"Back to the Future" antagonist / Tahitian "good" / SUN 11-27-16 / "The Highwayman" poet / Poetic Muse / Lisa, to Bart / Radial alternative / Mrs. Gorbachev / F = ma / Actress Hatcher / Saharan / Cheri of "S.N.L." / Carter Brezhnev agreement / Radial alternative

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: A few clicks over average for an experienced but not professional solver.


THEME: "Mixology" — Words -- some in circles alternating with some not in circles -- are mixed together to form new words. A "mixologist" is a fancy word for "bartender"; I was hoping for a theme along the alcoholic line, but perhaps that's wishful thinking as we wind down the holiday weekend.

Word of the Day: SANTORINI (83D: Island whose volcanic eruption is rumored to have destroyed Atlantis) —
Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sandoˈrini]), classically Thera (English pronunciation /ˈθɪərə/), and officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]), is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri. The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Laura here, guest-posting as a birthday gift for Rex. You know what would be cool, faithful blog readers? How about donating to the blog as your birthday gift to Rex? (Either by PayPal via the link above or via SNAILED [64A: Moved at a crawl] mail.) He has written this thing every single day of every year for the past decade, save for a few days here and there from us guest-posters. That's maybe 340-ish days per year, brought to you ad-free (unlike puzzle host publication The New York Times), all out of the goodness of his heart (and he is a real person, with thoughts and feelings and a heart), and all because he's interested in and dedicated to solving puzzles. You know what I'm thankful for, this holiday season? This blog. Its MIXOLOGY has brought us together.  Maybe I'm not fully clear on why or how, but it has, after all (as with the theme answers [see what I did there]).

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Infant (BABY) + Straying (ERRANT) = Noted coach (BEAR BRYANT)
  • 25A: Less polite (RUDER) + Wildly unconventional (GONZO) = Epicenter (GROUND ZERO)
  • 34A: Urban woe (SMOG) + Squirms (WIGGLES) = Pool accessory (SWIM GOGGLES)
  • 43A: Delay (LAG) + Dodos (PEA BRAINS) = Some compromises (PLEA BARGAINS)
  • 60A: Remain (BIDE) + "Hmmm ..." (ODDLY) = R&B Great (BO DIDDLEY)
  • 70A: Bill producers (ATMS) + Western wear (STRING TIES) = Info for events (STARTING TIMES)
  • 80A: Show, informally (DEMO) + African capital (RABAT) = Adonis (DREAMBOAT)
  • 97A: Pasty (PALE) + Vacation expense, maybe (RENTAL CAR) = Hospital specialty (PRENATAL CARE)
  • 103A: See (DATE) + Umbrella alternative  (RAIN HAT) = Warming option (RADIANT HEAT)
  • 119A: Regarding (AS TO) + Undercoat (PRIMER) = Network with 303 stations (PARIS METRO)
  • 122A: Day of the month (IDES) + Succeed (PAN OUT) = Some recital pieces (PIANO DUETS)
"Hmmm ..." That's a lot of themers. I need the services of a mixologist after typing out all of those. Felt like a very classic theme; nothing too sparkly or hip, but very familiar and homey (kind of like my Thanksgiving dinner). I wanted 119A: Network with 303 stations to be PUBLIC RADIO but no fit. Fill came together smoothly, if not too excitingly, some fresh (48D: Chain that sells chains [ZALES]) and some stale (118D: Bygone boomers, for short [SSTS]). The WNW gave me some trouble; could not get the obvious 62A: ___ season (DEER) even thought that's what it is right now here in northern New England. Also, there was quite a spate of geography trivia in the southern hemisphere of the grid, including the aforementioned Word of the Day (SANTORINI): 81D: After Rainier, highest peak in the Pacific Northwest (MT ADAMS); 91D: Capital where Robert Louis Stevenson died (APIA) (capital of Samoa); 110A: Remote land in the Pacific (NAURU). Send a postcard via 99A: Correo ____ (foreign mail stamp) (AEREO).

Bullets:
  • 32A: In Tahitian it means "good" (MAITAI) — Here's our mixology! Usually we see this clued as "Mai ___" or "___ Tai" so it was refreshing (much like a MAITAI) to guess at the whole word. For the last word on MAITAIs in crosswords, listen to this refreshing new podcast.  
  • 14A: "Back to the Future" antagonist (BIFF Tannen). I've had enough with bullies. Do we need to go back in time to fix things?


Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

92 comments:

Vincent Lima 8:27 AM  

I found the theme uninspired. I imagine you could come up with hundreds of such mixes. I wanted them to somehow cohere. (Randomly: Cher + OED = COHERED.)

chefbea 8:34 AM  

Pretty blah puzzle for me. Got the first themed but wasn't worth it to find out the others
Happy birthday Rex...didn't do yesterdays puzzle so didn't know...would have baked you a cake

NCA President 8:41 AM  

Sunday!

