Commemorative Yevtushenko poem / SUN 2-14-16 / Kirk Douglas Robert Wagner Gregory Peck for Frank Sinatra / Renders harmless as bull / Spectacularly disordered sort / Soldier from down under / Hit song title for Bob Marley Whitesnake Survivor / 1951 #1 Mario lanza hit / Foreign currency unit worth about third of dollar

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "All You Need" — LOVE rebus; you know ... for VALENTINE'S DAY (31A: Romantic date)

The "Love" Songs:
  • LOVE ME DO (1A: The Beatles' first single, 1962)
  • BE MY LOVE (?) (14A: 1951 #1 Mario Lanza hit with lyrics written by SAMMY CAHN)
  • CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT? (61A: 1994 Oscar- and Grammy-winning song for Elton John)
  • IS THIS LOVE? (75A: Hit song title for Bob Marley, Whitesnake and Survivor)
  • LOVE LETTER (78A: 2010 R. Kelly top 10 album) (wait, what? "album"?) [buzzer!]
  • LOVE TAKES TIME (86A: 1990 #1 hit for Mariah Carey)
  • TO SIR, WITH LOVE (93A: 1967 #1 hit for Lulu)
Word of the Day: Hank IBA (96D: Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hank) —
Henry Payne "Hank" Iba (/ˈbə/; August 6, 1904 – January 15, 1993) was an American hall-of-fame basketball coach, winner of two NCAA Men's Division I basketball championships and two Olympic gold medals. (wikipedia)
• • •

I cannot feel the love tonight. Nevermind that that is not only The Worst Elton John song, but one of the worst (allegedly) popular songs ever written—I mean, unbearable. That's not the real issue. I mean, it's an issue, it really is, but it's not the main one. First, there's the fact that the theme is pretty trite and obvious. Also (not surprisingly) it's been done. And recently. Valentine grid shape *and* LOVE rebus, both, right here (one year ago today, in a puzzle by current WaPo crossword puzzle constructor Evan Birnholz). There's no real trick here, no great revealer or twist or anything. At least in the Birnholz version of this theme, there was a revealer ("MAKE A LITTLE LOVE") which tied into the whole rebus concept (you make "LOVE" little, so it can fit in the box). Here, just ... LOVE songs. Kind of yawn. Wore, though, was the fill, which was startlingly rough. I have come to expect pretty smooth work from this constructor, but that was not on display today. REPOT, REUNE, RESAND (!?). CMD MIDEAR DEHORNS ONE (bleeping) LIRA??? Somebody named IBA? TATTOOERS? I mean, TATTOO ARTISTS is obviously the correct phrase, but even TATOOISTS googles better than TATTOOERS. BARIC? UNAPT? Multiple ERTES? There were just groany answer after groany answer. So what we have here is a basic rebus with dated LOVE songs and weak fill. And a SILENT U. OK, Cupid. Whatever you say.

BABI YAR? Sorry, I said I was done, and I'm still going. ILIA! OK, I'll leave you to enjoy this puzzle, or not, as you see fit. OMICRON is a Greek "O," and the first letter in (i.e. the "head of") "Olympus" (Όλυμπος), so that explains that, I hope (84D: Head of Olympus?). I don't think anything else needs explanation. I did love HOT MESS (85D: Spectacularly disordered sort), but it sadly ended up being a not UNAPT descriptor for the puzzle as a whole.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kozmikvoid 12:35 AM  

Yeah, not much to add. It was a blah-di-dah puzzle. The only really interesting about it was that I finished at my exact average time for Sunday, right down to the second. So it had that going for it. But otherwise, meh. I'd like to see what other commenters found pleasurable about this one.

And for those of you on the edge of your seat with excitement, the answer to yesterday's riddle is "I'll tell you tomorrow."

jae 12:43 AM  

Medium for me too. Liked it better than Rex did, but he makes some valid points.

chefwen 1:26 AM  

Geez Rex, you should have jazzed it up by drawing little red hearts in the LOVE boxes like I did. Showed the finished product to my husband and was rewarded with an eye roll and a grunt. Some people just don't appreciate the fun things in life. Oh Well!

I enjoyed the LOVE downs also, especially TOUGH LOVE, that one took a while. LOVE TRIANGLE and LOVE NESTS were cute too.

LOVEd this as much as Rex hated it.

'mericans in Paris 2:49 AM  

Happy VALENTINE’S DAY, everybody!

GEE O GEE, I can’t say we LOVEd this puzzle either, but we admired the effort that Mary Lou Guizzo took to construct it in a grid with heart (even if it has been done before). LET INLET live? Honi soit qui MAL y pense?

We started in the NW corner, figured out the “LOVE” trick early, and ZOOMed through the whole northern tier quickly. We then slowed down quite a bit, especially in the west. Almost turned into a BINGE session mid-afternoon. DNF, because of a personal Natick. Living in France, we aren’t familiar with TCM, and were never likely to have heard of SAMMY CAHN nor known how to finish amor vincit ___. (I know: DEAL WITH IT.)


Common before CAREER
sTar roles before LOVE TRIANGLE

Cluing grumbles:

DEHORNing a bull only makes him less dangerous; it does not make him harmless.
Couldn’t MLG or Will Shortz come up with a more challenging clue for ESE than “Reverse of WSW”, like “Natick to Dedham direction”?

Nice to see U PENN, which is where my wife and I met.

And, in case anybody was wondering, the ONE LIRA in 104A is the Turkish version, not the Italian (which disappeared when Italy adopted the euro).

Highly variable weather ICI in Paris. ADIOS, amigos!

Alby 2:51 AM  

After the symmetry of the rest of the LOVEs, not sure why the constructor chose a conspicuously off-center LOVE for the long theme answer. ONELIRA is pushing it. ORS seems like it would have been a better fit for the ERS clue. Strange that there'd be two unrelated Roald Amundsen clues in one puzzle, but hey -- the guy was a badass, so let it ride.

