Republican politico Michael / SUN 1-25-15 / Embroidery loop / Did 1930s dance / WIth Reagan memoirist / Secure as sailor's rope / Cutlass model of 1980s-90s / Whirlybird source / Kiss drummer Peter / She's asked When will those clouds all disappear in 1973 #1 hit

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Twist Ending" — familiar phrases where last two letters have been switched ("twist"ed?) to create wackiness (with customary "?" cluing)

Theme answers:
  • I CANNOT TELL A LEI (23A: "Those wreaths all look the same to me!"?)
  • SCAREDY CAST (3D: Group of actors who all have stage fright?)
  • YOU'VE GOT MALI (39A: Start of an oral listing of African nations, perhaps?)
  • RAISING THE BRA (53A: Showing less cleavage?)
  • A QUARTER TO TOW (84A: Cheap roadside assistance?)
  • ILLEGAL A-LINE (99A: Knockoff dress labeled "Armani," say?)
  • ANNIE, GET YOUR GNU (116A: Caution to an orphan girl not to leave her wildebeest behind?)
  • OBTUSE ANGEL (70D: Lovely but stupid person?)

Word of the Day: LINDIED (96D: Did a 1930s dance) —
The Lindy Hop is an American dance that evolved in HarlemNew York City, in the 1920s and 1930s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. It was very popular during the Swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazztapbreakaway and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is not the kind of theme I expect to be able to pass muster anymore. Can't imagine why it was accepted. It's completely adequate, but the core concept is ancient, and not terribly imaginative, and Sunday is a marquee day. I don't understand how a theme like this deserves showcase status. This theme is (more or less) infinitely replicable. Just find any word where the "twist" thing with the last two letters works, find a phrase that ends in one of the variations, boom, theme answer (DIRTY POLO, FORD PINOT, etc.). Now, it's possible that if your answers and/or clues are truly, genuinely funny, then the tiredness of the concept won't be an issue, and this puzzle does manage to get off a couple good phrases, most notably RAISING THE BRA and ANNIE, GET YOUR GNU (which is enjoyably ridiculous). The rest are just OK, at best, and I CANNOT TELL A LEI doesn't make sense at all, even as clued. You can't tell them … apart … you mean? Right? You would never use that phrasing to mean what the clue says you mean. Never.

The fill here is often ILLY chosen. It's probably average-ish, over all. The NE and SW corners deserve some praise, but there's probably a bit too much ENERO ATEM AMENRA for my taste. This puzzle has this weird thing it's doing with both adjectival and past tense -ED suffixing. That is, stuff, that I never see with that suffix somehow has that suffix. ENCORED? PILLARED? LINDIED? All defensible, I'm sure, just like PETTER (?) is probably defensible. It's just odd. ANISES? If you say so. At least that one makes me (or my inner 8-year-old, which is just a euphemism for "me") laugh.

[Time has made this … disturbing. Moreso …]

I published a puzzle once called "Final Twists" (Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, ed. Ben Tausig). But there, the "twists" involved the whole word (not just the final two letters) *and* (this is key), they all involved titles of crime novels (which, of course, typically feature "final twists"). [Raymond Chandler crime novel about giant banana skins?] = THE BIG PEELS. Etc. So the theme, you know, made sense. Here, "Twist Ending" is just this random thing you're doing to totally unrelated phrases, so the theme lacks coherence. Also, A QUARTER TO TWO would never fly as a crossword answer, so it shouldn't be able to fly as a base answer for a theme phrase.

Hey, the 3rd Annual "Finger Lakes Crossword Competition" is coming up on Saturday, March 7, 2015 in Ithaca, NY. I'll be there again this year, doing a Q & A and judging. Ithaca's own Adam Perl will be constructing puzzles especially for this competition. You Northeasterners (and esp. you central NYers, you know who you are) should consider coming. Last year was a lot of fun. Proceeds benefit Tompkins Learning Partners, which supports adult literacy in the community. Click HERE to get more info.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Patrick Blindauer's "Space Puzzlefest" — 13 interconnected puzzles that lead to a final answer — is now available at his website. It's a contest, the grand prize of which is a book of poetry written by Eugene T. Maleska (who knew?). Here's the "Space Puzzlefest" description:
Patrick Blindauer's Space Puzzlefest consists of about a dozen crosswords, each of which leads to an answer (in a different way each time). All of these answers get combined at the end to form a final answer, which you can email to Patrick to be entered in the Feb. 27th drawing for the Grand Prize: a copy of "Sun & Shadows," a book of Vogonesque poetry written by former New York Times crossword editor Eugene T. Maleska. You can enroll at; for only 17 Buckazoids you'll receive an invitation to Patrick's Space Puzzlefest Google Group where you can access the PDF of puzzles. Come on a stellar puzzventure with Patrick Blindauer's "Space Puzzlefest" (oxygen not included)!


