Whale constellation / SUN 3-29-15 / High tech surveillance acronym / Fist bump in slang / Ancient Assyrian foe / Delphine author Madame de / Pub fixture / First name on America's Got Talent panel / Quaint letter opener / British racetrack site / Egyptian king overthrown in 1952 revolution

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "California, Here I Come" — CA added to familiar (-ish) phrases, resulting in wacky phrases:

Theme answers:
  • STREAMING INCA (23A: Ancient Peruvian using Netflix?) 
  • CAST ELSEWHERE (33A: "No fishing here!"?)
  • DEEP SPACE CANINE (51A: Dog whose rocket went off course?) 
  • YOU MAKE ME WANNA CASH OUT (65A: Comment to an annoying blackjack dealer?)
  • REALLY BIG CASHEW (82A: Part of a jumbo trail mix?) (for you youngsters out there, that … is an Ed Sullivan pun … here, this should make it clear:)

  • BACALL HANDLER (97A: Agent for Bogart's partner?) (for you non-sports fans, this is primarily a basketball term, used of whoever's, uh, handling the ball)
  • THE LIFE OF PICA (111A: "12-Point Type: A History"?) (there is no "The" in the title "Life of Pi," so this is an astonishing screw-up)
Word of the Day: NYALAS (59D: Spiral-horned antelopes)
The nyala (Nyala angasii or Tragelaphus angasii), also called inyala, is a spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Nyala, also considered to be in the genus Tragelaphus. It was first described in 1849 by George French Angas. The body length is 135–195 cm (53–77 in), and it weighs 55–140 kg (121–309 lb). The coat is rusty or rufous brown in females and juveniles, but grows a dark brown or slate grey, often tinged with blue, in adult males. Females and young males have ten or more white stripes on their sides. Only males have horns, 60–83 cm (24–33 in) long and yellow-tipped. It exhibits the highest sexual dimorphism among the spiral-horned antelopes. (wikipedia)
• • •

I checked out early with this one. How early? This early.

I'm not kidding. I didn't have good feelings about this one even before starting (title telegraphed the theme, for one thing…) and then, yeah, 1-Across. It's so … something. It's a word. It's a non-terrible word. It's just … dusty, crosswordwise. Today, it's a tone-setter. It made me worry about what this solving experience was going to be like, and my worry was not unjustified. I was not wrong about how I would ultimately feel about the puzzle. Prediction was: humor would be groan-worthy, and fill would be crusty. And I was right and right. I can't even take the time to enumerate all the issues. Too depressing. But the main ones are: theme ridiculously basic and obvious and infinitely replicable, with mostly flat or bizarre theme answers; lots of stale fill; and a cultural center of gravity way way before my time (the last issue being a matter of taste more than quality, admittedly).

Add-a-letter? Really? Again? Man. I mean, yeah, technically it's two letters, but still. The "Funny" bar has to be Very High if the theme's going to be this slight, and today's "Funny" bar doesn't even clear my knees.

Grimace fill:
  • TIRO—Wow. Just wow. I literally LOL'd at 26A: Newbie: Var. Putting "Var." on "Newbie" is like putting a gray wig and mustache on a baby, only much less funny
  • SAD CASE—Ugh x a million. I had SAD SACK, which is an actual, better, phrase. 
  • LETITIA—A spelling adventure!
  • AWACS (34D: High-tech surveillance acronym)
  • INB
That's not even *close* to a full accounting of the mediocre / subpar stuff. Just the "high" lights. CORNIER puzzles, I've rarely seen. Is the Sunday submission pile this shallow? My kingdom for an EDITOR. Etc. Last night, I asked my Twitter followers to tell me what to say about this puzzle, but apparently not everyone does their puzzle at 6:30pm on Saturday night, so I got only a few responses.
"[H]ad to put it away because I was bored silly. Unlike me, but jeez." 
"I am starting to wonder if I am having a stroke while trying to do the puzzle today." 
"Non-slog Sundays are a dying breed." 
"It stopped being interesting, so I stopped solving it."
"Four unforgivable answers in top two rows, including lame themer based on random phrase. Never got better. What's not to like?" 
"Who says BALTO?"
Then Erik Agard told me to play this:

Couple more things:

Brendan Emmett Quigley (named "Constructor of the Year" for 2014 over at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend") is now offering up a subscription to his "Marching Bands" puzzles. 26 puzzles over the course of a year, all fresh, hot and new. To read more about this (awesome) puzzle type and support the project, Go Here.

Lastly, here's a letter to the editor that the NYT didn't publish. I told its author I'd run it, since it's about language use in puzzles (specifically, an acrostic puzzle from a couple weeks back). (Note: my printing the letter does not necessarily indicate my endorsement of the ideas contained therein)
Dear Sir,

I was disappointed to see the offensive acrostic puzzle clues “Kook, Psycho, Lunatic” and answer “Nutcase” in the March 8, 2015, Sunday Magazine. These words are no different than using a similarly demeaning epithet to describe a racial or cultural characteristic. Why then is it acceptable to use such derogatory language to describe a spectrum of brain disorders? Mental illness is a disease, not a joke.

The words we use to describe things inform our perception of them. Even in the seemingly benign guise of a word puzzle they are powerful tools. Will Shortz has devoted his career to using them with flair and style but unfortunately last week his editing missed the mark.
As the mother of someone with schizophrenia I am sensitive to the stigma embedded in the language used to describe it. People suffering from mental illness deserve our compassion and respect, not being reduced to pejorative stereotypes. You can do better. It is time for a more enlightened approach to idle entertainment.

Creighton Taylor
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Maine chapter member
Maine Behavioral Healthcare Board of Trustee
Chairperson of Maine Behavioral Healthcare Advisory Committee
Member of Spring Harbor Hospital “Linking Families” Committee 
    That's all. See you tomorrow.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. This:
    "Coining a term: Nor'wester: n., a Sunday NYT xword where you solve the NW corner, see the lame gimmick, sadly go away. Today's, for example."—Gene Weingarten


    Phaedrus 12:11 AM  

    "Lunatic" is now considered offensive. Oh dear.

    George NYC 12:26 AM  

    I'm with Tex 100 percent on this one. Ugh.

    Whirred Whacks 12:47 AM  

    Today's puzzle had some clever theme answers -- e.g., YOU MAKE ME WANNA CASH OUT -- but it was mostly a grind for me.

    Creighton Taylor, the author of the above letter scolding Will Shortz for having a puzzle that used PSYCHO, LUNATIC, and KOOK as answers, is certainly entitled to his opinion. But I very much disagree with his position. Those words are descriptive and still have much currency in the language.

    The last thing I want to see in a NYT puzzle are "trigger warnings" to protect my "frail sensibilities." I think we are all adults here. Most of us have enough good sense (and life experience) to know when a word is used is a derogatory manner and when it is not.

    (Indeed, if you're like me, you probably enjoyed it when SHTUP made an appearance last year in the NYT puzzle.)

    Some years back, I wrote a book called "A Whack on the Side of the Head." It's about the 10 mental locks that keep people from being more creative. In it, I say that sometimes we need a good jolt to our mental apparatus -- the metaphorical "whack on the side of the head" -- to help us break out of our "prisons of familiarity" and look at things in a fresh way. The vast majority of my readers understood the symbolic nature of the whack, but every now and then I'd get a letter condemning my work because the writer felt the book somehow promoted violence.

