Shift from one dialect to another, depending on the social context / TV host with the autobiography "Born a Crime" / Animal wearing red pajamas in a children's book / Pioneer who lent his name to six U.S. counties / World capital once behind the Iron Curtain

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Easy (6:25)

THEME: "Stoners' Film Festival" — phrases containing both words that can be interpreted as pot-related and words that can be interpreted as movie-related are hilariously interpreted as such

Theme answers:
  • PUFF PIECES (23A: Stoner movies?)
  • POT SHOTS (30A: Components of stoner movies?)
  • HIGH DRAMA (43A: Tension in a stoner movie?)
  • SMOKE BOMB (46A: Stoner movie that flops at the box office?)
  • JOINT RESOLUTION (62A: Ending of a stoner movie?)
  • ROLLING IN / THE AISLES (82A / 84A: Like an audience during a stoner movie?)
  • BAKED HAM (98A: Bad actor in a stoner movie?)
  • DIRECT HITS (107A: Be behind the camera for a blockbuster stoner movie?)

Word of the Day: NOSRAT (Samin ___, best-selling cookbook author) —
Samin Nosrat (Persian: ثمین نصرت‎, /səˈmin ˈnʌsrɑːt/, born November 7, 1979) is an American chef and food writer. She is a regular food columnist for The New York Times Magazine and has a Netflix docu-series based on her cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.


Nosrat's 2017 cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, illustrated by Wendy McNaughton and including a foreword by Michael Pollan, was named "Food Book of the Year" by The Times of London and was a New York Times best seller. The cookbook also won the 2018 James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook, was named Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and won the 2018 IACP Julia Child First Book Award.

A Netflix docu-series based on the cookbook, also called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, was released on October 11, 2018, with each of the four episodes based around one of the four elements of cooking set out in the title. In episode 1, Nosrat goes to Italy to talk about the use of fat in cooking; in episode 2, Japan for salt; in episode 3, Mexico for acid; and in episode 4, returns to the United States, cooking at Chez Panisse as well as with her own mother, to discuss heat. The show was described by The Washington Post as "unlike any other food show on TV." (Wikipedia)
• • •
It's me again, indie constructor Christopher Adams filling in for Rex while he's in DC for the Indie 500 this weekend. I've spent the day following along on Twitter (and feeling the #fomo) and wishing I could've seen everybody there today. Among the many excellent people there include tournament organizer Erik Agard, whose byline I really wish I saw more of. I was very excited to see his name on this puzzle, though honestly it didn't need it—his voice, personality, and style shine through this puzzle so much that I would have very little doubt, as a solver, identifying him as the constructor if I didn't know that ahead of time.

And, as expected, I loved this puzzle; it was, as the kids might say these days, MONDO DOPE (109A: Very, in slang / 110A: Hella cool). The theme is straightforward, but very well done; the title and the first theme answer perfectly give away the idea, and I had fun finding each theme answer as I made my way through the puzzle. It usually didn't take more than a letter or two to figure them out, but I genuinely enjoyed each of them.

The rest of the puzzle, I thought, was pretty easy too; the only difficulties, if I can even use that word, were things like writing AXES for AXED (25A: Fired), messing up my French (COTE for CITE at 27A: Île de la ___), or guessing the wrong AP class (CALC instead of CHEM for 88D: Tough H.S. science class). For that last one, in my defense, I'm a huge math person, and I'd just filled in STEM for 114A: Big acronym in education.

TARO is the only acceptable Bubble tea flavor, don't @ me

Anyway, even with some errors, and a few typos on top of that, this puzzle wasn't much of a challenge. I'd like to specifically note that the fill on this is squeaky clean, and between that and the clues, not a single letter is in doubt. This is a well-constructed puzzle, and it is what more puzzles should be (or, at least, aspire to be). I don't even care that the theme type isn't some boundary-pushing stunt or idea. It's a standard idea, but it's tried and true, and in the hands of a master craftsman, it works beautifully.

And on top of that, the fill absolutely sings. CODESWITCH, FLOOR MODEL, KEG STANDS, OFF THE GRID, LOUISVILLE, MOTOR CITY, and even AMATEURISH would all be assets in a themeless; here, where there's not as many long answer slots to go around (and more constraints, due to the theme), it's amazing that these are all great. Fun, new short fill too: the aforementioned NOSRAT, MONDO, and AP CHEM, but also CHICANA, I DID NOT, and RAINN (especially as clued).

