Guardian Angel Curtis / SUN 5-27-18 / Bygone Cambodian leader with palindromic name / Query from Judas / Shape of every Baha'i temple / Alias of rapper Sean Combs / Former Nebraska senator James

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Constructor: Andrew Chaikin

Relative difficulty: Easy or Easy-Medium


THEME: "21" — "21" = definition for all themers / all themers are 21 letters long (standard Sunday grid width) (there are also assorted incidental clues containing the number "21" throughout the grid)

[21] answers:
  • 22A: AGE FOR DRINKING LEGALLY
  • 34A: NUMBER ONE ALBUM BY ADELE
  • 51A: GUNS IN A MILITARY SALUTE
  • 74A: SPOTS ON ALL SIDES OF A DIE
  • 87A: WINNING BLACKJACK TOTAL
  • 106A: LETTERS IN THESE ANSWERS 
Word of the Day: Curtis SLIWA (69D: Guardian Angel Curtis ___) —
Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, radio talk show host, media personality, and chairman of the Reform Party of New York State. (wikipedia)
• • •

Grueling. I finished very quickly, but like all painful experiences, it felt eternal. There are several reasons why a puzzle like this is never gonna be a CROWD PLEASER (to borrow a term from Saturday's lovely puzzle). First, definitions as answers ... always dicey. At best, dull. At worst tortured. *Especially* tortured when you have to make those answers fit into 21 squares exactly. Thus the phrasing on precisely None of these seems just right. AGE FOR DRINKING LEGALLY is something ALIENS would say when trying to pass as humans. "We should consume alcoholic beverages now, perhaps from one of the more popular TAVERNS in this urban area. Everyone here is the AGE FOR DRINKING LEGALLY, correct? Splendid!" That, or the never-released sequel to "The Year of Living Dangerously." GUNS IN A MILITARY SALUTE is probably the tightest of the bunch, while SPOTS ON ALL SIDES OF A DIE is like having your pinky sawed off with a butter knife. WINNING BLACKJACK *TOTAL*??? Torturing the English language, you are. Further ... there's nowhere for this puzzle to go. It's just a relentless death march of [21]s. The final themer is kind of a revealer, or a twist, but even it kind of whiffs. "THESE" hardly seems specific enough. Theme answers, longer answers, long Acrosses ... say what you mean. THESE? Everything about the themers is just ... off, phrasing-wise. My only serious probably came in trying to parse SPOTS ON ALL SIDES OF A DIE, and that was largely due to my writing in NECCA instead of NECCO (53D: Brand of wafers).


Then there's the fill. The grid ... it's trying to have a low word count, I think, which is not a great idea. I mean, hurray for ONE TOO MANY and MALEFICENT, but man, overall the fill suffers pretty bad. ELRIO? SNCC? TERNI??? SLIWA!?!?!?! That SLIWA SNCC area in the middle is just dire. And then there's ON A STAR (??), a phrase that should never stand alone. See also Friday-less TGI. And CASE OF, dear lord (73D: Start for every Perry Mason title, wiht "The"). And many more. Too many. CLEA! ITA! GUVS!?!? It's ALOAD, it's ATRAIN, it's ABLAST, it's ... ADLAI! I did this at high speed, but it felt like HI-SPEED (80D: Unlike dial-up internet service, informally), i.e. something ungainly and faux whimsical and sad. QUESTIONS IN A BASIC GAME (21)? NUMBER OF TV'S JUMP STREET (21)? Is it theme? Did I theme? 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

101 comments:

Moly Shu 12:23 AM  

Ambitious but brutal. SNCC, EXON, SCRIES, SMALLAS (hello DOOK), at least I knew SLIWA and NECCO. I will give it some credit for trying to satisfy the aƱo crowd.

Larry Gilstrap 1:02 AM  

Wow! How does somebody put together such a massive puzzle with those huge gridspanning themers? I'm pretty impressed I was able to solve it. Yeah, me! New analogy: like an amorous ant and an elephant. Somebody must have noticed the 21 thing sometime in the annals of puzzledom, but ADELE's ALBUM is fairly recent. Hello!?

I know it is supposedly a safety issue, but why are Harleys so very loud?

David Ogden STIERS appeared at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego as King Lear with Jonathan McMurtry as the Fool. Just as exhausting, but more gratifying than solving today.

I've lived in CA all of my life and traveled most of it, but EL RIO is a new one on me. I've been to El Centro, El Cajon, and El Monte, but, apparently, not everywhere, man.

Memoir: I taught Jr. Hi many years ago and my kids were mostly cool. Every year before Thanksgiving I taught writing a formal letter. Early 80s, I'm guessing. I offered the kids mass extra credit if they wrote to a celebrity and got a quality response. Some of the responses were amazing. Steve Martin sent a hand written MadLib kind of form letter, hilarious. Loretta Lynn sent a hand written note about her horses. O.J. sent a signed photo, what a guy! But, one student was a fan of Charlotte's Web and sent a letter to E.B. White and received a response from his wife Katharine pertinent to her inquiries. Maybe later in that student's life she learned about his collaboration with STRUNK. Elements of Style, indeed.

puzzlehoarder 1:35 AM  

I got the whole thing but I found it to be the hardest Sunday in awhile. Cryptic clues are good for a single answer but six times is a bit much. I kept catching myself wanting to reread the clue for whichever themer I happened to be working on and would sadly remind myself that it was just "21."

