Concubine's chamber / SUN 11-8-15 / Hokkaido port / Paternally related / Chiwere speaking tribe / Hokkaido port / Tarzan's simian sidekick / Second-largest dwarf planet / Costner Russo golf flick / Phishing lures / Vinland explorer circa AD 1000

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Three-Peat" — theme answers are words where three-letter strings immediately repeat. In the grid ... they do not. So ... you have to imagine the three-letter string ... repeating.

Theme answers:
  • CONAN THE BAR[BAR]IAN (23A: 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger film)
  • ENT[ENT]E CORDIALE (33A: Bringer of peace between nations)
  • CHIHUA[HUA], MEXICO (39A: State bordering Texas)
  • CIN[CIN]NATI REDS (57A: Rose buds?)
  •  TRAINED ASS[ASS]INS (66A: Jason Bourne and others)
  • ALF[ALF]A SPROUTS (76A: Salad bar bowlful)
  • REPOSSE[SSE]D CARS (91A: Some auto auctions' inventory)
  • CHE[CHE]N REPUBLIC (100A: Land in the Caucasus)
  • MISS[ISS]IPPI MUD PIE (or maybe the "SSI" repeats, I don't know) (114A: Chocolaty Southern dessert)
Word of the Day: SEHNA knot (7D: ___ knot, rug feature) —

a hand-tied knot, used in rug weaving, in which the ends of yarn looped around a warp thread appear at each of the interstices between adjacent threads and produce a compact and relatively even pile effect.
Also called Persian knot. (
• • •

This will be short, as I have nothing nice to say about this puzzle. I don't know whose idea of a good time this is. It's unfathomable to me that this seemed to anyone like it would be an entertaining / engaging / exciting concept. It's also unfathomable to me how a Sunday NYT ("world's best puzzle"!) grid, in 2015, can be this stale. Staleness is exponentially worse on a Sunday, as there's So Much More of it to wade through. I don't want to play the game where I list all the tired / iffy stuff, but AGNATE (ugh-nate) and OTARU (?!) and ODA and ELENI and ADITS and a million other things (OTOE crossing ESAI, say) put this is in the unappealingly retro category. Even the answers that at least Try to be interesting (EATEN RAW, USED POT) seem off, tin-eared, weird. I find this puzzle's very existence baffling. I can only infer that the NYT is *desperate* for Sunday puzzles. This is your marquee day—biggest solving day of the week, biggest audience, highest constructor pay by a long shot (more than 3x the amount paid for a daily). So the Sunday puzzle could at least have the decency to Show Up.

I would not put ASS (82D: Dunderhead) in a puzzle where one of the themers involves ASS repetition (TRAINED ASS[ASS]INS). But then I wouldn't do a lot of what has been done in this puzzle. I'm going to stop. You can let me know what you think.

[Oh, and since I'm getting a ton of mail on this... 65 is DEE because it represents a letter grade. The letter "D." If you get a 65 on an exam, then you get a D]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George NYC 12:21 AM  

Rex has been better than Daylight Savings Time lately, adding another hour to my weekend. Or subtracting a wasted hour if you please. For several weeks, I've started the puzzle on Saturday afternoon only to get bogged down and disgruntled by bogus themes and crappy fill. So I stop and do something else. Then I take a peek at the blog after midnight, just the first sentence or two, to confirm my instincts. I do feel bad that Rex feels compelled to finish, even if I don't

jae 12:29 AM  

Easy-medium for me with at least one iffy crosses-SESTINAS/SENHA.  I liked it more than Rex did, but once I figured out what was going on I found myself wondering why. 

I finally heard ADIT used in "real life".  I came up in the final season of Justified  when the plot involved an abandon mine.

John R 12:30 AM  

Plenty tricky for my brain. Took me about an hour.

cwf 1:09 AM  

I put this one in the recycling unfinished. Just not enjoyable at all.

Carola 1:10 AM  

My heart leaped up when I saw Tracy Gray's name at the top, as I find her puzzles witty and fun. But this one was a let-down for me, both theme-and otherwise. Agree on easy, but I had to run the alphabet for AG?ATE x R?S (wondered if right guards or right tackles ever called shots). Wanted Circe before MEDEA, GAbBer before GASBAG,

I didn't quite see how the three-peat concept worked - I got the trio of letters but not the "-peat" part: the point seems to be that the three letters are not repeated. And it would have been fun if the theme answers had all made sense in their truncated form. On xwordinfo, Jeff Chen notes his pleasure at the CHEN REPUBLIC. TRAINED AS SINS doesn't quite work, but ENTE CORDIALE might be a Frenchified duck preparation on a Geman menu (duck = die Ente), and ALFA SPROUTS is kind of cute - mini Italian autos?


I liked being reminded of Fra Angelico's tender Noli me tangere in the convent of San Marco, Florence.

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

Thank God for Rex. He's more negative than I am about the puzzle, but he is more right than wrong, and this one is dead on. A ridiculous theme. Even when one susses out the "trick" it feels, somehow, anti-literate. Certainly, positively stupid.

I love the NYT puzzle. I started doing them in 1984 when I could barely ever finish one, even a Monday puzzle, and I would guess in the 31 years since I have missed no more than a 30 days' worth of puzzles in total. (And I have gotten pretty adept at them.) But these past few months have shaken my fervor: I think Will Shortz is so focused on some perverse form of ingenuity and gimcrackery that he chooses puzzles that lose puzzle lovers. This one is horrible. It's stupid, insultingly so.

chefwen 1:45 AM  

We need @LMS or ACME back to put a positive spin on this for me, I sure wasn't finding it. I did like 90D USED POT and CINNCINNATI REDS for Rose buds. I was on the Rose wine train of thought before baseball clicked in. Cute.

Sure could go for some MISSIPPI MUD PIE right about now but I'll take a pass on the ALFA SPROUTS.

jp flanigan 2:00 AM  

This was a slog for me. My brain was just not on the same wavelength as the clueing. The theme was fine, some weird fill like KNAR i've never seen or heard of. Longer than average time.

rini6 2:22 AM  

I agree..stale .. But I expect it from the NYTimes crossword. To me, some answers exist in a bizarro time warp. Thanks for the TMBG! They always brighten my day. :-)

Lee Coller 3:28 AM  

I'd argue the worst of all the bad fill is UIE!.

TokyoRacer 5:02 AM  

Three-peat, where three letters DO NOT repeat.... What's the point of that? Stupidest theme I've ever come across.

