Leading characters in "Mad Max" / SUN 2-10-19 / Start of Euripides signature / Sled dog with statue in Central Park / Source of deferment in 1960s draft / Ancient Greek state with Athens / 1984 Olympic gymnastics sensation

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Constructor: Lee Taylor

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (10:31)

THEME: "That's a Mouthful" — themers are phrases that (allegedly) are hard to say FIVE TIMES FAST (58D: Hard way to say the answers to the starred clues in this puzzle (good luck!))

Theme answers:
  • THREE FREE THROWS (22A: *Result of a foul on a long basketball shot)
  • REAL RARE WHALE (38A: *Albino orca, e.g.)
  • SHE SEES CHEESE (4D: *What a dairymaid does all day long)
  • SHOE SECTION (67A: *Part of a department store where people sit)
  • UNIQUE NEW YORK (93A: *Home of the world's only 14-lane suspension bridge) (?????????? what is this clue ????????)
  • IRISH WRISTWATCH (114A: *Timekeeper on the Emerald Isle)
Word of the Day: The BARNES Foundation (90A: Philadelphia art museum, with "the") —
The Barnes Foundation is an art collection and educational institution promoting the appreciation of art and horticulture. Originally in  Merion, the art collection moved in 2012 to a new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania. The arboretum of the Barnes Foundation remains in Merion, where it has been proposed to be maintained under a long-term educational affiliation agreement with Saint Joseph's University.
• • •

Great to see a female constructor (2019 update—M: 36, W: 5); too bad the theme is so disappointing. Aside from the fact that I can say all of these just fine five times, there's the fact that these are just lifted from tongue-twister lists, of which there are tons on the Internet. Constructor just has to find a bunch that line up symmetrically. This involves no real thought or creativity. You're arranging pre-existing phrases in a grid, not doing anything particularly clever or new or interesting. The wordplay is out of a can, is what I'm saying, so the whole thing is a non-starter for me. And it's bizarre that nonsense phrases like IRISH WRISTWATCH are clued as if they are just normal things. No "?" or nothin'. There are some real issues with fill as well, like BALTO x/w ILENE, yikes. And then just an over-reliance on crosswordese and partials and gunk. There's not a single answer outside the themers that has any kind of real interest or spark. "Frequent collaborator with Adam Sandler"? Since ... since when is that a thing? A crossworthy thing? Dear god. I mean, I didn't know BARNES either, but I am more than willing to conceded that the BARNES is a thing. HERLIHY, hoooooo no, not really. BES. COZ. OEN. ADAR. EMS. RES. ROHE. TAJ. There just wasn't anything here to get excited about.

Gah, I wish I had something to say about this. It's somewhat nice to see Mrs. MAISEL here, which is at least fresh, as crossword fill goes. I had no idea RUFOUS was a word (57A: Reddish). I had RUBOUS in there for a while, as rubies are red and rubicund means reddish and rubious maybe also means that, not sure ... yep, it does. RUFOUS is a name to me, though I guess that's RUFUS.

Had real trouble also with CHICHI and OWLISH and ATTICA, which I had never heard of as clued (15D: Ancient Greek state with Athens). I know the adjective "Attic," but ATTICA to me is a prison. A prison where there was an inmate uprising and a brutal police response. A prison whose name was famously chanted by Pacino.

[106A: Ham it up]

I should probably say that [Leading characters in "Mad Max"] = EMS because the letter "M" (i.e. "em") is "leading" both words in the title "Mad Max." I should probably say this because there are always a smattering of people befuddled by tricksy letter-oriented clues like this. I can hear them all now, collectively groaning. They are right to groan. Good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

P.S. OK I want to uncast whatever aspersions I seemed to cast on Tim HERLIHY above. I want to uncast them because this exchange on Twitter dot com made me do a literal spit-take*:

*note Tim MEADOWS is in fact a "frequent collaborator with Adam Sandler," and the name I was trying to come up with until crosses made it impossible
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 12:27 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 12:30 AM  

The only one of these that I was familiar with was UNIQUE NEW YORK, which I had honed over the years and can totally say fast five times. The others were all new to me. I don’t care one fig that Lee found these online; I’m delighted to have them gridified and served up for my consideration and whispered articulation attempts.

Toy boat, the one I was talking about the other day, is too short, but that’s flat dastardly to say five times. Impossible. Because I have the soul of a 13-yr-old boy, another other tongue twister I like is

One smart fellow, he felt smart
Two smart fellows, they felt smart
Three smart fellows, they all felt smart.

Fun cross-species deal with having a frog in your throat and sounding HOARSE. Hah - something’s fishy, so you smell a rat. The cat’s got your tongue, so you clam up.

RUFOUS was new to me, too. I’ve looked into it. Seems it’s a cousin of puce. Neither color is one a bride would choose as her “colors.” Color names matter, people. Hers was an arresting face: liquid brown eyes over a delicate nose and generous rufous lips.

“Picket line crosser” – just so’s you know, the schools in all 55 counties in WV have voted, and we’re poised to strike again. You heard it here first, folks.

“[Is] on the verge of collapse”

The bad habit I usually think about kicking for a New Year’s resolution is that I’m slow to respond to emails because I think, Ok – I wanna give this response some thought and effort, so I’ll table that ‘til I have a better chunk of time. There is no better chunk of time – there never is - so then I feel all guilty that I’m so slow. Ice bank myself.

Anoa Bob 12:36 AM  

Rubber baby buggy bumpers.

Jonathan Brown 1:02 AM  

Is cOz a thing? Cuz, sure, but with the comedian's nickname no longer palatable as a clue, are we doing this? Really?

Z 1:08 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said, so how about some music.

