1914 battle locale / SUN 1-31-16 / Old Southwest outlaw / Title chameleon of 2011 animated film / Bay former US base on Luzon / Pope John X's successor / Explorer for England who mistook Canada for Asia / Nomadic northerner / News sensation of 10/4/1957

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Constructor: Yaakov Bendavid

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Message To Buyers" — theme answers are ... messages to buyers? ... notices you might in advertisements or on products you purchase ... but here, reclued wackily (with "?" clues and everything) through reimagined meanings of phrase words (underlined words, below, are given new wacky meanings in their clues):

Theme answers:
  • ASSEMBLY REQUIRED (23A: Notice regarding voting in a state legislature?)
  • INTEL INSIDE (34A: Sign on the N.S.A.'s entrance?)
  • CONTAINS SMALL PARTS (56A: Audition caution for a movie with a cast of thousands?)
  • BATTERY NOT INCLUDED (78A: Note on a watered-down assault indictment?)
  • NO MONEY DOWN (97A: Offer of free pillow fill?)
  • STORE IN A DRY PLACE (113A: Desert supermarket?)

Word of the Day: SUBIC Bay (10A: ___ Bay, former U.S. base on Luzon) —
Subic Bay is a bay on the west coast of the island of Luzon in Zambales, Philippines, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of Manila Bay. It is an extension of the South China Sea, and its shores were formerly the site of a major United States Navy facility named U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, it is now the location of an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. // The bay was long recognized for its deep and protected waters, but development was slow due to lack of level terrain around the bay. (wikipedia)
• • •

It took me a while to figure out what was going on, as the coherence of the theme answers, as a set, is not immediately apparent. For instance, "INTEL INSIDE" is an ad slogan, not a "message to buyers" (any more than "Coke is It" is a message to buyers). So if you're solving from the top down ... it takes a while for the concept to become clear. And even then ... the theme is light (just six answers?) and the answers themselves are often slightly off-feeling. For instance, the most spot-on version of the first "message" is "some ASSEMBLY REQUIRED." I'm sure the some-less version exists, but it's not le phrase juste. "INTEL INSIDE," as I say, is a real outlier, as it's not a "message" at all (it's a slogan). As with the first themer, the fourth has a more classic iteration: "Batteries (plural) not included." Spielberg even made a movie with that title. And I know the last themer as "store in a cool, dry place." So, you could get a lawyer (Lionel Hutz, say (see above)) to defend the phrases as they appear in the grid, but ... you shouldn't need a lawyer.

The fill has many rough moments, and can't come close to making up for the tepid, slightly awkward theme. Stuff one should try Desperately to keep out of one's grid: LEOVI (all LEO + Roman numerals, really), SUBIC (?), KPS (plural? really?), BSED (dear lord), STOL (old-school crosswordese), EEN, OCTA, "TO SIR" (unless it's clued ["___, With Love"]), TER (106A: Thrice, in prescriptions) (er, no, never, not any more, ask a doctor—I did), etc. I was fortunate enough to end on a high note—the highest note in the puzzle, actually: MAN'S MAN! (86D: Masculine icon). Took me a while to get, and gave me a great aha moment. And it was the very last thing I put in the grid. Not much about the rest of the puzzle was very exciting. I will say that with the exception of TE AMO, it's very clean through the middle, which is impressive, as that's a good chunk of white space to handle so smoothly. Seven adjacent 6+-letter Downs in a row there from ASSIST down to RIOTER. I just realized that if BSED had been clued the way people actually *use* BSED (i.e. BS'ed), my feelings on it would've done a 180.

Here's a message from Evan Birnholz, crossword constructor for the Washington Post:
"For anyone who may have missed my earlier puzzles because they weren't available in Across Lite format, they can get all of them for a limited time. Between now and February 8, my first eight published Post puzzles will be available for download in Across Lite format at this link. After that point I'm deleting their folder, and they'll have only the previous four weeks' worth of puzzles as normal. So they'll need to download them soon if they want them."
Evan is doing a great job over there. In just the past month, I've had two Pulitzer-winning writers tell me how impressed they've been with his work. I'm not sure what their having Pulitzers has to do with their puzzle judgment, but I thought I'd just drop that factoid in there as if it meant something. I hope you enjoyed it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Easy and reasonably pleasant Sun.

Erasures: COaTS (they go in overhead bins) before COSTS and TWeed before TWILL.

Possible coin flip square but technically not a Natick: RANGO/OCTA. Got it only because RANGO sounded more badass than RoNGO.

Not awful, not great, a mild liked it more than Rex did.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

Maybe the puzzle should have been themed: 'Fractured Product Messages'?