MDMA 12:21 AM  

Some links from Wikipedia, dictionaries, etc (across clues):


MDMA 12:22 AM  

Some links from Wikipedia, dictionaries, etc (down clues):

OBTUSE angle,
PASS GO (Mediterranean Avenue),
RE-CANE (To make or furnish with cane or rattan),
TRUED (to straighten),
AGIN (colloquial alternative form of "against"),

ENERO = Spanish for January

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

Shout out to the film "Fargo". Tan Ciera!

Anonymous 1:17 AM  

Why is a rider's handful a MANE? Wouldn't the horse get annoyed if you held onto her mane?

Anonymous 1:22 AM  

Why is the clue for PASS GO "Reach _the_ Mediterranean"? (Why is the "the" there?)

Nobody would refer to Mediterranean Avenue as "The Mediterranean." Shouldn't the clue be just "Reach Mediterranean"?

Unknown 1:35 AM  

Medium here in 90, the last 30 spent on NW and N. So UPSWEEP is a do thing? I was working with ___fEEt, with visions of corn rows crowding my consciousness. UNITE took forever to see. So did TORTS as I kept thinking of ONEL. PICOT is new, so the P in UPSWEEP was a guess.

It took 45 minutes to clarify the game, which became clear with OBTUSEANGEL. The game help solve the puzzle, which isn't always the case.

SUBROSA is new, as is DOTARD. DOTAge was not going to work, and the clue suggested a person, not a phenomenon.

I thought it was a fine puzzle, peppered with new vocab and just clever enough to cause me to snort a couple of times. Well done!

jae 1:39 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Not a bad Sun. but not a great one either.  

PETTER, ILLY, ENCORED, ANISES... no so good.  

A mild liked it, but Rex makes some good points.

dmw 1:56 AM  

My first sub 60 minute no error Sunday, so of course I thought it was a great puzzle.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

I am more easily amused with puzzles as Rex is and I loved this one. It may have been a little on the easy side for a Sunday, but I did grin at all the long ones. RAISING THE BRA was a favorite, I bet Evil Doug liked that one too. SUBROSA was new to me, another learning moment. I had at least three different words in at 11D (can't remember them now) but REAM OUT finally won.

Good one Alan Arbesfeld, thanks!

Benko 2:10 AM  

I'm guessing, based on the theme and fill, that this puzzle was constructed several years ago. Possibly a couple of clues were changed more recently to reflect modern usage. But overall this reminds me of a dated type of puzzle.

MikeM 2:38 AM  

Was very annoyed this morning as the NYTs was hidden under 8 inches of snow. I went out and shoveled and still could not find it. Wasn't until it rained a bit was I able to find the blue plastic bag peeking out at me. Finished with no errors, no Googles and had a couple of chuckles along the way including ANNIEGETYOURGNU. Had nothomE before ONLEAVE but other than that no write overs. Thanks Alan!

Ellen S 3:08 AM  

Well, maybe I've reached a point in my life where I need answers like "LINDIED" and "ILLY" in order to finish a puzzle. Or even start. Last night I filled in HOYT Axton, and that was it. Nothin'. Today's I not only finished, I thought many of the clues were clever (in my increasingly humble opinion) even if others were on the stale side. Thank you Mr. Arbesfeld.

Andy 3:08 AM  

Too easy for a Sunday imo. Took me half as long as it usually does, which left me with an extra 14 minutes to talk to family members.....

John Child 4:26 AM  

I'm not a fan of puns but this held my attention long enough, so it's a fine Sunday. There are a lot of not-so-common words that are winners: BURGLE, DOODLED, DOTARD, DUDE RANCH, REAM OUT, and SMELL A RAT all got smiles from me.

107th puzzle from Mr. Arbsfeld over 33 years. Wow! Thanks for another good one.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:32 AM  

I found this to be a fun puzzle.

One write-over, 8 D, just because I can't spell French words, SOUER before SOEUR.

(Aside to @MDMA - I believe you are fairly new here. Perhaps you have missed my occasional recommendation that folks check out Bill Butler's WEB's New York Times Crossword Solution @ site. You do seem to have re-invented the wheel!)

Mohair Sam 6:48 AM  

Disagreed with Rex yesterday, totally agree today - right down to the two puns which were chuckle-worthy.

