Ghostbuster Spengler / SUN 4-2-17 / King who spoke at Kennedy's inaugural ball / Writer who coined term banana republic 1904 / French region now part of Grand Est / Pride parade letters / Fifth-century pope dubbed Great / Stop in sailor's lingo

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Constructor: Jerry Miccolis

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Initial Description" — theme answers are APRONYMS:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ABOLLA (20A: Togalike Roman cloak) —
An abolla was a cloak-like garment worn by Ancient Greeks and Romans. Nonius Marcellus quotes a passage of Varro to show that it was a garment worn by soldiers (vestis militaris), and thus opposed to the toga. // The abolla was, however, not confined to military occasions, but was also worn in the city. It was especially used by the Stoic philosophers at Rome as the pallium philosophicum, just as the Greek philosophers were accustomed to distinguish themselves by a particular dress. Hence the expression of Juvenal facinus majoris abollae merely signifies, "a crime committed by a very deep philosopher." // The word abolla is actually a Latinization of the Greek ambolla (ἀμβόλλα) or anabole (ἀναβολή), for a loose woolen cloak. (wikipedia)
• • •

There are lists of these out there. On website. Whole databases of them. I can't take a theme seriously that involved no originality on the part of the constructor. FREE AIR, RELEASE TENSION! See! Not original! I just typed FART into the database and bam! Here, watch: LESBIAN ... "Lady Enjoys Sexual Behaviour Involving Another Non-male"; LEWINSKY ... "Licking Elite Willy Is Nearly Sex! Kenneth Yells." These are no doubt entertaining, but constructors should be coming up with their *own* gimmicks, not lifting others'. Most of the apronyms in this puzzle are either straight out of the database I'm using, or are slightly modifications of the database versions. It's not that hard to make these things yourself. You could even narrow your "clues" to, say movie stars (STELLAR THESPIAN REALLY EARNS EVERY PLAUDIT!), or baseball players (BEEFY OUTFIELDER NEVER DID STEROIDS) or presidents (TWITTER RANTS UNDERSCORE MORONIC PRESIDENCY), or whatever. Now, keeping them under 21 letters in length would be a challenge, but ... I think it's probably doable. And then you might have something. Something tight, contemporary, genuinely wacky, and (above all) *original*.


There were only two trouble spots in this thing—the word ABOLLA (!?!?!) (20A: Togalike Roman cloak), which I think I'd rather have than EBOLA, but only barely, and then the whole SW corner. The latter problem is Entirely Foreseeable when you look at the Downs. After the dumb partial AS WAS (?), there's name name name name. CHANG has the same number of letters as STICH (102D: 1991 Wimbledon champ Michael). ORWELL has the same number of letters as O. HENRY (97D: Writer who coined the term "banana republic" (1904)) (I knew the date was wrong for Orwell, but still...). I blanked on the Ghostbuster name (106D: Ghostbuster Spengler) (wanted OTTO ... I think because OTTO Dix <=> EGON Schiele; at least that's the artsy, high-culture excuse I'm gonna use). And I never knew the Préval guy was a RENÉ (107D: ___ Préval, two-time president of Haiti).  So that was very rough. Nothing else about the grid was rough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. here's an apronym theme that is much tighter and much more original (NYT, May 21, 2000)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Mel Torme 12:06 AM  

I call Natick on cross of KAMPALA and SANAA. I guessed "a" because SANAA seemed familiar, but there are several other letters that could work.

MommaJ 12:17 AM  

So easy. So boring. Not worthy of the Sunday NYT.

C Jung 12:33 AM  

123A Introversion is not SHYNESS! A false and harmful stereotype.

Unknown 12:36 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for the link to the apronym site in your review -- I went through the exercise of typing in all six theme entries into that site's search function, and the results were a revelation. I do hope that this second New York Times crossword for @Jerry Miccolis won't provoke nearly as much controversy as his debut offering from last July.

@Steve Reed has already posted about his Natick involving KAMPALA, to which I'll add the crossing of SKOR with TARARA, and almost everything crossing ABOLLA (which was @Rex's word of the day) . (In the "close but no cigar" category, has anyone seen a recent film about a chess prodigy called "The Queen of Katwe"?)

Interesting to have UNC APPEAR in the answer grid, even as the Tar Heels punched their ticket into the NCAA men's championship game for Monday. I suppose it was only a matter of time before SEAN Spicer would work his way into a clue ...

puzzle hoarder 12:38 AM  

The only challenge I found in this puzzle came from the two areas our host described. I had to work to get those but the rest was easy.

Robin 12:39 AM  

@Steve Reed: SANAA shows up in the crosswords too often to complain that it's a Natick.

Only trouble I had with the SW was that I entered DIS before figuring out what 120A.

I did like seeing FRISSON.

Finished in 2/3 my average time for Sunday

puzzle hoarder 12:41 AM  

The only challenge I found in this puzzle came from the two areas our host described. I had to work to get those but the rest was easy.

puzzlehoarder 12:44 AM  

The only challenge I found in this puzzle came from the two areas our host described. I had to work to get those but the rest was easy.

puzzle hoarder 1:02 AM  

The two areas our host mentioned were the only parts of this puzzle that offered any challenge. The rest was easy.

TomAz 1:43 AM  

This was godawful. Worst NYT xword I've done in quite a while. The theme was dreadfully dumb, but the fill worse. ABOLLA DOTARDS TARARA ASANAS? Fuck you. Maleska-esque. Unworthy.

And shyness is not the same thing as introversion. This alone should get Shortz fired.

