West Coast evergreens / SUN 7-3-11 / 1950s NBC icon / Island visited Captain Cook 1778 / DKNY competitor / Stake metaphorically / Private eye Peter

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Constructor: Pete Muller

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "My Treat" — all about ICE CREAM SODA (117A: Something delicious to drink).

Puzzle Note: "When this puzzle is done, the circles will contain five different letters of the alphabet. Connect each set of circles containing the same letter, without crossing your line, to make a simple closed shape. The resulting five closed shapes together will form a picture of a 117-Across. The five letters can be arranged to name a good place to get a 117-Across."

[Picture created by following instructions in the Puzzle Note includes a TALL GLASS, TWO SCOOPS, a LONG SPOON, and a FLEXIBLE STRAW. Five letters involved in the picture can be arranged to form DINER]

Word of the Day: MADRONES (47D: West Coast evergreens) —

n.1.(Bot.) A small evergreen tree or shrub (Arbutus Menziesii), of Pacific North America, having a smooth bark, thick glossy leathery leaves, and edible orange-red berries, which are often called madroña apples; the wood is used for furniture and the bark for tanning.
• • •

No pleasure here. None. I checked out mentally very early on, once I realized that the theme was straightforward and boring, and the fill was lifeless and often tortured. I have "ugh" and "ugly" written in margins all over the top of the puzzle. At some point, as I say, I stopped caring, and just dutifully filled in the grid. No marginalia in the bottom half. I don't even know what to say today. Theme is self-explanatory. Theme answers aren't good or bad—they just are. Fill is rough all over, but I don't have the heart to list it all. I can tell you that the puzzle lost me completely after just the NW, with its plural OKRAS and IT'SAN and SETA NDAK SDS REATA ABCD DRLAO (19A: 1964 title role for Tony Randall) PADMA DOI. Later I just stared at SIDERITE (33D: Valuable iron ore) and ESOTERY (?) (14D: Obscure things) and MADRONES (47D: West Coast evergreens). But mostly, by then, I didn't care. This is the danger of Sunday—if you don't like it, you're in for a long, uncomfortable ride.

[I only just now tried to draw the picture, per the "Puzzle Note"'s instructions. What I have on my paper looks almost nothing like an ICE CREAM SODA ... Oh, the "E"s are supposed to be a *spoon*! I was like "why is that straw stuck in an olive?"]

Theme answers:
  • 25A: Some versions of a 117-Across (BROWN COWS)
  • 27A: Ingredient in a 117-Across (SELTZER WATER)
  • 59A: Ingredient in a 117-Across (FLAVORED SYRUP)
  • 83A: Utensil for 117-Across (FLEXIBLE STRAW)
  • 121A: Version of a 117-Across (COKE FLOAT)
  • 4D: Container for a 117-Across (TALL GLASS)
  • 11D: Like many a 117-Across (CHOCOLATE)
  • 84D: Utensil for a 117-Across (LONG SPOON)
  • 87D: Quantity of a key ingredient in a 117-Across (TWO SCOOPS)
I learned that an ice cream float is a version of an ice cream soda. I have always thought of them as two entirely different species of drink. I also learned MADRONES and SIDERITE, but I won't remember those.

  • 23A: 1950s NBC icon (BERLE) — Uncle Miltie. Way before my time. Still, got it off the "B"
  • 41A: Kimchi-loving land (KOREA) — Mmm. Wish we had Korean food around here. I haven't had Korean food since I lived in Ann Arbor (*several* choices there).
  • 48A: DKNY competitor (YSL) — this was where I got the "Y" in ESOTERY. Possibly the low point in the solving experience.
  • 104A: "Web ___" (ESPN segment showing great fielding plays) (GEMS) — Specifically, it's a "Baseball Tonight" segment.
  • 12D: Private eye Peter of old TV (GUNN) — he has a very famous theme:

  • 72D: Mountain sighting, maybe (YETI) — No. Not "maybe." Just no.
  • 50D: Like mountains and computer images (SCALABLE) — I like the clue a whole lot better than the answer.
  • 116D: Old U.S.P.S. routing codes (RFDS) — I'd hate this, but I used it once, so ... [whistling and looking the other way]
  • 109A: A stake, metaphorically (SKIN) — most interesting clue of the day. I you have "a stake" in the game, you have SKIN in the game.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Isn't 32A: " Green lights" SAYSOK?
How does the K fit with 26D?

The Bard 12:43 AM  

Macbeth > Act IV, scene I

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches]

First Witch: Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Second Witch: Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch: Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.

