Jazz singer who acted in Roots / SUN 8-5-18 / Sorbet-like dessert originally from Sicily / Competitor of Rugby / Cause of tossed joystick maybe / Trusted news source in Mideast / All-female group with 1986 #1 hit Venus / One-named singer whose last name is Adkins

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Constructor: Alison Ohringer and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Easy (though I finished w/ a fatal error, or, as I'm calling it, "miZtake") (9:17)

THEME: "Ghosted" — Two-word phrases where the second word is an anagram of the first word *minus* one letter. Letters not included in the second word are circled. Take those letters all together, you get the word PHANTOMS (hence the title). All of it is brought together by the central revealer: 69A: Like this puzzle's circled letters vis-à-vis their Across answers (LOST IN THE SHUFFLE)

Theme answers:
  • PARTY TRAY (24A: Caterer's platter)
  • HEART RATE (31A: Beat generation figure?)
  • TASTE TEST (48A: Oral examination?)
  • CARMEN MCRAE (56A: Jazz singer who acted in the "Roots" miniseries)
  • CHATTY CATHY (86A: Talkative sort)
  • LOCAL CALL (95A: It might take only seven digits)
  • GAMER RAGE (108A: Cause of a tossed joystick, maybe)
  • BRASS BARS (121A: Some rustproof rails)
Word of the Day: APARNA Nancherla (118A: Comic ___ Nancherla)
Aparna Nancherla (born August 22, 1982) is an American comedian and actress. She has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer and has written for Late Night with Seth Meyers and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Nancherla released her debut comedy album Just Putting It Out There through Tig Notaro's Bentzen Ball Records on July 8, 2016. [...] 
In season four of BoJack Horseman, Nancherla had a recurring voice role as BoJack's alleged daughter, Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack.[She also plays a ramen blogger on season two of Master of None, (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a gratuitous picture of my dog and her brother
It has no relationship to the puzzle that I know of
What an interesting puzzle. The theme snuck up on me, much in the way a ghost might, I guess, in that I didn't see it at all ... until I was done and it was like "boo!" and I was like "ahhh!" The gimmick here is a strange little word phrase phenomenon that probably would not have been strong enough on its own had it not been for a very good revealer, and then (the cherry on top ... of the ghost) the way that the "disappearing" letters actually spell PHANTOMS. Three layers of interest here. The theme is consistent, and, best of all, the grid holds up all on its own, regardless of the theme (which is pretty much how I experienced it in real time). It works as a giant themeless because there are plenty of interesting words and phrases and the fill is not obviously compromised by the theme answers. It's solid, polished work all around. This collaboration came out of the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory (CPCD), a Facebook group for aspiring constructors that you can find here. The CPCD is doing the leadership and mentoring work that the NYT would be doing itself if it were doing its job. So good for them.

So my "miZtake" ... I hit LAMAZE and couldn't remember if it was spelled with an "S" or a "Z," so I left it, or thought I did, but apparently I wrote in the "S" thinking the cross would either take care of it or it wouldn't. And it didn't. The cross was FRAZIER, and I knew "Down Goes FRAZIER" was the phrase, but what I wrote was "Down Goes Frasier," the supercilious psychiatrist of '90s TV fame. Weirdly, I just watched Kelsey Grammer's new Netflix movie last night between midnight and 2am, when I really should've been sleeping, but That's Neither Here Nor There. Anyway, under tournament conditions I would totally have bombed this because of that dumb error. But because I'm solving under at-home conditions, my computer refused to give me Happy Pencil, so I knew to look for my error, and found it pretty quickly. I was really hoping it was a mere typo (which I don't count as errors, since I wouldn't make a pencil-typo under tourney conditions) ... but alas no. The error was genuine.

The theme answer set was mostly decent, though GAMER RAGE felt a little forced (I've heard of RAGEQUITting before, but GAMER RAGE is something I assume exists but don't really believe is a stand-alone concept ... kind of like GREEN PAINT ... speaking of which: BRASS BARS (!?)). But I can forgive a little wobbliness in the themer set since this is a pretty narrow path the theme has to walk. It's a very demanding, limited theme—getting the right phrases and answer lengths and the sequence to work out probably didn't leave a lot of wiggle room. As for the fill, I especially like SERENA SLAM and BOX OUT and BBC ARABIC, although that last one nearly killed me. It's BBC AMERICA, not AMERICAN, so I assumed the BBC channel in question would be a place name, not an adjective. Thus I had BBC ARABIA ... which wouldn't work with NATS ... which was wrong anyway (130A: Washington team, familiarly (CAPS)). The relationship between DRIP and insomnia eluded me forever, and I kept vacillating between AMEN and I'M IN for 126A: "Let's do it!" ... so that whole SE corner was probably the toughest section for me in an otherwise quite easy grid.

  • 11D: Nail polish brand (OPI) — got it confused with ESSIE (also a nail polish brand?) and ended up with EPI at one point, I think
  • 25D: Chuck in the air (YEAGER) — Ahhhhh. Aha. I see. Pretty sneaky, sis. See also 44A: Passes out (DEALS)
  • 118A: Comic ___ Nancherla (APARNA) — For regular, non-Sunday puzzles, APARNANANCHERLA is a perfect, grid-spanning 15. It also has NANA embedded in the middle, in case you were looking to do some kind of Peter Pan or ... uh ... Zola theme.
  • 93A: Hell, informally (SAM HILL) — very hard for me, since OTHER PEOPLE wouldn't fit
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. another reminder that Lollapuzzoola crossword puzzle tournament (one of my faves) is happening in NYC in just under two weeks. Register! Go! It's great fun. I'll be there, if that's a selling point. If not, I'll be very easy to ignore: 200-300 people usually show up. INFO HERE.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:29 AM  

I managed to get all those proper names right, which is my bugbear in any PPP situation, so my last entry was 130Across, CAPS, after trying nats. I spelled out PHANTOM, but had to look closer to see (arty-arty)(rate-rate)(test-test)(cream-cream)(cathy-cathy)(call-call)(rage-rage)(bars-bars), one being an anagram of the other. Solid Sunday fare by Alison and Erik.

