Locale for Ernst and Young / THU 1-23-20 / Mideast diplomat's request when itching to be challenged / Anti-apartheid activist Steve / Overpopulated mazy districts

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Constructor: Barbara Lin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed clipboard solve)

THEME: AYE (59A: Vote heard on the floor ... and at the end of 20-, 31-, 35- and 50-Across) — basic add-a-sound theme:

Theme answers:
  • ROCKS THE BOW TIE (20A: Proudly dresses like Bill Nye or Pee-wee Herman?) (base phrase = "rock the boat")
  • GIMME A SINAI (31A: Mideast diplomat's request, when itching to be challenged?) ("gimme a sign")
  • THE GOOD WIFI (35A: Premier internet connection?) ("The Good Wife")
  • FREE VERSAILLES (50A: Liberate Louis XIV's palace?) ("free verse")
Word of the Day: SONORA (13A: Estado south of Arizona) —
Sonora [...], officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora (English: Free and Sovereign State of Sonora), is one of 32 states which comprise the Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo. Sonora is bordered by the states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest and Sinaloa to the south. To the north, it shares the U.S.–Mexico border primarily with the state of Arizona with a small length with New Mexico, and on the west has a significant share of the coastline of the Gulf of California. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very unusual (and cool) to see a solo woman constructor on a Thursday. And this is a debut, I think (name is not in my "labels" list yet). So, cool and cool. The theme has strengths and weaknesses. The wackiness level here is appropriately high for this kind of thing. The phrases are bonkers in a good way, with the most suspect of them actually being the best of them—the first three themers add the "I" sound without any change to the pronunciation of the base phrase, but FREE VERSAILLES ... I do not pronounce the first "E" in VERSAILLES the same way I pronounce the first "E" in "verse." But as I say, that answer is so wildly inventive that I don't really care about the sound wobble. The main issue I had with the theme was how weak the revealer was, and thus how weak the overall concept was. Yes, adding the "I" sound gets you wackiness, but you need a rationale much stronger than just "here is a thing that also rhymes with 'I'." You need a phrase that punnily suggests the "I"-addition. THIS IS WHERE I COME IN ... well, not that, it won't fit, but, you know, something. *Something*. Just plunking sad little AYE down there in the corner is very low-concept. Very 20th-century off-brand theme move. I also don't get the clue on GIMME A SINAI at all. Or, I don't get the last part of the clue: "itching to be challenged?" Is this some kind of reference to the fact that Sinai is a political and diplomatic hotspot? Also, "GIMME" is not a "request," also that is not how a "diplomat" would speak, also putting an indefinite article before a unique thing is bizarre. GIMME A GATEWAY ARCH! Yeah, there's just the one, so ... ? This themer bummed me out because nothing about "diplomat" was useful in getting the answer. And that whole "itching to be challenged thing" was just detritus. Bleh. But I did enjoy seeing the other themers, so that was nice.

The grid is oddly built. Really alop (to borrow a word I've only ever seen in crosswords). Those NW / SE corners are super open, and completely closed off from the rest of the grid except for the most narrow of passageways. Then the rest of the grid is this super choppy 3- and 4-letter-answer extravaganza. Felt very much like I was in two different solving modes: a M/T mode through the broad middle of the grid, and a F/Sat mode in the NW / SE. Those open corners come out pretty well, or could have come out worse. UNICORN (3D: Start-up worth a billion dollars, in a modern coinage) and CHILLAX (41D: "Simmer down!") make them worth it. Overall, this was a mostly enjoyable experience. The theme definitely needed something extra, but what was there was solid. My biggest mistake of the day was confidently writing in AREOLAE at 2D: Astronomical rings (CORONAE) ("ick" to all Latin plurals, btw). Oh, also PLY for HEN (30A: Layer), though to my slight credit, as soon as I ditched PLY (because astronomical rings weren't gonna end in "L"), HEN was my next first guess. My favorite clue of the day by far was 58A: Locale for Ernst and Young (SENATE). That one got me. It really got me. I was thinking of the accounting firm right to the end. (I liked this one despite the fact that Ernst (Iowa) and Young (Indiana) are both currently protecting a manifestly corrupt president*, so ... yeah, that is some clue)

