Wonder-working biblical prophet / SUN 11-24-19 / Hit 1997 film condemned by Chinese goverment / Name originally proposed for Utah / Peak in 1980 headlines / Partly sheltered area near land in which vessels ride at anchor / Nobleman above un conte / Founder of New York's Odditorium in 1939 / House minority leader before Pelosi / Campus abutting Drexel informally / 2004 sci-fi thriller inspired by classic 1950 book / Nanny in Nanjing / Mild light colored cigar / Longtime dairy aisle mascot / Spherical bacterium

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Constructor: Frank Longo

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (11:29)

THEME: "Open Wide!" — it's just a wide open grid ... totally themeless ... :/

Word of the Day: "SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET" (60A: Hit 1997 film condemned by the Chinese government) —
Seven Years in Tibet is a 1997 American biographical war drama film based on the 1952 book of the same name written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer on his experiences in Tibetbetween 1944 and 1951 during World War II, the interim period, and the Chinese People's Liberation Army's invasion of Tibet in 1950. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starring Brad Pitt and David Thewlis, the score was composed by John Williams and features cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
In the story, Austrians Heinrich Harrer (Pitt) and Peter Aufschnaiter (Thewlis) are mountaineering in British India in an area that is now Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. When World War II begins in 1939, their German citizenship results in their imprisonment by the British in a POW camp in Dehradun in the Himalayan foothills, in the present-day Indian state of Uttarakhand. In 1944, Harrer and Aufschnaiter escape the prison, and cross the border into Tibet, traversing the treacherous high plateau. While in Tibet, after initially being ordered to return to India, they are welcomed at the holy city of Lhasa, and become absorbed into an unfamiliar way of life. Harrer is introduced to the 14th Dalai Lama, who is still a boy, and becomes one of his tutors. During their time together, Heinrich becomes a close friend to the young spiritual leader. Harrer and Aufschnaiter stay in the country until the Chinese military campaign in 1950. (wikipedia)
• • •

LOL "hit 1997 film." I mean ... "hit?" Yeah, it made over $120M at the box office, but $90+M of that was overseas, and honestly, when was the last time anyone, anywhere, referred to "SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET"? I didn't even remember it existed. Wow. I was like "SEVEN ... YEARS ... A SLA...AVE?" Anyway, this puzzle, what to say? I think themeless Sundays are dumb. Just a slog with no point. Who needs a *longer* Friday? I've never thought, after solving a Friday, "I'd like something like this, but just ... bigger." And what is this even supposed to be? Besides open? It's not Fri/Sat hard, for the most part. It's just Big. With lots of open space, just 'cause. Seriously, for no reason except to kind of show off, I guess. It's fine for what it is, but what it is is not really interesting. I actually kind of liked solving it at times, but IDLY, casually, in between moments of ruing the weaker fill, particularly the following (which I have scrawled in the margins of my printed-out puzzle): DUCA, AMATIVE, COALERS, TROYES, ETCHIN. It's actually pretty smooth, otherwise, but it all just feels so pointless. I get that Sundays are hard to do well, but ... you pay like $2250 for them (for vets like Frank, anyway), why don't you have enough good ones to go around? It makes no sense. I think Sundays are probably just kind of a bummer to make. If your theme isn't slamming, then it's gotta be dreary to make, and certainly dreary to solve. I'm not mad at this puzzle. I just think of it as a kind of non-entity. Is it real? Who can say? I solved it, so, probably. Maybe it will be memorable for its ontological indeterminateness, if nothing else.

Usually with corners like these, I can run the Downs and then see the Acrosses pretty clearly, but the shorter Downs were actually harder than normal today. Only had a few in place after my first pass at the NW corner, but thankfully those were enough for me to see DANIEL CRAIG at 1A: Bondsman, of late? After that, the grid wasn't that hard to navigate (if you can get the front ends of those longer answers, whooooosh!). Had similar issues with the bottom R and L corners, but nothing ever caused a real standstill. SEIZER next to TRIODE stalled me a little in the SE, and RUHR for SAAR gunked up my SE briefly (as did NICEST ... does Michelin give stars for niceness????). Also, what are "old DAYS"? (70D: Word after old or dog). I hear "good old days" or "olden days," but "old DAYS" kinda clunks for me. I enjoyed TOOK TO THE SLOPES for sure, but a lot of the other longer ones, while solid, were just ... technical terms. Real things, but about as exciting as, well, someone touting that they sell BRAND-NAME PRODUCTS. Doesn't exactly inspire excitement. Sounds like dull commercialese. USED VEHICLE, same. IONIC BONDS ... very real, but they don't exactly set your arm hairs on end. OMG what is a ROADSTEAD? (102A: Partly sheltered area near land in which vessels ride at anchor). LOL, seriously? It's for ... boats? And has nothing to do with ... a road? OK then. Nice knowing you, puzzle. Bye now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Easy-medium. Nice smooth wide open Sun. and apparently a record setting grid for low word count. Liked it much more than Rex did.

Longo’s Saturday Stumpers are consistently excellent.

If you are an AMAZON PRIME member and have access to Prime Video and haven’t seen “Mozart in the Jungle”, I highly recommend it. It’s about the NY Philharmonic orchestra and is simply delightful.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

It took me way longer than it should have to finally realize the title - "Open Wide" - had no dental connection and simply meant a wide-open puzzle. And I thought, "BFD."

Did learn two new words though so all's not lost: AMATIVE and ROADSTEAD.

Joe Dipinto 12:39 AM  

Amazon Prime presents




special appearance by MOTHER TERESA as "She"

Music by the Amative Amatis
Screenplay by Mickey Spillane
Directed by Esters Menders

[Fade-in on interior of classy-looking restaurant]

Nell (Jennifer Aniston): "Isn't this just the nicest prison restaurant? I see it got three stars in the Michelin guide.

James Bond (Daniel Craig): "Yes, the ahi with endive is reputedly splendid. Oh look, here's our robot waitron, darling."

