Asian metropolis of 28+ million / SUN 11-10-19 / Tennis player with record 377 cumulative weeks ranked No 1 / 1980s auto imports based on Fiat / Speed skater who won five golds at 1980 Lake Placid Olympics / Mughal emperor of India known as Great / Cinematographic innovation of 1970s / Captain played twice in film by Charles Laughton

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium (slow for me, but thematically easy, I think) (11:12)


THEME: "Double Sixes" — wacky phrases with six double letters in a row:

Theme answers:
  • BASSI IN NEED DOODLE (23A: Low singers, short on money, draw idly?)
  • DOES SAAB BOOKKEEPING (37A: Works as an accountant for a Swedish aerospace company?)
  • QUEEN NOOR ROOMMATES (53A: People who share an apartment with a Jordanian royal?)
  • ISAAC COOLLY YEEHAWS (75A: Designer Mizrahi shouts like a cowboy in a nonchalant way?)
  • SWIM MEET TEEN NEEDLED (94A: Headline after an adolescent at a pool competition is made fun of?)
  • ENROLLEES SEEM MEEK (112A: Matriculated students appear to be timid?) (why is "to be" in the clue???)
Word of the Day: WHO (73A: 50,000-watt clear-channel radio station in Iowa for which Ronald Reagan was once a sportscaster) —
WHO (1040 kHz "Newsradio 1040") is a commercial AM radio station in Des Moines, Iowa. The station is owned by iHeartMedia and carries a news/talk radio format.
WHO broadcasts with 50,000 watts, the maximum power permitted for commercial AM stations. It uses a non-directional antenna. WHO dates back to the early days of broadcasting and is a Class Aclear-channel station. With a good radio, the station can be heard over much of the Central United States during nighttime hours. During daytime hours, its transmitter power and Iowa's flat land (with near-perfect soil conductivity) gives it at least secondary coverage of most of Iowa, as well as parts of IllinoisMissouriNebraskaKansasWisconsinMinnesota and South Dakota. It is Iowa's primary entry point station in the Emergency Alert System. [...] 
Future United States President Ronald Reagan worked as a sportscaster with WHO from 1932 to 1937. Among his duties were re-creations of Chicago Cubs baseball games. Reagan received details over a teleprinter for each play and would act as if he were in the stadium, reporting on the game while seeing it from the press box. Many radio stations used this re-creation system until sports networks became more common. (wikipedia)
• • •

Extremely not my jam or idea of a good time. The themers weren't so much hard to get as they were dreary to get. Extremely forced. So much so, that any humor is mostly drained out of them. As for the rest of it, it was off my wavelength at every turn. Felt like an enormous slog, despite my enormously average time. There's nothing really to say about this theme. There it is. Six double-letters in a row ... that is ... what those answers all have. No tricks. No gimmicks. No nothing but a bunch of tortured premises and awkward "?" clues. I get that this scratches some people's fun itches, but it just made me itchy. I had no trouble putting most of the themers together, but I had all kinds of trouble with understanding what much of the non-theme clues were going for. There was a GRAIL at the Last Supper? There's such a thing as a MOONBOW?? DELHI has *how many* inhabitants!?!? There's an apostrophe-S in PIRATE ('s) BOOTY?!?! And wbat the hell is up with this absolutely gratuitous Ronald Reagan content? And right under Liz CHENEY? Ugh, yuck, stop. WHO can be so many things? Why this dumb radio station? I mean, you've got WHO crossing HOW, you could've done something clever (or faux-clever) with that. Don't you raise a stink? And at any rate, that phrase is dated. I dunno. I just couldn't find much to enjoy here. It's been a good week up til now, for the most part. Law of averages, I guess. And this puzzle isn't empircally bad. It's just for someone not named me.


So many points of hesitation or bafflement. Clues on ENRON (20A: Case study in many business ethics classes) and DRUMS (10A: Skins, so to speak) and USDA (12D: National School Lunch Program org.) were all rough for me. I thought the cream sauce (29A: Served in a certain cream sauce) was ALFREDO. I don't think DANDY equals [First-rate]. To me, it's good, fine. In fact, fine and DANDY. I had DA-DY in place and even then nearly wrote in DADDY (just 'cause it made a word). Had OH at the beginning of 55D: Cry of dismay (OY VEY!) and so misremembered the dumb cars as HUGOS (sure sounded right) (62A: 1980s auto imports based on the Fiat). Wanted KEEP ON for 66A: Not doff and could not come up with a synonym for "keep" (?!). Wanted the "hay" to be in a LOFT (that's why they call them "hay lofts" and not "hay BARNs," ugh). Forgot Eric HEIDEN existed. Don't think of a simple SHRIMP as a "food item." Found clue on KODAK really hard because film is dead and those ads (and the whole concept of a "Kodak moment") = exceedingly bygone. Something something YALE, whatever (78D: The Collegiate School, today). Calvin / ALVIN, man am I bad at those type of clues (84A: Man's name that becomes another man's name when a "C" is put in front). CHAIR BEDS!?!?! LOL What the hell are those? (76D: Alternatives to sleeper sofas) They sound dreadful. No one literally no one calls "jeans" (a real word!) DENIMS. As you can probably tell, I'm just glad this one is over. See you tomorrow (or next week, if you're of those Sunday-only-type people!).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. the Vox crossword puzzle a. exists, b. has been unbelievably terrible, and c. ditched their regular constructor for a new constructor yesterday and the puzzle was actually good. Here it is (the 9 November puzzle).

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

113 comments:

Joe Dipinto 12:22 AM  

Alvin Tostig has a son today,
And he shall be right in the middle of the puzzle

– lyrics by Bernie Taup(e)in

I liked the themers better after I finished and looked back over them. It was easy during the solve to disregard actual words, since filling in strings of doubles was the name of the game. Having varying amounts of letters bracketing the doubles was odd, but whatever.

The one objectionable answer, imo, is SOBBER. Nothing else really grates, but nothing really wows either. And again an awful lot of proper names. Not one of the best Sundays, but passable.

Ian & Sylvia will be bringing back dinner later.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

The Holy GRAIL is from the last supper!

jae 12:23 AM  

Easy-medium. Goofy enough to be amusing. Liked it.

If anyone is looking for a tough Sat. to offset yesterday’s easy one, I recommend Byron Walden’s puzzle from March 12, 2005.

Robin 12:32 AM  

Ooooh, nice job highlighting Eric HEIDEN in the buzz screenshot. It's not that he won 5 golds at '80 Winter Olympics, it's that he won at all distances, from the sprint to the 10k. With sports having become hyper-specialized over the past couple decades, you can just about bet your house that will never happen again in Olympic speedskating.

Otherwise, not impressed by the theme. Maybe as an effort of construction, it's cool, but as a solver. Meh.

chefwen 12:42 AM  

I was pretty sure that this was not going to be at the top of Rex’s hit parade, and boy, was I right. Not on the top of mine either, but I did kinda, sorta get a kick out of it. Fun seeing all those double letters together, but I’m easily amused. I did get a chuckle or two out of the long ones. BASSI IN NEED DOODLE comes out on top.

