1836 siege setting / SUN 8-26-18 / Standard info on stationery nowadays / Bourbon Street's locale informally / James ___, Belgian painter in the movement Les XX / Italian car informally / Dweller along Bering Sea / Locale for Charlie Chan / City in Iraq's Sunni Triangle

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:50)


THEME: "To The Point" — a puzzle about THE US OPEN Tennis Championship (59A: Annual sporting event that is this puzzle's theme)

Theme answers:
  • ADVANTAGE (23A: Follower of deuce) (it's always AD IN. or AD OUT, never just ADVANTAGE, so ...)
  • LONG RALLY (25A: Lot of back and forth?)
  • HARDCOURT (27A: Alternative to grass)
  • BACKHAND SHOT (43D: One way to answer a server?)
  • GAME SET MATCH (46D: Winning words)
  • ARTHUR ASHE (94A: Stadium name new Citi Field)
  • GRANDSTAND (96A: Spectators' area)
  • QUEENS, NEW YORK (109A: Location of 59-Across)
Word of the Day: EMERSON College (33D: College in Boston) —
Emerson College is a private college in downtown BostonMassachusetts. Founded in 1880 by Charles Wesley Emerson as a "school of oratory," the college offers more than three dozen degree programs in the area of Arts and Communication and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Located in Boston's Washington Street Theatre District on the edge of the Boston Common, the school also maintains buildings in Los Angeles and the town of Well, The Netherlands. (wikipedia)
• • •

Mixed (doubles?) feelings about this one. On the one hand, it's just a bunch of US Open / tennis answers. Nothing particularly ... special about the content. On the other hand, I mostly really liked the fill, which is saying something, given that there are a lot of throwaway 3-letter answers (never very sexy). EXEMPLAR SHOEHORN DERBYWINNER CALLMELATER, all good. And there are intersecting themers, which is always a tough thing to pull off. And hey, there's sort of a picture there, with the four squares that spell out BALL and then the racquet, which I didn't even see until I was finished, but ... [squints at puzzle] ... yeah, that's definitely a racquet. Or "racket." Frankly, neither spelling feels right, but I think that's all the spellings there are so. Take your choice. I had a horrible time getting started (which appears to be recurring theme in my solving life of late), but eventually I took off—after the whole opening NW / N debacle (about which, more below), the only places that slowed me down at all were the far east (ENJOY instead of EAT UP hurt (53D: Relish), and I couldn't get STONY no matter what I did (54D: Rugged, as a landscape)) and the SW (long Downs were rough ... but I very luckily guessed All the short Acrosses correctly on the first try). Started at DITZY (sorry, I mean WOOZY) and ended at SHUSH.

[98A: James ___, Belgian painter in the movement Les XX]

It's so bizarre that I threw down DITZY at 1A: Lightheaded and then confirmed the "Y" *and the "Z"*, which made me pretty damn certain DITZY was right. So when confronted with 3D: Low soccer score with "T" in the first position, I blithely and semi-confidently wrote in TWOONE. I mean ... it's *pretty* low. But things not surprisingly fell apart from there. I got back on the horse in reasonable time, only to fall right back off in the north, where I had either nothing or SORRY for 6D: "Alas ..." (SADLYand then MARS for 7D: One of a well-known septet (ENVY) (how many planets are there again...?) and then woo hoo a gimme with LEN Cariou but then two big whiffs with ESC (instead of ALT) (10D: Computer key) and DRAB (instead of BLAH) (11D: Utterly uninspiring). This left the north a complete wreck. I kind of tripped my way down the west coast, and ended up finding my way into the racket center, which was very easy, and then whoosh, I flew out of there in all directions, the whole bottom of the grid was a blur. I had to go back eventually and pick up the north (the NE I managed to figure out w/ little trouble). Then it was back for my last stand in the SE, where the main problem was parsing THRIVE ON (81D: Do well with). I just couldn't figure out the context for the clue, so I kept wanting ARRIVE ON (which is a phrase, but one that alas, SADLY, has nothing to do with the clue). And that's it. I had more fun than I normally have on Sunday, that much I can say with confidence.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

112 comments:

Patrick O'Connor 12:10 AM  

I also had fun on this one, and I agree that the long answers besides the tennis references had more to do with the pleasure, and that the fill was lively and smooth. Thank you for the They Might Be Giants clip!

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Nil-nil is a high scoring soccer match.

Soccer sucks.

Brian 12:52 AM  

And the racket has just, or is about to hit the ball. Cute.

jae 1:09 AM  

Easy-medium works for me. Pretty ambitious, liked it.

Harryp 1:27 AM  

I know next to nothing about tennis, but appreciate the dedication of pro players. This came in well under my Sunday average. You can be sure that any tennis puzzle in the NYT will include ASHE, and he shows up at 94Across. Fun Puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 1:34 AM  

While I give props to CALL ME LATER and DERBY WINNER, I'm not thrilled that, as non-themers in this puzzle, they are longer than fully six of the ten theme answers. Not to mention that DERBY WINNER foists a completely different sport rather prominently onto the grid.

But otherwise, pretty well done. I like the wrackquette(?) image.

chefwen 1:49 AM  

I’ll bet @Nancy is going to love this one.

After the beating I suffered with Saturday’s puzzle this was a treat. My boyfriend aka husband was number one doubles player throughout high school, so I do know the terminology. Like golf, I can make that sport look like the most difficult thing in the world to do. Not much of a jock I guess.

Loved the clue for FALAFEL.

Clark 1:58 AM  

A lien is not an agreement. A lien can arise from an agreement. A lien can be created by an agreement. But a lien is not an agreement. Better, for solving purposes, to know less about this I guess. Other than that, it was a pretty smooth puzzle for a Sunday.

