Pioneering silent director Weber / SUN 8-4-19 / Says Quack instead of Buzz / Relative of guinea pig / Animal with flexible snout / Onetime fad with replacement seeds / Old game console for short / Melodic opera passages / Claude villain in Hunchback of Notre Dame

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Easy (8:59)

THEME: Constant Consonants — themers are nonsense two-word phrases where both words have the same consonants in the same order, yes that's it, no, yes, I am sure, yes, stop asking...

Theme answers:
  • BRONTOSAURUS / BRAIN TEASERS (22A: With 105-Across, "What walks on four dino legs in the morning, four dino legs at noon and four dino legs in the evening?" and other riddles?) (if the "joke" here makes no sense to you ... here)
  • MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES (35A: Says "Quack" instead of "Buzz"?)
  • FRONTIER FURNITURE (51A: Tables in an Old West saloon, e.g.?)
  • SCARFACE SACRIFICE (75A: Chess gambit employed by gangster Tony Montana?)
  • OVERSELLS VERSAILLES (86A: Claims that Louis XIV's palace is better than all the other buildings in France combined?)
Word of the Day: FROLLO (68A: Claude ___, villain in "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame") —
Monseigneur Claude Frollo (French: [klod fʁɔlo]) is a fictional character and the main antagonist of Victor Hugo's 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (known in French as Notre-Dame de Paris). He is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. (read more about him here)
• • •

Hi everyone. I am freshly returned from Vacation the Second (this one to Montreal), and I can say with confidence that, whether you like it or not, I am back on full-time blogging duty for the foreseeable future (except of course tomorrow, which is an Annabel Monday, and Tuesday, which is a make-up Clare Tuesday ... but after *that*, back on the grind). Montreal is a gorgeous city, the most diverse and cosmopolitan city I've ever been to, and I want to go back immediately, if only for the croissants and bandes dessinées and dizzying French/English swirl that's in the air most everywhere you go (though French definitely dominates). I bought my weight in Québécois comics and graphic novels (what's up, Drawn & Quarterly and La Pastèque?), ate my weight in pastry, and walked all over hell and gone for day after day after day. Many, many thanks to my friend Kate G (whom I got to meet for the first time IRL!) for showing me around Mile End and Outremont and the whole area around Mount Royal. So exciting. Gonna go back en hiver so I can see the city in a completely different guise (iced up and cold af). I just loved everything about it. And I didn't do a single crossword while I was there, so it was nice to sit down tonight and knock this one out in under 9. I felt sloppy and unpracticed, but (relatively) I've still got it! Sadly, my happiness at finding my solving skills relatively undiminished was not accompanied by a commensurate happiness at finding the puzzle itself ... you know, good. It just lies there. It's ... didja ever order pancakes, and, you know, they're brown but only pale brown, and they're warm but not hot, and they're a little on the thick side and the butter's not melting very readily and the syrup is a little too cloying, and, you know, it's pancakes, so you're not gonna kick it out of bed, but ... you had something nicer in mind. Something genuinely pleasurable, as opposed to just blandly sufficient? Well, didja?

I don't see the appeal here. Same consonants in same order. Is this an accomplishment? I don't know. It doesn't seem hard. Maybe it is. But the point is / should be—why do this? What is the result of doing this? How does it *play* for a solver in terms of entertainment value? Are these phrases funny? Do they yield funny clues? If [Tables in an Old West saloon, e.g.?] is funny to you, or does anything for you at all, then you are fortunate, I guess, because every one of these answers and clues felt flaccid to me. And the remainder of the puzzle, the non-theme stuff, was fine. OK. Didn't like a few things, liked a few things, just plodded through the rest. I don't understand why people run with concepts when the yield is so poor. And the title doesn't even make sense, or follow the rules of the game, or anything. Dull as dirt. Not the fancy kind of dirty either. Nothing loamy* or bug-filled. Just the unamusing, forgettable kind of dirt.

