Country singer Collin / SUN 1-24-16 / Quorum for Jewish worship / John of Plymouth Colony / Daily schedule for filming / Theodore who directed St Vincent 2014 / Last king of Spain before Juan Carlos / VW head / Soggy computer brain

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Constructor: Francis Heaney and Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Initial Turn" — 3-letter first words in familiar phrases have their second and third letters switched, creating familiar 3-letter abbreviations (or "initials"), which results in wacky phrases / wacky "?"-cluing:

Theme answers:
  • SDI AND NANCY (23A: Two things on Ronald Reagan's mind?)
  • TBA COLA (30A: "We'll tell you what soda we're serving later"?)
  • DNA SAVAGE (32A: Brute working on the Human Genome Project?)
  • CPU OF NOODLES (48A: Soggy computer brain?)
  • CPA GUNS (50A: H&R Block employee's biceps?)
  • PDA OF PAPER (65A: Origami BlackBerry, e.g.?)
  • RBI TICKLER (68A: Amusing baseball scoring play?)
  • GTO MILK (91A: Drink in an old Pontiac?)
  • BTU? SERIOUSLY? (93A: "An A/C measure? Are you kidding me?")
  • BYO WONDER (104A: Sign in a restaurant that doesn't serve white bread?)
  • TMI COOK (108A: Chef who explains in detail how the sausages are made?)
  • BYU ON CREDIT (117A: Financial aid plan for a school in Provo?)
Word of the Day: Theodore MELFI (60A: Theodore who directed "St. Vincent," 2014) —
Theodore Melfi (Brooklyn, New York, USA) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for his feature length debut film St. Vincent starring Bill Murray. (This is the Entirety of his awesomely bullshit-free wikipedia page)
• • •

This one threatened to be brutal, but then mellowed out nicely. I spent something like 4+ minutes on the NW alone, trying to figure out what was going on, putting malls in wrong places and misremembering early American Johns (I went with ROLFE ... that's somebody, right?) and forgetting my scant Hebrew etc. I had to go pick up the NANCY of that first themer and then back slowly up before a. seeing there was some play on the movie title "Sid and Nancy," and then b. figuring out what that play was. Nobody likes three-letter abbrs. much—not in crosswords anyway—but I'd file this under "Crosswordese Repurposing" themes, and as such, it's pretty good. The answers were clever, and somewhat tough to uncover. Tough enough, anyway. The fill gets away from them a bunch. Never cross-ref your unfortunate short stuff (ABA, ATTYS). One WALLA is about as bad as multiple MYOPIAS. The far SW corner is a little sour and the broader SE, same. In the latter's case, all I can think is that someone *really* wanted "MEIN HERR," grid quality be damned. That SAR TIERI STYRO chunk is flat-out painful. IS LOYAL TO is pretty iffy. Imagine IS PRETTY IFFY as fill, and you see what I mean. So I wish this had been cleaner. But the theme is entertaining (and dense!), and the toughness level was decent. Acceptable fare, overall.

I was trying to remember the exact number of the [Quorum for Jewish worship] and I was like "I think it's ten" (correct!) "... but this is six letters ending in 'N', so it must be ELEVEN" (noooooooo!). With every passing day, I am less and less able to get a grip on the current pop culture. I find this alarming, as I am someone who pays attention to the news every day, listens to new music, has some awareness of new books. It's movies and TV that are gonna kill me. My watching habits have just atrophied. What I do watch tends to be movies on TCM. I think this has been a great boon for my life, my mental health, my fitness, but for crosswords, er, not so much. This is all to say that I *got* you, Eliza DUSHKU, despite having only the faintest idea who you are. And I got *you*, NATALIE Dormer, despite having no idea who you are (had NA-, guessed), but MELFI, lord help me no. Needed every cross. And I'll just take y'all's word for it that Collin RAYE is a thing.

[RIP Glenn Frey]

I have occasionally gotten questions about puzzles for kids, and while I do know of some books out there that are pretty decent, I want to direct your attention to the Kickstarter project of Eric Berlin, accomplished author (of "The Puzzling World of Winston Breen" and its sequels), and top-tier (TIER I?) puzzle-maker. He's filling the kid-puzzle void (ages 9+) with "PUZZLE YOUR KIDS," a subscription service that gives you two kid-friendly puzzles a week, and, at least twice a year, a puzzle hunt—a suite of puzzles that fit together to tell a story. The weekly puzzles are word puzzles of all different kinds. He's got samples on the Kickstarter page. If you have a kid or know a kid who likes puzzles, or whom you think you can hook on puzzles (I mean, beats drugs, right? Probably?), then you should definitely subscribe, or buy a gift subscription for a curious kid that you know. Eric's very close to funding this project, so please go put him over the top today. That would be great. Thanks.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


madchickenlittle 12:11 AM  

I DNF because I had John Allen not John Alden and I had no idea of Sid and Nancy. SDI, SLI. Whatever. This one was not horrible for me except for that corner. Whoopsie.

