Seaman's chapel / SUN 3-5-17 / Sea serpent of old cartoons / Yogurt-based Indian drink / Modern acronym for Seize day / KPMG hiree / Rider of horse tornado / Chocolate banana liqueur cocktail

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "It's Elementary" — themers have circled letters representing "elements" that also appear in the clue (as "circled letters" ... so you kind of sort of have to get the circled letters to understand the clue):

Theme answers:
  • WEATHER BALLOON (22A: [circled letters]-filled contraption)
  • EIFFEL TOWER (30A: World landmark built with [circled letters])
  • MOOD STABILIZERS (45A: [circled letters]-based drugs)
  • ROADSIDE DINER (60A: [circled letters]-advertised establishment)
  • DAGUERREOTYPE (73A: Picture displayed on a [circled letters] surface)
  • AEROBIC EXERCISE (88A: [circled letters]-consuming activity)
  • BASEBALL BAT (99A: Sports implement often made from [circled letters])
  • NUCLEAR REACTOR (113A: [circled letters]-fueled device)
  • TOOTH DECAY(15D: Condition contributed to by a lack of [circled letters]
  • LEPRECHAUN (71D: Fabled [circled letters]-hiding trickster) 
Word of the Day: BETHEL (21D: Seaman's chapel) —
noun: bethel; plural noun: bethels
  1. 1.
    a holy place.
  2. 2.
    a chapel for seamen. (google)
• • •

This was a nuisance puzzle. Tolerable, but something one endures rather than enjoys. After I waded through the crosswordesey garbage in the NW and figured out the theme ... well, I figured out the theme. And that was that. There were no great revelations or particularly interesting moments. There were more Periodic Table-driven answers, occasionally interesting in and of themselves (I learned I can't spell DAGUERREOTYPE—who put that middle "E" in there?), but mostly about as impressive as "hiding" the letter "O" in a very long answer (i.e. not). I halfway liked the LEPRECHAUN answer but mostly just because today is Parade Day here in Binghamton, a day to celebrate St. Patrick's Day ridiculously early and (I hear) drink yourself into a stupor before dinner. It's fun! But otherwise, it was a Sunday, and it happened, and now it's over.


Cluing seemed dated / stuffy. SONNY BOY, indeed (61D: Lad). Not too UP-TO-DATE (122A: [Gold] courant). Even the cartoon sea serpents are "of old" (54A: CECIL). The biggest problem was how badly choked the grid was with tired old fill. From everything but WHARF in the NW to the W, where you can OGLE UGLI EGGOs. It goes on. And then the "humor" is stuff like that damned BEIRUT clue, which doesn't even work from a sound perspective, but OK (52D: Foreign capital whose name sounds like a water passage to San Francisco). My biggest errors involved The Wrong Ape (a movie featuring me and my BABOON GAL PAL, "EDSEL," driving around EDINA and comically botching crosswords) (I went with GIBBON there ... boy did that make "EDSEL" angry ...) (yes, I know, BABOONs aren't "apes" ... but GIBBONs are ... so somehow it all works out ... in the end)—and then there was BETHEL, an answer so far over my head I couldn't see it. Never heard of this definition (21D: Seaman's chapel). I seriously considered BOATEL for a non-negligible amount of time. Had WOODSY for WOODED (32D: Sylvan), PIZZA (!?) for MATZO (13A: Flat bread), and PANIC for HAVOC (53A: Great confusion). No idea what KPMG is, but I'm guessing it's to do with accounting—not rap, as the name (to me) suggests.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Peter Gordon is offering a new season (2017-18) of Fireball Newsflash Crosswords—20 very up-to-date puzzles with (very) current events-heavy fill. Get in on the action here (in the next 24 hours!)

P.P.S. Harvard's radio station (WHRB 95.3) interviewed me several months ago re: crosswords as part of a larger segment on the NYT crossword's 75th anniversary. Here it hear. Just kidding, hear it here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Not so jaded 12:11 AM  

I found the puzzle astoundingly cool and entertaining.

I'm not in the least astounded that "Rex Parker" hated it.

Rex hates everything. Rhetorical question: What would it take to please him -- not counting a puzzle by one of his cronies?

Anokha 12:13 AM  

That Trump shade is spot on!

Trombone Tom 12:27 AM  

This was an average Sunday romp and I enjoyed it more than @Rex did, which is a norm for me. Having more mileage on me I am not as bothered by "dated" items.

As usual I learned something new, the seaman-related aspect of BETHEL.

I didn't remember LASSI but was rescued by the crosses.

Now I do have to admit that SONNY BOY is really long in the tooth.

An interesting romp through the periodic table that took us from the EIFFEL TOWER to a NUCLEAR REACTOR. WHEE!!!

Punctuated equilibrium 12:28 AM  

I liked the theme very much, although recognizing the theme didn't make it any easier to solve as Rex points out. I too learned I didn't know how to spell DAGUERREOTYPE. Had SEATAk for a while. BABOON and MATZO took too long to fall into place. Have seen the spellings teepee and tipi before, but had a hard time believing TEPEE was valid. Although this wasn't a hard puzzle, I took longer than usual.

pmdm 12:41 AM  

First. my take on the puzzle. This is not the first time element symbols have been used in a crossword theme. But if my recollections are correct, their use in this puzzle sets a new bar for constructors. From the title of today's puzzle, it seemed to me very obvious that the circles were going to spelled out an element it its abbreviated form. Even knowing this, I wasn't sure how the theme was implemented until I completed one of the theme answers. Since I solve the puzzles trying to fill in as many of the non-themed answers before I attack a theme answer, I was well into the puzzle before comprehending how the theme answers worked. After that, yes it became fairly easy. But enjoyable nevertheless.

Next, my take on the write-up. Oddly, I always read Jeff Chen's comments before the comments here. Odd, because most people would probably prefer to move from the more morose to the more upbeat. Anyway, normally the two individuals don't exactly agree in their assessment of the puzzle. But today's differences are quite distinctive. What is the puzzle of the week for one person is a nuisance to another person. As I am writing this comment, only No so jaded's comment has been posted. Undoubtedly there will be many more comments that critique today's write-up. What I would be interested in is, if those commenting here also read Jeff's comments at XWordInfo, how they compare the two very different write-ups.

