Neurotic Martin Short character / SUN 10-23-11 / Slayer of his brother Bleda / Like average folks in Britain / Start of 1957 song

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Take It From The Top" — Familiar phrases beginning with "IT" have "IT" removed, leaving ... odd phrases, clued wackily ("?"-style)

Word of the Day: Jennifer EHLE (119A: "Pride and Prejudice" actress Jennifer) —
Jennifer Ehle (born December 29, 1969) is a British-American actress of stage and screen. She is known for her BAFTA winning role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 mini-series Pride and Prejudice. (wikipedia)
• • •

I pity the fool who has to follow Patrick Berry.

[For those who are solving this in syndication on Oct. 30, this puzzle followed a massive 6-day metapuzzle spectacular by Patrick Berry; I guess you all won't get to participate in the contest (don't worry, the prizes were terrible anyway), but I assume you'll be getting the first of those puzzles in about four weeks time—at least I hope so, for your sake. They were amazing]

This is one of those Sunday puzzles that makes me wish I didn't have to do Sunday puzzles anymore. It seems like a puzzle that was called into being by the title—it's so spot-on, that it almost makes me think it came first. I can't believe that's true, but if I found out it were, I wouldn't be terribly shocked. The resulting phrases aren't funny, even with wacky "?" clues, and the fill was forgettable at best, horrific at worst. I have UGH written next to whole sections. The DYNAST / SALVIA (69A: Plant known as "seer's sage" because of its hallucinatory effects) / AMIENS (75A: Somme place) / LINO / ELY section. The IDEAL GAS (115A: Matter in statistical mechanics) / EHLE (!?) / CAA (?) section (104D: Major org. representing entertainers and athletes). The AD REM / ONEISH / QUI section. The PPG / AMSO section. NON-U, ugh (97A: Like average folks, in Britain). AVISOS, ughwordese (117A: Dispatch boats). TAX SALE ... zzzz (1D: Transference of property to pay assessments). Frankly, the whole thing feels auto-filled. A human being would / should balk at much of this stuff.

I know Merril HOGE, but didn't figure he'd be well known enough for the puzzle (20D: Longtime ESPN football analyst Merril ___). And spelling his name, forget about it (it's pronounced "HODGE"—not sure where the "D" went). What's annoying is how much more constructors earn for making a Sunday puzzle (5x what a weekday puzzle fetches!). I have never, not once, had five times the pleasure or joy from a Sunday puzzle. I have (many times) had 5x the tedium. Yet another inexplicable and backward feature of the crossword world ... kind of like the technical incompetence of the people who run the NYT "Crosswords & Games" web page (who have had two big screw-ups in the last two days). No reason for it, and yet ... there it is.

All the theme answers are down, so "IT" is literally taken "from the top." That's a vaguely interesting architectural feature, I'll give it that.

Theme answers:
  • 3D: Gets up for the debate? (STANDS TO REASON)
  • 7D: Beats it and won't explain why? (GOES WITHOUT SAYING) – see, this just doesn't work, even at the wacky level. The clue supplies the "why" that is *clearly missing* in the answer
  • 8D: Proof that a "Jersey Shore" character has an incontinence problem? (DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION) — Ew. On many levels, ew.
  • 13D: Arrests an entire crime syndicate? (RUNS IN THE FAMILY)
  • 42D: Contents of Lenin's tomb, e.g.? (REMAINS TO BE SEEN)
  • 33D: Eschews Mensa material when going to parties? (DOESN'T TAKE A GENIUS) — by "material" do you mean a human being? A date? Clue is weird.
  • 50D: Merits at least a 20% tip? (SERVES YOU RIGHT) — people *usually* drop the "IT" when saying this phrase.   

