Small three-legged table / SUN 3-15-20 / Stuffed deep-fried rice balls in Italian cuisine / Cheat informally / Trattoria dumplings / Tilted arc sculptor Richard

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Constructor: Nancy Stark and Will Nediger 

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (11:28)

THEME: spooneristic phrases — four-word (or four-part) phrases where last two parts sound like the first two parts, but with the initial sounds reversed:

Theme answers:
  • ALL HAIL HALL ALE (23A: Cheer for beer on campus?)
  • BOO BLURRED BLUEBIRD (38A: Hoot at an out-of-focus nature photograph?)
  • SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE (54A: Antsy feeling when one is out of cellphone range?)
  • STEVEDORE DIVA STORE (78A: Where a demanding dockworker gets supplies?)
  • DUTCH TOWN TOUCHDOWN (94A: Landing in Rotterdam?)
  • B CHORD KEYBOARD (114A: Piano that plays only a certain three notes?)
Word of the Day: TEAPOY (46A: Small three-legged table) —

1a 3-legged ornamental stand

2[influenced by tea] a stand or table containing a tea chest or caddy and used for supporting a tea set also TEA CADDY (merriam-webster)
• • •

This was awful. Let's talk about why. I want to start with the title, which is atrocious on many levels. The first level is: it provides no help. None. Tells you nothing. The "wordplay" (a generous term for what's going on here) is not at all evident, so one is forced to take the words "Gets Low" literally, and perhaps go looking for something ... low? Lowered? Will something be lowered? Will we hear cows lowing? Is this a MOO rebus? Who can say? Worse (and this is the next level of bad), once you're done with the puzzle, or perhaps part way through the puzzle, you will realize that "Gets Low" is supposed to be a spoonerized "Let's Go," and you will be irate for many reasons, but above all you will be irate (if you have any sense) at the fact that the phrase is, in fact, "Ready, Set, Go," not (not) "Ready, Set ... Let's Go!" (!?!?!?!?!). The fact that you tried to get all cute in your title with a phrase that is not even a real phrase—terrible. A breach of contract. Please please hit your mark with the title. It's the bare minimum. You can have a boring title, but to have a stupidly confusing title based on wordplay that doesn't exist ... no. Not acceptable.

More: the spoonerized phrases are just ... random. There's no coherence here. Nothing holding it together. No oomph. Just nonsense phrases, which are made worse by not even being plausible nonsense. What is a "DIVA STORE"? Why oh why is there a "SO" in SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE. Is that ... am I supposed to imagine that is thinking / saying "I am SO NERVOUS that I will have NO SERVICE?!?" The "SO" is doing ... what here? Is it supposed to mean "Very"? The Entire Phrase Is Garbage. The fact that the themers are unfunny nonsense phrases also makes the puzzle hard, which ... let me tell you, bad is one thing, difficult-bad is so much worse. At least let me get through your badness quickly. I audibly yell-groaned in the middle of this one; that's how frustrating it was to solve it (this happened somewhere in the NE, where CHIEFDOM (!?!?!) was, and HOORAH (22A: "Yay!") was not HOORAY, and where [Name tag holders] were LANYARDS and not somethingsomethingCARDS, and where (my bad) I forgot the word ARANCINI (which is about the only thing interesting about today's puzzle), and where, finally, I had to endure a cutesy "?" clue for ... COMA!?!?! You really wanna give COMA the ELOPE treatment, i.e. the punny question-mark clue!? "Get it, [Time out?] ... it's funny! ... 'cause he's in a COMA!" Hilarious. Between the woofy theme and this clue and then the clue on ICU (5A: Place for an oxygen tent, for short), this puzzle was the Opposite of what I needed during this time of quarantine.

EUCHRE = [Cheat, informally]? "Informally"? Man, this was news to me. The "informally" is so so annoying because it kinda implies slang, which kinda implies it's a term people actually say, which EUCHRE (as a verb) ... is not. I am aware of the existence of the card game, but the verb ... no way. And holy moly TEAPOY!?!?! I put that "P" in and was like "er ... uh ... I ... I guess." And it was right! But I really wanted it to be TEABOY. I figure if a "highboy" can be a piece of furniture, so can a TEABOY. I struggled all over with this one, but not in a way that would be fun to recount. Biggest error was LONE next to DIAL instead of SOLE (8D: Exclusive) next to CALL (9D: Phone). That hurt. OVERLY for EVERSO also hurt a little (64D: Exceedingly). But very few things about this puzzle didn't hurt. I'm gonna stop now. What the world needs now is crosswords, fun crosswords. It's the only thing that there's just ... too little of. Peace and love to all of you in this terrible time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Krytykal 12:05 AM  

Couldn't disagree more. Loved it.

Brian 12:13 AM  

And DELGADO and RAMON crossing TEAPOY — Oy

webwinger 12:14 AM  

Initial disclosure: As is my wont, I checked the constructor before starting, and when I saw @Nancy and Will N. there, whose COLLABs have GELed so beautifully in the past, I started out thinking, this is going to be fun! And boy, was I EVER SO right about that. Nonstop great wordplay from beginning to end. Clever clues way too numerous to tally. Themers (I guess you’d call them spoonerisms?) all good, several LOL funny. First caught on at DUTCH TOWN TOUCHDOWN, one of the best, and then got real help with the rest of the solve from the others. Title had me baffled until the very end—and then a satisfying final AHA.

Not surprisingly, heavy on arts and literature, light on sports (not even a reference to football in the clue for above-mentioned theme answer) and recent pop culture. Nevertheless, what nearly sank me was DELGADO. Had most of the letters, but have rarely watched the TV show (though liked it when I did), no idea re crossing TEAPOY and couldn’t make sense of the clue for GAG (I’m guessing now it refers to a comic strip?) So I resorted to the mildest form of “cheating”—asked my daughter, who knew instantly. (Tell me, O Nancy, if that was OK?) Did once again manage to avoid Google, which could have helped at least A WEE BIT. Finished in just under a hour. It felt like a workout, but never a slog. Big thanks, N&W, for a great Sunday puzzle!

Final disclosure: As is not my wont, I wrote this before reading @Rex. If he somehow fails to appreciate, I will Hoot/BOO and feel IRE...

jae 12:16 AM  

On the tough side.

I am of an age where, given the current state of affairs, it is prudent to stick close to home. I believe it’s safe to assume that many of you are in the same boat. So, if you are looking for ways to occupy your time, there are a number of under the radar TV comedies that can be binge watched if you have streaming available. I’ll try to mention a couple a day for the next week or so.

The first two are on Amazon Prime:

“Catastrophe” (oddly appropriate) is a 1/2 hour Brit-Com that ran for 4 seasons. IMHO it’s much funnier than “Fleabag” which got a lot more attention.

“Good Omens” is a 6 episode series about the end of times (again, oddly appropriate) based on a book by Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman. It stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen and it is very funny.

Ernonymous 12:21 AM  

ARANCINI was a gimme, but then I took it out because I thought the nonsense phrase was: BOO BLURRY BLUE BERRY. I mean why not? Blueberry is a nature photo.
I did like that ARANCINI, GNOCCHI, HUEVO, BATEAU, RENOIR, NOIRE,ITALO Calvino were in the puzzle. Italian words, foreign language and Art clues are my wheelhouse. Also Brando and Armani. VIVA ITALIA! FORZA AZZURRI! GRAZIE ROMA!

Pete 12:46 AM  

On the subject of things that don't suck, one of my dogs is so cute that people come into stores asking who owns the dog in the parking lot. Then I let them pet him, and they realize he's nicer than he is cute. That at least doesn't suck.

Swagomatic 1:26 AM  

meh kinda not even worth complaining about.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

I expected spoonerizing from the "Get's low" title, but took a long time figuring out the first theme answer nevertheless.

I did wonder what NYT-appropriate answer would begin with BOOB...

Amusing to hear that LE BATEAU hung upside down without being noticed. Not as if it was a Pollock painting.

Rex doesn't seem to have noticed that it's not a DIVA STORE; it's a STEVEDORE DIVA.

I mentally predicted that Rex would flip over COMA.

Isn't the usual word for CHIEFDOM "tribe?"

