Large decorative letter at start of chapter / SUN 9-22-19 / Hairstyling icon Vidal / Athlete's knee injury, familiarly / 2010s dance move involving dipping head to elbow / Feature of many Cape Cod house / Former leader of Sinaloa drug cartel / Method for identifying mystery callers / Lopes of R&B's TLC

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Medium (probably easy, but I've had a couple ... (drinks, I mean drinks))

THEME: "On the Up and Up" — themers all contain a word followed by "up"; instead of "up"'s being in the grid, the word that precedes "up" actually goes up, i.e. vertically (in circled squares)

Theme answers:
  • (KEEP) [UP] APPEARANCES (25A: Maintain the impression of well-being)
  • KISS AND (MAKE) [UP] (39A: Reconciled, as a couple)
  • (SIT) [UP] BENCH (41A: Ab-targeting exercise equipment)
  • REVERSE PHONE (LOOK) [UP] (67A: Method for identifying mystery callers)
  • (PIN) [UP] GIRLS (91A: Some cheesecake photos)
  • HIGH-SPEED (DIAL) [UP] (95A: Accelerated alternative to broadband)
  • (STEP)-[UP] TRANSFORMER (108A: Voltage-increasing eelctrical device)
Word of the Day: DORMER (97D: Feature of many a Cape Cod house) —
dormer is a roofed structure, often containing a window, that projects vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof. A dormer window is a form of roof window.
Dormers are commonly used to increase the usable space in a loft and to create window openings in a roof plane.[2] The term "dormer" is commonly used to refer to a "dormer window" although a dormer does not necessarily contain a window. A dormer is often one of the primary elements of a loft conversion. As a prominent element of many buildings, different types of dormer have evolved to complement different styles of architecture. When the structure appears on the spires of churches and cathedrals, it is usually referred to as a lucarne.
• • •

Really thought I was killing this one, but I've been drinking (lightly, but still), and so ... my sense of time, and my own prowess, were both a bit off. My time was average. Also, this puzzle was average. I've seen gimmicks like this many times before. This one was no better and no worse than all of those. The title was both unnecessarily helpful (I got theme easily, without even noticing the title) and misleading (there's just ... the one "up" per themer, so having "up and up" in your title is very dumb). I've heard of a reverse phone book, or something like it, but the exact phrase REVERSE PHONE LOOK-UP feels awkward to me. Not as awkward, however, as STEP-UP TRANSFORMER. Actually, that one's not so much awkward as "???????" LOL at the idea that I am familiar with all the types of "transformers" there are in the world. I've never even seen the movie "Transformers," how in the world am I supposed to know what a STEP-UP TRANSFORMER is. Absurd, that one. I have used a SIT-UP BENCH at the gym, and yet I still don't like it as an answer. The others all feel very much in the language. Just fine. Not exciting, but adequate. Fitting. Apt. This puzzle feels like an inoffensive placeholder. Nothing much to recommend it, but nothing much to make you throw your computer across the room either.

Question-mark clues once again are making me want to heave them bodily from the room. 31D: A quarter to four? (ONE). ONE is a quarter *of* four. A quarter *to* four (as in, the relationship of 1/4 to 4) is ONE SIXTEENTH. I like KERI as the actress on the amazing show "The Americans," far far less as .... some kind of lotion (although I can hear the ads: "KERI is so very ..."):

POW does not "come with a sock" unless you are illustrating comic books. I had TOE here. EWASTE remains the worst, no matter how valid it is. LISA Lopes clue is missing the *crucial* "Left Eye" part (38A: Lopes of R&B's TLC). She's LISA "Left Eye" Lopes, dang it. Leaving that out feels blasphemous. TORNMCL is some "look at my wordlist" fill. Of course you can tear your MCL, just as you can tear a bunch of things, but iconically (i.e. crossworthily) you tear your ACL. I thought a zebu had a distinctive HORN (95D: Distinctive part of a zebu) (HUMP). I thought an [Act of self-aggrandizement] was EGOTISM. I took Latin for a couple years and still thought SANCTI was too Latin-y (for a crossword) (unless it appears in the phrase "... et spiritus SANCTI" and even then, I dunno. The clue on YASMINE was precisely zero help (16D: Woman's name that's one letter off from a fragrant flower). I doubt that many people have heard of the yasbine flower. Unfair!* OK, I'm done with this. See you tomorrow.

