Soviet foreign affairs minister during Cuban missile crisis / SUN 3-13-11 / Ziggurat features / Onetime Freud collaborator / Kaaba visitor's faith

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Reverend Spooner, U.S.P.S. — theme clues combine to form a monologue by Reverend Spooner, who describes his new career with the USPS in (at least vaguely) USPS-related spoonerisms (the theme answers)

Word of the Day: Andrei GROMYKO (41D: Soviet foreign affairs minister during the Cuban missile crisis) —

Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko (Russian: Андре́й Андре́евич Громы́ко; Belarusian Андрэ́й Андрэ́евіч Грамы́ка; 18 July [O.S. 5 July] 1909 – 2 July 1989) was a Soviet statesman during the Cold War. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1957–1985) and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1985–1987). Gromyko was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy until he retired in 1987. In the West he was given the nickname Mr. Nyet ("Mr. No"). (wikipedia)
• • •

As an example of the story-theme type, this puzzle is quite good. It's not my favorite type of theme, as it results in some pretty contrived dialogue (and answers). Also, whenever I see that theme answers are going to be spoonerisms (yes, it's happened before, under tournament conditions no less), my heart sinks a little. My brain just doesn't process them well; also, I never get the chuckle that pun-loving people do. It's mainly just work for me. But most of today's theme answers were at least cute, and the consistently postal nature of the puns made the set cohere in a way that allowed me to overcome my normally poor ability to handle spoonerisms. So ... up from 'poor' to 'mediocre.' Base phrases of a couple of theme answers don't hold together very well ("pack your crate?" "hound growling?") and the last one ("filled with cheer") has nothing whatsoever to do with the postal service, but the rest are tight.

Difficulty-wise, there was the general struggle to get the wordplay, and then there was GROMYKO, and then there was ABACO (91A: The Bahamas Great ___ Island). There was also the issue of how to spell AMIDALA (15D: Queen in the "Star Wars" saga), and my failure to make sense of either of the crossing non-S plurals BOWMEN (73A: Drawers of war?) / RAIMENT (56D: Wardrobe items). Other than that, this was pretty typical of a Sunday, difficulty-wise. Always love seeing LEE Marvin (39A: Marvin of "Cat Ballou"), who is possibly my favorite hard-boiled actor of all time (that's right—sorry, Bogie), and MR. MOM (1D: 1983 Michael Keaton comedy), which features one of my earliest celebrity crushes: Martin Mull ... I mean Teri Garr! Also love HOMERS (59A: Round-trippers, in sports lingo) because it reminds me that the baseball season is right around the corner. Loved the clue on IOUS (which is saying something—I wonder how many hundreds of times Patrick Berry has had to clue that damned word) (44A: Poor writer's scribblings?). Kind of cool that the puzzle has two horror film directors (ELI Roth and WES Craven). Kind of not cool that the clue for SATYR, [Forest flutist], did not include the additional (some would argue necessary) word "fictional."

Theme answers:
  • 23A: "I suppose it might seem odd that a reverend like myself would suddenly begin ___..." (MARRYING THE KALE)
  • 31A: "... but I've always thought ___ had a more fun job than I do" (MOST PASTORS)
  • 35A: "For an avid philatelist like me, sorting envelopes is thrilling—I might spot a ___!" (STAIR RAMP)
  • 48A: "When a man is nervous about shipping breakables, I tell him, '___ carefully, sir' ..." (CRACK YOUR PATE)
  • 60A: "... and I write '___' on the box, which seems to reassure him" (CANDLE WITH HAIR)
  • 68A: "The best part of the job, of course, is when I'm out on the street ___" (RAKING MY MOUNDS)
  • 80A: "I'm a bit leery of dogs—it's unsettling to enter a yard and hear some ___ at me ..." (GROUND HOWLING)
  • 96A: "... but dogs can't spoil how much I enjoy driving around in the ___" (TRAIL MUCK)
  • 99A: "Homeowners get excited when they see me opening their ___ ..." (BETTER LOCKS)
  • 109A: "... and when I hand-deliver a package, the recipients are positively ___—it's very satisfying!" (CHILLED WITH FEAR)
  • 27A: "Dirt cake" ingredients (OREOS) — total guess, but a good one. Where I come from, dirt cakes are made of dirt, and maybe some water.
  • 76A: Mesabi Range export (IRON ORE) — located in northern Minnesota, the Mesabi Range is the chief deposit of iron ore in the U.S. (wikipedia)
  • 2D: Single-named "Hollywood Squares" regular (CHARO!) — she was married to that Cugat guy, right? Er, what's his name? ... Xavier Cugat! I knew her as "that coochie coochie lady who guest-starred on 'Love Boat' sometimes."

