Tree-lined walk / SUN 3-3-19 / Japanese room divider / Cracker brand since 1831 / Harp-shaped constellation / Twelvesome in Gone with wind / Kind of stick for incense

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Constructor: Tony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy (9:07)

THEME: "D.J.'S SPINNIN'" — change-a-letter theme: J for D:

Theme answers:
  • HOOVER JAM (26A: Vacuum cleaner blockage?)
  • JUST BUNNIES (28A: Sign at a restricted area of the Playboy Mansion?)
  • ROLLING IN THE JEEP (42A: Driving through some off-road terrain, say?)
  • JOCK OF THE BAY (58A: San Francisco Giant, for example?)
  • GRAVE JIGGERS (72A: Overly serious Irish dancers?)
  • MAKE THE JEANS LIST (88A: Write an order to replenish inventory of Levi's?)
  • GARBAGE JUMP (105A: Throwaway vault at a gymnastics meet?)
  • JUNE BUGGY (109A: Shower gift for a Gemini baby?)
Word of the Day: ALAMEDA (90D: Tree-lined walk) —
An alameda is a street or path lined with trees (from Spanish álamo, meaning 'poplar'). (wikipedia)
• • •

As change-a-letter themes go, this one at least has a few somewhat funny answers (ROLLING IN THE JEEP, MAKE THE JEANS LIST), but the clues are somehow dull as ecru, and anyway, this is just too thin a concept (any more) for a NYT Sunday crossword. Super duper duper old-fashioned, and the fill didn't help any. Felt like a solid puzzle from 1999. You could get away with junk like REPAGE (!!!!!!!!!!?) in 1999. I'm not sure you could ever really "get away with" TATAS—a plural of goodbye. I mean, you can "say your goodbyes," plural, but do you say your TATAS? When in the dang world would you pluralize "tata"? Horrid. But back to the theme—it's just there. Workmanlike. Filling a Sunday-sized puzzle space in the Sunday magazine. The "Best Puzzle in the World" has to have more ambition than this, and be cleaner and crisper than this. REPAGE OATIER SNOODS. That is a stack in this puzzle, and also how I feel about this puzzle; interpret that as you will.

It's always weird to see FRESNO in a puzzle, as it is my hometown, though I haven't set foot in it in [counts ...] 23 years? It was over a Christmas holiday, and I was violently ill. So that's how FRESNO and I left things. I still have a couple high school friends there, but it's basically TERRA incognita to me now. Mom moved out in the late '90s, dad moved out shortly thereafter. Neither my sister nor my stepsiblings live there anymore. There's no reason for me to go back. I am weirdly curious, though. I missed my 30th high school reunion. Maybe the 40th will lure me back. Or maybe the effects of climate change will be so dire by then that average springtime highs are in the 110s and the place is totally uninhabitable, who knows?

What are CARR'S? (55D: Cracker brand since 1831). OK, I'm looking at the box now, and I've definitely had these, though (obviously) no way I could've told you their name was CARR'S. Since 1831, you say? Wow, how are you around for that long and still don't have a name as iconic as RITZ or even HI-HO? No one, literally no one, says "Gen Y'ERS." You can say "Gen X-ers" 'cause no one's gonna wonder what you're saying, unlike "Gen Y'ERS," which sounds like wires that you stick in your gin For Some Reason. Wife just came down (I'm typing at the kitchen table) to inform me of her ire re: SCRUNCHY (14D: Ponytail holder). "That is not how you spell that." I didn't think so. And she's absolutely right, though wikipedia has the -Y spelling as an alternative. SCRUNCHIE is definitely how most people know it, and how most would spell it. I had PELT for COAT (82A: Fur). Wife had PELT for COAT *and* APEX for ACME (75D: Top). I also had ATRA for AFTA, which is really the saddest solver predicament. "Which crosswordese brand is it!? Nope, sorry, you're wrong! Wasn't that fun!?"

Recent puzzles helped me get LIII (football is dead to me, so I'm gonna struggle like crazy in the future re: football clues) and ARLENE (Me a few days ago, and my wife just now: "Garfield has a girlfriend?!"). AMISS is not bad, but ALOAD is pretty bad, and ACAR is worse. I don't understand why the Sunday NYT puzzle isn't great Every Single Week. I wish more people would do the Washington Post Sunday puzzle every week, so they could at least have some idea how routinely the NYT gets outpaced. Inertia and complacency keep people believing that the NYT really is the "Best Puzzle in the World." It absolutely is not. No one who solves lots of puzzles thinks that. It can be great, but it is too often far more mediocre than it should be.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


suea 12:27 AM  

I agree with Rex and I'll take it one further. I got the theme at Jock of the Bay. The next clue I got was Rolling in the Jeep (Adele's song) and that made me happy. And then I got so confused. DJ Spinnin' felt to me at those two discoveries like switchin' the Ds for Js in song titles was goin' to end up with cute new song titles. But Just Bunnies??? Make the Jeans List???? GARBAGE JUMP???? Sheesh. So, no. Not so clever AFTRA ( I made that mistake too) all.

TomAz 12:29 AM  

Rex's criticism are (mostly) fair, but I enjoyed this anyway. It was easy as pie, sure. The theme was easy to suss out and hardly anything put up any resistance after that. ROLLING IN THE JEEP still has me smiling, though.

TATAS is of course ridiculous as clued. But 'When in the dang world would you pluralize "tata"?' When it is preceded by the word 'bodacious'. 1999? hell it's 1978 with that answer.

REPAGE/OATIER/SNOODS is so bad it's good. I sort of hope the constructors intended it as a sly parody of crosswordese. Unlikely, I know, but I put that in the 'fun' column, not the 'ughs'.

I struggled briefly at NO MESS.. I wanted NO MuSS or NO fuSS or something adspeak-ier.