Oh, and happy birthday to my brilliant and beautiful daughter, who is nineteen today and does not read my blog, god bless her
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    *I'm kidding, there's no such flower as the yasbine. The flower in question is obviously the gasmine**

    **Still kidding, please don't send me explanatory emails

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Joaquin 12:12 AM  

    Hey, fellow xword solvers. What do you say we stage an intervention and get Rex off the sauce. He seems to be blaming alcohol for a lot of his blog "work" issues lately.

    Zygotic 12:25 AM  

    Gray cells instead of circles in the magazine, which is so much better aesthetically. Pretty much what Rex said on the themers. Got it at EDAM, and the rest all came fairly easily, STEP UP TRANSFORMERS and REVERSE PHONE LOOK UP not withstanding. REVERSE PHONEbook or REVERSE LOOK UP I have heard of, this mashup not so much. The fill brought one smile, TROLL E-WASTE. Ain’t that the truth.

    @albatross shell late yesterday - My excuse is that it made perfect sense to me when I wrote it.

    puzzlehoarder 12:26 AM  

    I didn't get the theme when I first ran into it at 25A but I did get it at 39A. After that the biggest struggle was just staying awake so I could finish this thing. I don't much care for gimicks. We got PISH again and much too soon. After solving I looked up this LISA Lopes. Sad.

    Jonathan Tomer 12:45 AM  

    REVERSE PHONE LOOKUP is how that service is advertised on the internet these days, for the kidz I guess. A STEP-UP TRANSFORMER is a perfectly legitimate piece of electrical equipment, but then I'd never heard of the RAMS and had to get it from crosses so there you go.

    I also had EGOTism, and was going to complain about the bad cluing until I discovered I was wrong. Ha.

    Jisvan 12:54 AM  

    Fastest Sunday ever for me, sauce-less in Santa Cruz. Happy Fall to all!

    Joe Dipinto 1:20 AM  

    No, see, it works like this. You have four Things – let's call them Thing A, Thing H, Thing Q and Thing W. Any *one* of those Things is a quarter in relation to all four of the Things. A quarter, to Four. Is One. You're welcome.

    I liked this idea a lot, but also feel the theme answers ended up being not the most scintillating. It's doubtful you could come up with many more of these, though, if any -- let alone ones that really pop. The best are KISSED AND MADE UP and KEEP UP APPEARANCES. The others are serviceable, but lack sizzle. They were still fun to figure out, though.

    And the rest of the grid had interesting things in it. BASE TAN and DORMER were new to me – nice to learn those. RIZZO, BEE STING, WES ANDERSON (though I don't care for his films), DROP CAP – all good stuff. Surprised Rex didn't mention the tame cluing on ME TOO.

    This is my favorite song ever:

    "A Walk In The Black Forest" by Horst Jankowski

    Anonymous 1:48 AM  

    If you are from Europe and want to use a 220 volt device in the US, you need a step-up transformer. Most travel guidebooks to the US will mention this device. No more obscure than hundreds of other words in the Times crossword.

    I've never heard of DROPCAPs or ANCHOS but don't consider them unacceptable answers.

    I do think HIGH SPEED DIALUP is pretty much dead, though. Wowee, 19.2 kilobits per second! Or 56 if you had a special line, maybe.

    chefwen 2:31 AM  

    I was so hoping Rex would like this one because I loved it. Why do I keep doing that, I know it’s not going to happen.

    I also caught on at 25A which made me smile. I watched the British sitcom Keeping up Appearances with Hyacinth Bucket “Bouquet, if you please”. Loved all those British shows.

    Embarrassing for a cook, but I confused my four letter pasta and had ziti before ORZO, puzzle partner caught my mistake with PARROT. Color me red.

    Fun puzzle, Tracy Gray. Thank you.

    George NYC 2:53 AM  

    A refreshing change from the tortured wacky-pun Sunday themes. The "gimmick" actually added to the fun of the solve, at least for me. And it doesn't try too hard to impress. The fill was short on crosswordese and no really obscure entries (I am familiar with stepup transformers; sit-uo bench not so much). Nicely done, I say. PS: I'm surprised Rex doesn't "hit the sauce" more often.

    Anonymous 3:02 AM  

    I don't understand Rex's beef with STEP-UP TRANSFORMERS. Other than them being a gap in his knowledge. Shock. As many types of transformers as there are, knowing that they can be either STEP-UP, step-down or isolating is - um - the most basic understanding of the concept. This is no different than zebus having HUMPS. Just a gap... Nothing wrong with the puzzle.