Joel 12:59 AM  

I mean, the GRAIL in question is the Grail, the Holy Grail. The stuff of legends, holy specifically because of its connection to the Last Supper. That seems like an okay clue there, even if the rest of the puzzle is tedious.

puzzlehoarder 1:03 AM  

Not a bad Sunday. DVORAK and HEIDEN required some work. I was so sure of RAINBOW I hesitated on BOOTY until KODAK cleared things up. There was enough puzzling to make up for those last two softballs.

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

"There was a GRAIL at the Last Supper?"

Dude, that is the definition of GRAIL. There is only the one. Look it up.

Cyclist227 1:30 AM  

I actually enjoyed this one. I had to work a little harder on some of the fill than usual for a Sunday, which have become too easy and predictable.

Molasses 1:35 AM  

Liked it pretty well, and found the long theme answers sort of helpful - if I could get a bit of it, I could get a bit more from the double letters - but ENOS/ENSLER and ROLFE/ROREM were Naticks for me. Pure guesses. Guessed right on the N in ENOS, and eventually hit on the R in ROLFE, and the app told me I was done.

Took me way too long to get GRAIL - I've seen Excalibur and the Monty Python movie and the Indiana Jones movie enough times each it should have been obvious.

Loren Muse Smith 1:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex M 1:41 AM  

THE Grail was at the Last Supper dude. The Holy Grail - maybe you've heard of it? They made a neat lil film about a history professor searching for it with his dad back in '89... ("They" being Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, and Sean Connery. Get with it Rex.)

Loren Muse Smith 1:42 AM  

h heck yeah – this one is definitely my fun itch jam whatever. Forced? Sure. That’s part of the fun. I’ll take forced all day to be shown phrases with six double letters in a row. I. Loved. This. They’re viable enough to be clued at all, which is remarkable. Nothing ridiculous like RACCOON NAAN NEEDED or BALLOON NOOK KEEPER. I HAVE THIS GINORMOUS PHOTO OF FEET TO OFFLOAD.

And our @Lewis – man oh man his cup’s going to runneth over.

FWIW – I say MAKE A STINK.

I had never heard of a MOONBOW, either, but was glad to learn it was a Thing.

Life HACK – I’m powerless *not* to stop scrolling through my Facebook feed resenting all the Thankful Grateful Blessed My Life Is So Wonderful posts and watch, stupefied, all the life hacks. Where do these people think of these things? I always try to remember a few so that I can to give them test drive but promptly forget when I resume scrolling and notice my ex-boyfriend Tommy’s wife on her own Harley and looking really blessed.

Peter Gordon - I’ll remember this one for a long time.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

So what is the DEA that's a "deal breaker?" Is this about the Drug Enforcement Agency breaking up drug deals? It seems like a stretch, but I can't think of an alternate explanation.

Hank 2:13 AM  

Very enjoyable.

The themers were consistently good (the quality of the clue and the quality of the matching answer) aside from being so impressive for their craft.

ENRON was an instafill. Also DRUMS.

Once I groked the extended double letter pattern in the long acrosses it revealed several missing letters which I could fill in without any supporting word fill and so that led to solving many associated missing downs. And of course it made those acrosses into a different type of mini puzzle.

Many names, but easy to tackle.

Two actors, two actresses, a film character, a set of film director/writer brothers, a Simpson's cartoon character, three composers, three athletes, an emperor, a queen, a senator, an author, a singer, a missionary, a playwright, an inventor, a colonist, a fashion designer, two fellows from the old testament and a cat from the comics.

I probably missed one or two in that list. Where was the Nobel laureate ?

They must have been in OSLO !



Solverinserbia 3:26 AM  

Some awful fill. I had a DNF on three naticks.

HEIDEN/DEA*
ROLFE/ROREM
ENOS/ENSLER

Total garbage fill.

Why clue WHO like that? It's a word.

*I now see that DEA is drug enforcement admin and it's clue is semi-cute but when crossing total nonsense I'd prefer a more straightforward clue.

@mericans in Paris 5:24 AM  

Hi all. Real quick, as it's my birthday and I have to get ready for lunch. After a slow start, Mrs. 'mericans and I ran through the puzzle pretty quickly, but then got stuck with some of the PPP crosses, such as REN-RICCI and ENOS-ENSLER. But we guessed right, so no errors.

I agree with the others about the holy GRAIL. Totally fair that clue. Hay there! = BARN was a bit tough, but also fair. I once lived on a farm, and we had a BARN in which we stored hay (and a cow and two ponies, and a small tractor) ... in the hay loft of course.

On DELHI, I'm partially with Rex, but for a different reason. There are not that many monster-sized cities in Asia with 5 letters. Just DELHI, Dhaka, and Tokyo. "Metropolis" in the clue presumably is synonymous with "metropolitan area", and thus includes more people than "city proper". But to get to 28+ million, the clue should have specified "urban area", at least according to Wikipedia.

I can't abide cousin Liz CHENEY, but that doesn't mean she should be barred from crossword puzzles. Yes, you read that right, cousin. I've never met her, but she is a distant (4th to 6th) cousin on my mother's side, according to the family tree.

Finally, CHAIR BEDs exist. They are, necessarily, not very wide, but otherwise not necessarily dreadful. Don't know whether this photo will upload:

https://images.app.goo.gl/wTUcT9NC4vbTDcLt5

Loved yesterday's puzzle, by the way. Scored a personal best on time, as I see a lot of other people did, too.

P.S., Stupid reCAPTCHA today: confused a silo with a chimney.

Dawn Urban 6:07 AM  

As a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday kind of solver, this is the FIRST Sunday puzzle finished correctly in 2 years.

At 1-1/2 hours, felt like I was off the porch, running with the big dogs! (embarassed emoji face)

Enjoyed Hay there! BARN. Old enough to remember KODAK moment.

Lewis 6:11 AM  

Yes, @loren, l, your resident alphadoppeltotter, am lying on the couch, patting my forehead with a wet cloth, half swimming in ecstasy and half drowning in overload, what with 36 theme-based double letters, plus 20 additional ones in the puzzle. My description of today's puzzle can be found in yesterday's: SUPER FREAK.

Feat puzzles are sometimes not fun to solve, but this one, IMO, was. I loved trying to figure out the theme answers, and counting the double letters I had in my partially revealed theme answers, to figure out how many more there were to go. I also learned and love MOONBOW.

I still wonder how Peter came up with these, but however he did, I'm glad for it, and I'll double down on that.