  • 9D: Ziggurat featues (TIERS) — getting ziggurats confused with Zagnut bars, I think.
  • 14D: Onetime Freud collaborator (ADLER) — Alfred ADLER. I know nothing about him except his not uncommon (in crosswords) name.
  • 51D: Bygone Tide rival (RINSO) — when will I start seeing the new Johnny Depp movie "RANGO" in my puzzles?
  • 93D: Bird that may nest on volcanic ash (NENE) — also, the starting center for the Denver Nuggets.
  • 102D: 1980s-'90s Chrysler offerings (KCARS) — my favorite letter is "K," so I kind of want to drive one of these, even though I have a feeling they are/were cruddy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Anonymous 12:18 AM  

The K car was one of the best and many are still on the road...

CoffeeLvr 1:03 AM  

I spike loonerisms, so, a fun solve. My favorite theme answer is CHILLED WITH FEAR, and as much as I look forward to deliveries, "filled with cheer" is not so far off. Did not know ABACO, so dUTCH at 92D looked okay to me. I eventually figured out 80D was GMAC, not MSRP, but after all, as a Ford employee all my financing was with FMCC. So easy, just sign here, we will deduct your car payment from your pay check. Also got sloppy in the far SE, and entered a letter when I intended something else, so definitely a DNF. I don't care tonight.

Only quibble, I found that having GROUND (hound) and MOUNDS (rounds) in two consecutive theme answers was a bit repetitive.

I made a few dirt cakes, fooled my nephew one time. They are really more of a pie than a cake, with chocolate pudding in a pail or flower pot, topped with crumbled OREOS, and accented with your choice of gummy worms, fake flowers, a beach shovel, etc. If you want to see examples, it is easy enough to Google.

syndy 3:00 AM  

had no problem (or so I thought) untill the far southeast. I had ASS WADERS ACERO SPECK and it took a hammer to fix when then (sigh) no happy pencil! I had finished with ABACI and OTI oh well betterlocks next time

chefwen 3:46 AM  

I think I said a few days ago that I do not hate any puzzle that doesn't kick my ass to hell and back. Well this one did. I have never been so confused in my life. Kept saying to the husband "this doesn't make any sense". Finally got the damn thing done but found little joy in doing so. I usually like Patrick Berry's puzzles, but this one just drove me nuts.

Favorite day gone astray.

capcha - downesh - The capchas are really feeling my moods the last couple of days.

jae 4:53 AM  

I had med-chall. in my margin plus GAY for WRY and ROADGANG for ROCKPILE. I liked this one because nothing was obvious. You had to struggle through the Spoonerisms to get it done.

Hey Rex, was that Lee Marvin pic from the TV series M-Squad?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:35 AM  

Challenging but fun for me. Quite a few write-overs in the deep south, not worth listing.

Greene 8:47 AM  

Rex captured my feelings about this puzzle in a single word: WORK! Now, I don't mind working hard on a puzzle, but I really do expect some kind of pleasurable reward for my efforts. For me, at least, the enjoyment factor was very low on this puzzle (and I was initially so excited because it was by Patrick Berry).

I knew from the title exactly what the theme would be and upon completion I see exactly how everything coheres. What I don't see is the whimsy and mirth which should be the hallmarks of a spoonerism puzzle. CHILLED WITH FEAR probably works the best, but still strikes me as clever and not really funny. Sadly, there is an ocean of difference between clever and funny.

To me, there was a clinical and sterile quality to the puzzle that I just couldn't overcome. I'm sure many will be entertained today. I was not.

Smitty 8:56 AM  

I'm always happy when a Sunday puzzle is more than a long slog through 4 Tuesday puzzles put together so...I'm happy.

Once I got the joke - the easier spoonerisms helped me get the tougher fill.

Struggled with the R&B/fountain drink cross
finally saw COKE

Does anyone still own a clock you have to Spring Forward today?

mitchs 9:44 AM  

Thought it was a lot of fun. But, hey, I even liked the old step quotes.