  • ELIS (Ancient Greek land that hosted the Olympics)  was a complete unknown as clued, even though this is, more or less, the clue used three of the last six times ELIS has been in the NYT. At least crossings were fair. But definitely felt out of place, difficulty-wise. (See also CITE, a valid English word clued otherwise.)
  • Film heroine who says "Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy" is a great quote for LEIA, who will be dearly missed in the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker; also, interesting to have this intersecting LANDO without a cross-reference, or at least an acknowledgement in the clues.
  • Part of V.S.O.P. is OLD; it stands for Very Superior Old Pale.
Yours in puzzling, Christopher Adams, Court Jester of CrossWord

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:11 AM  

I had fun with this one, probably because I was able to finish it without having to proofread it for mistakes. PUFF PIECES, POT SHOTS, JOINT RESOLUTION, BAKED HAM, what is not to like? Plus ROLLING IN THE AISLES to cap it off. Good job Erik.

jae 12:14 AM  

Easy-medium. Just about right for a Sunday. Sort of amusing with out much dreck. Liked it a bunch. Jeff gave it POW.

Runs with Scissors 12:16 AM  

I liked it!!! (Surprise!)

This was a puzzle solidly next to my wheelhouse. Not quite in the outhouse. After all, I grew up in the “stoner” decades, so those were fairly easy but the rest was something like that elusive scent you know, and can almost describe, and can’t quite name. At least not right away.

Nothing would really VEX me. This was a fun theme; the only thing missing was a Cheech & Chong reference. Woulda been fun to work that in somehow. Maybe an “Up in smoke” clue for 23A. “Am I driving ok?”. “I think we’re parked, man.”

Fun stuff outside the themers”

I MIND: I have said this. It got a GAWK in return.

SOFIA: Probably the least known capital city by anyone outside Bulgaria. I’m not even sure why I had it filed away. Maybe from doing crosswords.

ELROY from the Jetsons. Blast from the past!!

Minor nit: CASABA – if you clue a honeydew relative that is “cassava” in English, then “var” should be in the clue. I got it, but then I’m married to a native Spanish speaker for whom the b and v are interchangeable.

LOUSIVILLE for the May race. I don’t follow horse racing, but once the LOUI______ was in, it had to be the Run for the Roses.

This puzz was MONDO fun. That clue/answer was right up my alley and parked in my wheelhouse thanks to Mel Brooks. Helped in that corner since BAMA vs Ole Miss is not something I really pay attention to.

Will be reading all the complaints about Lit CRIT, CHICANA, TASHA, NOSRAT tomorrow (it’s only 1834 Sat evening as I type). Drop the rock, people.

Enough verbiage from my keyboard. It was all good stuff, had a great time solving with just enough resistance.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Joe Dipinto 12:38 AM  

Sittin' downtown makin' a Sunday crossword
One toke over the line

Right. This puzzle must have seemed cutesy-clever back in 1971 when it was first submitted to the Times. It didn't age well. Should have been used for rolling paper.

And to think I thought that things were starting to look up for Sundays. Wrong.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

A weekend free of cheats, I’m feelin’ hella cool, and I don’t even have kids or grandkids to help me out with the new speak. Must have picked it up watching South Park.

Pretty easy Sunday, only hang up was 83D where I plunked down It Is NOT, fairly easy fix.

Welcome back @‘mericans, we missed you.

Loren Muse Smith 4:29 AM  

Thanks for pinch-hitting, Chris. I’m with you; I had a lot of fun with this one. The very first puzzle I ever wrote was a pot theme, dedicated to my reformed pot-head husband. I was told by various constructors that such a theme would never be accepted by Will. Glad to see the Times, they are a changin.

Mondo cool that Erik found phrases containing pot words that could be repurposed for movie phrases. Hah. He put the bud in HIGH budget movies. I couldn’t really think of any as elegant as Erik’s. I guess a “weed whacker” could be the busy axe/chainsaw/alien in a horror stoner movie. “Grass fed” could be the good guy in a mafia stoner movie. “Headlines” could be a stoner movie dude’s script. Stoner movie guy could decide that Shaggy’s dog needs an AFRO, ergo a Scooby doobie do. Yeah, yeah. The last one doesn’t work because spelling. But the thought of someone getting really stoned and putting a wig on a cooperative dog makes me happy.

Bonus words: DOPE, STEMs, and those Chia seeds

I was surprised by the clue for KNIT. I don’t know many Americans who use “jumper” to mean pullover. Maybe I’m misunderstanding.

CODE SWITCHING fascinates me. A couple of real housewives of Atlanta switch effortlessly between black vernacular and “standard” English. I much prefer black English, which is creative, expressive, playful, inventive. Nothing like the stuffy restrained legal-contractness of newscasterspeak. When Cynthia Bailey slips into the vernacular, a linguistic conga line dances out of her mouth. When Barbara Walters speaks, it’s more of a line standing at the dmv. I guess we all code switch; my biggest is switching between what we in the business call caretaker speech when talking to my dogs and regular speech when talking to my wolf spiders.

