Premium Cuban cigar brand / SUN 2-26-12 / Multiple Grammy winner contestant Dancing with Stars / Fastener patented in 1939 / Feeling pervading Brat Pack movies / Spanish winds / Sod house locale

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Constructor: Daniel A. Finan

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Back to the Start" — theme answers appear to be missing their last three letters; to find them, you have to go "back to the start" (i.e. the missing last three letters are the first three letters of the answer)

Word of the Day: KEGLER (57A: X X X lover?) —
A person who bowls; a bowler.

[German, from kegelnto bowl, from Kegelbowling pin, from Middle High German kegel, from Old High German kegilpeg.] (
• • •

This is a theme that might be clever in theory but is not so enjoyable to work through in practice. Whatever the overriding thematic principle may be, the upshot is that the grid is full of nonsense like TONIBRAX (great potential space alien name, btw). Might have to name the kind of puzzle that has nonsense fill in it a TONIBRAX. Anyway, as I say, the concept is interesting, but I didn't even know what it was until I was completely done with the puzzle. I just thought "I bet those missing endings are gonna be important somehow" and I kept plowing ahead assuming I'd hit a revealer or explanatory note of some kind. No luck. Turns out I never actually looked at the title, but I doubt it would've helped much. It's not like the theme answers were tough, so I didn't really need to know the theme. The fill (with a couple of notable exception) is very solid. Better than average for a Sunday, I'd say. Yes, we can all find a handful of short stuff we're not that fond of, but that's expected in a grid this big. Overall, it's a feisty, jaunty, bubbly grid with lots of Scrabbly letters and cool answers like TROGLODYTES (37D: Cavemen) and TWIST TIE (124A: Fastener patented in 1939). But what the hell is up with KEGLER? People know that word? It seems ... not common, and that is the *last* kind of word you want to start getting cute with in the cluing. Not sure why you go with KEGLER there; it's utterly unnecessarily (I rewrote that part of the grid in my head in five seconds just now). Maybe the constructor actually *wanted* that word in the grid. Seems unfathomable, but maybe. Anyhoo ... that was about my least favorite moment of the solve (also, my last moment). I also had no idea what a COHIBA was (66D: Premium Cuban cigar brand). Was sure either KEGLER or COHIBA would end up being wrong. Not so.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Aide for a V.I.P. customer (PERSONAL SHOPPER)
  • 25A: Multiple Grammy winner who was a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" (TONI BRAXTON)
  • 35A: Prozac, for one (ANTI-DEPRESSANT)
  • 59A: Freudian concept (PLEASURE PRINCIPLE)
  • 78A: Mountains, rivers, plains, etc. (PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY)—I didn't know there was another kind.
  • 99A: Fancy salad ingredient (ARTICHOKE HEART)—you can get them at your local supermarket. I wouldn't say "fancy."
  • 117A: London transportation (UNDERGROUND)
  • 119A: Marlon Brando ("ON THE WATERFRONT")
I'd be surprised if a significant minority of solvers didn't have some trouble in the NE (toughest section of the puzzle for me). TONI BRAXTON seems fair game as a puzzle answer, but as a tricky theme answer like this, in an already tough section of the grid? Seems a bit mean, esp. with odd words like FRIARY (I had PRIORY) (15D: Brother's place), and a very trickily clued SEXT (19D: Send some pixxx?) and awkward TRAS and that stupid BENET guy I know only from crosswords (14D: Pulitzer winner for "John Brown's Body"). I worked it all out, but I actually own TONI BRAXTON music. I wonder if the majority of solvers are very familiar with her (I never know with you people). Could / will break along age lines, to some extent. If you listened to the radio in the '90s (or watch reality TV in the '10s), you know her. She had one of the nicest R&B radio voices of the '90s.

  • 1A: Bulb holders (LAMPS) — wrong, right out of the box. I had STEMS.
  • 54A: It may be popped for fun (WHEELIE) — great answer, and a good example of how fun much of the language in the grid is. I also particularly enjoyed YODELER (73A: Jimmie Rodgers or Tex Owens, musically), MCQUEEN (86A: "The Magnificent Seven" star), and "I AM A ROCK" (61D: Song that starts "A winter's day in a deep and dark December").
  • 92A: Spanish winds (AIRES) — oh I don't like this. I'd've gone with AIDES / LUDES (!) / SERTA / ROOMS. You can put drug slang in puzzles, right?
  • 44D: Modern December birthstone (ZIRCON) — Pfft. "Modern." You really gonna take your cues from a 1912 National Association of Jewelers decree!? How dare they undermine the purity of the birthstone tradition. I guess anything goes nowadays, with the long hair and loud music and sexting on the ipads and what not. ZIRCON!? Bah. It's turquoise or nothing!
  • 102D: Feeling pervading Brat Pack movies (ANGST) — Remember yesterday when I explained exactly how much of a [Reagan-era teenager] I was. So, yeah, I got this one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Ho Hum Sunday puzzle
XXX Lover = KEGLER. I didn't know it meant bowling. I took it as XXX rated, ie, porno.
One of my past online names was Fake COHIBA

foodie 12:12 AM  

The theme was original, and the hint in the title was very helpful to me. It had the potential to be great, but I think it fell short. May be my expectations were set high because the first two theme answers I got were PERSONAL SHOP and ANTI DEPRESS, so the last part was an actual word and the answer had the potential for some fun cluing... Like what would the fashionista love? a PERSONAL SHOP... But then, the nonsense answers appeared like on the WATERFR... Can't do a thing with that.