There was ALOAD of obscure material in the fill. This was actually a bonus for me. I love crunching this stuff and at times I felt like I was solving a difficult Saturday.

Trombone Tom 1:57 AM  

Liked this more than @Rex did. Had to work hard in some areas, but it didn't feel like a slog.

Had a problem with NUMBER ONE ... because I parsed it as NUMBER ON ... and couldn't make sense of ...A DELE.

Missteps included: *** TOO Much-->ONE TOO MANY, Turin-->TERNI, and mEnd-->HEAL.

Thank you Andrew and Will for a decent Sunday workout.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Got ‘er done, no cheats so that felt good. I found it to be rather boring, the only one that brought a smile was 81D ON A STAR, thought that was kind of cute. Wanted Bloody Mary for 59A, I actually wanted that yesterday too for 1A Easy way to ease the pain, too long. Guess what I’m going to have for brunch tomorrow now that’s engraved in my brain.

Just started Sunday’s LA Times puzzle by Gail Grabowski, pretty good so far.

smoss11 2:43 AM  

21 is not necessarily the number of guns in a military salute so the answer is imprecise. In the United States, only the president or other heads of state rate 21 guns. Lower ranking dignitaries are entitled to fewer guns which would be regarded as a military salute as well.

JOHN X 3:23 AM  

This was a fun puzzle although I agree some of those phrases were a little stilted but no worry. I like to roll with punches of all the different constructor wavelengths. JOHN X abides; it's the JOHN X way.

My strangest error: for a while I had SPOTSONALLSOCCERBALLS. That's just crazy, man. I have no idea how many spots are on a soccer ball, or if there are any spots at all. Actually, I like my answer better.

sanfranman59 3:44 AM  

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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 5:19 4:24 1.21 86.6% Challenging
Tue 4:34 5:26 0.84 16.6% Easy
Wed 15:58 6:39 2.40 100.0% Very, Very (almost impossibly) Challenging
Thu 10:33 9:42 1.09 65.4% Medium-Challenging
Fri 16:14 13:05 1.24 75.6% Medium-Challenging
Sat 12:14 15:59 0.77 24.3% Easy-Medium
Sun 16:29 20:34 0.80 25.5% Easy-Medium

I don't know if I'm just not in a puzzling mood tonight, but this one didn't do much for me at all. At least it was over relatively quickly. It's cool that each of the themers is 21 letters and all. But maybe there were just too many constraints imposed by the theme density to make the fill work well. So many of the downs cross two themers. I've never even attempted construction, but Rex has mentioned this before in his write-ups, so I guess I'm just kinda parroting him.

TRISTE, USTED, TERNI, SMALLAS, UNCAP, HISPEED, CLEA, CASEOF, SCRIES, OCC, WHA all got my hackles up. TIME in two answers is apparently offensive to the crossword gods, so there's also that.

OTOH, the misdirection with ATF was crafty and held me up some in the NW (I had Afc). FACSIMILES and MALEFICENT are nice going across the grid. I liked the trivia about Baha'i temples. NONAGONS huh? Impressive. Too bad they aren't icosihenagons.

It's nice that we have a 21-GUN SALUTE for Memorial Day weekend. Here's to the memory of fallen soldiers, sailors and Marines.

TeaHag 5:00 AM  

The clue for EURO was strange - euros were around in the 20th century too. I mean, I guess it's technically correct since it's a currency this century as well, but so is every currency currently in circulation.

'mericans in Paris 5:30 AM  

We got a chuckle from @Rex's write-up, especially his vignette about Aliens. Easy-Medium describes our experience. Mostly we found it easy, but with a few near-Naticks.

Seeing the answer 51A, GUNS IN A MILITARY SALUTE, evokes an indelible memory for me, of President Ronald Reagan's first inauguration, on 20th January 1980. Mrs. 'mericans and I were living on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., at the time, and a friend of ours was able to get us passes to attend the inauguration within the Capitol perimeter. We were not fans of The Gipper by any means, but we did not want to pass up our one chance to witness such a historic event first-hand.

The dramatic backdrop to the inauguration was the release of the 52 Americans -- mainly diplomats and their Marine guards -- that had been held for more than a year as hostages by the new Iranian regime. Historic accounts of their release often skip lightly over the intermediate step, which involved flying the hostages to neutral Algeria. Here are the bare bones of the event, adapted from this account:

On 20 January 1981 Iran released the hostages and an Algerian airliner transported them to Algiers, Algeria. The hostages were then transferred to two C–9 airplanes from the 55th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron of the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing, each assigned to transport 26 former hostages. The hostages then flew from Algeria to Rhein-Main AB, West Germany, arriving there on 21 January.

