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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Constructor: Michael Ashley

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Movie Doubles" — movie titles where one letter is doubled creating wacky titles and oh my god I'm getting bored just typing this...

Theme answers:
  • "AMERICAN SNIPPER" (23A: One working for Supercuts?)
  • "THE LATTE SHOW" (35A: Barista's big reveal?)
  • "HOOT PURSUIT" (64A: Search for a really funny person?)
  • "A STARR IS BORN" (96A: Declaration at Ringo's birth?)
  • "A SHOOT IN THE DARK" (114A: Photographer's impossible task?)
  • "SALEM'S LOOT" (38D: Money in Oregon state coffers?)
  • "HOMME ALONE" (43D: French bachelor?)
Word of the Day: JESSI Colter (80D: Country music's Colter) —
Miriam Johnson, known professionally as Jessi Colter (born May 25, 1943), is an American country music artist who is best known for her collaboration with her husband, country singer and songwriter Waylon Jennings, and for her 1975 country-pop crossover hit "I'm Not Lisa". (wikipedia)
• • •

In times like these (i.e. where entire political parties implode over a weekend), one looks to the NYT crossword to provide some measure of distraction and, yes, solace. But DUDE, I was not ensolaced by this simplistic cutesy nothing of a theme. The movies aren't uniformly famous, the doubling of letters are diverse enough (repeating the "OO" sound, blargh), and generally the clues / wacky answers just weren't funny enough. Weirdly, the only theme answer I really liked was the most insane, most outlyingest of them all—the French one ("HOMME ALONE"). I cannot picture the movies "Hot Pursuit" or "The Late Show" or "A Shot in the Dark" (unless that's the Alan Arkin / Audrey Hepburn movie ... nope, that was "Wait Until Dark"). I know "Salem's Lot" primarily as a book (no memory of movie). Random movie titles, random letter doublings, corny clues ... and then ABHORRENT fill. I stopped solving after filling in only the tiny NW corner, just so I could tweet the following:

LALA LAMAR ALERO PARAS ... If I extrapolate that much mid-to-low-range stuff over the rest of the puzzle, ouch. And the rest of the puzzle didn't improve much. You get nice answers here and there, but mostly you get mash-ups like SSGTS SSR SETI ITSSO INITS. You also get EMALL, which pretty much kills any hopes this puzzle had of success—kinda like bragging on tape about being a serial sex offender pretty much kills any hopes you might have of being president. That analogy was forced, but not as forced as EMALL, I SAY. Oh, and PHAT!? You had several options there (40D) that did not involve "old slang," but ... you go with PHAT, the option that is not only dated but has the narrowest cluing range possible. This "P" choice made me so mad I ran a Twitter poll to see what, objectively, the right choice would be in a _HAT scenario, and I'm happy to say that, thanks to a strong 3rd-party showing by "W," my choice of "C" defeated the loathsome but somehow oddly popular choice of "P." Loathsome but oddly popular ... that sounds ... familiar. Some figure in the news, maybe? Not sure. Anyway, suck it, "P."

Hey, you need to know about *good* puzzles so I'm going to tell you about some. They are by veteran constructor and all-around good guy Patrick Blindauer. Here's the official ink:
"Patrick Blindauer recently launched a Kickstarter campaign called Piece of Cake Crosswords. If successfully funded, it will be a yearlong series of easy-but-fun crossword puzzles, one puzzle per week. These will be daily-sized crosswords that have original themes with no sneaky tricks. The grids will be filled with familiar words, phrases, and names--no ULEEs or ERNEs allowed--and they'll be delivered directly to your inbox every Monday morning. The goal with these is to create a series of puzzles with no obscurities so the focus is on fun and not frustration. Please check out the video and rewards here, pledge if you can, and help spread the word far and wide."
I often hear complaints (mostly from me, true, but I do hear them) that there aren't enough *good* Easy puzzles out there. Liz Gorski's Puzzle Nation puzzles are the main exception. Until now. I am excited to see Patrick's take on well-crafted easy puzzles, so much so that I am getting a subscription for my crossword neophyte daughter (16yo). She can do NYT Mondays much of the time, and Newsday early-weeks as well, but it'll be nice to give her something that isn't characteristically corny, dopey, or (especially) musty. Of course I will also do them myself, both because I know they'll be good, and for speed-training purposes. So support this project. For yourself. For your children. For America. Thank you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Seth 12:15 AM  

Raise your hand if you wanted 54D to be Morning POO.

ZenMonkey 12:16 AM  

I'd like to point out that "S" was a popular write-in candidate in that poll.