Rex should have come down much harder on this piece of dreck.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

WINGEDANDSTINGING grammatically ugly as well. Overall an ugly puzzle and no joy to solve.

Larry Gilstrap 2:15 AM  

Now I learn that an APRONYM is something that I am supposed to know. My phone tells me that it is a thing. Well, I will file that away for future reference. Might I offer my two pence to any constructors out there, don't bother with this nonsense. I think OFL pretty much trashed this concept, and I second the motion. Come up with something fresh. How about an AGRONYM, or an AFRONYM, or...? I got nothing.

I look at Twitter and sometimes follow the comments way too deep. Anything with the suffix -TARD is objectionable, unless it involves a stretchy RAIMENT, then I'm on board. Believe it or not, ST. LEO included gymnastics in his daily regimen. I could be wrong on this point, citation needed.

I always carry an ATLAS around in my Subaru when I get stuck in one of those maze like housing developments in Irvine. Turn left at KAMPALA until you hit SANAA.

Drab songbird is a clue for WREN? The cactus wren is the state bird of Arizona. What a character! Ever see a rock wren or a canyon wren doing its thing in the desert? We can't all be peacocks.

Moly Shu 2:21 AM  

Yea chang before STICH here had me questioning EGON, which I knew was correct. I didn't like this much either. Maybe it had something to do with the UNC game (Go Heels, hi @Leapy and @LMS). Yea they won, but i bet the "over" in the game which was 153. It finished on 153 which means I didn't lose, but UNC missed 4 foul shots in the last 5 seconds that would have won it for me. I've had bad beats before, but this one was especially tough, and it wasn't even a "beat". So maybe I was just in a foul mood.

Sydney Joe from Kokomo 3:16 AM  

I solved this while ERNIE Johnson was talking about UNC. Very META, sort of. Speaking of UNC, man that is a filthy program. Oregon is pretty bad as well but UNC is criminal, and everyone knows it. Speaking of Ernie Johnson, someone should get him on a talk show with Steve Buscemi and John Waters, and they could talk about how they all look like Don Knotts.

A lot of people in this puzzle. You know, I've never once watched a movie who's title began with the words "Tyler Perry," and I don't know anyone who has, yet he is one of the highest paid filmmakers in Hollywood even though he lives in Atlanta. Black people must go see his movies three or four times each or something. Speaking of assholes, we've got professional liar and future hanged war criminal SEAN Spicer, along with horn-dog and shitty writer AYN Rand. Oh look over there, it's DONNIE of the miscreant Wahlberg brothers. ALAN King is here, and most if not all of his fellow comedians thought he was a intensely miserable and unlikeable person. They say the same thing about Jackie Mason too. Not just normal unlikeable but pathologically unlikeable. I'm sure Mama CASS and LONI Anderson would have hated each other's guts. What do Bobby SEALE, ELIHU Yale, Wanda SYKES, and IAN Holm all have in common? They're all jerks. So is STLEO The Crossword Pope Who Usually Has Roman Numerals After His Name.

What's the difference between shyness and introversion? Nothing, that's what. Both words describe self-centered weirdos who end up on a roof with a rifle blasting away at normal people, so make fun of them now while you can. Without the rifle they can't defend themselves, so go for it. Have fun and be creative with your bullying and taunting. The LGBT community is pretty annoying as well. We get it, you're gay; give it a rest. In fact, nothing sets back the progress of gay rights quite like a gay pride parade. Assless leather chaps always make a good first impression. And if we're talking about rifles AND assless leather chaps, we're talking about Charlton Heston. Yep, THAT Charlton Heston.

Other than all this crap I really liked the puzzle. That is until I got here and learned that the constructor might have used a database or something. Well that just RUINED my solving experience retroactively... Rex, nobody cares. Only you care. No one else does. Do you know why? Because you don't try hard enough Rex. If you REALLY cared you would protest in front of the Times building in Manhattan, with a sign board and a bell. Protest and chant about databases and pangrams and Hitler and ping-pong and old movies and you can ring your bell at the end of every chant. Fox News is just down the street so if you play your cards right and act like a complete lunatic you might swing a nice TV deal out of it. You could be the token "librul" that all the other panelists make fun of. You may object now but if they hand you a garbage bag full of money you might think twice about it. And I don't mean a white kitchen garbage bag, I mean a big green lawn and leaf garbage bag, packed full of those stacks of $100 bills with the paper band that drug dealers always use in the movies. Hell, I'd go do it for a garbage bag like that, but you'd be much better at it than me

Thank you and God bless. Please spay and neuter your pets.

jae 4:20 AM  

Medium for me. SW and NW were tough, @puzzle hoarder I agree, the rest was pretty easy. Once again, I liked this more than @Rex did. Not sure that knowing that the theme answers came from a data base has all that much to do with whether I should like or not like the puzzle? This was new to me and it took a bit a sussing to grok what was going on...hence, liked it more than @Rex did.

@Steve Reed - SANAA may have seemed familiar because It has been in the news lately...rebel overthrow of government, Saudi Arabian intervention...

Lewis 6:33 AM  

I liked the concept. I'm sure I've made up phrases like the theme answers at points in my life, but not in a long time. And it was fun to try to figure out the theme answers during the solve. It did seem apropos to have ACRONYM in the grid. There were a couple of bumps, but lots of smooth sailing, and it was a good opportunity to refresh the brain with some old-time crosswordese: ABOLLA, HEAVETO, ELIHU, NARNIA, ERATO, DOTARDS, OSSA. I'm not a big fan of old-time crosswordese-- European rivers and such -- but it needs to be in the solving toolbox because it doesn't appear that it will go away.