Unknown 3:10 AM  

I wanted to like this one. I really did. I smiled upon seeing the shape, and I smiled upon getting "LOVE ME DO." I liked DEAL WITH IT.

It was a DNF for me. There were several spots that came close to doing me in. I figured out the R at BARIC/ERAT. I took an educated guess with ILIA and its crossing of PELEE and ROALD. I figured out the AL in ALUM, crossed by ANZAC and BOOLA. I got the A in NAVARRE/IBA because my mind recalled ... "The Guns of Navarone." Navarone, a fictional Greek island, has has nothing to do with Navarre, so I got lucky. I didn't know KEL, and I stared at ONE LIRA for a long while, not quite believing that answer.

But it was the east that did me in. I had a lot of it, but I was unsure of a lot of answers and couldn't get anything solid. I had CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT, AGASSI and STARES AT. I had LOVE LETTER (but wasn't sure about it). I experimented with DIVE instead of PLOP, and NUTS and DAFT instead of LOCO. I had no idea on ICI. I had REUNE in place, but didn't feel good about it. My fatal error was having WANTED instead of CAREER (___ criminal). (If only I had known Women's Army Corps.) Anyway, I had enough errors around that I was never able to pull REPLICATE and EULOGISTS. That second answer was driving me crazy.

The funny thing about this is that, looking back at the grid, I kinda like that eastern section (except for REUNE and ICI). EULOGISTS might be the best clue/answer in the grid (Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner and Gregory Peck, for Frank Sinatra). I just researched BABI YAR, and while it's sad reading, I appreciate learning about it.

Charles in Austin 4:19 AM  

I found this puzzle, with its symmetrical placement of LOVES (all but one), a pleasure to solve and admire afterwards.

BABI YAR is to know. It's the subject of Shostakovich's wonderful 13th symphony, by the way.

Ellen S 4:20 AM  

It seemed to me that though the themers were all about romantic songs, a lot of the fill was hostile or even violent: SHUN, ADIOS, ABASED, UNAPT, NO MAS, OGLED, SAID NO, TIRADE, ENRAGE -- even or maybe especially BABI YAR.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:32 AM  

Ah, Valentine's Day, and love all around! Except among the Crossword Commentariat (Rex isn't the only one - check out Diary of a Crossword Fiend for another generous helping of opprobrium.)

I am just smitten by the sentiment of the day, lulled by the scent of roses and intoxicated by chocolate, willing to accept a grid full of LOVE, even in rebus form.*

I will admit to two minor points of dismay:

Finding the rebus in the absolute first, most northwesterly square (1A/1D), eliminated any possible suspense as to the gimmick of the day.

And 81 A, "Basic ones range from 8 to 14," for PHS, is barely defensible. A more accurate clue would be, "Basic ones are above 7." A pH 7.0 is considered neutral; anything lower is acidic, anything higher is basic. And if Wikipedia is to be believed, it is possible to have a pH higher than 14. Therefore, readings on the pH scale from 8 to 14 are indeed basic, but it is wrong to call that the "range."

*Actually, I will spend the day in my usual solitary state, hoping the furnace keeps working in today's zero degree weather, subsisting on my usual diet of oatmeal and water.

Loren Muse Smith 6:43 AM  

I knew I was supposed to hate the song "We Built This City," but I was unaware that CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT is also bad. Duly noted.

There are only two non-NYT puzzles I consistently take the time to solve every week: BEQ Mondays (Hey, Brendan – I'll hit you up at the ACPT) and the Saturday Stumper (that I finished yesterday. Take that, Frank!) So I was unaware of Evan's puzzle.

I just did a quick look-see at Xword Info and couldn't find a grid with a heart picture. I know, I know – you can't prove a platypus doesn't lay eggs by taking pictures of a platypus not laying eggs… but still, if one has been done, I don't remember it.

So Rex, you said, "There's no real trick here, no great revealer or twist or anything." I dunno; anytime I sniff out a rebus, it feels like a twist, a revealer as it were, and it never fails to please me. In some ways, this is discovering one of the trickiest of twists. You also said, "Here, just ... LOVE songs." I've read and reread that part and don't understand. What about TOUGH LOVE, LOVE NESTS, IN LOVE, LOVE, ACTUALLY, LOVE SET, LOVE BUG, LOVE TRIANGLE?

Besides, the "it's been done" argument doesn't speak to me. Just because I've had sole amandine doesn't mean I don't order it every single time it's on the menu. Anywhere, any time.

So… the picture of a heart on Valentine's Day, nine rebus squares containing LOVE (eight symmetrical, one not symmetrical, two unchecked – cool) VALENTINE'S DAY right above the heart… and HOT MESS, DEAL WITH IT, FELT TIP, SILENT U, amor vincit OMNIA… I thought this puzzle was fine.

I would have found the rebus even more fun if the LOVE had been further disguised in places, like in, say, CLOVER LEAF, PULL OVER or PALO VERDE, but fair enough to keep LOVE'S meaning intact everywhere. That's the point today, right?

The three true woes for me (ANZAC, PELEE, and BABIYAR) all went right in thanks to the fair crosses.

Other goofs:

"U Conn" for U PENN
"lace" off the above "c," thinking shoelace, even knowing it had to be wrong
"ivory" for CREAM
"inapt" for UNAPT
"spat" for SPAR
"arro" for AERO. Sheesh. Sorry, Steven. I erased it immediately
"ors" for ERS
"prenatal" for NEONATAL
"delima" (sic) for ENIGMA. The misspelling doesn't stand out in the grid. Much.
" _ sharps" for OCTAVES

Mary Lou – thanks for this LOVE-filled puzzle.

pmdm 6:55 AM  

Yes, the theme has been done before and will be inevitably be done again. That's a non-issue, especially with a holiday themed puzzle.

Even though I initially blanked on !A, I knew the song title had more letters than the grid allowed, so from the very start of the puzzle I knew the grid contained rebus squares. Eventually I remembered the name of the song. The only other song I knew was "To Sir with Love" but I was able to fill in all the other song titles after filling in the crosses I knew. That greatly increased the enjoyment of solving the puzzle for me.

