Fatty cut of fish at sushi bar / SUN 3-13-16 / Modern carpe diem / Section of foreign travel guide maybe / Neophyte in modern slang / Two 1980s White House personages / Self-help guru who wrote Life Code / Wooden arts crafts piece

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Don't Sue Us!" — Circled squares represent the ® that indicates a registered trademark.

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: TORO (88A: Fatty cut of fish at a sushi bar) —
noun: toro
  1. a pale, fatty cut of tuna used for sushi and sashimi. (google)
• • •

Finished (quickly) and had no idea what the theme was supposed to be. There's an "R," there's not an "R," Don't sue you ... nope. Nothing. I kept trying to think of how disappearing "R"s could be related to anything legal. And then I started looking at the words on either side of the "R" in the Across answers to see if they had anything in common. And bingo. I'm slightly stunned that the theme is this thin. I mean, literally, the theme answers are just registered trademarks + a word. There is nothing cool or interesting or wordplayish, there is no joke, no build-up, no ... nothing. It's corporate entities. All the puzzle has is the little "R" trick. Seven times. The theme answers are ... nothing. There's nothing there to love or be amused by. I mean, XEROX MACHINE? Clued in a completely straightforward way? Where's the  joy, the love, the fun? I did have to expend energy figuring out the theme, which is highly unusual, but ... that was an afterthought. The puzzle was completed. Getting the theme was not a pleasurable struggle. I thought for sure the aha moment was gonna be big—Sunday-sized! But mostly I was just annoyed at myself for not seeing it sooner. Seems obvious, in retrospect.

I have never heard of the sushi meaning of TORO, so that will be the one thing I take away from this puzzle. I did enjoy the very long Downs, but most of the rest was bland. Solid, competent, perfunctory (especially the cluing). Mostly the clues are so short (for reasons of physical space in the Sunday magazine) that they don't have room to be very interesting, but even so, a little spice would've been nice. NOOB was a nice choice at 121A: Neophyte, in modern slang. Beats NOOR for freshness. I like that the POE clue was given over to so much POE (44D: Writer of the line "Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December"). But the clue on TERSE is one of those "jokes" that is lost on me, for a couple reasons. First, is "Describe yourself in three adjectives" something anyone actually says to anyone else? The situation seems highly contrived. Is it an interview? I guess so. Second, I get that the whole point of the "joke" is that the respondent is so TERSE that she gives only one adjective, but ... if I asked for three, then give me three or get out and take your facetiousness with you. My main point here is that, with clue real estate so scarce, maybe use it better? Or less cornily, at any rate.

I did like 24A: One for two of four (SEMI) because I really had to think about how the hell that even works. I (mostly) knew it was a tournament-related clue, but somehow I couldn't parse it. Four semi-finalists play two SEMIs, so a SEMI is a game "for two of (the) four" remaining people/teams in a tournament. Sorry if I'm overexplaining. This clue really did hurt my brains, and so I'm feeling the need to return to the scene of the crime.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:13 AM  

On the easy side for me too. However, it took a bit of staring post solve to realize that the circles were trademark symbols. I guess I'm more familiar with the TM symbol.

So, HIJINKS is a fine word and I liked the POLO, YOLO, TORO stair step sequence in the middle. Clever Sun., liked it more than Rex did.

Carola 1:20 AM  

A pleasant diversion. I caught on to the Rs half way through and enjoyed guessing the remaining theme answers with no crosses. I wondered if the point of choosing these particular registered names is that they've come to be used like ordinary words - e.g., you XEROX something on a Canon (or other) copier, eat a homemade POPSICLE, and play FRISBEE with any old cheap disk - and who's going to say "hook and loop closure" instead of VELCRO?

I thought the long Downs were great. As I wrote in SUNDRIED TOMATO, I realized that I'll never know what they're like: i became allergic to tomatoes before the sundried form was a "thing" - a thing I'll never BITE INTO. I also liked GAUCHE over OINKED. Eye rhyme or real rhyme: YOLO and POLO? I always forget what YOLO means. Off to look it up - again.

chefwen 1:21 AM  

That was way too easy for a Sunday. I kept waiting for a AHA moment which never came and every time I filled in one of those blasted "R'S" I wondered what in the hell they were supposed to mean. Never did figure it out and had to have Rex 'splain it to me. Oh, O.K., big whoop!

Only one write over (rare for a BIG Sunday) IT IS I over it's me at 118A. Never even paused at 12D OAK TREE thanks to @mac (hi mac).

O.K. Puzzle, just a little disappointing.

Unknown 3:14 AM  

I'd like to register my disagreement.


That's better.

Jim 5:02 AM  

"Curmudgeon" might be cool to see in a crossword puzzle. No reason; it just came to mind.

'mericans in Paris 5:27 AM  

Well, previously I had no IDEA that POPSCICLE and PING-PONG were registered trademarks. So I learned something new from this puzzle. OH YES. But otherwise I agree with @Rex: a real BORER of a theme. No HIJINKS; didn't break any TABOOS; didn't challenge the CORTEX.

It didn't take us very long to DECODE this puz. Got it at VELCRO(R) STRAP. Have never played FRISBEE(R) GOLF, but have played plenty of Ultimate FRISBEE(R), so was glad to see that one.


Anonymous 5:46 AM  

i found the literal (is that the word?) use of the circle convention entirely delightful, and was only worried, being a relative crossword NOOB, that I would come to the blog and learn that this very thing has been done to death. Absolutely did use the "gimmick" once sussed to speed the solve. And no OFL love for the 16D clue? C'mon! XEROX MACHINE sounds faintly quaint, perhaps because devices have so superseded MACHINES nowadays. Remembering UBI caritas confirmed 91A. (That word seems weird, like it's missing a q.). Barrel-of-monkeys, I thought. Thank you!