I see that cross of AMAZON and ZITHERS, and yes, you can get the latter on the former.

Unknown 6:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 7:38 AM  

Got the theme at ATLAS...then the rest was easy...Did have to google a bit
Nothing better than dipping snap peas in ranch dressing

Go Tar Heels!!!

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Because Rex hates nearly every puzzle, it was hard to take his criticism of this seriously until I went to the apronym website that confirms his claim. WTF, Will and the NYT!? For my $40 a year and for the sake of the reputation of the New York Times, do better than this!

Z 7:53 AM  

Apronym looks like something you'd embroider on your smock.

I liked this more than Rex, but I don't disagree with a single point he made.

@Moly Shu - M. Steele is allegedly advising his clients to make nice to Pence because a certain someone is thinking of resigning. Feeling good about the under. The mendacity of billionaires is always a surer bet than the free throw shooting of college kids.

Birchbark 7:53 AM  

In @Sydney Joe, we see Hunter Thompson's ghost channeling in on today's crossword puzzle and the angst it inevitably generates.

Wrens aren't flashy plumage-wise, so are drab that way, but they're so lively and fun that I could only get there when the crosses forced it.

Passing Shot 8:17 AM  

Disappointed to hear that constructors use commercially available lists. I can't imagine how hard it is to make a puzzle -- I don't understand concepts like cheater squares, east/west vs north/south symmetry, etc. -- but why sully your efforts with bought words? This is a rich language; work al ittle harder and come up with your own words.

Charles Flaster 8:18 AM  

Easy even without knowing the theme. Agree with most of Rex.
Construction could not have been easy even with themers in place.
Thanks JM

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:38 AM  

Yeh it wasn't a great puzzle, but how is shyness a def of introversion? Not the same thing at all. Wrong wrong wrong.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Some sticky spots, SW and in the ABOLLA area, but eventually it all came into focus. All of the Apronyms were new to me, ASWAS the entire concept of an apronym, so I dont much care that the theme answers can be found in a data base. Nothing much new under the sun, after all. Especially in the essentially trivial pursuits of crossworld. Complaining that you can look these up is almost as silly to me as complaining that the ordinary words could be found in a dictionary. Don't constructors already lean heavily on google and other search engines to fill their grids and tighten their clues?

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

If one has to "google a bit" they shouldn't say the puzzle was easy

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Worked in IT for years as a systems developer. Every time we began a new project, our first step was to think up an apt acronym for it. We had no idea there was a name for such a thing. Cute!

'mericans back in Paris 9:07 AM  

In defense of OFL, I'd say he was doing his job as a critic. It is right and proper that he should point out the faults that he does.

Although we guessed what was going on immediately, we still had some fun filling in the puzzle -- except for the upper Midwest (entered MApEs and ABeLeA). But it does disappoint to see that the constructor simply turned to available wordlists. He did modify SWAN, MARS and ATLAS slightly, but the other THREE come straight from

AAH GEE, folks: SANA'A crossing KAMPALA is not a Natick. These are both national capitals and frequently appear the news.

My grumbles are more with the cluing. WASPs may be pests to some people (mainly growers of apples and pears), but most species leave people alone and don't sting unless provoked. Many are important pollinators, and fig trees in particular would not produce fruit without them. The New Yorker ran a wonderful article on this symbiosis last august (

Second, what burglar worth his or her name would be frightened off by an ARF? A big GRRR-ROOOF!, perhaps, but not an ARF. An ARF! indicates either that the dog that will at most try to savage your ankles, or more likely that it is calling attention to itself so that you might pet it.

Question: does one go LIMP after a SNAP PEA?

Just returned from a short week in Morocco. Learned some fun facts. Q: Which city has the first, and so far only, National Historic Landmark located outside the USA? Which city was the inspiration for the film Casablanca? In which city did Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Tennessee Williams, among others, spend extended periods of time in the 1950s? The answer to all is: Tangier. And with which country does the United States have the longest unbroken Treaty of Peace and Friendship? Answer: Morocco. Signed in 1787 and renegotiated in 1836, the treaty is still in force. (I wonder how long that will last.)


kitshef 9:09 AM  

Well, that was a waste of time. If all the themers had been like WASP, where there is a well-known ACRONYM – or at least an initialism – that gets reinterpreted, I’d have liked it better.

But at least it was not a waste of much time. Way too easy. SKijump before SKATING, Orwell before OHENRY, and mal before DYS were the only overwrites.

Clue for PAGAN is off. It’s like cluing CANADIAN as ‘resident of the US’. Sure, there are some Canadians residing in the US, but US residence is not characteristic of Canadians, and Canadianism (Canadianness?) is not characteristic of US residents.

Tita 9:36 AM  

Best part of today's puzzle was @Larry G's entire post.

The puzzle was ok, but way too many names. I did manage it without cheating, but it's just hard to be joyful about plugging in random 'celebrity' names.

One of my favorite restaurants is in the Grand Est, though I had never heard that term until today. We discovered it when driving through the area. A charming old half-timber building with the restaurant name hanging on a wooden sign. Hanging underneath that sign - another saying "Asperges". We decided that any restaurant who keeps a sign in a drawer somewhere for 11months of the year, just to signal that the tender white springtime shoots are in, must do a great job with all their food. We were not disappointed, and it became a frequent stop.'s coming up on Spargelzeit again, isn't it, @AiP...?

Teedmn 9:36 AM  

Nice to have ACRONYM in the grid to sort of describe the theme, in case the title didn't do it. My favorite was OTHERWISE KNOWN AS YES.

