Get lost of stolen in British lingo / SUN 12-29-19 / Locale of 10 Winter Olympics / Hit 1980s-90s show with TV's first lesbian kiss

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Constructor: Andrew Chaikin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:17)

THEME: New Year's Resolutions — themers are just ... New Year's resolutions, but in the clues, they've been assigned to specific kinds of people based on some punny wacky reimagining of the meaning of words in the resolutions:

Theme answers:
  • CLEAN OUT THE HOUSE (23A: Casino gambler's resolution?)
  • SEE FRIENDS MORE OFTEN (32A: Sitcom lover's resolution?) (so, the sitcom "Friends" ... is the joke)
  • GROW MY NEST EGG (51A: Hen's resolution?)
  • GIVE UP OLD HABITS (65A: Nun's resolution?)
  • WATCH WHAT I EAT (80A: Stalking tiger's resolution?)
  • PLAN A PERFECT GETAWAY (97A: Bank robber's resolution?)
  • ORGANIZE MY OFFICE (110A: Union activist's resolution?)
Word of the Day: MARCI Klein (37A: Emmy-winning TV producer Klein) —
Marci Klein is an American television producer best known for her work on Saturday Night Liveand 30 Rock. She has won four Emmy Awards. [...]  In 1989, Klein began a 20-year career at Saturday Night Live. As a producer and head of the show's talent department, Klein discovered a number of future comedy superstars, including: Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Chris Kattan, Darrell Hammond, Sarah Silverman, Kevin James, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, and Ana Gasteyer. She is frequently talked about as a successor to SNL creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels.
Klein has been nominated for 14 Emmys, winning four times, once for Saturday Night Live's 25th Anniversary Special and three times for 30 Rock. She has also been nominated for nine Producers Guild Awards, winning three. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is one of those themes where the clues are *everything*—without pitch-perfect clues, you just have a truly boring list of generic resolutions. Sadly, the clues were, as PUNNY clues go, exceedingly straightforward and never funny. At best, maybe you might grin. Mostly, you're just gonna be emitting low, small groans periodically. Do gamblers really ever CLEAN OUT THE HOUSE. A reform-minded U.S. representative might want to do this, but I don't think it's really possible to "clean out" a damn casino. And why would you GIVE UP OLD HABITS. I have many habits that are old that are quite good and I would never resolve to give them up. That's idiocy. You give up bad habits. Making the subject of WATCH WHAT I EAT a "stalking tiger" was just ...weird. Over and over the clues were just, I dunno, fine, or they missed slightly. It's like the NYTXW is afraid to go all in with their dad jokes. When you've got nothing else to sell but your wacky "?" clue, you need to be nuts. Otherwise, we're just methodically filling in boxes and hoping Monday brings more joy.

Tough going early, as I could not figure out ALPS (27A: Locale of 10 Winter Olympics) (I wanted A...SIA?), had no idea who MARCI was, thought SEE 'N' SAY had an ampersand in it (so wanted a rebused "AND" where the "N" was supposed to go), and thought ["Auld Lang Syne" time] was YULE (it's YORE ... is "YORE" in the lyrics? ... huh). But getting started on a puzzle is often the hardest part, and once I got out of there, I didn't experience much resistance until the very end, at the opposite end of the grid (SE), where I did truly (if relatively briefly) struggle with the very hard clues on SIRIUS (90A: Standout star) and LOTTO (96A: Ball game), as well with the overall concept of BEAUTY ICON (which is a rather limited way to see Beyoncé, imho) (74D: Marilyn Monroe or Beyoncé). I was weirdly put off by WINE TASTERS; of course WINE TASTING is a thing, but something about imagining TASTERS as a category seemed strange to me. But then I realized that of course there are people whose actual job is tasting wine, sommeliers and others whose professions require them to purchase and understand wine, and so, sure, that is in fact a category (as opposed to just calling anyone engaged in wine-tasting a "wine taster"). Sometimes I do overthink these things.

Five things:
  • 21A: The eyes have it (LASH) — absolutely not. If your eyes have a single LASH between them, ask your physician if Emplyzialash™ is right for you
  • 43D: Get lost or stolen, in British lingo (GO WALKIES) — huh. OK. If you say so. 
  • 6D: Actress Metcalf who was nominated for an Oscar for "Lady Bird" (LAURIE) — she has Tonys (two) and Emmys (three). Getting nominated for an Oscar is definitely clue-worthy, and yet the clue makes her seem somewhat less Legendary than she actually is.
  • 93D: Title heroine of classic 60-Across books (RAMONA(60-Across = Beverly CLEARY) — now this is my kind of cross-reference. These were very much my sister's jam when she was a kid. My sister currently owns a three-legged cat named RAMONA (after the CLEARY heroine) and here she is:
  • 63D: "Same here!" ("SO AM I!") — It should always be SOAMI but since it's sometimes ASAMI I sometimes guess ASAMI and when I'm wrong it makes me dislike SOAMI even more than I would if there weren't an annoying doppelganger answer
Hey, if you want to do a really challenging and clever New Year's-themed puzzle, check out "Vision Quest," a cryptic crossword from Emily Cox / Henry Rathvon at the Wall Street Journal puzzle site (you can print out a .PDF here). Excellent clipboard fun!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

Well, that was interesting. A small error gave me big double-take.

