Popular Japanese manga series with schoolgirl heroine / SUN 2-24-19 / Scarecrow portrayer Ray / Nettie's sister in Color Purple / Sports rival of Union College / Baby beavers / Fashion model Marcille / HuffPo purchaser in 2011 / Crazy Rich Asians actress whose stage name puns on bottled water brand

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Easy (8:42)

THEME: "Everything Evens Out In The End" — two-word phrases where second word is just the "odd" letters (e.g. 1st, 3rd, 5th...) of the first word; whole thing is tied together with the revealer, "WHAT ARE THE ODDS!?" (121A: "How lucky was that?" ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues)

Theme answers:
  • SMALL-TOWN SALON (21A: *Likely inexpensive place to get one's hair done)
  • REINDEER RIDE (40A: *Tourist activity in northern Scandinavia)
  • THE FARM TEAM (59A: *Source of call-ups, in baseball lingo)
  • SWINGING SIGN (64A: *Posting that blows in the wind)
  • IS NOT TOO INTO (72A: *Has little excitement for)
  • PROTEST POET (84A: *Allen Ginsberg, e.g.)
  • FOOTNOTE FONT (99A: *Bottom-of-page design choice)
Word of the Day: AWKWAFINA (132A: "Crazy Rich Asians" actress whose stage name puns on a bottled water brand) —
Nora Lum (June 2, 1988), known by the stage name Awkwafina, is an American rapper and actress. She appeared in the films Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians. She has released two studio albums, Yellow Ranger and In Fina We Trust. Awkwafina first gained popularity for her song "My Vag", a response to Mickey Avalon's "My Dick". The music video garnered over three million views on YouTube. Notable television appearances include Girl CodeFuture Man, and Saturday Night Live. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a weird solve. I had no clear idea what was going on with the themers, except that there was clearly some kind of anagram or repeat-some-letters thing going on inside the answers. The themers themselves seemed ... contrived, at least slightly. THE FARM TEAM? SMALL-TOWN SALON? Seemed a little iffy. But I was just rolling with it, hoping / praying that there was gonna be a bangin' revealer to make it all worthwhile, and Sure Enough! Erik's last puzzle was the one with the revealer "SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN," which was, frankly, the best and most memorable revealer of the year to that point (see here), and today's is just as good. The revealer should snap—it should crackle and pop, too. It needs to make perfect sense of the themers, and it needs to be a great phrase in its own right. Or, maybe not "needs to," but "should." Perfect revealers should make you go "Oh ... wow." And this one did. I still think the themers are weird and contrived, but they had to be for this (very restrictive) theme to work. As you know, and as the data makes clear, Sunday has recently been my least favorite day of the puzzle week, so this puzzle is especially welcome.

There were little hiccups along the way, but I basically crushed this puzzle—until, that is, the SE corner, where I floundered (but, thankfully, did not founder). I just couldn't get a hold on the revealer. Had to work and work and work at it, and the crosses were really rough (for me) toward the middle and end. YEOW is a sound, TSK is a sound, PRECHEW is ew, what the hell is PRECHEW, dear lord ... and then I misread 125D: Iniquity site (DEN) as [Inquiry site], so that didn't help. Then I misspelled WOOLF ever which way imaginable, and some unimaginable (if you include multiple typos), before getting it right. Then there's the fact that I didn't really know / remember AWKWAFINA and didn't read the whole clue, which, you know, might've been a good idea. Might've jogged my memory a bit. So the area east of DARLA was snarled mess. I might've been very close to a Sunday personal best if I had been able to maintain my pace through the SE. Still, even with the ridiculous pratfall conclusion, a very fast solve.

Five things:
  • 10A: Multidecker sandwich (CLUB) — wanted BLT(S). I actually wrote in BLAT (which is a multidecker sandwich, I think ... well, it's got bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato on it; I count each of those things as a deck(er).
  • 42D: Dreadfully slow (DRAGGY) — had trouble with this, but when I got it, I loved it—and that's the best possible outcome for a crossword struggle: "What the ... why can't I ... oh! Oh yeah, gotta give it up for that answer, that is good..."
  • 49A: Chinese dynasty ended by Kublai Khan (SONG) — that has to be the world's toughest clue for SONG ... but it's not like it slowed me down much.
  • 29A: En ___ (chess move) (PASSANT) — ha ha, OK, sure, if you say so. Luckily I have some familiarity with French, so I was able to make a French phrase out of the few letters that I had, and it ended up being right. 
  • 5D: Tree resin used in fragrances (BALSAM) — well I know BALSA wood, and I know the actor Martin BALSAM ... but this "resin" was not familiar to me. And crossing PASSANT ... that was potentially lethal. But tra la la, I managed to skip right through there without harm.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joe Dipinto 12:10 AM  

First of all: Solo's partner is Kuryakin, thank you very much.

This is one of those puzzles where once I got the first theme answer I thought, "Oh God, do I really have to finish the rest of this?" The revealers in the title and at 121a strain mighty hard, but they aren't witty or cutesy enough to redeem the mental slog this solving experience was.

Awkwafina should ask for her money back. Or at least demand to be in a better puzzle.

Z 12:12 AM  

Nope. The solve was pleasant enough, no major complaints or ugh moments. But then I pondered the reveal, figured out what was going on, and shrugged my shoulders. Oh, looky, the letters we use to make words can be used to make other words. Great find, Sherlock. I’m sure there are people who will love this puzzle and ooh and aah over how hard it must have been given the constraints. Bah. Erik is a smart person, he probably wrote a program and then picked the best options. It’s the kind of drudgery computers are good at. Well-constructed grid with absolutely zero pay-off in the end. Not my cuppa.

Patrick O'Connor 12:16 AM  

I enjoyed this solved pretty much the same way you did --but somehow knew who AWKWAFINA is, without, you know, actually knowing who she is.

En PASSANT is a very legit phrase, and very common in chess: pawns are allowed to move two spaces instead of one on their first move, but an opposing pawn (and only a pawn) can capture the pawn "en passant" as if it had only moved one space (and only in the very next turn after the opposing pawn has made its two-space move). It's like castling queenside, or promoting your pawn on the eighth rank to some piece other than a queen: you feel very cool the first time you do it, and after that it's just another possible move that might improve your position.

mmorgan 12:21 AM  

Well, Mr Agard is reaching amazing new heights of puzzle productivity, and I was totally in his wheelhouse and zipped right through this. Except... except even when I finished and got Mr Happy Pencil I had Absolutely No Idea what the theme was about. Okay, I get it now that Rex has explained it. Cute. I guess. But more of a constructor's trick than a solver's pleasure, and I've been seeing too many of those these days. I appreciate the desire to do New Things and to Be Clever, but somehow when I can complete a puzzle and be baffled by the theme, something is wrong (either with me or with the theme, I'm not sure which).

chris b 12:31 AM  

Would have been a personal best except for getting reamed by the SE corner. And kept wasting time trying to figure out the theme, which I never did even after completing the puzzle.