Trombone Tom 12:43 AM  

What @Rex said. I, too, got little joy from the theme answers in this puzzle, except for the "French one."

I'm not much into country music and had no clue about JESSI Coller, but I do remember the cross-over hit "I'm not Lisa." I knew JESSe wasn't right because of RAVIOLI.

Had a problem coming up with SMASH because I don't identify PHAT as "old slang." I guess everything is relative. Now, if the answer had been neato . . .

Gerry Kahle 12:46 AM  

Hard not to love a puzzle with JOLTINJOE. This is a NY puzzle after all!

Davis 12:49 AM  

I've been working with paralegals for years, and yet this PARAS thing is news to me.

George Barany 1:07 AM  

Finally back in my hotel room in Bloomington, and portions of this message will overlap with one I posted to yesterday's puzzle.

@Leapfinger, thanks for the heads-up/reminder re @Tango Ted Widlansky ... we had communicated previously about chemistry and crosswords, but this was the first time we ever met in person.

For fans of a certain team from the Windy City, enjoy Now Playing ....

As for today's puzzle by @Michael Ashley, I'll agree with the kudos already expressed for JOLTIN'_JOE, and it was great fun to see GIANT_SQUID emerge. Politico @Paul RYAN making a cameo at 15-Down, following up on his newsworthy pronouncements elsewhere in the New York Times.

jae 1:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 1:55 AM  

Easy for me. Mildly amusing with a smattering of interesting fill...JOLTIN JOE, SOPHISM, ADELPHI, SARACEN, TRITONS...liked it more than @Rex did.

A Shot in the Dark is IMHO the funniest of the Pink Panther films. There is a scene where Peter Sellers goes out a window that is slapstick at its best.

JOSIE and JESSI should have a conversation with their respective parents about names that should end in Y.

I can never remember whether it's gIBE or JIBE. I looked it up and I am not alone.

anokha 1:59 AM  

Seriously. PHAT is not old slang. I've practiced for ten years and I've never heard of PARAS. I shop online regularly and EMALLS made no sense. What is morning ZOO? (@Seth My husband also filled in POO.)

However, apropos of nothing, I take consolation in the fact that in less than a month, we never need to think about Trump again.

Peter 3:17 AM  

I hereby nominate "Declaration at Ringo's birth" (A STARR IS BORN) as the worst theme entry of all time. When you are swapping STAR for STARR -- like rhyming a word with itself -- and then cluing it with a phrase as mechanical as that, you've reached the apotheosis of not-trying.

'mericans in Paris 4:32 AM  

ALOHAS, Chef Wen!

I SAY, what a snorer. We're in AGREEMENT with @Rex. A one-handed CLAP for this puz.

Hands also up, or rather backwrds, for pOO. (And for wanting JIvE instead of JIBE.) We did finally enter the Z in ZEDS, but had no idea what a Morning ZOO was. Not the way I would have clued it.

Had "endurED", and then "piercED" before "IMPALED".

Another clue for AMERICAN SNIPPER could have been "Manhattan mohel?"

Nice to see ZORRO, though, which brought back fond memories. The Mask of Zorro (1998), staring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins, was the first film I saw in a theater with our then four-year old son, and neither he nor I were disappointed. Highly recommended for sheer fun.

The answer to 106D also made me nostalgic. It reminded me of better days, when Ruebin ASKEW (1928-2014) was in politics. As his Wikipedia entry says "He led on tax reform, civil rights, and financial transparency for public officials, maintaining an outstanding reputation for personal integrity." He was also the first U.S. Trade Representative (under "Jimmi" Carter), and was an unapologetic advocate of freer international trade. Thank you, Ruebin; you are sorely missed.


Loren Muse Smith 4:39 AM  

Dnf for me. The SARACEN/ECCE/GRANDEE crosses got me, and I just didn't guess.

I agree that HOMME ALONE is great.

I loved the clue for AS IN. I bet lots of us saw that "A" in the clue as an indefinite article. My first thought was "bad."

NIOBE crosses SOB SISTER. Brilliant.

Gotto post this before my &^%$ internet goes down again.

The thought of the GIANT SQUID in CRISIS MODE pleases me. ABHORRENT, DUDE. YER DONE.

George Barany 5:57 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith -- love your avatar today! Nice catch re NIOBE crossing SOB_SISTER, too.

@'Mericans in Paris ... see the constructor comments elsewhere. It was @Michael Ashley's original intent to use a mohel joke to clue AMERICAN_SNIPPER. Clearly, that joke was left on the cutting room floor.

