Malicious computer programs / SUN 1-3-16 / Alternative to Facebook Messenger / Pre-curve figure / Blues musician known as Sleepy John / Rathskeller decoration

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Constructor: David Woolf

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Record of the Year" — a rebus puzzle with three-letter abbrs. of each month, appearing in order, each in its own square, one in each section of the grid
Word of the Day: SEPHORA (79D: Big lipstick seller) —
Sephora is a French brand and chain of cosmetics stores founded in 1970. [...] On November 18/2014, a lawsuit was filed against Sephora alleging that they discriminated against Asian customers based on stereotypes that all Asian customers abuse discounts to engage in bulk purchasing for re-sale. [...] Sephora currently operates over 360 stores across North America. Featuring more than 200 brands, along with its own private label, Sephora offers beauty products including makeup, skincare, body, fragrance, color, and haircare. (wikipedia)
Notable crosswordese:
  • UNS (32D: Young ___)
  • EPEE (64A: Cousin of a foil)
  • ULNAS (73D: Ones up in arms?)
  • SSRS (116D: They were wiped off the map in '91)
  • EPODE (105D: Horatian work)
  • IMARET (17D: Turkish inn) (man, knowing this helped today...)
  • IMACS (7D: Some desktops)
  • ESTES (127A: Blues musician known as Sleepy John) (new one today, to me)
  • EKGS (113D: Hosp. readouts)
  • DAE (118D: Daniel ___ Kim, "Hawaii Five-O" actor)
  • AMÉLIE (23A: 2001 foreign film with five Oscar nominations)
Notable recent popular culture:
  • GOTYE (40D: Singer with the 2012 #1 hit "Somebody That I Used to Know")
  • GCHAT (40A: Alternative to Facebook Messenger)

• • •

On the one hand, hurray for a Sunday that made me work a little. I got the theme pretty early, but even knowing what was coming, I still had to fight in each section to find the three-letter month abbr. This puzzle was like 12 mini puzzles, which has the virtue of novelty, if nothing else. I enjoyed the workout, but it was a bit weird / anticlimactic to know, very early on, exactly what was going to go down in each section of the grid. After uncovering my first month, the only real Surprises left involved finding the precise square for each rebus. But you knew what you were looking for and you knew where to look, every time. And there are no other calendar-related answers, so the whole thing plays a bit like a themeless, actually. The fill gets quite iffy in places, but for the most part it holds up, and the rebus answers are often delightfully creative. SOTOMAYOR! CARL JUNG! Fun stuff.

I could've done without STRS, RESAW, three-R'd BRRR, ONRICE, and the terribly absurd ONEK (who runs ONE Ks?). The themers, though, I really liked, on the whole. They taught me a couple of new things. I still don't have all the world capitals memorized. Honestly, I probably haven't heard of a couple couple dozen of them, at least, and BANJUL is certainly one of those. Thank god for JULEPS ... seriously, thank you, God, for JULEPS, they are delicious. Also, they saved me from crashing on the shoals of BANJUL. Does BANJUL have shoals? Possibly. It is coastal. Holy moses, have you seen Gambia on a map? First, it's *The* Gambia, thankyouverymuch. Second of all, it is of an amazingly eely shape, essentially following from the Atlantic back along the contours of the Gambia (!) River, surrounded on all sides by Senegal, until it reaches a place called "unnamed elevation" (on the map I'm looking at).

If the only thing I remember about today's puzzle is the location and insane shape of (The) Gambia, it will have been worth it. I also didn't know SEPHORA. I mean, looking at pictures of its storefronts, I realized I probably *have* seen those stores around, but not so that I'd remember.

I am all of a sudden having visions of people crashing and burning at the GCHAT / GOTYE crossing. No real reason you should know GOTYE, honestly, and _CHAT seems like it could be Lots o' things. Oh well. Happy continued New Year.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. if you have time for another puzzle today, or want to print one out and save it for when you *do* have time, please check out Patrick Blindauer's latest free puzzle, inspired by his new baby daughter (just go to "Play" in the top menu of his site). It's pretty magical, and not (only) for sentimental reasons.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 12:21 AM  

The Gambia is smaller than Conecticut and has the same number of people as metro Indianapolis. So, yes, thank you JULEPS.

DECOCT sounds painful. Almost as painful as doing 12 mini-puzzles.

@Ludyjynn - I always get those two mixed up. I did watch Cybill, mostly because I thought Zooey was really cute. Never watched Moonlighting.

jae 12:23 AM  

Medium-tough for me too for the reasons Rex covered. Pretty impressive construction. Nothing really edgy, just a very solid Sun. Caught what was going on with FEBRILE, but it still took some work as the rebus placements weren't easily predictable. Liked it.

@Rex - I technically DNF on the GCHAT/ GOTYE cross. I happened to be on the phone with my daughter and mentioned the GOTYE clue and she knew the answer. Otherwise I might have gone with iCHAT which once was a thing.

Martín Abresch 12:27 AM  

My partner and I solved this together, and we had a hearty laugh at SOTOMAYOR. I am a night owl, and I <3 clues that use a fun quotation. Today's was top drawer: "I am a New Yorker, and 7 a.m. is a civilized hour to finish the day, not to start it." By the way, my night owl tendencies once led me to work the graveyard shift at a gas station: I actually CLERKED at MINI MART.