Five things:
  • 111A: Nickname for the capital of the Peach State (HOTLANTA) — I am told by natives that no one actually calls it that, but OK
  • 103D: South, in Brazil (SUL) — I did not know that. You'd think after nearly 30 years of solving, I'd've known this by now, but ... no. Can't recall ever seeing it. (note: looks like this is just my third time seeing it in the NYT ... ever; between 1985 and 2010 it didn't appear at all)
  • 12D: Aligned (TRUED UP) — I have only so much patience for the verb+preposition thing. LUGS IN is a little much. This one's OK. But this one has its UP crossing the UP in UPTOP (41A: "High-five!"), so [raspberry!]
  • 87D: Portmanteau for a TV addict (VIDIOT) — No. Come on. No. It's not 1983. And even then, to the extent that it was used at all, it was surely made up by some "kids these days..." numbskull. So it's dated and bad. So no. Please feel free to put "VIDEODROME" in your puzzle, though. That would be cool.
  • 32D: Trig ratios (COTANS) — Oof. I am making a face. You can't see it. But I am definitely making it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. a gajillion thanks to all the people who filled in for me this past week, many of them first-timers. I'm lucky to have such generous and eloquent readers.

*n.b. I am not a dirt expert. Please send all your indignant dirt emails elsewhere.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Canon Chasuble 12:20 AM  

I totally agree with Rex on two issues. First, what he writes about Montreal, and second what he writes about this puzzle. And what a contrast between the two. Excitement for one, and dullness for the other. I was in Montreal the night Nixon resigned and remember vividly two things, the tension in the air from both Canadians and Americans, and watching the entire event play out in French.

TJS 12:40 AM  

Wow, I'm first? Well, welcome back. You were sorely missed, in my opinion, since I kept imagining how you would have savaged some of the dreck we have been dealing with for the most part. I agree with your assessment of this effort.
Have had Montreal on my wish list for years. I'm glad to hear it remains as interesting as I have imagined over the years. Sometimes we can wait too long to experience a new location and find that time has not treated it well.

Joe Dipinto 1:20 AM  

They passed up the opportunity for a Harry Potter clue at 82a: actress Clémence Poésy played the character Fleur Delacour in three of the movies. Guess she's not famous enough.

I kind of agree with Rex about the overall mehness on display, but I do like the theme answers. The constructor mentions other candidates that didn't make the cut at XWord Info -- IMPRISONED AMPERSAND and SISYPHEAN SOUSAPHONE are two that I also like.

But it's a skimpy set of Sunday themers again -- five, masquerading as six. As I see it, they need to start imposing a theme answer quota. Pleeease?

Today's set list includes Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun", Samuel Barber's "A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map", Santana's "Soul Sacrifice", the Viscounts' "Harlem Nocturne", and Donald Fagen. Stick around. Because, along with furniture,

We've got provisions and lots of beer
The key word is survival on the new frontier

Helen 1:30 AM  

I don’t understand the answer to 30A. The clue seems to imply that it’s a film director, yet LOIS is a woman’s name.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Welcome home Rex, we missed you, well I can’t speak for everyone, but I missed you. There were a few puzzles that I would have given a lot to read your reaction. We had some strange and unusual puzzles while you were off enjoying Montreal, love that city.

Today’s was pretty easy and mostly enjoyable. OVERSELLS VERSAILLES and SCARFACE SACRIFICE coming out on top or me.

Missing my Rebus Sunday’s.

chefwen 3:06 AM  

@Helen, women can also be directors.

Unknown 3:12 AM  

No indignant email needed, loamy dirt is fancy dirt. I'd much prefer it to my local clay!

Anonymous 3:17 AM  

I thought the theme answers were reasonably cute, though I was trying to think of a chess gambit that was less generic than SACRIFICE and not coming up with anything.

I learned something new - I thought ordnance was only stuff that exploded, like bombs and ammunition, and not stuff that sent that explosive stuff through the air, like artillery.

A dinosaur Friday and again Sunday!

Had to get FROLLO from every cross. Ditto AGOUTI, RAY LIOTTA, ARAMIS, and MALBECS. To me, all were unguessable names where pretty much any character in them could have been something else.

I don't get STEREO.

As a person with a math background, I liked any number to the zero power. In fact, the limit, as x goes to zero, of x to the x, is also 1. So it's not too absurd to say that even zero to the zero is 1.

The misdirections for AMPERE and TEPEE were reasonably clever too.

CBGB (country, blue grass and blues) was punk? Who knew? But Wikipedia confirms.

Never heard of NES.

Annoyed at myself for forgetting EDDA and having to fill it in from the crosses.

Took me way too long to think of a 4-letter country that started with C and ended with A.

Anonymous 3:19 AM  

@Helen, check out google. Lois Weber was quite famous!

Anonymous 3:19 AM  

I think Helen understands that women can also be directors. But you must admit that over a very wide time span to a significant extent including today, hardly any directors were women.

jae 3:46 AM  

Easy-medium. Welcome back Rex.