First Witch: Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch: Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch: Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

[Enter HECATE to the other three Witches]

HECATE: O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

[Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' &c]

[HECATE retires]

Second Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!


CoffeeLvr 1:21 AM  

Anonymous at 12:43, 32A is Say Sos, as in the boss has the Say So on that request, not me. "Green lights" is meant as a plural noun, not a third person singular verb.

Ah, Rex, sorry it was so bad for you. I found it a lightweight, frothy theme for a summer time holiday weekend. I don't disagree with any of your observations about the weak points, and I noted some "ughs" as well; I just didn't care as much about them.

I think FLOATS are made with a commercial SODA (Coke, Root Beer) instead of SELTZER WATER and SYRUP.

I was surprised to see DAMN. Not offended, by any means, just surprised as it appeared from the crosses.

Fitzy 1:22 AM  

I just couldn't get into this puzzle either. And what ever happened to the "Sunday breakfast table" rule of good taste? I know that "ANAL" and "SCAB" were clued in Sunday appropriate contexts, but still...
Glad I work on the puzzle on Saturday night & not Sunday morning :->

santafefran 1:24 AM  

@anonymous: Green lights are SAY SOS--plural of say so.

Meh puzzle per Rex. Shall we just "blame it on the BOSSA Nova"?

I really don't like OKRAS--the food and especially with an S! Except in gumbo where I defy you to find a recipe that calls for okraS.

Matthew G. 1:37 AM  

Did this puzzle untimed on paper while watching a marathon of "Game of Thrones" with my wife and a friend. Good puzzle to solve that way, I think.

Pretty sure nobody has used the word OKRAS in a sentence, ever.

I liked SCALABLE and its clue both quite a bit, and actually rather liked ESOTERY. But otherwise, what Rex said.

jae 2:31 AM  

No real problems with this one until far SW. Had ELVES for too long and had trouble coming up with the right SCAN. That said, I needed an assist from my bride on the MADRONES/RHEIMS cross. She knows French cities and plants. Me, not so much. So, technically a DNF for me which blows a couple of error free weeks.

Oh, and meh seems about right. Amy's blog has a nice link to what the "connect the letters" should look like, for which I'm grateful as I really didn't feel like putting in the effort.

mac 4:19 AM  

I seem to remember a similar puzzle at the tournament, but then with a Brooklyn term I had never heard of (and didn't get completely).

The anal/loins area was the last to fall because I was so convinced 39D had to be ADHD.

elizabeth 4:32 AM  

I agree completely; I just sort of shrugged and ughed and trudged my way through this entire puzzle. It was such a disappointment after my two week hiatus.

Anonymous 5:29 AM  

The theme was delightfully easy and appropriate for the summer holiday weekend. That, and the title, went a long way in ameliorating the crossiness. It's only a freakin puzzle, Rex. Hope the rest of yr weekend is better.

imsdave 5:49 AM  

Ended with an error - never saw the YSL clue and had ESOTERA for ESOTERY. ASL looks fine in the grid.


Bob Kerfuffle 7:35 AM  

Did the puzzle mostly at the beach yesterday; tried to fill in the meta at home and failed miserably -- I only have what look like random lines.

Very much with Rex's assessment on this one.

@mac - The drink at the ACPT was a "Brooklyn Egg Cream," which famously contains no egg and no cream!

Glimmerglass 8:26 AM  

A Japanese noodle crossing a Spanish wine was a Natick for me. Guessed the O. Not a great Sunday, and I just gave up on the drawing(s).

Smitty 8:47 AM  

Madronas grow like weeds on my property and I never knew they were spelled Madrones because no one pronounces them that way - The Canadians pronounce them Arbutus.

I was grateful for the easy fill because I have a head cold - even so, I've never heard of a Coke Float. Root Beer Float only.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

what a disappointing yawn.

evil doug 9:07 AM  

"I have "ugh" and "ugly" written in margins all over the top of the puzzle. At some point, as I say, I stopped caring, and just dutifully filled in the grid."

Why continue at that point? Seems like the most compelling review would be to walk away from it, uncompleted. If I'm reading a book---hoping against hope that it will ultimately get good but it never does---then even if I'm approaching the end I take great pleasure in bailing out on it. I echoed your comments on so many Sunday Times puzzles that I finally just quit bothering with them.

Too many other useful ways---including finding a better book, or for you maybe tackling a better puzzle---to invest my time, rather than accepting disappointed solace in being able to say, "Well, at least I finished it."


joho 9:12 AM  

I thought all ten theme answers were cool and refreshing, conjuring up frosty pictures in my head even without drawing on the puzzle.

