Crystal jewelry company with swan in its logo / SUN 9-3-17 / Constellation next to Corona Australis / International fusion restaurant chain / Low-quality bank offerings whose acronym suggests stealthiness / Hoppy quaff briefly / wacky tobacky in part / one-third of B-52 cocktail

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Challenging (based solely on the NE corner)

THEME: "United Kingdom" — actually a puzzle about ANIMAL MAGNETISM (110A: Sex appeal ... or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues), where the circled squares inside each theme answer spell out two animals (I guess they are "magnetically" attracted to each other ?):

Theme answers:
  • BOAR DINGO / FFICER (23A: *Law enforcer with the Coast Guard)
  • INT / ERNE TROUT / ER (33A: *It passes on some bits of information)
  • IMMANU / ELK ANT (48A: *Philosopher who wrote "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made")
  • GOODWIL / LAMB ASS / ADORS (66A: *Celebrities working for the U.N., perhaps)
  • IN / STAG RAM / MER (ugh) (85A: *Certain photo poster)
  • CORPO / RAT EEL / ITE (not a thing) (99A: *Business bigwigs)
Word of the Day: NINJA LOANS (76A: Low-quality bank offerings whose acronym suggests stealthiness) —
A NINJA loan is a nickname for very low-quality subprime loans. It was a play on NINA, which in turn is based on the notation scheme for the level of documentation the mortgage originator required. It was described as a no income, no job, [and] no assets loan because the only thing an applicant had to show was his/her credit rating, which was presumed to reflect willingness and ability to pay. The term was popularized by Charles R. Morris in his 2008 book The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown, though the acronym had been publicly used by some subprime mortgage lenders for some years. They were especially prominent during the United States housing bubble circa 2003-2007 but have gained wider notoriety due to the subprime mortgage crisis in July/August 2007 as a prime example of poor lending practices. The term grew in usage during the 2008 financial crisis as the sub prime mortgage crisis was blamed on such loans. It works on two levels – as an acronym; and allusion to the fact that NINJA loans are often defaulted on, with the borrower disappearing like a ninja. // The term was also popularized in the 2010 US film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps by the character Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas.
• • •

No, no thank you. Two animals stuck together ... ish? I'm just not feeling this concept. First because it just feels simplistic, second because the execution of the theme results in some terribly unsatisfying stuff like BOARDING OFFICER (?) and CORPORATE ELITE (which is just not a thing—I nearly threw the puzzle across the room at that point; I *know* I exclaimed "Not a thing!" as I continued solving...). This just wasn't to my taste, at all ever. It also contained many things I'd just never heard of. Like BOARDING OFFICER. Also, NINJA LOANS (me: which ... part of that ... is a bleeping "acronym"!?), though I think that answer is fine, unlike SWAROVSKI, which I think is stem-to-stern garbage. That NE corner was basically a puzzle unto itself, 10x harder than the entire rest of the grid. If you don't know that stupid proper noun (wtf is "crystal jewelry" anyway?) then every single letter is a guess, and thus Every Single Cross is necessary. And then those crosses, ouch. So many of them were just really, really hard. So you up the difficulty *right* at the point that you've plunked stupid SWAROVSKI down!? Yeah, screw this entire corner and the horse it rode in on. Here is where I was when the wheels totally came off:

Clue on INTERNET ROUTER, hard. On ARCHIVE, hard. We've already established that SWAROVSKI is gibberish. I had 22A: Prince of TIDES (not WALES). Clue on STRAW (44A: Little sucker?), hard ("?" clue + how exactly is a STRAW "little"??? Compared to what?). "OK, SURE" coulda been many things (I had "OH, SURE" at one point). Whole thing was just Brutal. And for no payoff. No aha. Just ... ugh. What the hell is the clue on WEED!? (47D: Wacky tobacky, in part) If you'd just said [Wacky tobacky] then OK, SURE, but "in part"!?!?! Then what the actual F is "Wacky tobacky"? Given its name, I seriously doubt the recipe is very, uh, standardized. God I hate that clue. It had me IN A PET (note to constructors: ritually burn this bleeping answer out of your word list). The Penn State logo is the profile of a Nittany Lion (whatever that is). I see them all over the place. So PAW PRINT can **** off. Man, is there anything I enjoyed here? I guess the central themer is pretty sweet (if you're in to LAMB ASS ... he said ROGUISHLY). Else, nay. Sundays are really really hard to pull off. If theme is merely average (or worse), then it's just tediously long. Gotta be special. "Best Puzzle in the World," after all. Should live up to that name. More often, anyway.

[h/t Erik Agard]

A few reminders. First, if you want to get the Lollapuzzoola play-at-home puzzle pack (all the puzzles from last month's tournament, which was fantastic), then you need to do that now. Like, today. Here. Go get 'em. Second, once you have finished those puzzles, please listen to this episode of "The Allusionist" podcast, in which Helen Zaltzman gives you an inside look at the tournament and its attendees, including me (and my wife! and at least half a dozen other people I know and like! Saturday's constructor Erik Agard is in there!). I've read / listened to a lot of crossword journalism, and this is probably the coolest outsider's-view take on crossword culture that I've come across. Worth your 25 min. Also worth your 25 (+ another 15) minutes: my "On the Grid" podcast with Lena Webb, the latest episode of which is now up (004: "MOÉT / ASTI"). We talk about good clues for bad fill (including an extended discussion of ELOPE clues like 106A: Tie up quickly?), and then we drink bubbly and talk about MOËT and ASTI. So there you go, lots of homework for you. Enjoy!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I've got lots of people, including at least one Chemistry Ph.D., telling me they've never heard of AMATOL (98D: Big bang creator). I also have never heard of this (outside of crosswords), but I never trust my own judgment on sciencey stuff.

P.P.S. my wife is *furious* at 27A: More decisive (SURER), which may seem weird, until you realize she was stuck in that corner and *refused to consider* SURER because, well ... the word had already turned up in the grid! (53A: "Works for me" => "OK, SURE"). I have to agree, that is a pretty crappy dupe. Little words are no big deal, but otherwise, you shouldn't be duplicating words (or different versions of the same word). It is reasonable for solvers to assume that most words (esp. 4+-letter words) won't be duplicated within a grid. Duping SURE(R) here is bad form.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lee Glickstein 12:07 AM  

I found the NYT to be criminally inelegant. You see, to pay off the theme ANIMAL MAGNETISM I couldn’t help but imagine each pair as would-be lovers. The only one who’d make out would be the ERNE if he eats TROUT, but that wouldn’t be a turn on for the fish. The BOAR and DINGO would annoy the crap out of each other, as would the LAMB and ASS, and STAG and RAM. It would be fight club for the RAT and EEL, with the RAT dominating on land and the EEL in water, again with no turn on for the loser. The ELK and ANT wouldn’t notice each other at all even if they were both naked, so what the hell are they doing in this puzzle? The only excuse for this crossword, supported by it’s range from 1 Across (MAYHEM/DISORDER) to 122 Across (MT/ST.HELENS) is its theme of violent internal disorder leading to an explosive conclusion. So very presidential.

MaharajaMack 12:11 AM  

Swarovski was a gimme for me. And no, I'm not (that) gay. Who doesn't know that? Other than Rex?

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

DNF at LEILA - ALFRE cross. Otherwise, pretty smooth solving. No problem with SWAROVSKI, or the NE in general.

jjpennyless 12:27 AM  

Not sure that bratty equals snot-nosed. To me (and merriam webster) snot-nosed denotes young and childish, not yet wiping ones own nose.