    Solverinserbia 4:17 AM  

    I had a few errors that I managed to hunt down and went golden in 41:27. I agree it was an average puzzle. Nothing special, no complaints.

    Teedmn 6:01 AM  

    Well, I can't blame jet lag for this DNF. Early on in my solve, I threw in THO as the bardic contraction (as if Shakespeare ever wrote that horrible shorthand, head-SWAT). As the theme revealed itself, I looked at OHT going up and wondered what that would turn out to be. Turns out, wrong!

    I thought this was cute as only Tracy Gray can make them. The theme held together well and there were lots of nice extras such as BEER GARDEN and BEE STINGS and PRESS PASSES.

    Thanks, Tracy, great Sunday puzzle!

    Lewis 6:18 AM  

    Much credit to Tracy for finding as many theme answer as she did. The "up" word has to be a semordnilap, to begin with, AND it has to seamlessly fit in a phrase. I thought, "Hey, these theme answers shouldn't be too hard to come up with." And then I struggled.

    On top of that, the vague clueing had me ping-ponging all over the grid, visiting and revisiting areas, chipping in letters scattershot until comlpletion. I felt like the Carom King, which reminds me of Carol King, and now my heart is at peace.

    A catchy and quirky creation, Tracy. Thank you so much for this!

    mmorgan 7:31 AM  

    I have a TORN aCL and I use REVERSE PHONE LOOKUP all the time. Mostly to no avail.

    OffTheGrid 8:41 AM  

    This was an enjoyable struggle. I don't read titles and on this one the shaded squares didn't quite enter my consciousness, for which I'm grateful. (I do not like shades, circles, or ?'s.) I got the theme fairly early with KISSEDANDMADE(UP) and that helped with solving. The fill is what I found difficult.

    @Rex, Nobody cares if you have a drink(s) or not. Mentioning it has become tiresome. I do want to say though, that I love your write-ups.

    kitshef 8:46 AM  

    My biggest nit about this puzzle is “It’s me” as a reply to “Who’s there?” Dammmit, just tell me your name.

    I guess if that’s my biggest nit, it can’t have been too bad. Hard to say as it went by so fast. DAB/RCA/DROPCAP was probably the hardest thing in here, and it’s at 1A/1D/2D. That’s not good.

    I remember thinking the theme was neat at first, then being tired of it by the end. Needed some variety (down, left, north, etc.).

    Suzie Q 8:49 AM  

    This was a pleasant Sunday stroll esp. after yesterday's struggle. Rex can be pretty funny when he's had a couple and isn't worried about his time.

    Zygotic 9:10 AM  

    MCL is definitely third to ACL and meniscus injuries, but still ahead of the PCL. An actual expert may correct me, but meniscus are usually injured through wear, the ACL by lateral movement, and the MCL through direct contact. I can’t recall ever hearing of a torn PCL. Any athlete will suffer meniscus injuries, people who play sports with lots of change of direction (tennis and basketball and football, for example) get ACL injuries, but only people who play contact sports like football and rugby are likely to injure the MCL. Of course, anyone who walks or runs can injure any of them.

    I guess it is just me, but I don’t read, “LOL at the idea that I am familiar with all the types of "transformers" there are in the world...” as a criticism of the puzzle. The whole paragraph is about how Rex felt like he was crushing the puzzle but wasn’t. The whole riff is further evidence of how that happened. Add the movie comment and it seems to me that the criticism is at least partly directed at himself.

    @Jonathon Tormer - Huh, I pretty much stopped trying to use them once the marketing started. Back in the early days of the internet the reverse white pages were free and still pretty useful (probably because tracking landline numbers is easier than cellular numbers). Your comment makes me wonder if the modern 20-something knows what a phonebook is.

    For those wondering, semordnilap (that @Lewis used so casually) is similar to a palindrome, except the reversed spelling is a different word. “Madam I’m Adam” is a palindrome. KEEP/PEEK are semordnilaps.

    GILL I. 9:20 AM  

    I rather enjoyed this. I just wish I hadn't figured out the theme so quickly. I also wish ON THE UP AND UP wasn't so there. It gave it away. Saw it right off the git go at KEEP UP APPEARANCES. Still, it made me smile.
    The themes didn't seem out of place; everything is in the vocab, you know. Wasn't it LMS who coined semordnilaps?
    I still can't figure out how you dip your head to your elbow. Why would you do that?

    three of clubs 9:46 AM  

    Every time I see a rapper referenced in the puzzle, I find myself primed for a name which looks like a typo. Not a problem today, but a trigger warning would be nice. Just alleviate my anxiety a bit until I get everything filled in.

