Italian castle town / SUN 1-14-18 / Comics superhero with filed-off horns / Connecticut city near New Haven / Steinbeck novella set in La Paz / Creator of Planet Money podcast

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: "Supreme Intelligence" — central answer is OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE (67A: Illegal interference ... or what can be found in ths puzzle's 1st, 3rd, 7th, 15th, 19th and 21st rows?). The idea is that on all the lines mentioned in the central answers's clue, you can find the complete name of a Supreme Court justice—a name that gets "obstructed" (interrupted by black squares) twice.

Theme answers:
  • line 1: ANTONI / N SC / ALIA
  • line 3: ABE / FORT / AS
  • line 7: EARL / WAR / REN
  • line 15: ELEN / A KA / GAN
  • line 19: SONIA / SOTO / MAYOR
  • line 21: STEP / HEN / BREYER
Word of the Day: Mike D'ANTONI (1A: Mike who was the 2017 N.B.A. Coach of the Year) —
Michael Andrew D'Antoni (born May 8, 1951) is an American-Italian professional basketball coach who was formerly a professional basketball player. He is currently the head coach of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). While head coach of the NBA's Phoenix Suns, he won NBA Coach of the Year honors for the 2004–05 NBA season after the Suns posted 33 more wins than the previous season. He coached the New York Knicks starting in 2008 before resigning in 2012. He was hired by the Lakers after seven games into the 2012–13 season. D'Antoni, who holds American and Italian dual citizenship, is known for favoring a fast-paced, offense-oriented system. On June 1, 2016, D'Antoni was named as the new head coach for the Houston Rockets. (wikipedia)
• • •


THANK YOU to all who contributed to my blog this past week. It's been lovely to hear from so many different people from around the country (the world, even). I have no good way of gauging how many readers I have or where they are, so it's nice to have a week where people check in from all over. You are of course free to contribute at any time during the year—you can always find the PayPal button and snail mail address in the sidebar of this blog. But this is the last time I'll put this info in the body of my write-up until 2019:


Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

As one of my favorite readers wrote me this week, "Here's to a Natick-free 2018!" May the puzzles get better and your solving skills get stronger. Now—onward. Puzzleward!

• • •

This is a show-off puzzle—it's designed entirely to be looked at once it's completed, and in no way designed to be enjoyable while you are actually solving it. Or, rather, it is intermittently enjoyable, in the way that a large themeless puzzle might be, but without any theme answers save that central one ... it's like there's no there there. Or, rather, there is a there there, but while you're actually doing the activity of solving, it's largely if not entirely invisible. It's possible—just possible—that you got so bogged down in that SW corner that you *needed* to discover what the theme was in order to complete this thing, but it seems like most people would just solve the thing without paying much attention to the theme or bothering to stop to figure out what was going on. I almost didn't see that the *first* names of the justices were involved, and, in fact, would *never* have seen it if BREYER hadn't been un-"obstructed." That made me notice STEP / HEN, which then made me realize that all the justices were complete names. That, of course, made the puzzle more impressive, architecturally. Sadly, I could not go back in time and make it relevant to my solving experience in any way. Not yet, anyway! Crossword Time Machine still has kinks.


Weirdly small grid. Well, "weird" in the sense of "rarely seen." It actually makes perfect sense for this theme, since OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE is 20 squares. Thus the grid is 20x21 instead of the standard 21x21. All of my fill complaints / questions involve highly thematic portions of the grid—the most complaint-worthy of which is the SW, where "TO HELEN," OTRANTO, and ANSONIA (!?) team up to make a weird proper noun Bermuda non-triangle. HOP STEP also eluded me—and I've been watching a Ton of NBA Channel (118A: Evasive basketball move). I thought it was "jump step," but maybe when it's tiny it's a HOP STEP. Anyhoo, that corner, yikes. I know the gothic novel "The Castle of OTRANTO," so I was able to navigate the corner OK, but it definitely felt dicey. Oh, and I also know GANYMEDE pretty well from mythology (less well from astronomy). His name appears early on in the Aeneid as one of the many indignities Juno has had to endure (Jupiter lusted for young Ganymede and so raped him, which was kind of Jupiter's thing). Only a couple of other proper nouns seemed likely to cause trouble: IBANEZ (whom I know better as a former baseball player, though that's IBAÑEZ) and ORIENTE (which ... I got entirely from crosses. Never heard of it) (59D: Cuban province where the Castros were born).


Bullets:
  • "Supreme Intelligence" — I don't really understand the title of this puzzle. I get "Supreme" alright, but "Intelligence"? How is that relevant?
  • 53A: "I knew that would happen!" ("CALLED IT!") — I had "NAILED IT!," which feels at least slightly defensible as an answer.
  • 105A: Hooded cloak (CAPUCHIN) — I know the monkey, and the monks (... hey ... I just got that! ... oh, no, wait, they're technically friars ... nevermind), but did not know the hood thing. It looks like the friars wore "sharp, pointed hoods," and yet the garment definition of CAPUCHIN reads: "a hooded cloak for women" (my emph.). No word on what the monkeys prefer to wear. 
  • 107D: What has casts of thousands? (IMDB) — probably the toughest answer for me to get, and it's a "gateway" answer (i.e. one of those answers that gives you access to an entirely new section), so I had to jump into the SE corner and work my way back out.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

142 comments:

jae 12:10 AM  

The best Sun. in quite a while. Medium for me and very clever. Jeff Chen has it as the POW.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

I liked it; most enjoyable Sunday solve in many moons.

puzzlehoarder 12:34 AM  

Timely theme. It didn't go quite where I expected it to. I solved not knowing what the theme was. It was easy to see afterwards. DANTONI was completely unknown to me. It had me thinking there must be a rebus somewhere in it. I kept expecting more signs of them in the test of the puzzle so I could smoke them out and it never happened. There were some entries that came off rather late week in difficulty. They've only appeared a couple of times before however they weren't hard to work around so I'd have to rate this as easy.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 12:47 AM  

Does anyone remember good pot drugs?

Patrick O'Connor 12:53 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle too, and I needed the theme to get the second n of DANTONI, so it felt like a more organic solving experience than Rex's, I suppose. I was pleased by quite a few unusual words throughout.

Dave Hogg 1:21 AM  

If it helps, I've covered the NBA for almost 30 years and was still baffled by HOPSTEP. I know the term, but I think the clue leads more directly to JABSTEP, not HOPSTEP.

Jack 1:28 AM  

Got the central theme answer early on a good guess aided by the title which made filling the rows with the justices relatively easy. But still don't know what IMDB means or its relation to the clue is. Help, please?

ColoradoCog 1:33 AM  

Crossing OTRANTO and ANSONIA is like crossing Natick and Natick.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

IMDB is the Internet Movie Data Base, a web site and app which lists movies and their casts, so it has thousands of casts, or, " casts of thousands", per the clue.

