Festival of Colors celebrant / SUN 7-22-18 / Former QB Tony / Big Ten anthropomorphic nut / Rockettes motions / Bikini blast / Marshal Dillon / City Missouri Council Bluffs / Golden calf Exodus / Frederick Forsyth File / Villagers victimized Grinch

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: 16:19 (Note: This week, I'm going to share my times, instead of rating the puzzles, and you can infer from there)

THEME: "Movie 'M*A*S*H' 'Up'" — Two one-word movie titles are stuck together to make a wacky plot description of a third movie.

Word of the Day: GESTALT (27A: The forest, as opposed to the trees) —
Gestalt psychology or gestaltism (/ɡəˈʃtɑːlt, -ˈʃtɔːlt, -ˈstɑːlt, -ˈstɔːlt/; from German: Gestalt [ɡəˈʃtalt] "shape, form") is a philosophy of mind of the Berlin School of experimental psychology. Gestalt psychology is an attempt to understand the laws behind the ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. The central principle of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms a global whole with self-organizing tendencies. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Rex is away on a well-deserved vacation; I (Laura) will be here through next Saturday. Think of me as Rex's MALEFICENT PERSONA or GHOST AVATAR or CLUELESS SHARKNADO.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: "Anchorman" = ? (1976) + (1980): NETWORK FAME
  • 28A: "Rear Window" = ? (2004) + ? (2014): SAW NEIGHBORS
  • 44A: "Silence of the Lambs" = ? (1946) + ? (1960): NOTORIOUS PSYCHO
  • 68A: "Transformers" = ? (2000) + ? (1992): TRAFFIC TOYS
  • 77A: "Jurassic Park" = ? (1997) + ? (1975): TITANIC JAWS
  • 98A: "Twister" = ? (2004) + ? (2013): SIDEWAYS GRAVITY
  • 115A: "Dumb and Dumber" = ? (2007) + ? (1979): SUPERBAD HAIR
  • 125A: "The Poseidon Adventure" = ? (1956) + ? (1984): GIANT SPLASH
I enjoyed this very much, and even though I solved it on my phone during the set break at a concert (Guster with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra; they were awesome!), it flowed pretty quickly, because a) movie names/trivia are my thing; b) I very much like (and like to make) theme-types where you take a category and stick the names of things in that category together to make new, funny things. My primary beef with this set is that the theme entries could apply to many other movies; it's almost arbitrary which movies the constructor or editor(s) decided to clue for each M*A*S*H (1970) Up (2009). Like ... okay, SAW NEIGHBORS is a pretty succinct plot summary for Rear Window, I'll grant you that, but how many movies have a NOTORIOUS PSYCHO in them? Many movies. At the very least, all the Fridays the 13th. (Also, plenty of Hitchcock in this grid, not that I'm complaining). And GIANT SPLASH could summarize pretty much any movie in which something unpleasant happens to a cruise ship. Does a tornado (subject of the 1996 film Twister) really have SIDEWAYS GRAVITY? Because that would be cool (in the sense of interesting; not that I'd want to experience it personally).

2008 + 2015 + 1944 + 1996 = July 22-28, 2018
Fill-wise, not much gave me trouble, though the NE was the last to fall; somehow I wanted [34A: Best in mental competition]: OUTWIT to be an adjective (i.e. ___EST rather than a verb). Funny story about [106A: Frederick Forsyth's "The ___ File"]: ODESSA. I tried to put IPCRESS here -- though The Ipcress File is a spy novel by Len Deighton published ten years earlier; many spy novels are entitled The Something File, or The Whatever Conundrum, or The [insert European city here] Connection. The spy novel is a genre I have tried repeatedly and failed to get into; some years ago I was reading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (John LeCarre, 1974). I complained to a friend that even though I could absorb fantasy sagas that ran to thousands of pages and took up entire endcap displays at Borders, and remember who all the different dynasties were, and which alien lifeform was feuding with which magic school fraternity, I tried to read one spy novel and got utterly confused trying to remember who all the characters were and whether they were the mole. "So you're saying," responded my friend, "That you'd've liked that book better had it been titled Hobbit Wookiee Direwolf Borg?" Yes. Yes, I would.