Played way too easy for us which also takes some of the fun out of a Sunday, but maybe the "easy" was just us - one man's meat . . . .

Rex's point that the theme answers would have worked better if they had a unifying factor is well taken. Would have made this one a lot more fun.

Finally - If Frank Sinatra sang "It's Quarter to three . . . . . . " roughly 75 years ago then AQUARTERTO anything falls in the archaic category at best.

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

I must admit that I disagree with Rex on this one. The puzzle was fun and relatively easy. My only complaint is "AREAS" as Geometric Figures. Area is not a figure, but a calculation. Otherwise fun clues.

chefbea 7:15 AM  

Finished the puzzle last night...thought it was fun. Wanted to check Rex's writeup but he hadn't posted yet. Guess I go to bed too early

Great easy puzzle!!!

Charles Flaster 7:51 AM  

Easy, enjoyable puzzle. Disagree with most of Rex comments.
Liked cluing for AGIN and SARDINE.
CrosswordEASE --TRIREME and YETI.
Themes were groaners yet lots of fun with favorite ANNIE GET YOUR GNU--two of my favorite shows.
Thanks AA.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

I pretty much agree with Rex today. The twisted endings were not very clever and not amusingly clued. Exceptions were RAISING THE BRA and OBTUSE ANGEL. This was much too easy, just a long Tuesday puzzle. I agree with Anon 1:22 about "the Mediterranean"

Unknown 8:18 AM  

I agree with Rex about some of the fill (PETTER and ANISES, for sure) but still, I liked this, and I liked the little twist endings. Yes, maybe if I were a puzzle insider who does a handful of puzzles a day and has seen this type of theme before and thinks I made a better version myself, yes, perhaps I would not think so highly of it. But for an average puzzle solver looking to have some fun with the Sunday puzzle, it worked just fine.

Teedmn 8:31 AM  

Easy here also, but fun. I didn't realize OBTUSEANGEL was a theme answer until I did SCAREDYCAST so I was wondering for a bit as to when that had become a phrase. Went back and saw Angle, right.

alERA before CIERA. I had seen SUBROSA before but didn't know what it meant so that was new to me. I liked MOLAR as a sort of misdirection and liked "spot in the afternoon" for TEA.


Aketi 8:53 AM  

@Ellen S, my solve pattern was the exact opposite of yours.

Started last night at midnight and had the unprecedented experience of almost instafilingd the NW and SW until I fell asleep on the iPad. Then I woke up because the radiator had overheated the room so much that I couldn't sleep anymore. My fill rate seemed to deteriorate to a word every five minutes which is slow even for me. Since I fell asleep again after finishing its a little fuzzy how long it actually took. The iPad was no help in judging my solve time because it clearly had remaind on while I was sleeping on it. At least that's what is like to believe.

I smiled at LINDIED since my mom knew how t do it.

As a lactation consultant I've heard much better boob jokes than RAISING THE BRA, but I' only share those with other lactation consultants. I did like ANNIIE GET YOUR GNU.

Aketi 8:55 AM  

I hate autocorrect, please forgive the typos.

L 9:02 AM  

I think it's time for silent film star clues to be laid to rest. Seriously - it needs to end.

Ludyjynn 9:24 AM  

Ironically, you can show more cleavage by RAISINGTHEBRA; UPSWEEPING the breasts emphasizes the décolletage!

I liked this one a lot more than Rex, finding all of the theme answers suitable for a Sunday outing. ICANNOTTELLALEI made sense; a wreath and a lei are the same shape; don't understand Rex's annoyance. I agree that some fill skewed 'old'.

My irk was STEELE. We refused to elect him governor, but he won't go quietly, w/ an afterlife on cable 'news'; YAWN.

Indigo Girls, a DUO w/ amazing harmonies. "Closer to Fine" is a masterpiece.

I fear I will soon be NESTING in place as the snow NEARs Balto. this evening. Gotta run and fill all the bird feeders before the deluge.

NICEONE, AA and WS. Thanks.

Ω 9:24 AM  

Showing less cleavage? Wrong. Absolutely, positively wrong, I say. If a PETTER is RAISING THE BRA the goal is definitely showing more cleavage, not less. How could Shortz let that one through?

ENO, Ono, and Unu walk into a bar to find THEDA and Enya sitting in a TRIREME with A ROD.

Dorothy Biggs 9:29 AM  

Look at the Beverly Hillbillies getting some love...ELLY May yesterday, Granny (IRENE Ryan) today.