LIBIDO above CARL JUNG was nice. (And what would Carl have had to say had he written ON [ANNE] RICE?) Wonderful contrast between February's crossers, LIFEBLOOD and FEBRILE. I also enjoyed dreaming of springtime with CAPRIS and APRICOT orchards.

The southwest was the toughest section. Neither my partner nor I knew neither BANJUL, though I did know that Gambia was a tiny, skinny country surrounded by Suriname. We did not know what a Rathskeller (or Ratskeller) was, so answering BEER STEIN required crosses. We were unsure whether 117-Across would be PEEPED or PEERED or PEEKED, and I am lucky that my partner knew DECOCT. Neither of us knew the ugly MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price).

All in all, we had a lot of fun solving these 12 mini puzzles.

kozmikvoid 12:29 AM  

This was enjoyable enough. Agree with the 12 mini-puzzle comment from Rex. There were some clues I really liked but going back through the grid I can't remember which ones. This was as close to a DNF as I've come in the past 3 weeks because of that GOTYE answer. I *knew* SOTOMAYOR but was convinced it was SOTOMAYaR and that kanYE was the singer. Then iCHAT made sense which resulted in the world un-renowned ionYE. I finally asked the Mrs. if she knew who sang that song, and she delightfully said "Of course I do," walked over to the CD player, and threw me her GOTYE CD (apparently pronounced GO-tee-AY). Wife to the rescue on a Sunday, yet again.

Diana,LIW 12:30 AM  

AAArh - did this already post??? If so, so sorry!

Diana, LIW

Humbled. That's what I am by the response to my New Year's Eve (and Thanksgiving in Syndieland) post re: current vs. old culture. (Lookin' at you Nancy, JimF, Tita, Oisk, Anon, Chuck McG, Chaos, leftcoast, longbeachlee et. al.) Thanks all, pro and con. What I love about this blog is the variety of opins, and the never-ending surprising reactions to clues and puzzle difficulties.

I began doing the NYT Sunday puz in the Will Weng era, (the 70's), but after a few years my life simply EXPLODED. I'm not complaining. I retired from the best job EVER, along with teaching part-time and finishing my Ed.D. commuting once a month to Chicago in 2005. About two years ago I happened to glance at a NYTP and knew a couple of answers. Three minutes after filling a few answers in I was hopelessly hooked. Whilst I found myself back in CrossWorld pre-school, I have managed to work myself up to third grade or so, thanks in no small part to reading this blog daily. In pre-school I barely knew my Asta from my Oslo, and had my Epee tucked away in a darling Etui. Now I am firmly schooled in crosswordese. Whee! (Or is that wee, tiny, a smidge, itty bitty, small, or iota?)

I solve on paper. Even now, away from my home in Lake Spobegone (motto: Near Nature, Near Perfect. You may gag now, but I'm not making that up: )

I solve my hometown's online version on graph paper, while I make up the grid. I'm extremely good about making the black squares. ;-)

Just wanted to comment that I'm not AT ALL against current pop culture clues/answers. But, as JimF put it so well, they need to be "future classics" - ideas, people, or phrases that will stand the test of time. Think about it. How many of us were watching The Thin Man on NY eve vs. the hundreds of other options. Why? It's a classic. Like "Et tu Brute?" and "Am I my brother's keeper?" or "Frankly my dear, I don't give...." simply last and last. others said, they need to used judiciously. If a puzzle asked you to fill in the middle names of all our bloggers, well...we'd just be disgruntled.

Speaking of disgruntled, I'll finish with that fantastic word. Isn't it? I mean dis grunt led. Some words just make you happy.

Diana, Lady in Waiting of CrossWorld

PS - No, I'm not waiting for a little one - just the puzzes. We have two Burmese kitty kiddies who round out our family.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

A paean to dysgraphia, that's what this puzzle is, and what a way to start out the new year! All of those who can't write on a straight line can now take solace, we've achieved implicit approval from the NYTimes!

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

RESAWing is a real thing, RESAW is an actual woodworking term, though it bears no resemblance to the clue. You RESAW thin pieces of wood, or veneer, from a thick piece. So, why clue it as if it were recarve, when it's a real thing? Clue it as "cut veneer" or "make veneer" and you have an accurate clue for a real thing.

George Barany 4:25 AM  

Our hypothetical extraterrestrial visitor, still trying to make sense of the world based on inspections of all three New York Times crossword offerings of 2016, continues to justifiably conclude that they are all written by young men named David. With today's Sunday rebus, his tenth published puzzle in just a shade over two years, the creative @David Woolf reaches "the cycle," i.e., having hit every day of the week. Congratulations!

I can keep my own remarks quite brief, since my experiences so closely mirror what @Rex has described. GOTYE huh? Not just the G, but also the exact spelling of the Justice's name, and the crossing with PASH?O.

DECOCT is another word not exactly in my working vocabulary, though it has been used previously by such great constructors as @Manny Nosowsky, @Patrick Berry, and @Tim Croce. The @Shortz-era debut DIETITIAN was fun to see, since a recent puzzle with @Steve Bachman went with the variant DIETICIAN spelling.

Thanks, @Rex, for the bonus tip to @Patrick Blindauer's January puzzle. Mazel tov to the new addition to the family! And if any one has energy for yet another puzzle by a David, may I suggest the rather easy Of Course, with @David Hanson. Might be just the ticket during half-time of tonight's prime-time Vikings-Packers matchup, and then back to our offices, classrooms, and laboratories tomorrow!