  • [1A: Festival of Colors celebrant]: HINDU — The Festival of Colors, or Holi, happens every spring (in 2018 it was on March 1 & 2) and celebrates not only the return of spring, but the repair of broken relationships.
  • [17D: Silents star whose name is an anagram of 112-Down]: Pola NEGRI began appearing in films in Berlin in the 1920s; she moved to Hollywood and specialized in femme fatale roles. She returned to Germany in the 1930s and starred in a few sound films, and was rumored to be a favorite of a certain dictator. She came back to Hollywood as the Nazis rose to power and had a few cameos, but mostly retired from film after the 1940s.  
  • [45D: Without a contract]: ON SPEC — Most crossword puzzles are submitted to editors ON SPEC. There are probably fewer than ten constructors who work full-time, on contract, only making puzzles (and not, say, also as editors of other folks' puzzles).
Thanks folks! I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your server.

Signed, Laura, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:59 AM  

Was a very very easy for me. A like a little more challenge in a Sunday puzzle.

jayhawkprof 1:05 AM  

Ugh! This was not a Sunday; virtually no challenge. More like a Monday or Tuesday. Sundays should make us stop and think.

Dolgo 1:58 AM  

The theme answers were kinds cute, but most of the time it wss just a matter of filling in the spaces.

Mike in Mountain View 2:02 AM  

Welcome, Laura. Love your MASH-UP showing that you are filling in for Rex this week.

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

Was pretty easy once I got the theme, but had "plastic" toys for the longest time which I would argue makes more sense than Traffic, but probably wasn't actually a movie.

Ken Freeland 2:13 AM  

Best NYT Sunday puzzle in a long time! Many clever fill clues. Glad that Rex seems to have liked it as much as I did!

Ken Freeland 2:19 AM  

Oops, now see that Laura, not Rex, did the review. Nice going, Laura!
✌ Ken

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

Since when is BAMA the name of a school? Maybe a school briefly?

I was sure the Irish singer was Bono. After I finally let go of that, things fell into place.

Trombone Tom 2:58 AM  

Did this while watching the Giants lose to the A's (After a meltdown by Mad Bum in the 5th). Not much to say. It was an interesting theme, but nothing comes to mind as a really remarkable clue. I second Anonymous (12:59)'s opinion.

Tony 3:53 AM  

SIDEWAYS GRAVITY seems to fit The Poseidon Adventure better than Twister.

chefwen 4:02 AM  

Pretty easy here also. Puzzle partner kinda mopey that I didn't need his input.

Only one write over torch over knife at 38D.

Anonymous 4:46 AM  

why is "Shower of the Way" an Arrow?

Hungry Mother 5:01 AM  


'merican in Paris 6:05 AM  

Sheesh, I S'POSE I'm still at the bottom of the minor leagues of NYT puzzle solving. I thought this one provided a good work-out. Took me some 87 minutes, or 5.3 Lauras.

The theme was not tricky, but it was A LOT of fun. I was afraid at first that it would require all kinds of arcane knowledge about M*A*S*H, but instead it required merely some familiarity with generally well-known films.

Kudos to Patrick Merrell also for largely clean fill. No CHAOS

There was one clue (6D: "Target for an angry Chihuahua" -- answer: ANKLE -- that made me laugh out loud. And, because it occurred early on in the puzzle, it put me in a good mood. I trust that one will end up on @Lewis's list of best clues of the week.

The deep SW gave me the most problem. I got in LISP at 126A, and then started checking the downs. I wonder how many other people experienced a moment of DOUBT at 108D ("Protruding part of the body"), wondering whether the correct answer really would be penIs. At least that would be something common to roughly 50% of the population (i.e., excluding GIRLY MOMS). OUTIEs, by contrast, comprise only 4% of the population. Just sayin'.

That King David was a SUPER BAD dude. Kills his benefactor, King Saul, and Saul's son (a former close friend). He later kills Uriah the Hittite to facilitate his affair Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. But he did, at least, bequeath us PSALMs.

OUI, CHER amis.

Charles Flaster 6:07 AM  

Loved the theme and a quick solve. Of all movies that are mentioned, REAR WINDIW was the most entertaining for me.
ON SPEC was my favorite clue.
Thanks PM

Susan 6:20 AM  

Claire, an arrow shows you the way. It is a show-er, not shower🚿 as in what you take in the morning. I read that wrong a few times myself.

Lewis 6:22 AM  

@laura -- Informative review with personality. I'm looking forward to the week ahead with you! You mentioned spy novels. I rarely read them, but I just finished "Red Sparrow" (2013), and found it hard to put down, it's a good one.

