Broad Australian accent informally / SUN 4-21-19 / Boatercycle / 1958 #1 hit in foreign language / Let float as currency

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Constructor: Grant Thackray

Relative difficulty: Medium (11:40)

THEME: "The Inside Story"PICTURE-IN-PICTURE (70A: Small screen superimposed on a large screen ... or a hint to this puzles' shaded squares) [above, circled squares]—movie titles embedded in other movie titles, creating wacky phrases

Theme answers:
  • THE LITTLE METER MAID (24A: Who has trouble reaching a windshield to place a ticket?) [1989, 1982]
  • CRAYON TACT (17D: Good manners in kindergarten drawing?) [1997, 2004]
  • MINI-CARSONS (42A: Talk show host Johnny's children?) [2015, 2006]
  • BOTHERING RAT (52A: Traitor who gets on one's nerves?) [2006, 2002]
  • PETITER PAN (77D: Smaller piece of cookware?) [1953, 2017]
  • STARTED WARS (102A: Initiated global conflicts?) [1977, 2012]
  • GETS CREAM OUT (95A: Prepares for guests who don't like their coffee black?) [2017, 1996]
  • DOCTOR'S WALLET RANGE (123A: Selection of billfolds for medical professionals?) [2016, 2008]
Word of the Day: STRINE (120A: Broad Australian accent, informally) —
  1. 1. 
    the English language as spoken by Australians; the Australian accent, especially when considered striking or uneducated.
  1. 1. 
    relating to Australians or Australian English.

    "he spoke with a broad Strine accent" (google)
• • •

The revealer should've been the title. Mostly because the title is terrible and inaccurate (there's also an "outside" story so wtf?), and also because the fill could use a little breathing room. One less theme answer might've let some air in, let some actually interesting non-theme answers in. I think this is an ingenious play on the phrase PICTURE-IN-PICTURE, though the results are a real mixed bags. Too often, the resulting wacky phrases are painfully contrived, so much so that they can't even be clued very plausibly. CRAYON TACT makes sense on no lever. The clue doesn't help, but honestly, there isn't a good clue, because the phrase is nonsense. BOTHERING RAT, also awkward. Clue turns "bothering" into an adjective ... which, again, awkward, as no one uses "bothering" that way—to mean, essentially, annoying. Then there's STARTED WARS, which is so ordinary a phrase that it undermines the whole premise. We were promised wacky! Seems like something close to cheating to use so many very short movie titles as the inserts. "IT"? Really? That's a novel, and it (!) is not much of an accomplishment, inserting that into a film to get a wacky phrase. Watch: "PULPIT FICTION." Nailed "It"! Check please!?

Further: "IT" is a novel. I know, it was made into a movie. But if you put, say, "EMMA" in this puzzle, while you'd technically be correct (there are movie versions of the Austen novel), "EMMA" is really best known as a novel. See also "Doctor Strange," who is a comic book character. His self-titled movie ... man, who can keep track of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). I've seen every MCU movie thru "Black Panther" and I couldn't tell you a damn thing about "Doctor Strange," because he's not popular and no one cares. Hey, did you know there *is* a movie called "Doctor Strange ... love?" It's true! Really wish that could've been the movie involved here. Biggest theme no-no is having a stray "shaded square" (i.e. circled square in my grid) from a Down themer appear in the middle of an Across themer. Keep your shaded squares discrete. Only shaded squares in a themer should be ones involving the movie title. Stray shaded squares = sloppy. Also, re: "PETITER PAN"?—"Petiter"??? Use words that people actually use! Sounds like you don't know how to say "potato."

SAWS LOGS is no good because it's practically adjacent to RIPSAW. That's a SAW too far. I think the WET dupe might actually be worse, though, as WET WIPE (47A: Moist towelette) and WET ONE (133A: Slobbery kiss) are actually The Same Thing (though I see how you've tried to clue WET ONE as a kiss ... nice try):

SLOP. I struggled in two places. First, I had Beetle Bailey as a SGT (6D), so for the second day in a row, wrong answers cost me dearly. Since PBANDJ had a very tough clue (I guess it's "packed with juice" in a child's lunchbox?), and "boatercycle" is a stupid term I've never heard, and I thought the father on "black-ish" was maybe ABE (??), and I kept wanting to change BOLT DOWN to WOLF DOWN (7D: Eat quickly), that section was a nightmare. But it all started with SGT. The other tough part was STRINE. That is a word known only to Australians. My Kiwi wife hadn't even heard of it, though god bless her for saying it out loud, because until she did, I actually had no idea how to pronounce it or how it might signify a "broad Australian" accent. If you say STRINE (rhymes with "line"), then I believe you are modeling how someone with said broad Australian accent would, in fact, say the word "Australian." Anyway, this is the most obscure thing I've ever seen in the puzzle. This is someone trying very very hard to be oh-so-clever and get a "new" word into the grid, reasonableness be damned. Annoying.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. "I DIG" does not mean "sounds good!" At all. No. It means, "I understand."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joe Dipinto 12:09 AM  

I liked THE LITTLE METER MAID. The other themers? Well, I'll try not to be aspish. Rex touched on most of the issues. This puzzle left me...disappointed, I guess.

I think we covered this recently, but "Volare" was *not* the name of the original 1958 Italian language #1 hit song. It became appended as a parenthetical title, or used as the main title when Mitchell Parish's English lyric was sung. (I know, I know, who cares?--but it's fun to nitpick.)

Happy Easter and Passover, to all who are celebrating.

jae 12:09 AM  

Easy-medium. Thought this was cute but @Rex makes some valid points...two WETs, down circle in an across theme answer...liked it.

