Praying figure in Christian art / SUN 10-22-17 / Challenge to prove you're human / Prime setter informally

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Selfies" — clues are all imagined "Facebook status"es one might post to accompany a selfie; the answers are selfie-worthy locations, all of which have "ME" in them:

Theme answers:
  • CHRIST THE REDEEMER (23A: Facebook status: "2016 Summer Olympics and a day trip to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World!")
  • RIVER THAMES (31A: Facebook status: "Across the pond! And front-row seats to the Henley Royal Regatta!")
  • MALL OF AMERICA (51A: Facebook status: "Yes! Retail therapy at the largest shopping spot in the U.S.!")
  • CLUB MED (70A: Facebook status: "Ahhhh ... Sun and surf in Cancún, Mexico! Bring on the unlimited piña coloadas!")
  • LITTLE MERMAID (86A: Facebook status: "Hej from København! This statue turned 100 years old in 2013 but is still a beauty!")
  • TIMES SQUARE (106A: Facebook status: ""10-9-8-7 ... Ringing in the New year with 1,000,000 of my newest, closest friends!")
  • JEFFERSON MEMORIAL (116A: Facebook status: "History abounds! Neo-Classical architecture surrounded by gorgeous cherry blossom trees. Next stop ... the White House!")
  • MADAME TUSSAUD'S (16D: Facebook status: "Vegas, baby! And who would believe I'm standing next to Beyoncé and Katy Perry!")
  • METLIFE STADIUM (50D: Facebook status: "Nosebleed seats—but home-field advantage! GO GIANTS!!!")
Word of the Day: ORANT (104A: Praying figure in Christian art) —
Orans, a loanword from Medieval Latin ōrāns translated as one who is praying or pleading, also orant or orante, is a posture or bodily attitude of prayer, usually standing, with the elbows close to the sides of the body and with the hands outstretched sideways, palms up. It was common in early Christianity and can frequently be seen in early Christian art. In modern times, the orans position is still preserved within parts of the Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran and Catholic liturgies, Pentecostal and charismatic worship, and the ascetical practices of some religious groups. (wikipedia)
• • •

ORANG > ORANT (and I should note that ORANG > very few crossword answers)

I'll give this one some credit for its currency and conceptual clarity. These answers all definitely feature ME at some famous place or landmark, and so the title is apt and the theme is consistent. I don't think the theme is that *interesting* (there must be tons more places, landmarks, etc. with the simple two-letter string "ME" in them) and the clues ... well, they're about as banal as a typical FB post, I'll give them that. They are contrived to include trivia that will allow you to get the answer, which makes sense from a puzzle standpoint, but which sometimes strains the plausibility of the clues as actual FB statuses. This theme is definitely better than average Sunday puzzles of late, and yet still definitely not as splashy and entertaining as a Sunday should be. But I'll take "not knee-bucklingly terrible" at this point, and this puzzle certainly fits the bill.

The "humor" here is pretty minimal. Would've been nice to see some more thought and pizzazz put into the clues. Cluing is particularly important in a puzzle like this, where there's no real wordplay or other engaging gimmick going on—just a bunch of unrelated stuff. I was somewhat confused at the outset, because I thought the various landmarks were the ones taking the selfies, i.e. I thought maybe CHRIST THE REDEEMER had a Facebook page that he was updating. Careful reading of the clue would've made it clear that that wasn't what was going on, but careful reading of the clue also would not have made anything clear at that point, so ... who cares? Got the landmark, moving on. I did get confused when I thought the next imaginary FB poster was MADAME TUSSAUD, but she didn't fit without the apostrophe S. Then I realized these weren't supposed to be from famous people / places, but from some imagined ME that had visited these places. The rest of the puzzle was very easy after that, with only METLIFE STADIUM giving me any trouble. Is that where the *New York* Giants play? Football is garbage and I don't watch (anymore).

AGEWORN feels (aptly?) antiquated (48D: Damaged over time) and ARTWARE is ... hey, what *is* ARTWARE? (29A: Valuable china, e.g.) Hang on... it appears to just be stuff you eat with or on or drink out of that can be collected as art. Huh. Too fancy for me. I had trouble spelling MORTICIA (MORTITIA) (15D: Wife on "The Addams Family") and KAHLIL (KHALIL) (2D: "The Prophet" author Gibran). The hardest answers for me to get was CAPTCHA (70D: Challenge to prove you're human). I thought it was some kind of TEST, like a Turing Test. Without context, that one was really tough to come up with. Also hard: HINT (92D: This answer ends in "T," e.g.). If that clue is a HINT, well, it ain't much of one. Ironically, an actual *clue* would've been much more helpful. In fact, the more that I think of it, a clue *is* a hint, so this whole cluing concept for HINT is ridiculous. Lastly, my favorite ultimatum now is "MORELS! OR ELSE!" (96D + 97D).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve 12:08 AM  

Loved 109D "You may take it to go" EXLAX.

Had no idea what circles meant, didn't need them, pretty easy.

Unknown 12:15 AM  

I'm guessing that @Tracy Gray's Sunday puzzle will inspire all sorts of reminiscences of sites visited during travels around the world ... or even in one's neighborhood [see MOA, which in present context is an acronym for a Minnesota-based shopping center, not some extinct big bird].

As for @Rex's comment about CAPTCHA, nice try on Turing test -- it's actually an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."

Miscellaneous further thoughts, the New York (or is it New Jersey?) Giants play at the Meadowlands, so momentary misdirection until one takes the trouble to count out letters. Also, I wonder if someone might have LEFT A (job) JAR, left over from yesterday's @Donaldson/@Wilber collaborative puzzle.

