People of south-central Mexico / SUN 2-3-19 / Organization of Afro-American Unity founder / 1960s group with fabric-related name / Writer/critic Madison III / Stew that's decidedly not very spicy / Metric in digital journalism / Meursault's love in Camus's Stranger / Belief in one's role as savior / Seeming opposite of ignorance is bliss

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging (11:58)

THEME: "Ejection Letters" — sports stars (their names) are "ejected" from various phrases, creating gibberish phrases; also, reasons for being ejected from various sports are included in this grid, for no clear reason:

Theme answers:
  • BEANBALL [LOL] (21A: Reason for an ejection in the M.L.B.)
  • FLAGRANT FOUL (22A: Reason for an ejection in the N.B.A.)
  • ILLEGAL SLIDE TACKLE (33A: Reason for an ejection in FIFA)
  • HELMET HIT (58A: Reason for an ejection in the N.F.L.)
  • MESSI (86D: FIFA star ejected from 65-Across)
  • RUTH (64A: M.L.B. star ejected from 87-Across)
  • RICE (28A: N.F.L. star ejected from 102-Across)
  • ONEAL (48A: N.B.A. star ejected from 105-Across)
  • AH COMPLEX (65A: Belief in one's role as a savior) (from "messiah complex")
  • THE T WILL SET YOU FREE (87A: Seeming opposite of "Ignorance is bliss") (from "the truth will set you free"
  • P OF ADMISSION (102A: Entry fee) (from "price of admission")
  • ARM CHILI (105A: Stew that's decidedly not very spicy) (from "one-alarm chili," what the hell, who calls their chili that?
Word of the Day: OTOMI (93D: People of south-central Mexico) —
The Otomi (/ˌtəˈm/SpanishOtomí [otoˈmi]) are an indigenous people of Mexico inhabiting the central Mexican Plateau (Altiplano) region. [...] One of the early complex cultures of Mesoamerica, the Otomi were likely the original inhabitants of the central Mexican Altiplano before the arrival of Nahuatlspeakers around c. 1000 CE, who replaced and marginalized them however the Otomi and their nomadic lifestyle allowed them to easily adapt to different environments avoid enemies and defend traditional lands and villages. In the early colonial New Spain period, Yųhmų Otomi of Tlaxcala helped the Spanish conquistadors as mercenaries and allies, allowing them to extend into territories such as Querétaro and Guanajuato, previously inhabited by semi-nomadic Chichimecs.
• • •

There are definitely parts of this that I like, but unfortunately none of those have anything to do with the theme, which is a shambles. It's a cool idea—players "ejected" from answers—but the execution here is so confusing, and the resulting answer are just nonsense. The fact that the player names aren't anywhere close to symmetrical adds another level of inelegance. The main problem here, the one that stands out the most, is that the wacky phrases are so dreadful. They aren't even wacky, actually. They're just missing letters, so the result is ridiculous. No humor. Is ARM CHILI funny? ARM is actually in the grid, just above this answer, so ARM CHILI is both not really funny *and* seems like it's replicating a word. Normally with a wacky phrase-type theme, you'd give the theme answers wacky clues, but these just have straight clues, and those clues don't even indicate they're part of the theme, so you just get AH COMPLEX and wonder "what the...?" So much hunting around, cross-referencing, etc., to figure out what's going on, and since only the clues for the sports stars make any attempt to tie things together, and since the four reasons for ejections from the various sports have literally nothing to do with any of it—seriously, they don't relate directly to the gimmick at all, they're just examples of things that might get one ejected—you're left with a an asymmetrical goopy mess. The puzzle is trying to do way, way too much, and doing none of it very well. Also, is the title a pun? On "rejection letters"? 'Cause otherwise I don't really get it.

Puzzle felt a little harder than normal, but I think that was due almost entirely to the lower half of the grid, specifically the nonsense theme answers, which I did not understand were part of the theme at all until very late. I actually thought AH COMPLEX was a thing I had just never heard of. I knew something weird was going on when I got to THE T WILL SET YOU FREE. And then I absolutely could not get into the very very far SW section, so I knew something was up with whatever those three letters were preceding ADMISSION as well. I actually had to go searching around the grid to find out which sports star had been ejected there, because crosses just weren't helpful enough—never heard of OTOMI, and was never every gonna see ROSY with just -SY in place (I do not think of "Pollyannaish" as being ROSY—a Pollyanna naively believes that things will turn out ROSY. Also had no idea ARM CHILI was a themer for a time, so that was hard. I really liked some of the fill, like MALCOLMX and CAFFEINE FIX. But FIJIISLANDS seems ridiculous to me—how is that different from, uh, FIJI? I guess we call Hawaii the "Hawaiian islands," sometimes, but ... that answer felt off. Also, SHE BEAR??? Is that real? (18A: Den mother) Is that a thing? Yikes.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mmorgan 12:05 AM  

Did. Not. Like. This.

I don't care for sports puzzles (I know they're in some people's wheelhouses, and that's fine, I won't begrudge them, puzzles should indeed focus on a variety of interests, new stuff, old stuff, music, science, pop culture, history, whatever... but for me, sports puzzles are just blechh). But though I struggled mightily with the theme, once I saw how it worked -- and really, the clues could not have been more explicit, once you see them -- duh!! -- I have to admit that it was a nice "ah-ha moment." Emphasis on “moment”.

But then, the entire center-left confluence of ORYX, CALYX, and MARIE was a super-mega quintuple Natick for me, exacerbated by my inability to give up on TWANG for 51A, even though it made no sense with 35D. So that little section led to a deadly arms-in-the-air screaming DNF.

I see much to tip one's hat to in this puzzle, but my personal solving experience was far from wonderful.

Yesterday's controversies over I.C.E. and SHMUCK were infuriating, tiresome, outrageous, annoying, disturbing, compelling, amazing, and fascinating. I go back and forth between being obsessed with this blog (including posts I agree with as well as those with which I vehemently disagree) and thinking I should have better things to do with my time.

All that notwithstanding, I want @Gill I. to know that your posts are always a high point of my day! Mil gracias, muchacha.

And why do I get silly Captcha puzzles on my iPad but not my desktop or laptop??

jae 12:06 AM  

Tough. It’s harder to keep track of the cross referencing on a iPad where you only “see” two clues at a that was frustrating but not the puzzle’s fault. Then, the ejected players were all over the place which was annoying and was the puzzle’s fault. And then the were two WOES, ORYX and OTOMI, which crossed some semi iffy stuff.

That said, ambitious, clever, and somewhat irritating, liked it.

Calman Snoffelevich 12:39 AM  

At least they had BEANBALL and not BEANER.

Anonymous 12:54 AM  

Given the “athlete ejection” and “sports no-nos” themers, all I could think of when I saw THETWILLSETYOUFREE was perennial crossword fill AROD.

