Commercial aunt since 1889 / SUN 8-12-18 / Wide-swinging blow / Hebrew letter on dreidel

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Very Easy (7:45, my all-time Sunday NYT record)

THEME: "If I Were You..." — In each themer, the answer is a familiar phrase where one of the "I"s has been turned into a "U," resulting in the usual wackiness...

Theme answers:
  • BUTTER RIVALS (23A: Land O'Lakes and Breakstone's?)
  • WORKING THE SOUL (before I looked at the title, really thought this was a play on "working the pole") (31A: Ministering?)
  • CURSES, FOULED AGAIN (47A: "Damn, I can't seem to get a ball into fair territory?)
  • JUNGLE ALL THE WAY (62A: Like a trip overland from Venezuela to Bolivia?)
  • HUNDRED DOLLAR BULL (82A: Expensive line of nonsense someone throws you?)
  • TRUCK QUESTIONS (95A: "What are you hauling in there?" and "How many axles you running?")
  • PASSWORD HUNT (108A: Entering your middle name, then date of birth, then adding a "1," etc.?)
Word of the Day: LOVE DART (112A: Missile in a mating ritual) —
love dart (also known as a gypsobelum) is a sharp, calcareous or chitinous dart which some hermaphroditic land snails and slugs create. Love darts are made in sexually mature animals only, and are used as part of the sequence of events during courtship, before actual mating takes place. Darts are quite large compared to the size of the animal: in the case of the semi-sluggenus Parmarion, the length of a dart can be up to one fifth that of the semi-slug's foot.[1]
The process of using love darts in snails is a form of sexual selection.[2] Prior to copulation, each of the two snails (or slugs) attempts to "shoot" one (or more) darts into the other snail (or slug). There is no organ to receive the dart; this action is more analogous to a stabbing, or to being shot with an arrow or flechette. The dart does not fly through the air to reach its target however; instead it is fired as a contact shot.
The love dart is not a penial stylet (in other words this is not an accessory organ for sperm transfer). The exchange of sperm between both of the two land snails is a completely separate part of the mating progression. Nevertheless, recent research shows that use of the dart can strongly favor the reproductive outcome for the snail that is able to lodge a dart in its partner. This is because mucus on the dart introduces a hormone-like substance that allows far more of its sperm to survive.
Love darts, also known as shooting darts, or just as darts, are shaped in many distinctive ways which vary considerably between species. What all the shapes of love darts have in common is their harpoon-like or needle-like ability to pierce. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was going to write something short and sweet about how this is a very, very generic puzzle from 1997, about which there is virtually nothing to say, etc etc, but I am so overwhelmed with this new LOVE DART knowledge from my Word of the Day research that my brain has kinda fogged up. I looked the phrase up figuring it would be somehow metaphorical. Lots of traditions in medieval love poetry of shooting arrows from your eyes when you fall in love, or arrows being shot into you when you see your true love, so LOVE DART didn't strike me as outlandish, but it was odd enough for me to google. And here we are. I now know the phrase "penial stylet." I don't know if I can unknow it. I'm going to try. We'll see. But back to the puzzle. . .

Seriously? We're just doing a change-a-letter? And the most basic kind? With a title that holds your hand and tells you everything is going to be OK and basically treats you like a complete moronic incompetent. I did this thing in record time and still resented every second of it. Here's what I liked: the DJANGO / JP MORGAN cross, and the ROUNDHOUSE BAITSHOP columns. Here's what I didn't like: too much to list. I'm basically just insulted at how low the bar is for Sundays. A change-a-letter? Just one letter? And the title is basically a lie. It should be "If One Of the 'I's Were You," or "If Only One 'I' Were You," because there are Plenty Of "I"s Still In Those Themers. And the punny answers aren't even funny. Just because someone's made puzzles for you before does not mean you have to accept mediocre stuff like this. You honestly think this is a meritocracy, people? This is absurdity. This is some old boys network / unlevel playing field stuff. The NYT is supposed to be the "best puzzle in the world," but I guarantee you that virtually every Sunday-sized puzzle published today will be as good if not much, much better than this. WaPo will crush this. Good chance Frank Longo's syndicated puzzle, which appears in my local paper, will crush this. LAT? Likely. Newsday? Dunno, but sure, I'll put money on that. I wish solvers demanded more. Because those folks over there, who are just Printing Money with this crossword thing, clearly have contempt for you and are happy to write me off as a crank. Which is fine, I'm used to it. But you deserve so much better. I think the idea today was make it so easy that everyone sets a record time and, in the elation, forgets how mediocre the puzzle is.

Despite lightning-fast time, I did have some struggle points. I feel like I might've come close to breaking 7 minutes if I could've figured out HAS (90A: Orders). Even with _EAD TO in place, I thought the answer was LEAD TO (90D: Move in the direction of), so eventually I just worked my way down to that one square and then plugged in letters that might make sense. Put in HAS, thought, "???" Then it sunk in: oh, at a restaurant. [Orders]. HAS. Got it. Yikes. I also struggled with the first letter of SHIN. Why in the world would you take a perfectly good English word, with different meanings and lots of wordplay potential, and then clue it as a Hebrew letter? I have nothing against Hebrew as a language, but if you have a choice to make a word a versatile actual English word, or a foreign word with just one meaning ... come on. This is puzzle-making 101. So disappointing, this whole puzzle. OMG Why is Aunt JEMIMA even ... no, you know what? That's all. I'm done.