Also, thanks for Groovy Train. Hadn't heard that club banger in years.

paulsfo 12:58 AM  

In the Android NY Times Crossword, when I switch to the "list of clues" mode, some of the clues are bolded, and the ones which are bolded changes. However I can't figure out what this means. Any help? Thanks.

Harryp 1:11 AM  

Getting AWKWAFINA from the crosses made my afternoon. I didn't get the Theme, but OFL pointed it out and it is devious. The puzzle itself was an easy solve, 18 minutes below average Sunday time.

chefwen 1:31 AM  

WOW, and not in a good sense wow. Went to Crossword fiend to have the theme explained (she posts early) and was still somewhat confused. Said to self “that’s a theme”?

I’m going with what @Joe Dipinto and @Z said.


Joseph 1:38 AM  

89A appears incorrect. The nene is not extinct, hence not akin to a dodo. Apparently they don't read the Times.


puzzlehoarder 2:10 AM  

Note to self, never solve a Sunday puzzle after staying up to watch a movie. This was a long slog because I kept falling asleep. I got a clean grid and the fill was interesting but the theme not so much.

chefwen 2:16 AM  

@Joseph, it has to do with their names DO DO and NE NE, extinction doesn’t play into the answer.

Anonymous 3:14 AM  

I kept wanting Allen Ginsberg to be CRUDESTPOET because I had URL instead of ORG and had no idea about TPS, but I was very sure of TIAS so that didn't work.

And to me 60D had to be XRATED - parents can take their children to see an RRATED film.

Amusing that we just had a discussion the other day about AMIDST and WHILST. GAOL had a Britishism warning but WHILST didn't.

This is my second or third time falling into the trap of thinking anything to do with the AFL must be sports related, even though I personally pay a lot more attention to labor unions than to sports.

Loren Muse Smith 3:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 3:31 AM  

Rex, you nailed the deal about that moment when you finally Get it. What a reward. I love this kind of tricky idea. Yeah – it was obvious that the letters were all similar and to successfully tease out the gimmick was enormously rewarding. Our erik agard is a grid beast with a SWEET SET of themers on this one.

Loved BENE. I’ve taught my students to use NB in the margins instead of a star. That way they can feel all erudite and stuff, explain to whoever cares what it stands for. They’re prepared to go Latin or French, depending on their mood. Directing them with something like Read chapters 13 and 14 and mark at least four NBs that you want to share with the class has led to some great discussions.

Heads-up to anyone reading a piece of work annotated by your literature professor: NB can also stand for Nicolas Boileau. Oops. I sent a couple of mystifying emails to her before we sorted it out.

The clue "1400" jolted me upright. During the past strike, “1400” was the buzzword ‘round my parts, the nickname for a bill we desperately need: fund all the smaller rural counties not based on their actual enrollment but rather as though they had 1400 students. Since it didn’t pass, several of our employees received their RIF letters last week.

Rex – I had the same reaction to PRECHEW. (I think I read that this unsettling practice is actually where the human kiss originated. Maybe someone was pulling my leg.) I guess if you can prechew it, then of course you can rechew it. Haven’t we all been there? Starting to send that morsel in its way and rethinking it last minute? DISLODGING it, giving it perforce a couple more chomps? I sure have, but I take pretty big bites.

And I agree that DRAGGY is a great word. Crosses DART. Hah. That’s my husband and me. I dart around like a flea, and he ambles. Go to the mall, and I’m inside rifling through the clearance table at Talbots whilst he’s still unbuckling his seat belt. Sometimes I leave my body for a quick look-see and am horrified at how exhausting it must feel to be around me.

I despise musical CHAIRS. It must stem from my fear of balloons, which is actually a fear of being startled. Being startled by that sudden silence is bass-ackwards, but there it is.

@Dorothy Biggs from yesterday: re pine-flavored fare. How ‘bout Bombay on the rocks?! Juniper all the way, baby. And I found this.

This was actually a dnf for me. (“Sailor Muon” crossing “Bulger” – dumb. What. Some subatomic particle with little deck shoes and chill sunglasses? I don’t know anything about manga except that their eyes look like huge chocolate-covered cherries.) Doesn’t matter – I really, really enjoyed figuring out the trick.

Well-done, erik. You crafty cat, you.

thewizardofroz 3:56 AM  

@Joe Dipinto, Clue refers to Han Solo.

jae 4:05 AM  

On the tough side for me. Deciphering the theme saved me from a dnf when I changed bUMBLE to FUMBLE. Sussing the theme answers sucked up a boatload of (m&a) nanoseconds. Clever, liked it.

@merican in Paris 6:00 AM  

OK, today let's talk a bit about the facts of life -- life before grocery stores, and Disneyfied animal characters, like vegetarian sharks and smart-alecky meerkats.

@Rex writes, "PRECHEW is ew, what the hell is PRECHEW, dear lord." The chew clue even explains, "Make easier to eat, as in an infant's food." Am I the only person who ever did that for my child? One- and two-year-olds are not squeamish about their food. Cripes, I remember offering my son a piece of raw onion when he wanted something to eat, and he downed it gladly. He liked olives, which usually are sold with the pits still in them in Europe, and I would always remove those pits with my mouth before giving them to him.

More to the point, what do people think parents in rural parts of non-industrialized countries do for their infants? Get on-line and order Gerber baby food from Amazon? Thankfully, even in the United States, the practice is now being recognised as actually beneficial for infants. To quote from this article, published on the web site Live Science, seven years ago:

While [note: not WHILST] most people who commented on the video [posted by the actress Alicia Silverstone] were quick to voice their disgust and vilify the ill-considered whims of celebrity parents, science suggests that "pre-mastication," or the pre-chewing of adult food for infants, is actually a traditional and healthy feeding method. Standard practice among our blender-lacking ancestors, pre-chewing is still the norm in many non-Western cultures. The act exposes infants to their mothers' saliva, giving them an immune system boost that they can't get from the sterile, pulverized baby food bought in stores. The benefits of pre-chewing have only recently been investigated, but they appear to parallel those of breast-feeding.