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

Like Rex, I finished rapidly and without any idea of what the theme could be. But since I don't have a blog to write, I didn't spend any time trying to figure it out. I did like "Yolo" for "Modern carpe diem", but beyond that not much to enjoy here.

George Barany 6:47 AM  

I expect that @Rex's reaction to @Tom McCoy's theme, as it were, will be quite common. I was solving along, putting in all the long across answers while ignoring the circles--all the crossings worked--while also noticing that all of the short down answers resulted in the letter "R" going into the circles. With the completed grid in front of me a mere 20 minutes later (that's very fast by my personal Sunday puzzling standards), there was the briefest of aha moments, and then I returned to other activities.

In the department of instant karma, I had never even heard of Diana Krall until earlier Saturday afternoon, when her name was brought to my attention by a crossword collaborator--you'll find out the reason soon enough. So when @Rex's review posted, I clicked on the "Popsicle Toes" link, and had my first acquaintance with her singing. It wasn't just that one song ... YouTube kept serving up others.

Finally, I don't know whether it was deliberate or not, but thanks to all parties responsible for the PSA reminder with 1-Across!

Charles Flaster 6:53 AM  

Agree with Rex but I did like the cluing for SUN DRIED TOMATO, HIJINKS, GAUCHE, and ALIBIS.
There was a minimum of CrosswordEASE which seems difficult on a Sunday.
Write over--ROMAN CALENDAR for ROMAN empErors but POLO corrected that.
EEK and EKE was good fill.
Thanks TM

Bob Kerfuffle 6:59 AM  

I thought the best part of the puzzle was finding the circles which contained a "C" for Copyright and the "TM" for Trademark, in addition to those with the "R" for Registered.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any.

Lewis 7:06 AM  

My late night brain filled in half the puzzle and couldn't figure out another square. My first-thing-in-the-morning brain saw everything my late night brain missed and filled in the rest of the puzzle in a flash.

I solved the puzzle as a themeless and kept trying to figure out what the circled Rs meant, what tricky wordplay was involved, and I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I knew that the letter R went in the circles at some point, but the "registered" symbol never registered. The theme itself became the hardest part of the puzzle to figure out! (I had to find out the theme online.) I think that makes it a good theme, tricky in reverse -- unexpectedly easy.

There was some clever cluing, as I've come to expect from Tom: DECODE, SUNDRIEDTOMATO, IDO, DELI, and I loved the looks of NOOB and the answer LOOKWHATIFOUND. Last night I was thinking, "What a slog!", and this morning I'm singing the puzzle's praises. Maybe the lesson is that when I'm feeling frustrated about something, I should go around the house and change the clocks.

pmdm 7:36 AM  

Some of the downs that cross the "theme" were to me very simple (ASNER, BRR, ECARDS, UTURN), so I very quickly saw the "apparent theme" of two words separated by an R. I had no clue what was going on after I finished the puzzle and had to go to XInfo to understand the real theme. I suppose the "apparent theme" was so easy to figure out that part of the puzzle was to figure out the real elusive theme. And then become very disappointed.

Even if not clued as a reveler, it would have been very nice to have TRADEMARK as one of the answers. Such a shame it's missing.

I solve the paper edition version, which had no circles in the grid. (I don't know about the online version.) If ever there was a grid crying out for circles, this was one. But then, perhaps the editors thought it would have made the puzzle too easy.

Since there's nothing about the puzzle I hate, I would say it's a successful puzzle. Uncool, yes.

The copyright symbol is a C in a circle. Just thinking ...

chefbea 7:47 AM  

What an unfun puzzle. Got most of it done last night but couldn't figure out why we had all the Rs. Had to wait for this morning . No aha moment. Thought maybe we would have had a puzzle about clocks going ahead one hour!!!!

Loren Muse Smith 7:50 AM  

Well, I finished this easily enough and sat there cursing the fact that obviously I had missed another note at the top of the grid. I studied the themers forever and just never got the trademark deal. Never would have. Even after I came here and saw the explanation, I still was thinking that it was the whole phrase and not just the first word. Heck.

@Bob – I stopped halfway through your post in a panic and revisited my grid looking for the R's that should have been C's. When I didn't find any, I was wondering how such an accomplished solver could've made such a mistake. Hah! You got me!

LOOK WHAT I FOUND crossing EWS – yesterday morning I had to pull a couch out from the wall to unplug something. And yesterday afternoon I helped a guy pull out my front seat to replace a seatbelt.

Rex – I wonder if TORO was clued like that to avoid another trademarked item in the puzzle. But I guess it could've been a bull. And there are also EPCOT, OREO, HOHO, and NERF in the grid. (And maybe MODEL T?)

I like YOLO and its sister (fomo) as incentive to try new things. And maybe land in the headlines.

I like NOOB, too, but never would have guessed that it was spelled that way. Cool that it is so close to "boob," which is how I always feel when I start something new.

Even though I failed to DECODE this clever IDEA, I liked it.

Trombone Tom 7:59 AM  

What @Rex said. I prefer a more challenging Sunday. I, too, learned of TORO in the sushi sense for the first time.

Thanks for including a nice sample of one of my favorite singers (and excellent jazz musician) Diana Krall.

Had the same reaction to TERSE here as did OFL.

Meanwhile California is trying hard in a few March days to make up for years of drought. My thoughts are with those hit by flooding, mudslides, and power failures.

Rabi Abonour 8:12 AM  

Oof. Fill was fine, with some nice stuff, but this is a Monday theme in a Sunday grid. Insanely thin. I noticed that two circles were Rs and filled in the rest, not getting it at all. Couldn't pick it up until after finishing. This is just... nothing. How does this get through?

Ken Wurman 8:36 AM  

Super easy puzzle for me. Who knew that ping pong was a registered trademark?

