MI6 R&D division in 007 novels / SUN 9-23-18 / Three of wheel of dharma buddhist concept / 1929 work that is theme of this puzzle / Place for works that are in works / Scores after deuces informally / German city with Pennsylvania namesake / Bit of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Challenging (laughably so—just hit "check squares" at the 15 minute mark because I didn't care anymore ... had four errors ... just the stupidest puzzle ... for reference, I haven't had a single error on a Sunday ... well, ever? ... I mean ...) 

THEME: "The Art of Puzzle-Making" — a puzzle about René MAGRITTE's "TREACHERY OF IMAGES," a famous SURREALIST painting of a pipe with TEXT underneath reading "CECI N'EST PAS UN PIPE" ("this is not a pipe"). In this puzzle, you are supposed connect a bunch of circled letters that spell out the French phrase from the painting and also form the shape of a pipe, so the TEXT makes a kind of PIPE LINE ... and ... oh yeah, also there's a quote from MAGRITTE about the painting, a highly non-famous quote: "IT'S JUST / A REPRESENTATION / IS IT NOT?" Oh, and there's a stray theme answer, LOS ANGELES ... where the painting (apparently!?) is "permanently housed"; ugh there's a note:

Word of the Day: OLIVET (16D: Michigan college or its town) —
Olivet is a city in Eaton County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 1,605 at the 2010 censusOlivet College is located in the city. (1,605!? This makes IOLA, KS look like a megalopolis) (wikipedia)
• • •

Not gonna write a ton about this one because I have almost nothing nice to say. It was just unpleasant all over the place. My god this puzzle tries too hard. Here's what you need: beautiful concept, elegant execution. What we have here is a nightmare of competing concepts trying to shout over each other and colliding with each other. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings. You can't have Every Single Theme Thing You Can Imagine. But this one ... no judiciousness. No elegance. Just stupid, stupid chaos. A germ of an idea that dies. An "bonus" thing that has none of the joy that "bonus" implies. Connect-the-dots. And then, leaving the theme aside, just clunky weird clues / answers everywhere. Art-based Sunday puzzle can now be imagined on a scale from THIS to Liz Gorski's Guggenheim puzzle. That is the scale. First, puzzle came with a "Note"—sorry, not reading that. Never do. Be good without a note or go home. Second, random circles. Oh, how I do not care. I didn't stop to see what shape they (sorta) made. Probably should've, but am not convinced it would've helped. Third, the actual revealer—what the? Here's the thing: I've seen this painting. It's used as an illustration in Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics," which I teach regularly. But the title, I totally forgot. Also, calling it a "work" means that I had no idea even what genre of thing we were dealing with. Even after I got TREACHERY OF IMAGES, I didn't know what painting it was. I thought it was the Dali one with the clocks. Which one was that? [googles] Ah, "The Persistence of Memory." Well no those don't Sound Alike At All @#$&#$#R@#RH@#DFQWE!!!

Oh, back to the list—Fourth! That quotation. That dumb, random, no one has heard it before piece of junk that you only used because, what, it fits symmetrically. It's a terrible quotation, IS IT NOT? Finally, you shove a gratuitous final themer in the bottom (TEXT) and cross it with some "petroleum giant" (!?!?!) that, again, I have never heard of in a quarter century+ of solving (OXY). OXY is a west coast college. OXY is a zit medication. OXY is a moron. What the hell is this stupid "petroleum" (again, ?!) OXY? Fifth, PIPE LINE might've made a nice revealer but because it's shoehorned into this atrocity of a puzzle that already has like a million other theme elements, it's just slop poured on top.

I had four errors. Now, I should've known that the clue was not plural so ART SALES couldn't be right (53D: Cultural gathering). But I went ART SALES and then AT BEST and so finished with QBR-SCH and B-NNHEIM. Two crossing proper nouns, one of which is fictional and completely and utterly never-before-heard-of by me. I knew the Q-answer had to be the wrong one, but it's not like the right version (Q BRANCH) is so all-fire obviously correct (95A: MI6 R&D division in 007 novels). OK, this is already way more than I wanted to write on this thing. How the *&$^ is the title "The Art of Puzzle-Making" appropriate for this thing? Honestly, this puzzle got Nothing right.

Five things:
  • 93D: Dangerous job (SPY) — what a useless clue for SPY. Had the "S" and wasn't sure if DRIER was that or DRYER ... and SPY was not helping resolve anything
  • 37D: How to get the permit, say (PAY A FEE) — lol no. So bad. "The" permit? ___ A ___? My god, it's like no one cares.
  • 22A: N.F.L.'s Kaepernick (COLIN) — who's what now? I mean ... is this seriously a clue? I mean, he literally, famously is not in the N.F.L. at the moment. How bad at cluing do you have to be ...? Here's the full text of an email I just got from someone who used to be an editor at a major publication—subject line: "Will Shortz should be fired": 
"Saturday's Charlie Rose outrage is followed by Sunday's clue for "Colin": "NFL's Kaepernick." That is clueless to the point of negligence. How can you reference CK without mentioning the newsy Nike ad, or the whole kneeling thing? Plus there's the pertinent fact that CP is NOT currently  in the NFL because of NFL/USA racism. Of all the sloppy nyt  cword editing, which you chronicle so well, this pisses me off the most. The editors are either not even looking at the puzzles they print, or just don't give a shit. It's lazy and insulting to those who do."
  • 52A: Dogie catcher (REATA) — I had RIATA, which gave me DIMOED for 47D: Showed, informally (DEMOED), which I *thought* was my error. But no.
  • 48A: Time for pampering oneself (ME DAY) — a. not a thing, b. I have to go pamper myself now. This puzzle was self-harm.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS apparently this painting was the theme of a Diagramless puzzle in the NYT not too long ago

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Easy for me... Solved in two thirds of my normal Sunday time.

Patrick O'Connor 12:20 AM  

I guess I'm going to have to disagree with you down the line. I also found the puzzle challenging, and I also disliked some of the same clues you disliked. But not only did I like the theme, I liked the execution of the theme; as the word Surrealist came into sight, I then figured that the bottom right was Magritte and only then did I figure out the painting in question (like you, I didn't recognize its title). And somehow, I couldn't find the missing cross of TROUPE/ IPA until the very end, and so to spell out "ceci n'est pas une pipe" actually helped me finish the puzzle. Sorry your mistakes with Art Sales and At Best (for a while I had Utmost) spoiled your puzzle, but I was extremely impressed.

Graham 12:22 AM  

Weirdly hated puzzle... was completely average for me (25:15). I usually ignore themes whenever possible — maybe that helped.

Mike in Mountain View 12:54 AM  

The diagramless was very good, but this was fine, too. I'm a Rex fan, but it's funny the way he reacts to crosswords that don't play to his (many) strengths. The theme here is one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century, and not because that painting is mentioned in a book about comics.

Using the text of the painting as the dots for a connect the dots picture of the pipe is a brilliant idea. And calling it a pipeline is clever.

Well, at least Rex didn't say, This Is Not a Crossword Puzzle!

Also, MANNHEIM is a lot more crossworthy than IOLA, from yesterday. If you don't know the city, perhaps you know MANNHEIM Steamroller? (OK, so that's not exactly recent, but at least it's not 1950s.)

L 12:55 AM  

I bet drawing that last stupid line, per the note, to "complete the effect" really would've made the whole experience better...smh.

Brian 1:04 AM  

On the iPhone app the pipe draws itself stealing one of the ability to follow the note's instruction.
Otherwise average.

jae 1:13 AM  

Tough. I got it and still liked it about as much as @Rex did.

jp flanigan 1:33 AM  

"OXY is a west coast college. OXY is a zit medication. OXY is a moron." Funniest bit of writing i've read all week. I can feel your rage through the blog.

That X was the last thing to fall for me, but i didn't find this too much more difficult than average. I ignored the circled letters, even after getting Magritte (There is an ongoing exhibit at the SF MOMA currently, the existence of which may have helped me out). Having this particular un-famous "Quote" as the theme i agree was pretty ridiculous, yet it was fairly easy for me to parse with about half the downs.

