NYC-based dance troupe / SUN 10-6-19 / Psalm 63 opening / 1976 hit whose title is sung just before line Take it easy / so-called winter blues for short / Site of first Ironman race 1978 / River through Dortmund / Popular sans-serif typeface / Truism based on line by Gertrude Stein / Symbolic socioeconomic divider

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Constructor: Howard Barkin and Victor Barocas

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:03)

THEME: Initial Public Offerings — three-letter answer that either precedes or follows long themer is just that themer in monogram form (i.e. it's that themer's initials):

Theme answers:
  • ALICE B. TOKLAS (25A: [PREVIOUS] Memoirist) / ABT (24A: N.Y.C.-based dance troupe) (the "PREVIOUS" is because the answer that provides the initials of ALICE B. TOKLAS is the "previous" Across answer: ABT)
  • HUNTER S. THOMPSON (39A: [NEXT] Journalist and author) / HST (42A: Maui setting: Abbr.) (I honestly had no idea there was an "HST" (Hawaiian Standard Time??). The only HST I know is the initials of Harry S. Truman ... guess they couldn't use him here, for obvious reasons: awkward)
  • ARTHUR C. CLARKE (55A: [PREVIOUS] Sci-fi author) / ACC (54A: Org. for the Demon Deacons and Blue Devils)
  • SUSAN B. ANTHONY (73A: [NEXT] Famed rights advocate) / SBA (75A: Agcy. that supports entrepreneurs) (note: it stands for "Small Business Administration")
  • STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS (89A: [PREVIOUS] Noted politician and orator) / SAD (88A: The so-called "winter blues," for short)
  • GEORGE M. COHAN (106A: [NEXT] American composer and lyricist) / GMC (109A: Canyon maker)
Word of the Day: SBA (75A) —
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a United States government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of the Small Business Administration is "to maintain and strengthen the nation's economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters". The agency's activities are summarized as the "3 Cs" of capital, contracts and counseling. (wikipedia)
• • •

[Airline to Stockholm]
No idea what was happening here while I was solving. Went back to figure it out and, wow, it is all kinds of awkward and disappointing. So many things to say. First, couldn't you do this ... forever. For, like, anyone with a middle initial who is famous? Why these people? Especially when their particular three-letter initials are (often) *so bad* as fill (ABT? HST? SBA!?). And STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS isn't even the most famous STEPHEN A. any more (ask anyone who has ever watched ESPN). The middle letter is pretty iconic with about half of these folks, but some just aren't as famous others, and honestly every single one of the answers is so old (i.e. long dead) that it seems a stretch that anyone under 40 will know all these names *complete* with their middle initials. I know all these names, but STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS, woof. I know him *solely* from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and even then, the "A."? You gotta be a household name for your middle initial to be common knowledge. GEORGE M. COHAN *was* famous, but isn't so much any more, and ARTHUR C. CLARKE is an important-ish writer, but still ... lots of people won't know him at all, let alone know that C. But the main problem here is ... why does this theme exist? What is it expressing, exactly? The [PREVIOUS] and [NEXT] bits in the themer clues are so inelegant, so ugly, so distracting, and so useless that ... I don't even know what to say. Why Next? Why Previous? What is even happening? I just don't get the reasoning behind the concept at all.

BOSOM is weirdly clued (76D: Place of security) (although, honestly, good luck cluing BOSOM in any non-weird way beyond ["___ Buddies" (Tom Hanks / Peter Scolari sitcom)]). Same with BETROTH, which I think of only in relation to a *marriage* "promise" (85D: Promise). GRP STKS WDS are, as a GRP, really trying my PTNCE. Multiple BELAS with multiple OBES is quite a sight. I am very much here for "A ROSE IS A ROSE ..." and DEADSPIN and "SILENT SPRING," but the irksome short stuff is really running amok today. I finished in a pretty normal time. Slow start right out of the gate because I assumed the rotors would SPIN (turns out they WHIR) (1A: What helicopter rotors do), and I forgot SNAP was a cereal mascot (would've guessed TONY but I already had the "S"). ACCURST is not the wurst but the clue is (11D: Hex'd) (like, honestly, sincerely, literally, 'hex'd' has never been written in human history before this clue except perhaps by some dime-store Auden searching for a rhyme for "sext"... not googling to confirm, but I know in my heart I'm right). Gonna go watch some baseball now. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

The random names meant nothing to me.
The arrows meant nothing to me.
The puzzle’s title meant nothing to me.
Yep. I was feeling a bit slow on the uptake today.

Then I read the NYT’s write-up about the puzzle and had a major “aha moment”. Pretty cool puzzle, after all!

Will S. 12:32 AM  

Loved it! Terrific job by the puzzle's editor, whatever his/her/their name is.

JOHN X 12:47 AM  

This puzzle was great just for SLOWRIDE. If you are too old or too young to understand this you have been cheated by God or the maker of your choice as you may or may not understand him or her.

I saw Foghat in '77 at The Capital Centre in Landover MD. Cheap Trick opened for them.

The rest of the puzzle was great too.

Rex, my invitation to take you to a Dallas whorehouse still stands. What you do there is your own business. Teach 'em Beowulf if you want to.

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

Sadly, Stephen A. Smith is most likely more famous than Stephen A. Douglas. Unless you’re arguing that someone’s fame makes them more crossword eligible, then it’s a moot point. Real Housewives are more famous than (fill in name of respected novelist) so let’s include them in the puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 12:53 AM  

I don't get the inclusion of OVER THERE with no acknowledged connection to themer GEORGE M. COHAN. Did no one involved realize that one of Cohan's most famous songs is a WWI anthem with that title? I know it's like ancient history, but even minimal research on Cohan would have revealed that.

Similarly we get no link between Gertrude Stein of A ROSE IS A ROSE and ALICE B. TOKLAS. Or HONOLULU and HST's Maui setting. Are these all supposed to be little Easter eggs? Or was everyone just oblivious?

As for the rest, I liked SWAMP GAS, REACTION TIME, I'M A GONER.

Today is the Blessing of the Animals – bring your pets to church! I'll be singing at St. Malachy's in midtown – can't wait to see all the poochies and kitties sitting in the pews. Maybe we'll get a snake or two. This is for the cat breed at 80d.

Anonymous 12:54 AM  

@Rex - You seem to like SAS, so can you please explain why he is always yelling at me?