Robot Waitron (Elisha Cook Jr.): "I am your robot waitron for this evening. May I alert you to our specials? In addition to our Thanksgiving turkey leg, we have a seizer salad, which comes with roadstead potatoes cooked in a vat of olestra."

Nell: "That sounds so amazing. After seven years in Tibet, I'm so hungry I could eat a swarm of lice!"

James Bond: "What were you doing in Tibet, darling?"

Nell: "oh, you know...some decorative tie-dyeing...aaand...some meta-analysis of mimosas – no, mimeesa, ah, I mean messily mimesic mmm...whew, what's in this drink? And some entering of unentered data, and some compiling of tide tables, and, let's see, what else? Occasional shore patrol duty on weekends..."

James Bond: "Liar! Tibet is landlocked.

Nell: "As if! Now if you'll excuse me, amah go to the ladies."

[Nell stumbles off, just as "She" approaches their table]

"She": Well, well, well. If it isn't the ionic Mr. James Bond."

James Bond: "Iconic."

"She": "What?"

James Bond: "The iconic Mr. Bond. You said 'ionic'."

"She": "Oh. Well, well, well, if it isn't the triodic–"

James Bond: "Look, could you hurry up? My date and I have to break out of here before the movie ends. What do you want?"

"She": Well, I've always wanted to be a Bond girl.

James Bond: "As if!"

"She": "As of when?"

James Bond: "Not 'as of'. 'As if'. You're not Bond girl material."

"She": "Am so."
James Bond: "Are not."
"She": "Am so.
James Bond: "Are not."
["She" starts to cry]

Nell [returning from the ladies room]: "Hey, why the sad face?"

James Bond: "Because we have to escape from here now, darling. There's a used vehicle waiting out back to get us to Mt. St. Helen's, where we'll take to the slopes and be at leisure once again."

Nell: "We can be elopers on the slopers! Elopes on the – oh you know what I mean, silly! "

James Bond: "Yes..." [as an aside, so Nell can't hear] "we can, if you don't die of a rare disease first..."

Nell: [fusses with handbag] "What?! Did you say something? Oh look, I stole some brand name products from the bathroom..."

[They depart]

The End.

Jyqm 1:10 AM  

I always expect Sundays to be a dull slog. I wouldn’t even do them if the app didn’t have me convinced that my “streak” of completed puzzles was a thing I should care about. That said, at least there were no wacky theme answers I had to trudge through? But when you have this much space and no other constraints, boy, does the crappy/boring fill stick out like a sore thumb — AMATIVE, COALERS, ROADSTEAD, CADGING, SEIZER, TRIODE, and on and on. And what are the marquee answers that make up for all that? The NW and SE corners are rather nice, but there’s just too much blaaaah in between to make this feel like a worthwhile way to spend fifteen minutes, even on a day of rest.

Scott 4:16 AM  

Bravo. More entertaining than the puzzle.

Hungry Mother 5:28 AM  

It seemed hard until it wasn’t. The long ones fell quickly for the most part. Quicker than average. If there was a theme, I didn’t see it.

Lewis 6:16 AM  

@joe -- Brilliantly funny!

Looking at the finished grid, I wondered if Frank gave the puzzle an echo of a theme, with the centerpiece of TOOK TO THE SLOPES, and a grid design with three distinct slopes.

For me, from the shoulders to the knees, the puzzle steadily filled in like a blob of ink spreading on paper; the north and south were tussle-and-aha. The eight words out of my wheelhouse were crossed fairly. The cluing while not wordplay-centric, felt wiley and carefully crafted, an onerous task for one making a Sunday beast. I enjoyed coursing through this. It was like taking pleasure in a tour given by a most competent and knowledgeable guide.

I couldn't resist counting the Long O's in this offering. For what it's worth, and I don't know if it's high or low, there are 15. Hardly a clank in this, and I thank the Frank.

Dawn Urban 6:28 AM  

So, Open Wide kept me on alert for anagrams of teeth- TOOKTOTHESLOPES has tooth or teeth in there, "aahs" or "ahhs", whichever it may be, and, of course, there MUST be a sneaky rebus in there!

But no, and my vigilance was for nought.

OLESTRA, how I hate thee, I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height my innards can reach...!

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

MIMESIS was fun.

GILL I. 6:59 AM  

@Joe Dip...Thanks for the morning HILARITY...You missed one person...Jonathan! Is he still at the bar?
I rather enjoyed this one. Different is good.
Had a change of heart with AMATIVE, since when I'm in the "mood", I'm more amorous.
Who killed Andy Dufresnes' wife? Was it Shawshanks Redemption? Loved that movie.
Never ONCE did I do any TIE DYEING at summer camp. I got in trouble a lot and always was given the task of cleaning the latrines. I was damn good at water skiing, horseback riding and making little bead necklaces.
The last time I TOOK TO THE SLOPES was several years back at Heavenly. The snowboarders did me in. The oldest might've been 13 and filled with lots of testosterone.
Saw some old friends here with ABACI, ELSIE, AMAH and the schoolyard retort AM SO - although I've never uttered that ever.
I remember the OLESTRA scare. Didn't McDonald's do up their fries in that stuff? I saw the clue for SILICONE at 52A and thought boob job. Can you imagine putting insulation in that area?
Nice job, Frank. When I first printed the puzzle, the first thing I said was YIKES. But MAS taught me to love these long entries...and they were fun!

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Found this one way easy. The only hang up was COALERS in the SW. Had tankers, thought maybe whalers. Also had alleviate before AT LEISURE. Took a lot of staring before it finally coalesced.

Geezer 7:30 AM  

It's disappointing when the conventional starting point, 1A, has such a sloppy clue. Changing Bond to Bondsman and adding a ? is just trying way too hard to be clever. The Bond character has nothing to do with a bondsman. Dreadful.

Lobster11 7:37 AM  

I was going to complain about the lack of a theme, and then it occurred to me that if there had been a theme I would almost certainly complain about how stupid it was, so never mind.

