Capital of Minorca / SUN 11-1-15 / Dr Seuss environmentalist / Voice-controlled device from world's largest online retailer / 1998 Jim Carrey comedy / Amu Darya outlet / Homes for Gila woodpeckers / Mt Olive offerings / City from which Vasco da Gama sailed to locals / black ball in el juego de billar / Distilled coal product / Fay Vincent's successor as baseball commissioner

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: "Frame Job" — theme answers are just ... phrases. But they have "frames" (circled squares, some on one side of the answer, some on the other) that spell out various "jobs":

Theme answers:
  • ANIMAL SANCTUARY (23A: No-hunting zone)
  • BARBARA BOXER (32A: Longtime California senator)
  • PLATE NUMBER (55A: Info on a parking ticket)
  • MAIL FRAUD (58A: Something that doesn't follow the letter of the law?)
  • COMIC BOOK (77A: It contains a lot of balloons) [great clue]
  • PRIOR ARREST (80A: Rap sheet entry)
  • CLEAN AND JERK (97A: Weightlifting technique)
  • COPA CABANA BEACH (115A: Brazilian tourist destination) 
Word of the Day: SORAS (50A: Marsh birds) —
noun
noun: sora; plural noun: soras; noun: sora crake; plural noun: sora crakes; noun: sora rail; plural noun: sora rails; noun: rail; plural noun: rails; noun: rail crake; plural noun: rail crakes
  1. a common small brown and gray American rail, frequenting marshes. (google)
• • •

There are some delightful moments in this puzzle. I just finished a puzzle where I (my co-constructor, actually) clued ECHO via the Amazon product, but seeing it here in its full-name glory is pretty impressive, however crassly commercial (47D: Voice-controlled device from the world's largest online retailer = AMAZON ECHO). CLEAR AS MUD was wonderful as well as tricky—I was like, "Why is this answer for [Opaque] beginning with CLEAR when that is the *opposite* of [Opaque]...?" Nice trickery. And the grid overall felt pretty clean. I didn't wince much at all. Anything short and gunky is pretty isolated and innocuous. The theme, however, felt really, really thin, and it didn't offer any pleasure, solving-wise. That is, there were no aha moments, no discoveries. I could see that words were forming in the circled squares, but the fact that they were "jobs" didn't register. And even if it had, I don't know what kind of thrill it would've imparted. The jobs are so random, so unconnected and dissociated from ... well, anything. I mean, ACTUARY!? That is a job, sure, but if I had to list a hundred jobs, I don't think that one would come up. The others seem reasonably common; ACTUARY feels like it belongs to a completely different universe. I thought at first the jobs in question would have something to do with "frames." Me: "Do actuaries use frames ... I know they use tables ..." So the theme was a big shrug.


Gotta go back on Halloween candy-distribution detail. Kids waited til later to come out this year, possibly because of the double-whammy night-extender of No School Tomorrow and Daylight Saving Time tomorrow. Anyway, things sound pretty ... active ... downstairs. I'll see you all later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

57 comments:

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Bio info I read on Zhouqin Bernikel says she is a native of China, came to the US in 2001, and started doing puzzles to learn English.

That's amazing she has gotten so good with the language in that period of time that she can pull of the sort of wordplay and misdirection she does in this puzzle. Gongxi Gongxi.

George Barany 12:31 AM  

Good morning, as I report from Mudville. Lovely puzzle by my friend and Minnesota neighbor, the creative, modest, and ever resourceful @C.C. Burnikel. Glad that @Rex liked it, and his review pointed out some of the high points. Eight theme answers in all, including several very good, even surprising finds.

If you have the time and energy for another puzzle this weekend (and there is an extra hour, after all), I would highly recommend Crawl Space by @Matthew Sewell and @Brad Wilber. There is a mind-boggling visual component that (to paraphrase the idiom) has to be seen to be believed, plus a couple of bonus links from the one already given in this paragraph. Hope you like it!

jae 1:11 AM  

Medium for me.  Not much to say about this one.  Kinda meh, though there were some fine long downs.

dmw 1:12 AM  

Nice steady puzzle, nothing to get hung up on, but made me think. One of the few puzzles where the theme helped me get some answers (often I look back to see, what was that theme anyway?).