Totally guessing at the Leila - Alfre cross, that seemed a little unfair.

No problem with Swarovski or the NE in general.

Waa waa waa best puzzle in the world blah blah blah gets sooo tedious.

puzzlehoarder 12:42 AM  

This was an unusually tough Sunday which is a good thing. Little things like DUB and EGOT I didn't figure out until after finishing. If the crosses support it just keep going. There were a number of write overs along the way. ELI/ARI cost me the most time. The NE was difficult enough without that extra impediment. Settling on a workable spelling for SWAROVSKI was like walking through a minefield. Oddly SPARE was one of the more challenging entries in that section. As I was solving I kept thinking to myself that if I just looked ahead for a revealer it might make things easier. However the solving difficulty was what I liked the most. So often Sundays are just bloated early week puzzles. This one was well into the late week range. After yesterday's BEIR fiasco I went over every line at xwordinfo to make sure I got a clean grid.

Trombone Tom 12:50 AM  

My experience was similar to @Rex's. I plodded through the puzzle and met with the same resistance in the NE. When it was all done I looked at all those animal combinations and wondered WOE was the point.

Sawarovski was awfully slow to come; I'm not big on flashy crystals. Hand up for tidES before WALES. And I had a hard time recognizing the MARQUEE as the place for my stars to appear.

I liked the clues for DEERE and ONEAL.

allan 12:50 AM  

Most joyless puzzle in ages, and there have been others almost this bad.

Bruce Levy 1:05 AM  

I also thought that Swarovski was awful, but the rest of the NE grid didn't seem that hard. I kind of liked the way the puzzle unfolded for me. The theme itself was pretty dumb and unexciting. No delight there. Otherwise, I had no real probolems with this one. Just chipped away at it and it came together.

Dawn 1:08 AM  

Yup, another chemistry Ph.D. here...I didn't know Amatol either. Also, I kept thinking the theme can't be just two random animal names next to each other, right? Seems like ANIMAL MAGNETISM had more potential to create something interesting. I knew SWAROVSKI (it's not that obscure, really) but there was plenty of other stuff to get hung up on. This puzzle was tough and not in a fun way.

Robin 1:17 AM  

No big problem here with the NE. Entered WALES without thinking about it, and the W gave me SWAROVSKI, which I'd heard of because they also make telescopes and spotting scopes, such as some birders use.

Finished this in about average time. Last letter I entered was the L in OLE/LEILA.

Have to agree that the theme was really terrible.

jae 2:18 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. SWAROVSKI was a total WOE so I'm with @Rex on the NE. Like it a tad more than @Rex did but not because of the theme.

Biddle 3:15 AM  

Amatol was a British explosive blend used during the world wars. So less aimed at the chemists than the war movie buffs, perhaps.

Also, am I reading Rex correctly in that he believes CORPORATE ELITE isn't a common term? I'm honestly dumbfounded at that assertion.

Horace S. Patoot 3:24 AM  

Why is the clue for 111D NOH in the plural?

alexa shortbush 3:31 AM  

So joyless I nearly considered abandoning my 225+ day solve streak on the NYT app.

And enough with wacky tobacky. Smoke a bowl and get a new clue.

Andy 3:39 AM  

the problem with this puzzle is that it's not kevin g. der's lollapuzzoola puzzle of the same name/similar gimmick that was the best puzzle of 2013 and maybe also ever

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

I think Swarovski is pretty well know, but to be honest I'm shocked Rex hasn't heard of Ninja loans. No Income No Job/Asset? If you lived through the financial crises and listened to any NPR, this was an impossible acronym to avoid.

Anonymous 4:27 AM  

About as much fun as a trip to the dentist.

razerx 5:41 AM  

Sauce pan worked nicely but I have never enjoyed bacon while running.

Lewis 5:51 AM  
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Lewis 5:55 AM  

Missing @larrygilstrap's comments! (Also missing LMS's comments, but I figure it's the start of school and she's ultra busy...)

I got a third of the way through, fighting difficult/wonderful clues (SPARE, STRAW, ONTAP, BATON, SAUTEPANS, OLE) and asked, "Do I want to finish this? I'm sweating here..." Took a short break, came back, and the rest fell in a slam. How can the brain be so Jekyll/Hyde?

Some very nice answers -- ROGUISHLY, MARQUEE, ARGOT, a symmetrical rhyme (STAID/TRADE), and symmetrical opposites (ULTRACOOL/SNOTNOSED). I remember coming across ORRERY before, but it wouldn't come -- I needed every letter. The theme was cute, and I don't know how Andrew came up with all those answers; I'm going nuts trying to think of one more (unsuccessfully).

So, for some reason, I looked up KAHLUAH, just to learn a little more about it, and in one piece there was this quote by Frank Sinatra I'd like to share: "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy."

Johnny 6:02 AM  

Hell, I'm straighter than John Wayne voting for Reagan on a horse and even I knew SWAROVSKI.

Z 6:17 AM  

I got SWAROVSKI totally from crosses, but the NE wasn't all that tough. The NW was far more problematic for me. Otherwise what Rex said only turned down about three notches.

Steve Snyder 6:34 AM  

Title has nothing to do with the theme and theme has nothing to do with the solve and revealer has nothing to do with title or theme. SWAROVSKI makes me long for the old days when brand names were taboo. Bunches of yucky fill with clues that I guess were supposed to be cute and clever but just made joylessness painful. Best puzzle in the world? My a**.

Smitty 6:34 AM  

DNF at the ONEAL/PALUA cross (can someone please explain ONEAL?)

Otherwise a guessing game of obscure names and " if you say so" answers. NE was easier than NW for me

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

One big happy family. Gotta go watch TCM and hate all things Trump.

Stanley Hudson 6:45 AM  

@Geezer Jack, from a couple days ago: I appreciate you "backing off" a bit. Be well.

Mike E 7:01 AM  

Just fought my way through it and didn't find NE corner any more grudging than any other area. Some answers got filled in before I deciphered the clues - sort of like solving a cryptic sometimes. E.g., laughed after being sidetracked by "Happy event after a split?" and several others. Unlike a lot of people here, I'm not looking for some sort of aesthetic high from solving. Theme says "United Kingdom"?, then oh, so the theme clues have two animals back to back, belly to belly? Great, I see it! Solved the whole puzzle, nothing missing, there's the pleasure. Once everything makes sense, I leave the aesthetics to the zealots.

three of clubs 7:11 AM  

@Smiity Shaquille ONEAL was once the center for the Miami Heat.

Northwest was a bear. The rest kind of sorted itself out. Not so happy about the less famous Woodward, but got learn something somewhere. Wish it were important enough to me to remember.

Margaret 7:22 AM  

Ditto. That was super easy. Was the easiest one in the puzzle for me.

BarbieBarbie 7:43 AM  

This was not a hard puzzle, easier than normal for a Sunday. Wasn't sure how to spell Alfre or Swarovski but did know the answers. Didn't see the puzzle title so I got the theme from the revealer, after noticing and wondering about LAMBASS, which was a nice AHA. Made me smile.

As a PhD chemist, I appreciated the AMATOL misdirect- a word that looks like a chemical name but is actually a slangy fusion of two other names.

I don't like the crystals myself but appreciate their existence. Nobody has to go into a hole in the ground to get them. Hooray for laboratory-made jewelry. Better things for better living. Oops, obsolete now.

I agree about SURE twice. Otherwise I liked this puzzle. It was fun!

