1969 hit for Neil Diamond / SUN 4-26-20 / Ad label in red white / 1990s Nickelodeon show about preteen boy / Early king of Athens in Greek myth / German city on Wesser / Like entire 290-page Georges Perec novel A Void curiously enough

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Constructor: Royce Ferguson

Relative difficulty: Challenging (15-something, though I kept stopping because I just hated it so much, so it might be easier than the clock suggests)

THEME: "Turn, Turn, Turn" — the word "CAR" goes through a "tunnel" eight times, turning each time (the tunnels are L-shaped black-square formations). Technically, the visible parts of the answer (i.e. the non-CAR parts) look like standalone answers, though ... woof, ELESS, really? But I'm getting ahead of myself ... there's also a revealer for some reason: 47A: With 86-Across, fixation problem suggested by this puzzle's theme (TUNNEL / VISION); oh, and, again, redundantly and unnecessarily ... the word CAR (58D: The driving force behind this puzzle?):

Theme answers:
  • "SWEET (CAR) OLINE" (1A: 1969 hit for Neil Diamond) (O-LINE = 23D: QB-protecting group, for short)
  • MAS (CAR) PONE (25D: Cousin of cream cheese) (PONE = 13A: Southern bread)
  • REIN (CAR) NATION (44A: Belief in Buddhism and Hinduism) (NATION = 54D: State)
  • FLYING (CAR) PETS (48D: Magical rides) (PETS = 88A: Beloved members of the family)
  • TAKE (CAR) EOF (59A: Deal with) (EOF = FOE = 36D: Adversary)
  • DIS (CAR) DING (83D: Throwing away) (DING = 70A: Demerit)
  • META(CAR)PAL (116A: Bone connected to the wrist) (PAL = LAP = 96D: ___ dog)
  • COULD (CAR) ELESS (89D: Doesn't give a hoot, colloquially) (E-LESS = 119A: Like the entire 290-page Georges Perec novel "A Void," curiously enough)
Word of the Day: ASADO (90A: South American barbecue) —
Asado (Spanish: [aˈsaðo]) is the techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in various South American countries, where it is also a traditional event. An asado usually consists of beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, and morcilla which are cooked on a grill, called a parrilla, or an open fire. Generally the meats are accompanied by red wine and salads. This meat is prepared by a person who is the assigned asador or parrillero. (wikipedia)
• • •

Dreary and dismal and painful and everything I've come to not like about Sunday puzzles, but also somehow worse. All the awful things are here. A puzzle that is superduper full of its own cleverness, despite being one-note—just CAR over and over and over. Fill that is pure garbage *posing* as inventive / fun stuff. XLSHIRT? Get the hell out of here. RADIOSHACKS, plural!?!? What's next, CHILISES? Rarely have I seen hotter garbage. MAKES A LIST!? ROLL A CIGAR!? It's like the puzzle is inching ever-closer to my Platonic ideal of that kind of answer: EAT(S) A SANDWICH. There are multiple XMASES now? This puzzle even made me hate a *baseball* answer, which ... do you know how hard you have to try to do that? And yet EX-MARINER, ugh. ___ A ___, EX-anyteam, XLwhatever. It's bad. It's not as bad as STEREOTYPIC, which, in recollecting it, makes me want to drop my computer on the floor, so offensive is that word's nonwordness. I seriously had STEREOTYP-- and no idea. Wrote in STEROTYPED, because that at least seemed like a word. There is no STEREOTYPIC without AL. Or there shouldn't be. In short, there was about as much GAYETY here as there is in that absolutely stupid non-word, which no one in the history of humanity has ever spelled that way, ever. Awful. Awful. Awful.

And the thing where a short three-letter *Down* is actually supposed to be read *backward* so you can go through the "tunnel"—more awfulness. I am going in the direction of the answer, i.e. Down. You cannot expect me to read the answer in an *upward* direction. Well, you can, 'cause you did. But it's bad. I ran the alphabet at SI_ only to realize that I was supposed to "drive" that answer up into the "tunnel" what fun!? So it's not SID, it's DIS(CAR)DING. GAYETY!  The nerve of this puzzle, not only trying to convince me that E-LESS (uuuuggggghhh) is a "word," but doing so with a stupid Georges Perec clue, which, so much ugh, is the guy whom I've only ever seen in crosswords and is such an insidery "we all love puzzley stuff right?" garbage garbage reference. The puzzle is only allowed to wink at me and commiserate with me in our shared puzzle fandom when the puzzle behaves and is actually good. When the puzzle is doing something cruddy, the winky nudge of a clue is Not welcome. BILOXIMS!? AnycityAnystatecode?! There's something to hate at every turn, and so much *long* hateful stuff, too. I picked this theme up early, and the revealer was transparent. See:

And still the puzzle was hard and miserable to solve. Joyless. Smugly sure that it is chock full o' cleverness. Which makes the whole experience so much worse. ROLLACIGAR, I mean, really ... And ONARAIL, to boot!?!?! Yeesh. DEIS! ENLAI! STAID...NESS??? (52D: Sedate state). Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 12:06 AM  


Joaquin 12:06 AM  

Here’s why I do crosswords: For fun; to learn new words; and to challenge my aging brain. And, of course, to have a reason to come here. For a long time now, the Sunday puzzles have been (for me) mostly joyless slogs that satisfied none of my reasons for solving.

But I really enjoyed this one. It was gimmicky and fun; I learned a new word: “Torcedores”; It wasn’t simply a fill-in-the-blanks puzzle. And here I am!

Thanks, Royce, for a great Sunday puzzle. And if you're reading this, ignore Rex.

Scrub 12:11 AM  

I didn't think it was that bad, either. STEREOTYPIC is bad, but the rest ... iunno, it was fine.

Ron 12:18 AM  

The arrows in the NYT app helped those upside down ones a lot!

Joe Dipinto 12:26 AM  

Beep beep'm beep beep, yeah

One look at the 1a clue and the arrows and I immediately knew what was up. So, after filling in SWEET→→→OLINE, I tooled around the grid and filled in every other theme answer. Then I noticed the "revealer", which I had to look at some of the crosses to figure out, and then 58d. Then I said "Okay I'm done." I hope the rest of it was good. Doesn't look like Rex thought so.

(I think they should give tournament prizes for being fastest to get every theme answer with no additional fill. No telltale erasure marks permitted.)

I did think the placement of the clues at 25d and 83d was strange, since the letters there have to read from the bottom-up to start the answer. They're not clued for SAM and SID so why not number the clue at the box where the word actually starts?

But anyway...that was that. The acrostic seems harder than usual today. I'm not sensing any theme in it so far.

Some twists and turns...

...and some psychedelia

Joaquin 12:33 AM  

We could, if anyone cares, continue to debate the evolution of the English language.

Re: 89D/119A - COULDcarELESS now has evolved to mean the same thing as "could not care less".

Is this a good thing? Does it foretell the end of civilization as we know it? Discuss.

CDilly52 12:47 AM  

Oh my goodness this was fun! I am a solver for fun and to learn things, sometimes useful and other just odd tidbits that I tuck away for the next time some constructor pulls it out of her or his deep dark . . . word list as a means of torture. And once I “graduated” to Sunday puzzles (and I still remember the very first time I ever solved a NYT Sunday all by myself with zero cheating) I live this kind of a puzzle. Some oddball trick that one has to figure out in order to get the words into the right spots. This was clever, fairly novel and for me just plain fun. Once I got the trick (and it was early - a combo of wanting SWEET CAROLINE, and knowing MASCARPONE but not having enough spaces. So at first I thought well, maybe the song is Holly Holly and the trick is double words repeated only once? Nope. That died with MASCARPONE. So, back to looking at what SWEET CAROLINE and MASCARPONE have in common that might also have something to do with the arrows in the grid. Light bulb in aging brain goes off and voila’ - happiness ensues. Of course the remaining “turns” were pretty easy, but what fun finding the revealers. The remainder of the puzzle was fair and for Sunday not a killer. And the answers weee a mix of fun and not boring. I think @Rex just needs to skip Sundays. He seems not to enjoy the quintessential NYT Sunday “tricksy” puzzle’s.

Fun clues for TOTEM POLES, RADIO SHACKS, EMAILS and ACID TONGUES just to name a few. Knocked about 15 minutes off my typical hour solve today. I will look forward to Mr. Ferguson’s work in future!

astrotrav 1:07 AM  

I'm going to be more charitable since this is the author's first NYT puzzle. Without the arrows I don't think it would have been clear at all what the heck was going on. Fun: SUPERUSER, TACOBAR, ASSEENONTV. Not fun: PAISAN, ASKSTO, RADIOSHACKS, ENLAI. Inexcusable: STEREOTYPIC, COULD(CAR)ELESS.

Tom R 1:39 AM  

I got the gimmick easily enough and did not need the arrows. BUT, the Times endorses Across lite and that is what I use. Why do they even allow puzzles that cannot be displayed properly in Across Lite??? Bugs the everlovin' whatsis out of me. Just stop it!

Skylark 1:44 AM  

I felt 112A: "News items often written in advance" was a poor clue for OBITS. The clue leads me to OBITUARIES, and not it's short form. He should have added "briefly" to the clue.

egsforbreakfast 1:45 AM  

This may be it for me. I’ve been reading the blog for years. Contributing for a few months now, But c’mon, Rex. As I solved it I became more and more wary of the Rex barf-a-thon that was surely coming, all the while thinking that this was a true blue original concept that was executed nicely and without a lot of dreck. I don’t understand what on God’s green earth would make a good puzzle for Rex. It can’t contain any controversial historical figures, nor any unpleasant concepts, nor anything he is not familiar with (even if it’s in his field of specialization). Now I also know that it can’t repeat a concept over and over throughout the themers (although that seems to me to be exactly the nature of themers), nor can it use plurals where it is absolutely necessary to either use a slightly awkward plural or destroy the entire grid.

This, like most of the puzzles in the last few weeks, was a joy to solve, and the notion of lambasting a constructor for having the temerity to submit it should be punishable with a cat o nine tails.

Sorry to go on this rant, but I think we really should not lose sight of the fact that we solve these puzzles for fun/diversion/relation. Rex has completely lost sight of that.

CDilly52 1:50 AM  

Yes, @Joaquin, this is a harbinger if the end of civilization as we know it! That particular Mia-statement (in my ever so humble opinion) is also one of my pet language peeves. Whoever someone says “I could care less,” I always ask him/her, “How would exactly would you do that?” And I am always met with a look that says “What are you talking a pair?” Ugh!!!!

Richardf8 2:02 AM  

All I can say is SOMEONE discovered the ourobouros tool in their construction software and had to take it for a spin. Frankly, I COULDn’t CARE LESS. Got all three revealers early on, so the trick was easy to perform. This had to many moments of “you didn’t do that, you didn’t do that, dammit, you did that!” Agree mostly with Rex. This puzzle is a stunning edifice that is ultimately unlivable.

webwinger 2:05 AM  

Not a fan of this puzzle conceptually, but found a lot to like. Got the gimmick right away at 1A, which made the entire solve seem pretty easy. The turning answers mostly were fine. But TUNNEL VISION just did not work as any kind of revealer, nor did CAR as a “driving force”. Answers 25D and 83D, which had to be read Up to make sense with the clues, even though when read conventionally Down made sense as 3-letter names, were annoying.