I had fAME where I should have had NAME (26A clue - “Reputation”). This gave me as the answer to 15D (“They appreciate a nice bouquet”) the very possible (though highly improbable) entry of “WIfE TASTER”.

Alex M 12:14 AM  

I really thought we'd get a complaint about a clue referencing "The View" crossing LAKEVIEW. It's diatribe worthy imho.

puzzlehoarder 12:14 AM  

Basically a repeat of yesterday's waste of time. A very easy and otherwise completely clear puzzle with a single dnf crossing thrown in just to piss me off.

37A had to be MARCY or MARCI. Once again I made the wrong choice. FIOS is meaningless to me and I naively thought FYOS could stand for "free year of service." As if. I've done too many of those text speech acronyms, to say nothing of too many puzzles.

Phil 12:29 AM  

had no errors... well did have WINE mASTERS for awhile. Anyway quite a feat for my Sundays. I ususally get bored with them 3/4 the way thru and have typos not worth looking for.

But i did put in DAYS for time in Auld Lang Syne as . ‘ in the days of Auld Lang Syne’

Fun thanks AC

Z 12:51 AM  

MARCI SHERRI ESAI RAMI SALTI TAKEI LEI... SO AM I could almost be an alternate theme revealer.

Hand up for giving YORE the side-eye. Sure, it’s correct, but YORE has an Elizabethan feel to it so it’s odd to clue it via Robert Burns.

Agree that bad HABITS would be better, but people GIVE UP OLD HABITS, too.

Is Georgia ever a US state in Crossworld?

chefwen 1:15 AM  

I did grin at 80A, WATCH WHAT I EAT, but that was about it. No real giggles involved, no hah, that was cute! Just a tad bit on the Ho Hum side. Pretty easy also, puzzle partner didn’t even get a shot at it as I was done before wine time.

Did have a couple of write overs 1A SPilL (as in the beans) before SPOIL, SHaRon before SHERRI at 68A (don’t watch The View) put me out of my misery if I ever do. And as do I before SO AM I (Hi Rex)

Off to the L.A. Times puzz.

albatross shell 1:28 AM  

Did not know FIOS. But after seeing it, it did ring that vague bell of seeing it in news articles that I do not read. Thought MARC_ could end in I, O, Y or H. Same problem on the opposite side with EFI and ATTA cross and WINETASTER which could also be WINETeSTER. EF_ could be any letter. An encouraging start I took to mean a good start could be A Toe, A To A, or A Tie which is at least a fair start. But ATTA, when it came to me, made sense of encouraging.

I had fun with the theme answers. They fit well with a nice consistency, and helped make an easy Sunday even easier while watching Penn State win and The OSU lose. I agree they were not overly funny, but quit calling any pun dad jokes. Insulting to puns and old men. **** you Rex.

The best and funniest answer in the puzzle was GRACIEALLEN. Just thinking of Burns and Allen makes my day. Gave me a warm feeling for the puzzle. A few nice clues I'm sure others will mention.

jae 4:07 AM  

Medium. What Rex said.

@puzzlehoarder - FIOS is an east coast thing. The only reason i got it is because we visited relatives in MA just after they signed up for a FIOS trial...otherwise it would have been an I vs. Y coin flip for me.

@mericans in Paris 5:36 AM  

Mixed feelings about this one. Very easy, except for in a few spots. Smiled at the PUNNY theme answers, but no guffaws. As I saw what was going on, didn't exclaim "OH, COOL!"

I do call faute on 42A ("French, say, to a Brit"). No, just no. SNOG is a noun or a verb, whereas "French" is an adjective; the collective noun, "the French", requires a definite article. A SNOG may be synonymous with a French kiss, but nobody says, "They had a good French before she boarded the train". Mrs. 'mericans had first entered FROG, which would be more correct, but obviously doesn't work with the downs.

As for other Britishisms, GO WALKIES was a gimme for me. I used to work in an office with several British colleagues, and so it was a familiar term to me, as in "Better put that wallet in your desk or it might GO WALKIES".

