Conquest of 1953 / SUN 12-27-15 / Spicy fruit beverage often used as tequila chaser / Silas in Da Vinci code notably / Agricultural figure in Canterbury Tales / Muse for DH Lawrence / Female toon with dollink boris

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Constructor: Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Binary Code" — all theme clues are double letter (e.g. [FF]); answer are common phrases which, when interpreted in a certain literal fashion, can refer to said double letters:

Theme answers:
  • SHOPPING CENTER (23A: PP) [because "PP" is the "center" of the word "shopping"]
  • DEAD ENDS (36A: DD) [because "D" is on either "end" of "dead"] [etc.]
  • JAZZ DUET (95A: ZZ)

Word of the Day: SANGRITA (9D: Spicy fruit beverage often used as a tequila chaser) —
Sangrita (meaning "little blood"), whose origin dates back to the 1920s, is a customary partner to a shot of straight tequila blanco; a non-alcoholic accompaniment that highlights tequila's crisp acidity and cleanses the palate between each peppery sip. The basic conception of sangrita is to complement the flavor of 100% agave tequila, which is also peppery and citrusy in taste. Before increased worldwide popularity and corporate interest in tequila in the late 1990s and early 21st century, few outside of the Mexican Pacific region bordering the state of Jalisco, where tequila was mainly produced and consumed, knew of the existence of sangrita, and much less its recipe. As popularity grew, so did commercial efforts to recreate the mysterious red, spicy drink that was served with tequila. In fact the drink was not that mysterious. While most outsiders would reference its red make up as tomato juice and spices, locals and traditionalists agree that the one ingredient that most likely doesn't belong is tomato. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not a strong Sunday. This isn't a theme so much as a regular NYT cluing convention masquerading as a theme. That is, we regularly see, for instance, CEES clued as [Comedic duo?], [Psychic couple?], and the like. So today, we get that same, common cluing gimmick, but now ... it's a theme. Except the clever clues are ... answers. It's fine as an idle diversion, but it's not much as a core concept for the NYT's marquee puzzle goes. The concept not only isn't original—it recycles like crazy. Clues that have appeared in other puzzles: [Dead ends?] for DEES; [Minnesota Twins?] for ENS; [Jazz duet] for ZEES. The constructors even recycle their own work—they used [Shopping center?] to clue PEES in a puzzle they made for the LA Times in 2012. I guess the idea of making the "?" clues into answers is its own kind of novelty, but it's not much of one. There is nothing *bad* about this puzzle. It does what it does, consistently. And the grid is a little on the staid / old-fashioned side, but it's fine. The problem is that the puzzle does nothing but rehash the familiar; it's just too unimaginative for a NYT Sunday puzzle. Also too easy, but that's not nearly as big a problem.

There was a "Little Rascals" boy named FARINA? Like ... the cereal? Cream-of-Wheat? That is news to me. I know Buckwheat and Spanky and Alfalfa and Darla and Petey and ... maybe some others, but not FARINA. Dennis FARINA, yes. This FARINA, no. Also didn't know SANGRITA. So I learned two things, only one of which I am likely to remember (I drink more than I think about "Little Rascals"). AGELONG is a weird word I wouldn't ever use. I had AGELESS there. I should probably asterisk this puzzle's difficulty level, since I was tipped off by some eager numbskull on Twitter who decided he needed to tell Susan ORLEAN she was in the puzzle before the puzzle ever came out online (49D: Susan who wrote "The Orchid Thief"). I have a whole "crossword" stream open on Twitter, so I saw the tweet, and I don't think she'd've been a flat-out gimme for me, so ... maybe add ten seconds or so to my time (still "Easy"). I tried LYCRA before LISLE at 57D: Durable stocking fabric. Otherwise, no problems at all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kozmikvoid 12:18 AM  

Rex should add a Super Easy for days like this. Plowed right through it, and while reviewing I realized there were a good 10-13 clues I never even read. I liked ONIONRINGS, but all the other themers were nothing more than ordinary. Not exactly how you want to end the 2015 Sunday puzzles. For fellow phone solvers, the app update this weekend was a nice improvement - I've been going through the past 3 years to fill in puzzles I may have missed along the way. Happy Football Sunday!

jae 12:40 AM  

Easy for me too.  Toughest corner was SW where I misspelled ABBAS briefly. Also atE before ICE.  Other than those, no real problems.  

Nice to see ELF turn up after we'd just watched it for the first time. 

I see Rex's point on the theme, but liked it more than he did. 

paulsfo 12:43 AM  

Solved it but never figured out the theme. Also took me a long time to figure out why RHYME was the answer for 33A.
pretty blah puzzle

Dolgo 1:33 AM  

Okay. But I still don't really get it. BTW, Farina was the other African-American Our Gang kid besides Buckwheat. Didn't appear much.

Anonymous 1:52 AM  

At 95A (JAZZDUET)I thought I had the theme: adjacent letters the same in a phrase that includes a word that has something "two" about it. Hey, a nice thing to pull off. But four of the nine such things violate one or both of the requirements (23A, 36A, 64A, 82A).

So this easy puzzle had a hook that failed to deliver, IMHO.

chefwen 2:15 AM  

C.C. And Don hard G. Usually put forth a puzzle with a lot more resistance, this one was way too easy, gave me no fight at all and left me with a whole bunch of extra time during cocktail hour. I had to resort to people magazine ( horrors). Puzzle partner was bummed that I didn't need his input.

As I was looking it over 115A jumped out at me as TOO TAT. I kept coming up with sentences that that would fit Into. Guess I had TOO much time to kill, never did come up with a good one.

