Last Scottish king to die in battle / SUN 7-30-17 / Mideast royal name / Funny Gasteyer / NFC North rivals Bears / Cellphone chip holder / Loren of "Marriage Italian-Style" / Northern Indiana county seat /

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Constructor: Isaac Mizrahi and David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Average (18:19)

THEME: "By Design" — Idioms are clued with fashion-related jokes.
  • 24A: Flaunt a loose dress at a soiree? (WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT)
  • 33A: Title of a fashion industry seamstress's tell-all? (ON PINS AND NEEDLES)
  • 56A: What some wrap dresses are? (FIT TO BE TIED)
  • 77A: Like a model's hairstyle? (CUT AND DRIED)
  • 99A: Takes fashion photos using an unorthodox angle? (SHOOTS FROM THE HIP)
  • 109A: Shorten some couture dresses? (TAKE UP A COLLECTION)
  • 3D: Preferred means of arriving at a fashion show? (TAXI DOWN THE RUNWAY)
  • 46D: Inspects a fashion designer's offerings? (GOES OVER THE LINE)
Word of the Day: A-BOMB (35D: Little Boy, e.g., informally)
"Little Boy" was the codename for the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 during World War II by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., commander of the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare. The Hiroshima bombing was the second artificial nuclear explosion in history, after the Trinity test, and the first uranium-based detonation. It exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ). The bomb caused significant destruction to the city of Hiroshima and its occupants. (Wikipedia)
7D:  Stain that's hard to remove (INK SPOT)
The Ink Spots had the definitive version of "We'll Meet Again," the song (Vera Lynn's version) that plays over the last scenes of Dr. Strangelove, the definitive film about the A-BOMB.

• • •
If I might OPINE (20A: Offer a thought): HONESTLY (70D: Cry of exasperation), this felt NOT SO GOOD (78D: Medium-to-poor) for a Sunday theme. I appreciate the intent of the famous-person-and-veteran-constructor match-up, I'm a huge fan of Isaac Mizrahi (I had many of the clothes from the "chic librarian" line he designed for Target, many years ago, including a wrap dress that was FIT TO BE TIED), but this one did not WIN (71A: Get the gold). A SHIFT is both a dress style and a period of working time! TAKE UP means both "collect" and "shorten, as a hem"! TAXI is both something an airplane does on a RUNWAY and a vehicle one could take to get to a RUNWAY, which is also a place where fashion shows are held! (get it? do I need to explicate all of these?). It doesn't feel strong enough to carry a Sunday puzzle; the three or four best of the set could've fit neatly into a Tuesday or Wednesday. I'm sure there are plenty who will like it; however, I was AVERSE (116A: Resistant (to)) -- but I've been told my taste in crossword themes is a bit EDGY (not as in 121A: Uneasy, but as in "risqué" or -- as I prefer to think of it -- "badass").


The best scene from The Mummy (1999)
  • 90D: Creator of an ancient pyramid scheme? (IMHOTEP) — Imhotep was apparently a real historical figure, but he's better known in pop culture (my favorite kind of culture, aside from Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as the title character of The Mummy (played by Boris Karloff in 1932 and Arnold Vosloo in 1999).
  • 61A: ___ pants (HAREM) — I prefer this word clued in this, uh, fashion -- compared to previous approaches.
  • 14D: Christmas threesome (HOS) — 🤔.
  • 11D: Klingons, e.g. (ALIEN RACE) — TlhInganpu' wej chenmoH QeH.
I've really enjoyed blogging the puzzle this week, and thanks for your lovely comments and tweets. It takes a great deal of work to make a daily crossword blog; Rex has written this thing almost every day for more than ten years, just because he wants to, and because he cares about puzzles. I deeply respect and admire him for what he does here -- and even more so after spending eight days in his shoes on his Blogger account. So: thanks to you for reading, and many, many thanks to my friend Rex for giving me a platform to blather at you for a while. I hope to return, but in the meantime, you can find me covering the Tuesday WSJ puzzle at the Fiend, and next Sunday I'll be helping to run Boswords. Speaking of which, we've had so many sign-ups that we're in need of more volunteers: Sunday, August 6, noon-5pm, in lovely West Roxbury, MA -- only 10 miles from Natick! If you're interested (free lunch!), drop a line to boswordstournament [at] gmail [dot] com.

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 1:02 AM  

Thanks, @Laura for all your great work this week, culminating with today's review of the celebrity collaboration involving one of my favorite constructors, @David Kahn, together with someone who I confess to having never heard of until (SPOILER ALERT) he was a theme answer in a Crossword Nation puzzle by another one of my favorite constructors, @Liz Gorski, that came out a little over a month ago. Thanks too for the INKSPOTs earworm from one of my favorite movies, "Dr. Strangelove."

Today's puzzle jams in eight theme entries, most (but not all) of which elicited chuckles. I had a few stumbles, like ELK ahead of NUN, CARGO before HAREM, and NOT... instead of FIT..., let alone having absolutely no idea of Indiana geography, but still sorted it all out in less than half an hour which is fast by my personal Sunday standards. I especially enjoyed the clues for HOOK and ICECAP (let's hope the latter is still true by the time this puzzle gets anthologized).

Left-over from yesterday: Thanks to @Loren Muse Smith for her musings about PEEER (review).

Robin 1:30 AM  

Had some trouble getting into this one, and finished slightly slower than my average time. I was completely sober while working on it, so maybe that was the problem.

But I have to agree with Laura in that the themers didn't do a lot for me. Also there seemed to be a lot of three-letter fills.

David G. 1:40 AM  

Thanks, Laura. You've been a great sub for Rex. Hope to see you again for his next vacation!

