Milkman made famous by Zero Mostel / SUN 5-8-16 / Tricky start to tennis rally / 1982 coming-of-age movie / French suffix that's anagram of 4-Down / Second-largest moon of Uranus / Venetian dignitaries of old / Long-jawed fishes

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Trapped Moisture" ("Liquid Condensation" in the .puz version (!?)) — "H20" rebus with "HHO" in the Down and "Water" added to wacky Across themers:

Theme answers:
  • CHANGE YOUR [WATER] WAYS (27A: Advice to captains plagued by pirates?) / FIS[HHO]OKS
  • [WATER] MAIN COURSE (35A: Direction taken by a large pipe?) / GROWT[HHO]RMONE
  • DOGGY [WATER] BAG (63A: Container to keep a canine cool?) / WIT[HHO]NORS
  • HOT [WATER] WIRES (72A: Telegrams sent by those in trouble?) / RANC[HHO]USE
  • GOOD AS GOLD[WATER] (95A: Conservative's opinion of the Republican presidential candidates?) / JEWIS[HHO]LIDAY
Word of the Day: ESTH (98D: Tallinn native) —
• • •

This theme is familiar. Perhaps because I've done puzzles with very similar themes at least twice before—one of them a NYT Sunday from just three years ago. This one has the minor twist of having the WATER answers (the Acrosses) be wacky, but it's not clear that that is an improvement over Finn's puzzle from three years ago, and anyway, the WATER in the Across / HHO in the Down conceit is simply a retread. I don't have too much trouble with the NYT repeating theme concepts if a. the implementation is really different and b. there has been a good amount of time between puzzles. Neither is really the case here. The wacky WATER answers were all pretty dull except GOOD AS GOLD[WATER], which puts WATER in an unexpected context. I don't even know what a "water bag" is (DOGGY [WATER] BAG). I also don't know what an ESTH is. Perhaps this is because they don't exist (see Word of the Day definition, above). They are bygone. Archaic. "Ancestors" of current Estonians. As if ESTH isn't bad enough as an answer, we have to endure this quintessentially Maleskan clue nonsense? Yikes. Just admit you have a biblical abbr. there and move along.


Cluing was either a little harder than usual or just generationally or otherwise slightly beyond my comfort zone. Missteps included ERIN for EIRE (4D: Samuel Beckett's homeland), OPEN for BITE (18A: Dentist's requent), ONION for BACON (18D: Burger topper), "DIG IT!" for "DID IT!" (53A: "Ta-da!"). I do not really know Steve KROFT (except perhaps by sight) (41D: Longtime "60 Minutes" reporter), so that whole RE MI (ugh) / KROFT area was tough for me. Do you have a single WILE? (73D: Magician's skill)?? Just seems weird. Not ESTH-weird, but weird. I have never ever heard of TROY weight (119A: ___ weight). That was my last letter, I think (the "R"). I would never call the [Noggin] a NOB, but then I wouldn't use "Noggin" either. As for "-IERE" ... man alive. As one crossword writer / editor told me last night: "Ugh, 104A. That was something outta suffix torture porn." But when your themer arrangement locks you into G-H--, you're asking for trouble. Actually, you're asking for GEHRY (97D: Designer of Spain's Guggenheim Museum) or GCHAT or cartoonist GAHAN Wilson. It's limiting, is what I'm saying. Anyway, -IERE is at the top of the Crossword No-Fly List. In red letters. And don't go trying to clue it as a part of a famous palindrome—I'm not falling for that.

Here is a puzzle you should do. It's called "Squished Bugs" and it's by solving / constructing phenom Erik Agard. It plays like a very clever, very tricky Thursday. So eventually you'll get the gimmick, and you'll "finish" the puzzle and you'll think "that was really good." And then ... maybe you'll notice ... something ... about one of the puzzle's answers ... but enough hints. Just go solve. The solver response to this one has been really remarkable. (I recommend solving in .puz / AcrossLite, though you can print out the .PDF and solve it with a pen/pencil, no problem)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Looks like a bunch of people are getting Naticked at K.T. OSLIN (83A: Country music's K. T. ___) / Mark van DOREN. (63D: Poet Mark Van ___). I knew both, but I sympathize, and agree: those are not names that should be crossing. OSLIN was briefly well known, I think, in the '80s / '90s (?), and Mark Van DOREN won a Pulitzer for poetry, but that was a long time ago (1940) and really, how many Pulitzer winners for poetry can you name? That's not to say that their names don't belong in puzzles—they do! But don't cross them with other marginal names at hard-to-infer letters.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 12:29 AM  

Before discussing today's puzzle by @David Kahn, who happens to be one of my favorite constructors, thanks @Rex for recommending @Erik Agard's puzzle. Definitely deserving the accolades.

I had to laugh at GOOD_AS_GOLD(water). Way back when @Barry Goldwater was the GOP nominee for President, those partial to LBJ came up with this trolling slogan: "Gold(H2O) in '64; Hot H2O in '68; Bread & H2O in '72." I also approve entries like JEWIS(H_HO)LIDAY and GROWT(H_HO)RMONE, which are not only clever, but also help suss out the theme.