This puzzle takes the idea of another Sunday puzzle (7/17/16) one step farther. In that puzzle, two movie titles were mashed together, and the clues were "Double feature about [insert description]". For example, FORZEN WATERWORLD was clued "Double feature about the Arctic Ocean?" In today's puzzle, instead of a literal description in the clue, the movie title mashup describes another movie -- clever!

Some fun pairs in the grid: KENYA near ENYA, ALAMO sharing the grid with a backward AHAMO, and IOU crossing OUI. My favorite theme answer was SUPERBAD HAIR. I still can't get Jim Carrey's haircut in "Dumb and dumber" out of my memory, hard as I try.

JOHN X 6:29 AM  

This was a very nice puzzle and I liked the theme. It was fun. I completed it in 28 minutes but I was baked. One corner seemed to hold out although I can't remember which one.

Taffy-Kun 6:32 AM  

Arrow showing direction

Small Town Blogger 6:37 AM  

Because arrows usually show people the way, like which direction to go in.

David 6:46 AM  

Anonymous Claire, "shower" is apparently a made-up word based on the verb "show". The key should have been "shows or showed or showing the way" if it were in standard English. At least that's my guess.

kitshef 6:51 AM  

Another weak Sunday. Clues without imagination or trickery meant basically, this was just filling in answers, skipping over the themers until the downs made it obvious, and periodically being irritated by the likes of ROLLS BY, A TEN, S’POSE, LIFTS OUT, MAJOR IN, SHOT FOR … probably missed a few.

On the plus, side, I knew all the movies except for TOYS, and liked quite a lot of them. Not TRANSFORMERS, though. That was execrable. Also, NEIGHBORS should be the 1981 Belushi vehicle.

Ken Wurman 6:59 AM  

Easiest Sunday puzzle of the year. Really no trouble spots. Theme answer were just ok

puzzlehoarder 7:03 AM  

I did this on my phone last night in 28:23, which for me is flying. Without having seen the puzzles' title I immediately got the theme because the fill had no resistance. A cute theme but a boring solve.

mathgent 7:05 AM  

@kitshef (10:21, yesterday) and JC66 (12:40, yesterday): Thanks for answering my question about online solving. Very clear descriptions.

Mark N 7:07 AM  

I think this was my fastest Sunday ever - maybe I should solve early in the morning more often!
Only hiccup was an initial SLUR for "Sylvester's speech feature", thinking of Stallone before the toon.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

@Anon 2:04, Plastic, the movie https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2556874/

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

@Anon 2:38 the "Tide" in "Roll Tide!" is a shortening of the school's nickname "Crimson Tide" - that was the clue to use the shortnening of the school's name "Alabama," giving 'Bama.

Hoary Marmot 7:50 AM  

Smart questions and answers like this are the reason I come to this blog.

Amy 7:56 AM  

If I apply the usual ratio of my time to Rex’s time, I would estimate Rex would finish this puzzle in about 15 seconds.

Teedmn 8:01 AM  

A super fast Sunday here - about ten minutes faster than my usual randomized solve. I had almost no write-overs (sOHO before NOHO, DiTzY before DOTTY) and knew most of the movie titles. My favorite themers were TITANIC JAWS and GIANT SPLASH. A couple of cute clues, "Target for an angry Chihuahua" and "Travel, as thou might" but this was pretty straightforward.

Clean for a Sunday, so a nice job, Patrick Merrell.

Bill Weeden 8:09 AM  

My favorite moment was “Superbad Hair.”

Nancy 8:27 AM  

What a mixed bag of theme answers. There were some that were right on the money and very clever: NOTORIOUS PSYCHO; GIANT SPLASH; TITANIC JAWS; and my two faves -- SAW NEIGHBORS and SIDEWAYS GRAVITY.

But what to make of TRAFFIC TOYS and SUPERBAD HAIR? Regarding the latter, which supposedly represents "Dumb and Dumber": Yes, I can certainly imagine waking up on a Bad Hair Day and thinking: "I feel so ugly right now that I don't want anyone to see me." But I can't imagine saying: "I feel so dumb right now that I'd better not take that Math test." What does the state of one's hair have to do with one's intelligence? Weird.

