Ecuadorean coastal province known for gold / SUN 4-29-18 / Dreyfus Affair figure / It dethroned Sophia as #1 baby girl's name in 2014 / Country whose capital lent name to fabric / Bar that might be dangerous / Subject for The Source magazine

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hey y'all - Erik here, subbing for Rex today. I'll be shaking up the order of proceedings a bit, because I'm a loose cannon who doesn't play by the rules. You can find the review a few paragraphs down, but let's start things off with a plug:
Women of Letters is a collection of 18 thoroughly excellent crosswords, and you can get it by donating to one of the charities listed on the website and sending proof of your donation to Win-win-win!

The puzzles are constructed by Tracy Bennett, Laura Braunstein, C.C. Burnikel, Amanda Chung, Debbie Ellerin, Gail Grabowski, Tracy Gray, Mary Lou Guizzo, Angela Olson Halsted, Pam Amick Klawitter, Sarah Keller, Lynn Lempel, Donna S. Levin, Ruth Bloomfield Margolin, Andrea Carla Michaels, Robin Stears, and Robyn Weintraub, and edited by Patti Varol and Amy Reynaldo. These are "Avengers: Infinity War"-meets-Kevin-Durant's-Golden-State-Warriors levels of wall-to-wall star-studdedness.

It's also a lot of women! In fact, there are more woman-constructed crosswords in this collection than there have been published by the New York Times so far this year. Those who fail to see the urgency in closing the gender gaps in crossword constructing and editing often posit that 'you can't tell the difference between a crossword written by a woman and one written by a man' (ergo, whether women are equally represented has little bearing on the end product, so why should we care). The puzzles in Women of Letters disprove that thesis in a big way, through the dizzying array of less-traveled roads explored by themes, grids, and clues alike. From the juiciest marquee answers in the themelesses to the simplest choice of referencing a legendary actress by her accolades and not just [Bond girl], the collection never ceases to be a breath of fresh, inimitable air. (As the young people say: "Your fave could never.")

Get the puzzles.

• • •

And now for something completely different: Erik Agard Does the NYT Mini!

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Challenging

This one took me 13 seconds, which means it was pretty hard for a Mini. Between EULER and POLIO, there was an air of erudition about it, which is rarely my wavelength. My favorite parts were GO OUT, with that odd-looking three-vowel string, and the clue 1D: Numbers that grow every year for AGES.

Onto bigger things:

• • •

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Measium

THEME: Mis-Unabbreviated — familiar phrases that start with abbreviations have those abbreviations unabbreviated to different unabbreviations than what they were previously abbreviated from:

Theme answers:
  • WATER CLOSET FIELDS (22A: Meadows filled with loos?)
  • PHYSICAL THERAPY BOATS (38A: Where sailors recover from their injuries?)
  • ADVANCED PLACEMENT NEWS (55A: Goings-on in accelerated classes?)
  • POLITICALLY CORRECT LAB (80A: Dog that doesn't offend people?)
  • PUBLIC SCHOOL I LOVE YOU (100A: Cry of devotion from a non-academy student?)
  • ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO (117A: Morning zoo programming?)
(edited to add the "real" unabbreviations - in order: William Claude, Patrol Torpedo, Associated Press, Personal Computer, Postscript, Amplitude Modulation)

Word of the Day: R-LESS (23D: Like poor months for oysters, it's said)
The idea of not eating oysters during months without an 'R' comes from the fact that the summer months are the prime breeding time for "red tides," or large blooms of algae that grow along the coast and have the tendency to spread toxins that can be absorbed by shellfish, including oysters. This is especially an issue for places with warm water temperatures, and eating locally raised seafood raises your risk of ingesting the toxins. (
• • •

I solved this one acrosses-only, which is a shame in retrospect because I missed the two best clues in the puzzle, 60D: Caesar dressing? (TUNIC) and 81D: Inclined to stress? (ITALIC). Very solid work. Oh, and I learned some stuff - JAWS had three sequels, and OSIRIS had green skin. SICK!

I only got majorly held up in a couple places during my solve - didn't know JANE PAULEY (I mentioned I'm uncultured, right?), and plunking down HDTVS instead of HDDVD off the HD?V?, with the toughish clues for ENDS (46A: Quashes) and DADDYO (61A: "My man"), made that section difficult for me to close.

(Also, I put MERIDIAN for MERIDIEM despite having taken two years of Latin, but let's not dwell on that.)

The theme wasn't hitting on much for me - nothing particularly uproarious (though WATER CLOSET FIELDS is a pretty funny image), the word "zoo" in reference to morning RADIO in 117A confused the heck out of me, and I've always found PC LAB to be a bit on the "green paint"-y side as a crossword answer. Oh, and I guess LAB is the only theme answer where the meaning of the last word changes, so that's inconsistent, technically. All in all, though, it was a perfectly functional theme, one that's simple and elegant in its execution and makes good use of all that extra Sunday space.

Plus, a nice smooth grid from Wentz the themeless ace! Lots of fun stuff like SIT WELL, DADDY-O, EMOJI, SKYCAM, ALL-NBA TEAM, MIA HAMM, and WHAMMY, with only SEM., R-LESS, and perhaps EL ORO (I can be talked out of that one, but it seems like it's only here because of its convenient letter pattern - never seen GUAYAS in a puzzle) as unsightly glue words. This balance of dazzlers to clunkers is very hard to pull off in a 140-word Sunday grid, so color me impressed.