Sam 1:02 AM  

Good review. Sharp-tongued, but charming instead of peevish. Full agreement that Stephen A Smith is the notable middle-initialed Stephen. Under 40, and only knew the middle initials for HST ACC SBA, though the rest were gotten pretty easily once I got the theme. Bosom is fine. One rushes to the bosom of whatever protecting entity. Even if betroth is only a particular type of promise, isn’t the clue still accurate? Good Sunday, not too hard, plenty of interesting long fill, some clever clueing. I’m over seeing Sara Lee and “cel”, and I have never heard of a radarange (at least the olds among us have a chance to know contemporary clues like “lil nas x”; why on earth would I know anything about mid century home appliances?).

chefwen 2:29 AM  

Never did figure out what the hell was going on, even after I finished, and wasn’t going to spend any more time to think it through. As Rex said, disappointing. Hadn’t heard of three out of the six themers and never picked up on the initials.

I’ll quit pouting now and see what the LA Times has to offer.

GHarris 2:42 AM  

Misspelling was my undoing. Vassar with an e, Toklas with an i and Iglesias with an e. Oh, also had accurse which left me with pie for quarry.
Otherwise a somewhat challenging but mostly enjoyable solve with fair crossings that enabled finding all those middle initials.

jae 2:50 AM  

Medium. Liked it a tad more than Rex did.

EdFromHackensack 3:18 AM  

There is a huge statue of George M Cohan prominently placed in the middle of Times Square NYC. Only yokels who just fell off the turnip truck would not be familiar with his name.

Evan 4:24 AM  

Easy medium. I had fun with this one. Maybe I’m just that bored on night shift at the psych hospital. The patients are too well behaved tonight.

Solverinserbia 5:03 AM  

I went golden (9 day streak, previous high of 5) in almost 47 minutes which I believe to be my slowest golden ever. The NE with ALICEBTOKLAS crossing AMANA plus BELAS, NAS, EEL's clue was the last to fall. I also thought the theme was pretty dumb, although as someone from Hawaii, HST (Hawaii Standard Time which is year round, there is no HDT) was a gimme.

Anonymous 5:53 AM  

I don't see the problem with the middle initials. None was hard to get from the down word. So no horrible Naticks.

And if you've never heard of STEPHENxDOUGLAS you slept through history in high school.

I liked EXTORTED as an accidental (I'm sure) reference to our Ukrainian foreign policy.

Can anyone explain ENS as the answer to "Northern borders?" Or is it just as dumb as it looks (a map could have an N on top)?

The EEL River is ultra, ultra obscure. I've driven along it without knowing it existed.

I still don't know what the ACC is, though it was derivable from sane down words.

OK, sure, maybe FUTURA is a popular typeface and I've just never heard of it.

I had ACCURSD and my wife said, there's no such word; it's ACCURST. I said, I agree, but look at the clue.

And can someone explain USURY as "High percentage of criminals?" I get that USURY is a crime that involves high percentages. But it's a crime; it's not a percentage and it's not a type of criminal. I realize the question mark indicates a joke of some kind, but even as a joke it doesn't make sense to me.

I admit that the clue for APORT is clever. I was thinking, if you're still at the port, you've been left on the dock, not on board the ship. Never got it until just now.

Flying Pediatrician 5:54 AM  

There was a lot of good fill here (with the notable exception of STKS)! For a 35 year-old, though, these people are just not famous at the same levels. In themers, I think there should be a bit more consistency. I have this little game-within-a-game I play called the “Black and White Test”: if a post-solve Google Image search of the names in the puzzle yields greater than 75% black and white pictures, I am justified in being a little grumpy (today was 100%). Also, I spend a fair bit of time flying in helicopters (mostly the MH-60R Seahawk), and I’ve never heard a rotor WHIR—the awesome thud/chop of the rotor blades (sound of freedom) is far too loud.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

This was a bit of a SLOW RIDE for me, due to knowledge deficits, and vague cluing. It felt like there were many clues in that vague category. One example was [Something a cobbler may hold]. Could it be an awl? Any kind of pie filling? Any kind of SHOE?

So I was constantly looking for confirmations before setting letters in. I was also working hard at cracking the excellent wordplay clues (AMEN, TOAST, BEAR PAW, STEREO, SPEC, USURY). And by the time I filled in my final letter (the D of the cross of SLOW RIDE and DEADSPIN, a Natick for me), my thinking muscles were exhausted and exhilarated, a wow feeling I treasure.

Many thanks, and a strong request for more, please, from the B-boys.

Jofried 6:38 AM  

@Lewis—that was the last square for me too! Had to run the alphabet as I didn’t know the song and the only sports website or channel I know is ESPN. Too many old names for me but I did eventually finish.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

I disagree with the idea that cluing of famous people should tend to the recent. I suspect many more NY Times readers know STEPHEN?DOUGLAS than know Lil NAS X. Ditto the other themers, except ARTHURCCLARKE, who is bit more obscure.

Small Town Blogger 7:02 AM  

The letter “n” begins and ends the word “northern” so are it’s “borders”. I think.

mmorgan 7:15 AM  

I had a decent time with this but had not a clue as to what PREVIOUS and NEXT meant. Oh, now I see. Anticlimactic city.

Not to pick nits, but there is no “A” at the start of the Gertrude Stein quote, though one often sees it (misquoted) that way.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

ENS is beyond obscure. I'll take any rational explanation of it, b/c even googling it turned up essentially nothing.

mmorgan 7:21 AM  

ps — all these names were completely familiar to me but I have never heard of Stephen A. Smith. Sigh...

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

What arrows?

three of clubs 7:44 AM  

Really don't understand the preference for names that will be forgotten within their own lifetimes, Now, who was that guy who wrote that poem about an athlete dying young?

Tommy 7:53 AM  

I did this one on the NYT website and it had no arrows and no [Previous] or [Next], just the clues. Didn't bother me and may have actually made it easier as there was no distraction. Got what they were doing from the title right away so it was just a matter of remembering someone from the clue with the right initials.

Mr. Cheese 7:54 AM  

Finished but never got the theme. So what!
A boring effort. No ahas. zzzzzzzzz

OffTheGrid 7:59 AM  

Here's a relevant video, WATCH HERE Perry Mason fans may enjoy it even more.

Z 7:59 AM  

Seems like a similar ENS clue befuddled people recently. Anyway, @anon7:21 and @anon5:53 - @Small Town Blogger is correct, “northern” begins and ends with the letter N, so is bordered by N. The plural is spelt ENS in crossword puzzles. Word geography is a fairly common crossword cluing trope.

