Reformed demon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer / SUN 3-24-19 / Site of 1796 Napoleon victory / Exclamation after performance of Every Breath You Take / Slapstick actor Jacques / Metaphor for aggressive political arena / Dundee dissent

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium (11:18)

THEME: "Code Switching" — familiar words with letter homonyms in them have those homonyms switched to the NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET equivalents for those homonyms, creating wackiness etc.

Theme answers:
  • BOSTON TANGO (i.e. "T", i.e. "tea")  PARTY (22A: *Ballroom dancing event for Beantown residents?)
  • YANKEE (i.e. "Y", i.e. "why") BOTHER (33A: *Annoying member of a New York baseball team?)
  • UNIFORM (i.e. "U", i.e. "you") BET (47A: *Wager in which the winner gets the loser's pants and jersey?)
  • THE PRINCESS AND THE PAPA (i.e. "P", i.e. "pea") (67A: *Duo ruling a kingdom on Take Your Daughter To Work Day?)
  • BRAVO (i.e. "B", i.e. "bee"), STING (85A: *Exclamation after a performance of "Every Breath You Take"?) 
  • CHARLIE (i.e. "C", i.e. "sea") WORLD (100A: *Amusement park named after a "Peanuts" boy?)
Word of the Day: HORAE (12D: Greek goddesses of the seasons) —
In Greek mythology the Horae (/ˈhɔːr/) or Horai (/ˈhɔːr/) or Hours (GreekὯραιHōraipronounced [hɔ̂ːraj], "Seasons") were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. [...] The number of Horae varied according to different sources, but was most commonly three: either the trio of ThalloAuxo and Carpo (goddesses of the order of nature) or Eunomia (goddess of good order and lawful conduct) and her sisters Dike (goddess of Justice) and Eirene (goddess of Peace). (wikipedia)
• • •

Well the glorious four-day streak of enjoyable puzzles comes to a crashing end with this one. The theme answers and (especially) theme clues on this one are so tortured, so unfunny, that this felt much more like a chore than a treat. I honestly didn't fully "get" the theme until I was done, even with the revealer completely filled in. I don't think there's a single answer in this grid that made me smile or think "ooh, nice." Not one. The 7+ non-theme stuff is scant and dull. TOP-LINE? What the heck is that? (57D: Five-star) Also, who knows or cares about the NATO / PHONETIC ALPHABET? At all? The only reason I know anything about it, the only place I ever see it mentioned, ever, is ... [drum roll] ... in crosswords. TEE DEE US. What is an ANYA? (99D: Reformed demon on"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). What are HAT TREES? Are those like hat racks? ETHENE? UPTREND? Honestly, these are the *high*lights. BEAR PIT!?!?!?! What kind of messed up person uses that (whatever that is) for a quote unquote metaphor. I don't even know what a BEAR PIT is, non-metaphorically, and I've never heard anyone use it as a metaphor for politics. Bear-baiting (cruel), I've heard of. BEAR PIT? Snakes go in pits. Bears go in the woods. Or so I'm told. Save the bears. Hug a bear. Shred this puzzle.

I think I should just cut out now, because the more I look at this, the less I like it. I struggled over dumb stuff like, uh, OLAF or OLAV, and CRT or LCD, and IRA / ARI or ARI / IRA. To me, LODI is a wine region in California. Or a CCR song. I had no idea about this supposed [Site of a 1796 Napoleon victory]. Wow. ANYA shmanya, what was that? And here's the thing that really irks me. No one who knows / loves "Peanuts" would clue CHARLIE (all on its own) as a "'Peanuts' boy." He's Chuck, or he's full-name Charlie Brown. I had ___ WORLD and despite being an avid "Peanuts" fan had no idea what boy could fit there. LINUS, no? SCHROEDER, no? PIGPEN, no? CHARLIE!?!?!?! Yeah, they're always calling him "Charlie," that totally checks out (/sarcasm). The cluing here and all over is just ugly. What does the THE PRINCESS AND THE PAPA clue even mean? If you take your daughter to work, she doesn't actually have a job title. She doesn't actually work. You don't let her fly the damn plane. I realize that particular themer was probably a bear (rawr!!!) to clue, but [Duo ruling a kingdom on Take Your Daughter To Work Day] is particularly clunky. Better to make PAPA refer to the Goldilocks bear (rawrrrr!!!). Gah. Make Sundays Better!!!!!  Better than ALIENEEEEEEEEE argh. I mean, BEAR PIT, really. Dear lord.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:16 AM  

Easy. Thought this was cute and clever, liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did.

Joe Dipinto 12:31 AM  

This? Was a *fantastic* Sunday puzzle -- the best one we've had for awhile. Being familiar with some NATO alphabet words helped as I was going along, but I didn't comprehend what was actually happening until I finished -- only then did I realize you had to pronounce the actual letters in order for the theme phrases to compute. Excellent!

My favorite themer is Y BOTHER? Was there a comic who used to say this in a whiny New York voice?

Anyway, NOT BAD, Trenton Charlson. ANOTHER, please. (NO TIP for the SNOOTY blogger.)

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Quicker than average because I figured out the theme early. But a slog. Sundays are the worst.

Brian 12:49 AM  


Joaquin 12:55 AM  

Rex asks, "Also, who knows or cares about the NATO / PHONETIC ALPHABET?"
Answer: Those of us who have served in uniform know and care about the phonetic alphabet. As a Vietnam vet I can tell you that I used that system several times a day for over a year of my life.

Anonymous 1:41 AM  

Easy, but getting to the bottom (I pretty much went smoothly down) and finding that such mysterious phrases as YANKEEBOTHER were formed from the phonetic alphabet was far, FAR, from enjoyable.



Jeez Rex sometimes you're such a hick. I've been using the NATO alphabet since I was an eleven year old boy scout, used it in college and of course the military, and use it in computer science to this day when verbally communicating code strings. Nothing sounds slicker.

Except maybe for the WWII Allied code, which I prefer if truth be told. ABLE, BAKER, CHARLIE, DOG, FOX, EASY . . . the NATO code is superior and less ambiguous but the Allied code sounds cooler. I also prefer the 48-star U.S. flag because it looks nicer. Alaska and Hawaii are still territories anyway

The LAPD has its own phonetic alphabet. It starts with ADAM, like ADAM-12. I don't remember the rest but you should call them up and ask whoever answers the phone to recite it. Make it sound like you're from Internal Affairs, and promise them a promotion when they finish.

Other than that I liked this puzzle a lot.

Carola 2:20 AM  

Halfway down the grid, with no idea what was going on, I stopped, determined to figure out the theme, in order to have a chance at the fun of guessing the remaining three. Eventually. the penny dropped: my knowledge of the NATO ALPHABET is sparse, and I didn't know UNIFORM or YANKEE, but TANGO and PAPA clued me in, after which BRAVO and CHARLIE and the reveal were fast write-ins. I agree with @Rex that the theme phrases are mostly rather tortured, but eadh homonym provided its own little jolt of pleasure.