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

The R gimmick was practically a gimme - once a couple of crosses provided some circled R's, the trick was obvious. Too obvious. Enjoyed NOOB and HIJINKS. Bored with 118A ITISI (seems to pop up too often). Finished faster than my regular Sunday time, but I felt no joy, or even bare flicker of joy, for the finished puzzle. Rather, I felt like something on my list of chores could be crossed off.

I only wish, as noted by Bob, that the circles were C instead of R - what a wink that would have been to recent events.

jcj 9:11 AM  

I'm not usually as critical as @Rex, but then I don't fancy myself a "critic", I just like doing crosswords. That said, I was pretty disappointed with the mundane cluing and for that matter the mundane answers for the themes. Only TEFLON PRESIDENT showed any creativity.

I got the theme pretty much immediately, having the "R" and then [blank] "TI" from crosses while looking for POPSICLE STICK, after that it was pretty much all gimmes.

It might have been near record time but for a typo on the west coast and 16d. I was filling the acrosses and went for "SUNDRy.." even though I ended up with "YAM" for 42a which made no sense for "Positive response.
But even with "TOMATO" in place I couldn't let go of "SUNDRy" until I had erased the word and started over. After which I have to say that was a great clue.

I was also a little disappointed that the ® didn't work on the downs. If they had managed that I would be floored by the puzzle no matter how mundane the cluing.

Dorothy Biggs 9:12 AM  

Easy solve for me today as well.

And like Rex, the clue for SEMI caused a brain freeze. Granted I was only on my first cup of coffee and I was up an hour earlier, but I looked at that clue many times and never once understood what the hell it was about. I got through the first couple of words and then...nothing....just a glazed-over stare. I got SEMI by the crosses, no thanks to the clue.

I also finished the puzzle, say the title of the puzzle, saw the Rs intersecting straight ahead answers...and just moved on. It was one of those themes that didn't help or hinder and when all was said and done, didn't matter. So a hearty "meh" to the theme.

Thanks to Rex for the blast from the past with Velcro Fly. I haven't heard that song since the 80s. And you gotta love the videos from the 80s...lots of partial nudity and mullets. Ah, those were good times.

John Child 9:13 AM  

I agree with the first round of comments that this solved as a themeless puzzle, and I liked it as such. R in a circle is exactly correct - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registered_trademark_symbol - but it never occurred to me.

The grid is lovely, and the three long downs, one through five theme answers, are beautiful.

Circles in my print edition (international), but the title was Don't Sue Use rather than "Us!" which was confusing.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Yeah, all these registered trademarks have come to be used generically. Saying tissue instead of KLEENEX still strikes me a SNOOTY.

Z 9:57 AM  

You guys are making me feel like a genius. Off just POPSICLE ® STICK and ASNE® I saw the theme. Of course putting in Xacto off the X cured me of too much head inflation. (Since Blogger doesn't always pick up atypical characters, those are circled Rs)

Sunday's are supposed to be roughly Thursday difficulty. This one felt more like a Monday or Tuesday.

The only time it's called FRISBEE®GOLF is when inviting a NOOB to play. I don't think Wham-O even makes golf discs.* Professionals call it Disc Golf. And yes, "professional" as in "make money playing it."

Interesting that the TEFLON®PRESIDENT makes an appearance since his ideological off-spring are busy trashing the Republican Party. It's always amazing to me that people go around using fighting words then act surprised when someone bops them in the nose. And yes, I am "politically correct." What does that make The Donald?

*Wham-O does make golf discs. I've never seen one, but then I spend most of my time playing Ultimate, not disc golf.

Hartley70 9:58 AM  

Thankfully, I saw the theme right before I came here so I don't feel like yesterday's DODO, dope, or dolt. This was a straightforward solve, spot on with my average Sunday time. There wasn't a thrill, but I wasn't bored. It was a nice serviceable pair of Sunday shoes and that was fine with me, because sometimes one opts for comfort rather than Jimmy Choo.

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

I don't know why, but when I see circles in the puzzle, I let out an audible groan. Maybe it's because it reminds me of a boss I had who used to circle his "I's". I asked him once why he didn't just put pretty little hearts on top instead.
I didn't get the R thing either and it always makes me sad when I'm a NOOB and can't figure out the theme.
GAUCHE is another one of those words I would just toss out in large company only to find out later I had loudly mispronounced it. YOSEMITE!
@Carola...I too, forget what YOLO stand for. Must commit to memory!
As @Rex said, the puzzle didn't really have much in the AHA, OOH department but it did have goodies. LOOK WHAT I FOUND was/is used daily in this house. My husband can leave the refrigerator open for hours looking for a stick of butter.
DST...damn, I hate it!

Generic Solver 10:24 AM  

YOLO? Never heard of it and correctly guessed HOHO over HIHO. Even in 2012 the Boston Globe had this to say:

"If you are over 25, YOLO likely means nothing to you. If you are under 25, you may be so familiar with YOLO that you’re already completely sick of it."

I'm over 25, not surprisingly.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

There were circles in my nyt edition but I was perplexed for a few hours until talking to my hubby when the light bulb lit up. I had just filled in the rs as a help to solving. Also I filled in the tomato one without understanding then I realized it. I had read it as sundried meaning variable.puzzle itself wasn't memorable but finally realizing what the rs meant did give a aha minute which was how I spelled relief. (Old RO-LAIDS COMMERCIAL).

RooMonster 10:42 AM  

Hey All !
Different. Put me in the crowd not getting what all the R's were for. Kind of a DOH moment once I came here.

Puz itself wasn't too bad. Got hung up in SW centerish section for a bit. UBI new, and had EWw. Think it was because I was fighting nodding off!

Only three writeovers, SNObbY-SNOOTY, meT-SAT, EWw-EWS. But... AS OFTEN happens, had my one letter DNF. OH YES. Can't seem to nip that one wrong letter-ness-ing. At the TORO. Had pORO/pOPSIN.