Kdunk57 12:56 AM  

Arm chili sounds like a much more problematic upper body version of toe jam.

Joe Dipinto 12:57 AM  

Uyyy. This puzzle is the very illustration of a hot mess. Its theme is so convoluted, I can't conceive how someone could have even dreamed it up.

We have symmetry between the reasons for ejection in the top half and the post-"ejection" phrases in the bottom half. So that is structurally impressive, in a way. But then the "ejected" athletes are tossed randomly into the grid, even though their letter counts would have allowed for symmetric placements: RICE/RUTH; O'NEAL/MESSI. Poor Lionel Messi is even forced to be vertical while all else is horizontal.

And as Rex pointed out, the "reasons for ejection" really have no point being there in the first place. The whole experience of solving this was one big "Huh?"

My one pleasure was the mention of the ORLONS.
Meet me on South street / The hippest street in town

puzzlehoarder 1:29 AM  

A good Sunday just judging it by solving experience. The theme is a bit of a mess. I dislike that xwordinfo lists the themes with their "ejected" letters in place. That strikes me as compounding the sloppiness.

What made this a good solve was the obscurity of some of the fill. There were a number of things I had to work around. The only unknown I didn't get was the crossing of MARIE and ORYX. I went with ONYX and while questioning MANIE the possibility of just putting in an R never crossed my mind.

Besides from this being a good example of my lack of common sense I was also completely ignorant of either book. By their cluing both of these entries are debuts.

I'm curious about things I don't know so on finding my mistake I googled both books. Reading the synopsis of "The Stranger" a scene in it sounded oddly familiar. The main character shoots and kills a man known only as "the arab" on a beach. It turns out this scene was the inspiration of The Cure's song "Killing an Arab." That was why the scene sounded familiar just from the memory of a song I haven't heard in decades. I never knew who the song was put out by until just now. I'm relieved to find out that it has nothing to do with advocating violence because that was never the impression it gave. I thought it was just a good but quirky song. As you can imagine it got little airplay.

Pardon the TMI it was just an interesting little rabbit hole.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

I can only echo @mmorgan and @Joe Dipinto. and hot mess. That says it all for me.

Constructed for the enjoyment of the constructor and not the solver.

CDilly52 3:46 AM  

So I came, I solved (in my sluggish regular almost an hour Sunday time), I conquered. But I did not have a good time. And I love sports. And I knew all the names but never figured out how they were “ejected.” Just too weird for my brain, I guess.

@Rex, FYI, “One Alarm Chili” is a thing. It is a brand name for kits containing spices and other dry ingredients to which one adds meat, tomatoes water (I add beer myself)to make chili. You add the heat in the package based on how many “alarms” (how hot) you want your final product to be.

Brookboy 4:10 AM  

I thought it was a pretty good Sunday puzzle, and once again I am in awe of the ability to construct such a puzzle. I do agree, though, that the ORYX, MARIE and CALYX crosses were a real Natick, at least for me. But that would be my own real criticism. I enjoyed the solve and I appreciated the puzzle-within-a-puzzle element of trying to come up with the star athlete’s name and then seeing how it affected the related theme answer.

Kudos, I say, to Nathan Last for constructing such an interesting and complex puzzle. It would seem, judging by his remarks, that it was perhaps a tad or two more complex than OFL liked. Rex is often more curmudgeonly when a puzzle forces him to spend more than five minutes or so doing the puzzle. He often blames the puzzle.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday to all. May your team prevail (as long as it ain’t the Patriots...)

CDilly52 4:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 5:10 AM  

I have to agree that a connection between the ejected player phrase and the offense would have been nice, but I’ll take this anyway. That MESSIAH COMPLEX and ONE ALARM CHILI contain MESSI and ONEAL is worth the P OF ADMISSION for me. (@mmorgan – I’m with you on the aha moment - but mine was not so ephemeral - yesterday’s ICE dust-up, and questioning my obsession with this blog. Oh, and the wonderfulness of @Gill I. I remember when I first discovered this place, @Gill I and @Tita were my heroes. Seriously.)

UNFRIEND. Cool that Facebook has verbed a noun. We can now inflect it: friending, friended. We can add prefixes: UNFRIEND, refriend, overfriend, underfriend… The only time (I’m aware of) that I was unfriended on Facebook was because of this blog. It still stings. But I’ve LET IT GO. I’m not one to hold a grudge, though I’ve been accused of some contemptible stuff here.

I loved being reminded of Red Rover. Man, I took that game seriously. I can still remember the rush when I heard, …. send Loren right over. I imagine it’s banned now. Too violent. [On a side note, when I was teaching in prison, I convinced Jamel and Justin to stage a Duck Duck Goose game in the prison yard on April Fools. Told’em to follow this with a rousing game of Red Rover. They actually tried it, but no other inmate would join. I still think if it had been successful, it would have been the biggest wtf moment the guards had ever experienced. Right?]

@puzzlehoarder – me, too, for “Manie/onyx.” And I read the damn novel. In French. What a blur all that French and German literature was. If you had asked me, I’d have sworn that Gide wrote L’étranger, but that was L’immoraliste, another real page-turner. I think the guy ends up in a room he can’t get out of with a lot of jerks and realizes that hell is other people. This is after he realizes he can think, he can wait, he can fast even though he just woke up and noticed he was a big beetle.

“Easter activity” – cadging three boiled eggs from kids’ baskets and eating them so fast they all gather in a lump partway down the food pipe and just stay there for like ten minutes.

Off to think of clever ways to keep students from shifting tenses in their narratives. Sheesh is this common. Then a massive cram session of watching my go-to badass high school teacher’s lecture introducing Macbeth. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve watched this guy, frantically taking notes, willing myself to channel him, to be him. Then I have to create a couple of Kahoots games for a their/there/they’re and its/it’s review. And go to the store to pick up some cute little prizes; any kind of prize ups the ante for these guys. Of course the more enjoyable thing would be just to enjoy my Sunday, tell myself that these kids can never learn of this stuff anyway so what’s the point. But that would be contemptible.

Natan – put me in the “liked it” camp. Yeah, yeah… alert the presses. I appreciate that you included one NFL, MLB, NBA, and FIFA. I’ve done an NCAA one in my avatar. Contrived, I know, but there it is.

@mericans in Gay Paree 5:18 AM  

Hoo, boy. This is one interesting puzzle, leading to lots of great comments. @Rex's dissection of it is pretty fair. I feel a bit sorry for Mr. Last, however. What I imagine is that he had this great concept for a puzzle, started to build it, and then realized that including the names of the sports personalities ejected for the named infractions would be nigh impossible. So he settled for names that would fit.

I seem to recall that at least one college has crossword puzzles as a course. If so, this one could provide fodder for at least a month of critical textual analysis. Did the constructor notice that he had EROS next to GAY PAREE, which in turn crosses REAR END, which in turn is crossed by FATHER and ARCHING?, for example. Discuss.