Other pleasures - the nice longer names: PROSPERO, SISYPHUS, GALATEA, LOTHARIO; AVAST over NAVY; the voom-less VA VA + OOH LA LA.

SouthsideJohnny 3:08 AM  

Totally agree with OFL on this one. Once again, a NYT effort that tries to be too clever for its own good. Rex pointed out most of the stupidity . . . Really though, ALIENEE ? BEAR PIT ? LODI ? ANYA ? Day in and day out, there are (alleged) words and phrases that nobody has ever, ever spoken in their lifetime. This thing just flat out sucked. I’m definitely going to be in the minority here, since I am M-Th proficient. The seven day solvers here will ignore the garbage and rave about the rest, which at the end of the day is probably a good thing - diversity is good - definitely could do with less nonsense though. If only 1% of the entire population has ever heard of something, it should be forever banned from a M-Th or Sunday puzzle.

Hartley70 4:21 AM  

I had a TOOEASY solve here and I don’t even know the entire NATO ALPHABET off the top of my head. I do know TANGO for T, however, so that gave the theme away early. I had to stop and wrap my head around the clue and theme for the letter P because it felt so awkward. On the UPside, this puzzle zipped along so it was never a boring slog and I learned the U and P words, although I personally would have chosen PRINCESS over PAPA. Ha, I bet a woman didn’t make that decision!

Anonymous 4:36 AM  

This was better than OFL’s write up indicates. Not the best Sunday ever but quite good as Shortz-era Sundays go.

jammon 4:53 AM  

Rex, you missed DOORPOST. I have sold, machined, assembled, installed a bazillion doors and NEVER heard that. It's a JAMB.

Anonymous 5:11 AM  

Taking stock=rustling Taking fish or game animals=poaching

Justus 5:35 AM  

This was one of the easiest Sundays ever. My only hold up: putting in sail air rather than salt air.

Enjoyable enough, although I like a tougher challenge.

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

One big problem with the themes is that the relationship of answer to clue is inconsistent.

BOSTONTANGOPARTY is a correct and clever answer to "Ballroom dancing event for Beantown residents."

YANKEEBOTHER is also a correct answer to its clue, though much less amusing than the previous one. UNIFORMBET is pretty dull too. I did like BRAVOSTING.

But THEPRINCESSANDTHEPAPA is not a correct answer to its clue. If Papa, the king, is taking his daughter, the princess, to work, they are not a duo ruling the kingdom; only the king is the ruler. I had the PRINCESS part and kept looking for some kind of remainder to the answer that involved the king and queen.

Even worse is CHARLIEWORLD. Sea World is an amusement park. Charlie World is not.

And much as I admit it is an actual word, ALIENEE totally and completely irritates me. Also ETHENE. Easy enough to see that ETHANE was wrong, but still. Per Google, same as ethylene, which is by far the more common name.

And KISSERS as the answer for traps is just vulgar. Not wrong, not disgusting, not inexcusable. Simply vulgar.

turkeyneck 6:10 AM  

Ho hum, frankly.

Sophronisba 6:52 AM  

I was overjoyed to see 99D! There are so many baseball/football clues that I know absolutely nothing about; it was nice to see one of my favorite shows (other than Game of Thrones) represented for a change.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

We enjoyed solving the puzzle, but didn't "get" the theme right away.

We're not military people, but disparaging the NATO phonetic alphabet and being so dismissive of it is a cheap shot, Rex. Someone with your professional position and background should not need to make such a gratuitous comment; that should be beneath you. Pity.

People who have travelled a lot in Europe have heard of this well-known bear pit:
The Bärengraben, or Bear Pit, is a tourist attraction in the Swiss capital city of Bern. It is a bear pit, or enclosure housing bears, situated at the eastern edge of the old city of Bern, next to the Nydeggbrücke and the River Aar. Although still in use, the Bärengraben has been supplemented since 2009 by the adjacent BärenPark, a larger and more natural enclosure alongside the River Aar. [Wikipedia]

Lewis 6:59 AM  

It was two puzzles in one for me, first the solve, then figuring out the clever theme concept. Random observations:
* AVAST abutting NAVY.
* I keep looking at ALSORAN and thinking it is an inhabitant of Alsor
* HAT TREES brings fruit trees to mind, because Carmen Miranda.

mmorgan 7:26 AM  

This made me wish I had timed myself because I absolutely tore through it in what felt like blazing speed. Didn’t even stop to think about whether it was any good. On reflection, it was fine — not amazing but not terrible. I wasn’t even aware that I knew as much of the NATO phonetic alphabet as I did, and the ones I didn’t (UNIFORM, YANKEE) were easily inferable.

Jofried 7:37 AM  

I found it easy but enjoyable. I wasn’t prepared for the rant by OFL. I feel like someone needs to shake him and say, “Get a grip! It’s just a crossword puzzle!” He just seems so angry when he doesn’t like the puzzle, poor man.

Z 7:39 AM  

Let’s see, take a word that is the homophone of a letter and then replace said letter homophone with the word for that letter from the NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET. Yep, if you’re going to do this the cluing of the ensuing “wackiness” is essential. Not a single smile was had. Not even a smirk. Nothing to make the whole transformation worth doing. Meh. Why bother?

Hey, here’s an idea, letters aren’t really all that interesting. Maybe build puzzles around word play instead.

Small Town Blogger 7:41 AM  

All I can say us “Bravo to Papa Charlie for doing the tango in a Yankees uniform”! Loved this one, except I wanted the 6 randomly-chosen letters or code words to form a recognizable word or a phrase - that would have been a nice touch. BTW, I am a woman who was never a vet, but still even I knew must of the NATO Alphabet - got what was going on after the first tango clue.

CS 7:42 AM  

As usual, an underserved rant from Rex.

I got the gist between Charlie World and most of the theme revealer (worked on that section to try to get it). What in the world is Rex talking about that Charlie Brown isn't referred to as "Charlie"? Yes he is. I am square in the Charlie Brown generation so know what I'm talking about. Honestly, that was a ridiculous carp.

Anyway, this was fun enough (although not the most sparkling puzzle I've ever done). And yes, these alpha codes are absolutely fair game. Especially for puzzlers!

Happy spring


Anonymous 7:46 AM  

"Rex" are you a "Buffy" virgin?! How else could you not know ANYA (a.k.a. Anyanka), one of the favorite characters in that series?

Joe R. 7:51 AM  

I can guarantee you that a number of fanboys will go “Squee!” today over 99D. I had -NYA before looking at the clue, and almost wrote in eNYA without checking, but was very happy to see that clue when I did check. If you’ve never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’re missing out on one of the great works of television.