I recommend ARTICHOKE bottoms over ARTICHOKE HE... Have I told you this before: ARTICHOKE is pronounced in Arabic "ARDI CHOKY" which means from the earth and full of spines. I don't know if that's the etymology of the word or one of those inventive distortion after the fact (Arabic has plenty of them).

jackj 12:14 AM  

The answer for 23 across was clearly meant to be PERSONALSHOPPER but there was no place to put the last three letters and a rebus didn’t seem possible either.

What to do?? Just look at the puzzle title, “Back to the Start” and then imagine the first three letters also doing double duty at the end and that’s it. Clever, Daniel!

While wending my way through the puzzle it seemed that ending theme answers with the break at a vowel was just wrong and it felt like we were violating a rule of grammar by not stopping at a consonant. (PRINCI, GEOGRA and HE looked like they were kissing cousins to sentences ending with a preposition).

But, oops, fuhgeddaboudit, that silly gripe about the process went out the window when my favorite theme entry, UNDERGRO had a pesky vowel at its tail.

The fill was generally quite good, with two entries being standouts, (if for different reasons), VALETS, which was clued a little too casually, tense-wise, making for a negative highlight and TROGLODYTES, a fifty-cent piece among nickel and dime words as a positive bit of cluing. (Though TROGLODYTES isn’t a word that we see or use often, if at all, I’d hazard a guess that almost everyone was able to fill it in without much hesitation.)

On all counts, a fun Sunday puzzle from Daniel Finan. Thanks!

Pete 12:16 AM  

Read the title, thus had more fun with this one than did Rex. It was one of the few times I've bothered to complete a Sunday in recent years.

People still know about 'Ludes? - They haven't been manufactured in 30 years. My roomate one semester at college was a big fan - 1/2 a tab, 15 minutes being the most maudlin person you've ever met, then passed out. I never understood the allure, I mean, why put yourself through 15 minutes of being maudlin?

jae 12:45 AM  

Easy-medium once again.  I liked this one a lot.  Caught the very clever theme off the title immediately which made for a very smooth solve.  Plenty of YOWZA, ...TROGLODYTES, COHIBA, MCQUEEN, WHEELIE, SEXT,...

Erasures were LOO and ELHI before LAV and EDCU.

Nicely pitched Sun.

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

Fun puzzle. Didn't cat catch on until ON THE WATERFRONT and that helped with the rest of the puzzle. Other good stuff as well. Liked YANKEES as the bad guys!


Deb 1:03 AM  

@Anon 12:09, I took it to mean X-rated, too; and it didn't help that the first thing to pop into my head was Kegel exercises.

I recalled the title of the puzzle half-way through, so I didn't struggle terribly. I'm sure I've seen this same type of theme done in the NYT before, but I still found it clever.

I also tried priory before FRIARY, and Toni Braxton's name is familiar to me. Partly from hearing about her years ago in entertainment news, but she remains familiar mainly because she shows up in crosswords a lot.

Larry I in L.A. 2:16 AM  

My first malapop, RoOts before RHODA! They grow up so fast...

Must remember to read the title before starting a Sunday puzzle, but liked the theme well enough once I figured out it didn't involve a rebus. Caused myself a little trouble with the above-mentioned, plus cAsAde before LACASA, Loaf before LAZE and Loo before LAV.

Oddly enough, KEGLER made perfect sense because I was a sports journalist decades ago when gridders, cagers and other ridiculous words were still common in headlines.

chefwen 3:51 AM  

The title made it super easy for me, got it right off the bat with PERSONAL SHOP per. One of my first fills was popped a WHEELIE at 54A one of our teenage giggly things to do in a parking lot.

