One-named singer with hit Locked Up / SUN 11-24-13 / Sports league-backed cable network / Yvonne with 1978 #1 hit If I Can't Have You / Port city from which Amelia Earhart last flew / La Dominican Republic first Spanish settlement in Americas / Football Hall-of-Fame coach Greasy

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: "Hits and Ms.es" — songs with women's names in the titles. Clues reimagine the songs as being about actual women:
  • 22A: "Greetings, Ms. Retton!" ("HELLO, MARYLOU")
  • 31A: "Very nice, Ms. Kennedy!" ("SWEET, CAROLINE") (ew, introduction of the comma there is painful, especially as other songs do not have to be similarly altered to fit the clue)
  • 37A: "Hurry up, Ms. Brennan!" ("COME ON, EILEEN")
  • 55A: "Cheer up, Ms. Teasdale!") ("SARA, SMILE!")
  • 62A: "Am I the one, Ms. Andrews?" ("JULIE, DO YA LOVE ME?")
  • 74A: "You look hot in a thong, Ms. Hawkins!" ("SEXY, SADIE") (ew, ew, ew … why in the world did the clue go to "thong"??? Clue works perfectly well with just "You look hot…" "In a thong" is completely gratuitous and kinda creepy)
  • 86A: "I need a hand, Ms. Fleming!" ("HELP ME, RHONDA!")
  • 94A: "Leave it alone, Ms. Zellweger!" ("WALK AWAY, RENEE")
  • 110A: "Time to show your cards, Ms. Field!" ("LAY DOWN, SALLY!") — is that the phrase for "show your hand"—"lay down"?
Word of the Day: ELDER (99D: Black-berried tree) —
Sambucus (elder or elderberry) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. It was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified due to genetic evidence. It contains between 5 and 30 species ofdeciduous shrubs, small trees and herbaceous perennial plants.
The genus occurs in temperate to subtropical regions of the world. More widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, its Southern Hemisphere occurrence is restricted to parts of Australasia and South America. Many species are widely cultivated for their ornamental leaves, flowers and fruit.[2]
The leaves are pinnate with 5–9 leaflets (rarely 3 or 11). Each leaf is 5–30 cm (2.0–12 in) long, and the leaflets have serrated margins. They bear large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers in late spring; these are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries (rarely yellow or white). (wikipedia)
• • •

This theme is far too straightforward and weak for the alleged best puzzle in the country. It's songs with women's names in them. That is all. The clues try to dress it up, but it's lipstick on a pig. Puzzle ends up being way way way too easy in the theme stuff (except for "JULIE, DO YA LOVE ME?"—never heard of that), and then clunky, crosswordese-heavy, and artificially toughened in the fill. Who clues ELDER that way? A tree? I know "elderberries," but I thought those came from bushes. My pop music knowledge of the late-70s is very good, but ELLIMAN? Couldn't bring her back at all. Anyway, I blew through the theme part, and then hacked at the rest with a machete. Lots of wincing, not a lot of grinning. Why can't I BE more positive? Right? Well, because. Because. Because LAE, Lady. LAE. Am I pronouncing that right? Is it pronounced "lie"? Gah, who knows? As you can see, now I'm just amusing myself, as the puzzle has failed to do that job for me. I do like KEY FACTOR alright. And BRITCOM (100A: "Absolutely Fabulous" or "Father Ted"). DOG EAT DOG, somewhat. The rest, no.


That's all. Wish there was more to talk about, but there isn't. Unless you want me to catalog the suboptimal fill for you. NEALE! ELYSE! Oh, you don't want me to do that? OK, good. I BE tired, anyway. Need to LAE down. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

77 comments:

John Child 12:09 AM  

If this is Hits and Ms.es, then what is Ms. Elliman's1978 "Hit "doing in there as a non-theme answer?

Otherwise it was OK for me. I didn't know several of the women clued, so I didn't dash down all he themes right away. Was the fill really that much worse than normal on Sunday?

Two new words for me, OPAH and PULE. I knew about mewling but not puleing (sp?).

Steve J 12:13 AM  

Far more entertaining writeup than puzzle. Even though I didn't recognize a few of the songs (the ones with Mary Lou, Julie and Renee), theme answers came together pretty easily. Most of the rest was quite clunky and unexciting.

Agreed that the inclusion of thong was a bit creepy and unnecessary in that clue.