Had a near natick at EFREM/SCLERA crossing...thinking that EFRaM looked okay and of course SCLaRA has "clar" in there which, from an eye standpoint, makes clear sense. Otherwise...

Sunday!

I give this a C. Solidly average. Nothing wrong with average. It's the middle of the road and without the middle, we'd be off in a ditch much of the time. So, I'm thankful for average. And...

Thanks to Rex for the above-average blog.

msue 8:46 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle - the theme answers challenged my brain without overwhelming, and the fill was unobtrusive. No complaints from me on this post-holiday weekend.

Teedmn 8:47 AM  

Fun theme, well-titled, some clever clues (Halters? for SENTRIES, Results of icy breakups? for FLOES, October option for TREAT, Suck it up? for SIPHON), not too many three letter words, low dreck, seems like an IDEAL Sunday puzzle. Though I don't think I've ever seen SNAILED as a word before, especially as a verb. It shows up in Wiktionary but it's new to me.

I had fun with 130A. I assumed "The time of Nick" was referring to Santa Claus and put in "yulE" which worked with NEE but not very well with UP ON. Ah, Nick at NITE, old crosswordese refreshingly clued.

Lots of longer stuff popping up around the grid - I did not know MAI TAI meant "good" in Tahitian or that MT ADAMS was the next tallest mountain in the NW or who sang "My Cup Runneth Over" or wrote "The Highwayman". Whether I remember any of those past lunchtime is another story.

Matt Ginsberg should EMBLAZON his tee shirt with "great job" for this Sunday effort.

pmdm 8:48 AM  

There is a guest blogger every first Monday of the month (12 blogs there). A guest blogger covers several weeks of annual vacation to New Zealand. It's not uncommon for another guest blogger to cover another week while out of town for whatever reason. And then there's the odd day when illness or special occasions (like a birthday) demand a guest blogger. So it's a bit less that 340 times a year. But who's counting? It is a demanding and impressive achievement in any event, considering the blogs are normally not just a few paragraphs of trivial observations. And this blog has allowed readers to enter there entertaining comments for every single day for the past decade. For that reason alone we can shout a heartfelt thank you and happy birthday.

Is today a record for the number of themed entries in a puzzle? I don't keep track of those things, but it certainly must approach if not surpass the largest number of themed entries in a crossword. Impressive one way or the other. It's also impressive that, according to Mr. Ginsberg, he redid the puzzle AFTER it had already been accepted by the Editor. Nice work ethic.

As one who appreciates wordplay sui generis, I am not upset by the lack of humor in the themed entries. Given the restraint of requiring exactly two words in each entry, I am impressed with the number of entries. And I did have a bit of head scratching before I caught on to the trick, which is a good thing. Just enough to distract me from the lack of humor.. Nice job.

Z 8:56 AM  

Rabbit Season.

Smitty 9:04 AM  

Much easier to just read the last word in the theme clue as the clue. Why complicate it?

Lewis 9:06 AM  

As the classic ad goes: Three! Three! Three words in one! I loved figuring out the theme answers. First I'd try to answer it outright, from the third clue. If no success, I'd try to get the circled words or uncircled words from their clues. Last resort: crosses. Each theme answer was a little independent puzzle, and I just loved that.

At first I wondered how the heck Matt came up with these, then I figured (correctly) that it was through computer machinations. Still, it was a brilliant idea, worth a couple of iffy clues and a bit of junky fill. SNAILED feels like one of those words you make up when embellishing a story. Maybe it's not common, but I just may start using it. And I do like that DEER/RAT/SNAIL grouping in the middle.

Plenty of peaks in this Sunday to not make it feel like a slog. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is heartening to have a Satisfying Sunday.

TomAz 9:26 AM  

This theme was tedious maximus. Halfway through I wound up finding it easier just to solve based on the "=" part of the clue and totally ignore the mixing together of other words. After I made that choice it went very smoothly and I finished a couple minutes quicker than my Sunday average.

kitshef 9:38 AM  


@Z - Duck Season

TERI and OTERI in the same grid rankled. Curiously, I had TERe before TERI and OTERe before OTERI. But hey, at least I got TERA first try.

Bonus points for theme density, and for a theme that genuinely helped in the solve. Most of the bottom of the grid I got toeholds by getting either the circled or non-circled word when I could not see the longer one.

Overall, a pleasant solve, slightly on the easy side.

seanm 9:43 AM  

one of the few sunday puzzles where i was able to solve some of the themers with very few letters, helping me with the downs, where usually it's the opposite. this played much harder than an average sunday for me, due to several difficult mini sections. i made a lot of progress quickly, but couldn't close it out, taking me about 50% longer than usual (1:24)

woes: APIA, NAURU, EDAMES, AEREO, RATT, BIASTIRE, ELKO, MORRIS, RAISA, NOYES, SERE, SNAILED, AGAMA, EFREM, and none of these were "oh i should have remembered that," rather, "wow i've never heard of that before". surprising number of these for any puzzle.

i usually think countries and capitals should be fair game, but APIA and NAURU are both very tough. I had a DNF because of BIASTIRE crossing RATT and APIA, which i'm guessing was easy for everyone else because of the accross?