For 105A, I was hoping that the ejected player would be a CHILean, such as Gonzalo Jara (warning: does not pass the breakfast test). Instead it was ONEAL. OTOH, it allowed the answer to be ARM CHILI, and thanks to @Kdunk57 at 12:56, we now have a great new term for a disgusting corporeal affliction.

I was also disappointed to see Lionel MESSI listed as an ejected player. He's hardly an exemplar of unfair or dangerous play. As of August 14, 2017, he had received just one red card in his whole professional career. As Travis Yoesting writes, "Lionel Messi is the good, wholesome boy while Cristiano Ronaldo is the arrogant bad boy. ... Ronaldo picked up his 10th career red card on Sunday in the Super Copa against Messi’s Barcelona. Messi’s lone red card came 43 seconds after making his Argentina debut in 2005." If there is any football player (and yes, I use the term in its near-universal sense without apology) who could be said to suffer from a messiAH COMPLEX, it is that #%$&^@ of a @&^%!, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Despite all of that, Mrs. @mericans and I seem to have had a better solving experience than some others. We did it on paper, starting after lunch yesterday, and finally finished close to bedtime. After guessing right at MALTA for 57D (as opposed to Libya), I reckoned that 57A would have to be MARIE, and that left only CAL_X crossing OR_X. ORYX is one of my favorite animals, so we went with that.

Have fun watching the Big Game, everybody!

fkdiver 5:34 AM  

Yet another sports themed puzzle. Ugh. Add to that the fact that this was a messy, joyless slog and it really wasn't worth the effort of clicking on all the squares with bicycles.

JB in VT 6:01 AM  

Another level of weird is the mismatch between the player of each sport and the offense which might get him ejected (even though the link is never made explicit). Ruth ejected for a bean ball? OK...I guess we are talking about his stint with the Red Sox when he might actually have thrown a high pitch. Not very fair to the non-sports fan who will know him only as a slugger, but ok. Messi ejected for an illegal slide tackle? Yeah, it could happen, but he is famous for his offensive prowess not aggressive defense. And Rice ejected for a helmet hit? That is almost invariably a defensive infraction and Rice was an offensive player. I suppose he could use his head as a battering ram to flatten a defensive back but that just wasn’t his MO. So the non sports fan may not like all of this but it is managing to piss off this sports fan as well.

Ray Smuckles 6:15 AM  

@puzzlehoarder 1:29AM

You like The Cure? But The Cure is silly! It is silly to like The Cure!

JOHN X 6:40 AM  

This was a pretty good puzzle (mostly).

I had to really work at this one and continually cross-reference clues which wasn't so easy on an iPad where you can't see all of the clues at the same time. I didn't actually get the theme until near the very end and when I did I just flew through the rest of it . . .

except . . .

Except for that crazy crossing of MARIE CALYX and ORYX. WTF? DNF. I died on this very spot.

Conrad 6:42 AM  


> And why do I get silly Captcha puzzles on my iPad but not my desktop or laptop??

My guess is that you have cookies disabled on your iPad. Go into Settings, scroll down to Safari and select. Then scroll down to Block All Cookies and turn it off. After that, the first time you visit the blog you'll still get a Captcha but after that you should be clear.

Good luck!

Hungry Mother 6:55 AM  

I had to call on my lovely mate for a couple of key answers here. She was an English, French, and Speech teacher with an extensive knowledge of literature. Nice puzzle that had my BRAIN smoking.

Z 7:55 AM  

Just another Sunday. A tad too easy because of the title and a tad too sloggy, especially when I needed to find the italicized clues. Yesterday’s took me longer but never felt sloggy. Time to track down the WaPo Sunday puzzle for a consistently better 21x21 experience.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Very funny!

Michiganman 8:07 AM  

I bet on the Patriots and already spent my winnings. Brady's a former Wolverine. He will prevail.

Jtull 8:12 AM  

13D. Pinch=BIT? Could someone please explain?

OffTheGrid 8:23 AM  

I really liked this. It is actually two themes with a common....well, theme. It is what it is and I think some of you may have spoiled it for yourselves by trying to connect everything. Loved that this is a sports puzzle.
Liked seeing BEANBALL and ICES, back to normal I hope. A lot of the fill was easy but some of it was challenging. This was a very enjoyable solve.

@MattP 5:23P yesterday. Thanks for your insightful comment and I learned a new word-jeremiad.

Z 8:29 AM  

@Jtull - A pinch of salt. A BIT of salt.

QuasiMojo 8:31 AM  

“Sports is human life in microcosm.” And I guess I am often way out of the loop, but today’s puzzle fit oddly into my wheelhouse. I had heard of these gents. And the intricacies I’d the conceit intrigued me. Well done.

My last rewrite was MARIE which should have been obvious since MANIE, which means MANIA, would have been an odd name for a girl even if the character was obsessed with her.

@Loren, I think you are referring to “Huis Clos,”
by Sartre. “No Exit.” I agree about Gill I. And several others. The main reason I follow the blog. I miss the guy who posted all that great classical music a few years back.

RAD2626 8:52 AM  

I liked the puzzle and it's intracies a lot. Four great iconic sports figures in four sports. All of which fit in great phrases only to be taken out. I also disagree that the reasons for ejections were not an essential, albeit separate, add-on. If you just had "these letters have been deleted from another answer", even with the sport mentioned, it would have felt empty. Here we have an actual basis for the "ejection". Given all of those constraints I thought the grid was great. My only regret is that ORR did not appear - and disappear.

Michele Angelini 8:55 AM  

One of my fastest Sunday puzzles ever! 22:42!! I had no idea what the theme was on about...too sports-related which totally loses me, so I’m shocked and proud I was able to coast through so quickly despite it!

Favorite answers were CAFFEINEFIX, BEFOG (be- is such an underrated and underused prefix, but one of my favorites!), and there is never a poor moment to use FLAGRANT in any context. Also, kudos for including my favorite, Signor DANTE.

Nancy 9:05 AM  

"Confusing" is the operative word here. Came here, read the explanation, and (well after the fact) now think it's pretty clever. But while I was solving, all I could think was: Am I supposed to stuff the word TRUTH into a single square? And if I was, where were the other rebuses? You see, I didn't get an "AHA" at AH COMPLEX. And that's because I was looking for "GOD COMPLEX", not "MESSIAH COMPLEX". As for POF ADMISSION -- I knew there was an "F", didn't have the "O", and couldn't make sense of it at all. With both the COMPLEX and the ADMISSION, I neglected to look for a rebus, And certainly not a cross-referenced rebus.