    Carola 9:51 AM  

    SUSSED OUT makes a nice central answer for a themed puzzle. Like others, I did so with 25A and enjoyed sussing out the rest. Lots of pleasure in the long Downs, too, especially those falling CATARACTS.

    @Mods, Rex might want to correct the tense in his second theme bullet.

    Wine Diver 10:02 AM  

    How is any kind of dial-up accelerated relative to broadband?

    Anonymous 10:11 AM  

    Rex blames his ignorance of any STEM term (this time, step-up transformer) on the puzzle creator or editor. Again.

    Can Man Joe 10:16 AM  

    @Z (Rex) 9:10 AM

    I guess it is just me, but I don’t read, “LOL at the idea that I am familiar with all the types of "transformers" there are in the world...” as a criticism of the puzzle.

    Yes, it is just you. Rex (you) clearly criticized the puzzle, calling the transformer clue both “awkward” and “absurd.”

    Nancy 10:16 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    RooMonster 10:19 AM  

    Hey All !
    Very nice SunPuz. Last themer for me was KOOL. Really wanted BAND, then RITE, but neither one was anything semordilap-y. KOOL is cool! *Oh, Yah!*

    Figured it out after trying to get uPappearances in 25A, with that sneaky P to make it look like the U was supposed to be first. But then got KISSED AND MADE, and said Aha, the UP is the word going UP. Sometimes I'm a little SLOES.

    Disappointing for @M&A, though, as the U's that should be here, are not. Good GRIEF!

    Liked the fill, nothing really drecky about it. Only one writeover, __DOI-METOO, thinking AS or SO. Plus got puz 100%! Much easier than YesterPuz.


    oopsydeb 10:20 AM  

    I just typed the word reverse into the google and reverse phone lookup was the third option. So yeah, REVERSE PHONE LOOKUP is a thing. STEP-UP TRANSFORMER is also a thing that, even if you didn't know it when you got to the clue, was pretty damn inferable if you had already figured out the theme.

    I did not see the puzzle title, and I'm glad. It didn't take me long to figure out the theme, but at least I got to figure it out.

    A fine if not particularly clever Sunday.

    Birchbark 10:20 AM  

    TORN MCL -- What an unsung watershed year was circa 1150. Troubadour music became organized in Southern France, Arabs in Spain manufactured paper, Paris University was founded, that first Welsh manuscript "The Black Book of Carmarthen" appeared, and of course Alauddin Husain, Sultan of Ghor, destroyed the empire of Ghazni. (Source: "The Timetables of History, 3d rev'd ed.). Tear out the old, ring in the new.

    @Teedmn (6:01) -- I searched a couple of online Shakespeare databases and lo, there's no "'tho" there. Never knew that until now.

    @Carola, I wonder what the word is for a dropped DROP CAP, or a DROP CAP dropper, for that matter.

    Also, the YASMINE clue helped a great deal. I kid you not.

    Anonymous 10:25 AM  

    well... most TRANSFORMERs are used as STEP-down devices, i.e. trading voltage for current. that 110 volt line in your house is ~14K on the top three wires on the street poles (or under it in big cities). those boxes on the poles are the transformers that step the voltage down, and get back the necessary current to run your blender and tanning bed.

    SBpianist 10:41 AM  

    I’ve noticed that too. It’s part of his crusty charm.

    davidm 10:45 AM  

    This UPPER was a DOWNER for me.

    First, it was way too easy for a Sunday. It felt like a Monday, only on an expanded grid. I had it finished before I finished my only cup of coffee.

    Second, the theme, or gimmick as I prefer it, was blindingly obvious from the get go. Got DROP CAP right off, followed quickly by PEEK, read the clue for 25 across, and immediately got KEEP [UP] APPEARANCES. Ho-hum.

    The basic concept is OK, but if you’re going to do this, give me either wacky answers, obscure misdirection clues, or both. But the answers were bland, and the cluing obvious. After I got EDAM, I already knew that it was MADE [UP], so I looked at the clue for 39 Across and wrote in KISSED AND. I mean, off the clue, what the heck else could the answer be? This was not fun.

    Anonymous 11:00 AM  

    I'm assuming Rex's Yasmine/Yasbine comment was either a typo or a joke.