GHarris 2:01 AM  

The dynamics of blogger relationships is strange indeed. When I saw that today’s puzzle, a Sunday edition no less, was constructed by our own Nancy I felt a sense of pride. And, Rex be damned, what a wonderful puzzle it is l I had to struggle at times, particularly with what has been Nancy’s own bugaboo, names of parties I never heard of, I pressed on and the beauty of the puzzle was I was enabled to find those unknowable names. And, in deference to Nancy, I did it without a single cheat. So my now extends to my own achievement. Brava Nancy and thanks.

John Child 2:22 AM  

If you’re going to go whacky, go all the way. Everyone of these was ready as a stock. HOORAH @Nancy and Mr Nediger! Dell won.

chefwen 2:36 AM  

I’m with @jae, tough one. Nancy you kicked my butt. Enjoyed it, but phew, was happy when I was done. I do believe I broke a sweat.

I used to work for a company called BLUEBIRD SYSTEMS, so 38A was kind of fun. Great company that took me and puzzle partner on an amazing trip to Ireland as a reward for a job well done.

Fun puzzle that left me slightly dizzy.

JOHN X 2:53 AM  

Ha ha Rex you need to get laid or something. This was a pretty cool puzzle!

I had to work at this one, and I liked trying to figure out the theme, because at first I was like what the heck but then I started to get it and I liked it more and more. Nothing was easy here and JOHN X likes a challenge. My problem is that I’m simply too good at this. That’s why I’m banned from all the tournaments.

Hey have heard of that Corona virus? Isn’t that wild? I thought I saw a Corona virus on the floor and the HazMat team came in giant suits and it turned out to be just a crumpled-up Post-It note. I just made that up. I’m actually still really hammered but it’s the least I can do in this time of crisis. Try re-reading this paragraph in a Bob Hope voice.

Speaking of sports, why did some leagues cancel their seasons, yet other leagues continue their seasons with no spectators? That makes no sense. I say keep all the leagues going, admit 250 spectators to each game and have everybody sit 100 feet apart. Each person can bring their own beer in too.

And another thing. . . I went to the grocery store today (to buy liquor) and the shelves were comically empty of pasta and toilet paper. The freakin’ toilet paper was sold out. Yet, one aisle over, in the diaper section, the shelves were full of the vastly superior baby wipes, in all shapes and forms. Toilet paper is one step above newsprint; baby wipes are one step below a bidet.

It’s a beautiful new morning so you know what that means? Vodka!

Nancy 5:41 AM  

When I woke up at 4:53 and wasn't back asleep by 5:07, I came here to see what Rex had wrought. (The other blogs were up quite early yesterday evening. They're pretty good.) And the comments of y'all so far are lovely, as always.

Sorry about the proper names. Will N. knows I don't like them, but constructing a puzzle with four 18-letter answers and two fourteen letter answers does necessitate some compromises. I asked Will to clue all the names I never heard of. Then, yesterday, when I went to see if I could solve my own puzzle -- without looking at the themers, which by the way, were the only clue/answers I could actually remember -- I almost Naticked on some of them and did indeed have to use the theme answers. I had, for example, asked Will to clue DENCH because all my ideas were too easy. So he came up with a clue that's so, so hard that I didn't even get DENCH without crosses. Anyway, sorry about those names, everyone. I feel your pain, truly I do.

To those of you who know how to cut and paste your comment, I ask a favor. Rex's [highly predictable] rant, which I only skimmed, btw, makes this something I'm certainly not going to send to my family, so if you have something nice to say about the puzzle, can you post it here, but also cut and paste it over on the Wordplay Blog? I've already sent my family the Jeff Chen link. At the end of today, I'll also send them the Wordplay link. I appreciate your taking the time and trouble, and thanks in advance.

Now let's see if I can go back to sleep. Probably not, but I'll try...

Anonymous 5:47 AM  

Definitely thought this was better than your average Sunday. I enjoyed the oddball spoonerisms. I felt like the puzzle was finicky in a few places (TEAPOY also made me wince, as did the clue on COMA), but all in all, I thought it was pretty good.

Anonymous 5:49 AM  

Wow, the rant from OFL. But as with wine, I am not particularly discerning and so enjoyed this, although I have to agree about the theme - "Ready, Set... Let's Go" didn't do it for me, but hey! This challenged me, especially the NE corner. (Always have to make that pesky decision about "Hoorah", "Hooray", "Hurrah", etc.) Also, I got hung up with "Ann Curry / Ann Rice" for a while before realizing the other "Curry/Rice."

I have a 1972 Topps Willie Mays baseball card in OK condition, say hey.

Still managed in under one hour, which by my previous life standards is good.

We should embrace our own, so congrats on the puzzle, @Nancy!


Jason 6:01 AM  

Hey, you all remember when H1N1 killed 1,000 people in the first six months of it's arrival in the US and Obama didn't do jack squat about it, the media didn't say a damn word about his complete incompetence, and no parades or sporting events were cancelled, and we weren't rioting over toilet paper?

Good times!!
Had to vent over this hoax of a crisis.
Loved the puzzle!!

Lewis 6:25 AM  

@johnchild: "Ready as a stock" -- Hah! Good one!

This wordplay playground was terrific fun, a marrel of bonkeys, well, actually, a trove of bonkers that had me scampering to figure out the remaining theme answers with as little filled in as possible, after getting the first. This -- figuring out unknown theme answers -- to me, is one of the most fun parts of crosswords, when it presents itself, and the silliness of today's answers added to the fun. A lot more fun than "She sells seashells". I didn't want it to end, and was sad when it did.

@Nancy's voice rang clear to me in the cluing, and I'm sure most of it was hers. There is so much wordplay in her blog comments and poems, and here it was in clues such as [Put down in print] for LIBEL, [They've got talent] for AGENTS, and [Cloth that may get a lot of tears] for HANKIE. There were also excellent tricky vague clues and misdirects.

This one had me going "Whee!" all over the place. Thank you, Nancy and Will, for this virtual playground. I had a blast.

sf27shirley 6:43 AM  

I initially entered "boo blurry blue booby"

Rique Beleza 7:07 AM  

Huevo is Spanish, Bateau, Renoir and Noire are French. You give the Italians too much credit...

Lauri del Commune 7:48 AM  

Seconding Rex 100%!!

pabloinnh 7:50 AM  

Hey @JohnX--do us all a favor and get OFL to go off on some sort of sex-drenched drunken adventure with you ASAP, OK? What's the male equivalent of a Debbie Downer? Rex is moving dangerously close to the realm of self parody. Maybe Rex Porker has invaded his office. I mean, really.

FWIW, Nancy and Will, I had a lot of fun with this one and learned the word TEAPOY, which I will assuredly never use again. No idea who Sr. DELGADO might be, but it's at least a common Spanish last name (and adjective-"skinny"). And RAMON had to be right, so Spanish to the rescue in this last sticky section. I vote for BCHORDKEYBOARD, just because BCHO is not a letter combination you see every day. And spoonerisms don't have to make perfect sense to me as long as they're somewhat plausible, as today's were.

Thanks for a fun Sunday, or a sun Funday. Well done you.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Gel? As a verb? Nonsense. It’s jell. I know some sources will say they it’s standard, but I think they’re wrong. Gel is sticky stuff you put in your unruly hair.

Joaquin 8:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Liked STYX placed in the lower right corner, where Charon and Styx usually appear in Last Judgment paintings.

mmorgan 8:12 AM  

Yay @Nancy! I thought the themers were clever and fun. Boo Rex!

pmdm 8:24 AM  

"[The puzzle title] tells you nothing." So I thought after I finished solving. Now that I've had the theme explained to me, I know the complaint is invalid.

While solving, I thought the theme was simply a double two-word entry, with both word in the first part having respective rhymes in the second part. That was clue enough for me to solve the puzzle (with a little reference help with the PPP.

For me, the Sunday puzzle titles either make the theme easily obvious, or the theme is extremely difficult to reason out. Sometimes,like today, impossible for me to get. (At least, in the time I'm willing to spend.) Sometimes grasping the connection provides me with a satisfying AHA moment. Today, I merely felt inadequate.