SethG 9:58 AM  

This would be super-boring if the straight phrases were used, and I found none of the spoonerized phrases even slightly amusing so that didn't add anything to it. And the title told me what it would be, so there was no joy of discovery. A fine puzzle with a dreadful theme.

And with ABACO. Is the BUTCH clue a specific dog or just referring to common dog names? If it's the latter, that's an absolutely terrible cross. I had a D.

CoolPapaD 9:58 AM  

Like @ Greene, I was a bit disappointed. I love a good pun, but Spoonerisms just don't usually do it for me.

Weirdest 27A coincidence: Saturday afternoon, after going to a local Ostrich Festival, we took the kids to Mimi's Cafe (hadn't been there since being a parent). Server brought the kids a dessert that she called Worms in Dirt - Gummies mixed into crushed Oreos.

Had never heard of Nausea (La Nausee) - after Googling to learn about it, I think I'll skip it. Doesn't look like so much fun!

Go Blue Devils!

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Marrying the Kale?

wouldn't you carry the mail not male?

jackj 10:15 AM  

My favorite constructor hits a single rather than his usual round-tripper but, hey, every Van Gogh is not a masterpiece, either.

The good, TRAILMUCK; the bad, HEE (from the clue "Tee-__"); the ugly, BOWMEN, clued as "Drawers of war?".

William Archibald Spooner 10:17 AM  

@Anonymous, 10:04 AM - Spoonerisms are based on pronunciation, not spelling.

r.alphbunker 10:18 AM  

The USPS motto "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" could be adopted by Cycle Mop for his blog.

54A mIA-->NIA
119A todo-->MESS
37A formal-->AWARDS
99D acrES-->BALES
114A maltS-->COKES

 1 **********
 2 **********
 3 ***************
 4 **********
 5 *******
 6 ******
 7 **********************
 8 ***********
 9 ****************************
10 *******************

Queer old Dean 10:19 AM  

This one lost me at MARRYING THE KALE. Don't Spoonerisms have to make at least a little sense in the alternate version? How does MARRYING THE KALE make any sense? Do cabbages getting married? Sure hope they don't honeymoon in Korea, lest they end up as Kimchi.

Captca: nonsesse. Just one 'n' off for today.

Cool Dude 10:22 AM  

Lame themes like this belong in the era of Will Weng or Eugene Maleska and not that of Will Shortz.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

DNF here. Not familiar with NAUSEA (the novel) or NENE. Couldn't get the "U" or "S" from crosses either, since I had ILL (not AIL) for "distress."

Thought the theme was okay, and it was helpful in filling the grid - but I agree with Queer old Dean regarding the first themed answer.

Lindsay 10:57 AM  

Exactly what Rex said about processing Spoonerisms: my brain isn't set up for them either.

Never knew until checking the answers that BITUMEN has an "e" where bituminous has an "i" so 39A looked like ?iE, and I couldn't figure it out, never having heard of the Star Wars queen.

Plus the ABACi/OTi error makes a total of three. For those of you scoring at home.

kjmaggie 11:12 AM  

Pshaw.... This was fun and had me smiling throughout. Will take this punny puzzle over yesterday's romp through obscure names anyday.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Got half way through sucessfully and finally said this is so stupid. I've got better other puzzle to do than waste my time on this inane shit. Who says awakes, and equine-related is horsy? What kind of crap is this Will and PB?
Golfballman and Flowerlady.

chefbea 11:39 AM  

A fun puzzle which I DNF. Loved all the theme answers as Mr. Chefbea is a retired mail carrier!!!

Fun to make dirt cake with the grand kids. They love to put the worms in.

Ruth 11:41 AM  

BOWMEN crossing BOWLER caused a raised eyebrow. Oh well.
My sibs and I used to howl over Lee Marvin spraying the phrase "Gimme a drink of whiskey--PLEEEZSH!!" all over the barkeep in "Cat Ballou."

Ruth 11:41 AM  

BOWMEN crossing BOWLER caused a raised eyebrow. Oh well.
My sibs and I used to howl over Lee Marvin spraying the phrase "Gimme a drink of whiskey--PLEEEZSH!!" all over the barkeep in "Cat Ballou."

Ruth 11:43 AM  

so sorry about the double post--the security thing keeps telling me that I did the captcha wrong and I fall for that too often. At least I wised up before doing it AGAIN.

deerfencer 11:55 AM  

A sophomoric Dada artist's conceit that should never have made it to print. Let's pretend this puzzle never happened.

