West Coast brew for short / SUN 12-8-19 / Impossible is Nothing sloganeer / Knights titles in Game of Thrones / Buddy Holly band 1994 / Popular Asian honeymoon destination / Saudi king before Abdullah / World's rarest goose / Hallucinogen sometimes called divine messenger

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Constructor: Emily Carroll

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:04)

THEME: "Lookin' Good!" — "EASY ON THE EYES" is represented literally by the letter pair "EZ" atop the letter pair "II" five times in this grid (110A: Good-looking ... or a phonetic hint to a feature found five times in this puzzle)

THE "II" answers:
  • BALI, INDONESIA (27A: Popular Asian honeymoon destination)
  • BOYZ II MEN (41A: Top musical group of the 1990s, per Billboard)
  • KRISTEN WIIG (62A: "S.N.LL." alum who co-starred in 2016's "Ghostbusters")
  • NINTENDO WII (77A: Game console introduced in 2006)
  • JACOB RIIS (96A: New York social reformer whose name is on a Manhattan housing project)
Word of the Day: AKINETIC (4D: Unable to move well) —
of, relating to, or affected by akinesia [(n.): loss or impairment of voluntary activity (as of a muscle)] (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

This is a Wednesday idea dressed up in Sunday clothes. Like a child wearing dad's coat. This is a one-note joke and would've been better executed on a smaller scale, with three good examples, a *clean grid* (which we're sadly missing today), and a revealer, the end. But to go through this long a puzzle, through no real wordplay or interesting answers, through a grid laden with semi- to very-cringey fill, just to get to that clown-honk of a revealer, well that's just disappointing. Very much a letdown. A lot of work and machete-ing through rough terrain, and for what? Some brackish water. I've lost my metaphor's thread, but I believe my point is clear enough. Wednesday, clean grid—theme might be tolerable, even enjoyable. Sunday, junky grid—theme defenstratable.

I don't really care to list alllll of the fill I found unpleasant, but there really was a good amount of it, from the ordinary dross (RIAL ATTN ASSN DIR SASE NENE ESS DINAR ALEE) to the next-level dross (OLY OLA ODO EZINE SERS XVI), from preposterous near-words (EDIFIER RESEW AGREER NERVED NESTERS STEP A) to Germaniamania (KLEINE EIS) to things you'd never say (NINE TO) (!?) to whatever AKINETIC is. 'TWERE rough, is what I'm saying. Felt like I couldn't get very far without hitting another jarring little bump. Even the sassy stuff seemed off. MYB is a little too cutesy for me (52A: "I messed up," in slang). "MY BAD" so much better (in real life and in the grid). And I thought it was LULZ (65A: Response to a funny meme). Hmm (checks internets), looks like LULZ is the "corruption," which, seriously, LOL. BALIINDONESIA feels redundant (it's BALI). NINTENDOWII feels redundant (it's just WII). Weren't there even a few moments where I was happy? WHY, YES, there were. But not enough. Not nearly enough.

Five things:
  • 58A: Clothing designer Marc (ECKO) — I need some kind of mnemonic to help me tell ECKO from EKCO (the kitchen utensil company). I botched it today.
  • 16D: Colorless gases (ETHENES) — well there's an answer to warm your heart, eh? EH!? Ugh.
  • 20A: Ashton Kutcher's role on "That '70s Show" (KELSO) — first answer I got. I'm not proud... but you take your gimmes where you find them.
  • 55D: Part of a short race (GNOME) — OK that clue is somewhat clever in its misdirection
  • 55A: One shouting "Get off my lawn!" (GEEZER) — I'll have you know I'm only 50! Now git!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. next week I'll do a little Crossword Holiday Gift Guide for you all. If you've got anything that you really think should be on said guide, please give me a holler. Thx.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

Another Sunday slog made more-so by the fact I had no clue as to what I was doing in terms of a theme. By the time I did arrive at the reveal, the theme answers were all in place leaving me with a big “Ho-hum” instead of an “Aha!”

I wonder if George was added to the Conway clue by Shortz in order to keep Rex from having a massive fit or heart attack.

When I was a high school student in Los Angeles (a few semesters back - late 50s), there was a JACOB RIIS High School; it was basically a vocational/remedial/reform school, filled with those boys (no girls!) who the teachers at other schools were unable to control. My school played them from time-to-time in an athletic contest. We used to say, “We won the game but lost the fight afterwards.” And it was usually true!

Joe Dipinto 12:25 AM  

Cute idea for a theme. The double I's were obvious components right off the bat but the EZ's I didn't pick up on till I hit the revealer, which made for an effective solving progression. Some groaners in NINE TO, AGREER, EDIFIER. And NERVED? Never, no never, heard that used as a verb. Though one can be unnerved, so...I guess. It was a pleasant enough puzzle without being truly amazin'. So yeah, maybe it would have been better as a midweek entry, as Lex suggests. I mean Rex.

MD PHD reminded me of the TV show "The Middleman", where Lacey's never-seen mom was always referred to by her full name and credentials: "Dr. Barbara Thornfield, M.D., Ph.D".

The Uffizi Gallery is open from 8:15 till 6:50 today, but the Feast of the Immaculate Conception might affect these hours. I checked, in case you plan on visiting.

