Asian berry marketed as superfood / SUN 7-1-18 / Certain Spanish murals / One who went a courtin in children's song / Metaphorical time in hell / Guido painter of crucifixion of st peter / Lily Potter's maiden name in Harry Potter books / Another name for porpoise dolphin

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:10)


THEME: "Driving Around" — theme answers have to go "around" a vehicle (in circled squares) by way of a PASSING LANE (109A: It's left on a highway ... or a path used by five answers in this puzzle?); that is, clued answer briefly leaves its row and goes up into the row above it, only to return to its original row after it has cleared the "vehicle" ("vehicle" conveniently creates a real, if unclued, answer in the original theme answer row):

Theme answers:
  • NOTABIGDEAL
  • PLAYINGCARD ("PLAYING DEAD" passes "CAR")(23A: Trying to show no signs of life)
  • STAGEDOOR
  • LOGCABIN ("LOGGED IN" passes "CAB"(28A: Began a PC session)
  • POTTEDPLANT
  •    HAVANANS ("HAD PLANS" passes "VAN"(68A: Was forced to turn down an invitation)
  • NOOUTLET
  • BLOCKBUSTER ("BLOCK LETTER" passes "BUS")(69A: Big character?)
  •  UNTANGLE
  • STRUCKOIL ("SUNTAN OIL" passes "TRUCK"(108A: Bottle for a beachgoer)

Word of the Day: ADC (7D: General's assistant: Abbr.) —
(abbr. for aide-de-camp) noun
  1. a military officer acting as a confidential assistant to a senior officer. (google)
• • •


This is a well-made puzzle, especially for a Sunday, but I did not particularly enjoy it. Too many answers and gimmicky clues were just irking me a little too much. It's a taste / wavelength thing, though; I know that. The theme is pretty ambitious and neatly executed. You could say there are "only" five theme answers, but since all those answers are essentially stacked answers (so, two answers), and since there's also a revealer, there's really quite a lot of theme material. And even with that theme density, the grid manages to feel airy, and there are a lot of showy non-theme answers, especially in the Downs.  WHERE IT'S AT, CARBO LOAD, and TIGHT RACE are all lovely. The puzzle overall just wasn't for me. Hate UNPC  (because I hate the bogus term "PC," for ... well, reasons), and hate ADC (because holy crappy abbr., Batman), and DAY DRINK just depresses me, the way the crossword's whole jokey way of dealing with drunks depresses me. I really like drinking, but get kinda bummed when the puzzle seems to deal flippantly with alcoholism. Really piling on with GET LIT. And then there's the barfing (EMETIC). It's a bit much. (Remember, these are just personal feelings, not Inherent Flaws in the Puzzle) (although ADC is an Inherent Flaw, wtf).


I call down fire and brimstone and all manner of B.S. on SEAPIG (94D: Another name for a porpoise or dolphin). You know, there is such a thing as adding *too many* things to the wordlist in your constructing software. Discriminate. Dial it back a skosh (sp?). HVAC stands for ... what? (92D: Sort of rooftop unit, familiarly). Something something air conditioning? Something vacuum? Huh, it's "heating, ventilating, and air conditioning." HUAC is better. GUAC is better. Most things are better. HVAC beats ADC, but that's about all it beats. SERTS (47D: Certain Spanish murals) crossing LACUNAR (55A: Relating to gaps) seems potentially lethal, as "lacuna" is pretty obscure in its non-adjectival form, and SERT is known to most of us *only* because we've been solving crosswords for years/decades. I can see some smart neophyte putting an "L" in the last position there, is what I'm saying. AHEMS in the plural, never not ridiculous. And I'm not really feeling LAME (or SO LAME) as an insult any more. Disabled friends talked me out of it a while ago. I'm not offended, but ... I dunno. I probably wouldn't use it. And poker lingo ... not my thing. It's like golf for me, in that I ... it ... it's just not where it's at, for me. I mean, I know the basic poker stuff you see in crosswords, but to me, RUN GOOD is something an old truck might do. Poker shmoker (87D: Enjoy consistent, favorable luck, in poker lingo).


Got thrown by some of the two-word answers, like ROLL BY (49D: Elapse, as years) and ON STILTS (80D: Like many clowns and beachside houses) and STOOP TO (79A: Go as far down as). Those last two crossed, so I really had to fight my way through there. Also went down ACAI alley there at 33A: Asian berry marketed as a "superfood" (GOJI). I knew ACAI was probably not "Asian," but four-letter superfood berry ending in "I" ... my fingers just did their own, automatic thing there. Had another little trouble spot at ANAGRAM—even when I thought ANAGRAM might be in play, I was only looking at "president," and so couldn't see it. But I was leaving part of the ANAGRAM out—"Nerd's epithet" is an ANAGRAM of "THE president," not just "president." Nice. OK, that's all. Good to be back blogging after a week off (during which my mom visited, and my daughter graduated high school, and then wife daughter and I all went to Minneapolis for daughter's college orientation / friend-visiting).




[me and my best friends Shaun and Steve, at the Guthrie Theater]

Sometimes it's good to walk away for a little bit. Speaking of which, I'll be walking away again for a week later this month, so if you want to write for me, let me know. See you Tuesday (I get a regularly scheduled day off tomorrow, as it's Annabel Monday).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Thanks to Craig, Brian, Clare, Karen, Don, Ben, and Chris for covering for me this past week. Nice to know I can just hand the keys over and all will be well.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

128 comments:

OISK 12:18 AM  

SRSLY?? That's really my only complaint, and not remembering "Reni," that section (Leto??) gave me a lot of trouble. But I got it. It took me a very long time to catch the "trick" to the puzzle, searching around for a section containing circled letters that I could complete. Finally got it in the lower left, where I struck oil, and saw the suntan. Never heard of GOJI, but the crosses gave it to me.

Haven't posted of late, but I haven't had much to complain about.

mmorgan 12:35 AM  

Lots of good stuff, some ouches and some oofs, but Rex is back!

TomAz 1:10 AM  

Today I'm very much on Rex's wavelength rather than the puzzle's. The gimmick here was tougher for me than it should have been. I put in PLAYING DEAD straight across and thought maybe we were in for some federal surveillance stuff... DEA CIA NSA FBI etc. I saw pretty quickly that that was wrong but couldn't get the right thing for the life of me...