Can't say i share Rex's frustration, i did enjoy it. And YES YES YES to continuing to call out the tone-deaf (or purposely stubborn) cluing in this puzzle. Unacceptable

a.corn 1:35 AM  

Had the ATBEST/ARTSALE_ issue too... don’t like ONEDOZEN at allllllll and NAYS NAE kinda pissed me off as well. Oy vey - at least there’s football tomorrow, can’t wait to see Kaep pl- what’s that? Oh, he’s no longer...oh, mmm mhmm, I see. Right.

SleeplessinColorado 2:23 AM  

Finished in just over 12 with no errors, but felt like I was at the dentist for three hours.

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

Yes it was rough--but mainly that stupid, unknown quote. I knew the painting, I knew the painter, I even knew it was in LA County Museum. But who would know that quote (which I assume was translated from the original French???)?

TomAz 2:33 AM  

"Connect the dots to make a picture" is a long-time NYT xword thing, and I almost never like it. I am solving on my laptop or iPad, don't tell me to connect dots until you give me a tool to do so on the app/webpage. When I finished on the web page and saw the drawing.. nice. But so what? It had no effect on the solving experience. A silly thing to draw (ba dum bum) attention to.

That said, this puzzle was fine, and Rex's review laughably bad. Now, I'm a fan of the painting, so that helped I'm sure. The quote I knew the gist of, and needed a few crosses to get the exact [English translation] words right. I had MAGES and dropped in the rest, dropped in SURREALIST, dropped in MAGRITTE. TEXT was a little tougher but it fell after a short while.

Complaining that you only know this painting from a comic.. well. It points to a cultural blind spot, doesn't it? That doesn't make the puzzle bad. Not even close.

The NW gave me fits, and I started out thinking the puzzle was not in my zone at all. But I circled round, got everything else, and finished where I started. I think UNSEAL/IPAS was the last to go. Problem was I wanted 'tails' for STUDS, and had the hardest time getting off that.

There are some days when I'm utterly in the same place as Rex but today was diametrically opposite that. Hooray for 20th century surrealism, and yay for this worthy puzzle.

chefwen 3:02 AM  

Got about 90% of it done and quit, not because I couldn’t finish, like Rex, I was just over it. Didn’t even try to connect the circles, didn’t care.
I do love to hunker down with a nice, long Sunday puzzle, this one was a disappointment to me.
Think I’ll just mosey on off to the kitchen and make us some PUPU’s.

Ellen S 3:13 AM  

I’m thinking the main faceplanting was done by OFL. I enjoyed the puzzle and it took less time than usual for my Sundays (at least that’s how it felt). I always use “reveal errors” - it’s like, if I cheat at Solitaire, it’s none of your business. But this time, I think I @Rex had more errors uncovered than I did.

My only gripe was (in agreement with @Rex) the Kaepernick clue. Maybe the puzzle was constructed while Colin was still employed, I told myself, but Shortz always messes with the clues, so wouldn’t this have been a great time to do that?

Anonymous 3:18 AM  

The only thing that gave me trouble was YEHUDI/LODI. I hated it less than Rex, but I can't say there was much fun involved in solving it. The grid strained too much under the weight of the many themes. And I've always deeply despised that particular painting anyway. The idea that a painting isn't the object being painted is something even pedants usually grow tired of pointing out by the age of ten.

Harryp 4:03 AM  

I have to admit that this was beyond my ken. Some solves, a lot of ?

Brookboy 4:45 AM  

Hmm... so tell us, Rex, what did you REALLY think?

We can agree to disagree on this one. Put me in the camp of those who liked this puzzle. I thought it was tough, ran into some traps of my own making (had iDEal for 100 down until the crosses gave me ADEPT, had revEAL for 3 down for a l-o-ong time until I finally figured out LOS ANGELES), but toughed it out until I finished. I’m at a bit of a loss about those who didn’t like it.

It seems to me that OFL’s pique is at its most bombastic when he is confronted with a puzzle that has clues he can’t get. Am I wrong?

Anonymous 5:28 AM  

Any former student of Sharp's may be unemloyable, but at least he, sorry ze, will be woke.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Easy peasy. Magritte is my favourite artist so everything was instagets. Even the quotation. At least it wasn't boring baseball trivia.

suea 6:28 AM  

I mostly liked the puzzle too. Much better than a sports-themed puzzle in my mind. And just because you never heard of French Surrealism doesn't mean you need to be so insulting, Rex! Use the opportunity to learn something cool. You're a teacher! As am I. I did not like some of the short answers, as you and others have said, and I dislike the puzzle's name. Oh also-- I do the puzzle every week in the paper magazine. For some reason this week the paper was pink. I hated that!!

Lewis 6:35 AM  

Besides a fairly smooth but never boring solve, there was a lovely art lesson about a work I vaguely remember seeing A REPRESENTATION OF decades ago. Here the puzzle played docent, and with its remarkable construction, including the visual element, it felt, as a crossword puzzle, a bit like a work of art in itself.

p.s. -- I loved having as neighbors DRYER and TURNINGS.

Music Man 6:41 AM  

Took me over an hour to finish this one — a bit longer than my average for Sundays. I just recently started doing Sunday puzzles, after finally getting better at Friday puzzles. (I won’t even go near a Saturday puzzle yet!) Anyway, difficult as it was for me at times, I rather liked this one. I think getting the circled letters to both spell out the text of the painting AND draw out a pipe is impressive. I will add the Los Angeles County Art Museum to my list of art museums to visit.

Music Man 6:48 AM  

Some trivia related to 70D, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”:

The song first charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, peaking at #9 on its initial chart run. When the song was included in the film “Wayne’s World” in 1992, the song re-entered the charts, this time hitting #2. The song spent a total of 41 weeks on the charts in both of its chart appearances.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

. . . someone who used to be an editor at a major publication . . .

Coffee just came out my nose. This dude may be a tortured and hateful broken record, but you gotta admit, there's some entertainment value to be had here.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

This puzzle was way to clever for me. Google helped. Ultimately, though, I couldn’t make sense of the circled letters for the life of me (until just now) when I realized that they needed to be read counter clockwise. ugh.

Hungry Mother 7:19 AM  

No problem except for the 30 minutes I spent seeing that SEASIDER was better than SEASIDEd. I first learned about the theme from my study of the book, “Godel, Escher, Bach”, which I taught from three times and was lucky enough to have spent some time talking one-on-one with its author, Doug Hofstadter.

Arlene 7:20 AM  

Loved this puzzle - took me forever but finally finished (working it on paper - the magazine page is pink today!) Magritte is a favorite - and the “pipe” is classic. Just had to chime in here.

sf27shirley 7:24 AM  

Don't you want a puzzle to be challenging? Is it offensive if a puzzle refers to art and literature instead of cartoons or TV comedies? If you don't know something does that mean nobody knows it? If the whole point is to finish a puzzle quickly, why don't you buy a ok book of puzzles aimed at eight year old kids?

Passing Shot 7:53 AM  

OFL captured my feelings. Did not enjoy it enough to finish solving after 30 minutes.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

i found it challenging, but really enjoyed the satisfaction of finally putting all the pieces together (including the outline of the pipe).

Doug Matthews 8:16 AM  

Yet another childish tantrum from Rex. I grow weary of his Trump-like rages. He’s like the little boy who overturns the table when he loses a game. I enjoyed the puzzle.

mmorgan 8:22 AM  

Otherwise, what'd you think of the play, Mrs. Lincoln? (I do really kinda enjoy Rex's more extreme rants... There's an art and a humor in their outrage.)

I didn't find this unpleasant, but parts of it were tricky for me, and it felt like two (or more) separate puzzles -- the diversity of theme material and the lengthy quote at the bottom makes it a bit top heavy. Sundays often seem to fill themselves in almost too quickly, but the answers here emerged slowly, as if rising from a mist.

But I do love the painting (especially with the French TEXT) and I vividly recall the moment many, many years ago when I "figured it out."

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

This was like going to the dentist.