Johnny 9:50 AM  

Is there such a thing as a "professional" x-word solver?

I can understand levels such as "advanced," "expert," and "tournament," but "professional?"

This should be a thing. There can be pro-circuits and sponsorships and cool uniforms and cheerleaders and of course T-shirts and action figures and other merchandise. Just as miniature "lipstick" cameras revolutionized poker tournaments and cage-fighting into TV bonanzas, the same can be true with crossword puzzles, and there can be ESPN specials devoted to X-TREME CAGED X-WORD DEATH MATCHES where the loser gets electrocuted or has to go run a lap or something like that...

Don't steal my idea.

Passing Shot 10:10 AM  

DNF even though I got the theme fairly quickly. Misdirects and wrong guesses -- resort for SPRING, spoiled for ATEATON, Anita for MARIA, along with trivia I simply didn't know made this one just too tough for me. Disappointing after having successfully done Friday's and Saturday's...

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Yay! The two places I might have Naticked, I guessed right: 1) RUTH'S crossing NAURU and 2) APIA and RATT crossing BIAS TIRE. As I wrote in BIAS TIRE, I'm thinking: WTF is that?

I alternated between being bored in the top section and annoyed by the PPP in the bottom section. And, as always, I completely ignored the annoying little circles. (Except when they were badly needed, which wasn't that often. The places where I had the most difficulty didn't have annoying little circles.) This puzzle didn't do much for me. I'm sure the construction was a BEAR [BRYANT] to achieve, but it had no effect whatsoever on my solving enjoyment. This one's all about the constructor, and I'm glad he had fun.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

MTADAMS (Mt. Adams) vexed me because the clue (After Rainier, highest peak in the Pacific Northwest) did not follow the NYT crossword convention that answers containing an abbreviation will have an abbreviation in the clue as well. Moreover, if Mt. Rainier is referred to as only "Rainier", parallelism calls for the answer to be merely "Adams". Should at least have been written "highest pk."

GILL I. 10:15 AM  

First puzzle I've picked up in over a week. Boy, your brain has to be rewired, doesn't it? I downloaded yesterdays puzzle and had a major brain fail. Today, I sing as the neurons regenerate.
I really enjoyed this puzzle. Didn't have the zingy fun puns but it was clever. Then I thought "this had to have been a BEAR OSO to construct" and then I read @Lewis and see that with help from a friendly computer you can get your et voila!
I've been singing DING DONG THE TYRANTS DEAD since yesterday and I just can't get it out of my head. Maybe I'll switch to Happy Feet.....

Roo Monster 10:36 AM  

Hey All !
Happy Birthday Rex!!

There are 11 themers in this here puz. Too lazy to look up if it's a SunPuz record, but I don't think it is. I'm sure there are SunPuzs with 12 or more out there.

Liked this one. Sure, you could've solved using just the main word, but where's the fun in that? On some of them, I needed the (clue)+(clue) to help solve. Sometimes you have to add your own excitement!

Writeovers aplenty, utes-OTOE, RANat-RANTO, asiA-URSA, snowTIRE-BIASTIRE. Had a DNF with ONE cUt for ONE RUN, was thinking actual diamonds, not baseball! The crosses AEREO and NAURU were unfair, IMO. :-)

Overall, nice puz, good to stretch the ole brain without breaking it!

NO YES (cool name!)
RooMonster
DarrinV

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I'd donate except Rex is a bit of a dick.

Norm 10:58 AM  

Mildly amusing puzzle, but more of a chore to solve than a pleasure.

Mohair Sam 11:04 AM  

This one was different, had some nifty cluing, and challenged us a ton - what's not to love?

We enjoyed building the theme answers through the interior clues (without which we would never have gotten the nicely misdirected PARISMETRO). Thought there were lots of neat "trap" clues too (NITE instead of "tyde" and PRE instead of "neo" held us up forever). Thought the cluing was kinda current too (looking at you Cubbies), forgiving EDAMES that is. And, given the theme density, this was relatively -ese free - especially for a Sunday (SSTS be damned).

Wonder how many here knew tires come in radial and BIAS plies? I'm betting BIAS crossing APIA and RATT caused a natick or two. Learned NAURU and AGAMA today, learned that MTADAMS was second highest too. Old EFREM's son and granddaughter fared pretty well in the acting community, did they not? Lady Mohair was all over the MAITAI clue, hmmmm.

Yup, fun Sunday Matt Ginsberg - Thanks.