I thought a long time about SHALL WE. . . It used to be that some tiresome peevers (redundant?) insisted that SHALL denote first person future but will denote second and third person future. I shall take the 6pm flight, but you and John will take the 8pm flight. No one really buys in to that anymore, but there’s still a marked difference between SHALL and will. . .

. . .We’re lingering over our coffee, dessert plates long ago vamoosed. Waiter is desperate for us to leave. We look around and notice the time. SHALL WE?

. . .We’ll soon be at a turning point where we can excise a stinking, embarrassing, perfidious, sociopathic tumor from our lives. Will we?

@mericans in Paris 4:53 AM  

ALOHA, @chefwen! (And thanks, @kitshef, from yesterday.) Missed you, too.

Mrs. 'mericans and I liked the puzzle fine -- cute theme -- but didn't find it easy. Not knowing many modern brands of things in the USA, the TARO-NOSRAT crossing (for example) was almost a Natick.

What stands out to me in this puzzle is how many answers begin with A: ABETS, AFRO, AGAIN, ALIA, ALIST, ALIT, ALLOT, ALOFT, ALOHA, AMATEURISH, ANGST, AP CHEM, ASH, ASPCA, ATEAM, ATM, AT SEA, ATTN, AVIAN, AVON, AXED. Have to give Mr. Agard (note the beginning letter there, wink, wink) an A for affort.

Finally enjoying some hot, sunny weather here in Paris. Combined with long evenings (sun setting at 10:00 P.M., that makes for some long, productive days.

007 5:56 AM  

Can someone explain why DIRECT HITS is plural? Or why the clue shouldn't be movieS? I feel like I am missing something.

Conrad 6:03 AM  

Often I read this blog and think “Thank Goodness I’m not as smart as the person who posted that.” Case in point today: I read the H.S. clue, counted the letters and entered “A.P. Chem.” If I’d thought of “A.P. Calc” (which, unlike Chem, I did take), I would’ve lost some time.

@LMS: I learned in high school that “shall” reflects determination and can substitute for “I’m determined to”: “I SHALL pass this test”. Whereas “will” is a prediction and can substitute for “I’m going to”: “I WILL flunk this test.” Your first person distinction makes more sense but as you noted, nobody will pay attention to either.

BarbieBarbie 6:08 AM  

@LMS, I thought you were going to end your example differently. Shall we? For “let’s go.” Will we? For wondering how the evening will end.

Dense puzzle. It felt workmanlike to me. I think this is the downside of good fill. The puzzles that really make you go Wow always seem to have some sacrificial dreck. This one had no dreck, but also no Wow. It was OK.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Dull theme, and clues for it too repetitive, would work better as a 15x15. No solving high for me.

Hungry Mother 6:19 AM  

DNF with KNoSH and no idea about the attack song. Two failed Sundays in a row. I hope the half marathon today goes a bit better.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

Erik is either very naturally talented at constructing, or has worked, worked, worked his tail at it, or both, but whatever he turns out is so skilled. There are terrific non-theme answers here, and the theme answers flow sweetly off the tongue. And yet, on those theme answers, I'm finding more good ones on this movie/pot-related theme, hard to come up with, and he had to make their number-of-letter count match for symmetry. All in all very impressive puzzle-making. Anything but AMATEURISH.

And how was the solve (the important question)? Smooth, sweet, just what you want in a stonermatography-themed puzzle. Mellow, appropriately. Just right.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

@007 Direct hits, as in the director tells everyone to take a hit. And there's the added pun that a talented director has successful films.

The only thing that bugs me about this puzzle is FEH. Really? Syllable of scorn? I have never heard nor seen that in my life. Will someone please share where they have? Thanks.

Trent Evans 7:30 AM  

@007 Presumably there is more than one instance of marijuana consumption taking place in this stoner movie. “Be behind the camera for a blockbuster mafia movie” could produce the same answer since there would likely be more than one targeted murder. HITS thus makes more sense than HIT.

Also, this was an excellent puzzle. Sundays are so tough to construct this smoothly. I’m pulling my hair out over an attempt to construct one right now. This one is just superb.

Nancy 7:45 AM  

Cute, easy, pleasant to solve. Very few proper names; very little trivia; mostly wordplay. Much less sloggy than most Sundays. Much less pop-culture-y than other Agard puzzles. I was through it in no time at all and enjoyed the time I did spend.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

@LMS In law, “shall” indicates mandatory directives, vs. “should” which is hortatory. Only the elementary school nuns who taught me grammar still make the shall/will distinction, it seems.

Joe R. 8:20 AM  

Close to record time for me, even though I had a number of tough spots. Among other trouble spots, I had TAlia instead of TASHA, tOtes instead of MONDO, and misread “Chief Ouray and others” as “Chef Ouray...”, getting myself a Natick for that last square.