A fun, lovely, Sunday puzzle that was over too quickly for me

YontifSadie 6:50 AM  

X is the symbol for a strike when scoring in bowling, so XXX would be the best possible start for a kegler.

johnranta 7:21 AM  

This puzzle went quickly, but I remain baffled by "valets" as the answer for "has parked". Either the form or the tense is wrong, no? It works for me if the clue is "parks". What a, I missing? JR

Fitzy 7:43 AM  

I am not the world's greatest judge of fine cigars... but to me COHIBA=
excellence. In fact, the best cigar I ever had was a COHIBA knock off in the DR. & I don't mean a legit Dominican made COHIBA... a guy on the beach was trying to pass this thing off as a genuine Cuban COHIBA... but the band was glued on so outrageously haphazardly, I knew it was a knock off... but the guy was charging 1 DR peso (about 25-30 cents) so how could I go wrong? Let me tell ya this thing was delish!!! Best cigar I ever had... no lie! Chased the guy down the next day but he only had like 5 left... needless to say I bought him out... sorry for this long digression, but it was a very pleasant memory for me...

Glimmerglass 8:14 AM  

I'm with Chefwen in that I got the theme early on with PERSONALSHOP, confirmed with ANTIDEPRESS. It made the solve much easier. This was a clever and fun theme with a puzzle to match. Still, I wouldn't call the puzzle easy. There were several Fri/Sat clues: "Send some pixxx," "Hofbrauhaus crowd," "XXX lover,"and some arcane proper names. (I never heard VALETS used to describe what the owner does.) (Is KFC a FRYERY?)

ArtLvr 8:24 AM  

Ha - Rex sounds a bit more like a GEEZER today! I like the gimmick, which appeared early at WATERFR... The PHYSICAL geography, with natural features, reminded me that there was a whole Dept. of Geography at one university in DC until it was closed around 1970. A new one was created too, with my ex as chairman, called Materials Science -- it included study of ultra-high- temperature stuff, such as required for nose-cones of rockets. Sic transit...

joho 8:37 AM  

I loved this puzzle, therefore liked it a whole lot more than @Rex.

Like others got the theme right off the bat at PERSONALSHOP but that didn't dampen my fun one iota.

This puzzle kept me interested to the end which is no small feat for a big Sunday grid.

Thank you, Daniel Finan for your original concept and fresh execution of such!

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Is Daniel Finan really the constructor's name? Or is it Daniel Finandan?

question 8:56 AM  

i actually really enjoyed this puzzle and the theme, which i figured out midway through.
QUESTION: i don't understand the clueing for "sore" and "achiest". i know that sores ache, but "achiest" clue seems wrong. am i alone in this - or am i just missing something?

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Yannow...when are you complainers ever going to realize the Sunday puzzle is meant to give most of us an hour or two of brain fun? Picking on a single clue when there are so many that made you ponder and grok? Lighten up people and admire the constructors effort and accomplishment.

If ever you travel to Boston, you'll find kegling a wicked big sport. And what's wrong with AIRES? Jeeze...learn to relax, have's Sunday fer crissakes.


Sue McC 8:58 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot. For some reason the title and the first theme clue kicked right in, so the theme answers were a breeze. KEGLER and ADSPACE were a different story. Fun!

evil doug 9:03 AM  

I like the XXX/xxx combo. Keglers especially love finishing with three strikes in the 10th frame---a "turkey", I think it's called---and particularly when it completes a perfect 300 game. My son-in-law's done that twice. Pixxx-sext? Nice.

Twist ties 1939? Who knew? Good trivia, that.

I don't do Sundays, but just looking at the answers---and the cute little theme---I can tell this would have been one I enjoyed.


Ulrich 9:08 AM  

I'm with all of those who bothered to get the theme early and then used it consistently to complete theme answers--it was actually fun.

I mentioned a while ago that I love the type of clue for DREI, and seeing it cheek-to-cheek with ANGST makes one think--here are DREI that may produce Angst in a German burger--not in a Kegler, though--they are normally in a beer-induced haze.

CoolPapaD 9:30 AM  

I'm with @johnranta re VALETS - I knew it had to be correct, but I agree that the tense is just wrong.

Overall, I thought this was a nice grid, and the title sure helped me crack the code - loved all of the theme answers.

I've never heard of an artichoke bottom - must look into it. I remember from my meat-eating days that the bottom sirloin seemed a much tastier cut than the top sirloin at a Brazilian churrascaria. Ah, memories.....

So sad about my schedule last week - hope to someday meet Shamik, Tom, and ACME in person!

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

This was a cinch, finished in record time. Thanks. But now i really need help on the double crostic! Anybody else find thi s thorny one?

Sir Hillary 9:59 AM  

To each his/her own, of course, but I don't get the complaints on this one. Clever theme (pretty easy to suss out if you read the title) which led to lots of fun in figuring out the theme answers. My favorite was ARTICHOKEHE. Solid, even above-average, fill with only a few dodgy entries.

Everything a Sunday should be but often isn't -- breezy, fun, clever. Top marks.

SethG 9:59 AM  

SEXT was my first answer. Kinda liked KEGLER, though I agree it's a ridiculous word. Got the theme with UNDERGRO, and it eventually helped with TONI when I finally realized she was a theme answer. That corner's tough.

