORSER
106. Sore : UPSET
107. Setting for a fine meal : CHINA
109. Polynesian carvings : TIKIS
111. Bracket shapes : ELLS
113. Takeoff figs. : ETDS
115. Three-stripers: Abbr. : SGTS
116. Singer with the 1984 hit "99 Luftballons" : NENA
119. Part of T.G.I.F. : ITS
120. Cuba or Catalina: Abbr. : ISL

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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