Sci-fi character depicted as glowing red dot / SUN 12-1-19 / Flanged structural support / Onetime home of Vikings Twins / Umami enhancer for short / Salt's hip-hop counterpart / Hindu tradition that's two men's names in reverse / Eponym of London insurer

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Easy (8:50)

THEME: "Actually ..." — themers are terms that are misleading on a literal level:

Theme answers:
  • 25A: ... it abuts water on only one of its four sides (RHODE ISLAND) (not an island)
  • 32A: ... it's an ellipse (ST. PETER'S SQUARE) (not a square)
  • 59A: ... it was predominantly German (HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE) (not really Roman)
  • 83A: ... it's an American name for a German game (CHINESE CHECKERS) (not Chinese)
  • 108A: ... They're of Indian origin (ARABIC NUMERALS) (not Arabic)
  • 118A: ... It's a woodwind from Central Europe (ENGLISH HORN) (not English)
  • 4D: ... It's a rodent native to the Andes (GUINEA PIG) (not ... Guinean?)
  • 16D: ... It's a legume (PEANUT) (not a nut)
  • 85D: ... They're lousy places to sleep (RESTROOMS) (says you!)
  • 100D: ... It usually comes from sheep (CAT GUT) (not made from cat guts)
Word of the Day: Maxim GORKI (sp!?!) (4A: Russian novelist Maxim) —
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov (Russian: Алексе́й Макси́мович Пешко́в or Пе́шков;[1] 28 March [O.S. 16 March] 1868 – 18 June 1936), primarily known as Maxim Gorky (Russian: Макси́м Го́рький), was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method, and a political activist. He was also a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature.[3] Around fifteen years before success as a writer, he frequently changed jobs and roamed across the Russian Empire; these experiences would later influence his writing. Gorky's most famous works were The Lower Depths (1902),  Twenty-six Men and a Girl (1899), The Song of the Stormy Petrel(1901), My Childhood (1913–1914), Mother (1906), Summerfolk (1904) and Children of the Sun(1905). He had an association with fellow Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov; Gorky would later mention them in his memoirs.
Gorky was active with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime, and for a time closely associated himself with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov's Bolshevik wing of the party. For a significant part of his life, he was exiled from Russia and later the Soviet Union. In 1932, he returned to the USSR on Joseph Stalin's personal invitation and lived there until his death in June 1936. (wikipedia)
• • •

GORKI is just wrong. Please don't try to lawyer this one, please don't wave some dumbass reference book at me, just know that no one knows him as GORKI. That spelling isn't even mentioned in his wikipedia write-up. It's GORKY. Just as the novel / movie is "GORKY Park." It appears that maybe the Germans stylize him as GORKI. But playing fast and loose with conventional spellings like this is awful. It will make you no friends. It is the worst of olde-timey crossword gimmicks come to life. Eschew avoid and elude this sort of nonsense, please. Bad enough I gotta remember that ENESCO can alos be ENESCU and vice versa. Stop the madness. As for the theme, it's fine. Mansplaining is bleeping annoying irl, and trivia like this just doesn't interest me much, and some of these aren't very "you don't say"-ish. I mean, I am surprised to learn that the ENGLISH HORN is not English, but I'm not sooooo surprised to learn that RESTROOMS are lousy places to sleep. Unless the constructor or Will has tried to sleep in a restroom, I don't count this clue as valid at all. Pictures or it didn't happen. Still, it's an interesting premise for a theme, and some of the revelations were real revelations, so no problems there. Fill-wise, things could've been much better. ASON ASLAP SSTARS and ENDE are really not good. Maybe you can have two of those, if you're desperate, but four is an awful lot. That's in addition to the GORKI baloni, remember. Still, I'm inclined to give this the mildest of thumbs-up(s). It went by quickly and the theme concept kept my interest.

I had my fastest time in something like five months, which is odd, because I feel like I really flailed around a lot, especially at the end. Hard enough to suss out the awful ENDE and RES, whose clue I don't even really understand (57D: Pixelatedness, for short). I guess if it's Hi-RES it has a hi(gh) number of pixels? OK. Still, though, with junk fill like RES, why do you want to draw attention to it. Really hate EXIT SIGNS, since actually (actually!) I don't see actual EXIT SIGNS at the clover leaf near my house (66A: Things around a cloverleaf). I do, however, see a ton (well, four) of EXIT RAMPS, which fits, and is the superior answer. Got through there only to get totally baffled by BOOT (82D: A rancher might pull one over a calf). Totally bit on the misdirect there. Wrong calf, for sure. But still I soldiered onward down that treacherous-feeling east coast until my worst moment—the SSE, where three abutting Downs (ITCH, DYNAMIC, USEBY) all eluded me, as did the ROOMS in RESTROOMS could've been so many things (I like my first answer REST AREAS, much better, because at least I can imagine someone actually *attempting* to sleep there, unlike a restroom, dear lord). This meant that ARABIC NUMERALS was hard to see. I thought maybe ARABIAN ... something. Couldn't get to STAID from 93A: Serious either. At all. Don't think I've ever used STAID to mean "Serious." So, as I say, flailing. And yet I finished under 9. Might've been something close to a record if not for the flailing. Rest of the puzzle I don't really rememeber, which is better than remembering it for the wrong reasons. Low pass. Good day!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Swagomatic 12:14 AM  

Yeah, Gorki is a deal killer for sure.

