Barksdale drug dealer on Wire / SUN 6-11-17 / One of pair of best friends in greek legend / When repeated Polynesian getaway / Dead Sea Scrolls sect

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Constructor: Charles M. Deber

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Think Twice" — words that can be part of one group of things and also another group of things because language is funny that way...

Theme answers:
  • Honestly, there's no way I'm typing all these dumb clues out
Word of the Day: Len CARIOU (41D: Len of stage and screen) —
Leonard Joseph "Len" Cariou (born September 30, 1939) is a Canadian actor, best known for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd in the original cast of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which earned him a Tony award. He currently plays the patriarch, Henry Reagan, NYPD Police Commissioner (retired), in the multi-generational television series Blue Bloods on CBS. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is LOL bad. Delete your puzzle bad. We're-functionally-a-monopoly-so-our-product-sucks-whaddya-gonna-do bad. Whose ides of a good time is this? "Think Twice" is a dumb title. It should be called, "Look all over the grid for *&%^ you don't care about that isn't clever or funny or entertaining in the slightest." Cross-reference after cross-reference after cross-reference, and for what? Words that can have (gasp!) TWO different meanings!? Yeah, it's the *&%^ing English language—it does that. Tedium doesn't begin to get at this solving experience. I mean ... one of the actual answers in this grid is WEATHER WORDS. Just let it sink in. Let that answer pour all over you. Let it bathe your skin in its glory. Sorry, GLORIES. Sincerely, did no one think of what it would be like to solve this. To encounter themers that simply made you stop solving and have to look all over hell and gone for two answers and then figure out how they're alike and then etc.? In a way that had absolutely Zero humor, Zero entertainment value? It's astonishing. BRIDAL THINGS IS AN ANSWER IN THIS PUZZLE. Unless you write letters, this is what you get, from now until eternity—Sunday puzzles as joyous as stubbing your toe and tripping and falling hard on your elbow and then trying to get up but your head hits the counter and when you finally do get up your dogs are looking at you like "???" and you forgot why you came in the kitchen in the first place. That joyous.

Also, the fill does Nothing to mitigate the thematic horrors. The west in particular is pretty rich. REARER!? Oh, sure, that came right to mind (?) (50A: Silver, for example, in the opening to TV's "The Lone Ranger"). And FLEETED!? Sorry I'm late. I FLEETED here, but apparently not flast enough. Florgive me. The AGEES is the band you get when the Bee-Gees aren't available. AURI is abysmal. A professional designer absolutely does not "need" TASTE, which is massively subjective and also have you seen some "professionally designed" hotel lobbies? No. My favorite part of this puzzle is the most out-of-place, ridiculous, "why-am-I-here?" answer in the whole puzzle: HORNY (95D: "Me So ___" (1989 rap chart-topper)).  "Uh ... is this the right address? ... they said y'all needed a stripper, but ... this ...this appears to be an Old Country Buffet ... I've done some weird gigs, but ... I'm gonna call the home office, make sure I got the right address ..." Bah. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. In case you missed it, here's the Jun. 6 article by Adrianne Jeffries entitled "The NYT Crossword Is Old and Kind of Racist," for which I was interviewed (there's audio of the interview). 

P.P.S. Looks like they told the HORNY clue to go home after all (in the online version):


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Kenneth Wurman 12:09 AM  

Definitely an easy puzzle today. I got stuck with "eyeroll", but otherwise no problems. Just a little boring....

L 12:15 AM  

Ugh, this puzzle sucked.

L 12:15 AM  

Ugh, this puzzle sucked.

George Barany 12:21 AM  

Full disclosure: @Charles Deber is a friend both cruciverbally and professionally [check out this prestigious award which he will accept next week]. I saw an earlier iteration of today's puzzle several years ago, and was delighted to see it finally make it in print.

@Rex's pan ignores the theme density--not easy to pull off--and the logical interlinkage of the theme answers. However, kudos for the tidbit about HORNY, and for linking to the @Bob Dylan song!

Later today, the Minnesota Crossword Tournament. Hope some of you can make it in person, or ask for the puzzles to be sent to you. TTYL ...

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

i'm with rex. all that looking back and forth for clues. ugh. i go the conceit early, so, to make it more interesting, i tried to ignore the cross referencing and just solve it. 25 minutes more or less. decent time.

big shout out to "the wire." some great acting, etc. those great shows don't come along every day and the characters were classics: Omar, Cedric, Stringer, Cedric, Jimmy, Mario, D'Angelo, Wee-Bee, Bubbles, Lester, Bunk, Bodie, Herc, Proposition Joe, Kima...

Omar's coming, yo!

CLB 12:26 AM  

You can solve almost every square without looking at a single cross reference. Didn't make the puzzle much better though.

newspaperguy 12:32 AM  

A snooze. No need for the theme to solve this one.

Joe Dipinto 1:01 AM  

I really hate to comment negatively here, but I could not summon up any enthusiasm whatsoever for solving this puzzle. Seemingly every other clue necessitated having to have figured two other answers elsewhere. A mind-numbing, uninteresting headache.

Trombone Tom 1:15 AM  

Aw, gee, @Rex, didn't you like this puzzle?

Seriously, the need to repeatedly refer to the cross-references would have made this a real slog, so I just went ahead and ignored the theme.

I did encounter a few hiccups along the way: Fete-->FETE Tata-->TTYL and BEGaT-->BEGOT.

DRIVEROD sounds more specific to engines than to "parts of a machine assembly."

lg 1:37 AM  

Easy, not medium. Was it great? No. But, complaining about having to go back and forth on clues is a moot argument went almost all of them can be solved with crosses easily. Record times should be plentiful today.