DOG EAT DOG was nice, and BRITCOM was one of the precious few bits of zippy, fresh fill. Otherwise, this was a mechanical, blasé solve for me.

wreck 12:26 AM  

theme answers were gimmees - struggled with NE corner

Lee Glickstein 12:57 AM  

Two Sunday bowsers in a row and I can't help but think of a decision Will Shortz made about 7 years ago when the pay for a Sunday puzzle went up to $1000. His decision was to stop looking at Sunday theme ideas that I, among other constructors, had been submitting. In the previous 8-10 years Will and I batted around themes that made it into 5-7 Sunday papers (I can't find the database and I hope I'm not exaggerating.)

He thought the higher pay would make it worth the constructor's while to construct and submit the complete puzzle. That didn't work for me at all and I never submitted another one.

I imagine there are some others in this boat and that my 5 or so ghost entries the past seven years might be multiplied by how many?

My guess is that the pool of quality themes Will has at his disposal has been watered down significantly since that decision.

Lee

jae 1:07 AM  

Easy medium for me too.  Started off smoothly but got bogged down in the NE.  AKON was a WOE and ORSER took a while to surface (I had to keep suppressing Boitano).  Also was looking for a 1984 state instead of the more general DYSTOPIA.

Liked it more than Rex.  Thought the theme was cute probably because I knew all the songs.  Must have been geezercentic?  Yep, just checked, the newest one is the  Dexys Midnight Runners (only?) hit Come On Eileen from 1982. 

Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Always a surprise what manages to slip through the cracks of the NYT.

I've known about AKON for several years now - interesting that it gets its debut now.

Theme was fine for me. I don't understand the fuss about the thong clue. Have thongs suddenly gone out of fashion?

Evan 1:44 AM  

ELLIMUN/RERUN did me in. 87-Down is really devilishly clued in the either-it's-present-tense-or-it's-past-tense sort of way. I wrote it instinctively as the present tense, then filled out the rest of the crosses for 105-Across, looked at it askance, then moved on. Because I'd never heard of Yvonne ELLIMAN, and ELLIMUN looks just as plausible. I won't call that a Natick because, in fairness, editors almost always clue RERUN as a noun rather than a verb, so I probably should have caught that. But even if that square had been the last one I'd filled out, I likely still would have gotten it wrong.

Fairly easy otherwise. AKON was a gimme because only just yesterday I re-watched The Lonely Island's "I Just Had Sex" video, which is hilarious, as always. It's been too long since I've read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, so I didn't remember that the Wicked Witch of the West had only ONE EYE. The movie made me think she had two.

On the whole puzzle: I liked the theme idea, but I thought it was a little strange that two of the nine women's names were at the beginnings of the theme entries, while the rest were at the ends. If it had been a more even distribution I'd have liked that better. DYSTOPIA is a fun word, but some of that fill ain't pretty....ETYMON and VOILE, anyone?

Incidentally, here's a list of songs with women's names in the titles. Some other ones include "Lovely Rita" by The Beatles ["Wonderful, Ms. Hayworth!"], "Damn It Rose" by Don Henley ["Jeezus, Ms. Kennedy!"], "My Michelle" by Guns 'N Roses ["Well, Ms. Obama!"], and "So Long, Marianne" by Leonard Cohen ["Take care, Ms. Faithfull"].

Bob Kerfuffle 1:52 AM  

This was quite a slog for me, since I am not big on popular music. Some of the themers looked familiar once I got them, but many didn't.

In the end I DNF, because of a fauxhold in the Maryland area.

With SARAS____ in place, I had 48 D correctly as ATEE, but 47 D incorrectly as POUT, which led to 55A, "Cheer up, Ms. Teasdale!" as SARA's BLUE.

I could accept 52 D, Date for Denis as ABIE, couldn't spell the French word for August, never heard of DIPPING OIL, thought about PULE but just didn't care at that point!

Also, see that I had 87 D, Broadcast as an encore, as RERUN, making 105 A ELLIMUN instead of ELLIMAN, but never heard of her anyway.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

I'll go with the easy medium also. Jon poked his head in the living room and queried "what's with the concert every few minutes?" (More like every 15 minutes) I couldn't help bursting into song each time one revealed itself. I was also thankful that Avatar is just deaf enough not to start howling each time I tuned in.
The only one I didn't know was JULIE DO YA LOVE ME, it took me forever to accept YA and to quit trying to squish You in there.

Loved the OLLIE/ALLIE crossing.

