2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who founded the Green Belt movement / SUN 10-13-19 / Half-frozen Italian dessert / Swedish name akin to Lawrence / One honored March 8 per a 1977 United Nations resolution / Airport named for two Washington cities / Arthropod appendages

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (the "Challenging" part due almost entirely to 15-Down)

THEME: "Lines of Work" — Clues all start "Professional whose favorite movie lines might be..." and then there's a famous movie line, which you have to interpret wackily (i.e. as a pun):

Theme answers:
  • SOFTBALL PLAYER (21A: Professional whose favorite movie line might be "There's no place like home") (from "The Wizard of Oz")
  • GOATHERD (35A: ... "Here's looking at you, kid") (from "Casablanca")
  • I.T. SPECIALIST (40A: ... "I wish I knew how to quit you") (from "Brokeback Mountain")
  • SCHEDULING COORDINATOR (61A: ... "Go ahead, make my day") (from "Dirty Harry")
  • ORTHODONTIST (81A: ... "Get to the chopper!") (from ??????????) [looks it up] (huh, "Predator")
  • MAGICIAN (87A: " ... "Is this your king?!") (from "Black Panther")
  • EPIDEMIOLOGIST (102A: ... "I'll have what she's having") (from "When Harry Met Sally")
Word of the Day: WANGARI MAATHAI (15D: 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who founded the Green Belt Movement) —
Wangarĩ Muta Maathai (wàŋɡàˈɹɛ |m|ɑː|ˈ|t|aɪ; 1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica (Benedictine College) and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. In 1984, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural resources in the government of President Mwai Kibakibetween January 2003 and November 2005. She was an Honorary Councillor of the World Future Council. She was affiliated to professional bodies and received several awards. On Sunday, 25 September 2011, Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is funny. A little bit haha funny, but a lot curious funny. Take WANGARI MAATHAI (15-Down), whose life's work was truly impressive, but whom I learned about for the first time literally just now. Famewise, I'm pretty sure her name is going to be familiar only to a very small percentage of solvers, and since it's a non-western name and there are no other famous WANGARIs or MAATHAIs, you can't even infer it, or even parts of it. Is she worth knowing about? Absolutely. But it is weird to put someone this non-household-namey in such a long answer. I've definitely encountered longish names I've never heard of before, but usually it's because of some glaring ignorance on my part. Whereas in the case of Peace Nobelists, well, I doubt most people can name most Peace Nobelists from this century (or the last century, for that matter).

So the puzzle has made a very conscious choice to teach us about this woman, for which, I have to say, I commend it. It just makes the solve unusual, in that I spent what felt like half my time just in the NE section of the grid, trying to hash things out because that name was basically random letters to me. I sincerely forgot the theme by the time I was done sorting out the NE. So perhaps this is a roundabout way of saying the theme wasn't any great shakes. I'm far far far more likely to remember WANGARI MAATHAI than I am this theme ... which ... maybe Mission Accomplished? If not *the* mission, then *a* mission. But seriously, read more about her. She's fascinating.

My problem with the theme, aside from its basic corniness, is that some of these aren't really "lines of work" and some of the "lines" don't reeeeally go with the "work." Are there professional SOFTBALL PLAYERs? I get that it makes the clue about women, which is great, but women play BASEBALL too.

But at least with SOFTBALL PLAYER, the line ("There's no place like home") fits the job. Presumably, a SOFTBALL PLAYER wants to get home (to score a run). Whereas the line "I'll have what she's having" makes nooooo sense for an EPIDEMIOLOGIST, unless said EPIDEMIOLOGIST was really into *contracting* diseases (as opposed to studying them). And is a SCHEDULING COORDINATOR really a job title? I guess I could say the same about GOATHERD, but I know that that job at least existed at some point—maybe still, but definitely in the past. Whereas SCHEDULING COORDINATOR... ? Finally, is "Get to the chopper!" famous? It's the only line I didn't recognize. Apparently it's from "Predator" ... [cough] ... OK. I mean, how you have a puzzle like this and *don't'* have the exceedingly famous line from that other Schwarzenegger movie but *do* have the line from this Schwarzenegger movie, I do not know. I really do not. And wouldn't an I.T. SPECIALIST absolutely very much know how to quit (you)????

HEROIZED, LOL, what? I had HERALDED, which has the virtue of being a word one might use (12D: Placed on a pedestal). To the puzzle's enormous credit, HEROIZED was really the only non-theme fill that made me go "huhhh?" Not keen on cluing HOUSECAT via its pooping locale (STANK indeed!) but HOUSECAT is a fine answer, as are virtually all the other answers (75D: What goes in a box). A very well-made grid, but the theme was kind of hit-or-miss, and a bit of a SNOOZE, for me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ω 12:09 AM  

I also learned where W.E.B. Dubois is buried. Otherwise, a lot of what Rex said. As for SCHEDULING COORDINATOR, I think most medical offices have such a person.

Joaquin 12:11 AM  

This puzzle was the exception that proves the rule "Sunday NYT crosswords are all tiresome slogs." This was much more fun/challenging/entertaining than the typical Sunday.