LMAO at "Me so _____" being a clue! Changing it to "_____ Toad" makes it even funnier. I think NYT is trolling @rex honestly.

Anonymous 1:39 AM  

Enjoyed the Hall of fame clue that threw me off, forgot all about ARSENIO

What does GETSAT have to do with intimates? I was thinking something a little more dirty.

jae 2:06 AM  

Perhaps the most annoying puzzle I've done in the last oh let's say 5 years. @Rex mentioned FLEETED which is ridiculous but forgot to point out that it crosses DRIVEROD. Fortunately, as pretty much everyone so far has pointed out, it was so easy you could ignore the theme and still solve it quickly, which was a relief. Please, please, no more like this one!

Melrose 2:21 AM  

Agree with Rex. This was ghastly.

paulsfo 2:47 AM  

I enjoyed it because all the cross references meant that certain parts couldn't be done immediately. So it wasn't overly easy, which some Sundays are.

phil phil 2:54 AM  

Had a fab shop with lots of machinery, never ever heard of a DRIVE ROD. pin shaft ok.
Is it a BRIDAL THING maybe??

Dolgo 3:11 AM  

Ditto to the prevailing sentiment. A puzzle's no fun when all you do is fill in the blanks. The easiest Sunday in memory.

Mr. Sadly 3:25 AM  

I should preface this, perhaps, by saying I could not construct a puzzle if I were paid one million dollars to do it. But honest-to-God, this was yet another boring puzzle in a long string of boring Sunday puzzles, and I wonder if it's time for the Puzzle Editor to hang it up. It's not just that today's puzzle was easy, it was just no fun to do. I felt no spark, no excitement, no surprise, and I felt as if I were a robot automatically filling in the spaces, with no pause for thought or for regard for what I was actually doing. "Fleeted?" "Sudses?" When I saw the "trick" clues, I just ignored them, and blithely filled in everything else I could. At the end of the puzzle I had to check only three of those clues to get the final answers. All right, so I've been doing puzzles since Eugene M. was the editor, and I admit I miss them and him. Not because I am so averse to and unaware of "contemporary" answers, but because there is nothing at all intrinsically interesting, clever, or intellectually challenging about any recent NYT Sundays. I am not angry or upset. Just sad.

Larry Gilstrap 3:27 AM  

Cross referencing in a Sunday puzzle with all those little squares and clues all crammed on a sheet of copy paper, Lordy! HOMER and FROST were FAMOUS POETS, but I just can't bring myself to dig deeper. But, now I see it's one of the myriad BASEBALL TERMS and WEATHER WORDS. Some themers will remain unacknowledged, It's solved and I'm done. Hats off to putting this thing together, I'm in awe of constructors, generally.

I think the line "I cannot tell A LIE" was credited to a young Washington. I was reading a tribute of Lincoln from a contemporary who raved about his scrupulous obsession with honesty. Honest Abe, indeed!

Term limit legislation seems clever at first blush, but how about the value of CAREER diplomats and government workers? Seems we currently are floundering in amateur hour. N'est-ce pas?

I remember encountering Alligator lizards and HORNY toads back in the day, but not so much anymore. Some kids would make pets of them. Shout out to all you Herps out there.

I'll never forget a magical Sunday in Amsterdam. It involved a bicycle and a opera soprano. They have shows on a barge in the canal and she sang a part in that Lakme: Flower Duet. Smitten! Later I was in a cafe dressed in biking gear and she came in with an entourage. I boldly approached the table and gushed in English. She moved towards me and we chatted. When I left her I said, "CIAO." She corrected me, "No, Arrivederci!" Did I mention magic?

chefwen 3:39 AM  

Like others I just ignored the theme answers after getting dizzy just trying to follow the first few.

I usually enjoy a big Sunday puzzle, but I gotta go with Rex on this one.

Anonymous 3:52 AM  

It never occurred to me but here it is. I will mark today as the day that I disliked a puzzle more than Rex. Now I must go sudses myself off, fleetedly.

Loren Muse Smith 4:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 4:53 AM  

Yeah – I pretty much figured that Rex wouldn’t track down and list the all the word pairs and which two groups each belonged to. The fact that I was just hoping someone else would do that leg work for me is telling. I looked at the other sites to see if someone else laid it out for us. Jeff Chen and joon pahk did – thanks, guys.


When I see them all listed, I like it better. Lots of theme real estate here, as @George points out. But, yeah, when BRIDAL THINGS fell, I hesitated. But then I told myself that there’s a little wiggle room on what is a phrase and what’s not a phrase when the phrase is a themer. Right? Those themes where you have the same one-word clue for different meanings? Like, say, the clue “board” could have fill like PIECE OF LUMBER and EXECUTIVE GROUP. Or “fast” could have the answers GO WITHOUT FOOD and SECURED TIGHTLY. (But this kind of theme is among BEQ’s list of bulls&^% themes. So there’s that.)

This one didn’t have any wordplay that I always look for, but I really did get a kick out of seeing each word and how it could belong to two groups. And I sat here trying to see if other words could fit in these groups the same way. I guess a club could be a hand tool. Hey, Eugene – here come those Amway salesmen up the road. Run fetch me my club and hold my beer.

@Trombone Tom – me, too, for “fete” and “begat” first. And “not gay” for LINEAR.

Rex – I totally agree on the subjectivity of TASTE. My mind went straight to professional fashion designers who gave us flared gouchos and cap sleeves. Now there are two styles that don’t look good on Any One.