Good one Gary Cee, kept me amused for a long, tuneful time.

Benko 2:29 AM  

Yvonne ELLIMAN's one hit would probably be recognized by most readers. It was written by the BeeGees and was part of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I still hear it on the radio from time to time.
-Dexys Midnight Runners only had one hit in the USA, but they were big for three albums, each of which had a different concept and band image, in their native UK. Singer Kevin Rowlands briefly attempted to have a comeback paid for by Oasis' record label Creation in the late 90s...he dressed in drag and sang terrible songs which only sold a handful of copies, greatly contributing to the destruction of Creation Records, one of the truly great indie labels of all time.

George Barany 4:26 AM  

I can't claim to be any sort of connoisseur of pop music, but this puzzle did inspire a trip to wikipedia. "Sexy Sadie" from the Beatles has a creepy back story, from the Fab Four's India phase. Apparently, John Lennon became disillusioned about the Maharishi's perceived advances at one of the female members of the entourage. In terms of the puzzle, cluing in terms of the fictional Sadie Hawkins seems inconsistent with the way that other theme clues were set up (and ironically, there is a real Sally Hawkins, who could have seen service in lieu of Sally Field on a different clue). My other concern relates to the reasonably well-known fact that the real Caroline Kennedy (as a child) inspired Neil Diamond to write "Sweet Caroline" (and the singer showed up personally at her 50th birthday party to serenade her). Correct me if I'm wrong, but for all other theme entries, the woman in the clue and the woman in the song title are different.

jae 4:31 AM  

@Evan @ Bob K. -- Dang! Me too for RERuN. Didn't notice the error. When you do these pencil on paper you occasionally miss the subtle @acme OWS.

@Benko -- Did know the song and I have the vinyl soundtract album I bought in the 70's (I did mention geezer, right?). Obviously did not know the artist....DNF!

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

Best mis-direct of the puzzle......
"ms. Kennedy" has to be Jackie, it has to be Jackier....it just has to be......

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

I actually remember Elliman. She was scheduled to perform at my college during the SNF craze. Concert was canceled, probably because no one wanted to here just here one hit song. Unfortunately, I remembered her as Yvonne EllimUND. When that didn't fit, just dropped the D, which worked with "rerun".

AliasZ 8:06 AM  

I usually like Gary Cee's puzzles. This one, not so much. I did not know 3 of the 9 theme songs, but those 6 were all gimmes at first read.

I remember reading that Will Shortz prefers lower theme density, better quality fill and lower word count for Sundays. I think this one would've been better with, let's say, only six themers, a crunchier fill and a more open grid.

However, I did enjoy much of the longer fill, like CALL TO MIND, CHAINSAW, DIPPING OIL, KEY FACTOR and DOG EAT DOG.

Here are the clues for eight more theme entries:

- I am going to bed, Ms. Papas.
- Ms. Aniston, that's a berry-bearing evergreen.
- Who happens to walk in my direction, but Ms. Steenburgen.
- Ms. Stewart, love of mine.
- Really, Ms. York!
- You're not making much sense, Ms. McGowan.
- Plant a wet one right here, Ms. Winslet.
- Gee willikers, Ms. Ringwald!

There could have been more but I got tired of playing.

This being Sunday, I thought that a little Gospel music would be entirely appropriate. Here is EVERY TIME I Feel the Spirit.

Enjoy the balance of your weekend.

Mohair Sam 8:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:30 AM  

I saw Bobby Sherman in concert over 40 years ago. I was one of hundreds of pre-teen girls swooning as he sang "Julie, Do Ya Love Me." I still remember all the words. I found this puzzle to be easier than most.

Nick D 8:32 AM  

Well, after years of lurking, this puzzle finally prompted me to comment. Overall, I found the "theme" too easy (because there was no twist for the solver to figure out) and not worthy of a Sunday.

But the fill? Was excruciating! Last time I checked, "plant cells" is not a thing, and "dipping oil" is also stretching it too far. I also had to resort to the Internet to solve the NEALE/ELLIMAN and AKON/ORSER intersections, which were impossible to solve if you don't have pop music and sports knowledge. Not to mention the fact that none of those people are what you would call household names or anything close to it.

Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

A few weeks ago I wrote here that pop music peaked with COMEONEILEEN and that nothing good had been written since. Apparently constructor Gary Cee agrees - the 31-year-old Dexys Midnight Runners classic is easily the youngest of the songs used in the theme. Talk about a puzzle skewing old.