Johnny 1:14 AM  

Pretty easy.

Robin 1:41 AM  

Themers made more sense when I decided the answers should be read as "ME in LONG_ANSWER". They almost all made sense after that; I'm still unclear on the first one, 23A.

Nice to see TOMLIN, although I expect anyone under 50 had no idea what that was about. Snort.

ESPOSA was good. Not a word I'd know, but something I could figure with some crosses.

A bit too many 3-letter answers to my taste for a Sunday, but I'll give it a B-.

'mericans in Paris 2:04 AM  

This was probably our fastest solve ever, so we had time to go back and complete Saturday's as well. Got the theme at JEFFERSON MEMORIAL and then we were off to the races.

Oh the possibilities. For example: Facebook Status:

"Just finished meeting with Vlad. He's making Russia GREAT AGAIN! On my way back to the Ritz-Carlton by pubic transport!"


I'd like to propose an abbreviation for retirement: ETA. There is hardly a Sunday puz that goes by that doesn't include it. OK, LEI comes close in terms of frequency, but at least that word has more pleasant associations. (Hey @chefwen!) ETA too often at airports turns into "Delay expected".

ALICE (27A: "Tea party girl") is one of my favorite songs by Tom Waits. I can listen to it AGAIN and AGAIN. Nothing to do with OPIATEs or political movements, however.

Write-overs included Moo before MAA (is that the bleating that a DESEXed calf makes?). NEE could be the noise a horse makes if it can't spell. (We know it can count, though.)

Anybody notice that the puzzle ends with REX and debuts with OKS?


Mark 2:09 AM  

I just can't imagine as a theme, familiar place names with "ME" embedded, and not very clever clues for them. And the non themers are full of crosswordese? I liked it less than any of you did.

chefwen 2:13 AM  

Very easy, but enjoyable. I had fun visiting all the places, some of which I am hopeful to see in future travels. After a filling in a few me’s I filled in the rest of the circles which made it a tad easier (which wasn’t really necessary).

I audibly groaned and said “seriously” ? at 109D.

Unknown 2:30 AM  

"Me me me me me!!!" Is an apt description of social media.

jae 2:58 AM  

Yep easy, and pretty much what @Rex said.

Unknown 4:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 4:48 AM  

I’m with Mark. Faster than average for me, but found the theme LAME and the puzzle utterly unenjoyable. Also, the crossing of “cassiterite, e.g.” and “Swahili ‘sir’” was borderline unfair. The “ite” ending made “tin ore” most plausible but how many people actually knew either of those clues/answers cold?

Trombone Tom 4:55 AM  

I liked it better than @Rex and some of you did. Sure, it was on the easy side, but it never felt like a slog.

Primo clues for IAMBS and OVEN TIMER. Or at least that's where I put my plus marks.

Also I enjoyed the international tour of notable places.

109 Across did give me a slight pause!

I give Tracy Gray props for a nicely balanced puzzle to spark up my Sunday.

evil doug 5:04 AM  

Clue coming soon: "Site celebrating author of Declaration of Independence before being razed by Antifa."

Thomaso808 5:13 AM  

We have 109D EXLAX at the SE bottom, crossing 128A REX. Smooth move!

@'mericans in Paris you called out the REX, but did not tie it to EXLAX. Seriously, as much as I sometimes rail against OFL's negativity, I really do appreciate this blog, the time and effort it takes, and how much I've learned from it, but hey, that crossing is a pretty funny coincidence (I think!).

A fun, easy solve for me. Just what I want for Sunday.

Trombone Tom 5:28 AM  

I liked it better than @Rex and some of you did. Sure, it was on the easy side, but it never felt like a slog.

Primo clues for IAMBS and OVEN TIMER. Or at least that's where I put my plus marks.

Also I enjoyed the international tour of notable places.

109 Down did give me a slight pause!

I give Tracy Gray props for a nicely balanced puzzle to spark up my Sunday.

Loren Muse Smith 5:52 AM  

I have really sat here and thought about selfies and pictures and Facebook. Most of this is a disorganized ramble to read only if you’re putting off some icky Sunday chore.

This theme speaks to me because I’m too old for selfies, and they confuse me anyway. My experience with pictures is that most of the females my age run from them, don’t want to be in them. I sure don’t.

So I’m gonna put this out there with the same smug pride that people here have when they announce that they don’t own a tv: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a selfie. With someone else. If I have, I’ve buried the memory. (I was having a good hair day a while back, and my face didn’t look too bloated, so I tried to take one to use as my FB profile but was horrified at the lens angle – you know – the whole middle part of my face was bigger than the forehead and chin. Come to think of it, though, wouldn’t it be better to had a fb profile picture that you don’t have to live up to? One that gets the reaction Oh wow, I was expecting more of a hag. With a more bloated face.)

I’m wondering if mainly the exceptional-looking people have the confidence to take and post selfies? (I explained to the kids once, when asked why WE didn’t do the Christmas card with the white shirts and khakis on the beach, that only the families with good-looking children sent those cards. They stopped what they were doing and looked at me. What, I deadpanned.)

I mean, c’mon. I’m sitting in my sweat pants on the couch eating Ben and Jerry’s The Tonight Dough straight out of the container looking at selfies of the old high school friend on the beach in St. Kitts. Tanned, thin, rich-looking, self-actualized-looking. And I hate her.

I’ve searched everywhere for the passage, but David Sedaris says something about tourists getting their pictures taken in front of stuff merely as evidence that they were there. That’s so true, right? I totally believe that my friend went to DC. I really do. So I want to look at a picture of her in front of the Washington Monument – the Washington Monument that I’ve seen a bajillion times before – about as much as I want to read the cringingly-intimate anniversary message to her husband.