We just put the bowl of candy bars on the front stoop and hide inside the house. Then I hope there are some left. No such luck this year.

Gerry Kahle 1:49 AM  

Not a bad puzzle. I enjoyed solving it but the theme was nonexistent. That is the puzzle was solved with no thought to any theme. Even after it was done and I saw the "framed jobs" - meh!

chefwen 1:58 AM  

Not really feeling it for this one. Got kind of excited when I saw the circles, unlike many of you I love circles, but they didn't offer any help in the solve. Not that I needed help, it was pretty cut and dried. Only two write-overs HAR over Heh at 92D and JANE over Dian at 8D, got my Primatologists mixed up.

The Kaisers 4:57 AM  

We thought the theme answers were actually quite clever. Not so easy to come up with actual (not contrived at all) phrases that yield a job name by combining the beginning and the end of the phrase. And of course, there is the nice give-away top and center (JOBCUTS) which further explains the theme (we'll overlook the fact that the word "job" is both in the title of the puzzle and in that answer...).
Cynthia and Olivier Kaiser, Paris

'mericans in Paris 6:26 AM  

Our fearless leader couldn't have been NICER. He SWORE AT nobody. Neither did he DIS, FRET nor RANT.

And with reason. This puzzle has some of the best fill this puppy has seen in a long time. I agree with Rex that the theme, if one can even call it that, is pretty lame. So it is one of those rarities that is rescued by the quality and freshness of everything else. Good VALUE. CLEAN, but no JERK.

Lots to like: CACTI, CLEAR AS MUD, CLOVE, DEER TICK, GAPE, HOAGIE, HOUSEHOLD, SILLY GOOSE, SWAG, WRIT LARGE, and the best one of all, ANT FARM.

We weren't so enamored of "ANIMAL SANCTUARY". It does exist (with 1 million Google hits), but is much less commonly used than "wildlife SANCTUARY" (7 million). But, of course, that would be 2 letters too many (i.e., OCHO).

Had no idea what DILLS had to do with Mt. Olive. Googled it later and saw that Mt. Olive is a brand of pickles. At least we could get that one from the crosses, as with all the rest.

I'm surprised that @REX didn't point out that a hint to the theme -- "JOB CUTS" (which makes more sense than "Frame Job") -- was given prominent placement at 8A.

I'm OFFS. Mrs. 'Mericans is telling me I OTTER start the barbecue. "YES DEAR!"

P.S., Does anybody recall the bumper sticker from the 1970s: "Be A LERT. America needs more LERTS!"?

Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  

Sorry to say I wasn't thrilled by this puzzle. On paper, the splattering of black and gray squares, a distribution I don't recall seeing before, combined with the long and not always smooth theme answers (I think wildlife SANCTUARY, not ANIMAL SANCTUARY) made it somewhat uninviting. Also, using arbitrary numbers of letters from the ends of themers to spell out the jobs didn't help.

But speaking of ACTUARY, at the risk of being non-PC, I will paraphrase a recent joke from A Prairie Home Companion: What is the difference between a regular actuary and a Mob* actuary? A regular actuary can tell you how many people are expected to die in the next year. A Mob* actuary can tell you their names.



*The original joke said "Sicilian," but that is clearly over the line. Naughty public radio!

chefbea 7:18 AM  

Started this last night while giving out candy..found it too tedious. Looked at it this morning ..still couldn't finish it so came here. Loved that cook was one of the jobs!!

Z 7:22 AM  

This is a nice puzzle. Those frames are so unbalanced that I wonder about the designer. The randomness of the split, the randomness of the jobs to the phrases they "frame," (no ANIMAL SANCTUARY I'm aware of has an ACTUARY on staff) and the overall randomness of the jobs makes the puzzle nice but no more.

