Card table cloth / SUN 2-28-16 / Nougaty treats / World Heritage Site in Andes / Queen pop nickname / 1961 space chimp / 1994 bomb based on SNL character

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Court Jesters" — basketball terms with wacky non-basketball "?" clues

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Fly swatter? (BUZZER BEATER)
  • 34A: Drool from both sides of the mouth? (DOUBLE DRIBBLE)
  • 51A: Tip of an épée? (POINT GUARD)
  • 58A: Busted timer? (SHOT CLOCK)
  • 66A: Desi Arnaz? (BALL HANDLER)
  • 79A: Winning an Oscar for "Norma Rae"? (FIELD GOAL)
  • 88A: Acrophobe's term for a route through the mountains? (NO-LOOK PASS)
  • 101A: Lament from an unlucky shrimper? (NOTHING BUT NET)
  • 116A: Writing "30 and single" when it's really "50 and married" e.g.? (PERSONAL FOUL)
  • 16D: Violation of Yom Kippur? (FAST BREAK)
  • 79D: Rug dealer's special? (FREE THROW) 
Word of the Day: GIMBAL (52D: Stabilizer of a ship's compass) —
A gimbal is a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. A set of three gimbals, one mounted on the other with orthogonal pivot axes, may be used to allow an object mounted on the innermost gimbal to remain independent of the rotation of its support (e.g. vertical in the first animation). For example, on a ship, the gyroscopes, shipboard compasses, stoves, and even drink holders typically use gimbals to keep them upright with respect to the horizon despite the ship's pitching and rolling. // The gimbal suspension used for mounting compasses and the like is sometimes called a Cardan suspension after Italian mathematician and physicist Gerolamo Cardano (1501–1576) described it in detail. However, Cardano did not invent the gimbal, nor did he claim to. The device has been known since antiquity and may not have a single identifiable inventor. (wikipedia)
• • •

I wish the NYT would discontinue this type of theme. It's a non-theme—just basketball terms. All the "entertainment" is in the cluing, so the whole thing feels cheap. You could do one of these with tennis and even keep the puzzle title. In fact, I'm 83% certain I've seen precisely such a puzzle before. The theme is dense, as it often is when the puzzle is trying to make up for the theme's weakness. Conceptually, this seems far beneath what the self-styled "best puzzle in the world" oughta be offering in its marquee puzzle. The clues aren't even that entertaining, honestly. If you're going to do this kind of theme, where *everything* is in the clues, then you should go for broke, pull out all the stops, and other clichés of similar meaning. I mean your clues should be outlandish, brazen, hilarious. These are knee-slappers, at best. Elbow-jabbers. Winkers. Bah. Also, the clue BALL HANDLER was just disturbing to me—no need to go to a clue that asserts / reinforces male dominance like that when there are other ways to get a wacky funny loony "?" clue out of that particular word pairing. Animals have handlers. Come on, man.

[Gutter ball?] (ALLEY OOPS)

Gonna take a wild guess here and say there is No Way that BAIZE was originally in this puzzle (12D: Card table cloth). I mean, that answer hasn't been in any NYT puzzle in 13 years. Yikes. That thing was obviously MAIZE, and then someone caught the MANS dupe at 63D: "Jeez!" (OH, MAN). Because no constructor in their right mind is knowingly, voluntarily going with BAIZE over MAIZE. And yet this decision still makes no sense, as you could easily change NRA to IRA or SRA or TRA, keeping MAIZE and getting rid of MANS. So I have no idea what kind of cluing thinking was going on there. All I know is that BAIZE is desperation fill, and there was absolutely no need for desperation here. GIMBAL has never appeared in the NYT before. Totally new word to me. I guess I just don't understand the taste that's driving this puzzle, or the rationale for much of what's happening with the theme or fill. Puzzle was mostly easy, but then [Popinjay] (???) for FOP crossing [Go through] (?) for EXPEND caused me to just stare at a single blank square for a while. ALECTO is spelled with two "L"s in the translations of "The Aeneid" that I know of, so that answer was not easy for me.
Haec ubi dicta dedit, terras horrenda petivit;
luctificam Allecto dirarum ab sede dearum
infernisque ciet tenebris, cui tristia bella              
iraeque insidiaeque et crimina noxia cordi.

When she had spoken these words, fearsome, she sought the earth:
and summoned Allecto, the grief-bringer, from the house
of the Fatal Furies, from the infernal shadows: in whose
mind are sad wars, angers and deceits, and guilty crimes.
See. Two "L"s. Both versions. But ALECTO is the spelling in the wikipedia entry, so it's legit. Just not Virgilian (and thus, dead to me).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Easy Sun. Amusing theme, not much dreck, liked it much more than Rex did.

El Gran Jugador 12:29 AM  

Baize turned out to be a gimme...but I had not run into the word anywhere until yesterday when it appeared in "The Secret Agent" (as apron material), and I had to look it up.

allan 12:42 AM  

Lament from an unlucky shrimper? (NOTHING BUT NET) C'mon man pure genius.

Ken Wurman 12:52 AM  

Liked this one even though the clues were not very clever. Once I got the basketball theme it became fairly easy. Originally had "food break" before I realized it didnt work as a theme answer.. For some reason I always believed the Lucille Ball - Desi Arnez relationship was the other way around..

pmdm 12:55 AM  

Like it or not, it's a theme. Basketball terminology redefined. That's is a theme. I'm not a basketball fan, so the theme left me could,but the redefinitions were for the most part cute which saved the puzzle for me. And I suspect a lot of basketball fans solving this puzzle will like the theme. So why would the Times not want to run a puzzle that a lot of people will like? Sometimes supporting compromise is a good thing. This sounds more severe than I want it to.