Mordechai B. 6:28 AM  

Had a conceptual problem with 102 cross, Deli sandwich filler. I immediately put down "pastrami" which I later changed to "cole slaw" I,e. the filler added to a turkey on rye. The answer is "ham salad" which doesn't belong in any of the delis that I frequent.

Lewis 6:35 AM  

There were a few good clues; I especially liked those for ANDS and CIN(CIN)NATIREDS. And a few good answers; I especially liked RANRAGGED, OOMPH, and MISS(ISS)IPPIMUDPIE. The theme was adequate. Overall, though, I didn't feel the joy. Joy comes from spark in clues and answers, from inventiveness, from a feeling of reward after hard work. Here, I'm sorry to say, I felt like one of those OXEN in the middle of the puzzle.

Tracy, you've brought me joy with your puzzles before, and I know you will again.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:38 AM  

Something different, but in the end not all that interesting.

Did any other former Latin student think 22A, AGNATE, could have been clued as "Lamb related"? ;>)

Only one mildly amusing write-over, 49 D, "Bridge words," BIDS >> ANDS.

Loren Muse Smith 6:43 AM  

It's still early this morning, so I can probably get in before one of the early cuts.

I couldn't disagree more with you all. When I saw the trick at CONAN THE BARIAN, I sat back and thought, "Oh, cool! We're going to see phrases that have three letters repeating." And I was reminded of a headline I saw the other day (my avatar) that made me laugh. Even then, though, I missed the fact that the missing letters were three-peats.

Rex, you said, "It's unfathomable to me that this seemed to anyone like it would be an entertaining / engaging / exciting concept." Uh, hello? This theme entertained me, engaged me, excited me. I rubbed my hands together and couldn't wait to see all the strings that repeated. Every single themer was fun to suss out for me. Every. Single. One. This wasn't my fastever solve, but I love a Sunday that has a Thursdayish tricky little twist and not just a wacky pun. This is one I will remember for a long time and one I'll kick aroundaround all day trying to think of phrases that works like this.

Granted, to each his own. My "own" is a spotlight shone on a little quirk of our language that makes me take note, that amuses me.

So I certainly will not castone at this offering. I loved it. Now off to feed my gianteater. Who has a gluten sitivity.

Thanks, Tracy, for the puzzle and for giving me a game to kick around today as I clean house. Bravo!

Paul Nichols 7:21 AM  

Two days in a row of very subpar setting...c'mon Will.

chefbea 7:43 AM  

I agree..Not a fun puzzle although I got the theme at Missippi mud pie. Had some the other day..very popular down here. Lots of words I didn't know. Haven't had alfa sprouts in a long time. Use to add them to salads..but not ham salad.

Had no idea why rose buds was Cinati reds til I came here and saw that Rex had a picture of Pete Rose

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

I agree with Rex. Tired puzzle even with bongzilla blasting.

Nancy 8:09 AM  

Until I got to @Loren's comment just now (the last one up, as I post), I thought I was losing my mind. Absolutely no one else liked this puzzle at all. And I did like it, I didn't love it, mind you, but I found it fun and different. Well, perhaps not all THAT different. At some point in the last month or so, I was stumped by a terrific puzzle that required you to read a portion of some of the answers twice. Since my memory is notoriously fuzzy, I can't remember what that puzzle was, only that I loved it. So the gimmick in this one didn't stump me; I was familiar with the trick and was onto it early. If I have a criticism, it's that it might have been harder on a Sunday. Still, there were some TINEs (sticking points) for me. I had MOUNT before MAUNA at 88A, which really threw me off. And I wanted some kind of "spies" for the Jason Bourne and others clue, though none of those letters repeat. I'm not enough of a Bourne series fan to know that he was a TRAINED ASSASSIN. So there was some resistance here for me. Perfectly enjoyable.

Nancy 8:16 AM  

@Mohair (from yesterday, 6:20 pm): The account of your "over/under 6" wager with Mrs. Mohair about JEWISH RYE references may be the most droll, delightful comment I've yet read in this space. It's just the sort of thing that addicts me to this blog.

Glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

@Lorenetc: I agree with your take on this puzzle, which puts us so far in a minority. I found it hard, maybe even "challenging." I undestood that the answer to 23A was going to be CONAN THE BARBARIAN, but it wasn't until much later (maybe CINCINNATI REDS) that I caught the gimmick. Lots of stuff I didn't know or didn't remember I knew. I eventually prevailed, but with a lot of intelligent guessing and indirect inferences. My last entry was the middle E in DEE (and I used to be a high school teacher). So for me this was a perfect Sunday puzzle--one I had to sweat for but eventually (more than an hour) solved. Obscure answers, old-time cluing, bring 'em on! Too bad for you pussies who gave up on it.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

This puzzle is really a pointless stunt that me left unimpressed. I got REPOSSESSED CARS early on but I could not fit it into the allotted space. So I figured it was a rebus type puzzle. Lost interest in continuing. Rex is spot on this puzzle.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

Like chestnuts, this puzzle was OLD. So old, i had to strain to reach back into my bag of musty, almost forgotten crossword lore for ADIT and ELENI. But they came back to me with crosses. So old, they were almost new!

Z 9:03 AM  

I didn't love this one, but more because I'm finding most 21x21 grids sloggy these days. The theme itself is fine. We've seen these anti-rebus puzzles before. Some of the themers were pretty easily gotten, MISS(ISS)IPPI MUD PIE and CIN(CIN)ATI REDS for example. Others took a little more work to suss out, like CHE(CHE)N REPUBLIC (no berets were harmed in creating this themer).

NCA President 9:10 AM  

So if we're all weighing in on whether we loved it or hated it, I'll just say I landed in the "meh" category. It was a puzzle. I did it on Sunday. It took about average time to do.

If there is anything really critical I have to say about the puzzle it is where I "naticked" at the crossing of SEHNA/SESTINAS. I had SEHNe/SESTINeS...there is literally no way to see that the "e" is wrong unless you know that it is. So, I didn't finish on account of that one silly crossing...and because of that, it tilts toward the dislike column.

As for the theme...when I finished the puzzle without the happy jingle, and reviewed it to find any spelling errors...(thinking SESTINeS was correct), I thought maybe the repeated letters should do something else or be entered as a rebus. When I found out that it was indeed the sestina crossing, the theme became less interesting. Just three letters that repeat. Hmmm. Mkay.