I would’ve loved if they’d run this puzzle on April 20th, but I guess it’s going to be a while until that falls on a Sunday.

Anon@7:27 - I definitely say “Feh” sometimes, along with “phooey,” “piffle,” and others. I couldn’t even tell you where I first picked it up, it’s just a thing people say.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

RE: CASABA – if you clue a honeydew relative that is “cassava” in English, then “var” should be in the clue. I got it, but then I’m married to a native Spanish speaker for whom the b and v are interchangeable.

Cassava is a root and casaba is a melon. According to wiki: Manihot esculenta, commonly called cassava, manioc, yuca, macaxeira, mandioca and aipim is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae.

More wiki: A honeydew melon, also known as a honeymelon, is the fruit of one cultivar group of the muskmelon, Cucumis melo in the gourd family. The Inodorus group includes honeydew, crenshaw, casaba, winter, and other mixed melons.

Loved the puzzle and the self-referenced picked 'do "afro."


RooMonster 8:38 AM  

Hey All !
Not even one Doobie Brother? Missed opportunity.

Fun puz. Look out for the Times! They're starting to get edgy! Rated PG, one might say.


Eight F's today! Wow! With four in the NW itself. Nice. Some similar words jumped out at me today. UTES UKES, and now I can't seem to find the others. :-)

Aetna (naturally, seems to be in puzs quite a bit) before AFLAC, EdITS-EMITS, and that O of TARO/NOSART was a guess. Seemed more probable than an A, or the default U from @M&A's theory I almost plunked in there. Ended up with a 100℅ correct grid! Sweet!

And, for @M&A, RUNT was in here.

DOSE guys in DiSS here place. Har.

Erik even easter-egged his hairstyle in here, with a cool clue to boot.


Joe Dipinto 8:52 AM  

@Anon 7:27 -- "Feh" is a Yiddishism. It's kind of like saying "Yuck" or "Phooey".

@mericans in Paris 8:58 AM  

Oops, I forgot AFLAC and ARTE.

Q: "Install multiple pipes on your hookah?"


GILL I. 9:02 AM  

I'm not sure what I'd like for my Sunday romp anymore. I'm pretty sure it would involve a consistent smile or the enjoyment I used to get many moons ago while working my way through it. Why don't I feel this way anymore?
I'll compare it to food: It's like going to Sunday brunch to your favorite restaurant for years, ordering the same very good Eggs Benedict and one day you're told they no longer make them. You switch to an omelette with avocado and fresh fruit. The omelettes is dry and the fruit is out of a can. What can I order next time? I keep telling them to bring back the Eggs Benedict...but no one listens.
This was fine - scrambled eggs with ham - but to me it felt kinda ha ha stoner man Cheech & Chong where's my bong ANGST Up In Smoke and so what....Do I make sense?
There were things that were somewhat enjoyable and really nothing was that hard. My favorite was CODE SWITCH. My sisters and I do it ALL the time. We are Into Spanglish. We try and come up with some new ones. Jamberger, but that's old.
Was 24D really clued as "In worst health?" I thought ILLER in stoner speak meant EXTACY.
On to fill my pipe.

kitshef 9:03 AM  

Mostly easy, and fairly entertaining as a theme but any happiness the puzzle brought was undone by the proliferation of unknowns: EDIE Brickell, some TV host named NOAH, RAINN, DUPLE, ELIS, JAMAL …

But the thing that made this an automatic reject for any responsible editor, and for me a crumple-it-up-burn-it-and-dissolve-the-ashes-in-acid failure, is that cross of NOSRAG with UGES, or NOSRAT with UTES or NOSRAY with UYES, or NOSRAL/ULES or whatever the hell that turns out to be.

Teedmn 9:21 AM  

Tough one today, not unexpected from Mr. Agard, but still... Lots of names I didn't know right off (or at all), JAMAL and NOAH being the former, ELLIE, RAINN and NOSRAT the latter (even though Ellie has been in more than one puzzle, as clued).

Then there's the silliness of not seeing the TWA in "jetway" and thinking ETA would work (hey, the clue didn't say the initials had to be "in a row").

miNi before RUNT, mODE SWITCH before CODE (blasted college team names get me every time unless they're in the Big Ten and even then... So I knew 'BAMA, so what?) And I thought 54D might be LoIs Lane. We already had the prerequisite Star Wars answer at 54A, yes?

I thought the theme was well-executed if a bit weedy. Nice job, Erik.

webwinger 9:30 AM  

This started out seeming Monday easy, but I ended up with typical Sunday time and a “technical*” DNF in the SE, having mODESWITCH crossing TmU (Texas Methodist University?) until I googled Big 12 after a long search of the completed grid in pursuit of the happy tune. I agree that DIRECT HITS seemed off as a plural—OK for one of the implied meanings, but not for the other. I was impressed that none of the weed-related terms were repeated among the themers. Overall a fine puzzle, if not a fave.