The constructor point out that he could have turned the puzzle into a pangram, but he would have had to have the entry MAJ which he didn't like. As an abbreviation for MAJOR, I would be OK with that. I give him credit for sticking to his self-imposed standards. Bravo for that.

I do find the timing of the publication odd. Why not let it run during the NBA finals? Or the NCAA finals? That would be more appropriate.

I might be wrong, but I think Alecto is a Greek god, so Virgil's Latin spelling would not necessarily be the true spelling. But then again, if you can spell Enescu as Enesco, why not Allecto. One of the reason I dislike proper names in crossword puzzles.

paulsfo 1:35 AM  

I thought 'extremely easy' rather than 'easy medium.'

I agree that that the theme was a complete snoozer, for anyone who knows these basketball terms.

chefwen 1:58 AM  

Well my comments just disappeared, wonder what I did and hope I don't duplicate my efforts. Rex, discard one if I did, please.

Finishing this without any outside assistance was reason enough for me to like it. Caught on early with SHOT CLOCK and FIELD GOAL, then just went looking for other basketball terms. Pretty easy.

1A DECLAW made me cringe, leather furniture and a little discipline i.e. water in a spritzer bottle will solve that problem. Don't mutilate poor kitty.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE reminded me of Skippy, the droolingest, sheddiingest doggy ever invented. Miss ya Skipper!

Good puzzle Mr. Polin, I enjoyed!

Alby 3:05 AM  

I rather liked all the bad puns for the theme answers. Reminded me of Merl Reagle, IDARESAY.

'mericans in Paris 4:22 AM  

I DARE SAY, I wasn't expecting such a sustained HOWL from @Rex, but I see his point, especially about the LIMP theme. Here are some alternative clues:

23A: Fast-talking presidential candidate? (BUZZER BEATER)
34A: Generous dose of bitters? (DOUBLE DRIBBLE)
51A: Battery Park? (POINT GUARD)
58A: Drinking timer? (SHOT CLOCK)
66A: Livestock castrator? (BALL HANDLER)
88A: Suggestive comment made while turned away? (NO-LOOK PASS)
101A: Request to a seller of stockings? (NOTHING BUT NET)
116A: A spill of soup on your tie, e.g.? (PERSONAL FOUL)
16D: Espresso? (FAST BREAK)
79D: Lose a contest without compensation? (FREE THROW)

HELL, we thought the fill was NOT SO BAD. Nice to see CHASM, CUZCO, GIMBEL, LOONIE, TAPAS, and VOTARY. BAIZE (a corruption of the original French word, baies) didn't cause us a problem. And of course we could easily remember the ALAMO.

Knew crossbow, long bow, etc., but not WAR BOW. Turns out there is an English War Bow society, however, so I guess it's legit.

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Celebrities also have handlers.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:08 AM  

Passable puzzle, but I must admit to disappointment when I saw that every answer was a basketball term.

But I welcome words like BAIZE and GIMBAL, which I knew although I don't remember ever using in conversation -- or writing.

Three w/o's: 91 A, "Fire place?", HOLE (as in "Fire in the HOLE!") >> HELL; 98 D, I AM PAT >> IT'S PAT; and, 111 D, NOES >> FOES.

Lewis 6:44 AM  

I enjoyed trying to figure out the themers with just a few letters or none, and I liked seeing those crossing themers in the NE and SW. I enjoyed the rhyming column three: CIZCO/PIANO/FREETHROW. Another themer could have been PRESS. I would like to have gone into Timothy's head when he was thinking of the clues for BALLHANDLER. I liked the mini-theme of words ending with O (12), and there were a couple of close-but-no-cigar basketball terms, OOPS (hoops) and PASA (pass). GIMBAL is very close to a Jabberwocky word (gimble), and that always brings smiles to my heart. While it wasn't a laugh-out-loud theme, it brought some inner smiles.

One person's PTUI is another's OLE, and I fall into the latter camp!

Unknown 6:59 AM  

Arnaz founded Desilu Productions and from that point on until their divorce he looked after the business side of the relationship. Thus he was he agent, also known as a handler. From Merriam-Webster

Simple Definition of handler

: a person who trains or controls an animal

: a person who carries or handles something

: a person who guides, helps, or manages a political or public figure

Definition number three covers your all-too-common PC overreaction and outrage.

Patrick K 7:24 AM  

Agreed, Rex.

But, I did like the cross of SYBIL with FIELDGOAL.

F.O.G. 7:26 AM  

PTUI!? That about sums it up for me.

Hungry Mother 7:28 AM  

Northeast was last to fall for me. Loved the clue for NRA, but getting BANS gave it to me for free. Just eked this one out before my long run today (13.1).

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

As a non-basketball fan, it was hard for me to figure out this theme. Once I did, it was hard for me to care about it. I often think Rex is way too harsh, but no today.