ANISES, RAISINGTHEBRA and FTDIX. (insert Beavis and Butthead sniggers here)

I do like Rex's idea that the themers should be connected somehow, otherwise the puzzle does seem like an arbitrary assortment of phrases with re-arranged spellings of the last word. While I'm sure that's, you know, something not easy to do, I'm a big believer in being purposeful with stuff like this. You don't have to go all Brahms and hold everything together fractally, but there does need to be some kind of meta organization that makes feats like this more satisfying. Plus, a meta organization might serve to justify "ICANNOTTELLALEI."

joho 9:34 AM  

@Rex, sounds like your "final twist" puzzle was well made with that extra theme level, but Alan's consistent twisting of just the final two letters here tightens up his theme just fine. Plus finding fun "in the language" phrases where you can only switch the two last letters to create a whole wacky phrase can't be that easy.

ANNIEGETYOURGNU was worth the price of admission! I loved SCAREDYCAST, too.

Easy and enjoyable, Alan, thank you very much!

Tita 9:48 AM  

I've always loved hard CIDER. I attribute the ubiquity of the once hard-to-find drink on this trend.

What are the regional names for whirlygigs? In Westchester, we called them polynoses. Cause we would stick them on our noses. I have no idea why "poly"...

A friend showed me how to TRUE wheels - he did it professionally for bike wheels and old British car wire wheels.

I cleAted my line before BELAYing it.
Nit - a sailor would secure a line or a sheet - but never a rope. Once you use a rope on a boat, it becomes one or the other.
My passengers get 3 chances to get it right before I make them walk the plank. Aaargh.

Favorite themer was SCARDEYCAST.

OK - I agree with Rex about the theme, but had fun solving none-the-less.

Thank you Mr. Arbesfeld.

Tita 9:51 AM  

Oops - on the gluten-free trend, that is...

Horace S. Patoot 9:54 AM  

I usually think Rex is harsher than I would be, but not this time. I found the puzzle diverting, but when I finished it was just another crossword puzzle with a simple theme. I would like for the completed Sunday NYT to leave me with a feeling, experience, or piece of knowledge I didn't have before I encountered it (other than the name of a long-dead actress).

Maruchka 10:08 AM  

No googles, plenty of misspells and do-overs (Rec for REW, Souer for SOEUR, FCC for FTC, ad nausuem).

Liked it, very respectable. Agree with Rex that it's on the easy side. That said, why would MALI start the African nations list? Still stumped..

Favs of the day - OBTUSE ANGEL and ANNIE GET YOUR GNU. Ride 'em, haloed cowgirl!

@Anon 1:17 - Riders often grab onto manes, especially when using a halter instead of a bridle.

OK, here's another BRA observation. RAISING it can give more coverage, but a halter does it better.

OldCarFudd 10:15 AM  

@Anon 1:17 - Grabbing a horse's mane doesn't hurt the horse. Holding the mane for extra stability, or for help in mounting and dismounting, is common.

I agree it was an easy puzzle, but fun.

Leapfinger 10:17 AM  

Twist Endings? Or Twits' Endings?

Speaking as something of an outCIDER, I'll admit that I found this entertaining despite the noted shortcomings in the fill. As often happens, I overlooked the title, so couldn't tell immediately if 'TELL A LEI' was a play with vowel sounds or a terminal twist. Seems to me that OBTUSE ANGEL is as close to a geometric figure as AREA, and that the ILLEGAL ALINE is fairly edgy. I always like to catch up on the weekend GNUs.

More product placement: Clever way to SLIP UPS into the grid; tomorrow we'll probably have FEDEX

One thing I noticed about the fill was the plethora* of fodder for twisted endings, which were entirely overlooked by the constructor.
*[In this case, a plethora equals about 8, among Across clues; hadn't the time to check the Downs, which are Up For Grabs.]

To wit:
LGA <--> LAG
TMI <--> TIM
Nice LATS, also

It would be a stretch to reclue 33A as "Pathway bristle" in order to get AISLE SETA, but some would work with less tortuous clues:

:Fort 511
:A veteran of the Navy
:Most egotistical
:Coca ____

Will be interested to see if @Lewis (or anyone else) will think
like me. I promise not to make a habit of this.

Gotta run. Thanx, AA

AliasZ 10:22 AM  

This was fun.