    Carola 1:54 AM  

    For me, YOU MAKE ME WANT TO CASH OUT, REALLY BIG CASHEW, and CAST ELSEWHERE were enough to redeeem the theme, and I found quite a bit more to like, too: A CRASH DIET that's SAPID enough to tickle at least one TASTE BUD, the unruly BERSERK and RUN RIOT, plus REDHEADS, LUMIERE, EUCHARIST....and a few stacked phrases that brought a smile: LURID RELIEFS, TRUSSED OYSTERS, and FLINTY FUDGES. I ran into a few brain-racking spots - which I like - and it kept me interested to the end, so a good Sunday for me.

    chefwen 2:20 AM  

    @Carola - You always make me take a second look at the puzzle and teach me how to appreciate it more. Thank you. I was all ready to bitch and moan about today's puzzle, but I now see it in a different light. I can't say it wasn't a slog for me, but I got through it.

    Just held it up to the the light and there is a plethora of Wite out markings. Oh well, a new week awaits us.

    Biggest laugh, rock singer at 46D.

    jae 2:26 AM  

    Tough Sun.  This one had some "sorta know it" answers for me.  Those are the ones where if you give me a couple of letters I can suss it out, sort of...LETITIA,  CETUS, STAEL, ENZI...and then there were the WOEs...LUMINERE, EOLITH, AVERY... Not a slog, however, in fact pretty much what @Carola said, plus I thought some of the theme answers were whimsical and a tough solve was welcome after 3 days of easy.  So, yes, I liked it more than Rex did.

    John Child 3:10 AM  

    I think that in principle every word should be in play for a puzzle, but I thought yesterday's puzzle had too many answers potentially on the dark side of the brekfast test. I enjoyed it anyway, but it pushed the line for me.

    IMO psycho, lunatic, and kook are fine. But SHTUP was on the edge for me. Would you like to see fuck in English or German or French or Spanish in your puzzle?

    As I said yesterday, I'm happy for the gray lady to loosen her corset a bit, but slowly and with moderation.

    Charles Flaster 3:25 AM  

    Agree with Rex. DNF upper right.
    Theme was good but definitely not remarkable.
    Usually really enjoy AA puzzles a great deal so I guess I cannot win them all.
    Thanks AA.

    Martin 3:33 AM  

    Creighton Taylor,

    It may not change anything for you but I assure you the constructors of that puzzle wouldn't dream of using any of those words to refer to a person with mental illness. Neither would Will Shortz. Neither would I.

    I can't imagine the anguish that your child's illness has caused your entire family, but words take on many meanings in language that are far removed from their origins.

    These words can be used to refer to express disbelief or even admiration for some feat. Alternately they might be used for eccentric but certainly non-pathological behavior.

    If a friend spends the night on line to be the first to get that new iPhone I might say, "You're such a lunatic!" It is the opposite of suggesting mental illness.

    I understand that you'd like to ban such ironic references to something as serious as mental illness. It's really asking to ban all statements like, "You must be crazy." I think that's a tall order. But it really doesn't help the discussion to conflate these idioms with derogatory references to sufferers of this spectrum of illnesses.

    It's hurtful to suggest that Will Shortz, Emily Cox or Henry Rathvon would ever call a person suffering with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder a "nutcase." I understand that you'd prefer we don't refer to eccentricity that way either, but I think the different context is too important to ignore when putting words and meaning into the mouths of others.

    GILL I. 3:54 AM  

    Oh dear, I so wanted to appreciate this puzzle through the eyes of @Carola...instead, I thought please, don't let this first answer be ST REAM IN GINCA.
    Moving downstairs just a bit and seeing TIRO finally made me WANNA CASH OUT and I did and I'm not happy because I really like Arbesfeld puzzles.
    Was I the only one who had Easter egg for 75D?

    CBCD 5:30 AM  

    Stupid puzzle.

    I would, however like to take this opportunity to say that I actually saw Dino, Desi & Billy in concert.

    pfb 5:33 AM  

    NE corner was a killer. Too much I didn't know there.

    MDMA 6:24 AM  

    Any puzzle I can successfully complete is "good" in a sense, but this was a long tough slog, in a way that was more joyless than challenging. Usually when you solve an entry, there's a good chance that some or all crosses will quickly fall into place as well, but that wasn't happening much today for some reason, which was frustrating.

    I still don't get 106A HILT, since the clue "Hold it!" seemed to want HaLT, which crosses ruled out.

    xwordinfo.com says this is the first ever appearance of EUCHARIST, including the pre-Shortz era. That's a bit of a surprise.

    Jim Walker 6:24 AM  

    Rex and his Twitter circle said it all for me. Can one be proud of a DNF? If so, count me in.

    On the language issue, I would simply say that some words and phrases are more tasteful and elegant than others. If we can't agree on that then the whole enterprise of criticism is doomed. However, that does not allow a "heckler's veto" over attempts to push the envelope or expand meaning and acceptance.

    pmdm 6:26 AM  

    I solve the acrostic puzzles. In no way did I think nutcase referred to someone with a mental illness. Nutcase to me suggests someone sane who does looney things (the stuff of sitcom characters, such a Lucy Ricardo or Ed Norton). Is this a case of oversensitivity or chip-on-the-shoulder problems? I don't know, but I do think the criticism is over-the-top and does not refer to how most ofthe people I know use the word.

    As to today's puzzle, true the add-on theme is a frequent enough tactic in the puzzles. But I don't see that as a problem. People watch sitcoms for recurring gags that elicit chuckles every time they appear. [Would you believe ....] The real problem with add-on puzzles is that so many people demand that the wordplay result in laughs. Todays puzzle for me was a perfect example of wordplay that (at least to me) is interesting but really is not supposed to be funny - just maybe a bit clever. At least I hope the constructor wasn't looking for humor.

    Anonymous 6:38 AM  

    @MDMA, I'm with you on HILT. Don't get it.

    As for REALLYBIGCASHEW, wouldn't "Really big [shoe]" have to be a known phrase for that to be remotely humorous? Is it?

    Charlesr55 7:07 AM  

    45 Down = DEE?

    Loren Muse Smith 7:24 AM  

    This was the hardest Sunday I can remember. I was able to get about half of it (left half) and then just threw in the towel. I agree with Rex that the title is a dead give-away, and one look at "ancient Peruvian," – I knew INCA immediately.

    I liked some of the cluing –

    -the ones that send me off thinking of the wrong part of speech ("menial" is a noun! "board" is a verb! And GET OFF is a verb plus a preposition. ;-)
    -the _____ it one for HILT. I always like that kind of clue. Sorry. (@MDMA - HILT. You hold it.)
    - "rock singer" and "show stopper?" were terrific

    "Sitcom" for SATIRE, "a boy" for A LAD, "madam" for TO SIR, "ecard" for ICING, and "sorrier" for CORNIER all kept me from having even a fighting chance to finish. Oh, and I spelled BERSERK with a Z.

    @Charlesr55 – the grade D is usually in the 60s range.

    Those pesky tufted titmice. If you ask me, they all should be TRUSSED. You just can't trust'em. There was this one time in Innsbruck. . .

    I've never given the word PERSONA much thought. Wouldn't we all be surprised if we could experience the PERSONA we *think* we're projecting from the standpoint of all the projected-upons?! Heck, if I were projecting the PERSONA I think I'm projecting, people would be following me around like the damn Pied Piper.

    RID SAPID LURID – I was waylaid after the fact by all the ID final words. I kid you not. Stupid.

    Since when does trail mix have cashews? The bags I always see have just the anemic peanuts, the gazillion little raisins, and the 12 M&Ms. (I have to say, though, that once I did get ahold of a bag with an assortment of nuts, and some made me really sick. So I had to write a poison pecan letter.)

    Alan, all in all, I managed to while away a pleasant morning with this. I also came up with "wet canoodle" and "self-tanning location," but couldn't think of clues.