The concept incorporated into today's Acrostic puzzle seems relevant to all this in a satirical way. I can't explain without spoiling the puzzle for those who haven't solved it. But for those who solve the acrostic, perhaps you will understand what I'm getting at.

Gerrythek 12:56 AM  

C'mon Rex, lighten up. This has got to be the only puzzle in history to contain DAGUERREOTYPE and LEPRECHAUN not just as answers but as theme answers. Most puzzles will have something delightful such as these answers and I just enjoy solving them. I must sympathize with WOODED. I had to run through WOODSY, WOODEY AND WOODEN before arriving at the correct answer.

Anoa Bob 1:25 AM  

Picked the theme up right out of the gate with WEATHER BALLOON and the spiffy EIFFEL TOWER. Thought the other themers were first rate also, especially DAGUERREOTYPE. I'd be surprised if that one is not an NYT xword debut.

Lot's of good fill with my favorite being IL DUCE.

jae 1:56 AM  

Medium for me too. Thought this was very clever and fun. So, @pmdm, no jaded comments from me. I did have gibBON before BABOON but that's as close as I get to having anything to do with @Rex's take one this one. One of the finer Sunday puzzle this year. Liked it!

chefwen 2:02 AM  

Like @Trombone Tom, I'm a little dated myself, so the older type clues didn't bother me at all, in fact, I liked them.

DAGUERREOTYPE and LEPRECHAUN were gettable, but spelling them correctly drained me. Like Rex, puzzlemate had gibbon in at 21A, min and tboth helped me out there (I did not point that out to him) he said OOPS on his own.

Liked this much more than OFL did, in fact I had a WHEE of a time with it.

Hartley70 2:45 AM  

This was an average Sunday in difficulty and in completion time. It wasn't a slog because the long themes were interesting, but it wasn't a barrel of laughs either. Once you saw the circled letters the surprise was sprung. I agree with Rex's review and think of this as a workmanlike puzzle. Worthy but just a teensy bit boring since the periodic table doesn't excite me.

None of the clues were stumpers, but I needed to run the alphabet for the last N in NUN. What an unlikely answer.

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

The "e" in Daguerreotype comes from the guy's name: Daguerre.

Trixie 3:49 AM  

Ugh! Just a slog....

John Child 4:07 AM  

I like the idea of OGLing UGLI EGGOS. The fill didn't distress me, and the long answers were fun. Interesting idea. Four thumbs and toes up from me. The clue for BEIRUT was a bit off I thought but still amusing. Too bad it wasn't {Beer pong}. That would have lowered the mean clue/answer age a little.

I prayed for 1-D to be pewit.

Robin 4:26 AM  

EIFFEL_TOWER was the second item I filled in (right after OTERI), so the theme was obvious from the get-go. Not that it helped.

CECIL must be in a really old cartoon. As in so old that my 50+ self does not recall it.

Couldn't remember if it was a T-BILL or a T-NOTE, so had a bit of trouble there when I made the wrong choice.

Nothing about this one floats my canoe. Not terrible, but not great. I did like the PKD PARANOIA clue,

Unknown 5:11 AM  

I thought it was a good puzzle. I'm a fan of anything that has a reference to SOREN Kierkegaard: "People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use."

smalltowndoc 5:59 AM  

My biggest complaint is the clue for 15D. The constructor is so off-base regarding the pathophysiology of "TOOTHDECAY" (i.e, dental caries). There is no good evidence that a lack of calcium is associated with caries. Things that do contribute to caries include sugary foods, lack of dental hygiene, impaired production of saliva and maybe use of tobacco. Several published studies failed to demonstrate a relationship between between low calcium intake and caries. There is evidence that increasing calcium intake can decrease the incidence of periodontal disease and tooth loss, especially in the elderly, but that's an entirely different phenomenon.

I have a high tolerance for clue construction, especially when it's purpose is to make the puzzle more challenging. But I draw the line at fabrication.

smalltowndoc 6:05 AM  

Oops, that should be "its", not "it's ".

Lewis 6:05 AM  

I thought the theme was clever, and certainly original if it's never been done before. I started out clunky with lots of white space, and thinking "Do I really want to work my way through this?" Then, all of a sudden, the puzzle filled in in a flood. I don't know how that happened. Same brain, same clues, going from blank to super solver.

If I were a bad speller, I would have liked that SOT and BARRE were in the same puzzle, and that cross of LASSI and LUCKYDOG. I like the similarity of PEWEE and TEPEE, and that EDGY is right on the puzzle's perimeter. And I like the theme title ("It's elementary") echoed in ABC.

I do enjoy puzzles like this periodically.

Loren Muse Smith 6:33 AM  

I have to say, I got a kick out of the FE in EIFFEL TOWER and the AU in LEPRECHAUN. Those were my favorites. And I liked that the two down themers crossed other themers; this always pleases me.

But I did kinda soldier on and feel perfunctorish as I finished.

The part that sent me off into reverie land was the clue for BEIRUT. It reminded me of that puzzle from Sep. 11, 2012. I don’t know how to link it if it’s not the filled grid. Looking for that one, I stumbled upon a similar theme from Apr. 30, 2009. Didn’t do that one.

Anyway… – how ‘bout a world capital that sounds like a control-freak personality?

Four letter word, second letter O that means “fool” – dolt, dope, dodo, bozo, yoyo, BOOB. And, well, fool.

@pmdm – yeah – I never read Jeff Chen until after I post here. I always question myself on the bajillion days that I like a puzzle that Rex doesn’t, so I want to make sure I like it because I like it and not because Jeff sways me. I do love to read his takes because he can point out faults without using vitriol. But more tiresome than Rex’s crankiness is the plethora of people complaining about his crankiness. And I realize I’m totally setting myself up here for a What’s More Tiresome smackdown. I have tried to dial back the childhood-in-Chattanooga stories, though.

@Gerry Kahle – at least you knew “sylvan” had to do with wood. Not me, sonny boy.

