1943 conference site / SUN 3-12-17 / Turnaround too tempting to pass up / French ice cream flavorer / Popular landscaping plants

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Taking the Fifth" — the sound of the *fifth* letter ("E") is added to the end of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases

Theme answers:
  • "TABLE TENNESSEE" (23A: "Put that Southern state on next month's agenda"?)
  • NANNY GOATEE (32A: What a male babysitter may sport?)
  • OFF THE MARQUEE (56A: Like a fired Broadway star?)
  • HOT CROSS BUNNY (78A: Sweaty, irritable rabbit?)
  • THE BIG CHILI (101A: What'll feed everyone at a tailgate party?)
  • ATTILA THE HONEY (114A: Reformed barbarian?)
  • IRRESISTIBLE UIE (17D: Turnaround too tempting to pass up?)
  • "LOOK AT THAT MESSI" (44D: "Check out the Argentine soccer star!"?)
Word of the Day: HEGIRA (57D: Exodus) —
singular proper noun: Hegira; singular proper noun: Hejira
  1. Muhammad's departure from Mecca to Medina in AD 622, prompted by the opposition of the merchants of Mecca and marking the consolidation of the first Muslim community.
    • the Muslim era reckoned from the Hegira.
      noun: Hegira; noun: Hejira; noun: Hijra

      "the second century of the Hegira"
    • an exodus or migration.
      noun: hegira; plural noun: hegiras (google)
• • •

This puzzle doesn't merit a write-up. It doesn't merit anyone's close attention because it is entirely phoned-in ... from a phone booth in 1987. It is the most basic add-a-sound imaginable, with tedious, unfunny, not-even-smirkworthy theme answer results. "Look at that mess" is a terrible base phrase, only slightly less terrible than the utterly unimaginable (even in Wacky Land) "LOOK AT THAT MESSI." How Many Messis Are There? This is garbage, stem to stern. The NYT should be embarrassed to run this piece of uninspired dreck on Sunday—the marquee day, the most popular solving day, the showcase! Ugh. I would add that the fill is, like the theme, remarkably poor, but you can see that, and what's the point? POTHERS? I mean, really. This is a semi-competent first effort from a novice Sunday constructor, if it were the '80s, maybe the '90s. But it's not, and the constructor is faaaaar from a novice, and I can't believe this type of puzzle is still seeing the light of day. I can almost guarantee you that the LAT puzzle will be better than this. Even the Newsday is likely to be better than this. MENTHE ABATER! Now I'm just typing random entries to keep myself amused. Total fail. Write the editor and complain. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. as if this puzzle wasn't bad enough, it also contains Hitler (33D: Unpopular baby name). Let's all ritually burn our puzzles now. Evil spirits, be gone!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Please, please, please you anonymice and some regular posters STOP these hateful remarks. The is a blog about the NYT crossword. You are guests of Rex/Michael. Can young show some respect. These low-brow remarks sicken me.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

Previous comment pertains to exchanges last yesterday,

And I thought I typed "can you show some respect"

kitshef 12:13 AM  

I hated the puzzle too, though not as much as @Rex.

kitshef 12:21 AM  

NECTARS was the one that pushed it over the edge for me. I've said this before, but it's far better to clue words like that as verbs than as foolishly pluralized nouns.

DNF at aILEEN/SaTBY, which seems perfectly reasonable to me, and PeST/IRReSISTABLEUIE, which is entirely my fault - but reminds me of just how bad the puzzle is. UIE is one of those words that always spoils a puzzle for me. Working it into a themer just escalates the situation.

I did enjoy HOT CROSS BUNNY though.

Finally saw Moonlight ... Mahershala Ali is better in the Netflix series Luke Cage than he was in the movie (but he was plenty good in the movie - it's just that he is stunning in Luke Cage).

Carola 12:30 AM  

I see the puzzles faults, but I thought it was redeemed by moments of inspiration. HOT, CROSS BUNNY made me laugh out loud (maybe ATTILA THE HONEY can make him feel all better), and I found IRRESISTIBLE UIE appealingly zany. I got LOOK AT THAT MESSI from the L - the base phrase might indeed be terrible (I did kind of wonder as I wrote it in), but it popped right into my mind. I'm famiiar with POTHERS from genteel English novels; the new word for me was NINON, and I thought I knew my fabrics. Hardest for me to see: CLICHES.

Alan_S. 12:44 AM  

I'd been a casual solver all my adult life but the nyt Sunday themers are what hooked me and made me a regular, so when an entry like this; one that pretends to have a theme but is just lame; comes along, I must join with Rex in his anger and diss appointment. This just plain sucked. Oh yeah, too easy as well.

Brian 12:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian 1:00 AM  

Hey, Rex screenshot my tweet setup to his spike. Fun.