David B 6:28 AM  

The G in Gchat/Gotye was a Natick to me as I confidently filled in Ichat, then googled the song when Iotye didn't seem right. As a septuagenarian I may be too old for some puzzles.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:48 AM  

Bravo! Great puzzle to start a year of Sundays!

One w/o: 82 D, CENTS >> CERTS.

Of course, this geezer never heard of 40 D, GOTYE, but it filled in nicely from crosses. Had to look up on Google, post-solve. Let's see, he won several awards. But, oh, yeah, we all remember what happened when Homer Simpson won one of those.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

@rex -- GCHAT/GOTYE a pure guess.

I felt like this was the third easy-for-the-day puzzle in a row, or has the new year made me smarter? No, I guess my wavelength has been aligned with the constructors' for this brief stint. But I'll take it.

Loved the clues for AMP, OBIT, CROSSBAR, PARENT, and CAUGHT, and the answers ASPIRATE, VEERSOFF, and MINIMART. I realized that ETATS is "state" backward and liked seeing TOWEL down. LIBIDO crossing BRRR doesn't seem like a good combination, and TAKENUP crossing REUNITED sounds... heavenly? I would have preferred the months randomly ordered to add a level of challenge; on the other hand, the fill was mostly clean.

Got my brain fix, and left this puzzle with a good feeling.

big steve46 7:29 AM  

Gee whiz! Like the Unitarian at his funeral, "all dressed up and no place to go," I have nothing original or interesting to say or any purpose of being here. But that doesn't seem to stop most of the posters on this site. So why not me?

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Ugh. Gave up after 15 minutes.

chefbea 7:45 AM  

Too tough for me. Figured out that the months were abbreviated and got some of them. Couldn't figure out where each one was. It's a new year and a new puzzle!!

Loren Muse Smith 8:10 AM  

Aw man, I totally missed that this grid was divided into twelve little months. Neat!

Like Rex, I got the trick right out of the gate with PASHTO (tried Farsi first, probably like scads of us), OSLO, and then SOTOMAYOR. And I agree that the entries with the rebus squares were, as Rex said, delightfully creative. My favorite was LIFE BLOOD. So much colorfuller than "life boats."

@Z - I've probably put it in grid before with the help of crosses, but DECOCT sure looks weird. Insert Lorena Bobbitt joke here.

Cool observation – for "emanation from a pen" I was going for INK. Oops. Just add an O for OINK.

I also learned the word "concupiscence," apparently not a WELCOME SIN in some doctrines.

Poor Jane lost a bit of her innocence
When she admired his pocket's magnificence
For what she laid eyes on
Was not a big DAIKON
But in fact his conspicuous concupiscence.

All in all, what @Bob said. Bravo!

OldCarFudd 8:36 AM  

The clue was "rear" and I had PA---T. I chortled, and asked myself whether the NYT had become that edgy in the new year. Alas, it had not. Happy New Year, Horace S!

Maruchka 9:03 AM  

An odd mix of the smooth and the slog. Smolog. So, cheats along the way, esp. NE and SW. Liked the DEC(OCT)/D(OCT)RINE cross. It's back to CAL for me!

Fav of the day - SOTO(MAY)OR quote. Ah, tiptoeing home to fall asleep at quarter to six. There's a special NYC quiet in the early a.m. Now, I experience it from the just waking up side.

Gabey Groaner 9:24 AM  

This was the best Sunday puzzle for me in quite some time. I often feel like the Sundays are just a slog, and I sometimes feel like I don't even care to finish them (even though I always do.) This puzzle kept me engaged and interested, even though, like @Rex, I was at first disappointed to suss out the theme so early in the solve.

Crashed and burned on Gotye/Gchat. Never heard of either one. But decoct was a gimme and the quote from Sotomayor was fab.

This time of year is very productive for me since I hate both football and parades, so it allows me to catch up on chores which I have left undone for far too long.

Hungry Mother 9:42 AM  

It would have been a nice Sunday solve without that "G".

AliasZ 9:52 AM  

Twelve tiny puzzles for the price of one: great bargain. Other than that, fun calendar puzzle today by David Woolf. I wolfed this baby down without much trouble -- until I got to square 40, that is. So officially it's a DNF, because I consider running through my keyboard, from QWERTY.... through ....ASDFG, cheating. MERCI for that.

-- SL[AUG]HTER was a LAUGHER at first, because it fit.
-- DECOCT could have been used as both a December and October rebus.
-- John Bobbitt was DECOCT, yet CASANOVA was not. Does that make any sense?
-- CASANOVA is Neuhaus in German, and the best Belgian chocolatiers out there.
-- They sell TRO[JAN]S in MINI[MAR]Ts, don't they?
-- New word of the day: DAIKONS. Is it dye-con, day-con or d-Con?
-- With IMACS and IPAD already in the grid, ICHAT was perfectly logical. No such luck.
-- BANJUL sounds like an Italian curse phrase: Va banjul!

This was good fun. Thank you David -- but a demerit for the G in square 40.

What would the New Year be without the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, conducted by Leonard BEERSTEIN?

Leapfinger 10:04 AM  

DECOCT can be DEduced by its similarity to conCOCT, though that might seem to some to be verCOCT. I liked this big pin-up calendar too much to ask for points-off for the high OCTANE.

Had the same wide-spread problem at the G-spot, as well as a first-choice PASHTu, before I O U.