@Robin – me, too, for thinking “T-bill.” But I do remember Cecil the sea-sick sea serpent.

@Lewis – “periodically.” Well played!

@smalltowndoc – the it’s/its goof appears here almost every day. First – who cares? We all know what you meant and know you’re not a dummy. Second – if you get a blue name, you can delete your whole comment and repost. I do it all the time if I notice I made a grammar goof. So I guess I care a little. About my goofs – not your’s.

By far the most remarkable manipulation of chemical symbols I’ve ever seen was this LA Times puzzle by Jeff Chen. The link shows the solution. It ran on Oct. 19, 2012.

I don’t really speak chemistry, but I did think of another possibility – falsies.

chefbea 7:45 AM  

Got some of the puzzle but did not take chemistry...ever so did not understand the answers. Of course knew AIOLI...DNF

bucktail 7:58 AM  

People who write long analytical commentary on puzzles need to get a life. These things are meant to be fun, not subjects of rhetorical dissections. Lighten up and just enjoy.

Conrad 8:16 AM  

@Anon 2:48: So really there's not an extra "e: in Daguerreotype; there's an extra "o". "Daguerretype" would be perfectly sensible and pronounceable

GHarris 8:16 AM  

Rex's classifications are meaningless for me so I have made up my own. 1. Did I finish 2. Did I finish without Google 3.Did I finish without peeking at the answers. If #1 it was a good puzzle. If #2 it was so so, if #3 it was a slog. Today I finished on my own, so it was a great day. Only got the theme after I finished so got no help there but getting it added much to my satisfaction as did getting answers I did not know by working the crosses and finally making slightly informed but primarily lucky guesses.

Z 8:21 AM  

Maybe a 15x15 puzzle would have suited this theme better. I mean, C'mon man, hiding an O should not have made the cut. I only just thinking the hidden U is okay because, well, U. Also, the single letter periodic table symbol with the highest atomic weight so there's that. There is a nugget of an interesting idea here, but it is too easily gotten and then sloggy, so more pyrite than gold in the end.

I will read the constructor's comment over at, but why would I read Chen's? (hyperbole alert) That's a little like going to Sean Spicer for a critique of a Trump speech. "You think it was wonderful? Isn't that nice?" It's also the reason I don't read Wordplay even though I follow Deb Amlen on Twitter. Who do you go to when you're buying a car? Auto manufacturing ad revenue supported Car and Driver or "you can't even use our positive reviews in your ads or we'll sue" Consumer Reports? Hey, how about this ad campaign, "The Consumer Reports of crossword criticism, only wittier."

QuasiMojo 8:29 AM  

Rex can say whatever he likes about a puzzle. It's his blog. And you can love it or leave it. Or ignore it. Or absorb some of his insight. He sets the bar very high. Plus don't forget "Rex Parker" is a creation, a character. So he may not exactly reflect the author's own feelings.

I usually skip Sunday puzzles because they take too long, are usually filled with junk answers and are too cutesy-wootsy for my taste. But this one today challenged me to take it on because I immediately winced when I saw the title "It's Elemental" as we've had countless element-themed puzzles of late. But Mr. Polin has outdone himself today with a wickedly clever, well-constructed theme that had me admiring his finesse.

Just so you know this really is QuasiMojo, I will add that I don't see "ethos" and "zeitgeist" as being the same thing at all. And am I the only one who can't tell an UGLI from an UGGI?

Glimmerglass 8:40 AM  

Pretty average diffuculty for a Sunday. (I tell people Sunday isn't hard -- just a long Wednesday.) The theme was interesting, if not seismic. I got LI right away, but went wrong for a while with tranquiLIZER instead of MOOD STABILIZER. Didn't know LAS-I, and couln't think of the right kind of citation (speeding ticket? honor of some kind?). I drew a blank on "big heart" even though I saw "big club" just this week (also ACE). AND I evidently can't spell LEPRECHAUN. So SOURCE took too long. I didn't know that DAGUERROTYPES used silver until I had the first five letters. WEB tells me that 7-Up used to contain Lithium citrate.

Aketi 8:57 AM  

@smalltowndoc, I was actually looking for F as protection against TOOTH DECAY and had the same reaction you did to CA.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Lewis wrote "... and certainly original if it's never been done before." That just sort of provides a definition of "original", it's not a comment on the puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith suggested falsies with "Si" in it. That's Silicon, an element, and not silicone, which falsies can be made from. There's Silicon in silicone, but I don't think that makes it a themer.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

I agree with your likes, especially elementary and abc

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I thought this was pretty fun ... the title and circles gave the theme away even before my pen hit the paper but with my first entry being LEPRECHAUN I was sold. Very cute indeed.
(I thought I might have to get help from my high-schooler who's now taking AP CHEM but theme answers were pretty easy so he didn't get to show off how much more he knows that his parents :-)).

I didn't see anyone call Rex out on his claim that "Beirut" didn't make sense. Of COURSE it did: "Bay Route" . Not my favorite clue but still pretty obvious.

Will we get something about DST next Sunday?

Happy March,

-- CS

smalltowndoc 9:26 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith:

Thanks for the tip. If I did this correctly, my name should now be blue.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Thought the puzzle was good fun and interesting. A two cups of coffee Sunday morning wake up. Really liked leprechaun and mood stabilizers. Rex, maybe you should consider the latter as a way of of adjusting your consistently negative attitude on the puzzles. Even when you are not trashing a puzzle, you generally condescend with faint praise.

Enough, on to the NYT acrostic for round two of puzzle Sunday.

TomAz 9:29 AM  

I was surprised Rex wasn't harsher in his critique. This theme is very thin. When I figured it out (which was almost immediately -- I had my hunch from just reading the title) I may have literally rolled my eyes and thought, really? is that all it is?

TEPID indeed.