Google is really amazing. I typed in "Rex Parker Barany mohel joke" and this link came up. See paragraph 3 of my comment at 5:15 p.m. on a Sunday all the way back in November 2014.

Autocorrect is more (supply your own word) ... It tried to change @'Mericans to @'Mexicans ...

Anonymous 6:43 AM  

@LMS - puzzle practically redeemed by your finding the "NIOBE, all tears" allusion. That spake, of course, by OPHELIA's DUDE.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

Two thoughts. One, regarding the clue for AAMCO ("Company near the start of the telephone book listings") -- What's a telephone book? And two, a possible theme answer popped into my head, and while it makes no sense, it left me with a lovely image: CROUCHING_TIGGER_HIDDEN_DRAGON.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

Either these Sunday puzzles are getting easier, or I am getting
smarter; since I know it's not the latter, then it must be the former.

Hungry Mother 7:55 AM  

Except for a couple of names I didn't know (so a DNF), not bad. I'd like to think that a crossword puzzle is different from a trivia quiz.

chefbea 7:59 AM  

Was difficult to solve last night what with all the torrential rain and wind beating down on the house. Thank heavens Mathew has left but not the wind. They are telling us that there is debris all over the roads so stay in again today...We'll see
Oh the puzzle..Was fun though I DNF...too many things I did not know
Now to check out the piece of cake puzzles

Jon88 8:01 AM  

Surprised you didn't go off on the STARR themer, since when he was born, he was Starkey.

jberg 9:11 AM  

@Lewis, with an answer that long you can do it twice:

CROUCHING TIGGER HIDDEN DRAGOON. I can just barely see a story there.

Almost DNF, it took me a really long time to see RSVPS. I wanted REuPS, messed up everything else -- and had no idea about JOSIE.

I did consider morning pOO, but rejected it as too improbable. Of course I wanted jOe; is m ZOO some kind of radio or TV program?

You need a RACK to play pool, but could get along without one for billiards.

Aside from that, what everyone else said.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

As I slogged my way through this -- completely uncharmed and thoroughly undelighted -- I remembered that someone told me recently that I was allowed to come here even when I didn't bother to finish the puzzle. (Thank you, whoever you were). So I dropped this halfway through. It made a loud clunk as it hit the floor. Which surprised me, because I have very thick carpet.

AliasZ 10:04 AM  

@Rex, A SHOOT IN THE DARK refers to the hilarious Blake Edwards movie of 1964, the second of the Pink Panther franchise in which PEETA Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau appears and takes center stage (instead of David Niven's Phantom character in the original "The Pink Panther"), and the first appearance of Herbert Lom's Commissioner Dreyfus. It is still the funniest of the bunch in my view. Also starring Elke Sommer and George Sanders.

I agree, a rather easy and somewhat boring affair, this. SOBSISTER and GRANDEE unknown, but JOLTIN' JOE was worth it. It also brought to mind his bride Marilyn Monroe, and JFK's indiscretions that stayed under wraps for a long time -- no Wikileaks back then, or people selling private dirt to the highest bidder.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" -- Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890).


Charles Flaster 10:10 AM  

Easy schmeezy! Loved HOMME ALONE and unlike Rex I think all the movies were notable.
On the Greyhound road to NYC as I type, but JOLTIN JOE will not show up . Almost met him on my NYC honeymoon in 1969 but my wife never heard of him and put the kibosh on the whole shebang. BTW we are staying at the same hotel tonight.
@ Loren--SARACEN is a good piece of CROSSWORDEASE due to the alternating
consonants and vowels.
Thanks MA

QuasiMojo 10:22 AM  

Again when I typed in "saddled" I realized that is exactly how I felt as I continued on with this dull affair. At the risk of repeating myself, why must we have these god-awful themes? There is nothing remotely funny about doubling movie titles to come up with punishing puns. Not even the suits in Hollywood (or are they all in NY now?) could dream up such tripe. And on top of that, having thought I finished the "darn" thing, I ended up putting in "EMART" instead of "EMALL" (which I've never heard of and hope never to visit.) I didn't bother to check if the resulting "erse" and "stew" were wrong. My bad. As was my decision to do this puzzle at all. The only happy take-away was remembering the "giant squid" that attacks John Wayne in "Reap the Wild Wind."

Rocco 10:35 AM  

Rex, I'm amazed that you are not familiar with Peter Seller's most popular Inspector Clouseau movie, A Shot in the Dark, with Elke Sommers.

