Member of South Asian diaspora / SUN 5-19-19 / Miser's daughter in Moliere's The Miser / Male buddy in slang / Steinbeck novel featuring madam Dora Flood / 1984 Steve Perry hit

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:25)

THEME: "Hook-Ups" — themers are all Downs containing a letter string that is also a fish; this fish name has been "hooked" and pulled "up" to the top of the answer

Theme answers:
  • TROUT WORKOU / INE (workout routine) (1D: Gym rat's development)
  • COD MOLLY / DLE (mollycoddle) (4D: Act overprotectively toward)
  • BASS LA / ISTANT (lab assistant) (12D: Role for a biology grad student, perhaps)
  • CARP MAGIC / ET RIDE (magic carpet ride) (26D: The "Aladdin" song "A Whole New World" takes place on one)
  • TUNA CAUGH / WARES (caught unawares) (48D: Surprised)
  • PERCH SU / ARGED (supercharged) (56D: Gave extra juice)
  • PIKE S / D PUNCH (spiked punch) (63D: What might get you a "ladle" drunk?)
Word of the Day: MOIRA (43A: Fate, in Greek myth) —
The name Moira is a given name of Greek origin, deriving from μοῖρα, meaning "destiny, share, fate". In Greek mythology, the Moirai (Greek: Μοῖραι, plural for μοῖρα), often known in English as the Fates, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny. (wikipedia)
• • •

Normally I hate Sundays and normally I am opposed to answers that come out as nonsense in the grid, but today is Sunday and the resulting theme answers are nonsense and yet I really, TRULY liked this puzzle. I had to hack at the grid quite a bit to get TROUTWORKOUINE (!?!?) to fall into place, and my first reaction was "Ugh, what?" but as the solve went on, I found myself kinda looking forward to the next themer, seeing if I could infer the fish up front and then mentally plug it into a phrase that might make sense as the overall answer. It was fun. That was enough. Actually, the relatively smooth quality of the fill helped as well. Really lit up at STEAMPUNK and STORM SURGE, and though the grid was pretty choppy, and there's def some chunks of crosswordese in here, once I got my theme footing, I really sank into this one and enjoyed it.

Sailing was not smooth for me at first, though. Severe flailing all over the NW corner, as the first themer made no sense to me (yet) and I got increasingly furious that I couldn't drop the damn Steve Perry song in instantly. How could there be a 1984 (my sweet spot!) Steve Perry "hit" that I did not know well enough to just plunk in. Steve Perry is the former lead singer of Journey, just FYI, and I've never been more pop-music alert than I was in 1984, probably. But my brain was like "OH, SHERRIE?" and when I said "no" my brain was like "FAITHFULLY?" and I was like "That's Journey! You're useless, brain!" Honestly, I could hum precisely no bars of "SHE'S MINE" right now if I had to. I'm going to look it up, and I am 97% certain it will be very familiar to me when I hear it, but on its own, the title "SHE'S MINE" is meaningless to me. "The Girl Is Mine" (McCartney/Jackson) is familiar to me. "The Boy Is Mine" (Brandy/Monica) is familiar to me. "She's Gone" (Hall/Oates), familiar to me. But "SHE'S MINE," no, nope, and nah. OK, here goes, Look-up, commencing ...

The charts are so weird, man. Like, this only went to #21, and though I've definitely heard it, I probably haven't heard it (or thought about it, clearly) since 1984. But then something like "Foolish Heart" (another Steve Perry "hit" off this same album, "Street Talk"), which only went to #18, is very very familiar to me. Why? Three positions on the chart shouldn't make That much of a difference, but it's night/day with these two songs. "Oh, Sherrie" (the uber hit off this album) went to #3 and was a radio / MTV juggernaut. Thank you for coming to my Steve Talk (suck it, Ted Talks!).

Hardest part of puzzle for me was DESI over MOIRA (!?!!??!!), especially since CLUB worked very well for 40D: Clobber (DRUB). I have heard of DESI (40A: Member of a South Asian diaspora). I have never ever heard of MOIRA in this context (43A: Fate, in Greek myth). That is, I've never heard of MOIRA except as a woman's name. So much for my "education." Also ugh to [Bygone Apple laptop] let's never speak of IBOOK again. I wrote in EBOOK in defiance (actually, just instinctively, as EBOOK is a real, if not exciting, thing). Not that thrilled with MOOK, either, as it feels borderline ethnic slur, even if it only rhymes with ethnic slur. [1930s uncertain origin] says the google dictionary. So it's fine. Just skeezes me out a little. I knew ARGOSY because it was a popular pulp magazine in the early 20th century. I always want SIOUAN to have an "X" in it. No idea who this ELISE is (61A: The miser's daughter in Molière's "The Miser")—and I'm damn sure I've read "The Miser" (in French, in fact, where it's "L'Avare"). But that was bloody yesterday (i.e. 33 years ago), so no hope. Felt like I plodded through much of this puzzle, but my time was quite normal, and, as I say, the time I had was delightful.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    jae 12:05 AM  

    YEESH! Tough, mostly because of the theme. Kind of a slog.

    Mark 12:20 AM  

    As tricky, challenging themes go, this one was quite a pleasure. Once I saw remnants of a magic carpet descending down the middle, I knew enough of how the theme would work to use the patterns to propel solving the other themers. (What kind of a fish has a U in it? Oh, trout. Oh, tuna.) Made for very holistic, back-and-forth maneuvering. Fun.

    Z 12:20 AM  

    Nope. Too much nonsense without much of a reason. When one hooks a fish it doesn’t just float at the top. The fisherman actually pulls it all the way out of the water. So what are the hooked fish doing here? Just leaving random nonsense behind as they dangle on the imaginary hook. Maybe someone will point out something I’m missing, but to me it’s just one tiny bit of word play (in the title, not even in the puzzle) which isn’t enough to make the theme interesting to me.

    Joe Dipinto 12:20 AM  

    Yeah, baby! Now this is more like it. You had to actually do something to get to the "Got it!" moment. Brings back memories of Sundays of yore.