    Pamela 11:17 AM  

    This one was easy for me, which was nice for a change. I didn’t take up and up as redundant- one is because the shaded word goes up, and the other is an added word. Seemed obvious once I got the gimmick. A very pleasant Sunday solve on a lazy Saturday. Wish I could do it again today.

    WarrenB 11:17 AM  

    When Rex doesn’t know something, its a huge disaster. A step-up transformer is a real thing and not some rare, obscure word just to annoy him. Remember the Agena rocket blow-up? I know nothing about rappers but I accept them as legit crossword answers.

    jae 11:21 AM  

    Easy-medium. Cute, liked it. @Z - Did i miss the part where you pointed out that semordnilap is palindromes spelled backwards?

    Unknown 11:27 AM  

    I always finish Sunday puzzle eventually even if it means putting it down for later....this one I could have finished but it was so annoying I just junked

    Blue Stater 11:36 AM  

    Another waste of a Sunday, full of mistakes (REROSE? Please.) and stretchers. Is there a WS early retirement fund? I'd contribute to it....

    Speedweeder 11:37 AM  

    @Z 9:10 - I read Rex's comments about transformers and reverse phone lookup again, and I think he definitely intended them as criticism of the puzzle, for being awkwardly phrased, obscure, or not "very much in the language".

    Rex and many of the commenters here often make the assumption that if they aren't familiar with something, it must be obscure, and therefore not crossword-worthy.

    I think you're giving Rex too much credit for poking fun at himself. I haven't noticed that that's something here does.

    Photomatte 11:45 AM  

    Once again, the NYT Crossword Puzzle has an incorrect answer: 61A is clued as Roulette Choice and the answer is "Evens." As anyone who's ever played Roulette knows, there is no option for Evens. There's an option for Even (or Odd), but using the plural is just wrong. That'd be like saying there's an option for Blacks or Reds, when everyone knows it's either Black or Red. It's just a minor thing, I know, but the answer is completely wrong in the context in which it's clued and this is supposed to be the country's premiere puzzle.
    This is similar to another casino clue I've seen recently, in which the error was the reverse of today's error. I can't remember the exact wording of the clue but the answer was "crap," and it was referring to a roll of the dice on the craps table. Anyone who's ever played the game knows the term is always craps (it's the freaking name of the game!). The word is always pluralized, just as the correct answer for today's mistake is always singular. C'mon, NYT...

    Newboy 11:45 AM  

    ME TOO wanting to KEEP (up) APPEARANCES with a cute quip or three. Maybe IT’S (just) ME, but I say PISH to Sunday slogs. Having SIT (up) BENCH for the second entry in light of the title made searching for the other theme entries about the only engagement for this one. Thanks for the effort Tracy, but review yesterday’s clueing for how such zany possibilities make mundane answers 🎶.

    Zygotic 11:48 AM  

    @jae - I thought I was being a little excessively pedantic already, but having to explain PPP every time reminds me that there are always new readers so I was just hoping to avoid 11 questions about the term. I assumed the regulars would just skip my pedantry.

    @Birchbark - Har! Didn’t even notice that it could have been a RRN. Nicely done.

    @Can Man Joe - Let me get this straight: I’m really Rex who came here to correct a misinterpretation of what I wrote but that correction is incorrect because I/Rex really meant what you say I/Rex meant, not what I (actually Rex) says I/Rex meant. Your logic is impeccable. Oh Oh, and @Pete and @michiganman are really Rex, too, since I’m Rex and they’re really me. Does it ever get crowded in there or does the tin foil help?

    stwidgie 11:52 AM  


    Nancy 12:01 PM  

    Once I had the theme, I had it, and filling in the puzzle became anticlimactic and something of a chore. And yet it must have seemed like a nifty idea in the conception and execution. This, I'm convinced, is the hardest part of coming up with a theme idea: keeping it interesting and surprising for the solver throughout the entire solve. Which is even harder to do on a Sunday when the solving process takes so much longer.

    How could this theme have been kept consistently surprising? Well, it might have helped if not every theme answer involved the word "Up". Unfortunately, there aren't that many synonyms for "Up". You could have "Rise", "Ascent", "Mount" or "Climb". But maybe an "Up and Down" theme which gives you many more options and more grid variety? At any rate, this strikes me as a seemingly inspired idea for a puzzle which, alas, turned out not to be as inspired as it initially seemed.

    jordan.wright 12:03 PM  

    Why all the grumbling? Easy peasy. Even though at the start, I had no earthly idea the “up” theme completed the clues,

    Zygotic 12:18 PM  

    @Speedweeder - Fair, but what do you make of the “to me” part of “feels awkward to me” and the “I” in “the idea that I am familiar.”? Again, to me that first paragraph is more about the solve than the puzzle. But your interpretation is fair.