It would seem that this is one of those marvelous construction feats that leaves some solvers flat. But I have to congratulate Pete Muller for an intricately done puzzle with a fun holiday theme.

joho 9:17 AM  

Oh, and there's a great drawing by Patrick Merrell available over at Wordplay. That's the only way I could figure out what it should look like.

Lindsay 9:40 AM  

Oh dear. I connected the R in BERLE to the first R in LARRY, and the R in DRLAO (ouch!) to REATA thence to the second R in LARRY, which resulted in a large dented triangle instead of a straw.

According to the diagram linked to Wordplay (thanks @joho), that's wrong. But I totally don't give enough of a whatever about this ANE/KAUAI/MDVI to actually care.

jackj 10:08 AM  

Will Shortz lets Pete Muller play soda jerk by making us an ICECREAMSODA but, sadly, it tastes more like a glass of Moxie left too long in the sun.

The only bit of this puzzle worth noting is the vision of the lovely PADMA Lakshmi.

Why Will insists on foisting "paint-by-the-number" type gimmicks on us defies explanation. The fill always suffers badly and the non-Gorski drawings never seem to pan out.

Perhaps, in the future, this sort of juvenilia can be referred to "Jack and Jill" and the grown-ups solving at the Times site can be spared.

Sparky 10:12 AM  

DNF. A few holes in NW. Men for MOB. Missed BERLE,though thought of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and that Jerry who used to perform with Dagmar. The bottom half came in early on, then worked on the top. Theme nice for the weekend.

Where I lived we had soda parlors, a float was a frosted with ice cream on top. Something like a coke with ice cream would have had a name like black cow.

Could not figure the drawing out at all. I never can understand Shortz's instructions for things. Thanks @joho. I'll go over to Wordplay. Continued good weekend one and all.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Maybe a regional thing but to me there is a difference between an ice cream soda and an ice cream float. The soda's base is a carbonated drink; the float's base is a milkshake.

chefbea 10:57 AM  

Fairly easy but could not draw the picture. What doe it mean to not cross your line??? I'll go look at word play to see the drawing.

I never say oven ware...it's just bake ware or baking pans.

Matthew G. 10:59 AM  


Hand up for never having heard of a COKE FLOAT before, only a root beer float.

quilter1 11:12 AM  

Yeah, not much fun.
@Insdave: Whackjob, teehee.
Where I live a float is root beer with vanilla ice cream floating in it. Never heard of a coke float, but I suppose....
Also plural okra is like plural moose.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Rex, there are times when I look at your harsh reviews and either wince or disagree. But today you just flat nailed it. Moreover, aside from not being able to draw on a computer screen I had no desire to print the finished puzzle and draw from instructions more discombobulated than the puzzle itself.

JaxInL.A. 11:35 AM  

Hey there, everyone!  After a crazy month at work, several successful family events in June (two bat mitzvahs, 8th grade graduation, etc.) and an unrelated, surprise overnight in the hospital for severe anemia, it is a pleasure to read all of your comments again after three weeks away.  I have missed this part of my day and I have missed all of you.  Though I have done the puzzle nearly everyday, I had forgotten just how much pleasure I get from coming here after doing the puzzle.  All is nearly back to normal for me and the family, and I hope to resolve the underlying cause for the anemia soon.  

Did I miss @quilter1's visit to L.A.?  If so, I apologize to her for being out of commission, and I hope that the new grandbaby gave her all the thrills due from such a wonderful first encounter.  If not, please call or text me at 323-four two two-4094.

Though I grimaced several times at the iffy fill in this puzzle, I find myself more in agreement with @joho and @CoffeLvr on this one.  The frothy,  seasonal theme made me smile at least as much as I winced.

I love fried okra, which is its own plural, but my soft spot for the puzzle probably has to do with my fond memories of my favorite high school treat. Twice a week I'd go to the Dairy Queen across the street from Redlands High School and order a Pepsi float with chocolate ice cream.  I revisited this oddball treat recently, and I must confess that I can't remember why it appealed to me so much at the time, but I remember liking the quirkiness of the choice. 

Thanks, Rex, for the Peter Gunn theme and for being such a reliable presence.  If, as @EvilDoug suggests, you abandon a puzzle in disgust because it doesn't work for you, where would that leave all of us?  

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

What's the link for Wordplay?

joho 12:26 PM  

Anon. 12:09, look to your right. You'll find the link under "Daily Crossword Blogs."