    I wanted MOLLYCODDLE for 4d, so that immediately helped me unearth the gimmick. I never heard of SHE'S MINE by Steve Perry. Excuse me, but his only big hit of 1984 was OH SHERRIE. Throw that one back, please.

    My favorite clue by far was "A delightful event." Other divertissements: A VOTRE SANTE, CANNERY ROW (made into a Nick Nolte-Debra Winger movie that I liked but no one else seemed to), LARGE TYPE, the comedy team of WATT & WATTLE. And DESI (Arnaz) and MOIRA (Shearer) and the YEASTY (Boys).

    Great job, Natan Last. It's fortunate for us that you happened to be
    sittin' on the dock of the bay, watchin' the tide roll away...

    Barclay Goodson 12:27 AM  

    Mooks are the nameless henchmen James Bond and similar cinema protagonists mow down by the carload. According to TVTropes, “The actual term "mook" presumably comes from Hong Kong Cinema, and takes its name from the mook jong, the wooden training dummies used in Wing Chun, whose only function is to get hit. In Hong Kong movie circles, they're often called "three-hit men," in reference to how many hits it takes to put them down, though the actual number of hits varies.”

    Johnny Boy 1:09 AM  

    Watch Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973) and learn all about MOOKs.

    Harryp 1:09 AM  

    I had a lot of fun with this when I figured out what was going on, but I can bet most of the speed solvers didn't like this gem. Getting MANTA RAY was critical for me, since I was thinking Pterosaur or some such winged reptile. Thank you Natan Last.

    Runs with Scissors 1:13 AM  


    Caught on about halfway through that there were letter rearrangements going on with the circled letters, and then noticed fish species in them. If there’s more to it than that, well, I didn’t see it and don’t care enough to go back and find it.

    I had fun with this. It was resistant enough that I had to think – which I always like. Some stuff in my wheelhouse; some in the outhouse, but all of it was gettable. Eventually.

    Filled in all the squares and got the “close but no cigar” message. Took trillions of picoseconds to realize that A VOTRE SANTo should end in an “e.” French ain’t my forte. Finally got the LEG UP.

    I would not BETAGAINST this puzzle. Was it FOUR ALARM? No, but it gave me a WHIRL.

    I admit that I have never heard of a merchant flotilla being called an ARGOSY. We usually just called them targets.

    Doesn’t SIOUAN need an X?

    Liked it.

    Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

    puzzlehoarder 1:34 AM  

    This was average for a Sunday. Progress was slow at first. Once I'd filled in the NW along with the first two theme entries things sped up. Figuring those first two out was a bit of a chore. After that once the type of fish was recognizable the remainder of the theme entries we're easy to figure out. I had one more little slow down in the SW between the "delightful" clue and the French phrase but then I was done.

    Anonymous 1:40 AM  

    Driers is incorrect! "They're full of hot air"- should be DRYERS.

    Anonymous 1:55 AM  

    The theme was very easy to figure out and it intuitively made sense to me that a fisherman was reeling in the fish, but hadn't pulled it out of the water yet. The only part of the theme that took a moment to figure out was wether the whole word was rotated, or whether it was just the fish that was pulled out. In other words, would it be CARPETRIDEMAGIC/TROUTINEWORKOU/etc. or CARPMAGICETRIDE/TROUTWORKOUINE/etc.

    I also wanted an X in SIOUAN and so it took a minute to see OUTAGE. Also, had a type at EoRE that took embarrassingly long to find.

    But overall, I didn't hate it. Better than most Sundays of late.

    Wood 2:04 AM  

    Didn't see the title and was trying to figure out what the themers had to do with CANNERY ROW.

    Loren Muse Smith 2:53 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 3:03 AM  

    Man, this was hard. It was easy to see the fish at the top of the entry, but teasing out exactly what was happening was tough. When I finally got it, I had to print out the phrases in the margin, extract the fish, and see the remaining letters. The whole time I was thinking that anyone solving electronically would have a devil of a time. My method allowed me to see my mistake at 63A (“teddy”), so TUNA there. But off the T in SATIN, I was able to move TUNA and infer CAUGHT UNAWARES.

    I’m with @Harryp, @Joe Dipinto, and @Mark. I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to (dn)finish: I forgot to go back and guess at the DIY/IONIC cross because I had “jeesh” instead of YEESH. Sheesh..

    Early on, the fact that there’s the word pun in SPIKED PUNCH sent me down a rabbit hole since the clue is itself a pun.

    The one that got away – the RAY of wingspan renown. Hah. How ‘bout RAYGLADY or RAYSTCAT.

    “Workers with numbers” - dental hygienists.

    “Dangling part of a rooster” – I have the soul of a thirteen-year-old boy. Nuff said.

    “Facebook users’ multitude” – posts by teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week that go like this: “IF I TAUGHT YOU..... For Teacher Appreciation Week, I'd love for my former students to reply to this post and tell me how they are doing and what they are doing (school, job, career, family, etc).” Translated: “For all the world to see, please reply to this post with gushing testimonials about how what a great teacher I was.”

    I myself would rather fish for compliments on a blog, say. Relate a classroom story that’s draped with humor and self-deprecation but is in essence a shameless play to trick everyone into thinking I’m a good teacher. Hah.

    To this end… I rewarded my first period a surprise High Tea this past Friday. This is my biggest class, full of 9th-graders who are regularly given detention, often suspended. But they have been my best class – utterly bossaroundable and agreeable. So I did the “taco room” (room with round tables and chairs) up right: tablecloths, cups and saucers, three-tiered platter thingies, pastries, finger sandwiches, Vivaldi music, blah blah blah. Earl Grey was my choice for these sweet iced tea drinkers because I thought it’d be something a little exotic. I figured most of them would not even drink the hot tea and would just focus on the sweets and sandwiches. Nope. These guys Sucked. Down. This. Tea. I mean, I couldn’t keep up, had to constantly refill the pots, sugar bowls, creamers. Some of the finger sandwiches were untouched, but boy that tea was drunk. I’ve never seen anything like it. Here’s the funny thing – a lot of them were headed to their second period, the class of one of the above-referenced teachers. These stalwart, inventive, tireless class-disrupters PERCHSUARGED with a ton of caffeine and sugar hurrying off to deliver my revenge for the Facebook fishing.

    chefwen 3:06 AM  

    We can get the puzzle at noon on Sundays and I didn’t put this one to bed until 6 PM. O.K. I watched a movie in between, had lunch, made dinner, etc. I’m siding with @jae and @Z so far, slog and nonsense. Got the trick fairly early with 4D. MOLLY (Cod) LE, found all my fish, but struggled figuring what went where.