Many thanks to Wentz and the NYT team for all the solving fun today!

Signed, Erik Agard, CrossWorld First Team All-Defense

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

In case you were curious how the numbers stack up, here's how many puzzles constructed by women have been published by various outlets so far this year. Mixed-gender collaborations were counted as 1. Women's names that are anagrams of "really Mike Shenk" were counted as 0. If anyone has data on the venues I'm missing, give me a shout.

Crosswords with Friends: 33/119 = 27.7%
Los Angeles Times: 31/119 = 26.1%
American Values Club: 3/18 = 16.7%
New York Times: 17/119 = 14.3%
Chronicle of Higher Education: 2/16 = 12.5%
Wall Street Journal: 9/99 = 9.1%
Fireball: 0/19 = 0%


Alan_S. 12:18 AM  

No disrespect to our guest sub but I was itching to see what Rex would have to say about this one. Didn't read the post. Came straight here to proclaim this to be the best NYT Sunday puzzle in recent memory, in my opinion of course. Medium because of some really good rough spots, great clueing and clean as a whistle grid. Hats off too Mr. Wentz and to Will who finally picked a great one for the Sunday mag crowd and, I suspect, many.

Harryp 12:33 AM  

This one went very quickly, and I could see the Theme early, but my big hold-up was naturally ANTE MERIDIEM, which even my spell checker resists. I can see it is a.m., but confused about what it had to do with a Zoo. ANT? Are some morning radio hosts a sort of animal species? I know a lot of them rave and roar, but don't see that as the answer. I am sure someone will enlighten me on this point later on.

pmdm 12:51 AM  

So I somehow solved the puzzle without understanding at all what was going on. At 15 min. to 1 Am I quickly read the XWordInfo comments and the write here, and I am still in the dark. (Place much stress on the word quickly.) I will not rant but I feel I should. More, I get the feeling that there is no humor that I've missed in today's puzzle. At least I enjoyed today's acrostic (whose topic in a sense was humor). Am I missing something here?

a jazz listener's thoughts 12:57 AM  

Very enjoyable. Thought the acrosses were quite clever.

Trombone Tom 1:50 AM  

Great review, Erik, and I like your puzzles, too.

I also put a + by the ITALIC clue.

Liked the theme and its execution.

Hesitated on AHA and considered oho.

I might have clued 28A as Edith or Osbert or Sacheverell.

People's Front of Judea 3:31 AM  

REG: "Why are you always on about women, Stan?"

Brad Manley 3:55 AM  

Well I think the "Women of Letters" puzzle idea is marvellous and I just know the gals are going to love it.

As for the real puzzle, once I got the theme I was off to the races and never looked back. I just pounded right through this, and I especially liked seeing P.T. BOAT and A.M. RADIO in there, amd let's not forget the delightful SANDM.

A MEATY puzzle indeed.

Charles Flaster 4:59 AM  

Liked theme more than EA.
DNFas I never changed ANTE MERIDIan.
Loved WC FIELDS clue,
Other clues of note were for SKYCAM, SHOAL, and STATUE.
Still in a SLUMP over yesterday’s puzzle.
Thanks PW

TonySaratoga 6:08 AM  

Doesn’t the fact that ante meridiem is what the abbreviation AM actually stands for in “AM Radio” make it different from all the others and not a misdirection at all? What am I missing here? Seems like a terribly basic mistake. Too basic actually—I have to be missing something. Let me have it...

Lewis 6:13 AM  

@pmdm -- What Erik didn't mention in his review is that, i.e., WATER CLOST FIELDS translates into W.C. Fields, with "W.C." the common abbreviation for "water closet". That is, using inappropriate interpretations of common initialisms. Thus PHYSICAL THERAPY BOATS becomes "P.T. boats", etc.

I loved this. What a complete solving experience. Cracking vague clues, smiling at clever clues (RYE, STATUE, ITALIC, SIRS). Huge aha at finally getting a theme answer well into the solve, then glee at successfully attacking others right away. Placing in a slew of lovely words (SIT WELL, WAFTED, PILAFS, WHAMMY, COWL, JINN, WOODEN as clued, PELT, REMISS).

Then, afterward, noticing the food-loving crosses (FETISH/COOKIE, JOY/OMELET, MEATY/HAMM), and related word-pairs -- COMMIT and INSANE, WOODEN and STATUE, and ISAIAH and RUTH. Plus the unrelated but somehow to me related "S and M" and" P and A".

It's clear that Peter took much care in crafting the grid and clues.

Great theme idea, using unrelated abbreviations, and a great overall solving experience. IMO, a Sunday feast, and I'm sated. Thank you Peter!

TonySaratoga 6:18 AM  

But how is ANTEMERIDIEM unrelated to AM RADIO?

Robert A. Simon 7:12 AM  

I just love it when commenters don't "get" an answer and I do. They are the only times I feel even vaguely qualified to read this blog, much less contribute to it.

So it is with great sadness that i must join @Harryp (at least I'm not alone) in wondering what the living heck is the explanation for ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO?

That said, I thought the puzzle was, ahem, too easy for words, and I'd bet many of you set personal best Sunday times.

Shuls 7:22 AM  

AM = amplitude modulation, vs. FM radio. Not the same as the time (AM/PM)...

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Morning zoo is a radio format.

Lewis 7:45 AM  

I think a good statistic to add to the mix re the issue of percentage of NYT puzzles constructed by women is the percentage of puzzles submitted by women. Will, Joel, Sam???

