1943 French novella / SUN 7-23-17 / Pacific capital / The Big Pineapple / Dance craze 2010s / Agency Human Genome Project / Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" / 1990 Nobelist Octavio

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy (16:36)

THEME: "Back on the Charts" — Names of musical artists are "back" -- i.e. at the end of the entries -- and on the charts -- i.e. in the grid.

Theme answers:
  • 30A: Title character in a 1943 French novella [6] (LITTLE PRINCE)
  • 47A: The Big Pineapple [4] (HONOLULU)
  • 66A: Like some lawyers' work [4] (PRO BONO)
  • 86A: "Why are you looking at me?" [4] (WHAT'D I DO)
  • 100A: 11th-century campaign [4] (FIRST CRUSADE)
    First Crusade
  • 3D: 17,000+-foot peak near the Equator (MOUNT KENYA)  
  • 5D: Make airtight, in a way [4] (HEATSEAL)
  • 10D: Healthy [4] (IN THE PINK)
  • 12D: Nightshade family member [4] (MANDRAKE)
  • 13D: Prized possession [5] (CROWN JEWEL)
  • 26D: One doing routine office work, informally [5] (PEN PUSHER)
  • 51D: Dave of jazz [4] (BRUBECK)
  • 63D: One leading the exercises, for short? [4] (PE TEACHER)
  • 70D: Fruity spirit [6] (PEAR BRANDY)
  • 73D: Vain, temperamental sort [7] (PRIMADONNA)
  • 77D: Band member's main squeeze? [4] (ACCORDION)
  • 82D: 1940 Disney release [3] (FANTASIA)*
  • 87D: Pulling off bank jobs [5] (HEISTING)
* Depending on your preferred cultural frame of reference, this could have also been early 80s synth-rock band ASIA (with their chart-topping hit "Heat of the Moment") or third-season American Idol champion FANTASIA (with her chart-topping hit "I Believe"). Also, dude. DAVE BRUBECK. Take Five and take him back to the charts.

Word of the Day: AGOUTI (69A: Guinea pig relative) —
The term agouti (Spanish: agutí, pronounced [aɣuˈti]) or common agouti designates several rodent species of the genus Dasyprocta. They are native to Middle America, northern and central South America, and the southern Lesser Antilles. Some species have also been introduced elsewhere in the West Indies.[1] They are related to guinea pigs and look quite similar, but are larger and have longer legs. The species vary considerably in colour, being brown, reddish, dull orange, greyish or blackish, but typically with lighter underparts. Their bodies are covered with coarse hair which is raised when alarmed. They weigh 2.4–6 kg (5.3–13.2 lb) and are 40.5–76 cm (15.9–29.9 in) in length, with short, hairless tails. (Wikipedia) [Them are cute rodents. (Me)]
• • •
Hello, CrossWorld! Rex is on a well-deserved vacation, so you get me, Laura, blogging the puzzle through next Sunday. Be confident there will be no disruptions in your regularly scheduled crossword blogging service. Between you and me, I didn't find this a terribly exciting Sunday with which to start our week together. I wanted the theme to do more than just hide the names of chart-topping popular musical artists -- in fact, I even spent a little time browsing the Billboard charts to see if there was any correlation between, say, the entry number and the artist's chart position re their biggest hit -- but, no, unless I'm missing something. (Mansplain at me in the comments, if so.) A few of the artists are hidden beautifully in the entries (86A: WHAT'D I DO, 26D: PEN PUSHER [wait, don't we usually say PENCIL PUSHER? or PAPER PUSHER?]) but others were more than obvious (30A: LITTLE PRINCE, 10D: IN THE PINK). Also -- and this is likely a function of cramming so many (eighteen!) themers into the grid -- we've got some oldies in there -- Dion! Lulu! -- who are outliers from the rest of the late-1980s-to-the-present playlist.

Double helix in the sky tonight

Fill-wise ... wow, lots of little words. I'm working hard on improving my own constructing skills, and I struggle the most with limiting the inclusion of three-letter entries that are abbreviations or tired crosswordese. It's difficult to do this well, and this grid suffers a bit with EST, WTO, AEC, NIH, DSO, DOA, OTB, FCC, CNN, NEA and the like.

  • 89A: Inverse trig function (ARCTAN) — One of my crossword twitter friends (who is also a fine constructor) goes by the handle @ArctanPrime. Being a humanities person/librarian who hasn't taken math since my first year of college, I didn't quite remember what this meant. Now I know! Raising a glass in your general direction, Chris!
  • 99A: Lewis ___, 1848 Democratic candidate for president (CASS) — Is he the most famous CASS out there? Not Ellen Naomi "Mama CASS Elliot" Cohen? Or legal scholar CASS Sunstein? Anyone?
  • 55A Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" (LAHR)But I could show my prowess/ Be a lion, not a mowess/ If I only had the noive ...
See you tomorrow! And the day after that. And a few more after that!

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:11 AM  

Easy-medium for me. I had no idea what was going on until after I finished. I thought I might have missed a note somewhere? Then I noticed the singers. Jeff at Xwordinfo opines that it would have been better with circles/shaded squares instead of the somewhat cryptic numbers at the end of the theme clues. I disagree, it was more fun sussing out the theme after the fact, but then I've been doing at least a couple of metas a week.,

@Laura PENcil PUSHERS yes, PEN PUSHERS not so much, and isn't pretty much everyone today a key stroker?

Cute, liked it...and thanks @Laura.

Unknown 12:36 AM  

Wishing @Rex a nice vacation, and thanks so much to you, @Laura, for the insightful and nuanced review of @Caleb Madison's theme-dense and relatively easy-to-solve Sunday puzzle [it must have been very difficult to construct, though]. While the theme was easily discerned, early on--even to one not particularly familiar with the work of many of the featured artists--it didn't really add much to the solving process or experience.

The crossing of ADRIANA with DOUGIE was a personal Natick; luckily I knew both PAZ and LAHR, or the crossing AZUL might have been another Natick. I couldn't help notice the pileup of first-person singular phrases with 86-, 107-, and 115-Across, along with the crossing 109-Down.