TomAz 12:31 AM  

Played like a good themeless for me. I knew there was something going on but I didn't need to know it to complete my solve so I didn't bother grokking/cottoning/sussing it out.

But yeah as Rex says: this is smooth. this is a Mel Torme, a Johnny Mathis puzzle.

I had never heard SAM HILL before but I see that it is a thing. I did't know APARNA nor GAMER RAGE so that was the last bit to fall.

I did rather like GRANITA and CHATTY CATHY and IRAN GATE and LOCAL CALL.

Good puzzle.

chris b 12:44 AM  

If I can finish the puzzle and still not get the theme, I consider it a failed puzzle.

jae 1:54 AM  

On the tough side. Two problems: (1) nAtS before CAPS for way too long and (2) I kept staring at the grid after I filled in the theme clue but before I finished trying to suss what was going on...countless nanoseconds (@m&a) vanished in to thin air before the light finally went on.

Clever and a bit obtuse, liked it.

So @Rex, was the Grammer movie any good?

Dolgo 2:05 AM  

Pretty pedestrian.

chefwen 2:53 AM  

Got all my little boxes filled in and figured out PHANTOM, that’s as far as my thought process went. Basta, no mas, I was done. Had I tried to take it a step further I feared a headache, so this time good enough was just fine.

Lived here for 15 years and never knew POI was fermented, never tried the stuff, it looks and has the consistency of wall paper paste, I’m sure I’m not missing much. Pass!

Puzzle partner gave me GAME RAGE and BOX OUT, I had no clue. Oh, and he fixed my U.S. Ten to U.S.ONE. Not up on my highways.

JOHN XXL 3:07 AM  

I don't think I have ever heard the term IRANGATE for the IRAN-CONTRA SCANDAL, except maybe for a few hacks who like adding the GATE suffix to any scandal. Also, that SW corner was kinda nasty. Other than that, this puzzle was pretty routine.

frankbirthdaycake 5:17 AM  

This was a fun puzzle. A little on the easy side but a nonetheless pleasant way to begin a Sunday.

Lewis 6:20 AM  

I love it when constructors make quirky/neat/cool finds about our language and showcase them in a puzzle. Usually it goes like this: Constructor finds something cool in a word or phrase and wonders if there are other examples, and if they come up with enough, it becomes the basis for a puzzle. Which is exactly what happened here, according to Erik's notes.

People whose only goal is to successfully complete a puzzle -- who don't try to suss out a theme or disparage the theme if it didn't help their solve -- can miss out on enjoying the quirky/interesting discovery the constructor(s) made, and, IMO, they bypass a day-enriching moment.

When the theme hit me, post-solve, my feeling kinda was, "Wow! Now ain't that the coolest thing in God's green earth!" So not only was there joy in solving this one for me, but it was capped with an exclamation point of amazement. And I left the puzzle thinking, "Ain't life grand?"

mmorgan 6:21 AM  

Impressive construction. Not so great a solving experience -- more chore than sparkle. I'm astonished that Rex liked this more than I did; that never happens!

Hungry Mother 6:27 AM  

Pretty fast today. I liked the theme and it helped a bit. I rarely finish a Sunday before my morning race, so there’s that.

'mericans in Paris 6:50 AM  

What in the SAM HILL ...?!

Mrs. 'mericans filled in most of this one. (I think she was puzzle-starved.) I played around a bit in the NW, then helped her complete it in the S.E. Also wasn't sure whether it was BBC ARABIa or ARABIC. DRIP as a cause of insomnia is an old puzzle standby, however, so it didn't take long to suss that out.

I admire the challenge of the theme, but it didn't increase my PULSE or HEART TRATE. We solved it pretty much as a themeless.

The fill was reasonably clean, but often way too easily clued -- e.g., ITALY clued as the "Birthplace of the Renaissance", and FRANCE as "2018 World Cup Champs". A rather motley CRUE if you ask me.

Question: Does a LIAR always FLAT OUT LIE, especially when he is communicating in all CAPS?

Just remember: the L(E)AST shall not be first on their LSAT.

High temperature in Paris today will be 33C (92F), tomorrow 35C (95F), and 38C (100F) on Tuesday. THYME to break out something WET, like a vodka and LIME JUICE.

P.S. to @chefwen: POI isn't so bad. It passes the TASTE(less) TEST.

pmdm 6:58 AM  

After solving this puzzle, I had a very neutral and quizzical feeling. (Quizzicle because I did not get the theme.)

The swipe in the write-up at the NY Times is gratuitous in that it has nothing at all to do with today's puzzle. It seems to be a complaint about the Times made simply for the sake of complaining about the Times. Some of those who comment here war about Mr. Sharp's comments aimed at the Times, Mr. Shortz, or the puzzle. Today's swipe perhaps says something about the issue.

chris b: Was it that you couldn't figure it out or that you didn't spend enough time trying to figure it out? Because I had to work yesterday and today, I didn't have the time to figure it out. I suppose if I really tried to figure out the theme I would have. So I would judge the puzzle to be OK and to call the failure a characteristic of the solvers, not the puzzle. But I certainly know what you mean. When, as happened recently, Jeff Chen had to ask Shortz what the puzzle theme was, that would be a puzzle failure.

chefwan: Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet) siad on one of his shows that he hated poi. So I guess you are not missing much.