Ruth F 7:50 AM  

Had to run through the alphabet to get the final M in MERIDIEM. Like many, wanted an N. Never heard of “morning zoo.” Also not alone. But Wikipedia has a long explanation of the term. Finished wondering, “Who the heck is Dr. Mom?” Like @TonySaratoga, I also had to consider how ANTE MERIDIEM was unrelated — even though the AM in AM RADIO usually refers to the broadcasting band (AM/FM). Enjoyed this puzzle, some great cluing. And thanks to Erik! I particularly loved the awesome sentence that explained the theme. Perfect.

Rob 7:51 AM  

I had no idea ANTE MERIDIEM was a phrase. Got it by process of elimination. I knew antemeridian but it turns out that's
the rare variant. Learned something today, I guess!

Hungry Mother 7:55 AM  

Fun theme which helped me get through this one smoothly.

pmdm 8:04 AM  

Lewis, thank you very much.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

@Lewis - let’s not confuse the issue with facts!

Unknown 8:34 AM  

this one was not fun for me. the west and southwest were sticky and getting unstuck was not enjoyable. although it gave me the most trouble, i'm glad ANTEMERIDIEM was there because it turns out i had no idea that's how it was spelled and/or pronounced. so there's the glass half full. have a great sunday everyone!

Bill L. 8:38 AM  

Water Closet Fields

kitshef 8:49 AM  

Average theme, above average fill, below average cluing, average difficulty.

I do not live in a universe where “My man” = “DADDY-O”.

Some other Ecuadorian provinces soon coming to a crossword puzzle near you:
Zamora Chinchipe

Could be a fun theme for a Tuesday!

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I believe the AM (versus FM) is Amplitude Modulation.

QuasiMojo 8:50 AM  

Thanks for filling in, Erik.

Ripped through this but got a DNF because I had P.C. TAB (thinking it related to a computer keyboard.) I forgot about the damn dog in the clue. What the heck is a P.C. LAB?

Marconi 8:54 AM  

AM is amplitude modulation. FM is frequency modulation.

Teedmn 8:57 AM  

It took me until the very end before PHYSICAL THERAPY BOATS finally gave me the AHA. I'm sure I won't be the only one to find the theme phrases rather blah - no pun[n]ishment at all! I've never seen ANTE MERIDIEM in a puzzle before. That themer is the most clever, I think, using the AM for time to stand for the Amplitude Modulation signal in AM radio. I must admit I was interpreting "Morning Zoo" literally up until I got the theme.

I had an error - I put in cDDVr as the one-time Blu Ray rival and though I eventuallly saw HD, I never removed the R so next time you are about to say, "My man", just say DArDYO and see what kind of response you get.

Some tough cluing - "Inclined to stress?" = ITALIC, "Funny face?" = EMOJI, "Be agreeable" = SIT WELL, URLS are things that have slashes, R-LESS as the poor oyster months, "Bill's support" = YEA, "Weak period" = SLUMP. All good stuff. Thanks, PW

Glimmerglass 9:03 AM  

Challenging for me. And therefore fun. One of the best NYT Sunday puzzles I’ve done — sort of a long Friday. The theme was actually a big help. PS I LOVE YOU was a bit of an outlier and probably the weakest joke, but the others were all clever.

Z 9:17 AM  

Not to take too much pleasure in someone else’s D’oh moment (hey, we’ve all been there), but I am sitting here imagining a world where all the AM RADIO stations go off air at noon. No more RWNJs cluttering afternoon drive time, just a host of AOR and NPR stations to choose from on the FM dial. What a better place this would be.

I really really really wanted DNA LAB instead of the prosaic and I suspect dated PC lab. My college had a Mac lab, a PC LAB, and a lab where we could dial in to WMU’s main frame. God, I’m old. Not so old, though, that DADDYO didn’t look old. Has anyone said that non-humoursly since 1968?

Anyway, liked it well enough for a Sunday. I never once felt like it was an interminable slog for minimal payoff, about as high as my praise gets on a Sunday anymore.

Birchbark 9:41 AM  

@Z, one good thing about the Amplitude Modulation RADIO band is the warmth it brings to baseball. Unlike HD-FM, you don't feel like you're right there on the field, and there's some magic in the distance. Here in the sticks, the games fade in and out on AM RADIO, background and foreground, a wave form that structurally encourages quality mind-wandering. Which is good, because higher fidelity is not better with the way the Twins have been playing lately.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

@Brad, How are things in accounting? You're hilarious.

QuasiMojo 9:49 AM  

@Z don’t feel too old; we had a class in high school where we had to feed spools of yellow tape into some contraption. I forget what we were telling it to do.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

Does the title of this puzzle intentionally mimic a Bushism? MIS-UNABBREVIATED sounds just like something W would say.

It sure didn't help me figure out the theme. I was 3/4 through filling in the answers when I finally got it. Initially, I didn't know why ADVANCED PLACEMENT NEWS was a Thing, nor WATER CLOSET FIELDS, nor PHYSICAL THERAPY BOATS. "What am I not seeing?" I asked myself. The answer, of course, was Everything. I was very REMISS and FAR OFF the mark for a very long time, but once I saw what was going on, I felt real JOY.

Like others, I was/am baffled by the "zoo" aspect of ANTEMERIDIEM. I didn't misspell it because I had all the crosses. The clue for SIT WELL (28A) didn't SIT WELL for me, but other than that, a nice MEATY puzzle that I enjoyed.

