1887 Chekhov play / SUN 3-22-20 / Billionaire Blavatnik / Noted satellite of 1962 / Vacuum tube with five active components / Literary character whose house is uprooted by tornado / Dipped in egg bread crumbs then fried / Setting of 1903 Victor Herbert operetta

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium (very easy theme, but weirdly out-of-my-wheelhouse fill/clues, all over the place) (11:20) (that time would normally put it in Medium-Challenging territory, but the one drink I had before solving feels like it was Verrry strong ... or maybe I'm dehydrated ... there are just too many things to keep track of these days ...)

THEME: "Bring Your 'A' Game" — wacky two-part phrases where one part is a word starting with "A" and another part is a homophone of that word that starts with the indefinite article "A"; so:

Theme answers:
  • ACQUIRE A CHOIR (23A: What the church's music director wanted to do?)
  • A NOISE ANNOYS (32A: Truism about unwanted sound?)
  • APPALL A PAUL (50A: Greatly dismay one of the Beatles?)
  • A RIVAL'S ARRIVALS (65A: Times when your archenemy shows up?)
  • ATTACKS A TAX (81A: What the antigovernment activist does?)
  • A VOWEL AVOWAL (96A: "Aye" or "Oui"?)
  • A PATCHY APACHE (111A: Geronimo, when his beard was just coming in?)
Word of the Day: "IVANOV" (36D: 1887 Chekhov play) —
Ivanov (RussianИванов: драма в четырёх действиях (Ivanov: drama in four acts); also translated as "Ivanoff") is a four-act drama by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov.
Ivanov was first performed in 1887, when Fiodor Korsh, owner of the Korsh Theatre in Moscow, commissioned Chekhov to write a comedy. Chekhov, however, responded with a four-act drama, which he wrote in ten days. The first performance was not a success and the production disgusted Chekhov himself. In a letter to his brother, he wrote that he "did not recognise his first remarks as my own" and that the actors "do not know their parts and talk nonsense". Irritated by this failure, Chekhov made alterations to the play. Consequently, the final version is different from that first performance. After this revision, it was accepted to be performed in St. Petersburg in 1889. Chekhov's revised version was a success and offered a foretaste of the style and themes of his subsequent masterpieces. (wikipedia)
• • •

Brendan publishes wonderful themed and themeless puzzles, twice a week, at his independent puzzle blog. You should definitely put those puzzles on your puzzle schedule, and if you don't have a puzzle schedule, honestly, what's wrong with you? What are you waiting for? So many puzzles in the world! The puzzle we have before us feels way too basic, way too ... I don't know. Straighforward and corny? It's got wackiness, but it's wackiness of a pretty low order. The "A" phrases (that is, the indefinite article parts of the themers) are particularly thudsome and off-putting. A PAUL? The clue seems to be asking for APPALL PAUL, but ... to follow the specifics of the theme ... you gotta put that "A" in there, and oof. I think I kinda like the idea of Geronimo with a bad teen beard, so A PATCHY APACHE is OK—it's outrageous and weird and funny enough to work. But the rest just kinda sit there. They definitely fit the pattern, but they don't do much more than that. The rest of the grid is fine, though I just could not groove on a lot of it. Outside my wheelhouse in many places. Never heard of BLUECAP, never heard of PENTODE, can't imagine anyone saying INCANTS, really really don't pay attention to billionaires if I don't have to, so that LEN guy? Nope. If the only thing you're famous for is being rich ... yeah, chances are I haven't noticed. Never heard of "IVANOV." No idea who Victor Herbert is, so the setting of one of his operettas? No chance. I assume the operetta is "Babes in TOYLAND" [... looks it up ...) yup, that's it. I don't know what a "Flatpack" is, but IKEA fit in that space (93D). I am sure that "dull" is one possible meaning of INSIPID but I'd never in a million years use them interchangeably. That's some undergrad-abusing-the-thesaurus action right there. Anyway, between the oddly strong drink I had, and bad luck, and the puzzle's, let's say, INSIPIDness, this just wasn't for me. But again, do BEQ's puzzles 2x/week at his site. Even when they're maddening, they're good: fresh, current, interesting.

I liked GOES POSTAL, though the roots of that phrase are pretty grim. I liked (really liked) that this puzzle saw fit to spell TEEHEE correctly. None of this TEHEE garbage. There's probably no such thing as RED BEANS MILANESE, but I like that those two food answers are symmetrical. My car thief was working with a CROWBAR at first, not a SLIMJIM (which I think of as a convenience store food product that one "snaps into"). I thought RADS were [Radiation units]. Don't remember seeing REMS clued this way (or ever seeing REMS at all, frankly). Hmm, looks like I've actually seen it *nine* times since I started blogging, but I haven't seen this radiation clue in ~11 years (all the other clues were sleep-related). Hey, wait, is PLAN AHEAD part of the theme?? (45D: Do some prescheduling). It sits dead center, and it kinda sorta relates ... I mean, each segment of the theme answer has an "A" at its "HEAD." I'm going to say yes, that counts, and my appreciation of the theme just ticked up a notch.

I don't think I have much else to say about this one. I'm kind of tired. Probably a lot of you are, too. Things are hard all over. I am trying and will continue to try like hell not to let the broader troubles of the world weigh me down, and thus weigh my writing down. I really will. But I can't promise you won't hear some weariness. Somehow the whole shut-down of daily life has really made me realize how much crosswords are part of the rhythm of my day. But now they are *the* rhythm of my day. I have a lot of other things in my life, but not a lot of other things that give it regularity and structure. My classes have moved online, and those technically "meet" at the same old scheduled times, but it's not the same. The getting dressed, taking the bus, performing 2x/day, chatting to students ... all that dumb ordinary stuff is just gone and all of a sudden it doesn't seem so dumb or ordinary. I miss it. And now there's lots more pressure on crosswords to provide me with ... something. Some simple quotidian pleasure. And as we know, the NYTXW just hasn't been reliable on that count. I want great creative joyful puzzles; barring that, I want clean bouncy solid puzzles, and barring that ... well, just go the whole other direction: give me *terrible* puzzles so I can really sink my teeth in. Giving me PAP ... it just feels cruel. Crosswords are just a pastime, it's true, but the best crosswords (and the NYTXW at least purports to be the best), those should make us feel *something*. Good or bad, they should make an impact. So thank you to all the great constructors, and to all those who are making a good-faith effort to be great, and also to the epic failures who make my job easy (tearing a bad puzzle apart is a real joy). I know this paragraph is all over the map, I see that. I'm just trying to get at this feeling ... that I wish the puzzles seemed more worth my effort, more of the time. But honestly the only thing reliably worth my effort is you people. You all have been very, very good to me. If I think about readers, about shared experience, about community ... if I just look at the box full of mail that I've received this year ... then doing this every day does all seem worth it. Even now. I'm just struggling a little is all. Sputtering, maybe. Please be patient. Thank you.

[RIP, Kenny]

Here, let's end with something fun: let's play, "Where's Brendan Emmett Quigley!?" (hint: he's in this video ... he's the white guy ... in the white shirt ... I've said too much!). Seriously, though, this video is cute.

Take care, everyone! I appreciate you more than you know.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    jae 12:34 AM  

    Medium. Top half tougher than the bottom half. Pretty smooth and kinda fun, liked it.

    @Rex - Amen

    puzzlehoarder 12:37 AM  

    A little bit of a slow start up north. The NE corner was where I got a real start. Without completely filling that corner in or getting the ANNOYS themer, I wound up following the path of least resistance down to the bottom of the puzzle.