Fair-and-balanced political cluing with the late Fox News head at 22-Across (mentioning the competing CNN at 13-Across), along with the inspiration to PANTSUITS Nation at 112-Across. It might have been amusing to go back to @George Gershwin's roots with TIN-PAN Alley as a cluing option to 72-Across. Yesterday's puzzle had the plural EDENS, but today it remains singular EDEN.

Nice shoutout to my friend and sometime collaborator, @Chris Adams. The Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle that @Laura linked to in her review (just click on the link to download it) first appeared on an auspicious occasion earlier this calendar year, and is a real gem. Contact me off-Rex for a musical artist-themed puzzle that @Chris and I did a few months ago for the Minneapolis Star & Tribune.

Unknown 1:39 AM  

Theme was @dumb. Couldn't care less. :/

Lee Coller 1:45 AM  

Sunday themeless as far as I am concerned. The them should at least do something to aid solving, and in this case it did absolutely nothing (I had to read your blog to even realize what the theme was). Too many obscure proper nouns. My Natick was at 99 A/D.

OISK 2:01 AM  

Since I don't recognize many of the artists (?) in the theme clues, this wasn't much fun. But my pop-culture deficiencies notwithstanding, I really didn't like this puzzle, although i finished it. How many acronyms are too many? WTO, NH, AEC, NASA, DSO, IPOS, OTB, NEA PBJ, ..it just gets tiresome.

Had much more trouble than usual with the double crostic, also.

pmdm 2:10 AM  

I am not impressed. At all. In 100 years this crossword puzzle would be considered a disaster. Some alive today may think that's harsh (they would be correct) but, alas, it's probably true. Caleb is obviously a very talented constructor, loading so many theme entries into the puzzle I would really like to see Caleb forget about being contemporary and just construct wonderful puzzles (does PB come to mind). Do you hear me, Caleb? Take a long and hard study of Stulberg puzzles. You will discover what your puzzle to mee seem to lack. Or at least what Jacob's puzzles possess that yours don't. You're great You can eo it too.

Larry Gilstrap 2:21 AM  

Those little, teeny squares; must be Sunday. Sure, lots of three letter words. Nothing new. And there's a theme. I'm told.

Love me some rhyme schemes. but no villanelle comes to mind. Those of you who may have written a Masters thesis on that form, have at it! I like the Shakespearean sonnet. Is I remember, he knew about the MANDRAKE root system.

I once heard an interview with a sales rep from Fender. His job was to basically visit musicians and give them guitars. What a gig! Asked about the best on the Stratocaster, he chose Bonnie RAITT. But, she is a great singer.

Speaking of talented women, Teri Garr in the hay in that wacky movie, rolled me deeply. And then we have a Pope of Rome fathering children? Ethics have been and continue to be situational. I'm no angel.

I once had a girlfriend way back when, and when she decided to marry the dentist, she gave me a signed copy of the Little PRINCE as a parting gift. She wasn't a LEO, but after that, I was on a roll.

I guess this next bit is political, although it has nothing to do with government policy, so feel free to skip. That whole Birther Movement was obscene. 44's mother ANN, his father, and the grandparents who raised him were dead. He handled it with much more grace than I could have mustered. Questioning someone's lineage, that's grand opera material

Loren Muse Smith 2:31 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 2:33 AM  

Laura – thanks for filling in this week. I like your write-ups. I agree with you on the “pencil pusher” deal and also in preferring the themers whose names are really embedded.

I had a dnf at the CASS/CESARE/ANDES cross. I didn’t see that the clue for ANDES was referring to a mountain range and figured 74D was some Latin word I didn’t know. Ah me.

I appreciated that these aren’t only are the singers’ names on the back end of the entries, but they’re all singers who go by only one name. Cool. So, say, ARGENTINA wouldn’t work for Tina Turner or RED SKELTON for Elton John or MISS PIGGY for Iggy Pop because even though they’re famous, they don’t really go officially by only one name. Cool.

And AND – as @George was getting at - look at all those crossed themers!
*three down themers cross 30A
*three down themers cross 100A
*three down themers (two stacked) cross 47A and 86A
*three down themers (two stacked) cross 86A
*and BRUBECK crosses PRO BONO.

Funny – as soon as I got my first themer, PEAR BRANDY, I thought, ok – all the back-ends are musicians who go by one name. I mean, I was thinking that the title tells you that the “back” part is “on the charts.” At any rate, I was on high alert for BONO, STING, CHER, SADE, ENYA…

Loved the clue for AIR.

Eugene, holler atchyer PAW to toss me another Mountain DEW. Now GIT. I don’t want no nasty Pepsi NO HOW.

OXLIPS. Who gets to name flowers, and was this guy on drugs? Your cheeks are the color of roses, your lips as pink as carnations, and your eyes as blue as oxlips. Cut. Take two.

I’m reading a book by Tobias Wolff, and there's a part about how his image of Paris was a bunch of guys in striped shirts playing the ACCORDION. So then I remembered this exchange I had with Mom when a guy asked me out who was 26 and I was only 19. It went something like this:

Me: Hey - this guy from Quinn’s Mill has asked me out, and I’d like to go, but he’s 26.
Mom: That’s too old for you.
Me: Mom. He wears brown polyester pants and plays the ACCORDION.
Mom: Oh. Okay, then.

I swear. (If any brown polyester pants-wearing accordion players are insulted, sorry. My point to Mom was that he could be trusted.)

This is dumb, but I’m sitting here saying out loud (because of the two chess clues) Mama CASS’ll CASTLE and then push a pawn. I think I’m putting off writing a paper on “what pivotal and central American trauma that Faulkner and Bierce engage in” (“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “A Rose for Emily”) “What gothic imagery do these narratives use and how do they explore this monstrous national history at the individual level?”

I think I’ll say CASS’LL CASTLE some more first. Because, @Larry – more and more the insomniac, I do not go gentle into that good night. As it were.

Robin 2:43 AM  

Have to agree with @Lee Collier above. The theme was so useless that it played like a themeless.

And agree with Laura that there were too many three-letter entries, too many of which were crossword-ese. The clueing for DOA was especially poor.

