Fancy French shellfish dish / SUN 9-17-17 / Speed skater Karin who won eight Olympic medals / Pigment in red blood cells / Music genre for Weezer Shins Old outdoor dance sights / 1428 horror film address / Celestial object that emits radio waves

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Constructor: Mark MacLachlan

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Super Looper" — themers have a mini loop in them (signified by circles), so answer goes up one back one down one and then resumes its Across path:

Theme answers:
  • LOBSTER THERMIDOR (23A:S Fancy French shellfish dish)
  • BEVERAGE ROOM (oh come on, that is not a thing) (25A: Beer parlor)
  • UNDER ONE ROOF (49A: All together, as a family)
  • BLACKBOARD ERASER (51A: Classroom item)
  • CONCERT SERIES (69A: Central Park's SummerStage, e.g.)
  • COMPUTER OPERATOR (86A: Tech overseer)
  • SPOILER ALERT (91A: Reason to stop reading)
  • ROLE REVERSAL (116A: Premise of the film "Freaky Friday")
  • BATTERY TERMINALS (118A: Some positives and negatives)
Word of the Day: Karin ENKE (38D: Speed skater Karin who won eight Olympic medals) —
Karin Enke-Richter (nΓ©e Enke, formerly Busch and Kania, born 20 June 1961) is a former speed skater, one of the most dominant of the 1980s. She is a three-time Olympic gold medallist, winning the 500 metres in 1980, the 1000 metres in 1984 and the 1500 metres in 1984. She won a total of eight Olympic medals. (wikipedia)
• • •

Has the NYT just given up on the Sunday puzzle? You'd think they'd put a Lot more effort into recruiting great Sunday work, instead of this parade of tedium we've been getting. Either it's some cornball wacky theme (add a letter? change a sound?) with groaner dad humor from 1984, or it's some thin concept (like today) where nothing happens that is at all interesting. The loops do nothing but loop. Why do they loop? Who knows? Who cares? What do the looped letters spell out? Gibberish? What's the revealer? There is none. What does the title even mean? Uh ... it's a pun on this?

I honestly don't know. I just know that this puzzle was very easy and utterly without interest, in either the themers or the fill. Here's what I remember: I don't know how to spell "Thermidor." THERMADOR seemed so much more plausible. That error was the main contributing factor to the difficulty I had in that one small, northern section of the puzzle—along with the yucky / impossible-to-parse UT-AUSTIN (32A: Rex Tillerson's alma mater, for short) (Shortz's love affair with this White House continues apace ...).  EM DASH and FAIR USE (both fine answers) were not the easiest things in the world to uncover and so that little area east of STRUT and west of TORTILLA was memorable for its thorniness. The rest of the puzzle was barely there. Provided all the resistance of a light mist—a mist polluted by such small particles as LLANOS ESA HEME ARIE ETH OOM SIE ELMST OSO OLES EEN and ENKE (?). Who says ON A SLOPE? ON A SLANT, maybe. SLOPE? Nope. My favorite part of the puzzle was actually an error I made: faced with the clue 86D: ___ wolf (three letters, starting "C"), I went with ... COY! It's a thing!

Look how coy that wolf is. It looks all innocent, but ... it knows.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Mark 12:11 AM  

I really enjoyed the puzzle, and I don't say that about a lot of Sunday's. The theme made it difficult until you figured it out, and the hard areas turned out to all have fair answers.

Robin 12:38 AM  

Easiest Sunday ever. Faster than the really easy ones that popped up last winter. Finished in personal record time despite spending 45-50 seconds tracking down one bad letter. Thought it was PsIONS rather than PRIONS.

The theme was fine. FAIR_USE was one of the first two answers I filled in, and LOBSTER_THERMIDOR came so fast that the gimmick was revealed almost immediately.

I have no idea who REX_TILLERSON is, nor do I care to know.

COMPUTER_OPERATOR sounds like a term out of the 1970s.

Lilu 12:41 AM  

It's called super loopER. All the loops begin on ER.

Trombone Tom 12:45 AM  

Lots of ER's; is that part of the theme? I give the constructor kudos for building the loops. It adds an interesting element to the puzzle.

I liked this better than OFL did; what else is new?

Tried ALT-raP before ALT-POP. I'm thinking the whole "ALT" thing is overdone.

Are all NANOTUBEs conductors? Are there other kinds than carbon? Inquiring minds want to know.

Liked seeing SPOILER ALERT. Never heard of a BEVERAGE ROOM.

Graham 12:48 AM  

Don't know why the video for Super Trouper, but it's an interesting bit of triva that a Super Trouper is a model name for a follow spot (the kind that moves around to follow performers). This action was once called "trouping" -- following action -- and you would have trouping instruments (lights) and fixed instruments to light a show.

Big Salad 12:53 AM  

Thought was very easy even though CHALKBOARD instead of BLACKBOARD singlehandedly almost doubled my time otherwise.

Trombone Tom 12:53 AM  

@Robin, the current Secretary of State.

Ron Painter 12:54 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle - the aha moment was nice, and the theme gave an extra challenge to the ones that I hadn't completed yet. Hand up here too for chAlKBOARD instead of BLACKBOARD!

David Schinnerer 1:31 AM  

God, you're a dick, Michael Sharpe.

jae 1:53 AM  

Easy and @Trombone Tom, liked it more than @Rex did.

Speaking of Trombones we just started watching Treme after it came up in a recent puzzle any several of you had good things to say about it. Thanks, it is excellent and the music is wonderful!

Loren Muse Smith 2:53 AM  

I was pleased when I saw the trick and liked the way the phrases loop around on themselves. I wrote them all out and underlined the ERs. So each phrase as an ER, two letters, and then another ER. I see Rex’s point about the na und? Still, the two inside letters are backwards and sit atop the phrase, so I liked the trick. Must’ve been tough to construct. I agree that it was easy, especially since I went in and filled in all the ERs after I saw the deal. Maybe if the repeater pair had been different letters each time, it would have been tougher? ONE STOP SHOPPING, TWENTY FOUR HOURS, POTATO SACK RACE (ahem)…

I had “goal” for my setting a world record. Hah. What would your world record goal be?