It was amusing to see SEAS (clued as "Expanses of H2O") so close in the grid to SALT(H2O)_OF_THE_EARTH. I wasn't SO_SO fond of A_LINE and FINE_LINE in the same puzzle, but at least those were quite far from each other.

With so many other ways to clue HOTEL, was it necessary to give product placement to the 2016 presumptive GOP nominee? However, it looks like @David Kahn tried to be FAIR, mentioning one of the Obama daughters, as well as JFK's secretary of state.

Unknown 1:57 AM  

Sometimes (quite often, actually) it seems apparent that you just don't like Shortz or the NYT or you have some kind of agenda, because the faults you find are unbelievable. 3 years is not long enough to repeat a theme? For pity's sake.

jae 2:30 AM  

Medium once I caught the rebus. My solve was again very similar to @Rex's except I knew TROY. I thought it was mildly amusing and thus fairly typical for a Sun. So, liked it more than @Rex did, but he makes some good points.

Unknown 3:48 AM  

DNF due to four squares at HOT WATER _I_ES (Telegrams sent by those in trouble?), DO_E_ (Poet Mark Van ___), _I_E (Magician's skill), and OS_I_ (Country music's K.T. ___). Wanted the perfectly cromulent HOT WATER LINES. Had no idea on the proper names. Was angry when I saw that WILE was an answer.

I usually don't mind too much if I don't finish. Sometimes I just don't know things. But this puzzle just made me feel like it just didn't want me to finish it. Do you know OLEANNA and NEALS? Well, aren't you a smart one. How about TROY and GEHRY? Lucky guess. KROFT and ORONO? Okay then, OSLIN and DOREN? What!? You don't know K.T. OSLIN and Mark Van DOREN? Hahahahaha, you idiot, hahahahaha I beat you.

You know that your crossword is crying out in pain when you use cheater squares in the corners and all it gets you is ESTH and OSOS.

It wasn't all bad. I liked the down themers. I liked GOOD AS GOLDWATER. I liked TRANSITION (Go from male to female or vice versa). I liked MOLES crossing MINING. I liked FINE LINE and TOOL BELT.

chefwen 3:50 AM  

It took me forever and than some to get through this, must have put it down and picked it back up again about 10 times. Big sigh of relief when I finally put the lid on it.

I knew something was up with GROWTH HORMONE and WITH HONORS but had a whee of a time figuring out which letters would get squished into one box. Sure do love that lightbulb AHA moment.

Never heard of a DOGGY H2O BAG, but I'm sure my guys would like to have one.

Claim to fame - When I was a teenager in Milwaukee, I worked as a nurses aide in a nursing home and WOODY HERMAN's father, Otto, was one of the patients I helped care for. Sweet little guy.

SALT H2O OF THE EARTH was my stand out favorite. Cute puzzle that occupied the better half of the afternoon.

Charles Flaster 4:23 AM  

Agree with Rex about 80%.
Only bump was SLUR. Had RaSH HOURS.
Liked cluing for ABET, KARATE, INTER, and SLICE SERVE.
Lots of necessary CROSSWORDease--EERO, BRR, HAWED, and OSOS.
TEE for timeout was given new meaning when Tommy Heinsohn called one.
DINER is a true movie classic especially the football memory scene.
Thanks JDK.

Loren Muse Smith 5:25 AM  

Man oh man was this high octanely hard for me. Finally saw the trick at SALT OF THE EARTH/RUSH HOUR. Honestly, I smelled a condensation rebus at 26A – wanted "hemmed" or some such. As soon as I got the trick, I remembered Finn's puzzle but not how it worked. I'm with Rex, though; I don't mind repeated themes, but since I have a mind like a steel colander, I don't care if there's a not good amount of time in between.

I enjoyed this challenge. And I mean toward the end, I was fighting for every single square. HOT WIRES was the last to fall, and even then I had a dnf because of the OSLIN/DOREN cross. I actually guessed "Oslie/Doree" there. And I forgot to go back and guess at the TROY/GEHRY cross. Probably would've guessed a "u" there.

The clue for TOSS OUT made me pause. How cool that that phrase can have two such different meanings.

Early on, I was thinking the pirate answer would involve the HOT WATER.

The biggest mess I had to fix was "rewrites" for REDRAFTS. And the clue for RUINED was really, really tough.

Yesterday on the phone two phrases with the HHO pattern came up: my daughter SAGE'S account of an epic snorer in a youth hostel, and my husband was talking about whether I could learn how to bush hog some big fields in a couple of years. Could end badly.

And fwiw, some JEWISH HOLIDAYS are high holidays. Cool.

Anyone else notice a palindrome? Yeah – we weren't that impressed with the grizzlies; they were smallish and timid. SO SO OSOS, if you ask me.

@Jamie C from yesterday. I swear. Taleggio is probably my favorite cheese. I would think Père Joseph would be more objectionable.