Hey all you punsters and warped wordplay enthusiasts - you might enjoy this week's puzzle at Devil Cross. (Puzzle #69 for any Syndies reading this in five weeks)

DUI/DWI Alert. Apparently Ohio has an OVI as well. Since Ohio State University's starting quarterback just got an OVI citation I suspect it is now crossworthy. Yet another three letter driving drunk option coming to a puzzle near you soon.

OldCarFudd 7:29 AM  

As a long-retired actuary, I was happy to see the shout-out. And the theme helped with a couple of the answers. Nice puzzle!

Lewis 7:38 AM  

@rex -- I thought actuary actually classed up the theme jobs.

I think ZB's grids and answers have gotten more solid and enjoyable over time. In general, the clues in her puzzles are pretty direct, but some subtlety has been creeping in, and I hope that continues. I had the top and bottom filled out quickly, but was trudging in the middle, until one answer popped into my head, and that was all I needed. The rest filled in in a flood. I used to come to look at ZB's puzzles as good brain workouts, but without much spark, but now I'm feeling some excitement when I see her name atop a puzzle. This was a fun solve.

There was a most incredible play in college football yesterday, head-slapping incredible -- Google the last play of the Miami/Duke game.

Jamie C 8:05 AM  

Rex, you are an enigma wrapped in a riddle.
As I was filling in ARALSEA, GEDS, REMS, SORAS, TYR, PAS, OZMA (AT whom you emphatically RANTed a few weeks back), ASI, NNE, OCHO, DOCE, CIR, ARA, IEST, HAR, ISAO, DROME, ANE, CLU, ASU, ETAL et al, I was certain you would kick this puzzle squarely in the keister. Add the crappy fill to the "barely a theme," and, as you would say, this was. just. terrible. Just. No.
Either you were drinking when you wrote this, or, in the spirit of the holiday, you were possessed by a ghost, possibly one named Anabel (whom I am hoping we'll hear from tomorrow).
THERIO but be back soon,
J

Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

Had no circles in my printout. After the fact, I noticed that there were gray faint squares, but I essentially solved this as a themeless. For years, I read the Mt. Olive label as "Mr. Olive," and wondered why my wife never bought olives, only pickles.

Charles Flaster 9:00 AM  

Enjoyed this smooth puzzle.
Agreed with Rex for third time this week.
CLEAR AS MUD was easily my favorite as I had mud first and the rest was clear.
All actuaries I know are quite competent puzzlers of some sort.
Try the puzzle George Barany has highlighted as the entire site is a wonderful "potpourri of puzzles".
Liked cluing for JOB CUTS and COMIC BOOK.
CrosswordEASE --SORAS.
The last Across entry is the punch line to an old joke. "Husband claims to his pal he gets the last two words in, in every argument with wife.
Friend asks what are they. Husband claims "yes dear""
Thanks ZB

Teedmn 9:03 AM  

I'll agree with the comments so far that the actual theme jobs weren't all that exciting, with nothing to tie them together, but I did like some of the clues, especially for MAIL FRAUD full disclosure, my Dad was a postmaster), and for COMIC BOOK. Non-theme clues I liked were for YES DEAR, FLARE, and MALE. And for some reason, the partial "Before ____ you go" tickled my fancy, possibly because "Before you go" is a perfectly good phrase on its own.

I liked seeing Yo La TENGO in the grid. They have a song I love, Periodically Double or Triple . When I went to get the link, I saw the video for the first time. If images of people masticating fruit, sometimes messily, bothers you, don't view it. But the lyrics are delightfully weird and the classic '60's organ solo in the break is great. And the fruit looks very healthy and fresh.

Everybody, enjoy your extra hour and let's hope the Mets rally.

Hartley70 9:06 AM  

The one answer that made no sense to me was DILLS. I couldn't see how dill plants could grow there. Duh! I'm not sure that brand has made it here.

The cluing was not difficult but this took a long time to finish. Maybe it's those itty bitty squares on Sunday. Maybe it's too much sleep. Why do we HAVE to do the time change? It makes 4:30pm so depressing. Now here's a cause I can get worked up about, and don't whine about the kids waiting for the bus. Their eyes are closed anyway!