I actually got LOOK AT THAT MESSI pretty early on - other crosses and my knowledge of the only current relevant Argentinian soccer star got me to LOOK??T??MESSI (I made this comment here a week or so ago, he's about the only current soccer player you can get away with as an answer). I tried what turned out to be the right answer, and still can't believe it was right. I need to learn my European rivers, since they do seem to come up relatively often. I put HEEl instead of HEED, and my last square was POTHE?S. I tried parsing that as two words before settling on POTHERS (Chrome is underlining that now as not in its dictionary), and some deep recess in my brain pulled out ODER as a river somewhere to finish this thing.

Unfortunately, while Rex had this as bad but easy, but I really struggled through a lot of this. GISELE, TEENA, CHITA, NINON, the spelling on AFFAIRE, LEU (which is crosswordese I should know by now), and "nanny goat" and "Irresistible You" as theme clues all were things I wasn't familiar with, and needed a lot of crosses to suss out.

I will give credit to TABLE TENNESSEE as being a clever entry for the theme. With that said, I did not understand the puzzle title until it was explained just now.

John Child 1:32 AM  

Um, what @Rex said mostly. But several of the theme answers tickled me, and it went down so fast that I never saw all the clues. It was Sundayish for me - not the highlight of the week, but a puzzle.

It looks easy to get rid of NINON, ITER, and the RRN...

chefwen 1:51 AM  

Didn't dislike this nearly as much as others, but I did get through it rather quickly. I like savoring the Sunday puzzle and this one was over way too early. I barely got through my first glass of wine and POOF I was done.

Dear Old Dad called me BUNNY when I was growing up, so HOT CROSS BUNNY brought a little nostalgia and a tear. Miss you dad!

jae 3:36 AM  

Yep, easy and not particularly clever, so I guess I'm kinda with @Rex on this one. Although, I'm with @John Child on some of the amusing theme answers. And, the same reaction to NECTARS as @kitshef. Plus NINON??? @Carola, me too. So, more meh than hatred,

'mericans in Paris 4:32 AM  

Best comment of the day so far is @Alan_S's, when he refers to Rex's "diss appointment." OFL must feel like it is a rendezvous with mediocrity whenever the Sunday NYT puzzle comes up these days.

First, in defense of "LOOK AT THIS MESS!". I would have thought that anybody who has parented kids over the age of 8, say, would have used it at some time. And many, like me, who can't seem to keep up with his or her paperwork would have been on the receiving end from paperwork. So, I liked that themer, even if MESSI is as well known as Mohamed Ali, or Pelé, were at the peak of their careers.

We did smile at HOT CROSS BUNNY and ATTILA THE HONEY, too. I'd agree that UIE is pretty lame, however.

The clue ("Put that Southern state on next month's agenda"?) and answer (TABLE TENNESSEE) to 23A had me scratching my head, as "TABLE" as a transitive verb can have two opposing meanings (like "sanction"). In British English it means "present formally for discussion or consideration at a meeting", whereas in U.S. English it means "postpone consideration of". Working in an international environment that tends to use mid-Atlantic English, I couldn't recall which meaning meant what in each of the two countries divided by a common language. (What does it mean in Canada?)

I will grumble about the cluing of "YAW", however (31A). I have never heard it mean "Go off course", but rather "to deviate temporarily from a straight course -- e.g., by oscillation of the longitudinal axis in the horizontal plane." Think of a rocket corkscrewing slightly in its flight path. But perhaps I just don't YAW in the right circles.

Mrs. 'Mericans and I tried to guess whether POTHERS or HEGIRA would be Rex's word of the day. I'll be charitable and say that we learned something new.

TIME to wrap this up. HE SAID.

'mericans in Paris 4:34 AM  

DUH. Meant to write, "And many, like me, who can't seem to keep up with his or her paperwork would have been on the receiving end of that remark from colleagues."

Charles Flaster 5:55 AM  

Medium with a DNF as LEk never became LEU.
Liked clues for FIRE AWAY and MRI.
Only write over was ERA for age.
Thanks AA

Conrad 6:14 AM  

@kitshef: Hand up for the DNS at aILEEN/SaTBY. Totally unfair. If you didn't know Ms. Fisher either SET or SaT fit the clue, which wasn't very good in the first place.

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

If this puzzle had been presented in 2007 I do not think it would have received such a scathing review.

To me, it seems the reviewer is more tired than the object being reviewed.

In close, the puzzle was not amazingly good - but it surely was not amazingly bad.


Loren Muse Smith 6:50 AM  

A puzzle I remember from time to time is this one from May 1 2012. (Spoiler alert – the link is the filled grid.) Rex liked it, too. I marvel at how much a long e sound can change something’s meaning, and it pleases me to no end. So I was biased coming in to this.

@’Mericans – you accidentally typed in LOOK AT THIS MESS. Much more in the language for me than LOOK AT THAT MESS.

My whole solving experience was ruined by UTERI. Everyone knows that plural is uterobes.

Unfortunately, that shout from an arm waver could be "stick'em up."