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Had mixed feelings on this one. Got it done with no cheating which makes me happy, but I was on a limited time frame and didn't really have time to enjoy. Interesting theme, the only one that made me smile and say "cute" however was STORE IN A DRY PLACE. CONTAINS SMALL PARTS was pretty cute too. The rest, to me, was just sort of O .K.

BEN STILLER, rescuer of small dogs and my hero made me very happy too. Nice to see his full name.

John Child 1:35 AM  

The theme seems consistent to me: six things that might be on a product or the product's box: INTEL INSIDE is a sticker on many, many PCs, NO MONEY DOWN a common sign at the car lot, ASSEMBLY REQUIRED at the IKEA store, etc. But I wish there had been some wordplay with the answers: The clues here were the funny part...

The fill clues were hard, I thought, but fair. Once you see what the clue is driving at, the answer is obvious. That's fun.

Fun too, we hope, is this year's contest from George Barany and Friends. Two puzzles - one easier than the other. Solve either and answer the meta to be in the pool for some great prizes. In the vein of today's puzzle I'll add this message: OFFER EXPIRES February 8!

Questinia 1:49 AM  

Had RiNGO instead of RANGO and I was wRoNGO.

Otherwise, agree with the Professor.

da kine 3:07 AM  

The Washington Post crossword has been killing it every day but Evan's Sunday puzzle is a step above even that. The Buzzfeed crossword has also been killing it. It makes me wonder why I pay $40 a year to get the NYT. I think it's mainly so I can come on here and disagree violently half the time when Rex shits on one of the puzzles and then agree with him wholeheartedly the rest of the time he shits on one of the puzzles.

Chuck McGregor 4:11 AM  

I pulled several things out of my magic (@Blackstone yesterday) HAT today to get me going in different areas: SUIBC, DROSS, EL CID (never saw it), STOL. Stuff I didn’t know how I knew it.

A MOB of emus? Who knew? There are many strange and RAD names for groups of animals, but this one rates a “10.”

We’ve had various teams: A, B, and the outlier C the other day. Today I give to you: TEAM O.

In spite of the long themers, this puzzle felt like it CONTAINS a lot of SMALL PARTS.

There was much historical INTEL INSIDE: the ancients of Troy, the Bible, Greece, Rome, then on to LEO IV, CABOT, the MARNE, post WWII SUBIC, the Ruskies in space, NAM, INTEL, then passing through ELAINE, TINO, to HALLE, PETE, and STILLER.

I was thankful the proper names were mostly knowable, at least for me.

1967 -- My “Greetings from the President”: Congratulations!! You’re ONE A.

Got nothing ELSE.


'mericans in Venice 4:34 AM  

We guessed that @Rex would rate it Easy-Medium, which is what we felt it should be. Our solving experience -- apart from taking place over lunch in a wine bar in Venice -- was nearly identical. We were expecting some trick at first but finally cottoned on to the trick at 56A (CONTAINS SMALL PARTS).

Not much to add to what @Rex said. My favorite theme answers were NO MONEY DOWN (97A) and STORE IN A DRY PLACE (113A); the latter really made me chuckle for some reason.

Many usual suspects (DNA, RED, REI, SPA) among the three-letter words, but I smiled at CUD. I don't recall seeing that before.

SMUT is also a common fill word. For me, though, it evokes a different image: playing ultimate Frisbee. Back in the early 1980s I formed an ultimate team and we would play on grassy stretches of the Smithsonian Mall in Washington, D.C. When we started playing other teams, we had to come up with a name, and the Smithsonian Mall Ultimate Team seemed logical. It was only later that it dawned on us what its abbreviation spelled.

Speaking of abbreviations, if the type of aircraft is a short take-off and landing, why is the abbreviation STOL and not STaL?

Anonymous 4:56 AM  

Over easy, sunday side up. My only complaint was I could not type fast enough. But the less said about those wacky theme clue/answers the better.

Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  

Taking a phrase and repurposing it always pleases me. A fill-in-the-blank-firster, I started in the southeast and got STORE IN A DRY PLACE very early. I loved it. This ended up being by far my favorite themer. I liked BATTERY NOT INCLUDED, but, like Rex, I think "batteries" is more in the language.

I had a dnf because of the SUBIC/URI and OCTA/RANGO crosses. I should've just guessed on that A in OCTA; I just kept imagining that it could be and O or and I, though.

DROSS is a word I accepted only because something in the deep recesses of the crossword part of my brain told me it was ok. I guess in the blogosphere, we could call it "drek," right?

That part of my brain lied to me when I put in "tecal" for TEAMO. Was that clued for the cigar because of AMAT, and maybe AMOURS?

I resisted PROMOTER for a while because of the clue for TEASERS. And it took too long to see PRO for "ace," even though PROTECT was lurking right there.