Bruce Levy 2:23 AM  

Thought it was pretty easy. A few sticky spots I had to work through. Got Obsyucyion early on. Finished the puzzle before I got the justices names, so for me too thete was no real pleasure until after I was through. Clever puzzle; a bit on the easy side for me.

JOHN X 2:35 AM  

This was a great Sunday puzzle! I don't know how Rex could miss the theme since there was a central themer across the middle of the grid with a clue that specifically pointed to six other across lines and said that something could be found there. The theme was 1/3 of the across puzzle. Not sure how you miss that.

Well I didn't miss it and had bits and pieces of the upper half filled in when I got to 67A. Then I figured out it was Supreme Court Justices and their first names too! I started doing selected downs in the lower grid and got all the other justices.

ORIENTE and LENTO was a bit of a difficult cross but I figured it out. In fact, everything was gettable through crosses, and I had no trouble with the SW even though I didn't know those words either. The only strange word for me was ASIATIC for elephants; I put in "african" at first because elephants are that or "asian" not ASIATIC. I thought only fleets were ASIATIC, everything else was Asian. I guess not.

Also, for 101D, I thought AHAIR was a little too vague for "the slightest margin." What kind of hair is that? What color? When you're dealing with slight margins these things matter.

Theodore Stamos 3:14 AM  

Agree that the SW corner was ridiculous. I also thought that DANTONI / NEBS was a questionable cross. Never heard of either word. Rex is right that this played like a themeless. A blah solving experience for me.

Calman Snoffelevich 3:43 AM  

Can someone explain where the "Intelligence" is in this puzzle, as given in the title?

Loren Muse Smith 4:45 AM  

Rex – I really appreciated the picture of Mueller today. GAME. ON. @puzzlehoarder – timely theme indeed.

Funny how our solving experiences are so wildly different, Rex. You said, “it's designed entirely to be looked at once it's completed, and in no way designed to be enjoyable while you are actually solving it.” Not for me. Since I’m a theme, theme, theme person, I enjoyed the *entire* solve, every single minute, because I was constantly trying to figure out the theme. That the theme is “largely if not entirely invisible” just ups the game a hundredfold. More fun, not less fun.

But, like @puzzlehoarder, I didn’t see the deal until I was finished, but it took me longer to finally "see" it. I was focused on some kind of phonetic play on JUSTICE – “obstruction of ‘just s’” - so I was squinting at all the S’s on those lines. And then looking for “est” to work in the title. Even with the grid filled, it took a few moments to abandon that idea and finally see the names. Once I saw the names come into focus, I was awash with delicious aha-moment-frisson.

Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto in 1764, 1764, SEVENTEEN SIXTY FOUR, (254 years ago!) and used the singular they. Just sayin’. I had to read it this past summer, and for me, the soap-opera-esque story line was constantly being upstaged by the singular they. I was thrilled.

@pabloinnh from yesterday - I’m totally stealing your Putnam County mince animal lie.

@JOHN X – me, too, for “African” first.

DIET TIP: NO FOOD.

ANA: Hey, @M&A – how ‘bout this clue: “urban area center?”

I can’t be the only one who considered ASS for 98A?

I had no idea POOH said, “People say that nothing is impossible, but I do nothing everyday.” Never even heard that. Textbook paraprosdokian phrase.

I always like it when ATE is clued with something like “got down.” The connotation is so vivid. I was served corn pudding that, miraculously, I was able to get down.

Joel – this is a superb theme, a puzzle I’ll remember for a long time. Bravo!

Mr. B 5:09 AM  

I thought the top half of the puzzle was easier than the bottom half.
It didn't help that I had elsInorE as Hamlet's plot (of land) which blocked my entry into the SW corner.
OTRANTO crossing ANSONIA was tough since I didn't know either and was startled by the congratulatory music upon finishing.

Liked the mini Shakespeare theme of Hamlet, HENRYVI and Twelfth Night although I had to work figuring out VIOLA since I didn't know the Cuban Province.

For me, a bit of a timely coincidence that OAHU crosses (nervous) GULPS due to the state SYSOP here who "pushed a button" and caused a HEADSUP alert on an incoming ballistic missile. Yes, a false alarm - but talk about a wake-up call.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Regarding the clue "Hooded cloak", Bill Murray debuted as Steve Bannon last night on SNL wearing same.

Terrific idea for a puzzle! Also, lotsa' theme yet kept it clean. With the lovely SOTO over TOTO. I consider Joel a master cluer, and on that front today, he was not on the top of his game, IMO, which I'll consider just a blip in his usual excellence. I do like that the top three theme answers are past justices and the bottom three are current.

Speaking of current, THEBOSS and maybe HELLBOY (described in Wikipedia as a "large, red skinned adult" and "half demon") crossing OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE -- yes, I would call that current.

Maybe . . . 6:56 AM  

A better title would have been "The Supremes".

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

I had to go back after I was done to figure out the themers. I at first thought it was current justices. Nevertheless, I am in awe of the constructor being able to create this!!

KRMunson 7:35 AM  

Clever theme. Just wish I could have appreciated it while I was solving. Thank goodness for having OFL to explain it to me after the fact.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Chiming in to agree that this was an impressive construction ... and I vote for @Maybe's suggestion that it be title "The Supremes!" (6:56 am).

Is there a puzzling term for "I had to look something up when I was stuck but I don't care because I'm not timing myself nor competing and it's actually fun because I learn something new?" I knew neither Otranto nor Ansonia and got stuck until I gave in.

Anyway, fun puzzle.....

Ibi 7:42 AM  

Another wrinkle on the distribution of Justice(s) — the top three are Republican appointees, while Democrats appointed the bottom group. Interesting grouping.

Brett 7:47 AM  

Pretty good puzzle.

Honest question: Is it acceptable given the normal conventions to cross THEBOSS and THEPEARL, especially since the cross is at the point of the duplicated THE?

pmdm 7:47 AM  

I figured otr OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE almost immediately when I solved this puzzle. It only took three letters in OBSTRUCTION and I realized the entry. But, like some other solvers, I did not see the obstruction while I was solving. Perhaps if the revealer had been OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICES, which is more correct, I might have gotten the idea. As it was, except for the revealer I solved the puzzle as a themeless.

Perhaps if I had more time to spend staring at the completed grid I would have eventually seen the track. But I had to go to Jeff Chen's site (which posts fairly early in the evening) to learn what the trick was. I wonder what the percentage of solvers never grasped the puzzle until it was finished.

Jeff Chen poses a question on his website. Some but not all of the Justices in the puzzle are on the current Supreme Court. Can anyone come up with similar words that would work with the names of the other Justices currently on the Court. That would allow construction of a puzzle with the names of all nine Justices hidden in the grid.