I should play this again from the other day. And here's some Mozart for later this evening.

chefwen 1:33 AM  

Got it done, got the two ii’s, but failed to notice the EZ on top of them. DOH! In my defense, I was watching my Badgers fall apart after a stellar first half only to lose to Ohio State. I was just a tad bit distracted. Such is life.

I did enjoy the puzzle, just wish I had been more aware as to what was going on. Must stop multitasking.

puzzlehoarder 1:52 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, both inspite of and partially because of the theme.

BUC and OLA were my start so I naturally got right into the worst of it when I soon entered BOYSTOMEN. Even I know that's not really how it's spelled but for awhile SERBIAN was working at 42D. ZAMBIAN quickly came to the rescue but DETT_ was still sitting stubbornly at 30D. That space between the M and the B at 52A was going to have to stay blank while I moved on.

Next up I run into that ECKO over LOLZ mess. Followed by MDPHD. At this point I'm thinking if it keeps up like this I'll be solving all night. Luckily things hit a normal solving pace after that and I was able to go back to the NE and fix all my mistakes.

The last correction was changing FAUD to FAHD so 16D made sense. Only with a clean grid in place did I then go over the puzzle and get the theme. That part at least was EZ.

jae 2:04 AM  

KELSO was a gimme for me too and I’ve never seen the show, which, I guess, makes me less proud than Rex.

Anonymous 3:38 AM  

I hadn't a clue about SERS, so I did OJIBWAy (which is also correct) instead of OJIBWAS. I think that qualifies as a variant of a Natick, where your wrong answer is actually half correct.

I agree with Rex about the dull fill. I liked the clues for DINAR and PLANE, though.

The clue for ETHENES really is the worst. It could as well have been "gases," since most gases are colorless, and ethene isn't exactly one that people commonly refer to.

I have never heard SCULLER used to refer to the instrument used to do the rowing, rather than the person doing the rowing.

DOOZIE instead of doozy? Huh?

MDPHD is not a "degree." It is two separate degrees, each with their own qualification requirements, often granted through participation in a single university program. Why is such sloppy cluing necessary? It could equally well have been clued correctly.

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

Would somebody please explain GNOME?

Lewis 6:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
oopsydeb 6:53 AM  

In addition to Anonymous 3:38's comment about MDPHD being two degrees, not a single degree...

Plenty of research scientists have no MD, just a PHD. I would guess most research scientists do not have an MD. So a doubly sloppy clue.

I noticed the double II entries, not the EZ part of the theme, which I got from Rex's blog. Because by the time I got the revealer I didn't care enough to go back and look. Oh well...

Lewis 6:56 AM  

The IIs-to-EYES got me seeing double, so I saw the adjoined LLs subwaying in the puzzle's nether region, the YYs by the PHD, and the BBs buzzing near the ATRIA and hanging around BALI.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

I liked the theme idea, but the fill is so rough and, in places, terrible (as Rex comments) that it made the solve unpleasant. Shouldn’t a puzzle with so much junk fill get rejected or edited at least?

Suzie Q 7:27 AM  

The only fun I had was finding that I totally agreed with Rex!

The long tortured clue for dinar sounded like one that WS would use on his NPR radio show. He seems to love things like that.

This one gets my vote for most boring puzzle.

Marc 7:34 AM  

Ethene (or ethylene) is a single substance. EtheneS? Nonsense.

Jofried 8:02 AM  

Well the damn thing is filled in after more than twice my usual time, but there’s an answer wrong somewhere and I despised this thing so profoundly that I can’t bring myself to go back yet and find it. I have a streak of nearly a year which I don’t really want to end on this thing so I guess I will eventually go back. I’m trying to figure out why I loathed this puzzle so much. I’m a Chemistry teacher and the ETHENES were not in my top ten or even twenty choices for that answer. And I couldn’t figure out EDIFIER for an eon or two. This puzzle was just completely not on my wavelength. Every answer I put in was wrong. NERVED? Really. That’s just ridiculous. I love doing the crossword every day and this one aggravated me so much that it’s pretty much ruined my morning!

Taffy-Kun 8:13 AM  

OK time to clear this up: in my expat Brit usage “Momentarily” 56A meant “For a second” not “In a second”. Thus the pilot saying “We’re landing momentarily” made me expect to take off again right away! Am I alone in this or ....

kps 8:25 AM  

I am not going to give an explanation. Geezer is just wrong. Stop the insensitivity!
By the way, the puzzle was insipid......grading papers is more fun...really!

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

@ Joaquin, this puzzle is so laden with testosterone. There’s almost 20 male answers, and maybe 4 female answers, and that includes adding an a to an Italian noun. This frat boy constructor makes me sick!!
“What’s that you say?”...............oh, never mind

Tyler Tillman 8:42 AM  

A GNOME is one of a race of short people. A fantastical race of people, but once I got it I thought it was pretty clever nonetheless.

Joe in St. John's 8:53 AM  

70 Across - shouldn't 'will.' be 'Will.'? I would put "Spanish or Portuguese" up there with "colorless gas". Why not just say "language" if the clue is lame?