I finished this sub-20, without trying very hard. Easy puzzles make me feel smart. "I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!"

jae 12:46 AM  

Easy. Me too for apex, atra, and pelt. I thought the theme was reasonably amusing. So, i spite of some cringy fill, liked it.

Unknown 1:00 AM  

So some Ds become Js?

puzzlehoarder 1:22 AM  

I got about a third of the way through this puzzle and thought to myself there seems to be a letter swap thing going on. That's when I remembered Sundays have titles and I really should have read this one's before I started. By then it made little difference. I did put in DUNE before JUNE in the SE. I thought with "Spinnin' in the title there would be some Js turning to Ds. Not so.

I'm glad JOAO is a debut. It was a complete unknown but the crosses were all strong. I'd have hated to find out that I'd seen it before and forgotten it that thoroughly.

Slow going but a clean grid in the end.

Joe Dipinto 1:36 AM  

When in the dang world would you pluralize "tata"?

When the tatas are in the JUST BUNNIES area?

Not the most exciting puzzle, but I enjoyed it. I was expecting some J-to-D swaps. JOCK OF THE BAY in San Francisco has a vaguely cruise-y feel. Lots of random first names milling around: ALICE, PETE, RENE, ANNE, JANE, RAVI, LUIS, LEAH, JOAO, MILA, XENA, ARLENE. It took me ages to figure out what they wanted for the Bee Gees answer. BROTHERS? TWINS? Two were TWINS, yes, but not all three. Oh, I see -- GIBB. The Gee of Bee Gees.

Movie trivia: The denouement of "Chinatown" took place at 1712 ALAMEDA. Ta-ta for now!

chefwen 2:15 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, many of the theme answers had me laughing out loud. Puzzle partner kept giving me side long glances to make sure I was o.k.

Hard to pick a favorite, I loved them all. Maybe JUST BUNNIES, only because I love bunnies. Then there’s HOOVER JAM and JOCK OF THE BAY, impossible to select one.

I wish @EVIL DOUG would chime in and give a comment on TATAS, I’m sure it would be a good one.

Super Sunday puzzle ACME and Tony, loved it.

Anonymous 3:10 AM  

Not getting SCALAR (14A). None of the definitions I see suggest a scalar is something that scales, i.e., increases gradually or is graduated. I got it through the crosses but it makes no sense to me.

Also, UNA means one in Spanish. UNAS means ones, and therefore some? Huh?

SPEX??? That's some kind of form of triple obscurity, since I suppose x-ray glasses are a fictional thing. X-ray glasses => x-ray spectacles => x-ray specs => x-ray SPEX.

An individual segment of a 4x400 relay is a LAP? Even if a lap is a considered a round trip in the pool, that means you have a 200 meter long pool. Does that exist? An Olympic sized pool is 50 meters. So an individual segment is 8 one-way laps, or 4 round-trip laps.

All of these could have been fixed with more careful (not necessarily easier or harder) clueing.

I admit I'd never heard of TTYL, but it does seem to be real.

Never heard of "rolling in the deep" either but OK, again that's just me.

@merican in Paris 4:43 AM  

Outside of 'america, most of us working on the print edition (which we do on weekends) get the Sunday puzzle a day ahead of you all. So it was all I could do to not write yesterday, "Hey, there is a connection between the Saturday and Sunday puzzles -- to wit, the clue about radio D.J.s!"

I am always in awe that anybody can finish a Sunday in less than an hour. Certainly it took me considerably longer than that for me. I failed to get purchase in the north -- in Europe, pralines definitely do not contain PECANS -- and I had secaNt instead of COSINE for a long time. So I worked my way up from the south.

My first two themers were the ones that involved not just a D > J spin, but also played on a popular song. So I thought, "How clever!" But that assumption then slowed me down when I got to the theme answers that had nothing to do with a song title. Even before that, I had J_CK OF_ and wondered to myself, "Noooo! They're not going to go there, are they?!" (They didn't.)

HOOVER JAM would make a great title for a Frank Zappa (or King Crimson) album. I can see several of those vacuum cleaners being used as wind instruments. For those of you with a cosmopolitan taste in avant garde music, I encourage you to watch King Crimson performing "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" in 1972.

I should have known JOAO, but had forgotten it, so lightly pencilled that in as JuAn at first. Thankfully, DON JUAN forced me to go back and wait for the crosses.

I see now that I took 52A ("Cheerios") too literally, so made an error: I had ToRAS (yes, I know, the plural should be ToRi.) But that raises a nit for me. The clue for 188A is "Like Cheerios vis-à-vis Corn Flakes", and the answer is OATIER. But Corn Flakes don't contain any OATs, nor the original formulation of Cheerios any corn (only corn starch) for that matter. I call foul. It's like asserting that a Husky is doggier than a Siamese cat.

Back to REALTY.

jj_rural_mo 4:45 AM  

One of the least-enjoyable Sundays I've done in a while. Felt like ALOAD of junk - SHOJI (crossing HESS - never, ever heard of HESS toy trucks.), NGAIO, JOSS JOAO, UNAS, ISU. That's one of the reasons I don't like Scrabble, Words With Friends, etc. - having to know basically meaningless strings of letters with no real-world applicability or significance. And probably the longest clue for ETNA in crossword history. Was glad to be done with this puzzle.

JOHN X 5:27 AM  

Rex is from FRESNO? Ha ha that explains an awful lot!

Back in the 80s there was a fantastic satirical mini-series called FRESNO that starred Carol Burnett. It was a parody of Dallas and Dynasty and Falcon's Crest, featuring a ruthless family raisin empire set in the eponymous raisin capital of the world. It was so dead on. Lot's of backstabbing and scheming and affairs and vodka for breakfast and drinks tossed in faces and the costume design was hysterical. My favorite gag was when they had to ride in the back of the station wagon.

This puzzle was pretty good! The only people who are complaining are hayseeds who are trying to sound like sophisticated folks from the big city.