No BS 12:05 PM  

Definitely looking forward to some dirt cake making this summer when the gf's grandkids are around. Never hoid a such a thing! Made treasure chest cakes for my own kids when they were young for the b-day parties.

not an exciting puzzle though I'm the chuckle over cute wordplay type, so had a few from this one. Easy Sunday from my POV--filling out a form. Mainly because the Spoonerisms seemed pretty obvious, given the title. Funny how one person's gimme is another's stumper: I was 11 during Cuban Missile Crisis and very well aware of the stakes and the dramatis personae. Scared ****less actually. Have spent many happy weeks in the Bahamas over the years (a sailor's paradise) and Abaco is as familiar as Brees was obscure.

Learned yesterday that many of our screen names here (the ones in color, i think) are hotlinks leading to some pretty amazing biographical stuff. Would someone like to tell me how to make my tag into a link?

No BS 12:08 PM  

Oh, looks like I already figured it out. Forgot.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Hard work and no fun. No idea what spoonerism is.
I got STAIR RAMP but that was it. A lot of blank spaces. Did not care to google from some more fill. Sunday's puzzle are getting to be a bore if you ask me.

Eric 12:33 PM  

@ Smitty. Unfortunately I own several clocks that still automatically adjust on the old savings time dates. Ugh, give me the manual ones any time.

Puzzle absolutely great. Love Spoonerisms.

Norm 12:58 PM  

Fail. The puzzle, that is. I don't care for story puzzles (Merl has one also today), and too many of the Spoonerisms were of the stupid, meaningless variety (e.g., MARRYING THE KALE, STAIR RAMP, CANDLE WITH HAIR). I'll give a thumbs up to CRACK YOUR PATE and CHILLED WITH FEAR, but, all in all, this puzzle was not worth it.

Stan 1:18 PM  

I do have a brain built for processing puns (sometimes it seems, little else) -- so thumbs way up on this one. Except for the first two (which set up the situation), all the theme answers struck me as funny and unexpected. Surrounding fill was at an even difficulty level that rewarded patience. Thanks, Patrick

Glitch 1:29 PM  

Generally liked the theme & puzzle but, felt it was "too many clues" in length. Despite this, somehow came in with a below average completion time and only a minor feeling of "sloggyness".

I'm wondering tho:

@Rex wrote: Kind of not cool that the clue for SATYR, [Forest flutist], did not include the additional (some would argue necessary) word "fictional."

Q: What non-fictional forest flutist could it be?

Zamfir doesn't count as he doesn't play in the forest, merely hangs out there with the popes and bears.


Puzzlejunkie 1:33 PM  

Oh man...I had everything except se corner where I had grilled with flea ....just plausible enough to drive me quietly insane...I was so sure it was right it didn't occur to me to think of other options. Now I realize it's not even a correct spoonerism. Oh well! my dad's love of spoonerisms made me enjoy this puzzle immensely

Sparky 1:52 PM  

Some of the Spoonerisms don't make a whole lot of sense but are not as bad as some thinkle peep. Try having tee many martoonies. It might help.

Does anybody know the whole text of that one?

Solving went along pretty handily on top half. Slowed down in SE. Had HollY at 115A, aMC at 111D, nOexit for Sartre. Finally sorted them out. Quibble: aren't Nobelists given the prize for the body of work and not a specific one?

Frank Chambers 2:00 PM  

This type of puzzle makes me want to "Go Postal." Postman please erase my memory of it.

ksquare 2:12 PM  

Originally thought 92D, Companion of Rex & Rover would be a BITCH even though 'trail mick/male trick' did not make much sense. Otherwise, managed to finish without great effort.

archaeoprof 2:14 PM  

I must be the DENSEST person around, because I am ATODDS with the general tone of disapproval today.

Now back to watching the Blue Devils against ... who are they playing today???

quilter1 3:02 PM  

Fun and fast once I got to it. I liked BOWMEN, RAIMENT and K CAR. I owned a K car and you couldn't kill it with a stick. I think I only finally traded it in because it was so old I was afraid of it finally needing big repairs.

I'm a pun lover and enjoyed sussing out the spoonerisms.

imsdave 3:11 PM  

Not much to say here. I never thought I would have to use the word "serviceable" about a PB puzzle though.