Loren Muse Smith 3:54 AM  

Rex – I’m adding a Montreal visit to my grocery list. And it was my plan to eat a bunch of these exotic, delicious sounding bandes dessinées until I looked it up. Oops. And I was a French major.

I caught on very quickly to the trick (unlike Rex, I think the title actually gives it away) and smiled briefly at BRONTOSAURUS BRAINTEASERS. A quick little google shows that their brains were the size of a walnut, so I guess coming up with riddles for these guys would’ve been pretty easy. That one is the most impressive pair, imo. BRNTSRS as the only consonants in two words is amusing. I couldn’t come up with any pairs, so I’m guessing maybe knowing how to code would be helpful?

I have never heard the word VIDIOT, but I like it. It’s not a stretch to suggest that we’re a bunch of gridiots. You’re welcome.

Rex – I grew up outside Atlanta, and I heard HOTLANTA a lot, but I’m thinking maybe it was used only by outsiders asking about us? I can’t remember. But it was part of my lexicon. Someone was (is) sure calling it that.

IT PRO – busiest guy in our school. When he’s there. We share him with another poor WV county.

My weekly thumb-in-the-eye to all the pedants. INFER meaning imply is listed as the fourth sense of the word in Merriam Webster, and it’s not marked as nonstandard. There is a usage guide note that discusses its lexical journey. Worth a read.

You know, I’m just so sick over El Paso that I have nothing else to say.

Anonymous 3:56 AM  

Anonymous @3:17: Start to type? = STEREO because it's a prefix that makes the word stereotype.

Also, NES = Nintendo Entertainment System, the original Nintendo console, before SNES or Super Nintendo.

Curmudgeon 4:20 AM  


Start to Type = Prefix to Type

Anonymous 4:32 AM  

LMS: You don't even need to code to come up with these. You can do it with something called regular expressions, and it's trivial to find them that way. Take your set of consonants, let's say BRNTSRS, and you can get a computer to find all the words with any number of vowels between those letters like so:


It turns out Brontosaurus is the only word in my computer's dictionary with that pattern.

It's also pretty trivial to get a computer to make you a list of these words. For example, there are 74 words in my computer's dictionary with the consonants rn.

The real problem with this is coming up with interesting ones. For example, tittering/tottering, compartment/comportment, counterclockwise/contraclockwise, constrictive/constructive are not interesting pairs since it's better to have verb/noun or adjective/noun pairs and it's difficult to find pairs that are like that because of the common endings. E.g. things ending in ly are likely to both be adverbs, and things ending with nss consonants are likely to be the nouns, and so on.

Bart Gellman 5:12 AM  

I thought they stopped letting women direct films after the Leni Riefenstahl fiasco. I guess Joan Rivers directed Rabbit Test in 1981 but that sure didn’t help the cause. I can’t think of any others.

Maraschino 5:30 AM  

Morning everyone,

@Rex. You must absolutely go back to Montreal "iced up and cold af" and experience the Underground City like a proper tourist who becomes the butt of jokes by indifferent Frenchmen. Pay them no mind. It's a Winter Wonderland down under.

@Loren Muse Smith I'm with GRIDIOT. Needs to be on a T-Shirt. Question. What happened to the I in ORDINANCE?

This lackluster puzzle reminded me of Patrick Merrell's Thursday pangram, which I liked much better. Both boast the same general conceit: a fixed, ordered set of letters (e.g. ABCDE or BRNTSRS) between which the variable letters are squeezed in like books on a shelf (ABCDE // ABsConDEd ; BRoNToSauRuS // BRaiNTeaSeRS). The only aaah-worthy aspect of Mr. Nediger's Sunday are the use of weird letters like Q and V in the theme entries (MiSQuoTeS MoSQuiToeS was spoiled, though, by unimaginative cluing). That said, my screwy noodle could come up with funnier fare at 5am:

DIY you can eat?

King-Kong's affliction?
HaiRy iTCH HeaRTaCHe

Open-mic night for intellectuals?

Souvenir foodstuff from Disneyland?
MiNNie'S MayoNNaiSe

I could go on and on. Which is to say, the puzzle would be more impressive if the constructer had imposed a thematic constraint that related to the linguistic one.