OTHERWISE, this was rather uneventful. A DNF at 56D with dAN instead of IAN (really, AdD to LOCATE A STREET didn't make any sense to me either but a shrug and an eyeroll gets one past such things nonchalantly if not accurately).

Actually, when I got the "sorry" after I checked my solution, I thought the error was going to be USNR crossing ERNIE because I didn't know Mr. Johnson (sports, you know, or rather, I don't know) and was shaky on the US Navy Reserve, but that turned out OKAY (in this case not otherwise known as yes).

Thanks JM, for the sophomore effort (both Sunday puzzles so far, impressive.)

Hungry Mother 9:41 AM  

Well, I enjoyed spending some quality time this Sunday morning on the puzzle. Very doable with just the right amount of crunch to make my efforts worthwhile. I don't care if constructors use databases, plagiarism, or smoke weed while they're providing me with some fun. I'm almost always grateful for their efforts.

QuasiMojo 9:50 AM  

To fellow commenters, can we leave out four-letter expletives when trashing something (or loving it)? This is not Twitter. IMDB took down all of its fascinating and longstanding comments boards recently because of the ratched-up obscene tone of the commentary and the trolling (not to mention spamming.) It would be a shame if we had that happen here.

I sped through this puzzle in less than a half-hour. I love acronyms but these did not seem worthy of the effort. And how is a TRIO "three rolled into one"? A trio is still three things unless I guess one is only speaking grammatically, like the Comma Queen at The New Yorker.

RooMonster 10:04 AM  

Hey All !
Well, shoot, I liked it, Apronym list be damned! Jerry had an idea, found that site, and went about constructing a SunPuz that turned out pretty nice. So, sorry Rex, but I must disagree with you today.

Got theme at TRIO, also favorite one. Liked OKAY also, othets seem a bit contrived, but they do fit the scheme. Couple of hold-ups in NE, has UScg and dog/GoINgUp for ARF/GAINFUL. But then saw SALUTES and SCHLEPS (great word, btw) and figured out the rest up there. Other writeovers, told/EVer-SANG/EVAH, Aortic-ATRIAL, isoLde-OTELLO, eAtSAT-NAGSAT.

No one's mentioned our old long lost friend ELHI! Missed that for a while. Now we need OMOO back.

SKOR again, goes from people not knowing it exists to -ese in a flash! WHIMSY fun to see. And ZITHERS!


Unknown 10:11 AM  

Ha ha. Good rant.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Is "supercilious" an apronym? Every word, and every word trick one can imagine is going to be found on the internet. It's not possible for every puzzle to be absolutely unique, with a concept never before conceived.

You think you got cheated because there's an apronym site? How about words from a dictionary or an atlas? I guess every word in a good crossword is one the constructor made up. That would be a tough solve, but very original.

I got this from the internet. It's not my original work:

supercilious - arrogant, haughty, conceited, disdainful, overbearing, pompous, condescending, superior, patronizing, imperious, proud, snobbish, snobby, smug, scornful, sneering; informal: hoity-toity, high and mighty, uppity, snooty, stuck-up, snotty, snot-nosed, jumped up, too big for one's britches

TOCraig 10:13 AM  

Agree with Quasi above. Perhaps some of the more nasty comments could be removed. The puzzle seemed fine, but easy. Didn't know Madea or Abolla. All else a cinch.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

Did not like, strongly object to characterizing wrens as drab, cancel my subscription

Unknown 10:18 AM  

I never get the "do something original" complaint for crosswords. Seriously? I haven't missed the Sunday Times puzzle in a decade or so, and I can count the ones that seemed truly original on one hand. It's a silly expectation.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Sam Adams is a lager, not an ALE

Nancy 10:31 AM  

Aw, shucks. Eventually no one will have to create anything; the Internet will do it all for us. Maybe the bots on the Internet will do it all for us. I had no idea that these ACRONYMS could be simply lifted from the web -- no idea at all. So I guess I gave the constructor too much credit for coming up with them.

I never thought of ALAN King, so although I had the --AN, I Naticked on the cross with MADE- and the Roman toga-like cloak. I had two empty squares. MADEA is the title of a film? I've never heard of it.

As for the rest of it, it was interesting enough to hold my attention. That's not always true on a Sunday. I agree that there was some awful fill, but awful fill never bothers me as it does others on this blog. This puzzle was just OKAY -- but not OKAY in the Otherwise Known As Yes sense of the word. And can someone tell me why these things are known as APRONYMS, not ACRONYMS? Thanking you in advance for the answer. Which, come to think of it, it's possible someone has already answered. Going back now to look.

'mericans in Paris 10:39 AM  

@Tita: Indeed, Spargelzeit is coming up in Germany soon. But we were once in snowy Switzerland, in early February, and surprised to see that all the restaurants were running special dishes that featured asparagus. Confused, we asked a waiter what was going on. Wasn't the local harvest months later in the year? "Ja," he said, "Aber diesem Spargelen kommen aus Chile!" Welcome to globalization.

I disagree with those who equate using phrases from existing lists with using words found in a dictionary. If a constructor is going to make wacky apronyms, IMHO he or she ought to create some new ones and make them truly wacky (like @Rex's for TRUMP).

Ellen S 10:40 AM  

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines "Introvert" first as "a shy, reticent person", and then gives the psychological defining of someone concerned with his own thoughts rather than outside stuff. So equating SHYNESS and introversion in a crossword seems like less of a stretch than many we've accepted. The two words are not only vaguely related, they are actually blessed as synonyms be a respected dictionary (that is, if I can believe the citation given in the iPad "Look Up" feature).

