Chinese port city on Korea Bay / SUN 5-17-20 / Pan flute musician in iconic commercials of 1980s / End-of-level challenges in video games / Dyes that can be used as pH indicators / Rockyesque interjections / Group of 18th-century thinkers that included Voltaire Rousseau

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:48)


THEME: none — puzzle has a title ("Wide-Open Spaces") but there's no actual theme; the title just describes the amount of white space in the grid, i.e. it's a low word-count puzzle, for a Sunday. That's ... the "theme"

Word of the Day: LUMIÈRES (68D: Group of 18th-century thinkers that included Voltaire and Rousseau) —
The Lumières (literally in English: Enlighteners) was a cultural, philosophical, literary and intellectual movement of the second half of the 18th century, originating in France and spreading throughout Europe. It included philosophers such as Baruch SpinozaDenis DiderotPierre Bayle and Isaac Newton. Over time it came to mean the Siècle des Lumières, in English the Age of Enlightenment.
Members of the movement saw themselves as a progressive élite, and battled against religious and political persecution, fighting against what they saw as the irrationality, arbitrariness, obscurantism and superstition of the previous centuries. They redefined the study of knowledge to fit the ethics and aesthetics of their time. Their works had great influence at the end of the 18th century, in the American Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution.
This intellectual and cultural renewal by the Lumières movement was, in its strictest sense, limited to Europe, and was almost exclusively a development of the ideas of Renaissance humanism. These ideas were well understood in Europe, but beyond France the idea of "enlightenment" had generally meant a light from outside, whereas in France it meant a light coming from within oneself.
In the most general terms, in science and philosophy, the Enlightenment aimed for the triumph of reason over faith and belief; in politics and economics, the triumph of the bourgeois over nobility and clergy. (wikipedia)
• • •

I can never evaluate Sunday themelesses fairly because I just don't like them. It feels like cheating. Of course you can put a lot of snazzy fill in a themeless Sunday—you have a Huge Grid. There's so much wide-open space that there is, for me, a feeling of formlessness and incoherence. I'm very interested in what kind of cool things a constructor can do in the limited space of 15x15. Open it up to 21x21 and even fantastic fill just doesn't land. It doesn't feel meaningful or special when it's done like this. It's a big blur. Byron is a very good constructor, so my problem really is with the form, per se, more than with the execution here. I finished this puzzle and then went in the other room and five minutes later couldn't remember much of anything about it. Even looking it over now (an hour or so later), I barely remember solving it, or what I felt, or ... anything. There's lots of stuff I've never heard of, but who cares? I worked around it and finished in a faster-than-average time. That's the other thing that probably makes this puzzle a disappointment—I'm used to themelesses being tough. This was like a giant themeless Wednesday. Pass.


I do remember getting THE VAULT and thinking, "really, THE?" Let's see ... Had real trouble at BOSSES (30D: End-of-level challenges in video games) / CONGO REDS (34A: Dyes that can be used as pH indicators), largely because I had heard of neither. BOSSES in particular is brutal if you have no idea what that is. --SSES and ... nothing. Thank god those crosses were gettable / inferrable, though I had real trouble with the "B" from BARTERER because when "?"s are appended to clues that end in quotation marks, for some reason those clues don't register in my brain as "?" clues (i.e. as tricky / wordplay clues). So I was thinking of 30A: One who might say "Your money's no good here"? (BARTERER) as something like ... "treater" or "footer of the bill" or something like that. But no. Bartering is a way to get goods without using money. Got it. This whole cluster should've torpedoed me, and might have in a 15x15 grid, but here, I just worked around it and sussed it out in very little time. Even the punches that landed didn't do much.


