Spinny pool shot / SUN 11-12-17 / Alter ego on SImpsons / Buccaneer's quaff / Flower colored by Aphrodite's blood / Fast-paced two-player card game / Alleged psychic exposed by Amazing Randi / Fictional creature made from heat slime / Philbin's onetime morning cohost

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: ""S-Q's Me!"" — phrases that start "W" are changed to wacky phrases starting "SQ" dear lord take me now...

Theme answers:
  • SQUANDERLUST (23A: Prodigality?)
  • SQUEALER DEALER (33A: Hog seller?)
  • SQUINTER'S TALE (57A: Mr. Magoo biopic?)
  • SQUIRRELY BIRD (80A: Cuckoo or dodo?)
  • SQUARES THE BEEF (102A: Prepares cube steak?)
  • SQUAWKATHONS (114A: All-day gripe sessions?)
  • SQUIRM HOLES (32D: Ways out of embarrassing situations?)
  • SQUISH LISTS (49D: Enumerations of things to be sat on?) 
Word of the Day: EDILE (58D: Early title for Julius Caesar) —
a magistrate in ancient Rome in charge of public buildings, streets, services, markets, games, and the distribution of grain. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

How are Sundays still allowed to be this sickening combo of moth- and cornball? It's "*The* Winter's Tale," by the way, jeez louise, everything about this is wince-inducing. GISINQFEU, you guys, GISINQFEU! That is what I say to this puzzle. The answers were so ridiculous that even though the theme was transparent, I still had no idea what most of the themers were until I had 75+% of the answer in place. The themer clues are torturous. I had to think about the clue on SQUISH LISTS forever before I (sort of) "got" it (49D: Enumerations of things to be sat on?). Me: "You sit on ... a squish?" I guess they are lists of things that you want to squish ... by sitting on them? It's all so, so bad. Theme had me in such a bad mood that I couldn't even enjoy a wicked clue like 43A: Trouble maker (HASBRO). Took me forever, and when I got it, though I knew it deserved applause, I just gave it the finger for making me have to linger in this putridly-themed puzzle any longer than I had to.

Answers that I labored over:
  • 54A: A part of Life? (OAT) — was thinking only board game. Devastating.
  • 76D: Vacuum tube component? (DYNODE) — I ... don't know what that is. I kept thinking DYSON...
  • 93A: Resembling down (FLOSSY) — I ... also don't know what this is. I know this word as slang for "high-class"
  • 12D: Gilbert who wrote "Love and Death on Long Island" (ADAIR) — I ... ??? If the ADAIR's not Red, I don't know it.
There's not much more to say about this. Sunday is currently my most hated day of the week (objectively), and today didn't change anything.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


MikeM 12:07 AM  

Thought it was kind of easy, surprised at Rex's rating. SQUIRRELYBIRD.?? Awkward.

Graham 12:09 AM  

61D LEM is wrong — Apollo 11 didn’t have a LEM, Eagle was the LM, only pronouced lem but not spelled that way. And only dedicated Wikipedia rabbit holing after I’d been stumped on it for five minutes revealed that fact. (My cross was SQUINTERSTATE, which of course makes no sense, but makes no less no sense than LEM.)

SubudNY 12:20 AM  

It was LEM ( lunar excursion module) at the beginning of the program. Later on it was changed to LM (lunar module).

Passing Shot 12:23 AM  

What in the AF is "FLOSSY"??? Otherwise, enjoyable and I learned some new words -- MASSE, EDILE, TAPIR.

Mr. Fitch 12:27 AM  

I found this easy. Easy, but not fun.

tbd88 12:33 AM  

It wasn't a total walk in the park, but I definitely got one of my better Sunday times on this puzzle. I knew that Rex would despise it, but even though I agree that it's total cheese, it was still rather fun for me.

TomAz 12:39 AM  

I also found it on the easy side of average. Once I figured the theme -- which didn't take long, it's in the title -- I could just drop in SQU in obvious places around the puzzle. That cut a few minutes off my time I think.

I don't have a problem, conceptually, with swap-out-the-sound puzzles. They can make me chuckle at the cluing sometimes and I count that as a plus. Today, not so much. SQUIRRELYBIRD and SQUAWKATHONS were kinda dumb (I don't think of 'squawk' in the sense of complaining, though I see now the internet says it is valid). I did like SQUINTERSTALE a lot, though, and SQUARESTHEBEEF is pretty good too.


- Not sure why we needed the indefinite article in AMUST (other than to make the puzzle work). The definite article in THESKY seems a bit iffy too. though I guess since it references a title it passes.

- I almost got Naticked at REYS/SCOTTO. Didn't know either name, but got it because S seemed much more likely than a vowel.

- I only know URIGELLER from crosswords. He sure shows up a lot.

All in all, this was OK, not a disaster, but not great.

Graham 12:59 AM  

@Hillyman, it was LM by the time 11 launched — the clue, therefore, is wrong.

Joe Dipinto 1:11 AM  

Yeah, well -- it might've been more interesting if the SQU didn't come at the very beginning of each theme answer. It was just too easy to plop them in and figure out the rest. A point or two for the inclusion of Renata SCOTTO, but that's about the only positive I can offer.

Gerrythek 1:14 AM  

FLOSSY makes no sense.

chefwen 1:37 AM  

Said to puzzle partner “Rex is going to hate this one”. I’m sorry to say that I have to agree with him. Got it with the title and SQUANDERLUST, that one made me smile as did SQUARES THE BEEF. That was the end of the smiles.

Really wanted Harley Davidson for 33A, but no SQ in that answer, so pfft on that.

Resembling down I would think of FLUFFY before FLOSSY, that just reminds me of dental floss, nothing down like with that.

I’m hopeful that the upcoming week of puzzles will be as much fun as last weeks were.

Johnny 1:48 AM  

I had a DNF because of SCOTT_ and APS_S. I thought they were "apsas" and didn't know the soprano so I never could find my error.

Anonymous 4:33 AM  

My first entry in this puzzle was SCOTTO because Tebaldi was too long, but she was so much better. We used to call SCOTTO "Screech". I'll never forget how she murdered Don Carlo.

Chuckle at SQUARESTHE BEEF, the rest not so much.

Katapult 5:34 AM  

Hi all, I'm back for a second time, and thanks to those who said they appreciated my post yesterday. It's nice to feel welcome. I'm a bit droopy this morning, as one of our cats alerted us at intervals during the night that she'd located one of her favorite soft bouncy balls on the floor, and needed us to accept her gift. Or play; I'm still learning feline. At any rate: loud yowling, followed by the proud deposit of a drool-covered cat toy followed by an expectant crouching and switching tail. At four a.m. (She's OONA, by the way--a regular puzzle entry, and an elegant Irish name unjustly maligned recently by Rex.)

So maybe my bleariness is to blame when I say I wasn't as amused by today's puzzle as I might have been. I have a soft spot for cornball puns, and liked being able to plunk down "SQU" early on, then trying to suss out the rest. Parts of the puzzle flew by, which I appreciated in my undercaffeinated state. A couple of spots really vexed me however, and at some point I stopped caring. The biggest, and in hindsight funniest, "whoops" was the meaning of "ED." I had no idea, but figured it must be some fancy Latin phrase--something used in a bibliography maybe, which I'd know if I'd ever written a dissertation. So, feeling clever, I wrote "ERettata." Yes, on some level I knew this couldn't be right -- that it was misspelled for one thing -- but hey, what do I know of Latin? And I had no idea about MORAINE or URI GELLER. So I stuck with my creative "E," even though it was IN ERROR.