Charles Flaster 6:43 AM  

Love the construction.
Thanks PG.

mmorgan 7:02 AM  

There must be a reason for this puzzle to exist, but so far I haven't found it. Just for the record, I'm someone who likes just about every puzzle, every day. I assume Rex will shred the themers, as well he should. They were hideous, though maybe sometimes solving sone of them gave a short-lived scintilla of "aha!" But once solved, blecch!!! Always happy to see DVORAK (although DON HO, not so much), and I do have a fondness for QUEEN NOOR (I inherited a couch and a phone from her in an apartment in Philadelphia in the 70s; long story). KTEL is crossword-worthy and ALLTHERE is mildly offensive but okay, and the KODAK clue was kinda cool in an iconic way. Maybe a few others, too. But I really can't recall being so hostile to themers even on a Sunday, and I'm still struggling to find a justification for this puzzle to exist.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Loved this easy puzzle....but ALL THERE is unkind.......
Despite what is transpiring in DC, society is becoming more sensitive to others...
So stop it!

Anon 7:42 AM  

Missed on TIT for TAT which kind of makes sense in a sexting way. lol

pabloinnh 7:43 AM  

Since I think stunt puzzles (Stunt Puzzles!) are fun, I thought a great big stunt puzzle was great big fun. I'm with LMS in that the tortured cluing didn't bother me at all, it's what you need to get your double letters trick fulfilled, and also silly. I mean, if you can come up with DO GEESE SEE GOD to get a palindrome, why not? Same thing here.

Add me to the list of people who think OFL should have heard of the GRAIL as a major component of the last supper. C'mon, man.

My only nit with this one is that the printed version is the definition of "fine print" and my reading glasses were in the bedroom where my wife was sleeping and, considerate fellow that I am, I just struggled with trying to suss things out. 6? 8? 0? and so on. But in the end, all was completeness and bliss.

So thanks for the fun, Mr. Gordon, and I still think your middle name should be "And".

Z 7:50 AM  

I knew @Lewis and @LMS would love this more than I hated it. Word Play > Trivia > Letter Play. We are pattern seeking creatures, so I can see why people would like this. I’m not one of those people. The one saving grace is that some of the answers push toward absurdity. ISAAC COOLLY “YEEHAWS” being something I can imagine happening in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Yeah - odd that a medievalist stumbled on GRAIL. How many more comments about it will there be. 5? 10? 50?

Klazzic 7:50 AM  

Smooches, Rexxy old boy. Feel better now, ya old curmudgeon?

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Reagan? Cheney?

Triggered much?

pmdm 8:19 AM  

I may be wrong, but I think Wagner's last opera (Parsifal) has a connection with one of today's entry, one that has resulted in more comments than it deserves, I guess.

Tedious? Perhaps. Humorless? For me. But for me, humor in a puzzle is just an extra. If I wanted ha-has, I would read a joke book, not solve a crossword puzzle.

Sometimes i am so impressed that a very difficult theme inhabits a puzzle that the theme wins me over. That is what happened today. And the theme provided a lot of help to me as i was solving the puzzle. Bravo to the constructor for being able to pull this one off.

ZEREX 8:28 AM  

@Z 7:50 AM

Jeez, Rex, you have a Ph.D in medieval literature. How on earth did you not know GRAIL, Rex?

Yes, Rex, I think you’re going to get about 50 comments on this. You deserve ‘em all, Rex.

fkdiver 8:29 AM  

I don't often agree with Rex; I usually visit this blog just to see how wrong he got it. But not today.

Suzie Q 8:31 AM  

I had some fun and really don't understand some of Rex's complaints.
Festoon is a great word.

I think Kodak moment is still usable. Try it and see if you are understood. You will be, at least to a certain fairly wide age group.

Growing up in Indiana there was another radio station with a strong signal, WOWO. We were able to pick it up in Florida while on vacation.

Rex is never going to live down his remarks on grail.

I can picture @ Lewis swooning on his chair bed over this one. Now that's funny.

Rodorr 8:35 AM  

I also noticed that the non-themer fill had 6 double letters across and 12 down (as in 6 X 2). A nice little touch very

GILL I. 8:40 AM  

I liked it, then I didn't...Then I liked it again, then I didn't. Boatload of proper names made me mad. DOES SAAB BOOKING was a smile then I get to COOLLY and think "what in tarnation is that?"
I move on down to the SHRIMP clue at 58D and I cry foul. Scampi yes, SHRIMP is cooked a million ways. I've never seen a CHAIR BED in my life and I wouldn't know a MOON BOW if it kicked my fondillo. I'm trying to think what a PIRATES BOOTY could contain that I might enjoy. Nah...won't go there.
REN clue without Stimpy and all these years that I've watched the Simpsons, I had no idea that APU holds a Ph.D.
I have a question....how did STOOL go from being a pup perch to eventually mean poop? WHO does these things? I'm being WHINNY.
@Mohar, my friend...from yesterday. @Loren has a name for people who don't sleep. I can't remember what it's called. I wake up at weird hours but I eventually go back to sleep. The pups begin to nag me when they want to go out. You know how it is...the retired life.
@Nancy...You are right about David Suchet as Poirot. I've read all of Agatha's book but haven't seen all the movies. I'm one of those that always has reservations about movies made from novels. However, to me the only person that played Miss Marple to perfection was Margaret Rutherford. Perhaps Angela Lansbury was a close second.... You agree?

Hungry Mother 8:45 AM  

Faster than usual and fun putting the double letters in place. A cup of coffee and a latte got me almost done.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Puzzle was a pleasant experience.

Teedmn 9:05 AM  

The theme certainly helped in some ways, the doubles giving letters in places where the cross was a "huh?". On the other hand, given the randomness of the theme phrases, the theme also added to the difficulty.

This came in right at my Sunday random-solve average but I had some struggles. I couldn't remember HEIDEN, DEA clue stumped me, any PAC-12 clue is going to make me cower, and the cross, "Pec pic" left me blank. TAT is the last thing I filled in, and I was happy when it fell.

Things I didn't know: YUGOS were based on Fiats, there's a snack brand, PIRATE'S BOOTY (really?), ROREM, ENSLER, CHAIRBEDS are a thing?, YALE was the Collegiate School, and on and on.

I nearly left in DRUbS at 10A, but decided there must be a better word for "Pepper dispenser" than bILL.

I like BRAN next to BARN. LOOKSEE and WHINNY and the KODAK moment clue were fun. All I could think of at the Last Supper was "bread". GRAIn? D'oh.

BASSI IN NEED DOODLE says it all for this puzzle. Thanks, Peter Gordon.

kitshef 9:08 AM  

Well, that’ll keep Lewis busy for a while.

ELKE Sommer was possibly my first crush. ‘60s movies like A Shot in the Dark, The Oscar, and Baron Blood were my intro. [checking … apparently Baron Blood was ‘70s]

Some odd choices in the cluing, headlined by WHO (note to constructors: if you have to resort to call letters, find another vocation/avocation) and PIRATES BOOTY, which I have never heard of in this context.

Birchbark 9:10 AM  

KGB crossing GRAIL -- yikes, talk about falling into the wrong hands.