Some cool words, OINKED, GAUCHE, TABOOS, CORTEX, SCARP. Liked the cross referenced EKE-EEK, like Tom McCoy saying, "Yea, yea, I know they're both in here!"

Overall, not bad. Quick, ADROIT. :-)

HOHO OREO (sounds yummy!)

Tita 10:43 AM  

Exactly the same process as Rex to guess the theme post-solve. But guess it I did, and then really liked the puzzle. (I didn't read the title, but had to at the end...)
@Z...thought of you as I was about to concede a DNF for not understanding the theme.

It would have helped the solve, as I didn't notice at all that these were trade names...which is precisely the point of the puzzle...
Therefore, NOT seeing the theme kind of proves Mt. McCoy's point!

@Rex...they're. NOT just followed by just a word, they are phrases. Did you never make a log cabin out of Popsicle sticks (autocorrect just capitalized that P for me...again, proving the point.), only to have your big brother knock it over with a frisbee? (No capital...point proven again!)

This common phenomenon of name recognition gone wild is why J&J changed the jingle to the ridiculous "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand..."

If anyone wants a truly beautiful SCARP east of the Rockies, head over to the Schawangunks in NY. You can climb, hike, or walk. Beautiful!

da kine 10:51 AM  

I didn't get the theme either. I think it would have worked in a 15x15 if the clues were WORD1(R)OTHERWORD1, WORD2(TM)OTHERWORD2, and WORD3(C)OTHERWORD3, with the 4th themer being a reveal. That would have been pretty frigging awesome. Otherwise, this was just a really long Monday.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

Another hand up for having all the Rs filled in and not having a clue as to what they meant. And while I'm normally baffled by all the people who tend to call Sunday puzzles "a slog", this one was a slog for me. Without the Aha Moment that would have come with understanding the theme, it just seemed like an endless stream of WTF answers. That's probably on me, not on Tom McCoy, so I won't criticize the puzzle. I'm sure that those of you who get it will enjoy it much more than I did.

I naticked at the crossing of Keanu's role with a neophyte in modern slang, having not the slightest idea of either answer -- not even enough to hazard a guess. So, one missing letter.

From the Realm of Useless Talents Dept.: I read the wonderful POE line, and immediately began reciting The Raven in its entirety in my head. This is a poem I didn't even study in school; I simply read it over and over again, on my own, at a very tender and spongelike age, for I loved it for its incredible musicality. I never tried to memorize it; it just happened. I have been able to recite it by heart for about 60 years now; I have never forgotten even a teeny word. Wind me up, and out comes The Raven. And yet, about 10 years ago, I read Eros Turannos -- a poem I'd never read, but immediately fell in love with. I decided to memorize it, so I consciously tried. And tried. And tried. While it's hardly short, it's a LOT shorter than The Raven. But I couldn't do it. I remember some of it, some of the time. But I absolutely can't remember all of it even some of the time. Ah, the remembering abilities of the youthful brain. But why is it that I still remember Poe, but barely remember my high school French, which I worked so hard to completely master and never did? Why is every theorem in Geometry completely gone? Why is it, when I was really good at Algebra, that today I might not be able to figure out when those two trains meet?
Isn't reciting Poe among the most useless of things to remember? If you met me, would you want to listen to me reciting The Raven? No? I thought not. Sigh.

Tita 10:59 AM  

So sorry...two more thoughts...
I had a terrible cold while traveling in Portugal. Stopped into a pharmacy, but couldn't think of the word for tissues. I described in detailed Portuguese that I was looking for handkerchiefs made of paper...
"KLEENEX" was the answer the proprietor shouted, as if he were on a game show...!

And from Wiki...
"One of the product's noted jingles was composed by Barry Manilow; the chorus is "I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me!"."
Though it was a few years after that they popped "brand" into the jingle...

P. Evans 11:04 AM  

I think the rationale for the TERSE clue has to do with the Latin connection, i.e. ter (thrice) se (itself), thus making it more punny.

kitshef 11:05 AM  

Pretty good for a Sunday. Building on @Loren's comment, I do think that if you are going to have registered trademarks as a theme, then you ought not have other trademarked product names in your puzzle.

I generally mark WoEs, really bad stuff and really good stuff as I go. Today the only marks were TORO as a WoE and the clue for TERSE as really good. Chacun as son gout.

POPSICkleSTICK before POPSICLERSTICK, SNOtTY before SNOOTY. zIE before SIE, OnUS before OPUS, clUmsy before GAUCHE, hoNKED before OINKED (and I think it's neat that two words for hoity-toity have the SNO-TY pattern and are nose-related, and that two common farm animals both make a sound with the --NK pattern).

noreen 11:08 AM  

As a child, I learned to define 'terse' as 'brief, concise, and to the point.' While I don't think this is relevant to the joke answer, it is an interesting coincidence -- for me.

leah712 11:23 AM  

Finished the puzzle, but had to come to Rex to explain the theme, which I thought was giving us an extra r (hour) in theme answers to make up for the one we lost last night.

Kimberly 11:37 AM  


Last week they stole my "aha" moment by spelling it out and spoon feeding it to me in the side-note. Today they just turned it into an "a®e you **^%#%^ kidding me?" moment. So... Boo. Hiss

The one good thing I got was an desire to brush up again on Locke's Two Treatises, which got me thinking about the Age of Enlightenment, classical republicanism, and the devolution of aristocracy into oligarchy, which somehow seems vaguely ®elevant today (she said, in a falsely off-handed and casual manner).

ArtO 11:45 AM  

Started slowly but picked up speed and wound up going clockwise for the finish. Never figured out the circle R for "registered" but while "thin" is certainly clever. Give some credit for the fact that it took some time for most to either see it or just wait to come here. Otherwise, a pretty fast Sunday.