I had another dnf because my trees “snap” in fierce storms (most of y’all didn’t live through that derecho a while back), so I had a mysterious “borron” for 42A and “dap” 53A. If I had noticed, I could’ve fixed that.

Things I appreciated:

FLIES and HIT crossing BASEBALL TERMS (and NINE crosses the baseball DIAMOND)
LEAD ROLE crossing OSCAR. Wanna see where they live? Buy a STAR MAP.
TUB/MEANS OF TRAVEL (The tender I worked on in Alaska had been brought up from the bottom of Puget Sound and I’m not making that up.)
BYE NOW – last entry (Actually, there are two CIAOS – BYE NOW and TTYL.) Nice.

three of clubs 5:04 AM  

I just stopped doing it. Lame word choices and no fun. Felt like work.

'mericans back in Paris 5:35 AM  

HEE HAW! We're just back from a "self drive safari" in Namibia. (More on that, below.) They don't sell the International NYT there. Hence the radio silence.

We share the general consensus. Kudos to the construction feat, but we ended up trying to ignore the theme clues and answer as much as we could with the crosses. Words I've never heard uttered: REARER, BRIDAL THINGS, CAROM (seems to be specific to billiards and pool), DRIVE ROD (which gets about 3.5% the number of hits on Google as DRIVE shaft), and SUDSES. Knew TTFN, but not TTYL. And, OMAN, though a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is not located on the Persian Gulf (what is normally meant by "Gulf state") but on the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

Shortz ALLOWed IN too many of those, IMHO.

But back to Namibia. Wonderful place. Great people. TRUEly. The country of 2.3 million inhabitants in an area 20% larger than Texas is the second-least densely populated country in the world (after Mongolia). It produces DIAMONDs, but much of its revenue is from tourism. Our MEANS OF TRAVEL was a rented four-wheel drive. We spent a lot of time on remote, dusty roads (I DO NOT GO FAST on them, SO THERE!), but stayed in comfortable but not expensive lodges. Saw lots of elephants, zebras, giraffe, springboks, and even a couple of rhinos.

But the best were the ORYX. I put that in capitals because it is such a common answer in x-word puzzles. And now we've finally seen (and eaten) them! They are magnificent beasts, with straight, sharp horns. I can imagine that if somebody saw an ORYX from a certain angle it would look like a unicorn.

evil doug 5:43 AM  

LABOR adjacent to ABORT is kind of a sad commentary.


Lewis 6:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:14 AM  

I'm guessing the editors thought that all the cross referencing, and answers that couldn't be solved without crosses, would be a tad burdensome on the solver, so they decided to clue this directly/simply, as, say, on the harder end of Tuesday. I was going to list the theme answers, but @loren beat me to the punch, to show the word circle, which is clever and impressive, and which made the editors believe this was worth doing, I'm speculating.

The solving experience for me was like solving a quotation puzzle, where you have to solve around the theme answers in order to get them. Like many here, and like Jeff Chen, as he described his solving experience, I stopped the cross referencing after a bit, and just solved what was available. Afterward, I didn't analyze the theme answers enough to discover the word circle, so what excited the editors (as I speculate) never reached my brain.

The biggest positive of the puzzle for me was how lightning quick it went for a Sunday, even for a puzzle savorer like me. The speed and contrast with normal Sunday difficulty was cool. But may it never become the new normal!

Hungry Mother 6:30 AM  

Wished it was a rebus puzzle. Quick but meh.

Sue 6:33 AM  

I just have one word: COVFEFE

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

In answer to the question about " intimates", the clue has a long A. So "gets at" or "hints at" are good definitions.

Alec Schwartz 6:34 AM  

CARIOU crossing DRI stumped me. Never heard of Len Cariou. And guessed DrY for the proper name.

kitshef 6:59 AM  

I do like the theme, in theory. But the execution wasn’t there. I don’t know if it’s even possible to do this theme without all the cross-referencing – I guess not – but having to jump all over the grid to interpret clues was quite unpleasant.

And then there’s FLEETED. Crossing REARER, no less.


Better clues:
Be ushed. GET SAT
Cause of a car crash, perhaps? DRIVER O.D.
Cause of a car crash, perhaps? SOT HERE

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

I knew as soon as I finished it that Rex would go to town on this one ... it was almost as much fun to read Rex's justifiable write-up as it was to read the famous NYT review of Guy Fieri's in Times Square.

Kdunk 7:17 AM  

Rex can't say this, but his pan is the one redeeming feature of a disaster like this. I got zero pleasure from the solve, and am offended for the new solver by the DRI/CARIOU crossing. But coming here after was even more fun than I expected. Terrible puzzle, fantastic trashing. Literally laughed out loud. Thanks, Rex. As a package deal, not such a bad Sunday morning

Kdunk 7:17 AM  


chefbea 7:31 AM  

Hate puzzles where you have to go back and forth!!! Knew @Rex would not like it either

kitshef 7:48 AM  

'Mericans - mrsshef and I did a similar trip last fall. What an amazing country! My new blogger picture is from that trip.

ClassAct 7:52 AM  

Ridiculous. No fun. Quitting this subscription

Aketi 7:54 AM  

@LMS, I didn't feel like tracking all the themers down but when @Rex didn't produce the usual list, I scribbled them all out on a scrap of paper. I was going to post them but was grateful to see you beat me to it.

DIAMOND could also be a BRIDAL THING.

@Lewis, the word "circle" was torturously twisted in the puzzle.

zevonfan 7:59 AM  

Same feelings as @Mr. Sadly

I credit anyone who can put together a crossword puzzle to solve.