I now live in Colorado and have done a bit of exploration in the recreational pot domain, after having no exposure since college almost 50 years ago. A few pointers for those of you in states that will soon cross over (lookin’ at you, former home Illinois!): Be very cautious of edibles. It takes hours to feel the effect, and even with items labeled as the same dose from seemingly reliable sources there may be considerable inconsistency from one experience to another. Disposable vaping devices have been the best choice in my experience, easy to consume and titrate, with noticeable response in minutes. Finally, and most important IMO, a little goes a long way, especially for us oldsters. Think of the difference between campus KEGSTANDS and adult social drinking. Just few tokes produce a nice mellowing effect, whereas just a few more can lead to decidedly unpleasant feelings of intoxication. One nice thing about cannabis e-cigs is that they can be used repeatedly over months and store neatly between high times.

One final thought: I predicted years ago that the aging of my boomer generation would inevitably lead to widespread legalization or at least decriminalization of marijuana and other psychotropic drugs. Given the number of people entering retirement with inadequate resources for travel and other expensive recreational activities, and no longer any concerns about damaging chromosomes, I figured drug tripping among the elderly would mushroom, and that the expense of incarcerating huge numbers of old people with expensive medical needs would bust the budgets of states and municipalities. Now nearby Denver has voted, just last month, to lift the ban on hallucinogenic fungi. Bon voyage!

*House rules here allow reasonable (i.e. no x-word specific sites) googling, and searching the filled grid for correctable errors if the sorry-no-cigar message appears, but not the online check or reveal options, or peeking at this blog. So I still get credit for the solve, keeping my all-of-2019-so-far streak alive. Yay!

Joe in Canada 9:41 AM  

Agree with 007 about DIRECT HITS cluing.
Also: 78A could be ALII, and the name Jamil exists, so not entirely 100% clear in terms of possibility of solving through crosses.
otherwise fine.
ps yay! only the first 3 images today to prove I am not robot.

Zwhatever 9:54 AM  

10 a.m. on a Sunday morning and for some reason I feel like going to Taco Bell.

Changing CASAvA to CASABA was my last letter in. I don’t really know SOBA noodles but I think it’s been in puzzles before and SOvA looked wronger. Only other writeover was mEH to FEH. Easy and fun and as clean as a new bong.

HERO AXED - Plot summary for the first four seasons of GoT?

From late yesterday:
@Roo - D’Oh. Thanks.
@Preferred Customer - I can’t argue. There’s a reason @AnoaBob came up with the PoC designation and now people call out the SoC. They don’t usually bother me, but I understand your reaction.

Tim Aurthur 10:53 AM  

I learned about code switching from a Key and Peele routine where they claimed to be able to sound "as white as Mitt Romney in a snowstorm."

RavTom 10:59 AM  

@LMS, @Conrad, @Anonymous 7:52: The way I learned SHALL and will back when dinosaurs roamed the earth was a mix of all of those: shall was for standard first person, and Will was for standard third person. You flipped them for emphasis. I will go meant I’m absolutely, without doubt going. He shall go meant the same thing for him.

FearlessKim 11:07 AM  

Got a kick out of @JoeDiPinto’s comment, as @ErikAgard is not only talented and hard-working, but not yet born in 1971. Enjoyed the puzzle, as I always do when Erik has the byline; his puzzles are invariably fresh and fun. I noticed several potential Naticks: TARO/NOSRAT, NOSRAT/UTES, KNISH/DISS, TCU/CODESWITCH, FEH/CHICANA, SOBA/CASABA. I fell into one of those holes: KNoSH instead of KNISH. But DoSS made no sense, so I crawled back out of the hole just in the knick of time. Thanks again, Erik!

Carola 11:09 AM  

Goofy fun, with a cast of A-LIST theme answers. I'll award the Oscar to JOINT RESOLUTION.
@007, I had the same question about DIRECT HITS.
@Anonymous 7:27 and @Trent Evans, thank you for answering it.

Birchbark 11:11 AM  

EDIE Brickell's "Remember Me this Way," was working through my head as I solved this morning, so hit 52A with a private "Aha". It's about a woman asking a painter to embellish her portrait, detail upon detail, into a full and prosperous life she clearly didn't have.

There are lots of songwriting gems on the album, "Love has Come for You," which EDIE did a few years ago with Steve Martin on banjo. I had it playing on the porch speakers yesterday evening, grilling brats in perfect changed-light ambience, right down to the scarlet tanager in the box elder tree. If I could construct a puzzle, that extended moment would be the theme.