Trouble: how to spell HAGAN (went with HAGEN at first) (86D: Former North Carolina senator Kay ___). Also trouble: DÉCOLLETÉ (64D: Having a low neckline, as a dress). I think I know the word "decolletage," which is, like the bit around the neckline on a woman's blouse? Dress? Whoops, nope, it's actually the part of her torso *exposed* by the "low neckline." Well. OK, good to know. ANSWERER feels weak and FIZZER feels even weaker, but mainly there were no problems with this grid. I guess I was not keen on the plug for KENT CIGARETTES (22A: R.J. Reynolds product that once sponsored "The Dick Van Dyke Show"), or the massive generality of EASTERN AUSTRALIA (15D: Victorian home?), which is certainly a geographical area, but then so is SOUTHERN IDAHO, and I doubt anyone thinks that's crossworthy. But still, this puzzle is mostly fine. It has many nice answers. I just don't think they're as nice as I would if I encountered them in a more meaningful (because stricter) 15x15 context. EXTRA LARGE PIZZA is 15 ... if it means that much to you, you can get it in a F/Sat grid.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Daily Beast has a daily (!) puzzle now, written by veteran puzzle pro Matt Gaffney. It's 10x10, gets harder as the week goes on, and features lots of timely, news-based answers. Check it out!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

117 comments:

jae 12:09 AM  

Easy then tough. This one started out easy and got progressively harder as I journeyed south. Never heard of ZAMFIR so I looked him up and still no bells were rung. The ‘80s might have been a blur, I don’t remember.

Anyway, a wide open record setting themeless on a Sun. works for me, liked it.

Most nanosecond eating erasure was Tar before TIN for roofing stuff.

Re SB - I’m at 46 words and still at it.

Phaedrus 12:13 AM  

How can you have “the vault” as an answer and not clue it with a Seinfeld reference?

Frantic Sloth 12:14 AM  

"WIDE-OPEN SPACES"

Well, there must be one between my ears because I sure don't know what the hell that means.
Is this a themed puzzle?
Looks more like a themeless with some lengthy entries, "so let's stick it on a Sunday and pretend all the blanks are the wide-open spaces and there's your theme right there!"
No. Get outta here with that. OR explain to me just what it's supposed to mean, please. A reveal would certainly help with that, but since it wasn't a themed puzzle originally...

This puzzle seems like a misfit. No theme to speak of, but too easy for a Friday or Saturday. It would have found a better home on a Wednesday, IMHO.
And yet, I liked it. Found some roadblocks in the bottom half but all of them surmountable.
Although it's kind of embarrassing that EXTRALARGEPIZZA zoomed right into place with my having just the "E". Draw your own conclusions, but they'd probably be correct.

Things I didn't know (an infinitesimal fraction of an imagined actual list):

CONGOREDS?? What's so red about the Congo - river or republic?
Ya gotcher BURNTORANGE, your CONGORED, and your PAINTGREEN. What a FUNTIME and how purdy!

ARGONGAS looks like a DOOK to me. A zoological cousin of those IGUANAS perhaps?

Didn't know about the ZEPPOMARX/Old EYESBLUE drama and wondering who the wife was. (No need to do the google - floating a comment like that is catnip for the commentariat, so I can just sit back and wait...)

AQUILINE is new to me, too. Love learning new words. Too bad my memory is shot, so I look forward to learning it again for the umpteenth first time.

Never heard of DALIAN and I travel nowhere, so that's surprising.

Not for nuthin', but I wish "capeesh" would make like a doomed elephant and just wander off into the graveyard of stupid words, curl up, and die already.

Joaquin 12:31 AM  

I liked it better than Rex did and I liked it better than most Sunday puzzles. This was definitely (at least for me) not a fill-in-the-blank (or fill-in-the-bland) experience. I liked that it was more challenging than the typical Sunday.

PS - Anybody else see the High School graduation special on tv last night? It began with the absolute best version of our national anthem that I have ever heard; it was performed by high school seniors.

will hunt 12:42 AM  

My mom and I did this Sunday together over the phone, like yesterday's, though we DEEMED it much less enjoyable. We also WENT AT IT without realizing it was themeless, so we were wracking our brains for connections between ECURRENCIES and KING HUSSEIN.

