Sobriquet for ardent Boston fans / SUN 4-17-16 / Prophet whose name means deliverance / La saison chaude / PI in old slang / Seasoned pork sausage informally / River past Orsk / Poetic shades

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: "Expanded Worldview" — a puzzle that riffs on GOOGLE EARTH (113A: *Popular app that can view any of the places named at the ends of the answers to the starred clues), with the last words in being things you can see using the app, starting with the smallest (HOUSE) and progressively zooming out to the largest (EARTH) (wait, can GOOGLE EARTH see the whole EARTH? Cameras in space? God's-eye-view? Cool)

Theme answers:
  • ANIMAL HOUSE (23A: *1978 movie in which Kevin Bacon made his film debut)
  • ON EASY STREET (32A: *Having it made)
  • STUMBLING BLOCK (48A: *Progress preventer)
  • "SEX AND THE CITY" (68A: *1990s-2000s HBO hit)
  • COMMUNIST STATE (84A: *Laos or Vietnam)
  • RED SOX NATION (101A: *Sobriquet for ardent Boston fans)
Word of the Day: CHINUA Achebe (3D: Achebe who wrote "Things Fall Apart") —
Chinua Achebe (/ˈɪnwɑː əˈɛbɛ/, born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) was considered his magnum opus, and is the most widely read book in modern African literature. (wikipedia)
• • •


Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament Champion, Howard Barkin! He hardly ever constructs, so this is a timely treat. I flew through this puzzle so fast that I had no idea what the theme was, but now that I look at it, I do like how it zooms out, and how the revealer is also part of the zooming sequence. It would've been cool if the theme-related words could've been used, in their answers, in non-theme-related context, but I'm not sure how you "hide" words like HOUSE and STREET. Well, DELLA STREET. How 'bout FUGUE STATE? I mean, you've got FUGUE in there already, so ...? But honestly I think the theme answers are just fine. The longer Acrosses, also decent (ONE-SEATER, TIME-LAPSE). Fill-wise, things felt a bit creaky, but not many things made me wince (though that IDIO-/EDUC. section in the SW is purty rough). I laughed when I put in what I thought was a pretty bad answer (ABEAM) only to find out the actual answer was worse (AGRIN). ABEAM has an actual, nautical meaning. I don't know what AGRIN's excuse is, but its very existence did, eventually, make me (a) grin. GFS feels pretty weak, though GF is certainly a common enough text-abbr. Not fond of THE A as a partial (120A: "___-Team"). I had -HEA and honestly thought "Oh god, please don't tell me there's some old term for the Mets called 'SHEA-Team!'"? And there wasn't, but I almost wish there was.

 [2016 champion Howard Barkin hugs 2001 champion Ellen Ripstein]

I knew LOOIES, but man, every time I look at it, it looks like it's got one too many vowels. Really hesitated in putting all of them into the grid.  I had a few other weird hiccups. Like BESEEM for BE SEEN (14D: Appear). Like ABEAM, BESEEM is in fact a word (meaning "seem" or "befit"), though it is archaic. I studied Chaucer for a long time, so I figure I picked it up that way. I misspelled HEDREN because how in the world are you supposed to remember that last vowel (97D: Star of Hitchcock's "The Birds"). I went with "O," which is how you spell the Tippi HADRON Collider (after you also change the first vowel to "E"). I have to throw a flag and call a Scrabble-f*&^ing penalty on that "J" in the SW corner, though. Sure, we all love JOLT, but the cost is a name part (TAJ) instead of an actual word. "B" is clearly the better letter there: gives you two actual words with infinite cluing possibilities instead of one such word and then a name *part* with highly limited cluing possibilities. Five yards. Repeat 2nd down.


LOL at AANDE, which I now find sad without an "ON" appended to the front. Seriously, as I mentioned yesterday, that LAT Friday puzzle had ONAANDE as an answer. I will never tire of talking of this. It's so outlandishly bad it has left the bad-o-sphere and gone into orbit. I think I'm all done with this one. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

74 comments:

kitshef 12:13 AM  

As I waded through all them tiny words, waiting for it to be over, I was thinking ‘the theme better be great to make for all this’. It wasn’t, but it was darn close.

The tail end of COMMUNISTSTATE was the last themer in, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what could fall between CITY and COUNTRY, as thanks to the clue for STATE I’m thinking STATE in the sense of ‘nation’.

So that part was fun, everything else was just ... dull. Except when it was irritating (see CHINUA and AANDE and AGRIN and EBONS and MMDX and EDUC and IDIO and ENUF and LOOIES and THEA and RIS and USEON and SCOOB and WEGOT (but yay! for the Go-Go’s!).

It's a pity 'continent' couldn't have been worked in as a themer, but we did get ASIA.

jae 2:11 AM  

Yes, very easy. Breezy theme with some rough spots, but it should be friendly to beginning solvers.