600 12:29 PM  

@CoffeeLvr--Me too! I was so sure that DAMN would not appear in the grid (not offended by DAMN, just sure Will Shortz wouldn't let it by) that I filled in DARN though I never heard anyone say "darn straight!" Ended with RADRONES where I should have had MADRONES. (Despite several NW trips, never heard of Madrones--a Natick for me.) No Mr. Happy Pencil. Grrr.

I live in the South and never heard anyone say OKRAS, so I hated that--also hated SAYSOS.

There IS a difference between a soda and a float, but I guess it's not worth fighting over. Not a very fun puzzle this morning.

PuzzleNut 1:19 PM  

Wow! As I was slogging through this, my only thought was "I bet Rex rips this apart". Came here to find he didn't disappoint.
The circles and drawings add absolutely nothing to the solving experience, but surely constrain the fill, leaving the terrible crap that others have pointed out. Bah humbug!!

CypressRebel 1:20 PM  

To me, OKRAS can only be used with an apostrophe, as in "this okra's not sliced thin enough, nor fried crisp enough." Glad I never do Sunday puzzles, I always tire out before the end. We print old weekly ones from archive on Sunday.

Joan 2:11 PM  

8 down should read "These are crunched."
Data is plural. Datum is singular.

Rube 2:14 PM  

I had the same issue as @imsdave, having an A at the end of ESOTERY -- (aSL looked fine to me although YSL does look better).

Had somewhat the same problem with an A at the end of MADRONE. You can ask any Seattleite and they will tell you it's spelled with an A at the end as in Madrona Park on Lake Washington, known for it's Madrona trees.

Had the most trouble in the SW. Had the rest of the puzzle done and a big blank in California. After I got the right SCAN, decided it wasn't atTEND, erased stepONE, and gave up on alternative spellings for ents, the corner finally gave.

Arched an eyebrow when DAMN replaced DArN.

Had the usual reaction to this Sunday puzzle -- too long. I get bored and just want the thing to end. Often I'll do half on Sunday and leave the rest for Monday. Still, feel good when I finish without Googles.

Lewis 2:20 PM  

Loved saysos, hated okras, no need for drawing (the instructions and thought of it gave me a headache). It felt like a slog when I always look for a romp or at least a thrilling exploration. But then again, it's these puzzles that make the sterling puzzles sterling...

Stan 2:30 PM  

For me, the nine unforced answers on a summer-appropriate theme made up for the awkward-at-times fill. The drawing was a nice plus, but nothing more.

'Okras' means varieties of okra -- I'm not saying it's pretty but it's not wrong. By the way, I've just noticed at the store this year clerks saying "How many corns do you have in the bag?"

Armin 2:39 PM  

kinda fun... kinda weird... but let's be clear about one thing....

Yves Saint Laurent... was never, is not, nor ever will be a competitor of DKNY.

and Donna herself would agree.

i'd also like to point out regarding SAYSOS.... a much better clue would have been "ask for help" as in SAY-SOS.

Red Dog 3:15 PM  

Breezy summer Sunday puzzle -- not sure why so much negativity.

Ice cream sodas are one of life's little pleasures, along with crosswords. Personally, I think they go well together.

I don't draw on my puzzles, but it's nice to see Patrick's version over at Wordplay. That's pretty cool.

Only strangeness was the tush-centricity: Arrears, anal, loins, an end, reams (Rheims), and then Tony Randall, whose most famous TV role, as Felix Unger, was considered to be gay? Just sayin. Odd quasi-subtheme.

No fireworks, but a fun diversion. Hope everyone enjoys the holiday.

GLR 3:43 PM  

@CoffeeLvr – re: SAY SOS

I don’t think this clue/answer works, even for the noun form of green light. In noun form, green light means permission or authorization to proceed. Say so means *the right to give* that permission. My boss had the say so on this project, and yesterday, she gave us the green light.

jackj 4:12 PM  


Merriam-Webster's Collegiate 11th Ed. listing has "madrone or madrona also madrono".

Take your choice; everything except the i, u or sometimes y versions.

jp 4:24 PM  

Quite uninspiring theme filled with horrible croswordese all over. Solved most of it so in this sense it should rate as medium-easy. Did not bother to Google for the blanks.
Agree with Rex write up. The last few Sundays have been less than enjoyable. Perhaps I should take a break from the Sunday puzzles at least for a while.