Teedmn 10:38 AM  

Movie titles with an added letter to create a pun - fun to suss out. HOMME ALONE was my favorite but they were all good.

I solved online using a randomizing function so I rarely stayed in one section long enough to get bored, as Sunday puzzles tend to do for me. It takes longer to solve but I never care about my Sunday time. And reading the comments here, I think everyone should try it!

"Touch" for ARENA, "fix" for SEW (darn, e.g.), "uno" for GIN, making Baudelaire morbid by substituting "death" for PROSE, and "Suit" for a spade holder before SHED. A lion was wandering the Serengeti in search of an ORYX. See what one is saying? was "caption" before I LIPREAD the correct answer.

Nice Sunday, thanks Michael Ashley.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Can we not comment on the timeliness of Josie and the Pussycats?

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Strangely enough, I just last night did the exact same puzzle in a Cox and Rathvon Sunday puzzle book complication. I wasn't too impressed with that one, either.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Compilation. (Stupid autocorrect)

Mohair Sam 11:21 AM  

TCM must not show "A Shot in the Dark" - I mean how can Rex not know it? Sellers at his absolute best. Wonderful suffering by Herbert Lom, btw.

@Lewis & jberg - love the Crouching Tigger thought, and why not a Dragoon?

JESSI Coulter - Knew a switchboard receptionist at a bank in Albuquerque named Julie who replace a Lisa about the time "I'm not Lisa" was a big hit. For those who don't know the song, the hook was "I'm not Lisa, My name is Julie." Julie hated the song, trust me.

The puzzle? Found it less ABHORRENT than most of you guys. Very easy Sunday - not an awful lot of fun, but nothing to get angry about either. Hand up with preferring "pOO" to ZOO at 54D. And loved the options Rex offered at 40D. Didn't know "The Late Show" was a movie, but liked the clue. Same with "Hot Pursuit", but didn't care for that clue.

Hartley70 11:26 AM  

Ho-de-Ho-Hum, sadly. I took one look at the grid and knew I was in for a slog. It was too choppy for my taste. The theme amused me a bit, but was altogether too easy and zoom, the puzzle was a memory in my rear view mirror. HOMMEALONE was the best of the lot. I'm sure this was a terrific Sunday for some solvers, but not moi.

NCA President 11:27 AM  

DNF and didn't care. The whole NW and Upper Midwest region were soul crushers. SARACEN. EGGO (v. Edys which kinda worked at a glance). CLASP...you clasp hands and they don't "hug." When I go to hug someone, I don't "clasp" them. Not. Ever. ECCE. LAMAR. GRANDEE. All just soul suckingly awful.

Parts of the puzzle were crazy easy, other parts just so obscure I couldn't clasp my head around it.

So I quit. Not worth the effort. I think, though I might be wrong, I would rather watch tonight's "debate" than have to do this puzzle again. At least tonight's "debate" offers the possibility of a trainwreck so epic we will all be able to tell our grandchildren exactly where we were and what kind of cocktails we were drinking at the time. This puzzle was utterly forgettable.

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

Tough crowd today. I though the puns were smileable - especially A SHOOT IN THE DARK. @Rex - really...go out and get it and watch it with your daughter. It's really funny. I saw the movie in Spain - Spanish subtitles. My mom and I were rolling in the aisles laughing out loud and the Spaniards looked like they were watching a GIANT SQUID devour Nemo.
I know PHAT was phased out but it was pretty ubiquitous in its heyday. I much prefer that to WORD! Did someone say SHAT?
@chefbea....I feel for you. My sister and step-mom live outside of Charleston. I saw some video footage and it was pretty awful. Stay safe.

QuasiMojo 11:36 AM  

@AliasZ -- People have been leaking and selling dirt on politicos for eons. Woodrow Wilson was the target of scandalous leaked billets-doux to his willing mistress. And Confidential Magazine certainly had Hollywood by the huevos back in the 50s. Nothing new here, except the long delay in some people's expressing their disgust.

Carola 11:37 AM  

Getting AMERICAN SNIPPER, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be cute.". But then...too many OOs, not enough inspired wackiness, save the wonderful HOMME ALONE. Compensating, though, were SARACEN, SOB SISTER, GIANT SQUID, SOPHISM, GRANDEE, GALAHAD.
Kind of a funny TOE-JOE-OJO mash-up.
@Loren, thanks for the NIOBE cross.
@Lewis, I love the Crouching Tigger, and @jberg, the added Dragoon.

Alysia 11:57 AM  

I really liked IMPALED.

That's about all the good I can say.