@Gill I (9:02) -- Really well said re solving experience. Just FYI, you can get eggs Benedict on weekends at the Brookside Tavern in our little town of 670 people. But they'll be the first to give you the heads up that the sauce comes from a jar.

jberg 11:32 AM  

Haven’t read the comments, but what about 6D ATEAM and 92A ALIST— A duplicate As with the same meaning.

Anyway, DNF— never was a frat boy, never heard of Mr. NOAH’s bio, and slang can be anything— so I went with KEG STAck, a way of bragging about how much beer had been consumed at your party. I know what DOPE means, just didn’t thing of it. Arghh!

JOHN X 11:35 AM  

CODESWITCHING is just a different term for being a phony.

Be yourself. You are awesome.

Don't lie. If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

Malsdemare 11:44 AM  

Wow! Super duper puzzle, even though it tripped me up and then held me down. I did due diligence — nothing jumped out — and then that whole letter by letter search and STILL couldn’t find my error. I was sure I was screwing up the KNISH area; that tISS I had made no sense. But I was blind; didn’t even consider that ItIsNOT could be wrong. And that stupid ItIsNOT gave me a BAKEsHAM for my lousy actor. Sheesh. And then there was the final embarrassment: I simply didn’t see LEADS. I had LEAkS and that gave me MONkO and for all I know, that could have been some new word I didn’t know. So there you have it, a massive DNF for a puzzle I loved.

I think I need a way to mark suspicious answers so that when I don’t get the happy music, I know where to reexamine my responses. Need a highlighter option.

But it was a great puzzle: cute theme, not too much bad or unknown fill (well, the chef and whoever RAINN is), and lots of fun stuff. I grinned like crazy when I finally got KEGSTANDS. I loved JOINT RESOLUTION and silently saluted my home state of Illinois where abortion will stay legal and pot will be legal in January. Not too crazy about our gov’s plan for taxes (He’s raising taxes on the rich, which is fine, but we have a really high tax rate and it would be nice to lower taxes for those making under 100K), but on other fronts, he’s no BAKEDHAM.

Thanks, Mr. Constructor; you da (SMOKE)BOMB!

Escalator 11:55 AM  

First time I have seen LLAMA in a puzzle. Is there a website I can go to to find out how often a word has been used? Thanks.

Crimson Devil 12:16 PM  

Enjoyed this workout. Knew it’d be good when saw constructor. But had difficulty getting started/toehold.
Unknowns were TARO, ELLIE, ELROY, ELIS, TASHA, NOSRAT (gotta get that book), SOBA, RAINN, and FEY. Theme unknown to my naive soul. Tough but finally doable.

TomAz 12:29 PM  

This puzzle was fun, and super-easy, but man I'm hungry now.

@007: I had the same question you did on DIRECT HITS, but I think the folks in here have answered it satisfactorily. (Thanks, those folks).

puzzlehoarder 12:40 PM  

A very timely theme for those of use solving here in Illinois. Our state legislature has just passed the legalization of recreational marijuana. This will go into effect the first day of next year.

The themes we're not hard to figure out. What kept me on my toes we're the crossings of entries like NOSRAT/TARO and JAMAL/ALIA.

I've never heard of a TREEGUARD but like the rest of the rest of the puzzle it was fairly crossed. The entry that got me was CODESWITCH. Even though it's also fairly crossed with the very common TCU entry. However I was fuzzy on that one. Initially I could only remember that the school was in Texas and I put in a very generic TSU. I knew that was probably wrong and when I wound up with SODESWITCH I knew that middle letter had to go. A little more thinking reminded me that it was a religious school. Unfortunately I came up with Methodist before Christian. Once I saw the word MODE I completely fell for it.

What's most embarrassing is my complete lack of familiarity with the term CODESWITCH. My wife (who's never done a puzzle in her life) is not only familiar with it but she pointed out that it's also the title of an NPR show. As usual she tells me I don't know it because I do crossword puzzles and live under a rock. Guilty as charged.

mmorgan 12:46 PM  

I am extremely impressed by the constructor’s prolific productivity, and his skill at getting his work published every day of the week. I typically enjoy his puzzles a great deal, and I thought the non-theme material here was of his typical high quality. For whatever reason, though, the themers themselves didn’t do much for me. But overall it was a pleasant enough solve, with just some head-scratching in the NE corner.

retired guy 12:53 PM  

On shall vs will: they are different words, with different meanings.

For example, Art I of the US Constitution begins: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in
Congress of the United States,...

The Constitutions doesn't say "will" because the Framers weren't predicting who might wind up exercising the legislative powers, they were specifying (in the sense of ordering or directing) where they would be vested.