QuasiMojo 7:38 AM  

@Joe DiPinto, that was indeed hilarious, even more so because I have trouble reading the small type on here and thought Bond's darling was called Neil. Lol. Great job, witty and eerily plausible!

That damn second i in Et Alii nearly did me in. Btw if anyone is an electrician, can you tell me how to safely change the diode in my microwave? It's not heating my food anymore. (Sad Face.)

Suzie Q 7:49 AM  

Sundays are usually my least favorite puzzles. If I get the theme early then I slog through the rest just to get it done. Even if I don't grasp the theme it always seems too long. But today we get an extra long Friday! Perhaps an easy Friday but at least we are not subjected to a tedious chore. I loved the change and I hope W.S. gets enough positives reactions to try it more often.
I do think there could have been a bit more sparkle to it but I still had fun and learned what a roadstead is.
@ Joe Dipinto, I don't know what you do for a living but if it's not screenwriting then you have missed your calling. Thanks for the laugh.

Solverinserbia 7:56 AM  

DNF because of southwest. Never heard of several of the downs or acrosses and without any gimmes, I just couldn't get in there.

Lewis 7:57 AM  

My cat, Wiley, has pointed out to me that I've misspelled "wily" in my post.

mmorgan 7:58 AM  

I haven't read Rex or any comments yet but there are several things in this puzzle that I loved and absolutely blew me away but that many may not know:

1) META ANALYSES: I did a (still much-cited) meta-analysis in 1999 and have been working on another one for the last two years. For anyone who knows anything about statistical data analysis, meta-analysis is a revelatory religious experience.

2) MIMESIS: a beautiful word and a wonderful thing to talk about whenever anyone brings up terms such as "realism" when discussing fictional narratives.

3) TRIODE: For over 35 years I loved teaching very large lecture classes that included a section about Lee de Forest and his invention of the TRIODE (aka Audion tube), without which we'd not have usable radio or telephone or anything that came after. He gave us the first commercial, the first broadcast election results (1920), and much more, and he became a fierce critic of commercial media.

Other than that, much of this was tough and sloggy but at times an interesting challenge. Kept looking for a gimmick or a rebus but they never came. Lots of groans and struggles, but having META ANALYSES, MIMESIS, and TRIODE made life worth living.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

@joe dipinto
More clever and entertaining than the puzzle!

mmorgan 8:00 AM  

@Joe D — brilliant, we are not worthy!

Twangster 8:13 AM  

Had the shocking experience of completing the Newsday Saturday Stumper but not completing this puzzle (thanks to the COALERS, SAAR, ROADSTEAD corner). Thought OLESTRA was PLASTIC or ELASTIC.

LurkerL 8:24 AM  

Long (long) time lurker and huge fan. First comment ever. So much better than the puzzle. Excellent work. (Open Wide?! Please. Wide open my #@$.)

Hartley70 8:31 AM  

I’m perfectly happy without a theme, but why give a title if there isn’t one? It’s not a clever misdirection. It was just a time waster today. I was glad I didn’t look for one until I had finished solving.

That said, I enjoyed the grid more than the average Sunday because of the abundance of long answers. You’re right about MAS, @Gill. I sure do miss his stacks.

Abu Afakski 8:45 AM  

Boringest (yes, I said boringest) Sunday puzzle ever, for me

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

AMATIS crossing MIMESIS was a Natick for me. Also I had ETCHIt and ERtES, never having heard of an ERNE.

Never heard of a ROADSTEAD, but guessed it from the crosses and knowing that Hampton Roads is basically the kind of sheltered area described by the clue.

By the way, spell check here highlights MIMESIS, ERNE, and ROADSTEAD as non-words.

Got KEEPING from the crosses but it took me forever to figure out why it was the answer. Finally realized that "these flowers are staying fresh" and "these flowers are keeping" mean the same thing.

I think the creator deserves a lot of credit for making a puzzle with such a low word count - that must be even more difficult, and does produce elegance with its 3x9, 3x11, and 3x13 blocks of text, even if not all the words are that exciting.

Picky: STHELENS wasn't clued as an abbreviation.

Rube 8:49 AM  

Heres My problem. rex says "I usually run the downs and get the acrosses pretty easily". No no no no no. This is not a guessing game . it is a Crossword puzzle. you answer the clues in a sequence so that they are always interlocking as you solve. That's the whole idea. But as I said I guess that's my problem

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Yeah. Why do you think it's called Hampton ROADS?

Jj 9:04 AM  

@joe made my morning.

DLS 9:05 AM  

Fantastic! A much needed laugh after a dreary slog solving this puzzle.

Nancy 9:07 AM  

A long, lovely themeless that always seemed lovely and never seemed long. It was clued in a way to provoke curiosity:

What was Utah supposed to be called before it was called Utah?

What product was on Time Magazine's list of the world's 50 worst inventions?

What hit film was banned by the Chinese government?

There were some easy answers too, but mostly they were pretty hard for a Sunday. There was a lovely clue for SLALOM (77A) and a big "huh?", at least for me, at MIMESIS. Huh????

Here's a subject for discussion: Today we have SPLICE, a word I have never heard in this context, for "getting married." Yesterday we had SITUATIONSHIP for a relationship without commitment, at least on the part of one partner. Is there just too much cynicism and ironic detachment on the part of today's marriageable-age people about relationships? Your thoughts?

Brian 9:12 AM  


Nancy 9:20 AM  

@Joe Dipinto (12:51)-- You are just SO funny!!!! That is an absolute howl! Brilliant puzzle satire that no one should miss.

Z 9:23 AM  

The note says ...the focus is on vocabulary that is as lively and colorful as possible,...
Alrighty then. Longo and Shortz have a much different idea about “lively” and “colorful” than I do. I mean, sure, I love electrostatic attraction as much as the next fella, And sure, I have some SILICONE BRAND NAME PRODUCTS (Oxo, I think). But this puzzle quite literally put me to sleep. Finished it this morning, but felt no more AMATIVE towards it (I see that, for a second day in a row, the auto-corrupt doesn’t believe a puzzle entry is a word. M-W says it was first used in 1636).

