Jack who co-starred with Charlie Chaplin in "The Great Dictator" / SUN 8-25-19 / Mumbai royal / Donizetti's "Pour mon âme," e.g. / French greeting

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: NOW YOU SEE ME / NOW YOU DON'T — Across answers have an extra "C" added to normal phrases to create wacky phrases. Down answers have a "C" subtracted from normal phrases to create wacky phrases. So wacky!

Theme answers:
  • NOW YOU SEE ME (113A: Illusionist's phrase illustrated by seven Across answers in this puzzle?)
  • NOW YOU DON'T (73D: Illusionist's phrase illustrated by three Down answers in this puzzle?)
Across themers (+C):
  • ANY COLD TIME (23A: When you can ice skate outside?)
  • DEAD CHEAT (25A: Poker player in the Old West after being caught with a card up his sleeve?)
  • WINCE MAKER (50A: Bad pun?)
  • PAGE CRANK (58A: Manual part of a printing press?) 
  • SPARE CRIB (77A: Need for parents who weren't expecting twins?)
  • CROW HOUSES (85A: Rookeries?)
  • CREST AREA (111A: Toothpaste aisle?)
Down themers (-C):
  • MODERN DANE (5D: Queen Margrethe II, e.g.?)
  • FREE RADIAL (15D: Arrangement in which you buy three times but get a whole set?)
  • MAGI MOMENT (70D: Visit to baby Jesus?)
Word of the Day: KLEIN (55A: ____ bottle (topological curiosity))
In topology, a branch of mathematics, the Klein bottle /ˈkln/ is an example of a non-orientable surface; it is a two-dimensional manifold against which a system for determining a normal vector cannot be consistently defined. Informally, it is a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, could be followed back to the point of origin while flipping the traveler upside down. Other related non-orientable objects include the Möbius strip and the real projective plane. Whereas a Möbius strip is a surface with boundary, a Klein bottle has no boundary (for comparison, a sphere is an orientable surface with no boundary).
• • •
Hi all, Rachel Fabi in for Rex today, which under most circumstances would be a good thing for a constructor; I tend to say nice things about puzzles, while Rex is (in)famously cranky about many of them. Today's puzzle, however, is unfortunately going to be a challenge for me to glow about, as I have objections to the fill, the theme, and (some of) the cluing.

As a general rule, if the answer at 1A is a variant of a very common piece of crosswordese, you have already lost me. By the time I realized the puzzle was looking for AMIR instead of EMIR, I had already wasted an annoying amount of time trying to decipher that corner and moved on *twice*, and only managed to crack it by virtue of having written about OONA Chaplin on a previous review for Rex. The fill throughout the rest of the puzzle is not significantly better (see IDYL [also a variant!], RANEE [variant!!!!], ANAS [what?]).

I did not see this movie, now or otherwise
Despite the fill, my primary gripe is actually with the theme. NOW YOU SEE ME, when a magician (sorry, "illusionist") says it, does not mean "Now there is a C!". This theme would have made far more sense if the thing that was added to or subtracted from the "normal" phrases was the word ME, rather than the letter C. "Now you see ME. Now you don't." Almost as strange was the imbalance between the +C phrases (7) and the -C phrases (3). Why not have 5 of each, if you're determined to pack that many themers into this puzzle? The grid was pretty tortured by the theme density, and the fact that more Cs were appearing than disappearing feels inelegant. The iffy fill just wasn't worth the payoff.

a Klein bottle, apparently
I didn't really connect with a lot of the clues, but I generally don't blame constructors for that--sometimes you're just on a different wavelength. I will say that it seemed like the clues skewed harder when they didn't need to-- there are plenty of ways to clue KLEIN, for instance, and I suspect that the "topological curiosity" (pictured here) is beyond not just my wheelhouse, but that of 95% of solvers. In general, I am thrilled to learn new ways to clue common words, but when it's crossing UTILE and the aforementioned variant RANEE, I think it's better to stick with tried-and-true clues, especially on a Sunday. I won't bore you with the laundry list of clues I had similar objections to, but let's just say there were several. Ok, one more: 28A: Lamb offering? for ESSAY. Just, what? I have googled, and apparently there is a 19th century essayist by the name of Charles Lamb, but this is not an answer that needed that kind of clue. Contrast this with OAKIE, which was clued as an actor who is unfamiliar to me, but which is also not cluable in many other ways. In cases like that, a tricky/trivia-name type of clue is reasonable. But for LAMB and KLEIN and several other clues, it seems like they went hard when the Sundayness of this puzzle called for easy-medium.

I do have a few positive things to say! I lol'd at the clue on TIDAL (46A: Like the motion of the ocean) because it reminded me of a lyric from the Bloodhound Gang song "Bad Touch." I also enjoyed the inclusion of CHARO, whose "cuchi-cuchi" tagline I learned through RuPaul's Drag Race. And even though I don't think the theme was executed well, I did enjoy some of the puns that came out of it (specifically MAGI MOMENT, MODERN DANE, and SPARE CRIB).

Overall, I did not click with this puzzle, but there were enough bright spots that I can say that I also didn't hate it!

Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld
[Follow Rachel on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


GHarris 1:14 AM  

Dnf because of natick crossing of yond and orrery. I believe the theme would’ve been improved if the answer was now you see (“C”) it.(rather than “me”.

Joe Dipinto 1:41 AM  

It was gracious of Queen Margrethe to stop by and say "Goddag," after she was rudely rebuffed by a certain denizen of yesterday's grid. I'm not sure this puzzle was the best we could provide for a visiting dignitary though. Not least because the puzzle title is terrible.