... in large part because even now I have no idea what ADC is an acronym for. oh. aide-de-camp. the 36th possible item listed on the Wikipedia disambiguation page. Rex is right, that's really bad. See, ADC by itself in an inconspicuous place would be just sort of annoying, but its strategic placement -- the first cross in the first place where the gimmick kicks in -- @#$%! argh. If that was done that way on purpose to make the puzzle harder, then **** *** to the constructor and editor. If it was just overlooked, then just the editor is at fault.

otherwise though this had some fine fill. It could have been a pleasant solve if not for ADC. and also the LACUNAR/SERTS cross. been doing these for 10 years and don't remember Senor Serts. LACUNAl/SElTS seemed equally plausible, I had to guess.

C-

puzzlehoarder 1:19 AM  

If someone told Salome to "go out there and break a leg" would she wind up SOLAME? It seems a legitimate question with so many tripping points in the puzzle. To start with you have to figure out how the cicles work with the easy theme answers that don't mesh with their crosses.

The first two almost went in off the crosses before I finally got it at HADPLANS. I still had to fix an EECH typo at 26D and 7D stayed AD_ until I was sure all the circled squares we're vehicles. ADJ/ADC are one of those either/or choices. As abbreviations for adjutant and aide-de-camp they could both work for the clue.

I've got SERT down, RENI not so much. EVANS exceeded my Potter trivia range. I did like seeing it over DARKARTS. It used to be a sure thing that if you had a 4 space berry ending with an I it was ACAI. Starting today you now have to check the crosses.

That's pretty much how the rest of the solve went. Nothing a little extra work couldn't fix.

SEAPIG, DAYDRINK and RUNGOOD are all comprised of common words. While they might be used out in the wild they look like Martian speak to me. As for PARTAY just yuck.

I got the happy music on the last square to go in. Time to GETLIT on a GIMLET.

JOHN X 2:30 AM  

There's the Rex I love to read, gettin' all riled up over stupid little shit. That's great. The guest bloggers were very nice and capable but not nearly ornery enough. Think about it.

I liked this puzzle a lot as soon as I figured out the gimmick (which took a while) but then it seemingly took forever to solve the middle. I had ACAI in there and STARRED instead of USHERED really messed things up for a long time. Also, I was one of those smart neophytes who put an L at the end of LACUNAR (I had an E there before that - genius).

I didn't realize this was the 4006th NYT puzzle I've solved on my iPad, or that I solved the 4000th one the other day. I would have had an elaborate ceremony if I'd known. Here's a screen shot of my stats page as of right now:

https://s5.postimg.cc/cdh6f9ztj/IMG_6418.png

Robin 2:33 AM  

Helluva crossword for Naticks.

You've got the obvious SERTS/LACUNAR cross, which some folks might have gone for SELTS/LACUNAL. (Assuming they recalled what a lacuna might be.)

But then there was the HVAC/ERVIN cross. Which bit my butt because I thought it was ERWIN. (Which to most of you clueless and younger-than-me folk, he's the guy who said ("A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money." And that was 1970s dollars.))

Anyway, meh.

diywriter 2:54 AM  

HVAC, usually pronounced "aitch-vac," is a very common term often used by folks who know even a little about remodeling or construction.

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

This was the first Sunday in a long time that didn't want to make me quit partway through. Usually I get tired of the crap on Sundays and just start googling answers to make the pain stop because they're so consistently awful. This one was good enough to stick with and solve without El Goog. I did run into the LACUNAl trap briefly but managed to see my way out of it without much trouble.

Anonymous 4:03 AM  

Deduced the theme at PLAYING (CARD) DEAD, but UGH! what a slog!

Don't understand SRSLY.

SERT is famous. HVAC is a generic term (heating, ventilating & air conditioning).

jae 4:03 AM  

Medium-tough. Clever, fun, and took some work, liked it.

Frank Birthdaycake 4:53 AM  

Fun puzzle. I really enjoyed the fill. So much, in fact, I blew through the whole puzzle without ever noticing the drive-arounds. Still, a nice way to start a Sunday.

Adam 5:28 AM  

Rex called me a smart neophyte! Definitely had Lacunal crossing Selts. As a (sorta) youth, I appreciated a lot of the fill, and the theme was better than average, at the least.

Lewis 6:08 AM  

Welcome back, Rex! It was obvious it was you after a few sentences, and I felt like I was back home.

The idea of the theme is terrific and fun, where you're literally passing a vehicle. The execution must have been a bear. First, you have to find words that have vehicles embedded, then find a common phrase that employs the first word with its vehicular letters omitted, then be sure you can make a second common word/phrase that has the needed letters embedded, then STACK the second word on top of the first, and make it all work five times! If that sounded complicated, it IS complicated and must have been very difficult to do, and props to Sam for pulling it off.

The puzzle has a mellow feel to me, easy like Sunday morning, can't put my finger on why, but Sam's puzzles usually do. While seeing some constructor's bylines set my nerves in fear mode, Sam's name puts me into a calm place coming into a puzzle, and there's something to be said for that (PB's puzzles do the same thing to me).

The ANAGRAM clue was a jaw-dropping wow, and there was that cute cross of UH HUH/THINK SO. Depending on your proclivities the ZEN/GRATE ON cross was either contradictory or right on the money.

The puzzle reminded me of two of my favorite things: GOJI berries, which are dried like raisins, and which have a sweet but not cloying taste -- addicting. And The LACUNA, my favorite Barbara Kingsolver book, a memorable read.

Mike E 6:25 AM  

Guess I'm getting old. A few too many ?/smartass clues for my taste. Stared at ANAGRAM forever. And seriously, SRSLY? That's a thing? And DAY DRINK? Who makes this stuff up? Got stuck at the LACUNAL/SERTS intersection and stumbled at the acai berry instinct until I had to look up GOJI berries after I was done. Maybe I should buy some so I can do these in my extreme senectitude. Got the theme idea right away and stuck in the probable vehicles as soon as one letter showed up, which was helpful. Otherwise, the whole thing seemed more of an exercise in how to clue more obliquely rather than cleverly.

Ben Sabol 6:36 AM  

First NYT Sunday theme I've enjoyed in a while. Clean, simple, provided an A-HA moment, and didn't rely on terrible puns.