Even now, having been crushed by that SW corner, I feel smug saying I think there's an ERROR with the clue for 103 Down: "Line (up)." The "(up)" means it's supposed to be part of the answer, right? So it would be "QUEUE up"? That's wrong. If you stand in a line in Britain, you simply "queue." Not up.

I appreciated the puzzle, whatever my state. It's a lovely way to ease into a beautiful, fall, lazy Sunday.

Loren Muse Smith 5:35 AM  

SQUEALER DEALER alone was worth the price for admission. Fun. I couldn’t help revisiting SQUEALER when RATTED out went in. On Wednesdays, I stay two more hours to do an after school program. I’m with fifth graders, and the tattling is beyond ridiculous. I can spot them coming a mile away; they have this look – tight little lips, angry little eyes, determined little steps… I put up my “talk to the paw” hand before they can speak.

I also really liked SQUAWKATHONS. Pretty much any unofficial meeting at school.

Other ones I came up with: squeegee board (can’t clue it), squeak-kneed (my husband), squire fraud (Tinder catfish), squatter gate.

Nice flaccid little shout-out to ED at 112A.

My thing with a ring to it was “tub” before EAR.

I was baffled by the clue for FLOSSY, too. I looked in a thesaurus, and it lists feathery, downy, fleecy, and featherlike as synonyms. Go figure.

I knew a guy once whose last name was Larry VON So and So. He decided to start going by “VON.” This is a preposition, and I never got over that. Hi. My name is Of. Right. Yeah. Rhymes with “dove.”

From yesterday:

@mbr – yup. That’s my name in some of Harlan Coben’s books. The man is obsessed with me. It’s embarrassing. Ok. Maybe not. It is really my name, though. Long story.

@Nancy – sorry to mislead you! I just saw that clue for 2D ("detestable, bombastic, tiresome little creature” and got all snarky about Rex’s schtick.

Anonymous 6:25 AM  

"dear lord take me now" made me lol

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

Does Michael Sharp honestly know anything other than hate?

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

This one played easy and I liked it. A must is legit. “A must” see movie. “ A must” read book. Nice to see Lani the quota queen Guinier clued as civil rights activist LOL.

Lewis 6:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:37 AM  

@tomaz -- URI used to show up a lot, but that's tapered off. HIs full name has never been in a NYT puzzle until today, and URI (as a magician) only appeared once this year.
@lms -- I thought that TAUTENED and ROD provided a nice little yang to ED's yin.

One things crosswords do for me is awaken things in the brain that have been sitting there unvisited for a long while, keeping them from fading into oblivion. Today, ANIMISTS, MASSE, AMHERST, SCOTTO, and TAPIR got a little hello. Also, I liked the clues for HASBRO, UNTOLD, and NASA, and the answers SKETCHY and IMPASSE. I flinched at seeing MENTAL clued like this, especially when it can easily be clued otherwise.

The puzzle itself was like one of those regular trips to the gym that you don't particularly remember but that keeps you in shape. And those trips, by the way, are just as important as the ones in which you do something you've never done before.

'mericans in Paris 7:09 AM  

Mrs. 'Mericans and I found today's puzzle mostly easy. But we DNF at the 37D-48A crossing. I have a different filter at work (which, funnily enough, sometimes gives a warning in connection with my own organization's web pages!), and so have never encountered NSFW. Mulled over whether SQUARE 48 should be an "R" or an "N" and chose the wrong one. I looked at that for quite a while and wondered if it could possibly be a compass rose (NSeW), but 50D could not possibly start with an "E".

Oh, the possibilities:

SQUALL OF SILENCE ("noiseless gust?")

SQUASH AND WEAR ("Ad for a flossy down jacket?")

SQUATS GOING ON ("Sign in front of a Turkish toilet?")

SQUEAKER SEX ("Mating mice?")

LOONIE reminded me this morning of DJT's latest tweet. Rocket man had referred to our pres as an "old lunatic", but the only part of that which Trump disputed was being called "old".

TAMPA (where I once lived) and TAPIR were my first entries. TAPIRs are such gentle creatures. Anybody who has read Paul Hess's classic Rainforest Animals to a child will recall this poem:

The Tapir has no manners:
He picks food with his nose.
He swims and stomps the moonlit swamps,
With stubby little toes.


Trombone Tom 7:23 AM  

Once again we see the hate. Oh my! Oh my!

I agree with many of you that there wasn't a lot of exciting stuff here. Some of the theme entries were truly SQUIRRELY(BIRD).

But am I the only one with a snicker in response to seeing ERECTILE over TAUTENED down there in the SW? Nope! I see that Deb Amlen noted it in Wordplay.

Nice to see EL BARTO show up with his signature tag. He would have snickered, too.

Sydney 7:26 AM  

I really liked the puzzle. I found it clever, fun, and quite easy...It helped that the puzzle wasn't full of rappers and sports figures. Ediles..no problem.

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

I had no problems at all with this easy, amusing Sunday romp. I liked it even though I finished in less time that it took to do yesterday's terrific puzzle.

Gilbert Adair's novel is wonderful. You should read it, Rex. The movie starring John Hurt and Jason Priestley is also marvelous. Perhaps if it had zombies or vampires in it you'd have heard of it.

"Winter's Tale" could also apply to the Mark Helprin novel, Rex, so no reason to go ballistic over a missing THE.

Where's the Beef brings back memories of a time when ads were actually funny. Now they (the few I see) all seem INANE, childish, and animated to "De'Ath" -- that's the spelling of the character's name in Gilbert Adair's witty satire btw.

Sir Hillary 7:49 AM  

This puzzle typifies what most NYT Sundays are -- moderately interesting, moderately difficult, unmemorable. I SOLVE them more out of a sense of duty than anything else. Every once in a while I feel rewarded for doing so. Not so much today.

SQUARESTHEBEEF and SQUEALERDEALER are great. SQUIRRELYBIRD is SKETCHY. The other themers are...just there.

@Rex is right about the HASBRO clue. Fantastic.

chefbea 7:52 AM  

Got the SQU part but had a hard time finishing the puzzle...Squash should have been included...love squash, especially this time of year!!!

Two Ponies 7:59 AM  

Any puzzle that starts with Gifford has no chance with me.

@ Lewis 6:37, That is a nice attitude for puzzles in general but I can't quite embrace it today.

When I saw 112A I thought of our own e.d. but when I saw the answer I realized I was not clever enough to make a non-offensive joke about it so I'll leave it to @ e.d. himself.

One alleged psychic calling out another one? Now that's funny.

BarbieBarbie 8:09 AM  

Enjoyed it but felt cheated. A gimme of 3 or 4 letters (SQU in the themer, generally another U in a cross) along with a gimme of W in the sound-alike common phrase for the themer is so much hinting that it’s not an accomplishment to get it. Also a lot of short fill.

Nancy 8:11 AM  

So I go to 40A, see "Corp. budget item" and confidently write in R AND r. (Rest and Recreation). Instead of R AND D. (Research and Development.) You can see what kind of company I want to work for. And what kind of worker I am. RED ROSE at 28D straightened me out -- and I wasn't happy about it, believe me.

This was a cute puzzle, although not up to the very high standards of this last week. It was easy enough that I made it more fun for myself by trying to guess the puns with very few, if any crosses. I was able to do that with SQUEALER DEALER, SQUINTER'S TALE, SQUISH LISTS, and SQUARES THE BEEF (my absolute fave.) I needed a few more letters for SQUANDERLUST, SQUIRRELY BIRD, and SQUAWKATHONS. Since I mute all commercials, I thought that E.D. either stood for Education Department, Energy Department, or Eastern Daylight [time]. So I needed some crosses for ERECTILE. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. As with Rex's rant yesterday.