Since I solved mostly from the top down I didn't get the theme at first. "Okay, there's an extra C here, and another extra C there, and then a C is missing over here...?" I thought maybe the C's were being teleported from one answer to another. I also briefly thought SEEPAGE was gonna be connected to the PAGE CRANK theme answer ("C page"), though it didn't make sense as to how. Then of course it turned out that it wasn't. I had to get to the revealer to fully comprehend.

To me the revealer should be NOW YOU "C" IT, NOW YOU DON'T. That would make it clearer that you are adding or subtracting the letter C and not the word "me". And don't illusionists make other objects disappear more often than they make themselves disappear?

Otherwise the concept is okay but I agree there should be an equal number of answers with and without the C, and I don't think any of the theme answers have the required zaniness to really put it over. SPARE CRIB... FREE RADIAL...CROW HOUSES...meh. Only CREST AREA has a modicum of absurdity, and that was the very last one I filled in.

"Of use" seems a redundant clue for UTILE. According to M-W, "utile" has been pretty much supplanted by "useful"; a synonym from a different word root would have been in order for the clue. AMIR at 1a doesn't bother me because it's common enough, and the answer at 1d should be obvious right off the bat.

"Tepid greeting" was an amusing clue for OH HI. You could actually say "Oh hi!" and be very animated and excited to see someone. But not in this puzzle. "Let me introduce you to Ed Harris!" "Oh. Hi."

Oh. Bye. Uchi-uchi.

Crimson and lover, over and cover
Crimson and lover, over and cover...

jae 2:09 AM  

On the tough side. Fun, amusing, liked it.

@Rachel - One of the first bits of crosswordese I picked up when I started doing these back around 2002 was that Charles Lamb wrote a book of essays under the pen name of Elia.

...also I knew CHARO because she was married to Xavier Cugat and was on TV in the last century...although I actually do know who RuPaul is...yes I’m old.

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

I came here hoping for a Rex rant because, hoo boy, what a mess this puzzle was. Thankfully Rachel hit on most of my complaints. The ME thing is the biggest problem. The theme simply doesn't work with C. And the imbalance between the number of Cs that appeared vs disappeared was poor form. The only positive thing I have to say about it is FREE RADIAL. I enjoyed deciphering that one. Everything else was meh.

chefwen 3:21 AM  

I actually had fun with this puzzle. Caught on very early with 23A ANY COLD TIME, thanks to 4D RECALL. Loved WINCE MAKER and SPARE CRIB. DEAD CHEAT was pretty funny. Had the most trouble in the SE where I had NOW YOU SEE it and I was not willing to take IT out until I’M IN forced me to.

Just start Pam Amick Klawitter’s Sunday puzzle in the LA Times, so far so good.

chefwen 3:27 AM  

P.S. I’m almost afraid to read the comments on the clue for 118A. Thank God Rex isn’t around. Play nice.

Hungry Mother 5:54 AM  

Kinda got the theme, but flew through this one. Up early for a 5K race. Two cups of coffee due to the puzzle size, but not much resistance. I always wanted a KLEIN bottle, but lacked a dimension.

Lewis 6:05 AM  

The big star, IMO, is the theme, which is clever bordering on brilliant. It is closely followed by the solid construction and jank-lite grid.

I'm determined to use PAGE CRANK in a sentence today.

For me, this was a needed cool-down after the Herculean task of yesterday's solve. Many places filled with a splat / Today that's where it's at / A tip of my hat / Matt .

Anonymous 6:43 AM  

Huh. I liked this puzzle a lot and found it to be easy-medium, for a Sunday. It was clever fun-poking to put LAMB in the puzzle instead of the clues. RANEE isn’t all that “alternative-“ in fact for that one I entered only “RA” at first, figuring the answer could go either way. Loved the clue for AHA.
Clever theme, nice execution, lots of smiles. More please.

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

Isn't the magician's phrase "Now you see IT?" I've never heard one say "Now you see ME." But then I've only been to one magic show in my life -- a nasty kid show at some camp. "Now you C me" is ridiculous and reminds me of some bad mafia skit. "C me" meaning hit me with a C-spot. Straight out of Scorsese. All in all a WAN workaday puzzle. Despite knowing Lamb's oeuvre I put in ELEGY at first because I was expecting Thomas Gray. Trudeau crossing Nemesis made me turn Crimson. Maybe I'm too much of a "Page Crank." But there has been so little to wax poetic over lately in the NYT. Where's the wit? Or Homer-esque majesty of a Patrick Berry beauty? It's been a Wince-dark sea of late, alas.

pmdm 8:09 AM  

In general, I dislike "symmetry" so I applaud the fact there are more across theme entries than down entires. And I though the revealer (now you insert a C into the entry now you take it way) was presented in just enough mysterious fashion to create a pleasant AHA moment for me. (I initially entered NOW YOU SEE IT and thought the letters "it" were added and removed from common phrases but quickly abandoned that belief).

Would that I liked the rest of the puzzle as much. About halfway through the across clues, I felt there was too much PPP in the grid. After going through all the across clues, I almost stopped solving for this reason. While I'm glad I didn't, I would rate the fill in this puzzle at a very low level. Not just because it was not in my wheelhouse. I just don't like puzzles with this much PPP fill. Perhaps I am over-reacting. If no one else feels as I do, I'll accept the designation of outlier.

Suzie Q 8:12 AM  

Medium on the fun scale. Dead cheat was my favorite. I was so disappointed in the revealer because I also thought the phrase was "now you see it".
Reno doesn't seem like a major city to me. Famous yes but major?
I'm glad this didn't take too long because it is another beautiful morning and the dogs are staring at me. This time of year you must enjoy mornings like this because you never know if it will be the last really nice day of the season.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

118, yes, my first response to "orange" was not Ernie. I haven't watched a lot of Sesame Street, but I did not know he was a trouble maker.My initial response was the other guy, who certainly made a heap of trouble last week.