68A – “Do to do” – I had “style” first. Ya know – tease up and spray that prom creation that nobody likes but everyone oohs and aahs over and it barely lasts for pictures and what were you thinking?

It’s always fun to think of other possibilities:

STEP STOOLIE – new husband’s little tattle tale
POT OF GOLDIE – ahem. Primo, man.
BINGO NIGHTIE – someone’s gonna get lucky at the retirement center.

And right out of the grid - EL BOWie– OLE, David!

Re yesterday – the entry ALT POP made me think of a new girl at school in foster care. That’s it. Who wants to read about sad stuff here? I question myself almost daily before I hit “publish comment.” Is this dumb to say? Would anyone care? Will it rub someone the wrong way? Will people think I’m stupid? (You should see the stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor.) In a nutshell, I pulled a Wiig/Carell at the Golden Globes. (If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth the 3 minutes. Seriously.)

AA – I’m with @Carola – lots of these made me smile, especially HOT CROSS BUNNY and NANNY GOATEE.

Lewis 7:18 AM  

Could have made a themer with 12D (TREATY):

TRICK_OR_TREATY -- "Should we trust this agreement?"

Muscato 7:37 AM  

Definitely not primo stuff, but I only wish terrible=fast for me. I was in a little under my Sunday average, but in the end I decided it was a slog _because_ it was so bad - I must have lost nearly a minute on POTHERS alone, just sitting there dumbstruck at its awfulness. Ah, well, another week ahead of us, and perhaps some better puzzles...

Johnny 7:53 AM  

I also had a DNF and couldn't figure it out. I hated POTHERS but it had to be right based on the crosses. Turns out I had aMP instead of IMP at 59A.

Ordinarily I'm never as critical of a puzzle as Rex because I'm into the fun of solving, but some of this was pretty lame.

BarbieBarbie 8:18 AM  

It's so interesting that nobody, including Rex, has said anything about fill that includes Eugene Maleska-era favorites like ITER and ALAI. I came here to see whether people think that was somehow ironic, or a huge red reference-book cheatin' flag on the constructor?? No comment from Rex on that, even?
A normal time for me for a Sunday, but lots of criss-crossing and going backwards, and not enjoyable except maybe ATTILA THE HONEY.
Am I getting jaded by reading this blog?...

John 8:28 AM  

Perhaps the wrong section editor (Mankoff) is retiring.

Carol C M 8:35 AM  

This puzzle was harder than most for us. We had to look up several things - Oder, Giselle, Ninon, Erno, Sanaa, Tehran. Typically we can through the puzzle looking up at most one or two things.

Ted 9:07 AM  

Really really hard to finish.

Fine to start, lots of starts all over the place, but could not put it together. Far too many gaps.

LEU SANAA AFFAIRE (with that fun extra E) ISTH HEGIRA UTERI MENTHE CHITA and let's not forget POTHERS

Then things that, sure, I can spell, but aren't really terms to me...

ARTLAB AUTORACE ABATER (Chrome has underlined those red)

ClassAct 9:08 AM  

Waste of time to fill in the puzzle. POTHERED!

Stanley Hudson 9:29 AM  

A light workout that was not much fun.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Rex's write-up was more fun than the puzzle.

TOCraig 9:43 AM  

Maybe too easy, but seemed fine to me.

Exubesq 9:48 AM  


Anonymous 9:54 AM  

This puzzle was easy, but I hated it because I made an error. I also hate the NYT puzzles in general, and particularly the editor, but I write a daily screed about them. You will donate to said screed because there's a sucker born every minute,

Nancy 9:57 AM  

There have been some wonderful Sunday puzzles of late. This wasn't one of them. Yes there were some cuteys -- HOT CROSS BUNNY and ATTILA THE HONEY being my favorites. (They were also the easiest to spot a mile away, however). I picked up the theme at NANNY GOATEE (one of my least favorites) and then slogged my way through the rest of this long-seeming puzzle. No fun, not really. I'm not quite sure why I bothered to finish it.

Eric 9:58 AM  

@MLS Thanks for the clip. You were right. Well worth the three minutes.

Joe in Newfoundland 10:00 AM  

I agree, maybe too easy, but seemed fine. HOT CROSS BUNNIES is an old joke - I presumed that inspired the theme, although that particular joke would be better a few weeks from now.
I have known 2 men now in their 80s named ADOLF or some version. No one younger. It is indeed an unpopular baby name, and I would be suspicious of anyone who would name their child that today (and I suspect their parents were admirers back then). But unacceptable for a puzzle? If the cluing had been "great misunderstood lonely heart world leader" yes, but simply as a word that one would know from basic history? We've got ATTILA in today's puzzle - he seems to have been just as bad for his time, mutatis mutandis. Would you ban CHE, MAO, LEON, JOSEPH, TITO, etc?