Thomas 2:30 AM  

Pretty easy and what Rex said but I Loved it. Largely because it reminded me of my dad, who passed away 15 years ago. He was a lifelong fan of tongue twisters. One of his favorites was “The sea ceaseth, and it sufficeth thus.”

puzzlehoarder 2:30 AM  

I know nothing of music and 6D could be IRENE for all I know. Luckily my kids were born in the 90s so I saw the animated movie about the sled dogs. That saved me from a possible double dnf. BALTO just looked familiar and it's certainly not from all the previous Sundays it's been used. I never used to do Sundays at all. A clean grid and all is well.

Robin 2:36 AM  

Doing the puzzle on-line, I've got in the habit of never looking at whatever title it's been given, which may or may not be a helpful hint to the themers.

Which is to say, I did this... thing... and all I could guess was that it was something to do with tongue twisters. Some them sorta made sense, but WTF, UNIQUENEWYORK?

Initially write in ITHACA for ATTICA, but realized my error moments later. My great-grandmother was from near the ATTICA in NY (not the one in Greece).

Theres some good stuff in this puzzle, but some crud too. If you just step back and back and look at the dark/light pattern of the puzzle, you can see it's chopped up by a lot go sort crud.

But being someone who lives in NYC and passes through Central Park regularly, I know what BALTO is about. And aside from from initially entering RUSSET, I know what RUFOUS is.

Biggest problem I had with finishing this is that I wanted to enter FUSS rather than FUTZ, but that conflicted with the T in ESTEEM. And that's because, yes, Rex, COZ is not a term I think most/any Amerkans normally use for their cousins.

Bill Jackson 2:47 AM  

Ha ha every puzzle by a mythical "female constructor" Rex has hated.

Solution: No more puzzles by chicks, man. -Rex

chefwen 2:53 AM  

I had a lot of fun with this, especially after I was done and tried to say them quickly five times, except for UNIQUE NEW YORK I failed miserably.

We played a game, way back when we were in college, called PASS OUT, you selected cards with tongue twisters and if you failed you had to take a slug of your beer. I was so good at it I never even got tipsy. Ah youth, fun times... But these were tough.

Had a few goofs like 42A SCootS before SCRAMS 42D EVEN up before EVENER and 35A avenue before STREET, been ages since I was in Washington.

Good one Lee Taylor, I enjoyed.

jae 3:48 AM  

Easy-medium seems right. Amusing, l8ked it.

jae 3:51 AM  

...there may have been a typo in my “liked it.”

frankbirthdaycake 4:42 AM  
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joebloggs 4:52 AM  

Futz is pretty weak...

fkdiver 5:12 AM  

About as much fun as being stuck in traffic on the GWB.

Anonymous 5:29 AM  

I believe “UNIQUE NEW YORK” is used as a vocal warm-up for actors and singers; it’s not quite as random as some of the others.

Lewis 6:54 AM  

Whew! This was the solving equivalent of a tongue twister for me. There were so many answers I didn't know, most "as clued", but I flat out never heard of BALTO, RUFOUS, COZ, BARNES, and four names. Add to that, I hadn't heard of these tongue twisters, so they were random word collections to me, impossible to guess. All this was balanced out by Tuesday-easy clues and answers scattered here and there, but the roadblocks made the solve feel like gridlock in several areas.

But solving puzzles is a faith-based endeavor, faith that persistence will yield success, and, like a superhero, I demolished one roadblock after another (but unlike with a superhero, it didn't feel easy) until I faced one empty square, the cross of BALTO and ILENE. Faith didn't help me here, it was a 50/50 guess between L and R -- do I go with my first or last initial? At that point, it didn't matter much to me, because just getting from point A (empty grid) to point B (full grid minus one) was a feel-mighty-good achievement.

Thus, the wrong guess didn't sully my post-workout sheen.

Ruth F 7:35 AM  

Any one who knows birds knows RUFOUS.

BarbieBarbie 7:42 AM  

RUFOUS is used in the names of several birds, like the RUFOUS-sided towhee. It’s like a robin’sbreast but more saturated.
I’d be interested in the official PPP count. Seemed a bit high.

Pam 7:44 AM  

Selasphorus rufous is the botanical name of the Rufous Hummingbird who has a reddish throat. Rufous is a Latin descriptor of many bird species and some flowers.

CDilly52 8:09 AM  

As another humanoid with the soul, and possibly tongue of an adolescent, how about this one:

I split a sheet, a sheet I split.
Upon a splitter sheet I sit.

My actor, daughter also reminded me late last night that she uses a long form of one of these as diction warmup:

I know you need unique New York.

Still doable but a little more difficult.

CDilly52 8:10 AM  

COZ vs cuz is a regionalism.

BigYaz8 8:15 AM  

History buff here, so no problem with Balto or Attica or Hermitage...or with rufous for red (William the Conqueror's son was William Rufus, because of his red hair, so I figured it was a variant).

Totally agree that the theme was uninspiring the fill, meh, and I have also never heard the phrase "unique New York."

John H 8:23 AM  

I don't believe that ANYONE can say all of these five time fast, especially "unique New York," let alone Rex.

Love being reminded of toy boat, and "the sea ceaseth..." memory is wonderful.

CDilly52 8:27 AM  

Other than the drek that comes with the choppy central grid style, and the fact that I had no idea about a couple of the modern entries, I enjoyed the fairly breezy solve. My daughter used to babysit for a family who’s son was named Bart and they called him Barto, so for a long while I had BArTO. Also no idea about ILENE, but figured it was either that or IrENE which I tossed in first despite the fact that my niece’s middle name is ILENE, but I think of that as a very alternate spelling since the women I know with that name spell it “Eileen.” Crosses took care of me.