That said, I approve of the theme's concept. I just wanted to find the entries more humorous than I did.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

@Nancy I absolutely loved your puzzle! (Rex is crazy, but we all know that). Got the theme immediately from the title (my Dad was an educated non-native English speaker who lived spoonerisms and all kinds of wordplay, so my mind goes there fast). STEVEDORE DIVASTORE my fave of your themers. Thought the fill was fun, too! The whole thing was just right, perfect amount of resistance, plenty of smiles, totally enjoyable. Also I'm proud that Rex thought it was medium-challenging and I finished it (been doing nytxword since college in the 70s with erudite bf who could also do cryptics, which I cannot). You're an inspiration! I may have to get one of those blue names. Thank you! Lisa

Conrad 8:32 AM  

I had HOORAY, then HOORAH, then BOOYAH, then BOORAH, then BOOWAH and then DNF. I never went back to HOORAH because I'd already rejected it. Stupid brain.

@Jason: here are some facts about the H1N1 epidemic vs. the novel coronavirus pandemic:

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

Second the reco for Good Omens! Loved it so much I read NG's book...and kept picturing Tennant, Sheen, Hamm in their roles. Lisa

JJ 8:37 AM  

Where’s the fun if you don’t have to struggle? Lots of fun wordplay, and who gets upset because the word COMA appears as an answer?
Thanks Nancy and Will for making that wait til 10pm worth it.
I remember when Nancy got her first published, I can’t believe how quickly you’re moving up the pay scale. We’ll done and Yank Two.

Birchbark 8:41 AM  

SALTINE = Salient anagram. I had no idea such a modest cracker could be so clever.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Title was a big help after thinking on it for a minute. Also struggled with DELGADO x TEAPOY x RAMON, otherwise it worked. The spoonerisms came out with a few crosses.

Kdy 8:56 AM  

I agree except for the title, which i got immediately.

JOHN X 9:06 AM  

@pabloinnh 7:50AM

I’ve had an open invitation to Rex to take him to a Dallas whorehouse for a weekend of such mind-bending cocaine-fueled intensity that he’ll return home on Monday proudly owning an AR-15, two pistols, a big ol’ NASCAR belt buckle, and a MAGA hat. And probably the clap.

webwinger 9:19 AM  

Watching the votes come in, reminds me of Super Tuesday (if the first state announced had been the mind of the anti-Donald Trump). Glad to see the yeas/pros are winning.

I got the DENCH reference right away, having caught that little-seen movie (I want to call it Dames at Tea) when it was briefly shown theatrically. Worth streaming now if you are an oldster shut-in. Not recommended for those under 60.

Big on our current watchlist are old episodes of Perry Mason, Columbo, and Murder She Wrote—most have held up very well dramatically IMO, and there are lots and lots of them. (Amazing how much work went into a single TV season in days of old.) Satisfying to see mystery tidily dispelled and justice done every time. Also fun to be transported back to the 50s, 70s, and 90s. They can speak to younger viewers—daughter enjoy too.

@Jason 6:01: Thanks for not being Anonymous. I have been thinking a lot about H1N1 the past couple of days, after reading some comparisons. Seems we were both better at dealing with it and less panicky then. Many possible reasons. NYT figures appear to show new confirmed cases slightly down yesterday from Friday. The next couple of weeks will be telling. If we somehow have turned a corner it will be real cause for celebration, even if it makes the leader of our CHIEFDOM undeservedly look good.

WhatDoing 9:19 AM  

Couldn’t agree more with Rex on this one. What he said ... IDOTOO. I will add that this was also the most tedious thing I’ve ever had the displeasure of solving. So tedious I sighed audibly which led my wife to inquire what was wrong. So much ... so much is so very wrong right now ... why did this have to be wrong as well?

Rube 9:20 AM  

This was fun, but have to agree that teapoy and euchre need improvement. COMA clue was great and what causes Rex exasperation is exactly why the puzzle is good. I wanted to go with ___cards too instead of lanyards but I figured it out. Same for everso which was a problem mostly because of XEDOUT which was another poor choice.

Still fun theme. This was a keeper

Unknown 9:31 AM  

I couldn't agree more. Finished it quickly though but it was a mediocre puzzle at best. at

Hartley70 9:48 AM  

Whee! I did this in the middle of the night and it was more fun than the Tilt-A-Whirl. I began at the top and thought that this was going to be as easy as a kiddy ride in the park. I had ALLHAIL and ALE before I checked for a title and did a head slap. I can’t imagine why @Rex had his title tirade when the delightful wackiness was right in front of him.

At that point I had an idea what was coming in the themers and I was excited to see what clues Nancy had in store for us. Of course they were devilishly misdirected! Did a word have multiple meanings? Well then ignore the obvious! This is what I love best about solving. Anyone can memorize obscure baseball players and regurgitate them on command, but I long for cluing that gives me a little thrill at the AHA moment. NANCY is a master.

It’s hard to pick a favorite spoonerism here, but I’ll have to go with my last to solve and the most topical. SONERVOUSNOSERVICE could be an anthem for our time. I sometimes have to mentally slap myself when I see that I am out of range or heaven forbid have left my phone at home. I am well aware that I navigated the vast majority of my life with NOSERVICE and should be oblivious to the inherent “danger”, but the SONERVOUS me worries anyway.

At the risk of being redundant, I’ll say “Brava” and “Bravo” to Nancy and Will! They are a stellar team.

frankbirthdaycake 9:49 AM  

Does anyone remember the CTBS tests (comprehensive test of basic skills) administered every year to bored elementary school students? In the test of cognitive skills we had to learn same words every year: “A baloo is a bear; wuzzle means to mix, habile means skillful, a lepton is a Greek coin; alate means to have wings; a pinnock is a small bridge....” I haven’t thought about those words until today’s puzzle, 46-across, six letters, “Small three-legged table.” From that stupid test in 1979 I remembered “A teapoy is a three-legged table.” I answered it quickly and didn’t even realize until I finished the puzzle that it was a one of those CTBS words. Who knew those words were so important? I might have have had a DNF if it were it not for the CTBS test. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight. I’ll have to call my childhood friends and catch up with them – probably discuss more important things – although I can’t think of anything more important than “teapoy” at this moment. By the way, Rex, “so nervous no service” is not garbage. It’s “sculch.” (CTBS strikes again!)

QuasiMojo 9:59 AM  

This one had me from HOORAH.

Never heard of Modern Family but I sussed out DelGado. Loved the clue for KANYE. And how nice to have a new clue for IMAN. Love her but was getting tired of how she was being used in crosswords as cheap fill.

TEAPOY is new to me too- teapod sounded logical as a portmanteau of tripod and tea tray. But Teapoy sounds like something you'd order at a trendy Polynesian restaurant.

I got the DENCH answer easily (speaking of divas!) but must add that I was disappointed in that movie. Wasted opportunity with endless longueurs. The director was not a good interviewer and the queries were pointless. The archival video however was fun.

You filthy EUCHRE! Keep your eyes on your own cards.

Loved Dutch-town touchdown. Could be a good title for a Twilight Zone episode. Some alien tyke saving the world from sea level rises with his twelve fingers in a dyke.

I still use a HANKIE although I no longer wear it in my back jeans pocket.

Still kicking myself for not buying that T-shirt that said "I got SCROD in Boston."

And I love the word Stevedore. @nancy did you know it comes from Latin? Your favorite school subject.

Dear Nancy and Will, I enjoyed this puzzle SCADS. Well done. My only quibble is it was over too soon.

Bax'N'Nex 10:03 AM  

Could we figure out a way to convene as a group on a different site? Then Mike (no Rex from me...means “king”. More like court jester) would become a distant memory of negative pomposity. He must just be such a joy to be around day to day.

I loved this puzzle. Very much like Thursday, (my favorite day), but longer. So many “one letter at a time” situations adding another bit of the answer before finally getting the Aha! Moment. Very fun. Thank you Nancy and Will for a nice Sunday challenge. really should try being a happy drunk...