BarbieBarbie 8:24 AM  

Easy side of Medium for me. I liked this puzzle OK but wasn’t overwhelmed with joy, mainly because I hadn’t heard the quote and had to infer what a French artist might say. I did see the PIPE dots right away, figured out what it had to be (that quote I knew), and worked backwards. The disappointed feeling I had was because of the recent Diagramless, which was Just Genius. Connect the dots can’t compete with Shade in the squares. But connecting the text line was definitely admirable. One thumb up.

Oh, and to rant about Kaepernick and use the term moron in the same review is inconsistent.

OffTheGrid 8:29 AM  

WHAT THE F***!!!

pmdm 8:32 AM  

For some reason, the background in the printed version is tinted a fairly dark pink, which made it difficult for me to see the circles in the grid. I normally don,t but with this puzzle I did try to drawer the [curved] lines but I missed a few circles. I just gave up. For me, it would have been better to just darken the squares instead of putting hard-to-read circles in the grid.

Anyone who visits this blog and XWordInfo would have known in advance the dissimilar reactions of Mrx. Sharp and Chen to the puzzle (although one might not have predicted that Jeff would award this puzzle with his POW award). But one should visit his site just to read the lengthly comments by Mr. Zhou.

So now we know that when Sharp gets stuck with a puzzle, he just winds up not caring any more about the puzzle rather than struggling like the rest of us mortals. Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh, but he often gripes about the puzzle when he hits a wall.And when he doesn't like a puzzle, he call it "just the stupidest puzzle." Sorry, sorry, Mr. Sharp, you are wrong. You and others may not have liked the puzzle, but it's wrong to call the puzzle stupid. Very wrong. Just say you didn't like it.

I must say that I find obstinance often to be pointless and stupid. Refusing to read puzzle notes? What's the point except that an unwavering obstinance.

One should accept the reactions of others to puzzles: if you hate the puzzle, it's fine to voice your displeasure, which reflects reality. But statements such as "Agerm of an idea that dies" and "Just stupid chaos" and judgments that are not true simply because one doesn't like the puzzle. Perhpas if the overwhelming mojaority of solvers agree with the assessment, there may be some truth there. But sorry, one may dislike this puzzle but the subjective assessment that it's garbage is simply not true.

By the way, there is a second puzzle in the paper today, at least in the print version. Today's Magazine Section, except for the puzzles, consisted entirely of pictures meant to be observed while listening to an audio track on the paper's web site. Joel constructed a puzzle that contains many clues which have sounds you need to listen to grasp the answer. Clues that include both words and sounds are read out by Mr. Shortz. I became frustrated with the interface and ceased solving the puzzle. Perhaps I'll try again now. For those interested, it's the size of a daily puzzle.

GeezerJackYale48 8:32 AM  

You are not wrong.

Ken Wurman 8:43 AM  

To call Yoko Ono a musician is an insult to real musicians...

Unknown 8:45 AM  

That a puzzle is difficult for you is not a valid reason to pan it. My spouse and I finished in 28 minutes— long for a Sunday for us— but we stuck with it. A trifle arcane for us, and yes, some entries were flat (GASDRYER) and some clues were poor, but we coped by getting crossers and by judicious guesswork. I have taught college English. If I were teaching a course that made pointed reference to a work of art, I would be sure to know the work, its name, its maker, and its rationale, and I would not use my not knowing these facts as a basis for condemning another person’s effort.

michiganman 8:46 AM  

If I had written for Rex today I would have said the same things. "What a mess" followed by "I don't care anymore" were my thoughts. I slogged through anyway and used lots of "reveals" (like I said, I didn't care).
I did want to see what it was all about, like watching a demolition derby. I knew OLIVET. I grew up near there in southern Michigan, Hillsdale Pop. 7500.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Look, Will. I've told you before that I don't draw anything, anything at all, on crossword puzzles. Never. Nada. And now you and Andrew Z. expect me to draw like Rene MAGRITTE?! Get outta here! If I want to know what the thing is supposed to look like, I'll go to Rex. Which I did today. And now I know what the thing is supposed to look like. Pretty ugly and very SURREAL, if you ask me.

Think I'll go to Deb and Jeff and see how their drawings look. Will they be neater? Will they be prettier? Will they be more "artistic"? We'll see.

As I skipped past Rex's comment as per usual, I couldn't help noticing that he seems to have hated this. Which strikes me as a very good thing, since I hated it too. I think I'll read him today; if he's written a rant, I'll probably enjoy it.

QuasiMojo 9:00 AM  

Reading Rex’s surreal rant exhausted me so I will keep this brief, for real, unlike him. Loved this puzzle! A delight to fill out and see it come together. Magritte was an ingenious master. Merci!

eye of the beholder 9:03 AM  

I admittedly do not live in the art world, but this is really a famous painting? Like the soup can I guess. I wonder what it's like to see anything in that. I am not, however, a "dogs playing poker" fan either.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Baseball trivia is riveting compared to this.

Rainbow 9:13 AM  

I like challenging puzzles like most Fridays and Saturdays. This was a freak show. (and who said anything about being offended?)

smdh 9:16 AM  

LOL at people who write a scathing review of rex's review because his review was scathing.

oh, the irony.

Teedmn 9:17 AM  

I screwed up at the LomI-YEHUmI spot and hit the reveal, at which point I hit my forehead, YEHUDI, of course. And while I've seen REPRESENTATIONS of the theme work of ART, I could not come up with the TEXT. Solving online didn't help but as I looked at the circle at 62A and tried to go one way or the other from the starting C, and coming up with no words that made sense, I threw in the towel and came to Rex to see the phrase. Ah, French. The note didn't indicate whether one should go clockwise or counterclockwise - I tried both; with no recognizable English emerging, I considered criss-crossing the grid but wasn't interested enough to try and I'm glad I didn't bother as it would have been futile.

"Virtuosic" gave me trouble - I was stuck on "virtuous" and didn't think of "virtuoso" so when ADEPT showed up, I was not expecting it. And the far NW gave me fits until I decided Caesar's first name wasn't cAIUS - otherwise, LOS ANGELES was not going to make an appearance and I really needed that to get DIALS, SELFIE, TROUPE. It's my fault that I kept reading "Set in a cockpit" and thinking "Pair" in a cockpit and there are more than two DIALS indeed.

Andrew, this had a lot of things to admire, though I wish it had more wordplay in the clues. But it certainly works as a Sunday puzzle.

Z 9:18 AM  

The magazine is a special photography issue, which reflects the general clusterfuck nature of the puzzle. They want me to download their special program so I can listen to their narration/explanations of the pictures which are presented in the mag without explanation. Much of the photography is outstanding, but then there are these odd shots that I’m guessing require 3D glasses to view as intended Or maybe not. Then there is a bonus “audio crossword” where you need their program to hear most of the clues. “What we have here is a nightmare of competing concepts trying to shout over each other and colliding with each other.” Yep. And then, for whatever reason, the puzzle pages are on a garish pink background. Ugh. It reminds me of this IPA I had in Ohio. The brewer decided using 23 varieties of hops would be a good idea. The brewer was wrong. It was just a bitter mash of indiscernible flavors.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

"One should accept the reactions of others to puzzles" (your words)

Tim Aurthur 9:24 AM  

I'm wondering about Los Angeles, because Magritte did more than one version of this picture. Maybe there's a "main" version and others, the way there is with Munch's Scream.

There was a Magritte show around 1980 at the Beaubourg that I thought did the artist a disservice. It showed multiple copies or near copies of several of his pictures, suggesting that he was short on ideas and good at finding more than one buyer for an idea.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

The quote actually is "No, it is not..." Since when do we remove clauses just to make the quote fit?

Pipe Shpipe 9:30 AM  

I did not know the artist, the painting, nor do I know enough French to get the "5 words" the line was connecting. I also stumbled in the exact same spot as Rex...ARTSALON...as a "cultural gathering" seems a stretch. I had "ART crawl" to start then when to ARTSALe- for a long time.

I finished in about the usual time, but the theme...in its entirety...was utterly lost on me. Don't know, don't care. When the app drew out the image of a pipe I just kinda shrugged my shoulders.

CK might not be in the NFL currently, but we know him from that. For NFL fans, we knew him as a pretty decent QB who performed well in a losing effort in a SB and as a promising young talent long before the kneeling thing. That said, he is a bit of a lightning rod these days and is known now for lots of things that have eclipsed his short NFL career. The puzzle does seem to ignore his more noted achievements.