Loren Muse Smith 5:52 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 5:58 AM  

The surprise of seeing a phrase transformed by changing just one letter will never fail to amuse me. GRAVE JIGGERS is terrific. Especially since someone told me, and I’m gonna totally believe this so don’t come on here and ruin it for me ok please and thank you, that Irish dancing - business on the top, party on the bottom - has a cool story. It seems that The Powers That Were banned dancing in Ireland, so the guys would shut the bottom of their doors to hide their lower halves. They’d stand there and dance away but from the top, they looked still. I guess if the Dance Police walked by, they had to wipe the smiles off their faces momentarily and look grave while they stepped and shuffled away on the bottom.

I think Rex was winding us up with his TATAS question. Two people have already bitten.

@TomAz – me, too, for thinking “fuss” before MESS

“client” before CLOSET
some kind of “heros” (sic) before TOREROS
“moxy” before MOJO

Speaking of misspelling “moxy,” I usually spell it “scrunchie.” I’m ok either way, though. I get that thing confused with what I think is an elastic. The scrunchie is the one that looks like a pruney bagel, right? Yep. Just checked.

“Memory problems” – tequila shots. I woke up in a swamp onetime with a blow torch, a baggy of bobby pins, a six-inch replica of the Statue of Liberty, and no idea how I got there. Calm down. I just made that up.

(Unfortunately, @Suzie Q from yesterday, the abc gum story is not made up. I was a grimy, nasty, rough-n-tumble little tomboy. I even chewed up a rock and swallowed it in Joanne H’s driveway. Not even on a dare. I did it just because.)

Rex – CARR’S went right in. The cracker of choice (at least among what’s available ‘round these parts) for the discerning host assembling a tasteful cheese display. Fan them out in a half circle around the Morbier, Stilton, Leicestershire, Père Joseph, and fresh figs. I’ll pause while you jot this down. Actually, maybe put the Père Joseph on its own plate, maybe out on the deck.

GARBAGE JUMP/"throwaway vault" reminded me of the time I decided it was silly not to watch gymnastics ‘cause I was so afraid they’d mess up and fall and stuff. So I sat myself down to watch the women’s vault. What a day I picked. Sidyney, 2000. Still haven’t recovered.

“Travel bummer” – strictly adhering to the Atkins diet when you’re doing a summer study abroad in Paris in 1981 but then switching to a chocolate-only diet the minute you set foot in Lucerne for the weekend. The shock to the gi system weren’t pretty. My number one concern was making sure I got cool souvenirs for my sisters, but the extreme chocolate intake was my number two problem.

ACME, Tony – nice little Sunday romp. Hard not to think of others. I’m reminded of a brief period when we were receiving that catalog International Male. It’s startling, let’s just say that. A kind of JUNK CONTEST.

sf27shirley 6:16 AM  

LOL johnx, that was my reaction to Rex's reveal too. I hadn't heard about the Carol Burnett show, hope it's available in the Cyber universe.
Shouldn't Rex's explanations of them answers include the phrase that's being replaced, not just the final answer?

BarbieBarbie 6:31 AM  

Fun-ish theme. It really needed a meta, though. Something like all-music (suggested above) or half D==>J and the other half J ==> D, maybe top and bottom so the puzzle could spin. And the reason the puzzle needed something like that is That Fill. The SE corner was just awful, and it wasn’t alone. This puzzle was still green. C+.

JB 7:30 AM  

4x400 is a track event as well, and tracks are 400m long.

Eliza 7:31 AM  

How can something be "oatier"(BTW autocorrect changes that to "patient") when the other item has no oats at all?

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

I liked the theme and finished faster than usual, but I suffered a bit with the names (as I do).

John H 8:04 AM  

Thanks @Eliza for pointing out the problem with oater, and to @JB for telling Anonymous that there are other relay races besides the one with swimmers.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

The comments about 'oatier' remind me of an exchange between Alice and the Mad Hatter about 'more tea', in Alice in Wonderland. :)

Modesto 8:21 AM  

Great theme answers! Nothing you had to sit back for a minute and think Huh? over. Love the definition of scalar, "Having only magnitude, not direction." Kinda like the, stop it, not gonna start an argument.

Fresno, the Buffalo of California.

kitshef 8:26 AM  

Lovely idea, some nice, funny themers, and absolutely zero challenge. Wednesday-level clueing.

I am of the opinion that a good puzzle in 1999 is a good puzzle today; that is, a good puzzle is timeless.

Only holdups were ACME/Apex, TTfn/TTYL, and COAT/pelT.

For those who get Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, next Sunday (March 10) is the premiere of The Crossword Mysteries – Will Shortz is a ‘co-creator’.

TrudyJ 8:38 AM  

HESS crossing both SHOJI and CARRS made this a DNF for me: three things I had absolutely no clue about and no idea how to guess. Otherwise I found nit pretty good.

I don't get Rex's recommending the WaPo Sunday so highly though -- unless the one that appears in print is different from what you get online? I tried the WaPo Sunday immediately after doing this one and read Rex's commentary, and it was way too easy for a Sunday. I mean, even when a Sunday NYT maybe has some "junky" fill or is not too tight, it's always a challenge that takes at least 1/2 hour and that I have to lay down and come back to a couple of times. The WaPo Sunday felt more like a Tuesday or Wednesday NYT to me -- nothing wrong with it, but a quick and easy solve with no challenge. Am I missing something?

pmdm 8:53 AM  

American in Paris: PDQ Bach more than Frank Zappa.

As one who used to enjoy ACME's comments here, I am always happy to see one of here creations. Or this time, half-creation.

Why is "old-fashioned" always used as a negative comment? I think most people prefer the classics over the avant-garde. Just a thought.

Some things tend to get lost, as far as I am concerned. I never noticed that none of the themed entries lack the letter D. Nice. Too bad the entire puzzle didn't lack that letter. But probably would have required very bad fill.

My sister-in-law lived unhappily in Fresno for a while. Not exactly a tourist attraction according to her description.