Indypuzzler 11:47 AM  

I have lived with an IP attorney for 35 years and my lazy brain did not pick up the "circle R" concept until Teflon. The puzzle was a bit of a snoozer. @Anon9:39...it probably took a good part of the 20th century for companies to realize that the popularity of a product can cause genericide of the "mark". This was probably a good thing for "could you pass me a Kleenex" but not so much for Ping Pong...after all, do you even capitalize ping pong in your thoughts?

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

For once I completely agree with Rex. Even though this is pretty much the only puzzle I solve, it was too easy and too uninspired, with fill that might as well have come from USAToday, it had so many old chestnuts. What a disappointment.
I am surprised at how many people didn't get the registered-R thing. I mean, it's an R in a circle and in real life you get a cease-and-desist letter if you leave it out. I got it with Popsicle(R) and then just wrote R's in all the other circles before finishing the puzzle. Extra marks off for Tom McCoy because once you do that the themed answers are broken into shorter words for you.
Can't believe Rex doesn't know his sushi?!? Fatty tuna is toro. It's on all the menus.

Unknown 11:56 AM  

I didn't just break my Sunday time record: I obliterated it by 25%. Way too easy, way too thin a theme (I picked it up at Tupperware, thanks to old standby Ed Asner).

Maruchka 11:56 AM  

Knew I'd be tired this a.m., so completed the task yesterday. Got the drift about half way through. Yes, not particularly tasty but, TO BE FAIR, I've seen worse.

Loved seeing YMA and AYN together, or close enough and at long last. imagine them meeting. Rand smoking, Sumac singing, fur flying - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhUBJZdL8BY

Hugh 12:00 PM  

Easy, not very exciting Sunday, finished all but 84D as somehow I misspelled GAUCHE ( an "O" instead of an "A") so could not suss out "TOBEFAIR even though I had just one wrong letter - TOBEFOIR. Must be my slow adjustment to DST and I thought it must be some sophisticated French word I did not know...

Did NOT get the theme at all until I came here, even after that, I remain pretty ho hum about this one. Agree with Rex, very easy fill with not one "AHA" moment. I got some mild enjoyment out of the long downs but they were so straightforward that I couldn't get terribly excited by them. This felt like a Monday?Tuesday difficulty level.

I did like the cluing for 101D - Smallest slice of a pie chart, maybe - "OTHER", but that was about the only smile for today.

I had "ROMANNUMERALS " for the longest time for 34D - Source of the names of two months, which had me stumped in that middle section for a bit early on, but it soon clicked.

Are HOHOS really Brown and White?? I thought the same colors as OREOS (?)

On to my usual struggle with the Cryptic.

Have a great week all!

Chaos344 12:00 PM  

Exactly what Rex, chefwen and others said. There was no THERE there! Had absolutely no clue about the theme, and didn't much care. When Rex explained it, I still wasn't gruntled. Not even a little! Yep, I learned TOTO too. All was not a waste of DST.

Andrew Heinegg 12:01 PM  

I too had no idea that Ping Pong was a registered trademark and, while I solved it as a themeless (way too easy), the problem with that is who cares is not the desired reaction to learning something from completing a crossword. Hope this puzzle is not an indicator of the quality of the rest of the week's puzzles because, if it is, well, ew.

Blue Stater 12:06 PM  

This was just awful. *Awful*. If you didn't get the single, thin (as Rex rightly pointed out) gimmick, you didn't get the puzzle. Period. That defeats the very idea of a crossword puzzle, in which the solution for one word depends on those for other words. To add insult to injury, if, as I did, you look up the gimmick with Rex and enter properly the ®, the online app at the end tells you you're wrong! Another Sunday wasted and ruined.

SteveDubs 12:10 PM  

This was almost a clever puzzle-- I got FRISBEE(R)GOLF first, and thought it would be a letter added to make something safe slightly dangerous or stupid, i.e. Frisbee beer golf, which would tie into the "don't sue us" theme. But alas, no...

jberg 12:16 PM  

Meh. I didn't figure out the theme until I read @Rex -- all I could think of was some word where you took out SUE (as in "Don't Sue Us!") and had an R left. But nothing. Ok puzzle otherwise, but:

SUN-DRIED TOMATO? There is such a thing, but on an ingredients list? "Be sure to have a SUN-DRIED TOMATO" on hand, in case some recipe calls for it." No. Only in the plural.

On the other hand, I have to defend TERSE. It is not the reply -- i.e., when asked for a 3-adjective description, you don't reply "terse." It's a description of your reply -- i.e., since you said only three words, your reply was TERSE. Not much of a joke still, but not so bad as a clue.

But hey, we're here on Captiva, time to put away the computer and get some sun.

AliasZ 12:28 PM  

Look what I found AS OFTEN o'clock last night? A part, a droit, a oki, Roman emperors and other sundries: tomato, an alto cumulus (but no tenor cirrus), and seven registered ™s. This puzzle wouldn't have been published in the Good Old Days® when brand names were not allowed in NYT puzzles. But with the greatly diminished circulation of The New York Times®, any free advertising via her puzzles is most welcome by the respective corporations -- I assume they did not pay for it. Long live commercialism!

Missed opportunities to rake in advertising $$$: HoHos®, Oreo®, EPCOT of Walt Disney World®, Nerf®, Polo Ralph Lauren®, Toro®, Estée Lauder®, Model-T Ford®, Stella Artois® and The Cincinnati Reds®. Did I miss any?

I am sure this one was accepted due to the passion for table tennis of Will Shortz®. Clever ruse, Tom McCoy!