So we share to let people know we’re well-traveled, happily-married, and don’t have a bloated face. Ok. Got it.

Anyhoo… back to the puzzle - I can’t be the only one who went straight to “orang” for the praying figure.

Cool to get ELI crossing METLIFE STADIUM.

I liked the places Tracy picked. I would've added Nome, Alaska. Some day I’ll be there and will definitely get a picture of me standing under the Iditarod sign as proof. I plan to have my arms up in victory, just like a musher who’s crossed the finish line. It’ll be great.

Tracy – I always enjoy your puzzles. This theme made me sit and think a lot about fb and selfies and everything.

(Getting a picture made with PB1 at the ACPT is totally exempt from my disdain; sure, it’s proof that I accosted him, but more importantly, it’s proof that he even exists. He’s about as spot-out-in-the-wild-able as Bigfoot. To preserve his anonymity, I’ve disguised him. I disguised myself, too, because my face was bloated that day.)

Frank Johnsonberg 6:13 AM  

We just had HODAKOTB and now we get RIPA! Wow I get these two confused; actually, I mistake them as being the exact same person. Is that different? It might be. They're both cute as the dickens and probably happy drunks as well, so God bless 'em I say.

There's a lot of sexual overtones in this puzzle for a Sunday morning. I like to have fun with it and see if I can find something bawdy about each and every word in the grid. Try it! See what you can do with TBTEST and AGEWORN, but don't say it out loud if there's kids around! My favorite is OPIATE.

CHRIST! THE REDEEMER! is something you can say when you get to Brazil or on another occasion you could say TIMES? SQUARE! if you were a beatnik. TV, MA? shows that you are a good son or daughter. I asked my mother this when we put her away and she probably appreciated it.

Well I've never heard of ORANT but it's the word of the day! It even has instructions on how to do it which was very interesting. I feel smarter for now knowing that this word exists and also now knowing how to do it in case that situation ever arises. Ciao.!

BarbieBarbie 6:49 AM  

Extra Easy, and findling lamdmarks with ME in them doesn’t make me feel any kind of aha. Especially since after the first one you have two gimme-letters in every remaining themer. So, unenthusiastic here.
@LMS, agree about tourist-spot selfies (though selfie-silhouettes can be interesting).

Dawn 6:57 AM  

Fastest Sunday ever, but can't say I loved the theme. Funny Rex didn't know CAPTCHA since his blog makes me go through one each time to post here.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

We’ve had some interesting Sundays of late, but this was a return to the easy, dull fare we are accustomed to.

SEM is ridiculous. lists 56 things SEM can mean, and that’s not one of them.

LEFT AJAR is whatever green paint is when it’s not adjective-noun.

ACE OUT isn’t quite invented purely for the sake of this puzzle, but it’s not far off.

SERGES … ‘nuff said.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

Overall a pretty easy puzzle, made even easier (and therefore less enjoyable) by the automatic ME's in the shaded squares. I don't mind a puzzle with a little less fight, but does it have to roll over and die?

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Gotta love a puzzle featuring my favorite word, though I was a bit triggered at the Rex/Exlax cross.

Mike Sharp

BarbieBarbie 7:46 AM  

Anon @7:35, now that’s funny. Biggest smile of the day. Thanks.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Crossword blogs and their comments also seem to be all about ME (ahem, LMS and unthinking Dougie).

chefbea 7:57 AM  

Was an easy sunday puzzle which I finished last night....I usually have to finish on Sunday morning. No aha moment. Having ME in the circles helped....Love the exlax clue!!!

clk 8:05 AM  

We need a like button, because I agree with everything you said. No sparkle to this puzzle.

Harket 8:06 AM  

A much better version of the song:

AHA Take On Me acoustic

Glimmerglass 8:55 AM  

@barbiebarbie: I agree that all the circled (shaded in my print-out) MEs made the puzzle too easy. A better solution would have been to leave them unmarked and had a revealer (“IT’S ME, or ME ME ME) with a clever selfie-related Facebook clue. Re Exlax, I won’t tell the story about the young groom whose groomsmen fed him Feen-A-Mint chewing gum to “calm his nerves.”

GeezerJackYale48 9:02 AM  

So true.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Re Morticia: think mortician.

GeezerJackYale48 9:19 AM  

Am I the only one who got “reverb” (123A) through crosses and has no idea what it means?

Lewis 9:19 AM  

@rex -- that was one well balanced, well articulated review. More like that, please!

This was definitely on the easy side of Sunday for me, hardly a fight anywhere. But I loved the spirit behind it and the clean grid, as well as the original idea for the theme. Congratulations on your fifth Sunday in the NYT, Tracy. Once, the fifth Sunday of Lent was called Passion Sunday (so I've just read in Wikipedia), and passion is a hallmark of your puzzles, which I always look forward to.

Nancy 9:28 AM  

What a NOVEL idea: A tribute puzzle to egotism and obnoxiousness. And I found the clues just as obnoxious as I was meant to, right? It made me really, really glad I'm not on Facebook. (Although satire always exaggerates, so maybe Facebook entries aren't this bad. Please tell me they're not!)

Last week it was IAMBI and this week it's IAMBS. You really do need to make a decision, Will, one way or the other.

56D really puzzled me. Is Mark Twain quoted more LOOSELY than anyone else? Why would that be?

Good satire amuses. This satire merely depressed me. Because if the entire country has become this solipsistic, I'd rather not know about it, thank you very much.

ghthree 9:38 AM  

I had a problem with the clue for 19Down. Finally got it from the crosses. But what does "You might to take it to gc" mean?