A few of the 2000-era movies I didn't know, but they were fairly crossed. Normally I don't like themes based on pop culture, but this one was cute and amusing. And most of it worked. But not all of it, alas.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

Thank you Laura, though part of me is curious how Rex would have described it (though I can imagine ;-). For me the fill was remarkably easy (that's an observation, not a boast), and the themers were mediocre. I don't time myself but it felt like about 15 minutes. I too like more challenge on a Sunday but I SPOSE it's good to vary the difficulty, whether that's intentional or not.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

@'merican in Paris I think you have your history a little confused. King Saul and son died in battle. David did not kill them. In the case of Bathsheba's husband, though, he did act evilly. I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it was a clever gimmick. It did seem quite easy. I don't think you have to know a lot of movie trivia as the crosses seem to uncover the titles quite well.

Nancy 8:41 AM  

Laura -- You had me at GHOST AVATAR. And so I hung around. What a delightful, consistently interesting and engaging write-up. I seldom read any of them, but I found yours SUPERgood. Looking forward to the rest of the week, guest blogger-wise.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Loved the puzzle... but had trouble with movie titles....

oscargamble 8:57 AM  

Guster! Love them

Birchbark 9:12 AM  


SIDEWAYS GRAVITY is my favorite answer -- sort of M.C. Escherish.

GOO GOO seems like two bits of baby talk rather than one. But that is likely a matter of editorial judgment, so STET.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

BAMA is the University of Alabama, the Crimson Tide.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Rarely finish a Sunday these days because at some point it feels likes a waste of time (I hope I get over that feeling), but this flowed like a giant Monday and skewed old, so tada!

Unknown 9:46 AM  

Although I frequently come here just to lambaste Rex for his negative attitude…today I was SO looking forward to his rip of this one. Omg, what an uninspired, tepid, juvenile effort. The theme was SO vanilla. And the fill...oy, the fill. The rare moments I struggled a bit...I'd get an answer that would allow me to get two, three, four others. Frequently without re-checking the clues. As someone else noted...this was a Monday level puzzle on a Sunday.

Suzie Q 10:48 AM  

If you feel like I do about Sundays in general as a day to rest the mind and body then puzzles like this fit the bill.
My biggest laugh was seeing Elam clued as Jack! Just yesterday I was moaning because Elam was in the grid clued as an ancient region of SW Iran. Nice of Jack to show up today.

Ruth F 10:55 AM  

I found the puzzle extremely enjoyable, both the theme and the cluing. This may be because marijuana is now legal in my State. I must admit to a heightened solving experience.

nyc_lo 11:10 AM  

Just over my personal best time on this one (24:13). Should have liked it more than I did, being a huge movie fan, but I found the themers pretty clunky. About halfway through, my only thought was “Man, Rex is really going to tee off on this one!” I’ll just have to imagine his spleen, I guess (but nice write-up anyway!).

RooMonster 11:12 AM  

Hey All !
Sometimes SunPuzs that are easy are a welcome relief. At least to me, as the ole brain didn't have a CLUELESS CLUE. Just three writeovers, USOshow-USOTOUR, IBexES-IBISES, ISiT-ISNT. Left out the D/M of OSCAR NOD/M til the cross.

Puz not A TEN, but still fun to OUTWIT it as it doesn't SAPS my OLDIES mind.

LOL at @'mericans Protruding body part as penis, because I was thinking the same thing! Har. I only had the I at the time. Talk about A BEAUTIFUL MIND TRIGGER.


Rob 11:14 AM  

I get why the themers are mash-ups, but not why they're M*A*S*H-ups. Also, NETWORK FAME is... not a thing people say, easily the worst themer and it's the first one you're likely to hit.

I didn't care for this one but maybe if there's more to the theme than I'm seeing I'll feel differently.

Gulliver Foyle 11:18 AM  

Breezed through until I disappointedly dnf'ed on the second eastside block because (a) CHAOS doesn't occur to me as a synonym for mayhem; (b) I don't watch Fox News; and (c) "split base" was a brilliant punning clue, way too brilliant for my small mind.

Fun write-up, Laura, thanks!