    The APACHE themer was the first one to go in. I steadily back filled the puzzle from there and finished in the NW.

    Recently we had TITTLES today they are PIPS. We also have SCOT again but without the unicorn. Shouldn't OLA have an H at the start? Didn't Dorothy call her AUNTIE EM? Isn't that definite article out of place in 50A? The Beatles only had one PAUL. It should just be APPALLPAUL. Minor nits in what was a fine Sunday.

    It helped knowing DEEDEE and VANCE. Today I learned ACQUIRE has a C after the A. Not two Rs before the R. Correct spelling often has to be forced on me.

    Anon 2:04 AM  

    I declare hor*eshit on "BLUECAP".

    Jason 3:03 AM  

    "I'm With HER" shows up in the grid and Rex doesn't say a word about politics creeping into the puzzle.

    Let "MAGA" show up and see if his attitude stays the same.

    MommaJ 3:32 AM  

    Super easy puzzle. One of my fastest, if not my fastest, times ever. I was hoping for a challenging one to fill some of these long, anxious hours, but no such luck.

    Anonymous 3:42 AM  

    Feels like just a ton of proper nouns, though I haven't counted. Isn't it a bit much to put FETT next to ISAO?

    Who knew that PENTODEs made good amplifiers in the good old days before transistors got invented in the 1950s? But at least the 5 in the clue suggested PENTxxx, so it wasn't that hard to guess at.

    VANCE kept feeling wrong. Wait, isn't he a DA rather than a diplomat? Duh!

    Until today, I never knew the West Indies included the Bahamas.

    Lindandc 3:47 AM  

    We’re all struggling, but coming here feels like a community. Of weirdos perhaps, but still a community. Thanks, Rex.

    chefwen 3:53 AM  

    When I saw BEQ was the constructor I thought, damn, I’m toast. Then I got AQUIRE A CHOIR right away and was off to the races. I don’t time myself, I like to savor a Sunday puzzle, but this little puppy was done before I was ready for it to be done.

    115A is what we’re all going to get used to, sadly.

    Fun puzzle, thanks Brendan.

    Loren Muse Smith 3:56 AM  

    What a treat to get a toothsome BEQ during these trying times. I tell ya – the clue for A VOWEL AVOWAL is the superstar here. I mean, I loved the trick and the themers, but that clue. . . brilliant. Brilliant. (I also loved the clue for ACORNS. Are there ACORNS in the oval office? Asking for a friend.)

    What I really appreciated was that each themer involved a spelling change. So AVOID A VOID or A ROSE AROSE wouldn’t fit. Hard to come up with others. Accrue a crew? Adore a door?

    The clue for CANDIES made me pause. Sat there thinking about the difference between saying you ate a lot of candy vs you ate a lot of candies. Sure – the latter focuses more on each individual one, and the difference is negligible, but still.

    Rex – your “some undergrad-abusing-the-thesaurus action” reminded me of a paper a senior turned in a few years ago about the career of a physical therapist. I don’t know what happened or why, but apparently he consulted a thesaurus and then did some kind of control H deal to replace all the occurrences of physical with bodily, resulting in the startling phrase bodily therapist everywhere.

    Funny how the term AFGHAN seems to have been supplanted by throw. AFGHAN for me screams a crocheted squares deal draped over the back of the couch. The couch that is in the paneled den resplendent with rust-colored shag carpet. With a view of the harvest gold appliances in the adjoining kitchen.

    It took several passes before I realized the clue for 93D said “flatpack” and not “flapjack” – I kept considering IHOP

    @chefwen - good catch on SAT HOME.

    Michael – I read and reread your last paragraph. You’re spot-on as regards the role that crosswords play in a lot of our lives, especially now that we’re living through these nightmares – the virus itself, not to mention the self-congratulatory SPEWing by the anus horribilis. I’m beyond grateful to you for the effort and commitment you put into this place, this delightful little distraction.

    Group hug, everyone. From afar.

    Lewis 6:10 AM  

    @lms -- With the AVOWEL AVOWAL clue, BEQ managed to AMUSE A MUSE!

    Of course AMUSE A MUSE would not make the cut as a member of this puzzle's theme answers. These theme answers are remarkably consistent. Each one begins with an unstressed A that sounds like "uh", the second syllable is stressed, and the sound-alike words are all spelled differently (unlike MUSE and MUSE). Loren, can we clue your ADORE A DOOR with [Love Jim Morrison]?

    It doesn't take much to tickle me, and TEE HEE resting on DEE DEE did just that!

    The puzzle was not a Quigmire, rather it was salad of easiness and toughness that sated my appetite -- Thank you, BEQ!

    GILL I. 6:40 AM  

    Starting my very early morning insomnia induced puzzle with a BEQ and immediately thinking I'm @chefwen's toast. Dang, this man intimidates the caca out of me. At least I know I get to come here and hope I'm not the only one. On the fun news front, we get @Loren and @Lewis giving me the morning smile. Good fun with your AMUSE A MUSE. Reading @Rex and feeling a bit low. @Rex I'm not sure what I'd do without your rants, rages, amusing takes on puzzles and and and, well.....we can fill in the blanks. If you ever left it would be worse than not having any coffee in the pantry or worse, running out of wine. These are bad, sad times but we have your blog!
    Well....after staring at the puzzle for EVER, I finally made some progress. Kept saying to myself that I can do this. My first big whooping AHA was APPALL A PAUL. Yep....I knew where BEQ was going on this train and I hitched a ride. Fun. I was able to get his A GAME trick. Loved this Sunday and loved that I was able to break my fear. Why do I feel like having a cigarette?

    fkdiver 6:51 AM  

    Way too easy for a Sunday. Especially for a BEQ. I look forward to his hard Mondays and medium Thursdays; I guess the Sunday NYT is where he puts his easy ones. Other than that, a fun, quick solve; but I'll need the LAT to finish my coffee.

    Anonymous 6:51 AM  

    LMS - your aside to Michael made me LMAO

    Unknown 8:04 AM  

    Yep. Crosswords lend sone structure. Need that. But if a expand my schedule. How will I ever get my job done when things normalize?

    Still...its tempting.

    Loved the puzzle. Loved clues for one syllable vowels and for behead and others.

    Thank you Rex and NYT for keeping things normal.

    Smitty 8:05 AM  

    Moving to the boonies 30 years ago was sorta like self quarantine. I've been waking up to this community ever since -even when all I had was a "steam driven modem". I appreciate you now more than ever!

    Anonymous 8:10 AM  

    My first answer was actually "PENTODE" - as a ham radio operator (for >40 years), I smiled at that one. And since I also work in a hospital, I was deciding between "RADS" and "REMS" for radiation units (another one is "sievers", and they're all a little different, but I'm neither a radiologist nor a medical physicist to remember these differences...).

    The NW corner stumped me for a bit, until I enlisted the aid of my wife. Without her, I would've taken (horrors!) >1 hour to complete this puzzle.

    Happy to have this community. Social distancing is difficult - but absolutely necessary, if we are to avoid what is happening in Italy, which I am sure is not even at its worst.

    Stay well and stay sane, everyone.


    Suzie Q 8:22 AM  

    I am not a fan of BEQ puzzles but today I really enjoyed the fun.
    Very unusual almost touching message from Rex. A crisis can bring
    out the best in some people.

    pmdm 8:28 AM  

    Every now and then (rarely?) there is a puzzle Mr. Sharp really likes. After skimming years of these write-ups, I get a feel for his tastes. Not at all what mine are. So I am somewhat happy that the NYT does not for the most part publish puzzles that he likes. To each his own.