  • 1A: Onetime propaganda source (TASS) — Considered ITAR and USSR as well.
  • 32A: Neurotic Martin Short character (ED GRIMLEY) — whoa, talk about dated. I'd completely forgotten about this guy (and he was before my "SNL" time, anyway — my "SNL" time being the Phil Hartman years to the present)
  • 38A: Start of a 1957 hit song ("DAY O") — He's got a new book. Belafonte, I mean.
  • 65A: 1985 film based on "King Lear" ("RAN") — gimme. Kurosawa is superb.
  • 90A: His debut album was "Rhyme Pays" (ICE-T) — he used to be a crossword standard, but I feel like he's fallen off the grid is recent years. He raps a lot in "Breakin'" (1984).

  • 99A: ___ Park, classic Coney Island amusement locale (LUNA) — I knew this only because I have a graphic novel called "LUNA Park"
  • 11D: Athlete's attire, informally (UNI) — short for "Unicycle"
  • 15D: Slayer of his brother Bleda (ATTILA) — how come no one's named "Bleda" any more?
  • 94D: Untraditional, as some marriages (SAME SEX) — really really dislike this clue. If you're going to have an "untraditional" marriage, then maybe it will be open, or bi-coastal, or sexless, or brodcast on the internet, or ... I don't know. But you're just not going to say "oh, their marriage is very untraditional ... it's SAME SEX." I see why the clue is the way it is, I know what it's getting at, but no. Clue should simply read [Like some marriages]. Done and done. You could even add "New York" or "Iowa" to the clue if you wanted.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


mmorgan 7:58 AM  

I thought 8D was hysterical.

YontifSadie 8:08 AM  

I thought that
11D: Athlete's attire, informally (UNI) — short for "Unicycle"
might be short for unitard.
I just don't get unicycle.

Glimmerglass 8:29 AM  

Most of the theme phrases drop the "it" in ordinary speech (except maybe RUNS IN THE FAMILY), and so I didn't see how the title fit until I came here. Some of the fill felt slightly off (NON-U, LINO, ASS). Is the constructor British? I liked 8D, 42D. I liked the placement of STANDS TO REASON dead-ending at OR NOT, SERVES YOU RIGHT hanging down from HOSED, and GOES WITHOUT SAYING crossing SENT MESSAGE. I found this one a bit harder than the usual Sunday, and I wasn't bored at all. Didn't get ll of 8D until the last, and my reaction was aha (and maybe groan) but not ew.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

My blog of cheats of Facebook, Google+ and Tuenti

Ellen in Amsterdam 8:43 AM  

Never heard of this guy Hoge, but it's possible that his family is Dutch and "hoge" means "high". Just sayin'.

Ellen from Amsterdam

imsdave 9:17 AM  

I rarely disagree with the host, but I found this to be very enjoyable. Thought the theme answers were uniformly good, the cluing a bit chewier than the usual Sunday, and the construction angle, brilliant. A fine use of 35 minutes IMOO.

jberg 9:26 AM  

Long, dismal slog, far too many obscure names. I almost quit, but it came through at the end. Like @glimmerglass, I say all these phrases withouth the "It," so I din't see the theme until I came here - or rather I thought the title meant only that all the theme answers were top-down, i.e. vertical, which would really have been lame.

I did like REMAINS TO BE SEEN. That was about it.

@YontifSadie, you will learn not to take Rex seriously!

As for the NON-U/U distinction, that was fixed firmly in my mind decades ago by Nancy Mitford's classic "How to Talk U." (she had co-authors, but I can't remember who.)

JC66 9:26 AM  


The clue for 7D actually reads "Beats it AND won't explain why?"


M07S 9:27 AM  

@YontifSadie I think @Rex was being a tad sarcastic with "UNIcycle" as he obviously didn't like the answer.

Seems like a lot of people here don't like Sunday puzzles. They were all I used to do. Dead tree puzzles and any dead tree reference. Much more enjoyable and leisurely solves without electronics. Maybe I'll revert to that method (at least for Sundays) to get more enjoyment from them.