Too much cross-referencing. DNF. Above my pay grade.

webwinger 9:28 AM  

Agree with OFL that this puzzle was “inelegant”, but about hardly anything else. The concept of ejecting letters that spell the name of a well-known (to fans, anyway) athlete to another place in the grid was pretty cool, IMO. It does not appear to me that the resulting phrases were supposed to be wacky, or even make sense. (It would have helped, I think, if the NYT app I use had highlighted both parts of the original phrase when the remainder portion was selected; that happened only when the ejected name was selected.) I liked the surprising way ONEAL combined with ARM to make ONE-ALARM, which is definitely a known way of referring to a mildly seasoned version of the dish. (BTW, I remember reading long ago [don’t even recall if it was supposed to be a true story] of a European explorer type who was hosted by an aboriginal group of people and was advised not to partake of one dish at the meal that was prepared in his honor, which was “arm stew”. [I tried hard to make that comment inoffensive, but no doubt some will take offense.]) Finally, for the second Sunday in a row I thought a puzzle was easy that Rex called medium-challenging, although both took me about 3 times as long as they did him.

The Big Game 9:28 AM  

I guess my disdain for the NFL is growing. I have never cared less about a SB than I do today. And with that, all of the social connection to it (is this now a national holiday of some the new Valentines Day?) is off putting. I'm speaking mostly of the mini puzzle that (spoiler alert) had both the teams of the SB in it. Not that it matters much in the long run, but really...why does the game insist on being on everyone's mind? What is it about the SB, just a football game, that needs to permeate our puzzles, our grocery shopping, our ads...? It isn't like these are the two best teams in the NFL, amiright Saints fan?

The question is which comes first, the game that creates the hype...or the hype that creates the game? And since the game isn't always very good and really only appeals to so many because of the ads that run during the game (do you hate football? watch the ads instead!), I'm guessing it's the hype that's created this monstrosity.

My church has been having "Souper Bowl Sundays" for the last several years...the damn game has even infiltrated the church. It's the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots...they have their own fan bases...and we're supposed to care about their team winning the game?

Which brings me to this puzzle. Yeah, sports is a thing in our culture. And today is supposedly the epitome of our sports culture's other sport has a singular game like this (except in college) we put all our eggs in the sports basket and for one day, somehow we're all supposed to care about it.

I only say this because I used to care. I don't now. Setting aside the politics of Kap and players kneeling, the inability of the NFL to address head injuries and the way it filters down to children and young adults is a serious problem. It's just a bunch of very big men dressed in uniform make such a thing about it is actually absurd. The sport is dangerous to everyone who plays it.

And quite honestly, instead of "Super Bowl Sunday," we should just rename it, "Amateur Drinker's Night." This night, more so than NYE, has more drunk drivers on the road than any other time of the year. Because of a game. A game between two teams whose actual fans account for a small percentage of the entire NFL fanbase...not to mention all of the sports fans who don't care about the NFL at all.

I would like any one in this comments section who did not know there was a football game today tell me in the comments section. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that there are only a handful of people in the country, yea even the world, who don't know that there is a game today called the "Super Bowl" (that can't be named in ads or used as marketing because it is a trade marked name) and it involves two teams that will change players next season...the only connective tissue is the laundry they wear.


Unknown 9:37 AM  

I don’t get onel at 40 across “student taking torts or property“, law school courses I took a million years ago. I guess l stands for law student, but why?

Teedmn 9:41 AM  

Wow, this was fun. I started out with a big groan - aw man, sports-related and I need to know players' names to boot (almost wrote too boot, hi M&A). I was confused when __COMPLEX was making no sense. A SEEMingly long time later, I came across MESSI, the only soccer player (football, I know) beside PELE that I know, and got the theme of MESSIAH COMPLEX with MESSI being ejected. Now the game was afoot!

I still made some time-sucking errors - rObes before COWLS at 67D, Tetra before TROUT at 60D, the inevitable chap before GENT, 77A and hoT instead of LIT for "On fire", 69A. The worst one was ciTE for "Make mention of", 27A. I didn't know the 11D director for sure and 7A, "Metric in digital journalism" might have stayed as CL_____S forever if I finally hadn't COGNATEd shalom and salaam.

"ORYX and Crake" was a great book for folks liking vocabulary. One of the characters loves to use big words seldom seen in the real world.

Natan Last, this is an impressive, fun Sunday and it gave me my sport-FIX for the day as I have no intention of watching even a minute of the "big game". Thanks.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

It felt hard to me although I finished around my usual Sunday time. I'm not into sports but figured the foul part of the basketball clue and also part of the FIFA clue from years of watching my son play park and rec soccer. When I finally grokked the theme it got much easier.

CT2Napa 9:44 AM  

Started this last night and was cruising. Was entering without checking crosses (my usual norm which is why I am so slow). Saw "...ADMISSION" and got "POF" and thought rebus or some odd formulation. Was about halfway done and went to bed.

This morning saw the RICE connection and was able to almost finish. But for the center - ORYX CALYX. With a little google help figured those out but still wasn't done.

Had IN A SEC so was trying BESOT or whatever which made Georgia sound problematic. Then resolved KUROSAWA and all was good.

GHarris 9:47 AM  

Got through all of what I thought would be the hard stuff ie. the theme, only to crater at oryx (put down Ajax). Had to Google it and that enabled me to finish up in that very tricky midsection.

Birchbark 9:48 AM  

AH, COMPLEX. The harmonics of the ORYX/CALYX cross had me searching for Sycorax somewhere, Caliban's witch-mother in Shakepeare's Tempest.

Lewis 9:52 AM  

Random observations:
1. It would have been fitting for NECK to be clued [Spoon].
2. While I didn't mind the sports-penalty-extravaganza theme, it could have been made more elegant if it utilized just the ejecting-well-known-sports-name-from-a-phrase aspect, and adding hockey to the four sports in today's puzzle.
3. Ms. MAB has uncharacteristically shown up three times now in two months.
4. Apt cross of BEANBALL and BRAIN (as a verb).
5. Could that RAMS in the grid be a portent?

Hartley70 9:56 AM  

I didn’t dislike this but I sure was confused for most of it. Oh and for a while I did have PRICE and TRUTH jammed like a giant rebus into each appropriate square, @Nancy.

The sports theme was almost totally lost on me. I got RUTH because I’m breathing but everything else was a guess to some extent. ONEAL was a spelling toss up between Neil Sedaka and Ryan O’NEAL and Eugene O’Neill. Aargh!

To my credit I avoided the MARIE/MAnIE trap. It’s no big whoop because I spent a lot of time wandering around the grid looking for missing letters. I knew RICE was somewhere but the location eluded me so I called it quits. I kept remembering yesterday’s ICE not knowing it had been a focus of controversy here yesterday. I’m so glad I took a day off. I’m on a hiatus from stress at the moment.

I had a wonderful dinner with some Rex Regulars last night in Westport. This blog does attract some congenial folks!