George Barany 5:15 AM  

So pleased to see a puzzle by my friend and Minnesota neighbor @C.C. Burnikel and her long-time mentor/collaborator @Don Gagliardo. Once I caught on to the theme, I predicted that MINNESOTA_TWINS would eventually emerge as the marquee entry, but there were enough other surprises along the way that the entire solve was delightful. No wonder @Jeff Chen over at gave this a POW award.

Can someone with better Googling skills than mine locate an image of a bottle of HEINZ CATSUP? Seeing NATASHA in the puzzle reminded me of the theme that @Don G. and @C.C. created for the 2015 Minnesota Crossword Puzzle Tournament, back in June.

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

1.) TOOT AT was one of the worst bits of fill I've ever seen. I might say Honk At or Beep At, but I don't think anyone has ever said "Toot At".

2.) Very surprised to see Jeff Chen give this his weekly POW! I though there were much more fun and interesting puzzles earlier this week.

3.) Disappointed they wasted OO on ONION RINGS when it could've been Lord of the Rings.

Z 7:23 AM  

I wonder if SPEE and Smee are related. I've never run across The Orchid Thief, so whack-a-vowel to finish. These clues are good for one "you got me" a week, maybe two. As a theme? I'm with Rex.

chefbea 7:28 AM  

Did this last night but didn't get the theme. I too thought it was two of the same letters together, or two of the same letters in the answer. Had to wait until this morning for Rex to explain
Now to get started on my xmas present. 100 greatest NYT puzzles, selected by Will Shortz

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

I had the same thought after I got MARRIED COUPLE." Alas, it wasn't meant to be.

My 80-something parents couldn't remember FARINA and then my Dad thought Thursday Night Football was on FOX. Holiday puzzle solving is a joy.

Rex, have you seen "Adaptation," Charlie Kaufman's film starring Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean?

Dorothy Biggs 8:26 AM  

Can someone tell me how ONIONRINGS fits the theme?

@Doglo: Thanks for the clarification of who FARINA was. Funny how both African-American kids were named after a type of flour. I wonder if that was intentional.

This was super easy and I now have a new best time because of it. Add me to the list of someone who did not know FARINA and SANGRITA...that's a chaser to a tequila shot? I also chased tequila with a beer shot. Or, in my younger days, another tequila shot. I have never had nor heard of sangrita. Is that a margarita made with wine? I suppose I could look it up on Google, but I'd rather just ramble about it here.

But also add that I didn't know that OSLO was the home of the Norwegian Folk Museum. I only know of one capital in Norway, so museum or not, that was a gimme. It actually seemed like just a lame "fresher" way to clue OSLO. Heh. I guess I learned something from it anyway.

Max Sherer 8:30 AM  

There are many mysteries in life:

Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
Is Elvis dead?
Why would a constructor use RAS/SPEE instead of RAE/EPEE?????????

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

I was about to ask why 33A is RHYME but I just got it.

As usual, I liked it more than Rex. Theme answers (and most of the fill) were crisp and smile-producing for me.

Wm C 8:45 AM  

This was super-easy but there's another secret blog theme today: Every time, without exception, that Rex says "this puzzle didn't have a theme," it translates into "this puzzle had a theme that I didn't like." New York Times crossword themes may be repeated multiple times, but not nearly as much as Rexword themes. Rex, with his repetition of uninsightful criticism almost daily, proves the point that it's not so easy to come up with original and interesting themes every day.

F.O.G. 8:46 AM  

While I didn't FLIP over this puzzle, I apparently found it more enjoyable than most others, and would give it a B-minus.

I also remember FARINA as a infrequent character. Favorite clue was Symbol of Middle America for PEORIA.

Mike D 8:48 AM  

Glad I can now add SPEE to SnEE and SmEE to the litany of s_ee answers. Anon @ 6:54, "lord of the rings" simply doesn't fit the theme and would make no sense for the OO clue. Your suggestion that it would demonstrates that you missed the theme completely.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Can someone fill me in on 33-across? Why is "rhyme" Court, for short?

usaffrank 8:50 AM  

When I saw the theme was "Binary Code," I got excited, thinking theme clues would be numbers and the answers their binary equivalent, made up of "I's" and "O's." I was getting ready to be really impressed at the constructors' expertise at coming up with crosses to make it work. Needless to say, I wasn't.

Teedmn 8:56 AM  

@Rex is right that we've seen these types of clue/answer pairs before but I thought it seemed fresh, with ONION RINGS (and MINNESOTA TWINS, of course) as my favorites. I mostly agree with the Easy rating except I got stuck in two places. The SANGRITA-RHYME area threw me due to the RHYME clue successfully misdirecting me. And the SW totally bogged me down even with REESE, ABBAS and SALSAS filled in. At 52D, that combo of LEAD and then the FFs at the end of OFF was "befuddling". I realized 93D was a car rental company so I put in cAR at the end of that entry, which made ALBINO completely impossible to see.

So it was a sad finish to a pleasant Sunday puzzle, but enjoyable just the same. Thanks, DG and CC.

jberg 8:58 AM  

@NCA President, the two Os in ONION are the shape of rings, hence ONION RINGS.

I liked this one OK, except for AGE-LONG -- if I said it at all, I would say 'ages long' instead -- but it went kind of slow because of all the little nests of 3- and 4-letter answers. I have to commend them for resisting the temptation to put CC in as a clue, though.

I must have been to England 25 times, but I am still always surprised when I waiter asks, "Would you like any sauces?" and then brings me CATSUP and mustard.

Better clue for 12A: "one side in tic tac toe."