“All cruelty springs from weakness.” Never heard that quote, but it’s so true. The thing is, this is obviously lost on the cruel guys. Bet they think they’re all that and a bag of chips.

And speaking of anonymice, PESTS has “vermin” for the clue. I like it when the plural is not obvious.

I misread the clue for ALT POP as a group called Weezer and the Shins. Made a mental note to look into that group. I just googled ALT POP and lost patience to really understand it, but the term seems like an oxymoron. Music is POP ‘cause it’s popular, right? Vapid? That’s why I like any Boston Pops stuff, I think. It’s not challenging; perfect for me. ALTernative means I won’t understand it and it’ll make me feel dumb and unhip.

Loved the clue for SPADES.

FAIR USE. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use. (emphasis mine)

Does this mean I can copy a book online to have a class read it? The only books we have classroom sets for (The Mayor of Casterbridge, Bleak House, Ethan Frome, blah blah..) would be tough to sell to kids who aren’t strong readers and are loath to read anything anyway. We do have To Kill a Mockingbird, but all the books are falling apart and missing pages. I’d love to do books more accessible and identifiable (The Glass Castle -abject poverty, West Virginia, parental negligence or The Education of Little Tree -grandparent guardian, mountain living, racism – both relatable here on so many levels)– but we have no money to buy a whole set. So… Forrest Carter or Jeannette Walls – if you’re reading this, could you send me permission to copy your book? Thanks. Talk to you soon. Mwah.

Johnny 3:04 AM  

I liked this puzzle. It was a good challenge and took some work.

If you Google "Rex" the top two hits are Rex Parker and Rex Tillerson, so you two are soul brothers, Rex.

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

Mike Sharp's hatred of, well everything, continues apace. What a lovely human being.

Theodore Stamos 6:10 AM  

How is BRACE the answer for "pair"?

Trudy Morgan-Cole 6:16 AM  

"Brace" like a brace of rabbits, or I guess other things people kill in pairs? Around here I've only heard it used for rabbits.

Weezer, and the SULU that is not George Takei or John Cho, was my downfall. I'd never heard of The Shins and wasn't sure what genre you'd call Weezee, so convinced myself there was a thing called ARTPOP that looked perfectly fine crossing SURU. DNF for me.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

I enjoyed trying to figure out the theme answers with little filled in. The title was clever, taking advantage of the ERs that started each loop. I loved the clue for POST IT ("Brand of note") -- I was looking for a musician whose last name was Brand. ARA/ARIE was a Natick for me (guessed right).

I wondered how Mark came up with the theme answers. How do you come up with words and phrases with an ER, then two other letters, then another ER. I used the "info finder" page on Jeff Chen's site, where if you punch in, say ???ER??ER???, it will come up with three of the theme answers, plus "interspersed", among others. Other possible theme answers I then found were "under the radar", "where were we?", "Northern Territory", and "Over the rainbow".

Dang, I guess I'm a crossnerd.

Anonymous 6:43 AM  

Yeah, I'm not an expert like Mikey, so I was impressed that the puzzle could be built with all those loops! I thought Mikey might like it!

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

You should append your post, oh pompous one, to admit that you hated on the title because you did not see/understand the theme. ER's are LOOPING.

Abu Afakski 7:34 AM  

Us too, we enjoyed it. Another "Too Crabby Rex" day.

Abu Afakski 7:35 AM  

Yes! Didn't notice that!

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

I thought it was a lot of fun and cleverly constructed. Kudos to the constructor. Fortunately, the crosswordese made it easier though I had forgotten "brace" and India Arie. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

The Sharp household must be a mirthful one.

mmorgan 8:24 AM  

Ah, I didn't realize that the loops all begin with ER until I read these comments. Thanks!

Vincent Lima 8:24 AM  

I now see that the bottom of each loop is ER, and that knowledge adds nothing to my enjoyment of the puzzle. It was just a big, so-so puzzle with an occasional, uninteresting looping answer. Beverage room? Blackboard eraser?

Two Ponies 8:35 AM  

Wow, so many crabby solvers today.
I thought the construction was amazing enough
to forgive a few rough spots.
I had fun, so there Rex!

Regina Flannery 8:37 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith As a former teacher, it burns me to hear about the lack of books and supplies. I had good luck with with in getting projects funded through direct donation or in kind donation.

BarbieBarbie 9:03 AM  

@LMS, I'm not an expert, but I think it means YOU can make one copy to use as a reference in your teaching. Which is not the same thing as making thirty copies to distribute. Also not the same thing as making one copy for someone else to read. I'm just basing this on the interpretation of Fair Use for academic articles. I'm sorry about the resource issues. People vote down school taxes because they don't understand the concept of paying for a public good. Bad education creates more people like that. It can't get better until something about that cycle changes.

@DavidS, the problem with your comments is that I always picture them being delivered by Ross from Friends, and some of them seem startlingly uncharacteristic. Maybe you could post a photo?

I liked this puzzle. Gimmicky and fun. A bit too easy, but it must have been a bear to construct, and the number of themers is really impressive (and, added to the fun; even a grokker-come-lately like me had something left to do after the Aha Moment). Thanks.

JamieP 9:07 AM  

Most frustrating DNF in a long time. Theme came to me quickly, and I completed in near-record time. My iPad refused to give me the congratulations jingle, Ever since I can remember, I've had a condition that makes misspelled words jump off the page at me and make me physically uncomfortable--probably why I became an English teacher. I stared at this one for five minutes (goodbye record) and finally had to ask for assistance. I had ELAGANCE going across. And do you know why? Because that idiot Lavar Ball and his sons have been dominating the sports pages. Sheesh. My apologies to the great Levar Burton.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

I've done about half of this, I'm completely bored, and I'm stopping.

QuasiMojo 9:09 AM  

Rex is right. Weak theme. Dullness for days. A bit tortured. The afore-mentioned BEVERAGE ROOM? And BLACKBOARD ERASER. Is that worth putting into a puzzle? Thanks for the hilarious ABBA video. "Feeling like a number one..."?? Ah, the joy of idioms.