Fun clue-answer pair at 22A. Liked learning torcedore from 107A clue. IRE SIGN at 82A: There’s an old brick building in Cambridge MA that bears the signage Metropolitan Storage Warehouse / Fire Proof, which when seen from the street at a certain angle, partly obscured, reads RAGE WAREHOUSE / IRE PROOF.

Hello METAcarPAL my old friend, I can work with you again. Finally after two months have nearly recovered full use of my right hand following fracture of MC5 bone. Touch-typing with a standard keyboard remains a bit challenging. Dependence of that on right pinkie’s reach came as a bit of a surprise.

Richardf8 2:10 AM  

I’m old and cranky and entitled to my pet peeves. When I’m dead and buried, the English Language will lurch into some new, unintelligible form without me.

As for a the end of civilization, that is probably mostly independent of changes in usage.

**Shakes fist at cloud**

Crucial Verbist 2:12 AM  

Yes, this was a slog. The theme was okay, but so. much. sketchy. fill... long and short. It drained my enthusiasm quickly.

One quibble on RP's review: Separate from its use in crosswordese, that Georges Perec novel* is a masterpiece. It's an amazing feat. And the fact that it could be translated effectively into English (by Gilbert Adair) is just as amazing, if not more.

* ("La Disparition" in the original French, "A Void" in its English translation)

Willie 2:26 AM  

Great fun. Take a deep breath and mellow, @Rex!

jae 2:27 AM  

Mostly medium but the SE corner was tough. Twisty, liked it.

chefwen 3:25 AM  

It took me a STOOPID amount of time to figure out the theme, suddenly that two by four hit me again and I yelled out CAR, dogs and kitty glanced up as if to say “okay, she’s really lost it, now who’s going to feed us”? I guess my biggest problem was remembering that Neil Diamond song, when that finally clicked in it was a fun romp.

GOD, I hope the HAIR SALONS reopen soon, I’m beginning to scare myself.

Loren Muse Smith 3:27 AM  

I’m with @Joaquin, @CDilly52, @eggsforbreakfast, and everyone else who liked this. My highly-evolved, enviable spidey sense picked up on some funny business early on, but I just couldn’t figure it out. This makes for a nifty little challenge, imo. As Rex pointed out, STEREOTYPIC isn’t as common as stereotypical, so I was focused there on looking for the al turning off the word somewhere.

When I finally saw SWEET CAROLINE, I felt such a sense of victory. Then going in and locating all the little el-joint black box TUNNELs and figuring out which direction the CAR would be driving through was great fun. Great. Fun. (@astrotrav -I missed the whole arrow help and got it anyway. I’ll go stand with @Tom R.)

That center REINCARNATION/FLYING CARPETS circle surrounding CAR is terrific. Plus, DISCARDING and TAKE CARE OF cross those. And the little TUNNEL jaunts are all symmetric. And, AND. . . the parts on either side of the CAR are legit words. (So no PICNIC AREA, WOOD CARVING, BABY CARRIAGE.) This is very elegant.

Since my focus is solely on the theme, I barely noticed the stuff Rex points out. Valid points all, but as I read all his complaints, I just shrugged, still admiring the theme.

STEREOTYPIC didn’t make me angry; rather, it sent me off thinking of stuff like fantastic/fantastical, historic/historical, comic/comical, optic/optical, economic/economical, classic/classical/ electric/electrical… I imagine there’s a distinction there. And some pairs I don’t think have a real distinction - categoric/categorical, satiric/satirical, diabolic/diabolical, satanic/satanical. I’m a better person for having considered this little phenomenon.

My heart sang with COULD CARE LESS. Granted, it’s not “correct,” but you can sure spit that out with more disdain and dismissal than couldn’t care less. @CDilly52 – c’mon, man. I think we could be fast friends, but… If someone’s like,

Oh. A White House press conference is about to start? I could care less.

you know exactly what they’re saying. To question them as to their meaning is actually just embarrassing them. I see no difference in saying that to someone and asking, say,

Uh. Do you mean 'Just between you and me'?

Took me forever to get COME for the dog command. Heel, stay, whoa (musher’s term for stop), on by (musher’s term for run amiably past this other dog sled team and under no circumstance stop and get into a spectacular death fight with them. ) Whoa and on by are in reality just little desperate suggestions that sled dogs cheerfully ignore at all times.

I loved the clue for PEER IN. That &^% could get you arrested. I mean, if you knock on the door and no one answers, just leave. Do not put your hand up to the window go all creepo on everyone. Just leave. There’s a reason no one is answering, and you probably don’t want to know.

Do yourself a favor - go back and do the Patrick Berry Saturday from May 19, 2012. I don’t know how to link the blank puzzle. Once you’re finished, sit back and look at it and understand why it’s relevant today.

@Z – pronounced /eks MAH puh deez/

Royce – congrats on this auspicious debut. Well-done.

Vidiot 3:41 AM  

The plural of LIRA is LIRA. Or it was before Italy switched to the Euro. LIRAS...aren't a thing.

puzzlehoarder 3:56 AM  

A sign of the times was when I printed out the puzzle thinking it was going to be a Monday and not noticing otherwise until I started solving. Even then it wasn't the appearance of the puzzle but the lack of ease that clued me in. With all this staying at home I forget which day of the week it is.

I wouldn't have started this so late if I'd known it was a Sunday but since I'd started I just kept going inspite of the hour.

By the time I finished in the SE If was so bleary-eyed I couldn't understand why toreadors were rolling cigars. Reading the clue correctly really wouldn't have helped but I got it done.

Was there supposed to be a CARpal TUNNEL sub theme and then those TUNNELs would be subways? Probably I just need sleep.

@jae, thanks for the old Saturday suggestion. It was an adjustment from the current level of difficulty and I did get a single dnf in the SW. Classic whack-a-vowel.

The Saturday SB turned out to be great fun. I got all 29 words and my friend Stan choked at 27.

Mike in Mountain View 3:57 AM  

I’m with LMS, @Joaquin, @CDilly52, @eggsforbreakfast, and everyone else who liked this. Fun theme, elegantly executed, with symmetry and themers that all broke into three entries with "CAR" as the middle one. (ELESS isn't great, but it's much more fun than ETAIL and EZINE and has an interesting clue.) Can't for the life of me understand the complaints of Rex or Jeff Chen about this one.

And to have constructed this as a debut? Phenomenal. Great job, Royce. Don't let the critics dissuade you from practicing the art of cruciverbial construction.

Also, my speedy solve made this a historic (not historical yet) occasion in my solving career. Thanks for that, too.

Joe Dipinto 4:17 AM  

@Webwinger → But TUNNEL VISION just did not work as any kind of revealer

Right. Is the puzzle about turning or about tunnels? The TUNNEL "revealer", if you can call it that, feels tacked on to accommodate the fact that the cars are concealed by black spaces. But how many tunnels have 90° turns in the middle?

The title is TURN TURN TURN, and you have cars making turns. A better clue for CAR at 58d would have made the theme complete without the need for any tunnel references, imo.

French in Paris 4:46 AM  

Oh Rex! Not only is it as painful as ever to read your masochistic rant about this fun puzzle (yes, masochistic, otherwise why would you go on solving these puzzles when you so rarely appreciate them?), but your acid comments on A Void were particularly disappointing. As Crucial Verbist says, not only is Perec's La Disparition simply a masterpiece that truly blows your mind (E is by far the most common letter in French, and it is present in many ubiquitous words: je, le, est, et, de...), but its translation by Gilbert Adair in another amazing achievement, since he not only had to also write an entire book without the darn letter (an e-less book indeed, Rex), but had to do it with the added constraint of having to keep as close to the original meaning as possible, since that is after all the whole point of a translation. Comparing sentences in the two books is a rare pleasure for one who reads both languages and enjoys any kind of word play. But taking pleasure with words unfortunately does not seem to be part of your world any longer. How sad for you, and for your readers. Come on Rex, don't be such a curmudgeon! Perhaps if you took your time doing these puzzles rather than swallowing them in one big gulp you would enjoy them more?

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

Cluing ELESS for A Void = good and acceptable

The phrase COULD CARE LESS = f*ck you, AmEng

Otherwise fine as my expectations are always low on Sundays aka The Lord's Day aka Good Lord this fill is turgid Day

Dave 6:20 AM  

Yeah, I thought this puzzle was very impressive, the way the words and turns had to be interwoven. Rex, Mikey, criticizes pluralizing Radio Shack?? Are there any Radio Shacks near you?

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

I've never met a civil engineer that didn't know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Given the expense of digging tunnels, this information is always used in designing them. How did we end up with 100% of the tunnels having a right angle in the middle?

Ruth F 6:45 AM  

I loved this puzzle! When I first saw the note in Across Lite I went to the NYT app and saw all the little arrows. Being extremely directionally challenged, I decided to use the NYT app for the first time. I knew I’d never be able to picture what was going on from memory. In spite of that awkwardness, I had fun. Took me a bit to figure out the theme, but knew that something was revolving through the arrows. There were a good number of themes, and I enjoyed the clever cluing already pointed out. And it was different enough from a lot of the recent NYT Sunday puzzles to feel novel. I believe I hear “stereotypic” more than “stereotypical” now, but don’t see it in writing.

Rex is never happy when there’s something that doesn’t work in Across Lite. Given the unsettling times we are living in, I find myself often over-reacting to small annoyances. (“What, no limes in the house!? I have to have my G&T with lemon!? Anything but that!”) Maybe that’s what’s going on with Rex.

I’m a solver who whiles away an hour, maybe an hour and a half on a Saturday night/Sunday morning with the puzzle for fun. That is exactly what this great debut provided.

Chaspark 6:54 AM  

Yep. Rex risks losing the dwindling audience that remains with his holier than thou rants. It’s like watching Trump blast a reporter.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

From the cool look of the diagonal dotted lines o' block at the midsection of the grid, to the playful cluing, in which so many clues we just a slight turn away from direct that they brought the brain into the process, to the wackadoodle blind turns going all over the place, this made for a bright solving experience.

Royce not only had the constraint of no two black squares touching each other (except diagonally or coming from the edge) so there would be no confusion over where the tunnels were, but, aside from the center revealer, you can't find CAR embedded anywhere.

I do like that revealer CAR in the midst of a tunnel of white, and the original / clever clue for MIC. I loved picturing tiny cars traversing those dark tunnels. Thanks for a lovely lockdown lift, Royce, and please don't quit this constructing thing anytime soon!