Just a wretched Sunday puzzle. Despised it even more than Rex. Really sad to see the continued decline of the puzzles. They are becoming one of the weakest links in an otherwise terrific newspaper.

Aketi 8:00 AM  

@kitshef & 'Mericans back in Paris, I'm jealous. It's on my bucket list.

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

@Rex writes an amusing rant about a less-than-wonderful puzzle. I agree this is too easy and too tedious for my taste, but it's not hearly as bad as @Rex says it is. For a more thoughtful analsis, including a lst of the interlocking themes, see Lauren Muse Smith (above).

Smitty 8:18 AM  

Part of every puzzle is trying to guess whether Rex loved or hated it...and I rarely get it right.

I don't understand why some (yesterday's) obscure cluing/answers are impressive while others (today's) are dumb. But I'm no expert.

Today was a welcome change from the usual Sunday slog through the big grid. The gimmick gave each part of the grid its own neighborhood. Sure there were some groaners, but no more than the usual for me.

fkdiver 8:31 AM  

Gee I'm tired from jumping allover that grid for meaningless cross references. I think I'll take a nap and hopefully when I wake up there will be a different puzzle and this will all have been a dream.

hankster65 8:40 AM  

For once I have to agree with Rex. Just not fun. I felt like I was doing an extended USAToday puzzle. Ugh.

Two Ponies 8:42 AM  

Rex hasn't been this funny in ages. Thanks.
After this puzzle I needed some humor.
Halfway through this solve I had so many margin notes that I stopped writing them. Sudses??

Mary Perry 8:54 AM  

Maybe I'm simple-minded. I liked it enough.

Jordan Glassman 8:59 AM  

Why does the NYT issue formal corrections on articles, but not in the puzzles?

As Rex pointed out, in a Sunday puzzle, the HORNY clue somehow made it through the editing process and then was changed from '"Me So ___" (1989 rap chart-topper)' to "____ toad".

In case you're wondering how problematic the original clue was, you should take a quick spin through the lyrics of that song.

Pretty much worst case scenario.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

I liked it��

Lobster11 9:24 AM  

I solved the whole thing without looking at a single cross-reference -- as if none of the theme answers had clues. If it hadn't been easy enough to do this way I would've quit after five minutes.

Vincent Lima 9:34 AM  

@Anonymous 1:39 AM: Intimates, the verb.
PS: This was a terrible, boring puzzle.

Two Ponies 9:48 AM  

@ Jordan Glassman,
Thanks (I think) for those lyrics.
I'm speechless.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Please stop. Your weekly whining is getting tired. Give us all a favor and turn the brand over to someone who can find some joy in the enterprise.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Once again, a puzzle focused on the joy of the constructor, not the solver.

Lars 10:02 AM  

On the iPad this was a somewhat better experience as each cross reference get highlighted as one moves around, so no need to find them. My first thought was "oh no" and wondering if I'd have the energy to chase them all down, then when I saw how the app helped, I went ahead with less pain. But not really much of entertainment beyond filling in mostly known words. Had two sloppy errors in the end. Impressed by the effort af the construction; that must have been hard to put together.

Looking back, wondering if a BRIDAL SHOWER is a THING.

mathgent 10:03 AM  

I've stopped doing the too-large Sunday puzzle. The joy per minute is generally too low. After reading today's comments, I have no urge to change course.

Aketi 10:06 AM  

@Mohair Sam, sorry about your disappointment yesterday. Since you are up on your wolves and Brave New World you might have aleardy watched Maya, the monkey, who had the LEAD ROLE in the documentary, Thd Monkey Kingdom. She went from being the OMEGA of her troupe to the triumph of restoring her exlied troupe back to its former GLORy living at Castle Rock. I like stories where the OMEGA's full value is realized in the FINALE.

It was easier to follow the instructions to GO FAST at the start of this puzzle and get to BYE NOW at the end by bypassing the circuitous (nonLINEAR) trajectory of the themers.

You are supposed to include something BORROWed among your BRIDAL THINGS, but adding THINGS
covered in SPANGLEs may be a matter of TASTE especially if they are attached to a BOA.

The TRAIN on my wedding dress had dozens of tiny buttons so it tucked up for dancing by pushing the buttons through loops underneath the skirt. That was a lot of fun to attempt that after a few glasses of champagne.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I don't always agree with Rex, but this time yes. This puzzle wasn't really difficult, but chasing down all those references somewhere in the grid was tedious dog work requiring no puzzle skills whatever.

I can remember back when the Sunday crossword was fun.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

For those doing the European (international generally?) version of this, on the hard copy, and in ink, just finding the cross-references is complicated enough. The puzzle-size and fonts are much smaller for the Sunday (or, weekend, in most areas), and finding things like circled letters and cross-references a real pain. For years they also printed the daily puzzle on the fold.
I think one reason fewer complain about this is the fear that a signed complaint will be printed in the NY Times. Imagine your letter published next to one complaining about genocide, or millions dying of disease and starvation! Yes, we all have difficulties--for some it is murder and starvation, and for me, here in Parisian cafe', solving a puzzle on the fold!
[anon. i.e. Poggius]

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

So there = "Hah!" No way. Absolutely no way whatever. So there.

Steve M 10:25 AM  

Boring as did 99% without themes so just an easy slog

Teedmn 10:29 AM  

Using @r.alphbunker's randomization function makes every puzzle play like it is cross-referenced. You're jumping around the puzzle with no time to get any footholds so this puzzle didn't irritate me as much as some here.

I tried, after finishing, to check out the doubled definitions but wasn't sure if I made it full circle so thanks to Jeff Chen for confirming I did find them all. That was kind of fun.