John Child 8:08 AM  

Fun Sunday puz! I love themeless puzzles, so I didn’t mind at all that the theme answers took time to find. And some tough vocabulary like OTRANTO and ORIENTE was welcome too, since much of the rest of the puzzle was on the easy side. Thumbs up.

ghthree 8:18 AM  

@Calman Snoffelevich: In military jargon, "Intelligence" is simply information about something. So this is presumably info about the Supreme Court.

I remember reading somewhere: "The dictionary defines three categories of intelligence: intelligence (human), intelligence (animal), and intelligence (Military). My father was an excellent example of Intelligence (military)."

In an effort to find the source, I Googled "intelligence military" and got so many pages of quotations that I quickly gave up trying to pin down the specific author. Sounds like Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, or many others.

GarbagePailKids2x 8:18 AM  

This was one where impressive construction merged with Aha moment to make “Aha...wow!” Very fun puzzle. Average difficulty.

I confidently filled in GANYMEDE, remembering the SciFi story “Marooned off Ganymede,” then later went to look it up to confirm my memory that Asimov was the author... to find that it was “Marooned off VESTA!” [total RED face] of course, but then HOW did I get Ganymede?? Is there another SciFi story involving that moon? Very strange.

Me too on Elsinore, but didn’t fill it in because the length was wrong. Still, it threw up a pretty solid mental block for awhile.

IMDB was a gimme.Agree about the OTRANTO/ANSONIA Natick (got lucky there), but not about TOHELEN. I never heard of it either, but it’s labeled an ode. Has to be TO somebody, and HELEN is inferable.

More please!

Unknown 8:23 AM  

Agreed, I had full confidence that I was right with jabstep and it took a while to undo the mistake.

kitshef 8:46 AM  

I’d really like to like this puzzle, as I think the theme is keen. But alas, I found it dull and easy – except ANSONIA – which stinks.

Boat built to save Shiva, Odin and Zeus from the flood? GOD ARK

Seventies self-help fad that did more harm than good? EVIL E.S.T.

Beast with an unknown number of legs? UM-PED

What a drunk guy does when a woman rates him as a six? HEAR TEN

mathgent 8:58 AM  

I've stopped doing the Sunday Puzzle but I checked out the list of clues with their answers on Jeff Chen's blog. A lot of smart cluing. Not surprising in a Joel Fagliano work.

Maybe a ray is a line in casual conversation but not in mathematics. If you identify a point on a line, a ray is the set of points starting at that point and including all the points on the line going out in one direction. It's actually half a line.

Z 9:09 AM  

I’m wondering if you all realize that “impressive construction” is throwing shade?

I got OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE pretty easily, saw ANTONIN SCALIA in row one, and continued solving as a themeless. As a large themeless this was fine, actually more enjoyable to solve than many Sundays, but a total non-starter as a theme. Like Rex said, no help during the solve. Then once you solve I’m supposed to enjoy a Word Search? Hard Pass. As for Chen’s Challenge, good luck with the HNR letter string and THG letter string.

@Chefwen - I hope yesterday’s little excitement was not too stress inducing.

@LMS - 1764 you say?

@John X - Rex pretty clearly didn’t miss the theme.

@Brett - The THE crossing is most assuredly inelegant at best.

GHarris 9:10 AM  

I think Rex missed the sub theme. Supreme Intelligence smacks of a self description by our VSG and 67A is what he is likely to be charged with. Then there are the following answers:
26A saboteur
34A heel
39A go dark
73A numb
115 A stupids
16D evilest
20D stupor
43D Hell Boy
65D tub
90D Goth
There may be some others I’ve missed.

kitshef 9:12 AM  

Oh, and I think the Pooh quote is bogus. Or at least, not from the original Milne works. It could be from some Disney cartoon or something, but I suspect it's a misattribution.

Z 9:15 AM  

How to do the HOP STEP with video.

John McKnight 9:16 AM  

ehhh. if it were up to me, and it should be, everyone involved with this puzzle would spend a good long stretch in prison, and reflect upon what they've done, whom they've hurt etc.

Two Ponies 9:22 AM  

I did the whole puzzle and completely forgot about the theme.
So for me it was a fun themeless. Better than most of the recent Sunday puzzles.

Monarch was not the best example of spotted wings. True that the edges of the wings have spots but I imagine most people remember the elegant stained glass patterns as the most striking part of their appearance.

@ JOHN X 2:35, What kind of hair you ask? It might be a regional thing but the expression I've heard is pussy hair. What color? That all depends on whether the carpet matches the drapes.

Z 9:28 AM  

@kitshef - There are lots of quote sites that list Milne but quote sites are there to display ads, not verify sources. I did find that The Quote Investigator agrees with you and they actually have citations. It seems as if the NYTX fact-checking was less than rigorous.

AfraidOfRegina 9:31 AM  

Agree on the Pooh quote. It doesn’t have his cadence. More likely from one of the dumbed-down Pooh knockoffs than from one of the books.

Genuine question: the expression “throwing shade.” My sense of the full meaning is that it includes some amount of “I’m experienced in this area and I’m judging you.” In other words, damning with faint praise, and qualified to do so. In which case, “impressive construction” would be throwing shade if it came from another constructor, but not if it came from a non-constructor fan. Is this right?

Teedmn 9:32 AM  

Gah, three wrong squares and no clue about the hidden justices - the "puzzle of the week" was the nadir for me. I had OlIENTE crossing lOC and my retired chat service became Aol from the A and I never checked the crosses. I got OTRANTO/ANSONIA by a lucky "what else could it be?" guess.

So no Sunday solve pay off for me until I read Jeff Chen and Rex. Well conceived and constructed (I don't know ABE FORTAS though), thanks Joel.

Crustyshorts 9:48 AM  

If one grouses anytime there is even a neutral reference to someone in the current administration, shouldn't one be gloating for the theme of "obstruction of justice"? Not wishing for it, just asking. As with many things Rex, there seems to be a downside, but no upside.

This puzzle was challenging for me...lots of personal unknowns, but it kept my interest, which is a good combination. Thanks, Joel

Jyqm 9:49 AM  

Shade *can* involve speaking from experience or a position of pedigree, but it’s not a necessary component.

Phil Schifley 9:57 AM  

A bit too easy for me, and I agree that the theme was a complete afterthought that had zero impact on my solving. In fact, I didn't even see it until Rex pointed it out. More flash than substance, and what's the point in hiding things in a puzzle if they have no relevance to the process? It definitely shows the skill and creativity of the creator, but that doesn't mean it's one I'll remember.

Birchbark 9:58 AM  

I'm reading "Intelligence" in the spy-sense of secret embedded messages, i.e., find the hidden justice across multiple words -- neato. Spotted the embedded ANTONIN SCALIA and solved 67A early enough to use the theme on all the other answers. Good to get Scalia first, since that also telegraphed past justices as fair game.