That northeast gave me fits, even with LA LA in place. When I finally sorted it out, I felt silly. I think my biggest head slap moment was SEAT. I immediately was thinking "hall." Dumb, I know. At one point, I even considered "ount." (Hi, @M&A.) When I finally saw EARNER, I finally dispatched that area.

ASSIST crosses its clue, STAT. Cool.

I never remember STOL. It always looks like STOLi to me. Talk about your short takeoff and landing hazard for high heels.

I think "Frat Pack" is a new one for me. I like it, though. My first thought for the last name was "Affleck." I love Ben STILLER – hi, @chefwen.
What’s next? Tat Pack? (Beckham, Jolie-Pitt, Tyson, Bieber…) Chat Pack? (Oliver, Colbert, Kimmel, Conan, Fallon…) SPAT Pack? (Elton John/Madonna, Letterman/Leno, Cruise/Shields…)

I enjoyed this. Thanks, Yaakov!

Charles Flaster 6:57 AM  

EZ and enjoyed it more than Rex.
CrosswordEASE--T TOP, TER, and NADIR(although it was the clue).
Liked cluing for HALLE, ELDERLY, ONE A, and the entire extreme lower left , especially SABOTAGE.
Upon reading the puzzle's title I surmised it would be punny uses of the word "beware" but caught theme early at ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.
Thanks YB.
PS: still trying to complete puzzle from Saturday.

chefbea 7:13 AM  

Fun puzzle. got the theme at small parts...then I was off to the races. Finished it last night.

Hungry Mother 7:25 AM  

Had DOT instead of DST.

John Child 7:29 AM  

I've heard @Z comment about ultimate, and he's now joined by @Mericans. Hands up here too. My roomie and I started the Williams College team, WUFO. Still in business, and counting the intramural program and the club teams, by far the largest sport at the college.

@'Mexicans: We showed up at the first Fool's Fest at the Washington Monument in 1978 -- a day late. This song may explain that lapse...

George Barany 7:30 AM  

As pointed out, @Yaakov Bendavid's puzzle today has only six theme answers, but he manages to pull it off with a lower-than-usual (for a Sunday) word count. Despite the reservations enunciated by @Rex and others in the commentariat, I did get some good chuckles once the theme dawned on me. Like @Questinia and @Loren Muse Smith, I flubbed on OCTA crossing RANGO, and it didn't help that I wasn't sure on the ending vowel in spelling the crossing Italian dish.

@John Child has already posted about our metapuzzle contest, which has another week (and change) to go. Others on the project are @Ralph Bunker, @Michael Hanko, and @Roy Leban. I want to add that @John has created a delightful tribute puzzle called Steppin' Out, which honors an important person in the history of the New York Times crossword puzzle, on an auspicious anniversary this month (January 2016).

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

It's the would-be joke, but you can't get away with "that's" in that Berry clue IMO. What @Rex said about BSED. "Thanks for underlining the already obvious wordplay in the theme clues," says Sarcasmo.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:41 AM  

OK Sunday; agree with the looseness of the themers.

One w/o, proving my field of ignorance: 37 D, COSSEL >> COSTAS.

Happy just to be here, woke this morning to "no internet connection," now resolved but not explained, i.e., it's working but I don't have any idea why it stopped working overnight. Thanks, Verizon tech guy.

The Rhino 7:54 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle quite a bit, but - and don't tell that guy from yesterday - I had to cheat a little to win (SUBIC/BARRE/URI/CADDIE).

Z 8:24 AM  

LEO VI. And in the NW. 'Nuff said.

@'merican - We should form a GM cross puzzler team. I was watching old video of UPA Natties on the Mall from sometime in the 80's. Only a MAN'S MAN could wear those shorts today.

@da kine - Soooo, it's a diuretic for you...?

@LMS - I spell it to rhyme with wreck, not Shrek. Big difference. Now, where's my tweed?
How's about... Cat Pack? (Facebook Domination Group) Gat Pack? (The Purple Gang) Hat Pack? (Tweedy Pop Prescriptivists) Lat Pack? (Bally's Crew) Mat Pack? (Hulk Hogan and friends).

Gary A. Boreeng 8:26 AM  

Too many faux plurals. But I did like the crossing of ELDERLY and Fort MYERS.

I chuckled at INTELINSIDE even if (according to Rex) it is an outlier.

Glimmerglass 8:27 AM  

I'd like to add my vote against numbered popes. I got LEO VI off just the V. Roman numeral has to be VI; three letter pope is always LEO. Four-letter pope is always Pius. It shouldn't be that easy, except maybe on Monday.