Carola 11:06 AM  

So Matt Ginsberg used a computer to come up with the theme answers, leaving us to use just our PEA BRAINS? Given what I've gleaned from @Rex about crossword compilers and "Dr. Fill," I suppose it's naive to think that I'm ever really matching wits with a constructor and not constructor+computer. Still, the glimpse behind the curtain that @Lewis provided took away the fun of admiring the wizardry in the word mixes. Other than that - I found this to be a challenging Sunday puzzle, and that's good. It took me a bit to understand how the mixology was working and I enjoyed trying to work out the equations with as few crosses as possible; favorite was the WIGGLE in SWIM GOGGLES. And I always appreciate the chance to write DREAMBOAT - such a great word.

madsymo 11:24 AM  

One might argue that there are 33 theme answers in this puzzle.

Dean 11:28 AM  

Had a Natick at BIAS TIRE / RATT. The pedantic in me would like to point out that Robert Louis Stevenson died at Vailima, not APIA, and PRENATAL CARE in this country is typically administered by Ob-Gyns in theirnoffices, not by hospitals,

Bookin' the Cooks 11:29 AM  

That's exactly what I did.

jae 11:30 AM  

Medium for me. Clever/nicely done, liked it.

And, Cheri OTERI is back on TV in the current season of "Those Who Can't" on TrueTV.

QuasiMojo 11:33 AM  

We have a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse here so no prob there. Although we all shake our head at that idiotic name. Good steak sandwiches though! This puzzle was work and since it's a Sunday, I resented it a bit. But felt slightly better when I typed in the "i" in Apia (have never heard of a Bias Tire) and got the Bingo sound. Peace and love to all.

Roo Monster 11:43 AM  

Hah! That's true...
Then it would be the record.

RooMonster

Teedmn 11:44 AM  
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Teedmn 11:46 AM  

@Gill I, your triumphant song brought this cartoon (which I just saw yesterday) to mind Ding Dong

old timer 11:49 AM  

I thought it was a terrible slog. Almost put it down incomplete. But I did persevere and finished with nary a Google. I was really hoping @Rex would bash it. Two delights: DEER season, an answer I wanted not so long ago in a different puzzle. And of course PARISMETRO. I am old enough to remember BIASTIRES. Also old enough to have once owned a Renault R-10 with Michelin radial tires. The R-10 was a flimsy little piece of tin, but since it weighed so little got great gas mileage and those Michelins lasted forever. Probably no one needed to change the tires more than twice in the entire life of the vehicle.

I think the phrase "green paint" describes most of the themers. Not much of a thrill when you found them -- except for that METRO and GROUNDZERO.

WS really should have edited that APIA clue. Easy to insert a "near" before "where" there.

Joseph Michael 11:58 AM  

Maybe I'm easy to please, but I thought this was a fantastic puzzle. Enjoyed every second of it.

Congrats to Matt and Happy Birthday to Rex.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@Quasi Someone named Ruth bought the popular Chris Steakhouse, and wanted to keep the cache but admit it wasn't Chris's anymore. So I think it made sense at the time.

mathgent 12:00 PM  

My wife and I tag-teamed it and found it enjoyable. Solving alone might have been tedious.

I liked the gimmick and found the cluing smart. I don't like Sundays to be too demanding so I found it sufficiently crunchy. PARISMETRO was nice.

Put us down for a B.

PS: I stiffed Rex last year but sent him a birthday check yesterday.i

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

A clever puzzle but some overly clever clues that don't actually square up with the answers detracted from the fun.Like 'Finally put an end to' for entombed, and 'Minimal diamond margin' for one run. That's just tortured.

Hartley70 12:19 PM  

@old timer, I learned to drive on a little red Renault Dauphin that was truly a bucket of tin with an amusing city/country horn combination. The unusual horn got things out of my way asap thankfully, because if I'd ever hit anything, I'm sure I wouldn't be here today. It must have had BIASTIRES because everything about it was unusual unless you were a regular on the PARISMETRO.

I finished this in my average time and enjoyed it. Matt seemed to hit the sweet spot between welcoming newer solvers while not losing the more experienced. I love theme density and this delivered. I too ignored the circles because they are next to invisible on my phone. That was a blessing because they were an unnecessary assist. Well done!

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

The Circles! No wonder @RP wanted the day off.

This looks like a kinda tough theme idea to come up with themers for. Is it? Ain't Ginsberg the dude that lives with Dr. Fill? Maybe he just asked the computer to think em up? Anyhoo, clever puz, well executed. Just a tasteful, civilized dash of desperation here and there…

* IDEAL IDEAS. 80% desperation. Dr. Fill is evidently full of IDEA.
* GETAB/ATEATON. From the boop-A-boop stables. Nice.
* SSTS/RUTHS. Can't blame Dr. Fill -- was probably plumb tuckered out, by the time it got to that final corner. Its USB ports were probably totally drained.