Marie de France was a medieval poet probably born in France but living in England in the late 12th century. She translated Aesop's fables, wrote "Legend of the Purgatory of St. Patrick," and composed lais, twelve of which are collected into "The Lais of Marie of France". The subject of the one titled "Lai du Chèvrefeuille" (honeysuckle) is about TRISTATE and Iseult.

Enjoy your Sundry!

Has anyone ever sun-dried one tomato?

Fred Romagnolo 12:33 PM  

West Coast edition had the circles - I can see how their absence would be VERY confusing.

old timer 12:58 PM  

I agree. A theme on a Sunday should help you get answers you otherwise would not get. This theme did not, because the answers were all obvious from the crosses. Or sometimes the clues: "TEFLON R PRESIDENT went right in. All I knew was for some reason the across R's were not used, while the down ones were. Had to some here to get the Fuller Explanation.

I do kind of wonder if PINGPONG is still a valid trademark. I think it isn't, anymore.

I've never seen that TERSE joke and hope I never will again. And I am still mystified by YOLO. It's a county in California, home to UC Davis. What else can it mean?

Matt 1:31 PM  

I thought the 3 adjective terse joke was very amusing. Just me huh?

noreen 1:37 PM  

YOLO = you only live once, so carpe diem! I must have seen it used at some point but that escapes me now.

Masked and Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Darn near Sunday Crossword of the Centaury. Almost talkin Universal Uclick acclaim, here. Fun and kinda feisty. Only minor stuff, holdin this puppy back …

M&A Dumb Dumb Bullets ® -
* Hidden (anagram title) theme: Don't Use U's! Towit:
A = 27
E = 53
I = 24
O = 39
U = 6 (the John Kasich of vowels).
* 71 of 140 answers with PBUI, but ...
* fave weeject and moment of supreme desperation: EWS. 100% NYTPuz debut meat. Now, that's what's up, dude,
* Fuzzy duplication vibe: HEHE. HES. HOHO. ha®
* Themer POPSICLER STICK. Outlier, in that it has too much credibility, as a possible real thing. Sorta like SWIZZLER STICK. Or TWIZZLER CANDY. Or SIZZLER SALADBAR.


p.s. Connect the ® dots, and U get a sorta fat-assed version of the Big Dipper. So, ok.


Z 1:53 PM  

"Honey, I'm going to the store for some milk. Do we need anything else?"
"Yes, we need celery, carrot, Swiss chard, and SUN DRIED TOMATO for this new recipe I'm trying."

Group nouns, because English ain't confusing enough.

@unknown12:10 - When I do play FRISBEE®GOLF it is usually FRISBEE BEE® GOLF. Your theme is fatter than today's offering. Kudos.

PPP Analysis

36/140, 26%

PPP explanation
PPP are clue/answer pairs involving Pop Culture, Product Names, or other Proper nouns. The math is the number of these types of answers divided by the answer count of the puzzle. Anything in the 25% range is not going to generate much hate. At 33%+ there is a high likelihood that some subset of solvers are going to dislike the puzzle. Which subset will depend on lots of other factors. Early week (easier) puzzles seem less likely to generate hard feelings.

kobryon 2:06 PM  

Yolo =

GILL I. 2:19 PM  

@Nancy: As usual, reading your post elicits a giggle...
Here's one I remember - especially after a martini or two:
All that we retain
We must maintain
Se we should refrain
From the inane
So we can sustain
Without blame.
How's that for some useless shit?

Unknown 2:30 PM  

Easy? Not so for me. The theme ‘registered’ (HE, HE, HO, HO) while solving and it helped. Other comments seem to have covered just about everything pro and con.

The LONE exceptions:

I think “Neophyte” as clue for an answer that crossed NEO as an answer was…well?….just wrong.

TRI-STATE has always meant (to me) NY, NJ, CT.

@Martín Abresch 3:14 AM – Coffee spit comment of the day!!

OH, YES. I bet know Y M&A would love UTURN.



Slow Motion 2:44 PM  

For @Old Timer: YOLO means "You Only Live Once". For @Rex: these aren't just registered trademarks. They are trademarked items that were in such widespread use that they became generic terms, much to their manufacturer's regret.

While I thought the puzzle was a bit easy for a Sunday, I liked the clues and was not at all disappointed by the theme.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

You miss the point of Sun-dried Tomato. It's "left out" in the sun to dry.

Todd Herrmann 2:53 PM  

I figured out the missing Rs pretty quickly, but based on 1 across, and today being the time change and all, I thought the theme was a terrible pun based on losing an hour of sleep (skip an R = Lose an R of sleep = Lose an hour of sleep?)... I kept trying to think of ways to make the pun work better but never did, and figured the "Don't sue us" meant not to sue them for the terrible pun. I never would have guessed registered trademarks, and I think my theme works better, especially on THE DAY OF THE END OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS.

I'm going to pretend my idea is the real theme.

Tita 3:28 PM  

@AliasZ - My little kitchen garden has, in most years, offers me but a LONE TOMATO, so I could very easily be the producer of just one SUNDRIED.

@Z - having never heard of FRISBEEGOLF, much less disc golf, but I'll wager that the only reason they call it 'disc' is the 'money-making' part of it. Wham-O would be after their hides if a pro org used their name sans licensing deals.

puzzle hoarder 3:31 PM  

I occasionally thought that you could incorporate those trademark RSVPS into puzzle entries and now here it is. I didn't really get the theme until after I finished. While solving I quickly realized that the circled spaces all had RSVPS in them. After finishing I took a moment to figure out the theme. It took about as much time as deciphering YOLO which like solving the rest of the puzzle wasn't much at all. Like so many Sunday puzzles this one was good for brushing up on your crosswordese so it can help you solve the Fridays and Saturdays.

'mericans in Paris 3:33 PM  

Nancy -- I'd love to hear you reciting The Raven. One of my favorite poems!