George Barany 5:51 AM  

Absolutely thrilled to see the first New York Times Sunday byline of my friend (and everyone else's friend, it seems!) @Howard Barkin. Lovely, gracious review by @Rex.

What can I add? When my daughter Deborah started at Hamilton College, all incoming freshmen were given CHINUA Achebe's book to read. Had I but paid attention to the exact spelling of his name, the northwest corner of the puzzle might have been easier ... took me longer than I would like to give up on ENOW (sic) and get to the correct ENUF. Nice trivia on ANIMAL_HOUSE, made me think of Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath numbers. Interestingly, GFS is a New York Times debut word.

Curiosity question: how many words, like LIAISE and LOOIES, have four consecutive vowels?

Bob Kerfuffle 6:01 AM  

I can't help being influenced by knowing the identity of the constructor, and therefore felt that an apt description of this puzzle is "gentle," in keeping with the pleasant and congenial champion Howard Barkin.

If we must have some nits, I might question the sequence HOUSE, STREET, BLOCK, CITY, . . . . In many cities, we would refer to a location as being "in the 400's BLOCK of Main STREET," e.g. So should BLOCK come before STREET in our Expanding Worldview?

Bob Kerfuffle 6:08 AM  

BTW, not quite four months away now, and registration is open for Lollapuzzoola 9, which will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2016 (that's a Saturday in August) in Manhattan. You can read about it or sign up at:

http://www.bemoresmarter.com/

'mericans back in Paris 6:44 AM  

Just back from Latin America (where we didn't see any NACHO chips; no SEABASS either) and China (a COMMUNIST STATE in ASIA), so welcomed a puz with none too many a STUMBLING BLOCK. Got the theme early on, but didn't notice the zooming-out progression until coming here.

DNF because we guessed ARe crossing AeNDE (at least a personal Natick), and wrote SnAG in answer to "Fetches". Of course that gave "nOSEA" as a prophet, but we're not exactly prophet groupies. Never knew that "SHAG" was a baseball term; were only familiar with it as a verb in the sense used in the comedy espionage film, "The Spy who SHAGged me".

Wondered if Mr. Barkin is running a hidden personal ad. DESIRES SEX IN THE CITY: LOVE [to] SHAG GFS' REAR ENDS IN DEPTH.

BTW, can ONE'S EATER OVER-EAT?

ENUF.

chefwen 6:45 AM  

I was hoping beyond hope that AGRIN was going to prove to be wrong. Alas...

Pretty darn easy one. After HOUSE and STREET 113A was practically handed to you. Our only problem area was in the NW where I had ENou at 30A, puzzle partner grabbed at the U and filled in uv lens at 31D which gave us nothing to work with. Changed my ENou to enow, guess how much that helped. ENUF finally popped into my brain and boom, we were done.

Clever theme and puzzle, just a wee bit too easy.

Lewis 6:50 AM  

@rex -- Hand up for BESEEm.
@Z -- Looking like a low PPP to me, but I'm not totally sure.

There is much to like here. The grid design is beautifully well connected, with some appealing answers: IMAMESS, PUTSCH, LGBT (sigh, I live in North Carolina), BELTOUT, and AUJUS. Enjoyable clue for SARI. An original theme (why hasn't anyone thought of this before?).

On the other hand, there's a fair amount of crosswordese (I have a conservative count of seven). But most importantly, the cluing is too direct for Sunday. The cluing is Tuesday easy; the puzzle felt like an oversized Tuesday, and it fell lightning fast. This puzzle would have been special if Will/Joel would have ramped up and cleverized the cluing, I believe. I don't think it was simply a case of being perfectly in my wheelhouse.

So for the first time I just Googled the address of our four-year-old house, and clicked on "images". It has photos of a large number of our neighbors' houses, but we haven't arrived yet. At first I felt indignant, but now I like it; it's like I'm living in a cabin in the woods that nobody knows about.

chefbea 7:27 AM  

Easy puzzle...finally. Couldn't do the last four puzzles this week. Finished this last night and had to wait until this morning to come here. Another win for Howard Barkin!!!

Aketi 7:34 AM  

No major STUMBLING BLOCKs to finding ANSWERS except for falling asleep on my iPad. So I BREACHED a new record for longest solve time. Wish there was some sort of TIME LAPSE sensor that would turn off the timer when you fall asleep doing puzzles.

Liked the vertical IBEXES and IBISES.

Tried to photograph some of my teammates who competed in an international Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament last weekend, With 10 FIGHTS going on simultaneously on one giant mat, it was hard to get close enough to photograph anything, They thought it was hilarious that i only managed to get shots of their REARENDS. FYI @Chefs, Anthony Bourdain (who is a year older than I am) won a gold at the tournament in his age, weight and belt class.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

I so look forward to Sunday puzzles...something clever? Punny? Thought provoking? Not today!!! I refused to look at the revealer, that's how I entertained myself...straight-forward answers...nothing, and I mean nothing, clever here....my only consolation?...nothing e-related

Loren Muse Smith 8:15 AM  

Rex – I held off on that vowel in HEDREN until I got GREEN.