VAVA-voom, on the other hand, I can happily live without.

Todd 8:04 AM  

Being a pilot I sort of enjoyed the idea of the phonetic code. I agree Alienee is the ugliest word I seen in a long time and as I type it spell check is rejecting it as a word.

pabloinnh 8:10 AM  

Got it at CHARLIEWORLD=Sea World, and as I was solving counter-clockwise, the alphabet answer went in and the light went on.

Sure, some of the clues/answers are goofy, but some of us like goofy.

Fun Sunday.

pmdm 8:30 AM  

There's no accounting for taste. Based upon some of the comments, I am not the only person who appreciated the humor in this puzzle.

The basic principle is this: if you don't find something humorous, or if something (like the NATO alphabet) does not interest you, make sure you project your feelings on the rest of mankind. Because it's obvious to you that everyone else should think the way you do.

If that precept works so well in the political world, why not extend it to everything?

To repeat: I enjoyed the puzzle, maybe more than usual. Perhaps I am too easily amused.

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Surprised Rex didn't link Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" on this post.

Christy 9:01 AM  

I have coworkers who are veterans so I’m familiar with the NATO alphabet. That made the puzzle pretty fun, actually. But if you’ve never used it this was probably a slog.

OffTheGrid 9:12 AM  

Google reveals the following:

BEARPIT- A question and answer forum with a group of politicians.

ALIENEE- one to whom property is transferred.

DOORPOST- another term for doorjamb

I'm not sure why a commenter thought Trap/KISSER was vulgar. Each is slang for mouth. Seems OK

This puzzle for me was what Sunday should be. It's a goofy, clever, concoction that was a very fun solve. The theme answers don't require LOL or ROFL. A slight chuckle with a groan is very Sundayish. But then, I love puns, too.

kitshef 9:16 AM  

The more I think about this one, the more impressed I am with the theme.

I never realized until solving this puzzle how little sense the Pandora story makes. All the evils escape, and thus are loose in the world. Hope stays in the box. Shouldn’t hope have also escaped in order to be loose in the world?

ANYA was a gimme. She’s the cutest of the Scoobies with her lips as red as rubies and her firm yet supple … tight embrace.

Todd 9:18 AM  

What's with that video having the painting "Death of Marat"as a cover? And despite it claiming to be Bird's finest work I beg to differ. Oh No is far better.

Mark 9:21 AM  

Ditto Ditto. Don't care what Rex says; phonetic alphabet is just fun trivia. And definitely shows up outside of crosswords. Ever watch a movie with a jet pilot? Who wants to say something boring like B9 (yawn...) when you can say something rad like Bravo Niner?

Seastate5 9:22 AM  

Did not get the theme until the give-away at the end, but still had to smile at the use of the NATO alphabet. Who uses it? Just be glad it's there the next time you board an airplane, it allows pilots and controllers to communicate with a very small chance of misunderstanding.
The interesting aspect of it is its development history. Each letter was chosen very deliberately, obviously for ease of understanding over the radio, but also to include several of the languages of NATO countries, drawing on English, French, and Italian. Plus, most of the words were nearly international in terms of understanding: Romeo, Juliet, Bravo, Tango, Foxtrot...I could go on.
All in all, pretty good puzzle.

Hungry Mother 9:25 AM  

Since I was a commo chief in the ARMY and spent a lot of my career in computing, this was a natural theme for me. Fast solve for me today.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Found it quite challenging for a Sunday and liked it -- even though I wouldn't know the NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET if I fell over it. Whose ALPHABET, again? I knew there was some sort of phonetic alphabet that some people like to use some of the time -- Military people? Space traveler people? Techie people? -- but I didn't have any idea who the alphabet belonged to. Ah, NATO. I see.

I did vaguely remember that TANGO=T, so I picked up the theme at the first theme answer and this made my solve easier. But hardly TOO EASY. I was completely dependent upon identifying the cross-referenced college (ARMY) at 110A in order to get the NAVY section: the section which included lots of stuff I didn't know like BRAVO STING and ANYA. Thought I'd DNF there, but didn't.

An excellent clue for SISYPHUS (88D) and a brilliant one for NIAGARA (34D). And I need help, everyone. Can someone fashion a foolproof mnemonic system whereby I shall always know whether the answer is OLAV or OLAF? Thanks in advance.

Joe in Canada 9:38 AM  

generally agree with OFL. theme could have been fun but in practice was not clever.
But. Never heard of bear pit? And NATO phonetic alphabet obscure? Really?
ps back up to 23 images I had to click for the recaptcha.

Bethany 9:52 AM  

Great and enjoyable puzzle. I know and care about the NATO alphabet and hear it every day at work (CUSIP). The reviewer doesn’t seem to understand that there are people who have different experiences from his. My favorite answer was The Princess and the Papa. Thanks Mr. Charlson and, if you’re reading this, please don’t listen to Rex’s hate. He’s just a miserable guy unhappy with his lot in life.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

So right, Joaquin. I usually take OFL's comments with a grain of salt, but his dissing of the NATO alphabet really got my dander up for the reason you stated. Also...thought it was a fun puzzle.

JJ Kahle 9:54 AM  

I am so with Ned Moore here...

Amy 9:59 AM  

haha kept trying to make it Boston Fox Trot something because of this !

Anonymous 9:59 AM  


Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Lol!! And though I've never watched Buffy, I'm aware that it was a THING for millions and millions. Random demon or not, Anya is a fairly common female name. As I so often do, find it odd that he hasn't heard of something, or at least acknowledged its existence!

clk 10:18 AM  

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Rex. I have no relation to the military but the theme was very clear from, you know, everyday life in the world. How can you possibly think it’s obscure?
Nitpicking the princess and the papa is ridiculous. If a CPA takes his daughter to work, she might climb onto his lap and say, “Look, Daddy, I’m an accountant!” That doesn’t actually make her an accountant, you know. Why couldn’t a princess do the same thing?
I thought this was fun and got a few smiles out of it and learned a couple of things (JAKARTA’s former name and Napoleon’s victory at LODI, for example.) I don’t really expect a lot more from a puzzle.

Suzafish 10:23 AM  

Very fun and swift solve. Yep, lots of us out here get the NATO alphabet, or the slightly altered one used at sea. Rex, darlin’, take a vacation. Get out there and see a bit of the wide world. Bust a layer of those provincial scales off. You’re in a peevish rut. It’s not that entertaining.

Meghan 10:27 AM  

And not a random demon, but a major character from season three through seven

Birchbark 10:29 AM  

PROSPERO -- I watched a double-feature of Shakespeare movies last night, both starring occasional crossword-fill Helen MIRREN at very different stages of her career. In "The Tempest" (2010), as a BROODing "PROSPERa," she delivers the unlikeable, self-absorbed side of the protagonist well. Very high marks for the farewell-to-magic musings at the end -- easy to see the Bard hanging it up in his last major play. Far more interesting and entertaining, if you can see past the '70s dorkiness, is her Rosalind/Ganymede thirty years earlier in "As You Like It (1978)" -- bursting with life, fun and humor in the dialogues-in-disguise with the lovestruck Orlando. Plus the male leads look like members of REO Speedwagon. It's available on Amazon Prime.