GILL I. 8:22 AM  

I learned the word Popinjay from Bill O'Reilly's "Factor Words of the Day." He couldn't stop using it...maybe because it had such a happy sound to it? FOP!
I don't know too much about basketball and all the phrases used for the sport; everything I knew came from watching my beloved Kings during their heydays in the 2000's...[sigh]. Didn't matter because I rather enjoyed the puzzle. Now that I'm looking, there is SYBIL, LONI and MAGDA all in that central area. Can three women be any different from each other? Lets see, SYBIL could be the BUZZER BEATER, LONI the BALL HANDLER and MAGDA the NO LOOK PASS.
I don't know why, but I always want to eat some nachos or salsa and chips in a Cantina. I seem to want to save the TAPAS for later...maybe in Spain, on the Costa Brava.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Pretty sure Virgil used the Greek alphabet, freeing up Classics professors and Wikipedia editors alike to use as many l's as they like.
Not clear to me why fill is better if it's been used before. I would think the opposite.
Any student of BritLit has heard of baize. Mrs. Medlock ALWAYS appeared from behind the green baize door.
"Double Dribble..." "Field goal..." This puzzle was easy but fun. And the crosses were impressive.

Glimmerglass 8:39 AM  

I have a Rexian gripe about today's puzzle. As Rex often does, I complain because I fell into an error (and this one, I didn't get out of). AIRPLANE is clued "runway model?" *just like the themers with a qestion mark*! I had the -LANE and figure this must be the painted sacred ground under the basketball chalice (you see I don't much like bball). Now I then got AIR-, but my next letter was t from StRAIN. Because I was &$(@/?@ led to believe this as a themer (see the ?), I couldn't get LANE out of my head, couldn't see the obvious AIRPLANE and SPRAIN. So I shrugged, "Maybe there's an air T lane." Alas, poor me.

Lobster11 8:45 AM  

Played very easy for me (for a Sunday). Theme was too easy for someone who knows basketball terms, so the only way I found to extract any fun out of this was, like @Lewis, to try to guess the themers based on only a couple/few crosses.

One minor complaint, which I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned yet: With themers running both down and across, and all ending with "?," isn't there some kind of unspoken rule that there shouldn't be any non-theme "?" clues?

Dorothy Biggs 8:49 AM  

"Hey, it's card night! Do you know where we put the tablecloth made of BAIZE?" Said no one, ever.

"We have two of those tablecloths made of BAIZE. One is green and the other is made from AZO dye." Replied no one, ever.

I can't remember the last time I used the word AZO. Ah, memories. Good times with AZO dyes.

Sometimes a Sunday puzzle is just a puzzle that's done on Sunday. Today is Sunday. There was a puzzle. I chose to do it. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I chose to do it.

Nattan Muck Foreman 8:53 AM  

Today's limerick:

This puzzle contains a name dropper
Like awful grids filled with names proper

When reading this blog
I need me some grog

When the fops come here telling a whopper

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

The theme answers made me laugh, and it was an enjoyable ride. Not even a basketball fan.

L 8:58 AM  

BALL HANDLER did not sit well with me at all. You can rationalize it, but it's condescending.

Unknown 9:03 AM  

Only easy-medium if you never watch much b-ball. Easiest theme ever.

DBlock 9:27 AM  

Given that runway model was clued with a ? And last 4 letters were LANE thought it was part of theme so only slow down in breeze through

Stupefyin Jones 9:29 AM  

Sally Field played Sybil in a made-for-TV movie. How is that for star-crossed clues. And the ball handler thing could go either way, I suppose, especially after the divorce as in Lucy had Desi by the....

Alicia Stetson 9:33 AM  

I wonder how many times a similar theme has been done? I wonder how many times Rex has used the phrase "non-theme" when it is patently incorrect, de facto and de jure? I wonder how many times Rex has used the phrase (in quotes) "best puzzle in the world." I guess originality is hard to come by.

Teedmn 9:42 AM  

I can't stand basketball but I thought the theme was fun and I had no trouble with any of the theme phrases. This felt like it was tough but it ended up being an average Sunday solve. I really liked the clue/answer pair at 42A. I was putting in Nixon as the only Quaker I knew but the X made it seem unlikely so seeing ASPEN finally made me laugh. And for some reason, WHEN as "A question of time" seemed quite clever.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE as clued took me aback somewhat especially after PTUI showed up. My favorite was NOTHING BUT NET.. I liked seeing BAIZE, which I dredged up from some long-buried place in my brain.

This was a TOTALly enjoyable Sunday puzzle, thanks, Timothy Polin.

Nancy 9:52 AM  

I loved this! For once, a much harder than usual Sunday, where, instead of dutifully and mindlessly filling in theme answers, I needed them -- sometimes desperately -- to solve. I'm looking at you, NOTHING BUT NET. And all I can say is: I am SO grateful for my basketball knowledge, honed in the glory years of Willis and Dave and Clyde and Earl the Pearl, I don't watch basketball any more (sorry, @Mathgent) because, somewhere along the line, the Knicks became a selfish, dumb team -- but the terminology has stayed with me. Thanks to fill like GIMBEL and TESSA, I might not have finished without it. So way within my wheelhouse today -- although I do extend my sympathy to you, @Hartley 70, and if you were close at hand, I'd offer you a stiff drink.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

The theme seemed stale. I can't name a specific puzzle where it has been used, but still... stale. And as someone who doesn't watch sports, I couldn't build any enthusiasm beyond the normal desire to fill in all the squares. Hated BALL HANDLER because of the cluing, not the phrase itself. I've get that Desi Arnaz 'handled' Lucille Ball's career (wonder what she would say about the clue.) Still, the clue tiptoed around misogyny on a technicality. A different clue would have improved things.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Perhaps it is also time to retire the Gabor sisters from the puzzle? I think their day has long since past and for younger puzzlers are likely only known as crosswordese.