So, I didn't hate it like I've actually hated other puzzles. But my finish did not bring me joy.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Gee, I did not find this "easy," mostly because of the fill. The theme was accessible so I got through most of the puzzle that way but Sundays should be for people like me who love puzzles but aren't steeped in arcane crosswords.
so much for looking forward to the Sunday Times....

thanks to all the commenters for insights....


GILL I. 9:36 AM  

Hand up for being MORONIC, because I too, was entertained.
Now I've been doing Sunday puzzles for a long time and I can honestly say that I've never seen something like this. (I might have forgotten). I thought it on the hard side but I enjoyed the work-out.
Not all deli's are Kosher. Ham salad sandwich at our local Raley's deli are always on the menu. I still wanted pastrami (again)...
IBERIA is quite possibly the world's worst airline in so far as on-board international service. Take Swiss Air!
I'm just finishing up Elizabeth Gorski's WSJ's Museum Piece. It's hard but ENTERTAINING! Thanks George B. for the info.

Gracie H 9:49 AM  

Sunday is a puzzle day I anticipate, and I'm happy to spend a half hour solving while sipping latte. Not so today. I lost patience and started getting hints from Rex's solve after 15 minutes. Theme forced, cluing off, and by no means easy. Please Will, do better! Thanks Rex for the spot-on write up ('cept I found it more difficult.)

Tita 9:55 AM  

Thank heavens for @lms to bring me back to how I felt during the solve, rather than how that got twisted by reading Rex et al.... (Which is, after all, why I come here...)
I did look forward to sussing each one, though it was a bit of a slog and it was medium, even challenging in the NE.

Would have been fun if the actual phrases coulda been ALFASPROUTS...Leaders of a salad bowlful?
Uhh...can't think of a single other one... I can always count on the creative minds here to come up with some. We've already been treated to a few more themers from Loren...
I especially liked those whose repeated strings were pronounced differently...except for the CONAN one, I think that made them harder to suss.

Knew ODAlisque from the iconic Ingres painting, and others...but never knew ODA.

Thanks, Ms. Gray. Fun wordplay,

AliasZ 10:04 AM  

I am more ATILT toward @LMS, @Nancy, @Glimmerglass than toward @Rex. A similar threepeat theme was done by John Farmer a little over a year ago, as Tracy Gray discusses in her comments at xwordinfo. No wonder the theme seemed familiar as I was solving it. One entry I still remember from John Farmer's Thursday puzzle was PERCYBYSSHE[SHE]LLEY, and coincidentally, WHOOPIE[PIE]S vs. today's MISSIPPIMUDPIEs.

@Tracy, I wonder if the three repeated letters were meant to be ISS or SSI, ENT or NTE and ALF or LFA? I guess it doesn't matter.

It is odd to read @Rex about repeating ASS in TRAINEDASS[ASS]INS, already in the grid at 82D, yet no one mentioned TOE CAP and SALARY CAP yesterday. That repetition stuck out like a sore thumb in an otherwise smooth and near-faultless Barry C. Silk grid.

I wonder when musty OLD chestnuts like AGNATE, ADITS, ODA, OTARU, OTOE, CHEETA, PAO, UTNE, DODO, et al. will finally mature and become retro?

Here is Bernini's NOLI me tangere in the church of Santi Domenico e Sisto, Rome.

Enjoy your Sunday.

jberg 10:10 AM  

I enjoyed the theme, less so the OTOE/ESAI crossing. I saw something was going on with ENTE CORDIALE, but at that point I was misinterpreting "three-peat" to mean repeated three times, rather than three letters repeated.

The DEE/ELENI crossing was 95% guess for me; I vaguely remembered hearing the title (though I don't know who the memoirist is. An actor?), but it escaped me until just this moment (as I started to write "have no idea") that the 65 was a student's grade. Still a little unfair -- a letter grade is a letter, never spelled out -- but at least I got it. Unlike SESTINAS, where I started out with SESTainS and finally ended up with SESTAntS. You know, like sextants only more poetic. SEHNt was as good as SEHNA for me, and I failed to see what kind of 'bread' we were talking about for IOU, so i just let the A ride.

@Loren, thanks for popping by! Figuring out which three letters you're repeating there is harder than it seems it should be!

Teedmn 10:14 AM  

Aw, geez @Loren and @Nancy, I was so not inspired by this puzzle that I was enjoying wallowing in the negativity displayed here in @Rexville, and then you two made me rethink my peevishness. Of course, if I had a large insect eating mammal with dietary issues as a pet, maybe I too could find joy in REPOSSED CARS (autos which have been reclaimed by vigilantes?), ENTE CORDIALE (liqueur sipped during the Cold War) or MISS IPPI MUD PIE (that Miss Ippi sure is a good cook).

That's what I was missing here is the punnish THRILL and OOMPH for my near Naticks of SAMARRA/MASSON (I had 'gAllOw' for the wine guy for a brief moment) and my actual DNF at Bak/LaSSE/ERIkSON (with that K in Leif Ericson's name, I couldn't see BIC).

The MISSIPPI answer was one I thought of early in my solve so I smiled when I found it down near the bottom of the grid. As a resident of the state where the headwaters of that river are found, I was taught early how to spell that name and I still get pleasure rattling it off in my head.

Thanks, Tracy Gray.

'mericans in Paris 10:15 AM  

Any puzzle for which we have to Google answers (three times in this case, all in the SW) is at least a medium for us. The theme didn't bother us, but we'd agree with Carola that it would have been much more impressive if the truncated theme answers made sense on their own. Otherwise, the puzzle lacked OOMPH.

Too many proper names for our taste. Even the geographic clues, on which I usually do well, were at times obscure. I lived in The Netherlands for a couple of years, and visited the Keukenhof on several occasions, but the name of the village in which it is situated never registered in my tiny brain. I'll probably have forgotten LISSE by tomorrow.

I'd question the cluing for 114 D. Yes, like everything else these days, even POW-MIA has been virgulized. However, the clue is about the bracelets that were fashioned in the 1970s, and at that time the abbreviations POW and MIA were linked by a five-pointed star (POW*MIA would come closest, though newspaper articles at the time, and even today in some cases, hyphenated it). Even today, the iconic -- and apparently controversial -- B&W flag shows it as POW*MIA, not POW/MIA.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Can anyone explain why "65 or so" is DEE???

thomas greisen 10:20 AM  

This one did not put a smile on my face. It was soooo boring that I just deleted it. Did not even save for the kids.
Come on Will. You can do better otherwise I will have to cancel my subscription and go elsewhere to get my fix.