Little brown bear 7:48 AM  

Can someone explain why "dub" is answer for "start to call"? (One down)

Charles Rosenzweig 7:50 AM  
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chefbea 7:50 AM  

What an awful puzzle!!! Did not understand it at all!! Hand up for knowing swarovski...have many pieces of that it

Charles Rosenzweig 7:53 AM  
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Muscato 7:53 AM  

Had a pause the double-sure, but other than that trotted right through this one about a quarter faster than my Sunday average. I suppose it helps that my husband used to sell higher-end gift items, so SWAROVSKI wasn't an issue, that I've always liked ALFRE, and old IMMANUEL somehow came to mind as soon as I got TORME (a great American voice - give him a listen this, at least in DC, chilly September Sunday morning).

Charles Rosenzweig 7:55 AM  

Smitty - Shaquille O'Neal

Peter 7:56 AM  

I got SWAROVSKI without a single cross. Thank you, VAJAZZLER Infomercials!!!

Also, I'm with the people who could only imagine that these animal pairs were f***ing. I mean, that might be my problem, but it was the core concept of the revealer, correct? Get some of that sexy RAT-EEL action!

Barbara Silbert 8:09 AM  

For me, the northWEST corner was hardest! Since I'm a woman, I got Swarovski instantly!
I never heard of "orrery" and "ultra cool" for really happening was a stretch.
Also "dub" for start to call, and "boarding officer" were difficult.
I think the whole theme was a bit dumb, and didn't pay any attention to it because
it didn't help solve it.

clk 8:23 AM  

My only problem with SWAROVSKI was trying to spell it with an SV instead of SW.

I just figured out that EGOT for singing awards sweep must stand for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. Never heard of it before.
Thanks to whoever explained ONEAL.
Can someone explain how DUB is "start to call"?

QuasiMojo 8:30 AM  

What on earth does "animal magnetism" have to do with sex appeal? It means something completely different.

Grafting different animals onto each other in ridiculous phrases is just absurd.

Not sure why people are alluding to their heterosexuality in defending Swarovski. Did Rex say something about it being gay?

Ridiculous puzzle. I keep forgetting that I hate the Sunday puzzles now and go ahead and start them. Once you begin it's hard to stop. What a waste of time. Perhaps I should have gone to church instead.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Since no one has mentioned it, is ORRERY a well known word?
I have never heard of it.

QuasiMojo 8:31 AM  

P.S. to the commenter above me

I think dub is referring to "I dub thee..." etc.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Svarkovski was a gimme. Utter bollocks to slag the puzzle based on solver ignorance of a fairly common brand.

The gimmick was dumb sure but the criticism of the NE was way off base.

Jofried 8:43 AM  

@Barbara Silbert...same exact experience! I finished the entire puzzle in about 20 minutes and then the NW killed me. ORRERY? Really? And I spent an eternity trying to get BOARDING OFFICER even though I had everything but the first four letters. Not a fun puzzle!

Aketi 8:51 AM  
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Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Amatol was also the name of a community in the NJ pinelands, built expressly for the purpose of producing Amatol during WWI. It had its own railhead, docking facility, housing for workers, theaters, and barracks for police and army units. Later there was an auto racetrack there. It no longer exists except as a few ruins out in the piney woods. Had I not once done some local history research about this obscure town, I doubt that I would have known of this obscure explosive.

Aketi 8:56 AM  

Well that bit of DISORDER messed with my NEUROPATHS.
The DEERE and the recent puzzle from the family of Equidae, made me think it might be some sort of puzzle featuring the family of Cervidae. While they did feature prominantly, there was mixing across families, classes, and even phyla. I learned that EELS and not in the same class as lampreys.

The only combo that made sense to me required repairing of the RAT and ASS, which is about what I suspect @Nancy would say she wouldn't give for this puzzle thanks to all the circles.

Glimmerglass 9:10 AM  

@Rex: Before you throw your laptop across the room because you don't know a word, realize that somebody knows it -- the constructor, and presumably the editor looked it up just to check. Moreover, there are probably hundreds (well, dozens anyway) of your fellow NYT solvers who know it. More important, even more find getting a word from crosses (and sometimes inferences) more satisfying than just plain knowing an arcane word. I never heard of SWAROVSKI -- jewelry is nowhere near my wheelhouse --, but the slavic-sounding name sounded reasonable and the crosses checked with other crosses (except maybe for OK SURE, which might have started OH). OK then. It stays. The same experience with AMATOL, except that one sounded a bit familiar (goes with nitrate). I found this puzzle very challenging -- all over, not just the NE corner. A lot of end-of-the-week cluing and some arcane words. Want to know what made it Sunday-easy for me? The theme. Once you see BOAR DINGO, the other themers fall like autumn leaves. I liked this puzzle very much. If I got as angry as you (and I guess your wife), I wouldn't do crosswords at all.

clk 9:13 AM  

Thanks! Seems clear now but I just couldn't get the connection though I knew the answer was right.

mmorgan 9:16 AM  

I often find much to enjoy in puzzles that Rex slams. Not this one (though there are some pleasing clues and answers in it, SWAROVSKI and AMATOOL notwithstanding). Not a lot of fun for me, but I guess that any puzzle that has both IMMANUELKANT and SNOTNOSED in it has at least some redeeming qualities.

Dan S 9:25 AM  

Theme was okay. About average time for me. Agree with Rex, as a Penn Stater, that our symbol is not a paw print. That's an alternative symbol like a blue "S." A profile of the Nittany Lion is the symbol. Also, "corporate elite" and "ultra cool" are not terms anyone uses. NE corner was fine for me - SE corner got me bogged down. I should have paid more attention in chemistry class - "amatol."

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

The theme title "United Kingdom" refers to the names of two members of the animal kingdom being united.

SteveCFL 9:29 AM  

The only way a person could POSSIBLY know about Swarovski would be if they had been in a shopping center over the past 20 years. I like reading Rex - but I've never understood the white heat anger at encountering something that he isn't immediately familiar with. Isn't that at least part of the point of solving these?

Nancy 9:36 AM  

@Aketi (8:56)-- Didn't hate it. In my paper edition, there are no annoying tiny little circles. Instead, there are large gray squares. Unlike tiny little circles, large gray squares generally don't annoy me at all. Go figure. Despite the mostly negative remarks above me, I quite liked this puzzle. It was crunchy; it was impossible to figure out the theme without seeing the revealer (a good thing); and once I did figure out the theme, it was helpful to my ability to solve in several spots -- the most notable being the completely Huh??? SWAROVSKI. I sure needed TROUT to get that! Unlike others on this blog, I expected no copulation from the various animals. I was perfectly okay with them simply nestling next to one another. And the Lamb will lie down with the Ass, as the Bible almost says. Good one, Mr. Zhou: It's a clever bit of construction that also provided me with a lively, enjoyable solving experience.

ArtO 9:40 AM  

If "he" hasn't heard of it, it's unfair. Too bad! SWAROVSKI was a gimme for me. Had to Google to get AMATOL.

If I haven't heard of an answer, well, that's too bad. A limit to my knowledge. But I don't cast aspersions and blame my lousy time on it.

boomer54 9:40 AM  

98 A ...Onetime Yankee nickname ( 4 letters ) ....

AROD ??? ... Anathama !!!

JOE D ... BABE ... YOGI the MICK ...

The Juicer was from NY ...

But ...He was never a Yankee ...

GHarris 9:47 AM  

I recognize that one can call or dub something by a certain word but I still don't see how one is a start to the other. This just had too much unknowable crap for me to complete even though I got most of it from knowledge (Swarovski) or good intuition (Kant). Very frustrating and unsatisfying.