Masked and Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Ice cream sodas...mmmm. My drawing just didn't measure up to Patrick's. Didn't connect my R's right -- my straw really sucked. Had pyramids instead of ice cream scoops. Etc. Pitiful.

Quite a puz construction feat. The sacrifices made to get it done were mostly minor, in my book: R??JA/S?BA/RHE?MS area made engine light flicker a bit. ESOTERa got me, too. SIDERITE appeared, like an unknown mysterious phantom, from the crossers. Partials like ITSAN don't bother me much; heck, just fill the little gimmes in, and move on.

Coke floats...mmmm.

Rube 4:47 PM  

@jackj, I know, but if I had said so it wouldn't have sounded like much of a rant!

quilter1 5:09 PM  

@JaxinLA: you didn't miss me. I'm e-mailing you and I save your number.

Forgot to say in my printout from the website I got neither a puzzle note or circles. But I didn't care. I don't draw on puzzles either.

quilter1 5:14 PM  

@JaxinLA: oops, guess I don't have you e-mail address. Thought I did. I just checked your profile--we have lots in common. I'll call.

jberg 6:05 PM  

Enjoyable: thinking about ice cream sodas and all the nice trivia about them.

Less enjoyable: the fill, especially OKRAS. DNF, never thought of MEAT at 1A,so tried GIST, GERM, and GEST as a possible variant of the first, making it impossible (for me) to see MOB at 1D, even when, after about two hours trying to fit PEACOCK in at 23A, I finally thought of Milton BERLE.

I agree that you can't deep-fry OKRAS, only okra, but you can use it in a sentence, as someone already pointed out: Seed dealer: "Most of your okras really need a long hot summer, but we have a new variety that will produce in zone 5." Wish it were true, as I love the vegetable - not so much deep-fried but sliced thin and sauteed quickly with curry spices. Try it! I had it in a Chinese restaurant once (Phoenix Cafe in London) and was able to reproduce it more-or-less at home.

I couldn't even attempt the drawing, as all my writeovers made it impossible to see where the circles were.

santafefran 7:10 PM  

@jberg- DAMN straight-- varieties of okra I can buy in plural. Also, thanks for the okra/curry idea. I have already been looking at recipes on the web.

We are getting a smidgeonette of rain here in the Santa Fe/Los Alamos area this afternoon--so verrry welcome!

ksquare 8:34 PM  

@sparky 10:12 My recollection of the one who had Dagmar on his show was JERRY LESTER.

@Armin 2:39 No one would SAY SOS on a radio message. It's sent in Morse code as ... --- ... which is easy to remember and transmit.

JenCT 10:04 PM  

@Red Dog: LOL on the subtheme.

Finished with no errors, but agree that lots of the fill was pretty poor.


Never heard of SIDERITE.

Stan 10:32 PM  

Oh, way too late to point this out, but an EMBRYO is not a baby baby, or any other kind of baby. It becomes a baby when it is born.

Palamedes 9:56 AM  

39D - Anal. There, you've got the NYT in a nutshell -- now even the puzzle!

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

I can not believe the whining & complaining!! This was a cute, fun puzzle. Also, Baseball Tonight is my favorite show & the Web Gems segment is the best part. Any puzzle with an ESPN clue is fine by me. Sometimes I think that Rex is like that guy in high school who criticizes everything because it's not cool to like something. Then others follow suit. He reminds me of the one kid in my calculus class who always criticized Pearl Jam & their "meaningless lyrics".

Matt 6:08 PM  

Not only was this an uninspired puzzle, but 31 down "Meas. of screen resolution" is DPI, which is a false answer. DPI applies to printed resolution, not screen resolution. Screen resolution is measured in pixels.

ahecht 1:02 PM  

SW was a horrible mess of awkward phrases, with COKEFLOAT (never heard that phrase, it's always a rootbeer float or just a "float"), SEATRIP (again, who would ever use that phrase), and MRISCAN (people talk about "CAT scans" and "PET scans", but just call an MRI an MRI). Add to that the obscure ILEX and the incorrect RFDS (technically, the routing code is the RR or "rural route", not the RFD) and even the clever cluing on RUNES couldn't make that part of the puzzle fun.

ahecht 1:19 PM  

I forgot to mention the equally awkward SW corner phrase RULEONE (I've heard "rule number one" or "number one rule", but not "rule one"). That's four awkward phrases in that tiny corner.

Word verification: blemeter, as in "this puzzle gets a 10 on my ble meter".

Annie 8:45 AM  

Clue: 7/3/11's Crossword Puzzle.
Answer: B-O-R-I-N-G.