One final cavil: Smoky and PEATY "while similar [characteristics], are not the same and are not present together in all Whiskies". Some would argue, also, that the correct term is PEATed.

Some nice juxtapositions:

-- SMITH next to WELDS
-- SSR crossing SYRIANS, which is in the same neighborhood as BAGHDAD

DENY IT and THROW A FIT are also very apt to the post-impeachment behavior of the Very Stable Genius.

Happy New Year to all! Don't forget to enjoy a PEATY EGGsNOG!

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Give up old habits refers to the tunics worn by nuns

Sluggo 6:27 AM  

@mericans in Paris ... When I was growing up “French” was definitely a verb. “We were Frenching in the back row of the movies for a while.”

Lewis 6:29 AM  

The set of theme answers was impressive to me -- common resolutions that lend themselves to double meaning, from seven disparate realms, to wit (in order): Hygienic, social, financial, personal, healthful, psychological and orderly. The grid is well put together as well. Given these pluses, the solving experience, IMO, would have been memorably special with more spark and bite to the cluing. Nonetheless, Andrew, you produced a most pleasant perambulation, and thank you. Make the philanthropist's resolution, please, to continue to come up with offerings.

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

Oops, screwed up twice. I knew there was something wrong with "sac" as a toothy tool, but my wife insisted yes, yes, yes, and so my stalking tiger's resolution ended being "Catch what I eat" - as in, eat what you kill. Sorta.
And, I went with "snob" for French. Which seemed to work! Except I had no idea what "bowalkies" were...
I loved all the TV references: LA Law, Friends, George Takei...


@mericans in Paris 7:11 AM  

"When I was growing up 'French' was definitely a verb. 'We were Frenching in the back row of the movies for a while'."

@sluggo: Thanks. Where was that? And did anybody in your circles say, "Wanna French?"

smoss11 7:17 AM  

Surprised that Rex didn't comment on the variation in voices (1st person vs. 3rd person) of the theme answers. Guess it didn't bother him as much as it did me.

webwinger 8:33 AM  

FIOS? Could easily have been FOOS or FYOS or FHOS, if you're not up on your TV producers. At least Natick has been around for a long time. Fortunately house rules allowed me to run the alphabet (or at least a portion of it) to get to the happy music.

Also had a problem because I thought the first lesbian kiss happened on Ellen. LAURIE and other crosses disproved that, but I guessed Charlie and Henry clue referred to sEEDS, so LALAs sat there for a long time, until LA LAW (a show I never watched but heard frequent references to) finally hit me.

Agree with others that the theme was pretty meh. Anyhow, finished (again without help from Google) in slightly better than average Sunday time. Now just easy peasy Monday and Tuesday to crush before streaking past all of 2019 into the new year!

JustMarci 8:38 AM  

I’m wondering if the puzzle constructor is related to Carly Chaikin. That and the inclusion of RAMI Malek in the grid would be a nice nod to Mr. Robot.

Jon in St Paul 8:58 AM  

To Rex: I don't believe YORE is in the lyrics, but I believe "days of auld lang syne" means "the old days." (Hence, YORE.)

QuasiMojo 9:11 AM  

I put in SNOB for the French (from the Brit perspective) and never looked back. Had to come here to find my mistake. Otherwise a breeze, which reminds me I had SAIL before SWIM for the athletic event. "Sail away...

"When the storm clouds are riding through a winter sky
Sail away, sail away
When the love light is fading in your sweetheart's eye
Sail away, sail away
When you feel your song
Is orchestrated wrong
Why should you prolong your stay?
When the wind and the weather blow your dreams sky high
Sail away, sail away, sail away."

-- Noel Coward

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Lol “Laure Metcalf is a legend yasssss kweeeeen!” We get it Rex, you’re an ally.

RooMonster 9:12 AM  

Hey All !
This puz appealed to my corny PUN side. I thought the resolutions hit the mark. It seemed they are all things we've all said at one point in our lives, and they were, IMO, clued funnily and punnily enough. So there. 😋

Got a hearty chuckle from @Joaquin 12:04 "WIfETASTERS". Har!

Had a two-letter DNF today, SNOb for SNOG, as was thinking French things, people, etc. not French ad in kissing. And WEIR a new one here, so decided to go with tEIR, as that was something heard of, ending up getting me bOlALKIES. SULure, British people say that! GO WALKIES to me sounds more Australian.

Liked the puz overall. Not too brain draining, some nice clues, and enjoyed the spin on the themers. Well done Andrew.

Happy Dec 29th! 😆


Teedmn 9:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake W 9:32 AM  

I deeply disliked this one. Nothing clever, some clues just plain wrong (HUB ≠ NODE, but is a particular kind of one), and full of sound and fury signifying nothing to me like SHERRI, MARCI, HAUER. Pretty much the randomest assortment of names you could have come up with. Also, cluing LIT with a slang term from the 20's is ridiculous; it also isn't really a synonym. Still don't get SRO.