Aketi 9:11 AM  

@LMS, my niece who is a teacher in Southern California uses the that Regina suggested and it seemed to work well for her. My first thought was oh I maybe I can ship some of the books on the seven bookshelves I'm trying to downsize to three, but I only have single copies of books.

The ER loop made me think of yesterday's post fight club breakfast conversation. One of the guys just finished med school and wants to work in the ER, the other had to tend to his elderly father who he took out of a nursing home situation. Apparently, when the elderly are admitted to the ER for a fall ,they are often released before they are ready, put into physical therapy for too little time to fully recuperate, and end up failing again so back to the ER in a downward spiral of decline cycling in and out of the ER.

Mohair Sam 9:23 AM  

If @Rex had noticed that each roll-over had happened on an ER he would have noted that there probably should have been no other ER's in the puzzle, that would have been perfect. But if you want perfection go stare at an egg, we liked the puzz a lot in this house. Looping and repeating yourself after saying "ER" was a clever idea. And once we found the trick the puzzle played fairly easy.

Poor Will Shortz. He doesn't use names from the current administration nearly as often as he did during the Bush or Obama years. Yet every time he does seems Rex points it out and accuses him of something akin to a "love affair with this White House". Speaking of which, when I was young we used UT for Tennessee - and we had no idea where Tillerson went to school, so UTAUSTIN had to fill.

ALTPOP sounds strange, what happened to alt-rock? Great clue for TEETHE. Learned PRIONS. Embarrassed that FAIRUSE was not a gimme.

Anybody else notice that some of these things almost worked without the loop? Why couldn't there be a COMPUTERATOR? LOBSTER MIDOR is something I'd order in a heartbeat. And they should start offering mini CONCERIES in Central Park.

Fun Sunday Mark MacLachlan, thanks.

Teedmn 9:26 AM  

Wow, this was quite a FEAT of construction. I would have preferred more clever word play but it was a solid puzzle. Is BEVERAGE ROOM a real thing?

My little spot of looping (I was using@r.alphbunker's randomization program so when it got down to the last few entries, it just kept looping me around) was the PRIONS/ENKE/TEETHE area. I had LEVAn and anIONS and for some reason at 34D, aR_BE was not giving me an answer, no matter how much digging I did. I finally looked again at 34A and got the answer. The N in ENKE/LLANOS was a "that looks better than anything else" guess.

Nice sophomore effort, Mark MacLachlan!

Kodak Jenkins 9:28 AM  

Easy Sunday but I enjoyed the loops and thought they were clever though I did wonder if they shouldn't be part of a grander theme.

BRACE is often used in soccer/football commentar so I assume it is more common in the UK.

Doesn't everyone have a BEVERAGE ROOM? It's usually between the wine cellar and the library but not too far from the media room.

ON A SLOPE is a real thing, especially outdoors in relation to topography. Your car might be parked on a slope so you'd want to use your parking brake.

Who is Michael Sharpe and why is he so reviled?

Randy 9:29 AM  

I naticked at LLANOS and ENKE as the crossing N looked like it could be almost any consonant.

@LMS: I teach copyright roughly every other year. I think most copyright people would agree that you cannot make copies of full books in the way that you describe. Even the single copy would be questionable. The Supreme Court found the fair use and copying question tricky in the Sony Betamax case and that was a situation where the copier had free access to the original (broadcast TV). What you can do of course is freely copy books in the public domain, so anything published before 1923 should be fine.

John McKnight 9:29 AM  

I did not get the ER part but finished quickly. ROLEREVERSAL near the end was redeeming and cute (in a good way). ETTA and ELLA are both here! Nice puzzle for an easy Sunday.

clk 9:31 AM  

Never heard of ARA or of India.ARIE so had to run the alphabet there. Ugh.

kitshef 9:33 AM  

Fantastic! Got the theme with BEVERAGEROOM and looked forward to each new reveal. Early on I had the SE/AR from SCORCESE and MAR and the AR from ARTOO and though “oh, jeez, it’s going to be one of those awful puzzles where the same four letters appear in all the circle groups”. So that made the joy of the actual theme even sharper.

Couple of hesitant crosses: the oft-mentioned ARIE/ARA and LLANOS/ENKE, both navigated successfully. Nothing else gave much resistance (a comedown after yesterday’s struggle), but I’ll sacrifice LoD for a great theme like this.

tb 9:42 AM  

@Nancy... I'm with you. I did about 3/4 of it and it was too tedious and boring. I'm just about ready to stop solving the Sunday puzzles. They are usually just a slog.

Kurisu 9:47 AM  

I thought it was fun. Rex seems unsatisfied with any puzzle that's not super-challenging for him, but if they were all that way, most of us wouldn't even attempt them.

"Beverage room" was the only one that really bothered me. Yes, it's not a thing, but it'd probably be OK if the clue were, say, "wine-tasting quarters".

Tita A 10:00 AM  

BEVERAGEROOM not a thing. BLACKBOARDERASER definitely is. Or a least was.
In 8th grade, my catholic grammar school hired its first ever male lay teacher. He was the hottest teach in school (by definition). That is, until he started to show what a badass he was. In a move worthy of a star pitcher's best pick-off throw, he would pivot away from the blackboard, and throw whatever was in his hand at whoever was the current troublemaker.
Usually it was a boy, and usually it was chalk. Ouch.
Rarely, he would throw an eraser at a girl. One of those times it was me.
I think Mr. Filocco made a boy eat chalk once.

More of a cool construction feat then a fun solve, but didn't hate it like Rex.
@Mohair pretty much summed it up for me. What he said.

BarbieBarbie 10:07 AM  

@Kodak, Michael Sharpe is the arc-nom-de-plume of Rex Parker.

ColoradoCog 10:10 AM  

This played much harder than "Easy" for me. Not quite challenging, but on the hard side of medium. I'm suprised to see the consensus is it was a snap. I ended with a time about 120% of my Sunday average.

I do think this was one of those puzzles where the construction is to be admired more than enjoyed. I do admire it.