    John Child 7:39 AM  

    Har. Wet canoodle = [Extra moist Frenching]? That should make OFL shudder.

    chefbea 7:45 AM  

    Too tough for me...and very boring. Got Really big cashew right away but did not get some of the others.

    I too don't get rock singer=siren???

    Anonymous 8:03 AM  

    As a society we are now officially in the Age of Indignation, where every word, gesture, picture, or phrase is analyzed for any possible offense.

    The clue that Mr. Taylor objected to DID NOT equate "lunatic" or "nutcase" with schizophrenia or with any real mental illness.

    Lunatic, nutcase, kook, and psycho are all goofy terms used in connected to each other. Mr. Taylor is looking for a connection that was not made.

    Anonymous 8:20 AM  

    Rex, I always appreciate your blog, and this time you really validated the groans that I expressed yesterday. Thank you. Even a reference to 'You make me wanna Shout' couldn't redeem this one.

    Lewis 8:25 AM  

    @chefbea -- The sirens sat on rocks and tempted the sailors with their singing

    I did like the clues for SAGA, RHINO, REDHEADS, ICING, GETOFF, and TOSIR. It felt more like a trudge than a joyride, but it woke up some musty areas of my brain that haven't been jogged in a while. So... not a lot of fun but glad to have done it.

    For the Elvis/alien baby clue, I had the L and I and for a moment seriously considered LEGIT.

    Conrad 8:27 AM  

    Naticked on the LENI/NITTI cross. NITTI was a WOE and LENI hasn't settled into the crosswordese synapses. HILT took a while, thanks to the exclamation point at the end of the clue. It's a simple fact that a HILT is something you hold, undeserving of exclamation point emphasis. Didn't get the clue for DEE until I came here. @Chefbea -- think the sirens of mythology, luring sailors to their death on the rocks.

    Lewis 8:33 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 8:35 AM  

    Factoid: Some famous people with webbed TOEs (a condition called syndactyly) include Joseph Stalin, Dan Ackroyd, and Ashton Kutcher.

    Quotoid: "I am not a has-been. I am a will be." -- Lauren BACALL

    Anonymous 8:37 AM  

    "hilt" is the handle of a sword, so it's the part you hold. "hold it" would be a common misdirection clue for that, but with the exclamation point after it, I think it's just plain wrong. "Hold it!" means something like "halt", and doesn't refer to something you hold.

    Z 8:47 AM  

    I really really really wanted 23A to be STREAMING INCIA.

    LENI/NITTI? I am sorry to report that I did not remember my Nazi propagandist nor my prohibition era gangster henchman. Amazing, to be sure, but true. TIRO, PLICATE, EOLITH, NYALAS, etc gave this an SAT pre-test feel to it.

    Even good Sundays are feeling sloggy to me these days, so one that starts with TABORS and ACADIA (Hey Maine - Whatcha do with your R's?) is going to be over the top good to get me to like it these days. Fair? Nope. But who ever said life is fair?

    @Fake John Child 7:39 - Impressive. Now if you can just get the tone and grace down you might actually fool some people.

    Z 8:51 AM  

    Épee instructor to new student: Hold this. Go on, hold it. Hold the HILT! {instructor walks away shaking her head}

    CV 9:17 AM  

    I checked out at 23A. "Streaming Inca" makes no sense. When you watch a movie on Netflix, the movie is streaming, not you. Same holds true if you're an ancient Peruvian. Also, clue for 111A should be: "12-Point Type: A Biography"?

    Dorothy Biggs 9:19 AM  

    I finished the puzzle with little or no emotion...maybe a slight bit on the "ugh" side. It just didn't move me, and in retrospect, I guess it was kinda boring. The SE with it's FLINTY/FLU/FUDGES menage messed me up. I don't really think of GETOFF as the opposite of Board in the way that GETOFF suggests. "All Aboard!" may be spoken at the beginning of a train trip, but "Get Off!" is not what is said at the end. I guess you do "get off" but ugh.

    Also the SW with the TRUSSED/CETUS/LETITIA menage. Letitia? Seriously?

    I also thought the puns were horrible. Of course, to me all puns are horrible, but these themers have a special kind of horrible. A tired horrible.

    As for Creighton's letter, I agree with many of you who have responded that language is a multi-faceted and multi-layered vehicle for communication. However, as the parent of a trans-son, I'll just say that our language (I'm speaking about English mostly) has embedded in it ideas and things that communicate ideas deep in our psyche without our even knowing it.

    On behalf of my son, I wouldn't expect all English speakers to adopt a new language, but I would say that simply being aware of the many hues of the language and what it can communicate...even at a subconscious level...is a start. I think that's Creighton's ultimate point...just be aware that the language we use matters at many levels.

    Anonymous 9:20 AM  

    What is stelsewhere?

    Jeff 9:25 AM  

    The once-rare "DN (care enough to) F "has become all too common. Got about a quarter of my way in an saw how big a waste of time it was going to be. Sigh.

    CV 9:32 AM  

    "St. Elsewhere" was a TV series in the 1980s

    Anonymous 9:39 AM  


    Anonymous 9:50 AM  

    I did like the theme answers. The rest... not so much.

    Benko 10:03 AM  

    I wouldn't use the word psycho to refer to a psychotic, but I would use it to refer to a psychopath.
    "Ball handler" usually refers more specifically to the guards who set up plays, do most of the running and driving with the ball, and most of the passing.
    I also had "Sad Sack" first.

    A LOE in solving 10:06 AM  

    Is Balto near Frisco? Do lunatics go BERSERK? If A LEUT and A LAD go A LE TAP, do they get SAUCED? Ready about, hard A LI. This was not A VERY fun puzzle. It will AD AGES to my life.

    Name that tune 10:10 AM  

    NCA president you have little or no imagination. At the beginning of the cruise, I "board" the boat. At the end, I GETOFF. They are fine opposites. (Hopefully, I GETOFF during the cruise as well, but that is entirely up to my mistress.)


    Anonymous 10:11 AM  


    Noreen 10:15 AM  

    This puzzle was tough, especially the NE as many have commented. IMO, you have to be of a certain age to get 'really big shew' and with a certain form of education to get 'siren.' Solving a puzzle is like getting inside another person's head with its (somewhat idiosyncratic)images, connections, and information. Also,the clues for 17D, 12D, 62A and others were so broad as to admit of multiple answers and had to be discovered by way of naticks

    Dorothy Biggs 10:27 AM  

    Hey Mr. Evil, if you read the entry, you would see that I did say that at the end of a train trip I would indeed "GETOFF," followed up with an ugh.

    I get that you play Loki here on Rex's board, but you'll have to do better than that.

    Billy C 10:44 AM  

    I never remember a NYTXW that I haven't finished before this one. I got Natick'ed in several places today.

    As has been pointed out, there are several clever and amusing pieces of fill today, probably more than usual.

    But the several intractable parts ruined this for me.

    C'mon, Mr. Shortz!!!!

    Questinia 10:47 AM  

    Is a sensei allowed to give Zen slaps anymore?

    Hold it! These days a selfie stick might be more accurate.

    The puzzle was exuberantly crusty and groan-worthy. You'd just have to be in the mood.

    Teedmn 10:50 AM  

    After reading the comments, I feel a lot better about feeling bad about this puzzle. I ran around the grid for 75 minutes feeling stymied at every turn, some self-inflicted like reading the clue for 58D, "Criticism" and trying to fit it into N_AL_S at 59D.

    I was getting so tired that when I totally screwed up in the SE, and knew it didn't make any sense ( stoNeY for FLINTY and heDGES for FUDGES, making GETOsh and ENTRACeE), I just couldn't be bothered to figure it out 'cause I still had the crazy NE to deal with.

