Inspector Gadget antagonist / SUN 12-9-18 / Barbie's strawberry blond sister / Asian territory in Risk / Kids tv character who speaks in falsetto / Weather-controlling Xmen character / Certain product of pyrolysis / Massimo who wrote Goodbye Kiss

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy (8:24)

THEME: FANTASTIC BEASTS / AND / WHERE TO FIND THEM (62A: With 68- and 74-Across, J.K. Rowling's first screenplay, with a hint to three pairs of answers in this puzzle) — three fantastic beasts and also ... where to find them

Theme answers:
  • ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN, cryptid of the HIMALAYAS (91A: Creation after the Indian and Eurasian plates collided)
  • LOCH NESS MONSTER, cryptid of the SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS (115A: Gaelic's home)
  • THE KRAKEN, cryptid of THE NORWEGIAN SEA (105A: It borders Iceland's eastern coast)
Word of the Day: NEROLI (84A: Perfumery oil) —
  1. an essential oil distilled from the flowers of the Seville orange, used in perfumery. (google)
• • •

The story of this crossword is: the revealer was an enormous gimme. So many people will be able to fill it right in, even without any crosses. On top of that, the rest of the puzzle is not very challenging at all. My orange trouble marker (the felt-tip pen I use to mark the trouble spots on my printed-out grid) is not getting much action. Some symmetricalish trouble in the DRCLAW / ASTANA areas, and then holy hell what is NEROLI (?) ... but the lone real trouble spot, for me, took the form of a kind of fault line located (aptly) in the California section of the puzzle, running from SHALE OIL down through CARLOTTO (??!?!?!?!?!) (86D: Massimo who wrote "The Goodbye Kiss"). Where those two plates meet (i.e. OZS and STACIE ?!), there was some shaking, rumbling, and mild property damage. Else, smooth sailing. Grid seemed pretty clean and interesting. The themers play pretty fast and loose with definite articles (including THE here, excluding it there), but conceptually it was consistent. I liked solving this one just fine. I think the gimme revealer is a bit of a problem, but no one but me is going to complain about getting that much help. Many personal speed records will be set today. I was only 40 seconds off my own.

Half of constructing is noticing when words or phrases can be arranged symmetrically or broken down into symmetrical segments, so good catch on the Rowling screenplay title. Honestly, that title seems built for crosswords—fits symmetrically and seems to be dictating the theme concept straight to you. "Yeah, it's not a complicated concept," it seems to be saying, "but it's sturdy and straightforward, not to mention whimsical, and people love whimsy, mate." It's like finding a recipe for a crossword. But ... you can't find it if you're not paying attention, so all credit to the constructor.

Five things:
  • 112D: Angle (FISH) — oy that was hard. Had the FI- and still nothing. So many possible meanings for "angle," but this one really Really didn't occur to me.
  • 123A: Capital of Kazakhstan (ASTANA) — why do I want this to be ASHTANA? It's very much not, not even by pronunciation, but ... I wish I could think of why I want that "SH" sound in there... I did a puzzle recently that contained QAZAQSTAN. That was fun.
  • 127A: What old army buddies might discuss (THE WAR) — uh ... no. Let's just pretend this non-phrase is not even here, shall we? I'd actually like THE BAR better here. Maybe with a clue about raising or lowering or draining
  • 106D: Value system (ETHIC) — one of my least favorite solving issues is ETHIC v. ETHOS. I don't know the difference and even if the difference were explained to me, I would promptly forget it and end up writing this same comment again on a later puzzle. I'm not convinced I haven't written this same comment before. The infinite recursion of ETHICOS!
  • 4A: "Inspector Gadget" antagonist (DR. CLAW) — just realized, just this second, that I had this guy confused in my mind with the antagonist from "The Smurfs" ... argh, what's his name ... had a cat ... wore some kind of ankle-length black dress ... Megulore ... Melmadar ... aargh, GARGAMEL! His cat was AZRAEL! I'm not sure I can even picture DR. CLAW. So here's a picture of DR. CLAW (who also has a cat!):

NOTE: They Might Be Giants have a song called  "Mr. Klaw" *and* a song called "Dr. Worm"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:15 AM  

Easy. Cute. Liked it. The movie is pretty good too. That said, the reviews of the second movie with Jude Law as a young Dumbledore are not so good...38% on Rotten Tomatoes.

TomAz 12:17 AM  

So according to the NYT app, I set a personal best time for a Sunday today. This surprised me a lot. I had a function to attend in San Diego this afternoon. I had two (not one, not three -- I think this is crucial) beers during said function. I return to the airport to come home, get through security and all that, and have about 40 minutes to kill. OK, the Sunday xword is out, let's do that. And I did. And I was annoyed... not by the theme, but by the preponderance of proper names I didn't know and didn't care about. ISLA and ERIKA and DWAYNE etc. and DR CLAW, whom I've never heard of. But I plowed through anyway and the crosses fell and I got the theme and finished in 17 minutes plus. Usually I'm like 25-30. It must have been the dulcet tones of the San Diego airport that had me so focused.