RAD2626 10:09 AM  

Lucy's agent? Big dance arranger? Yarn spinner? All would work without much effort. While I was not offended by the clue as written, it was a little startling.

Thought the puzzle was fun, pretty easy in a Sundayish way, and not offended by theme at all. Bring on the tennis terms.

Wm. C. 10:10 AM  

I don't understand @Rex's problem with the Basketball theme at all -- it was OK by me, even though it took a couple fills for me to grok it. "All the entertainment was in the clueing." -- Huh???

Baize and gimbal were both familiar to me. On gimbal, my first engineering job out of college was on the Apollo space program, where my employer was the designer of the Guidance, Navigation, and Control systems, in which the inertial guidance platform rested inside a three-gimbal assembly. This system was closely patterned after the ones used in Ohio-class nuclear submarines and their Trident nuclear-tipped missiles, part of the "Deterrent Triad," of which Mr. Trump is reputedly ignorant.

On "Ball Handler," as discussed above, there are several interpretations of "Handler," all but the one with no PC objection. However, the one chastised by OFL does come quickly to mind, and is probably inappropriately placed here.

da kine 10:11 AM  

Broheim, calm down about the 'handler' thing. Not everyone is trying to oppress POCs, LGBTQx, and women at all times. I DARE SAY your reaction to a non-dog whistle use speaks more to your state of mind than that of the author.

On the other hand, I agree about BAIZE. We all know that started as MAIZE/MANS but Will Shortz figured every 13 years is the proper frequency for BAIZE, so in it went.

I thought the fill was alright. If you want to see the cleanest fill on a thick/stacked crossword puzzle, go check out the Sunday Daily Washington Post puzzle this week...not the weekly one by Evan Birnholz (although that's good), but the themeless one you find on Sundays. I don't know who the author is but he/she knocked it out of the park. The worst fill is TSE and that's about it. There is not another stinker in the entire puzzle.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I agree with everything Rex wrote, which is not typical. Bah humbug.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Best Sunday time ever (or at least since I switched to the NYT web site).

I'm as insensitive and non-PC as they come, but I even had a bit of a jaw-drop at the cluing for BALL HANDLER. As in, you really went there?

Agree with RP on BAIZE. That was well beyond my wheelhouse and tripped me up because I was not yet sold on NRA, and 'school edicts' was not falling neatly into place.

I enjoyed the theme, but it's getting to be March Madness time and who couldn't use that distraction?

Aketi 10:46 AM  

We went from NANS and HAVLA yesterday to TAPAS, SNAILS and MARSBARS today. Not terrible, but not quite achieving my DOUBLE DRIBBLE score for best food combos. Especially since Lewis's factoid about teethed snails Still makes me have recurrent nightmares about them eating me instead of the other way around.

@Chefwen, DITTO. Not sure the three LEOs from yesterday or any feline would appreciate being DECLAWed. As I understand the process it is akin to chopping off fingers at the first knuckle. Plus they often resort to biting to chmpensate for the loss of their claws so I'm not sure they are any less dangerous. I told my dh that he should EQUIP himself with my MMA shin guards when feeding Charlie since he has started swiping and biting my dh's legs if he dares to make me coffee before putting the cat food down first. Guess we will have to dig out the spray bottles again.

I liked the CHASM next to HELL.

Hartley70 10:47 AM  

Ho Hum...No one could care less about sports clues than I, and yet this was insufferably easy. If I have no trouble with a sports theme, save it for Monday.

I got a laugh reading Rex's lament because I only have two favorite answers today and they are BAIZE and GIMBAL. Yes, I have used both in conversation. You'd be wise to GIMBAL your stove on a sailboat unless you look forward to a trip to the ER, and textiles are a family business, so BAIZE is not obscure. "Maize" on the other hand.....not so much after the 2nd grade Thanksgiving feast. Around here we just call it corn on the cob.

Rabi Abonour 11:15 AM  

I don't mind these themes so much. They make for very easy (or very hard, depending on how well you know the topic) puzzles, but as long as the cluing is good they can be fun. But OH MAN did BALL HANDLER ruin this for me. I had enough crosses to know that was the answer and just thought "Oh no..."

Z 11:30 AM  

I think the sports theme really narrows the audience for this one. I enjoyed the wacky clues well enough, but I'm a sports and politics junkie (which also explains my love of beer). I have to imagine that if you aren't into sports that this puzzle is as much fun as watching Andre Drummond shoot 36 free throws in a game.

@David Krost - I really like the word "niggardly." It's a perfect word to describe, say, most of the pols who call themselves "Republicans" these days. I never use it, though, because it is too easily misunderstood. That's not being PC. That's just me choosing not to be thought of as an ass. Thoughtful people care not just about what they mean but also about how they will be understood.

@Glimmerglass - I was also giving those "?" the side eye. They didn't trip me up, but they gave me pause.

Quick PPP
34/140 24% without the themers
45/140 32% with the themers

Alison 11:30 AM  

Pretty joyless solving experience. I thought ball handler was funny, didn't crack a smile at any other themers

puzzle hoarder 11:49 AM  

This was a pretty typical Sunday. The solve time was a little long due to numerous write overs. The worst was DRIPPER/DRIBBLE. After that I was completely in tune with the theme and it was just single letter write overs like extend/expend.
There were also some entities I wasn't familiar with. ALECTO was the worst. Hey @Rex I prefer a warm glass of milk with my classical literature readings especially when they're in Latin.
This was not bad for a Sunday. The theme wasn't too painful and the fill took some work.

