Mentalist Geller / SUN 7-31-2016 / Leaf / It may require a password

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Constructor: Ruth Bloomfield Margolin

Relative difficulty: Not very tough

THEME: MAKE "IT" A DOUBLE — each theme entry contains two IT rebus squares

Word of the Day: ENDGAME (115A: Lead-up to mating)

In chess and chess-like games, the endgame (or end game or ending) is the stage of the game when few pieces are left on the board.
The line between middlegame and endgame is often not clear, and may occur gradually or with the quick exchange of a few pairs of pieces. The endgame, however, tends to have different characteristics from the middlegame, and the players have correspondingly different strategic concerns. In particular, pawns become more important as endgames often revolve around attempting to promote a pawn by advancing it to the eighth rank. The king, which has to be protected in the middlegame owing to the threat of checkmate, becomes a strong piece in the endgame. It can be brought to the center of the board and act as a useful attacking piece. --Wikipedia

We've reached the endgame of my time here this year -- thanks to Rex for giving me the keys for a week, commenters for their perspicacity and civility, and the constructors and NYT team for putting these things out there.  ICYMI, check out my websites here and here

On to the puzzle. Not the most exciting idea: each theme entry contains a pair of (IT) rebus squares, and then the reveal is KEEP (IT) TOGETHER, clued as (Stay cool ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme).  I guess if you've never seen a rebus theme before you'd be impressed, but otherwise the solve gets sloggy quick.

Theme answers:
  • SW(IT)CH POS(IT)IONS (22A: Flip-Flop)
  • CRED(IT) OR DEB(IT) (31A: Question asked at the cash register)
  • IN(IT)IATION R(IT)E (59A: Occasion to learn a secret handshake)
  • L(IT)TLE WH(IT)E LIE (80A: Fib)
  • PATERN(IT)Y SU(IT) (107A: Way to get to know a father in law?) 
  • SECUR(IT)Y DEPOS(IT) (16D: Landlord's request)
  • (IT)SY-B(IT)SY SPIDER (58D: Climber in a children's rhyme)  

Very slightly offputting to include a pair of downward theme entries in a rebus like this; messes with the optics a little bit, obscuring that each theme entry has two ITs. I do like the symmetric and amusing crossers F(IT)B(IT)S and N(IT)W(IT)S, each of which crosses two theme entries and required some delicate footwork to include.

Big blot, though, at 82D ("It was you," à la Verdi) for ERI TU. Pretty standard in a theme like this not to have any stray rebus pieces laying about, so the unused (IT) in this entry should certainly have been caught and excised. Might seem harsh but that's about .25 of a letter grade right there.

I remember the fill being pretty good, though during a sloggy solve you're always on the lookout for gimmick squares so it's tougher to appreciate it. But points for ALL CAPS, JOCULAR, MEMO PAD, TV HOSTS, BUST A GUT, both ARSENIC and POISON, LOW TECH, and TOM-TOM. Lots of theme entries so tough to keep it both interesting and clean, but she pulled it off well I think.

Hard to rise above a dull theme on a Sunday. Wavering between C+ and C, but that ERI TU thing removes the +. Letter grade of C.



Before I return you to Rex: be aware that the 9th edition of Lollapuzzoola takes place in Manhattan, NYC, USA on Saturday, August 13th, 10AM-6PM. I've been to this very enjoyable crossword tournament three times in the past and can highly recommend it -- casual, fun, one day only so not a big investment of time, very high quality puzzles. Tournament organizers Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer keep things amusing and make sure everyone has a good time. Sometimes people throw food. Check it out here:

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld until midnight tonight

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 1:53 AM  

Got off to a slow start, but once I caught the rebus at CREDIT OR DEBIT it went pretty, easy-medium? Last letter in was the S in FASCIA. Took a while to grok the PSA clue.

Solid Sun. with some zip...BUST A GUT, COLD COCK....liked it more than Matt did.

And thanks Matt for an interesting week and a somewhat different perspective on this obsession. BTW I missed this week's MGWCC by one square (I suspect you know the one), and still have no idea on the meta. OTOH I'm pretty sure I'm batting 1000 on NYT Sat. puzzles this year....

Martín Abresch 2:05 AM  

Here is my choice for video accompaniment.

I liked this one. Every single theme answer was solid. The sides had some wonderful open areas that gave this Sunday puzzle a different feel. I particularly enjoyed the great entries in the NW corner: ALL_CAPS, ROOF_TOP, SWITCH_POSITIONS, ICE_TEA, CHRONIC, ARSENIC, LOW_TECH, LOITERERS.

Thank you, Matt, for your reviews this week. I enjoyed your perspective. In fact, I think that I'll show my appreciation by subscribing to your Daily Crossword...

Chuck McGregor 3:07 AM  

@Nancy re yesterday

Sorry I don’t have your email address otherwise I’d do this off-line.

Unfortunately you’ll have to pay an “Early Termination Fee” to cancel. Here’s the math (round figures):

What it will cost to cancel now --
Price you paid for the phone: you didn‘t say so I’ll assume $150.
Termination fee: $200 or $350 depending on the model phone you bought.
3 months use: $145 (assuming you will have to pay a 3rd month).

So you’d be into it for a maximum of $640 if you cancelled now.

If you keep it for the next 21 months you’ll have paid about $1300.


If you cancelled now and got a Tracfone (available at most CVS, Rite Aid, & Walgreens among other places) here’s that math –

Cheapest Tracfone (what I have and it works great) is $20 with double minutes for life. A 3-month airtime card is $20 and gives you 120 minutes (counting the double minutes).

Getting a Tracfone plus what you have paid for the Sprint so far and to cancel that will have cost you about $680. Getting 3 month airtime cards for another 18 months brings your total to $800 for the next 21 months versus the $1300 you will have paid for Sprint. That makes $500 worth of sense (and cents) to cancel the Sprint now and get a Tracfone. This assumes, as you indicated, 8 hours of use a year is likely far more than you need.

Of course this means paying out $240 or $390 (termination fee plus buying a Tracfone) up front to switch right now, depending on the model Sprint phone you bought.