Richardf8 1:02 AM  

The ‘I’ in GORKI was a stumbling block, but transliteration sucks. If we’re dealing with something from a different alphabet, you can get away with a lot. No, the thing that REALLY bothered me was CYANS. Especially as clued. You cannot make that a plural. As a primary color in printing, it is one thing, and there are standards (Pantone color charts) that enforce that sort of thing.

But overall, I had fun with the theme. Restrooms was a stretch, mostly because “rest” does not often mean sleep.

One of the things I liked best in this puzzle was interesting cluing for the crosswordese, like heir extension for ESS, and the cute wordplay in the clue for EMU.

jae 1:05 AM  

Easy and interesting. Fun Sun., liked it.

chris b 1:17 AM  

Felt like a bigger version of a Tuesday. Very meh.

Joe Dipinto 1:31 AM  

I can't believe Rex pre-empted my Blossom Dearie song. That never happens. Not to worry. There's other music wafting nearby. I like the reverb on this one.

"Actually" is a word that I say all.the.time. So when I saw it was the title of the puzzle I figured, "hey, this is gonna be good."

Well, it wasn't actually *that* good. There was LIME PIE. Give me a break. Everyone knows it's KEY LIME PIE. And Maxim GORKY. Those pseudo-answers don't even google.

The little nuggets of information concerning the theme answers were interesting in a "huh – I didn't know that" sort of way. Was it *fun* to solve? I don't know that either, actually.

Do I need a microwave to listen to this? Should I ask Kellyanne Conway?

chefwen 1:51 AM  

Thought it was a little too easy, but I still enjoyed it. Brought on a couple of laughs when I filled in some wrong answers i.e. 15D A feel before A PLEA. C’mon, I know I’m not the only one. 98D thinking of Def Leppard, I filled in rapper tone DEF, now tell me that’s not funny. Perfect name for a Rapper, IMO.

O.K. Puzzle that left wanting just a little more.

KevCo 2:08 AM  

I also got stuck at GORKI, but because one of the downs is just wrong. An unnamed person in a suit is DOE, *not* ROE. Through eight years in the law, I have seen plenty of John and Jane DOE, but never once have I come across ROE. This is a weird crossword fiction that I have seen on several occasions. But it's still wrong. I had GODKI, and knew that could not possibly be right, so I took some stabs and got lucky, but...ick.

Klazzic 5:18 AM  

Dear Rex: you see, you turn 50 and instantly -poof- you become a curmudgeon. Does nothing please you, old boy? You must be a joy in the morning. I pray that your wife has her own bedroom, ya big crab. Anyway, I found this puzzle delightful, despite my continued consternation at the ENDE fill. Thanks for clearing up the BOOT clue. I could not figure that out until you spilled the beans. Have a smiling day.
Oh, ACTUALLY., the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden: it's painted International Orange. Ta ta.

@mericans in Paris 5:19 AM  

Happy belated Thanksgiving Day! Mrs. 'mericans and I were in the USA for a week just before Thanksgiving, attending her Dad's funeral (he was just 2-months shy of his 88th birthday) and visiting with her cousins and aunts, and our son.

Mrs. 'mericans filled in most of this one while I was working on Saturday's (tough! I, too, had to google 1D); I contributed only the southern four or five rows. When she told me the theme, my first reaction was, "Is that it?" But once I started filling in the last themers, I did chuckle a couple of times at the answers. I felt I learned a few things, and was reminded

As for ARABIC NUMERALS, however, I learned them as "Hindu-ARABIC". Indeed, the Encyclopaedia Britannica's website seems to agree: "Several different claims, each having a certain amount of justification, have been made with respect to the origin of modern Western NUMERALS, commonly spoken of as ARABIC but preferably as Hindu-ARABIC." The reason is that they emerged in India, but via Arabia. Several modern ARABIC numbers resemble our western ones, including 1, 9, and the dot that represents 0.

Was glad to see the answer to the clue for 99D ("Compared (to)") as LIKENS. I still try to respect the difference in meanings between "compared with" (used to stress difference) and "compared to" (used to stress LIKENesS). A good way to remember the distinction is Shakespeare's Sonnet 18:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Enough OPINES: I have to assemble lunch (lentil soup). Here's hoping everyone's December is a good one!

Anonymous 5:47 AM  

4D: not a pug

Anonymous 6:05 AM  

5:47am - sorry, typo, should say “not a pig”

Lewis 6:19 AM  
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Lewis 6:20 AM  

Well on its way to becoming a candidate to this theme answer set -- and may that change! -- is PRESIDENT-ELECT.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

More to the matter at hand, this smooth, clued-with-care puzzle, with its engaging theme, was a lovely experience. Thank you, Patrick!

Unknown 6:36 AM  

Not "not a Guinean". Not a rodent!
Also, to someone above, as in Roe v Wade.

Berndo 6:40 AM  

First time I’ve finished a Sunday without seeking help for anything whether it was tracking down a typo or looking up an actual answer. Feels like a real accomplishment, even if it was an easy Sunday.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

^^^The anonymous "Roe" is not for John Doe or Jane Doe, but the case of Roe v Wade....

BarbieBarbie 7:41 AM  

Ummmm, @KevCo, are you serious? Doe vs Wade?!?