My wife and I print out our puzzles and work them on paper over breakfast. After solving, I looked at her copy. "gc" became "go" Now it makes sense. A few missing pixels on my printer!

I have plenty of experience with CAPTCHA, but I thought it was just a variation of CAPTURE. I had no idea it was an acronym. Thanks, George (or did you just make this up?) No, I just Googled it, and it's real. Learn something new every day! Now I'll post this, but I'll have to pass the CAPTCHA test first. The version in Rex's blog is super easy. All I have to do is checkk the box!

Two Ponies 9:48 AM  

Great example of a pleasant Sunday. Since it is possible that the Sunday grid is the only one some people solve I try to keep that in mind as I solve.

@ nate 4:48, I knew them both as most regulars here probably did.

@ Trombone Tom, Agree that oven timer was good but I don't get iambs.
That's one clue I circled before coming here.

@ LMS, You sound positively morose today. You are dead right about
selfies. I have always had cameras with timers so I've been taking
self portraits for years but without the cutesy nickname.

Lastly, Don from Accounting strikes again!

Hartley70 9:58 AM  

This was or was not a selfie avatar taken yesterday, but it was much too close for comfort, I'm telling you!

I don't take selfies, unless it's to decide on a new hairdo (xo to N) but I enjoyed the travelogue. I paid no attention to the circles because for the umpteenth time I can't see them on my phone without squinting and that's generally a good thing. ME ME ME hates the circles.

It was fast. Yay! Last week had a lot more short fill it seemed. Yay! ME liked ITT.

C zar 10:15 AM  

As a sports car driving Minnesotan, MIATA and MALL OF AMERICA were a cinch!

GHarris 10:16 AM  

I had sari crossing captcha so I got captsha (which I absolutely never heard of) and think it’s bs. My only mistake in an otherwise relatively easy and enjoyable romp.

QuasiMojo 10:20 AM  

@Nancy, first thank you, and re Facebook, you ain't missing much. I used to be on there a lot a while back since it helped me reconnect with long-lost friends. Then I discovered why they were long-lost. Now they are again.

Way too easy Sunday. The gray ME blocks made it all too simple to fill out and the concept, well, let's just say it wasn't MEmorable.

As a child of the ME Decade, I thought I knew what narcissism is, but I can assure you that this new generation is almost pathological in its self-obsession. They have nothing but stars in their eyes, themselves in their smartphone camera lenses. I see people taking selfies at the most absurdly banal places. It's as if their presence there wasn't real until they snapped a photo of as proof. This goes beyond trying to document their lives, it has become their life.

Unknown 10:22 AM  

nice very slow pitch to hit today; the overall pace matched the theme (quick and simple). i could have done without ORANT, ACEOUT and MAA. if i hadn't been familiar with BWANA, i don't know that i would have gotten TINORE. it felt like the SE corner got a little wild but maybe that's just because i was shutting it down by that point. as always, thanks for this blog and your thoughts.

Tita 10:39 AM  

Being able to drop in the MEs made this easy, though there were plenty of clues/fill that were pretty tricky.
I would have liked another layer that tied the themers together, but overall I had fun trotting the globe taking selfies.

In real life? Never, like @lms. In fact, I rarely take pictures with people in them at all. I have petabytes of photos on my phone, in the cloud, and scattered on various old laptops. I would guess that less than 4% of them have people.
When I'm with folks, I have to remind myself to take a group shot.

Close ups of every single flower blooming in my garden or anywhere else? Close ups of every weird bug I've ever seen? Close ups of bugs on flowers? Oh. And cats/dogs.
And don't get me started on sunsets.

Thanks, Tracy, for a fun world tour.

Tom 10:58 AM  

Mildly entertaining. Wanted ATandPark for 50d, being a loyal SF fan (despite their season). Hardest part was Southwest. Never heard of QDOBA, knew ESPOSA, but had MaS instead of MRS, and despite being in a band once, couldn’t see REVERB until I walked away for a while and came back to it. Better than usual Sunday.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

@Nancy, YOU are "a tribute to egotism and obnoxiousness." Give it a rest already with your old lady "you kids get off my lawn" bullshit. We're sick of it. Quasimojo is just as bad.

KevCo 11:09 AM  

"Ace out"? Are you serious?

Trombone Tom 11:27 AM  

@Two Ponies, I think you have to sound out the clue words to get the metric stress. That's why I liked it ... it wasn't obvious.

Nancy 11:35 AM  

As I told you the other day, you anonymous gutless wonder -- and most normal people would be ashamed to be such a coward -- go peel a hard-boiled egg.

@Hartley -- Your new avatar is just ADORBS. So furry. So fuzzy. Awwww.

Carola 11:37 AM  

As for ME, I was happy to see Tracy Gray's name at the top, as I find that her early week puzzles have unusual WIT and spark. This one - witty idea, but short on spark: once you get the idea, it's just a matter of writing in locations. I missed the little jolts of surpise and delight the best themed puzzles bring.

Two Ponies 11:37 AM  

@ QuasiM, As usual, I agree with you, esp. about Facebook. I also quickly realized why I never talked to those people anymore. Your description of the current self obsession is how it appears to me as well. What sort of adults will all of this mental illness create? Perhaps not adults at all. A world of Peter Pans more likely.

@ Anon 11:04, Voice your opinion all you want but please don't assume you speak for everyone by saying "WE are...".

Oldflappyfrommississappy 11:46 AM  

Eight I’s and me’s in @Nancy’s post. Perfect, doll face.