I do Sunday Xwords because doing the puzzle is part of my morning routine Mon-Sat, so I begrudgingly do the Sunday puzzle. I rarely enjoy it and just do it because I've paid for it. Today was no exception. I didn't hate the puzzle, but the experience was just about as mediocre as most Sunday solving experiences have come to be. I can definitely see Rex's points and I agree that the puzzle has serious issues, not the least of which is that it is trying too hard. But apart from ARTSALON, it was a normal Sunday slog in the mud.

If anything, WS (if he reads these comments at all) should note that the Sunday puzzles have become an example overall of the drop in quality. The fact that people don't consistently rave about them (most comments seem to be tepid at best) should be a red flag for him to get his act together.

David 9:30 AM  

See Rex, that's what I was talking about the other day. You get into high dudgeon over various aggressions in cluing and/or answers, such as with Colin, then go on to bash somebody for structuring an answer in accordance with his native language.

Kind of weird how you do that, is it not?

Nancy 9:31 AM  

@Mike in Mountain View and @BarbieBarbie -- please help me out. I love Diagramlesses (not that I can always do them), but I'm darned if I know where the "recent" one you both refer to is to be found. It's not in this Sunday Mag, at least not in the Puzzle Section, and it wasn't in last week's Mag either. So where oh where is it? Thanks in advance.

PaulyD 9:34 AM  

Really surprised at all the vitriol being spewed at this puzzle. I enjoyed the theme quite a bit (perhaps because the painting and artist are among my favorites) and I thought the execution was clever. My only complaint was the number of short answers both across and down, which exacerbated my navigational shortcomings within the app. Still, 16:00 is about my average for a Sunday.

BTW, "Me Day" is TOTALLY a thing and has been for quite some time.

CashPo’ 9:43 AM  

Btw, OXY is Occidental Petroleum, a very well-known company, outside of comic-book land, that is.. It trades on NYSE as OXY.

Anna 9:45 AM  

Yeah I hated this one. The cluing was straight up awful. I like a challenging puzzle, but there were so many feints here, it felt like I was getting my teeth drilled. Had to throw off the plastic apron and slump away with a headache.

Arlene 9:52 AM  

Another comment/observation - it seems that the speed solvers will never experience that quirky phenomenon of feeling like you can't fill in another square - hopeless - putting down the puzzle for a little while, coming back to it, and finishing it off. Perhaps those here who say they gave up - and typically speed solve - should give that a try. It's quite a thrilling experience! Definitely a "brain thing."

heidi k 9:52 AM  

I def didn’t enjoy this puzzle but as Sunday solve times go for me, it was easier than usual.

Just annoying. So, so annoying.

GILL I. 9:55 AM  

Dear @Liz G...where art thou?
UGH to the extreme. Now here's the thing. I was an art major. I studied a bit of MAGRITTE's art way back in the day. (I prefer Duchamp) and I completely forgot about his PIPE and that French phrase. Add to my complete befuddlement, the circles were totally lost on me. All that damn work and nothing looked plausible. Then I look at @Rex's drawing and I'm asking myself "Did MAGRITTE draw a penis?" Sure, why not....
This is Jeff's POW? Say it ain't so.
If you can't do a brilliant Guggenheim, don't.
@Rex is spot on, today.
REATA? Surely you jest?

Potato Chimps 10:02 AM  

It was a challenge. I liked that. So I liked the puzzle. I didn't think it was too cute or tried to hard. I just think it came from the creator's wavelength, and sometimes the fun of a puzzle is trying to suss out the mind it comes from. Definitely more work than a usual Sunday and I liked that.

John H 10:05 AM  

I have to agree with Graham, if it isn't in his wheelhouse Rex will probably hate it. I am neither a current popular music fan (how many rap stars are there anyway?) nor a sports fans, but I don't complain when those things hang me up. I know of CK from news and politics, not sports, but I must agree that a protest-related clue would have been much more satisfying. I Shortz just risk averse, afraid of offending his more right leaning patrons?

I did enjoy the puzzle, didn't have too much trouble sussing out my unknowns with the crosses. I had a brief spat with the same four crosses ("at best" fell to the "Troi" crossing, which yielded "Mannheim"). I uses across lite, so I can produce a hard copy, if needed, but in this case didn't bother to connect the do=ts.

Mike E 10:13 AM  

Damnably clever puzzle. Sorry that Rex's standards didn't allow him the luxury of completing a puzzle that was frustrating him on an aesthetic level. Like when a word has been used only once in a NYT puzzle in 165 years. How could they?!!!
Anyway, I'm not smart enough to be outraged that it took me almost an hour. Torpedoed myself a bit by putting in FANDANGO instead of falsetto. And then staring at the circled letters for 5 minutes before it dawned on me that it might be French.
Great satisfaction in finishing. And thought it was damnably clever.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Was definitely challenging but I really enjoyed this! Of course I'm a fan of the painting.

The fact that the circles spelled out "Ceci N'est Pas Un Pipe" was a really nice touch, too!

If puzzle this hard makes you smile at the end, I say that's success.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Trump-like? Seriously? You're obviously very upset.

Paul Simon 10:22 AM  

I found a picture of René and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war. Wrote a song about it.

michiganman 10:23 AM  

Ce n'est pas un pont, but is my borrowed representation of today's puzzle:


Birchbark 10:26 AM  

It's a crisp, sunny, day two of AUTUMN. I'm back to dismantling the collapsed shack in the woods now that it's cooled off and the bugs are manageable.

It's often an inverse ratio between @Rex's reaction to a puzzle and mine. I liked this so much that I almost didn't read the review just to keep the right palate-sense in place. But Rex just walked off the playground pouting instead of sticking around and figuring it out -- it's not a puzzle review, it's just blaming the puzzle for being a puzzle. (This is not a puzzle review.) Therefore sort of pleasant.

I finished nine minutes over my usual Sunday time. The hardest work was in the south, sussing out OXY/PEA/NAY, plus not understanding CABIN as a "plane area" until later. But got the "Congratulations" music and pipe-drawing on the first try.

Renée Mygritts 10:27 AM  

No, it’s not. This was a fine puzzle, themed on a very well known artist with a very well known painting. For the usual intelectual types that come to this blog (Rex included), there’s no excuse for not knowing Magritte’s most famous piece. The quote is irrelevant, but fun and speaks of how the whole surrealist movement worked.
Knowing baseball players doesn’t seem as challenging (to me).

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Found it pretty easy myself. The Magritte quote is pretty famous actually, and the Kaepenick was a nice FU to the NFL. I paid no attention to the circled letters, but thought it was pretty good constructing that the spelled “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” in the shape of a pipe. A couple of clues were on the obscside, but that’s prolly because the constructor figured that solvers who knew the painting in question would have an easy time of it. Certainly there weren’t any Natick in here.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I agree.

GeezerJackYale48 10:35 AM  

Also loved the diagramless. When are we going to have another?

Andrea 10:36 AM  

Ceci n’est pas une critique.

Tim Aurthur 10:43 AM  

Whatever problems this puzzle might have, I'm always in awe seeing double-checked squares. It's hard enough constructing crosses, but adding a third dimension is amazing.

To see how the drawing works and how close to Magritte's image it is, go to Crossword Fiend. Pretty impressive.

mmorgan 10:44 AM  

I actually thought the audio puzzle in the magazine was kinda fun, despite the weird color. Solving in response to audio clues with no (easy) way to jump around to different clues (at least on an iPad) was an interesting experience. The puzzle itself is quite easy, though one or two answers may raise some hackles.

sg911911 10:47 AM  

I thought it was fun and don’t think it deserves all the criticism. Medium challenging.

Shafty 10:48 AM  

I wasn’t overly fond of the puzzle but it was fine. I almost never bother to draw the picture so I was pleasantly surprised that the NYT app did it for me.

Two things: I know Rex is going to be New York centric, and maybe the puzzle is, too, but those of us who watch the Astros (who are featured regularly on national TV) can’t help but notice the enormously tacky Oxy sign in the outfield of Minute Maid Park.

