Christopher tippler in Taming of Shrew / SUN 3-6-16 / Dumas swordsman / Movie co behind Boyhood Transamerica / Scandal airer / Colors 1960s-style / Journey to recurring segment Sesame Street

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "In Character" — theme answers are clues describing Shakespearean characters whose names are found *inside* those descriptions (in circled letters). Theme clues read [See blurb]. Blurb reads: "the answers to [the long themers] are themselves clues to the names spelled by their circled letters"

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ICE FOG (59D: Arctic weather phenomenon) —
Ice fog is a type of fog consisting of fine ice crystals suspended in the air. It occurs only in cold areas of the world, as water droplets suspended in the air can remain liquid down to −40 °C (−40 °F). It should be distinguished from diamond dust, a precipitation of sparse ice crystals falling from a clear sky. It should also be distinguished from freezing fog, which is commonly called pogonip [!!?!?!] in the western United States. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a solid, old-school Sunday effort. The answers (i.e. the 'clues') are pretty contrived, but they sort of have to be in a puzzle like this, because they have to describe the character and contain the letters of his/her name in order (albeit non-consecutive order). I think the themers start out good; that is they are reasonably accurate and reasonably *specific*. That is, COMRADE OF MERCUTIO is a nice, narrow, focused "clue" for ROMEO. ELDERLY MONARCH is the least focused of the first five themers, but it held up fine. Two of the last three, however, felt way too broad. EVIL ANTAGONIST?!? There is nothing IAGO-specific in that "clue." Also, it's borderline redundant, though, to be fair, it's not UNHAPPY MALCONTENT redundant, because *that* would be ridiculous. Seriously, what is up with UNHAPPY MALCONTENT? Not only is it not HAMLET-specific it's ... well it's a word and then a synonym of that word. Are there "happy malcontents"? I am pretty sure there are not. That answer is bizarre to the point of ridiculousness, and coming as it does in the punch-line (i.e. final) position, it's truly buzz-killing. So you've got a nice concept here, mostly but not entirely well executed.

Also not entirely thrilled about the double-dipping with "Macbeth" answers (BANQUO / MACBETH). There are a lot of Shakespeare plays. Spread the love. Evenly. As for the fill, it seems fine overall. The NW is nicely handled, with full-named ORRIN HATCH coming down through FAT CATS and (less probably) alongside QUICHE. AUTOSTRADA is an answer I can't remember encountering before. Classes up the joint a little, somehow. ONLINE CHAT feels a little too loose / vague / odd (70D: Real-time messaging system). It doesn't really sound like a "system." AOL Messenger, iChat ... those are systems. ONLINE CHAT is a very general internet phenomenon. I don't often groove on identical (or near-identical) sequential clues, but in the case of 94D: Like Lhasa apsos (TIBETAN) and 99D: Lhasa apso and others (BREEDS), the ploy worked very well. It wasn't forced, and it involved two substantial (6+-letter) answers. Nice work there.

In case you've somehow been ignoring Crossword News for the past 48 hours (and if so, what's wrong with you?!), here's that bombshell article about alleged crossword theme plagiarism: "A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In the Crossword World" by Oliver Roeder of The story, which details the role one database played in unmasking what appears to be significant theme-stealing by the editor of the USA Today crossword, has already been picked up by a bunch of major media outlets, including the NYT (at least the online version). I have so much to say about this, but I have already shouted most of it into Twitter, and I'm not really up to rehashing it all here (still recovering from stupid horrible cold). The article raises lots of great issues about copyright law, ethics, the problem of distinguishing between accidental duplication and outright theft, etc. I'll be following developments in this story, and will let you know what I hear. For now, just read the article.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. Very clever and nicely executed with only a couple @Rex clunkers. Fun Sun., liked it.

Charles Flaster 12:12 AM  

Medium and did not have the blurb.
Slowed way down until I hit GO ROGUE and FOTO.
Got basic theme at BANQUO.
Liked MACBETH as most creative of the themers.
Only write over was ARCH for inCH.
Not too much CrosswordEASE.
Overall the theme had to be painstakingly difficult to complete .
Thanks DJK

kozmikvoid 12:18 AM  

I don't know if this is constructor-bias or cold medication nirvana, but the last thing I expected to see was a middle-to-positive review of this mess.

One bad theme answer certainly doesn't ruin a puzzle. One absolutely moronic theme answer can.

UNHAPPYMALCONTENT could be the dumbest theme answer...or quite honestly the dumbest crossword answer of all time. I greatly detest hyperbole, so I say "could be." But I definitely have a pretty strong argument if I were to make one. If you can look at that themer, and then look at EVILANTAGONIST and still think this was at all good, then you are a much more optimistic optimist than I.

The Sunday puzzle is what drew me to the NYT. Sadly, it's gotten to the point where I only do them because I have to if I want to keep streaks alive.

With sincere sincerity,

A dissatisfied, dissatisfied person

Da Bears 12:41 AM  

Obviously, Rex is a pal of David Kahn. This puzzle is great in its construction but lousy in solver experience. Who does Rex represent? The Solver? Or the Constructor?

AliasZ 1:19 AM  

I loved this classical, ingenious and inspired puzzle. It must be the first time ever that the theme entries were self-clued. Except for the "blurb" that is, which, with its convoluted language, was no help at all in getting the theme.

I thought MACABRE THANE was the best clue/answer, simply because making up a 12-letter phrase that contains a 7-letter name described by that phrase, is way more difficult than a 20-letter phrase containing a 5-letter name. BANQUET GHOST was also excellent for the same reason, while UNHAPPY MALCONTENT impressed me the least because I never met or heard of a joyful malcontent. Perhaps HAPLESS MALCONTENT would have worked better?

Nonetheless, this was quite an enjoyable romp through some of the most passionate, evil, macabre, hapless, elderly, ghostly, cross-dressing and scheming Shakespearean characters: a fresh idea well executed. I can even forgive the occasional AGS, FAS, APAT, ADOS and a few other clunkers, plus the 44 three-letter words.

I can't not link to COMRADE OF MERCUTIO and Juliet, by comrade Prokofiev.

A great tribute to the Bard of Avon -- thank you David.

Have a joyful Sunday!

Babs 2:43 AM  

Didn't understand 1-down or 1-across

George Barany 5:46 AM  

Fraud Suspected At Sudoku Championship -- just posted on Facebook, although the dateline is October 2009. @Will Shortz was interviewed (4 minutes) and a transcript is provided.

Leapfinger 5:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  

Classic puzzle -- or should I say, how am I expected to know these characters from 400 years ago? ;>)

Got careless: 54 A, INCH >> ARCH.