Hello and welcome to my first ever installment of REXMAIL, where I answer your letters for everyone to see. Today's letter is from Brian and Bonnie, who live ... man, I should've asked. On the west coast, I know that. Here it is:
Hi Rex!
My significant other and I have become big fans of your blog ever since we started doing the NYT crossword on a daily basis. Since your wisdom always guides us when we've lost our way with a puzzle, we were hoping you could help us resolve a different kind of crossword-related issue:

We live on the west coast and we usually complete the puzzle sometime around 7 PM, when the newest one is posted online. Unfortunately, our cat (Marcel) seems to enjoy the crossword as well (or really wants some extra attention at 7 PM), and often sits directly in front of us or stands on the keyboard, inputting some answers of his own (they're usually incorrect).

Marcel's interruptions often interfere with our ability to complete the puzzle as quickly as we otherwise could. Today, after his intrusions certainly prevented us from beating our best time, I said, angrily, "I bet Rex Parker doesn't have to deal with this kind of nonsense!" My significant other strongly disagreed, and now we have a gentleman's bet over:
   1) Whether you have a cat (or other small house pet), and,
   2) If so, whether that pet ever interferes with your crossword-time.

If both are true, then do you have any advice for completing the crossword around obnoxious pets? I'd gladly take losing the bet in exchange for some helpful pointers on our pet-problem!

Sincerely and appreciatively,
Brian and Bonnie
Dear Brian (and Bonnie),

I thought you were going to end up asking me for advice on how to stop Marcel from interfering with your solving. I was going to say, "Have you tried talking to him?" But I see that instead your questions are of a more personal nature. First, do I have a cat or small housepet? No. My smallest housepet is a medium-sized husky/shepherd mix who doesn't care for crosswords at all. I had two cats a while back, but they've both been dead for a while now, and even then weren't really desk-dwellers. My dogs sometimes pace or whine or pant or do some other repetitive, noise-causing action that can be distracting, especially if I'm in the middle of a very hard puzzle. But mostly they stay downstairs with The Lady (that's what they call my wife) when I'm upstairs solving. So Brian, you win the bet, I don't really have to deal with "this kind of nonsense":

[actual Marcel, who probably found 93-Across corny]

If you have questions for REXMAIL, you can email me at rexparker at icloud dot com, but honestly, mail is always better when it's snail, so consider availing yourself of the USPS: Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp 54 Matthews St Binghamton NY 13905. Cheers.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


L 12:08 AM  

My fastest Sunday time ever. Solved in 1 pass. No fun.

Patrick O'Connor 12:17 AM  

As often is the case, I agree with much of what you say about the puzzle (it was too easy), I am surprised that I am not at all as bothered as you are about potentially politically retrogressive clues or answers (although I think I share your political positions on most issues), and once again I feel bad for your exasperation at the situation. But if you need a distraction from how bad the puzzle is when you think it's bad, I fully endorse "Rexmail," and am only sorry I do not have a cute cat of my own to send along to you when I think of a fun question to ask you. Maybe I'll write you a letter using all 100 Scrabble tiles, *because* I know how much you hate Scrabble....

Melrose 12:18 AM  

Too easy, theme rather thin, overall disappointing.

Trombone Tom 12:22 AM  

As noted by OFL this was quite simplistic. I know that Sunday is aimed at a broad audience, but this puzzle didn't offer much challenge. The fill is mostly quite respectable and the theme is straightforward. It's just that I expect more from the NYT.

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Well, at least we know M&A's true identity.

P.S. That's not a love dart joke.

PaulSFO 12:55 AM  

For the first time ever, I think,I stopped after about 1/6 puzzle because there was nothing fun about the clues or the theme. It would just have been a waste of some time to finish it. :/

Mona 1:06 AM  

Granted it was too easy and not very good, but every puzzle can't hit an extra base hit. Just bore with it and went on to the Post puzzle. Hope for more challenge next week

newspaperguy 1:57 AM  

Seriously, you made that letter up, right? I mean, really? Jeez Louise, just when I thought it could not get worse.

JOHN X 2:13 AM  

Hey this puzzle was great! I liked it. The clueing was pretty devious all over.

REXMAIL is also great. I think you should do one per week. I'd read that. I'm gonna write you a letter.

I'm watching a Pink Floyd documentary, solving a crossword puzzle, doing a bong hit, and commenting on a blog all at the same time. That's pretty great too.

Unknown 3:08 AM  

Sidebar ... clues for Rita should be more contemporary like ‘Fictional journalist Skeeter’ unless you are trying to capture the market and future revenue streams of 70 year olds. Relevance does matter

Seth 3:15 AM  

I think we seasoned crossword solvers need to remember that there are very new, very inexperienced solvers out there who need puzzles like this -- ones with simple themes and title that hold their hand. If you want to gripe about the fill or the clues, fine. But don't gripe about how easy the puzzle is. That's not fair to the millions of people who are much worse at crosswords and need a win.

Also, every time a gripe amounts to "the wackiness isn't funny and it should be," I always wonder...what kind of "funny" are you looking for? Like, has an answer ever made you actually laugh out loud? Sure, maybe once or twice ever. But like...I don't get your insistence on "funny." That's an impossible adjective to impose on these things. Cute, clever, unexpected, weird, wacky...But funny?

jae 3:20 AM  

Same problem with HAS as @Rex, otherwise way too easy....looking forward to the LAT.

chefwen 3:20 AM  

@JOHN X, I agree with you, I really liked it and enjoyed the whole process. Agree that it was a little on the easy side, but I thought it was quite clever and cute. Favorite was, oh hell, I liked them all, can’t pick a favorite.