Carola 12:36 AM  

The puzzle won me over with TABLE HOPS and LUMBAGO before I even got to the theme. Which I didn't really understand for a while: I got the idea of the intitial shuffle but didn't understand how the answers were supposed to be rib TICKLERS. So I had, what? And as for a PDA OF PAPER - why is a paper Blackberry funny? Sigh. The light bulb came on with DNA SAVAGE - definitely funny. Second favorite was BTU SERIOUSLY. A recent puzzle's CLARICE was amusing over RETREAD.

jae 12:40 AM  

Medium for me too. Got hung up in the center with nayS before SUES ( it made sense at the time). FraUD before PSEUD also gave me some problems.

WOEs: MINYAN RAYE MELFI NATALIE (as clued) DODIE. Plus RELAYS sorta grates for riders, rides maybe?

Clever and amusing, or about what you'd expect from these guys, liked it.

Trombone Tom 1:24 AM  

This was a really good workout. Lots of names that were woe's for me. Didn't know (SID) AND ANDY, DUSHKU, or DODIE Smith, but the crosses bailed me out. Thank you FH and BEQ.

Hope our eastern contingent stays safe and thaws out.

chefwen 2:34 AM  

Took a while to figure out how the initials got turned around. It didn't help not knowing SID AND NANCY or DAN SAVAGE. Actually, my part time Puzz partner got it before I did, but wouldn't clue me in, the rat. It finally clicked in with CUP OF NOODLES for me. After that we has a blast passing this very cute puzzle to and fro, getting a kick out of all the theme answers. Had I to pick, I guess RBI TICKLER would be my favorite followed by BYO WONDER, Oh, hell, I liked 'em all.

Anonymous 4:20 AM  

No mention of two CLARICE [Starlings] within 2 days of each other?

John Child 5:17 AM  

It took me a long time to get the trick. The initialisms showed up but I couldn't see enough of the long theme answers to understand how to "turn" the initials. everywhere I looked for key crosses seemed to be proper nouns I didn't know. I circled the clue for TBA COLA, thinking it was terrible fill rather than a theme answer. Eventually RBI TICKLER sunk in, and the rest of the puzzle went down OK.

Except CPU OF NOODLES. "OF NOODLES" = soggy? And that was where WOEs of ATHOL and DUSHKU were.

Rest assured, dear Rex, that the appeal of being "less and less able to get a grip on the current pop culture" will grow on you in the coming decades!

I'm happy to announce that the meta-puzzle contest from George Barany and Friends last year has returned with an all-new challenge this year. Eliminating the Competition offers two puzzles (one easy, one hard) that share a meta answer. Fun prizes include subscriptions, books, personalised puzzles, and more!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:09 AM  

Fun puzzle; a great example of pure wordplay, no twists or dips or missing letters. I had to look back to find some of the obscurities Rex cites, as they had filled in painlessly from crosses.

Living in Northern New Jersey, I knew 1 A, PARAMUS, from the first four words of the clue -- and aren't the next nine words superfluous? And to paraphrase the Levy's rye bread ad, "You don't have to be Jewish" to know 5 D, MINYAN.

Two w/o's: 51 D, "Make one," UNITE >> UNIFY, trivial; and 90 D, "Poseur," FRAUD >> PSEUD (I get it, but I doubt many people got that one with no crosses!)

Thanks, @Tita.

Now to get outside and see if I can find my car under all that snow!

Anonymous 6:16 AM  

Medium rating is exactly what I thought. I solved it on my phone on an overnight bus ride - the potholes just made it more of an adventure than it already was.

I also had trouble with the four names Rex chose today to point out but got them from the crosses. I expect to see names that either do or did appear regularly in the newspaper. And I do read the paper every day. Chuck Colson, anyone? Seeing his name in the puzzle was fascinating for a couple of reasons. People remembered his "hearts and minds" sign, and that they knew he was "born again" in prison. When did all that happen? 40 years ago?

I found the puzzle concept very clever. "Wacky" said it all.


Loren Muse Smith 7:13 AM  

Wow, lots of theme real estate here. I caught on pretty early with GTO MILK and then BTU SERIOUSLY and appreciated the double take on "initial" in the title:

1. themers result in initials (so no GNU LAWS or ERA OF CORN)
2. and they're the initial part (so no WEED ETA - when's my pot getting here???)

I bet they worked hard to come up with so many three-letter initial initials that work and were all amusing and not desperate stretches like OED TO JOY.

Favorite – CPA GUNS. Biggest head scratcher – no Sutcliffe or Ungar clue for STU, given 9D.

LUMBAGO – yep. I shoveled off my deck yesterday. A TON ACHIER this morning.

TMI COOK – Yesterday I was watching Anthony Bourdain (in Scotland). He said about haggis: "There is no more unfavorably reviled food on Earth than haggis. Its ingredients are in fact no more unusual, or bizarre, or unappetizing, than any hot dog you ever ate." I'll definitely try it someday and just not think about what's in it. I love hot dogs – the cheaper, redder, and nastier the better. Try to tell me what's in them? Plug ears and chant, "la la la."

Fun Sunday fare for the gazillion people who are snow BOUND this morning.