Unknown 2:08 AM  

I like the theme. Not super creative, but fun and solid, with good fill for a satisfying Sunday.
Agreed - very fast overall (2/3 my usual Sun time). Tried DIZZY for 1A and then later OUTIE for 18A. I also wanted ENJOY. ADDICT initially instead of ABUSER. And I tried to invent ADDLER as jungle predator (conflating ADDER and Irene ADLER I guess; both were threats to Sherlock).

Dolgo 2:25 AM  

Well, as you all know, I am averse to whining, so I won't. But let me ask you a question. What if this puzzle were all about opera or classical music?

Canon Chasuble 2:35 AM  

I don't know why; I just don't know why. I am singing the same old song here, but when you get, for the nth time, a puzzle that is as dull as ditchwater, one that you can solve in 20 minutes (in pen-and-ink yet), you begin to wonder why you open the puzzle at all. My knowledge of tennis wouldn't fill a thimble, and what I actually care about tennis would be even less, but this puzzle was a walkover from start to (almost) finish. I started on the bottom line, and by the time I had
filled in (mostly by guessing) 109, 94 and 96 across, it was, alas, over. It took no time at all to work up the grid, my only hesitation was, believe it or not, 1 across. I got the double-o combination easily enough, but my brain was geared to variations of loopy and loony, and did not see the "w" till late in the game. All that carping aside, I could not construct a puzzle to save my life, but, really, can we not get something a little better for our Sundays?

Laura 2:38 AM  

Also, ACE at the top of the racket. I get that this is timely but I wish the themers did something more interesting.

ZenMonkey 2:48 AM  

@Cliff LOL at your combined Holmesian villain.

@Dolgo I'd have enjoyed it more than this one?

The puzzle was fine. I just don't care about tennis, which made it a slog. It's on me, not the constructor. Although it was fun to encounter QUEENS NEW YORK where my grandparents lived and where I forgot the Open is held.

Mark 3:08 AM  

In fact, it's not "ad in" or "ad out." It's, for example, "Advantage Federer."

Loren Muse Smith 4:13 AM  

Oh wow – I never would’ve noticed the tennis racket! Very, very neat, Olivia.

“Backhandedly” before BACKHAND SHOT. Utterly defensible.

Ok. So tennis isn’t my thing. My daughter (also a non-tennis player) played in Maine this summer and did pretty well. At least I thought so. We were able to volley back and forth for as many as 10 or 11 hits - a lot. Since we didn’t know how to keep score, we kinda made up our own system, and each won 2 games. Afterwards…

Me: Man! I think we did really, really well for non-tennis players.

Sage: (stunned) Huh?

Me: I mean, we played better than the Real Housewives of New York, and they all have tennis courts and personal tennis coaches and stuff at their homes in the Hamptons. They even wear the fancy tennis clothes.

Sage: That’s a pretty low bar, Mom.

IDEATE – don’t think I’ve ever heard this word out in the wild. It smacks of one of those cases where you add some syllables to sound smarter. If you make a plea, do you pleate? Does a cure-all panaceate people? One thing’s for sure – my tendency here is to logorrheate.

NON MEAT – one time in Chattanooga, Dad reached over to my sister’s plate at the end of supper to eat the rest of her chicken he thought she was finished with. Turns out it was her greasy, wadded up napkin. It actually took him a bit to realize he was chewing a bunch of nasty napkin paper.

I think of two famous people all the time – at least twice a week: Prince William and John McCain. Prince William comes to mind at the end of my shower, but in a wholesome way, not a creepy TMI way. I read somewhere that the guys at Eton have to take cold showers to toughen’em up. I don’t know if this is true or not, but since I’m hot-natured, I always turn the shower water almost to cold right before I get out, and as I experience the shock, I wonder if William ever got used to it. I swear.

A long time ago, I saw a former POW being interviewed. When asked about his thoughts upon being released from one of those underground cage places, he answered that he had forgotten how big the sky was. To this day when I marvel at the sky, I always wonder if John McCain was ever in an underground cell and if he had that same thought. RIP, Senator.

Unknown 4:57 AM  

Amen

abalani500 5:48 AM  

Was on my way to my fastest Sunday and ended up with a DNF thanks to dINGS / WOOdy. From Friday’s puzzle, there is no doubt that Mr. McCain was all American and a hero, which makes him an ALLAMERICANHERO in my books.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

This solve felt not like a hard fought tennis match, more like a friendly game, which maintains the skills and has a warm vibe.

Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

Very easy, but I hiccupped at the T crossing ROGET and ROTTED. I used the Thesaurus often in the days before search engines, and had a compost pile for many years, so why the hesitation? I attended an eight week Mathematics symposium at Williams College in 1972. We attendees were given free access to the clay courts at the college, so I took up tennis, played avidly for the duration, and never played again.

michiganman 7:10 AM  

I really liked that the puzzle included horse racing, baseball (UMP, CAREW), square dancing (DOSIDO), wildlife (BEE, JAGUAR, BAT, TERP (terrapin). SCAT yesterday, SKAT today. Anyone use a shoehorn? Anyone wonder what it is? Loved the puzzle.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

It would probably be more difficult.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Too hard. Too easy. Is anyone happy?

Ken Wurman 7:28 AM  

Not easy medium. Just easy. I solved most theme answers without any cross fill. Definitely my fastest Sunday ever.

mmorgan 7:50 AM  

I saw the racket/raquet before I even started solving so I figured it was about tennis -- about which I know nothing (or less). But I found it quite easy and not unpleasant, even if I didn't know certain theme answers were tennis terms. And look at that cute little BALL we get as a bonus!