I had the gray tone, not the circles. I liked it better. I sure hope @Nancy got the shading, otherwise we're going to hear about it....unless she gets distracted by that football play in the Duke game. Thanks @Lewis!

I sat next to an ACTUARY on a NYC to Boston train in my younger days. He was obviously trying but that job was a real conversation stopper when I was young. Today I'd be a lot more curious.

I thought this was a very respectable Sunday submission. There may not have been gasps of delight, but there were no groaners. I would add a Medium to that there Easy, Rex.

GILL I. 9:17 AM  

Yes, the theme was a big shrug for me as well. Even so, it felt like a sweet Sunday puzzle. Some things I really did not know or had heard of. SWAG as a goodie bag filler had me prancing over to Google. This is what I got: Secretly We Are Gay. Hmmmm that's a goodie bag filler? I guess so....Also I had never seen WRIT LARGE. I was begging for an E...I know now it's valid ETAL, but that threw me. I also wonder how many people actually knew MAHON as the capital of Minorca?
You see lots of signs here in California that say ANIMAL SANCTUARY so no problema there. The COMIC BOOK balloons and the BAROF soap were kinda ASCII though.
Now off to do GB's puzzle.
I have a candy headache!

Nancy 9:35 AM  

This one did offer a bit of resistance, and so I liked it well enough. The TRUMAN SHOW allowed me to change BRAGS to CROWS at 96A; I wanted JOB LOSS before JOB CUTS, though I didn't write it in; wanted PHONE NUMBER before PLATE NUMBER at 55A (silly mistake, probably because I don't drive). Liked the cluing of COMIC BOOK, MAIL FRAUD and FRET. Liked the answers WRIT LARGE and CLEAR AS MUD. Mostly ignored the theme, though it did help me on one answer, I forget which one. I found it a pleasant enough Sunday, but far from a great one.

Brian W. Ogilvie 9:36 AM  

I quite enjoyed this one. After JANE, ORC, BAT, and TERRA, It was easy to get SANCTUARY. Then I cottoned on to the theme, after realizing that "nature" didn't work (my home town, Kalamazoo, has a Nature Sanctuary). Maybe the frame effect is clearer in the print version, where the dark squares really do seem to frame the fill. In any case, the theme helped me get several of the answers.

I have a jar of Mt. Olive pickles on the counter as I write, so DILLS was easy. I liked ANT FARM and CLEAN AND JERK a lot. I'm not sure that TYR is the Roman Mars, but I'll let it pass. I generally don't like imperative phrases, since they often seem arbitrary, but SPARE ME is nice; BE REAL, less so.

And I learned that there's a miniseries of FARGO.

Ludyyjynn 9:40 AM  

What @Jamie C said re the tedious fill and meh theme v. Rex's free pass.

The solve was worth the slog only for some of the long answers, WRIT LARGE.

Also, it was nice to see EMERITA in the grid instead of the expected, stereotypically masculine 'emeritus' routinely employed by male editors and constructors. C.C., You go, girl!

jberg 9:59 AM  

I didn't notice ACTUARY initially, so the first jobs I saw were all people one might hire to work in or on the house: MAID, COOK, PLUMBER. But then we got churchy with PRIEST and CLERK, so the theme began to seem looser, and less fun. Still, there were a lot of them!

I thought MAIL FRAUD should have been clued as violating "the law of the letters" rather than vice versa; and as I read Tolkien, ORCS are not 'beasts' but humans who have gone over to the dark side (to mix my mythic universes). Otherwise, pretty good cluing!

Carola 10:37 AM  

Dullness, redeemed by WRIT LARGE.

Pete 10:41 AM  

I just did a Global Pickle Search and there are no Mt. Olive DILLs sold within 50 miles of my home, so I cry foul. I was going to cry foul about DILL rather than DILL pickle, but they call them DILLs, so I won't.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

I sped through parts of this puzzle, but a glitch caused the phone app grossly miscalculated my time as six, then seven minutes. That's nowhere close to accurate, but the time is on my record now. Still, the difficulty level was pretty easy for a Sunday.