@CoolPapaD - Duke was in pretty good shape last time I checked - any props for my Huskies?

joho 3:12 PM  

I cry Natick at ABACO/OTO ... don't you know OTO refers to an indian not an ear!

I thought it was fun, thank you, Patrick!

quilter1 3:12 PM  

Oh, yeah, I had batter before BOWLER. Also going to make dirt cake with the grands this summer.

madmenlost 3:33 PM  

Fun puzzle, but I've got a quibble with "better locks"...since the quote subject is "Homeowners" shouldn't the phrase be Letter Boxes/Better Loxes?

Spencer 3:43 PM  

So maybe it's my age.. GROMYKO was a gimme. ABACO is somehow stuck in my head although I've never been to the Bahamas. And AMIDALA -- well, gotta confess Star Wars geekdom,

Toggle 3:50 PM  

@ Sparky: "I've only had tee martunis, and I'm drot so nunck as some thinkle peep I am."

Y'know, that's hard to type!!

mmorgan 4:30 PM  

Mostly enjoyed this -- and I like spoonerisms in general -- though I wish that CHILLED WITH FEAR continued the postal theme. Having them all (otherwise) in that mode was very clever (though, I agree, not always funny).

Finished with two errors: ABACi/OTi (91A/82D), and COlaS for COKES at 114A. I was just guessing on ROANOlE, but should have known that ISLaY was wrong. I just always wince a bit on current brand names. (RINSO White (51D) was a main sponsor of Amos n' Andy on the radio, of all things.)

GROMYKO (41D) was actually a gimme and I never even saw IOUS (44A) till I read Rex's write-up.

The whole lower-mid Atlantic (NOWHERE, WHIG, BOWMEN, etc.) took forever. If not longer.

Hand up for GAY at 111D (though something about it made me hesitant).

Love Cat Ballou!!

math guy 5:09 PM  

This felt like a recycled puzzle from 1991. Spooner is so twenty-years-ago. No excitement today,just work. Sorry.

mac 5:52 PM  

A bit of a slog, but some things made me laugh, after reading some funny posts about this puzzle on Facebook. Also, I loved "horsy" at 28A!

The Southeast was by far the hardes part of the puzzle for me. Had Acela for Alpha, No Exit instead of Nausea, and -loxes for a bit.

We had quite a number of clocks to adjust!

@mmorgen: chilled with fear DOES continue the postal theme!;-)/;-(

Guess what I'm cooking this evening: Boerenkool, which is kale.

Sparky 6:02 PM  

Thanks @Toggle. By the way, the Nobel Prize question covered over at Amy Orange.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

Thought the puzzle was tough, but fun. Had to Google "Owl" for Athena because I thought it was "Oak", but everything else came together....eventually

JaxInL.A. 6:17 PM  

RINSO has made a comeback as a store brand for the 99c Only Store.

Didn't love it or hate it. I was disappointed to see another story puzzle on the same day at the Phil. Inquirer. One is good, but two feels a bit stale. Not that they could possibly have known, right? Could they check in with each other?

Finished in good time, and I'm now finding great pride in coming in at only twice the speed of the top solvers, rather than longer coming in at ten times the speed. Maybe one day I'll do a tournamentl I'm feeling tempted by the upcoming L.A. tourney, and will be curious to hear about the experience of those here who go. Please do keep us updated.

Thanks, all.

Cissy Strut 6:30 PM  

Thoroughly enjoyable. 4 Across is why I do crosswords. A common word hidden in plain sight. I took a walk trying to figure out how DE--M could become "overall composition." Once I got it I was stuck with the dumb grin payoff.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

I put BETTER LOXES in! And thought it was right until I read Rex. The crosses made sense to me: after all, an X Reel could be a kind of fishing gear, and who knows an E-car from a K-car? It's a funnier answer, too.

chefbea 7:42 PM  

@toggle lol that was great

and on another note...made beet crisps tonite pretty good!!!

JenCT 8:20 PM  

@Glitch: my first thought for forest flutist was the Wood Thrush and its flutelike song.

Okay, I don't use Google when I do a puzzle, so I didn't know what a Spoonerism was, and therefore couldn't get the theme. I may have to rethink my anti-Google stance!

DNF, of course. And now that I know all the theme answers, I still don't like the puzzle.