David Krost 8:29 AM  

Absolutely nothing wrong with "Intel Inside". You don't think a slogan is also a message to buyers? Of course it is, the message being to only buy computers that have that sticker on them. There is no obligation or magical thematic consistency if some of the messages to buyers are slogans and some are common (more or less) phrases, unless you choose to over interpret the theme. Having said that, I agree that the puzzle needed a couple more theme answers.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

@mericans in Venice (4:34):

Pilots might prefer to avoid STALs whenever possible. :)

dick swart 8:48 AM  

It is possible to over-analyze six humorous clues and their familiar answers until all the fun goes out of them.

Fortunately, this is not my case. A fun Sun!

Arden 8:54 AM  

Too easy. Although I did not get the title chameleon and cross with octa which I thought was octo

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

@OFL is happily to let us know that he "knows" two Pulitzer winners.

Mohair Sam 9:33 AM  

Agree with @Rex totally today. Totally.

@Arden - Same comment, blew through this thing quickly but dnf'd on OCTo.

One thing -the TO SIR clue? I have written and received an incredible amount of formal letters in my lifetime and have never seen TO SIR except in the movie title. The movie titled specifically because of the odd and likely unused formality of the letter opening. Great flick, btw.

Teedmn 9:42 AM  

My solution was SABOTAGEd by the SW. STOL and MARNE were WOES for me. (For a minute, I thought STOL was an abbreviation for "STOLen", yuck). The very end of a pretty easy puzzle and I'm stuck! I panicked and hit the "check wrong letters" and sure enough, "sANdMAN" (I'm telling you, I panicked) was wrong. A few more seconds and MAN'S MAN emerged from my DNF fog and I was done.

@LMS, I also considered "ount" at 15A a la Runt puzzles, but didn't think it would make it past the NY Times editors. I liked seeing things like STATIC as clued, ADAMANCY, DEADPAN. For some reason, the clue for FLANK made me think of Douglas Adams' "Restaurant at the End of the Universe" where the specially bred 'cow' is inviting the restaurant patrons to consider the different parts of it for their dining pleasure. No Chianti or fava beans included.

I don't remember ever seeing the alternative to a silk purse, a SOW'S EAR, in a puzzle. And while I agree with @Rex about some of the themers not quite on the mark, they were clever enough for me to consider that as not a LOW POINT. 113A was definitely the best so I'm glad it was the last one, an ANTI-nadir.

Thanks, YB

Roo Monster 9:44 AM  

Hey All !
Actually needed title of puz to get me going on the themers! Then messed up ASSEMBLY REQUIRED by having riu for URI and misplacing the Q, thereby thinking REQUIRED wouldn't fit. So, wanted ASSEMBLY is needed, which tool a bit to sort through. But managed to get it all to come together. Messed up center, as TEAMO as clued was a WOE. ADAMANCY is something you hardly ever see, so missed that. Ended up with my own version in the center: BSEs-REINAl-AsAMiNCY-lAgOANS-TEigO. Lago is somewhere by Fiji, right?

A fair drek amount, although the NE and SW corners were nice. HUMANS clue was cool. RHEA again, never see that word, now twice in a week! Agree with the ___Pack oddness like @LMS. Next will be Ass Pack?


Two PUTs, ANTI ANTE, PROs as @Loren pointed out. Some other oddness, just sayin. :-)


Maruchka 9:47 AM  

Well, finished, anyway. Done.

Fav of the day - SMUT. One point of view, from Tom Lehrer:

I've never quibbled if it was ribald.
I would devour where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day he acquitted my Aunt Hortense:
"To be SMUT it must be utterly without redeeming social importance"..

Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaHDBL7dVgs

kitshef 9:50 AM  

Really liked it, and in particular liked the themers. They are as a group humorous and original, and I don't care if there are minor inconsistencies or subtleties in the phrasing.

SUBIC was a WoE, and almost unfairly crossed with URI, but once the RI is in place what the U is inferrable.

And oh, how I wish that SETSAT/TOSIR section had been reworked. An "ATxxx" answer crossing a "xxxxAT" answer and a"TOxxx" answer crossing a "xxxTO" answer. Indeed, the only one-word answers in that entire section are the atrocious TER and the description for the whole section, DROSS.

GILL I. 9:58 AM  

This felt like such a serious workmanlike puzzle. It wasn't really much fun and I like to get excited on a Sunday. I can't find one chuckle here.
TE AMO is a Mexican cigar? Well, I'll, Be! At least there's no YO.

Hartley70 10:01 AM  

This was mildly amusing and the difficulty level was mostly easy until I arrived at the tiny NE corner. I tried "dodger" and "evader" for the IRS, "ount" for County center. LALA was my favorite answer. I struggled mightily until I got bored and took a DNF. On a sunny Sunday my time is limited. Seeing the completed puzzle I can't understand what my problem was. Brain freeze, I guess.