JJ 7:51 AM  

There seemed to be a lot of answers that I only got by the crosses, yet finished in half normal time. I got the PHANTOMS, but never saw the anagrams until I went to xwordinfo. I also spent a great deal of time sussing out the southeast corner. I kept sticking with AMEN and NATS. I've never heard of CARMEN, APURNA, nor ERYKAH. I'm hoping they show up again soon so that the names will stick.
I would have considered this a very challenging Sunday--- until I saw my time. I never cease to be impressed by what these constructors construe when they look at everyday words.

roscoe88 7:53 AM  

pretty simple but construction was interesting and helped in the solving.

Helpful to have it available to satisfy puzzling desires right after bombing out on yesterday's disaster for me.

QuasiMojo 8:05 AM  

Rex, is that photo meant to imply "Let sleeping dogs lie"?

Also wasn't it NINA that was embedded? Not NANA. At least in Hirschfeld's drawings. :)

I managed to finish this bear with no cheating, and I guessed right on the Z in Lamaze (although I remember watching that Frazier fight.)

Wanted SMOKY for the beans flavor. I don't like baked beans so MAPLE was a hard nut for me to crack.

ADELE next to HURLS seemed right in my wheelhouse.

CLEVER theme. I'll give 'em that.

kitshef 8:06 AM  

Pretty solid Sunday. Would have preferred no circles, but it worked OK as is.

But … ADELE/BADU cross is inherently unfair. Yes, they are both pretty famous. But crossing two names from the same small area of knowledge is a no-no.

How many answers did you consider for 9A? Daisy, Basil, Holly, Fleur, Olive all went through my mind.

TEA RAT at 40D confused me for a bit.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Here’s a link for the above-mentioned cartoon illustrating the HAND BRA.

I’ve always admired Lynne Johnston's art. Fun Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

got stuck in the triode/olla intersection. and the always hard to spell shtetl. but the theme was clever, very clever indeed.

oh and another dig at the nyt. rex is the king of the shudda, wudda, cudda. must be lonely in that kingdom.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

I saw what was going on with the theme right off the bat, and the anagrams helped to SPEED my solve. Just two seconds shy of my best Sunday time. Is SAM HILL used in other ways than in the phrase “what in the...?”

Hartley70 8:20 AM  

This was a fast solve as a themeless since the theme was only enjoyed in retrospect. I normally really dislike anagrams but these were short so I didn’t get a headache. It was clever and I liked the double revealer of the circles and LOSTINTHESHUFFLE, but a part of me was hoping for a spectral image. I love a good ghost story.

emspop1 8:21 AM  

Nice, lecture-free review.

Teedmn 8:37 AM  

I tried really hard to DNF on this puzzle and I succeeded. First, I had BBC ARABIa and at the last second realized the Washington team had to be the CAPS, not the aAPS. Then, I had DUEl for what it takes two to do, at 18D, making the Beat generation figure a HEART RAlE. Ah, HEART RATE, nice clue.

But, ironically, I had hesitated on the H of HEART RATE for quite some time. 12D's clue was "When jams are produced". I had eliminated any idea of "harvest time" and had RUS__OUR. "Really?" I thought, "RUSH tOUR has to be the green paint-iest answer ever for when jams are produced". Sorry ELIJAH, I thought ELIJAt could work. BAH!

Pretty easy today, and is that it? PHANTOMS? Ah, reading Jeff Chen didn't give me the trick but his explanation combined with Rex's red depiction of the ghosted letter got it for me. Nice that they spell PHANTOMS.

Congratulations, Alison, on your debut. Keep constructing!

MickMcMick 8:41 AM  

I believe Reagan era scandal was Iran-Contra. Loved Chatty Cathy, my little sister was relentless in her nagging my parents into buying her one, or was that Patty Playpal. Iconic,60ies dolls. Easy one this Sunday after a tough Saturday. Cheers as always Rex!

beajen 8:42 AM  

As a parent of a 13 year old, I’m very familiar with GAMER RAGE. Although it’s not really a joystick anymore, it’s a controller (there is a tiny joystick in it). GAMER RAGE includes HURLing an iPhone across the room, screams etc....

Nancy 8:45 AM  

It wasn't a very exciting theme, but it was a theme that helped me out in areas where I was stymied by the PPP. I'm looking at you, APARNA Nancheria (you should know that Google doesn't even accept you when I type your name); BANANARAMA and NADU (I forgot to check and see if I'm right about one or both of you guys/gals). Anyway, because the theme helped me get GAMER RAGE and BRASS BARS, it wasn't completely LOST IN THE SHUFFLE. The fill was less than SOARING, what with such old standbys as ETON, EGGO, I SEE, APSE, SSNS, SOT and EPEE. There were some nice clues, but ---Kippur? Really? On a Sunday? The liveliest fill for me was CHATTY CATHY and SERENA SLAM. Other than that, a pretty bland puzzle, I thought.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I pronounce “diamond” with two syllables, but know plenty of people who pronounce it die-uh-mund (including my DC born and raised father).

Also I work for the Caps and I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen us in a crossword. Not quite as fun as winning the Stanley Cup this year, but great nonetheles!

Phil 9:03 AM  

Weirdly same trouble spots as rex except the Z was only in the vicinity of my unfound error. I remember the tuetonic tribes from HS world History but figured there was another, maybe cousins, called TELTONS. Couldn't get rid of my LIME SLICE and a reasonable ELISAH didn't help.