@kitshef from yesterday – good point on the shy guys. The people I'm talking about are not shy, and the two women I was thinking of (*not* our Marion here!) never shut up about their goings on.

@RAD2626 – loved your "I've talked enough about my kids. Why don't you talk about my kids for a while?" Unbelievable Putin story – you really spent a day with him?

Really challenging Sunday puzzle. I really liked it.

Lewis 6:46 AM  

For a short while, I felt like I was treading HHO, but the theme hit me, and the solve quickened, though the cluing had much delightful bite. I liked the two-way rebus, and the grid was mostly clean, especially for a Sunday. I don't know how DEANRUSK popped into my mind; amazing the things in our mind's vault. STETS is a cool palindrome, and I like REOS close to its anagram SORE. Good clues for ITIS and SAD and answers I liked included FINELINE, THEHUSTLER (thinking about this movie always makes me smile), and HOSER.

This one felt good to conquer. No witHHOlding here, I enjoyed the experience. Thank you, David!

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

TROY weight is commonly used for precious metals, in contrast to our common avoirdupois system---how could you never have heard of these, Rex? There are far obscurer weights that appear in puzzles....

I was also surprised you didn't comment on the OSLIN-DOREN cross: I had to guess the N. Is either of these names supposed to be commonly known???

chefbea 7:26 AM  

Made no sense to me!! Couldn't do it Thought we'd maybe have a Mother's day theme

Happy mother's day to all

PG Bartlett 7:48 AM  

Delightfully difficult! I love finding a rebus in a Sunday puzzle - it adds some zing to Sunday solving, which is typically long on time but short on "Aha!" moments.

Aketi 8:04 AM  

So once I got the theme, which was early, I wanted to find the source of what RUINED any possibility of our celebrating a certain JEWISH HOLIDAY this year. There were HHO WAYS, MAINS, and BAGS, but no pipes. The Monday before the holiday, I heard some gurgling in the HHO pipes but ignored it while I was finishing up reports on my MAC PRO when the super started banging on the door. He had on his TOOL BELT along with a huge TOOL box and ran into the kitchen which was covered in three inches of black as tar, smelly sludge. The adjoining bathroom was no better; the entire tub was filled with the gooey stuff. Of all the cleaning that ensued: the mopping of the floor, the scrubbing of the tub, and the washing of dust that coated every surface, dish, jar, cookbook, etc ,after the super sawed open the wall to get to the pipes, was nothing in comparison to the biggest clean up. For reasons no human could possibly understand both cats enthusiastically ran into the pool of black goo to inspect it. They both have four white paws.

My husband (who is Jewish) did not mind postponing Passover until next year since he isn't big on holiday celebrations anyway. Even though I'm not Jewish I did miss it, but concluded that it was impossible to be able to get ready to hop on the Saturday morning plane to California for spring break college tours and prepare a Passover dinner. So I consoled myself with the fact that at least the kitchen was thoroughly cleansed and maybe I'll be forgiven if Elijah gets two cups of wine next year. I expect that the cats, however, will never forgive me.

@Rex, GOLDHHO is a name.not a "thing". SALT HHO, and HHO MAIN, WAY, and BAG are "things". So I had the opposite reaction to yours.

Hartley70 8:09 AM  

@Rex, I guess you're not a "60 Minutes" fan. It's Steve KROFT. I'm not surprised. It skews old and has been losing its edge lately. I miss Bob Simon and Mike and Morley.

What? No Mother's Day theme! I'm feeling slighted WS.

I agree with the difficulty rating. It took me forever to get through this even after I grasped the HHO rebus. The longer answers were a little off center for me...or I was off center for them, to avoid throwing any shade on Mr. Kahn. As Sundays go, this was way above average because it never got tedious and Sunday badly needs its average difficulty level raised. As a Maleska era young solver who sometimes took days to finish Sunday, it seems that Sunday's have gotten much easier or I have gotten smarter. I'm quite sure it's the former.

Lobster11 8:13 AM  

I'm pretty much with Rex word-for-word, right down to us having the same final letter.

My primary criterion for liking a theme, retread or not, is whether sussing it out helps me with the rest of the solve. This theme certainly passed that test, and the "whacky" phrases were mildly amusing, but geez, there was an awful lot of ugly junk in the fill.

Lewis 8:34 AM  

@loren -- "...mind like a steel colander..." -- Great one!

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

No Mother's Day theme, but a sprinkling of Kentucky Derby nods, which was impressive! Cute theme, not hard to solve. Wasn't sure how to spell Gehry but knew the answer so got the crosses. Oslin snd Van Doren both unknown to me but Van Doren is not an unheard-of name so since I had "Van Dore_" my guess was right. Rex often surprises me when he complains about not knowing things. Fewer puzzles, more actual reading would probably help, but then... Fewer puzzles, nooooo.... Maybe just less sleep?

Unknown 8:40 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Started out slowly. Once I figured out the Water and HHO theme I had little trouble and finished quickly.

jberg 9:05 AM  

Running ARIOT! We've been getting so many of these that I first read 2D as A-TWAR, much to my puzzlement.