Larry Gilstrap 1:54 AM  

Blogging fatigue seems to be a real thing, and I can imagine why. Hi @Laura and thanks. Sunday puzzles often seem tedious. I'm blaming those little teeny squares. Come on man! Some of those themers are very long and all are related to some facet of the fashion scene. That's admirable. 99A is a bit of an outlier, but what do I know about haute couture? A big fat grid with beefy themers means some strained fill is in the forecast.

Still, kinda fascinated with the @Loren horror film scenario from yesterday, but I can't imagine SOPHIA Loren playing the role of a clueless victim. Film buffs?

In crossworld, the months of the Spanish Calendario are UNO. ENERO is all you need to know. MAYO is usually clued in other ways.

Remember when the Top of the world featured an ICE CAP? That Northwest Passage was a DREAM for shipping. Now. a luxury liner is planning to make the voyage. Cruise ship, icy waters, what could go wrong?

Maybe it was just me, the dim light, those teeny squares, but I swear I read Putin's piece and tried to fit Kalashnikov into just three squares. How stupid was that? Particularly because that is not the M.O. Polonium 210 is so much neater, and now we hear about defenestration. Sting told us that the Russians love their children too, and few nations have suffered more from the ravages of war. If you desire MIR, you have to live it.

Sue T. 2:12 AM  

14D (HOS) made me think of one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs:

jae 2:25 AM  

Thanks @Laura for an enjoyable week +. Easy- medium for me with the top easier than the bottom. I thought this was OK for a Sun. So, a mild liked it.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

Laura, we've enjoyed having you as a sub and are hopeful for a return engagement soon. I agree with everything you had to say about this one. I'm pretty much over this collaboration thing.

@ Lauren, help me out here, I can't fine anything positive to say. I know you will find a silver lining.

Hartley70 2:59 AM  

Great job filling in for Rex, Laura! I have to disagree with you on this puzzle, however. It rates an easy solve, not a medium, and I really flew through this, but with none of the Sunday slog that sometimes drives me mad.

I'm always happy to see density of themers and there was plenty here. I also thought the subject matter was great, sooo much more enjoyable to me than baseball or football teams. I like seeing the fashion business represented. It plays a big part in the NYC economy.

I would have liked "cut from the same cloth", "hem and haw", "strut your stuff"... there are plenty of themers and fill in the garment business to keep Isaac going in a constructor partnership if he ever gets tired of his day job.

It doesn't hurt that the celebrity constructor is a fun fellow with a good sense of humor, if his recent appearance on "Watch What Happens Live" is any indication. Kudos to David J. Kahn too, of course!

Oren 3:37 AM  

Isaac Mizrahi is a wonder - not just a talented designer, but also a wonderful performer. Caught his awesome cabaret act at the Cafe Carlyle earlier this year - pure fun for the audience to see a performer enjoying himself so much. He also had a great retrospective at the Jewish Museum around the same time. So I'm happy to put up with a bit of suboptimal fill to have him join us for a day.

Anonymous 4:31 AM  

I liked it.

Hrs 4:43 AM  

IM's nickname was Bubba.

Loren Muse Smith 5:28 AM  

Laura – you’ve done a bang-up job this week. Thanks for the commitment. But I’ll see your list of crosswordese and raise you one – how ‘bout all the periphery theme fill? ELLE, HAREM pants, BRA, HAT, BOA, PRINT AD, EAR PIERCES, SPADE, size ZERO because she SHEDS pounds thanks to EPHEDRA. Oh, and EDGY ALIEN RACE. Right? I can’t be the only one who’s a bit unsettled by the weird make-up and outfits you see in an honest-to-god haute couture runway show. And the Models. Never. Smile. Even more unsettling.

@chefwen – Huh? I loved this theme! I got WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT pretty early and was delighted. It’s so fun to take regular phrases and re-examine them in another light. (And this kind of theme feels less forced than some kind of pun idea – OAT COUTURE, A DRESS LABEL, RUN WEIGH (ok – that works either way), PRANK COLLAR…)

@Hartley – Watch What Happens Live – I know, right? I saw Isaac on WWHL and was so taken with his personality and gentle spirit. Seems like a really nice person. I couldn’t believe it when I saw his name at the top of the grid!

For 85A, I put “persons” before PSYCHES. The clue was “souls.” I was thinking airplanes, ya know – there were 143 souls on board. I tell you, though, it seems like when you start hearing souls on board in the news, you know it’s pretty grim. Like once they go from people to souls, well…. (And how do they account for lawyers or politicians? There were 143 souls on board, 3 lawyers, and 2 politicians. Sorry, @Hartley. Just kidding. Hey – my husband is a lawyer.) I mean, would a flight attendant say to another, What? You got all the dinners served in only one hour? Sheesh! How many souls were on board? I dunno – maybe they would.

Here’s my dumbest goof: “comodes” (stet) for COOLERS. The clue was “cans.”

@George – me, too, for “elk.” Twice.

@LisaG from yesterday – welcome!

@Larry - Yeah – my name is in a clue. I’ve just discovered Siri – now there’s a time suck. I’ve managed to change the voice to a male Brit, but he was pronouncing my first name the way you pronounce SOPHIA’s last name. I figured out how to teach him, though. So we’re good. (I did ask him if I could call him Jeeves, but he said it would be very confusing.)

Isaac, David – loved your themer COLLECTION here.

Lewis 6:31 AM  

@larry -- "What could go wrong?" got a big smile here.