John H 9:33 AM  

Hated this, mostly. Couple of bright spots, like George Take and Gracie Allen. The themers were dopey. In addition to Rex's examples, eggs don't grow in the nest, they grow in the hen. Worst of all was 3D, Megarich group. It is THE one percent. Make no sense without the definite article.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Agree that a pun-based puzzle should be funnier. However, if the clues had been funnier -- i.e. less straightforward -- would they have been as fair? This was very fair, but also rather meh. Still, as New Year's-themed puzzles go, I'm sure I've seen much worse. This at least is a good idea for a puzzle.

The worst of the themers is WATCH WHAT I EAT. What self-respecting tiger would say that?

A second hand up for what @mericans said about the use of "French" in the SNOG clue. It's completely wrong and I objected to it as I was solving.

Birchbark 9:38 AM  

@Z (12:51) That is some advanced YORE-splitting.

ROMAN is "not italicized" -- provincial thinking at it's finest.

The big waves crashing on a foggy beach, sandpipers a-scurry, I finished the books I brought, and I have a few hours to figure out some nearby establishment that will show the Vikings game. I know there is more to life, but this is enough for now.

J,J. 9:53 AM  

SRO = Standing Room Only, shows up in the NYT puzzles two or three times a month.

Frenching is definitely used as a verb by a significant number of people (probably by more than the number of people who actually say SNOG).

The clue for 1D also seems off - SPCA is an organization, not really a cause per se.

FIOS crossing NARCI was Fri-Sat tough.

I’m with Rex and others on the themes - major “meh”.

Z 9:55 AM  

@‘mericans - Uh, only if you’re the kind of person who asks “wanna kiss?” “To french” was definitely a verb in Michigan when I was growing up.

@anon9:12 - What? “Fan” or even “fanboy” would seem appropriate. “Ally” is an odd choice.

@Joaquin - What @Roo said about your wrong answer.

I was wondering how so many missed Verizon’s FIOS marketing. I looked it up and it’s only available in 9 states (including Michigan). It is available in New York, but maybe a little too parochial.

I see Rutger HAUER has five films coming out posthumously.

@Birchbark - “Advanced YORE-Splitting” should be the title of the comments section. Speaking of which, @Jake W - you parenthetical describes a whole class of clues.

7700 ident 10:00 AM  

I thought the comic foil was the straight man to the wacky and funny partner. Thus George Burns would be the foil to Gracie----no?

Dorothy Biggs 10:05 AM  

"French," as a verb, was very much a thing when I was in my HS years. You wouldn't say, "Wanna french?" unless you were in a pretty progressive kind of relationship where you would ask someone if they want to kiss as if you were wanting to play tennis or something.

One major hangup today was that I thought the Brits thought of the French as SNObs. bOWALKIES, while absurd, seems just as reasonable/absurd as SNOG. Shag, I know...snog, not so much.

Also a problem, MARC-/F-OS...could be anything. Seems this is an editing problem...crossing random lettered technical Verizon offerings with a name that could end it I, Y, O, or even H is an unfair cross, IMO. FhOS looks as legit as FIOS.

Also, I'm not a fan of the pun, so puzzles like this leave me cold. Pun rant alert:

I haven't quite put my finger on my problem with puns...but it has to do with the teller's self awareness. It's one thing to be "funny" and "witty" in your everyday conversations. You say something offhand, it's a funny observation or an aside, but you don't say it to be funny. It just occurs to you to be funny. You say it and you don't really care how it plays in the room. People who use puns almost always look to see if anyone got it. It's self conscious. Self aware. Self ingratiating. Needy even. Ugh.

People who are sarcastic or just plain humorous may also say things to intentionally get a laugh, but usually it's an invitation to laugh...not a demand. Of course, there are definitely people who try to be funny (without using puns), and they aren't funny either. Unless you're a stand up comic and are legitimately being paid to be funny, and I've chosen to sit through your routine, spare us all and just be normal. Go ahead and be funny, point out funny things, talk smack using funny inside jokes, but don't try to make me laugh. I hate having to laugh. I hate being put in a position where my laughter is somehow tied in with your self worth. My groaning is not a good sign, is what I'm saying.

The only thing worse than puns is, "That's what she said." Even on The Office that joke was used ironically.

Teedmn 10:21 AM  

MARC? crossing F?OS was my downfall today. I tried MARCo and then MARCy before using the reveal button for that very last entry. It's Sunday, so I don't care as much about time or perfection. And I see I had company with that error.