This one started easy with SAGES/SASHA leading to that whole corner, then stalled with the first theme answer, making me doubt RE MI at 50A. I think I finally got the rebus with 46D, then it was easy again -- except for the REwriteS and 'open' misdirects.

All for not -- it's Mother's Day, after all.

Teedmn 9:09 AM  

@Martin Abresch said it all for me regarding the 63D/83A cross, including the HOT WATER lInES.

I thought I was going to have a second DNF section in the TRANSITION GEHRY area because I had a Chamber worker abbr. as STR as in a chamber orchestra. The theme saved me - I had the G from GOLDWATER and the H from EARTH, giving me GEHRY which made FAIR, TROY and SEN all come together.

I don't mind that the theme was *just* done in 2013, and the two, GOOD AS GOLD H2O and SALT H2O OF THE EARTH were worth the 43 minutes it took me to DNF :-). And I think 38D could be clued as "Spicy online Buffalo chicken dish". 52D sounds like some kind of salad dressing. Did anyone else struggle with what is usually a gimme (AGRA) because ACRE was fresh in their mind? And we had the A- words of choice today with ANEW, A-LINE and ARIOT (and the other, not so obvious A-JAR, A-BLY, A-NITA, A-BET, A-INT, A-TRIA, A-NA, A-TALL, A-GRA, A-TWAR, and my favorite, A-SYLA.)

Thanks, David Kahn

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

I thought perhaps the doggy (water) bag was a doggy (ice) bag but it seems odd this would be the only use of the frozen form of H2O in the puzzle.

Tita 9:21 AM  

It took me a *really* long time to wrestle that whole HOT mess section to the ground...
HOTnotes? HOTWords? I finally threw in DOREN, because I have heard of Mamie and Charles.

Unusual for me, since I rarely remember a puzzle -even one I loved, but I DID indeed remember a beautifully executed puzzle with this theme a ways back, and remembered how mind-blowing lay clever I thought it was. So maybe it was the DOOGYHOOBAGiness of this implementation that gave me a sour taste, and led me to perhaps unfairly not like it so much.

But still, all the good stuff folks have been saying...and, as @Lobster said, the theme helped the solve, which makes it fun.

re: Shyness from yesterday...
@kitshef...really good point.
@everyone...when you're lucky enough to meet our @lms, you will see firsthand why she made the comment she did.
She includes everyone at the table in the conversation, asking about them in such engaging ways that you would never feel uncomfortable or reluctant.
Get this...she ACTUALLY LISTENS to your answers!! Remember her little bios of each of us after ACPT? They were spot-on...cain't do that if you ain't listening. (Except for mine, of course...she misremembered a much more interesting person...!)

Ok...I'm in a much better mood now.
Thanks, Mr. Kahn, for the new twist. Oh...and thanks for finding the most obnoxious way to clue HOTEL... I had been getting worried that The Donald had not been getting enough tributes.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Anyone remember Mamie Van Doren? Thought the puzzle was pretty clever. never seen the theme before, nor would I have cared if I had. Rex is very picky these days.

Z 9:34 AM  

Thanks to the mile wide/inch deep data base I possess, DOREN went in easily even though I'm pretty sure I've never read any of his poems. GEHRY is actually someone I'm a little more familiar with, but that Y was my last letter in.

I was thinking it should be DOGGY (ICE)BAG, but no other themes work with (ICE) or (STEAM), so definitely a suboptimal themer there.

@David Krost - I'm thinking three years is the minimum amount of time between similar themes. I didn't remember the specific puzzle, but if you had asked me as I solved I would have said the theme had been done within the past year. I was surprised to find it had been three.

I, too, noticed the politically ecumenical nature of the puzzle. Someone to annoy everyone.

Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Noun Analysis

38/142, 27%. If it weren't for the naticky OSLIN/DOREN crossing the PPP would barely be worth discussing. The movies tend to skew old, but we also get Slumdog Millionaire. We get KROFT, but also SASHA Obama and Rafael NADAL. We get a 1992 play from Mamet and a 2011 movie from Marvel. Not too much and decently balanced, if all PPP were like this I'd have never started tracking it.

jberg 9:59 AM  

Be sure to look at Hayley Gold's comic, on the May 3 puzzle -- they are always great, but the last panel in this one is something special.

billocohoes 10:45 AM  

VAN DOREN was ok but I still naticked OSLIN because I wouldn't accept a single WILE. Didn't help that I started with LANGE, forgetting that's k d __ and not K.T.

Not sure I think of Passover as a HOLIDAY rather than a Holy Day.

Nancy 10:51 AM  

Loved it! My favorite rebuses are always the ones that work differently in the Acrosses and Downs. And the difficulty was increased by the fact that the Across "water" answers were not at all obvious in the playful, unexpected water-added puns. I was 3/4 of the way through the puzzle, with just about everything done but the theme answers, when I belatedly figured it out (at WITH HONORS/DOGGY WATERBAG). I was having fits with that cross, because I initially had DOGGie. Early mistakes: at 90A and 90D, I had ICED/IRED instead of SEWN/SORE. At 122A, I had RUST before ROAN. At 81A, I had YEEOW before YOWIE. And at 47A, I had musical SCORE before musical SCALE.