HVAC is 100% okay in my book. ADC should be considered unprintable, but the crosses were easy enough that in this puzzle I basically ignored it.

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

Not sure I quite understand the "dis-banded" clue; didn't really like the unclued, unrelated theme answers (esp. HAVANANS);
not crazy about the drinking clues, especially the high-school friendly GET LIT (there's a difference between being edgy and
being juvenile); and finally, isn't it kind of a crossword sin to put clue word "Yeah THAT makes sense" into the answer, "I CAN
SEE THAT."

I don't enjoy only pointing out the possible flaws of this puzzle, but this just felt very two-dimensional.

Also: "CAB" felt like an uninspired vehicle choice. Taxi better, รœber, even more so; yes. รผber is edgy.

tc

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

HVAC is a standard, oft-used acroynm---but the rest of this puzzle sucked.

Loren Muse Smith 7:27 AM  

Welcome back, Rex. Congrats to your daughter! University of Minnesota, huh? Wonder if she’ll have our own @Dr. Barany for chemistry…?

SRSLY? I thought there’d be way more Wows. It is so cool. Now *this* is a Sunday puzzle! I have to reiterate what @Lewis pointed out because what Sam did is so remarkable (and because I pretty much wrote the same thing before I read his comment)…

Just think a minute what it took to do this:

1. Find some full-on, in-the-language phrases that embed a vehicle that you’d pass on the road. LOG CABIN.

2. Find another in-the-language phrase with the same number of letters, but with the vehicle part switched out: LOGGED IN.

3. Arrange the grid so that these two parts stack.

4. Make sure one of these dual phrase pairs has only 11 letters to match the reveal.

This is really hard. Just to play around with it, say you wanna use

SEDAN. Ok. So you get RAISED ANCHOR. So then you have to find a phrase RAI _ _ _ _ _ CHOR.

Or

BIKE… NAIROBI KENYA. So then you have to find a phrase for NAIRO _ _ _ _ YA

See? Impossible. Kudos to Sam for getting this idea and gridifying it. I loved this.

@diywriter - I’m with you – HVAC is totally in my language. And, hey, we have DUCT in the grid, too.

I liked STOOPED TO crossing ON STILTS.

And the clues for USHERED, STAGE DOOR, and, of course, ANAGRAM were terrific.

Rex – If you squint your eyes, you can see a lot of drinking stuff here: POTTED, PARTAY, TIGHT, SOLO cup… Heck, even TRUTH SERA. In vino veritas and all that.

I gobble up Fred Piscop’s Split Decisions puzzles. If you liked this trick, you should look into those. They’re the bomb.

Sam – thanks for this Sunday tour de force. Excellent.

Dolgo 7:30 AM  

Hey. After all these years thinking SERT was only a crossword puzzle word, I actually visited his home (now a museum) on a recent trip to Madrid. I have to say NOTABIGDEAL. I didn't care much for his art. I don't think you would find his stuff anywhere if he hadn't left an endowment for the museum!

007 7:34 AM  

I am with anonymous at 6:49. Been doing the NYT puzzle for decades. Shocked that 113 across had a clue word in the answer. The H was the last box I filled in as I saw no other choice. Where’s the outrage?

Jofried 7:46 AM  

I had so much fun with this! I thought it was really clever and well executed. And I knew Rex was back within a few sentences just from the complaining about the puzzle!

QuasiMojo 7:48 AM  

Welcome back, Rex! We missed you. I realize you need a break as much as the next guy, or gal, but keep in mind, that we donate to read your take on a puzzle, not someone else's.

ADC seems like perfectly normal crossword fill to me. Why the complaints? Same with HVAC. If one is going to allow for a seemingly endless amount of abbreviations and acronyms in the puzzle these days, there's no sense in cherry-picking them to fit inside your own wheelhouse.

My big horror in completing today's puzzle was finding out that Darth Vader was Luke's father! I had no idea. Talk about letdowns.

While I had no idea what the theme was when I entered in my answers, and managed to finish the puzzle in my usual Sunday time, I have to agree with LMS that this one exuded some legitimate WOW-factor and deserves a bit more respect. "It may bring a tear to one's eye" alone made it worth the effort.

mbr 7:54 AM  

@Anonymous 6:49: If you're a member of a band, it could break up and you could go SOLO.

Sue 8:06 AM  

Sorry, I still don't get the theme answers. I got the circled ones, sure, but I don't get the passing ones, despite the color coding. I did finish the puzzle, though, and I thought it was pretty easy and BORING... And... I HATED SEAPIG.

Mark Twain 8:11 AM  

RP:
That's St Anthony Falls and the great Mississippi behind your shot from the Guthrie.

Adam Jaffe 8:19 AM  

I had one mistake that I simply couldn't find, and after resorting to checking the puzzle, it was indeed LACUNAR/SERTS. I feel better after your "smart neophyte" comment.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I’m always amazed HVAC doesn’t show up more in crosswords. For what it’s worth, I worked in energy efficiency for about a decade and HVAC is completely standard word to me. HVAC, SEER, LEDs and CFLs, T5s, T8s, RTU...I don’t know, there’s an entire trove of crappy acronyms in building efficiency I rarely see get used.

Suzie Q 8:23 AM  

I guess I'm too stupid to be doing puzzles because my grid was complete and correct but I still didn't get it.
There were times I wondered if I even had the right set of clues/answers. What an idiot. Why am I fessing up? No idea but now I'm going to put on my dunce cap and slink off to a corner somewhere.
This would have been a great Sunday puz if only I had gotten the joke.
Sea pig is awful. Is that for real?
I guess the lonely red bean is OK...if you eat your Creole food with chopsticks.

JHC 8:27 AM  

I enjoyed this theme, had a nice "a-ha" moment when I (finally) figured it out. But wouldn't it have been even better with the theme answers going down, so that the "passing" parts could literally pass on the left (instead of over the top)?

Usually when I push back on Rex with a "just because you don't know it doesn't make it not a thing," it's about Broadway clues. This time it's about HVAC. Definitely A Thing. A super-common term in facilities maintenance/management. Put it this way - I play poker casually and have never heard the phrase RUN GOOD. So I'm going to bet that there are at least as many people adjacent enough to facilities management to make HVAC a gimme as there are poker players committed enough to know RUN GOOD.