And despite having HEROIZED (just an awful word) and WANGARI MAATHAI (world's most difficult crossword name), I enjoyed the daylights out of this solve.

Joe Dipinto 12:49 AM  

EPIDEMIOLOGIST made me laugh. The only good theme answer. 15d screams "Caution! Show-off At Work".

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

There were several moments where I legitimately enjoyed this puzzle. The northeast was definitely difficult to sort out, but the crosses were fair (perhaps some might take exception to URANIA, but the N was inferable). Overall, a cut above the NYT average Sunday crossword even if it did take longer than average for me. I agree the theme was unremarkable, but that didn't matter to me in the end.

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

Oh, and "get to the chopper" is a legit famous movie line.

Sarah (3trees) 1:27 AM  

My cat SITS in a box...if it fits it sits. No poop reference in my mind.

DNF for upper right. Otherwise, attainable.

First time to comment; frequent reader. I appreciate your blog.

jae 2:42 AM  

Medium-tough. Almost exactly what Rex said.

puzzlehoarder 3:27 AM  

This was definitely not the puzzle to start after midnight. At one point I nearly fell asleep but the challenge kept me going.

15D was one of those entries where you just don't look at it and keep on putting in the crosses otherwise you'll question even the strongest answers.

RAFFIA and GRANITA are two entries I could be more familiar with. Once again the crosses came through.

After another long DIY project day I needed a distraction like this.

TamaraKK 4:29 AM  

Wangari Maathai I knew, but only as I am living in Kenya temporarily, where she is very much beloved, and rightly so. She saved the huge Karura Forest (in the middle of Nairobi) from being developed, and it is still the lungs of Nairobi. Read her book "Unbowed".

Anonymous 4:39 AM  

I actually found the upper left harder than the upper right, because the acrosses and all the other downs in the upper right were mostly not that hard to figure out.

In the upper left, my brain stuck with baseBALLPLAYER and shepHERD for far too long, which made nothing else work.

Mrs. Johnson 4:47 AM  

Women most certainly DO play professional softball, and I'm very proud of them. But I think "home" refers not to home plate, but for their desire to finish the game and get home in time to cook dinner for their husbands, bless those gal's hearts.

Lewis 6:11 AM  

For me, the theme was cute, the solve a combination of easy and thorny, the grid extraordinarily clean for a Sunday, and the pop factor, that is, the energy and interesting-ness, was high. All this made for an enjoyable solve, and thank you, Erik.

What really stood out (as with yesterday's puzzle) were the fun wordplay-centered clues -- [District 9, for short?] for SCOTUS, [What goes in a box] for HOUSE CAT, [Matrix character] for DOT, [Stick-y pad?] for NEST, and [Bars that people walk into] for ENTRANCE MUSIC.

Erik's puzzles exude confidence and high capability and show what an art making puzzles can be. They bring high credit to this glorious pastime of ours.

ZenMonkey 6:24 AM  

As Sarah mentioned, I definitely imagined my cats "going" into every cardboard box they get their paws on, not the sCATological "going." But I think it works both ways.

"Get to the choppah!" (as it's correctly spelled) is most definitely well known. At least among my fellow Gen X people.

Fun puzzle with lots of payoff. Interpreting the theme loosely, I got some laughs and the rules or lack thereof didn't bother me. HEROIZE did, however.

turkeyneck 6:30 AM  

15 Down: an abomination, pure and simple. Finally got it by spraying in a couple of failed crosses. But why? is my eventual reaction. You’re too kind, Rex. For you, that is.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

I didn’t think of poop at all with the HOUSECAT clue. I actually pictured the cardboard box in my parents’ living room. The cat uses it as a sort of duck blind to stalk the dogs.


Joris Bado 7:10 AM  

Goatherd is definitely a thing of the past? How smugly first-world of you to think so, sir.

Unknown 7:20 AM  

Someone explain 1 accross please

JJ 7:30 AM  

HEROIZE? PALPS? GOATHERD without an -er? You always learn something new with his puzzles. I still can’t believe he didn’t go for months on Jeopardy.
“Make my day” is my only nit. It seems like something I would say to a SCHEDULING COORDINATOR, not what they would say to me. I also agree with Rex on EPIDEMIOLOGIST. The rest was pure fun. It makes my day when I see that he’s the constructor.

OffTheGrid 7:59 AM  

76D means cat litter box. I don't know why some of you can't handle that.

Lou 8:10 AM  

Brads are small nails (fasteners) that are sometimes made of brass (change the fourth letter from s to d).

Unknown 8:15 AM  

Frankly, I'm shocked Rex didn't take umbridge with the fact that SRA and SRTA we used in the same puzzle. That's just lazy.

Joe Dipinto 8:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dipinto 8:24 AM  

Also, the clue for 31d should really be "bars that people walk in to?" (in to = two words). You can't "walk into a bar" of music. A twist on a common phrase must make sense in order for it to seem clever.

Evan 8:27 AM  

My first thought was that Schrödinger's Cat would go in the box, but that obviously didn't fit. I guess my brain was kind of stuck on that because that was the box I figured the house cat was in until I read this column.

Mike Herlihy 8:30 AM  

BRADS can be made of BRAsS.