GILL I. 8:58 AM  

So it's BOYZ II MEN? My DNF. I had that dastard TO. Good lord, I had 4 of the II's and couldn't find the fifth. Then I find out that there is an EZ on top of this stunt. Boy am I a loser.
Lordy I had to work hard. GNOME? Is that half of the Alaska tour or something? I wouldn't know KRISTEN WIIG if he came up to me and kissed me on the lips. I had ADVISER for the teacher. Cheated and find it's EDIFIER. TWERE my first of many groans. TISANT my favorite word.
Like @Suzie Q....my fun today is @Rex and his "clown honk revealer." Yuck, yuck.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

55D A Gnome is from a "race" of short mythical creatures.

Hungry Mother 9:06 AM  

I’m just lolling around this morning, so I had plenty of time to spend on this long slog. Just about everything was strange to me. I got the theme which helped carry the day, but little joy here.

Birchbark 9:10 AM  

I liked GEEZER -- if only its upstairs neighbor SHORING had been SnORING.

From the not-your-father's-Natick desk -- Working my way backwards through the archived puzzles, I was doubly trounced last evening by a Saturday whose solving difficulty @Rex called "Infernal." I had all reference volumes out and active about half-way through the solve (cf. @Nancy from yesterday) and was making a fun night of it given all of the collateral learning. But fell two letters short of [Spoiler Alert from >10 years ago] XANTIPPE (clued "Scolding wife: Var.").

Some of you (not I) will recognize this as a variant spelling of XANTHIPPE, the wife of Socrates, whom some classical sources describe as clued. But I turned to the crosses, ready for the usual inferential leaps. Here's what I found [Standing old spoiler alert follows]: XERES (clued "Spanish city that gave sherry its name" -- failed here), PALMS ("Where to pick up dates" -- nice), GOLCONDA ("Rich mine or other source of great wealth" -- got it, even with its own crossed OCHLOCRACY), OCELOTS ("Margay cousins" -- got it via dictionary), ARGALI ("Mountain sheep" -- failed here), PERIPETEIA ("Unexpected turn of events, as in a literary work" -- got it via dictionary, thought it meant "travels all over the place"), PLATE GLASS ("See-through sheets" -- nice), and EIGHTEENTH ("Grant's position in presidential history" -- had nineTEENTH forever, wanting a four-letter number to start things off (as did @Rex)). Turns out you have to know stuff to solve some of these puzzles.

Honestly, I'd take ten of these brain-melters for every sleepy Natick-free Saturday we sometimes see today. Plus, I'm going to the Vikings game in a while. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this.

Kyle 9:12 AM  

Seems like the cranky GEEZERs are out early this morning. LOLZ.

But seriously, I didn’t dislike this one, though like several of us I missed the EZ over the double I’s. As usual for a Sunday, it had some words that I had never heard before and likely won’t commit to memory (ojibwas, uffizi), but they’re legit - much like many of the words OFL and my fellow commenters are complaining about. PSA: Just because something doesn’t fit your particular knowledge base (e.g., akinetic, sers) doesn’t mean it’s bad fill.

To the anonymous commenter above: in crosswords Oar is often used to refer to the rower in addition to the implement. That’s why sculler fits the clue.

Norm 9:20 AM  

What Rex said. I don't always agree with his views, but he nailed it today.

Z 9:23 AM  

Hand up for missing the EZ part of the theme.

Still wondering why, with RIIS in place, I wanted Mies van der Rohe.

I know people love They Might Be Giants, but I’d have posted a Santana video. Which, of course, reminded me of Jon Lord. Wait for the ricochet. Not your cuppa? Well, that’s the End of the Road.

@Anon late last night - No doubt. I think “Going ...Going...xxxx” is more canonical. But listen enough and every variation can be heard somewhere.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Anonymous at 3:38am - rowers in a boat are referred to as “oars” as opposed to the cox.
Anonymous at 3:53 am - gnome is a short race as opposed to homo sapiens. (If indeed, fictional characters can be a race.)

three of clubs 9:26 AM  

Tafty-Kun: not an expat but I too think of momentarily as being in passing.

7 1/2 year old kid 9:29 AM  

Mythical short race (gnomes) often found in gardens

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Bread "bin"?? Is it bigger/smaller than a bread BOX????

Ciclista21 9:32 AM  

Amen, King Rex. A total slog and no joy in the end. DNF, actually, for me: Done in by the BREAD BIN. I've never heard that said. Is it a place for storing bread or throwing it away?

A few things to cheer, though. Yes, NENE is crosswordese, but I always like seeing the poor goose. It's quite endangered, you know. So let's be happy for any sighting at all, even in a crossword puzzle.

GEEZER and WEEZER are a nice pair. Too bad they couldn't be arranged more symmetrically.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Got the theme early when I said to myself, there sure are a lot of Z's in the puzzle today. I had only done about 1/4 of the puzzle. Looked for the clue with the reveal and saw the ii above some of the z's. I don't usually get the theme early. so I was happy.

xraydoc 9:37 AM  

Never heard NERVE as a verb

LOLZ does not exist. I can understand LOLS

MYB is awful.

Having worked with a lot of Mud-Fuds throughout my career, an MD-PhD is in a fact a combined degree similar to an MD-JD or MD-MBA with its own curriculum and a shortened time requirement to completion. The clue is fine.