@Sam makes a good point. Why would anyone under a certain age know extinct brands? AMANA still exists, why the decrepit clue?

The arrows in the magazine > the [previous]/[next] in some online versions.

@Anon12:54 - The question isn’t why is STEPHEN A smith yelling at you, it is why do you keep watching the guy who does nothing but yell at you.

LOL at the notion that because a guy has a statue that people actually remember who he was or why he got a statue. Several statues in downtown Detroit, all decent works of art. I had no idea who any of them were. Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” was as much cynical observation as societal prediction.

Cassieopia 8:01 AM  

Second fastest Sunday time for me ever, clocking in at a blistering (for me) 31 minutes. My usual Sunday is around 55. I no longer read puzzle themes until I “get the trick”, so once I saw SAD and Stephen A Douglas, I was able to go through the puzzle and fill in a lot of missing places.

With crosswords, it’s slways amazing to me how if I get just one more letter in a baffling grid section, suddenly it falls like dominos. That is the only explanation I have for why this puzzle skewed so easy for me...once I sussed out the super-simple theme, I suddenly had toeholds everywhere.

I liked the clues for TOAST, GASP, and especially SLED as the clue there (runners support it) had me wondering about the political positions of marathoners.

A decent Sunday with a “meh” - but exceedingly useful - theme.

Jstarrracewalker 8:02 AM  

The “borders” (the first and last letters) of the word NORTHERN are ENS (I.e. the letters N). Yes, a feeble clue.

Suzie Q 8:07 AM  

Anything I had to say has already been said by @ Joe Dipinto, @ JOHN X, and @ Lewis. Spot on, guys!

QuasiMojo 8:12 AM  

First of all it's "Rose is a Rose is a Rose." She was writing about a person. And it's pointless to quote it without including all three roses. Nice to see Alice B. Toklas in the puzzle too. I have her cookbooks. Read "Two Lives" by Janet Malcolm. Very revealing take on the two.

Second, Stephen A. Douglas isn't famous enough? Seriously?

Puzzle was fun but too easy. I was done before my second cup of coffee. I did love seeing It's Greek to Me.

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

My print copy left out the last (right hand) column of downs, so I spent some time trying to make this into a tricky rebus type of puzzle. Couldn't do that, went back and saw that there actually was an 18 Down, for example, and lo, came the down. Also was trying to make what I now find out are arrows into exclamation points, which made no sense. Time for stronger readers.

Knew all the people and all the initials, so yes, am old. Not too old to read Deadspin daily, though, which is irreverent but has some terrific and very funny writers.

Hey @JoeD-today is Animal Day? I've sung at these too. Suggest Bill Staines's "All God's Critters Got A Place in the Choir". Audience will learn the refrain almost instantly.

Swell Sunday but over too soon. Thanks guys, looking forward to more.

Finbarr 8:17 AM  

In the fifties, helicopters were often called whirly birds. I too thought of spin first (too obvious), but saw it would not work with down answers, but that whir (ugh) would.

relicofthe60s 8:19 AM  

I would argue that any educated person should know who these people are, including STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS, GEORGE M. COHAN, and ARTHUR C. CLARKE, Stephen A. Smith may be better known in Rex’s circles, but believe it or not, everyone does not watch ESPN. And yes you could do this with other people (including other people with the same initials, e.g., Harry S Truman), but so what? I was able to fill in all these names with just a few letters.

Twangster 8:20 AM  

I knew Eel River from this:

pmdm 8:26 AM  

Did not get the theme until reading the blogs, so it was an unthemed puzzle for me. That's OK. The drabness was somewhat disappointing.

A crossword theme simply consists of a number of entires that have some concept that unifies them. The concept may or may not involve humor. The concept may or may not be helpful in solving the puzzle. But concepts really do not have any other inherent meaning. They exist as a unifying factor. So I do not at all understand the complain in the write up. I understand disappointment at today's theme (a reaction which I share) but not befuddlement.

oSteve 8:45 AM  

I'm just tickled that I got my full name in the solve. Admittedly across multiple answers, but it's as close to immortality as I'll get.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Fun and easy...

@mericans in Paris 8:55 AM  

Hi all! This weekend I came down to Switzerland, rather than Mrs. 'mericans (who works here) coming up to Paris. Just got back from a long hike along Lake Neuchâtel. Very pretty.

We liked today's crossword just fine; played easy for us. Most of the theme names were not top tier, but certainly ones we had heard of. What we misunderstood was that the arrows were pointing to the previous or next clue. We thought they were pointing to the answer above or below the theme. After we finished, for example, I Googled "IT'S GREEK TO ME", and did get hits related to GEORGE M. COHAN. And RUDE above HUNTER S. THOMPSON made sense. So, for those who figured out the arrows, not knowing the peoples' middle initials shouldn't have mattered: they were given in the next or previous answer.

One thing I did learn about HST, which is a super fun fact, is that Johnny Depp "apparently spent $3 million on firing writer Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon". Pretty cool if true!

(Speaking of RUDE, I couldn't help but smile at the juxtaposition of SPURT and OVUM.)

Another fun fact, ALICE B TOKLAS once wrote a cookbook that included a recipe for hash brownies. Eating one is said to reduce one's REACTION TIME.

O GOD, the Captcha this time asked me to identify palm trees! Much more fun than identifying GMCs and other cars!

kitshef 9:02 AM  

During the solve, I thought to myself that the cross of ORA with ABT was just awful, and would Natick an enormous number of solvers. Much, much later, when I saw the theme, I realized it was a perfectly acceptable cross.

This puzzle spoke to me. We had a book club that ran for about eight years before it went under. During that time, we read SILENT SPRING, HUNTER S THOMPSON’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and ARTHUR C CLARKE’s The Fountains of Paradise.

Thumbs down to the symmetrical WDS and SRS.

“Only in crosswords” list nominee: TEC/TECS.

Z 9:20 AM  

Okay, quick, no googling and no guessing:
1. What party was DOUGLAS a member of?
2. What was his position on Kansas?
3. What office(s) did he hold for which state?
4. Why was he debating Lincoln?
5. When did he die?

Bonus if you know why his position on Kansas is a question.

100 years from now more people will remember DOUGLAS than Smith, but in this moment I have absolutely no doubt that DOUGLAS is at best the second most famous STEPHEN A.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Never heard of Stephen A. Smith. Who is they?