AMOB --> IMDB
at IT --> iN IT --> ON IT (yes, the Southwest was tough)
ATE next to EGESTS, supporting the queazy "Got down" 91A clue (see @LMS)
LENTO in the neighborhood of the HEAT/THERM crossing, which supported the nice 74A "conductor" misdirect

@Mathgent (8:58): Good point -- a ray gets one arrow, a line gets two. "Ray" is a basic enough geometry term (as is "line") that the clue should be more precise.

@Anon (7:41): I like tracking my time, and I like to learn while solving -- often just from inferring an answer I didn't know. Architect I.M. PEI is a great example. But when I'm so stumped that time stops being a factor, I like to research, in this order: (1) physical dictionaries, atlases, books, etc. in my house; (2) Wikipedia or IMDB. The price of looking up an answer is reading about it for a while and learning. I almost never google the answer, especially on archived puzzles where the first answers you get are the specific answer to your crossword puzzle, as opposed to the answer in its "native habitat."

Skol Vikings --

QuasiMojo 9:58 AM  

Stunning theme that I only appreciated once I came here. I was too lazy to go back and investigate the various shaded in areas on my grid. But upon coming here, I was absolutely floored by the ingenuity of it. I agree that it is a bit like smoking a Sobranie cigarette after just okay sex. But considering how little dreck there is (at least in my mind) I tip my diet to Joel. And sending a small tip to you, too, Rex. Better late than never.

My personal issues today had more to do with my lack of drinking experience. I thought Triva games were held in BARs so I did not get PUB until much later (when the chocolate BAR "reared" its head.) Plus I had two NSA's in the grid which held me up big time. And I must admit I put in DJT before BOT. Ugh.

Is it going to be Dreyer's or Breyer's today? Thank God I knew IMDB. But as I mentioned earlier, it still pains me that IMDB was bought by Amazon and turned into an endless pop-up ad nightmare. They took out the forums, too, which were a rich source of shared information. They also removed the ability to scan reviews by how many stars they were given. So now you have to slog through endless raves (which help sell the movies on Amazon's Prime service, of course) to get to the ones written by people with "supreme intelligence."

I have never ever heard of an elephant described as "asiatic" -- it's always "asian." But it's there on wikipedia, so I guess someone once called it that.

Anyone else think "marble marvel" was going to be some kind of stunt pulled off by marbles wunderkinds? Nice to see the Taj Mahal clued in some way other than AGRA.

What the hellboy is a Nanny State?



Nancy 9:59 AM  

Wow, I thought when I finally saw how those six Across rows worked. It's not just their last names. (Which is what I had first thought.) It's their first AND last names!!! What a tremendous feat!!! Wow!!!

Of course the whole thing had nothing at all to do with my solving experience, which was one of complete ordinariness. It wasn't an especially bad or sloggy experience, but it wasn't so great either.

Rex is right: it's a show-offy puzzle with what I like to call an "after-the-fact theme." But I can't help but admire it as a tremendous accomplishment in construction. Sort of like the TAJ MAHAL.

It wasn't constructed for my solving pleasure. But, hey, the TAJ MAHAL wasn't constructed for me either. That Mughal emperor built it for his late wife. Sometimes you just have to admire a thing as an object of beauty and let it go at that.

Country Lawyer 10:05 AM  

@ibi 7:42 a.m. : Abe Fortas was appointed by Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat.

kitshef 10:06 AM  

@Z - thanks. Of course, I'm using this as an excuse to go back and read all the Milne books, so some good will come out of it.

Rob 10:15 AM  

I agree with Rex, some horribly obscure trivia and that southwest corner is nuts. A friend and I compared notes and that's the only way we got through it.

I got the theme revealer early but didn't understand it till I was done, but now that I see it it's cute.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

Love your re-imagined set of clues, @kitshef (8:46).

Also love your "sub-theme), @GHarris (9:10). While I have no idea what "VSG" stands for in your lexicon -- and Google was no help at all -- it was not rocket science to figure out to whom you were referring.

@Quasi (9:58) Nanny State is a term for a state that forces people to do what's good for them by means of laws. Bloomberg was accused of creating such a state (a city, really) when he mandated that sweet soda pop drinks couldn't be served in portions greater than 8 ounces or 10 ounces, I forget. 14 oz servings were outlawed. People argue that they, not the government, should make these decisions for themselves. I'd say that Conservatives make this argument far more often than Liberals, and perhaps Libertarians make this argument most often of all. I, for one, plain didn't care.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Yes, it’s called cheating.

GILL I. 10:43 AM  

I'm in line with all of you that had to finish the puzzle before seeing how amazing it is. es, a constructors feat. Too bad I didn't enjoy it until the end.
Felt foolish running around looking for JUSTICE. Finally saw one of them at SONIA SOTO MAYOR. OTRANTO didn't fool me but the clue made me wonder if there are ANY towns in Italy that don't have some sort of castle or church.
ORIENTE went in lickety split. We always referred to it as Santiago de Cuba. It means east. Beautiful province with lots of mountains and lush greenery. Too bad people only know it as evil Castro's birthplace. He's got a place in hell right now along with bis buddy Che.
Cluing for BRAS just keeps getting more clever, sorta the way the Oreo is going. I can't imagine wearing a backless one, though. What keeps it from falling out of your dress? I suppose you can glue it on to your boobs.
If you haven't watched the movie COCOON, do yourself a favor and rent it. It'll make you feel good.
Now off to walk the pups on this cold foggy morning.

Norm 10:47 AM  

Six random justices who did not serve together and have nothing in common. NSC and NSA in the same grid. That SW corner. I'm in full agreement with Rex on this one.

MissHerStill 10:49 AM  

@GilI, we used to have a black pup who was named for those dense Central Valley fogs. Her name was Tule. She is much missed.

TubaDon 10:53 AM  

I had the first row filled in, so the clue in the middle gave away the theme.
My only complaint? I so wanted that 98 across answer to have been DJT !

clk 11:13 AM  

Exactly!

Kodak Jenkins 11:31 AM  

I found this one a strange mix of easy and difficult. The hardest being the SW corner.

It was one of the few theme puzzles where I actually noticed/figured out the theme and also NEEDED the theme to get some of the clues, specifically portions of Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. I think it was EARL WARREN that tipped me off.

I was a bit baffled by HOPSTEP though it might be a thing somewhere. JUMPSTEP is what people usually say for that move though JABSTEP and EUROSTEP are also evasive maneuvers.

Malsdemare 11:34 AM  

I thought this was wonderful. It was tough enough in places that I had to work to complete it and when I finally found the JUSTICEs in those long acrosses, I whooped with amazement. To pull that off without relying on a lot of real junk is quite a feat. Yeah, there's some unpleasantness but GAMEON, CALLEDIT, NANNY, HEARTEN, CAPHUCHIN, GANYMEDE! All stuff I had to fight for and then smile when the answers fell. It’s even gender balanced, with both ELENA and SONIA in the puzzle.