I didn't know what a 'cryptid' was, but the meaning revealed itself on its own, so no biggie.

I enjoy Potterlalia but like Jeff C my knowledge stops at the 7 books. But I'd heard of the movie so it fell on a few crosses.

In sum: easy, but I have no idea why. All the usual flags were pointing at a struggle.

mmorgan 12:25 AM  

This was not a bad puzzle and it certainly had its pleasant moments, but for me -- and I am speaking of my own subjective experience, not as a judgment of its virtues or deficiencies -- it just wasn't that much fun to solve. There was lots of stuff I didn't know, but all of it came pretty easily and fairly from crosses.... That's not a problem. But there were just very few "a-ha!" moments. For me, anyway. But it pretty much did what I think a Sunday puzzle should do these days. I guess. Never mind. I dunno...

Z 12:34 AM  

Hand up for easy. Did it while keeping one eye on the Chelsea City match (was off doing chores for a big hunk of the second half, but my trusty AppleTV NBCSN App let me catch the whole match tonight), and even half distracted finished it by the 26th minute. I’m guessing more like 20 if I’d been focused. Pretty much sussed the theme at the LOCH NESS MONSTER, so no struggle there. The revealer was actually tougher then the themers because I didn’t remember the exact wording of the second half of the title. Wasted many precious nanoseconds thinking about it.

JOHN X 12:49 AM  

I mostly just filled this in. Never heard of the themer movie (and I've never seen or read a single Harry Potter anything) but it was easy enough to figure out.

DRCLAW is based on the KAOS villain "The Claw" from the second episode of Get Smart:

THE CLAW: No, Mr. Smart. I am emproyed by KAOS. The internationerr organization of evirr. My name is The Craw!

AGENT 86: The Craw?

THE CLAW: No, not The Craw, The Craw!

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Just what I needed after the brutal beating I suffered after Friday and Saturday’s puzzles.

Never read Rowling’s works, but didn’t need to, this puzzle was self explanatory and a whole lot of fun. Growing up in Scotland and having a Norwegian mother gave this one extra layers for me.

Loved it, thank you Mr. Trudeau.

Anonymous 2:37 AM  

Let me be picky and observe that I see nothing that suggests that Gaelic's home is particularly in the SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS. Its origin is certainly not there, and that is just one of many places where it is spoken by some residents today.

I am also moderately knowledgeable in geography (far from an expert, but I can probably name almost every country), and must admit I have never heard of the NORWEGIAN SEA as a sea of its own or ASTANA. Nor had I ever heard of THE KRAKEN.

And being convinced it was ESP (from the other day) instead of ASL, along with ELISHA and STACIE crossed with SHALE OIL, made me miserable in that region for a long time.

'mericans in Oman 2:54 AM  

I don't know whether @Rex is aware of this, but the appearance of his blog changes subtly depending on the country from which the reader accesses. We're currently in the Dhofar region of southwest Oman, not far from the Yemen border. So this page includes SOME ArABic writing in the upper left of the page. Don't know what it says.

The correct pronunciation of the main town here, Salalah, puts the stress on the second syllable, but we like to put the stress on the first, as in "Tis the season to be jolly, Sa-la-[la] lah, la la la lah."

So, sharing the puzzle over a breakfast that included fūl (fava bean stew), we were glad that it was pretty easy. Despite that, we DNF. It was our own day-um fault. Had ICE-t as a possible writer of "Happy Birthday" (why not? I assume there's been a rap version of that classic), and INc completing "Motor __". Always much harder to search for an error when there are two or more.

After day after day of UHURA, it was nice to encounter an old friend: OKRA. I'm one of the few people writing on this blog that gladly eats that much-maligned vegetable. What's wrong with slimy?

Learned a new word: RESECT. Aretha Franklin's iconic song would have been so much easier to sing if she had used that word instead of RESpECT. Could have been about a spouse pleading with her surgeon partner to excise an embedded splinter:

I rubbed some wood while you were gone
Rubbed it in the wrong direction,
All I'm askin' is for a little RESECT when you come home
For me, that'd be a sign of affection,
Find out what it means to me
Take care... T-C-B

OK, time to go and do something else ...

Anna 2:56 AM  

If you blur your eyes the puzzle layout resembles a FANTASTIC BEAST. :)

TrudyJ 3:39 AM  

I tried so hard to convince myself Burl IVES mught've written Happy Birthday but ICE-T is even moew fun.