I give a pass to GORKI because who is to say what’s correct? And to ENDE, as well. You see common French words in the puzzle all the time. Give the Germans some love.

Fast for me but no 8 minutes. I liked this one.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Enjoyed this one more than any other puzzle in the past few years. The theme was interesting and the cluing was amusing. I don't care about Gorky/Gorki.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

___ v. Wade?

Matt Messinger 7:48 AM  

I think nerdsplaining is the new correct way to refer to the "um, actually" phenomena in this context.

Spatenau 7:48 AM  

@KevCo, I wanted it to be DOE at first, too, then I realized it was ROE as in the unnamed person in "Roe vs. Wade."

Suzie Q 7:52 AM  

Fun and easy. Loved it. This was a Sunday that kept me engaged to the end. The theme helped if I knew the answer and entertained me if I didn't. Always like puzzles that teach me something.

Dawn Urban 7:56 AM  
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Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I'm a newbie to Rex's column - introduced to me by my dad, who along with my mom introduced me to these Sunday crosswords over 40 years ago when I was a wee child. I enjoy the back-and-forth, and am often intrigued by the strong opinions and yes, curmudgeon-liness of some folks.

This was one of my fastest NYT Sundays ever: 40 minutes for me is a good time. I don't think I can write all the answers in 8:50 even if told what to write!
So, can I ask how the nimblest puzzlers do it? Do you read all the clues first? Do you simply know everything and write as you go? Is your writing legible??


Charles Magne 8:07 AM  

"59A.. it was predominantly German (HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE) (not really Roman)"

not really holy, either

Hungry Mother 8:20 AM  

One minute over my best Sunday effort. Very entertaining theme. I forgot LAURA for a while, even though my kids and I watched all of the episodes.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Actually, I and three other hikers slept in the Newfound Gap restroom on the Appalachian Trail last year after getting caught in a blizzard. It was wonderful to be able to get out of the dangerous weather. I never thought I’d be happy to sleep by a row of urinals. It was definitely not a lousy place to sleep.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Gorki is wrong. It can be Gorky or Gorkii, or even Gorkiy or Gorkij, but Gorki is a Polonized spelling of a Russian name, something Gorky himself would not particularly appreciate!

nashola 8:47 AM  

Like Joe Dipinto, I have never heard of nor eaten a LIMEPIE. Everyone knows it is Key LIMEPIE. ACTUALLY... a mature properly ripened Key lime is yellow.

GILL I. 8:47 AM  

Oh we get into is a GUINEA PIG a rodent or not. They're sure cute and Google has more ayes than nays.
Interesting crossword. I learned a few things. So the Germans invented CHINESE CHECKERS....I'll be sure and bring that up in my next conversation with my doctor.
I had the same GORKI conundrum . I also think of KNORR as a bouillon cube and Campbells as soup. And, like my buddy @chefwen, I went with DEF. Tone DEF sounds more fun than LOC.
Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Liked it. I learned some things that I had never heard before. Gorki was a problem until the rest filled in and the down word started Yn. Minor inconvenience. Rex is really crusty these days. He needs to lighten up and enjoy the solving a little more. No one is going to know every answer instantly. Not sure if anyone answered Kevco, but the suit name you were questioning was for Roe v. Wade.

pmdm 8:48 AM  

Lou: It's not sstar but S-star. Almost as arbitraty as a Roman numeral, which at least are Roman.

QuasiMojo 8:48 AM  

Y Gorki? I changed it but... reminded me of seeing Kiev recently on the news (yes, that news) spelled Kyiv. Remember when it was TchaikoWski? Make up your minds folkes.

Not a fan of these long-winded themer clues. And that "e.g." after Spoons made no sense to me. I actually was thinking of musical instruments. Didn't we have "cans" recently for drums?

@Joe DiPinto, your link reminded me of the show Emergency! One favor, I miss your quoting lyrics to the songs you select. Have you given that up. I'd be happy to take up the mantle.

Anyone else expecting Egg Cream to show up?

Unknown 9:08 AM  

That's what I thought, but I have no legal experience at all.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

People always want to start off newbie solvers with a Monday puzzle, but I've never understood why anyone would want a newbie solver to think that solving a puzzle was less interesting than watching [green] paint dry. This, to me, is the perfect puzzle for newbie solvers. It teaches them Surprising Interesting Facts and, because they're probably on the youngish side, they won't forget those Surprising Interesting Facts the way I most assuredly will.

On many, many clues, this puzzle was the EASIEST, but then I would SNAP TO when an especially good clue came along: BOOT (82D); KITES (113A); NEUTER (124A); ORPHAN (103D).

As far as the themers went, my favorite clue/answer was for RESTROOMS.

You do understand that I've forgotten many of the Surprising Interesting Facts already. But that's on me, not Patrick.

RavTom 9:19 AM  

One more factoid on ROE: Doe is the first anonymous person in a case or investigation. ROE is the second.

TJS 9:22 AM  

@Quasi, with you on the "e.g." To my mind, that implies a noun, but how is "nestles" a noun? Also not crazy about "dynamic" for "charismatic". What ??

Rex did not wait til he turned fifty to become a curmudgeon (Sp ?). But he really is on a negative roll these days. I'm starting to like how he stretches to dislike something more than when he praises.