Unknown 7:57 AM  

Fun except for the disappointment at the clue for 33 Down. Emerson should’ve been for Roy Emerson, winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles, including the U.S. OPEN in 1961 and 2964.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

I use a shoehorn every day. Otherwise, the back of the shoe folds inward and my foot has a fight with the shoe. I had rooted for rotted so was shot down on that one. Otherwise, it was a straightforward puzzle--a lot of theme material, but not terribly interesting.

QuasiMojo 8:48 AM  

As Sunday theme puzzles go, this one was very well done. But over too soon. Even though I love watching tennis matches, and the U.S. OPEN, I enjoyed the extraneous fill here more than the themers: ELECTRA, AMADEUS, CINERAMA, SHUSH, EXEMPLAR etc.

Can some kind soul explain to me the FALAFEL clue?

OxfordBleu 9:00 AM  

Great puzzle. I had the hardest time with “the L of LCD”, immediately throwing in LIGHT before remembering that was an L.E.D. Liquid didn’t fit but then I only knew the math term as LOWEST common denominator. The crosses saved me in the end but that was a serious slowdown area.

kitshef 9:03 AM  

Did not like the puzzle – much too easy and BALL in the circles was particularly irritating.

So I’ll talk about Rod CAREW, although that seems mildly inappropriate in a tennis puzzle.

In the mid ‘70s, he was amazing. It’s true he did not hit a lot of homers, but he hit lots of doubles and triples, walked a goodly amount, and of course got a ton of singles. He should have been MVP in ’75 (though Lynn was also amazing that year) and arguably in ’74. (Jeff Burroughs won in ’74 in perhaps the most ridiculous MVP vote of my youth – should have gone to Carew or any of a number of pitchers who had great years).

kitshef 9:17 AM  

@chefwen 1:49am – I’ll take the bet. I think Nancy, while appreciating the theme, will dislike the puzzle for its lack of crunch grid art.

@Unknown 7:57am – and Roy EMERSON remains the all-time leader among men in grand slam titles (singles + doubles).

RavTom 9:21 AM  

The last two syllables sound like “awful.”

Wm. C. 9:22 AM  


@Quasi8:48 --

Fal - A[w] - Fa[u]l. => Awful. Yeah, I know, kinda weak.

As to tennis, I never did much until my two sons took it up at our summer home in a planned community. The organizer there was a Dutch woman who had been Dutch National Champion as a young woman. And boy, she would brook no hi-jinks of the younger wise-guys. But she was an excellent teacher.

My son and his partners in his junior and senior high school days went to the state finals but SADLY lost both times.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Yes, @chefwen, I did. It was, after all, aimed right between my eyebrows. And while Sundays often feel like a very LONG RALLY, this had the ADVANTAGE of some nice cluing and fill. I loved TOMORROW for "when the diet starts, perhaps"; I loved the Dante quote (79A), which I've never heard before, but with which I agree profoundly; and I loved FEET as the answer to "things found in clogs."

But, Olivia, I have one big quibble. The answer to 19D should have been CALL YOU BACK (which fits) and not CALL ME LATER. It's not that I made the error -- I always check crosses and CALL YOU BACK didn't work. It's the sheer rudeness of the thing. I have never, ever, ever said CALL ME LATER to someone when I have no time to talk. Here are some of the things I might say:

"I'm really, really sorry that I can't talk now. Can I call you back...
...in an hour?"
...tomorrow morning?"
...as soon as THE U.S. OPEN concludes?"

If a friend were to brusquely say CALL ME LATER when I phone, and if they did that maybe once too often, they might not remain a friend for long. I hope CALL ME LATER has not become standard operating procedure for a new generation of phone answerers.

Rant over. Nice puzzle.

dhdes 9:33 AM  

Finishing the puzzle in record time feels like a minor accomplishment compared to seeing the word "medium" in Rex's assessment of difficulty. And I know nothing about tennis.

Bruce R 9:41 AM  

@Loren The term for hitting the ball back and forth is rallying, not volleying. Volleying is hitting the ball before it bounces.

@Dolgo A puzzle relying heavily on opera would not be fun for most people because it would likely be too obscure. Tennis is far more mainstream. For example, most people would recognize the names of maybe a hundred tennis players, but maybe only a handful of opera performers.

Rube 9:44 AM  

Not in the NY Times. Maybe in the Columbus times or the Minneapolis Times. But you can't tell me that the 6th note in the musical scale rhymes with what Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort broke. This clue is ridiculous. So many other alternatives.

David 9:46 AM  

So a puzzle themed on the US Open references horse racing, football, futbol, and baseball; arguably Grand Prix as well. Did I miss the hockey and basketball answers?

QUEENS, NY? Really? No. People don't live in QUEENS, NY, they live in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, and many other places including FOREST HILLS, where the US Open takes place.

Teedmn 9:48 AM  

I used to love to watch (and play) tennis. But I wasn't very good at playing and I quit watching it once I went to college and didn't have all summer to sit in the basement in front of the TV. Still, if it is on a TV near me, I'll watch. So I found this puzzle to be a pleasant solve, if NON-exciting. (The whole time I was reading Rex, I was expecting to see a guest-blogger's name at the bottom - he liked it!)

I had to run the alphabet a couple of times. The cross of the Sunni Triangle city of SAMA_RA and the gas type abbr. gave me pause, as did the Belgian painter E_SOR crossing "Clear the air?" (the latter being one of the few tricky clues in TODAY's puzzle.)

ROTTED for "Returned to earth?" was another one (coupled with BURY?). I never heard the "awful" of FALAFEL before today (and I will still eat it with relish, yum).

No BACKHANDed compliments today; nice tennis tribute puzzle, OMF!