GILL I. 11:35 AM  

Ay...I kept wondering what @Rex would have said about today's (what felt to me) oldy moldy puzzle. DANG. But we got a very nice review from @Laura, instead. Liked the review better than the puzzle.
My used to be favorite day of puzzledom is still the same slog that it has been for years now. I keep yearning for La Liz.
Today's cluing was just so, so, boring....Apt radio call letters for a beach town? WAVY? Ok. Three men IN A TUB...wow and they sit underneath OBESE. And so it went.
GESTALT clue threw me a bit. " The forest, as opposed to the trees." GESTALT was everywhere in San Francisco in the 70's. Everyone had angst about their self esteem and seemed to relish re-enacting the moment and freely discuss how it feels to ANYBODY who even cared to listen. I had a boyfriend who once was a decent civil rights lawyer but he got into all the psychiatry craze of the time. He decided to change careers and get into Rolfing. What a gig.
I guess I liked TITANIC JAWS. JAWS scared me silly. What a way to decide to never go swimming in the ocean again. I was one of the few in my strange family of friends who loved TITANIC. I'm a sucker for romance and death.
I thought Cracker Jacks are popcorn covered in caramel...they're PEANUTS?

QuasiMojo 11:39 AM  


I loved the concept but not having seen half of the more recent films, I was stymied at times. There is a film called SUPERBAD? What are TRANSFORMERS?

LAURA, I PRESUME, is a much better flick than REX. It's the VISION thing... Just sayin'...

Recently re-watched "The Poseidon Adventure." The original one with Shelley Winters making a GIANT SPLASH. I was shocked by how boring it was. 90% of it takes place in a cheap set made to look like the underbelly of a boat. Which reminds me, I thought "not on deck" referred to "tars" being below deck. I struggled finding the correct term for that, making up GOO GOO words such as AVAST, ABEAM and ABAFT, to no AVAIL. Is there a one syllable word for being below deck?

Laura, I agree with you that spy novels are dull beyond belief, but sadly I feel the same way about fantasy tales. Give me a good mystery OLDIE anytime. THE THIN MAN for instance. Read the book if you haven't, it OUTWITs the movie.

Here's my weak attempt at a M*A*S*H UP:


Unknown 11:39 AM  

Is it just that I’m old enough to have seen almost all of the movies but didn’t you pay any attention to the dates? The first part of the movie answer refers to a movie shown on the first date, the second part of the movie answer refers to the movie shown on the second date, I.e., 77: Titanic (1997) and Jaws (1975).

JC66 11:48 AM  


thought of you and smiled when I saw ELAM today.

OISK 11:50 AM  

Easiest Sunday of recent memory. Never heard of some of the movies, but that really didn't matter. Nothing more to say, so I'll take this opportunity to grouse once more about "SXSW." (Thursday.) That has appeared at least three times. Twice it has cost me a DNF. STOP IT! Obscure acronyms can ruin an entire puzzle by making a clean solve impossible! South by South West. (almost a movie title!) I'm trying to memorize that, as I did with NAS and NWA and IMDB...

TubaDon 11:57 AM  

     Another late paper delivery so I was munching my mid-morning cheese snacks as I solved. One of the easiest Sundays I've seen. Started with OBOES (my second favorite orchestra sectiion) and proceeded apace. Every guess worked–no erasures! (You can probably guess my favorite orchestra section.) Can't match you speed-solvers times, but a half-hour was quick for me.

JC66 11:58 AM  


How about just BELOW?

Joseph Michael 12:02 PM  

Unlike most Sunday puzzles, this one held my interest from beginning to end.

Theme concept is clever but I would have liked the execution to be more consistent. A themer might describe the subject of the clue (NOTORIOUS PSYCHO, TRAFFIC TOYS, SIDEWAYS GRAVITY), or only a certain physical part of the subject (TITANIC JAWS, SUPERBAD HAIR), or the subject’s possible aspiration (NETWORK FAME), or one of the subject’s actions (SAW NEIGHBORS), or in one case only a related sound effect (GIANT SPLASH). Liked it best when the subject itself was being described.

Thought the fill was solid and pretty easy except for some challenges in the middle. Had PAGAN before AARON and GINS before RYES and thought that the JACK from old Westerns might be FLAP as in FLAPJACK.

Overall, good work, as to be expected from Patrick Merrell.

Ginny 12:26 PM  

@Nancy- The two main characters in "Dumb and Dumber" have notably SUPER BAD HAIR. I thought it was a poor themer though because, unlike with the other themers, that's not what the movie is about at all.

pabloinnh 12:40 PM  

Hola @GILL I-I probably won't be the first to point out that Cracker Jacks are not PEANUTS, but there are some random peanuts in a CJ box. Also used to be a "prize"; the last few I ever saw were those cheap little tattoo transfer things. Some prize.