Quang Nguyen 9:23 AM  

Loved this one. Maybe could’ve clued it a little harder. As for Gorki/Gorky, it’s actually горького in Russian. Anyway they want to Anglicize it is fine by me.

Ibo 9:26 AM  

Горки is the Russian spelling which is Gorki in English.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

I tried to sleep in a rest room once. A friend and I were hitch-hiking from Vancouver to Calgary and ended up over-nighting about halfway; somewhere east of Kamloops; might have been Sicamous or Craigelachie...... Anyway it was bitterly cold so we went inside the restrooms to get out of the worst of it, and slept on the floor in our sleeping bags.
Yeah, it wasn't very comfortable.

Actually... 9:29 AM  

"It was developed from the old Indian system of numbers (١٢٣٤٥) but Muslim arithmetic introduced it in a completely new form called "Arabic numerals" which are used all around the world today with a point of Zero (0) for the first time. The numerals we use today developed from Arabic letters also the angles, as showing in the picture below"

Link to the image:

So they are "Arabic" numerals, but our current system is a Muslim adaptation of Indian numbers.

Jmorgie 9:33 AM  

MSGis *not* an umami enhancer ... it is literally the definition of umami. added to dishes to provide [not enhance] umami. it was invented by a japanese prof who discovered the existence of umami.

and Gorki with an 'i' is closer to the cyrillic spelling [actually ee or or ei or ie would have been correcter] ... have to get over your english parochialism that the world exists only in eenglish

TJS 9:35 AM  

Forgot to mention, @chefwen, Ton Def is perfect. And I'm ashamed of myself for not thinking of "cop a feel" at first glance.

SouthsideJohnny 9:41 AM  

33D and 37A - two foreign references crossing each other (should be verboten in IMHO), along with LAHORE. Today we also have a college mascot name and what is apparently some sort of a fight song. Throw in one of the NYT’s favorite go-to’s (the made up word), in this case GORSKI, and they are pretty much checking all of their boxes.

It seems like the clue for BAROQUE is a stretch. Yes, things that are referred to as BAROQUE are usually ornamental, the two words don’t seem to go hand-in-hand to me though.

Can anyone explain the cluing for ENDE ? That one still is not registering for me. M

p.s. @Dawn at 7:56 - you may want to consider a spoiler alert when providing solutions to other puzzles.

Dorothy Biggs 9:43 AM  

Does anyone eat "LIMEPIE?" Or is it, and always will be, Key Lime Pie? Maybe a lime tart...but I've never ever heard of Lime Pie, without including the specific kind of lime.

Does the SOLE really make the footprint...or should the toes be included too? Are the toes part of the sole? What about the heel? I guess I think of the sole of the foot to be the part between the toes and heel. I could be wrong.

I think 2D (MINIS) should've been a themer because *actually* some of them are pretty darn big. They may be considered sub-compact, but Smart cars were what I was thinking. I think I've read that the Honda Fit is the smallest *sub-compact* I'm calling shenanigans on the clue. Tortured at best. If you have to have MINIS (plural), then maybe clue it with those "fun-sized" Halloween candy bars or other candies that come in small bags. M&Ms actually can be sold as "MINIS."

That's assuming that 2D "compacter than compacts" is referring to cars...could be wrong here too.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I thought "lousy" was the play on words. So I had PEST before REST.

kitshef 9:56 AM  

Really superior theme, decently executed. Felt kind of choppy and SSTARS and CYANS and DST all in that bottom row makes it feel like the constructor ran out of steam a little.

Also, generally too easy in the cluing. And the Star Wars clue for ANI needs to be shelved. Use the bird or “gimme …” cheer.

Could pick nits with Rhode Island, which is indeed an island – the state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, with the “mainland” piece of the state being Providence Plantations.

But all is forgiven for the wonderful theme.

Before I knew what the theme would be, I was trying to figure out the rebus to fit “chinchilla” in where “guinea pig” wound up.

Rastaman Vibration 9:59 AM  

I definitely disagree with @Jmorgie at 9:53. Umami is one of the five taste sensations (along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter). Umami is used to describe the earthy, meaty flavor of many foods such as mushrooms, meats, soy products, and sauce made from ripe tomatoes. Umami is also associated with foods that are high in glutamates, which is why MSG is used as a umami enhancer.

Just wondering - are there any Marco P. White fans here today ? One of today’s answers could have been clued in his honor, lol.

Mao Zedong 10:01 AM  

It’s a phonetic spelling of a foreign name. Gorki and Gorky sound the same. Works for me.

Z 10:03 AM  

@KevCo - Seriously? You had to go and forget the G.O.A.T. ROE and inundate us with a gazillion corrections?

@‘mericans - I prefer to contrast.

@Anonymous Colin - Solving on the computer and being a touch-typist help. There are videos of the truly fast (Rex is definitely second tier on solving speed) on the interwebs.

I just can’t get worked up over transliteration. As was pointed out, we don’t even consistently represent that long E in English, y, ie, ee, ey, i. So I will buy “annoying,” “non-standard,” or “inconsistent with common practice.” You will never prove that GORKI is “wrong,” though.

Despite all the trivia, this is one of the lowest PPP puzzles ever, an even 20%. With all the other trivia, I guess having Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns was deemed excessive.

Tone LŌC. The kind of song I might have asked a 9th grade English Class to compare and contrast to the Romeo character. And whether they know any Moms who would actually say that. I mean, it’s usually true but Moms never seem to admit it to their kids.