Ben Eggenberger 3:48 PM  

I *NEED* Sunday puzzles to be challenging. I look forward to this puzzle all week and now after a boring 15 minutes I'm done?!?? Very sad.

Nancy 3:51 PM  

Some funny comments here today. And two of them are based on KLEENEX. @Tita -- Your KLEENEX in Portugal story is a howl. @Anon 9:39 am: What an unusual way to define "snooty"! I never thought of it that way. I bet no one else did either. @GILL -- I also groan when I see tiny little circles, and I didn't even have your boss. I do think the circles worked today in helping some solvers figure out the theme. Alas, I wasn't one of them.

Unknown 4:13 PM  

Sigh, I started doing NYT puzzles about 6 years ago. Once, sitting out outside of a Starbucks, guy mentioned how they got harder through the week Hmm I said really? At that point, for me, they were all hard. Now... kinda boring almost every day. Psi Psi Star.

Ellen 4:42 PM  

I seem to be among a distinct minority who really liked this puzzle. It took me a while to see the theme, but when I did I groaned aloud and quickly filled in the other theme clues.

Had a lot more fun with it than yesterday's, that's for sure.

(And yes, as Anonymous said, sun-dried tomatoes are "left out" in the sun. That's how you get 'em.)

Babs 5:50 PM  

And I also spent way too much time trying to figure out the theme after blazing through the puzzle. I was stumped until Rex revealed it, but since I solve on Sat. it was hours of me believing I was stupid until he and you convinced me otherwise. At one point my brain even went to "sue" and "r" could it have something to do with a sewer? I even connected the r's and decided the picture was of a manhole cover. That's how insane I became. Thank you all for affirming my sanity

Aketi 6:51 PM  

Sigh, I did ge the theme right away because I wasted my Friday at a meeting for licensure of my profession where we almost reached a compromise. It eventually fell apart completely over a circled r issue. The Assembly woman took pictures prematurely probably hoping to use them for a press release about the progress she had made on the bill. The New Yorkers in the room were so fed up with the representatives from our national organization that we started claiming infringement of states rights and how proud we were of New York values. @z, we'did not resort to Donald Trumo aomments abouttaking people out and no physical altercations ensued.

So the love I was feeling fir POPCYCLE STICKS and FRISBEEs and PING PONG was diminished by the circled Rs. My 83 year old highly competitive aunt is back playing PINGPONG again after being twice banned from playing at her local senior center. She was banned from playing doubles after she wiped out her partner in a diving leap to hit the ball. They still let her play singles until she did the same sort of move in a game and ended u breaking her hip. I'm sure they banned her because of fears of law suits,

@LMS, loved your avatar to today.,

leah712 8:26 PM  

@Todd Herrmann: I thought along those lines too (see my comment at 11:23). I'm glad I wasn't the only one.

Chim cham 9:18 PM  

Whoa, zing! Lol.

OISK 10:51 PM  

I know the abbreviation YOLO only from the puzzle. However, a clue like " ___tengo" would have amused me. NOOB???? Shouldn't it be NEWB ? I eventually got it, but don't like it.

Otherwise, caught on to the theme right away, and finished the whole puzzle on the IRT. Even had time to do most of the cryptic. I enjoyed the puzzle, although I agree with others that the theme was weak.

Almost a clean three weeks for me, ruined by the word "Dap" on Monday.

Purple Pride 1:15 AM  

I did a puzzle from the Sacramento Bee which contains the following:
Antelope (ELAND)
Bay window (ORIEL)
Soak flax (RET)
Wings (ALAE)
Soap plant (AMOLE)
Town in Maine (ORONO)
Wall pier (ANTA)
Gaelic (ERSE)
Mine basket (CORF)

For all the complaints the NYT puzzle gets here, it could be a lot worse!

wordswordswords 4:07 AM  

I thought this was a sly nod to Parker stealing NYTimes puzzles. Each long answer is registered.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Just addressing the difficulty-level (and nothing else): I believe that Will Shortz has said, or at least I think he has, that of the average 4 Sunday puzzles per month (yes, I know, some months have 5 Sundays!), he likes to publish: 1 relatively easy puzzle, 2 mediums (for a Sunday), and 1 pretty darned hard.


Z 9:19 AM  

@Tita - Wham-O has been a little fusty at times with it's trademark. Besides that, discs are just one of their products so they don't put as much energy on improvements as companies like Discraft or Innova. I don't know about disc golf, but showing up to an Ultimate field with a Wham-O is like having NOOB tattooed in big letters on your forehead.

@OISK - It's slang so spelling rules are even more incoherent than usual, but "newb" might be interpreted as "newbie," another common slang for a rookie. Also, NOOB does rhyme with "boob."

Eddie 3:42 PM  

I can still do Lochinvar, but only because Sister Saint Martial had the sixth grade class (in 1953) sing the poem. Funny how some things stick in memory. Once upon a ... Only gets me past ... and nothing more. I'd listen.

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

Hello. I'm wondering how so many people solved the puzzle themelessly. In each of the theme clues there was an extra letter that made the answer not work. The only way it worked was to stumble on the R from a down clue and then put 2+2 together (don't sue us" and the idea that the R symbol was a trademark or copyright or whatever). Otherwise wouldn't you conclude the puzzle didn't work and that you had a bunch of wrong answers?

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

@Anonymous I personally spotted the theme immediately. Maybe that's why it was so easy.

Ben Eggenberger 2:20 PM  

@Purple Pride -- No Mine Entrance (ADIT)?!?! :-)

Toltriaco 2:18 PM  

ONCE AGAIN the International NYT version screwed up the theme and wrote "Don't Sue Use". Given that the theme was already weak to begin with, imagine my confusion (and subsequent frustration...)!