Easiest Sunday in quite a while for the oldsters in this household, even ELLIMAN was a gimme. Staled for a while because we didn't know AKON and spelled DYSTOPIA with and "i", but otherwise it was clear sailing.

Shout out to @Rex for not linking the horrid JULIEDOYALOVEME.

LAE? Well, we had ELA - why not 'ale' and 'lea'?

Too-Rye-Ay

August West 8:58 AM  

Rex, Steve J and others have already expressed my sentiments precisely, so I'll just leave y'all with a little Geezerberry Wine to sip as we ponder how quickly it all goes by.

Captcha = Usedede. Crossword constructor's confession?

Bunella 9:17 AM  

Being a child of the 60's and always having music on in the house, I did know all the songs but the rest was just

Time for bed, Miss Dunne.

Z 9:50 AM  

Imagine my surprise at looking at the Los Angeles Auto Show article on page 10 of the NYT Sports section and seeing this caption, "Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo...." Off to see if BMW also has a "Gran Turismo."

Carola 9:56 AM  

I usually enjoy Gary Cee's puzzles, but this one didn't grab me. I knew only two of the song titles, so didn't have the fun of fond reminiscences - or the ease of writing titles right in, and found the promising-looking long Downs disappointing (PLANT CELLS), which sapped my remaining enthusiasm. Lost the will to (try to) finish.

Moving on to greener pastures with Paula Gamache's Diagramless.

loren muse smith 9:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 10:00 AM  

PULE? I like it. @John Child – ridicule/ridiculing, rule/ruling, so I looked it up, and see it is indeed PULE/puling. Change grade point average to Good Morning America crossing "mule," and we wouldn't be puling about it. But I kinda liked seeing the word. It had me staring out the window considering how I could use it today. "Hey. Stop yer puling or I'll take a CHAINSAW to you GUYS and smite the lot of YA."

@M & A - Nothing worse than listening to a pewit's eyepit PULE.

I have a son at WVU and a daughter at Pitt. Hailing from the UNC/Duke rivalry, I wasn't fully aware until recently that WVU/Pitt was a big rivalry, too. SWEET CAROLINE is, mysteriously, a beloved Pitt song. WVU has its own enhanced version. I heard it at every wedding reception when I was at the club. My husband told me I shouldn't embed a YouTube clip. It has a bad word that rhymes with pewit eyepit.

@Evan, (and @jae) "ELLIMAN/RERAN did me in." Me, too. What's worse, I missed another cross there. For me, it was "noale/ollimun/rerun." Sheesh.

@Nick D welcome! – yep – AKON/ORSER was a big guess for me, but at least I got that one right.

Granted, my degree is in theoretical linguistics – historical linguistics scares (scare?) me – but I've never seen the word ETYMON. I had to ponder *that* one, too. Think "awful" is an ETYMON of offal? Nah. But I think "apron" is an ETYMON of "napron." And we have an ETYMON formation in progress – "nother" is an ETYMON of "other" but that's a whole nother story. I realize I'm probably using the term totally wrong. It's all in good fun. Quit yer pulin'.

BRITCOM – great entry! I *love* their sense of humor. Once in college, I was in Oxford at a friend's apartment. It was summer – not April Fools' (Fool's, Fools?) Day, but I understand this originally aired on April Foo'ls day. When I saw it, it had no introduction, no explanation, no nuttin' – just part of the news show.

spaghetti

DERISIVE is a great word. AQUA seems brighter than a pastel to me. And give me salted butter over DIPPING OIL any day in any Italian restaurant with green paint on the walls (again - hey, @Nick D!).

OK. I've addressed this here before – in the '60s, our eggs were small, medium, and large. Now –the same &^%$ eggs, are large, EXTRA LARGE, and jumbo. I buy the jumbos because breakfast is one of the great joys in life, and I never cease to be a little bit sorry when I have finished. Every. Single. Morning.

Of the nine songs, I think I knew only three, but I still was able to finish. (I had a couple of Bobby Sherman posters in my room and was insanely jealous of this JULIE creep.) More up my alley would have been "Greetings, Ms. Levi!" Get outa bed, little Ms. Lucci!" "Wow, Miss Ringwald!"

Gary – fine Sunday workout. Like a ton of others, I'll be thinking about songs with women's names in them all day.

Chris Fieldhouse 10:05 AM  

Father Ted originates from the Republic of Ireland.