    Today I was half and half on his wavelength. I did not like the fill, which left me rather cold. But I enjoyed and appreciated the theme entries a lot. A number of the entries bought a smile to my face.

    My brain seems to prefer abstract puzzles. These days, doing the daily Ken Ken puzzles (and the NYT online Sudoku puzzles) gives me more satisfaction than the crossword. Again, to each his own.

    Yesterday, my sister-in-law from Cyprus flew in (via Moscow, believe it or not) for the purpose of helping her daughter-in-law give birth next month. I understand the odd time to visit but it does seem like a bad time to visit. A final to eaach his (or her) own thought.

    One thing for sure. I hope all of you stay healthy and avoid infection. And I hope those of you who suffer from hay fever don't suffer from nasty reactions when allergy signs surface.

    TJS 8:35 AM  

    I know what to expect from Quigley puzzles, and this one came through, although ofcourse some cluing was stretched to the limits.

    Agree with all who appreciate the community that has established itself in response to OFL's reviews. This has certainly become a cant-miss appointment for me every morning, and is even more important as we all try to respond to our current, hopefully not long-term reality. We are certainly in uncharted waters. That puzzle recommended by @jae yesterday was excellent,btw.

    pabloinnh 8:46 AM  

    When I was in sixth grade one of the spelling words for the week was "afford". We had to use our spelling words in sentences, so I wrote "He could not afford a Ford." My teacher, Mr. Eschler, handed me back my paper with something like "nice one" after my example. I have no idea hos BEQ has access to my work from so many years ago, but I'd at least like a little attribution.

    Took forever to see PAPAS, where did that blind spot come from? Have sung in lots of CHOIRS so nice to see that one. Also, I know what it feels like when someone APPALLSAPAUL, and I wish everyone would stop doing that, especially our current occupant of the White House. Sheesh.

    I liked this one fine (easily amused syndrome strikes again), and would have been happy if it were the size of a tablecloth so I could spend all day on it. Crosswords have never been more useful or important. So chin up, Rex, you're doing a good thing.

    And thanks to BEQ for all the fun. Keep 'em coming.

    EricNC 8:49 AM  

    @pmd. Thanks for your concern for all us Spring hay fever sufferers. So far so good as the limited exposure seems to be working and when I do sneeze the few around are very understanding.

    Leslie 8:59 AM  

    I too am feeling the importance of my puzzle addiction at this time. It’s my first time writing in, but I feel as if I know most of you from your daily comments. Thanks, all, and particularly Rex.

    Birchbark 8:59 AM  

    PENTODE, ATTACK SATAX. You just have to hope the wrong robot doesn't stumble across this puzzle and trigger the command sequence. Thank goodness for a steady diet of '50s sci-fi movies late night on Amazon Prime, or I never would have noticed the nested algorithm here.

    A PATCHY start today, a là @Rex: a much-tougher-than-average-Saturday long time of hunting and pecking here and there to finally get going in the east. Then all was forgiven. 1A Simon --> PAPAS set the leitmotif.

    A nice dusting of snow on the meadow this morning to welcome Spring. The cupboards in my office are in better shape organization-wise than they have ever been. And we are blessed with a garage that improves every time you work on it but always leaves something more to do.

    Anonymous 9:02 AM  

    Re 50A: APPALL A PAUL. Brought back to my mind the famous quotation of Adlai Stevenson, ca. 1952, when informed that he had been attacked by Norman Vincent Peale because he was divorced: "I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling." I like the quotation, although I'm with Nietzsche in finding Paul appalling as well. Peale, so well known 70 years ago, is sometimes mentioned today in the news because his church (a real mega-ministry) in NYC drew Trump's father, I think because Peale tied good Christianity to economic success, and because the older Presbyterian churches in NYC wouldn't welcome him (that is, Trump, though most didn't welcome Peale either). You know you are in trouble when the Presbyterians will not accept you because you are not "old money"!

    Speaking of religion, re 51D, ABRAHAM as a prophet. Is it correct to call him a "prophet"? What did he prophesy? I think things were prophesied to him, or about him. I thought the term "prophet" was restricted to those who actually wrote the well-known books of prophesy in the bible, Isaiah et al. The proper term for Abraham, I think, is "patriarch."

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    kitshef 9:05 AM  

    That LARS/LSU cross was a bit iffy. Never heard of the former, and there are a lot of states along the Mississippi.

    Excellent column by Rex today.

    Kyle 9:12 AM  

    I enjoyed the fact that OSU (33D) was near, but slightly above, Michigan (46D).

    Go Bucks!

    Rex 9:25 AM  

    I was hoping for a Buzzcocks and/or Ramones video Rex.

    Anonymous 9:30 AM  

    I had similar feelings about the prophet clue. I had the name ending in HAM, and I ran through all of the prophets I could think of, and ABRAHAM never came to my mind until I had a lot more letters.

    MR. Cheese 9:31 AM  

    To minimize the quantity of worms - abate a bait

    MR. Cheese 9:39 AM  

    Should be, “to LESSEN the quantity of worms”

    Barbara S. 9:40 AM  

    I too quailed before the name Quigley, but got a foothold quite quickly and finished slightly faster than my usual Sunday time. I thought the themers were a hoot.

    I really liked some of the horizontal strings. A couple suggested conflict:

    PAPAS COMBAT SLIM JIM (was he threatening the kids?)

    VIM PUMMELS JAW (Two sports teams maybe or boxers?)

    Then a poem:


    Finally the ending of a story:

    Aunt Em said to Dorothy, "You should never wear red. Red is just not you. For instance, what color is that dress you have on now?" Dorothy SWORE TO AUNT EM CERISE.

    Nancy 9:43 AM  

    HOMOPHONES! My kind of wordplay puzzle, and I liked it, natch. Though I did find it surprisingly easy for a BEQ. Not nearly as many proper names as usual. He may be mellowing.

    I felt a special affinity with A NOISE ANNOYS. It sure does. They all do. On a scale of 1-10 of noise sensitive people, I'm a 15. At my advanced age, I seem to have the acute hearing of an 11-year-old (well, at this stage, maybe no better than a 14-year-old) -- and, while it's certainly better than being deaf, it's not the pure, untrammeled blessing you might think it is.

    Finally -- although, like all NYT puzzles, this one has surely been sitting in the queue for months and months and months, it has a coincidental timeliness that hit me like a kick in the stomach. I'm looking at you, SAT HOME. And even more at you, "This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper." Sigh.

    Sgreennyc 9:43 AM  

    Rex never heard of the composer Victor Herbert. Sometimes I am amazed at what this supposedly learned professor does not know. I suspect that his puzzle-solving abilities are grossly exaggerated.

    Nancy 9:43 AM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    mmorowitz 9:46 AM  

    My brain would only read "flatpack" as "flapjack" and I had IHOP in the SE for the LONGEST time. I could not see the word "flatpack". Eventually, I shook of the yips and figured it out.

    Hang in there, Rex. So many of us love your daily writeups and look forward to hearing your daily praises and gripes. So many of my nights end with me saying something like "I'm looking forward to hearing Rex's take on this in the morning" to my wife (as she rolls her eyes).

    Honestly I'm probably doing fewer crosswords during the quarantine, but that's the nature of having a schedule shaken up like a snow globe (cooking and cleaning 3 meals daily for the family, etc).

    Personally, I don't think it would be a terrible idea if you took a break from the NYT and spent a week or a month doing other puzzles once in a while. Maybe that's heresy to many, but I everything changes.