Joseph Michael 11:53 AM  

Not a big basketball fan, so this was more difficult for me and not all that much fun to solve. However, I didn't think it deserved Rex's rant.

old timer 12:02 PM  

Last week's Sunday was so great, and this week's so boring. Oh HELL! ALAS I would not spend a LOONIE for this week's paper.

A couple of years ago the B-Ball clues would have been lost on me. The amazing Steph Curry and his teammates have made me a fan this year. His three-pointer at the end of OT last night was a SHOT for the ages.

ArtO 12:05 PM  

Thought this deserved at least some love from OFL. I enjoyed the theme especially after watching the end of the Warriors-Thunder game last night during which one was treated to the amazing BALLHANDLER and NOTHINGBUTNET three point baskets by Stephan Curry, the most talented player in the NBA. Twelve 3 point shots made including the winning basket with just under one second left in overtime.

Pete 12:06 PM  

I did this last night with one on on the puzzle, one on the Warriors/Thunder game. Only one was engaging.

By all accounts, Lucille was the better businessperson of DesiLu, and never "handled".

ArtO 12:12 PM  

Of course, Curry's 3 point shot was a BUZZERBEATER!

Brums 12:18 PM  

"You in?" Phrase used in pickup basketball when the 42 year old has a Sprain and team is looking for a replacement from guys waiting to play. Often the answer is no because that player wants to run with his own team.

art mugalian 12:31 PM  

Not to mention borderline risqué.

RooMonster 12:59 PM  

Hey All !
Liked it from the view of 11 themers crammed in it. And not too much resulting dreck. Puz was mediumish, except the SE. Man, that section was tough! MAD clue deceptive, ALECTO a WOE, CHAD as clued, GOREN/TONY cross. Chichi= TONY? Huh?

DNF with newPLANE instead of plain old AIRPANR. Was never gonna get off new, with clue Runway model. As in, the latest model, the new one. Didn't know BAIZE, so for 12A, put in abcS, making the downs, anIZE, beDED, cwA. Hey, at least the squares were filled!


kozmikvoid 1:02 PM  

This puzzle sucked. I don't care whether the theme was good or clever. The amount of crappy crap in this puzzle overshadows any cute clue/answer combos that might exist. FOP/EXPEND, BAIZE/BANS and the worst offender of all, PTUI. That's enough crap to destroy any puzzle. I hate that I wasted my time doing this thing.

Can you tell I didn't enjoy it?

Robert Berardi 1:55 PM  

Thought I solved it; read all the across answers in the key, saw no mistakes & just for extra satisfaction read the downs. Then right at the end, I saw it: FOES. Admittedly, TOES didn't make much sense, but DETER sure did at the time...

Kimberly 1:58 PM  

Meh. Don't care about basketball. Filled this out during the hangover breakfast "morning after" party from a group reunion weekend. The distractions and mimosas both led to an uncommonly long solve time, but did nothing to improve the entertainment value of the puzzle. Were I not so ridiculously anal about this little linguistic hobby, I probably could have skipped this puzzle and missed nothing.

PS - ball handler?really? Step this way and I'll show you some ball handling, mister.

Dick Swart 2:04 PM  

I don't follow basketball so most of the terms were crosses for me. However, I understood their meaning.

Which is more than I can say for the Rex deconstruction of the puzzle and critique of the constructor's choices. A rant like this one must not be good for the system.

Doc Holiday 2:14 PM  

Terrible clue for SPRAIN. A SPRAIN is almost a dislocation?! Not even a little bit (although many dislocations have associated sprains). And Alicia, when Rex says something is a "non-theme" what he means is "I didn't like the theme." He should ad this to his glossary to clear up any confusion.

Unknown 2:28 PM  

Am the only person in the world who does not understand how ASPEN is a QUAKER OF NOTE

AliasZ 3:01 PM  

The puzzle's theme today was hoops,
Did you therefore dislike it? OOPS!
When they have a major quibble,
Droolers call it DOUBLE DRIBBLE.

"AQUILA non captat muscas."
"Translation, please?" you must ask us:
"An eagle never captures flies" --
Or: leave the small stuff where it lies.

In crosswords, smoked salmon is LOX,
Therefore let's rename it "gridLOX"
And quickly reset our SHOT CLOCKs.

Don't know what is a NO LOOK PASS?
Shut up, and sit upon your AS-

Aketi 3:11 PM  

@Doc Holiday, found that one out on Tuesday night thanks to an arm bar that briefly dislocated my elbow. I was lucky that the resulting SPRAIN was minor.

Engdraw 3:30 PM  

Rex: I'm getting ever more upset with you! Your tirade against "baize" was ridiculous. (I got it immediately, incidentally.) And my husband immediately provided "gimbal" for me. So, I guess you're just not educated enough. Thus, though I greatly appreciate being able to check you for answers each week, I'm getting fed up with your complaining. Just solve the puzzle and let the rest of us enjoy it (or not).

Z 3:56 PM  

@Kimberly - You are quickly becoming one of my favorite commenters.

Regarding Mr. Curry's incredible game winner last night, my favorite observation was, "if the dude can make it from the parking lot you better start guarding him when he opens the car door." @ArtO - Curry actually shot it with 2.5 seconds left, it took almost two seconds to make it to the basket.

@LMS - apropos of nothing, I just saw a bumper sticker I want (or maybe on a coffe mug or pint glass), "I am silently correcting your grammar."

