Focus of onomastics / SUN 8-14-16 / One-eyed female on Futurama / Enough to Roman / Durkheim so-called Father of Sociology / Product possibly named after real physician / Like settings of typical Grant Wood paintings / Frost-covered biochemical solid / Thick-skinned grazer / Southwestern cliff dwellers

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Moral Thinking" — "-al" sound added to familiar phrases; wackiness follows:

Theme answers:
  • THE OLD GRAY MERYL (23A: Actress Streep playing a centenarian?)
  • BARTLETT PERIL (31A: Risky business for a compiler of quotations?)
  • KODIAK BARREL (52A: Alaskan beer container?)
  • MARKET SHERYL (72A: Promote singer Crow's music?)
  • BILL OF FERRELL (92A: Debt for comedian Will?)
  • HANDLE WITH CAROL (104A: "I can't help you, but the Brady Bunch mom will be happy to assist"?)
  • ICY STEROL (35D: Frost-covered biochemical solid?)
  • THIN ERROL (48D: Like actor Flynn post-dieting?)
Word of the Day: WIDOW (63A: Typographical no-no) — 

a last word or short last line of a paragraph falling at the top of a page or column and considered undesirable. (google)
• • •

Add-a-sound. This type of thing has to be perfectly executed for me to enjoy it, and this one just wasn't. There was an arbitrariness and pointlessness to this that made it seem ... listless. Like a placeholder. You know those photos that come *with* the frames? The ones that *look* like family photos and certainly could play them on TV, but that don't move you in any way because they're clearly not just not *your* family—they're not anybody's family? So that's about the level at which this puzzle hit me, emotionally. It's like a plausible facsimile of a puzzle. A puzzle you'd see in an acid reflux medication ad. Is that a crossword? Sure looks like one? Huh, OK, what were we talking about? Oh, right, Prilosec. Add-a-WHATEVER themes must be tight! I mean, for pete's sake, they should at least be tight enough to result in a meaningful title. "Moral Thinking"??? So ... "More '-al' Thinking?" Is that it? But ... "More Thinking" is not anything. What a mess. "Gimme Moral"! "Moral Bounce to the Ounce!" "... Baby One Moral Time!" Something!

Was weirdly slow to start, and then picked up speed quite a bit toward the middle and end. Tried to get cute and fill in 5A: Means of going down a 36-Down without looking at 36-Down, which caused problems (shocker) at both 5-Across and 36-Down. I put in RAMP at 5A, and then later, when I got it changed to RAFT, I put in RIVER at 36-Down. I'd say 1/3 of the puzzle's total resistance came from my total mishandling of this cross-reference situation. Slowest section was WNW, where SNIPER wouldn't come (33A: Good shot?), and where AMY'S really wanted to be EDY'S (44A: ___ Kitchen (frozen food brand)), and apparently I don't know what "onomastics" means, ugh (34D: Focus of onomastics (NAMES)). Had a few issues in the NE too, where SEDATE preceded SERENE (29A: Unruffled), DOLTS preceded DODOS (13A: Meatheads), and SOLELY was toughly clued at 17D: 100%. Really enjoyed both GAG ORDER (77D: It stops talking) and COLD CALL (80D: Telemarketer's action), particularly the former, as the clue *and* answer are first-rate. Overall grid quality is decent, actually, but the theme's just a dud for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 1:15 AM  

Appreciate your comments, @Rex, about @Ian Livengood's Sunday puzzle. Many of our friends were at the Lollapuzzoola tournament earlier today, and all reports are that it was a great success despite the sweltering heat in NYC. But those of us with ailing dogs keeping us home, or work to do in the laboratory to get ready for fall semester teaching, had to do with this evening's offering.

I was thrilled to see ISOTOPES in the puzzle, though I should point out that there was no reason per se to pick two examples that are radioactive. I further enjoyed seeing a chemical FITB clue, "___ acid" -- which could be AMINO and OLEIC, in addition to the correct BORIC. And how very erudite to clue ANDERS for the eponymous originator of the Celsius scale, give a calculus clue for AREA, and remind us of a real-life hero astronaut, ALDRIN, with the "Buzz in space" clue.

Having already picked up the theme, I couldn't wait to discover what biochemical solid might be covered with frost. Suffice it to say that I second @Rex's report on that region ... yes, we should all have heard of choleSTEROL but the stand-alone 6-letter suffix strikes me as more of a cruciverbal convenience than part of the vernacular of practicing scientists and physicians.

I had RIVER for way too long in the cross-referenced slot that actually answers to RAPID (singular), where one might take a HASTY RAFT ride. Both the M and Y of AMYS (possessive) took forever to find, given the way the crossing words were clued. Poehler, Reynaldo, Schumer, Sedaris, Tan, and Winehouse, to give just a few NAMES off the top of my head, will have to get OVER this cluing snub.

Larry Gilstrap 2:11 AM  

I'm usually more rosy than LMS on the first day of summer break, but I had to put on my OFL cranky pants for some of this puzzle. My home turf around San Diego, Orange, LA counties made me think I was in a town west of Boston. Never saw Futurama, never will. Never studied sociology, never will, I hope. And then, up around Portland, never bought frozen food. The theme was perfectly getable and mildly enjoyable and I felt pretty smug tearing through this grid, but when I hit my native land at the end of my tour, not so much. Maybe that's my problem, but one galling nit: the Hopi lived on mesas, I've been there and seen the ancient pueblos. The Anasazi lived in cliff dwellings. My personal advice to anyone, don't f**k with Hopi mojo! I have stories.

Anonymous 2:41 AM  

Why no grade? C-, at best!

Martín Abresch 3:45 AM  

Rex pretty well summarized my view of this puzzle. Anything that I could say would only confuse things. In other words, I've nothing to addle.