@QuasiMojo. Re poets and Hollywood. I will never forgive James Franco for murdering Allen Ginsberg in that cheesy biopic. Cocteau observed in Le Foyer des Artistes (1947) how the serious artists would have to traffic in corn if they were to compete with radio and film and television. And so the poet Cocteau made films like Blood of a Poet, whose surrealist hijinks his contemporaries found gimmicky. Even today I think, the serious poets and composers traffic in gimmickry and meme art (of which crossword puzzles are perhaps a subset) to generate the viral audience from which to zone the more discerning patrons for their passion projects. The former nobodies, rescued by validation from the purgatory of meme art, are doing things for PBS, Wired, Kennedy Center, New Yorker, etc. Nothing has really changed in this respect.

Lisa puzzle lady 6:30 AM  

Stereotype is the word made from type and stereo.

Lewis 6:36 AM  

I thought this is a good puzzle for someone who was finally getting comfortable with M-W puzzles, but never tackled a Sunday, and always wanted to. No terribly tricky clues, and it didn't feel very difficult to me.

To make this puzzle more elegant, Will N had to be careful not have the same consonant strings in pairs of the non-theme answers. During a quick perusal, I did find ARS/ARIOSI, but if that's the only one, then he did very well indeed.

Jeff Chen notes that Will's name came up in a recent conversation with Matt Gaffney, the two agreed that "when it comes to pure construction chops," Will was in both their top ten lists. FWIW.

This felt smooth, felt clean, with no big highs or lows, and I sipped and enjoyed.

mmorgan 6:39 AM  

It was kind of interesting to see those word pairs with the same consonants, but not much fun to solve and yes, the whole thing was like pale brown, thick, lukewarm pancakes. Perfect encapsulation. And yes, Montreal is awesome, and welcome back, Rex.

Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

I had lAcIER in place of CAGIER for a short while until I proofread my work. Very nice theme, but not an easy solve here. Very satisfying to emerge from my recent slump.

Hungry Mother 6:52 AM  

@Anonymous 4:33am: thanks for reminding me of regular expressions. I haven’t thought about them since I retired in 1996, but I have fond memories.

Z 7:37 AM  

@Helen/Bart Gellman - The problem with plaintext is that scathing satire and raging sexism look exactly alike.

So I read the note after solving the puzzle and the editor mentions that he found some of the clues to be “particularly fresh, (and) imaginative.” Yowser. This is apparently a man who would find dad jokes edgy. I mean, he thinks using tennis player “Smashnova” to clue APT is imaginative? The notion that “FREE” in an ad always has a catch made him smile? SMH. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that, but c’mon man. This is Budweiser humor in a hoppy IPA world.

The last BUDDY COP movie I enjoyed was Turner and Hooch.

@LMS - and Ohio.

John H 7:46 AM  

I still don't get why that 1A/105A riddle is a brain teaser. Yes, I am well acquainted with the riddle of the sphinx, and recognized the pattern of the question, but the answer to that "riddle" is not necessarily "brontosaurus" unless you are trying to cram it into the theme of your puzzle. In fact, I can only think of a few exceptions, like T-Rex and velociraptors.

But I kind of liked the puzzle anyway. The rest of the themes made jokey sense, and I don't think that they are as easy to come by as Rex does.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Ida Lupino.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Had bromance from the b in lieu of buddy cop for far too long.

Z 8:14 AM  

@John H - See @LMS’s second paragraph.

Suzie Q 8:18 AM  

Pleasant Sunday stroll that I'm glad for. It's too beautiful outside this morning to linger too long at the kitchen table.
Misquotes Mosquitoes tickled my funny bone thinking of a bug saying quack!

puzzlehoarder 8:28 AM  

I liked this puzzle from the get go. It has AGOUTI crossing BRONTOSAURUS in the first section so what's not to like? AGOUTI, like coati, has its own picture in my Webster's so it's second nature to me. Dinosaurs were one of my favorite subjects as a child. As more of a grown-up I've become very fond of rock clubs. BETH was easy because we just had AMY clued as one of the March sisters and I of course went over the xwordinfo lists for all of them.

Even with liking this puzzle I bogged down last night and had to finish this morning. Part of the problem was not bothering to read the puzzles' title. I had no idea where the themes we're going but then again I'm not interested in themes anyway. Mostly I had started late and being tired I kept falling asleep.

Restarting this morning (and first reading the title) this turned out to be an easy solve. I found out that ORDNANCE and ordinance are not spelled the same. Being over 60 and having done these puzzles for 30 years that's a little embarrassing. I've never claimed to know how to spell and since these puzzles are pretty much self correcting and the clues give you the answers I'm not likely to improve.