Lobster11 8:36 AM  

I'm with Rachel on all counts, especially the tortured cluing in many places. It's a puzzle that's just trying too hard to make up for a dubious theme. And YOND can just go to hell.

jayhawkprof 8:52 AM  

Loved it, especially the theme. Challenging, but fun, which is what a Sunday puzzle should be. One of the best Sunday puzzles in a long while, in my view.

Solverinserbia 9:01 AM  

I liked the theme a lot. It makes sense. The crossword answer is talking to you. "now you C me, now you don't." the nit that there are 7 of one and 3 of the other is extra dumb given what I consider a consensus that we shouldn't laud difficult feats of construction as much as making fun puzzles. Why exactly would 5 of each been more fun to solve? It's just an arbitrary condition to place on the constructor that probably would have led to worse fill.

The fill was bad. In the NNW you have two proper nouns, a theme (an intentionally nonstandard phrase) and SKI which I still don't get from its clue.

In the SE, ORRERY, YOND, RENO, EDHARRIS, and SASE. The last is the worst. I'm sure people who've done many crosswords instantly got the answer, and newer people had no chance. Seriously who could you know that MS is manuscript and not Microsoft or something more common or that manuscripts are sent with a self addressed stamped envelope? Clues that are gimmes for old hands and impossible for newbies, not because of intelligence but because they are layered crosswordese are the worst clues.

DNF in those two corners.

BarbieBarbie 9:25 AM  

Oops. Anon at 643 was me.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Two Westworld clues when either fill had multiple other options?

Nancy 9:37 AM  

So, yes, the revealer is off. As others have noted, it should be the ME being added and subtracted from the theme answers. And, yes, some of the made-up phrases like WINCE MAKER are pretty strange. And, also, there's an imbalance in the number of across themers (7) and down themers (3).

None of this mattered in the least to me. It provided what I always hope for in a puzzle. It was diverting, it was surprising, and it made me think. My two favorite theme answers were MAGI MOMENT and CREST AREA.

A big disappointment was the answer to "Profession since the Bronze Age". I wanted The World's Oldest Profession, but none of the many words for that profession fit. I ended up with...SMELTER, of all things! What a bummer. But this was a fun puzzle and I enjoyed it.

Cowboy Bob 9:40 AM  

I forgot all about CHARO. She was a regular on Johnny Carson back in the 70s, IIRC. Even as a young lad, I was more taken by the weird energy she had and the constant "coochi, coochi" thing than anything else...and there was plenty else.

Another "replace vowel "A" three times with vowel "B", carry the one, minus the remainder divided by two" clues today. I looked at the clue, eyes glazed over, and I just moved right on figuring I'd figure it out by the crosses. Which I did. Ugh.

I think a lot of OAKIEs take part in RODEOs in places where there are MESAS.

PAGEcRANK...ah...Google's web page ranking. Had to look that up.

Can someone explain 7D..."apres 'apres'" is SKI?

RooMonster 9:44 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the Like column! This was a nifty puz. Sorta agree that NOW YOU SEE IT would've been a bit of a better phrase for this puz, but honestly, ME in that phrase is way more common than IT.

Awesome that both Revealers cross each other! Plus the Down Revealer crosses an Across themer! And y'all are complaining about the fill. SHEESH! Great job in my EYES!

Har on 118A clue, and double Har on having _R___ in and try it keep my fingers of the TUMP keys!

I enjoyed the add-a-C and subtract-a-C themers. Fun to figure out. Had my one-letter DNF again, UGH, so close! ESTEe/AeSENAL. I knew the football team didn't look right, but couldn't get away from ESTEe. Ya got me Matt! Also thought the fill fared well, what with all the theme in here. Fan of lots of theme, in case you didn't know (or care).

One F. Better than none, I suppose.

LOL at @Lobster11's YOND can just go to hell. Great stuff.


GILL I. 9:47 AM  

How to annoy me...let me count the ways.
WINCE MAKER to a tee. @Rachel said it for me and in a niCer way.
The cluing is what made me go UGH about twenty different times. It felt cloying; it felt like it was trying too hard; it was like "looky here, I'm clever." @Rachel is right - this is Sunday, let's at least make it entertaining - it wasn't, it just aggravated me.
I did like the theme, though. But then I get to the reveal and dang, why have SEE instead of C? FAIL!
Leo, for example is a SIGN? You give me that? London football powerhouse is ARSENAL? And so on and so on.
I almost stopped doing the puzzle but I was bored. I just finished reading the oh-so-good "The Dew Breaker" and I had nothing left to do.
Someone explain PAGE (C) RANK? And it's Ringo STARR not some Edwin with a 1970 hit "War." SHEESH (also badly clued).

Teedmn 9:49 AM  

I like the theme as described in the 73D-113A crossing. It took far too long for me to C it though. And the far SW held me up forever. I couldn't think of any MAGI[C] phrase besides MAGI[C] Marker, which fit but made no sense as a "visit" whether to baby Jesus or anybody else.

I knew the Argonauts were asea but OARED, and MERIT, were evading me. I put in PABSTS once and took it out again. I wanted "nope" as an informal negation. And so on, and so on. SHEESH.

So I cheated and hit the "mark wrong letters" button a couple of times until I CAN and AIN'T settled into place and I got that MAGI[C] MOMENT of finishing.