Re: Keeping track of solving times. I solve on an iPad. I switched from paper and pencil a couple of years ago so save trees and expensive printer ink. I am not a speed solver. I type in answers with one finger on the iPad key board display. That said, because the timer is running, I try to solve the early week puzzle as quickly as I can. It makes the easy puzzles more fun because it adds another dimension to the solve. For later week puzzles my goal is to finish. The timer just tells me how hard it was for me to do that.

mmorgan 12:12 AM  

I almost kinda sorta agree with Rex today, but (no surprise) I liked it much more than he did. Yes, having a stray circle from a down themer appear in an across themer was weird and off putting and I knew it would stoke Rex’s ire. (Yay! I was right!). Some themers had more pleasing wackiness than others and I actually agree with Rex on the ones that were almost a stretch too far. Petiter was weird but it makes perfect sense in the context of this puzzle. While I agree some many of Rex’s criticisms, I still enjoyed solving this overall (as usual) and I found varied parts of this to be more difficult than usual for a Sunday.

Runs with Scissors 12:26 AM  

Movie titles...okay.

Truly underwhelmed. Nothing made me sit up and say "damn that was good."

I'm done.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Brian 12:35 AM  

After decades of paper solving I switched to the iPhone app. And for some reason the blue shading at times throws me off — as soon as I move away and the answer lites are white I get it instantly.

Jyqm 12:35 AM  

“IT” is a novel, sure. It’s also the highest-grossing horror film ever, so I’d say its credentials as a film are pretty well established. And I know damn well you wouldn’t balk if “The Lord of the Rings” were clued with reference to the movies.

P.S. You are absolutely wrong about “I DIG.” It most certainly does/did mean “Sounds good” in the sense of “I’m into/down with it.”

joebloggs 12:55 AM  

To use BOLT DOWN as a term for eating is borderline ridiculous. Going to lead most people to WOLF DOWN. Kept thinking they can’t mean BOLT DOWN

TomAz 1:06 AM  

What a slog. I mean Sundays are usually a slogfest but even in that context this was dreck. Really a chore to figure out what mediocre crap was embedded in what other mediocre crap. DOCTOR STRANGE? wtf is this, USA Today?

And CHESTER the Cheetohs mascot? This from the paper that graces us with Thomas Friedman. 100 years from now, when our history is being written, and authors are describing the transition from 'market economy' to 'market society', they could point to (presumably relatively well-educated) NYT xword solvers being expected to know the name of a commercial cartoon character whose sole reason for being is to sell unhealthy junk food.

Don't even get me started on PETITER. This puzzle should have been banished to Siberia or North Dakota or something for that tripe alone.

PS I disagree with Rex re I DIG. In certain contexts it can mean "sounds good". In other contexts it will mean "I understand". "Hey man let's get all the cats together and write some songs about the President smoking dope in the White House restroom while Russia and China steal all our private information." "Oh wow man, I dig, I dig!"

puzzlehoarder 1:49 AM  

I solved this strictly by the fill. Only then did I look over the puzzle to get the theme. Movie titles embedded in other movie titles to make nonsensical phrases. It must have been a lot of work.

chefwen 2:31 AM  

As soon as it printed out I said “Oh goodie, circles” and imagined @Nancy saying, “Damn little annoying circles” Hi Nancy!

Maybe a tad bit too easy, but I sure did have fun solving, even chuckled a few times. MINI CARS ONS being tie favorite. PET IT ERPAN, not so much.

Off to a new week, they just keep coming faster and faster, don’t they?

Dave 6:14 AM  

I liked the puzzle overall, but I am a bit surprised that Rex -- as a baseball fan -- let slide the terrible clue/answer at 39A ("Major leagues"). While I get it's not technically exclusively a baseball-related clue, the term at least primarily is associated with baseball.

And people in baseball just do NOT refer to the "Major leagues" as THE PROS. Ever. Why? Because there are about a million and two "pro" baseball levels between being an amateur and the Majors. THE SHOW . . . sure. But THE PROS? No. Just no.

Lewis 6:30 AM  

Clever theme idea, and I imagine it's hard to come up with theme answers, Rex's PULPIT FICTION notwithstanding. Any puzzle with my dog's name (CHESTER) gets my thumb up.

One answer over another gave me a new way to say "water break": AGUA SEGUE.

And I loved loved loved PETITER. You bet your sweet patootie I did. I don't care how much hate it engenders among the commenters today. I love how it feels to say. And Rex is right, a PETITER PAN sounds like a utensil for making hash browns. You say PETITER and I'll say PETOTTER. This word is a terrific springboard. A most lovely holiday gift!

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

I have known STRINE for 50 years and have never been to Australia. Multiple people who have visited Australia or have read about things Australian have told me. It's probably also mentioned in Bill Bryson's very enjoyable book, In a Sunburned Country. More of the randomness of what some people know and what others know.

On the other hand, while I understood from THELITTLEMETERMAID that movies were involved in this puzzle, it sure didn't help me at all. I didn't get PETITERPAN from PETERPAN + IT and like most people had no idea DOCTORSTRANGE was a movie - just assumed he was being sloppy because he couldn't fit in LOVE.

For some reason it took me forever to realize that NONET was the natural extension from quartet through octet. I doubt I have ever seen or heard that word used in my life, but it is of course obvious.

I have only ever heard SHAGS in its naughty British sense and was very reluctant to put it in for that reason. It's considered so naughty in Britain that papers there are wont to print it as S***S or something similar.

I also have a picky peeve about AGUA. Rio Grande is the American name for the river. Its name in the Spanish-speaking country that it also runs along, Mexico, is (El) Rio Bravo (del Norte). So the stuff it contains would never be AGUA.

I get boatercycle now, but I was thinking of some kind of boat with a waterwheel that you propel with pedals (I think such a thing actually exists), and just didn't see what that had to do with a JETSKI even when those eventually seemed like the obvious letters to fill in.