Loren Muse Smith 7:21 AM  

I was all settled in on the couch with my throw and back-pillow just so, lap-pillow-turned-lap-desk supporting Tita's mom's crossword clipboard positioned, coffee right there, AcrossLite grid, trusty mechanical pencil…

And then I saw that I had missed the blurb note. FFF BBOOMMBBB. Too lazy to get up and investigate, I solved this very easily without it. AND, I'm not a Shakespeare aficionado. (I wanted to be able to complain that BANQUO was in MACBETH. I wanted to nod knowingly when CASCA appeared, to sigh and remember VIOLA and OLIVIA. Huh?) Regardless, finishing this without the note and admiring its conceit was no problem. At the ACPT (in less than a month!!), I will come in around the middle of the pack*; I am not Miss Prisspot Elite Solver. I doubt Will reads this site anymore, but my vote would be for less help up front.

Henry IV had a son named Hal? Huh. Did Katherine the Great have daughters, Courtney and Brittany? "Hal" just seems like a name that hadn't been born yet back then.

"How to play solitaire" – on the computer while on the phone with a friend updating me on the latest tweaking of her thyroid medication:

So my hands had started tingling again, and I got quite constipated…
Black six on red seven
Blah blah small goiter blah blah no energy blah blah fat pants too small blah blah
Red four on black five
Blah blah no openings blah blah saw Marcy's doctor blah blah took me off Synthroid blah blah
Two of clubs on ace of clubs
Put me on 100 mgs of Levoxyl blah blah
Move nine of diamonds over to ten of hearts to free up ten of diamonds
Anyway, to make a long story short blah blah feeling a little better blah blah
Auto complete to win.

There are three SAR-initial words that are wraps: saran, sari, sarong. Kept wanting "saran" for SARONG.

I thought this was a clever, terrific Sunday offering. Thanks, David!

*I don't attend to compete, but I do because it's fun to sit around with a big gang of Rexites and debrief after a puzzle. And I go to star gaze. The first time I went, I got there kinda early and had lunch by myself in the hotel restaurant. Right next to me, Doug Peterson was having lunch. I could hardly chew my food. That's Doug Peterson. That's Doug PETERSON! THAT'S DOUG PETERSON!!!!!! Sure, I'm not that person who sees someone famous, shrugs and figures he's just a regular guy who puts his pants on one leg at a time. Not me, buddy; I'm the one who is instantly and massively nervous and thrilled. I imagine Doug jumps into his pants both legs at a time from the top bunk. Blindfolded. While doing mental ikebana and humming the Minute Waltz in 18 seconds. Don't not go to the tourney because you're afraid to compete. Do go if you want to walk around among the Supreme Constructor Gods of the Universe.

Lewis 7:45 AM  

I must respectfully disagree with Rex on his criticism that some of the theme answers aren't specific enough. In general in puzzles, some clues will be direct and specific (i.e. "Sides of sectors" for RADII) and others will be vague ("It's a wrap" for SARONG). You wouldn't want all of one or the other. There's no reason why this shouldn't apply to theme answers as long as there is a string tying them together (Shakespeare characters embedded in their own description).

FBOMB debuted last year in an Evan Birnholz puzzle. It's nice to have FAS and SCALE in the same puzzle, as well as the SON by the MOON. I had inCH before ARCH for a long time. Nice clues for ORE, NRA, and SARONG, and I like the answer GOROGUE. I'm not very Shakespeare literate, but I knew all the characters except CASCA. It solved smoothly, though not lightning fast.

So there was no comedy of errors, the puzzle was as I liked it, and so this winter's tale was completed with gratitude: all's well that ends well.

chefbea 7:48 AM  

Not being a Shakespear officiando...I found this difficult. I slogged through it last night and got most of it. I knew the characters...just didn't know the descriptions....And I did study Shakespeare...many years ago!!

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Had ELiDE for ELUDE (108D, Lose, in a way) - which I still think is a great clue for elide - and it took me forever to find the goof. No chance for the cross on 120A (Har-TRU), either. RIP Bud Collins.

Otherwise, this was a great puzzle with a fun feel to it.

George Barany 8:12 AM  

Maazel Tov! for March 6 birthdays (one of whom is a New York Times constructor, and friend).

Hartley70 8:12 AM  

This one kept my interest throughout, despite a relatively easy difficulty level. My time was 30 seconds short of average. I didn't want to scream once at the teeny, tiny squares on my phone. That's my Sunday measure of success and it's tough to meet. Congrats to Mr. Kahn!

I agree this was a NYT classic theme, and a little Shakespeare on a Sunday morning is a good thing. It's almost like going to church.

NCA President 8:16 AM  

I do the WP xword in spurts and yesterday I did a couple of them including Wednesday's puzzle. The clue for 28D was "Sector's sides." Answer, RADII. Today's NYT had at 123A "Sides of sectors." Answer, RADII. WP's puzzle was by Jeff Chen, today's NYT was David Kahn.

Assuming that there were no editorial shenanigans at play, what it acutely shows (since they are so close in published time) is how these puzzles can weirdly parallel each other. Maybe Chen and Kahn both got tired of cluing RADII as arm bones and came up with a text book definition...worded nearly exactly the same.

I would think the copyright laws on puzzles would be really hard to enforce and/or prove. Xword puzzles are a closed system. Puzzles like BuzzFeed's are so far outside the norm that they are probably never going to be too similar with the more straight and "traditional" puzzles. I could be wrong there, but the WP and NYT are very similar in style so it seems they're more likely to overlap...and I haven't done a USA Today puzzle in a while, but IIRC it falls in the more "traditional" camp.

In music you can't copyright titles of songs or harmonic patterns...only melody. And even then there is a lot of room for interpretation. Xwords could fall under the same umbrella but the law would need to apply to something very specific about a puzzle that makes it utterly distinctive (like a melody) and guard against plagiarizing that. As it stands, given the number of puzzles, it's hard to tell what makes one puzzle distinctively different from another. Right now, editors seem to only be going by the honor system. Which is fine if everyone agrees there is going to be some overlap.

Oh yeah, today's puzzle. It was easy since I actually have been involved in two of the plays referred to: Twelfth Night and King Lear. Who doesn't know Romeo and Juliet? BANQUO was the only one I had trouble with.

Otherwise, easy peasy for a Sunday. I will say this puzzle did nothing to advance my desire to do Sunday puzzles....

Aketi 8:18 AM  

I can't quite wrap my mind around as to why someone would be motivated to plagerise crosswords puzzles on such a large scale. It reminds me of the Stuyvescant high school cheating scandal where one enterprising student Developed a network of over one hundred students to cooperatively cheat on of all things the high school Regents Exams, not the SATs or ACTs. I suppose once you get away with it you start to think you are invulnerable and your cheating just continues the escalate to the point that you implode in a big way.