Z 10:08 AM  

Yes - BMW does. The Mercedes version looks to be a very cool prototype.

AKON? I'm not up on my Senegalese-American pop stars. Likewise MANX/OPAH was a tough cross for me. VOILE should either be tOILE or VOILa. I've never used DIPPING OIL to flavor my bread. Bananas, zucchini, multi-grains, sure. A "flavorer" is something you put in, not on, to me. ETYMON? I really want my word words to end in -nym so it 'should' be etonym. Just a lot of little niggles that bring this puzzle's quality down for me.

Beer-Rating - Shorts Pontius Road Pilsner - sure, but why?

jberg 10:22 AM  

Man-- songs I didn't know clued by women I didn't know either. And then I got all of them only to be destroyed (like many, it seems) by RERuN crossing another woman I didn't know. And on top of that, simply FORGETTING to make a guess about that fish -- deceptively having the same-length names as tuna, but that wasn't the problem. It just didn't occur to me that some queens were APIAN. I seriously thought about AsIAN (literally correct, but way too lame), or maybe Avian (like that other woman, whom I did know, who flew out of LAE?) - but left it blank to come back to, and then forgot to come back. Gah! Oops - just noticed that I forgot to come back to 85, too -- so was left with _ca/_eg. I'll blame it on the puzzle - just too big to notice these things. Yeah, that's the ticket.

My wife surprised me with a party for my 70th birthday last night, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Elton John has a double chin in that video of Elderberry wine, and appears to be playing for the Rotary Club (if you look closely at the back of the stage). Still seems odd.

Maybe I'll go look at that thongs video again.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I liked it, but I like 'em all.

Is it just me or has this crowd become more and more pointlessly critical over the past few months? Take Z's comment above. Not to pick on, but you want your words to end in different letters than they do, and so that brings the puzzle's quality down?

Also, one guy complains that the clues are too old, and the next guy complains that he never heard of Akon (probably putting him squarely in the minority of the world's population, most of which heard "Oh Africa" during the World Cup).

I get the fun aspect of pointing out little glitches (like the fact that Rene Zellwegger spells her name differently than the puzzle does), because that is what weird people like us think is fun, but come on.

Lighten up, people.

gpo

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

P.S.

Had "Julie, Jule, Julie, do ya love me?" in my head as soon as I saw th clue, remembering my sister in her Bobbt Sherman phase. I think she got that record by cutting the actual playable vinyl disc off the back of a cereal box. At least one Bobby Sherman track arrived that way.

Best,

gpo

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

PPS Please ignore my remark about Renee Zellwegger. Something is wrong with my brain.

retired_chemist 10:50 AM  

I guess this puzzle skews only sort-of old. At 73 I knew only two of the songs. The rest were inferrable from the well-known womens' names and the clue.

If ADELE and AKON got married what last name would they (and any kids) use?

DNF because of the ELLIMuN/RERuN problem mentioned by @evan et al. Never heard of Ms. ELLIMAN. Otherwise a fairly easy Sunday.

Wanted eastasIAinstead of DYSTOPIA as the Orwellian state, which did slow things down as it was the only eight letter named state in 1984 and AVION was clear. Stuck with it far too long, but that added to the fun. 79A SCAR - ditto.

Did not know ISABELA or MR. PIM but crosses made them clear.

Thanks, Mr. Cee. You were RED MEAT to Rex's lion today, but I enjoyed it overall.

Fred 10:52 AM  

Just to point out, there's also a comma introduced into "Come On Eileen." Rarely has there been a song title more in need of a comma -- and you thought the thong was creepy and gross -- but the original song doesn't have one.

Overall, I thought not a remarkable puzzle, but a small step up from the past few weeks.

richnrbq 11:04 AM  

I remember Yvonne Elliman best from her role in Jesus Christ Superstar. She sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him". That cast recording is burned in my pop culture memory from middle school. It had Ian Gillian, the guy from Deep Purple of all places, as Jesus. I too struggled with "a" or "u" btw.

Charley 11:46 AM  

Caroline is Mrs. Schlossberg, not Mrs. Kennedy.

cascokid 12:14 PM  

This was a 3-hour complete-grid solvewith a half dozen errors :(

I had considered and dismissed a ONE-EYEd wicked witch of the west as the pop culture witch was quite evidently binocular, as any image google will show.

APIAN/OPAH finished as ASIAN/OSAH.