@Southsidejohnny (3:08) -- I don't want to normalize poor fill. But if you stay with it long enough, some of these obscure and roadblocking fill words become familiar, even to the point of helping you solve more quickly. For me, an early turning point in this progression was the architect I M PEI. I went from "how am I supposed to know that" to "nice to see you again." In a good puzzle, these words are catalysts, which support clever long answers. In a not-so-good puzzle, they're like empty carbs.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Enjoyed this more than most Sundays. The aha was more a chuckle than a guffaw, but genuine nonetheless. Loved the clue for NIAGARA (34D).

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I finished but was one typo off from happy. And I didn't fully realize what the theme accomplished until I got here. Charlie World!!!

This is a GREAT Sunday puzzle! Used to love listening to husband, Lt. Col. ret., phonetically spell something over the phone when the situation called for a random string of letters like an email address. Sexy.

webwinger 10:37 AM  

Found this an OK Sunday puzzle. The RexRant was definitely over the top, but made some decent points, e.g. that Charlie Brown is never ever referred to as just Charlie.

NATO alphabet reminded me of Dr. Strangelove, where it was used by the B52 bomber crew. One of the greatest, darkest, and funniest movies of all time, packing as strong a punch now as it did in the 1960s

Linda 10:41 AM  

I try to look at Rex's comments as simply his blog, his opinion. But sometimes his narrow-minded view of things that he's not familiar with or that for some other reason don't please him is just striking. Today is definitely one of those times.

puzzlehoarder 10:43 AM  

I randomly followed the path of least resistance through the fill and wound up filling in the revealer at 115A before any of the other theme answers. This made little difference in the solve. Even knowing the theme I just stuck with the fill and pretended (as usual) that I was doing a themeless. The biggest challenge was I solved just before going to bed last night and kept falling asleep.

I learned some "new" trivia. Looking over the xwordinfo lists for GALATEA and LODI I can see why I needed the crosses for those. For the latter it's just the Napoleon connection. The CCR song has never been used as a clue for LODI but it ought to be. I've never read "Pygmalion" and the preceding appearances of GALATEA were either on Sundays that I didn't do or other week day puzzles too far in the past to recall.

Today's pop culture references for ERIN and ANYA were well out my personal experience. ELROY on the other hand was right in the sweet spot.

Not a bad puzzle just didn't do much for me.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Sharp’s comment about the NATO phonetic alphabet is very revealing. Since he doesn’t know or care about something then no one else does either. It seems pretty immature.

davidm 10:44 AM  

It’s pretty hard to get the theme when — literally — the very last thing you complete writing is NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET. That’s what happened to me. I had NATO but somehow was hung up on some other letters. I had completed all the themers and knew it had something to do with military jargon, seeing BRAVO and TANGO and CHARLIE, but kept looking in vain for DELTA? ECHO? Not knowing the whole NATO phonetic alphabet made the others opaque. Also, I thought, wrongly obviously, that this was U.S. Army code jargon. But heck, getting the hint to the themers as the last answer on the grid, and then hearing the penny drop, made this fun for me. Getting THE PRINCESS AND THE PAPA early on quickly opened up a lot of other solvable real estate for me.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick 10:46 AM  

Agree with your gripes about BEARPIT and ANYA, etc, but I think your criticism of the theme is too harsh Rex - a large proportion of the population will have some familiarity with the code, from Scouts, Cadets, uniformed service, etc, and everyone should learn it! Makes you sound like much less of an ass on the phone when you have to spell something out: "A as in Alpha, L as in Lima", as opposed to "A as in... Allen? L as in...... uhm... Loser?" It's a great skill and piece of knowledge to possess.

Rug Crazy 10:47 AM  

I'm with Rex. Brad Pitt, yes. Bear Pit, no!

Pamela 10:52 AM  

As I grew up in Massachusetts, I got the theme from Boston Tango. As a very non-military woman, I still managed to suss out the other theme words without too much difficulty. I’m oretty ignorant where sports are concerned, too, but don’t whine when the puzzle is full of those references. All-in-all, I found this one not too difficult, and clever and fun enough to enjoy.

Nancy 11:13 AM  

My nomination for the funniest comment today goes to @Joe R.* at 7:51: "If you've never watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer, you're missing out on one of the great works of television."

Let's see: Which one does not belong?
Mad Men
Downton Abbey
Six Feet Under
Upstairs Downstairs
Ken Burns' The Civil War
Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Since one is not supposed to make fun of something one has never seen, I went to YouTube to take a gander at Buffy. I gave her every advantage. I went to "the 10 All-Time Best Scenes from BTVS". (Heaven forbid that I had gone to the 10 Worst All-Time Scenes from BTVS). I couldn't get through the first 20 seconds of the first scene. It was, in no particular order, extremely noisy, extremely violent, and extremely creepy. But to each his own, of course.

*Just teasing you a bit, Joe. You're more than entitled to love what you love. But maybe you oversold it to the rest of us just a wee, little bit...

Z 11:17 AM  

Such fascinating logic. “Since I know something it is common and someone who calls it obscure is immature, unhappy, and narrow-minded.” All you defenders of the theme would do well to remember that when you point a finger there are three more pointing back at you. Pilots and veterans are a small minority of Americans. Guys into vicarious heroism through war movies and TV are less of a minority but are still not the norm. So, yeah, the NATO PHONECTIC ALPHABET is obscure. Crossword theme worthy? I’d think so. I do think most people are at least aware that such a thing exists, even if most of us haven’t an actual clue as to the actual ALPHABET. But, Puhleeze, let's not pretend this niche thing is in anyway a common part of American culture. I’ll guarantee more 40 year-olds know ANYA.

@Birchbark - I much prefer your “empty calories” metaphor to the “styrofoam peanuts” metaphor.

Brookboy 11:32 AM  

It seems to me that OFL really blew this one. His dismissive rant about the NATO phonetic alphabet smacks of ignorance to anyone who has served in the military, as so many have already noted. And that element of the puzzle is key to understanding and enjoying the puzzle. Yes, there were some groaners, as there were some flashes of wit (16D, 34D). But overall, it was a pretty reasonable Sunday puzzle. Like many others, I enjoyed both the solve and the gentle amusement of the theme clues.

Gotta go now. My big orange cat wants his food, and he wants it NOW.

Suzie Q 11:40 AM  

When I have to spell something over the phone I like to make up my own alphabet. It's a sort of stream-of-thought thing and can be fun.
I'd rather do that than muddle through any of the official ones because I'd surely muddle them up.
Looking back on the puzzle now I should have enjoyed it more than I did. Ah well.