Using symmetry to place the rebus squares makes solving a puzzle much easier once you realize the puzzle contains rebuses. So I thought having one non-symmetrical rebus was a nice touch.

I admit my taste in popular music is somewhat narrow and mostly centered within the period when groups like The Doors and The Nice (later Emerson Lake and Palmer) were in their heyday. Most of the contemporary songs included in puzzles nowadays irritate me for a number of reasons. (Even the Beatles' song included in today's puzzle is not one of their masterpieces in my opinion.) As long as the name of the song is obtainable from the crosses is all I ask for in an enjoyable puzzle. On that count, today's puzzle worked for me.

Personally, I would have preferred "Love Is But a Many Splendored Thing" had replaced the Elton John entry. Not because of my opinion of the songs, but because I love the title.

One thing I would surely support is the banishment of such entries as SILENTP or HARDG. They irritate me a great deal for some reason.

Some holidays today seem to have more relevance as economic stimuli than their original purpose. To those for whom the original intent of today is important, I wish a happy Saint Valentine's Day.

Lewis 7:02 AM  

@M&A -- Do silent U's count as U's?

HOTMESS is a terrific answer. I almost guessed at the cross of ANZAC/NOMAS until I remembered Roberto Duran's famous "no mas". Every time I look at the answer ENOCH my brain chimes in with "Enoch is Enoch!" My brain also wants DEHORNS to mean "taking away the libido", very unvalentinish.

The Libra in me does not like that one asymmetrical love rebus square, so this puzzle is giving me a lesson in acceptance: Instead of wanting the puzzle to have a heart, I am trying to accept that there is no love lost.

chefbea 7:15 AM  

Saw the heart right away when I printed out the puzzle. Lots of fun!!@Rex..shouldn't you have included the other LOVE answers??? All the downs that use the love at the end or love, tough love etc???

And of course I loved having beets for valentines day...they of course are RED!!!

Happy Valentine's day all...don't eat too much chocolate

smalltowndoc 7:38 AM  

Even a first year medical student knows "symptoms" is not a synonym for SIGNS. The former are what the patient complains of; the latter are what the doctor finds on examination.

The theme was not a challenge at all. A long time Beatles fan, I caught on at 1A.

George Barany 7:41 AM  

Hmmmm, @Rex doesn't seem to have a lot of love for @Mary Lou Guizzo's holiday-themed rebus, which (hard to believe) represents the first time VALENTINES_DAY has graced a New York Times crossword puzzle.

Oh well, maybe you'll enjoy All You Need is Love by my friend @Charles Deber. Instead of black squares, a holiday heart is traced by a series of circles, which contain a surprise message that is sure to delight.

Glimmerglass 8:06 AM  

There is a lot to complain about with this puzzle, but to gripe because you don't like the SONG!!! C'mon, man. Stick to the point.

Mohair Sam 8:09 AM  

One of the reasons I read @Rex faithfully is that he and I have almost nothing in common, it's good to see the world through different eyes. I guess maybe we both like baseball.

Today I discovered another piece of common ground. "CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT" is a channel changing, fast-forward Pandoraing, reason-I-don't-own-a-best-of-Elton-John-CD song. But Rex put it better.

Very much agree with OFL's take on this one, except for his rating. Played easy here, we polished it off over dinner last night. Every one of the song titles was well known (at least to us) starting with LOVE ME DO - so off we went. Theme density was enough to have the puzzle fairly filled with just the songs and answers off "LOVE" rebus.

Mrs. Mohair and I may be the only two people on earth who didn't enjoy "LOVE ACTUALLY". Tremendous acting, horrid writing.

GILL I. 8:19 AM  

I rather enjoyed the puzzle. Like @chefwen, I drew my little hearts in all the little spaces and it made me smile. I had my first date with my now husband on VALENTINES DAY over 30 years ago. He lived in London and commuted to work in Los Angeles so we sent LOVE LETTERs to each other. We both are ART LOVERS and agree that CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT sucks... so we were a match made in OMICRON.
@Ellen S.....I know! those were groany answers weren't they? especially BABIYAR.
I'm also with @Loren in having no qualms about repeating themes and eating sole amandine. I also think Mary Lou and Liz should get together and draw up a storm of a crossword.
TONIGHT my LOVE BUG and I will be celebrating by not doing one single thing other than picking up the phone and ordering some Thai.
Hope all of yours is just as good....

Loren Muse Smith 8:23 AM  

Ok – I see it now – only the across answers are considered themers. I was thinking any answer with a LOVE rebus was a themer. Fair enough. I post this before multiple people point this out to me!

RAD2626 8:33 AM  

Three early mistakes slowed me down: TATTerERS; Common (Criminal) and duPLICATE even though I thought REUNE belonged. Like the down loves more than the songs but imo not liking a song does not disqualify it from being an answer. Otherwise you could DQ a lot of titles. In fact, after the Beatles, I would ban all of today's titles forever. I thought it was odd that all the LOVES were symmetrically placed except for Elton John.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

The human heart is off-center as well.

AliasZ 8:56 AM  

LOVE is a many-splendored thing, but you can't hurry it, no, you just have to wait.

I liked, of not exactly LOVEd, this puzzle. I expected a more classic approach to LOVE, something like "Love's Labour's Lost" etc. There are so many widely-known examples. I got the rebus at BE MY LOVE from the B from the Shostakovich symphony composed to Yevtushenko's BABI YAR, and the M of MINH. I correctly assumed symmetry, from where the rest came easily.

I liked the off-center LOVE square inside the heart, to my eyes it was placed near the heart's heart. I also considered the clue for OMNIA as part of the theme. Clever! Also, one can HARBOR secret feelings that may be hatred just as easily as LOVE.

Yes, there were many RE-words today, to which I would add RE-TURNS, (one turns the mattress every so often, then a few months later RE-TURNS it). That reminds me, I have to RESAND my hourglass -- some of it leaked out. Many TO's as well: AMOUNTS TO, WAVE TO, NEED TO, not TO mention TO SIR WITH LOVE.