GHarris 10:14 AM  

Tough until I got the trick, then fun to finish. Still, had to Google Levar which enabled me to come up with beverage room, a designation I've never heard of before.

GeezerJackYale48 10:15 AM  

Interesting comments by yourself and @Nancy. I thought the puzzle was clever and seemed interesting, but I got bored as I went along. But as I reflect, it seems to me that Sunday puzzles are really different animals than Friday and Saturday - which so often really challenge me to try and finish. On Sunday often, once you get the theme, it's over. So it's me, not the puzzle creator, that makes it kind of a slog towards the finish line.

Tim Aurthur 10:21 AM  

A lobster dish invented by Escoffier. A room that can't exist without sawdust on the floor. Do classrooms even have BLACKBOARDs these days? A job title from the 1960s.

This puzzle made me feel extremely old.

RooMonster 10:21 AM  

Hey All !
This was a pretty cool theme! So there! Wasn't as sloggy as some of y'all said. I thought it was rather neat.

I know it was tough to construct. I didn't notice each themers loop started with ER, so that actually turned it up a notch! Rex cracks me up pointing out the dreck. I've said it several times, every puz has dreck, Sundays for sure, but the small amount today is overshadowed by the nice theme. Rex is a SPOILERT! :-)

I got puz 100% correct today. YAY ME! Not even many writeovers. Did have hydrate for DILUTES early. Also ONASLant. And the THERMaDOR. SEAWARS is my only cringe word.

So a good SunPuz. IF I DO say so myself.


Bruce Levy 10:31 AM  

This one took me two sittings, in part because I got bored. Not a lot if delight here. Kind if workaday. Agree with Rex that the Sunday puzzles have gotten kind of stale.

ArtO 10:31 AM  

Bitch, bitch, bitch. What else is new.

i thought it was clever if not overly scintillating. Found thorniness where Rex did but otherwise OK.

@Robin must have been kidding about Rex Tillerson. If you can do the NYT puzzles, you can't not know him.

Cleared2Land 10:37 AM  

@LMS : The callback to potato sack race (ahem) made me laugh. Very nice.

@JamieP : I had the same mistake at "elagance" and Lavar Burton. Fortunately for me staring at it worked and it was my last entry into the puzzle. You are spot on in reference to Lavar Ball. So sick of hearing about his childish antics. I feel kind of sorry for his son, imagine growing up with that looney tune as a father.

Stuart Showalter 10:38 AM  

Michael Sharp (aka Rex) is not just a dick; he's a total ass. The only reason I come back to this block is to see how vile he can be.

Chance 10:41 AM  

I agree that this was easy, but I thought it was great fun. I got my fastest time yet on a Sunday (click on my name to see my own puzzle blog, if you'd like to see another, sunnier but less elegantly executed, take).

I actually wondered briefly if ELEGANCE was INTELLIGENCE with some mini loop at the front, but no.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I rarely bother to read Rex's posts anymore. Everything's a derivative of, "No one has made a good crossword puzzle since 1986, and today's crossword was a yawner created by an ape, which I solved iusing only the primordial functions of my brain stem." I'm confused as to why he bothers, since he rarely finds enjoyment or challenge.

I do enjoy the comments, though, and click straight on to them.

Michael Marks 10:56 AM  

Don't understand how one clue means the puzzle editor has a "love affair" with the White House. Really prefer no poltics when I'm reading your blog on a diversion of mine.

JJ_Rural_MO 11:00 AM  

I liked the puzzle, a little on the easy side maybe, but a good ego booster after yesterday's wiped the floor with me. Like many, didn't notice the ER-loop-ER pattern until I got here. A good effort and an enjoyable solve.

Steve M 11:05 AM  


Anonypuss 11:05 AM  

@Michael Marks, well said!

GeezerJackYale48 11:07 AM  

Sons: two boys, not just one. Twice the crapola.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. Quite surprised by the negative reaction.

Alan_S. 11:33 AM  

Sure, it was a little easy but boy was it an improvement over the last whole bunch of Sundays. The looping thing was fun and sussing it early is part of what made it easy but that doesn't make it "nothing". I had the same difficulty as Rex did at the utaustin/emdash (wtf) cross but Rex needs to take a chill pill; this was a Halloween Hayride next to last week. Cheer up Rex; life's not that bad.

Joseph Michael 11:34 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot. Figured out the theme at BLACKBOARD ERASER and then had a good time untangling the other loops.

I'm impressed that each loop is triggered by an ER and liked most of the selections, especially SPOILER ALERT and ROLE REVERSAL.

Autobiography of a dog - I, FIDO

RATS to Rex for his tiresome tirade and congrats to Mark for his first NYT Sunday puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 11:36 AM  

@Regina and @Aketi – thanks for the suggestion. I think I’ve managed to create a “project” there for a set of both books. Keeping my fingers crossed...

@Cleared2Land – thanks for noticing. I’m always ridiculously thrilled when someone catches something like that.

@Chance – I just went to your site and test-posted my comment there. Nice write-up! Maybe your site is the answer to the people who're tiring of the negativity here.

tkincher 11:40 AM  

@Michael Marks Maybe it's because UT Austin has a ton of other famous alumni that could be slotted there instead who aren't a part of the current administration. Walter Cronkite, Jayne Mansfield, Matthew McCoughnahey, Wes Anderson (who could have been cross-referenced in the puzzle), the list goes on. I prefer no current politics in the puzzle itself, but there it is.

I liked the theme, overall thought this was a fine and fun Sunday, but did find the whole area around UT AUSTIN a bit clunky.

Adam Frank 11:43 AM  

LLANOS crossing ENKE? Really? I can dredge up the names of one, maybe two, speed skaters; she's not one of them. Really easy - I blasted through this in no time. Nothing exciting - I didn't catch the ER trick until it was pointed out by @Lilu - thanks. Meh for me; I kind of agree with Rex on this one.

Bill Palmer 11:45 AM  

Easy stupid puzzle. The themer is a total non-starter. Feh.