    I agree with @Rex that the THEOC ("the" of convenience") doesn't belong in 111As answer. But I liked REALLY BIG CASHEW and YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT. DEEP SPACE CANINE was okay and CAST ELSEWHERE was clever if not truly witty. RHINO got me (had sHock), SAD sack, PLeated for PLICATE, RUN amok, vet for WAR, the list goes on (sorry, I'm also going on, brain fatigue, no doubt.)

    I enjoy the image of @LMS tweedling her followers on the strength of her PERSONA. (And my husband makes his own trail mix with CASHEWs but I still just pick out the M&Ms and eat those).

    Mr. Arrested, YOU MAKE ME WANNA (CA)SHOUT in frustration, but thanks for the mental (in more ways than one) workout!

    RooMonster 10:51 AM  

    Hey All !
    Currently, this SunPuz is kicking my butt! I have half filled in, still looks like more white space than there is. Haven't read Rex or any comments yet, ( no spoilers for me, determined to finish this) but did check out Rex's rating, med-challenging. I thought he was going to say easy!

    Do like the themers I got so far...



    Teedmn 10:55 AM  

    See, brain fatigue, didn't even notice the auto fill typo on Mr. ARBESFELD's name. Whew!

    Blue Stater 11:02 AM  

    Right on the money, Rex. From the letter: "You can do better." Yes, NYT, you can do better with your crossword puzzles, and it's long past time that you make some moves to do so.

    Tita 11:07 AM  

    Haven't finished puzzle yet - just popping in to report on ACPT - I just couldn't stay away, when it's so close to home, so met a few Rexites for dinner and to bask in the concentrated and heady atmosphere of so many cruciverbophiles.

    Great to see my old friends BobK, mac, imsDave, JenCT, and make some new ones - George B, Casco & Mrs. Kid.
    Do any of you remember the name of the bubbly lady in purple who was running around asking "Do you have a clue?", and handing out strips of paper with fabulous clue/answer pairs.
    We talked with her for a while - what a stitch! And, I hope she found her jacket.

    Save me a spot next year!!

    Back to beat my head against the SE of today's puzzle - and a few other holes. I got the theme at INCA, and it is helping with the solve, but am struggling with the abundance of very vague clues.

    Anonymous 11:07 AM  

    NCA President quote: "I don't really think of GETOFF as the opposite of Board in the way that GETOFF suggests." Well, that's the point, and it's what makes it a great clue/answer pair. You don't think of it. But it is exactly the opposite of board, and when a clever solver figures this out, they say DOH! Just because you can't think of it doesn't make it a bad clue.

    ArtO 11:08 AM  

    Agree there was a lot of crud (well referenced) but thought the reveals were pretty good. NE last to fall as pleated for PILATE (???) kept me stymied. Also found CASTELSEWHERE tough to suss out.

    Unknown 11:09 AM  

    I haven't finished the SunPuz yet. It is going slowly, with (probably) lots of wrongness. I may come back later to comment.

    But here in Stamford we had a Patrick Berry Sunday, which was greeted with the loudest ovation by the competing solvers. Every puzzle is applauded when announced, but PB1 got the applause and several whoops. It is Sunday-sized. We had 45 minutes and I got about 2/3 of the way through before time was called. My final outcome is oh-for-seven, with two close ones (Puzzles one and six). My ranking was 550/568 as of last night. I doubt I will improved after today's effort. Those who scored lower than I did failed to turn in one or more puzzles. I'm not sure if anyone scored lower having turned in every puzzle. That is, I promised you a last-place finish. And I delivered. I also promised no tears and no accidents. ALSO DELIVERED! :)

    Indeed, I can say I've been at the top of my game here. I missed a couple of easy ones, but I also made several perfectly credible wrong entries on some of the trick/theme clues. When they failed to cross, I blamed the crosses. That's the thing with trick clues. If you think you figured out the trick, it is almost impossible to summon the stamina to re-think the trick. That killed me, but only me, as no one else fell down those rabbit holes. Wish I could say more, but I'm under orders not to spoil the puzzles for online solvers.

    I'll say this: Dr. Fill, the computerized solver, was in 63rd place last night. Dr. Fill solves puzzles in under 10 seconds, then spends the remainder of the minute sussing themes and adjusting entries in case some kind of word game is going on. Dr. Fill had at least one error in every puzzle so far due, arguably, to odd optimizations that improved its entries compared to the official entry. Fascinating talk about Dr. Fill by its author at last night's event. All of which is by way of saying that @63 has lost his rank and his handle -- to a piece of silicon. Think we can get Dr. Fill to write the blog?

    Also, last night we had the 10th anniversary celebration of WordPlay, including a Barany-esque "midrash" from the movie makers themselves. Getting Jon Stewart to be in the movie was impossible -- right up until they got Bill Clinton to be in it. The movie makers showed clips of the Simpson's take on WordPlay. Hilarious, down to the Simpson's version of WordPlay's famous graphic art/art direction look-and-feel. Great presentation, with out-takes.

    Tyler Hinman is in 4th place. It's Dan Feyer and 2 unnknowns (at least to me) on the dais in an hour, at least before this morning's puzzle was tallied. We're going to hang around to watch, natch.

    mathguy 11:18 AM  

    I found the fill extremely challenging. So it took me a long time to get the seven long acrosses and, consequently, the gimmick.

    I enjoyed it in the sense that it was very tough and yet I solved it on my own. The Closer had gone to sleep.

    I compliment the several commenters who gave kind rebuttals to the letter that Rex published. I heartily agree with you.

    I think that Sunday puzzles are too big to be this tough. They take too much time.

    Unknown 11:18 AM  

    Anonymous said:
    "As for REALLYBIGCASHEW, wouldn't "Really big [shoe]" have to be a known phrase for that to be remotely humorous? Is it?"

    It's the stereotypical Ed Sullivan impression playing off the way he would say, "We have a really big show. . . ."

    F.O.G. 11:19 AM  

    I always enjoy my Sunday NYT xword experience. I typically finish, and even on those occasions when I have an error or two, I still salute the constructor. But today is the exception to the rule for me.

    For example, the cluing was unfairly misleading for HILT, HIRELING and CYCLE. After two hours with only 80% completion, I said "Enough!" [Constructor: please note the proper use of the exclamation point.]

    If I were a Generation XER, which I am not, I'd be upset about the answers for a 1960 Olympic athlete and for the reference to the Ed Sullivan Show.

    There were some redeeming qualities -- like DEEP SPACE CANINE -- but overall I'd rate this puzzle a DEE.

    Ludyjynn 11:19 AM  

    Nobody here calls it BALTO., but we do use this as a written abbreviation on USPS correspondence. Clue was poorly worded.

    Spent a few blissful summers w/ my family in ACADIA Nat'l. Pk. and its environs. It has gotten somewhat touristy, but still retains the glory.

    Some weird fill I probably won't remember, but overall, I liked the CORNIER themers of this puzz.

    I read last week in the NYT that Lauren BACALL's estate was putting several of her beautiful things up for auction. They used a black and white photo of her in her prime to promote the sale.

    @Evil, there is something to be said for spending quality time w/ a loved one on the water. I can happily recall GETtingOFF on many cruises I have taken, prior to disembarkation, itself. Catch my drift?!

    The puzz. reminds me that I need to refill my peanut feeder for the resident TUFTED titmice, BALTO. ravens, jays and squirrels to go BERSERK over (ending my sentence w/ a preposition)!

    Thanks, AA and WS.