Da Bears 10:23 AM  

I agree with @Rex about ASS. As for the puzzle, I've seen worse lately and occasionally I've seen better. Frankly, I've all but given up on the Sunday puzzles offering the kind of entertainment and fun Rex talks about today. They too often seem to be too transparent resulting in more slog than fun. So when a Sunday puzzle comes along that meets the criteria Rex describes, it is to be cherished.

I think the most disappointing part of the theme is that (1) it results in nonsensical words and (2) the double three letters did nothing to the crossing words. In one respect the theme is similar to the recent Thursday puzzle (October 29) that had double letters across which did not apply to the down crossing word but that was a smaller puzzle with more of a surprise. Maybe solving that one so recently left this one flat coming so close together.

Roo Monster 10:26 AM  

Hey All !
I thought the theme was kinda neat. Fun to think of words with a three letter string twice in a row. The only one I didn't know was ENTENTE CORDIALE. Fav one was ALFALFA SPROUTS. Rex has it as ALF[ALF]A, but I parsed it as ALFA[LFA]. To each their own, eh?

In a 21x puz, you're naturally gonna get more dreck than normal, so I'm willing to overlook most of it. This definitely wasn't the Worst SunPuz, however, wasn't as sparkling as some. Overall, it satisfied the criteria for a nice SunPuz. IMO, of course.

I caught it after seeing CHIHUA[HUA], then seeing BAR[BAR]IAN, and had to writeover the last HUA I had written in! Some other writeovers, burl->KNAR, salt->ENDS, datING->EatING->EBBING.

Had 8 wrong letters, :-( , so a big ole DNF. Oh well, still had fun.

Elected politicians? = TRAINED ASS INS :-D


Mohair Sam 10:38 AM  

Hand up with the small but growing group who enjoyed the puzzle overall, especially the theme. It was different and fun. But do agree with @Rex on the high price we paid in crosswordese. He mentioned OTOE crossing ESAI - well REI is "ese" for a lot of us too, making that a nasty little section.

@jae - Can't believe we missed the ADIT reference on "Justified". Loved the show, and every time we see a coal mine in a movie or on TV we hope to justify doing all these crosswords by hearing good old ADIT.

Great clue for ANDS (49d, Bridge words). ERICSON - I read recently that most Icelanders continue to give a surname to their children using their first names with "son" or "dottir" tagged on after rather than use a family name. The naming system is actually a bit complex and worth the Googling.

Words we never noticed had double triples before today: CHECHEN, ENTENTE, and ALFALFA. Have no idea why (or why not).

Fun Sunday Tracy Gray, thanks.

Hartley70 10:43 AM  

I went over an hour on this one too, so I don't exactly give it an easy rating, but I enjoyed it. The A in SENHA is what tripped me up. It felt like a Sunday from an earlier era, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'd call it a "classic" Sunday. In my early days as a Sunday-only solver, this type of trick is about as deceptive as it got, and it was still fun. WS has upped the cleverness quotient in the daily challenges, so this only suffers by comparison. I believe "Eleni" was published in the early 80's and that feels just about right for this classic theme.

@Loren it's good to hear your voice! Your constructor brain finds additional themers so brilliantly that your examples would have upped the difficulty level considerably.

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

I hate commas and not using my plurals correctly.

Leapfinger 10:49 AM  

Kind of interesting that ENTENTE, ALFALFA and MISSISSIPPI can each have the three-peater broken out two different ways. That's the sort of thing a triplet-reader would notice,I s'pose, and probably gave Tracy G some leeway in the construction.

My girl used to say 'funny' for 'sunny' when she was little, and I think that F/S transposition is fairly common with little kids. So... FESTINA lente, y'all. I can't be the only one who's ever measured once, cut twice. It's been a long time since I dipped a toe in those waters, but when it comes to "Que Sera", Erasmus says it best. Too bad he didn't have 10 more to make it 42.

No Kraft-EBBING in that arena, is there?

Enjoy your sunny Sunday.

John McKnight 11:03 AM  

i logged onto the internet and navigated here to say that this puzzle sucked. my voice must be heard.

Charley 11:07 AM  

Ace and ten is a winning blackjack hand, but it's not a pair. Bad clue.

Shamik 11:07 AM  

Medium challenging for me because I kept looking for a place to add those extra letters and not "imagine" their existence. Agree with Rex totally about this puzzle (except on easy vs. medium challenging).

Casco Kid 11:13 AM  

Three-peat: repeat, then repeat again, synonym with back-to-back-to-back. "No NFL team has ever three-peated a Super Bowl." "The Yankees and athe A's are the only MLB teams to have three-peated the World Series. A three-peat of the string ab is ababab and of the string abc is abcabcabc. @Z, @George, your thoughts?

TRAINEDASASSASSINS. ? I was confused. Remapping "three-peat" onto asomething it does not mean was . . . devious?

This was a medium puzzle, easy-medium if it weren't for the misdirect of its naming. 95 minutes. IDOTOO and the SEHNt/SESTINtS Natick. DNF, but I learn SEHNA, which validates the Natick. SESTINA, not really.

Bird 11:29 AM  

Yup, not enjoyable. DNF because I didn't want to. The diagramless was much better

Masked and Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Wow. 9 (very clever) themers squished into one SunPuz. And then she had to fill the grid. That had to have been a job that would be ten times harder than fillin a 15x15. 100 times harder than fillin a 7x7 runtpuz. Day-um. I hate to think about what that mighta been like. Give the nice lady her $1000 bucks. Cripes -- she even backed its word count down to 138, to get more long answers in there for us.

Are there any weak chinks in the fill's armor? There'd about have to be a few, unless they'da put a roomful of constructioneers to work on the grid for 100 years, or somesuch. I don't recall having any problem getting past most of em, tho. Biggest chink I can recall was at SEHN?/SESTIN?S; Mr. Happy Pencil stabbed me right thru the armor, there.

A dozen U's, too?! Rodeo!

At first I saw the puz title, and reasoned in an m&asorta-way that letter strings were supposed to be repeatin three times. But weren't quite sure, at first 'peat, how that fit in with the Governator's flick. CONANTHEBA-BA-BARIAN? Sorta like a Beach Boys riff? Lost valuable nanoseconds.

Thanx, Tra-tra-tracy. ODA! har.

Masked and AnonymoDozenUs.


J. D. KaPow 11:47 AM  

Easy? Wow. Hardest Sunday for me in years. First DNF I can remember in ages on a Sunday. Just could not get traction, even though I had the theme very quickly.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

@muse: Luv yer avatar choice. Nice write-up.