ATEATON = TAT + AEON. GETAB = ET + GAB. Ok. So … not too awful hard. Still, fun to think up new ones …

Thanx, Mr. GINSBERG = GINS + BERG. And DR. FILL = DRILL + F. [Sorry. Easier to do, with more vowels.]
Primo write-up, SORCERESS LAURA = [still workin on this one].

Masked & Anonymo9Us

AliasZ 12:45 PM  


Amusing theme, although not all that difficult to find examples of three words in one. Even a cursory scan of the words used in this puzzle yields a few examples:

A[G]N[A]TE[S]: Petrol + pot starter = Relatives on the father's side
S[N]AIL[E][D]: Flanders + Go by sea = Moved at a crawl
A[T]E[A][T]ON: Ink, for short + Long time = Overindulged
PLA[I]N[F][A]C[T]: ___ first you don't... + Scheme after first two ideas fail = Simple truth

There may be others, but who cares?

P, Q and R missed the landing, but S NAILED it. Is MAITAI on straight? I have to be AT EATON Center soon.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Larry Gilstrap 12:56 PM  

Tough crowd. Those themers were awesome. Who cares how he came up with all of them? I stared at that ETA/EDDAS crossing for a bit. In my day, fraternities seemed fraught with privileged white guys so I never learned the Greek alphabet or the secret handshake. I was concerned about you folks living hither and yon. Del TACO is common around my area, but how about in Peoria? The chain began in Yermo, expanded to Barstow, and now is headquartered in Lake Forest, all CA postal codes. Ever drive the 15 to Vegas?

Random stuff: TATS? I don't get it. Want to enhance your body? Go to the gym. That butterfly on your lower back, not so much. Speaking of natural beauty, check out those volcanoes in the Cascades, MT. ADAMS, etc.

The bravest thing I ever did in my life was to teach poetry to adolescents. The Highwayman by Alfred NOYES is a romantic narrative which was included in the Eighth Grade literature anthology. I decided to perform a dramatic reading of the poem and to go all in on the drama part. Our hero "rode with a jewelled twinkle, His pistol butts a-twinkle," our heroine Bess the landlord's daughter is "Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair," and that RAT FINK Tim the ostler "His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay," are, admittedly, stock characters. Well, Tim is jealous and decides to tip King George's evil Red Coats about the upcoming midnight assignation. Things don't end well for our lovers, but, spoiler alert!, they become specters and love on forever. If you have kids in your life who like and respect you and would tolerate a little Dad humor, channel your inner ham. Voice the Highwayman like Dudley Do-right, play up the double entendre and the latent sexual tension, use hushed, reverential tones for that eerie epilogue. It worked for me.

Strunk White 1:33 PM  

I stubbornly stuck with LOREN for 55A for about 45 minutes. Really slowed down my time. Oh, that other Poetic Muse.

r.alphbunker 1:42 PM  
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r.alphbunker 1:46 PM  

I saw the light early on at BEARBRYANT. If theme entries are lights then we have a veritable chandelier here. Note that chandelier = candle + heir which is a plausible description of a chandelier. The theme would have been much tighter if the long word was related somehow to the two short words in this manner but that would be too much to ask.

Details are here.

Adam Frank 1:47 PM  

I found this to be quite a slog. Not enjoyable at all. MORRIS hasn't been a finicky cat in God knows how long. USOFA? Really? I finished the puzzle out of a sense of duty, but it was not a fun time. C-.

Numinous 1:51 PM  

Sigh! NAURU is the site of the appalling detention center for refugees and asylum seekers attempting to enter Australia other than by air. This is an excellent example of what happens when detention is relegated to third parties without strict and close government scrutiny. I'm surprised that even though I pay nearly no attention to American gossip media, that I know about this (maybe because I mostly read foreign news media).

I had to pause entering AR_O until a cross decided on E over i for me. I don't know much Spanish beyond place names. Growing up in California one sees a lot of Spanish around in print. Even without studying it, one gets a feel for it, Ask any of the Left-Coasters from south of Sacramento.

Since it's not a case of push a button and voila, there's your puzzzle all filled, using a computer for crossword construction certainly makes life easier than having two or three dictionaries open in front of you. But that doesnt make it easy. The computer knows a lot of words, depending on the strength of the word list, but not all of those words are any good to use as fill. So there can be a lot of button pushing and decision making. And even word editing. My. IPad app enters one word at a time which makes much more button pushing and a lot of false starting since the app doesn't check for cross fill possibilities. I'm happy solving puzzles which are. Partly computer generated. The constructor has to put in the themers, decide their positions and find the black squares that will accomodate them and create a grid that works as a whole. It's not just a case of pushing a button and waiting for a check from Will Shortz, there is still a lot to it.

This wans't too difficult for me. I guess the themers were fairly easy. I mostly solved with clue 1 + clue 3. I never saw PEA BRAINS e.g.. I managed to do this in two thirds my Sunday average.