DAPHNE could've been cross-referenced with SCOOB. And SHAGS is there, too. I could hear some stoner dude calling him that.

I liked seeing BLOWTORCH. I've said before, this is part of my husband's go-to items for doing handy-man things around the house. BLOW TORCH, caulk gun, sixteen-penny nails (and recently, mystifyingly, vise grips).

I can't be the only one whose attraction to Las Vegas was "lights" first.

"hay" before TIN
"scat" before SHOO
"tbs" before TCM
"dygyts/tyoga" before DIGITS/TIOGA. Just kidding. I've gotta get over that cross from the ACPT.

I agree that LOOIES looks loonie. But look at that cross: LOOIES/LIAISE. @George - I love me some vowel pile-ups. I actually led withy "lootes" there. (Lieuts?)

Rex - I don't expend a lot of energy theorizing why you like or don't like a puzzle. I used to be dismayed if I really liked one that you panned. I felt kinda stupid. I'm understanding now, though, that the whole take is subjective. Whatever the case, I enjoyed your smack-down of those anonymice yesterday who said you liked the puzzle 'cause Zhou was a buddy. Even though you're moderating comments now, you still post the ridiculous ones that proclaim all sorts of crazy insider stuff about you.

I wonder if that grammar meanie is still trying to swoop in and save us all from ourselfs? The WE GOT had me thinking about that. Who knows – maybe they've graduated to frequenting dinner parties, waiting to pounce when someone leaves their soup spoon in the bowl rather than on the saucer. Or maybe they're not invited to dinner parties anymore.

Liked OVEREAT crossing BLOB. Been there, done that. BELT OUT a couple more notches. Pass that SEA BASS, why dontcha.

I agree that one of the cool things about this is the progression from small to big. I think I'd have preferred the order to go from big to small, though, as that's the order that's been my experience looking up my house. For around here, I would start with EARTH and end in TRUCK, though. That's what everyone around here likes to see in the end.

Easy, accessible Sunday. Liked the theme. And any puzzle featuring ANIMAL HOUSE is a winner in my book.

Aketi 8:19 AM  

@MandA, my face couldn't help bursting into A GRiN at HAIRDO when I thought of your spouse's alternative to VANITY FERRET. There are some amusing looking "locks" out there.

Geometricus 8:29 AM  

Had the whole thing done before I went to bed last night, but could not see my error. Finally found I had thought Sue Grafton or whatever wrote a real mystery: "S is for Ricochet."

John McKnight 8:33 AM  

maybe this was a victory lap for howard? congratulations on the win, but this is not a real crossword puzzle, its like a big usa today puzzle without the plagiarism.

Norm C. 8:38 AM  

@George Barany - I don't know how many words have four consecutive vowels but QUEUEING has five. It's (to me) a beautiful word.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

ANIMAL HOUSE (23A) was a gimme, but I spent way too much time believing in the cross of NINEAM (2D) with INTEL (1A). It's amazing how long you can deny other obvious solutions out of sheer stubbornness.

NCA President 8:54 AM  

Small personal announcement of sorts: tomorrow I'm leaving Nashville and moving toward NYC via a couple of summer gigs close to the city. If you're in or near Woodstock VT in April/May, come see Cats!...I'll be the elderly guy in the pit playing second keys. After that, I'm off to Chatham, NY for the summer to play at the Mac-Haydn theater. Lots of great shows there this summer. Then the plan is to move to the city and work there. I'm excited about it, and a bit nostalgic...I've lived in Nashville for 20+years, raised a family, made a pretty decent dent in the city as a musician...so it's hard to just let it all go. But hey, NYC! If I can make it there....

And to whom it may concern, I will continue to use my moniker "NCA President" which stands for the Nashville Composers Association which I founded. So, I do carry with me a relic of the past 20 years into the promised land.

/crass personal announcement

So, clearly this puzzle pales in comparison to the adventure I'm poised to embark on. #IAMAMESS

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I was okay with TAJ standing alone - I've heard several friends from India referring to it that way ("my class took a trip to see the Taj when we were little," "my friend and I travelled to the Taj on holiday"), so that didn't bother me.

ENUF, on the other hand: No, no, no.

Z 9:29 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said. RRNs have virtually disappeared from the NYTX, so today's MMDX didn't grate too much. There was some creaky ese, IBISES, IBEXES, ESAI, but considering the size of the grid it didn't overwhelm.

Most of you probably realize this, but GOOGLE EARTH is a stand alone app, it is not what you are using when you look for an address in a web browser.