Harryp 10:00 AM  

Thank you @anonymous 7:29 for explaining the ZOO part of a.m. radio. Morning Zoo sounds right.

Glimmerglass 10:22 AM  

@Lewis makes a good point. Are there fewer women constructors published because fewer women submit them? Or are women constructors more often rejected? Surely women constructor who talk to one another must have a sense of this. It might be hard for Will &Co to know, because some women my use a masculine or gender-ambiguous name (Lynn, Chris, even Sam). I like that folks are encouraging more women to construct xwords. We need new blood! Patrick Berry can't write all the puzzles. If the old stereotype were true (boys are good at numbers, girls at words), you'd think there's be lots of girls constructing xword puzzles.

Ellen S 10:23 AM  

Didn’t W.C. Fields used to say his initials stood for “Water Closet”? (grammar Nazis, just leave me alone. It’s too early for me to reconstruct that sentence.) I thought that was the cleverest of all the themers, but maybe just because I’m a W. C. Fields fan.

Nancy 10:32 AM  

Love your witty Ecuadorian province comment, @kitshef (8:49)!

@Teedmn (8:57) -- I also had DVr/DArDYO before I corrected.

There's something about @Birchbark (9:41) that often reminds me of Thoreau, and never more so than today. What an interesting, thoughtful and unusual comment to be making in the midst of today's frenetic, fast-paced and exceedingly noisy world.

Shawesome 10:34 AM  

As a newer crossword enthusiast, it’s nice to be able to finish a Sunday puzzle with a personal best. Someone pointed out it was too easy for a Sunday, but every once in a while it is nice to have something attainable for the noobs. My time was probably still embarrassingly longer than all of yours, but I really enjoyed the puzzle!

The only theme that didn’t work was PC lab- I know it relates to a computer lab, but it’s the only one that doesn’t come back to the clue. Computers weren’t mentioned, and unless the are some kind of PC Labradors that Google and I have never heard of, then I’m not sure what the connection was.

Morning zoo is what they call your goofy morning talk radio on your drive to work- the over the top kind, with sound effects, jokes, interviews, etc.

I always like coming here when I finish, or more likely, when I don’t finish, to see what you all have to say. @lewis thanks for pointing out the great crosses and pairs!

Happy Sunday!

Bob and Tom 10:56 AM  



Mohair Sam 11:02 AM  

@Tony Saratoga is pulling our collective legs, don't doubt me.

Zipped through this perfectly fine Sunday offering until I had to learn the hard way that morning radio is now called "the Morning Zoo" because the hosting teams are so incredibly funny. Sure they are. But that's on me - I stay with sports talk radio or the droll NPR, so I had no idea.

Favorite new fact today was that a province known for its gold is named ELORO, how cool is that? I misspelled Leon Panetta and put him at State instead of Defense - cost a lot of time there. Lady M. corrected me and called me 51D on that one.

LANA? I just don't know my Bond girls outside of Honor Blackman and Grace Jones. Honor because she was first, and Grace because one of her brothers was a neighbor and friend. Got to know most of her family through him, but never met Grace herself.

TubaDon 11:03 AM  

Thought I was doing pretty well from the top down, enjoying the substituted un-abbreviations, until I came to the last one and got stuck on MERIDIAN. My astronomy knowledge tripped me up there.

Carola 11:06 AM  

I like @Erik's "measium" rating: for me it was more "piece of cake"--->"why can't I fill anything in?" I got the theme right away with WATER CLOSET FIELDS and thought, "This is going to be too easy, sigh." But no: I really had to fight for the rest. Favorites were the PT BOATS and PS I LOVE YOU. Like others I wrestled with MERIDIEM, which finally prevailed.

@Lewis, thank you for those grid pairings. The stack that jumped out at me was FAROFF COOKIE CLOSET, as a household feature I need: The balls of chocolate chip cookie dough I have stashed in my freezer (for "sometime," when guests come over) are way too accessible for daily raids.

Clay D 11:09 AM  

I think a big problem with ANTEMERIDIEMRADIO is the clue. The clue is for "morning zoo programming", but the answer has nothing to do with the programming - but rather the time slot. I guess you could stretch that to say "programming" includes the "when", but it just seems off to me. All of the other themer clues are apt descriptions of the answers. (I.e a WATER CLOSET FIELD" is a "meadow filled with loos," but I don't think ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO is "morning zoo programming", even with a question mark.)

Great puzzle, though. Lots of fun. And an "aha" moment when I figured out the theme about halfway through. Thanks @Bill L for the WC Fields!

Birchbark 11:15 AM  

@Nancy (10:32 and 9:51) -- You are very kind. I had some trouble finding the right meter for MIS-UNABBREVIATED, but in George Bush's voice it makes perfect sense -- thank you for that as well.

Z 11:16 AM  

@Lewis - Your question is moot if there is a systemic gender bias. My example isn’t exactly parallel, but I share it to show how systemic bias can be hard to recognize. Where I worked there was statistical evidence of disciplinary bias towards minorities. Staff could rightfully point out that the students disciplined had violated the Code of Conduct. Therefore, “obviously,” the issue was the students’ behavior and nothing in the institution. What staff did not recognize was their own differentiated responses to similar offenses. On a minor rules violation a white student would be given an opportunity to modify their behavior or get a warning, while a minority student would receive a detention or be sent to the office. This response by the adult would also begin a “disciplinary record” for the minority student. The longer a disciplinary record the more punitive the institutional response to future misconduct, so in January two students brought in for being in a snowball fight and the minority student will likely receive a harsher punishment because of a gum chewing incident in September. That this different response was a direct result of adult behavior was not obvious to people.
In short, all that fewer submissions by women would really tell us is that we haven’t identified the factors resulting in systemic bias.