My first Sunday puzzle in weeks, and I maybe didn't miss it much.

Miami New Times 10:06 AM  

Saints linebacker Stanley Arnoux left his 2008 championship ring in his vehicle when he valeted his car at the Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach on Memorial Day Weekend.

boteagan 10:08 AM  

With SEXT, "vagina monologues," "xxx," Can someone please explain the "breakfast test?"

imsdave 10:12 AM  

KEGLER and COHIBA were gimmes - I loves me a good Cohiba - get one about once every two years when a friend smuggles one in from a cruise.

This is one of my favorite puzzle types - a twofer. Whenever I do a puzzle like this, I never look at the theme clues and try and figure them out only from the crosses.

Very well done Mr. Finan!

mitchs 10:12 AM  

There's a nice Berry over at WAPO.

Troglodyte, Mcqueen, Kegler, Wheelie, etc = nice Sunday. Agree that the NE was the toughest...I saw the title right away and agree with others that made solve more enjoyable.

JenCT 10:26 AM  

Really liked this; the title definitely helped.

@Deb: hand up for KEGels.

Tried DOMESTIC before DECLAWED for "Like some housecats."

Favorite clue/answer: "Hofbrauhaus crowd?"/DREI.

YODELER/SYPHON and SEXT/NEAREST took me the longest.

I solved from the bottom up, so got the theme at ON THE WATERFR.

Z 10:45 AM  

Liked the puzzle. The inverse rebus nature of the puzzle is nice (instead of a square doing double duty, the letter does double duty). Sparkly fill, scrabbly letters, fun cluing, what's not to like. Well, I guess one demerit for the RRN at 108D.

I got KEGLER off the K - a fairly familiar term here in metro Detroit. Not daily, not even common, but hardly rare or unknown.

Loren Muse Smith 11:01 AM  

I always drive to my job itching to log on to the blog (yes, I have to work today); all the scuttlebutt cracks me up!
This puzzle I will label charming, and though I found some of the cluing hardish, it was skillfully done. I did look at the title and got the theme right off with ANTIDEPRESSANT. I thought it was sophisticated, interesting, and grew edgier the more I filled – YOWZA, SEXT, HI MOM! Rex nailed it- I seemed to toil eternally in the NE. I did need a sword (Excalibur perhaps?) to cut through all the proper nouns, and I knew some fusspot types would object to ZIRCON. At first I thought I would have to rely on ole moderately but finished the NE before I could say boo. German DREI was nicely clued and that one scrap permitted me to finish the SW fairly quickly. Like @jae, had a petit slip up at 40A, thinking LOO - ergo nada nada nada in that area for a while. Crosswordese standards we seem to always poo poo – pie, pan, tsar, epee, peen - well, luckily this one went light on them. Overall I give this a very high (but it’s not nosebleed high) rating. (@jae – I worked this outside on a washed-up rickety old table while my dogs played. My Bic #2 0.7 slipped and made a mark but once I got the speck erased, I was able to carry on.) By far the most fun I’ve had all week and without a doubt, it ushered in my morning with pizzazz.

@Boteagan, I just learned that you want to avoid indelicate subjects before breakfast, as most people work the crossword in the morning. As a sidebar for what it’s worth, I don’t think immature, juvenile (snicker, snicker) and just plain offensive words or phrases need to be taboo, but it’s probably better if they’re disguised. . . ;-)

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Liked the theme, probably because I caught on with the first one. Keller is familiar to any reader of the sports section.

John Hoffman 11:11 AM  

I liked the puzzle. I'm glad for words like KEGLER in crossword puzzles because it's fun to learn new stuff. But not too many of course.

Who can come up with more words that would work with this theme? I've been thinking and can't come up with one. ON THE WATERFR is hard.

Lindsay 11:21 AM  

Bowling? Wasn't there a conversation here recently about what the "XXX" on cartoon liquor bottles means? Anyway, I hypothesized that a KEGLER loves drink, probably to the point of passing out on a public street

David 11:21 AM  

Also really like the puzzle, which was helped along greatly by having paid close attention to the title. Found my first big footholds in the middle, and thus got the theme at PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY. Still, none of the remaining theme answers were gimmes, all requiring a little thinking and some crosses.

Also had a tough time in the NE, esp. as I wasn't considering the lowest of that 8-letter stack as a themer. It took nailing EMBRYOS (great clue and answer) to unlock that section. Only other hangup was really wanting HEARTS OF PALM for ARTICHOKE HEART, but falling one letter short.

Was familiar with the word kegling from somewhere, but it was cemented in my brain while watching a Cheers episode where Cliff Clavin pontificated on the word for a good part of the episode.

swimslikeafish 11:25 AM  

Liked this puzzle, but then I always look at the title, since it should be part of the humor that makes a good crossword enjoyable, to me. Hands up for LOO instead of LAV which made me especially annoyed with VALETS.
Rex, there is cultural geography, and economic geography, too.
Been away from Rexville for a while...nice to be back!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

The theme was just okay... being that it's Oscar Sunday, ONTHE WATERFR was the timeliest answer. Wished the others were Academy Award related...