I did unwind AOUT/AMIE but I object in general to pairs of French crosses.

I will now go lean about SHORTTONs and how they differ from tall tons, or maybe long tons. Just Please tell me there are no grande or vente tons.

MetaRex 12:22 PM  

The ESE count came in at 132, a fair amount higher than the other Sundays I've tabulated.

Interesting to think about what an equivalent with male names would look like, and whether you'd have the material to do it.

I guess Sally Field now knows the NYT really, really likes her... "Won't you stay with me? And don't you ever leave."

Bird 12:27 PM  

I'm with Steve J. The write-up is much better than the puzzle. Found this to be, at times awkward and not so entertaining for reasons Rex and others called out the faults.

Didn't know a few of these songs so the theme was slow to show itself - at first I thought they were whacky phrases.

The clue for 74A has now left an awful image on my brain and I have no idea how to erase it.

At least the variety puzzle, a diagramless by Paula Gamache, was excellent.

Off to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular tonight. Hoping to not see or hear the Giants score before I get home and play the DVR.

Steve J 12:50 PM  

Add me to the long list of people went with RERuN/ELLIMuN.

@Fred: I'm glad I wasn't drinking my coffee as I read that. You're right: If ever something proved how important commas are to convey the right meaning ...

@Anon/gpo: I don't know if everyone's become more critical - or whether the criticisms are valid - but I know my impression has been that the puzzles of late have frequently not been up to the NYT's usual high standards. It's possible a lot of us have become jaded, it's possible that a lot of us have had our impressions skewed by regularly doing a lot of non-NYT puzzles that are consistently more lively, engaging and entertaining, or maybe the NYT is actually in a rut. Nobody can be at the top of their game 100% of the time - if everything is fantastic, than nothing is - and it's possible that the NYT is in a prolonged slump.

As far as the nitpickyness of the critiques: One thing I think that may happen - and that I know happens for me - is that if an overall impression of a puzzle is not strong, the lower-quality fill and/or clues jump out more. There are things I overlook in a puzzle I really like that drive me crazy in a puzzle that I didn't click with. So that may contribute to the impression you have.

@Charley: For one, the clue was Ms Kennedy, not Mrs Kennedy. Also, Caroline Kennedy kept her maiden name when she married and is still legally a Kennedy, not a Schlossberg.

mudmamma 12:56 PM  

I have been lurking for years and this is my first comment. I had never heard of AKON. Evan, I must thank you for posting the video of "I Just Had Sex"....it has made my morning....still laughing!

Sandy K 1:04 PM  

Should be called HITS AND MISSES...

I was thrilled to see a music theme- loved WALK AWAY RENEE and COME ON EILEEN most of all!

Also liked the added ADELE, AKON, Yvonne ELLIMAN...wanted ELA to be RETITLEd ELLA, 102D to be John MAYER, and 108A to be the ABBA song? There must be more...

Altho it was SHORT ON good fill, the songs still won me over. So, more HITS than MiSSES for me.

Hi Carola! Thinking of you @Diagramless

jae 1:05 PM  

@Anon/gpo -- What Steve J just said plus don't confuse criticisms with observations. For me a WOE is not a criticism its just an observation of what's not in my head. Same with pointing out the age bias of some themes. If I think there is something unfair or substandard going on I'll add that to my observations (see yesterday's comments on PIA/PENTE).

joho 1:16 PM  

What's wrong with thong?

@loren must smith, thanks for the spaghetti clip ... oh, those Brits! Love it!

Only thing missing from this puzzle for me was "Visions of Johanna."

@Rex, Lae, Lady Lae, LOL.

Thank you, Gary Cee-Cee-li-a!

joho 1:19 PM  

... you're breaking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily ...

That would be muse not must!

Now that I think about it, if this puzzle has got us singing on a Sunday, that's great!

Carola 1:30 PM  

@Sandy K - Ditto here :)

murpgeo 1:32 PM  

delurking for a question. what does - one eye - mean for the wicked witch definition?!!

liked the puzzle ok. didn't see this pic of rex linked here yet. made me laugh: http://snipurl.com/287vika

OISK 1:37 PM  

Like @retired chemist, I knew only two of the songs, but I disliked this puzzle are more than he did. I also had the "Rerun" with Ellimun error. I had a Natick yesterday (Pente with Pia), but that was one bad corner in an otherwise good puzzle. This one was no fun for me at all. First of all, since I don't know the songs, there is no pleasure in filling in the theme answers. But OK, I can live with that; other people would probably not enjoy a baseball-themed puzzle. What should NOT happen, IMHO, is the use of additional pop-song culture in the rest of the fill. Akon? Adele? (heard of her but not the songs in the clue) Elliman? How about a clue involving a song I actually like… "You've struck out three times, Ms. Couric."