@Lewis - that was my impression, so I was surprised when I toted up the numbers. We'll have to see if this is a wheelhouse/outhouse issue and if others struggle.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns as a percentage of answers. When the percentage is 33% or more the puzzle is likely to play unfairly for some group of solvers

46/140, 33%
An * indicates the PPPness is from the clue

Tillie OLSEN
The BLOB
SHAQ
*NOOSE
LGBT
ANIMAL HOUSE
*TIN
MBA
ESAI Morales
*FIGHTS
HOSEA
BARI
ARES
Non-GMO
SEX AND THE CITY (Not "Sex in the Upper Deck")
RENOIR
*R IS For Ricochet
RED SOX NATION
GOOGLE EARTH
THE A-Team
A AND E

CHINUA Achebe
SOUSA
ABE
LIONEL Richie
ENTS
ELBA
WE GOT The Beat
T-BIRDS
SKA
TORMÉ
NASA
CALI
SCOOB
TCM
EDUC
El NINO
URAL
Tippi HEDREN
DAPHNE
SUSIE
TIOGA
SEGA
TAJ Mahal
MEL
ARA Pacis

Roo Monster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
At first thought, "All this is is images from GOOGLE EATRH?" But when I got here and Rex 'splained that it was expanding outward theme-wise, felt a little better about it. I do see how it might be difficult to get symmetrical themers.

Agree with easy rating. Though a few things, nit-wise. WERENT as clued,tense seems off. Enough with ENUF! GFS, ugh. Not really liking IBEXES and IBISES, but not sure why. Some writeovers, eRoS-ARES, writ-RISE, Gal-GFS, atHAND-iNHAND. DNF on that one and PUTSCs/sEXA. And how many put in lIGHTS for Vegas attractions first?

So, not too shabby, SCOOB.

YOWL
RooMonster
DarrinV

Loren Muse Smith 9:33 AM  

@George – your query had me remembering this beaut by Julian Lim. The vowel pile-ups aren't all in one word, but still...

jberg 9:45 AM  

I liked it OK, with two small cavils. First, as @kitshef pointed out, STATE as clued means NATION, or at least something nation-sized, so that seemed wrong.

Second, CALI, THEA, and RIS as partials when they are all perfectly good words. We had THEA in a clue the other day, cluing her mother GAEA, but it could have been fake reversed with "child of Uranus," or something.

I had no idea (still don't) about TCM, but the crossed forced it. But I have to confess that i put in Tillie OLS_N while I waited for the crosses to fill it in, and then forgot to go back.

Isn't ONAANDE a South African novelist?

Nancy 9:48 AM  

There wasn't a single STUMBLING BLOCK in this quite easy puzzle, and almost no TIME LAPSE involved in solving it. I EXITED it a short time after entering. Though my DESIRES tend to be for more challenge on a Sunday, I won't YOWL. While it didn't rise to the APEX of puzzledom, nor JOLT me with clever surprises, nor STIR my curiosity, nor provide any sort of TEASE, I accept it AS IS. Pleasant ENUF, and a chance to LIAISE with all of you.

Chuck McGregor 10:18 AM  

Unlike yesterday’s total bust for me, only one cheat (TIOGA, never heard of it) got me to an otherwise error-free finish.

Very cool theme with lovely long answers; all in-the-language names and phrases. However, I do have one minor quibble with it, contrary to @Rex (and agreeing with @LMS). Using GOOGLE EARTH one would zoom in to see a HOUSE. Given that, if the order of the “ends” as they appear were reversed (top to bottom), this would mimic this action. That is to say, the app starts from a high vantage point seeing the1/2 the EARTH and zooms down to a low one to see a HOUSE. That would have been the icing on the cake.

That aside, the app’s last name cleverly does double duty, also serving as the starting point view in the app, i.e, seeing the EARTH first. I should also note that Windows 10 has deprecated “programs,” now calling them “apps,” so the clue is up-to-date.

I ‘m sure some will not like CALI. My son has a cat so-named because he used to live in California. So that made CALI OK for me.

I’m also sure IBISES and IBEXES will rankle the anonymous troll (1:27 PM) from yesterday who, hopefully, is true to his/her word and has switched blogs. Loved @Martin’s and @Rex’s smack downs to same.

For 6a I would have put in “Them” except for the “the” in the clue. At a tender age in 1955, before today’s ratings would have permitted me to do so, “Them” was the first horror flick I ever saw in a cinema. Notable cast members included: James Whitmore, Fess Parker, James Arness, and Leonard Nimoy.

20a: Around that time, my older sister was reading the book. I first learned about this when she let out a blood-curdling scream in response to something in the book that “got” to her. I rushed upstairs to her room, fearing something awful had happened to her, finding this was not so. I subsequently read it and saw the movie, so NOOSE was a gimme. A brilliantly crafted story from Ms. Christie and my all-time favorite horror flick along with the movie “The Innocents.” This was based on Henry James’, “The Turn of the Screw.” Critics called the movie (Wiki) “one of the best psychological thrillers ever made.” I absolutely agree. Truman Capote is credited by one source as writing “90%” of the screenplay.