Loren Muse Smith 4:58 AM  

I agree with Rex that noticing how symmetrically FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM can be divided was great for Ross. And this is pretty much an exhaustive list of creatures, right? I don’t follow such things too much. I mean, I’ve squinted at the pictures of Nessie, thinking, Yeah – could be something there… but I moved on pretty quickly.

In WV some people truly believe in the existence of Mothman (avatar). He’s a cryptid, too. I can’t find any good link that doesn’t assault you with pop up ads and flashing lights that render the reading of the article impossible.

The clue for ENRICH brought me up short. Can it still mean to make someone wealthy money wealthy? Or does “wealthy” in the clue have a meaning closer to abundant?

Totally agree with Rex on the ETHIC/ethos deal. I had the same problem today, too.

Food for thought – I have decided that The Golden Rule is not a rule. It’s just an observation about how we already live our lives. It’s a very minor distinction, but still.

AMAZON ECHO. I just our Amazon Prime accoutn to buy this ridiculous hamster that echoes what you say. No idea why I absolutely had to own this guy, but, listen, he’s pretty disappointing. Mainly, his voice doesn’t sound helium-boosted the way this Russian one does. Don’t get one if you’re thinking about it. You're welcome.

I still maintain that the expression should be stiff lower lip ‘cause that’s the one that always betrays you. Actually, now that I think about it, it is the upper lip that starts to twitch when you’re about to drop that heavy tv you and your sister are trying to carry into her apartment. So maybe the expression is in the spirit not of don’t show your feelings but rather don’t let’em see you strain. Huh. Epiphany.

“Crepuscular” – what a word. If I had ever learned it, I had forgotten it. I’m a crepuscular creature. But the morning kind, not the evening kind. Most of what I just impatiently read talks more about guys who come to life in twilight. Twilight for me is absolutely not in the morning. Anyway, it’s a cool word that almost looks like an adjective for some ripped gym guy with too-perfect hair who keeps stealing glances at you.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

Am I the only English speaking person still seriously annoyed by ONEOFF (111A)? It should be ONEOF (a kind).

Hungry Mother 7:29 AM  

Lots of names, but plenty of easy fill. I got the theme early on and cruised (read “slogged”) through it. Speaking of slogging, heading out for an 8 mile run is a bit.

KRMunson 7:34 AM  

This one played hard for me. I didn’t get the revealer until I was almost done so it didn’t help me one bit. Not knowing Rowling’s body of work was a minor liability. Hardest part was the crossing of foreign words at 21 across. You gotta know French, Afrikaan, and Swedish. Heck if I know. But guessed and got them right. Pure luck.

Anon 7:46 AM  

Yes. “One off“ is a common term for a custom made item that is one of a kind

ncmathsadist 7:51 AM  

What the hell is SEAU?

chefbea 7:59 AM  

What in the world is a cryptid???? I googled it and still made no sense!! Someone please explain!!!

Aketi 8:02 AM  

I can NEVER look at the word ABOMINABLE without thinking of my son and many of the other kids trying to recite the martial arts credo at his dojo. I don’t know why they included “indomitable spirit” in the credo because the kids always transformed it into ABOMINABLE spirit.

OffTheGrid 8:11 AM  

At a bakery an ICER writes "happy birthday" on a cake.

Z 8:13 AM  

@Trudy Morgan-Cole - The person who writes “Happy Birthday” on a cake is the ICER. As far as I know neither Burl nor Mr. -T were ever employed by a bakery.

@John Morrison - The late Junior SEAU was an NFL player who had a hall of fame career then committed suicide at least in part to donate his brain to science. CTE is an issue for many sports, and the NFL has a major problem.

@LMS - Ohhhh, you mean the new Golden Rule: They that’s got the Gold, Rules.

@chefbea - Don’t over-think it. A “cryptid” is a cryptic animal. Big Foot, Yeti, Nessie, et cetera. The term distinguished between creatures mythological, like a Griffin, and creatures that some will claim are real.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

This caused my DNF but it is a real term (that I did not know, either).

Rainbow 8:17 AM  

Please save your outrage.

Tiaina Baul Seau Jr., better known as Junior Seau, was a linebacker in the National Football League. Known for his passionate play, he was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. He was elected posthumously to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Big Steve 46 8:17 AM  

It always leaves me a little sad to read of so many folks obsessed with the time it takes them to complete a crossword puzzle. I think of the NYT puzzle as a little break in the day, when I can sit back, get a fresh cup of coffee - or if a little later in the day - some Old Overholt on the rocks - and tackle the puzzle. On Sundays, if I'm lucky, there are a few others around who might pitch in a suggestion or two. If anything, I wish the puzzle solving time was a little longer.

But one of the downsides of reaching the golden years more or less intact, is that I have become a genuine "old fart!!" Well as the cliche goes, if you are don't like old age, just consider the alternative. MY advice still: put away the stop watch and uncork the bottle!