Alan_S. 11:47 AM  

Nice catch! I didn't notice that either. Neither did Rex I'm guessing. He needs to calm down and enjoy life more.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

While i found this puzzle relatively easy (I figured out the theme early, which helped), I still got stuck in at least one spot; I couldn't figure out what a "spoilerT" was until I went back to the "alert." All in all, I thought it a fun theme, well-executed, and in spite of a few odd words, clues, I enjoyed this one. There were a couple of days this week where I was yelling at my computer in frustration, not so today. There were some rather archaic terms (a "brace" for pair, e.g.) but I got that one quickly! Great puzzle to start (end?) the week.

Blue Stater 11:51 AM  

I agree with Rex's assessment of this mess. I would expand on it to urge, for probably the 20th time, that we have at least one day's respite from the trickery, whether or not it's well executed (here it isn't, but I really don't care). Sunday is a good place to start. Out with it. Back to puzzles that test what you know.

Betty Danger 11:55 AM  

Enjoyed this cleverly-themed puzzle.
Laughed out loud at the absurd comment about Will Shortz's "love affair" with the White House.

Alan_S. 11:55 AM  

Almost anything David Simon does is brilliant.
If you haven't done "The Wire" it's a must.

Kevin 11:58 AM  

I had no idea Rex Tillerson was Sec of State until I read rex's review. I know him as former CEO of Exxon Mobile...and I couldn't believe that Will Shortz would use him as a clue, what with XOM's massive contribution to climate change. Shame on Will!

Also, it's funny how rex can be so concerned about stuff like "wheelchair bound" offending people when he's such a complete horse's ass with his reviews.

Alan_S. 12:02 PM  

What about Rex Reed and Rex Harrison. Might as well throw them in the Rex mix.
Wait, isn't that a snack food?

Stanley Hudson 12:05 PM  

Pretty fun for a Sunday. Thanks Mark MacLachlan.

TSG 12:11 PM  

I went Coy Wolf as well.

More Whit 12:13 PM  

Agree 100%. I wrote a piece in the NYT a while back regarding how teacher exams, another brainchild from those who have never taught, are being graded by wedding planners and such. No other profession is demeaned in that fashion. Sure, anyone can teach, but anyone can do surgery, too. The trick is not to kill the patient.

Pam Fletcher 12:14 PM  

Rex are your puzzles published anywhere?

Alan_S. 12:14 PM  

Ok, that's the third time I'm reading about this asshole (apparently) Michael Sharpe. Who the hell is Michael Sharpe?

Knitwit 12:15 PM  

Spelling THERMADOR caused a DNF for me. Gotta brush up on my spelling. Otherwise I thought this was kinda fun. I didn't catch on until about halfway through and did not pick up on the ER until checking in here!

howard a. brenner 12:18 PM  

Spot on

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Imagine hosting a dinner party with Michael S, evil doug, and Nancy as your guests.

howard a. brenner 12:23 PM  

Spot on

More Whit 12:24 PM  

For clarity, teachers were/are being rated based on how their students do on exams that are graded by wedding planners and others. Google "An Insult to Teachers" and NYT - was published in June 2015.

Alan_S. 12:29 PM  

Oh, didn't know that, thanks!

jberg 12:32 PM  

I thought it was easy, but I missed the ER thing, so technically it was DNF. The looping thing was fine, but it did force some strange answers: not only BEVERAGE ROOM, but BLACKBOARD ERASER, (@Tita, I take your point that they exist, but even in your story you call it just "eraser.") BATTERY TERMINAL is only slightly better. Some of the alternatives @Lewis found would have been preferable.

The best part was SPADES. I could remember old Gertrude, and even that send ended with ERLE rather than ERLy; but I wanted EbRLE, and just wasn't sure of anything. It took about two minutes for me to think of SPADES in the right way.

Worst part was the clue for ATE. Too cute by way more than half.

Also, I got RHESUS and saw that 1A could be SEA WARS, but didn't really want it to be true. I mean, there are a number of naval engagements in a singular SEA WAR, aren't there? but the letters filled themselves in from crosses, one by one, as my dread rose.

OOM as a partial was pretty bad; as for AMO crossing AMMO, I'm not sure if it's a nice touch or a groaner.

Unlike the coywolf, the CRYWOLF just lies around complaining about everything, like some of these anonymice.

@Loren, I give up on the na und thing.

Alan_S. 12:37 PM  

I had a cousin who was just like Rex. Nothing was ever good enough. Always pining for the "good ole days". They never came back. They never will. He ended up killing himself!

old timer 12:52 PM  

I often hate slogging through a Sunday puzzle but not today. I remained interested and indeed almost in awe from start to finish. As for OFL, there's no accounting for taste, is there? I was surprised and in a way delighted to learn that that other Rex went to UTAUSTIN. Yeah, there was a little too much overused short stuff, but this was made up for by the good stuff. I liked ONASLOPE and figure OFL was triggered by bad memories of a long-ago Trig class, where SLOPEs abound.

@LMS, if your kids don't like The Mayor of Casterbridge I fear they may never like any of Hardy's novels. It is by far the easiest introduction to Hardy, because the reader is immediately hooked by the tale of a man who drunkenly auctioned off his wife. At least I was hooked!

Nancy 12:55 PM  

@Anon 12:18 -- While it's not exactly the Rexworld dinner I would ideally envision, I do thank you for thinking to include me. I must, however, regretfully decline -- I have a headache planned for that evening.

evil doug 12:59 PM  

Free food? I'm in!

Ry 1:03 PM  

I pine for the ability to un-know this entire administration. Kudos to you!

howardk 1:27 PM  

as a 86 year old who fears dementia my week is all the better now that I finished this well-constructed puzzle in reasonable time.thanks.m.m.

Alan_S. 1:44 PM  

I'm with you, but who can not know that name?
He's been in the news more than any previous SOS (pun intended) with the possible exception of Henry Kissinger.