I was not an UNHAPPY MALCONTENT over this puzzle and did get the theme, but it was like the difference between a hard workout that leaves you exhilarated and a hard workout that makes you want to crawl back into bed.,

I always chuckle when someone mentions how much thet love the RAMONES because my cousin's husband grew up with one of them and at the mere mention of his name will go on a long winded rant about how bad his music is. Of course my cousin's husband tends to rant about just about anything and I suppose HE could be considered an UNHAPPY MALCONTENT.

Sir Hillary 8:24 AM  

I liked this more than most Sundays, because the relative lack of cluing (i.e., entirely self-referential) for the themers made it a lot harder for me than typically the case. I felt like I actually had to work my way through this one, not just fill it out from top to bottom out of some weird sense of obligation.

-- The long non-themers are great. Especially enjoyed AUTOSTRADA, VOICEACTOR, FATCATS and TIEDYES.
-- FBOMB as the first down. Kaboom.
-- Thoughtful, fun clues for INN, SARONG, SEMI, TENS, SCALE and RETRO.
-- The NRA is obviously a lightning rod societally, but its clue today is fantastic. Hands up for ignoring the question mark and dropping in Nfc.
-- Mel Blanc the VOICEACTOR crossing a toon CEL.
-- Agree with @Rex on the Lhasa apso double.

Didn't like:
-- ABC and ABCD in the same grid? No, times infinity.
-- Polenta's only MEALY if uncooked or cooked poorly.
-- The cross-referenced "stet" clue seems clever, but it's really just lipstick on the pig that is ITIN.

And so I LEAVE you with...MUSS ADOS APAT NOTIP. My sincere apologies.

OISK 9:03 AM  

Enjoyed this one, and the reminder from AliasZ of the Prokofiev ballet, one of the few works that I happily see again, just about every year. (favorite all-time pairing was Wes Chapman and Amanda McKerrow.

Add me to the list of those who had inch before arch. Also made my polenta meaty, rather than mealy, (cooking is not one of my strong suits) tossed my hair before I mussed it, and vainly tried to come up with a LAST name for singer 'Anthony."

Agree with all of the previous comments, but still, this one left me happy and content.

Aketi 9:04 AM  

@lms, I wanted SARAPE, but it's spelled SERAPE, so I threw out the RAPE which is really RONG.

Loren Muse Smith 9:18 AM  

@#George Barany – wickedly funny anecdote about the plagiarism committee. Oops.

@Sir Hillary – good catch on ABC and ABCD.

@Sir Hillary, @kozmikvoid (and Rex) - I never noticed/questioned the redundant UNHAPPY MALCONTENT. Point well taken – plus, it's a contrived phrase, but it just doesn't anger me. I rarely notice tautologies. Armed gunman, natural instinct, suddenly explode, unexpected surprise, foreign import, past history, PIN number, early beginnings, false pretense, end result… even the word forewarn. They're little added bonuses of semantic meaning.

Ruth 9:18 AM  

Same problem as Anon 8:10. I was Naticked by HAR-TRU

Lobster11 9:20 AM  

I'm with OFL on this one. UNHAPPY MALCONTENT was a huge blemish on an otherwise very good puzzle. I wonder if there was a single solver anywhere in the world who didn't see this answer and immediately think, "Is there such a thing as a happy malcontent?"

I liked the theme not only because it was clever -- i.e., with the answers in effect being self-clued -- but because it was one of those themes that actually contributed to my solving experience: In some cases I figured out what the circled letters spelled first, which then helped me figure out the rest; in other cases it was the other way around.

Also, count me as another solver who wrote in what any reasonable person would upon seeing __CH for "Part of a foot."

Robert Berardi 9:32 AM  

Not crazy about self-clue themes, especially when it's all across; you end up doing down fill just to see what's going on. But it was rewarding enough to make me a happy unmalcontent. Until eeled. Eeled? EELED?!?

Teedmn 9:36 AM  

This puzzle explored most of my Shakespearean knowledge. I took two Shakespeare classes in high school and we pretty much stuck to the tragedies so I knew all of these except Viola and Olivia. I'll agree that the redundancy of UNHAPPY MALCONTENT took me aback; having the second half of the answer, I expected to see Danish appear but of course that wouldn't give the H needed for Hamlet. But I don't consider it a fatal flaw so I give high marks to David Kahn for this Sunday culture fest.

I didn't know @LMS' 'rule of three SAR wraps' so I went in for SARape (both wrong and misspelled) but when EE_ at 80A was unlikely to be EEl as a big head (at least I hoped not!) I saw SARONG. And I fell for the three letter Packers' org. starting with N misdirection but ANSEL Adams cleaned that right up.

Not too much in the way of clever clues though CEL clued as "One carrying a toon?" was cute. MACABRETHANE looks like a new kind of organic compound (hi @GB). And SHORN is not commonly seen or heard and much more welcome than the ever-popular "alop".

Have a HAPPY CONTENT Sunday, all.

GILL I. 9:41 AM  

Amazing...Please don't tell me this has been done before.
I didn't get the blurb note. All I got was "In Character." I thought "so what?"...this is not fun, I'm really disliking another Sunday and I can't take it much more...Wait, I see some circles. Am I supposed to do something with them?...Duh, of course you are. Hey, I see ROMEO and wait, there's LEAR and CASCAR and so many other goodies. I so wanted Cleopatra but VIOLA did just fine.
I had some extra credit I needed to take in HS so I picked drama. I loved it no end especially since the drama teacher had me in the lead role of "Taming of the Shrew." I was the bitchiest Kate this side of MACBETH. Made me read Shakespeare.
This puzzle was really cleverly done and It could not have been easy to construct. AUTO STRADA (which nobody uses because the tolls are too high) QUICHE (which real men don't eat) and VOICE ACTOR were among my favorite non-themes. I liked ALL the theme answers.
Fine, fine job DJK. I wouldn't mind some more of these Sundays.

CFXK 9:42 AM  

RE Clue for 1-A: Why would I need special insurance policy for my television. Isn't my television covered by my home owners insurance?

Will should have caught that misplaced modifier.

PG Bartlett 10:11 AM  

Electrical plugs are always MALE. (Electrical sockets are always female.) Some electrical connectors are MALE.

Finally got one.

da kine 10:11 AM  

All of you pooping on this puzzle are crazy. I thought the whole thing was great. I got the theme in about two minutes (which I didn't expect) and it was still challenging and fun. Do you want easy puzzles you can finish in record time? Go ahead and knock out some of those Tim Parker ones (which I thought were too easy and didn't particularly like before I knew he stole them).* How challenging do you think it is to fit every themer inside the themer itself(!)? That is a tall order and I thought it was excellently executed. I'll take one bit of redundancy for the rest of the puzzle, which I found wonderful.

* Someone should probably edit that Wikipedia article that he obviously wrote himself. I'd like to see a scanned and notarized letter that he was drafted by the Pirates when he was 16. You KNOW that's some BS.