My first full themer was the least interesting, in my opinion - the union activist organizing his office. My favorite was the nun giving up old habits, followed by the hen's growing nest egg. I think this theme is clever and well-executed, over all.

Not much wordplay though (I'm still looking). I guess I see the misdirection of "Standout star", 90A's SIRIUS, as kind of fun. Is the clue for 82D supposed to be referring to an earlier puzzle from this week?

I have plenty of Creeping Charlie in my yard, but Good-King-Henry was new to me. Google says it's European. Great, keep it over there!

Nice job, Andrew Chaikin.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

I have FiOS and it took a couple of crosses for me to get it. Verizon sold off their assets here in Texas (and a few other southern/western states) to Frontier, so I've long since disassociated FiOS with Verizon.

Hungry Mother 10:38 AM  

Had to turn on the red letters at the end, but did okay. Missed TIVO at first, even though I had one for a few years.

Joey Chestnut 10:44 AM  

I like to inhale hot dogs,
Guzzle 25 year old single malt scotch whisky
Speed read poetry
Snarf(or scarf} down fine meals and...
Race the clock when doing the NYTXP.


Anonymous 11:02 AM  

The clue for 28A is wrong. is not a URL, it is a hostname. A URL also requires a protocol (http, https, ftp, etc.) and must follow certain syntax rules. is a URL but alone is not.

Ken Freeland 11:05 AM  

Fee, Fi(os), Fo, Fum... I smell the flood of an English slang! Gowalkies? How can a word used to describe a past action end in "ies?" Have the Brits forgotten their syntax? SNOG? Fer real? Combine this with provincial Verizon techno-speak, a ton of PPP whose subjects' notability appears to be a penchant for having weird first names, and the prospects of a DNF go ballistic.

Joe Dipinto 11:07 AM  

Elizabeth Warren phoned – she doesn't approve of the puzzle hosting a wine tasting event for the one percent. But she took a selfie with it anyway.

I liked the theme. A mildly amusing New Year resolution list was just the right amount of "oh, cool" for the tween-holidays weekend. The fill was fine, not bad, not great. I inferred that "French" was being used as a verb in the clue for SNOG, though I never encountered it as such.

Laurie Metcalf may be a good actress but she's not "legendary". Sorry Rex. Remember the weird song about Laurie and the sweater and the graveyard?

leah712 11:18 AM  

I really liked the theme answers. Anytime you can repurpose preachy advice (watch what I eat, clean out the house) into less moralistic meanings, I'm all for it. Also loved the Beverly Cleary/Ramona double shout-out. I loved those books as a kid and read them to my millennial daughters, who at least listened politely.

albatross shell 11:33 AM  

Sail Away makes me think of Randy Neuman. Not sure it would be a good idea to post those lyrics here. Too many Short (on humor) People?
In America you'll get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet...

The stalking tiger was resolving to practice his stalking skills, not regulating his diet. That's the joke. Maybe you were joking too? But you said it was the weakest of the theme answers.?

Carola 11:34 AM  

For. me, WATCH WHAT I EAT was worth the price of admission. Although, upon reflection, if the tiger hadn’t already been keeping a laser-beam focus on his prey heretofore, it was likely to be a very hungry tiger. Bonus points for the Britishisms cross of GO WALKIES and SNOG (and its “French” clue0 and for the surprise of seeing GRACIE ALLEN appear.

pabloinnh 12:08 PM  

OK, not great puns but the "dad joke" aspect made me think of my Dad, so fine with me (we've been through this before).

I'm with JoeD in not having seen FRENCH as a verb, but able to infer that as clued.

The SOAMI/ASAMI quandry made me think of my now adult son's approach to this when he was
much younger. Instead of the ususal childhood "me too" he would be more likely to say "same as I". That one never shows up in crosswords though.

Nice little Sundecito for me, for which thanks, AC. I do notice that the numbers in the puzzle boxes continue to shrink, however, and I wish the NYT would do something about that.

Feliz Ano Nuevo to all, and the lack of the tilde still makes me snicker.

Dr. Gary Johnson Ph.D 12:18 PM  

Remember the first lesbian kiss on TV? That was hot! Hot and edgy! Did you know the first toilet flush on TV was on All in the Family? it’s true! I don’t remember the first TV fart.

Ron 12:26 PM is a domain, not a URL! A URL starts with http and ends with the path to a page or a /! I resisted filling in URL as long as I could.