Rube 9:34 AM  

@z...kansas Nebraska act?

Anyway, the problem here is the arrows thing. It is useless in the solve. Yeah it's a cool thing the way the initials are interwoven but it's a waste for solvers. The idea of creating a cool grid or lots of 6s and 7s or no 3 letter words is meaningful only if it affects the solving experience.

I give the constructors credit for the idea but a total fail in con structing a sunday theme for us solvers...the ones who keep the constructors employed

Employment Assistance Program 9:35 AM  

I couldn't tell if the theme was that the three-letter answers were the "famous" part and the names were based on them, or vice versa. Very confusing as to what was what and why.

I guess you gotta take the good with the bad.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Like @Joaquin -- happily the first commenter today -- I didn't understand the arrows. But he sent me to Wordplay where they are explained. (Not all that clearly, mind you, -- it's early; I'm sleepy -- but after I reread the explanation a few times: Aha, there are the initials HST for Hunter S. Thompson. I get it.)

Here's the thing. I wouldn't have missed the arrows if they hadn't been there. You don't need them to get HUNTER S. THOMPSON nor do you need them to get HST. So basically: Who cares?

Once again, this is about what the constructors have done and not what they solver needs to do. It's clever, but it's also pointless. Four stars for an intricate and well-constructed puzzle. Two stars for a puzzle that "played" rather meh for me.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

"What the solver needs to do..."

Outoftowners 9:41 AM  

Clocking in at 1 hour 22 minutes this was a rough one for us, two foreigners on a quest for crossword supremacy. Caught the trick straight away but got stuck on the wrong end of a gangster gun. Three Double Espressos later and some multi language cussing we were victorious.

Birchbark 9:56 AM  

"Some dime-store Auden" wins the ESPY for best moment in an @Rex review, ever. But I do think the world would be a better place if more people said "ACCURST" and "hex'd."

@Z (9:20) -- Douglas was a Democrat who was a Senator from Illinois. He was in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, letting Kansas decide for itself whether it would be free or slave state. This is important because it repealed the Missouri compromise, under which Kansas would have been a free state. I don't know when he died. Guessing I'm mostly right about the rest.

RooMonster 10:03 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I liked the initialism thingamajig. It helped to get the themer names I didn't know. Almost like the initialisms were triple crossed. Even though I hadn't heard of some of them.

Puz had me singing as I solved.
"It's fun to stay at the
It's fun to stay at the

"SLOW RIDE (daw naw naw)
Take it easy (daw naw naw)"
(Har, or however you would spell the guitar riff.)

Filled puz bottom up. Top part was giving me all sorts of fits, until it felt like the ole brain flood gates opened, and Whoosh, the fingers wouldn't stop typing. Weird how that happens.

Know of Lil NAS X only from seeing his name on billboards out here for a DJing gig. Those wacky rappers! Can you get a different tag line/name than Lil? It's a tad overused.

Thought at first Harry S Truman was an author/journalist. Har.

Had OGOD in, but took it out as none of the Downs were working. I found it ended up being correct during my Whoosh spat.

Lots of U-U words for our resident Masked one, HONOLULU, GURUS, FUTURA, USURY. We even get two F's. Not A LOT OF them, but better than none.

Shoutout to @Z, as I got a hearty laugh when I saw exempli gratia in 20A. I now know it's e.g.! The stuff you learn from puzs. RUHR is another one, IBSEN too. Before starting doing puzs regularly, ITS GREEK TO ME on those words, IMO. :-)

Slow REACTION TIMEs can lead to IM A GONER

Joe R. 10:06 AM  

I liked the theme, and it helped me in the solve once I had sussed it out. In the official NYT app, however, I didn’t have any of these arrows or [PREVIOUS]/[NEXT] that people are talking about, it just highlighted the related answer.

I have no idea who this Stephen A Sportsperson you’re talking about is, but STEPHEN A DOUGLAS was a gimme, because I already had SAD filled in (having suffered from it as a child) and had figured out the theme. I live in NYC and I’m a regular theatre-goer, and I had no idea who GEORGE M COHAN was, but the rest of the themers were familiar to me. And Rex, I disagree with you about ARTHUR C CLARKE - anyone who knows his name (which should be a lot of people) is more likely to know it with the middle initial than without.

A few other answers gave me trouble. I confidently put in ACCURSd instead of ACCURST, because it matched the clue. For some reason, I thought that Radarange was a video game, and having the starting and ending A’s, I guessed Amiga. I misread 92D as prefix instead of suffix, and having th leading U, I spent some time wondering if unitext was a thing. And for 93D, I filled in diG IN instead of BEGIN, and then when I changed it, I was still thinking of it as two words and wondered what the heck BEG IN meant.

On the other hand, I was at a Greek Orthodox wedding yesterday, and they talked s lot about BETROTHal during the ceremony, and there were many TOASTs, so those came easily.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

From yesterday (no spoilers) -- Because my paper was hours and hours late being delivered, I didn't do yesterday's puzzle until yesterday evening and I didn't read yesterday's lively blog until just now.

Thank you @Anoa Bob for forwarding that hilarious summing-up of the world's great religions. If you missed it, anyone, go back and take a look. It's an Equal Opportunity send-up and it's a hoot.

@SuzieQ and @GILL -- I, too, avoid plane travel like the plague. @GILL makes it crystal clear that whatever I'm missing in seeing wonderful places is justified by not being held captive to THE ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE THAT AIR TRAVEL HAS BECOME. If any of you are considering a long flight absolutely anywhere, read both of @GILL's comments about 1)her terrible experience and 2)the terrible experience of a friend. You'll cancel whatever you've booked -- I promise you.

Well, actually, some of you won't cancel. A guy I dated a number of years ago who was an outdoorsman, a traveler, and adventurous explained: "In nature, there are migratory animals and there are territorial animals. Both have their place. You, clearly, are a territorial animal."

Just think of me as Thoreau. He spent his entire life wandering around Walden Pond and it never got "old" for him.

Suzy 10:11 AM  

Nice Sunday morning fare. Not too tough, good fill. What’s to complain about? Didn’t know Honolulu,
but changing “lots of” to “ a lot of” made the answer obvious. Thank you Mssrs. Barcin and Barocas!