    Okay - I’m over the daily limit. Later.

    RooMonster 12:50 PM  

    @Gill I
    I don't think @LMS coined that term. I believe it's been around for quite a while. She may have been the first one here to say it.

    @Anonymous 11:00
    Yes, he was joking. Read his ** post script.

    RooMonster Since Z Is Over His Limit Answer Dude 😋😂

    Joseph M 12:54 PM  

    HIGH SPEED DIAL UP? What year is this? EWASTE? PISH? REROSE? What language is this?

    Thought this was an okay puzzle with an okay theme and okay fill. So, okay, it was okay. Learned some new terms:

    K APPEARANCES - Special sightings of the English alphabet’s 11th letter in words like knickknack and kickback.

    HIGH SPEED D - Quick-acting vitamin essential for the absorption of calcium

    KISSED AND M - 1996 Canadian thriller starring Molly Parker and 1931 German thriller starring Peter Lorre

    S TRANSFORMER - Anything that causes lisping

    P GIRLS - Russian prostitutes in a secret Trump video.

    Michiganman 1:03 PM  

    That's OK. I still have 2 more. wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.

    Anonymous 1:14 PM  

    Been doing this puz for more than 4 decades and there is always an answer that is new to me, but *I* see it as "knowledge I don't have" rather than as a problem with the constructor/ion.

    Liked POW crossing SWAT, and, yes, it's comic book style.

    Thought this was super easy but not unenjoyable; filled straight down from top in no time.


    Nampa Bob 1:20 PM  

    Nice enough puzzle.
    Thiiiiiiiiis close to “best” time, but still pleasant enough time, completing it.

    Anonymous 1:22 PM  

    Excessively pedantic or just pedantic ?

    Nancy 1:23 PM  

    @Joseph M (12:54) -- Fabulous!!! Loved all of them. Much more fun than the puzzle, actually.

    Anonymous 1:26 PM  

    Dear NYT,
    Why aren't you aware that rex has seen this prototype before? Can't you keep him entertained?

    Speedweeder 1:37 PM  

    @Z 12:18 - When Rex says "feels awkward to me", he's explaining why the answer is not a good one. It's similar to saying it "doesn't ring true", or doesn't sound like something in common usage.

    As for the transformer answer, he clearly states that it is absurd. Essentially he says "How am I supposed to know that? Ridiculous!".

    I interpret these comments as relatively mild (for him) criticism of the two themers that he feels are not apt, fitting, or adequate.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    QuasiMojo 1:48 PM  

    Throwing in BURSAR for the person handling money (I was thinking of back when I had to pay my tuition!) screwed me up timewise. And my pesto happens to be the BESTO so I couldn't see the light. Tell me why people go apoplectic over seeing LEE in a puzzle but don't even blink when El Chapo appears? I'm against censorship here but if you're going to ask for it at least be consistent. I enjoyed this puzzle. It made me think a bit more than usual. Always a plus. @Joe, thanks for the comment yesterday. I was late to reading it.

    What? 1:57 PM  

    Pretty easy and amusingly clever. My only complaint -REROSE. Is that a word? If so, it shouldn’t be.

    Wm. C. 2:21 PM  

    "ReversePhoneLookUp" reminds me of an event back in my fraternity days. Some local high school girls thought it funny to make teasing phone calls to the frat house, not identifying who they were, or where they were calling from, though we could see their phone number on the phone.

    The local phone book had a few hundred pages with about a hundred listings per page, tens of thousands of phone numbers.

    So one of the guys tore a book into about 50 sections, and handed them out to 50 of us at the dining room tables.

    Sure enough, after a while one of the guys found the number.

    At the next call from the girl, our guy said: "hello, Miss [Smith], how are things down there on [Main] Street?"

    Shocked the heck out of her. ;-)

    Jmorgie 2:49 PM  

    Yasmine is a perfectly good flower name -- its your parochial view that insists that Jasmine has to be the right form.

    and step=up transformers are well known. when i moved to europe i needed a couple of these for my 120v appliances. transformer is a basic electrical component

    Anonymous 2:50 PM  

    Easy except for “reverse phone look up.” Got it, but who calls it that ...?

    Anonymous 2:53 PM  

    Rex is really crusty today. I will agree that I also did not need the title to get the theme.