Carola 10:03 AM  

This one was more work than play for me. Plugging along, when I got to ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, I was reminded of another "will I ever be done with this?" experience, on a Christmas Eve decades ago, staying up into the cold, wee hours putting together a Star Wars AT-AT, with its innumerable SMALL PARTS. I just wanted to be finished.

kozmikvoid 10:09 AM  

Agree with Rex. I probably like the themers a bit more than he, but INTELINSIDE is a stretch. I get that the theme is nothing more than message to buyers, and Intel Inside is a message to the buyer so it technically fits the bill. But it's certainly not as common as the others. Yes, it is on virtually every non-Apple computer. But it is not seen on any other consumer good, so unless you're buying a computer, you're not going to see that message. The others are much more commonplace.

All that being said, I didn't mind the fill as much as Rex. There was enough in there to keep this enjoyable. EARNER, MANSMAN, GOATEE, DEADPAN were all clued nicely. And any puzzle with a Seinfeld reference will need to really suck to make me forget it was there. So all-in-all a pleasurable solve.

AliasZ 10:27 AM  

The OCTO|RONGO or OCTI|RINGO crossing was a travesty, enough to sour my mood however clever and ingenious the rest of the puzzle was. Which it wasn't. Also, SUBIC|URI could've been made less naticky by cluing URI as Geller, I saw no point in replacing him with initials.

I never saw STORE IN A DRY PLACE without COOL.

The fill for the most part was excellent, especially in the center. I BSED my way through most of it without much resistance.

LEOVI -- leave it.
The nearer your destination, the more you’re slip SLIDIN’ away.

Like I am doing now.

Ryan 10:28 AM  

Got the theme early with STORE IN A DRY PLACE, and the other theme answers fell quickly. Had everything but the SW corner complete, and I stared at it for far too long, at which point I caved and used Le Google. Le sigh.

Agree with Rex on the light and slightly-off theme answers. I noticed that BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED and SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, the more common versions, are both 20 letters. "Quorum?" would have made for a fun clue for the latter.

Mohair Sam 10:36 AM  

Hoping @Rex will moderate my previous post to the trash. I'm a klutz. Banning myself this time for two weeks.

Steve M 11:12 AM  

Easy and meh fill

GILL I. 11:35 AM  

Please forgive me for using this blog to tell Evan B that I think his puzzles are fantastic. (I don't have your e-mail, Evan, but I hope you read this)...Anyway, I so wish your "Extended Animal Family" (I just finished it now) had appeared in the NYT on a Sunday. So much fun and just what the Sunday Doc orders. Congratulations....!
P.S. I ain't no Pulitzer but I know a fun PUNzzle when I see it.!

Tita 11:44 AM  

@da kine - pretty funny take on why you pay the $40...

Singular BATTERY is fine - any product that takes only one battery would stamp that on the package.

I've been on a RISOTTO-making kick for a few weeks. I brought home several varieties when I was working for an Italian company - Carnaroli and Vialone Nano, mostly. The "oh just cook it like regular rice - it comes out the same" PROMOTERS, as a big part of why I love RISOTTO is the process. Standing over the oven, with a glass of wine...friends always congregate in our kitchen anyway, so I'm not missing out on the conversation..
(@'mericans - have you seen Vialone nano on the menus? It's a specialty if the Veneto.)

DNFd on RiNGO/OCTi. OCTi- is a thing. Having to do with eight. Really.

KPS - another candidate for Worst PoC Ever.

This was a fine, if unmemorable Sunday theme. The themers were (mostly) easy to get, which meant I could fill on most of them without many crosses, so made the puzzle pretty easy. (In the context of the afore-mentioned dnf...)

@George B/@JohnC - thanks for the reminder - I hope to try the contest.

archaeoprof 11:48 AM  

Add my name to the list of Octa Rango's victims.
And for awhile I tried to put COaTS in the overhead...

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Admitting I heretofore always understood the SOW'S EAR impossibility to be an elliptical reworking of the biblical (NT) injunction against pearl tossing, a silk purse seeming to me to be an appropriate pearl receptacle whereas the aforementioned.... Oh, the perils of autodidacticism!

Bob Kerfuffle 12:10 PM  

Off topic, but . . .

If you are not already a subscriber, you should follow this link to Hayley Gold's Across and Down website for a great cartoon related to last Thursday's puzzle. Total spoilers, of course, so don't look if you haven't done it.

But if you like it, why not subscribe? (It's free.) (Bottom right, below the comic.)

These comics are always amusing, but I found this one special. Appreciate the detail!

jberg 12:27 PM  

@Loren, good catch noticing all those Latin lovers running around in the puzzle -- I hadn't noticed that. I also failed to notice that I'd left a blank space in 6A, for which I had H_mS. I was going to put in HemS, figuring that eMY was an obscure proper name -- I don't think I would ever have realized that it was TARS, not mARS, though.