Most of the puzzle was accessible, although 68A LISBOA looked odd, and I knew 97A was CLEANAND...something. Thank goodness for the crosses. Never heard or 50A SORAS. We have the AMAZONECHO so 47D was no problem. FYI, the Echo is good for setting a kitchen timer or a quick weather forecast, also really bad jokes. Haven't figured out much else to do with it.

On another note, we had zero trick or treaters to consume two bags of candy. Must. Not. Consume.

AliasZ 10:49 AM  


Lovely C.C. Burnikel, a pleasure to solve from beginning to end.

One observation though: being a PRIEST or any member of the CLean enERGY crowd is not a job. It is a calling, commitment, obligation, even a career, never just a job.

As I was CHEcking ofF various jobs in want-ads for a potential future career, I let things take their Natural coURSE. I first contemplated becoming a Flag cARRIER in a PROFESSional warriOR army, but after considering the risks quickly changed my mind. Then I was thinking something along the lines of MASs productiON but I can be easily distracted, especially by a bird called the MAsked taNAGER. I eventually decided that I should use my God-given talent, a well-developed ACoustic locaTOR, and become a MUSlim politICIAN.

Speaking of which, PIerre PierLOT (1921-2007) had a job that required him to keep his double reed OBsessively mOIST at all times. Here he demonstrates his talents to the fullest.

Have a cheerful Sunday!

RMK 10:55 AM  

I live in Hartford, which is rife with actuaries.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

No circles ... no (even faint) gray squares on my printout. No fun!

Da Bears 11:03 AM  

@Jamie C, Rex only seems that way. Over the past ten years I have developed a few simple rules on what to expect from Rex on any puzzle. Oddly, bad fill is near the bottom of the list. I don't have to post them now because I have to go to Da Bears game, so if I don't post them later today I will tomorrow.

jburgs 11:42 AM  

C'mon! I can't believe no one channeled their inner 13 yr old and giggled at seeing JERK OFFS in the puzzle.

Tita 11:57 AM  

DNF, as I lost interest / have too much to do today. Theme? That's no theme... And as some of you pointed out, 8d was in fact a much better revealer to that weak theme than is the title.

Did of course like LISBOA, not the englicized Lisbon. Of course, that name is a Portugization of something earlier, perhaps Ulyssippo.
If you get a chance, listen to a fado about the city (Maria Lisboa) here...http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130357207
Fadistas sing as often about their city as they do about their human loves...the song highlighted there actually anthropomorphizes LISBOA as a woman.

Ms. Z, I struggle to master a few other languages, all in the same indo-European family. I am in awe of your crossword capabilities across not just another language, but such a different one in so many ways.
I enjoyed this puzzle plenty as a themeless Sunday.
Thanks.

old timer 12:05 PM  

Hey @Rex! Most of the time the online Times puzzle comes out way too late for tricker-treaters to be out. Different on Saturday nights? Where I live, a lot of householders think 9:00 is the absolute limit for giving out candy --8:30, some say. When we give out candy, we turn the lights on outside between 5:30 and 6:00, to accommodate the little ones in their cute costumes. By 8:30, only teenagers are left (at least on schoolnights) and we tend to think kids 14 and up should do something else than beg for candy -- maybe go to a party if there is one, or enjoy the night with a couple of friends.

I do wish Daylight Savings ended earlier than Hallowe'en. It's more fun going door-to-door in the dark, less fun if it is still light at 7 p.m.

Now for Sunday puzzles, my criterion is: Am I bored halfway through? I wasn't with this one. I wanted to finish it, and did -- top to bottom, too, which is a sign it is easy for a Sunday. About halfway through, I appreciated the gimmick, as the circled letters told me to look for an occupation of some sort. Made the solve a lot easier.

I did think OFL would dislike it for the reasons others have given. But theme density and those clever Downs made me quite charitable, in the end.