Loren Muse Smith 5:40 AM  

Reporting a dnf here because I didn't know MINIMI, EMILE, or LEENA. So with "Alders" in for ANDERS and "Aldren" for ALDRIN, I was doomed.

I was tooling along no problem 'til I came to 35D. Hmm. Looking for the two extra queens that came with our most excellent chess set, we recently pulled the couch out away from the wall. "Frost covered biochemical solid." Well. Sure looked like frost. Fuzzy frost. God knows what it was. Gross.

Oh. And I actually considered "yellow snow" there, too. No kidding.

A few errors –
"best" for LAST 113D.
"emeritus" for ESTEEMED. Dumb.
"elude" for EVADE. Not dumb.

I love the word PRIG. Just lose the vocal cords and you get "prick." Cool.

For 104A, I was thinking the HANDLE would be the L-added part. Handle job, say. ;-) You go, Carol.

@Token Millenial – welcome! I used to ask my husband for help, too, but he never got/understood the whole "clue is the same part of speech as the answer" thing. Sigh.

@Carola – I meant to thank you for that amok link. The Malay way of saying "go postal." Really interesting.

@Martin Arbresch – hah! And you touch upon why this theme is so tight - Ian added the L to things that rhyme with "bear." I like your idea – mouse paddle, saddle sack

@Larry Gilstrap – I've been making a real effort to dial back the rosiness, limiting the exclamation points and such. But, I yam what I yam and all that. ˉ\_(ツ)_/ˉ

I liked this a lot more than Rex. Favorites were THE OLD GRAY MERYL, ICY STEROL (thanks, @George for the cholesterol deal), and BARTLETT PERIL. Thanks, Ian.

Charles Rosenzweig 6:41 AM  

What is the familiar phrase for icy sterol?

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

It seemed like you "lifted" your substitute's grading system for a few days without attribution and now are secretly dropping it. Did someone object?

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

"What is the familiar phrase for icy sterol?"

That one confused me as well until I realized it was "icy stare."

Conrad 7:13 AM  

@Charles Rosenzweig: Icy Stare. Apparently, part of the theme was converting the "air" sound into "err".

Unknown 7:14 AM  

Anybody else pissed off NYTimes has put "variety puzzles" online behind paywall?

Lewis 7:15 AM  

I agree this felt like a placeholder puzzle, but that is not a slam to me. We need placeholder stuff in life. We need the everyday between the extraordinary events (or they wouldn't be extraordinary; they would become placeholders themselves). God bless the special moments in life and God bless the ordinary -- they equally contribute. I love these placeholder puzzles if they are of good quality. They keep the chops honed, provide some good moments and even some ughs, and they are the foundation of the puzzle solving life. So, while this puzzle wasn't a wow for me, it was competent, challenging enough, and a fine solving experience. And when a wow puzzle does come along, it will be -- thanks to good puzzles like this -- a special experience.

chefbea 8:12 AM  

Fun puzzle and I did get most of the themers.. Don't understand 50 ops?????

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

The "variety puzzles" ARE free. I pay for home delivery. How is this home delivery?

NCA President 9:07 AM  

Typical Sunday for me. Too long, little payoff.

The NAMES/AMYS crossing was oddly over-challenging compared to the rest of the puzzle. Never heard of Amy's Kitchen and had to Google onomastics.

WHUP? MINIMI? Also ALDReN took a Google to fix...since I didn't know who EMILE Durkheim was.

Evidently Rex has abandoned the grading system, but I give it a solid C. Average. Middle of the road. Typical. Unsurprising.

NCA President 9:09 AM  

@chefbea: Black OPS are covert military "operations."

Chris 9:09 AM  

The ICYSTEROL section took me a while. I had the STEROL but I tend to pronounce that as STEER-ahl so that was leading me nowhere. I had to remember that it should be STAIR-ahl to get there.

@chefbea: "black ops" are covert military operations. There's a popular video game series named "Call of Duty: Black Ops".

Teedmn 9:13 AM  

A fine Sunday puzzle though I did not speed through it. A leisurely hunt and peck gave me a relaxing jaunt through the grid.

Putting down "cold" as a preceder of "snaps" at 1D got me off to an awkward start because I followed it up with "salad bar" as going with my soup at 27A. ISOTOPES helped me rethink that area. And the 5A/36D duo held me up also. 5A was RA__ and I didn't know if MERYL would be GReY or GRAY. _IRS was not bringing any detritus to mind at 7D, January or otherwise but I finally saw RAFT and with the R and D in place at 36D, RAPID fell in place with nary a flirtation with River.

I had a chance to DNF at 49D when I put WHiP in at 56A but RiT didn't WHUP me there.

And finally, although I have seen "Futurama" more than once, LEELA was not quite there. A guess of MINIMI gave me EMILE and LEErA became LEELA, that's more like it.

I eat an AMY'S Kitchen frozen dinner nearly every day. Organic, vegetarian, microwaveable, the Palak Paneer is pretty darn good. Top it off with a freshly chopped tomato and call it a meal.

Thanks IL, you will get no ICY STEROLs from me for this puzzle.

Carola 9:26 AM  

Because of Ian Livengood's witty early-week puzzles, I'd expected something more in the knee-slapping range. I did admire the two-syllable theme words he came up with and the array of vowels he used for the "air-ull" sounds: ER + YL, AR+OL, etc. I didn't think ICY STEROL fit with the rest, which all have a proper name in the theme answer (althouth "icy stare" is a great idea). I liked the cross of PRIGS and PRUDES.

Teedmn 9:30 AM  

I would like to thank everyone who wished me luck at the Lollapuzzoola tournament, @Hartley70, @Loren, @M&A, and others. I came in slightly under the middle of the Local pack so I need more speed and accuracy, looks like. @BobKerfuffle was a wonderful guide, along with his friend Dick from Connecticut and all the nice people they introduced me to. I also got to connect with Chris Adams, an up and coming solver and constructor (he got 2nd place in the Local category) and I got to talk briefly with David Steinberg and Brendan Emmett Quigley, all very gracious people.