Bax’N’ Nex

Nancy 10:08 AM  

@Hartley -- Thanks, and a big hug. It will interest you -- and presumably many others also -- to know that one of the Wills (I don't know which one) changed my clue for SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE. He made it much better and much more contemporary, but I never would have thought of that clue myself. As someone who doesn't carry a cell phone (and really, really doesn't want to), I never made a connection of NO SERVICE to cellphone service. My clue was about being stranded at a hotel during a hotel strike. I was thinking: no food, no drinks, no clean sheets or towels, pool and spa perhaps closed. Which sounds much worse to me than having to sit in the park without the damn phone ringing -- probably a robot call anyway.

We all have different priorities. But this is a better clue.

Blue Stater 10:08 AM  

Right on, Rex. Worst in a long time.

Todd 10:12 AM  

It took me way too long to realize Curry and Rice was not Ann.

Teedmn 10:17 AM  

I just found out today that I have had a two-tiered TEAPOY hiding in plain sight in my house for decades. Mine holds knickknacks and was handed down to me from my paternal grandmother. Who knows where she got it, maybe DUBLIN? (She was 100% Irish but US born.)

I did have the feeling of a slow car crash as I neared the end of my random solve, watching the cursor jump around DELGADO, GAG and GEL and side-EYEing TEAPOY. I hit the "Check solution" button and cringed, waiting for the Sorry window but no, I got Correct, HOORAH, and in my Sunday random average time besides. My solve is here.

114A was the first place I had enough crosses to discern the double-spoonerism quality of the themers. My favorite was STEVEDORE DIVA STORE.

I found this hard, in a good way. And sure, maybe the cluing got carried away a wee bit at COMA, but it was spot on in so many places (RADIOS, LETTER, LET ME TRY, HANKIE, MOOS, DUBLIN, KANYE, etc., etc.)

BELLY next to BELIE, that's cute! SOLE almost mirrored by SCROD. Rhymes (Half-CAF, REIN for constrain). Anagram of "salient". All good stuff.

I will admit that the title did nothing for me even after solving. At least it didn't give the trick away.

Nancy and Will, another great puzzle, thanks!

Ken Freeland 10:18 AM  

Ditto.... Boy veh

Frantic Sloth 10:23 AM  

Put me squarely in the LOVED IT camp!

Although I'm in line with Rex on 2 points: the title was a little "meh" for me - but I didn't even look at it until he mentioned it, so who cares?

And I also fell down the TEAPOY/TEAbOY habit role. But, neither of these nits did squiddly dot to lessen my fun, AND I learned a new word!

This is the best Sunday in a long time IMHOpancakes, and kudos to @Nancy and Will for a job exceedingly well done.

Poor Rex has absolutely no sense of whimsy -- the themers didn't need to make any sense -- the idea was to figure it out!, which is where most of the fun lies.

@jae and @webwinger thanks for the sofa spud recommendations -- why read when you can be a mindless slug? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!


Missy 10:34 AM  

Pideous huzzle!

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Could someone pleaae explain 112A, it's not legal with the answer Letter?

chuck w 10:38 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. Try saying, "Boo blurred bluebird" fast five times in a row.

OffTheGrid 10:44 AM  

This is a grand old Sunday puzzle. Absolutely loved it. A great way so spend my morning (off & on). I live in northern Michigan and have decided to isolate. I am 70+ so not getting infected seems paramount. Good luck to all. Thanks, Nancy!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Paper size

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Someone please remind me how to get a blue name...

Unknown 10:50 AM  

Sorry, Rex, but you are SOOOOOO wrong about this one. If anything, it was one of the easiest in weeks. And fun... tons, actually.

Maybe you should have teamed with wifey for this one, since your experience with it suggests you're anything but the greatest.

Joaquin 10:50 AM  

Of all the days! I was unable to access this puzzle in a timely fashion (looks like a billing issue of some sort) but now that that has been cleared up, I do want to add my congrats to @Nancy for what appears to be the best Sunday xword in ... well, forever.

Nice going, Nancy!

Missy 10:53 AM  

Legal sized paper
Letter sized paper
Soo tad

Taffy-Kun 10:53 AM  

Letter size paper as opposed to legal size

R. Duke 10:57 AM  

Enjoyed the wordplay here, especially BOO BLURRED BLUE BIRD, but can someone explain why “concessions” equals “sops”?

Z 10:59 AM  

@Jason - Huh? Not exactly how it happened.

Ryan Crinnigan 11:08 AM  

You absolute moron.

TJS 11:09 AM  

Finished this out if sheer ornery-ness. And I don't care if that's a word because neither the constructor or editor care either. Apcalc,"hall ale,teapoy,diyers,tish,neopets,xedout,collab, etc. I like a difficult Sunday but it would be nice if the fill consisted of actual words.Now to find out what @Lewis loved about it and what OFL and the rest of us have to say.

Andrew Heinegg 11:10 AM  

Dear Dr. Jason:

I only wish the rest of the World had your insight into this crisis and your unique knowledge of the facts from the H1N1 issue.

The only problems are that there no scientists who agree with you that this is not a crisis. Also, your recitation of how the Obama Administration handled the H1N1 situation, as recited by your dear Leader, has been found to be false by every fact-checking organization.

How about if just once Trump or one of his flock of sheep would say/write that he made a mistake and that perhaps dealing with every situation without knowing any of the facts and refusing to learn the facts or take advice from someone who knows them wasn't very smart.

GILL I. 11:14 AM  

Roomerisms spock. ALL HAIL @Nancy. @Rex is a queer old dean.
This puzzle took me back to why I loved Sunday puzzle. They've been so blah lately. Along comes this clever, fun, and smile induced gem and I did my AHA, HOORAH dance.
SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE was my favorite (I actually liked them all). I don't get antsy; I use it a an excuse not to call back!
I'll take a boatload of these, @Nancy....You da rock.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

total drek. just in time for Passover. sort of.

Malsdemare 11:24 AM  

I saw Rex's opener and went, "NOOO!" And promptly came here before I have to read anything that will spoil my enjoyment. I loved this. It took me forever, the trick was delightful, it was tough and easy in all the right places. We've got Dame DENCH, KANYE West (didn't know he had a connection to Chicago, but his was the only name that fit) and fun clues for TIPSY, LETTER, LIBEL. For whatever reason, I was thrilled to have DUBLIN appear; I don't recall seeing it in Crosswords before though I don't remember stuff like that. The NW was my Waterloo; I kept wanting Adv-something but nothing fit. I could NOT see CHIEFDOM, even with the -DOM so I spent a ton of time scratching my head over that corner.

Thanks, Nancy and Will; it’s just what I need on a cold Sunday huddled inside as I await Armageddon. Okay, not really, but it'll be a while before we eat out or go anyplace with crowds. Lots of small dinners with friends in our future. And long walks with the Muchos Pooches in empty woods and fields. Not the end of the world, just a little different for a while.

Leslie 11:29 AM  

@Nancy Thanks for a feely run puzzle! I knew when I saw your name as co constructor that it would be word-play fun, my favorite kind. I got the first one pretty quickly, so was able to just have fun working out the others. The clues were clever but not too far out. Learned what a teapoy is. Kuddos. Keep well.

Leslie 11:30 AM  

@Nancy Ruts to Nex

Grouch 11:41 AM  

Everyone: SLEASE PTOP!

Joe Dipinto 11:46 AM  

Ever crash a party because you know all the guests will be a ton of fun even though you can't stand the host? That's what it feels like to come here anymore.

This puzzle had me at ARANCINI. I loved the spoonerisms. And the rest of the fill was quite entertaining. It didn't feel laden with answers I've seen 20 times in the last 6 months like so many puzzles of late. Jendid splob, Nancy and Will!

(I will point out that if you google images of TEAPOY, you mostly get things with four legs. I guess those are fake teapoys.)

Here's a selection from someone whose name rhymes with "arancini". Sort of.

TJS 11:54 AM  

Okay, I blame you, Nancy. This is my third day of commenting before reading any posts, just as you do, and I run smack dab into criticising one of our own. Only check the constructors before solving on Fridays and Saturdays, so there is that in my defense. Secondly, never check for titles on Sunday, so themers as Spoonerisms went right over my head until reading Rex. Not sure I would have figured out the title hint anyway, but had I, I'm sure I would have had a greater appreciation of the puzzle. Atleast I did say that I enjoyed the difficulty level. The rest I will just have to own, nothing personal intended.