Numinous 1:57 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap, Naugles used to make one of the best fast food hamburgers I've ever had, I was devastated when they merged with del TACO. Then I found the newly merged Naugles on Santa Monica still made the same burger. Now I'm hoping In N Out makes it across the Mississippi.

Alan_S. 2:22 PM  

Enjoyed this a bit more than most. Admire the theme, not for originality or excitement, but for what seems like it would be a difficult construct. Hats off to Mr. Ginsberg for that.

Got completely confounded in the southeast. Took me forever to come up with "onerun", "siphon" (which were cleverly but fairly clued and should have fell much sooner), and "biastires", which I've never heard of. Turned an easy/medium into a head scratching near dnf.

And the only thing I'll ever remember about Ed Ames was his tomohaw throw on Johnny Carson!



Alan_S. 2:26 PM  

Make that *tomohawk.

Lewis 2:34 PM  

@aliasZ -- Bravo on those catches!

Leapfinger 3:27 PM  

Oh for goodness sakay! I was just thinking how hard it would be to come up with that kind of intercalating themerism, and the very first comment UDDERly undoes that ...

Even with triangulating clues for each themer, I found it a challenge to grok the answer in some cases, most notably for STRING TIES ATM --> STARTING TIMES. PARIS METRO my favourite for a subway launch.

One thing that HIT ME was the proximity of A TEATON to MT ADAMS. Another was how EAMES was no help atall in parsing EDAMES. Had the -DAMES in place, and was visualizing those flimsy blue-paper AER-Ograms of yesteryear, but my mind's-eyesight wasn't keen enough to read the tiny writing in the corner ofit.

@Teedmn, I think SNAILED harks back to a recent puzzle theme, like so:
"How is that dang contraption held together?"
"Oh, you know, (it')s nailed!"


Still in trypophan coma, but easing into recovery mode. Giving thanks for a Sunday TREAT.

SALTII M-ADAMS' ADULT SEXTANTS mieux A DEUX over the PARIS METRO. Bien sur.

Chronic dnfer 3:36 PM  

Not sure about some of the clueing. How is tarde siesta time? Tarde means late and siesta time is mid day. The eta thing is dubious as well.

David Plass 3:36 PM  

*Duck season

Alysia 3:56 PM  

Lots of people are dicks. Doesn't mean they shouldn't be shown some monetary appreciation for their hard work.

Alex 3:58 PM  

Enjoyable, but challenging for me. There were a couple of crosses that were truly impossible for me - EFREM/SCLERA, EDAMES/NAURU, for a couple of examples. I stalled and needed to call in reinforcements in the southwest. And I found the themers to be pretty impressive. Also, Chronic DNFer at 3:36, tarde is Spanish for afternoon. I love the Spanish clues, as they are pretty easy for me. Thank heavens!

Devoted Reader 4:05 PM  

Larry Gilstrap, I enjoyed your comments about The Highwayman by Alfred NOYES. I learned it in middle school, many years ago. Great poem. Great example of "metaphor"--the road was a ribbon of moonlight. The poem rhymes and has meter, so it's probably not taught any more.

kitshef 4:07 PM  

@Chronic dnfer - tarde also means 'afternoon'.

Leapfinger 4:19 PM  

TERI OTERI is chERI OTERI's sister. Mrs. OTERI would call them in to dinner: O TERI! O Cheri! Time the OTERIsup!

If I say I SNAILED somewhere, I mean I slid there on my stomach on a bed of viscous goo.

Doesn't BIAS TIRE all of us who don't approach Life radially fore-armed? I think the answer is (again) Bien sur.

We've just had one of those 'I've fallen and I can't get up' experiences, involving a 200# 84-year old in his bathroom. Thanks to two of NJ's finest, who came to the aid of two willing but too-small to be useful relatives, all's well in ending well.

Kudos to those as showed how more themers are done, when not hampered by foggy-brain syndrome. I'm awed.

Floey cOHEN 4:20 PM  

Hard

Z 4:26 PM  

@kitshef & @David Plass - Rabbit Season.

Elephant's Child 4:31 PM  

Anyone else here pronounce Renault 'wren-oh' instead of 'wren-alt'? Or am I the only one who clung too long to that bit of Francophiliac peed-antry?

r.alphbunker 4:53 PM  

@aliasz
Not bad. However, using Jeff Chen's database at xwordinfo and the criterion that at most 2 consecutive circles are allowed I found about 60 candidates in todays puzzle. Most of them require questionable fill because I set the acceptance bar at 0. The difference between my approach and yours is that it was interesting to write the program to do it whereas you apparently tired of the task quickly.