The theme reminded me of my daughter. During her high school and college acting training, she constantly came home with some of these very same tongue twisters. These are a snap compared to the minutes-long ones that got ever more demonic as her training intensified. For that reason, the solve was nostalgic, and I rather enjoyed trying to recall some of these.

TomAz 8:33 AM  

I mostly agree with Rex on this one. I got Naticked at BALTO/ILENE. An 'R' seemed just as plausible. The rest of the fill, mostly dull. Though put me in the camp that doesn't give a whit that the themers may have been found on a list on the internet.

@LMS, best wishes/good luck/bon voyage/have a good fast/whatever one says to a schoolteacher about to go on strike. Give 'em hell!

@Jonathan Brown -- yeah the COZ/CuZ thing bugged me too. Doesn't seem right as constructed.

@BarbieBarbie -- I agree, PPP seemed very high, and nary a ballplayer to be found among them.

FrankStein 8:33 AM  

Never heard of the Barnes Foundation? The legal battles over whether to move the collection or not went on for ages. I guess you get your news from Twitter.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Shoe section? And I’m a shoe lover?
Just a boring puzzle....

Hungry Mother 8:37 AM  

Naticked on ILENE/BALTO. I spent far too much time looking for my error before turning on the red letters.

poslfit 8:42 AM  

The sled dog appeared in an old Scrooge McDuck comic under the name BARKO. Not confusing at all.

I'm a Scrabble player, not a serious crossword puzzle solver. While I diligently do the NYTXW every day out of habit, on a Sunday I'm always left with the same feeling: that of having experienced 5 minutes of fun spread out over 15 minutes of tedium. This week was no exception.

SUP 8:42 AM  

What's with all the UPS? Clues (2) and answers (4.)

Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

Can't believe dog lover Rex doesn't know the heroism of BALTO. A true underdog becoming lead dog story, and saving a bunch of kids to boot. Lassie go home.

Coolest dog ever - BALTO was memorialized in a 1995 movie and 2011 TV documentary.

Lobster11 9:02 AM  

For those of you who, like me, know the word RUFOUS from the bird world: It turns out that the "rufous-sided towhee" is no longer a thing -- and evidently hasn't been for many years. What was once regarded as a single species is now recognized as two distinct species: the Eastern towhee and the spotted (western) towhee. Who knew?

Charles Wesley 9:12 AM  

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem."
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King!

QuasiMojo 9:15 AM  

Balto is my favorite statue in Central Park. Loved the puzzle. I’m still laughing after having tried these themes out. The orca one made me sound like Barbara Walters. Brava!

OxfordBleu 9:27 AM  

Can’t help but agree with @Bill Jackson’s comment. Rex, you simultaneously applaud the inclusion of more female constructors while panning their constructing ability, which comes off as borderline misogynistic. If the goal is to encourage more new constructors then as an educator you should perhaps err on the side of a more constructive critique, rather than “no real thought...”.

Teedmn 9:30 AM  

The only one of these not unique for me is UNIQUE NEW YORK (How do you catch an extraordinary rabbit? UNIQUE up on it! Worse than Dad jokes are 6-year-old's jokes.) I liked trying to guess what they'd turn out to be (tried to fit in "rare white WHALE" for 38A when I had few crosses in place).

A lot of names - @r.alphbunker's solving program shows your entries in the order they went in and the last 15 or so contain a lot of names I didn't know: ROHE (kinda knew), BARNES, MCEWAN, GINA, ILENE, HERLIHY, DADA as clued. Seems like a lot.

But I loved RUFOUS, MAUVE, YEASTY, HOARSE, NIACIN, and how LOOTER was clued for 84A.

Great 2nd Sunday puzzle, Lee Taylor.

Rube 9:35 AM  

This was a Tuesday level puzzle with no pizzazz. A total waste. Coz? The clue doesn't mention that it's a reunion of Lisa bonet and phylicia rashad and Malcolm Jamal Warner. Futz? Not a real word ...at best a slang modifier in the clue is needed. Just too easy.

Hartley70 9:38 AM  

I can’t be bothered to say tongue twisters even once. I lost interest in them sometime in elementary school. I like knock knock jokes better and that’s not saying much. As a result I’d never encountered any of these themers and certainly still have never “heard” them. The puzzle played more like a themeless for me which didn’t annoy me in the least.

I liked learning there was a Unique, NY. I’ve taken the Staten Island ferry for the view several times but never gotten off the boat. I didn’t think there was a good reason to disembark. Is there? I’ve never been on the bridge. Bigger does not make better. Covered bridges are lovely. The Mt. Hope is my favorite because it was the gateway to summer fun at the Newport beaches in my youth and a good view. I had a girlfriend who couldn’t drive over it, so I had to get in the driver’s seat to make the crossing. I don’t get bridge heebee jeebees.

The puzzle was a very fast Sunday for me. Since the twisters didn’t tickle my funny bone, I’m going to have to think of a knock knock joke. Just kidding.

Suzie Q 9:39 AM  

As a dog lover and bird watcher I did not have a problem with Balto and rufous. The PPP mash-up in the NE was my only stutter.
Sundays always give me a pain because the numbers are so darn small!

Paul Rippey 9:58 AM  

Rufous hummingbirds come to the feeder outside our kitchen window so I know that word, but the association that first comes to my mind is Rufus Wainwright the singer, whom I love not only because he’s so good, but because he is part of the McGarrigle family of singers, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle blew me away, they were transcendently wonderful. Then, for some reason that I don’t understand, the first video in Rex’s post opens with a reference to “Poor Old Johnny Ray”, a great singer of the fifties - gay, like Rufus - that my big sister swooned over, whose intense and personal singing style reminds me of Rufus Wainwright. None of this means anything and I otherwise lost interest in the puzzle and just revealed the last few words cause I felt like I was wasting my time guessing at proper names.