GILL I. 2:05 PM  

Oh, I enjoyed this one. Got it immediately at LOBSTER favorite way to eat it. The sea gulls enjoy it as well.
@Rex...Good gravy! How quickly you've forgotten HOLDER PANETTA NAPOLITANO BILLARY MICHELE SASHA OBAMA'S BO....???? There were probably a million more or so. Rex Tillerson is FAIR game. He's in the news everywhere.
BEVERAGE ROOM is where the ladies go drink their tea (or scotch) when you have guests over. Doesn't everybody have one?
The only thing I didn't like about the puzzle was the over abundance of names I never heard of. Too many of the ENKE, LEVAR, STEPH, IAN, CESARE ALLEN that I didn't know and that made me mad for some reason. Otherwise, I wasn't bored at all. All the theme answers made me smile unlike last Sundays which I'm still fuming about.
I'd have dinner with @Nancy @Evil and @Rex in a flash. I bet we'd just laugh the night away....
Thank you Mark MacLachlan (are you a Scotsman?)...I enjoyed this one

Laura 2:10 PM  

@Ry πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ right? I wish.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Beverage Room is a thing. I think it's a British-ism. Back when I was first of drinking age (in Canada), pubs were sometimes referred to as beverage rooms. They also had a Men's side and a Ladies and Gents side, and the windows were half-frosted so as not to corrupt passersby with the sight of people drinking. This was the 1960's!

phil phil 2:28 PM  

Too bad the theme didn't fit the protocol,
Maybe loopERs fERvor

Mohair Sam 2:32 PM  

21A - I checked my OED - Audrey Hepburn is the definition of ELEGANCE, the clue was unnecessarily long.

Masked and Anonymous 2:44 PM  

I tended to bog down in this rascal quite a bit. Theme was ok by m&e, but the puztitle kinda spoiled the ahar moment, as I deduced the mcguffin just from "Super Looper" and the hi-lighted gray areas..

The small SunPuz-size print is always an extra solvequest adventure. I constantly misread which clue goes with which grid entry. Solution: go read some other entry's clue, then come back to the original clue. Presto! … clue has changed to somethin that fits better.

staff weeject pick: OOM. Impressive double-pah clue. Usually it's just {___-pah}.

NW startup area ate precious nanoseconds, due to M&A going with {___monkey} = GREASE at 6-D. Oddly, the LOBSTERTHERMaDOR themer helped straighten that out, while at the same time maskin the 8-D FAa???? answer, makin me doubt AMMO. PRIONS/LEVAR was kinda tough, especially with the **Near Abuttal** of HEME.

ENMESH/ELMST/IAN/STEPH was a nasty lil package of desperation to unwrap, later on. SENECA/CESARE also inflicted minor nanosecond-tube damage. SULU/ORTH/ASTRAL/ALTPOP zone also got somewhat tense.

Lotsa sneaky clues, thru-out. [Lookin at U, {It's got you covered} brothers.]

Good SunPuz solvin-strategy: hand off to PuzEatinSpouse, before the theme and troublespots get overly old. Did it. Thought my half was reasonably fun. She tended to snarl some, on her half of the workload, tho.

Thanx for the workout, Mr. MacLachlan. Congratz on buildin such a beast.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

dessert menu:

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Who wants to bet that eight years ago there were more clues that referenced the Obama administration than there have that have referenced the Trump administration so far ? Will doesn't have a problem but Rex (Parker) certainly does. I don't like Trump either but he's President and he his family and cabinet are crossword worthy.

Joe Dipinto 3:01 PM  

@LMS 2:53 -- I, uh, copied this from a section on Fair Use on a site called Education World. The answer to your question would be "no".


"Over the years, librarians, educators, and publishers have developed voluntary guidelines to address fair use," Willard told Education World. "Although these guidelines are not statutory, they are contained in the legislative history of the Copyright Act."

Those guidelines allow educators, under most circumstances, to copy:

a single chapter from a book

an excerpt from a work that combines language and illustrations, such as a children's book, not exceeding two pages or 10 percent of the work, whichever is less

a poem of 250 words or less or up to 250 words of a longer poem

an article, short story, or essay of 2,500 words or less, or excerpts of up to 1,000 words or 10 percent of a longer work, whichever is less;
a single chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

The guidelines do not allow users to:

make multiple copies of different works as a substitute for the purchase of books or periodicals

copy the same works for more than one semester, class, or course

copy the same work more than nine times in a single semester

use copyrighted work for commercial purposes

use copyrighted work without attributing the author.

Having worked in music publishing, I know that what can be claimed as "fair use" of copyrighted material is fairly limited. I'm sure you can find more information online about educational parameters.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Dinner party exchange:

"So what do you do?"

"I teach comic books in college and write a blog where I rip the NYT crossword editor."

"Excuse me, I'm going to freshen this drink."

Malsdemare 3:19 PM  

Yesterday chewed me up and spit me out; today I finished in decent time. So I'm fine. Cringed a bit at BLACKBOARD; it's a chalkboard now, and BEVERAGE ROOM was an ouch. I have agree that we probably see three Obamas for every current admin person so the TILLERSON rant was a little over the top.

I'd go to that dinner but Nancy had to go ass well; no migraines, dear. Suck it up. We'll drink wine and ignore OFL.

Donating to @lms' class is a snap. If we all kicked in, she'd have her books next week. Just sayin'.

Malsdemare 3:25 PM  

Oh lord, why can't I proofread BEFORE I click post? Mea culpa. Nobody's going "ass well"; well, at least I wouldn't.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

I notice on his web page, which is the jumping off point to leave a comment here, that Michael Sharp spells his name with no "e" on the end.

Why is everyone here spelling it "Sharpe"?

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

In the final paragraph of "Goodbye, My Brother", the first story in The Stories of John Cheever, the narrator says of his brother Chaddy, "Oh, what can you do with a man like that ? What can you do ? How can you dissuade his eye in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless ?..." Rex reminds me of Chaddy.

puzzlehoarder 3:29 PM  

I do much better with Friday and Saturday puzzles than I do with Sundays. Partly it's due to not having done them for years. It was just too much to have two Sunday papers in the house and a Monday to Saturday subscription was cheaper. Now with online subscription I doing them regularly and find them too theme heavy and those themes often facilitated by convoluted tedious fill. I thought more of this one than one of our six cats did. I did about a third of it late last night while half asleep and left it on the table to finish today. I woke to find it covered in cat vomit. At least when I reprinted it and saw the gray squares again I caught on to the theme. Our printer renders them invisible and once I started solving last night I immediately forgot about them. That made that first third that much harder. I finished today with a clean grid but without gray squares it was still a slog. There were quite a few things in this puzzle that were news to me. I can't say I didn't learn something today.

wgh 3:30 PM  

I liked this one. Smile, Rex!

