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HELP WANTED

New York Times, Sunday, August 9, 2015

Author:
Melanie Miller
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutCollabs
18/9/20150
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1000000
RebusCirclePangram
000
Melanie Miller

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 140, Blocks: 68 Missing: {JQXZ} This is the debut puzzle for Ms. Miller. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
Impressive debut! Sunday 140-word puzzles are incredibly tough, maybe five times harder to make than a weekday 15x puzzle. I was worried to see a new constructor's name on a Sunday ... read more

Impressive debut! Sunday 140-word puzzles are incredibly tough, maybe five times harder to make than a weekday 15x puzzle. I was worried to see a new constructor's name on a Sunday 140-worder, expecting a ton of gluey bits. Wow, was I pleasantly surprised!

Flip that bird!

I tore through the top few rows, all so nice and smooth. Sure, there's A NUT and STYE up in the starting corner, but I really don't mind STYE at all. And A NUT is a tiny price to pay to get a biggish corner with HOT PLATE and OPEN MIC. Great to complete the first couple of rows with just a minor STL (which Cardinals and Rams fans won't mind at all!).

Really nice to get a little snazz in the rest of the puzzle with SNOW CAP and CANDY EGG, and more importantly, I didn't hitch anywhere due to gluey bits. Well, the ETAPE / ETTE / HET UP region didn't feel great, but if that's the crunchiest part of a Sunday puzzle, that's not too shabby.

The theme — X THE Y phrases wackily clued as if they were parts of want ads — largely worked for me. Retail marketer to FILL THE GAP was funny, as was a cocktail waitress to CALL THE SHOTS, and a cruise ship band to ROCK THE BOAT. We even get an edgy answer, FLIP THE BIRD interpreted as a stunt pilot's job ("bird" = nickname for a helicopter).

A blackjack dealer needed to HIT THE DECK was the only one that fell flat for me. I'm curious to hear what kind of casinos Melanie is going to. (First rule of casino club, we don't talk about casino club?)

Odd choice of clue for ATOM. A perfectly good word with lots of science-related cluing potential, and we get A TO M, a half of a two-volume encyclopedia? I can see that the same old clues for ATOM get boring. But really …

A well-crafted puzzle. The (10!) themers are on the short side for a Sunday puzzle, and Melanie did well to take advantage of this, flipping two of them and pushing them to the puzzle's sides, thus making more space for the eight across themers.

Looking forward to more from Melanie!