Usually on a Sunday I can tell right away if a puzzle is going to fight me or not; whether it fits my wavelength or is at odds. And on today's, the message was that it was going to be a trudge. A trudge can be bad (slog) or good (lots of ahas and good brain sweat) -- and this was good. Started with lots of white space and kept going at trudge pace, gaining momentum, and by the end I felt very good and thought: This was made by a pro, this is how a solve should go.

The theme wasn't funny to me per se, but it was interesting; it felt different, out of the box. The middle-to-top on the West and middle-to-bottom on the East are islands -- separate puzzles -- that I would have liked to be better connected with the rest of the puzzle.

I didn't find it easy to come up with other theme answers. Here's my best attempt: "A fashion designer giving the most positive slant to an ugly sweater?" SPINNING A YARN.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

Beautiful job Laura! Thanks!!

QuasiMojo 7:17 AM  

What a delightful puzzle! I disagree with Laura today (thanks for a splendid week subbing though). Isaac did a great job using some old-fashioned cliches and making them fashion-able again. I loved all the chewy fill and clever bons mots. And the germane asides: "harem pants," "boa," "print ad" etc. Bravo, Isaac and David. I recently saw Isaac Mizrahi in "Fame" the movie. He was very funny even back then.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

This puzzle was good.

OTD 7:30 AM  

I've been doing the NYT x/word for many years now, but have followed Rex's blog only for the past five years. I've learned a lot about x/words from Rex and the many members of his blog, which has heightened my own enjoyment of a good puzzle. Doing a blog such as this takes true dedication, as Laura has witnessed this past week. Kudos to her--and hope to see her again when Rex takes another well-deserved vacation. As for the puzzle--I found it easy, but filled with all sorts of crosswordese, all of them listed in the blogs. While I don't care about a few scattered here and there, this one carried a little too much baggage. Thanks again, Laura, for a splendid job.

Jofried 7:43 AM  

As soon as I realized this was about the fashion industry I was turned off. Women starving themselves so they can look anorexic while modeling clothing that normal people can't afford? No thanks. The puzzle took me longer than usual, probably because I was grouchy and grumbling the whole time, and other than the Star Trek clue I didn't know the names at all. Not my favorite Sunday--I'm with you, Laura!

BarbieBarbie 7:53 AM  

@LMS, it's [sic], not [stet].
There was no aha to this theme. And some of the themers were stretches. Who says GOESOVERTHELINE instead of CROSSESTHELINE? So I'm with Laura. The puzzle was fine, but not delightful. Kind of a polyester blend. Except for HAREM pants- I did like that one- but not enough to make up for using Little Boy as crossword fodder. The breakfast test on that one is flunked so badly that the culinary school grade must be repeated. No better than using Dachau to clue OVENS. Or hey, how about Trail of Tears to clue PARADE? I can't believe all three of them thought it was OK.

chefbea 7:55 AM  

Thanks Laura for a great job!!! Did not like the puzzle...Got on pins and needles right away. Hand up for elk!!! DNF

AW 7:56 AM  

This one was a slog for me with lots of WOEs. Half of the themers felt forced to the point of breaking. Who wears a NIGHT SHIFT to a soiree (24A)? Who wears a NIGHT SHIFT at all anymore? The puzzles title is "By Design" and we get NIGHT SHIFT?

A tell-all (33A) is usually full of salacious tidbits or spiteful revelations, but a thriller that keeps you (33A) ON PINS AND NEEDLES? No. And if the "ON" is meant as "about," well, that doesn't work either. Like On the Origin of Species, it would indicated a treatise on the fashion industry, not a tell-all.

And so it went. When was the last time anyone but one of the seven dwarves in the Disney film used HIHO (49D) in greeting? When was the last time anyone used OAKEN to describe a floor (101D)? (You'd say "oak floor.") And is HOME EC (50D) offered in any school, anywhere anymore? Finally, can we ban ORDERER (47D) from the English language, never mind crossword puzzles? Have you ever heard a restaurant patron referred to that way? Ever?

On the plus side, CUT AND DRIED, TAKE UP A COLLECTION, SHOOTS FROM THE HIP, GOES OVER THE LINE, and FIT TO BE TIED were cleverly clued and elicited a much-needed chuckle.

Finally, thank you, Laura, for your entertaining and elucidating commentary.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

What?! A BRA is a support under a tank? Being a big breasted woman I am totally insulted by that clue. My breasts are not TANKS thank you very much. So many other options for that answer that would so much less demeaning!

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

You wear a bra under a tank top to support your breasts, regardless of size.

Glimmerglas 8:32 AM  

@anon 8:05: That's tank top [but I suspect you're having us on]. Thanks, Laura for an intersting week.

Debra 8:44 AM  

Excellent Sunday.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

OK, someone's gonna have to explain HOS (14D) to me...

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

I take HOS question back, I just got it (and like it).

Gorelick 9:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
'merican in Paris 9:29 AM  

Woof! This one played medium for me. Not so CUT AND DRIED. Mrs. 'mericans is in L.A. this week, so no tag team this time. The south-east was my undoing. Filled it all in eventually, but finally gave up on _ _ HOTEP and had to look that one up (all I knew of was AmenHOTEP). DNF, however, because I thought the spelling of 56D was FAhiTAS.

I liked the themers: they at least helped me fill in a lot of blanks. But, wow the number of three-letter answers!

Lots of write-overs. Hands up for entering "PersonS" before PHSYCHES. Also had PokE -- as in "a pig in a poke" -- for PILE for the longest time. (Eleven letter "Ps" in this puz; some kinda record, no?) Lots of French, too: ELLE, ETUDE, LA PORTE, TES.