Apropos of that, re yesterday's puzzle, let me thank @Joe Dipinto (on the blog) and @Teedmn (off-blog) for explaining @Loren's Agatha joke as a sly dig at Rex. I missed it entirely, but when I re-read that clue, I saw how funny it was. Good one, Loren!

Glimmerglass 8:16 AM  

Speaking of E.D., I had forgotten that JC was himself an edile at the beginning. I do remember that after he became emperor, Rome suffered from edile dysfunction.

RJ 8:18 AM  

I took the "flossy" to be like down feathers after filling in the clue - but I wouldn't describe down as floss-like (embroidery thread)?

Bella 8:20 AM  

How has no one complained about EDILE yet?? It’s a nonstandard spelling of an obscure term.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

I hesitated before writing this comment. I didn’t like the puzzle much because it felt like a slog all the way through with too many awkward crosses, most of which have been mentioned above. I write only because of my role as strict Grammar Policeman in my household. I have to comment on #Anonymous 6:31’s justification for AMUST and to air one other of my pet peeves about crosswords.

I don’t have much problem with the answer, even though I had iMUST for a while. But AMUST cannot be justified because we have phrases like “a must read book” and “a must see movie”. In those phrases the “a” modifies “book” and “movie” not “must”. One could just as correctly talk about ‘the must read book/must see movie of the month”. “Must” is part of an adjectival phrase - “must-read” or “must-see”. In the crossword, “must” must be seen as a noun with “a” modifying it, like in this sentence: “compassion should be a must for any politician.” Must here in the sense of necessity.

Now if I haven’t bored you enough already, let me talk about plurals of words ending [consonant]+O. My elementary schooling was in Catholic school taught by the good nuns. We spent a lot of time learning grammar rules and diagramming sentences. That has ultimately led me to two things: an appreciation of how language functions and a frustration with how the structure of our language is disintegrating. I cringe every time I stand under the sign at the grocery store saying “14 items or LESS” or every time a sports announcer talks about “the AMOUNT” of touchdowns a quarterback has. The failure to follow a consistent rule shows up in the answer APSOS. I was taught words ending [consonant]+O should add “es” to form plurals; thus, potato - potatoES. Under the rule I learned, the correct answer should be APSOeS. Now in some ways I wouldn’t mind if puzzles applied the consistent but wrong rule to just add “s” in all situations, but we do see answers where “es” is added as well. One can usually tell by length whether to add “s” or “es”; it’s the lack of consistency that always bothers me.

End of rant. Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday.

- JimC in Maine

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

stop blogging, for christ's sake. how is one man allowed to be this sickening combo of tedious and butthurt? do yourself and the internet universe a favor and find a hobby that you don't hate and feel compelled to tell the whole world about on a daily basis.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Two Ponies said: "One alleged psychic calling out another one? Now that's funny."

James Randi is a very interesting man who exposes so-called psychics and and the like. He does not believe in psychic powers and doesn't claim them himself.

The name "Amazing Randi" is used facetiously.

Nancy 8:48 AM  

Should I tell you my URI GELLER story? If I do, you'll have me believing in UFOs, astrology, poltergeists, and the Bermuda Triangle. And I can assure you that only Missouri has more of a "Show Me" attitude than I do. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic. And yet...

URI GELLER (whose book we had taken as an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild) came to our office to do a demonstration. Yes, he bent a spoon. I was unimpressed; I was sure it was a parlor trick of some kind. It was what he did next that blew me away.

We had all been encouraged to bring something into the office, sealed in an envelope, and that URI would tell us what it was. My friend Cathy brought in a white envelope. It was passed around the conference table so that we could all see what couldn't be seen. I held it up to the light. I felt it with my fingers. I had no bloody idea what was in it. It was passed to URI. He pondered it for several long minutes, I'm not sure he even touched it, then took a piece of paper and began to draw on it. He drew a figure 8, going over the figure many, many times, until it was a thick, black, somewhat shaggy figure 8. The envelope was opened. There, glued to a piece of paper was the black hair from Cathy's beloved puli (that's a dog), twisted into the shape of a figure 8. The figure on Uri's paper and the dog's hair were completely congruent -- the exact same size and the exact same thickness. I couldn't believe it. I asked Cathy later if she'd told anyone. She'd told no one. The envelope was in her handbag the whole time and her handbag was in her lap. The glue of the envelope had not been tampered with.

Just as odd was this: After the demonstration was over and I was back in my office, I suddenly had a pretty bad headache. I never get headaches. It was as though some sort of weird energy had been stirring in the air. The headache lasted for about an hour or so, then went away.

Something like this is hard for a skeptic like me. But perhaps there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in my philosophy. Who knows?

pmdm 8:56 AM  

If anyone who reads this blog daily were one to look at the set of puzzle themes that Mr. Sharp likes (maybe I should say those that he doesn't hate), the set would be tiny. Any you would know that Mr. Sharp is not a particularly enthusiastic fan of they type of wordplay found in today's theme. So before reading today's write-up one would expect a negative review. And one would not be surprised with the review. Interesting that Jef Chen, although enjoying some of the theme entries, also wrote a review that in general seemed negative. This difference between the writing styles is that one may chuckle when reading Mr. Chen's review. I rarely chuckle reading Mr. Sharp's review. And that's too bad. Mr Shortz is on record as no longer reading this blog because he thinks Mr. Sharp is too much of a complainer. So the influence Mr. Sharp has on Mr. Shortz is absolutely none. Too bad, because there are many good points that should be influential that instead are simply lost in the vitriol. As I said, too bad.

Did this puzzle make you wince? Sometimes, but mostly no. Should you not grasp the theme until you have 75+% of the answer[s]? Only if you are obsessed with your solving time, which does not probably include most of us. Are the themer clues tortuous? [Shouldn't that be themed instead of themer?] I found them more playfully weird, which may or may not be your cup of tea.

Whether or not I wind up laughing, I appreciate all types of word play. Cleverness is more important to me than humor, and I thought the wordplay in this puzzle, if nothing else, was clever. Even if I don't like some of the entries, I expect a certain amount of crosswordese, which tends to lower the difficulty level. Otherwise, the Sunday puzzles might be more difficult than Mr. Shortz wants them to be. As long as there are not too many such entries, and how much is very subjective. I was OK with today's puzzle. Knowing that each themed answer begins with SQU lower the difficulty level, so the non-themed entries should be more difficult than normal. I'm not sure I found this the case.

I enjoy when more infrequently used letters (like Q) are part of the themed answers. That's a nice touch.

Back in the 70s, my mother used to subscribe to some of the monthly puzzle magazines that included both crossword and variety puzzles. I recently found a box of them and have been solving the puzzles. Trust me, based on the puzzles I have solved so far, we have little to complain about the Times puzzles in comparison.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  


Two Ponies 9:07 AM  

@ Anon 8:45, Guess you're right. I must have been thinking of someone else.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:15 AM  

Yes. He knows loathing, spite, venom, anger, malice, etc. etc. He must be a truly unhappy human being.

Unknown 9:19 AM  

i like wrens and was glad to see one in this puzzle. but that's it; man i really disliked everything else about this puzzle. i wish i had something nicer to say.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:20 AM  

I totally agree! But I keep coming back here just to see how upset Rex can be. šŸ˜„

kitshef 9:32 AM  

Pretty hard for a Sunday, which is a good thing. None of the themers came to me without a lot of crosses. SQUARES THE BEEF was definitely good for a chuckle.