I was also going to come in yesterday and comment on the feeling of disgust that some people had of associating jackals with their prey. The black-backed jackal -- the kind that preys on the cute animal appearing as an answer in Saturday's puzzle -- is a handsome canine (not that it matters). I have seen them in the wild, and they resemble short-haired German shepherds. Their numbers seem to be in balance with their aforementioned prey, as nature intended. Both they and that prey are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as outside even "threatened" conservation status -- i.e., they are in no danger of extinction (for the moment).

As for the puzzle itself, we enjoyed it. Indeed, the revealer helped us more quickly fill in two of the theme answers.

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

I loved this puzzle due to the very clever theme. Like @mericans in Paris, the revealer helped me fill in two theme answers, which was fun.

BarbieBarbie 7:14 AM  

Got that anagram-tingle after the first two. Sort of figured it out, and then unfortunately caught sight of the puzzle title, which made it a gimme at that point and spoiled the fun. Good puzzle, bad edit choice.

JJ 7:38 AM  

I too went straight to The Man from Uncle

kitshef 7:38 AM  

Felt so smart dropping in skyWalker at 1A. A feeling that quickly faded.

AWKWAFINA?? needed every cross, and with DARLA also a WoE happy it wasn’t, say, DARLo/oKWAFINA.

We once made a trip to northern Finland. We drove a reindeer sleigh, we drank reindeer milk, and we ate reindeer meat (this on a Christmas trip!), but no one rode a reindeer. Not really convinced you can ride a reindeer. Also not convinced NATIONAL TV is a thing. Nor FOOTNOTE FONT. In fact, as lot of stuff in this puzzle seems to be made up just for the sake of the puzzle.

Lewis 7:41 AM  

I knew the final word of each theme answer was embedded in what preceded it, but didn't make the every-other-letter connection, so getting the reveal was an "Oh wow!", combined with a "D'oh, should have seen that!", chased by a "How the heck did he come up with these?"

Regarding that last question -- Because I still like to believe in real life superheroes, I want to believe Erik came up with these answers to his highly creative theme without a computer.

Today, Erik, because you work miracles with letters, I'm going to think of you as the ABCDEF ACE.

Hungry Mother 7:41 AM  

Naticked on the bottom line. The trivia is too much.

John Morrison 7:49 AM  

The theme was utterly useless; I had no idea of what it was when I was finished.

db 7:57 AM  

Stumbled in SE corner and initially had PRECHOP for 97D. I also misread the clue for 16D, thought it said “knocking out place”, and BOXING RING fit perfectly.

Mary Ambridge 8:07 AM  

DNF with SAILORtOON crossing MtA.

QuasiMojo 8:07 AM  

Another theme that is all about the constructor’s cleverness and not any real purpose or value. I’m with Z. Ho-hum hokum. Plus the phrase is “ooh la la” no matter what the NYT thinks. I’m France it’s “oh la la”. Two CHEWS in one puzzle is more than I can stomach. And as noted any child can go see an R-rated film. So the clue is inaccurate. “Rated R: Restricted – under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.” I went to a Pasolini movie once at that movie theater near the Plaza. The Decameron, which was really almost X-rated. I was surprised to see children in the audience. I suppose in those pre-internet days, it was a real eye-opener. Today, I can’t even imagine what most kids have seen.

Tim Sullivan 8:33 AM  

I am certain to be in a minority of one, but my favorite moment while racing through this puzzle was being reminded of "Darla". "Our Gang " comedy shorts were a staple of Saturday morning TV way,way back when I was a kid, and she was my first realization that girls might have something going for them. I was probably six or seven.

Gotta go with Joe D. and @Z on this one. Just not much of interest, but I don't expect much from Sundays anymore.

Gulliver Foyle 8:50 AM  

Liked the theme, mostly because I got it early. But DNF'ed at the IPOD/SOLAR crossing. Confidently had Ipad down, and figured "salar" was just some kind of green I had never heard of.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

@Z -- You can create a computer program that will construct this for you? Really? I had no idea. So maybe constructing this isn't as hard as I thought? Never mind -- it doesn't matter. Put me in the [tiny] camp of those who found this puzzle very, very enjoyable.

It took me a while to figure out the theme. There were a lot of repeated letters in the theme answers, but they weren't anagrams. What were they? Somewhere along the way I figured it out -- helped enormously by the title: EVERYTHING EVENS OUT IN THE END. And I figured it out just in the nick of time, because I needed the theme to solve in the SE, where three big mistakes almost made me crash and burn: SERa instead of SERT; PRoCess instead of PRECHEW; and WOLFF, then WOLFE, instead of WOOLF. (Yes, I know now, that's Tobias, not Virginia. There are just too many differently spelled wolf authors, if you ask me.)

I defended the truly disgusting PRECHEW (97D)because I thought of all those PBS Nature programs where Mamma Birds PRECHEW the worms before feeding them to their young. Baby birds are referred to as "infants" too, right? I certainly wasn't thinking of PRECHEWed food for human babies. I sure hope Erik wasn't either!

John Hnedak 9:05 AM  

Rex, you teach college and don't know that "data" is a plural noun? The data make (no s at the end) clear. Tsk.

Loved that "plumb", Pb (the chemical symbol for lead) and mol are all in the same puzzle.

Happy the the revealer was truly revealing. I kept trying to drop letters from the answers to find some consistency among them, but no. Maybe if I had paid some attention to the title...but I never do.

Z 9:07 AM  

@Nancy - I couldn’t, or rather, I don’t care enough to try, but the search parameters aren’t all that complicated. Also, I tend to inveigh against letter play generally. Perhaps my disappointment because Agard is one of my favorite constructors made me extra surly, too. Not every puzzle has to be to my tastes. And whatever my feelings for the theme, the rest of the puzzle was well-made.

@merican in Paris 9:18 AM  

@Nancy 8:57 AM -- "I certainly wasn't thinking of PRECHEWed food for human babies. I sure hope Erik wasn't either!" Please see my 6:00 AM post, above. I hope it changes your mind.

Crimson Devil 9:23 AM  

Admirable construct.
Much enjoyed being reminded this week of Darla, Bugs, R Runner & Acme products, and that cool dude Pepe.

ArtO 9:27 AM  

An all but for two letters complete week!! Rarity for this guy. The only enjoyment in this puzzle was sussing out the theme which actually helped close the SE which had me stewing for a while (a la Rex).

Erik did well on Jeopardy but expected an even better performance given his brilliance. Fun watching the all stars do their thing.

FPBear 9:28 AM  

Pretty easy, but I hated it. Didn't see the theme until after I finished. Was counting letters. Tell him to go back to Jeopardy. Oh wait! He can't because he got creamed!