Lewis 7:17 AM  

That's a clever and original theme, and figuring it out early helped me solve other themers that just had a few letters filled in. I'm not sure if I had ever heard TABLEHOPS before, but "table hopping" Googles well, and I'm glad to add it to my vocabulary. I didn't get the "soggy" in the CPUOFNOODLES clue. While the cluing was straightforward (but props to the clues for VANNA and STU), and the answers mostly mundane (but yay for CHIPPER, STREW, and CALLSHEET), I stayed involved and interested, the sign of a solid a-one puzzle. Thumbs up.

Unknown 7:17 AM  

Drat. This puzzle ticked me off, and I was really hoping to read a scathing review.

The NE corner made me actively angry. IS LOYAL TO crosses SO TO which crosses IS SO, all of which accommodates a weak theme entry, TBA COLA. Taking the answer seriously, the more natural way of saying it would be COLA TBA. So that's unfortunate. And the original phrase, TAB COLA, is already unfortunate. It's just TAB. Too bad that initials couldn't be placed at the end: DIET TBA would have been a nice answer.

I liked the idea for the theme but hated the execution. The one theme answer that struck me as felicitous was BYO WONDER. Some of the others made the least possible amount of sense. CPU OF NOODLES? PDA OF PAPER? GTO MILK? These are some colorless green ideas.

The clues seem really labored. What about ...

• BYO WONDER: "We don't serve white bread!"
• TMI COOK: "I don't want to know how you make your sausage!"
• DAPPER DNA: "You have such stylish genes!"
• DIET TBA: "I haven't decided between Atkins and Jenny Craig yet."

Perhaps that's too restrictive. I don't know.


I should get to bed.

chefbea 7:44 AM  

Too tough for me..figured out the theme but DNF. Love BYOwonder and cup of noodles. Yesterday because of the cold here puzzle husband and I stayed inside all day. Guess what we watched...Clarice!!! Silence of the lambs was on so we watched the whole thing. Hadn't seen it in years.

Rob 7:45 AM  

Loved this. I still don't think PSEUD is a word, even a slang word, and sure, there were a few iffy bits. But it's in service of a really fun theme with clever answers. More like this please.

'mericans in Paris 7:47 AM  

Medium for us, too. Our first filled in theme answer was GTO MILK, but we didn't get it until RBI TICKLER. Then we managed to suss out most of the other ones, though like some fellow commentators we had ALlen before ALLEN and were not familiar with the film "Sid AND NANCY". NW corner was the last to fall also because I had entered AccruING for 4D and "micro" for 27A. Mrs. 'mericans finally saw the mistake and then we completed that corner pretty quickly.

IN ALL, we didn't find the fill too bad. 101A (SCALP) was cleverly clued, we thought, as was 40D (SPIES). One nit, however: if constructors are going to use French (or any other foreign language) in a clue, the answer for which is the name of a city, they should use its local spelling, not the English spelling, or at least add "variant" to the clue. In particular, LYON, France has no "S" at the end.

By the way, does anybody know the etymology of "A/C" (ref: clue to 91A)? Did they start with AC/DC and drop the C and D? Otherwise, why isn't it just AC?

George Barany 7:53 AM  

Don't know that I'm going to have a lot to add to what @Rex and some of the "early-bird" commentators have already said. Two of the most creative and prolific constructors in the field, @Francis Heaney and @BEQ, join forces for a theme-dense puzzle that had A_LOT of material to ROAR_AT, especially DNA_SAVAGE which brought to mind the closing down clue in this puzzle, as well as the inspiration for another (if you dare) puzzle.

I did appreciate seeing the New York Times debut of MINYAN. Many years ago, I was heading to meet some friends on the upper East side of NYC, when a burly disheveled man approached me, and asked in what sounded like a belligerent tone, "Are you Jewish?" Taken aback, I meekly replied with the truth, "Yes" [personal note: I am non-observant]. He then said, "We're saying prayers for my mother who recently passed, and need one more person for a minyan." So, I did a mitzvah and got a story out of it, to boot.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Who is SID? I know Nancy but not Sid.

'mericans in Paris 8:30 AM  

Correction: we had ALlen before ALDEN.

@Martín Abresch: I like your cluing and answers better than in the original.

@Rob: I share your irritation with PSEUD. It is a Britishism, and should have been clued as such.

Good luck to those of you having to dig out of snowzilla!

chefbea 8:32 AM  

As a chef I should understand 108 across but I don't. What is TMIcook.???

Stupefyin Jones 8:38 AM  

Do they BYO at BYU? Didn't think so.
A hastily assembled MINYAN brought a moment of levity for my son and me after his father's passing. Standing in front of us, one of the men writhing and wailing during Kaddish was wearing a custom leather yarmulke with a Long Island railroad train circling it and a satin baseball jacket emblazoned on the back with " Party Hearty DJ Service" . We desperately tried to stifle a laugh as we imagined this short, portly, balding gent in Dockers scratching vinyl at a house party. Oy vey!

Z 8:44 AM  

DUSHKU looks like a curse word to me. "Don't like rap artists in your puzzle? Well, DUSHKU. The last good movie ever made was in B+W? DUSHKU." Et cetera, et cetera.