Five things:
  • 1A: Concerning vision (OCULAR) — I bit hard on this one. That is, I read "concerning" as an adj. meaning "of concern," rather than as the preposition that it is (meaning "regarding"). Me: "How is an OCULAR a 'concerning viszzzh ...' oh. Oh, I see."
  • 49A: Ali who retired undefeated (LAILA) — not sure how I've been putting her into grids for two decades or so and still cannot reliably spell her name correctly. So, LAILA is the boxer, LEILA is a name but not a famous one unless you go to Byron ("Don Juan") or Bizet ("The Pearl Fishers"), LEELA is the one-eyed spaceship captain from "Futurama" (voiced by Katey Sagal, whose first and last names are common crossword fare); and then LAYLA is the Eric Clapton / Derek and the Dominos song. Good luck remembering all that. I know I can't. 
  • 11D: Something with an "x" factor? (ALGEBRA) — had the -BRA part and was completely certain this was going to be an undergarment. "What kind of bra has an 'x' ... maybe the one where the straps cross in the back ... do those have a short name ...?" 
  • 40D: Angers (IRES) — never. Stop doing this. Bury this answer at sea.
  • 35D: Premium network (TMC) — LOL this channel still out here trying to get into puzzles. At least no one is trying to convince us that it is "popular" or HBO's "rival" or some other nonsense this time. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:47 AM  

I smiled when I got my first theme answer (FREE VERSAILLES) and seeing how it worked helped me with the others. Nice bite on the cluing. A most enjoyable solve and a promising debut. Please come forth with more, Barbara, and thank you for this!

But I saw your hidden message, your urging for the SENATE, that is, the Ernsts, Youngs, WARRENS, et. seq., to STUN the world, SIDE with justice, and LOCK UP enough AYE votes to boot the SHAM who is IN OUT. Shame on you for getting so political in a puzzle!

The Bard 6:50 AM  

OTHELLO:Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore,
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof:
Or by the worth of man's eternal soul,
Thou hadst been better have been born a dog
Than answer my waked wrath!

Othello, Act III, scene III

king_yeti 6:58 AM  

Ai yi yi yi!!

Todd 7:05 AM  

Almost Nadicked on Trexes verses Chillax. I have never seen Toystory and despite Rex's being pleased Chillax I have never heard the term. Guessed Trex and got lucky. Still don't think Chillax is a thing.

OffTheGrid 7:05 AM  

This is the best Thursday in a long time. Go wacky or go home. The theme was easy for me but a lot of the fill was challenging, in a good way. Solve was fun and satisfying. My only side eye was for CHILLAX.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

Two more things to add to the TIRANE list (things to be banned forevermore): BICEP and TRICEP. Next thing you know we’ll be calling a pivot point (24A) an AXI.

The Clerk 7:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzie Q 7:28 AM  

My word of the day is glamping. I had to look it up and saw that it is a portmanteau of glamour camping. The glamping yurts are quite luxurious compared to the actual ones they are modeled after.

I don't get the Sinai answer either. I liked the bowtie answer because the T spans the sound that pulls the "ie" out of "bowt".

I have never thought of warren as clued although it fits. I only know rabbit warrens.

Medium hard with a little fun so thumbs up. Nice debut.

I hope the comments don't go all political and I'm surprised @ Lewis jumped on that bandwagon.

QuasiMojo 7:51 AM  

This took me about 11 minutes which I know is not fast if you are a competitor but it was half my normal Thursday time. Much too unchallenging and rather bland. I am not a fan of these add-on a sound to well-known expressions, especially when they aren't all in synch meaning wise, sound wise and grammatically; and some like "Gimme a Sign" is unknown to me. I know "Here's your sign!" When Jesus asked God for a sign I doubt he said Gimme. In Lexington, KY where there is a Versailles Turnpike (I think) it's pronounced Ver-SELLS.

I read about some lady who moved into a YURT in the desert of New Mexico and loved it until the wolves came due to the smell of food and surrounded her abode so she couldn't leave. She was terrified. Not very glam!

Looks like I missed quite a discussion yesterday on puzzle construction, Go Nancy! You tell 'em.

GHarris 8:06 AM  

Once I stopped tug(ging) and started towing things began moving. How does Sean Hannity live with himself? His dishonest mockery of Adam Schiff's magnificent opening statement, albeit a tad long, does a disservice to his viewers who rely for their reality by watching his mischaracterizations rather than the actual event.