PAGE [C]RANK meant nothing to me until I Googled it post solve and WIN[C]E MAKER seems rather Green Paintish. But SPARE [C]RIB, ANY [C]OLD TIME, FREE RADI[C]AL, all good. I looked for the 3rd down answer missing the C and it took me a while to see the MODERN DAN[C]E hidden in the NW.

Matt Ginsberg, I admire your Sunday puzzle, thanks.

SouthsideJohnny 9:50 AM  

Can someone explain the clue for 102D (SASE) - is MS. short for message, or some type of mail?

Z 9:55 AM  

@Hungry Mother with the topography humor!

Oh my gawd, Becky, I like big bucks and I cannot lie.*( I’m imagining Cassius rapping this through YONDer window.)

Did not remember ORRERY from its last appearance in a puzzle. I think Cassius liked to use vegan cookies with a creamy middle to construct his solar system model. That’s right, Cassius made an Oreo ORRERY.

I am sort of embarrassed that I knew DR NO’s first name. Definitely a learned from crosswords villain trivia. That and Gert Fröbe played Goldfinger. I think I was vaguely aware of Charles Lamb B.C.** but I can’t be sure. UDON is getting more popular, but it is definitely also a LFC item, too. The list goes on and on so I must agree, the fill was a little too esey for my taste. Maybe it’s just the 21x21 grid that results in inevitable dreck, but I caste so much side eye that I ended up looking forward again. I also noticed the TEMPE clue after its sister clue yesterday.

*this if you didn’t get the reference.
**B.C. - Before Crosswords

kgev 9:56 AM  

Agree revealer is off. Still I thought it was pretty good, and maybe because I'm of a certain age (read old enough to remember things like Lamb's essays) I thought it was fine.

PaulyD 10:01 AM  

Surprised no one else has commented on 83-A. Not a word I knew and had to get it from the downs. It has the ring of Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movies (which my grandparents told me about).

On the other hand, ORRERY/YOND is in no way a NATICK. I suspect most people misremember the Shakespeare line as "YON Cassius...", but ORRERY is totally straightforward and has been in common usage for hundreds of years.

I can't get worked up over the revealers. When people say "Beer me!" and use other similar constructions, "Now you 'C' me", it's totally reasonable. Because Internet!

Z 10:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
RavTom 10:13 AM  

Here, it means “manuscript.” This supports @Solvesinserbia’s point.

Z 10:16 AM  

@Cowboy Bob - “Après SKI” is the phrase for what one does after SKIing, “après” being French for “after.”

ME v. it - NOW YOU “SEE” ME as opposed to NOW YOU SEE “ME.” Changing ME to it does not fix the emphasis confusion. I do think “it” is what a magician would say, but having “it” would not make it any clearer that it is a C being added and removed.

@SouthsideJohnny - MS is short for manuscript, and if you want your manuscript back you need to include a SASE, a self-addressed stamped envelope.

@GILL I - War was oft played even in ultra-conservative west Michigan when I was growing up.

teevoz 10:26 AM  

I had IT long after I should have realized that it wasn't working. But I liked this puzzle, apparently not a popular opinion.

Ei Con 10:29 AM  

@Cowboy Bob - Vintage ladies fashion magazines often categorized certain styles as ‘aprés ski wear’. Cozy sweaters with stirrup slacks. Perfect for in front of the fire at the lodge, toddy in hand.

What? 10:46 AM  

To Rachel - 1 Down is so common, hard to see the problem with AMIR. Also, A E I substitutions are very common in crosswordese variations.
Agree with 113A. “Now you see it” would be better.

Joe Dipinto 10:51 AM  

Changing ME to it does not fix the emphasis confusion...having “it” would not make it any clearer that it is a C being added and removed. ←← @Z

It's the SEE in print that doesn't work. That's why the revealer should have been NOW YOU "C" IT. In other words, turning "C" into a verb facetiously meaning "include a 'C'.". Then it would make sense and your ear would still hear the play on "see".

nyc_lo 10:57 AM  

Given that the magician’s art is all about misdirection, I don’t have a big issue with the theme revealer. I “heard” the C before I saw the ME, so to speak.

Pretty easy overall, with the exception of HODAD. So that’s a thing, I guess? Never, ever heard that one before. But I’ve also hardly ever set foot in Southern California. But now I’m ready to sound like a local. “Brah, that hodad is, like, totally harshing my mellow.” “Way, dude...”

davim 11:03 AM  

Got off to a fast start on this one in the northwest, then for some reason really flailed. Finally I hit on NOW YOU DON’T, followed immediately by NOW YOU SEE IT. So I figured the word IT would be added and subtracted from themers for varied wackiness, but nope. Finally I realized that NOW YOU SEE ME was the right answer, so went looking for additions and subtractions of the word ME … still no go. However, I had the first four letters (only) of 23 Across, and revisited the clue. With a burst of inspiration I wrote in ANY COLD TIME, and had the aha moment: SEE = C. Misdirection! I disagree with Rachel’s analysis of the revealers. I enjoy when the Times puzzle pulls this sort of misdirection. It is a Times specialty, and keeps me on my mental toes. Really enjoyed MAJI MOMENT.

I got KLEIN right off, and was delighted to see a topology clue. More stuff like that, please, and fewer proper names, especially of celebs. However, I agree with Rachel that most people would not know this word, and surely would not be helped, in unveiling it, by two dreadful down crosses: RANEE (!) And UTILE (!!!!) Sorry, the correct adjective form of UTILITY is UTILITARIAN. Yes, you can find UTILE defined online, with the note that its use is “rare.” I’ll say! I’ve gone my whole life without ever hearing a single speaker say it, and I have never seen it in print, until today. I hope never to see it again.

I was earnestly hoping that the answer to 118 Across was going to be TRUMP, but, alas, no.