Both TIM COOK and DAN SAVAGE seem pretty niche to me. Everyone knows who Steve Jobs was, but does everyone know his successor at Apple? Likewise, how many people actually read modern sex columnists? If you think Dr. Ruth is edgy you might not want to read Dan.


Annette 9:08 AM  

Finished way under my average, but hated myself every minute I spent on it, thinking there's ALOT of constructive things I could be doing with this time. ALOT is a pet peeve of mine that I edit away every chance I get. That, along with ISSO, SOTO, ITO, CLE, CEN, ABA, ATTYS, and a silly stretched punny theme made for a joyless exercise - especially after yesterday's stellar entry.

Nancy 9:14 AM  

CLARICE, honey, you didn't think I'd misspell you two days in a row, did you?

It took me forever to figure out what the gimmick was, but once I did, the sailing got a lot smoother.

I thought this was extremely amusing in many places, and I only wish that BEQ was not so fond of pop name clues. I'm a third of a way through his "Sit and Solve Marching Bands" book, which was cheap to BYU in paperback, but the clever construction in those puzzles is marred by a plethora of proper names. In this crossword, I thought that SDI AND NANCY were worth the price of admission and RBI TICKLER also tickled my ribs. I never heard of DUSHKU either, @Z, and I love your comment. My comment is that back in the day, an actress with the name Eliza Dushku simply wouldn't exist. She'd be Lana Turner or Lauren Bacall or something like that.

I found this harder than most Sundays and enjoyed it greatly, despite DUSHKU and MELFI and DODIE. I loved both clue and answer for TABLE HOPS. I had FRAUD before PSEUD like many others, I'm sure. Very diverting on this snowed-in day. It just didn't last long enough.

F.O.G. 9:28 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Favorite theme answers were TMI COOK (@ chefbea: too much information) and BTU? SERIOUSLY? The cluing for REPOSTS was clever. Many thanks to our constructors.

GILL I. 9:41 AM  

@George B....Only you can tell a story so that I never forget the word MINYAN...Oy.
This puzzle was....for lack of a clever word....cute! I bet Francis and Brendan had loads of fun making this. I cottoned on to the theme with the CPU OF NOODLES. Lots of names I didn't know and, like @Rex, I guess I'm going to have to watch "Game of Thrones" and memorize every single cast member so that I can do a modern day puzzle!
Love the word kinda goes with the TUDE we saw the other day.
I would rate this an RBI TICKLER.

JC66 9:46 AM  


TIM COOK is CEO of Apple.

Wm. C. 9:50 AM  

'Mericans --

A/C. => Air Conditioning, which can be rated in British Thermal Units (BTUs).

Teedmn 10:12 AM  

Got this one at TBA COLA as I sat solving with my pink soda can at hand. Not to say it was all smooth sailing. Over at the CPA GUNS I mixed my upper with my lower limbs, thought of gams so scrambled that to get "CPA mags". Huh? VANNA (great clue there) and UNIte got me straightened out. Then RYAN gave me UNItY and I mumbled at the editors for the incorrectness of "make one" = UNItY. UNIFY was a long time coming.

At 79D, I had _NUN and, thinking of the Annunciation, entered aNUNCIATE. Finally seeing that the Grateful Dead worked w/o A NET saved me from my usual lazy Sunday DNF. Though I near-Naticked at PARAMUS/MINYAN. My last entry was that M. I was surprised that I wouldn't know the NJ city with one of the largest shopping centers, but then I wondered how many people know that the Mall of America is in Bloomington, MN, the fifth largest city in MN? It is a Twin Cities TIER I suburb, so easily over-looked, perhaps.

I loved SDI AND NANCY; BTU, SERIOUSLY; and RBI TICKLER. I was TICKLED to think of what crazy signals the offense would come up to call the RBI TICKLER play.

Thanks, FH and BEQ, for a fun Sunday.

OISK 10:14 AM  

Dushku?? And I don't speak Spanish, so H_evo with DUSHK_ was a pure guess. HUEVO sounded right, somehow, but DUSHKU did not. So a DNF, breaking a nice 10 day winning streak. However, if asking your wife is permissible, then I got it right. She DID take Spanish in high school...

Otherwise, mostly enjoyable, clever theme, several unfamiliar proper names, but that often happens in a Sunday puzzle.

'mericans in Paris 10:22 AM  

@Wm. C. -- I understand that A/C = air conditioning, and I understand the clue and the answer. What I'm asking is why the abbreviation for air conditioning is not simply AC (or A-C), like home run is HR (not H/R), girlfriend is GF (not G/F), etc. That's why I asked if anybody knew the abbreviation's etymology.

Lobster11 10:31 AM  

Thank you, @Martín Abresch! You are my new hero. I hated this thing so much I didn't bother to finish it. The only reason I stuck with it as long as I did was that there were a few real gems buried under the mountain of (unknown to me) proper names and green-paint themers. Yuck.

Francis 10:32 AM  

Despite being goyish and living in Arizona at the time, I managed to learn MINYAN in high school from the very funny Harlan Ellison short story "I'm Looking for Kadak".