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

Quite a slog until it wasn’t. The easy theme really helped, but still a slow go.

Hungry Mother 8:24 AM  

Glamping reminds me of my 21 day safari in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

RavTom 8:25 AM  

@Rex and @Suzie Q: Asking for the (rather than “a,” but let’s not get picky) is what a diplomat might do in a negotiation about territory. “Gimme” is very rude and non-diplomatic language, so presumably a diplomat would only use it when “itching to be challenged.”

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

@Nancy from last night at 10:34. Fantastic post!! Rest assured that the snide opinion of one does not detract from your brilliance in the slightest.

Z 9:00 AM  

Everyone! Hand up if you wanted CORONopodes.

I don’t know how Rex says VERSAILLES, but I say the first syllable exactly the same way as I would say FREE VERSe. Unless I’m at Poultry Days in Ohio, of course, when I would say it “ver SALES.” with a slight southern twinge on the “sales.”

I often think of international relations as roughly equivalent emotionally to middle schoolers, so the image of a Mid East diplomat stomping their feet and yelling GIMME A SINAI was oddly on point to me.

TRICEP bothers you but the clue for AXIS doesn’t? TRICEP and bicep are most definitely in the language even if they are not medically correct. An AXIS can never be a point. Even when used metaphorically (AXIS powers, AXIS of evil) it’s never a point. That seems a much greater stretch to me.

Seemed more like a Wednesday to me. Liked it but I’m hoping for a bit more of a challenge on Thursday.

I lost my oldest sister yesterday. She was 76, it was not unexpected. I won’t have much time for the comments the next few days.

Sam 9:01 AM  

I took the “itching to be challenged” to be a clue for the base phrase “gimme a sign” which is often what people in movie’s shout when they are going in one direction but think it might be the wrong one and want a higher power to point them in the right direction. Hence, they are asking to be challenged? Maybe? Still not elegant, but makes some sense.

Sam 9:04 AM  


WinthorpeIII 9:11 AM  

I appreciate those who tried to explain the "gimme a sign" clue, but I still don't get how that's asking to be challenged. This wasn't a fun challenge ge for me.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Advice to G Harris: Don’t watch Sean Hannity.

R Duke 9:32 AM  

I don’t think of “Chillax” as a command, just something you do when you have some time off.

Crimson Devil 9:42 AM  

Learned GLAMPING & ARGOS, and loved cluing for E and Y locale!

Sir Hillary 9:43 AM  

Surprised no one has commented that...7D is a far better revealer than the actual one! It's exactly what this puzzle was.

This was a fun puzzle, but the theme is more worthy of Tuesday or Wednesday. Three of the long themers work quite well, but GIMMEASINAI is weak -- not because of supposed diplomat decorum, but because...is there more than one SINAI?

Lots of interesting and/or inscrutable cluing (e.g., for OCULAR, HEN, SENATE, EAT, ICBM, SIDE, PALETTE) which end up, for me, being the only justification for running this on Thursday.

All in all, good stuff.

SouthsideJohnny 9:50 AM  

Ok, someone please help. From my limited French vocab, the French word for large is “grande” or “grand” depending on the gender, so what is GROS ? Is it some type of abbreviation ?

Weird clue for 17A TRICEP (the “informally” part). There is nothing informal about it, as it doesn’t exist. I know that the NYT frequently takes “Linguistic Privilege” (I call it making stuff up). Maybe it is some inside joke - similar to yesterday’s ESOS, “let’s just keep putting nonsense in the puzzle and see if anyone actually notices or cares”.

Like others, I don’t get the SANAI clue, and agree that the reveal was a lame, after-the-fact non-event.

And, btw, CHILLAX is so over it couldn’t get a deal from Rhino.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

Loved the theme and struggled mightily with the cluing. I found it very hard and would not have finished without cheating.

What was glamping? It rang a faint bell. Some part of me knew it was a recent coinage and that I wouldn't find it in my very ancient Webster's. So I Googled it. After which I still had to figure out where one actually glamps.

I also had to cheat on Odysseus's dog ARGOS.

I was wondering why you would want to meet someone in a HALLWAY, but I caught myself early enough and wrote in HALFWAY.

I had the EE in EYE EXAM and it took me forever to see it. It was sort of DOOK-y and I wanted some sort of SLEEP answer.