But the person who really made this trip fun was fellow @Rexite, @Nancy, who served me delicious wine and cheese and kept herself available in the evenings to spend time with me. And her praise of me on yesterday's blog makes me blush, it's so very kind of her. And don't let her fool you - she's got some Broadway musical material that is just waiting for a chance to hit the stage. The lyrics she's written embody that exact balance of humor and wordplay one looks for in those productions.

Except for the ungodly heat, this was a wonderful trip and I hope to be able to do it again though it would be nice if a few more people from this blog could make it. The puzzles were sometimes mind blowing but all very well constructed. Kudos to the Lollapuzzoola people for running a fun and well-organized tournament.

Maruchka 9:34 AM  

Slogging along, humming a song, how much can go wrong?

A tussle. A struggle. A muggle. DNF and DNG. With @Rexall.

Favel of the day - LEENA. Why? Daughter's spunky Halloween costume. I'd import her photo, if only I knew howl..

Runner-upal: WIDOW. Widows and orphans are my favorite word processing onomasticyls.

Z 9:36 AM  

Back in the day the house we shared came with an awesome 3"x5" portrait. Imagine American Gothic only gaunter, less attractive, and the man had bigger ears. This black and white picture had a certain d!epression era quality to it, but for all we now it was recent. We proudly displayed this awesomeness through several moves and housemates, new housemates often asking who the picture was and giving us a bit of the side eye on hearing the photo's provenance. At some point the photo didn't follow us anymore. I doubt that the unknown subjects would ever have believed how much joy they gave to a bunch of snarky 20-somethings.

Maruchka 9:39 AM  

And where's @Bob Kerfuffle?

QuasiMojo 9:39 AM  

Terrellible forced puzzle.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

I know I have a Philly accent, but who says CARE-OL Brady or SHARE-YL CROW OR PEAR-IL? That made this puzzle a flop to me.

AliasZ 9:52 AM  

The theme was so undemanding that the unused portion of my brain started wandering around the grid, the results of most of which are best left hidden, a few others are listed below, in no particular order:

-- Favorite entries: PRIGS crossing PRUDES at THE OLD GRAY MARE sanctuary.
-- Why JEERED and JCREW and not SEE RED and SCREW?
-- I was pleased to see the center of the Horatio ALGER Hiss trio.
-- I managed to live this long without having heard THE OLD GRAY MARE.
-- THIN ERROL left me confused. Isn't THIN AIR spelled FINNAIR?
-- Like @George, I got a buzz out of the ALDRIN clue, as did ANDERS Celsius.
-- I wonder which is a more common soccer score, ONE-NIL, one-one or nil-nil?
-- PACER could have used the oldie automotive clue. Remember that old gremlin?

There were many more idle observations, but why bore everyone. I must say, the fill was squeaky clean. I really enjoyed this puzzle.

The moral of the story is: it's easier to catch a bear with honey than two in the bush.

jberg 9:56 AM  

For those complaining about the variety puzzles, look at the rest of the magazine, which consists of nothing but the article by Scott Anderson, with photos by Paolo Pellegrin, "Fractured Lands," which tells the story of the collapse of the Arab world through a focus on the lives of six individuals. They eliminated not only the variety puzzles, but all their other weekly features -- AND the ads! (There is one notice from the Pulitzer Center, but that's it.) They just needed the room; I expect things will be back to normal next week.

Oh yes, the puzzle. Thanks, @LMS, for pointing out the rhyming feature, I hadn't noticed it. Maybe @Rex didn't either. That does make it better.

DNF for me; I had no idea about AMY'S kitchen, so I went with ICe STEROL and AMeS. That would have been fixed if I had noticed it was a theme answer, but I didn't. I did notice ERROL Flynn, and at that point I wiser solver would have gone looking for the symmetrical themer -- but not me. I'm such a DODO.

I had no idea about Celsius's first name; if I hadn't known Durkheim's, I might have been stuck in that corner. LEELA certainly didn't help!

OK, time to go read the aforementioned article.

Annette 9:57 AM  

Up to the SW corner I was fairly amused and filling in at record pace, but Futurama, Scientology, pinkies did me in. I should have gotten Anders, but that never would have resulted in Minimi. All good will for this puzzle dissipated at this point, and I didn't bother to attempt the remainder.


SLS 10:03 AM  

Annoyed to see "variety puzzles" removed from the print magazine. If they are going to be online *only*, they should be playable online. These really need to be printed out to be played, and that's not the first thing I want to do Sunday morning - that's why I get the paper delivered.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

Dullsville. I had AMeS crossing ICeSTERO- (what's ICYSTEROL?) and I didn't know PELEG. (I only know PEGLEG). I had PE-EG. So I didn't quite finish this collection of tepid puns. Plus, there was much too much PPP. Other than that, I'm left with absolutely nothing to say about it, except...

Re 100D: There are much easier ways to calculate an AREA than calculus, for heaven's sake! Mathgent?

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

”I know I have a Philly accent, but who says CARE-OL Brady or SHARE-YL CROW OR PEAR-IL"

Sometimes, always and always respectively.

Oh and this Chen major pronounces sterol as STARE-ol

Steve M 10:38 AM  

Stared icily at icysterol

Mary Tepper 10:41 AM  

Argh. It's LEELA, damitall. Another L..