The moments when the hostages could be truly considered freed, was when the C-9s carrying them were finally cleared for take-off. We were hearing that account live, via a transistor radio, as the 21-gun salute to the new president were taking place. It went something like this:

"The two C-9s have started their engines ... "

KA-BOOM!

"... there seems to be some delay ... "

KA-BOOM!

"Ah, it looks as if the first one has begun to move, and is taxiing slowly towards the runway."

KA-BOOM!

"The second one is now starting to follow ... "

KA-BOOM!

You get the picture. If I recall correctly, the moment that the airplanes were in the air coincided with that 21st KA-BOOM!

There have been many allegations of collusion between the Reagan campaign and Iran to stall and thus delay the release of the hostages, in order to deny President Jimmy Carter an "October Surprise". As summed up in this Wikipedia entry:

After twelve years of mixed media attention, both houses of the US Congress held separate inquiries and concluded that the allegations lacked supporting documentation. Nevertheless, several individuals—most notably former Iranian President Abulhassan Banisadr, former naval intelligence officer and U.S. National Security Council member Gary Sick, and former Reagan and Bush campaign staffer and White House analyst Barbara Honegger — have stood by the allegation[s].

Lewis 6:32 AM  

@rex -- That was tremendously entertaining.

I love how NONAGON rolls off the tongue and how it feels to say BAMBINA and DIDDY. Thinking about this launched me on a reverie that side-streeted into a felicitous internet search that landed on the following phrase, which was said to be from a description of Samuel Johnson's prose: "sententiously orotund mellifluity". Now THAT is something I'd like to, with a straight face, work into a conversation some time next week...

'mericans in Paris 7:04 AM  

CORRECTION: It was the departure of the Algerian Air 737 from Tehran, carrying all 52 of the hostages, that coincided with the 21-gun salute, not the departure of the U.S. military airplanes from Algiers airport, which took place on the following day. Sorry about that.

QuasiMojo 7:07 AM  

Remember when 256 bps seemed liked HI-SPEED? And isn't the expression "When you wish UPON a star?" At least if you are a cricket.

Agree with Rex TOTAL today. Clunky and creaky. Although I did enjoy seeing Perry Mason (a favorite of mine. If you go to the Harry Ransom Center in Austin TX they have Erle Stanley Gardner's papers as well as a recreation of his writing desk and office, which they had moved there, lock, stock and barrel.)

Happy holiday weekend fellow bloggers. The 21 GUN SALUTE answer reminded me that my father had an honor guard salute at his funeral. Something I will always recall and reflect upon on Memorial Day.

Small Town Blogger 7:14 AM  

So great to see Rita and Chita in the same puzzle. Lyric from the great Forbidden Broadway parody, sung to I Want to be in America:

My name is Chita and not Rita
Rita is Rita and not Chita
Liza likes Rita but not Chita
I wouldn’t mind if they shot Rita!

mmorgan 7:30 AM  

Didn't care for the theme but I kinda enjoyed the puzzle as a whole. But. ENG_AM/SC_IES was a complete and utter Natick for me.

michiganman 8:04 AM  

The puzzle was basically a joy. I created my own block in the SW with SlurpS (SWILLS). Googled a couple times, 21D for example. I never know Olympic site answers. I really liked the "21" theme.

@Larry, Re: your question of why Harleys are loud. It has nothing to do with safety. It's simply A**holes being A**holes. They think it's cool (it is not). No consideration for the rest of us. If my car was that loud I'd get pulled over.

michiganman 8:11 AM  

One more Harley thing. If the riders of these noise machines are concerned about safety, why don't they wear helmets. Good question, eh? Michigan and many other states do not have helmet laws. Personally I do not support helmet laws.

pmdm 8:13 AM  

As I solved the southeast corner and hit all the names (94D, 103D, 92D, 98A, 103A (and II'm a MASH fan) I said to myself, "This is brutal." Some things don't bother me (such as the entry to 22A which should be "minimum age" rather than just "age." I tend to like looking at grids that have horizontal symmetry, but I tend to be unimpressed when a grid breaks a low word count record as this Sunday puzzle did. So I had mixed reactions today. All-in-all, I would aim less criticism at the constructor than found in today's write-up. I just hope the constructor learns how to improve his skill at avoiding subpar fill. Regardless, nice work Mr. CHaikin.

Z 8:26 AM  

What @Moly Shu said.

LHS 888 8:36 AM  

I’m in complete agreement with Rex’s comments. An unsatisfying DNF for me. I struggled to parse SPOTSONAL__IDES__AD_E. SPOTS ON A Ladies...?!? Kept putting in letters and tearing them back out. Finally had to Google St. Valentine and Guardian Angles whereupon the rest fell into place. If it hadn’t then I would have googled SNCC?!? Instead I finished up with “Oh” followed by “that’s vaguely interesting” and meh.