My favorite theme answer was GOOD AS GOLDWATER and my favorite non-theme answer was SLICE SERVE. I also liked FINE LINE at 61A, because it gives me a chance to alert you to a wonderful song from "Avenue Q": "It's a fine, fine line." Composer/lyricist Bobby Lopez, whom I know from the BMI Workshop, is best known for his great wit -- he is hysterically funny -- but this shows him to have great melody chops, too. If you've never heard the song, go listen. It'll give you an earworm, I promise.

QuasiMojo 11:11 AM  

A bit of a slog today, although it did bring back memories of that great bumper sticker from 1964: "AU H20"

Mark Van Doren was also the father of the guy who got caught cheating on the TV game show, "Twenty-One", Charles Van Doren (see memorable movie version: "Quiz Show".) Although I too would have preferred Mamie Van Doren! :)

mac 11:12 AM  

I got the conceit fairly quickly, but this puzzle had some extra barbs. It took me longer than the usual Sunday.

@Loren: that is the best expression, a mind like a steel colander!

Nancy 11:21 AM  

To @Z and @kitshef (from yesterday)-- You're absolutely right, re no rapper in the puzzle. I misread "rocker" for rapper. Maybe I was just looking for trouble -- a chance to exercise one of my pet peeves. But truth to tell, it didn't make all that much difference, at least not to me. I don't listen to rockers any more than I listen to rappers. That ear-splitting, thumping bass! Those awful, scratchy, metallic-sounding electronic instruments! Those awful electronic instruments drowning out any chance of hearing the lyrics -- which may be just as well, since the lyrics seem to be comprised of one phrase, repeated ad infinitum. The indifference of the singer(s) to anything resembling enunciation. The microphone obscuring any possibility of lip-reading what's being caterwauled about. I don't hate all rock: "Like a Rolling Stone" is classic and timeless, simply great. The soft rock of "Spring Awakening" is extremely melodic, catchy and compelling. But most of it just gives me a headache. My apologies to Bob SEGER, if he's someone I might like. I'll go to YouTube and listen to him now.

johnnymcguirk 11:34 AM  

Never heard of Troy weight either, but I new Mark Van Doren from "Quiz Show. " He was Charles Van Doren's father, played by Paul Scofield, who was nominated for an academy award for the role.

Alicia Stetson 11:50 AM  

Thank God there was no mothers day theme. Enough already with the hallmark holidays. I mean, really, how hard is our to get knocked up?

Malsdemare 11:52 AM  

@LMS I haven't finished reading the comments, but oh, boy, do I know the steel colander business. DEAN RUSK was the first thing that popped into my head (wtf?), but had to ask the dog spoiler for the Dallas family and that I should know. I'm stealing the term, okay?

I liked the puzzle. It took up two slowly sipped cups of coffee, and started this grey day off well. The "aha" moment was a long time coming and only helped partially. HOTHHOWIRES was the last to come to life.

One of my offspring gave me a generous Amazon gift card so I'm going to find a fabulous book and read all day. Anyone have suggestions?

Jamie C 12:16 PM  

Oh @LMS, You can't fool me with your WILE. I'd rather drink from a DOG HHO BAG than eat taleggio.

orangeblossomspecial 12:22 PM  

The Sons of the Pioneers' immortal 'Cool Water' fits this puzzle nicely.

Like others, I'm disappointed there's no mother theme.

Jim Hendler 12:41 PM  

Took me a while to realize that "genericdrug" wasn't the correct 3-down...

relicofthe60s 12:47 PM  

Mark Van Doren is perhaps best known as the father of Charles Van Doren of quiz show scandal fame. Charles or Mamie might have been better clues, but I feel little sympathy for those naticked by his crossing K.T. Oslin when puzzles of which Rex approves constantly subject me to obscure rappers and other modern arcana. I enjoyed the puzzle and agree that three years is plenty of time between themes, especially for those of us who don't follow crosswords obsessively.

Andrew Heinegg 1:25 PM  

It is interesting to me how some puzzles get folks riled up. This one played easy for me except for that darn Troy weight, good as Goldwater area. I very much like Mr. Kahn as a constructor but, I did not think this was one of his better efforts.

My wife, the non-puzzle solver, was disappointed that there was no Mother's
Day theme unlike Alicia Stetson who offered a view of motherhood that one might expect from a certain presidential candidate. To each his or her own!

Masked and Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Worked it as a team, with PuzEatinSpouse. Had a few bumpy moments, before figurin out the WATERMAINCOURSE/GROWTHHORMONE moisture problem.

Smooth solve, with some entertainin desperation spots*, to keep M&A happy. Six U's is slightly dry, for a SunPuz, but, hey -- had fun. No bad crosses, for us.


* OLEANNA/NEALS/ASYLA/NAES was especially nice. ESTH/HOSER/OSOS also cool. 12 long themers will keep the desperation flowin like fine wine, usually.