A couple fun moments: EXTRA LARGE PIZZAS is fun to see and well-clued. Even though it was kind of corny, we both god a kick out of PUZZLE, and I appreciated the Z square within. IGUANA and RHINO are fun animal inclusions. ARGON GAS and ZEPPO MARX came with interesting fun facts in the cluing. FUN TIMEs.

Lots of the "stick -ER on any verb, it'll be fine" crosswordese RECIPE in here...FIZZER, BARTERER, ANSWERER...none of them regularly used words. My "Rex is gonna hate this" senses were definitely tingling. CULT HERO feels not quiiite like a phrase. I've heard of a CULT following or a CULT classic.

While not proper nouns, I felt Naticked by DECOLETTE/AQUILINE and SAPID/DALIAN, all of which new to me. Has anyone hear heard of ZAMFIR...?

The rest of the grid and cluing were solid, I suppose. But still, no real whimsy or sense of fun. Almost all our fill was met with a resounding "Oh, ok, that works" not much "Ah! Perfect!" Could've kept this one in THE (?) VAULT...

I made up for today's lack of theme by sussing out some theme ideas for my next construction project. Wish me luck!

Will

ghkozen 12:59 AM  

Rex, if you have their ears, can you please encourage the editors of all these other recommended puzzles to release apps (or in the case of USA today to fix their app)? I’d happily pay for the USA Today, New Yorker, more Gaffney, etc. but the online interfaces they all use are just miserable.

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

I guessed right on BOSSES and CONGORED, but if it had turned out to be BASSES and CONGARED, or any other vowel at the cross, I would not have been shocked. Borderline Natick there.

I did Natick with SiPID (sounded like the opposite of insipid) and DiLIAN. The population of the entire Dalian Prefecture is 6.7 million; not exactly notable in the scheme of things in China.

Also Naticked with APARICIe and YeS.

Picky point: the word Christ means messiah, so the "to Christians" part is already there implicitly. It would have been more correct to say "Jesus of Nazareth, to Christians."

Old Actor 1:29 AM  

At first I thought I had done a print ad for Kents, but then I looked up at the picture in my office and I saw my full page ad from Parade Magazine which was in (I think) every Sunday paper in the country. Then I remembered that I smoked Kents at that time. I remember the photographer's name was Hamburger (How could I forget?) The ad was for True cigarettes, long gone I guess.
It was a full page of my face, smiling and the text was "Hand a friend a True and watch him light up". I heard from long lost friends from all over the country. Now I smoke on weekends only. American Spirits. I read somewhere that in China 50 percent of the people smoke, but only 4.4% of hospital patience with the virus are smokers. WHAA???? The same thing has been noticed in France and, they said, the US. I've never heard anything more and don't expect to, but I'm quarantined with a mask with a cig in one hand and a Bombay martini in the other making it difficult to type, but last month I passed (not celebrated) my 88th birthday and can still get genius on SB. I don't expect this to appear on the blog but it was fun writing it. Hi to John X my mentor. The puzzle was great and I loved learning about Zeppo. One hears so little about him. And Hi to all my favs on this blog. Anoabob is a neighbor but he doesn't know it.

Birchbark 1:33 AM  

crouton --> ANCHOVY. eland --> RHINO. Both very nice. KENT CIGARETTES, EXTRA LARGE PIZZA and CREATINE. What more could a HUNTER GATHERER ask for? I could keep on typing words in capital letters. The puzzle is like a heavily decorated Christmas tree.

ST. PAUL -- From the anti-enlightened desk: I worked for a decade in Minnesota's capital city. Yet even with the "ST" filled in, took forever seeking a six-letter nickname for St. Louis, which isn't even a capital city. Then laughed audibly at what should never have been an "aha" moment. More of an "ahem" moment.

The Wikipedia quotation on LUMIERES: A little surprised to see Isaac Newton included in an 18th c. movement that started in France after he died and long after his star shone brightest. Notably absent are Voltaire and Rousseau, which the clue (and my armchair) says belong.

LenFuego 1:48 AM  

I am more impressed with the grid than Rex, but nothing unusual there.