Hartley70 8:55 AM  

Armchair analysts have been given several CLUES in Rex’s post today. It’s nice he felt comfortable enough to do so. Sometimes understanding Rex’s take on the puzzle world is as challenging as the toughest Saturday.

Today’s offering was simple, Sunday, silly fun and I had my usual ACME-style good experience, albeit at 3am. No worries, it came in under my usual time. I had two words that slowed me down. First “pelt” for COAT as did many including the Rex family, and then “stay” for SPAY, thinking if you can fix a course then you can stay the course. I like both wrong answers best.

I wrote ROLLINGINTHEdEEP before I looked at the puzzle title and changed to a J. That gave me JOCKOFTHEBAY. I think an all song theme would have been preferable, but c’est la vie.

I love to say the name JOAO. The pronunciation is so alien to English and I sounded like an idiot when I tried to duplicate it when introduced to a JOAO for the first time by a regular. Bravo television network to the rescue! (Hi, @Loren) There was a JOAO on one of their reality shows this season so after hearing it a bajillion Times I now sound like a native of Portugal I hope. That JOAO was South African so go figure. I may be using a South African accent. It’s sort of like a soft ja-wow for the Bravo uninitiated. You’re welcome.

Nice job by Tony and Andrea.

Joe Dipinto 9:00 AM  

@Anon 3:10 --

From Merriam-Webster:

1 : having an uninterrupted series of steps : GRADUATED

And yes, UNAS (fem.) or UNOS (masc.) means "some" in Spanish. For real.

Sir Hillary 9:01 AM  

On Friday afternoon, the NYT delivered several Sunday sections to my house, I presume because of their worry of impending overnight weather. That meant that the Sunday Magazine that usually comes on Saturday showed up on Friday instead. Got all that?

Anyway, with my wife away Friday night, I decided to do the Sunday puzzle for the first time in a couple months. Unfortunately, I was reminded why I don't do them anymore. When the theme is this thin, the whole experience is draining. I couldn't wait to be done. Well, at least it didn't take long.

I thought there might at least be some reversals (i.e., Ds for Js) given the title. As it turns out, "D.J.s" aren't so much "spinning" as going in one direction. Hell, even some reversals of the same words could have worked -- STRAWBERRYDAM, DUNEFORAY, TWENTYONEDUMPSTREET, SKINNYDEANS, etc. Alas, no.

I just don't get it. This theme would be thin on a Monday, so why is it OK on Sunday? Just because there's room for more and longer theme answers? Surely the bar can be set higher.

Hartley70 9:08 AM  

@kitshef 8:26: Stop! Seriously? I was fine with the NBC “Blindspot” episode featuring a NYT crossword. It was a brief and amusing novelty. But a Hallmark series may well do both franchises in when their opposing universes explode. I now can’t wait to read what Rex thinks!

SouthsideJohnny 9:10 AM  

First of all, 20 Across is flat out wrong. There was no sci-fi book or short story named “I,Robot”,which was adapted into a movie. Just ask the screenwriter (Jeff Vintar). Very, very sloppy.

Additionally, as has already been mentioned, TATAS definitely flunks the breakfast, off-putting, demeaning and whatever else you want to call it test. I doubt JUGGS, FUN BAGS, GAZANGAS OR GOLDEN WINNEBAGOS would pass muster either for example - to make it worse, as Rex pointed out, the word TATAS has no other real meaning in any form of common usage (other than the linguistic gymnastics requred to get to a plural form of “goodbyes”). Very sloppy as well.

Can anyone recommend an app with which to solve the Washington Post Sunday puzzle ? I think I’ll take Rex up on his suggestion.

Aketi 9:18 AM  

If you flip the J of the JUST BUNNIES you get the probable cause of the HOOVER JAM. I just bought a Roomba and was afraid it would JAM when it vacuumed our cat’s tail but after a few seconds it went on it’s way unstoppable gathering wads of cat fuzz. No more HOOVER’s for me.

@LMS, hahaha that clip of the GARBAGE JUMPs reminded me of my high school gymnastic team’s efforts. At one meet they had a striped runway mat. I got so dizzy from looking at the stripes while running down the mat that I vaulted onto my head. The vault had holes in it to insert the grips for the boys vaulting event and my BFF managed to get her finger stuck in the hole and flipped over the vault dangling on the other side with arm up and her finger still stuck in the hole.

CDilly52 9:34 AM  

I had a bit of conceptual trouble with LAP as well only because I ran the 4x400 and we called our portion of the race a leg so I tossed it in thankful in that section to get an answer. It slowed me down because I believed in my wrong answer largely because of the clue that asked for “an individual’s” segment. I agree that editing would have helped. I do not think this was a “misdirect.”

CDilly52 9:38 AM  

Loved FRESNO...and all things Carol Burnett! Remember her coming down the stairs (Carol Burnett Show) in the “Gone With the Wind” gag wearing the drapes AND the curtain rod? Live tv was so great. Harvey Corman just about lost it. She was a jewel.

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

This was fun..and I expected it coming from Tony and Andrea. I just ask to be amused on Sunday and JUST BUNNIES set the mood. ROLLING IN THE JEEP made me laugh. I'm so easily amused.
HOOVER JAM gave me the DJ switcheroo dealie. I like switching letters.
Crossed fingers OFL wouldn't find something off COLOR. TATAS takes the prize. I would've like it better if it had been clued as Maidenform's logo. The bigger, the better.
I've been to FRESNO once. If you happen to miss your turnoff to LA and land there, try to take in the Taco Truck Throwdown. It also has the dubious distinction of having the dirtiest air in the country.
When I lived in San Francisco, I met lots of handsome JOCK's OF THE BAY. Too bad I'm straight. EYE candy everywhere. (Sigh).
Love me some Pralines. They originally came from either Belgium or maybe France and were made with almonds. @merican is correct about the PECANS. Anyway, someone brought the recipe to the South and because there are no almonds growing in bayou country, they just tossed in some PECANS and made them taste better.
True about SCRUNTCH(ie). I wear one just about every day. I even went and looked at the label. Did I mention that I'm easily entertained.
I'm going to believe @Lorens story about the Irish JIG dancing. I'm married to a Brit who is Irish by descent. If you knew his father, I promise you, he'd be the one bobbing his hidden bottom feet. Most likely holding a pint in the upper region while yelling ITS ON ME.
Rain again here in sunny California. We have a bunch of toads that like it. They have serenaded me every night right outside my bedroom window. What a life.