Eleveniss 10:41 AM  

Can anyone explain HUTS for preceder of snaps and AMA for fitness grp. Thanks!
P.S. I also did AMES and ice sterol and didn't know Minimi;)

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Quarterbacks say hut before the snap of the football

jae 10:59 AM  

I had the same reaction as @Rex did to this one, a bit meh. I found most of it pretty easy except for the area where @lms had her DNF. I ran into exactly the same problems she did in not knowing MINIMI and EMILE and thinking LEELA was LEEzA or LEEnA. So, I called my daughter who was a Soc. major and after giving her a couple of letters she came up with EMILE. A technical DNF for me too.

Roo Monster 11:00 AM  

Hey All !
WNW section Rex mentioned flummoxed me but good. Whole lotta stuff there I just couldn't suss. Had SosuE me in for SPARE, after finally seeing SNIPER, Managed to get PACER, but the rest... nothing. ICYSTEROL isn't something that sticks in the ole brain. Left squares blank below that section, as MERINO was never gonna happen. Thought my sELEG was right, so MAP was gpS, and also kept reading 66 Down as 65-Down preceder. Yikes. Had RES in for Low___ clue, but took it out and put in enD, since not knowing frozen food brand. Is that a regional brand?

Rest of puz good. Liked the theme, kind of odd they weren't all names. Figure stick with a certain type of theme, not names and no-names. Just a nit.

Never heard Rexs WOD WIDOW used that way. Spelled HEIGL HieGL at first, of course. Wanted roUt for WHUP, but didn't commit, so not a writeover. So Medium-Hard overall, with WNW impossible!

LIVER me timbers

Joseph Michael 11:29 AM  

I usually like Ian Livengood's puzzles, but this one was disappointing to say the least.

The poorly named and forced theme is too weak to support a Sunday puzzle, so it gets increasingly dull as one slogs through it.

Hated the trainwreck in the SW corner, the last section to go, though TIRED does describe how I felt when it was over.

To those who thought of ICY STARE as the counterpart for 35 D, there is also ICY STAIR, a much more common phenomenon in the friendly but frigid winters of Chicago.

Numinous 11:35 AM  

I have never heard of a river having a RAPID. RAPIDs I've heard of but I've never heard a kayaker say, "Let's shoot the RAPID."

I guess MARKET SHaRe-aL is possible but ICY STare-aL from STEROL? NFW. THIN air-al Flynn? I see THIN ERRor there. THE OLD GRAY MaR- al? I get what the theme is driving at but still. Schwas do not homophones make. When I say Ms. Streep''s name I say it with a short e, not a long a so I see THE OLD GRAY Mere-al. Same with the first letter of Mr. Flynn's name. I'm not normally so pedantic but this theme really irks me. BTW, do you say peedant or pehdent as in, "Don't be such a pehdent!" "That's peedent," or vice versa.

Like others here, I DNFed on RiT and ICi. I had to google to get EMILE which gave me MINIMI and LEENA. I don't think I've ever seen a full episode of Futurama, I've only seen a bit when the step son was watching it. That show is more Ian's age group than mine. Can anyone here name the "Book collection" on that show?

I'm afraid I have to give this one a D. Most of the rest of the fill was ok but the theme really pulled it down for me and as I have mentioned, grading for me is subjective. I suspect that @Mr. Parker was sufficiently unimpressed to not bother with a grade today.

'mericans in Paris 11:38 AM  

We're in Lugano, Switzerland this weekend (an Italian-speaking Canton), and must have purchased the only International New York Times on sale in the whole town.

We're with @Re on the lameness of the theme (great write-up!), and we agree with his medium rating. Took us most of the afternoon yesterday to finish. Didn' t have a clue as to which letter to enter at the A_A and _INIMI crossing, but finally chose "M". That was correct, but we had errors in several other places -- did not get ICY STEROL, for one -- so DNF. Also, like some others, had So suE long before SPARE.

Mrs. 'mericans wanted "Lightyear" in answer to 88D ("Buzz in space"), and was convinced that there must be a trick that would enable it to fit.


Alan_S. 11:46 AM  

@Lewis - I agree, we need placeholders in life, to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary,
but for this one? Lipstick on a pig.

G.Harris 11:47 AM  

I think mini me would be a better answer, especially since denar is a perfectly acceptable description of gulf cash.

newspaperguy 11:52 AM  

To all those who complain about the pronunciations in the theme: If you mispronounce words or names, Meryl for example, is it the puzzle maker's fault? Words like sterol have more than one accepted pronunciation, and one does fit the theme. English is a strange language, which is part of the appeal of crossword puzzles.

nick 12:04 PM  

Never managed to hit a groove in this one, just hacked my way through and was surprised to look up and see most of the puzzle finished. Except for that SE cluster of wtf proper nouns, which was a morass of Natick.

old timer 12:08 PM  

This world is just a play
Those who say don't know
And those who know don't say.

Written by Willy Schwartz but I prefer the Jody Stecher version

I agree with OFL today. Puzzle was ordinary at best, and a chore to complete.

I looked up "onomastics" in the dictionary. So I got NAMES. But did get AMYS? No and shame on me! Got their start in Sonoma County, too. They are huge in the frozen organic food biz.

I had to look up PELEG to make sure it was right. I kind of resent it when all the themers but one are Across. When that happens you don't think of the outlier as a themer. Had I realized I would have gotten AMYS for sure.

r.alphbunker 12:30 PM  

I had a curious 4 minute dead zone at the 10 minute mark but then returned to normal Sunday cadence.

Details are here.

Jim Hendler 12:43 PM  

I'm confused on minimi - best I can find is that minimi is a muscle attached to small fingers and toes - is there a better explanation? Without that SW corner requires obscure names

Da Bears 12:49 PM  

@Rex said, "It's like a plausible facsimile of a puzzle." There is so much to like about that sentence, it almost made doing this puzzle worthwhile.

phil phil 1:13 PM  

Rex's problems were not mine except for onomastics.
Icysterol, i was happy to get the sterol part
'blame' me was the best I could do to spare me.