RooMonster 9:02 AM  

Hey All !
I happened to enjoy this puz. A bunch of literal answers to essentially "?" clues, just reversed. And they are common things, not just randomly put together things. Say for example, Clipping Center, while a good answer for PP, really makes no sense. So that extra little bit made the solving better for me. My outlier is ONION RINGS. All the other ones do what the clue implies, ONION RINGS to me skews off.

Quite a few writeovers, however, finished the puz with no errors! Yay me! Always happy to get a SunPuz 100% correct! nylon-LISLE, ImiN-ICAN, skip-BLOT, ate-ICE, STPeter-STPAULS, hOnkAT-TOOTAT, imGREAT-OHGREAT, parSED-SUSSED, atcOst-UNLOAD.

Still unclear about RHYME as clued. Anyone? (Probably do a head slap as it's explained!) Otherwise, nice fill, low dreck! Some good clueing (cluing?)


Nancy 9:03 AM  

Another hand up for too easy. Though I suppose I shouldn't complain after finding yesterday's too hard. I thought the theme was nice, actually, and pretty clever. I agree that ONION RINGS didn't quite fit the pattern; MOON RINGS would have been more in kEEping with the theme. But then, again, the moon doesn't have rings, does it?

Writing down ATE instead of ICE at 43D gave me fits for a while, as I couldn't think of any abbreviations in airport names that fit AN-L. (Airports are not anal places. Airports are crazy, chaotic places where almost nothing happens as originally planned and no one is anal enough to care.) And my confusion was made worse by the fact that I've never heard of SANGRITA, only of sangria. But NCAA (as opposed to NtAA) enabled me to straighten it all out. I basically enjoyed this one.

Hungry Mother 9:14 AM  

Way easy for me. Very unusual for a Sunday solve. I always look forward to a couple of hours on the couch with my iPad on Sunday mornings. I guess I'll have to go out and run this morning.

Jay Apking 9:14 AM  

There are two ring looking objects in the word "onion." OO - the two "o"s.

Maruchka 9:15 AM  

ATs and INs and ONs, oh my. Liked LUDDITE - coulda been part of the (ahem) theme. But I don't understand the clue. Anyone?

ANGLOS took me back to a time in New Mexico when hippies moved in en masse, and land/water squabbles led to armed stand-oFFs. It was more about Norte Americanos than race, though. My pal Ray was black, and Anglo, too.

Fav of the day - FARINA. I loved the Rascals.

@NCA Prez - I'm guessing it's the shape. You're right, it doesn't quite fit.

Ludyjynn 9:23 AM  

Rex was kind. This was not A TEN, that is for sure. Other than NATASHA, which brought back visions of happy childhood hours planted in front of the tv, watching "Rocky and Bullwinkle", and LUDDITE, pretty much describing yours truly and my friend, @Nancy, and ST PAULS, one of Christopher Wren's masterpieces, I was underwhelmed.

Moreover, the only people who TOOT AT me are farters, not horn honkers.

There was a time, not that long ago, that merely completing a Sunday puzzle error-free would make me a very happy camper. Thanks to this blog, not anymore. Instead, today I offer a sarcastic OH GREAT as my response to the solve.

Good news for you Winter weather lovers. After today, it looks like a cold front is finally bringing seasonal temps. to the East coast. Pretty soon we will all BE COOL.

I have a sudden craving for ONION RINGS. Hmmm.

Charles Flaster 9:38 AM  

Agreed with Rex -again.
DEAD ENDS gave me the theme and I liked it best. MINNESOTA TWINS is also clever.
Only road bump was atE before ICE.
No crossword EASE- very unusual for a Sunday.
Thanks DG and ZB.

Teedmn 9:39 AM  

Regarding the dislike of TOOT AT in the puzzle: When I've complained to my husband about idiots honking at me when they are driving past me on my bicycle, he claims they are just giving me a "courtesy TOOT". I say, "Courtesy THIS!" I can already hear the car coming up behind me, I don't need the living daylights scared out of me also. So I have been TOOTed AT, but rarely as a greeting!

Aketi 9:40 AM  

@George Barany, HEINZ brand calls it ketchup, not catsup. Sent you an image.

When my son was merely a hiccuping fetus that kept me awake at night, my husband and I decided to nickname it Boris or NATASHA. Natasha only lasted until the first sonogram when it was quite obvious that he was a Boris.

I have no idea how I managed to dredge up FARINA from my BLURry memory, Definitely thought AGEless was better than AGELONG.

As for macho push-ups, I disagree that ONE ARM push-ups are all that macho. Doing a push-up where you push off the floor hard enough that you can clap your hands behind your back before you face plant on the floor is macho. One of our senseis demonstrates that and tells us to do it and for all but one r two 20 somethings, it's an epic fail. One face plant cured me of ever attempting it again.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Hoping someone will explain onion rings.

Loren Muse Smith 9:46 AM  

Well, heck. I guess because this kind of clue is my favorite kind, I ate this up. As Rex said, it is “a regular NYT cluing convention…” but it’s expanded, ramped up to a full-blown Sunday theme.

Yeah, you take what are usually clues and make them answers, but I don’t see this as a problem. They’re all expressions that are utterly in the language. This theme totally works for me as a core concept for the NYT's marquee puzzle.

Since I’m always trying to pass myself off as Little Miss Prisspot Dogsled Expert, I have to comment that my “cry to a husky” is never MUSH. “Hike,” “whoa” or “on by” – yes. “Please stop because I’ve fallen off the back and am hanging on to the Oh Sh*& rope and you’re dragging me through the woods and it hurts” – yes. MUSH – not so much.