Love the HASBRO clue.


Likely Natick of the day: ORC/EL BARTO.
POCs of the day: APSOS/APSES.

RAD2626 9:34 AM  

Unlike most, I liked the puzzle and the theme answers a lot and thought most of them were quite clever. Finding that many common phrases that you can stick an SQ in front of and then clue cleverly is quite a feat Imo. Really surprised at the vitriol.

Burt Offerings 9:39 AM  

Sundays suck. That is all.

Kimberly 9:39 AM  

Any day I expect to hear that Rex is away in a nice little facility taking a nice little rest, because there’s no way this Sunday themer should engender that level of emotional response.

I used to find the hyperbole and rants kind of funny but lately I’m getting genuinely concerned that someone’s cheese has slipped off the cracker.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

I never suffered from E.D. when Uri Geller was on TV.

Unknown 9:43 AM  

The answers for 1 Down, 2 Down, and 3 Down are GIS, INQ, and FEU. Run them all together: GISINQFEU.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

@Anonymous 8:41: For somebody who styles himself or herself as a "strict Grammar Policeman", I was surprised to see you write "the must read book/must see movie of the month” instead of "the must read book or must see movie of the month”. Which version is quicker to read and comprehend?

Teedmn 9:48 AM  

SQ replacing W sounds - a classic theme type which I always enjoy and I think Mr. Sessa did a great job in choosing his phrases. SQUANDERLUST, SQUEALERDEALER, SQUINTERSTALE, SQUIRMHOLES, SQUAWKATHONS are all great. I'm not so excited by SQUISHLISTS or SQUIRRELYBIRDS but they work. In any case, this was definitely not a sloggy Sunday.

I had the hardest time seeing STEADIES at 65A. With S_EA_eES in place, I was at an IMPASSE. I realized I had the star wrong, which became RIGEL, and I decided the card game had to be SPIT, not SPIn. But with STEA_IES, my MENTAL pronunciation of the first syllable rhymed with STEAm, not STEAD. And I could have run the alphabet all AƑO and not gotten EDILE. But suddenly I saw STEADIES and that D was my last entry, whew!

43A HASBRO gave me a lot of Trouble, great misdirection (I considered HomBRe, ouch.)

93A needed most of the crosses for me to see. I started out with FLuffY but the odds of having two words ending in F right next to each other (77D and 72D) were low so I erased that but had no good substitute. FLOSSY, weird word.

tOpsoil before MORAINE, riO before SAO, "EASIER said" was definitely not EASIER done.

Thanks, Ed Sessa, for a fun Sunday.

Z 9:51 AM  

Earlier this week while my wife and mother-in-law were playing in dirt I took my father-in-law to the local independent bookstore. I ran across a fine little book, The Pun Also Rises, that I knew Norm, an inveterate punster, would love. This is why bookstores are better than buying online. Online you see what the algorithm knows you like. In a store you find things you didn’t know you would like.

I loved today’s puns, even if the puzzle suffered some from the theme’s constraints. Starting the puzzle with the parallel GIS INQ FEU does highlight the strain the theme forced on the fill, and there were spots where the plethora of treys started to get to me, but then SQUEALER DEALER or SQUISH LIST would appear and I’d chuckle.

SQUAWKATHONS - Har. Every staff meeting ever. Part of the art of leadership is recognizing the valuable complaints and turning them into actionable items while ignoring complaints that are just kvetching.

@LEM complainers, even if you are correct about the official name, you’re wrong. Consider the implications of this page.

Birchbark 9:56 AM  

I like ANIMISTS, MORAINE, and the unassuming TAPIR. They aren't themers, and they show up from time to time in crosswords, presumably to solve a construction problem. But as fill goes, they beat the more URBANE lifestyle fill -- designers, architects, DINing OUT, leaded glassmakers, etc.

The real reason I'm commenting today is to delay the unpleasant business of swapping out the mulching blades on my mower and replacing them with the regular ones. That way I can hook up the leaf catcher and clear up the parts of the yard that aren't covered with snow. It is one of my favorite things to do on crisp fall afternoons, but this year we had one perfect weekend for it and I was obligated elsewhere. After that, it has snowed or rained every weekend. Even Friday, I thought we'd make it to the weekend with dry, frozen leaves. But then it snowed, and about half of that snow is still there. NSFR (not suitable for raking), but it's now a triage situation -- get what can be got, hopefully before the Vikings game starts at noon. And now to work, with apologies for the digression. It has served its purpose.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@Anonymous 9:45

Oh, good! A grammar war. The problem with your formulation is that one can’t tell for sure what the phrase ‘of the month” goes with: is it with just “must see movie” or does it include “must read book” as well. I wrote what I did because I wrote my comment on a tablet and it felt too tedious to write “of the month” twice to be clear I meant the phrase to apply to both book and movie. I’m surprised no one has commented on my putting periods outside of quotation marks, with one exception.

- JimC in Maine

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

@JimC: Your original formulation isn't any better. Moreover, it forces the reader to waste time figuring out which words before and after the slash are covered by that mark, and that you don't just mean "book or must" or "book and must".

FLOSSY 10:24 AM  

To the must/see/must/read/book/movie folks -- The world is going to hell in a handbasket and THIS is what you're arguing about? Who cares? Enough, already.*

*And incidentally, all the versions provided here are awkward.

r.alphbunker 10:29 AM  

Is Trump starting to influence Rex Parker? His posts seem to have gotten ruder over the last year. I wonder who he thinks his base is.

I too had 40A {Corp. budget item} RANDR --> RANDD. What does R AND I stand for?

Details of my solution are here.

Suzy 10:33 AM  

@pmdm—. I totally agree. I come to this blog to enjoy the comments made by others and occasionally to peek when I’m stumped.
But here’s the question: Can anyone reccomend a better blog?

Hungry Mother 10:35 AM  

Naticked at the “S”, you know which one. I’m thinking of giving up on my subscription. The LA Times puzzle is far superior and I get it with my Naples News subscription. I also enjoy doing the Commuter puzzlle, across clues only.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Further reply to @Anonymous 9:45

I sometimes hate when I get so enthralled with a grammar issue, but here goes anyway.

The other problem with the formulation “the must end book or must see movie of the month” is that it joins book and movie, that is, if you strip away all that modifiers, the phrase comes down to the book or movie. That’s not what I was trying to talk about. The original commenter suggested two phases: ‘a must read book” and “a must see movie”. I was suggesting two alternate phrases: “the must read book of the month” and “the must see movie of the month”. I was trying to present alternative phrases not alternative media (I.e., book and movie). Obviously, my formulation wasn’ As clear as I thought.

- JimC in Maine

chefbea 10:49 AM  

Was just reading my New York Times...for those of you who care... Uma Thurman is on the front page of the arts and leisure section!!! Now you can put a face to a name!!!

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Two things I learned today: 1. There's a toy maker Hasbro 2. They make a game called Trouble.

With that off my chest, I can add that I liked the theme. It was fun figuring out the puns. And that they all were based on phrases starting "W" gave it tightness.


Steve M 10:56 AM  

Easy except dynode

FrankStein 11:06 AM  

To be really correct, it's MUST-READ and MUST-SEE anyway, guys.

F. 11:09 AM  

DNF at the cross of URI GELLER / RET. Still unsure what title RET is an abbreviation for...

jberg 11:13 AM  

I love bad puns, so this was a lot of fun for me, despite my being hung up on FLuffY for way too long. Even when I could see IBIS, I was reluctant to write the correct answer in. Also held up by denEb before RIGEL, but that was my own fault.