@Sunday Only Solvers - PPP is short for,"Pop culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns." I've been tracking these for a couple of weeks following a heated discussion one Saturday. It appears that up to 25% rarely causes much complaint, but at 33% of the puzzle it becomes problematic for a significant portion of solvers (although who may differ depending on the type of PPP answers).

Leapfinger 4:11 PM  

I DARE SAY it's only recently that I've learned it's a construcioneering feat to have vertical themers crossing multiple horizontal themers, but I noticed we have that twice today. So there's that in the Plus Column. BUZZER_BEATER was a fun opener, and the FIELD_GOAL clue was clever enough to sidetrack my thinking into unions striking. Don't have to broadcast how I filled in the second half of the Lucy entry, but it fits CBers more than cagers. Time was I was badly bitten by the roundball bug: in the early rounds, I'd watch games starting at 11p and 1am as the March Madness moved West; some teams I'd never even heard of. Not as much lately, esp since a lot of Orange and Green now taint the ACC's traditional Blue.

Liked getting two chances to see what would sieges do, and enjoyed PTUI, better known to Pogo fans as "Ptooey!". The good news for all bipeds doing the NYT xwp is that fairly seldom is a SPRAIN almost a dislocation. Unless you're talking shoulders, of course, and at least some of those will pop back in as easily as they popped out. WASAT? You doubt this? Fine, just better you look it up than try a DIY test at home.

'ALLO, CATE? Glad I found you at home. I knew GIMBAL and BAIZE but never did figure out why a door would be covered with it. Wouldn't it tear when it opened on CUE?

As you see, no E-QUIP today.

On to Monday.

Unknown 4:23 PM  

Hmmm. A good dose of PC-itis amongst the commentariet re BALL HANDELR. When I got the answer, my first thought was “Lucy handler” in the context of the show which I watched first run. Her character sure needed to be “handled” at times with her outrageous schemes and other antics. Her character was a certainly a “handful.” The “gender” factor just did not cross my mind. To name two males: Archie Bunker comes to mind as another character that had to be “handled” by Edith for similar comedic reasons having nothing to do with gender. So too was Rob Petry by Laura. Also Semantha had to “handle” Darrin (in a bewitching [har] way) and vice the versa.

However, BALL was her real life name, not her character Lucy, so not at all an optimal clue if the above, relatively benign “take,” was the intent. Handler, as seen from the business perspective? I’ve no clue who handled whom. Certainly from a “marital” perspective it’s not a very “appropriate” description.

The “O” in AZO / TONY was my DNF, AIDED by a letter-check for each vowel to finally get the “O”.

While it’s more or less legit as many people do use it, the audio pros I know all use “mic” instead of “mike.” That “k” is just weird to be in an abbreviation for “mic”rophone. I played in a 4 piece where two of the musicians were named “Mike.” This made for several confusing moments between them and the “mics” we used.

72a Trackpad alternative? In my world a track (touch) pad is the alternative to the mouse and then only in sheer desperation. Just don’t like them….at all!

It won’t be long before we hear the haunting calls of the LOON(IE)S hereabouts. I did hear some of the sound bites of some LOON(IE)S from a certain debate the other night. Let's see who can shout the loudest. From @yesterday, seemed like "Child's play."

Liked this puzzle a lot! A good challenge with a fun theme. Not a big B-ball fan, but certainly enough of one (primarily the last rounds of the NCAAs), to easily know all the theme answers.


Z 4:31 PM  

@Stavros Maltezos - Probably not. I was vaguely aware of them, but don't ask me why or where they grow or what they look like. That's why we have Wikipedia.

Meg Greer 5:26 PM  

I always print the puzzle before I go to bed on Saturday night because copier paper is easier to write on with a pencil than the Magazine stock. And I 'm too cheap to subscribe online, since my spouse insists on the Sunday paper. Annoyingly, the Times has been accidentally (?) providing the answers on a second printed page lately, so I peeked and got declaw and apnea, both of which ring a recent bell, no? Next solve was double dribble and I was off to the races. I knew baize but in the context of a pool table. Overall easy peasy.

Nancy 6:03 PM  

@Hartley -- It seems I didn't give you nearly enough credit, basketball-wise. But then, who knew you would be one of the 15 people in the country to know both GIMBAL and BAIZE.

@Aketi -- Hope your SPRAIN heals soon. It would seem that between the arm bar -- whatever that is -- and your exceedingly willful cat, you have had an extremely dangerous week.

Re: BALL HANDLER clue -- Oh, lighten up everyone, will you? Please?

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

Easy, except for the extreme northeast corner. Cluing on 21-A was, I thought, misleading. I could see - - - PLANE but thought it must be some kind of basketball lane.

I can't understand the relationship between the clue for 14-D and the answer (NRA). Would someone clarify it for me?

kitshef 7:05 PM  

I feel for you, @Glimmerglass. One of my 'things' is if all your themers are clued with a question-mark, then ONLY the themers should be clued with a question-mark. The beginning of that xxxxLANE was the dreaded, unheard-of BAIZE, the third letter the oddly-clued NRA (corps?) and the fourth letter I Schrodingered as SPRAIN/StRAIN. Wondered if there was something in international rules called a shotLANE or tripLANE.

And yes, the Lucy/Desi clue is discomforting.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

I agree with many of Rex's comments, but baize and fop came easily for me and easier than the actress from"Creed" for instance. Perhaps a matter of age and attitude. I enjoy learning new words and appreciate those which have not appeared in years in a puzzle. Since when is at frequency or "recentness" a requirement or even desirable? There're are countless pop culture defenses in puzzles that have not appeared previously. Just sayin'.