I see this is a debut puzzle. It's a witty and challenging one and congrats are in order.

emily 10:05 AM  

One of the little boys toy, was a dinosaur, a T-Rex.

kitshef 10:06 AM  

@Z - probably Rex pronounces the VER in VERSAILLES to rhyme with "pair". Sorry to hear about your sister. I have three and can't imagine what losing one would be like.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

Thanks so much, Quasi and @Anon 8:56. I posted so late I was sure no one would see it. I'm very glad that you did.

@Z -- I feel so bad for you. Expected or not, it's a terrible and untimely loss. Know that you have my deepest sympathy.

Petsounds 10:08 AM  

@Todd: "Chillax" has been a thing for a long time. Years.

Really enjoyed this puzzle, the themers, and the fresh fill. The Ernst & Young clue really stumped me, especially because I'm never sure whether LITER will be spelled LITER or LITRE. Had BEAN for roughage source at first, and "Lead-in for Romeo" stumped me briefly. Also appreciated that TWA was clued as "Pan Am rival," putting the answer firmly in its historical time.

I was amazed to learn that this was a debut puzzle!! Great job, Barbara! Looking forward to many more.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

There doesn’t have to be more than one Sinai. It is used as an example of a challenging post. “Gimme a place that’s jut as tough to deal with as Sinai!”

Joaquin 10:13 AM  

Condolences to @Z. Will look forward to your return and always provocative takes on the puzzle.

I wasn't that stoked by this puzzle, but ... the Ernst and Young clue might just be the clue of the century. That alone was worth the price of admission!

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Could all the self-appointed experts on this blog give up on the "Tirana" rant. My Rand McNally atlas and Hammond atlas both have "Tiranë" as the capital of Albania.

And operas have overtures, preludes, prologues or just a few introductory bars.

And skits can be improvised.

And if you have heard of the "Titanic", you must have heard of White Star Line.

pabloinnh 10:18 AM  

Nice debut, BL. Good for you.

Off and running with OCULAR, (too many eye problems to talk about lately), followed by OSTRICH which led to other stuff, then around the grid here and there, hit the revealer, everything made sense and the fun was over, alas too soon. I'll give it a Thursdacito.

Expect to see a link to "Just Gimme Some Kind of Sign" at some point.

@Z-Sorry to hear your news. Even when these events are not unexpected, we never seem to be ready for them.

xyz 10:19 AM  

Nothing much at all in this puzzle, Wednesday lite, meh fill, meh theme, but no METHANE - or OREO, blessedly.

PHV 10:29 AM  

An axis is a line, not a point.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Triceps is anatomically correct, but tricep is used by bodybuilders, hence the “informally” seems to make it ok. Puz was a nice workout for a beginner with little of the usual dreck.

mbr 10:41 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny: "gros" or "grosse" means voluminous or big.

JC66 10:47 AM  



Lewis 10:50 AM  

@z -- Thoughts and prayers to you in this difficult time.

Newboy 10:50 AM  

Thanks Barbara Lin for this debut cupcake! Loved the cluing as well as the Thursday-worthy theme. Both 44 & 58 across clues took me miles in the wrong direction and the GIMME oughtabe easy TREXES took what seemed a GROS amount of time while I pondered TRE?ES....three whatevers??? AYE finally got it and groaned. Glad to see a woman debut puzzle get Mr. Chen’s POW; unusual, but certainly worthy🙌🙌🙌

QuasiMojo 11:00 AM  

@Southside Johnny, I thought the same thing at first about grand or grande in French. Gros means big. A person is gros, if referring to weight or size. A mountain or lake is "grand." People say "gros bisous" for big kisses. But would probably say "un grand immeuble" for a large building.

Mo-T 11:00 AM  

@Z My older sister died last February 2nd. I still have my hand on the phone to call her before I remember.

There will be bad days and sad days, but there will be good days, too.

When you hear that first little spring bird or taste a favorite food or see the lips of a child turn up into a smile, may you think: Sis would have liked that.

XO Monica

Nancy 11:00 AM  

Re "glamping":

For a hilarious look at the people most likely to "glamp" -- and I would be one -- catch this video.

Adam Lipkin 11:06 AM  

Liked this one a lot, and would have done a lot better if I hadn't confidently put in SIMON for half of a folk-rock group. FREE VERSAILLES was a really good answer.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Need more transgender constructors.