On a side note, in yesterday’s puzzle, I already had TRUMP (ugh!!!) and NRA (again???), and was staring, with deepening disquiet, at 59 Across: I had G as the first letter, and L as the sixth letter, and it seemed perfectly plausible to me that the Royal Navy had established a stronghold in GREENLAND during World War II. Please, I mentally importuned the constructor/editor, don’t make this GREENLAND, don’t, don’t, just don’t … whew!

Newboy 11:11 AM  

IMIN for this one; truly a WINCE MAKER.

davidm 11:24 AM  

Yes, good point by nyc_lo, which I just read. The misdirection of the revealer was doubly nice, because it jibes perfectly with the illusionist's trade -- misdirection! I hadn't thought of that. Beautiful!

Carola 11:28 AM  

This reminded me of Sunday puzzles of yore, at least from the halcyon days residing in my (admittedly hazy) memory: challenging, ingenious, and amusing. I loved the WINCE-MAKing pun on "Now you C me, now you don't," and enjoyed working our the phrases (my solving pattern had taken me to the double reveal before I had any of the other theme answers completed). I understand the cavils ("Now you see it," the various arcana), but for me the fun outweighed the flaws. I also liked the SALUT-SWEAR AT cross, capturing reactions to the puzzle and HIGH C as "Hi, C!"

Not for the first time, I confused HODAD with the HODAg, a tall-tale creature that lurks in the environs of Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

xyz 11:33 AM  

No reason to reduce my general dislike of larger grid puzzles.

Hungry Mother 11:41 AM  

I did my PhD thesis on a toplogical topic. A topologist has been defined as one who can’t tell the difference between a donut and a coffee cup.

Ken Freeland 11:46 AM  

Disagree with Rachel about the theme... thought it original and well executed, though I hold the consensus view that "it" would work much better than "me." Agree with Rachel about the fill... really dreadful, with several naticks up top... yuck... dnf.

Leslie 12:10 PM  

Put me in the like column, too. This is the kind of puzzle that leaves me with a good feeling because of associations (e.g. Lamb=The Guernsey Literary and PPP Society, remember?) (e.g. Klein, remembering when we discovered the Mobius strip and the Klein bottle back in college). And the whole add a letter, subtract a letter theme with nice puns; Crest area and maji moment were my favorites. I was glad to see orrery since it's a word I learned from crosswords, and I like to apply knowledge gained. The revealer was confusing, but the explanation of "see me" as "C Me" , like "beer me" satisfied me. p.s. I don't think amir and ranee are extremely irregular as i've seen them in puzzles numerous times.

JOHN X 12:19 PM  

This was a challenging and enjoyable puzzle. In fact, it was so challenging that I had a DNF at my last square at ORRERY/YOND.

But you know what? I should have known both of them, unlike this guest reviewer who blames the puzzle for not accommodating her lack of knowledge. This review is just a boring laundry list of things she doesn’t know. At least when Rex rants about a puzzle’s innate personal unfairness to him he does it with that unhinged provocateur lunacy that we all enjoy ever so much.

So after all my victories and conquests throughout the grid (and yes some of them were a bit hard to figure) at the very end the puzzle kicked my ass. That’s my fault, kids.

pabloinnh 12:26 PM  

Saw "c" as a verb, was directed, finally, by the reveal to include it or not, and thought it made sense. Of course the expression is " now you see it", but this variation is just fine. I like Sundays where you're doing one thing going across and another going down. Good fun.

Hand up for "YON Cassius". Has that D always been there?

I'll fill in for @JoeD, although I don't do the music--

This magic moment, so different and so new,
Was like any other, and then I kissed you


The version I'm most familiar with was by Jay and the Americans. Some advantages to growing up in the 60's.

Thanks for the Sunday fun, MG. Do some more, por favor.

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

CEE, SEE … IT, ME … tomawto, tomayto. I'd call this puppy a near-masterpiece SunPuz. 12 funny themers [well, actually, two of em are long theme revealers, but hey]. Only 3 weejects. And U are tryin to fill a jumbo puzgrid with an average word-length of 5.30. Well, kiss my giraffe -- that's quite a feat. A darn WINCEMAKER project, for the constructioneer. Primo job.

SHEESH … a will-less HELM Scream, perhaps?

Liked that SEE&PAGE were both repeated in the puz answers, without technically bein repeated, cuz it was re-purposed as cellar SEEPAGE.

I guess U can find a dab of desperation in here, if U R desperate enough: AMIR (at 1-A, unfortunately). ANAS. Maybe the dreaded organized PABSTS union. But, shoot -- pretty day-um smoooth Fill over(c)all, Dr.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Ginsberg. Enjoyed it all thoroughly.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


OffTheGrid 12:36 PM  

This is a terrific Sunday puzzle. Clever cluing, difficult but doable, and a really fun theme. I don't understand all the hate. Once I saw what what was happening I had no problem perceiving "C" as a verb. Does no one enjoy word/letter play anymore? And I loved the city clue which became apparent with a couple of crosses. Interesting that today's critic took a shot at Rex and then outdid him. Nice work, Matt.

Aphid Larue 12:39 PM  

Cute puzzle, but I wiped out in the south west.