Did anyone else see the WARRENTS and go looking for indictments, pleas, etc? I spent quite a few minutes chasing that rabbit. But then I saw BREYER and was off and running.

Thanks, Joel. This was a great sunday puzzle.

Anyone else getting hit with the Captcha rigamarole each time you post?

Dan Steele 11:51 AM  

Aaargh. I would have loved this puzzle (well, except for the bottom, where I struggled mightily) if I had ever sussed out the theme. I think it was a great one, but had to finally give up and come here to see what it was. I hated doing it because I knew it had to be staring me right in the face.

Had I ever gotten there, that recognition might have wiped away my block in the southern tier in one fell swoop. Because my family has a loose connection to Sotomayor (her brother was my daughter's doctor when she was young), I would have been giving Sonya a shot all over the place.

Mohair Sam 11:53 AM  

Really liked this one. Didn't see the theme until the end - it was like a bonus on a medium-challenging themeless for us. I just think it's brilliant construction, and the fill held up well under the strain.

Learned lotsa stuff today, always fun to do - I now know what a CAPUCHIN is. Agree with Rex on the cluing for IBANEZ - should be "Former Philly Raul". Mike DANTONI and gimme for this NBA fan, but must have been murder for others.

I wonder how far it is from ANSONIA and OTRANTO to Natick?

@Tuba Don (10:53) - I actually got GOTH only because I had confidently filled DJT at 98a, took a while to let go of DJT too.

@Z - Thanks for the video on the HOPSTEP. I'm an NBA fanatic ("trust the process" here in Philly) and didn't know the term. Played ball through college (Division II benchwarmer), I did the HOPSTEP all the time, unfortunately it was called "traveling" back then - hence I rode the pine.

mbr 11:58 AM  

@Nancy: VSG = Very Stable Genius

QuasiMojo 12:03 PM  

@Nancy, thanks for the explanation. I think Bloomberg also targeted 2-liter bottles sold in delis, but I may be wrong. The goal was to curtail the obesity epidemic. Always a noble cause. Frankly, I agreed with him. NYC is crowded enough!

Carmelo Anthony 12:14 PM  

Mike D'Antoni won Coach of the Year!? WTF!!

Charles Flaster 12:20 PM  

Good puzzle with lots of misdirects.
DNF in SW with a Natick.
Theme is something to marvel at.
No CROSSWORDease.
Thanks JF.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Very Stable Genious

Robert A. Simon 12:28 PM  

I can assure you that in no way do the producers of Häagen-Dazs (Nestle, in this country) consider Breyers an alternative to their product. Nor, I would guess, do many of you. Standing in front of the (increasingly long) ice cream cabinet in your supermarket, you're not deciding between Häagen-Dasz chocolate or Breyer's chocolate, you're deciding between spending four or five dollars for 12 ounces of much richer, much denser ice cream or roughly the same amount for a quart of a lesser product.

Trust me: pricing is the most important component of marketing. Ben & Jerry's, the midwest brand Graeter's and other regional favorites priced and made like Häagen-Dazs are its true alternatives. If you haven't had Graeter's vanilla, get on a plane right now and go to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago or wherever else it is sold and get some. If you think five dollars plus airfare is too much to spend for ice cream, go to the Graeter's website and order vanilla or your favorite flavor, and when you taste it, you'll go, "Oh! So this is what it's supposed to taste like!"

Gretchen 12:30 PM  

Today's puzzle was awfully easy for Sunday, as was the diagramless (my favorites! Why can't we have them more often? Are they difficult to create?). But there seems to be an error in today's which says there are SIX answers with missing words, but I only see three. Does anyone out there do the diagramless and can show me where there are six?

Joseph Michael 12:35 PM  

Liked Godard in the clue and GODARK in the grid.

However, the clue for GODARK seems a little off since the focus is not on "communication." When theatres go dark on a Monday night, for example, they keep the lights off and cease "operations" for the night.

Aside from that nit and a grumble over the OTRANO/ANSONIA crossing, Joel Fagliano is a crossword genius. A very stable one.

And I do see Dorothy's dog hiding with a hen under that CAPUCHIN.

Master Melvin 12:36 PM  

Oriente Province was in the news a few months ago when one or more of those hurricanes menaced that part of Cuba - the Eastern portion as indicated by the name.

It was a stronghold of the revolutionaries, frequently mentioned in the news, but I did not know the Castros were born there.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Not a NANNY state - text below is a partial excerpt from the Boundary County Idaho website, "Purchasing Real Estate" section. Niece recently moved there.


Life in Boundary County is wonderful; the people here retain a strong pioneer spirit of hard work and of helping their neighbors ... most who call this community home would agree that you'll not find a more neighborly place anywhere else. But the rugged beauty and often harsh conditions mean that many of the amenities you may be used to are not available, and if you're used to relying on strict ordinances and regulations to help you resolve neighborly disputes, you'll be disappointed. It is the belief of the county that people who buy and build here have the right to build the home that best suits them; if the roof collapses under the weight of the snow, they'll know better next time. Conversely, you may build a beautiful home that meets the most stringent building codes while your neighbor may not; the county will not intercede on your behalf to make that neighbor live up to your standards.

The5th Harp 12:53 PM  

Johnson appointed Fortas.

aknapp 12:56 PM  

Seems like "Divided Court" would have been an apt title. Might have made the theme a bit less invisible.

Steve M. 1:00 PM  

Would have been a near record Sunday time for me, without ever seeing the theme, except I had to enter in consonants randomly to get the OTRANTO/ANSONIA cross. Now I'm heading off to the Natick Mall.

ArtO 1:02 PM  

Tough puzzle here; clever cluing especially 74A/70D.

Congrats to Mr. Fagliano on an amazing feat of construction. SW corner a total block so DNF.

Two Ponies 1:03 PM  

@ Anon 12:39,
Thanks for sharing that. I am a near neighbor of that county and glad of it. I don't need the government or some HOA to tell me how I ought to live.

Steve M. 1:04 PM  

Also, I somehow managed to live in New Haven for 10 years without every hearing of Ansonia.

Nancy 1:29 PM  

"Very Stable Genius"!!! Of course! Thanks, @mbr (11:58), et al. A lovely new abbrev., even though I normally hate abbrevs. Was it by any chance your coinage, @GHarris? But even though I've never seen the abbrev., figuring out the "inspiration" behind it was a slam-dunk.

@Robert A. Simon (12:28) -- No, Breyer's is absolutely not the equivalent of Haagen Dazs! But I've never had Graeter's ice cream and am willing to take your word that it's every bit as good as H-D. (If I don't take your word, I'll have to get on a plane from NY to Chicago to find out, and plane travel is so unpleasant. That's a long way to go for great ice cream.)