Nancy 8:48 AM  

Should I blame that name or should I blame the stupid car clue? I had aMC crossing WANAaRIMAATHAI and, therefore, a DNF. Well, look, if he/she has two "A"s in a row in the bottom of the name, why not two "A"s in a row in the top of the name? I had no idea if it was a single name or a first and last name, and it would have made no difference if I had.

You cannot cross a name like that with car company initials, of which there are two: GMC and AMC. You just can't, Erik! But luckily I wasn't playing for the $100,000 first prize, so I've decided to forgive you.

Other than that, this is an Erik Agard puzzle I liked a lot. It requires playfulness in order to solve rather than a lot of useless information and it was a great deal of fun.

I don't get the "I don't know how to quit you"/IT SPECIALIST connection, though. Maybe someone can explain?

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

I really enjoyed this...

Teedmn 9:05 AM  

I was rather surprised to have finished this without a DNF. WANGARI MAATHAI isn't a name I vaguely knew but needed crosses for; no, I don't believe I've ever run into her before. Post-solve Googling shows she's very worthy of the Nobel prize she was awarded. WANGARI, I apologize for my ignorance. Meanwhile, I could only hope that URA[N]IA was correct as the most obvious answer.

I'm afraid I have to agree with Jeff Chen over at xwordinfo today as far as the theme answers go. Few of them were DEAD ON. Only SCHEDULING COORDINATOR made me smile. I still don't get why the clue for IT SPECIALIST works, and I had to remind myself what an EPIDEMIOLOGIST does before the clue made sense. That one's on me - it was actually kinda cute after I looked it up.

I liked the clue for ENTRANCE MUSIC and the Grinch clue for STANK. But HEROIZED?

Thanks for the effort, Erik, but this didn't really do it for me.

GILL I. 9:07 AM  

ENTRANCE MUSIC? OK, if you say so. When I walk into a bar I wish someone would sing me a lullaby.
Erik and I don't see eye to eye. I'm sure if we shared some SUDS, I could understand his "off the wall" way of thinking. I seemed to have had a big HUH with just about all of his clues. An obstetrics worker clued as a nurse (79A)? Yeah, I guess so. HOUSE CAT (75D) goes in a box? WANG, who? OK. The beat goes on....
I thought the concept was pretty clever...nothing else was really amusing. I won't say it STANK but jeez Louise, you sure tried hard to be clever. And why, pray tell, do you clue a COUGAR as an Andean feline? Oh....and then there's KMART competing with Target? Nah....KMART'S dead.....Target still alive and classy.

Nancy 9:08 AM  

"In to", not "into". Terrific pickup, @Joe Dipinto (8:24). It would have made the clue work, which of course it didn't.

My curiosity is killing me, @puzzlehoarder. What, exactly, are you DIY-ing? Sure hope, whatever it is, it's not too hard on your knees.

mmorgan 9:10 AM  

What @Rex said, what @Lewis said.

First had baseBALLPLAYER, then (in desperation) footBALLPLAYER, finally got SOFT, but it felt a bit green paintish to me for some reason.

As for 15D... well, after trying and trying and trying, for the first time in, um, a gazillion years, I gave in and resorted to Googling "Green Belt Movement." Wow. I might have eventually gotten it from crosses, but not with having URsulA at 23A and totally blanking on 13A and 16D. And aMC was just sitting there daring me to put it in (Hi, Nancy!).

But there's some great stuff here and I continue to be deeply impressed by Erik's productivity and its quality. Even with 15D.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

hey rex this was a fine sunpuz. another eric classic. i was ready to write in muhammad yunus for 15D but am glad i waited. fixing that mistake would have taken forever.

am waiting for that gal who grew up everywhere to tell us about growing up next door to Wangari Maathai, and of course playing softball with her kids.

brass menorah. indeed.

Milk Shake? 9:11 AM  

dafuq, Rex? "I drink your milkshake?" There's 2:40 of my life I will never get back. Seriously, I've heard of the movie (though never seen it), but out of context, that's some terrible acting. LOL at ...sluuuuuurrrrp...."I drink your milkshake!"

David in Brevard 9:14 AM  

Geez! Quarter of an hour slower than my best but still better than average (the trend IS my friend). Finished in 80 minutes and then spent 2 mins finding and then spelling ORTHODONTIST correctly.

Like many others... HEROIZED and WANGARIMAATHAI were killers for me. Loved the clues to ENTRANCE MUSIC and TUTUS but still do not really understand the theme.

WOEs include SCOTUS, PALPS, GRANITA and are KMARTS still a thing?

For a long time I was incredulous at I’M AN AGE, specially crossing AGE!

On with our day in rainy WNC

David in Brevard

Dorothy Biggs 9:20 AM  

I used to play with ALPHABETBLOCKS and my mom swore that it's how I learned to spell. It was probably that along with sitting on her lap while she played Scrabble. (I also learned to count sitting on her lap while she played Sorry and I counted the number on the dice). Nice memories.

GOATHERD reminds me of The Sound of Music. "High on a hill was a lonely goatherd..."

MENORAH is one of those words that I just can't seem to remember how to spell. See also: CACAO v. Cocoa.