I don’t know ELIE WIESEL, and I didn’t know she has a famous quote. I’ve been saying something similar for years with apathy in place of indifference. I consider it a test of maturity to find out if someone thinks Scarlett gets Rhett Butler back. Young folks tend to say yes; older (and wiser) folks say no.

Hand up for liking NONAGON

Write-overs:
TuRin > TERNI
orNOT > IsNOT > IFNOT
MALEvolENT > MALEFICENT

webwinger 8:41 AM  

I found this easy and fun, but had a weird technical DNF (saved by happy tune): Guessed TERNo for 57D, which gave me DoE as the last word of 74A; conflated doe with fawn, thinking, who knew there were always 21 spots “on all sides” ...

Nancy 8:54 AM  

Some here have called this "easy" and some have called it "brutal". I thought it was closer to the former, but it presented enough challenge to hold my attention. I had a chance to Natick on the -EGA/-TI-RS/CL-A cross, but guessed right. That was really the only PPP section; the rest of the proper names were spread out and fairly crossed.

Basically, I liked the theme and thought the puzzle was well crafted. My favorite clue was for EYE TEST (49D) and my favorite answer was MALEFICENT. Very pleasant Sunday.

Kenneth Wurman 9:02 AM  

I like this alot more than Rex did. I found it to be very clever and enjoyable. Have a nice holiday everyone!

Teedmn 9:09 AM  

Remember the Maine! Except I didn't - I had her sinking in the mAnilA harbor for a while at 101A, oops. I was weightlifting for wimps with a one LB weight at 48A. I had a "cure" for the end of an illness, 10D. LOCI were "data" first at 37D. So this puzzle didn't fill itself in at all; it took my average 36+ minutes.

The biggest problem I had while solving this puzzle was 74A. SPOTSONAL__I_ESOFAD_E with WOEs S_IWA, _NCC, ALOA_ and TERN_ crossing it. I tried to make sense of the SOFA in there, but no dice. At one point, I started thinking of spots on a fawn, so maybe it was TERNo and the phrase ended with OF A DoE? Realizing we were talking about dice and getting A LOAD finished the puzzle and was a load off my mind.

As Jeff Chen writes, this was a bit dry. The cluing was mostly straightforward, though I did like "Unfriend?" for FOE, "How one might wish" ON A STAR and "Parts of "at" symbols" = SMALLAS which looks like a DOOK. Nice entries of FACSIMILES and MALEFICENT, ONE TOO MANY. I've never heard of ENGRAM so that was new information.

Nice sophomore NYT puzzle, Andrew Chaikin.

Mohair Sam 9:17 AM  

@Rex - Not linking a Lionel Hampton "Take The 'A' Train" video is a complete failure on your part.

@Z (8:26) totally agrees with @Moly Shu - The lion will lay down with the lamb today.

Puzzle was fun and kind of easy today. We hit stumbling blocks with AFC before ATF, GENOA before TERNI (I thought all Italians born before 1700 were born in Genoa), and we had the IM__ES at 65 and assumed IMagES - lost much time there.

How many of you counted 1+2+3+4+5+6 to make sure the constructor hadn't made an error at 74A? I confess, and I'll bet Will Shortz counted too.

Stuart Showalter 9:17 AM  

If you enjoy a NYT puzzle - even a little bit - you probably like it more than @Rex. He’s like Mikey: he hates everything.

F.O.G. 9:22 AM  

NECCO (New England Candy Company), the candy company that makes wafers, the Sky Bar, etc., was in the news the other day. Its assets were purchased out of bankruptcy by the Spangler Candy Company based in Bryan, Ohio, and whose best-known product is the Dum Dum sucker. Hopefully the NECCO line of candies will continue to for many years.

DBlock 9:37 AM  

I know some of you keep track of this, but I have a vague memory of the same thing on a Wednesday or Thursday some years back. Perhaps the clue was just a blank or something? Anyhoo this was a bit of a slog but not in the fun Saturday way.

Wm. C. 9:39 AM  

Got NECCO with no problem.

The (original, I think) NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) building was diagonally across the street from the 77 Mass Ave entrance to MIT, when I was there in the '60s. When a breeze was coming from the NW, and the entry door to MIT's "Infinite Corridor" (825 feet long) was open on warm days (no A/C, for the most part), the cloying smell of confectionaries filled the corridor and adjacent areas.

The Real Estate values in the area have since skyrocketed, and I think NECCO is located in some nearby lower-cost area.

Update: so I just googled it, and yes it is in nearby Revere. BUT it filed for bankruptcy recently and was just this week saved from the auction block by a Midwest candy conglomerate, assuming all conditions of the offer are met.

[Probably more than you cared to know ...]. ;-)

Lewis 9:43 AM  

@LHS -- FYI, Elie Wiesel is a he.

FWIW, the constructor, in his notes says that this is the lowest Sunday word count ever.

Wm. C. 9:53 AM  

@LHS-8s

Elie Wiesel was a male (not a SHE, though the Romanian first name could be either, to us Americans) holocaust survivor, and a Nobel Laureate.