@JohnX, Gracias, as always.

@Jason, try changing the channel once in a while.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Yes, @TJS. I wonder how many here would have "loved" this puzzle if our @Nancy wasn't a co-constructor.

mmorgan 12:07 PM  

Hey @Jason, how ‘bout that fake moon landing!

thefogman 12:08 PM  

I liked this one. Maybe Rex hated it because he had a relatively hard time solving it.

I Like Mike 12:09 PM  

I am deeply concerned for those of you who are somehow being forced to read Rex's analysis of the puzzle. There is help. Confront the person in your life who is making you do this. Try RRA (Rex Readers Anonymous).

CDilly52 12:14 PM  

Thanks for sharing, @Pete. I would be one of those asking both “Who’s the person that belongs to that spectacular dog outside?” and could I pet him, please?

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

I always search for Nancy's and Quasi's comments in this blog because they're usually right on my wavelength. I rarely look at the names of the constructors when I do a puzzle so had no idea this one was constructed by "my" Nancy, which makes it hard to admit that I really disliked this puzzle. The theme answers were tortured and nonsensical. No satisfaction there. At about 30 minutes in, I just gave up and EUCHREd because the lack of satisfaction in finally solving a clue wasn't worth the torture. RED (86A) is a color that symbolizes anger, not a symbol. CHIEFDOM (18D) is a "political system" only in the constructors' minds. Sorry, but I agree with Rex on this one.

Nancy 12:21 PM  

Your first paragraph says it exactly, @Joe D (11:46). That's very much how I feel too, as you might imagine.

Too many people to thank by name right now as I run off to the park on a sunny day. I'll try to thank you all individually later on today. But if I fail in my noble intention, please take the thought for the deed and know that I love you all. MWAH.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Why someone who lacks as much appreciation for crosswords as this column shows wants to write about crosswords is beyond me.

Lewis 12:24 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg -- Been a while, and good to hear from you!

Vernon'sdad 12:30 PM  

Me, too. Chill, Rex

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Hand up for BOO BLURRy blueberry.

I thought this was brilliant. I was sure Rex would at least tolerate it. He complained because the phrases weren't phrases one would ever see or use. Of course they're not--they're spoonerisms for god's sake! and just Imagine if the authors had used Beeping Slutey or some other commonly heard spoonerisms. He'd have had an aneurism because it was too easy or lazy or something. How could he not love SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE?!?!?!?! What the hell is wrong with SO???

I just don't understand why Rex puts himself through this misery every DINGLE SAY.

Old Actor 12:38 PM  

Wow! So much love. Congratulations you two. It seems you made a lot of people happy when there's not much to be happy about.
Plus you gave the haters an opportunity to vent their spleen. So everyone is happy.

CDilly52 12:43 PM  

Thank you Nancy and Mr. N. This was without a doubt the most fun I have had doing a Sunday puzzle in a very long time. From the title (@Rex, the . . . gave it away!) I wan hoping for spoonerisms. On long car trips, my family used to spend hours making them up, and we would get as wacky as my fave today, STEVEDORE DIVA STORE. I almost spurted my morning coffee on my cat. You and Mr. N didn’t disappoint in the least.

This one had it all and I savored every moment. On days like this, I can hear my dear Gran, with her gleeful single hand clap with “That’s it!” figuring out a tough clue. She would look at me to see if I understood the word play, or would explain about Renoir’s works, or expound on the craft of the constructor. She had an infectious laugh, and I could hear her throughout my deliberately leisurely solve today.

I feel sad for @Rex, who apparently cannot understand or accept silliness for its own sake. I can. The combination of clever misdirection, a new word (TEAPOY), wonderful wordplay and humor, this one had all of the best elements of a crossword. Thank you both for an exceptional Sunday morning. Rarely do I feel and hear my Gran beside me as I did today. Heartfelt thanks to you both.

Rube 12:49 PM  

Title makes no sense. The phrase is ready set go. There is no let's. But no matter as you didnt need it to have an enjoyable solve. I didn't understand the title until long after i finished

RooMonster 12:51 PM  

#Gill I
I'll try not to overuse that. 😂


TinPT 12:51 PM  

Loved it. Clever and appropriately tough for a Sunday. My poor husband heard me laughing maniacally from the next room when I grokked the theme and asked if I was okay. I just yelled, “Spoonerisms!” He said, “Clearly not okay.”

FPBear 12:54 PM  

You go Nancy! We all know about sexism and today as is often the case we have to deal with Rexism. It was a tough and highly enjoyable solve. Wonderful Sunday. I agree that Rex needs a little nookie!

Nancy from Chicago 1:02 PM  

I liked the puzzle, and I didn't even realize that Nancy Stark is the Nancy who posts here until I came here. The spoonerisms were fun to figure out. I was SO NERVOUS that EUCHRE was a mistake because ICE didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but luckily "E" was the only letter that seemed possible there. TIL what a TEAPOY is but the crosses were fair. Lots of clever wordplay with the clues for SALTINE, LETTER, and CAF.

Per @Nancy's request I will also post this on the Wordplay blog (with the reference to this blog deleted).

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Cute puzzle, but could have done with 5 across. Talk about a cold splash
of reality as I spend an hour (or two) in the dreamscape of the Sunday puzzle.


Anonymous 1:17 PM  

CHIEFDOM (18D) is a "political system" only in the constructors' minds.

well... and Orange Caligula, of course. Covid will be gone in a couple of weeks. which was a couple of weeks ago. just watched a 'Law and Order' rerun (season 2, the best), where parents are charged for not getting a doctor for a sick child because their religion forbade medicine and doctors. they were found guilty. may haps our Feckless Leader will be too. proclaiming he knows more about disease than doctors?

"I like this stuff. I really get it… every one of these doctors said, ‘how do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. "
-- the Orange Caligula

"It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear."
-- the Orange Caligula

will idiots who voted for this moron EVER admit they were taken as fools???? is this display of ego enough?

Lawrie 1:18 PM  

Thank you Nancy! What fun to have such an interesting and challenging (and not tedious) puzzle on a Sunday.

Newboy 1:19 PM  

ABBA opening to picking up that final STYX what a delightful way to start the morning incarceration. I was seeing the ABBA pattern for entry word order as the puzzle’s reveal until 114A didn’t quite GEL & I asked ERRATA? SCADS to like in this grid that didn’t allow the usual Sunday GLIDE through too obvious cluing. I HOPE your family enjoys this COLLAB as much as I did. And thanks to Will for being such an awesome coconspirator—can I adopt him as my SPIRIT ANIMAL?

Aphid Larue 1:20 PM  

I saw immediately that this had to do with spoonerisms but I still had to cheat.

My hierarchy of cheating this is as follows. Get it all by myself really fast, get it all by myself painfully slow, ask my husband about geography or sports, ask him about something else, Google it, look at the answer on Rex. I didn’t do too well with the first approaches.Finally got to looking it up.

Insread of Google I asked Siri for a change and she confidently told me that the best actors were William Holden and Gene Hackman. These guys won for the previous years . I guess there is something confusing about the question. Probably a distinction between the year they were nominated in the year that one.

Z 1:23 PM  

If you like baseball and crosswords, Rex posted links to a couple of themed puzzles he did a couple of years ago on Twitter.



NY Composer 1:26 PM  

@nancy thanks for an enjoyable and fun puzzle. Spoonerisms were cute and clever. Euchre went over my head, but otherwise solid fill, esp. given the demands of the theme answers. Good work!

Whatsername 1:26 PM  

I don’t normally do Sunday puzzles because I get a headache from squinting at the smaller squares and print but made an exception today in honor of the esteemed COLLAB constructor from our own commentariat. It was tough for me and I had to resort to a EUCHRE more than once, but I filled in every LETTER and yes, I do have a headache. I suspect that’s also because it’s time for an EYE exam but in any case, it was worth it. Nice one @Nancy! Thanks EVERSO much!