LaurieG in Connecticut 9:32 AM  

Yep, agree

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Loved it! A terrific concept, beautifully executed. Clever cluing for a great many of the non-theme answers such as ECOLI, SCION, AWOKE and especially BEIRUT. (That one's a real beauty.) And the best thing about this puzzle is that you don't have to be George Barany or OISK to solve it -- chemistry not having been my favorite or best subject. But the symbols employed here are the most familiar ones, and, were you not to know them, the puzzle fills in just fine anyway. I was really, really sorry when it was over -- and how often can you say that about a Sunday puzzle? Of course I robbed myself of more time today by starting my solve late yesterday. I avoided a Natick by guessing right on the LASSI/SEATAC cross. And I had to correct fOOD STABILIZERS to MOOD STABILIZERS to get MADDEN at 45D. fOOD is from yesterday, when it was late and I had had much wine. If I'd read the clue more carefully, it wouldn't have happened in the first place. But great, great fun -- the 2nd really good Sunday in a row. We are all such LUCKY DOGS!

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

This was very difficult for me. Got the theme immediately from EIFFEL TOWER but very little else. Not much fun. Agree with Rex.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

@Loren (6:33 a.m.) -- TAIPEI

@Lewis -- Nice pun. And at 6:05 in the morning, yet!

Rob 9:50 AM  

Did people actually call Truman Capote TRU? I considered that answer straightaway and rejected it as impossibly dumb. If that was actually a nickname in regular use, all right, I guess.... I did eventually get this one finished, but it took almost 50 minutes, and nearly half of that was spent staring blankly at the upper right corner.

Teedmn 10:05 AM  

This isn't a punny kind of Sunday but I appreciate the elegance of the theme. The phrases are all real things. I love seeing DAGUERREOTYPE in a crossword, which is a debut according to Jeff Chen at xwordinfo.

I don't know how hard this was - as is my habit on Sunday, I used @r.alphbunker's randomization function and it seemed like it took a long time to get a few toeholds I could rely on. 49D was Minute "maid" for many minutes. 61D was "young man" for SONNY BOY (MAN showing up elsewhere in the grid let me drop that one.)

I coVeted the wrong "deadly sin" at 74D for most of the solve. My kINSU knife hid LUCKY DOkS. I was BOGged down by "fen". But as I chipped away at things, everything fixed itself and I was ultimately successful, albeit in 40 minutes.

I loved getting SPACE BAR from "Something hit repeatedly with the thumb" (for a while I had reversed that in my head and was thinking of things that repeatedly hit thumbs, e.g. "hammers") and I thought the clue for 77D's EDGY was, well, EDGY. I've been in that audience before, where you are so stunned by what's going on that you wonder if you have permission to laugh.

Thanks, Timothy Polin, for a great Sunday puzzle.

r.alphbunker 10:20 AM  

The negative review only served to increase my appreciation of the puzzle. I liked the idea that part of the answer was needed to understand the clue but in order to get the answer you needed to understand the clue.

Details are here.

M. Heureux 10:26 AM  

I didn't like this puzzle. I didn't like the review either. These comments are pretty awful too. And the comments about the comments are terrible. That other blog is just like this one; I don't like it. This is all so stupid and useless. Thank you and God bless.

QuasiMojo 10:27 AM  

@Rob 9:50am yes they did. There was a very good play about Capote called Tru" a few years back. Robert Morse starred in it. Written by Jay Presson Allen.

Bill Feeney 10:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RAD2626 10:30 AM  

Thought NW was a pretty hard place to start since I had no idea about PEWEE and the cluing was difficult for entire section but once the EIFFEL TOWER led me to the theme, the rest went pretty smoothly. Liked it all a lot and did not think cluing was TEPID at all. Also had giBbON like others so came back to NE toward the end and cleaned it up.

I suppose it is cheating to look up the spelling of words you know are right but do not know the spelling of like the two today. Does not seem to me to be as egregious as googling a proper name or fact driven answer but I would think most would conclude it is cheating nonetheless. Did it with DAGUERREOTYPE but not with LEPRECHAUN. So one mea culpa.

Numinous 10:34 AM  

Believe it or not, as a wannabe beatnik in high school, I was more interested in English and Art classes than in the sciences and math so I didn't memorizs the periodic table. Silly me. Anyway, I soldiered on and finished this in twe thirds my average Sunday time. I was able to intuit all the elements I hadn't already learned from crosswords from the answers, I would have to rate this as easy. I didn't go down any of OFL's rabbit holes. My solving style is more "wait and see" than "Charge!".

@pmdm, I always read Jeff before reading Rex. I enjoy the contrast between them. I like how Jeff balances construction with solving and always appreciates puzzles that deal with subjects related to his various occupations and interests. Rex is an English teacher and English teachers use the critical thinking they are supposedly teaching to tear apart whatever they are studying. I'll even bet @Rex could prove that Moby Dick is a travesty of a novel and should never have been published.

I don't remember who wondered if DAGUERREOTYPE was a NYT debut word. It is. I had a brain fart over the element, not remembering that AG is not tin. I believe, but don't quote me, DAGUERREOTYPES were sheets of tin or copper coated with some of the first uses of silver halide as a light-reactive material. I learned that sh*t in film school around a half century ago so don't quote me, I may not have that quite right.

A previous wife and I used to play dreidel every Chunnaka. That's when I discovered what all those chocolate disks covered in gold foil sold in little net bages were called Chunaka gelt. So I usually vaguely recall gimmel, hey, shin, and NUN. If I can't immediately call them to minnd, a cross or two manages to jog my memory. What I can never recall is, depending on what comes up after the spin, weather one puts or takes and how much. Previous wife had to look those up anually too.

@smalltown doc, you ruined it for me, now I hate this puzzle for the inclusion of an inaccurate clue. I can't believe I wasted my time on such drivel. Naw, I'm just kidding. I enjoyed this though I did wonder if Calcium had anything to do with teeth. Didn't seem quite right to me but I shrugged and moved along.

@Loren, I got a chuckle out of your falSIes. Of course, my inner fourteen-year-old, along with many others, i'm sure, are fools for BOOBs and will do almost anything to get their hands on one.

Rita Flynn 10:35 AM  

KPMG is an accounting firm of long standing. It was implicated in the Enron mess but got off lightly. Just FYI.

Tim Aurthur 10:38 AM  

Agree with @Z. If every themer had had a pair of letters like AU I would have really liked this. But how challenging is it to "hide" a single letter? That kind of ruined it for me.