Alix Fedoruk 10:03 AM  

Thank you LMS for the link to the Macbeth teaching video. There’s a whole rabbit hole of literature to enjoy there thanks to Mr. McGee. I forwarded it to my English teacher sister.

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

OH LORDY I said to myself. And I said it out loud. To an empty wall. All by myself.
@Calman S.. HAH! and add some more hahahas. I had BEAN. Yup, I did, and then I said a Hail Mary.
OK, so we have SPORTS and I have to go all over hither and yon to figure this out. I can do that. Nothing was really that hard - as a matter of fact some of the entries were nice. I had my usual trouble with names but managed to find where the Y's and X's needed to go. I finish, and now I have to go to work to figure out why I jumped around from one thing to the next because I sure as hell didn't know what an AH COMPLEX was. I had MESSI at 86 down and still couldn't figure out where he fit in this mystery. P{RICE} I got. T(RUTH) I got. A (ONE AL) I got. Why can't I figure out the MESSI conceit. When I finally got that it was MESSIAH COMPLEX, I cried. NO way, Jose. No, no, no. Lionel is the greatest soccer player in the world. Not only that, he's a wonderful human being. He doesn't bite ears. Never would I equate him with having delusions of grandeur. Waaah.
Some entries made me smile, though. I liked UNFRIEND. I've unfriended two very, very nice people and hoped they would never ever find out because Facebook swears they won't tell. They lied. My two friends called the next day demanding to know why. I lied. I told them it was a mistake and reinstated them. They are very religious and I get all these God messages telling me that I must pass them on to everybody. I'm actually afraid of hell because you never know, so I ignore them and hope nobody is looking.
OTOMI was another favorite. There are so many lovely inhabitants from Mexico with names that are impossible to spell and pronounce. Oaxaca being my favorite. I want to book flight to waxsaka. Oy.
So, I had fun with a few of these words and after sitting back still staring at an empty wall, I decided that it wasn't all that bad. It had all my favorite players - RICE, RUTH, ONEAL and my idol MESSI. I do agree it was all over the place but I had nothing better to do than finish this up.
@mmprgan. @Loren, Quasi. Thank you, amigos...How very kind. Made my morning. I always wonder (after my usual dissertation) if I come across as a pompous ass. I rant a my God friends.
This blog is more than my CAFFEINE FIX. It has such a mysterious lure because I've made cyber friends. I've had lunch with @ ACME and @Ellen S and @Deb from SAC, so I know them. Strange as it may sound, I feel I've also had a wonderful lunch and dinner and cocktails with so many of you that I've yet to meet. It's fun to conjure up the images. I know, for instance, that @Nancy and I would drink and eat ourselves silly. Hah, what a concept.! Still trying for the ACPT where I hope to meet up with some of you. Fingers crossed. Yay blog, and so many of you. Andale pues!
Oh...and go Rams - although you'll probably lose your shirts!

SouthsideJohnny 10:09 AM  

I’m surprised that Rex went so easy on this dreadful, insipid mess of an effort. The majority of the people who post here are pretty avid solvers, and thus could slog their way through it. As an advanced beginner who struggles with Thursday-tough offerings, I had zero chance. I couldn’t finish even one third of it. I would think that the NYT would like to attract members of John Q. Public (e.g. those of us in the middle of the bell curve ability-wise). This thing was a total turn-off. Awful, just awful.

Suzie Q 10:11 AM  

A quick scan of the clues gave me some serious doubts about this one. Sports do not excite me. So then I perused more clues and all I saw was a bunch of proper names. Rather than torture myself and waste my time I chose to just skip today.

Nancy 10:18 AM  

@Quasi (8:31) -- You beat me to the "Huit Clos" punch today, Quasi, but I know you have to get up very early in the morning to go toe-to-toe and ARM CHILI wrestle with a Yalie. I read it in French class in French, and it has to be one of the most depressing and cynical books imaginable.

I also love your "Sports is human life in microcosm" citation. I'd never heard the quote. It helps justify the fact that I will be watching the Superbowl tonight, despite the many reasons not to. (Hi @The Big Game 9:28). And Amen to @Brookboy (4:10).

Funny line, @Kdunk57 (12:56).

And count me in as another enthusiastic member of the @GILL I fan club.

JustMarci 10:27 AM  

While “the T shall set you free” is in itself wonderfully sassy, this puzzle was painful! I do not do sportsball at all, so names and transgressions were meaningless. DNF and, for once, don’t care.

Aketi 10:31 AM  

I finished last night and was too tired to suss out where the ejected letters ended up in the puzzle. Like @Nancy, I felt it was above my pay grade.

@Teedmn, I did read ORYX and Crake, but don’t remember the vocabulary. Of all the trivial things one could remember from that book what I remembered was the genetically engineered blue body parts, probably because of a word included in a recent puzzle that resulted in a lot of blog posts debating its suitability in a puzzle.

Joe in Newfoundland 10:35 AM  

SHE BEAR is definitely a thing. In fact 2 of them took terrible revenge on 42 boys for mocking Elisha for his baldness.
ps I have cookies enabled and I had to click 11 captcha things today. Better than last week when it was over 20

Maruchka 10:45 AM  

@CDilly - I love Wick Fowler’s alARM chili kits. 2 is milder, 3 is definitely hot. But both have what many mixes don’t - flavors. Put a dab of sour cream on top and maybe some herb of choice, delicious and done..

Blue Stater 11:00 AM  

Another consistent failing of WS's puzzles: too clever by half, or, in this case, by about 99/100ths. A complete waste of time.

QuasiMojo 11:00 AM  

@GiLL I. You’re welcome (no “no problem” here.)

@Nancy, I left out Howard Cosell’s name. For the quote. I had saved my comment and then posted it to yesterday’s blog by mistake before I finished it.

I wish I could join you puzzlers at ACPT but I will be tied up that week. Should be a “TNT sound effect.”

Dan Steele 11:13 AM  

Good reasoning. Worked well last year. And the two times he faced my Giants. Still, I fear you are correct.

Aketi 11:16 AM  

No one yet noticed that this is a triple X puzzle, with two of my favorite animals ending in X. I had no idea that the Arabian ORYX had to be reintroduced into its native habitat because it was almost wiped out. I also didn’t know that the bobcats that we sometimes saw glimpses of in the forest behind our house are a species of LYNX.

@Gill I, I too put your posts in my must read list, unlike books written by French authors.

@Nancy, after being forced to read Huis Clos in high school by the French teacher who threw chalk at me, I stopped reading books written by French authors.

mmorgan 11:17 AM  

@The Big Game: You may be interested in this

Adam Frank 11:22 AM  

ORYX, CALYX, MARIE - WTF? LIT and ALIT? I got RICE and RUTH without the answers from which they were ejected, and finally got the theme a few minutes later. Did RUTH ever get ejected for a BEANBALL (thankfully not a BEANER!)? Like@Rex, I liked the theme concept but not so much the execution, and the rest of the puzzle was meh - especially the WTF area noted above.