Z 11:33 AM  

@LMS - Naughty naughty.

evil doug 11:34 AM  


I bow to your mastery. Your best yet, just terrific. Passes MY breakfast test....

One wonders: Would you decode "I found some of the cluing hardish, it was skillfully done" or "petit slip" to your visiting parents? Or your daughter?

I bet you would, and that's why I'm grateful for your presence.


WesIsland 11:37 AM  

About 41-down, "has parked" = "valets." My wife often said (in Chicago), "are we going to park it our self, or have it valeted?" And I sometimes said, "let's valet it." So to me, valets means to have someone park your car, i.e., has parked.

archaeoprof 11:41 AM  

Liked it _very_ much.

@Anonymous 857am: Amen!

Thank you, Daniel A. Finan.

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Got the theme fairly early and that was a big help. Didn't like valets but love artichokes, hearts and all especially carchoffi Judea that you can read about in my daughter's blog.

Of course new Elon and 120 Down.

Re-Pete 11:47 AM  

Liked the puzzle but found it on the easier side. Can't believe 'Felt on the head'/FEZ didn't rate a bullet. Also solved from the bottom to the top and figured out the gimmic from ONTHEWATERFR. Have never heard of Toni Braxton. Her name could have been Toni Brax and I wouldn't have known. I used to bowl in a league does that mean I used to KEGLE?

Loren Muse Smith 11:49 AM  

My parents and daughter are about sick to death of hearing about this blog.

My shenanigans do not at all represent any kind of mastery. I just have no life and too much time on my hands.

GILL I. 11:50 AM  

I thought this was fun and quite clever. Must have been a bear to construct. Lots of Spanish references which always make me smile. PASO Robles is now becoming well known for some great Zins. Never heard LA CASA referenced in a Spanish restaurant....COHIBA brings back memories. I picked up a box for my Dad when I was in Vancouver for Expo 86. The Canadians love to tell all to come smoke some good Cuban especially since they can import the real stuff and sell it legally. Dad wouldn't even open the box. The COHIBA was originally made for the exclusive PLEASURE of Castro. He said he would rather die than to suck on something Fidel enjoyed.
@foodie: My best friend in Florida used to say "Okie doky artichoky" I wonder if she got this from the Arabs?
Thank you senor Finan for a WHEELIE of a puzzle.

Norm 11:50 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Did not get the theme until PLEASURE PRINCIPLE but then was able to go back and fill in the NW and the territory in between, and zoomed through the rest. Thought the theme answers were quite good. And, Rex, there are many other types of geography -- e.g., human geography, which entails (in my limited understanding) an examination of population distribution in terms of migration, geopolitics, economics, etc. An example could be looking at how a transit district serves or underserves certain communities.

mac 12:00 PM  

One of the most enjoyable Sunday puzzles I've done in a long time.

I read the title for a change, and got the theme at personal shop(per), which really made it a lot easier. The NE was indeed the hardest, even with embryos and sext in place. Another little hickup at 45D, where "rarity" had the i in just the right place...

Zircon is a pretty expensive stone, not to be confused with cubic zirconia.

@Deb and @JenCT: me too re Kegel.

Recently I had Artichokes alla Romana at Renato's in Palm Beach, where a valet took care of our car.
Artichokes are one of my favorite foods, especially the bottom. Best fresh, of course, but if not available try to get them frozen, much better than the brined ones. Same goes for the hearts.

I've bought some nice food for the Oscar party!

wyonative 12:00 PM  

I got the theme at artichoke hearts and did the puzzle, as I often do, from the bottom up. Kegler was the last for me: I wanted it to be kegger. I am impressed by a constructor who can find so many word strings that fit this theme. This is the kind of word play that I love.

One of my cathcpas today is "readire." Seems like an appropriate word to use when Rex and others are especially irritated with a puzzle's construction.

Kegler Elf 12:02 PM  

@Wesisland: Thank you! That makes much more sense. I would have been mulling over that answer on what should be a relaxing Sunday.