Sometimes the comments that suggest Rex should "get a life" are more annoying than his grouchiness. Do you all really think you are going to change him? Do you really want to?

Outside The Box 11:41 AM  

Totally agree with Rex on this one. Tortured cluing, not funny, not clever, boring.

JC66 11:48 AM  


Your opinion that only a minority of people are familiar with the NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET is much more reasonable than @Rex's ("Also, who knows or cares about the NATO / PHONETIC ALPHABET? At all? The only reason I know anything about it, the only place I ever see it mentioned, ever, is ... [drum roll] ... in crossword") and is the reason he generates the responses he does.

Newboy 11:53 AM  

Finished easily with Mr. Pencil chiming in my ear but no clue to SEA world from CHARLIE. Amazing how blind to the obvious one can be. I’m firmly in line with Z’s observation.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  


oldactor 12:01 PM  

Just last night a friend gave me his email address over the phone using the nato code.

We're both vets.

Bravo for Niagara!

FrankStein 12:02 PM  

I thought it was a clever theme, well-executes. Some ingenious clueing. Rex seems out of sorts today. Bear Pit is a common phrase. I think that’s why they call the stock exchange a pit. @birchbark, have you seen The Hollow Crown series of Shakespeare plays. Curious of your take on those, or are you primarily a Helen Mirren fan? Worth a look: Age of Consent with James Mason.

mbr 12:07 PM  

@clk and others: I was never a Boy Scout, a soldier, or a pilot, but when promos for Tina Fey's not-so-successful movie "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" came out, it was clear as day to me how the title came about, and most likely it was assumed that the public in general would get it without seeing the movie.

Banana Diaquiri 12:11 PM  

if you consult the wiki, yule see that ABLE, BAKER, CHARLIE, etc. is what geezers remember. not to mention, there's a raft of such alphabets.

I grew up in MA, and lived in Boston and environs a few times. they ain't no such thing as a Boston tea party dance. nobody in Boston drinks tea. and only the Beacon Hill set do ballroom dances, and they don't count.

Taffy-Kun 12:12 PM  

Birchbark: do yourself a huge favor and spend $4:99 on the “Heuristic Shakespeare” app. Think of Cliff notes on steroids. I never enjoyed the Tempest before. Great actors : Ian McCellan, Derek Jacobi etc. They plan to do many Shakespeare plays - can’t wait for Macbeth.

O. Bradley 12:18 PM  

Never served in the military. But whenever I call my financial institutions or my cable company or my airline or my [insert any other vendor here], I always use the NATO phonetic alphabet when giving my name, account information, reservation code, order code, etc. It ensures that my Z doesn't become a C, my X doesn't become an S, and my M doesn't become an N. I can't imagine not using it. It's second nature, as I assume it is for anyone who frequently engages in commerce over the telephone.

But, of course, now I know what an idiot I have been. Z had decreed it so.

Aphid Larue 12:21 PM  

Fun theme, easy puzzle. I thought alienist was related to psychotherapy or exorcism. Glad to learn a new archaic word.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

I enjoyed this one and figured out the theme despite halving only passing knowledge of the NATO alphabet (i.e., I don’t have it memorized but know what it is).

Anyone know where LMS is?

sixtyni yogini 12:33 PM  

Easy, interesting. Liked it, but the theme not so much.

nyc_lo 12:40 PM  

Skewed to the easy side for me. Definitely some clunkers in the fill as noted by many above, but all dechiperable with crosses. Those flipping out on THEPRINCESSANDTHEPAPA might be taking things a tad too literally. A princess is part of the royal family, in line to the throne, and probably issues a significant amount of orders on any given day. Totally fair clueing, I’d say.

Taffy-Kun 12:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
OffTheGrid 12:42 PM  

I watch TV and go to movies. Therefore I am familiar with BRAVO, CHARLIE etc. It's not that esoteric.

@Nancy. Never watched Buffy. Tried to watch Madmen. Terrible misogynist garbage.

old timer 12:45 PM  

So the first few semtemces of the review part of the blog are reasonable. The puzzle was less than delightful and had many flaws. Then...

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT! In many, many readings of this blog, I have never seen such a bizarre display of ignorance. OFL seems actually proud to be ignorant of what most regular puzzle solvers know or have at least heard of. I dare not mention whom that reminds me of. Indeed maybe the entire review is intended as an allegory.

I have visited the BEARPIT in Bern, and certainly have heard about it long before, and knew, in general, that BEARS were often kept in pits (large pits of course, with space for the BEARS to do amusing things). I am like probably the majority of those who own older homes. I have as HAT TREE near the front door, where I keep hats, umbrellas, and my raincoat and a light jacket. They must be popular, for a local dealer makes dozens of them every year. And when we remodeled and added on to that house, the contractor put up DOORPOSTs. The jamb is the wood the door closes against, but the POST is referred to as such when the space for the door is framed by your carpenter. Indeed the jamb, which is visible in the finished product, may be nailed onto the POST, which ia in that case not seen.

I did not know that PAPA is PHONETIC code for P, but I certainly have known since early childhood the story of the PRINCESS who was so delicate she could feel a pea underneath a raft of mattresses.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Yes, she does.

DeeJay 12:58 PM  

I do hope LMS is on vacation and I very much look forward to her return.

HSCW Editor 1:02 PM  

Yeah, as so many others have said, a majority of people are familiar with at least some of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, even if they don't know its origin.

Customer reps who do general telephone support - even non-technical support - often employ it in relaying bits of information such as account number or confirmation number. Tech support commonly uses the NATO alphabet for reading out serial numbers and other long alpha-numeric strings.

And, yes, in addition to scouts, military, amateur radio, etc., let's not forget that aviation uses the NATO alphabet - not just air traffic control and every single pilot worldwide, pro or amateur, but millions of others employed in aviation in various capacities. For example, all flight attendants and all ground personnel have to learn the NATO alphabet. After all, it was created by an International aviation group, and then adopted by pretty much every large agency involved in aviation or telecommunication. Anywhere.

It's pervasive worldwide, cuts across thousands of industries, and has a place in the general public consciousness. How can that NOT be crossword worthy?

robber 1:16 PM  

Rex and i usually agree on good/bad (often not on difficulty level), but i liked this puzzle......a bit on the easy side for a Sunday but i enjoyed the theme. Lets hope WS can keep it going for a second week in a row.

RooMonster 1:20 PM  

Hey All !

Yes, MIKE, not mic! (Har)

I use it when picking up people at the private airports. Tail numbers of private planes has letters, E.g. VR, and numbers, so you tell the person you're here to pick up VICTOR ROMEO 123. I also used it when I was in the ARMY.