@chefbea -my big Christmas present was the AIR FARE for the 2016 ACPT. Just waiting now for the site to open up now so I can register. If attending is even a remote possibility for you, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t let the competition aspect intimidate you. I’m usually in the bottom half, but the actual competition part is not the big draw. It’s just so cool to be with like-minded people all weekend, to walk through a room past all the rock-star constructors, to get to know some incredibly nice, fun people who are regulars here. . .all well worth the price of admission. And you can get Will to autograph your book.

@George – I’ve been trying to catch up with this site again and am dismayed that people are still giving you a hard time. You always have interesting things to say, and you’re always positive. Looking forward to catching up with you in Stamford!

Don, CC - fun solve!

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

@NCA Prez - (piling on, I'm sure) the two O's are the (literal) RINGS in the word ONION. (The two N's are the sideways zigzags.)
Puzzle was very easy. I understand @Rex's complaints, but I was entertained. I appreciate the sort of equilibrium that this kind of theme perhaps inevitably produced. That is to say all the theme answers were of a piece; no outlying to speak of.

TOCraig 10:07 AM  

For NCA Prez: Os are rings, and there are 2 of them in onion. Easy puzzle but fun enough.

zac 10:09 AM  

Because "O" is a ring and there are 2 of them in the word OniOn.

Unknown 10:09 AM  

I had the exact same idea when I pretty much simultaneously got JAZZDUET and MINNESOTATWINS. I still don't understand Court=Rhyme.
Also think "je t'aime" = "yo te amo"; if "te amo" is the answer then clue should just be "t'aime"

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@NCA President "onion rings" fits the theme because the Os are rings (rings are circles and Os are circles, therfore Os are rings).

Agree with Rex, very weak theme. Super easy but unenjoyable solve.

Maven 10:18 AM  

For me, this one was an utter snap. I plowed right through it in three minutes flat or so.

Of course, I am very smart to begin with. I just thought you all should know that.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

@Nancy you are incorrect - the answer "onion rings" fits the theme, perfectly. If it were given as a clue, "Onion Rings?" OO would be the answer (actually oos or oohs) because the Os are rings in onion. Moon rings would work but for the fact that there is no such thing as a moon ring. You could use mood rings though.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

@Deborah Wess- Many will point out that one can and usually should forgo the subject pronoun in Spanish. Yo te amo is rather emphatic and might imply that it is I and not Juan who loves you. Or maybe that I love you and I am rather proud of the fact.

Tita 10:46 AM  

I like these kind of games, so I liked the puzzle. A lot. See @lms's post for deeper explanation.
Though I must say, when I got to NCAAFINALS, my admiration sank way low...come on...that's just I thought the rest were going to be boring too. But no, that was the only junky outlier. And hey...what's the deal with AAA hanging out there in the center??

I wonder what the original title is...CC thanks Will for the new one, but I'm not wild about this one. It's an oddly forced twist on the real meaning of binary code.
Did someone already add PTAS to the awful POC club?

@Nancy from yesterday...I talked to said Aunt Nora's granddaughter...she went to the show, went backstage, and told him that story. He was gracious, but she could tell he did not remember her grandma. I mean, how many strikingly beautiful 90-year-old groupies, who also danced with his granddad, could he have?

MI Nana 10:49 AM  

Court is French for short ( hence a short street). Court and short rhyme. Not that smart, I googled. Usually I wait for one of you smart older hands to inform the rest of us. Got this answer without a clue as to why it was correct.

Tita 11:00 AM  

@DebWeiss...not Portuguese and Spanish, it is very common, and very correct, to leave out the pronoun...
"Went to the store, Eating sardines. Tomorrow will bake some bread." And it will be perfectly clear to the listener that "I" went to he store, "Jane" is eating sardines, and "We" will bake some bread. The verb conjugations are specific, so the pronouns are redundant.

So the "yo" would not be included. In French, or English, yes, it would be.

@lms...great news about acpt! I may only show up to horn in on a dinner with my puzzle friends, if anyone will have a non-combatant at their table.
Even though I won't need airfare or hotel, don't think I can justify it his year.

But I echo what Loren says...go...compete...come in in near the bottom. Or better. It is a hoot!
I am the 387th best solver in the world...up from 682nd the previous year.

Chaos344 11:01 AM  

@Max Sherer:

"Why would a constructor use RAS/SPEE instead of RAE/EPEE?????????"

Oh I don't know Max? Maybe because EPEE is one of the most overused answers in crosswords? Maybe because someone might actually LEARN something by having to Google Von Spee, like finding out that the German pocket battleship Graf Spee was named after him? Then perhaps becoming interested in the history of the Graf Spee and the movie (Pursuit Of The Graf Spee) it inspired? Maybe you'd prefer a rapper named EZEE, whose name everyone will remember for all of one day?

Kinda surprised that someone named Max with the Teutonic surname Sherer would even ask the question? Oh, and BTW, RAE has been used to death as well.

Just Sayin?

Ken Wurman 11:01 AM  

Puzzle was easy but enjoyable. I hated the clue for 33 accross. Got rhyme but felt cheated when I figured out why...

cwf 11:12 AM  

Ooh, @Aketi, that is some high-grade pedantry regarding HEINZ ketchup. Nice catch!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:12 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle, good for a weekend without much time for puzzles.

By the time this is published, how many times will it have been said that "court" rhymes with "short"?

AliasZ 11:14 AM  

If a visitor from outer space read the two reviews of the same puzzle, the one by Jeff Chen with the "POW!" sticker on it, and then the one by @Rex, she would surely think there is something wrong with at least one of the reviewers. Now I am curious what Klaatu* would think.