But my woe was the futureama character name crossed by prenoms of who? Celcius and father of some crap.
digiti for small fingers and toes was my guess on a bad corner.

And tell me please who in their most innocnt naive mind can attribute our illustrious pill-pushing insurance-lover AMA with fitness. Maybe there is another AMA group. Clue me in.

phil phil 1:15 PM  

For a while stuck in that poor shipmate queeg because of the 'g' but peleg crossed thankfully

Dr. Bunger 1:19 PM  

Captain PELEG had a financial interest in the the Pequod along with Captain Bildad and others. Melville's description of his dialogue with Ishmael does much to reveal the financial workings of the Nantucket whaling hierarchy and the mindset of Mid-Nineteenth Century Quakers. Like many names in Moby-Dick, it is derived from and the Old Testament and enigmatic in its significance to the novel's tone. "I have written a blasphemous book and I feel as spotless as a lamb."

phil phil 1:27 PM  

@old timer
Actually there were two symetrical themers down. I got one errol flynn but was too warn down to realize the other was a themer. That was my moby dick I see. I would have got it and only been left to rue the three propernames in the SW.

charlie 1:39 PM  

Please, please stop this silly exercise of assigning "grades" to puzzles. It comes across as really snarky and demeaning to constructors and solvers alike. How about we start assigning a grade to Rex's reviews?

Tita A 1:40 PM  

Can't see the word LIVER without thinking of my niece - when snatched away by incredibly mean parents to live for three years in London, at the tender age of 11, she waged a campaign of shaming and guilting on an amazing scale. (It lasted until she made her first friend, and then she loved it.)

Part of that campaign was a hand-lettered sign she affixed to her bedroom door to make it crystal clear she only wanted to see people who hailed from her hometown, Darien.
"Darien LIVERS and lovers only!"

Can someone please provide me with that head-slap moment over MINIMI? I don't get it, and am surprised that only one other poster is asking. Makes me feel even dumber. I've already asked all my real-world xword folks.

I thought the puzzle was pretty blah, and didn't like the sloppiness of the vowel change needed to make it work.
So I DNFd, and DNC.

Roo Monster 1:56 PM  

Hey, figured out a change to SW, chamge DINAR to SENOR, resulting in ABATES, MINI ME (Austin Powers movie character), LEELO (Fifth Element character). While we're at it, make MERINO the much easier MARINO (Dolphins QB).

And clue AMYS a much simpler way! :-P

And you damn kids need to get off my lawn!


Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Will merry Mary marry?

My friend from Tennessee insisted those three m words were pronounced the same way (her version came out like merry merry merry to my ears.) They are three separate vowels sounds to me.

This puzzle seems to suffer from the same vowel confusion. The puns may work in some parts of the US and not others.

Token Millenial 2:29 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith - Thank you! My husband has started attempting the USA Today puzzles. He won't do an NYT Monday on his own yet, still too intimidated. We're working up to it ;)

I also DNFed in the SW, not knowing ANDERS or EMILE or MINIMI, being sure AMA would be something else, and never having watched Futurama for more than five minutes. Some of my college friends were really into it, but I spent my college TV time marathoning Battlestar Galactica and How I Met Your Mother.

I didn't consider this puzzle a slog - zipped through most of it nicely - but there wasn't much excitement, either. It was very tranquil, just right for how I'm feeling this Sunday afternoon.

Chaos344 2:33 PM  

What Rex said. The southwest corner was a Natick minefield of epic proportions, so I have to assume that Will Shortz either left it that way on purpose, or made it that way by substituting original cluing? Unfair crosses always make for a bad puzzle! Fortunately, I knew ANDERS and ALDRIN. Even then, I had no idea as to 87D, 93D, or 106A. I had to keep punching in various letters until MHP appeared. So, a technical DNF.

I also thought that the theme was inconsistent, vis-a-vis pronunciation. According to the popular 50's era song, Davie Crockett "killed him a "bar" when he was only three", but I doubt there are many real bars on Kodiak Island? I've have a passing knowledge of black bear hunting, but I'm an expert on bar hunting! In keeping with the theme, a better clue might have been ALASKAN ISLAND GEMSTONE, or KODIAK BERYL?

Same with 104A. Who pronounces Carol or Carole as CARE-ALL? I don't think anyone can make the case supporting a regional variation?

I say TOM-A-TOE, You say TOE-MA-TOE? I say CO-LESTER-ALL, you say CO-LESS-STEER-ALL? No consistency.

@LMS: Possibly your best post ever? Certainly one of your funniest! You hit my puerile sense of humor right in the solar plexus! YELLOW SNOW? Loosening the vocal chords when saying PRIG? Then the Pièce De Résistance, Carol's HANDLE JOB! Betcha Carol is real popular with the Brady boys?

Not to worry Loren. Everyone here has accepted you as "Our Lady Of Perpetual Rosiness" long ago. It's not really a bad thing that begs an apology. We realize that it is virtually impossible for you to criticize a puzzle, or God forbid, a constructor! As a matter of fact, I have a theory. Some women fantasize about being abducted and ravished by the likes of Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp. I believe your fantasy involves being snatched by any of your favorite crossword constructors. They would spirit you away to a medieval keep, where you would be forced to collaborate on their latest creations. You would be forces to supply exceptional clues and answers, but rewarded by a mention of your name on Wordplay and Rex Parker. Does that fantasy leave you feeling damp?

We all luv ya lady! Don't ever stop being you!

Stanley Hudson 3:00 PM  

What @Nancy said so eloquently: "collection of tepid puns."

@Chaos344, cut down on the coffee, or alcohol, or both. And don't quit your day job.

Dick Swart 3:01 PM  

A slog ona Sunday with very little fun and a bunch of abstract clues.