1A could have just left it at "Fasteners." I started reading the rest of the tome of the clue and my eyes kinda glazed over. TL;DR.

Does anyone use the word OPT in everyday life? It is a standard xword word that I see very often, but it seems like I only hear it very rarely out in the wild.

Birchbark 9:24 AM  

A real pleasure to read @Rex on WANGARI MAATHAI. I got it purely from the crosses. It is so exotic (good exotic) that I figured @Rex in cognoscenti mode would not only know the name, but chide the Times for waiting so long to include her in a puzzle. Good to see him learn along with us and support a conscious decision to include an unfamiliar answer for the sake of learning.

I put EPIDEMIOLOGIST in a similar category, even though I've heard it many times. After solving I looked it up in one of the dictionaries and see that it is the specialty concerned with infectuous diseases. So I laughed long after others did at that answer.

Ω 9:27 AM  

@Joe Dipinto - “in to” or “into” - Yep. I don’t see any examples of “into” meaning “in with” as in the clue.

@OffTheGrid - “can’t handle it.” The whole point of using these common short words in clues is that they have multiple meanings. Conceptualizing the box as a cat toy as opposed to a litter box works to solve the clue. Not everyone has to share our refined scatological tastes.

@Evan - I like your Schrödinger HOUSE CAT going in the box.

@Unknown 7:20 - @Lou did.

@Joris Bado - I’m guessing you have no idea why picking a Burkinabé athlete to make your supposed point makes you look like a racist. Beyond suggesting that an athlete from a sub-Saharan country is a simple GOATHERD, there’s the whole innuendo behind the term that exists in multiple languages and cultures. Both Greeks and Kurds (for example) are accused of being a certain GOATHERD stereotype in some areas of the world by people who don’t like them, so you see why your comment is problematic. Let me suggest that if you want to criticize Rex make sure your comment does not make you look like something worse. Also, you apparently skipped the “maybe still,” in Rex’s comment. I could also point out that people in this country raise goats, so you didn’t even need to go the “first world country” route (and I will leave it to you to read up on how the first/second/third world construction is racist), but that would be piling on.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

not knowing that line from predator...might have to find a different blog to read

Ed Rosenthal 9:57 AM  

Same two answers for me and I DNF that corner because I couldn’t budge on those. Was certain they were right.

Carola 10:02 AM  

Engaging and just-right challenging for me. In the quotes, I especially enjoyed the repurposing of "home," "kid," "chopper," "king," and. the sort of triple play on "having" from Harry and Sally - the best kind of witty and wacky. It was also fun to see the HOUSE CAT materialize - and then make sense - and to get the District 9.

Looking over the grid afterwards, I really liked the parallel placement of ALPHABET BLOCKS and (the unknown to me) WANGARI MAATHAI: I came at her name from below, and it was indeed like stacking one letter block on top of the other, wondering if I'd get to the top without a mishap.

@Dorothy Biggs, besides Maria's "lonely goatherd," I also remembered Heidi's friend Peter the goatherd.
@Nancy, I wrote in aMC, too, but a ouija-board-like force made me erase the a for a G.

Unknown 10:23 AM  


Chris 10:31 AM  

Am I off my shit or was Eva Perón never president?

the man who came back 10:33 AM  

WANGARI MAATHAI??! Why not just make up some useless phrase? Who on Earth would know this? Shitty puzzle ( I can say that, because Trump)

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Skipping around the grid as is my wont, filling in the gimmes and their crosses, just for speed’s sake, I had the MUSIC part of 31-D, and the leading “E”. So of course I put in ELEVATOR, which of course you can “walk into” and not “walk in” to. Anybody else get tripped up on that?

Shaman Alchemist

webwinger 10:46 AM  

With about half of the letters filled in, I realized re WANGARI MAATHAI that (a) I would not know who this person was, and (b) would not be able to tell if the name was spelled correctly, thus making its completion little or no help with the remaining crosses. I therefore did what I always do without hesitation in such situations: went to Google. I learned something valuable, saved myself possibly as many as a trillion precious nanoseconds, and did not diminish the satisfaction of solving the puzzle ONE IOTA.

As I’ve said here before, I don’t really understand the sense of shame and “cheating” that almost everyone else seems to associate with googling obscure, or simply unknown, PPP clues that typically are very straightforward in the sense of not involving any wordplay. Often just looking at the list of hits answers my question. If not I’ll check the Wikipedia reference or some other (allegedly) factual site. Always avoid the specifically x-word related hits that frequently pop up—that I would consider cheating. I do get a little bit of ego satisfaction when I fill in this type of answer on my own, but failing to do so in no way bothers me the way not figuring out a misdirection or pun does.

Agree with comments from others re “into” vs “in to” in an otherwise outstanding clue. Also now have stuck in my head the GOATHERD song from Sound of Music (one of the most insipid songs in the only R&H musical I find insipid). There was, however, much to like in this puzzle, mostly apart from the theme (see @Lewis above). Finally, I don’t get the connection between MAGICIAN and “Is this your king?!”—maybe because I didn’t see the movie.