(I confess to liking Sweet Caroline as well, partly due to its Red Sox connection)

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Caroline Kennedy admitted that some of the lyrics in Neil Diamond's homage to her were kind of 'creepy'!

Mohair Sam 1:55 PM  

@loren muse smith - Thanks for the spaghetti thing. Big smile on a miserable day.

Gill I. P. 1:57 PM  

Well, and yet another Sunday where the write-up and the comments are much funner than the puzzle.
I knew all the songs 'cept COME ON EILLEN (there's a comma?) Husband gave me ELLIMAN but couldn't remember how to spell it.
@Sandy K - I too thought FERNANDO would have be better clued with ABBA...@Evan "I Just Had Sex" and Loren "spaghetti" were worth coming here.
@Steve J - I always enjoy reading you - maybe because you say (in a much better way) what I feel I should say....All those U's should make M&A happy.
ISABELA VOILE OLE ITALIA...Lord HELP ME!

retired_chemist 2:11 PM  

@OISK - re "You've struck out three times, Ms. Couric."

LOL - that will KO the non-baseball aficionados. :-) Had you used Ms. Perry, that would have even spelled Katy the way it is in the song.

And do NOT tell me you are old enough to recall the first performance of THAT one!

ournyt 2:16 PM  

Fairly easy puzzle...theme way too obvious...loved BRITCOM...it really is a genre that I don't think crosses over the pond very well!

quilter1 3:25 PM  

Busy with Mother today so came to this late. Easy, yes. And I miss AbFab and Father Ted. Keep warm, or cool as the case may be.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

I think that there was an Elder tree wand in The Harry Potter series

Z 3:52 PM  

@anon/gpo - "for me." I could have elaborated more but I pretty much summed it up with my beer rating - an ok beer from a brewery that makes a lot of other much better brews.

MikeM 5:31 PM  

Born in 1959, all songs were right in my wheelhouse. I ran the table on the theme answers. I cannot remember ever entering a theme answer first. And Rich, I also fondly recall Yvonne's stirring rendition of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from JCSS. Far from a one hit wonder in my mind. Never knew the Wicked Witch had only one eye, you learn something new every crossword.

Anonymous 11:27 PM  

Sure glad it was easy for you. I never heard of ANY of these songs, except for Sweet Caroline -- but then I was looking for Jackie so I missed that one to. Got a lot of the names and some of the compete answers, but they made no sense to me. Whether I can complete a puzzle or not I have ALWAYS understood and usually appreciate the theme. Not this time.

ADevore 11:28 PM  

Sure glad it was easy for you. I never heard of ANY of these songs, except for Sweet Caroline -- but then I was looking for Jackie so I missed that one to. Got a lot of the names and some of the compete answers, but they made no sense to me. Whether I can complete a puzzle or not I have ALWAYS understood and usually appreciate the theme. Not this time.

judyM 11:30 PM  

Too easy...took less than an hour to do....

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

Your puzzles were better then Gary's! :)

LaneB 1:29 AM  

Ikthrea336Sunday night and just finished. Lots to groan about, but just too tired to take the trouble., e.g., clues for ADDICT and ISABELA, etc.

Citerna 4:56 PM  

Why is a hound an ADDICT in 11 down?

Bob Kerfuffle 5:38 PM  

@Citerna - The perfect example fails to come to mind, but I can imagine someone saying. "He's a real chocolate HOUND," meaning "He's a real chocolate addict."

Now back to my M&M's.

paulsfo 1:41 AM  

@murpgeo - According to a previous comment, the Witched Witch *in the book* has only one eye.

Liked "Hound" for ADDICT, though I unfortunately didn't get while I trying to solve. ;)

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

You be funny, Rex. But you b good at this. Love your critiques,actually all you x-word folks.

Angel 11:18 PM  

Broadcast as an encore = RERUN.
Broadcasted as an encore = RERAN.
Rex, if puzzler wanted RERAN, shouldn't it have been clued as BROADCASTED with the ED added.
I'm just saying ...

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

My experience was similar to OFL's: fill in the hits (all but the center one, which, like him, I never heard of) and then hack away at the rest of it.