GILL I. 10:22 AM color me old. But Happy. I so disagree with @Rex today. We all complain about the dreaded three letter clues and today Howard and Victor turned them into the names of some pretty interesting people.
I got the trick at ALICE B TOKLAS and her accompanied ABT. Can you not know of Baryshnikov's (sp?) refurbishing of so many classical ballets for the ABT? Then you have ALICE's life long partner, Gertrude Stein singing A ROSE IS A ROSE. Pretty nifty.
Nothing really held me back. As a matter of fact, I was SAD when this was over. I don't normally gush on Sunday but I thought this was a novel idea.
You'd think that after reading SILENT SPRING that we'd get the "picture" about pesticides. Roundup anybody? So sad the organic food is so expensive. Can someone please explain to me why BRANDO was one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. I see his name and all I can think of is butter.

Jenny 10:24 AM  

I think the arrows were just in the print version. We print and solve on paper; we had arrows indicating where the “initials” going with the names were

Norm 10:34 AM  


Z 10:36 AM  

@birchbark - You left out the reason he was debating Lincoln. And he died surprisingly early, June 1861. He is also noted as the guy who broke with tradition and campaigned for himself. As Plato sort of had Socrates say, Never trust anyone who wants the job

Wanderlust 10:42 AM  

First time (I think) that 1 across was my last entry. Like Rex, I had SPIN and TONY, but unlike him I filled them in and then had a hard time giving them up at the end. This mid-50s person knew all the names but I also know Lil Nas X and other more modern propers. I like a mix of them.

The best thing about this puzzle to me was some really fun cluing (which I love, unlike Rex). Examples: clues for TOAST, BEAR PAW, APORT, USURY, AMEN, GASP, SLEDS. And some good “Huh, who knew?” reactions on CENTS, OVUM, HONOLULU, SWAMP GAS. Another good clue on SLOW RIDE. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose attempts to come up with this one were thwarted by the Eagles.

Agree the theme wasn’t the most exciting but don’t share Rex’s usual apoplexy.

John H 10:53 AM  

Easy, but what a freakin' stupid theme.

davidm 10:54 AM  

So this little arrow keys meant “next” and “previous,” not, as I assumed, “up” and down”? Boy, ya coulda fooled me. In fact, ya did.

I finished the puzzle and had no idea what the theme was. Thanks, Rex, for telling me. I thought when you got to the name’s initial, so you were supposed to read “up” or “down” from the middle initial, depending on the arrow direction, and get something about the person named. So that yields “BI” for ALICE B. TOKLAS, and I thought, was she bi? Or just lesbian? Still, this seemed promising, until I got the other names, and this strategy yielded zilch.

Then, I thought, there must some thematic, arrow-themed connection between GEORGE M. COHAN and OVER THERE? Between ALICE B. TOKLAS and a ROSE IS A ROSE? Nope. Weird.

Now that I know what the theme is, I am utterly underwhelmed. So what?

Being a Civil War buff, I’m very familiar with STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS, and transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates are highly recommended reading. They can all be found online. Lincoln was just outstanding, in his oratory, rhetoric, and above all his incisive reasoning. Douglas was a gassy little bloviator whose naked racism was even worse than Trump’s — at one point he even denied that blacks were human. These debates, of course, were not the sound-bite informercials that we have today, but literally went on for hours, before rambunctious and sometimes unruly crowds.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Guessing I'm mostly right about the rest.

The only part, kind of important, you left out: this led to "Bloody Kansas", the true beginning of the Civil War. Which the Red States don't want to admit, since it confirms that the Civil War was really, really about slavery.

Armchair Editor 11:10 AM  

@relicofthe60's, You wrote " everyone does not watch ESPN". You mean "Not everyone watches ESPN". BIG difference.

oopsydeb 11:13 AM  

Arrows? They put arrows in the print edition? How messy. On the NYT site version of the puzzle, the two associated clues were highlighted together. So when I first had my cursor in 25A, the clue for 24A was also highlighted. And somehow that was enough for me to guess correctly that the connection would be initials. Didn't get the actual answers for 24A and 25A until later when I had more downs.

Rex, people might know of ARTHUR C CLARKE but not know his middle initial? Not a chance. Other than ALICE B TOKLAS, I think of his middle initial being the most known. No one refers to Arthur Clarke if they're talking about the author.

I'm 51 and didn't know GEORGE M COHAN, but got it with crosses. STEPHEN A DOUGLAS is not an obscure name, though I disagree with others that his name will still be commonly known in 100 years. We'll have another 100 years of history to include in curricula by then. Some content will be cut from current history curricula. HUNTER S THOMPSON--also not obscure. Being dead is not the same as being obscure. Would you complain about obscurity of F SCOTT FITZGERALD in a puzzle?

I thought there were a few good clues but overall a kind of meh puzzle.

Nampa Bob 11:27 AM  

I’m old. Still listen to old radio shows. Sam Spade, Richard Diamond, Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe... buncha others...
Shamus? Yep.
Gumshoe? That, too.
P.I.? Of course.
Tec? Not ever. Seriously. Never heard it. Tired of seeing it.
Easy for a Sunday, but a pleasant time. Of course I knew the middle initials. I’m old.
Now, get off my lawn.

davidm 11:28 AM  

@Z, Douglas and Lincoln were running for a U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 1858. Back then there was no popular vote, and the state legislature ending up picking Douglas. Douglas was a Democrat, Lincoln a member of the new Republican Party, which had succeeded the Whigs.

The main bone of contention in the debate was, obviously, slavery. Lincoln and the Republicans were not abolitionists — did not favor abolition of slavery in the states where it existed — but they wanted to prevent its extension to the territories.

Douglas favored what was called “pop sov” — popular sovereignty — allowing the people of the territories to decide whether theirs would be slave or free states. The flashpoint for all this was “bleeding Kansas,” where a mini-civil war was already taking place over whether Kansas should be admitted to the union as slave or free.

Complicating the picture, as Lincoln repeatedly pointed out, was that the U.S. Supreme Court had handed down its Dred Scott ruling, which held that slaves had no rights that any white man was bound to respect. Lincoln argued that this ruling opened the floodgates to letting slavery not only into the territories, but actually into free states as well — because slaves had no rights and were held as property, and no one can legally prevent another from bringing his property into any state. Thus, Lincoln said, the way was open to the actual nationalization of slavery — this was what he meant by his “house divided” oration — that the nation would ultimately become either all free or all slave, but could not continue indefinitely as it was.