Nancy 12:35 PM  

Nice one, @Joe Dipinto! (11:07) I may like Elizabeth more than you do, I really can't tell -- which is exactly how a good-natured and apt political joke should play -- but your witticism is timely, trenchant, and fair. (For my part -- I like Liz well enough but probably won't vote for her since I feel she would be unlikely to attract Independents and moderate Republicans.) But kudos, Joe, on nailing the [completely unintended] humor of her recent campaign. Fortunately (and despite her sometimes unfortunate tendency to appear over-earnest, bathetic, even), Warren has a rare ability to laugh at herself. Rare, especially, among politicians. And therefore, to echo all those men who thought "W" was someone they'd "like to have a beer with", Elizabeth Warren turns out to be the candidate who I'd most like to have lunch with. Damn, but she'd be fun! This, even though I'll probably end up voting for someone more centrist.

Z 12:36 PM  

@URL complainers - If this were a computer science class you’d be correct. But this is a crossword puzzle where how the language is used informally is fair game. Richie: “Hey Ralph! What’s the URL for that dating site again?” Ralph: “Do you mean or”

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I too had cATCHWHATIEAT, which very well might be a New Year's resolution for someone trying to live off the grid. Of course, I had no idea why a SAc was a toothy tool.

My word processing software offers Times Roman as a font, and it definitely allows me to italicize it.

Union activists are really not very likely to be organizing their office. They would not be organizing the office of the union for which they work, and they would only very rarely be office workers for a company.

Isn't CLEANOUTTHEHOUSE a pretty radical New year's resolution? Cleaning it up, sure, but OUT?

Nancy from Chicago 12:50 PM  

@Joaquin, I had the same WIfETASTERS mistake and was equally baffled until I figured it out. :) I thought this puzzle was mildly entertaining but the themers could have been funnier.

Joe Dipinto 1:17 PM  

@Nancy – I think all the Dem candidates have qualities that can be poked fun at. SNL's parodies of the debates have been ROFL hilarious, imo.

Re: WATCH WHAT I EAT – I laughed at that answer but had the same thought as @Carola: that the stalking tiger has presumably already been watching whatever it eats – i.e. its prey, before it kills it – so that wouldn't represent anything new for it. Whereas for the others the activity in the answer is something that they might not have done before. A minor point.

Pablo 1:34 PM  

I usually go through at the end of the puzzle and count how many clues were simply "unsolvable" for me. This was not bad for a Sunday. 20.

If the NYTCW has one flaw moving forward, it's that it is hopelessly stuck in the past. At 26, I got into this when a friend in my PhD program convinced us all to start solving. Two months later 90% had dropped the habit. When pressed, the typical answer was, "these clues all feel designed for white men older than 50." Mind you these are very smart people in a very competitive academic program.

Indeed since I've started tracking, most of my "how would anyone ever know this?" clues have been baseball players from 30 years ago (way more baseball than any other sport too, huge generational bias as baseball is fading fast among 20-somethings), French words (most in America take Spanish now), minor role actors from the 70s and 80s, and a slew of history and Latin that I'd consider hard but valid.

This puzzle did a fantastic job of being "solvable." The themers were universal and current enough. Proper nouns were rarely crossed with others, and when they were the intersectional letter was obvious. The older clues were truly timeless and touched many generations (CLEARY, ANDY, TAKEI, DRED,and others).

This is good work. This is actually fun. The tricky bits are able to be guessed or inferred. What's less fun is being "Naticked" in 5 different spots on a Thursday because the puzzle assumes you know every Cy Young winner from the 70s and 80s and remember bands from the same era that never broke the top 100. I'd love to see more of this in end of the week puzzles.

toddh 1:40 PM  

I plopped down WIfEsiSTERS confidently for 15D they appreciate a nice bouquet, thinking of a wedding ceremony. Not noticing I was missing an extra “s” and that really screwed up my north eastern side. Whoops.

Lewis 1:47 PM  

Couldn't help but notice the cross of the ONE PERCENT and CLEAN OUT THE HOUSE.

CDilly52 2:20 PM  

@Sluggo. I agree completely, especially because I was outraged while trying to suss out that clue, thinking that NYTXW had finally gone all the way over the line on inappropriate fill. Wasn’t until I actually got SNOG, that I had my only LOL moment in the whole solve, and for a couple reasons. First, my misplaced outrage, and second recalling what a completely racy, wild and taboo act “Frenching” was in my long ago youth!

J.J. 2:34 PM  

@Pablo - bullseye with your observations and suggestions. Unfortunately, I suspect that nothing will change until Shortz is gone from the scene. I would also add dead popes, random Roman numerals, and worst of all - clues and answers in foreign languages (there is just way too much French, Spanish, Latin, etc) all so unnecessary.

ghthree 2:57 PM  

Luckily, I got the S from 63A first, but alternated several times between the other two.