Aunt JEMIMA reminded me that we haven’t had pancakes in a long time, might make some tomorrow.

Unknown 3:21 AM  

Sidebar... really sad and very dated clueing. Although I laughed and thought love darts was amusing the last Rita Moreno movie I remember ever going to see at a theater was a comedy called the Ritz when my parents took us in the mid to early 1970’s. Ian the youngest and in my mid 50’s now. Wouldn’t a more contemporary clue later like ‘Fictional journalist Skeeter’ or some other contemporary Rita? Eithe their composer is elderly or just lazy and cutting and pasting from old crosswords. Sadly unoriginal works-retreads.

Loren Muse Smith 3:50 AM  

Yeah – pretty easy, but that’s ok by me since I have a ton to do today. Knowing the trick just from the title, I had fun reading the clues and trying to get the themer without crosses. PASSWORD HUNT really resonated with me. Jeez Louise they’re a pain. At school, I have a bajillion accounts and am constantly having to have a reset email sent to me. What a waste of time.

I was slowed down a bit by the fact that 42D’s clue – central entry – had a question mark; I was thinking it’d be a themer, too.

“Tiny, multitentacled creatures” – the reason I never liked subbing for kindergartners.

SMITH – growing up with the last name Muse, I was kinda relieved to change my name when I got married. (I don’t go by Loren Muse Smith. Ever. I don’t remember why I included Muse on my profile. I would change it to just Loren Smith, but people call me LMS now. Oh well.

BAR SOAP – retronym.

@Seth - well said.

Ross – easy breezy Sunday with a theme I’ll play around with all day. Your next one could be if you were me. So, like, if you’re a Pirates fan, you could say this was THEIR FINEST HOMER. Get right on that, will ya?

Phil 4:05 AM  

Since you is not literal why not homophone the 'I'

“I have an eye for you...”

frankbirthdaycake 4:30 AM  

I thought last Sunday’s puzzle was a lot easier. Still, this was pretty easy, but I still managed to enjoy it.

Jono 5:08 AM  

Omitting CURSES FOULED AGAIN and WORKING THE SOUL, this could *easily* have been a theme relating to the New Zealand accent....

Mica Hilson 6:05 AM  

I liked the puzzle a lot more than Rex did, but agree that it would have worked better if the clues were funnier. I think I would have gone with the theme "Book Titles" with the clues:
23: Subtitle: “The War between Breakstone’s and Land O’Lakes”
31: Subtitle: “The Stax Records Story”
47: Subtitle: “Gargamel’s Short-Lived Baseball Career”
62: Subtitle: “Hiking from Venezuela to Bolivia”
82: Subtitle: “How to Buy the Cheapest Stud Cattle”
95: Subtitle: “A Quiz Book for Tractor-Trailer Drivers”
108: Subtitle: “A Computer Hacking Adventure for Kids!”

'mericans in Paris 6:17 AM  

Anybody notice that one STARTs at 1A and then SPEEDs through to the last clue? Certainly that was our experience. Perhaps fastest Sunday ever for us, but since we did it on paper we'll never know.

Mrs. 'mericans and I were pretty meh about the themes (though did chuckle at JUNGLE ALL THE WAY), but found the fill generally good.

Perhaps because of all the food and drink answers (starting with the pancake trio -- BUTTER, Aunt JEMIMA mix, and MILK -- and then moving onto lunch and dinner -- AGLIO E OLIO, SNAIL, WINOS) we ate earlier than usual last night, and then for dessert took a long walk in the slowly fading light through a deserted part of Paris. We live a short distance from the 7th arrondissement, which is known to be home to some very old money (i.e., inherited: not all of 'em EARNed IT), and during August most of its population heads for the coasts. That turns it into a quiet little village for the rest of us: perfect pour flâner.

Cute cat photo, Brian and Bonnie. To be fair, you should give yourselves a handicap of 15 minutes, at least.

P.S., I'm surprised we haven't gotten a rant over 39A ("Stag's mate": DOE). As one of @Rex's Twitter followers wrote in response to Wednesday's puzzle, "Not always, NYT, not always." (See "We're Deer. We're Queer. Get Used to It." Oh, mama!

Lewis 6:35 AM  

I think the title is clever and I'm guessing the constructor heard it or thought of it and BOOM! There was the idea for the puzzle. I'm thinking somehow SNAIL should have been referenced to LOVE DART since they are so specifically related.

FLEW through this LAYUP quite happily. Sometimes I appreciate the effort of running through deep soft sand at the beach for the strong workout; other times it's a joyous thrill to skimboard along the water's edge.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

Solved it ok but didn’t enjoy it, too many dated clues...

Hungry Mother 7:16 AM  

Had to guess a bit at the Natick point, but simple enough. Do I really have to learn the Hebrew alphabet?

Charles Flaster 7:30 AM  

Liked it a lot.
Very easy but a DNF at ToKI.BUTTER RIVALS was favorite themer.
Thanks RT.

CS 7:47 AM  

Just wanted to echo what Seth said (at 3:15 am - nocturnal? Left coast?). While I've been doing crosswords for a while, I still consider myself in the new/learning camp, and look forward to relaxing Sunday puzzles I can actually complete. Not every puzzle has to be challenging -- don't we want to be inclusive? (well I guess that is not everyone's goal).