ColoradoCog 9:51 AM  

Surprised to hear people didn’t see the racket until the end. The first thing I noticed was the lack of rotational symmetry. Whenever I see that, I have to look at the grid and ask, “What is it picturing?” Right away I saw a racket. And I knew the US Open was about to begin. So I got the theme before filling in a single square or even reading the puzzle title. That right there disqualifies a puzzle for me.

There was some good fill here and there, but the themers were predictable and uninspired. This felt like a novelty puzzle you would find in the back of the Offical Program.

This is the rare case where I enjoyed a puzzle considerably less than @Rex and most of this crowd.

Z 9:55 AM  

Some day there will be a tribute puzzle that I like. And, apparently, tributes are Framke’s thing. I clicked on her name and her other puzzle was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. That’s it for Rex reviews. As this puzzle type goes this is decent, but if I never do another Sunday tribute puzzle it will still be too soon.

One thing the racket does is chop up the grid. This basically solved as eleven small puzzles that occasionally intersected. Depending on your feelings about minis this is either a good thing or a bad thing. Personally, I’d prefer less chop and more white space.

@LMS - I do wish more elected officials were like McCain. As much as I disagreed with much of his politics I never doubted his basic patriotism or that he believed his positions were for the good of the country.

ArtO 10:02 AM  

I'm sorry that so many of you found this one too easy. I never mind an easy Sunday...especially after slogging through Friday and totally wiping out on Saturday. IMHO a very nice tribute to the U.S. Open which I always enjoy. Nice of Rex to catch the "ball" up top and @Laura to find the ACE to go along with the ball and racquet.

Teedmn 10:14 AM  

And I just heard Rod CAREW's name on the radio yesterday. Joe Mauer, one of the best players on the current MN Twins roster, just passed Rod Carew's hit record Friday - Carew had been in second place behind Kirby Puckett as the hitting-est Twins ever. To put it in perspective, that puts Mauer at 240th in MLB.

Wm. C. 10:20 AM  


@Z9:55 --

Re: your comments on John McCain. No question that John McCain's positions -- like them or not -- were what he genuinely believed were for the good of the country.

Here's my editorial:

Sadly, I believe that few of our elected politicians act this way. The problem is money in politics. Without this campaign Mother's Milk it's almost always impossible to get elected. If a politician doesn't vote according to the desires of his/her financial sponsorship base ... not only will the funding disappear, but there's a good chance that a well-funded opponent will materialize as a primary opponent.

As I say, few politicians have the stature that makes them a shoo-in as their party's candidate and then (usually) also in the general election. In these cases, the money sources understand the near--impregnabitity of the office-holder's position, and don't waste their money in trying to buy control on some issues.

End of editorial.

Tim Aurthur 10:21 AM  

The US Open took place in Forest Hills until 1977, then moved to Flushing. The tennis club is still going strong, but the main court in the stadium is used mostly for concerts during the summer. The Beatles played there in 1964; this year you still have time to catch David Byrne, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson and others.

kitshef 10:25 AM  

@chefwen - I owe you a beer/coke/other.

TomAz 10:26 AM  

I opened the puzzle this morning. I saw the tennis racket immediately. I thought 'oh yeah the US Open starts this week'. And I'm not even much of a tennis fan.

This puzzle annoyed me at first but generally grew on me as I went on. Early in the puzzle I thought too many people's names, but I wound up getting them on crosses, and the bottom half of the puzzle didn't seem to have nearly so many.

I do think some of the cluing is inaccurate. CANCELLED to me is something different than 'Not renewed'. Rugged does not imply STONY -- a landscape can be rugged with no stones involved at all, or it can be (whatever the opposite of rugged is) with lots of stones. The L in LCD means either 'liquid' (crystal display) or 'lowest' (common denominator) -- I don't think I've ever heard that phrased with LEAST. I think of a LIEN as a right inferred by an agreement but not the agreement itself. RERUNS as a staple of late night TV was a much bigger deal in the past before we had a gazillion channels and pretty much everything on at all hours are reruns. These days late night programming is more likely to be informercials than reruns. And IDEATES stacked on top of NONMEAT? more like non-words, you know?

But some clever cluing here! "Things found in clogs". "Really fancy". "Returned to earth?" "When the diet starts, perhaps" my favorite. That was fun.

In the end, I laughed, I cried, I shouted for joy (metaphorically) when it was over.

Norm 10:29 AM  

Irrelevant to the puzzle, but there was a very nice article in today's SF Chronicle about constructor and frequent commenter Andrea Carla Michaels, who has a heart of gold among her other attributes. It may be behind the firewall today, but those articles are usually accessible within a couple of days.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Pizza-Lady-helps-Polk-Street-area-s-homeless-13165702.php?cmpid=gsa-sfgate-result

Nancy 10:32 AM  

Even though I'm a tennis player, I didn't see the racket. I just don't notice grid art. Glad I'm not the only one.

@Anon 12:31 -- Funny!!! True!!!

@Unknown (7:57) -- Excellent suggestion. Yes, that EMERSON is PPP, but, then, so is the EMERSON that was used.

@Bruce R. (9:41) -- I was about to point that out. Bet it's a mistake that sets your teeth on edge, Bruce, as it does mine. A real tennis player would never confuse the two.

@Rube (9:44) -- Yes, the FALAFEL pronunciation as clued is dead wrong.

@Loren -- Love "logorrheate".

@Z (9:55)-- Another liberal here to praise John McCain for his decency, extraordinary bravery and resilience, sense of honor, patriotism (the real kind, not the kind you wear on a lapel pin) and humility. I agree that he will go down in history as a genuine AMERICAN HERO.