@AnonLate Last Night - I didn’t know I was misquoting Pope. Nor did I care then or now. I’ve heard both versions and apparently the basic idea can be traced at least to Bacon (and the misquote is as old as the original). It also sounds a little like something Plato might have had Socrates say, maybe in The Republic. As to who I think I am, mostly just somebody with enough sense to fact check the checkable, and fearless enough to stand by my opinions rather than hide behind anonymity.

kitshef 9:27 AM  

I'm absolutely OK with a themeless. My only problem was that I paused periodically to think about what the theme could possibly be, which as it turns out was time wasted.

I do like a puzzle that includes challenging vocabulary that you may or may not know, but can get from the crosses. ROADSTEAD is the poster child today. But we also get DESERET, COCCUS, IONIC BONDS, TRIODE, META ANALYSES ...

Two nits: that string of JOADS/EUBIE/ATARI in the NW is rough, and also crosses SEI. And is par AVION something that anyone under 45 will know?

Teedmn 9:45 AM  

@Joe Dipinto, thanks, that was great! I had the same thought on SEIZER.

I got BRAND NAME PRODUCTS with only the T in place and right away I was pretty sure the Open Wide title was referring to the grid and not a theme. I love Frank Longo's puzzles, and I hopped around in my random solve fashion long enough with no traction that I both hoped and feared it would be as hard as his Saturday Stumpers are. It wasn't exactly but I will agree with Rex's Challenging designation.

I DNF'd at ET ALIa. If I were solving on paper, I would have circled that square to remind myself to go back and check the cross but I solved online and was IRKED to see TRaODE in the grid. That plus my usual typo that I get when solving on my computer. Oh well, I had fun with this.

I really liked the clue for RARE DISEASE, 101A, and the vagueness of "Unfold" for TAKE SHAPE (I had TAKE plAcE for a while.) That NE corner was the hardest for me as I didn't know where PENN was, didn't know TIE DYEING was a summer camp thing, and the clues for both ARIA and HEEL were tough.

Chicory - I remember reading that people used chicory as a coffee substitute, maybe during the Civil War (was this something I read in Gone with the Wind?). My mental image of chicory involved something like acorns that would be ground, but no, it's the root of a perennial. That misconception explains why ENDIVE needed a lot of crosses to get.

In the SW, I had DE LA and that gave me reD noses for what clowns wear and I didn't want to let it go. And when VAT showed up as the chocolate factory fixture, I laughed. All of those Willy Wonka viewings and I couldn't come up with VAT, har.

Frank Longo, you can construct Sunday themeless puzzles every week, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Could any of us have submitted this puzzle and gotten it accepted? I think not.


Elise 10:14 AM  

Fine enough solve until the SW, which was terrible. Amatis crossing roasdtead (which my autocorrect wont recognize either) crossing Saar...ugh.

Dan Katz 10:17 AM  

I offer my full-fledged support of an occasional Sunday themeless if the fill is of Longo quality. Found this quite hard (13 minutes when my average is around 10) but enjoyed it a lot.

Newboy 10:22 AM  

MEMISIS brought back grad school memories today. Usually I find Sunday a slog, but today I literally followed the program’s highlights from top to bottom. Some days are in your wheelhouse & so it was today. Rex observed that “ It's fine for what it is, but what it is is not really interesting” and I must agree. Beyond the flashbacks to Dr. Kreisman & Ahab, there wasn’t much that held my interest in what I found far easier than OFL’s rating. Now I need to see what Lewis loved that I overlooked.

Rhino 10:24 AM  

The puzzle was fine until that southwest corner. I'll admit I should've seen FRED earlier, but AMATIS, SAAR and DELA crossing ROADSTEAD? Where is that classic Rex rage over that?
Anyway, I got a big ol' DNF to end a three week streak.

Bruce R 10:27 AM  

The clue for NICEST is flat out dumb.

Unknown 10:29 AM  

Damn people it's a crossword puzzle. Get a life and quit whining. Every day all you hear is boo hoo I didn't like this puzzle. Don't bother with them then.

Conrad 10:31 AM  

@QuasiMojo: I'm not an electrician but I do have a degree in electrical engineering. I strongly suggest that fixing a microwave is not a DIY project. Contact the manufacturer; they may make good on the warranty even if it's expired. If not, try a repair shop (Google "small appliance repair near me") or buy a replacement at a store or a yard sale. You don't want to take a chance on a radiation leak.

What? 10:32 AM  

A Monday on a Sunday. Is this a plot to attract newbies? Now my Sunday is ruined.

SouthsideJohnny 10:51 AM  

Kind of a hodgepodge today with some off the chart weirdness (a first pass at naming Utah?, AMATIVE, AMAH, CADGING, COALERS, SLAKES, and the absolutely atrocious clue for NICEST - sorry NYT, but there is no way that “nicest” is synonymous with “extremely competent” or “extraordinary“). Also, MIMESIS crossing AMATIS may be the most brutal word combination of 2019 !

puzzlehoarder 10:54 AM  

Great Sunday puzzle. I wish they were all like this. Tons of fresh material. Take a look at all the red ink on the across section of the xwordinfo answer list. What I appreciated even more was how the constructor worked in so many late week level entries. The SW corner really stood out in that regard. MIMESIS and ROADSTEAD were both unknowns so that section required the most intense puzzling of the grid. That's the kind of solving I look forward to from late week puzzles and am so often disappointed to not get. A Sunday like this was a welcome surprise.

Better Safe than Sorry 10:57 AM  

@QuasiMojo - exercise great care if you go into your microwave. They frequently have a high-voltage capacitor, which if not properly discharged before you attempt your diagnosis and repair may, let’s just say, really ruin your day.