The other top one on my list of best psychological thrillers is the made for TV movie, “The Duel,” (1971). This was directed by the relatively unknown at the time Steven Spielberg, starring Dennis Weaver in a masterful, virtually solo performance. Several sources consider it “the greatest TV movie ever made.” (Wiki) Because of it and for the rest of her life, my mom would freak out every time a big rig would show up close behind her car.

@NCA President: It is great to hear of and best of good fortune with your new musical adventures!! I’ll be thinking of you with my own upcoming theatrical endeavor (“Music Man” in which I’m playing bass) and let you know if a BASS SAX (per the score) shows up in the pit :>)

Cheers

Norm 10:26 AM  

Good lord, this was a boring puzzle.

Charles Flaster 10:27 AM  

Extremely, overly EZ until one misstep at
GMO crossing USE ON.
Themers were straightforward withANIMAL HOUSE my favorite.

@NANCY--my father told me I also saw Thompson's "SHOT" but I have no memory of it. I do recall the 10 inch Dumont TV.
Any true baseball fan should try to watch the 1962 NL playoff between the Giants and Dodgers. There are eerie similarities with the 1951 playoff.
I was a NEW YORK GIANT fan growing up in Brooklyn and that was a real education in life. Wouldn't trade it for anything!!
Thanks HB.

Sonia S 10:33 AM  

AGRIN & ENUF are both a little horrible, but I'm enough of a newb that I was glad for an easy one. This was fun & absorbing.

AliasZ 10:47 AM  


The puzzle was a walk in the park on a sunny spring day. Like today. I blow-torched my way through it with little resistance, therefore I enjoyed it.

To my chagrin,
I think A GRIN
Is half
A laugh.

If the plural for codex is codices, for IBEX it should be "ibices", n'est-ce pas?

This Howard Barkin fellow is no IDIO. Congrats on the ACPT championship!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


@Barany5:51 --

Miscount on "liaise."

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

I've spent hours on GOOGLE EARTH. I had so much fun locating places I lived in Madrid and trying to find old neighborhoods I would frequent around the globe. I even got a shot of my dad's office in Old Havana....
Hey NCA Pres. CONGRATULATIONS! Wow, nice jump for you. My brother was a musician and he always said that if you want to be any kind of success, you have to live in NYC.....!
The puzzle: This one is the kind I like when you have a bunch of people over for drinks and food and everyone gets a turn at some of the clues. It has a little bit of everything for everyone and it's fairly easy.
ELBA BARI CALI. Just don't call it CALI...and don't call THE CITY Frisco....

GeezerJackYale48 11:17 AM  

No objections to ibises/ibexes in the same puzzle? No complaints about Bari/Sari/Cali? Who are all you people, and what have you done with Rex and all his followers?

Aketi 11:24 AM  

Initially I thought the theme might have something to do with ANIMALs in the HOUSE, but not one of the few ANIMALs in the puzzle are the type of animals you would normally find in a house (MOLE, LION, IBEXES and IBISES). Well, except maybe SEABASS if you were intending to cook it.

Since I just finished submitting our tax forms I found myself engaging in the utterly inane activity of using Google Earth to look up my house when I was in Peace Corps and not only did I find a very fuzzy picture of it, I also found the tiny little shacks across the river from it. You really can find just about anything on Google Earth.

da kine 11:29 AM  

I'm going to have to call Natick on GFS, ADOUT, and TIOGA being all next to each other. BIGGUN being right next to them didn't help since it could be BIGGIE (which I originally had) or BIGONE... I dunno, GFs really pissed me off, I can never remember the tennis stuff, and TIOGA I have never seen before ever. Other than that, great puzzle.

Hungry Mother 11:33 AM  

Needed a break today, so no complaints here.

Ruth F 11:41 AM  

I really liked this puzzle because (1) it was easy enough for me to finish quickly and feel smart celebrating with the happy pencil, and (2) I had just taken a Google Maps tour of my neighborhood last week. It was a trip back into the past because the street view was from 2007. I hope street views get archived somewhere as they are updated. Did anyone catch Garrison Keillor's song about retirement on A Prairie Home Companion this week-end? It featured the Saturday NYT Crossword.

Teedmn 11:50 AM  

Easy, though not fast today. Online solving always adds about a third more time to my solve. Biggest STUMBLING BLOCK was at the Tippi HEDRiN spot, leaving me with _ _ iEN at 118A. alIEN? I looked at the cross-referenced 100A and decided that no, it wasn't little GREEN men!

Otherwise, a kind and gentle experience with a satisfying reveal.

Thanks, Howard Barkin, and congrats on your ACPT win.

George Barany 11:54 AM  

Thanks, @Loren Muse Smith and @Norm C. for your comments about vowel pileups. Another friend e-mailed a link to this xkcd comic. NSFW, but then again, this is Sunday.

And as long as we're on the subject of web-comics, @Hayley Gold posted a wonderful Passover-themed offering that riffs on the HAM on RYE puzzle from earlier this week.