So I enjoyed it, and I guess I got the theme, but was left with the nagging question "Why a W? (or WH, but let's not repeat that argument). Is that clued by the title in some manner that's too subtle for me, or is it just random?

Also, maybe I'm hampered by being a birder here, but what's SQUIRRELY about cuckoos and dodos? Is it some sort of pun about the metaphorical use of each to refer to a mental state? That's all I can think of, but it seems like too much of a stretch.

Gotta go now, there's a bear after me.

Joe Dipinto 11:13 AM  

Must we be subjected to all this must-iness? Well, if we must, we must, I suppose. Now, if you'll S-Q's me, I must go practice my triangle solo.

Norm 11:15 AM  


I loved this puzzle. It was silly in places and difficult in places. Thought for sure that Rex would have a heart attack at EDILE, but for me it was liking an old friend after many years.

Alan_S. 11:23 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Unnecessarily tedious, and clues that were more strained than clever.
One redeeming entry: Squares the beef (prepares cube steak), I smiled at that and actually remembered Clara Peller, the lady whose classic line increased Wendy's stock price tenfold.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

This puzzle sucked.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Oh good, another insufferable overly verbose poster to add to the blowhards on this blog.

'mericans in Paris 11:26 AM  

One other TAPIR anecdote. Back in college, in the 1970s, one of my textbooks was the 1949 edition of E. Laurence Palmer's Fieldbook of Natural History. As a guide to plants and critters in the upstate NY woods it was pretty useless, but it was infinitely amusing, though I don't think the author meant it to be. Each page contained brief (~250-300 word) entries on three animals or plants. The one for the Malay Tapir concludes with these helpful observations:

"TAPIRs favor a temperature of 70F, but do well in warmer climates. Do not like each other. They are defenseless, serene, patient, and generally accept life as fate hands it to them. ...

"TAPIR flesh is considered to be as good as beef and is sought by natives. Skins are made into leather for harness but, being hard when dry and spongy when wet, are not suitable for shoes."

And now you know.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Just so all of you know, I found this one really, really easy. I'm taking the trouble to write this because I wanted you all to know.

Please do me a favor and tell all your friends and relatives that I am really, really smart.

John 11:29 AM  

There were some minor annoyances here (e.g., FLOSSY), which I got, and then a look at Webster's showed they make sense. Some of it was a lot of fun. So, it was a mixed bag and in the end uninspiring. Missed SQUIRRELYBIRD, so had 1 blank square that I stared at for a minute and then said the heck with it. I just didn't care that much, so I see why Rex was unhappy with the puzzle. But the level of vitriol he brings to his review is truly a puzzle. "YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!"

kitshef 11:29 AM  

@Unknown 11:09 - RET = retired.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

y'all realize you don't have to read this blog, right? i see 30% of y'all complaining about rex and it's like... there are other crossword blogs if you don't like this one. let rex be mad! someday, the sunday nyt puzzle will be held to a higher standard and you'll have rex in part to thank. in the meantime, if you're trying to keep a positive aura around yourself or whatever, go to crossword fiend or nyt wordplay or whatever. god bless.

Bax'N'Nex 11:45 AM  

Gerry Anonymous...you may have never heard of Hasbro, but maybe you know some of their products...like a little game called Monopoly or another obscure one, Scrabble. They also do My Little Pony and have the license for all Star Wars and Marvel action figures,. Also Playskool (which is NOT the greatest “Skool” to teach kids incorrect spelling, IMHO). They actually are (were?) attempting to buy Mattel, so they are a major player.

Ok, sorry for the irrelevant toy maker post, have a relative that works for them. And couldn’t believe someone has not heard of Hasbro. No malice intended to Gerry.

And yes, #notmyfearlessleader, Mike Sharp, is definitely an unhappy, miserable guy. I went to a rather small high school and there was a group who was into out of the “normal” stuff kids at that time were into. Nothing wrong with that at all, but they decided that everyone else was stupid and boring and they hated everything, thinking that made them cool and superior. That’s Mike.

Still my favorite quote from this comment page has to be “The Sharp(e?) house must be a mirthful one”. Classic

Mike E 11:49 AM  

Never can understand Rex's vitriol. Took me a while to work everything out, but when I was done, found myself pleased that I had finished without too many "Is that really a word?" thoughts. FLOSSY did seem a stretch and there were enough three-letter fillers that were more distracting than anything else. The S-Q-U giveaway at the start of each theme clue allowed me to sit and mull and get a pleasurable AHA moment each time I got one, (about half) without too many other letters in the mix.
But the bottom line is always the satisfaction in overcoming the challenge of the puzzle, no matter how aesthetically pleasing it might be. Like what a synaptic orgasm might be like. In the same way the DNF feeling might be disappointing along the same scale. Maybe.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Dear Ed Sessa,

Rex hates your puzzle. You ruined his Sunday. Hang your head in shame. Go to your room.

Alan_S. 11:59 AM  

Liked tautened rod eh? Who knew you were a saucy little wench?

Alan_S. 12:03 PM  

Oops, pardon me. Because your profile picture is croppped at the top I always thought you were female. Sorry. I take back saucy and wench!

Joseph Michael 12:07 PM  

The clue for 114A should be "Crossword reviews by Rex Parker"

Mohair Sam 12:09 PM  

Hand up with the small group who loved these God-awful puns. And GIS-INQ-FEU? Hah, small price to pay for HASBRO, c'mon folks. We chuckled our way through this medium/challenging (for us) Sunday.

@Quasi - Yup, nice catch. Just knew @Rex would birth a cow over the lack of a "The" before "Winters Tale" and thought of Helprin's novel - a favorite read here.

@Z - Point well taken on book stores. Years ago I thought Amazon's algorithmic recommendations were the best idea since sliced bread. In the past few years I've found myself scanning the new arrivals section of my local library to "find things you didn’t know you would like" as you put it.

I've always wished I had a better grasp on the rules of grammar. Then I witness those who do go into battle as they have today and realize that it's hopeless, I'll always be a foil for Grammar Nazis.

Tons of fun this morning Ed Sessa - thanks a lot.

Stanley Hudson 12:09 PM  

Something of a slog but Sunday puzzles are often slogs.

Why does Mr. Magoo remind me of Ronald Reagan?

Shafty 12:16 PM  

@Anon 11:25: so just scroll past the post if you don't want to read it. Geez. Welcome, Katapult.

Alan_S. 12:16 PM  

Speaking of ERECTILE and TAUTENED (Mr. TromBONE Tom) I think the HOLE puzzle was a little STIFF!

Wm. C. 12:18 PM  

Re: commentary above on LEM vs LM. It's correct that "excursion" was included when the contract was initially let for its design and construction in1962. Interestingly, "excursion" was eliminated in its name in 1966 because it was feared that it might lend a tone of frivolity to the entire undertaking.

Personal note: I was a young engineer at MIT's Instrunentation Laboratory in the '69s, and did the final redesign of one of the electronics modules in the GNC's (Guidance, Navigation and Control) computer. There was one each in the CM and LM, with different software, of course. These were mated to each craft's inertial navigation unit, rocket thrusters, and (for the CM) a space telescope system which used star sightings to update the craft's "state vector" (position and velocity) in mid-mission.