And I had no idea about DRE; I got the PB of 6A and assumed it had to be PBJ---; so that whole section was horrible for me.

Another petty quibble: isn't one of the unwritten rules of crossword puzzles that the use of another language is to be hinted at? (130A: IDEST)

QuasiMojo 7:49 AM  

Never heard of a Picture-in-Picture. I almost had a DNF because I assumed it had to be Margaret CHO on that y’all show and never heard of a Cheetah named Chester. No idea what WALLE is. Overall, I DIG... Not. But the ACME clue was cute. I got to go BOLT DOWN some eggs. Happy Hopping!

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Fun ..but I need to watch more old movies...and visit Australia.... and eat Cheetos..

Allen 8:19 AM  

I really liked the clue Sister of Moses - most appropriate for this holiday puzzle.

amyyanni 8:22 AM  

@HungryMother, how was the 5K? I'd rather chat about that, as I just didn't like this puzzle. A lot of the answers were too forced. Wanted to enjoy it; alas, I gave up before finishing. Just a slog.

Hungry Mother 8:37 AM  

Clever theme, fun to suss out the Easter eggs. It seemed a bit slogish tho. In the end, I finished faster than usual.

lizz 8:48 AM  

IT was made into a movie twice, and both times, it was incredibly popular. Many people of my generation know IT best as a movie rather than a novel. I enjoy your solves and commentary, but like many others, I really do grow weary of you disliking anything outside your experience and expertise. Just because YOU aren't familiar with the answer doesn't make it objectively bad. I wish you'd go further to acknowledge that YMMV.

Nancy 8:50 AM  

For this theme to be fun, the made-up phrases have to be sparkling or zippy or amusing or something. But I mean BOTHERING RAT????? DOCTOR'S WALLET RANGE???? GETS CREAM OUT???? Give me a break! And then there are the clues to these awful phrases. Absolutely tortured, I'd say.

Add to that the rest of the fill -- much of it groaning with pop culture. The fictional company crossing the Cheetos mascot crossing the Weekend Update anchor was the final straw. I found this a joyless, irritating slog from beginning to end.

kitshef 8:51 AM  

I agree with Rex on WET ONE/WET WIPE and … nothing else.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Very clever.

I was (until I read Rex) baffled by the clue for PBANDJ, which almost led to a DNF as I had sgT for Beetle Bailey, no chance on DRE, and NAMES was a tough clue. With all those downs wrong or blank, VOLARE was tough to come by.

Dan Steele 8:53 AM  

Wow. I can’t believe this was pushed to a “medium” because OFL (a comic book guy, right?) thought that Beetle Bailey was a sergeant. We all know different stuff, but that is something. Unless in some ridiculous development he actually WAS promoted decades after I last read the strip, that is a bizarre misconception.

It took me awhile to get going on this one. Struggled with the fill. Once I got the theme, though, most of them tumbled pretty quickly. It was fun trying to get the themes with very few letters.

I think The Inside Story is a fine title. Even if, yeah, there were Outside Stories too.

Dan Steele 8:58 AM  

Since I criticized Rex a little in my earlier comment — hey, I agree with his Cheetohs (?) comment. This was a great opportunity to mention an iconic character from the early days of television, which seems obscure enough. I guess I am old though, and it’s not my world anymore. Thanks kids for letting me hang around for a while.

Nancy 9:02 AM  

@chefwen (2:31) -- The paper edition had gray squares, not annoying tiny little circles, so, unlike you, I was spared. I don't mind gray squares: they don't squoosh my entries the way tiny little circles do. This puzzle annoyed me even without tiny little circles. I can't begin to imagine how much it would have annoyed me if it had had them.

fkdiver 9:05 AM  

Wallet? The 2015 comedy short, or the 67-year old British film? Never heard of either one. And what's the lone circled "T" doing in sTarTEDwars" Messy, violates its own theme. As a themeless it worked OK I guess.

webwinger 9:08 AM  

Can't take issue with a single one of @Rex's points today. Really did not like PETITERPAN, though @Lewis made the case for it nicely. Also, the resulting intrusion of a Down themer shaded/circle square into an Across themer: very, very bad!

Teedmn 9:11 AM  

This theme was hard for me to see. Why I got it at BO[THERING]RAT, I don't know. Probably because BORAT can't be anything but a movie whereas CONTACT is just a word.

The title works well, describing what's happening without giving the plot away. I get Rex's critique but big whoop.

The resulting phrases have varying success - THE LITTLE M[ET]ER MAID is cute. DOCTORS[WALLE]TRANGE is just, um, STRANGE. Plus, I'd never heard of the DOCTOR STRANGE movie and was wondering where the LOVE went, like many, I'm sure. PET[IT]ER? Ouch.

Is 92A a thing? UPS, the delivery company in brown, or ___ and downs is what I would prefer. Though DOWN is in the grid. But WET is in the grid twice, as is ONE, suuuu... (as M&A would say).

I had a CITY PLAt, a ROut, not a ROMP, omelets were on the brunch menu before the MIMOSAS were poured. I misspelled SAKi for about the 40th time, and I tried very hard to think of an instrument that started with "tri" for 1D. I guess not everything is Greek- or Latin-based, SNORT. But overall, this was easy for a Sunday and I succeeded. Happy Easter.

Grant, nice Sunday, thanks.

DeclanMcMan 9:14 AM  

Fkdiver, the film is “Wall-E,” and the T is the cross for the film “It” in the down answer.

Teedmn 9:16 AM  

STRINE - I once read a book about the English language and how the spelling of English words evolved. It also touched on the various accents and cited a book titled "Let Stalk Strine". I loved saying that out loud over and over, enjoying how it gave me that Australian accent. And thus, STRINE plopped right in today.