Isaac Mayo 9:50 AM  

Ok -- like Rex had trouble with NINJALOANS "acronym" clue. Is the acronym NJL -- thus if you say the three letters N-J-L it sounds like IN JAIL? Is this an "acronym"? I think it's an initialism. And I dislike it when initialisms are mistakenly referred to as acronyms. Lousy clue.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

SWAROVSKI was a gimme--I own a few pieces. VERY expensive trinkets, made in Austria.

AMATOL was clever: I thought of "The Big Bang Theory" and the Universal origin; once I had it I realized it was simply an explosive, used extensively in WWII.

But overall this one was hard, requiring me to suss out the long answers based on few crosses. Solving it was unpleasant, unsatisfying.

Aketi 9:53 AM  

Haha,@Nancy, glad you got the gray squares today.

Annie 9:57 AM  

Not a single moment of joy in this puzzle. Patrick Berry, where are you?

Nancy 9:57 AM  

Much as I enjoyed the puzzle, I did have some complaints, which I'd since forgotten about, since I did the puzzle last night:

1)Another hand up for not understanding the DUB clue/answer. Quasi's explanation doesn't really cut it for me; assuming Quasi's right, it's a really badly phrased and unfair clue.

2)How can a tow truck be a WRECKER? (93A) It moves vehicles. It doesn't wreck vehicles.

3)And I don't get ONEAL (67D), either.

GeezerJackYale48 10:01 AM  

Hard puzzle for sure. Most enjoyment this morning was laughing at Rex. He blanked at 25 across and couldn't see Prince of Wales? He goes bonkers twice over Swarovski and Coast Guard Boarding Officer? Heehee. Makes him look a little more human than some of his "took me 14 seconds longer to finish today"comments.

Piper 10:08 AM  

Why is O'Neal the heat center of old?

prandolph 10:13 AM  

Same problem for me. Enjoyed Rex's writeup if not the puzzle.

Blue Stater 10:13 AM  

Staggeringly, unbelievably bad, for all the reasons pointed out by OFL and many more besides. This puzzle should never have seen the light of day in a general-circulation newspaper. Any newspaper. But particularly the NYT.

John McKnight 10:19 AM  

I thought there were challenging corners all over the puzzle. Because of the US Open, and Maria Sharapova just the other day talking about SWAROVSKI crystals on her tennis outfit, the NE was easy for me. Sometimes you get lucky. However lol @ ROGUISHLY and its ilk

Stuart Showalter 10:27 AM  

Shaq played center for the Miami Heat.
I took DUB to mean the start of a broadcast station's *call* letters, as in: "Dubya A B C" for WABC radio or tv.

Maruchka 10:27 AM  

Huh. Just recently thinking that an ORRERY would make a nice home addition. First viewed in the early 70's while reading really good, then-current sci-fi.

Agree, mostly, with @Nancy and @Lewis. Haven't tried the online puzz (I'm a pen and paper maven) so maybe the shaded boxes helped reveal the 'united' theme? Quibble - the feel seems a bit balky and uncooperative, sorta like my old grumpy 'puter (one reason why I don't solve online).

Overall, a respectable Sunday head scratcher. Thanks, Mr. Zhou.

Stuart Showalter 10:28 AM  

And, of course, anything Rex doesn't know is hard and horrible and blah blah whine whine.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I have to disagree with Rex about the NE corner. The very first word I put in the puzzle was spare. Then Wales and aren't. The whole corner including internet router was filled in in less than 5 minutes. I did not pay any attention to the theme until the end and then had some trouble figuring it out as was looking for "sexiness" in the words before I noticed that 2 animal names were side by side.

Greg Charles 10:32 AM  

I was worried about this puzzle when I saw the clue to the revealer was "sex appeal" and the first theme answer I got was "lamb ass". Wow. Fortunately, it turned out more annoying than dark. Like most other commenters, I found Swarovski to be easy, except for the spelling, and the real brutal area was the Northwest: with orrery, boarding officer, dub, ILO. That plus the nearby Leila / Alfre cross almost did me in.

For dub, I think it's just when you dub something something, you start to call it that. Like dubbing Trump, "the Putin lover" or "the Nazi-in-chief". I'm so conditioned to look for plays on words that that sometimes a straightforward meaning goes right past me, like a changeup pitch in baseball.

Teedmn 10:36 AM  

I found this challenging similarly to @Rex but the NE wasn't the problem. SWAROVSKI was a gimme - my mother collected their little crystal animals and every year I bought her one of the new pieces for Christmas. When I first started buying them, I could buy one of the mid-sized pieces but as the years went on, the size I could (or would) afford shrank considerably. When I was in Austria, I went into one of the Swarovski stores, thinking they might be cheaper at the source but they were the same price as at Macy's in Roseville, MN.

My trouble was with the ONEAL BENT INAPET PALAU area and @Rex's OK SURE WEED STRAW area. I found myself nodding along to @Rex's writeup at that point, totally in SYNTH with my experience.

While the theme phrases didn't iridesce, I did like the ANIMAL MAGNETs and can admire the work it took to find the,ears that would work. (Never heard of a NINJA in respect to banking - that J threw me for a while.)

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

My husband got Swarovski immediately. I got it because my friend makes jewelry. He got it because they advertise in the Wine Spectator. So the next time you discuss Meot and Asti think Wine Spectator, a great publication and you might learn something( besides an f-word). Also, anyone who watches NCIS knows what a boarding officer is.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

Thank you, @Stuart S (10:27)! Of course!

PG Bartlett 10:44 AM  

Enjoyed it. A lot. Except that it was too easy (time 15:51).

Ralph Phillips 10:47 AM  

Miami Heat maybe

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

To "Dub"is to bestow a new name or title (like a knight or a dame) so you begin to call the person by a new name or title.

Boo Radley PA 10:53 AM  

For me the Northwest was the hard part. I had never heard of ORRERY, and don't understand how DUB is Start to call. I know SWAROVSKI from optics (binocular), so I was able to make that connection. Very challenging puzzle for me, and not very satisfying.

Hollis French 10:56 AM  

Anybody who was an army engineer around 50 years ago knows AMATOL well. I don't think it ever had a civilian use, but it may have because it has a much sharper bang than TNT. It pulverizes rather than pushes.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Am I the only one who found the GAOL/ARGOT cross horrible? I had JAIL for the longest time and just couldn't make the connection. ORRERY was really bad too.

Joe in Newfoundland 11:04 AM  

No problem with the grid, but the "theme" was sad.
Regarding weak cluing, I get the weekday puzzles in syndication, so 6 weeks late. I wonder if Mr Shortz realizes how this fact exposes some of the weak clues.

puzzlehoarder 11:05 AM  

@Nancy, the DUB clue was hard for me to understand also. I was familiar with the two meanings of DUB being either to name something by "dubbing it" and the other being to DUB a soundtrack by recording over it, but still found todays clue meaningless while solving. I got it afterwards when I realized that you DUB or "nickname" something by just "starting to call it" by that name. The constructor or editor simply made it more cryptic by shortening the phrase to "Start to call". This kind of clue tweeking has been going for the entire Shortz era and I still fall for them. Thank goodness there are always crosses.

MexGirl 11:05 AM  

Agree. Anyone who's been inside a mall has seen the word SWAROVSKI in their peripheral vision. Rex's rants are getting ridiculous.

Patricia Hughes 11:09 AM  

Weird - got the NE with no problem but was at the end of the puzzle before I realized that animal magnetism had no magnetism. Unless I totally missed the point.