On the plus side, loved the cat letter & photo. I had a cat who liked to walk on the piano keys when I was a kid practicing. Great excuse to get distracted ;-)

-- CS

JJ 7:48 AM  

Record time here as well. I agree with @seth. I have a couple of friends who are excited to finish a Tuesday puzzle. To finish a Sunday will hopefully hook them for life.
I also expected another virtue signalling diatribe on LOVE DART. Glad to have learned something new.

clk 7:56 AM  

I’m a little surprised Rex didn’t comment on TIKI. For me, TIKI is generally fine but maybe not today, on the anniversary weekend of the Charlottesville rally. I’d just read a couple articles about Heather Heyer’s death and some controversy about NPR’s interview with the rally organizer before I did the puzzle so it seemed more egregious than it would another time, but today all TIKI evoked was the image of those otherwise normal looking men marching through Charlottesville with their torches chanting “Jews will not replace us”.

Cyclist227 8:01 AM  

Made a Monday puzzle look hard. Nothing challenging.

ArtO 8:04 AM  

Don't specifically time myself but did note that my solve was somewhere around 30-35 minutes which is well short of any previous Sunday time. Did not mind the simplistic theme. Thought the reveals were kind of cute.

Cassieopia 8:05 AM  

Jungle All The Way made me laugh. Yes, even I, a fairly novice solver, noticed how very easy this was, but didn’t mind feeling smart for finishing in almost half my usual time.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

Bee Cee-- I've noticed for a while that the clues are dated. But I will say that Rita Moreno (octogenarian or not) is currently on a TV show. I believe she's nominated for an Emmy this year.

FLAC 8:27 AM  

@Seth said it best.

The problem, Rex, is not that you are a crank, but that you are a snob. The unarticulated premise of your review is that every NYT crossword must satisfy that subset of solvers for whom crosswording is a religious rite, and not the the millions who, like me, do it simply for fun.

Easy or not, this puzzle was fun.

blinker474 8:40 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Who could not like the theme answers, all of them entertaining? "Curses fouled again" and "Truck Questions". Well, Rex, of course, but that's his schtick.

pmdm 8:48 AM  

Seth is the most reasonable person who's posted a comment today. Most of us know know what we like, and unfortunately most here want it "my way or no way." Jeff Chen laughed at the theme entries today and so did I. Many of you have expressed unhappiness with the political solution. But when it comes to a crossword puzzle ...

GHarris 9:05 AM  

Generally easy but doing it late at night in bed I had to leave some undone until morning when everything fell quickly into place. Except was undone by the abaser crossing with headed. I had tended to and order was wtf.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Are you f***ing serious?

Alicia Stetson 9:11 AM  

"Racist aunt since 1899..."

Nancy 9:22 AM  

Whew! I am so glad I'm not a female snail or slug! I was afraid that painful-sounding LOVE DART might be aimed at me or at someone I know! And I was thinking: We've got drones that can crash into airplanes or fall down and hit you on the head in Central Park. We've got plastic, untraceable guns that you can "print" yourself as an adorable little hobby. We've got cars that can drive themselves...straight into a brick wall. And now a LOVE DART. What will hubristic, greedy corporate America come up with next?

I really was thinking all that as I coasted mindlessly through this easy and uninspired puzzle. So thanks for telling me, Rex, that the LOVE DART is something only slugs and snails have to worry about. As for the puzzle, only JUNGLE ALL THE WAY provided any real amusement.

kitshef 9:25 AM  

Well, I really liked the theme. Thought most of the themers were clever - other than PASSWORD HUNT where the clue just does not work for me.

But yes, much too easy.

Teedmn 9:33 AM  

CURSES, FaiLED AGAIN! Quite easy today but that didn't stop me from being stupid in the NE. I didn't know AGLIO E OLIO. I did know JP MORGAN but failed to put in the G. And best of all, was reading the clue for 25A, "Part of the SkyTeam Alliance", and thinking it would be a character in one of those superhero movies. You know, Thor, Iron Man, Spiderman and ALITArIA. Gah. An airline.

I liked the theme and the title said it all - perhaps too blatantly. I've never heard of Breakstone's BUTTER but Land O'Lakes is a local brand. I liked the first four themers best. TRUCK QUESTIONS was pretty good also.

Nice job, Ross Trudeau.

CDilly52 9:35 AM  

OFL and I went through the same process as regards LOVEDART. I expected a couple arcane literary references. Instead I have some dynamite trivia for use at some later date. Nothing we learn is ever wasted and I eagerly await needing to have learned the definition of penial stylet! Not record time except at the themers. One of those wavelength issues again.

Suzie Q 9:37 AM  

I breezed through this and had a ball. The theme answers made me laugh. There was some interesting fill that caught my eye like diminutive and that tongue-twisting trattoria menu phrase. Clues like the one for honk and legal pads were fun to figure out.
Jungle for jingle was great.
Of course I thought of our own M&A once I got the meaning of the title. Sorry @Z but I couldn't help thinking of you for 117A.
@ Loren, I would run for the hills too if I was faced with a room of hydras!
Then we get the love darts info. Honestly it took me a few sentences before I was sure this was real. Would anyone, esp. Rex, go to such lengths for a hoax? Is this a quote from the Onion? No, it seems to be real and wonderful to know now.
I had fun solving this and Rex's review makes it sound like I am an idiot for enjoying it. But you know what? I did like it no matter what he says. Thanks Ross.

Matthew B 9:41 AM  

Maybe because I within on paper with a fountain pen.. I'm somewhat obsessed with these... and I start from the lower right, I didn't find this as easy as a lot of you folks. And usually the only NYT puzzles I do are Friday, Saturday and Sunday I hate puzzles in which I'm simply filling in the blanks
... Themewise, we've had far worse recently.. Favorite: Curses! Fouled again ! To each his own. .