Agree that the clue on Colin Kaepernick was poor. But the reason he isn’t in the NFL is because he decided to opt out of his contract, because he overestimated his own abilities and NFL teams’ willingness to assume a controversial player whose best and highest use is probably as a backup QB. Maybe NFL owners are cowards, but that isn’t necessarily the same thing as racism.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Agreed that pink paper sucked. I am not as skilled as the rest of you; I solve in pencil so that I may erase when needed. And in this one, erasures led to more white spots! Hard to draw the line, then. But while I thought the puzzle was challenging, I
enjoyed how all the parts fit together. "Colin" was great clue for me, accurate or not, as led to my first section done. Aren't sports figures always associated with their league? "NHL's Bobby" seems a common clue (though not used today for him, I know).

Peter P 11:07 AM  

Another one where I thought it was reasonably easy (but for me, that means a) finishing a Sunday and b) within an hour. I can't believe the times I read here! People average like 20 minutes? Holy carp! I feel like I can't even read all the clues on a Sunday in 20 minutes. I'm happy with that kind of solve time on a Wednesday!). That said, this was in my wheelhouse, as I love Magritte and know this painting well, so the long clues came easy. ARTSALON felt forced to me (like Rex, I had ART SALES initially, and couldn't figure out what in the heck they wanted there), and I still don't know what OXY is. (OK, looking it up right now, apparently Occidental Petroleum, which I am not familiar with, either.)

Didn't bother with connecting the dots, though, (completely forgot about them) although the NYTimes app did have a cute little animation at the end drawing a pipe.

Alysia 11:08 AM  

I thought that having NAYS just two boxes away from NAE was damned sloppy.

I gotta say, though: the clue for CAGEFREE make me grin.

Blue Stater 11:17 AM  

@Mike in Mountain View: Maybe Rex won't say This Is Not A Crossword Puzzle, but I will. This one was even worse than Friday, which was the worst NYT crossword I can remember, and for many of the same reasons: way overgimmicked, full of mistakes. It's time for a change. It's way, way, way past time for a change.

TSG 11:25 AM  

stupid puzzle . . . .

Hartley70 11:30 AM  

This was a mishmash of everything I like so I had a great time solving this and finished it in my usual Sunday time. It wasn’t easy but it sure was fun and what a kick the finish was for an iPhone app user. I let out a yelp! So often we digital solvers get the “Short” end of the trick stick and never see the fun, but not today! A big thanks to Mr. Short and Mr. Zhou! My sympathy to the print lovers.

JOHN X 11:36 AM  

Rex's review was childish. This was a good Sunday puzzle! I knew the painting and figured it out from there but it was still a challenge. And OXY is Occidental Petroleum. Come on folks, learn something.

From the mini-puzzle I learned that a LUCID dream is one where you know you're dreaming. Is that right? I thought it meant "vivid" or something, but I'll buy that. JOHN X always has awesome cinematic dreams every night, in full three-strip Technicolor. Even my nightmares are enjoyable because they are so interesting.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

My dad's more outraged than your dad.

RooMonster 11:42 AM  

Hey All !
This is not a comment.

Put me in the tough camp. Also the 2x2 DNF camp, with ARTSALes/beNNHEIM. Also had PIsaLINE/GinDRYER/ITAwCA/iDEsT/wEAnIDaD (wha? on all those) because by that time in the puz, I just wanted to fill squares to be done. Funniest was wEAnIDaD. I'm gonna go call a beach house owner that and see what they say. :-)

As I'm not up on art/poetry/novels/sophistication-of-any-type, haven't heard of said painting, or said artists said explanation. I said. MAGRITTE should've TERSEd it, saying IT JUST IS, IS IT NOT? Did manage to draw the correct PIPE, however. Yay me! Calls for a ME DAY.

I actually liked the really well explained note. Details, man! Curve those edges! Too bad Andrew couldn't get TOBACCO in 27A for a real humdinger.

38A is very bizarre. Had Add first. ARE? OK...
REATA with an E?
JOE clued as Cawfee? Is that a New England accent?
Did like the Q thrown in sans U (twice.) I'm sure @M&A didn't, though.

So not the greatest SunPuz in the world, but nice if you knew The PIPE and whatnot. At least Rex didn't call Andrew a NIMROD.


Birchbark 11:44 AM  

On the meta front:

This is about the construction problem of connecting the dots on a crossword puzzle making it look realistic. How often have you solved a puzzle with a connect-the-dots bonus and said "that's not a [whatever the theme is]." On today's, you might say, "That's not a pipe." And the constructor would say, "Exactly." In fact, the dots you connected agree with you, admittedly in French. And the constructor would also say, "It's just a representation of a pipe, isn't it? Just like the three-part answer says" And then a chorus of editors and passers-by would say, " That's why they call it 'The Art of Puzzle Making,' folks."

Banana Diaquiri 11:57 AM  

Saturday is, by convention, Wednesday level difficult. just bigger. today seems in line with convention.

Shafty 12:04 PM  

You can always find the diagramless puzzles in the archive, “variety” section of the NYT site.

Mike Rees 12:09 PM  

I would have finished a lot faster had I accepted that the relatively easy ONEDOZEN answer was legit in a puzzle this challenging. Still ended just a hair on the hard size of medium - one minute over my average 28-minute time. I don’t know art very well, so I learned things today, which is at least half the reason I do these puzzles.

I finished it, without errors, and Rex didn’t. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this proud of myself.

Adam S 12:11 PM  

I enjoyed this, partly because it was a struggle in places since I did not know the title of the picture, where it hangs, or the quote. It was fun backing into that by getting SURREALISM from crosses, using that to deduce MAGRITTE, and working from there.

Like @Mike E, I torpedoed myself with FAndangO instead of FALSETTO. Then used that answer to hole myself again (as a transplant Brit that thinks football is a game played primarily with your feet) with nest instead of LINC. I maintain that in a well-aligned world the Eagles really should play at the Nest - or, even better, The Eyrie. It took enough crossings to see TURNINGS to delete that mess.

Mike Rees 12:11 PM  

This largely reflects my experience a few years ago. You’ll get faster as you finish more of them!

Suzie Q 12:11 PM  

I spent way too much time on this when I could have been doing something fun or productive.
My taste in art does not include the featured artist so that added to the low enthusiasm.
Mostly I came to see what cawfee was. Really?
Also, if your Syd isn't Vicious I don't know him.

@ JOHN X, My latest nightmare was interesting because in it I was dead but not upset about it. Only angry because they spelled my name wrong in the obituary!

old timer 12:14 PM  

COLIN was the Great White Hope of the 49ers. Well maybe not so white but you hardly noticed race in his case. Not with that name. I was a huge 49ers fan before they left for Santa Clara and everyone hoped he would be one of the best, for a long time. The team let him go because he was just too inconsistent. I can't say I blame the other teams for not wanting to take him on. He never would have been a lead quarterback again. (And note, no one including COLIN blames the team for deciding to replace him.)

OFL always hates puzzles he cannot easily solve. One of the joys of the blog is reading his reaction to being frustrated. My only mistake was not finding QTR and Q SECTION. Not the best Sunday but far from the worst.

michiganman 12:22 PM  

I watched this again and there's a man holding a pipe as he walks away. Priceless.

Banana Diaquiri 12:26 PM  

OK, it's Sunday. right??? my first mistake here in commentville.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Good one!

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Don't know the artist. Don't know the piece. Don't know French. Surprisingly finished with mo errors in our average time. Enjoyed it.

Unknown 12:35 PM  

Totally average and doable for me, excepting only the baffling dogie / REATA clue.

Nice to see that one anonymous commenter back at it again. Tell us again about Ta-Nehisi Coates on 9/11!

TubaDon 12:36 PM  

Did well except for the theme answers. Guessed wrong with ART SALES, RIATA and EDUCES, and finally reached my one hour limit and punted. No idea what OXY is, and QTR seems like a college term not a play period, but I got both. Amusing to see that Rex bailed too, but I don't hate puzzles that stretch my knowledge base, I learn from them.

JC66 12:37 PM  


You can try viewing the pictures with sound here.