GHarris 10:10 AM  

No Rex, it’s not just take a train, it’s the classic jazz number Take the A Train. Seems emblematic of your nitpicking today. Found the puzzle highly enjoyable.

newspaperguy 10:19 AM  

For some reason I enjoy coming to this site and getting a morning glass of whine to start my day. I thought this was an enjoyable Sunday puzzle, if on the easy side.
@Anonymous michiganman said...Here, here! I too am against helmet laws. I am all for thinning the the herd.

Wm. C. 10:26 AM  

@LarryG1:02am --

Re: your E. B. While reference. By coincidence, he's a piece of fill in today's Acrostic. (Sorry if this is a spoiler...)

Three and out ...

Bruce R 10:29 AM  

I thought I nailed it with NILLA wafers.

Birchbark 10:32 AM  

@Rex, I paused at the Fridayless TGI and thanked the constructor/editor. That cross instantly confirmed yes-it-is DRILY as opposed to could-it-be DRyLY.

@Larry Gilstrap (1:02): As a junior or senior in high school, probably 1980 or '81, I wrote a letter to Bob Seger inviting him to come over from Detroit to speak at our school in western Michigan. Maybe play a couple of songs. I'd be happy to sit in on that part, since I knew a few chords on the guitar. We'd pay for the limo. I made the case that his music bridged students and faculty, etc.

I showed the letter to the principal, and he signed it too. Bob Seger's manager wrote back. They liked the idea, but Bob's touring schedule made it impossible. It was a decent letter. My first instinct was to write back with suggestions for how we could work around it. I talked with the principal and another teacher, and in the end we had the good sense to let it lie at that.

Ellen S 10:45 AM  

EL Rio is a “small unincorporated rural community in Ventura County” according to Google Maps, which also had trouble finding it — it’s a distance north of Oxnard, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

eCW Users' Group 10:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danny 10:54 AM  

Shouldn’t ATATIME and ONETIME not be allowed in the same puzzle?

Aspiring Constructor 10:58 AM  

Rex,

SNCC isn't dire fill--it's familiar to me and others whose cultures don't overlap with the CSA or NRA.

Surprised and disappointed that you're moaning over this. Be a better ally to those different than you.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

I had the same thought...including that song lyric!

max ebbe 11:01 AM  

An "...A Train" historical note. If you google it, eElla Fitzgerald pops up numerous times but the version Betty Roche did with Ellington in '51 was by far the most popular and,i n fact, remains so today with regular rotation on ASirius XM. "Hurry, hurray..."

Robert A. Simon 11:06 AM  

This puzzle was a lot of fun. Nothing wrong with that.

OISK 11:12 AM  

Crossing two fairly obscure actors - Stiers and Clea, should be avoided. I never heard of either of them (although I did watch MASH, so must have seen Stiers in the credits) but guessed right. No DNF this week - in fact I have had just two in the past month or so, and BOTH were acronyms. (I had TBD instead of TBA, and didn't know some 4 letter acronym a week ago Friday). The last entry for me today was SCRIES with ENGRAM. Did not know either of these, even after I filled them in. Seems "Scries" is the third person of the verb "Scry," - to foretell the future using a crystal. And engram is a theoretical change in the brain when memories are stored. These are both interesting! (as opposed to "The weeknd" which almost cost me on Thursday.)

I am beginning to really dislike acronyms, and not just in crossword puzzles. They are especially rife in education, where the more "modern" teachers throw them around as if they are common knowledge. There are apparently tweeting acronyms, texting acronyms, acronyms for Broadway data bases, political acronyms, and rock group acronyms. (NWA being one of the worst...) Lunch time - I may have a GF, nGMO BLT...

Molson 11:16 AM  

I could have sworn that this exact theme was done before, where 21 was a clue for answers of Blackjack total and drinking age and related things.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Isn’t “answer count” more accurate than “word count” since many answers have more than one word?

TubaDon 11:33 AM  

TRISTAN took the ATRAIN and thought the puzzle would be ABLAST, but got deraled by AFC at 3D. So had to work contiguously clockwise and despite a hard time deciphering the theme answers backwards I finally ended up back in the NW and puzzled out Raiders of the lost ATF. I always wince at "ENGRAMS" because the pseudoscience Dianetics hijacked the term for Hubbard's fake religion.

JC66 11:38 AM  

@ LHS 888

As @Wm C pointed out, ELIE WIESEL was a holocaust survivor, and therefore his quote "the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference" takes on special significance for me.

@Lewis

I'm surprised you didn't point out that the answer to 67D (ISITI) is 10D (ITIS).

Mohair Sam 11:42 AM  

@Lewis and @ Wm C - Elie Wiesel's "Night" and John Hersey's "Hiroshima" should be required reading.

Ry 11:43 AM  

I've played of 20 Questions as a game, but never 21. Anyone else?