    B 3:21 PM  

    Fastest finish ever. Finally! Cheesecake pinup was new to me. I guess that was a thing at some point before my birth.

    Thank you @Joseph M for your meta-theme add-on. Loved it!

    Newport Carl 3:21 PM  

    West Coast sez:
    Get your drink on Rex. We're here for the fun. I liked the familiar concept with some word goodies like RIZZO, DROPCAP, and our old friend, DURAN DURAN. That reminds me of Jane Fonda who I see is in the news again. Was that from Barbarella?
    Y'all just talked me into some Baileys for me coffee. Cheers!

    Joe in Newfoundland 3:27 PM  

    That devil drink "increases the desire but it takes away the performance."

    Joseph M 3:29 PM  

    Thanks, @ Nancy. Couldn't come up with one I liked for S BENCH or REVERSE PHONE L, though I thought the latter might have something to do with the Chicago railway system. Any thoughts?

    jberg 3:36 PM  

    Hi @chefwen, me too for being reminded of Hyacinth. Made the whole puzzle more fun. But I’m not up on current dance moves, and thought the one described was a DAp.

    However— I always thought ANCHOS were the fresh peppers that turned into poblanos when dried. Have I got it backwards?

    Anonymous 4:17 PM  

    An American in Europe needs a step-down transformer to convert the 220 coming out of the wall into the 110 their appliance wants.

    Europeans visiting the US need a step-up transformer.

    oopsydeb 5:00 PM  

    @Joseph M (12:54) re HIGH SPEED DIAL UP and your "what year is this?" question. The year is 2019, and a lot of people still do not have access to anything better than high speed dial up. Which is why there are still several companies that provide the service.

    Anonymous 5:26 PM  

    people wanting to use Red Blooded American devices in Socialist Hell Europe use (beyond plug gizmos) a STEPdown transformer:
    "A converter changes the voltage from American 110V to European 220V and is not needed for phones, computers and tablets."

    also, Europe runs on 50 Hz (cycles as Yanks prefer) mostly, while Red Blooded America runs on 60 cycles. that mostly matters to timed motors, like plug-in clocks.

    xyz 5:56 PM  


    BobL 6:34 PM  

    I had a drink - can't even comment

    ghostoflectricity 6:42 PM  

    Congratulations, Tracy Gray!!! 4 f***ing naticks in the NW-most corner of puzzle alone! What a load of BS! I hope she's proud of her smug, smarter-than-thou little self. What a jerk.

    ghostoflectricity 6:50 PM  

    "Cataract": I have heard of that as a "waterfall" in passing maybe two or three times in my 60+ years. "Base tan": I do not frequent spas and do not suntan, either the natural or the spa way; I have never heard that term.

    "Drop cap" thanks for cluing me in on something I never thought of, a special name for the decorative letter at chapter heads. Thanks for nothing. I've read thousands of books in my life and never knew that had a special name. Nor do I care.

    "Dab"- sometimes "dap" thanks for crossing these other stupid clues with another obscure trendy word.

    And that's just the far NW corner of this obnoxious despicable puzzle. UGH. Worst, most self-satisfiedly obscure puzzle EVER.

    kitshef 6:53 PM  

    I've always believed that semordnilap, being the reverse of the plural word 'palindromes', should be the plural. The singular should be emordnilap. Saying "semordnilaps" is like saying "womens" as the plural of "women".

    mmorgan 7:58 PM  

    @Z said “I’m really Rex who came here to correct a misinterpretation of what I wrote but that correction is incorrect because I/Rex really meant what you say I/Rex meant, not what I (actually Rex) says I/Rex meant. Your logic is impeccable. Oh Oh, and @Pete and @michiganman are really Rex, too, since I’m Rex and they’re really me.”

    Hey! Cmon, man,,, I wanna be Rex not be Rex too! Let us all play!

    My TORN aCL (thanks, skiing) doesn’t usually bother me, but every now and then...

    Anonymous 8:52 PM  

    @ghost 6:50 - Knowledge and solving skills make it less obscure and more fun.

    Joe Welling 9:48 PM  

    OFL said:
    "POW does not 'come with a sock unless you are illustrating comic books."

    That's obviously what the clue meant. So.... what's wrong with that?

    Otto 10:19 PM  

    STEP UP TRANSFORMER was so obvious that I got it from the theme alone, with no crosses. Once you got the theme, you got this puzzle nailed.

    turkeyhundt 1:05 AM  

    ha. step-up transformer is pretty common, no?