Art lover 10:03 AM  

The Barnes is awesome. Best collection of Impressionist paintings on this side of the Atlantic.

Outside The Box 10:10 AM  

Rufous is often part of the name of a bird (relating to its reddish-orange color) like the Rufous Hummingbird.

TJS 10:12 AM  

Never was so happy to get the halfway and three quarter notices while doing this mess. Couldn't even be bothered to guess balto or Ilene/Irene. Coz had me too disgusted to go on. Everyone all worked up about the lack of female constructors, I hope your happy.

TJS 10:15 AM  

Hey, just noticed @LMS 3 word message. That's how I felt about this puzzle.

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

If it's not "She sell seashells yada yada yada" or Peter's pecker, then I've never heard of it.
Glad I got that off my chest.
Hi @Mohair. I actually thought that PARVO might be the name of that heroic dog. Then I thought no one should name a dog after a disease that kills them and then I thought maybe that's what killed him, so let's name him for the disease. TMI?
I didn't mind this puzzle. I actually have never used the Natick conundrum, but today left me with a DNF because of PARVO/IRENE and HERLIHO/KENNO. Strange names, no? That's ok because I got the rest. I say FUTZ a lot but never sure how to spell it. Is this Yiddish? Love me some Yiddish. I only know RUFOUS because of two darling hummingbirds that come to visit me often. Chutzpah and Bossy Boots. I looked up the different colors they have because we have lots of red and blue bellies.
Learned something new: UNIQUE NEW YORK which is new to me. Should I know that? I lived in NYC back in the late/early 70's/80's. Was that around then?
Liked San SIMEON crossing TAOS pueblo. Know them both and their worth a look/see.
@Hartley....I can't resist:
Knock knock
Who's there?
A little old lady.
A little old lady who?
Dang! All this time, I had no idea you could yodel.
Are you sure you prefer knock knock jokes over tongue twisters?

Dragoncat 10:29 AM  

Laughing because Rex explains “ems”, I groan, and he says he can hear me groaning. I enjoyed the puzz but have some issues “shoe section”: why is that a tongue twister? My biggest issue was trying to make the dairymaid care for sheep instead of cheese....lol

Dan Steele 10:43 AM  

Completely agree. Rolled my eyes at OFL’s ridiculous claim.

retired guy 10:43 AM  

The clue for 15D "Ancient Greek state with Athens" is so atrocious one hardly knows how to begin untangling the ignorance it embodies..... the "state" in the sense of the political entity (actually a city-state or polis) was Athens... As a political entity, it encompassed not only the city (in the sense of urban area) of Athens and the adjacent port of Peiraeus, but also the surrounding rural territory, which was known as Attica. Apparently, the NYT believes ancient Greece was divided into "states" similar to the states of the US. One of them was, again according to the NYT, called Attica, and perhaps NYT believes that Athens was the capital city of Attica.

Its also unique in New Jersy 10:44 AM  

The George Washington Bridge carries 14 lanes of traffic, seven in each direction.

Mr. Benson 10:45 AM  

I understood the EMS thing because I've seen it enough in crosswords (though even then, the clue was tricky), but I still reject it as a concept. They're not EMS, they're Ms. I reject it when they use "ess" t represent S, or "see" to represent C, etc. Eff that whole idea.

mmorgan 10:46 AM  

Got semi-Naticked on BA_TO/I_RENE but somehow correctly guessed right with an L. Yay! Also assumed RUFOUS had to be wrong. And I couldn't imagine that UNIQUE could be correct but I was 1000% sure of the crosses.

I almost kinda agree with Rex's criticisms, but I still had a reasonably pleasant time with this.

Oh, and the BARNES is an awesome place!

Malsdemare 10:47 AM  

The puzzle was fine. It didn't light me on fire, but it provided a lovely diversion for a while this cold and nasty day. We're due to get ice and snow for the next three days. Ah, winter.

BALTO was the lead dog for the final relay of mushers taking diptheria serum from Anchorage to Nome in the 1930s. The whole story is remarkable; the Iditerod is run each year in celebration of that wondrous, life-saving feat of daring. 20 mushers, over 150 dogs racing to save a remote town. Cool beans!

The BARNES is, as art lover says, amazing. And the controversy over its move from a little community in NW Philly where it was SUPPOSED TO STAY, per the collector's will, to downtown Philadelphia should make everyone with what we think is an ironclad will shudder.

@LMS, go get 'em, girl! Stay safe.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Aren't theme answers still supposed to be real answers to the clue and not just valid answers in the context of the theme?

SHE SEES CHEESE and REAL RARE WHALE fit with their clues, though they are a bit like GREEN PAINT, in that almost no one would ever say such a thing. SHOE SECTION, IRISH WRIST WATCH and especially THREE FREE THROWS are genuine answers to the clues.

But UNIQUE NEW YORK? Huh? I kept thinking PORT OF NEW YORK or UPPER NEW YORK or something like that. UNIQUE NEW YORK is even worse than GREEN PAINT. Of course New York is unique; so is every other city in one way or another. It has absolutely no excuse for existing as a phrase other than being a tongue twister.

ArtO 10:57 AM  

Lots of really valid criticism (naticks all over the place) but ATTICA should be credited as more than an upstate NY prison. UNIQUENEWYORK. Good grief! It's the George Washington bridge for goodness sake! How you get that as a legitimate answer is beyond me.

Molasses 10:58 AM  

I was proud of figuring out THREEFREETHROWS all by myself. Learning sports terms through the crossword.