BRIDAL THINGS - puts me in mind of a story a friend told me. He was in a clothing store and when the clerk approached to ask if he needed any help, he suddenly lost the word for "pants". In a panic, he said, "I'm looking for, for, um, LEG THINGS". (He was in his thirties when this happened so one can't likely blame senescence for that lapse.) I'm willing to credit 34D to what an absentminded bride might say in the shop.

Yes, this puzzle FLEETED by, thanks Charles Deber.

Robert Konigsberg 10:42 AM  

I am surprised by the clue change. Having solved it online, I saw the revised clue. Would be grateful if someone shared a photo of the newspaper clue.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Why not just not give clues for seven answers? Annoying in the extreme...

Maruchka 10:48 AM  

Didn't hate it. I DO NOT know why @Rex didn't supply the solves. Unusual, no? Thanks, @LMS.

Liked HOMER/FROST/FAMOUS POETS, DAMON and OMEGAS (wasn't there a BETA recently?), DRIVE ROD and 95D (hi, @2LiveCrew). No chuckles or AHAs, tho.

Goofs at this end - Paste/TASTE (well, designers I know need it), Harrows/HARRODS (must have been thinking of HAND TOOLS, of all sorts).

Farvel and BTYL!

prandolph 10:55 AM  

Actually, i kind of liked it. Quite easy - the themers sort of filled themselves in as I went. Cute puzzle.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Have to agree with Rex. The theme is not interesting. The cross-referencing was annoying to the extreme. Had it not been for the easy cluing, I would have quit.

Joseph Michael 11:13 AM  

The two most interesting parts of this puzzle were Rex's review of it and the fact that the clue for 95d was changed in the online version.

Cross referencing is never fun and this puzzle was one cross reference after another. An easy but annoying solve that gets an EYEROLL rather than an OSCAR despite the impressive theme density.

Liked BYE NOW as the last WORDS of the puzzle and was glad to see it go.

Robert A. Simon 11:20 AM  

I typically find Rex's (negative) comments a tad pissy and tinged with more than a little jealousy. (Oh, c'mon...if the NYT Features Editor called and said, "Do you have any plans for the next thirty years?," you don't think he'd take He Who Shall Not Be Spelled's job in a New York minute? Even in an upstate New York minute?) But not today's comments. I hate damn-near-made-up words like FLEETED and the others Rex singled out. Oh, and BTW--what would we all think if the clue or answer in some future puzzle was GROOM THING? I also enjoyed the interview he linked concerning the fact that the NYT puzzle seems aimed at only Yale Club members prior to 1950. Perhaps the clue to DORAG might one day be "Play Joplin?"?

Z 11:22 AM  

I learned a new word.
Gotta love those Germans. They got words for all those feelings we usually don't admit to.

Suzy 11:25 AM  

As soon as I hit "FLEETED" (try looking it up - I'll wait. It's not a real word) I knew Rex was going to have a fun review. He didn't disappoint. Alas, I can't say the same for the puzzle. What a hot mess.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@ Robert A. Simon

I usually find do Rex's comments a little sissy.

@ Two Ponies,

Rex and and his pal Evan B. Are mocking get you out twitter.

Stay classy sissy.

Alan_S. 11:33 AM  

One redeeming thing about these terrible Sunday puzzles lately; Rex's rants; and this week's was the funniest yet. Let 'er rip. Don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel Rex!

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Apparently, any criticism of Rex's groaning is grounds for deletion. It's like being on a right-wing site.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Boring and just awful

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

I am referring to puzzle, OFL's rant today was only redeeming part of today's experience.

Music Man 11:41 AM  

I'm so glad you reacted this way. The whole solve was painful for me

Donna 11:44 AM  

Ugh, hated it, but thanks to Rex, I feel less alone in my misery.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Great puzzle. Get a life.

Dan Steele 12:05 PM  

Thanks, Lauren for printing the answers together and reminding me of something that I should have remembered on my own. That creating these kind of circular relationships is really tough. I say reminding because I came up with a half dozen of these kind of tricks on a music site a few years back. A==>B, B==>C,.......,Z==>A. That last relationship is damned tough to do. Sadly, the people I was communicating with then didn't appreciate that. As most of us didn't appreciate this puzzle today. Cool construction traffic, but meh is the solving experience.

Dan Steele 12:08 PM  

Botched that last sentence. I THINK I meant to say, "Cool construction trick, but 'meh' solving experience."

old timer 12:11 PM  

I actually liked it, because those cross-references helped with the solve. I found the puzzle far less boring than the usual Sunday. FLEETED was I agree awful. REARED was I thought quite good.

Thanks for the good work, @LMS, and welcome home, @'mericans.

Alan_S. 12:17 PM  

Now I've read all the comments and see that I was only one of many who enjoyed the rant more than the rent. (You see, the revenue from all those subscribers who keep the Times coming mostly for the crosswords, pays their rent, and if the Sunday puzzles don't improve the NYT faces foreclosure even sooner than expected! Alas, how will I spend Saturday mornings then?

Alan_S. 12:20 PM  


Andy Willinger 12:25 PM  

Usually, I think Rex gets carried away with his criticism, but not this time. No fun at all. Really never bothered with all the cross-references. As others have noted, the fill around was easy enough to get the themed answers, and once you had half the puzzle, the rest was obvious. "rearer" "fleeted" and "sudses" are perhaps the worst answers I can remember in a Times puzzle. Rather than blame the constructor, I blame Will Shortz. Seriously, was that the best puzzle he received, or has he abdicated?