Andrea 10:44 AM  

I finished in just over 30 mins and without googling. That spells easy to me!! (even though I was terrible at chemistry).

@M Heureux, LOL!!

GILL I. 10:45 AM  

I'm not up on my Elementary's but I really enjoyed this.
You could sense that Timothy put a lot of effort in his clueing and his fantastic answers. I know HE and FE so the WEATHER BALLOON EIFFEL TOWER was my GOODY GOODY WHEE I like this thing called a puzzle.
Misread 16D as Rider of the horse Tomato. I thought I knew my horse riders but who the hell names their horse "Tomato"...? The one thing i dislike about Sunday puzzles is the small print.
Hey, what a way to clue CAPRI. That drink sounds awful. Why put a banana in chocolate?. Poor SARTRE finding out his existence is nauseating. I rather like mine. And, I'm so glad TP left out the dreaded mayo in his AIOLI.
Fine puzzle; not a BOOB in the lot and I finally remembered what YOLO means...
Oh, and the clue for BEIRUT was bodacious - not at all flagitious as @Rex alluded to.

Cyclist227 10:55 AM  

Didn't enjoy this puzzle at all. A slog. No delight for me.

Carola 11:01 AM  

I liked this one a lot. My favorites were the answers in which the element contained in the phrase is the essential ingredient of the named item: iron in the EIFFEL TOWER, aluminum in the BASEBALL bat, lithium in the STABILIZER, or is within the named receptacle: helium in the WEATHER BALLOON, uranium in the NUCLEAR REACTOR. I'd say I wished that all of the them followed this pattern of being either constitutive or contained within, but that would have meant missing the charm of LEPRECHAUN and the lovely how-do-you-spell-it DAGUERREOTYPE. I did think that CAlcuim contained int DECAY was kind of wrong, though.

Overall, a SMOOTHER than usual Sunday solve for me, the only snag being EPICpoem crossing with the unknown-to-me CAPRI, THRACE and CECIL.

Hungry Mother 11:03 AM  

Suffering through a cold so bad that I couldn't even start any of my usual 3 crosswords yesterday. Still feeling rocky today, but I found this puzzle easy and enjoyable, maybe because I majored in Chemistry for 3 semesters before switching to Mathematics.

Mary Lou 11:18 AM  

I'm a 90 year old woman and solved it in record time - probably because of the retro clues.

Unknown 11:33 AM  

Rita Flynn is wrong

The accounting firm implicated in Exxon was Arthur Andersen, not KPMG. As opposed to getting off lightly the firm was destroyed causing thousands of innocent people at the firm who had nothing to do with Enron to lose their jobs and pensions.

Ironically, after the firm dissolved the case brought against it by the government was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court. Scant comfort to those whose career were damaged by a rogue partner and overreaching governfment prosecutors

Maruchka 11:34 AM  

Theatre expands the brain's capacity. It amazes me what sticks when performed, vis a vis when taught. Today's winner is BABOON. Totally due to seeing Sam Shepard's 'The Unseen Hand' in early 80s. Mandrill is involved..

Jeez (spell it right already, for Christ's sake), what a great Sunday puzz! Took at least an hour and required several do-overs and a couple of googles (KM..?? ). Clever clues, layers of fun. It's inspired me to think more constructionally (hat's off to you, @pmdm) . Thanks, Mr. Polin.

I am a proud happy hour goer, but never a SOT. Well, not recently.

jberg 11:38 AM  

Too easy, once I got the theme-- I got NUCLEAR REACTO from the RE, but would have got it anyway from the single circle. And after HE and FE I Wass hoping they would be in atomic-number order, but then came LI.

I really enjoyed the tricky clues, but I was on their wave-length today, so they were both fun and easy.

In addition to the CA thing, I'm pretty sure "conifer" means "cone-bearing" in which case yews are not included. And the range wasn't the range until TEPEE-dwellers were evicted from what had been the plains.

Nancy 11:49 AM  

@GILL (10:45) -- I love your misreading of 16D: "Rider of the horse Tomato". As ridden, perhaps by THE INCREDIBLE PULP?

old timer 11:49 AM  

A slog, but as Sunday slogs go, a nice one. At first I thought Polin was just going to reuse FE time and again but I don't suppose such a puzzle could have been accepted. So I had to remember that AU = gold and AG silver. Which is easier than you might think if you know "domus aurea" or golden house was Nero's palace and Oro = gold in crossword Spanish. And "argent" is French for silver and money. Foe the longest time I wanted LUCKY duck instead of DOGS, and it took a while to get SOURCE from the misleading "one given a citation" clue. And I needed the S there as LASSI is something I would never want to try.

What does the YOLO acronym mean? I'm surprised that this hasn't been asked, but will double check after I post.

Tim Pierce 11:56 AM  

Did no one else enter RONCO for GINSU at 97D? I can't have been the only one...

Stanley Hudson 12:00 PM  

Liked but didn't love it. Similar to @Numinous, I'm more of a humanities guy so never completely learned the periodic table. (Sorry @Barany) The puzzle's concept is pretty cool though.

My wires are often crossed but as far as I know they've never been tapped. We live in interesting times.

Jägermeister Von Hamburger 12:07 PM  

@ GILL I. Asked:
"Who names a horse called Tomato?"
Ans: Someone who HUNTS HEINZ. (Hinds)

@Z: Good post. Puzzle was Okay, but bordered on a slog.

@M Heureux: I'm with @ Andrea Ojeda, LMAO.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

@old timer 11:49
YOLO = Millennialspeak for You Only Live Once.

Charles Flaster 12:22 PM  

Would have posted 2 hours ago but had to watch "The Maltese Falcon" for first time since 1962 when my cousin insisted I watch it. Wonderful both times.
Puzzle was medium and very uneventful once I saw the HE in WEATHER BALLOON.
My two favorite clues were for ECOLI and BEIRUT.
Writeovers were ADS for iD S and PEEKS for sEEKS.
Thanks TP

RooMonster 12:36 PM  

Hey All !
Yowser. I guess not into photography. DAGUERREOTYPE was a big ole Huh? Apparently it's silver? But the funnier thing is I got that correct, but died on the BEIRUT answer. Had pEIRoT. Giving me pALl for BALD, WOOlED for WOODED (what do I know from a Sylvan?), and NoN for NUN. So a three letter DNF. MAN, they keep increasing...