    Never heard of STEAM PUNK, just the name sounds like something I don’t want know anything more about.

    Sorry Natan, not my cuppa.

    Anonymous 5:02 AM  

    The car that Bmw (see how wrong that looks?) makes is the MINI. Btw and Fwiw.

    Anonymous 5:10 AM  

    Great puz. WorkOUT rOUTine was diabolical.
    A votre sante Nathan.

    mmorgan 6:15 AM  

    I had a very similar solving experience to Rex (MOIRA! DRUB!) except I never heard of Steve Perry. This puzzle made no sense at all -- and then it was fun! As @JoeD said, this reminded me of the way Sundays used to be. Thank you! Loved it!

    Lewis 6:19 AM  

    Oh, I liked the theme -- very creative, as in "How did he think of this?" The theme answers themselves made me toss the world aside and focus focus focus to make sure I was getting the answer right. For a moment, with each theme answer, it felt like I was building a Jenga tower. That kind of focus on the nitty gritty is rarely called on in crosswords, IMO, and it felt like I was visiting a new country. Very cool.

    Lots of little things. A COLD-SORE cross, plus a backward SORE to complement the forward one. Never heard of MOOK, and I don't feel like I'll remember it. SPIT crossing SPIKED PUNCH, hmmm. The lovely WATTLE. Quality cluing on OUTAGE [Delightful event?], OPUSES [Works with numbers], and TREY [War loser, usually]. Nice confluence of constructors yesterday (Andy Kravis) and today, as the two have collaborated on three puzzles (with their J.A.S.A. class).

    I loved seeing PAUL SIMON abutting ART (as in Garfunkel). Which tripped off the word "dangling", as in Dangling Conversation, as well as WATTLE's clue.

    So more than "just" a puzzle for me. Took me for a little journey to lovely places. It was a blast, Sir Last, and thank you.

    Matthew B 6:33 AM  

    Finally, finally, finally... A Sunday worthy of our time. One of the best "ahas" I've had in a long time. I'm still smiling. Thank you , Nathan!

    BarbieBarbie 6:36 AM  

    @Z, the fish are rising, not hooked.
    Pons and Fleischmann published on COLD FuSION. What the heck is COLDFISSION???
    This one really messed with my brain, even when I knew what was going on. For some reason I lost a bunch of time trying to spell out LAB ASSISTANT and messing it up when I scrambled out the BASS. Fun!

    JJ 6:44 AM  

    Just when you think you can predict what OFL will sa about a puzzle, he goes and gushes about a puzzle that I really enjoyed.
    Got a kick out of @LMS's 8 th grade mentality-reminds me of a story.
    A young French girl is taken to the circus by her mom. She asks " What's that thing dangling down from the elephant?" Her mom says "It Is ze trunk" she says "No mama, in ze back" mama says it is ze tail" she says "No mama,between ze trunk and ze tail". Mama says " don't worry, it's nothing". That night at dinner her father asks her "Mon Cheri, how was ze circus?" She said " I loved it papa, but I wanted to know what that thing is hanging down from the elephant". Papa says " Ze trunk" she says "No, in ze back". He says "Ze tail" She says "No, between the trunk and ze tail". Papa pauses, and says "What did your mom say?" "Papa, mom said it was nothing" he says " Oh, your mama, she is so spoiled!"

    pmdm 7:11 AM  

    What a pleasant write-up. And I'm relieved that most who have already commented liked the puzzle, as I did.

    Methinks you are missing nothing, Z. I'm not sure the puzzle would have played better without a "reveal." All I can think of is this. If you are catching and catch a fish, you reel it in and at some point the fish is at the top of the line. Since the constructor was watching people fish when the theme idea inspired him, I imagine that's the image he had. How and why the top of the word phrase then slips position to under the fish seems a stretch. I suppose some might say that looking for a logical reason for that is over-thinking the puzzle. However, I think your reaction is reasonable. The justification would be that a group of solvers liked the puzzle. I guess we all live in the same world and we have to accommodate different tastes. Which is not to say anything against your reaction.

    Time to starting driving 250 miles and begin wine tasting. There's a happy thought.

    webwinger 7:37 AM  

    Really glad most people seem to have liked this puzzle. I did not. Very much did not. Figured out the theme about halfway through, but after reeling in the fish found the nonsensical word residue down below extremely irritating. Also got very stuck in the “Bay Area”: First had cRIERS, dOrIC, so got nowhere with “Handyperson inits.” After correcting those non-obvious errors by trying what must have been all possible combinations of alternatives, I still had to run the whole alphabet through Y to get the happy music. shEESH! (IMO YEESH is not a word).

    SouthsideJohnny 8:16 AM  

    Wow, what’s gotten into Rex ? Not a discouraging word ! He either has some awesome CHILL PILLS leftover or he’s BFF with the constructor.

    Jim 8:34 AM  

    Spot on. COLDFUSION not FISSION. Once it was clear to be FISSION I had ATOM at the front and couldn’t figure out what was going on.

    Teedmn 9:06 AM  

    Even knowing how this theme worked (after a very long time of NOT knowing how it worked), I struggled to figure out how the themers were shifting around. I couldn't get past "taken UNAWARES" at 48D so that section filled in last and painfully (hitting the "mark incorrect letters" button more than once.)

    I got the theme, finally, at 26D and it helped me realize that the losers of a "war" are not ThEY, har. Oh, War, the card game! That was a cute misdirection for me.

    MANTA RAYs have wingspans. I really thought I knew birds pretty well but that M______R__ had me rethinking my confidence in my knowledge. I feel a little better now.