I thought the puzzle was fun. Fairly easy except for some proper nouns. In Crossworld, people eat oats, plural, but only horses eat a single OAT. How frequently the singular shows up in puzzles is probably related to how often a horse must eat a single OAT in order to survive.

Norm C. 10:42 AM  

@Anon 10:23 "Sam Adams" is a brand. There is a Sam Adams Boston Lager as well as a Sam Adams Boston Ale (and a Stout and an Octoberfest, ...) . Cheers!

Gorelick 10:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gorelick 10:44 AM  

Apronyms are back-formations. The word exists already and someone cleverly coins a phrase definition from its letters. A famous example is POSH, which is widely believed to be an acronym of the (senseless, if you think about it) phrase "port out, starboard home," which was said to be the location of prime berths on ocean liners. The claim is that POSH was stamped (or otherwise marked) on the luggage (or tickets) of fancy travelers.

Mohair Sam 11:00 AM  

Yeah, what @Rex said, right down to Chang for STICH.

@Sydney Joe from Kokomo - Fun post, still laughing. I'm sure you feel better.

@Moly Shu - You at the Final Four? I was thinking it looked like there wasn't a good seat in the house, apparently that's true. Yikes!

@Z - Be careful what you wish for, Pence might bring the Republicans together and actually get some things done that you won't like. McCain's hate for Trump is personal and deep (why not?), I believe it will always split the party and make the Senate difficult for Trump to deal with.

Hey - and what the heck is this DOTARDS crap? I'm not happy being in the only remaining class that can be insulted. Damn!

@UNC fans - Sorry, but can't pull for your Roy Williams even though my team is in the ACC. From Friday's NY Times: "Amid the blue-and-white pompoms, few are so rude as to mention that the University of North Carolina, the Microsoft of college basketball, remains enmeshed in a scandal of spectacular proportions. Put simply, for two decades until 2013, the university provided fake classes for many hundreds of student athletes, most of them basketball and football players." It goes deeper, btw - this crap happened any place else (except maybe Duke) and heads are rolling and the NCAA has handed out years of probation. Still hard to root for Gonzaga though, what a cakewalk they've had.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

@Gorelick "Port out, starboard home" is not senseless. It relates to passages by ship from England to India. On the passage "out" (i.e., to India), the starboard side is the side most exposed to the sun, which can heat up the rooms on that side to an uncomfortable temperature. On the return journey home, the reverse is true. So rooms that were "port out, starboard home" benefited from being on the shady side.

Norm 11:05 AM  

I don't believe I've seen the theme before (or not often enough to have it ring a bell), and I kind of enjoyed figuring out the theme answers with as few crosses as possible, but the fill was dreck and drove my pleasure level into the basement.

Kim Scudera 11:08 AM  

Exactly! Thank you!

Mr. Grumpypants 11:10 AM  

From one source:
POSH: Most likely derived from Romani posh (“half”), either because posh-kooroona (“half a crown”) (originally a substantial sum of money) was used metaphorically for anything pricey or upper-class, or because posh-houri "half-penny" became a general term for money.
Evidence exists for a slang sense from the 1890s meaning "dandy", which is quite possibly related.
A popular folk etymology holds that the term is an acronym for "port out, starboard home", describing the cooler, north-facing cabins taken by the most aristocratic or rich passengers travelling from Britain to India and back. However, there is no direct evidence for this claim.

RooMonster 11:26 AM  

Made up my own for Republican and Democrat. Can't remember the Democrat one, but the Rep one is:
Rarely Educated People Using Bullshit Language In Congress And Nationwide. :-)

Will try to remember the other.


Wm. C. 11:26 AM  

@Robin -- Yep, me too on dis => dys. Also agree that Sanaa is familiar crossword-see.

After-the-fact I recognized Kampala, but admit that I Googled it. An above-average amount of unknown fill for me today. (Madea, Abolla,

@Gorelick -- Well, shucks, I learned something today. I always thought POSH was an apronym (learned this word today too). But says it's of unknown origins in the early 1920s, and NOT "Port Outward, Starboard Home."

JC66 11:29 AM  

@Anonymous Sydney Joe from Kokomo

Great post, keep 'em coming.


How many groups in a trio?

Nancy 11:30 AM  

@Z (7:53) -- Oh, please be right! I don't know where you heard it, but please, please, please be right! My heart started beating wildly when I read your post.

@Anon 8:40 -- Amen.

@John McKnight (10:14) -- I felt that the poor wren was being dissed, too. After all, a pretty song is more important than pretty feathers. Handsome is as handsome does, right?

Dragoncat 11:36 AM  

No complaints about "el hi"......? I also struggled with SW corner but got the theme early on and enjoyed this one.

Charley 11:36 AM  

Am I the only one who's never heard of Madea?

Nancy 11:40 AM  

Thanks, @Gorelick. I missed your APRONYM answer until now. But that explains everything. It's sort of like the coinage of RETRONYM in a way.

No comment 11:53 AM  

Agree with commenters who disliked so many names in the grid. DNF because I got bored of guessing names of "famous" people who are mostly irrelevant/uninteresting to me.

CDilly52 11:53 AM  

All I have to say is that on behalf of my charming family of house WRENs, (who frequent the same spot in my eaves each year) I am offended. They are DRAB in neither song nor appearance.

old timer 12:01 PM  

I finished this puzzle with a great deal of satisfaction and pride, and think it deserves praise, not panning. So what if there is a list of apronyms the constructor could have used? The question is, were they clever, and at just the right level of difficulty? These were. In any case, there are several Mr. Miccolis could have remembered, such as the ones for WASP and OKAY. I've seen the OKAY one myself, and evidently OFL had seen the WASP one. And the MARS one actually looked familiar once I finally got it. Would the constructor somehow be more *moral* if he diligently created a list of such words/phrases and wrote in his commonplace-book over the years?