@Dan Steele (11:51) -- You claim a connection of sorts to SONIA SOTOMAYOR because "her brother was my daughter's doctor." Which reminds me of the circuitous way I connect myself to the immortal composer Richard Rodgers. His older brother, the then-famous NYC obstetrician Dr. Mortimer Rodgers, delivered me. Which may, alas, be my only claim to imMORTality, pun intended. You can Google the good doctor -- I think you'll actually find him in the annals of mid-century Obstetrics.

mmorgan 1:30 PM  

I agree with Rex that the grid construction and "theme" were more to be looked at afterwards than a part of the solving experience. I got OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE off the O alone. My problem was more in the E than the SW, since I didn't know VIOLA and was thrown off by the "(in)" in the clue for 60D, which made me think the answer couldn't have been LOCATED -- since that would not need an "(in)". Overall, reasonably pleasant despite having a theme that produced no "Ah-ha" moment.

mbr 1:31 PM  

@Gretchen: the 6 missing words are in the following "answers":
9A - 3 martini lunch
13A - 3 day weekend
49A - 3 ring circus
55A - 3 finger salute
19D - 3 bean salad
24D - 3 wise men

Malsdemare 1:35 PM  

@Robert Simon. I grew up in cincinnati, knew both Graeters and the Graeters. Before we could buy the ice cream here in Champaign (and elsewhere), I would send 6 pints of ice cream to those celebrating something big. I think that's the single reason my kids went for advanced degrees. Six pints cost $75 to ship and worth every cent. So, yeah everyone, if you see Graeters in your store, buy it. Chocolate mocha and chocolate chocolate chip are the favorites in this house.

Suzie Q 1:35 PM  

@ Rex, That is a great photo of you. I don't know what Captain Cranky's is but that sign is you!

sixtyni yogini 1:44 PM  

Agree in toto with King Rex.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@pmdm. 7:47 am. You wrote: "... That would allow construction of a puzzle with the names of all nine Justices hidden in the grid."

I actually submitted a puzzle which contained all nine Justices of the Court at the time, and WS rejected it due to the fact that the composition of the Court could change, thus making it too risky for future syndicated versions (which I assume the Times makes some decent money on). And in case you're wondering, it was not my first submission. I'd had at least a dozen puzzles published in the Times by then. Kinda turned me off to constructing.

Evan Jordan 2:08 PM  

Clearly. I think that cross, plus a fairly obscure, contemporary proper name with an unseen apostrophe in it at 1.Across (DANTONI) instantly disqualifies an “Easy” label, regardless of the rest of it.

Gretchen 2:14 PM  

Whew! Thanks. I had missed the 3 wisemen and the 3 bean salad although i had the answers right in the grid. I just didn't think of them as missing 3's. Thanks for your response!
.

sanfranman59 2:15 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:48 4:08 1.16 83.3% Challenging
Tue 4:53 5:35 0.88 23.2% Easy-Medium
Wed 5:57 5:54 1.01 59.4% Medium
Thu 9:47 10:28 0.93 38.0% Easy-Medium
Fri 7:53 11:37 0.68 12.4% Easy
Sat 13:11 16:08 0.82 33.8% Easy-Medium
Sun 16:16 22:02 0.74 15.2% Easy

I'm a speed-solver (probably obvious) and didn't suss out the theme on this one until I was finished. But I still appreciate the construction feat and don't really care whether or not the theme is integral to the solve. To me, it was just something else to puzzle out upon completion.

There occasionally (often?) seems to be this below-the-surface (overt?) conflict (animosity?) between speed-solvers and non-speed-solvers out here. Can't we all just get along? Vive le différence! While this theme may not have been helpful to experienced speed solvers (e.g., Rex, me), I don't think it detracts from the solving experience at all and provided me with two genuine 'aha' and 'wow' experiences, the second of which was when I realized the first names were there also.

pabloinnh 2:21 PM  

Liked this one just fine, mostly because it evoked memories of going from my hometown in the Adirondacks all the way to Connecticut to visit my aunt and uncle for Thanksgiving at their home in Ansonia. Always watched pro football on tv and saw Detroit playing, featuring running back Nick Petrosante, who was from Ansonia. Very disappointing to find out Ansonia isn't as famous to everyone as it was/is to me.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Apologies for the off topic question—twice now I’ve tried to comment using the name/url option (with a custom name but no URL) and my comment has not appeared. It works using anonymous. Am I missing something?

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Or learning...

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

A drop step is an evasive basketball move. A hop step is a travel.

Hungry Mother 2:40 PM  

Natick on towns in Italy and Connecticut. Maybe less trivia?

Jill McCourt 2:43 PM  

As in "wins by a hair..."

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Easy to medium, but some individual stumpers: DANTONI crossing NEBS, OTRANTO, TOHELEN.

Buggy Bunny 3:09 PM  

@ColoradoCog:
Crossing OTRANTO and ANSONIA is like crossing Natick and Natick.

worse. I live near Ansonia, and it's miles and miles from New Haven. may be if you're from Texas, that's near, but not in any New England state, possibly save Maine. but it's 99% empty of people, anyway.

thefogman 3:09 PM  

When I read the title I thought, "Uh-oh! The NYT is finally going to let loose on Trump and give him the thrashing he so richly deserves." But alas. It was not to be. I don't know if it's a sign of supreme intelligence (or a very stable genius) to call this puzzle easy, but it certainly was not easy for me. I would rate it as being medium-challenging at the very least. The gimmick came to me (once I completed) after the broken name of SCALIA jumped out at me, then I looked down the grid to discover BREYER, which I found odd since there was no break (i.e. obstruction) in his name. Odd, until I realized the first name was also part of the theme. Pretty impressive I'd say. I must admit, my knowledge of US SCJ's is limited so I had to reference my xword dictionary to find some the SCJ's I didn't know. That xword dictionary was the best $3 I ever spent at a garage sale. My verdict: This puzzle was about as much fun you could possibly have without breaking the law.

Joe Dipinto 3:51 PM  

@mbr & Gretchen -- Thanks for *not* posting a Spoiler Alert. I didn't do the Diagramless yet. Jeez.

Nancy 4:07 PM  

You poor man, @Joe DiPinto (3:51)! How awful for you. Fortunately I already had started the diagramless and figured out the theme before I inadvertently stumbled on all the spoilers revealed by @mbr and @Gretchen. I snapped my eyelids shut as quickly as my reflexes would allow, and only saw one theme answer I hadn't gotten to yet. When I went back to the puzzle, that answer filled in just as it would have if I hadn't stumbled on it. So no real harm was done to me, thank heaven. But I can't even begin to imagine how outraged I would be if I hadn't started the puzzle yet. What I wish for you, Joe, is a memory as hazy as mine -- that if you tuck the puzzle away for a few weeks, you'll completely forget the spoilers you saw today. But people can be so thoughtless. The rule of the Rexblog, everyone, is this: You discuss only the puzzle of the day and no other puzzles at all. Never ruin a puzzle for people who haven't yet done it.