On a different note, for people who solve on paper, I have a new implement. I could not find another erasermate fine line, so bought some parkoo erasable gel pens. The ink disappears when it gets hot. So you just rub briskly and it disappears. You can also use a hair dryer and erase the whole puzzle, for someone else’s use.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

It's not winter yet, although no longer comfortably warm, but skating 'any cold time' means drowning in hypothermia most of the time. It takes weeks of cold time to make ice safe to skate on. If you mean some spot in your back yard that you've flooded, it still takes weeks.

jberg 12:45 PM  

I enjoyed it, despite all. It was fun figuring out the theme answers, although PAGE CRANK was pretty tough, as the phrase wasn't familiar in either form. (@Gill, I looked it up -- some guy named Larry PAGE, a co-founder of Google, developed an algorithm for giving all websites a RANK based on how many hits they got; it was named the PAGE RANK after him.) Also really put off by CROW HOUSES, since crows don't live in houses -- I had CROW rOostS for too long, even though it doesn't work with the theme.

The revealer itself is fine, once you imagine that it's the C talking; and to my thinking the SEE/C pun is a feature, not a bug.

But @JAE, CHARO was never married to Xavier Cugat -- you're probably thinking of crossword favority Yma Sumac. CHARO was married to some guy named Kjell Rasten, at least if Wikipedia is to be believed.

As an English major, I definitely was taught that Charles Lamb was a brilliant essayist who used the name ELIA; but I was never actually assigned anything by him to read.

And I've just loved KLEIN bottles since I learned of them at the age of 12 or so. They're so neat -- if you're on the outside of the bottle, you just have to crawl along the surface and pretty soon you're on the inside, and vice versa.

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

whoopsiee … make that 10 weejects, not 3 weejects. I musta been thinkin of the weejects' length, or somesuch. I dunno; M&A's brain is clearly Klein Bottle-shaped. 10 is still real low, for a SunPuz, tho.


Anonymous 12:51 PM  

This puzzle was a hot mess. Orrery? Anas? sase? yond, etc etc...
Was hoping for a scathing rebuke from Rex.

Unknown 1:08 PM  

I loved this puzzle!! And I didn't think it was hard either-- plus it seems to be completely legitimate to use the stock phrases. It would have been gimmicky if he'd used "c" instead.

JC66 1:10 PM  


My wikipedia says they were married (she was his fifth wife).

mrn 1:16 PM  

When a theme answer is ANY COLD TIME, you have up and lost me right there. That’s a total GREEN PAINT sort of answer. Didn’t enjoy much of the rest of this one. Though I did think CHART crossing STARR was cute.

Z 1:21 PM  

@Carola - UW-Madison's ultimate team is the HODAgs so I had to fix that answer as well.

@Joe DiPinto - I think "SEE" for "C" works fine as wordplay. We get those kinds of spelled out letters not infrequently. My point, though, was that the suggestion that changing ME to "it" doesn't make the theme any clearer. The revealer can be misread as needing to add or subtract ME. Replace ME with "it" and the revealer could be misread as needing to add or subtract "it."

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

John X 12:19 - I think you must be lost. This blog is for whiners and crybabies. You need to take your sense of personal responsibility elsewhere, it falls on deaf ears here.

David 1:31 PM  

Won't go to 118A; been there done that. I forgot Ernie was orange too.

Didn't like it terribly, didn't hate it; mostly meh.

Is this the third seesaw in a week? I think one was actually a teeter totter.

Wanted 73D to be "Nothing up my sleeve" and yeah, we seem to be talking about peek-a-boo rather than an illusionist.

Welsh is wonderful. Double d, double f. They also have a double u, which is written "w" and can be used in Scrabble as an instrument called a crwth. (just in case you've ever wondered why we call a w "double u", but probably most of you know)

I'm old enough to know about Charles Lamb but didn't get there until I had es__y. I kind of liked that clue. I didn't even see "anas" until I came here. I looked it up and still find its use untenable.

The cat who came up with the bottle was Felix Kline.

Bill L. 1:40 PM  

United Arab Amirates? Don't think so. Until now I thought emir and amir were merely alternate spellings of the same (transliterated) word. As M-W online says:

emir noun
\ ə-ˈmir , ā-\
variants: or amir or less commonly ameer
Definition of emir
: a ruler, chief, or commander in Islamic countries


amir noun
variant spelling of EMIR
: a ruler, chief, or commander in Islamic countries

However, the internet (WikiDiff) also tells me this:

"As nouns the difference between emir and amir is that emir is a prince, commander or other leader or ruler in an Islamic nation while amir is a high title of nobility or office, used in some Muslim countries."

So one is a person while the other is a title. And one is Islamic while the other is Muslim. Is this right??? Can any of you smart people shed some light on my confusion?

I had fun with the theme so thanks, Matt Ginsberg!

Crimson Devil 1:46 PM  

Puz grew on me, after almost quit.
Whas etymology of HODAD ??

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Rachel, I'm also in the club of only knowing Charo's catchphrase through RuPaul! :-)

Anonymoose 2:31 PM  

Stop reading WikiDiff and your problems will be over.

P.S. I'm not really among the smart people.

Joe Dipinto 2:31 PM  

@Z -- It, me, whatever, doesn't make a difference for clarity. (I just think illusionists more commonly say "it".)

As long as SEE is there you're more likely to expect the next word to be the thing that appears or disappears. My point was that changing SEE to "C" would remove that expectation and tweak the phrase nicely to suit the gimmick.

sixtyni yogini 2:37 PM  

Enjoyed 😍 and liked this 🧩 a lot. Clever puns and clues with lots of bucks! (Okay, 2)
Thought it would be easy...but not so much... Just right!

CDilly52 2:53 PM  

Well, as one often left out of the day’s “wheelhouse,” through no fault of my own other than lack of (usually pop music) knowledge, said house being the property of the constructor, I guess my nit is not with today’s puzzle but with the reviewer. When I do not know an answer, especially when it is a great word (like ORRERY), I send a Karmic hug and a thank you to my Grandmother who got me hooked on puzzles 59 years ago (I was 8), and I grab my dictionary (or after a solve my iPad to Google something about pop music or culture). No new vocabulary today only because I learned ORRERY from the Harry Potter books. Harry got his special boggart-slaying tutorials with Professor Lupin in the ORRERY. But there were a couple earlier this week, most notably OPSOMANIA yesterday. LOVED THAT WORD!!! All I can say is thank the constructors for reasonable crosses!