I do fail to see how AVES is the answer to "Flying class." "Flying class, to 'enry 'iggins", sure, but not just "Flying class." I really wanted ACES there, which is an extraordinary class of flyers. Someone please educate me as to what I am missing.

The other sticking point for me was the SAPID/DALIAN cross. I put in SIPID, thinking it might be the opposite of INSIPID, which is very untasty and therefore did not seem farfetched, and DILIAN seemed at least as likely as DALIAN for a Chinese city I had never heard of. That took a while to find.

Kevin 1:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefwen 2:55 AM  

Easy Sunday, but damn it where’s my trick? Plowed through it unhappily, no AHA moment, no Ooh, that’s cute, no how clever. HO HUM!

I have no idea how KENT CIGARETTES just popped into my head, but there it was. Had a great aunt who smoked KENT’s exclusively, she died of emphysema, go figure.

Not my ideal Sunday puzzle. Maybe next week.



Kevin 3:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Graham 3:58 AM  

I’m not buying SAPID/DALIAN. That one needs a do-over.

BarbieBarbie 6:11 AM  

On behalf of all chemists: no on CONGOREDS. Just No. there’s no class of different dyes that are slight variations on CONGORED. Many CONGORED molecules is still CONGORED. There is just no meaning to the plural. Once again the NYT editorial staff gets the STEM stuff wrong.

I’m with Rex. A big themeless just feels like a chore. The swarming Zs in the SW were smile-worthy, but that’s it on entertainment value.

OK, on to the Vertex puzzle. I love those things.

Anonymous 6:14 AM  

A themeless! Longer, "more challenging" vocabulary! I expected to be flummoxed but managed to do just fine with what I thought was a very pleasant and pleasing Sunday puzzle.

Even though this was themeless, the banner "Wide Open Spaces" recalled the Dixie Chicks.

The SW corner gave me the most trouble. All those Z's! Not knowing ZAMFIR (and initially thinking it was HARPOMARX) held me up. Once I got the crosses, I looked him up, listened to some of his music, and was enchanted with the Romanian nai pan flute. Hey, I watched a lot of TV in my youth - and a lot of commercials - and don't remember him at all! I appreciated the "Z" reflection in the SE corner as well. I now also appreciate the kind-of-parallel between the CONGA and CONGORED (Congo Red) - is this the sort of thing puzzle constructors aim for?

(@Frantic Sloth: Congo Red is a specific organic compound/dye used in the past for this purpose. Argon gas is often used to fill chambers in which historic papers are housed and displayed.)

About my only complaint was "THEVAULT," with that gratuitous "THE" again. I've come to understand why puzzlegoers here and OFL revile superfluous articles.

Be well, everyone -
Colin

Lewis 6:27 AM  

Everything about this solve was zen. With no sharp glaring angles or flashes of lightning in answer or clue, it shifted me into a peaceful quiet place.

There was a soft energy, a quiet buzz, that gently stoked my interest from start to finish. It simmered. Zamfir's pan flute would have been a good accompaniment. Or a waterfall.

I neither flew nor stumbled through this. I was sorry when it ended, but grateful, as I left the grid mellow. Ahhh. Your puzzle, Byron, was a leveling playing field -- a gift.

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Broke a long streak today. I wasn’t even close to a solve. I turned on the red letters and found 5 squares wrong. I tried a few variations and finally just revealed the puzzle. Sucks for me.

Evan 7:20 AM  

I liken these make a puzzle with some arbitrary limitation to an act of self gratification and it seems like a few of the regular NYT constructors have turned it into some kind of competition to see who can get the lowest word count. Like most acts of self gratification it's a lot more interesting to the performer than the audience and I wish they'd find some other forum for their contest.

Fiver 7:32 AM  

BELAIR - the forgotten Chevy, so wanted to put in IMPALA, but only the middle A worked. A few too many ERs i think, fizzER barterER, planER, answerER; kind of spoiled it for huntERgatherER, which is a great answer. All told I did enjoy this puzzle, I just think it should have been honestly and forthrightly been titled "THEMELESS SUNDAY". If BEQ can call his puzzles that so can you Byron.