Z 12:05 PM  

@LMS is one bold poster. Skip if you want to find her naughtiness on your own:

I always drive to my job itching to log on to the blog (yes, I have to work today); all the scuttlebutt cracks me up!
This puzzle I will label charming, and though I found some of the cluing hardish, it was skillfully done. I did look at the title and got the theme right off with ANTIDEPRESSANT. I thought it was sophisticated, interesting, and grew edgier the more I filled – YOWZA, SEXT, HI MOM! Rex nailed it- I seemed to toil eternally in the NE. I did need a sword (Excalibur perhaps?) to cut through all the proper nouns, and I knew some fusspot types would object to ZIRCON. At first I thought I would have to rely on ole moderately but finished the NE before I could say boo. German DREI was nicely clued and that one scrap permitted me to finish the SW fairly quickly. Like @jae, had a petit slip up at 40A, thinking LOO - ergo nada nada nada in that area for a while. Crosswordese standards we seem to always poo poo – pie, pan, tsar, epee, peen - well, luckily this one went light on them. Overall I give this a very high (but it’s not nosebleed high) rating. (@jae – I worked this outside on a washed-up rickety old table while my dogs played. My Bic #2 0.7 slipped and made a mark but once I got the speck erased, I was able to carry on.) By far the most fun I’ve had all week and without a doubt, it ushered in my morning with pizzazz.

@Boteagan, I just learned that you want to avoid indelicate subjects before breakfast, as most people work the crossword in the morning. As a sidebar for what it’s worth, I don’t think immature, juvenile (snicker, snicker) and just plain offensive words or phrases need to be taboo, but it’s probably better if they’re disguised. . . ;-)

I'm sure I missed some since I found two more on the re-read.

mac 12:12 PM  

@Lauren: amazing! And @Z: thanks for the translation!

JenCT 12:19 PM  

@Z: thanks for the decoding, once again.

@loren: too funny!

MountainManZach 12:34 PM  

I had KissER for KEGLER, which I think is actually a fantastic answer (XXX lover, as in Xs and Os). Had to look up the word, which I assumed was someone who did Kegel exercises... but I guess that would be a KEGELER. Possibly an XXX lover, also.

evil doug 12:34 PM  

That's a nice job, Z. And while 'poopie' could stand alone, Loren managed to get 'pants' attached to it, too.


Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

@31: To answer your sort-of poll question, I am fuzzily aware of the entity also known as TONIBRAX(etc.) Enough to fight my way thru that NE corner, anyhoo. Not enough to name a song, tho.

Particularly liked this theme. This Finan dude is one clever constructor. And I'm not just sayin' that because of today's strong evidence; he did a brain-gobbling rebus puz based on eighth notes with crazy-crunchy fill, about a year ago. He's creative and thinks like a scamp; nice combo. Hopefully, he's hooked on puz-building for the long hall. [Yeah yeah, I know]

@loren ms: Har. Audition passed. I'm a fan. Start buildin' grids, girl.

chefbea 1:08 PM  

@Loren...great work
@Z..thanks for the explanation

Raúl 1:17 PM  

Imagined dialogue from The Magnificent Seven based on a recent discussion on this blog:

Calvera (Wallach): Somehow I don't think you've solved my problem. Do you solve in Pencil or Ink ?
Chris (Brynner): Solving your problems isn't our line.
Vin (McQueen): We deal in lead, friend.

Clip of original: Ride on.

ranman 1:17 PM  

I thought RP was a little too rough on the kegler clue. I don't even bowl but I've heard the term many many times more in 50 years than, say, BESOM or REPINE; and, it made sense to my mind with just a little help from crosses. Fun overall and no clunkers from my perspective. Nice.

Cathyat40 1:20 PM  

I had the opposite experience of Rex. I almost never notice themes when I work puzzles. Often, I don't even try to figure out the theme once I'ved finished. With this puzzle, I not only figured out the theme, I used it to work out the fill. I enjoyed it and found it easy.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I had a totally different interpretation of the "X X X" clue. Immediately thought "alcohol" so "KEGler" made sense to me!

johnranta 1:33 PM  

@question - think of sore as a description, not a wound. "I'm feeling sore all over" and then the one who feels the most sore is the "achiest".

Masked and OusAnonym 1:37 PM  

@KEGLER clue: no problemo.

Ouch. I Robot.

Mel Ott 1:42 PM  

GEEZER here.

In the 40's and 50's sportwriters used to call bowlers KEGLERS even tho nobody had any idea what the hell a Kegel was. And they called basketball players cagers even tho the court had not been caged off from the crowd for decades.

Seems to me I had to read some Stephen Vincent BENET in HS. Did he write "The Devil and Daniel Webster"?

Fun puzzle.

Rube 1:48 PM  

Knew KEGLER from forever -- may be one of those age things. There was an article in the NYT sports section just last week about a 14 year old kid who was bowling with the pros in PBA tournaments -- and wining money!

Bever heard of COHIBAs, wanted CoronA, even tho it's a type, not a brand. Never got into cigars -- was a long time pipe smoker.

Memory and Google translator said that Spanish winds are vientos. I guess that AIRES, as in Buenos Aires works too, although they are two different things. Any Spanish speakers here?

Lighting professionals and interior designers use the term LAMPS instead of bulbs. Actually, this term is probably used exclusively among themselves as they know that the hoi poloi calls a light bulb a bulb.