UNAPT and BARIC are SRSLY rough, although BOOLA, ERTES and PHS came darned close. Otherwise the fill had some sparkle with a HOT MESS, DEAL WITH IT, GETS AROUND, OMICRON, and the clue for EULOGISTS.

What's not to LOVE? Three oranges.


Anoey Bragger 9:03 AM  

As an inveterate curmudgeon and detester of Valentine's day, I dreaded opening today's puzzle. And I wasn't (or rather, was) disappointed. After being slapped in the face with a heart, the theme was composed, as it were, of treacly doggerel set to bathetic music. I couldn't even finish this banal offering from the NYTimes.

F.O.G. 9:10 AM  

This puzzle was not very enjoyable. There were some high moments -- as with the cluing for EULOGISTS and ART LOVERS -- but such moments were few and far between for me.

Did the constructor intend CREAM, STREAM and DEHORNS as a subliminal message on VALENTINE'S DAY? Or perhaps this is a mere figment of my UNAPT and prurient imagination.

Aketi 9:12 AM  

@swallowndoc 7:38 am, ditto on both comments.

Got UPENN merely because my son visited and rejected it as a college option, I was INLOVE with their no loan financial aid policy.

My fave was LOVEBUG

I liked OGLES crossing TEASER and HOTMESS. And I suppose if the HOTMESS TEASER SAID NO, it could lead tthe OGLEr to become ENRAGEd and vice versa if the no wasn't respected. And in this case, one might legitimately ask "What's LOVE got to do with it? (@Rex, that anti LOVE SONG that popped into my head as a potential tribute to your TIRADE.)

There are even some who question LOVE itself as it is merely biologically programmed into us so we can REPLICATE. LOVE at Goon Park was a great read about how Harlowe refuting claims that Mother LOVE didn't exist or even worse, was dangerous. NEONATES need all the LOVE and attention they can get. Sadly, even in this new millennium I still see a fair number of parents who have read books that dogmatically insist on applying TOUGH LOVE from birth. One can LOVE a child without becoming either a dictator or a helicopter.

Dorothy Biggs 9:17 AM  

@Charles in Austin: The Shostakovich is indeed an amazing piece. Nothing like a bunch of Russian men singing in Russian with a Russian bass soloist with lots of brass. Whenever I listen to it I want to take my shirt off and lift heavy objects. There is a great recording of Yevtushenko reading the poem before some recording of the symphony. Haunting as hell. I could have sworn it was "Baba Yar" though...

Too bad Jim Croce's "I'll have to say I love you in a song" doesn't fit. A lot better than Elton's song...which, I agree with Rex, isn't his best effort. But probably not his worst..."I guess that's why they call it the Blues" is worse, IMO.

Unlike Rex, I didn't think the theme was all that bad. You know, it's Valentime's there's that.

I didn't care for the AERO-smith clue/answer. I had "tune" at first.

I did find it funny that the puzzle was filled with love and "hate." When you fill in the acrosses, you run into "LOVE ME DO" then "SHUN" then BE MY LOVE, then ADIOS, DEALWITHIT, ABASED, ONO (that minx), NOMAS, two kinds of impolite staring, and etc.

I love you, I hate you, I love you, I hate you...

Shouldn't 6-0 technically be SET LOVE?

Aketi 9:42 AM  

@Anonymous 8:47am, the human heart is usually in the left.

Lobster11 9:57 AM  

I got the so-called theme at 1A, rolled my eyes, and groaned audibly. "Trite" is much too kind a word for this. After removing my face from my palm, I very nearly threw the (printed) puzzle into the recyling bin, but then decided against my better judgment to give it a chance in hopes that there might be something more to it. What more there was to it turned out to be such a slogfest I quit about 3/4 of the way through.

Unknown 10:04 AM  

Did not “zoom” out on the puzzle with my little (11”) laptop screen, so at first didn’t see the whole grid. I then filled in the NW except for that #1 square. Had to be a vowel, no? They all made no sense. Then (coffee must have started to kick in) AHA!! “It IS Valentine’s Day dummy.” Then I looked at the whole grid, the theme, and constructor. I have learned here she is certainly a noted one, but I think appropriately for today, a female.

Before any thoughts of chauvinism, it’s not that men can’t be romantic, (as in flowers) or Romantic (as in Keats, Shelley, et al), but IMVHO [very] women are just better at it.

That said, back to the solve. Sun is shining, it’s -5 degrees with wind chills in the double minus digits, coffee’s hot, brain more or less in gear. And wow!! What an awesome looking grid. Maye Likely a nightmare to construct but the perfunctory Cupid’s arrow through the heart would have been truly awesome.

Finished. Needed a cheat to get the bottom center. Couldn’t deal with HOTMESS as an answer making me sure there had to be a “LOVE” rebus there somewhere. Also had to so a puzzle check finding several wrong letters, though my fill for those made sense (to me).

All in all a LOVE-ly puzzle for Feb 14 with VALENTINES DAY a “title” above the grid’s heart.

Like @ Bob Kerfuffle 4:32 AM “I am just smitten by the sentiment of the day, lulled by the scent of roses and intoxicated by chocolate, willing to accept a grid full of LOVE, even in rebus form.”

So many aspects throughout the grid from opposites (ENRAGE, TOUGH LOVE, TIRADE, SHUN), to questions (IS IT? CAN YOU FEEL?) to desire (LOVE ME DO. BE MY, the NEED TO), to states of mind (IN LOVE, LOVE ACTUALLY, DARED to), to LOVE “things” (NESTS, SONGS, LETTERS [one is TO SIR], BUG), to what it TAKES (TIME), to HARBORing “secret feelings” of and DEALing WITH IT, to the less “romantic” side (OGLES, STARES AT, R-RATED? SAID NO. DEHORNS [think horny]), to the LOVE icon (the grid’s heart), and even a reminder that sometimes LOVE is BRIEF.



Unknown 10:11 AM  

Yes Babi Yar. Done blame the constructor if you don't know that one.