Michael 12:55 PM  

I never noticed that puzzle pages were pink until I came here. And I am drinking coffee from a pink mug. I had to put the pages next to the rest of the dead-tree version to see the pinkness. Well, I never claimed to be particular good at colors.

The puzzle seemed of average Sunday difficulty to me. I didn't bother to connect the dots. As is often the case, I am not sure why so many people are getting so excited about a reasonably enjoyable and clever crossword puzzle.

Charley 12:56 PM  

Obscure painting few have heard of. Even more obscure quote. Worst Sunday puzzle ever.

TJS 1:01 PM  

Im with whoever mentioned the enjoyment factor of walking away from a puzzle when you're stumped, coming back later and blazing to the finish. That was my experience with this one. Never read the "directions", just jumped in, and ultimately thought this was a great Sunday, for a change.
If a clue was "NHLs Golden Jet" or "Baseballs Say Hey Kid", would there be legitimate objections ? Seems like just stretching to object to every little facet of the puzzle.
Not too long ago, Rex was in a forgiving mood over a puzzles weak fill because the theme answers and reveal were worth the effort. Apparently not if it causes an extended amount of time that precludes finishing a puzzle in less time than finishing a cup of coffee.
There are many more than 32 quarterbacks in the NFL. Every team has atleast one back-up, some have two. Whether you agree with Kaepernicks' politics, at the time he took his stance (or, actually, knelt), he was certainly considered more capable than many of the QB's employed at the time. I give him credit for the courage of his convictions.

puzzlehoarder 1:10 PM  

I can't relate to anyone giving up on this puzzle just as a straight up puzzle. Yes there were some tricky spots in the fill and it did take me 57 minutes to get a clean grid.

What made me want to give up was the extra 40 minutes it took me to figure out the exact order/outline for the pipe and the fact that the quote was in French. Pipe having the same spelling in both English and French really threw me off. The word PAST is easy to spot on the end of the stem. Leaving out a U and an N from the remaining letters I randomly came up with the word SCIENCE. Try and make a coherent English sentence out of UN PAST SCIENCE PIPE.

As you can imagine it was a long 40 minutes. I did have some French in highschool so eventually I recognized NESTPA and the scales fell off my eyes.

Sticking with things you don't understand is frustrating. It makes you feel stupid but when you finally "get it" you allow yourself the chance to develop as a solver.

Figuring out the drawing and the quote is really not my kind of puzzling. However the constructor went to great lengths to add this extra layer of challenge and I'm glad I got the full enjoyment of it.

One more little thing. Both SALVADOR and MAGRITTE share the first A and of course have the same number of letters. Not hard to sort out but a funny little coincidence nevertheless.

J 1:14 PM  

Contemporary take on the Magritte: www.nataliekunstadter.com/play/

Johnny Whirlwind 1:19 PM  

It's funny, because at a certain point, I threw up my hands and yelled "I don't care about this garbage heap of a puzzle anymore", and hit reveal grid. Just like Rex!

Shackfu 1:19 PM  

Unlike Rex, I liked the puzzle also. Thought it was very difficult and had to use a bit of inference and lanuage markers to get some of the letters. Hated some of the fill, like OXY, and JOE, but most of it was fun and challenging, like CAGEFREE, METAPHOR, MEDAY, and LABNOTES! And yes “me day” is a thing like “staycation!”

Kimberly 1:51 PM  

“...no one has heard it before...”

It takes special kind of hubris to replace “I have never” with “no one has ever” and yet you do this a lot, as if you are the human paragon of all knowledge.

If you were a Magritte fan, as I am, you would have forgiven every weakness as “worth it” for the theme. I’ve seen you do that many times.

For a professor I find it odd that you often seem to have only a vague and tenuous knowledge of all things cultural, and you frequently ridicule their appearance in the crossword. Yet the constant sports reference pass you by unnoticed, because you’re a sports fan. I admire your social liberalism but am continuously gobsmacked by your intolerance and mockery of people who have different interests. Those who love art, music, and theater are marginalized as people with esoteric and obscure knowledge that no “normal” person would have.

I love Magritte. I saw his showing at the SF MOMA this summer and was wowed. So he was fresh in my mind as I did today’s puzzle, and I knew the quote. I really loved the pipe. I thought the whole thing was fun (except the Kaepernick clue which did make me wince).

I guess that makes me no one.

JC66 1:56 PM  


Well said.

pcardout 2:18 PM  

Hi JP and all..I just finished the puzzle. Only noon here in New Mexico. I like these puzzles as the yiddish and other localisms that are common connect me to my NYC roots ... but hey, you can talk about the rest of the country too. I have a Texan friend in the oil business. Occidental petroleum (OXY) was easier for me than the zit creme. Also, I like long puzzles, and to LEARN SOMETHING. A puzzle like this sends one to Wikipedia and contributes to a "richly furnished mind". Expected Rex to like it BECAUSE it was intellectual and obscure. Grow up Rex ... you hyper crossword racers should just slow down and smell the roses.

Alan_S. 2:23 PM  

I am 100% with Rex on this one. There is a huge difference between challenging and just plain stupid. Even if one knew everything about the Magritte “work”, including the stupid explanation quote, the clueing for most of the fill was some of the worst I’ve seen. I’m still not sure which was worse; the clues or some of the ridiculously fabricated answers. No joy in NYT Sunday crosswords 18 out of the last 20 weeks. I’ve been enjoying the Spelling Bee more and that’s mostly child’s play.

Music Man 2:30 PM  

Are these puzzles computer-generated these days, or did the constructor actually figure out how to arrange it so the letters would form a pipe AND spell out the text in the painting?

MetroGnome 2:39 PM  

RE: The ongoing Charlie Rose debate -- So Idi Amin and Josef Stalin (didn't we have "STALIN ERA" as just a few days ago?) are perfectly acceptable as crossword puzzle answers, but the name of a modern-day accused slimeball is not?

It's always a kick to see censorious moralists twisting themselves into knots in their attempt to squirm out of their own hypocrisy.

The Clerk 2:47 PM  

Good puzzle. Couple rough spots but dominoed through.

Monty Boy 2:49 PM  

I kinda liked this one. A DNF with the same 4 squares wrong as OFL, so I think that's an accomplishment (amateur vs pro). I also had a
mis-q (pun intended) at _TR. Never thought of a play period as a quarter, even though plays are run during a quarter. A bit of a stretch in the elasticity of the language.

I did have several lookups. Among them: ATbeST worked for me because there's a boNNHEIM in Germany.

Steven 2:52 PM  

The good part: QBRANCH. Made the whole thing worth it. Almost gave up twice

I Like Rex 3:02 PM  

You say "One of the joys of the blog is reading his reaction to being frustrated."

I'm sad for you.

Ernie 3:05 PM  

I learned stuff today, too, but it was still ugly.

crackblind 3:15 PM  

First off, major kudos for using Understanding Comics in your class. I use his concept of words ("face") being more abstract than basic drawings (smiley faces, or to be more current :-) all the time with colleagues (it's relevant to what we do but would take too long to explain why).

As for the puzzle, it had waaaaaayyy to many theme answers, though because of the aforementioned abstract concept, I am very familiar with the painting and its text but know enough to not to be that guy and use it to make my point at work. As my office's resident geek (once again, I'll point you to the aforementioned use of a concept taken from Understanding Comics), the only issue I had with QBRANCH was wanting it to be Q Section for some reason. And the entire COLIN clue smelled of trying to be timely (meaning a Shortz clue edit) and coming out tone deaf instead (again Shortz).

Dolgo 3:16 PM  

Well, you all have to agree on one thing--you sports--mad, rap-loving folks learned something today. Too bad it spoiled your average solution time. I'm sure you'll recover over time when we get back to the usual Sunday fare!

Dolgo 3:21 PM  

BTW Magritte, like the fictitious Hercule Poirot, was a BELGIAN!

pmdm 3:27 PM  

Kimberly: You echo sentiments I have expressed at times on previous days. I don't notice Mr. Sharp composing such blanket condemnations as much as he used to, although I havent kept records to verify this one way or another. It seems to me that when he becomes quite angry, he "loses it" and succumbs to making such statements. While, as Z points out at apt times, he can be unjustifiably attacked, today is not one of those times. It's probably statements like some of those he made today that cause people like Will Shortz to pay him no attention, which is too bad because he does make a lot of good points.