If I had to throw a number at the %, it's probably around 33% of people/jobs that would use it, hardly obscure.

Liked the puz overall. Writeovers at DOORjamb-POST, tko-WBA, rmn-HHH (thinking Nixon), DRyer-DRIER, and finished with my infamous one-letter DNF, HATTRiES/GALATiA (even though HAT TRiES aren't a thing, I couldn't see the forest for the TREES :-))

Nice puz, Trenton. Don't let the bastards get you down.

Thought of @Aketi at JUJITSU


Paul Harrington 1:23 PM  

Good rant, although Anya and Hattrees are nothing to get upset about.

Irish Miss 1:26 PM  

I believe LMS is at the ACPT in Stamford, Ct.

Brett 1:33 PM  


Lots of complaints about other clues, but I'm confused about the relation between THRILLS and SENDS? We got it off crosses, but even after reading all of the definitions of both words, still don't understand. Any help?

The Bard 1:46 PM  

The Tempest, Act III, scene II

CALIBAN: As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a
sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island.

Merry Wives of Windsor , Act I, scene I

SLENDER: I had rather walk here, I thank you. I bruised
my shin th' other day with playing at sword and
dagger with a master of fence; three veneys for a
dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot
abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your
dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?

ANNE PAGE: I think there are, sir; I heard them talked of.

SLENDER: I love the sport well but I shall as soon quarrel at
it as any man in England. You are afraid, if you see
the bear loose, are you not?

ANNE PAGE: Ay, indeed, sir.

SLENDER: That's meat and drink to me, now. I have seen
Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by
the chain; but, I warrant you, the women have so
cried and shrieked at it, that it passed: but women,
indeed, cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favored
rough things.

JC66 1:53 PM  


You SEND me.

Birchbark 2:01 PM  

@FrankStein (12:02) -- I like Shakespeare's Histories best of all and see great practical value in them in business and otherwise. So yes to multiple readings of four plays known as the Henriad and to multiple watchings of The Hollow Crown, particularly the first series. Tops for me is Henry IV, part 1 -- Falstaff and Prince Hal, Hotspur being Hotspur, Mrs. Weasley as Mistress Quickly, and of course Jeremy Irons as the king. But also Richard II throughout, and especially Patrick Stewart's dying "This royal throne of kings, etc." Beautiful settings.

@Taffy-Kun (12:12) -- Watched the trailer for the Heuristic Shakespeare app and it looks useful. I don't have an iPad but but there are a few in the family so will study further on this -- thanks.

@Z (11:17) -- Forgot to mention that I sort of like empty carbs, which may explain why poor fill isn't always upsetting.

@TheBard (1:46) -- Agreed.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

I love you, Rex. Your writing today really made me laugh.
Keep on.

clk 2:07 PM  

I’d say it’s much more common knowledge than the zillions of obscure sportsballers of yore we are so frequently plagued with. Has there EVER been a week without some baseball player’s name in the grid?

Kevin 2:23 PM  

I hated this puzzle. Lots of trash.

I want to extend Rex’s thoughts on ALIENEE. I’ve been a lawyer and law professor for over 25 years. I have never heard any use of that word. At all.

I don’t deny that it IS a word, but I’ve never seen it in use. Everyone would just say BUYER or HEIR or some other more specific word.

Kim Hamilton 2:23 PM  

OK. Please be kind. This is my first comment after years of reading The Rex Blog. I am an enthusiastic but mediocre solver, so I stand in awe of anyone who can get past Wednesday without help. However, I loved this puzzle. I’m a ham radio operator (drawn into it reluctantly by a geeky husband), so the code-switching was just plain FUN. I felt proud and successful, and puzzled it through all on my own. Yay, me!

old timer 2:47 PM  

A few things:

(1) I was *not* kind to OFL today. He approved my comment anyway. The man may be often wrong, but he has integrity. I like that.

(2) If you want to buy a paper copy of today's Magazine (or of course the entire Sunday edition) you will be delighted. A delightful Split Decisions by Fred Piscop. And some first-rate articles. Today and yesterday the Times seems to have gotten over its TDS in favor of giving us plenty of real news and readable features.

(3) Come back @LMS! I miss you, and can only hope you decided to take a trip to Switzerland to see the Bernese bears.

Northwest Runner 3:14 PM  

I'll begin by saying I am member of Will's demographic cohort. With that settled, I found the title of this puzzle cringe worthy. Old white guys who don't need to code switch should stay away from trying to be cutesy with the term.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

I often visit this site just to see how angry Rex will be with today’s puzzle. I used to find his usual pique somewhat amusing. However, this will be my final visit. I have grown too tired of all the complaining, whining, grousing, lamenting, etc. etc.etc.

The amusement factor has expired for me. I don’t require Rex’s umbrage to inform me whether or not I should approve of Will Shortz’s editorial decisions.

Masked and Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Phonetical Phabet! Got the theme mcguffin early off BOSTONTANGOPARTY, probably cuz I did a short coded hitch in the military. Knowin the theme sure helped with the nanosecond management, for the rest of the solvequest.

Generally, I thought the theme was A-ok and the fillins were semi-solid. Theme at least tried for a little bit of humor, especially on UNIFORMBET.

staff weeject pick: HHH. Better clue: {Etas}. Honrable mention to T N' T. Better clue: {Trues??}.

@RP: Notice any subtle Ow de Speration, on BEARPIT? har. Does the BEAR PIT in the woods?!?

Thanx for a nice, encoded SunPuz, Mr. Charlson.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

davidm 3:32 PM  

Hi, Roo Monster, thanks for the whole NATO alphabet. I knew some of these — ALPHA BRAVO CHARLIE DELTA ECHO FOXTROT — but I don’t think I knew any beyond those. So, I learned something new today, which I love!

The more I look back on this puzzle, the more I like it, contra Rex, who, charming curmudgeon that he is, hates it the more that he looks back on it. :-D The main reason I got all bollixed up on NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET is that I assumed, from the get-go, that the clue wanted some kind of communication device, and I already had NATO and PHONE, so I’m thinking, sure, it’s some kind of telephone! But what kind? NATO PHONE HOTLINE? NATO PHONE SCRAMBLER? Gah! Also, I was plagued with sometimes inexplicable problems on the down crosses for this clue; it took me a ridiculously long time to get SISYPHUS, even though I’m quite familiar with the myth and with Camus’ existentialist tract, The Myth of Sisyphus. Couldn’t easily get MCS because to me it should me EMCEES, and I have NEVER see it as MCS. Also, never heard of ADELE; I thought the clue wanted Fred Astaire’s dancing partner, and obviously that did not work. So, there ya go! In the end, a lotta fun. :-)

albatross shell 3:37 PM  

Empty carbs can be beautiful and delicious.
Styrofoam peanuts far better metaphor for bad fill that leads to nothing good.

Sends- thrills. See Sam Cooke: You send
Me, honest you do.