Gnomes lives matter 9:43 AM  

Are GNOMEs a race or a subspecies? What are corresponding races within their taxonomic classifications?

I know it's all in fun, but seriously...are fantasy characters subject to the same categorization as reality? You have elves that are very different from Disney to LOTR. Are gremlins like what you see in Bugs Bunny or in the Twilight Zone episode with WIlliam Shatner? Ogres, trolls, dwarfs...even vampires and ghosts are all over the map in terms of universal look, much less some kind of taxonomic classification.

I'm calling shenanigans on that clue.

Kevin 9:47 AM  

I can’t stand those weekend puzzles. They used to irk me a little, but some of them have gone off the rails.

When the instructions tell you to take the name of something in a kitchen with 7 letters, drop the second vowel, reverse what remains, add the dropped letter back at the end on the string, shift the third letter to whatever would appear before in on a British typewriter, cut the letters whose lower case versions look different than the upper case version, and then scramble them into a common two word phrase you might hear at a deli, I just zone out.

Nancy 9:48 AM  

I usually launch myself into a puzzle before looking at the constructor's name and today was no exception. Immediately I knew I was doing a puzzle by a Very Young Person and, just like yesterday, I began to groan at the plethora of tiny little bits of highly forgettable information -- much of it from pop culture and techie gadgets -- that I was expected to know. The crosses of much of this stuff were brutal. I ended up not finishing much of the north-east and middle-east -- right in that section, Emily, where you had your seed entry. I just looked up 41A, where I have BO--I---N. It's a musical group with a peculiar name and I've forgotten it within the last minute-and-a-half. Of course my mind has been otherwise engaged in writing my deathless prose:) And I'm not a good multitasker.

But, Emily, your theme and revealer are absolutely terrific and your construction is genius. I delighted in the pun and was amazed to see that you were able to pull it off. I think you were probably boxed in by the "EZ"s and the "II"s and I think they dictated much of your very esoteric and arcane fill. You're a real talent and I hope that in the future you'll opt for wordplay rather than arcane knowledge. As for today -- I imagine that Erik Agard and Kevin Der will love this puzzle.

Teedmn 10:05 AM  

Does over-exposing us to II's equal being EASY ON THE EYES? More like HARD on the eyes.

Perhaps I'm grumpy because I never really caught this puzzle's rhythm. Even for a random solve, I felt that I was chipping away at every corner, never getting much forward progress. A three-square DNF because I never got the theme till after so I didn't realize 41A wasn't BOYZ to MEN (hi @Gill I) and by that point, I didn't care if a being with superhuman powers was an unknown DEtTY and the unknown 14D was UFsIZo. Rather than JABBER on, I will just say I found this arduous without being edifying.

(Frozen Wasser, what the...??)

"Part of a short race" = GNOME (55D) is very cute. and 70A's "Follower of Sam or Will" = IAM also got a smile from me. But no LOLZ.

Emily Carroll, this was a great feat, but not my TYPE.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

@Gnomes lives matter (9:43) -- I nominate your nom de blog as the funniest of the year.

Nancy 10:36 AM  

Of course I've heard of BOYZ II MEN. But that's not what I saw in the grid. What I saw seemed like gibberish, with the Roman numeral "1"s being "i"s. Giving me "Boyziimen". Pronounced "Boise Men". And these guys I've never heard of.

I think you'd call this a DOOK.

Kathy 10:46 AM  

Naticks galore, DNF.
Very difficult for me, although I was able to guess myself through many of the obstacles. I had caught on to the potential EZ over the I’s, but by the end of my arduous journey through the maze, I had forgotten that—else I might have picked up on II substituting for 2. But that still would not have gotten me over the finish line.

The puzzle skewed more toward minutiae than cleverness and I much prefer generous helpings of the latter. Yesterdays puzzle had so much more zest! My guess is that some of those who have felt the puzzles have been too easy lately will be happy and others will feel like me.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

At the end of the day, when you evaluate this thing in its totality, it absolutely stinks. Many people didn’t even get the EZ part of the theme. So you have a meh-theme which results in a just garbage-filled mess. There is simply no “there there” today. Just a slog-fest of the highest order. I submit:

Exhibit A: The puzzle contains LOLZ, OLY (sic) , SERS and NIA as answers.
Exhibit B: We are treated to a Latin word crossing a Roman Numeral (LEX XVI) - oh, what good fun to be had today.
Exhibit C: The clue for 121A is so freakishly awful (as @Kevin 9:47 so eloquently demonstrated) that the entire concept should be banned forever.

I could go on, but I shall rest my case.

Pete 10:48 AM  

The primary definition of momentarily has sea-sawed over the centuries. It started out as meaning "in a moment", switched to "for a moment" for a hundred years or so, and is now back to "in a moment". At any rate, it's a ridiculous word in the first place, just say exactly what you mean; use the "in a" or "for a" moment. Same number of syllables for speakers, fewer letters for writers along with perfect clarity. In any case, use of momentarily should disappear momentarily. In either sense.

However, I do regularly buy "momentary switches" which is the technical term and is appropriate so clearly momentarily == for a moment and I'm full of it.