Although Douglas won the Senate seat, the victory proved to be his undoing. The Democrats nominated him to face Lincoln for president in 1860. But the party split in two precisely over Pop Sov, with southern Democrats arguing, as Lincoln had foreseen, that Dred Scott had made Pop Sov irrelevant — that any southerner had the right to take his slave property into any state, and no popular vote was required. The dissident Democrats nominated their own candidate for president, Breckenridge, and then a fourth party formed. Lincoln won in 1860 solely because of the split among Democrats. He took only 39 percent of the popular vote.

Douglas did die in 1861, but before dying he backed Lincoln on the Ciivl War, like Lincoln denying that the south had a right to secede.

QuasiMojo 11:39 AM  

@Z your definition of fame often seems to stem by how popular a person or thing is based on google or other internet criteria. Fame is also about lasting significance and cultural importance, not just random popularity. Douglas is a key figure in Lincoln's life and therefore of hostoric importance so long as this democracy endures. The statue of George M. Cohan as well is right in the heart of the theater district. At 46th and 7th. So it's not just some random statue downtown or in a park that is easily ignored (except perhaps by legions staring at their phones). It's a city landmark with obvious cultural ties to that site. Hard to miss. Or dismiss.

PS erratum: I meant to type "Rose is a rose is a rose" for the correct Stein quote (it comes from a poem) but autocorrect added the extra capitals.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Anyone know why "WDS" is the answer for "MS. Units?"

TJS 12:05 PM  

ON THE OTHER HAND, Stephan A Smith is famous for ...uh...Oh yeah, apologies!!I was going to mention one that I remembered, but when I tried You-Tube for details, Whoa ! Apparently this really is his stock in trade.
@Oopsydeb, I thought I had put my obsessive thinking re. Rex and The Great Gatsby behind me. Now you had to go and include OFL and FSF in the same sentence. Back to therapy.
Thought this was one of the best Sundays in a long time. Atleast it required some thinking.

jberg 12:10 PM  

@Quasi—the clue is “Truism based on...” the poem, so I think the initial A is correct.

jberg 12:13 PM  

@mericans, that was my problem exactly. I spent a long time thinking about the answers above or below the themes, but never thought to look up or down in the list of clues. Doh!

jberg 12:16 PM  

Don’t know when he died, that one’s tough—but that. Smith guy is irrelevant, because the need was for an SAD name.

SouthsideJohnny 12:17 PM  

Hard to even make up anything dumber than the clue and answer for 94D. Not cute or witty, just plain stupid. Does Der Spiegel include rudimentary math problems in English, French or Swahili just to be cute (if so, they are also dummkopfen). Similarly, 20A should never have seen the light of day. Add in FUTURA (aren’t there like a thousand different typefaces - who cares ?) and the other nonsense that OFL pointed out and this one missed by a mile. Would be better to have a themeless Sunday than this contrived mess.

fiddleneck 12:20 PM  

@Z.. I think the radar range was the first microwave, or the first fancy programmable one with its own cookbook, so that makes Amana fairly memorable. Mine also went “decrepit” earlier than simpler ones.

David 12:32 PM  

Thanks Joe DiPinto for pointing out the connections. Makes me like the puzzle much more. You didn't mention that Stephen A. Douglas crossed the "socioeconomic" divider. In my lifetime those tracks were more a racial divider; the poor white folks in town weren't redlined (unless they were Jewish, but Jews were redlined to a different place in town and not "the other side of the tracks").

If the entire polity were schooled in the Lincoln/Douglas debates they'd ignore the multi-person canned-question-and-answer-hour jokes of "debates" we get every four years now. Just read lots and go to their web sites, that's much more informative.

What's a "tec"? Wiki says it's a shortening of "detective." Who knew? And who the heck is this other Stephen A. everyone knows, and what's deadspin? We all live different lives Rex, some things will be unfamiliar to each of us. Lil Nas X has been all over the media lately, how could one miss him or his fun song? In the 80s there were Black Cowboys down around Brownsville (Bklyn); I hope they're still there.

Give my regards to Broadway. I commute to and from Herald Sq every weekday. There's a statue of Horace Greeley over there. Horace apparently had no middle name. Look this up: one of Cagney's best movies was Yankee Doodle Dandy, it must be on Netflix. A bit over the top with jingoism, but it was a wartime movie, and times were different.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Toss m&e into the "didn't get the theme mcguffin while solvin" bin. Just kept hopin the clue arrows would eventually mean somethin to the M&A brain, but they never did. Did know all the themer folks and their middle initials, tho. Not so much, @RP's SAS dude. Don't watch much TV, tho.

In retrospect, like some others, I *was* caught wonderin, mid solvequest, why two real bright constructioneers couldn't fill that little ORA/ABT puzgrid section a whole lot better.

staff weeject pick: Any of the theme initials, but I reckon ABT is the sentimental pick of the little litter.

DEADSPIN? I guess I don't do much sports websites, either. [Go Twins, tho. And hurry it up.]


Puztheme was a bit dull -- especially since I didn't get it in time to help out. What made this here SunPuz for m&e was the subtly feisty clues. Those put up so much fight, they were funny in their own right [and no, M&A is not a poet].

Thanx for gangin up on us, HUB & VUB. (Some wishful liberties taken there, with middle initials, which really should have been included in the SunPuz masthead, in this particular case.)

Masked & Anonymo12Us


Maddiegail 12:44 PM  

Anonymous 11:52 WDS I would guess its abb for words(part of a manuscript.). I'd like to know what's Rex's beef with good ol' Harry?

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Initials that woulda given away the theme mcguffin to M&A in a NY minute:

Roger. O. Thornhill = ROT


QuasiMojo 12:59 PM  

@anonymous 11:52. WDS is short for words, MSS is manuscripts. Not a great clue or answer.

@jberg thanks! I see the light now.

IHOP cook 1:05 PM  

Next time you are cracking an egg into your skillet for breakfast remember the clue for ovum. That lovely egg you are looking at is a single cell. Cool, huh?

old timer 1:15 PM  

As I solved this one, I kept saying to myself, this puzzle is extremely clever on many, many fronts. Oh, OFL's comments are right on, but for a Sunday, this was delightful and Easy for the most part. SLOWRIDE was a near-Natick for me, but I MADE DO with SWAMPGAS, and the rest was history.

Now as an early subscriber to Rolling Stone, I had no trouble with HST, and loved every one of his books -- all but his first book appeared first in RS, including his gonzo trip to Las Vegas, and his hilarious and totally libelous coverage of the presidential campaign.