Something's going on here under the radar, with all double letters doubled-up on each other throughout. I suspect they'd read differently under a MOONBOW. Obsolete European cars and grace under pressure: ISAAC's COOL YEE HAWS only add to the suppressed tension what I choose to view as a cryptic Cold War tribute puzzle.

@Rex -- Every puzzle is fascinating, but you must solve to make it so.

Rube 9:14 AM  

Wow. Rex who finds so few puzzles medium or challenging struggled with this breeze. Epic fail by him

He talks about gimmees. This was full of them. HEIDEN RICCI
DVORAK SERRA and on and on.

And once again, please why does it matter if a puzzle references Reagan or Cheney or Obama or Mao . it's a puzzle. Solve it. It ain't politics.

M. Python 9:19 AM  

The Holy Grail is the holy grail of holy grails. Jeeeez

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Yes!

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

A rapper

kitshef 9:24 AM  

While acknowledging David Suchet's excellence, I'll also recommend John Malkovich's Poirot.

On Miss Marple, Geraldine McEwan over Margaret Rutherford, whose portrayal was too brash.

And to pile on a little more - no, there was not "a" GRAIL at the last supper. There was "the" GRAIL - the only one. There are no non-last-supper grails, idiomatic use aside.

Unknown 9:36 AM  

DEERE me. The same answer & clue appeared in the Post and Times puzzles today.

Like most NYT puzzles these days, a dreary slog. Give it up Wil.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I loved this puzzle, and was clearly relieved to be back in the hands of a professional. I only solve on Sun.s. My average solve time was getting faster and faster, -30 min., and I know it's not my brain power, but all these guest constructors. I have been sad to surmise that they're not really guests, but the new norm for Sun.'s...If you haven't heard of nor seen The Vagina Monologues, then I guess you wouldn't know the play was written by Eve Ensler. Loved Kodak moment, and TAT/UTE also my last solve, as I'm never going to know Pac anything. Enjoyed learning about moon bows. Cooly yodels was the worst, I agree, but I enjoyed the themes. And "hay there". Agree about Dandy. Chair beds have existed for at least 20 years; good for overnight guests in small apartments or for additional ones in other rooms. They fold out just like a sleeper sofa but are the size of a twin. From a big comfy oversized chair.

Dorothy Biggs 9:40 AM  

DELHI is one of those words that I can't spell. Ever. I know there's an H, but I also know it's silent. So I just can never remember where it goes.

Very art music today: ROREM, DVORAK, BELA (Bartok). Nice to see that rather than the plethora of rap or sports names (they were there too, of course: REN and ENOS Slaughter?)

The theme was helpful to my solve...I never read the title of a Sunday puzzle so I didn't see the actual theme until I read the blog. Probably wouldn't have helped anyway. I'm also not one to appreciate the "whackiness" of "funny" ? clues that make zero sense for the sole purpose of forcing a theme. It reads more like a MadLib than a turn of a phrase or a SANER, ALLTHERE phrase that makes sense. The clues were gibberish for the sake of the theme, is what I'm saying. And that seems cheap, and thusly joyless.

I personally say raise a stink (when I say it, and I usually say it ironically because it's what my dad used to say, so I say it to sound like him)...but I've heard MADEASTINK plenty of times.

I thought the clue for SENIOR was tortured. "Kept awake for 3 days and made to confess it was a witch" tortured.

QuasiMojo 9:44 AM  

We're still talking about Poirot? Well when a puzzle is this ridiculous, it's to be expected. For my money Suchet was de trop. Exacting but also exhausting. Ustinov had wit, more than the books did. And while I adore Margaret Rutherford, there's only one Marple who seemed to get the character as written right -- Joan Hickson (fun fact: she also appeared in one of Rutherford's versions as a cook.)

Pirate's Booty sounds like a rather risquΓ© snack. Makes me think of Eric Heiden actually. Annie Leibovitz took some marvelous pictures of him for Vanity Fair.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

“There was a grail at the Last Supper?“ I imagine a lot of people don’t this. Most of them aren’t smug about their ignorance.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Pirate's Booty is a brand of delicious cheese puff snacks. I was actually eating some while completing the crossword, which I found timely/creepy.

SouthsideJohnny 9:51 AM  

Definitely a big-time slog for me, for all of the reasons Rex and @Hank articulated. The theme has no “there there”. Nothing witty, nothing interesting, just a non-phrase with groups of letters repeated. Add to that the fact that they stuffed a week’s worth of trivia into one day and you end up with just a plug-and-chug arcane trivia quiz. Great if it is your wheelhouse or if you enjoy parsing out the made-up phrases, but it seems like the NYT could and should be way, way better than this.

TJS 10:01 AM  

It's THE Grail, for Chrissake !!! (Since OFL doesn't read us, that was for @Z).

Thought this was one of the better Sundays in a long time. I usually dont care how hard it was for a constructor to do his job, but this was an impressive feat. And amusingly silly. And well clued.

love that Rex freaks out at Reagan or Cheney, but no problem with a rapper from NWA. Anyone familiar with their "oeuvre" ?

Mikey from El Prado 10:01 AM  

Alex M,
I’m sorry but Indiana Jones was in search of the Ark of the Covenant, which houses the Ten Commandments tablets.

Monty Python and the Holy GRAIL would be a more appropriate reference.



Nancy 10:13 AM  

I suspect Peter Gordon had a deliriously wonderful time coming up with these and I didn't have quite that much fun myself. But I had a good-enough time in what was a mildly entertaining puzzle. The phrases are wacky and don't make much sense, but once you pick a theme such as this, you're pretty much assured that the phrases you come up with aren't going to make much sense. It's astounding that Peter was able to come up with any such phrases at all, much less six of them.

Lewis must be beside himself with joy. (Actually, if he's beside himself, he's a candidate for placement in the grid as a themer.)

The themers weren't hard for me. MOONBOW was hard. I had RAINBOW. Bet most of you did too. Only when I had the two "S"s and realized that 97D had to be AMASS, did I correct it. That was the last section in in what for me was a puzzle that was neither very hard nor very easy. Probably just right for a Sunday.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Imagine being more troubled by the inclusion of Liz Cheney or Reagan than by the inclusion of the KGB ? Also, what does NWA stand for ? I forget.

oopsydeb 10:17 AM  

Liked it fine for a Sunday. Once I got the first themer and thought to look at the title of the puzzle, I kind of enjoyed figuring out the other themers. Wouldn't want this kind of puzzle every day, but just fine for a Sunday here and there.

MOONBOWs are lovely. May you each get to see one someday.

GRAIL--come on Rex--legit clue and legit word. And much better fill than what I first wrote in--GRApe.