Had CAFFEINE HIT for a while but FIXed it when I realized it had to be HARD or SOFT G, and I knew DANTE was right.


Crimson Devil 11:26 AM  

First year law student.

jberg 11:29 AM  

I was totally lost, struggling with ignorance of sports rules and incomprehensible long answers, until finally TRUTH ... SET [ME] FREE. Then I went back and filled in the others. It was a real struggle, but I enjoyed it, despite the compromises. I mean, symmetrical athletes would have been more impressive, but wouldn't really have affected the experience.

That said, I DNF due to an error, which I didn't notice until reading @jtull. I had BeT for BIT, couldn't figure it out, but it worked so well with eNTRy that I left it in, and figured SyLES must be some kind of youth fad. Sigh.

@Quasi, @Nancy--OH WAIT, I'm pretty sure @Loren is sending us up. I almost fell for it, until I got to the part about the giant beetle. It's meant to be a parody of what most people know about foreign literature, in the style of 1066 And All That, or the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Brilliantly done, actually.

OTOH, Loren, I can see what you're doing in your avatar (at least I hope so), but since the only sports figure I can recognize visually is David Ortiz, I can't figure it out. Please email me a hint!

Maruchka 11:34 AM  

@Loren - I played Ines way back. Confusing enough spoken and animated, yet fun to characterize. Can imagine how sloggy it must be to read only. Sartre could stuff in more wordage on one page than a broom has straws.

Crimson Devil 11:36 AM  

Absolutely loved this; after being thoroughly humiliated and humbled yesterday, was able to sail right through. One heckuva construction.

Lynx 11:39 AM  

Another solver here who knew I was in for a rough morning with the abundance of sports clues -- but it's Super Bowl, I get it. Also another solver who naticked at MARIE/ORYX. Ouch.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Greetings from upstate snow country. this puzzle's theme was totally confusing and made no sense eg 87a- what does that have to do w/ sports. Did Ruth say that? 102a was terrible as was 65a- should be God complex. I got most of this but key spaces I could not. As I am not into sports at all- as a woman- have zero interest in them. so that didn't help. arm chili- just awful as was soft g, as was 42 d. and 49d was just lame. because key parts of some of the answers were missing it really tripped me up. So I am ejecting this puzzle out of the game. As it didn't play fair!!

Banana Diaquiri 11:46 AM  

@JB in VT:
And Rice ejected for a helmet hit? That is almost invariably a defensive infraction and Rice was an offensive player.

not to mention, IIRC, when Rice played helmet-to-helmet wasn't even a penalty, much less one to get you tossed out.

Molasses 11:51 AM  

@GILL I - You can block posts on Facebook without unfriending, and they'll never know. I've done this with a friend's politically-rabid husband.

@Loren Muse - Thanks for the link to the Macbeth lecture and the glimpse into the world of people who see more than I do when they read.

This puzzle was hard, hard, hard. I did think it was clever, but the sports killed me, and somehow the non-sports stuff was also mostly outside my ken. I set a record for longest solve ever: over 3 hours altogether. Thankful for ORYX and Crake, which was in my wheelhouse, and a handful of other answers I had confidence in, or I'd still be beating my head against this one.

QuasiMojo 11:53 AM  

@jberg, I missed the Beetle. Lol. Thanks for pointing out my oversight. She’s even funnier than I thought.

James McCann 11:56 AM  

Boy this was a stretch. I had the same reaction to AH COMPLEX. Thought it had something to do with Allah. And I had no idea CENSE was a verb. Who knew? The puzzle also clicked for me on THE T WILL SET YOU FREE.

TubaDon 12:00 PM  

Slogged through this, but got all the theme answers without any idea about inserting the players names so there was a lot of head scratching going on. But came a cropper on BEFOX. Oh so close and yet so dEJECTED.

A guy in Nampa 12:12 PM  

Didn't like it.
Didn't like it at all.
Easy to medium, but nope.

TJS 12:12 PM  

I could not agree more with all who have commented today on their enjoyment of this blog. If I started to list those whose comments I enjoy the most, I know I would miss someone, so I will not make the attempt.Its been a little over 2 years that I have been reading here and is is now a absolute neccessity of my morning routine. Started my fascination with crosswords by sitting on my fathers lap. my job was to find the clues that looked like plurals and fill in the s in the square. It is now about 65 years later and my addiction is still in full force. Thanks to you all for giving me an additional way to enjoy the experience.

JC66 12:12 PM  

This was a hot mess(i) for me. It might have helped if I had completely read the sports stars clues rather than stopping when the sport was identified: i.e. Fifa star....

But the biggest problem was thinking it was a rebus after getting "THE T(RUTH) WILL SET YOU FREE. I spent many nanoseconds (hi M&A) trying to rebus (is that a verb?) the other three ejected stars.


"I was also disappointed to see Lionel MESSI listed as an ejected player. He's hardly an exemplar of unfair or dangerous play."

Neither are RUTH, RICE or ONEAL. As others here have pointed out, there's really no correlation between the sports star and the reason for ejection except that both are from the same sport.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

This puzzle was hard for me, but it was not entirely due to the preponderance of sports-related clues. I like that the reasons for ejection were phrases that you could guess from a few letters. That's the kind of sports clue that gives a non-sports-nut a chance.

Had never heard of ONEL, ORLONS, OTOMI, TALISA, but had heard of ORYX & Crake. It would have been better to know the other four than that obscure one.

Unknown 12:29 PM  

Man, I was so confused by what "Armoneal chili" is...

Stanley Hudson 12:33 PM  

Quite clever and quite enjoyable.

Stanley Hudson 12:34 PM  

Quite clever and quite enjoyable.

TJS 12:34 PM  

Forgot to mention that I hated this puzzle! No not really, but when I had the grid completed and still didnt get what was going on, I just hit reveal and saw my only error at the manie/onyx cross. Had to come here to get the trick. I don't get the puzzle titles with my nyt app for some reason, or maybe I would have figured this out on my own. But as I say about my ex, atleast I wasn't bored.

Sara Dacus 12:41 PM  

Time posted by Arkansas girl who has been solving for a year and a half: 1:50:54.

Malsdemare 12:44 PM  

I did not, ever, get the theme, though I tried mightily. And without it, the F in POFADMISSION and the T in THETWILLSETYOUFREE were immpossible to see. I knew it was the truth that liberates, wanted a rebus, but that made no ense for the obscure TALISA. So, wow, utter fail here. Clever, I’ll grant that. And some nice answers: CAFFEINEFIX, FIJIISLANDS, AHCOMPLEX (Yeah, I know, it’s MESSIAH, but I think we could make AH COMPLEX a thing). Anyway, you got me good, Natan.