@birchbark - Back before every baseball game was televised and I could watch every game through my MLB subscription I listened to the dulcet tones of Ernie Harwell telling me that a fan from Escanaba (or Alpena or Redford or...) got that foul ball on WHTC. I think I was well past my 21st birthday before it occurred to me that Ernie didn’t actually know where the fans were from.

Old school Idaho Bob 11:17 AM  

Serious old school cluing.
This is what the NYT crossword puzzle is supposed to be.

Unknown 11:20 AM  

not that it matters, but i hated this puzzle. any time the clues and their resultant answers are nonsense phrases, i totally lose interest. also, way too many proper noun crosses for my tastes. and seriously, who out there is referring to PUBLIC SCHOOLs as PSs? and that's supposed to carry a theme answer? just hot garbage.

A pun on WC Fields when there is absolutely nothing relating to WC Fields in the puzzle is inane. I don't understand the generally-positive reception here. I feel like i'm being gaslighted

Phil 11:23 AM  

@tonysaratoga. Had to answer without reading further so sorry if answered already...but I had to say i was like yeah whats the diff. It took me awhile and even the had to read the write up for the very simole explanation. Don't know how our brains saw A.M. as ante meridiem radio, yikes. Anyway am radio is amolitude modukation radio as per Eriks 'splaining.

And to anohther poster. Morning AM radio programming is often referred to 'zoo' because of the wild and crazy talk hosts/cohosts that populate the airwaves in t(e rush hour shows.

Unknown 11:34 AM  

Ante Meridiem refers to morming. I.e. "Morning Zoo"

Unknown 11:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan_S. 11:39 AM  

Just realized, mine was a dnf. I had politically correct pup instead of lab. PCP was something we were all warned to stay away from in the 60's and 70's. Should've realized my mistake at Palau but didn't .

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@Ben - PUBLIC SCHOOLs in NYC are numbered rather than named after the famous and the P.S. abbreviation is ubiquitous.

FrankStein 11:43 AM  

@Ben Sabol, 11:20AM, P.S. as an abbreviation for Public School is very common in NYC. Such as P.S. 9 in Manhattan. The Met has a yearly show: "P.S. Art, an annual exhibition of talented young artists from New York City's public schools."

Tom R 11:57 AM  

Erik: Please go away. I am not on your attempted humor wavelength. Sorry.

Matthew G. 12:02 PM  

Loved the puzzle but was a bit baffled by the words {non-academy} in the Public School themer clue. What is the connection between something being not an academy and being a public school? Can't a public school be an academy? Certainly here in NYC there are many public schools with the word "academy" in their names. Is this a regionalism?

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Congratz to Erik A. for:
* a primo write-up.
* extra show of respect for runt-sized puzs.
* strong support for women constructioneers. [Xword Nation = 100%, btw] I think C.C. could publish one in the NYTPuz every other day, almost; she's prolific.

Congratz & thanx to Peter W. for:
* Nice theme idea. Holds yer interest and helps with the solve. And funny. Rodeo.
* Weeject 4-stacks, in NW & NE. staff pick: ESA.
* Lotsa great grid fillins.
* Real fun solvequest.

Masked & Anonym007Us


GILL I. 12:10 PM  

I am the dunce here. I don't mind sitting in the corner and sucking my thumb. After I finished, I had breakfast hoping that a a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage would trigger maybe a chromosome so that I could figure out what MIS-UNABBREVIATED meant. Very sad. You know it's like someone tells a group of friends a really good joke and when he gets to the punch line everyone roars with laughter. And even though you didn't get it, you roar along with everyone else because you don't want to look dumb. Well, that's ow this puzzle felt for me and I'm admitting it in public.
So I come here and still didn't feel any AHA. It was sort of easy and I liked a lot of the entries you folks have already mentioned but I'll be damn if I understand what a PC LAB is.
1A and D were the hardest for me and if I don't get them right away, I tend to get grumpy. When JAWS finally appeared I thought how in the world did they do three sequels without me knowing? I saw only the first one and it scared the pants off of me. I wouldn't go swimming in the sea for ages. Just like Psycho and not taking a shower.
The sun is out and it's a gorgeous day so I will bid all you intelligent people who never miss anything, adieu!

michiganman 12:18 PM  

I suppose the theme was clever but unrelated to solving. I alternated fill with the themes, which were not dIfficult except for ANTEMERIDIEM and I finished. It seemed a little lame but still enjoyable. I re-checked the title occasionally but nothing clicked. Erik's description gave me a headache but still didn't thoroughly explain the trick. So when I finally got it I thought OK but so what? I loved the across the decades My man-DADDYO connection.

@Z Thanks for citing Ernie Harwell. He was the best!

Hungry Mother 12:23 PM  

@QuasiMojo: I remember those Teletypes with their paper tape memory fondly.

“Per diem” is an example of a phrase that could be italicized. Helps with the spelling of A.M.