    Frantic Sloth 9:46 AM  

    For me, today's puzzle was all about "I'm with HER" and then the ensuing deep depression that set in on 11/8/16.

    Dopey note for the day:
    Thank goodness for APPALLAPAUL. Not because I particularly liked it (hand up for AVOWELAVOWAL for my fave), but because "appall" (or actually "a pall") always reminds me of that sound-editing scene from Manhattan Murder Mystery. "Hello, Paul?"

    And from the commentariat today:

    @LMS - I'm shamelessly stealing "anus horribilis", as new names of any worth are getting fewer and harder to find.

    @pabloinnh "occupant of the White House" seems too kind to me. I prefer "squatter" myself - or more accurately "that gagging sound squatting in the White House", since I can't even say the name without rising bile.

    @Z (assuming you'll be here soon) I'm gonna try emailing you again because I'm not sure it went through

    @Rex and others who voiced gratitude for the blog and the people here -- right back atcha! Virtual xoxo

    Teedmn 9:53 AM  

    This was a tough Sunday for me, which is to be expected from BEQ. Even with most of the theme answers in, I was still fighting on the edges, the NW and NE especially.

    A PATCHY APACHE was my first theme filled in and that made most of the other theme answers pretty easy except for 81A. The last letter was a WOE because the clue for 75D, TEXT, still ANNOYS me. Something about it makes my teeth hurt.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the STUMPER quality of the fill. Simple things like PLAN AHEAD and I'D SAY had me waiting for crosses. And PUMMELS wanted to be PUncheS. The clue for EDU was delightfully unsussable until well after I filled in EDU.

    "Unimpressive brain size" for PEA, har.

    Thanks, Mr. Quigley, this was fun.

    @puzzlehoarder, I remember misspelling ACQUIRE in sixth grade due to leaving off the C. As a very good speller most of the time, I was very annoyed to have to write it out some number of times as a lesson, but it worked. When I put it in the grid today, I remembered that very incident AND the C.

    @kitshef, re: LSU, I thought the same thing. My alma mater is on the Mississippi but with __U in the grid, I knew UMN was not what they were looking for.

    @birchbark, I usually don't welcome snow in late March but today's was like icing on a cake, to be savored.

    Take care, everybody, and thanks, Rex, for the well-meaning thoughts.

    Z 9:54 AM  

    COMBAT crossing a punnily clued BEHEAD did not forbode a joyful solving experience. Fortunately, the rest of the puzzle was mostly less violent.

    The JON BON JOVI clue had me asking myself, “what frontman hasn’t been declared sexiest rock star?” I mean, have you looked at Mick or Rod? And they’re considered “sexy.” The “Not Sexiest Rock Star Club” has to be a very lonely club, and slightly embarrassing.

    @LMS - punning in Latin is cheating.

    Regarding the Prophet Question, I think anyone God spoke to is considered a Prophet. And certifiable. Anyway, my first thought was this.

    @Kyle - I saw that.

    @kitshef - For some reason I think LSU might be the only university actually on the Mississippi. I cannot confirm but that is lodged in my brain as a trivial factoid, so it was my first thought, and the LARS von Trier is at least familiar. Still, that’s a sub-optimal crossing.

    I’ve been watching the first season (9 roughly 30 minute episodes) of Avenue 5 on HBO. The humor runs from juvenile potty humor to very dark, but also laden with satirical depth that can fly past you if you’re not paying attention.

    webwinger 9:58 AM  

    This was a solid Sunday with some very cute themers (especially liked A VOWEL AVOWAL, once I figured it out) and generally good clues and answers. Finished in about average time. Pleased that @Rex gave it a guarded thumbs up (maybe that should now be called “elbows up”?), but no surprise given that it comes from x-word royalty.

    However, IMO it was not as good as last weekend’s (seems like an eon ago, doesn’t it?) outing by @Nancy & WN, about which OFL said, “this was awful”. His musings today were mostly spot on, though, and I hope we’ll see some further softening from him, without loss of his insight and wit, of course. And he really must start visiting here, what with now being unable to enjoy what I’m sure was the former Manhattan-like social whirl of Binghamton NY. We’re increasingly a fun crowd!

    One more thing struck me in Rex’s comments today: the carping again about how the NYTXW these days so often fails to live up to its reputation. How about looking at the other side, Michael? At its best, this daily addiction for so many of us is a huge source of pleasure, still not surpassed by any other of its ilk, I’d say.

    Z 9:58 AM  

    @Frantic - I replied last night.

    Anonymous 9:59 AM  

    A car thief's "slim jim" is a long piece of metal with a hooked end, shaped like a hacksaw blade. It is used to slip between a window and the frame to manipulate the door lock. I wonder if modern autos are built to withstand these attacks. (Note: I'm not a car thief myself!) I've seen these used in a few movies...

    StevieO 10:02 AM  

    I lived in Montclair, New Jersey, a town that was ravaged by a gun spree from an overworked and unbalanced postal worker. My town and many of its residents were scarred by this. This gave me a much harder time with my breakfast than a casual aknowledgment that the NRA exists or that Strom Thurmond was once a senator. I don't need to be shielded from this part of history but Rex's arbitrary shifts between outrage and amusement come from his very narrow Binghamton-centric world-view.

    Hungry Mother 10:03 AM  

    Harder than usual for me this morning, but I had plenty of time to work on it. Toward the end, a couple of dumb typos held me up. I finally conquered it, so I’ll take the W.

    OffTheGrid 10:17 AM  

    @Loren. I liked your den description. In my version the kitchen appliances are avocado.

    QuasiMojo 10:21 AM  

    I just wrote a lengthy magnum opus here and accidentally deleted it. I'm too beat to write it all again. Later friends.

    Frantic Sloth 10:29 AM  

    @Anon 2:04am I just noticed that you asterisked the "s" of "horse" in your comment. I'm assuming that was intended as a joke - whether or not, LOL!

    Mo-T 10:33 AM  

    I look forward to BEQs Monday and Thursday puzzles, so I was happy to see this one today. Three in one week!

    The NW gave me fits so I started in the SE, and "A patchy Apache" (111A) sort of just appeared and then I worked my way up. It was fun to do the whole puzzle from South to North.

    We have been DVRing and watching old dramas, and sometimes we marvel at how forward-thinking some of them were, and sometimes we curse at the dialogue and actions. This week it's "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," and that show gives us looks at the treatment of people in the Old West, which frankly made us curse more than marvel. Weirdly, last night we watched a two-parter about a diphtheria epidemic. I guess that everything will remind us of COVID19 for the foreseeable future.

    @Rex: You never saw the Laurel and Hardy Babes in Toyland?????? I'm almost 69, and I have seen it about 67 times. You must look for it to experience Stannie and Ollie and Tom-Tom the Piper's Son and Little Bo-Peep and the evil Silas Barnaby and the Wooden Soldiers overtaking the Bogeymen!

    @Lewis 6:10: Amuse a muse. LMAO.

    Thank Goddess for crossword puzzles and their makers and their bloggers and their commenters!!! A tip of the hat to all of you.

    QuasiMojo 10:40 AM  

    Wait, I found some of it.

    I'm glad Rex says he appreciates us all, but how does he know? He has said on more than one occasion that he doesn't read the comments. We appreciate you Rex, along with all your curmudgeonly charm.

    When I was in Catania twenty years ago, I was walking along the Via Etnae one morning. It was slightly cloudy out. Then a cloud lifted and I suddenly saw looming up ahead, as big as life, Mt. Etna. I gasped. It was one of those moments I will never forget. At night lava was flowing and lit up the night sky.