Horny Toad 12:38 PM  


Masked and Anonymous 12:44 PM  

1-A. Holy crossref -- wellp, this was certainly a different solvequest feel. M&A tends to [see 2-A word#1][see 1-A word #8] ... usually.

2-A. [see 5-A word #5] for many of y'all, my [see 1-A word #9] sorta degenerated eventually into "ignore the [see 1-A word #2] dealy and just try to [see 3-A word #6] the long themers".

3-A. Hardest of the themers to guess as a clueless [see 1-A acronym #1]: BRIDALTHINGS.

4-A. Honrable [see 3-A word #9] desperation mention to: WEATHERWORDS.

5-A. Staff we eject pick: BOS. Like this clue better: {Lil stinkers??}. Also, LIC is quite slurpy.

6-A. Constructioneer Mr. Deber has done 38 NYTPuzs since 1982. 36 of em was Sunpuzs. Just sayin.

7-A. Thanx, [see 6-A, name #1]. New fave GETMOONED clue: {See REARER??}. har. Congratz on SunPuz#36, tho.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Sunday sized!!:

Stanley Hudson 12:46 PM  

I don't always agree with Rex but when I do I drink Dos Equis. I'm two-thirds of the way through a sixpack now.

Liz 12:54 PM  

Pronounce the clue with a long A

Puzzlehoarder 12:54 PM  

Going from an excellent series of late week puzzles to the usual Sunday fare is akin to watching a Wheel of Fortune marathon after a particularly good Jeopardy. The on!y good that comes from a Sunday is a valuable entry or two that might show up later in a puzzle like the one we had yesterday. I don't recall any of that today just a lot of routine to really bad fill. The one saving grace today was that the theme didn't include any of the gibberish or dreadful puns that are so often the bane of Sundays.

Robin Ford Wallace 12:55 PM  

I agree it wasn't much fun. I actually came to this site to see if anybody else was disappointed. Maybe a real howler next week is in order?

Adam Frank 1:02 PM  

I thought the puzzle was easy, but I'm completely with @Rex on the pleasure of the solving experience - next to none. SUDSES? Ugh. And given the blahness of the solving experience, the "theme" density wasn't necessarily a good thing. And a quibble: CARD SUITS are conventionally plural - you rarely if ever refer to the "King of DIAMOND or the Ace of SPADE".

I finished relatively quickly but it really wasn't any fun. Unlike yesterday's puzzle, which was tough but fair, and fresh, this was, IMO, not very good at all.

Malsdemare 1:25 PM  

Ugh! FLEETED. SUDSES. REARER. BRIDALTHINGS. WEATHERWORDS. I finished it but it wasn't fun. To whoever posted the words to I'm so horny, thanks . . . er, maybe. Very disturbing.

Nancy 1:33 PM  

I'm back from the park, where I ventured hours ahead of my usual schedule to beat the heat wave that will take over the city beginning right about now. (1:30 p.m.) If I hadn't been in the park hours ahead of my usual schedule, I would have been watching the French Open men's final at 9 a.m. The one thing I surely wouldn't have been doing is this puzzle. It has cross-referencing up the wazoo, and there's nothing I hate more. Cross-referencing = drudgery = tedium = hard work! I'm much too much of a hedonist to be bothered with it. Ever. But I'll go back and read you all, which I imagine will be much more fun. As how could it not?

obertb 1:34 PM  

I often think that Rex doth protest too much, but not today! What a stinker of a puzzle. I generally dislike puzzles that have clues that reference other clues and this one was full of that nonsense, and in the end, after all of that jumping around, there was no payoff in term of solving fun. Yuck. One of the worst puzzles I have ever seen in the NYT.

Susie Q 1:37 PM  

You don't like 2 Live Crew?
Come now, if you did not expose yourself to such vibrant cultural
diversity just imagine the enrichment you would miss.

Joe Bleaux 1:43 PM  

I found this puzzle a joyless slog of a cross-referenced clunker. Rex and the Responders (good band name, huh?) prove I'm not the Lone Ranger here, but I'm off to save the day anyway ... Hi-yo, FLEETEST REARER, away!

Malsdemare 1:50 PM  

@Susie Q. If you are asking me, I don't know 2 Live Crew well enough to know if I like them. Now that I'm out of the college classroom, I am sadly pop-culturally ignorant. But I do know I didn't like I'm So Horny one bit.

John McKnight 1:51 PM  

lmao WEATHER WORDS come on fam

John M 2:02 PM  

The Worst Puzzle of All Time. All the dancing around the grid, without a real Aha moment. POS. Sorry.

Erik 2:05 PM  

Best part of today's puzzle -- Rex's blog post.

By a lot!

Blue Stater 2:18 PM  

Rex is right, as usual. The NYT crossword is just about over. I keep hoping TPTB at the Times will notice, but as usual, no luck, nada, zippo.

webwinger 2:19 PM  

I did not hate this puzzle. Solving experience similar to others--didn't really grok the theme until most everything filled in from crosses. But overall very easy, so I didn't get angry, and sort of enjoyed circling around the completed grid to see the "word circle".

Churlish Nabob 2:26 PM  

When is Shortz going to get his mustachioed head out of his dapper buttocks?