Bane for me on this was one was the ADRIANA/DOUGIE crossing. Had no clue about either and wanted to put an R in there because apparently I don't know how to spell Arianna.

Larry Gilstrap 2:45 AM  

Find a pile of hay and roll in it!

Anonymous 2:59 AM  

I thought this was a real grind, but 18 theme answers - WOW! I have to admire that. Caught on at PRINCE.

Aketi 3:49 AM  
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Aketi 3:52 AM  

Definitely not one of more more observant moments. Missed the theme entirely. The PEAR BRANDY had me still stuck looking for another
drink theme.

Matt 4:16 AM  
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boomer54 4:46 AM  

Body part (5_ ...

Pelvis ...

'mericans in Paris 4:57 AM  

Thank you, Laura, for a fair write-up. (I was anticipating an epic rant from Rex.)

Ah, Terri Garr rolling in the hay. What a great scene. I had such a crush on that woman. Mel Brooks' B&W tribute to the Frankenstein genre, Young Frankenstein is chock full of such double-entendres, such as . the scene that follows, which includes the line "What knockers!". Love the scene, also, where INGA is introduced to young Dr. Frankenstein's fiancée, played exquisitely by Madeline Kahn. "Excuse me darling. Tell me: What exactly is it that you do, do?" INGA's stammered response and Gene Wilder's intervention cutting her short is just perfect. Apparently the scene required numerous takes because the actors and the actresses found it hard to keep the required straight faces.

But I'm getting carried away. I admire the theme density, but for others the DNF because had to look up answers in several places. Got all but one of the letters for AGOUTI (which I've never heard of) from the crosses, but then had to look it up, because I had no idea how to finish off O_B in answer to 93A's clue ("Inits. in some parlors"). Can somebody please explain that answer to me?

Also didn't know the answer to 61A ("Dance craze of the 2010s"), and couldn't recall LAHR, so entered "A riOT" in answer to 50D ("Totally LOL-worth"). Obviously by "a riot", I meant it in the sense of something funny.

Resisted for a long time writing LITTLE PRICE, as over here the book is known as Le Petit PRINCE. In any case, even the English version starts with the word "The". I wonder how many people realize that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was first known to French people as a pioneering aviator -- the Charles Lindbergh of his country. Unlike Lindbergh, however, he was strongly opposed to Hitler. He flew with the French Air Force until France's armistice with Germany in 1940, and then traveled to the United States to persuade its leaders to enter the war against Nazi Germany. He then returned and flew missions for the Free French Air Force in North Africa. He disappeared over the Mediterranean on a reconnaissance mission in July 1944.

Finally, am I alone in wondering this?: At 107A, shouldn't the question be, as I first entered it, "may I TRY SOME?" One CAN, of course, but don't be surprised if your impudent hand gets stabbed with a fork!

Question of the day:Is RYE good for what AILES you?

Lewis 6:17 AM  

Basically, for me, a themeless (giving good brainercise) with a mild "aha" at post-solve inspection. Nice clues for EUR and AIR, and nice to see ACME, who co-constructed last Sunday, lead this Sunday off.

The embedded theme answers were the best to me. I can't come up with any more, but here are some non-embedded possibilities:


Anonymous 6:21 AM  

10A ignores the many actual pioneers of computer chess. IBM built a bigdamn computer and further developed the algorithmic technology, but "pioneer" is not the right term.

Never saw the musicians at all, until reading this writeup. Lost to me. One theme answer (86A) looked especially ugly.

Mike D 7:08 AM  

AiP:OTB= off track betting. There are sometimes parlors where you can go watch horse races on a TV screen and bet on them. It's classic crosswordese. Of course you could have looked this up on the Google...

Birchbark 7:40 AM  

Lewis CASS was governor of Michigan Territory in the 1820s. At the time, that included what is now Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. His expedition into northern Minnesota misidentified what is now Cass Lake as the headwaters of the Mississippi. Cass commissioned another expedition, led by Henry Schoolcraft, which pegged Lake Itasca as the headwaters.

Just noting this for future clue fodder. We do see CASS clued as Mama ___ in early week puzzles from time to time. Wouldn't mind "Iopeia opener" either.

DNF at ALII/AILERS. ALLI looked wrong, admittedly. My favorite was PETEACHERS -- kept thinking it was Pete- or Pet- something until all the crosses fell. Didn't get the theme until coming here.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

Had no idea what the theme was!!! Got most of the themers but didn't know they were singers. Useless puzzle!!!

Did like that it started with ACME!!!!

'mericans in Paris 7:47 AM  

Thanks @Mike D for the explanation. Yes, I could have looked it up on Google, and just now did, but the first page with abbreviations gives 42 possibilities. Since "betting parlor" was not on my radar screen (I didn't grow up with any), but rather "a sitting room in a private house", a "beauty parlor", or a "pizza parlor", even seeing "off-track betting" wouldn't have clicked in my tiny brain.

On a different note, I forgot to say that it was nice to see a Hawai'ian place name in today's puzzle. (Howdy Chef Wen!) Do any of you fellow OFs remember the British pop singer, WaKiki Dee? :-)

suea 8:03 AM  

I also had no idea what the theme was! I finished the puzzle and still had no idea. And I grew up with a lot of these artists... A funny thing-- I'd never heard of a villanelle in all my 65 years (what can I tell you) and then soon after I finished the puzzle, I was watching a tv show and villanelle was mentioned in the show!

Glimmerglass 8:05 AM  

Entertaining write-up, Laura. Jokes on me today. I finished the puzzle (correctly) and had no clue what the little numbers mean. Now, there are a few I recognize (CHER, BRANDY), but most are too current for me. I did laugh at myself this morning: Despite 38 years as a teacher, Laura had to parse PE TEACHER for me. I was wondering if there might be a fitness guru named PETE[r] ACHER.I think I might be tired this morning. @LMS: Do you remember the Farside two-panel? Angel on the left, "Welcome to heaven -- here's your harp." Devil on tje right, " Welcome to hell -- here's your ACCORDION."

Unknown 8:32 AM  

I only listen to cussword rap and this puzzle was full of nerd stuff

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

I believe 82D referenced SIA, a contemporary singer

Generic Solver 9:00 AM  

Small nit to pick: doesn't PINK spell her stage name as "P!nk"?