RooMonster 10:43 AM  

Hey All !
Eliza DUSHKU. Schwing! She's a babe!
Fun switching initial initals puz! Only problem, like others, was the SDI AND NANCY one. First, hadn't heard of the movie, second, what the heck is the SDI in SDI AND NANCY? All the others make sense, not that one.

Figured out trick at TBA COLA, of all things, showing off that I'm getting older than I'd like to be. (But aren't we all?) Confirmed trick at GTO MILK. Fun themers, except SDI, of course.

Nice to see full MOUNT ETNA, interesting clue for STU. Agree with whoever said NE corner was kinda wonky. Never heard of NGAIO Marsh, had to guess at the A, got it right. But, alas, had eLlEN like many others, plus an S in CLARIsE, so a DNF. But quite close to correct, guess that'll have to do.

I'm always told to ENUNCIATE, as I tend to mumble. The way I figure it, I never have anything much interesting to say anyway. :-)


Anonymous 10:49 AM  

I was also gobsmacked by Clarice (Starling) appearing twice in one week.

Steve M 10:50 AM  

Three great puzzles in a row

billocohoes 10:54 AM  

Anonymous at 8:09
"Sid and Nancy" is a 1986 film starring Gary Oldman about 70s punk rocker Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie) of the Sex Pistols, accused of killing his manager/girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

Unknown 10:59 AM  

@ 'mericans in Paris 10:22 AM To further complicate the matter, there is HVAC (no slash) where the AC also means Air Conditioning. My guess is that the slash has been used to distinguish it from ac – alternating current. (Note, this, as is “dc,” is correctly lower case according to the IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.)

it was a Sunday, so tough but doable for me. My only cheat was having to “ask a friend” (as in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) for the Medusa creature. In immediate retrospect, it was quite inferable. Jeesh!!!

After much head-scratching, the theme conceit finally revealed itself to me with BTU SERIOUSLY. That was of some help for a few of the other theme answers. Though a stretch, I liked M.I.T. COOK (who might know how to “engineer” a sausage) for TMICOOK rather than TIM COOK.

I was sure this would eventually be a DNF, but I persisted, finally being rewarded with the happy jingle.

53A Today’s clue, as opposed to the Alan-a-Dale one the other day (where lyre, not lute, was more historically correct) is spot on. The LUTE was indeed very popular in the Renaissance and thus historically appropriate for a Renaissance fair (besides being a more audible instrument amid the ambient noise sure to be present at such events).

Bill NYES, “The Humor Guy”.

Busy day.
So not much to say.
Hope you snow-BOUND guys are OK!!


Hartley70 11:00 AM  

It was quick. It was amusing. It gets an easy rating from me because even DUSHKU was a gimme (Buffy fan) as was MINYAN (I second the Levy's ad, @BobKerfuffle) and PSEUD. Oh but I really wanted MELFI to be Dr. Jennifer MELFI, Tony Soprano's shrink played by the gorgeous Lorraine Bracco. She's wasted on her one-dimensional current TV role as Angie Harmon's mother IMHO.

To digress some more...a la @Rex I watched TCM yesterday as the snow fell...Black and white, classic, Five Graves to Cairo", thanks to @Nancy. 15" here, so we dodged the BIG ONE.

Susan 11:02 AM  

Got TIM COOK and SID AND NANCY and all the other themes and finished in typical Sunday time but I still don't get 38 Down's blank space as PHI. Anyone help?

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

a quibble on cup of noodles - the brand is "cup noodles" ( there is no "of"), or the Lipton "cup-a-soup". Also no "of". Otherwise the phrase "cup of noodles" seems like just a cup of well, anything. Cup of chickpeas, cup of olives, cup of scotch. Am I missing something on the specific phrase and non-Lipton spelling?

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

A few goodies, but mostly meh.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@'mericans in Paris It's A/C for air conditioning because AC is alternating current.

Unknown 11:23 AM  

@ 'mericans in Paris: Just to add to my guess: Do you need AC for the AC or AC for the A/C? Using the slash makes sense as the two can often be found in the same context. On the other hand, with HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) there is no ambiguity so no slash.


chefbea 11:31 AM  

@JC66 I know Tim cook is CEO of apple...but what does all this have to do with sausage??

MI Nana 11:54 AM  

Why is phi the answer to 58 down?

Rabi Abonour 11:54 AM  

This theme killed me. I picked up the three letter initialisms no problem, but needed my girlfriend to figure out how the swap was working. I'm a little conflicted on this puzzle - some of the fill was truly terrible, but on Sunday I'm willing to forgive a lot in exchange for theme density. As such, I had a lot of fun with this one even though nonsense fill killed me at some parts.

Joseph Michael 11:55 AM  

Except for SDI AND NANCY and BYO WONDER, which are both quite funny, I thought the theme was strained and not particularly interesting. Got bored with it half way through but finished anyway. I usually like BEQ's work a lot, but this one didn't do it for me.

@Nancy, congratulations. You made it into the NYT.

Diana,LIW 12:01 PM  

Ah, Sunday, when I'm only a week behind most of you, and the local paper (Monterey Herald) has both the NYT and LAT puzzles right there, on newsprint, as they should be.