Mohair Sam 7:29 PM  

Lady Mohair did the puzzle alone today so I'm not qualified to comment. She asked me to let @Rex know that he's wrong about the theme. She's a non-hoops nut, but had a grand time with it.

She does know all the basketball terms from listening to me curse about the Sixers for the last several years. On that score @Nancy you have no idea what suffering is (you left Bill Bradley off your list, btw, what is wrong with you?!?!).

@Rex - Thanks for your input on BAIZE, it's what keeps me coming here - this non-constructor never sees stuff like that.

I love watching Steph Curry play, and Michael is stuff of legend. But Wilt was the best ever IMHO, also in Larry Bird's HO. Look at the record books, the Stilt still holds a zillion. And he played before they counted block shots. The NBA record for blocked shots is 11. In an interview with Sonny Hill a center named Bob Lanier said he once replayed a kinescope of a partiular Pistons/Lakers game he played in just to check Wilt's blocks in that game, he remembered a ton. He counted 22.

Syracusan Danny Biasone invented the SHOTCLOCK, everybody should know that.

Mohair Sam 7:31 PM  

Did I mention that they didn't start counting blocked shots until after Chamberlain retired? Probably not. But at this hour it's only me and you Rex.

Jon88 7:44 PM  

"But ALECTO is the spelling in the wikipedia entry, so it's legit." Also Random House Unabridged, Chambers, Oxford, and every other source I checked (some of them allow ALLECTO as an alternate spelling).

jberg 8:00 PM  

I, too, took BALL HANDLER as referring to Desi and Lucy's respective characters in "I Love Lucy," even though it used the real names of the actors. Given recent news -- widely reported here in Boston, at least -- it could also have been clued "Whitey Bulger." (Although my reaction to the news was 'how else are you going to kill time in prison?')

I knew GIMBAL, and sort of knew BeIZE, sot that was OK. There were a lot of simple words, but I guess that was the price of the interlocking themes.

But you basket ball themes -- when I am eating in a bar that has a game on TV, it always seems to me that they DOUBLE DRIBBLE (and travel) all the time. Have the rules changed? Or am I just losing my visual acuity?

jberg 8:01 PM  

As for ALECTO, I had to get it from crosses. For some reason, I knew the Fates, but had no idea what the Furies were named.

Unknown 8:33 PM  

A fun is an"piece" in old time gangster slang.

OISK 8:38 PM  

Enjoyed this, despite never having heard of Baize. I actually thought that "airplane" was a theme clue as well. Some type of arching shot, perhaps?

Sir Hillary 9:33 PM  

Fun puzzle and great theme density, but this grid absolutely, positively cannot have PRESS in it. Simple change from LIMP to LILT or LINT.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

Isn't there a principle that solutions should not be related etymologically to the word in the clue? Aquila and eagle, and lion and leo, were to me errors in editing.

Baron 1:05 AM  

Alecto, of course comes from the Greek:Ἀληκτώ

Clearly only one 'λ'.

Those Romans clearly have no respect for the languages from which they borrow!

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

@jberg (8:01p), that amuses.


Leapfinger 8:26 AM  

"Where did the Sherwin-Williams factory worker fall to his untimely demise?"

Mutely, a co-worker POINTS IN THE PAINT.

(I know some readers won't appreciate vat is the joke here.)

Tita 12:43 PM  

I have GIMBAL-mounted candle sconces, and friends with bigger sailboats then mine have GIMBAL-mounted everything. Not to mention my astronaut friends...
@WmC...did you know a woman who worked on the debugging/error-mining software on Apollo? (2 lamb days in Greek, btw...where is Ogden Nash when you need him?)

I liked clue for NOTHINGBUTNET. But, the theme was a huge disappointment, and actually made the puzzle hard for me, since most of those terms are spite of flirting with basketball in my high school years...I needed something to fill the void after baseball season ended. Have I ever mentioned that my facility with baseball clues is thanks to my erstwhile obsession with the Yankees during my adolescence?

Missed opportunity at 10D for mirroring palindromic girl's name for EVE. Too trite?

@ChuckM...trackpad offers me the option of alternating between my right and left hands, helping avoid carpal tunnel. And for my mom, she uses the mouse to point, but the trackpad button to click, as her moderate shakes make it impossible to click via the mouse.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Thanks to Stavros Maltezos for the explanation of 14-D. The only NRA I could think of was the National Recovery Administration of 1933, an agency of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

I work in state and local tax and I have spent the better part of my career discussing the differences between the word "apportion" and the word "allocate." To see one clued for the other almost brought me to tears.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Not sure if anyone else caught it, but the thing people use at karaoke is a "mic." Mike is the guy singing Springsteen into the mic.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

Feeling bad about the Desi clue? He was her manager, I think that's what was implied. Not, heaven forbid, groper.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

Anonymous 6:02

Piece is a term for gun.

spacecraft 12:03 PM  

He groped at some point; they did have a kid. Oh gosh, Fearless One, you're SO sensitive! As a clue for BALLHANDLER, I thought it was hilarious. Lucy would've loved it. I say again: take a pill. You are WAY too serious.

In fact, I thought ALL the theme clues were boffo; it made solving fun. The point OFL makes is not lost; this is just a list of basketball terms. But if the end result is solver fun, why focus on the negative? As Donald Sutherland said in "Kelly's Heroes," "Always with the negative vibes, man."