While I agree that the theme was nothing more than a clever amalgam of "gotcha" trick clues we have seen many times, seeing so many of them piled into one puzzle had its effect: I enjoyed it.

A little extra cleverness would have been a welcome twist, going from PP to FF:

- Pianissimo
- Large cup size
- Addiction help group
- Either global military confrontation
- Number over a restroom door
- "Top" band
- [I've got plenty of NothiN' for NN]
- Monopoly holding
- Fortissimo

Missing theme entry: BICYCLE WHEELS. Clue: Zhouqin Burnikel.

The fill was exceptionally clean, as we expect from any puzzle with CC's byline, solo or shared. Fun romp, Tuesday easy. Thank you Don Gagliardo and CC.

@Leapy, someone is reading your comments. Today it was "Major DOMO". Arigato.

Happy Third Day of Christmas. I would love to send you three French hens, but I hope one will do: La Poule (The Hen) by Frenchman Jean-Philippe Rameau.

*"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (playing on TCM as I write this).

Nancy 11:22 AM  

@Deborah Wess -- Re: 33A. Court is a RHYME for short.

@Aketi -- Re: 35D. Yes, Heinz calls it ketchup, but I'm assuming the "Brits" are mentioned because they call it CATSUP.

@ludyjynn -- Thanks for the shout out. I was also going to mention one of my favorite words, but I forgot. That's because I'm not only a LUDDITE, but I'm a LUDDITE who sometimes has Senior Moments.

@lms -- So nice to see you back! And I agree with you -- the puzzle was both fun and very professionally conceived and constructed. Maybe something like this has been done before. Or not. Personally, I don't remember, and that's because of the aforementioned Senior Moments.

Mike D 11:29 AM  

@Deborah Weiss: How does a French speaker say "I love you" Je t'aime.
How does a Spanish speaker say "I love you"? Te amo.
It's that simple.

GILL I. 11:33 AM  

Just woke up after 10 hours of sleep which is unheard of for me. I blame it on many SIPONs of a half bottle of Chateau de Compuset Rose Rhone.
I liked this puzzle just fine but I can't believe my biggest hangup was getting CHE for Michael of SNL. Hand up for wanting the double letters to be side-by side which confused my well rested brain.
SANGRITA was easy peasy...try Bobby Flay's recipe. It'll knock the socks and probably the TOOTAT off of you.
Loved seeing CAIRN because I'm fascinated by them. Switzerland has some incredible ones. I also love that little terrier rascal.
@Deborah Wess...YO is redundant.
AMO = I love
TE AMO = I love you
JE T'AIME = I love you.
You can use the YO only if you're giving emphasis on the "I". Most Spanish speaking natives will roll their eyes when they see the YO.
YOHOHO. Happy Sunday - the sun is out and it's freezing.

Rabi Abonour 11:35 AM  

I actually liked this one. It's perhaps too easy and the theme is perhaps to simplistic for Sunday, but the execution is solid. The themers stand out as all being pretty solid phrases (except for JAZZ DUET, which feels pretty green paint).

I thought fill and cluing was mostly good. SANGRITA took me a minute, but it's definitely a real thing. I don't love CBS given that, this time of year, Thursday Night Football only airs on NFL Network. FARINA was an outlier, and CAIR_/STY_E is a Nattick in my opinion. Weakest part of the puzzle to me, by far, is the INTL/DNAS cross. I know that they were restricted by NCAA FINALS, but INTL is subpar and DNAS is hot garbage.

Looking back not a lot sticks out as great here, but I also don't think much was bad. I enjoyed it as I was completing it, which is the most important thing. It says a lot about the state of the Times that I'm satisfied with a puzzle that's just decent.

JRZLDY 11:46 AM  

Feeling so dense. Though most of the doubles made sense, I still don't "get" LEADOFFDOUBLE. Just eludes me. Would someone please explain. Thanks.

mac 11:52 AM  

I'm not usually fond of Sundays, but on this lazy day I enjoyed it. Maybe not a theme, but a system, and they all worked for me.

Hi, @Loren! Great to see you back, and we'll have a lot of fun in Stamford!

Maruchka 11:58 AM  

@Deborah W - Court RHYMEs with short. I think.. that's it.. maybe.

Joseph Michael 12:08 PM  

Well, gee, I'm surprised at all the carping about this puzzle. I really enjoyed it. Thought the literal theme was imaginative and fun to SUSS out. Especially liked ONION RINGS and WINDOW FRAME. Congrats to the constructors for a job well done. From me, it gets A TEN.

Numinous 12:15 PM  

Jeeze, Court? Short? That's a problem? They RHYME of course.

I got a few smiles out of the answers, Like a couple of ya, I had real trouble with NCAA until I got, i guess, ICE or maybe it was when I figured out INTL. My memory is a bit of a BLUR. I agree that the themers were all fairly clued. DEAD ENDS was very explicit for DD. ONION RINGS tOO. PP? Definitely the CENTER of SHO-PP-ING. And so on. The seed for this puzzle was ONION RINGS. Don says he saw that word one day and saw the Os as Rings. CC came up with the majority of the rest of the answers. Good collaboration there. I usually like CC's puzzles, learned to like them over on the other coast. For some reason I thought she was from that side of the country.

I accept Rex's commentary for what it is, his commentary. You can't argue with the way a person feels and if he feels that way, that's the way it is. That I enjoyed this puzzle, that's my feeling about it. I didn't think it was terribly easy but it still took a lot less than my average time so . . .. Of course almost all current puzzles are taking me less than my averages. I might have to figure out a way to reset my statistics but I'm afraid that means deleting my NYT account and starting over; something I don't really want to do.