MissScarlet 10:22 AM  

‘Root beer’ would have been a fun addition.

Birchbark 10:22 AM  

Did you know that "the olD met" fits for 121A? It is a nickname for METRODOME precursor Metropolitan Stadium. I didn't put it in, but thinking about it slowed things down in the same way that we sometimes start reading when we mean to be sorting. The Vikings played outdoors at the Met in the cold. The visitors' bench had heaters but the Vikings bench did not -- Bud Grant said they'd get that perk when they won a Super Bowl. And perhaps one day they shall, 'tho the climate control in the US Bank stadium these days is darned near perfect.

CHINESE CHECKERS is my favorite of the themers. The "Actually ..." title reminded me of Oscar in "The Office" and one of my favorite episodes built around the same theme.

Norm 10:32 AM  

This was a puzzle designed for the Cliff Clavins of the world -- you remember, the annoying mailman from Cheers. I could just hear him saying, "Actually, ..." as I filled in each square of this annoying, pedantic puzzle.

Suzy 10:38 AM  

Enjoyed a pleasant, well-clued Sunday puzzle, despite the Gorky hubbub. Thank you, Patrick Merrell.

btw, Rex— can also also be alos??

David 10:41 AM  

Yeah, clue for 9D is more Rococo than Baroque.

My take on the them was, "wow, things that are what they are, how fascinating..." had to come here to find out a town square is supposed to be a literal square and such. That still doesn't enhance the theme for me.

Hand up for a person who's slept in a rest room; it wasn't all that bad.

Pleasant enough puzzle for a Sunday.

Crimson Devil 11:10 AM  

Liked it, especially cluing for EBB, KITES, BOOT, ITCH, and TEA.

Newboy 11:10 AM  

Thanks Patrick for a good start to the new month. I enjoyed the well-executed theme with a title directive that helped me solve its entries. I also appreciated the civil tone of today’s posters and respondents. Certainly , there are quibbles with 95% of printable puzzles, but I can forgive a good deal for=those actually entertaining trivia bits as trade offs . Actually Abissynya!

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Don't bother. Rex has spoken. (Not Russian obviously).
Funny that he feels he can make a pronouncement on that with no expertise whatsoever, yet feels Will and Pat Merrell require not just expertise but first hand experience regarding catching some Zs in the head.
Don't ever change Mike.

John H 11:22 AM  

I did enjoy the theme, but:

96D Dynamic and Charismatic do not necessarily equate.

Kathy 11:25 AM  

When you least expect it, the mighty eel slithers in once again.

Great clue— Septennial symptom!
Nice to see HAL, good clue.

Arty people aren’t necessarily pretentious, I’ve noticed this bias in previous puzzles as well.

Also didn’t care for ALLME

Guessed LOC/CATGUT but at ROE/GORKI I finally conceded and turned on the auto cheater. I had dOE/GOdKI, but, slap, slap, I should have figured that one out myself from Roe. Had Gorky with a Y been emerging, I might have gotten it.

It took me longer then it should have for Rhode Island to come to me. For the past three years, I have lived in this state on the technically correct Rhode Island, which IS actually an island and since modern times has been known as Aquidneck Island. You have to cross one of three bridges to get to it.

I really enjoyed this puzzle DESPITE that one ROE error. It really seemed like there was something for everyone. My struggles were in the north but it was worth it to persevere. Didn’t grok the theme until the comments—thought it might be related to alphabets—but I applaud it, clever and super-sized! Funny, I even questioned the incongruity of a couple of the answers, but never once suspected that this was indeed the theme! My version of the puzzle doesn’t usually have a title, perhaps that might have given it away but I’ll never know.

And DESPITE the few nits, if this were LIKENED to a NYT restaurant review, I would give it a Very Good.

barryevans 11:29 AM  

ENDE, pls explain someone!

nyc_lo 11:44 AM  

My ignorance of Russian literature allowed me to momentarily believe there might have been a “Maxim GODKI” crossed with DOE. But the app refused to play me my little dunce’s tune, so I had to scour the grid for goofs. Finally “Gorky” Park rang a bell, and the R fell into place. So the I/Y controversy sailed over my head, but the clue was still the most problematic one for me. Still came in with a personal best, so I’ll take it.

G money 11:49 AM  

I’m with Colin-
Someone please explain how you can do these in 8-11 minutes every week.
I just went back in and redid the puzzle it took me 50 minutes to do this morning.
I knew all the answers and it took me about 6 minutes.
So, how does someone who has to figure out these answers do it?
Future liberal curmudgeons need to know!

sixtyni yogini 11:53 AM  

Enjoyed it. Some parts were hard and some came easy. 👍🏽🧩👍🏽

kitshef 12:02 PM  

@SouthsideJohnny, @barryevans. ENDE is German for "the end". And the Franks lived in what is now Germany, and much of modern German comes from Frankish. So, in what seems like a stretch, a Frankish finish is ENDE.

Geneva IL 12:07 PM  

Actually.. Jane ROE of ROE v Wade never had an abortion and became a major Pro Life activist.

thefogman 12:09 PM  
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thefogman 12:12 PM  

63D (MSG) could have been an additional themer with the following clue: It's not on Madisson Ave. It isn't square and it's not a garden.