I wound up in the SW, where I nearly lost it with the natick at AZ_/T_NY. I have no idea what chichi is if you're not talking about golfer Rodriguez, and that dye? Forget it. Obviously we have a vowel, but which one? I literally went "Eeny meeny miney mo; okay, O." And could someone please tell me how "Whacked" comes out MAD???

So, finished, with a little bit of luck. Overall medium; pretty clean fill. IDARESAY, B.

Burma Shave 1:11 PM  


With such an OLDPRO BALLHANDLER, I have no quibble
OOPS! The LIMP AROSE, is it LEGAL what we’re DEW in?
It’s NOTSOBAD what she WONTDO after asking YOUIN.


rondo 1:43 PM  

Well I sure liked it more than OFL did. Sure the clues could have been spicier, but this sure beats jamming three or more letters into one square. Besides, I played competitive basketball past age 50, so a hoops theme is just fine for me.

And, we make up for yesterday’s drought with a flood of yeah babies. Let me NAMEDROP starting with famous xword favorite LONI, who must have nearly killed Burt. Then MARLO who is still in there pitching for St. Jude; really pretty, but never sexy. More current is yeah baby TESSA Thompson, as Mick and the boys would say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah – whoooooo!” And my memory isn’t good enough to recall if MAGDA was as glamorous as her sisters. Kinda before my time.

If you’re not a hoops fan, I suppose this puz was tiresome. For me, on a Sunday, it filled the gap, or CHASM.

rain forest 1:48 PM  

Back in the day I used to watch a lot of NBA basketball, but I just find it boring now. Nothing but three-point attempts, uncalled violations, slam dunks (honestly, is there anything as ridiculous), too many timeouts, and lack of actual teamwork.

Having said that, I knew all the terms, and enjoyed the puzzle. BAIZE went right in, and there is nothing wrong with that word. Why would someone who complains about overused words find fault with one that appears every 13 years? Plus, it's a real thing.

GIMBAL, too, is a real thing, and a nifty word, to boot.

If you are one of those who find joy in getting upset about possible PC infractions, then meet BALL HANDLER. Otherwise, as with me, didn't see it.

leftcoastTAM 4:23 PM  

I liked the basketball terms and that they appeared in both acrosses and downs, making the puzzle mostly easy, though the FASTBREAK was a little slow in coming.

(I try not to miss seeing the WARRIORS play on TV; Curry is an extraterrestrial, I think.)

I was slowed down further in the NE by the BAIZE, AIDED, NRA clump, which was good one, especially the NRA as "piece corps."

Is "reclined" in the proper tense as the clue for LAIN?

Other than that, it was just a matter of filling it all in, kind of a slog, which Sundays often enough are.

AnonymousPVX 4:35 PM  

I use it all the time, "Hey, you're acting like an AZO"

AnonymousPVX 4:41 PM  

I didn't hate this as many others appear to. I have no problem with "handler". PC or not, I just don't see the issue. Sometimes it seems folks look for issues. Let's solve the ones we have before we start actually looking for new ones.

rondo 5:38 PM  

BTW - diAZO combined with ammonia is what makes blueprints blue. Of course actual blueprints are nearly, if not completely dead.
And I knew GIMBAL, but started out (channeling western swing master Johnny)with GIMBle, before GIMBeL, before correct.
Back in the Maleska days, ANA used to be clued yeah baby "actress Alicia" who was on Falcon Crest or one of those like it.

rain forest 6:03 PM  

@Spacey - I took 'whacked' to be sort of like 'whacko'.

@Burma - three thumbs up.

@Rondo - competitive basketball after 50! You never fail to impress.

Cathy 8:36 PM  

Not a basketball fan but still had fun. I thought a BUZZER BEATER was someone who takes away your drink when ya ain't dun yet. Don't be messin with my DOUBLE DRIppLE.

Loved BALL HANDLER. Thought it was funny. Hey, what can I say? Yay syndiland! Wouldn't a POWWOW be funny! @Rondo in his kayak, though I may need a NO LOOK PASS:) @Diana LIW flying around in her delorean full of nova LOX. Oh I could go on, but please feel free to chime in. Maybe OFL will be there. Loved his picture with his dogs. So flipping cute! They can HOWLs all they want as long as the cats are not DECLAWED.

@DianaLIW- Did Mr. Waiting answer PIANO for 44D softly.

Diana,LIW 9:01 PM  

Tried to post this earlier, but didn't get the "you comment has been saved" notice. Sorry if it's a repeat. Here goes:

Not a b-ball follower, but Mr. Waiting has explained all these terms to me. And like @Lewis, I enjoyed being able to fill in the themers with only one or two letters. Made me purr. (Unlike DECLAWing, which made me grrr.)

Had AIRPLANE as one of my first answers, so didn't know the theme at that point.

When I saw Lucy's clue I knew there would be words. Many words.

Had Raitt in for the Quaker for the longest time - either Bonnie or John are "of note."

Learned BAIZE and GIMBAL.

Off to a TAPAS dinner of bites and wine at a local fund raiser.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Cathy 10:06 PM  

RIP Nancy Reagan.

Wilbur Charles 6:43 PM  

Still waiting for the answer to ASPEN/Quaker. Agree. That's what Desi did, my son HOWLED at her antics. So someone wants to talk blocked shots and mentions Wilt ahead of Bill Russell?

Z 8:31 PM  

@Wilbur Charles - Click on the link in my 4:31pm post (nearly half way up) and all will become clear.

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