Joseph Michael 12:02 PM  

Figured out the ME theme in the first 30 seconds of looking at this puzzle and then immediately filled in the nine sets of shaded squares for the beginning of a much too easy solve. Have to agree with REXLAX that the puzzle is serviceable but lacks sparkle.

Being reminded of Facebook statuses, selfies, and the ME generation made the theme more annoying than cute. Who took the first selfie anyway and how can we crop him or her out of all photographs in existence? And why would you go to MADAME TUSSAUDS to take a picture of your freaking self?

This ego tour should have included a stop at MEMEL CASTLE in Lithuania. Two MEs for the price of one. And it might have been nice to include a MEMENTO from at least one of these destinations.

Liked the clues for CAPTCHA and BANDS. Don't understand how ICE IT rather than ACE IT fits the clue for 24D, or why Twain versus other writers is LOOSELY quoted, or why the clue for 72A doesn't include a plural "crafts" to match the plural UBOATS.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Sheesh. So much hate for a crossword puzzle blog.

Richard 12:09 PM  

Christ the Redeemer is the statue overlooking the city of Rio di Janeiro, site of the 2016 summer Olympics.

Stanley Hudson 12:09 PM  

This was ok but not sparkling for a Sunday. Even the Bloody Marys didn’t help . . . much.

Why the cheap shots at Nancy? I can only surmise that a few snowflakes can’t abide a woman who expresses strong opinions. If you don’t like her comments, then don’t read them.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Hands up also for wondering why all the ad hominem attacks against poor @Nancy.

However, could people please come up with a fresher term than "snowflakes"? It's getting rather tedious.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

I kept trying and failing to get some sort of connect-the-dots image out of the "me" placements, since there were so few in the bottom half. Realize now that the answers containing "me" have crossword symmetry but the "me" placements don't, giving an odd look. On the dead-tree version they are shaded.

Tarheeled 12:40 PM  

Waltzed through it in excellent time until captcha/cami/ripa. Huh? Never heard of Qdoba, but got it with crosses. Only fun part for me is that I and my wife have visited most of these places. A little memory lane. I have one selfie. That's it.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

First puzzle in over a week and I can't decide if I liked it. OK...maybe I did.
My daughter-in-law got me on Facebook and I have loads of fun with it. Met up with friends I haven't heard from in years. I post pictures of my made-up food menus and places I go and friends i see and cute animals. It's fun - try it.
I've been to all of Tracy's SELFIES except the MET LIFE STADIUM. CHRIST THE REDEEMER is breath taking. Rio use to be as well. Now, it's riddled with so much crime and poverty. Even the Copacabana needs a facelift and the feijoada lacks its oomph.
I'm still in Albuquerque and don't have much time to post but I do want to add: @Nancy, you're being too kind to @Anon 11:04. You should have told him to stuff the hard boiled egg up his arse. He probably does anyway when no one is looking.
Did I miss some eggs? GILL I in anony mode.

F. 12:59 PM  

I knew Lily Tomlin and I'm 26. We do have parents.

Fred Romagnolo 1:03 PM  

@Joseph Michael 12:02pm: "craft" can also be a plural. I think that Stanley Hudson 12:09 pm is pretty much on the mark about the Nancy haters. Nancy herself is pretty much there with her comments about anonymous trolls. I've never anonymoused, and it's earned me some critiques, but sticks and stones ... when you're 86 who cares. My downfall today was RIPA and CAMI, and I sorta knew CAPTCHA, but couldn't remember it. Otherwise pretty easy and I didn't even notice the shaded ME's. FWIW the LITTLE MERMAID has been under constant attacks by vandals over the years, and has had to have countless parts replaced.

Frank Johnsonberg 1:05 PM  

It took an extra glass of wine this morning but now I understand the confusion between Hoda and RIPA. If you remember, Regis and Kathy Lee were once a couple, but then they broke up and each got a gal with an interesting name! There's your answer! Kathy Lee got Hoda and Regis got RIPA! Speaking of ME, I'll bet Regis looks at himself in the mirror a lot, but that's only so he can practice being nice to everyone. I wonder what Frank Gifford thought about all of this? I'll bet he got Hoda too, and then RIPA just for good measure! Oh that Frank! His brain was knocked completely out of his skull by Chuck Bednarik so that explains his behavior. Waiter, more wine! Uno mas, por favor!

Masked and Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Real real eazy-E SunPuz, which I'm all good with. No sense spendin too much time rehashin one theME, over and over again. Sooo … count M&E in. Also, primo smooth fillins. Thanx, Tracy Gray darlin.

Selfie cited sights that M&E has actually been to in person:
* LITTLEMERMAID. Part of our epic trek across Denmark, as I recall.
* TIMESSQUARE. Definite yep. Been there on 2 separate trips.
* JEFFERSONMEMORIAL. Not sure about this puppy. Have toured DC twice, but can't quite remember all the stops.
That scores M&E a 2.5 out of 9 theMErs. Not exactly well-traveled, M&A Breath.
Also: I've never done a selfie. My fave selfie pic on the web … the one with the gal inside the shark's maw. U 2 can probably get to see it, if U go google "shark selfie pic".

Full disclosure: I did once accidentally take a pic of my zipper & pants leg with my iPad camera device, while on vacation in Wisconsin. Did that count?

Only solvequest trouble spot: NE ARTWARE/ADORBS/CRESS/IAMBS bermuda tangle. Had ARTWORK and CHARD, for quite a spell. Major sound of nanoseconds bein sucked down a giant drain.

Luved the EXLAX clue. Hey … Passes the after-big-breakfast test.

staff weeject pick: MAA. That sorta has m&e hidden in it, in a stretch.

fave display of constructioneerin craft: UBOATS.