Teedmn 9:25 AM  

I had the whole puzzle filled in before I went looking for the theme. I had looked at the title early on but it didn't dawn on me until I saw PRINCE. Fairly subtle and I don't know all of the artists (LULU, DIDO) and SIA I know only from crosswords. I made a bet with myself that the word to hate today will be HEISTING. Too bad AoC isn't something well known - HoISTING would be a much better word.

The numbers at the end of the theme answers confused me. At first I thought we were going to have rebi with the number representing how many letters fit into the rebus. PEN PUSHER had to be PENcil PUSHER but [5] wasn't right. PEAch schnApps instead of PEAR BRANDY but again, [6] didn't work with that either. "Back on the Charts", hmmmm.

I think WHAT'D I DO, PRIMA DONNA and PE TEACHER were the best for hiding the artist.

The toughest spot for me was the far SW - the clues for 117A, "Cooperation" for AID, or 121A "Crooked" for WRY didn't work for me and with the misdirection of "It's insired" for AIR (I wanted Art), I was floundering around down there but finally settled on the correct answers.

"Nae Nae" for DOUGIE, anyone?

I'd RAITT this a pretty good Sunday, thanks to the randomization feature I used to solve. Others might have found this a bit sloggish.

kitshef 9:29 AM  

I have heard pencil pusher, I don’t know, a few thousand times in my life. I have never heard PEN PUSHER. Funny thing is, PEN PUSHER Googles almost as well as PENCIL PUSHER. How is this possible?

Gotta think ADRIANA crossing DOUGIE, AJA and ARCTAN will ruffle a few feathers.

Anyone else for dRaMA queen before PRIMA DONNA?

The long downs are magnificent – MOUNT KENYA, PEAR BRANDY, CROWN JEWEL, PRIMA DONNA. LITTLE PRINCE and FIRST CRUSADE are pretty sterling, too.

Yes, there’s some bad stuff (OSE PAZ DRYINK EST, OTB NOOR GIT NIH CASS are some grim rows), but on balance, better than 85% of Sunday puzzles. I enjoyed myself.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

I don't know if anyone else answered the question as I scrolled down quickly. But, the numbers at the end of the italicized clues refer to the number of letters in the artist's name (e.g. (7) for Madonna).

Teedmn 9:50 AM  

(Not sure what inspired me to write "insired")

Rob 9:50 AM  

This is a bad puzzle. The sheer number of theme answers is impressive, as is the time span they cover, but that's where the positives end.

To fit that many themers in, the fill is just awful, all kinds of gross crosswordese. OTB JAX EST WTO NEE UPN* EUR DOA** AEC. Some of the basically acceptable 3-letter ones (NIH, MLK) are clued obscurely in a bid for artificial challenge.

* While the CW used to be UPN, I think it was always the CW when Veronica Mars was on? Which would make this technically true but poor cluing.

** Just awful cluing. Maybe you don't want the easy clue of "dead on arrival," but it would be better than this dreck.

Toner is explicitly not ink, which is kind of the point. Toner is a fine powder that is fused to paper by heat. DRY INK is not a real thing, except insofar as previously wet ink can dry. A nonsense answer. I join the many others in objecting to PEN PUSHER, which is not a real thing people say. That one is so terrible it made me think the theme was something involving a rebus or missing letters. The traditional phrase for a "cheap cooking implement" is a TIN POT, not a TIN PAN; technically it's not inaccurate, but again, it is not a normal phrase.

I can see the argument for WRY, but I'm skeptical, vs. AWRY. I think this could have been clued better. Didn't care for the presence of the A in A HOOT.

Overall, just... not good. I appreciate what the constructor was going for, but it did not work at all in execution and the whole thing needs a reworking.

Rita Flynn 10:04 AM  

I agree with some here that the theme was not fun. Like others, I think a theme should contribute to the solving of the puzzle. This just sat there. The names were in the words or phrases? So what? I also hate three letter directions as filler. ENE, WNW, NNW...- meh..

ghthree 10:16 AM  

I'm surprised that nobody else has pointed out that the bracketed number represents the number of letters in the name of the artist at the end. This ranges from 4 (for HONOLULU, BRUBECK, etc.) to 7 (for MADONNA). It works whether the artist is identified by a single name or not.
BTW, as a male, I'm always amused at the term "mansplain." I regard this as ironic, since one of the most notorious mansplainers I know is Lucy Van Pelt.
She's the one who can be relied on to pull the football out from under Charlie Brown just in time to make him fall on his back.
Check out her song "Little Known Facts" in the musical "You're a Good man, Charlie Brown" in which she explains (among many other things):
You see this tree / It is a fir tree. / It's called a fir tree /
Because it gives us fur. for coats. /
It also gives us wool in the wintertime.
Lucy's brother Linus admiringly soaks it all up.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

A slog that I almost didn't bother to finish. (Why did I, actually?) I had everyone's favorite Natick with AbRIANA/bOUGIE. ADRIANA sounded more like a person than AbBRIANA, but bOUGIE sounded much more like a dance than DOUGIE. DOUGIE????? I suppose I was thinking of BOOGIE WOOGIE. PIE PAN instead of TIN PAN at 72A kept me from seeing PE TEACHER until the very end. I avoided a CASS Natick at 99A because the C of -ESARE finally, finally came to me. Don't laugh at me, but I was thinking of Bosch (59A) as an oven brand, and when I was wondering what -ELL could be, I was thinking that HELL was much too high a setting and would surely burn all the food. (Am I right? Is Bosch an oven brand?)

A pop singer theme is never going to appeal to me, even though all the singers' names were familiar to me and I didn't need them to solve in any case. But there were names galore everywhere else, too, and I didn't enjoy this at all.

RooMonster 10:31 AM  

Hey All !
Well, lots of themers, which I like, and I know this was real tough to construct (I smell a but coming!), but it feels the fill suffered a tad too much for the results. Which I didn't figure out till I got here. LULU?? DIDO hidden over three words? SIA? C'mon man!