Unknown 10:06 AM  

Irresistibleuie made me laugh thinking of how uie in all its forms is so irresistible for crossword puzzle creators.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 10:08 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Jill 10:13 AM  

I agree with you across the board. It was easy but it kept me occupied and I enjoyed most of it. Don't understand all the confusion around LOOK AT THAT MESS...as a Mom, I have said that more than once. But NINON? Seriously?

Doctorblue 10:24 AM  

Tripped up by:
Age v era
Inuit v aleut
Look at this messi v (that)
Nylon v ninon (a new fabric for me)

Had to look up pothers. Not english enough.

Otherwise, I thought it was entertaining

Hartley70 10:28 AM  

Even the finest writers need a good editor,@LMS. @ED was yours. Thanks for the explanation because we all look for your humorous posts with great anticipation.

Today's puzzle may not have been a thriller, but ATILLATHEHONEY and HOTCROSSBUNNY gave me a warm and fuzzy Sunday feeling. So much cheerier than Fahreed lately. Thanks, Alan for a silly, welcome respite. I had fun.

Aketi 10:34 AM  

I'm stating AT THAT MESS right now even though my son just turned 18. I have washed my hands of attempt at reformation and have concluded that it is now up to his future college roommate.THAT MESS is definitely one of my mom fails. My son has infinite capacity to tolerate piles of paper, clothes, and food wrappers. Once he started high school, I refrained from cleaning except during his annual Nicaragua trip and final exam time. He had one teacher in fifth grade who tried to reform him by make him take everything out of his desk and put it back neatly and then went on to dump out the entire contents of his back pack at which point my son started quoting his fourth amendment rights. I took some satisfaction in that the teacher failed too.

I liked HOT CROSS BUNNY too.

Ellen S 10:37 AM  

Well, I filled in NINON from crosses but never heard of it. Wikipedia says, "Ninon is a sheer fabric of silk, rayon, or nylon made in a variety of tight smooth weaves, open lacy patterns, or open mesh-like appearance. It is described as very delicate or lightweight and is sometimes referred to as "French tergal". Available in a variety of solid colors and tone-on-tone woven vertical stripes."

Yes, well, that clears that up. Any of several fibers, in any of several weaves, in a variety of colors and patterns. So you can spot it in a fabric store immediately.

@Carol C M, memorize ODER, SANAA, and ERNO -- they show up all the time, like EELS. (Nice to not see them so much any more.). I just watched a movie ... um, "Closer to the Moon", about some Romanians, former Jewish anti-Nazi WWII resistance fighters, trying to undermine the authority of the communist regime by brazenly robbing the state bank. Not for the money, but to show it could be done. One of the police officials is incredulous, saying, "Who would steal bags full of Romanian Lei? You can't buy anything with it." At least, phonetically that's what the currency is, so I confidently filled it in wrong. That's what I get for learning things from movies. Or from the iffy closed captioning. It was a sweet movie, by the way -- kind of tragicomedy.

Speaking of which, @LMS, thanks for the Golden Globes link. That was worth the whole puzzle.

Teedmn 10:43 AM  

I'm sure there's a head slap in my future, but how is "Do to do" equivalent to SCALE? "Do" had me thinking hair so (hi @LMS) StyLE held up my West Central for quite a while. As did "obEy" for HEED. Unbelievably, what finally got me down from my TREE in the SW was remembering MESSI from the M of TIME and the S of HE SAID and the theme and an earlier puzzle, hah!

I winced at not knowing ALTIMA (hi @Nancy). But I liked my aha when IMP was the answer to "Small handful". _MP and my inability to spell IRRESISTaBLE almost made my "shrug, so what if it doesn't make sense" reflex kick in but I persisted :-).

There was a lot of crosswordease (ATTA, ALAI, RELO, etc.), I'll agree, but IRRESISTIBLE UIE, HOT CROSS BUNNY and ATTILA THE HONEY made the puzzle worth it (and @r.alphbunker's randomization function made it not a slog.)

I would normally hear LOOK AT THis MESS (with my mother pointing, or arms akimbo) but UP A TREE settled that controversy in my brain. And I enjoyed seeing POTHERS rather than being aggrieved at the oddness.

I thought I knew my fabrics but did not know that the "sheer" curtain material was NINON. Hopefully I can keep that in my brain long enough for it to appear again!

Alan, thanks for the punny Sunday.

evil doug 10:46 AM  

DO - a deer, a female deer
RE - a drop of golden sun
MI - a name, I call myself
FA - a long long way to run
SO - a needle pulling thread
LA - a note to follow SO
TI - a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to do

Suzy 10:58 AM  

Yes, I think I remember laughing in October-- no more!

I enjoyed the puzzle more than most, but Ninon! Pull the curtains on that one!

Unknown 11:14 AM  

I was stumped by DO TO DO --> SCALE also. Is the implication that when you scale something, that you are doing it just to do it? Or am I missing the point entirely?