Masked And Anonymo9Us

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Almost forgot to mention … Admired the irony of my printed puz version, which sported nine Gray areas.
Get it?!? Want it?

Betcha I'm probably at least the 20th commentarian to notice that, tho…


Joe Dipinto 1:56 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, it was kicky (which might be an answer in another puzzle -- will find out when I check the key later). The theme was fun and well-executed, the themer clues served to amuse, and, well, I can't say anything bad about it.

Is Rex getting dumber or what? He thought the landmarks were taking the selfies? (Shakes head in disbelief.)

Anyway, here's Donald Byrd's "Cristo Redentor":

JC66 1:57 PM  

@ Frank Johnsonberg

Frank Gifford died in 2015.

Have one on ME.

Mr. Benson 2:14 PM  

I was trying to figure if there was something about the clues in relation to the placement of "ME" in the themers. For example, in the clue for 50D, there's a reference to "nosebleed seats," meaning seats that are high up, and "ME" is right at the top of the answer. There are a couple of other theme clues that refer to some kind of position or proximity ("front-row seats," "surrounded by," "standing next to," etc.), but I couldn't find any kind of pattern in there.

Frank Johnsonberg 2:19 PM  

@JC66 No, Frank Gifford died November 20, 1960. It's true! Thanks for the booze I owe you one!

Frayed Knot 2:20 PM  

Aside from the fact that I never heard of CAPTCHA or CAMI -- two words which just happened to cross (I wound up guessing C there because CAMI sounded familiar) -- and also TIMORE, there wasn't anything in this puzzle that I found even remotely challenging, and I'm the furthest thing from an expert solver. For the most part, one word just got filled in after another especially on account of the themes all being gimmes once 2 or 3 letters appeared.

It wasn't a Bad puzzle, but instead of 'Thursday-Plus' description which Shortz has used to classify Sundays as, this seemed more like a Sunday-sized Monday puzzle.

Frayed Knot 2:22 PM  

TINORE, not TIMORE ... @#%& auto-correct!!
Also never heard of QDOBA but it couldn't be anything else.

JC66 2:42 PM  

@ Frank Johnsonberg

I was at the game. The silence was deafening.

Unknown 3:06 PM  

Today’s puzzle was a yawner.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

What the hell's a "TVMA"?! And what the hell's a "CAMI"!?

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:17 PM  

It's amazing that people have not heard of Captcha. Like, it more often than not appears on this very comment page. Like, the thing that you click to "prove you're not a robot" has the word CAPTCHA on it. Wow.

ocanada73 3:28 PM  

Really? Just after I solved it, and before I checked here, I said to my husband, “He’s going to hate this - and I do too.” Why? Because once you fill in any of the ‘me’ spaces, you can instantly fill in all the others, and then go from there. Booooring. No challenge at all. Just chugga chugga, back and forth, until the last square was filled in. And I am a rank amateur, unworthy to even comment here, I’ve always felt. But I just had to this time!

Hungry Mother 3:33 PM  

Very fast timewise, but it played hard for me in places. The theme was easy and helpful. More hate than my twitter feed, where I suggest some might be more relevant. Just want crossword insights here.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Rex, captcha is used on this blog, but the clue in the puzzle is wrong. Captcha doesn't prove you are human-- it proves that you have current software that supports captcha. Captcha actually blocks people with older software from participating in this and other blogs. I've never taken a selfie and I know nothing about Facebook. So I was totally at sea with this one. Finished it anyway, so the theme is irrelevant.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

@Frank Johnsonberg and @JC66,
And 55 years later, Gifford died only a few months after Bednarik.

Mohair Sam 4:09 PM  

@Nancy - We hate it when anonymice call you names, you've got our full support. Hang in there Shorty.

B 4:47 PM  

An easy puzzle, which made me feel, at least temporarily, like a genius. (Meanwhile still staring at my still unfinished Thursday puzzle...) That EXLAX was funny and not as offensive as last week’s feminine hygiene product (PAD), to which my sister and I both said “Ew!” I thought I would share this TED talk which might interest some of you interested in the CAPTCHA technology.

Frayed Knot 6:02 PM  

What the hell's a "TVMA"?!

-- it's a TeleVision show for Mature Audiences
Just like ratings for movies, it appears at the beginning of many shows that, as they say, may contain material inappropriate for younger viewers

I am just now noticing the CAPTCHA logo in this comment box. Certainly not something I would have noticed otherwise and wouldn't have known what it meant even if I had seen it previously.

Crocodillo 6:16 PM  

Just because Nancy doesn't know anything and is afraid of everything is no reason to pick on her. This might be the only place she has friends. I mean really, can you imagine being her hair stylist? Give the kid a break.

hankster65 7:02 PM  

ADORBS??? Seriously? DNF due to that gunk. Otherwise enjoyable.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

Hi everybody,
Long-time lurker first-time poster.
If you'd like insight into why so many people revile Rex, check out his twitter feed. He bestows love on those he deems worthy.

If anyone takes a step back they might recognize the classic complaint against Republicans...( eg., worthy poor and food stamps etc)
My point is Rex is an elitist. And like all elitists, thinks his judgment is superior to all others. More important, he thinks peoplet need to earn love. The poor soul I his tweet that doesn't merit his regard hasm'the tried enough.
My goodness, if that doesn'the sink the secularlist ship nothing will.

some Reason worthy..of love,respect,

Nancy 7:19 PM  

There is so much gallantry on this blog, it makes me cry. Yesterday it was the wonderful and chivalrous @Quasi and today it is the wonderful and chivalrous @Mohair. Thank you, Mohair! I love you guys -- along with so many other wonderful and supportive people on this blog.