And although I totally forgot STEPHENADOUGLAS's middle initial, I am a big fan of Lincoln and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. DOUGLAS said he had a reasonable position on the Negro. He believed white men should in any struggle always be superior to black men -- but if there was a struggle between Negroes and crocodiles, he was for the Negro. Lincoln was all in favor of white supremacy himself, but believed all men, white or black, had a God-given right to profit from the fruits of their own labor. Slavery was therefore wrong, and as he showed in a brilliant speech at Cooper Union in New York, the founders had almost to a man voted to bar slavery from territories North of the Ohio, and were so ashamed of the institution of slavery they resorted to vast circumlocutions to keep the words "slave" and "slavery" out of the Constitution, which nonetheless recognized that where slavery existed, the Federal government could not interfere with it.

It was Chief Justice Taney who held in the Dred Scott case that the Negro had no rights anyone was bound to respect, and even if a Negro could be granted full citizenship within a state (as was the case in New England), he could never be a citizen of the United States as a whole. This was a shocking reversal of the rule established in the Constitution that the citizens of any state retained all privileges and immunities accruing to citizenship, wherever in the country they went -- including, obviously, the right to go to court to enforce their rights.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Words in a manuscript

sixtyni yogini 1:27 PM  

Did not enjoy. ��. Boring difficult - not fun difficult.
On the other hand �� there were some good mind stretching clues.

What? 1:35 PM  

This was not a crossword puzzle - it was a crossword plus a puzzle. Finished it - it was easy - now the puzzle (theme). Initials? This is a theme? I think we’ve arrived at FOOI - Finally Out Of Ideas. It left me the feeling that I wasted my time.

Bill L. 1:46 PM  

@mericans in Paris said...

One thing I did learn about HST, which is a super fun fact, is that Johnny Depp "apparently spent $3 million on firing writer Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon". Pretty cool if true!

It’s true. The Metro article omitted the coolest part – the cannon was inside a two-thumbed fist clenching a peyote button and mounted atop a dagger – 153-feet high altogether!
Read about it here.

Woke Millenial 1:56 PM  

Stephen A. Douglas was a racist who shouldn’t be allowed in any self respecting crossword puzzle. Same goes for Abraham Lincoln.

Wanderlust 2:00 PM  

Took me a while to figure that one out too. MS. is a magazine, so its units are words. The period helps.

Hungry Mother 2:05 PM  

Way too easy, but I had limited time, so I appreciated the break. Somehow, I knew all of the names and found the theme both easy and helpful. No compaints, but I like a bigger Sunday challenge.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

@Woke Millenial: So much sarcasm for a Sunday.

puzzlehoarder 2:22 PM  

Excellent Sunday puzzle. No puns no dad jokes. The theme didn't insult anyone's intelligence just straight up information. I didn't pay enough attention to the theme to notice the connection between the acronyms and the names until after solving.

The first four names were completely familiar. The last two I came into from the East and I did need a letter or two from the crosses to put in the first names.

There were some good clues. I especially liked the one for USURY.

Top tier commenter 2:22 PM  

I really liked this puzzle a lot but I do see the difference between the experience with my iPad NYT app experience and print solvers. I got the idea right away and it helped me solve SUSANBANTHONY as “famed rights activist” knowing that there had to be an initial involved.

As for “top tier” famous people...WHAT? There aren’t THAT many that are always identified with their middle initial. My lazy brain came up with Frederick O. Douglass but FOD would be undoable. I do not think age makes a difference in this. These are all arguably historical/famous literary/music figures. Stephen A (ESPN guy) May be more well known today (I watch games on ESPN and tune out the blather) but doubt whether he will stand the test of time. However, I checked with my 30 year old son and he knew ALL the theme folks. To HST, he said, um yeah, gonzo journalist? I was actual surprised he knew of Alice B. Toklas.

I will say that the Amana question leaned OLD but Lil Nas X leaned young. I thought this puzzle had something for everyone.

Also an anonymous early on asked about the connection with usury and percentage. The crime of usury is committed if you loan money above a certain percentage interest rate. Hmmm. That would be slightly more than most credit cards.

Joe Dipinto 2:30 PM  

@M&A – "North By Northwest" – ROT on the matchbook cover! One of my fave Hitchcocks.

@David 12:32 – I'm not sure I follow your comment. I was pointing out that the puzzle *didn't* make connections that it could have – or, in the case of Cohan and "Over There", most definitely should have. That lapse in particular actually seems embarrassing.

@Pablo – the feast of St. Francis was Friday but I guess most churches do the blessing on the nearest Sunday. We had a low turnout – only about 8 or 10 doggies showed up.

DevoutAtheist 2:53 PM  

Dogs that have someone to take them to church are already "blessed". What has god done lately for homeless and abused animals?

Fred Romagnolo 3:13 PM  

@Mmorgan: clue said "based on." The AMANA clue said "classic, people should read the clues. @fiddleneck: There is an early Panasonic microwave so early it's in the Smithsonian, mine still works (at 500 watts)! @maddiegail: Rex is Politically Correct, Truman was an OLD HETEROSEXUAL WHITE MAN who dropped the Atom Bomb on non-white people (Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, and the Manchurian medical experiments don't count)

PS 3:38 PM  

None if the people were obscure to me; their existence helped me solve the puzzle. Loved the connections (Toklas/Stein etc) noted above. I have no idea who the other Stephen A. is. Thanks for an older nerd puzzle.

Ethan Taliesin 4:02 PM  

Was NOT feeling this one today. At all.

Slow goings, didn't know GEORGE M COHAN or STEPHEN A DOUGLAS and had to cheat (with autofill prompts) probably like three or four times--and still my time was abysmal!

I'm impressed with Rex's 10-min time. It would probably take me nearly that long to reset and refill the grid a second time.


Old Ex-blogger 4:04 PM  

@ Fred Romagnolo, You don't comment as often as you used to but I love it when you do!

Hank 4:19 PM  

Regarding Joe Dipinto's "Easter egg" comment at 12:53 AM ...

HST also covered a 1980 Marathon in Honolulu in his work "The Curse of Lono", keying into another answer (2D) and another clue (75D).

I wonder too if there is a nod being given to Ernestine Louise Rose (January 13, 1810 – August 4, 1892) - a Jewish suffragist, abolitionist, and freethinker. Her career spanned from the 1830s to the 1870s, making her a contemporary to the much more widely celebrated suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (per Wikipedia)

Archambeau 4:21 PM  

Alice B. Toklas was no more a memoirist than Humbert Humbert was a novelist. And Gertrude Stein did not quip "A rose is a rose," but "A rose is a rose is a rose." That's zero for two on the Stein front today.