But NATS for me also but I had DIET for insomnia cause, that didn’t help

Saw PHANTOM but got lost in the rest of the theme. Glad to read Rex blog to help me see it.

Fun puzzle, thank you

Grammar Nazi 9:17 AM  

Roo Monster: Schrodinger? Chess?! I don't suppose you have a link to that one?

AW 9:17 AM  

I think @Lewis is going to have a long, happy life because his attitude is always cheerful and positive. Never an unkind word, always glass-half-full. From an inveterate grouch, Hats off to you, sir.

My ninety-five-year-old father-in-law always says "What the Sam Hill" so at least one clue was easy fill for me.

As for the rest of the puzzle, I had to correct the Frazier/Lamaz cross as well, but filled in the rest pretty easily. Wondered a bit where the PHANTOM S was that got lost in the shuffle—couldn't see any misplaced esses—and had to come here to figure out the gimmick (PHANTOMS), as always. Sigh.

HumanBean 9:26 AM  

An easy Sunday for me! I made the same mistake as Rex on “Frazier/Lamaze”, and also had GIGS for GAGS on 108D, so messed up on APARNA’s name (never heard of her). I did get the anagram theme, but didn’t notice the PHANTOM. All in all, a fun puzzle!

Carola 9:37 AM  

Elegant. Nifty concept, dynamite reveal. I solved top to bottom and refused to let myself get past the CENTER without figuring out the theme. That definitely helped with the rest of the theme answers. I should also have refused to let myself give up on the Washington team: as I only know the Nats, which didn't fit with DRIP, I threw in the towel instead of doing an alphabet run to see if there was an alternative to ARABIa. Geez, I would only have had to get to C.

Love the pairing of CARMEN MCRAE and CHATTY CATHY. Trying to envision a dessert-course PARTY TRAY that might include BRASS BARS. Here in the Midwest we can conjure up BARS out of just about anything.

Z 9:39 AM  

Three levels of letter-play still isn’t as good as one level of decent word play. This is fine, even excellent for what it is, but not a theme type I will ever love.

As for Rex’s “swipe at the NYT,” is it really that hard to understand? NYTX has a gender issue. One response is to blame women. A better response is to ask yourself, “what are the barriers keeping women out of construction?” and then seek to mitigate them. The NYTX and, yes, Will Shortz, choose to do the first, leaving it to others to do the second. If you don’t recognize this, one response is to yell at Rex for pointing it out. A better response is to ask yourself why you are blind to injustice, however minor in the big scheme of things.

Jim Lemire 9:41 AM  

Enjoyed this clever puzzle. I needed the theme to help me get GAMER RAGE and HEART RATE - I was totally tripped up by the “beat generation” in the clue, so kept looking for some beatnik association, never once considering something else...even when I had all but two of the crosses - both TSARS and DUET eluded me for quite some time. I wanted TSARS to be a river or a mountain range based on the clue and had fUEd before DUEl before DUET.

One thing that bothered me was IRANGATE. Is that what it was called at the time? Is that what we call it now? I remember Iran Contra Affair and such, but I can’t ever remember hearing it called a “gate” a la Watergate, and the NFL’s Spygate and Deflategste. I guess this is what we do now for high profile scandals and coverups.

kitshef 9:47 AM  

Forgot to mention I was hoping Rex would like to the iconic BANANARAMA video for Venus

Rube 9:52 AM  

Easy (p)easy. But who in the Sam Hill is aparnanancheria?. She ain't no Buddy Hackett or Dmitri Martin or even Elayne Boosler that's for sure. Can't we stick to at least semi famous people?

FLAC 10:23 AM  

Solved this on paper, in the magazine, right after reading Nathaniel Rich's powerful (and powerfully depressing) piece on climate change. That's probably why the puzzle didn't do much for me. Normally I would have greatly admired its cleverness.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

This puzzle was such a huge pleasure, especially after the leering creepiness yesterday of HANDBRA - especially the clue. I was grossed out and as a lurker, I'm annoyed about even having to bring it up. If the NYT wanted to show that their subscription-supported crossword is the safe space for offensive talk for douchebros in the #MeToo era, then bravo - they did. If they don't have an editor who can gauge these things, then they should.

From this subscriber, I would hope they get their horrendous gender imbalance fixed before using lech-type clues again. That one missed the mark, but it shouldn't be hard to do better.

Brother Joscephus 10:40 AM  

Don’t want to be over critical here but in the “let’s keep things real” category... this was one of the weakest themes on a Sunday I’ve ever encountered and the first Sunday I can remember where I completed the puzzle and did not grok the theme. Having it explained... yeah, still very “meh.” The fill was pretty bland and clunky, a bit inconsistent in terms of difficulty IMO, as well as some dubious entries (IRANGATE? Nope, not a phrase that was EVER used at the time to describe the Iran-Contra Scandal).

Then I come to this blog and Rex - who pretty much hates just about everything and consistently destroys all joy and satisfaction one feels about s puzzle on a daily basis - yes THAT same Rex is all peaches and cream.

Unsolicited I thought to myself... this seems wrong. Oh wait... is the constructor female?

Looked it up. Yup.

I mean... we all definitely want to encourage getting a more diverse group of constructors involved here but if this particular puzzle was written by a white male would Rex’s analysis be exactly the same?

I wonder...

Wm. C. 10:57 AM  

As said by many of the above: Artful construction, obscure theme. Dr Sherman Potter on M*A*S*H frequently said "What in the Sam Hill, as I recall. FWIW, not much, I guess.