Back to carrying out an AQUEOUS workup of my latest reaction.

Stuart Showalter 12:21 PM  

Come on, Rex! TAJ is *not* just a word part. It's a real word: "a tall conical cap worn as a mark of distinction by Muslims."

Joseph Michael 12:24 PM  

Nice puzzle and Rex writeup. Fun to see the zoom out during the solve. Easy, yes, but not painfully so.

Nancy 12:34 PM  

@Charles Flaster (10:37) -- I bet you were a brave, brave little boy to have been a NY Giants fan growing up in Brooklyn. Congrats on your consummate good taste and discerning good judgment. (Sorry @OISK. Sorry @Mohair.)

And sorry to you, too, @Hartley, whenever you get here. I know it's my third baseball post in three days, but I promise you I'll stop. Very soon. Maybe even tomorrow.

R phone 12:36 PM  

I was sure your word of the day would be "putsch!"

R phone 12:36 PM  

Agree! Whaaa?

old timer 12:48 PM  

A Google-free solve for me, and reasonably fast (for a Sunday). I liked the theme, too.

We cross TIOGA pass every so often, and I once looked up the name and found it was named for one of those Eastern counties. So the answer was at hand this morning. The pass is the highest road crossing of the Sierra, and it's in Yosemite National Park -- the view of Half Dome from Olmstead Point is the highlight of the trip. Though the *culinary* highlight is the Mobil Mart at the bottom of the highway, overlooking Mono Lake. The convenience store attached to the gas station has been turned into a gourmet cafe with great burgers and other meats, and excellent draft beer.

TAJ? My immediate thought was the great TAJ Mahal, one of my favorite musicians back in the day. Listening to him perform "Fishin' Blues" always sets my face AGRIN.

AskGina 1:34 PM  

Am I the only one to notice that the answer to 6 down is the clue for 108 across? That's not a small error

Tim 2:19 PM  

Fun one. Starting at random, I got GOOGLE EARTH pretty quickly and the rest of the themers fell pretty readily.

But SHAGS? Really? No. Just no. That was my one wrong answer (SnAGS). With HOSEA crossing, it needed a less ambiguous clue for the H.

Hugh 2:54 PM  

A bit easy for a Sunday but I had some fun. Easy as it was, still a DNF as I had REDSOX, but NATION just wouldn't fall for me - didn't get the zoom out part of the theme until I came here.

Also had PRINTS for 107A (Things always kept at hand) so I made a mess out of that small part of the grid.

My only real wince, like others have said, was LOOIES, the rest of the fill was just fine albeit on the easy side. I do like a bit more of a workout for a Sunday, but every once in a while we need one to be this breezy. Works well today, the first Sunday in New Jersey where I can come here from my sunny back patio without a jacket.

Have a great week all!

Masked and Anonymous 4:22 PM  

The U's were Barkin, in this fun lil big SunPuz. (13 of the lil darlins.)

Smooooth sailin, in this solvequest. So … @Indie009's "Easy" rating sounds about ok. Only hitch in my giddyup was settlin on LIGHTS/LICKS instead of FIGHTS/FRETS, for a while. Also had AUTO- instead of IDIO, for a few wayward nanoseconds.

After scorin the HOUSE and STREET themers, went and checked out the theme revealer at the bottom. (Which is no more of an infraction than viewin the contents label on the back of an instant cinnamon rolls can.) That helped a lot later with COMMUNISTSTATE and REDSOXNATION. And also calmed m&e down, when my SEXINTHECITY answer wouldn't quite fit.

AGRIN. har. GRIN grades!

@Indie009: But ONAANDE is so nice and shapely and desperate! Yer harsh rebuke of it did make M&A go back and revisit some choice desperation horse-doeuvres, in his own proposed NYTPuz submissions, tho. Thinkin WITHBLUISHPAINT may need some more work, after all. But, man -- does that ever tear up a lotta prime grid real estate …

Masked & Anonymo13Us


this one will change yer crossword life
**gruntz**
especially if U do the "Down Home" version

puzzle hoarder 5:14 PM  

This was a very easy Sunday for the most part. The GFS section had me stumped for a while. It figures that it's a debut word. It also didn't help that I had to change GOGGLE to GOOGLE. My misspellings can be downright embarrassing. It would make for an interesting app though. Picture staggering around the world on beer goggle earth.

lg 5:22 PM  

Easy puzzle, though easy for me on Sunday still takes me an hour. Oh well. My only complaints are with ENUF which should have been clued "in slang" rather than "in brief" and also GFS isn't really informal for girlfriend anywhere other than a text message. If the clue had said "BF's dates" then that might be better, though perhaps too easy.

Also, I hate that I never know whether or not to use aHa or OHO for the same dang clue in different puzzles. I'll also never be able to spell OUIJA correctly the first time. Never, ever, ever.

All that said, a rather enjoyable puzzle!

kitshef 5:22 PM  

@da kine - I had BIGwig first.