Found puz fun enough for a neat "Elemntary" theme. Theme helped me to get most of those themers, so that ramped up the cool factor for me. Some writeovers, Rex giBbON-BABOON, ELLe-ELLA, lag-OWE, award-SCION (was proud of that one...), DoUX-DEUX, tOntO-ZORRO (not up on movie horses either).

Hung up on that damn EDSEL clue. The ole brain couldn't get off thinking actual Bomb. Odd clue for SOUND. We get a PEWEE and YEPEE missing E's, LASSIe losing its tail. And was going through the Seven Deadly Sins, only remembered five. Either I'm not that bad a person, or just my memory is shot! The latter, probably.


Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@John Child: dude. No no no.


Atomic scoreboard themers! And The Circles, too boot! Kinda cute. Especially since Uranium made the cut. Very easy solvequest at our house, mainly cuz PuzEatinSpouse knew DAGUERREOTYPE, off just the DAG. [M&A's best guess at that point was: DAGWOOD DOG PIC.]

fave fillins abounded. Samples: PARANOIA. INTHESHOP. EPICHERO. LILABNER. Could build yer own super page-turner novel, based on them four words & phrases alone, @'Mericans over there in Paris. Kick in WHARF, if U need to.

staff weeject pick: U. Or YEW, if anyone objects to the circled pick.

Liked it when we for once solvequest-ended in the SE corner with a WHEE and a high-five.

Thanx, Mr. Phosphorous LIthium Oxygen Nitride.

Masked & Anonymo11Us



Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Phosphorous Oxide LIthium Nitride.

"Wrong Again, Chemistry Breath"

Canon Chasuble 1:33 PM  

I was so excited to see the Puzzle's title, thinking it would be full of Conan Doyle & Sherlock Holmes quotes and references, but was still pretty happy with the overall theme, especially when the first word I filled in was
"CECIL", as in Cecil, the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent from "Time for Beany." Loved, especially, Daguerreoptype.
A nice way, with pen in hand, to spend an hour of a sunny Sunday morning.

Andrew Heinegg 1:49 PM  

Yes, me too. I eventually sussed it out but, I never heard of GINSU. I am ashamed of not knowing the name (not).

Andrew Heinegg 2:18 PM  

To fruitlessly add to LMS's comments; If you ever read this blog, you know that Mr. P is a tough critic. Since you know that is going to be the case, why not either ignore what he writes or give a lucid explanation of why you disagree. Ad hominem attacks on him, besides being unfair, have been done over and over again. So, even if your personality/character assessment happens to be correct, everyone has seen it.

Doing the puzzle and reading the blog can be so informative. When I saw calcium for tooth decay I thought, well, the milk ads urge you to drink milk for the calcium for strong bones and teeth are kinda similar? Then I get the explanation from smalltowndoc.

I learned some stuff from the puzzle. Never heard of a pewee or a lassi so knowledge is power and all that. I think I liked it. It had some resistance and some information. You could do a lot worse.

Tom Silverman 2:33 PM  

Regularly read and enjoy your blog Rex, thank you. Do have to suspect you suffer from some form of dyspepsia or simply wound up doing this job because you are brilliant at it, sadly, because you don't really like it. I am amazed by you brainiacs who find these puzzles boring and simple. I find myself being impressed and appreciative of the creative ingenuity involved. Off topic question to the group most likely to know. Does anyone know a word that PRECISELY means "having a large vocabulary"? I don't and have thought that is weird. No words to say knowing a lot of words?

ArtO 2:46 PM  

Like the other "old timer" I found this a slog but quite satisfying at the finish. With ten themers I would have thought this deserved more love.

CDilly52 3:03 PM  

Me too. Never saw a Ginsu tv ad.

Mr. Fitch 3:10 PM  

I found this okay, but there was something musty about it. It had that dusty-book smell.

I got the theme almost immediately. I guessed at it without even reading the title. So the thematic dimension of it was uninteresting and a bit simplistic.

NUCLEARREACTOR and AEROBICEXERCISE were weak answers because their elements are only one letter. Is it hard to find a phrase involving oxygen with "o" in it? I don't think so. Uranium is a little more specific, but "nuclear" is an overly obvious association.

There were some decent and fun answers, but this felt tired and done-before.

CDilly52 3:27 PM  

I actually chuckeled when I filled in CECIL instantly, as I was a huge fan of Beamie
And Cecil cartoons.. In fact, when one of us is dawdling the non-lagging spouse will urge the other to hurry up and often receive a "I'm comin' Beanie boy," in response. Dated, certainly but enjoyable none-the-less. I have to admit to struggling to understand the theme because I kept trying to make ALL the circled letters mean something and it wasn't until the LEPRECHAUN's "gold" that I finally got it. Could have something to do with the party last night. . .

Like many of those here, I am not in the same league of "solvers" as @Rex, and so I am still thrilled that I can solve these puzzles. Maybe not the most enjoyable or memorable Sunday offering but certainly just fine.

Masked and Anonymous 3:45 PM  

yep. @RP can tend to shade kinda toward pitbullyish, in his puz reviews. I think I've been readin his pitblogs since '08, and things ain't changed all that much. I always enjoy his write-ups, tho, even tho I often agree with his assessment one day and then disagree on the next one. It's for sure, that snarkiness has always been part of his main write-up RP-persona schtick. But maybe not so much of his Michael Sharp persona schtick, is what I'm sayin.

F'r'instance … I'm never quite sure how much he's really down on the desperate bits in a puz, or instead how much it's somethin just plain funnier than snot for him to call attention to. Dude. Michael Sharp's persona had a most recent (great) NYTPuz with mucho tasty tidbits of desperation, such as: NEN/AIME. OGLE (deja-who?!). ECO. IOS. OLDNESS. And that's just fer openers. Also, it had the luvly: ESTA. IRT. ORL. ATA. SMA. PRE. ETNAS. And, M&A's personal staff weeject pick: ROG. har. (But again, to m&e it was all just part of the desperate price he coughed up, to put together a puz with lots of primo longer answers.)