BYW, does anyone know a good intellectual property lawyer? I just saw a preview of The Two Popes and it's a total rip-off of something I wrote here some time ago. Francis & Benedict met after Francis was chosen, and they had lengthy theological discussions - my idea, published right here, 4/2/2013. Now there's a movie? I want my money, and I want it now. Particularly if the movie ends with a joke about the Vatican's hidden collection of Medici porn.

Ken Freeland 10:49 AM  

concur!... totally!!

Nampa Geezer 10:51 AM  

Never said to myself “what a frickin waste of time” when doing a crossword puzzle before today.
First time.
What a poorly executed effort.

Alex 10:54 AM  

This puzzle was so dreary I did a voluntary dnf. Not surprised to come here and find similar sentiments.

QuasiMojo 10:55 AM  

Rex is better at parsing dreck than I am. I'm too lazy to write it all down. That said I found this one way too EZ once I got the gimmick. My only stumble was that odd-named group. I have never heard of them so I tried Boy Eminem, thinking perhaps he like Prince had many incarnations. I only know him from crosswords. But the theme actually helped me crack that spot and I was done in a flash. I thought My B meant my gf or bf. Or Opie referring to his aunt? Off to find the Stumper to torture myself with A Few more obscurities.

PS @Nancy, I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed your flu poem. Write another for us. Perhaps on quid pro quo?

Ethan Taliesin 11:00 AM  

I liked it well enough because I could finish it without difficulty...unlike YESTERDAY!!!!

B Right There 11:01 AM  

Haven't taken the time to comment here in ages, but this puzzle made me need to purge my disappointment here. I still call foul on ETHENE. Googling redirects me to ethylene, which, it says IS indeed a colorless gas. Further search. ETHaNE, however, immediately brings up chemical formula and explanation that it is a colorless gas. SO that kept us erasing the correct EDITED several times. Luckily knew that an OAR also indicates the position in sculling from recently reading The Boys In The Boat about the 1936 Olympics team in Berlin. Good read! Did not like the 83A United way? clue being PLANE. The more appropriate answer, to my mind, would have been FLIGHT! And just sad that two of three themers were proper names. Seems way too lame to me. I also did not catch the EZ sitting ON the ii's. But that explains more of what we considered horrible fill (as most surmise) that was brought in to make this work. Didn't see it, and didn't care by the end of this slog. Can I have that hour of my Sunday morning back, please? And someone, PLEASE bring back a good, enjoyable, weekend puzzle!

Rastaman Vibration 11:07 AM  

It appears as though the consensus thus far is that this one missed the mark by a wide margin, which, unfortunately seems to be the case with quite a bit of regularity. I wonder if it is a demographic thing - the NYT may be trying to old on to a loyal and maturing group of solvers while appearing to be hip and current at the same time, with the obvious danger that they may be failing on both scores.

However, on the other side of the coin, @LMS frequently speaks very positively about many of the puzzles that OFL thoroughly trashes, so perhaps it is true that de gustibus non est disputandum.

As an aside, I’ve noticed that the New Yorker is frequently able to remain true to their audience (younger, more hip, trendier and fashion-conscious) without resorting to all of the conventions that are so frequently rued about here - such as the esoteric PPP and “non-words”, frequent appearance and inclusion of foreign language clues and answers, and themes that are so burdensome on the fill that the puzzle comes crushing down under its own weight. So it can be done !

Carola 11:13 AM  

Tough for me and a double DNF: crashed and burned on the cross O?E and BO?SIIMEN and missed the EZ part of the theme. I enjoyed rasslin' with a more challenging than usual Sunday, though.

pmdm 11:16 AM  

Gee, this puzzle rubbed me the wrong way. i figured out half of the theme, similar to others who post here, but that did not affect my solve. What did affect my solve was the seemingly interminable number of PPP entries I did not know. I don't know if there's been any puzzle requiring turning to a search engine (I don't use Google, or try not to) more that this one.

Interesting that both Sharp and Chen think this should have been condensed into a weekday puzzle. After an Agard puzzle I disliked, I'm feeling very unhappy towards the NYT crossword. No matter, I'll plug on. I just hate to be so negative.

Crimson Devil 11:25 AM  

I’m with Rex on this one: yuck.

Barbara 11:36 AM  

@Joe in St John’s - will.i.am is the “professional” name of a rapper. Hence, no capital W.

@Kevin - I’m not sure what the connection was, but I totally agree on those weekend NPR puzzles. I have neither the aptitude nor interest for them.

@Rex - I remember EKCO by thinking of it as Kitchen Co.

Like many others, I got the II part of the theme and never saw the EZ, although it did occur to me that there were a lot of Z’s in the puzzle. Hated DOOZIE and PLANE and AGREER. Liked the “three or four” clueing of A FEW (which I got immediately) and TEATIME (which took a bit longer). I started last night, put in about 4 words and decided it was past my bedtime, and woke to Only a Game on NPR, with a story about the Tampa Bay Rays, and I had to go downstairs to see if BUC should have been RAY (but no).

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

My take is that momentarily is currently used in both senses. Both of these strike me as current usage:

I will respond to your question momentarily.

His heart stopped momentarily due to the electric shock he received.

Nancy 11:50 AM  

For @Quasi (10:55): Your wish is my command.

To call a thing a "quid pro quo" --
It isn't very sexy, so

We won't use Latin to describe,
Perhaps we'll call the thing a "bribe".