Hartley70 10:19 AM  

Love, love, love..the sentiment and the rebus are winners for me, as is sole almondine. I haven't seen it on a menu in years, and where is duck a 'l'orange I'd like to know? Both dishes would be perfect for my Valentine dinner.

@BobKerfuffle please mix some chocolate into that oatmeal. You deserve a treat because your friends here love you and your posts.

Mary Lou, don't listen to the curmudgeons. This was a wonderful Sunday valentine for the solvers. You gave us a rebus, some current things (I'm looking at you HOTMESS!), oldie film and music for the boomers, and a cute grid to look at while we solve. Additionally it was bang on my average solve time. Nicely done!

Hartley70 10:27 AM  

@Lewis, LOVE your last paragraph.

@'mericans in Paris, I had the same thought about the bull. Not much fun to get hit by a ton of charging pot roast or stepped on by a pointy toe hoof, (or four).

bswein99 10:29 AM  

I know one of the appeals of crossword puzzles is the odd and random combination of clues, so you can have a major historic event and a sitcom character crossing each other. But occasionally the cross seems so extremely inappropriate as to be in poor taste. I nominate BE MY LOVE and BABI YAR (14A/D) for the extremely inappropriate category.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

@NCA President - Perhaps your expectation of "Baba Yar" was influenced to some extent, as my passing thought was, by a dim memory of Baba Yaga.

Nancy 10:45 AM  

For most theme puzzles -- unless I am struggling unbearably with the solving -- I am perfectly content to find out what the theme is whenever I get there and not a nanosecond sooner. This theme couldn't be missed -- it sort of rose up and kicked me in the face. I saw the grid heart shape, glanced briefly at the title, saw ALL YOU NEED and thought" "Oh, there will be love symbols in the form of an "O" scattered throughput the puzzle. And so there were. Yawn. Now if the O/love symbol could have been integrated into the answer as in ALL OVER, say (ALOR), that would have been a challenge. This was not a challenge. Plus the fact that, where you have love, you also can't avoid a lot of pop O SONGS -- and so we have too many O SONGS to count. I dutifully filled in squares and didn't stop yawning until I was done.

Virginia Lady 10:45 AM  

Well I l💗💕💗❤️💝 it! Thanks to Mary Lou for a fun Valentines Day solve!

Carola 10:57 AM  

Call me contrary, but I don't see why the LOVE Downs aren't theme answers. I thought they were some of the best (perhaps because I hadn't heard of most of the songs). I agree with @Loren about the puzzle.

xyz 11:01 AM  

Easy. I also drew hearts in the boxes as others noted.

It's Valentine's Day, give it some slack, people, Joe & Jane are going to see the cut heart in the puzzle and do it, trite, easy - it's OK non-serious puzzlers are going to do this, show a little, dare I say Love.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Why do so many of you, especially you Rex, have to be so ignorant and critical with your comments? It's just a puzzle.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

So close. 33A: teASED for ABASED ("Belittled"). That, and neither 33D nor 34D were gimmes. Otherwise, dead-on medium.

thursdaysd 11:26 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - I solve on an iPad with Crosswords Classic, and the clue for 81A was indeed: "Basic ones are above 7" so someone agreed with you.

MI Nana 11:31 AM  

Perhaps Babi Yar reminds us of another kind of love, agape. " I am every old man.... I am every child..." Not a bad reminder in these times. ❤️to all of you, my virtual friends, of the commentariat.

Alan_S. 11:32 AM  

What is most egregious about "We Built This City" is the fact that it was made famous by the (once) badass, psychedelic and revolutionary Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane (ok Starship, still). If your a child of the 60's, and even if you're not, the song was truly appalling! Btw, it was written, in part, by Bernie Taupin. The very same man and lyricist who's partner was "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"'s Elton John. Birds of a feather?

And I thought this puzzle was just fine.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Isn't Pamplona in NAVARRO? The answer put it as NAVARRE (the ending E fits with NESTS). I couldn't figure out what to do with NOSTS!

Z 11:42 AM  

@Ellen S - Nothing like Nazi massacres to set the VALENTINES DAY mood.

I did a quick peak at Rex on Ms. Guizzo. Lots of recent well-done puzzles. I agree that this one isn't up to her usual standards.

@LMS - It's not so much that this has been done. It's that the three key elements, LOVE rebus, pop songs, heart shape, are the exact same three elements as a puzzle one year old by someone who is now a key figure in puzzledom. Birnholz commented on this last night on Twitter. It seems to me that the NYT, WSJ, Buzzfeed, etc should have someone who checks these things. This one is too similar and too soon to have been run, IMHO.

Alan_S. 11:44 AM  

"Can't Hurry Love" (Phil Collins version).
Another entry in the "worst pop/rock songs of all time" list.

Alan_S. 11:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Loved it! Of course the theme's been done before, so what?

As usual, Rex and I have opposite knowledge bases & therefore opposite reactions. I know the poem Babi Yar, I know there are two Os in the Greek alphabet - Omicron and Omega (little O and big O!), I will never forget people my age chanting "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh is going to win."

I also think Rex does too many Crossword puzzles. For the rest of us...this was a fun Sunday, medium level.

old timer 12:09 PM  

I'm not gonna complain about this one, because I finished it with no writeovers. Even though I never heard of BABI YAR. or most of the songs (I of course knew LOVE ME DO and vaguely remembered TO SIR WITH LOVE).

No, I see I wrote in "duplicate" before REPLICATE. And I was a little worried about LIRA until I remembered that Turkey has them. No one alive today has ever seen a single Italian LIRA, I bet.

Wanted "basta" before NO MAS. Wondered at PHS, but no doubt chemistry teachers sometimes say that. No complaint about ERTES as clued. Many SatEvePost covers were Norman Rockwells, weren't they?

I do wonder about "QEF". QED you see all the time. But I noticed Ms. Guizzo avoided the common clue and gave us uncommon, but interesting ones, including those for EDO, LOVE BUG, LOVE SET, and LEILA.