I wanted OUNT as well. I wrote in SEAT, but immediately thought it was wrong -- thank God for the SF EXAMINER, or I'd have changed it. And me too for going with OCTi/RiNGO -- I don't know that chameleon.

The hardest part for me was confidently throwing in NOthing DOWN. Since it was confirmed by several crosses, I would have been really stuck, but finally yielded to the inevitability of E'EN.

I guess if you sell a product that needs only one AA cell, you should say BATTERY NOT INCLUDED, so I accepted that. I'm still having trouble accepting CADDIE, though, rather than CADDy. Apparently the first carries golf clubs, the second holds tea -- something I have failed to notice for 72 years. Crosswords are so educational!

Andrew Heinegg 12:44 PM  

I am in agreement with RP as to the message to buyers. Either you are making wordplay about actual messages to buyers like the (missing some) assembly required (by far the best of the theme answers) or on ads for a product. No money down might be the worst of the theme answers. But, the biggest issue I have with the puzzle is the vanilla blandness of it all. It has not enough snap to it. However, it is a decent effort and nowhere near the bottom of the list of puzzles in the NYT.

Nancy 12:50 PM  

Did this easy, meh puzzle on the changeovers of the re-broadcast of the men's Australian final. (It's taped, so the changeovers are very long.) As Hartley says (from her perch in CT), the sun's out -- and it's calling to me in NYC, too. If this match isn't over at the end of this set, I'll go out anyway. I found the puzzle a truly disappointing Sunday, especially since we've had so many good Sunday puzzles recently. Even if I were a DIYer, I still wouldn't have thought much of it. Incidentally, my clues for the answers ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, INTEL INSIDE, and CONTAINS SMALL PARTS would have been a choice between: "I'm calling my handyman" and "I'm sending it back."

old timer 12:55 PM  

DNF for me. I had octo and rango, and just could not get KEYS/YAPS.

Caught on to the theme at BATTERY NOT INCLUDED, and the rest was fairly easy. Every last one of those phrases is something you might see either in an ad or on a box, and us therefore a "message to buyers", including the once ubiquitous INTEL INSIDE.

I live in a county SEAT so that was easy. Actually, all county SEATs are easy for me. My favorite pub quiz matching round was one where we had to match cities like Cleveland or Detroit with the counties they aere the SEAT of. I probably spent way too much time staring at our Rand McNally atlas as a child, because I knew them all.

Gotta say, the San Francisco EXAMINER is a shadow of its former self. Not sold in stores, not sold anywhere, basically a 12-page free tabloid distributed mainly in what they call The City. They probably maker more money from their website than from printed ads.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Agree with John Child; early on I formulated the theme in my brain as "phrases you might see on a box" which works except for "no money down". JC puts it more as "phrases you might see on things you buy" which is more encompassing.
Liked it overall.

Hugh 1:22 PM  

I needed a fairly straightforward Sunday this week after the workouts of the past month or so (though I had enjoyed the challenges). This one fit the bill, maybe a bit TOO straightforward but had some fun with it nonetheless.

Got NO MONEY DOWN with no letters at all and then most of the themers fell. The entire North, however, eluded me until the very end - somehow EMUS started it off for me. Took forever to get INTEL INSIDE, that was the last to go.

I too am not a fan of Roman numerals in a grid but I had the crosses to get LEOVI - so a non issue for me here.

Had SALES PEEPS for a while before I realized it was SALES REPS.

Could not get AT SEA for "Bewildered" but after coming here, I like the clueing.

TO SIR - eh, but had the crosses so no harm no foul.

I also just like the word "BANDOLERO", so I was glad to see it.

Agree with Rex -some of the themers are bit of a stretch but it didn't bother me very much (Yes, it's usually "BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, "STORE IN A COOL DRY PLACE" and SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED" but I wasn't thrown too much by it)

Nothing stood out as terribly memorable but I enjoyed the theme and the grid - also agree with Rex that the middle was pretty impressive - a lot of white space to get through and I didn't mind TEAMO too much.

All in all, a pleasant enough Sunday for me.

Have a great week all. Snow is beginning to melt in New Jersery!

Marcus Welby 1:44 PM  

My wife is an M.D. and she tells me some older docs still use abbreviations like "TER" when they write out scripts.

Masked and Anonymo8Us 1:49 PM  

This David dude has had six NYTPuzs -- all Sundays? What possesses someone to make all these weird-sized puzs?! Confuses the M&A.

"Country center" = OUNT? har. U are steadily crossin over to the dark side, darklin. I had similar, unexplicable problems with the NE cornerlette. All easy words, so mostly tricky clues, perhaps?

Fun, easy to battle SunPuz. Thanx. Needed it, cuz real expert was on the phone all mornin.