David 9:29 AM  

As usual with these types of puzzle, I stare at the revealer and the answers, shrug my shoulders, and come here to find out what the heck was going on.

Perhaps so many children have allergies these days because of parents "ewing" at prechewing, at least partly.

LSU *and* ASU? Not the best. Yet another L'il and an awkward, cutesy take on bottled water as names. Don't people get bored with such banality? Is banality what HOWL was protesting?

@kitshef, as an editor and publisher I can assure you the fonts chosen for publication are sweat over and fought about, footnotes included.

@Tim Sullivan, I'm with you all the way.

Birchbark 9:34 AM  

PLUMB is why LEAD is "Pb," so there's some resonance there.

I like SWINGING SIGN, SMALL TOWN SALON, and THE FARM TEAM. If these images survive whatever NATIONAL TV throws in their way, it will be okay.

It is a howling, snowy day. I'm going to put the snowshoes on and go into the woods with my dog, Georgie. A ways in, there is a wooden sign that sits on the limb of an apple tree. It doesn't swing in wind like this, it just falls off and I put it back up.

Noreen 9:36 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle! It's good to have a relatively easy puzzle once in a while. Erik solves the Sunday puzzle in 5 minutes! Does this mean he reads the clues first and the 5 minutes is writing time? Or does the 5 include reading AND writing? I can't comprehend doing it all in 5!

Aketi 9:40 AM  

@‘Mericans in Paris, do you think CHEWBACCA’s mom PRECHEWed his food? I’m surprised @Rex missed the double CHEW experience.

When Gretel Pelto (a medical anthropologist), her graduate student, and her husband (my major dissertation advisor) first published their article “Premastication: the Second Arm of Infant and Young Child Feeding?” the pediatric medical community went ballistic.
Turns out that the cereal we had all been brainwashed into thinking was the best introductory foods for babies, IS NOT the best. Babies start to need additional iron and zinc before they get a full set of teeth. Those minerals are not readily available from cereal unless it’s artificially fortified and before agriculture babies weren’t eating cereal anyway. The hypothesis is that mothers were probably PRECHEWing little bits of iron and zinc rich meat to meet the needs for iron and zinc until they were able to CHEW it themselves.

I’m not so sure that the pediatric community has fully accepted their article even if it has been accepted in some parts of the alternative parenting community. Many parents I work with would still react in horror at the suggestion of offering PRE-CHEWDed food to their babies. So it always amuses me when those parents pick up a dropped pacifier, stick it in their own mouths to “clean it” and then stick it in their baby’s mouth without a thought.

Aketi 9:47 AM  

Oops @Nancy, I didn’t see your post before I posted mine. My post will be a big TMI for you, but it is based on actual research. I guarantee you I’m not about ready to take on modern culture and ever try to suggest to parents that they do it. For those parents who do engage in the practice on their own, however, as long as the parents are healthy there probably are benefits.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

@merican (6:00 and 8:57) -- You know how much I admire and respect you. And you have done your research very thoroughly. And I have absolutely no doubt that the scientific source(s) you cite really know their onions (pun intended). And I'm aware that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in my philosophy.

But I still say EEEWWWW. If either or both of my parents did this for me when I was an infant, I'd rather not know. Sorry, @merican -- you know I love you anyway :)

Rube 9:58 AM  

Kurayakin. Full stop.
Someone needs to explain to shortz and everyone else that it is physically impossible to complete a sunday grid in 5 mins when you use pen and paper. That should he specified anytime anyone lists their time.

In this too easy puzzle the theme was just too obvious for an agard puzzle and really of no help in solving the puzzle. I expect better

Lorelei Leeward 10:10 AM  

She does nails at a small town salon with a swinging sign. Her husband plays for the local farm team, the Darts, whilst off-season he minds the pig sty, runs a reindeer ride business, and dreams of the bigs. They aren't the kind of people who would lose sleep over a howling mess of literature by a protest poet.

You could almost gasp at the thought that any detail of their lives would come together thematically and make sense, and in a way, it didn't. But the voyage was fun.

Suzie Q 10:16 AM  

I thought I was a word nerd but puzzles like this prove me wrong.
The humor or cleverness felt like an inside joke I was not privy to.

@ 'mericans, I'm cool with the balance of nature but I'm also a sucker for cute little animals. Also totally agree about the prechewing. If everyone stopped being so prissy about it there probably would be healthier babies.

I prefer my Solo to be from U.N.C.L.E. not outer space.

RickA 10:20 AM  

Thought the title, "Everything Evens Out in the End," did double-duty today, both as a hint to the theme and as a description of how very easy the puzzle was until you got to the SE at the end, where it became much more difficult.

Brookboy 10:25 AM  

Another happy camper here. I thought the puzzle was interesting and enjoyable. It was more challenging for me than it was for Rex, but I muddled through. At 72A I had at one point this: I___TTOOI___. Somehow I got tattoo and ink in my head and that took a while for me to resolve. But resolve I did.

I don’t know if Mr. Agard did write a program that would construct such a puzzle, but it would seem to me that writing such a program would take as much effort, if not more, as to just construct the puzzle manually. Either way, it’s yet another creative twist to the crossword.

I sincerely and fervently hope that prechewed food is not anywhere in my future. I know that some of the infirmities of advanced age can lead to certain indignities, but, lord, please see that having to ingest prechewed food isn’t among them. On the other hand, I could consider that being on the other end (the chewer rather than the chewee) might be more palatable.

All this about prechewed food reminds me of the boxing great Archie Moore, who fought primarily as a light heavyweight (175 pounds and under). In fact, Archie was the light heavyweight champion for about ten years, from 1952 to 1962. Old Archie (he fought into his fifties) had a tendency to gain weight between fights, getting up to well over 200 lbs. Then when he began to train for a fight he’d have to lose the extra weight. What he did, according to his autobiography, was to eat steak several times a day. The trick was, he said, not to swallow the steak, but to just chew it thoroughly and then spit out the steak. I don’t know if it actually works, never having the willpower to try it. But it did work for Archie, because he’d lose the weight.

Nice write-up by Rex on a creative puzzle by Mr. Agard.

Dan Steele 10:29 AM  

I know, right? I was surprised to see even marginal snarkiness about that one. If you ever got excited about chess at all as a kid, it’s a term you ran into. I haven’t played any chess in decades, but “en passant” is always immediately accessible. Now if you ask me what I had for dinner last night....

Paul Harrington 10:30 AM  


Dan Steele 10:32 AM  

Too weird. How different we all are. Like OFL, I had most of the themers before I figured out the southeast and the revealer. Great AHA moment, which is really why I never miss a Sunday puzzle.