And mega blocks and threes. 88 blocks! Holy AGOUTI! Normal is 70-76ish. And 42 threes. Heck, 30 threes is high for a SunPuz. Just throwing those out there.

Had to Reveal for PE TEACHER, cause had PETEA__ER, and couldn't get PETEsomeone out of the ole brain. AEC and NIH not helping. DRYINK? Blech. And lots of partials. APIA the Capital of ?

But hey, Caleb's puz made it in. TADA!


SouthsideJohnny 10:37 AM  

For an "advanced beginner" like myself, this was just an awful solving experience. I doubt that even one half of one percent of the population could solve this puzzle. Seems like the NYT giving out a prize for how many abbrevations can be stuffed into a crossword puzzle. The "Gallatin Sch." ? Give me a break. The theme was a non-theme and more of an annoyance than anything useful. Other (unfortunately too typical) examples of unnecessary nonsense include 46 A (from ancient Rome ? ? - yea, right), and the already discussed reference to an unknown political figure from before the civil war. Why a clue that contributes nothing when Mama CASS would have been more than exceptable? Amother nit - why have Bonnie RAITT and (Mama) CASS embedded in the puzzle and not part of the (indecipherable) theme? Jeez, what a stinker of an effort.

Unknown 10:42 AM  

This one bored me to death. I quite half way through. It has been a long time since I have seen a good Sunday puzzle. I would bigly like to see a good one.

Robert A. Simon 10:44 AM  

Help me out here. When did the how-do-you-replace--little-expression-with-another-little-expression kind of clue start taking over? This rather uninspired waste of a Sunday slot has six of them. (86, 107 and 115A and 31, 49, and 109D) One would be okay. But a half dozen?

On a more positive note, it must not've been easy to get that much theme in, even if it is inane.

Hartley70 10:45 AM  

I thought this was an excellent Sunday, despite my Natick at DOUGIE/ADRIANA. I might have gotten ADRIANA if I hadn't decided that Lima was the model's first name.

I'm a big fan of Bonnie RAITT. Most of my CD's gather dust today, but those three still get plenty of air time (as does Chet Baker late at night). Her father John RAITT starred in "Carousel" the first musical theatre I ever saw. He was pretty terrific too.

I love theme density and Dave Brubeck. His property in town may have a number of houses installed on it. I wonder if he would have approved. I'm choosing "Take Five" as my ear worm today and there are lots of choices in this puzzle.

Villanelle was a gimme. As a college freshman I developed a crush on them and created my "masterpiece" for a creative writing course. The instructor kept it and I didn't have a copy. This is yet another reason to EXTOL the computer over the typewriter. All I remember is that there was water involved.

DBlock 10:46 AM  

Count me among those who totally missed the theme despite a fairly easy fill.
Btw what was with the numbers after the clue?? How were they connected??

Gerrythek 10:46 AM  

Can anyone please explain AGES to me?

Ryan Crinnigan 10:53 AM  

First time commenter here....

Something tells me Rex's review here would have been far less, uh, charitable. I often find his reviews too harsh, but I have to admit, I was looking forward to him raging on this one. A totally uninspired slog--truly the worst Sunday I can remember in years.

Many of the other commenters here have captured the manifold issues with this puzzle, and I haven't read every single comment, but another one that bothers me is the incorporation of RAITT as a standard clue when the entire "theme" (a stretch, calling it that) is musicians. Also think crossing ASAMI with IMIN is weak. Tons of three-letter crosswordese, a visually unappealing grid...very disappointing.

John 11:02 AM  

Glad to see oxlips every time they show up. A funny word. Otherwise an annoying snoozer with obtuse cling. What dialect exactly does "no how" come from?

Trombone Tom 11:06 AM  

Thank you @Laura for a fair review that I can totally agree with. For me this was a bit of a slog. I'm not a devotee of many modern "singers" let alone those of one name. At least Caleb got Brubeck in there. "Take Five" is not a bad ear worm. Props to Caleb for the MOONS clue. PEN PUSHER not so much.

Think I'll go have a little PEAR BRANDY.

@Gerry Kahle get rid of the gratuitous "like" and forever = AGES

Dragoncat 11:13 AM  

I too saw the gimmick after I finished the puzzle. Thought it was only singers and really appreciate the "back" feature of being at the end. Eighteen theme answers? The construction must have been very difficult so I accept the piddley three Letter answers. Enjoyed finding all the singers at the end. Never heard of Dido or Kenya so dating myself.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

What in the "hell" is a Bosch dishwasher setting named hell? Even if it's legit, why would anyone choose that clue for that answer?

Alan_S. 11:28 AM  

Ya gotta hand it to the constructor, coming up with eighteen (count 'em) 18 one named pop singers, most of whom have been "back on the charts" over the last year. Awesome feat all by itself. Easy, breezy and enjoyable as well.
A rare Sunday winner!

'mericans in Paris 11:35 AM  

@Unknown 12:25 AM: The clue refers to Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th century Dutch painter who is perhaps most famous for his surrealistic, demon-filled, very detailed and sometimes whimsical oil paintings.

oldactor 11:36 AM  

@Rob: I agree with a lot that you said, but how can you have HOOT without the A?

That comedian was HOOT. That joke was HOOT? Makes no sense.

Alan_S. 11:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 11:38 AM  

@Hartley (10:45) -- You've forgotten the villanelle you wrote you wrote for Creative Writing class???!!! Please say it isn't so! The First Rule of the Poet: Never forget a single word of a single line of a single poem that you have ever written. FWIW, I remember every poem and verse I've written all the way back to 2nd Grade. Every lyric too. I am simply dying to hear your villanelle, @Hartley. Anyone who writes a villanelle is a friend of mine. Please search your memory bank carefully and try to recreate it for me. (It might help to first discard all the pop culture trivia nonsense that is right now clogging up all your neurons and synapses. Your villanelle is much, much memory-worthy than, for instance, GARTH from yesterday)

Alan_S. 11:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
deerfencer 11:50 AM  

Will's mind is on vacation

Alan_S. 11:55 AM  

In 100 years this puzzle wouldn't be published! For 2017 it works just fine.