I-lab got the very first NASA contract award. It was awarded by the Apollo program manager Robert Seamans, who studied (MIT Masters and PhD degrees) under Professor C. S. "Doc" Draper, who is generally recognized as the father of inertial navigation. Prior to Apollo, Draper's I-Lab designed the GNC systems for the Poseidon and Trident submarine-launched missile systems, as well as those for the subs themselves, which very rarely surfaced for navigation sightings. The Apollo Program hardware varied only slightly from its forebears on the subs.

Those were exciting times. We had interior mock ups of the CM and LM in our laboratory, and ran entire mission simulations against a commercial (SDS) simulation computer to test the software. Before the software was released to the Houston Labs for formal mission training, the astronaut crew for each mission would fly up to Boston (in their personal T-36 jets) for initial training. After training hours, many of these guys would "party hard" at some of the local watering holes, occasionally accompanied by some of our training staff (not me, of course).

One of the (many) sad fallouts for Bostonians from the Kennedy assassination was the location of NASA's Test Flight Center in Houston, instead of Cambridge, where Kennedy reputedly intended to site it, instead of LBJ's Houston choice.

Sorry for the TMI ....

Shafty 12:22 PM  

@Stuart 9:20: Agreed! It makes me wish for "controversial" clues or answers just to see Rex come unglued. Like Rexxie's rant after "ERIC" was clued as a member of the Trump clan. For that reason I *so* was hoping that yesterday's "presidential initials" would be DJT.

Masked and Anonymous 12:29 PM  

16 U's! … [har] dear lord take me now …
S-Q's U, too!

SunPuz theme with a little humor. Like. fave themer: SQUEALER DEALER. But they're all pretty good.

ThemeClues in the news dept.:
{Die-hard Moore [R-AL] and Weinstein [LE-CH] supporters, mostly??} = SQUAREWOLVES.

staff squeeject pick: FEU. Almost anagram of OEUF. Better FEU clue might be: {French fryer??}, maybe? M&A squishful thinkin? ...yeah, thought so.

FLOSSY? … Wanted FLUFFY. Still kinda do.
Primo BETS clue.
Didn't know ELBARTO, but he sure ate up feu-er precious nanoseconds than 3-D.

Thanx, Mr. Sessa. EDILE & THESKY … har.

Masked & Anonymo16Us


Mohair Sam 12:36 PM  

@M&A - Your first line made our day - thank you.

Fred Romagnolo 12:36 PM  

@Nancy: RANDi is the first name of the AFT's pres who has a running column in the NYT; does that help? @Anon 6:31: congrats on your excellent put-down of "civil-rights" label. @Glimmerglass: J C was never emperor, his adopted son Octavian-Augustus was the first to assume that title (Imperator). EDILE is crosswordese, it's aedile. The ACLU is not necessarily "Equality-promoting," it's prime function is to protect people from government oppression of liberties. Renata Tebaldi was undeniably the greatest of the Renatas, but SCOTTO was a first class singer-actress, and in opera that counts for a lot. Another example: Renee Fleming. Van is the Dutch equivalent of the German VON, Beethoven's paternal grandfather was Dutch; that's why it's van Beethoven

GHarris 12:37 PM  

Tried to finish before bedtime but couldn’t. Got up this morning and the rest fell into place. Still fail to apprehend why Rex puts down any puzzle that has words or concepts unfamiliar to him. Isn’t that the challenge of any good puzzle?

thefogman 12:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 12:56 PM  

Rex should switch to decaf. I found this to be a medium-challenging enjoyable and fair puzzle. It couldn't have been easy to construct a puzzle with no less than eight lengthy themers. There is even an eye-pleasing symmetry to it if you highlight all of the themers. So S-Q's me Rex, but I thought it was perfect for a Sunday.

BarbieBarbie 1:01 PM  

Can anyone tell mehow to find Jeff Chen’s crossword blog? I got directed to crosswordfiend and it’s written by a bunch of other people, including at least one who’s deceased. No Jeff Chen in sight. How do you find his POW?

thefogman 1:05 PM  

@BarbieBarbie - Ask and you shall receive...


Joe Bleaux 1:05 PM  

(Not for me, re the LAT, on any day of the week. I do NYT for fun and challenge, especially Wed-Sat, but LAT only because it's in my local paper and beats no xword at all.)

Austenlover 1:11 PM  

Thanks, @FrankStein, I agree it should be must-see or must-read. But AMUST is acceptable in certain phrasing, as in “if you’re in Acapulco, seeing the cliff divers is AMUST.”

Joe Bleaux 1:13 PM  

(Also for those who care: Read the piece on A2 by Philip Galanes -- another "enemy of the people.")

old timer 1:24 PM  

A tough puzzle for me though it did help to put SQU in various likely places. Just wanted to point out that not every plural of a word ending in O is "oes". Certainly not wit Lhasa APSOS, but also not with NONOS.

BarbieBarbie 1:28 PM  

Thanks @fogman! Emjoy the weather!

Dick Swart 1:29 PM  

While the S-Q gimmick was easy to see, the puns themselves were harder and fun to figure out.

'Edile' is a very nice title and a remembrance of the years of Latin drummed into me.

And finally ... and of interest to very few: Williams 31 Amherst 24. Kudos to the new coach!

Unknown 1:46 PM  

I loved this puzzle! I got squanderlust" right away and immediately started putting in the squ's in the long words and thinking of the replacement w words that matched the clues...got all of these first then filled in the rest! Mini and moraine last. Most fun puzzle of the year!

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

I thought Rex would LIKE this one - he often complains that the theme isn't used enough, or consistent enough, etc.

Today, the theme was crystal clear and showed up in 8 long answers. The puns were fun for me, the "AHA's" satisfying. It reminded me of good-old-days Sunday NYT puzzles.

And it was medium-challenging. A lot of recent Sundays have been Tues.-Wed. level.

So, woo-hoo to the constructor!

thefogman 1:49 PM  

Cheers @BarbieBarbie !

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Why are dodo's and cuckoo's "squirrely"? I did not understand that clue at all.

Carola 1:56 PM  

For me, this was a case of TMT (like TMI, except Too Much Theme). Loved the first couple of examples, then it began to pall.

@'mericans - Thank you for the very funny alternatives.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

@Z re LEM and Grumman link - Grumman and NASA originally called the module LEM but officially abandoned the "excursion" before any of the functional LMs were built and certainly before the few LMs that made it to space were launched.
The Apollo astronauts and the general public had been using the LEM name for the spacecraft for years at that point, and they opted to continue referring to it as LEM - so I don't believe the clue is completely wrong. But the official designation was LM and LM is what it is called in the text specs on the page you linked to. The drawings there refer to the craft as LEM because they are artist's renderings of the planned spacecraft, from before the name change and before significant design changes like the hatch shape adjustment, mylar skirting, exterior leg and ladder-step design, and more. Nothing labeled "LEM" on that linked page is "real," in other words.

Masked and Anonymous 2:10 PM  

@thefogman. Primo Help Desk work. Also admire yer avatar.
Whatever @RP's real deal is, he has been very inspirational to M&A. I hear that the Michael Sharp alterego is a real nice dude, btw. Consider the nice friends he keeps: Blu'Bel, Lena, the airport twins, etc. Just sayin.


Mike Rees 2:18 PM  

Easy-medium despite a couple of almost-Naticks. I hereby formally request we change OFL to OFD (Old Fuddy-Duddy). Laughed out loud at a couple of these. Plus, I appreciated how challenging it is to put in that many Qs without too much dreck.