TrudyJ 10:58 AM  

Did anyone else make the RUHR vs SAAR error then confidently put in REDNOSES off that R? I feel like that was a trap laid for me to step right into and it kept me stalled in the SW for quite awhile.

Linda Vale 10:58 AM  

Seemingly, Rex and Frank Longo aren’t the best of friends.
As we all know, glowing reviews are given to Rex’s buddies.

Randy (Boulder) 11:08 AM  


My wife was dying ("dyeing?") to know what was making me laugh so hard.

Ellen S 11:15 AM  

Only had time to read down as far as @Joe. Dipinto’s script — worth the price of the NYT puzzle subscription, just for that! Thank you! (Now off to the animal shelter to spend the rest of the morning laundering poopy blankets.

Birchbark 11:18 AM  

TIEDYEING is a word that needs cleaning up.

@Rex plays the "ontological indeterminacy" card, and it's Aquinas vs. St. Anselm all over again. More might be said, but @Joe Dipinto's (12:39) divinely inspired and rule-changing META-ANALYSIS sort of has me reeling.

So to fill the bird feeders. Then get the crowbar, etc, and go back to taking apart that old shack in the woods that collapsed a couple of years ago.

"This is theffect, ther is namoore to seye." -- Chaucer

TJS 11:27 AM  

Cant believe some people had an easy time with this. I was stymied in every part of this thing, but found the most success guessing the long answers off a few letters and slogging away. Didnt love it, but was glad for a Sunday struggle for a change, so I'll take it.
And @Joe, that was brilliant ! Up there with @John.X in quality. Thanks.

ccredux 11:27 AM  

i learned that “Open Wide” means “No Theme.” I don’t think of a FLAP as being ”big.” SEVEN YEARS,etc, can be rented on AMAZON PRIME . Anyone who can solve a Sunday puzzle in less than 15 minutes is among the NICEST
solvers I know.

Unknown 11:31 AM  

Fab! Very amusing. And yes, much more entertaining than the truly boring themeless puzzle. Thanks.

Kathy 11:35 AM  

Much more difficult than yesterday’s. Naticks abounded and I was clearly never going to finish. Although I don't have the perspective of the veterans on this blog, it sure felt like a Saturday. I still had fun and liked the density, long words and abundance of clever clues.

NICEST: a tepid adjective for a Michelin 3 star rating, although I can’t come up with a decent clue for this word.

SEIZER: seems like a fake noun

The Shawshank Redemption is my all time favorite movie. To me, the climax was not the PRISON ESCAPE, it was the final beach scene reunion. It never fails to move me to tears.

@JoeD. I echo the applause!
@TrudyJ. Yes! I had Ruhr early on and tried either red noses or red shoes

Ed C 11:40 AM  

ETCH IN sure seems like a phrase that should just be ETCH. Don’t like it.

Bourbon Street 11:41 AM  

@TrudyJ: Even worse, I had Ruhr and FRED so I originally tried RedFaces. Ugh. Then I thought of RedNoses and I realized that was impossible because I had never heard that one of Lucy’s neighbors had a name that began with “N”.

I’m not a chef or a restaurant owner, but something tells me a restaurant doesn’t get three Michelin stars because it’s the NICEST restaurant.

I thought this was rather easy, but I couldn’t figure out the theme as I was going along. One of the reasons I read Rex’ s blog is to see what I missed. Happily, he did not disappoint today.

Ed Rorie 11:51 AM  

From Wikipedia:
The term "Roads" (short for roadstead) indicates the safety of a port; as applied to a body of water, it is "a partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor".[6] Examples of other roadsteads are Castle Roads, in another of the Virginia Company's settlements, Bermuda, and Lahaina Roads, in Hawaii.

Malsdemare 11:54 AM  

@Joe Dipinto, that was wonderful. Time to quit your day job.

I, of course, liked the puzzle. I had to google SPILLANE and CRAIG whoever and had a typo at SLALaM, but this kept me away from a slog of an editing job for an hour, so I'm happy.

I've never heard of ROADSTEAD and we are longtime sailors. Did the ruhr before SAAR thing, and struggled in the same places Rex did. Difference is, I liked being challenged and I'm sufficiently accustomed to missing themes entirely that the absence of one here escaped me; I just figured it was my usual denseness.

Thank you, Mr. Longo.

Marc Kwiatkowski 12:00 PM  

After being mis-clued so often, it's notable to see AHI finally clued correctly; i.e. not referencing "Japanese" or "sushi bar". It's the Hawaiian word for bigeye and yellowfin tuna.

jberg 12:04 PM  

In the OLD days, we used to go down to Hampton ROADS and marvel at how many ships the Navy had...(I'm not the first to make the point, but I couldn't let it go.) I've come to realize that there are people for whom the whole world of water and boats just doesn't exist. I'm not much of a boater myself, but at least I've read my Horatio Hornblower!

Apparently @Z and I are the only people here who read the note. I'd have liked the puzzle much better without it -- when you proclaim that the whole point is "vocabulary as lively and colorful as possible," you had better deliver. Not SEIZER, BRAND NAME pharmaceuticals or something, not PRODUCTS, not KEEPING, and for Heaven's sake, not DE LA, which is no better in French than it is in English.

Better clue: "one way of makin' a print" -- ETCHIN.
Btw, the note also brags that the 122-word count is the lowest ever for a Sunday Times crossword.

jberg 12:13 PM  

I forgot to mention, but if you go to Utah you'll see the word DESERET all over-- it's a Mormon concept. According to Wikipedia though, the clue is a little off. The Mormons had actually proposed a different state, limited to the Mormon community, but Congress rejected that and later incorporated that proposed state in to Utah. Wiki gives a complex theological of the term, fun to read if you want to, but too much to relate here.

Malsdemare 12:20 PM  

@mmorgan. Back when I taught methodology, meta analyses were my favorite topic. It’s the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting, chopsticks and Clair de Lune. So I too was thrilled to see them in my Sunday diversion.

Mo-T 12:24 PM  

@Joe Dipinto No green paint there!