Just wanted to say to all of you in the East to stay warm and off the roads. Participated in a "Snowzilla" event a couple of years ago, and it was no fun wondering if I'd make it home. Hope you and yours are all safe, at home, and puzzling.

Diana, LIW for Crosswords

Andrew Heinegg 12:14 PM  

Because a cook/chef that gives you the details of how sausage is made is a too much information chef! You know, you don't really want or need to know what goes into sausage.

Bobby Hurley 12:20 PM  

@Anon 1103 --A cup of chickpeas, a cup of olives and a cup of Scotch?

Might as well make it 3 cups of ipecac and be done with the projectile vomiting.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

I wonder what number Eliza Dushku was on the callsheet? Same with Natalie Dormier.

(That's a shout-out to Comedy Bang Bang's Scott Auckerman.)

Sid and Nancy are/much much more than a movie.

Señora 12:26 PM  

Me too!

Nancy 12:46 PM  

@Hartley 70 -- You only got 15"? We got 27 bleeping inches and set an all-time record. @Teedmn -- Can you cross-country ski down to my neck of the woods this afternoon AND CART THIS MISERABLE STUFF AWAY? Once you have it ensconced snugly in MN, it will enable you to keep on skiing...and skiing...and skiing until at least April.

@FOG -- I'm searching high and low and I can't find REPOSTS -- the clue you said was clever in your 9:28 comment. This is why, everyone, I'm pretty scrupulous about annotating my puzzle references on the blog. I can be so frustrated by looking for a clue or answer that's been referred to and not finding it, or not finding it easily enough. So far, I haven't found this one at all.

@Unknown (11:02) -- I don't get it, either. I assumed when I read it that it was an editorial error: that someone had gone to a separate computer function to put in a Greek symbol (hi, @Tita) and had simply forgotten to come back and put it in.

I must go down to the lobby and see what my hilly street looks like right now and how impassable and slippery it all looks. (I can't see any of that from my window, as I face the back, not the front.) Then I suspect I'll come back and have a good cry.

Z 12:48 PM  

@chefbea - TMI = Too Much Information. A chef who explains how sausage is made would be a TMI COOK.

@Unknown11:02 - PHI is at 58D and my puzzle has the clue "Follower of upsilon," which I translated as "three letter Greek letter."

old timer 12:52 PM  

Took me forever to realize that the themers did not secretly contain something that stretched across part or all of the full answer. So I confidently wrote in SDI AND NAFTA. Really did not figure out that the first three letters needed to be interchanged until BYOWONDER.

I knew about "make minyan" from the Rabbi Small detective stories. And I, too, was once asked if I was Jewish -- I look like I could be, and decades ago was hanging out in Japantown before hearing music at SF's Winterland. So I knew why the man had to ask me -- but I had to decline, not being Jewish.

France's second city was always LYONs before the dropped the final "s". Why'd they put those esses on the bench? Nobody's business but the French.

I found the puzzle pretty easy to finish once I got the trick. But I was a little mad they left in DUSHKU. Some names are way too obscure.

puzzle hoarder 12:54 PM  

Kudos t ok Mr. Parker for getting the NW corner in 4 minutes. This took me 22 which is almost half the time for the rest. 2D and 7D were the only gummies. For some reason I didn't read the 3D clue for over 10 minutes. That was the one that made it solvable. I had a hunch I'd eventually recognize the NJ town. A cursory check of the hoard shows me it was in the 9/20/12 puzzle clued as the Cone heads hometown. That's what I like about the NYTs puzzle. They use the obscure which hides in plain sight. Who hasn't seen the cone heads skits? Yes Minyan is in my Websters and is now dutifably underlined and dated. Filled in the whole thing without mistakes or help. Lots of things to add to the hoard. Good luck to the east coasters digging out.

Maruchka 1:06 PM  

Similar to @Rex's. Looking forward to reading the solver concoctions, supra.

Fav of the day - SDI AND NANCY. From a galaxy far, far away. The current crop of contenders make Ronnie look awful-ly good.

@chefbea - T(im) COOK stumps me, too. Has he achieved vernacular status?

weingolb 1:06 PM  

A flurry of fun filling in themers as the wordplay rules got sussed.

But once complete, I had to do some digging to make sense of the SDIANDNANCY and TMICOOK references. Hmm... 1984's Strategic Defense Initiative and an Apple CEO with an extremely ubiquitous name. No offense, but at this point in time, is either one colourful enough to hang a themer off? I guess you could say the same for GTOMILK, though at least Got Milk? seems like a fresh-enough cultural ref. (Re-reading the Reagan clue now is kinda cute and funny though.)

Señora 1:12 PM  

In my (printed) magazine, the clue for 58 is blank -- nothing about "Follower of upsilon". I had to get PHI from the crosses. Anybody else have this problem?

mac 1:13 PM  

@chefbea: for us, finding out how sausage was made is not too much information, but for many it is. I have to admit to TMI Pork first, quickly fixed by Klee.

Fun puzzle, but then I expected no less from these two guys! One mistake: Allen for Alden.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Fought my way through most of the puzzle, but my certainty that it was BRA wonder (as in Wonder Bra) killed any hope of finishing!