QuasiMojo 9:51 AM  

Recently while staying a friend's house I had a similar problem with a cat who walked all over my keyboard every morning while I was trying to do the puzzle. She would inevitably hit the return button with one of her PAUSE and I wouldn't notice, only to have a DNF because of her interference.

And I commiserate with those who have Password Hunt issues. Just the other day I got one website that asked me to answer who was my first grade school teacher. I had no idea. I don't even remember filling out that questionaire. I had to go begging for a new pw.

As for the puzzle, too easy ISH. But a pleasant enough romp. I have nothing at all interesting to say about it, except that I had a potential Natick at SHIN/ANSARI crossing. In fact, I did not get the thrilling "you completed the puzzle, you idiot" bell and had to go back and figure that one out since SHAN sounded entirely plausible as a letter.

Rita Moreno is an amazing actress, a major star and besides stealing "West Side Story" out from under her co-stars, she was the first actress to win an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy.

Rex is quick to jump on Aunt Jemima, but I rarely hear him complain about the derogatory use of terms such as WINO, SOT, SOAK, SPONGE, LUSH etc that appear constantly in the NYT puzzle. Alcoholism is a disease, not just something to scoff at so a constructor or editor can fill in a grid.

Jamie C. 9:52 AM  

Hey, clk @7:56, "There are some fine people on both sides..."

The Big Salad 9:52 AM  

Fastest Sunday time as well, though had a run-through-the-alphabet on ALITA_IA and AG_IOEOLIO. I don't fly much, nor do I eat fancy food.

I also chuckled at the proximity of the Ocasio Cortez clue to Not Suitable For Office (UNFIT) in the Mini.

Nick D 9:55 AM  

Didn’t set a record here but close. IMHO, any puzzle these days that has both JEMIMA and TIKI is pushing it. Would a different clue for JEMIMA have been so hard? Apparently.

Gary Johnson, Scientist 10:05 AM  

TIKI is something you don't disturb in Hawaii, which Greg Brady learned in a special two-part episode. This has been proved by the experts.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Would a different clue for JEMIMA have been so hard?

There is no other clue. Think about it.

Rube 10:19 AM  

Ridiculously simple and horribly unimaginative. When my solving grid done in pen looks like a work of art as it does today then the puzzle is just way too easy. Inexperienced solvers need to work up from Monday and Tuesday and be inspired to try harder if Sunday is too hard. I want to be stumped. Never happens anymore.

Unknown 10:26 AM  

How frustrating to have such an easy puzzle and yet not finish. It was the HAS that got me. Grrrr. That's just not right.

RooMonster 10:32 AM  

Hey All !
Just when you get happy about setting a solve-time record, you come here to see Rex solved it in 1.3 seconds. Ego deflating!

I liked the "wackiness ensued" answers when the I changed to a U. I know @M&A did, this might be his WINner for puz of the year.

Who cares if it's a "simple theme"? The resulting silliness is fun: BUTTER RIVALS, CURSES FOULED AGAIN, JUNGLE ALL THE WAY. LOL! No need to get AGITATED and become an ABASER who WINOS like a TNUT.

A pangram today. In case @M&A doesn't show up today, there are 17 U's in here! Wow! Even have three F's. Lots of UPs, too. ON UP, LAY UPS, STEP UP, UPLIT. At least not a DOZEN of them. :-)


Carola 10:43 AM  

Worth it for JUNGLE ALL THE WAY and DIMINUTIVE LOVE DARTS. We have a double meaning for HIT, crossing CURSES, FOULED AGAIN and next to PASTE, perhaps with a ROUNDHOUSE. One do-over, for the informal authority: Say-so, SEe Me, SEZ ME.

Preferred Customer 10:47 AM  

Open letter to "seasoned" solvers : Thanks for your comments and insights. I enjoy learning the rules and tricks of puzzle solving /clueing. However, please don't insult us "unseasoned" solvers with soft expectations.

Sunday is supposed to be hard, the clue is supposed to be clever, etc. Saturday is expected to be worse. I find the tone patronizing when people justify a watered down crossword by saying it is good for new solvers. Every one has a different knowledge base, and motivation. I guarantee that you don't have a clue about what will help me turn into more than a casual solver.

Let's lower the basket on random days so that newbies feel good about themselves when they start to learn basketball. Changing the game doesn't help a new player get better at it.


Crimson Devil 10:58 AM  

Internet gremlins’ requiring PASSWORD is plot to assure that I’ll never see info I put there again. JUNGLE pretty good; the rest, not so much. I assume today was marketing effort, like a big Monday.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Read the title as “If one/capital I Were You” and it made it slightly less bad. Still pits.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

I'm with you, @irongirl...depending on which restaurant you patronize, there's often a significant wait between "ORDERS a steak" and "HAS a steak". Not synonyms at all. Two different actions. Yeah, I know you were going for the "misdirection as a plural noun thing", Trudeau, but HAS is so wishy-washy a word it belongs in the "AMOUNT TO/ARE" camp. I hate those uses of the verb "to be" almost as much as those of the "HARD C" ilk. Got the gimmick at BUTTER RIVALS without need for the title, and admit to smiling a little at each one, but no HA'S out loud today.

pabloinnh 11:21 AM  

I keep forgetting that this is often not "The Greatest Crossword Puzzle in the World". so my thanks to RP for the timely reminders. Since I don't know which puzzle is currently the title holder, I'm going to keep doing this one. Plus I like all the commenters.