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

I like geography, so it was fun to match the cryptids with their assumed locale. Another good one: chupacabra, from Puerto Rico (lots of other places, too, from Texas to Chile, but mostly PR, and the number of letters match so it'd be good for crossword symmetry).

@LMS I also caught crepuscular--It most certainly does not mean "active at DAWN." It means active at twilight. The French word for twilight is "crépuscule." It comes from the Latin crepusculum, meaning twilight. Not nocturnal, not any time where there's not much light, not dawn. Twilight.

Alex 8:34 AM  

Can we discuss crossing "ORE" as the Swedish penny with "TERRE" as part of the French word for potato? Using an English clue for both or either was absolutely possible.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

As soon as 5d, where burgle somehow equates with rob, I knew the The Rock was in good company. Naw?

Teedmn 9:10 AM  

I solved this during the crepuscular dawn hours. I see I'm not the only one to question that answer. Everything I found for a definition online points to "dusk" as being twilight or crepuscular. DAWN and daybreak are cited as antonyms. And yet, the formal definition, "the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the refraction and scattering of the sun's rays from the atmosphere" seems to apply equally to DAWN as Dusk. That said, I had Dusk in at 45D for most of my solve, causing a "ghost" to be SPECTRE (didn't fit) or SHADE (didn't fit). WRAITH finally ghosted its way into that slot and all was well.

Some nice cluing here - the breather of 89D being LUNG, not "rest". My favorite was 96A's "'Happy Birthday' writer, maybe" = ICER. (I momentarily wondered why ICE-t may have been a candidate for writing the song. Rap version?)

And 112D's "Angle" = FISH. I was running the alphabet for _ISH when it hit me. Har.

I don't know how I feel about a puzzle inspired by a J.K. Rowling screenplay, but this puzzle was well put together and I had fun with the fill, so I'm going to say, "nice job, Ross".

kitshef 9:22 AM  

Most of the puzzle was moo-cow easy clues. But then there was a smattering of impossible proper names thrown in. That is not the right way to introduce some difficulty to your puzzle.

And just look at that 80A row: UNHOZSGOTANFNEROLI. Perhaps that should replace OOXTEPLERNON as the standard-bearer for bad fill.

QuasiMojo 9:26 AM  

I had to take a long Breather at the end because I did not get the Congrats sign when I was done. ?? I then figured out that LULL was wrong! Haha. LUNG was clever. I wondered what “Lever Say Lever” meant. Perhaps it was some cryptid nonsense from a Rowling oeuvre. Norwelian Sea sounded made up too so I thought it might be from the movie. Has it come out YET? Or is that YETI?

Recently I was staying in an apartment of a friend that had a world map as its wallpaper. The area around Iceland was placed around the ice box in the kitchen. So every time I reached for the milk or a Siggi’s yoghurt, I kept seeing Iceland and the Sea of Norway. There is a very cool isolated ISLE up there that is owned by Norway. I kept fantasizing about visiting it. I can’t imagine it’s easy to get to.

Did you know there are theories that Atlantis was somewhere up there near the Arctic Circle? I just read a very interesting new book that debunks all the theories about Atlantis since Plato first mentioned it. He just made it all up. Sort of like J.K. Rowling. Fascinating stuff. I highly recommend it. The Search for Atlantis. Fantasy indeed!

Nice write-up Rex. Altho The War is perfectly fine to me. When I was in kneepants, I used to ask my Daddy “what did you do during The War?” Seems fair.

Z 9:32 AM  

@anon8:34 &@Teedmn- Twilight happens twice a day, even though most of us Americans tend to be awake only for one occurrence a day. Hence the common idea that twilight happens in the evening. This is one of those clues where knowing less is helpful. If you know “crepuscular” you’re going to naturally think Dusk, and may even have a D to confirm it. and so stub your toe. But if you don’t know “crepuscular” you just go with the flow and work from crosses and logic.

@Alex - Agreed. Too cute.

@kitshef - Ouch. The god of bad short fill, OOXTEPLERNON, apparently has many names.