Todd 7:08 AM  

With the exemption of gayety crossing yeow I liked the puzzle a lot. Honestly, now knowing how much Rex hates it makes me like it a little more. Doing puzzles is such a peaceful and relaxing activity for me. I can't imagine how anyone can do them with such lack of joy. Sad

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

So many plurals
So many abbreviations

ZenMonkey 7:11 AM  

I worked with Alan PAKULA in his small NYC office in the mid-90s. Started as an internship and they kept me on as a development associate. It was a killer job for a young movie nerd and wannabe screenwriter. Even though I was on the bottom of the tiny totem pole, Alan was unfailingly kind, polite, and friendly with me. He commanded respect but also showed it generously. I remember when he personally handed me a script (usually they came from one of two other people there) because it was written by an actor friend, so it was kind of delicate and he wanted me to give my thoughts on it. (Without Alan knowing, said friend had been quite rude with me over the phone very early in my time there, so this provided me with a delicious ethical dilemma as well as awe that Alan Pakula valued my 21yo’s opinion.)

He was in amazing health in his 70s, and was working until the day he died, just a few years after I’d moved to San Francisco. If not for that car accident I’m sure we would have seen another movie or two from him. I appreciate seeing his name in the puzzle and taking a moment to reminisce.

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

Re: May 19, 2012. It’s relevant because it included as as answer ASTRNOMIC? That’s it? I’m underwhelmed.

Diver 7:16 AM  

Awful, a real slog, for too many reasons to list. Go back to the drawing board, Royce, and try to come up with a theme that doesn't rely cutesy graphics or notes to the reader.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

I pretty much like doing all of these puzzles, no matter the rants of OFL. When I saw the title, all I could think of was The Byrds. I did have some difficulty with this one, so split the solve between late last night (we get the NYT Mag on Saturday) and early this morning. I've looked and looked and read all the comments, and still don't quite get the Tunnel theme - yes, tunnels are straight! And still trying to link Cars and Tunnels. Oh well.

Now I know that I am not eating marscapone cheese in my tiramisu, but mascarpone! And for any Aussies (and Brazilians, and others) among us, isn't X'mas a summer day?

AGNUS DEIS was a terrible answer, IMO. Agnus Dei means "Lamb of God" - you don't just stick an "s" at the end to make the prayer plural. Let's see, DEIS would be the dative case, yes? So, now AGNUS DEIS would mean "Lamb to God"...

RADIO SHACKS were the go-to places for DIY/build-it-yourself ham radio operators. We mourn their passing.

As we approach the month of May, may everyone stay safe and engaged..."A time to heal..." as The Byrds sing.


Anonymous 7:38 AM  

As always, the Rex write-up much more entertaining the puzzle itself.

The puzzle: morning work-out session

The write-up: ice-cold soda after


mbr 8:01 AM  

@Vidiot - According to Merriam-Webster, liras is acceptable. OTOH the Italian plural of lira is lire.

CDilly52 8:22 AM  

@egsforbreakfast. Couldn’t agree more and we must all be permitted to rant or perhaps anti-rant when poor @Rex has forgotten what Sunday NYT puzzles are supposed to be. There is a time and place for exactly this style puzzle and the Sunday NYT has been and is (and I sincerely hope will always be) Sunday! If one disdains such whimsy and fun, one might happily skip the Sunday solve and invite a guest to blog.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

The expression is "couldn't care less", not "could care less". Otherwise enjoyed the trip through the tunnels. Rex has become a hater. Too bad.

pmdm 8:26 AM  

Seems the majority of comments give a thumbs up to the puzzle. So do I, even though after finishing about half of it I found the remaining entries quite difficult to fill in. I tend to like simple themes and the theme of this puzzle filled that bill perfectly for me.

About the write-up. If Mike Sharp, or anybody else, despises a puzzle, that is what that person should say. No problem there. That should take no more than a couple of sentences to say effectively. Going on and on and on seems a bit on the aggressive side of a passive-aggressive personality, or maybe a bit egotistical. Sometimes it can seem like one is complaining a bit too much and torturing out convoluted reasons to justifies one's vitriole. While I realize not everyone can be as positive as Lewis, there seems to be a line best not to cross. But such restraint is not what one finds on the Internet in general.

Good day this tail end of April. May May be a much, much better month. (And I'm not speaking of crossword puzzles.)

GILL I. 8:27 AM  

@Rex....I'm going to make a suggestion for you during these trying times. Make some bread. Most of what I make now is the no knead type but you can do it the old fashion way. Watch a Julia Child episode where she pounds the caca out of her dough. Man, she slams that thing down on her floured board like she wants to kill it with kindness. It should work wonders for your frustration.
Oh...the puzzle. I'm gonna say "cool beans." It was different and novel. There were a few words I didn't know: PAKULA, BILOXIMS VULGATE and I didn't know that ROLLING A CIGAR involved someone named Torcedores. I used to watch these toothless, old Cubans roll the H. Upmann's and the Cohiba's. The smell of hanging tobacco was intoxicating. All I wanted to do afterwards was eat arroz ALA Cubana and some pig at the ASADO.
I wouldn't know the difference between could care less and couldn't care less if you threw it at my face. I'm pretty sure both are acceptable now.
SWEET CAR OLINE.....immediately singing it at the top of my lungs.
Easy to suss this one out and I enjoyed it.
Air conditioner went out yesterday and we had temps in the 90's. So you see, @Rex....it can get worse!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

¡Ay, CARamba!, Rex. A bit too CARnivorous when going for Royce's CARotid today. Have a few sideCARs and quit yer CARping.

CDilly52 8:31 AM  

@Zeonkey. What a wonderful memory. One of my very favorite things about this blog is the fascinating people who contribute. Thanks for sharing this story!

pabloinnh 8:36 AM  

The upper NW (aka, "Start Here) was the last to fall for me, probably because I kept reading the "dos", as in hairdos, as "dos" as in two. They do two what? is all I could think. I'm blaming the other Spanish numbers up there. Also read, more quickly than I should have, toreadores, which annoyed me, because the term is "toreros", and I hate bullfights, and that bothered me enough that when ROLLACIGAR showed up I didn't even bother to reread the clue, which would have been helpful, because the verb to roll, in the sense of twisting, is "torcer", which would have made everything obvious, and that's a long enough sentence for now.

Got the CAR trick early and by the end of the puzzle I was tired of it. Sort of like having to finish all of my Halloween candy at once. Agree with the L-shaped tunnel problem. Otherwise some fun stuff and as usual, the things that drove OFL into unmitigated despair barely bothered me at all.

Congratulations on a very promising debut, RF. Curious to see what you'll come up with net.

ncmathsadist 8:38 AM  

Worst theme ever accompanied by really junky fill. Ugh. A @#$ slog.

Z 8:41 AM  

God Damn Robin woke me up, beating his horny little head into my sliding door because he thinks the reflection is another male and he wants to fight. End of civilization indeed.

@LMS - But it’s so much fun to reply “I could, too” in disagreement and have them not understand how wrong they are or that you just disagreed with them... Okay, I should be maybe a little less sarcastic.

All these arrows on the printed page, so I looked at 23D, wrote in OLINE, hoped to god in heaven that it wasn’t a damn NFL draft puzzle, and looked at 1A. The jig was up and I had five letters in the puzzle. Too soon after that I ran into EX-MARINERS and XMASES. Well, okay, replace “christ” with a chi, lots of historical precedence there, but two ughly plurals of convenience... somehow I doubt PAKULA ever did a movie with an XMAN and two EXMARINERS celebrating XMASES together. Ughly with a capital UGH and I’ve barely started. So color me gob-smacked with so many people loving this puzzle. Then again, a well done 21x21 like @Evan does over at WAPO often takes me two sittings to get through because even good ones feel kind of sloggy to me. The arrows made it too easy to see the conceit and the fill was ughsome, making this less than awesome.

BTW - not all TUNNELS are straight. I-40 in western North Carolina has three TUNNELS, they all curve.

As for the end of civilization discussion, let’s look at the difference between COULD CARE LESS, STEREOTYPIC, and GAYETY. The irony is that in the first case, a literal interpretation of what is being said is the exact opposite of the meaning, but everyone understands their meaning. On the other hand, if anyone uses the “more correct” latter two, everyone and their mother is going to go, “Wha...?” I suppose somebody writing steampunk might use GAYETY, but only to convey that their setting is anachronistic. In other words, the correct is incorrect because nobody ever uses the words while the incorrect is correct because everybody understands. Clearly, this is what ruined Rome.

@constructors- Ignore anyone telling you to ignore Rex. I get that he can be harsh, but paying attention to what he says will make you a better puzzle maker.

Mr. Horny Robin is back. Time to tape up some reflective tape to scare him away more permanently.

Nancy 8:41 AM  

The perfect trick puzzle. You can't make sense of it without knowing the trick, the trick is not all that easy to see, but once you get the trick, everything falls into place. And the trick turns out to be far simpler and more elegant than you imagined. What I imagined was some sort of spatial relations-oriented, positional puzzle of the type I can be so terrible at. Of the type I sometimes find painful. Instead it was just...CAR -- twisted into a whole bunch of different directions.

Many big "Ahas" during my solve -- the biggest being COULD [CAR]E LESS. I had been straining my little gray cells wondering how COULD could possibly be the answer to "doesn't give a hoot". Such a nifty surprise.

FLYING [CAR]PETS was fabulous too.

I see this is a debut puzzle. Wow! What a debut!!! Kudos, Royce!

Hungry Mother 8:42 AM  

I’ve been to BILOXIMS a few times, pre and post Katrina, but that was the last to fall in this one. The theme was fun to work out, but some of the fill was Saturdayish. A quick snort of Clorox get through to the end.

Anonymoose 8:47 AM  

@French 4:46. I'm sure @Rex will appreciate your advice on how to solve Xwords.

QuasiMojo 8:50 AM  

Somehow I managed to grow up as a baby boomer and totally miss out on Neil Diamond. All I could think of was "Sweet Adeline," maybe because my Dad loved the Mills Brothers.

Apparently a lady named Carolyn Wells wrote a book of poems called "Girls and Gayety" in 1913.

I'm with @Joe DiPinto. Where's this TUNNEL? Is it the one with the light at the end of it? I hope so because I can't see it here. As an EX-Bridge-and-Tunneler from Long Island, I can assure you there were no turns in the Midtown tunnel. We always took the Queensboro Bridge. It was free too.

That said, I still managed to beat my STEREOTYPIC time.

I hope whichever POL that ACID TONGUE clue was slated for is wearing a mask.

And maybe we can get him out of town faster come the fall ON AN ACELA.

kitshef 8:52 AM  

180 degrees from Rex on this one. Theme was special, of an inventiveness we see maybe twice a year, which more than made up for average fill.

Also, more difficult than the typical Sunday fill-in-the-blanks.

I did not like the reliance on questionable plurals, especially Radio Shacks, but my biggest issue is with TACO BAR, a thing I've never heard of but think I would love.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I didn’t find the puzzle particularly exciting but agree with those who found @Rex’s rant way over the top. However, one could certainly say it is STEREOTYPIC(al). A couple of points....