C zar 10:13 AM  

Now here is a puzzle fit for C zar! BANQUET/BANQUO tipped me to the theme early. Enjoyed the additional Shakespearean fill, including Christopher FRY and BRUTE. Quibble with FOTO spelled with an "F" and I had "ELIDE" instead of "ELUDE," not knowing what the f%&k "Har-tru" is.


Z 10:17 AM  

Happy malcontent? Of course, they are more commonly called "trolls."

Seriously, I think Rex is way off on the two themers. Trump is a malcontent. Occupy Wall Street were malcontents. Are they unhappy the way HAMLET is unhappy? Nope. They are "unhappy with...," not "unhappy." Likewise EVIL ANTAGONIST is fine. Heck, IAGO is almost the prototypical antagonist that the protagonist doesn't realize is evil. How many examples are there of the "antagonist" turning out to have a heart of gold or an ally turning out to be a Sith Lord?

I'm with @Alias Z MACABRE THANE. Wonderful answer. OLIVIA'S LOVE INTEREST/VIOLA, reminded me that Twelfth Night is a rollicking gender bending good time. The non-love triangle between Olivia, Viola, and Malvolio has got to be as much fun to perform as it is to watch.

My biggest hang-up was iamb>inch>ARCH, which made me hold up on entering MARC Anthony. Those of you who only know me as Z will not see the irony here.

I didn't see everything that Rex shouted into Twitter, but I did find this Tweet amusing. I've seen a fair number of posts here over the years that don't get this basic fact about Rex.

Nancy 10:23 AM  

I really enjoyed this. Unlike many Sundays, it was over too soon -- although maybe that's because I did some of it yesterday. I thought it was clever and entertaining, dense with theme answers, and it must have been really difficult to construct. What I liked about it was that each theme answer was a puzzle in its own right, with none of my previous answers being any help to getting the current one. It ranged from easy to somewhat challenging for me, depending on where I was in the puzzle. Good fun.

L 10:30 AM  

I got all hung up on 9A FOTO. And I still don't get it. Help, please!

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Where was this "blurb?" I didn't find it in the online puzzle. It was a tough solve for me....

MattG 10:41 AM  

I, like most of you here, enjoy crosswords for the challenge, so I take no pleasure in googling an answer. (Basically, most of us don't cheat on crosswords because it takes away the fun of it... I assume.)

Thus, my question to @rex and everyone else: What is your position on looking down at your keyboard (assuming you are solving the online edition) when a keyboard-related clue comes up? For example, in today's puzzle, perhaps looking down to see which key has an "L" as the middle letter. Do you do it? Do you purposely *not* look down until you've solved the clue in question? Or do you consider it not cheating if the answer just so happens to be right in front of you?

Just curious how everyone views this in their internal cheat-o-meter, because it's been bothering me for awhile :)

BT 10:52 AM  

Is it just me, or have this and the last two Sunday puzzles been just too easy? That being said, love Shakespeare, hated unhappy malcontent.

Chaos344 10:56 AM  

Puzzle was just O.K. It was an average time solve with an interesting theme, but I agree that 115A was way too redundant.

@Da Bears: Gave you a couple Recos JFC. I just love it when you needle Martin.

@LEAPY: Regarding your late post of yesterday. So sorry to hear about your traumatic experience with that medicinal chocolate bar at the tender age of four. I'll bet your mom went through plenty of TALCUM or Johnson&Johnson baby powder that day, no?

@LMS: LMAO! Hope your friend who leans toward hypochondria doesn't read this blog?

@ Z: Re; yesterday's late comment. LOL. High heels at a baseball game? What's this world coming to? I might just fly out to Detroit for a weekend series this summer, depending on the availability of certain tickets at StubHub.

What's the over/under on how many people enlighten @Babs, vis-a-vis her 1A-1D conundrum, before the next batch of comments are posted? I'm in at 6 and over.

Norm 10:58 AM  

This was a very clever and enjoyable puzzle. Suspected the theme from the title; the only uncertainty was what types of characters we would be dealing with, and I was very happy to see Shakespearean rather than movies or cartoons. Amused myself by trying to guess the character from the fewest possible circled letters, so UNHAPPY MALCONTENT did not bother me at all.

Carola 11:15 AM  

I'm sure everyone will be fascinated to know that as I sophomore in high school, clad in a bedsheet for a toga, I played CASCA in my English class's "production" of Julius Caesar: "Speak, hands, for me!", striking the first blow. That highlight of my acting career had its complement today in the highlight of my Sunday solve, as, working down the right side and having -SAR as the end of that long theme answer, I thought, "CAESAR--->CASCA!" Love those small puzzle triumphs.

I thought the best one was BANQUET GHOST. In stagings of MACBETH, it's always fun to see in what creative way the director will arrange to have this startling guest materialize at the table. I didn't really think MACABRE fits the character of MACBETH (more apt for the witches or possibly Lady Macbeth), but nice work on using the TH for THANE.

Very fun puzzle. Thank you, David Kahn.

Chaos344 11:16 AM  

@Z: HAPPYMALCONTENT = TROLL. I like that analogy. Also your take on EVILANTAGONIST. Thanks for including the Tweet link. It proved a good point.

Corky Miller 11:20 AM  

Flo is the girl in the Progressive Ins. ads and f bomb is well, you know

Kimberly 11:21 AM  

I'm not sure I liked the whole blurb thing. Part of the whole trick of the Sunday puzzle is figuring out the trick. The only clue is usually in the name of the puzzle. Having them tell me exactly what the trick is and where it will be located (redundant, since the circles are already there in the grid) felt like spoon-feeding. It stole the "aha" moment, which should be a felony theft.

Because of this egregious sin, it made me cranky about things like having both "eons" and "era" as filler (both so over-used as to become lazy construction).

The "stay here" clue bugged me. It was just wrong. The answer to "stay here" should be the equivalent of the clue, like "sit!" An inn is not a command to stay, as clued, it is a PLACE to stay. I know it was just filler, but still. When you steal my "aha" I get picky.

The only NYTC-is-psychic moment is that my actor friend is talking non-stop about Shakespeare these days, but it didn't feel "ooooh" and Shakespeare is fairly ubiquitous anyway.

Over-all: harrumph.

ArtO 11:25 AM  

Know enough Shakespeare to have scoped out the theme and, once determined, went by fairly quickly. Liked it. Fast time for a Sunday (this means under an hour for me, and today's was closer to 45 minutes...probably 35 more than OFL).

Z 11:27 AM  

PPP Analysis

This is the second time for a theme-induced PPP conundrum. Should I count the 8 themes? Should I count them twice since there are two elements? Or not at all since everybody (hi, @lms) knows Shakespeare?

Looking at the theme answers as not Pop culture, we have 40/142 PPP answers, 28%. This is how the puzzle played for me.