After that your cost will be only $7 per month versus $48 assuming prices stay the same for Tracfone. They have been stable for the many years I’ve had it.

In addition, you can sell the Sprint phone you own through several online sites. Google “selling used cell phones.”

When you buy a Tracfone you can activate it within minutes (not 3-1/2 hours!!) of the purchase. It’s like buying a loaf of bread at checkout. Then you punch in a few numbers et voila. You’re good to go.

It won’t be as fancy as the Sprint phone, but for just occasional phone calls it’s perfect and it does have some bells and whistles.

Hope this helps and makes sense (and cents).


PS to Diana, LIW: I’m by no means a 20-something. I just think and act like one (sometimes). LOL!

Matt Gaffney 3:23 AM  

@Chuck McGregor

Let's stay on topic, please.

chefwen 3:29 AM  

Caught on at the g(it)go with FIT BIT, a very IN item these days, and was off to the races. This one didn't get sloggy for me at all, I thought the cluing and many of the answers were quite clever. GREASER, COLD OCK, BUST A GUT & JOCULAR were right up there. When I got to 108D I thought TOKED would be fun, but no way would that be right and son of a gun, it was!

We're not going to have the ICE/ICED TEA debate, are we? Hope not.

Loved looking for all the little its. Fun puzzle Ms. Margolin, thank you.

Matt, we are going to miss you. I really enjoyed all of the write ups and the increased commentary.

Garth Snyder 3:40 AM  

What is the connection between REW and its clue? On the NYT iPad app, it shows up as a straight double-quote mark - is it supposed to be a left guillemet?

Anonymous 3:42 AM  

I spent Many Minutes at that LIMOGES (which I knew was correct) and ERITU (which I did not know) cross trying to avoid an IT that hadn't been kept together, a la the constructor's revealer. I think Matt is being too lenient. If a constructor can't obey her own revealer, that's a full letter dock at least. Es-tay was an automatic fail, but this is just as egregious, and it's swept under the rug? Hmmm....

Other than that, there was a lot of Good Stuff here, and up until the ENDGAME, I really enjoyed it.

I look forward Matt's next guest hosting appearance!


Anonymous 3:46 AM  

@Garth -- If a left guillemet is a "less than" sign, then you, sir, are correct. (I should probably put that word in my tool box!)


Anonymous 3:51 AM  

@Garth -- Apologies for an incomplete response. The clue had two "less than" signs, the common button label for "rewind," hence REW.


Anonymous 4:57 AM  

Regarding the clue for REW, my brain elided over this during my solve, but, thanks to @Garth's post, I realize that " is the pause button. I wonder if that word has ever been so clued.

Trombone Tom 6:13 AM  

The title Make That a Double had me confused for a while. I kept trying to make use of the second word. Got the theme with FIT BIT.

Lots of wonderful fill here from GREASER and RELLENO to BUST A GUT. For that alone I'd rate it higher than our host did.

I did not get the PSA clue until I checked in with Deb on the way here.

Thank you Matt Gaffney for an interlude with a light touch and especially for the absence of all the PC stuff. Variety is the spice of life . . . no?

Trombone Tom 6:17 AM  

Oh, in honor of today's puzz I'm gonna go have an It's-It!

Rita Flynn 6:22 AM  

I use the NYT Crossword app on the IPad. The app had the title as "Make THAT a Double" [emphasis added] . I struggled a bit with the themed answers but I could see that the IT rebuses were the only way to complete them. Had the title been correct I would have figured it out sooner. Also, the clue for REW showed as ", not <<. Agree that ERI TU should have been caught. Otherwise pretty easy.

George Barany 6:25 AM  

Today's puzzle by @Ruth Bloomfield Margolin is her fourth in the New York Times, but first Sunday. As our Regent, @Matt Gaffney, pointed out, once one latches onto the theme fairly quickly, the puzzle takes on a sloggish (sic) quality.

As an avid opera aficionado, I'm always thrilled to see (hear) the full ERI_TU, so it was disappointing to find that entry to be a deal-breaker to an otherwise consistently applied theme.

If there's been a motif to this week, both in the published grid entries and/or clues as well as in @Matt's analyses, it's been the grading--so the Chemistry professor in me nods approvingly at the ARSENIC clue for 1-Down. Then, just a few columns over, we find CFCS, i.e., chlorofluorocarbons, the subject of a Chemistry Nobel Prize.

Many in this crossword community were also paying attention to history made this week in Philadelphia, and some of us were inspired by an exhortation to be Stronger Together!

Lewis 6:36 AM  

Thank you Matt for your perspective and expertise. I look forward to your return.

And thank you Ms. Margolin. I had to like this; there were so many "stuck-then-quickly-saved-by-an-aha" moments (which always feel good). My favorite answers were JOCULAR, COLDCOCK, and FROG (as clued). Clues I enjoyed: ENTREE, POSSE, OBIT, AESOP, ONEPIN, TOKED, and AIR.


I wanted THYMUSES to be THYMI. And I saw that panicked PERP running into the POSSE.

Not once did I think (to riff off a Brokeback Mountain line), "I wish I could quIT IT".

Loren Muse Smith 7:13 AM  

For some reason, I smelled that rebus rat very early on – OBIT and TRITT. Until I saw the reveal, I was certain that there was more to the theme than simply expressions with two ITs. And I was right. Here's an example of where a great reveal just ties everything up nicely. The raison d'être.

If I had gotten the reveal earlier, I might've been looking for the ITs to be side by side as, in "admit it." But I get that the reveal admonishes us to keep the word IT together, as in one square. Cool.

First thought for 28D – "Soleil." Thought Soledad might be a last name, so maybe the parents were going with the full on sunshine vibe. When I was subbing, I had a 6th grader named Sunshine, and she instantly and completely destroyed my belief that we all grow into our names.

31A – the question asked at the cash register– "are you in a hurry?" Well. No. I just always look like I am. I get that question all the time.