Hat trees in some homes and many store displays. Bear pit fine also. I've heard it as a political reference and Google and dictionaries seem to agree.

I think Rex maybe right about Chuck and Charlie Brown. Seemed wrong to me at first. Don't know how I never noticed.

As long as your obscurity has more reasonable crosses, who cares? In fact if you have to look up one word to get 2 so what? If you must do every puzzle completely to be happy, keep your whining to yourself. I thought deseret was totally obscure unless you are a Mormon or live in Utah. SO What? Maybe I am wrong and everyone knows it but me. Glad to learn it.

Joe Dipinto 3:41 PM  

@Kim Jamul -- Yay, you! Nice to have you posting here. Please continue to post in the future. (FYI, I thought the theme was FUN, too.)

FrankStein 3:56 PM  

@Birchbark, glad to hear it. I was fascinated by Richard II even though the Christ motif was overplayed. Excellent TV.

TomAz 4:05 PM  

Rex? Really? Yankee... Hotel... Foxtrot... I know you absolutely must know that. C'mon man!

This theme was very very solid. Well done, just what a Sunday should be. Some of the fill was less that spectacular (UPTREND? HORAE? really?) but so what. This is a good puzzle.

hannibal 4:33 PM  

The themers are:
Boston T Party
Y Bother
U Bet
The Princess and the P
B Sting
C World

Anonymoose 4:49 PM  

I got SISYPHUS but penicillin took care of it.

Margaret 4:57 PM  

Loved it. Let's have more like this!

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

@davidm 3:32, Adele Astaire was Fred's older sister and his dancing partner on the vaudeville circuit and on Broadway.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

A hat tree is a vertical post with several upward-curving hooks upon which hats -- fedoras, usually -- were placed. A hat rack is a horizontal shelf. I'm dazzled that anyone over the age of twenty is unfamiliar with this term. It makes me think Rex might be confused by "cloakroom," "hat check girl," or come to think of it, "fedora."

tea73 5:39 PM  

Not only am I familiar with the NATO phonetic alphabet and not a veteran or an aviator, I also know the GERMAN spelling alphabet which goes like this: A = Anton; B = Berta; C = Cäsar; D = Dora; E = Emil; F = Friedrich; G = Gustav; H = Heinrich; I = Ida; J = Julius; K = Kaufmann; L = Ludwig; M = Martha; N = Nordpol; O = Otto; P = Paula; Q = Quelle; R = Richard; S = Samuel; T = Theodor; U = Ulrich; V = Viktor; W = Wilhelm; X = Xanthippe; Y = Ypsilon; Z = Zacharius; Ä = Ärger; Ö = Ökonom; Ü = Übermut; ß = Esszet

I don't think I ever actually learned the part with the umlauts though. I worked in an architectural office for three or four years and we used it all the time. My kid loved military video games and liked the NATO alphabet.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is my favorite Wilco album. Heavy Metal Drummer is my favorite Wilco song.

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

Hey -- thanks to JOHN XRAY. Did not know there was a difference between the NATO and Allied phonetic alphabets. Not the most useful fact, I admit, but I'm still happy to know.

Herc Nav 6:19 PM  

Uninteresting overall. But from my tiny corner of the universe, the theme us more accurately the International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) alphabet. ICAO, as of 1947, is a UN agency charged with promoting safe navigation and piloting to help promote greater international cooperation after two world wars. All part of now much-maligned Pax Americana on the part of short-sighted America-first troglodytes. The alphabet (as well as standard for all crew members to use English in radio communications) is designed to ensure clarity of the content of radio transmissions when clarity of the radio itself is sketchy. We are all safer due to the efforts of the post-war powers and the ICAO.
From a retired US Air Force C-130 navigator.

GHarris 6:41 PM  

I attempted to provide your requested mnemonic earlier today but find that my post was not published. So here it is again. If the saint is from Norway he cannot be a Finn. Ergo, his name should end with a v not an f.

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

And yet there's this:

Norway/Patron Saints

Olaf II Haraldsson, also called Saint Olaf, Norwegian Hellig-Olav, (born c. 995—died July 29, 1030, Stiklestad, Norway; feast day July 29), the first effective king of all Norway and the country's PATRON SAINT.

kitshef 7:17 PM  

@Nancy - I think to give Buffy 'every advantage', watching six shows (and not from the awful season 7) would be the minimum. Looking at an excerpt - from any work - lacks the context that plot and character establish. The final scene of Citizen Kane is meaningless without all that went before.

And who knows who put together that YouTube video? I doubt any of the Buffy fans posting so far today would agree on the top scenes. [The scream in Hush, Walk through the Fire in One More with Feeling].

Nancy 7:41 PM  

@Thanks for the OLAV/F mnemonic, @GHarris! And, btw, I loved your Squee, friend of Kavanaugh comment today. Or was it yesterday?

@Kitshef -- You know I love you, but you can't ask me to do what you're asking me to do. You simply can't. Because I simply can't. I think I'd throw myself out the nearest window, if I had to watch six minutes of this horror much less six episodes. I'll leave it to the blog to look for themselves and see if they would condemn me to such a fate. Blog????

JC66 7:47 PM  


At least none of the scenes featured cars. ;-)

ArtO 9:17 PM  

I solve on paper and when opening he magazine section today discovered the lefthand side of the page cut off the numbers and about three or four letters of the across clues. This problem was replicated throughout the magazine section.
After filing my complaint with the Times and getting nothing in the way of an immediate solution (other than opening a full digital subscription), I decided to tackle the puzzle by completing the bottom half first as the higher numbered across clues were totally visible as were all the downs. After a bit of a struggle it all worked out and, in fact, added to my enjoyment of the effort.

All in all, I thought it an excellent puzzle. What a surprise to disagree with OFL -:).

Moderate Democrat 10:19 PM  

Re 57D (topline) It is current. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee tweeted today : “I have just received topline findings from Attorney General Barr. Good day for the rule of law. Great day for President Trump and his team.
No collusion and no obstruction. The cloud hanging over President Trump has been removed by this report.”

Billy 11:00 PM  

As a pilot myself, I actually really enjoyed this one, just because I thought the idea was clever.

And for those complaining about obscurity, crosswords are always an endeavor in obscurity. But usually it’s artists or singers from 50 years ago or political trivia names. So I think if I can be ok with often staring at a singer, actor, or artist and thinking, “Man, that’s obscure!”, then things like the phonetic alphabet are fair game, too, and make crosswords a bit more accessible to those who aren’t historians or art experts.

Unknown 12:11 AM  

Good puzzle! A great day to end a Sunday!

joebloggs 6:03 AM  

I like the theme as I am in the military but some of that fill was downright painful. TOPLINE and BEAR PIT stick out.