Was there a point?

relicofthe60s 11:14 AM  

So Rex throws a tantrum because a puzzle contains stuff he doesn't know? Rex, the puzzles you love are full of stuff I don't know, like obscure rappers and other pop-culture stuff. Talk about a double standard. I didn't know SWAROVSKI either, but it was easily gettable from the acrosses.

Two Ponies 11:14 AM  

I want my money back as well as the time I wasted.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Oh please. The NE was easy, Swarovski is a household word. My ipads type-ahead knows it. The NW was harder.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I actually found the Northwest harder than the Northeast, but I'm not good with anything astronomical.

Swarovski is actually timely because Maria Sharapova has Swarovski crystals all over her nighttime US Open dress.

But I've been in a situation where a proper noun seemed to be known to everyone but me, so I empathize.

redrube 11:25 AM  

Tricky puzzle
Wacky tobacky was good can't believe more people haven't heard that one
Rex Parker Vexed Barker

Tom 11:27 AM  

DNF 'cause I got bored. BTW, It's his blog. Let him rant. I get tired of the critics ranting against the rant. Go write your own blog. Better yet, just go. I surmise half the reason some of you read this is to complain about the critique. Waa waa waa.

Tom 11:28 AM  

There. Now I feel better.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Boring. Awful fill. No fun. Osmose? Gimme a break.
I hate it when I work the entire puzzle and still can't figure out the theme. Ugh!
NE corner was the easiest for me.

tkincher 11:33 AM  

The SW is where I had the most trouble, along with the ALFRE / LEILA crossing as mentioned above. I don't know how I know SWAROVSKI exactly but it's certainly lodged in my brain somehow.

Malsdemare 11:36 AM  

Before I read the comments, and forget everything I did in this puzzle, I shall report that I liked it. First, it took almost an hour and two cups of coffee to complete and second there was enough variation in difficulty to keep me going. I knew SWAROVSKI, MARIA, cracked up at SNOTNOSED, and hiccuped along to get STHELENS, INSTAGRAMMAR, ULTRACOOL, and the rest of the stuff that I had to paw through my brain to get. Most of the clues worked for me, although the one for OLE was a stretch, especially since I didn't know LEILA. But I'm not going to complain that a character from a book I've not read, and a word with a sport reference made the puzzle hard, 'cause I think that's sort of the point.

I don't know what Rex means by saying CORPORATE ELITE isn't a thing; of course it is. It's a pretty good description of my partner and some of his friends, and I can imagine saying it just fine. I agree about WEED and the clue being odd, but I didn't notice the SURER/OKSURE dupe. My one hangup was PALAU. My geography stinks and I had PApAU there and never saw the error.

And now to read comments, the second best part of doing the NYT xword.

RooMonster 11:38 AM  

Hey All !
I rather enjoyed the themers. It's just two animals "stuck" together, hence the Title, "United" Kingdom, and the revealer, Animal "Magnetism". It has nothing to do with them having sex, ya pervs. Perfectly fine Title/Theme/Revealer. So there. :-)

Agree with those who said NE wasn't all that tougher than rest of puz. Anyone notice ivy leagers fits in YALE ALUMNIs spot? Sure,I know leaguers has a U, so what? :-) My major hold up spot was ARGOT/GAOL/OWNIT/INAPET area. Really wanted jAiL for GAOL, but that resulting iWN string was impossible.

Had exTRACOOL for ULTRA, cause it sounds better. eMMANUEL KANT. SAUcEPANS/BAcON, cause who doesn't like getting handed some BAcON, racing or not? Couple writeovers, robin-ARIES, oToe-UTES, iotaS-ATOMS, and the ole brain blanking on the RRN. Had it as VII, then chuckled and said, " Wait, that's seven!", then had DMI, (then thought DMV? Why clue it with a RRN?), finally got it right as DCI.

So overall a good SunPuz. So says me.

A little Random Nonsense for yas:
Christmas present to your little dog? TO PUP
Coolness activated? RAD ON
Mountain showing statement? TOR ME
Little Rock potato topping? AR CHIVE
Circular bee home? ARC HIVE
Really take charge? SO DOM


Suzy 11:47 AM  


JC66 11:48 AM  

Agree with @Two Ponies...I want my money back.


re: Animal Magnetism

Definition of animal magnetism
: a mysterious force claimed by Mesmer to enable him to hypnotize patients
: a magnetic charm or appeal; especially : sex appeal



a person or thing that wrecks.
a person, car, or train employed in removing wreckage, debris, etc., as from railroad tracks.
Also called tow car, tow truck. a vehicle equipped with a mechanical apparatus for hoisting and pulling, used to tow wrecked, disabled, or stalled automobiles.

Bill from FL 12:02 PM  

Rex has SEGOS, but shouldn't it be SAGOS? If so, INSTAGRAMMAR would would have to be incorrect, wouldn't it?

Exubesq 12:07 PM  

Me too. Just wasn't 100% sure on the spelling but that corner fell fast for me. Much dreck elsewhere, though.

jberg 12:09 PM  

It was kind of a slog, because I took the title to mean that the shaded squares in consecutive themers were to be united in order to make a new phrase. Since that wasn't working at all, I had absolutely no confidence in my theme answers. And, yeah, OSMOSE and ALFRE/LEILA. There's no Leila in the Don Juan I know -- Anna, Elvira, yes. Is there a contemporary TV show or band or something named Don Juan? So it took figuring out OLE to get it.I think I'd vaguely hear of ALFRE, and anyway no other letter seemed to be pronounceable there.

SWAROVSKI makes all sort of glass products, including pretty good binoculars -- so I knew of them primarily from adds in "Birding" magazine; I was actually surprised when I noticed that they made glass animals too.

But the best clue, and the hardest to work out, involved figuring out what political figure had a name starting with STH...

Left wing politicians rail against the CORPORATE ELITE all the time, so I'd expected @Rex to like it. Go figure.

@Isaac Mayo, the acronym is "No Income No Jobs no Assets." You have to cheat by leaving out the last 'no,' but lots of acronyms do that.

@Nancy, it must be a regionalism. Back in Wisconsin we called tow trucks WRECKERs all the time -- I guess because you didn't usually get towed unless your car was wrecked. Same way an oil tanker is called an 'oiler,' not because it oils but because it carries oil. Go figure, again.

Joseph Michael 12:10 PM  

I don't really think of an ANT as an ANIMAL, but I did enjoy the fact that the pairings included a gay couple (STAG and RAM). I wonder if they buy their jewelry at SWAROVSKI's?

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Swarovski is a global monster. They have 32,000 employees. 2800 stores in 170 countries with a revenue of 2.6 billion euros in 2016 according to Wikipedia. The fact that Rex doesn't know it doesn't make him stupid. He's obviously a smart guy and a lot of people never heard of it. The fact that he objects to it being in the puzzle makes him a self absorbed twit who doesn't understand or care that other people have different knowledge and experiences from him. It's nice to learn new things. The NE corner was easy for me thought I struggled in other parts.

Questinia 12:19 PM  

I did this puzzle dripping in Swarovski. It's Sunday after all.

Lewis 12:46 PM  

@ms. q -- So nice to see you again here!

Aketi 12:48 PM  

@Joseph Michael, even though an is an arachnid and not a chordate, even with the latest expansion to seven kingdoms of life, ants still are classified in the kingdom of Animalia. Insects are animals too.

Missy 12:49 PM  

Not Woodward - Woodard

boomer54 12:55 PM  

RE: 84 D0WN... Clemson NCAA football champs last season ...has a pawprint logo ...