Shoot, M&A is sorta a persona, too -- as most oldpro Comment Gallery patrons probably suspect by now. Just somethin we whupped up here at Chez Runtz back in '08, to compliment @RP's snarky professorial schtick. If y'all knew who M&A really was like in civilian life, you might think M&A's been messin with yah a bit, too -- a la @RP.

Anyhoo, I digress but don't confess. Keep it up, @RPmeister; I will, if U will.

Back to today's puz: Check out that crazy 84-A SOUND clue one time … {Now hear this!}. har. Talk about messin with yah. Just sayin -- Don't make me come down there, Shortzmeister.

@John Child: did I mention?: nooo!

M&Also Again.

JC66 3:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
art mugalian 5:09 PM  

Yeah, I wasn't sure if Rex was seriously asking that question. Daguerre put that extra e in there, that's who!

Forsythia 5:24 PM  

Long day so a late start but puzzle seemed easy (24 min), but a slog as many have said. I appreciated the Kierkegaard quote (@Stamos 5:11 a.m.). This is a late post so most things have been commented on. I always have to get crosses for TBill/TBond/TNote. When I can't get started on the NW the whole puzzle seems slower but not problem as I wandered back to it. It took a long time to suss the theme for me, and not much of an aha, more of a "oh". I always learn a lot here so I'll say thanks to all...even if few will come back and read this late in the day.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

NYT puzzle for Thursday March 25 2004 is quite a challenge, for you folks with access to the archives.

Numinous 7:46 PM  

Ok, let's get serious, it was't Louis-Jacque-Mandé who added the "E", it was hie antecedents. I don't believe, as a newboen, he had any choice in the matter. I don't recalll being asked if i wanted to be a Junior but, as it happens, I am one. Oh frelling well. After looking Louis up, I discover that the chemestry involved here was a lot more complicated than I remembered. George Baraney will support me on theis, there are a lot of combinations of things involving silver that react to light. Louis discovered ont of them. I remember that there was one type of photographic plate that responded to mercury. I wanted to try that out but . . . .

So, at one point I was a photography nerd. Ok, maybe it wasn't "one" point. Something that really irks me is all of the stupid photos, call them selfies or whatever you want, that have zero awareness of little issues like head space and foreshortneing. Smart phones exemplify the worst of Instaamatic photographs. Most of those were "taken". I learned how to "make" a photograph. Big deal? Just look at the tiny feet of your friend's pictures of them posing in front of the Trevi fountain. Photography requires a little bit more than the ownership of an iPhone or a Samsug Galiy#.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

@ Tom Silverman
I love the word sesquipedalian which doesn't mean having a large vocabulary per se. But it does mean someone who uses very long words (like six-feet long words!).

smoss11 9:08 PM  

The Seaman's Bethel is located in New Bedford MA where an important chapter in Moby Dick is supposed to have taken place.

Happy Pencil 9:19 PM  

@Tom Silverman: How about "logophile"? It is weird, though, that there doesn't seem to be a precise word that fits your meaning. Now you've got me thinking ...

Charles Flaster 9:49 PM  

Just finished it.
Loved it.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Thank you for your contributions to my search for a word that PRECISELY means having a large vocabulary. You can see the problem. You could be an erudite (learned), logophile (loving words), who knows sesquipedalian (foot and 1/2 long) words, like sesquipedalian, who works as a lexicographer (compiling dictionaries), but still not actually have a gigantic vocabulary.
Any further help in this search from the brainiacs?
Thanks for any help.

Leapfinger 3:48 AM  

Remember those Three Mouseketeer takeoffs in the Tom and Jerry cartoons? At some point near the end, le petit Jerry would go en garde with his EPEE and say "C'est DAGUERRE, M'sieur Poossycat!"

@Tom Silverman, your word lives, in one of Wiktionary's appendices:
Megagaltastic - characterized by having an extensive vocabulary
Unfortunately, like YOLO, it's a protologism, but it;s a start.

Thought this was a well-Polinated Sunday; I think my only appreciable nit had to do with substituting CAlcium for Fluoride. I'm betting @Rex didn't like the BEIRUT clue because he pronounces route 'rowt' instead of 'root'. Or maybe BEIRUT is bay ruht.

Like @Lewis, I enjoy a little chemistry periodically, and this filled the formula. AT NO time did it become formulaic or elicit negative reactions to the solution. Except for that molar cavity clue. Basically, this was good pHun, and could easily turn Avogadro's No into Avogadro's Yes.
Plus it sent me off to YouTube The Elements and other of Tom Lehrer's delights.

Grid bonus points for BALLOON BABOON, the BALD/ SMOOTHER LOCKS axis, and Did you ever see a LASSI?

Container made of [circled letters] that holds inhalable substance


kitshef 8:31 AM  

I hated the BEIRUT clue, which appears to make me an outlier.

Had some problems in the middle where I knew the beginnings of words but not the ends: WOODxx, EPICxxxx, ITSxxxx, but things came together pretty well.

Like the theme, so an above average Sunday, BEIRUT clue notwithstanding.

Greg 9:39 AM  

I entered RONCO for GINSU right away. Ron Popeil was the originator of the phrase, as far as I can find.

Numinous 9:54 AM  

Anon. 12:32, >lexicomane may be the word you're looking for.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

I used to think knowledge was power until we got a new president. Now I realize you can have lots of power without any knowledge.

Tarheeled 1:07 PM  

Turned out to be pretty easy for me. Doesn't happen often. Almost no erasures. Actually no erasures since I do my puzzles in red ink and just write over any changes. Didn't catch on to the circles until I had finished the puzzle. I thought you would get a mixed-up bunch of letters from which an appropriate word or phrase would appear - kinda like Jumbles. 33 years teaching h.s. Science, you'd think I would catch on a little quicker. I enjoyed it, though.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

You Only Live Once.

rondo 11:37 AM  

[Circled letters]-water arthropod = barNACLe.
C’mon put a little challenge into it. Pretty much a slog except for DAGUERREOTYPE and LEPRECHAUN. Awfully long answers to hide the O and the U. Pretty sure that those BASEBALLBATs and most metal sotfBALLBATS are an ALuminum ALloy. Lotsa softBALLBATs are made of a carbon fiber composite.