But I was completely flummoxed by UNIQUENEWYORK, which I ended up Googling - I allow myself some slack for East Coast trivia, and assumed it was a place I'd never been. My personal rule is not to look at the crossword solution sites, but that's where I ended up last night. Apparently there's a boutique in (on?) Staten Island called Unique NY. I wonder if they'll have an uptick in business now.

BALTO/ILENE kept me from getting the happy music till I came here to see the solution. I blame the Simpsons for making Barto sound right in my ear.

Carola 11:08 AM  

Okay, here's one for you:
Eight crates of great gray geese greet Greece.

Laughs of the day: @Loren's cross-species treats and @QuasiMojo's Barbara Walters - too funny!

I liked the post-solve "aha" - while writing in the theme phrases, I thought, "Really? These are a mouthful?" Then I did what the reveal suggested, and yeah, they are. The only one that trips efforlessly off my tongue is SHE SEES CHEESE, fittingly enough (Dairylander here). What I'm really left puzzling over, though, is how I knew BALTO, having never seen the statue; after reading @Mohair Sam, I see that I need to find out more.

pabloinnh 11:17 AM  

Balto: The Story of a Dog, or some such other generic title was on my school's library shelves and though I never checked it out, I did find out who Balto was. No problem. Everything else just OK and one of those how-fast-can-you-fill-it-in days. Pleasant enough, constructor gender really doesn't concern me.

He @CDilly52-The slightly more demonic version I heard was

I slit a sheet
A sheet I slit
And on the slitted sheet I sit.

Fun times in Jr. Hi.

Go get 'em, LMS. Best of luck in Round Two. (It's only two, right?)

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

The GWB has eight lanes on the top level and six on the bottom. It does not have seven lanes in each direction unless you count both tiers.

Unknown 11:26 AM  

you’ve never heard of the barnes? really? really?

Tom 11:28 AM  

Best tongue twister is “Big black bugs bleed big black blood.”

RooMonster 11:29 AM  

Hey All !
Thinking of changing my nickname to RUFOUS.
Interesting puz. After reading @Anon 10:50, UNIQUE NEW YORK finally clicked in the ole brain as NEW YORK being UNIQUE, and not an actual City. It takes A BIT for the wheels to turn! Had to OWNS UP about that. Maybe it'll help with some still not grasping that answer.

Went to Natick twice today. The one that tripped up alot of y'all, BArTO/IrENE, and COs/FUTs. Potential one at the B of BOSCH/BARNES. As one who admits to not being "culturally enriched" on arts or books, or plays, and other such things, the B was a guess.
I thought light on the dreck. Every puz has it. This one wasn't too bad with all the themers. Fun clue for LOOTERS.

How long does a New Years Resolution last to give up BAD HABITS? Maybe Jan. 2, after you've recovered from your hangover and decide to reward yourself with a said BAD HABIT.


BenM 11:46 AM  

UNIQUENEWYORK is just so so so bad I can't get over it. I solved last night and was very disappointed to find no one had properly complained about it yet (why Rex didn't is beyond me, I think he must have assumed there is a town called Unique?). Then today I was relieved to see several people have complained but it's still not enough for me hence this rant. If you're wondering what the explanation is, there isn't one. The only thing it means is 14 lane suspension bridges are "unique" *TO* New York. It's exactly like saying: home of the world's only half mile high building: UNIQUEDUBAI 🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️🤦🏻‍♂️ And yes don't worry I'm aware it's a tongue twister. That's very much beside the point!

Hartley70 11:51 AM  

Gill.I, Yup, I’m sure. Thanks for the offering. The Swiss relatives will appreciate the effort it takes to send it.

Banana Diaquiri 11:54 AM  

the wiki has an extensive article on the GW bridge. kind of interesting. wasn't constructed as such in the beginning.

JC66 11:55 AM  


And, as pointed out above, the bridge referred to isn't UNIQUE to NEW YORK, It's the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York and New Jersey.


Go get em. We're rooting for you.

Kiki 12:00 PM  

I only knew COZ because I write Regency-era novels in which Byronesque dandies bandy that word about at White's. I have *never* heard of Unique New York and wouldn't have gotten that in a million years! But I'm so excited a woman created this puzzle, and I think it was tons of fun. Brava!!!!

Crimson Devil 12:16 PM  

Great dog story BALTO, which I’d never heard, ‘tho lived in NYC for couple years in school. Never saw statue. Also never heard of UNIQUE.
Re dogs: Westminster show starts tomorrow eve.
Re-learned RUFOUS, knew at one time re birds.
Enjoyed poz (I’m a cuz guy, too).
Ya reckon Le Grand Orange will declare WVa/LMS strike also national emergency and demand wall there, too?

JC66 12:18 PM  

@Banana D

FWI, before it became un-PC, locals referred to the new (lower) level as the Martha Washington.

jberg 12:18 PM  

DNF, I fell for the BArTO/IrENE thing, and stuck with it. But BALTO is a NYC statue, and it's the NYT, so fair enough. I saw a play about the BARNES Collection once, and saw many RUFOUS-sided towhees before they got split, so those were fine.

hey, give @Rex a break! When he wants more female constructors, people complain that that would lower the quality; then when he criticizes the quality of a woman-constructed puzzle they say he should go easy on her.

I put it in, but OEN as a prefix bothered me. I've never seen those three letters all by themselves to mean wine -- always OENo, isn't it?

UNIQUE NEW YORK though. I don't buy the boutique on Staten Island -- that's not the "home" of the bridge. It's a fine tongue-twister, but badly clued. Also SHE SEES CHEESE --- dairymaids milk cows, and the milk may be used for cheese, but the people who make the cheese are "cheesemakers," like in "the Life of Brian."