@Chefwen: There's at least two Hawai'ian answers: HULA and LEI. That's nice, no?

Grumbles: Shouldn't the clue for 17D be "Go (through)"? Does anybody RIFLE something, as opposed to RIFLE through it? Does anybody say ORDERER for customer?

Finally, a tip of the ol' HAT to Laura for a great job in filling in for OFL this week. Many thanks!

P.S. to Mr. Shortz: Somebody who is a writer and a critic is a "writer-critic", not a "writer/critic". Please.

Teedmn 9:44 AM  

HONESTLY, another typo DNF this week - I had the H in CHORE but when I went to type in HONESTLY, the H became an "o" and, HIHO, no "correct" when I checked my solution. I'm too lazy to proofread Sunday puzzles so I cheated to find the error and called it a day.

My favorite themer was the first one I got, "SHOOTS FROM THE HIP". The rest all worked fine too. Who knew that so many phrases could be TIED to the fashion industry? And what about FIT TO BE TIED? What does that come from? You are so upset you have to be TIED down before you run amok like a HUN or CHEWS UP the furniture?

Did anyone else hark back to the "Gong Show" at 117A?

Thanks IM and DK, you fashioned a very nice Sunday puzzle.

Birchbark 9:47 AM  

Unusual spiral solve -- started building off ORE in the east, and mostly worked all the way around the outside, then filled in the center.

I kept wanting RA HOTEP in the south, as a logical confluence of old crossword friends AMEN RA and AMEN HOTEP. Instead, who's there? I'M. I'M who? IM HOTEP, so you'd better make a Scooby-style run for it.

At the end, ran the alphabet several times on SHED/SNAP + NUN/HULA. Convinced "Shakers'" with its plural possessive meant those of Simple Gifts fame. Wanted ASAP for SNAP but knew it was wrong. All fair clues, but the stare-down in that little section brought and otherwise average solve to nearly twice the typical Sunday time for me.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

I wish I could ALTER MY OPINION. I wish I could SEW UP MY LIPS. I wish I could praise this puzzle FROM HEAD TO TOE. But I can't. I'm finding this a complete WAIST OF TIME. These puns are PRESSING ALL THE WRONG BUTTONS. I simply don't care about fashion, Isaac. I don't even care about it when it's unpunned. I care about only one thing: Will the item in question look good on me or won't the item look good on me? (Most of what designers design, made for women who are seven feet tall, won't). And then: Can I afford it? (Almost certainly I can't.) So, I'm not finishing this slog, Isaac. I will, however, see you soon on "Project Runway" -- one of my guilty pleasures. Why do I like that program, Isaac? Because it's about process and process always interests me.

jberg 10:12 AM  

I did put in 'elk' for the first order, but by the time I got to the second one I had the initial F already, so I was saved.

More gravely, I stopped reading the clue to 1D after "Last Scottish King" (there was a line break there in the paper) so confidently filled in JAMES vi. It was a little EERIE to first notice from rereading the clue that that was wrong, and then find most of it confirmed by crosses. It finally dawned on me that it my James was the sixth, there must have been five others, two of whom had two-letter numerals after their names.

I did like the theme answers -- and so many! And overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. But "Nutmeg State collegian" for ELI was a little tweer (twee-er?) than I cared for.

Also, LAPORTE violates the rule that a six-letter Indiana city should be Wabash.

JC66 10:13 AM  

@ Hartley70

From yesterday (early this morning).

Sorry for not realizing my ID would be misleading. I was 66 when I got my Google account...11 years ago.

Yes, I continue to be young at heart and I just assume I'm older than others until proven otherwise.

billocohoes 10:15 AM  

Vandals aren't related to HUNS, other than both were tribes that invaded the Roman Empire

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

Enjoyable Sunday puzzle and review.
Thanks to Laura for sitting in but I'm
well-rested now and ready for our usual
snarky blogger to return.

Indiana may seem like a boring place now
but it used to be the western frontier.
The many rivers leading to the Ohio and then
the Mississippi made it an important trade
route. The towns with French names are reminders.
Some very significant
moments in history took place in Indiana.

ArtO 10:45 AM  

Despite all the short crosswordese fill, I thought the theme puns were fun. COOLERS for "cans' was pretty tricky.

My problem was starting in ink late last night and throwing in some mistakes. Took a while to work through these and managed a finish this morning (in pencil!).

Thanks to Laura for her good work. Nice to have a week without a load of negative ranting.

Exubesq 10:48 AM  

Don't feed the troll

puzzlehoarder 10:55 AM  

I didn't know this was a celebrity puzzle until I read the xwordinfo blurb. I'm a fireman so you can imagine my familiarity with the fashion world. I've never even heard of WWHL(hi Hartley & @lms.) My only mistake was doing this puzzle on my tablet at the firehouse last night. The eye strain on a printed version of a Sunday puzzle is bad enough. Those squares are only an 1/8th of an inch across. You could fit four of the tablet squares into that same space. The fill today had just enough challenge to make for an entertaining solve. The themes were all recognizable phrases. It's no surprise that our guest host is receiving so much praise. Women tend to make much better commenters. The negativity and sniping you often find here are largely a guy thing and our regular host goes to great lengths to set the mood. I recently took a page out of @Nancy"s book and stopped reading his comments.

Wm. C. 10:59 AM  

This is wildly off-topic, but seeing the write-up about Little Boy (the ABOMB dropped on Hirosima (and the subsequent one on Nagasaki) reminded me of my past thoughts on this matter --

If we had lost that war, those involved in the decision and implementation of these acts would have been tried as war criminals for killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and exposing multitudes of others to horrible radiation.