In Kansas City we have a very loud CHIEFDOM Kingdom. Loved the clue for SALTINE, a good thing to have on hand during the sickly season. My favorite spoon answer was NOSERVICE, as I have actually seen people almost go into panic mode because they couldn’t get a signal. I admit that I feel more secure with my cell phone when I’m out and about, but I’m not one of those people who eat their meals with one eye on their phones next to their plates. IMO that’s just kind of pathetic, not to mention rude if you’re dining with someone else.

@JOHN X at 9:06 - I’d like to see that. If you ever actually manage it, please share photos for the rest of us.

@Z at 10:59 - Thanks for posting the non-alternative facts about the H1N1. In some ways, and entirely different situation since that was a strain of the flu with known treatments and vaccines readily available.

I need to go to take some aspirin now. Thankfully, I’m all stocked up.

Dan 1:31 PM  

Does it count as a spoonerism if one of the words begins with a vowel and so only one consonant moves from one word to the other? Maybe it does, but the fact that this only happened in the first themer confused me since that is the first one I got. So I thought the other themers would be like that, i.e. move a single consonant over.

All in all, I found this tough and one of my slowest Sundays. I thought it was generally well done, but agree with Rex that "teapoy" is extremely obscure and looks wrong, and I had also never heard of "euchre" as a word other than as related to the game. But at least I new the word euchre, whereas for teapoy I thought for sure the p or y was wrong and kept wracking my brain for alternatives.

Hungry Mother 1:36 PM  

Another long slog to a victory. Some smiles among my grimaces from the themers.

Smith 1:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hungry Mother 1:54 PM  

@Jason: interesting insight. Let’s jump on a cruise and discuss it.

Pam Fletcher 1:55 PM  

Are you ever upbeat rex? There's plenty to be legitimately grumpy about. Why don't you chill out? You'll live longer.

Bourbon Street 1:55 PM  

@Aphid Larue: You are correct about the Oscars. The Oscars honor films released the previous year, so the 26th Academy Awards held in 1954 gave the best actor Oscar to William Holden for “Stalag 17”, a film released in 1953. The clue was a little confusing, but to those of us who have seen “The Godfather” too many times to keep count, it was gettable.

I’m not a big fan of spoonerisms or puns, but I enjoyed the puzzle nonetheless as I liked the clueing for the other answers. It’s been many a year since I was in high school so I wanted AP Trig which threw me for a loop until I realized the correct answer was APCALC. I agree with many commentators who liked the clue for KANYE. Though he was born in Atlanta, he moved to Chicago when he was three years old. One of his children is named Chicago.

HUEVOs con chorizo is one of my guilty pleasures. Delicious, but it does fall within the “heart attack on a plate” category, so it is best enjoyed sparingly.

Joaquin 2:03 PM  

I just went back and re-read @Rex's comments. In the words of Frank Barrone, "Holy crap!" I do believe it's time for a JohnX-led intervention.

Frantic Sloth 2:04 PM  


Frantic Sloth 2:08 PM  

Well, I tried to do the right thing, but I just copied/pasted my entire comment - much of which makes no sense on the Wordplay blog.
So... I're welcome?

sixtyni yogini 2:19 PM  

Can’t disagree with the Rex critique. On the other hand 🖐I liked it - theme was fun. Am an artnik 🎨 not a sportnik -🏈 so loved many of clues, Thought it was going to be really really easy. It warn’t. 👍🏽🧩👍🏽

Destiny’s child 2:21 PM  

Sooo pleased to hear a note of calm. I’m one of those “ vulnerables”. Reading the paper. The emails. I’m convinced they’re coming to get me and lock me up. For my own good, of course. It when I poke my head outside. All seems quite well. Confusion reigns supreme. Thanks to the orange menace

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

It's fun and funny to read everything, including Rex's comments. Week after week. I just keep the tab open all day long and refresh!
You may not agree with what Rex says, or with anyone else for that matter. And that makes it fun. I learn something new anyway, and get chuckles along the way.

Colin (again)

Andrew Heinegg 2:32 PM  

Most folks agree that Rex is an incurable curmudgeon. It's nice to see that you can offer such a classy and civilized solution to that temperament. Good Lord.

amyyanni 2:47 PM  

@Joe DiPinto, what you wrote: "This puzzle had me at ARANCINI. I loved the spoonerisms. And the rest of the fill was quite entertaining." And the SAYHEY Kid dropped by, one of my favorites. (No, not that old, love baseball and baseball history.) Two Chicago references, DEPAUL & KANYE and a salient saltine. Had to sandwich the solve around a half-marathon as too challenged pre dawn to finish. Great fun having something clever to ponder for 13.1 miles.

Masked and Anonymous 2:57 PM  

Liked the funny, raised-by-wolves crazy theme. I did really have a lot of trouble makin early solvequest progress, partly due to the crazy themers and partly becuz of all the stuff I didn't know very much about and/or the sneaky clues. But, it all worked out, eventually.

fave fillins: the stuff I knew.
less fave fillins: DELGADO. BATEAU. EUCHRE. TEAPOY. NEOPETS. DIYERS. GNOCCHI. ARANCINI. LANYARDS. RAMON. APCALC. ITALO. SERRA. But, hey -- I learned lotsa new stuff, sooo … ok.

fave sadistic clue: {Played the fall guy?} = RAKED. Plus, this came at a time when M&A was tryin his inadequate-best to deal with DELGADO/TEAPOY/RAMON. Challengin situation. Lost precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: YEP.
fave desperation: DIYERS. With HANKIE right next-door.
fave total coincidence dealy: A "Gets Low" puz with MOOS splatzed into the grid way down low at 111-D.

fave false themer: For a while I had ADSD at 4-D for some brainpan-in-The-Cloud reason. This eventually led m&e to ALL SAIL HALL ALE as the first themer, which really got M&A off to a terrible start, as far as graspin the theme mcguffin. Went back and fixed it later, after a smidge of BUEBLIRD of clarity happiness emerged from themer #2.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Wancy & Nill. [Sorry -- Seemed like I just had to do it in my comment, at least one time.]

Masked & Anonymo12Us


Carola 2:59 PM  

@QuasiMojo, after solving the acrostic just now, I thought about your comments last month about the acrostics not being as good as in the past. I didn't comment then, but I'd also been noticing lots of ellipses in the quotes and much faster solving times for me. I thought today's was better, on a couple of counts. Ancient history - I got my start as a high-schooler when a friend introduced me to the Kingsley Double Crostics in the Saturday Review.

Jason 3:06 PM  

How did we get TIPSY from "A little tight?" Drunk, sure. But tight?

Crimson Devil 3:07 PM  

Really liked LIBEL, SALTINE, landing, LETTER, ERRATA, TIPSY, COMA, HANKIE, FEDEX, RAKED, had Ann for Curry/Rice way too long, learned TEAPOY and RANCINI, but jeese re antsy feeling, dockworker. Surely “Jason” is a plant: if there’s a real Jason, someone should notify him of this post.
I continue to be amazed at constructors.

G. Weissman 3:09 PM  

I agree with Rex’s criticisms. The clue for EUCHRE is nonsensical. BOO BLURRED BLUE BIRD is just ... dopey. So now to hoot is to boo something? I guess all this Arsenio Hall audiences were booing the host and his guests. This puzzle was not for me. That’s about the kindest thing I can say about it.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

Didn’t enjoy this, my experience was similar to Rex’s, alas.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Yo, when you find yourself complaining about a common phrase like "so nervous," maybe it's time to take a deep breath and step back.

Bonnie Buratti 3:27 PM  

Agreed it was awful. Once every five years or so, you finish a Sunday NYT puzzle but still haven't understood the theme. This puzzle was one such five-year event. I mean, the theme is supposed to move you along, with the joy of discovery and recognition.

What? 3:46 PM  

The H1N1 death rate was about 0.1%. Many died because many were infected. The rate for coronavirus seems much higher. This is the reason for the current panic. Thousands already dead and you think this is a hoax?

puzzlehoarder 3:53 PM  

@Nancy, congratulations on your first Sunday puzzle. It's quite serendipitous that this should be the first puzzle I've solved since announcing my PCT plans. Who'd have thunk a global pandemic would coincide with something I've been planning for years. It's bad enough to leave your family for five months on a normal year. At a time like this it was just impossible. There's always next year and my knees could use an extra twelve months to heal.