I’m not a fan of DEIS. But I can see a (somewhat tortured) usage. I grew up a Catholic and remember many penances that included “x Our FatherS” and “x Hail MaryS”. The Agnus Dei is a particular prayer in the Mass, and I can see it being referred to in that way as a plural. E.g., “How many Agnus DeiS did Bach compose?” Not great but possible in my view.

While I prefer “couldn’t care less,” I’ve come to find “could care less” as more acceptable as an ironic comment - equivalent to “like I care.’

— Jim C. in Maine

Suzie Q 9:02 AM  

Put me on the "thumbs up" team. The execution of the theme was impressive and entertaining. Great debut.
My first thought on the "Wish me luck" clue was "Hold my beer".
I'm also on the team that hates the could/couldn't thing.
Reviews like this one make me laugh at and cry for Rex. Can you imagine being cooped up with him? But maybe his day gets better after a good old stark-raving rant like today. I hope so for his wife's sake.
We finally got the OK for the yard crews to get back to work so the neighborhood came alive with the sound of lawn mowers. They usually annoy me but yesterday the noise was music to my ears.

OffTheGrid 9:04 AM  

I really like @Z's statement:

"@constructors- Ignore anyone telling you to ignore Rex. I get that he can be harsh, but paying attention to what he says will make you a better puzzle maker."

I am not a constructor but I value @Rex's insights that allow me to have a little understanding of the art of construction. He does not influence my level of puzzle enjoyment.

I really had fun today.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

@eggsforbreakfast I stand with you!

E.B. White 9:09 AM  

@ Joaquin 12;33am As bad as TROOPER for TROUPER.

Agnes Day 9:11 AM  

I could care less about Covid 19. But I don't. I care a great deal.

Frantic Sloth 9:13 AM  

This puzzle was a blast - I loved it! I started to grok the theme when I looked at SAM and PONE and literally thought to myself, "Funny. If I looked at SAM upside down and moved toward PONE along that arrow (which appears to be there for some reason...) I'd get MAScarPONE. Hmmph."
(Thought buries itself in a cranial unmarked grave and I move on.)

Next stop was the NW where the Neil Diamond song was completely blank, except for the T and for some reason SWEETCAROLINE popped into my head. Backing up over that grave, I stumbled over a trio of protruding letters and saw the CAR!

The rest was a toboggan ride down an icy hill until I George-of-the-Jungled that tree in the SE corner.

I'm writing this before reading Rex and the 'tariat, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that I won't be the only one who had a mini nightmare right smackin' there. Might even need to reboot that support group - this time for the shell-shocked of the SE corner. We shall see...

Babes in Toyland, Nits in shorthand:

FAHD - yeah, okay. Whatever, dude.
VULGATE - no idea, even with VULG in place. Guess I'm not God-dy enough.
POLITY - why that word? Marry POLIcY and POLITics and there's their devil spawn?
DOUG - lucky guess.
Torcedores - All I could think was "this one's gonna be a gimme for @GILL I and @pabloinnh", but not I.
FINAL - I had tItle
HAULS - I had toteS (big help, that "S")
COME - Couldn't decide if it was stay, heel, here, or even sitt before that stupid word. Does anybody even use that anymore?
STEREOTYPIC - can I call you [an] AL?? Please???

I had ACID_ _ _G_E, and don't ask me why I couldn't get ACIDdOgGiE out of the way. Perhaps it was that dang 108D clue.

There's no tellin'.

But, I (proudly) finished without "cheats" and that tells me a lot. A lot of "what?" I don't know.

Off to the real fun of all the reading!

What if... 9:18 AM  

Everyone thinks that Rex the solver rages against any puzzle that is non-straightforward enough to muck up his solving time.

But what if it's Rex the constructor who rages against against any puzzle by a newcomer that's more clever and original than any he has ever created in his life? What right does this newcomer have to have puzzles accepted when his own aren't?

I think if a bunch of shrinks got Rex on a couch, that's the conclusion they would reach.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

I loved this puzzle. From the time I started and was wondering what happened to the other part of Sweet Caroline, to finding it in the middle of the puzzle to the interesting clue at the end about the book with no Es. Seeing Car in the middle finally told me what to do with the other clues missing the letter car which I did not see until the word car in the middle. Very enjoyable and clever. Rex needs to stop doing the Sunday puzzle. He very rarely likes anything. Some Sunday, I would like him to link us to a few puzzles that he actually likes. I can not figure out what he wants.

Unknown 9:34 AM  

So sad that dear Rex just can't enjoy solving puzzles anymore. So glad he enjoys ranting at least enough to keep writing. I enjoy the column and the comments.

John R 9:34 AM  

I thought that "could care less" was wrong, but found the discussion in the Merriam Webster usage section interesting. It is worth looking at just to see the picture of the cat that they included. It inspired me to update my picture on this blog with a photo of my own cat's reaction to today's puzzle (assuming I can figure out how).

As was noted in the discussion earlier in the week, once enough people repeat the same "mistake" it becomes officially acceptable. Democracy in action!

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Disagree with Rex, thought this puzzle was great. Being from New England, got Sweet Caroline right off the bat and cheered to myself "you got it!" The arrows on the NY app were super helpful. Absolutely loved this puzzle!

Birchbark 9:47 AM  

I like BILOXI MS better than ERIE PA. In sooth, I also like ERIE PA.

Just think how much better it would read if Poe said "aught of the STEREOTYPIC" instead of "aught of the sublime" at the beginning of The Fall of the House of Usher.

@Zen Monkey (7:11) -- Nice PAKULA vignette. It humanizes a word I had stored in the crosswordese drawer, along with FAHD and the like. Sometimes what you find in that drawer has an interesting story.

Mary 9:48 AM  

I liked it a lot! Didn’t have to google anything so for me that was a win. Very clever construction. Great debut!

Mary 9:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 9:52 AM  

@lorenmusesmith 55 across?

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Do you know what the difference between neuropath and neurotic is? Neuropath thinks that 2 plus 2 is twelve. Neurotic knows that 2 plus 2 is four and it annoys him.

I am a neurotic. I know that language is a living thing and that rules and dictionaries just reflect the modern usage. But when that usage gets too far from what I think of as reasonable I am annoyed. And turning negative expression into a positive one without changing its meaning constitutes going too far to me.

Then again Lewis Carroll justly ridiculed problems with single negative rule: if I see nobody on the road it must mean that Nobody moves faster, than me, right?.. Natural languages are not logical, period.

RooMonster 10:09 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I'm thoroughly impressed by y'all who didn't need the arrows to figure it out. Wow! No way in the history of history I would've grokked theme without those helpers. Especially the "up" Downs that aren't clued as the Down word. Why aren't they? All the others are clued as what they are.

Having the arrows, was able to see the theme, and enjoyed the solve. There were some obscurities for me, but more often than not, my obscurities are y'alls gimmies. Had to Goog RITA, since Pop is not my preferred music. That NW section was a toughie! ESSIE unknown, don't use nail polish, ASSEENONTV tough to see (har), plus having HAIRStyers in (the ole brain thinking I wrote hairstylers in there), and toe for OAR (think about it), had me running to Goog for Ms. Ora. Got that whole area eventually.

SW put a bit of a fight, too. VULGATE new to me. Latin not at the forefront of my mind. EMAILS bounce? Sure...

Two-letter DNF today, had PEEkIN, giving me a SLUk for my musical arc (sounds fine to me!), And that mystery Y of POLITY/PSY. Had POLIT_, wanted O, or S, or A, or I. Humph.

I definitely wouldn't have liked this puz sans arrows. But as it is, this was a nice puz. Some odd clues and/or answers, but kept at it, and Almost There! 😁

Four F's

Lorelei Lee 10:12 AM  

@Joaquin, No, "could care less" did not bode the end of civilization as we know it. That would be the ruination of the pronoun phrase, as in, for example, "Me and my friend went to the store without a mask and bought some disinfectant and a shot glass."

hankster65 10:18 AM  

Loved this one. Very clever and enjoyable. More like this one please!

CS 10:24 AM  

Thumbs up for what @MikeinMountainView, @LMS, @Joaquin, @CDilly52, @eggsforbreakfast, and everyone else who liked this said.

Particularly want to underline what @FrenchinParis said:
" Perhaps if you took your time doing these puzzles rather than swallowing them in one big gulp you would enjoy them more?"

This is what I have always thought -- there is so much fun in savoring puzzles -- particularly Sunday ones -- and as others mentioned, I really like learning new words, people, and places. Although I mostly love doing puzzles for the challenge of figuring out the theme/gimmick/rebus trick, the additional benefits add to the pleasure. And I also get a lot out of the commenters here -- would be nice to have as robust a discussion group as this one without having to slog through the venom (constructive or polite criticism is fine).

We need more opportunities for joy these day!

Stay safe everyone

-- CS

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Here's an example of thinking a puzzle is absolutely wonderful, while still agreeing with some of the objections voiced here today:

@Joe D (4:17) and @webwinger (2:05) -- I agree that TUNNEL VISION adds nothing to the CAR revealer and doesn't make any sense visually. It should have been clued without mentioning the theme.

@Joe D (12:26) -- The upward-going answers probably should have been clued from the bottom. Question of the day: Would that have made the puzzle harder or easier? I frankly have no idea.
@Zen Monkey (9:47) -- What a wonderful memory of Alan J. PAKULA. He was one of the really great directors and I so envy you your job. I'm sure it wasn't as glamorous as it sounds, but then almost nothing ever is, right? Did you ever become a screenwriter, btw? Not an easy field to break through in, but then almost nothing ever is, right?

@Richard f8 (2:10) -- Oh, I don't know, Richard. I'd say it depends on whichever one of us croaks first :)

@What if? (9:18) -- Wonderful image of Rex lying on a couch surrounded by a team of shrinks. Wish I were a cartoonist.

Teedmn 10:25 AM  

This was fun, though I'm confused as to why some of the "legs" of the car answers had stand-alone answers (LAP dog, O-LINE) and others didn't (SAM, SID). Ah, now I see that at least one end had a true clue, and the other end was the CAR-containing clue. That makes sense now.

I liked the misdirection of 111A, where I kept trying to come up with a venom-spitting snake or frog. And "Having a fix" = CURABLE. XL SHIRT for the big frame (not vehicle- or art-related, har). I did not know AS SEEN ON TV came in red and white labels. EX MAnagER fits in at 9D. REIN is a belief in Buddhism and Hinduism (just kidding!)

89D though, ick. It should be COULDn't CARE a-LESS (you had to have the extra A in my hometown).

Royce Ferguson, great debut, thanks.