JJ 12:22 PM  

There's a very interesting documentary called THE ART OF THE STEAL about how Mr Barnes had his amazing art collection moved out of his home in the suburbs, into Philadelphia, in violation of his will. He apparently hated the Philly art crowd. They still figured out a way to move his collection out of the house and into downtown Philly, where they've recreated much of the home's interior. It's actually a great place to visit, but it's disturbing how it got there

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

We almost got through a review without lefty vitriol but no, we get a dig at prison guards quelling a riot. I fear for the impressionable college kids with minds like Rex in front of the class.

RooMonster 12:31 PM  

Speaking of Monty Python and CHEESE, The Cheese Shop sketch.
Apologies if the ending offends.


chris b 12:39 PM  

@Z - I had no idea Guster was still around. They sound WAY different from when they were last on my radar (circa 2004)

sixtyni yogini 12:40 PM  

Thought for sure Rex and regulars here were going to call this one too easy.
Fun to get the theme answers and to to say them 5 times fast! 💥😎💥

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

They had to add a lane so Gov Christie could cross it.

RooMonster 12:43 PM  

Ok... let's try it once more, and if this doesn't work, well, that's that.
The Cheese Shop


Barry Frain 12:47 PM  

A dreary slog, even more dreary than most Sundays which are routinely wretched. And don’t get me started on Rex’s tendentious and pretentious review.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Mike C 12:47 PM  

Let's not FUTZ--
Rex is a putz.

Birchbark 12:55 PM  

OWLISHous puzzle. Glad @Rex can say the tongue-twisters so easily. Some I couldn't say twice and found the whole thing funny.

Unlike my sister, I have yet to see a RUFOUS-sided towhee. We get our share of grosbeaks, so hopefully it's a matter of time.

Basket Case 1:06 PM  

Kind of a sloppy puzzle, like yesterday. Many bad entries have already been cited. Another is 22A, "Result of a foul on a long basketball shot". The answer is true only if the long shot is missed. Only one free throw is awarded if the shot is made.

BTW-I hate the 3 point shot. It ruined college basketball, don't care about NBA.

Suzie 1:12 PM  

Unique New York is the only one of the tongue twisters I've heard before. I'm surprised to see so many people haven't. "Unique New York, unique New York. How I love unique New York" is a really popular vocal warmup. I got that one as soon as I understood the theme. I'm also surprised to see so many people unaware of Balto, but I feel like there were a lot of children's books and such about him when I was a kid, so maybe it's a generational thing. (Also, I've seen that statue a hundred times. Probably helps!)

I wasn't crazy about this puzzle in general. REAL RARE WHALE drove me nuts for a long time. I kept wanting to put "white" in there.

I got Mies van der ROHE and KENNY Chesney pretty quickly, but HERLIHY threw me for a while. I don't know who he is. FUTZ was pleasant enough filler for me, because I say it a lot, but EMS was nearly the last thing I got and it didn't click until right before this page loaded. (RES was the actual last thing I got, when I finally twigged to DAISES. I have a cold. I'm blaming that.)

Banana Diaquiri 1:36 PM  

@Basket Case:

IIRC, either Cousy or Heinsohn has said that the 3-point area should be between the basket and the line a couple of feet out. the point being to reward playing to the basket. today's hoop is boring compared to what it was before. thanks ABA.

Unknown 1:38 PM  

You didn't know "rufous"...really?

David 1:49 PM  

So would you rather have more puzzles like this, but created by women, or better puzzles overall created by whomever? This is what you get when you focus on quotas over quality.

Tom R 2:18 PM  

I really have to agree with BenM. 93 across is awful. Is that supposed to be the Brooklyn Bridge? I, too, looked to see if there was a city or suburb in New York named "Unique" because otherwise this clue should be taken out behind the garage and shot. And BTW, its not even a difficult tongue twister. Gah!

Banana Diaquiri 2:24 PM  


or what you get with nepotism.
or what you get with legacies.
or what you get with bribes.

and so on.

an econ professor of mine years ago offered the following conundrum:
if you start a race between two identical runners, except one has to carry a 50lb. pack. then, halfway (or whatever) through the pack is removed. now, is it now a fair race? does the runner now without the handicap still have much chance to win? and so on.

the guys who make lousy puzzles, of which Rex finds to be legion, still got the chance to get puzzles printed. one might wonder how that happened? bias? corruption? stupid editors? and so on.

Adam 2:35 PM  

I got BALTO because I live in NYC and love that statue. But UNIQUE NEW YORK? WTF? I had to look it up - the George Washington Bridge has 14 lanes (8 on the upper deck, 6 on the lower deck), but when you describe something as an "x-lane [thing]", it's generally understood as that many lanes across. A 12-lane highway has 6 lanes in each direction (or maybe a couple flex lanes). And WTF is UNIQUE NEW YORK in that answer? Why is it Unique? Why New York? I agree with @Rex - a slog to do, I got FIVE TIMES FAST before half of the themers, and it was just kind of a slog. Meh.

Masked and Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Actually, M&A has trouble sayin almost anything five times fast. I could solve this here SunPuz much faster, after the first time, tho. By then, I'd know about BALTO, ILENE, RUFOUS, MAISEL, UNIQUENEWYORK, HERLIHY, and FUTZ. [The Seven Deadly Nanosecond Eaters]

staff weeject pick: OEN. Better clue: {Partway open??}.

Thanx for the tongue and mind twistin, Lee Taylor darlin. Did U know there is a songbird called the rufous bristlebird? I learn so much semi-valuable stuff, from the puzs.