While I was struggling ILLY to stretch Fraidy into the SCAREDY slot and wondering what a rat that SQUEALS smells like, I LINDIED, twisted and cha-chaed my way around the grid, I ENCORED my boat, PILLARED and posted through some ANISES, XERS, SCORERS, a CCL, a raised bra and SRA, a hotsy-ROT-C and A TEM. Then the pitter-PETTER of my feet took me to a BURGLE, then an UPSWEEP and a few SLIPUPS later, I WENTSOLO that I couldn't have gone any lower. All this of course, must remain SUB ROSA. I was all a TWITTER wondering who is SANER and less sane, if ENO should be Emo, ELO or Ono, where the REW crew grew, if you can RECANE someone who has been already caned, if TRUED is the opposite of lied, and if I should make a deal with THEDA and accept a lesser punishment than caning.

This describes my adventures around this puzzle.

PLACE YOUR BEST {____ foot forward}
OF THEE I SIGN {Patriotic song for the hearing-impaired}
COME HOME TO ROOTS {Return to the family}
HATE ONE'S GUST {Despise another's flatulence}
BEAUTY AND THE BEATS {A looker wearing headsets by Dr. Dre}
PAN HANDEL {Denigrate the composer of "Messiah"}

But enough.

ATASTE of Honey would be a good way to describe this NICE ONE by AA. But SOEUR Angélique also occurred to me.

Happy Sunday!

Leapfinger 10:27 AM  


Who's ROSA?!

noone 10:29 AM  

LGA as an alternate to JFK? Not for most New Yorkers. JFK is an international airport, LaGuardia is not. EWR (Newark Liberty) is the real alternate to JFK. Will Shortz should know that.

Otherwise, an OK puzzle.

Leapfinger 10:30 AM  

Who's SOEUR-y now?!

(I'm leaving, I'm leaving)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Would someone please explain why AGIN is a backwoods con? Thanks!

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@Anon 10:35 - Con as on contrary, AGIN as in against.

JR Ewing 10:43 AM  

Con is to be against. In the backwoods this would be pronounced as AGIN

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Liked it mostly because it was pretty EZ. Raising the bra and scaredy cast were my favorites.

mathguy 10:58 AM  

What Susan McConnell said.

The gimmick didn't blow me away, but it was fun and I needed it to finish without a lot of sweat.

Liked the alternate twist endings by Alias Z and others.

R. McGeddon 11:02 AM  

ILLY is in the OED, but I've never used it. For me "ill" works as an adverb, as in ill gotten or ill prepared.

I'm with Rex about the agedness of the theme, but I did laugh at GNU. We need a more powerful gnu lobby in Congress.

Nancy 11:12 AM  

More cute groaners. Like chefwen, my favorite was RAISING THE BRA. Pleasant, but much too easy. Did it during the commercials of the Australian Open. (Well, maybe a couple of games, too.) But it's just as well it was easy. It snowed yesterday in NYC; it's going to snow tomorrow; and I badly need air and exercise. So it's out to the streets and, hopefully, depending on the state of the streets, to the park. Bye.

jberg 11:17 AM  

This was OK, but shouldn't that A-LINE be a ripoff of Dior, not Armani?

What would have made this better for me was to eliminate all the multiword phrases -- e.g., SMELL A RAT -- that were not theme answers.

Ah well, it's a Sunday, almost always a bit of a slot.

Mandamoose 11:22 AM  

That bugged me too. Ugh.

Jim Hendler 11:50 AM  

14-down as clued really wanted a different answer, especially when I had the last two as "it" - but remembered this is a family paper...

Fred Romagnolo 12:10 PM  

I thought it was hilarious; laughed out loud several times. I have always said A QUARTER TO Two, I'm astounded that anybody finds it quaint or obsolete. @Ludyjynn: the New Yorker FDR was rejected by the voters in 1920, then he got crippled permanently; then he went on to become (along with his cousin Teddy) one of the 5 greatest presidents we ever had. I have to agree with the Mediterranean objectors, bad clue. All you objectors to silent film stars are neglecting an important period of history; sound came in before I was born, but I still think they were important; btw studio publicists made a thing about seductive, sultry THEDA Bara's name being an anagram of "Arab death." I nearly fell off the breakfast-bar stool on ANNIE GET YOUR GNU.

Hartley70 12:15 PM  

@Tita we called them noses too in RI. I had no idea today what a WHIRLYGIG meant. My first thought was helicopter. I think your poly might really be Polly as in want a cracker because it gives one a beak. Thanks for the Goulash Palace shout out yesterday.

Otherwise I enjoyed this too. My only error was ben for IBN. A 50 minute Sunday is just about right.

MDMA 12:17 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle,
Thanks, I wasn't going to continue with it after today in any case, it was too much work.