I would more quickly criticize a puzzle for unfair, “Naticky” crossings (and I think ORRERY/YOND probably qualifies) than I would criticize for my own lack of vocabulary. Quite honestly YOND unless one is quite the Shakespeare “Julius Caesar” expert crossing ORRERY - it being a rather dated word has Natick possibilities galore. I found the use of “location” with such a difficult reference to rank not as misdirection but weak construction. The portion of the quote we know is that Cassius “has a lean and hungry look,” and the complete line is that “YOND Cassius has a lean and hungry look.” Who besides actors and Shakespeare scholars actually knows that. I only know it because I thought the quote was “Yon Cassius. . . “ and was instantly corrected by my resident scholar/actor/director daughter and son-in-law.

My very lean and always hungry “LawSon” (so named because he calls me “LawMamma” because of my profession and our relationship by marriage) was prowling my kitchen one afternoon over 5 years ago while my daughter and I were buried in wedding planning. I commented to Kate while we listened to the banging around that “Yon Cassius . . .” I thought I was being pretty darn clever only to be rebuked by both simultaneously, “It’s YOND not yon!” I sat corrected.

I had an unusual route this morning. I skated diagonally through from the NW (to the center) down through the SE. Thankfully, ESSAYist Elia, (whose proper name, Lamb in its oh-so-clever clue “Lamb offering” was my favorite misdirect clue) is a crossword staple.

The remaining areas slowed me a bit, first because I threw in SPAREwomB at 77A without thinking only because of a very bad joke for which that is the punchline. Because the B worked, I left it. And I had not figured out the “c+, c-“ thing (hand up for NOW YOU SEE it) so that little chunk was last to fall. Thank you BRIDES magazine!

Overall a fine offering with a few rough spots. Another super misdirect clue at 120A for HEMS. I chuckled at that one but the easy RUE and HELM kept me moving forward.

Despite the rough spots, I enjoyed the solve and think it was an adequate and appropriate Sunday.

Canon Chasuble 3:07 PM  

A lot of little annoyances, and one major one: Pronounce the "dd" in Welsh as TH -- that's two letters.
Also, I wrote "Ernie" as in Ernie Davis for the Orange troublemaker. At least he made plenty of trouble for their rivals when the Syracuse Orange played football against them.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

I always thought it was the OrangeMEN.

jazzmanchgo 3:59 PM  

RE: Charo -- Behind that "Guchi-Guchi" facade was a serious, gifted musical artist. It's astounding that she had to play that ludicrous, demeaning game to get over with "mainstream" American TV audiences.



BarbieBarbie 4:04 PM  

I think people are taking 1A to be a general noun, but that’s not the way the clue is written, with the quotation marks and capital C. A similar clue, if three letters in the word, might be “literally, ‘King’” and the answer would be REX and there wouldn’t be all this chitchat about Rex being some kind of alternate spelling for king. AMIR is a given name, peeps. I know at least three people with that name.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

The phrase is "après ski". The clue means "the word that comes après (after) the word après, which is ski.

Patricia Hughes 5:32 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle despite being stuck a few times. Saved the SE corner for the end because there was only one good answer too 118A and I knew it had to be wrong.

Escalator 5:59 PM  

What the heck is the connection between the clue and answer for 96A? “Suspiciously flattering, say” and “oily”. Me no get....

puzzlehoarder 6:12 PM  

A routine Sunday. No mistakes today.

Monty Boy 6:14 PM  

Put me in the "liked it" column. I was close to a record time (still about an hour). I agree with M&A's comments, so I won't repeat those.

Much of this was in my wheelhouse, as we say, so I had a good time with it. My neighbor cubical-mate (green paint?) is an astronomer so I knew ORRERY. I grew up in Montana and somehow still knew HODADS. Not much surfing there, so it must be Beach Boys influence. 70D was my favorite clue/answer.

A very enjoyable Sunday. Thanks Matt!!

OffTheGrid 6:17 PM  

No capital C in the version I have. My question is: "literally" in what language?

Jkol 6:44 PM  

Rex is also a name. Rex Harrison

Unknown 6:59 PM  

What a fun puzzle. I agree that "it" instead of "me" was weak, but the themers were witty and funny and most of the fill was high-quality. I truly feel sorry for the anal-retentive crowd for your angst
at the 7:3 ratio. There is medication available for you.

RooMonster 7:01 PM  

@Escalator 5:59
I believe it has to do with slick talking salesmen, as in they flatter you to buy their useless item. Snake Oil Salesman, as I'm sure you've heard of. So, "Suspiciously flattering" is them being "oily".

Then again, I might be totally off. I'd bet more on that!


jazzmanchgo 7:25 PM  

"Oleaginous," which literally means "oily," is also defined as "exaggeratedly and distastefully complimentary; obsequious."

Speedweeder 7:31 PM  

@Escalator 5:59



2. (of a person or their behavior) unpleasantly smooth and ingratiating.
"his oily smile"
synonyms: unctuous, fawning, ingratiating, smooth, smooth-talking, fulsome, flattering, glib, obsequious, sycophantic, soapy, oleaginous, servile, subservient; informalsmarmy, slimy, sucky; raresaponaceous
"an oily man with plump little hands"

mmorgan 7:37 PM  

What @Nancy said... pretty much. Interesting range of responses, but I liked this a lot (and was too busy to say so earlier today). Agree 1000% with @OffTheGrid. One of the really good Sundays, which are far and few between these days.