GILL I. 8:33 AM  

@Rex were you ever greeted with a "BonjourHI?" I love Montreal, but then again, I love the Canadians. Forget the croissants...go for the most delicious bagels this side of New York. Try a foie gras poutine and Moishes marinated Salmon. Food for thought?
I liked this puzzle. Maybe when you're awake at 2 am and have nothing better to do, it eases consonant pains.
Yesterday ZIN, today MALBECS. I wouldn't mind a Pinot discussion.
What made me smile? OVERSELLS VERSAILLES. Maybe if you try to explain the Hall of Mirrors. Louis XIV traipsed pass this hall walking every day from his private abode to the chapel. I'm guessing he prayed everyday for a little romp with Madame de Pompadour.
When I saw MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES my mind began to focus on what that buzzing infernal gnat could say. I'm thinking blood, of course. Would a mosquito say something like "this blood needs more salt?"
BUDDY COP sounds like an oxymoron.
The POPE twitters? We need him to twitter to God if he has an in with him. PLEEEEEASE help us with sick humans and sick laws that abide gun ownership in very wrong hands. SALUD is not the blessing we need at the moment.

Nancy 8:53 AM  


Will Nediger creates the kinds of puzzles I most love: full of wordplay and highly playful, brimming with wit and imagination, and always very original. He leaves plenty for the solver to uncover along the way in the themers, while surrounding them with easier fill that prevents the puzzle from ever becoming a slog. Aren't I fortunate to have him from time to time as my collaborator?!

What's amazing -- and this may sound disingenuous, but I swear it's true -- is that I never noticed Will's byline until I was almost completely finished with my solve. Now you may scoff, but anyone who knows me knows that I am the World's Most Unobservant Person. Also "CONSTANT CONSONANTS" is writ Very Large and "Will Nediger" is writ Very Small. I looked up to see his byline only when I wanted to know who was giving me so much solving pleasure.

I had already circled the clues to APT and FREE as being especially witty and wonderful non-themer clues so I wouldn't forget to mention them here. But I now see that Will Shortz has beaten me to the punch. Someone always beats me to the punch. But great job, Will N. and congrats!

kitshef 9:25 AM  

Back when we had billions of passenger pigeons in this country, hunters would tie a live or dead bird to a ‘stool’. Passenger pigeons being social birds, these would lure in other birds, which could then be captured or killed. The decoys were known as stool pigeons (though this is not the origin of the term).

The captured birds would be used for shooting practice. Once we wiped out the passenger pigeons, we started using clay facsimiles instead – clay pigeons.

In 1847 Benedict Revoil predicted that passenger pigeons would be extinct in the wild before the end of the century. He was wrong – the last wild one was shot in 1901 or 1902.

And re: Rex’s HOTLANTA bullet – a nickname is often what others call you, not what you call yourself.

And hand up for loving Videodrome.

Dan Rorabaugh 9:27 AM  

Hotlanta is, on the other hand, a terrific song by the Allman Brothers:

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

*she* was an actress and film director. (Women can be film directors)

Aketi 9:46 AM  

Apparently BRONTOSAURUS is back after being declared nonexistent and merely an Apatosaur with the wrong skull. So much for my intended rant about the clue for BRONTOSAURUS. Maybe Pluto will become a planet again someday, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Dorothy Biggs 9:54 AM  

Serious question, is BRONTOSAURUS, as an answer to the riddle, non-humor?

That is, is it akin to "cattle" being the answer to "What walks on four bovine legs in the morning, four bovine legs at noon and four bovine legs in the evening?

Also, the clue is missing the oxford comma...which drives me nuts.

Rex's comparison of the puzzle to Shoney's level pancakes is apt. One giant, "Meh...oh well, pancakes!" from me.

QuasiMojo 10:07 AM  

I concur, Rex. Welcome back. We missed your ACERB wit. I've visited Montreal many times and always found something new and delightful to marvel at.

As a consummate and constant consonant cruncher I thoroughly enjoyed today's puzzle even if it was a tad light in the challenge department.

@Maraschino, true dat! I was talking about musicals though. More expensive and less likely to be about poets. Lol. The biopic about Elizabeth Bishop was a bit de trop. Your point about artists serving two gods in order to make art and survive is still very APT. Although "artists" like Koons seem to worship only themselves.