CURSEFOULEDAGAIN was worth the price of admission for me, because baseball, which I love, but especially this year in NE.

I have a cat who walks across my keyboard. He invariably hits the paws button.


Southern Gal 11:29 AM  

Oh dear, now I see people are up in arms about Aunt Jemima? She reminds me of my grandma so leave her out of this please. Plump, warm, welcoming, and a great cook. Seeing her face on a package or that bottle made in her likeness brings back good childhood memories.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Lock her up!!!

(The cat)

Banana Diaquiri 11:52 AM  

There is no other clue. Think about it.

well.... the wiki (yes, again) lists a bunch of them in the first pull down. but, the only one vaguely familiar is Ms. Goldsmith. white, skinny, Brit and in the media. there's also a Bible reference.

Nancy 11:54 AM  

Very well said, @Preferred Customer (10:47). And welcome to the blog. You're exactly my kind of "newbie" solver. I like to think -- though it's somewhat hard to remember that far back -- that when I was a novice solver, I was just like you.

Crimson Devil 11:59 AM  

Pabloinnh: Sox @ .500 +49 is ridiculous, congrats!

Jim Crow 12:03 PM  

From an expert at Cornell: "This Aunt Jemima logo was an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the "mammy," a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own. Visually, the plantation myth portrayed her as an asexual, plump black woman wearing a headscarf. "

But let's listen to a random racist crossword blog commenter instead...

Stanley Hudson 12:23 PM  

Daniel Boone’s oldest daughter was named JEMIMA.

Stanley Hudson 12:36 PM  

@Jim Crow 12:03 PM, thank you.

puzzlehoarder 1:06 PM  

I filled in the outer edges of the puzzle first and then tackled the interior. This allowed me to stick with the fill and avoid the theme for as long as possible. Filling the themes in was like being forced to listen to someone's stale dad jokes. This kind of Sunday is a big let down after an engaging puzzle like we had yesterday.

To add injury to insult I dnfed with HEUDTO at 90D. That's right I saw it as "hewed to". This was a dyslexic bad spelling, homonym confusing, brain fart of unprecedented proportions even for myself.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Beatrix Potter’s character, Jemima Puddleduck was always one of my favourites.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Puzzlehoarder, I, for one, am interested in hearing how your knee surgery rehab is progressing and how you are adjusting (adapting) to a post-firehouse life. If you care to share, that is.

Banana Diaquiri 1:33 PM  

baseball, which I love, but especially this year in NE

well... south and west of Bean Town there's great angst over the Failing New York Yankees.

ZenMonkey 1:43 PM  

I disagree with @Seth and agree with @Preferred Solver.

My mother learned to solve the puzzle during the Farrar era. The books she gave me when I started learning had a mix of Farrar, Maleska, and Shortz. I did not start with Sundays. I started with Mondays only, taking a ridiculously long time on each with a guaranteed DNF. Eventually I got good/experienced enough to try Tuesdays. Then Wednesdays. I think I started tackling Sunday once I had some experience with Thursdays.

It was a perfect learning curve and the satisfaction at every new finished puzzle, every step up to a new day, was as good as a prize. And when my best friend wanted to start doing the NYT, that's how I told her to do it and she had a similarly great experience.

I fully agree that lowering Sunday's bar to accommodate newbies is a terrible idea, as is the idea that we should sigh and smile and graciously accept a sub-par puzzle because aww, someone might learn something. Sundays should not be an entry day for inexperienced NYT solvers, or at least should not be intended as such. That's what Mondays and Tuesdays are for.

I expect better from my Sundays.

Amelia 1:46 PM  
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Anonymous 1:52 PM  

@Alicia Stetson 9:11 AM

I had no idea Aunt Jemima was a racist. On the other hand, Uncle Ben, well.....everybody knows...

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

"Shin" is one of the Hebrew letters that were incorporated into the Cyrillic alphabet, along with Roman, Greek, and other letters. If you know Russian, you should know shin.

michiganman 2:01 PM  

I don't object to Aunt JEMIMA but:

Clue as "Goldsmith"

Jemima Marcelle Goldsmith (born 30 January 1974) is a British TV, film and documentary producer, journalist and campaigner.[2][3][1][4][5][6] She is an associate editor of New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair.[7][8] Goldsmith married Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan in 1995, and had two sons. The couple divorced in 2004.[9]

Anonymous 2:07 PM  


Anonymous 2:43 PM  

So Jemima clued as as Jemima Goldsmith would be acceptable but “chink in the armor” is objectionable. It’s all clear to me know. Thanks.

Chim cham 2:44 PM  

If novice solvers never get a puzzle like this now and then, they’d move on without feeling the joy of a completion.

beajen 3:10 PM  

So many here preach “sensitivity” and yet, at the same time, aggressively dismiss average solvers. Elitist minority dictates what regular people should think and do. This blog is starting to get hurtful!

Maxine Nerdström 3:14 PM  

unrelated to the puzzle, i think you should consider a P.O. box, Mr Sharp. it seems clear from an occasional reading of this comments section that some of your “fans” don’t like you very much, and there are a lot of dickish creeps on the internet. i worry, because i’m a worrier.

thanks for sharing your strong opinions. i appreciate them, even when i don’t agree.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  
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Anonymous 4:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Jemima Kirke was one of the lead actresses on “Girls.”

pabloinnh 4:21 PM  

@Crimson Devil (Liverpool fan?)-Thanks for the congrats, I wish I had something to do with this surreal season. I don't even have any good superstitions. Another win today to complete the sweep, just going to hang on and enjoy the ride.