One thing I like about this comment section is how differently we all see these puzzles and how differently we solve them. In the long run, I think Will and Joel do an excellent job of putting together a daily puzzle that will play well not only in this country but around the world, even. Really, this puzzle is meant for a lot more than the thousand or so of us who read this blog. I'm sure there are a million or more solvers out there all with their individual experiences of these puzzles. I am going to misquote what is probably a misquotation anyway: “You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time."

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Re. Court, for short
Court rhymes with short

MetroGnome 12:28 PM  

ERATO was the muse of lyric poetry; D.H. Lawrence, I believe, is known primarily as a novelist. Is the puzzlist confusing "Erato" with "erotic"?

Z 12:41 PM  

@NCA Prez - I see no one answered your question. Yes, someone can explain how ONION RINGS fits the theme. These explanations also point to how some have mildly narrowed the actual theme.

Court, short, fort, cohort, wart, quart, thwart, port, Dordt* all RHYME.

I generally always agree at least a little with @LMS. Today's differing reactions highlights the challenge WS faces to publish puzzles that please the complexity that is the xworld.

*as in the College.

RooMonster 12:42 PM  

Doh! Finally got RHYME. Wow, talk about a brain vacation on that one!

Put Malinaro and Hirt in tins? CAN ALS
Go deep? FAR IN A
Option to standing upright? OR LEAN
Syntax-ically off? NO ON
Creepy alien? CAD ET
Friend done supped? PAL ATES
Jeer Hollywood? BOO LA
Figure out Asner? SUSS ED
Fake degree? BA CON

I'll spare ya from more! :-P


I am Blade, never dull. 12:44 PM  

Travel in Mexico, drink sangrita; it's quite common and also? Delicious!

old timer 12:46 PM  

I kinda hated this one. Expected double letters throughout and was not charmed by the twist on "cluing conventions". Plus, a lot of obscure stuff like CHE.

Apparently, Heinz originally sold Catsup, but switched to ketchup a long time ago. One product Heinz is best known for in England is their brand of beans -- a staple on your breakfast plate at any roadway cafe (pronounced "caff") there.

Spanish and French are two different languages with different conventions. In French, the personal pronoun is most always used with a verb. In Spanish, it is not used often, except for emphasis. "Te amo" is way more normal than "yo te amo". Our verb "to be" is in Spanish: soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son (the second person plural, "sois" is a litlle antiquated).

The reason the French use personal pronouns is that the verb forms so often sound the same though often spelled differently. Aimer, "to love" is conjugated aime, aimes, aime, aimons, aimez, aiment, in the present indicative tense, and the first three plus the last sound the same. The French might say "aimons" without the "nous" meaning "we". They often say, "allez" meaning "Go", without a "vous" before it. But in most cases, a personal pronoun is required in front.

Unknown 12:49 PM  

Court, (is a RHYME) for short.

Count me amongst those who thought the two-letter theme didn’t quite work, in spite of @Rex’s explanation. Six had the letters together but three had them apart. For the latter there was 36a, but a double D answer did appear in 92a. For 82a there were five other double O answers. However. 64a had no such counterpart though it could have been WIDOWwiper for a double W. Or, as a real stretch, the letter W IS pronounced “double”-U. All in all I thought it a strangely executed theme which had little impact on my solving.

That said, it had a range of easy/medium/hard stuff and thus was a nice challenge, as evidenced by my numerous write-overs!! Not much in particular stood out for me. Don’t get me wrong. I liked it a A-LOT. It wasn’t a B-LOT (which reminds me of JOSE and his brother JOS- B). I was ELATED to finish with only two letter-cheats.

I recalled FARINA easily. As a kid I found that and the other two Rascal flora names, Alfalfa and Buckwheat, enchanting and unforgettable.

Some random musings ---

97a was an immediate gimme for me. Also as a kid, my dad used to take me to Yale football games as he loved football, it was relatively close by in the ELM city, his dad received his divinity degree and his brother an engineering degree from Yale. In addition my grandparents had a player piano with a large piano roll of Yale songs that I would “play,”BOOLA, BOOLA” being amongst them.

I invite you to read the song’s interesting history written by the grandson of the composer (who was not Cole Porter as many believe):

Because of my interest in WWII history, I knew the story of the Graf SPEE and that its namesake was an admiral.

When I HONK!! at someone it is usually a warning. When I TOOT AT someone it is usually to greet them.

A sort of JAZZ DUET I enjoy playing - vocal & upright bass (me) – is Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” Another classic song that’s mostly a vocal & bass DUET (that I’ve never had occasion to play) is TeNN-EE-SS-EE Ernie Ford’s “SixtEEn Tons.”

HALFCAF crossing RHYME was COOL, not to be confused with the RHYMING “rime,” a form of ICE which definitely BECOOL and is not at all MUSHy.

While one might say that all ANGLOS are ALBINO(-like, IN A SENSE), not all ALBINOS are ANGLO.

As mentioned the other day, a favorite T-shirt a friend wears says, “The answer is BACON. What was the question?” Well, now I can tell him!: “Strips shortly after getting up in the morning?”

I would say Loren Muse Smith and Loren ERATO Smith are, IN A SENSE, synonymous.

STYNE: I recently played in the pit orchestra for a production of “Gypsy." Now, one would think…..but you’d be DEAD wrong! I Only got it with all the crosses and still did not really recall this name. Not only that, but perusing his “selection” of song credits in Wiki (where JULES Styne finally rang my bell), I know the tunes to likely over 75% of them and I am not that good with associating song names with their melodies. Among them are MANY favorites that I’ve played many times. (INHALES…) Jeeeesh!! OH GREAT! OOP! RUTS! Didn’t know he wrote ANY of that stuff. Of all the NERDS! ALLRISE and, together, UNLOAD this O so SLOwly on me:” What a RUDE, ADDLING LUDDITE you are with CATSUP all over your face!!!”