Z 9:46 AM  

@Trudy Morgan-Cole - Let me call your attention to a couple of things using Today’s WAPO puzzle as an example (while doing my best to avoid spoilers). First, the pop culture references. We still get old time baseball player and classical music references, but women’s soccer players exist, Broadway didn’t stop producing new plays in 1967, and when a crosswordese name appears the cluing goes modern TV rather than old testament. Second, the fill. It’s hard to recognize what isn’t there, but the god OOXTEPLERNON is not a Birnholz fan. And this is purely a matter of expectation, Birnholz’s expectations for his puzzles is clearly just higher than what Shortz demands. There may be very good reasons for this, but that doesn’t change what we see. Finally, let me call attention to the clue for 30D. Such a simple cluing decision, it really doesn’t need to be complicated (I’ll leave that “it” without antecedent).

Wm. C. 9:47 AM  

@H70 at 8:55 -- When I got the JOAO fill (mainly thru crosses) I was finally reminded of JOAO Gilberto, a Brazilian musician (invented Bossa Nova, BTW). Since The Portugese were the early settlers of Brazil, it's not surprising to see this name there.

Never heard of TTYL. Also got this one from all crosses. Hadda call on Mr. Google to learn that it's "Talk To You Later."

Teedmn 9:49 AM  

I liked the concept of this puzzle - lots of J words. HOOVER JAM and ROLLING IN THE JEEP were cute. I spent too much time thinking pralines were almonds, not PECANS. I didn't know the HESS green toy truck and couldn't dredge up SHOJI so I had a DNF at that cross.

SCRUNCHie is more often seen than the Y-ending version (14D) but that word helped fill in the NE. That's about the only thing I see to complain about here (and of course I need something to complain about!)

Our short weekend in AZ ends today - back to MN where it is A LOAD NIPPIER than here in the Phoenix suburbs. A regular ICE AGE at home.

Thanks, Tony Orbach and ACME.

CDilly52 10:07 AM  

As a regular solver for over half a century, I did not mind the “aginess” of this puzzle at all. Reminded me of what fun I have had learning all the crosswordese that is so helpful every single day as I engage my brain.

Gives me great memories of doing the puzzle in the Daily Illini (student paper) at the Thunderbird restaurant early in the morning with a gaggle of my music-student friends, all of us tired from whatever late night rehersal, performance or just student mischief had kept us up into the wee hours. With so much truly spectacular talent around, being the crossword whiz at least gave me something to be “best at” those days. I loved all of it, and came away with the best degree possible, and one I was not seeking back in those days of student unrest and campus turmoil; I received my “MRS” and we solved puzzles together every day for 45 years until he passed last year.

Like @LMS yesterday, I enjoy almost every puzzle I do because I do them for fun.i admire anyone who can create a publishable opus in whatever paper!

DavidL 10:26 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny 9:10:

"I, Robot" is a great sci-fi novel by Isaac Asimov. The movie bore little resemblance to the book, but I thought both were quite good in their own way.

Joe in Canada 10:32 AM  

3:10 am anon - a lap of a race track, not a pool.
I am often satisfied if something I don't know and can't get from crosses is after all a thing. I go "aha! I've learned something!" In this regard I don't know "Dock of the bay" or "rolling in the deep", so those were lost.
I was going to complain about ALAMEDA - is that supposed to be a particular street? But gives it as a real word, so I have to presume it is part of American English y'all are familiar with but not us Canucks. I will agree with the complaint about OATIER, and I will complain about "lemon or lime" COLOR. That's like saying "apple or pine" TREE. Yes, but very unclever. Lime-green perhaps.
Anyways, this one seemed a bit forced. On the other hand, I did use the word 'snood' just yesterday.
ps reCAPTCHA went crazy. had to click 29 items.

QuasiMojo 10:41 AM  

@Gill, 9:44am. You cracked me up with your comment about the Jocks of the Bay Area. :)

Barry Frain 10:43 AM  

Fresno hometown eh? That would explain our boy’s rather painfully obvious Imposter Syndrome issues.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, Ca

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

I liked it. Granted it was a little easier than most Sundays but that’s ok. I can never trust the reviews on this site given Sharp’s avowed dislike for the editor. It seems the only puzzles that he reviews favorably are constructed by his friends.

DBlock 10:53 AM  

I agree
Perhaps A Digger of Salt clued who burrows in the Morton’s?
Or Jack and Dill clued what to bring to a scotch and pickle party

Birchbark 10:57 AM  

@John X (5:27) -- Thanks for the repurposed FRESNO reference. I hope the TV show is available in a streaming format somewhere. Sounds like decent late night watching.

@Americans (4:43) -- Thanks for the repurposed HOOVER JAM reference. Agree on King Crimson (= Robert Fripp). In return and for what it's worth, the clue for 78A ("Name on Green Toy Truck") could be a decent Fripp/ENO collaboration.

Also from the Fripp desk -- yesterday, on the long drive back drive back from my daughter's voice lesson in Minneapolis: she streamed an outtake of Arianna Grande hanging out with with friends, singing an informal version of the 70s CLOY tune "Lovin' You." Kind of fun, and when Arianna hits the high notes it's almost a miracle. In response (we take turns) streamed Robert Fripp's "Exposure" -- Terre Roche's ability to survive her own cathartic voice in that song the true miracle. My daughter who is rarely amazed was in fact amazed (as I recall the story).