Had _AX in that very difficult NE and wanted Hoyt AXton, but he died long before "Dancing with the Stars". Never heard of TONIBRAX(ton) -- as usual for pop stuff.

TROGLODYTE! What great fill for a very fine puzzle. Gonna put REBECCA on my Netflix cue... don't think I've seen it.

jae 2:02 PM  

@lms -- Very impressive! Thanks for keeping my initials "clean."

Tita 2:21 PM  

We do occasionally use TROGLODYTE as a mild insult...I;ve liked the word ever since visiting their MILIEUs in France in the 80's.

ANTIDPRESS made me go 'huh?" and look at the theme, but that was well into the solve. I found the puzzle hard before getting the theme, them moderately easier.

Didn't realize TONIBRAX was not a complete name.

Liked Stern taking a bow (in 2 senses) particular because it also tried to direct me towards a nautical answer.

@Rube - fabulous movie - do watch it!

Nice work, Mr. Finan, and Lorn - you're hilarious! @Z - I too am thankfgul for your translation.
Happy Sunday all!

M07S 2:26 PM  

It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That [Zing] and this puzzle had it in spades. And so did the commentary thanks to the clever LMS. Sundays rule.

Cheerio 2:33 PM  

Good Sunday puzzle and great comment @lms!

M07S 2:34 PM  

PS: For those of you who have never enjoyed Toni Braxton's voice, check it out here:

Susie 3:07 PM  

I found the title of the puzzle very helpful, it got me answers when I was struggling (e.g., Pleasure Princi PLE). I did not like NE corner either. had closest instead of nearest - took forever to clear that up!

Lewis 3:18 PM  

@anon 8:56 -- you made me laugh

@johnhoffman -- Exactly. I was thinking all the way through, how did he come up with these theme answers?

@lms -- instant classic!

The first theme answer I got was UNDERGRO, so I figured 25A would be a theme answer also. I solved the SW first and ended in the NW. I loved this puzzle -- a medium-hard solve for me, but DNG. Knowing the gimmick helped me a lot. Bravo and thank you, Daniel!

retired_chemist 3:29 PM  

Hand up for liking it, a lot. No problem here with KEGLER, SEXT, the theme answers (once I figured the theme out), or actually very many of the answers. All fair and none really unknown except COHIBA, for which the crosses were fine. Also hand up for ROOTS before RHODA, which stayed until I was SURE of 110A.

Clues were more challenging overall than the usual Sunday IMO. A plus.....

Stephen Vincent BENET was a gimme. My senior year in high school our speech class did a recitative based on John Brown's Body. We performed once, at some senior citizens' home as I remember. In retrospect this was remarkable for West Virginia in 1956-7. That was the first year my high school was integrated. Elementaries and junior highs came later.

Had SEMINARS before GABFESTS. There is usually at least some difference.....

Love TROGLODYTES. I use the word exactly like @Tita does.

Seems to have a wide variety of fill - something for every age group. Am I misreading this - or is it aimed at us who are 80Ds? Not that we 19D very much.....

Thank you, Mr. Finan.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Yes, Stephen Vincent Benet wrote The Devil and Daniel Webster. Parker never heard of him and calls him stupid. Doesn't he say he teaches college?

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

If he's using a computer to construct, it takes approximately no time at all to find possible theme answers. The hard part is coming up with the theme in the first place.

edmcan 4:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
edmcan 4:07 PM  

I liked this puzzle and got the theme right away and sailed through it. Ironically, I remember 'Kegler' from when I first started NYT puzzles, edited by Maleska, ie. a long time ago.

Sparky 4:51 PM  

Saw the theme with ARTICHOKEHE then ONTHEWATERF. That helped work on the others. Did'nt see that 25 and 117a were theme answers. I always read the title first.

Sorry, do not think YOWZA a real word. Hand up for loo and elhi before LAV and EDUC. Thanks @YontifSadie for the explanation. Like @Lindsay I remember the long discussion recently re xxx on bottles in cartoons. Vaguely remember kegel being a pin.

Very clever @Loren, @Z thanks for the reveal. Sagittarians unite; turquoise forever.

r.alphbunker 4:53 PM  

@Anonymous 3:48PM

A quick search of some xword puzzles archives reveals the following possibilities and found 5 of the 8 theme answers in this puzzle.



GILL I. 5:01 PM  

@Rube: Spanish winds are both viento and aire. Hace mucho aire/viento. Viento is more commonly used.
@Loren. That was some cleverness. @Z thanks for translating. Good Sunday chuckle!

retired_chemist 5:05 PM  

Isn't BUENOS AIRES enough of a tipoff for AIRES?

CoolPapaD 5:21 PM  

I'm still not happy about the VALETS answer - still seems like the tense is wrong, and it's making me tense.

The competitive arm-wrestlers on this blog make me laugh!alud

michael 5:54 PM  

Very easy --got the theme right away. Only the northeast gave me any problems at all.