And @LMS, you're oh so right about any verbal directions to the dogs being anything but wishful thinking. Only the sled brake could command their attention. After mushing trip, I was on the single-person sled that had three dogs pulling. While waiting for the dogs to be unharnessed, I was kind of daydreaming. One of the other teams started a ruckus and my dogs lurched forward. I was knocked off the brake and the fur began flying and the dog handlers gave me really dirty looks, oops, my bad. Everyone should go up to Ely, MN and let a dog team pull you around the north woods.

Granny Smith 10:32 AM  

I can almost (almost, not quite) live with "me and my friend" because endless numbers of well-meaning teachers correcting to "my friend and I" has resulted in "Give my friend and I some Lysol with which we can inject ourselves." I sometimes reply, "Who is I?"

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I thought this was a fun Sunday puzzle! It took me a while to figure out the theme, but then once I did it helped me finish...which is what makes it enjoyable for me. I did think TUNNEL VISION was stretching it a bit, and frankly wasn't needed.

@lms I went and found your 2012 puzzle and totally get the relevance...I haven't read the ELESS book but I can't even imagine the challenge. My last sentence alone has seventeen of those suckers.


B Right There 10:39 AM  

Definitely in the I LIKED IT camp! Finally a joyful Sunday puzzle! Was simply amazed at the art of construction here. The symmetry; the ability of the CAR---- words to stand alone; the very low bit of dreck to make it all work. Simply wonderful! Thank R.F. My faith in Sunday NYXWs is shored up again (until the next one with '16th century Flemish painter's brother' and 'opera soprano from a century ago' and 'rapper album name with f**ked-up spelling' brings me back to reality).

TJS 10:40 AM  

WELL, WHERE THIS ONE WAS GOOD, IT WAS PRETTY GOOD, BUT WHERE IT WAS BAD IT WAS AWFUL. Whoops, didn't realize caps lock was on but the hell with it. A Sunday where I had to stop and think, so I'll take it but I agree with someone up there; so many spots where I was thinking "please don't , please don't... he did." Rex listed just about everything I hated.

Wonder what is so special about Ibiza nightlife to separate itself from that of any other Caribbean island. Of course there is no nightlife anywhere now, and very little daylife.

So an "arc" is a "slur". New solvers, you do not have to commit that to memory.

Blue Stater 10:43 AM  

This puzzle is definitely in the running for WOAT, as Rex points out in more depth and detail than I could even imagine. Unimaginably bad. Yes, egsforbreakfast, we solve these puzzles for fun/diversion/relation, but crossword is a rules-based game, and Rule One is that solutions have to be linguistically and factually correct. Cluing PSY as a “humanities dept.” breaks both parts of that rule (PSYCH and “social science.”). If someone can cite even one college or university where psychology is organized with the humanities, I’ll make a meal of these words, but I think I'm safe. And that’s not the only howler in this mess. Particularly for a Sunday, a terrible puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 10:49 AM  

Okay, so I'm the only idiot who had that much trouble in the SE corner. No support group.
Not sure how I would have fared without the arrows (Hi, @Roo!)...probably wouldn't have been pretty. Not Roo - the solve.

I did foresee the whole could/couldn't care less debate though. My take is similar to that of @Anonymous/Jim C in Maine 856am and I've been working very hard at trying to convince myself that "could care less" is meant as sarcasm/irony.

It's been years, though - and without much success. :(

And while I mostly disagree with Rex (except for some of the fill, which I mainly ignored because I enjoyed the theme so much [hi, LMS!]) I don't see the purpose of fighting his crank with still more crank.

But that's just me.

@John R 934 - Love your picture, your cat, and your clipboard - I think I own one that's similar.

As @Nancy 1025am points out, there are aspects of the various criticisms here that I agree with. (With which I agree?) But, again, see previous lines about my ignoring them.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Remarkable that a person who claims to care so much about crossword puzzles, is so quick to trash the very people who construct them.

Royce, if you read this, keep up the good work. I appreciate these daily diversions, thanks to people like you.

Rex, if you read this, you should be ashamed of yourself; what a jerk.....

Eddie 10:50 AM  

The theme I was fine with. It was fancier than normal with the tunnel and for the most part was basically fine. I like that both parts of the theme answer were real words. I didn't like that the up answers caused them to be backwards, but that's my issue.

Now, what I hated was some of the fill. This puzzle had some BAD fill, embarrassingly bad. To me, the most egregious was XMAN crossing with XMASES. I've never seen X-Men in the singular form. The less said about XMASES, the better. The plurals on Radio Shack and Lira were lazy/awful too. BILOXIMS was also not good. So was EXMARINERS. I wasn't in love with ARABIA or STEREORTYPIC either. The constructor was forcing things way too much to make his puzzle fit. I agree with the poster who said that OBITS should have had briefly or in short or something like that on it. There were some decent clues but they were overshadowed by this very bad fill.

John R 10:53 AM  

I tried to post a link to the Merriam Webster article on usage of "could care less" but it didn't work. Can anyone tell me the correct way to add a link? I looked at the source for other links in this blog and saw an HTML tag with <a and href= , but it never showed up.


trebore 10:59 AM  

Una lira, due lire

Rube 11:02 AM  

Right on @joaquin. If I can care less then I must give a hoot...half a hoot? .... a part of a hoot?

Joe Dipinto 11:09 AM  

@John R – if you email me via my profile I'll send you the formula.

Dragoncat 11:12 AM  

I liked it.got the gimmick fairly quickly. I agree some of the answers are terrible but I’m actually a little tired of Rex hating everything. Every.Single. Puzzle. Tiresome.

BobL 11:12 AM  

A great debut! That was an hour's worth of enjoyment. I ---------- care less what Rex thinks.

Thymeout 11:14 AM  

Given that we are quarantined and impatient, I find that anything that tries my patience..well tries my patience. So, sigh, maybe I just want more fun and fewer trick/groaner clues. Got the theme immediately even though I've never been a Neil Diamond fan. Turn, turn, turn was okay and didn't at all mind the upside-down arrangements. Still...turn, turn, turn? I was hoping for something more musical and nostalgic than a simple slur of words.

Grouch 11:15 AM  

Me liked today's puzzle. It was fun for I. Awful, right? Yet "Joe and me liked today's puzzle", and "It was fun for Joe and I" have become acceptable.

Z 11:20 AM  

I can accept “I enjoyed the theme and some of the fill so much that I didn’t notice the dreck.” or even “...so the dreck was worth it.” But if you really think this puzzle is dreck free all I can conclude is that you didn’t look very closely.
BTW - interesting top hits when the search term is STEREOTYPIC. I didn’t not know of that disorder. A rare variant or as used in medicine that might not pass some people’s breakfast test? Tough call. Thank god Poe went with “sublime.”

@John R. - Thanks for the suggestion about the Merriam-Webster discussion. That’s a fun read. Still chuckling at the “Can we care fewer?” subtitle. But did you look at the examples?
”I couldn’t care less,” responded Miss Mond lightly.
”Ectulleh!” exclaimed Mr. Faille, trying to keep the venom out of his voice.
— The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, MO), 25 Jan. 1942

I searched for “ectulleh” and the three hits all reference this exact quote. I oh so want to exclaim “Ectulleh!” while trying to keep the venom out of my voice.

xyz 11:23 AM  

GREAT puzzle? No, but not bad, methinks Rex protests far too loudly.

Large format puzzles induce ugliness by their nature, I don't care for them on the whole, but I am doing them lately as I can only play so much golf and have the time to do them.

On the easy side except for the few really forced contrivances one expects on a Sunday NYT/LAT/Sat WSJ

Wayne 11:25 AM  

Today’s was a delightfully different challenge for a Sunday. Other constructors are sure to notice this clever puzzle. Kudos to Royce Ferguson for his crossword debut. I hope he makes a lot more.

Another Anon 11:27 AM  

You're a jerk!

Jon in St Paul 11:28 AM  

Mostly agree with the crowd on this - I mostly enjoyed the puzzle. Yes there was some garbage. GAYETY is ridiculous, and STEREOTYPIC is ridiculouser. There were a few other stinkers too. But I liked the little tunnels, and I sort of liked some of the answers that drove Rex crazy. EXMARINERS made me feel baseball smart, and MAKESALIST is very much not EATASANDWICH. Bad Sundays always generate that long slog feeling. This one never did.

BillT 11:30 AM  

@Joaquin, I was also bothered by this. In a theme entry no less. Here's an interesting video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

Z 11:31 AM  

@John R - Since you know enough to look at the source code I’ll give you a couple hints that should be enough. The URL has to be between quote marks and make sure you’re not using smart quotes.
" works
“ doesn’t.
The open tag is everything from “a” to the close quote mark, so the brackets have to be around all that. The close tag comes after the text you want to appear.
replace the O with < and the C with > and the this is how the tag looks.
Oa href="URL"CText you want to appearO/aC

If you preview your comment and messed up Blogger will give you an error message.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Rex tends to babble, but I tend to agree with him. N.Y.T. Sunday puzzles used to be fun,
but they've been getting rather pffffffffft.

Ciclista21 11:34 AM  

This one really lands with a thud. Worst Sunday puzzle I’ve seen in a month of XMASES.

The theme itself is clever, but the execution falls flat. I don’t mind having to read some down answers up, as in SAM = MAS, in order to get MAS(CAR)PONE. We’ve experienced many puzzles where answers had to be entered backwards or upside down. But it’s awkward to read part of an answer in the normal order and part backwards. The cluing feels awkward, too. One part of the answer – PONE, for example – is clued, while the other is not. There should be a more elegant way of getting to the whole answer that still acknowledges both parts. That, however, would involve more care in the constructing and editing than is evident here.

Besides the weirdly plural XMASES, other ick factors, some already mentioned by Rex and other commenters, include:

AGNUS DEIS. OK, it could happen. Mozart and Bach and Palestrina and many other composers wrote settings of the prayer known as AGNUS DEI, so you could imagine a collection of these prayers as AGNUS DEIS. But a good editor would rewrite any sentence such a clumsy obscurity would occur in.

LIRAS. More clumsiness. Sure, you can find this Anglcized plural of LIRA in the dictionary, but it’s coins, not a particular currency or denomination of coins, that were (and are) thrown into the Fontana Trevi. You might have nickels and dimes and quarters in your pocket. If you threw a few of them into the fountain, would you say you had thrown dollars? No, you tossed coins. It’s the same for Italians. They tossed monete, not lire.

ARABIA. Ack. We just had the British Raj in India a day or so ago. Now we have the colonial view of another large chunk of the world. It’s the Arabian Peninsula nowadays. But if you have a taste for yesteryear, Peter O’Toole on horseback and all that, you might still call it Arabia. Maybe your magical (and conveniently plural FLYING CARPETS) can take you there.

GAYETY and STEREOTYPIC. Please. More laziness or clumsiness or both. Neither the constructor nor the editor could make real words work, so they just let these pass and said, Oh, well, look how cute the rest of the puzzle is!

COULD CARE LESS. Enough has already been said about this variant phrase, which loses its meaning when it loses its “not.” Regardless, it certainly sums up my feelings about this puzzle. Bah.