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© 2015, The New York TimesNo. 0809 ( 24,015 )
Across
1
Debate, with "out" : HASH
5
How some TV series are sold : ONDVD
10
Use a witching rod : DOWSE
15
Travel with Sinbad, say : SAIL
19
"Come ___ me, all ye that labor ..." : UNTO
20
Port of Puerto Rico : PONCE
21
Tony-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber musical : EVITA
22
Children's TV character who refers to himself in the third person : ELMO
23
Need rural real estate investor to ... : BUYTHEFARM
25
Need retail marketer to ... : FILLTHEGAP
27
Where to begin : STEPONE
28
Peaceful : SERENE
30
Kind of oil : SESAME
31
Projector unit : LUMEN
33
Characters in "The Hobbit" : RUNES
34
Militant grp. in a 1994 peace agreement : IRA
35
Chrome alternative : SAFARI
38
Newspaper section, for short : OBITS
40
See 44-Across : SNOWCAP
44
What a 40-Across produces in the summer : MELT
45
Need cocktail waitress to ... : CALLTHESHOTS
49
Photocopier option: Abbr. : LTR
50
Constellation between Perseus and Pisces : ARIES
52
Starting or ending point for a commuter: Abbr. : STA
53
Luxury rental : LIMO
54
Polo of "Meet the Parents" : TERI
55
Bit of sauce : LIP
56
Need bakery assistant to ... : TAKETHECAKE
61
Track runner : TRAIN
62
"Get lost!" : LETMEBE
64
Vicious : SAVAGE
65
Biblical mount that can be seen from three countries : ARARAT
66
Stockpiles : HOARDS
68
Be that as it may : YET
69
Acting monarch : REGENT
71
What a chair might provide : AGENDA
73
Sudden twist : WRENCH
76
Entered uninvited : CRASHED
79
Maguire of "The Great Gatsby" : TOBEY
80
Need cruise ship band to ... : ROCKTHEBOAT
82
Prefix with -graph : EPI
83
Take orders, say : WAIT
84
Complain, complain, complain : CARP
85
___ Aviv : TEL
86
Something rolling in the dough? : YEAST
88
Letters of interest : APR
89
Need orchestra conductor to ... : FACETHEMUSIC
94
___ gear : RIOT
95
Chianti, e.g. : REDWINE
97
Stage of the Tour de France : ETAPE
98
Onetime "Be all you can be" sloganeer : USARMY
100
Onetime : OLD
101
Benjamin of "Law & Order" : BRATT
103
Diamond protectors : TARPS
105
Crude house : SHANTY
108
Go over again : REREAD
110
They can leave scars : TRAUMAS
114
Need blackjack dealer to ... : HITTHEDECK
116
Need magician to ... : DOTHETRICK
118
Member of the 3,000-hit club, informally : AROD
119
P. C. Wren's "Beau ___" : GESTE
120
Classical Greek theater : ODEON
121
Like certain educational publishing : ELHI
122
Musical pitch? : DEMO
123
Board : GETON
124
Homage with humor : ROAST
125
Flow slowly : SEEP
Down
1
O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth : HUBS
2
"What are you, some kind of ___?" : ANUT
3
Bad eye sight : STYE
4
Tabletop cooker : HOTPLATE
5
Budding comic's opportunity : OPENMIC
6
Free, as a bank account : NOFEE
7
Part of a forensic database : DNA
8
Obsolescent tape holders : VCRS
9
Mark off? : DEMERIT
10
One side in football : DEFENSE
11
Like ones welcomed to the fold? : OVINE
12
Foxiness : WILES
13
The Rams, on scoreboards : STL
14
Erodes : EATSINTO
15
It takes two to do this : SEESAW
16
Bit of marine life : ALGA
17
Man of Allah : IMAM
18
Less than a full run : LOPE
24
The "xx" of xx:yy : HOUR
26
___ welcome : HEROS
29
First name on the Supreme Court : RUTH
32
"Warrior" actor Nick : NOLTE
35
Lowercase : SMALL
36
Cliffside home : AERIE
37
Need stunt pilot to ... : FLIPTHEBIRD
39
Calf cries : BLATS
40
Body opening? : SOME
41
Need control tower operator to ... : CLEARTHEAIR
42
Parts of Roman homes : ATRIA
43
Part of a forensic database : PRINT
46
Pumped : ASKED
47
Coal-mining waste : SLAG
48
One who walks on the wild side? : HIKER
51
"Easy there" : STEADY
54
Part of L.G.B.T., informally : TRANS
57
Magical start? : ABRA
58
Actress Salma of "Grown Ups" : HAYEK
59
Wedding or concert, e.g. : EVENT
60
Overhear : CATCH
61
Accord : TREATY
63
Pioneer in Impressionism : MONET
65
Indian tourist mecca : AGRA
67
Promised : SWORE
70
Source of a gut reaction? : ECOLI
71
Like feudal states, often : ATWAR
72
Freak out : GOAPE
74
Tkt. stub, e.g. : RCPT
75
Highly emotional, in dated lingo : HETUP
77
___ salts : EPSOM
78
Jingle, e.g. : DITTY
80
Campaign : RACE
81
Under attack : BESET
84
Easter treat : CANDYEGG
87
Marks taken off? : ERASURES
89
Muck : FILTH
90
Listen : HEARKEN
91
Suffix with cigar : ETTE
92
Bull run target : MATADOR
93
It's up in the air : CURRENT
96
Is unsatisfactory : WONTDO
99
Lovers' row : SPAT
101
Port in western France : BREST
102
Page opposite verso : RECTO
104
D'Artagnan mentor : ATHOS
105
Deep-bodied herring : SHAD
106
Fill a position : HIRE
107
Half of a two-volume encyclopedia, say : ATOM
109
Dullard : DODO
111
___ marker : MILE
112
Feel pity (for) : ACHE
113
Leave undone : SKIP
115
When doubled, a Ramone : DEE
117
Social : TEA

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle, 1 debuted here and reused later, 4 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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