"Extortion" has a lovely ring
And surely does describe the thing.

"Abuse of power" -- there's a count!
A prosecution I would mount.

"Obstruction" also did occur,
But I prefer vernacular,

So "stonewall" is the word I'd use,
But Democrats, you get to choose.

So choose them all or just choose three --
He's guilty of them all, you see!

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I believe the clue refers to will.i.am, founder of The Black Eyed Peas amongst many other accomplishments. He spells this as I note (no caps) and thus the clue works. Actually a very clever clue as such.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Rex - I think you left out an 'e' – the word is defenestrate... (defenestratable).

Teedmn 12:12 PM  

@Nancy, brava!

RooMonster 12:12 PM  

Hey All !
Well, Har. I totally flaked on the EZ part of theme, only seeing the II's, and wondering just how in the great blazes of hell two I's together was EASY. I fell like a dummkopf.

With now knowing the other layer of the theme, I appreciate this puz more. I was wondering why there were so many Z's in the puz. Does having a bunch of I's make it necessary to have a bunch of Z's? The ole brain likes to trick me. Also makes some of the Ugh fill a bit more tolerable.

But still NINE TO is Yikes! inducing. Clue and answer. I had something Simon a puz once, tried to change it because I couldn't think of a viable clue. Well, I have one now.

MDPHD? Another wowsers. Is that like 12 years of college?

Two letter DNF, BOYsIIMEN, OJIBWAh/hERS. Ended up with a sAMBIAN living in Lusaka.

Just a couple writeovers, Lmao-LOLZ, PiLsner-PALEALE (knew it wasn't a pilsner, but it fit), STEPi-STEPA (was gonna complain about that one.)

GEEZER and WEEZER. I suppose only GEEZERs now listen to WEEZER. 😀

Mixed bag puz today. Nice F count, at least.


Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Cool, solid, concisely elegant theme idea. And sorta like what @RP said: primo, for a Tues/WedPuz. Need more humor to keep m&e goin, in a ginormous SunPuz solvefest.

Impressive themer count of 10 plus one (revealer).
fave double-II-er: BOYZIIMEN (which M&A initially wrote in as BOYSTOMEN, which lost him some precious nanoseconds).
fave EZ-er: Tie, between GEEZER & WEEZER. Helped with the humor angle.

fave longball-nonthemers: WEREHERE. DOOZIE. OVEREXPOSE. OJIBWAS. But definitely also toss in long-on-desperational answers that helped with the humor some more: BREADBIN (Has the BOX version done been retired?) & ILUVU & LOLZ.

@RP: M&A is even prouder, that he had no earthly idea about KELSO. Or crosser CLEO, as clued. But swatted away that there pesky nat-tick with a correct guess.

staff weeject pick: MYB. MYG that really tickled MYFB.

Thanx for all yer hard work, Ms. Carroll darlin. Will my IIs peeled, for yer next xword gem.

Masked & Anonymo8Us


Joaquin 12:19 PM  

Oh, Nancy, that poem was quite sweet
With a message that just can't be beat
But I'm down in the dumps
'Cause I know that the Trumps
Will attack you with one of their tweets

What? 12:20 PM  

I liked the puzzle. Kept me going for a while until finally finishing. As a wannabe puzzle maker, I can appreciate the work that went into its construction. Not easy.

Maddiegail 12:24 PM  

@Kevin 9:47 am - LOLZ! (And agree totally!)

Petri 12:35 PM  

I didn't mind it so much, but that's because a) I found it pretty easy, and b) I'm a bit younger, so of course I found it easy. That said, I agree that this should have been a Wednesday. It's just not a strong enough theme to hold up an entire Sunday puzzle. I personally liked the themer answers, but the revealer doesn't really make sense. In any other context, "easy on the ____" would mean less of them, not more. Meh overall, but I didn't find it as offensively bad as others.

Kyle 12:48 PM  


I'm curious why you consistently bring up the (reasonable) idea that more women should be represented in the ranks of constructors, but never mention it when women-authored puzzles are published? I realize your shtick is being a nitpicking grump and you might not want to tear apart a puzzle after pointing out it's authored by a woman. Still, it seems disingenuous to call for more female constructors and not give a nod to the paper when it does that.

OffTheGrid 12:54 PM  

Not having heard of will.i.am, I was simply thinking William.

@Gill, re: a kiss from Kristen Wiig. I don't know which way she swings.

@Birchbark, Hope you enjoy the Vikings game. I will watch on TV. I don't anticipate much enjoyment. I'm a Lions fan of sorts. I am in my 73rd year and the most recent Lions championship occurred when I was 10.


sixtyni yogini 12:56 PM  

EZ 🧩 but 😎

Newboy 12:57 PM  

Thought it a cute but flawed puzzle initially as Rex pointed out. Came to the blog and discovered the EZ over the II complexity that I had not grokked at all. Had I gotten that added layer of constructor genius, WEEZER would have been a gimme instead of checking every single letter of the alphabet before hearing my favorite morning tune. Thanks Emily for a lesson in humility; EZ for me to admit now that EDIFIERs above have shown me the light.

Lewis 1:22 PM  

@nancy -- You posted that in less than an hour after it was requested, and it was witty, smile producing, and high quality. You have talent ma'am!