If I say "he will die tomorrow," I am making a prediction, which may or may not be accurate. If I say, "he shall die tomorrow," that is something very much more serious. Anyone can say the first sentence; anyone saying the second (who isn't a prison warden in charge of death row) is implying that he intends to act illegally.

Similarly, for the second person: "You shall not steal" doesn't mean the same as "You will not steal." The first is a commandment, the second a prediction (which may well be false.)

The problem comes in the first person where it is hard to distinguish in meaning between "I shall" and "I will." It would seem strange for someone to say "I shall stop smoking" and "I will continue to smoke," if what he meant was: I want to and intend to stop smoking, but knowing my history, I suspect that I won't hold to that resolution for very long.

Flying Pediatrician 1:01 PM  

I have been solving the NYT Crossword for twelve years now and I can say, without a doubt, this was my favorite puzzle of all time. Not for theme, but for masterpiece construction. Wow. Keep 'em coming, Erik. (Only 30 seconds off my Sunday P.R., to boot!)

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

No kids these days say "Mondo dope". Unless you consider 40 year old people to be kids. Although I suppose they might be kids in comparison to the average NY Times crossword solver.

Masked and Anonymous 1:31 PM  

HAL ROACH CLIP? = {Our Gang short, e.g.?} ? Reachin too far back, for the new gen of xworders?
Liked the primo pot theme; it was so … recreational.

Slight stoner wipeout at the TARO/NOSRAT intersection -- went with a when-in-doubt "U" (yo, @Roo). Also didn't know CODESWITCH, but built it, in a deliberate, nano-second slurpin manner, from the crosses.

staff weeject pick: FEH. Better theme-frisky clue: {Playboy dude reel??}.

But where's the Ow de Speration, tho? Slip m&e a little somethin to feed my weird recreational habits, already.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Agard.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Masked and Anonymous 1:34 PM  

And thanx to Court Jester Adams, for the well-executed blogsub jobs this weekend. Nice Olio's.


sixtyni yogini 1:36 PM  

Cute. 🐣 (but not that easy here.) Construction raves seem well deserved.

jb129 1:37 PM  

Love Erik's puzzles

QuasiMojo 1:39 PM  

I needed a Cheech sheet to finish this. I don't smoke pot and find the whole marijuana culture stultifyingly dull. But kudos to Erik for at least making it an easy roll in the hay. A reference to Bogie would have been dope.

Mikey from El Prado 1:48 PM  

Elegant. The clueing was classic Agard. Fun theme. ASH and ELM next to each other. MONDO and DOPE next to each other. ALOFT and WAFTS in the upper corners. IMPOSED, OFF THE GRID, MODESTY, TOILETRIES, AMATEURISH are all great fill. Wow. I just wonder what Rex thought of it.

nyc_lo 1:54 PM  

Apart from my own personal, violent DISlike of all things “DISS,” a term now apparently accepted into the English language, it was a fun easy Sunday.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Re: "direct hits", "direct" is a verb, not an adjective...

Anoa Bob 2:49 PM  

Escalator@11:55, there is a place to check out how many times a word or phrase has appeared in the NYT puzzle here, although you may need to be a member to use the services. I already am, so I looked up LLAMA and it has appeared 82 times during the Shortz Era, or about four times per year. You can also see when it appeared each time, who the constructor was, and how it was clued. The typical clue has been along the lines of an "Andean wool source", or some variation of that.

albatross shell 3:42 PM  

My experience with this puzzle was the opposite of most posters. Not that it was bad, but way off my wheelhouse or wavelength. Filled in PipedrEams for PUFFPIECES and did not want to give it up. Mostly went downhill from there. For instance I got ELM and ASH but never heard of either being used for the purposes described. Got ATEAM, but thought the clue was stupid, not funny or clever, and thus iffy. I think the only named person I knew was EDIE. Many clues were so vague, Certain Mexican, e.g., that they were hopeless without many crosses. My first run through had only scattered answers and no themes except an incorrect one. This continued as I chipped away getting more done, but no themes. I went to bed and did better in the morning and used Google for the people I did not know. As the themes filled in and I found clues I had overlooked at night it gradually filled and I finished using RWS's house rules. The themes got easier after I got a couple.
Despite my sloggy performance, I still see a lot of good in the puzzle. But did not enjoy the solve or appreciate the cluing. Good construction fill and theme. Maybe I just had a bad night, since nobody else seems to have had this reaction or experience. Least fun I've had doing a puzzle in a while.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Once again, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Some years ago I saw Gillian Anderson interviewed on some BBC chat show on BBC America. Posh English!? What's that about? Turns out --
"Anderson is bidialectal. With her English accent and background, she was mocked and felt out of place as a teenager in the American Midwest and soon adopted a Midwestern accent. To this day, she easily shifts between her American and English accents." [the Wiki]

Of course, it took forever to rid me of that ear worm.