Masked & Anonymo10Us

p.s. All the best to W.V. teachers.


sanfranman59 3:46 PM  

Medium-Challenging NYT Sunday (24:21, 2.31 Rexes) ... this one wasn't really up my alley. I'm aware of "The L Word" and the name Chaiken, but I wasn't sure of the first name (6D: ILENE). And I think I've come across BALTO (19A) before, but that L could just as easily been an R since I wasn't sure if it was ILENE or IrENE. So that was mostly a Natick. I had no idea on Adam Sandler's collaborator (14D: Tim HERLIHY) or "The Marvelous Mrs. MAISEL" (16D) and wasn't completely sure of ATTICA (15D), making the NE pretty tough. I'm glad I knew HERMITAGE (79A) because GINA (81D) could have just as easily been tINA or something else to me. I might have to make a stop at TAOS (87A) Pueblo on my cross-country road trip retirement celebration this year. But I wasn't really aware of its existence until now. I'm glad that FUTZ (66D) was a word my mother used, cuz COZ (83A?) would have been a little pain in the side otherwise (I spell that CuZ). RUFOUS (57A)??? Like Rex, I thought that might be RUbOUS. BARNES (90D) and MCEWAN (98A) in the same area was a definite speed bump. There wasn't such a thing as a TAJ (47D) Boston when I lived there in the late 80s. It was the Ritz-Carlton at that time and I used to occasionally pop into the bar there for happy hour.

(Sanfranman59 posting as anon ... for some reason, I can't sign in to my Blogger account ... it seems to be confusing my personal Google login with one I use at work and I can't figure out how to get it to recognize my personal login. Argh! If anyone has experience with this type of thing, please feel free to offer tips.)

Z 4:25 PM  

@sanfranman59 - Try going to google.com, and in the upper right corner see if you are signed in to your work account. Sign out and then sign in again with your personal account.

@chris b - Well, age and parenthood changes a person. Still, they've made some good music since 2004.

Holding a constructor to a lower standard because of their gender, ethnic identity, or whatever is just another form of prejudice. Saying that a group deserves access does not mean that we should accept lower quality work (TBF - this puzzle seems pretty standard for what passes for Sunday NYTX). Second, saying that women should be actively recruited in no way suggests that quality needs to be sacrificed. To suggest that women will make inferior crosswords is pretty much a textbook example of sexism. Michaels, Lempel, Weintraub, Lucido, and the late Bernice Gordan immediately come to mind as women who consistently make great puzzles. The style and cluing might be a little challenging for the bros, but I suggest everyone who hasn't already subscribe to Inkubator Crosswords.

Nancy 4:53 PM  

The only interesting thing about this puzzle is that the tongue twisters really do twist the tongue. I tried out each of them -- all of them new to me -- and couldn't say any of them fast even twice. Could it be the second glass of wine?

Other than that, pretty dull. Don't know why I bothered to finish it, but I did.

Nancy 5:03 PM  

Little old lady who? Oh, @GILL, I love it!!!

@Quasi -- I bet I'd sound like Barbara Walters, too, if I could say it. But I can't say it.

sanfranman59 5:04 PM  

OT ... @Z ... thanks for the response ... that didn't work. I finally ran CCleaner and cleared my browser cookies and temporary files. I think that might have done it. This isn't the first time that having multiple Google accounts has led to this type of confusion. Now, I'll probably have trouble logging back into my work account. Ugh. Someone's gotta develop an easier way to manage all of the User IDs and passwords I need to keep track of in my life.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

I have to admit, I was mildly ashamed at being able to immediately fill in the Hebrew month (is there a good word for "knowledge shame"?). Also, this might be the weakest Times Sunday theme in a while. A bunch of tongue twisters, the end. Not too exciting. Hopefully next week's is more interesting.

JC66 5:54 PM  


you may want to try LastPass.

Ho 6:32 PM  

It was fun to first get the f and then the u and think... it couldnt be...

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

Around fifty years ago I knew a family with an Irish setter named "Rufous", a name which aptly described the unsaturated red color of his coat. And nobody was surprised or puzzled by this name, because everybody knew what this meant. And when he barked, he would say "roof! roof!".

Nancy 7:13 PM  

@SFman (5:04)-- A low-tech answer to one of your high tech problems: I came in late to your tech woes, am sure I wouldn't understand a word of them if I went over them with a fine tooth comb, but when you write about keeping track of your passwords and ID's -- that I can do. Forget all your screens. All of them! Get an analog physical address book devoted just to your computer life. Write everything down in that book at the moment you input it online. So let's say you have an ID and a password for Amazon. Under the "A" section in your book:

ID # ---------
Password: ---------

For Gmail? It goes in the "G" section. Yahoo mail in the "Y" section. No thinking required. No memory required. (And you do remember what an abysmal memory I have!) Your computer goes down? Your IPhone needs charging? Doesn't matter -- your handy-dandy address book is always operational. Just make sure you remember where you put it :)

Anyone else want to use this low-tech solution? My treat. You're welcome.

Crimson Devil 8:10 PM  

Passwords, passcodes just a sure-fire way of insuring I’ll never see that material again.

Charles 10:00 PM  

I've only been doing crosswords for about a year to a year and a half. I didn't know MAUVE or RUFOUS. Oh well, gotta store it in the ol' memory bank for future puzzles.

MGTopAgent 10:39 PM  

I find it really hard to believe someone with so much knowledge never heard of the Barnes. Arguably the best collection of French Impressionist Art anywhere and worth 25 billion dollars. You need to get out more Rex! Come to Philly and see it!!And, has others have noted, there was a huge legal hassle moving it to the Parkway in downtown Philadelphia. Previously it was in Dr. Barnes' home in the affluent western burb of Lower Merion. The neighbors complained bitterly about the traffic going to the museum and they complained more when the will was broken and the collection was moved to downtown Philly.

a.corn 11:59 PM  

UNIQUENEWYORK was the first themer to fall for me, so I assumed all of them were going to be vocal warm ups (my first love was an actress, and used to run through them; blocks of lox, boxes of bagels. To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock... and others). So when I scanned the grid looking for more, j just came across nonsense phrases which I then read in a Ron Burgendy voice. That really threw me, and the rest of the puzzle had will Farrell performing my inner monologue.