David W, you captured the FUNctional along with the STRUCTURAL, and I'm sure you intended no hidden message with ETATS WELCOMES IN RATS. "So it goes" was charmingly Vonnegutsy, too.

ArtO 10:08 AM  

A truly outstanding puzzle in so many ways. While the abbreviated months part was easy, the fact they came in order and in their own little grids is a praiseworthy feat of construction. Great job Mr. Woolf.

phil phil 10:19 AM  


Teedmn 10:28 AM  

Great puzzle though until I got the theme, the grid was giving me fits. And I didn't get the theme for a long time. AUG (is it a coincidence that it's my birth month?) finally let me see what was going on. And a multi-DNF at @Rex's forecasted tough spot. But I couldn't be content with just GCHAT/GOTYE. I had DIETIcIAN and PASHdu so tRuSSBAR and _CHAc made that my VALLEYS for the day.

I apologize to everyone who was affected by Hurricane IRENE but I put in "Sandy" at first (wrong year, I know now) and it made that "month" really hard to figure out. Here's hoping that September of 2016 does not have as many dark days as my grid had ink blots today!

Thanks @LMS, for a limerick that rhymes "concupiscence" with innocence and magnificence. And David Woolf for a good start to this year's Sunday puzzles.

JC66 10:29 AM  

Hand up for iCHAT.

Aketi 10:44 AM  

Well, I thought my forte was African capitals, but I am embarrassed to say that all I could come up with was BANGUI which is in a different part of Africa, I was saved by JULiPS only to create a problematic AMOiBA. I then wanted it to be JULuPS for the sake of M&A..

@Martin Abresch, I only know a tiny bit about Suriname because the Minister of Health was in my graduate program in International Health. He really thought he was quite the CASA(NOV)A. As for the ranking of the two countries that have the smallest population on their respective continents in comparison to the county that is the smallest in its state: Gambia > San Francisco > Suriname.

M. David Hornbuckle 10:49 AM  

Surprised to see nobody taking issue with TROJAN. Even though I figured it out pretty quickly, the "Malicious computer program" is a Trojan Horse. A Trojan is a brand of condom.

Nancy 10:54 AM  

Finished, except for the natick I couldn't care less about. (-CHAT/-OTYE). And therefore I call this puzzle solved.

Mostly wonderful -- a real challenge and joy to solve. I have no idea what MSRP is, but it can't be anything else. I didn't know that a boom box has two TAPE (DEC)KS or that malicious computer programs are called TRO(JAN)S. I had REEKS before ODORS at 10D and that really threw me off for a while. I had DIVINE before D(OCT)RINE at 125A, but there was no way 108D could end in a V. And when I think of HBO and SHO vs. basic cable, I don't think of EDGIER, I think of pricier. (DEARER would have fit.)

There were more names in my wheelhouse today than outside my wheelhouse: SOTO(MAY)OR, SASHA, PASHTO, CARL JUNG, GALT. That helped a lot. A very nice job.

quilter1 11:00 AM  

Just back from a holiday trip and this is the first puzzle of the year for me. I say challenging because although I got the rebus there were things I ust couldn't suss out so DNF. But I enjoyed what I got and that was most of it, just a few single letters here and there. Happy New Year!

Alan_S. 11:04 AM  

I would agree about using "future classics" for current pop culture clues/answers and I don't think Gotye would be among them but who knows? A classic doesn't become one until the passage of much time.

Norm 11:07 AM  

Glad to see OFL giving [faint] praise to crosswordese today. IMARET was my key to the puzzle, since I was pretty much baffled up top but there couldn't be any other answer there, and everything fell into place.

Hey, Rex, as your daughter gets older, I bet you'll get to know SEPHORA quite well. Gift cards from there work for teens through the twenties (and maybe beyond ... I'll report back).

Roo Monster 11:13 AM  

Hey All !
First pass-through had me asking, "Where the heck is the theme?" as I noticed no answers longer than 10. Commented to myself about the grid being segmented. Got the hint when I uncovered AUG after having C_HT and question marks floating above my head. The light clicked on, and, "Ohh, months rebused. I see." Then when I got a few orher months, counted the sections and got 12 neat! As I continued, was trying to keep track of the months I had, so wrote down on a piece of paper JAN-DEC, and went back through crossing out as I went along. That's when I discovered they were in order! DOH! So that made it a touch easier. This was still a tough-un. Some odd words with the rebi I hadn't heard of. Agree very much with the GOTYE/GCHAT Natick. Figured it couldn't be I CHAT, since both IMACS and IPAD were already in.

So enjoyable overall. Many writeovers, and took a while, but a cool SunPuz. Did online today at NYT app. I filled in just the first letter of each month and got the Congrats music. So if anyone can't rebus online, try that.


leah712 11:17 AM  

Wise Rex, you knew the GCHAT/GOYTE crossing would be the problem for your readers. Finally got it by running the alphabet, but not before I reentered each month abbreviation, figuring I must have made a typing error on one of them.

Alan_S. 11:20 AM  

Bravo to the best Sunday puzzle in recent memory (found it to be just as Rex described, which is rare) and bravo to some of the regular commenters that make this post a delight to read each Sunday. You know who you are.

Music Man 11:20 AM  

Matt gaffney's week 4 last month saved me on Banjul, surprised others don't remember that. I thought this theme was really inventive but suffered in a few spots

Chuck McGregor 11:24 AM  

Another rehearsal today for which I have to revise some music, so little time for much of my ramblings.