Congratulations to Rex's daughter!

FLAC 8:29 AM  

@Robin 2:33A -- I believe it was Everett Dirksen who said "a billion here, etc." Sam Ervin was the "simple country lawyer" from North Carolina who headed the Senate Watergate inquiry. These days, I miss him.

Great puzzle by the way, Rex's cavils notwithstanding. Sometimes I think he just feels obligated to bitch.

Z 8:48 AM  

PASSING LANE on the left!?! SRSLY, have you driven on an American freeway lately? An Indiana State Trooper went viral last week when he tweeted about pulling over a minivan driving in the left lane, backing up at least 20 cars behind them. The Hosanas were universal. I’m generally in the 85th percentile* speedwise when I’m driving and I’d guess somewhere between ⅛th and 1/6th of my passes are on the right. The revealer clue got a chuckle from me.

Anyway, pretty much what Rex said except I enjoyed it. The vehicles, the PASSING, the unclued theme words being actual words and phrases, it all made me smile enough that the flaws barely registered. This is a rare thing for me on a Sunday.

DNF, but not because I am a “smart neophyte,” but because I glossed over the clue and thought it was looking for LACUNAs or LACUNAe. Neither looked right but SEeTS looked less wrong. Not really a true natick, but still very naticky.















*It has been suggested that speeding tickets generally are awarded to the fastest 15%. Between that and being a middle aged white guy I’ve logged several 10s of thousands of highway miles at above the posted limit with not so much as being pulled over in the past decade.

Small Town Blogger 8:51 AM  

No it didn’t. Answer is “I can see that” - where do you see a word from the clue?

Ocdmuch 8:55 AM  

Did it bother anyone else that it seemed to take longer to pass the van than all the other theme vehicles?

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Showing my very specific age here, but in my world "ADC" was an abbreviation some company like Maxwell House or Folger's tried to make into a Thing back when Automatic Drip Coffee makers came into wide usage in the mid 1970s...

'merican in Paris 9:02 AM  

35°C (95°F) in the shade here in Paris today. Our tenth straight day (at least) of sunny and warm weather.

Thanks to @Lewis an @LMS for pointing out the difficulty of constructing a puzzle like this with passing lanes. I was hoping to see TRAM, but BUS was close enough. I can imagine that if somebody thought that the answer to 69A ("Big character?") was the straight in-line BLOCK-BUSTER (get it? BUSTER, some character, who is built like a BLOCK of granite?), that they wouldn't notice the trick and have a hard time picking up on it at the other theme answers. Not a criticism, just an observation.

I share others' disdain for the cluing of SEA PIG. A SEA PIG is indeead a thing, but its much more "common" meaning (and I use that word advisedly) is for Scotoplanes globosa, a genus of deep-sea sea cucumber, which has a translucent, pinkish body, tube feet, and tentacle-like thinks coming out of its head. Kind of like the Flying Spaghetti Monster of Pastafarianism fame. Among its more endearing qualities is that it is fond of feeding on rotting corpses. Now you know.

ADC doesn't bother me any more than a lot of other three-letter abbreviations that appear in the NYT puzzles. I'm more bothered by "Me and my best friends ... ".

Spain plays Russia in an hour. I'm not hoping that Spain takes the World Cup again but, for this game, I'm for any team that isn't Russia.

Oops, gotta go. There seems to be somebody trying to kick down my door ... .

Nora Bensahel 9:07 AM  

While I admire the construction, I was frustrated that I solved the whole thing without understanding what the passing lane meant for the theme clues. I knew the answers were right, but I didn’t know why.

A sure sign I spend too much time around military people: I assumed ADC stood for Assistant Division Commander (always a one-star general working for a more senior general). Have never, ever, never heard it used to mean aide de camp. Banish that meaning now, all ye constructors!

Nancy 9:08 AM  

Wow! Another brilliant puzzle that was above my pay grade. Not to solve -- I did [almost] solve, with the exception of GObI/bAR instead of GOJI/JAR since I prefer a BAR to a JAR in my pantry -- but in understanding. I knew exactly what the substitutions were, but I couldn't figure out why. All I knew was that I had a lot of assorted vehicles in the tiny little circles. (Today, btw, I didn't even mind the tiny little circles.)

Wasn't it @Tita who said that unless you grok the theme, you haven't solved the puzzle -- even when you've filled in all the squares correctly? So by that way of thinking, my failure was a lot greater than one wrong letter. It's my Visualization Handicap yet again. I just can't visualize worth a damn. Never even saw the substituted-for letters floating above. Sigh.

Like @OISK (Welcome back, @OISK; where ya been?) I hated SRSLY. Other than that, very crunchy, very tricky, very perplexing. Terrific Sunday!

Birchbark 9:11 AM  

What's not to like today -- figured out the theme early, used it to solve, reworked problem areas successfully, and Minneapolis is photogenic, even if photos don't memorialize the high-90s and humid part.

The Stone Arch bridge in the background of @Rex's Guthrie Theater picture was built by St. Paul titan James J. Hill of the Great Northern Railroad. You could argue that the bridge, now a scenic walkway, opened up the Pacific Northwest via the upper Mississippi to timber and grain commerce, and all the good and bad that went with it. It certainly built Mr. Hill a big house on Summit Avenue.

PARTAY may be quite a bash in slang, but SEAM RIPPER would be even more so.

Teedmn 9:20 AM  

I might as well have been PLAYING DEAD (or CARDs) during this puzzle - 5 minutes over my usual time and I just wasn't getting the trick. I blame 28A - LOGgedIN. I had figured out that the circles contained vehicle types which led to a real phrase replacing the clued phrase but I paid no attention to the revealer, the PASSING LANE, because the missing GED of LOGGED IN was over at 33D. So I started thinking the missing parts would be found somewhere random in the puzzle. I got it in the end, but not until after I left in TRUTHSERs because maybe the AY of TRUTH SayERs was somewhere else in the puzzle? and 76D was S'OK (for "Peachy"). So that was my DNF of the day. But this puzzle was A-OK in my book.

Hah, @Rex's photos of Minneapolis hot spots: I was just at the Sculpture Garden (hi @r.alph!) 3 weekends ago.