Hungry Mother 11:59 AM  

Too many unknowns for me in this one. DNF.

jberg 12:06 PM  

Young Caleb must have aged -- when I first started coming here he couldn't publish a puzzle without everyone's saying how cute he was and posting photos. This one did have a lot of trite short fill, and I was bothered by the way some names were concealed (WHAT'D I DO?) and then BRANDY was hidden in .... PEAR BRANDY?

If you read "The Prince," (not the little one), CESARE BORGIA is the unforgettable main character. I tried Caesar first, but soon figured it out. Anyway, it's a good read.

I guess I must have heard of the DOUGIE somewhere, because I was able to fill in the last couple of letters -- but if you'd asked me beforehand, I'd've said no. Here's a quick lesson.

@teedmn, think of a WRY smile.

Thanks for filling in, Laura, I'm looking forward to the next week.

Bill L. 12:08 PM  

@Laura - Thanks for keeping the wheels of CrossWorld turning.

"PROLES and animals are free" reminded me of the mob of women fighting over the limited supply of TIN (sauce)PANS at the outdoor market.

OUT AND OUT crossing OUTLAY - inning over.

Yeah, that's a lot of one-named musicians. Impressive of Caleb to find them all and squeeze them into one puzzle.


JC66 12:10 PM  

Although I'm not a speed solver, I finished this puppy in record time as a themeless. I didn't grok the theme until checking Wordplay post completion. Thought the theme (singers at the end) was meh. LMS pointing out they're all one name artists took it up a notch, so meh+.

Alan_S. 12:12 PM  

I believe UPN and the CW were two different networks. In New York UPN was channel 9 and the CW was channel 11. After age twelve I haven't watched either.

relicofthe60s 12:24 PM  

I agree that it played like a themeless. And ADRIANA crossing AJA and ARCTAN was a double natick. Talk about obscure.

Alan_S. 12:37 PM  

To all of the over-educated snobs out there who thought the theme(?) was beneath them,
Lighten up!

I'm no fan of most of the names in the puzzle (For me only Prince would garner high praise while most of the others were either old one-hit-wonders or insignificant trash, think Sia) but thinking up 18 one named pop singers, let alone cramming them into one(1) crossword puzzle, should be recognized as the huge feat it is.

Joseph Michael 12:41 PM  

This puzzle sings too loudly and a bit offkey. I would have liked fewer themers and better fill.

Still it has its moments. Liked the realization that Madonna is part of what makes up a PRIMA DONNA, that Ono is hiding inside of BONO, and that there is a Cher waiting to get out of every PE TEACHER.

Glad Sting could make an appearance, but does that really justify HEISTING??? And, by the way, what is Bonnie RAITT doing in there as a non-themer?

I learned that a PANTSUIT is not a "pants suit" and was reminded that men are from MARS (great clue). Also liked the clue for MOONS, however rude that might be, and for AIR.

Had a really unpleasant moment when I misread 29A as "Corpse makeup."

Don't know why we needed to know the number of letters in each embedded themer. Just seems like an unecessary complication that clutters up the clues.

Think I'll go grab a BITE AT a sushi bar. Not sure if I should order the GOAPE or the ASAMI. Perhaps I'll try both.

old timer 1:32 PM  

If you solve on paper, you know that Sunday always has a theme, and that theme is always in the title of the puzzle. Sunday is thew only day that has a printed title. I think there is some way for online solvers to get the title too.

I thought this was a first-rate puzzle, with incredible theme density and pretty fun to solve -- and I often find Sunday puzzles a bore and a drag. The only thing I looked up, and that after the puzzle was finished, was DOUGIE.

Crane Poole 1:44 PM  

An admirable achievement for the constructor perhaps, but played sphuntqhally for this solver. A few especially bad clues - and a couple that could have used [?] (long range?, Will).

Too many of the themers sat there (LITTLE PRINCE) while others performed (WHAT'D I DO) as befitting a Sunday themed puzzle.

DO A 180. Foo! And all those orgs. Happily over too quickly, which is an odd sensation.

Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Buried rock stars. M&A can dig it, but didn't unearth em, til comin to here. DEMOCRATS [4].

Maybe I was just too distracted, by things I couldn't ever get:

* PAZ/AZUL. Went with PAQ/AQUL, for some ROGER VADIM [3] reason.

* ADRIANA/DOUGIE. Went with AFRIANA/FOUGIE, as a total show of respect for the CAPTAIN KANGA@ROO [3+] letter of reverence choice.

* CASS/CESIRE. Went with DESIRE/DASS, in a desperate attempt to preserve my total wrongness on all them tough crosse-s.

42 weejects to chose from?!! Now, *that's* what M&A is talkin about! Staff pick: WTO. Better clue: { [2] bad??}.

Thanx, Mr. Madison. Good to see U back on the charts. BTW-er: Extra cool themer was yers for the desperate grabbin, if U'da used the clue: {Operator selection choice, on a brutally long automated phone help desk list?? [3] } = MENUOPTIONO. har

Masked & Anonymo11Us.


Adam 2:07 PM  

Wow, I hated this puzzle. Boring, played like a themeless (as others have noted), and I found the cluing useless. Like @Laura, I was looking for the numbers to be the top slot the artist reached on the charts. Did BRANDY have a song called PEAR? I have no idea. And while BRANDY and PRINCE were standalone words in the answers, DIDO, ENYA, and USHER weren't - but differently, with DIDO crossing 3 (!) words and USHER and ENYA (and BECK, etc.) within a word. Terribly inconsistent and boring.

Once I treated it like a themeless I found it easier, but still boring. And PEN PUSHER isn't a thing - it's PENCIL or PAPER pusher. Google it: PEN PUSHER is defined as "Another term for "pencil pusher"", which is clearly the phrase most people use. I have NEVER heard anyone called a "PEN PUSHER". Ever.

The inclusion of a clue from Young Frankenstein helps a little, and some of the cluing was fine, but overall, ugh.

mooretep 2:37 PM  

Laura, nice work.

I think I am beginning to only visit OFLs blog just to read LMS's commentary.

Thanks Loren, you made me think, methinks.

As Am I, Over and Out.