I saw the 12 mini puzzles very early on and thought this was strange. This and trouble at the top to get started said something was afoot that I needed to figure out. Rebuses seemed a possibility. I finally decided to reveal #8 as nothing around there made sense: FEB? Then I looked at the theme.

AHA….then the fun started :>)

But, in the NE:

The clue for AMP - “box” – is just BAD. Loudspeakers are often called boxes (hate it), but never amplifiers. Makes as much sense as, say, a clue for COOKING POT - “kitchen cylinder.” As well these days, the amplifiers are being built into the loudspeaker used in arenas. In many cases there aren’t any amplifiers (box-shaped or otherwise) to be seen.

Then there is “battery parts” = TESTS. Huh?

I leave you in your own good hands to figure out what these strange word juxtapositions might mean:









Alan_S. 11:42 AM  

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price

Z 11:51 AM  

@Maruchka - Love "smolog." It is a perfect descriptor on most Sunday's.

So many people having problems with their g-spot. I blame DECOCT.

Somebody That I Used to Know. Glad I knew Google can be pretty imitative when naming stuff.

Barbara Weinstein 12:01 PM  

I didn't crash and burn at GCHAT/GOTYE because it's of no consequence to me if I can't get a crossing like that. If it's something I might have once known and could dredge up from my memory, or something that could be figured out by process of elimination or intuition, then I'll feel really frustrated if I don't get it. But as soon as I saw that one, it was pretty clear that I wasn't going to be able to get that first letter and I stopped caring. Good way to reduce stress.

old timer 12:41 PM  

DNF because never heard of GCHAT, and certainly not GOTYE. Reading how it is pronounced, I grumbled, "Well, why doesn't he spell it "Gauthier" like any self-respecting Francophone?" Turns out though the name must have been French originally, he is more Flemish than Walloon, having been born in Bruges, city of lovely canals and museums, a way cool tower you can climb, some of the world's best beer, and -- wait for it -- a stand on the main square that sells nothing but French fries with every imaginable kind of sauce. (Or at least there was such a stand in 1993 when I took my wife and kids there -- they thought every town should have such a place).

I got the trick at SOTO MAY OR, which I do know how to spell, though I started to write in "Scalia", born and raised in Queens, I believe. C APR IS made it clear the months would be abbereviated in order, and since there is no four-letter word ending in GLE that has anything to do with keys, JAN GLE was obvious.

I've seen BANJUL on a map, though I didn't remember it. I basically circled the puzzle counterclockwise after that looking for the months. It did help to know the county Oakland's in -- the same county CAL is in, in fact. But the cleverest of the themers was AD JUN CT crossing old CARL JUN G.

cwf 12:42 PM  

I'm gonna guess that 42A was kind of a gimme for @Norm up there.

Miss Madine 12:50 PM  

Before I figured out DIETICIAN, I had pencilled in LUNCHLADY.

Hartley70 12:55 PM  

This was a delightful DNF for me. I had no problem with GOTYE. Several summers ago it was on the car radio every time I turned it on and I drove my passengers mad as I sang along. I am so not @AgingSoprano! Sometimes you must obey the earworm, before you switch to NPR.

I loved the theme because it was topical and a rebus. I didn't expect a rebus on Sunday, so it took until MAR to see it, then it was fun, fun, fun to find the rest. The problem for me was the NE corner. I had MART and that was it. I tried kwik, quik, food and never thought of mini. I was lost in the Simpsons. Finally I figured a company name was required. I hated PESTER, NITS, ADONIS (seriously? Not! Creepy is more apt) and AMP which was too generic. Why not lunch for that matter? I thought sky would have been perfect. In sum, the NE ended my romp today and I threw in the towel on that corner.

Tita 1:03 PM  

Fun, though a tad ho-hum. Got JAN asap, didn't want to believe FEBRILE, but then realized the gimmick, and immediately started looking for days of the week or some other such layer to what was now clearly a calendar.

I call green paint on APRICOT orchard.

CILIA was a gimme...I loved grammar school biology, and remember those little critters with their CILIA and flagella. My 12 year old niece was just here, helping me finish the last gardens and streets in the Presépio. Her favorite subject is science, and right now they are studying cells. I delighted in telling her about the crossword entry...I don't think she was impressed...

I dnf'd with iCHAT.

The first time I met my future mother-in-law, she was in early stages of Alzheimer's... After half an hour of engaging conversation, where she seemed fully with it, she leaned over and, speaking about her son, my boyfriend, "Your husband reminds me of somebody I used to know." That scene still brings a tear to my eye.

The puzzle was definitely medium-challenging for me too, but I did enjoy it.
Thanks, Mr. Woolf!

Carola 1:04 PM  

FEBRILE was my way into the theme, and I enjoyed ferreting out the other 11. After @Martin Abresch pointed out the nice cross with LIFEBLOOD, I took a look at the other theme crosses. The one that seemed most apt was SEPHORA crossing ASEPTIC, as in "Not!" - with everybody's fingers going into all those tester pots . In some circles, SOTOMAYOR might have evoked (judicial) MAYHEM, after her "Wise Latina" remark.

I with @Barbara Weinstein and @Nancy on the ?CHAT/ ?OTYE cross.

My eyes actually lit up at DECOCT: I thought, wow, never have seen it in a crossword before.