Steve 9:23 AM  

The movie is WALLE (WALL-E).

Aketi 9:28 AM  

Aww, didn’t anyone else like the MINI CARSONS? Even though it makes more sense for the MINIONS to be in the CARS rather than the other way around?

And saying PETITER PANS three times in a row real fast?

Aketi 9:30 AM  

@Quasi, WALLE ranks up there on my favorite animated kids movies. I highly recommend it.

kitshef 9:45 AM  

One issue with the theme. Neither ET nor BORAT are movie names. The former is E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the latter is BORAT: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Z 9:47 AM  

There’s this notion I’d run into from students and their parents. If Jack or Jill worked really hard than, naturally, a good grade would follow. The problem is, that this isn’t necessarily so. This puzzle is a fine example. There are spots of inspiration, THE LITTLE METER MAID, PETITER PAN, and CRAYON TACT, are just absurd enough that they bring a smile. And then the constructor kept pounding away but the inspiration was gone. GETS CREAM OUT is the most mundane, green paintish of the lot, but it’s close. Just because the constructor worked hard to find all these possible themers does not mean he should have used them all. If he had cut the themers down from 8 to 5 this puzzle would have been better. It’s hard to set aside one's hard work, but sometimes not doing so diminishes the good stuff.

@Gill I yesterday - Peeking? Nah. Just referencing your first sentence yesterday.

nyc_lo 9:52 AM  

When I realized the themers were going to be impenetrable nonsense, I just skipped ahead, relying on crosses. I hoped when I got to the end, I’d go back and read them for a satisfying chuckle, but not so much. A better title for the puzzle would have been “Sigh. Okay, I see what you did there.”

Disliked IT straying into the STARTEDWARS cross. Messy. And why not go for the hat trick and shove in “wet naps?” That would almost have made it clever instead of clumsy.

Carola 9:56 AM  

I was halfway through before I saw that the INSIDE STORY did indeed have an outside story, too. That was a big help in getting me C-RAY-ONTACT and the three pairs in the lower tier. Nicely challenging for me, and fun to figure out.

- BOLT v wolf: with the L in place from LITTLE, I wrote BOLT right in. Never thought of wolf.
- @Nancy, I enjoyed reading your screed, but GETS CREAM OUT was one I really liked. Depending on who's coming over, I consider whether I need to get out the half-and-half.
- I'm with @QuasiMojo in always getting a smile from ACME - fantastic product RANGE, particularly in the anvil department.
- Learned: NIHAO, STRINE.

Petite Erpan 9:57 AM  

Don't they send minor league players up to THEbigs anymore? I don't know that I would ever say "the pros." "In the pros they play baseball good." "Hey Nashville Sounds player, will you ever play in the pros?" wtf?

I really think that every constructor should go through their grids and use every non-theme word in a sentence. THEPROS is not a thing. I mean, I suppose some of you here in this comments section have probably been saying it for 50 years. But that would be weird.

Lol at anon 7:23AM who's known STRINE for 50 years but has never shagged a baseball. The people who post in this comments section are interesting, to say the least.

How did the WET and SAW duplications get by WS? The occasional "at" or "up" or some other trailing word is understandable, but WET and SAW are different. Seems like a cardinal sin committed on this Easter Sunday.

KRMunson 10:09 AM  

A slogfest for the solver (i.e., me) but quite a work of art. A Tour de Force by the constructor.

Jack D. Ripper 10:10 AM  

I know know Dr. Strangelove. I’d never heard of Doctor Strange. Turns out it’s a comic book movie.

Simone 10:16 AM  

What about "Leave no tern unstoned"? What kind of sadist uses this a "jocular" phrase? (tho I quite enjoyed this puzzle)

Z 10:16 AM  

“Going pro” is a phrase that is more basketball and football related than baseball. Major League Baseball has an extensive professional feeder system, all paid (although not enough) professionals. Even kids playing in a Rookie League or Short Season A Ball are in THE PROS. Technically, the US has four “major leagues” (The Majors, the NBA, the NHL, and the NFL - MLS, despite its name, is not yet a major league), so the clue isn’t “wrong,” but it is a usage that is going to make baseball aficionados twitch.

Regarding ACME, on the way to the fields in Aurora Colorado is a huge warehouse/factory type building emblazoned with ACME Distribution on the side. I assume that’s where Coloradans go for anvils.

tobias 10:19 AM  

the bottom line is that the puzzle maker is too young to be making puzzles for people over 40 to enjoy.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Everyone ok with “aspish”?

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

Well, I rather enjoyed this. Maybe because I'm in a good mood or maybe because the AUSTRALIAN leg of lamb that beckons has me in hog heaven. Just kidding...I know the difference. Oink.
THE LITTLE METER MAID got the first smile of the day...oh, and I loved CRAYON TACT. How many times were you told to keep all the colors in the lines? SNORT.
I'm thinking this was clever and it certainly was different. Do you sit in a PUB all day long, Grant, and decide after a few, how to come up with this type of theme? The only head scratcher was 102A. The T in STAR[TED] WARS was shaded. So in reality, it came off as SAR WARS (if you want to get all technical and stuff).
Cluing was fun. Like the ACME one. Sang VOLARE at the top of my lungs, learned STRINE and wondered what a SAKE CUP is.
@jae 12:09. I can't imagine giving up paper for the iPad. I've tried it. I've also tried it on my phone. I need to write in the margins - anything that comes to mind. Dead tree is the only way. What would you use instead of toilet paper?
@Z...well,of course I knew that.....nuts and all.
Happy Easter. I must go boil some eggs because I do it every single year. Usually I make dozens of deviled eggs and take them to my favorite shelter because there is a STRANGE gal everybody calls "Fur" (long story) who'd ask for them. I'm in Auburn this year but I will still boil them and think of her and all of the pups she adopts. My granddaughter will eat them.....