Da Bears 12:10 PM  

Not sure why Rex chose to disregard/ignore/omit the other theme answers with the rebus. Cute puzzle for Valentine’s Day (Rex didn’t even give it props for being published on the right day). Rex even *wore* out worse. With as much theme as there is, it’s not surprising that some fill is awkward. Enjoyed it more than Rex, as is sometimes said here.

Ken Wurman 12:11 PM  

When 1 across reveals the theme immediately, the puzzle should be classified as "easy". Also the down loves should be considered as theme answers. I actually like "Can You Feel the Love Tonighr" and I am suprise more people don't feel the same way.

Alan_S. 12:15 PM  

Curmudgeon is putting it mildly. Are you sure you're not Rex?

Nancy 12:20 PM  

@Tita (late yesterday) -- Amen to your distinction between being against pop culture in general and being against the use of pop culture names in a crossword puzzle. If only your point -- and the logical reasoning behind why such clues don't work well in Xworldland -- could be assimilated and remembered by everyone on this and other similar blogs. But, alas, I imagine it won't be -- that we'll all be talking past each other ad infinitum. For those of you who missed it, @Tita's comment appears on yesterday's blog at 10:22 a.m., today's time.

@lms & @Hartley -- Re: Sole Almondine. I believe it was one of Julia Child's favorite dishes, too, btw. Which, when you think about it, is quite amazing. Sole, (unless it's Dover Sole, of course), is one of nature's blandest-tasting fish. White. No oils. B-o-orrr-ing. Then you have the sauce. Just lemon and butter and some slivered almonds. B-o-orrr-ing. And yet... When made in a top restaurant by a top chef, it's Pure Poetry. One of life's great meals. How can this be? It's alchemy, that's what it is. But unless you are a great chef yourself, don't try it at home. And don't order it in any restaurant that's not French. Whereas with Duck L'Orange (and I can't find it anywhere, anymore, either, @Hartley, along with Vichyssoise, Coquille St. Jacques, and Coupe au Marrons), the ingredients are so irresistible, that you can order it almost anywhere. If you can find it, that is.

Joseph Michael 12:30 PM  

Sorry. I can't get past the clue for GEL. What a turnoff for Valentine's Day.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Unchecked letters? - love em. [Solvin tip]
8 U's? - love em.
SILENT-U's? - love em. [Even more than BAD-U's]
@009 blogs and the Comment Gallery gang? - love em.
Mary, Lou, and Guizzo puzs? - love em.
Cinnamon rolls and PuzEatinSpouse? - rodeo!

Happy VR-Day*, all U nice folks.


*Valentine's in RexWorld Day.


Anonymous 12:41 PM  

The last clue I filled in was the CAN YOU FEE THE (LOVE) TONIGHT / ART (LOVE)RS cross. I let out an involuntary "Really?"

Why is the (LOVE) asymmetric here? Why is ART (LOVE)RS the only theme answer in the whole puzzle where the LOVE is not its own word?

Horrible, horrible puzzle. TOUGH (HATE), more like it.

PIX 12:45 PM  

77A Is simply wrong. Symptoms = what patient complains about. Signs = what you find on exam. { Patient 's symptom is headache; sign is one pupil is larger than the other}. I know this was mentioned above, but I just want to repeat: this clue is simply incorrect. There is no defense.

Focus16 12:47 PM  

Completely agree with smalltowndov 7:38am. Signs are NOT symptoms for reasons explained by smalltowndoc. Also looks like the clue for phs has been amended to read correctly since the post by bob kerfuffle at 4:32am. Otherwise enjoyed myself

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

how do you fill in a rebus using the online puzzle

M and A also 12:55 PM  

@muse: yep. Just becuz I don't work every puz on the planet, don't mean I shouldn't get to enjoy a fresh take on a cool theme in a NYTPuz variation. Not their fault, that there was a heart-shaped runtpuz, just yesterday.


ArtO 12:56 PM  

Shocking to see how many otherwise bright folks did not know BABI YAR. But, I'm often amazed at the knowledge gaps here which, I believe, are basically generational. Also, the degree of criticism is generally related to how many puzzles one does and the level of expertise.

As one of an older generation who does no more than one or two crosswords a day, I found this one well constructed considering the visual and rebus relationship to the day. Yes, there is some less than satisfying fill but it would seem to be a necessary evil to achieve the end result.

Here's hoping @Rex gives and gets some love before the day is over.

Alan_S. 12:57 PM  

If pop culture references don't belong in Xwordland where do they belong? and please don't be cute. And btw, I'm talking at you not past you.

Andrew Heinegg 1:19 PM  

I thought that was a crummy clue for a Valentines Day themed puzzle also but, I didn't resent it quite as much as 37a. God, I can't stand Yoko Ono, whom I consider talentless and annoying, Kardashian-like, if you will. And the stories of her appearances at Beatles recording sessions convinced me that she wasn't a scapegoat, she was a nightmare, diplomatic comments to the contrary from the other Beatles notwithstanding.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

When I showed the grid to my wife (who generally doesn't do crosswords) it made he smile!

RooMonster 1:56 PM  

Hey All !
Anyone notice TATTOOERS in the heart? Course, heart TATTOOs are usually on the arm...
It GETS AROUND that most women feel the NEED TO have SAID NO for a date with me! Maybe it's because I STARES AT and OGLES them?:-)

@M&A: what's with that SILENT U? The Bastards... All U's must be heard!
RETURNS SIGNS- Give back all the stolen Stops and Yields
BRIEF LADLE- Just a little bit of soup
ADIOS BINGE- Can't stop with the goodbyes


Tita 2:05 PM  

I love a rebus, and love a Valentine's Day tribute puzzle with a heart in the grid.
I hate all the goddawful fill that Rex pointed out too!!
But as usual, I overall liked the puzzle.
Even though I DNF'd above the left ventricle.

I just ran out of time - places to be on this frigid day.

Thanks, Ms. Guizzo, and Happy Valentine's Day (even if it is a Hallmark Holiday.)