Carola 1:58 PM  

@Senora (sorry, no ~), I happened to see that the NY Times Wordplay blog posted an alert about this "production error."

chefbea 2:17 PM  

OK now I get it!!!

chefbea 2:19 PM  

Meant to add...I am now going make sausage and lentils. If anyone wants to know how to make it.....The recipe is in the most recent issue of AARP magazine right next to a funny crossword puzzle

yinchiao 2:27 PM  

In our printed copy, 58 down was blank - no clue.

AliasZ 2:58 PM  

The concept of "if the theme idea itself is paper-thin, let's cram as many of them into the grid as possible, even at the risk of breaking the camel's back" is on full display in today's puzzle. I respect Francis and BEQ tremendously, but sorry to say, this one was not my CPU OF NOODLES... I prefer a cleverer, multi-faceted, perhaps a meta, theme on a Sunday, sparingly spread out throughout the grid. But that's just me.

The Para-mousse shopping area around Rtes. 4 and 17 off the GW Bridge must be a nightmare right about now.

Walla, melfi, roarat, tieri,
The last one rhymes with Chef Fieri,
Isso, soto, styro, etsy,
Brings to mind one Betsy Wetsy.
Alot, alist, anet well flung
Will catch, most likely, Brigham Young.

Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813-1888) was a French pianist and composer. The fourth movement of his Grande sonate: Les quatre âges, Op. 33 is titled 50 Ans: Prométhée enchaîné or Prometheus BOUND.

A cigar is just a cigar, but a pinch of tobacco is ACHOO.

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

Can someone explain STU as VW head? to me?

Carlos 3:40 PM  

Would someone please explain STU as a VW head?

Hartley70 3:55 PM  

@MI Nana, because PHI follows UPSILON in the Greek alphabet.

Z 4:22 PM  

@Carlos and @Anon3:35 - The alphabet.

Embarassed To Know 4:35 PM  

In the alphabet STU head up VW: L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.

Chronic dnfer 4:36 PM  

No one explained how noodles have anything to do with soggy. Good puzzles otherwise.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Well BYO Wonder and SDI and Nancy were genuinely funny...but the rest were a stretch. Enjoyed it a lot more than last week's swirling words though.

The PHI clue was missing in the print edition. Lost in the snow?

Hartley70 5:01 PM  

@Carlos, "STUVWXYZ"

Unknown 5:07 PM  

Me too, me too, me too. Loved this puzzle. Got it at Dan Savage, went back to Sid & Nancy, and then I was rarin to go. I was able to fill from NW to NE, pretty much working my way down evenly. Pseud stunk - and blank 58D I don't get. Possibly a typo in only sone editions?0therwise a real delight. (Can I be the only solver who knows Dodie Smith's work? I Capture the Castle is also delightful, though I've never seen or read her plays)

Alex 5:09 PM  

Not TOO bad for me. I didn't know a lot of the actors, but figured the names from the crosses. Still don't know them. I came to query why something that stays in "a lot" is a CAR and JUST gave myself a dope slap. Darn.

Tita 7:10 PM  

DNFd with several naticks - just ran out of time/interest.
I'm in a bad mood, and it is affecting my possible enjoyment of this puzzle.
Some were very cute, some tried too hard.

Had never ever heard the word MINYAN, until about 2 hours before seeing that clue, when my Irish Catholic sister-in-law had asked "what do you call that group of Jewish men who meet to worship...a Minyan, insn't it?" Of course, I still had no idea how to spell it, but what syncronicity.
@GeorgeB - priceless story.

@LMS - I now have Scottish in-laws too. When we were there for our daughter's wedding, they brought us to a place known for their authentic haggis. We tried it, of course. And actually liked it - in a sortakinda wouldn't mind having it once every 10 years way.
So we bought 3 shrink-wrapped ones to bring back with us. (What WAS puzspouse thinking??!!)
Now we might all wonder if customs officials secretly snack on the foie gras, unpasteurized camambert or limburger, down the Chateau d'Yquem...but I'll bet the ones who confiscated our stash of offal never thought twice about what to do with it...!

A mere dusting of 6" here at the fringes of the storm. Glad to have helped out some of my snowbound friends.

Thank you, FH&BEQ.
Yes - RBITICKLER was the best one.

Louise 7:11 PM  

Okay, "styro" foam and everything else made sense. Fun.

Louise 7:13 PM  

Yes, why? An error?

old timer 7:41 PM  

I was happy to be reminded that STYRO is (or it least used to be) a trade name for the original maker of what we know as STYROfoam

Francis 7:43 PM  

We had originally clued SOTO as a fill-in-the-blank to avoid the reps you refer to: [Hernando de ___]. It got changed later, probably just to make that corner easier to break into. I don't think Will is bothered by reps of short words.

Hartley70 8:36 PM  

@Aketi, in your shoes, or should I say apartment, I might never cook again. Here's hoping it's French!

Unknown 8:57 PM  

Ok, but why is there no clue?

Unknown 8:58 PM  

But 58 down has no clue- why is phi following upsilon an answer to no clue?

Unknown 9:00 PM  

Yes! No clue!

Unknown 9:00 PM  

But 58 down has no clue- why is phi following upsilon an answer to no clue?