I actually had a dnf because I had that star at 41D depicting a misspelled "capitan," so I wasn't seeing COLD COCK and hence ARMORIAL. For me, a star (in linguistics) depicts a sentence that no native speaker would utter:

*The boy seems sleeping.
*The dog was said was hungry.
*Which book do you know who bought?

Your day is now complete.

Speaking of stars, let's all thank our lucky ones that because of delayed moderation or whatever, we're not gonna be subjected to 43 explanations to @Garth about the rewind button.

RBM – always glad to get a Sunday rebus. I always feel clever and accomplished when I see the trick. I had a good time with this one.

Matt – don't be a stranger. I've enjoyed your week at the helm.

blinker474 7:32 AM  

Thank you, Matt Gaffney, for your stint as Regent of CrossWorld. I enjoyed your commentaries, and really liked your scoring system. You would be welcome here at any time.

chefbea 7:48 AM  

Fairly easy puzzle and got the it's almost immediately..and then the revealer...but I never really understood the title..make that a double???

Cleaver rebuses!!

Sheik Yerbouti 8:10 AM  

Ugh. Figured out the theme quickly. I quit about halfway through from boredom. Nothing exciting about this at all.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

What's with the "Make It/That a Double" title inconsistency?

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Disagree about difficulty: ERI TU (crossing LIMOGES and THREAT, both of which I was dead certain of) had me stuck a long time, because I felt sure the "I T" could not stand in separate square. But once solved, I reflected on this: because the I and T are separated by a space in the answer, this excuses the apparent gaffe--only pair I and T if they occur in the same word (and in that order).

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

I thought it was unfortunate that one theme answer required keeping I and T separate in one instance. Also, please, please, please, ban the use of "ice tea". That doesn't exist. It's ICED TEA. I bet whoever wrote this also likes "shave ice". One of my least favorite Sundays, though there was some clever cluing here and there. For me the worst sin was the I and T that had to be kept separate in 59-across.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

@Anon 8:25:01 - Good point. The I and T of ERI TU would have to be first brought together before they could be kept together.

Nancy 8:47 AM  

Question: What's even better than a small Thursday rebus? Answer: A large (and unexpected) Sunday rebus. I liked this a lot.

Two major mistakes made this extra hard for me: SPERM before SPORE at 7D and PRESS (following a movie star, I thought) before POSSE. I got ROOFTOP right away, but I don't know what CFCs are. I saw LOW TECH right off (I use the term all the time; I always say that I'm a LOW TECH person living in a high-tech world) -- but I didn't initially get LOITERER or ARSENIC from their respective clues. So SWITCH POSITIONS was not where I picked up the rebus. I picked it up at ITSY BITSY SPIDER.

My favorite non-theme answer was ALL CAPS (which came in very, very belatedly.) Now from my posts here, many of you may think I'm an ALL CAPS kind of writer. I am now (for emphasis, not urgency), but I wasn't always. I've always been an italics kind of writer --both when I wrote by hand and when I used a typewriter. Then along came the computer and -- BAM -- there went my italics. I don't know how to create them on a computer. I think you have to go to some sort of immensely complicated editing function, which I don't know how to use and wouldn't bother with, even if I did know how. On a typewriter, you use the Backspace to go back to the beginning of the word and put a _________ under it to underline that word. Here, when you use the Backspace, you erase the word. Sigh. So, sadly, ALL CAPS is all you will EVER see from me now and in the future. Double sigh. Anyway, I liked this one very much.

Carola 8:51 AM  

Liked it. No slogging here.
Agree with @Anonymous 8:25 in disagreeing with the objections to ERI TU, as it's two words.
DNF: I got tangled in a rat's nest in the AR??RIAL x C???COCK area. Like @Loren, I had CAPITAn and my tangle of hair was a rAT - I'm of the generation that did a lot of hair ratting in the 60s, so I thought the word might work as a noun, too.
I liked the only-in-crosswords cultural meet-up of STUARTS and GEISHAS x LIMOGES beneath SAFARIS.
Really wanted: "refrigerator" for the shopping list spot.

Glimmerglass 8:52 AM  

Nice week's work, Matt. Thanks. I agree with you about the error with ERI TU. In fact, though I knew pefectly well that LIMOGES and ERI TU were correct, I doubted myself and changed the common I to an E. (Le Moges might have been correct?) DNF thanks to that. I found the overall difficulty on the hard side of medium for a Sunday.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

@Nancy - don't forget the old-timey use of asterisks (stars!) to denote emphasis. Really. Do *not* forget it!

Nancy 9:00 AM  

@Chuck McG -- Thanks for all the cell phone plan info. It's helpful, in that the penalties are so outrageously onerous, that I will keep the Sprint plan for the duration and just curse it every month.

Carola 9:02 AM  

@Nancy, if you want to use italics in a comment here, do this (but omitting my quotation marks): type "<" and then "i" and then ">" and then the word(s) you want italicized and then "<" and then "/" and then "i" and then ">". So, you have a letter "i" between < >, the word, and then the letter "i" preceded by a "/" between < >.

NCA President 9:14 AM  

Thanks to MG for a great week of reviewing. Pleasant, yet firm in his critiques. While I'm not a big fan of normative grading, it seems to work in this case (since I agreed with most of his grades).

As for this Sunday puzzle...I guess I'm starting to dislike Sunday puzzles. They are too long which means that whatever theme it's based around, if you don't like it, you get a LOT of it. Or in this case, I didn't dislike it, per se, but a little bIT of IT went a long, long way. Maybe it was because of the "double" part since it basically doubled the "fun."

I did have trouble at 67A with MAT. I had Mop to start, then I erased the M when I got ARbORIAL. Then I got CAPIToL...and I couldn't remember which suffix, -OL or -AL was the city. So the little intersection took some time.

I also had trouble parsing LOITERERS. The clue was not helpful at all. "One who's outstanding" is different than one who is "out standing." There's a difference, and the tortured pun there is obnoxious. If I were to give this puzzle a grade, that clue alone would knock it down a full letter grade with a "See me after class" note at the bottom of the page.