Bourbon Street 10:33 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle even though I completely missed the racquet (thanks to Brian for pointing it out and that it is about to hit the ball). Had my best Sunday time! I don’t mind the occasional easy Sunday or a theme that is (at least) somewhat familiar to most people. My only question is whether “NONMEAT” is really a word. It’s certainly not a word I’ve ever used.

TubaDon 10:58 AM  

The theme was given away by the grid. I started with SEALAB but promptly sabotoged myself by crossing it with ERIE which made me want to fit ADIN into 23A and had me feeling WOOZY. After spinning my wheels there, I filled in the middle of the raquet (which the spell checker doesn't like) at light speed then just pecked around the edges, briefly falling into the LIGHT trap for LCD. Finally fixed ERIE, and took ADVANTAGE of that RALLY to finish the GAME. P.S. I agree that a LIEN is not an agreement.

QuasiMojo 11:02 AM  

Thanks to Rav et al who answered my query about the last two syllables of Falafel. It certainly doesn’t sound like “awful” and apparently I have been mispronouncing the word for ages. I always say “fa-la-fell” lol which I’m sure is appalling, if not awful, to all of you. I have a friend who says “extraordinary” as if it sounds like “extrapolate.” I guess it takes all kinds.

Forgot to mention that as this year is the 50th anniversary of the US Open, and the 25th anniversary of Arthur Ashe’s death, there’s a new bio of the latter just published, that I have just started reading. By Ray Arsenault. Highly recommend so far.

GILL I. 11:13 AM  

I may be in the minority. Names, names, names. BLAH, blah blah. Three little letters all over the place. Oh wait...we're talking tennis here.
I saw the racket from the git-go. Oh, yes...then the cute little BALL poised to be ACEd. Why in the world would you have Rod CAREW in the middle of your US OPEN? Why that grated, I don't know, but it did.
I kept thinking of the plethora of the BLY RBO SNL YSL ACA ALT REG EDS and so on and so ons. Kept bugging me. Kept thinking this was constructed purely for the authors enjoyment. Nothing wrong with that but I honestly wish I could have held hands with her and shared the sentiment. I'm spoiled by @liz G.
Of course I immediately thought of our @Nancy. I also thought she'd scream bloody murder at the circles of that little BALL.
There is some good stuff, no doubt, but I'm wishing I could have enjoyed it more. WIIG? IDEATES? Liked awful FALAFAL and the clues for LUSH BEE. I don't live for TODAY. I'd rather live for good food.
Part of U.S.T.A.?
I've always enjoyed tennis. I'm not good at it because I become aggressive and all I want to do is hit the BALL as hard as I can. I get tired of retrieving pelotas in the next park.
RIP Senator McCain.

Carola 11:14 AM  

Props to the constructor for extending the spirit of play to the grid with the racket and ball, in preparation for an ACE (and thanks to those who pointed them out). Tennis isn't one of my INTERESTS, so I got more delight our of the non-theme answers: CAROUSE, DUNGAREES, CINERAMA SHOEHORN, ELECTRA.

@Dolgo, I, at least, would have had a lot.more fun.

nyc_lo 11:33 AM  

Is this an EXEMPLAR of a Sunday NYT puzzle? Could be. Nothing too flashy, but satisfyingly solid fill and clueing, right on target for a Sunday. The ball and racquet escaped me until I came here, which earns a polite golf - er - tennis clap from me as well.

Unknown 11:34 AM  

I used the accross filled to reveal "Sumarra" in 88 down and wasted a lot of time Funny, I always thought Sumarra was in Eastern Russia.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

@OFL:
it's always AD IN. or AD OUT, never just ADVANTAGE

I know, I didn't wade through the comments first, but this is just awful. Listening to the Barry White of The Chair (mostly, WTA) or any other umpire, it's "ADVANTAGE Ms. Williams".

JC66 11:58 AM  

@Quasi, @Nancy,et al

As a born and bred New Yorker, it has always been and always will be FA LAH FEL!

Norm 12:16 PM  

@QuasiMojo: Not sure you're wrong about FALAFEL. There is apparently a school of thought that the final syllable should rhyme with fell or even feel rather than full. I'll continue to rhyme with waffle myself.

clk 12:25 PM  

Thank you for the LCD explanation. I was annoyed that liquid (as in Liquid Crystal Display) didn’t fit, then filled in the rest on crosses and didn’t return to it.

Unknown 12:29 PM  

It would be likely better- this one was never a struggle and always boring......consistently within the lines but no aces. Not what I get up early on Sunday for.

clk 12:31 PM  

I think you vastly overestimate the average person’s knowledge of tennis players, though your ratio of tennis players to opera stars is probably accurate.

Outside The Box 12:44 PM  

Easiest puzzle of the week. Easier than a Monday.

Music Man 12:52 PM  

119A:
“I’m A Man” by the Spencer Davis Group (#10, 1967)
“I’m A Woman” by Maria Muldaur (#12, 1975)
“I’m A Fool” by Dino, Desi & Billy (#17, 1965)

Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Was an avid tennis player, until I sorta got old-ish. That wouldn'ta exactly stopped m&e altogether, except that all my best-tennis-playin buds either dropped out or died. Rest in peace particularly goes out to a mighty German opponent named Dieter. We spent some A-1 real fun summers (while he was on a temp assignment in this country with our company) workin up a sweat on the courts, and then the loser had to buy the post-competition banana malts. Good times. But, I digress … and I reckon I'll probably do it again ...

Saw the E-W grid symmetry immediately, and went lookin for the grid art. Nice touch -- an "Open" tennis racket. The tennis B-A-L-L is kinda desperate-lookin, sooo … har! nice touch #2!