Unknown 7:38 AM  

According to Wikipedia, Zamfir, Master of the Pan Flute, was kind of a big deal in Europe. I only know him from late-night TV commercials back in the 70s or 80s, sandwiched between the Ronco and K-Tel ads.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

ZAMFIR was the Master of the Pan Flute, and he had sold more records worldwide than the Beatles. At least, that’s what the late night TV ads told me.

He was no Boxcar Willie or Slim Whitman though.

Barney 7:55 AM  

SAPID: Having a taste or flavor
SIPID: Having a pleasing taste or flavor.

Dictionary.com.

What an awful cross for "Chinese port city".

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Zamfir?

pabloinnh 8:02 AM  

This is not a puzzle for those of us who sometimes depend on three letter words for toeholds. I didn't go back and count but they are few and far between, or as I have heard some people say, far and few between, which makes no sense.

I think I've only seen AQUILINE with regard to noses, and usually noses of generals or emperors.

Fun seeing which of the MARX brothers would fit. Wasn't expecting ZEPPO, but there he was. HOTSPOTS (timely) for HOTSEATS and THELORD for OURLORD but otherwise smooth sailing, except for the now oft-cited CONGO/BOSSES intersection. As I like to point out, it's a poor day when you can't learn something.

Thanks for a fun Sunday, BW. To paraphrase the definition of a blivet, as used around here, this was twenty pounds of words in a ten pound sack.














Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Sorry...I meant to write Zamfir..

CDilly52 8:23 AM  

KENT CIGARETTES put me off immediately. Those were the very “cancer sticks” that nearly killed my dad. By the time he quit, he had emphysema and heart disease that shortened his life by a good 20 years. I am now 8 years older than he was when he died. He did quit though - it was I believe the only time in their marriage that Mom gave him an ultimatum. Well, an ultimatum to Dad, anyway. I was the recipient of many an “or else,” myself, but what can I say. I was a handful of opinionated “Middle Child.”

So, The NW was so easy, I thought I’d better check the calendar to see what day it is! With the title “Wide Open Spaces,” I kept looking for some theme about gaping gorges, ot people with big mouths, or vacuous folks whose brain pans have “for rent” posted on their foreheads. Something!! Nada. Zilch. Z.E.R.O. Hmmmm. I guess the wide open spaces are a big fat Sunday grid with few black squares and no clever theme to lighten up the solve? OK, I guess it is what it is. But visions of that cigarette package are still haunting me.

Enough, already, right? I did feel very superior for a hot second when I knew CONGO REDS. Learned about those from the internationally known letter artist/calligrapher, Reggie Ezell. I became fascinated with engraving and Spencerian and Copperplate writing in Girl Scouts. Back then, Columbus, Ohio still was home to one of the last hand engraving businesses and schools in the US. I toured there when I was doing a deep dive into the history of printed currency and was hooked on the elegant writing, flourishes and designs the penmen could make with incredible precision. One of the senior engravers was tickled pink that I would be so interested in the tools and the process and especially the fact that the pointed pens were still used and one could actually learn to do it!!! From that Saturday on, I spent hours at the library learning more about the engraver’s art, and wanting to learn myself.

Look no further than my dear Gran! Who else? She dug through her old keepsakes boxes and out came three old pen staves and a small metal box of nibs!! I still have that small metal box. HUNT, & Co. Liquid ink in bottles was still readily available since we all learned to do cursive writing officially in third grade and we had to purchase fountain pens! It was truly a rite of passage. Anyway, Gran, whose handwriting was always gorgeous, and so even, explained to me that when she was in school, everyone’s handwriting looked the same (or that was the goal). She still had two tattered Spencerian workbooks. I was in heaven but wanted more.