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

This was a Sunday I thoroughly enjoyed. One day, I will get around to reading Rowling's books. I've certainly heard and seen her screenplay's so this was fun to figure out.
The symmetry and the smoothness of this puzzle, made for a happy solve experience. The three cryptid animals should be familiar to one and all. Went looking for YETI but all I could find was MOOG.
Liked seeing HOMEMAKERS sitting on top of HOVERS OVER. I'm a helicopter grandmother to our newest Hadley Rose. I can't get enough of her. I'm constantly staring and doing the COO thing. She smiles so I know it isn't all bad.
The crook and crank KRAKEN is my favorite monster. Who doesn't dream of a giant squid slithering around your sub while reading Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? Did you know the hafgufa is the hugest monster in the sea?
@Big Steve 8:17: The speed contest has been discussed a lot here. My take: There are a lot of crossword pros on this blog. When it takes me over an hour to do a puzzle that our OFL and others do in 5 minutes, boggles me mind. I see nothing wrong in timing yourself. If you are really good and just plop in the answers, why not try for speed. All the crossword contest out there need you to have the speed and accuracy. Timing yourself becomes a goal. Why not?
I, personally, only like speed with downhill skiing. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I actually make it down fast enough to find a bar that serves my favorite Brandy.
Speaking of WELSH....Would heads explode if the Gwyllgi appeared? He's the mythical dog from Wales. Think mastiff and black wolf. SACRE bleu!

kitshef 9:38 AM  

Re: Crepuscular. I think the confusion here is with what twilight means.

Definition from Merriam-Webster: the light from the sky between full night and sunrise or between sunset and full night produced by diffusion of sunlight through the atmosphere and its dust (emphasis mine).

If you are in the UK, twilight refers exclusively to the evening. In the US, it's both.

Birchbark 9:57 AM  

Dylan's voice = rASpy --> NASty --> NASAL

@TeedMN (9:10) -- these are latter days, when synonyms and antonyms lose there moorings and share the same space. And yet they do, and we make peace with it.

Not an ounce of pink in the crepuscular sky this morning = puzzler's delight. The meadow side of the house is clear and bright. The river side woods are light fog, sparkling frost on the trees, and the sun more of a white halo than anything else. Time to get the tree.

Sarah 10:02 AM  

I lost a few minutes with wOO instead of COO

Rex - I think you were thinking of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.

Rube 10:09 AM  

Completely agree and I have expressed this sentiment before. Instead of screaming thru the puzzle looking for as many gimmes as possible like FISH, we should savor the puzzles and try to get the difficult clues or long answers by mulling over them awhile rather than just using brute force from the crosses.

Norm 10:14 AM  

An okay puzzle, but I found myself more and more annoyed by the inconsistency in when THE appeared in the grid when it did not. Why THE KRAKEN but not [THE] ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN or LOCH NESS MONSTER? The constructor was very careful with the clues on the cross-referenced locations (compare the "the" phrasing in 24A and 31A with its absence in 48A); the critters could not have been handled somehow?

Bourbon Street 10:20 AM  

I was a tomboy, so I never owned a Barbie doll, never played with one, and never bought one (or any of her accoutrements) for anyone—I have no children and my nieces weren’t interested in Barbie. How is it then that my brain immediately knew that STACIE is Barbie’s sister??? I can only think that some commercial dumped that piece of information into my head where it lay dormant until I needed it to solve a crossword puzzle. It would be so nice if I could retrieve useful information like that. No matter how many times I’ve seen the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution I still can’t recite it. Argh!

Charley 10:24 AM  

I’m with you. Looked it up in Merrick-Webster. No such word.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

When I was a snotty teenager, I tried to impress my father by describing someone we both knew (a man of my father's age who had a bit of a drinking problem, with a red face and swollen nose to show for it) as 'crepuscular'. I thought to big, unusual word demonstrated my worldliness and I guess I was confusing it with 'crapulous'. Secretly, I thought my father wouldn't know what it meant, and that would be cool too. After I said it, he replied: "'Crepuscular' means pertaining to the twilight of dawn and dusk, like the times that rabbits come out to eat. What exactly at you trying to say?"

Oh well.

The man in question had been in the British Army during WWII and would occasionally reminisce about the time he had been at Dunkirk. His platoon was ordered to guard the rear of the retreat, at a country crossroads a few miles back from the beaches. A restaurant was at the crossroads, and so, soon enough, they started to drink some of the wine from the restaurants stock. (Still no sign of the Germans.....) Eventually, they decided they were involved in a hopeless cause and used their own initiative to abandon their post and try to make it to the beaches. As they walked their across a farmer's field, they were attacked by a German ME 109 but not hit.
The 'crepuscular' gentleman in question made it out to fight another day (he helped ferry trucks from Basra to the Iranian-Russian border, part of our efforts to re-equip Stalin as he fended off the German hordes.

So, yeah, I'm OK with 127 across. Some of the most intensely interesting - - and human - - tales I've ever heard were caught listening in on old army buddies, swapping stories about THE WAR.

Z. Harris 10:47 AM  

Did hell just freeze over?

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Took me way too long to just realize ODSON was ODS ON.

Gidget 10:58 AM  

Dr. Claw: Now all I need is a dashing appellation.
Minion: What’s that? A hillbilly in a tuxedo?