Me, the PuzEatinSpouse, and a good friend flew out to La-Guardia in 1999. Stayed at a real nice place near Times Square. Went to see "The Lion King". Took the subway out to Queens. Attended the U.S. Open for one afternoon session. Our seats were pretty high up, in Ashe stadium. U could sit wherever U wanted, in Armstrong Stadium and at the outer court "nostalgia matches". Bought a T-shirt for me and for one of my old tennis buds back home. Fun memories.
Thanx, Olivia darlin. Good SunPuz.

staff weeject pick: Hard to beat good ol' STS [Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, btw]. Honrable mention to the 32 other ones -- a primo litter of the lil darlins.

Thanx for the fond memories, Ms. Framke.

Masked & Anonymo13Us

Unknown 1:16 PM  

I had to look up Omertà code. New one for me. As were Ensor and Least (Common Denominator). The latter needed a different clue.

chefwen 1:20 PM  

According to the Food Lover’s Companion, feh-LAH-feel

@kitshef, I’ll have a nice glass of Chardonnay, the buttery kind, thank you.

QuasiMojo 1:27 PM  

Thanks Norm! Falafel was our staple in college back in the 70s.

pabloinnh 1:32 PM  

I wonder if any tennis players out there (hi @Nancy) have ever had the joy of maintaining a clay court, especially a homemade one. I did this for years at our summer resort in NH, and believe me, this is a labor-intensive operation. We had two courts that were bulldozed out of the clay on a hillside. They didn't drain very well, but they sure could grow weeds. I tried to keep guests off when they were soft (sign? what sign?) but had, besides people playing on them when they souldn't, 1) a young man who decided to try out his roller blades on them 2) a father and son play "soccer tennis" while wearing cleats and one year 3) a pair of pigs we were raising escape and decide to hone their rooting skills on one of them. The joys of clay courts in rural NH. The only fun I had approaching this was trying to maintain a natural hockey rink on our frozen pond, but that's another story.

Believe it or not, I still like tennis.

Agree with the shoutouts to John McCain and Rod Carew. Liked the racquet. Liked the theme density.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Whole host= raft?

Silasxl 1:43 PM  

What if the conversation was in person?

The House Whisperer 1:59 PM  

I thought it was easy and boring.

Banana Diaquiri 2:17 PM  

@pablo:

turns out "real" clay courts (e.g. Roland-Garros) aren't made from clay, as in clay soil. their made from ground up bricks, highly compacted, then given a loose top dressing. in my home town, the clay courts were clay soil, just as yours. impossible to keep up.

mbr 2:25 PM  

@Anonymous 1:40pm:
host2 | hōst |
noun (a host of or hosts of)
a large number of people or things: a host of memories rushed into her mind.
raft2 | raft |
noun
a large amount of something: a raft of government initiatives.

thefogman 2:48 PM  

Nice one. Enjoyed it beginning, middle and end.
GAMESETMATCH goes to Olivia Mitra Framke. Well done.
For TOMORROW, does anyone know if there is a blog like this one that critiques the Monday New Yorker puzzle?

Anoa Bob 2:54 PM  

I used to be a big tennis fan but kind of lost interest after Rocket Rod Laver retired. Then they started using those huge racket heads, you know, the ones so big you gotta use both hands to swing them around. Check out the size of the racket head compared to the handle in the grid, uh, erm, "art". I think even I could hit a ball with one of those big Berthas.

Certainly no reason to become OUTRAGED, but I agree with those who think that not having other sports related entries, such as CAREW, YAZ, and especially the longer-than-some-themers DERBY WINNER, would have been better.

"First, be a good animal." Ralph Waldo EMERSON

Is 88A SHUSH the past tense of sheesh?

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

I loved this puzzle. Rarely finish a Sunday because either boredom sets in or I realize I have better things to do. But this was a suss-fest for me and that's what I look for.

The true American tragedy is that McCain didn't get the chance to run instead of Bush Jr. Where would be today without the subsequent horrific consequences. Eight years of McCain, followed by Obama.

Miles 3:17 PM  

Yes. I have a shoehorn but can't get a note out of it @Michiganman

chefwen 3:26 PM  

Oops, that’s fehl not feel, damn auto correct.

Unknown 3:34 PM  

Yeah, those two words say it for me too. Did not expect to see a (relatively) rave review from OFL for this tedious, limp exercise. I'm starting to believe that a couple decent fill answers is the only thing that matters to some solvers. The thing about those long fills here was...they were basically all gimmes. Like virtually every aspect of this puzzle.

And yeah...if you watch a tennis match, you hear the word "advantage" constantly.

'mericans back in Paris 3:56 PM  

Agree with the Easy-Medium rating. My first entry was SEALABS, AND then we largely worked our way around the puzzle clockwise from there. The West and NW were the hardest areas, AND it took us as much time to fill in those areas as the rest of the puzzle.

Main problem in the NE was that, as FATE would have it, I couldn't remember the ALAMO.

Neither of us are big tennis fans (I much prefer soccer, even if the score is ONE-NIL), so the theme didn't make our socks go up and down. But I guess as a tribute puzzle it's OK. Nice touch to include a tennis racquet. Didn't see that until coming here. What I saw instead was a stocky person with a necktie, crouching at the mouth of a cave.

Liked EAT UP crossing NON-MEAT. Speaking of NON-MEAT, we pronounce it FAL-A-FEL.

One of these days, I will get used to seeing the name WIIG. But NOR yet.

See y'all TOMORROW.

pabloinnh 3:59 PM  

@Mike-

You've got to play footnotes.

Sorry.