CHAIRBEDS are indeed a thing. They fold out to something a bit smaller than a twin bed, I think. Good for kids, I suppose. Even though I know they are a thing, I still cringed writing the answer in. Maybe because I've slept on one.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Rex is just mad that he doesn't know everything the second he reads it. Most of us don't Rex. It doesn't make the puzzle bad just because you don't get all the answers instantly.

davidm 10:33 AM  

This puzzle was incredibly apt for me. You can’t make this stuff up. I always solve the Times puzzles over my morning coffee, clear-headed and caffeinated. But I happened to get the Sunday puz last night, and couldn’t resist having a go at it. Unfortunately, I did so … at my local brew pub, over several strong IPAs.

And as this thing is unfolding, I’m seeing double everywhere! And I’m literally all like, “Wait … am I drunk already??? LOL. Finally I hit on ENROLLEES SEEM MEEK, and the penny dropped. I was like, whew! I don’t need AA after all!

Still, it was an incredible slog, especially while drinking, but I think it would have been so even sober and caffeinated. For a long time I had a careless misspelling of BOOK KEEPING as, erm, BOOK EEPPING, wtf, (third IPA). Because of necessity phrases with more than one word have no spaces between them in x-word puzzles, it sometimes can be hard enough to glean phrases from run-together letters. It’s all the harder when each phrase has six consecutive doubled letters. It’s almost sadistic to make a puzzle like this!

Anyway, I enjoyed it — or maybe it was just the IPAs talking. I must say, as an aside, I find it — astounding? — that Rex is unfamiliar with the holy grail. Even I, a good atheist, know about that.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Why don’t we say there are 3 double letters? For example, there is a double s, a double e and a double o. Three double letters = 6 6letters.

TJS 10:35 AM  

Wow, just finished the tale end of yesterday's comments and had too add my appreciation for constructor NPW contributing to the discussion. So cool to describe the process and interact with his audience.

Re the Poirot discussion, Suchet for sure. BTW anybody a Nero Wolfe fan? My all-time favorite.

kitshef 10:39 AM  

@Mikey from El Prado - Alex M is correct. You are thinking of the 1981 movie, not the 1989 movie.

Ken Freeland 10:43 AM  

concur... high PPP and Natick quotient... too bad, though the easy theme did help balance out some of the more obscure clues

RooMonster 10:43 AM  

Hey All !
Apparently I'm of the easily amused crowd, as I thought this was pretty neat. Figured it out at the first themer (23A), after having BASSo for a bit. Also started with SWIMMEr at 94A, but ended up getting that one second. I liked sussing out the themers. Tough to get phrases that make sense with 6 sets of doubles in a row.

Liked Rex's pic of Box Cars, as double 6's in dice are called that. In case you didn't know. (Haven't read y'all yet, so sorry if that's a repeat.)

Got everything except the DVORAK section, which I had to cheat for (Googed it). Wanted MILL, but took it out as I couldn't think of anything else up there. DRUMS wildly clued. Also USDA clued as a school something. But finished that up after my never-woulda-got-DVORAK cheat.

But (of course) had a two-letter DNF, with uNiON in for ENRON. Never noticing that 7D was CiEE. Eek. Forgivable mistake in MC RuN instead of MC REN.

Always want Pocahontas's John to be Smith. Write it in every time I see that clue. ROLFE. I'll have to think of ROFL (Rolling On Floor Laughing) when I see Pocahontas so I can remember him.

Nice SunPuz offering. PEAKS and CHEATERS. Har.
Adolescent SKY clue, but got a chuckle. :-)

SILKEN DON HO
RooMonster
DarrinV

Nancy 10:45 AM  

@GILL (8:40) Re THE PERFECT SCREEN MISS MARPLE: Once again, look to the Brits and the BBC. They love their Agatha Christie. They know their Agatha Christie. I thought that Margaret Rutherford in movies was physically completely wrong for the role. Then she made the miscasting even worse by creating a sort of amiable parody. I thought at the time: Who is this roly-poly, slapstick-ish woman who's pretending to be Miss Marple??

No -- the right answer is Joan Hickson in the BBC TV series. She's uncanny. She Miss Marple. She's the equivalent of David Suchet as Poirot. It was mighty hard to find her on YouTube in a brief clip -- either the BBC or her estate must be protecting the rights. But I found one tiny clip for you to watch. Skip the Intro and click on the clip at 1:18 minutes in. If you've never seen her you'll be amazed how much she is like the Marple of the novels. Not only physically right, but she is intuitive in exactly the right way. If you were guilty and she looked piercingly at you with those penetrating blue eyes, you'd start to really, really worry!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

two musings on CHAIRBED.

1 - I've no idea in which direction said chair 'opens up' (and not enough interest to wiki it), and thus whether it's as wide (as a bed, if opened to 'the side') as the flattened out chair is long, or just flattens out into a chair-width bed.

2 - seen enough Emirates Airlines ads to know that, at least, flying CHAIRBEDs exist. these just flatten out.

Spatenau 10:49 AM  

Mikey from El Prado, I'm sorry, but in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade it is the Grail that is the artifact that is being saught.

Newboy 11:04 AM  

OFL says “ Felt like an enormous slog.” Gotta agree. @LMS riff on life HACK made my VISIT just DANDY at least.

nyc_lo 11:17 AM  

“Hey Pete, Will here. Listen we’ve got a big hole coming up for Sunday, got anything?”

(Blows dust off a file folder.) “Hmm, lemme see. Well, heck, here’s one I submitted back in the ‘90s that you never ran.”

“Does it have Biblical references?”

‘Yeah, two of ‘em!”

“Outdated sports heroes?”

“Dos again!”

“Swell! Hmm, we better throw in some more recent stuff so it doesn’t look like a retread.”

“How about Enron?”

“Beautiful! We’ll show those lousy Millennials who’s in charge of their crosswords!”

“‘OK Boomer’ my butt!”

“Geez, I like those double letters. Can you do something with that?”

“Already on it...”

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

@TJS:
anybody a Nero Wolfe fan?

sort of. the books, sure. the teevee show, not so much. shot in LA, if I recall. movies? not sure, since I don't recall seeing any.

only 2, it turns out. from the 30s. may be TCM will run them.

After The League of Frightened Men, Rex Stout declined to authorize any more Hollywood adaptations. "Do you think there's any chance of Hollywood ever making a good Nero Wolfe movie?" biographer John McAleer asked the author. Stout replied, "I don't know. I suppose so."
-- the wiki

Odd Sock 11:22 AM  

Current social issues seem to be Rex's bread and butter but at 100A the clue/answer is feminine side/Yin. Not a word from OFL. If gender is a social construct then what-oh-what do we do with that? Toss that lovely Yin/Yang symbol along with its significance and replace it with a color wheel?

My mnemonic for spelling Delhi is that it is one letter away from being Delphi.

sixtyni yogini 11:51 AM  

Good one! πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ˜ŽπŸ§©πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ½
Becoming convinced that enjoying a puzzle 🧩 relates to mood and clarity .., at least for me.