Carola 2:35 PM  

I'm not sure that this was so much a crossword puzzle as just a word puzzle. But anyway, it appealed to me a lot. At first, faced with the non-stop cross-references, I felt my head spinning. I got a grip by writing the combinations out, in the margins of the magazine's page. That made the puzzle much more enjoyable - and doable, as I didn't find it all that easy.
There are times when I've felt that complicated construction feats are intended to redound to the GLORIES of the constructor, leaving the solver to struggle and slog. But that wasn't the case this time for me. I enjoyed anticipating what the new combinations would be - the one I really didn't see coming was the pairing of TRAIN and SHOWER.
I agree that there were some let-me-avert-my-eyes entries (REARER, although I could picture Silver perfectly), but I liked SALOME, SUDSES and VERGES, WOOLENS and SPANGLE, and BEGOT next to SON OF.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Me, too. Liked LEADROLE crossing OSCAR and EYEROLL, HEEHAW and TEHEE, remembered the smell of Wash'n'DRI, and the concept. DNF because I don't think FLEETED is a word. Wanted it to be FLITTED. But maybe I'm just dumb as a rock.

nick 3:04 PM  

I'm with the 'ugh' contingent. Not a fan of having to search the grid for other answers and when it does happen, it needs to be really good.

Still jonesing for a good solving experience today? Try the WSJ puzzles. As of now, they're free. Just download the pdf and print.

tony romabarian 3:26 PM  

I read the opinion piece. The NYT might have its own style, but the language is a lot bigger than it is. It's ironic to critique the puzzle for being elitist and white, on the basis of the style guide of one newspaper.

Tarheeled 3:37 PM  

Total tedium. I did in good time - for me. Almost no write -overs. Dnf cuz of "ttyl". What is with all these darn computers abbreviations?
I'm always so late with my comments as I have to go out mid-morning Sundays to buy the Times for my wife. I do the puzzle. Ergo the Sunday puzzles cost me six bucks!!

dan 4:35 PM  


I visit your site nearly daily. I value you.

I would value you even more if you were a more consistently decent human being.



Passing Shot 4:46 PM  

O MAN, this was a slog. Too many cross-references that I just stopped paying attentin to. Relatively easy but in no ways fun.

Nancy 4:47 PM  

@Z (11:22) -- So, when I couldn't find any "Fremdschamen" reference other than yours, I Googled the word. It's a great word! Like you, Z, I love those long German words that express feelings no one ever talks about. Such as Schadenfreude. Like you, I learned something new today. But, Z, why couldn't you annotate your reference? I skimmed Rex and didn't see it there. I used the F3 key to check previous blog posts, and I couldn't find it there. Was it a clue in this irritating cross-referenced puzzle that I didn't do? Surely it couldn't have been an answer. Please explain, Z -- the curiosity is killing me.

smoss11 5:03 PM  

Could someone explain MAR to me as an org with a 3-1-1,rule? TSA i would understand but who or what is MAR?

Lewis 5:09 PM  

@smoss -- the 3-1-1 clue IS for TSA, and the clue for MAR is "Damage".

Natalie Augur 5:20 PM  

I knew Rex was going to hate this one ---more than usual.
And I agree with him more than usual.
Redeeming factor was that it was over quickly, mercifully.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

I'm torn. I agree that the fill was pretty lame, but I broke my Sunday time record by a substantial margin.

Norm 5:47 PM  

Rex's review and most of the comments here renew my faith that people will not accept B/S. Thank you Stanley Hudson @12:46 for making me snort my Corona out my nose. The 95D clue was still the original on-line at 7 am PST, so I don't know when it got Bowdlerized.

Mohair Sam 6:58 PM  

@Z - Cool word "fremdschamen" - thanks

The puzzle? My mother always told me that if you can't say something nice about . . . . . .

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

Hillary Clinton: "I can tell a lie."

jberg 9:43 PM  

Well, I liked the cross-referencing,and the way that the circle came around, and having to slog through a lot of difficult clues to finally solve the puzzle. So I should have liked it -- except that BRIDAL THINGS and WEATHER WORDS were such copout that they spoiled it for me. They lowered my expectations so far that I actually put in BASEBALL TErMS before I saw that they were TEAMS. Oh, and CARD SUITS. And it's SPADES and DIAMONDS, not the singular.

Namibia, though! @'mericans, @kitshef, @aketi -- went there in 1991, when my son was spending two years teaching at St. Mary's Odibo school way up north I have a great picture of standing on top of a sand dune as the sun rose -- but my ex-wife is in it, so I'd better not post it. But go there if you can!

Andy 10:28 PM  

Every week I say, "Well the good news is it can't get any worse than this." Don't think I need to finish this thought.

Andy 10:29 PM  

Every week I say, "Well the good news is it can't get any worse than this." Don't think I need to finish this thought.

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

Google "fleeted" and look at the very first result.

If you think FLEETED is poor fill, I agree. Nevertheless it is a real word.

To be quite clear, its suitability for a crossword grid is a different issue. The issue being whether such a word is OK for a crossword.

Personally (as a constructor), I would not use FLEETED, because it's too obscure, and just looks weird. But it's still a word, whether we like it or not.

So why challenge people to look it up, when you obviously didn't even Google the word? It took me a matter of seconds to check. Google it yourself... I'll wait.


Anonymous 3:40 AM  

Thanks to Rex for the best part of this puzzle day. I laughed until I cried.

Anonymous 3:58 AM  

I would hope that the NYT doesn't give a rat's assume about rex.

Darby 7:43 AM  

I liked it 😊

oldbizmark 9:58 AM  

best review I have read in a while. thanks, rex.

john phillips 2:18 PM  

ANNOYING! ..... As opposed to difficult, easy or entertaining. ALMOST RUDE!