Toltriaco 2:19 PM  

ONCE AGAIN the International NYT version screwed up the theme and wrote "Don't Sue Use" so I thought there would be some word scramble going on. Imagine my confusion (and frustration).....

spacecraft 12:10 PM  

I got all the way to the last one--TEFLON, etc. before I finally realized they were all trademarks. PINGPONG too? Didn't know that. And BTW, a PINGPONG TABLE is hardly a "fixture." A fixture--by the very definition of the word "fixed"--is not (or certainly not easily) removable. It is part of the infrastructure. This is a very bad clue word in this case.

Being too cocksure of my long downs caused a lot of squares to be written over. Source of two months: ROMAN--? Why, mythology, of course. I was down to the L till I noticed that unless "MYTHOLOG" was a thing I was in deep doo-doo. And my SUNDRIED thing was a raisin. Sorry, TOMATO. You know I will always love you. Anyway, soon repaired. I guess for the false starts and the delay in realizing the significance of the R's, it would nudge this over into easy-medium. We don't ASOFTEN see HEHE and HOHO in the same grid; was Tom trying to convince us that the joke at 104-down is funny? Well, not all THAT funny. Best long down, without question: LOOKWHATIFOUND! Now there's an entry you can really BITEINTO. B.

Kevin 2:33 PM  

Figured out the entire puzzle in 59 minutes, but couldn't rationalize the "R"s... Until I read it here.

Burma Shave 3:03 PM  


STELLA’s up to some HIJINKS, or I HOPESO, she SAT there it seems.
If IAM TOBEFAIR, she looks dapper, OHYES, in her birthday SOOT,
so for ASOFTEN as I’ll TAPPER, first I’ll BORER with my CHEROOT.


rain forest 3:13 PM  

After 8 days of absence from the NYT xword (in Palm Springs), I started somewhat slowly, and then hit TUPPERWARE (R) PARTY, and wondered about that 'extra' R. Moving down the East side, I came to FRISBEE(R)GOLF, and thought that was a thing. The only times I've played that game, beer was part of the deal. Cool name.

XEROX(R)MACHINE gave me the small aha moment, and at that point I thought the idea was somewhat elegant in that when you have circles in a puzzle, usually the encircled letters spell out something, but here the letter AND the circle are the theme. Equally cool. Liked it as well as the long downs, a few challenging clue/entries, and the lack of iffy fill.

I think people like Palm Springs for the weather and golf. Since I no longer play golf (shoulder issues), the warm (hot) weather was the draw. But I did like the Joshua Tree National Park, the tramway up Mt. San Jacinto, the art museum and the whole downtown thing including the Village Fest. However, unless my shoulder improves, I don't think it is a worth a reprise. Mind you, getting back to Vancouver and the rain, I might rethink that opinion.

rondo 3:41 PM  

Got the ® trick at TUPPERWARE®PARTY then filled in all of the themers except VELCRO®STRAP. Other than the long down answers, much of rest of the fill was just a downer. IDO ITISI IAM HEHE ATA TORO HOHO POLO YOLO OHYES. Isao AOKI should get royalties for the number of times he gets used. And Ed ASNER.

But today is RONS day. First time plural that I can recall. But as clued, half of the two was a TEFLON®PRESIDENT.

OHYES, the late YMA Sumac is a LOCKE as the only yeah baby as clued. STELLA!!!! coulda been a contender. See what I did there?

This puz wasn’t STELLAr, and TOBEFAIR it set me up for an hour’s nap, I was playing on the PINGPONG®TABLE ATA PARTY until 2:00 AM, so I needed it.

Diana,LIW 6:58 PM  

The theme eluded me, so a technical dnf. Like that the circle and the R are one piece - clever, says me. I often show Mr. Waiting the puzzle themes and he groans - today included. (He thot the "Malady" one the other day was worthy of a law suit.)

Yes, easy for a Sunday - I do believe WS puts in an easy one now and then so beginners can get the feel of a Sunday.

Enjoyable puzzle w/o a lot of outstanding susses. Back in the 70's I spent a couple of mind-numbing days copying files, page by page (no feeders back then) for my boss, who was in a law suit. My other boss took me to lunch, and bought me a drink.

Rainy - I see you're back. On the other side of Mt S J is a little town called Idyllwild. Very quaint and woodsy. When I lived in San Diego we would drive there and then hike to the top of the mountain - breathtaking views to the ocean. If you do go back, Idyllwild is worth a trip. Best mountain view I ever had was Revelstoke in BC. Like being on top of the world. Drive up the mountain, then take a shuttle to the top. And another sweet town to visit.

Now, off to the LAT puz

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Sunday Crosswords

Cathy 7:00 PM  

Could not figure out what was up with the Rs. I tried connecting them like @Babs (above) but didn't go as far as sewer manhole cover. That was funny.

Y whenever I see YMA does my brain think Yo Yo Ma. @rondos yeah baby. I first thought huh?

I had a TUPPERWARE R PARTY in my late teens. No one showed up. Called my buddies at the local bar (yep, fake id). They brought beer and bought nothing. I ended up buying a deviled egg container (which I kept for years, never used) cuz I felt so bad for the sales lady rep. Never again.

@rain forest- Happy you had a nice vacation!

@Burma Shave- Hilarious:)

Unknown 7:19 PM  

All the Oreos I've ever seen or eaten are brown and white, not black.
It wouldn't be an issue if there wasn't a separate clue for another "brown and white treat".

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

Didn't like NOOB. I thought it was boob. Never have heard this slang but I'm getting older so what do I know? And the theme was a bit lost on me although I got it quickly.

alex harland 10:10 PM  

how come oreo, epcot, cheroot, estee, polo, etc. don't have their Rs? should they sue?

eastsacgirl 12:21 AM  

Never got the theme but finished anyway. Was ok for a Sunday but slightly boring.

Phillip Blackerby 5:42 PM  


Phillip Blackerby 5:44 PM  


Unknown 9:30 PM  

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