Carola 12:00 PM  

I liked it, finding it fun to start the strings of doubled letters to see if I could guess where they might lead. The hardest were the strange looking doubled-vowels: BASSII..., DOESSAA.... Only the QUEEN NOOR one went right in.
Random claim to fame: our neighborhood ice-rink warming house is named "The Heiden House," in honor of Eric and Beth, who grew up here.

GILL I. 12:08 PM  

@Nancy...Margaret Rutherford IS a Brit. I remember crying when she died. I also cried when Agatha died......
As I mentioned earlier, I've watched very few of Agatha's movies. I remember seeing "Thirteen At Dinner" with Ustinov as Poirot and I thought he was tres magnifique.... SACRE BLEU indeed. I'm pretty sure that Margaret was the one I saw in "Murder She Said.' I loved her jowly face.
Reading Google tells me that Agatha didn't approve of Margaret as her Jane character because Jane was supposed to be like Agatha's grannie.
We need an Agatha Christie puzzle. I bet you could do one?
Now to watch Joan Hickson on YouTube. Thanks for the clip....She does look grannie like.!

Crimson Devil 12:12 PM  

Sorta fun romp. Enjoyed cluing for DEA & KODAK, and reminder of one of my first loves, ELKE. But best of all the reference to lovable YUGOS, reminded of Carson show on eve that car safety ratings—results of survivability of head-on collisions—were published, Johnny read list, Ed dutifully noted What about the YUGOS? Johnny deadpanned: Didn’t make it to the wall.
Also loved reference to snack food brand I’ve never heard of and being reminded of an all-time great sign buddy reported seeing as he and wife were in airport crowd awaiting return of their soldier-son among squad of Afghan-war returnees: seems that buddy noticed young lady in crowd holding up sign: “ Private Smith—report for Booty.”
One last anecdote [I love signs]. I noted hand-lettered window sign in downtown tattoo parlor: “Ears pierced while you wait.”

Birchbark 12:13 PM  

Got a call this morning from an unnamed "friend" who worked R&D at ENRON right up to the end. Said they were in Beta on a synthetic MOONBOW device and that's what sent things sideways. [Note to self: did Liz CHENEY know?]. To the point, he's been playing around ever since at reverse-engineering one in his garage and thinks he's just about there.

Early this morning, in a controlled environment, he flipped the switch and solved the puzzle under the MOONBOW. He got the "Congratulations" music and waited. Nothing happened at first. Then, without fanfare, the doublets morphed and neatly rearranged to spell HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS.

This honor-worthy word is found in Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," when the servant Moth says: "O, they that have lived long on the alms-basket of words, I marvel thy master has not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon."

"Honorificabilitudinitatibus" is the sort of word that screams anagram, and rightly so. A simple reshuffle brings us to the latin "hi ludi, F. Baconis nati, tuiti orbi," settling once and for all that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's works.

I enjoy puzzles, like this one, which contain a meta-theme.

Malsdemare 12:16 PM  

I have little to add though I find it fascinating that so many of us, I included, ended with the T in TAT. Mr. Mal takes drum lessons at Tins and Skins, so I got DRUM easily; my first entry, in fact.

The discussion of Poirot and Miss Marple has given me a yen to dredge up some old movies. Maybe tonight while others watch the Packer game.

Gorgeous day. Daughter and I are going to split wood. Yeah, you're jealous, I know.

CDilly52 12:35 PM  

This was a perfect Sunday puzzle. The time and craft it took just to create this opus has to impress whether one likes or hates it. For me, it just took me back to years of Sundays as I would sit throughout Sunday afternoons with my Grandmother working through the puzzle while intermittently attending to Sunday chores-dinner and homework typically. Oddly, by junior high, I would strive to have all schoolwork and music practice completed by noon on Sunday so I could spend the rest of the day shadowing Gran. Almost every day I thank her for her love and devotion to me, and for all of the things she taught me.

Lately, I have been frustrated by younger people’s’ seeming lack of critical thinking skills. This was just one of many tools Gran helped me acquire through puzzles. For example, many of my One L compadres had enormous difficulty adjusting to law school’s Socratic method of instruction. I learned so much (including why it is called the Socratic method) from Gran.

She used to toss me a clue on Sunday to figure out; every single Sunday from the time I was eight. Today’s Hay there! made me smile. I guarantee that I dropped that answer in immediately because of Gran. This morning as I smiled, I felt her with me like a hug and heard her “here’s one for you,” from so many Sundays together. As a neophyte, I would naturally think without analyzing the clues. And of course, I would always be wrong. She would a start with the questions: “How are the words spelled?” Do you see punctuation?” “What part of speech is needed?” “What do the clues tell you” “Why would the puzzle maker do that?” “What did you learn?” Always that one, and sometimes throughout the puzz, but every single day that question was the final. And learning is still my favorite part of being a solver.

Many times throughout my life I have marveled at what a simple tool in the hands of a gifted teacher can do. I have no idea where I would be today without her patience and love, and her attention to all three of us siblings in such very individual ways. She would never admit this, but I was her favorite. Oddly neither my brother nor my sister seemed to care. Don’t get me wrong, she lavished love on everyone in the family and everyone she met. Truly.

What she gave me though, changed my life. She saw me, saw my ability and intelligence and used my restlessness for the lockstep learning of the mid-20th century to engage me. I now see those genes in my daughter, a special education teacher. Her colleagues are astonished at her ability to look at her kids’ enormous challenges as just “some curvier pathways into their learning doors and windows,” as my Kate tells her peers. She has her 5th and 6th graders (according to the school principal) using more sophisticated critical thinking than the “accelerated/gifted” students of the same age.

Neither my Kate nor her peers ever met my Gran. I saw the final skit on historic “words we live by,” written, directed and staged by Kate’s students last year and it brought me to tears of enormous gratitude, love and pride. Gran is in that classroom through my daughter. I am so grateful to have benefitted from such a teacher and life guide and so proud to see those qualities at play again in service to children with such promise who just need to believe they can achieve.

If you can read this, thank a teacher, whomever it may be!

jberg 12:37 PM  

No time to read the comments, will come back later—but @Rex, what did you think that Holy Grail everyone was questing for WAS?

OTOH, good for you for not knowing that PIRATE’S BOOTY is a brand of junk food.

The theme was cute, but made things pretty easy once you knew it.

Later!

Pam Fletcher 12:42 PM  

I agree- a slog. So awful that I quit which I rarely do. No fun at all.

Sgreennyc 12:44 PM  

My review of Rex's review: Debby Downer strikes again. Like Trump, he has become a caricature of himself. I enjoy reading my fellow puzzle solver's comments, but the blog itself has become ridiculous.

OffTheGrid 12:54 PM  

After I solved and saw what the theme was I read the title, "Double Sixes". Seems backwards. There are 6 doubles in each theme answer not double sixes. Surprised no one else mentioned this.

RooMonster 12:58 PM  

@Anonyous 10:35
Because there is 6 sets of double letters, not 3. Look at yer puz again.