So there’s both yesterday’s SHIN and today’s NUN on a dreidl? Huh. Perfectly good words otherwise.

Around these parts BETHEL is a private college. In a St. Paul suburb, not Edina.

Cheri OTERI and the OLSEN twins will have to battle it out for yeah babiness.

Wish this puz had been SMOOTHER. When finished did not cry WHEE.

rondo 11:51 AM  

BTW - most major league BASEBALLBATs are made of ASH.

Burma Shave 12:20 PM  


to USEON that UGLI BABOON if that POUR MAN got wise.
He OGLED her BARRE BOOB – shoulda been SMOOTHER than that –


rain forest 2:14 PM  

Even though the title more or less gave the game away, the way the elements' symbols were used in the theme entries was excellent. They helped me to figure out the answers, and in a couple of cases, with the spelling.

I didn't find this a slog at all. I found it refreshing and entertaining and educational. Deft cluing in several instances held my interest, too.

The TOOTH DECAY clue had me wondering - I had heard that before, and it may not be so cut-and-dried (or cut-and-dry, according to your preference) as @smalltowndoc suggests. But I'm not a dental researcher. Meanwhile, I'm still pondering how to distinguish a DRIB from a DRaB.

Nice Sunday puzzle. Easy-medium, but not boring.

Diana,LIW 3:55 PM  

Caught on to the use of the letters right off the Al-you-Minnie-yum bat.

An Amsterdam CPA firm - really? Who knew? And DRIB - sure. I say that all the time.

Bay Route was a smile getter.

Like @Rainy, the clues helped my solve and spelling.

A good for Sunday experience. Now, back to CC's offering in the LA Times.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 4:04 PM  

Forgot to mention - the biggest "clue" for me was whether the theme clues had letter or letter(s). So I knew right away that we wouldn't be pulling together words or a saying.

Lady Di

AnonymousPVX 4:21 PM  

Had RONCO for GINSU as above until crosses showed the error. Even though a gimmick puzzle, the gimmick here in no way interfered with the solve. The only kind of gimmick puzzle I enjoy as the tail didn't wag the dog, so to speak.

Was on the same wavelength as the author so it went quickly.

spacecraft 4:25 PM  

Yeah, so it's one o'clock. So shoot me; I forgot the spring ahead thing. I really expected (even) more grief from OFL over finding one or two symbol letters in a long phrase. Loved @rondo's NACL example; entries on that level would have been a lot more impressive.

Still there was room for foolery: for a while I had the LIthium being a fOOD STABILIZER...and I know better. And that extra E in 73-across was indeed a surprise.

I had iDS for spots--only to have them show up in the crossing FAKEIDS. LI'L ABNER got married? Wow, and he's only 15 1/2 y'ars old! I HATE him: he never ages! My DRIB was not a DRaB; it was a DRIp, till the iconic knee-breaker at 99-across went in. The major leagues are really stubborn. Little league right through college use aluminum, but the bigs continue to threaten spectators with deadly impalement. Is it going to take somebody DYING to wake them up?

This one played a bit on the sloggish side, but the fill was fairly clean, so ITSCOOL. Par.

Syndicate Bob 5:23 PM  

Sometimes the first interpretation of a clue blinds you to its alternatives. Hence when smalltowndoc jumped to the conclusion that TOOTHDECAY must exactly equal a dental carie and nothing else, many commentors agreed that the clue/answer cannot be correct.

This is, well, herd mentality. Luckily for us, we have me to provide synonyms of decay to make things right. Let's agree with smalltowndog that increasing calcium intake can decrease the incidence of periodontal disease and tooth loss. So TOOTHDECAY canmean tooth loss or even dental decline, loss of tooth-ability. Or just a loss of enamel that creates a hole in a tooth, whatever the cause.

Not to beat a dead canine, but the word "decay" here means something other than the medical definition.

And with deep respect for the late, great punster who played Princess Leia, I thank you for reading this discussion of a carie fissure.

Z 5:40 PM  

Think the objection is the stress of Bei-RUT vs. unstressed Bay Route.

leftcoastTAM 6:07 PM  

Happy biannual "Disturbed the Sleep Cycle Day" to syndilanders. (Do we really need it?)

The puzzle: Got all the correct letters in but didn't see how the theme applied, so it was sortofa slog.

Clever, but not all that interesting.

William Heyman 6:29 PM  

Got the puzzle, but not "Bay Route." Been to the ME and heard Beh root.

Bananafishie 5:46 PM  

At least the aural world capital clue was for BEIRUT ... who knows what an aural clue might have been for Bangkok.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

Probably too late to post a comment here that anyone will respond to, but is my local newspaper the only one that printed three WRONG LETTERS in the answer grid?? (syndi,East Bay Times). Their answer grid had COt/tHEE in place of COW/WHEE; BaTCH/aWE in place of BOTCH/OWE, and SCmT/SMmOTHER (??) in place of SCOT/SMOOTHER. Those obviously did not fit the clues in any way that I can imagine. Here I am all proud of myself for acing the puzzle only to have the newspaper tell me I'm thrice wrong. Maybe the "failing New York Times" really is FAKE NEWS. #EnemyOfThePeople ;)

wcutler 8:52 PM  

@jberg, the fleshy red "berries" on Yews are female seed cones, and they also have male pollen cones.

grannyd 10:32 AM  

I am new to this site. Rex is annoying and so are the commenters.
Yes, get a life. Stop being so elitist.
Some of you belong in "Hillary's deplorable basket".

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Unknown 12:27 PM  

Personally I feel sorry for Rex. I think he's a little jaded. For Rex and all you Sunday Speed-Solvers, try to remember that most of us "amateurs" feel really good if we can do the puzzle in under two hours. What you call "dated" clues give us much more pleasure.

So I really enjoyed this one. Found the theme answers clever, for the most part.

And to smalltowndoc, you obviously don't take care of very many pregnant women!

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