Darby 1:10 PM  

I got Swarovski right away. Crystal jewelry is quite beautiful. Also I have heard the term "corporate elite"...

Alan_S. 1:10 PM  

I have never seen Rex use this many *expletives* before. I would have spelled them out for this one. Utter trash! 👺

Missy 1:15 PM  

Not Woodward - Woodard

Jim Hendler 1:18 PM  

Also, anyone counted all the proper noun/name clues (many in crosses)- I count at least 18, over 20 if you include anything that would be considered a proper noun even if not clued as such (amatol, shah, etc).

Alan_S. 1:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Animals coupling! Rodeo!
(M&A's gonna have to see that there ELK-ANT tryst to believe it, tho.)

The thing about SWAROVSKI:
1. If U had heard tell of it, then U get a nice "ahar!" moment, when U get enough letters to suss it out. The NE puz corner was thereby deemed ULTRACOOL. [yo, @Questinia darlin: Primo drippin.]
2. If U ain't ever heard of it, then U fight and fight to get every letter of it filled in, and yer final reaction is somethin like a frown with a "Wonder if that's right" snort. Then the NE puz corner gets ripped out and flung across the room. [yo, @RP]

Best moment of desperation: SYNTH. Also enjoyed SURER+OKSURE -- constructioneer was clearly feelin trapped like a dog, at that point.

M&A also had trouble understandin the DUB clue. It was ORRnERY. I'm buyin into the explanations that favor the DUB definition of:
"dub 1 |dəb|
verb ( dubs, dubbing , dubbed )
1 [ with obj. and complement ] give an unofficial name or nickname to (someone or something): the media dubbed anorexia 'the slimming disease.' "

Sooo… then, when U give someone a nickname, you {Start to call} them that. QEDub.

Thanx, Mr. ZhoU. That ELK must really like hangin out around the ANT hills, huh? ["Anty raid!"] har

Masked & Anonymo13Us


Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Swarovski => gimme. I make jewelry, so Swarovski crystals. I have Swarovski wine glasses. There's a Swarovski store in most major airports. The Swarovski heiress just got married in a gown covered with S________ crystals. C'mon.

NINJA loans => also gimme. As a previous poster pointed out, unless you slept through the financial crisis, this was everywhere.

Theme was weird, though.

Nancy 1:44 PM  

Out of 113 comments so far, 45 of them mention SWAROVSKI. So I figured the least I could do would be go online and see what the jewelry looks like. I took a peek. Some of it looked reasonably delicate and wearable. Some of it looked clunky and ugly as sin. But what impressed me were the prices. Affordable jewelry! What will they think of next?

Actually, that would make a pretty good slogan, don't you think? And they don't seem to have a slogan. So using all of my copywriting chops, I'm trying to come up with some more:

Realistic enough to get you mugged on the subway!
For every woman who's ever been dissed at Tiffany's.
For that first, important invitation to Trump Tower.

Do I have a job, SWAROVSKI?

Unknown 1:46 PM  

This corner was the easiest for me too! Because of Swarovski! The southwest corner kept me confused though

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Swarovsky crystal jewelry & goo-gahs are sold in malls all over the US. The crystals are also sewn onto dresses. Not only are they in department stores, they now have their own stores in malls

So people who walk in malls, subscribe to fashion magazines, or watch "Say Yes to the Dress", come across the word "Swarovsky " all the time.

Not every clue can be about sports, guys. As a female, non-sports-fan puzzler, I've had to learn about the Alou brothers, Mel Ott, Ichiro Suzuki etc. Just today I was expected to remember that Shaq played for the Heat and spells his last name O'Neal instead of O'Neil, and that the golfer is Sam Snead, not Sam Sneed.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Masked and Anonymous 2:28 PM  

@RP: BTW ...
"Yeah, screw this entire corner and the horse it rode in on."
Actually, for that NE corner, to be 100% accurate, U shoulda written:
"Yeah, screw this entire corner and the circled TROUT it rode in on."

Still, I'd give yer write-up a B, for its creativity, passion and humor. (Coulda been a contender, if it'd had bullets.)

"Drippin in Sworeoffskis"

couplin runt:

Amy and Erin 2:30 PM  

NE was easiest corner for us as well because Swarovski is EVERYWHERE. How can you not at least have it in the back of your head?

dumbnose 2:44 PM  

Yep. Complete gimme. That corner was the first area I completed.

Chris K. 3:19 PM  

As a navigation student we never used the word "orrery" for our solar system model. Now I know it was named for the Earl of Orrery, early 1700s - just so we all know. It might be handy for learning about eclipses, it certainly eclipsed my brain. Interesting puzzle. Thanks.

Caffeine 3:38 PM  

Swarovski was a gimme for me and I think for many others. Got stuck in the NW corner. Couldn't get to DUB. Actually googled DUA to see if that was possibly a thing. DUA means invocation, derived from an Arabic word meaning to CALL OUT or SUMMON. I thought, "Now we have to know Arabic?"

SteveCFL 3:42 PM  

Isaac....NINJA = no income, no job, no assets.

Joe Bleaux 3:52 PM  

Overall, ditto @Blue Stater, then rewind and replay @Rex critique of NE. A slog almost from the get-go, when the adult answer to "Really happening" -- NOT A DRILL -- turned out to be hippy-dippy ULTRA COOL, and mere DISORDER was peddled as "Mayhem!" Phew!

Sam B 4:24 PM  

Dahling, what kind of animal has never heard of Swarovski? Partner and I found it challenging but liked roguishly, Kant, untracool, snotnosed, lots of fun stuff. Looking for animal names helped get the long theme answers. The one that outraged us was "in a pet" which I have never heard, or read, or seen.

GR 4:37 PM  

Since it doesn't seem to have been mentioned, sorry, I'm not buying St. Helens by itself. I thought at first there was some sort of ELKANT anagram going on (TANKLE?) Self-servingly, the jeweler in question was made much easier since they have a store at a nearby casino...
Anyway, +1/ditto/METOO on Kevin Der's puzzle > today's, unfortunately I don't think it's publicly available anymore.

bookmark 4:38 PM  

Binoculars made by Swarovski are the best for birding in Central Park.

Joe Dipinto 5:05 PM  

You had ARCHI in place, with two letters to go, and you found the clue "record collection" for ARCHIVE hard?

Larry Gilstrap 5:09 PM  

@Lewis noticed that I was absent due to a two week road trip through the hinterlands. I hope you all minded your manners during that time. I did do a bit of birding and actually peered through some SWAROVSKI binoculars. People love their optical equipment.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

Tough, but not "fun tough", imho...
e.g. Definition of boarding officer
: a naval officer detailed to board an incoming ship to provide local information (as to the ceremonies or honors expected, uniforms required, or facilities available)
How do we all not know that?

kitshef 5:45 PM  

There were some hard patches, but that NE SURE was bit one of them. NW, yes; WSW, you betcha.

Normal Sunday -- not a lot of fun. Indeed, less fun than usual because of the damn circles.

Also, I initially thought the them would be a bit tighter: all mammals, for example. Or prey animal paired with a predator. Or ... anything.

Dick Swart 5:45 PM  

Too much of a slog! I started at the bottom with just a hint of traction. Got about half-way up, saw animal magnetism and had a couple of animal connections which I didn't see at all.

Finally threw in the towel after an hour of drudgery!

I'm feeling old and out of it.

noparking 5:51 PM  

Well put.