I thought there was a theme of sorts. WOTE: Words other than English. (There are no longer "foreign" languages in schools. Now they are "Languages Other Than English" or LOTE.)

Italian: Thrice due (54A) Something that can be performed da capo (18D) Rare and Valuable instruments (79D)

Latin: List-ending phrase ( 89A) Spherical bacterium (38D) Not regularly standing (39D)

French: Name originally proposed for Utah (70A) <> not sure this is actually French, but French-sounding. <> Nobleman above un conte (1D) Les Aleoutinnes, e.g. (10D)
Chicory variety (15D) Department capital SE of Paris (51D) French for "twenty" (62D) End of many town names (63D) Par _____ (64D) Paris's Place _____Bastille (87D)

And then some clues, some answers that skewed non-English, although some of this may be a stretch.

Pal (27D), Persian rug (30D) Big eye, on some menus (56D) Mild light-colored cigar (84D) German Industrial region (85D) Nanny, in Nanjing (90D) and OED as the answer to 96D.

I did enjoy solving it, but it struck me as very WOTE.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

meta-analysis is a revelatory religious experience

well... some folks find such just as bogus as Bayesian! opinion dressed up in arithmetic.

chicory is still with us: https://www.orleanscoffee.com/how_to/what-is-chicory/

Joaquin 12:27 PM  

@Rube (8:49) - Fully agree. It's a "puzzle" so every entry should interlock with a prior entry. That's the way I solve, too. Others seem to think it's a race, but that takes the joy out of it for me. Oh well; to each his own.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

"Nobleman above un conte" had me struggling forever, because I couldn't think of an appropriate 4-letter French title (duke being duc in French).

But the French word for count isn't conte, it's comte. The clue was asking for the Italian word for duke, not the French.

Z 12:48 PM  

@jberg - I always read the note after solving. Early on in the new format (For those who don’t solve in the magazine: the mini interview is gone from the last page of the magazine, replaced by a larger print version of the puzzle - a concession to the aging NYTX solving population?) I read the note before solving only to find spoilers there. Now I avoid the possible spoilers by waiting until I finish to read the note.

@Birchbark - Aquinas and Anselm joining my Pope/Bacon/Plato/Socrates riff. That’s a lot of dead philosophers for a Sunday morning. I feel like I need a shower to get the stink off.*

*Make up your own footnote.

sf27shirley 12:51 PM  

Tut Tut, amigo, my cheeks were full of coffee as I idly read the comments and now my clothes teem with the acrid odor...

sf27shirley 12:56 PM  

Many puzzle words aren't allowed in Scrabble either

pabloinnh 12:57 PM  

Hey @JoeD-No song links today? You been busy? Count me among those who say well played, sir. Well played indeed.

If you have my kind of eyesight and solve on paper, this was the Sunday to finally dig out the big magnifying glass. Yikes. And a Sundazo in the sense of its being a Big Boy. Learned some new words, found some things I didn't like, kept going for the sake of keeping going, and finally wrote in roadstead, all done, and started massaging my writing hand. All this roads discussion made my think of Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico, same usage, I'm sure.

Not my favorite Sunday ever, but there sure was a lot of it.

Carola 1:00 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - Now I know why I did the puzzle. LOL, and I mean it.

Refusing to read the Note (which I've found sometimes reveals too much), I searched the completed grid in vain for a theme, then gave up and learned it was a themeless. Hmm. As for the "lively" vocabulary, while solving I did give a nod of appreciation to CADGING, SLAKES, COALERS, and ROADSTEAD (extra gratification there, because I remembered it) next to SHORE PATROL. Also liked EERIE x WEIRDEST.
@Hartley70 - Same thought here about the title.

bigsteve46 1:01 PM  

I am a rather classic old fart newspaper guy who has always done the puzzle in the printed newspaper with pen and ink - and kind of looked down my (rather large) nose at the on-line solvers, with their obsessions with solving times and whines about technological glitches, etc. BUT - I just spent over 2 months in Europe, often in places where my overseas NY Times in print was unavailable, so I subscribed to the NYT puzzle on line, fully intending to cancel when I got home and could once again stroll out to the front yard each morning to pick up my daily paper.Well, I'm home and I now have my real newspaper delivered each morning, but I have gotten addicted to doing the puzzle on line. It really doesn't make sense: having the actual newspaper delivered costs a fortune (now approaching $1000/year - not including the Xmas gift to the deliverer, which she truly deserves since it's there like clockwork before 7:00 AM every day.) And I still have to pay whatever it is for the online puzzle. But doing the puzzle on line is so much simpler and - for some reason much, much easier, or so it seems to me. I'm not sure why, but I think the ease with which you can make a wild-assed guess and then correct or over-write it. Whatever the reason, it's just easier - and I've reached the age where I no longer seek out unnecessary challenges. And - this has also answered my question about people's obsession with their solving time. That still doesn't interest me - but there it is everyday so its hard to ignore and I can see how one could get obsessed with it. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all! (A good secular holiday with no Wise Men and mangers or crosses or crucifixions.)

USNR boy 1:06 PM  

I was a US Navy Lt. (jg) during the Vietnam era and I can assure you SHOREPATROL duty on the streets of Olongapo was not limited to Petty Officers. We all shared in the fun.

Mike F. 1:07 PM  

New to crosswords, and this page -- subscribed to the NYT in October and have been doing these puzzles since.

This one was hard -- 1:08:47. I'm still learning fill (coalers,Arness, Spillane). SE corner went first; SW jammed me up. Couldn't finish without checking the puzzle.

Newboy 1:19 PM  

@What? At 10:32 you should try the puzzle from the other coast for more amusement. Today’s LAT was — dare I say — much better than the NYT for an UNnforgettably punny solve. Thanks @Joe for the great riff on a puzzle that left even @Lewis with little to praise. Glad Mr Longo gave us something to chat about on a Sunday when responses are as varied as the national weather seems to be.