Writeover: "alertly" before CLOSELY. Had I gotten CLOSELY at first, the charming SCHLEPS would have been obvious.

@'mericans, what is that US historic monument in Tangier?

Gorelick 12:24 PM  

I really do think POSH as an acronym for "port out, starboard home" after some practice of stamping or tagging a passenger's luggage or ticket must be folk etymology, because if you think about it, why would they have to stamp or tag anything with that information. Who would need to know that -- the crew? the passenger herself?

QuasiMojo 12:26 PM  

I think the most famous "apronynm" of all is the one for the word I objected to above. I won't repeat it here or I might be accused of being a hypocrite. LMS might toss me into her "j'acuzzi." But it has something to do with kings, and not "Alan."

"Drab" just means dull brown or gray. I don't think the constructor meant to offend any of our avian friends or their owners.

@JC66, thanks. I see your point. But there are not three "groups" to start with in a trio, so I don't see how they can be "rolled" into one. But I'm being too literal. It's just a turn-of-phrase.

GILL I. 12:31 PM  

@George...You've never heard TA RA RA Boom-De-Ay? Have you had yours today? I had mine yesterday...And we just had SKOR the other day.
Well stupid me. I thought this was fun and now I KNOW what an apronym is and that you can construct an entire puzzle by just using the internet and not your wiles....
I enjoyed it because it felt different. I know it's been DONE, but I don't care. The one thing I didn't care for were the same names everyone else is bitchin about.
Had lots of do-overs. Entebbe before KAMPALA. Moses before EL CID. Dog before ARF and who cares anyway...
@Sydney Joe....Thanks for the hearty loud laugh. Encore.
Let the good comments begin!

'mericans in Paris 12:34 PM  

Hey, @old timer! The building is that of the former American Legation, now the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies. You can read more about it at the links below:

Gorelick 12:37 PM  

The Snopes item on POSH is entertaining and persuasive. That's all from me on POSH, I promise.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

I think of Phelps swimming and SWANs floating. WASPs aren't pests - they kill gypsy moths.

Rob 1:10 PM  

I didn't hate the theme, but I've got complaints about the final product. The clue for SHYNESS is suspect, for example, and so is the answer for ATLAS. An atlas doesn't normally get down to street-level, in my experience, the phrase construction is terribly unnatural. Just not a well-executed puzzle.

Unknown 1:21 PM  

Dragoncat said: "No complaints about "el hi"......?"

ELHI is a bit of well-worn crosswordese. It hardly exists in the real world, but is part of the standard crossword lexicon.

That is not to say there's no complaints about it, but that the complaints are also well-worn, and constructors/editors aren't very responsive to them.

Shoeless Jo from Hannibal MO 1:22 PM  

I am loath to accept apropos as translating to 'appropriate' (instead of 'with respect to'), but in this case, apronym is a portmanteau (or mash-up) of 'apropos' and ACRONYM.

I rather like it as the white lacy scrap that protects the classic French maid's uniform.

Thought the theme was OK, and that the lower 1/3 had the best fill, as I definitely had a FRISSON with FRISSON, and when I saw AS WAS AS AN AS. It's probably a function of MINED over META. WHIMSY, yes, but I liked it.

Some fine ranting from LarryG and SydneyJoe from Kokomo.

Alan_S. 1:37 PM  

Ever consider a career in stand-up?
You could headline the next RNC.

Carola 2:11 PM  

I rarely give up on a Sunday puzzle, but I tossed in my (digital) pencil on this one. I don't mind about the databases @Rex mentioned; it was just that filling in the grid seemed more a chore than a pleasure. Best thing about it, I thought, was the title. I wish the descriptions had had some wit.

Andrew Heinegg 2:12 PM  

My take on this initial theme is that, while it may be of concern to purists, is it a big deal that it can be gotten off the Internet? My answer is no as long as the result takes some work to solve and yields interesting results. This puzzle is severely lacking in this regard. None of the six theme answers has the least bit of zing to it. So, to me, Rex's panning of this effort is, if anything, understated.

And no, Charley, you are not the only one who did not know Madea.

I knew that the description of wren as drab would irritate the birders whether it was 'correct' to do so or not.

The entire puzzle just had a ho hum un-involving and tricky only in so far as you did not know proper names feel to it, a disappointing Sunday for sure.

I believe that perhaps the only thing that the Country as a whole can agree on is that things are a mess. It seems like there is no outcome that would be over the satisfactory line for anyone.

Many people believe that Trump is going to be proven guilty of treason, which would get Pence in and, as Mohair Sam says, be careful as a liberal what you wish for. Whatever you think about Trump, it looks pretty clear that his plan to walk into D.C. and run the government like one of his businesses is a non-starter. DT, you have entered a world where people don't plan to fall all over themselves to get what you want done when you want it done because the perceptions are that you don't know what you are doing and refuse to learn how the system works. If you want to take the system apart, you have to understand how it is constructed.

Let's take it to the next level and assume that Rachel Maddow's show claiming that Pence is in on the whole business and that he would be brought down too is right. Okay, how would you feel about Paul Ryan as President and Orrin Hatch as V.P.? Stock up on antacid no matter whom you support and what you are hoping to happen.

evil doug 2:48 PM  

Keen grasp of the obvious, Andrew. I'm not offended by your politics. I'm offended by how boring you are, simply repeating everything Rachel, Chris, the Times, et al, already say with tiresome regularity. At least come up with some original thought, will you?