MissLiner 11:10 AM  

This was a fine Thursday for me, except from the moment I started I TOTALLY thought it was Tuesday! I got 3/4s of the way through thinking "this is little more challenging than the normal Tuesday, I like that!", until I was totally stuck in the NW - "this is CRAZY for a Tuesday!!". It was only when I saw I had finished under my average that I realized it was in fact Thursday, and the world made sense to me again.

PS I first had 'vin' for ETA at 7a; I won't spell out what I thought started with V that 'may involve dilation', but it would have been a bold choice by Shortz! ROFLMAO

FPBear 11:11 AM  

A Thursday puzzle without a rebus is like a beautiful woman without a vagina!

jberg 11:12 AM  

@Z, I am very sorry about your sister. It’s always hard.

I loved this theme, with so many ways to make the long-I sound. Six letters in VERSAILLES! Wow.

It seems to be “The MAMAS and the Papas” week. Is this an important anniversary date or something?

Joaquin 11:13 AM  

Great observation from @Sir Hillary re: 7D. I agree - it's a "far better revealer than the actual one!"

Not a so-called expert 11:16 AM  

@Southside Johnny, if you plug “gros” into Google translate it says “large”. If you plug in “grande” it says “big.” So, synonyms? I learned something today!

jae 11:31 AM  

Top half easy, bottom half medium with the SW the toughest corner. I kept looking for a “trick”. Jeff at Xwordinfo said the “no trick” feature was what he liked about this one and he gave it POW. I’m not sure I would have gone that far as it’s not particularly smooth...GROS, EPS, ETA, CPA, LTD, ILE...but the vertical 7 stacks in the corners were very good. Liked it, nice debut.

@Z - Condolences.

SouthsideJohnny 11:32 AM  

Thanks @mbr.

Someone was recently lamenting the fact (and I agree) that the prevalence and frequently opaque nature of the foreign words and phrases is a drag on the solving experience. The treatment of GROS today is a good example. Assume for a thought experiment that we are solving a french language puzzle (no doubt from Mots Croisés), then the clue “grand” would be appropriate for the answer “gros” as someone fluent in french would realize that they are synonymous. However, this subtlety is lost when we venture across the pond to les états unis.

My point here is that including the “wordplay” dimension in foreign clues creates a linguistic Natick (or should that be a Le Harve?) and pushes the clue into Dark Matter territory. It’s too bad, because it is so easily avoidable if the editors would do some research and exercise an appropriate level of diligence.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

@Z - Our sincere sympathies go out to you and your family. Take care, bro.


No way uh-uh that M&A was gonna start out this solvequest in the NW Thunderdome corner area. Took one intimidatin look, and advanced/retreated to the weeject stack-friendly NE, and got the show rollin, right away.
This was an incredible debut and primo ThursPuz. Superfun stuff. {Glamping site, maybe} = YURT was a tad sadistic, I'd grant. Maybe toss in GROS & MEI, also. That stuff was well-spread-out in the puzgrid, tho, sooo … ok.

Luved the theme. Harlarious idea. Had everything except the FARMERINTHEDELI. No -- wait … that's more of an "ee" sound … I've got to think … PITBULLSEYE? nah, didn't so. But, speakin of EYEs ...

Really liked @Sir Hillary's comment about usin EYEEXAM as a revealer. Only thing would be U hate to have the revealer at the top of the puz, so it'd have to be migrated south.
AYE gets staff weeject pick, on account of its fly-by-night oh-by-the-way revealer status. Woulda just left poor AYE alone … this here fabulous ThursPuz don't need no stinkin runt revealer.

Thanx for yer great debut, Ms. Lin darlin. And congratz on joinin the NYT xword corps of constructioneers.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Malsdemare 11:40 AM  

I thought it was a terrific puzzle. Lots of stuff that made me work a little —or a lot — but success in a timely fashion. I put in and took out OSTRICH at least two times, scratched my head longer than I like to admit over HEN, and needed three crosses before I remembered what glamping is and saw YURT. GIMMEE A SINAI works just fine for me and the other themers were adorable.

@Z I have three older sisters. Like others here, the thought of losing them fills me with dread. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope your heart and soul find peace in the coming days.

More, please, Barbara.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Don't forget Octopises

Jon in St Paul 12:52 PM  

Rex's ire at IRES makes it all worth it. Enjoyed this, though GIMMEASINAI is an extremely weird answer with an even weirder clue.