I guess in a 21x21 there's bound to be some junk. Does the payoff justify it this time? Only in the sense that those tunes start playing in one's head. Hope you liked most of 'em! I did, and especially the leadoff hit, a real foot-tapper by the too-soon-gone Ricky Nelson.

The price, though, was pretty high. I swear, if I ever do construct a puzzle, and it's an absolute gem except for having to use EKE or EKING, I would scrap the whole thing. SAME thing with either half of JAI ALAI. AKON, really? Yikes. Some clue clunkers: 7d clue="Oh," entry=AH. 90a: clue="too," entry=TU. These are TU close, IMO. Five yards each.

I too filled in RERuN, then thought, ya know what, that might be an A. "Broadcast", like "cast," does double tense duty. You wouldn't say, "I casted my net." When the cross was an unknown name I just went with the A because the -MAN name ending is way more likely than -MUN.

Never heard of DIPPINGOIL. Sounds like an "Eww!" to me.

FERNANDO, besides being Mr. Valenzuela, is an ABBA song. Next up: GUYS in song titles? And speaking of next, "Can ___ next?" made me throw down Igo at first. Caused a bit of a delay in the middle: never noticed that ol' Westie had only ONEEYE. Lucky her; she felt only half the pain EVERYTIME she looked in the mirror.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Yvonne Elliman had a few other minor hits including "Love Me Please" and "Hello Stranger."

An interesting sidelight is she sang backup vocals on Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally." Pretty clever placement of the two clues (105 and 110 A).

rain forest 2:02 PM  

Same general feeling about this as many others. Only the JULIE song did I not know, but the JAYS entry pinpointed where her name was. The only slow section was the NW, where ADDICT, AKON (who) and DERISIVE took awhile to parse.

@Spacecraft - I think the bread flavourer refers to the little bowl of olive oil that you dip focaccia in at an Italian restaurant. Sometimes you mix the oil with balsamic vinegar.

Add ATRA to the words you should omit from your puzzle.

Cary in Boulder 3:48 PM  

@Anonymous 12:21 PM: Thanks for the Clapton-ELLIMAN connection. That weird part of my brain kept telling me that she was a backup singer for him.

This gets at least one star just on the basis that I finished it before watching any football games. Didn't know the grossly de-commaed EILEEN; if I ever knew the Bobby Sherman song, I put it out of my mind long ago for good reason; only got SARASMILE because she popped up here a few weeks ago. The other Ms.'s were maybe a bit too easy.

@Rex: Did I see that Thong Song video on NBATV? That Sisqo guy sure looks related to Dennis Rodman. Or maybe to AKON? At least I've heard of Dennis Rodman.

AKON/ORSER was a sure Natick, but I guessed right. PULE has to be my WOTD. Closely followed by BAILEE.

I've actually seen DIPPING OIL in a store, but then I live in trendy Boulder. Probably not too common in Tehachapi or Tonopah.

Theme captcha: ikestt. Ike struck Tina Turner?

BedfordBob 4:03 PM  

I thought is was a good Sunday puzzle. If I had not known most of the songs I would have had a lot more trouble because I thought the fill was tough in a lot of places.

DNF due fo the NE. I never heard of AKON or ORSER and struggled with ADDICT for HOUND but that was my fault. I also had RERUN and didn't know ELLIMAN.

stitham 6:12 PM  

Rex, you didn't mention the Natick of Orser and Akon. Never heard of either.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

NE killed me. got some, not others and couldn't cross. AKON is an unknown to me

@loren....... I cannot figure out what you refer to in Sweet Caroline about pewit eyepit

I even went to youtube and looked at the lyrics, and have looked up mis-interpreted lyrics as well. Can't even imagine what you're referring to......

Dirigonzo 7:40 PM  

What @BedfordBob said, word for word.

Solving in Seattle 2:36 PM  

Did the puz yesterday (Sunday) while watching football games. Put it down a few times cuz I lost interest. Finally finished it late. I came to Rexville to see what others thought and, with the exception of a few golden retrievers, I agree with the vast majority - yawn.

Go Hawks!

Capcha: recluto. The very private Roman poet laureate.

Sharon AK 3:17 PM  

@ NickD
"Plant cells are not a thing" So?
What is your problem? They are things and botanist do study plant cells under microscopes.

Mark Brown 2:56 AM  

In this blog all the people are enjoying each other really looking great.

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