Michael 11:37 AM  

I completely disagree with Rex. I think this was one of the most enjoyable recent Sunday puzzles I have done. One quibble -- Psychology is hardly ever regarded by its practitioners as a humanity. In my university, the department is (mistakenly in my view) classified among the science departments. The department not long ago changed its name to "psychology and brain science."

chuck w 11:38 AM  

I've always thought "I could care less" was sarcastic.

QuasiMojo 11:38 AM  

@ZenMonkey, let me join the chorus in thanking you for your story about working with Alan Pakula. I always liked his movies and wondered what he might have given us if he hadn't had that awful accident. I met his wife Hannah Pakula, a noted writer, once at a dinner party in New York. She was charming and kind and quite pretty. They were a "power couple" who never acted like one.

John R 11:44 AM  

Thank you to @Joe Dipinto and @Z for the HTML tutorial. Since Z already included the link in his post, I won't try again today. I'll save the email from Joe and try again the next time the need arises.

Carola 11:46 AM  

Telegram from Sequester Station 5370: Nifty theme, lovely grid, tough cluing, almost ran out of gas.

guy with a fake name 11:47 AM  

i’ve done a few of your puzzles, rex, and this tops them all. also, your blog is neither informative, nor clever, nor entertaining. good day.

Jstarrracewalker 11:49 AM  

And if you dare to suggest to the speaker that “you mean you could NOT care less”, bad things happen: the speaker either has no idea what you are talking about or is highly insulted, and you immediately wish you had not spoken,

Lewis 11:50 AM  

@Z -- I am so with you regarding "ectulleh". I can't find its meaning anywhere, but man, I may use it anyway!

Z 11:50 AM  

More on “Ectulleh” - Three hits when I searched. The Merriam-Webster article and two websites where somebody “corrected” I COULD CARE LESS and somebody corrected the correcter by copy and pasting the entire Merriam-Webster article (they both cited M-W, my kind of correcter correcters, making them correcter correcters in my opinion - If they had included the cat they would have been the correctest correcters).
How long before these comments become the fourth hit on the Ectulleh search page? Just remember, if you use “ectulleh” be sure to keep the venom out of your voice.

Joaquin 11:56 AM  

@BillT (11:30) - Very cool link but, alas, it is a battle that the language purists have lost. Well, gotta run now. Hope you'll hold (down) the fort while I'm away.

Unknown 12:02 PM  

118 across...(Psy)chology is a Social Sciences field, not a Humanities field

Unknown 12:08 PM  

And don't forget the death of cursive writing, and penmanship in general.

Big Papi 12:09 PM  

The engineer who designed these tunnels is the same one who was in charge of the Big Dig in Boston.

Newboy 12:12 PM  

Wow, 112 comments before I arrive! And I haven’t even read Rex, let alone the commentariat. Do you guys sleep? Have a secret access code to solve while watching SNL? Whatever, I am impressed.

Sort of a one trick pony today. Once the auto emerged from the tunnel, it was pretty clear sailing even on an iPad without the roadmap of arrows for guidance. Lone nit and final holdup for the day was 118A. Psychology, though it deals with human behaviors, is NOT most often seen as a humanities. Dr. Wikipedia observed, “As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups.”

@Z 12:19 yesterday Thanks for the bluegrass link; those boys do some fine fretwork don’t they? I never got good enough to call myself a distant cousin of Earl Scruggs, but enjoyed massacred passes along Cripple Creek before Rheumatoid thumbs decreed the five string staycationing in its case. Metal Bluegrass seems a perfect blend for an open eared listener.

Be safe and sane y’all

Danny and Rachel 12:12 PM  

We somehow didn't see that CAR ran through every one of the themers. Would have solved much faster had we seen that.

egsforbreakfast 12:17 PM  

@TJS 10:40. One think that separates the nightlife of Ibiza from that of any other Caribbean island is that it is in the Mediterranean.

JC66 12:18 PM  

I don't normally comment on @Rex's posts, but I thought he overdid the negativity today.

@Joe D

Thanks for pinch-hitting. ;-)

Christopher Jones 12:19 PM  

If we are getting nit-picky a real Spanish girlfriend is a "novia" and NOT "amiga", which is just a friend. I grinded through this puzzle in over an hour and pretty much just wanted to get it finished.
Finishing a Sunday NYT crossword used to feel like such an accomplishment to me but now, it's just.....a drag most of the time. Stodgy, old white guy puzzles with not much else.

Wayne Rhodes 12:19 PM  

Totally agree!

Pamela 12:21 PM  

I found the puzzle difficult, but liked the theme well enough once I figured it out- SWEET -OLINE for CAR, MAS -PONE for reading in the right direction. Lots of struggles on the way, though. The puzzle started to open up for me in the middle, and for a while I was stuck on 83D. I was sure the cross was IRESIGN, but really wanted riD DING until heading back up north and getting my Aha moments.

@TJS- As an amateur violinist, the first word I filled in was SLUR. In musical notation, an arc spread over a group of notes means that they are either slurred or tied, and to be played without a break between them. I’m supposed to play them on one bow stroke, not separately.

Got stuck on 74 and 75D- banned aid locked Band Aid into my brain, and it took a while to get it out. Otherwise, lots of clever clues, some awful, nothing that hasn’t been said before more than once. A slog, but also enjoyable.

KarMur 12:27 PM  

A single torcedore can ROLL A CIGAR.
Multiple torcedores would roll multiple cigars.
The clue should have used the singular.

Norm 12:40 PM  

This was a very fun puzzle, and I feel sorry for Rex that he couldn't enjoy it. Yeah, the plural RADIO SHACKS and the odd STEREOTYPIC sucked, but I loved the clues for FEEDER and PRELIMS, and I really liked solving in AcrossLite without the arrows -- and without a clue to what was going on since I avoid reading a Notepad thingie until I'm done as a matter of principle. As far as I knew, Neil Diamond could have had a hit titled SWEET and I was baffled and leaving empty spaces until I got to FLYING, which was very near the CAR that Rex thought redundant, and went, "wait, didn't I just fill in PETS a moment ago?" For me, this was the "aha moment" puzzle of the year.

Ann Hedonia 12:41 PM  

This was yet another crappy Sunday puzzle. I wonder why I bother. It IS joyless. Life is joyless enough without extra joylessness.

Newboy 12:42 PM  

@LMS (3:27 A.M. see my previous query??) Berry puz is getable in Across Lite app as a download from xwordinfo NYT archives (second choice in left box menu). You probably need to next click the drop down menu in the upper left to open a text box that allows mo/date/year format entries—easier to use than to describe unfortunately . Maybe @cj66 can give a hot link?

Z 12:42 PM  

@Newboy - There’s a slew of albums of bluegrass artists covering rock and pop albums. I have Barenaked Ladies, Wilco, Modest Mouse, and Pink Floyd, but there’s more out there. Then there’s Alison Krauss working with Robert Plant and Elvis Costello’s Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane. And of course there’s Steve Martin bringing local faves Steep Canyon Rangers to a wider audience. Makes me want to listen to some other local folk do a classic and maybe also them getting topical.

RooMonster 12:43 PM  

So, the "up" Downs couldn't have been clued as the actual word, because then the theme answer wouldn't have made sense. Maybe double clue it? Something like Actor Caesar/Thrown away or a play on that. Just sayin'.

@Frantic Sloth
How'd you know? Har. I never considered myself all that pretty. Maybe I should start polishing my nails.

@Everyone -
It's @egsforbreakfast, one G, y'all are writing eggs, not sure if it's Auto-Corrupt or not.

This was a debut, but doubtful it was the constructors first submission, and definitely not his first ever made puz. (At least I hope not!) (Or, could explain my rejections!)

BILOXIMS looks like "Things said only in Mississippi" - BILOXISMS.

@Everyone -
Unfortunately, I don't see Biden as having a chance to beat Trump. Too many Rah-Rah Trump-is-the-best Republicans out there. Plus, Biden is incomprehensible most of the time! Not good.

RooMonster Talking Points Guy

Richard Gross 12:45 PM  

C’mon, Rex — you make Andy Rooney sound like Mr. Rogers. Lighten up. I had a good time!

CuppaJoe 12:48 PM  

Well, alrighty, this is the one where I finally felt comfortable solving a Sunday puzzle. Enjoyed it and got the car idea early on even though the aging Neil Diamond fan in me was slow to remember Caroline’s name. I literally found his music in 1967 when a nearby record shop was tossing out his albums for lack of sales.

G. Weissman 12:50 PM  

Any of you ever encounter a tunnel with a ninety-degree turn in the middle?

POLS crossing POLITY — not good. YEOW not good.

Was fine to solve with my mother and brother over FaceTime, but not a great puzzle.

jberg 12:55 PM  

I enjoyed this. The printed puzzle in the Sunday magazine has arrows, which made it too easy, I thought; but I also thought it might be too hard without them. But since several of you mention solving it without them, I think that would have made it better. You already know from the title that there are going to be turns involved.

The in-the-magazine version also included an introductory note about the constructor, which says that he got the idea for this one while visiting Switzerland, "a nation known for its 47-acrosses," so I'm guessing he started out with the idea of tunnels with CARs in them, then thought it would be even better if it also involved turns -- so it is, but the tunnels became less relevant.

I think how you care less is a regional thing. In NE Wisconsin, where I grew up, I heard only "I couldn't care less;" but here in Boston no one says that, it's always "I could care less!" I've learned to accept it.

As for Me and X, I refer you to this great song by Huddy Ledbetter. He talks for about a minute before he starts singing, but wait it out, it's worth your time.

The one problem the constructor didn't solve was how to clue both SAM and SID while also cluing the tunnel answer. I guess having a number with its own clue in the bottom square would work, but would be sort of clunky. And since they aren't clued at all, you can't do it cryptic-style by saying, say, "It's up to your uncle" for SAM. Another thing I think we just have to accept.

The problem with AGNUS DEIS is the clue. If you clue it as a part of masses by many composers, it works.

Calling PSY a humanities discipline is flat-out wrong, though.

Has Rex dropped his FAQ page? That's where I learned how to embed links--but now I don't see it. Oh, wait -- it's in the menu bar on top.

Joe Dipinto 12:58 PM  

@JC66 – Well after all, I learned from the best.

@Rex, you need to heed Andy Williams:

There'll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There'll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago

Multiple Christmases! They exist!

Andrew Heinegg 12:59 PM  

This was, as almost always (no one is perfect), terrific. An avatar with an amusing (much needed) connection to the puzzle; My personal favorite is the sled dog verbiage splanning.

I do disagree with your could and could not perspective. When I hear someone using incorrect case as in I being used where me is correct, I notice it but, would never dream of correcting the person. Ditto for the could/could not care business;

However, just because I would not correct the person and understand what they mean, that does not mean, for me, that I think it is a positive evolutive thing for language expressions to not mean what the words themselves express. In fact, I challenge you to a duel to resolve the issue. This has to be taken care of.