If you are a record collector, "Exposure" is the first song after you flip over SIDE ONE of the eponymous album.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

WTF? zs post is entirely about The Washing Post's puzzle. Not one bit about The times's. Granting Rex's typical trashing of the powers that be at The Old Gray Lady, how does his post pass the pertinence test?

Hartley70 11:15 AM  

Good Lord, the Hess truck. Somehow it’s become a green and white staple under the Christmas tree for 25 years. I blame television advertising for sucking us into this trap. Somewhere there’s a closet full of them that will shortly belong to our one year old grandson.

CARR’s crackers, buy them by the carload at Costco and save some dough. They’re far superior to the lowly Ritz.

@Aketi, having watched with semi-terror at my daughter’s gymnastic’s meets, I’m aghast at your bff’s finger mishap and your poor head. Since you haven’t mentioned staggering wealth, I’m guessing this was before the era of rampant litigation. Quel dommage.

This is my rare three and out.

Nancy 11:18 AM  

"The Crossword Mysteries" !!! That sounds so great, @kitshef (8:26)! But, dammit, I don't get that -- or any other -- Hallmark Channel. Wonder how much extra I'd have to pay for it? Wondering if it will ever go to DVD?

Ah, yes, the puzzle. Agree with the people who said no challenge at all-- except for the names, of which there seemed to be too many. You've heard me rave about some pun puzzles -- puzzles that have puns which make me laugh. And I do see that many of my blog friends laughed at this collection. I'm not quite sure why. I didn't crack a smile. A workmanlike puzzle that provided a very mundane solving experience.

Unknown 11:19 AM  

Tripped up by SPEX, CELEB, IBEX. Had to look at the answers. :(

Unknown 11:20 AM  

Also, I'm with suea, all themers should have been song titles.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I don't understand the hypocrisy of Rex's outrage over words...

Why no outrage of JUST BUNNIES today, but then outrage yesterday over ZELIG? The Playboy Bunnies are the most impactful objectification of women over the past 50 years, Hefner was much much much older than the bunnies, and he had many many of them.

Why no outrage of ENOLA last week, when yesterday there was outrage over CHLORINE GAS?

Why is there this disparity in application of outrage? Does this reflect Rex's views that some of these things (Playboy Bunnies, Hiroshima) are good? Or is this a laziness on this part?

Crimson Devil 11:37 AM  

Three now, and counting.

Amy 11:53 AM  

exactly. Some themers had song tie-ins as the title might infer but then others .... did not.

70 y.o. in nampa 11:58 AM  

I'd like to see Sunday's puzzle a little tougher.
At least two cups of coffee...
gotta go "Google" around for that Carol Burnett "raisins" thing, now...

Crimson Devil 12:08 PM  

Apt avatar noteDD.

mrn 12:25 PM  

At least the NYT didn't clue TATAS the way that word is actually used colloquially. Based on recent history, I wouldn't have put it past them.....

What She Said 12:28 PM  

The most notable scrunchie of the past week was when “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa walked the Oscars red carpet in a custom velvet Fendi tux...with a matching pink velvet scrunchie on his wrist, and Lisa Bonet on his arm.

(Who will be the first constructor to use MOMOA in a puzzle?)

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

you wouldn’t have had apex if you had read the note under the authors’

sixtyni yogini 12:30 PM  

Got some smiles from theme answers. 👍🏽🤗👍🏽

TrudyJ 12:37 PM  

@Z -- I do like and appreciate everything you mentioned, and today's WaPo was definitely fun with great cluing -- I just didn't think that in difficulty level it was in any way comparable to this or any other NYT Sunday. A lot of the clues just seemed too obvious to me (for a Sunday).

RooMonster 12:39 PM  

Hey All !
SALOME was my downfall today. Anything Opera, Author, or other sophistication isn't on my radar. Not a 100℅ rube here, but I find my tastes lead to more "pedestrian, low brow" type things. No shirt and tie at The Met for me. (Not saying that it's not fine for others, just not my cuppa.)
Had to Reveal Word on that to get traction in the NW corner. Another NW trickiness.

JOCK OF THE BAY went through AT, IN, OF. Especially with AtrA for AFTA. TIMOR is an island? Sure. Also DNF at the cracker confluence. Had CARRe/eSSe/SeiJI/see/CLie. Oof.

I knew Garfield had a Girlfriend! Ha, like I said, low brow type stuff. :-) I also know Odie was originally not Jon's dog, but a friend of his.

Enjoyed the theme. GRAVE JIGGERS is funniest. Saying it, and imaging people doing the JIG with STOLID faces. SNOODS! sounds like an epithet. Ah, SNOODS! My car was plowed in last night!

I think FRESNO is the reason people think it's OK to say Frisco for San Francisco. Sorta kinda similar sounding.

HOOVER JAM could've also been clued, Party at Herbert's? Har.


Amelia 12:49 PM  

I thought it was delightful. And I rarely find an easy puzzle delightful. They seemed to have fun putting it together and that brings me to another point. You online puzzlers don't know this, but they've gotten rid of the back page which was a profile with short Qs and As of someone in the news. Gone. And now the puzzle is the back page, as it always was in the past. Which I think means that, with the addition of the little bios for the puzzle's constructor(s), the puzzle is more popular than ever!

As for getting rid of me so fast..

Have to laugh. I went to an R Crumb retrospective at a gallery in Chelsea. That stuff would offend an entire student body now. Back then, who gave a shit? Also, reading Parker Posey's amazing book and she has very interesting things to say about Woody Allen. Read it. But the one thing that stood out was that she thought how well-suited he and his wife are for each other. (Having run into them together several times on set.)

By the way, it was not my opinion about Mia and Soon Yi. It was what she said about the household. The household in which she was forced to be the cook, the babysitter, and anything else her adoptive mother wanted her to do. As for Woody, I do believe their relationship has been and obviously continues to be consensual. After all, they bonded at Knicks games!