Octavian 8:55 PM  

Loved it -- great puzzle. Especially the deeply phonetic nature of the spoonerisms (letterbox/betterlocks, rather than just switching letters. For whatever reason, I always feel like I am on Patrick Berry's wavelength, whether it is a story-theme puzzle like this or a themeless Friday.

Some great clues in Overall Composition, Poor Writer's Scribblings, and the literary hat tip for Nausea. ... Bravo.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Always fascinating to me how different folks view the puzzles. I'm not one of those people who flies through the Sunday crossword--I often end up finishing the next day or not at all--but I zipped through this in no time, didn't feel challenged at all, and expected Rex to declare it "easy". Sometimes I think it's just a matter of having some kind of mental chemistry with the constructor.

TimJim 10:27 PM  

Hand up for BETTERLOXES ... Was vaguely distubed by the inconsistency in the theme answers - some simply phonetic, some a letter exchange; some making sense, some not. But enjoyed nevertheless ....

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

It's TCM not TMC.

I skip M-W 11:32 PM  

Missed the o in Abaco/Oto, even though Grand Abaci sounds odd. I think the base of the betterLocks spoonerism should have been letter boxes, to agree with the plural "homeowners" . clue should have said "each homeowner" or something. am usually annoyed with Sundays, but this one did cause chuckles if not outright mirth. I guess I love spoonerisms. I thought , given the reverend Spooner reference, that the "most pastors" answer was ingenious. Alos, these days, anyone receiving an unexpected package might well be "chilled with fear." I never seem to notice the puzzle title, until looking at Rex.

Another mini-theme involves Mesabi range and Gromyko, who was known as "old Iron Pants" for his ability to sit through lengthy negotiations without ever yielding.

admittedly marrying the kale is carrying vegetarianism a little too far.

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

I still don't get DENIM (overall composition) or ING (having one sharp). Would appreciate a brief explanation of either. Tx

Anonymous 1:23 AM  

Denim jeans are overalls. The key of G major has one sharp.

I also thought letter boxes was the right choice given the plural clue.

ms_min 2:58 AM  

Rex, I think that the theme is also about everything about mailing--not necessarily just the postal service, so "pack your crate"'s what you do when you move or mail your stuff, "hound growling" is what happens when the mail carrier comes to the door, and "filled with cheer" is what packages that you open are that were mailed to you from people who like you. ;)

cinephile 9:00 AM  

@Anon 10:51p

TMC=The Movie Channel
TCM=Turner Classic Movies

Jim in Chicago 10:28 AM  

That's G MAJOR with one sharp, not G (E MINOR also has one sharp.)

I seem to be the only one who sped through this puzzle - well, slogged along might be a better word - but started in the NW and just worked down to the SE. This almost never happens on Sunday.

My problem is that as others have pointed out they aren't even good spoonerisms - they're supposed to be witty and make you chuckle - these are mostly just flipping the first letters - Marrying Kale makes absolutely no sense. Now a good example of a great Spoonersim would be "Three cheers for our queer old dean."

nurturing 2:19 AM  

Gromyko was my first entry. Enjoyed the spoonerisms. Good puzzle!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I was also stumped at the BOWMEN clue... but I think I get it now. Drawer of war... Draw your arrow on your bow. Tough one.

smoss11 1:51 AM  

Loved "most pastors" as it captured both themes. Hated "marrying the kale". Which made no sense.

Anonymous 5:09 AM  

Agree absolutely about better loxes because of the plural homeowners even tho I like the phonetics and spellings mixture. Love to see how others react to the same things!

Stephen 10:22 PM  

I thought there was a lot of good cluing here. The spoonerisms made things slow because there was an extra layer of indirectness. Nothing was too obvious, but I knew it would come if I just worked at it... the best kind of puzzle.
Loved DENIM and BOWMEN and BOWLER and WRY and CPR and others, but do not understand MCS (Roast V.I.P.'s). What's with the "roast"?

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Comedy roasts are hosted by an emcee.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

92D To the person who asked above, Butch is a huge shepherd-looking dog that goes on walks with Red & Rover (a must-read comic for any dog lover).

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

to joho 3:12 PM - re "OTO". In the
NYT Crossword Puzzle Dictionary, June 1977, second printing, under "prefixes" for ear - ot(o).

Matt C 1:18 PM  

About Letterboxes

I did have BetterLoxes as my answer.

Xreel - the "extreme" fishing reel
ECars - were stretched K-cars

and since loxes is an accepted plural of lox, I thought I was right.