Alan_S. 3:35 PM  

No they are not! You never see Hitler, and rarely other historically vile figures, rerferenced in crosswords. There's no place for Trump in crosswords or government or anywhere for that matter.

Stuart Showalter 3:52 PM  

Rex NEVER smiles! 😑

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

@Alan S. 3;35 I see you have the TDS too. LOL Seek help.

sixtyni yogini 4:05 PM  

This thread is turning out to be about Mr. Sharp(e). I like his crankiness and it's fun guessing his response to Sunday crosswords. (Knew he would rate this one easy,) Though I don't always agree with him, I always enjoy his radical critiques. (I liked this puzzle and truth be told I often get bored w/them also). 🀸🏽‍♀️😎πŸ’₯😎🀸🏽‍♀️

Hungry Mother 4:11 PM  

On the easy side, but a fun theme. I successfully didn't take the puzzle too seriously, just enjoyed the diversion and learned a few things. Also glad that I staved off dementia for another day. Or did I? How would I know? By myself repeating myself?

Kevin 4:15 PM  

I bet Obama is responsible for killing more people than Trump is.

Tom 4:33 PM  

Indeed, perhaps because I'm not in the cutting edge if crossword-ese, i found the puzzle delightful, especially when I discovered the trick.

Maybe the NYT is trying to cater to types who take joy in these "crusty" themes. I like to think that Rex only wasted 15 minutes of his life, but I gained an hour of entertainment so perhaps it a net positive.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

@anon 4:30 ...It's not funny you shouldn't lol. Dana Milbank in today's Washington Post: "President Trump is killing me. No, really he is killing me...I went for my annual physical last month, and, for the first time in my 49 years, I've had to report that I've not been feeling well: fatigue, headaches, poor sleep and even some occasional chest pain. My doctor checked my blood pressure, which had always been normal before : alarmingly. high!''

Teedmn 4:59 PM  

As @Malsdemare said, donating to @LMS's book funding request is easy. Crossword solvers, unite!

jae 5:14 PM  

@M&A - nice to know someone else has the "misread which clue goes with which grid entry" problem. One of the draw backs of solving on paper is the tiny print which facilitates dyslexic number reading.

newspaperguy 5:15 PM  

Oh, grow up. You aren't even remotely interesting when you spew this nonsense. Just leave the blog out and let your far more interesting commenters have the space.

LonMan 5:26 PM  

Agree. Rex, lighten up, bro

1E4yearoldman 5:50 PM  

I'll join the chorus that this was an enjoyable puzzle and Rex needs to get a grip.

kitshef 5:50 PM  

Interesting comment by @Stuart Showalter. To me, being a dick is far, far worse than being an ass. An ass is a nuisance, an irritant, sometimes a fool, sometimes a know-it-all, but does not do any intentional harm. A dick is a sadist, a bully, and knows exactly what he's doing. I can think of someone as an ass affectionately. If think of them as a dick, I think they are scum.

semioticus (shelbyl) 6:00 PM  

This was the best Sunday puzzle I've solved in a long while. Granted, that has become a really low bar to clear, but hey, simple theme, clean-ish fill, no obscure stuff... I'll take that. Let's get the basics right on Sundays and then we can ask for more.

This was a step in the right direction.

Nancy 6:15 PM  

@GILL and @Malsdemare -- How can I possibly turn down the dinner now? I can't. Not possibly.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

I suspect Tillerson is not using a private server in someone's basement for State Department activity.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

I spit my on the ground at BEVERAGE ROOM.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Correction: I spit on the ground at BEVERAGE ROOM.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I remember when Sunday's puzzles made me bleed from the ears. Now, I can always finish them in pen.

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

That's right, anon6:39, you tell 'em. Tillerson is also not using a time machine to go back and get a Colin Powell to advise him to keep State Dep email on his personal server. Most importantly, he is not running a child prostitution ring out of a pizza restaurant, and he would never dream of spying on us through our kitchen appliances. Thank God for Tillerson.

hankster65 7:51 PM  

I totally enjoyed this puzzle. Loved the "loopiness." More like this please.

GILL I. 7:55 PM  

@Nancy...@Malsdemare...6ish? Drinks first? Maybe a Manhattan? I know @Rex likes a good cocktail. @Evil, I think, likes a good ALE...
Maybe some patatas bravas to sink our TEETHE in before we eat our LOBSTER MIDOR. We can listen to THE PIPS or some ELLA or even ALT POP.
We can talk about the MID EAST or even UT AUSTIN or the pros and cons of SENECA. What a blast! Nothing but ELEGANCE and there won't be a SATYR in sight.

Anonymous 8:16 PM  

Not so easy. Took me a while to figure out, but I thought it was clever.
I missed COY and ARIE.

Dawn 8:28 PM  

The first Sunday puzzle I've enjoyed in ages.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

I feel sorry for Michael Sharp. He pretends he doesn't read the comments on his blog then tweets all about the comments on his blog.

Newport Carl 8:35 PM  

I liked it

Anonymous 8:39 PM  


Your dick vs ass distinction is superb. Thanks.
Don't want to put you on the spot, so I'll say it. Rex is a dick.

JC66 9:21 PM  

Based on @Rex's reaction to today's UT AUSTIN clue, I can't wait for his comments on tomorrow's puzzle.

I wanna go to the party and to contribute to LMS's cause. How can I do each?

Robin 9:34 PM  

@ArtO, I stopped reading the paper. I get all my Washington news from the crossword.

felix fortinbras 9:41 PM  

I wouldn't say I loved it, but I did like it enough. And the fill was better-than-average for a contemporary Sunday.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

What does OFL refer to?