Unknown 1:00 PM  

Yep. I generally like Thursday Friday Saturday best, but this was way better then the average Sunday puzzle. Well done

Lynx 1:05 PM  

Guess I'm in the minority of commenters, did not like. I had stopped doing the NYT crosswords for a few months because they felt mostly sloggy, but hey, running out of things to do on quarantine, so decided to give this one a go. Anyone who does karaoke will immediately get SWEET CAROLINE and the theme. Got about halfway or more through and stopped, just too dull.

Glad to see so many fans, though (really!) because I respect the challenge of puzzle constructing.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

I’m with those who think Rex needs either to stop reviewing Sunday puzzles or take a vacation. Or both. This was fun, clever and (for me) relatively challenging. Two thumbs up!

Alan_S. 1:10 PM  

I only do the Sunday Magazine puzzles and therefore only come here on Sundays, so I must ask; Is Rex always this full of hate or is it only on Sunday (themed) puzzles?

I kinda liked this one with one glaring exception;
Last time I checked, CRIBs, other than some certain potentially dangerous models, we’re not banned as the clue suggests and thus it made a mess of that whole section. Unless I’m reading the clue wrong, in which case, can someone explain it to me?

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

But @Ann, will you ever enjoy a puzzle?

amyyanni 1:20 PM  

Royce, you had me at 1A. My cat's name is Caroline because I have been a Red Sox fan since the days of Carl Yastrzemski. This was fun, a good challenge not so overly cute/clever as become annoying. Congratulations and please, create more puzzles!

LeAnne 1:24 PM  

I thought it was a clever puzzle for a first-timer. If you have to criticize so harshly, why bother to do them in the first place? They're supposed to be for FUN.

Frantic Sloth 1:25 PM  

@Z and whoever else
How would you define and, perhaps more importantly, pronounce "ectulleh"? I'm considering using it - replete with venom. ;)

Aelurus 1:27 PM  

When I first saw this I thought, What fresh hell is this! But this puzzle turned out to be lots of fun. Got the first themer at SWEET CAROLINE, then looked for the “car” clue. Favorite clue 77A, “A hot one can burn you,” MIC; had tip at first. Also loved 48D, FLYING CARPET. Wondered about the location of the numbering for up-answers like DISCARDING, MASCARPONE. Seems better on the “M” and “D”? But I guess that would break an unbreakable crossword construction rule that I don't know.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

When I read a nasty review like the one Rex posted today, I imagine him reclining in a robe on a chaise longue with the puzzle on a clipboard and a sneer locked on his face, while an assistant cowers nervously in the background, occasionally dropping a peeled grape into his mouth.

Writer, Rejected 1:31 PM  

I liked it.

Carola 1:33 PM  

@Alan_S, 1:10 - CRIB is another name for a cheat sheet...something to help you on an exam.

ghthree 1:33 PM  

In the summer of 1957, my bride Jane and I were chattin' in Manhattan with her aunt Betty. When Betty said "I could care less," I sensed from her voice that she meant the opposite. I thought "That means you do care at least a bit. Are you being ironic, or just thinking carelessly?"

Out of deference to her age and reputation, I kept quiet and changed the subject.
Later, Jane and I traded opinions and agreed that
1: Betty was not being ironic, just illogical.
2: I was right to keep my silence.

Today, Jane and I are still together. We agree that
1: "I could care less" meaning its opposite is still illogical.
2: It's now definitely "in the language."
3: ALAS!

I note with approval that most of today's commentators agree with Rex on that issue. Including the ALAS!
I also note that most people disagreed with Rex on his other comments. Most enjoyed it.

Vidiot 1:35 PM  

Ah, good point!

LIRAS still not a thing.

jae 1:40 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - I had many of the same problems in the SW as you did, but I was too lazy to enumerate them all. Tough corner!

@Pabloinnh - my first thought for the CIGAR answer was bull fight, and I didn’t misread the clue. Again, tough SW corner.

pabloinnh 1:52 PM  

Hey @JoeD-

Perhaps even a little more famously:

May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your CHRISTMASES be white.

My seasonal greetings for people I care about usually include, "May your friends be merry and bright".

Like a lot of folk who comment here.

jae 1:53 PM  

Arrrgh that should be SE corner.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I liked this puzzle--thought the car entries were clever and the puzzle as a whole challenging. I didn't know 90A, ASADO and somehow thought 70A, demerit, was "carding," as in carding a player in soccer, sort of a demerit. Thus stumped by 83D, throwing away--SIX, as in deepsixing, or SIC, as in leaving a text as it was, throwing it off instead of improving it? Only when checking all the CAR entries at very end did I see the obvious, discarding.

I actually liked the clue for 172A, OBITS. Where else in journalism is a *news* item written in advance? I once spoke with a professor in NYC who said he had just been interviewed by the NY Times. He laughed and he said he knew the purpose--he was being interviewed for his obituary. Since the journalist has to hope for his or her subject's death, these interviews must be awkward! Hence there are crocodile tears or a crocodile smile from the journalist. In Italy and perhaps the US the file for obituaries is called the "crocodile file." Italians have even invented a verb, coccodrillare, to "crocodile" someone, to interview him or her for an obituary.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Aelurus 2:09 PM  

@ghthree - Wonderful post.

@jae - Didn't know the word "torcedores" and also thought it might have something to do with bulls,"toros," but wouldn't fit. When I got "roll a cigar with only R-LL----AR, I laughed.

@pabloinnh - Love your greeting "May your friends be merry and bright." I may steal it.

Oh Please 2:10 PM  

Some of us are just easily amused. I loved the arrows and car-is-in-a-tunnel foolishness. I found the puzzle fairly easy.

(But I am another old person who cringes at "I could care less.")

grampa 2:17 PM  

This bothered me too - I was stuck for awhile with NOVIA stubbornly standing its ground. “Spanish girl friend” (2 words) would be an acceptable clue for AMIGA, but “Spanish girlfriend” implies a romantic relationship. Cut-and-dry, the translation for that is the former term. Another bad hint in a poorly-edited puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 2:17 PM  

@Pablo – oh duh. Not "perhaps".

And what a nice compliment for the commentariat.

Swagomatic 2:21 PM  

I liked it, and finished more quickly than average. No complaints, two pencils up.

Aelurus 2:24 PM  

@pabloinnh - Make that: May I steal it?

Rique Beleza 2:50 PM  

Maybe that it’s in the Mediterranean?

Andrew S 2:57 PM  

It's about time someone said this

Barbara S. 2:59 PM  

Wow, 158 comments by 2:45 p.m. (EDT). Last Sunday had only 149 in toto.

I liked this, but did get messed up in a couple of areas. I trotted out our old comrades, the Tsars, for "Bygone kings" at 1D, which prevented me from seeing SWEET... at first. (Are there really no shahs left in the world? At all?)

107A I also made the wrong assumption about "torcedores," and for one brief but horrible moment thought their skill was to ROLL A steeR.

And then on the West coast, I had trouble with three interlocking answers:
90A South American barbeque ASADO,
69D It stops at Union and Penn Station ("Lead us not into Penn Station," as someone quoted the other day) ACELA
Those two, ASADO and ACELA, are words I didn't know (but am glad to learn), and
77A A hot one can burn you MIC. I didn't understand this answer as I was solving, but it's just occured to me that it must be a microphone that's been left on and catches a speaker unawares.

42D I thought Helen Keller's teacher was mostly referred to as ANNiE Sullivan, but I see her wikipedia entry calls her ANNE. Maybe it was just the play/film.

78A I liked the clue for BADGES "Stars in western movies, e.g."

OK, see ya, off to DRESS my SCREWY PET NEWT, DOUG.

Ernonymous 3:08 PM  

I wasn't thrilled with the clue for PAISAN. It doesn't mean friend, it never did, yet it is in the dictionary as friend. Another example of an incorrect dictionary entry that Will likes for a clue. The dictionary has a partial meaning. PAISAN means fellow countryman and is always said in a friendly way. If you had a friend from another country than you, you would never call him a PAISAN to mean your friend. It can mean friend but only as "friend from my country". @joe dipinto is my PAISAN, @Z is not.

NY Composer 3:10 PM  

What Rex said

DigitalDan 3:15 PM  

Not a fan of the anglicized DEIS. For anyone who has taken Latin, this is kind of a slap in the face. On the other hand, Bernstein had a lot of fun in his "Mass" with words that are spelled the same in English and Latin but have different meanings. Amazing work.

Seems like Rex might want at least to check the NYT native app. for visual cues, so that he can mention the help in the write-up. Clearly this would have been much more annoying if you didn't know where the gimmicks were.

DigitalDan 3:17 PM  

By the way, I thought "ROLL A CIGAR" was going to be "KILL A TIGER", and was appalled.

albatross shell 3:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 3:26 PM  

Just want to jump on the band wagon for the archived puzzle of April 1. 2002. So clever!

Z 3:41 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 1:25 - I don’t know and I don’t know. All I know is that when you say it try to keep the venom out of your voice.

@ghthree 1:33 - Hand up for also liking your story.

Lots of complaints about the 90° turn in the TUNNELS. Just because you ain’t seen one don’t mean it ain’t a thing. It helps if you set that page to satellite view. That’s eastbound I-40 taking pretty close to a 90° turn as it tunnels through the mountain.

@TJS - Wow, only two corrections. I say something absolutely correct and verifiable and I get 4 corrections. You need to work on that my friend.

@Giovanni - I’m crushed. I’m kidding of course. In Shortz’ defense I think Americans have appropriated the word and dropped the nuanced distinction. We’re like that, stealing words like “tamale” and adding an S because we don’t care/know about its linguistic roots.

What? 3:43 PM  

I’m with Rex. The theme is ok but easy once I got SWEET CAROLINE and METACARPAL but the fill was awful.
ASKS TO - to what?
TUNNEL VISION - 90 degree turns in black squares?
STEREOTYPIC - is this a word?
ADADO - who would know this?
EMAILS - things that can bounce? I guess there are no other definition.
XMASES - some wordes can’t be pluralized this way
LIRAS - don’t exist. LIRAES - this neither
Where were the editors? I’ve heard Shortz has a large backlog of Sunday puzzles. Puzzling.

Masked and Anonymous 3:58 PM  

day-yum … M&A's early solvequest looked almost exactly like @RP's solvequest, in the early-goin nanoseconds. Only thing different was that I saved ELROY & SYNE for a little later on.

Not quite funny enough a theme to sustain the sparkle for a whole ginormous solve, at our house. Kinda different, tho … so I'll give it that. Like some of the 165+ others that have already graced the Comment Gallery, I like the dark one-way tunnels with cars in them ok … but sounds dangerous to have a sharp turn in the middle of a dark tunnel. Must have lotsa bashes in them tunnels, along the walls. SCREWY.