Wm. C. 11:18 AM  

I got ODER with no crosses, thinking of the Oder-Neisse (Sp?) Line of the two rivers that demarcates (or maybe demarcated in the past?) Germany and Poland. German boundaries have been historically very fluid, the German character being quite (ahem...) adventurous in the past.

But POTHER? NINON? The Big Guava?

Unlike OFL, I have no problem with LOOK_AT_THAT_MESSI. Yeah, there is only one Messi on the field, but so what? Sometimes THAT @Rex amazes me with his quibbles. ;-)

BTW, wasn't Messi in a NYT puzzle recently?

chefbea 11:25 AM  

Did not like the puzzle!! Thought we might have a puzzle where we would spring ahead...and speaking of spring...we must have an inch of snow here in Wilmington...and it's still snowing!!!!!

seanm 11:28 AM  

first time in a long time it's taken me an hour to finish a sunday. a lot of bad fill IMO. theme was mostly lame, as everyone seems to agree.

Johnny 11:32 AM  



Is that a thing now? Do they actually call it that?

TomAz 11:33 AM  

I really didn't have a problem with the theme. Add-a-sound is a NYT xword staple. It's not "oh wow" but it's fine.

But man there was some seriously bad fill in this one. ULE ALO ISTH IWO LII ORGS etc. this is ridiculous dreck. It's not glue, it's cowshit.

Numinous 11:34 AM  

Very un-memorable! ATTILLA THE BUNNY or HOT CROSS HONEY, whatever, they were, I suppose cute enough. I used to have a GOATEE but was never a NANNY. UIE? Must we?

I liked seeing my "little handful" chiweenie, IMP in the puzzle.

The only other thing that comes to mind from this puzzle is a rather lewd paraprosdokian, @LMS. joke so if you're easily offended, close your eyes and move on:
"I saw HEATHcliff on the moor last night. Tonight it'll be the moor's turn."

Wm. C. 11:35 AM  

@DanS --

DO re mi fa la sol la ti DO

(Music Scale)

Teedmn 11:46 AM  

Yup, head slap arrived, the musical scale (I actually got it before I got to @Wm. C's comment but that's not much comfort).

QuasiMojo 11:48 AM  

@John 8:28am, Mankoff is at the New Yorker, not the Times.

RMK 11:55 AM  

Mankoff worked for the New Yorker, not the NYT.

Renee Arnold 11:58 AM  

I thought the puzzle was fine/fun. Pothers/ninon/hegira were problematic. Got the theme relatively quickly, but still some challenges. Go "easy" on the puzzle maker. I still think it was cute and fun. Life's too hard--the puzzle should be entertaining, not quantum physics.

Hungry Mother 11:59 AM  

Hardest Sunday solve in a long time for me. Some fun answers, definitely a challenge, doable.

Lobster11 12:10 PM  

@Hartley70 -- Did you manage to reach PB and get your download?

r.alphbunker 12:15 PM  

Wanted TABLET something for {"Put that Southern state on next month's agenda"?} TABLETENNESSEE

But the hardest part of the puzzle was figuring out the title.

Details are here here.

RooMonster 12:20 PM  

Hey All !
Highlight of puz : ROO. :-)

It's already all been said. Didn't totally hate puz as Rex, wasn't quite as easy as OFL found it. Hang-UPs in spots. Some pdd clues. Wasn't thrilled about the THEs outside the themers.


coco14 12:26 PM  

I have never ever hated a puzzle - regardless of how easy or difficult or somewhere in between, it is a much awaited pleasure each Saturday to sit down with a cup of coffee, a pen and the puzzle.

Maybe the constant complainers could find another puzzle to do?

Nancy 12:32 PM  

@lms and Teedmn -- Hand up for thinking hairdo and wanting STYLE before SCALE, though I didn't write it in.

Hand up for wanting NYLON (or ORLON or LINEN or anything other than NINON) for 7D. Glad to know that just about no one has ever heard of NINON. Great comment, @Ellen S. (10:37.)

I enjoyed the Awards clip, Loren.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

NINON … has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. Ouch.

IRRESISTIBLEUIE. First themer I got. Stop right there. Rodeo.

Theme was ok … definitely not rocket science, tho. Solvequest leaned toward hard, on account of the wide-open grid. Note, how there is only three words spannin each edge. Makes for lotsa longball fillins.
Some fave longballs:
* UPATREE/UPTIGHT, sharin the U. That pothers the M&A, a pit. [btw: auto-correct changes POTHERS to "potters"! Not a good sign.]
* TIDYSUM. Got this off the -IDY-. Good thing, too … cuz that nearby SCALE clue was a real nanosecond-buster.

Neat WALDO clue.

staff weeject pick: LEU. Had LEK for a while, but this currency sounds far superior.

IMP ADEE DODO, IMP ADEE OLE … my oh my, what a wonderful day …

Masked & Anonymo10Us


old timer 12:48 PM  

This was not *quite* as terrible as OFL wrote. But it came close. Because NINON. Because NAUGHTS, which no one said ever. (And it could have been clewed "_________ and crosses" which is I think the British name for tic-tac-toe.) Because POTHERS, Because of the flopsweat answer, IRRESISTIBLE UEY. And because of the ridiculous clue for UNIONS. Everyone knows UNIONS don't have chapters, they have "locals".