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

there are too many obscure pop culture names and slang words(Is pseud really a word?) and some of the texting words are shortcuts that are not that well known. Also the new slick paper is very difficult to write on even with my Black Wing pencil. I have no idea what TMI stands for.

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

Thanks to billocohoes for the info on Sid.

Sacgurl 12:43 AM  


oldbizmark 9:54 AM  

really enjoyed this puzzle after i figured out what the hell was going on. Guessed on ATHOL which got me the very difficult for me (for some reason) AS THOUGH, then went with SDI (which I just had to look up) thinking it had to be SID AND NANCY even though I had no idea what SDI was. Good puzzle. Nice mix of old and new. And, thankfully no more Beatles. To hell with the Beatles and everyone who uses the Beatles as crossword puzzle fodder (I have been meaning to complain about that since last Tuesday?).

Much love from the snowy confines of my home.

Oldbizmark, Deuce of Crossword Puzzles

Alan_S. 5:16 PM  

Is that a They Might Be Giants reference?

Unknown 2:34 AM  

Thank you for that bit of insight!

Joe Bleaux 11:17 PM  

Evidently, 58 down is clueless in some versions -- such as the Sunday NYT mag.

spacecraft 12:24 PM  

Since I've never heard of three of the themers (Sid and Nancy, Tim Cook, Dan Savage), this was not easy for me. Also "pad of paper" is just about the greenest paint I can imagine. There were a few RBITICKLERS in there, but NOTASMANY as one might hope for.

Thus reduced to appropriate Sunday sloggishness, I TABLEHOPped around the grid and finished correctly. Meh. C.

Burma Shave 12:47 PM  


but for the MONEY, there’s NODEAL like this – attend BYUONCREDIT.


rain forest 2:03 PM  

Two Sundays in a row where I enjoyed the whole thing, and finished with a correct solution.

Three answers came by default: DNA SAVAGE, TMI COOK, and NGAIO (my last entry - it had to be that). Most of the puzzle played medium-easy for me, but the NW and SE I found tough to suss out. I thought there was a nice mix of cluing and where I had to rely on crosses, there they were. Good construction in my book.

Fun puzzle.

rondo 2:24 PM  

This one wasted ALOT of time. And it is unfunny. And answers like NGAIO, PSEUD, PARAMUS, AHORA, and that ATHOL MELFI? Could just as well be pure gibberish.

Apparently I’ll have to see Frozen since every puz has an answer from it.

There are NOTASMANY yeah babies as there could be, but those given are a stellar ALIST. VANNA turns Us but never turns into an OLEMISS, gimme just U VANNA. Yeah baby NATALIE Dormer can play those Games with me. Eliza DUSHKU slays me.

It’s recently been cold here in MN (not so much today), so I do take my BTUsSERIOUSLY, but not this puz. I’m with AliasZ on this one.

AnonymousPVX 3:00 PM  

This took a while but I had a successful finish.

That being said, this is my least favorite puzzle type, the "gimmick" puzzle. I salute the ingenuity but I just don't care for these at all.

Also, I was under the impression a Sunday puzzle was like a big Wednesday in terms of difficulty. This seems like a Friday level to me.

Diana,LIW 8:11 PM  

Loads of fun for me. Did an inward "heh heh" at NGAIO, one of my fave crime writers. Thought to myself, "For once I know the proper name reference." (I forget who it was who coined the term "female dicks" for the women detectives and solvers of fictional crime.)

Back to the puzzle. I caught on to the fact that there was more to the theme than met my spying little eye, and then the lightbulb lit, and solving became a joy. For me. Favorite - TMICOOK. ASTHOUGH I needed to REPOST a fav. Hvr, agree with the "too many proper names" theme in general.

Always amazed at the plethora of opinions here - not that any of them are MYOPIc. Me? I'm not a rebus fan (think it's constructor cheating) unless I get it, in which case - brilliant! ;-)

Tita and Rainy - gave a late (today) response to Saturday. Tita - I may have a hometown treat for you tomorrow if I can figure out how to post it. Also, Rainy, just re-read for the umpteenth time the "all comments must be approved by the blog author" disclaimer. Perhaps Rex couldn't have other moderators even if he wanted to. I mean, without giving out his email, password, SSN, wt., ht., shoe size, DOB, etc.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 3:24 PM  


And, what @Joseph Michael said.

RP, he of the ageist puzzle biases, seems at last to have experienced a fundamental truth: that there comes a time in one's life when pop culture is simply not interesting or rewarding enough to keep up with.

Wilbur Charles 5:41 PM  

I've got to learn Spanish101. Ngaio made up for being so clueless about 21st century pop culture. I'll find about Tumbir from my son.

Joe 11:32 PM  

Tough but finished with no mistakes. Lot of arcane stuff here: Paramus, Melfi, Ahora, Minyan, Huevo, Dushku, Dodie, Ngaio, Klee, Raye. Still don't "get' some of the theme answers. Agree with Rex that eventually my ignorance of today's culture will prevent me from finishing these.

Unknown 10:45 AM  

Please put your paging functions at the top of the page so I can see the next puzzle without going through all of the comments! Thank you.

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