    I'm definitely in Nancy's camp when it comes to NOISE. The less sharp my eyesight, the more crystal clear my hearing. Every sound is registered at a higher level. My neighbors, god bless them, seem to love watching horror movies each night. They also keep all their windows open. The screams!! It's deafening and frankly depressing. The world is falling apart and all you are into is watching people get slaughtered? I am forced to wear ear plugs most of the time when they are in residence.

    To Frantic Sloth, re the theme from yesterday's competition puzzle. I never saw it. I was doing the puzzles on my little iphone and could barely see the grid, let alone scroll the screen to see the clues while entering in the words. It was very frustrating. But I'm glad I got them all correct. Except the later PLAYOFF. I ran out of time.

    Speaking of which, how do you do a CTRL F on an iPhone?

    Regarding proofreading and copyediting, someone yesterday said that in published works or texts, foreign words are capitalized. I usually see them italicized and it would definitely be part of a proofreader's job to italicize a word or phrase that was inadvertently not italicized, if that is the standard form being used. Does the NYT still have proofreaders? I wish I had a nickel for every time I've found a mistake in the NYT lately. I'd be as rich as LEN, whoever he is.

    Norman Vincent Peale's book helped my mother out at a very difficult time in her life. She wrote him a letter and he wrote back, personally. So I've always given him some slack. Nonsensical I know. But it's hard not to be grateful for small favors.

    I knew a CPA once who handled A COUNT'S ACCOUNTS.

    Oh, and even though I never got into rock, it was hard not to notice Jon Bon Jovi. :)

    oliar 10:49 AM  

    I was so, so certain I'd see the following video after this puzzle, so here is is for everyone else who has it in their heads:

    Pretty girls
    Pretty boys
    Have you ever heard your mother scream
    Noise annoys?


    RooMonster 10:51 AM  

    Hey All !
    Neat word-sound-alikes puz! Haven't seen a BEQ puz in quite a while, so a nice surprise.

    Funniest theme mistake, you ask? (You did ask, right?) I had An iTCHY APACHE! Har. I know the feeling, as when I'm not working (days off, quarantined...) I don't shave. It's been a week, I'm actually past the neck-growth-itchy stage. My full beard is almost back! Debating, though, whether to shave to keep appearances up, but then again, I might ne indoors for months, so what's the use?

    Anyway, ramblings aside, I liked this fun SunPuz. Had a good time sussing out the A-A themers. Also, with this type theme, you don't need a Revealer. Keeping with this weekends tough NW's, again finished up there, as I couldn't seem to get a toehold. Right off the bat at 1A, I put in _A_AS, figuring it would more than likely be the MAMAS or the PAPAS, but then took it out when I eventually got bBCTV. But after getting ACQUIRE A CHOIR (which for me ties the best one with A VOWEL AVOWAL), let me see PIQUE, and realized it could be ABCTV, and filled in PAPAS.

    Was flummoxed, though, at ATTACKS A TAX, which led to my DNF. ARGH again. Could not get the ole brain off TAK or TAC, both of which make no sense. I was like, "What the hell is ATTACKS A TAC?" 75 D was evilly clued, I had TacT for that one. Didn't factor in the S sound of ATTACKS to get to A TAX. Dang it.

    Resisted putting in AUNT EM since it seems to always be AUNTIE EM. Chuckled when I saw the correct TEEHEE, the missing E finally coming home. DENY could've been in the puz a while ago about combined state names.

    Amazingly light on the dreck meter, tough to fill a SunPuz cleanly. Having JONBONJOVI and IVANOV as Downs is nice. BEQ is one of the best at clean. PB1 is up there, too. Is he ever gonna have another NYTXW? Other nice words, REDBEANS, ATEALIVE, CSIMIAMIINSIPID, STUMPER... I could go on, and you'd probably read it, as there's nothing else to do! But I'll stop.

    PIPS could've been clued, "Knight's backups?"

    Three F's (none in themers!)(Which is a good thing! Get those F's out there!) :-)

    Frantic Sloth 10:58 AM  

    @Quasi Congrats on retrieving your MagnumOpusJOpus. (I know - lame.)

    I'm amazed that you did so well in the tourney while on your phone! You must have eagle eyes and android fingers.

    Speaking of android,,,sorry I can offer no help with CTRL+F on an iPhone, as I'm a droider. I imagine you could always do some version of "Find on Page" (which is what I have to do on my iPad) via whatever browser you're using. Tedious but effective.

    I'm sure someone out there has a much more satisfactory answer for you!

    GG 10:58 AM  

    We love you Rex, you're an important part of our lives. We will get through this but oy geyvalt it's a horror show and getting down occasionally is the normal human response.

    Newboy 11:05 AM  

    TEE HEE indeed! I recall staff meetings where the split among English faculty fractured along the acceptable purpose of puns. I always thought them amusing while staid colleagues (LEARNED?) decried the loss of literary loquacious lines, blah, blah & blah. Brendan’s grid no doubt will reflect much about one’s wheelhouse/outhouse. Personally I’m all like A VOWEL AVOWAL, oui oui, yes indeed. Quigley’s A PATCHY APACHE alone makes my enforced “staycationing” barely bearable as I SAT HOME longing for a student conference even if it concerned comma consternation. We all feel Rex’s pain, but brighter days will like BLUECAPs come again.

    Totally enjoyed trying out @Z recommendation of that online puz tournament yesterday. Discovered that I don’t like them...timing sucks, but still interesting 🧐 Also I realized that an onscreen keyboard covers most of the puz making a solve for time on an iPad double dog difficult. Be😷out there.

    astroman 11:21 AM  

    I like BEQ. To think the NYT bought one of his weaker efforts is kind of depressing. DEEDEE/DEY crossing was a killer for me.

    Swagomatic 11:21 AM  

    This was okay, but not up the usual BEQ standard.

    Ann 11:35 AM  

    In these troubled times, I strongly recommend a subscription to the NYT. Mine allows me to access all the puzzle archives, including acrostics going back to 1999. These are really fun and a different kind of challenge. I also enjoy playing the NYT Spelling Bee, yet another way to stretch one’s brain.

    Sydney 11:42 AM  

    Puzzlehoarder asked about ola. No, it shouldn’t have an h. The clue mentioned Rio, so Portuguese, not Spanish.
    I found the puzzle slow-going at first, but ultimately enjoyable. I do not go out much anyway, so social distancing hasn’t been much of an inconvenience. However, I am on tenterhooks waiting to see what Kroger manages to deliver this afternoon: I ordered Wednesday, and Sunday afternoon was the first delivery time available!

    Joe Dipinto 11:53 AM  

    Jon Bon Jovi? Nah. Wouldn't you rather Go crazy for Jim Morrison? (5,1,4).

    Very easy but still Delightful, Delicious, De-Lovely. Theme answers were great. Loved the clue for BEHEAD. Rex, I don't know what you use INSIPID to mean, but in my world it absolutely means "dull".

    Regretful realization made by the singer of "Only Sixteen"? (4,1,4) (Or you could do 4! 1,4)

    And I loved all the music entries, of which I knew there'd be many. He even worked in Anne Klein Nachtmusik!

    Pronunciation twist on this one:
    Agreement on the opening harmony for Beethoven's 7th? (same as above)

    This was a Fun Fun Fun puzzle. Le BEQ always comes up with great theme ideas. Now we have tomorrow to look forward to.