KevCo 2:46 PM  

I didn't notice the theme until the very end because the one answer I needed ("Bandmember's main squeeze? [4]") had the bracketed number at the end, so I went back and looked at the other themers and figured it out from Prince and Jewel. I had _CC_R_ION, and was able to figure out that "DION" had to be at the back. So, agreed that the theme was lame, but then, it did aid me in finishing this thing.

Anoa Bob 2:49 PM  

Group Captain Lionel MANDRAKE declares war on Coca Cola.

Putting one musician, BECK, in the name of another, arguable greater, muscian, BRUBECK, seemed a bit of an outlayer.

I completely wore the grooves down on two consecutive BRUBECK "Time Out" vinyl LPs. Then I got a CD. They last longer but they don't have the clarity and brightness in the higher register notes that you get with the LPs and a quality sound system.

MetroGnome 3:01 PM  

Huh -- and here I always thought it was a PANTS SUIT, not a PANT SUIT (the bottom part has only one leg?)

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

@Anoa Bob: There is the best of both worlds now, albeit at a high price: laser turntables for LPs. Only problem is that one will set you back by at least $8,000.

Joe Dipinto 3:35 PM  

I neither liked nor disliked this puzzle. I grokked the theme as soon as I filled in PriMADONNA, which was very early, and then went hunting for other one-named singers with the designated letter count. So knowing the theme did help me, although I agree it probably wasn't altogether necessary for the solve. I also concur that there were too many three-letter abbreviations -- those can drive one up the wall.

Mohair Sam 3:38 PM  

Very easy Sunday. Great idea that seemed to strain to get in every one-named entertainer that the constructor could conjure up. Agree with Jeff Chen that this would have been a much better puzzle with about half the themers.

Bluntly, it seems lately like we're seeing puzzles built to show us just how amazingly clever constructors are rather than just how entertaining puzzles might be for solvers.

@Joe DiPinto from yesterday - Heck, I wasn't complaining about "Game of Thrones clues", I was just grumbling - I don't even complain about hip hop clues. Anything that popular is fair game for late week puzzles. I noticed GoT on the cover of two mags when I was in line at CVS last week, btw. Hot stuff, but I'm still waiting for book 6.

Two Ponies 4:02 PM  

This was OK I guess.
Fill grid.
Read title.
Find clues with numbers in parentheses.
Go back for the word search.

The clue for Madonna seems appropriate.

I am a teacher. 4:18 PM  

LOVED Tom Fontana's series Borgia on Netflix so 99D was no problem.

Joe Dipinto 4:20 PM  

@Mohair Sam -- I reread my posts from yesterday, and I apologize if it seemed like I was taking you, or OISK, to task. That was not my intent at all. I just feel that, as you stated perfectly above, anything that is popular is fair fodder for a puzzle clue. Some will have heard of it, some will not have heard of it, but if it's out there, well, it's out there, and it's not unworthy of one's becoming aware of it, even if only briefly via an NYT puzzle.

Have a good week! You too, OISK! ;)

QuasiMojo 4:53 PM  

@Nancy, 11:38 I wrote a villanelle too. Not easy! Would love to hear yours.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

Haha, I was looking forward to Rex totally and mercilessly trashing this one, but I'll leave it at .... so not fun.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

86 across. Wtf? Am I missing something, or is what'd I do actually 'acerptable'
Oh well. Boring. As others, I did not get the theme until nearly the end. In NW had aone for acme which threw things off kilter for a while.
Same thought as Mr. 'Merican re THE Little Prince.
And are these musicians back on the charts as in they are touring now, have hits etc.? Cuz, um Prince and Lulu aren't. Or is it just that they are musicians of one name?
All around pretty meh for me.

Masked and Anonymous 5:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 5:14 PM  

@Quasi (4:53) -- Actually, it's Hartley (see 10:45 a.m.) who wrote the villanova, not me. I've written every kind of poetry, light verse, and lyrics, but I've never written a villanova. I'd love to see/hear yours, though, Quasi.

If you don't want to burden the commentariat with it, why not contact me off-blog. I don't have my email listed on my blog profile, but a number of people who know my email address do have theirs listed. You can get my contact info from Hartley or George B or mathgent or Mohair or Teedmn or Malsdemare. Would love to hear from you.

puzzlehoarder 5:27 PM  

The theme density of this puzzle was not worth the crossword dreckathon it created. Kudos to @Robert A. Simon for pointing out the phrase for a phrase entries. Those were some of the worst. I didn't pick up on the single name aspect of the theme until reading @lms. I thought it very sloppy to have CROW, HO and ONO(twice) embedded in the theme answers as well as the intended one name wonders anyway. I'm 0 for 3 this weekend. I wrote the U of BRUBECK so poorly I thought it was an O when I went to fill in 61A. I really thought I was putting in BOOGIE as opposed to BOUGIE. The model I'm obviously unfamiliar with. CESIRE was my own fault. I'm just not familiar with that spelling. LANED for a pool sounds unnatural to my ear. They can have lanes but I've only heard them referred to as Lap pools. In Chicago pools outside of the ones in the parks are almost exclusively above ground and they all have liners. By the same token no one calls roads lined but with this puzzle I could care less. I was just glad to have it over.

Masked and Anonymous 5:33 PM  

First msg typo: Choose, not chose. Would also accept chuuse, tho.
@Laura darlin: Primo write-up. Especially always enjoy them bullets. Thanx.
@RP: Hope U make a great getaway, and have lotsa fun. Always a real good idea to put the grid-killin heart stakes on the shelf, now and then.

Speakin of grids, I deeply admired this SunPuz grid layout art. Features about every day-um known staphylococcal shape, within it. Sick!

Naggin questions that M&A probably shouldn't ask …

1. When they did that 61-A dance craze, were the performers ever kicked off the floor for doin it DOUGIE-style? Just askin.

2. Surely there's a rap star known as YINK. Or TEAT. Gotta be one called APPER, at least. Or a group called IONS. UGIE?

3. What, no OUTLAY/OUTANDOUT out-rage fireworks? (Won't even drag AGOUTI into it … keep it friendly, dude.) Here's a case where OUTLIE would just not work instead of OUTLAY, I betcha.

"Do It AGOUTI-Style!"