Castone. har


Hartley70 11:49 AM  

Letter grade.

Z 11:51 AM  

@Anon10:16 - DEE as in the letter grade "D," often 60-69 on a 100 point grading scale. cf "logical ends" from a couple of puzzles ago.

@Charley - No, that's a good clue because it made you think it wanted "pair" as in "a pair of tens" when it meant "pair" as in "two of something." A pair of shoes or a pair of of crosswords or a pair of cards or a pair of pants.... Damn, what is it with English?

nick 11:51 AM  

Another tired trivia quiz with neither payoff nor joy. Got the trick right away and was sailing through until tedium trumped the completionist in me and I ditched. So disappointing.

Lobster11 11:58 AM  

Didn't finish and didn't care.

Wendy the former snowperson 12:04 PM  

A boring slog. Usually when I see an abundance of three-letter answers in the grid, I just don't bother with it.
OLD, SAN, BIT, DEE, REI, REF, LAH, ERA, GDS (?!Really??), BIC, POR, ARI, RNS, INN, SAT, DAS, UNO, MIA, CIA, IND, ASS, IOU, CDS, HOT, MER, HIP. Just ick. Don't get me started on the four-letter answers because then I'd have to mention UTNE.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

The issue here was not the theme. The fill was ridiculous and ruined the puzzle for me. More than one Natick for me. And just a lot of arbitrary junk that made the whole thing a total slog. Iris? Eres? Ares? The mixture of inscrutable, arcane fill with gimmes made it play weirdly chunky.

Chaos344 12:07 PM  

Wow! Sorry Tracy, but I think you literally "mailed it in" on this one. I won't pile on, especially since most of the negative adjectives to describe this puzzle have already been used. Kudos for coming up with one or two entries where people may have actually learned a new word, instead of another useless pop culture clue. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to save this puzzle from being roundly, and IMHO justifiably crucified.

@jae 12:29 AM ADIT was a common clue answer in the Maleska era. I sure am going to miss Justified. Great TV show!

@Anonymous 1:42 AM. said in part,[" But these past few months have shaken my fervor: I think Will Shortz is so focused on some perverse form of ingenuity and gimcrackery that he chooses puzzles that lose puzzle lovers. This one is horrible. It's stupid, insultingly so."]

I have my own theory on that. I think Will and Joel are trying to wean everyone over 50ish off what we've come to expect from NYT puzzles. For at least the last five years, we have been forced to memorize every member of The Simpsons, Harry Potter, every Rap or Hip Hop artist, all au courant slang, every new age meme, ad nauseam. That was bad enough, but now the trend seems to be a gimmick puzzle every other day? I'm with you. It's getting old, even if we are too!

@Mordechai B.: I nailed HAM SALAD right away Mordechai. I was raised on those sandwiches. It's best when the ham is put through an old fashioned hand cranked meat grinder. The add a healthy portion of diced sweet Gherkins and Hellman's Mayo. Yum Yum!

@Loren Muse Smith 6:43 AM. Don't mean to cast aspersions Loren but really? I usually love your comments on Wordplay. You're a funny lady and I give you Reco's whenever I go over there. Having said that, it seems you and very few others agree? I get the whole "sisterhood" thing, especially since you are a constructor as well, but don't you think your praise of this puzzle was just a tad on the effusive side? Just sayin!

@Unknown 8:40 AM: Sure, ELENI and ADIT are old, but I didn't even hesitate putting them in. Half the people solving NYT puzzles these days couldn't finish a Maleska era puzzle in twice their average time. Those puzzles contained real knowledge. Was most of that knowledge rarely used? Sure! When will most people ever need to know that PISMIRE is a seven letter word for an ant. Five letters for an ant? That would be EMMET. Speaking of EMMET, wouldn't you rather know its another word for an ant, instead of knowing that Marshall Bruce Mathers III is the birth name of the Rap artist EMINEM? See what I'm sayin? There's arcane knowledge and there's truly useless knowledge!

Gregory Schmidt 12:10 PM  

Wow, this one was way over my head. I haven't been solving consistently enough yet to know a lot of the pure crosswordese in this. Crossing AGNATE/SUMARRA? OTOE/ESAI? How about SEHNA/SESTINA? All pure Naticks for me, and I'm sure there were more. I liked the theme once I finally twigged to it, but far, far too many proper nouns, foreign place names, and things like ADIT and KNAR for me to be able to finish without Google. Been awhile since I've given up on a Sunday, but just couldn't get it done today. Ugh.

Andrew Heinegg 12:14 PM  

Anonymous at 10:32, 65 is the rough number for a 'D' on a report card, spelled phonetically for x-words. I thought it was mostly easy but not interesting. No accounting for taste but, I do not find Ms. Gray's efforts to be on the same level as the better constructors of NYT x-words.

stwidgie 12:20 PM  

I didn't mind the theme, caught onto it fairly early, but oh, where was the pleasure in any of this? When I got an odd answer, I felt no delight. Missable. Thanks for vindicating me, Rex.

Chuck McGregor 12:24 PM  

@ LMS 6:43 (good to see you back!)

“…a little quirk of our language that makes me take note, that amuses me.”

Also a fan of language quirks and strange usages.

I often pass a sign that reads “Blind Driveway” Every time I see it I can’t help but think something like why don’t they get it some glasses or take it to an optometrist/ophthalmologist? Strangely others on the same road say the more sensible “Hidden Driveway,” although that has its alterative readings as well.

Hilarious avatar headline! It also proves (at least according to some newspaper editor[s]) that “Missippi” must be a real thing and thus, technically, wouldn’t fit the theme, there being no Three-Peat.

Not an easy puzzle for me!

Among other things, far too many naticks: LEANNE with CHEN, SEHNA with SESTINAS, NOLI with LOPEZ, ARLO with BOYD, OTARU with UTNE, OTOE with ESAI. DEXTER with DOWD, BIC with ERICSON and LISSE, SAMARRA with AGNATE, ERIS with ARI, and finally ENT[ENT]E CORDIALE with ERIS, ETOILE, and SAMARRA. I made pure guesses as to the common letters and, for some, others of their letters. Got some right and some wrong.

Had CARNATI REDS early on thinking it was some odd Carnation hybrid before I sort of sussed out the theme.

I could only finish with several letter checks and reveals.

My overall review -- It appeared to me to be relatively un-New York Time-ish.

Wm. C. 12:27 PM  

@LMS --

Tnx for stepping up and differing with @Rex and all the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism that followed him.