Leslie 11:03 AM  

Can someone please explain the IT specialist clue/answer?
Heroize is terrible. Almost enough to spoil the whole puzzle.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

there aren't many 4 letter African countries, only TOGO, Mali, and Chad come to mind. makes life simpler.

aeevans 11:10 AM  

At my school we celebrated the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize every year, and we wrote letters of thanks and congratulations to the winners. I always looked forward to the announcement. (I am aware some of the winners are hideous people).

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

@Webwinger, I took "Is this your king?" to be related to a card trick. I don't know the movie reference,

Mary Rose 11:27 AM  

Someone please explain 98D. Twenty somethings, e.g. Demo?

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Minor note: “Go ahead, make my day” is more accurately described as being from “Sudden Impact”, the 4th “Dirty Harry” film.

QuasiMojo 11:43 AM  

@Chris, it was the second Mrs. Peron who was president. Very pretty.

Mr. Agard has been on a role lately. His LATX yesterday was very good, although his putting GRINDR in as his One Across and calling it a gay "dating" site made my jaw drop. And I see him in the New Yorker often. Today's example was easier than usual. I feared a rebus with HERO-IZED. For Hero Worshipped. Never hear heroized before. Sounds like adspeak.

@Nancy, you were luckier than I. I plopped in KIA for the SUV. I knew AMC is defunct and I doubt they ever made an SUV. Although some of their cars were ugly enough and roomy enough to qualify.

The lady with the long name was not a Natick. The crosses were easy. Although I had I SAY IT for the attestator. Which made me wonder if Yo Yo Ma had a day name for him. Or Yo Mao! Nothing the UN does would surprise me.

Despite so many hurdles I managed to beat my average time by 20 minutes. Go figure. Just between us, I think the app I use doesn't have a clue what my averages really are.

Unknown 11:46 AM  

I loved this puzzle, managed to get Wangari Maathai from the crosses. Fun, challenging, but doable. Lots of clever cluing: brads/brass, nest, ottoman, etc. I liked the theme and thought some of the answers were very clever--loved epidemiologist and orthodontist. Yes there are professional softball players. Had trouble with IT specialist, got magician from the crosses. "Is this your king"????? What am I missing here? Hm...could make a not nice comment about the three cat related clues and the year of the woman...

What? 11:51 AM  


Anonymous 11:56 AM  

@Webwinger, I thought I was the only one that didn’t get “Is this your king”? As related to magician. D’oh! As soon as I read your comment I realized it is the king in a card trick! Funny how you can just feel extremely dense with some clues/answers. I always enjoy EA puzzles even though I find them somewhat challenging. I am surprised that @Rex forgives WANGARIMAATHAI in the puzzle since he is wont to criticize “unknown by few” puz answers. And @Z, c’mon, if Rex can’t take that little goatherd/first world barb, then he wouldn’t be a blog master. Please let the minor barbs go.

What? 11:57 AM  

Fun and challenging. WANGARIMAATHAI is ugly but the crosses are easy so learned something new.
Small ughs to I SAW IT and HEROIZED.

ccredux 12:03 PM  

Whose line are we talking about? The professional or the client/ subject? Very confusing theme clues. Never heard of Maathai . I suppose heroize is now a word but it makes its debut here, doesn’t it? Always nice to learn a new word—-palps. I have no idea what 40 A is. My wife said it is an Internet Technology Specialist, if that is right, I still have no idea what it is.

RooMonster 12:09 PM  

Hey All !
"Get to the choppah!" Har! That is the famous line that Everyone uses to spoof-talk Arnold. I feel sorry for those who don't know that. :-)

With the others who didn't know the 15D Nobelist. Was trying to get 13A to be one word, so having LO_PH, wanted an R, than an M. Har. Finally figured out LOW PH. Ooohhh. One other place for my DNF today, had KRONa, giving me _URSa for NURSE, so I slapped in a B to get bURSa/GRAbITA, cause what do I know of half-frozen Italian desserts?

I went the litter box route on HOUSECAT. Also with those whose minds went to Schrödinger. Was it deadCAT or aliveCAT?

So a nice SunPuz. Theme was OK, not a MEH or a SNOOZE. Really wanted an ER on the end of GOATHERD. That got an UMS.

Funny writeover I remember, had foNt for PENS, which ended up with me having fURR at 97A.

Don't pull a FAST ONE ON ME

Birchbark 12:10 PM  

@webwinger (10:46) -- Just FYI, 1 trillion nanoseconds = 1 second. Still precious after all those lost nanoseconds? You be the judge. Or @M&A.

As far as "cheating," I try pretty hard to solve the puzzle on its own as a good way to develop inferential skills. But if I get to a point where it's a choice between asking the computer to solve or looking up the answer, I'm happy to go to physical books first, then Wikipedia. The "penalty," which is usually a good thing, is reading up on an answer I didn't know. I don't use Google for this -- because as you point out, it often links to crossword answer sites.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Lucky me to know Wangari Maathai- I knew that should be the answer, but wasn’t sure the constructor would actually choose her! Sure enough, first cross was a W and that made the whole section fall into place! Overall I did it in 2/3rds my normal time thanks to Wangari Maathai! (And also- Thanks TO Wangari Maathai for all her work!)