Ray M 10:38 AM  

No one has mentioned “leave no tern unstoned;” a jocular phrase I’ve never heard. Where’d that come from?

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

38A. MARCO. Explain please! Thanks

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

If you are in Britain you'd better never say you've shagged a baseball. :)

I didn't say I'd never heard the term. I just felt it wouldn't be in the puzzle because it is so improper in at least one English speaking country.

I've heard "leave no tern unstoned." It is dark humor and not meant seriously. It's a possible corollary to killing two birds with one stone.

Acme is also a supermarket chain. Maybe they have a distribution center in Aurora CO?

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

I liked this a lot. Clue for PBANDJ was the best.

Rex is a grumpy not-so-old man...what a shame.

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Anonymous: It’s from the swimming-pool game where one person shouts “Marco” and everybody else shouts back “Polo”.

Birchbark 10:59 AM  

GETS CREAM OUT is perfect, vivid, awkward -- a friendly sort of ANGST in readying for guests whose preferences are known. The clue and answer work best if the coffee is percolating and comes from a can. Without doubt, the refrigerator is just as modern. Its handle is hinged and must be pulled to unlatch the door. We run a cotton towel one last time over the formica countertop and hear a car door closing in the driveway -- they're here, and voices in the living room saying "They're here --", smiling. So we're to the door to greet them and all that follows.

Shawangunk Solver 10:59 AM  

A game like blind man’s bluff played in swimming pools across the US. The “it” has their eyes closed and yells out “Marco,” to which all the other players must respond “Polo,” this clueing their positions for the It player to try and catch them.. Sneaky players dive underwater instead.

Shawangunk Solver 11:06 AM  

Puzzle: big fat meh, and this from a movie lover who knew every movie on the list. It was cute (esp THELITTLEMetERMAID) but the clues and phrases were too tortured, eg ABOTHERINGRAT. A few brief enjoyments: I loved repeating STRINE to myself and hearing my instant Australian accent. Yes, easily amused. No; nobody heard me but the dog, who was just happy to lean against me regardless.

Bunny 11:26 AM  

Those who can, do. Those who can't come to this blog and nit pick at those who can.

Brilliant puzzle, Sunday morning pleasantly spent.

@mericans in Paris 11:26 AM  

HOLA! We completed this puzzle yesterday, and expected OFL not to like it. (We assumed that the theme had been used before.) Otherwise, it played easy across a lot of it (I work in an international environment so STRINE was a gimme), and hard in a few SPOTs, so medium sounds about right.

Funny to see SHAGS clued the way it was. (DO I DARE go there? Yes.) In British English, SHAGS is the ROMP of an afternoon DELIte that happens when somebody SKORes. [SNORT!]

Which provides a SEGUE us to WET ONE, and WET WIPE. I agree with @Rex that these come close to a duplication. And is there much of a difference between a CITY PLAN and a MAP of said CITY?


P.S., Our lunch today was grilled rabbit sausages, I kid you not. Happy Easter, y'all!

David 11:26 AM  

Anyone who grew up through the 60s would know "I dig" could mean "sounds good". Also, since we had the draft back then, we know Beetle Bailey is a PFC, not a PVT (which is nothing). Of course I had PFC on one side and Seadoo® on the other, making that little section unsolvable for some time. Made up abbreviations and varying plurals or transliterations are the bane of crosswords everywhere. Back then we shagged flies as well. Not being a baseball fan I have no clue if people still do.

As usual I ignored the themers, which were uniformly awful. And I didn't even register the "r" appending "petite" until I came here. Being an editor, sometimes one's brain just edits such idiocy out without even seeing it, which can be a problem on the job.

Picture in Picture was a thing the "hi end" TV set wanted for 10 minutes or so sometime near the end of the 20th cCE.

We finally got a specific clue for the ubiquitous "I beam" answer, thanks for that as well as the single nod to today's celebrations (presumably a coincidence, but anyway).

My mother was an RN for 65 years (she retired at 86 and held onto her license until she was 89), and my sister still is. Their training involved a lot more than "CPR", but at least it's a better answer than the usual demeaning "TLC".

Lastly Rex, it's kind of sweet how you believe most Americans would think of Jane Austen rather than the movie Emma. I'm sure that's the case in your classes, but out here in the real world I'd expect the opposite.

QuasiMojo 11:31 AM  

@Aketi, thanks for the info re WallE.

Blue Stater 11:50 AM  

What a hot mess, for all the reasons OFL pointed out, and more. I can't understand why the NYTXW ever published this.

Taffy-Kun 12:19 PM  

Can anyone explain why the paperback “Let Stalk Strine” seems to cost over $40?

Aphid Larue 12:23 PM  

Dre is a nickname for Andre in Blackish, a funny show that touches on a lot of serious issues. An upper income black family discusses whether to give their new. son a “black” name, what to do when an older son wants to join a protest, and so on.

OffTheGrid 12:36 PM  

I like challenge on Sunday and I never read the title. The circles (or shaded squares) gave the whole thing away. It would have been a lot more fun to figure it out from the revealer alone. WTF?

It's bad enough people get their bloomers in a bunch over certain words, now we're supposed to worry about "bad" words in other countries?

Favorite was THELITTLEMETERMAID. Only good one, really.

Liked 50 before/TENPAST.

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Suuuu … (yo, @Teedmn, who originally introduced M&A to suuuu) …

Theme mcguffin is one that M&A woulda assumed could be impossible to build 8 examples for, especially symmetrical-lengthed ones. Flick title splatzed within flick title, to build a wacky phrase. I'da thought @RP might be impressed, by the hard work that musta went into that. Buuuut … nuuuu.