Unknown 2:22 PM  

this was pretty hard but not annoying, even though some obscurity/arcaneness was difficult to navigate. lols are @ DOREN ASYLA and TROY

Tita 2:24 PM  

All this colander talk forces me top recount the following:

A colleague sent me an email... "Let me see what my colander looks like and I'll suggest some meeting times."

After ROTF, I composed myself, took a picture of a particularly nice enameled colander I picked up in Germany, and responded, "Mine looks like this... Oh...and next Wednesday morning is good for me."

Turns out he hadn't even noticed his autocorrect goof, so he called me to see if I was ok...made me ROTFLMAO for about 10 minutes.

Maybe you had to be there.

da kine 2:52 PM  

For the first time I can remember, I DNFed a Sunday. I got Naticked by the OSLIN/DOREN cross but guessed correctly, but I totally lost it in the northeast. TEVYE? I still don't think that's a word. I had FLOORMAT for tatami, HOT for sweaty, HALT for pause...I tried to erase and re-do for about five minutes before I said SCREW IT. Even looking at it with the grid filled in it still doesn't look right.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Has anyone figured out what Rex was talking about when he said there would be a surprise after solving the Squished Bugs puzzle he linked to? I finished the puzzle, but I didn't see anything particularly interesting in the solution.

puzzle hoarder 3:01 PM  

If you brought up a musician's wiles in any context other than a puzzle you'd be referring to their personal life. I checked the xwordinfo list and this marks the first time magician has been used to clue WILES. Magic hasn't been used either. Debut cluing seems like overkill on this section. LINES was such a good answer I never thought it could be wrong. Even with WIRE the last letter of the two names would have been tough.
I tried listening to the Oslin song in the review all the way through but couldn't take it. Straightening out that last puzzle section was the same way. I'm just not a theme fan.

Alan_S. 3:36 PM  

Best Sunday puzzle in months, maybe years!
Theme was clever and extremely well executed.
Entertaining, a bit challenging, and great ahas.
Rex is nuts for finding as much fault as he did.
Over the past few years they don't get much better than this!

Dolgo 3:47 PM  

Sometimes it's just not worth it!

Unknown 4:37 PM  

Gold is weighed in Troy ounces in which twelve ounces equal a pound. Therefore, an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of feathers (measured in Avoirdupois weights)

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

Actually did this yesterday as I'm a paper solver and we get part of the Sunday Times on Saturday. I finished after some struggling but with the age factor ((Van DOREN, Steve KROFT, DEANRUSK) in my favor did not have the issues of OFL. Definitely worth the struggle. Great theme.

Sorry no Mom factor. But Happy Mothers Day.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 5:03 PM  

Thanks for Hayley Gold heads up.

kitshef 5:11 PM  

Hardest Sunday I can recall, as much off the wavelength of the constructor as I was on yesterday.

Was actually surprised to find my grid was correct, with four Naticky spots (using that term loosely). KR_FT/_RONO, ORONO seemed vaguely familiar from previous xwords. Maybe after this it will stick better. OSLI_/DORE_, N seemed like the best bet esp. for the Down. SLU_/_EOS. Never heard of SLUR in that context, don't know cars, guessed at the R (seemed better than G which was my #2 option). EST_/_OSER. ESTH seemed impossible, and I don't think of a HOSER as being a rowdy - more like a doofus.

WATERBAG (or possibly DOGGYWATER) is an extreme outlier in that it does not exist.

Mohair Sam 5:50 PM  

Tough one, but thanks to Lady Mohair we whupped it. Thought the H20/Water thing seemed familiar, and Rex told us why. Very much agree with @Rex's comments today. A few of the themers were very clever (GOLDWATER), but most left me flat.

@Relicofth60s - Yeah, the only reason I knew Mark Van DOREN was his link to Charles - remember that from a movie. Mark is fine Saturday Clue, agree that Mamie or Charles are much nicer on a Sunday. OSLIN new to me too.

@Nancy - How dare you insult Bob SEGER! He's as pure American rock and roll as it gets. And you chose the occasion of his 70th birthday (give or take a day) to call him a rapper, and the following day rip his music in general. For shame. Without Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" Tom Cruise would be driving a truck. It is the second most played juke box song to Patsy Cline's "Crazy" - and don't you dare comment on Patsy. Harumph.

Z 7:12 PM  

@Anon2:59 - Look here. Everyone else, wait until you finish (or think you finished if you're solving offline) before reading the explanation.

BTW - This is the same puzzle I linked to late on Friday. I was surprised that Rex waited until today to point it out, considering his much stronger feelings on the matter.

@da kine - TEVYE

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

I believe Troy ounces were used in weighing jewelry.

I thought "iere" was clever and Esth made sense for people from Estonia (and the h was easy to get from Hoser!)