Got Naticked by 37A and 33D, never having heard of MARCI or FIOS.
My wife Jane recognizes GO WALKIES as baby-talk, but not specifically British.
And she reads a lot of Brit-lit.

We both loved the cat.

Doc John 3:03 PM  

My thoughts exactly on the talented Ms. Metcalf!

jberg 3:06 PM  

Off to the UK, no time to read the comments -- Happy New Year, everyone, and I will see you January 9, if all goes well!

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

@Dr. Johnson (the 18th century one, or the sex toy one?):
I don’t remember the first TV fart.

well... the corollary might be: was there one on film before 'Blazing Saddles' among non-pornos, of course.

ConcernedReader 3:12 PM  

Dear Rex - When is the last time you actually derived pleasure from the NYT xword? I think your blog is a wonderful resource, but maybe it's time to pass the torch to someone who is a bit less embittered.

RooMonster 3:35 PM  

@ghthree 2:57
Don't forget about DITTO. I had that first, but had the sneaky suspicion that it was one of the other (gh)three.

RooMonster SO AS DO AM I Guy

Solverinserbia 3:49 PM  

I had the exact same mistake! Very funny how it turned out.

Kathy 4:04 PM  

I had a lot of respect for this puzzle the entire time I solved, regardless of whether I would be able to finish. It was worth working on it all day in fits and starts. Plenty of perfectly normal answers that were simply clever misdirection. Loads of delicious long themers, enjoyable in and of themselves, but they also fended off many potential Naticks.

I made a few errors, but I don’t feel bad about it and I certainly don’t blame it on the puzzle:
Two Britishisms crossing, neither of which I knew. This is a flaw.
Fame and wife testers, then wine testers. Still wrong...
Was sure it was core for hub but I didn’t know the spiny anteater.
And a couple more misses.

How I loved Beverly Cleary books as a young girl! I hope no one complains about this old-skewing clue because this puzzle seemed to hit all the demographics. Although I could have done without OH COOL.

I would rate this as one of the best puzzles in my one year of solving.

Just read the comments:
Too much hair splitting by Rex. To me the themers were simply a lighthearted romp. Whether they were laugh out loud funny didn’t matter to me. Whether they would actually occur wasn't the point. Even the variations in person didn’t bother me.
I was surprised how many disliked the puzzle.

@Nancy, I took “watch what I eat” to relate back to the fact that the tiger is stalking. I do agree that no self respecting tiger would say that. Never talk while stalking. And chickens should also refrain from talking while laying in their nest eggs.
@Birchbark, hand up for adding Yore-splitting to the lexicon.
@Joe D. Yes, the sweater on the grave after a dream date. What was that twisted plot?

The comments were worth whatever grief the puzzle caused to some!

Well, there is no joy in Natick, the Pats just got eked out by the Dolphins.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

I had Catch what I eat and therefore sac. Don't ask.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Standing Room Only, ie, seats sold out.

Whitey 7:04 PM  

Isn't it a problem to have Georgia = SSR and then have USSR in a clue just a few items later?

Also to have PULLS AHEAD as an answer and "pull down" as a clue?

Feels like sloppy editing again, surprised Rex didn't go nuts

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

This puzzle got auld fast. They could have made it more fun with better theme answers.

Pablo 7:38 PM  

Yes it does seem to be a bit of an old boy's club. There are certain constructors whose names I see on a Thurs, Fri, or Sat puzzle and I immediately know I'll be stuck on a few crossed proper nouns from the past (I obviously won't name names, they are just making puzzles they enjoy).

Some of that is unavoidable, the words need to fit in the grid, but some of it is cluing. It's poor expectations about what is "common knowledge." It's choosing a rotating wheel of constructors who are mostly 60+ white men. It's only allowing "current" clues that are so widely known that you can't get away from them (e.g. ariana grande, omg), but finding NL MVP from 197x totally acceptable.

But you have to circle back around. The target audience is older. Maybe that's a flaw. Maybe it's a vicious cycle (old clues attract old people). But a while ago one answer was "AVICII." Almost no one in the comments knew who he was, but I'd imagine 99% of people under 30 know that name, especially since this was right after his death. So young people aren't doing crosswords. Maybe Shortz has cut his losses and decided to cater to the market at hand.

But at the end of the day it's a puzzle. Probably, the NYT crossword, if nothing changes, will become a much smaller part of America's Sunday mornings, but that's fine. I'm just a guy who likes puzzles, and it's harder this way anyway.

Pablo 8:01 PM  

Kinda surprised people had trouble with FIOS, but upon further inspection it seems like I've only lived in the limited areas where Verizon will literally pummel you with FIOS ads until you start dreaming about it. I just watched a football game and got at least 3 FIOS commercials.