Craig Trueblood 3:19 PM  

Without reading all 59 previous comments, a WIDOW is not a typographical no-no, it is a formatting no-no. I mean, "Widow and orphan control" is on the Formatting menu. A WIDOW does not result from typing something wrong, it comes from formatting it badly.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Yet Another Sunday Slog.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

ops = operations

Z 3:34 PM  

@Craig Trueblood - "Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed."

Chaos344 3:35 PM  

@ Stanley Hudson: Really? Not quite sure why you had a problem with my last post, but here are a few things you should know.

First of all, weather they be caffeine, alcohol, or anything else, my excesses are none of your business!

Secondly,I've been retired for eight years and living life large! If you've got a problem, my E-mail addy is right on my profile. Use it.

GILL I. 4:30 PM  

I wonder if Ian really had Moral Thinking. He seems a lot more creative than using that blah title.
THE OLD GRAY MERYL made me laugh. She's anything but. Dang, I thought she and Robert Redford were going to have a little ESTEEMED fling. Speaking of: @Teedmn...GRE(England)Y GRA(American)Y
@Larry Gilstrap. The Hopi ARE cliff dwellers...So are the Anasazi and the one tribe I always think of, the Sinaguas.
@Loren. I had PANINI for the little fingers and toes. PAN for the little finger like bread and INI for the toe shaped burrini cheese. Bit of a stretch but so is calling a BIDET a bathroom fixture. Maybe in every other country in the world, but we use toilet paper here.
Fine Sunday puzzle to do this very hot Sunday. I'm going to make gazpacho now and a little side of a cheese panini.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

For those who do the diagramless puzzle, the magazine has the wrong info for the start of 1 across. It should start on the sixth square of the first row, not the fourth. The online version is correct.

Deborah Wess 4:57 PM  

Ha! With you, there. I'm newish to this blog, and only do the Sun. puzzle. But as far as I can tell, everyone's sour grapes, week in and week out, boil down to the same thing: if you've heard of said cultural references, or geographic feature, or ______, or not. If you haven't, you think the puzzle's too hard or the constructor was unfair. If you "get" everything you complain it's too easy. Can't have it both ways. Not everyone's going to have read Moby Dick, eat a certain brand of frozen food if any, watch Futurama, or have a chemical background. Get over yourselves, and enjoy learning something new. For me that was minimi and that sense of widow.

I got tripped up by 31A, even though I knew Bartlett. Only themer where the proper name didn't contain the "air" sound, and where it came first rather than at the end of the phrase. Also started off with FLORENCE for 104A, because I thought, based on title, that all would have an /or/ sound in them.'Mericans in Paris, tell your wife I wanted Lightyear too!

Da Bears 5:04 PM  

Hey @Chaos, one of my favorite TV shows these days is Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. There aren't many Drive-Ins left anymore. If the joint has a juke, it's a Diner. If not, it's a Dive. The food is all comfort....

Leapfinger 5:18 PM  

@Jim Hendler and @Tita, you asked about MINIMI. All I can say about that is that I worked with hand surgeons for 16 years, and taught the anatomy of the upper extremity to students most of those years, and was still pretty amazed to see that clue/entry surface. In brief, the fifth finger of the hand has some independent extrinsic muscles (the muscle belly is in the forearm, and only the tendon extends past the wrist, like the extensor digiti MINIMI, as well as some some intrinsic muscles of its own (the abductor digiti MINIMI and opponens digiti MINIMI, whose muscle bellies are found within the hand proper). The only anatomic term more arcane would be the LUMBRICALS, so called on account of their worm-like appearance, and if that ever appears in a puzzle, I'd call that grounds for mass rioting.

One somewhat interesting factoid is that the index finger and little finger both have their own independent extensors, while the long and ring finger are served by a common extensor that fans to the four finger (2-5) that has tethers between the fanning rays. For this reason, the index finger can be fully extended alone, to point at things, and the 5th MINIMI can also be fully extended, as in making the sign of the horns. The long finger and ring finger, served only by the tethered extensor, cannot be fully extended alone, and if you think they can, as when you flip someone the bird, you are wrong.

@Alias, you know I had to go to my H.A.H. file for ALGER.

@Larry Gilstrap, the Anasazi thank you.

@r.alph.b, I abso-lutely love your new look.

@TeedMN and @Nancy and all the talented/lyrical/other puzzlers at/near LOLLEDpuzzoola: kudos! and maybe next year I won't have a sick dog to tend. I'm sure I can scrounge up some appropriate 'hoist a pair' apparel.


Chaos344 5:29 PM  

@Da Bears:

Totally agree my friend! Isn't that how this whole Wordplay/Rex thing started?

Real Diners have Juke boxes! Real Drive-Ins are where we learned how to enjoy "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights"!

"Dives" have pool tables, cheap beer, and other things that appeal to young men!

Meg Greer 5:57 PM  

I finally had to refer to this blog in order to finish the puzzle. I had Anders, Tired and Emile, but billofferrell totally baffled me. As an MBA I can tell you a bill of fare is not a debt. Also, as an age mate of Ms. Streep, I must say that I took great offense to theoldgraymeryl! Please! Overall, solvable, but not too joyful.

GPO 6:04 PM  

This was a pretty fun, pretty good medium for me.

There was some tough stuff in here for me, especially the SW, what with all those people I didn't know orhad half-forgotten; I was happy to dredge that dreck out of my brain.

Thanks Anonymous 4:34 -- I was staring at the diagramless for half an hour trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I finally just created a couple of new columns to the left!

Da Bears 6:07 PM  

@Chaos, my friend Charles used to go to the Bears training camp in Indiana with his parents when he was a boy. They once stopped at a diner for lunch. His mother wanted some dessert and ordered a pie she thought was raisin pie. His father saved her. Those weren’t raisins. They were flies.