Clearly, the fact that these brought a quick end to the war, saving the lives of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers and countless Japanese military and civilians who would have been involved in an invasion, was hugely important.

However, I wonder if dropping the first bomb twenty miles or so off the coast of Tokyo, followed by a warning that in three days the next would be dropped on Tokyo itself, would also have resulted in surrender without such tragic consequences. I think it probably would have.

Yes, I understand that many or most Japanese leaders, military and civilian, were totally amoral and deserving a death penalty. Also, I know we had only two bombs and making more would be a lengthy process. Finally, my father-in-law was an Army communications lieutenant slated to go ashore in the first wave, meaning that my wife might never have been born if an invasion was needed.

Nonetheless, I think a different approach should have been taken.

Sorry for the philosophical post ....

Z 11:03 AM  

I thought the theme clung was fun enough, The grid seemed a little choppy resulting in too much short fill, but it is Sunday so that's not unusual. One thumb up on this one.

Ho Ho Ho.

Phil 11:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maruchka 11:15 AM  

Just OK here. Would have enjoyed more if tiny fillers were cleverer.

Dat said - what a cool theme. I'm in @Nancy's TAXI - not a fashionista by any stretch (pants) yet addicted to Project Runway. Though the bumbling charm of earlier seasons is gone, I still get caught up in the unrelenting process. PR is my one go to 'reality show' since RuPaul went schmancy..

The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles, HUNS.

Little Boy. Oh boy. Sarah Palin can now see North Korea from her backyard..?

Phil 11:15 AM  

Boy I could have sworn cannon was s. and pl..

FDR 11:43 AM  

History doesn't pass your breakfast test BarbieBarbie?
That bomb ended the war with Japan, it didn't start it.
You wanted America to lose? What sort of treasonous
thinking is that? Maybe you should stick with the crosswords
in People magazine while you suck your thumb in your "safe place."

Carola 11:57 AM  

I want to agree with @Hartley70 and @Loren, admiring the repurposing of so many common phrases, but I keep getting pulled back into @Laura's corner. I'd have enjoyed a little more snap and crackle of wit.

@Wm C, re: the A-BOMB - my husband's brother, in going through their late dad's papers, discovered that as a recent university grad with an engineering degree, he had been a part of the Manhattan Project, working on the trigger mechanism for the bomb. We're not sure why he never talked about this or how we feel about it!

@Laura, theme bullet 3D - TAXI *TO* THE RUNWAY. Thanks for the most enjoyable week of posts.

fiddleneck 12:11 PM  

Why is hook a swift ending for a bad stage performance? What am I not seeing?

old timer 12:24 PM  

Joining the praise for Laura's work this week. The strange thing about today's criticism is that in illustrating her point she demonstrated why this was an above-average Sunday puzzle. Of course the denser the theme the more common and tiresome are the three-letter words. If you are not Patrick Berry that goes with the territory I think.

A slog for sure. But no lookups and only one writeover because I started to write "hiya" instead of HIHO.

I too was going to refer to the Christmas Jug band's immortal "Santa Lost a Ho." Thanks for providing it early, @Sue T. A brilliant song credited to Paul Rogers but surely inspired by Dan Hicks, who sang lead and whose clever sense of humor made him a minor star back in the day. The interesting thing is, you can sing that song to toddlers with no embarrassment -- they will always take the word "ho" only in its "ho-ho-ho" sense.

Unknown 12:30 PM  

Tank top :)

Wm. C. 12:31 PM  

@Carola --

Re: working on the A-Bomb:. I'm not at all against the fact that the a-bomb was constructed and used; it's fortunate that it was developed, in that it ultimately saved hundreds or thousands (or more) lives. What I'm disturbed about is HOW it was used. As I said, I think it possible that a different use could have ended the war with very few deaths.

RooMonster 12:36 PM  

Hey All !
Almost gave up, but perservered! I'm no Fashionisto, causing some troubles with the themers. But ended up 100% correct! TRE COOLERS!

Had NOTtOObaD for NOTSOGOOD (@Lorenism? I know she likes these opposite/same meaning thingies) mucking up that little section. Some other writeovers, INKblOTS-INKSPOTS, elk-NUN, ATreSt-ATEASE, cAttY-TALKY. Wanted adverse for AVERSE, har, wouldn't fit. Another type of speech thingie?

Sorry if already asked, haven't read anyone yet, but explain WORK THE NIGHT SHIFT as the answer to that clue? Seems like an outlier.

Liked the themers, except the WORK.. one. A nice, passable SunPuz. Some clues stretched the ole brain. Need to get it working again. (Knocks on head) "Hello, anyone there?" . . . Silence.


Smee 12:38 PM  

I believe the vaudeville explanation is correct. Partridge's "Dictionary of Catch Phrases" has this entry:

: : : 'get the hook!' This US c.p. derives 'from the days, up to c. 1930, of amateur vaudeville contests; it was said that the managers kept a long hook in the wings to drag off incompetent but stubbornly persistent performers. Not, of course, a c.p. in those circumstances, but it is one when some guest is not succeeding in entertaining the company; sometimes extended to losing a job' (Prof. John W. Clark, 1978).

: : GIVE THE HOOK ? ?The ?hook? here is straight out of vaudeville. In grandfather?s time, a weekly event at the local vaudeville house was Amateur Night, when local talent competed for modest prizes and an opportunity to get a start in show business. Very bad acts were hooted vehemently and, when the boos reached a peak, the manager would reach out from the wings with a long pole bearing a hook at the end and unceremoniously jerk the ham out of the limelight. Nowadays anyone who gets or is given ?the hook? is a person discharged for incompetence.? From the ?Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins? by William and M

clk 12:41 PM  

Completely agree with you.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I can't be the only one, before the theme became apparent, was hoping 56 Across (What some wraps are?) would result in something like SARI IMITATION.