I found the puzzle enjoyable, even though it took a bit longer than usual for me to Sussex out the theme.

Blue Stater 12:30 PM  

@Anonymous (1:42 a.m.): I concur 100%. I hope WS reads this blog and will act on it. As to the first, I doubt it; as to the second, I've been saying things like this about the puzzles for 20 years to no avail, and I have no reason to think that things will change. I'm actually on the point, having done these puzzles every day without exception since the early 1950s, of cancelling my subscription to the puzzles. I never thought I would get to this point.

Unknown 12:41 PM  

Maybe Mr Shortz is a limitless too busy with his ping pong.

Alan_S. 1:10 PM  

Time to dump Will? He's just not picking the right puzzles anymore. When the fluff in New York magazine becomes more entertaining than the Sunday Times it may be time for a change.

chefbea 1:57 PM  

@Shamik haven't seen you here for a while. Welcome back

Barbara Weinstein 2:00 PM  

I completely agree. This puzzle stinks. Though at least I learned a new word about knots.

Numinous 2:57 PM  

I have to wonder if ALF(ALF)A from the little rascals The Little Rascals was named that for the "sprout" of hair coming from the top of his head or if the "sprout" was inspired by his name.

I'm in the group with @M&A, @Casco, et al who thought that it was going to be three repetitions rather than three repeating. To my chagrin, I never really got the whole idea untill I got to the MISSI(SSI)PPI crossing. Even then, three repetitions made no sense but I shrugged and carried on.

There is a legitimate place on Sydney Harbor that actually fulfills the expectations we had and more so: Woolloomooloo. It's a bit of a trick for school kids to spell. Just for fun, I have to ask @M&A; how many Us in Woolloomooloo? Give up? It's easy, double you, double oh, double ell, double oh, em, double oh, el, double oh. There is, or was, a big old pub there facing the water and as you go around the curve past the RAN facility be sure to stop at Harry's Cafe de Wheels for a meat pie and peas.

I, for some reason enjoy seeing UIE and youie and other variations. I don't know why, I just do. I know what a SESTINA is for having written some. Dare I confess, I've even written a rap song.

Put me in the group who found this puzzle from a five to an eight on the Xword scale (0–10). I liked it fine. It had me thinkin' cap on there and I like that. Still, I found it reasonably easy as in 20+ minutes under my Sunday average time with zero googles and no final corrections. I will admit I held my breath when I entered the final letter, the E in SEHNA.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

Positively idiotic. Had my wife throw this thing straight into the juicer. Certainly the least desirable thing to happen to me or my family in recent years.

Chaos344 3:27 PM  

Its a beautiful autumn day here on eastern Long Island. Ordinarily, I would have taken a ride out to Montauk Point on the Harley. Alas, I dinged my shin with a clam rake two days ago. Stupid! The leg is still pretty sore, so its the NFL and the blogosphere for me today!

Ergo, here is some food for thought. I came back to the blog sooner than usual today, because I assumed that Rex would update it more often on the weekend. It appears my assumption was correct. I decided to do an analysis of the posts in relation to the popularity of the puzzle. Bear in mind that I gave the benefit of the doubt to pro comments, since I had previously posted my disdain for the puzzle. Here is what I found.

As I started typing this, the blog showed 59 comments. 60 if you count OFL. The breakdown is as follows:

Negative or extremely negative = 35
Positive or extremely positive = 10
Middle of the road, No opinion, or posts not related to puzzle popularity = 15
Thus, excluding the last category, over 75% of commenters didn't like this puzzle.

Taking cross-posters into account, I started thinking how the results would offer a great opportunity to compare differences between Rex's bloggers and Wordplay bloggers. Here's what I found.

At approximately 2:15 PM, Wordplay was claiming 58 comments. I think I missed 2, but I wasn't going to recount. Here is the breakdown:

Negative or extremely negative = 5
Positive or extremely positive = 7 If you add Deb who never bad-mouths anything, 8
Middle of the road, No opinion, or posts not related to puzzle popularity = 44

The vast majority of the last category are posts that have absolutely no relevance to the popularity of the puzzle, or to be frank, anything at all to do with the puzzle. This will come as no surprise to those familiar with both forums. Wordplay is a huge love fest among a dozen regulars. Everyone there subscribes to the "If you can't say something nice" philosophy. Gentility and Political Correctness rule. That is why I think this blog is far superior. Commenters seem to be much more honest in stating their true feelings, and they aren't worried about ruffling a few feathers! Rex allows honest differences within reason, and I think we all probably appreciate that. Just wish we could find a fix to poster continuity issues.

Z 3:41 PM  

@Casco Kid - Ya. Looking something sports related when I started. Got the mis-direction at the Rose buds clue. I think it is a fine mis-direction, three letters that are repeated in real life get played with. cf my "pair" comment above. Hard to believe we ever understand each other, innit?

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

ADIT? Crossword archeology.

Loren Muse Smith 4:29 PM  

@Tita – what a terrific mental image of ALFA SPROUTS bullying everyone else on the salad bar. @Gil – calls for a cartoon, no?

@M&A – agreed – I can't imagine filling a 21x. And though constructing puzzles is not a great way to, well, to feather onest, I think Tracy earned her $1000. I'm baffled by all the negativity here.

@Chaos – I'm digging my heels in on this one. I got a kick out of seeing phrases that had three letters repeat; it's just that simple.

Whenever I really like a puzzle that Rex and others so completely pan, I sit at the kitchen table before I type and take stock. If this is as bad as people are saying, how could I like it so much? It always comes down to the fact that the theme showed me something cool and had me looking forward to seeing all the examples. As to the accusation that the effusive nature of my comment could be due to some kind of sisterhood… wow. Is the implication that had this been done my a man I would have been less so? I remember a Matt Ginsberg Sunday Literally Speaking that had me even more effusive, and that was one people were panning, too. So we'll have to revisit the word "sisterhood."

People can point out crosswordese, call puns wacky, label themes "thin" ad nauseam, but what people can't do is tell me I didn't enjoy it.

Every morning of my life, the NYT puzzle provides me with a simpleasure. I'm grateful that I manage to derive pleasure from it every morning.