Kenneth Jost 12:08 PM  

12 down: Andrews is not USAFB. It is now Joint Base Andrews: Navy assets based there too; renamed within past few years.

Karen Bruce 12:10 PM  

I solved this puzzle in the NYT app, and it had no circled or shaded squares. So, I was surprised when I came here and discovered that it actually had a theme. I had assumed it was themeless. Which perhaps says something for how well-integrated and necessary the theme was.

It was a good, solid grid, though.

Leapfinger 12:31 PM  

I always thought the Isle of MAHON as between England and Ireland, not as the Isle of Minorca. This might be a good time to introduce @mac to MAHON, d'you think?

As others have mentioned, some lively fill to support a fairly thin theme. We don't quite have OCHO RIOS, but there's a NUMBER of them tucked around the grid to round out the COPACABANA.

Cute to see some other jobs sprinkled in -- for some reason, I liked PAS -- some ofthem even being themable. If you don't like Spillane's Private D.EERT.ICK, you can fly with WC Field's The Bank D.EERT.ICK. The best Easter egg, however, was the JOB_CUTS heading (hi, @et al!)

Had a smidge of trouble, not with FAUNA but with Flora, having to mow done Iris and Lily for ROSE, and also thought it was CLEAR (the floor) AND JERK. That latter still remains CLEAR AS SMUT for me. Next on the agenda: Find out what AL ERT did with his EX.

Have to thank @Lewis for that awesome clip (I don't care about Duke football) and also @'mericans for coming back with style.

Now I've really got to get the LED_OUT. Later.

Z 12:35 PM  

@Gill I - Apparently Uncle Google has been in the closet. Who knew? FWIW - SWAG is slang for the free stuff handed out at events. If you go to conference you might get a pen and notebook or an embossed satchel. We ran a Mackinac Bridge road race last year sponsored by Sam Adams and got a nice long sleeve tee shirt, a medal, and a beer glass. Not a bad haul for the pleasure of seeing the sun rise over Lake Huron from the top of the Mighty Mac.

@Brian W. Ogilvie - it's been years, but I've been to that Nature Sanctuary. I always liked Al Sabo better.

@Syndies - I forgot it's Sunday, so just one week later...

Leapfinger 12:37 PM  

Hey, @Nancy! If something is WRIT_LARGE, it shouldn't be CLEAR_AS_MUD. Just a thought.

Think I also see CRUEL_LA_WOMAN trying to make a comeback.

Chuck McGregor 12:38 PM  

ECHOing @Hartley70: "...that football play in the Duke game. Thanks @Lewis!" Wow! So much to go wrong: bad blocks (holding / in the back / tripping / clipping /....), one of those lateral/backward passes going even slightly forward, stepping out of bounds, or other common kickoff return penalties / play stoppers.

Had DoLLS for DILLS for a while. And me with not one, not two, but three (count 'em) jars of various MT. Olive pickles (including DILLS) sitting in the fridge only a few feet away!

I was on one of those "staple" tour BUSes in the early 1980s (for the curious: Marshall Tucker Band's). It (and others) could have easily n the source of 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,' as that was definitely the case for those BUSes...as in what might be characterized as things they would not tell their mothers :O

Rabi Abonour 1:53 PM  

I actually think I would have preferred this as a themeless. The fill is pretty clean with a handful of nice answers. It feels like a very standard NYT puzzle, but in a mostly good way. But the theme was just so insultingly flimsy that it actually made me enjoy the puzzle less than if the exact same grid didn't have any circled/shaded letters.

Roo Monster 2:01 PM  

Hey All !

Good CC puz. Some dreck as pointed out. Had a similar idea theme rejected by Will, so I did like the theme in this one.

Watching my Steelers game, so, short and sweet.

AS I, AS U
RooMonster
DarrinV

Gregory Schmidt 3:02 PM  

Meh. Last area to fall for me was the clump involving CLU (who?), FRET, and USAFB.