Unknown 11:44 AM  

An album A mistake?

jberg 11:44 AM  

Ooh, I just figured out ATF. The ol' false capitalization trick. Nice.

I'm with @Rex that too many of the themers were awkwardly phrased, but I can accept it for the sake of making it constructable. I didn't like the little bonus themers in the downs, though.

@Ellen S. -- certainly an obsucre town, and since the clue also says "Spanish for 'the river,'" the geographical part is totally superfluous.

NECCO made chocolate candy, too, and I'm allergic to chocolate. I remember driving past the plant on my way to a draft physical -- I was trying to convince them that my allergies should give me a 4-F, and thought if I came in all congested it might help. But it didn't work.

Anyone else want ten TOO MANY?

@Wm. C., please don't do that. Lots of us solve that puzzle after doing this one and coming here to read about it.

Charley 11:44 AM  

I never of engram. It crosses scries, which I still don’t get after looking it up???

Blue Stater 11:45 AM  

A blizzard of obscure proper names in the Texas region of today's did me in. *Way* too many of them and *way* too obscure, particularly when they are crossing. All in all, a CHEESY effort.

Hungry Mother 12:10 PM  

Very quick for me this morning. I started around 5 am, went out to run a 5 mile race, and then finished up while icing my legs. Very nice theme, tough enough, but helpful. The hames almost got me, but a wag at the end finished it off.

pwoodfin 12:11 PM  

That's the one that got me too! WHA?

GHarris 12:48 PM  

@Ry
21 was a popular tv quiz show back in the 60’s that turned out to be rigged.

Joe in Nfld 12:55 PM  

Thanks Wim C. - yes, a spoiler.
I thought SMALLAS was terrible. Shouldn't "Loos" indicate an abbreviation? Or is WC a word now? Other than that, not too bad.
ps could you simplify your 'capcha'? or do you get so much spam? I had to click 25 "images containing a road" to get through.

Stanley Hudson 1:27 PM  

What @Mohair Sam said about required reading. I’d place Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning in that hopper as well.

“The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” was released 55 years ago today. Opening track: “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO THOUGHT STENS WAS A LOSER!! I guess.

LHS 888 2:07 PM  

Thanks @Lewis & @Wm. C. for clueing me into ELIE WIESEL. Boy is THAT a gap in my education! Give all the honors he has received over the years I feel like a boob for being completely unaware, but unaware I have most definitely been. Mea maxima culpa.

sixtyni yogini 2:15 PM  

Snap! Hated it!

(Well, frankly, just boring...)

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Great insights, Molly!

Joe Bleaux 2:20 PM  

Elie Wiesel ... "she"? Sheesh.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

@Anon 1:41 - stens is crosswordese. You find sten guns in the puzzles all the time.
For old-timers it's a loser (because crosswordese) but also a gimme (because very familiar).
For noobs, it's a loser (because unheard of) but also a loser (because the editor & constructor discount its unfamiliarity and so produce unfair crossings).

These statements apply to all proper crosswordese, whether proper nouns, obscure specialized lingo, obsolete items, brands, wordforms...anything crossworders know from doing crosswords but not from real life.

Stanley Hudson 2:31 PM  

@LHS 888, it’s a cliche on this blog but it’s true—we each have knowledge gaps. Now you can add to your summer reading list. šŸ˜€ šŸ§

Kimberly 2:50 PM  

It felt a bit awkward to me because the theme answers were grammatically inconsistent and didn’t seem at all cohesive. Some of them seemed quite a stretch to make fit. It’s certainly an impressive feat but it felt like an idea that was half-formed. Mostly, though, it didn’t feel like a Sunday. I’m realizing that NYT is dropping the clever, tricksy Thursday/Sunday puzzles (the whole world settles for less everywhere, why not here, too), but I will never stop missing living in a world that appreciates clever things.

Banana Diaquiri 3:11 PM  

@michiganman:
One more Harley thing. If the riders of these noise machines are concerned about safety, why don't they wear helmets. Good question, eh? Michigan and many other states do not have helmet laws. Personally I do not support helmet laws.

along with many other scofflaw behaviors, it's simple: if you get head injured, but don't have a helmet, you get left at the scene. tough love. rugged individualism at its acme.

Slow Motion 3:27 PM  

Hey @michiganman, a joke you’ll appreciate, from a former Harley rider: Q:What’s the difference between a Hoover and a Harley? A: The position of the dirtbag.

pabloinnh 4:52 PM  

I liked this one just fine and mostly filled things in about as fast as I could write, or cross check another clue, write that in, and then go back one, and so on.

I'm fine with "the river" for El Rio and would appreciate clues like "big river" for Rio Grande and "the angels" for Los Angeles and "St. Francis" for San Francisco, among many others. Suppose this could be a theme, but probably only of interest into those of us who are into Spanish.

NH does not have a motorcycle helmet law and many riders do not wear them. I only hope all these riders have wonderful health insurance and do not rely on emergency rooms.

Renee Arnold 5:05 PM  

Elie Wiesel was a famous Holocaust survivor.