Unknown 4:20 PM  

Lettuce Hope

Newboy 4:25 PM  

Easy and amusing solve here; little more than a TOKEN effort. Reminded me of a last year favorite read by Michael Pollan ( that expanded my awareness. And next year I SHALL vote to remove that tumor while hoping that others WILL as well.

RooMonster 4:37 PM  

Here's something funny I thought I'd share.
I just had a ride for one Harry Hickey.

Now people, if your last name is Hickey, you do not name your kid Harold.


Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Is Agard British? British & Irish People knit jumpers because a "jumper" is a sweater over there.

But in the U.S, a jumper is a sleeveless dress worn over a blouse. No-one knits them.

As everyone said, and easy fun Sunday.

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Puzzlehoarder, so agree about "treeguard"!Never heard of, as far as I know never seen, as I can't imagine. Why would a fence guarding trees be specifically on a sidewalk at all? Do not get it.

Casarussell 8:22 PM  

Anyone that knows EDIE Brickell knows who KENNY Withrow (New Bohemian's guitarist) is. Would have loved to see 79A (Singer Chesney) clued to pair those two together, especially since they and the New Bohemians have a new album out and are touring currently! No fault to Erik, just my biased opinion. Overall great puzzle!!!!

Dan Steele 9:23 AM  

It’s a waste of time replying local paper is now lagging a week behind on the Sunday this circus packed up and left town long ago. But perhaps I’ll have the last word. ANYWAY...I am SO with Joe D here. This theme is SO tired. I cannot believe all the rave reviews. Yes, it’s a well constructed puzzle. But so lame. And so easy.

Burma Shave 10:59 AM  


such HIGHDRAMA and ANGST for OLD men:
THANKS to a DOSE of MODESTY from above,


rondo 11:24 AM  

Yeah, Cheech & Chong are missing, but the corresponding placement of DOPE HERO is there. IDIDNOT keep track of time as IDID this puz between 3 and 5 a.m. during commercials of reruns of Early Edition. Self-IMPOSED handicap.

Pop singer and yeah baby ELLIE Goulding has had some big HITS, but she's not exactly on my musical ALIST.

Fun in a way, but I'm not ROLLINGIN THEAISLES.

spacecraft 12:00 PM  

EASY??? You have GOT to be kidding! Every clue was tough, and I can't even begin to make an ALIST of the stuff I didn't know. This culminated in the fatal Natick at TAR_/N/SRAT. Never even heard of bibble tea, let alone taste it, but to me a "flavor" with TAR_ would be TARt. Tart, THAT's a flavor. As to the down name, the other letters made little sense anyway, so I just thought maybe this person went with a couple of middle initials, like J.R.R. Tolkien.

I cannot possibly imagine anyone calling this easy. DNF.

Diana,LIW 2:47 PM  

No - not easy. But just hard enough to make completing it a satisfactory victory. Yeah! And that's no dope!

CASABA was a key for me - which I learned about from earlier xwords.

After seeing "NDO" I was wondering if @Rondo was going to show up twice in one week.

Speaking of one week - when are we going to get settled on the Syndiecat version of Sundays?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, like a cat on a mouse

AnonymousPVX 3:13 PM  

Well I loved this puzzle, even if we didn’t get it until 2 weeks after the NYT published it.

For some reason, I got every theme answer.

Anyway, I need to go issue a 62A for personal use. Happy Father's Day!

leftcoast 6:43 PM  

Not really a fan of Sunday puzzles, and especially not of the excessive use of proper names, like today, but this is otherwise an entertaining dnf by Erik Agard.

Nightowl 7:58 AM  

Re: Diss track. I googled it and got something from Wikipedia. The diss track of today, 2019, is roughly similar to
1) " Take my wife, PLEASE"-- Henny Youngman's famous line.
2) " I don't want her, you can have her, She's too fat for me" from the "Too Fat" polka.
The modern diss tracks cited are also interesting in the article.
I thought I'd give a more aged twist to the definition.
Overall the puzzle was fun, cool even. Took me less than forever, which is great for me!!
I got stuck on *guide/codeswitch* and * afro/raided*, which made perfect sense as corrected. Took a few minutes to find the summary, as I am in Mn "syndi-land" and someone in Mpls keeps labeling these Sunday puzzles with the wrong date!! But I prevailed, HA!!

Sandy 11:33 AM  

Think of direct as a verb

Sandy 11:35 AM  

Think of "direct" as a verb

Dude 11:19 PM  

A very American-centric puzzle. Too provincial for international solvers. As well, replace "stoner" with "alcoholic" and the addiction aspect doesn't seem so cute.

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