And @Z9:39: NYTX has a Gender Issue? Aw, c'mon, their objective HAS TO BE selecting the best puzzles that appeal to their targeted demographic. Compromising this by throwing a gender qualifier into the selection mix will only dilute the mix and therefore somewhat bias the puzzle's appeal away from their real commercial target.

As I recall, Rex published an array of historical (Will Shortz supplied, I think) gender identifiers, listed by day-of-the-week appearances. The aggregate WAS, in fact strongly biased toward males. Interestingly, the degree of bias varied by puzzle difficulty because it was shown in day-of-the-week order ... with women represented strongest early in the week, I think. (I don't know why this would be.).

Anyway, while these statistics seem to support your claim of gender bias, I stand with my position that the bias is to appeal to the NYT's targeted reader demographic. Why top-rate crossword constructors would be strongly biased toward males is a surprise and mystery to me, though. To those who agree with this conclusion, any ideas as to why this would be? To those who disagree, I apologize for my apparent gender bias. ;-)

TubaDon 11:04 AM  

Not many problems in the main, although I didn't get the theme until the grid was full. Minor roadblocks when I pencilled in GAMEBREAK and NATS, but I googed on the BADU ADELE intersection. Is that a NATICK?

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

I don't think the NCAA awards scholarships -- universities do.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

I was thinking the same thing about Lewis. He's a breath of fresh air, especially considering the normal complaintfest that is the internet.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Super easy here. Got the theme right away at 24A, clue too easy. Could not figure out how to phrase it for 69A... clearly "take out the circled letter and the rest of the phrase is two words that are anagrams" was too long, but GOTIT eventually. Missed PHANTOMS entirely, tho! Fun puzzle.

Smith NJ

Banana Diaquiri 12:03 PM  

@FLAC is right.

the magazine is enough to make those on the edge of suicide jump over. all while The Manchurian President speeds up our race to the cliff. and, by the way, it's recently reported that Koch money has gotten constitutional convention approval in 28 (or so, counting isn't clear). 34 states, all right wingnut havens, would then have the power to replace any or all of the constitution and amendments. thus, a rightwing kleptocratic theocracy, which is made permanent by a new constitution which makes it a permanent minority rule. just like Islamic countries where the Sunni or Shiite minority rules.

" In fact, there is even talk of the new Constitution allowing states to nullify any past, present or future Supreme Court ruling that the evangelical right or Republicans don’t consider valid or “god” approved. "
here: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/16/1742019/-Koch-Republicans-Inch-Closer-Towards-Replacing-the-Constitution

not joking. the Kochs have been on this jihad for decades. watch your back. complain about such comments all you want. just don't complain when your under the thumb of a handful of Bible thumping Social Darwinists, who, nevertheless, deny that Darwin even existed. it turns out, perhaps accidentally, that the Business section has an article telling us that just 200 corporations got all corporate profit. can you say, Oligarch????

have a nice day.

Banana Diaquiri 12:05 PM  


my failing memory tells me, in a little chirppy voice, that we had this issue a few months ago. anyone??

GILL I. 12:07 PM  

Rarely do I feel I'm solving a themeless when I know darn well there has to be one. Yesterday fooled me and I'm still fuming about that but honestly, this felt like an easy themeless Friday - just a bit bigger. I had to finish it before I could bother to figure it out. I had the PHANTOMS and LOST IN THE SHUFFLE. OK. Took out the circled letter and then.......AH.....anagram.! Clever was all I felt. I wanted elated.
There is some charm here and there and I had errors. "Down goes cRAZIER" was one of them. I figure sports casters say anything they want. Left BBC ARABIa and the Washington team remains AAPS. "Well, I'll be was followed with DAmNED which left GAMEM RAGE. I don't do joysticks.
I don't think GOTHS necessarily wear ripped jeans. Black eyeliner, yes, and black lipstick. I hope they take their makeup off before going to bed.
No problem getting ADELE. I love her! I can count on @Quasi HURLing a few zingers. I'd rather listen to her than dying Mimi in La Boheme. ADELE knows when to quit.
Do women still practice LAMAZE? It was a total waste for me. You can huff and puff through kingdom come and the only thing that works is an epidural.
@Rex...Thanks for that Kelsey Grammer trailer. Remind me not to watch. He's about to join the list of wannabe politicos with a checkered past. I think he's eyeing being mayor of NYC. His current wife is about the same age as the daughter in that film. Ironic?

Charley 12:10 PM  

1. It was Iran-Contra, not Irangate.
2. What’s an art center?

Masked and Anonymous 12:10 PM  

M&A is very observant and extremely unobservant. Figured out the theme mcguffin from the first PARTYTRAY themer … and never noticed that The Circles spelled out PHANTOM, until I got to the blog read. Liked the theme idea, but it's maybe not quite crazy/funny enough for a big ol' SunPuz solve -- at least for my tastes. That PHANTOM spell-out is pretty darn neat extra-credit, tho ...

Very well-constructed puz. 145 words … 5 over the traditional limit … but 22x21 oversized grid size, sooo … ok. Some cool-to-M&A fillins: LIMEJUICE. RUSHHOUR. BUTGOOD. BANANARAMA. SERENASLAM. RIPUP+SEALUP.

Not an A+ perfect solve score for m&e, due to the popular LAMASE/FRASIER misspell. Solvequest seemed more medium at my house, due to some unknown stuff like APARNA and BBCARABIC.

Also, admired the sneaky SYLLABLES clue [di-a-monds? … dia-monds?] and the SSNS conveniently plural fest & deliciously desperate finisher (yo, @AnoaBob).