Unknown 11:04 AM  

Uh oh. Brain broken. TWO twilights a day? Who knew?!? Next you’re going to tell me that TWI- is a prefix meaning “two”. That can’t be right, can it?

Please don’t read this as sarcasm. I’ve learned something this morning. Thanks!

TubaDon 11:13 AM  

@Big Steve 46, you expressed my thoughts exactly. As to the puzzle, PENICILLIN gave me LOCHNESS and that gave me the theme. The only thing I remembered about the play was it was FANTASTIC, so it took a while to pry out the rest of it. I was lucky to guess the CARLOTTO/STACIE and NlEROLI/DETRIMENT crossings right. After intuiting several long answers from one or two crosses, I was tempted to put in SNAKE OIL at 51D.

Unknown 11:14 AM  

I completely agree. There are a lot of these mythical(?) beasts out there, and I assumed for a long time that this one was just one I hadn’t heard of. Unlike the relative gimme that a six letter northern beast would have been. Especially if there was even a hint of a K in the vicinity.

I don’t like this inconsistency, but that’s what I get. For throwing a hissy fit last week about other people trying to impose their expectations for a proper puzzle on the constructor. So take that, Dan! Anyway, I get it. Constructing puzzles is hard. And he needed those extra three letters to get the job done.

oldactor 11:27 AM  

@Norm: I googled Kraken and saw that it was rarely mentioned without the THE. Don't know why but it was always "The Kraken".

Crimson Devil 11:32 AM  

Fun puz. Like angle, let, Jr (predict he’ll become constant presence), agree with OFL re ethic/os, loved LMS’s definition of crepuscular—akin to Jimmy Buffett’s land sharks, finally figured out cryptid, never read word of Rowling & don’t plan to, heard sho-nuff Cajun creole cook this week pronounce that real gumbo eschews okra—tho I like.
Anyone see NYT article Nov 20 re Grammar Table on sidewalk upper west side ??

Curmudgeon 11:42 AM  

@Big Steve, It's the sport of geeks. They have tournaments dedicated to it. So what you're saying here is like telling a sports team, why worry about the score? Just try to do (this) with the ball and enjoy yourself.

This was not easy for me and as happens on Sundays like this, I just walked away when I was satisfied enough with the effort. Woe is I?

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Who does puzzles by the row???????

Z 11:59 AM  

Why do people who don’t care about speed solving care so much about speed solving?

From the FAQs:
6. Why do you talk about your solving times? You must think you are So Superior. I think I enjoy the puzzle more than you because I savor it blah blah blah x infinity...

I like to time myself on occasion, especially on early-week puzzles. I'm always in a kind of low-level training for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (again, above link). I don't care if you are faster / slower than I am, or if you don't care about timing at all. More power to you. Everyone does the puzzle differently. There are solvers of all different speeds who read this site. There's no reason for anyone to feel defensive / self-conscious.

The irony, of course, is that the “smell the cleverness” types always seem to need to claim superiority. Free advice, solve the way you want and don’t worry how others enjoy themselves.

In case you’re wondering, I’m a much faster solver than I used to be but no one would accuse me of being a “speed-solver.” Two Rexes is top speed for me. Now, if you think Rex is fast....

I’m OT with this post, so TTYL.

Leon 12:01 PM  

Last Christmas I received a bottle of Kraken Black Spiced Rum with a ceramic Tiki glass.

RooMonster 12:05 PM  

Hey All !
From the Animated Movie "Monsters Inc." -
Yeti: They call me ABOMINABLE, can you believe that? Why not the adorable snowman? Or the agreeable snowman?

Well, I got my access to my computer back. But still got screwed over by Tech Intel. If you get a call from these asses, or Protectera, IGNORE!! Scammers. But, that's for another blog.

Found puz easy, as the promos for the Revealer are on TV right now. So was able to fill in a nice swath of space. The themers themselves were quite easy, too, after getting a bunch of crosses and getting them on pattern recognition.

Got our old friends OKRA, ARE TOO, OR SO, ELAN, EMO. Had dyslexic answers at 43 & 44D, FeiF/IlsA. So Otis was isoSHA. Har. ODSON is an Upper Class DOOK. Keep wanting it to he ODd SON.

Thank you previously puzs for THREE STAR, knowing that's as high as restaurants get rated. Three THEs. Dylan's voice, I wouldn't say NASALly, more like being on a Ricky boat. Up and down, up and down. Never thought that guy could sing.

Well, good to be back, gonna go frost some cakes with ICE-t.


PS, LOCHNESS MONSTER is my cousin. 😋😎😂

Vernon'sdad 12:10 PM  

I'm new to rex's world. I enjoy your posts .

TomAz 12:33 PM  

@Big Steve:

You do you, I'll do me. K?