    Norm 11:26 AM  

    This was a fun puzzle. Yes, a simple theme, but nicely done with a lot of stuff (along the lines noted by Carola) that made me smile. And tough enough that it put up a bit of a fight even with the theme obvious from early on.

    joho 11:40 AM  

    Wonderful write-up, @Rex! Fascinating comments, too.

    I had SoUsED before SAUCED and SADsack before the less fun SADCASE.

    Loved WILMA crossing MEDAL.

    @MDMA ... I hated the clue for HILT, sorry, @Loren! Wetcanoodle LOL

    There are a lot of people impersonating regular posters here. That surely isn't Evil Doug.

    I thought this was harder than usual which I liked. Perhaps not as amusing as it could have been but YOUWANNAMAKEMECASHOUT and DEEPSPACECANINE brought a smile.

    TY A.A!

    Unknown 11:51 AM  

    The thing about Ed Sullivan is that the "big show" was composed entirely of short acts. You might say it was a really big show composed of many little shows. Therefore, this: http://roadsidewonders.net/the-shoe-of-shoes/?replytocom=586

    Nancy 11:58 AM  

    After the sheer brilliance of last week's Sunday crossword by Jeremy Newton, nothing this week was destined to come remotely close. And trust me, I don't speak about this puzzle as existing in the same Puzzle Universe. Nevertheless, like @Carola (whom I seem to agreed with a lot on puzzles), I liked it fine. I had some nits, but I loved such theme answers as BACALL HANDLER, REALLY BIG CASHEW and THE LIFE OF PICA. Perhaps it could be said that I never met a pun I didn't like. (They're called "groaners" for a reason.)

    Because I thought it was LENa rather than LENI, I had NaTTI, that well-dressed Mafioso, as my answer to 100 Down. And I agree with all of you above that the clue for HILT, with that ridiculous exclamation point, was unfair. It was meant to be, of course. I bet just about everyone will have HaLT for an answer at first.

    Still, a cute puzzle with some challenges, both fair and unfair. I didn't find it all that hard for the most part.

    Steve J 12:00 PM  

    It's been a long time since I've seen a puzzle as widely panned as this one. Deservedly so.

    For me, I did get a bit of a chuckle out of YOU MAKE ME WANNA CASH OUT, but the rest of the theme was the typical CORNY humor that prevades these kinds of themes. The real problem with this puzzle is the fill. Dear God, the fill. Horrendous.

    I hate-finished this one, only to satisfy whatever flavor of OCD it is that causes one not to abide an unfilled grid. But it involved a lot of lookups simply because I just couldn't be bothered anymore.

    I'll have to head to the Green Paint Pub this afternoon and get something from the ALE TAP to wash the taste of this one from my mouth.

    Valerie 12:03 PM  

    Thank you, Rex Parker, for publishing Creighton Taylor's letter.

    The smug responses of several here may reveal personal ignorance, but since when does the concept of empathy rely solely on shared experience?

    As champions of words and the subtleties of language usage, those of us contributing to forums like this one--and certainly the Times editors--should be capable of doing much better than glib.

    The phenomenon of profound mental illness lacks the political clout of racial injustice or the sober public acknowledgment of the Holocaust. Such atrocities have been brought to light over time through consideration of the words used to represent and define them. The decision to spotlight Creighton Taylor's letter In this blog is both appropriate and commendable. We all have something to learn here, if we will.

    r.alphbunker 12:04 PM  

    Small drums might be BONGOS.

    I liked the puzzle.

    I am adding wow and boo keys to my program today.

    The wow key is the forward slash. I will hit it when something about the puzzle pleases me, at the moment it happens. The boo key is the period which I will hit when something displeases me.

    I hit the imaginary wow key a lot during today's solve but I won't bore you with the details.

    Reading for comprehension 12:07 PM  

    I agree with the very kind rebuttals to the letter; unfortunately, several referred to 'Mr. Taylor', while Creighton Taylor self-describes as the mother of a schizophrenic.

    It adds credibility to show you've read the letter.

    Great note from @Casco; eager for more.

    AliasZ 12:13 PM  

    The "it" clues add an additional tool into puzzle makers' tool chests. It is not that often used, certainly not more than once in a puzzle -- I don't remember an "it" clue being used twice in one. But if you think about it, it is a fair and clever misdirection. If you look at HILT used 67 times in NYT puzzles, all clues refer to either a weapon handle, or to the symbol of satiety (to the ____). To use the verb "Hold" adds a new dimension besides a simple definition or part of a common phrase. So what do you do with a HILT? You hold it. Today is the first time in NYT crossword history that this clue was used. One other time it was clued with a verb, as "It sticks out of a scabbard" (Nancy S. Ross, Nov. 24, 1993), but that tells you what the HILT does, not what you do with the HILT.

    The problem with this type of clue is that there are a gazillion things you can also hold. So these types of clues can only be used sparingly and when the crosses already gave a number of letters. For instance, the word ENVELOPE could be cleverly clued as "Stuff it!" or "Lick it!" or "Push it!", but you need the V and the L (or P) from crosses, and perhaps one vowel, to get it. I won't go into detail of what else you can stuff or lick or push.

    Oh, the balance of the puzzle? I liked it more than I disliked it. I knew the LUMIÈRE brothers, Auguste and Louis. I used to sip OYSTERS and cognac with them at a sidewalk café on Boulevard Saint-Michel in Paris. I saw Karl BENZ walk past a few times, and often saw that kook LENI Riefenstahl arm-in-arm with psycho Frank NITTI ambling toward the Seine, as well as the lunatic King FAROUK and nutcase Mike ENZI.

    Special thanks to @Martin for clearing my conscience to use the adjectives in my previous paragraph.

    Here is a little home-spun Americana withGET OFF the Track performed by the Eastman Winds & Chorale and Robert De CORNIER, and excerpts from the opera "Psycho" by Jean-Baptiste LULL (1632–1687).

    [I am not responsible for any typos.]


    AlfredHitchcock 12:19 PM  

    @AliasZ, Esq,

    Gracious, my good man,I am LULLed into a new-found sense of relief!

    old timer 12:22 PM  

    The puzzle was a bit Maleskan, wasn't it? Certainly a grind for me. Often on a Sunday I get on the constructor's wavelength and can almost immediately fill in the clues that are supposed to be tricky. Not today. Sure, I got the idea fast, but knowing it helped only with the life of PICA and the really big CASHEW.

    Which prompts a digression: How many of you know that "show" used to be spelt "shew", back when "spelled" could be spelled "spelt"?

    I, too, put down "Lena" instead of LENI. Changed it only because it seemed unlikely there was a gangster called "natti", but NITTI seemed logical.

    Joseph Michael 12:23 PM  

    I have to agree that this puzzle was more disappointing than anything else. Got the theme right away with STREAMING INCA and thought "No, please say it ain't so." But it was.

    Some bright moments along the way -- such as ENTR'ACTE -- but I did not GET OFF on this puzzle.

    Nancy 12:38 PM  

    @Tita -- Your ACPT experience sounds like a blast. I can't imagine anything more fun than, what was it you said, "basking in the concentrated and heady atmosphere" of so many crossword puzzle enthusiasts? However, I think I'd better cut my teeth, as they say, at the much briefer, more convenient (for me), and less expensive Lollapuzzoola tourney in NYC. Do you think there will be an interesting cross-section of Rexworld people there? Might you possibly be one of them?

    Anonymous 12:43 PM  

    Easy puzzle and solved quickly, but also have a disconnect on the clue.

    BerkSpotter 12:44 PM  

    valerie 1203

    It's a Puzzle!

    If I can quote the literary genius Ramanus Chick
    "Your head is up your arse woman!"