Phil 4:00 PM  

clayCOURT needed attention otherwise got the gold star with last cell. Very rare with these Sundays guys...Just too damn easy to have a typo or need to backcheck the crosses of a filled grid which makes them tiring to complete so very satisfying, this one

Banana Diaquiri 4:03 PM  

@Anoa Bob:
the ones so big you gotta use both hands to swing them around

well... no the graphite/composite rackets are much lighter than the old woodies. which means they have less momentum (velocity X mass). so, in order to launch the ball, they have to hit harder. it appears the benefit of the new racket is the materials can make a larger head that won't bust in regular use. it used to be, may be still is, no regulation about size and shape of the racket. let me look.... well, there are limits now. weren't any for years.

on the men's side, at least, the one hand backhand is making a comeback. not to mention Federer, whose been that way always. kind of a runt, but wins a few tournaments. except for a few wimins, no one hits two handed forehand.

"wooden racquets typically weighed 400g, whereas today’s versions can be as little as 250g. In addition to being lighter and, therefore, easier to swing, they are also stiffer, which means that they vibrate less (i.e. don’t bend as much), but at a higher frequency. "
here: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Wood-and-graphite-tennis-racquets_fig1_216755659

RooMonster 4:10 PM  

Hey All !
Only a few of you pointed out the themer that Rex missed. 31A-ACE. It's even clued similar to the Puz Title. Also, 13A-MAJOR. Well, I guess as many puzs ad Rex does, one can get a night WOOZY on things.

Liked all the tennisey stuff crammed in here. And a Pangram to boot. Nice.

Is FALAFEL a NONMEAT? I pronounce it FAH-LAW-FELL.

Wanted to write this IN ARABIC. but I don't know any.

DOSIDO MANIA
RooMonster
DarrinV

Norm 4:13 PM  

@thefogman: https://crosswordfiend.com/

Masked and Anonymous 4:25 PM  

p.s.
Did anybody wish the Shortzmeister a Happy B-Day today, yet?

In any case, I hereby do.

M&Also

JB 5:13 PM  

Re: Ideate- it's a thing now in the business world. My company even had a "chief ideation officer" position. So silly.

Z 5:54 PM  

@Roo Monster - Google translate gave me: فلافل
I've always heard it as Fah lahf'll, with those last two syllables eliding into a single syllable. Hence, it took me precious nanoseconds to figure out what the clue was suggesting.

sixtyni yogini 6:00 PM  

I wonder if the New York Times editors planned the Sunday puzzle as a mini-theme and to accompany the article on tennis phenom Naomi Osaka.
Puzzle seemed mostly easy and likeable. Although without a clever theme as it was today, I sometimes get bored and don’t finish. (I finished today. 😎)

Nancy 6:10 PM  

Oh, goody -- so much tennis to discuss!

@pabloinnh (1:32 p.m.) -- Re your 2nd sentence: Oh, I believe you, I believe you!!! There was this time I decided to water a really dry court in Central Park. My [female] partner turned on the water as I was picking up the hose. The hose was very, very heavy. I couldn't lift it, much less spray it evenly over the entire surface. (It looks easy when 6-feet tall, young guys do it, but I am a very, very small person.)"You're flooding the court!!! my partner screamed. Lift the hose up higher!!! Higher!!! But I couldn't lift it higher than my shoelaces. "Turn the water off, turn it off right now!" I screamed. She was a bit...slow. And there went our court on a crowded tennis day. Drowned within an inch of its life. We were not able to get another. And I never, ever tried to water a court again.

@Banana D (4:03) -- From your mouth to God's ear. I'd love to see the one-handed backhand make a comeback -- it's such a graceful, elegant shot. But I very much doubt it will, Federer notwithstanding.

@GILL (11:13)-- You may have a future in the game. In his memoir, "Open", Andre Agassi discusses how, when he was a toddler, his father insisted he hit every ball as hard as he could. "You can worry about controlling where it goes later", he said. And we see what happened with Agassi. So now that you've mastered the art of aggressive power, @GILL, it's time to start thinking about keeping the ball in the court. Maybe a coach? CA is full of them!

jberg 6:24 PM  

I liked the puzzle, but DNF. Started with 'faint' at 1A, got fIELDS for 1D, which fits the clue perfectly, then just left it there. "fOOZY seemed ok, though it wouldn't have if WOOZY had occurred to me.

I looked at the stadium name, thought "well,there's SHEA, there's ASHE, but those are too short. Then later I had ----URASHE, and thought I must have made a mistake in the downs. I needed almost all the crosses to see it.

Speaking of which, is there any truth to the rumor that ASHE stadium was built out of the materials from SHEA stadium, put together in a different order?

@Loren, I'm trying to convince my wife that we should NON-MEATE every Monday, but so far it's slow going. (But I can't figure out those clouds, what's up with them?)

I don't know if this makes sense outside of Massachusetts, but 68 A, SHUN, could have been clued with a reference to Alan Dershowitz

JC66 6:35 PM  

@jberg

LMS's last paragraph:

"A long time ago, I saw a former POW being interviewed. When asked about his thoughts upon being released from one of those underground cage places, he answered that he had forgotten how big the sky was. To this day when I marvel at the sky, I always wonder if John McCain was ever in an underground cell and if he had that same thought. RIP, Senator.

pabloinnh 6:49 PM  

Hey @Nancy-thanks for the empathy. Never watered our courts, always had the opposite problem An inch of water on the courts meant no tennis for a week. Did a tennis clinic at Dartmouth one time and the best shot I hit there was my one hand backhand--not surprising because I swing lefty but play tennis righty. Hit one really well, and was very happy to hear our instructor say "Yeah! That's a righteous backhand!". A rare instance of impressing a whippersnapper.

Also BDaq--yeah, know about brick dust. Used to pick up a ton every spring and spread it by hand. Nice top dressing, but doesn't make a clay court hold up to rain. The retractable roof was beyond our budget.