@B Daq--And much as I like the "failing NYY" sobriquet, I'll dismiss them when they're out of the playoffs. Too much New England fatalism, probably.

thefogman 4:36 PM  

I'm sorry I did not know ANSARI (or SHIN). Naticked because of that one square. Guessed ANSARe/SHeN. Wrong! Oh well, it is Sunday after all. I'm weak on Hebrew letters so that was my downfall. Other than that, it was a most enjoyable solve.
PS - With all the fascinating talk about LOVE DARTs, I thought for sure Rex was going to post this classic video.

mmorgan 5:20 PM  

When I got BUTTERR________, I briefly thought it might be BUTTER Ringer, as a play on butter finger, already sensing there was a letter substitution involved, not realizing they were all just I's and U's, and thinking that butter ringer was a cute play on not-quite butter substitutes. (There's some logic in there, even if it's convoluted). But it didn't hold me up for long. Yes, this was a very easy puzzle, but I enjoyed it and the themers made me smile. I thought JEMIMA might generate far more dissension than it did. I don't much care for the argument that "old" answers or clues are somehow problematic (such as the amazing RITA Moreno). There's plenty of new stuff in these puzzles that mean nothing to me. The mix is fine, and losing track of talented people and important events of the past is sad. What's fresh and contemporary today becomes old remarkably fast. Embrace the new and remember and appreciate the old, folks!

Anoa Bob 5:44 PM  

Alterant (from yesterday) clue for 112A: "Was a lifelong patron"; LOVED ART

WHOA appears regularly, today at 66D, and always looks weird to me. I'm thinking the spelling doesn't jibe with the pronunciation. The former looks more like "hoo-ah" or "hoo-eh" while the latter is more like "woe", as in "stop!" I think "woh" would work better.

Aketi 6:27 PM  

Haha, first I learn that some SNAILs have teeth from @Lewis a while back and today I lean from @Rex that they shoot LOVE DARTS at each other.

About the only thing our big bad male cat leaves alone is the iPad I use to solve Puzzles. Our usually much less destructive female cat Faith, however, tries to use if aa a rubbing post if I’m holding it. If I put it on a flat surface she tries to sleep on it. She definitely interrupts my solving time. Both of them are capable of turning the electric keyboard on and walking across the keys in the middle of the night.

My PASSWORD HUNTs are more challenging on the iPad because it’s so much easier to make typos than typing on a computer keyboard. I’m sure a good proportion of my PASSWORD changes are due to iPad typos.

MetroGnome 7:02 PM  

That entire "JEMIMA" car-wreck could have been avoided with an alternative (and much more erudite) clue, such as "Daughter of Job".

Barry Frain 7:20 PM  

Rita Moreno is one of the great actors/singers/performers of our times. And in her 80s she’s STILL working and drawing awards. If you’re unaware of this then fuck you.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

MetroGnome 7:21 PM  

Okay, honest question -- why is TIKI torch offensive? Is it considered a racist term? I know the word "Tiki" dates back to Maori ancestor worship, so technically it might be considered an act of "appropriation" to use it in the modern English vernacular -- but unless we're going to outlaw any and all "ethnic" references to everyday things (Polish sausage, Chinese checkers, Dutch treat, French kiss [!!], the chess move known as the Spanish dagger, hula skirt, luau, etc.), I don't see how it's insulting anyone or anything to use the word. Certainly no one using it is trying to insult or stereotype people of Maori descent!

MetroGnome 7:29 PM  

p.p.s. (I guess) -- Seriously, do people honestly think now that "chink in the armor" is an offensive term?! That's about as ignorant as getting upset over the word "niggardly". The term "chink" has been used to mean a "crack" or an "opening" since the 15th Century -- long before the racist slur was ever thought of, I'm sure.

("Chink" also describes a percussive, metallic sound -- so should we never say that a tedious drummer plays a "chink-a-chink rhythm"?)

Next thing, we'll be outlawing the term "Achilles heel" because it mocks Greeks.

JC66 7:31 PM  

@ MetroGnome

One year ago today, the Charlottesville Neo-Nazis carried TIKI torches.

MetroGnome 7:48 PM  

JC66 -- Okay. So slimeball neo-Fascists use a particular item, and that means that even NAMING that particular item is now taboo? The 9/11 terrorists used AIRPLANES; Nazi torturers used DAGGERS; American slave owners used WHIPS; racists and demagogues use MICROPHONES and BULLHORNS; Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" on PAPER (probably using a TYPEWRITER) . . . we've come to the point where MENTIONING AN OBJECT is offensive!?!? Does anything exist that HASN'T been misused or used for nefarious purposes at some time in history?

JC66 8:01 PM  

@@ MetroGnome

Calm down.

I was just answering your honest question.

The fact that some people feel offended when TIKI appears in the NYT puzzle on the one year anniversary of Charlottesville isn't surprising. No one is saying you, or anyone else, has to be offended.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

@JC66: The one year anniversary of Charlottesville what does that mean ? One innocent person was run over and killed by some alt-right idiot. Is this the one week anniversary of Chicago where thirteen people were killed and over fifty were shot ? Seriously, because the victim was a white woman rather than black males is her death more tragic ? Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

JC66 8:59 PM  

@Anon 8:56

Is there anything in today's puzzle referring to the Chicago killings that people might feel offended about?

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

@JC : No idea. No man is an island.

jae 9:25 PM  

To update my earlier post, the LATimes puzzle had a very similar theme and was also very easy.