    Teedmn 12:03 PM  

    @Quasi, as @Frantic Sloth mentions, the only method I know for CTRL-F on IOS is "Find on Page". While on the page in question, highlight the URL and when the keyboard shows up, type in what you want to find, for instance, Teedmn. Some suggestions should come up and at the bottom of the list, under On This Page, it should read, "Find "Teedmn". Choose that one and it will go back to the page and highlight the instances where it can be found. Definitely not as convenient as CTRL-F but still handy.

    fiddleneck 12:11 PM  

    I too have my coffee every morning with all of you. I appreciate your wit and comments about computers and I appreciate learning new words, even though they will not be a part of my vocabulary (grok, suss). I have posted questions and maybe a comment or two as Fiddleneck. Mostly I’m a ‘mous. Everything I think of saying has been said. I remember George Barany and Casco and Evil Doug and Quilter, Chef Bea. And some whose language I would recognize, though I’ve forgotten their names. At least two told us they would not be back because of impending death; others went away angry. It seems a good time to come out of my hole and squeak.

    Good luck to you all. Stay safe. Lonnie

    Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 12:17 PM  

    First time in forever I did a Sunday puz in the morning -- I was actually supposed to be providing the music for virtual church on facebook live until late last afternoon when my minister called to say that his wife and son had all the symptoms of the virus, and he was not supposed to leave his home, so the virtual service would be done there, solo. Not an official quarantine because they cannot get tested yet, they can't prove they had contact with anybody else who tested positive (since nobody else can get tests either....) Anyhow, pretty good puzzle. I had two quibbles. 34D. The Clue. Suffers (from). Answer AILS. Does anybody ever say AILS from? I have not heard it. Ither quibble, church-related: 25 A. Sticks in a church, answer INCENSE. In my experience the INCENSE they use in church doesn't come in sticks, it comes loose, or very occasionallyi in cones.

    By the way, you do all know the story of the time somebody brought Tallulah Bankhead to a high church Episcopal church service. The priest proceeded down the aisle swinging his censor, and Tallulah, in her best stage whisper, remarked 'Nice dress, but did you know your purse was on fire?'

    Joe Dipinto 12:26 PM  

    One more (a non-musical one):

    "What's on the slate for your upcoming meeting with LGBT community leaders?" Bernie Sanders was asked. "It's _________________," he replied. (1,6,6) (Say it with a New York accent.)

    Malsdemare 12:27 PM  

    Wow! I swept through this in about half my usual time. The theme hit me early and made all the difference in the world in moving me along. I had Bobo huTT before FETT and I completely misspelled ARIVALSARRIVAL so that STREET was completely hidden for a bit. But even with those slowdowns, I got this too quickly.

    I've got to agree with Rex about figuring out how to survive this period. Scott Kelley has a great piece in the NYT today about how he survived a year in space and that inspired me to think of lots of ways to fill my time beyond genealogy and crosswords. So I've dug out the clarinet, resurrected my language tapes (French, German) and made a list of how I'll occupy the next two-three months (Illinois has issued a shelter in place order). At a time when the world is rocketing out of control, it’s reassuring to me to have a plan in place.

    Thanks BEQ. Now to read what ya'll have to say.

    sixtyni yogini 12:33 PM  

    Hear ya, Rex. Difficult times.
    Thought-it-was-going-to-be-difficult 🧩
    Ok. Just ok. A bit of meh.
    We will get through this...the difficulties not the 🧩s Keep the latter coming good bad or meh.

    The Joker 12:46 PM  

    A lot of you probably already know about the horny choir director who chased the young handsome preacher around the church and finally caught him by the organ.

    Malsdemare 12:48 PM  

    @greater fall . . . Too funny! I remember Tallulah even though she was an antique even when I was young. Such a great voice.

    Ya'll are in great firm this am. Thanks for the lift.

    bagelboy 12:49 PM  

    Anyone else write in ADAMLEVINE? He fits also and has the same number of letters. I did the whole rest of the puzzle before coming back to that corner I was so sure.

    In November 2013, Levine was named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive, becoming the first singer and the second non-actor (after John F. Kennedy, Jr.) to claim the title.

    QuasiMojo 12:59 PM  

    Thank you Teedmn, Frantic and others. I'll try that out.

    @Joe DiPinto, nice going. I got most of them but not the Only 16 one. I don't know that song.

    Amd Roo I had the same write-overs! Plus it's always "Auntie Em" to me.

    Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

    The themers really really helped with the solvequest, at our house. Couldn't make decent progress in the NW, but after I got ANOISEANNOYS off to the east, then the ACQUIREACHOIR themer popped out easily, and then one thing led to another and that NW weren't even ABOUT A BOUT, anymore.

    Always enjoy the BEQ puzs, includin this one. SLIMJIM & PENTODE. har

    My dimes all have torches and some sorta plants on the back of em. ACORN?!? Confuses the M&A.

    staff weeject pick: ENE. Ultra-frisky Spanish lingo clue.

    fave themer: APATCHYAPACHE. Reminds m&e of Bill the tour guide, at Glacier National Park. He would point out there was Apache Snow in them thar hills, up above us. A tourist would always bite, and ask what Apache Snow was. Bill would proudly explain "A patch of snow here, and a patch of snow thar".

    Thanx for the fun, Mr. BEQ.

    Masked & Anonymo9Us

    @r.alph [our hero] has fixed the *gruntz* device:

    Anonymous 1:03 PM  

    @The Joker

    What's better than roses on a piano?

    Tulips on an organ.

    thfenn 1:04 PM  

    Took me a little longer than most of you, but I had fun getting through it with only the occasional search to confirm what I couldn't quite articulate.

    Rex, I guess I'm not close enough to even know whether you're Rex or Michael, but just wanted to say I appreciated your write up and the sentiments you expressed today. To all of you, I don't often have a lot to say, but I like being here. Thanks for the daily dive into a conversation that's always intriguing. Hope you and yours all stay safe and well.

    Ethan Taliesin 1:06 PM  

    Not fun for me.

    Kinda cool to see DEEDEE in the grid (I guess), but other than that I thought it was super dull.

    thefogman 1:06 PM  

    Call out a shot? Announce an ounce.

    Nancy from Chicago 1:13 PM  

    Almost naticked at PENTODE crossed with LEN - luckily the "five" in the clue helped me guess the right vowel.

    Liked the puzzle but did fine it a bit too easy - the gimmick (once gotten) made the themers really obvious. I agree with LMS on the great clue for AVOWEL AVOWAL though.

    I also agree with everyone saying how great it is to have this blog to come to every day. I don't always post but I always read your comments and I feel like I know some of you. I hope we will all come out of this safely soon.

    thefogman 1:15 PM  

    Shorten a crossing? Abridge a bridge.

    egsforbreakfast 1:19 PM  

    One way to remove intertwined hair?
    Claim that there is a shelf?

    Abrade a braid
    Allege a ledge

    CDilly52 1:21 PM  

    Surprisingly easy for a BEQ! I did not look to see who constructed this morning until after I was finished. This certainly didn’t feel like Mr. Q’s usual creative and difficult word play but was absolutely Sunday worthy, especially A PATCHY APACHE. Gave me a good chuckle. Even with the tougher spots we had fair crosses and I was done before I finished one cup of coffee. And I learned a new word: PENTODE. Quite the contrast from yesterday that nearly did me in!

    August 20, 1986. School had just started and my second grade daughter was so happy to be back with all her friends. I cannot hear any reference to that day at the Edmond OK post office without remembering that classroom full of children whose friend lost his father that day, and how that event caused all of those children to have to try to understand something so senseless and horrible. Any time I have to use a form of the phrase about that day, I recall that classroom of children, all of whom sat together at the funeral for the father of their sweet friend. To honor the families and postal workers, all the Edmond mail boxes spotted yellow ribbons for quite some time. Each year, many still do, and no matter where she is, my daughter wears something yellow.