I didn't care for all the multiple cues for Q and carbonated beverages...they were distractions that weren't relevant to anything. Again, in a Sunday puzzle, everything starts to get on my nerves after a while. A little fun with a bunch of Q clues is one thing, but to add in the same conceit with carbonated beverages (both utterly random), was just too much.

In the spirit of MG's departing, I give the puzzle a D. It would have been a C, but well, just see me after class.

I do give MG an A, though. It would be an A+, but hey, gotta have some upper room on that bell curve, no?

RAD2626 9:28 AM  

I liked the puzzle but was distracted by the down themers having two "its" while the other down answers that incorporated the horizontal themers had only one. Mildly confusing. Otherwise pretty straightforward and nice to see Fitbit make its debut.

@Garth. I don't know what a guillemet is, but I just assumed it was the REW sign on a VCR or DVD player, rather than a keyboard.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Carola, I had RAT as in "rat's nest"---I solved by realizing MAT would fit, being unsure of AR*ORIAL.

Aketi 9:44 AM  

Hahaha, so now I found more than enough [IT]s to compensate for the one that went missing from CHALK UP TO. Count me in as one of those who got [IT] at F[IT]B[IT], a device that is enormously popular among kickoxers but not so much among the grapplers.

I had no problem with "Make that a Double" because revealing [IT] in the t[IT]le would have been entirely too obvious fo an already easy to spot theme.

IN[IT]IALly, I thought the theme was about double letters. There are 19 words that contain double letters. TATTOO contains two sets of double letters as does the phrase KEEP IT TOGETHER. If POSSE were spelled with a double E there would have been 22 (double two) double letter pairs, but alas, [IT]isn't.


@Matt Gaffney, I CHRONICally comm[IT] typos because I solve the puzzle on my iPad using three fingers and because my autocorrect is very agressive. If there was a way to ed[IT] my posts I'd probably coreect 100% of my posts. So perhaps it is a B[IT] hypocr[IT]ical of me to point out a few misplaced and missing parentheses in your blog, but I figure you actually do have the abil[IT]y to ed[IT] what you wrote.


PS, Since our dear Nancy's technological means of communications are challenged for now, I, for one, do not mind if a little OT assistance for her appears in the comments section,

Lewis 9:55 AM  

@carola -- I was looking for that refrigerator also.
@aketi -- 21 double letters is very high for a daily puzzle, not as dramatic in a Sunday. (For some inexplicable reason, I track double letters in puzzles.)

Aketi 9:55 AM  

PS, I personallyliked the triad of Q questioned and the dyad of chest organs crossing something hard to get off of your chest. I get that others dislike redundancy.

Mary Perry 9:58 AM  

I did not enjoy this one!

billocohoes 10:07 AM  

The Albany Times-Union also said the theme was "Make That.." so no sense of the puzzle.

Didn't know RELLENO and until I came here was mumbling that "an ADE isn't necessarily carbonated", and I accepted RELDENO for a DNF

Z 10:09 AM  

At least in part thanks to this week's discussion of Honda vehicles F(IT)B(IT) went in and I had the theme. Briefly thought (hoped) all the (IT)s would intersect, giving us both across and down themers. That would have been impressive.

Right with the Regent when I wrote in ERI TU.

As is often the case with Sundays, the lasting memory is parsing the clue for PSA. Having seen similar clues in the past it generated a groan rather than an "Aha!" "Sloggy" is almost always my reaction to the 21x21 grids. When the theme is gotten on the third word I write in there is little chance to overcome that reaction. Still, comparing Sundays to Sundays, I liked this well enough. I'd call it an above average Sunday puzzle, even with the ERITU flaw.

Aketi 10:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
AliasZ 10:47 AM  

Now wasn't this a clever puzzle? IT had plenty of variety in IT. IT was consistently kept for theme entries only, except for ERITU. But considering the hospitality of I toward T, I guess IT was unavoidable.

I did miss some double hits, such as Hittites (Friday's HITIT wouldn't have worked because the second IT is IT all by itself), peritonitis, nitty-gritty, vitality, nitrite, hoity-toity and other titbits of this nature. I was also sure THYMUSES were pituitaries.

I found this nice word: adscititious -- meaning "derived or acquired from an outside source". It not only has a double IT but also a double TI side by side. Remember it. Test tomorrow.

Favorite entries: BUST A GUT, JOCULAR, FASCIA, COLDCOCK, NITWITS and a few others. One of the most effective methods of avoiding boredom in your romantic life: SWITCH POSITIONS.

If you find yourself
In a domestic rut,
Try not to BUST A GUT.

One of the movements of the Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky is titled "The Marketplace at LIMOGES".

Let me go now and research the constITutionalITy of the infringement upon my right to occasionally splIT infinITives.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Norm 11:03 AM  

Fun puzzle. Matt's n(it)s seem very trivial. I'll give today's review a C but I think he still has an A average for the week.

Nancy 11:17 AM  

Hi, @Carola (9:02)-- So I was going to surprise you and the entire blog with italics in this post, but what I unfortunately got was simply the you see at the beginning of my comment. Thanks, though, anyway. Please understand that nothing techie ever works for me. Sigh.

Mohair Sam 11:27 AM  

Yeah, I join most here who were disappointed by the misuse of "IT", especially the ERITU sin - as well-clued as it was. Still I liked the puzzle over all. Clever cluing throughout (TATTOO, PATERNITYSUIT) and some nice misdirects (ENDGAME). I'd grade it higher than Matt.

I walk a lot and have been wondering why the joggers who pass me are always checking the time of day lately; discovered FITBITS in this puzzle and had an "aha" moment in real life. Almost naticked at 65D because I knit one and PeRL two, but Lady Mohair knew THYMUS as in Imus and saved the day. Lost time running thru WNBA teams before settling on the obvious UCONN.

I'm with @aketi: Although @Chuck M was admittedly more than a tad windy - keeping up with @Nancy's ongoing war with 21st century technology is part of the joy of this blog.

@Matt - Once again thanks for a great job as Brevet Fearless Leader.