Chronic dnfer 5:25 PM  

I finished it so it must have been easy. Don't like Sunday's usually. Too much of a slog with lots of nonsense usually. Likes this one ok.

Norm 6:02 PM  

@#AskGina: There is no 108A but you are correct about 107A. Good catch, but they're far enough apart that I can't be annoyed by it.

Mohair Sam 7:47 PM  

Great way to meet the champ! Fun Sunday - easy and breezy, clever theme - a nice break from the battles we've been fighting for the past few days.

Missed the quote marks and wrote "cancan" before RENOIR - don't say it. I always mix up IBEXES and IBISES, so this was a real win-win for me. Hit a big daily double years back thanks to a horse named TIOGAs Rip. The fact that I remember the nag's name gives you an idea of just now few daily doubles I hit.

FUGUE a great word for building metaphors in the hands of the right writer.

@Nancy - All is forgiven, unless you are somehow related to Walter O'Malley.

smalltowndoc 7:59 PM  

Have to agree with @Bob Kerfuffle. BLOCK should come before STREET, not the other way around. A town may have a Main STREET, comprising many BLOCKs, each one having several HOUSEs. How can it be any other way?

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

How is a BLOW TORCH in a metalworker's union? Wouldn't it be in the metalworker's toolbox or something like that?

Anonymous 8:59 PM  

@Gina: There is no 108 Across.

Howard B 10:39 PM  

Thanks for the comments and discussion, all. This puzzle was indeed designed to be a little bit easier and more straightforward than many Sunday themes. Maybe get some of those who shy away from Sundays to test the waters a bit.

If this one was too easy for you, I'm sure the difficulty meter will jump again one Sunday soon - there's enough variance from week to week to please everyone.

Kimberly 10:54 AM  

I loved the zoom out of the theme answers so much that any other thought was driven from my head. Sweet!

Leapfinger 5:03 AM  

@George Barany, thanks for the Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath numbers! A fascinating concept, and I was pleased to see Tom Lehrer and Richard Feynman made the cut. Also interesting about the 4 consecutive vowel words, and I thought @Norm C's contribution very QUEUEOUS.

@GeezerJackYale48, to tell true, I thought IBISES/IBEXES a feature instead of a drawback. Since they were symmetrically placed, doubtful they were an accident, and they made a clever pair of brackets for the mid-grid.

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

According to A Gene Weingarten column in today's Washington Post, "noose" was NOT the last method of death in "And Then There Were None."

Alton 9:47 PM  

Started on the way to work Monday and put it aside until tonight's ride home. Fairly easy with one or two quibbles; LIAISE and LOOIES didn't seem correct but flew through the last third in ten minutes. Don't mind an easy one every now and then.

rain forest 2:10 AM  

In my opinion, a Sunday puzzle needs to strike a balance between devious and straightforward. With too much of the former, it can become a slog; with too much of the latter, a bore. This one is pretty damn good, in my opinion.

Interesting theme, once I figured it out, and many nice sections. Clue for NACHO was a good one. Reminds me of the apocryphal news report: the Irish have developed the world's largest micro-chip. Har.

No reason to YOWL about this one.

Way to go, @H Barkin, for your win at the ACPT. Only question: why has @Rex not downgraded his standing to 58th instead of 9? Hubris?

rain forest 2:13 AM  

@Anonymous 8:54 p PM - using a blowtorch, a metalworker makes a "union", ie, a weld.

Diana,LIW 2:49 AM  

It's very late Saturday, so I'm posting a reply to late Sat/Fri posts on this Syndieland Sunday blog.

@Rainy - the SCENE clue (Sat) refers to a director saying "And...scene" when she (or he) cuts and ends a scene. Bill Butler, on his blog, states that it truly is "End..SCENE!" but many hear the "end" as "and." I must admit that would be me - thus I did get that clue.

We have three (count 'em, 3) public radio stations in Spokane. One of them (PRX labeled locally as KPBZ - Spokane was the first PRX station) plays a wide variety of talkie shows, like This Amer. Life, Snap Judgement, A Way With Words, and Marc Maron's WTF. Yup - that's the show's title - WTF. Not WOE, as we xworders say. But his interview on WTF with Obama made the news for a few days, so I guess it's as fair game as the name of the actor who plays a part in some made-for-tv-cable-crime soap. (Or, as I've mentioned before, the p-o'd Goddess of nose hair mishaps.)

@Rondo - Mentioned the "peeps" discussion of Friday (I replied late to the blog, if you didn't see it) to Mr. W at dinner. He was surprised to learn that other people use the word "peeps." He thought I made "peeps" up 10 years ago, and he just adopted it along with me. I know other people have used "peeps" around him, but he probably didn't hear them. He thought we just had an "in" joke. (And we do have many - many.)

One of these days I'm going to write a sit-com about life with a very funny deaf person. And believe me, no one laughs harder than Mr. W at our conversational pho pahs. (Speaking of faux pas, you should see him in Paris when I pronounce French words in the French way.) We both rather like words, so we have fun bending them around.