Unknown 4:33 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Is a crossword supposed to be a popularity contest? I don't think so.

pabloinnh 4:50 PM  

@JoeD-You had almost half as many dogs as we had attendees at our little church here in NH. Since it's Worldwide Communion Sunday, I got to accompany "He's Got the Whole World" for the closing, which we call a "detroit". Well the opening is an "introit", right? I was up to the task as it requires two chords and I could pick the key. Went for D, because anything in D is happy.

IrishCream 5:27 PM  

Only yokels go to Times Square, so...

JC66 5:44 PM  


Not just for yokels. Ever been to a Broadway show?

Joe Dipinto 6:10 PM  

@Pablo – Right, but not D minor, which is the saddest of all the keys. The only vaguely beastly song we did was "All Creatures Of Our God And King." The "Detroit" for the closing hymn – I like that.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

I'm cracking up picturing Rex going to a Dallas whorehouse and teaching Beowulf.

Woke Gen Xer 6:48 PM  

@irishCream- spoken like someone who has never been to New York and thinks every day is New Year’s Eve. ps yokel is a pejorative please refrain from using on this PC blog.

Z 7:58 PM  

@quasimojo - Well actually, my notion of fame comes from a poet:


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

@davidm - Nice history lesson.

@Wanderlust - The magazine works today but I’m pretty sure ms. is the abbreviation for “manuscript,” and some places one might submit a manuscript have word limits. Since the “ms.” doesn’t always appear at the front of the clue, you might want to file this tidbit away.

@David12:32 - file TEC and TEK away, they will appear in a puzzle near you again soon.

@fiddleneck - I could find all kinds of info about Radar Ranges except when it stopped being a model name. To me it screams “1975,” making the clue decrepit. I don’t know, though. Maybe they were around a lot longer than I remember.

kitshef 9:38 PM  

@Z - they were till making Radaranges (note: one word) as late as 1985 per this site:

ghostoflectricity 10:18 PM  

Correct from the commenters: Alice B. Toklas did not write "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas," in spite of its name; Gertrude Stein wrote it. Similarly, Stein wrote "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" (not "A rose is a rose" or "A rose is a rose is a rose," at least in the original; she did use variations of the phrase she had originated at other points in her life, both speaking and writing.

As for the rest of this puzzle: three-letter acronyms preceding or following themers, with upward or downward arrows (at least in the print edition)- so f***ing what? That's a theme? Overall reaction for me: somewhere between "meh" and "sheesh!".

BTW, while we're on the subject of Stein: my understanding was that, assertive and pioneering as she was in public and in her literary art, within the confines of her relationship with Toklas, she was meek and submissive. Toklas was, according to what I've read, domineering and jealous: of Stein's success, of her friendships with other writers and artistic types, and even of her past romantic relationships. According to accounts I've read, Toklas even forced Stein to change the word "may" to "can" in the manuscript of one of her works because Stein had had a relationship with a woman named May prior to her relationship with Toklas. Stein did as she was told, even though that she knew the word substitution made the text awkward and silly-sounding in spots, because she feared Toklas's retribution if she didn't.

Anonymous 10:39 PM  

Y'all know that Alice B Took as wrote her own autobiography, right? Just because it wasn't the book written by Stein doesn't mean she didn't write one.

VancouverNana 11:17 PM  

As an always and forever Perry Mason devotee, thank you! And thanks for the “clue”. 😇

PatKS 7:12 AM  


PatKS 7:27 AM  

Blah Boring
Never got the trick until I came here.
Had trouble in mid east section because I NEVER heard of Arthur Clarke in my life, thought clue finders was Dets or Teks. I also never heard of Slow Ride. But then again I never listened to Foghat in 1976. I had a life. Didn't know ACC or care to remember it. Didn't like Pithy. As a kid I loved Cagney so George M. Cohan was easy. I've seen Yankee Doodle Dandy many times.
Never heard of Stephen A. Smith either BTW. Wish the initials were all I, P, or O or at least spelled something. Also, I've never heard anyone say I'm a goner with the exception of some old cook in a cowboy movie maybe who got shot. It's usually I'm screwed or what Trump said. Wds in MS. was also pretty awful.
Have a great week Rex!

rondo 11:45 AM  

No fear and loathing here, or OVERTHERE. Got HUNTERSTHOMPSON after coming down out of the NW, followed by HST and that locked it in. Knew of all those folks. Read a bunch of HST and ACC; there used t be a plaque in my hometown whereSAD spoke, still have a few SAB dollars; GEORGE and ALICE famous enough. If I see STEPHEN A. Smith's face on ESPN I immediately change to anything else. I've met Victor B. and he seems to be a thoughtful guy, it shows in this puz.

Diana, LIW 12:22 PM  

DEADSPIN/SLOWRIDE my downfall. Even there I knew most of the letters.

The rest must have been fairly easy, as I was done before 9 on a Sunday. Never happens.

Not sure how anyone could not have heard of CLARKE, but...(see above)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 12:27 PM  

I could have done without the photo of Smith, whose pontifications seem endless. I can't stand that guy. Also those big capped parenthetical "directions" in the theme clues. Not necessary. Just let the clues alone and you're fine.

Sunday easy, with a deep theme and the attendant fill woes, although not screamingly awful. ACCURST is obviously contrived, but what're ya gonna do? Intersecting co-DODs: SUSANBANTHONY and Twila THARP, both icons of their fields. You go, girls! Par.

rondo 12:57 PM  




rainforest 7:06 PM  

A plethora of mind-bending clues made the puzzle for me. Like @rondo, I picked up the theme at HST once I realized that was the anagram for HUNTER S THOMPSON *and* saw that those symbols in front of the themers were arrows (very hard to discern in my paper).
Knowing that enabled me to get SBA and ABT.

Mostly a trick to please the constructors, the "theme" trickery nevertheless was appreciated.

Joshua K. 4:05 AM  

@davidm: Lincoln did not win the 1860 election only because of the Democratic Party splitting. If you count only the states where Lincoln won over 50% of the vote, he still would have had an Electoral College majority.

Judy 4:01 PM  

I, as a senior person, was grateful for a puzzle built around people I have actually heard of, instead of current pop-culture and sports icons.

Dude 7:52 PM  

Another psych hospital worker? Cool.

GeorginA 4:38 PM  

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