Carola 12:57 PM  

My experience was IN-OUT, as in “over too fast.” Like @pabloinnh, I started with OCULAR x OSTRICH and managed to hit the no-resistance grid pathways to the final AYE. Loved the inspired FREE VERSAILLES and the Ernst & Young clue.

@The Bard, thank you for the Othello quote; I’d forgotten it.
@Anonymous 10:11, thank you for that parsing of GIMME A SINAI.
@SuzieQ, before we bought our (not very big) house, I friend discouraged us by describing it as a WARREN: it was built as a two-flat (contrary to the single-family-dwelling zoning restriction), which means that each floor is a maze of rooms. Guests, plumbers, electricians, etc., regularly get lost and need to be guided back to where they wanted to go. I’m just hoping that by the time we need to sell, the “open concept” craze has run its course.

Barbara Lin, congratulations on your debut. I look forward to your next one.

@Z, I’m so sorry.

Chip Hilton 12:57 PM  

CHILLAX and TREXES did me the Natick. Everything else was smooth sailing. Quite clever on the theme, Ms. Lin. Well done!

@Z - My condolences.

Unknown 1:03 PM  

Are there other blogs that cover the NYT puzzle? I'm tired of Rex's carping on minor flaws, and his constant harping on the gender of the constructor. Give me a fun puzzle, like today. I don't care if there's a penis attached to the constructor.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

“Gros” is basically an informal or pejorative “grand,” usually meaning “fat.” So, someone who is “grand(e)” would be tall while someone who is “gros(se)” would be heavy.

You see the similar word “gras” in “Mardi Gras” or “Fat Tuesday” (though that meaning is more along the lines of a “fatty” food).

TJS 1:07 PM  

Was convinced that "Glamping was some variation of breakdancing, so I was picturing something that uses the curb on a street corner, among other absurdities. Really loved the toughness of this puzzle even if the cluing in spots was straining credulity.
@Z, sorry for your loss. After I lost my only sister, I went through the same situation as @Mo-T above, "Wait until I tell ..." before the back-to-reality reaction. Time heals.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I got the theme idea before the revealer so that allowed me to try to use it to solve. I had almost completely skipped the NW (only RAPT went in) because nothing was coming to me (except PLY for 30A, of course). So when I had ______THE BOW TIE,, I tried to come up with a "blank the boat" phrase and failed. Luckily, I did know what a UNICORN was, which got rid of PLY and gave me the finish in the NW. I had to laugh that Rex was expecting a BRA answer at 11D. I was expecting one at 17A based on "push-up". With the P from RAPT in place, it could end in "cup"? Never mind...

For some reason, many of the Sci-fi/Fantasy books I read take place in the WARRENS of crowded cities. But "mazy" was not registering as "maze-like" in my head so crosses were needed there.

Congratulations, Barbara Lin, on your very nice debut puzzle. I really appreciated ROCKS THE BOW TIE and FREE VERSAILLES.

@Z, so sorry to hear about your sister. You have my condolences.

Joe Dipinto 1:15 PM  

This was really good except I didn't quite grok the Sinai clue, but I expect @Anon 10:11 nailed it; and also, the revealer does just go pffft. Would it have worked without any revealer? Maybe.

The concept was fine and the theme answers are all nifty. But future constructors please note: TRICEP is not to be encouraged.

Condolences to @Z. I see Rex has HALFWAY covered so I don't have to link that putrid song by the Partridge Family. Here's a double play from 1974 and 1967.

Miss Manners 1:25 PM  

@FPBear 11:11. What's wrong with you?!

Whatsername 1:38 PM  

@Z: Please except my sympathies on the loss of your sister. May you and your family find comfort in your memories.

@Nancy: Just wanted to say I also read your post last night and I applaud your thoughtful, measured response. I can only imagine what is entailed in the publication process, but I admire anyone with the resolve and wherewithal to take an idea and make it a reality. Looking forward to your next creation.

No comment on the Crossword today as the dog ate my puzzle this morning. She was pouty because I left her alone to go have breakfast with a friend, so I came home to a pile of shredded paper. And they say animals can’t talk.

Unknown 1:48 PM  

This one bested me.

MAMAS is a weird way to describe half a 60's band. I was thinking SONNY or something. In the same way an ICBM "fills" a silo. No, silos are filled with grain. Very different sentiment. Being an acronym the crosses don't reveal a lot.