    Little Richard 12:50 PM  

    I got 82a quickly although I have never seen the Ed Sullivan show. It was a derogatory term my wife used when she pointed at my penis

    Anonymous 12:55 PM  

    Hey Ralph Bunker. Is that you in the ACTP results?

    r.alphbunker 1:01 PM  

    It's a long story why my name is there. I did the tournament on line and finished with 8660.

    Trombone Tom 1:12 PM  

    Hand up for "SAD sack." Also hung up forevvvver by exclamation point on "Hold it!" Liked it much better than Rex, but it was a long slog.

    Unknown 1:14 PM  

    Tyler stormed back in Puzzle 7 this morning, finishing in second place. Dan had a 5 second lead heading to the dais and pulled out a photofinish half-second win over Tyler to pick up his 6th cup in a row. The place went nuts.

    Unknown 1:17 PM  

    I'm with Rex on this one! Used to look forward to Sunday xwords. What is going on? We deserve better!

    Anonymous 1:31 PM  

    I enjoyed the puzzle. Found it a tad inelegant that there were so many other CA's in the puzzle--or was this on purpose? PLICATE, ACADIA, SADCASE. With UTAH earlier in the week and CA today, I wonder if there is a meta hiding out somewhere.

    Anonymous 1:48 PM  

    Not very impressed with the Sunday puzzle today.

    Solving ACPT at home. First time I've attempted the ACPT puzzles. DNF on 2, 3, and 5. Stupid typo on the very-impressive puzzle 7 cost me the bonus 100% bonus. Final score a middling 7995.

    gpo 1:50 PM  

    This was a medium for me, albeit a somewhat time-consuming one. I enjoyed it.

    Looks like it was the usual "slog and an insult" for most of you; that's too bad.

    Fortunately for me, I am a sad case, afflicted with the utter inability to differentiate between "crisp fill" and a "slog in the mud." Likewise, I think 100% of the puns are stupid and cringeworthy. That's why I like them.

    I wonder, is there an objective or at least explainable way to tell good crossword puzzles from bad ones? The only way I am able to differentiate is by difficulty, as in, I enjoy the Fridays and Saturdays more than Mondays and Tuesdays.

    Benko 1:53 PM  

    ACPT update-- Dan Feyer took first again--but this time there was only a split-second difference In the finals between him Tyler Hinman. Literally.
    As for me, I made a mistake in the dreaded puzzle five. So, although faster this year, I still ended up further down than I would have liked.

    Benko 2:04 PM  

    Didn't see @casco's report. Third place was Howard Barkin, who makes an appearance on the blogs sometimes as "HowardB" with a smiley face. Joon Pahk was the other "unknown" at the top of the leaderboard for most of the tourney, but unfortunately he didn't make it on stage. David Steinberg, whom you all know, did very well this year and easily won C division. Andrew Feist killed it in B division.

    Anonymous from Alabama 2:27 PM  

    Didn't notice the 80s TV comedy St. Elsewhere until long after I finished. Challenging and fun puzzle.

    Terry B. 2:43 PM  

    When I did grad work in Baltimore, I learned to call it "Balamer" like the locals. "Balto" is a dog with a statue in Central Park. Another tedious, uninteresting Sunday outing.

    Mr. Shortz, it's time to turn in your pencil.

    JFC 3:24 PM  

    @Terry B, I suspect Rex agrees with you about Shortz but I don't. However, I agree with you about Baltimore (and your pronunciation). I worked there for a couple of years and never heard or seen it referred to as Balto.


    RooMonster 3:32 PM  

    Finished with some Googs, and a few mistakes. I did like the themers, but some fill was ugh-y. RUNRIOT was new, definitely a WOE.
    And where are DEEs in the 60's? When I went to school, 70 was the lowest passing grade, 69 was an F!

    Oh, and @'mericans I'm starting to jones for the SunPuz PI stories! Don't make me post a story! (Really, please don't! I might drive away all the commentors!)


    Paige Reader 3:51 PM  

    No, just ... NO. Who says "BALTO?" Everyone I know says "BMORE." And this puzzle just left me feeling like I'd eaten a whole large bag of potato chips. Yuck.

    Paige Reader 3:55 PM  

    No ... just NO. No one says "BALTO." It's "BMORE." This puzzle made me feel as sick as if I'd eaten a jumbo bag of potato chips.

    chefbea 3:57 PM  

    @tita thanks for the update.

    Anonymous 4:12 PM  

    Anyone who dismisses an entire puzzle after one or two clues is a loser. Like most puzzles, except for those of Jesus H. Berry, this puzzle had some strengths and weaknesses. To stomp your feet and say you're taking your ball and going home is just, well, childish (syn.: rex-like).

    Crazy nutcase lunatic 4:22 PM  

    To quote Ms. Taylor: "These words are no different than using a similarly demeaning epithet to describe a racial or cultural characteristic."

    I call bullshit. Words like "nigger" and "kike" have been used for decades, even centuries, to insult and demean racial and religious groups. And while there is no doubt that there has been prejudice and hatred toward people with mental illness, it is simply incorrect to assert that words like "lunatic" and "kook" have been used in any systemic way to demean or demoralize people with psychiatric problems. I would welcome historical evidence to the contrary.

    Not Phaedrus 4:33 PM  

    I was thinking I was impressed by fake John Child's energy I trying to make his/her/it's point. Then I said to myself, "Duh, how easy to get a comment to link to somebody's blogger profile." I apologize to @Phaedrus for usurping your profile.


    Anonymous 4:44 PM  


    Fake John Childs the 1st 4:57 PM  

    How many goddammed fake John Childs's are there? I was here first!

    Z 4:58 PM  

    @Crazy nutcase lunatic - even if "kook" doesn't have the historical weight of "kike" or "redskin," what purpose would using it serve other than to demean and marginalize people? Do I think "kook" is as bad as "kike?" No. Have I used it? I have. Will I use it again? Probably* not. My preferred replacement these days when someone does something unwise or out of the norm is "sub-optimal." You see, that's the neat thing about language, it has this ineluctable desire to change and be changed.

    *Why just "probably?" If I were perfect my posts would not have so many typos.

    @Casco and @ Benko - thanks for the updates. I'm hoping that next year I can make it.

    Anonymous 5:02 PM  

    Yes Z, I am sure the British Rock band "The Kooks" feel demeaned and marginalized by their name. What other purpose could that word serve?

    Anonymous 5:04 PM  

    My friend just did a triple flip on a trampoline. I looked at him and said "That was insane! You are a crazy luntic!" I guess I just insulted both him and all people with mental illness.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:04 PM  

    SAD sAck and outrage at the exclamation point here. Don't know DEEP SPACE NINE, a TV show? Can't locate it as a movie. On the mental illness lady's letter, I thought the replies were decent and rational, certainly not "smug." I think Rex should censor all anonymice; assume an identity! you bloody damn cowards. Like everybody else I got the bit at STREAMING INCA, so not much of a challenge; but had real problems, like so many others in the NE and SE areas. Like @Oisk I fail at product names, but E TYPE was gettable from crosses. The "the" of convenience on LIFE OF PI was regrettable (along with that damned exclamation point!); I don't usually criticize Shortz, but those were two mistakes. WE had an art-movie house here in San Francisco CA called the LUMIERE.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:06 PM  

    We instead of WE; sorry.

    Name that tune 5:15 PM  

    Hey Rex! If you're listening, censor anonymous posters! They deserve to be silenced! Not like me, I have an identity. I am not a coward! I am a man, not a mouse! Look how brave I am! Because my name is in blue, right there above this post, you know EXACTLY who I am. Just like John Childs.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:19 PM  

    @Rug Crazy and @Math Guy: thanks for yesterday's elucidation on Ringo - shame on me!