Fairer, IMO, is to count the Proper names in the themers, resulting in 48/142 or 48/150 as the PPP rate. This puts the puzzle into the PPP trouble zone of either 34% or 32%.

Fairest is to view the themers as two Pop culture answers since the solver needs to know both the characters' names and something about them. That's 40 non-theme answers and 16 theme answers out of 150 answers. 56/150, 37%.

Some should find this easy, but this could prove a real challenge to anyone whose Shakespeare education stopped in 9th grade with Romeo and Juliet.

PPP explanation
PPP are clue/answer pairs involving Pop Culture, Product Names, or other Proper nouns. The math is the number of these types of answers divided the word count of the puzzle. Anything in the 25% range is not going to generate much hate. At 33%+ there is a high likelihood that some subset of solvers are going to dislike the puzzle. Which subset will depend on lots of other factors. Early week (easier) puzzles seem less likely to generate hard feelings.

Z 11:32 AM  

@PG Bartlett - My extension cord, for example, has a plug at either end. One plug is male and the other female. See definition 2.1 in the link for another example. (@chaos344 - no staring was involved)

robber 11:34 AM  

Quite enjoyed this one.......once the theme became clear it finished quickly.

'fbomb'...cheeky way to begin ;-), can't see Flo dropping one of those.

and the finish did not elude

thanks David!

puzzle hoarder 11:42 AM  

I'm not a theme fan but this was one I enjoyed. The self referential nature of the theme answers made them an obstacle until I had enough crosses to see where they're were going. Another plus is that there's no gibberish . They are just straight up phrases. 115A doesn't bother me. I've been hearing people describe things as "tiny little" for years.
The fill was challenging enough to make for a nice steady solve. My write overs were ACIDS/MAIDS and FODER/FODOR.
I was completely sure I'd broken my steak of bad luck until I read @anonymous 8:10 and realized ELIDE was a mistake. I've never heard of HAR-TRU. Just another thing to goggle.
I don't know if the commentor originated or not but I really like "gridgate". As I pointed out yesterday I think it's about squeezing out a few more bucks. Just because there's no shortage of people looking to sell their puzzles that's no reason to waste money buying them.
@lms it's hard to tell on a cellphone but that doesn't look like a picture of Roger Moore. I think that's called an avatar. Last year @Rex had a link explaining how to comment so your handle shows up blue. Unfortunately it was like @Lena's
Scandal link from yesterday once you click on it it won't be there when you go back.

Chuck McGregor 11:47 AM  

I’m with the this-was-a-good puzzle crowd and thought the construction was amazing, even if my Shakespeare chops are not great…..actually not even good.

Some people are quite happy being MALCONTENTS, some actually thriving on being one. Ergo it seems there would also be UNHAPPY ones.

Off to play a concert of Ragtime music with my favorite pianist. I hope the audience has good EARs (as clued – “appreciation”). For those in the know,, we play at the original tempos, much slower than those who like to show off their technical chops at breakneck tempos. Doing so the subtle nuances of the often intricate “raggy”* rhythms and harmonies are quickly lost.

The source of the name for the genre.


Roo Monster 11:57 AM  

Hey All !
Shake-a-spear, eh? Heard of 5 out of the 8, so not too shabby for a non-Shakespeare follower. Figured it out already having LEAR in 45A by the Downs. Then saw 115A, and sussed out HAMLET. So, very clever.

Agree with @Sir Hillary on the ABC-ABCD. Ouch, times ten! Maybe rework NE corner? Otherwise, nice SunPuz. Lots of threes, but light on dreck (you're always gonna have some in a 21x21 grid) in such a different kind of theme.

Here also with ELiDE/TRi. Denying M&A out of a U! HAR, Har!


Wm. C. 11:59 AM  

@Babs2:43 --

I'm surprised that no-one has answered your request fo an explanation of 1A and 1D. Anyway --

For 1A, Flo is the longtime TV spokesperson for Progressive insurance. Here she is --

For 1-D, "Dropping an F-Bomb" is an expression meaning using the nasty word "F**K".

cwf 12:00 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. Once again my policy of never reading attached notes paid off. I also enjoyed reading @Z make three interesting and valid points in three comments.

Mohair Sam 12:06 PM  

We loved this one.

And @Z is on the right trail. The two clues disputed for redundancy were fine. Who actually knows an UNHAPPY MALCONTENT? They tend to revel in their MALCONTENTedness. Occupy Wall Street is a great example. I have a nephew who spent two weeks at the first "Occupy" in Manhattan, saw him at Thanksgiving that year - he couldn't stop talking about the great times. Nah, the UNHAPPY was needed to show the exception to the rule. And all ANTAGONISTs ain't EVIL either. What's not to like about anyone who antagonizes Trump (or Hillary for that matter)?

A very different and enjoyable Sunday David Kahn - thank you.

On The Scandal - Saul Pwanson puts 52,000 puzzles in a database and tells us: "when you get the data into a nice, clean, dense form, stuff just falls out of it . . . . . I guess that's the nature of any data set, you find things you'd rather not see."

Amen Saul. Countless finance scandals have been stumbled upon in just that manner. Looks like Cruciverbia may be meeting Wall Street.

chefbea 12:06 PM  

@MattG...I solve with pen on paper but if need be I go to my computer and look at the keyboard

Wm. C. 12:07 PM  

@L10:30 --

A snapshot is a photograph.

Informalizing the words a bit, a "snap" is a "foto."

old timer 12:35 PM  

I thought it was a fine puzzle, made difficult by not giving any clues at all for the themers -- until you had enough circled letters to get the character. Once I got to that point it was clear sailing, if at times a bit of a slog.

OFL should Google "happy malcontent". He'll be surprised at what he comes up with, one a reference to a soldier in a Shakespeare play. My own immediate thought was military, too, to Sgt. Bilko of "The Phil Silvers Show". Bur I think there were (reasonably) happy malcontents in Catch-22, also. Must be a military thing. Or maybe a child-rearing thing. For some of us have had children who were malcontents, but happy withal.

Dragoncat 12:35 PM  

I enjoyed this although It took me a bit to "get" it. The "Casca" answer threw me as I didn't remember the character--thought it was an anagram or related to 21across/Brute. Fluttered about and then Mercutio and Lear set me right. Extra Shakespeare clues appreciated: Brute; Titania and Oberon; Christopher Sly. Great fun.

Z 12:40 PM  

@L - "Snap" as in a "photograph," sometimes written as FOTO.

@anonymous10:37 - I checked on my iPad and there is an "i" button in the upper right. Clicking on that gives the title, constructor, and blurb.

@MattG - I'm in the "any help is a DNF for me" camp. I'm also in the "I don't share my DNFs unless they are of interest." I'm also in the "whatever you're comfortable with" camp. So, if looking makes you feel like a cheater don't look.