And @Rex's link to the Laura Marling song really shows how my relationship with music has changed from the days of albums and radio play. I love Laura Marling and I own the CD that song comes from but when I hit "play" on the link, I had no idea what song was going to play because I never know the names of songs anymore. It just so happens that I know "Don't Pass Me By" well enough to sing along with it but I had no idea that was what it was called. Take any Radiohead song - the song names rarely tell me what the song is about .I miss being more involved with particular songs and album names, those days where you knew what the song was called because it was in the chorus 15 times (okay, I don't really miss that :-). )

73A, CAT TOYS (BIG CATS??) got me almost as good as GOJI did (ACAI all the way, and since when did we need another super food? I haven't even tried ACAI yet!) Only SO LAME saved me from leaving in CoTTony there longer than I already had. Also PETRAEUS helped there but the years ROLLing on certainly didn't.

I AHoyed when I should have AHEMmed. I had LACUNic which created a big gap in I WiNNA and SE?TS over at 46 and 47D. I liked the clue for STAGE DOOR.

Sam Trabucco, this was definitely not a ZERO SUM game of a puzzle, nice job.

And I hope @Rex's daughter enjoys her time at the U of M. It's a really nice campus, much improved from when I matriculated there 40 years ago this year, yikes!

oopsydeb 9:28 AM  

Took me forever to get the theme, which caused a lot of frustration when I couldn't get my down answers to work for across answers I just knew were right. Finally figured it out-ish and now land firmly in the clever and well executed camp.

Hated GET LIT but was fine with DAY DRINK (which I will be doing in about four hours at a dissertation defense celebration brunch for a friend).

So surprised HVAC was a problem for folks. I am not in facilities management or construction. I just own a home. (I'm not even a smart home owner.)

Congrats to Rex's daughter!

Nancy 9:34 AM  

@Loren (7:27) -- I never read the blog until after I've posted my initial comment, so my "Wow" was entirely spontaneous and not elicited by your plaintive query.

In my enthusiasm for the entire puzzle, I forgot to single out the incredible clue for ANAGRAM (13D). @Lewis is right -- it's "jaw-dropping".

@Quasi (7:48) -- You are being facetious about the "horror" of finding out that Darth Vader is Luke's father, right? Meant nothing to me, although it's sort of in the zeitgeist that Luke is the hero of the piece and Darth is the villain. So that would be a really, really shocking turn of events, I suppose. [Yawn.]

Tim Aurthur 9:37 AM  

No problem with HVAC, since it's all over on panel trucks. I did, however have a problem with WIVE. The OED calls it "somewhat arch."

Speaking of arch, I wonder if it crossed Charlotte Bronte's mind to end her masterpiece with, "Reader, I husbanded him." If it did, she was right to reject it.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

ADC is the abbreviation for Aide de Camp. It didn’t seem particularly obscure or strange to me.

irongirl 10:10 AM  

Another smart neophyte here. Had the whole thing except for that L in "LACUNAL/SELTS." This one was so clever and fun to solve. My only gripe was the over-reliance on slang (PARTAY, BOOGIE, GETLIT, SRSLY, SOLAME) and on references to over-drinking, as Mr. Parker noted (Neophytes don't get to call him Rex).

James McEvoy 10:11 AM  

Rex totally named the LACUNAR/SERTS crossing issue. I've been doing the NYTimes puzzle consistently for exactly one year, and I got stuck at that point after putting in an "L" instead of an "R." Finished filling in the puzzle in near-record Sunday time, and then took about that same amount of time to figure out that error.

Sert is definitely going into my "I only know about this cultural reference because of crossword puzzles" book of knowledge.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

@Tim Aurthur (9:37)

I've come to WIVE it wealthily in Padua.
If wealthily, then happily, in Padua...


--Cole Porter, by way of Shakespeare

Anne Meilof 10:13 AM  

I don't understand how the clue for ANAGRAM is brilliant. Help :-(

bookmark 10:15 AM  

@Lewis: I also read Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, a novel about Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera.
That's how I got the clue.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Can someone explain the answer to 68 Across? Havanans?

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Can someone explain the answer to 68 Across?
Was forced to turn down an invitation = Havanans?

Adam Trotter 10:29 AM  

I dropped in LimiNAl for LACUNAR, and that tripped me up in that region more than it should have. Took way too long to get the nuances of the theme, other than "there's some vehicles intruding, somehow". DAY DRINKING is perfectly fine as long as you call it Sunday brunch.

Joe Dipinto 10:29 AM  

@STblogger 8:51 --

The 113a clue in the paper edition is "Yeah, that makes sense". Apparently "that" was later changed to "it". More of the careless editing we've come to expect.

Outside The Box 10:34 AM  

Worst Sunday puzzle ever. Cluung was absurd for the most part. Finished it, but a total bore.

Nancy 10:38 AM  

I'm going over the limit to answer two questions. (That's what a neighborly person does, right?)

@Anne Meilof (10:13) -- "Nerd's epithet" is an ANAGRAM for "the president".

@Anon (10:19) -- Replace the VAN of Havanans with the DPL above it, and you have HAD PLANS as the answer to "Was forced to turn down an invitation."

joebloggs 10:40 AM  

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Maruchka 10:43 AM  

'I had rather he should shrive me than WIVE me' - Portia, Act I, Scene II.

Now that's what I would call a bad first date.

Slog-fest here. Honestly, when it's this Tricky Dicky (shout out to Senator Sam - the Man!) I want to see some shading.

Is that too much to ask?

O Canada! Today's your day. A sane and progressive country, with a strong economy. Yes We Can, Too!

Billfishco 10:53 AM  

Spent 30 years before the mast and never heard of a SEAPIG. Sea cow (manatee) yes, one of which delayed an underway because it was between our ship and the pier. GRR. Shot plenty of TORPEDOES too!

Maruchka 10:53 AM  

P.S. HVAC is critical control in buildings, especially during this current heat wave. Breaking 100 today! (Helas, @'mericans)

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Looks like they fixed it - the iPhone app has “Yeah IT makes sense” as the clue.

RVA flier 10:56 AM  

Same.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Early on, I had "logGEDin" for 26A and I spent a long time trying to figure out what sort of theme was responsible for moving GED to 33D where it clearly belonged.

Is this bad editing, or did I just do a spectacular job falling into a hole of my own design?