@mericans in Gay Paree 12:47 PM  

@TJS at 12:12 PM

"My job was to find the clues that looked like plurals and fill in the S in the square."

What an adorable story!

Amelia 12:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymoose 12:57 PM  

@The Big Game, I wondered if were going for irony. If not, you had a lot to say about something that doesn't interest you.

Carola 12:58 PM  

I thought this was genius and lots of fun to solve, with ONEAL needed to complete ARM CHILI especially inspired, and MESSI + AH COMPLEX a close second.

Like @Joe DiPinto, I admired the puzzle's elegrant symmetry: the reasons for ejection in the 4 sports in question in the top half mirroring the "post-ejection" phrases in the bottom. The 4 ejectees are appropriately scattered around, after being tossed out.

Lots to like elsewhere, too: CAFFEINE FIX, FIJI ISLANDS, CITY HALL, IN A FEW, OH WAIT, LET IT GO. My main trouble was with vowels: I had to leave spaces in KUR?SAWA, MON??, CAL?X and let the crosses bail me out. Fortunately, I knew ORYX.

Tom Rowe 1:17 PM  

It wasn't until I read the blog until I figured out how the themes all fit together. I guess that's my "Aha" moment. But Arm chili still bothers me. What happened to zero alarm? Anyway, I have heard of and made multialarm chilis but never have I seen a recipe for one alarm chili. I got the arm from crosses, as I did for the other three themes, looked at it and it still made no sense to me.

ES 1:26 PM  

I liked this puzzle for the challenge and even its quirkiness—any puzzle that has me working at it for longer than 20-30 minutes gets my attention. I thought it was clever and ambitious, definitely worthwhile in my book.

The Big Game 1:33 PM  

Hey "anonymoose," did you not read my post at all? I used to be a big sports fan, so yeah...i have a lot to say about it. You won't hear me talking as much about Brian Eno music or Early Renaissance French oil painters.

Masked and Anonymous 1:51 PM  

The Super Bowl would only be the Spowl, without Uber.

Nifty, raised-by-the-wolves & schizo SunPuz theme, as that sorta thing goes. Only slightly humorous, but had some real weird 'tude.

staff weeject pick: ARM. Essential ARMCHILI ingredient.

fave fillins included: KUROSAWA [took M&A many iterations, to spell him right] ... Try ejectin *that* dude out of the game, sometime! MALCOLMX. SHEBEAR. MONAE.

Thanx for the work-out, Mr. Last.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

p.s. It's even seeped into the runtpuz a little bit, @The Big Game…


Roo Monster 1:53 PM  

Hey All !
Add me to the group who couldn't get SOFTG/MARIE/CALYX/ORYX. Ended up with TWANG for SOFTG, which had DANTE as DANNE, CALYX as CALKS, and 5 empty squares when I finally gave up. Couldn't even figure out CAFFEINE FIX, and that was after actually having mine! Yeesh, what a mess.

Puz was confusing. Couldn't figure out what AH COMPLEX was, or ARM CHILI. I call Foul on the ONEAL one. That was the only name split.


Liked @Carola 12:48 explanation of puz.
This one hurt the ole BRAIN a BIT.


sixtyni yogini 2:03 PM  

Haha. Hated it!
Except the T will set you free.

Northwest Runner 2:30 PM  

I'm a fan of all of the sports mentioned, and I'm familiar with all the ejected players, but I'd like to eject this puzzle. What a train wreck. Haven't checked out LAT, WaPo, or Newsday yet, but I'm glad I did this one first to get it out of the way. Looking forward to more fun in the other puzzles.

Andy 3:05 PM  

Lordy! Who thought up this shambles of a puzzle? And who allowed it to see the light of day?

Peter Meidlinger 3:07 PM  

I've been there, SouthsideJohnny. I would never have gotten this a year ago. Today it was a welcome challenge . Hang in there.

Unknown 3:29 PM  

I understand. I was one once. But how does onel mean that?

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

Rex parker never did a Sunday puzzle he didn't hate

old timer 4:19 PM  

Doing the Walk of Shame today as I did Google (for SEBERG) and did not really need to since I finally did get the trick of inserting the dropped player into the referenced answer.

But I came here to tell @LMS if we were Facebook friends I would never ever UNFRIEND you. Any day you fail to comment is ruined for me -- or is at least far less enjoyable.

Now in my day 60 years ago, what had once been called NECKing was "making out" -- a phrase that has not been replaced in this country I do not think, though in England they have the xword-friendly SNOG.

Spooning implies to me sitting on the Victorian or Edwardian front porch hugging, with maybe a chaste kiss thrown in if Papa wasn't looking. NECKing? As Groucho Marx put it, this is a great misnomer. The NECK was the body part least likely to be involved.

Rachael 4:21 PM  

This is a nightmare puzzle. And I usually love Natan Last, but this? Good gravy. What a disaster.

Rosetta Maranos 4:33 PM  

I also hate partial repitions; lit & alit. It seems like a crossword construction cheat.

Charles 4:40 PM

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Very tough (for me)!!! Thanks very much for the Sunday challenge, Mr. Last. Nice job putting it together. It wiped me out. Thank god tomorrow’s Monday. Whew!

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

LIT and ALIT are different words with different meanings. Are ART and ARM "partial repetitions"? RICE and ICES? ONEL and ONEAL?

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Once again your ignorance of Kipling hurts you. Check out The Female of the Species. She-bear shows up in the first stanza.

Old Nick 8:15 PM  

Oh, my! The puzzle is goopy, unsymetric, dissheveled. It's no good! What is ARM CHILI? I never heard of that! If you're so gd smart build your own puzzle and get it published in the NYT. And then quit bitchin.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Not a sports fan but loved the puzzle. Contrary to many, I thought it was a lot of fun to figure out. Everything was gettable by crosses and deduction. I like Mgt Atwood so was familiar with oryx. I am very impressed by Natan Last's elegant and clever crossword.

Jofried 10:29 PM  

Yuck! I can’t even count the number of personal nouns I didn’t know. And really...for those of us who hate football isn’t it enough that the whole country goes crazy over one stupid football game? Must sports then take over the crossword puzzle too?

Crimson Devil 10:55 PM  

Bet you’ve figured out Onealarm chili by now....Messiah complex also good.

Gregory Schmidt 12:25 AM  

ORYX CALYX MARIE = triple Natick. There have been SO many proper-name crossings with arbitrary common letters lately, it seems that is of no concern to whomever is actually "editing" these days.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Fun puzzle and kudos to Mr. Last for crafting a very clever Sunday. I’m always confused by these purists who insist that a puzzle has to have some sort of symmetry or follow some preconceived formula....Why?.....if it’s challenging and fun isn’t that the goal??

pat sanchez 7:38 AM  

AT first i thought the player answers would come from letters in the ejection answers. Once again i didnt get it until the end.