Nancy 5:02 PM  

@Chaos344 (12:07) p.m. While I find all the contemporary bands and their albums, rap artists, ditto, and other pop culture trivia every bit as annoying and trivial as you do, I doubt very much that Will is "trying to get rid of over-50s", like us. (BTW, if that were the ONLY age I was over, I'd be a very happy camper.) As it happens, I've had the great pleasure of talking to Will on the phone and a more charming, warm and accessible person you can't possibly imagine. It was he who suggested I look into the Rexblog; I never would have found it on my own. But I'm mostly posting to point out that there are plenty of long-in-the-teeth people like me who absolutely LOVE gimmick puzzles! Not only don't they drive me away, they delight me -- almost without fail. There are some clunkers, sure, but most of them make me have to exercise those little gray cells in ways straight puzzles rarely do. Stay with them; you may come to love them too. Eventually.

paulsfo 5:05 PM  

@loren @nancy, etc: I also loved this puzzle. It had a high number of (IMO) clever clues, which is a big plus for me.

Speaking of love/hate, I hate that comments don't show up for many hours. I've pretty much given up on this blog for this reason (today was an exception because I liked the puzzle so much).
Rex, please, please make *many* more people approved moderators, so the comments appear in a timely manner. While well-intentioned, the current lack of interactivity has largely ruined this blog. Thanks

Chaos344 5:31 PM  

Leapy, Leapy. Leapy!

Owie, (The Bard Of Quincy) may be the ultimate Punster, but you are "Coffee Through The Nose" hilarious! This back and forth over 24 hour periods really sucks, but not enough to make me start posting on Wordplay again. Speaking of Wordplay, why don't you just "cut and paste" your Wordplay comments to the notepad, and then re-paste them here? It will save you gobs of time, and its not fair that Wordplay gets the best of wit and Rex's has to settle for the leftovers!

OMG! You owe me 6 ozs of Tide! I'm sure you understand what I'm alluding to! Your send-up on the Weaver's and the Okapi thing really RUPP-tured my gut. Where do you come up with this sheet? You're sick, but in a very good way!

Just take a look at this poor Okapi?
He's got a striped ass and he can't be happy!
Was his daddy a Zebra, or a giraffe?
Like a certain president, he's Half & Half!

So which half does he chose to embrace?
Does he favor his back end, or favor his face?
Does he favor his markings, or favor his height?
Does he favor his dark side, or favor his light?

We can only guess how, an Okapi might feel?
Is he footloose and free, or a lion's next meal?
I think he feels like clueless America?
Totally lost in PC hysteria!

Moving along, you posted this. ["Hey, @Chaos! Good to know the ship didn't sink at Sag Harbor."]?

If you're making the analogy that the ship Sag Harbor is still afloat, that is true, but barely! Its listing badly. Sag Harbor has become totally gentrified, and is a shell of the town I grew up in. I'm no where close to comfortable here anymore. Bottom line? Although I can trace my roots in Sag Harbor back to the 1600's, I can't wait to sell my house and abandon this particular leaking vessel! I'll be coming your way( south) soon, although I don't know if North Carolina suits my purposes. My main objective is going to be a state that has the best tax incentives. Google Zillow.Com and type in 11963. I live in the heart of town. You'll see my potential problems with potential taxes.

Zombies and sharks went a long way to livening the proceedings, but there hasn't been the usual amount of jumping up and down today. Perhaps a quick google on 'Adolph Rupp controversy' can fix that. Pick the version you prefer.

Have no idea about your Zombies and sharks thing, but whatever?

7:04 PM

Masked and Anonymous 5:32 PM  


@Numinous: The Masked & Aborigine var. of wuu-lu-mu-loo is far preferrable.

@muse: I have submitted a couple SunPuzs to the NYTimes, over a past, misspent life. Both constructions took an awful lot out of me. Had to start making 7x7 runtpuzs, just to get my nerve back. @r.alph just published runtpuz #400. Ruby Anniversary. Hope U can try it out. This NYTSunPuz got real low marks at Crossword Fiend, also. Fiend Amy didn't like the fill much, but was ok on the theme.

Interesting to see @009 invoke the coveted "*desperate*" label, today. There are sure a lot of new folks comin out with the puzs, anymore. Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed daily puzs both seem to be luring some pretty well-known constructors, which probably thins out the contributions pool to each single venue even more than before. None of the puzs seem much more desperate than before to me, so far, but it does get M&A's hopes up ...


Chaos344 7:03 PM  

@ Loren Muse Smith:

No problem lady! Dig your heels in all you want. I expected as much, and actually would have been shocked and disappointed had you not defended your position! I especially expected you to recoil at the suggestion that you were only supporting a substandard Sunday NYT puzzle because the constructor was a women!

Obviously you don't know me that well, but I have a Wordplay history of excoriating constructors who submit "Vanity Puzzles." Especially puzzles where the constructor sets up an obvious Natick and Will lets it fly! Think Tim Croce! Vanity puzzles are expressly purposed to prove that the constructor can come up with enough misdirection and arcane fill to prove no cruciverbalist can solve his grid. Its an exercise in arrogance and self promotion!

Full disclosure. I am a crossword purist. I never resort to Google, letter check, or any other type of help. Anything less than a complete solve is a complete failure! If I cannot bring up MHP, without help or the red triangle of death, I lose! If I get more than one "fail" a month, I'm pissed! It it what it is. I've been doing puzzles for over 50 years, so my standards are very high.

Annette 7:43 PM  

I second everyone who didn't like this puzzle, for every reason.

I love this moderated forum! I don't have to think of anything original to say!

Norm 8:14 PM  

Whenever Rex (and others) complain about fill like AGNATE and ADITS and the like, I have to chime in with greetings to my old friends. I've been doing these puzzles (with my dad's mom) since (probably) before Rex was born (hey there, Nana, hope you're having a good time in heaven), and I see no problem with the occasional oldie. If I can get used to text abbreviations and rappers and other modern stuff, the rest of you can damn well accept some old stuff now and then. Harrumph.

BigWool 8:52 PM  

You're heart stopped??

BigWool 8:53 PM  

Dexter is not a "crime drama."

foxaroni 9:04 PM  

I think a better title would have been THREE AND OUT. I'd give it a 65 or so. That is, a DEE.

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

Couldn't agree more with Rex. Puzzle was a flop in every way.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Liked it

kitshef 6:54 PM  

Followed my worst solve ever with another DNF thanks to DEE/ELENI (fair) and OTARU/UTNE (ridiculous and unfair). Also ridiculous and unfair was SESTINAS/SEHNA, but there I happened to guess righr.
Not sure why everyone is so down on this overall, though. All the themers are real things - albeit with some PoCs. Most of the long downs are pretty goof, too. It's just the short stuff that's miserable.
I keep meaning to start a list of Schoedinger words - similar letter pattern and same definition. Today we have H E/I P. E VA/LU de is another.