@Kimberly - It's not a command. Rather, you need to read it as "(you can) stay here." This one and the non-Capote clue for TRU are sub-optimal in my opinion.

@puzzle hoarder - I do believe our Muse's avatar is the apostle TIMOTHY. The lengths Muse will go to for subtle jokes knows no bounds.

@Chaos344 - if you go to a day game get Tiger Den seats. The upper deck isn't as bad as the New Comiskey, but it's no Tiger Stadium. First base side is always better than the comparable third base side seats. Michigan craft brew is sold behind the right field bleachers. Get your hot dogs from the concourse, they pre-wrap them for the vendors now so they're always mushed.

Nancy 12:42 PM  

O, verily, we have such players here
As trod the boards in high school days of yore,
To them, their schools entrusted precious lines
As written by the great and timeless Bard.

Who knew, ah yes, who knew, our fairest GILL
Had taken on her back the thankless Shrew,
And, lo, imbued her with such baleful spleen,
Thou could'st not help but gasp, were you within
The audience that night. As I was not,
Alas, and then alas again, my friends.

Or did'st thou catch the our own Carola, when
She took upon herself the thankless task
Of playing Casca, treacherous and vile?
For even worse, aye, much, much worse, methinks,
Then playing a villain, odious and scorned,
Is having someone cast you as a man,
When thou be fair and pure as any maid
Who ever graced a stage. O Carola --
Thou should have been Ophelia, 'pon my oath!
And would'st that I had been thy drama coach,
I would have found a juicy female part
To show thy charms. For Carola, I swear,
An equal wrong was visited on me,
Although, forsooth, t'was not a speaking role,
But male it was, forever to my shame,
Such sins of casting cannot be forgot,
And thus I say to Miss MacKay of yore:
Be all they sins remembered!

kitshef 12:47 PM  

Way hard for a Sunday here. Just a ton of answers that need most, or in some cases, all crosses to get. These included all the themers plus HUS, IDA, TRU, IFC, SLY, OSSA, MAE, IONE. In other words, the long acrosses and a lot of the little words you can often use to break into an area.

AGS????? Haven't read the board yet, but I'm hoping someone has explained that one.

Nice puzzle, theme worked for me, nice finish to a very solid week.

Share @Rex's scorn for ONLINECHAT, as clued.

Off to listed to Rocket to Russia now.

Andrew Heinegg 12:52 PM  

I didn't care much for this one but, I lay most of the 'blame' for my disliking it at the feet of the puzzle's structure. As others including OFL have noted, unhappy malcontent is just awful. Despite Mr. Macgregor's comments, malcontent is a per se description of the individual as being unhappy. Otherwise, they would be content. Macabre Thane is likewise an inaccurate description of Macbeth. His damning characteristic was his desire for power, not a desire to commit or an interest in gruesome or grisly acts. All in all, it wasn't great but it wasn't godawful. I do think Rex was pretty gentle in his evaluation.

kitshef 1:00 PM  

Computer glitch just as I was posting, so I'm not sure if my comment went through. In case it does, you can ignore my AGS question - figured it out once I 'doh'ed "Loretta Lynch, not Loretta Lynn".

Fred Romagnolo 1:13 PM  

@Oldtimer: re yesterday, I went to Bryant Grammar School which was quite close to the Roosevelt Tamale Parlor in the '40s, so it was my intro to Mexican food; I infinitely preferred the enchiladas to the tamales. As to today's puzz: hat's off to David J Kahn! I loved it. I had the same initial reaction to UNHAPPY MALCONTENT, but this blog offers a reasonable explanation for its inclusion, especially in reference to trolls. My only drawback is 1 down, I guess I'm too much of a prig to welcome it in a NYT X-word. I was unfamiliar with the term, I always use "word" instead of BOMB. Is Flo that really God-awful 101 Across with the white suit and black hair? I always figure Flo for a waitress at Mel's.

nick 1:41 PM  

Lots of fun for a Sunday -- really enjoyed this one. As a casual amateur (daily solver but not a student of the form) I'm more forgiving than Rex.

Theme weakness bothers me a lot less than the sins of hoary pop culture or willful trivia density.

phil phil 2:35 PM  

@Z @PG Bartlett is correct but common use often interchanges plug for socket. The referred to def is in error not indicating that definition as such usage. Check out electrical catalogues, male and female is not always used. Socket and plug differentiates 'connectors'.
Clue is questionable to me too.

phil phil 2:42 PM  

I don't have a problem with the redunts as much as some here.
Iago was an evil malcontent who was happy being so.
Hamlet was not happy at all with the events causing his discontent.

Melodious Funk 2:50 PM  

Apropos of nothing related to today's puzzle, some may be interested in this:


Gracie H 3:01 PM  

Skimming through the comments, I still don't see an answer to the question "where is the blurb"? Did it accompany the puzzle online or in print? Never saw it...

mac 3:19 PM  

I can't remember when I enjoyed a Sunday puzzle this much. I was actually unhappy when it was finished so soon.... Normally I prefer three Fridays or Saturdays, but this one shone.

I had most trouble with the Banquo answer, but it all worked out.

Hugh 4:37 PM  

I had fun with this, mostly agreed with Rex other than the fact that I did not mind UNHAPPYMALCONTENT at all, I thought it was cute. As Chuck McGregor pointed out, I'm sure there are plenty of people who are happy being malcontents :o) I think I may even know a few....or maybe even be married to one! So it stands that there may be both Unhappy and happy ones

Got the theme with Banquo and then most of it fell pretty quickly (for me). DNF as AFRAMES just would not come to me, I stared at those squares for the longest time and...nothing.

There wasn't anything that stood out all that much (though I did chuckle at FBOMBS) but I liked the solve well enough and definitely respect what it must have taken to create this one (well, all of them...)

All in all, a pleasant Sunday romp.

Have a great week all!

Nancy 4:42 PM  

@lms (7:21 a.m.) -- I fervently hope that your thyroid-challenged friend doesn't read this blog! And you don't even write under a pseudonym.

Also, who's the exceedingly handsome guy you're using as your new avatar? Is he someone famous I should know? Or is he, by any chance, your very own husband? Drool.

Nancy 4:46 PM  

Re: my 12:21 comment: It should have been: Be all THY sins remembered. Rats!

beatrice 5:06 PM  

@Lewis - nice comment!

@AliasZ - as usual, great choice! I've loved this ballet forever (in the bard's day, when PBS aired entire ballets, an 'early music' friend heard as it came on and pronounced it horrible, not music. I was dumbfounded - I'd loved it since the first time I heard it. To each his own, of course).