My favorite was SIDEWAYS GRAVITY, which I realize is kind of impossible, but I wish it were playing at a theater near me. I'd go see it right now.

Really easy for a Sunday but some stuff that made me smile, and I'll take that.

Adam 12:40 PM  

I thought the puzzle was okay. Not great. And why call it a "M*A*S*H" "UP" - why not a MASH-UP, since NONE OF THE THEME ANSWERS HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE MOVIE M*A*S*H??!!! On Sunday I generally expect the title of the puzzle to convey information about the puzzle; this title did no such thing, and I kept thinking I was missing something, which took away some of the pleasure of the solve for me.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@Adam Frank et al., M*A*S*H is a movie. UP is a movie. That's why they're both in quotes in the puzzle's title.

RooMonster 1:10 PM  

To those who didn't grasp the Puz Title - it also is Two Movies together, M*A*S*H and Up. (Remember Up? The floating house, with Ed Answer as the voice of the old man, been a clue in a few puzs.) Hence the quotation marks, and no hyphen.

RooMonster Help Desk

QuasiMojo 1:23 PM  

@JC66, works for me!

michiganman 1:42 PM  

It's interesting, if not disturbing, that so many are obsessed with "What Rex would think".

From Wikipedia-Cracker Jack is an American brand of snack consisting of molasses-flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts, well known for being packaged with a prize ...

Fun, interesting puzzle for me

The Marcus Chance 2:17 PM  

Hey Laura - welcome to the party. I compulsively read the blog the minute I finish a puzzle.Nice to have a new voice - some Rex can be a bit...whiny ;)

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

If you lived in Baton Rouge you would know why the name is simply and quite universally “Bama.”

Enjoyed the puzzle. Enjoyed finishing it fairly easily. So, why do you guys have to race against the clock?
Doing a crossword is one of the most engrossing yet relaxing pastimes one can imagine. Why ruin it by putting yourself on a time clock???

I say “guys,” and my perception is that the majority who comment are indeed male (I am not, obviously). And so perhaps more competitive in nature.

FLAC 2:49 PM  

Lively (and positive) review of a good puzzle.

BTW, Alan Furst writes historical spy novels, set in Europe just before and during WWII, that are neither dull nor confusing. I think "The Foreign Correspondent" and "The Polish Officer" are especially good.

YBD 3:07 PM  

Look in the book of Samuel (or Google it) - King Saul's son Jonathan was killed in a war with the Philistines, and Saul fell on his sword after being wounded by archers, rather than be captured alive.

sanfranman59 3:15 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:54 4:30 1.09 71.5% Medium-Challenging
Tue 3:40 5:14 0.70 1.8% Very Easy
Wed 12:33 6:45 1.86 99.4% Very Challenging
Thu 9:41 9:46 0.99 49.1% Medium
Fri 11:19 12:35 0.90 40.2% Medium
Sat 27:41 15:59 1.73 96.2% Very Challenging
Sun 13:01 19:43 0.66 6.1% Easy

I got at least a little rise out of the themers here, but it sure wasn't much of a challenge at all. This was my fastest Sunday solve in a year and a half and my 4th fastest of 430 ever. Definitely a Monday- or Tuesday-level Sunday, but I don't mind a walk in the park every now and again and I don't recall much groaning along the way.

My only write-overs were Drat before DANG (15A), aTEST before NTEST (53A ... 50/50 shot for me), buRLY before GIRLY (71D ... doh!), pAgaN before AARON (92A), ginS before RYES (93D ... off the 'g' in pAgaN). For some reason, it took me a while to understand IBARS (135A). We were a Jif family, but I now choose Skippy.

Puzzles with a Beatles reference always score points with me. Thumbs up.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

Remember, the Alamo was located in Mexico. It was occupied by a group of illegal immigrants who wanted to overturn Mexico's laws against slavery so they could become filthy rich growing cotton like they did in 'Bama.

GHarris 3:51 PM  

Even working with pencil on paper this turned out to be an easy trip. Still, it was fun.

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

@pablo. I forgot Cracker Jacks had PEANUTs in them. It's been about, oh, 100 years since I last ate those awful things. I only bought them because I was a patsy for anything that came with a prize in it. So now it's fake tattoos? Such a life.
I meant to add my dislike for the clue for GIRLY...: Not tomboyish. Hah! I guess it's correct in a Terminator Governor sort of way. Ahnold used to call the Democrats in California "Girlie Men" if they didn't approve of his budget. I was the proud badge owner of the tomboy moniker. I earned that badge of honor when I shoved my first boyfriend out of a tree because he refused to kiss me. I could also out-run everybody my age - boy or girl. Even the Bacardi Brothers. Is GIRLY like a BARBIE DOLL?