Carola 10:46 AM  

I thought the reveal was genius, just wish the theme answers illustrating it could have had a little more snap. I got the idea fairly early. Solving down the right side, after REINDEER RIDE and PROTEST POET, I saw that the evens were indeed out, as the title said. That definitely helped the rest go faster, as I backed into the left side and could work from the second word of the phrases.

SMALL TOWN SALON - in my world, that would be found only in a crossword puzzle: small towns have beauty parlors.
PRE-CHEW - thank you, @'mericans and @Aketi for the information. Had I only known that decades ago, as I struggled to force bits of pork chop through the Happy Baby. Food Grinder.

TomAz 10:53 AM  

I didn't love this puzzle but I did like it. I figured out the theme about halfway through, which then helped me fill in the rest. It would be better if the phrases were zingier, but, you know, I'll take it.

I dropped in CHEWBACCA the minute I opened the puzzle, so that was a good start. When I was a kid I was really into chess and so EN PASSANT was a gimme.
Never heard of AWKWAFINA, but the clue and the crosses made it possible to suss out.

Do people still use a CRADLE for their phones? I thought that was done. Much ado about PRE CHEW? I don't see the problem.

BarbieBarbie 10:54 AM  

@Aketi, I don’t buy that people didn’t eat cereal grains before agriculture. Cereals were probably part of the “gather” stuff in hunter-gather. This assumption is based on the belief that agriculture wasn’t a gift from the gods- it was developed by people who were already using the crop plants and wanted to be able to control the supply. Of course, you can believe the timeline looked like meat-meat-meat-agriculture if you want. Nobody actually knows. Since 23andme tells me I am likely part Neanderthal, I’d like to think that cave-mommies were attuned to their infants’ dietary requirements in a way that modern mommies have lost. But the rest of my brain is kind of squirming at that one too. My guess is that everyone ate what was available, and if it required teeth, parents helped those without.

Sara Dacus 10:55 AM  

Time posted by Arkansas girl who has been solving for a year and a half: 1:18:47.

Could see repeated letters in the themers, but I didn't understand what was going on until I came to this blog.

Escalator 10:56 AM  

Read Rex’s comment 3 times and all the comments here and still do not get the theme. I must be dumb 😧

Unknown 10:58 AM  

Me,too, on Skywalker first. It fit and the"W" worked!

Birchbark 11:02 AM  

@Lorelei Leeward (10:10) -- Nice vignette, and re the thematic-tie-in closer, I love that "in a way, it didn't."

davidm 11:09 AM  

Ha, this is funny. I too zipped through this, finishing most of the puzzle over my morning coffee and the rest on a short subway ride, but like others, had had No Clue what the theme was about. Then I had what I THOUGHT was an “a-ha!” moment. I realized that “Is not too into” SOUNDS like, “Is not two and two,” hence, is not four, hence, is an odd (?) number … though it nagged at me that this doesn’t exactly work, since if the sum is not four, it could still be some other even number … but I thought, this has to be it, just sound out the other themers and I did, and got … nada. :( The only other (non) insight I thought I had was that the standard footnote font type size is, I believe, 7-point, which is an odd number, so, maybe … The others, zilich. So I came here for Rex to clue me in, as I knew he would. :)

redrube 11:12 AM  

And Rex did this puzzle in 8 minutes 42 seconds?
Rex is a fake phony fraud

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

So many years, so, so many documents, and so many footnotes. And never, not once has the font for the footnote been different than the text font. Knock it down a point possibly, italicize it. But Times New Roman, the dreaded Arial, and my personal fave Century Roman text, same for the footnote.

Tony T Tiger 11:19 AM  

@BarbieBarbie - I'm pretty sure that when Aketi referred to "cereal" she was referring to Cheerios, not grains of wheat

Happy Camper Van Beethoven 11:21 AM  

Sara Dacus’s husband is a damn lucky man.

nyc_lo 11:22 AM  

Are we not calling out garbage fill like ULT and MOL? I guess I am. And one state university abbreviation per puzzle please.

I’ll join in the collective skepticism over the theme here. So weird, mostly nonsensical phrases dependent on odd-numbered letters is a thing now? Okay, if you say so. Easy solve, not much fun.

Roo Monster 11:25 AM  

Hey All !
@Lorelei Leeward 10:10
That was great!

Thought I'd aced this one, ended up with my infamous one-letter DNF. Argh! Had an E for the O at GAOL/PRETORIA. GAeL. Heard of that. Haven't heard of GAOL.

Caught onto theme before I hit the revealer. Figured out every second letter (well, every first-second letter, if you follow) spelled out the second (or third) word. Helped to figure out a few of the themers. Allen Ginsberg to me is a politician name. Am I wrong? Probably...

Bold move to had the NW and SE corners with long answers. I probably would've put two black squares at 5D, makes it easier to fill. By, Erik managed to pull it off. Odd clue for EWES. Got a chuckle from IVORY and RENEE clues. Had SAIgOnMOON first. Made sense to me.

Although the puz didn't OO LA LA or SANG TO me, it wasn't that SCREWy either. Just a few FUMBLEs along the way, and then ATTUNED to the theme, WHILST I had fun. YES SIR, GENTS, GUYS, and Ladies! Finished before TWO PM. πŸ˜€


Stanley Hudson 11:25 AM  

Wonder what Ginsberg would say about the state of our union today?

Bourbon Street 11:29 AM  

Loved the clue for IVORY. Had the most trouble in the SE. I kept putting in David or Davey rather than DARLA. I’m probably overthinking this, but, in my experience, all GENTS may be Men, but not all Men are GENTS.

Grandmaster N A Z I Paikidze 11:29 AM  

En PASSANT. In passing.

Rex has a PHD? Uh huh....

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Got the theme right away, off of SMALLTOWNSALON. This is becuz M&A does similar stuff all the time in runtpuz double-?? clues for his most desperate-lookin answers. Use just the even or odd-numbered letters in somethin to produce somethin else. Sooo…
S-m-A-l-L-t-O-w-N … throw away the even letters (or keep the odd ones), and U get SALON, and then splatz that at the end of the themer. Viola!

staff weeject pick: MOL. Apter clue, for this particular SunPuz: {I'm cool, even??}.

Experienced some multi-nanosecond fog delays (yo, @jae) in the CELIE/WHILST/ILLUMINAT and SAILORMOON/MMA/NAAN regions. If only the WHILST clue had ended with { … , back before electricity}. Or if I hadn't wanted RICE so much to go with my curry, instead of NAAN. Then M&A coulda been a contender …

Thanx for the cute theme and plumb great fillins, Mr. Agard. And for the sadistic "Spell CHEWBACCA Challenge", upfront.