Based on a comment above, I feel happy that I am not the only solver who became frustrated with the Web site interface when solving the "audio" crossword. Hopefully solvers who found that will send feedback to Mr. Shortz. Unless your name is M. Sharp, he does tend to listen.

Unknown 3:29 PM  

I actually liked this puzzle and did it more quickly than usual. Sorry Rex hated it.

Masked and Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Hmmm. Connect the French dots to get a work of art that I don't recall at all [yo, AGSessions]. Surrealistical. M&A did take a Modern Art History class in college, and do remember Magritte … but not this paintin -- at all. I want my money back [for the class, not the puz].

"The Art of Puzzle-Making" … puztitle kinda suggests that this ain't a puz: it's more like a picture of a puz? Surreal, sur.

Well anyhoo, this puzpic put up oneheckuva fight, at our artsalon -- and that's ok by m&e. It also had some luvly desperation, a la UNPOETIC & TAMERS & EMITTERS. And some superb longballs, such as METAPHOR & MARSROVER & HUMANRACE & DOGTREAT & QBRANCH. Also the always-welcome E-W grid symmetry. Plus, got yer weeject stacks all over tarnation, in the bottom gridhalf. Big thing missin IM&AO, to help sustain us bigger-than-snot SunPuz solvers, was enough of the crucial humor element.

Oh, yeah … It also had the Pan-Gram and The Circles and The Note … always @RP-pleasers. I bet he really enjoyed drawin that pipe, too -- even tho he couldn't quite bring hisself to finish it off, with that last dot-connector dealy.

staff weeject pick, of a respectable 38 choices, so yeeek how on earth do U choose?: DTS. As in: CON ECT the DTS.

OK, I'm gonna come down sorta impaled on the fence, over this puppy. Had that raised-by-surreal-wild-violinists feel to it. [Learned some new stuff about art & YEHUDI violinists, tho.] Sooo …
Thanx, Mr. Zhou.

Masked & Anonymo12Us


MetroGnome 3:52 PM  

Uh – speaking of hypocrisy: Right now, in the wake of the release of the new Wash Westmoreland biopic, Colette is again being feted for her literary genius and her status as an exemplar of liberated sexuality. She was, in fact, a serial adulterer whose sexual conquests included her teenage stepson, and she was also cruelly neglectful of her own daughter. Where are the hashtag police when we need them? Aren’t abusive sexual predators like this supposed to be consigned to infamy, and their works excised forever from the public sphere? I’m waiting . . .

Margaret 4:22 PM  

Yes definitely one of the most famous paintings / artists of the modern art era. I am shocked how many people don’t know of it who do the crossword. He was one of the first and most famous pop artists.

Margaret 4:24 PM  


BarbieBarbie 4:27 PM  

@Nancy, April 7 2018 byDavid Steinberg. No idea how to get to it... I think you can find the variety puzzles through Jeff Chen’s blog?

Dick Swart 4:42 PM  

I saw the SFMOMA Magritte show a few weeks back. Liked the show more than the puzzle.

The SE corner gave "magritte" pretty fast. 'Los Angeles' and 1929 and the pipe drawing all tied together. In spite of this, I was unable to finish!

See the show, if you are in the area ... particularly the interactive Magritte paintings as you leave ... great fun!

newspaperguy 4:43 PM  

Tough puzzle but far more stimulating than usual because of the subject matter. I spent many hours afterward reading and thinking about Magritte's work. Fascinating stuff. Thanks, NYT.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Rex feted Marie Severin endlessly less than a month ago, and is flummoxed by Magritte. Ladies and gentleman, I present the state of the academy today.

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

Old timer,
No. Kaepernick was not let go by the team. His term of employment was complete.

JC66 4:56 PM  


Thanks to @BarbieBarbie I was able to find the puzzle and email it to you. Hopefully, you can print it out. If so, enjoy.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Did anyone else do the audio puzzle? Fun and good intro to the main event.

Stanley Hudson 5:04 PM  

I rather like the painting and rather liked this puzzle.

Go ahead, call me a Philistine.

ZenMonkey 5:18 PM  

As someone with Magritte's "The Promise" bird tattooed on her shoulder blade, I should have adored this. But it was too much bad in service of the cute stuff. I do like how the app does the Note work for you, but one glance and I could tell it was Rene's pipe.

Interesting how disingenuous Magritte always was about this painting. It's one of the few (or maybe only?) paintings where the title actually refers to the image. So clearly he did want his audience to "get it", as opposed to most of his titles which have no actual relation to the painting except what the viewer might imagine.

Nancy 5:21 PM  

@Thanks, @BarbieBarbie. It's a very recent puzzle, so I imagine I did it when it came out...or at least attempted to do it. But now, armed with the date, thanks to you, I'll be able to find it. And then, God willing, I'll at least remember what the puzzle was. (Puzzles fall into the category of a great many things I don't remember.) But, I'm relieved to say that it has always been thus. Possibly since I was 11 years old, when my father said to me: "Nancy, you don't have a rememberer; you have a forgetter." (He was one to talk -- he himself, brilliant though he was, was extremely absent-minded.) The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and all that.

@Anon 2:49 -- My [anonymous] Hero!!!! Thank you for defending my romantic honor, not to mention my taste in "Sweethearts". Why do I feel that if you dropped the mask, I would know you as a blog friend?

Dolgo 5:34 PM  

I have to admit that I was a bit thrown off by the title of the work. I always thought it was "Ce n'est-pas une pipe." I'm glad to find out the real one. I like it much better!

Nancy 6:14 PM  

@JC66 -- It seems we were typing at the same time. Thanks for sending the diagramless to me. I don't have a printer, but if it turns out to be a puzzle I've never seen, I'll ask my neighbor to print it out for me. I imagine I will have seen it, though. Can't look at it now -- I'm running out to meet a friend for dinner. I'll let you know once I've looked at your email later today or tomorrow.

Sherm Reinhardt 6:19 PM  

Wife and I completed it in 48 minutes, below average, but it was a big one. Not evil, just intricate. I liked the PIPELINE clue.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

No comments about the other xword in the Sunday magazine? Audio...pink paper...

Jofried 6:51 PM  

Ahhh...horrible evil puzzle!! I know nothing about art. Took me 40 minutes to finish, waaay over my average time. I didn’t realize that the words were going to be in French and I was completely confused with the line and ahhhh...horrible!

John Culhane 7:17 PM  

Please. OK, you couldn’t solve the puzzle and that is frustrating. But it is a famous painting that even this dope —who has never even taken an art history course — knows. The quote isn’t impossible if you know the painting. Maybe try going out for some exercise after tackling the puzzle bit before embarrassing yourself by blaming the puzzle for your own lack of knowledge (which, by the way, is nothing to be embarrassed about).

Bagelboy 7:24 PM  

I thought FANDANGO was so clever for that clue.

Larry Gilstrap 7:25 PM  

I have seen the painting at LACMA on Wilshire Blvd for many years and have always felt engaged and thrilled. It's not only a famous painting, but it's also a gorgeous object. Visit the museum, it's next door to the La Brea Tar Pits. Cool area.

And LODI gets some cred, deservedly for that inky Zinfandel from the old vines.

Grid art is not my cup of tea. Floundered down around A REPRESENTATION which did not help in filling those tight corners.

Anonymous 7:27 PM  

Rex's critique screams "Sour Grapes."

George 7:32 PM  

Both the puzzle and the painting piss me off.

chefwen 8:20 PM  

@Hartley70 - Cute puppy!

Gentleman 8:22 PM  

I thought it was a whale.

Nancy C 8:30 PM  

@Paul Simon. I completely enjoyed this puzzle, especially since it led me to discover your song inspired by the Magritte and dog photograph.

Kate 9:41 PM  

I know nothing about Bond or Star Trek so I was a bit screwed. I know the painting and what it says but despite my BFA had no idea what the title was... also boinked myself with “SURREAL ART” rather than “SURREALISM” (Duh). It was only the shape of the pipe that even got me going and the “ceçi n’est pas une pipe” that pushed me along. Ruined my streak. Boo.