Stanley Hudson 12:53 PM  

@Laura, thanks for excellent blogging, though because I was camping in the wilds nearly all week I only caught your last couple of days. Hope to see you on here again.

Given that August 6 is fast approaching, the A-bomb reference is timely though not exactly uplifting.

BarbieBarbie 12:55 PM  

@FDR, check out what I actually said. I made no statement about whether or not LB should have been dropped. I actually lean toward "yes." It was nevertheless a human tragedy and it's inappropriate to use it as entertainment.

By the way- I also think trigger warnings are stupid. So please take your assumptions about me and my opinions, inscribe them on thumbtacks, and put them where the sun don't shine. I'm outta here.

Unknown 1:00 PM  

Santa says "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Unknown 1:03 PM  

I know, right?!

Unknown 1:05 PM  

In vaudeville. If your act was bombing, a giant hook would appear latitudinally and pull you off stage. This would make audience laugh and get them "in the mood" for next act.

fiddleneck 1:30 PM  

Thank you @ smee and Deborah Wess.

Robert A. Simon 1:33 PM  
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Robert A. Simon 1:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 1:40 PM  

You eat FAJITAS in a cantina? Really? Not little botanas like taquitos or nachos or fried jalapenos? Actually, I think you mostly drink in a cantina. Many moons ago, I took a travel agent out to lunch. I was trying to get her to sell her clients on the beauty of Mexico. So, I took her to a Mexican restaurant to get her in the mood. She looked at the menu and wanted to know what fah chaidas tasted like.
I liked this puzzle - just like @Quasi. I thought it clever and different. I didn't roar with laughter at each theme but then I haven't roared at a Sunday puzzle in ages.
FIT TO BE TIED did bring on a smile. When I lived in Spain, I had most of my clothes and shoes made for me. It sounds tres chic but it actually wasn't that expensive to have a modista. Because I was taller than the average woman at that time and because I wear a size 10 shoe, I didn't have much of a choice. I spent a lot of time ON PINS AND NEEDLES convincing the seamstress that four inches above the knees was perfectly acceptable. My shoemaker, on the other hand, couldn't get over my troll feet. He told me I wore the same size shoe as he did.
I like that RUSSETS are apples and potatoes.
Good job Isaac and David. you make good puzzles together.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Agree this is not what is expected of a Sunday puzzle, too easy, too many plurals, 3-letter words and past tenses. Look forward to Sunday solving and disappointed again.

mooretep 1:53 PM  

Yes, that's where Prince Charles spent his honeymoon. :-)

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

With all due respect to the co-constructors, both of whom I have great respect for, I thought this puzzle was LAMÉ!

evil doug 1:58 PM  

Opinions are, and should be, all over the place when it comes to Little Boy. Even with the advantage of 20-20 hindsight, it's impossible to know the right decision. But that decision was made, and even difficult history has a proper place in a pastime that often clues Stalin, Mao, Arafat--or Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, if you prefer....

A brilliant read that tackles the subject from a variety of angles--scientific, economic, moral, religious, practical--is the Pulitzer-winning "The Making Of The Atomic Bomb", by Richard Rhodes.

My opinion? Doesn't matter. I'm just glad to see that folks here are learned enough on the subject to have an educated discussion--and that Will saw fit to include it in the puzzle.

Life isn't always Oreos and oleo....

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

The 25th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs was 1970, not 1971.

Joe Dipinto 2:07 PM  

Not a bad puzzle, but I'm with those who felt it could have been snappier. I have high expectations when I see David J. Kahn's name. Even the title "By Design" seems sort of half-hearted...

This is slightly off-topic, but the comments re the Little Boy clue made me start thinking about it. Did anyone do the Split Decisions puzzle by Fred Piscop? That puzzle usually contains fairly common words, but there's a very obscure word in the middle bottom section: SCHIST, which is apparently a type of rock. The CH is given; you have to figure out what the rest of the letters are. Anyway, it occurred to me that SEXIST would have worked there, and is a word almost everyone would know. I wonder if that was the original clue and the editor deemed it inappropriate (maybe he thought a SADIST/SEXIST combo was, uh, going over the line).

Robert A. Simon 2:10 PM  

Lots of talk about the ABOMB, as well there always should be. I, for one, am very glad that this clue/answer was not in next Sunday's puzzle, as next Sunday is August 6th, the date the bomb was dropped. That would have been more than a little disgusting.

I was living and working in Japan in 1970, and my wife and I wanted to pay our respects in Hiroshima on the bomb's 25th anniversary. I was working for a large company, and I asked my boss and others whether it would be proper for two gaijin (the Japanese word that means "outside person," which is meant to be a little more critical than "foreigner") to attend. Yes, they said, but I was told to be proper at all times. Do not, for instance, take photos. Wear a black suit, white shirt and black tie. Please tell your wife to wear a black dress. White pearls were okay.

There is a very solemn service to remember the dead on Yom Kippur called "Yizkor." I have been to fifty of them. All of them added together do not even begin to approach what being there that day felt like. It seemed like half of the hundreds of thousands of people there were scarred or limping or missing limbs. I was used to being stared at in Japan, as I am 6-5, so I can't say whether we were looked up and down any more than usual. Nobody confronted us. We attended the service, made a donation--the city was by no means rebuilt by then, and there were still many victims and their families to help--and made our way to the train station and left. We certainly didn't feel like victors, but we didn't feel guilty, either. We felt like crap, and I use that under-performing word only because I don't want offend anyone. We felt worse.