    Name that tune 5:20 PM  

    Hey a fake Fred Romagnolo! I feel so honored. This is the real me, you can tell by my photo. I am a badass who feels comfortable telling other people what they can say. Rex can't censor me! I suppose maybe I should think twice about censorship and the internet's ability to verify identities before I say such asinine things.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:20 PM  

    False @Fred Romagnolo forgot to forge the photo - ha ha!

    Fred Romagnolo 5:22 PM  

    except for the 2nd one. I wonder how they do that.

    Anonymous 5:25 PM  

    Hilarious. Maybe Rex should require FBI background checks, high level encryption, and social security numbers before he allows anyone to post. Otherwise, we're all fucking anonymous.

    Fred Romagnolo 5:33 PM  

    I'm the real one; to all the anonymouses and fakes and frauds: I apologize - mea culpa - I take it back, I'll try to remember in the future.

    wreck 6:00 PM  

    It probably started with OFL's post, but there are so many people TRYING to pull everyone offsides today! The puzzle wasn't the best ever by any means, but serviceable. See everyone tomorrow!

    wreck 6:00 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    paulsfo 6:03 PM  

    About "Oldster" or "too obscure" clues: I think that being older, yet not fossilized, and having had a well-rounded education, and being curious, and not (completely) ignoring current culture) all help. Regarding today's clues:
    I was familiar with ODEON and LUMIERE as old theater names; "Really big shew" (or "shoe") from being alive in the 60s and 70s; NITTI from see "The Untouchables" on TV (60s?); LENI because I know a little about film history, and that's all it would take to hear her name many times; SIREN because of a liberal-arts education and reading books;

    Completely agree with Anonymous at 11:07am: "it's what makes it a great clue/answer pair. You don't think of it. But it is exactly the opposite of board, and when a clever solver figures this out, they say DOH!" I call these "tough but fair" and these are *exactly* why I like crossword puzzles. Boring clues suck.

    @F.O.G.: "For example, the cluing was unfairly misleading for HILT, HIRELING and CYCLE." I think these are the *best* types of clues because -- see above. To each his own.

    @Mathguy: I agree with everything except "too long for Sunday." I, and many other people, primarily do Sunday puzzles, and we don't care if it takes longer (it can last past Sunday, for that matter); we want it to be fun and just challenging enough (though it's obviously impossible for everyone to feel that way, every Sunday).

    @gpo " is there an objective or at least explainable way to tell good crossword puzzles from bad ones? " For me, i want clever cluing (very important) and the right level of challenge (I personally *don't* want to always be able to finish perfectly; that would be too easy for me). The day of the week helps with that (thank you, NYT!), though difficultly still varies on a given day. Anyway, for me those two things seem explainable and *somewhat* objective. -- A "tough but fair" clue (see above) rates far above a straightforward (read "boring") clue.

    On the words "lunatic", etc: I have mixed feeling.
    * I agree that, as opposed to "Kike", say, these words are often used in affectionate, as opposed to hurtful ways.
    * However, some people with mental illnesses may be still be hurt by them being used as above.

    So, I think it's a tough call. Certainly tougher than the use of "strictly" offensive terms.

    One more pretty-tangential point before I stop (not sure why I'm writing a small novel, today!). A personal note, as someone who has suffered from depression:
    The widely-published implication that the German co-pilot's suffering from depression would thereby explain him committing mass murder of 150 *strangers* was shocking to me. Because someone might be feeling that life is too painful for them to bear does *not* mean that they are suddenly psychotic and think it would be fun to kill random strangers.

    Don McBrien 6:18 PM  

    Had a great time at my first ACPT. I finished in the bottom 25%, which was somewhat humbling, but not entirely unexpected, as I strive for neatness over speed. That paid off, however, as I won the trophy for "best handwriting," which I'm really thrilled about. Definitely plan to attend again!

    Nancy 6:46 PM  

    @Don McBrien: There's a trophy for best handwriting? Really??? You're kidding, surely. If you're NOT kidding, watch your back, Don. I'm gonna come and out-handwrite you at the next ACPT tournament, see if I don't!

    F.O.G. 7:22 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    chefbea 7:30 PM  

    @tita thanks for the update.

    elmyr de hory (sp?) 7:43 PM  

    Did the fake John Childs steal not only the name but also the foto of our beloved REAL John Childs around 5:19ish?. If so, jail's too good for this lunatic. And we should all be afraid, all of us who have posted pics. We should be Very Afraid!

    Miss Riggy 7:48 PM  

    Can someone explain 45D to me? Thanks!

    Billy C 8:03 PM  

    @MissR --

    It's been commented on already above.

    But a test score in the 60s is usually a "D."

    70s are usually Cs, 80 s are Bs, etc.

    G 8:50 PM  

    I used to watch Ed Sullivan's shews

    G 8:50 PM  

    I used to watch Ed Sullivan's shews

    Anonymous 9:02 PM  

    I believe I am correct in saying 12-point type is Elite, not Pica (111 across clue).

    paulsfo 9:12 PM  

    @Anonymous at 9:02pm:
    looks like it depends on whether the subject is printing or typewriting:

    Pica (in printing):
    A pica is a hair less than 1/6 inch, and contains 12 points.

    Elite and Pica (as typewriter font sizes):
    In English-speaking countries, the commonplace typewriters printing fixed-width characters were standardized to print six horizontal lines per vertical inch, and had either of two variants of character width, called "pica" for ten characters per horizontal inch and "elite" for twelve. This differs from the use of these terms in printing, where they refer to the height of the characters on the page ("pica" making for ten horizontal lines per vertical inch).

    Anonymous 10:35 PM  

    HATED this one.

    crossvine 10:53 PM  

    I don't have a brain tumor. That's what I learned from reading the comments today. I swear, I was so slow with this yesterday that I had an inkling that my mind was going. Nothing seemed to be coming to me the way it usually does.

    So, no I didn't enjoy this, thinking of the surgery I'd have to have to remove the tumor. Very frustrating.

    I get all the "CA"-added phrases except the first one I got--Streaming Inca. I mean "Streaming in" isn't a thing or a common phrase. Everything else is a common enough phrase.

    Need a good shower to feel better about this.

    Tom R 11:21 PM  

    "Hold it!" clues Hilt? Maybe without the exclamation point. As it is, its my nominee for the worst clue in the puzzle.

    Benko 11:31 PM  

    @Z: ( hope you get this post) We'd love to have you! Please do come to the next ACPT.

    Hartley70 1:00 AM  

    Very late to the party. This took me an hour and 13 minutes and I just couldn't finish that nasty little NE corner. I liked HILT and SIRENS and I was fine with the themers but I didn't understand SHEW until it was explained here. That amazes me because I hardly ever missed the opportunity to sit on the floor in front of our tiny little 1950's tv and watch Ed Sullivan....except for that very very annoying mouse and Edgar Bergan's puppet, Charley McCarthy. Ed really was a cardboard character now that I think of it. Why on earth was he so popular?

    Thanks to the ACPT attendees who have reported in. I love hearing about the adventures of you brave souls. In my imagination it must be like taking the SAT's for three days straight, but wonderful to meet your cyber friends!

    Anonymous 2:28 AM  

    I stopped within 5 minutes. Creaky old theme and a bore.

    Anonymous 6:28 AM  

    @crossvine: I have a brain tumor. It's nothing to joke about.

    Mohair Sam 12:47 PM  

    Got to this when weekend guests left late last night - What a terrific puzzle, consistently clever and aha moment cluing. Challenging puzzle for us, but ultimately get-able.