Chaos344 11:33 AM  

Halfway through the puzzle, I said to myself,

Halfway through the puzzle, I said to myself, "If Matt doesn't use the word "slog" in his critique at least once, I'll be very surprised."

While he never actually used the word "slog", he used the term "sloggy" twice. As far as I'm concerned, he vindicated my opinion.

I understand others feel differently. So be it. What a dull world it would be if we all agreed on things, right?


Da Bears 12:05 PM  

I think one of the hardest things to appreciate is how Rex does this Blog day in and day out. It takes an unbounded enthusiasm and a dedication that numbs the mind.

I agree with MG's critique (though I might have dropped the puzzle to a B- for the ERITU oversight) but his write-up reflects his opinion of the puzzle - workmanlike without a lot of sizzle.

Overall, nobody could have filled in for Rex this week like MG did. Great job. He served Rex and his bloggers well!

mathgent 12:17 PM  

I give this lovely rebus an A. My wife and I tag-teamed it and had a wonderful time finding the ITs and figuring out the clever clues. The fact that there was a superfluous IT is a technical point that didn't bother us at all -- we didn't even notice it.

Matt Gaffney 12:20 PM  


Thanks, fixed.

'mericans in Boston 12:29 PM  

AGREE with what @mathgent said. Mrs. 'mericans and I are in Boston this weekend, so got started on the puzzle late, but then whizzed through it tag-team style. Loved the clever cluing and fill. The IT rebus was not very challenging, but fun. Main complaint was "ICE TEA" (sorry, @chefwen).

We'd give this puz at least a B+. Thank you, Ms. Margolin!

Numinous 12:31 PM  

I did not mind ER[I T]U one bit so, Matt, I think it's you. (JK). I looked over other puzzle when I was done and thought the theme was cute. I'll admit I was slow, I didn't get the idea until KEEP IT TOGETHER and then everything fell into place for me. I've never heard of F[IT]B[IT] but decided that worked. Where I blew it was at THYMeSES. I've knitted and PURLed in my lifetime (I once knitted a scarf for myself) but PeRL just seemed right. I had a pamphlet called something like The Manly Art of Knitting which had a pattern for a hammock made from rope using shovel handles for needles.

Thanks, @Matt, for your regency. Truely a breath of fresh air. Come back soon! Speaking of fresh air, I'm sure we are all looking forward to Annabel tomorrow.

Masked and Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Hard to beat an IT gone rogue. Gives the SunPuz a little humanity. Ms. Margolin is my new IT girl.

fave weeject: NER. This word is great. Just sounds so … braindead. It needs to become famous, somehow. Kinda like ARR, which has done so well becuz of Pirate Day. Honrable mention for the symmetric ATH/ETH double play.

fave stuffins:
* BUSTAGUT. From the well-known "de bustagut" sayin, in matters of taste.
* THYMUSES. yo, @muse.
* ARMORIAL. Luv surprise -IAL endings. See also NER-IAL.
* COLDCOCK. Derivation: COLD DUCK var.
* RECRU(IT)ER. Swear to the heavens: M&A tried to wedge RECRUTER in there at first, even after havin already figured out the ITIT-theme. Spellin: not an M&A strength; an easy mark to push over to the wrong-again side.
* 11 U's. Automatically givin this SunPuz the coveted U+ grade. Speakin of gradin systems …

This has been a really fun week, and congratzes *must* go out to Mattregent McGaffneymeister and some really unsuspectingly brave constructioneers, who opened themselves up to gettin letter grades. At the risk of havin this whole comment swept down the Blorgdrain, M&A humbly offers @MG this easily-a-D+ tribute to puzgrades. Thanx again, Mr. Gaffney. Hysteric week.

Masked & Anonymo11Us

Teedmn 12:41 PM  

rATS, I just left a comment that disappeared. The only thing different from usual was that I typed it on my laptop instead of my iPad. Perhaps it was because I was trying out my fledgling HTML skills and overstepped my abilities? We'll see if it works this time.

Anyway, I was agreeing with @Carola and @Anon 8:25 regarding ERI TU not being in the same category as the other ITs so that didn't bother me. And also like @Carola, I had rAT in at 67A because, rightly or wrongly, I was remembering a passage from "Gone With the Wind" where Scarlett O'Hara was having trouble with a new hair style involving multiple curls called rats, though that shouldn't have equated to a tangle. But I figured out ARMORIAL so no problem.

Ruth Bloomfield Margolin, I thought this theme was FIT. BITs of ITs snuggled in one square that were fun to circle as I put them in place. Nice first Sunday offering.

And Matt Gaffney, thank you for filling in for @Rex. IT was an interesting change-up.

Leapfinger 12:47 PM  

There was so much of IT floating around that ere long I was pretty much a CURSOR. IT's on me that I managed to work in a 3rd [IT] somewhere in the middle of the INITIATION_RITE. Ri-ii-ight.

Special early head-bonks in the NW:
Are they trying to spell SWITCH as SWICH?
Jeez, I can't think of what gets arsenic in Chemistry.... Oh.

Have to admit I approved the musculo-skeletal version of FASCIA (the basis of the dreaded 'compartment syndrome') though I thought the bit that's found under rooves' eaves might be more generally known. Also like LIMOGES, almost as much as I do Herend; have to say the old LIMOGES and the old Herend are much finer than the new stuff. (NB, this is not intended as a set-up line.)

All those fizzy drinks were making my nose pleasantly tickly (esp after re-assigning ALE and POP to their rightful places), and the various ways of working in Q-clues was inspirational: from the Land of NC Ken&BarbieQ, TenQ very much. Somewhere around BUSTAGUT, it registered how happy @M&A must be today.

@Garth, @Brennan, I thought 'guillemet' was a species of seabird. Awk.
Hey. Right after COLDCOCK, I see JOCULAR. Cool.

Still searching the grid for an IGLOO/IGLU as one of those LITTLEWHITEINUITLIE-ins

Been a good week, and thanks to Ms Margolin and all who helped make it so. OpCit, with pity hit 'Submit'

Carola 12:53 PM  

@Nancy, sorry it didn't work. I know my explanation was cumbersome - it's just that if you try to show exactly what the coding should look like, the comment will end up in italics without the code itself appearing. If you have another minute, please check out this link, scrolling down to the example where it says, "This text is italic."