    Until tomorrow.

    Jim 1:23 PM  


    Thanks for continuing to give us some joy each day in reading your blog. My wife and I have been going into the weekend archives to stay centered during our weekdays and we've been reading your old postings as well. Stay safe and stay healthy and again many thanks for being a part of an important virtual community - Jim and Linda

    Teedmn 1:24 PM  

    @M&A, your comment inspired me to grab a dime and put it under my iPad's amazingly strong magnifying "glass". It appears that the plant on the right is an oak branch and there is a tiny acorn hanging off the bottom twig. What kind of plant is on the left, I have no idea but it too appears to have some sort of seed or fruit. Who knew? A numismatist, I presume.

    Joe Dipinto 1:33 PM  

    @Quasi – the "Only Sixteen" one is admittedly flimsy. It doesn't quite work as well as the others.

    (Also, my bad, I meant to delete that "(same as above)" after the third one. Ignore it, it's meaningless.)

    What? 1:43 PM  

    Pretty easy for a BEQ but fun - except for NE corner. Had some sort of neuron block, don’t know why, happens on occasion, probably because of advanced age.
    Speaking of which, I am in the most at risk category for a disease which shall not be named. This is one way of getting it out of our heads (joke). (Reminds me of a scene in Fleabag. Waller Hyphen is jogging toward the camera from a distance. When she gets near the camera, she stops, panting, and says to the camera, “Jogging”. End of scene. I still laugh when I think of this, don’t know why).

    As do all of you, I get pleasure from doing crosswords. No need to get into why, we just do. Shortz claims he gets over 100 submissions a week. Would it be too much for him to publish more than one a day? Will will do it? Or will he come up Shortz?

    pabloinnh 1:46 PM  

    There's an interesting piece in the online iteration of The Atlantic called "The Hidden Bigotry of Crosswords" by Natan Last. Expands on any of the points made often by OFL, and worth a read.

    egsforbreakfast 2:06 PM  

    Not sure that this one really works.

    Abrasive cleanser for a car lifter?

    A jack’s Ajax

    albatross shell 2:09 PM  

    Well, since DELTA showed up again today I will re-gift my post from yesterday.
    Designing woman gave some cast members a hand?


    I enjoyed clue for BEHEAD, but refused to put it in until all the crosses fit. Too gruesome for grey ladies? I mean what do you hack off next?

    APPALL A PAUL. The lone A is perfectly accurate to me. McCartney is a Paul.

    Thanks to all for all the clever echoed phrases.

    And curses @Z for that great video performance of SoS. After watching that I was reading the comments in the rhythm of that song. Just start with the post below his. It's a wonder how well it works. Probably start anywhere.

    I also thought 75D should have been reclued for current events: Reach out safely with one's hands.

    Themers: 4, 2 words 1 word. 3, 1 word 2 words.

    Query for the puzzle: are two heads better than one? Of course one head is taken away.

    Bill 2:18 PM  

    Getting joy from tearing apart bad puzzles is so sad.

    JC66 2:25 PM  

    Hand up for loving this blog.

    Reaction to having something fly up your nose while eating:

    A chew achoo.

    Z 2:34 PM  

    @Quasi - After trying the test puzzle on my iPad, I did the tournament on my laptop. I cannot imagine doing it on an iPhone.

    @Newboy - I’m fairly indifferent to the racing to finish component, mostly I know I’m just competing with myself. But put that clock there and keep rankings and it’s hard not to react at least a little. That one letter DNF on puzzle 3 bugged me more than a month of hour long solves of the Saturday Stumper. Still, I had fun. Now I’m just trying to let enough time elapse so I have mostly forgotten the final and can give a go at the hard clues.

    @Greater Falls - I tend to think of “AILS from” as either quaintly old fashioned or, when used now, as part of an insult. For instance, “He AILS from a strong aversion to the truth.”

    @Teedmn - You can’t go leaving us hanging like that. It is an olive branch, torch, and oak branch.

    tea73 2:54 PM  

    Loved the word play! Not a clue for PENTODE, but gettable from the crosses. Apparently my husband's grad students thought JON BON JOVI was a cutie pie. I preferred the bad boy type.

    I wish there were a way to see all of Loren Muse Smith's collection of avatars, or should I say PERSONA(e)? Today's was brilliant.

    I'm a gardener so I knew cornflowers were BLUE, but never heard of the rest of that answer.

    Unknown 2:54 PM  

    Tough northeast corner! I enjoyed the challenge. Particularly enjoyed your words, Rex, about the role crosswords have in our daily lives. I just retired on friday and see that all of the things i was looking forward to doing cant be done or even planned. Crosswords are becoming much more an anchor in my day. Reading your remarks reminds me again that we are all in this together!

    Anonymous 3:03 PM  

    Ii laughed when I saw teehee! I knew you'd say something, Rex! And I don't like a Paul any more than you, either. Must have been the last one he did.

    webwinger 4:07 PM  

    Really enjoying the many takes on today’s theme by the commentariat. Not at all something I have talent for myself. I do, however, have what I think is a really good idea for a US geography-based weekday theme. Looking for a somewhat seasoned constructor to buddy with. Only one similar effort in my life before: a double-crostic done with a friend that was turned down by Will Weng in the early 1980s.

    Solving experience today highlighted an issue that has been the subject of some recent debate here: Finished and got the “you’re close” message from the app. Scanned the grid and detected no obvious errors. Decided the most likely trouble spot was crossing of 47A (had filled in JAm for Chatter—not a totally bad guess, I’d say) and 49D (no idea; mYLE didn’t feel entirely wrong). Tried G, no go, then realized it had to be JAW—tada! No way I would let this end my longest ever by far streak, and felt no shame.

    Frantic Sloth 4:07 PM  

    These are really a stretch, but I can't help myself!

    Wish the deli counter worker would just put the meat on the scale already (5,1,6)

    You go ahead and erase that dock. I'm gonna make _ _ _(1,4,6)

    A motley crew? (1,6,8)

    She's _ _ _ (1,7,8) and provides legal aid for some competitors.

    Await a weight
    A pier appear
    A sordid assorted
    A tourney attorney

    I'll stop now.

    Photomatte 4:12 PM  

    Great puzzle today, even though the constructor and Mr Shortz missed an error. The clue for 33D is 'Sch. whose mascot is Brutus Buckeye.' As every nitwit alum from that school always says, it's THE Ohio State University. Therefore, the answer should be TOSU (as opposed to OSU). I mean, if the alum always stress the THE, it needs to be part of the school's acronym, right? Other than that, it was pretty good (although I've spent 20 years running a wholesale plant nursery and have never, ever, heard a strawflower referred to as a Bluecap).

    bertoray 4:37 PM  

    @LMS Anus Horribilis hah! Unimpressive brain size.

    Barbara S. 4:46 PM  

    Hate a dullard -- ABHOR A BORE

    Clap for a long walk -- APPLAUD A PLOD

    Go mad at "Friends and Family Day" -- ASSAIL A SALE

    It's really hard to stop once you've got started.

    JC66 5:56 PM  

    I'm waiting for the press conference to start and these come to mind:

    Hire people to make a film -- Accrue a crew

    Sort pots and pans on a stove -- Arrange a range

    Resew a ripped pair of pants -- Amend a mend

    Stay in the space craft -- Avoid a void

    Z 6:00 PM  

    @JC66 - I suggest “Stet” as the go to xword clue for Amend A Mend.

    webwinger 6:02 PM  

    @Nancy 9:43: Amen to both of your surprising relevancy finds (115A and 84D). Another was MILANESE. Even some of the stories from Italy now ring with hope, however. We will get through this...