SethC 9:57 PM  

Did no one else notice 125a clue: "Whew!" elicitor and 60d: ELICIT?

Music Man 10:54 PM  

The Magritte Museum in Brussels, Belgium is a gem

Unknown 11:07 PM  

I cant believe they used the magritte pipe again. Wasnt it just a couple of months ago? Irritating. I Connected the circles before solving and stared at it in utter disgust. Cheap.

TomAz 11:29 PM  

@smdh 9:16 am (yeah I'm late to reply) --

I didn't write a scathing review of Rex because his review was scathing. I wrote a scathing review of Rex because his review missed the mark entirely. Not up to the standard I have come to expect of Rex.

Tom 11:34 PM  

Just went to SF MOMA'S exhibit of 70+ works by Magritte on Friday. So I enjoyed the serendipitous juxtaposition of doing this puzzle. So sad that so many were disappointed. Managed to finish close to my average. Makes me wonder at the impatience of some of you responders, and Rex ne Michael.

Unknown 11:40 PM  

Average Sunday time for me (which is substantially longer than most others here) I considered letting my 200 day streak go rather than finish slogging through this puzzle. I guess I have

jberg 12:08 AM  

@TomAz— Rex does not complain that he only knows the painting from a comic. He says “I’ve seen this painting” and then adds that it is used as an illustration in a book about understanding comics. His complaint is not the painting, but the superfluity of insignificant theme answers, especially the quotation. I disagree with him about the puzzle, but fair is fair.

Cassieopia 12:27 AM  

Loved it. Got through the entire thing without Googling except for aXY/IPaD cross. Took me over an hour but I really enjoyed that hour. Got hung up badly because I wanted “ gALlileO” instead of “FALSETTO” because “Galileo (Galileo) Galileo Figaro” is definitely a part of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Never heard of the art work, the French words in the circles confused me mightily, but I thought the puzzle was clever and hard and I learned a lot. And I admired how the theme permeated the puzzle. And the art’s title outlined the pipe! Elegant. Magnificent feat of construction and fun and interesting for the solver.

Unknown 1:18 AM  

Well FFS, I thought I'd completed this puzzle with no mistakes and had the same freaking four squares wrong.

Mike Johnson 1:55 AM  

Taxi/pedi confusion caused me some trouble, but I never would have known Oxy without getting Text. I had only a vague sense about Riata, and didn't know Ads as a tennis term. I'm new to the crossword and app, so I didn't see the note, but that didn't really didn't hinder me. I don't expect to breeze through a Sunday puzzle.

The easy stream of laughter flowing through the air
René and Georgette Magritte with their dog après la guerre

PatKS 9:19 AM  

The title made me think this was about an old crossword maker. I did finish it finally (never look up anything)but it was boring for so many reasons. The pink was annoying as hell and all I thought of the whole time was Pepto Bismal. Learned nothing at all. Boo

PGregory Springer 10:59 AM  

Thrilling. So much better than baseball.

thefogman 12:13 PM  

Instead of trying to beat the clock, I took my time and enjoyed solving this puzzle. I had lots of fun doing that and as a bonus finished error-free. Rex needs to put away the stop watch and smell the roses.

Wendy D 11:46 PM  

It’s funny, but I LOVED this puzzle. And didn’t need any checkers either. Big Magritte fan. Can’t believe so many people, including the reviewer, whined about it.

Anonymous 4:29 AM  

Can totally agree that Shortz should be fired, if not for this crap puzzle but for his occasional allowance of the answer "spaz". He is no Eugene Maleska, that's for sure.

Unknown 4:53 PM  

Maybe someone already covered this but...

Imperial IPAS ??????

Does that make it a double IPA then?

Burma Shave 9:36 AM  




sixtyni yogini 11:31 PM  

Enjoyed this a lot. It hit an area in which I have some knowledge, art. Challenging but fun. Makes me think that liking a puzzle is a balance between challenge, mood, and areas of knowledge. Oh, and sleep the night before.

BS2 10:38 AM  

(callin' all of it TROPE)

1. a figurative or METAPHORical use of a word or expression.

Frank Schlesinger 12:35 PM  

sorry everyone i liked this one i found it very clever.

Unknown 1:36 PM  

1 week later: is no one going to mention the light green shading over SOME (but not all) of the circle answer numbers??

Unknown 1:54 PM  

Is Rex killing the messenger because he couldn't get the clues? Yes, it's a challenging puzzle, but it's also ingenious. OXY was one of the easier clues because Occidental Petroleum is a well-known company that was founded by a guy with a wonderful name: Armand Hammer. I remember Hammer because he tried to ease relations between the US and USSR back in the Cold War.

The only sour note for me was REATA. Should have been RIATA.

rainforest 2:51 PM  


Judging from the commenters, this puzzle has divided people much like the Brett Kavanaugh hearing has, but it is much more interesting.

One interesting thing was I learned that I can't draw. I tried to follow the instructions and connected the dots in order from left to right. Looks like the Alps.

Medium-challenging with a variety of places where one could slip up. For instance, my initial answer for the Queen clue was "FAndangO". Was I the only one? That and toDAY were my two w/o's.

I found the bottom half tougher than the top, but persevered to a fine finish, but I have to admit I don't know why this is such a famous work.
Good puzzle, though, with its artistic, creative, bilingual elements.

AnonymousPVX 2:59 PM  

I actually kept at this for too long....that bottom middle section with “OXY” - apparently the best kept secret named oil company on the planet Earth - made me fold. Had everything else, and didn’t care.

Happily ended this. Life’s too short.

leftcoastTAM 7:36 PM  

Got 90% of it, but couldn't pin down the theme and gave up. After looking up the remaining answers, didn't want to take even more time to figure out the French quote and its virtually useless outline of the obvious pipe.


Diana,LIW 9:46 PM  

I was doing quite well, and then....I ran oooouuuutt of steam. ssssssss

Like @Lefty, I got 90% - maybe 95% - as @PVX said, life is too short.

Saw George Winter play this afternoon. Watching genius makes one more realistic about one's puzzle acumen.

I saw that there were many comments, so I shall peruse same. Ta ta. Later.

Diana, Lady-in-waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 9:47 PM  

M-W definition of REATA (see the synonyms):

plural -s
: lariat
Origin of REATA
American Spanish, lariat, lasso — more at lariat

First Known Use: 1846

Related to REATA
lariat, lasso, riata

kitshef 9:48 PM  

One of those days when I have absolutely no idea what Rex is on about. This was a completely bog-standard, easier-than-average, fill-in-the-blanks, boring Sunday.

spacecraft 10:34 PM  

Well, I put all the letters in the squares correctly--but as to drawing? My best effort looked sorta like Moby Dick. And the "five-word message?" Not a clue. "N'EST" is really a contraction of two words, NE and EST, and so the "five" is debatable. What is not debatable is that the message is in French--despite MAGRITTE's quote being in English. Apples & oranges; no fair.

So, did I F or NF? I'm gonna call it good. My effort, folks--NOT the puzzle. The puzzle I'm gonna call a bogey. Points for QBRANCH save the double.

leftcoastTAM 11:29 PM  

May I withdraw my comments above? Anybody?

It's a meta-puzzle whose depth I didn't adequately grasp.

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

I don't quite grasp the need to finish the NYT crossword quickly. Isn't that sort of like ordering a fine wine and gulping it down.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

I LOVED this puzzle. I know art but I wasn’t that familiar with this piece so it was all an enjoyable, slow reveal. The best kind of puzzle!

Unlike others here, I like to spend days on the Sunday crossword. 20 minutes here, 15 minutes later. Savoring and enjoying it. And I’m not in NY so mine comes in my Sunday paper 1 week later. Sometimes I even save them up if I know I have a long airplane ride pending. Therefore, I’m sure nobody will see my comments at this late date, but that’s ok.

This was SO much better than wacky phrases with letter or word substitutions. I hate those and won’t even solve them.

Thank you!

P.S. I don’t make a gourmet meal in 20 minutes either.

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