Tita 1:27 PM  

As a self-appointed copywriter/editor, I would like to pick a NIT with 16D. Those aren't,t nits, they're mistakes.
I don't hold them against people, as @Chaos and @lms mention...I mean, I can dangle a participle with the best of them.

But come on, when you're writing, especially for business, can we just write right? I particularly get dis grunt led (I agree, @Dliw) when I am told..."ok, maybe you're right that it's 'on premises', but that *sounds* wrong, so we will use 'on premise' to describe our software installed on your site.

@Nancy from yesterday...I have an affliction involving the words left and right...if I'm the driver, and you tell me to turn right, I am about as likely to put on my left turn signal and wait for oncoming traffic to abate. Likewise, if I am directing the driver, I can very easily tell you to turn right when I know full well that turning left is what is in my head.
That is why augmenting spoken directions with hand signals is key for me. My husband has developed a sixth sense about this...he will usually say..."the *other* left."
Maybe I'll ask him to use that new-to-me nomenclature.
Oddly, that doesn't happen in French or brain processes those just fine.

Dolgo 1:33 PM  

When to use *the* before a country is one of those things I haven't quite figured out yet. It seems that when it's referring to a geographical area, you sometimes use "the," but when it's a political entity, you don't. "Argentina vs " the Argentine." BTW, have you noticed that it's now Ukraine without the "the"? Sometimes it's hard to keep up!

Masked and Anonymo5.5Us 1:36 PM  

EpicGreat SunPuz! thUmbswayUp. Happy New Year.

fave runtpuz: AUG.

@009: yep. GOTYE/GCHAT area got pretty dang tense. Had vaguely heard of both, in retro-spect, but not during
solvo-spect, if U get my drift. Ditto on SEPhora, who I think they were redecoratin a local dept store around,
a while back. JC Penneys, maybe? I was mostly lookin for jeans, but had to go around that construction zone,
with Sephora posters plastered all over it.

O, I came from a la Gambia, with a BanJUL on my knee ...


old timer 1:43 PM  


Actually, *my* first guess for CAL was UCB. This Stanford man is very proud of his team, and happy that the best player to come along in my generation will be back next year. But didn't CAL have a great QB in Jared Goff? First round pick in the NFL draft, for sure.

Mama Karma 1:53 PM  

Fun but tough puzzle. Took a while to get the trick, but very clever to get all 12 in little mini puzzles, as Rex said.

Can someone explain how "battery parts" are TESTS and why "no longer wanted" is CAUGHT? Maybe they are right under my nose, but can't see how they make sense.

Sargetron 2:22 PM  

Sorry guys, but Gotye's song was HUGE 2 years ago. Tons of air time!

Sargetron 2:27 PM  

Sorry guys, but Gotye's hit 2 years ago was HUGE. Tons of air time. As for battery parts, haven't you ever gone through a battery of tests?

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Has anyone ever said, "I'd bet."?

Bronxdoc 3:08 PM  

Worth the workout. Loved the clue for the borough's finest, Justice Sotomayor.

Sargetron 3:32 PM  

Sorry guys, but Gotye's hit 2 years ago was HUGE! Tons of air time. As far as battery parts? Haven't you ever been run through a battery of tests?

Norm 4:15 PM  

@cwf : You would be correct. :) And, Mr. Woolf got it right. None of that silly UCAL stuff.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

The Gambia is known for its high-service hotels---vacation destination for some Europeans. I think tourism is its major industry.

Lobster11 5:05 PM  

On the one hand, I usually despise puzzles that are segmented into mini-puzzles. On the other, I really like themes which, ones you suss them out, directly contribute to the solving experience. This one had both, and on balance I liked it. It took me a long time to suss out the theme, but even then it was (pleasantly) tough to find where the rebuses were in some of the sections.

Thanks for the link @Patrick Blindauer's puzzle; I did that one later in the day and enjoyed it a lot.

carole 5:33 PM  

Was anyone else annoyed that the months were not in numerical order, or is that just my OCD kicking in?

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

On 42A I had UCB but then CILIA got me to make it CAL, and then AD JUN CT popped out.

Some of the CrossWonk stuff like EPODE and IMARET did stump me, but mostly this was a usual good show.

Mohair Sam 6:55 PM  

Guess I'll join the throng - Really liked this one a lot; Naticked at the "G" spot with an I; discovered BANJUL today; and knew it had to be SOTOMAYOR.

I've actually used GCHAT yet forgot it existed. Google conned me into using it when I signed up for Facebook via my gmail address a couple of years back. I Apologized to the folks I bugged with GCHAT, they forgave me because they'd made the same mistake. And GCHAT just left my brain forever.

Thought there might be an ADiCT professor until LIBIDO gave us an indirect hint to CARLJUNG and hence ADJUNCT (and opened the theme for us).

@Norm (with a nod to @cwf) - Cannot believe you didn't toot your CAL horn today!

Different and enjoyable Sunday David Woolf - thank you.

Numinous 8:11 PM  

LOL, GOTYE, well, most of YE, GOT mE too. Technically a DNF since I had to google the song to find the G. Yeah, I had iCHAT too for a bit. When I looked up GCHAT in the google play store, it turned up a CHAT app intended to be for gay hookups but the reviews said nobody goes there. There may be another G CHAT that I'm unaware of (of which I'm unaware) but that's the only one I found on my android phone and it hardly seems in any way an "Alternative to Facebook Messenger." So, will GOTYE become another NATICK variant?