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I too was tripped up by LACUNAR/SERTS, having put in the L in place of the R. I don’t mind being called smart, but I am not a neophyte!

On another topic, did no one else notice Lily Potter’s maiden name right above DARK ART?!

BobL 11:06 AM  

Yay, Rex is back!

Wm. C. 11:18 AM  


This was, BY FAR, the WORST Sunday puzzle I've ever done!

I got all the fill mostly by crosses, with a few by the logical fill in the changed horizontal. Even after finishing and staring at the puzzle for a small bit (I didn't have any desire to try to figure out tha trick, and maybe if I stared at a LONG longer I still wouldn't have gotten it), I couldn't see it, so I came here.

Just too complex a trick. Yeah, a clever piece of construction, but still ... I'm sure that many of you smiled at the AHA-moment, but not me!

Mary McCarty 11:35 AM  

Agree with JHC that the “passing lanes” would’ve worked better on the down answers so you really did have to veer left (instead of up) to avoid the vehicles in your way. Yes, moving left to right, “up” equals a “left turn”, but visually, it’s so UP... But agree with LMS et al. that it took some real brilliance to make the theme work. BTW, I didn’t even see the 5 “vehicles” til I read the review, so I guess that proves I’m not so brilliant. Then again, I’m one of those drivers who passes ANY slower vehicle, don’t care what it is—tho on my long treks down 5 in CA, it’s usually TRUCKS....And often TRUCKS trying to pass OTHER TRUCKS.๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿš›

JC66 11:45 AM  

Welcome back @Rex. We missed you.

The time off seems to have mellowed you (a little bit). No eruption about Fox News.



If you're driving West to East, you're passing on the left.

MickMcMick 11:49 AM  

Very good Sunday! If not not for the driving theme I would never have gotten havanans! Havanans? Don’t they live in Cuba? Otherwise I’m good. Nice pics Rex, welcome back

TubaDon 11:52 AM  

    A self-inflicted wound prevented me from guessing the theme until blockBUSter. ADJutant seemed like a more likely assistant than ADC, so for a while I was thinking skip the vehicle to get PLAYING-D and LOG-IN. Once that was cleared up and I got LACUNAR from crosses, everything went smoothly until I finally fixed another goof (which I shared with Rex), wanting ACAI at 33A, not realizing it was S. American.

Kimberly 11:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
FrankStein 11:56 AM  

If it's good enough for Kipling, it's good enough for me.

"In a little time," she said, "you'll know where to swim to, but just now we'll follow Sea Pig, the Porpoise, for he is very wise." THE JUNGLE BOOKS

Terry B 11:58 AM  

Ugh. Tedious. The "gimmick" in this puzzle was like a pun one has to explain before people get it. The NYT puzzle hasn't sparkled in a long time, and this is a fine example of how Shortz has moved into the Land of Puzzle Arcana. The solve is simply not worth it unless one has descended into a world where everyone spends half the day pondering the answers. Not clever, not funny, not educated, just Puzzle Arcana.

Sorry, but the NYT puzzle is starting to feel like listening to old geezers at a senior center.

thursdaysd 12:07 PM  

Sure I know HVAC, but in my part of the world (North Carolina) it has no connection whatever with roofs. My AC unit is outside on the ground and my gas furnace is inside on the ground floor.

Hated SRSLY, since I didn't know RENO or LETO either. And LACUNAR is ridiculous. Cringed at WIVE and SEAPIG, but the theme was cool.

jberg 12:10 PM  

DNF- just couldn’t see WIVE. Shoulda remembered Kiss MeLate. Fine puzzle though.

@Robin— always heard that as from Everett Dirksen.

Masked and Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Brilliant puztheme idea. Took a while for an even semi-brilliant solver to show up to solve it, at my house, tho. Was wonderin for the longest time why DEA was circled in the PLAYINGDEAD themer, e.g.

ADC gets staff weeject pick. It was extra-tough, on account of it jaywalkin across the road in that there DEA/CAR zone of M&A confusion. Wanted PVT or SGT or somesuch. Lost many valuable nanoseconds.

Hey! @RP! Turn around! [It's real good to see yer back!] har
Real good staff university pick, by Daughter of @RP. M&A lived somewhat nearby there for a spell, and enjoyed Minnesota thoroughly. Mucho congratz to her. And go Twins.

Was nice to see The Circles there, to greet @RP on his return. And this puztheme coulda been a BIG BIG bear, without the circles, btw.
Agree with his writeup, that LACUNAR/SERTS might cause some solvequest hiccups, for the non-puzveteran. M&A knew SERTS off the openin SE???, but LACUNAR still gave m&e fits, especially lyin near one of them themer hi-way zones of mystery.

Thanx for the spanky fun, Mr. Trabucco.

Masked & Anonymo11Us

LHS 888 12:26 PM  

DNF due to Natic at LACUNA_ / SE_TS cross. I wanted an E in there because I have seen LACUNAe in the wild, and SERTS was a complete WOE to me. Finally ran the alphabet to get the congratulatory message.

On the whole, I enjoyed the puzzle. It was slow but steady going until the last holdup. Oh, well.

GILL I. 12:40 PM  

Lots of hard stuff here and a million write overs. So...I get to the reveal and it's PASSING LANE. I'm not understanding a single thing until I went back up to 23A PLAYING CARD. I knew it had to be PLAYING DEAD so I go back to the answer on top and see the DEA. OOOH so that's it. Car passes on the left, and gets DEA and then drops back into his lane and gets the D. Cool!
Fun Sunday. Had to work hard but it was worth it. I think the only thing that I didn't like was SEA PIG. Not a chance in this world is a porpoise nor a dolphin bottom ocean feeders. As someone pointed out ('american?) they are sea cucumbers that eat all the junk on the bottom. I guess you could say a lobster is a SEA PIG..that's why I don't eat them.
So now I know GOJI and when I have. mimosa for brunch I DAY DRINK. Hell, I have a glass of wine for lunch with my friends.
@Susie Q. Using chop sticks with your RED BEAN was good. It intersects with HA.

pabloinnh 12:56 PM  

I can't speak for all old geezers, but I liked this one a lot. I've been doing books of past NYT Sunday puzzles and this felt like a good old-fashioned Sunday puzzle with an excellent trick to figure out and masterly construction.