Z 11:57 AM  

My first thought was Morning JOE, but I already had JOLTIN' JOE so I went with ubiquitous FM radio format Morning ZOO.

As for Rex's poll, W and T are such weak candidates that it's no surprise to me that P rose to the top. Whatever your politics, you might find this book has some insight into the situation.

ECCE Homo - How can one not love a phrase that inspired Bosch and Nietzsche?*

And now, some Sam Cooke.

*Good thing I previewed. Auto correct "fixed" ECCE to eccentric. Eccentric homo is something altogether different.

Numinous 12:03 PM  

@Anonymous 10:49 and whoever else, I usually call that function "Auto Corrupt". And . . .
@Anonymous 10:39, I feel compelled to comment on JOSIE and the Pussicats. When I worked for Eric Porter's in Sydney they were animating JOSIE and I wound up as music editor on that show. Memory fades but it would have been in "71 or '72.

I'm more or less ont @Teedmn's side here. I didn't mind the miserable puns, in fact, I rather enjoyed finding the tortured double letters and the broad range of movie dates had me stretching my fading memory to find some of these titles. I'll "allow" that A STARR IS BORN was a little disappointing. A SHOOT IN THE DARK, I never particularly liked the Pink Panther movies. (As an aside: with a long enough exposure, one finds that there is always some light almost everywhere (deep caves excluded)). HOMME ALONE cracked me up when I finally saw it. I can't stand LATTES from Starbucks but at the Café Mediterranium, where I grew up, they used to put on a really good LATTE SHOW. Add a couple croissants from down the street and it was the perfect continental breakfast. I had SALEMSLOts for a bit thinking that they would be coffer fillers. At least that works in Atlantic City. Michael Ashley states in his comments on xwordinfo that this puzzle started out as a mohel joke. I liked that better than the clue as given for AMERICAN SNIPPER.

I'm not really fond of ZORRO. Outside of France, the best French food I ever had was in Ensanada, B. C.. I knew some Australians in Southern California who, whenever they wanted food with actual flavor would go down to Baja. When I was a pre-teen I didn't know enough Mexican history to actually understand what the TV show was about.

Ned Land was definitely in CRISIS MODE when the GIANT SQUID was finding Nemo.

There was some dreck but I'm too lazy to go back and look for it which speaks to how quickly my memory for it all fades. I rather enjoyed this pretty easy Sunday solve (2/3 my average).

dramawritcomp 12:21 PM  

Thought the theme was okay and especially liked HOMME ALONE and SALEM'S LOOT,
but "The Late Show" isn't a "movie" and the fill is pretty weak overall so the net effect was a passable ho hum.

Theme did spark some fun thinking about other "movie doubles," such as:

The Woolf of Wall Street
Mad Max: Furry Road
The Thin Reed Line

mathgent 12:22 PM  

The Closer and I had fun handing it back and forth. Besides HOMMEALONE, we liked HOOTPURSUIT. If there was some junk here, it didn't bother me. I'm giving it a B.

Andrew Heinegg 12:58 PM  

I finished it but took too much time with stuff I had to semi-guess about, e.g. zoo/zeds. I knew from about 2 minutes in that OFL was going to savage the puzzle in his review and justifiably so. This was one of those where I agreed wholeheartedly with Nancy's sentiment about not finishing the puzzle but, I forced myself to do it so I could procrastinate and avoid doing some things I need to do today.

The word play of the puns in this puzzle just fell flat with the exception of the Homme Alone reference. I do allow that all of the movies are well known enough that they could be sussed out. But, does that really matter when the puzzle has no snap and no zip exacerbated by the lack of a groaner quality to the themed pun answers? My answer is I don't think so.

Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Hey! More great moovie themer potential: YOUVEGOTEMALL? SSGTSYORK? Too desperate? Was hopin so.

I'm with @RP: One looks to the NYTPuz as an oasis from the arid, deathly, chokin sands of political politics. And moovies can sure be a great release. Like @RP, it mighta been better to go with really top-tier moovies, tho. Even if yer themer spellins & clues hafta get a smidger desperate. Examples:

* THEGOODFATHER - {Dad who teaches his kids how to work crosswords}. [M&A had one of those, btw.]

* MUTTINYONTHEBOUNTY - {Litter of hydrophobic runts chew up the Christmas dinner?}.

* GOONEWITHTHEWIND - {Eccentric with flatulence?}.

* ANIMALLCRACKERS - {DiFranco leads a singing gang of shopping center break-in artists?}.

* THESHINNING - {Major wear and tear on soccer players?}.

* etc.