Carola 12:24 PM  

@webwinger - By this time, a bunch of answers to your question may well have piled up....but I'll just say that I did a fair amount of brain racking over the magician and the king. My guess is that it has to do with a magic trick involving a deck of cards, where someone from the audience has picked a random card (here, a king) and stuck it randomly back in the deck for the magician to discover, which he or she then does.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

I can understand your feeling out of context but that really is one of the best movie lines ever and it refers to the practice of slant drilling back then...you could buy an adjacent plot of land and drill on the slant to the “neighbors” oil deposit. He DDL was a marvelous but somewhat over the top villain who was telling Paul Dano (the land hold out) that he had done just that to the oil beneath his land.

Blue Stater 12:33 PM  

Simply awful. Dreadful. A waste of a Sunday morning. Full of achingly marginal words and definitions. HEROIZED? PALPS? DEMO (defined by an age-group)? And of course 15-D, which is in a class by itself for meritless obscurity (that is, as a puzzle entry, not for the career of the person who is the entry). The SE was one gigantic Natick. The fond memory of Eugene Maleska's Sunday masterpieces gets dimmer by the week.

And, as a postscript, I am into my 15th minute trying to navigate past Captcha, which is a disaster and totally unnecessary for a site like this (what, pray is the NYT trying to secure against?). Maddening.

What? 12:38 PM  


What? 12:41 PM  

Internet Specialist- would know how to “quit” a program

What? 12:44 PM  

IT - information technology
“quit a program” I’m guessing

What? 12:54 PM  

As an aside, Sunday night on Hallmark Channel,
“Crossword Mysteries”. Shortz listed as an executive producer and a writer. Watched 10 minutes, pressed Record as it was putting me to sleep. Doubt if I’ll watch the end but maybe.
Feel free to add the many strange Shortz-approved entries as examples of Crossword Mysteries.

Aphid Larue 1:15 PM  

Epidemiologists my first theme answer, for professional reasons.

Schrödinger’s cat seemed fine.

IS there an explanation for the IT clue? I’d like to quit my plumber too.

Joseph M 1:53 PM  

I know that Erik Agard is HEROIZED in the crossword world, but I for one did not like much about this puzzle. 49A would be a generous summary of my response.

The theme concept was clever, but the execution was weak for all of the reasons that Rex has already pointed out. The only themer that AMUSED me was SOFTBALL PLAYER, except that I would not categorize one as a “professional.”

I did like ENTRANCE MUSIC, though I agree that the clue should have been “walk in to” rather than “walk into.”

Don’t know what to say about WANGARI MAATHAI. I’m impressed that she earned a Nobel, but wish she weren’t taking up so much real estate in the grid, especially when she’s crossing URANIA and GMC.

Joe Dipinto 1:55 PM  

@Webwinger & others – My take is that MAGICIAN refers to the Magi, the Three Kings who visited the Christ child. (Actually I liked that answer too.)

sixtyni yogini 2:12 PM  

Easy one here. 🧩 Liked some the clues, i.e. bars that some walk into 🎼🎼🎼. And got Wangari etc with all the crosses. Theme...boooooo-ring! 😴 About as fun as a

Master Melvin 2:16 PM  

Some of the best professional women's softball is played about a mile from my house in Connecticut: The Stratford Brakettes.

Speedweeder 2:19 PM  

@ccredux 12:03 - When I was still an I.T. specialist, it stood for Information Technology, of which Internet technology is a subset. Either way, I still don't get the clue, unless it relates to quitting/killing a computer process.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Knew WANGARI MAATHAI but only because we were in Kenya in 2005 and were supposed to meet her, but as she had won the Nobel she was no longer available! Overall did not have much trouble with this; finished in record time. Not crazy about the themers, tho. Sort of got them from the crosses and spelling patterns instead of from the clues. Good way to relax after lunch. Thx EA!

Seth 2:27 PM  

What the heck does an orthodontist have to do with "Get in the chopper"??

Rcav 2:50 PM  

I don’t get the MAGICIAN connection either. Can someone explain??

Rcav 2:52 PM  

Magi/magician are totally different. And magi is not a profession. So it’s gotta be something else...

Joe Dipinto 3:29 PM  

@Rcav – actually, a Magus (singular of Magi) was a sorcerer. So there is a tenuous connection to "magician" and also to "king", but I'll admit the pieces don't really add up. A card trick reference is probably more plausible, but a card trick doesn't necessarily involve a king. So who knows...

Jillybean 3:37 PM  

The clue for GRANITA bugged me- there is an Italian dessert that actually means “ partially frozen” (semi credo) so it felt off

Hungry Mother 3:42 PM  

Pretty typical Sunday Solve, beginning when I was breakfasting before a 10K race and continuing after our weekend company left. Yeah, 15D, who the f*** are you, as the song says. Nice theme and a good workout, finished when I realized that WOMAN was supposed to be singular.

Jillybean 3:47 PM  

Just noticed my typo- meant semi fredo

Suzie Q 3:54 PM  

@ Joe Dipinto, I was satisfied with the magician/card trick link but I found your Magi possibility more interesting.