C'mon Will, you can do a better job at picking something halfway interesting...or send it back for some tweaking. when I roll my eyes more than twice in a puzzle I know it's a dud.

Anonymous 11:01 PM  

8 Down clue is: It's crunched. Answer: Data. Oh boy. Data is plural! So it should be "They're crunched."

Cathelou 4:28 AM  

Coke floats are common in the South and especially within a five-hour radius of Atlanta. Surprised others have not heard of them--had them all the time growing up but middle aged waistline is putting the kibosh on that.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Finished with no help, but for two single letter errors: did not know what 31d was, so I guessed at 35a, "Reversal of sorts," and came up with HURL, a reversal of peristalsis. Seemed OK to me. And the other was a pure Natick at 75a/61d. I know neither of those foreign comestibles, so I guessed to put A instead of O in there.
Couple of points: I understand why RP finishes even the puzzles he doesn't like. Relative to this site, it's his "job." I mean, that's the title of the page: "Rex Parker Solves the New York Times Crossword Puzzle." So...he solves it. This one, for me, could've done without all the circled letters and dot-to-dots. There was one a while back with a die cube, with all O's where the pips should be; that was pure genius. But mostly, we should leave the rebuses to the rebus page.
A line from one of my favorite films, The Shawshank Redemption, validates the 32a entry: [Red describing his feeling of being "institutionalized" when he has to ask permission to go to the bathroom] "I couldn't squeeze a drop without SAYSO."
There is much to like here, starting with the incomparable GEENA Davis, whom I dig to the nth degree. SINATRA the "artisan" is a nugget, and so are RULEONE, NEWBIES and ARSENAL--though their more heated rivalry is with Liverpool. I attended a match between those two; we all survived it, but some not by much. For these GEMS we have to pay our dues (lest we be in ARREARS). AIL crossing ASSAIL scrapes the blackboard for me. And now this ramble has "come to" ANEND. SEEYA!

Deb 12:08 PM  

Wow, so much disdain for a light-hearted romp of a puzzle?! My first theme entries were "chocolate" and "seltzer," so I was just so sure 117 across would be an egg cream, but alas, that didn't fit, even though I tried to force it.

This was a VERY rare DNF Sunday for me. I absolutely could NOT puzzle my way through the extreme SW. RULE ONE? MRI SCAN? And I had CAKE FLOAT before the more obvious answer finally came to me.

Agree with Armin that YSL and DKNY have not nor ever will be competitors as well as with Matt re DPI being a print measurement (dots per inch). Screen resolution is more correctly PPI (pixels per inch). However, Wiki tells me that DPI is, indeed, also sometimes used to describe video resolution.

Dirigonzo 12:16 PM  

Here in sundicationland* the publication of this puzzle coincided with the Moxie Festival, an annual celebration in Lisbon Falls, Maine (really!) so I feel it is my civic duty to protest @jackj's use of that beverage as an example of how bad he thought the puzzle to be.

My attempt at connecting the letters to complete the drawing resulted in a complete train-wreck so I'm glad my paper's solved grid had the lines drawn in - I guess that could be a COKEFLOAT with only a little imagination.

*Yes, I saw that typo, too, but I decided to leave it in because it is so appropriate to the weather here today. And now I am going back out to enjoy it.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Hand up for ESOTERa/aSL as the only blemish.

Other hand up for never having heard of a COKE FLOAT, though I don't doubt they exist.

Red Dog 3:15 PM
"Only strangeness was the tush-centricity"
Yes. This grid has two DR's in it. I'm sayin' they're both proctologists. (by the way, REAMS appears correctly spelled in the main theme answer).

Ruthie 4:40 PM  

Hardest part of this puzzle? The instructions on how to connect the letters to form a simple closed shape. Simple? Maybe for you.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Would be interesting some time to publish the comments before reading Rex's writeup to see if all the sheep still baa the same line. It's a puzzle, not a blueprint for life.

Chick in Easton 12:15 AM  

Not that anyone will see this, but the Spanish for "rope" is "cuerda." A reata is a lariat or lasso.

Prune 3:39 PM  

I quite agree with Rex: not even yawn-worthy. I take it that "coke float" is a common "thing" in some places; I've run into it in *one* deli only, which has "New York style" in its sub-title.

The clues for "riata", "nerds", and "gills" are wrong. Several of the fill-in-the-blank clues show a distinct lack of effort.

Yes, the existence of the puzzle demonstrates some non-trivial construction capability. However, this is more what I expect from King Syndicate, not NYT.

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