My big mistake was coils for FURLS and Eire for ERIN (Sick of that actually) even though I knew eyelashes had to be CILIA and guessed CABAL right away. Oh well. I also knew OBI (zzzzz) but was heading for Cook Islands. So it took me longer than usual.

I didn't hate it as much as most Sundays because I learned a few things.

Surprised nobody mentioned the repeat of last week's infamous OCTAL.

I ate Chili watching the boring
Superbowl but the alarm codes don't really apply in NYC. I think that's more of a fast food/suburb thing. I think Hannibal Lecter ate arm chili BTW. LOL

See you next week Rex!

Dan Steele 8:54 AM  

Hmm. I read Scott Turow’s book on his experiences at Harvard law school, “One L”, many years ago, and have assumed since that it was a fairly universal term. When I google it now though, it’s hard to find a reference that doesn’t relate directly to Turow and his book. Hmm. Interesting. Anyway, check out those discussions.

Kelly Sargent 10:34 AM  

I hated this puzzle SO much!!

thefogman 12:24 PM  

Rex is missing the whole point of this excellent themer. It comes as no surprise since he hates themers because they cut into his finishing time. It was a tough one, but enjoyable to solve. Who could ask for anything more?

G. Weissman 1:25 PM  

Too clever by half. Or three-fourths.

Elizabeth Lancaster 3:45 PM  

I have to cense my room after sweating this one out. What is an AH Complex? Or armchili? I’m a relative neophyte - never even try to finish before Monday - but this one was about as much fun as the Super Bowl. Love reading the comments though and Rex is my go-to curmudgeon. The check actually is In the mail - it won’t buy you much at the Schultz coffeehouse.

Crimson Devil 6:36 PM  

Ahcomplex is supplemented by soccer star Messi, and armchili by NBA star Oneal.

Dcym 11:22 AM  

What makes no sense is that rice was never ejected from a game, there’s no evidence Ruth was ejected for a bean ball, Messi was shown one red card, albeit in his first ever game for Argentina as a 17-year old, and I could find any shaq ejections.

alphie 9:48 AM  

Ha. I was wondering what Armoneal Chili was.

Unknown 2:56 AM  

To the person that inquired about the meaning of "ONEL." It stands for 1st year law student. Torts and Property are part of the first year curriculum in law school (along with Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law and Constitutional Law.)

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

What a lot of whiners puzzle solvers are. "Sports aren't in my wheelhouse". Puh-leeze! I am not a classical music aficionado but somehow the names Mozart, Beethoven and Bach have managed to burrow themselves into my brain.
Never heard of Babe Ruth? Or Lionel Messi? Shaquille ONeal? Jerry Rice? Read a paper. Watch a little TV. Get a life.
All the whining about Oryx...guess you're not up on literature as well. Calyx? I guess you guys aren't much for botany or horticulture either.
I loved the puzzle. Brilliant concept, beautifully executed.

spacecraft 12:05 PM  

I sort of agree with OFL on this. The theme is unwieldy, and until you get the trick, you have no hope with those long acrosses. If the ABRIDGEd sayings made some kind of sense--say, if ARMCHILI were actually a thing--it might work, but that's pretty much impossible.

So, starting out, very daunting, and with a clue list chock full of WOEs. But once the code is broken the end comes quickly. All I can say is, thank goodness I remembered Akiro KUROSAWA, or I'd have been scuppered in the north. Bad enough I had to survive two naticks: E_ILE/OTO_I and MA_IE/O/YX. Educated guesses proved sufficient, so I finished correctly, but with little joy. DOD to GAYLE King. Par.

Burma Shave 1:58 PM  


Should SHEBEAR his AIM and LETITGO, or howl


rondo 2:31 PM  

Filled this puz in in a counter-clockwise spiral finishing with the RY on ORYX, after putting a FIX on my CoFFEe___ inspired write-over. CILIA me to have done that. But 2 squares overwritten in a Sun-puz are no biggie.

Do those Russian ethnics call their kids TATAR tots?

Don't always like her music, but yeah baby Janelle MONAE is multi-talented.

OHWAIT, how about Jean SEBERG as both Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin's wife - at the same time - in Paint Your Wagon (a highly under-rated film, IMO). Yeah baby.

I'll give no STATIC to either those who like or dislike this puz or consider it BASIC or COMPLEX.

Diana, LIW 2:48 PM  

I always scan a puzzle and begin with an answer I'm sure of. Today, it was my very own "yeah baby," BELLA Bayla. (That's the name of my new car - I love her.)

Never did get whatever they wanted me to get about some kind of missing letter. Sometimes it's just the fun that's missing, when I have such an experience.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:33 PM  

I was alternately grinning and scowling as I tried to get all aspects of the theme, so tenuously connected as they seemed to be. But then, AHA, THE T--WILL SET YOU FREE happened. That made using ONEAL, and MESSI much more easy to see in their respective themers.

And so, as I finished up in the SW with the opaque OTOMI and SOFIA, I reviewed the puzzle and was pretty darned impressed at how the parts were brought together.

ORYX And Crake written by the brilliant Canadian author Margaret Atwood, is an amazing sci-fi description of a dystopian future, even more COMPLEX than this puzzle. No problems for this solver.

And so, again, I really liked this puzzle even though it was beating me up for about 3/4 of an hour.

strayling 8:26 PM  

Well that wasn't very good.

It felt like listening to a teenager explain their latest slang and expecting you to know it already. Crossed with a sports bore who thinks everyone of course follows their pastime of choice.

Don't give me an American trivia quiz and try to pass it off as a crossword, please

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Well - I guess Messi could have been ejected for a slide tackle, and I guess early in his career Babe Ruth could have been ejected for throwing a bean ball, but I doubt Jerry Rice could ever have been ejected for a helmet hit since even if he did once in a blue moon make a tackle - say on an interception - the helmet hit rule was not in place at the time he played.... in fact helmet hits were legal and occurred often, and were used a bit by his teammate Ronnie Lott; and I guess Shaq O'Neal could have been ejected for something that was equivalent to a flagrant foul although not specifically for a flagrant foul since it was not in place in the rule book during his time in the pros or in college.

But all in all an enjoyable challenging puzzle. On to the easy Monday thing.

ecsutton 1:53 PM  

Just to be clear, the “missing letters” make sense:

(Messi)ah Complex.
The T(Ruth) Will Set You Free.
P(Rice) of Admission
(O’Ne al)arm Chili.

So, ejected? Has nothing to do with real life. Just in the puzzle.

Still, an unsatisfactory experience. Too clever by far.

kitshef 6:48 PM  

I'm apparently an outlier here - I thought the theme was delightful, and overall this is one of the best Sunday puzzles ever. Most Sundays are weak, oversized Wednesdays. This was fun.

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