@Anonymous at 6:50 AM,
Figures can refer to numerical quantities as well as shapes. So it works fine as a clue for AREAS.

old timer 12:17 PM  

Not *that* easy for me. In the SW I went from IBN to BEN and finally back to IBN. As he often did for the Yenkees, AROD saved the day.

I thought the theme was cute. Old-fashioned, but cute. My WOES were not knowing the names of those old actors.

I'm with Rex on some of the fill. ANISES is just awful. So, IMO, is BURGLED. Not a real word. And burglars don't rob. Often they steal, but robbery is forcible taking from the person, and most burglars would much prefer to sneak in without confronting the residents of the house they break into.

GILL I. 12:20 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a NICE ONE. Started it last night and finished it with just one cup of coffee this morning.
Agreeing with all you BRA people. My favorite clue for that piece of equipment came from BEQ:
Melon containers.
Don't understand DPS as the rally killers.
ILLY is fun to say. If it ain't FT LEE is got to be FT DIX.
Praying for some sun today.....

Benko 12:35 PM  

@ludy: The inclusion of Michael STEELE made me think, "I bet this puzzle was constructed back when he was still RNC Chairman." The puzzle as a whole seems to bear that out. I don't mean it as a complaint, just as a critique.
@Fred: I still say "A quarter to..." and don't know why anyone would consider it archaic either.

Benko 12:36 PM  

Also would prefer to see ILLY clued as the near-ubiquitous (in many parts of the world) brand of coffee. Three and out.

Hartley70 12:44 PM  

It's those whippersnapper digital age kids who have given up on the "quarter to" time. Looking at their iPhones, computers or cable box for the time there is no clock face in their lives. I'm a "quarter of" person myself, so I share your pain at the change.

Hartley70 12:47 PM  

BURGLED is a word.

Masked and Anonymo14Us 12:48 PM  

Good stuff. Of course, an M&A collab might have produced this clue and answer...

{"___ ... or are U just glad to see me?"} =

fave weeject: CCL. Just to show U how hard it is, to produce a Debut Weeject, consider that CCL has been used a whoppin 12 times in the Shortzmeister Era. These lil dudes will just invariably CREEPIN.

Nice open grid. Every nook and cranny is breathin freely. Wonder how long it took to build this puppy.
Personally, I think M&A could single-handedly build a Giza pyramid faster than he could build this SunPuz.
Color me impressed.

fave themer: SCAREDYCAST. Just hit me in a funny spot.

TODAY's Best EME: TRIREME. Not quite as scrabbly as LEXEME, but it is longer. Are these real hard words, or is it just eME?


Comin Soon:
81st or so Annual "I Fink U Freaky" Crossword Awards. Mark yer calendars...

Steve J 12:52 PM  

Agreed with the general consensus: ok puzzle with a well-worn theme that didn't really wow, outside RAISING THE BRA and ANNIE GET YOUR GNU. ANISES and ILLY will hopefully not make return appearances anytime soon.

I ultimately naticked at UPSWEEP/PICOT/PETTER. Couldn't see those two P's so couldn't suss the hair style (when you've been losing hair for 25 years, you don't pay much attention to hairstyles), and I didn't care enough to do alphabet runs. I never would have guessed PICOT anyway (I had tICOT until I realized there was no way that could be correct).

@old timer: BURGLED is absolutely a word. Its use tends to be primarily British, while in the US burglarized is more common. And, colloquially, people use "robbed" even when force wasn't involved in a theft.

RooMonster 1:05 PM  

Hey All !
OK puz. Nothing to RAISE THE BRA about. Like others, GNU, CAST, BRA the best ones. TOW was kinda funny also. First letter was U! Good for M&A!
Rein -> MANE
sneakIN -> CREEPIN
made S center harder than it had to be. With Rex on the -EDedness. Some aren't even words, are they?


Mona 1:17 PM  

I've been following Rex a long time and am a huge fan, but never left a comment. Today was an easy one, but for some reason, in all my years of puzzles, I was stumped by IBN. Kept wanting to make it Ian.

Carola 1:23 PM  

Folks who are AGIN this puzzle? Lemme AT EM, IT'S WAR! Just kidding, but, like @ludyjynn and @Gill I., I thought that NICE ONE fits it perfectly. Goofy, funny, clever theme answers and some tricky cluing otherwise - all I want on a Sunday.

Starting at FT DIX x XERS and moving down the East coast, I had the twisted ends first and had fun seeing how many of the phrases I could get from just the last word (4 of them; A QUARTER TO TOW eluded me until the final cross).