Louise G. 9:47 AM  

Definitely unitard!

r.alphbunker 10:12 AM  

Not in my wheelhouse. 32 clues needed almost all crosses to get. Miraculously only had to google for three of them. RAN, UNI, LIN, LINO, PPG, RAZR, NONU, CAA, EHLE, HOGE, QUI and ELY were particularly bad.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Started this puzzle and quickly decided it was a piece of crap,so on to the LAT, or Reagle,or Hook. Got better things to do than work on a junky puzzle. GBM

envirojam 11:03 AM  

uni-form, almost as horrible as lino

tom 11:07 AM  

ED GRIMLEY was on SCTV, not SNL. And the word "why" has never been part of the fairly common phrase "it goes without saying."

Isabella di Pesto 11:20 AM  

Ed Grimley was first on SCTV and then on SNL: From Wiki:

"Edward Mayhoff 'Ed' Grimley is a fictional character introduced on the television series SCTV and later used on Saturday Night Live. He was created and played by Martin Short."

That was my first gimme, [IT] Was all downhill from there.


Anonymous 11:32 AM  

i really needed the laugh from "unicycle" to ease the pain. thanks rex!

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Didn't really care for the puzzle. Didn't realize it was missing from the answers.

Loved 79A an instant!!!!

Now back to the weeks puzzles to try and figure out the answer!!! I must really be a dunce

chefbea 11:47 AM  

Forgot to mention..Our favorite diner closed here in Wilmington so we have been trying different places for Sunday breakfast. We found our replacement this morning...IHOP!!!
Loved it. Yummmy

600 11:48 AM  

I agree with @imsdave. I was certain that, after the excitement of the last week, today would be a let down. Wow, was I wrong. I LOVED this puzzle. But more on that later.

Unfinished business: To anybody who cares, I finally did "see the circles" referred to in the second clue yesterday. It took all my self control not to run back here and shout my victory to the heavens--well, at least to my fellow solvers-- but I decided figuring it out did not really constitute an excuse for breaking the three and out rule. (As @Z at least saw, for a second or two I thought it did.) Also, not having understood the circles did not keep me from getting the right answer. As @Alex said yesterday, I knew what the answer must be from solving just the first clue, and that made figuring out the second clue unnecessary. Unnecessary, but more genius. I am SO in the Patrick Berry fan club!

@Z--You have NO IDEA how hard it was for me not to leave that fourth post up! I hope you didn't feel guilty for long. There was an awful lot to say yesterday, and I had wasted a whole post on a short one almost immediately after my first. But here's my question: How did you know it was I who had removed a post? I was hoping that particular action would be anonymous.

@Noam D. Elkies--You are too much! I figured out the circles clue BEFORE I figured out your hint--your hint provided still another OHO!! moment. Thanks. (Maybe I should call figuring out the circles my D'oh! moment.) And, by the way, @Rex, I agree with Masked and Anonymous' first remark yesterday: interesting indeed. Wish I had seen it as early as MandA.

Is it breaking the rules of the blog to talk about yesterday/last week today? Oh, well. Last week was just too big to be confined. I can't imagine there'll be another such week any time soon. I can't imagine, but I do hope.

Okay. Back to today. I had norah before DELIA even though I was certain there was no H on her name. I tried punch before PASTE and sweet as can be before AS SWEET AS PIE. I loved how AGES and AGO crossed on the G, and I enjoyed seeing O'DAY and DAYO in the same puzzle.

By the way, speaking of O'DAY, I resolve to remember her and this ELY Culbertson. They have crosswordesed me for the very last time! And who is this SYD Chaplain? (No need to answer; I'll Google when I finish this post.) I'll also have to Google RAZR. I have no idea why it's right.

I hated "loser" as a clue for ASS even though I see how it works. Also didn't like DYNAST and a lot of the others Rex mentions. And I hated "untraditional, like some marriages," as a clue for SAME SEX.

But I did like the theme answers, particularly 8D. I got a big laugh from it (it's easy to laugh at "the Situation" anyway) and I was impressed that it spanned the entire grid. I also particularly liked 42D. And when it comes to DOESN'T TAKE A GENIUS, I assumed that referred to the Genius game. Otherwise it is, as Rex noted, a weird clue.

When I started this post, there were only 12 other comments, most of them short. I sort of feel I should apologize for being so long winded. But I won't. The excitement of the last week is still with me, and I completely enjoyed today's puzzle too. I guess for me excitement makes me loquacious--and I have been excited by the puzzling this week!