She's pulling our tripods. There have been numerous female film directors. Especially at the dawn of film. They were pushed out during the heyday of the Studio system but continued to churn our cinema overseas and independently. The recent remake of The Beguiled was helmed by a woman. Many other examples. Too many to document here. France has a few!

Stupidly put in MONACO for the Renaissance place because I had MEETS first. I was thinking of all those expats in the Roaring 20s. A few of them were roaring drunk, too.

Escalator 10:27 AM  

You know it’s an easy puzzle when you fill in all the theme answers with crosses and don’t have to look at the clues.

GHarris 10:33 AM  

Okay this makes clear to me what my solving skill level is compared to others, particularly Rex. I had to put this down and return to it the next day when afresh look lends enhanced clarity. I finished without a single cheat. Then I copied all my answers into my iPad so I could get confirmation of success. That alone took me 9minutes and 29 seconds longer than it took Rex to solve the whole dang thing.

Georgia 10:40 AM  

That's hilarious if you meant it as a joke. Well done!

Teedmn 10:41 AM  

Easy, smooth solve. Well, you can't really call it smooth because I solved it randomly, as I usually do on Sundays in order to keep the 21 X 21 fresh, which involves a lot of hopping around. But I didn't flail for minutes at a time, also as usual, so smooth applies.

Even with the title explaining the theme, I didn't get it until I had a chance to study the entries. MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES highlighted it best, AS I SEE IT. I could have stared at SCARFACE SACRIFICES or BRONTOSAURUS BRAINTEASERS all day and not figured it out.

We've all seen paragraphs that have had the vowels removed and it is still readable but everything relies on context. You aren't likely to have a story where it would be unclear which you're talking about - a BRONTOSAURUS or BRAINTEASERS. So I like how Will Nediger combined the two.

Not a lot of fun cluing that makes Sundays bearable but lots of ORDNANCE (which feels like it's missing a vowel between the D and first N), SOBRIQUET, MALBECS, RAKISH, VITALS, which is nice.

I had fun, so thanks, WN!

Carola 10:41 AM  

It happened that I got the theme from the less exciting FRONTIER FURNITURE and dino riddles, leaving me the pleasure of guessing the best ones, MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES and OVERSELLS VERSAILLES (nice cross with ARAMIS).
Do-over: ACerb before ACRID.
Help from previous puzzles: NES.
Ran-out-of-space vowel trouble: SO[u]BRIQUET X ORD[i]NANCE.
Now, time to think about some pancakes.

Granny Smith 10:50 AM  

Elaine May: A New Leaf
Ann Bancroft: Fatso

Joe Dipinto 10:53 AM  

@John H 7:46 → {...the answer to that "riddle" is not necessarily "brontosaurus" unless you are trying to cram it into the theme of your puzzle.}

Well yes, that is the only point.

According to her Wikipedia entry, Lois Weber worked for a time at an outfit called the Rex Motion Picture Company. She later "became the first American female director to establish and run her own movie studio". I will definitely give the puzzle props for using that clue -- I'd never heard of her before. Apparently she only made one talkie, but she had a long career in silents. Very interesting to read about her.

Birchbark 11:16 AM  

BRAINTEASER -- An actor is preparing for a shot in an old silent film. The director stops everything and says, "I can't shoot this man, he's my son!" The actor is the director's son, but the director is not the actor's father. How is this possible? (Hint: The director is LOIS Weber.)

Shall I compare thee to a pancake? The chicken tacos I made for dinner last night were no better and no worse than today's puzzle -- delicious and applauded by right thinking people. It helps that tomatoes are now in their prime season. The APEX of a summer's day.

But now the big grasshoppers hop around in the morning sun too. So fall will return, just like it always does.

xyz 11:48 AM  

One take:

I find such Sundays tedious, bloated and not entertaining. They are hard to finish with their silly theme entries crossed by too clever Pop Culture or whatever.

davidm 12:17 PM  

I often agree with Rex, so I’m a little disappointed that he disliked this. I thought all the themers were good, and did not feel forced or labored as made-up phrases. The first I got was OVERSELLS VERSAILLES, followed quickly by BRONTOSAURUS BRAINTEASER. Unlike last week’s travesty, the title made perfect sense to me — it was literally telling you that the themers would consist of multiple alliterations with altered sounds (BRONT/BRAINT, TOS/TEASE, SAUR/SER, etc. MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES was simply delightful. How do you misquote a mosquito? Just read the clue! This puzzle wasn’t too hard, was a lot of fun to do, and gets a thumbs up from me.

sixtyni yogini 12:21 PM  

Yes, ”warm but not hot” ...”blandly sufficient”
Waited for it to kick into gear ⚙️
Sturdy like a pair of sensible shoes 👟. Perfect at the right time.