I am beginning to think that WS just doesn't care about the puzzle anymore. Because many of the bad things about the puzzle (though by no means all) could have been fixed by a decent editor.

Really the only great thing for me this morning was reading what @LMS had to say, and touching base with 'mericans, who seem to be safely back in Paris -- and hey, Mme. 'mericans will soon vote in her first French election, I guess.

orangeblossomspecial 12:49 PM  

Don't be shy Rex. Tell us what you really think.

JC66 12:58 PM  

Hand up for the SaTBY/aILEEN cross.

Thanks for the clip, @LMS

GILL I. 1:09 PM  

Awww...I thought some of it was as cute as a HOT CROSS HONEY BUNNY.
Yes...2D "Queen topper" made me think Maleska. SERTA would probably be too current.
Hey @Brian - If I saw Suarez or Ronaldo or Godin, I wouldn't mind at all. LOOK AT THAT GOD IN hot pants!
@evil - thanks for the DODO. Had no idea.
Would it be OK to clue ADOLF as Coors' first name? I mean, it's just a bad awful tasting beer.
@Loren. I don't think any story you tell would ever get anyone's dander dandruff in a POTHER. I think I can say that pretty much all of us enjoy your story of the day. Please don't stop....:-)
Now I'm off to take another hour nap so that I can get caught up in this damn time change. My pups don't like it either. Just keep it the way it is now for AMBER's sake.

Chim cham 1:14 PM  


Mohair Sam 1:20 PM  

Contrary Mary here. Loved the themers (with the notable exception of NANNYGOATEE), and cannot for the life of me see @Rex's prob with the MESSI answer at 44d. Have a hunch that if old Lionel was a baseball star OFL would have not have noted a problem with LOOKATTHATMESS. Having raised three sons the term still echoes through the halls around here.

On the other hand, have to agree with his highness and y'all that he fill was in the hideous range. A little strained fill is worth the price for a great theme, but today - whew. I won't bother to relist.

@LMS - Thanks for the link - delightful.

Sherm Reinhardt 1:29 PM  

Hand up with all parents who have said LOOKATTHATMESS. In fact, there should be a crossword puzzle with the themers being everything you'd never say to your kids that your parents said to you.

Like, such as:


and so on...

'mericans in Paris 1:50 PM  

Hey @old timer! We were indeed travelling last weekend: from Knoxville to Gainesville. Eventually got the NYT and finished the puzzle, but by then y'all were onto Monday. Spent a nice afternoon in Savannah last Tuesday, before heading back to Hotlana for the overnight flight to Paris.

Mrs. 'Mericans will indeed get to vote in the upcoming French election. Normal French folk had to register to vote by 31st December. But those who received nationality after that can register up to (I think) 1st April. (Go figure.) It will probably be THE most important election in which she will have ever voted. The future of the EU hinges on it.

@LMS: Yes, I realized -- after I pushed the "send" button -- that I had used the more common phrase, "LOOK AT THis MESS", but I can still imagine saying, or hearing, "LOOK AT THAT MESS".

@Sherm Reinhardt: Har! Great stuff!

Cyclist227 1:57 PM  

Faux cleverness, horrible fill. I was looking forward to today's puzzle. Big disappointment.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Correction: "Picture of ILL health, in brief?" MRI. If you're getting an MRI you're not really a picture of health. The expression implies you're in great shape. Not a candidate for an MRI trying to figure out what the hell's going on.

Sherm Reinhardt 2:25 PM  

@'mericans in Paris Thanks. Good luck on the election.

jau 2:27 PM  

Totally agree. Truly awful except that Hot Cross Bunny sounds great -- just has nothing to do with anything. Maybe Shortz needs a vacation??

pcardout 2:37 PM  

Thanks Evil Doug! I finished the puzzle without understanding "Do to do". I heard it as "Doo" like in a to-do list and thought somehow someone had scaling a mountain on their to-do list. I enjoyed how you explained it as well.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Knew this would be bashed as soon as I read the byline. Very predictable. Reads like the last one by AA. More going on. Ooh - am I offending his dittiheads? OK .. delete, delete.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Wow! Quickest deletion ever. Indoor record. Rex always disses this constructor.