Newboy 1:29 PM  

@What? at 10:32

Try the other coast; today’s LAT is UNforgetably punny fun compared with NYT today. Thanks also to @Joe for a great riff on a puzzle that even stretched @Lewis to uncover the brightest spot. And of course thanks to Mr Longo for providing a puzzle that engendered responses as varied as today’s national weather seems to be.

Tita 1:40 PM  

Hey folks. Busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, which I got volunteered into hiding this year.

Had to give here to find out what the theme was. Glad I did! It's so nice to see all my friends.

My puzzle-inspired memory today brought to you by 42A. Picnic, e.g. one of my very earliest memoires. Parents said "Let's hook out for dinner tonight."
I was so excited! A PICNIC! At night!
They and my siblings had no idea why I refused to go inside the building when we got there.
"No no... We're eating out... We're having a picnic!!"

@Kathy...I had pricey for that Michelin restaurant.
Agree with you about the actual answer.

Thank Mr. Longo for this rate themeless Sunday.

And thanks @Joe for that great bit of creativity!
(A guide day to pop back in!)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

CDilly52 2:02 PM  

@jae. One of my earlier careers was as a professional instrumental musician and I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation of Mozart in the Jungle. While accessible and delightful for everyone, the “in jokes” that musicians will understand are exceptionally on point.

CDilly52 2:08 PM  

@Joe D: Wonderfully conceived and presented. I, too, have some coffee “splat” from sudden bouts of laughter!!

QuasiMojo 2:14 PM  

Many thanks for the warnings about fixing my microwave @Conrad and @Better Safe than Sorry. I guess I'll just use it as a clock and lamp for now and buy a small portable unit to heat things when needed. You're both a caution! :)

Hack mechanic 2:36 PM  

A sailor so roadstead no prob,
Stuck with amorous (never heard or used amative) so totally lost on that corner

BobL 2:45 PM  

NICEST Sunday in a long time. Thanks Mr. Longo.

Slow Motion 3:01 PM  

Although NaCl is held together with ionic bonds, there are no NaCl molecules, just a big lattice where each Na+ ion is surrounded by a bunch of Cl- ions, and vice versa. There are no discrete molecules like there is, for example, in water or carbon dioxide.

Joe Dipinto, that was great!

Unknown 3:11 PM  

I, too, thought I'd never want to solve online (or read ebooks) but now I'm hooked. I think that you can get a rather substantial discount to the online puzzle if you subscribe to either the print or online NYT (although not sure how that works and it might have been a one-time deal - but, hey, it's worth checking out). I especially agree with the timing comments. I ignore the clock and find it anathema to enjoying a puzzle in my leisurely fashion - but maybe that's just because I'm slow! I did notice a 5 sec. time on the mini crossword and felt a little puffed up - glad I don't know Rex's time for it!

Steve S 3:20 PM  

Perhaps the bloggers have overlooked the constructor's thematic insertion. I refer to 101A. Do we not see RARE DISEASE? Imbedded within is red sea--all letters in order. The title OPEN WIDE certainly could be envisioned there.

That aside, I found this puz to be everything an avid solver could/should savor. Plenty of misdirection, minimal junk fill, if any, and the crunchiness that makes the solve worthwhile.---I vote yea.

Maddiegail 3:28 PM  

@Joe D: You, sir, are a caution! Thanks!

Frantic Sloth 3:54 PM  

Every time “Seven Years in Tibet” shows up, I’m reminded of a famous film critic’s (oddly, I don’t recall which one!) review, which I believe was entitled “Seven Years in My Seat”, so clearly no need to read on for his/her critique. I’ve never actually seen the film and I’m inclined to agree with Rex regarding using “hit” as anywhere NEAR an accurate description.

Perhaps if the screenplay were written by @Joe Dipinto things would have been very, very different. Bravo, sir! And thank you - today the land of Commentdom has been roundly bitch-slapped into its comparative inferiority.

GetWynded 3:58 PM  

A day like this rainy, with a chance for cozy makes for a perfect puzzle day - and this one stunk. The ones I couldn’t get I could never have and didn’t feel any worse for it And the ones I did get I thought, so what. Same take aways as Rex, it only took me longer, with a couple of blanks and a little help from Google.

JC66 4:03 PM  

I sure can't compete with @Joe D (great job)but, as a take off on an old, unPC joke, would 2 usurpers on a bed of lettuce be a SEIZER salad?

David 4:28 PM  

Thanks so much Joe Di; you made it worth it.
It seems everything just was what it is. Shore patrol. Rare disease. Data analysis. and on and on and on and on. Meh.

I learned amative, so that's okay. I have several triodes in my stereo system, at least 2 of them (one double triode tube) are amplifying radio frequencies, the others are busy with other frequencies.

Does Rex really believe there was an autobahn between Italy and China back in the days of the Silk Road?

Joe Dipinto 5:04 PM  

Thanks to all for the generous feedback. You guys are great. @pablo, I did link to "Vehicle" by the Ides of March toward the end of the "movie".

As for the puzzle itself, I much prefer a good theme on Sundays, but I'm not averse to having an occasional themeless, if it has some zing in the cluing and answers. This just seemed so totally dry, although looking back at the completed grid, it seems more interesting than it did while I was solving it. So I don't know. I say the NYTimes should stick with themes on Sundays just to be safe.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

@joe another long time lurker here, sometime commenter, *loved* this! As I solve later in the day it was wine that, well, nevermind. Thank you!!

Z 6:56 PM  

TFW Crossworld and UltiWorld collide. To be fair, it’s been awhile since the most famous suburb of Minneapolis has appeared.

@David - I don’t understand your autobahn comment? I perused the post again and still don’t get your point.

Amelia 7:10 PM  

I'm going with the minority (if I'm counting correctly) and will say that I LOVED the puzzle. Didn't mind that it was themeless. In face, I may prefer it on Sundays. LOVED the crunch. Nothing was particularly easy, which is the way I like it.