Bite Me 4:03 PM  

An orthodontist is a DDS who specializes in alignment (braces). Choppers is slang for teeth.

What? 4:05 PM  

Teeth “chop”

What? 4:07 PM  

Card trick

Anonymous 4:57 PM  


Patricia Markert 5:06 PM  

I love Wangari Maathai, but find her name difficult to spell, assuming that Wangari ended in an a not an i for some reason. She seems more and more brilliant as climate change hurries up, and poorer nations and peoples take the brunt of it. The rest of the puzzle was fun, because I love movies, and I like Erik Agard's associating those lines with lines of work. I predict he will take over from Will Shortz when the time comes. His mini puzzles are like workouts for the full puzzle.

Hungry Mother 5:15 PM  

“Who are you?”, by the Who, is one of my running playlist.

jberg 5:53 PM  

OK, I'm an outlier here -- I taught Introduction to Environmental Studies for many years, and we also spent one class on WANGARI MAATHAI (despite which, I put it in as MAtTHAI at first). So I loved seeing her in the puzzle, but I realize that's a wheelhouse thing, and most people aren't in mine, so the criticism is legit.

The theme is pretty loose, but OK with me. I think the IT clue refers to a situation where a program hangs up on you, and you can't exit or quit it. So here the IT specialist doesn't know enough, but wishes that he or she did. But I'm open to a simpler explanation.

I solved the puzzle a long time ago and immediately went out for brunch -- so I'm just coming here, and probably everyone has gone away, and everything has been said, so I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

@Joe Dipinto:
actually, a Magus (singular of Magi) was a sorcerer.

not to mention a very fine book. many people say so.

PokerPlayers4Texas 5:57 PM  

Ok, I'll give you ENTRANCE MUSIC, and I cringe when I see HEROIZED, but GOATHERD is not a professional. It's GOATHERD(ER). You wouldn't call a cattle rancher a cattle ranch. Ridiculous.

pabloinnh 6:11 PM  

Late to the party as we spent the afternoon leaf peeping with friends. I think "leaf peepers" has been in a NYT x-word, but can't remember when. Anyway, it was a glorious day here in NH, the leaves are "at peak", as we say, and to live here and not do this is beyond stupid. As Spenser the detective might say, we'd be fools not to.

Nothing new to add to the comments, as they echoed many of my reactions. Medium-tough, some great stuff, some WTF stuff, some too clever by half stuff.

I really just wanted to defend K-Mart, which is definitely a thing around here. There's one twenty miles down the road that has been here ever since they started paving the cornfields in that area about fifty years ago. Still open after all these years.

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

@PokerPlayers4Texas 5:57 - There's this thing called a dictionary, in which goatherd is defined as a person who herds goats. You might consider using one. A dictionary, that is.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

I really just wanted to defend K-Mart

yeah, but how about Aubuchon Hardware? still around? (too lazy to wiki!)

Seth 8:13 PM  

Teeth are not CHOPPERS. They're CHOMPERS. Come on.

skristol 8:29 PM  

Me too

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

"Whose line is it anyway" would have been a better title. Maybe it's copyrighted and thus off-limits.

Richardf8 9:46 PM  

102A - I once worked with an Epidemiologist who had a flesh eating virus named for him. Then he explained to be that the names of these thing are not given to the discoverer, but to the patient in whome they are first discovered. Yep. He’d contracted it. So yeah, 102A . . .

Richardf8 9:48 PM  

And with this the Sunday NYT Puzzle joins today’s Mother Goose and Grimm as a bit, um, urine-soaked.

Anonymous 10:30 PM  

nope. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/choppers

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:31 PM  

First thing I got was WANGARI MAATHAI. 'The Green Belt Movement' was a dead giveaway. Sheesh, let us non junky TV watchers have our moment, huh? We don't know most of the names you people think are so important, bu we know that one.

Monty Boy 10:38 PM  

Everyone should read Mother Goose and Grim comic and Frazz for today (Sunday 10/13). Two cross-word comics worth the visit. You can find them at GOCOMICS.COM (free). You may have to use the search icon for them.

Oh and I like the puzzle just fine. Themers were amusing, remote Nobelist not so much.

PokerPlayers4Texas 11:10 PM  

@anonymous at 6:41 I'm sure if used the dictionary I'm sure i would find your picture under the definition of snarky.

Mike 1:35 AM  

Since there isn’t a prize at stake, I don’t care how people deal with tricky stuff.

I usually google post solve though, because I found once I started googling one answer I’d google a bunch rather than work out the answers through trying different ideas. It is more satisfying to me to come up with the answer through mental work.

a.corn 2:07 AM  

SCHEDULING COORDINATOR definitely a thing. “Get to the chopper!” definitely a thing as well (what Ahhhnold line were you thinking of: ‘hasta la vista, baby.”?) This puzzle was a joy to solve, and fwiw the theme does work. The movie lines are said by the professionals, they’re just apropos of the professionals’...professions. The scheduling coordinator isn’t having their schedule coordinated (I.e. day made), they are sorting out someone else’s day. The IT SPECIALIST does know how to quit, but the person they’re helping does not. The EPIDIMIOLOGIST doesn’t want to contract anything, but if someone has what she’s having (e.g. a communicable disease) then clearly it all works, yes?