Norm 12:08 PM  

What @Glimmerglass said. The phrases worked so well without the IT that the title seemed irrelevant. Most of them at least made me smile, so it wasn't a total slog, and I'm always happy to see my old friend AVISO on patrol.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Agree that "it" is commonly missing from most of the theme answers anyway. Also didn't get what was meant by "material" in 33D at first, but now I see that the idea is a person who is smart enough to be "MENSA material," in the same way that, say, a really good basketball player might be "NBA material."

600 1:23 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:04--AHA! I hadn't thought of that. I like that explanation even better than the Genius game.

Friday (when I was doing the Patrick Berry puzzle in PDF) some commenters here complained they had done the wrong puzzle. That "wrong" puzzle showed up for the first time on my list today (by the time I got there, only PDF showed up on Friday) and I've just solved it. Obviously, I just can't get enough crosswords today. When I googled after the fact, I hit on a link titled "The New York Times Ferocious Crosswords: 150 Hard Puzzles." by Will Shortz. So, first of all, I'm delighted I solved a "ferocious" puzzle--but more importantly, I went to Rex's blog for the day the puzzle first ran (10/27/06.) Now THAT was an experience! It's amazing how this blog has changed--only four comments that day, two by the same person and one from Rex! (I vaguely remember someone posting a similar reaction earlier this week.)

More importantly, Rex posted his time: 22 minutes! Wow! So five years ago Rex was better than I am for sure, but almost in the same arena. He'd do that puzzle now in a fifth of the time. Does that mean there's hope for me? For all of us? I think so!

Z 1:32 PM  

@600 - I use my google account for posts here, and check the little box next to "email follow-up comments to...." I then get all the newer comments after my first post in my email. That is how I saw your post. Since the time of the email and the time of the deleted comment matched, I knew it was you. As for my guilty feeling, I wear it like a unicycle.

Liked today's puzzle just fine. Someone had to follow PB.

North Beach 2:09 PM  

So wanted Airplane! woman to be Shirley.

DrewMcW 2:42 PM  

@YontifSadie et. al
I think it's probably UNI = UNIFORM

Obviously Rex is joking

CoffeeLvr 2:51 PM  

Just to hold up the integrity of my avatar, I must note that SANKA may be instant, but it does not qualify as Coffee!

This was rough and tough for a Sunday, but I liked that the ridiculous (punny) aspects were only in the clues, not in the grid.

My observations of both High School debaters and [party censored] Presidential candidates conclude that not one of them STANDS TO REASON.

Very oblique cluing, and some obscure entries, but I did get them all eventually. For that alone, I would have to say I like the puzzle, but not all of the solving experience.


hazel 2:51 PM  

i thought this puzzle was pretty good. couldn't make heads or tails of it last night - but i think its just because my puzzler was sore. with a rested puzzler today, i liked it just fine. not a wowzer, but a good rebound puzzle.


@North Beach - that was my first thought too!

JaxInL.A. 2:56 PM  

Yeah, Sundays are a slog, almost regardless of the constructor. Rex is right, the theme is clever and well-executed, and it ought to be fun. But highly obscure stuff got in the way, and there was so much of it! Plus Joe has the unenviable position of capping a thrilling week. Frankly, if it weren't for all of you and coming here, I might just skip Sundays.

I really understand why PuzzleGirl took to co-solving the 7th day with DougP (still missing her/them). After a while Sundays just feel like work.

Did anyone else get a PB Sunday puzzle first on the iPad (solved it), which then changed to the di Pietro puzzle? Not sure what is going on with online access, but I agree with Rex that there is no accounting for such simple things failing to run smoothly.

I'm still bashing my head against the Saturday meta challenge. Got the first part, got the circles (very rewarding), pulled the corners, but I am lousy at anagrams and word scrambles, and that's the only way that I can think to approach it. Any hints?