I can't remember the last time I had this experience with a Sunday puzzle. For years, I stopped doing them because they were so stupid. If they were like this every week, I'd be a happy camper.

Thanks, Mr. Longo.

pabloinnh 7:56 PM  

@JoeD-Well of course you did, and I glided right over it. My bad.

I really should know better.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Re autobahn: I guess the point is that "road" hasn't always referred exclusively to what we now call roads. For example, the Silk Road was not necessarily exclusively land-based, but also included portions that crossed water. Therefore the kvetch about ROADSTEAD not being an actual land-based road seems weak to him.

sixtyni yogini 8:52 PM  

Interesting to mix up puzzle 🧩 types ie NO theme, but alas, it was booooo-ring.

WeesaSuzi 9:20 PM  

DNF and DNC (did not care) after a 55-day streak...SW corner made me just not even give a damn. Oh well...I’ll be back tomorrow.

gilly 10:21 PM  

I'm totally cool w/ a themeless Sunday once in a long while. Solving _any_ long answer piece by piece can afford a pleasure, so I'm willing to occasionally trade a few yucks along the way to get all these broad gauge areas.

Would've been nice to get a little more color, though--as that seems to be what Shortz is specifically calling for in a themeless. No lack of of big, long, breadsticks here--might've been at an Olive Garden. Was glad to finally get to the bottom of the basket, even if I was a little underwhelmed that under it all I was ROADSTEAD..

Overall, better than most recent Sundays. Yet having finished it and feeling totally SATED--to put it mildly--I'm looking forward to returning to regular Sunday fare.

toddh 11:02 PM  

The correct answer is RED NOSES and no one can tell me otherwise. I got a DNF because of that SW area

Nancy from Chicago 12:05 AM  

Unlike Rex, I am mad at this puzzle. For one thing, I expect a theme on Sunday. Fridays and Saturdays, I expect a tough themeless puzzle and I am relieved when I solve them. This one broke my streak for no reason - what the hell is "roadstead" and what does it have to do with boats? Crossed with "Amatis" (what?) and "Nicest" (not a word that comes to mind for Michelin-starred restaurants) and "Came due" for matured - ok, I get that. But then you also have "Mimesis" which I couldn't get at all from the clue. The whole corner was mystifying and too hard for a themeless Sunday. Boo.

chris b 2:10 AM  

This puzzle had the worst difficulty to payoff ratio of all time. So hard and so boring.

Unknown 9:05 AM  

Agree w/ Rex 100%. 'who wants a longer friday/saturday...'

Joseph 1:59 PM  

I kept going only because I wanted to find out what P&G's worst invention was. First DNF Sunday in a long time due to the SW. Never heard of SAAR or ROADSTEAD or MIMESIS or AMATI or COALER so I was screwed.

PatKS 3:07 PM  

My longest finish time in history but I am proud that I did it finally with no cheats.

Lots of stuff I never heard of:

Things I never think of IONIC BONDS, ESTERS (as in wine)

I never read the Old Curiosity Shop so I didn't know Nell. Maybe I will now unless there's a movie LOL.

I was a summer camper and we did numerous activities but never TIEDYEING.

I knew of CERES but not anything about it.

Never heard DUCA spelled that way.

Never ever heard the term SPLICE. Guess I've been spliced since 1996 though.

My only personal reference to CHICORY is the coffee from Cafe du mode in New Orleans. #SoGood

Have a nice week everybody!

Kreekie 6:26 PM  

Thank you. Just terrific.

Kathleen 10:08 PM  

Love love love this ~ so much better than the puzzle. Thank you!

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

Why the editor's note? It almost seems directed specifically at OFC! Just print the puzzle and let us at it. It took some work, took some time, but wasn't all that challenging. Two popular areas for messing up set me back a bit: Amorous instead of AMATIVE (??) and COALERS. A third, IRate before IRKED, was a momentary bother; as soon as I recognized RIPLEY, that was corrected, believe it or not.

Enough gimmes sprinkled about helped. I took a while remembering that GEPHARDT had a D in there, which slowed me down. I liked it a lot better than OFC; sometimes I just don't understand what would make him happy. Maybe his dogs. Who am I to question People's most beautiful? Jen, put on the DOD sash. Birdie.

Burma Shave 1:58 PM  


to SLALOM (KEEPING up hopes),


rondo 2:27 PM  

So OFL gushes about themeless puzzles on Fridays and Saturdays as his favorites and then complains about this. Mrs. Sharp must be a saint.

I have all of the BOND flicks up to the DANIELCRAIG era on video. I've seen every BOND movie in a theater, starting with Thunderball. DANIELCRAIG is the best actor of all the BONDS; just maybe not your favorite.

People is right about yeah baby Jennifer ANISTON.

I liked this as much or better than some of the half-baked Sunday themes we get. Is OFL experiencing JEALOUSY?

Diana, LIW 5:18 PM  

Just a few unknowns, but the rest was a fun Sunday romp for me. And then I learned some things, so an overall winner.

I agree with @Rondo's assessment re the wife of OFL.

Diana, LIW

rainforest 5:38 PM  

Nice Sunday puzzle. Medium difficulty although I agonized over the MIMESIS/OLESTRA cross. Guessed right but I don't know either word. I had to exhaust my knowledge of fuels in order to get COALERS, and stuggled with ROADSTEAD. The rest of the puzzle was smooth, though.

One of the better Sundays in my opinion, and a themeless, to boot. Nice change of pace.

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

at least rex is consistent as a sad and bitter human. how many times has he been rejected by the times? constantly complaining about a two tiered payment of the life changing amount of two thousand? lol. those who can’t, either teach or bitch.

Kevin 7:21 PM  

I won't mention Julius Siezer.

rondo 2:20 AM  

kevin - good one

manitoba 2:19 PM  

Amative. Are you fucking kidding me.

Michael Leddy 10:05 AM  

"I need a far-fetched adjective,
You can't blame me for choosing amative."

Something Ira Gershwin never wrote.

I'm happy to do these puzzles in syndication.

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