Thanx, Mr. Ashley. I know SunPuzs ain't easy to build. So, do appreciate yer efforts.
Hope everybody in the SE is safe & can get their power and internet back, asap.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Alan_S. 1:03 PM  

"A Shot In The Dark" is one of the funniest movies of all time and is a certified classic. It, along with "Dr. Strangelove...", are the films that made Peter Sellers an international star!
I'm almost as disappointed in Rex for not knowing it as I was with this awful awful puzzle.

Leapfinger 1:04 PM  

@dramawritcomp, some possible clues 4 U

Virginia dabbles in stocks
Post-apocalyptic highway strewn with [road]kill
Frau's man
Discussion of bulrushes compares poorly with "What's your sign?"

Just a shot in the dark.

r.alphbunker 1:24 PM  

I started out with a ROAR for 1A. {Loud sound in a storm} which was soon downsized to a CLAP. Got the theme early on at THELATTESHOW. The details are here.

@Teedmn's random solve is here and it makes you tired just looking at her run around the grid like a spider on LSD.

Roo Monster 1:24 PM  

Hey All !
OK, my first two... that's right, two! comments were lost to the winds of cyberspace. Where they go, no one knows. I did let out an ARGH last time.

I was distracted by the SLEW of dreck in this SunPuz. I always say every puz has some dreck, but ITS SO noticeable in this puz, it COMES TO a head. Some tres bizarre words, and some off-y clues. SARACEN? WOE. SOB SISTER? Wha...? PARAS? EMALL? UTNE? GRANDEE? SUI? And the cross of RSVPS/VSIGN got the side eye from me.

The NW was a disaster. Big ole DNF there. Had ECht for ECCE, PAgeS for PARAS, ana a dyslexic secrets, SeReCts for SARACEN (not sure, guess the ole brain was getting burnt out), and so ended up with ArEgiHan SNIPPER for AMERICAN. You know, someone from the country of Aregiha.

A bunch of writeovers today, Rand-RiAN, as had AsiAN for ARYAN, EtAiL-EMALL, rounD-OVOID, uSa-SSR, geO-ISO, Edys-EGGO, Safer-STAHL, JIvE-JIBE. And veNuS for BYNES, cause who hasn't heard of Amanda Venus? :-)

Agree with @Peter 3:17, having STARR meaning STAR is pretty bogus. All the other ones are different words that end up meaning different things. And too many other double letters. Kind of off when you're theme is Doubling.

Did like the theme enough to satisfy at least solving to the end. But a wonky experience overall. But, it was good enough for Will to put it in, so bully for Michael Ashley. Hey, is he related to Rick Roller Rick Astley? (Yeah, I know they're spelled different.) :-)


Will F 1:27 PM  

Answer to theme clue 96A: Declaration at Ringo's birth? Should have been A STARKEY IS BORN. Richard Starkey didn't change adopt the stage name Ringo Starr until 1959-1960.

Alan_S. 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margaux O'Nolan 2:07 PM  

SSGT is NOT the proper abbreviation for Staff Sergeant; the Army uses 3-letter abbreviations for all ranks, thus Staff Sergeant is SSG. A Sergeant, or E-5, is SGT.

Bill L. 2:09 PM  

"The Late Show" is a movie and I'm amazed at how many people here don't know it.

Here's the beginning of Roger Ebert's review:

"It's hard enough for a movie to sustain one tone, let alone half a dozen, but that's just what Robert Benton's "The Late Show" does. It's the story of a strangely touching relationship between two people. It's a violent crime melodrama. It's a comedy. It's a commentary on the private-eye genre, especially its 1940s manifestations. It's a study of the way older people do a balancing act between weariness and experience. It's a celebration of that uncharted continent, Lily Tomlin. And most of all, it's a movie that dares a lot, pulls off most of it, and entertains us without insulting our intelligence."

I don't expect much from Sunday puzzles anymore and this one didn't disappoint.

puzzle hoarder 2:40 PM  

This was a very easy and often routine and predictable solve. The only truly new material was JESSI. I was surprised to find out that she's not one of these new country music people. BYNES
may be listed as a debut entry but as a clue for AMANDA it has already been used twice.
It's already been mentioned in the comments but I would like to add something about JIBE. It can mean JIBE of course but it can also mean GIBE. GIBE however only means GIBE. Irregardless of the meaning or spelling it's always pronounced the same. That's not too confusing is it?
GRANDEE is actually a Shortz era debut. I don't count the Vatiety appearances as I don't do them. As a debut it marks the return of what was a somewhat common pre-Shortz entry. Does anyone else think that the use of that word and other double letter non-theme entries like EGGO,ZORRO and ABHORRENT was a lite sloppy?
Regarding this odd ZOO/POO confusion a number of people had you might want to recall the ZOOCREW entry we just saw on last month's first Saturday puzzle. It was clued "Whacky morning radio team."

