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HELP WANTED

New York Times, Sunday, August 9, 2015

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