**voodoo gruntz**

quilter1 2:04 PM  

Started at breakfast and finished over lunch after a busy morning, but, as I remarked before I left, this is so easy but I don't have time to finish now. It was easy. Even the stuff I didn't know came with crosses, but that wasn't much. I enjoyed the humor. Thanks, YB.

Music Man 2:28 PM  

I'm surprised there isn't a bigger stir about BATTERY NOT INCLUDED. Give it the Google test. Even if you "-movie" and "-album". The phrase still only gives you nothing but "batteries" results.

puzzle hoarder 2:34 PM  

At first I was agreeing with @Rex on 34A being an outlier. After a little more reflection I realized that anything beyond a product's name could in a broad sense be considered a message. Add agencies are paid a lot of money to come up with messages like "Coke Is It". That's probably more thinking about the theme than I gave it while solving. I mostly followed the path of least resistance through the non theme material. The fill helped with the themes more than the reverse. Mostly the fill was easy. My only slip up was OCTO. That cartoon character's name may be the only thing I come away with from this puzzle. I don't mean that as a criticism. The puzzle was well made for what it is. I just tend to dislike Sunday puzzles because they're usually big and soft. They take a lot of time while rarely pushing your limits.
@Rex I got the hummingbird card. You're quite welcome. It's hit or miss with the entries. Mostly they're getting through.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Disagree strongly on INTEL INSIDE: it IS a message to buyers! For example, I am using a Toshiba laptop, on which there is a sticker that says "Intel Inside"---I would not know for sure it had an Intel processor were it not for that, short of opening it up. So telling me "Intel Inside" on an otherwise branded product is a useful message.

Z 3:32 PM  

@anon9:17 - Jealous much? Me, I presume that pulitzer prize winners are the kind of people who would do crosswords and might even follow a crossword blog when they aren't off doing pulitzery things. Or maybe they are close and dear friends of OFL. Whatever.

Evan 3:53 PM  

Thanks for the compliments, Rex, commenters, Pulitzer Prize winners.

@Gill I:

Actually, my WaPo puzzles would probably never have been accepted at the NYT just because of the word count. Mine regularly have 144 answers, sometimes 146 if things got really constrained. The NYT's maximum is 140 for a Sunday, though sometimes they've accepted higher word counts if the puzzle's theme were ambitious enough.

Indypuzzler 3:55 PM  

The puzzle was in the "just fine" category for me and I pretty much sailed through except for the southwest corner and I can't even pinpoint what the problem was except maybe I was thinking "houses" as "contains" at first.
As for Intel Inside, at first I was totally on the @John Child's bandwagon, then thought well....it's a bit of an outlier but Rex is picking nits to going his way after the Google. Apparently Intel started out with the slogan "Intel Inside", changed it to "Sponsors for Tomorrow"[?], and now it's "Look Inside". All the various core processor makers, graphics cards, etc names still figure prominently on the stickers affixed to PCs.
Mine currently does not have Intel Inside or inside but does have AMD. Yes. It was cheap! Anyway...I'm with Rex. Intel Inside is the company slogan. It masqueraded as "helpful info" or instructions to the consumer!

OISK 5:29 PM  

The Rango cross was just bad, since octo, octi, and octa could all have been correct. I rejected Ringo, because it could so easily be clued alternatively, and went for Rango. I could just as easily have gone rongo though. Other than this, crossing an obscure pop culture name with an ambiguity, BAD! ...I enjoyed this quite clever Sunday puzzle.

Corky Miller 5:35 PM  

The answer to 116A "Stress, it's said" is AGER?
AGES maybe. That one stumped me even though bandolero couldn't have an s.

Cassieopia 5:42 PM  

I so very much wanted COWS as the solution to "they're not tipped very much these days" that it took me forever to finish the upper half. HATS was so much more pedestrian.

Chronic dnfer 6:15 PM  

I don't get hens for chick magnets. I put in hefs. Dnfed for other various and sundry screw ups.

Z 7:30 PM  

Apple has been using Intel chips for nearly ten years. Of course, no INTEL INSIDE sticker has ever graced an iMac as it left the factory. This lack of advertising hasn't seemed to hurt.

Leapfinger 7:37 AM  

It's a marketing and selling point: the implication being that if there's INTEL INSIDE the computer, there's INTEL INSIDE the user.

Lobster11 5:49 PM  

I was traveling Sunday and didn't get to this until late Monday afternoon. I'm so late that this might not even get posted, and even if it does nobody will read it. But just in case....