Thanx for the well-made puz to both Alison & Erik, and congratz on the debut to Alison. I know these SunPuzs are a bear to construct. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo10Us

Suzie Q 12:11 PM  

I solved this as a themeless because I didn't feel like working that hard on a Sunday. It was mostly OK with some clever clues. My favorite was Lacoste, good one.
I remember Chatty Cathy and Nancy Nurse too. Funny how those two names have become part of our language. Those toys seem positively primitive now but they were considered modern marvels in their day.
Haven't we seen a lot of Lil Abner clues lately? Fine with me because I've never heard of Nancherla or Erykah.
Oh, "makes out" was a good clue too.
Rip up, seal up, tear at seema bit much for one puzzle but still a very impressive bit of construction. Well done Alison and Erik.
@ kitshef, I love your Tea Rat!

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Definitely Iran-Contra. No gate there. But easy enough from the crosses.

nyc_lo 12:45 PM  

But for a dropped stylus and a couple of stare-into-space “do I want more coffee?” moments, this might have been a record time for me. As it was, only 25 seconds off my personal Sunday best. A couple of raised eyebrows at IRANGATE (not really a thing) and RIPUP followed by SEALUP in close proximity to TEARAT. Bleah. And the theme reveal barely registered above an “M’kay...”

Barry Frain 1:07 PM  

@Oldflappyfrommississappy made an appearance late yesterday. Didn’t we have enough of his lunatic ravings some months ago?

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA (surrounded by fires)

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

The Iran-Contra affair, also referred to as Irangate,[1] Contragate[2] or the Iran–Contra scandal, was a political scandal in the United States that occurred during the second term of the Reagan Administration. Senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo.

That first citation is Foreign Policy.

Aketi 1:37 PM  

@Gill I, the GOTHS should have been wearing black jeans, not ripped jeans. I never bought white jeans in my life until this year when it seems like NYC women flipped from wearing dark blur or black to wearing white. Ripped white jeans are so not GOTH.

@Anonymous 10:32 am, the creepy HAND as a BRA from yesterday was replaced by BARS following the BRAS today.

As for GAMER RAGE, I use the “tiny joystick” to take out my frustration within the virtual world where you can engage in destruction with no cosequences. Like when your attempt to build a railroad that does a loop de loop in Minecraft fails, you can burn it down with lava or blow it up with TNT.

The SHUFFLE and the PHANTOMS didn’t fill my allotted morning procrastination time and so I wasted time googling and found a discussion on diary of a crossword fiend that was far more nuanced and thoughtful on the topic of gender imbalance, but I have to admit I don’t buy any of the explanations. It all seems like grasping at straws for an explanation. I personally think it’s probabably akin to what happens with the small gene pools that exist on islands where they all end up drifting towards homogenity. I think the pool of people who construct crossword puzzles must be incredibly small like an island population which can lead to that sort of drift. And small changes can create dramatic shifts in small gene pools so it doesn’t seem like it would take much effort to change the balance. As for puzzle selection, I really don’t believe that puzzle selection is based on anything other than subjective criteria. Has anyone actually studied whether the gender of the constructor actually does influences the pleasure of the solver based on gender? Or age? Or any other criteria?

In the meantime, I looked up the gender ratio for students accepted into the College of Engineering at Cornell this coming year and it’s almost even with slightly more women. It makes me happy to think my son will be surrounded by a good mix of smart young women who are unafraid of math and science.

Banana Diaquiri 1:46 PM  

the wiki article on Iran-Contra has 123 references. *2* use the term Irangate. I guess that'll satisfy both sides of the argument.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

You're assuming the validity of what you're trying to prove. it's not clear to me at all there are barrier to women constructors. Or at least no barriers peculiar to women. What are these barriers. Simply supplying us with number of female constructors is not proof that they're being impeded.

I point you to The Atlantic's February 18, 2018 issue.
it's all about Scandinavia--the most gender blind societies in the history of the world--are seeing a DECLINE, a big decline in some instances of women entering STEM fields. ( tell your pal @Aketi. yesterday she accused someone of not keeping up when it's she who is behind on women in STEM fields. No matter how much info she gleaned touring colleges w her so. LOL)

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Ha. My first impulse re 93 Across was the same as Rex’s: “other people”. To whom is that quote attributed?

Unknown 2:18 PM  

Can someone explain the “cause of insomnia”/drip connection? It doesn’t make any sense to me

JC66 2:20 PM  

@Nancy Strom

If you're trying to fall asleep, the sound of a dripping faucet may be a hinderance.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

an RCA RADIO isn't a component, it's an end-product.

puzzlehoarder 2:31 PM  

What a nice user friendly Sunday after Saturday's ego bruising Franken-puzzle. I did this on paper yesterday evening. About a quarter of the way in I paused for dinner. On returning I already had a couple of themes done so I quickly looked them over and got the ghosted letter/anagram trick.

The fill was like a reunion of old friends. My wife taught LAMAZE and things like BADU went right in. Any time a problem occurred in the solve the crosses just guided the way through. I had NATS briefly on the SE corner and it was DRIP to the rescue.
Yes, one of the oldest tricks in the book.

I didn't bother to look for the meta word in the circles. That just exceeded my theme interest. Sorry @Lewis but I'm still enjoying it just fine.

@Nancy, sorry I didn't respond yesterday. It was ROAD I refferred to as "half-speak." The ZONE phrase was something I just regard as a teenage-esque cliche that I'm clueless as to why any adult would use in anything other than a satirical context. Sorry to rehash old news but I appreciate your interest.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

After not knowing 85A, I smugly wrote in ALJAZEERA for 85D, with no crosses, and clung to it for far too long. DIgging that out took too much time.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Sartre. Or a character in his play No Exit.