Nancy 12:13 PM  

@Dorothy Biggs (9:43) -- Nice pickup on MINIS as a possible themer. (Pun intended).

@Birchbark (10:22) -- The Vikings treated the the visiting team to a heated bench in the frigid weather, while sitting on an unheated bench themselves??? Amazing! I must remember to call the Vikings the un-New England Patriots and I also must remember to begin rooting for them.

Master Melvin 12:16 PM  

Voltaire said that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.

Carola 12:16 PM  

Easy fun. I enjoyed learning a few new fact-lets.

Joseph M 12:20 PM  

Sunday puzzles usually bore me about halfway through the solve, but this one kept me engaged from beginning to end. Fun theme with interesting nuggets of information. I looked forward to each new themer. Even though I knew the history of CHINESE CHECKERS, I enjoyed being reminded of it here.

Rex gives this puzzle a thumbs up, then devotes his review to complaining about it. I continue to be amused by the lengths he will go to be offended, as in the case of him interpreting the theme as “mansplaining.” I think the wokeness meter just exploded.

Jean 12:24 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle; liked the theme; wondered as usual what Rex must be like when he wakes up. I'm waiting for someone to construct a puzzle with "curmudgeon" as one of the answers. 😊

Jyqm 12:32 PM  

Rex’s rant about a less-standard transliteration with an eminently fair cross at the offending letter is bizarre but, frankly, to be expected at this point. At any rate, this was about as nice a Sunday as I generally hope for — some interesting trivia, not-too-terrible fill, and I was out in under 12 minutes, nearly a personal best.

I’m not really a speed solver, though I do try to get through Sundays in particular as quickly as possible. Trivia themers as opposed to puns or other wackiness meant I could usually infer the longer answers today with only a few crosses (if I didn’t already know the answer outright). Beyond that, I guess I’m a relatively fast typer, even on my phone, and the UI on the app makes it pretty easy to move quickly from clue to clue. That plus a couple decades of solving experience and some of these puzzles just fly by.

SouthsideJohnny 12:35 PM  

@kitshef - thanks for the explanation. Wow, that is off-the-charts weird even by the NYT’s convoluted conventions. A foreign word, clued in the wrong language, lol. It seems so unnecessary, there must be dozens of ways to clue words like that without forcing solvers to jump through linguistic hoops on a pretty much regular basis. Oh well, at least we will get the latest effort from the New Yorker tomorrow.

Oh, and yes, umami is a category of taste (like sour). To state that umami is a certain chemical compound is, well flat-out wrong (like saying that the definition of sour is citric acid, lol).

Music Man 12:48 PM  

I always think of the Scorpions song “Wind Of Change” when I see/hear a reference to Gorky Park.

Oh Please 12:50 PM  

Pigs are not rodents.

Gorki and Gorky are both used commonly.

Masked and Anonymous 1:09 PM  

@RP stuff, first:

* yep … GORKI just ain't quite right. There is a Maxim GORKI Theater in Berlin, tho. And GORKI has been used --rightly or wrongly -- several times to refer to Maxim before, in the NYTPuz. Eight or so times, pre-Shortz, even. Anyhoo -- M&A didn't rightly know how to spell it, so it didn't bother me much, during the solvequest.

* RESTAREAS makes no darn sense, as a theme answer. RESTAREAS *are* actually places folks often REST, after drivin for a long spell. Long-distance truckers, especially. RESTROOMS is not actually where folks REST, unless U maybe count RESTin yer butt on a potty seat. Sooo … RESTROOMS themer, ok, in my book.

This was an A-1 Superb theme idea. Musta taken a decent while, to actually come up with a solid, symmetrical list like this. Well done, Mr. Merrell. Actually.

Also, any puz with VIGNETTE in it has therebywithin sufficiently impressed the M&A. A word with cool bones on it.
staff weeject pick: VAX. NYTPuz debut word. VIGNETTE is a Shortzmeister Era debut word, btw.

Thanx for the great fun and the mouse cartoon, Mr. Merrell. LUV-ed it, Actually.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


Anonymoose 1:17 PM  

@Klazzic, The "Golden" does not refer to the bridge. The Golden Gate is the strait connecting SF Bay to the Pacific ocean. The bridge is named thusly, having nothing to do with the color.

Mike F. 1:50 PM  

41:42. Not my best time for a Sunday but close.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Saw the Bourdain episode from some South American country where GUINEA PIGs are food. Yum

JC66 2:01 PM  

I guess an old joke might be apropos:

"We park in driveways, and drive on parkways."

Tom R 2:02 PM  

I don't care about the poor fill in places (pretty much all puzzles have that), I loved this puzzle because of the theme. I mostly just ignore themes, but I found this one both easy and highly entertaining.

Joe Dipinto 2:04 PM  

@Quasi – I haven't given up posting song lyrics but ever since JC66 showed me how to do hyperlinks I've gravitated toward those.

But here's some lyric trivia related to today's puzzle: In the original "Mac Arthur Park", Richard Harris sang "...the old men playing checkers by the trees". Donna Summer, in her version, sang "...the old men playing Chinese checkers by the trees". For no apparent reason.

Frantic Sloth 2:05 PM  

How embarrassing is it that I had GODKI for the longest time before I realized dOE was supposed to be ROE? The “I” in GORKy didn’t help, so there’s another, albeit stoopit, reason to be annoyed with that ridiculous spelling.