Trolls never win when warm, kind, smart, funny people band together and create a real community. In fact, trolls only serve to make the bonds of the community stronger. That's the irony -- they create the exact opposite of the effect they're hoping to have. They want to isolate and humiliate their targets and instead their targets are warmly embraced. I have often been the beneficiary of the kindness and moral courage of this community and I have always felt exceedingly lucky to be a part of it.

Aketi 7:51 PM  

@M&A I started the day with a primo cinnamon roll. No selfie of ME, just a picture if it for U. I've only been to three of the nine ME locations. TIMES SQUARE is only 24 blocks away from the primo cinnamon roll diner.

The weather was so spectacular that I managed to get mi ESPOSo to walk the High Line in NYC where the trees were just getting the first HINT of color change. Even though there were a zillion tourists taking selfies, it was hard to feel too annoyed on such a gorgeous day.

@Nancy, you always do quite fine fending off the absurd anonymice, but I do have to agree with Gill I about the placement of the egg.

Z 8:40 PM  

Selfies are hardly a new thing, so I found myself more than a little bemused by the “kids these days” comments. Sure, most selfies don’t rise to the level of Van Gogh or Dürer but then neither do all my pictures of my pets or my kids, nor will my landscape shots ever replace Turner in any museum anywhere. They bring me pleasure and that is enough. So if people want to take selfies and share them on Facebook more power to them. At least they’re not inviting us all over for a slide show of their vacation pictures.

@Evil Doug - TJ is a lot more problematic an historical figure than we were taught in HS, what with his tendency to spend more than he had and the whole fathering children with his late wife’s half-sister/slave thing, but you know what he didn’t do? Openly rebel against the United States by taking up arms in order to preserve slavery. Let’s have as many confederate monuments in the US as Great Britain has monuments to TJ and GW and Mr. Hancock.

@Nancy - Never let the bastard get you down. Anyone who needs to make themselves feel better by insulting others isn’t even really worth wasting a good fremdschämen moment on (not that it stops me). Besides, they led me to learn a great new word/concept so they have served a purpose.

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

That's it everybody. Blog's closed,@Z Has spoken. LOL.
Goodnight you choad. Hope the discs flew your way, and a Democrat won something, somewhere.

Nancy 9:05 PM  

I'm so sorry, @Stanley Hudson and @GILL (in anon mode). I got home late, hadn't had lunch and was hungry, scanned the blog a bit too quickly, I fear, and entirely missed your generous and much appreciated comments. Again -- I'm very grateful for the support that so many people have given. My apologies for not thanking you both in my previous post.

puzzlehoarder 9:27 PM  

I've been looking right past that CAPTCHA logo every time I've come to this blog without knowing it. Some of the best entries are the ones which hide in plain sight.

My entry is late because I was at the firehouse last night and I can't do the Sunday on my phone. Santa will have to bring me a new tablet. Here at home I'm too busy rebuilding our back porch.

Do the women of "Duck Dynasty" wear CAMO CAMIs?

@lms I don't know what all the "bloated face" talk is about. I've seen your photo at xwordinfo and it's better than most.

@Nancy I think you attract trolls because your comments read as if you are talking to someone in person and most of these trolls have probably never had a conversation in their lives.

Hydrokitty 9:28 PM  

Adorbs???? Really??? I have 17 year old granddaughter never heard that word Also laughed out loud with exlax clue..but theme was pretty easy.

Teedmn 9:55 PM  

I’m finally within WiFi reach so I’m late commenting today.

@M&A from yesterday, I was just thinking about the movie “Phantasm” the other day, wondering if it had been included in one of your schlockfests. The sequels were pretty bad but the original was a wonderful horror cult classic. Those little brown critters in the cemetery and the yellow blood were just two of the ‘highlights’!

@Tita, I’m the same with my photos - rarely does a two-legged creature appear in them. It's sunrises for me, plus flowers (my avatar for example), trying to get the spider and its shadow on the garage floor, etc. Selfies, nope, though I’ve been in other people's. No social media for me beyond this blog.

@Gill I, good to know you're around, I’ve missed your posts.

Some years ago, my husband and I were canoeing with his brother and nephew next to us. We gently bumped the bank of the creek we were paddling through and as a joke, husband pantomimed being thrown forward in the canoe from the impact. I was unaware of his hijinks, being in the front of the canoe with my back to all of this. Unfortunately, when he pretended to fall forward, he hit the canoe on the side and capsized us. Suddenly we were both in the water along with all of our gear. We were in shallow water so we both stood up after the shock of being wet. My husband rose out of the water yelling, “We dumped 'er”! I icily responded, “What’s this “we” bull@$*# ?” So thank you @Two Ponies, for stating the exact same reaction I had to Anon 11:43’s snipe at @Nancy.

And thanks, Tracy Gray, for the puzzle. The title, theme and clues all mesh so nicely. Yes, it was easy but fun. Jefferson Memorial, MOA (as per @George Barany) and Times Square are the only ones I’ve experienced.

Girish 10:02 PM  

said the innocent bystander

Wick 10:12 PM  

I can name a bunch of 16 to 21 letter place that have ME in them too. They're just about as dumb and uninteresting as these. How does this amount to even an excuse for a theme??

Andrew Heinegg 11:25 PM  

On the one hand, I can't really criticize you for responding to baseless personal attacks. On the other hand, please allow me to remind you that anonymice critics are desperate for a reaction to their baseless and vicious personal attacks. If you ignore them, they will have no reason to respond as that is what cyberbullies are looking for- reactions.

In any event, keep on keeping on. Most everyone looks forward to your input. I know I do.