Anonymous 1:27 PM  


Anonymous 1:29 PM  

People should read the puzzle-maker's comments on xword
info. She is refreshingly honest about her product: a good
idea, made better (by Shortz) but weighed down by questionable
fill. Knowing her assessment, one is less likely to be critical
of the puzzle's rough patches. My biggest complaint? Probably
"MY B", which no one - trust me - says. In second? Maybe "DINAR"
because the clue was so obviously Shortz and so painfully verbose.


Anonymous 1:30 PM  

So glad I'm not the only one bothered by the misuse of "momentarily." As a copy editor I frequently fix that

GILL I. 1:32 PM  

@Nancy....Bravisimo. You are the "Bomba." Send it into the NYT...see if they print it.
@OffTheGrid. Yikes I thought it was a he. No matter, in this day and age nothing surprises.... :-)

RooMonster 2:00 PM  

Let me second (eighth?) the praise of @Nancys tres cool poem.

@Gill I
Funny stuff with Kristen Wiig.

@Anonymous 1:29
I was one who missed the EZ part of theme, so didn't appreciate the iffy fill as I solved, but came to see it as not so bad once I was shown the complete theme. It's cool that she knew some of the fill kinda wasn't good.

But hey, she got it published. Doing better than me. 😋

RooMonster Doesn't Know How MYB Got An OK Guy

jake w 2:13 PM  

People <25 do actually say MYB, FYI.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

I like themes best when they help you solve and this one was too cryptic for me to use except as a retrospective: oh.

Lots of marginal words (yeah, Akinetic?), and Natickness (Jacob Riis;Ojibwas/Ecko;Ozzies/BoysIIMen;Oye) but some cleverness too.

Joe Dipinto 2:35 PM  

@petri 12:35 – you do know that when you say someone is "easy on the eyes", you mean they are quite attractive, yes? It's not like, "whoa, go easy on the hot sauce there."

@Nancy – I also must chime in that your recent poems have been delightful. Not to sound piggish, but more, please!

Amelia 2:36 PM  

I think I agreed with Rex on this puzzle. Although I had a lot of trouble with the cluing, so that I like. And I am one of the many who didn't see the ez over the ii's until told. So that's devious and to be praised, no? And I had no idea boyziimen was written that way until I looked it up. So there's that, ii.

The only clue I didn't like was Bali, because the ii's were forced by being forced together.

I agreed with Rex yesterday, as well, especially when he said he somehow didn't see a clue that would have helped him solve the puzzle, something that also happened to me with the same clue.

Is he mellowing, or am I? Don't answer that.

A sad day, as Big Bird is gone.

P.S. Yesterday's Stumper was so hard, it was stupid. Times won the day.

SJ Austin 2:47 PM  

Crossword gift idea: Erik Agard's book of food-themed puzzles was enjoyable. All his usual brilliance, none of the NYT editorial voice. Good range of difficulty. It's called Food for Thought Crosswords.

bertoray 2:49 PM  

Love having breakfast while solving the nytxw. Especially looking forward to doing it now with eggs over ez.

Ed Rorie 2:59 PM  

You find MD-PhDs A lot among scientists with NIH grants for biomedical research. NIH also supports a lot of MPH-PhDs.

sf27shirley 3:05 PM  

Can someone explain "Frozen Wasser" = eis?

Masked and Anonymous 3:09 PM  

@Nancy: Cool and very poetic. Nice work.

M&A msg #1 left out the word "keep" in a sentence near the end.
Shoulda been:
Thanx for all yer hard work, Ms. Carroll darlin. Will keep my IIs peeled, for yer next xword gem.

Seemed important, since I was tryin to tell the constructioneer that I enjoyed her work.

Also dawned on M&A that today's runtpuz is sort an echo effect of today's SunPuz. Plus, it might be a runtpuz that would maybe especially appeal to @Lewis?


JC66 3:27 PM  



Taffy-Kun 3:36 PM  

“Wasser” German for water
“Eis” German for ice

Randy (Boulder) 3:45 PM  

ETHENES? Come on. First, chemists don't say ethene. The alkenes are commonly ethylene, propylene, etc.

But, as a plural? That's just awful.

RooMonster 4:03 PM  

@chefwen, et.al.
Where's HAWAII????

Geez, you'd think in a puz with an II theme...


SouthsideJohnny 4:13 PM  

@sf27shirley, wasser is german for water, thus eis is german for ice. The NYT loves to include foreign words and phrases, unfortunately.

QuasiMojo 5:48 PM  

@Nancy, love it! You excelled my expectations. I love your subtle wordplay and walking a fine line. Well done.

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

Amen, brother! My version is "we'll be taking off momentarily."

Birchbark 6:04 PM  

@ Offthegrid (12:54) -- If it can't be the Vikings, I would love to see the Lions have their year. It was a fun game from our perspective. And they had good bratwurst at the stadium.

Z 6:36 PM  

@Nancy - Now I’m imagining the Boise State University Glee Club singing End of the Road. They would, of course, call themselves “Boyzii Men.” Best Dook of the year.

Imagine, people using a single word for two different concepts. Will wonders never cease, even momentarily?

Irishmaineiac 6:42 PM  

Blah. Too many "weird" clues. Mr.Parker was spot on with his criticisms.