Had a pause in our smokin-hot progress at the VULGATE/DOUG/POLITY/ACIDTONGUE grid-lock zone. Wasn't really expectin somethin like whatever POLITY is to be crossin POLS, in any case. Unless POLITY means somethin entirely un-related, like "rule by chickens", or somesuch.

fave Ow de Speration: XLSHIRT & XMASSES. X marked the spots. Logic(al) continuation [yo, @STEREOTYPIC], to be inherited by some future puz: XLGREENSHIRT. har. I want to go to there. @RP would maybe be driven to chuggin toilet bowl cleaner [don't do it, tho -- let Trump try it out, first].

staff weeject pick [Please - No Wagering] …
CAR. You see, M&A had this vision flash before him, while in a zigzaggy tunnel …

Thanx, Mr. Ferguson. And congratz on yer debut. Really liked the IRESIGN entry [passin that on, from a few friends at the White House]. Dovetails real nicely with its symmetric(al) entry.

Masked & Anonymo11Us



Sorry Rex - I liked it and barely had to "cheat" at all.

David 4:11 PM  

Joe D: yes, the acrostic was tough today, words one would rarely find in the same sentence had me scratching my head. It was a lot more fun for me than the crossword.

Both the print and the electronic Times gave up the theme on first glance. That rather ruined the solve for me. 1A, "oh, Sweet Caroline and the "car" goes under the black squares. Hey, thanks NYTXP! You just solved the whole dang thing for me." By the way, does anybody else think Neil's story about writing that after seeing Caroline Kennedy being sad at her dad's funeral is a bit creepy?

Look at the night and it don't seem so lonely
We filled it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holding you

Did he just make that story up on some talk show when he was asked who Caroline is for the billionth time? I hope so.

Hand up for "couldn't care less" here. I figure the opposite phrase is a regionalism or something.

Coins before Lira because the song and, as pointed out already, liras is just made up.

I imagine Rex' rant on 9D would have been 100 times more head exploding if it had been clued, "Old tenant of Sailors' Snug Harbor."

I liked the cluing except on Biloxi MS. I mean yeah, pick a random town where there's some gambling going on. Kind of winced at "gayete" also. Overall a good, fun Sunday for me; except for the arrows. Thumbs down there.

It's too bad you've no use for Perec, Rex. How about the other Oulipians?
Sometimes constraints in writing can be a good thing.

pabloinnh 4:21 PM  


Glad you liked it, and no, you may not steal it, but you can have it. Sounds like we're both lucky enough to have some deserving friends.

Geezer 4:29 PM  

How about you stop reviewing Rex's reviews or take a vacation? He's much easier to endure than your constant sniping.

Birchbark 4:57 PM  

@Carola (11:46) -- I like your "Telegram from Sequester Station 5370." It reminded me of the cold-war nuclear submarine thriller, "Ice Station Zebra," which I watched a few weeks ago. The film begins with a closeup of teletype machines in an important government building tapping away -- a US spy satellite has accidentally grounded near the North Pole, and Rock Hudson has to get there before they do. The stand-off at the end, serious as it is, feels like a campy carbon copy of the final moments in "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly."

If you are truly sequestered, I wish you well. You can take comfort knowing that a lively mind is a good companion.

@TJS -- If you are still in the Dominican Republic, I wish you well too. You might ask "What would Nero do?" Maybe grunt and ring for beer, or plan his next meal, or solve a mystery.

PhillySolver 5:05 PM  

I had a discussion with Merle about a similar concept and he was delighted by it and did one years ago with cars piled up on a the crossword freeway and the cause of the pileup was an upside down van. Pure delight and his and this puzzle were excellent.

CVarg 5:06 PM  

Reincarnation is not a belief in Buddhism. Buddhism teaches REBIRTH, which is not the same thing. Reincarnation is the transmigration of a soul from one life to the next. Buddhism denies the existence of the soul (anatta).

Unknown 5:13 PM  

Give the guy a break. His first puzzle. I thought this was pretty easy and I usually have trouble with Sunday

GILL I. 5:24 PM  

@TJS....You're stuck in Santo Domingo???? Oh my. I think If I could be stuck somewhere it just might be on this beautiful island. I hope you've had the chance to eat some Sancocho de Siete Carnes with a little side of mashed plantains. We used to go to Santo Domingo often but it's been many years since I've been back. The people from that island always reminded me of some of our Cubanos.... Love of life, dance and some good Bacardi.
Hope, at least, you can enjoy the sun.....

Defender 5:26 PM  

I didn’t like this puzzle. I do respect constructors and am amazed at the skills displayed in creating puzzles and astounded at the special genius of solvers who rip through them with ease and share amazing insight. Eager to read Rex always and would miss him terribly if he quit while wondering why he’s so dyspeptic during every Sunday review.
Generally I don’t like a puzzle because I had trouble with the clues, thought they broke my expectation of what the rules are in Xwords, or thought the structure was unfair. Picture me in rage when I first ran into a rebus!
Ok but showing my ignorance in this crossword world from my less experienced perspective; tunnels aren’t 90 degrees, eless is not a word, Biloxims is not an answer, as seen on tv is not “red and white”, Iziba is not “famous”, gaiety is not spelled gayety even in 1697, psy is not a department of any college I’ve noticed, and black boxes are where the answers don’t go, not where letters hide to connect the rest of the puzzle!
I did like that a nest is where talk is cheep!

Z 5:27 PM  

@Mighty Masked One - I heard on the interwebs that this whole COVID thing is a conspiracy of the Pewit POLITY. We should all rise for Pewit POLITY National Anthem. (apologies to @birchbark)

kitshef 5:40 PM  

@ghthree - so it's your fault. Had you shamed Aunt Betty when you had the chance, you would have prevented "could care" from spreading.

Unknown 6:00 PM  

I believe that Rex is slowly spiraling towards disgruntlement fueled insanity. I will stop reading his blog and look for a less crabby person to follow for the NYT crossword from now on. I thought today's puzzle was fun. Thank you.

Birchbark 6:11 PM  

@Z (5:27) -- I don't know about the POLITY of it all, but the music is fantastic. Thanks for that.

Unknown 6:34 PM  

I thought the fact that George Perec wrote "A Void" without using the letter e - made this answer clever (eless).

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

Personally, I love a good rant--especially when it is about nothing important at all. VERY VERY different from rants coming from political leaders of massive countries in times of death and crisis. And nothing is better than watching over-educated people rant and rage over "could (not) care less." Simply wonderful! Soooo....Rex and the rest of you... I'll keep reading for the entertainment value alone...

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

OK, I’ll agree that some of the answers — like staidness — were a stretch, but I enjoyed the theme and the puzzle overall. Funny, as I got to staidness, one of my first thoughts was “Rex isn’t going to like this ... not at all!”

Unknown 6:45 PM  

I rarely comment and seldom spend most of the day finishing a puzzle. Worked a bit, put it down, tried again. Thoroughly enjoyed the time spent! To the naysayers - “couldn’t care less”.

絹スミレ 6:53 PM  

I always thought it was sarcasm. ‘I could care less about this thing...it’s possible....barely possible but still possible. Do you want me to care less? Keep talking and I will care less. No, go on keep going. Like I said, I could care less’

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

Heh heh. I was wondering if Rex was going to gripe as the soft treatment of the USSR in 117A, like he does with answers like NRA, but no.

Greg 7:10 PM  

No such word as LIRAS. LIRA singular, LIRE plural.

albatross shell 7:27 PM  

Couldn't care less about could care less.
Couldn't care more than an "n't" anyway.
Using a variant of Occam's razor, I prefer to consider it irony rather than the apocalypse.

Tunnel vision strikes me as an apt description. If you view a tunnel from above from above, you cannot see the CAR inside. The arrows on the tunnels clearly suggest which way the clues are likely to be read. OMG- right angles in the tunnels. Imagine a crossword puzzle grid representation of something not being just like something in the real world! I mean who could ever even think. My head might explode. I thought it was a plus that the tunnel entrance reveresed word answeres were all words in both directions. Makes the filled grid more attractive.

@Z found his opodes mojo.

STEREOTYPIC (apparently I did Z's googling too) is a perfectly good word to scientists or a scientific abomination depending on your aesthetic tastes. Be glad it wasn't one letter shorter or longer or you could have gotten STEREOTYPy or STEREOTYPIes.

Lots of PoPs, but XMASES are as good as Christmases, and deserve no other complaint.

PSY sure is a mystery. A Shotz error as editor if nothing else. Do they have majors in Korean singers in humanities departments?

PAISON and English plurals of non-English words I give a pass to because of, ya know, tradition.

Joe Dipinto 7:30 PM  

@Mods – could you please delete the Anonymous 6:27 pm spoiler post? Thanks.

A Moderator 8:06 PM  

@Joe Dipinto

Thanks for the heads up. I'm on my laptop and didn't grok what Anon 6:27 was referring to.

G. Weissman 8:11 PM  

Here’s what everyone who is so put out by Rex’s not liking a Sunday crossword puzzle that you enjoyed (the very nerve!) can do: stop reading this blog. That’ll show Rex! How can a critic not know and respect your own, largely uncritical desire to enjoy something without having to think too hard about it? How can a critic not know that the critic’s job is to like what you like, and not present a harsher assessment of what was good enough for your enjoyment? That’s right — show Rex a thing or two by abandoning this blog and going elsewhere for your right to like what you like without Mr. Curmudgeon ruining your entire crossword experience! Au revoir — you’ll be missed.

Fitzy 8:44 PM  

Really enjoyed this one! Did some riverboat gambling in Biloxi in '93 during a drive across the southwest & deep south. Great puzzle bringing back a great memory of a great trip.

Charles 8:51 PM  

@albatross shell The main issue is that themes are one of the most important tools to solving crossword puzzles, and therefore they DO need to be very true to their definitions. Tunnels don't inherently have turns in them, so you would never assume one would under normal circumstances. If a theme in a crossword is a stretch, it's not a great theme.

Charles 9:01 PM  

@Defender The answer is Biloxi, MS. Since the clue included NV and NJ, that lets you know the answer is going to include the state's postal abbreviation as well.

There is a well-known red and white "as seen on TV" logo that is used on boxes sold in stores. Do a quick google search.

Ibiza is a Spanish island that tourists go to for its nightlife.

Gayety is a variant (var.) of gaiety, albeit a very obscure one.

PSY = psychology department.

Rudy R. 9:04 PM  

Yes, I agree too. I'm thinking Rex is in a bad mood from being cooped up due to the pandemic. This was a great puzzle, so funny to have CAR at each turn, and wild to have a down clue read backwards, like in MAS CAR PONE. Really clever, Royce, and thank you, and keep at it. And the clues were really funny. And a kick to cross XMEN with XMASES.

Charles 9:07 PM  

Also, while "could care less" is not correct, the clue lets you know that it's colloquial. Unfortunately, people use that phrase, so it IS colloquial, just like they use the bastardized variation of "literally" to mean "figuratively." *shudders*

A Moderator 9:36 PM  

This is a crossword blog. Please keep comments appropriate and on topic.


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