Between the bombardment of 3-letter Xwordese and an other-wise mostly blank grid at the end of the 1st Across round, I was all set to hate this - which I usually do when fill is sacrificed for some lame theme. The exceptions to this are rare, but once I started getting more interesting clues and answers on the Downs, I thought perhaps this boded well. Only when I arrived at the SCHEMER answer did the light come on - and I was won over instantly. For me Kahn puzzles tend to fall one way or the other - I either lov'em or hate'em. This one I loved, loved, loved. Hard to do, especially on a Sunday. So Mr. Kahn, all is forgiven.

Agree with some others - redundant phrases can serve to emphasize, and at least partly describe the melancholy Dane. For me the most compromised themer was for Macbeth - the play itself is indeed MACABRE, but he himself seems more of a weak reed who falls at the hands(!) of his SCHEming and ruthless wife. But it tickled me, and of course, it's probably the only word that would have worked. And the word is quite evocative - my first Macbeth was the film with Judith Anderson and Maurice Evans - and macabre it is. (I saw it in the theater, not on TV - I'm sure that was the better way to see it!) Perhaps some here saw it - for the rest, it's available on YouTube, and here it is.

Musically, MACABRE brings one name to mind - Don Carlo Gesualdo, born two years after today's honoree. Perhaps the most apt of his works are the Tenebrae, musical depictions of the Passion narrative. Here is the the second one.

Berselius 5:23 PM  

I loved this puzzle, though didn't get the Pavlovian music because of ELiDE vs ELUDE. WTF is Har-Tru?

Mama Karma 5:33 PM  

I enjoyed recalling my college Shakespeare for this one and found it both entertaining and just about right in terms of degree of difficulty.

But can someone please explain 66D (tag end) and 121A (part of a legend)?

Jon 5:43 PM  

Not that bad for a Sunday puzzle, some had me thinking, pencilled some in that I thought was too obviously correct, didn't think I was going to be correct (fodor/arch/ahems/etc)... though keep seeing era/eon/ang (lee), mice over and over again these days. cute seeing fbomb...i am new to regularly doing the puzzle and amazed in the short span how many times i've seen ass (not in donkey) used. though the really long horizontal ones required me to get a LOT going down, still easier than last thursdays with the music theme, whch was fun, but im not a real rebus fan (and i play piano and trumpet!)

Carola 6:56 PM  

See me lie here at thy feet, agape,
As pentameter doth tripple from thy tongue!
In present parlance, "floored" would be the word.
In fairness, though, I must divulge the truth:
Our troupe of players ~ each a blushing pearl:
CAESAR and assassins ~ every one a girl.

jberg 7:51 PM  

@Gracie H -- in the paper, the blurb is right under the byline. I don't solve online, so I can't help you with that.

And speaking of that -- I think when you are learning crosswords, thinks like internet searches or looking at a keyboard can help you progress; I wouldn't call them cheating. You may or may not reach a point where you enjoy it more if you don't do searches.

I got here very late in the day -- we went away for the weekend, but found the NYT on the porch when we got home this evening -- so everything else has been said already.

Z 8:04 PM  

@phil phil - Of course! Why would anyone ever accept a definition from the people who created the Oxford English Dictionary? They're a group of well known descriptivist slackers. They probably spell tamal with an E.

Leapfinger 10:15 PM  

Are we still open for business? 'Pologies for not having finished all fourscore (or so) incisive insights and perspectives above. Lots of material today!!

Would SHAPELY MALCONTENT be better? Some of the most attractive people seem to complain the most, and HAMLET always looked pretty good in his tights and bodkin. On a good day, there's even a case for UNHAPPY MALCONTENT: how about the complainer who's run out of things to moan about? I apologize for being an apologist, but I just really liked the meta of the concept, and was doubly pleased because I caught it early with a LEAR sine nota. Nope, not being a hotdog; my app just doesn't do Notes. What Shakespeare I know was picked up in haphazard fashion along the way, but I know exactly where I came across BANQUO: Reading Little Women when I was in my early TENS. The sisters would stage dramatic scenes in their attic, and Jo always wanted the juicy parts that let her moan dramatically or dress up with a dagger and buskins.

Bits that bit (some dust):
EPISTLE before TIMOTHY. At least I knew it wasn't 2 Corinthinians
'Some cleaners' were ACIDS before they were MAIDS. [What? No outcry about gendered servitude?]
GOROGUE: thought that was a SEMI-soft French cheese made with EWE's milk

Don't start me on MRIs for detecting breaks, or I'll be making @Chuck McG look downright laconic.

Bits with bite:
(as noted) Sara's Saran SARONG
FAT CATS crossing ORRIN HATCH, with backup from the Lhasa apso twins
The track runner, which I figured was TRAIN but would've liked UsAIN Bolt
The potential in a MALAY mêlée in the rainy SONMOON season
"Don't be GRUEL", admonishing that MEALY polenta
@Sir Hillary's closing line: fraught with moxie!

Thought the sharpest themer was MACABRE_THANE. Why the Dickens does that just beg to be Mister_MACABRE? That's quite a RYE bit of SATYR. The biggest problem with a theme like this is The Tempestation it offers: with the myriad Shakespearean characters, it's hard not to try to play along. Not earth-shakingly specific to come up with CHARMING ELF, and I'm guessing BUSHY_EARLOCKS would go over like a lead balloon. No need to try Rosenkranz or Guildenstern to separate the wheat from the chaff, is there?

So Thanks, DJKahn, for your's wheat.

kitshef 10:35 PM  

@Gracie H - I subscribe to the online version at, but print it out and solve on paper. It appears just under the title on the printout.

If you don't print it out, it appears in a box called "Note", again just under the title.

If you use and app or get the print version, I can't help.

puzzle hoarder 11:00 PM  

@Z, so that is a picture of . Timothy Dalton. The hair gave it away l just couldn't think of the name. If I'd left the site to goggle it I'd have lost everything I'd typed in. Referring to him as the "apostle Timothy" is a new one to me.

phil phil 1:15 AM  

Can't copy paste it but
The blurb was
The across answers were clues to the names in the circled cells.

Mama Karma 8:52 AM  

AGs - attorneys general.

Leapfinger 9:05 AM  

@Mama Karma, we late birds have to look out for each other: (i) the last position in TAG is occupied by a ____ (GEE whiz!), and (ii) every good map will have a legend at the bottom that explains its notations and includes the SCALE, eg, 1"=200 mi.

@Nancy and @Carola, WOW!!! Loved you-guys' impressive iambs!

Am aGHaST that nobody referenced the sing-song Saint-Saëns Danse MACABRE today. Too low-brow for this company, I expect, but I loved its wild abandon when HS Music class first introduced us.

Praying for more Sundays like this one.

Lizanne 9:17 AM  

Progressive insurance lady in white...

Anonymicmass 9:20 AM  

TIMOTHY Standardunitforatomicmass. Har.

Chronic dnfer 9:48 AM  

Don't know Shakespeare. Hated puzzle.