Lee Gerston 6:43 PM  

On Ecko vs Ekco:

C is for clothes, k is for kitchen.

You're welcome.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

Randy is correct. Chemists do not say "ethene", but they know this is a valid alternative to ethylene. That said, ethene/ethylene is A colorless gas, period. Full stop. This is not a collection of colorless gases. There is no plural. "Ethenes" is not a word and does not belong in a crossword puzzle

chefwen 8:07 PM  

@Cilista21 The Nene are making a strong comeback, especially on the island of Kauai where we don’t have the egg eating Mongoose. They will most likely be taken off the endangered and placed on the threatened list. So not to worry.

@RooMonster, yer right, missed opportunity.

jberg 8:16 PM  

I never saw that show—did Aston Kutcher really play a racehorse?

jberg 8:24 PM  

@birchbark—I may look for that old Saturday, as soon as I’ve NERVED myself up to it.

Nancy 8:53 PM  

Too many of you to thank individually, but warm and appreciative thanks to all who were so complimentary. And thanks for the challenge, @Quasi. I love challenges and this one was fun.

albatross shell 9:04 PM  

Thanks for your poem. Well done. Much appreciated.

It seems to me there is an huge amount of "wasted talent" on this list. Trust me, I've wasted most of my small talents most of my life. Not to say you all have. Just that you do use them here for no really discernable reason. And I appreciate it. Nancy and EGill to LMS to ROO and JohnX to M&A to Z and Joe and all the mathgents and JBergs and JCs and everyone in between, even the various annomousi. I bet someone could even tell me if huge and hidden deserve an a or an an.

Today the puzzle was sloggy, but looking back at the iis and the ezs it was well- worth it. Some nice stuff. My favorite was WHYYES. A hidden themer? Looks beautiful to me.

David 9:07 PM  

I also missed the EZ part. I thought this puzzle skewed old with phrases like that. Letterman said it way too much on his show.

Rex, this geezer says "nine to."

According to the NYC DOT, which runs the SI Ferry, "momentarily" means anywhere between 8 and 15 minutes. Then again, they say, "all passengers may be subject to screening" when they mean "any passenger may be subject to screening." English is so hard for bureaucrats.

I love all the hatin' on 121A, by far my favorite clue.

The German continued in the Acrostic, where that fractal fellow "Almond Bread" was an answer.

Coming here and finding about the EZ makes me appreciate the puzzle much more, but it did lack sparkle.

PatKS 5:35 AM  

By the shores of Gitche Gumee
I did a crossword
Boring and gloomy

Finished in my usual time although I forgot the BoyzIImen spelling and originally had Leslie Jones before KRISTEN WIIG.

I didn't get the 5 EZ/II thingies until coming here. It made me "dislike" this puzzle a bit less.

Never heard of NENE, AKINETIC, ECKO, Rock-OLA or SNIPS. Didn't like NERVED, SCULLER, AGREER.

I'm assuming a wonderful receptacle being BREAD BOX was about Wonder Bread but A) groan and B) only geezers have them.

I guessed KELSO but I never watched that show and don't like Ashton Kutcher at all.

I did love the Impeachment poem!

Have a great week Rex.

kitshef 7:57 PM  

I hate to be a disagreer, but I though all those -ed and -er words were delightful. Not really. I did get a solid laugh out of Rex's comment on ETHENES.

Kelly Sargent 1:21 PM  

Rex, I think you were overly harsh in your review of this particular puzzle. Although, we didn't get the EZ connection till the end, still I thought it was a fun and user-friendly puzzle.

Burma Shave 12:59 PM  


ASCAP says ADELE is big,


rondo 2:34 PM  

In a coupla places the EZ ONTHE II actually helped. That convoluted clue for DINAR had to come from Will. (Not Will IAM).

I saw REDD Foxx live in Vegas in 1987. Funniest performance I ever saw.


AMAZIN' puz? NONEVER, too many clues/answers WERE a bit off.

Uke Xensen 5:23 PM  

Apart from GNOME, this puzzle was sadly devoid of sparkle.

strayling 7:39 PM  

Well I beat it, but it felt more like tidying up a mess than solving a puzzle.

Diana, LIW 8:44 PM  

I, I, I can't really say I did this without some spot chcking, so not really a clean finish for me.

I too liked Mr. GNOME - only one I really remembered.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 2:31 AM  

I'm with @anon. 9:30 and AMAZIN-gly NOT OFC about BREADBIN. No, no, no. It's breadbox, and don't try to tell me different. This is desperation of the highest order. We keep coal in our bin and bread in our box. I'd say that was egregious enough to tear out and redo.

Not that there weren't plenty of other candidates for tearing out. But the constraints of the theme (yeah, OK, I didn't notice the EZ part till coming here) made it hard to avoid some fill crapOLA. Not gonna bother listing them; suffice to say that the two-layered theme was brilliantly pulled off, at the cost of that other stuff. I second the motion for KRISTEN WIIG as DOD, and move the nominations be closed.

Very late because I was rooting my E!A!G!L!E!S! on to victory--and a probable postseason berth! Fly Eagles fly!! Birdie.

Joe 6:56 PM  

Loved the clue for 70 across.

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