GILL I. 7:43 PM  

@Z....Ah, yes. War. Song rings a bell...I prefer Ringo.
@jberg. Thank you, too, for the PAGE RANK. Shrug... like this puzzle. I did think most people knew CHARO. And yes, as you now know, she was very married too Xavier. He actually discovered her. Too bad she re-invented herself with the cuchi cuchi shtick. She was/is a very talented classical guitarist. Quite good but I guess Hollywood wanted her to be a blonde bimboesque type. Sigh.
By the way...our own @Aketi Is now a Master 7 blue belt World champion in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition in Las Vegas. She has won double gold. We're Facebook pals and she posted some wonderful pictures. Yay, @Aketi......

CDilly52 8:04 PM  

@Canon C 3:07 pm: I think that is exactly the reference!! What better one?

CDilly52 8:05 PM  

@Anonymous 3:56 pm: Gender neutral era now. Just the Orange as it is with the Crimson at Harvard.

CDilly52 8:11 PM  

@Escalator re “OILY.” I couldn’t agree more. OILY typically refers not to a flatterer but to someone trying to manipulate another to the benefit of the vendor, as in “snakeoil salesman.”

Nancy 8:49 PM  

Congrats, @Aketi!!!!!!!!

Joe Dipinto 9:37 PM  

Carol Burnett used to do an exaggerated "Charo" character on her show. It was very funny. The actual Charo was a guest at least once so I assume they were friendly.

JC66 9:45 PM  


Mazel tov!!!

Cassieopia 9:51 AM  

A day late and a dollar short, but had to drop in to praise this wonderful Sunday offering. Loved the off-kilter cluing for ESSAY, DOE, ERNIE (put me in the camp of solvers who thought of a different orange troublemaker), SKI, HEM...lots of goodness there.

The theme was fantastic. "Beer me!" is definitely a thing, and while it took me a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed how the theme emerged - first thinking "me" would appear and disappear, and when that didn't work, having the "C" trick reveal itself to my neurons step by step. Highly satisfying solve.

Despite the struggle, this still came in significantly below my normal Sunday time, which made me even more pleased. Really great puzzle, thank you to Matt Ginsberg!

kitshef 1:56 PM  

My god that was hard. Partially due to the theme, but more so due to many unknown proper nouns.

Robert Berardi 5:30 PM  

After getting MAGI MOMENT, I thought that was the theme of the downers: take the C out of the word magic in a famous phrase, for a wacky new phrase. So I thought Margrethe II must be a MAGISTRATE, and I was like oh, wait, that's not a phrase if the C was there. When I got to FREERADIAL I realized that the constructor gave up on the magic moment thing. Loved CRESTAREA and HIGH C. Natick at the corner of OONA and LAHR. Anyone else find SMELTER obscure? On career day, I've never heard anyone say, "I want to study law or smelting." Last thing, and it's not so much a complaint as a challenge: try saying PABSTS out loud.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

But the word "ME" is also in seven across answers. So there's an extra layer there that I find impressive! I liked it.

Burma Shave 3:02 PM  


OAR maybe BRIDES like YOU won't
be A_TEASE at LEAST 'til the BAPTISM?


today's DREAM of unconsciousness by PABSTS and MADEIRA, ANYCOLDTIME.

Diana, LIW 3:45 PM  

I like puzzles? I like questions? I like clues? But you need some variation? Or your audience will get tired of cuteness? And then, 94% finished, not finish whilst not caring? Methinks the puzzle needs more magic? Less cuteness? When is a door not a door?

Diana, Lady-in-Questionable Waiting

rondo 5:01 PM  

@D,LIW - when it's ajar?

Woulda been better with an equal number of C me/now you don't answers, esp. in a 21 X 21.

(CH)ARO (A)RI (O)ONA (S)ISSY, literal 'chaos' in the yeah baby contest, won by one SISSY Spacek for her body of work, not just a one-trick pony.

This was not my favorite Sun-puz, if there is such a thing anymore.

spacecraft 6:09 PM  

Late to blog because of attending E!A!G!L!E!S! game at the pub. During season, this will be the norm for yours truly. I liked the puz--which I almost finished before having to leave, and got 'er done in short order upon the return.

And speaking of returns: welcome back to the aerie, Desean Jackson! #10 was brilliant in a come-from-behind Eagle victory: FLY EAGLES FLY!!!!!

I enjoyed this one, figuring out not only the added--obvious--C, but the sneakier subtracted one going down. Playful themers, and some interesting fill too. Liked it. DOD is CHARO; I've always liked her upbeat attitude. Birdie.

rainforest 6:50 PM  

Took a long time, but I finished it. Liked it, too.
I thought the C/see pun was cute/wacky and spot on.
The theme answers were pretty funny, except maybe PAGE(C)RANK which I don't really get with or without the C.

I appreciated the nifty cluing and clever answere.

5wksltr 4:01 PM  

One of the best Sunday puzzles since forever. For those of you not paying attention, the last couple month's worth of Sunday puzzles have become harder, trickier, and actually interesting. So hats off to Will Shortz and the stable of sidewinders who keep us amused. Keep it up.

Unknown 8:57 PM  

Please never, ever allow the clue 48 down to be repeated. Every Drill Sergeant knows that "Fall out" is only commanded after bringing the unit to attention.
Free radial was a good one, btw.

dapete 4:16 PM  

My paper didn't print the è so my clue for 7 down was apr s "apr s"

Needless to say I had no clue since I didn't know the actor across.


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