@Rex - it’s time to stop taking the crossword so seriously. This is especially true once you realize that according to you, NYT stopped taking it seriously years ago. :)

Andy 2:32 PM  

Agree 100%!!

mathgent 2:55 PM  

I've never met Rex but I think that a lot of us are way out of line in attacking him. He criticizes the puzzle. That's fair because the constructor takes money to expose his or her work to the world. But he doesn't attack the constructor as a person. A lot of us are attacking Rex as a person, saying things like he is a hater and a miserable human being.

I disagree with a lot of Rex's comments but that doesn't prompt me to say that he is a bad person. Let's have a little gratitude to this guy for giving us this wonderful forum.

ppammella 3:14 PM  

Anyone know anything about Ed Sessa? I've loved xwords since I was in high school & back in the day "edile" showed up with some frequency & then disappeared.

Norm 3:30 PM  

I have already nominated SQUAWKATHON and SQUIRM HOLE for word of the year. Please join the cause and start using them.

Masked and Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Basic Ed Sessa info, mostly gleaned from his past xwordinfo.com comments:

* Dude.
* Lives in SW Florida.
* Crossword solver since the 60s. Remembers Chubby Checker and the Twist.
* Constructin since around 2007.
* Dog owner and wears glasses and lives near a tree [deduced from his picture].
* Worked with children for many years.
* fave celeb chef: Bobby Flay.
* Enjoys Herb Alpert's "Spanish Flea" tune.
* Has had 36 NYTPuzs published so far; some for each day of the week. Most prolific day: MonPuzs (9).

M&A Research Desk.

Blue Stater 4:00 PM  

As usual, OFL hit the nail right on the head for me. Sunday, once the only day of the week that was a refuge from the crazy, mistake-ridden mess of the other days, has now become my most-hated day as well. Todays was no exception. I'm seriously thinking about giving up my puzzles subscription, which would really be a wrench for me: I've been doing the NYT crosswords since the early 1950s. I don't know what it takes to effect change; maybe walking away is the answer. Sigh.

Lee Roversi 4:00 PM  

i agree!

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

I thought this wasn't a particularly hard puzzle. But I agree that it was kind of stupid. The Sunday puzzles for too long a time have tried to be too clever by half and end up feeling forced. Wondering if its time for a change of editor.

ArtO 4:27 PM  

i take my time and don't particularly care whether I'm setting any records but this one fell on the EASY side in my estimation. Really liked most of the themes and did not mind that you could put in SQU to get a leg up.

Second the notion that OFL is just too filled with spleen. Maybe he's taking it out on the blog since he's so frustrated with the "TEFLON DON" as I call him. (with apologies to John Gotti).

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

We gonna see TAKEI in puzzles any more? I guess there are some new cluing possibilities.

G. Weissman 4:50 PM  

I’m with Anonymous on this one. Just not a fan of blather, I guess.

G. Weissman 4:51 PM  


G. Weissman 4:54 PM  

wait ... those are all sexual references! I get it now! Hilarious, just hilarious. Because a guy preoccupied with sex talk is always a laugh and a half.

G. Weissman 4:55 PM  

No, you shouldn’t tell your Uri Geller story. Since you asked.

G. Weissman 4:57 PM  

Not to mention, he created and runs this forum.

Bax'N'Nex 5:20 PM  

Right and Mike accepts money to write this blog. So he is open to whatever criticism is aimed at him. Same as the constructors. So, be a d*ck towards people 90% of the time and deal with the comments, fine. If the constructors are fair game due to getting paid, so is #notmyfearlessleader

Mathgent...do you honestly feel he is fair and constructively critical? I’m old enough to remember the old Life cereal commercial “Let Mikey try, he hates everything”. Well, Mikey is all grown up and he still hates everything. Maybe he’s just too hip for me, but I read a LOT of agreement here

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

He thrives on complaint. It's his self-soothing. It's a public strategy that helps makes him feel worthy, because inside he's certain he isn't. Makes sense of the nom de plume and the constant discontent. He wants to believe that he's hot snot on a golden platter but he knows he's a cold booger on a paper plate. Needs therapy. Wish him well.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

Alan_S_Trump of Weinstein and Associates perhaps?

puzzlehoarder 6:16 PM  

The one nit I could pick with this puzzle is the disconnect between the title and the theme. I get that the title is a play on the SQU taken on its own but I'm so literal I was expecting the themes to involve words starting with EX or incorporating the long U sound. After getting a couple of the themes I knew it was about how SQU segues into the W sound.

Knowing the theme really sped up the solve but still, like most Sundays I had to fight to stay awake. When there's this much routine fill to cover it gets a bit mind numbing. I find this true of almost all Sundays. Still I got a chuckle or two from the silliness and as always there was crosswordese that was either completely new or that needed to be brushed up on.

Girish 6:18 PM  

It seemed to me the cleverness of the puns slightly outweighed the ease of substitution, once discovered.
@mathgent 2:55 p.m. Thanks for your take on Rex.
@Joe Dipinyo 11:13 Thanks for your triangle solo.

Girish 6:28 PM  

*Dipinto, sorry...šŸ˜¬
@David Schinnerer 5:20 As I remember it, D.,
Mikey's older brother is a little more accommodating
and, maybe, almost ready to try a little joie de vivre, himself... šŸ˜€

Rube 6:42 PM  

No respect for a poster who is ignorant of moraine and uri geller. Anon is right. I don't care about cats except as a response to "Betty Buckley vehicle" or similar.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

You're not the target audience. The tens of thousands puzzlers are the audience, not you erudites.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Just figured it out!!
D.T. - "the failing New York Times".
M.S.aka R.P. - "the failing New York Times crossword puzzle".
And the similarities don't end there: delusionment, narcissistic, insecurity, misplaced anger, rage at one particular individual, uncreative, unimaginative.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

Have some sympathy for Mike. He is a lecturer, not a professor, in the English department in a state university in the middle of nowhere upstate NY who feels he should be more. The Rex Parker blog is his platform to make him something larger. Crossword puzzles are pleasant diversion, nothing more. So if this is where Mike gets to be large, God bless him

1E4yearoldman 7:27 PM  

I agree too!

Two Ponies 7:28 PM  

Wow, so many armchair shrinks here today.
If you really can't stand Rex then I will
politely invite you to just keep moving.
Nothing for you here.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Rex is a dick.

1E4yearoldman 7:48 PM  

Yes you’ve bored us enough

1E4yearoldman 7:51 PM  

I too keep coming back just to see how apoplectic Rex gets this time

Wick 8:15 PM  

Really really wish 80a. had been clued "Cooing Dodos". Answer: SQUAWKINGDEAD

Unknown 8:17 PM  

Hated this so, so much—soooo many obscure proper nouns crossing soooo many poorly clued examples of crosswordese. Really missing Sunday cleverness.

thefogman 8:29 PM  

Thanks for the shoutout M&A. You didn't mention it so I will. The letter U was in abundance in this puzzle. Chock full in fact. I counted at least 15. That alone is cause to celebrate. No?

Tarheeled 8:31 PM  

This was an ok puzzle. I finally squirreled out the schtick, but didn't catch on to the initial W until reading Rexes, Rex's, Rex' comments. I dnf cuz of that. Squares the **** read as Shares the whatever and I lost it.. If I had caught the word as being Where's, I'd have been home free. Otherwise a pretty easy puzzle for me. No new words. Why does everyone stick a @ in front of everyone's name?. Seems like a waste of energy and time to me.

thefogman 8:33 PM  

Edit - M&A: I see you did in fact make note of the plethora of U's. I did not read the comment above your previous one.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

Hey @Mathgent, shove it up your pompous prune shooter..