GPO 8:39 PM  

I had a lot of fun with this one.

However, before, during and after completing the grid, I had no idea, zero, zilch, what the theme was.

Nice job constructing this -- I have to get better at figuring out themes.

Joe Dipinto 8:39 PM  

@ Mohair Sam -- btw, forgot to include in my prior post: Absolutely! I hate these badly-conceived show-offy puzzles! Why are they being foisted upon us?!

pcardout 8:48 PM  

Yep. I finished it and never got the theme. Enjoyed some of the answers but no "AHA" moment.

Unknown 10:32 PM  

Ugh. A rare week where I showed up here just to see Rex lambaste the effort. Hard to believe how many people solved this as a themeless puzzle. I can't remember a Sunday puzzle whose theme was so obvious, so quickly. Or so, so lame. Hard to believe too that anyone was able to applaud the density of the construction. This may be the first Sunday puzzle ever that I could ALMOST imagine myself creating. Because it felt so amateurish. Prince...hidden cleverly in...prince? Pink in...pink? Jewel? "As am I" crossing "I'm in"? Sorry...I found this puzzle sad.

Mark 6:23 AM  

That was horrible. So horrible that I am commenting now when I just finished it even though I know its Monday morning. For me it was theme less until it was over, but there was no joy in almost any of the answered or clues and the theme when revealed was, as described directly above, so limp . . . I can't go on

Pattywack 10:12 AM  

Can someone explain 6D Others of ancient Rome? I worked out ALII but no idea what it means.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

The number in parentheses gave the number of letters in the singer's name. Therefore 82D (3) was SIA rather than ASIA or FANTASIA.

I like your write-ups, Laura. Thanks!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

ET ALIA is pretty common; it means "and others" in Latin. It is used instead of etc. when listing

people (esp. authors.)

I just assumed ALII was a variation; GOOGLE verifies that is refers to an all-male set of "others."

ALIAE would be other women.

Unknown 6:49 AM  

Hell is a Hieronymus Bosch painting made after 1490

Burma Shave 11:38 AM  


a FANTASIA fivesome,
TEASERS all, and ONEA,
LETME ask," Oh HELL,


rondo 12:04 PM  

Kinda got the idea seeing BONO and BECK there in the middle. Didn't bother to check all the others until coming here. Musicians all over, even non-themers. And lotsa abbr.s.

DRYINK is about as green paint as you can get.

MEN GOAPE over yeah baby ADRIANA Lima.

Wouldn't say the puz was AHOOT, but every now and then ya gotta like a LITTLEPRINCE.

spacecraft 12:08 PM  

Far from easy for me. It skews too new; loaded with pop-culture stuff from the new millennium. Right away I have to deal with some rapper, and then there's the "2010's dance craze." Like I would know. And who's this AILES dude, and what's his beef with CNN? Am I supposed to know about network infighting??

This is the choppiest grid I've ever seen. Tons and tons of short entries--most of which are organizational acronyms. Yikes, talk about your slog!

I got started, strangely enough, in the center, finally determining that theme entries were what the clues said they were and not some altered trickery involving those bracketed numbers. But what then? Why are they there? I stared and stared at BRUBECK and PROBONO--oh wait--what's the title? "Back on the charts." BONO is...and so is BECK. The aha! moment landed heavily.

A couple of non-theme lagniappes appear in Bonnie RAITT and The fabulous-voiced DOD Mama CASS. Hey, if Ella can be DOD, so can Mama. Hand up for pushing pencil or paper but not PEN. Two poker players anteing: "IMIN." "SOAMI." Here's my writeover: Not noticing the quotemarks, I had MMS for the ones from Mars. As in M&Ms. Shoulda known. That would appear as (shudder) MANDMS. I didn't like this, but the aha moment gets some points. Par.

And now Laura, please, I'm BEGGING you: change the syndi-date!

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Notably absent: puzzle regulars ADELE and PSY

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

PEN PUSHER googles as well as Pencil Pusher because we're all googling it to see how well it googles. Betcha Caleb googled it nonstop for weeks just to get the ball rolling.

@Lee Coller, @Rita Flynn - The theme sure helped me. Early on (with PRIMADONNA on the first pass)I knew I was looking for artists with [x] number of letters at the "back" end. The one-named aspect hit me on the BECK/BONO cross, and the theme answers pretty much filled in themselves after that. (see @KevCo's example above, multiply that by 15).

@Anonymous 12:36pm Yeah, in fact I almost charged ahead with PSY based on the lone "[3]" clue. (full disclosure: Anon 12:36 was also me)

rain forest 2:37 PM  

This was a puzzle that I suppose was a bit of a slog except I was keen to solve it and to figure out the damned theme. Initially I thought the numbers in brackets referred to the 4th, 5th or whatever letter in the answer and I needed to circle them. Dumb. Then I just went ahead getting what I could until I got BONO, BECK, and STING and finally saw it. Bit of an 'aha' but also a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, 18 of them is impressive, I think.

Could've thrown in "Lewd gesture" as a clue ANS: "thrusting pELVIS" [5], and that woulda been cool.

Even after finishing (yay) I didn't know a few of the singers, and likely never will.

Lotta threes in there, but overall the fill was pretty good given the constraints, so I'd say not a slog.

Diana,LIW 2:37 PM  

The R in my PROBONO didn't get finished, and thus was a P. And since I'm not familiar with ADRIANA, AnpIANA looked ok, giving us the famous NOUGIE dance craze.

Fairly easy but for the few woes. Mostly guessed correctly. 'cept for the above.

And yes, DRYINK is green paintish. And MAPPER - the less said the better. Skyey.

Thought 14 down was some Harry Potter school at first. Individualized magic anyone?

Read Le Petit Prince in college French class - thank God for the English version. Think I still have it/them.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

AnonymousPVX 4:16 PM  

I thought this rather tough, horribly clued, and badly themed....and I got the solve.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

agree with those who thought it was themeless until almost the end. agree its horribly clued and full of crosswordese. Quite the slog for me, but I did finish; just not sure why

took forever to see what'd I do - could only think it was "what did" ... then go back 3 letters and pick up "i do" to make sense. but it had a [4] after it, not a 3.

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