So as usual, I disagree with Rex! I found the puzzle challenging but fun.

old timer 8:04 PM  

I struggled through this one and in the end was a DNF because I never made the connection between HHO and water. The result was that while I certainly had JEWISHHOLIDAY, i did not understand GOODASGOLD (water) and in fact did not get the trick at all. Nor WATER [main[ COURSES. Even though I figured out RUSHHOURS.

In other words, I hated this puzzle because I was not smart enough to figure it out. OK, do this once and I'll be impressed, but I have to say I don't want all my Sundays to be this disappointing.

Nancy 10:39 PM  

Hi, Mohair. So I went to You Tube and listened to some of Bob SEGER's songs. Liked them better than most rock -- probably because there's a folk-y quality to his voice and arrangements that makes his work pleasanter, easier-listening than harder-edged rock songs. But I have to be honest -- these were perfectly fine to listen to once and would be great for dancing, but I have absolutely no desire to hear them again. This is just not a genre I respond to; I never did, even at the age when many of my contemporaries loved rock. I was influenced far more by folk music in my youth, and I've retained a real love for it over the years. Music is so personal. But I didn't mean to insult Bob SEGER (who I'd never even heard until now) and certainly not YOU, since you're one of my favorite people on this blog. And please understand -- long before I filled in the name SEGER, I had already mis-read the "rocker" clue as "rapper." I wasn't calling him a rapper; I had no idea WHAT he was, really. Will you forgive me?

Get Over It 8:53 AM  

Amen to that Brother. If you haven't noticed by now, Rex is pretty full of himself.

Get Over It 8:55 AM  

I agree, give us a challenge but make it interesting. Do a Merl Reagle and you will understand. We still miss him.

Seth 10:01 AM  

Rex: THANK YOU for the head's up about Erik's puzzle, for the subtle hunt to look for...something. It took me a while to find it, but once I did...Wow. That's cold right there. And brilliant.

sumlak 6:42 PM  

Could someone explain why water is HHO and not HOO?

Z 10:33 PM  

@sumlak - the formula is H2O (sorry, Blogger doesn't seem to accept the subscript tag), indicating two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom make up a water molecule.

Unknown 12:55 PM  

"Make America great again"🇺🇸

Greg 1:06 PM  

I will completely echo Martin Abresch: OLEANNA/NEALS? TROY/GEHRY? KROFT/ORONO? OSLIN/DOREN? Ugh, ugh, and ugh. I liked the theme okay, but the endless proper name crosses really sucked the fun out of it for me.

Jonathan 2:30 AM  

I think he's referring to 51-Across. There is a weird thing in that answer where two different names fit, similar to the famous 1996 Election Day puzzle. I had to cheat and look it up, but it's pretty clever.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I think "wile" is a legitimate answer even though we are more used to seeing it as a plural. Webster-Miriam online dictionary gives it a definition of "guile" so it makes sense as an attribute. I remember the joke about a pound of feathers and a pound of gold which I learned as a youngster. So Troy was an easy answer for me.

Diana,LIW 11:03 PM  

It's Sat evening about 8 pm in Lake Spobegone. Just "cheater finished" the Sat. puzzle - too many PPPwoes for my brain to handle today.

Wanted to post early to tell all Synders to listen to Prairie Home Companion today if you didn't yesterday. You could hear me bark like a dog and whine like a siren, along with a few thousand other Spokaners. Spokane has 3 NPR channels, so we get PHC on Sat and Sun - you might too. A very funny show today. Mr. Waiting isn't as big a fan as I am, and he thought it was outstanding. Garrison does a crossword in one of the skits - wonder if he'll be at the tourney in St. Paul????

AND HEY! The Minn. Tourn. is just around the corner - 4 weeks away. Teedmn is COMPETING (brave lady), and I'll be cheering her on. Rondo says he's coming, and Kathy (Towering Kathy) sez she's thinking, thinking, thinking...

So - what are you waiting for? I'm

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for St. Paul

spacecraft 11:37 AM  

Nothing about this puzzle was anything but full-bore challenging. There's no "medium-" to it. I struggled with almost every single line. Along with all the listed WOEs, what about "Bibbled?" Non-word! You can't use non-words in clues any more than you can put them in the grid! That's TABOO! So, penalty stroke there.

I had the devil's own time trying to figure out the rebus; when it finally hit it seemed a tiny bit anticlimactic: all I had to realize was that the across answers were wacked out by the WATER. Still it was of little help in the line-by-line solve.

I was also forever parsing ARIOT...another non-word? Oh, oh: A (space) RIOT. A regular riot, as the fellow in clue #114 would say. Wait a NSEC. The clue reads "Running rampant." They must mean ARIOT. It IS another non-word! That's two strokes. Uh-oh.

Can't seem to find a decent DOD this time; never saw ANITA ODAY so she'll have to do. I knew tatamis were floorMATS; unfortunately I wrote in the place instead of the material. All was repaired in the end, though. The triumph factor is considerable, enough to negate at least one of those penalties. Having shrugged away ESTH and ASYLA, I'm going to award a par on this one. Sunday is definitely the new Saturday!