Thought the clue for TAT was Pet pic first, so wrote in TAg, as in an avatar that some use. Good stuff.

RooMonster Random Observations Guy

QuasiMojo 1:16 PM  

@TJS, I like Nero Wolfe too. There was indeed a later movie, "Nero Wolfe" starring David Thayer, in 1979, who sadly was close to death at the time. It was a pilot for a tv series but was released as a TV movie. Not bad. His assistant Archie? was rather good. You can find it on YouTube.

gilly 1:21 PM  

Was this puzzle made in 1975? OYVEY, it sure felt like it.

With very few exceptions (I actually liked OYVEY, MOONBOW, PIRATESBOOTY, for example, but they blew their cameos thanks to their remarkably dull clues) the fill was as stale as mummy’s fart.

I appreciate the challenge of the theme, but it's definitely not worth the slew of ENOS, ESAU, ELKE, GMEN, HEIDEN, etc., and the cheerless cluing--which too-often could only be characterized as clinical--and general lack of voice made this about as much fun as a Hooked on Phonics lesson.

The doubled letters in yesterday's SNOOZEFEST and UTTERBORES came to mind doing this one.

Masked and Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Now, that there was some serious whup-ass-wacky themers. The double-I one at 23-A was especially raised-by-wolves. M&A glumly noted that every double-vowel was represented in the themers, except for one commonly-disrespected puup.

staff weeject pick: ESE. Nice know-yet-European-directions clue.

fave fillin, by a wide margin: SURCEASE. The Gordonmeister went archaic on us. A special Ol+de Speration moment.

Thanx for the SunFun, Mr. Gordon. Not as many movie flick references as usual, from U. Did have yer nice COEN/RICCI intersection, tho.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

QuasiMojo 1:45 PM  

P.S. @Cdilly, wonderful memory story. Thank you. I had a guide like that too when I was young.

CDilly53+ 1:50 PM  

@CDilly52: Ok Boomer. ::eyeroll::

Come now, C-Dill, surely you're not going to ignore the lack of critical thinking skills by people of all ages? Even people who end up as President of the US? It's this kind of ageist thinking that provoked the "Ok boomer" meme in the first place. Your take on teachers is okay...but somewhere along the line, vast numbers of people gave up their critical thinking skills, call it "willful ignorance," and came to believe in things like a flat earth, that vaccines cause autism, that chemtrails are a thing, and that trickle down economics works. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.

As for the rest of you insisting that there was a grail at the last supper: Jeebus and his disciples were poor. The biblical accounts of the last supper all mention a "cup," but it was very likely very humble if the "last supper" occurred at all. So what we have is legend, a misinformed legend, that led us to somehow believe that an ornate "grail" was associated with a "Last Supper™." If you grew up in a home or a place that didn't put too much emphasis on it, I can see how you'd miss it. You wouldn't hear mention of it in church, that's for sure.

That said, Rex surely has come across Arthurian legend and the Knights of the Round Table...not to mention one of the best and funniest films ever made. I can't imagine anyone not bumping into the idea of a "grail" that was "lost" and would be the holiest of relics next to the shroud of Turin if it existed. So, yes, it is puzzling Rex seemed to have missed it.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

And 124a...my uncle's middle name.
Really?

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Drek.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

@CDilly53+:
The biblical accounts of the last supper all mention a "cup," but it was very likely very humble if the "last supper" occurred at all.

I saw the Indiana Jones movie too - just a clay (?) goblet. I wonder whether the snake handler set were insulted?

Nampa bob 3:06 PM  

Enjoyable Sunday puzzle for me.

Tim Pierce 3:16 PM  

Jeez, Rex, it's like you never even watched Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail!

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Finished but what a waste of time. The theme? Use Xword to list words with repeat letters, arrange in a non-sensical way, clue synonymously, and you get a garbage theme.
Gordon does this for a living? I hope he has a second job.

Frantic Sloth 4:48 PM  

Where to start? First of all, I read most of the comments on this blog every day ON the day of the puzzle (not the night before, as many solvers/commenters do), so much of what I would say has already been written by people more eloquent and amusing than I; therefore, my comments are usually very limited in scope and substance. Rarely am I inspired enough to expand on…well, anything.
HOWEVER. Today, I couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting something requiring my attention. Unfortunate metaphor aside, here goes:
I couldn’t disagree more with Rex, K of C about this puzzle. I found almost every quasi-torturous inch of it entertaining, informative, and artistically constructed. It was so enjoyable in fact, that I slowed down about 1/3 of the way through in order to delay its completion. Ever do that with a book or a television series or a meal? (Except for the meal, I have. But that’s wandering into personal dining behavior territory which doesn’t belong here.) I’ll omit specifics because oh, so many – and Mr. P has already been “GRAILed” into oblivion by enough comments.
Now, as a regular reader of the blog, I am a relative newcomer and find Rex’s takes interesting enough to keep me coming back…for the comments of a select few: @Loren Muse Smith, @Lewis to name two of my favorites. (And they go so well together!) When I grow up (even though I suspect I am quite older than she), I want to be LMS. Funny, articulate people draw me in, chew me up, and spit me out like so much magnetized chewing gum, which doesn’t exist but needs to for the sake of my sub-standard simile, all alliteration aside. Then again, maybe not.
@CDilly52, your story hit close to home with me, except it was my father and we would “fight” each other for the NYT magazine section in order to be the first one to reach the virgin crossword. Then, the “other” would be relegated to the clue cavalry, only to be consulted when first-solver was stumped. I swear that it was more endearing than it sounds! Your grandmother and daughter (and you!) are what this world needs more of…are people of which this world needs more…are necessary to replenish my waning confidence in the future of our educational system, among other things.
“If you can read this, thank a teacher, whomever it may be!” Thank you for sharing something so personal and heartwarming.
@CDilly53+, I’m willing to bet that the “53+” of your temporarily made-up name refers to your age, while I suspect @CDilly52 is referring to his/her year of birth. You seem reasonably intelligent – at least, you seem to need to appear so – so comments like “this kind of ageist thinking” and “Your take on teachers is okay…” only serve to belie that. Your numerous valid points are tarnished by a condescending and cynical tone. If all you got out of CDilly52’s words was a sense of ageism, then you not only have missed the point, you somehow have paradoxically sat on it.

dm3000 5:02 PM  

You may think that calling out the mention of 2 conservative Republicans is some sort of virtue signaling. Others may see it more as intolerance. It's a free country and it's your platform.

Honcho 5:07 PM  

I liked the Vox puzzle, I see what you mean. It was all super relevant and current. I like crossword puzzles but they can be such a bastion of vary particular arcana that I wonder sometimes if they have a future. I'm 45, I have kids who are 11 and 13 and I just can't see the culture around them coalescing to make these things decipherable in the future. They just are picking up on different stuff. They didn't have my grandpa force-feeding them old films and pop culture from the 30s—60s. And all that. Like in today's NYT puzzle... Elke Sommer? Who knows who that is?