Hungry Mother 3:59 PM  

Very nice to see MC Escher in a comment today. Reminded of my professor days when I taught interdisiplinary courses at two universities based on Doug Hofstadter’s GEB. As a mathematician I was already aware of Kurt Gödel’s work, but I had lots to learn about Bach’s music and Escher’s art. I bought a lot of music and books of Escher prints. Sometimes I had a couple other professors as a teaching team and sometimes I went it alone. I took a summer of computer science course at my graduate degree alma mater and later a lot more computer science courses while on sabbatical leave at Duke for a semester. I used to teach courses and supervise projects on artificial intelligence, a central issue of GEB. Doug Hoftadter visited my campus once to give a lecture. My chair was intimidated and asked if I could sit with Doug for an hour or so one-on-one. I leapt at the opportunity and had a ball.

Monty Boy 4:13 PM  

I finished in record time for me, but didn't get the "happy tune" reward. I scoured the puzzle for 20 minutes and couldn't find my error, but I KNEW it was all correct. I hit the Check Puzzle button and found out I'd spelled OBESE as 0BESE. My visual check could not tell the difference between oh and zero.

Monty Boy 4:14 PM  

Addendum: Watch your 0's and O's (P's and Q's are easy.

Banana Diaquiri 4:22 PM  


sshhh!!!! we're not supposed to say things like that, these days. there were fine people, many fine people, on both sides. oh, and when they petitioned for statehood, it was because the Republic was bankrupt.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

40 minutes for me which is exactly average for a Sunday puzzle. Interesting how many movies have one word titles. Suorebadhair and Titanicjaws were my favorite answers.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

I'm with you on the Crackerjacks! If they included peanuts, why would the song ask you to "buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks"...?

JC66 5:05 PM  

@Anon 4:45

Because you could buy peanuts and/or Crackerjacks .

pabloinnh 5:06 PM  

@Anonymous 4:45-I bet it's the same reason they ask you to "take me out to the ball game" when you're singing the song at a ball game. Artistic license.

@GILL I-I think the only other so-called prize I can remember was one of those plastic rings that never fit anyone and broke when you tried to get it on a finger. Also, we could have maybe had a race many years ago when we were both speedy. I beat all the guys on my college soccer team when we had the race-to-avoid-wind-sprints thing. Motivation. Also hate "girlie" Never liked being called "sonny", which is the closest male equivalent I can think of.

jberg 5:18 PM  

Got up late, couldn't finish the puzzle before we went out for brunch and a dance performance -- so I just got home, finished it, and came here, very late.

I like movies, I really do, I just never get around to going to them. Of the 24 mentioned here (plus the two in the title), I have seen only Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, Giant, and Psycho.

Everything else has been said already.

Joe 5:30 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. Thought the movie mash-ups were fun. Laura, I had the same problem with IPCRESS and ODESSA as you. Also the first four-lettered single-named Irish singer that comes to my mind is BONO, though I worked out that mistake quickly enough.

Aketi 7:01 PM  

@GILL I, I always thought of Barbie dolls as “womanly” because they actually had pointy breasts like the bras that moms wore when I as a kid. GIRLY dolls were the ones with blond ringlets and long eye lashes and eyes that blinked.

2rite 7:05 PM  

michiganman: Disturbing? It's absolutely horrific to think that the readers of a blog written by Rex Parker and called Rex Parker does the New York Times Puzzle are interested to know what Rex Parker thinks of the puzzle.

Unknown 7:33 PM  

Guster show. Jealous.

GILL I. 7:49 PM  

@Aketi....HAH! Of course:
Marilyn Monroe in "Gentelmen Prefer Blondes"....Womanly
Nellie Olson in "Little House on the Prairie"....GIRLY.
Now I got It. Phew...... ;-)

JC66 8:24 PM  


I wonder how you would've reacted if a man had made @Aketi's point.

JC66 8:26 PM  

No pun intended.

thefogman 9:00 PM  

Meh... Completed without much trouble. I didn't find the theme particularly clever or enjoyable to solve, but that's just me.

thefogman 9:10 PM  

PS - Good thing Rex had the day off. He would have ripped this one to pieces.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

For the record, in case anyone is interested, WAVY 10 is the NBC affiliate in the Norfolk, VA area (Hampton Roads, the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay).