Here they are. I have marked yours with an *
saltii = sat + lii, mtadams = mta + adms & mtm + adas & mts + adam & mad + tams & mam + tads & mms + tada, noname = nom + nae & nam + one, ratout = rao + tut & rau + tot, doneitall = dit + oneall, bearer = bee + arr & bar + eer & bar + ere, agnates = agts + nae & agt + naes & ages + nat, agnates = age + nats & ags + nate & anas + gte & *agnates = ante + gas & ants + gae & gats + ane, morris = moi + rrs & mri + ors & mrs + ori & mis + orr, santorini = satin + nori & nin + satori, *plainfact = ifat + planc, modems = mom + des & mos + dem & mem + ods & mms + ode, sclera = sra + cle & lea + scr, sentries = sis + entre & nts + serie, snailed = sad + nile, *snailed = ned + sail, ateaton = atat + eon & atan + eto & aeon + tat & aton + tea & *tat + aeon, siphon = sin + pho & sph + ion, sextants = exts + stan, biastire = bite + asir, onerun = oer + nun, edames = eds + ame, bodiddley = dde + bodily, dreamboat = dram + eboat, parismetro = primer + asto & prime + astro & ast + primero, pianoduets = pinots + adue

Roo Monster 5:00 PM  

Dang, @Alysia, you have such a great outlook about things!
Compared to some. (Remember that line?)

RooMonster

Elephant's Grandchild 5:01 PM  

@Larry G, sounds like fun! I knew a fellow who could rattle off Noyes' Highwayman in its entirety. I don't recall how many verses, but it's a plethora, right? So was this friend of mine anal, or what? You're right, not what.

Is anyone up for splaining the string of Rabbit/Duck/Deer Season exchanges?

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

Loved the R-10, but the Michelins would rot if left standing in damp.

Z 6:06 PM  

@Elephant'a Grandchild - Sure.

Chicago Elle54 6:48 PM  

Ahem. The Cubs were not "jinxed." They were under a "curse". The famous Billy Goat Curse. But thanks to Tom, Theo, Joe and the wonderful 2016 Cubbies, we all learned there is no such thing.

Mohair Sam 7:42 PM  

@old timer - If you had a Renault that outlived its Michelin radials your were fortunate.

@Chicago Elle54 - Point well taken on the Curse/jinx subtlety - there is a huge difference. The Cubbies were indeed cursed.

Lauren 8:09 PM  

Can anyone explain the ETA answer? Is it just that as the 7th letter in the Greek alphabet it does in fact follow three letters (and four, and five, and six)? For some reason this clue is really irking me.

Elle54 8:34 PM  

Maybe the ends of theta Beta Zeta?

Wm. C. 10:33 PM  


Elephant's Child --

Renault is pronounced RAY-no. I know, because I owned Renault 18 Break when I lived in France some 35 (yikes!) years ago. BTW a "break" is a British-ism for station wagon. My vehicle was a RAY-no DEEZ-weet over there.

Janet 10:34 PM  

This was a slog. DNF, so I checked the blog to see I had some errors, not to mention I did not know Omar Epps and the Old World lizard, Agama. Now I do.

Wm. C. 10:40 PM  


Hm-m-mmm ...

Make that Ray-NO Deez-WEET. My bad.

Elephant's Child 10:57 PM  

Hi, Wm. C., Wm-sickle of you to chime in: Americans in France may say RAY-no, but I grew up in those general environs and heard/said it as Ruh(as in 'peu')-NOH. I think the 17-19s also stressed the other sylLABle: with the dix- being the 'given' part, it would be dees-SETT, dees-HWHEAT, dees-NEUF.

Glad I could count on you!
;)

EP's C 11:00 PM  

Oops. Now you know how often I don't refresh...

kitshef 11:17 PM  


@Z - RABBIT SEASON

Peter Puzzler 2:29 AM  

Finally got the clue - letter at the end of three other letters - ETA:
BETA, ZETA, THETA.
Whew!
If I wasn't also a Greek-speaker, and thus very conversant with the Greek alphabet, I'd still be pondering that one.
G'nite, all.

Mary Wilkie 11:54 AM  

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Anonymous 11:57 AM  

I enjoyed this theme, not because it was clever - although I thought it was cleverly constructed - but because it made the fill so much easier since there were 3 clues for each word. You could do one piece of the word ( circled or non- circled) without having to get the rest of the word at the same time. Although I could usually get the whole word once I got a part of it given the other 2 clues. And because there were so many theme answers, it made completing the crossword very relaxing. Diana.

rondo 12:27 PM  

Not the worst Sun-puz ever, but it HITME that Mr. Ginsberg seemed to kinda give up in the SE with the ETRE AEREO NAURU conglom combined with the always crutchy SSTS which seems to find its way into the S and E so often.

Same Nick thing as @teedmn with yulE before NITE as the only w/o. Not on my wavelength as I gave up cable in 1991. Though I had a partner for ten years there in the middle who had cable, so +/- 50% of the time during those years.