Monty Boy 7:01 PM  

Me? My favorite is the BEE who won't spend money.

Crimson Devil 7:12 PM  

Have played, competitively and otherwise, and seen a bunch of tennis over many years: RF is the best.

puzzlehoarder 7:21 PM  

I actually did this last night but am only now commenting. One of those days. Part of the problem is tennis doesn't interest me in the least. There was some good fill but it was drowned out by the short boring ese. This was a very segmented grid with long narrow spaces the filling of which was quite dull.

I had to laugh at my one dnf. ROGEO didn't look like a name anyone has ever had but "Peter Mark" meant nothing to me. I figured it was the name of one of these current Best-selling authors you've never heard of. I saw the famous name in the solution and it was head slap time.

Unknown 9:00 PM  

Two great folks — McCain a hero and Neil Simon who made us laugh. RIP.

Monty Boy 9:17 PM  

Relatively easy for me. Had to do a couple of obscure (for me) answers.

My favorite? I want to see a tightwad BEE. Stingy = Stingy?

Monty Boy 9:18 PM  

Oh, and I didn't know SEALs had ABS. Must be from the crunches.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

There are actually two BALLs. Clockwise starting at 30, and counterclockwise starting at 11.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Why is OUTRAGED 'fit to be tied'?

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

Just sat through a business seminar where they wanted us to IDEATE. I doth pretested then, and I doth protest now. It's simple brainstorming, people. IDEATE? Seriously? And these are the same people that turned 'solution' into a verb, as in, "After we ideate on the problem, then we'll solution." Word world's goin' tuh hell, I tell yah'...

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

I'm with you, @anon. 6:32. IDEATE is one of those (unfortunately) real words that just plain don't get used. To dream up is to imagine. Next!

Welcome back, Fearless One. Now please click the syndilink forward.

Right away I saw what looked like a mirror, but early on it became a racket. Your graphic of the yellow BALL covering the four squares was cute. I found this to be a rather easygoing Sunday, even though it was disappointing to see a non-tennis Rod: CAREW instead of Laver. Though I've never seen this constructor's name before, it's obvious she's ADEPTAT the ART. Very little fill dreck, leaving aside the RMK at 106-across.

I had no trouble with the NW, how about THAT? SNL to start, so the low score was either nilNIL or ONENIL. INNIE settled that, leading to ONLOAN--and out. In fact, I don't recall getting hung up anywhere.

One piece of serendipity for this PHI fan: the entry falls at 76 (!)-across!! That alone would push MY thumbs up. Carmen ELECTRA wins DOD. [CALLMELATER, hon.] Eagle, or in tennis terms, a love GAMESETMATCH.

Burma Shave 12:33 PM  

. . . AND DOSIDO TOMORROW, FELLA

SADLY, I CANCELLED TODAY my INTERESTS in sex;
those QUEENS in NEWYORK say, "CALLMELATER, TECHS."

--- MAJOR MARC "STONY" EMERSON

rainforest 2:01 PM  

There seems to be a stray BALL in the North top row. Maybe the ball boy failed to pick it up. Could be a no-no.

Perhaps THE US OPEN is a sort of blah theme, but there are die-hard tennis fans out there who might disagree. In any case, impressive theme density, and what looks like an old-fashioned wooden racquet depicted, perhaps as a visual revealer.

I thought the fill was solid the cluing was at an easy-medium level.

Nice Sunday, overall.

rondo 2:24 PM  

I usually write something over on a Sun-puz, but not TODAY. Mostly easy with a few obscurities solved by crosses.

Here's one for ya: LEN Cariou (not Rod CAREW) who plays Tom Selleck's TV dad in Blue Bloods is 78. Tom Selleck is 73.


The clue for FALAFEL sounds like one of Will's. But according to an online dictionary the last two syllables sound like "lawful" not "awful". Not nearly as unfortunate.

That SEAL must be working his core. Did you see his SEALABS?

Good one @spacey, but I had yeah baby Kristen WIIG circled.

Not many complaints here except for the green paintishness of LONGRALLY; sounds like a WoF bonus round answer. More enjoyable than a lot of Sundays.

AnonymousPVX 3:25 PM  

This was a nice Sunday puzzle that went rather smoothly. Nothing really dumb or stale, and it rewarded persistence.

It’s kind of nice to have a Sunday puzzle people aren’t hating on for a change.

leftcoastTAM 5:31 PM  

Easy theme and consistent follow-through, but an unforced error in the fill, tEt instead of REG. (Yes, that also left me with SAMAtRa and OUTRAtED, which may count as forced errors I guess.)

Abashed, SADLY, but not quite fit to be tied.

Diana,LIW 8:07 PM  

A repeat performance on my part for most of the week. Toodling right along, until I wasn't due to unknown names. If you don't know, you don't know. Even after my bit of research (in other words, cheating) I still almost re-dnf'd 'cause I couldn't figure out a gas that began with RE. Oh. REGular. I always did hate filling my car with gas - must be the reason for my brain burp. But I finished on a happy note, and on to Monday.

Happy holiday, all. Watch out on the road.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

@rainforest - You have keen eyes. Maybe that stray ball is the one tucked into the pocket of a man's tennis shorts, or one tucked into the tights under a lady's tennis skirt ? I always have wondered how those ladies aren't distracted by such, but they seem to all do it. I suppose you get used to it.

Eric Selje 10:33 AM  

Yes but then for symmetry 31 down would have to be a themer, and Amadeus wasn’t know for that kind of court skill.

Eric Selje 10:36 AM  

Be glad it wasn’t the au courant “Call me maybe.”

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