Mo-T 2:05 PM  

I got the gist right away, so I had a fun time figuring the themers.

Been socializing for a few days, so I just caught up on Thursday's Oneonta comments. I moved to the Great Western Catskills in 1972 and commuted to Oneonta for my M.S.

One time, we were at the drive-in movie (yes, Oneonta had the Del-Sego Drive-In) and an ad blared across the screen "Buy your next car at so-and-so dealership in ONE-OWN-TAH New York!"

Obviously the commercial had been done outside the general vicinity of OH-KNEE-ON-TAH.
Perhaps in Chili (CHAI-LIE), NY? Certainly not Delhi (DELL-HIGH), as it is close enough to Oneonta so that people would know how to pronounce it.

I wonder how the Alabama Oneonta mentioned on Thursday is pronounced.

Anyway, I have always remembered that night at the drive-in for the commercial, but I have no idea what movie we saw. Funny how things stick with a person.

old timer 2:18 PM  

I often think Sundays are a dreadful slog, so I was delighted at the wordplay and themers, for all the reasons others have expressed above, and delighted too that the difficulty level was ideal and uniform -- one of those rare Sundays where I could work top to bottom.

Just wanted to explain ROE as in the famous case of Roe v Wade. Comes from English legal usage. Suppose, for instance, you were strolling down Pall Mall, and were set upon by three men, who robbed you of your ASCOT. One you recognized: the SCAPEGRACE Prince Henry of York, son of a royal duke, and grandson of the King. You could not recognize his two henchmen. Your solicitor would advise you to sue Prince Henry, John Doe, and Richard ROE. Always named in that order, in English legal usage.

Here in the United States, we generally use John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, as as yet unknown defendants in a law case, or Jane Doe if the person is known to have been female. In civil cases where the court allows a plaintiff to be anonymous, that person can be named John or Jane DOE. As I recall, there was a Jane DOE and a Jane Roe in the abortion test case, and Doe dropped out of the suit (maybe she had a miscarriage?). So Roe remained as the case wound its way up on appeal.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

The comment that the Holy Roman Empire is/was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, has been around for a very long time, and seems to be attributed to Voltaire.

At least today's clue for LEE didn't set Rex off. :)

Being picky here, but RHODE ISLAND isn't really a valid member of this theme group. The name of the state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the first component being an island also called Aquidneck Island, which really is an island, and contains Newport.

burtonkd 2:30 PM  

the (delicious) key lime pie my wife makes is actually just a LIMEPIE, since key limes are harder to find and more expensive. Plus, we actually enjoy the extra tartness of regular limes. I'd bet we're not the only ones doing this, at least we're not charging anyone:)

Lots of "made you think" AHA moments in the puzzle (and comments). I have visited St Peter's Square - so overwhelmingly big for a human scale that I can't picture what shape it was.

@Joe - I was thinking the same thing about Baker Street from yesterday, wondering if I was not remembering an actual solo in the middle. Baker Street is a staple on the Yacht Rock satellite radio station we discovered a few years ago and enjoy both ironically and unironically simultaneously. As their announcer says, "the music you actually liked while you claimed to be into that other harder stuff..."

oldactor 2:35 PM  

For a Texan, it was weird putting that O in Bar-B-Que.

Danger Man 2:36 PM  

Liked Rex's write up much more than the puzzle

Richardf8 2:48 PM  

It's a fruit as in the fruiting body of a plant, and a vegetable as in eat your vegetables.

Jean 3:05 PM  

Re guinea pigs - that would be Peru. No worse than rabbit or squirrel, I guess, but I'll pass.

Teedmn 3:34 PM  

This puzzle is chock-full of interesting factoids I didn't know (besides that the Vikings and Twins used to play in the unmourned METRODOME) (And RHODE ISLAND, of course). Each one is worthy of a Google search but I'll pass...

Thanks, Patrick Merrell.

QuasiMojo 4:16 PM  

@Joe DiPinto maybe that's because Donna Summer performed in Hair in Germany?

chefwen 4:25 PM  

Just finished the LA Times Puzzle, easy, but fun, fun, fun!

Fred Wollam 4:40 PM  

Anon. male litigant: John Doe. Anon. female litigant: Jane ROE.
(hence, Roe v. Wade); cf. Norma McCorvey).

Fred Wollam 4:51 PM  

S-star. LMGTFU (which, Google) 🤭

Fred Wollam 5:02 PM  

Obvs, we need a word evocatively nestled midway between OVERSHARE and UNDERSHARE... .

CDilly52 5:03 PM  

@chefwen, you are not the only one! And I slammed that answer in certain that it was correct and a harbinger of a humorous “with it” puzzle. Oh well, I got a good laugh.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

RHODE ISLAND real is just an Island. The state's full name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, where the latter bit is the mainland.

"The settlements of Newport and Portsmouth were situated on what is commonly called Aquidneck Island today but was called Rhode Island in Colonial times."
the wiki

PGregory Springer 5:27 PM

Richardf8 5:44 PM  

What, they didn’t install refrigeration in the vikings bench and promise to turn it off when they win a superbowl? No wonder they keep blowing The playoffs

Unknown 5:45 PM  

Jeez, the negativity cloud descends. Why not go back on holiday and save yourself (plus a few other readers) a lot of agita. (No doubt, “agita” also is bad crosswordese. That’s intentional.