Anyhoo, I'm impressed and thought in was a funny, enjoyable, often schlock-filled theme. Thanx for the EasterSunFun, Mr. ThackRAY. Nice subtle 22x21 gridsize nudge, also.

Agree with @RP, that the extra circled T letter in STARTEDWARS was a bit confusin. Lost precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: TSE. a.k.a. TSU. Or TZU. Or TZE. Or ZI. day-um, it's like if M&A could also be M&U, M&OO, M&E, and M&Also ...

May y'all's Easter egg hunts all be prodigious and delicious.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Joe Dipinto 1:06 PM  

@Anonymous 10:41 -- Haven't you seen the Geico commercial where the "real" Marco Polo is in the pool, not comprehending the game? "Scusi, io sono Marco Polo." It's actually pretty funny.

iseattle3 1:50 PM  

“Petiter” as an alternate pronunciation of “Potato” is the funniest thing I’ve read this year. Thank You Rex!!!

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I'm Canadian, and I knew "strine ". Surprised a Kiwi didn't know.

Unknown 1:53 PM  

Am I mistaken but isn’t ET a character and not a movie? Wasn’t the movie actually ET: The Extra Terrestrial?

msue 1:59 PM  

Regarding I DIG: In the 1960s in central Texas, saying I DIG indicated that 1) I was super groovy, 2) I was cool as a tie-dyed hippie from California, and 3) I liked something a lot. Ex: Herman's Hermits? The Monkees? Bell bottoms? I DIG. Homework? Cleaning up my room? I DID NOT DIG. Our usage leaned more toward "Sounds good!" than "I understand", although the term definitely could be used in either context.

The puzzle wasn't a total slog, but unforgivably, it was joyless. I didn't dig it. Never saw or heard STRINE in any context. Years of listening to my Aussie next door neighbor makes it easier to hear how the term came into existence. Not puzzle worthy, though.

Jyqm 2:00 PM  

Agreed 100%! The 1990 IT miniseries was a huge television success that is still rerun on cable today, and the 2017 was a massive phenomenon. I think it made something like $800 billion worldwide, and the “Chapter Two” sequel coming out this year is pretty highly anticipated. We’ve all got our opinions, of course, and I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the execution of this theme, either. But you’d think an academic in particular would know the difference between writing about facts and writing one’s opinion.

jae 2:03 PM  

@GIL I - I know what you mean about writing in the margins. I do the Matt Gaffney and the WSJ meta puzzles on the weekends and those I print out because the margin space is a necessity.

Russell Davies 2:15 PM  

I'm not sure "no tern unstoned" is the the original form of this Spoonerized phrase. In Britain, at least, we are more familiar with "no turn unstoned" -- a "turn" being a theatrical performance, on the music-hall (vaudeville) stage in the old days, but later, in almost any stage presentation. Dame Diana Rigg, one of our most popular stage-and-screen people, once got together a book-length collection of negative, vicious and sometimes downright stinking theatrical reviews, still obtainable under the title "No Turn Unstoned".

old timer 2:19 PM  

Anon @7:23, I liked much of what you had to say, and if you give yourself a name (blue or otherwise) I would be happy to respond. (Never quarrel with the anonymice is a motto here).

I second the recommendation for Let's Talk Strine. Must be a copy somewhere for a lot less than $40. Let me also recommend "Larn Yersel' Geordie" for an amusing look at the Tyneside dialect.

I thought the puzzle was a Sunday SLOG. Did not enjoy it at all, and the theme just did not amuse.

Puzzle Mom 2:23 PM  

I'm with Rex. In general I found this puzzle mystifying in all the ways that Rex has set out and then some. Misleading or entirely inappropriate cluing abounded. Rex didn't mention that cluing CPR as "nurse's training" is misleading at best. EMT training? Sure. CPR is central. But it is such a minuscule part of nurses' training and, most especially, of their work that this clue called for an editor's attention. And "apish"? Really?

My least favorite puzzle of all time. Not a bit of fun.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  


What do you mean a PVT is nothing? I spent two years in the US Army with that rank.( Draftees didn't get many promotions.) But I was there, gave two years of my life to my country.

I also found it a very important part of my education.

I loved this puzzle as a terrific Birthday present as today is my 87th.

After undergoing two surgeries in the last two weeks, I can say "I Am Risen".

Now I'm going to cook a rack of lamb with asparagus and mini potatoes with 2 bottles of Cappolla Pinot Noir (which I hear translates to "Peanut of the Night")

RooMonster 2:37 PM  

Hey All !
Wow @M&A, nice catch on the 22 wide grid. No one else saw it (including me.) Are our ole brains just programmed to think Sunpuzs are always 21x21? I'm surprised @Nancy didn't kvetch about the squares being smaller than usual. (I feel her pain on SunPuzs, as the little number gets quite tough to see.)

Anyway, I quite liked this puz once I cottoned on to the theme. Neat idea. I think I saw it quicker than normal, because I did @Lewis' YesterPuz, which sorta kinda was alike. Sorta kinda. No offense meant, @Lewis.

@Quasi, are you the one who gave up TV? Or am I thinking of somebody else? Cause the PICTURE IN PICTURE thing was a hit for a while. So you must've stopped watching a while ago. I never could figure out that whole deal. I could get the small PICTURE, but could never change the channel. Twixt that and staring at my blinking VCR...

At least these movies weren't Academy Award winners, cause holy cow the s@#t storm that would've followed about the wrong years.

First themer I got was CRAYONTACT, then was MINICARSONS where I saw what was happening. Let out a "Neat!" and went about sussing out the other movies. Got a chuckle out of GETSCREAMOUT, though I don't know why. At least WOE wasn't a WOE!