Chronic dnfer 6:11 PM  

Hey @nancy. Need calculus to figure out area under a curve.

Chaos344 6:30 PM  

@Da Bears:

OY VEY! I always wondered what Shoo Fly Pie was? Now I know!

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

I'm a WIDOW actually a WIDOWER How the hell is that a "typographical no-no"?

Z 7:00 PM  

@anon 6:56 - See definition 2.

Alex 7:06 PM  

I found this to be very easy, with the exception of the entirely impossible SW. ANDERS/EMILE/MINIMI/LEELA? Really? Gah!

Craig Trueblood 7:13 PM  

A widow is the last line of a paragraph left by itself at the top of a page; an orphan is the first line of a paragraph left by itself at the bottom of a page. You will want to avoid both widows and orphans in your documents, as they break up the flow of the text and tend to distract the reader.
However, as I commented earlier, it is not a typographical error (a mistake (such as a misspelled word) in typed or printed text) [Miriam Webster] but a formatting error.

Eleveniss 7:27 PM  

Loved this! Thanks!! ;)

Eleveniss 7:33 PM  

Amen on AMA!! NEVER thought it could possibly be that, even tho clue said "little" and I thought of mini.

Eleveniss 7:36 PM  

Please don't tell my husband I missed this meaning!! Omaha!!!

Mohair Sam 7:44 PM  

Got to this one late. Kinda fun to post late after seeing what everyone else had to say.

Surprised no one else complained about the raft on the RAPID(s). Are you nuts? Do what Lewis and Clark did - get the thing out the damned water, hitch the horses to it , and have them drag it ahead to smooth water. You could get killed!

The sounds of the themers work fine if you were born and raised in Upstate New York (as was Lady Mohair), otherwise they're iffy IMO.

Odd to us how we zipped happily through the SW and then read the troubles here, looked back, and wonder how the hell we did it.

@Craig Trueblood - Perfectly said - I had the same problem with the clue/answer.

Tita A 8:13 PM headslap moment for me...
Now I feel stupid for not having simply googled the word...I was so certain that it was a pun or a clever parsing of MINIMI that I was missing.
Thanks for that, including the trivia.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

@Craig Seriously obscure. And for those of us that are widowed a "no-no" in puzzlese. Right up there with most word plays on OBIT. Never funny. If you must use the answer, use it respectfully. There are so many ways to work it without making those of us with tragic losses not cringe even shiver remembering our loss.

Craig Trueblood 8:37 PM  

It is one of those things that either you know or you have no hope at all, so it is either not one bit obscure or totally obscure.
As one who has not lost anyone I never thought of it as a term that could trigger grief. I am so sorry for your loss.

beatrice 8:55 PM  

@Mohair Sam - many years ago I rafted along a stretch of the Nantahala (anyone else..?) with several friends. It was lovely and SERENE the entire way, until near the spot where we were to disembark. It was indeed whitewater, and just a short stretch of RAPIDS, but it was maybe 20 (?) of the most harrowing and exhilarating minutes of my life. And, after all, whitewater rafting is definitely a thing.

Was going to post earlier, but it got so late I decided not to...but I couldn't let that one go by without piping up. Since I'm here, I was also going to chime in on the pronunciation to-do. Being I Southerner, some of the themers and original phrases rhyme when I say them, but the rest are definitely in my ear. And to @Chaos 344, you're right: it's not CARE-ALL, it's CARE-ul, (but not by me).

Maybe no-one will see this, but I thought some SERENE music might be in order. This is an entire album of music for viol consort - some with voice - by William Byrd.

Pete 9:06 PM  

@Meg Greer - Ms Streep would very much seem old and likely gray as she plays an centenarian, as in the clue.

@Craig - the four dictionaries I looked all had (the equivalent of )

Typographical error:

A mistake in printing, typesetting, or typing, especially one caused by striking an incorrect key on a keyboard.

So yes, WIDOW is 100% supported in this usage.

Nancy 9:19 PM  

@Chronic dnfer (6:11) Come to think of it, that does ring a bell. A very, very vague bell, mind you, but a bell. Thank you.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Yuck. "____ me" crossing with "low ___" - those could be anything. Really disappointing.

Uke Xensen 9:30 PM  

Once I got "old gray Meryl" I threw the puzzle away in disgust.

D 10:50 PM  

moral orel

old timer 11:11 PM  

My dictionary says a single rapid is a rough stretch of water caused by an obstruction. The reason we usually say "rapids" is that, as anyone who has been on a river raft in the West knows, they usually come in groups.

The Latin name for the little toe or finger is "digitus minimus" so it is not a stretch to way that two of the are "minimi". Not maybe an elegant clue but I think better than any IU can come up with.

Joe Dipinto 12:33 AM  

@anonymous 4:34pm - Yes, the starting space indicator for the diagramless puzzle was clearly wrong. Since I inadvertently noticed it, I used it to begin and then thought there was some clever wraparound thing going on down below, but alas no. It was simply wrong. Anyone doing the puzzle without using the first-letter indicator would have gotten it right.

Hartley70 9:00 AM  

The SW corner was a bear, not a bar. I only knew one of the 3 proper names, ALDRIN, and MINIMI was a Grrrrr. It was too hot to do any thinking yesterday so I floated in a pool instead.

kitshef 3:46 PM  

Fairly easy up until the two sections on the W starting with 33 A/D and 65 A/D. That section took slow chiseling away, maybe one word per minute. Plus one grade for Futurama reference.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Can someone please explain why KNIVES are "cutting costs"? Aren't they "cutting tools"?