Knitwit 3:05 PM  

Not one of the best solving experiences. I will join the HOT CROSS BUNNY fans. It started very slow, the NW corner was the last to be filled. After finishing about half, took a break to spend 2 hours at my local grocery store--12 to 18 inches of snow in the forecast--and was able to rip thru the remainder. There's always next Sunday.

blinker474 3:11 PM  

How can anyone not love a puzzle that contains the answers "Hot Cross Bunny" and "Attilla the Honey"? I will never understand that. It's a pleasant and amusing diversion, not a literary masterpiece. Oh, well, De gustibus non est disputandum.

beej in PS 3:28 PM  

My first post: We finally finished the puzzle in our leisurely west coast pace, then read Rex's rant and ALL the remarks (many of you feel like old friends already). I was astonished that no one commented on my two biggest problems with the puzzle: OFF THE MARQUEE. The fifth letter is U - not the sound that's been added. ATTILA THE HONEY. No change in meaning from the clue to the answer - Attila has merely been sweetened!

Nancy 4:31 PM  

@beej in PS -- The answer adds an EEEE sound to the phrase "Off the mark." E is the 5th letter of the alphabet. The theme has nothing at all to do with the 5th letter of any given answer.

Mops 5:26 PM  

How is it no one seemed to notice that the clue for 17D was incorrect??? Holly Hunter and Anna Pacquin won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in 1994, NOT 1993.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Truly lousy puzzle, and I inadvertently got up early to work on it. How can it be time for daylight saving time?

Been here before 5:53 PM  

@Mops, you might want to read Rex's FAQ section

Numinous 6:02 PM  

@Mops, see FAQ 16a on Rex's home page. FAQS can be found at the very top of the page.

Rob 6:06 PM  

This was hot garbage. Horrendous fill.

Aketi 6:32 PM  

@Anonymous, 2:43. Point well made. Second time MRI has appeared in the 12 days since I had one that confirmed my Physical therapist's diagnosis of a torn MCL and a snapped ACL. I'd call it more a picture of destruction. Fortunately I'm benefitting the enhancements in knee surgery in the last few years.

Alan_S. 7:05 PM  

Thanks guys, I always enjoy reading your comments as well.

Eamonn Lorigan 7:24 PM  

Do to do was the only thing I liked

Eamonn Lorigan 7:28 PM  

Sorry, but WTH, other than a crossword filler word is "uie"? U-turn? That's when I quit on this one.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 7:43 PM  

Eamonn, really, dude . . . No one cares bub.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 7:44 PM  

If indeed "Eamonn" is really your name . . .

Robin 9:30 PM  

I didn't love this but I certainly didn't hate it as much as Rex.

What really ate at me was IRRESISTBLE_UIE. Personally I have never seen it spelled that way. It's U-EY as far as I'm concerned.

Originally filled in LOOK_AT_THIS_MESSI, so it was a bit of a POTHER that the Times wanted THAT instead of THIS.

Otherwise, nothing made me hate. Nothing made me love it. HOT_CROSS_BUNNY was worth a small smile. ATTILA_THE_HONEY was not.

Finished in about average time for me.

Anonymous 10:08 PM  

I thought it was a fine puzzle, but I would have liked some more cohesiveness in the themed answers. Things, people, songs, movies, phrases. And while "look at this mess" is an exclamation I've heard plenty of times from exasperated people, "look at that mess" just comes off as a random sentence. Also boo to including UIE, which is maybe the worst spelling of a word where none look correct, and which I've never seen written outside of the NYT crossword.

zardoz 10:15 PM  

Rex-lighten up.

Arden 10:41 PM  

Ninon? WTF?

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

The Piano was an Oscar winner in 1994 not 1993.

Robin 12:29 AM  

@Anonymous, The clue says "1993 film", not "1993 Oscar winner".

Leapfinger 4:34 AM  

@Anony2:43 and @Aketi6:32, the clue leaves this open, but if you consider the difference between 'THE picture of health' [which I hope you all are] and 'A picture of health', which an MRI is, if 'health' is considered in the sense of "How is your overall health?"

@John8:28, @QuasiMo11:48 and @OneOther, a nice surprise to find Bob Mankoff (a Leapfinger favourite) make these boards. (I can't imagine New Yorker cartoons without him) As it happens, he has a good tie-in with this puzzle: when Mankoff and Will Shortz get together, you will some cutthroat TABLE TENNESSEE

@M&A, thanks so much for IMP ADEE DODO, IMP ADEE OLE.

Anyway, the Grandboy (home on break) insinuated himself into the solve, first time he's ever done entirely of his own volition, so I was pretty chuffed. Unused as I am to tag-team solving, it was great fun, but I would've liked the puzzle even without that added feature. I spose if I can't have good sense, I'll take the folly.

Hello, Monday!

Jeff Lewis 6:55 AM  

Bingo Nightie! My laugh of the day. Thanks!

Andy 2:11 PM  

This should be the Wikipedia citation for "dreck!"

Andy 2:11 PM  

This should be the Wikipedia citation for "dreck!"

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Eamonn Lorigan

U-ie is a U-turn. Where I grew up (upstate NY), teens giving directions often said "Make a U-ie"

Also "Hang a Louie" for turn left and "Hang a Ralph" for turn right.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

I'm disappointed no one has complained about NASAL (Stuffy-sounding)! Nasality is the opposite of what congestion does to one's voice, which should be obvious if you think about the fact that less air can pass through the nose when there is blockage.