DOCTOR STRANGE was a fun movie. In the Marvel Universe series. The famous How-the-characters-powers-came-to-be movie. So he could be added to the Avengers cause. My inner child still likes that kind of stuff.

So a fun puz ROMP today. Happy Easter to all who celebrate. Easy on the easing back into the stuff you gave up for Lent.


70 in Nampa 2:38 PM  

Easy easy...
Minor leagues are pros, too.
The Bigs or The Show, maybe...

Katzzz 2:39 PM  

Not okay. Ridiculous. How would you use it in a sentence?

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

I DIG means "I understand" or "I get it". I DIG IT means "I like it", etc. Or at least that was the meaning in 1969.

QuasiMojo 3:20 PM  

@RooMonster, yes, that’s me. Thanks for the helpful comment. I recently inherited a TV Monitor when I moved to my new pad, and a DVD player, which allows me to watch old movies from the library. When I can find one I want. I found a copy of Dance to the Music of Time which I enjoyed although it was greatly reduced down from its source. I seem to recall a tiny screen within a TV image but that was on C-Span back during the Clinton years.

Joe in Newfoundland 3:27 PM  

Another Sunday I could complete without "getting" the theme. In this case I didn't know the movies, but could put in the themed answers anyways.
Yes I know STRINE. Mostly from a friend who annoyingly sneaks into every conversation the fact that he has visited "Strylia"

Masked and Anonymous 3:33 PM  

"Seems like something close to cheating to use so many very short movie titles as the inserts. 'IT'? Really?" -- Rex Parker.

Maybe that's a semi-valid point. Could use one inside flick that's good and in-yer-face looong, for at least one puzthemer, to sorta even things out. Then I bet even the @RP would be semi-impressed.

How'bout: "ALLGONEWITHTHEWINDOFME"? 22 long, so fits the puzgrid just perfect (yo, @Roo). Could clue it up as: {My gas attacks do tend to clear out a crowded room"}, or somesuch. Just sayin.

"IT" and "ET" were pretty good schlock flicks, tho. Gotta show *some* respect for the runts of filmdom.


CDilly52 3:33 PM  

I sincerely hope that Mr. Thackray continues to work on this theme. It has loads of promise, was very clever but just needed a few more minutes in the oven. Normal Sunday time once I got a toehold which was not until I slammed in MINICARSONS, absolutely certain that it was correct. It was my first certainty. After that, I understood the theme and could build from there.

Brilliant concept but a rather painful yet without thrills and spills Sunday.

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Brava to Birchbark, who wrote the mid-20th century household right down to the refrigerator handle.

PhilM 4:07 PM  

I'm a Brit, and have also heard of Strine. The "author" of Let's Talk Strine is Afferbeck Lauder - and you have to say it out loud. Another nice example of Strine is Emma Chizzit - that's how you ask for the price in Oz.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Sorry, there is no way I am providing even indirectly identifying information here. Read the NYT articles on how your personal information gets scooped up despite what I am sure are Rex's best intentions.

Bill L. 4:46 PM  

Another look at "Leave no TERN unstoned".


kitshef 5:04 PM  

@PhilM - saying it out loud has led me nowhere. More explanation would be appreciated.

jberg 5:17 PM  

My grandson was singing in church from 10-12, and my wife's grandson was playing a jazz brunch across town from 12-3, so I had to put the puzzle aside and come back to it later. Fortunately, the printed paper doesn't notice these lapses. I enjoyed it, despite its faults.

I looked at 123A and thought, "Where's the LOVE?" It's a Marvel thing, huh?

@Joe DiPinto, I guess the VOLARE thing is a particular sore point since your name is in the correct title!

As for STRINE, I spent 3 months in Australia a couple of decades ago, and even brought that book home with me -- but I couldn't remember the word until I had a few crosses.

Full disclosure, though: DNF for me, because I had I SAID sO and stuck with it. I knew TEsPAT was wrong, and meant to come back to it -- but then I looked at the full grid and forgot about it. (Two memory lapses in one short comment -- don't get all ASPISH, you'll be a septuagenarian yourself someday).

Yeah, all those ACME-branded companies are fine, but here in this blog it mostly evokes Andrea Carla Michaels, who sadly has stopped posting here. Come back, @ACME.

Sarah 5:18 PM  

My streak was murdered by PBANDJ/PVT/VOLARE/DRE. I really hated myself for not being able to remember the Blackish character's name .

Tom 5:26 PM  

EXACTLY. Glad someone finally commented about TURN being the correct word. Saves me from the effort. That ruined any hope of respect I might have had for this puzzle.

Rescue2 5:40 PM  

This puzzle was just awful. The theme was lame and there were too many answers with just plain bad clues. Very disappointing for a Sunday puzzle.

Z 6:46 PM  

Imagine IT and E.T. as the outside movies instead of the inside movies.

Preferred Customer 7:16 PM  

Interesting... Who knew shagging a ball meant catching one.

Strine was definitely known. But had to be collected from the recesses of my brain.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Shouldn’t the first “T” in “STARTED WARS” be un-circled? Otherwise, the “outside” picture is “SAR WARS.”

Joe Dipinto 7:36 PM  

@jberg -- The funny thing is, I probably thought "Volare" was the title of the song too when it was on the radio. Having my name in the lyrics was cool enough for a three year old.

Joe Dipinto 7:47 PM  

@kitshef 5:04 -- I don't speak Strine, but I'm thinking "alphabetical order?"

JMS 7:57 PM  

ABRADE (I had ABLATE), and STRINE (I had _TLINE) and I didn’t know what the heck TESPA_T could resolve into (I had ISAIDSO)...
otherwise, I didn’t find it too bad (tho I did notice the overlapping themer).