This was (yet) another Sunday that I didn't bother to finish because I got bored. Theme had some problems, as Rex pointed out, but I'm okay with almost any theme as long as sussing it out then actually contributes to the rest of the solve, which it did. But then, once I nailed all the themers, the rest just wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention. Cluing seemed unusually straightforward, with not enough amusing wordplay (for my tastes). Or maybe I just don't have the enthusiasm today after returning from a long trip that was -- with all due respect to my fellow crossword-lovers -- way more fun that doing a crossword puzzle.

spacecraft 11:09 AM  

Hand up (e pluribus unum, I'm sure) for TWeed before TWILL. And the singular BATTERYNOTINCLUDED also threw me. The plural film, starring that wonderful acting couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, is a heartwarming treasure.

I like the whimsical pairing of the long downs: SALESREPS/BANDOLERO. Not making any accusations; just sayin'...

This was OK. Easy except for the center section--I was not familiar with ADAMANCY. Adamant, of course, but not the noun form. Vaguely aware of CAPER as some sort of food, but couldn't get it from pickled garnish. Finally took a flyer and hoped that Samoa was somewhere near Fiji (very poor in geography). It worked out.

Ended in the same square as OFL. _TOL to me could be any of the 26. I actually had to run the alphabet to come up with MANSMAN (when I hit it: DUH!). Nowadays that expression might mean anything BUT a masculine icon! Again, just sayin'...

I'd better take a TIMEOUT; SB L is only a few hours away. Heck, I may even watch a little of it. [Peyton, you're going down.] C+.

Burma Shave 12:52 PM  


As it SNOWS one rainy TIMEOUT on the town,
just EXAMINER, don’t see the COSTAS a disgrace!”

“If she MEETS your NEEDS to MATE as you expect,
the COST’S IDEAL, so don’t EVER skimp!”
But ANTE AMY is ELDERLY, and I don’t EARNER respect.


BSED my way through this one

AnonymousPVX 2:15 PM  

I thought this a solid "medium" in difficulty. Hated the RANGO/OCTA natik.

rain forest 2:21 PM  

Well, I found this easy and enjoyable. There might have been a lot of 'ese, but it didn't bother me, and as for the themers:

When I bought my wireless mouse, it actually said on the box, "BATTERY NOT INCLUDED".

At the last school where I was the principal, I would frequently get notes from students with the salutation, "TO SIR".

If you are instructed to store in a cool, dry place, at least make it dry.

So there! Anyway, I am the anti-picker of nits, but if that stirs your drink, stir away I say.

My computer has a sticker that says "INTEL INSIDE", and I just hope that there is a semblance of intel on the keyboard.
I'm with you @Spacey re the SB. I always say that I may not watch it, but I almost always do, and today, PM isn't going to finish the game.

rondo 2:51 PM  

Don’t see what problem OFL has with INTELINSIDE, it’s certainly a message to a buyer, which is the theme here. Thought the desert market was the “funniest” of the bunch. Har.

Some years back for Christmas presents at work I gave each of my co-workers a 4 BATTERY pack of AAs with a note attached inside – “Toy NOT INCLUDED”. Double har.

Any MANSMAN would name HALLE Berry as yeah baby of the day today. I know I do. That’s one IDEAL STAR. I’d let her sit on my LAPP.

BTW, SPUTNIK is Russian for “satellite”, not only as in outer space, but also as in following, or even attached to, the main subject. Example: HALLE Berry was walking down Rodeo Drive with her new SPUTNIK @rondo, who could not take his eyes off her.

I’ve got my BS tribute limerick rolling through my head. Hope to not forget it. Today’s puz was decent enough, considering my general dislike of a Thurs- and Sun-puz.

D. Bruce Brown 4:53 PM  

A lawyer?! Please, Stitch, nothing is MORE of a message to buyers than a logo.

Wooody2004 6:18 PM  

Greetings from Seattle!
I nearly finished this SunPuz, which would have been a first for me, but I couldn't suds out Man's Man. I was also wrong-o on 79D. I had Rongo crossing Octo. I elected not to use one of my lifelines (IMDb). I also had Affleck for 70A for the longest time, thinking he and Matt Damon were Frat Brothers because of Good Will Hunting.
We're Super Bowl-less in Seattle this year. I feel like I must SITOUT SB50 since I have NOMONEYDOWN on either team.
At least PETE Carroll (coach of the Seahawks) got a shoutout in today's puzzle. Also former Mariner TINO Martinez. BTW, REI was founded in Seattle.

Diana,LIW 6:36 PM  

Well what a mob of EMUS! Who knew?

DNF - plain and simple, way before I found the RANGO/OCTA Natick.

And yet...I enjoyed the "solve." Liked the themers. Good Sunday fun.

Did anyone see the Prius pre-SB ad? Heck on wheels - har

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 3:32 AM  

Very full day. Stayed up late to do this one. Tired, but thought I nailed it. But....

Guess where I was Naticked. (Hint: the words begin with an O and an R.)

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