Z 9:03 PM  

@Anon8:25 - Yes, and if you need those tools it will cost you to buy some.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Agree with you, Rex, entirely. Bartlett's Per is not the same sound as Bartlett pear; Meryl is not the same sound as mare, etc. Annoying.

rain forest 6:40 PM  

This is one of the few times I felt like attacking the Sunday puzz on a Saturday and I won't have time tomorrow, so @Spacecraft - please forgive me for leading off the syndie comments

When I filled my last square to get WIDOW, I just knew it was wrong, but then it wasn't. Surprise! Actually, I produced a WIDOW on my first resume, and that was the reason I became a teacher instead of a research chemist, I think.

I kind of liked the puzzle, and I moved pretty quickly, for me, through most of it. Slowdowns occurred when I popped in DR Scholl and had to unscramble that, and in the AMYS and WIDOW sections. Otherwise, the adding-the-al sound worked for me.

Sometimes in a Sunday puzzle the sheer number of themers gets to me, and this came close, but ICYSTEROL won the day. Chemist, doncha know? I guess I subscribe to the @LMS school of being in awe of constructors and appreciating the opportunity to grapple with the results of their efforts.

So now, I'll have nothing to do tomorrow morning, other than helping my daughter move. Ouch.

spacecraft 11:26 AM  

You know, I think I have discovered a new-found appreciation for what OFL does here. No matter what, he has to finish, even a grid he knows he's going to pan viciously. Not that he did this one, but the point came home to me today. I don't HAVE to finish EVERY puzzle; with some--like this one--I simply have better things to do with my time.

So a DNF doesn't always mean I couldn't; sometimes I just...didn't. Case in point. There were a lot of problems with this grid starting out. After locking onto the theme in the NE and going back to fill in the NW, I thought OK, I have it; just add schwa-l. But then? KODIAK BARREL? Doesn't work. You're changing the vowel sound. Ditto for ICY STEROL--and BTW, isn't it STEAROL? Can't tell via spellcheck: it redlines both of them. So, at least half the themers so far don't work. Further, we know there's no grand epiphany waiting for us at the end. It's just...more (l) themers.

Then there are some clue issues, starting with 1-down. Yeah, I get it; you might as well say "They follow Omaha" if you're a Manning fan. But to go from "Preceder of snaps" to HUTS is a journey of WAY more than ten yards. Here's more-l:

--> 17-down. 100% does in fact mean SOLELY, as in, if I'm SOLELY responsible for something, that means I have 100% of the responsibility. But ask 100 experts "Hey, what's a six-letter word for 100%?" and I guarantee that 100% of them will NOT come up with SOLELY. Another trek from clue to answer. Pack several meals.

37-across: "Smart" does NOT mean HIP. Maybe if you said "Street-smart," okay. I have known many people who were HIP but not smart--and even more vice-versa. Terrible clue.

45-across: "Not wandering, say" = RAPT. If something isn't done to connect "wandering" with one's mind rather than physical movement, this clue becomes a stretch.

And at this point I wOndered, why am I still here? This is a waste of time. Poor Rex has to slug it out anyway; I don't envy the guy his job. I can just go fix breakfast. Double-bogey, no matter HOW well it finishes in the south.

Burma Shave 12:22 PM  


WELL, there’s a RANGE of things to HANDLEWITHCAROL,


BS2 1:49 PM  

The THEME really stuck in my CRAW. What in HADES did I do that first time? I must have hit AWOL.


WELL, there’s ALIST of things to HANDLEWITHCAROL,
if they’re not TIRED, on EDGE or out of SORTS and ICYSTEROL.


rondo 2:02 PM  

WELL, I got that first one, groaned and JEERED, and finished SOLELY because I didn’t want to watch the Olympic 5 person rhythmic stuff. If it needs judges, it doesn’t belong, IMHO. So I slogged all the way through this.

PRIGS and PRUDES may not approve, but LATOYA was in Playboy about 25 years ago, and Ms. HEIGL is right smart, leaving rhymesters MERYL and yeah baby SHERYL. She RANKS right up there.

I use KODIAK every day, not the kind that comes in a BARREL.

This THEME did a lot to DARKEN the morning. Turns out that rhythmic stuff was better.

AnonymousPVX 3:55 PM  

Hip / smart may refer to a good dresser. "That's a smart (hip) outfit".

I was surprised I finished this successfully. I thought this one a bit tougher than medium. And that's it.

leftcoastTAM 5:27 PM  

Sunday puzzles, to me, are inherently slogs because of their size. So why do I do them? An addiction, I guess. May need some rehab.

So, slogged through it all, ending with ICeSTEnOL, not ICYSTEROL. Didn't know the crossing AMY'S kitchen (should have guessed right though) and MERINO (also guessable, I suppose).

The title, "Moral Thinking," seemed a bit off, with all of the themers ending in a "ral" sound. That's okay if not nit-picked too much. What if anything to make of the "mo" in moral is unclear.

May need to limit Sundays to tried and trues like Berry, Silk, and Steinberg, if I can.

leftcoastTAM 5:53 PM  

Actually, again if you're not too nit-picky, they all end with and "aral" sound.

kitshef 6:55 PM  

Agree completely that many, if not most Sundays are more irritating than entertaining, but a few times per year we get a gem - most recently that one with the traffic lights.

Phillip Blackerby 3:24 AM  

Actually completed the SW corner, except for MINIMI. Had MaNIMI And then BaLLOFFERRELL. NNW was my real downfall. I've lived in several parts of the country, and I do the grocery shopping, but I've never heard of AMY'S frozen foods. Shouldn't a good puz reflect only nationally-, or globally-known things, rather than strictly regional features? DNF.

Phillip Blackerby 3:25 AM  

Actually completed the SW corner, except for MINIMI. Had MaNIMI And then BaLLOFFERRELL. NNW was my real downfall. I've lived in several parts of the country, and I do the grocery shopping, but I've never heard of AMY'S frozen foods. Shouldn't a good puz reflect only nationally-, or globally-known things, rather than strictly regional features? DNF.

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