Burma Shave 11:59 AM  


It AINT WITHHONORS that lush did WOW her,
on his SENSELESS INTRO that YAHOO depended.


rondo 1:16 PM  

Huh. So many folks having trouble with this one and I “breezed” right through it. GROWTHHORMONE and FISHHOOKS gave it up almost simultaneously. Only ink spots were in REwRiteS. OSLIN a gimme. Van DOREN shoulda been Mamie, but the DOGGYBAG gave it away. Actually surprised how fast I DIDIT.

OONA Chaplin is hands down the yeah baby today, WITHHONORS.

Sometimes Dad used to have some HIGHOCTANE aviation fuel around for a coupla his “toys” that used airplane engines. Every now and then we’d fill up the push mowers with this HIGHOCTANE fuel, especially if the grass grew long. Those poor little Briggs & Strattons didn’t know what hit ‘em. They just screamed through the yard. Wish he'd had that fuel around when I got old enough to drive.

Well, there was some junk mixed in, but as fast as I got done I AINT complainin’ much.

rondo 1:22 PM  

BTW - I'll be attendng the St. Paul tourney. Seems as though we'll be having a bit of a get-together on both Sat and then Sun following. I expect @teedMN will be ready for a drink SUN PM after competition.Probably soon time to think in more detail, at least for Sat.

rain forest 1:32 PM  

Hey, I liked this one, and didn't find it a slog although I think medium-challenging is accurate. Got the trick at the first themers crossing, and I might have chuckled. Well, chuckling is not my forte, but you get the idea.

I certainly don't remember the previous puzzle referred to, and I really don't care if this one is similar. Because I knew K.T.OSLIN, and TROY, I didn't have the possible natick problems that others did. And of course Steve KROFT was a gimme. Have always loved that show.

The theme was well-executed (chuckle worthy), and I thought the fill was in general of high calibre. In a Sunday puzzle, you're gonna get some -ese, but it certainly didn't dominate this one.

Didn't much like @Rex's write-up, surprise, and I'm wondering if he is STILL the 9th greatest ---- Where did he finish in the recent ACPT? Or doesn't that count.

AnonymousPVX 2:58 PM  

Completely unenjoyable and a complete waste of time and effort. If I never see another puzzle of this type it'll be too soon.

Diana,LIW 6:29 PM  

It's been quite a few years since I attempted to drive a manual shift car. That's how this puzzle felt - got a little ways...stalled out. Repeat. All morning.

Knew there had a be a darn rebus somewhere, but where? With those "wacky" answers, my brain just couldn't suss them out. Came to Rex for the answer to "whaz goin' on?" Even then...

So good for you, @Spacey! and BTW, bibble is in my OED. But I never heard it. Showed it to Mr. Waiting, and he just laughed and said "made up words!" Still trying to picture a doggy water bag. Thought for sure BS would do something with the second largest moon of Uranus. Talkin' about it just the other day, weren't ya? Nae. Asyla? Worst of the "A"list words.

But my kitty is purring today, so I'm smiling.

Off to shop for din din, then I'll bibble a little wine.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

Findied all but the very center....... had HOT[water] but WIRES lost me, and all those crosses were unknown to me.

What a slog; what a horrible, horrible rebus. DOGGIE[WATER]BAG? WTHIT?

I thought I got it with [WATER]MAIN and MAIN-COURSE, but that theme didn't hold out.

CHANGE-YOUR-[WATER] and [WATER]-WAY made no sense other than to stick [WATER] in the middle of a phrase, just like "salt of the earth".

didn't finish, didn't care

Anonymous 10:50 PM  

Took me a while to catch on, in part because HHO is not a formula for water. It IS a bogus, but commonly used, notation for a 2:1 mixture of oxyhydrogen gas.

The legitimate structural formula for water is HOH. So even when I got the trick, it felt forced, rather than clever.

leftcoastTAM 12:45 AM  

One small, late complaint: I have been to many dentists over the years, and not one ever requested that I BITE. The request always was to "bite down."

I stuck with "open." [Sigh]

rain forest 12:55 AM  

I believe I was moderated right out of the commentary, unless I made a silly mistake and failed to click on PUBLISH, which I've done before. Anyway, the gist was a waxingly eloquent paean to the puzzle which I liked, and a comment about OFL not coming clean about what his real world standing is in the pantheon of crossword solvers--somewhere around 59 I think. Shame.

Joe 3:00 AM  

Got the theme early. Had to make a few guesses but fortunately they all struck gold. No mistakes. Hardly would classify this as medium/challenging. At least on a relative basis, that is.

Joe 3:05 AM  

What a piece of cake. Seriously, this was no more challenging than any other Sunday NYT puzzle. The only difference for me is that I was able to correctly guess all the tough spots. The theme came to me quickly and 'aawaayyy we go!'.

TartanCalf 12:29 PM  

While doing the puzzle (July 17) I too thought of HHO when my hubby said "Goin'to put the bush hog on now" Love that you did too!

TartanCalf 12:31 PM  

While doing the puzzle (July 17) I too thought of HHO when my hubby said "Goin'to put the bush hog on now" Love that you did too!

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