Joe Dipinto 12:31 PM  

@Mohair Sam -- Lana Wood trivia: she is Natalie Wood's sister, and looked quite a bit like her. She was in "Diamonds Are Forever", and also a short-lived mid-60's series "The Long Hot Summer", based on a Newman-Woodward film.

@ErikAgard -- It's considered bad form to spoil or discuss a puzzle outside the main one. Some folks here may not have done the mini yet. And no one cares how fast you finished it.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Did not like this. Took me almost to the bottom to figure out the "clever" acrosses (and, yes, clever is in quotes for a reason). And then the stupid iOS app wouldn't give me a finish. I spent many minutes double-checking my answers, finally came here to verify and, until I hit "check puzzle" and lost my streak, it wouldn't give me the ending bell. And, no, I had nothing wrong. Grrrrr is for grumpy.

old timer 12:45 PM  

I (a) could solve it and (b) was not bored which I often am on a Sunday. So congrats to Peter Wentz for a great puzzle.

It has been amusing to see the ignorance and confusion about AM/PM versus AM/FM here. But I should not crow about it. Truth is, after I finished, I had to look on the Web to verify that ante meridiem is what AM as in morning was correct. It is of course, and the "Morning Zoo" clue was therefore spot-on.

Still, if I finish the puzzle correctly and only then look up an answer, it is not a DNF in my book.

AW 12:49 PM  

Finished the puzzle, read the review and the comments, and still no "Aha!" moment. All that work to create a nonsensical phrase like "water closet field" or "politically correct lab"? What's the point? Count me among the clueless.

Russell 12:53 PM  

This is a true nerd quibble, but ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO (i.e. AM Radio) should not be connected to the “Morning Zoo” format of wacky on-air hijinks. That format was born (and still exists today) pretty much exclusively on FM radio. I guess “Farty Marsupial Radio” wouldn’t be quite as elegant.

Andrew Heinegg 12:55 PM  

I thought it was a reasonably easy and enjoyable Sunday ride but, I was given a dnf ticket by Antimeridiemradio. I am also of the belief that 102d should always be clued as 'SATAN'.

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  


fun theme.


Anonymous 2:14 PM  

==the urgency in closing the gender gaps in crossword constructing and editing==


==referencing a legendary actress by her accolades and not just [Bond girl]==

[Bond girl] *is* the accolade. A co-star, with [Bond] and [Bond villain], in one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.

How painful it must be to go through life in constant search for a hill to die on.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Dr. Mom? WTF?

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

@Tony: Yep you're missing something all right.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@joe seems to feel he is the self-appointed moderator of these comments. Poor guy. I loved the mini commentary Erik.

MetroGnome 2:54 PM  

What does ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO have to do with a zoo?

. . . and is there really such a thing as a "P.C. LAB"?

Meg Greer 2:56 PM  

Many may not remember when Sony’s video recording technology, Blu-ray, lost the video cassette wars, to what-was-then-called VCR. Sony’s machines were more expensive, without an obvious quality advantage. When DVD players came out, Sony again was battling for primacy against the format HD DVD, and this time they won. We say DVD rather than DVR, because the cheapest $50 DVD players did not record. They did have Blu-ray playback, however.

Meg Greer 3:04 PM  

Before PCs became ubiquitous, they literally were housed in laboratories. For example, there would be a big room in the library at your college where you could go to use a computer. In those days, PCs were an out-of-reach luxury for many people.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Nice puzzle overall. I liked it. Got the long horizontals pretty quickly. Got most of the proper nouns, too. Eric’s plug for womyn constructors was long overdue. Really cool!

aknapp 3:08 PM  

Was anyone else's enjoyment tempered by the fact that the puzzle contains 16 answers that are themselves abbreviations (and clued as such) plus 3 others (URLS, HDDVD, ALLNBATEAM) that are or contain abbreviations? Given the theme, that seems like a lot of non-unabbreviated abbreviations!

Masked and Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Yeah, yeah ... OK. Give m&e one last chance …

{Make-out barge drawn by Clydesdales?} = *

Desperate M&A


Anonymous 3:14 PM  

Trump appointees: Diplomatic Corps Comics.

JC66 3:21 PM  

@Anon 2:44

@Joe D is just expressing what is the expected courteous behavior on this blog. "Don't talk about other puzzles in a way that will spoil it for those who haven't done it yet."


None of the themers contain abbreviations, so having abbreviations elsewhere in the grid didn't bother me.

Unknown 3:39 PM  

Seriously? We have to close the gender gap in crossword construction? Did it ever occur to you that fewer women summit puzzles?
Does every imbalance between the sexes have to be addressed...Good Lord!

Uncle Alvarez 3:57 PM  

Nobody tells me what to do, including Joe D.

Nancy 4:04 PM  

@GILL (12:10) -- I heard that once you saw JAWS, you would never want to go in the ocean again. And thus I made very sure never, ever to see JAWS. Hate to tell you, but I've been swimming in the ocean for decades, JAWS! Hahaha.

I heard back when I was in high school that if I ever saw Psycho, I'd be afraid to shower for the rest of my life. So I've never seen Psycho and I can shower just fine, thank you very much. One less Psycho victim, n'est-ce-pas?

Ever since I was taken to The Wizard of Oz at age 4 or 5 and had nightmares from it (think it might have been caused by the scene of the Lion in the poppy field, but I'm not sure) I have made it my Life's Work to avoid Movies That Scare You to Death. There are so many wonderful emotions that movies can engender, but fear isn't one of them. I love suspense movies, just as long as they're not gory. Some of my favorite movies of all time: Dial M for Murder; Rear Window; Notorious; To Catch a Thief; North by Northwest; The Lady Vanishes; Strangers on a Train. Suspense up the wazoo, but not a single scene where you have to close your eyes because the images are so grotesque and disturbing.