Captain Obvious 9:36 PM  

I think the solution is for all of us to not be offended by crossword clues and answers. It’s not difficult.

clk 10:01 PM  

Sign from today's Unite the Right 2 counterprotest: "Make tiki torches non political again."

Monty Boy 10:20 PM  

I'm with Seth on the need for some easy puzzles, even Sunday now and again. We'll always have Fri/Sat for the harder ones to sharpen skills. I'm in the "non-speed" club - I prefer that term to beginner/neophyte.

For @LMS and Pirate fans: You can get the whole '60 Game 9 on YouTube. It's a kinescope or some such poor quality, but you get the fever of it. It's kinda amazing, as is the whole series. The games the Yankees won were usually 10 to 1 and the Pirates wins were one run affairs. I lived in Pittsburgh for 10 years in '70s and saw some of the players from '60. Mazeroski was a magician at 2nd base.

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

Very predictable, Sharpe's comment about having nothing against the Hebrew language. Totally consistent over the years. Talk amongst yourselves.

Shackfu 10:50 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Didn’t like the clueing for “FEED ME!, MAYBE”. What does a cat have to do with food? I guess it could have said WOOF or CHIRP or OINK or any other animal sound. Meh as it added 10 minutes to my time.

thefogman 9:19 AM  
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John Hoffman 1:04 PM  

Are you f***ing serious?

John Hoffman 1:11 PM  

I’m a lower-level solver so an easier Sunday like this is a real pleasure for me.

Katzzz 4:58 PM  

Exactly. Some Sundays should be for beginners every once in a while.

Gian 7:03 PM  

Just home from vacation and zoomed through this one. As an Italian, I particularly enjoyed ALITALIA crossing AGLIO E OLIO. Made me smile.

Burma Shave 6:15 AM  


who EARNIT with each TUG and pull,


spacecraft 12:27 PM  

Oh come on, it wasn't THAT kindergarten-easy. How about the NE? I confused my billionaires: CARNEGIE fits nicely into 21-across' after correcting that, I was sure I was off somewhere with that vowel-choked 16-down. Couldn't get rid of any of the crosses, though, so I left it in.

In the SW I had LOVEnote; never heard of a LOVEDART and learned TMI about it in the WOD. And what's so God-awful bad about this puzzle? There ARE a few things--like the stupid clue for ARE--but no more than expected in a big grid.

One nit: you "bust out" {"FELTED" would fit) of a poker tourney. You GOBUST at the blackjack table--and it's your own fault if you HIT twelve against a five. I have never heard of anyone to GOBUST at poker. The clue should have referred to 21.

DOD is quad-statuette winner RITA Moreno--or Andi McDowell who so charmingly played RITA the producer in "Groundhog Day." OFL, you need to lighten up {get UPLIT?) a bit. This is no worse than a PAR. SEZME.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

My first fill-in was Jemima and I was off to the racists ! How did I know some commenters would object to this clueing ?? Lucky guess, I guess.
Very happy with my time until I read Rex's comments.But at least I'm not slaving over a crossword all Sunday.

rainforest 2:04 PM  

I'm pretty well in agreement with @Spacey today, except I was stupider and didn't figure the theme out until the third themer. It didn't help that "I want my MTV" meant nothing to me and I've never heard of this MALEK fella.

Ergo, I struggled in the top third of the puzzle, and only after CURSES FOULED AGAIN did I start to gain momentum.

Aside from its lack of challenge though, there was nothing bad about this puzzle, unless of course you get bent out of shape seeing JEMIMA and TIKI TORCH (really!?).

Diana,LIW 2:09 PM  

See all you Synders in 10 days - Mr. W and I are off to look at cars, cars, cars. I shan't have regular access to the internet et. al. Then I'll have a bunch of puzzes to catch up on.

Enjoy your week, and stay cool!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, puzzling in the air soon, still not a robot

AnonymousPVX 2:40 PM  

I’m always happy to get a solve. This one was easy for a Sunday, but so what? I also agree the theme was quite basic, but I detest themes anyway.

rondo 2:46 PM  

Anon 1:35 - That's one of the funniest posts ever.
As soon as I got BUTTERRIVALS I knew exactly OFL's complaints: one letter switch, not all occurrences, old-feeling, etc., etc. Which today is not that far off.

Wonder if they serve AGLIOEOLIO on ALITALIA. Maybe with a couple more consonants.

OLE says RITA Moreno for yeah baby, but what about Jaye P. MORGAN who took off her shirt on the Gong Show?

This puz didn't get me AGITATED, but it's not the cat's MEOW.

leftcoastTAM 5:01 PM  

Slog factor for Sunday was quite low today. Appreciated that.

Moved fairly easily through it after seeing the gimmick early on at BUTTERRIVALS. Noticed, too, that it was strictly one-way, across only, for all of the themers. (Assume it would be too tough to construct so it would work with the crossing downs as well.)

As for the fill, thought LEGALPADS had the cleverest clue ("Extended writer's blocks") and answer. And almost always slowed by a tricky "Comedic duo"/HARDCS-type clue and phonics answer.

Let's call it a Funday.

Mondegreen 9:31 PM  

Thank you, thrice over.

Mondegreen 9:51 PM  

None of us here is a 'lower-level' solver. We do the puzzles as entertainment, a diversion, and perhaps to learn a thing or two. I solve at my own pace, not against a clock. Kudos (I guess) to all the elitist solvers out there, but I'll just keep plugging along, thank-you-very-much.

Unknown 12:29 PM  

Thanks , Seth. I really enjoyed it as compared to the tougher ones. Jack

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