Pinch Nez 1:04 AM  

I say, @Anony-7:22pee/emma, I should think that, with a minimal expenditure of effort and attempt at oratorical humbuggery, one could definitely and definitively come across as being [quote/unquote] 'stuffy-sounding', without the least indication of congestion or otherwise having a code ib their doze.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Did anyone notice the amount of "EE" answers in the puzzle? Could that have been part of the theme somehow? Just thinking of ways to save this thing...

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

No sense beating a dead horsie. When I first looked at "Panama, e.g." I was checking on the possibility of ANDTHEN which would give ___H and I thought, OMG, it couldn't be ISTH, could it? Naw, nobody's THAT desperate.

It was ISTH.

One theme entry did elicit a chuckle: HOTCROSSBUNNY, but I'd have clued it, say, "Transgender Playboy Club hostess?" Now that would be cause for some DIrt (gossip). DISH? No, that would be DOD GISELE. That and the preposterous first letter of POTHER were my only writeovers. A rare consecutive double bogey--at least better (marginally) than the nine (!) Emilio Grillo took on the 6th yesterday, resulting in a tossed 3-iron into the drink.

Eric Selje 11:58 AM  

I think I'll spend some time today brushing up on my Italian supermodels.

Burma Shave 1:00 PM  




BS2 1:15 PM  


rondo 1:41 PM  

Without finding the PEAR of UTTER yeah babies GISELE and MILA in this puz, it might not have been worth the TIME nor EFFORT. Easy but dull, like my first wife.

As for @spacey? What HESAID for the potential HOTCROSSBUNNY clue is a SCREAM!
I also had his DIrt before DISH. And HITit before 'EM and without checking crosses put in my very own Honda Accord instead of the Nissan ALTIMA. But nothing serious.

I won't BROOD about this puz, but how could INOT be ANNOYED?

Robert Berardi 2:19 PM  

"I'm going to the ART LAB," said no one ever.

AnonymousPVX 2:25 PM  

Not a big fan of the gimmick puzzle. Solved this with not a lot of fun involved. Didn't hate it as much as Rex/others, but I do understand. POTHERS ticked me off, among others.

rain forest 2:30 PM  

Once again I find it curious that so many solvers who genuinely hated the puzzle find it necessary to come here and tell us they hated the puzzle. If I hated a puzzle, I wouldn't bother to tell anyone. Why would I?

I don't mind some of the nits, because sometimes I learn something - always a good thing.

Overall I didn't find this easy at all. It took some time to finish, but the theme was catchy in places, and it was interesting to see that one could get the 5th letter sound from EE, IE, EY, and I. Btw, I sport a NANNY GOATEE when babysitting my grandson.

As Sunday puzzles frequently do, this one had its share of -ese, but not so much as to POTHER me (word from Winnie The Pooh).

Ray - O - Sunshine 4:09 PM  

Almost all puzzles contain SOME nonsense clues so not sure what the fuss is about. The SW corner rattled me for awhile. "POTHERS" didnt seen right but nothing else fit. I laughed out loud when I figured out "ATTILA THE HONEY" and that rarely happens. In the end just happy to finish. Chill, people in a world of "alternative facts" it's only a pleasant passtime. Hey, there's a theme for you!

Diana,LIW 7:07 PM  

Agree with @Rainy - why the the?

And since I love punny puzzles, this one filled the bill. HOTCROSSBUNNY and the others gave me some smiles. Took me a while, so wouldn't say "easy," but not "difficult" either.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Off to the LATX

Diana,LIW 10:15 PM  

Meant to write, "why the hate?"


BS3 11:25 PM  

sometimes first drafts are best:MAESTRO ABATER

"A real DALI in bed, like ATTILATHEHONEY."


SharonAK 2:46 AM  

I loved "irrisistibleuie" - my first theme answer - even though I usually shudder a bit at Uey, however it is spelled.
I also liked most of the other theme answers. All the phrases being punned were familiar to me. So once I got the idea of the theme it helped me solve.

The fill doesn't seem particularly bad to me. Cannot understand why so many of you disliked this puzzle.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Can someone explain what the heck exercitation is? I looked it up and the word doesn't exist.

wcutler 10:30 PM  

I'm almost with @carole rabbett who has never hated a puzzle and loves sitting down to get into it, but I do remember one that was so bizarre that I did not get a single answer because I couldn't figure out what was going on. And then when I read the blog, it was still hard to construct the answers. I don't remember how it worked now, had forgotten all about it till just now.

Phillip Blackerby 2:32 AM  

I always referred to the 180° turn as a "Huey." Right is "Ralph;" left is "Louie;" U-turn is "Huey!"

2weeksBehind in Syn. 11:14 AM  

Looked several times and don't see"Hitler" anywhere in this puzzle, Rex is an PC idiot, my name is Adolf and proud of it.

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