GILL I. 4:02 PM  

@Leapy....You really out-did yourself today. You are truly JUAN IN A MILLION!!
@Z. Yikes...I can't tell you how many bags of sh#t I passed out at sales conventions but I promise you I never said "Here's your little bag of SWAG........" Swish!
Yours Truly,
McMahon

Hugh 5:44 PM  

Agree with Rex, admirable fill and some of the theme answers were clever (some not) but the theme itself felt pretty uninspired and dull. As usual, respect the effort and smarts it took to construct, but not much joy for me.

I thought we might see a Leo Sayer vid from OFL but I'll take J. Geils any day!

Did like the cluing for CLEARASMUD and MAILFRAUD.

Have a great week all!

Da Bears 9:35 PM  

Jamie C, here are a few simple rules for understanding Rex’s approach to NYT XWPs.

Rule 1: Rex prefers certain constructors, some because they are really good and some because they are his buddies, and some who because they are both.

Rule 2: Rex will not like any puzzle that is a NYT debut by an unknown constructor.

Rule 3: Rex dislikes any fill that is pop culture older than 6 months and his dislike increases exponentially for each month older than that.

Rule4: Rex hates pangrams as much as he hates racists, unless the pangram does not result in any bad fill, in which case he either ignores it or lectures us on why the pangram is not important.

Rule 5: Rex likes fill that is like Rice Krispies, as long as it has snap, crackle and pop, but hates it if soggy.

Rule 6: Rex especially dislikes three letter fill that isn’t a common word like SLY and he really hates it if someone tries to clue a three letter fill word slyly.

Rule 7: Rex doesn’t give two shots in the spittoon about themes unless they are themes by Liz Gorski or Patrick Berry.

Final Rule: Forget all about the previous rules because it depends on what kind of mood Rex is in when he does the puzzle.

Nancy 10:31 PM  

@Lewis -- Finally caught up with the Duke-Miami final play. (Would you believe that it was the spectator sports-averse @Hartley 70 who told me to look it up?) While it was far from the most ept football play I've ever seen, it was certainly one of the most colorful, unusual and exciting. After a day of truly abysmal NY pro football, defensively speaking,(some of which I did myself a great favor by not watching), this was probably the most enjoyable play I saw today. Thanks for calling our attention to it.

To those of you who illuminated Ms. Burnikel's remarkable bio and linguistic accomplishments, thanks. Not only wasn't I aware of them; I didn't even know she's a woman. Though, if I'd been as eagle-eyed as @Ludy about EMERITA, I might have picked up on it. Knowing this makes the puzzle so much more impressive. Awesome, in fact.

old timer 11:11 PM  

I'm thinking @Leapfinger was making ze leetle joke. But in case he wasn't, there was a period of time when Minorca and Majorca belonged to Britain, which coincided with the first years of the Napoleonic Wars, and Port Mahon (named after the great Admiral Mahon) was a major naval base for the Brits. This is something every fan of the naval novels of the late Patrick O'Brian knows, because all we fans have read "Master and Commander" and "Post Captain" multiple times.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 12:24 AM  

All I can say is that Orion, my dog, is in the puzzle for the FOURTH time since I got him in December. "Where Rigel is" indeed. If I knew how to post pictures to this I would show you all how smug he looks.

Rina 12:27 PM  

Theme was so mundane that I hoped the 'job' actually 'framed' something. It didn't, so I made it up.
NIMALSAN: Nickname of Japan's beloved minimalist painter. ARABOX: Saharan bovine. ATEN: Knockout. LFRAU: German wife in Spain. MICBO: Jackson-themed McMeal. ORARR: Bolivia goldmine transport. ANANDJE: Indonesian pineapple. PACABANABE: Some sort of llama wannabe. I know, pretty lame, but it made me laugh more than YESDEAR and JERK OFFS combined.