    I hope Will Shortz continues to serve the general solving public rather than the Rex's out there who who judge puzzles on how often a "type" of theme is used, what they consider "fresh", and (most importantly) reflects subjects they've studied or stumbled upon on their lives.

    Great puzzle Alan Arbesfeld, thank you.

    Tita 2:01 PM  

    @lms - in awe, I am... a poison pecan letter indeed...

    The only puzzle that I really hated so much that I remember it to this day was some Titanic-the-movie themed Sunday a few years back. It was a crass advertisement for a terrible movie.
    I didn't know I was supposed to hate this one too.

    I did give up with quite a bit unfilled in SE & NE, but still liked trying to guess the answers.

    I'd like to take a poll - when writing the word "c-o-o-p-e-r-a-t-e", I DOT OÖ - do you?
    (I'm hoping almost no one sees this!! /grin/)

    @Nancy - I too thought I could win in the best handwriting category - sadly, I discovered that only 100% correct puzzles are candidates!!!!!!!!!
    @Don McB - congratulations!!

    "The sunlight was STREAMINGIN through the window." is a phrase. (Streaming does mean something other than watching cat videos.)

    @Hartley - lol - one person's annoying mouse is another's favorite character - Topo Gigo (sp?). I loved him.
    Kooky tangent - the 1935 Fiat 500 was the "Topolino" - Little Mouse.

    Maruchka 4:35 PM  

    Visitors coming and going kept me busy yesterday. Probably would not comment now except for the 'nutcase' issue.

    I'm with @Whirred on this one. I have family and friends with cognitive challenges, and I do believe none would find these words hurtful. if not hurled at them and when in context.

    Today, @Lewis made me laugh, @Carola smoothed my WOE feathers, and @Gill brought it all back home. This is a talented bunch of clever, thoughtful and, I believe, kindly folk.

    Hats OFF to the ACPT contenders. I could NEVER do this in public.

    Anonymous 9:38 PM  

    My own favorite "Taber" (OK, it's spelled differently and it's a proper name): Christopher Lloyd in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," 1975.


    Hugh 10:32 PM  

    Gave up on this one early as well, but I admit it was half due to uninteresting theme and half due to the fact that I just could not get so much of what I thought was sub par fill.

    I did like "CASTELSEWHERE" but there wasn't even a close second. My NW remained completely blank.

    To be fair, some fill was cute, i.e. cluing for GETOFF and REDHEADS (actually, that's a bout it)

    Too many groans and not one "AHA" moment.
    I often like and respect difficult puzzles that I can't finish, there was just no enjoyment for me in this one - a real let down after the fun I had last Sunday (though I still respect it as I could never construct anything remotely close)

    There is also something really wrong about "REALLY BIG CASHEW" (I know Ed Sullivan, though I was all of three when I saw him, and I'm familiar with his catch phrase, but still.... rubbed me the wrong way)

    Likely there is no one reading the blog for Sunday anymore, but if you are, wishing you a very pleasant Monday night.

    Leapfinger 11:38 PM  

    A pleasant Monday night to you, Hugh, also.

    I thought CAST ELSEWHERE was the best, too, because of how immensely it differed from the base phrase, but I liked Ed's REALLY BIG CASHEW and LIFE OF PICA a swell.

    Must admit that on seeing CA hard on the heels of Utah, me2 wondered whether we'd be seeing the whole series of 50, or at least the Lower 8.

    @Anon 9:38, nice working in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Very timely; I always like a little South American TIRE.

    spacecraft 1:49 PM  

    I agree with the one above who said, "Non-slog Sundays are a dying breed." I came close to a DNBTF (did not bother to finish) about halfway through, when I was trying to make sense of the NE corner. I had PLeated, of course: folded like a fan, 7 letters beginning PL. What else possibly? And then RUNamok right underneath it?

    So I had to abandon it and work ELSEWHERE. [BTW, is it really fair to resurrect a mediocre series from 30 (40? I'm so bad with time) years ago for a "familiar" phrase? And while we're at it, how familiar would DEEPSPACE{CA}NINE be to a non-Trekkie? And what in blazes is STREAMING IN??]

    Now we come to such an absurdly unfair clue as to draw the spacecraft flag: "Hold it!" And we have H_LT. And yet it is not HaLT. Oh, no, my friends, "it" refers to the part of the sword that you...wait for it...hold. Sorry, but it doesn't get any CORNIER than that. Ten yards and loss of down, IFSO.

    I eventually worked all this out, though the page looks like a dog's breakfast with all the w/os. Coming up from below, I finally got CRASHDIET, and PLeated became PLICATE, yet another word that


    OOLALA, there goes a herd of TUFTED NYALAS. See what I mean?

    And you're right, O fearless one: there's no "THE" in "LIFE OF PI." Horrendous.

    Not being from Wyoming--and not that many of us are--I don't know from Sen. ENZI. Fortunately, Herr BENZ came to the rescue.

    Bottom line: I'm AREEL with all these goofy answers. YOUMAKEMEWANNACASHOUT. F.

    rain forest 1:50 PM  

    "Well, well, we have a puzzle here. Let's try to find what I think is wrong with it, and really trash it. Makes my day." Not I, though. I liked it.

    First of all, I see nothing wrong with TABORS. I thought TABlaS at first but ODEON fixed that. PLICATE is exactly how a fan is folded. I actually thought the vast majority of the fill was fine.

    The theme was easy to get, sure, but much of this puzzle was quite challenging, yet doable. It took me over an hour, but, in my case, time well-spent.

    rondo 3:19 PM  

    DEEPSPACECANINE was fun, the rest not so much. RUNRIOT?? RUNamok left the NE undone for a long time. SADsAck for SADCASE did the same for the SW. Sundays are not my faves anyway, more like this will let me find better things to do on my day of rest.

    Burma Shave 3:25 PM  


    HEIDI was SILLIER than ever,
    ‘cause of the ALETAP and how ITWORKS.
    She got SAUCED to the HILT using that lever,
    ‘twas a SADCASE when she went BERSERK.


    Dirigonzo 4:45 PM  

    I just dropped in to say, "rain forest. you're my hero".

    Luke 3:19 AM  

    Quite disliked the southeast corner. "Really big shew" is just a bad stretch - since when is a presumed misspelling of mangled pronunciation acceptable fill, especially when 50 years old? I tripped over the use of menial as a noun, had no idea what an entracte was, and haven't seen AAA as offering routes since, oh, about the time of Ed Sullivan. I did like Cast Elsewhere, as he moved his cultural reference all the way up to the 80's. But then a slip back to You Make Me Want to Shout, more Sullivan era, might have even been performed on the "shew". Balto is a dog in a cartoon. I've been to Baltimore, know people from Baltimore, never heard it called Balto. Almost finished it but did not like it - old and crusty.

    Anonymous 4:14 PM  

    Geez what a slog! Haaaaated it! Got halfway and was not in the least intrigued or invested in finishing. It was ca-ca!

    Joe 10:44 PM  

    I'm the type of person who reads the whole book, even if it stinks. I'm getting better...now I can quit, if it is really, really horrible. But the NYT Sunday puzzle must be finished regardless of the pain. Made one mistake: Had Lena/Natti instead of Leni/Nitti. Loved the "Really Big Cashew". I thought cashew, but didn't think that shew was a word. Got a small chuckle when I figured it out. This was tough. A lot of good guesses got me through it.

    Unknown 11:09 PM  

    Ancient tool should no longer be considered a clue for EOLITH. Most archaeologists now agree that the objects once considered to be the most primitive of man-made tools are simply rocks that were shaped by geologic forces.

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