Is TRICEP really informal? Also of all the muscles involved in a push-up, this seems arbitrary.

Words I have never encountered in my 31-year lifespan: HEN, YURT, IRES (v.), EIRE, WARRENS, RARA. Uneducated dote I guess.

Like Rex, still unclear on SINAI. I thought about BRUNAI (is there a fight over who's Sultan?)

I know I'm not the most experienced solver, and some cluing beat me fairly (OCULAR), but the level of misleading and arcanery made this a dredge.

What? 2:11 PM  

I noticed egg creams in the video. Still very local so maybe “New York Jews Don’t Camp”.

Peach Flesh 2:13 PM  

The Sinai Peninsula is a point of contention in the middle east. It has been fought over. To say gimme a Sinai in this context would mean just give me something to fight over.

bigsteve46 2:26 PM  

What's Rex got against TMC? Where I am its included in the basic cable bundle - not an extra charge like HBO - and, for my two cents has much better stuff, at least for an old timer. As I know I've mentioned before, Rex reminds me more and more of the guy in Jerry Lee Lewis's "39 and Holding," desperately trying to stay hip (which in Binghamton, New York, isn't all that tough to do, anyway!)

JC66 2:33 PM  


I short while back, TMC was clued as "HBO competitor" and @Rex took exception because, as you pointed out it's a basic channel, not a premium channel. I think he was just riffing on that today.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

TMC (The Movie Channel) is not a basic channel. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is the basic channel, TMC is the premium channel. They're different because, you know, names. And acronyms.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Thinking of foie gras led me to gros. A little "tourist French" can be helpful.

chefwen 3:09 PM  

Missed my Thursday rebus, but enjoyed this one also. Only one write over ARGuS to OS, easy fix. Laughed out loud at THE GOOD WIFI.

@Z. My deepest sympathy on the loss of your sister.

sanfranman59 3:42 PM  

@Nancy (and others): Excellent posts yesterday re female constructors. Thank you for communicating my thoughts about this topic so much more eloquently than I could. I also frequent another crossword blog and if you think Rex harps on this here, it seems like it's ten-fold over there. In fact, some of the reviews basically amount to simply counting the number of female and male references in the grid. Yeesh.

@Larry: I generally avoid reacting to message board trolls like you since that's generally how you get your jollies. But in this case, I'll make an exception. You're an ass.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

@FPBear (11:11), maybe you don't realize it, but your comment is offensive. Frankly, I'm surprised it got past the moderator.

@bigsteve46 and @JC66, the channel included in most "basic" TV packages is TCM/Turner Classic Movies. The premium channel - the HBO competitor and the one in today's puzzle - is TMC/The Movie Channel.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

What's offensive about FPBear's comment?

JC66 4:05 PM  

re: TMC

My first mistake this year ;-)

(this joke works better in the Fall).

Klazzic 4:22 PM  

@Z: I'm thinking good and positive thoughts for you, my friend.

Thought this was a walk in the park for a Thursday. Enjoyed the wackiness save for the SINAI. I, too, was left a little at "C" regarding the nexus between a diplomat and the challenge. Oh, well, great debut for this constructor. Terrific effort.

Peter Sagal 5:20 PM  

In re: "(voiced by Katey Sagal, whose first and last names are common crossword fare)"

Not common enough.

Birchbark 5:25 PM  

@Z -- Very sorry to hear of your loss. We'll keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

sanfranman59 5:38 PM  

Thanks for sharing, @Z. I'm sorry for your loss and pass along blessings to you and yours.

sanfranman59 5:55 PM  

@Petsounds re "CHILLAX has been a thing for a long time. Years." ... depends on your definition of "long time" ... the sources I found say it's origin is late-90's/early-00's. It's easy to understand why some of us (particularly those of us older than, say, 30) may have missed its arrival on the English language scene. Cruciverb's database shows just two previous NYT appearances and none in their other puzzle sources.

Bourbon Street 6:18 PM  

@Z: my condolences on the loss of your sister.

In Illinois, the town of Versailles is pronounced “Ver-SALES” and SALINE County is pronounced “Celine”.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

This was my favorite puzzle in some time. Why? Because the clues I didn't know I was able to get. And isn't that what puzzling is all about?