Rina 3:31 PM  

The theme was so mundane that I hoped for something actually 'framed' within the 'job'. There wasn't so I made them up. NIMALSAN; Nickname of Japan's celebrated minimalist painter. ARABOX; Sahara bovine. ATEN; Knockout. LFRAU; German wife in Majorca. MICBO; A Jackson endorsed McMeal. ORARR; Bolivian goldmine transport line. ANANDJE; Maybe an indonesian pineapple. PACABANABE; A llama wannabe. Lame, I know, but more fun than ACTUARY ETAL.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

"As to the theme", Rex and others described it as "thin" which I totally agree with. Also agree with the lack of subtle cluing, with a resultant total lack of "aha" moments upon a solve. Also agree with one commentators list of way too many standard crossword answers (which I could have expanded). No real joy here, but at least there weren't any clues that I thought were a stretch or totally invalid. I'm deeply grateful for the paucity of pop culture, which I keep affirming doesn't belong in a crossword. "Yo la tengo" was easy nonetheless because Pandora keeps throwing them at me, in their usual attempt to play what THEY like instead of what you asked for. Never heard the term "swag" for what we boomers called "freebies"; wonder how many months that word will remain hip until it too gets used up?

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

@Jburgs: great catch, I didn't notice it. One might say "Only a JERK OFFS his enemies." Anyway.

Some Sunday there'll be a puzzle that won't feel like a slog. Today is not that day. Uber-choppy, riddled with inelegant single black squares, I had to steer through it as in a maze. Sorry; I guess the PB1 of the other day spoiled me. But the contrast is jarring.

Theme was ho-hum, but good enough. It turned out to be a great solving aid, so I agree with the easy-medium rating. The "medium" part came in the west, which thanks to my OOPS (I had Onme) was CLEARASMUD. Then even after I got the rest, there was the natick at #66. The down was a total WOE, and I kept staring at GA_AGE, wondering hat kind of rock that was. Yes, I even thought about the music along with the geology. GAS AGE rock??? New age, maybe...the only letter that made a word there was R: GARAGE rock. Huh? You really mean, like the "Zits" kid and his buddies banging it out in Dad's garage? Man, that is ONIONSKIN thin. Garage rock. I don't think the term actually exists per se, but with a shrug I left it in. So, REI a sports store, who knew? There was never one near where I lived, for sure. Never heard of it.

I did like the coda of the piece, the two words guaranteed to make your marriage last: "YES, DEAR." Working on my 45th, so you know I say that often. C+.

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  

IDA HELPED

We RELAX at the COPACABANABEACH as a perk,
to SPAREME from some HOUSEHOLD work,
ASI say, “YESDEAR ILET you GROPE,
you OTTER use that THAR BAROF soap,
ASU HARDEN just CLEANANDJERK.”

--- CRUELLA EMERITA

rondo 1:00 PM  

I was hoping that I wasn’t the first to see _JERK OFFS. Again on a Sun-puz I did the top, connected it to the bottom, then filled in the, mid-section. Held OFF forever on BAROF thinking I couldn’t be, but it was. I think I SWOREAT that one.

Astonishing lack of yeah babies lately, today we get JANE CLUed as highbrow Goodall instead of Fonda or Seymour.

Yo La TENGO a gimme as MPR 89.3 The Current (you can stream it) will play them ALLOT.

MALLE, MALE, MAILFRAUD? ISAO pal get off your SORAS and get the LEDOUT of the ANTFARM ‘til it’s ALLGONE, them’s good ETONS. MA,HON, go see PA’S CACTI TIE, OHISEE it’s WRITLARGE ‘nuff you kin read it. SIR, yes CIR. HAR.


SPAREME from some of this stuff in the future, please.

rain forest 2:26 PM  

I found this to be a pleasant Sunday puzzle, as for me it wasn't a forced march through dreck. Yeah, maybe the theme is thinnish, but the actual themers were nice phrases. Nice mix of straightforward and cute cluing, and hardly any questionable fill. I liked it.

AnonymousPVX 2:43 PM  

OZMA? Really?

Michael Shaffner 6:31 PM  

Thought this one was pretty easy, nothing really caused problems and I was done in no time, but I did like the fill. SWAG has been in use for awhile at least at library conferences-someone once told me it was Stuff We All Get...

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