Linda 5:11 PM  

I thought today's puzzle was surprisingly easy - except that I put in "govs" for 89D and thought 97A "eoro" or, as I read it, "e-oro," could be a Spanish electronic currency.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Wow. Lots of compassion for motorcycle riders. Nice to know only the virtuous deserve medical care.
I have no love for Harleys and theres no doubt many of those who ride them are worthy of scorn. And lots of it. As for why Harleys are loud, the reaon is that many owners run the w straight pipes. No sound dampening. As noted in most places this is illegal. Why cops dont ticket for tbe offense more often is a mystery.
For those interested there is a reason for the sound a Harley engine makes (as opposed to the exhaust note). Its related to the (narrow) angle of the v twin engine. The firing of the cylinders at that particular angle gives it the familiar "potato, potato" sound.
I ride. Hope I never have any of you kind folks in the ER if the day comes whe some old lady makes a left hand turn into me then claims " I JUST NEVER SAW Him"

Anonymous 5:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Banana Diaquiri 6:17 PM  

Anon/5:23
Nice to know only the virtuous deserve medical care.

virtue has nothing to do with it. it's called, as the econ types call it, extorted externalities; i.e. not paying for the costs your behavior imposes. lots of folks (my sister in San Diego, for instance) resent that immigrants get Medicaid (they actually don't). or that anyone gets Medicaid. so: why should folks stupid enough to travel with an exposed skull at 80 mph get fixed up when s/he hits a tree? as I said: rugged individualism; if they distain a helmet to protect their little grey cells, why should the rest of us to pay to put them back together again???? keep to your principles, dude. (yes, that's an allusion to "In Bruges").

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

Banana,
You claim youre not imposing avirtue test, then apply one. That is since tbe rider didnt wear a helmet society has no interest , or at least obligation, to care for the numbskull.
I see it different tban you and john sfuart mill. I say the injured deserve care. Tbat includes treating smokers w lung cancer, drinkers w cirhosos, and mltor yclists witb head trauma.
Im fully aware of the economic models you cite. They dont apply.

sanfranman59 7:35 PM  

@Stanley Hudson ... Hear! Hear! re Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning". His book moved me in a way that very few have.

John Hoffman 7:48 PM  

Did not finish: I was done in by the crossing of ENGRAM and SCRIES.

Roo Monster 8:22 PM  

Hey All !
No one has mentioned that complete rotational symmetry of todays puz. Yep, up/down, left/right. Neat looking grid, and cool to see. (For me, anyway.)

Sure there's dreck, but willing to let it slide for such a nice 21-packed-theme. All puzs have some dreck. It's tough not to. Maybe a PB1 themeless puz might not have any, or maybe a Barry Silk. (Whatever happened to him?) But, normally, there will be some. Just sayin'. :-)

Wonder how many states and/or countries Andrew searched for for the 1A clue? A LOAD? Har.

Knew ENGRAMs from Star Trek Next Generations Data. That one scene from that one movie, you know, "I seem to be missing some memory ENGRAMs" Geordi opens his palm with three or four computer bits. "Ah, there they are."

TEN LB GOOFS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Cato Rosenbaum 8:43 PM  

Hey, Stuart Showalter, sorry that Rex didn’t like your puzzle once, but the bee in your bonnet would be less obvious if you ever ever ever ever ever posted when Rex liked a puzzle. Just as an FYI

Big J 8:54 PM  

Hi, Y'all


I thought Sunday puzzle were supposed to be FUN and ENJOYABLE. This one was Neither!

Bye.

Banana Diaquiri 9:07 PM  

@anon/6:55
You claim youre not imposing avirtue test, then apply one. That is since tbe rider didnt wear a helmet society has no interest , or at least obligation, to care for the numbskull.

then you didn't vote for Trump or the other right wingers? yes?? it doesn't work if the majority are required to be generous and the minority are greedy. it is said that we can't legislate morality, but bailing out the stupid and greedy is just that. don't wear a helmet, you own your injuries. you can't have it both ways. Mill, btw, was a classic liberal. not a Trumpista, in whose era we now live. if we allow numbskulls to reproduce, what happens to the species?

Calman Snoffelevich 9:15 PM  

87A isn't accurate. 21 in Blackjack is not always a winning total, as it could be a push (if you get 21 without having Blackjack and the dealer does the same).

Anonymous 3:01 AM  

@LHS 888 - Appreciated your gracious post.

Stuart Showalter 8:16 AM  

A) I have done so a few times; and

B) I’m not a constructor, so your premise is bogus.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Arriving late to the comments, but for what it's worth, loved @Larry Gilstrap's comments, also @puzzle hoarder, and also loved the interplay between LHS888 and her responders. Nice to see a non-confrontational exchange.

William Coddington 3:18 PM  

Hahaha! Scoops aplenty from Holy Moly!!

kitshef 8:06 PM  

STIERS/CLEA were both unknown to me, but 'E' seemed most likely.