Jim in Chicago 6:01 PM  

Swarovski is in every outlet mall, duty free shop and tourist trap in the world. Slapped right in. The rest of the puzzle? Just ouch.

jae 6:23 PM  

We live a long block away from the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego and we frequently have a lite dinner there at Nordstrom's Cafe (great soup). Apparently SWAROVSKI has a store there. Like I said, it was a WOE for me putting me in @M&A's #2. "thing about SWAROVSKI" category. My bride not only knew it but could spell it....perhaps I need to pay more attention to my immediate surroundings...

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

Surprised Rex (and no one else apparently) translated "Wacky Tobacky" to Loco WEED.

Isaac Mayo 6:54 PM  

Thanks Steve CFL for help on NINJA

Craig Percy 6:56 PM  

Agreed. Not sure why OFL is so unaware of this crystal maker.

Craig Percy 7:00 PM  

Think of he olde knights: I dub thee...

Craig Percy 7:02 PM  

Wow. A lot of talk today. This one kept me interested and seemed altogether fine. Nuff said.

Questinia 7:17 PM  

@Lewis & M&A..... I'm here whenever you think you might see a Sworeoffski. I don't write- just listen and glisten a lil.

More Whit 7:34 PM  

Enjoyed the acrostic far more than the crossword today. Agreed.

Aphid Larue 8:00 PM  

I once saw a play in which they described animal magnetism as mesmerism or hypnosis. Turns out hypnotism was first developed by mr. Mesmer. Not really related to this puzzle, but I found it interesting. The reviewer of the play did not think that the lead actor had very much animal magnetism. That was sort of mean.

Adam Frank 8:20 PM  

I really didn't like this puzzle. The first themer I solved was ERNE TROUT, and figured it was predator/prey. Then I got ELK and ANT, and thought, "huh"? Then BOAR and DNIGO. The title is misleading; some of the animals are from different kingdoms, some are the same. Whatever. But to OFL and others, you will NEVER forget Swarovski again after you see the brilliant SNL parody ad.

@Rex, I also saw SURER and OK SURE and thought it was poor editing. Ah, well.

Cassieopia 8:41 PM  

United Kingdom was the theme, so when I saw "Penn State symbol" I entered Nittany Lion with the "lion" as rebus. United Kingdom, get it? Lion united in one square? But I guess that would be United Animal Kingdom. I like my theme better than the one there was :)

NW killed me completely so DNF.

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

My primary bins are Swarovski 10x42 ELs. They were the alpha binocular when I bought them in 2000. My wife just bought a pair of Zeiss. They're even better.
Rex is one parochial little bitch.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

50 or so years ago, when I was a kid, there were lots of snotnosed brats running around. It was a common expression for especially bratty kids.

Anonymous 9:46 PM  

The Wine Spectator is a great publication?!?!? Marvin Shanken, the publisher, has been known to be one of the biggest schlemiels in the wine business forever. The magazine's reputation (deserved, IMHO) has long been that of, if you want your wine to be highly rated, take out some advertising.

If you want your restaurant rated in the best restaurant category, pay the enrollment fee and so on. In a listing of the most respected publications for assessing wine, Wine Spectator is at the bottom.


Sherm Reinhardt 11:28 PM  

Echoing a bunch of different commenters, the NE was among the first things I got-- just hung with it and kept plugging and it wasn't that big of a deal even though I've never seen Hamilton and didn't know where the Fox Islands are. SWAROVSKI is a pretty well-known brand so that revealed itself after a while.

NW was the terror. Sometimes I don't know how I get puzzles and this was one of those "Use the Force" times where things like ULTRACOOL occurred to me out of nowhere from--T-A-CO-L when I was still thinking of an answer to "Really happening" such as "IN ACTUALITY."

I still don't know what ILO is and DUB was a sheer guess. I was sure ORBERY had to be correct but knew the B didn't make sense for the Coast Guard law enforcer.

Off to look up the Wikipedia entry for ORRERY and BOARDING OFFICER.

James Schalkwyk 12:59 AM  

fun fact: all of the chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York were made of and by Swarovski crystal

Cary Williams 3:16 AM  

Same. And pretty bold of Rex to call it gibberish just because of his own ignorance.

Anonymous 4:44 AM  

Penn State is a motor oil.

Smitty 6:16 AM  

@three of clubs @Charles Rosensweig and everyone who clarified the ONEAL clue
Thank you!

Hungry Mother 6:27 AM  

Fun theme and typical difficulty. I handicapped myself by starting the puzzle at 4am, on a early wakeup for a trail race. I worked on it many hours later, brainfried from the muddy slog. I left a hole in the mideast until this morning , when I realized that PARQUETS should end with an S instead of a D and have a T in it.

Bob Mills 9:38 AM  

"TOPUP" for "bring to a full amount?" Awful. Really awful. And it crosses "ITA" which is supposedly short for a happy quaff? What's really pathetic is that a legitimate structure of the bottom would be possible with "NAH" for 111-D, "IRA" for 112-D, "MOM" for 113-D and "LEASE" for 102D, changing "TOPUP" to "TOROS" (Spanish bulls) and changing "SHAMS" to "SHAME."

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

With all of the difficult, obscure answers in this puzzle, Rex decides to pick on SWAROVSKI? Really? That's what tripped him up? Sometimes I think he must live in an alternate universe. I would expect pretty much everyone to know that name, even if the spelling might not come easily.

Alan_S. 10:46 AM  

Here here!

Parker Sharp 10:55 AM  

IPA dumbass

Alan_S. 11:07 AM  

Give the gal a break; she believes NCIS is good television and doesn't care for the f-word.

Alyce 4:30 PM  

Totally agree with all of you! Swarovski's been around for over 100 years and was a total gimme. Love your comment, Cary!

Alyce 6:01 PM  

I completely agree.

Elancaster 8:39 PM  

Agree- ninja is not an acronym.

Carol J. 10:41 PM  

I've been doing the NYT crossword for more years than many of you have been on this earth. They were usually clever and witty. It was tough to get used to a new editor when Will Weng left (a long time ago) but I plodded on. Well, I think I finally may be hanging it up. The cleverness and wit are gone and most of the hints and answers remind me of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I'm sorry for those who missed the enjoyment of the long ago puzzles but maybe you're lucky with having nothing for comparison.

Gary Steichele 11:31 PM  

Funny thing...and I'm wondering if anyone fell into this trap as well. 54Across clue , "Company known for combining expertise". I already had the second, third, and fifth letters...which were all 'E'. So I thought the answer was 'REESE', which also fits that clue. Never thought of 'DEERE'

Gary Steichele 11:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
dvejr 12:03 AM  

If you live in Boston, there are no "Naticks"

dvejr 12:08 AM  

The word Noh describes many plays.

dvejr 12:09 AM  

YES! Me too.

dvejr 12:10 AM  

I also had Nauru for a while....

la-boutiquepro 6:41 AM  

Watch Free live streaming of US Open Tennis 2017 championship
Watch Free live streaming of US Open Tennis 2017 championship

bohbehchow 2:47 AM  

Agree about Swarovski...easiest clue in the grid. And INTERNET ROUTER is hard? C'mon man.

Bj Lawrence 3:33 AM  

Seems like when I struggle with a puzzle, I see what RexThinks, and inevitably, it's "easy" or "medium easy". Glad to see it was challenging for the king too. But there are always the smug parade of everyone saying how easy they found it. Good for you, special place in heaven for you all and the creators of these puzzles.

Rina rosiana 5:18 PM  

obat aborsi

obat aborsi 5:19 PM  

thanks kakak

ChrisB 8:16 PM  

LOL. I had that until I saw the solution. Even tried to Google it. Glad I'm not the only one! I feel a bit less stupid.