Barry Frain 4:11 PM  

NANCYSTATE: utter befuddlement.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Uncle Alvarez 4:25 PM  

I rather like zoning laws. If you want to know why, go to one of the shit holes in Wyoming that has no zoning.

Buggy Bunny 4:29 PM  

@Uncle Alvarez:
I rather like zoning laws. If you want to know why, go to one of the shit holes in Wyoming that has no zoning.

you don't have to go so far. just go to Houston. what's left of it.

GHarris 5:00 PM  

@ Nancy glad you enjoyed my exhuming the sub theme. As to VSG, I didn’t coin it, that was done by the Genius himself.. I merely initialized it.

Aketi 5:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Clue for 107 down should have said Abbr. Or Acronym

Aketi 5:33 PM  

@Nancy and @Quasi, Bloomberg didn’t understand how to market the notion of mini sodas so he got tarnished with the reputation of the NANNY mayor because the soda industry quickly made the false claim it was a soda ban. It wasn’t a ban on soda; it was merely downsizing the containers of sugar water. You could still buy and drink enough to send yourself into a diabetic coma, iI just might take a little longer because you’d have to open more bottles and you might wear off a few extra calories opening more bottles. Those who market vegetables have definitely figured out how to sell mini vegetables to their advantage by labeling them “baby”. If movie theaters thad mini sodas like the mini liquor bottles on planes rather than the ginormous cups I might have been less strict as a parent and let my son indulge. There are places that now make a fortune selling mini bottles of liquid greens that cost more than the comparable size liquor bottles. .

I personally have concluded I am not a fern that relishes constant watering, I am a camel who only drinks if I must. I couldn’t drink the entire contents of one of the typical oversized sodas to save my life, not even if it was only filled with water. FYI,@Quasi, would you have responded better to the taxi driver if he was riding one instead of smoking one?

As for Haagen Dasz you’ll never catch me buying it because of the misleading marketing done by its parent company on other items in their portfolio. Emack and Bolios won me over with their rum raisin

Trombone Tom 5:37 PM  

I looked at the title, didn't immediately see any theme, and didn't think again about theme until I came here. For someone with a JD who took Con Law from J. Kennedy that's inexcusable.

I really enjoyed nibbling my way through this puzzle. The cluing was clever and the subject matter varied. I was able to avoid a DNF only because ANSONIA and other answers that many Naticked on somehow bubbled up in my memory. Thanks Joel for a pleasant Sunday.

John Stuart Mill 5:46 PM  

It wasn’t just sodas that Nanny Bloomberg regulated. He banned smoking from every pub, pool hall, and private club in the five boroughs. Diblasio is worse. It’s a slippery slope toward totalitarianism.

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

Nanny Bloomberg banned trans fats too. They should subsidize smoking and trans fats. People are living too long you boomers are bankrupting Social Security leaving unplayable bills for us millennials and for future generations.

Joe Dipinto 6:19 PM  

@Nancy 4:07 -- Thanks, I think (?). I don't mind if people want to comment on the variety puzzles on the day they are printed -- I'm pretty sure I've done it myself in the past -- but I think a fair warning that you are going to *give away answers* would be nice, since this blog and commentary section is primarily about the headliner puzzle.

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

unpayable grrr spellcheck

QuasiMojo 6:53 PM  

@Aketi, yes, definitely! And good one for slipping in that sly reference to rum raisin! :)

Buggy Bunny 7:28 PM  

"Nanny Bloomberg banned trans fats too."

it's called enforcing payment of externalities. just like in Houston, which allowed building on floodplains, which forced the rest of us in Blue States to pay for destruction that ensues (once in 500 year flood the last three years in a row). and it goes on. Bloomberg looked at the externalities (costs of medical problems caused), and took actions. the Social Darwinists, generally members of the rich 1%, assert they're allowed to impose externalities on the 99%. that's chaos, of course.

cigarettes aren't the only source of expensive externalities. the 1% don't have the right to freely impose them on the rest of us.

Nighthawk 7:32 PM  

Not "Capuchin", but the attractive, talented and tragic Capucine.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/Capucine_%281962%29.jpg/220px-Capucine_%281962%29.jpg

Lloyd from London 8:34 PM  

@buggy: go back to the actuarial table your math doesn’t add up

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

Hey buggy by your logic there should be an obesity tax you for that too ?

Janet 8:52 PM  

I actually *liked* the fact that the theme of SCOTUS justices’ names was apparent at the end. Sure, I like wordplay themes, but this puzzle kept me entranced until the end.

Buggy Bunny 8:59 PM  

"@buggy: go back to the actuarial table your math doesn’t add up"

which math? if you mean the number of Houston floods: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/29/houston-is-experiencing-its-third-500-year-flood-in-3-years-how-is-that-possible/?utm_term=.95eea9ba7212

if you mean the concept of externalities, see any Econ 101 text.

say hello to Ayn for me at your next seance.

Buggy Bunny 9:11 PM  

"Hey buggy by your logic there should be an obesity tax you for that too ?"

only if your a white, rich, fat cat. :):)

Melrose 9:13 PM  

Brilliant, best Sunday I can recall in ages. Parts were easy, but I had to nibble away at it throughout the day. Finally got it all, very satisfying. Thanks, Joel!

Buggy Bunny 9:41 PM  

"Hey buggy by your logic there should be an obesity tax you for that too ?"

and I just checked again, to make sure. the fat states are white and Red and Southern. so, yeah, a great tax idea.

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

Actually highest rates of obesity are poor African American, too bad it kills the narrative

Buggy Bunny 10:07 PM  

actually, it's income and education. it's just that Red states spend so little on education that most of them, of all colors on both sides, end up phat. and, of course, blacks are about 13% of US population, so it'd be kind of amazing if all of them made up most of the population of the Phat Red States. or of the Phat USofA. ya think?

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:54 PM  

A very good theme, and a quite enjoyable aha moment. Some pleasant spots. But then again, some dreadful spots.

The fill is not neat. To be fair, the inherent constraint on it is ridiculous, but OTRANTO/ANSONIA, CAPUCHIN/BUTTE, THE dupe, SOTO-TOTO, GANYMEDE/ORIENTE are crossings/stacks that are not fun at all. Along with some NSA NSC WIL YEE ROC SOC UEYS ONIT NAIR NEBS BLIN AHAIR. But there are some cool entries to partially make up for the mess. Oh, and the theme is great. Don't give me dad jokes and/or lame puns that are impossible to figure out on Sundays, give me this.

GRADE: B+, 3.7 stars.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:08 PM  

@Dave Hogg

As an NBA aficionado, my mind also went to JABSTEP first; but HOPSTEP is just as much evasive if not more. JABSTEP gives you some separation and can be the beginning of a penetration, but HOPSTEP is almost always used to evade a potential shot block.