Tita 10:07 AM to your solitaire story! My 92 yr-old puzzleboard-making mom has a 10 minute rule...that's all the time you get to talk about your condition. After everyone gets to unload their goiters and tremors, it's on to real conversation...

I don't read the cheats...unless I am totally stumped. This puzzle ran hard for me, but once I caught the theme, it did help in the solve. Even though I am not as up on The Bard as I ought to be...!

Went to The Met for a tour on what happens to art once it leaves the artist's hands. Really thought-provoking.
I just sold my dad's Royal Quiet Deluxe portable typewriter on Craig's List to a young law student at Columbia, and agreed to schlep it into NY by making a day of it. Was very happy to see this really beautiful object go to someone who will keep on using it for poems and letters.

Somewhat relevant, as the docent stressed objects that were created not as display art, but as utilitarian...and how those things are changed dramatically once they are released into the wild.

Chronic dnfer 5:24 PM  

Don't know Shakespeare. Hated puzzle.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

This was a clunky clue. Snap is short for snapshot. Foto is a variant of photo shortened from the Italian word, fotografia.

Burma Shave 11:16 AM  


(he was an UNHAPPYMALCONTENT in his HAMLET, for that matter).


Anthony 11:28 AM  

I continue to go rogue, was convinced of so long instead of sarong.

rondo 12:10 PM  

So that advanced H.S. lit class finally paid off. If that’s what you want to call it. And I’ve seen most of these as movies and/or plays. The most notable was in Odessa, Ukraine - a one-act version of Hamlet with the characters as a biker gang and spoken completely in Russian/Ukrainian. My date (and LOVEINTEREST) Natasha was impressed afterwards when I pointed out what bumblers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were. I can tell you THAT paid off. Like seven times MOORE.

Wonderin’ what @spacey might ay about FBOMB and AFRAMES.

Easy call on today’s yeah baby and it is most definitely not LAURA Bush. It’s Dr. MAE Jemison for her accomplishments and being a hottie at the same time back in her astronaut days. Yeah baby!

Mel Blanc – best VOICEACTOR ever IMHO. I was planning a thesis on the difference in cartoons from the Leon Schlesinger era through Fritz Freleng, et al., as compared to the change in American lifestyle in post-WWII USA. Never completed the Master’s. 

Not a big fan of this type of puz, almost as grating as two or more consecutive RAMONES tunes. I’m a bigger fan of STEELIE [sic] Dan and straight up puzzles.

spacecraft 12:10 PM  

@chronic drifter: perhaps that's why you are one. Anyway, welcome to DST, syndilanders! Did you remember to spring forward?

OFL hit all the points I was going to make; once in a while we are in sync. Had a near DNF in the SE because I naturally wrote Car for "One carrying a toon." Thus 108-down became EroDE, and what do I know about tennis surfaces? I know they play the French Open on clay (the French always strive to be different, whatever the cost), and Wimbledon on what's supposed to be grass but is mostly dirt in the middle. But "Har-whatever?" A big fat huh??? So I had NA_DY for the unhip guy, had to change it to NERDY, and so CEL, ELUDE, and done. Man, that was close.

Still, mostly easy-medium. Lots of obscurities: I'm sure both of you who habitually watch foreign-language films knew IDA; the rest of us did not. One spot, square 19, was actually a natick for me, but I wrote in "F" for some subliminal reason, and it was right. But HUS? Pure crosses, baby. And who the hell knows where Borah Peak is--except IDAHOans?

As much as I dislike uber-obscure fill, I like hackneyed and crutch fill even less. ELOI 1,796, Morlocks 2. SSTS, anyone? And what's with ABC and ABCD in the same grid? Going once, going twice--hey, there's an ABCDE! Thank you. F, anyone? How about an FBOMB? Now that, at least, is fresh! The theme is no big deal; you can fit names inside phrases till the cows come home. At least it was classed up via The Bard. How about "FALl guy on the king's STAFF?" Meh. C.

spacecraft 12:12 PM  

Sorry, I misread the handle, @chronic dnfer. The sentiment still holds--even more so.

rondo 12:15 PM  

@anon 12:23 - Or Swedish v. FOTOgrafera or n. FOTO, whereas HUS is straight Swedish for house.

rondo 3:23 PM  

@spacey - this is not the first time we've hit the same posting time. And today we almost did it twice!

leftcoastTAM 5:04 PM  

Fun and fair, and worth the extra time it usually takes on a Sunday.

I with Rex on his redundancy rant on Hamlet, the UNHAPPYMALCONTENT.

I stared hard at SCALE as "Part of a legend," and I'm still mulling it. It also took time to see GOROGUE and AUTOSTRADA, both of which crossed ELDERLYMONARCH, which was the last themer to go in.

Now to get back to other Sunday pleasures.

leftcoastTAM 6:12 PM  

OK, "part of a legend" on a map=SCALE.

Cathy 6:51 PM  

I cannot believe I couldn't come up with FLO. Spokesperson in tv insurance ads. I know it said person, but could only think of the duck and the gecko. Had the _L_. Has Ali been pitching ads lately? Left there and bounced around until I figured Shakespearean theme. Uh oh. This is going to be all about the crosses. Pounded away then threw in the towel without checking back on FLO. Came here, saw FLO and immediately thought "kiss my grits" FLO. What is wrong me? I even like most of the commercials. Especially when she plays all the members of her family. Meat sweats. And I missed out on FBOMB. Damn.

Diana,LIW 8:01 PM  

I was not happy with this puzzle, but it may be because of my bad mood over the paper not being delivered AGAIN. Sent a nasty email to the circulation dept, and got a prompt call back. Then one paper by noon, and one some time later.

Yes, I think that's it, now that I look over the completed puzzle. I liked the theme and the conceit. My first Shakespeare play was The Tempest at Princeton's McCarter Theater - a field trip in 8th grade. Didn't understand it, but I was hooked. (A lot like my puzzle solving experiences.) Then was an English major in undergrad school, so met the Bard a few times again.

In retrospect, this was another one of those satisfying/stinky puzzles - some fine clues and answers, too many unknown names. I liked the unclued aspect of the themers. And then there was...EELED. Really?

Satisfying/stinky - need a name for that. Fpoof? More likely Fpoot!

@Rondo from yesterday - the "Dick and Jane" cat was Puff, not Frisky. Hence the irony of a dog named Puff. And yes, the first word was look. I can still see my teacher holding up that word on a flash card.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a Monday clean solve - and a paper delivered on time

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

@PG Bartlett and @phil phil have it right: a plug is always male. One plugs a thing INTO (not onto or over) something else. The receptacle that a plug plugs into is a (reciprocally, always female) socket. This simple fact remains true, one can only hope, regardless of the fact that some persons use the language imprecisely and as a result confuse the two functions; and also regardless of the fact that the incorrect usage has regrettably found its way into some online dictionaries.

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