    Also feel your pain about NOISE, mainly because my wife at nearly age 70 also has the ears of a youngster—she can hear me breathing in the living room from the upstairs bedroom. Me, I would probably not notice a car crash on the street in front of our house if I wasn’t looking.

    albatross shell 6:03 PM  

    Average grade for observed sailing skills. 6 letters.

    You may shake your head or just say no. (Would raise Rex's ire)

    amyyanni 6:04 PM  

    With you Rex. At least you have a governor who is working for you. Florida is still not shut down. We're in the top 7 or 8 of cases, not testing enough, but yep, we're open for business. I'm not going in tomorrow (I am so nonessential) but I can afford that. Many cannot.
    So loved this puzzle! Opened my mind to the elasticity of words. So wonderful!

    JC66 6:08 PM  


    Yeah, STET is much better.

    Anonymous 6:10 PM  

    "And as we know, the NYTXW hasn't ..etc. Actually, I didn't know. As with Thursday's "some of you might like this puzzle .." I appreciate you training us to approach The NYTXW with the same jealousy and rage you possess.

    Joe Dipinto 7:55 PM  

    Mine were:
    1) Adore a door
    (also thought of by LMS and Lewis, I see)
    2) Alas! A lass; or A lass—alas!
    3) A-chord accord
    4) A genduh (gender) agenda

    CDilly52 8:09 PM  

    @Photomatte 4:12 pm. Thank you. I refrained from the correction but as a devout Buckeye,now transplanted to the land where they glorify being cheaters, (“Boomer Sooner-ugh!) I adore that little practice of including the “THE,” as it defines us. Possibly as snobs but so be it.

    Unknown 8:09 PM  


    Jkol 8:11 PM  

    I remember that tragic event

    CDilly52 8:14 PM  

    Thank you all! Crosswords continue to ground me, and your commentary and wit give me some escape and true enjoyment, and I need that badly. Unfortunately, as legal counsel to all departments of county government, I am officially part of the “continuity of government” team in the event of local disaster. Please everyone, heed the cautions and stay home as much as you can. Share with your neighbors, and keep calm. Peace to you all.

    albatross shell 8:14 PM  

    @me 603pm
    Too late and too easy and who cares by now, but
    A C ASEA
    Shortest One? Does use of asea proper?

    No lonesome A here Rex irked.

    Anonymous 8:37 PM  

    PETER and Gordon were a folk-rock group. Mamas and PAPAS were just mushy rock.

    if you've been a webbie long enough, you know, the beginning, then you know that the Apache webserver was nearly the first, and still widely used. of course, it got its name because it was 'a patchy server', meaning it had been cobbled together from various discarded and spare parts.

    Monty Boy 9:00 PM  

    About ANNOYSANOISE: I have a hearing loss and have hearing aids. Mine amplify all the sound, noise especially, which can be really annoying. Another thing: hearing aids in my experience make sound louder, but not clearer. I hear thing others don't. For example, my wife came in while I was working at my desk and asked if I had seen her light saber. I didn't know she was a Jedi Knight. I don't remember what she was looking for, but I heard Light Saber.

    Nancy 9:03 PM  

    @webwinger (6:02)-- I'm sure 'd hear you breathing in the LR from the BR, too. But what about closing the BR door? Surely that would work, wouldn't it?

    Also, while a white noise machine doesn't work for either loud sounds or percussive sounds, it should work for breathing. Not snoring, mind you, but breathing.

    Anonymous 9:29 PM  

    @amyyanni- At least he didn’t check into rehab after being found passed out in a hotel room with crystal meth and an escort. You guys really dodged a bullet there.

    Anonymous 9:41 PM  

    Realize Jason last week called this a "fake" virus, and now more nonsense this week! How pathetic a human being must you be to post political rants on a crossword blog! Apparently very!

    lorraine persing 12:40 AM  

    My first time to leave a comment. Enjoy reading yours each week. This ninetytwo-year-old lady first started solving NYT Sunday crosswords while at school at the University of Kansas, have continued intermittently ever since. I almost always finish them correctly, but my times must surely trail yours by many minutes. I have learned so much from your comments and have learned to appreciate an elegant construction

    Today's puzzle was fun. Northeast corner was hardest for me--never heard of a slimjim so I learned something new!

    May you all be safe.

    Lorraine in Green Bay

    Patricia Markert 9:11 AM  

    Dear Rex,

    Thank you for posting that Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers video. It cheered me up like nothing else has. Your faithful reader.


    Unknown 6:37 PM  

    Hi Rex,
    I think we are all a little tense now in the US and the world. Thanks for voicing it out loud and making it okay for all of to feel the same . Keep up the good words on puzzles etc and we will all try to do the same.

    Barbara 8:54 PM  

    Cyrus Vance Jr, NY District Attorney, is the son of Cyrus Vance, who was a diplomat

    Barbara 9:10 PM  

    Forgot to add: Cyrus Vance Senior was not just a diplomat, he was Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State and Deputy Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson

    Molly 11:19 PM  

    Greetings, Rex, from a small island near Seattle where it is very quiet.

    Jason 1:49 AM  

    Rex claims that he doesn't read the comments, but the "Anonymous" replies are very Rex-esque.

    L. Lynch 11:57 AM  

    Thanks for being Rex. We all need some normalcy. Stay safe.

    rondo 12:50 PM  

    It is now proven that @Z does not know it all (like he thinks he does). As @teedmn mentioned, the University of MN is ON the Mississippi - both banks in fact! St. Cloud State is on the river, too. And that's just 2 in MN (that I went to). I'm not checking for more. The U of MN actually has a hydraulics research lab on the Mississippi near where the I-35W bridge collapsed.

    Susan DEY. Yeah baby.

    MEETS BEQ expectations IDSAY.

    rondo 12:52 PM  

    BTW very caring nurse = a tender attender

    Burma Shave 1:23 PM  


    and APPALLAPAUL, or ABRAHAM's boys,

    --- LARS ADLER

    LDN SEATTLE 1:30 PM  

    I await the Sunday puzzle every week, and look forward to being challenged. This was too easy and boring over all. The themes were too easy and filled in large swathes quickly.

    spacecraft 1:35 PM  

    I brought my A game...Mr.Q. did not. This is an INSIPID theme surrounded by a curious mix of AP's (ITAN was actually my starting point!), obsolete PPPs, and gimme-level clues. Abbrs. abound. Aimee MANN (my mom's maiden surname) is DOD.

    We in Syndiland are two weeks farther into this pandemic than OFC at the above writing. It is depressing, to be sure, but we will endure. Because? Note the pronoun: WE. That's the key: we're all in this together. Stay safe and God bless.

    rainforest 1:58 PM  

    So, Rex doesn't read the comments. Well, I don't read Rex, so we're even.

    I thought this was a good Sunday puzzle: not a slog, clever themers, good non-themed
    fill and several tricky clues, lots of interesting clue/answer pairs. The LSU/LARS cross was a tad knotty, but the only other choice was an "M" and LARS just made sense.

    Hang in there people. It's going to be a grind.

    Nelsa27 3:21 PM  

    REM = Radiation Equivalent Man, a measure of absorbed radiation dose. I covered accident-prone nuclear weapons plants at Hanford (Washington state) for years, so this is a familiar term to me. Also rads and sieverts......

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