Banana Diaquiri 2:54 PM  

If you're trying to fall asleep, the sound of a dripping faucet may be a hinderance.

from personal experience, post-nasal drip makes sleeping pretty much impossible. though I suspect the clue was aiming at the faucet.

sixtyni yogini 2:55 PM  

This was a good one. Got obsessed with getting the theme; (got it at Carmen McRae.) Fun, clever.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Also, you counted the references?

RooMonster 3:03 PM  

Hey All !
Very nice puz, was my thought, once I grokked the theme. When I couldn't figure out the revealer, (I had LOSTINTHE____LE), looked back at the themers I had, and noticed the circled letters weren't in the second part. Aha, said I. Plus they are mixed up. . . (Light Bulb) Oh, SHUFFLE! So that's what the SAM HILL is going on! Which helped me change phoneCALL to LOCALCALL. (Or a dieter dialing? LO CAL CALL. Har) Also helped WITH GAMERRAGE, because that's what I thought it was, but had DAmNED in there messing me up. DARN!

Found puz to be easy, although I still DNFed, twice. Had DUEl for DUET, which gave me HEAR_RALE, so put in the missing L and parsed it as someone I didn't know, H EARL RALE. (Stemming from not knowing CARMEN MCRAE also.) Didn't matter that 15D RENlED made no sense. Plus, nAtS first, then aAtS (?? Don't ask) for CAPS. (How I blanked on that is amazing, as I'm still yelling about them beating the Vegas Golden Knights.) Boo.

Liked puz as a whole. YEAGER clue was great. Kinda perplexed on if the SHUFFLE and PHANTOMS JIBe, but I guess the PHANTOMS are another tier of the theme. Yea, that makes sense. I SEE. :-)

SHTETL sounds like a curse. "You DARNED SHTETL you!"

TAToos Fantasy Island yell? DEPLANES


JC66 3:04 PM  

@ANON 2:27

RADIO is a component of Radio Corporation of America.

@Banana D

I feel your pain.

thefogman 3:15 PM  

I loved this one. Several puzzles within a puzzle. Like Certs. Two. Two. Two mints in one. The toughest spot is the middle section where SHTETL and BUTGOOD reside. That's where I finished. It took a while to decipher the theme/gimmick. But I finally did and had a most enjoyable aha! moment. Nice job Alison Ohringer and Erik Agard. PS - Please give more female constructors the green light on Sundays Mr. Shortz!

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Time marches on and our language progresses. At the time of the Iran-Contra affair, the proceeds from selling arms to Iran were secretly funneled to the right-wing Contra rebels in left-wing Nicaragua. Over time, the Contras became forgotten and XYZ-gate became more fashionable for new scandals. Don't just check usage. Check usage versus time.

Cyclist227 3:35 PM  


Aketi 4:32 PM  

@Anonymous 1:52 pm, I was commenting about women in the engineering colleges I’ve visited in the United States that far more women in 2016-2018 than when I applied to college in 1975. You are looking at a smaller portion of the timeline and a different population. Neither trend actually proves anything about the capacity of men and women in engineering which you tried to imply. All I know is that I’ve worked in male dominated environments and female dominated environments and I have seem both types derail into very toxic environments in different ways. I typically see better environments were there is balance between the genders. I also found many of the new engineering programs fascinating because they were cross disciplinary.

Banana Diaquiri 4:57 PM  

Also, you counted the references?

I'll assume your talking to me!!! not tough. their numbered, so you look up the number of the last one. the number of 'Irangate' is nearly as easy, just a Find, and count to 2 in the references. 2nd grade arithmetic, altogether.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Your anecdotal experience is enough to convince me. Who needs data, peer reviewed work? Heck, we just ask Aketi> much appreciated.

As for the underlying point that gender discrimination explains populations--whether engineers, CEOs or puzzle constructors-- is undermined by The Atlantic article.

Matt 5:26 PM  

My first completed Sunday puzzle. :) Feels good. Beat generation figure was clever.

Alan_S. 5:31 PM  

Easy puzzle.
Weak theme (even if they're partial anagrams).
Enjoyable but not terrific.
LMS is MIA again this Sunday.
Is that any indication of the quality of the puzzle?
Agree about Lewis. Happy chap.
It's the little things that make life grand.

jberg 5:52 PM  

OK, so @M&A and I are the only people who didn't think to see what the circles spelled out? Was there some hint somewhere that I missed, or did everybody else just realize that it would be worth checking what those letters did?

Aside from that, I solved it, and enjoyed it.

Whether or not GAMER RAGE is in the language, I love the concept!

Joe Bleaux 6:06 PM  

(I too considered AMEN in the SE, but discarded it because I figured that at least Agard -- and maybe both Ohringer and Shortz as well -- would consider it bad form because of the 16D clue.)

Shamik 6:19 PM  

So grateful to come ask Rex what the theme was. Totally was mystified. Then a head slap. It ran in the easy-medium time for me at 17:26.

Joe Bleaux 6:24 PM  

So, a debut for Alison Ohringer? Congrats ... and out of the chute with the remarkable Erik Agard! This was as fine a Sunday puz as I've seen in a while. Thanks! (And sorry to cast asparagus, but it's in marked contrast to today's murky, sloshy LAT puz, which made me glad that Rex often rips its constructor with glee and gusto.)

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

BBC Arabic has its origins in radio (since 2008 it has also had a satellite TV channel). The”Arabic” is for the language. It falls under the BBC Workd Service. BBC Americas, by contrast, is TV for the region if the Americas and falls under a different part of the BBC. The former (world service) is essentially an exercise in soft power, the latter (BBC Americas) is a commercial venture. They are unrelated, beyond that they both administratively fall under the BBC.

kitshef 7:33 PM  

Anon 11:06 - the NCAA does award scholarships directly.