It shows how careful you must be with the perceived fame of various people or services for clues. For me and everyone in the Northeast, FIOS is a gimme.

I guess this is also why we get clues on Tuesdays for Broadway actors and actresses outside the mainstream. Must seem like a household name when they're on every bus that passes you on the street, but try talking to someone in California about those Tony winners. When handled carefully though, these things make crosswords fun. This one was a fun solve for me, personally, but I've had others that left me frustrated.

Richardf8 10:09 PM  

I wanted kCAR for SCAR. I even chuckled at the clue, thinking thak god those things are past. So when it ultimately resolved to scar on the crosses, it was a bit disappointing.

Overall I thought it a good Sunday puzzle. My criterion is: is it something the family could solve together with all but the fussiest (Rex) members amused. I think so for this one.

I liked WATCH WHAT I EAT for the tiger.

The clues may seem a little hackneyed to our ears, but if my assumptions about Sunday puzzles are correct, there are ears that will be hearing them for the first time.

Rex’s snark on 21A was hilarious. More of this and less pissyface would be nice.

Matthew B 11:08 PM  

Last night at the dance I met Laurie...

Dan Miller 12:06 AM  

It is definitely possible to CLEAN OUT THE HOUSE at a casino; in fact, Wikipedia has a fascinating article on the phenomenon.

Anonymous 5:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:58 PM  

Surprised in all these comments nobody mentioned the very top center, with lit, ash and weeds. Contemporary constructor.

Anthony 12:27 PM  

When in Catholic school, we were asked to compose a description of one of our classmates and then the class would try to guess the identity based on the description. Wanting to be different I chose our teacher, a nun, and included that "X has the blackest habits of all." No one could guess the subject of my narrative and when I had to give up the identity, my teacher was not pleased and gave me a D grade. After class I tried to explain my intent and asked if I was wrong in thinking her attire was called a "habit". She gave me a smile of recognition and changed my grade to a B.

rainforest 2:35 PM  

This was reasonably engaging Sunday puzzle with a theme and its execution that I enjoyed. I think the re-purposing of the resolutions worked just fine.

I'd say this was an easy-medium offering where not much resistance was encountered. Still, I had slow-downs at the CLEARY/RAMONA cross reference, and at the MARCI/FIOS cross (there the "I" just seemed to be more likely than an "O"). I also still don't understand how EFT and "direct deposit" are related. Nevertheless, a good, unsloggy Sunday.

spacecraft 3:27 PM  

Curious: OFC used the word PUNNY in his comment but in lower case, as if it weren't in the puzzle. The theme in fact WAS PUNNY, which I don't mind.

So, GOWALKIES doesn't only apply to dogs. Who knew? I had to change the -ing ending on that one--and also on the end of MEDITATIVE. Those, and converting SHERRy to SHERRI were my INK blots today.

Agreed that bad habits are better to give up than OLD ones--especially if the old ones involve a GYM. Other than that I thought the theme was solid and enjoyable, as was most of the fill. Easy-medium for me, with a OHCOOL mini-theme of TREK/TAKEI. DOD is BEAUTYICON LAILA Ali. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 3:52 PM  

Eek! I see we EKE'd out another Sunday puzzle.

Personally, I'm still deciding about resolutions. I'm leaning toward attitudes rather than gym reps or diets - that kind of thing. But there will always be

me...waiting for crosswords.

Diana, Lady-in(see above)

Burma Shave 4:24 PM  


a MERE ONEPERCENT chance of REAL failure,


Paul Versailles 5:03 PM  

Oooops! You really missed the point, Rex. A nun's "habit" is her uniform, so giving up her habit is when she getes new clothes. Also, a stalking tiger watches what he (or she) does while stalking its prey, before killing it and eating it.

rondo 5:11 PM  

LAURIE and SHERRI. A true story, from the end of July in a drought year back in the '70s. We were all TEENs, my buddy and I a year or two out of high school, LAURIE and SHERRI about to be seniors. Both LAURIE and SHERRI were at least 5'11" and athletic, like nothing you ever SAW. Probably the hottest day of the year and LAURIE and SHERRI were ambling the half-mile or so from a local swimming hole back to LAURIE's house. No bikini cover-ups, MEREly carrying towels, drying off and tanning, 'advertising' and READY. Buddy had just bought a Dodge van, all the comforts of home in back. We spied LAURIE and SHERRI along the road and INASECOND they said "OHCOOL" and accepted OUR offer of a ride. A simple U-turn and APERFECTGETAWAY. ANDSO, one of the best summer days all four of us ever SPENT. Never to be repeated. What more to SEE'N'SAY?

I had to change baDHABITS to OLDHABITS. The NAMEs LAURIE and SHERRI made it worthwhile for me.

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