I guess I figured out the theme somewhere around CARL [JUN]G, then went back and got the top ones. It was looking to me that the mos. were going to descend the grid in order but SL[AUG]TER blew that for me. It wasn't until reading xwirdinfo that I discovered the 12 calendar pages.

I rather liked seeing @Norm's CAL there as well as the county it is in: ALAMEDA. After all, I grew up there.

I did this hours ago and that's about all I clearly remember other than the fact that it took me longer than usual and I steadfastly refused to google. At least until I hit the G and I was GOTYE.

Wednesday's Child 10:09 PM  

When the Gambia River was "discovered" they thought it would lead to the heart of Africa. Not even close.

12 mini puzzles. I got the rebus at CAPRIS and then wondered if the months were in order. TROJANS gave me the likely confirmation.

I didn't realize until yesterday that posies weren't a particular kind of flower. I had been living under an illusion for decades.

I believe, help my unbelief.

Z 10:17 PM  

@Mama Karma - I'd bet that if you took (or gave) this in high school you'd have had no problem. Still, lots of tv doctors order "a battery of tests" so I was surprised that a couple people didn't get the answer. Also, once you are CAUGHT you are taken off the FBI's "10 Most Wanted List."

@anon2:53 - Yes.

@Tita - only dyslexic regarding directions and only in one language? Weird. What if you gave family directions only in Portuguese? Surely they've all picked up enough.

Hartley70 10:51 PM  

@Tita, your mother-in-law story and its poignancy brought a tear to my eye.

Music Man 11:05 PM  

Umm, did you solve it wrong? Look again. Are you reading up and down for some weird reason?

Gregory Schmidt 11:55 PM  

GCHAT/GOTYE - Seriously?

OISK 12:33 AM  

Yeah, Gotye got me too. Just a terrible cross, should not have been allowed. G chat?? Too many computer clues, and I don't like IMACs and IPADS in the same puzzle. (The I's DON'T have it) As others pointed out, it's Trojan horses, not Trojans, how about, instead of yet one more computer clue, "Hector and Priam"?? Never heard of daikons, battery parts for "tests" - didn't even understand it after I wrote it; now I do. One having a simple existence for amoeba? Too cute for my scientific tastes. I don't like fatness, my boom box never had two tape decks, (although some did) For me, even though I got the theme early on, this was a slow, annoying slog. It also annoyed me that the months were ALMOST in order - another source of delay. So I am part of the small minority who did not like this puzzle at all.

Worse than that, (warning, do not read further if you did not solve the "Marching Bands " puzzle, I had TWO DNF this Sunday. I needed either to know the word Shivaree, which I may have seen once before, or be able to fill in ___Xing. I was looking for a Chinese name! The answer was "Deer". Phooey.

And the Jets lost.

Michael from Holland 8:34 AM  

All good comments regarding this fairly challenging puzzle. Somewhat surprises that nobody had anything to say about "nits"- seemed like a real stretch to me.

bg 12:25 AM  

GCHAT is a complete joke.

naomival 2:29 AM  

I solved the Patrick Blindauer puzzle with great pleasure - thanks for the link - but am a little confused about the extra feature. I got the "13 special spots" referred to in 42 across, but they don't seem to make anything when added up - and yes, I can sight-sing. What am I missing?

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I couldn't get the SE corner -- boom boxes never included "tape decks"! "Tape decks" were/are standalone electronic devices. Boom boxes typically included two cassette "drives" so that music could be copied from one cassette to another. But never tape decks. So I couldn't figure out where the rebus "dec" was supposed to go in that SE corner.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

I had idly written LunchLady for Dietitian until I figured out the hook with Capris. I liked this puzzle. It gave away much, though, with the months in order.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

How is "Unable to do well" (68D) BADAT? The proper clue should be "Unable to do well in."

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

Battery parts are TESTS? Wha? And "You're missing a comma" = NITS?? Noun? Verb? Huh?

Bruce Walker 2:36 PM  

A criminal still free is wanted. He is longer wanted once he is caught.And a battery of tests consists of tests.

Diana,LIW 10:37 PM  

Hey Syndierellas - do we all get the Sun puz only one week late? Just curious. It's the one day of the week that my vaca paper (The Monterey Herald) has the NYT and LAT puzs in print. Glorious day!
Anyone considering going to the Am Puz Contest in Stamford?
Diana, Lady in Waiting for CrossWords

Burma Shave 12:37 PM  


CASANOVA’S DOCTRINE with my daughter
CAUGHT like a lamb at the SLAUGHTER



but the OCTANE of MAYHEM is wine,
ASASET they GOTYE a jail COT.


spacecraft 1:00 PM  

I have to say DNF because of that ridiculously unknowable natick at 40. Other than that I got enerything else, though it took me...I don't want to say how long. Let's invent a new rating: "challenging-easy." To begin, I stared a lot. Then I put in THY. Then I stared SCADS more. It looked like the NW corner words were WORMS and WHAT, but nothing developed from that. Cine-? PLEX was all I could come up with at first. I don't know about all you wonderful athletes, but to me, ONEK is most definitely NOT a "brief" race! I maybe could WALK that distance, provided there were benches along the way.