Living at the end of tornado alley, I first had TWIsTER as the place where many people may follow you - you know, the UPSWEEP that carries all with it.

rac 1:29 PM  

I know it's been used commonly as a clue before, especially in the NYT, but why is AROD considered "Longtime"? He's spent approximately the same amount of time with other teams, and there are plenty of others who've played more games with the Yankees. Surely there are other adjectives for AROD that would be more appropriate?

nick 1:34 PM  

Re: 101 across -- burglary and robbery not the same thing. A robbery requires a weapon used on a victim; a burglary is simply a theft.

And am with Rex on this one -- not quite worthy.

Numinous 1:38 PM  

When I was fifteen, RAISING THE BRA meant something very different from "hiding" anything. My inner fifteen year old smiled at fond memories of youthful exploration.

As someone who has made rope (named a Master Ropemaker by the American Rope Makers Associan) and a sailor I have to agree with Tita. There are sheets and lines, halyards and hawsers and cables and shrouds on ships and boats and they are all made of rope but no one of them is "A" rope. Even the things strung between the shrouds that enabled sailors to climb the masts in the olden days were called ratlines. In spite of phrases like "learning the ropes", rope is a generic term that describes a bunch of things that are twisted or braided and probably longer than your little finger. Rope is made from from a broad variety of materials including wire. A piece of rope is named according its use or purpose and as one who has made miles and miles of rope by hand, there is no such thing as "A" rope. Forget that on my boat, when I had one, and you'd join Tita's crew on the plank. [wink]

Sometimes when there is ugly short fill with difficult clues and I get them I feel a kind of relief at finding something familar and easy. A lot of the fill here had that ESEy feel but much did not. Still I thought it was an ok puzzle with a few charming moments. Sadly, OBTUSE ANGEL was not one of them. I was hoping for something more bimbo-like.

AA and WS got paid, I reckon that's thanks enough!

wreck 1:41 PM  

AROD played 7 years with the Mariners, 3 with Texas, and 10 years with the Yankees. The Yankees can have him!!

Rhino 1:45 PM  

I get what what Rex is saying but I was able to solve it withou any cheating, so I loved it.

Anoa Bob 1:50 PM  

@Tita, yep, once rope (if you want to sound really salty, call it "cordage") is put to work on a vessel, it gets a specific name, like main halyard, jib sheet, mizzen downhaul, dinghy painter, etc. There are, however, a few that retain "rope" in their names, among them bell rope, bolt rope, & manrope. Now for my daily ration of grog.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

I second that. Real riders rarely grab the mane. That's typically a sign that the rider is not fully competent. A real rider holds the reins.

evil doug 2:43 PM  

Milky Way bra.


Nancy 3:40 PM  

@GILL I -- Can't believe nobody's responded to your query since I left the house 4 hours ago. (Or did I miss someone's answer?) If I didn't miss it, then: Rally killers in baseball = DPs = double plays.

Ludyjynn 3:54 PM  

@FredR, speaking of, did you catch the recent PBS reairing of "The Roosevelts"? Definitely worth the time. I second your assessment of their accomplishments, including Eleanor's. To paraphrase the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Michael Steele, you're no FDR. As an aside, the FDR Memorial in D.C., four outdoor rooms at the Tidal Basin, directly across from the Jefferson Memorial, is a beautiful tribute, esp. during cherry blossom season, when the entire area is in full bloom.

@Benko, you're probably right re the timing of this puzz. construction. The RNC gig ended after two years, back in 2011, I believe.

Spent an hour filling bird feeders; just looked out the window to see a horde of European starlings scaring off the less aggressive songbirds. Time to send out the dog and run them off!

Mr. Benson 4:06 PM  

On the TWO/TOW mixup: seems the puzzle missed a golden opportunity in "Bicycle built for tow" (clued as "Two-wheeler with extra torque?").

quilter1 4:39 PM  

Yes, it was easy once I got a chance to sit down and do it. Got the theme early and then zipped through. ANNIE GET YOUR GNU was the best.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

Well I enjoyed it. And I think I may have been one of those kids jumping up and down at that Squeeze concert.

Raising the bra was funny and I like illegal A-line. But Petter was Illy conceived.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

RAISING THE BRA would likely give you more cleavage, not less.

Michael 6:01 PM  

Rule of thumb: If Rex describes a puzzle as having "wacky" clues or answers, he's not going to like it.

I liked it.

GILL I. 6:34 PM  

@Nancy: Gracias amiga...NO, everyone was out at the DUDE RANCH eating TORTS and ILLY's so I looked it up. Drug Policy Alliance I suppose could be rally killers. I need to pay more attention to the AROD's of this world I guess......