Other than that, perfect puzzle. Had fun doing it, but didn't much care for some of the spoonerisms.

Dirigonzo 2:17 PM  

We syndicated puzzle solvers are enjoying the first day of Spring as we work on this one (I hope everybody got to see that spectacular full moon rising last night!)

I have never heard of Spooner so Spoonerisms were a total mystery to me. I managed to figure out what was going on with STAIRRAMP and MOSTPASTORS so then I was able to figure out the rest of the theme answers which was a big help. Had no idea what might be a 3 letter word for acid, so I was totally surprised when the crosses produced the all too obvious LSD.

Favorite comment: @IskipM-W said, "marrying the kale is carrying vegetarianism a little too far."

GILL I. 3:18 PM  

@Sparky: I hope you come back a week later. Some of us here in syndication thinkle peep and have tee many martoonies. Best laugh I've had today.
I am going to use that phrase as often as I can (with your permission of course)

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

I'm a week behind, too, so I don't usually comment - it's all been said by the time I get here. But here's a variation on the dirt cake theme, which will appeal to every ten-year-old boy: the litter box cake. Pour the contents of a few packages of chocolate pudding mix - dry - into a shallow pan. Unwrap a bunch of small Tootsie Rools, place on a plate and microwave for a few seconds until soft. Bend them into distorted shapes and stir them into the pudding mix. Serve. Enjoy the children's delight while watching the grownups gag.

Catte 6:48 PM  

As a long time pun lover I have to agree these were pretty low quality spoonerisms. "Marrying the kale"? "Stair ramp"? Blech!

Speaking of blech - every kitty litter cake recipe I've seen goes well beyond dry chocolate pudding as a base -it's usually some combo of crumbled spice and white cake, vanilla cookies, bound with some vanilla pudding. google is full of recipes for those who want to delight the ten year olds.

Cary in Boulder 7:04 PM  

Stumbled on BOWMEN, misspelled GROMiKO and generally had to pry every letter out of this one.

FWIW, a non-fictional "forest flutist" could be jazz great Charles Lloyd whose classic LP "Forest Flower" came out in the late '60s. At least that was my first thought.

captcha: phemine, the famous sex-change drug

Marc 7:14 PM  

A little surprising to find a spoonerism theme in a NYT puzzle; I usually expect that from a Merl Reagle puzzle. Of course, this one was more challenging and therefore interesting than a Merl, although I didn't find the jokes all that amusing.

I'd rate this one as medium for me; it took some effort to get through, but I finished with nary a Google. Patrick Berry usually doesn't disappoint, and while this one was not one of his masterpieces, it was a nice workout for me.

SharonAK 10:48 PM  

I agree re best comment. Literally LOL for me. And I had missed it scanning through, so thank you.

Hayseed 11:48 PM  

Coming in a week late from Syndicationland, I had to comment on 93 Across ("Novel for which Sartre declined the Nobel Prize").

It's pretty widely known that the literature Nobel is awarded for a body of work, not a single title (unlike the Pulitzer, for instance, which is for a single work), so the clue betrays an imperfect understanding on Mr. Berry's -- or perhaps Will Shortz's -- part.

Not that the erratum impeded my solving, particularly, since "Nausea" is probably Sartre's most famous work of fiction, but the clue was simply wrong.

Anonymous 3:24 AM  

Marrying the kale also seemed confusing to me. But I figured it refered to marrying for money, therefore it would be stange for one to change from lovo of God to the love of money.

novemberyankee68 6:47 PM  

Glad to see I'm not the only one who put in "betterloxes". Or had "TCM" instead of "TMC". I take issue with "pitapat" answer which I think is stupid and I knew the Sarte novel as Le Nausee not Nausea. So I put No Exit first because it was after he wrote Les Mots(which didnt fit) he turned down the prize. Thanks you Wiki for that.

cody.riggs 12:21 AM  

Blogger just ate my best comment ever. I don't have the strength to recall it.

cody.riggs 12:22 AM  

Gist: I LOVE Spoonerisms. Listen to the Capitol Steps. Over and out. Cody.

Michael Stafford 2:30 PM  

Oh yes, the K cars were pieces of crap, and looked pretty cheap, too. They populated a fleet of low-cost company cars at my old employer, and I had the pleasure of being in one of them when it was totaled in an accident.

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