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", co-written by Jules STYNE and Sammy Cahn, is exactly what Mother Nature will be singing regarding A LOT if it (8 inches) forecast here for Tuesday that I will have to DIGINTO. BAAS! SNORTS….


Anonymous 12:53 PM  

"Court, for short" is just an example of a rhyme....weak.

I agree with the nit about "yo te amo" but as there weren't enough spaces....

The theme is so vague it seems logically inconsistent:

You might decide all the double letters will be together (married couple, minnesota twins,...)

but then, no, it seems the clues are describing the placement of the special letters (dead ends for DD)

but then we get "Lead off double" for FF...and FF doesn't lead anything

and finally "Onion rings" simply because the letter o is ring shaped.....LAME.

OISK 1:02 PM  

I thought the theme was pretty lame, and didn't much care for this puzzle. That was before I discovered (just now) that I had my first Sunday DNF in months. Never having heard of Sangrita (knew Sangria of course,) I came up with "Tangrita," Spicy fruit beverage. Tangy? Or perhaps with a tangerine base? That made "Takes down a peg," "abates." Not impossible, in the sense of lowering in intensity.

Had I thought of "abases" I would have changed it, but it never crossed my mind. Sometimes the order of solving is what dooms me. I had _angrita before I got "anglos" and "bacon." So when "tangritas" led to "abates" it seemed fine.

Two DNFs in two days, though. Where were Berry and Silk when I needed them?

Anonymous 1:14 PM  


Just because something is overused doesn't make it bad. EPEE gets over a million hits. Maximillian von Spee? 62,500. He'a a cool guy, but crosswords also should be clean. SPEE is also crossed with ORLEAN, who I believe to be relatively unknown. The E looked the best, and it was right, but that kind of cross shouldn't happen. The cross could definitely be fixed with the well-known EPEE and RAE. RAE can even reference Rae Sremmurd, who is rising in popularity.

ERA is the most common answer in crossword, but it's a known thing. Are you saying, if possible, we replace it with URA, a stock ticker symbol for a Uranium company because learning about Uranium is better than having a clean crossword?

Just Sayin.

Mohair Sam 1:59 PM  

Total agreement with OFL today.

Hand up with the large group which slapped that same hand on their foreheads for the court/short RHYME. Grew up on Little Rascals reruns so FARINA a gimme, and "Pursuit of the Graf SPEE" was a regular on "Rain Out Theater" in New York when I was kid, so Admiral SPEE was easy.

@LMS - I assume that's you and your dog team being rescued by Lord Muck in the latest Range Rover ad. Looks like a pretty relaxing sport.

Z 2:01 PM  

@JRZLDY - LEAD OFF DOUBLE is a baseball term (first batter in the inning gets a hit that allows the hitter to reach second base). FF are DOUBLE letters in LEAD OFF.

FWIW, all the themers follow this pattern; real things clued by doubled letters in one part of the answer described by the other part of the answer. FRAME, ENDS, and RINGS all accurately describe the doubled letters so fit the theme just fine. My less than wow reaction to the theme is that this really isn't much of a theme and is too much of the convention in one place. Still, people who like it make more sense to me than some of the complaints about the theme not working.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

@Z - I would only amend your exigesis by calling them pairs of letters. Doubled letters suggests to me that they're consecutive.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Easy only because it _had_ to be: the double-letter pseudo-theme wasn't enough to be of much help for the longer answers, so the crosses had to be very easy.

As to the "theme:" I hated it. Either make it all ADJACENT pairs, or not. Had all the themed answers had the clue pairs in them, as adjacent pairs, I would have been happier. As it was the clues were essentially no help in the solution.

Still pretty easy overall.

Unknown 3:31 PM  

@Z 2:01 PM

It indeed is worth something. You sold me.


Leapfinger 3:35 PM  

If you've never appeared in Traffic Court
Your SPEEding career has bee Too Short

I kinda thought that SweeSPEE was that little ankle biter, possible issue of Popeye and his goyl friend. Too graffic, is that?

I did get a tickle out of seeing the Major Domo show up, AliaS, and really appreciate the quick work on everyone's part to work it in.

Am phoning this in, and since I'm loath to fingertap on a tiny screen.... More later!

Cyclist227 4:45 PM  

Didn't like Halfcaf. Very forced

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

LUDDITES were a group of men in England in the 1800s who went around smashing machinery they blamed for the loss of their jobs. It's now used to mean "someone who doesn't like new technology." Hence, "the opposite of an early adopter," who is first in line at the Apple Store on New iPhone Day.

Hartley70 6:38 PM  

I thought this was a piece of cake until the last minute when, just like @Teedmn, I got stuck in the SW corner. I didn't have DOUBLE and wanted to samba so that slowed up the solve. All the same, I finished faster than usual which is always nice on a Sunday when there's lots of socializing on the menu.

ps: I do TOOT my horn, never honk like a goose (so rude!).

Andrew Heinegg 11:13 PM  

So why do you bother to read him if he is so bad? So that you can take potshots at him? Pretty juvenile;

Joe Bleaux 11:15 PM  

Court and short RHYME (like lame and shame).

Joe Bleaux 11:37 PM  

First batter up hits the ball and runs to second base: It's a leadoff double.

Joe Bleaux 11:39 PM  

Thank you! It's always nice when it ain't just me.

dick swart 1:00 AM  

I am just off a flight from Boston so I am getting to the puzzle late and with a three hour lag.