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Hey Alan_S

Really Dude? Ugh.

(From all the other women who read this blog.)

Alan_S. 3:17 PM  

Like I said, I really don't know what came over me. It's not like me to write something that is the equivalent of a construction worker's catcall, and I'm truly sorry if I've offended anyone. Please accept my apologies, especially Alysia. It won't happen again.

Larry Gilstrap 6:29 PM  

It's all been said, almost. As a student of Moby-Dick, I have learned more about the sperm whale and it's primary prey, the GIANT SQUID, Architeutis, than I had intended. The sperm whale is the largest carnivore to have ever lived on the planet and has to eat a lot of food. Most of the predation process has long been shrouded in mystery, because it usually occurs at great depths in a dark ocean. Jules Verne's narrative inaccurately describes the squid as a threat to men, but more accurately shows man, in this case Captain Nemo, as a deadly threat to the sperm whale. I'm proud of my AZTEC years spent on Montezuma Mesa.

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

What is an Adeer?

doorslam 6:47 PM  

EMALL is not a thing. Nor is PARAS. I do not and will not accept. And @rex, apologies for helping skew your poll to "P", but that's what you get for running the type of polls His Orangesness cites as showing him in the lead. I don't have a problem with PHAT, but it seems like recent, not old, slang.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Love what Seth said but what in the world is a "morning zoo"?

Andrew Heinegg 7:49 PM  

I finished it but took too much time with stuff I had to semi-guess about, e.g. zoo/zeds. I knew from about 2 minutes in that OFL was going to savage the puzzle in his review and justifiably so. This was one of those where I agreed wholeheartedly with Nancy's sentiment about not finishing the puzzle but, I forced myself to do it so I could procrastinate and avoid doing some things I need to do today.

The word play of the puns in this puzzle just fell flat with the exception of the Homme Alone reference. I do allow that all of the movies are well known enough that they could be sussed out. But, does that really matter when the puzzle has no snap and no zip exacerbated by the lack of a groaner quality to the themed pun answers? My answer is I don't think so.

Andrew Heinegg 7:49 PM  

I finished it but took too much time with stuff I had to semi-guess about, e.g. zoo/zeds. I knew from about 2 minutes in that OFL was going to savage the puzzle in his review and justifiably so. This was one of those where I agreed wholeheartedly with Nancy's sentiment about not finishing the puzzle but, I forced myself to do it so I could procrastinate and avoid doing some things I need to do today.

The word play of the puns in this puzzle just fell flat with the exception of the Homme Alone reference. I do allow that all of the movies are well known enough that they could be sussed out. But, does that really matter when the puzzle has no snap and no zip exacerbated by the lack of a groaner quality to the themed pun answers? My answer is I don't think so.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

I believe I have heard in Italy US Marines referred to as paras. Is this true in other languages in Europe? Never heard it in USA.

Margaux O'Nolan 9:30 PM  

The only legit usage of Paras I've ever encountered is in reference to the British Airborne division(s), i.e. the 1st Paras, etc. short for paratroopers.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:03 PM  

Has anybody explained MORNING ZOO yet? I don't see it. And who uses the phrase OH ME to mean Goodness? isn't it OH MY?

The evening zoo going on now on my TV did not prevent me from solving the puz.

Let me Google that for you 11:55 PM  

I know actually Googling something is work so I've done it for you

dramawritcomp 12:42 AM  

Aw, gee, I always thought the bullrushes line was a good one :-)

Ma Starkey 4:14 AM  

No regrets, guv. It works pretty well with marsh birds.

Wm. C. 8:01 AM  

@GFR etc. --

"Morning Zoo" is a category of morning radio talk shows with "boisterous" content.

And BTW, why is there no Rex (or Anabel) post this morning?

Madeleine Sann 10:57 AM  

Dear, dear Annabel

You are the best. You are also a MILLENNIAL not a millenial..... (sad face)


suebear37 1:43 PM  

I'm old school (newspaper and pencil) and when I sat down to tackle the puzzle this morning, nothing would fit. The clues didn't even line up. Way to go, Syracuse Post Standard. They published the correct clues with a grid from another week. Makes me want to take the paper back to the store and get my money back. ��

kitshef 8:39 PM  

As often as you have posted Peter Sellers clips on this very blog, HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW A SHOT IN THE DARK?