I really enjoyed your (and your COLLABs'") puzzle. Smoking out ARANCINI, DELGADO and TEAPOY was an excellent work out. After that top third or so went in I got on the puzzles' wavelength and the rest was just steady work. Getting up to speed was a challenge though and I much appreciated it.

I'm glad to see that it looks like everyone is doing well. It's nice to read you all again.

One little upside to this crisis is we finally got my mother-in-law into a senior residence about a month ago and the place is of course on a lock down to keep the disease out. This means there's no way my wife can suggest I go see her. As always every dark cloud has a silver lining.

One more thing, there are a lot of people out there giving hoarding a very bad name.

tea73 3:56 PM  

Loved the word play! I also appreciated a Sunday that was quite a bit harder than usual. My favorite was SO NERVOUS! NO SERVICE! We had DIVE STORE for way too long. EUCHRE as clued sounded vaguely familiar, TEAPOY not so much. Did not know DELGADO either so it was a guess in the end. Agree that CHIEFDOM as clued was a stretch. @Nancy Nicely done.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  


if your a Boomer of Olde parents (pretty much the definition), or watch olde movies, it's a common synonym.

What? 4:14 PM  

I have to go along with Rex on this one. I can accept some sketchy fills when the theme fills take up so much room but the spoonerisms are just so wrong. There is no joy in them, just stretches, as here is a spoonerism, isn’t it clever and funny and worth figuring out? No. Where is the aha moment or indeed the haha moment? Here are spoonerisms that have the humor lacking in the puzzle.
Resident Pagan
(Three cheers for our) queer old dean

Note to constructors. Do not read this blog after puzzle is published. You will sleep better and miss nothing.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

I agree with the king of crossworld. While I've only been doing NYT crossword for 3 months, this is easily the worst. Terrible. Not "Ready". Up"set". "Gets" no love.

Unknown 4:28 PM  

Thx Rex....all bad

Ernonymous 4:56 PM  

@rique I know these words are French and Spanish. I'm a professional translator of Italian, French and Spanish. My comment states that I enjoy Italian words AND Foreign Language clues.

webwinger 5:55 PM  

Well, voting seems just about done, with clear victory for the pro-Nancy side (actually the pro-Nancy's puzzle side--difficult but important to keep that perspective, right?) but significant numbers in the anti camp. Chacun a son gout. That of course goes for @Rex too, but I really wish he’d check in with his subjects from time to time, and today would be a perfect occasion, if only to find out about JOHN X’s offer...

Christopher Jones 6:07 PM  

Totally agree with Rex: garbage all around.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

MSU is located in Starkville MS, which was named for a Revolutionary War hero from Vermont, of all places. Then there is the Nobel Prize winning physicist Johannes Stark, who sadly admired the Nazis. I heard that Einstein mocked him as Giovanni Fortissimo.

QuasiMojo 6:46 PM  

@Carola, thanks for the heads-up. I'll be sure to check it out.

BobL 6:47 PM  

Hey @webwinger - late to the party, but here is another thumbs up to the N's. Hell with Rex John X, you and me could trip the light fantastic.

burtonkd 6:53 PM  

@Nancy, I really enjoyed the wackiness - of a kind I haven't seen for a while. Lots of fun wordplay in the clues also! Also, I think you should direct them to this site to see just what kind of people you hang out with, with a caveat about Rex hating every puzzle, like Mikey from the Life commercials of old. By the way, why would they want him to try it to find out if it is good if he hates everything? That isn't a good way to discern anything.

pabloinnh 7:00 PM  

@Anon 6:30--

Nice shout out to Starkville, but General John Stark was born in NH and is buried here. He was famous for the Battle of Bennington, in VT, so some connection. He also coined our state motto "Live Free or Die", recently discussed by some of us in its more comic iteration. My wife's family has Stark connections, her brother's middle name is Stark. In fact, he was often teased as "John Stark Naked" (not his real last name, har).That's probably enough info about Starks for tonight but we're all getting a little antsy here with everything shut down.

Which reminds, me--John X, if Rex keeps blowing you off, I'll look for an open spot between gigs. Dallas has fascinated me since the tv series.

Alina 7:32 PM  

Brilliant puzzle. One of my favorites of all time. A delight to solve.

Today's review was ridiculous, and inexplicably harsh, but I did enjoy reading it. Rex is a great writer, and I'm often in the mood for a good, unreasonable rant, as long as the ranter is witty and sharp (also see: Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Joe Dipinto 7:39 PM  

Nobody noticed that ET TU appears in the puzzle on the Ides of March?

Anonymous 8:06 PM  


yeah, Babeeeeeeeeee!! too bad it didn't happen again. :)

TokyoRacer 8:15 PM  

How could anyone like this puzzle? Totally agree with Rex - it was awful.

Ernonymous 9:26 PM  

@Joe dipinto et tu Giuseppe? You gonna putta dagga inna my heart?

Nancy 9:47 PM  

Many thanks to all of you who said nice things -- too many of you to mention by name, but all your encouraging and complimentary comments were taken to heart, perhaps memorized (if I had a memory, that is) and very much appreciated. Thanks also to those of you who took the trouble to go to Wordplay and post there. I just sent a link to their blog to my family.

To those of you who didn't like/hated the puzzle, I'm sorry. I knew the opinions would be mixed today. Not everyone likes wordplay and wacky phrases, so there's that aspect. I, myself, do like that kind of puzzle a lot, so I was creating a puzzle for solvers like me and of course there are many of them. But I also think this puzzle may have been too difficult in the non-themer clues, leaving less energy and focus for the playfulness of the theme answers. Yesterday, I sat in the park and tried to get a feel for how hard the puzzle was. I remembered nothing, I mean nothing, of any of the non-theme clues and answers. So I tried to solve the puzzle without referring to any of the theme answers which I did remember. And I had the same trouble that many of you had. I didn't know TEAPOY, nor ARANCINI, nor RAMEN nor EUCHRE as clued, nor DELGADO, nor AP CALC. I thought the NE corner was much too hard and would have clued both LANYARD and CHIEFDOM differently.

That's on me. I left the stuff I didn't know...the proper names I didn't much like...the words I wasn't sure exactly what to do with for Will to clue. That's probably bass-ackwards. In the future, I'll look to take responsibility for the fill most likely to present a problem. I'll assume that if it's obscure to me, it'll be obscure to many others, and my goal will be to make those clues as accessible as possible. Obscure words are the exact wrong place to be tricky; the solver's going to have enough trouble as it is. The comment I learned the most from today was @chefwen's. She loved the theme, but she worked like a dog to complete the puzzle and ended up sweaty. That doesn't leave much energy for savoring the wordplay. So I feel that a slightly easier puzzle would have been a more enjoyable puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 9:49 PM  

Non posso – il mio fratello gemello si chiama Giovanni, @Giovanni.

Anonymous 10:30 PM  

Hey Nancy, don’t listen to the haters. You worked on a labor of love. I, for one, loved it. Thanks.

GILL I. 10:42 PM  

@Nancy...I didn't sweat...I had fun....So I didn't know TEAPOY nor DELGADO nor AP CALC.....but dang, girl, you put ARANCINI in.....Those things taste great.
Not everyone is gonna love the gorgeous dinner. Not everyone loves Welsh rarebit nor clams nor tartare. Lovely for some, not so for others. Comme ci, comme ca. I, and many others were in the comme ci...... :-)

Teedmn 11:28 PM  

@Jason 3:06 from Joni Mitchell's “Twisted”

“Now I heard little children
Were supposed to sleep tight
That's why I got into the vodka one night
My parents got frantic
Didn't know what to do
But I saw some crazy scenes
Before I came to
Now do you think I was crazy?
I may have been only three
But I was swinging”

CDilly52 12:05 AM  

Seriously? The ellipses gives its way. Ready set . . . (Are you ready? Are you set! OK . . . Let’s go! (Or gets low). I smiled at the title hoping for spoonerisms. And this did not disappoint.