The answers were a lot better than the clues.

And Farina ...

Watch this!

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

No, I got the theme. "Onion" has two O's (or "rings") in does "Lord of the".

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I thought the theme was double letters and since the puzzle was easy I solved it without seeing all the theme answers that didn't have 2 of the same letters next to each other.

John Sooner 2:38 AM  

Court and short are rhymes of each other.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Wow, for once we're almost unanimous: this puzzle is far too easy for a Sunday. What bothered me most is that it was loaded with gimmees, no thought required. Who gave the okay to publish this puzzle for a Sunday? It could have been reduced in size and been an excellent Tuesday puzzle. But Sunday??? I could have done this puzzle hen I was ten years old.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

1. Court and short do not rhyme in Boston.

2. "Court, for short" is not a rhyme anyway; it is a translation.

spacecraft 10:52 AM  

Well, I'm glad you all thought this was so easy. Having no clue that SANGRITA exists, I naturally went with the familiar sangria, adding an S to make it fit. This played havoc with that little section involving INTL, ICE (which I thought had to be either EAT or ATE, depending on the tense of "Put"), and whatever those FINALS were. Took me forever to get FOES--"The Jedi and the Sith, e.g." looked to me like two examples of something rather than adversaries of EACH OTHER--but I finally SUSSED it out. Also the west/SW had problems. ALLRISE is literally heard at a hearing; I was thinking some kind of document or plea. And then of course another @#%$& rapper. Last letter entered was the A of NAS.

Withal, I enjoyed this a lot. Previously done material does not bother me at all; I don't clutter my brain with past grids. Do it and forget it. BESIDEs, I haven't been at it that long (AGELONG?? Is that a thing? Even if it is, terrible!), so haven't been exPOSEd to a hundredth of the puzzle volume that OFL has. Hope I never get that jaded. I personally thought the theme answers were wonderfully clever and fun to DIGINTO. My favorite is ONIONRINGS. Tell me THAT's been done before. Easy but for the trouble spots, but there were enough of them to make it a medium for me. A-.

Burma Shave 2:29 PM  


she EVEN GAZESAT me, then SNORTS and grins,
she FLIPs OFF her TTOP, and there’s those MINNESOTATWINS.


rondo 2:56 PM  

While I got the gist of it at SHOPPINGCENTER, the north was proceeding slowly. Saw the Fort Knox clue and from INGOT the south fell like nothing and cruised into the north. Of course I got the MINNESOTATWINS from just the MI. Coincidence that STPAUL’S in there too??

And a plethora of yeah babies all over. Acting talents REESE, Ms. DEY and a nod to DAME Helen. Then we go musical to one-time yeah baby Tori AMOS and to long-time yeah yeah yeah baby SHERYL Crow.

I dated two yeah babies named NATASHA on separate trips to the former USSR. NATASHA #1 was a professional business interpreter (and ATEN) who stayed BESIDE me every moment for a week; we were almost like a MARRIEDCOUPLE; mighta happened had she not been called away for work and we somehow lost touch (long story there). NATASHA #2 was a stunning 6’ tall radiologist and not nearly as much fun, partly because of the language barrier, but she was not all talk. They were both “Dollinks”.

Maybe xword puzzles alone are keeping EDASNER alive?

I knew OFL would be bored with the theme, but for me, just as it was getting a bit ho-hum the TWINS and REESE brightened with the DEY.

rain forest 4:23 PM  

Like @Spacey, I didn't find this all that easy, although there were stretches where I motored along reasonably quickly, for me. The way the clues accurately described the placement of the double letters was very clever, and I liked how there was a variety in the placement. Elegant comes to mind.

At times I seemed to be reading clue after clue of three-letter answers. However, that happens often in a Sunday puzzle.

AGELONG took AGEs to get as did finally getting RHYME (cute), but those were the only two holdups. I know SANGRIa but not SANGRITA, but that had to be correct once I dealt with the two trouble entries.

Yeah, I liked it.
Nice to see @LMS make an appearance, too.

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

I thought DD would be big boobs: but that was a dead end! Kind of fun but frustrating.

KariSeattle 11:17 PM  

Fun in the kind of way flossing is fun! Southwest sunk me: ya boo!

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

I just have to say court and short do not rhyme. Court has a long "O", and short does not.

Middle Atlantean 10:21 PM  

@Anonymous, 6:23 PM - When you claim that Court and Short don't rhyme, you really should give some clue as to what region of the US (or the world?) you come from.

On the other hand, I can't see how "court" has a long "o", but of course "short" has a "short" "o", because that "o" is part of "short". (Sorry, sort of a cruciverbal joke.)

Phillip Blackerby 2:03 PM  

The irony (and, IMHO, error) in the 73D answer is that HEINZ has never produced CATSUP. They only produce "Ketchup." This name for the product is a key differentiator for HEINZ. They SNORT at CATSUP makers who produce an inferior product.

Phillip Blackerby 2:12 PM  

Lord of the Rings also does not fit the grid!

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

GIL GARRET: That's a cool poem! Nice!

Tom Silverman 1:35 PM  

Just finished this puzzle.
Did not think it was super easy.
For those who did, you must have done a lot of puzzles.
As to Rex's explanation of the theme, it only worked for several of the answers.
Therefore, it wasn't a theme and was as likely random as an accurate explanation.
Like a scientific theory that didn't explain the phenomena it was trying to describe except randomly and occasionally.
Truly love the blog though, thank you Rex, and contributors.
I do the Sunday puzzle to, among other things, hear the congratulatory music, and then race to see the smart bloggers' comments.

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