And can we talk about how Ronan Farrow has Sinatra for a father? Mia gets excused for this?

Anyway, what I got out of yesterday's comments was a new to me term, pearl clutchers. Which I adore and of course, heard it on TV this morning. (In the way that that happens.)

RooMonster 1:11 PM  

Came back with a couple observations (because I know y'all Love reading my inaneaties. [How's that for a new made up word!]) :-)
Got a chuckle out of the Across line, AMI TATAS CLUE STEAM. Lots of ONEs: ONE ACT, SIDE ONE, AL ONE, ONE IDAS. Har.
Discovered a great ?? clue to go with ASSNS as the answer - Ninny's??

Back to my hole....


Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Funny how that happens, right?
Enjoy the phenomenon.

Your pals,


Amelia 1:32 PM  

Clearly, I learn something new here every day. Thanks!

And oh, I forgot to mention re: puzzle, that I had CLOSER before CLOSET. Because in my mind's eye I see Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera walking in to Sandman. Too bad Rerra didn't work.

Vernon's dad 1:51 PM  

Great puzzle overall!

Like @Trudy Morgan-Cole, DNF on SHOJI/HESS. Anyone else have "playboy" for Lothario (10d)? That worked with "misplay" (not MISDEAL) for the longest time. Glad to know SNOOD and JOSS are words, but never heard of Xray SPEX.

TJS 1:51 PM  

Thought the Sunday Wapo was far superior. This one, had to grit my teeth through the entire solve. Different strokes, I guess.

Vernon's dad 1:55 PM  

Great puzzle.
Like "@Trudy Morgan Cole, DNF on SHOJI/HESS. Anyone else have "playboy" instead of DONJUAN (10d)? It worked with "misplay" (not MISDEAL, 7a) for the longest time. Glad to learn JOSS and SNOOD are words; stumbled into SPEX (74d). Is this used?

Wm. C. 2:44 PM  

@Anon11:36. Re your apparent negative attitude toward "ENOLA," and tour mention of Hiroshima:

What would you have preferred that the American and Allied forces had done in the WWII Pacific theatre? Leave Tojo alone, so that he could have time to develop his own A-bomb?

Mount a land invasion with 50,000 or more Americans, and countless Japanese -- greatly in excess of those soldiers and civilians collaterally killed/maimed by our bombs -- also dead? Remember that virtually no Japanese surrendered in the Allied Pacific island-hopping campaign, they considered surrender a shame to the emperor, and cause for damnation for their entire family unto all generations.

old timer 2:45 PM  

CARRS was the last answer to fall. Though I do buy them if I am serving cheeses, They are crisp, but innocuous. My personal cracker of choice is Ak-Mak, an Armenian cracker made in Sanger, a suburb of sorts of FRESNO.

I wonder if OFL grew up listening to Kenny Hall, a blind mandolin player from FRESNO, or I think actually North Sanger. Back in the day, he played with the Sweet's Mill String Band, named after a park near FRESNO that once a year became a folkie paradise run by a professor from FRESNO State.

The puzzle was amusing, for a Sunday, and I do miss the days when ACME was a regular here.

Ryan Crinnigan 2:51 PM  

Re: I, Robot: what in the world are you talking about? Do you have Google?

RobertM 2:52 PM  

Question about 65A: why Livy? I got confused on a similar clue a few weeks ago.

pabloinnh 2:54 PM  

Boy, the stuff you learn in crosswords. Today I found out that Fresno is the Buffalo of California, which is interesting to me, because I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Fresno and another aunt and uncle who lived in Buffalo, the Buffalo of NY. Some ancient family curse at work?

Yeah, "unas" is "some". So is "unos". GILL I will second that. Also, JOAO and its pronunciation will confirm the common observation of Spanish speakers that Portuguese is nothing but badly spoken Spanish. (Their opinion, not mine.)

Caught on at HOOVERJAM and then the fun was guessing the others. SNOODS is a a nice goofy word and been away too long. I liked OATIER just for the chutzpah it took to stick it in a puzzle.

Doing these for fun still works for me. Thanks guys.

davidm 3:28 PM  

The biggest kick I got out of this puzzle was very accurately predicting what Rex would say about it. :) I got JUST BUNNIES almost immediately, looked at the title, and thought: that’s it? Swapping D’s for J’s? Then, I thought, at the very least, maybe some J’s will also be swapped for D’s, but no. Well, I did like GRAVE JIGGERS.

Z 3:34 PM  

@Trudy Morgan-Cole - I suspect that was a wheelhouse effect. My overall impression is that the range of difficulty is roughly comparable to the NYT Sunday crosswords. But I say this with no certainty as I don’t generally time myself and I find the Sunday NYTX more often tedious than challenging, so I might be discounting its difficulty level.

@Amelia - I don’t disagree. Nothing you write changes the fact that some people put the guy somewhere between Cosby and C.K. on their loathsome scale. And if I’m remembering correctly (and I am) Rex’s plaint was (paraphrasing here) can we not see him everyday? I actually lean more your way, but experience tells me any of the versions could be more grounded in reality.

@Anon - LOL. Would it be pertinent or impertinent of me to point out that my earlier post was very much about the puzzle? And about Rex’s blog. And a response to another comment. As opposed to your comment which is only whining about my post. If the mods cared I suspect your post would go before mine.

JC66 3:40 PM  


I think LIVY was used to indicate the answer would be in Latin.

Carola 3:40 PM  

Cute, liked it. Worth it just for JUST BUNNIES, with GARBAGE JUMP a close second. I liked the parallel-but-not COINAGE and ICEAGE.

Peacenik 3:41 PM  

@WmC. The atom bombing of Japan was only in magnitude worse than other bombing but was nonetheless wrong. My hypothesis is that the U.S. military wanted a "live" bomb test to see what happened to people. There might have been a better way to coerce surrender. Nobody will ever know.