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

When I showed the grid to my wife (who generally doesn't do crosswords) it made her smile!

Tim Pierce 2:47 PM  

I thought it was really cute that the one asymmetrical heart appears in the left ventricle of the heart grid -- i.e. where the heart (mythically) is shown on the human body. A little visual synecdoche for your Valentine's Day.

I'm also puzzled at the insistence that the down clues aren't also themers. (LOVE) ACTUALLY? The (LOVE) TRIANGLE from Casablanca (one of the most classic romantic movies ever made)? (LOVE) SONGS? (LOVE) NESTS? Valentine answers without a doubt.

puzzle hoarder 2:54 PM  

I'm late to comment as I have to work today. That one off center rebus is right about where an arrow would pierce a Valentine heart. Maybe it's just a coincidence but if you read at an angle the way that arrow would pass through(NW to SE) it reads LOVE DR LOVE.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

@Aketi - if we face, your heart is probably on my right.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

God Rex you are an asshole!!

kitshef 4:11 PM  

Hand up for drawing little hearts.
Surprised at the rating by @Rex and so many of you as anywhere from Medium to Easy. I thought it was much harder than a typical Sunday, in part because of the utterly unknown BABIYAR crossing a 1951 Mario Lanza hit, plus the unknownn SAMMYCAHN crossing RESAND, and DSO crossing ERTES.

Was pretty sure I had something wrong either in BABIYAR or ERTES and was surprised not.

Also, and this is all on me, I was convinced element 56 was iron, so I wanted feRIC, which I knew was wrong but thought perhaps an alternate spelling.

Then you also had the highly segmented nature of the puzzle, so that it was easy to bog down in an area and not have a lot of other ways to get in.

On a completely different note, instead of my usual print-off, I thought I'd try solving online. All I can say is, I must be doing it wrong. It would have taken me all day to finish. Is there some trick to this, or do you really have to scroll around to find the clue you want to answer, then click on it, then fill in just the letters that are not already filled in (which just slows you down if you touch-type)?

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

We enjoyed doing this puzzle.
❤️Dan and Anna

Z 4:54 PM  

The correct BABI YAR link.

@Nancy - Ergo today's puzzle, with 7 pop songs for themers, Andre AGASSI, AMY Poehler, Hank IBA, LEILA, KEL, ALEXEI Kosygin, and SAMMY CAHN should have never seen the light of day? That's 14 pop culture references, including the central 21 theme answer after all. I agree that too much pop culture can ruin a puzzle. I disagree that yesterday or today were examples of "too much."

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

@Anonymous 2:57 yes if the crossword puzzle were a human or an animal that was facing me instead of facing away from me the heart should be on my right which would be the crossword puzzle's left. Yet if one was facing a diagram the upper left corner of the diagram would be from the peroective of the person looking at the diagram, not the perspective of the diagram looking at the person looking at it.

Dolgo 6:28 PM  

This was a lot harder (and therefore a lot more fun) than Sunday puzzles have been lately. As you know, if you ever read my posts (most of the players have long since finished by the time we Californians get out chance), I sometimes complain about "whiners." Well, I'm going to join their ranks today. How do most of us pronounce "circuit"? "-cut" or "-cit"? It's the latter for me. I promise to try to avoid sour grapes in the future. It was the cause of today's DNF!!

Fitzy 6:32 PM  

A LOVEly poem for the day <3 <3 <3

Dolgo 6:41 PM  

I agree! Those of us who try to keep up on most of the interesting things going on in this multifaceted world culture of ours get our (too often snobbish, I admit) nosrs bent out of shape over the over reliance on pop culture. Can't we occasionally have references to the culture of the world besides football and rap music?

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

We loved it, too!
And we even like the EJ song!
Can u feel the love today?

Airymom 10:06 PM  

Babi Yar--town near Kiev. German storm troopers murdered 34,000 Jews in one week in 1941. An answer which truly does not belong in a love themed puzzle.

Hugh 10:34 PM  

Not much to add to Rex's review -trite is no an UNAPT (this made me groan) description, though that does not make it unenjoyable for me.

Yes, it's been done before and today's was not very inventive or fresh, but I had some fun despite some fill that I really did not like - REUNE, ONELIRA, TATTOOERS? (and UNAPT)???? Those likely annoyed me as much as they did Rex.

DNF as I simply could not get the lower central right under the valentine - totally blank there for me other than the last letters as I did get HOTMESS, which I liked.

A couple of interesting write overs - COMMON before I got CAREER for 38A and tried to fit STALLION before ARABIAN (??) for 103A.

Did not get much of a kick out of the Themers - just songs or other things with "love" in them, ho hum...

Still though, a bit of fun for a 9 degree sunday in New Jersey.

Have a great week all!

Unknown 12:01 AM  

Well it's a week before I get this puzz since I live in syndicated land. Just wanted to jump in here and ask if there's any way that comments can show date as well as time stamp so when I read them next week I can track how many days after Rex's remarks have passed that ppl are still weighing in. Thank you!

BTW, still reading through the comments to last week's awful slog. Yeah, it was pretty bad.

Chronic dnfer 9:41 AM  

Had voodooers before tattooers.

Greg 2:17 AM  

REUNE? yikes.

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle re the PHS clue: in my paper the clue was precisely what you suggest: "Basic ones are above 7"." Did somebody read your post and EDIT?

Is a female TATTOOER a "Tattooine?" Yikes, the force is not with me! Nor, evidently, was it with our esteemed constructor today. Methinks Will should've exercised some TOUGH LOVE and sent this back for fill clean-up. All mentioned by OFL--and notice how long-winded his post is!

Where are the "yeah babies" in all this LOVE? Well, there's LEILA Ali, or we can go to a clue for luscious Mariah Carey. To her I would sing by far the best song in this grid: the incomparable BE MY LOVE. You go, Mario.

One of the many fill uglies almost derailed me. I started to write ARABIAN but stopped short: nothing starts RR. But as I kept filling in that corner, it became clear that ARABIAN was indeed correct. Then it hit me: RRATED. I'm gonna flag that one; the expression is "rated R." The letter comes AFTER the word "rated," NOT before. As the pirate taking the eye test said (Before the letters got TINIER): "RRR!"