RooMonster 7:16 PM  

Just finished my post earlier today, when my _#@!&$ phone refreshed and it was lost in the ether.

Liked this puz.


CDilly52 8:09 PM  

Actually, in my experience, one uses Roe when issuing a warrant or having to identify more than one unknown person, John Doe and Jane ROE, for example. If you need to identify more than one of each gender is can be, e.g., 3 unidentified John Does in concert with 2 unidentified Jane ROES. This may vary slightly in different jurisdictions.

CDilly52 8:54 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this solve. OK, it was easier than the usual Sunday, but all of my family enjoy the oddities of language, and these “actually” are just like little facts that might get shared at the dinner table, “anybody surprised that the ENGLISH HORN”originated in Central Europe?” My brother would very snidely say (if the offering were not his) “Tuck that away as water in the font of useless knowledge.” And on days when we were at the maternal grandparents’ table, Granddad would give him “the look” and say”Sam, you will learn that no knowledge is wasted.” I thought of that exchange so many times during this solve, and Granddad’s admonishment has proven true so many times. Nothing learned is indeed ever wasted. Thank you Mr. Merrell! I absolutely forgive you the GORKI.

Joe Dipinto 11:26 PM  

Late-in-the-day observation: Rex didn't pick up on everything in the theme clues. The ENGLISH HORN is not only not English, it's technically not a horn, a term generally reserved for brass instruments – hence the clue also points out that it's a woodwind.

Similarly, the GUINEA PIG is not only not from Guinea, it's a rodent, as the clue states, and unrelated to anything in the pig family.

PatKS 7:10 AM  

I agree that GORKY is the correct spelling. Surprised so many people never heard of him. I also never heard of plain LIME PIE but whatever. Didn't ever hear of OTTO, VAX or CATGUT. I also thought ROE should have been DOE. Never heard of ARK as a gilded chest.

SSTARS, ITCH and EXIT SIGNS still have me totally confused. Anybody?

For some reason whenI saw BOOLA BOOLA and OLD HAT I thought of Joe Biden's bus the NO MALARKY (which is such a dated, stupid name UGH).

Finished in average time and learned a few things I'll never need or use unless they are in another puzzle or on Jeopardy. I found it blah.

Have a nice week Rex. Glad you're back.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Am astonished at the tendency of so many folks to brag about how fast they do the puzzles. I work the puzzles for pleasure and the longer it takes the longer it lasts.

Rug Crazy 5:41 PM  

I'm with anonymous. Never worry about my time

Burma Shave 2:13 PM  


and THE RELIC's in USEBY a bloke,


Diana, LIW 2:40 PM  

My rapper was tone DEF for a while, which held up the SW corner. What do I know? But then the crosses came thru, and I ACTUALLY finished it without any help. Yeah me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 3:00 PM  

Gotta check the crosses, had EXITrampS at first and STern before STAID. Not much for wordplay here, but the trivia was at least SEMI interesting. The clue for 17d - 2 men's names reversed - has Will's signature all over it.

I have many memories of THE METRODOME, but I don't miss it. THE METRODOME was not UPTOPAR for any sport.

For her accomplishments ARRIANA should get a yeah BABE.

This puz was NOT so hard to ENDURE.

rondo 3:55 PM  

@D,LIW - LUV LUV LUV your rapper's name! Effin' hilarious, and better than the real ones.

rainforest 5:10 PM  

Ever the student, I learned a few things solving this puzzle, and that added to the enjoyment today. I liked it a lot so I thought I'd read OFL's post (OFA is more like it, to me) just to see what he would zero in on for his wrath. Didn't disappoint, but his picking GORKI was ridiculous. Anyway, that's what he loves to do.

As I've said I liked this muchly with my only minor struggles coming in the SE, but I was determined to avoid another Sunday DNF. Success.

spacecraft 7:00 PM  

Then where's the "Doe" in ROE v. Wade? Anyway, a fun and educational puzzle today. I wasn't bothered by the -I ending for 4a; in my experience -I and-y in Russian names are pretty much interchangeable. I did think the spoons (n.) were NESTerS until LAURA Ingalls Wilder showed up. I also thought that a ShoE made the footprint, but more accurately it is the SOLE. And finally, I don't think it's good to sleep at RESTstopS, either. That one cost a few minutes. I mean, the very concept of sleeping in a RESTROOM is ludicrous. Not that I've never seen it, though!

Lots of fun stuff in the fill--and theme--and not too much to elicit an "ACK!" Your RSC (random star classification) stands out. EARTHA Kitt has multiple DOD's on record; I'll give today's to Sandra Denton, the ageless PEPA. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 7:51 PM  

Yeah, @Rondo, my brain is a strange place to wander around in, and crosswords bring out my strangest thoughts. Like, I almost told everyone, at 108 across I had ARABIan at first, and had the U following that, and was wondering if it could be "Arabian urinals." (had the "ALS" too) As I said, what do I know?

Lady Di, not a know-it-all

o henry 6:21 PM  

Had one blank wrong, Gorki threw me off, had Godki. Thought Doe a better answer than Roe, but are they referring to Roe v. Wade suit? Was Roe a John or Jane Doe?

Dude 9:00 AM  

Funny how Americans don't realize that their own tongue is totally comprised of "foreign" words.

Dude 9:12 AM  

Amen to that!

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