GILL I. 10:15 PM  

@JC66. Good one. I'll raise my HAIG and HAIG to ye... ;-)

ArtO 10:20 PM  

Didn't know all the movies but SAW them through crosses. Forgive the pun but just spent the weekend with a very bad punster.

Thought the theme answers were quite clever. Nice to look forward to less critical write-ups for a week. Have a good vacation, Rex.

JC66 10:27 PM  



Mmajor 10:32 AM  

I’m sorry- read show-er as shower�� the entire time. The puzzle wasn’t difficult but that was the last answer I filled.

Alan_S. 1:03 PM  

No LMS again this Sunday. A sure sign that either the puzzle or Rex's blog is in trouble!
Or both.

Burma Shave 12:48 PM  


"Well, GIRLY, be READY to DROP that DANG last name,
and KENYA lose that DOTTY SLOB from 'Sonny & CHER?"


rainforest 1:13 PM  

Pretty good M*A*S*H - UP today. Loved those two movies, btw.

Basically easy puzzle, with a smile here and there, some good clues, and admirable smoothosity. Definitely not a slog, and quite enjoyable to solve. I noted virtually no -ese, and the fill in general was up to par. Solid GESTALT, and the trees were visible also.

I also noted POSTAL code, which is what we call it in Canada.

spacecraft 1:29 PM  

Pretty easy for a Sunday, not that that's necessarily a bad thing. I liked the theme and execution--even the title is a themer! The fill is about average to good. Some entries necessitate awkward clues: DEWS, GOEST, FINING, MAJORIN. The occasional crutch (NTEST, AAAS) appears, but overall this works.

I recognize SHEPard Smith, but have never seen or heard the lopped-off nickname attributed to him. KENYA is almost directly above ENYA. If there's a one-named singer to receive DOD honors, though, it'll be the timeless wonder CHER. That GIRLY can still TEMPT me. Honorable mention to the new DUCHESS Meghan. Birdie.

Diana,LIW 2:49 PM  

I was zipping along nicely when I came to one area with the SHEP/KENYA cross, and I came "this close" to giving up. A more even head prevailed, and I finished gloriously.

As I solved I was thinking how LMS would love this one with its play on movie mash-ups. Haven't yet read others' comments, so I'll see.

Lovely Sunday for me - hope I'm not the last one to post again!

Diana, Hope you're not waiting for me

AnonymousPVX 6:05 PM  

Fairly clever construction, as much as I dont like themes and gimmicks..,,this one wasn’t bad.

Happy as always to get the solve, not a toughie, but an appropriate Sunday outing.

Ray - O - Sunshine 6:33 PM  

As usual week late in our newspaper. No sure I get the reference to the movie "M*A*S*H?.

rondo 7:40 PM  

@ Ray o' - The title of the puz is also a mash-up of two movie titles, M*A*S*H and Up.

Did this one in 2X OFL, so pretty easy. A self-inflicted write-over having Jack's EL in place and thinking of that E his name starts with filling in eM to finish it. Is there a movie called JeWS?

That NIGER/NEGRI anagram clue is straight from Will's mouth. Guaranteed.

Time once again to share a yeah baby with CHER'

EASY, fun enough, not a rebus. WHO'S complaining?

Unknown 8:11 PM  

Easiest Sunday in years. BTW...Love Guster.

Phillip Blackerby 12:13 PM  

Obviously you haven't bought a box (now they come in bags) of Crackerjacks in quite a while Along with the caramelized popcorn is a handful of caramelized peanuts!

Phillip Blackerby 12:20 PM  

SXSW is one of the biggest annual festivals in the country, with extensive media coverage. It includes music, films, technology and games. If you have any interest in any of these domains you would be familiar with SXSW.

Phillip Blackerby 12:22 PM  

In Rear Window (28A),only one NEIGHBOR was sawn. The plural answer seems to me to be an editing error.

Phillip Blackerby 12:33 PM  

Also, the Texicans were not illegal immigrants; they were legal. Wm. B. Travis had a charter from the Mexican Government to bring in settlers to populate this part of Northern Mexico.

Jackiet 9:29 AM  

Rex would have hated this puzzle.....too easy for Sunday

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