Z 3:00 PM  

@JaxinLA - Read Saturday's 42A clue again.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Fun puzzle despite the childish complaints, starting with Rex's bitching. Get a life, dude.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

8D: Proof that a "Jersey Shore" character has an incontinence problem? (DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION). A TV series called Jersey Shore has characters named Deena and Pauly D, but having never seen it, I'm clueless. Ew indeed. Somebody help me out here.

Noam D. Elkies 3:52 PM  

If you're going to go to the toilet for the "Depends" clue (8D), at least be consistent (13D: RUNS_IN_THE_FAMILY).

The title does explain why the theme entries are all Downs instead of the traditional Across.


Anonymous 3:52 PM  

So, as I read Rex today IT sucks.

But I feel sorry for Rex. First he has to do a puzzle that he doesn't like or want to do. Then, on top of IT, he wants to do it as fast as he can. Seems to me that just timing yourself is joyless toil in ITself.

So, Rex, relax and enjoy IT.

PS. I liked REMAINS TO BE SEEN. And I agree with Norm and any other who said these expressions are often said without IT and often with THAT. So take THAT, Rex!

Martin 3:55 PM  



joho 4:04 PM  

Oddly enough, I wore my unicyle to church this morning.

DEPENDSONTHESITUATION was my favorite because it ran the length of the puzzle and evoked my biggest reaction.

@JaxinLa, I don't want to say too much here and don't know how much of hint you really want, so feel free to email me.

After last week, anybody's effort would pale in comparison, so I congratulate Joe for a fine Sunday puzzle with an original theme.

r.alphbunker 4:28 PM  

@Anonymous 3:46
One of the characters has the nickname "The Situation." This is I did not know. I got THESITUATION and rationalized that it meant that Jersey Shore was a sitcom.

jae 4:50 PM  

Tougher than the average Sun. for me. I'm with glimmerglass et. al. on the phrases working without the IT as I too did not get the theme until I got here. Needed my brides help for AMIENS which gave me ELAINE (where is "Jerry's ex girlfriend" when you need her). It's been decades since I've seen Airplane. I liked this better than Rex did but he is right about some of the ugly/obscure fill.

quilter1 4:56 PM  

IT was OK. Cute that leaving it off the theme answers and then put in Cousin ITT.

@chefbea: you are not a dunce. I got nothing, but then I don't want to work very hard at it either. Can't see circles and which first letters? I'd rather be sewing.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

r.alphbunker @ 4:50 PM -- I am a different Anon but you read my mind and that should scare the hell out of you.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Reading between as well as the actual lines in Rex's critique it is obvious that at some puzzle convention Joe flipped Rex the old WREN.

David 5:47 PM  

I'm with glimmerglass, norm, jae and anyone else regarding these phrases commonly not using the "it" in ordinary language. So I made it through fine but not ever getting the theme, just sorta enjoying some of the clever wordplay.

Several writeovers, HASSLE over HARASS, ELY over ELI, WEEP over WEAR (dumb). Never heard of IDEAL GAS, so the SE was very thorny for me. Also unfamiliar with ED GRIMLEY and SALVIA. Liked PEACE SIGN, loved DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION.

600 5:50 PM  

@JaxinLA--Since there are only 12 minutes left in the contest, I'll take the chance of TMI in this hint: You say you got the first part, pulled the letters, and found the circles. Read down.

Arlene 5:50 PM  

I'm just a ho-hum puzzle-solver - don't time myself - just do them for the fun of it. Every so often, I get a puzzle that I can't finish - so I put it down, and somehow am able to do some more after a rest - put it down again - and then finish it off. (I don't really like to Google puzzles - unless I'm really stumped.) This was one of those puzzles - and if you're not one of those speed-demon solvers, then you can appreciate the wonderful brain thing going on that allows you to keep solving when you thought you had hit a wall - by just giving it a rest for a while.

Sparky 6:36 PM  

Thank you @chefbea and quilter1. I was ashamed to even chime in yesterday. Today, I just didn't catch on. Must be the barometric pressure on my brain, or what's left of it.