I've never been into this holiday. To set aside one day in the year to reaffirm one's love, NATURALLY accompanied by EXPENSIVE PRESENTS, begs the question of what goes on during the other 364. Personally, our love is reaffirmed daily--and we've been married for 44 years. No box of fattening candy or bunch of flowers that die in less than a week can mean any more.

That is all. C-.

rondo 11:45 AM  

So we get to celebrate VALENTINESDAY all over again. I guess LOVETAKESTIME to get to syndie-land. Lotsa LOVESONGS in those across themers.

@spacey, did you LOVE the RD, the SILENTU, and another Greek letter (not the LOVELETTER)? I thought not.

Seems like recent yeah baby AMY Poehler also wins the award on VALENTINESDAY.

Always thought it would be a blast to go to NAVARRE and run with those Pamplonian bulls. Might still do it someday.

For a belated VALENTINESDAY sentiment for all you lady solvers in syndie-land, and like the middle of this puz, I still have a heart on for you. ISTHISLOVE or what?

Ray o' sunshine 11:58 AM  

Realizing that a Valentine theme surfacing today 2/21/16 just adds one more complaint about our local newspaper. Our Sunday puzzles are printed a week later than the rest of the universe. I techinically did not finish because I refused to write in "unapt"! Any way no one will read this because they are alreading commenting on what will be for me next week's puzzle.

Burma Shave 12:06 PM  


She’ll NEEDTO have LOVENESTS because she GETSAROUND,
then she can DEALWITHIT when the LOVEBUG bites.
Otherwise, LOVETAKESTIME should a new LOVELETTER down


BS2 12:25 PM  


GEE he didn’t get, “NIX.” For a rare answer
he got, “LOVEACTUALLY costs ONELIRA for you.”


Steve Z. 12:53 PM  

Signs are not the same as symptoms.

rain forest 2:07 PM  

I liked this puzzle because of the immediate visual, the several rebi, and the fact that it was easy enough to not be a slog.

If you haven't heard of a certain entry, or if you happen to dislike a song, for Pete's sake, that is part of the game.

That this approach to a VALENTINE'S DAY puzzle has been done before is completely irrelevant.

In a big Sunday puzzle there will be some fill that many won't like, even when PB1 does one. Big deal.

I too hate the saccharine central spanner, but I defend to the death it's right to be there.

leftcoastTAM 4:06 PM  

Sweet Sunday.

Find LOVE and all is well.

The OMICRON/CREAM crossing was last to succumb.

An easy kind of love today.

rain forest 4:37 PM  

@Roy O' Sunshine - All of us down here in syndicated country get the Sunday puzzle a week later than subscribers, and the Mon.-Sat. ones are 5 weeks later. Stick around. We'll read and sometimes comment on your comments, unless they are UNAPT (sounds ugly, but it is acceptable usage in some circles).

Diana,LIW 5:36 PM  

The LA Times also had a heart crossword on 2/14. Thought was seeing a Deja Vu.

Got most of it, but enuf was a WOE that I had a dnf.

Rex has me thinking of awful love songs. How about "My Boy Lollipop?"

Off to the gym, or I'll have LOVE handles from last night's wonderful dinner with friends.

Rainy from yesterday - those moths sound like no fun at all. Hope your vacuum cleaner doesn't become their new home.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords.

leftcoastTAM 7:00 PM  

@ArtO 12:56 PM RT(real time):

I quite agree with your post. I would add one more factor to what affects the degree of criticism of a puzzle: What RP says about it.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle in my paper today (syndicated) 81A was written

Basic ones are above 7"

which is very different than "Basic ones are above 7"

although I could not come up with a 3-letter answer to something basic above 7 inches........

Otherwise, I hate rebus puzzles, although this one was obvious, but DNF because of issues in W and E sections.

Cathy 7:19 PM  

Welcome to the club @Ray o' sunshine!
Yesterday's puzzle in Vegas paper was 5 weeks behind. Better late than never. And there's always syndiland:)

It's kind of like the island of misfit toys. A winged lion named King Rex makes sure we're not forgotten. Now if Rudolph can talk to the owners of our newspapers... Wait..why am I talking Christmas? It's Valentine's Day!!

Was a bit of time filling. Kind of like @DianaLIW description after a good meal. (Still makes me laugh) I agree UNAPT is inept.

Count me in on one who doesn't care if the theme has been done before. ACTUALLY one who doesn't remember, but if/when I do, my brain jogs a bit in the right direction.

All fun and games:)

@spacecraft- 28 years here, feel the same way.

@Rondo- happy you still have your heart on!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

Re the PHS clue: It would be flattering to think that my comment, which was made only to Rex's blog and never directed to the NY Times, somehow caused the change in cluing. But since my complaint should have been obvious to anyone who took high school chemistry, it is much more likely that someone within the Times organization caught the mistake and made the correction, and having the exact same wording as I suggested was just due to science and simplicity.

SharonAK 6:11 PM  

I found this puzzle great fun. Loved the heart and the many hearts in the theme answers.
Loved that there were so many theme answers (agree the downs count as well as the acrosses) and that there were other theme related answers.
Did not see the off center heart as being placed where the human heart is, but enjoyed the realization after some commenters pointed it out.
I think this was terrific Valentines day puzzle.
Thanks, Mary Lou Guizzo.

Wilbur Charles 8:34 PM  

On the26th I started this xword and completely missed the big 0214 staring at me. What 5letter Beatles song? Iba and ici got me started. Then th

Wilbur Charles 8:41 PM  

Oops, to finish there were those orphan boxes??? But I slogged thru except when I went thru every letter to fill BABI_AR I skipped thru after W. And I knew Sammy the lyricist but blew up on DST thinking it should be E/C/M/P D!Time. How can one complete a nyt xword and be soooo stupid

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Double take when I had P_OP for "make a splash"

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