PatKS 3:36 AM  

The only themer I EVER heard of was Unique New York, maybe because I live in NYC. I also knew Balto. Yet I too tried to imagine a 14 lane bridge and never thought of the GW or that the lanes would be divided.

I also never heard Rufus or heard of Tim Herlihy.

The puzzle was OK though and I only go stuck at Futz/ Coz. It's CUZ, period.

When saying things 5x fast I learned a trick to see the words from left to right separately. Still this bunch was very hard.

I visited the Barnes museum when the Dali collection was at the PMA many years ago. Not a fan of the city but I love art.

Glad and surprised to see Free Tibet. I love everything Tibet and follow Free Tibet accounts on Twitter. One of my favorite books is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. There is also a great little Tibetan museum in Staten Island believe it or not. It has a nice collection and a stunning NYC view.

Have a great week everybody. Hope your V-day is sweet!

ChE Dave 9:16 PM  

Didn’t have time yesterday, but knocked it off in no time today. Lots of ugly fill.

Since people are posting tongue twisters, here’s one I can barely say slowly:

The sixth sick sheik’s sheep’s sick.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

"Rufous" is often used to describe a reddish color in birds...

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

My son's favorite from theater classes was "What time does the wrist watch strap shop shut?"

Ellicott 8:59 AM  

Mr. Parker -- As much as I am in awe of your ability to solve crossword puzzles, I am awed by your narrow, mean, sarcastic and sometimes angry approach to these crossword puzzles. It's depressing to read your analyses -- and in a world that's already seemingly spinning out of control, I don't need a crossword puzzle analyst to bring me down further. I hope you can find some joy in life, because you appear to be just another grump.

Slash 11:02 AM  

From the GBOWR: The sixth sheik's sixth sheep's sick.

spacecraft 12:15 PM  

DNF. The entire SW corner! What in the WORLD is 93 across?? Even OFL stacks up ???s on that one. Is there a town in NY called UNIQUE? If so, how could it be so widely traveled and yet so utterly unknown?? I have absolutely no idea about this, and every entry except ENTRY in that corner was obtuse enough to be ungettable. Had to guess at two naticks along the way, too. Oh well, on to tomorrow.

On the subject of twongue tisters, my dad taught me this one, still my favorite:

A skunk sat on a stump. The skunk thunk that the stump stunk, and the stump thunk that the skunk stunk.

Burma Shave 1:59 PM  


On the STREET pick UPDATEs,


rondo 2:33 PM  

HELPUP OWNSUP PINUPS UPDATE, OVERACT ANACT; I don't really mind these things, but isn't there supposed to be some rule/guideline against that stuff? If you're at a sticky point and you get dupes, well, not helpful. Saved that I_ENE/BA_TO cross for last; went with the L (instead of R) because of the clue, it's an L word.

Appropriate use of TAR for an inappropriate use of TAR.

Around here it's CuZ. Just 'CuZ.

Nobody pointed out that it's only THREEFREETHROWS if the shot is missed; only one FREETTHROW if the shot is made. Incomplete clue.

GINA (not CHICHI) Rodriguez. Yeah baby. Ask Les Nessman.

Not my favorite, but I could say that about most Sunday puzzles

rainforest 2:45 PM  

Okay, I really want to know. Is there an actual place called UNIQUE, NEW YORK, or is this some cloven-hoofed clue we're dealing with? Kind of a reverse Nadick. I got the down answers from the word, rather than vice-versa.

Other than that, the only place that was tough for me was the section where FUTZ resides. Must look up all the usages of that word. Anyway, it gave me COZ(?), which gave me SPEC.

I have full lips and a large, flaccid tongue, and so the tongue-twisters really were. So there's that. Different idea with a direction-giving revealer. As a famous commenter has previously said, "different is good".

Diana, LIW 8:35 PM  

It's been a long, long time since I had a headache, much less one like a VISE. That thought is enough to give one a headachy feeling. Which this puzzle would do, if you took it at all seriously. I. Did. Not. Cheat checked several answers that I simply couldn't believe were correct - eek, they were.

No, Virginia, Delaware, and Canada, there is no UNIQUE NEW YORK.
they are just a bunch of tongue twisters. Like putting one's tongue in VISE, eh?

Happy Day Before President's Day. Maybe we'll find a new one in a basket on our doorsteps.

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 8:44 PM  

PS - @Rex's knowledge notwithstanding, the BARNES is a fabulous museum in Philly. It was supposed to be housed FOREVER in the owner's house in Merion, PA - where he placed each piece of art personally for its effect with the surroundings. HUGE to-do when it was moved to the "art museum area" on the Parkway. A more easily found spot, but not what the owner put in his will.

Could be one of the largest collections of impressionist art in the world. Certainly one of the best. And certainly the largest one of African American art in its time. Barnes was an industrialist (he made allergy medicines) who created the museum for his workers to enjoy and learn from. That's why it is called The Barnes Foundation, not museum. I have friends who refuse to go to the new location. I've only seen the old one...

Diana, LIW

kitshef 1:34 PM  

I will second Diana, LIW's comments on The BARNES Foundation (which I have never heard without the "foundation" at the end). Had wanted to get there for years and when we finally did, it was worth it.

The puzzle - well, that was sort of magnificent in its awfulness.

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