Masked & Anonymo8Us

get yer nerve back:

Adam Frank 11:42 AM  

I basically solved around from NW down through the SE (I also knew AWKWAFINA well enough to fill in the answer with some of the letters), got the revealer, and BAM, I filled in some of the incomplete themers - I thought the theme was brilliant and brilliantly executed. It was both clever (in a way that @Rex usually hates - the constructor saying, "Look at what I can do") and a pleasurable solve, at least for me. The last portion of the puzzle (E and NE) went more quickly as a result.

For 104D, which I didn't fill in for the longest time (never having heard of SERT, I believe), I wanted MAY I, or IN LAW, or MARY, or F*CKER (which is the only one that would have fit); I didn't get TERESA until most of the crosses. I'm a baaaaaad boy.

An enjoyable, easy Sunday.

Hartley70 12:04 PM  

That clever lad, Erik, has given me another puzzle that I loved. I had to stop when I had my last such fun entry AWKWAFINA and try to see the theme. It took a few squints of the eye, but there it was and I didn’t have to have the puzzle Rexsplained to me. I hate when that happens.

SAILORMOON made more sense than mAIL OR MOON so I left it, but I have never heard of Japanese manga. I thought it meant eat in Italian which I’m always happy to oblige.

davidm 12:14 PM  

Someone else mentioned this, and I’m curious, too … when contests time you on how fast you do a puzzle, is writing time somehow excluded? Because to do a Sunday NY Times puzzle in five minutes, which is said to be the constructor’s average time for doing these puzzles, is incomprehensible to me. If I were given a list of all the answers, and asked to write them in, I think it would take at least five minutes just to do that on a Sunday-size grid. This puzzle took me about an hour to finish, though alas I didn’t really solve it, because I did not grok the theme. I’m still flummoxed that my “Is not two and two” business was pure coincidence. :( “En passant” is very clear to us chess buffs; I got that right away. But if you’re not a chess player the phrase is likely opaque, and even in chess the move happens VERY rarely.

Banana Diaquiri 12:16 PM  

remember folks, font is both family and size. many academic texts use smaller fonts for notes, just because of limited space. and sometimes use a different family, too. either way, the FOOTNOTEFONT differs from the text font.

Oh Please 12:20 PM  

Oscar Wilde wrote his lover a "Letter from Reading Gaol" - where he was locked up because the lover was a guy.

Rex always complains about dated references, then dismisses Awkwafina - she wasn't just in "Crazy Rich Asians", Rex, she's hilarious. A hilarious, female, Asian comedian who recently hosted SNL.

But as for dated clues - "Wella Balsam Shampoo" was a big fad once upon a time. So score one for us old people.

Loved the Solo/Kuryakin comment!

Nancy 12:21 PM  

@Lewis (7:41)-- Somehow I missed your comment here and caught up with it on the other blog. So I'll repeat what I said there: I spent at least five minutes before posting trying to come up with a *praise phrase* in the format of the themers. I failed utterly. So kudos to you for succeeding.

@Lorelei (10:10) -- I also missed your post the first time around. Nicely done!

@Adam Frank (11:42) -- Because I didn't have SERT either (I had SERa), I had the same problem as you did coming up with the answer to Mother ______. Since I had Mother A_______, all I could come up with was MOTHER ABBESS, and that didn't work since there's no such thing as CbO-Magnon man.

Teedmn 12:24 PM  

I was another solver who had a SAILOR tOON ending, hence DNF. But I really liked the theme - got it after I finished and had a moment to think about it. IS NOT TOO INTO is fun to look at in the grid. Solving randomly, I watched it come together, wondering what it would end up as. Nice.

@Hartley70, Rexsplained, ha!

Good job, Erik Agard.

Bob Rosen 12:29 PM  

More entertaining than a typical Sunday and a nifty complement to the somewhat tougher odds-and-evens specialty puzzle on page 64 of the print edition.

Escalator 12:54 PM  

Answering my own question at 10:54AM. I finally get itπŸ‘

Joe R. 12:55 PM  

I figured out the theme very early on, and that helped me fill in a lot of the themers, as well as get the revealer instantly when I got to it. I flew through this puzzle at a record pace: my Sunday average is 28:00, and today I beat my pr virus best by almost five minutes, coming in at 13:03. Everything made sense, and it was all generally enjoyable.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

ChrisP in AAMI

@Tim Sullivan A minority of 2 at least -- "Little Rascals" on TV was a staple of my childhood.

If you do the NYT specialty puzzle ("Meshing Around") you will find another odd/even theme.

Kate 1:09 PM  

104 down, six letter word Mother ______ will keep my husband and I giggling all week.

Joseph 1:17 PM  

Aah! Thanks

sixtyni yogini 1:18 PM  

Always love getting the theme. It’s more fun and usually faster that way.
But didn’t bother with it, because everything filled so easily.
Clever theme imho - (after the fact for moi). πŸ‘πŸ½

DeeJay 1:23 PM  

They are both

consonant vowel consonant vow

Joe Dipinto 1:52 PM  

@Escalator-- I'll see if I can help.

I come up to you and say, "Small town!" To which you reply, "Yes! What are the odds?!" And I say, "S-A-L-O-N -- salon!" And you suddenly comprehend: "Oh, I get it! Those are the odd-numbered letters! But not only that: because you've removed the even letters from the second word, it's 'evens out' at the end! Why you sly devil, you!"
And I humblebrag, "well, yes, I am rather clever." And then you spit some pre-chewed food into my face.

OffTheGrid 1:55 PM  

The inconsistencies among(st) the themes bothered me a bit.
Six of the words at the end of the answers had 4 letters. One had 5.
Three of the lead-ins from which the odd letters were pulled were 2 words. e.g THE FARM.
Three were 1 word. e.g. PROTEST.
One was 3 words. IS NOT TOO.

The phrases themselves were OK except that SMALLTOWNSALON is kinda forced.

AW 2:05 PM  

Tourists in Scandinavia do not go on REINDEER RIDES anymore than Alaskans go on DOG RIDES. There's a sled or sleigh involved. And the "source of call-ups, in baseball lingo" (59A ) is THE FARM TEAM, as in only one for the whole league? No, it's either just FARM TEAM or A FARM TEAM. A SWINGING SIGN is a thing? Really? No. "During the time that" (23A) is WHILE unless you're constructing a British crossword puzzle, which this decidedly isn't. All this straining to do some pointless grid trick with odd-numbered letters. Pffft!

old timer 2:17 PM  

Am I the first to comment on the uncanny similarity between this puzzle's theme and the odd/even poser by Mikw Shenk on the Spelling Bee page in the printed Magazine? Oh I haven't done that one and if I do it will p3robably be later in the week. But I always take a stab at the Berry opus before doing the Sunday xword, though not with quick success today. Berry has many OPERA up his sleeve, you know.