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

Hey @G Weismann, I’m in bed with your wife.

joannalan 10:57 PM  

You guys are pretty unwelcoming. You’re not required to read it if you don’t want to but no need to be so hostile.

Anonymous 11:29 PM  

mathgent, couldn't agree more. It's Rex's blog. He can say what he wants.

thefogman 12:21 AM  

We can disagree, but there's no need to be disagreeable.

Crosswords > Cross words

Hartley70 1:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newport Carl 2:38 AM  

Lurker here
Liked the puzzle
Like Rex
Like the comments

John Crowe 6:46 AM  

I think the blogger has jumped the shark. Even Willie Mays stayed too long

John Crowe 6:46 AM  

I think the blogger has jumped the shark. Even Willie Mays stayed too long

Hartley70 7:50 AM  

Finally got to the puzzle and had an enjoyable hour with it. I can't fathom the hater-in-chief this weekend.

My first thought was that M & A would love the U's.

The themers were silly and zany enough to slow me down. I found them good fun and they kept me interested. SQUINTERSTALE was my favorite. SQUINTING is a team sport for myopics. I can't call this a slog at all and I've been known to describe a few Sundays that way.

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:56 AM  

Look, I didn't like the puzzle. The grid was truly a bore, the themes weren't funny to me. CrosswordFiend didn't like the puzzle, gave it 2.4/5 which means it really sucked (even when they criticize a puzzle in the review section they end up giving it 3.5 or something). Jeff Chen called it "passable", and given how grade-inflated his reviews are, means it wasn't good.

So yes, Sunday's puzzle wasn't good. Stop acting like Rex is the only one who hated it.

Does Rex have stupid reviews sometimes where he nitpicks something and then spews hatred, one might say unnecessarily? Yep. Would I enjoy having a couple of beers with Rex? Highly doubtful. Is he OK with people pointing that out? I don't know but at least he lets the comments run wild. Nonetheless, his writing is fun to read and there is a community feeling here and that's why most of us drop in.

It's ironic to complain about Rex's non-informative hateful reviews when some of those comments are nothing but non-informative hate for Rex, is all I'm saying.

AW 11:15 AM  

What's "squirrely" about a cuckoo or a dodo? "Squirrely" is defined as "resembling a squirrel," so restless, nervous, jumpy. It can also mean questionable or morally sketchy. Do any of those terms apply to either a cuckoo or a dodo? No, not even vaguely.

"Flossy" means "like floss," so silky, threadlike, fibrous. Do any of those describe "down"? No, not at all.

Finally, "things to be sat on" are "squish" (as in SQUISH LIST)? No, period.

I enjoy clever puns. These were just awful.

Alan_S. 1:35 PM  

You are all way too buttoned up. This is a blog, not a little boys or women's locker room. A slight reference to sexual wordplay does not warrant comparison to Trump, Weinstein & Anonymous et al.

Alan_S. 1:37 PM  

I meant to say THE VILE Trump, Weinstein et al.

Alan_S. 1:40 PM  

I was going to say " blow me" but thought it a little crass, then decided to say it anyway

jd 11:56 AM  

If everyone solved these puzzles without a timer the comments would be more positive. You are products of technology more than simply human. Be afraid.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

What's up with Rex? If he doesn't know a clue, then it sucks? Grow up my friend!

Chris 8:15 PM  

This one struck me as very easy for a Sunday. Gilbert ADAIR's other claim to fame is having translated Georges Perec's novel La disparition into English. Both the original and the translation were composed without using the letter "e."

Kudos to the mention of IDA, a great movie.

Eric Selje 11:50 AM  

STEADIES was my last fill too. I just couldn't see it.

Eric Selje 11:52 AM  


Eric Selje 11:57 AM  

Two things I enjoy on a Sunday morning: Doing the puzzle, and then coming here to take in the SQUAWKATHON.

rondo 12:08 PM  

S-Qs me, but a puz that starts at 1a with yeah baby Kathie Lee GIFFORD can't be all bad, just mostly. SQUARESTHEBEEF was the only one that got a har out of me. Had one w/o with tINy before MINI. That ampersandwich and HASBRO area almost an IMPASSE.

I'm finally with OFL on one big item - WEARE in agreement about Sunday puzzles and the quality of the SOLVE.

spacecraft 12:38 PM  

Never been a Sessa fan, and today changed nothing. Grid is loaded with crappola, and the theme, after a couple of examples, just gets tiresome. I knew @M&A would be ecstatic over the U-count, but really. I mean, the Q's have to get one, so where are we?

Almost DNF in the central SE area around 76 and 77. DYNODE?? REYS?? Here's the clue for REYS exactly as it appears in my copy: [sic] "Co-authors Margret and H.?A." HUH??? What's going on? And what is a "marketEER???"

Ed, you ought to consider retiring. Bogey. [And that was kind}

Diana, LIW 12:53 PM  

Surprisingly easy, then surprisingly resistant. Repeat. Again.

Still got a TINY dnf in the EASIER area, ironically. Couldn't figure what initials they wanted for Apollo 11, and knew not of the Brazilian Campo. Also thought RODS was RODi or RODy. Hmm.

Only real complaint - waaaay too much PPP. Even when in wheelhouse, that's not a puzzle to me.

But I, of course, enjoyed the punny themers, and got the theme right away. Leaving me feeling smart and stupid all at once.

Haven't read the Futurelander comments, so I'm off to do so.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 1:55 PM  


the ARTIST'S ERECTILE IMPASSE when he smokes.
when, INERROR, all the MOORE he TOQUES.


rainforest 2:46 PM  

Well, I thought the themers were fun, and mostly funny. The puzzle put up resistance in many areas, and along with the theme, kept up my interest.

Note: I know that @Rex doesn't like Ed Sessa's work, so I eschewed reading his post. But hey, ol' Ed keeps plugging away. Gotta admire that, I say.

Pretty good Sunday in my opinion.

AnonymousPVX 3:24 PM  

For the second week in a row I put this down and walked away.

Life is too short to waste on a garbage pile like this. Ugh.

Sharonak 2:25 AM  

Liked the theme. Found most amusing and fin. Sauanderlust, the first one i got, was one of my faves. And squealer dealer, squinters tale and squares the beef. Dont understand the problem many had understanding squirrelybirds. Have often heard squirrely used to mean about the same thing as cuckoo or dodo.
Agree with questioning of flossy.

When i first found this blog 9 or so years ago I was amazed that rex was able todo the puzzle write his comments and add the photos and youtube links, etc. and still go towork. Itwould take me all day. Then I found how clever and amusing some of the comments were.
I have not seen another crossword blog that has all these things. Sadly, many very negative commenters have taken up residence here in recent months. Wish I were faster than I am at skimming and skipping.

wcutler 1:30 PM  

My first theme find was SQUEALERDEALER, which I loved. And I liked the others too, and as someone else mentioned, I enjoyed figuring out the answers based on the gimmick. And here's the thing - it takes me days to do these things, since I do them just before I fall asleep; then I get to pick them up the next night and see the bits I really liked. SQUEALERDEALER, ha-ha all over again. But I finished it in only three nights, so it was a little too easy for maximum mirth, even with lots of little problem areas.

PeeVee 8:38 AM  

Isn't SQUIRRELLY spelled with two Ls?

arsene 2:19 AM  

2011 song hits list pop danthology

Burma Shave 12:54 PM  

Feb 23, 2020


Ms. GIFFORD was at an IMPASSE,
INERROR thought she CAN’TBE gentile.
So with TEN of the CRU en MASSE,


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