Unknown 12:42 PM  

Neroli? Ridiculously unfair.

jayhawkprof 12:52 PM  

This is NOT a Sunday-worthy puzzle. Downright boring. No challenge, at all. C'mon, NYT. Do something.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

I started the morning with Doonesbury, segued to CBS News Sunday Morning, and just finished the NYTimes XWord puzzle. I haven't been as entertained by 3 members of one family since the Lapinski triplets back in '69. Level, generous you ladies.

Banana Diaquiri 1:03 PM  

“Crepuscular” – what a word. If I had ever learned it, I had forgotten it.

well... if your a longtime jazzer, then you know it's the Main Word in a Monk Classic. 'Crepuscule with Nellie'

Masked and Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Always think it's extra-cool, when a bigass SunPuz opens up with a weeject stack in the NW. Well done.

Schlocky theme … like a ton. Last Friday nite schlockfest at our house, for instance, featured: "Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep". Note the lack of "the" with Kraken. Shocking lack of respect, I reckon.

staff weeject pick: OZS. Plural abbrev meat. And it's sorta reminiscent of "ZOO" from the puztitle. Too big a reach? Thought so.
OZS is in a great row of weird stuff, as someone already pointed out. NEROLI?!? Was there really a Nero the 51st?

fave fillins: HOVERSOVER. Dr. Claw's cat could maybe be called Hover Sover.

fave Ow de Speration: ECHT. CAR LOTTO coulda been a contender, if they hadn't gone with the name game, there. Maybe it was re-clued by the editor. I hear tell at xwordinfo.chen that ECHT was originally intended by the constructioneer to be ECHO. But was changed, becuz already had AMAZONECHO elsewhere.

In other interestin crossin news: ISLA/ISLES/ELISHA. Lost precious nanoseconds in my quest to be the world's fastest masked puzsolver. And it ain't easy, when U wear glasses. And accompany each solve with the cinnamon rolls. [Note respectful "the".]

Thanx, Mr. trUdeaU. U held M&A's interest, thru the entire zoofest. Good job. Yer name has almost as many U's as the whole SunPuz did, tho ...

Masked & Anonymo5Us
"Vowel Respect Sheriff""


Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Starbucks order giver: Ahab??? Huh???

Aphid Larue 1:49 PM  

Rules of grammar are also descriptions of how people behave rather than how they must behave.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Captain Ahab's first mate in Moby Dick is Starbuck.

Lewis 2:19 PM  

My power has been out all day; just came back on and have read the comments. All I have to add is that I thought the theme was refreshing, an appealing type of theme that doesn't come around too often. Thanks for finding it, Ross!

NonnyinMA 3:02 PM  

I agree completely. On the other hand, if someone else gets his jollies from streaking through the puzzle with stopwatch in hand, who am I to say that’s the wrong way to enjoy it?

Anonymous 3:35 PM  

I knew the word crepuscular solely thanks to Archer! Hurray for Babou the ocelot.

chefwen 3:50 PM  

There’s a great bar in the San Diego area called The Kraken. Fun times.

thefogman 3:59 PM  

103A and 86D sunk my battleship. I had ALbA and CARbOTTO. WOEISI!

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Eezy Peezy

ZenMonkey 5:08 PM  

Anyone who thinks ASL is "silent" has never been around deaf signers. That just made me laugh. I haven't yet seen a decent clue for it.

Definitely broke a speed record on this and I don't solve "with stopwatch in hand" ffs. Why are people so all-fired insecure when others are interested in their solve times? Get a grip.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Very clever puzzle. Lots of fun, especially for fans of J.K. Rowling and her expanding wizarding world. Thanks very much for this one, Mr. Trudeau.

jberg 6:21 PM  

ISLES crossing ISLA was the best thing about this puzzle (@M&A), which I enjoyed overall. I liked the HH in SCOTTISHHIGHLANDS, too.

My only real trouble was with the Rowling play title, which I did not know. For some reason I thought maybe TOTS was some variation of TOTeS, which sort of made sense for 61D, and made the third part of the title start with 'tHERETOFI'. I just couldn't see a way to parse that; I needed almost all the crosses. I finally got INN, and realized that I had known, but not been able to remember, NEROLI. And suddenly, WHERE TO FIND THEM was obvious.

I don't time, but i got about 85% of the puzzle done while taking the subway and trolley to meet my wife, my cousin, and my cousin's husband at a downtown hotel; then we went to see my step-grandson's quintet play a jazz brunch, so I just got back home to comment, probably too late for anyone to actually read it. (But what about you syndicated people? Do you come here weeks later and read what we all said? Never though about that before.)

Question at a wizards' convention. "Whose staff is that?" "OZ'S!"