RooMonster 12:43 PM  

Hey All !
First themer I got was BRONTOSAURUS BRAINTEASER, so naturally when I looked at the consonants, BR together and NT together, I assumed that the rest of the themers would have the same two consonants right next to each other. "Confirmed" by the LL's in OVERSELLS VERSAILLES. So when I was trying to figure out S__R_A_CESACRIFICE, I put a C in front of the R. Brain racking ensued. Took a long time to straighten out that AREA. To add insult to injury, had OVERSELLS maRSAILLES, giving me LEONa for 71D, and even after finally seeing OCTAVE, the VA looked correct. So guess what? One-letter DNF. Damn.

Figured MALBECS would be wrong, as not a wine guy, so that type not in the forefront of the ole BRAIN. Speak of the area, what is a PREAMP?

West center was last section to go. Was tough to INFER ARMOIRE from the clue. ARIOSI another toughie. Did my tried and true online solving trick (doesn't really work on a printed out puz) of putting in answers that might possibly be correct, and seeing if i have pattern recognition of the crosses.

The themers were OK. Reading y'all gave me a better perspective that it isn't easy ti find words/phrases with the consonants in order. But, the title doesn't work as the themers. C_nst_nt C_ns_n_nts. Just sayin'.


Anonymous 12:56 PM  

OK...wasn't Scarface Alphone Capone? Who is this interloper?

Z 1:09 PM  

SCARFACE. You know, a mythical mass murderer.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

It's still very much an issue, that Olde Boys Club in LA:

Alysia 1:35 PM  

I like my pancakes only pale brown.

Unknown 1:56 PM  

Thank you, Will, for a cute and especially well-named puzzle. After years doing the puzzle, I finally figured out that to have a chance to enjoy it, one has to NOT be anal-retentive. So simple, yet so true. Right, Rex?

Mike 1:57 PM  

I love Montreal and I don’t know why I don’t visit more often. The puzzle? Meh.

Masked and Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Comin up with such long BRONTOSAURUS BRAINTEASERS [fave] themers looks kinda tough to do. Certainly a funny & different theme mcguffin approach, so IMAFAN.

This puppy had an almost SatPuz-sized average word length of 5.61. And yet the fillins are expertly-sanded smooth. Looks to m&e like Mr. Nediger is gettin the hang of this constructioneerin racket. Primo work. Enjoyable solvequest.

staff weeject pick: SUL. Better clue: {With just a little tan, it could be a Mideast VIP??}.

Thanx for the GREATGRIT, Mr. Nediger. Told yah … kinda tough to do these themers.

Masked & Anonymo15Us [Brontosaurus-sized U-count]


pabloinnh 3:34 PM  

Caught on at MISQUOTESMOSQUITOES, which was silly enough to make me smile as were (most of) the other ones. Rest of the puz, OK for a Sunday.

We used to live about an hour south of Montreal and would drive up for dinner. Sometimes went to an Expo game at the old Jarry Park, drank lots of Labatts, and drove home again (not recommended). The border was a simpler place. Also watched Hockey Night in Candada on Saturdays, in French, because the signal was stronger. One night I was watching with my Good Old Best Friend and after a while he said--This guy LaRondelle sure seems to be involved in a lot of the plays. I pointed out that "la rondelle" is "the puck". Oh, he said.

Also recommend the International Fireworks Festival in June/July if you like that sort of thing. Sacre bleu!!

My older son is an ITPRO, except he just got the fancy new title of "web architect". He is now allowed to help me with that which I don't understand about computers, which is almost everything, although that really isn't any change at all for him. I would say this is handy but it's more like indispensable.

Fun Sun. (liked the acrostic too), and finished just in time because here comes the family for Sunday dinner.

Margaret Du Mode 6:54 PM  

There have been plenty of women directors!

Nancy Walker Can't Stop the Music
Elaine May Ishtar
Madonna Filth and Wisdom
Maya Deren Death Wish VII

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle--mostly for the revealed answers: MISQUOTES MOSQUITOES tickled me, and OVERSELLS VERSAILLES was pretty clever. I didn't think the clues called out by WS as exceptional (in the print edition) were exceptional at all, but I liked the fill overall.