Clues were tougher than tough all the way through, so it wasn't all that easy even after the lightbulb switched on with TROJANS/JANGLE. Still it was gettable--all but that silly #40 square. Guys? David? You can't DO that. It's just not fair. Only mark possible: INC.

rondo 1:11 PM  

Now I know OFL never leaves a half-mile radius from his home (xword contests excluded). I traveled coast-to-coast in 2012 and virtually every radio station in the country was playing GOTYEs “Somebody that I Used to Know” (check out the video, Kimbra is a real yeah baby, ANGELIC even), even one of the MPR stations here. Unavoidable, and a masterwork IMHO. And SEPHORA? Also unavoidable. SEPHORA has shops in every mall and every major downtown area, including Manhattan and Chicago. I know, I’ve been in every one I’ve been near, due to the wife’s European propensity for fragrances and makeup. Impossible to miss. Unless one’s head is . . . well, better left unsaid.

Got the gimmick at LIFEBLOOD, but it took time to hunt down all of the others. A lot of the clues felt somewhat “off” to me and made this puz more work THAN necessary. JULEPS was a saver and it looks like the only write-over was PAtooT for rear; made sense to me.

Our softball team back in the late ‘70s had a player, last name STEIN. We won the BEER trophy one weekend due to his strategy as BEER coach. For many years he had the nickname BEERSTEIN.

This puz was a real time-suck, but not terrible. Seriously, stay away from SEPHORA if you can, but please check out GOTYE with yeah baby Kimbra if you are unfamiliar.

rain forest 1:46 PM  

Started off slowly, running into road blocks in the three Northern areas, and bumbled around in the next three. SOTO(MAY)OR, and CARL (JUN)G clued me in and I was off, more or less. At square 40, I guessed G because Google.

This was a delightful puzzle with cleverness and solid construction evident, and virtually no weaknesses. Naturally, @Rex just had to point out the three iffy entries out of over 200, but that's his schtick.

I'd have to say that this is one of the more memorable Sundays in quite a long time. My interest never flagged, and I was keen to finish, which I did, although my pride didn't lead to concupiscence, thankfully.

AnonymousPVX 1:49 PM  

It's hard for me to express how much I detest this type of puzzle. One letter to one box is the rule and I hate when letters/numbers or anything else breaks that rule.

Add the ridiculous clueing and this is what you get, a mess that is no fun doing and no pleasure at completing.

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

got the idea quickly at (APR)icot/C(APR)is, which fed back to TRO(JAN)s/(JAN)GLE, which had confused me at the start.

But lots of overly ambiguous (bad) cluing to help find crosses to determine where the (mon) fit in. Many are identified already, plus the crosswordese stuff. Made what could have been a fun puzzle somewhat of a slog.

One more I'll point out is that OCTANE is simply a chemical compound - not power; power is dynes, ergs, etc. gasoline can have more/less octane, but that's not more/less power.

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

I'm late to the party, but feeling a need to get this off my chest. I had very mixed reactions to this puzzle. There is far too much trivia, and too little wordplay, for my taste. BANJUL? GOTYE? IMARET? But tastes differ.

The theme, in combination with the grid, was cute, and quite appropriate for a Sunday puzzle, I thought.

Mostly, I found the fill fresh and entertaining. DAIKONS, CARLJUNG, SOTOMAYOR, DECOCT. Great! ONRICE is the name of a very good local Thai restaurant chain in my city, and they do a very tasty assortment of curries! I loved the clue for SOTOMAYOR, as many others did.

Overall, however, there were far more questionable clues than entertaining ones.

I completely agree with @Tita on the matter of NITS. A missing comma does not qualify. This feels like a symptom of the general decline in the literary quality of the NYT Crossword.

I also agree with @Chuck McGregor on the matter of AMP. A woeful clue.

I’ll give the clue for OCTANE a pass because the “so to speak” indicates an inexact reference.

But there plenty of other clues that just don’t pass muster.

ADONIS, e.g. In the time-honored NYT tradition, an abbrev. in the clue signals the same in the answer. But no longer, apparently. I racked my brain for an abbreviated answer, to no avail. Signaling an abbreviation where there is none is not misdirection; it is either dishonest or just plain sloppy.

Surely “battery part” required a “?” or some other indication of the unconventional usage? Yes, “battery” can be used as a collective noun, and is often so used for a series of tests, but, importantly, never alone, only accompanied by a modifying, explanatory phrase. One does not “take a battery,” a phrase which suggests several unfortunate images. One takes a “battery of tests.”

As the term is commonly used, an anode, cathode, or plate can be part of a battery, as can a mortar or other artillery piece, or the pitcher and catcher on a baseball team. All other collective usages require explanation in order to be understandable. A test is not typically “part of” a battery when the latter is used as a stand-alone noun.

And the AMISH are members of a religious sect, not a “rural community.” They may live in rural communities, of course, and generally do. New Holland, PA, a borough in Lancaster County, home to many Amish and Mennonite families, is one such rural community.

I could go on, but that, I hope, is enough to make the point.

Wilbur Charles 10:10 AM  

Yes, but you'd remember Enos SlAUGhter. Guessing the clue is the hardest part for me. Casanovas finally clued me. FM Radio doesn't identify artists, you're supposed to know them or get off the BAND.

Wilbur Charles 6:30 AM  

Sorry this is so late but in Tampa we get 1/03 on 1/10. The Golden Bear's school is OSU btw. I thought the icy remark was BARB
The Rebus(I am trying to learn xwordese). Celtics fans have trouble even writing the word Laker. Loved the poetry, btw.

Sophi Van 6:26 AM  

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