Nancy 1:00 PM  

Thanks Aketi and thanks Mohair. (And thanks Teedmn off-blog). It is wonderful to know that the people on this blog, who are trying so hard to help get me through my LOW TECH frustration and (often) despair, won't be muffled or discouraged in the future. The fact that perhaps no human being on this planet is capable of achieving such an uncommonly difficult -- if worthy -- goal doesn't take away from the fact that it warms my heart every single time they try. Thanks to both those who offer techie advice and those who merely "find joy" in reading about it. I love you all.

Nancy 1:01 PM  

I think I meant "muzzled".

Mr. Grumpypants 1:03 PM  

"Very slightly offputting to include a pair of downward theme entries in a rebus like this; messes with the optics a little bit, obscuring that each theme entry has two ITs."

I think Matt totally missed (it). Every theme answer has two of the rebus. That includes the two downs, which are the only long downs in the puzzle. The theme answers are not all across entries. How do explain "recruiter" and "Tritt"? If you want to complain that the intersecting entries (whether across or down) have only one rebus, feel free. I don't think that's a fair critique.

old timer 1:11 PM  

Thanks for the great week of reviews, Matt. Though I was not confused by the it in ERI TU because I had it (and Limoges) long before I kept "it" together. Now if the title on the printed page had been "Make it a double" I would have had F IT B IT at once. Didn't. Waited until I had the KEEP and immediately knew it was KEEP IT TOGETHER. Went back to LITTLE WHITE LIE which I had wanted all along, and the rest of the puzz became much simpler.

I noted that some of the Down themers only had a single IT. And I think it would have been nigh impossible to build a puzzle where there were two Down ITs every time. I think they were all themers though because they all had IT together.

I'd give the puzzle an A because ERI TU did not bother me at all. I guess if the I and T there were pronounced "IT" I might have been upset. but not when all the theme ITs are pronounced the same.

Anyone else write in "perl" before PURL?

Matt Gaffney 1:45 PM  

@Mr. Grumpypants

Didn't miss that each theme entry has two rebus squares; I explicitly stated it, as you correctly quoted me.

kozmikvoid 2:01 PM  

Matt: Thanks for filling in. I'll keep an eye out for your upcoming daily.

I had eratu and refused to change that a to an i. Double checked all my answers and was confident about everything else. Put in the stupid i and shook my head in disgust. I don't care if there's a space between the i and the t, that answer sticks out like a sore thumb. Crossword puzzles don't differentiate between spaced and non-spaced words, so why would a rebus. That crossing comes across as very, very lazy - someone should've fixed that.

Tim Pierce 2:06 PM  

I also found it strange that the puzzle's title is "Make That A Double." Shouldn't it be "Make It A Double"? Was this how it was rendered in the electronic version? A last-minute editing flub?

Norm 2:14 PM  

Titling the puzzle "Make It A Double" would reveal too much. If there was flub, it may have been that "it" was in the original release, but was correctly redacted as soon as someone spotted the screw-up.

Suzy 2:24 PM  

@Matt-- Thank you for your apt reviews and pos(it)ive att(it)ude!- come back any time!

Mr. Grumpypants 2:25 PM  

Okay, you didn't miss (it). I think I did not parse your sentence properly the first time. Apologies. But I do not get why you consider it "offputting" to have the two down themers. Is it somehow required to have a matching number? It should have been four across and four down? That did not mess with me or my "optics" at all. Heck, if I had a complaint, it would be that the revealer had only one "it" (although I can't see how on earth a second one could have been added). I still think your criticism and low grade are unjustified. Personal opinion. All the best, Mr. Grumpypants

Leapfinger 2:50 PM  

@AliasZ, the pITuITary hides in the brain's underbelly, but IT's behind the sternum that THY MUSSES there.

A brief cITation, wIThout lITany: In my first year in the clinics, I saw a patient who remains something of a mind-sticker. As a Geology grad student, she'd taken up learning to sky-dive; on her first real jump, however, worst-case scenario and the CHUTE failed to open. I don't recall exactly how many thousands of feet she fell, but she apparently struck vertically and sustained fractures of both calcanei, both tib-fibs and I think both femurs, the pelvis, multiple back and neck vertebrae, and a basilar skull fracture. She spent quite a long time admitted to the Orthopaedic service.

When I saw her, she was just there for a routine follow-up visit. The basilar skull fracture had knocked out her pITuITary function, so she was on multiple hormone replacments, but all that she noted otherwise was some intermITtent pain in both heels. Some people manage to come out of IT lucky.

Roo Monster 2:56 PM  

Hey All !
Just finished, twixt work and finding the S quite tough. Quickie, haven't read comments yet...

Liked (IT). :-) JOCULAR nice to see. SW did me in. DNF, left some squares blank down there. SE, had SNObs forever, messing that up.


Nancy 3:30 PM  

@Carola (12:53 p.m.)-- Thanks so much for trying so hard to help me, but, after reading your original post and then going to the link provided in your second post, I am quite determined to learn to love ALL CAPS deeply and wholeheartedly -- as an uncomplicated alternative to italics. This is because having to do anything even slightly technological AFFECTS this LOW TECH person so adversely. It invariably UPSETS me, STRAINS my coping ability, and is therefore a THREAT to my sanity. You might say it's POISON. You might even go further and identify said POISON by name. ARSENIC. I dare not, therefore, SWITCH POSITIONS in my use of CAPITAL letters if I want to have any chance to KEEP IT TOGETHER. But let me point my CURSOR gratefully in your direction, as I thank you genuinely for your time, concern and effort.

L 3:44 PM  

Thanks, Matt, for guest hosting the blog. Great week!

Roo Monster 4:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:45 PM  

@Bears - Har. An unbounded something maybe.

Itsy 5:47 PM  

Title should have been Make IT a Double.