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

Expecting Hannity to report facts is akin to expecting a chicken to write cosmological theorems.

Joaquin 9:27 PM  

Anon @ 7:53 - I agree with you, but ... I come here to get away from all that [stuff] and I suspect most of the other regulars do too. There's plenty of appropriate places to complain about Hannity et al.

JC66 10:06 PM  


Anon @7:53 was only responding to @Gharriss' 8:06 comment. So blame the judge.

Joaquin 11:01 PM  

@JC66 - OK. Thanks for the clarification. So now I will direct the same remark to both of them. I feel buried by all the political [stuff] going on and this does provide a good break for me. I'm good with any sort of witticism (including political) but the serious comments I can do without.

OK. See ya tomorrow!

Anonymous 11:28 PM  


Speaking only for myself: sarcastic humour was the whole point. Not everyone wants to see the humour.

Unknown 5:53 AM  

To which Iago asks: Behold her topped?

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

We had eye-related clues everywhere, aye? OCULAR refers to eyes, not vision. Did nobody consider the clue for AMORE as allusive to the themers? And the EYE EXAM and SALINE tears. And for free (verse), AYE and rhymers, crossing EIRE and IRES. Not to mention and mispronounce the Madagascar isle, ILE.

As a kid taken abroad to live in francophone Morocco, I learned the first day to say and (buying a large loaf of bread for dinner.)
The NYT needs a crossword editor who reads its other sections, understands hard stuff like math, physics, and foreign languages, and isn’t a total sell-out to popular usage of words.


Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Ooops! French quote marks are (or were) horizontal carets > < but pointing outward. I learned to say, “ Bonjour, un gros pain, s’il vous plaît.”.


Phipps44 7:11 PM  

Lpve it!!

Erin 9:39 PM  

I’m trying to imagine how Rex pronounces Versailles. I thought maybe I was wrong but internet pronunciation tools agree it’s a normal ver sound, same as verse.

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

If he's being super-authentic, a la Alex Trebek, OFC might say "[Vair]-sigh." I call this pronunciation snobbery. But most of us think the themer is right on. Amazing notice by @Sir Hillary about EYEEXAM; I agree that should be the revealer--or maybe simply a title for the puzzle, with no other in-grid revealer. Anyway, I liked it, so congrats on THEGOOD debut.

LAILA Ali wins DOD, on account of my not realizing she never lost. Way to go, girl! Honorable mention to Juliana Margulies, THEGOODWIFe. The solve broke open for me with 50-across, and from there on wasn't too feisty despite several attempts to toughen up the clues.

Nits: a TURBINE does not necessarily operate on wind, as the clue seems to suggest. Not sure about characterizing the MAMAS and the Papas as "folk." And EIRE/IRES/EVITE? There ought to be some way to fix that. But taken all in all, an auspicious beginning. Birdie.

P.S. I resent OFC's shade thrown at Turner Movie Classics, a channel I'd hate to be without. It never set out to be a direct "competitor" of HBO.

Burma Shave 1:50 PM  




rainforest 2:42 PM  

Good puzzle with appropriate wackiness, which you need with a simple sounds-alike theme, plus it's a debut. Kudos.

I know it is pronounced vair sigh, but I liked the themer nonetheless.

So, "GIMME A SINAI, and I'll give you a Gaza".

Got the NW pretty well right off (struggled a bit with UNICORN, but the crossed filled it in). Good cluing throughout, and some excellent downs.
Did I like it? AYE.

Diana, LIW 2:55 PM  

Got goofed up in the OCULAR NW - looking for some kind of optic kinda thing. sigh

Not much of a Thursday theme, but TGINAR (not a rebii).

Anyone else hear the news lately, and wonder when a crossword quiz will come out of the eerie odor in Erie?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 7:26 PM  

AYE AYE EYE! Or IE AI I AILLES. Did not read any comments, but maybe someone above said something about TRICEPs is not plural, so there is no singular TRICEP? Double UP with LOCKUP and DRIEDUP? Two handfuls of abbr.s ETA LGA ICBM LTD CPA TWA EPS TMC ASST? Foreign to me AMORE ILE MEI RARA GROS ASTI ALFA, even EIRE IRES. Letter be E-VITE T-REXES A-REST (hey, ETA). MAMAS and Papas were less folk than pop. Somewhat better than that puz in the want-ads. Hate to CARP, but it's been that kind of day.

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