    I wasn't at 100% at 49D - I had aLL, not ILL and it made the SATaN sheets not as silky as one would expect.

    An odd puzzle but it held my interest - thanks, Natan Last.

    Anonymous 9:09 AM  

    I agree that DRIERS is an extremely dubious word. And COLDFISSION seems to be a very difficult phenomenon to make happen, with some scientific interest because it allows scientists to understand fission better. But the idea of fission, and the almost universal result of fission, is to produce heat!

    Also, not to be picky or anything, but the correct plural of OPUS is opera. Overwhelmingly ignored, of course. Next I'll be claiming that stamina is a plural word.

    Oh, and can someone explain TREY for war loser?

    Suzie Q 9:15 AM  

    This took more of my morning than I had to spend. I got the fish thing but didn't completely fill my grid because at that point it didn't matter.
    I don't use or even have heard of all of the slang and I have no idea what BAL and BOS are.
    I did really like the clue for outage.
    Rex's review makes me suspicious.

    Joe Dipinto 9:18 AM  

    I don't see what's difficult to grasp about the visual. The rest of each answer is the "water" that the fish is swimming in; as you pull the fish upward it dislodges the "water" above it, forcing it underneath.

    Anonymous 9:23 AM  

    My biggest gripe about this puzzle is that a BELL could also be a high-pitch, and while BREH is much less common than BRAH it is still a slang term with more or less the same meaning, so I'd argue that the solution is technically ambiguous.

    QuasiMojo 9:30 AM  

    This one gave me a headACHE but it was worth it. Sadly though I had a DNF at MOOK/MINE because I thought “She’s Fine” made sense as a song title and FOOK sounds like a portmanteau of Fool and Geek. But I’m just glad that after PLODding through this for 40 minutes, I only had one teeny error. The ANO dig was worth the price of admission. For a moment I thought Rex was gonna tell us he’s taught Greek Mythology and the Great Thinkers for over 30 years but never heard of MOIRA. As if she didn’t quite cut it. But he was in rare form today and admitted his humanness. I liked seeing that word because it reminded me of Moira Shearer from “The Red Shoes.” Thank you Mr. Last, a toast à votre santé!

    Alison 9:31 AM  

    Lovely story, Loren!

    GILL I. 9:44 AM  

    Best thing so far is @JJ's French joke.
    So we have BRAH MOOK YEESH DESI NYY DRUB GRUB yada yada yada. Meh.
    I knew something fishy was up. I knew Natan was breaking them up to form a phrase. What frustrated me was the no pattern or consistency. Trying to figure how the pattern worked just made me mad. Then you have cluing that was completely out of my wheelhouse. I kept thinking outhouse revenge.
    I get to the Steve Perry at 3D and I got excited for (to borrow @Runs) one picosecond. My husband loves Steve Perry - has all his CD's. We listened to him on the car radio ALL THE TIME and yet I could not remember that song. Thank you @Rex.....I'm not the only one.
    Can someone please tell me what the hell COLD FISSION is? Don't tell me to look it up because that will only make me madder.
    The only thing that made me smile was WATTLE.

    Tita 9:46 AM  

    @5:02 Anon... You must either own one or work there. Yes, the branding is MINI. Mini is the original, not-BMW-made, on which this reboot is based.
    They didn't have their marketing act together early on. I got a kick out the letter I received after buying my first MINI... "Dear me BMW owner"...

    Long as we boasting here, yesterday I knew 52A instantly because my cousin's kid is a Bryophytologist!
    Well, I suppose she's the one who ought to boast. Only reflection on me is that I remember the word.

    @Mark, @Joe, I agree whole-heartedly!
    @Mr. Last... Loved it. Great aha moment, multi-level Sunday.

    Anonymous 9:46 AM  

    TREY: when playing the card game of war, smaller numbers typically lose (so, trey is a three-card).

    Nancy 9:57 AM  

    Those poor fish are being tortured to death. And so was I.

    Yanking them out of their rightful PERCHes would be challenging enough if the fill surrounding them weren't so trivia-laden. There was a lot, a lot, of pop culture nonsense; STEAM PUNK; BRAH (?????); MOOK (?????); NYY (What on earth are BAL and BOS?) and all the songs: USE ME; SHE'S MINE; A Love Like OURS. But you also had to know plenty of old trivia too: Greek myth shields and Greek fates (two Greek clues); SNL hosts from way back in the day (I should remember who hosted the second-ever episode?); and "Dune" planets. YEESH.

    There was some wordplay that I liked: the delightful event (87D); the Czech word (111A); and the nice clue for AUDIT (77A). But mostly a slog -- at least for me.

    davidm 10:19 AM  

    I really liked this puzzle, and what’s more, I predicted (correctly!) that Rex would like it, too. Usually I predict that he will hate a Sunday puzzle, and he never disappoints. ;-) My only complaint is that the intro gave away too much — how the puzzle germinated for the constructor while watching people fish at Sheepshead Bay. Why? Why must you tell us this? Isn’t the theme title HOOK-UPS enough? Now that I know this giveaway from the intro, I figure immediately that all the circled letters must be the names of fish “hooked up” somehow, and got this even before I solved a single clue. Ugh! I had no problem with MOIRA/MORAI; they are charcters in the graphic novel I wrote with my artist friend. I’d give a plug for it at Amazon but figure self-promotion may not be kosher. ;-) We call them the Three Hags of Fate, and they recite lots of poetry. :-)

    Birchbark 10:22 AM  

    PIKES D'PUNCH works either way, if it's the third bowl and the spiker is narrating.

    SIR BEDIVERE: Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science?
    ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
    SIR BEDIVERE (kneeling): My LIEGE.

    It's not too remarkable on its own. But for whatever reason, this denouement at the end of the "witch scene" is one of my favorite moments in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    N'LEAST but not last, we had a scarlet tanager on the tree swing yesterday. I don't recall ever seeing red and black of that intensity.