Lauren Backes 6:06 PM  

@Garth I had the same problem on my iphone app... Also, I couldn't figure out how to put two letters in one square. Does the iPad app let you fill in two letters?

OISK 6:25 PM  

For a few minutes, I felt like an IT- iot, but once I got the theme, there were few problems for me. As others have suggested, why the title was not "Make IT a double" instead of "make "THAT" a double" was a mystery to me.

No errors at all this week, probably related to a lovely (for me) absence of rock-pop-hip hop, and fewer brand names the last couple of days. I still have no idea what "ELO" is...

old timer 6:34 PM  

GHUTE was from yesterday, right? GHUTEs and lLadders has to be the most successful kids game ever invented from scratch (I think of Monopoly as an adult game that bright kids adopted on their own). My own children played CHUTEs and Ladders as will my grandchildren. I think the secret here is that kids actually like games that make them suffer a little.

Hartley70 6:55 PM  

@LaurenBackes, on your iPhone keyboard inside the NYT Crossword app tap the lower left key for "More". The next keyboard will appear and on the lower right there is a key for "Rebus". It will allow you to type multiple letters in the selected space. When you are done, you escape that space by tapping another anywhere on the grid. I hope this helps.

jberg 7:00 PM  

I solved the puzzle fairly early this morning, but spent the day at the hospital. My wife was ready to be discharged last night -- but they were too busy to do the paperwork! They finally let her go at 3 PM today. Now she is home, learning to live with neck and leg braces for the next two months, and navigate the house with a walker. So after getting her settled in on the first floor, I came here.

I liked the rebus, but really didn't like all the entries with only one IT. I guess you could say that FITBITS and NITWITS are theme answers, and the one-IT answers are not, but that's awfully confusing.

Once I saw the rebus, my main problem was thinking the stuffed Mexican thing must be etufado or something similar but the right length. I wrote in the ADO, which completely screwed me up for a long time.

Thanks to @chefwen for nipping the ice/iced tea debate in the bud, and many, many thanks to Matt Gaffney for his wonderful contributions both to this blog and to the battle against grade inflation.

Aketi 7:04 PM  

My faves for this fun-filled-instacomment Gaffney week were VENN DIAGRAM and FIT BIT NIT WIT brought to me via WI FI.

@Leapfinger, I may dare to do many things I shouldn't at my age, but sky diving is not on my bucket list even if someone actually managed to unbelievably survive without the CHUTE opening. You and my brother,the firefighter paramedic, seem to have the best stories about worst case scenarios.

Hartley70 7:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bleaux 7:58 PM  

What debate? It's ICED tea😉

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

Loved IT!
D and A

Tom 9:08 PM  

ELO = Electric Light Orchestra. Still don't get PSA. Wrote it in, left it. Somebuddy 'splain please.

JC66 9:16 PM  

Public Service Announcement

Z 9:20 PM  

After I have iced my tea what I have is ice tea.

@Nancy - Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right.
First, stop thinking of it as tech and think of it as typing. You post here so you can type.
Look right below the place where you type in your comments. You will see a sentence that begins, "You can use some HTML tags," followed by three examples. If you want italics you type the three characters with the "i" in the middle where you want the italics to start.
You add a "/" (slash mark) to the three characters (put it before the i) to let the computer know to stop using italics. Bold is done the same way, only with a "b" instead of an "i".
Once you've done it three times you will wonder why it was so hard. After you've done it 20 times you will wonder why you have to type in tags rather than just click a button like most programs have done for 20 years.
Whatever you do, don't resort to ALL CAPS for emphasis. We use ALL CAPS to highlight answers in the puzzle. Any other time it is understood to be YELLING, USUALLY YELLING SOMETHING LIKE "GET OFF OF MY LAWN."

Anonymous 9:24 PM  

For the second week in a row, the NYT iPad app had the wrong $&@/!?! title for the puzzle: instead of "make it a double" the title on iPad was "make THAT a double". WTF?

Z 9:27 PM  

@Tom - The key is to remember that "Spot" in clues can mean "TV Ad." So "A spot (TV Ad) for vaccinations" could be a Public Service Announcement, PSA. You will see "spot" used this way again, file it away in near the same place you keep Yser, Ebro, Enya, and Eno.

Michelle Turner 10:09 PM  

I love the fact that UConn got a shoutout!

Nancy 10:11 PM  

let's try it, @Z.

Nancy 10:15 PM  

Yay, me! Yay, @Carola, @Teedmn (off-blog), and @Z. But it really is a pain in the you-know-where. And now, back to non-italics, yes? Let's see. If it works, I'll just say WOW! (Sorry, Z).

Z 10:48 PM  

@Nancy - Woo Hoo!

Anonymous 11:19 PM  

Any male over the age 60 (or 40?) should know that PSA is the result of a blood test and the result had better be less than 4.

Hartley70 6:56 AM  

I want to wake up and smell the roses.

Hartley70 7:01 AM  

Yippee! Thanks @Carola! Your explanation worked for me on my iPhone! I don't have the sentence that Z refers to "You can use some HTML tags".

Mohair Sam 7:59 AM  

Italics? I'm learning maybe from Nancy? Yikes!

kitshef 7:16 PM  

A discouraging DNF, as I had LIMOGES, but changed it to LeMOGES when I got to ERe TU. The non-rebusey IT made me overthink LIMOGES, 'gee, LE is the masculine article, LeMOGES is probably French for "the bowls" or some such thing'.

But I really enjoyed the puzzle. FITBITS and NITWITS in particular.Oh, and ITSYBITSYSPIDER.

Not sure I understand @Matt's objection to the one-IT words. To me, those were themers, too. Who says the themers have to have two ITs?

And @Nancy - congratulations. Next you'll be embedding links!

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Darrow - Scopes trial, not Lepold and Loeb

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  


it AFFECTS the ENDGAME, the STAKES, and conditions.
It’s always a THREAT to BUSTAGUT when she STRAINS to try


BS2 11:44 AM  

@anon 12:26 - re: Lepold and Loeb:

After the two men were arrested, Loeb's parents retained Clarence DARROW as counsel for their defense. DARROW's 12-hour-long summation at their sentencing hearing is noted for its influential criticism of capital punishment as retributive rather than transformative justice.