Julie 6:55 PM  

It's after 6 pm east coast time. Can we talk about the meta-puzzle yet?

treedweller 7:31 PM  

@Noam D. Elkies I thought the same thing. THen, coming after DEPENDS and RUNS, REMAINS sounded scatological to me, as well.

Greg Charles 8:25 PM  

I'm pretty sure the symbol for flux is phi, not psi. Wikipedia backs me up there. That seems like a blown clue to me.

Martin 8:43 PM  

Psi and phi are both used for flux, often to distinguish the flux produced by a single turn of conductor vs. an entire coil.

It's a nerdy version of the "Mauna ___" clue.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

Greg Charles--I agree! Checked the Greek alphabet and the symbol is phi.
Did not love this puzzle; theme not hard to get, but lots of dumb or obscure fill.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

Thanks, Martin--who knew? But the Jersey Shore clue--I know who The Situation is, but yes, eeeeuw!

Detour 9:17 PM  

I too had Phi origianally. Found this much harder and sloggier than a normal Sunday. But no matter, as I'm still on a high from last weeks meta challenge

Detour 9:52 PM  

Can anyone explain the reference to Kirsty McColl's video Innocence? (In a sense?)

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

Will someone please tell Will Shortz that the KSU (Kentucky State University) is the Thorobreds? The Wildcats are at the University of Kentucky (UK or sometimes UKy). I've seen this mistake in more than one Sunday NYT puzzle.

Martin 11:24 PM  

@Anonymous 10:58

Wrong K.

CoffeeLvr 11:56 PM  

Thanks, @Martin.

Tita 12:20 AM  

Haven't been here all week for fear of 'spoilers' re: the meta puzzle.

I enjoyed doing this puzzle, though there were plenty of answers/clues to hate, as lots of you have pointed out.

Sent my email in with metadata answer in at 11:58pm, asking for an extension ;) (reminds me of being in school), since it was only when I got to my sister's and compared notes to her week's worth of puzzles that I realized I had done the WRONG Friday!!!!!

Across-Lite ate my Friday puzzle, Mr, Shortz!

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

OK, Martin, what's the right K?

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

At last I (anon 3:06) got 8D. While no one commenting here was helpful, Wikipedia allowed me to get on with my life by explaining that "Depend is a brand of unisex adult underwear for those experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence by Kimberly-Clark."

I've said it before and I'll say it again, ew.

smoss11 1:41 PM  

My post is so late in the week I am not sure anyone will read it but....

I am with Arlene. I put the puzzle down several times convinced I was stuck and then found solutions on a second or third attempt. I liked the fact that DEPENDS and PANDG (the manufacturer of DEPENDS) was in the same puzzle. Also I liked several clues that had double meanings (SKINNY=NEWS).

KSU is Kansas State University (Also the Wildcats along with Kentucky - Who knew unless you live in Kansas?)

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

Villanova and Northwestern, too

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Full of obscure answers, so did not finish. Not surprised to find this kind of rubbish from someone who spends their time watching Jersey Shore.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@ Anonymous 9:19 AM - The right K is the one that got its 71a whooped by Oklahoma yesterday.

(and add Arizona to the list of Wildcats)

Dirigonzo 5:08 PM  

Coming to you from snowy northeast syndiland, where it was a perfect day to spend inside doing a puzzle that took almost forever to finish. Well, almost finish as my progress screeched TOAHALT in the SE where I couldn't see IDEALGAS (maybe it's invisible?) and couldn't get the crosses to make it appear.

Someone has already mentioned early-Rex due to a wrong puzzle shwoing up. so let's visit him at RPDTNYTCP on this date 5 years ago:

- "Solving time: 4:34*"
- "Finished today's puzzle in Rex-record time, which makes me wonder how those of you who do it in HALF that time do it. I don't think I can write that fast."
- "[*ERRATUM, which is very sad to me, yet also possibly funny: I had two wrong squares today because I didn't check the crosses."
- "I detect a subtheme here. A dark and shady subtheme. My kind of subtheme. Underneath the friendly banter of this puzzle lies a hardboiled crime story."
- "One of about three places in the puzzle that slowed me down. To me, RES is "thing" in Latin. I do not own a Hi-RES monitor. I don't even own a DVR. I'm like a technology savage, watching shows only during their original air times, and only if I remember they're on. Even my iPod is big and clunky and memory-challenged. It's a wonder this blog gets published every day, frankly, what with my hamster-powered iMac and my decidedly Low-RES scanner."
- There were 5 comments including this from Rex himself" "If you liked Anka's floating head, you'll love today's (Halloween's) pics. Though come to think of it, the unexpected creepiness of the Anka head is hard to top. Even Christopher Lee bleeding from his mouth can't quite evoke the same horror as the Anka head."

Happy Halloween everybody.

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

Spacecraft here. Methinx Our Chief Blogationist is turning (ONADIME?) into a bona fide curmudgeon. Was it really that bad? Nah. But I do get Rex's point about being paid the daily rate x5.
21x21=441, while 15x15=225. That's less than twice as big, so to pay five times the rate seems excessive. But seriously, in a larger puzzle you're bound to have more junky fill--because there's just so damn much more fill, period! So I tend to cut the Sunday builders some slack.
This one had its share of obscurities, and a pet peeve of mine: NONU. Not only is that ugly fill, it's a stupid, senseless thing to say. Not a real big fan of SETSAT, either. But it was OK, the theme worked, sorta, the big one down the middle, while eliciting a visual "ew" for sure, was cute. Oh, come on, it was a little cute. And the puzzle had one more redeeming feature:
I finished it.

Nullifidian 12:50 AM  

Writing from syndication-land where I did this evening's puzzle while listening to a lengthy audiobook of J.B. Bury's History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great. And just as well, because this puzzle also took me forever.

It wasn't so much that the clues refused to fall, but more that there were lengthy theme clues, with tiny little regular fill, so it was a case of having to work one's way through a couple dozen small clues before hitting the broad patch of theme answers.

Unlike most here, SALVIA divinorum was my gimme—the very first thing I laid down. I'm in my early 30s, so perhaps it's a generation gap in drug culture. Not that I would know anything about that.... *whistles*

Progress was consistent throughout, but slow due to the number of blocks in this puzzle, breaking up the squares into smaller answers. I didn't have the same problems as others with IDEAL GAS, which is perhaps my science background seeing me through. Indeed, there was very little in the way of literary clues in the puzzle, unless you consider movie adaptations like the Pride and Prejudice miniseries and Kurosawa's Ran to be literary.

Overall, I'm nonplussed. The theme was somewhat weak, and there wasn't much of interest in the non-theme fill. Nothing struck me as being particularly clever or inventive.

So that's a new week begun, and now I can see if I can stick to my resolution to comment every day.

SharonAK 3:05 AM  

How could you not laugh at 42 D "Remains..." That was my favorite but I enjoyed the word play in all the theme answers and their clues.
I didn't even notice if some of the fill was bad.
Nonu was hard to think of but once got it from crosses I had an ah ha moment, remembering the book mentioned by someone. Ideal gas was an unknown for me, but educational (sort of)
Got a chuckle from Noam's take on 13D "Runs..." and enjoyed Glimmerglass' comments on placement of Stands to reason, etc. Hadn't noticed on my own, but I like.
Sundays are usually my favorite. Can be fun to keep it around to fill in through the week.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Syndication here. Could someone explain how succeed = ensue? I'm just not seeing the relationship between those two words.

Dirigonzo 5:28 PM  

@Anony 12:11PM - "Follow".

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

From syndication land - a week late.

Think of "succeed" meaning "to follow" instead of "to reach a goal"

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

This one suuuuucked. Yawn. Not challenging at all - it was difficult because it did not make sense at all. Clever phrasing and big words just replaced by meaningless combinations and uninteresting words/phrases that no one ever says or thinks. For example: "uni" is what british kids call college and ncis calls local cops (because they wear uniforms) - no one in the history of the world has. Both would have been more fun. No one in history has ever used "uni" to mean unitard. I occasionally I throw these away if I don't like the gimmick, but none as fast as this.

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