I had almost as much trouble proving I'm not a robot on Blogger. These things can be hard to read and I often make typos...

boteagan 7:52 PM  

Great , great puzzle!! Loved WHEELIE and YOWZA

@Z- you missed TOIL ETernally and wAS Sophisticated.

Keep 'em coming Loren. I'm on to your clever games!

Kev Stevens 12:25 AM  

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Stan 12:32 AM  

Liked it for the strong fill throughout and the well-executed theme.

Honestly I have no idea what Rex is talking about when he objects to themes that leave nonsensical 'ugly' phrases in the completed grid. I mean, within the context of the theme, they make perfect sense. But this is one of those un-arguable aesthetic judgments. Rex prefers themeless puzzles in which each answer word is perfect unto itself. Cool. But there is room for themes, too, especially on Sundays.

jberg 8:59 AM  

We were up in Vermont for the weekend, but I forgot to stop the newspaper delivery, so I was able to solve this one early Monday morning. (I just can't get into online solving- maybe after I retire.)

Way too late to say much, except that in my youth several of my friends were in bowling leagues, which were covered in our local paper. Sportswriters being what they are, I actually saw KEGLERS quite a lot - so that one was easy once I figured out the XXX.

judge joe 9:03 AM  

i was very surprised to see that rex did not appreciate this theme...i thought it very clever...glad to see that so many struggled at the same places i did, as i am a troglodyte compared to so many of you

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

My husband and I always work the puzzles together. Our paper carried this puzzle on March 4, therefore I am just responding. We thought this theme was very interesting and clever and were surprised that Rex didn't think likewise. Our first "back to the start" fill was undergro, which gave us the gist of the puzzle right off the bat. The NE corner was our last fill. We were not thinking Tonibrax would be a wrap-around answer. Fun and enjoyable puzzle!

Red Valerian 2:06 PM  

Liked the puzzle a lot, but LOVED the comments. Thanks @Z for "translating" @LSM's hilarious post. I'd read it, thought it a little odd, read @Evil Doug and didn't understand...

Using @r.alphbunker's list, surely there's something that can be done with esob

@Gill I.P.--so, is this why you were thinking of Cohibas last week? If you plan to come up to Vancouver again, drop me an email.

I'm another who thought KEGLER had something to do with drinking.

I realize that this is old news to non-syndisolvers, but I am dismayed at the loss of the email notification feature. Thanks, @Bob Kerfuffle, for the rant "yesterday" (syndi-time).

Spacecraft 2:16 PM  

All right, I'll do the whole thing over. Again. (Grrrr)
Lots to enjoy today. I liked the interplay of WOUNDEDKNEE, from which Sacheen Littlefeather traveled to accept Brando's Oscar (though not for ONTHEWATERFRont). Also shout-outs to Star Trek (AMOK) and Star Wars (ARTOO). And a very special nod to Gig Young, whose "YOWZA YOWZA YOWZA"'s permeated his Oscar-winning performance in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Those who have not seen this film, which also showcases Jane Fonda at the top of her form, are missing out.
Theme entries started well with PERSONALSHOP--but Mr. Finan led with his chin. Only ANTIDEPRESS and my 7th-grade mystery word came close to looking complete. Came in to English class one day to find this on the board:

_ _ _ E R G R O _ _ _

The teacher said, "Who can give me a common English word by placing three letters before--and the SAME three letters, IN ORDER--after these?" No one got it. This is one example of why I do word games and puzzles so much.
Although IAMAROCK is not one of my favorite Simon tunes, I'm a huge fan and enjoyed the howdy-do.
Mostly great fill, and with Saturday cluing it made for a good solve. One writeover, LOO for LAV (well, wouldn't you, mate?). Loved the clue for ISAAC.

Sage of La Mesa 6:42 PM  

Clever, Spacecraft. And, very propitious. Actually, today I enjoyed the comments on this blog more than the puzzle. It's always a hoot when one blogger teases another. Hooray for anonymity. Better than all participants hanging out in the quad together. I kinda think Evil Doug is also Z. Z or Zorro, no less.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

I got the theme on the second one I entered, Toni Braxton, only because I happen to have a couple of her albums. So I knew it was Braxton, Not Brax. The first one Personal Shop, I didn't notice.

I too long ago learned of kegler from doing Maleska ere NYTs. It was often in puzzles, and I thought it referred to the name of a famous bowler. After all these years I find out I was wrong.

People are so smart on this blog that I'm emBARE ASSED.

Anonymous 1:22 AM  

Too much commentary on kegler. I remember looking up kegel in elementary school while reading Rip Van Winkle. Pleasant two hour puzzle. My favorite clue: place after place. Being a horse racing enthusiast since I was old enough to talk, I know too well "Win, Place, Show", meaning that show comes after place!

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