JamesBMac 6:46 PM  

DPS is double plays, a baseball rally killer.

JamesBMac 6:49 PM  
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Norm 7:48 PM  

I would have clued RAISING THE BRA as "flashing during Mardi Gras" or something along that line, but I liked the puzzle all in all.

F.O.G. 8:14 PM  

I concur.

Anonymous 11:08 PM  

@Z and @MDMA thanks for helping me understand yesterday's "quickly, quickly" clue. I get it now but I still don't like it. Harrumph.

@anon I agree with you on the PASSGO clue and "the Mediterranean " but it was one of my favorite clues anyway

Overall I really enjoyed this puzzle. I don't know what's not to like about fun wordplay and a few chuckles. I like puns and silly wordplay in my puzzles, so don't agree with rex.


And now I got Rod Stewart's ANGIE in my head and that's a good thing.

Tita 11:23 PM  

@Hartley...Hungarian Beef Goulash, Chicken Paprikash, and an unpronouncable dessert. All delicious.

No 40 herb liquor, however...owner only has a wine and beer license.

fair warning...this restaurant is not for the faint of's more like going to your uncle's moderately dysfunctional family for dinner.

Rod Stewart 11:35 PM  

@Fert - I think that was Mick.

Tita 11:48 AM  

@Numi and @Anoa...
I knew that others with deeper knowledge would chime in on the rope kerfuffle, but a Master Ropemaker? And links to the few legit ropes on board...
Very cool.

@Dirigonzo - what will you add?

unclejohn 11:56 AM  

After perusing all of the previous comments, I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes in "It's A Mad, Mad,Mad,Mad World" wherein Terry Thomas is expressing his wonder (to Milton Berle) of the fascination of "you Americans" of bosoms. I think he used the term "mammary glands".
Judging by the number of comments related to "raising the bar/bra, he had a point!

paulsfo 12:06 AM  

@Aketi: I feel your autocorrect pain but there's almost certainly some way to turn it off on whatever device/app/browser combination you're using.

@Z, and others. If the boyfriend raises the bottom of your bra you show more. If you modestly raise the top of your bra you show less.

@Nick: "A robbery requires a weapon". I believe that would be "armed robbery". If i run by (back when I could run) and grab your iPhone out of your hands I have robbed you. But I agree that robbery and burglary are not the same thing. -- despite all those scenes of people entering their burgled apartments and crying "I've been robbed!"

I liked the clue for MAPLETREE a lot (brought back memories).
And I got ENERO correctly even though I somehow convinced myself it was the Spanish equivalent of janvier, which was Portuguese for 'brother'!

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Because its not the Avenue you are reaching, it is the game square or block or box or whatever you call it

rondo 1:51 PM  

Pretty easy today, even humorous at times. RAISINGTHEBRA is an interesting answer, but I'm all for dropping it.
Only one write-over, ICEcAstlE for ICEPALACE. The St. Paul Winter Carnival often has a castle of ice.
Stacked in the SE, to get that memoir, EDMEESE DOODLED.
Funny it wasn't a NY basketball clue for EWING.
Not much more to say, an OK Sunday, better than most. Must tend to my OBTUSEANGEL now before the Super Bowl.

spacecraft 2:00 PM  

Couple of W/O SLIPUPS: alERo before CIERA and THen before THUS; otherwise smooth sailing. I agree that some of the themers work and others...don't. The marquee answer, suitably centered, is RAISINGTHEBRA. With a few more like that, I'd have been more impressed.

The fill, too, is less than stellar: XERS CCL ILLY is a high price to pay for DUDERANCH and ICEPALACE. More frowny-face fodder with ANISES (how many can there BE?) and the overworked ELOI.

And guys, I've seen ODO clued several different ways, but so far no love for that shape-shifting bucket of goo so well played by Rene Auberjonois on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Next time, OK?

Give this one a C+.

Eric Selje 2:47 PM  

Intrigued, as I find Die Antwoord strangely compelling.

Eric Selje 2:50 PM  
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KariSeattle 6:35 PM  

AliasZ!!! Funny! Thanks for the levity! Needed some laughs after my Seahawks lost the SB!
Congrats to the Pats!

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

I'm a little late getting back on this one. I liked it but would have much preferred to see "Illegal Aline" somehow creatively turned into "Illegal Smile", great song by John Prine and much more fun as clue answer. BTW this the first time I have posted here but have had a blast reading Rex's comments and the rest of yours. I've learned so much and improved my NYT crossword abilities ten-fold. Now if I can get a job I can send you a bit of dosh Rex. Thanks and keep up the faith.

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