Believe it or not, Clarence DARROW participated in more than one famous trial. Do your research before stating your "facts". A 10 second google search goes a long way to prevent showing your ignorance.

spacecraft 12:18 PM  

Like some others, I'm puzzled by the title. Using "THAT" instead of "IT" cost me beaucoup time. Early on, I really wanted GRANITE for the curling stonex2, but had only six squares. If I'd seen "Make it a double," I'd have gotten the trick right there. As it was, I had to abandon that area and dig in somewhere else. I eventually became convinced that the rebus was "IT" with ITSYBITSYSPIDER, whereupon my GRANITE could go in, as well as TRITT. From then on the solve wasn't too bad. With IT in the title I'd have rated this easy-medium; with "THAT" we have a medium, even leaning toward medium-challenging. I just don't understand the title.

I'm not as fussy as a lot of you about ERI TU; after all the IT is split betweeen two words. My fuss about that entry is its overuse. An enviable mix of letters, it comes off as a crutch. If I'm deducting it'll be for that reason. DOD's lately have been actresses who played the entry character; today continues the trend with DIAN, played by one of the sexiest women around, Sigourney Weaver.

Theme density necessitates some rough fill; I've seen worse. Gotta give points for COLDCOCK. Yeah, C. Or as I put it, par.

rondo 12:36 PM  

Got IT early on when GRANITE didn’t fit, any true Minnesotan knows his/her curling stones. Actually mostly solved from the S on up with ELVIS on top of simian yeah baby DIAN going to UCONN, those NITWITS could KEEPITTOGETHER. Ed ASNER gets no rest.

At least TARRING had nothing to do with paving roads, which it doesn’t.

Was it this way at your school? The GREASERs slicked their hair back, wore black jackets and shoes while the Baldies used no hair goop, wore burgundy jackets with black sleeves and also brown wing-tip shoes. Neither group wore BERETS. The girls wore hooded benchwarmer coats in either burgundy or navy depending on POSSE affiliation. Watch out for the girl who had one of each color, depending on who her date was.

I’ve always liked when yeah baby Soledad OBRIEN shows up on screen. She’s one of those TVHOSTS whose smile just brightens the room.

IT was a nice and easy for a rebus, don’t you AGREE?

rain forest 3:04 PM  

Attempting, and failing, sigh. I'll never try that again.

Today I agree and disagree with everybody. I agree this was a fun puzzle which I did not find sloggy, or sloggish, in the least. I agree that having two down themers was just fine. I disagree that NITWITS, and FITBIT, are themers - they have two [IT]s because they intersect two themers that do. I disagree that ERI TU weakens the puzzle. The I and the T are in separate words, unlike the themers where the I and T are found together within individual words.

There was some excellent fill in this puzzle, and some nice cluing. I must say that LIMOGES is LIMOGES. However on my trip around France last year, a helpful individual assured us (my BFF and me) that LIMOGES is *bosh*, whatever that means, and that Niort is boring.

I enjoyed Matt Gaffney's stint as blogger-on-call, and although I disagreed with almost every letter grade, I found the tone of his comments to be of a standard that @Rex might strive to attain.

rain forest 3:10 PM  

Hey, I didn't fail with my attempt to get italics to appear after all. Proud.

AnonymousPVX 3:19 PM  

I was able to solve but I do disagree that this was easy. I thought it crunchy and despite my dislike for gimmick puzzles I kind of enjoyed it.

Diana,LIW 4:01 PM  

A Goldylocks of a puzzle - just right. And lookee' here, I solved a rebus!

The lil' ole' spider gave me the keys to the solve. Knew spiders are my friends.

Lotsa fun sussing out the ITs. My cashier asks "did you find everything?" And stockers all over the store constantly ask if they can help me find something. I know they are being helpful, but it gets old. I must appear lost. Funny thing is, my friends and family know me as "the one who finds things."

I didn't BUSTAGUT, but I was put into a JOCULAR mood.

On to the Sunday funnies.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 8:21 PM  

Slowing down with age, I guess, but this is the most entertaining Sunday TIMESINKS (from earlier puzzle) I've slogged through. Glad I persevered.

Got the rebus trick early enough with SWITCHPOSITIONS, but the others were not as obvious. "Make That (IT) a Double" is a perfect title.

Had a good laugh at clue and answer for PATERNITYSUIT and having sperm before SPORE.

REWind of tapes instead of REVerse digital play seems really LOWTECH.

THYMUSES/PURL cross and COLDCOCK (great term) were fun to suss out, and Soledad's last name OBRIEN took time to spell right.

After finally finishing (I thought), saw my error at RELdENO/AdE cross. Some ades are carbonated aren't they?

So much for another Sunday TIMESINK, but one that was fun to slog around in.

Phillip Blackerby 7:55 PM  

Thank you.

Phillip Blackerby 7:59 PM  

Darrow also defended Loeb.

Bananafish 6:00 PM  

I got bitten at the AMON/STRAINS cross - had a T there instead of an N.

I never heard of AMON and AMOT seemed just as likely, and I figured STRAITS fit for better for "Melodic passages" as a "passage" connencting two bodies of water since I think of a STRAIN as being unmelodic. True, I could not quite figure out what "melodic" was doing there, but I figured it had something to do with the calming effect of the sea waves.

I would feel worse about missing that if ERITU was not in the grid because then straITs would not have seemed permissible.

Unknown 12:01 PM  

I'd like someone to explain STUARTS or, more accurately, the clue of "Englsh royal family". I can see "British royal family" or, of course, "Scottish royal family" but isn't "English" historically inaccurate?

Tom 12:02 PM  

I'd like someone to explain STUARTS or, more accurately, the clue of "Englsh royal family". I can see "British royal family" or, of course, "Scottish royal family" but isn't "English" historically inaccurate?

Z 12:18 PM  

@Tom - Didn't the STUARTS rule Scotland, Ireland, and England? Hence, they were the Royal Family of England, English royal family for short.

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