    Rob Rushing 10:23 AM  

    Cold fission: “Cold fission or cold nuclear fission is defined as involving fission events for which fission fragments have such low excitation energy that no neutrons or gammas are emitted. Cold fission events have so low a probability of occurrence that it is necessary to use a high flux nuclear reactor to study them.” (

    That said, I’m pretty sure this was an additional piscine pun: cold fishin’. Just sayin’.

    F.O.G. 10:29 AM  

    Ironic that I found this puzzle "Delightful" inasmuch as OUTAGE was one of my two mistakes. (Had SOUxAN across and OxiAGE down.) Glad to see so much positive feedback, and hope this is not Last's last submission.

    Ellen S 10:39 AM  

    Is it going to be PERCHSUARGED from now on? Thank you @Loran - you DOOK!

    Ellen S 10:40 AM  

    GAAAAH — I swear I typed @Loren, with an “e”.

    oopsydeb 10:41 AM  

    This was really tough for me but I enjoyed it. First theme answer I got was CODMOLLYDLE. Having paid no attention to the name of the puzzle, damn was I confused. Once I figured it out (i.e., I looked at the name of the puzzle), I started in on the other themers. Fun stuff.

    In 1984, I was brokenhearted that a dude named Darren or Derrick or something like that broke up with me at a dance. While we were dancing to Oh Sherrie. I loved Journey. I loved Steve Perry. Inexplicably, really, as I was spending more time listening to The Ramones and the B52s. I guess I just have eclectic taste. I loved Journey and SP enough to be super angry with the guy for giving me the news in that music moment. Oh youth. Anyway, despite my 1984 love of both Journey and Steve as solo act, I struggled to come up with SHE'S MINE. Needed almost all the crosses to fill it in. Still didn't remember the song. Googled it. Listened to it. And I still don't remember the song. At all. Nada. Oh...old age.

    Ellen S 10:46 AM  

    Oh, and thank you @Natan - I loved the puzzle, despite the DNF (no idea of baseball team abbrevs crossing, um, I had “TRUth” instead of TRULY. Still the whole rest of it was Larruppin’ (which is a compliment, according to my country boy hubby)

    stwidgie 10:54 AM  

    Sorry, I'M SORE. Maybe I'm a MOOK, but there was just no FISSION happening for me here, COLD or otherwise. Why can't a KNIGHT be thrown from a horse? I floated an ARMADA, then a CONVOY but YEESH, I just couldn't get a LEG UP. This was no CARPMAGICETRIDE for me.

    Wendy D 10:54 AM  

    I hated this puzzle. Truly garbage theme. Nonsense, jumbled words are not fun.

    Nancy 10:56 AM  

    I agree with you, @GILL. The best thing so far is @JJ's French joke.

    @Rob Rushing's "cold fishin'" is pretty great too. It probably was a deliberate pun.

    Since I consider @Birchvark our resident philosopher, I'll have to take a look at that "My LIEGE" scene in Monty Python. It certainly seemed quite underwhelming in the typed-up snippet that Birchbark has provided. Maybe it lost something in the translation? :)

    Exubesq 10:59 AM  

    This brought me back to my early days (40 years ago!) starting out with the Sunday puzzle. We had a little group working to solve it, shared lots of WTAF moments and eventually, laboriously, got it done. What a feeling of accomplishment that was! This is what the Sunday NYT crossword is supposed to be.

    Wensdy Gridder 11:00 AM  

    Just what I want on Sunday, a giant Thursday. I realize that a giant Monday is just a cliche fest, but somewhere in between would seem be about right.

    Phil 11:04 AM  

    Had FiveALARM chili. That means some hot chili there. But is it a grading system. Haven’t heard it that way one two three alarm.
    Where does CAR-ALARM fit in. Or HAWAII INCOMING ALARM....maybe that means not hot at all...a fake chili? Maybe one you serve with TEXAN BBQ.

    I think it should be DEFCON rated chili.

    70 in Nampa 11:11 AM  


    Charles Flaster 11:12 AM  

    Rex Review was spot on perfect.
    Great thinking puzzle.
    MO OK= a Stooge is doing well. ( MOE )
    LMS— had a similar first period class and loved them— so much to offer.

    Anonymous 11:13 AM  

    The 'original' BMW-Mini was nearly twice the size of the British Mini. And keeps getting bigger. More of a Midi.

    Joe in Canada 11:19 AM  

    Agree about clue Mini (should have been MINI) and answer DRIER (should have been DRYER). Should not have gotten past editor.
    Cold fission? Feh
    I liked ARGOSY. I put in CONVOY, got YEASTY, and then sat there for the longest time.
    The only thing I disliked was 111a. What is the paradox? is it in the fact that the Czech word 'ano' has the letters 'no' which in English mean "NO" whereas.... No. That's the level of sempuer ubi sub ubi, which I finished with when I was 12.
    16 images to prove I'm not a robot today

    albatross shell 11:31 AM  

    DRIER is a word, an adjective. DRIERS is not a word. DRYER is the noun. A regrettable editing oversight and worse since it crosses two themers and would be difficult to fix. If my understanding is correct. On the other hand, it made no difference in solving and I did not know it was wrong until I looked it up.

    No x IS needed in SIOUAN. That one I did know.

    I got tired and gave up at TUNA crossings because LMS was right - it was a bitch doing this without pen or pencil. I wanted off instead of ILL and just quit. Everything else was done. Even DESI which I have no idea why it's the answer.

    @LMS - I do hope the tea wasn't SPIKED.

    Very much a fun puzzle. Well done theme.

    COLDFISSION is a thing. My memory of the first cold fusion demos was that it was a fraud and it was really cold fission going on. But I know not how it turned out. Galena, Alaska apparently put in an application for a cold fission reactor.

    Hungry Mother 11:41 AM  

    Long slog today even though I figured out the them early on. Just found a lot of trivia that I didn’t know.

    JC66 11:44 AM  

    Sorry @Natan, I solve online, so I'm with all the brilliant people here who found this puzzle a slog.

    Stanley Hudson 11:57 AM  

    Go to a prune processing plant and you will find lots of DRIERS. We have a number of them in the California Central Valley.