I will go against the grain. I found the themers funny and found the puzzle overall much better than a typical drab Sunday.

Hand up for ReuPS before RSVPS.

Roy & Rita 8:35 PM  

Amen, but as I get older, easier is ok.

Roy & Rita 8:36 PM  

Amen, but as I get older, easier is ok.

Meg Greer 11:26 PM  


Burma Shave 12:00 PM  


“I’ll put a JOLTINJOE, ISAY.”
With her THONG ASKEW she SADDLED that DUDE and rode –
“ITSSO nice if he COMESTO, IMAY.”


Slash 12:23 PM  

Why not a 5th option for the multiple choice? Shoot, I was looking . . .

spacecraft 12:39 PM  

I agree with @Alan_S: how could OFL not know the Clousseau pictures? For shame. But just what exactly is "Morning ZOO?" Does that mean we're all more animalistic before our first cuppa? Could be. One time I forgot to make coffee. I thought I'd married a grizzly.

But I digress. That square was correctly filled, as Z was the only choice. My lone blemish was the misspelled ending of Ms. Colter's first name.

What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? JOLTINJOE has left and gone away, hey hey hey.

Anything S&G related boosts my rating level. In fact, I shall appoint the too-soon-late Anne Bancroft, the unforgettable Mrs. R., as Damsel of the Day. Even with the boost, however, this one barely makes three yards. Theme faintly amusing; fill...well, you know how tough it is to fill a 21x21, but today: it was REALLY tough.

BS2 1:06 PM  


I’ll ADMIT I’ve been ABHORRENT, let’s dance or ELSE STOPSIN.


Anonymous 1:23 PM  

To anokha - But what if he wins ?
To hungry mother - BRAVA! I agree; too many crosswords have become pop culture quiz zes.
I liked this puzzle, but I'm old :(

leftcoastTAM 5:42 PM  

Was making a list of do's and don'ts when working on Sunday slogs (my bias is that all Sundays' puzzles inherently are slogs because of their size), but I lost it in cyberspace.

The gist it was: Don't expect a lot of fun, and don't sit too long without a break or two or three. Otherwise your sciatica may flare up.

This one to me was just okay but not much fun, and once again am thinking of skipping them. Would make an exception, however, for constructors like Patrick Berry or David Steinberg.

IMDONE, at least with this one.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Anybody notice this puzzle is a pangram?

Diana,LIW 5:54 PM  

Happy points - theme answers. Love puns. Love movies.

Frowny faces - trivia, trivia, trivia. One hundred times worse, IMHO, than "ese" fill. Too many shows, songs, singers - too little time.

OTOH - I still am distracted by trying to do too many things at once. Must copy kitties. Nap.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a Quiet Moment

rondo 6:58 PM  

ISAY I’m in AGREEMENT with the less than joyful factor in this puz. Or most any Sunday puz. @lefty summed it up pretty well.

My dad came home from WWII as one of those SSGTS. Still have the uniform jacket. As it worked out, I had eight uncles return as SGTS and another as the Navy equivalent (still have his peacoat).

A plethora of potential today with IRENE and PATTI and Ms.s BYNES and STAHL, but I gotta go with yeah baby JESSI Colter. Almost went with Leslie (I’d enjoy a SHOOTINTHEDARK with her), but JESSI put some heat into the 1970s country music scene along with hubby Waylon, and Willie and the boys, at a time when I was forced to listen.

FRAN Tarkenton a gimme for any Vikings fan. Got us to Super Bowls and still has a weekly radio spot and newspaper column here.

Frank ZAPPA, Joe’s Garage, IMDONE.

rain forest 7:27 PM  

As always, I'm bemused by those who seem to actually become riled at a puzzle, as though the constructor's obligation is to not only put together a 21x21 affair, but to also satisfy the various desires of solvers. If you don't like it, just don't bother finishing. Or, "if you can't say something nice...".

Anyway, I persevered on this one, liked the themers and many other entries, and wasn't distracted by so-called dreck. But, I dnf at OReX. When you say it, it sounds the same as ORYX, anyway.

Please, @Rex, don't tell me about other puzzles. I just do this one, and I enjoy it, especially if I omit reading your daily rant.

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

My paper published the wrong grid with these clues!

Don Hinshaw 9:02 PM  

And, Ringo was not born a Starr, rather a Starkey.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Peter Sellers and Elke Sommer in "A Shot in the Dark". Still funny and worth watching.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Zed is also used in Canada.

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