NonnyinMA 6:33 PM  

Jeez, I was sticking up for you speed solvers, even though it’s not my thing. Sorry if you didn’t get that the “stopwatch in hand” thing was an exaggeration, but my point was—is—that we don’t have to hate others who take pleasure in aspects of the puzzle that leave us cold.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Agree with @Z and the discussion is tiring. If you like to speed solve, go ahead, have fun, and I hope you keep breaking your records. If you like to savor, go ahead, have fun, have a glass of scotch or a walk around the block or whatever between answers. If you like to go back and forth between those extremes, that's cool too. Do the puzzles however you like to and enjoy the good ones and scream about the less-than-good ones, but just remember, it's just a goddam crossword puzzle so just enjoy solving it however you like and have some damn fun!!!

Norm 7:48 PM  

@oldactor : That was my point, although maybe I was not as clear as I might have been. In my book, it's also THE Loch Ness Monster and THE Abominable Snowman, but those were noticeably absent. I mean, who is going to yell, "We just got a picture of Loch Ness Monster!" ? No one ever.

Odd Sock 8:15 PM  

LeBaron a classic?

Carola 10:28 PM  

@Ross Trudeau, in case you check in here - I really liked the puzzle. FANTASTIC idea, and so nicely carried out.

mmespeer 11:18 PM  

Does anyone on here do the KENKEN puzzle in the paper?? I can usually do the 5X5 grid but I am completely stumped today especially in the bottom 2 rows. Any help(answers) appreciated. I really think that the bottom 9+ should be an 8+. ?????????

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

I think the bottom two rows are 34152 and 15234

Joe Dipinto 12:42 AM  

@mmespeer 11:18 -- anon 11:41 has the bottom two rows correct.

Chim cham 2:53 AM  

Here here. When did any degree of competition (self-, or otherwise) become so taboo? The whole world is turning into Stuart Smalley.

mmespeer 9:57 AM  


@JoeDipinto and anon:11:41 Doh! Thank you, (Face plant)

yojk 12:05 PM  

" one but me is going to complain...." Whatever happened to nominative case in English grammar?

Loren Muse Smith 3:42 PM  

Hey, @yojk - get your facts straight before you go all high and mighty. In your example, "but" is a preposition, so "me" is the object of that preposition an hence is in the objective case.

Dice 4:26 PM  

Where is Nancy?

Unknown 9:19 AM  

Just finished reading J>K> Rowlings The Casual Vacancy, her first novel and enjoyed it. Having never read the Potter books or seen her movies, play, etc. I found this puzzle a challenge which is why I do it at my age. (88).
Carry on.

Burma Shave 12:13 PM  


turning THEKRAKEN into SUSHI.


spacecraft 12:39 PM  

Easy if you knew the Rowling work; I did not. More stuff I didn't know: the "California fault line" area. Barbie had a friend? And who was this Massimo dude? Argh! I took a flyer on CARLOTTO and guessed right.

Speaking of faults, that "It's not your fault" clue had me running the alphabet three times before thinking tennis. The "your" part really threw me off.

And speaking of OFF, what on Earth is ONEOFF? Never heard of that, nor of any of the -Stan capitals. So, easy? Uh, no. Got the top quickly enough, but that south took a lot of work--some of the guess- variety.

Dense theme, well done, and not that many owies in the fill, EKE notwithstanding. DOD is the HOT ERIKA Eleniak. Birdie.

rondo 2:02 PM  

Must I have ROADTAR rage again? ROADs have no TAR.

Finished this in about 3 Rexes ORSO. @spacey, I've always thought of a ONE-OFF as something custom-made, one-of-a-kind.

I've been to LOCHNESS in the SCOTTISHHIGHLANDS. No sign of the MONSTER.

"NEVER Say NEVER Again" was on recently. So-named because years earlier Sean Connery vowed to NEVER play James Bond again. Not considered to be an "authentic" Bond film in that whole continuum.

LANA and ERIKA are seen too often in puzzles. They may be HOT, but so is yeah baby ISLA Fisher.

Didn't know the revealer, but it wasn't that necessary.

leftcoastTAM 6:36 PM  

It's another Sunday slog, as is to be expected, but a gettable one in a reasonable span of time. Why I sometimes do them, I couldn't say for sure. Maybe because of free time on a dark, rainy Sunday afternoon.

After finishing, had to google "cryptid" to get a definition. Good word, but apparently not in vogue.

Making this worthwhile was that my wife and I solved it together.

Oh, made a mistake on the very first entry: rASpy instead of NASAL for "Like Bob Dylan's voice". Wouldn't raspy be a much better answer?

Hell, fuhgeddaboudit!

Diana, LIW 7:32 PM  

I finished yesterday's with help - too much crud in my hed to figure it our.

Got today's, but the best part was the ROADTAR, 'cause I knew @R would have a cow.

At leas it wasn't all Harry all the time.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, hoping for a better mood next week when this cold passes

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