G. Weissman 12:23 AM  

Nancy, I appreciate your final reflective commentary. Thank you for generously sharing your thought process with us. Leaving clue decisions up to WS seems a recipe for disappointment. I did not personally enjoy the spoonerisms, but others did. I’m glad your puzzle found its audience.

Liz1508 6:51 AM  

I am feeling somewhat dense... and forgive me if the answer is in here somewhere. But why is there a “w” at the end of Get’s Lo(w)? Hope someone is still looking at this...

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

Aren't some of those "Anonymous" posts also from your fearless asshole, so that he can skew the tally, kinda like Trump?

Teresa 9:21 AM  

I loved it! Nicely vexing and great fun. I was unencumbered by the dubious title since it doesn't pop up on my tablet version so that didn't bother me. Just think how hard it is to make this kind of thing work, regardless of what phrases one uses that Rex doesn't like. The cluing was mostly great too, the kind of thing for which we love the NYT puzzle. Just the thing to happily dig into in these troubled times.

Teresa 9:41 AM  

@Joe Dipinto: Brilliant! And to Nancy too. (And your puzzle wasn't too hard, it was just right.) I failed to notice the Et tu on the Ides of March, and I always notice the Ides because my mother was born on that day. I think that made her feel rather special growing up.

Nancy 9:56 AM  

@G Weissman -- I left those clues up to my collaborator Will Nediger, not up to Will Shortz. WS changes whatever he wants to change, so all constructors must live with that for better or worse. But it was my choice to give over to Will N those words I didn't want to clue for one reason or another. And they turned out to be very important in determining the difficulty level of the puzzle. I should have been more hands-on in my approach to them, I'm now thinking -- especially since I found the NE corner to be so pesky to solve.

Z 10:03 AM  

@Liz1508 - Let’s Go spoonerizes to Gets Low. Nothing more than making the sound into a common word explains the “w.”

MassBookworm 10:33 AM  

Most disappointing puzzle of the winter. Euchre?? Teapoy?? WTF?? And no delight or joy or cleverness (for me) which I am thirsting for.

But we do our best in dreadful times. Stay as well as can be, one and all.

RavTom 12:02 PM  

EUCHRE meaning “cheat” is something I’ve certainly come across. It’s old, the kind of thing you might have seen in a Dashiell Hammett story, but it’s hardly nonsensical.

RavTom 12:04 PM  

“Tight” is older slang for almost but not quite drunk. For instance, this courtroom dialogue from Anatomy of a Murder:
Q: Was he drunk?
A: He was tight.

ASW-20 12:24 PM  

Thanks for tube recommendations! Many of us are going to be watching a lot more of the tube, so it’s wonderful to be able to benefit from others’ experience.

I’ve been enjoying trying to absorb a little Spanish from my tube time and movies I’ve enjoyed in Spanish are Julieta, Everybody Knows, and Vivir Dos Veces. The Inma Questa series Criminals has also been recommended, but I have yet to watch. I also enjoyed Palm Trees in the Snow, Adriana Ugarte of Julieta being another fave.

The charismatic and enormously talented Mexican indie/pop/folk/rock singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade is another wonderful Spanish language indulgence, but beware, Natalia is a gateway “drug.” Such a beautiful language, and so much lovely music. Natalia comes from a family of classical musicians, a fact that clearly but subtly informs everything she does, and her smile and personal presence are irresistible.

paulsfo 2:13 PM  

Like Rex,I hated the "spoonerisms."

pdplot 5:52 PM  

For those haters, try constructing a puzzle yourself. I've tried and though I've made promising starts, I've never been able to complete one. I thought the spoonerisms were clever and hard to construct. I had to Google the NE corner in order to finish but I thought the puzzle as a whole was fun and a good job by Nancy and Will.

Igor Gee 9:46 PM  

Please tell my why sport___ answer us UTE 59a

paulsfo 10:26 PM  

@Igor Gee: A "sport ute" is a less common way to refer to a "sport utility vehicle", commonly known as an "SUV".

Greendale Mona 1:40 PM  

Hated it. Loved you for hating it too, Rex.
Teapoy, my Aunt Bonbon!

albatross shell 8:03 PM  

Thank you Nancy. I wrote a longish specific review and hit the wrong spot on my phone and it vanished and it was already Monday morning. Now its Tuesday night.

Loved the themers and their clues. All original and all have different spellings in at least one-half of the spoonerism. Nice touch. Plus 6 or 7 other clues I liked. And never had Arancini. Will try next time I see it on the menu. Your resolving description hit about 2/3 of my rough spots 3 googles to get done. Congrats.

Thanks for the Jeopardy story. I usually only watch a few times a year in recent years. But I did watch a saturday(?) Jeopardy and the word alabaster was an answer. Alabaster albatross. So why is alabaster white and I guess has nothing to do with Alba- at all?

And you also ruined my belief about latin. If I had taken latin instead of German my vocabulary would be much better because of latin roots. And it would be useful for the important things in life, like crosswords.
In my school it was:
German - math and science.
Latin - Catholics
French - Literary and the elite.
Spanish - the academically disinclined

albatross shell 8:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz1508 9:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe 3:34 AM  

I kept looking at the upper right corner and thinking, “I ‘m not going to get this.” Finally, I put in APCALC - because it ‘had’ to be that. The rest unraveled. Puzzle was not fun but I got through it unscathed.

Burma Shave 12:33 PM  




rondo 1:00 PM  

There is IRE and then there is NOIRE (crossing RENOIR). Maybe we can COLLAB on a REC? Those last two words, as clued, hit me right in the SCROD. I finished somewhere in the TEAPOY area.

Can't believe nobody noticed that the title was even parsed wrong. Shoulda been ". . . Get Slow" due to this puz being such a slog. The only remotely amusing themer IMO, was BCHORDKEYBOARD; I imagined some musician's busted electronic instrument.

Speaking of musicians, Christina AGUILERA is Beautiful today. YEP baby.

If not for the stay home order I mighta tossed this in favor of running errands. IHOPE you are well.

spacecraft 1:14 PM  

For my comment, see OFC's above. If I had to provide a picture for a dictionary definition of "slog," I'd snap today's puzzle. There's wackiness, which can be cute, clever, funny...and then there's just plain nonsense, like this. Add to that SCADS of horrible fill--including the abysmal XEDOUT--and you have a bad score. Lovely DOD Ms. AGUILERA saves it to a double-bogey.

Kevin McG 2:58 PM  

Can someone clue me in on what half-CAF means? I couldn’t find info online that didn’t involve Starbucks orders. Cheers!

Liz1508 3:34 PM  

Thank you Z (10:30am). I enjoyed the puzzle, but that "w" on the end of Get's Low still really bothers me. To me it implies that the answers are placed "low" or "below" or go "low" in the spaces the way they sometimes do. I just don't see why it is there otherwise. But maybe I'm still being dense! Thanks all!

rondo 5:13 PM  

@Kevin McG - It's pretty much just what you found, a coffee blend with half of the caffeine as regular. I've got a can of Folgers and they call it '1/2 Caff'

rainforest 5:18 PM  

Plendid Spuzzle. I had a LOT of fun with this, maybe because I got some things right off that evaded some others: APCALC, LANYARD, TEAPOY, RAMON, DEPAUL, CAF were all gimmes.

However, the theme was the real star of the show, which I got and referenced to the title at the second themer. I laughed at most of them, btw, and enjoyed the entire puzzle. This, despite not being a fan of @Nancy's prissy comments (but I do agree with her re OFA).

I think I am a fan of Spoonerisms, eg.
"At the end of WWII, they flung the hags from the windows."
"Canadian Broadcorping Castration."

Yes, I liked the theme, and the fill, and so much of the cluing (LETTER - har).
Excellent Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Rex was at his ornery best today. Can't say as I disagree with him except that there were some saving graces in the solving. But for the most part a slog other than some gimmes here and there. But no puzzle can be perfect so I would give it a B-.

And wouldn't music lessons be so much easier with a B Chord Keyboard ? And boring.

Kevin McG 12:13 PM  

Thanks, rondo! Sometimes I’m oblivious to the obvious.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

I thought this was about crossword puzzles as a means of getting away from politics and viruses.

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