If, for any reason, you have not yet read John Hersey's "Hiroshima," The New Yorker (which published it as the only "article" in a single issue just over a year later) has made it available on their site. Here's the link:

Joe Bleaux 2:16 PM  

@George Barany. Me too on appreciating Laura's inclusion of the clip (although I find the Vera Miles version more poignant). @RooMonster. My guess: Flaunt is WORK (as in "workin' it"), and soirée is obvious enough, so a loose dress must be a SHIFT. @Lewis. I'm glad you noted the two-puzzles aspect of this one. I thought it was just me.

JC66 2:22 PM  

@joe D

You need two given letters going down to agree with AD, so substituting X for CH wouldn't work.

Joe Dipinto 2:57 PM  

@JC66 -- the two alternate clues would be AD/EX, to give you sADist/sEXist -- instead of sADist/sCHist. It looks so weird to have such an uncommon word as SCHIST there.

JC66 3:15 PM  

Joe D


JC66 3:17 PM  

@Joe D

My first mistake this year. 🙃

Tarheeled 3:20 PM  

I waltzed through the whole thing (almost) in record (for me) time. That is until the very end where I had bale for pile at 89 across. Misspelling Imhotep didn't help either. Otherwise a fun if not stimulating exercise. And NO write-overs.

Tarheeled 3:29 PM  

For Jo DiPinto
Schist is a metamorphic rock formed by intense heat and pressure on preexisting rocks. The type is named based on its predominant mineral. Ergo, mica schist, garnet schist, biotite schist, hornblende schist, or, as I used to share with my high school students -
dog schist. Probably can't get away with that today. I retired in 1996.

Mohair Sam 3:35 PM  

Yeah, really enjoyed this puzzle. Played challenging for us, which probably added to the fun. And yeah (II) you're gonna get a lot of -ese when you've got a lot of threes - deal with it. The clues seemed to avoid the norm, made the puzzle a lot more interesting (i.e. Nutmeg State for ELI).

The puns were all fun for us, we chuckled. We double "elked" just like @Loren, great minds and all that. Lost half our morning with "awol" for JEEP. Cavs might have won a game or two more if KYLE could have kept up, imo. Hey @Gill I - only guys brag about big feet.

Yes - I too wish we had a different clue foe ABOMB, had the same August 6 thought as @Robert Simon. My niece who taught in Japan for five years had a similar experience at Hiroshima. In Simon Winchester's "The River at the Center of the World" he describes a far more difficult experience for Japanese visitors at the Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre Museum. I had a friend from the Nanjing area, a former Red Guard, his parents lived through the Massacre - what a history lesson just talking to that guy. Man are we lucky being born in the U.S.A.

@Robert A. Simon - Second your recommendation on "Hiroshima". A book the world should read. And it reads truly apolitical.

GILL I. 3:48 PM  

@Mohair...I thought they bragged about the size of their hands......;-)

Joe Dipinto 3:52 PM  

@Tarheeled - Thanks, I did look up Schist to make sure it was an actual thing. My point was that "sexist" would have been a much more recognizable word to use there, so I was pondering if it's off-limits as a puzzle answer.

@JC66 -- your first mistake this year? I'm impressed. I've made so, so many. :-)

chefwen 4:04 PM  

@'mericans. Of course HULA & LEI were nice. While we're on the subject, when y'all coming back?

'mericans in Paris 4:28 PM  

@chefwen. We'll likely be on your island in the second half of October. We'll let you know, of course! But first my brother will be coming over here -- for the first time since 2001. (Sheesh.) Mrs. 'mericans is as I write much closer to you (in San Diego) than to me.

Hungry Mother 5:19 PM  

Very normal Sunday for me. Nothing too interesting about the theme or the rest. Kind of meh.

ir 5:39 PM  

Great job Laura. Reading on my phone so maybe someone has answered this question already, but am having hard time understanding how cans is coolers.

Mohair Sam 5:41 PM  

@ir - Think Jails

Joe Dipinto 5:45 PM  

@Tarheeled - Somehow didn't register your Dog Schist aside on the first pass. Like! :-) (Dumped out much Cat Schist from my apartment, when those two were alive.)

Trombone Tom 5:52 PM  

1. What a real pleasure it has been having Laura to entertain us for the past week. I would always welcome her back.

2. I am not a fan of celebrity anything, but this was one of the better efforts.

3. It's difficult to make a Sunday puzzle crunchy and challenging and few constructors can do so. I felt this puzzle gave some resistance and some of the themes were clever and quite entertaining. C'mon man, didn't you get even a mild chuckle out of FIT TO BE TIED?

Cassieopia 5:53 PM  

A cheat-fest for me, the misdirecting clues killed me (NUN instead of elk, etc). Popping in after a week Off the grid to say great blog Laura, nice (but difficult for me) puzzle, and excellent comments. I come for the blog and stay for the comments, and y'all never disappoint.

JC66 6:05 PM  

@Joe D

You know I was being facetious, right?

Joe Dipinto 6:16 PM  

@JC66-- what does "facetious" mean? I don't like words longer than 6 letters! Yes I know ��

old timer 7:00 PM  

BTW for those of you who get the Magazine in print, Piscop's Split Decisions is a real doozy today. I always am mystified until I am not, and actually there was only a single word that was not quite common.