Rina 7:53 AM  

I often get to the puzzle later. I did it whilst enjoying a Pistols concert DVD. The concert was great and this puzzle was Johnny-well Rotten. But I did like that it didn't just solve itself after one's sussing the theme.

jgw 10:47 AM  

I can't find the two puzzles right now, but last week, REI was, in two different puzzles, clued as "outdoor equipment vendor" or something similar. Shoulda been "outdoor equip. vendor" since REI is an abbreviation for Recreation Equipment Incorporated. Niggling little point.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

Get a grip folks it's a Crossword Puzzle nothing more nor less

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle! I caught onto the theme right away and found it fun to work out the theme answers without having to google anything. Puzzles where there are no extra or missing letters in the theme are soooo boring. Good work Tracy!

Unknown 9:27 PM  

Sometimes I think Rex has gotten a little too persnickety -- judges too harshly. Because hey, they're just crosswords.

Today I agree with him completely. What a joyless mess. It's almost a parody of a NYT Sunday puzzle. Moronic theme, silly words, and completely witless. Just a sullen trudge through some kind of grammar school exercise designed by heartless spinsters with no ounce of imagination in their brains.

Grant Edwards 11:59 PM  

I totally agree. Trained ASS-in made me laugh out loud. I never do Sunday's cause they're too long (and easy) but I loved this one.

late anonymous in montreal 11:20 AM  

Coming in quite late here, but I've eaten lots of sushi where just about everything in it was cooked.

VanGram 5:30 PM  

I have been doing the NYT Crosswords for 25+ years. As I have aged they have become my way of preventing Alzheimer's disease while providing countless hours of stimulating entertainment. It is a rare puzzle that I do not learn something or get a good brain workout even though they may be easy and rather mundane. This puzzle was no exception and I caught on at Conan the Barbarian. Not the most challenging theme, however, a good solve nonetheless. If I have a motto it is this: "The person who knows everything has a lot to learn." If and when the time comes that I do know everything I will stop doing these puzzles...what would be the point? Until then, I eagerly look forward to the daily puzzle as it appears in my morning newspaper...warts and all!

rondo 11:24 AM  

Got the gimmick at CONAN. Realized it was a three-nonrepeat rather than actually repeating and wondered how many there could be. Killed the hour before the wife got up. Engaging? Somewhat. Exciting? Nope. Passable? Probably. Finished? Yup, and I’ve tossed aside other Sun-puz efforts. And this coming from someone who generally dislikes Sunday and Thursday puzzles.

WELLS could have been clued “Dawn on Gilligan’s Island”, yeah baby. If I’m not mistaken, she and Tina Louise are the only surviving cast members, which brings up the same old choice for a different question. Last to survive?

JOANN Pflug, M*A*S*H* movie yeah baby. Yes she was a Dish.

Again, I don’t think a REF is “calling the shots”. Penalties and fouls maybe. RNS is more believable, but “calling”? Hmmm.

After about 25 years I still miss LEANNE who was killed in a traffic accident by a drunken crotch rocket hot dog. She always had such a spark of life . . .

You can call CRIMEA a land grab, but didn’t they vote themselves out of Ukraine? They had always been an autocratic republic anyway, always with a large Russian fleet anchored at Sevastopol. I dated a woman from there, yeah baby.

So yeah, I did this puz and it brought back some pleasant memories. It’s not all about questionable fill.

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

DNF. I dunno, maybe I'm getting impatient in my old age. If I have to trudge through a 21x21, I at least want some kind of payoff. This?? Ain't it. Maybe I'd have fared better with a different start; I usually cast about for a familiar thing or two and found them, today, in the SW (TINCUP with the delectable Rene Russo) and the SE with (3)B-N5. You woodpushers will recognize. Out of this comes MISSIPPI...etc. SO: rebus--but where? Gotta be the Dutch town "known for tulip tourism." Known??? People, I've BEEN to the Netherlands! One of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen was in the VVV booth outside the train station in Amsterdam! I traveled the countryside! And I NEVER! HEARD! of LISSE! All the other downs fit--except maybe the S in ERICS(S?)ON might be doubled. The whole thing was a mishmash, and when I saw the ridiculous abbreviation GDS (who compresses 5 letters to 3?) I just said the hell with it. INC. I have better things to do with my time.

Burma Shave 12:52 PM  


OLD feelings SURGED to life,
a THRILL ATLEISURE to meet her,
LEANNE’s another man’s HOT wife,


AnonymousPVX 2:58 PM  

Well, if I had to name this puzzles's theme it would be Natick Ad Nauseum. Not really enjoyable on any level. And that's all I have to say about this.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

And ceviche isn't eaten raw. It's cooked by the acid of the citrus.

leftcoastTAM 7:32 PM  

I haven't done a Sunday for a long time. Just a big version of Wednesday, some have said. Well, this wasn't that.

I'm impressed with its Thursday trickiness as well as its flashes of Fri-Sat obscurities like the SEHNA/SESTINAS cross.

It also has some very clever misdirection clues
like "Bread substitute?" which I interpreted as SOU instead of IOU, and "Rose buds?" which I didn't see as CIN---NATIREDS (I had ChianTIREDS!).

So I have a new respect for the Sunday puzzle but don't really want to use too big a chunk of the day to chug through it.

leftcoastTAM 8:22 PM  

I'm signing on to the @Loren Muse Smith @Nancy (way above) clubs.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

What Rex said. Which is shocking, really, as I usually love the puzzles he hates, and vice versa. Not this time. DNF and DNC. Theme was OK (just), but too many Naticks, to much blah fill. I've been doing these puzzles probly since before some of you kids were born, and can't remember the last time I didn't finish a Sunday puzzle.

On the editing: I've come to the conclusion that Will is really a games guy, not a wordplay guy. Have you listened to some of the Sunday "puzzles" on NPR? "Take the name of a well-known American city, change the first, third and fifth letters to the next letter in the alphabet, to give you the name of a listener who really doesn't give a rat's a*s." Gawd.

Joseph McGrath 5:09 PM  

This was a tough one for me. Not familiar with: Star Wars, agnate, etiole, sehna, sestinas, Esai (even though it's in many puzzles - not crossed with Otoe, though BTW Chiwere speaking?), Arlo & Janis, noli, Lopez, Leann, Boyd, Norma...You get the idea. Hated it, but disliked more Rex's rating of "easy". Onward and Upward is my cry. Always creasing, never ceasing, do or die.

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