    Blue Stater 11:59 AM  

    I think this is the first time in sixty-plus years of doing these that I have given up in outrage on a Sunday. This kind of hot mess has absolutely no place in the crossword offerings of a general-circulation newspaper, particularly on a Sunday.

    Anonymous 12:04 PM  

    "DIY" as the answer to "handyman initials" makes no sense, b/c if you hired a handyman, you did NOT "do it yourself"!

    Anonymous 12:19 PM  

    re: DIY. Depends on which side of the hair you've split. In the Olde Days, e.g. 'Ozzie and Harriet', it was common parlance for Wifey to say, "It's good to have a HANDY MAN around the house". You know, to check off the honeydew list.

    Anonymous 12:49 PM  

    The plural of opus is OPERA.

    George Costanza, marine biologist 12:53 PM  

    The manta ray does not have wings. It has pectoral fins.

    Scott 12:58 PM  

    Tough for me. I entered "Magiccarpetride" @ 26D as my first entry, but realized quickly that wasn't right, even though "ride" worked. Eventually figured out the theme, still have no idea what he phrase in 1D is. BTW, I hate "yeasty" almost as much as "beery".

    Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

    The Circles! Well, all right then.
    Usually a theme like this would just leave the fishparts un-swamp-drained, down there in the middle of the theme phrases. This puz dared to yank em up/out, leavin pure nonsense in their wake. Different. Like different -- even tho it sure made solvin the themers a real challenge.

    staff weeject pick: NYY. Yank-ees. Sorta echoes the theme mcguffin.

    Sooo … it's ok to have MANTARAY swimmin around in the grid, unyanked & uncircled, huh. Ditto, with ROE? Nuthin fishy to see, there? Just sayin.

    Didn't know AVOTRESANTE. Looks about as convincin to m&e as BASSLAISTANT, actually. Also didn't know: MOIRA. BRAH. MOOK. DESI, as clued. ELISE. STEAMPUNK.
    Pretty much knew *all* the Downs, tho … so a fair solvequest, at our fishhouse. But lost some precious nanoseconds -- gainin some back on COOLEDDOWN & PAULSIMON.

    Thanx for the SunFun, Mr. Last.

    Masked & Anonymo13Us


    Aphid Larue 1:01 PM  

    Fun puzzle. My son is in a good mood because he’s just graded his last term paper until fall. Maybe Rex is too.

    RooMonster 1:14 PM  

    Hey All !
    Interesting puz. Surprised Rex liked it. Figured he'd say the non-sensicle words that followed the Fish were idiotic.

    Took me a long time to suss the theme, after I finally did, puz starting to move along nicely.

    To honor the Fishes here, Here is The Fish Slapping Dance. Enjoy.


    Anonymous 1:27 PM  

    Rex surprises! Found this a slog and sure he would too. But no!

    Carola 1:30 PM  

    Whew - what a struggle! It took me a long time to reel this one in. I caught sight of the TROUT, COD, CARP, and BASS fairly early, but had no idea what they were up to...until MOLLY-COD-DLE allowed me to see how they needed to be put back below the surface. Still, with some brutal cluing and plenty of names and references I wasn't familiar with, it remained a WORKOUT until the end. Which I liked - it was nice to have this trickier-than-usual Sunday.

    Help from previous puzzles: DESI.

    albatross shell 1:38 PM  

    @Stanley 11:57
    You definitely have prune dryers. But the dictionaries and ads on Google seem to call all drying machines dryers. Maybe a copyrighted name of DRIER. Look around see if you come up with any drivers. I didn't, but who knows. So far if I was looking for a DRIER, I'd still be wet.

    Joaquin 1:47 PM  

    A bigger/better challenge than most recent Sundays. But I find the nonsense letter strings severely reduce my enjoyment.

    OTOH, @JJ's joke in this thread made the entire experience worthwhile. Thanks, JJ!

    Tom R 1:56 PM  

    It might have been fun for Rex, but it was insanely tough for a Sunday for me. Finally got the theme from magic carpet ride, but even after that it took all but one letter from crosses for workout routine and it took EVERY CROSS for supercharged. That's just too tough to be fun.

    old timer 2:08 PM  

    @LMS had me howling. The French girl story not so much, if only because a French girl would not say "ze" instead of "the", she would speak French, not bad English. But it would work as a story set at the Bronx Zoo or wherever.

    DNF here. I got the trick, but by the time I did, I was no longer interested in moving all those fish around. Plus had "breh" instead of BRAH. Seems to me BRAH is a Jamaican word.

    ColoradoCog 2:09 PM  

    Glad to see the community consensus that this was tougher than @Rex’s “medium” rating. I really had to grind this one out. It was well above my Sunday average time.

    Birchbark 2:12 PM  

    @Nancy (10:56) -- On it's own, the Arthur/Bedivere exchange is along the lines of decent crossword fill. But I like it because the only thing Arthur says during the preceding Socratic exercise in witch-proving is "A duck!" -- correctly answering Bedivere's "What also floats?", which has so far stumped the mob. And so he is "wise in the ways of science."

    The comic Bedivere/medieval science sub-theme in "Holy Grail" has a nice Rennaisance counterpart in the Tom Stoppard film "Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead," a Hamlet send-up with a few slapstick recreations of Newton's and Galileo's discoveries.

    Mo-T 2:28 PM  

    Whew. Sheesh. Got it finally.

    We affectionately call our rescue Mastiff-Lab, whose name is Duke, Mook and Mooky. We learned early on that he could not be called Dukey, even if we did not spell it Dooky.

    Mr. Last, I enjoy your puzzles in The New Yorker, too. This one was a workout outside my usual routine. And, we're having small mouth bass from the nearby reservoir for supper (or dinner, if you prefer), with no assistant to help cook, Lab or otherwise.

    Sallie 3:25 PM  

    I finished this puzzle (finally) and now my headache is gone. Coincidence?

    E A 3:43 PM  

    I didn't like it because of the nonsense fill (always gets points off from me haha) and some of the fill was a bit of a YEESH from me (I love Steve Perry but oh that clue) but some I did like (the triple S on I GUESS SO, STEAMPUNK) so I guess it ended up meh for me.