A then-boyfriend took me to The Birds early in its run. He said: "Do you want to see the new Hitchcock?" "I'd love to," I said. After I saw it -- leading to a period of more than a year where I flinched and cowered and cringed and ducked every time a bird flew anywhere near me -- I said to him: "Did you know what this movie was going to be like???" "Of course," he said. Well why didn't you tell me??? I asked. "Because I knew you wouldn't go," he said.

He became my ex-boyfriend soon thereafter. But seriously, GILL -- why do you, why does anyone, do these things to themselves?

Good ol' Joe 4:18 PM  

Well they probably don’t exist anymore but when PCs were new and expensive universities put a bunch in a room for student use or to do computer science homework and called them PC Labs.

MissPriss 4:25 PM  

Would love to have had clue for Daddy-O be Frankie’s name for Annette’s dad? ;)

Sandy McCroskey 4:28 PM  

Why did JANE PAULEY give you any grief, if you worked acrosses-only, Erik?

RooMonster 4:53 PM  

Hey All !
Wow, lots of opinions both ways for this puz. I'll just say, I liked it, and took me a bit to see theme. Was looking for a rebus initially, as some of the clues seemed to want a two-letter square. Example: 16D, Word before pan or after Spanish - aMEri(ca), 121D, That:Sp. (Es)SA, 7D, HAW denizen, pO(Oh). There were a few others, but eventually got it at PS I LOVE YOU. And nice to have my original ROO that I wrote in! :-)

Paging Dr. MOM, please let this clue/answer/whatever-the-hell-it-is go away. HINT HINT


Anonymous 5:11 PM  

of what importance is it that few woman are interested in creating crossword puzzles? Shall we put everyone in Maoist uniforms and punish women if not enough of them create puzzles? Or, perhaps, it’s then men who should quit writing so we can attain balance?

kitshef 5:49 PM  

@Mohair Sam 11:02 - Eunice Gayson was the first Bond girl, and Urusula Andress the first really famous one. Honor Blackman was in Goldfinger, the third movie and depending how you count them, the third or the eighth.

Bondfan 6:22 PM  

Despite the feminist tone of today's blog, it should be pointed out that Honor Blackman's character in Goldfinger was named Pussy Galore. I know, can you believe that? Look it up if you doubt.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

AVX and Crosswords with Friends constantly puffs out their chests about how actively they work to overcome the gender disparity, yet neither can crack even the 30% mark.

Why aren't women contributing more to publications that specifically make it a priority to publish women? The answer to that question is the answer to the big question at hand.

Erik and others have implied for years that it's a gender bias issue, and have accused Shortz and other editors of having this bias. Shortz has been directly called a sexist on this blog. Interestingly, white liberal men are the loudest voices claiming editorial sexism. The answer, it appears, isn't a tyrannical sexist plot against women. It appears that women, in general, simply do not write crosswords at the same prolific pace as men.
Occams razor, rather than evil, malicious, sexist crossword editors.

Joe Dipinto 6:49 PM  

@Uncle Alvarez -- I've told you what to do numerous times in our 36d sessions. Now go clean out the litter box and you will be rewarded later. ;-)

Bob Mills 6:58 PM  

Very good Sunday puzzle. Solved it without knowing the theme, then I saw "W.C. Fields" and it was clear. Lots of fun.

QuasiMojo 7:01 PM  

@Nancy 4:04PM, loved your list of fave movies. I would add The 39 Steps. Re: "Jaws" -- You didn't miss much, trust me.

Unknown 7:34 PM  

Hi Tom,

I wonder why you would like Erik to go away just because his humor is not on your wavelength. Such an oddly hostile comment just because you don’t get his sense of humor.

Normally, if someone’s humor is not on your wavelength, you have the option of just not reading the post.

GILL I. 8:03 PM  

@Nancy: I lived for scary - seconds after screaming my head off and getting the first adrenaline rush of my youth after watching "Creature Of the Black Lagoon." I was young. I loved the feeling of being spooked. Then, along came "The Shrinking Man" and probably followed by "The Fly." All made my hair stand on end. In my adult years, "The Shinning" almost did me in but not to EVER BE OUTDONE by my all-time favorite, knock down can't sleep for years, Polanski's "Repulsion." Today, I might not scream with horror as I did in my youth, but man, I saw "Repulsion" when I was about 24 or so - in Spain- and my sister, my mother and I, all slept in the same bed for weeks.
It's fun...Try it some time. :-)

Nancy 9:03 PM  

@GILL -- Are you kidding me? NEVER!!!!!!!!! Getting pleasure from being scared to death has always seemed beyond weird to me. Just don't get it at all and never will. Nevertheless, we still agree on food, libation, and dogs :)

Matt 9:10 PM  

It's cute to see anyone accuse Erik of poor form

Nancy 9:49 PM  

@Quasi -- The 39 Steps is not only a fave I forgot to mention, but has the most shocking, chilling, and completely unexpected line of any movie I've ever seen. The hairs on the back of my neck literally stood up when I heard/saw it. If I put it in context or mention the scene, it would be a spoiler for someone who hasn't seen the film, but if I quote the line out of context, I don't think I'm giving anything away. The line: Are you quite sure it's not this one?" You know what I'm alluding to, right?

mjddon 9:59 PM  

Yes, remember when George Bush said “they misunderestimated me”?