Mr. B

"I thought the top half of the puzzle was easier than the bottom half." Exactly my experience. The bottom half took twice as long.
---
Also, today it took a long while for our trolls to make an appearance! The comment section was super clean for like 70 of them! I guess s/he was watching the Jaguars-Steelers game. I hope you're a Steelers fan, troll, enjoy your defeat.

Anonymous 11:26 PM  

Buggy Bunny is as much a fascist as our President. Congrats, a**hole.

John Hoffman 2:20 AM  

Very, very difficult puzzle for me. I did Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week quickly, like I was thinking with the constructors. It all just made sense. But this Sunday is one I haven't finished yet. I'll come back to it and finish.

Seems like this puzzle is completely filled with obscure stuff:

DANTONI
ANSONIA
OTRONTO
TOHELEN
IBANEZ
NEWWAVE french directors

I honestly don't know how this weird stuff made sense to anyone yet most folk are saying that this was an easy puzzle.

John Hoffman 2:21 AM  

Oh, and CAPUCHIN.

pat sanchez 3:34 AM  

I was stumped in SW and gave up. I guessed AdHoc, Ansonia,To Helen, On It and Asp but still couldn't finish. Never saw the theme answers. Never heard of Pibb or Sys Op or what Ash is about grates. Better than last 2 Sundays though.
P.S. I'm from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Love ya Rex

Bob Mills 10:11 AM  

Some "themes" are so far-fetched that the puzzle can be solved without understanding them, even after the fact. This puzzle is a perfect example. Clever, for sure. But did anyone finish the puzzle because the theme provided guidance?

TCProf 4:42 PM  

It all depends on ones experience. I live part time in New York (D’Antoni coached the Knicks); I was an English major (The Castle of Otranro); and I live part time in Connecticut (Ansonia was a gimme).

B Smithers 6:16 PM  

Gretchen, I too love diagramless and wonder why they have slowed to a trickle. I found 4. Sleepless seeking the other two. I have a DNF area in the upper part of the SE, so they could be in there. LMK if you find out.

B Smithers 6:19 PM  

Oops! just found the other two: 3-bean salad and 3 wisemen. Persnickety little answers hiding in there. 😁

David Glasser 10:44 AM  

Catching up on my crosswords post Mystery Hunt: the monkeys are named because they look like they are wearing the friars' hoods.

spacecraft 11:35 AM  

I happen to have read The Pearl, an absolutely marvelous little story by the master Steinbeck. This is where I started, and with WAR and RENTTO (ugly awkward partial that it was) gimmes, I saw the trick right off. Knew all the JUSTICEs except BREYER, but by that time I had enough to get it down.

Immensely dense theme, which made for the above-mentioned UAP, as well as a RRNM (random Roman-numeraled monarch, in case you forgot), along with another dreaded instance of UEYS. Also a Natick at square 66. However, R seemed the most logical choice: correct (whew!). I know no record labels--and if I did, I still wouldn't know rapper ones. You can throw them in with album titles and obscure rivers to unknown seas as things which make my eyes glaze over.

The great Etta James usually wins DOD with her crossword-friendly first name, but today we have her signature song AT LAST.

Hand up for NANNY state (?), explained above by, who else, New Yorkers. One writeover: tried soBe before PIBB. Very clever reveal, using a common legal phrase that describes what's going on "super-"bly. Other than the three unlovely things mentioned above, there was very little trash in the fill. Most impressive; surely worth a solid birdie.

Fly, Eagles, fly!!!!

rondo 12:21 PM  

Three little inkfests caused a few problems: African elephants, wrong Jessica yeah baby with alba before BIEL, and SuckerS before STUPIDS, Dum-dums are those little suckers, right? And of all the 6-letter guitars IBANEZ? What about Fender, Gibson and Martin? Last hole filled was the potential Natick of the N in the ANSONIA/OTRANTO cross.

And I didn't get the JUSTICE interruptus thing until coming here. Impressive construction, but did nothing for me on the solve.

Sorry @spacey, Vikes 20 - Eagles 10.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Almost finished but never figured out the theme. Very Clever.

Burma Shave 1:23 PM  

AMAN,A NANNY, AWASH

They CALLEDIT OBSTRUCTIONOFJUSTICE
when ATLAST we ATE in the BAR's TUB.
INFUN, THEBOSS gave a HEADSUP to us,
"DEWAR a SHAG, but NOFOOD in this PUB."

--- ANSONIA D'ANTONI CAPUCHIN, AKA ANSEL "POOH" OTRANTO

this DIETTIP IDEA brought to you by the PASADENA MAYORAL ADHOC PRINT SHOPS

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

again a week behind- iI agree w/ rex that the judges names never evenoccurred to me as I stopped caring once I completed tis one. Rex clued me in here on that. Also had nailed it first. I thought stuoids was well stupid and then there was also stupor. So and stewbum- so laot of stuff here to 'stu' about. and African before Asiatic- the elephant in the room. did like wannabe and diettip- there was some cleverness there. never heard of pibb, the sports ones I got from crosses have no idea was a hopstep is . I thought of dewars as it is always asked for with an s. I tended bar back when I was a young girl. Blin- - Its missing the z or however that is spelled. anyway an ok puzzle, The at last answer made me think of the great etta james. that's all I got - so going dark

AnonymousPVX 2:46 PM  

I didn’t care for this puzzle....so much so that after a couple of passes I just put it in the recycling. No solve and I just didn’t care.

EightAndEight 2:46 PM  

*Genius

EightAndEight 2:47 PM  

*Genius

EightAndEight 2:47 PM  

*Genius

rainforest 5:02 PM  

Excellent Sunday puzzle. I found it challenging/easy, mainly due to the cluing - some straightforward, some tricky. The theme eluded me until I was filling in crosses of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, and I noticed -EARL WAR REN-. Aha, an OBSTRUCTed JUSTICE. Looking at row #1 as instructed, I immediately saw -ANTONI-NSC-ALIA-. Nifty, says I.

There were parts (SW, due S, ORIENTE) that slowed me down but most of the East came relatively easily.
.
Who names a town ANSONIA? Toughest entry in the grid.

Really liked it. So glas Gorsuch wasn't in there, as he doesn't deserve to be. Just sayin'.

Diana, LIW 6:42 PM  

dnf, and took way too long - didn't get the theme. nuff said.

Diana, still waiting for Burma's true identity

Anonymous 2:56 AM  

Love your sub theme, GHarris! Also Russian references in 62A blin and 82A red; 117A diet tip (something he needs); 101D A hair (the A stands for, well, you can guess). And I’m reading 50D with an extra L—all lies. I think 13D I win definitely is part of the sub theme too. I’ve never posted here before so it’s going to say anonymous since I don’t know how to put in a name.

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