    Anonymous 4:44 PM  

    Isn't a power plant based on cold fission an inherent contradiction? The way nuclear power plants work is that they create heat, which makes steam that drives a generator. If you don't make heat, where does the power come from?

    So I suppose COLDFISSION is a thing, but a pretty useless and obscure one.

    Anonymous 5:00 PM  

    According to the wiki, COLDFISSION is a real thing. Unlike cold fusion (should it ever exist), it isn't used to generate heat/steam/electricity, but only to effectuate (sub-)atomic research. Yet another PPP entry.

    albatross shell 5:09 PM  

    I think it was Chico who couldn't understand why a duck in an earlier absurdist movie.
    I did find MW dictionary does list DRIER as an alternative spelling and cites examples of its use but it's editors have not passed judgement. What ever all that means for crossword propriety I do not pass judgement. Which is proper-er, I wonder. And SPIT I guess works, but it's about to start spritzing here. Hail possible, but no SPIT I hope.
    @NRA diagonals
    ALL God's chillin got guns,
    Hell Freedonia!

    I "researched" DESI on wiki and know enough to say the answer is right, but have no idea who they are or what years or even centuries or countries were involved or why. Either the history is too complcated for wiki or I am to simple to understand it.

    Anonymous 5:18 PM  

    @Anon 5:00

    cold fission NOT PPP

    Anonymous 5:33 PM  

    DESI is in current use. I think an establishment near where I live is called Desi Deli or something similar.

    Per Wikipedia, it refers to those whose national origin includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka at a minimum.

    RooMonster 5:52 PM  

    And here is the Witch scene from The Holy Grail.


    Wood 6:02 PM  

    Please start your own crossword blog! I'd gladly jump ship from this why-do-I-stick-around Stockholm syndrome situation.

    Wood 6:06 PM  

    Card game. Three almost always loses.

    Anonymous 6:14 PM  

    I hate Thursday puzzles on Sundays.

    It’s bad enough they’re on Thursdays.

    Anonymous 6:28 PM  

    I liked this a lot and agree with others best Sunday in a long time. I finished the puzzle in the NE and realized wow only one sports clue. Yay!
    Good direction for every puzzle -lose most of the sports clues esp the arcane and ancient ones
    Thank you Natan

    Teedmn 6:34 PM  

    @birchbark, we here west of you are jealous of the scarlet tanager sighting - never has one been seen here. (And only once an indigo bunting.) I will have to get by with Mr. and Mrs. Oriole and last week's flash mob of yellow-rumped warblers.

    Birchbark 6:34 PM  

    @RooMonster (5:52) -- Thanks for the link --

    @albatross shell (5:09) re Chico, and earlier elephant-joke fans in general --

    GROUCHO: Pick a number from 1 to 10.
    CHICO: 11.
    GROUCHO: Right.
    CHICO: Now I ask you one. What is it has a trunk but no key, weighs 2000 pounds, and lives in the circus?
    PROSECUTOR: That's irrelevant!
    CHICO: Hey, that's the answer! There's a whole lotta relevance in the circus.
    JUDGE: That sort of testimony we can eliminate.
    CHICO: That's-a fine. I'll take some.
    JUDGE: You'll take what?
    CHICO: Eliminate. A nice cold glass eliminate.

    IM OOK 7:04 PM  

    Nah, bruh.

    albatross shell 7:21 PM  

    I understood that part but I did not understand the reason for the current migration (last 70 years?) Or if they were spread over such a large area because of previous migrations or when they took place and why, or to which the diaspora referred or what were the cultural differences -religion language race or just distrust of the other - involved. Or even why they felt the need to leave. If it was only modern times that takes care of some of my confusion. I'll look again some time to see what I missed and look else where. I do not think they said much about how many people were involved or what countries they ended up in or how many stayed behind if any. But
    thanks for the effort.

    bigsteve46 7:25 PM  

    A 16 year old kid should have something better to do than construct crossword puzzles.This creator should hook up with David Steinberg and as they used to say, take a mutual long walk off a short pier. Or maybe as 16 year old guys they both should have spent more time with a couple of 16 year old girls.

    Unknown 7:59 PM  

    You and me. I loved Cannery Row. That lab. The party. Her tank.

    Birchbark 8:35 PM  

    @Teedmn (6:34) -- That yellow-rumped-warbler deluge last weekend was incredible. I see a few every spring, but never in hordes of five or six at a time. They like suet, believe it or not.

    We did see the scarlet tanager again today a little farther out on the lawn. But I don't recall ever seeing one in real life before yesterday, so it's a really big deal.

    We are lucky to see indigo buntings from time to time in season (speaking of intensely colored birds), so they must nest around here. I used to live about a mile farther from the river and had only seen one until moving here. It's still the sort of bird where when you see it, you call everyone to come and look.

    And, finally, the oriole. We had one today on the hummingbird feeder. Which is weird, because the only thing that every came to our oriole feeder was hornets.

    But to be honest, it's the vultures I could watch all day. They love to ride the thermals on good days, just waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting.

    Jeff 8:54 PM  

    I had SHE'S GONE at first, and 26-A became an absolute stunner. So glad it ended up being SHE'S MINE. I would have absolutely lost it.

    Good puzzle, though not as in love with it as our blogger.

    Nancy 9:47 PM  

    @Roo and @Birchbark -- I've never seen that witch scene and it's very funny. Thank you. But there's no "My LIEGE" in the scene you provided. Maybe it comes later?

    Birchbark 10:23 PM  

    @Nancy -- It's the very next shot. An extended version on YouTube would probably have it. Though it's really just the icing on the cake.

    SLS 10:48 PM  

    Yes! I agree! The intro spoiled the whole thing! Very unlike Will.

    CDilly52 11:10 PM  

    @Joe Dipinto 12:20 am. Exactly my reaction and it was a bear!! Had it not been for MOLLYCODDLE, I never would have gotten through this. Only themed I had with certainty, but the. The pattern for the others was not the same because they all split at different places. Even after I grokked the “fishy” part, I still had a horrible time finishing the theme answers. Avoided a DNF by the skin of my teeth only avoided a DNF because I was 100% sure of DENCH, FOUR ALARM and CANNERY ROW (a favorite movie). YEESH!!!