Kudos to @LMS today as always, and good luck to those teachers in West (by God) Virginia. And megakudos to @American for his informed and erudite PRECHEW explanation. I swear, I care more about the folks on this blog than most of my FB friends.

Actual Reader 2:30 PM  

I'm not trying to restart the (extremely tedious) discussion about Rex's tally of women constructors, but I recommend reading "Stop Counting Women" in the Sunday Review section of today's New York Times. (I don't know how to embed a link, but luckily you all subscribe to the paper so you can get the crossword.)

What? 2:36 PM  

I wrote all the answers as fast as I could - 3 min 50 sec. There are70 clues. To get within 5 minutes (remaining 70 seconds) leaves 1/2 sec to read and think of the answer. Wow. Agard is really something!

What? 2:39 PM  

Easy and fun. Must have a real chore to construct

What? 2:55 PM  

It took me 3 min 50 sec just to write the answers. With 170 clues, it means Rex took 5 minutes to read and get the answers or about 20 sec per clue. Pretty fast but doable I guess, just not by mere mortals.

What? 3:02 PM  

You’d be surprised what PhDs don’t know and Mensans are even worse. They are good at arithmetic though.

Mike 3:55 PM  

I had a hard time with this and didn’t really grok the theme until reading this. Oh well.

Bustedarmart 4:08 PM  

Loren, when I read your description of the constructor as “a grid beast” my mind immediately tried to correct:
erik agard = a grid rake

davidm 4:15 PM  

Wanted to mention that I really enjoyed DEVIATION, both the answer and the clever clue. Nice oxymoron, which exemplifies the true meaning of “oxymoron” — not, as some people seem to think, a self-contradictory word or set of words, but rather a word or set of words with opposite meanings that then create a new meaning. I like stuff that is a bit more high-brow, like the recent PASCALS WAGER in another Sunday puzzle. It was clued asking for a philosophical argument for God, and I first put in COSMOLOGICAL, after the first-cause cosmological argument. The letters fit the number of squares, and the first S and the L checked out with the across clues I had already filled in, but alas it was wrong. I’m often bored with and clueless about a lot of proper names, especially of entertainers.

I’ve never tried constructing a puzzle, but I’ve always had one in mind. As I chess player I envision a grid, probably Sunday size, with several rebus answers that are all the names of chess pieces. The square containing the word KING is backed up on the top or bottom of the grid, and several other squares with names like QUEEN and ROOK AND KNIGHT or whatever are shown in a configuration checkmating the KING. Of course the associated up and down clues would also have to incorporate those piece names in the longer answers, as rebus puzzles do. Maybe some talented constructor will read this and make my vision come true. :)

This is my first time commenting on Rex’s blog, which I read every day after solving. While I don’t always agree with Rex, his snark always gives me and others a nice laugh! :-D

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Very difficult, at least for me. Thanks Mr. Agard for the challenging Sunday solve.

Escalator 4:42 PM  

Thanks Joe Dipinto at 1:52 PM πŸ‘

MGTopAgent 4:46 PM  

I for one really enjoyed this puzzle even if it was on the easier side. It was neat, well clued, an no real groaners. Feeling sleepy and groggy today so this was perfect. Got the theme immediatley after solving the reindeer ride clue. RE:the pre-chewed comments on here. It reminds me of that really gross and hysterical skit not too long ago on SNL with Julianna Margulies and Will Farrell and rest of the crew where the parents have to pre-chew their grown son's food.... she is the new girlfriend of the other son and is invited to dinner at this home to witness and then particiapate.... Cannot find an online video of it but here are some of the still pics. http://thisdayinsnlhistory.tumblr.com/post/111670137724/february-122000-host-julianna-margulies-learns

brian 4:47 PM  

This was technically a DNF for me because of _PI/P_ETORIA and ET_E/GO_DIE.

If I had wrestled with the latter, I would have eventually gotten ETRE. But nothing ahort of Googling or randomly plugging in letters would have better me RPI/PRETORIA. It sucks to be Naticked on one square, on a Sunday.

Josh 5:00 PM  

On the theme of gender, "Some Spanish babysitters" being the feminine version (TIA) irked me a little. It's not wrong, per se, but reinforces gender roles in a way that could have easily been avoided.

Peter Meidlinger 5:13 PM  

Thanks for the slice of history.

Aketi 5:30 PM  

@Barbiebarbie, Bwahahaha. I think you are confusing with a pseudopaleophile. I am an omnivore. There really never was just one paleo diet, there were lots of them and meant that included food other than meat. The first time I remember the hypothesis that chewed up bits of meats might have been a source of iron and zinc for babies who didn’t have teeth yet was the evolutionary biologist Katie Hinde. “Bits of PRE CHEWED meat” is not “Huge quantities of nothing but meat”. Early introduction of cereal has been show to displace more nutrient rich milk and slow growth. I’m a big believer in introducing a wide variety of foods to infants and not just shoveling in the cereal that has been heavily marketed as a first food.

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

@Actual Reader

Here's the "stop Counting Women" link.

jberg 6:11 PM  

I loved this puzzle. It was so much fun to figure out the theme. At first, looking at FOOTNOTE FONT, I thought it was going to be a letter switch between the first and last bits, here )\O to N -- but no. I don't know how I thought of taking every other letter, but wow! I haven't read the comments yet, so maybe people have thought of many other examples, but to my mind it's quite an accomplishment.

Not much more to say, and it's too late for anyone to read this, so I'll look back at the comments now.

jberg 6:25 PM  

I would never have got SAILOR MOON either, except that when my son got married they had a wedding cake with plastic figures of Godzilla and Sailor Moon on top. She's a crossword regular, at least I've seen her twice in the last couple weeks.

@Nancy -- nice thought, but of course birds don't PRECHEW on account of their lack of teeth. Sometimes they just pick up the food with their beaks and stick it in the infants' mouths, but some birds will swallow and partially digest it, then regurgitate it to the youngsters. If you've seen "March of the Penguins" this is explained in more depth -- in the case of penguins, it lets one travel to the distant ocean, catch and eat a lot of fish, and then transport them back to its mate and baby, using its stomach instead of a shopping cart. Inventive little guys, those penguins.

jberg 6:37 PM  

@roo monster -- I wouldn't have got it either save for Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Not that I've read it, only heard of it, but that was enough. As far as I know the Brits pronounce it the same way we do, despite the odd spelling.