Joe in Newfoundland 7:53 AM  

Canadian Mail, like US Mail, does not use periods in its provincial (state) abbreviations. N.S. is not a postal abbreviation; NS is.

Maybe . . . 8:14 AM  

Why is 52D "District 9, for short?" SCOTUS [i.e.,The Supreme Court]?

Ω 9:07 AM  

@Maybe - The 9 Justices work in the District of Columbia.

Maybe . . . 9:36 AM  

Ah! Thx.

Hugh 7:54 PM  

For me, it was the Northwest - not the Northeast that did me in. I put down BaseballPlayer for 21A and I just couldn't shake it off. I did not know 15D (thought I'm very glad to know of her now) but I just assumed it was correct given the crosses. So 1D, 2D, 3D and 24A and 39A all blank for me - pretty poor showing.

Really liked 31D (Bars that people walk into?) and a couple others. Other than the NE, enjoyed this Sunday

Unknown 9:22 PM  

Oh come on! House cat was the most hysterical clue in the entire puzzle!

kitshef 10:57 PM  

Hard and extremely unpleasant. Honestly, I don't look at constructor names before I solve. Yet 70% of the time when I finish and think "that STANK", I look up and it's Erik's name at the top.

WANGARI MAATHAI is certainly crossworthy, but you have to make the crosses fair. No muses, no initialisms, Dr. Seuss quotes. Even LOW PH was pushing it.

PatKS 11:22 PM  

Me three

PatKS 11:47 PM  

First word I said after finishing this puzzle was STUPID. I did not like the clues at all. Did not know Wangari Matathai at all but I got that section just fine anyway. I got stuck in NW thinking baseball player and shepherd. Never heard of brads or palps. Assumed upsell but never heard it. Never had granita. I didn't like sra and srta together. Race, rage and rake were lazy. Scotus and Scotia. Meh
Heroized was super annoying. Herofied makes more sense. I think Agar must own cats because of housecat and scritches (whatever the heck that is). Puzzle took me twice the time of an average Sunday. Themers were lame. Yup, STUPID.
Have a great week Rex!

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

This puzzle was great, but you had to roll with it. I was overjoyed that Wangari was front and center. I learned of her many years back when she received the Nobel.Funny thing, I just happen to be working on a painting of her for my art class. We both chose an amazing subject. Bravo Erik Agard!

Rube 8:52 AM  

1 down destroys your thought process. A gimme which sets up the entire corner. No sympathy

APsychiatristWrites 3:11 PM  

Some one explain 104 down, the missing letters in fwiw. Thanks

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

So glad to see Wangari Maathai in this puzzle. I met her many years ago and in addition to being a remarkable person who did extraordinary work, she was incredibly kind and generous. Made my day!

Unknown 9:56 AM  

Trying to come up with a clue to the answer "When Harry Met Dirty Sally" but nada so far...

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

Got through it, but only by using every single cross for 15d. The theme seems not all that tight. Arguments can be made for fitting, but they are tenuous. I found it a bit of a slog. NW and SE corners are severely cut off from the rest of the grid; good luck getting out of--or into--those. Fill is at times pretty off-the-wall, though it's to be expected from EA.

Really wanted Elevator MUSIC; that's a thing. ENTRANCEMUSIC? Nah. For DOD I raided the clue set: Beyoncé. Good overall, make it a birdie.

Unknown 11:19 AM  

DIY = Do It Yourself(ing)

Burma Shave 12:06 PM  


that WOMAN's UNFIT, we SEMI-hate her -


rondo 12:24 PM  

Got it done like everyone else, using crosses for the Nobel winner. Almost needed a MAGICIAN for that. The 1d clue for BRADS has gotta be Will at work.

A little empirical in the S with ROMAN crossing OTTOMAN.

Take the train into downtown Seattle from SEATAC. Bargain.

Glad to see my grandpa LARS up top.

ROSARIO Dawson a gimme and hands down yeah baby.

Not exactly a SNOOZE, but I was a bit BORED.

rondo 2:13 PM  

Line of work:
"Make my day with what she's having."
(When Dirty Harry Met Sally)

Unknown 2:41 PM  

Absolutely Hospitals, nursing homes, any 24 hour medical setting has a Scheduling Coordinator

rainforest 3:12 PM  

Though it tended to the tedious, this was a good puzzle with a ton of clues that tested me throughout. Those devious clues prevented this becoming a slog, but it did take a long time.

HEROIZE? Really?

That Nobel prize winner's name was a challenge, but I stuck to untangling the crosses until I got it, yet wasn't sure I was absolutely correct until I came here.

This seemed like a puzzle the constructor had fun putting together, and it was fun, though protracted, to solve.

strayling 7:46 PM  

Well I finished it, but I can't help feeling that it was a bit of a jazz music puzzle: clever, but far more fun for the constructor than for the audience.

strayling 7:49 PM  

For What IT'S Worth.

rondo 10:15 PM  

@Strayling - IT'S worth plenty. Good analogy.

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