    Unknown 11:18 PM  

    I knew something was up when I noticed tuna and cod and then bass, but realizing they were actually hooked and pulled up took a little longer, and then figuring out all the phrases longer still. “WORKOUT ROUTINE” was most difficult for me. A fun one that took me a while!

    Anonymous 12:12 AM  

    Yes! So annoying.

    Dan 9:58 AM  

    I hated this theme - particularly the fact that there was no hint anywhere to how it worked (and no, the title doesn't do it for me). That said, tagging this post as "Natan Last Sucks" seems awfully passive-aggressive. Wtf?

    kitshef 12:01 PM  

    Wonderful theme but woeful execution. Well, that's too strong. BRAH is the only truly woeful full, but there was an awful lot of USEME and ELISE and SHESMINE type PPP that was awkward to work around. Solved faster than Friday's puzzle be a goodly margin.

    Unknown 7:40 PM  

    Very fun puzzle! I liked the challenge and wish there were more like this. Thanks, are First in my book.

    Anonymous 8:53 PM  

    I agree! How did "driers" get past Will Shortz AND Rex Parker?

    Anonymous 1:40 AM  

    I actually agree with Rex for a change. True, the theme was very easy to figure out, but the interest was in the rest of the clues. Quite a number of the put a smile on my face when I finally figured them out, and that's my definition of a fulfilling puzzle. I've been impressed with Nathan Last's puzzle and I'd definitely like to see more. Some minor quibbles with the clueing's accuracy but not worth mentioning. More annoyed with obscure "you must share my interests" answers such as "steam punk". "She's mine" was completely hopeless because I never liked American '80s music and was also living in England in '84; but the oldies stations NEVER play this song, and I mean NEVER. Wanted to ask the younger people on this blog whether they still say "crash" meaning to find a place to sleep on short notice; I assumed that died out with the 1960s. Is it really still in use? If not, then it should have been clued with something indicating that it's archaic. My favorite clue was "high pitch" = "ball", I wasn't thinking along that line at all. Nathan is obviously good at providing misleading and yet accurate clues, so I hope to see more of him on Fridays.

    Bo 11:41 AM  

    I think Nathan needs to stop doing so much meth before constructing a puzzle. I figured out the “catch” pretty quickly. But the solutions didn’t measure up insofar as being satisfying. Throw it back

    rondo 1:21 PM  

    Well, my Sunday puzzling got off to a bad start with the Minneapolis paper in my driveway instead of the St. Paul paper. Started the puz and thought "Wait a minute, seems familiar" Turns out it's from August 2015. Went downtown, bought the St. Paul paper. Same thing.

    So nothing to say today!

    Diana,LIW 2:14 PM  

    @Rondo - as you'll see from the post I already posted to tomorrow (Monday's Syndie) I also found the Aug 2015 puzzle. So I shan't complain to my local paper - the Times is to blame!!

    Lady Di

    Burma Shave 2:31 PM  

    I won't count today against my consecutive day streak.
    From August 2015:


    Years AGO with less GENIALROCK
    we had AEROSMITH then GUNSNROSES to inspire us,


    Anonymous 4:09 PM  

    omg- this puzzle- just absolutely awful construction and obscure clues and answers. I never even got the fish thing until I read it here. It took me hours and I still couldn't get the answers. It was a slog and not fun at all.

    Burma Shave 11:49 AM  

    I hope everyone else finds the right day. The "fish" puzzle ran on 6/2/2019 in my newspaper.



    --- LECH DENCH

    rondo 12:09 PM  

    YES, I got it over at the mixed up LABASSISTANT. No, didn't like it that much. Hook-ups? IGUESSSO.

    LORI Petty gets a yeah baby by default, rather give it to Taylor SWIFT.

    This puz kinda left me out in the COLD,FISSION'.

    Diana,LIW 4:09 PM  


    or meh

    Diana, LIW for a puzzle

    And yes - I "caught" on, yet cared not

    Anonymous 5:21 PM  

    Totally agree with Rex. The theme helped with working out the answers....and that is fairly rare for me. Good challenging puzzle. Couldn't come up with wattle but the wife helped me on that one as her dad raised pigeons and they have something like that too. As soon as I put that in then the SW filled in, and I was finished in record Sunday time, but nowhere close to Rex and the Rexperts.

    spacecraft 7:27 PM  

    Late to the party today--as was the puzzle: it's from two (!) weeks ago. In any case, the link is still locked on last Friday, and with a month turning over, that's VERY BAD. Once again, I have to yell: WAKE UP, YOU STUPID SYNDILINKER!!!

    Had an early appt. today so didn't finish until now. I almost came completely undone right there in the NW (again!) because I CaLmEDDOWN instead of COOL-ing. I get it now: "chill" = "COOL." IGUESSO. But I bet "calmed down" gets more hits, speechwise. Was no one else thrown off by this?

    I was certainly TUNACAUGHWARES by the theme, until I landed the TUNA. After that it became a tad easier. Fun new fact learned: that BMW makes the Mini. I should've guessed; I like 'em. EASTOFEDEN fits into the Steinbeck line, but I didn't think the ex-Mrs. Trask went by Flood. Never heard of COLDFISSION; that would really be weird. The other one, fusion, sure.

    Since @rondo snubbed Taylor SWIFT, I'll be happy to "hook up" with her as DOD. Indeed. The puzzle didn't BOAR me. Did I like it? YES. Birdie.

    lodsf 12:21 AM  

    @Burma Shave, Diana, Rondo: Did you read Rex’s blog on that 2015 puzzle? (The one that Burma Shave is talking about here; it was also ‘mis-run’ in my paper as last week’s synd.). At any rate, if you read to the end of the blog for *that* day you’ll see that it was the day after Merle Reagle died. Re-reading Rex’s tribute & re-looking through the links about Merle made for a very nostalgic read, for me.

    Anonymous 10:36 PM  

    Simon & Garfunkel, together again at last (25a, 27a)

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