Haven't yet looked at this Sun Puz, so I'll be back. If the newspaper shows up. One never knows... Or nose? Any votes? Noes?

Diana, the Hopeful, Waiting for Sunday's paper

Burma Shave 9:42 AM  

LOVE REARENDS

Samantha ANSWERS her SOAPOPERA DESIRES on SEXANDTHECITY,
ETHER with one-night STANDS with liars, or ATWORST SHAGS for the pity.

--- SHAMUS TRENTE

rondo 10:22 AM  

Can’t believe OFL didn’t call out that NE corner for being almost nothing but abbr.s. Plenty of other junk ANSWERS including RRN MMDX, partials WEGOT and THEA, language lesson with UNA, ADOUT, TRENTE, AUJUS, ETE, prefix time with ECO HEXA IDIO, the ampersandwich, and cross-references to boot. And GFS? C’mon. ENUF.

I guess MN’s own Tippi HEDREN gets the yeah baby nod today, if not for herself then for her progeny Melanie Griffith who begat Dakota Johnson, both of whose REARENDS apparently WERENT meant to BESEEN with clothing on.

Liked the themers’ progression and no rebus, but the rest? Ho-hum.

spacecraft 12:01 PM  

You see, folks? Even OFL says 122-across "has left the bad-o-sphere and gone into orbit!" With or without the "ON." @Rondo, I love your coined word "ampersandwich." I might borrow that one in future blogs--like Mr. Hand, "giving full credit to the author."

Pretty simple theme, like a science show I saw once that started out picturing a couple on a picnic blanket and zoomed out until the entire galaxy was a tiny point of light. The fill, though: like Tina's second verse of "Rollin' on the River." Rough. Good thing I didn't get my IBEXES and my IBISES mixed up. And please already, ONE of you tennis players END THIS GAME! C.

leftcoastTAM 6:55 PM  

Almost a perfect Sunday puzzle, but one I wouldn't have finished without friendly crosses and often running the alphabet.

Easy? Probably so for most regular solvers. For me, I needed the leisureliness of the day, and the persistence of a dog that thrives on SHAGS.

Diana,LIW 8:42 PM  

Jiminy Christmas, for cryin' out loud! All that work, a perfectly filled-in, cheat-free grid, and who appears? The Nasty Norse Na-Bob God of Naticks, that's who.

SHAGS? That's a UK no-no term - yes? Austin P? And then the headgear gods failed me, too. (Tho by now I know ARES, just not his helmet-wearin' fun-lovin' partyin' alter ego.) So though I never heard of SHiGS (or Ires), it sounded better than, well, you know. "Quincy, shig my slippers! Thanks, boy!"

Grrrring, not purring.

Still catching up on reading comments from the last few days, what with paper delays and out-of-house commitments. But I have read the Synders, at least the ones that have appeared in print by 5:30 PDT.

Agree with you @Spacey that OFL seems to be giving "ampersandwiches" (Rondo, 2016) a bye. Not sure wye. It's a bit rye. (Don't eye that too carefully. Sye.) I come to this blog for 4 main reasons:

1 - check answers
2 - read general comments
3 - read and support Synderellas (and fellas)
4 - to watch OFL's head explode in the comments

Whatever is going on, I want some of what Rex is drinking lately - the Happy Hour Libation.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and Answers

Diana,LIW 8:47 PM  

Oh yes, I must mention. Bill Butler got the SHAGS answer wrong, too. So I'm right up there with BB, the 18-minute solver. And Mr. Rogers of Crosswords.

Lady D

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

Actually finished this slog of a puzzle in the syndicated paper version today. Yawn. Too many trivials, as mentioned above "THEA" Team, etc.

But I normally DNF, so guess it was easy. But not fun. Do those who get this on the "real" week get some kind of clue? Cause I'm often lost on what is being themed.

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

Mixed reactions, but definitely leaning to the negative. Found the theme clever and mildly amusing, but of no help in the solve. Don't mind an occasional easy Sunday, but was disappointed by the abundance of weak fill and imprecise cluing.

Enjoyed seeing FUGUE, RENOIR, LGBT, REDSOXNATION.

But take serious exception to:
NACHO: it is not a "kind of" chip, but a snack made WITH a tortilla chip, and this was a "kind of" answer to the clue;
SHAGS: to shag a fly ball in batting practice is not to "fetch" it, which implies going to get it and bringing it back, but to catch it and throw it back, which is completely different;
SARI: women's bodies are "parts of" Asia? Really? Disappointing in the extreme, and just one of many answers that gave me this same reaction, like...
EBONS: Really?

Puzzles designed to be on the easy end of the spectrum can still be crisp, clean and precise, which is, IMO, what makes them fun. I wish this one had been.

Left Coast Synderfella

hippydave1 9:55 AM  

Eco implies Green, but it means house

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