Birchbark 7:01 PM  

For those interested in the Hiroshima discussion, I recommend Pamela Rotner Sakamoto, "Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese-American Family Caught between Two Worlds." Many Japanese-American families in the Pacific Northwest would send their children to Japan for a few years of schooling in the decades before World War II. As US/Japanese relations devolved, travel stopped, leaving siblings on both sides of the Pacific. Here, we see the war and Hiroshima from multiple first-hand perspectives -- real people. With that foundation, the explosion of the atomic bomb is real and unreal in a new way for me.

A small request 9:39 PM  

To Tarheels, Joe diPinto and JC66 -- Please, please don't give away answers to other puzzles. I was saving SPLIT DECISIONS for another day. But I found out an important answer I didn't want to know while reading this blog today. I just did SPLIT DECISIONS, a day before I planned to, in fear that even more answers might be given away if I didn't move quickly. I think I would have corrected that M to a T -- but now I'll never be sure. I do know the word, but still, I'll never be 100% sure. Please don't ever give away answers to variety puzzles in the magazine while talking about the main puzzle. Please.

kitshef 10:13 PM  

Zen question: Does it count as a celebrity puzzle if you've never heard of the guest constructor?

Add my thanks to Laura for the excellent work this week.

Puzzle was pretty dull - the norm on Sunday.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima for work when Little Boy was dropped. He was close enough to see the bomb fall, and to be bowled over by the blast and was temporarily blinded and badly burned.

After resting the night in a shelter, he managed to catch a train to his home - in Nagasaki. There, he witnessed the blast from Fat Man. He was less than two miles from the blast center in both cases.

Amazingly, he lived to be 93.

Joe Dipinto 10:48 PM  

@small request -- I am solely to blame for bringing it up, which I did on the heels of the thoughts that maybe Little Boy was an inappropriate clue for the main puzzle. I would not normally comment on the variety puzzles, though I do them all (except, currently, that one where you have to fill in bar lines horizontally or vertically -- that one annoys me just to look at). But none of us can know what day people will choose to do any of the puzzles, including the main puzzle. I think commenting on a puzzle the day it was issued is not unfair.

JC66 10:54 PM  

@small request

Rereading @joe D's post, it seems to me that it was obvious that a spoiler was coming and you had the option to stop reading. Please don't blame us.

Hartley70 11:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hartley70 11:41 PM  

@JC66 Your assumption is correct, but I like that age is irrelevant here. In fact, it may be an advantage. Congrats!

Rony @ catbird 12:20 AM  

Thank you for this.

Joe Dipinto 1:04 AM  

@JC66 10:54 -- Thanks for coming to my defense -- on review I probably should have issued an explicit warning myself when i brought up the subject. Cheers, buddy!

Rina 8:28 AM  

Theme was apt, NY & all. All the talk of Vera Miles reminds me of "There'll Always Be An England". Brits seem to know it by heart, as seen in a London Sex Pistols concert opening from ten years ago.

William 6:06 PM  

Hi ho, Kermit the frog here.

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Pist About Schist 10:25 AM  

Re: Split Decision puzzle

"A small request" was absolutely right in requesting that we do not discuss other puzzles here.

Joe said, "But none of us can know what day people will choose to do any of the puzzles, including the main puzzle. I think commenting on a puzzle the day it was issued is not unfair."

Wrong, Joe. Not everyone does ALL the puzzles before coming here to read about the crossword. I do the crossword first, come here, and save the other puzzles for a rainy day.

Resident Historian 11:46 AM  

The syndicated puzzle appears on the 72nd anniversary of LITTLE BOY - it seems like we should take a moment to reflect on that fact(OID) and pray that there is never a recurrence.

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

This was...okay. About medium for a Sunday, took a little thought but never rendered me FITTOBETIED as some have lately. You're going to have some fill groaners, starting with your RRN'ed RULER JAMESIV, but overall, the opposite of 78-down. Any time you can work in IMHOTEP you're doing all right.

DOD SOPHIA could be old-school Loren as clued, or more in the moment Vergara. Take your pick. Mine is the latter; honorable mention to ELLE McPherson. Not a lot else to say; the Sunday slot is filled. Par.

Burma Shave 12:02 PM  


that she's one of the HAREM that GOESOVERTHELINE.


rondo 12:43 PM  

Went right down the west side with the TAXI answer then down the east then across the south and north, finishing in the middlish area by correcting the w/o at ATreSt to ATEASE, which yeah baby SOPHIA Loren probably played some, A_TEASE?

TAKEUPACOLLECTION for me as I start to rehab my second home. Old carpet starts to come out today; that job will be NOTSOGOOD.

This puz was OK, pretty CUTANDDRIED.

rain forest 1:24 PM  

Pretty good Sunday in my opinion. Medium-ish, I guess, and not a slog. I like the repurposed themers, and the care that went into this. Little dreck/crosswordese, and a bit of humour to boot.


AnonymousPVX 3:27 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. The clues were tough but fair and the theme was not necessary to the solve.

Hard to look at history 70 years down the line and make new decisions. However, I have come to the conclusion that the Japanese would have never surrendured and that an invasion would have been necessary. Such an invasion would have made Okinawa look like a water balloon fight.

Diana,LIW 3:52 PM  

SHOOTFROMTHEtoP was just one of the BOMBs I planted into this puzzle. ie, had PEER where HEAT ended up. Hand up for elk. Some pOWS were rescued. My PARAGON was PeRfect! I think you get my drift(ing).

So one I righted those it went pretty well. Truly enjoyed the theme and double meanings.

Since I'm a TIMID TIMER, this took up most of the morning, along with laundry. And the cats.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and the dryer

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Walatra G Sea Jelly

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J&D from the Great White North 11:12 AM  

Does anyone else think "Holiday scene" (CRÈCHE) should have read "Holiday scène"?

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