Anoa Bob 2:53 PM  

As @Ellen S. points out, SHYNESS and "introversion" have enough overlap in ordinary lingo to justify that clue and answer. But in contemporary psychology there are no longer categories or types of personalities, like extrovert or introvert, but instead there are personality profiles, the latest being where a person gets a score on each of five dimensions. Click on the blue ACRONYM OCEAN, for a quick summary of each. The E is for the extroversion-introversion scale.

By the way, The C in OCEAN is for "conscientiousness" with high scorers being well-organized, hard-working & punctual. And it has nothing, nothing I tell you, to do with the state or condition of the lower terminus of the digestive tract, although I'll bet you a six-pack of Labatt Blue that we will see ANAL clued again in the NYT xword as such, and sooner rather than later.

Andy 3:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy 3:05 PM  

WASP again?! We learned a couple of weeks ago that Martin Van Buren was the first president who wasn't one. And here it is again. wtf NYT???

JC66 3:26 PM  


You can do, and have done better.

Club des Gourmands 3:46 PM  

It was interesting to find three clues about African-Americans in one puzzle. Apologies if that is not as unusual as it seemed to me. Each person is ground-breaking, though in such different ways, as you may know:

Tyler Perry (as noted by others) is the rare African-American filmmaker to consistently break the box office with films he stars in, writes, directs and produces. If you haven't enjoyed his drag performances as MADEA (7 Across)--the ultimate Granny who will speak her mind regardless-- you may be in for a laugh (when you're not in the mood for Shakespeare or Godard, of course).

As co-founder of The Black Panthers, Bobby SEALE (52 Down) certainly made his mark on American society, too. References to both Seale and Perry in the same puzzle suggest two very different roads for black men in America.

And then there's Wanda SYKES (18 Down), an African-American as funny as Perry, and, in her own way, perhaps almost as politically significant as Seale, since she has broken into the worlds of comedy and television while speaking her witty truth as a woman, a person of color and as a member of the LGBT (67 across) community.

I enjoyed the puzzle. An unexpected smile came from thinking of these three people in the same context.

Andrew Heinegg 4:55 PM  

ED, if there was a day without vinegar from you, I would feel lost. My single boring point was that liberals are cooked right now, no matter what happens. I will try to come up with a way to say it next time that it is more pleasing to your highness.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Carrying Duke's water?!!!! For shame. The Tar Heels are grotesque. DUKE IS WORSE. I prefer to call that school by its origianl name: Trinity.Check it out. Meanwhile I'll be zooming arond in my powerful, ahem, v6, enjoying a smoke.

BYTW. Coincidentically, Atco dragway (you're close enough to it visit) was dedicated to imports today. No lie. Almost all 4 bangers and turning times from now the high 7s to we'll I admit, sad 15s. I didn't do a census, but not a v8 or 6 in sight.
Don't believe me? Google for yourself.
Also, 409 refers to displacement. Any machinist with enough block can make a v6 into a 409. Stick with code. You obviously don't know anything about ice. (Internal combustion engines).

Masked and Anonymous 5:06 PM  

yo! SWAN MARS ATLAS TRIO OKAY WASP = SMATOW. Can not believe no one else had discovered this. In-con-seeve-able.

Things M&A was a little worried about during our solvequest:

* ABOLLA + MADEA. Talk about yer burglar frighteners.
* FRISSON. Debut word. Them was sure a lot of good NYT crossword years, without bein frissed on. But … learned somethin.
* CUERVO. Wasn't positive how to spell this, but got it right.
* 75-D: Apothegm. Learned something from the clue. Since the closest word I knew to apothegm was phlegm, I was kinda off-track on my early A?A?? guesses. [A-HACK. AK-ARF. A-RALF. etc.]

Unusual SunPuz grid, in that no non-themer was longer than 7 letters. That's even slightly unusual, in a daily puz. fave 7's: MALIGNS. ACRONYM. ZITHERS. staffn weejectn pickn: STN. fave moment of total, frenzied desperation: USNR. har

Thanx, Mr. Miccolis. Two puzs under yer belt, and both of em SunPuzs. Dude, U think big.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Rug Crazy 5:06 PM  

Comments, once again, more entreating than the puzzle. Didn't know MADEA, either.
UNC was the highlight, if that is possible1?

Mohair Sam 7:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bleaux 7:58 PM  

Yeah ... and what a spicy clue it was, huh?

JamieP 8:02 PM  

I've always called these backronyms, i.e. people have gone back and tried to come up with the letters. My boss always gives out flimsy plastic gifts at the end of the year (think key chains that light up, cell phone stands, water bottles). She calls them SWAG, and insists it stands for "stuff we all get" (ugh). Other examples of words that aren't historically accurate acronyms are "constable on patrol" for COP and the title of a 1991 album by Van Halen. As @QuasiMojo mentioned, I'm trying to keep to clean.

Mohair Sam 8:17 PM  

@Anon (4:57) - You must bleed that Carolina Blue blood old buddy. Read before attacking - Not only do I not carry a water bucket for the Blue Devils, but I took a shot at the Trinity boys in my post. Again, imo Duke is the only other NCAA school besides UNC that could get away with that crap.

And I'm not having the silly car engine argument (yes I know a cc from a cu. in.). We could go in circles for weeks. The fact is that the VSIX engine is a "rather powerful engine" (remember the clue?) compared to all cars on the road today, and was simply an average power plant 50 years ago when the road was filled with V8s.