Mohair Sam 9:55 PM  

@Anon 9:51 - Our Fearless Leader

Malsdemare 10:41 PM  

@JC66. Go to donors and search for Mrs. Smith of WV. Then pony up.

Anonymous 10:47 PM  

@JC66. Typo from mal.. it's

JC66 10:52 PM  

Thanks, guys. @Teedmn emailed the link and I was able to make a contribution.

Now, when's the party. 😎

GILL I. 11:10 PM  

@JC66...Tomorrow at 6:00...@Nancy's place. Bring wine.

JC66 11:37 PM  


Red, white or rose? Or Scotch?

Doc John 2:22 AM  

This and this

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Nancy 8:19 AM  

This party's becoming more appealing by the hour.

Honeysmom 2:51 PM  

Knew Rex/Michael would pan this but enjoyed it a lot once I got the reveal at lobster thermidor. It was clever and fun. Reading Rex's annoying critiques raises my blood pressure!

Joel Blashka 2:41 AM  

So it was clever and tedious. I did like BLACKBOARDERASER. Reminded me of being the blackboard monitor in fifth grade at PS 182 in Brooklyn, circa 1959. A fully loaded eraser was better than a hall pass. It got me outside twice a day to the schoolyard, no questions asked, where I could take out my frustrations by beating the chalk out of the eraser against the building wall.

Tarheeled 4:09 PM  

An island (or ile) is a dot when it is on a map! See your other blog.

Matilda Morgan 7:11 AM  

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Joe in Canada 9:26 AM  

Perhaps BEVERAGE ROOM is not a thing in the US, but it is definitely a thing north of the border (or east if you're in Maine).

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Burma Shave 4:35 PM  


The SATYR said, “IGETIT, and STEPONE: IFIDO no one’s hurt,


lodsf 3:09 PM  

I liked the puzzle; thought it was clever. Would like to add a comment about the blog: To all those who spew such vitriol (today starting with DS at 1:31) at Rex/ Michael please just stop reading. I mean, really, don't you guys have something better to do than doing something you seem to hate so much (i. e. reading Rex Parker's blog). Honest disagreement is one thing but some of the comments are totally uncalled for - no one is forcing you to read the blog so stop. Go away you pesty vermin!

Rbh in Lincoln 9:32 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one.

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

@Robin: don't know or care to know who Rex Tillerson is?? Oh, he's nobody--just our nation's secretary of state. Fourth in line for the Big Chair, BTW. Though I agree, trying to parse UTAUSTIN was a bear, especially starting with UTA: I'm thinking, UTAH what? State doesn't fit... That was one of the few sticking points. The whole north central area put up the most resistance. Biggest "duh!" moment: good ol' apple-shooting William TELL.

Just by chance my EYES were drawn to Gertrude, so EDERLE became my starting point. Got the trick right away with ROLEREVERSAL, so I hit the ground running. Only themer that gave me trouble was BEVERAGEROOM; nobody says that.

I am surprised that OFL missed it: all the loops contain ER on the bottom line. Every one. Thus: "SupER LoopER!" Today's DOD is in the clue for ELEGANCE, which Audrey Hepburn exemplified as well as anyone ever did. Fill was predictably laced with some groaners, but not too ghastly. Besides I'm in a great mood after that ultra-thrilling comeback by Penn State yesterday: a game for the ages. So have a birdie, Mark.

Diana,LIW 4:19 PM  

I thought the trick was kinda cute and clever. Had to look up some PPP, but mostly a puzzle I could get with perseverance. BATTERMINAL didn't make sense, and then BATTERYTERMINAL did. Aha - off to the races. YAYME.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

AnonymousPVX 5:32 PM  

Well, I am not a lover of theme/gimmick puzzles and I was more than prepared to trash this one. Except....I really admire the construction here. As I figured it out and followed the loops I was quite...impresssed, really, as I can only wonder how difficult this puzzle must have been to construct.
Whats next? Pigs flying? Haha
I thought it harder than the “easy” rating given as well.

rain forest 6:23 PM  

Obviously chose correctly to not read @Rex today. Makes me feel warm all over.

I found the puzzle medium overall, but had a guess (correct this time) at the LEVAR/PRIONS cross. My paper had this puzzle, but with a different title and different constructor. Weird. "Super Looper" might have helped, as I took a little time to figure out the theme, which I did at BEVERAGE ROOM.

I didn't find this a slog at all, and liked it a lot.

wcutler 1:15 PM  

This is the second time the title line in my newspaper has said "The Downsizing of Nathaniel Ames by Peter Broda and Erik Agard". The first time, I was so eager to find out how that related to the puzzle, particularly as it was a harder puzzle. And it turned out to have had nothing to do with the puzzle, not correct title or author. So today, I was really excited to finally see what that was about and who Nathaniel Ames is. (I don't have a computer at my bed, where I do these, and don't think of them when I'm at my computer. Nathaniel Ames is an almanac maker? Related to Downsizing? Maybe that puzzle has already run. I'm going to be very wary if I see that title again.) I thought Downsizing had something to do with shortening the length of the answers. So boo, it had nothing to do with anything. I can tell you, it really changed my experience from what you all were doing just filling in loops. I was doing an easy enough puzzle but trying to suss out a very obscure theme.

I thought the blackboard one was some kind of black magic. I knew it was eraser, could not understand how it would fit in the four spaces. It was the last thing I filled in. I never saw the ER thing; I understood the loops but didn't totally figure out what was happening, as some of the ERs were word ends, but not all of them. It seems very straight-forward now, can't understand why I was confused.

I was expecting Rex to like this, but maybe if I'd seen the real title, that would have made it seem more juvenile.

jackieft 10:30 AM  

My copy in my Stuart Florida News had NO CIRCLES.

Blogger 2:23 PM  

Ever wanted to get free Google+ Circles?
Did you know you can get them ON AUTO-PILOT & TOTALLY FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Beverage room definitely a thing in Canada. Many hotels have signs indicating "BEVERAGE ROOM" this way. Too many many people just don't travel enough or don't drink.

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