RooMonster 7:47 PM  

@Grammar 9:17
I don't have, or for that matter, know, how to get a puz onto (into?) a downloadable thingamajig. I use Crossword Compiler to construct, all my puzs are on my computer, but like I said, not sure how to get them out into the world(wide web.) :-)


Nancy 8:08 PM  

So I find out 11 hours after the fact that I Naticked on the BADU/BBC ARABIC cross. I had NADU/NBC ARABIC. Which is one of those things that if you don't know you don't know. Once I've typed more than two lines of a comment, I'm never willing to lose it by going back to check an answer that I should have checked first. But I was planning to check it after I posted. And I forgot. A Freudian slip that most likely means I didn't really care.

I never care about these kinds of Naticks. I never care about answers like BADU. He (or she) could be NADU and I'd be just as happy. When I'm playing for the $100,000 first prize, then I imagine I'll care. As for right now, you'll be pleased to know that I don't feel any GAMER RAGE at all.

OISK 8:11 PM  

Very easy, but enjoyable, despite some really obscure (to me) pop culture. I do the acrostic, the Berry puzzle, and the regular Sunday Crossword, in that order, but this is the first time I recall finishing them all in about 45 minutes. Frazier goes down!! But in the fight I remember best (first one), it was "Ali goes down!"

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

What amazes me about this blog is how so many posters are willing/eager to show how stupid they are.

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

I liked the blog better when it was un-moderated and everyone could slam Z.

Huey Dewey Louie 8:49 AM  

Go fuck your self asshole

Oldflappyfrommississappy 8:51 AM  

Hey Nancy! No one gives a shit.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Flappy -- So where you been at, troll? Sort of thought you were in the ICU, recovering from the thrashing you got when you insulted a big tough dude to his face. But, no, you only insult women and you only insult them from the safety of anonymous cyberspace. You're yellow to the core of course, like all bullies.

thefogman 1:54 PM  

I did the New Yorker puzzle today. I still can't figure the meaning of 8D Everything alternative: (ONION) other than when the word is used in the following context: "He sure knows his onions." But that seems like rather lame cluing to me. Anyone?

Bill Baker 11:35 AM  

9 down; "Down goes____!" 1973 Sports line, refers to Joe Frazier, the boxer. I can hear Howard Cossels voice, "Down......

Fred 7:12 PM  

Thanks to Rex for explaining what the point of this was. I saw quickly that the circled letters would spell "phantoms" and then finished the puzzle successfully, but didn't have a clue what "lost in the shuffle" referred to. and I still don't see how "phantoms" tie in with the title Ghosted, or with 69A. Extremely unsatisfying!

Fred 7:36 PM  

Several of the above comments are crude, do not add anything pertinent to the discussion, and should have been "moderated" (I hesitate to say "censored" in this time of heightened concern for First Amendment rights). We get enough of this sewage in today's "normal" political discourse. Do we need it in what should be a fun blog about a crossword puzzle? As disgusting as parents slugging it out at a little league game.

Truthteller 11:44 AM  

Hey, how can you rate this an "easy" puzzle, when you have so many errors at the end? What is your criterion for "easy"?

Burma Shave 2:36 PM  


ISEE those DARNED TEUTONS made a kerffufle:
They had THENERVE to make DEALS for a chance


rainforest 3:55 PM  

Hey, a second non-slog Sunday in a row! And this one was nice as well as clever. I figured out the theme at TASTE TEST and confirmed it by checking the previous two themers. This was helpful for a couple others. I spelled out PHANTOMS but didn't get the relevance until I came here.

Flat-out guess of the B for BADU (who?) only because nADU didn't sound "right".

Overall medium, I guess, but the bottom half gave me more problems than the top half. I thought the fill was consistently fine, with no grimace-inducing answers.

Now I gotta go watch Tiger find a way to come close once again.

Diana,LIW 4:11 PM  

The theme was way more clever by half than I was. I came soooo close to finishing, it outta count for something. At least a brass ring, if not BRASSBARS.

BADU/BBCARABIC was my downfall Natick, along with the elusive HEARTRATE. Doesn't say "beat" generation until you really, really think about it. It's Sunday - not sure I can really, really think. Even after sussing out a lot of unknown PPPs.

Close enough for jazz, my band director used to say. (Some say "for government work.")

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 6:33 PM  

Did not have a clue nor a care about the theme. Anagrams minus one. Huh. Yeah baby Erykah BADU a gimme in part for her appearance as a voodoo queen in Blues Brothers 2000, which was nowhere near as good as the original.

This puz was all over the map with SENEGAL FRANCE ITALY and ESTONIA.

MTV was very, very good for BANANARAMA. A well deserved triple yeah baby to them.

To tell you the truth, I found this pus pretty DARNED dull.

AnonymousPVX 7:36 PM  

BADU/BBCARABIC Got me as well, I guessed N and guessed wrong.

leftcoastTAM 9:16 PM  

Was watching Tiger's charge while working on the puzzle. Got the PHANTOM/"Ghosted" theme early enough, but the second word anagram escaped me.

Got hung up in the SE:

Wanted gAH instead of BAH, which is a bit mild for "Horrible!" clue. BADU, BBCARABIC, and BANANARAMA were unknowns. BARS in the BRASSBARS are "rustproof rails"?

Tiger's on his way back! Good for him!

Phillip Blackerby 9:16 PM  

Thank you.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Everything v. Onion — bagel toppings

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