And quit smoking or I'll post the lyrics to "Hey Little Cobra" (another V8) which "shut 'em down" if I remember.

Joe Bleaux 8:40 PM  

Hey, Roo -- Mrs. Bleaux is quite fond of your "great word" as well. Taped to our fridge door is an old New Yorker cartoon showing a well-past-middle-age woman looking accusingly at her cane-using husband in the doorway. The caption; "You schlept with her, didn't you?"

Pot meet kettle 10:23 PM  

@AndrewH, you accusing @Evil of posting vinegar is like the pot......

SailorSteveHolt 5:36 AM  


Your disregard for gay rights sounds like a temper tantrum from someone who found himself on the wrong side of history. It'd be pathetic if it weren't so callous.

As far as parades go, I put up with inescapable and gratuitous displays of heterosexuality 365 days a year without saying a word. If you're triggered by five city blocks one Sunday in June, I think that makes you the whiny one. Here's hoping you trip on a dildo and fall face first into the exposed bits of a man donning leather chaps this Pride.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Is "pet protection agcy." a suitable clue for SPCA, since the A in the answer stands for agency? I thought the clue was not permitted to contain any part of the answer.

Peta Peta Pumpkin Eata 10:25 PM  

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

All better now?

Izzie 3:18 PM  


bohbehchow 3:06 AM  


spacecraft 8:56 AM  

Here's mine: DNBTF (Did Not Bother To Finish). Sorry, I just have better things to do with my time. AID TO LOCATE A...STREET??? An ATLAS?? Nah. Maybe, if you want to locate a major thoroughfare in a major city, there might be an inset, but as a definition? N-no. That put the finger on the trigger (finding out that all there was to the theme was apronyms was enough to unholster the weapon), and immediately thereafter seeing ECUA as an abbr. for Ecuador pulled it. Nope. Rejected. That dog don't hunt. Get it out of here. Jerry? Uh, don't give up your day job. Next!

rondo 11:06 AM  

Well, I did finish it. An example of why I might give up on Sunday puzzles, especially with spring and summer coming. There's only so many left.

@spacey - you really only missed out on WKRP's yeah baby LONI.

I might just have a shot or two of that friend of mine Jose CUERVO and then HEAVETO.

Upstate NY Wiseguy 11:40 AM  

I loved this!
There is just not enough of this with all the PC. Nobody has an inalienable right to NOT be Insulted... let the music play!

Burma Shave 11:51 AM  


With SHYNESS, the GRAHAMS asked to SKOR some SETRATE fun,
INCASH the sisters' WHIMSY was most GAINFUL ASWAS done


rain forest 12:59 PM  

I didn't mind his one bit. Also, if the constructor used a database, so what? Don't tell anyone, but I believe that many constructors use a dictionary and a Thesaurus when constructing. The horror!

Yearning for originality in crossword themes is getting a little old - actually a lot old. For me, this was original, and I don't even know what an "apronym" is. The puzzle was easy, but provided some enjoyment for a short period of time, of which I have a lot. The only places where I encountered difficulty were, as mentioned the SW corner, and the centre North. I eventually remembered Michael Stich, and decided that ALAN King might indeed have spoke at Kennedy's inaugural ball.

I just can't whomp up any hate for pretty well any puzzles, except for the regular Vancouver Sun puzzle, which I don't do anymore.

Ray - O - Sunshine 1:49 PM  

Usually don't get to the puzzle till later in the day so quickly skip the long list of already posted comments when finished. Today had some time and scanned through. Wow! Some really angry people with kind of outrageous observations. C'mon, it's only a puzzle! Chill! Take a Xanax or something.

Anyway had no idea what any of the "apronyms" were but somehow muddled through. I do mine in pen and made a bunch of corrections so the completed puzzle is quite a mess. Sunny and warming finally in upstate NY here in Utica...enjoy the rest of the day.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

I hope "Joe from Kokomo" is himself neutered. (I get the NYT Crossword a week late from the original publication date)

Diana,LIW 3:00 PM  

Agree with @Rex only re the NameFest in the SW - handed me my definitive dnf.

Great joy when I sussed the trick, which helped me greatly in completing those long crosses.

SANAA and ASANAS - must remember them.

EVer for EVAH held me up for a while. OTHERWISE had no complaints. My META.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

AnonymousPVX 4:42 PM  

I didn't hate this puzzle, but I did think is was tougher than others have.

leftcoastTAM 5:46 PM  

Found many toeholds in the short stuff to start out, and worked from the bottom up.

The NW (coffin corner) and middle North slowed me way, way down. KAMPALA emerged from the mire, but MADEA, ABOLLA, and DOTARD did not.

As I age, I'm becoming more of an ageist. DOTARDS, as "foolish oldsters", doesn't sit quite right with me. Senility is a not a voluntary condition that should be labeled "foolish".

I was a lot more foolish when I was a lot younger.

SharonAK 7:14 PM  

Definitely disagree. The trio answer was my fave. And a trio is one thing. That's why we use "a" before it and the the third person singular verb form.
I agreed with Too Monster and others who enjoyed the puzzle and with Anonymous 10:13's first two paragraphs. (Thought the end of his comment was a bit overboard but amusing.

@Ellen S.
LOL your riff on "oat"

Surprised at praise for Sydney Joe... Found his extensive rant much more unpleasant than funny.

Agree with most who found puzzle easier than usual. But didn't object.

SailorSteveHolt 5:58 AM  

@Anonymous 2::34
It would complement the chip on his shoulder.

Color me surprised, too. You'd think this audience wouldn't be fooled by an insipid diatribe masquerading as trenchant humor. Talk about disenchanting...

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