But now I have to wax pedantic because one of the clues in this puzzle also appears in other puzzles because someone somewhere at some time didn't do his homework, and now it's considered accurate. And it's not.

CLUE: Some Dior skirts. ANSWER: A-lines.

You could insert the name of any designer or just plain manufacturer, because everyone makes A-line skirts in the clue and be accurate. But the bigger problem is that the clue inventor no doubt created it because of misreading something about fashion, like the fact that Dior was the first to use the term. But while he introduced it, the term "A-line" didn't apply to skirts at all--it defined the entire look, from shoulder to (frequently pleated) skirt hem and relied much more on the jacket for the "A" effect than on the skirt. Actual A-line skirts--skirts that themselves created a...y'know...A line--all by themselves were most popular in the 1960s, so maybe the clue should be changed to "Some Mary Quant skirts."

You may now resume your normal note passing and chit-chat. :)

Unknown 10:59 PM  

Whew! Tough day, eh?
Time for some vacay, I’d say!
Bye now.

PatKS 6:18 AM  

Welcome back Rex. I was in Montreal, as an adult, about 20 years ago and found it gloomy. I liked Quebec more. Maybe it's time to revisit.

The puzzle was a typical boring Sunday. Still trying to figure out why FREE (100A) made Will Short smile.

I finished but didn't recognize
Lois Weber

I didn't like the clues for
Buddy Cop
Salud (it's a toast)

So very Meh
Meh: Most NYT Sunday crosswords

Salud, Amor, Dinero y Tiempo Para gozarlo (Health, Love, Money and the time to enjoy it)


Dice 9:59 AM  

Me too. Plus I like the butter unmelted.

Dice 10:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth 4:04 PM  

NES is Nintendo Entertainment Systems :)

Burma Shave 12:17 PM  


RAY was CAGIER than his 'ESCORT',
he'd ASKTO her, "PLEASE just ONE more?".
to INFER he'd PAY for the ENCORE.


spacecraft 12:31 PM  

Welcome back, Fearless One! Yes, Montreal is very cosmo--whatever. I spent a semester (well, part of one) at McGill U. Always wanted to go back...

Anyway, the puz. I sort of agree with His Worldliness this time. The theme seems to have some zip potential, but to me it is not realized here. Perhaps shorter ones, to fit in a 15x15? Texas taxes, Trump tramp, that kind of thing. I dunno. Another Sunday slog, for me. Not hard, really, just tedious. Learned FROLLO and MALBECS; always good to learn new stuff. Is it?

DOD is the beautiful actress LOUISE Sorel, who played Rayna in the STTOS episode "Requiem for Methuselah," one of the best of that series.

I'm going to give this a par, because the fill has some fairly interesting stuff, but you'll forgive me, Will and Will, if I don't say "ENCORE!"

rondo 1:09 PM  

Any anagram solving website could get you these answers, so that part's not so impressive. ASISEEIT the hard part is the fill to surround the nonsense phrases. That's what software is for. And this time it's the more interesting part.

As I recall it, CBGB originally stood for Country, BlueGrass, and Blues. Somehow it turned into a punk palace.

Unfamiliar with any SCARFACE other than Capone.

Susan Sarandon as LOUISE. Yeah baby.

Maybe it's just all of the funerals this summer; a couple months ago my sister-in-law, Mom last month, yesterday perhaps my coolest cousin. Can't work up much good to say about the puz today. Meh.

rainforest 2:55 PM  

Condolences to you @rondo. Tough times.

Well, I liked the puzzle. The themers, while not knee-slappingly uproarious, were perfectly acceptable, clever and somewhat humourous. I thought the fill was pretty good with a few nifty clues thrown in. Certainly nothing to carp about.

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

The Lady in Waiting is Missing in Action.

Not a bad Sunday puzzle IMO. Easy for some, but medium challenging for me. Liked it more than Rex at least.

Rick J 1:49 PM  

As a new visitor to the blog (but not a new solver, I guess), I'm astounded at the number and sometimes the legnth and "depth" of the comments. I didn't actually read (didn't have time) all the comments on this puzzle, but at least scanned through them and they're actually quite interesting and funny. Makes me wonder about the population who comments on blogs like this. Oops... just realized that I'm one of them. Somewhat disconcerting...

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