Ethan Taliesin 8:32 PM  

Too much gibberish.

Lewis 9:27 PM  

@M&A 3:33 -- ALLGONEWITHTHEWINDOFME -- That really cracked me up! One of your best.

Andy 9:40 PM  

My head hurt from this.....mess I guess is how I'd describe it. Too much to try and figure out ---- something inside something but part of a bigger something.... with 2 dates???? Too clever for it's own good IMHO. I did finish it totally unaided, but so what? I need a rest.

Andy 9:41 PM  

You said in 3 words what took me dozens to say. I applaud your brevity! And I wholeheartedly agree!

CP 11:31 PM  

Completely agree. I had THE BIGS for most of my run with this puzzle. Major Leagues definitely means baseball.

a.corn 12:59 AM  

🎵can you diiig it? Yes I can!🎶

Bob Mills 9:44 AM  

When I saw "WALLE" as one of the shaded clues I was sure someone had made a mistake.

FrostMo 11:37 AM  

Thought I might be headed for a Sunday PB, but then I ran into the SE corner where I struggled bigly, not least because I was fLuBing BLAB. Anyway, I thought the theme was fun. Actually thought CRAYONTACT was a super fun answer when it finally fell.

Goolagong 3:42 PM  

Sharp is so, um, sharp. He criticizes the collection of tennis related words used, ending the comments with: “So pointless.”

Irishmaineiac 11:21 PM  

Least favorite puzzle in a very long time. I didn't dig it at all in part because I'm not a movie fan. Now, if this was about dugout, I would have fared much better.

Beagle Girl 11:42 AM  

Beetle Bailey's main foil is his superior, Sarge,

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

I thought Rex really nitpicked on this one to the point that some of his criticisms were overly one-sided. Yes, "I dig" means I understand, but there is an often element an agreement which indicates liking on the part of the digger, you dig? And while Wet Ones are indeed a brand of Wet Wipes, everyone one know if you slap a wet one on someone, it means you gave them a big sloppy kiss. C'mon man!

lodsf 11:07 PM  

Normally I think Rex P goes over-the-top with his criticisms but not for this one. Worst offense (IMO) was having a random shaded square in 2 answers where, for one answer it was “shade worthy” but for the other it was not. Surely this could have been avoided.

Unknown 10:13 AM  

Marco! Polo! A swimming pool game .

spacecraft 12:27 PM  

The ampersandwich at 6 across got me off on a bad foot. Please. You're gonna initialize Peanut, Butter, and Jelly...and then SPELL OUT the word "AND???" Can't you see how ridiculous that is? I want a rebus puzzle with REAL ampersands in it!!

The puzzle was a little confusing to get through; all those dates. And as horrible as I am at timelines, I KNOW that Stephen King's "IT" came WAY after 1958, yet WAY before 2017. So from then on I didn't pay any attention at all to the years.

One nit: I could have sworn that Dickens wrote about Bill SyKES, with a Y. Perhaps it was just a weird edition that spelled the name wrong. My only other writeover was SAWSwOod instead of LOGS. YMA Sumac gets a long overdue DOD. Par.

Burma Shave 1:25 PM  


"(IFAT last ISLE SPOT me a WETONE)."


Anonymous 5:42 PM  

Started doing the NY Times puzzles a year ago and have done them just about every day since. This IMHO is one of the worst. Tortured clues, tortured answers. Always look forward to the Sunday puzzle. Horrible disappointment.

rondo 8:36 PM  

Started down the east side and had CRAYONTACT in place and got PICTUREINPICTURE from that last __RE. Just hunted down titles after that. Out of all of those I've seen THELITTLEMERMAID and ET, due to my daughter's age, RAY, BORAT, STAR WARS, and GET OUT; so 37.5%. Higher than I first thought.

STRINE? OK then. And I guess that even after all these years Beetle Bailey (we call him BEETS) is still a PVT and not a Pfc.

Yup. YMA got the only circle. About time.

About what to expect on Sunday.

Diana,LIW 10:32 PM  

I am not one to use the word slog, but here I am, still slogging my way thru at 7 pm. '

Lady Di

Tom on Vancouver Island 8:13 PM  

For this Canadian, STRINE was familiar. But I had never heard of MARCO as part of an American swimming pool game. Different shags for different folk, I guess. (Late comment because the NYT puzzle runs a week late in the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper. The paper's name has nothing to do with colonics, BTW.)

Joe 11:20 PM  

I Dig A Pony: Does it really mean: I understand a pony? I doubt it.

Joe 11:21 PM  

“I Dig A Pony” means I understand a pony. Get it? I don’t.

Anonymous 11:54 PM  

What @Dave 6:14 AM said. And everyone else who complained about "THE PROS"

But mainly I came here to see if there was perhaps a film called "T"

(there probably is)

Vanda 4:17 PM  

tobias, I respectfully disagree (that the constructor is too young to make puzzles for the over-40s) -- based on this and on one of his I solved a few months ago, I (a lot older than 40) don't mind his reliance on younger fill and pop culture, because I think he usually makes his crossings fair (less so in today's but yes in the earlier one I solved).

The problem is that that *this* puzzle is a mess, for the reasons already cited:
--- some of the resulting theme answers are either dull or too implausible;
--- the stray T in "S T AR TED WARS" is completely unacceptable; and
--- the repetition of SAW and WET is unacceptable, and Shortz is annoyingly capricious with regard to which reps he allows (another constructor wrote about not being allowed a freestanding ECHO because he had AMAZON ECHO elsewhere in his 21x21).

I can understand that Shortz was reluctant to can this puzzle, considering how much work went into it and considering that he has so few 21x21 on hand, but this puzzle either should've been canned or seriously revised to ensure better theme answers.

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