Unknown 5:09 PM  

REX——-YOU MUST TRY TO HAVE MORE FUN WITH PUZZLES LIKE THIS ONE. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST, HAVE A TOKE OR TWO AND SETTLE IN. TALK TO YOUR THERAPIST ABOUT SOLUTIONS TO LOW MOOD.

JC66 5:12 PM  

@Frantic Sloth

Great comment. Please be sure to comment on a regular basis.

Mohair Sam 5:24 PM  

@Gill and @Nancy. Nance is dead right about Suchet and Hickson, I stand totally corrected on Ustinov. However I am never speaking to her again following her attack on Dame Margaret Rutherford, the most delightful comic actress in all history.

jberg 5:33 PM  

Back from a long Sunday afternoon; I see that my first post was completely redundant, so I'd like to offer up a link to "When I Grow Up (I want to be a g-man)" from Pins and Needles, but all I can find are links to the score or to the 1962 revival album. Too bad, it's a great song.

@'mericans, Happy Birthday! Someone here told me how to avoid the ReCapcha difficulties -- just leave the "I am not a robot" box empty, and click on "Publish your comment." Works like a charm.

@Loren, I love it when you get all political in double letters!

GILL I. 6:16 PM  

@Mohair....C'mon...come back to the fold. Miss your wickedness. :-)

Hodor 8:54 PM  

Loved the Reagan era nostalgia (in these days of miserable Politicians in any party) but this was a slog. Not interesting.

Nancy 9:31 PM  

I miss you too, @Mohair. And please don't be mad at me. I would be so upset if you were. Yes Dame Margaret is a delightful comic actress. The only problem is that Miss Marple is not a comic role. While Poirot can be very funny (though never intentionally; he takes himself very seriously), Miss Marple is NEVER funny -- either intentionally or unintentionally. And so Rutherford's droll performance, enjoyable as it might have been, was dead wrong for the character. I enjoyed the movie a lot, but I did feel I was watching a parody being played strictly for laughs. That could have been entirely the director's doing, of course.

Mohair Sam 9:50 PM  

@Nancy - Well, ok then, you're forgiven (kinda).

BTW, put me in the camp of those who really enjoyed this puzz. Nifty construction feat that provided fun for the solver.

TJS 11:25 PM  

@Quasi, et al, Thanks for the response re. Nero Wolfe. I find the books highly re-readable. Wolfe was a daily NYT crossword solver by the way, and was known to slam a book shut if the author tried to turn a noun into a verb. What horrors he would be experiencing these days !
There was a Wolfe series that ran in 2001 and 2002 on A&E that I found at the library some years ago. Had an ensemble cast approach that I have never seen on another show. So one week the actor playing the villain would be the father of the wrongly- accused the following week; the showgirl would be the scheming daughter the next week, etc. Really made for some interesting viewing.
@C Dilly 52, thank you for sharing your reminiscence. Very touching, and I share your thoughts on cherishing our teachers in these difficult times.

Joseph Brick 11:55 PM  

Awful! When was the last good Sunday puzzle? Six months ago? This week's is the last straw. I will no longer waste my time with them.

Fred Romagnolo 11:56 PM  

The word GRAIL came into existence in the middle ages; it's a corrupted contraction of sangue reale (aigu accent over the e) in which Joseph of Arimathea collected the blood of Jesus dying on the cross. Yes, it was the same humble cup from the Last Supper. It was eventually enclosed in a magnificent silver and gold goblet. Pocahontas and John Rolfe were ancestors of the man generally considered to be the greatest Mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Rolph. And maybe even of a presidential contender?

albatross shell 2:30 AM  

A palooza of doubled letters. Dandy, that is first rate, fun. Loved the theme answers. Sunday's can almost always be called a bit of a slog, but much joy along the way. My favorite clue-answer was listen attentively - HARKS. Hark is mostly seen these days in a Christmas song, where it seems almost to function as a placeholder without meaning. I had to get 3 crosses before thinking of it.

Too many names? Many I did not know. But the only one I looked up was ROREM. The others all from crosses jogging memory. ALVIN was a bit of a problem, but it doesn`t bother me to pause and think for a minute. Ooh. I TOOK 63 MINUTES INSTEAD OF 61. But to each their own. I don't mind. There is a physical rush in rushing.

I agree Rutherford was a wonderful actress but a lousy Marple. Wrong physically, wrong personality. At least Cruise got Reacher's personality almost right. His driving was wrong too.

The Archie-Nero tandem may be the best in detective fiction. Remember the one where Archie plants incriminating evidence to get himself arrested for murder in order to get Wolfe off his fitness kick? Stout, that other Rex, could write.

PatKS 4:13 AM  

Didn't mind this puzzle. One of my fastest Sunday finishes. I got the theme right away but 23A was terrible. Never heard of LISA GENOVA, WHO or SURCEASE. since there was a MET clue, I thought 84A might be Cleon (Jones). Had a little stall at Moonbow? for rainbow and Hey for sky. Never heard of Akbar the great. (I agree with you Rex on groaning thinking about Cheney and Reagan).
Have a great week!

EricStratton 11:03 AM  

The only reason I read Rex's commentary is to see how long it takes him to complain about any mention of a conservative politician. You are never disappointed. While there is a numbing sameness to it, it is one sure thing in an otherwise ever-changing world.

Burma Shave 1:14 PM  

CHEATERS SAT

SENIORs LEAVEON their drawers
to VISIT the STOOL, I think.
Once THERE they use the TRAPDOOR,
IT'SBEST while MAKINGASTINK.

--- ADM. SEAN ROLFE

rondo 2:00 PM  

OFL is unaware of the GRAIL, *and* the USDA? Sometimes higher education means nothing. And that ALVIN/CALVIN clue is straight from Will, don'tcha think? Most significant inkfest was where I first had ESAU in ENOS' place.

As a kid, the Sunday A.M. radio guys from WCCO in Mpls. and WHO in Des Moines would often chat with each other. Hog prices, crop reports, weather events. Whatever. Compelling, RIGHT? So WHO a gimme.

DONHO : Hawaii :: Wayne Newton : Las Vegas. Can't think of worse that passes for entertainment. Except perhaps Anything : Branson, MO. Is it a SENIOR thing?

Steffi GRAF in S.I. is ALLTHERE. But WHO wins? QUEENNOOR. Yeah baby.

Double letters. YEEHAW.

Diana, LIW 7:48 PM  

Oh. A tutu of 2 two. Too to. U2?

dnf, due to PPP

Diana, DNF, LIW, II

Joe 4:13 AM  

Had DRUBS instead of DRUMS, and WOLFE instead of ROLFE. It was a slog. Had to laugh at Rex’s visceral reaction to having any mention of a conservative in the puzzle (the Gray Lady, no less). Get a grip.

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