Fred 8:17 PM  

As I started this, I was challenged and thought Andrew Zhou had really come up with something refreshingly new, with fiendish "?" clues, e.g. record collection, company known for combining expertise. But as the silly "theme" answers became clear, together with the complete disconnect between the starred clues and the shaded squares, my only goal was to just finish the damn thing. All that said, it is so much easier for the "solvers" to criticize than for the "creators" to create....

ChrisB 8:20 PM  

Thank you for the explanation of ONEAL.

ChrisB 8:32 PM  


ChrisB 8:34 PM  


Elizabeth Holcomb 12:29 AM  

I don't understand the OLE answer. Will someone explain?

Pak wendi 9:06 AM  

Awalnya aku hanya mencoba main togel akibat adanya hutang yang sangat banyak dan akhirnya aku buka internet mencari aki yang bisa membantu orang akhirnya di situ lah aku bisa meliat nmor nya AKI NAWE terus aku berpikir aku harus hubungi AKI NAWE meskipun itu dilarang agama ,apa boleh buat nasip sudah jadi bubur,dan akhirnya aku menemukan seorang aki.ternyata alhamdulillah AKI NAWE bisa membantu saya juga dan aku dapat mengubah hidup yang jauh lebih baik berkat bantuan AKI NAWE dgn waktu yang singkat aku sudah membuktikan namanya keajaiban satu hari bisa merubah hidup ,kita yang penting kita tdk boleh putus hasa dan harus berusaha insya allah kita pasti meliat hasil nya sendiri. siapa tau anda berminat silakan hubungi AKI NAWE Di Nmr 085--->"218--->"379--->''259 atau klik dibawah PESUGIHAN TAMPA TUMBAL

rondo 11:09 AM  

SWAROVSKI and the rest of the NE gimmes. NW harder IMHO with ORRERY ILO DUB. Lotsa 3s including ARI ARA ERA and another OLE without Sven. INAPET? C'mon now. +/- 45 minutes that coulda been better spent.

TOPUP? Only a state of a convertible's roof. You might TOPoff the gas tank.

Highlight is yeah baby GEENA Davis.

@spacey has gotta rate this puz OVERPAR.

Burma Shave 11:43 AM  


All the INSTAGRAMMERs at the SCENE blew a fuse


spacecraft 12:04 PM  

DNF. When I was unable to resolve the north central, I quit. I do not know the Don Juan girl, do not shop for outdoor gear, and... call WITH (emphasis mine) a charge???? OLE?? Who's gonna figure THAT one out? Not me.

I did sneak down to the revealer line, trying to detERMINE the theme trick, where I threw the flag at TOPUP. No one ever, in history, said that. It's top off. That's what we say, 100%. Top off. TOPUP is a request from a passenger in a convertible who doesn't want her hair messed up, or who thinks it's about to start raining.

The explosive crossing of AMATOL/STHELENS was apropos. Several MARQUEE entries: SWAROVSKI and PARQUETS in that NE that gave OFL so much trouble, are two. To me the NE was a piece of cake.

I've seen KANT in puzzles, but never the whole name. I have a little Nashian couplet about philosophers:

Kierkegaard is hard--
But Nietzsche is peachy!

Well, since one of the innumerable spellings of LEILA brought me to my knees, might as well reach up and put the DOD sash on her. No score for a DNF.

Anthony 12:32 PM  

This was the seventh or eighth Sunday puzzle in a row that I have solved without ever figuring out the theme. I'm starting to wonder if my brain is wired incorrectly?

Unknown 1:08 PM  

Rex typically sneers at questions/answers that are outside of his personal knowledge, which speaks poorly for his intellectual honesty.

His opinion on a particular puzzle seems to be based entirely on how the clues and answers fit into his own knowledge. I think this marks him as egotistical and small-minded. One example is his comment on the answer "AMATOL". He can be forgiven for thinking this might be a chemical name, but to use an appeal to authority ("I asked a few PhD chemists...") to justify his derision is an example of a common logical fallacy. I'm no chemist, but I've read enough about WWII (history and fiction) to have come across it many times.

In his "real" life Rex is actually Dr. Michael D. Sharp, a lecturer in the English department at Binghampton University in New York. Dr. Sharp received his PhD in 1999, and published a few papers and monographs in the following decade. According to the university website, he hasn't published much since about 2008, which by academic standards is a fairly anemic record. If he marks his students' papers with the same lack of intellectual rigor that he shows in this blog, I feel very sorry for them.

rain forest 1:14 PM  

Here's a mind-blower for ya. I figured 8D would end in 'ly', so the Presidents were YALE ALUMNI, and SWAROVSKI slid in there. First two entries. Tada. NE section was a breeze.

Picked up the theme with GOODWILL AMBASSADORS (checking with the previous three), corrected the spelling of eMMANUEL, and the entire South went quickly.
Not a slog for me today, but I agree if you didn't know SWAROVSKI, that corner could be tough. I'da thought that AMATOL was well known. The NW was indeed the hardest section, but once I remembered ORRERY, done.

Quite a bit of crunch in places, and very easy in others. I liked several of the clues. @rondo, @Spacey - maybe it's regional, but TOP UP is frequently said by hosts or servers offering to TOP UP your wine/coffee, etc.
Liked it.

Diana,LIW 3:58 PM  

I, too, have only heard "top off" - my waitressing background from college serves me well. But I'm glad to learn a new regional "top up" - unlike some solvers I don't get INAPET when an answer is new to me. That's one reason I do these d*** things - learning something new is my bag.

Had a four-square dnf - the typical places. So I learned AMATOL, LEILA, and ALFRE. Also learned NOBU, but got that from crosses.

The in-laws used to collect little crystal figurines, so guess which word was EZ for me? But I agree it's all over the place. FIL used to orate at length about the fine quality of S crystal vs. other brands.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and 187 comments

AnonymousPVX 5:24 PM  

Not often I agree with Rex, but this was an abomination. For the first time in a long while, I just got fed up and put it down. Went back and put it down again.

Horribly clued, ridiculous answers and an idiotic theme to boot.

I wouldn't put this mess on the bottom of a bird cage.

The Ridger, FCD 5:49 PM  

No Income, No Job or Assets. Totally an acronym.

SharonAK 6:46 PM  

@Biddle 3:15 Agree re Corporate elite. Definitely a term in use. See some commenters later agreed.

@ Anon 8:41 Agree

Found the long themes easier once I knew I was looking for two animals in the middle area.
Thought of boarding officers as those who check up on rising boats and cruise ships to see if they are obeying laws. Can't remember exactly what. But it's the sort of thing occasionally in the news here in Alaska.
Found 14A spare, 54A Deere, and 44A straw clues amusing once I figured out the answers. And some others as well. Agree with some earlier comments that the part of 47 down that says "part" doesn't make sense

Thanks to whomever explained "dub" as starting to call someone a certain name is good synonym for dubbing them that name.

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Ryan Hauck 9:26 PM  

I didn't mind Swarovski, but ULTRACOOL made me want to throw my pencil across the room. Same with "IN A PET".

ShortShrift 3:27 PM  

Ditto that.

Leah 1:16 AM  

Found this puzzle easy. Missed one letter in 12 down the l in ole.Didnt think of charge as in a bull!

Phillip Blackerby 9:36 PM  

Yes, NW was most difficult for me. Had exTRACOOL at first, which made ILO impossible. What the heck does DUB have to do with 1D "Start to call"?

Anonymous 4:25 PM  

John has a long moo!stash That's what I see!it's all so fungible

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