Unknown 3:44 PM  

I've heard the phrase, "She has a great set of tatas!"--never thought I'd see it in a NYT crossword.

Aphid Larue 3:46 PM  

The puzzle was fun. Fresno was wonderful. My favorite line was spoken by the male lead, who walked through all of the scenes bare- chested, with his shirt draped over his back hanging from one finger. Very late in the show someone encountered him and he explained. “ I just came back for a clean shirt”.

Crimson Devil 4:21 PM  

One insignificant fact for today: SNOOD is also the term for apparently worthless piece of flesh that dangles off of a turkey’s forehead.

Gypsyboom 5:00 PM  

Well, as someone from Fresno I am surprised you have never heard of TATAS... but yes this one was easy. Once I got the clue and found where the J fell, the answers just jumped offf the page.... and I agree you are justified in calling out the complacency of the NYT

BHS62 5:09 PM  

Here in Greenville, SC, there are bumper stickers on many cars with "SAVE THE TATAS." At first, I assumed tatas were rare marine creatures, maybe like manatees. There are lots of stickers about saving them too. Turns out it's an anti-cancer message. -- donate so that your granny won't die too soon. Ugh!

Robert A. Simon 5:41 PM  

Rex's comment that this puzzle is actually from the 1990's is more correct than even he thinks. AFTA--and for that matter Lectric Shave--were made by Mennen and were moderately and consistently advertised on sporting events for decades. (Doing a little math with the ol' sales-to-advertising ratio, they had to be $100 MM brands, easy.)

But ever since 1992--when Colgate-Palmolive bought Mennen--both brands have been in decline because CP didn't buy Mennen for them. They needed (as only corporations can need) to be in the deodorant aisle. They wanted Speed-Stick and bought Mennen to get it. So AFTA and Lectric Shave became cash cows to the point where it's difficult to find either in smallish personal care sections.

And, damn it, AFTA was always my favorite. At least it made today's puzzle, tear-stained though the entry was.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

JIGGER is offensive. Really offensive.
As in, coon jigger.
Search YouTube....

And Rex, shame on you for not noticing.
You and your selective outrage....

Sandra Mann 6:25 PM  

Unas or unos - means “some” or “a few” in Spanish.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

Jigger by itself has no offensive connotations. You really reached for this.

Hblschwartz 8:51 PM  

A portion of a relay, on land or water, is a LEG

Vernon'sdad 9:25 PM  

Livy was a Roman, so Livy's word for earth is terra. Yes, It's a circuitous way to get there.

Vernon'sdad 9:26 PM  

My feelings exactly!

Vernon'sdad 9:29 PM  

Wow. Thanks for that bit of info

E. Buzz Miller 9:48 PM  

They’re AC/DC switch hitters . . .

Uncle Alvarez 9:49 PM  

That’s amazing

Nutsack City Limits 9:51 PM  

Rex is a damn genius

PatKS 4:42 AM  

Fast puzzle for me and pretty boring. The 1st clue I solved was 75D, ACME, her initials duh. Never heard SCALAR, hated ALOAD, GEN-Y, and so very, very sick of Mt. Etna. SCRUNCHY is not ever spelled that way in real life. Have no idea what a JOSS stick is. As for UNAS, it is 100% said as ALGUNAS. No one says UNAS. #Stupid
AFTA is correct? I thought it was atra or aftra.

Have a nice week Rex!

Tim 8:22 AM  

"X-Ray Spex" were an item advertised in the backs of comic books ca. 70s. They did not, it turned out, employ X-ray technology.

There is certainly a book titled "I, Robot," by not-infrequent crossword answer Isaac Asimov -,_Robot Even adaptations needs screenwriters.

unclejohn 11:56 AM  

Nice avatar, LMS. Surprised there weren't any comments on it.

unclejohn 12:02 PM  

Nice avatar LMS. I'm surprised there weren't any comments on it.

spacecraft 1:16 PM  

Oh wow: JOAO is RIGHT???? My God, how would you even say it? DNF, because I "knew" it couldn't be JOAO, but didn't know where to fix it. The whole thing was getting to be a hot mess anyway, and then I saw "rapper," and just chucked it. SCALAR? And you call this EASY???

Plus, rolling in the deep is supposed to be a familiar phrase? At that point, I just said forget it. DNBTF.

Burma Shave 3:09 PM  


with full LIPS and TATAS, nothing AMISS.


rondo 3:46 PM  

BUSTA Rhymes a gimme, only because the Vikings drafted Buster Rhymes out of Oklahoma many years ago. Got JUSTBUNNIES and HOOVERJAM at about the same time and the road to hilarity began. Expected OFL to jump on the ACME answer because of vanity purposes, but no. Looking back, there seems to be no write-overs, so there's that.

Don't care for the CLUE CLUE.

Certainly a yeah baby in MILA Kunis, but it coulda been singer JOSS Stone. Or even ARLENE Dahl, a good SWEDE from right here in Mpls., MN.

A RRN, an abbr. RMK among many other abbr.s, plenty o' partials, the CLUE CLUE and the EMS CLUE; was this a favorite of YERS? I see @spacey gave it up for LENT.

Diana, LIW 7:28 PM  

I'm always happy to see ACME as the constructor, ut this was surprisingly bland. With bland words I never heard of. Like SCALAR, JOAO, ALAMEDA. How do you like your cereal? OATIER!

Just kinda missed the mark, and Sunday needs all the help it can get.

Lady Di

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

Some fairly obscure answers and some offbeat cluing but finally finished it although not with a fast time. Now I think I'll take a few laps in the short course pool. Maybe 16. Or 64. And say my tatas.

lodsf 12:17 PM  

Late post but ... anyone who has read this blog for awhile (not sure how many years it’s been) would never mistake 75D for “apex” if they had read the constructors names. Overall the puzzle was perfectly fine for this humble solver. (And I suspect that the NYT audience has many humble solvers!)

Blade 10:14 AM  

“...number two problem.” Well played!

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