Knew Sert and lacuna from the book of the same name and figured that if "lunar" is an adjective form, then "lacunar" made equal sense.

And Spain just lost, and it's really hot, so I have two reasons to go look for mucha cerveza bien fria.

clk 1:00 PM  

I messed myself up by putting in a final s for the Confession inducers answer, which led to the answer sOK, which seemed like a marginally plausible answer. How are things? ‘s OK. GRR for not reassessing my assumptions.
HVAC is a gimme. You had trouble with it, Rex? SRSLY?
Do military types actually use ADC or is it just an abbreviation/initialism of a military term?
Had to come here to fully grok the Nerd epithet answer. Terrific!

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

ps - it was kind of ironic that to prove I was not a
Robot I had to identify cars in the captcha boxes.

Conspiracy anyone?


tc

Dan Steele 1:17 PM  

Someone else probably mentions this below, but I'm pretty sure that was Everett Dirksen. If I'm wrong, I apologize.

famousperson 1:32 PM  

Yes, please! Is it because people from Cuba can't visit the US? SRSLY means nothing to me. ADC and HVAC were gimmes.

famousperson 1:37 PM  

@Nancy Thank you!!! I didn't get the theme even after I read the explanation. So you answered three questions!

Mohair Sam 1:47 PM  

Shortz probably made the "that/that" error at 113A while waiting for a flight at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport in Spain.

@Robin - That's attributed to Dirksen for sure, Wikiquotes says he never said the "real money" portion, but you can't rely on Wikiquotes (or Wiki anything for that matter).

@Rex - When your air conditioner blows a gasket tomorrow read the side of the van or panel truck that pulls into your driveway, do not call the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Tough puzz for us, but we persevered. We discovered every misdirect the hard way, and created a couple of our own - smart readers will buy Wite-Out stock before the market opens tomorrow. Loved the theme and found it early, but still we struggled. Only complaints were SRSLY and DAYDRINK (really?) - WIVE felt odd too.

Sam Trabucco puzzles always miss our wavelength, but they're always fun.

famousperson 1:48 PM  

SRSLY meant nothing to me, although I was able to fill it in, as I was with havanans from the downs. I never got the theme. ADC and HVAC were gimmes.

Sert is obscure unless you're an art buff, but lacunar just sounded right to me.

Suzy 2:41 PM  

Me, too! Not that difficult, just a real slog for me. Srsly?

Suzy 2:43 PM  

Finally got it— the aha moment! Now I feel even more foolish! Oh, well...

Anne Meilof 2:49 PM  

Ah-so (re ANAGRAM). I kind of like my husband's take: MAGA RAN.

thefogman 4:09 PM  

DNF. Almost got it all but stumped when I guessed LACUNAl and SElTS.

thefogman 4:19 PM  

Yes Rex.
I am that "smart neophyte"...

I can see some smart neophyte putting an "L" in the last position there, is what I'm saying.

sanfranman59 4:46 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 3:43 4:30 0.83 6.2% Easy
Tue 5:37 5:21 1.05 61.1% Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:44 6:39 1.01 57.4% Medium
Thu 16:24 9:33 1.65 94.4% Challenging
Fri 8:43 12:55 0.68 9.3% Easy
Sat 11:26 15:59 0.72 13.7% Easy
Sun 25:34 20:10 1.27 82.1% Challenging

This was a bit of a tussle for me, but I enjoyed the PARTAY. BOOGIE! GET LIT! I didn't completely nail down the theme until I was finished and enjoy puzzles that give me an aha moment like this one did. I wish I'd looked for the revealer once I realized that something weird was going on (i.e. almost immediately upon reading the first themer clue). Doing so probably would have help me to better suss things out.

There was a good bit of crunch here for me. Given all the PARTAY references in the grid, I was thinking a different kind of 'buzzed' for RANG (15A) and couldn't come up with anything. I had more trouble than I should have conjuring up RENI (21A), FROGGY (30A) and LACUNAR (55A) from the little grey cells. GOJI (33A) was acaI at first (not at all surprised that others did the same). My Harry Potter knowledge is very shallow, so EVANS (39A) was an unknown. ADC (7D), 'Senectitude' (10D) and NAHA (105D) were learning opportunities. I struggled with spelling the end of David PETRAEUS's (37D) name.

Two thumbs up ... except maybe for SEAPIG (???). I'm kind of a nature nerd and I don't recall ever hearing this term in reference to dolphins or porpoises. It looks like there's been a good bit of resistance to that one out here, so I'll join the mosh pile. Between this and yesterday's snafus, this hasn't been a banner weekend for Will's shop.

shaunreen 4:50 PM  

Someone please help me. I don't think I'm an idiot but other than Anne's tidbit of ANAGRAM= MAGA RAN, I'm lost. What is the reason for anagram being a nerd's epitaph for the president?

Teddi and Teddy 4:55 PM  

Never figured out theme until RP ( yay! He's back) enlightened us. Oh well, hands up for neophytes. Day drink ew.... But it's almost five.

JC66 5:05 PM  

@shaunreen

As someone else explained above THE PRESIDENT is an anagram of nerd's epitaph.

Loren Muse Smith 5:12 PM  

@shaureen, @JC66. The letters in “nerd’s epithet” can be rearranged to spell “the president.” @JC66 - I think your post got auto-corrected.

Nancy 5:14 PM  

Sigh. I'm back for a fifth time today because I know I can help @shaunreen (4:50) understand the nerd's epitaph ANAGRAM clue. @shaunreen -- Here are your instructions:

1) Write down "NERDS EPITAPH" on a piece of paper.
2) Take each successive letter in "THE PRESIDENT" and cross it off a corresponding letter in "NERDS EPITAPH". First the T. Then the H. Then the E. Then the P. Etc. When you are finished, all the letters in "nerd's epitaph will have been crossed out. Because the two phrases are anagrams of each other.

unicorns r us 5:15 PM  

Sea Pig? Honestly there is a real creature called seapig it is a sea cucumber. seapig is from the japanese only ridiculous clue and answer.

JC66 5:28 PM  

@Loren

Thanks. I just copied what @shaureen posted (epitaph) without checking what the clue really said (epithet). I feel better that @Nancy made the same mistake.