PatKS 6:46 AM  

I'm with you Rex. Never heard of bear pit, topline, horae, or alienee. Pretty stupid theme puzzle answers IMO. Boston T party and C world were the only ones that made any sense.Lots of words ending in Y. Hat trees? I had stables for stashes and blanks for spanks at first but door last/list didn't make sense. I did chuckle at the Niagara clue. My first thought was a person who cheats is an idiot. Just made homemade salsa with Serrano peppers and tequila and watched a movie with Laila Ali so that was weird but not enough to make the puzzle worth it. Oh well, typical Sunday. Have a great week!

Dan Steele 8:56 AM  

Agreed. I found his tone and level of reasoning today all too reminiscent of the guy he loves to hate in the White House. It’s funny to create a blog on a subject that you so obviously despise.

Susan Raye 9:26 PM  

I agree. I wonder if Rex “got” it!

Beagle Girl 8:21 PM  

Love Rex but not knowing Princess and the Pea? Or the importance of the phonetic alphabet? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!
(First post I've made after six years of following Rex).

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

I too hated this and totally agree with Rex. Not enjoyable AT ALL. Stupid little clues, stupid big clues.

Anonymous 9:40 PM  

Hate to admit it, but I agree with almost every Rex wrote. But “Niagara” does deserve props, the one memorial clue. As to some of Rex’s complaints that were unwarranted, “alienee” is perfectly good legalese (I typed it many a time during my career), and Lodi was one of Napoleon’s most important battles on his way to conquering Europe. Really, Rex, learning some history wouldn’t kill you (and it might make your politics more informed and less knee-jerk). I seem to have been the only one of the commentators who picked up that “Galatea” wasn’t the name of Pygmalion’s statue; she had no name. This name was arbitrarily given to her by someone in the modern era, and Goethe gave her the name Elise; so if we’re going to include names given to the statue thousands of years after Pygmalion died, why Galatea and not Elise? In fact, neither is correct. The correct answer is that she had no name, so the clue was false. Finally, I wasn’t a fan of Buffy, but Angel is one of my favorite TV-series of all-time. Poor Angel and his friends, they just couldn’t get forgiveness from heaven despite their ceaseless battle against evil. One of the few series that had a great ending. “I wish to do more violence.”

spacecraft 11:35 AM  

I got what he was doing right away. Here's the title: "CODE SWITCHING." And now we get BOSTON in the front and PARTY in the rear, so it's code for T: TANGO. Pretty straightforward. Then there's the fill, with seven stacks in every corner plus along the sides; that's not TOOEASY. Nothing outrageous, even in the short stuff. I thought it was NOTBAD at all. Sorry--but not surprised--to see OFL INARAGE about it.

Who'd have thought OOHLALA and VAVA-voom would meet in the same grid? DOD Laila ALI elicits both. Score it a birdie.

RexQuitTheWhining. 12:02 PM  

Seriously! I used to come here for the 1 or 2 (Only Sunday) stumper(s) that occasionally get me once in a while on some puzzles, and while here, i used to read Rex's and everyone comments. But this Rex guy is a world class whiner. I get it. He is good at crosswords. But he trashes so many Sunday xwords, and is so negative, that i see a lot of comments i used to like reading, starting to take on his negative slants.

No more reading the negative holier-than-thou SNOOTY write up or comments anymore. Just the answers. Its so easy, to be a critic...

Unknown 12:16 PM  

Sorry that your lack of knowledge of the NATO Phonetical Alhabet caused you such angst.

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  




rondo 2:18 PM  

Whiskey TANGO Foxtrot. ALIENEE is quite perfect legalese and I've had to use it. Other good stuff: JAKARTA, GOYA, LOTHARIO, PROSPERO, GALATEA, SISYPHUS; let's notice the good along with the not so.

@spacey again nails my solve.

ANYA as played by Emma Caulfield, yeah bay. That's all he ROTE (WROTE).

rainforest 2:33 PM  

I found this easy/medium and really quite enjoyable. Got the theme at the first themer, and that was a good clue as well. I knew the code was a NATO thing but couldn't quite describe it fully until the revealer.

Other than the themers, some nice clues, especially for NIAGARA, and pretty decent fill.

Maybe not boffo, but pretty good.

Diana, LIW 2:52 PM  

Today, like Holly Golightly, I'm traveling...

Diana Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

So Diana - Does that mean - to use Tru's words - you are an "American Geisha" ?

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

Joe Dipinto: Bette Midler did a short film, "Angst on a Shoestring," in which her character often utters that phrase. You can find it on YT -- I didn't post a link because I'm not sure whether RP allows them.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

Nancy: Kinda lame mnemonic, but here it is: Faint Olaf (bc "faint," which repeats the "F," rhymes with "saint").

Olav V (repetition of "V") was a recent Norwegian king (from 1957 through 1991).

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

It's odd that everyone who's criticizing (or worse) RP for his bristling critique of this puzzle aren't acknowledging that they're doing exactly what they object to *his* doing.

His finding fault with this puzzle is no more (or less) misanthropic than other commenters' finding fault with his critique; RP is no more (or less) in need of a vacation, chill pill, etc. than are the people who object to his critique.

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Jerome Samson 11:26 PM  

Vampires is not at all like in the movies or books. Sure, I understand. You are young you have the whole world open to you. You can be anything that you choose if you apply yourself and try hard to work toward that goal. But being a Vampire is not what it seems like. It’s a life full of good, and amazing things. We are as human as you are.. It’s not what you are that counts, But how you choose to be. Do you want a life full of interesting things? Do you want to have power and influence over others? To be charming and desirable? To have wealth, health, and longevity? contact the Vampires Lord on his Email:

Bradon 12:24 PM  

Vampires live where ever they want, because vampires are every where. This means that there are vampires where you live, you just wouldn't know it even if you saw one, Being a vampire has certain limitations, but it can also be a ton of fun. Your extra strengths and abilities can make you successful in almost every endeavor you participate in and before you know it the money and acquaintances will come streaming in. You can build wealth and gain prestige and notoriety and attempt things you may never have even considered as a human. One thing you will definitely have more of is time. Beef up your education and learn all you ever wanted to. Travel the world to see things most people only ever see on TV This is going to be especially fun if you turned to share your life with one of us. Let us show you the wonders of the world. Learn new languages, go skydiving or scuba dive with sharks, visit the African safari. You no longer need to be scared of nature or wildlife you will have become the worlds strongest predator. Have fun with it and your life as a vampire can be more fulfilling than you ever dreamed. Explore, experiment, experience and get excited. There’s a big world out there with lots to see and do and as a vampire, you can do it all, if willing and ever ready to be a full blooded vampire with powers and mighty great skills then these is the opportunity for you to get transformed and turned into a vampire, contact the mighty hindu priest and also he is a vampire lord, find him on his email and lay your request and heart wishes to him, trust me you will find him on: or you can as well find me on

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