Michael McCormick 11:29 PM  

Got it.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

An RN I knew who worked in a Neuro ICU called all motorcycles "donorcycles".

Diana,LIW 12:42 PM  

Full disclosure - I got all but the ADELE ALBUM, so another horseshoes day for me.

As I've oft said, I take @Rex's rants as a kind of Lewis Blackian comedy routine of crosswords. But only when he's funny. Today? Not so much. He sounded dull - much more dull than the puzzle - again, my opin only.

And - funny that obscure fill is oft filled in by many as run-of the-mill info. Today, I knew the "obscure" stuff dead on. "cept for CLEA - but STEIRS flashes on the screen every day in reruns. Come on. And SNCC and SLIWA are at least as famous as the latest rapper or 1920's movie star (not to mention Greek gods of toe fungus.) (Or "Urdu for 'I think I left the kettle on.'")

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 12:45 PM  

SLOB SWILLS CASEOF HAMS

After NEARLY ONETOOMANY I'll STAREAT RITA'S ELITE BREASTs,
IFNOT SMALLAS most any, YET she'll pass the TAVERN'S EYETEST.

--- REP. SYDNEY JETSON

spacecraft 12:52 PM  

Too bad Mr. Chaikin is not one of OFL's friends. He had this offering skewered bigtime--and he didn't deserve it. This was actually one of the cleaner, least-sloggy Sundays in recent memory. There were some stretches in the fill, but at least they were new.

So he fudged the language a bit for some of the themers. That's to be expected if you want them to span exactly 21 letters. Give the guy a break. I'd say it was easy-medium for the day. A few spots of hesitation--such as parsing HISPEED, but generally smooth.

I liked it; enjoyed doing it. Newcomers are always welcome to the DOD stage; today we honor CLEA Duvall. Birdie--and hey, how about that Tiger? Is he ba-a-ack??

AnonymousPVX 1:02 PM  

It’s a week later here in Charleston, not gonna read all the comments but....

The winning total in blackjack is the highest total, with 21 as the most. As everyone knows. So the answer should be “highest blackjack total” as 21 is the most you can get with busting. But the winner could be anything, 16 could win.

Lots of stuff I haven’t seen before ever....Terni, anyone?

rondo 1:14 PM  

Let's see - ATATIME, ONETIME, ONETOOMANY. ISITI? ITIS. Or AINT. ATNO time call ITA great puz. DIDDY hafta do that stuff? And SCRIES, and DRILY again. USTED TRISTE OESTE. TSK, TSK. Of course, I had the Raiders in the Afc before ATF.

My paper did OMIT the u before nite in the SLOGANS clue, so I thought maybe something funny was up there. But NOT.

LSATS are for aspiring law students, not D.A.s. Besides, the real BRAINS go into private practice, the others into civil service OCCs.

I saw "21 Grams" and CLEA Duvall is nowhere near the top of the credits list. Anyway both of the RITAS earn a yeah baby.

TGI over.

rondo 1:49 PM  

BTW - I pity the Fu who next appears in a puz clue.

rainforest 3:33 PM  

A very impressive grid and a medium difficulty made this a pleasurable Sunday outing.
Some awkward wording in the clues for the themers, and I wondered why the constructor didn't say, for 106A, "...THEmE answers". Then I saw that JETSON spanned two themers and, I think, saw that it would be impossible to change that. Constructing's gotta be difficult.

I liked it and applaud both the idea and the execution.

William Heyman 5:11 PM  

Twenty-six years in the artillery, from private to colonel, and there is usually not 21 guns in a salute. Usually only one battery of six howitzers, and they go down the line, then again, according to the number needed. 11 guns for a one-star. When Hawaii came into the union, a fifty gun salute, from six howitzers. They are probably still cleaning the tubes.

fakt chekker 6:36 PM  

A 21-gun salute is the most commonly recognized of the customary gun salutes that are performed by the firing of cannons or artillery as a military honor.
On Memorial Day, batteries on military installations fire a 21-gun salute to the nation's fallen. As well, batteries at Naval stations and on ships, fire a salute of 21-minute guns and display the ensign at half-mast from 8 a.m. until completion of the salute.[citation needed]
Today, a 21-gun salute is rendered on the arrival and departure of the President of the United States; it is fired in concordance with four ruffles and flourishes, which are immediately followed by "Hail to the Chief"—the actual gun salute begins with the first ruffle and flourish, and 'run long' (i.e. the salute concludes after "Hail to the Chief" has ended). A 21-gun salute is also rendered to former U.S. Presidents, foreign Heads of State (or members of a reigning royal family), as well as to Presidents-elect. In such a ceremony, the national anthem of the visiting dignitary's country is played, following the salute.[citation needed]

Julie Stivers 2:08 PM  

'mericans.. I always look for your posts here. Enjoy your tales very much.

tamir 12:35 PM  

Merry Christmas,
Very nice and informative post. Please keep it up. If you want to read funny christmas wishes you have to see the link
Thank you,

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