Loren Muse Smith 5:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RK Beatrice 5:30 PM  

If you're up for giving a trial blogging session to a total stranger/lurker, I'd be happy to. (I usually read on my phone, which is not conducive to commenting.) My qualifications are: good at writing, okay at crosswords, great at having opinions. hellobeatricks at gmail.com

JC66 5:39 PM  

@RK Beatrice

If you look at the top of @Rex's blog, to the right, under About Me, you'll find his email address.

Blue Stater 5:46 PM  

Just awful. Worst in years. Gimmicks inside gimmicks inside gimmicks. Could we please have just one day left for real crossword puzzles?

Nancy 6:07 PM  

Oops. JC66 is right. It's NERD'S EPITHET that you have to cross the letters off, @shaunreen. I didn't reread the clue either.

Outside The Box 6:31 PM  

Totally agree.

Outside The Box 6:31 PM  

Well said.

Birchbark 6:46 PM  

@Nancy (5:14, 6:07), et al -- Holy epithets and epitaphs! There are no wrong answers in a ZEN state.

emily 7:08 PM  

You’re right...

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

I'm not too proud to admit that I finished the puzzle and didn't get the theme until afterwards. Pretty cool.

Unknown 9:48 PM  

First time EVER I saw ''that'' in the clue [113A] and ''that'' in the answer. and I've been doing puzzle since 1967. BTW, I have a clipboard just like Rex's that my Wife gave me years ago just for the [uzzle.

kitshef 10:41 PM  

I always say theme trumps fill. I have always been wrong. Great theme, but one of the five worst puzzles I've ever solved. Way too many CECs, slang expressions, and completely unknown 'celebrities'. Finished it, gritting my teeth all the while.

Outside The Box 11:17 PM  

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Unknown 11:28 PM  

I'm not ''unknown'' I'm Hamlet11111 [Patrick]

Anonymous 2:16 AM  

ADC? Yes, it’s a real thing in the Army. No, it’s not obscure. Got it the second I read the clue. In fact, I thought it much more obvious than most.

OlyL 12:27 PM  

Finished, but needed all the explanations above. Got the around part and the vehicles in the circles, but needed explanation for the anagram (duh!), and hated Havanans since all the other “straight” answers were common 2 word phrases. Otherwise impressed with the construction and clueing.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

Could someone explain TRAPS for 'green surroundings?' Thanks

vostradamus 6:18 PM  

Can someone please explain PLAYING CARD?? PLAYING DEAD makes sense, but CARD?

Paul Plotnick 10:40 PM  

Green surroundings= sand traps. Golf.

Gust from the North 2:44 PM  

OK - so I guess I'm a *dumb* neophtye: Put an "N" in the final spot (LACUNA-N), since "SENTS" somehow made more sense than "SERTS" to me.

Rookie mistake.

Carol C. 6:29 PM  

Gimmicky, pretentious, obnoxious - I've been doing NYT for years and have NEVER seen a clue word in an answer
(113 across). This construct could have made a very clever puzzle with much better clues . Tries too hard and doesn't pull it off. Will Weng wouldn't believe it!

Unknown 4:42 PM  

What is HAVANANS in 68 across?

Burma Shave 2:08 AM  

OLDAGE HATHA URGE

ICANSEETHAT it's NOTABIGDEAL
by SOME UNPC things you STOOPTO;
HEY, WHEREIT'SAT is IWANNA feel,
and I THINK I'd look GRATEON you.

--- ERVIN EVANS

spacecraft 12:02 PM  

Nope. Not gonna bother. I saw the gimmick; it was unwieldy, and the answer on the circled line is NEVER clued. You gotta do better than that if you want me to stay with a 21x21. And just in the first few lines we have ADC (???} and DAY repeated--DAYDRINK? Is that a real expression? Better clue it "Martini" and make the answer DRYDRINK. The whole thing seemed UNPC, so I just trashed it. DNBTF.

rainforest 2:45 PM  

Except for the fact that I DNF at LACUNAe/SEeTS (I've seen "lacunae" before, and didn't take the time to get the sense of the clue), I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle.

I got bogged down negotiating the first theme when I entered NOT A problem, but figured out the second one once I got STAGE DOOR. Went back to the first one, and got that one too. Just not sure if ADC is an abbr for aide de camp. Is it?

Was @Rex away for a while?

I found it fun to figure out the themers, and appreciated the revealer even though I had figured everything out by then. Porpoise = SEAPIG? Really?

More or less "medium" overall except that section where I had to w/o ACAI. Don't know GOJI, but the crosses did the job there. All in all, a good Sunday.


AnonymousPVX 4:00 PM  

If you are NOT using sensitive language, how is that UNPC?

This puzzle had some of the worst clueing ever. Add the truly clumsy theme/gimmick and you have...this mess.

Happy to get the solve, sorry I wasted my time doing so....no fun.

Diana,LIW 7:19 PM  

Got the theme, got the puzzle, then got the rest of the story.

Drove me a touch nuts for a while, but I soon allowed the "nonsense" answers, and then came the light.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 9:48 PM  

retty much agree with @AnonPVX, shoulda done as @spacey. I hate that $#!+.

Yeah baby ANA. Remember when the clue for ANA was "Actress Alicia"? Falcon Crest I believe; one of those 25 - 30 years ago.

Re-thinking Sunday puzzles. Maybe just not in the mood with 420 miles of travel. On a holiday-ish weekend.

Phillip Blackerby 12:43 PM  

You're right!

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

What a wasteland. This puzzle had few redeeming qualities. Ugh. Havanans, Lacunar - Yuck. Give me a break, and give us better puzzles this coming week.

wcutler 2:38 AM  

Well, you're all long finished reading today's blog, but I spend the WEEK doing these weekend puzzles, working on them just before I fall asleep at night, so I finished this one early, minus a few bits I wisely gave up on, as I was never going to get them, much as I think the 34D clue Donations to certain clinics was pretty cute for OVA. How did everyone know LETO and RENI?

I was most surprised that no-one has mentioned learning about HVAC on HGTV. I live in a highrise, have no reason to know the term otherwise, but I'm very familiar with it now, and I only see TV shows when I'm on vacation. I certainly know how to say it (that was helpful, though, the person who provided the pronunciation). Would that be considered slightly dooky? You do need to know where to split it.

I seem to be one of only three who never saw the vehicles being passed, yet I still thought the passing lanes were fun as they were.

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