I've got a lithograph of Allen Ginsberg on my wall, looking at me as I write this. He was far more that a PROTEST POET, but I guess he was that, too. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts once had an exhibit of photo portraits by Elsa Dorfman using a Polaroid large-format camera, and one was of Ginsberg, standing, stark naked, with a happy smile on his face. It was incredible.

OK, three times and out.

Chris 6:49 PM  

How would you have constructed that section?

davidm 7:03 PM  

I wanted to reclue One Across (though there would have to be more squares, of course) as “Solo’s three partners” with the answer: ME MYSELF AND I. :)

Anonymoose 7:27 PM  

So the first four or five sequential odd numbered letters of the phrase become the last four or five letters of the phrase.

So what? There's nothing here. The revealer and the title make no sense.

Sandy McCroskey 7:42 PM  

I got the theme before any of the theme answers, and it helped.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that Rex liked the puzzle!

ghostoflectricity 8:29 PM  

This was my immediate flashback (to the '70s) when I solved the "prechew" clue. Funny but almost unwatchable if you have a delicate stomach, like the "Mr. Creosote" sequence in "Monty Python's Meaning of LIfe" (1983):


Monty Boy 8:38 PM  

Like many, I didn't get the theme until I read it here. Interesting but not AHA for me. As a sometimes math teacher, DEVIATION is my favorite answer.

I've skimmed the posts, but haven't seen mention of RPI happening twice in the week. Lotsa press for a small (relatively) school.

tbugnitz 9:12 PM  

There was one clever and possibly unintentional cross reference that I liked. The answer to 52A Get to the bottom of (PLUMB) comes from "plumb line", which historically is a string with a lead weight at the end. It's called a plumb line because "plumbum" is Latin for the element lead, which also is the source for the chemical symbol Pb. So it was fun to see 108A Pb (LEAD) show up later.

Anonymous 10:06 PM  

@Josh 5:00PM

Take a Midol, you'll feel better

Loren Muse Smith 6:01 AM  

@John Hnedak - I looked to see if your profile had an email, but alas no. But since you grammar-shamed Rex…just curious – do you say

The media *were* unrelenting in their digging?
The agenda *were* set in stone?

Heck. I guess if you wanna branch out and malign other words whose plurals have become English’s daily walking-around singulars, you could insist that Aida is an opus but Aida and Tosca are opera. I still use criteria as a plural, but that’s only the hypocritical part of me that doesn’t want to be judged. I imagine pretty soon, I’ll ditch criterion and get on board with the ever-changing, gloriously malleable nature of English. As it stands now, I use data as a singular and never look back. I guess for some it’s still a gray areum.

Email me if you want to take me to task on this, not because I’m afraid of being fussed at here but rather to spare the commentariat a foreign plural dust-up. (FWIW, I almost always try to take these discussions “out back” and look for an email first.)

cmusiker1 4:09 PM  

Me four on Ilya Kuryakin. I miss his style and turtlenecks.

GJetson 11:46 PM  

Same here.

rondo 10:52 AM  

Exactly what the first commenter @Joe Dipinto said. Didn’t need to read past his comment to feel justified in not liking it. 35 agonizing minutes of green paint like SWINGINGSIGN and THEFARMTEAM. I figured out the theme at the first one – SMALLTOWNSALON – I was in one yesterday and it was not *inexpensive*. OFL must have his favorite peeps to have liked this one.

I’ve actually seen AWKWAFINA somewhere, so yeah baby to her, sorry EVA Marcille, whoever you are.

Shoulda stayed in bed to not LOSESLEEP over this puz. But no, I got up to DOIT.

Burma Shave 11:21 AM  


read, “EVA ISNOTTOOINTO your bods”,
and GASPed, “Oh, just WHATARETHEODDS?”


spacecraft 1:08 PM  

I guess I expected more teeth from an Agard puzzle, but after WHAPping down ol' CHEWy I was off to the races. Seldom is a 1-a such a gimme. Thee were little pockets of resistance caused by toughish clues, but nothing to get bogged down by.

RAN into the DOD early, too. EVA Marceille wins it; numerous other EVAs get honorable mention.

I never heard of 132-across either, but luckily I read the whole clue: WHATARETHEODDS?

Theme was so-so, examples strained to fit; revealer was cute, but not to OFL's level. I was just NOTTOOINTO it. Fill OK. Par.

What's with the captcha police lately?

Uke Xensen 1:20 PM  


rainforest 4:31 PM  

My appreciation of this puzzle went up considerably when I got the revealer and dutifully went to the themers and verified the odd-letter thing. Yes, I realize this is mostly a constructor gratification effort, but I'm impressed anyway.

The clever word/letter play in the themers was fun to suss out, even if I didn't get the trick at first.

Love the word "WHILST", a word I used in my BSc thesis just for the effect.

Really, not a bad Sunday.

Diana, LIW 6:20 PM  

WHILST I often speak thusly, I must say:

Ha! Ha! Got the theme early, and used it to finish the solve. Clever. Had fun.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 7:24 PM  

"Everything Evens Out in the End" and WHAT ARE THE ODDS make for a double revealer without making the even-odd feature of the themers too easy to see. In fact, needed to come here to make sense of them.

A big Sunday puzzle needs a lot of fill, easy and tough. Today on the tougher side were SAILOR MOON, AWKWAFINA, SONG (dynasty), ILLUMINATI (as clued), and a few others. Oh, and PRECHEW was also a bit tough to swallow.

Because of their size, Sunday puzzles IMO are inherently slogs, or DRAGGY, no matter how good or clever they may otherwise be. Been doing them out of habit, and am working on cutting down but probably not breaking it altogether.

Very clever and doable puzzle by Erik Agard.

Anonymous 10:14 PM  

I'm quite surprised to see that someone was surprised to see that Rex liked this puzzle. Has he ever not liked an EA puzzle ?

Slogged through this puzzle without ever bothering to use the theme since my lame newspaper didn't italicize any of the clues. And when I did finally figure out the theme my reaction was "So what...". Like a few others I wasn't too into it, the theme, that is. But other than that it was challenging for me and worthy of praise IMO.

Joseph McGrath 4:57 PM  

I gave up on this puzzle...first time in years. I don’t think it could be classified as easy. Rechewed? I thought of that, and said to myself WTF? Misspelled Woolf. What a flusterchuck.

Joseph McGrath 5:00 PM  

I’m going to buy me a bullfrog
Watch my old lady whilst she sleeps

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