Andrew Heinegg 11:28 PM  

You should change your online name to crocashi_. It would be far more appropriate.

Hartley70 12:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hartley70 12:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
kodak jenkins 8:59 AM  

Easy yes but interesting theme and some cool stuff in there.

I was hoping Voight-Kampff might somehow be involved with 70D "Challenge to prove you're human" but no, not this time. CAPTCHA is new to me but hiding in plain sight in this comment board. Weird!

I think HINT has an awesome, cleer and entirely appropriate clue.

Airymom 9:43 AM  

You crack me up! I too am so tired of “so lucky to have you as my best friend and life partner, here’s to 25 more wonderful years” stuff. I always thought it was simply jealousy, because I’m widowed, but nope....I wish some woman would simply post..”if not for the kids, I’d be long gone you jerk”. ��

duaneu 10:23 AM  

This was very timely. Was working the puzzle while watching the Seahawks beat ELI Manning and the Giants at METLIFE STADIUM.

Unknown 3:33 PM  

24 D should've been INKIT. Not ICEIT. Zest vs zeal was good play on 82A

Ray Yuen 12:02 PM  

"Football is garbage?"

This statement alone proves that you're out to criticise for hate's sake. So you don't watch, who cares? It's a good clue/answer that's relevant and current.

Baseball is the real garbage and it's very tiresome to hear you boast about the pseudo-sport.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

Me: Hmm, wonder what the shaded squares are for?

Wife: They're all in blocks of two, right? ME!

Yeah, it took 15 seconds. We then answered all but one of the themers right there over the dinner table in 90 seconds flat. Never in my long-legged life have I (we) ever figured out the theme and put in all (but one of) the theme answers before even looking at 1-Across.

Unknown 10:45 PM  

What is MAA and IAMBS?

Unknown 4:41 PM  

'mericans, I have enjoyed your posts and missed you while you were gone. But now that you have mentioned my man Tom, I know we are kindred spirits.

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spacecraft 10:47 AM  

Wow, QDOBA is really right? What an absurd letter string! Talk about 100% FORCED in by crosses! I still thought I'd gone wrong somewhere, but didn't know what to change. Okay, if you say so.

Without a whole lot of time left, I SPY an old favorite, Lily TOMLIN for DOD. Mayhap not the sweetest eye candy, but I always liked her humor. "One OVENTIMER...two..."

Some weird stuff {note mainly the above), but fairly solid. Good ME theme. For a relatively junk-free Sunday: birdie.

Burma Shave 10:51 AM  




rondo 11:23 AM  

Minnesotans know that the MALLOFAMERICA was built on the site of the former MET not(METLIFE)STADIUM. And of course I've been to both incarnations, as well as TIMESSQUARE, the RIVERTHAMES, and MADAMETUSSAUD'S in Vegas (many photos taken there with "celebs", big fun!); have not been to *the* JEFFERSONMEMORIAL (yet), but to Monticello.

How can any above poster not know CAPTCHA if they post here?

Candidates abound with Ms. TOMLIN, Ms. WRAY, and annoying Ms. RIPA, but NEVE Campbell screams yeah baby. SHE'S one. As well as any double-0 Bond girl, SPY or not. Rafi NADAL is there for the ladies.

REX did not ASSESS this puz badly, nor do I.

BS2 12:00 PM  


than ITT ISTO CAPTCHA him under the PODIUM
and deep THROAT WILLIE Clinton.


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Diana, LIW 3:32 PM  

Is this the party to whom I am speaking? Or my fav, "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the phone company."

We live in the age of ME, ME, ME, so this is aptly timed. All those MEs made an easy puzzle easier. Had ME at JEFFERSON.

What's your least favorite CAPTCHA photos? The store fronts? Bridges? Those teeny photos are hard to see.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:50 PM  

Sure this puzzle was easy, but who cares? I don't understand when commenters whine that there wasn't enough challenge, especially on a Monday. I find enough challenge throughout the week, so an easy Sunday is a bit of a blessing, big as it is.

Actually, this is a very competent and clean grid, and Tracy Gray puts in the effort to make it that way. It is appreciated.

QDOBA?? Restaurant chain? I dunno. Anyway, I enjoyed the time spent even though I don't get the selfie thing. I was in France for 4 months two years ago, and not one selfie. Proud, ME.

AnonymousPVX 3:51 PM  

It’s not football, it’s CTE Ball.

How much CTE in Baseball?

Letting someone you love play CTE Ball, now that’s garbage.

Otherwise....QDOBA was new, thank you crosses.

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wcutler 1:29 PM  

@kitshef, SEM was an abbr., for SEMinary.

@Tita A and @Teedmn, invite me when you go out photographing stuff. I promise I would never think to include you in my photos of flowers, trees, buildings, landscapes, sunsets.

@Z, I never thought of Facebook postings as saving us from "social" evenings watching slide shows of vacation pictures. I have a new appreciation of the medium now.

I found this Monday-easy, except for the middle east coast, and having ZEst for ZEAL was problematical, but the kind of problem that is fun in a puzzle.

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Phillip Blackerby 10:21 PM  

Don't you ever watch "Grace and Frankie?" Great show with Lily Tomlin!

Phillip Blackerby 10:27 PM  

Obviously you never watched the old Tarzan movies. Our whole family watched one every Monday evening in the mid-1960s.

Unknown 5:27 PM  

Surprised so many of this week's commentators never heard of Qdoba. Guess it must be regional not national. Very popular here in Charlotte NC, though I'm mystified why. Exorbitantly expensive, tasteless, and you walk away hungry. My clique at church (who love it) goes there frequently for lunch and I always pass -- I'd rather go hungry!

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