GILL I. 10:03 PM  

@Nancy....And handsome men!

Joe 10:06 PM  

Thanks, Erik, for the news about the gender gap in puzzle authorship. I mean, like, why? This not the NFL.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

No need for the nod to women (I am one and have 3 daughters). No need for crossword puzzle gender equality. I want a reasonably challenging and clever puzzle and do not care one iota as to the sex of the creator. Didn’t love this puzzle. Theme answers didn’t all jive. Physical therapy boats for sailors and PT boats jived but water closet fields and W. C. Fields did not. Not a satisfactory puzzle for us OCD puzzlers. Figured out the connection between AM and ante meridien but couldn’t for the life of me determine what the answer had to do with zoos until I read the comments. Okay so I learned something new.

thefogman 12:51 PM  

I had a late start and just finished this one. I found it one of the hardest Sunday puzzles to solve in quite some time. DNF'd because I went with ANTEMERIDIan and nEATo/WHAMMo. I liked it in spite of my DNF.

Unknown 12:19 AM  

Got it. Not that hard. Ante meridiem was the kicker.

Mary Anne 10:06 AM  

Please don't bring such a nasty attitude to a friendly crossword blog! Sheesh.

Mary Anne 10:08 AM  


Anonymous 3:20 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle overall.

Erik, if you solved only with acrosses (bravo) how did you get crossed up at JANE PAULEY and HDDVD?

Burma Shave 9:57 AM  


The SANDM FETISH JOY, my teacher, had
was ISANE and SICK and ILL and just BAD.


Diana,LIW 10:30 AM  

Today is Sunday - May 6. Have not looked at puz as of yet. Just here to say I'm in a much better mood than yesterday - perhaps I was harsh.

Today is Bloomsday and the 12 - K race. Running with a Futurelander today - Ms. @Teedmn. I'm pretty sure she's gonna win. See y'all later.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and the Starting Line

rondo 11:22 AM  

Everything was filling in, so WATERCLOSETFIELDS gave the HINT away early. There seemed to be an abundance of threes and lotsa abbr.s. And an ampersandwich to boot.

Where to start? This puz YIELDS RUTH and JOY and SONIA and EMMA and ANNA and EVA and RENATA and VAL and SADE and JANEPAULEY and MIAHAMM, but right there in the 69 position it HASTOBE Bond girl and yeah baby LANA Wood.

Not a very MEATY puz, and so this puzzling DAY ENDS. Book ‘em DANO.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

I also struggled w/ 61a- had ella for emma and I still do not get the answer to 117a- it makes NO sense. 115 d and 118 d were just dumb and weird. got the rest of the theme ones pretty quick. Still not entirely on board w/ the the theme or the theme answers. Thought title was just cryptic. and I saw no relation to the answers. But there were some clever clues/ answers. and that is the only reason I found this puzzle ok.

spacecraft 12:57 PM  

I cannot believe that so many people liked this! I think it's one of the worst puzzles that ever marred a Sunday crossword page. Two Greek letters with circular clues? Common core = EMS? And that most horrible ampersandwich? The form is bad enough, but the subject: it's hard to believe that ANYONE exists who thinks there's not already enough pain in the world. Bah! The FCC shoulda stopped this!

The theme did not impress, and as for the fill, well, there's more but I'm tired of list-making. I second the nomination of LANA Wood and move that the nominations be closed. Double-bogey.

rondo 2:42 PM  

@anon 11:50 - ANTE MERIDIAN is abbreviated as A.M. as in the morning. The "Morning Zoo" is/was a popular morning radio show, or at least a generic term for those wacky A.M. shows we all love to hate. Thus A.M. RADIO.

rondo 2:44 PM  

As noted above A.M. for RADIO is Amplitude Modulation

rainforest 2:52 PM  

I liked this puzzle just fine, thank you very much. I stalled in the North trying to figure out the themer, so went to the South, and quickly got ANTE MERIDIEM RADIO, which I thought was pretty funny.

Working up the grid, I found the fill to be good, and the cluing just about right.

At the last two schools where I worked, they each had a Mac lab and a PC lab and a laptop portable lab. 'Course that was 10 years ago, so I have no idea how current PC lab is.

WATER CLOSET FIELDS was just plain funny.

The so-called "ampersandwich" seems to irk some commenters. I don't know how else to get that common phrase into a grid. It's pretty clear to what it refers. Speaking of common, I thought the clue "common core" was a beauty. The only thing is, I think I'm totally onto these self-referential clues, and they are tending to the banal. That doesn't take anything away from this puzzle. If your construction entails getting EMS into the grid, "common core" is way better than "Dorothy's Aunt and others", or, "some dashes". Too small a point for me to go on like this, but so be it.

AnonymousPVX 5:39 PM  

I thought this quite crunchy and rather difficult.

Eric Selje 10:26 AM  

I don't understand the impulse to get scurrilous when you don't understand the clue or think it's not a real expression. These are real learning opportunities to figure out something from another angle, and I for one welcome them.

Anonymous 11:29 PM  

There will be more women constructors when more women care about being constructors. Maybe they have better things to do ?

Carl 3:01 PM  

On the woman theme....I like that there were two first names on the Supreme Court, and for a change it was not the typical one that I've seen in recent crosswords....and all three are women!

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