SNAILED huh? Feared that that was the answer, but couldn't stand to fill in the middle for a while. GETAB is really weak.

Try to find a BIASTIRE these days. I dare you.

@Leapy sole my thunder ABIT with TERI OTERI covering a swath of yeah babiness so frequently, What did constructors ever do before TERI Garr and Hatcher?

In these parts MORRIS is pitcher Jack who pitched a complete ten inning ONERUN game (1-0) to win the World Series for the Twins.

Hulk Hogan and his DORAG got his start right here in the Twin Cities on Vern Gagne's All-Star Wrestling. Before his mania ran wild.

Was this a good puz? That's a NO/YES q and a.

Dale Wyttenbach 12:53 PM  

The mixology was okay, but otherwise that was not enjoyable at all. What would you say you do here Mr Shortz?

Burma Shave 1:04 PM  

UDDER ADEUX, IDO

Her "IDEAL" NONAME DREAMBOAT didn't PANOUT,
the PLAINFACT of the TALE - he had no ADULT SKILLs.
For her EGO's SAKE, she'll NEED to move ONNOW
having DONEITALL LED to get STUNG with such ILLS.

--- OMAR SANTORINI

spacecraft 1:47 PM  

Late in--and early out. scattered words within words: meh. In PLAINFACT, anything other that celebrating Penn State's HUGE win of the Big Ten championship: meh. WE ARE!

AnonymousPVX 3:08 PM  

I hate / abhor / despise the "gimmick" puzzle. This puzzle gives the constructor all kinds of leeway in creating sloppy nonsense clues and answers. I spent about 5 minutes on this, realized what it was and recycled the paper.

rain forest 3:39 PM  

Mucho lato. I finished this earlier, and just went over it. I have to say I liked it, and the themers were plentiful without being sloggy, and there were many nice clues.

Speaking of Renaults, pronounced Ruh-No', not long after I got my license, I drove a Dauphin on a winding highway and two things became immediately apparent: any relationship between steering wheel movement and car orientation was purely random; finding a gear with the manual stick was a lottery. Brakes were OK, though. But that was the hairiest 15 km drive of my life.

You know, I'm going to donate to the blog because, despite how I feel about @Rex's rants and vendetta with Will Shortz, I do appreciate this community, particularly the Syndies. I think that makes me mature. Should be, at this age.

Diana,LIW 5:49 PM  

Played the puzzle whilst watching the movie "This is Where I Leave You." So had tres fun X two. The movie is about a family that puts the fun in dysfunctional - right up my adolescent sense of humor. Just like the puzzle's theme - which I enjoyed. Of course I solve all over the place, so I don't tire of any particular section.

Hesitated to write in SNAILED and DEER - couldn't be, right? But twas.

Got the trick (or treat) right off the bat, and worked the puzzle within the puzzle.

I sent in a donation during Rex's plea last year and got a card back. Learned how he solves so fast!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

gric;hard 5:57 PM  

Search online for 'accenting French syllables' and you'll find loads of information and comment. Basically, there are no accents on syllables of lone French words. It's only when words pop up in phrases or sentences that any emphasis comes into play. My favorite illustration of this is the English word 'impossible'.
In Spanish, im-po-SI-ble
In Italian im-pos-SI-bi-le
In Portuguese im-po-SI-vel
In French im-pos-si-ble

So, it's not Ruh-NO, or RUH-no...it's ruh-no UNTIL you put in into a phrase or
sentence.

leftcoastTAM 6:31 PM  

Liked the theme and the gimmick. Saw it right off the top with BEARBRYANT, and had fun sussing out the others as well.

Yet, finishing it off was one heck of a grind. Lots of fill with some odd clue-answer pairs, IMO. I won't list them; others will have their own candidates.

Still, stuck with it because it became a challenge to finish, and am glad to have done so, more the finishing than the sticking.

Phew!

rondo 6:45 PM  

Anyone dumb enough to buy a Rhain nauhl(and half swallow that l)or an MG (em-jee), or a Fiat (fee-ott)of a certain vintage got what they deserved. I narrowly missed buying a sport model in the '80s. Glad the dealer didn't take my offer.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

finally figured out the theme with BEARBRYANT. I was trying to make the A+B=C simpler - that A was word compounded to B to make C.

One bug I had was clue for BIAS TIRE being "radial". Its still a radial tire vs a bias tire. In this cluing, the proper answer would have been BIAS PLY (vs. radial), or BIAS PLIES (which contradicts singular/plural), neither of which fit. Hung me up in that area quite a while.

Otherwise, I found this fairly easy, and I normally struggle with some of the more obtuse ones. Had things to clean up at the end like SIPsON vs SIPHON etc

Mr.D 1:02 AM  

ok. I give up....Someone "fill me in" (get it ?) on what the heck IDEAS (61 down) has to do with "What germs may turn into". tnx.

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Mr.D 1:49 PM  

Duck season !

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