    PatKS 2:00 AM  

    Fastest Sunday finish ever and pretty boring. Never heard of KOA, MCL, Drop Cap or Step Transformers. Pow was lame. Rerose was horrible. Even (s) is incorrect.
    Have a nice week Rex.

    Anonymous 9:00 AM  

    Rex doesn’t know what a step up transformer is? That’s on Rex, not the constructor.

    OkiPaul 10:07 PM  

    In Scotland, "pish" is a pretty crude word. I wouldn't use it in front of my parents. Funny to see it here.

    Gtyler3 7:15 AM  

    I thought of "JASMINE" as the woman's name in 16D. You are right who has heard of Yasbine.

    Gtyler3 7:20 AM  

    For 16D I thought of "JASMINE" who has heard of Yasbine?

    Unknown 11:41 AM  

    Hey all.
    First time commenter here. (Be gentle... Ha ha)

    Notes to Rex - I don't remember who she was either but, Yasmine Bleeth? (Yasmine/Jasmine) Dunno why, but I got it right away.

    2 Step up transformer. Everyone who uses a microwave oven uses a step up transformer. It increases the juice from the wall socket to heat your food/drink. (Has *0* to do with the movie - ask any electrician.)
    Terry P. S/E Michigan

    Unknown 11:48 AM  

    There's a step up transformer in every microwave oven.

    Something to think about every time you nuke some food or a drink...

    (Now. Heh heh)

    Burma Shave 1:48 PM  


    Have a LOOK AND take a PEEK,
    PINUPGIRLS have it MADE.
    STEPUP for the ELITE you seek,
    get KISSED AND then get LAID.


    rondo 2:46 PM  

    What's UP DR.EVIL? Any puz with a RON in it can't be all bad because, well . . . ITSME! Actually this puz seemed not bad at all. Got it, not surprisingly, at PIN(UP)GIRLS, which also has a NIP, to boot. Hard to tell if that's an EmDASH or ENDASH sitting there all by itself.

    I saw DURAN DURAN 10' from the stage in a club holding no more than 1000 c. 2012.

    IGGY shoulda been clued as "Rocker Pop", IMHO. When given choices in my yeah baby selection, I almost always defer to musicians. Since rap is not my idea of music, the late LISA 'Left Eye' Lopes gets the nod today. Much more success with R&B / Soul after moving away from hip-hop. IGGY Azalea has zero talent. The 118 square coulda been an L for a LINEAL/LIZZO cross. LIZZO has become WILDly popular after spending a few years in the Twin Cities; besides rapping she can holler-sing, if that's your thing. Slightly more talented than IGGY Azalea, faint praise and never a yeah baby. But LOOK for LIZZO in future puzzles. Guaranteed.

    I actually kinda enjoyed this puz.

    rainforest 4:22 PM  

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle, especially for a Sunday. Certainly no sloggish feeling at all.

    I was a little confused at first with the first two themers, but picked it up at KISSED AND MADE(up). There seemed to be some discussion about a STEP UP TRANSFORMER and REVERSE PHONE LOOK-UP, both bona fide terms in my book.

    There were many good-to-great answers here as well as fine cluing.

    spacecraft 8:22 PM  

    Very late today; was at Eagles bar rooting my team to victory over the hapless Jets. I liked the theme, thought it was clever. There may have been a couple too many of them, as shown up by various fill woes. I am faintly amused that OFC does not know anything about STEPUPTRANSFORMERS. I'm certainly no electrician and I've heard of them. IGGY Azalea takes a curtain call for DOD. The big Eagle win puts me in a good mood: birdie.

    Unknown 11:26 PM  

    AYFKM? You actually dredge through this shite sober? You're a better man than I am. Makes me want to join AA.

    Unknown 11:27 PM  

    Your reply had absolutely nothing to do with the comment. Stop clogging up this blog.

    Unknown 11:32 PM  

    The aswer was actually TORN MCL.

    Unknown 12:04 AM  

    I am totally with you. DROPCAP crossing DAB right out of the box? EWASTE? Really? Lisa LOPES, CREDO, POW, TORN MCL (WTF, not ACL?), ENDASH, STEP UP TRANSFORMER, SANCTI, REROSE, RON, MISFED? STANDS are roadside produce sites, not sellers. When is the last time a Tiki Hut sold you a box of pineapples? And most people have heard of WES ANDERSON, but not the Isle of Dogs. How much more accomodating do we need to be to gat Will to pull his hesd out of his ass??? I'm just askin'.

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