Rita 8:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rita 12:07 AM  

I wonder if one's reaction to puzzles may be tied to how long you've been solving. I'm recently retired with newfound puzzle time on my hands, and am just beginning be able to solve past Wednesday. This was my first ever solo Sunday solve and I found it fun to work on the intersecting cross references. I thought it was clever. (That said, I didn't think either FLEETED or SUDSES could possibly be right.)

BarbieBarbie 6:24 AM  

Huh. Opposite of almost everyone. I thought the puzzle was fun and well-constructed (except for FLEETED) and Rex's review so strained in its attempt to top previous mean-spiritedness that I stopped reading it after the first paragraph. Thanks NYT for a good puzzle. Yes easy, fifty pct faster than average, probably a PR.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Far more fun reading Rex's comments than doing this puzzle!

Karen & Dave 8:15 PM  

Is is just us or have the Sunday puzzles been uniformly BAD lately? This one certainly was - lame and uninspired. [This is our first comment ever on Rex's page. Glad to have a forum for NYTimes puzzlers.]

Renee Arnold 10:29 AM  

What's with all you haters? I thought this was fun and only challenging because of the need to keep looking back at the items referenced in the clues. Not every puzzle needs to be a class at MIT. I thought this was fun!

Truthteller 10:41 AM  

Honestly, what's wrong with Rex and all you guys! While solving this puzzle, I did not have to read the cross references at all! Yes, if I had to, it would have been tedious. But this puzzle was easy enough to solve in the usual straight way.

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

The cross-reference thing wasn't that bad, because the majority of the fill clues were on the tame side (Exception: the wonderful "Hall of fame" clue). The puzzle did seem sloggish, but not to the degree that OFL and many of my cohorts here seem to feel. You have a 21x21, you're gonna get slog, usually.

But oh boy, FLEETED, and SUDSES?? Enough to, as Twain says, give a body the fan-tods. But I like STARMAP intersecting MEANSOFTRAVEL, and the quintessential "dime" DOD BO Derek. On the final day of the US Open, I'm gonna give this guy a par.

Burma Shave 12:23 PM  


BYENOW she's ALLOWIN' all the FELLAS some fun.


Diana,LIW 1:32 PM  

At first I was cross, and said "Oh tined utensil! Another cross crossword." But was fun. For moi.

1A again reminds me of The Onion's NASCAR interview with a driving coach:

Almost had a dnf - thought GRENADA was in Spain??? But none else would fit.

Floaters in one eye give me sort of double vision, so the hardest part was keeping track of where I was when going back to other clues/answers, but it was worth the effort. Not a LINEAR experience, as I CAROMed about.

Oops - did dnf. Had TTfn - hey, nESTER/LESTER, who knows? And EgEROLL - um, I can't explain that. Maybe someone else can.

@Mark from a few days ago. How you score your puzzle is up to you. But at a tournament, You are given points for correct squares, nada for blanks, points off for wrong squares, and time is factored in. You basically need a cosine and the first 15 numbers of Pi to figure it out, but feel free to create your own formula.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords that Go Fast!

Diana,LIW 1:35 PM  

I also missed DRI with DRy, but so did Bill Butler. As I filled it in, I wondered how a hand towelette could wash AND dry - still wonder.

Lady Di

rondo 3:06 PM  

Whole lotta cross-referencing going on. Better than a rebus no matter what OFL says. At first had Tata for TTYL and I began with BEGaT before I got BEGOT. Was kinda fired up when BASEBALLTERMS appeared, but that was about the end of the sports theme. SONOF a gun.

A little NORSE TEHEE: Lena said, "OLEATE a SLEW of lutefisk with a NIPAT the aqvavit, so IDONOT get HORNY." HEEHAW.

Speaking of getting HORNY, wonder if yeah baby REESE W. SUDSES in the SHOWER or a TUB, or BOTH? Lacking TASTE, several of today's answers come to mind; ALLOWIN DRIVEROD REARER GOFAST. SOTHERE. BYENOW.

rain forest 3:06 PM  

I think that if someone really dislikes a puzzle; I mean, sees red, or worse, black, then that person should simply abstain from commenting. What is being accomplished by dumping all over a puzzle? Anyone? I just don't understand that mentality, though.

The construction of this one took some doing if you're having some entries be the answers for two different clues. I doubt that is easy to do. I did find it quite disconcerting dealing with the cross-references, but that's how this puzzle was designed.

Overall, it was quite easy, and so it didn't feel like a slog while solving, and I did enjoy the solve as I FLEETED through it.

leftcoastTAM 5:47 PM  

To start with, cross-referenced puzzles are my least favorite kinds. This one, built on such annoyances, repulsed me from the start. Slogged through it as far as I could tolerate and, finally coming to my senses decided, what the hell, ditch it. Enjoy Fathers' Day.

wcutler 5:30 PM  

Before I noticed the cross-references, I wondered if the gimmick was to make all the answers the lame crossword fill everyone complains about. Then I found the cross-references and was a little more amused but I wished I had some mental plan of how they worked. I even thought of drawing the plan, but didn't feel like it. So thanks to @LMS for posting that, makes me appreciate it a little more. Still, the clues could have been more fun, except as mentioned, Hall of fame, which was the best.

I don't know Lester Holt so thought Nester was possible, and I don't remember ever seeing TTYL; still, I'm surprised that I couldn't correct EFEROLL.

Michael Leddy 9:23 PM  

Six weeks after the fact, in syndication, the "Me So _____" clue is still there.

Checking the cross-references would have been more than a little excruciating with the Seattle Times online puzzle, which doesn't show the full Sunday grid all at once. I solved without the cross-references and don't think I missed much.

I just started doing the free WSJ puzzle, which seems far better than the NYT these days.

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