The saga continued throughout my life and I remain a member of the Tulsa Calligraphy Guild to this good day. One of my proudest achievements is to have completed the year long class offered by Mr. Ezell in various places in the US. Once a month, those willing to spend the grueling hours in class and doing homework, meet for two days and Reggie travels from his home in Chicago to provide the most interesting workshops. I am good at several hands of lettering and not so good as an “artist.” My understanding of color is purely academic. I do not “have it.” But I learned lots, including all of the poisonous substances historically used to create paints and inks. One set of those carcinogenic classes is the CONGO REDS. They are not sold any more but artists (like my sister) who grind their own pigments and steep plants to create dyes and paints still use them because of their unique colors and properties. She uses these with a respirator, gloves and a gigantic exhaust fan running in her studio, but when nothing else will do to a true artist, you do what you must.

Lots to learn in this one, and it certainly became more challenging once I left the comforts of the NW corner. Spelling challenges of DÉCOLLETÉ, LUMIERES and BEURRE (I never get that right on the first try). Over all very doable, learned a new Chinese port, and Infinished in about usual Sunday time.

OffTheGrid 8:27 AM  

I laughed when I got to 78D, pan flute musician....... The name did not immediately pop into my head but I knew what it was. Namely, one of the cheesiest "it must be great 'cause it's on TV" promos of all time. THIS EXAMPLE should provide at least a chuckle.

Suzie Q 8:42 AM  

I liked this fine. I get weary with Sunday puzzles that have a theme.
If you showed me the name Dalian and asked me where it was China might be the last place I would guess.
Hap was the object of discussion the other day and here it is again.
Poor Zamfir. I remember the commercials and the merciless jokes that lingered longer than the ads. He might have been admired elsewhere but I don't think Americans appreciated him.
I learned some things today and that's part of the fun.
I was very curious about the Sinatra gossip even though that sort of thing usually bores me to tears.
Funny post @ Old Actor.

TJS 8:47 AM  

Well it's over, and took longer than usual, so I guess it was better than the average Sunday, but there were a lot of small aggravations and no "Wahoo" moments, thai's for sure. I think I made the comment in the past two weeks about rememberibg nothin from the 80's. "Zamfir" sure doesn't ring any bells.

I have come to the conclusion that Wikipedia is not a reliable source in many areas. I would suggest that anyone quoting one of it's articles should do some cross referencing to confirm supposed facts.

@Old Actor, I would have happily tipped a few with you on your 88th, a Bud and a joint for me, maybe whatever the hell @Lewis seems to be enjoying.

pmdm 8:50 AM  

I don't think I would want to read a NY Philharmonic concert review written by a critic who hates classical music. (Or even one written by a critic like Hanslick, for those who know who he was.) So even through today's write-up was fair (in the sense of level-headed), I would have this to say: when a Sunday themeless puzzle again rears its head, could you, Mr. Sharp, limit your observations to a short paragraph explaining why you dislike the genre (which you can actually write in advance) and then let one of your substitute bloggers actually review the puzzle. For me, I think that would imporve things a lot.

I found both today's puzzle and yesterdays gratefully lacked PPP entiries all over the place. I may have struggled solving both puzzles but I found the experience more enjoyable than not. Many have remarked at the sub-par levers of recent Sunday puzzles. I thought that even without an entertaining theme today's puzzle raised the quality lever bar of a NYT Sunday puzzle by a number of levels.

Take note, newbie constructors. You don't need to crama lot of trendy stuff into the grid to construct a good and satisfying puzzle. Nor do you need blasts from the past (KENT CIGARETTES not withstanding).

Perhaps I am in the minority. I hope not.

FLAC 8:50 AM  

FWIW, two pieces of puzzle-related trivia:

1. Zamfir plays the pan flute on Ennio Morricone's wonderful score for "Once Upon a Time in America." So even if you haven't heard of him, you may have heard him.

2. In the early 1950s, the "micronite filter" in Kent cigarettes -- marketed as a health feature -- contained carcinogenic blue asbestos.

David 8:53 AM  

Pretty much with Rex on this one. I remember almost nothing other than thinking to myself, "the vault???" "You sit AT a stop light, you sit IN a booth." and "I'd better go."

And I'd better. I'm outta here, have a good Sunday.

kitshef 8:56 AM  

Threw in Entelodon dirus without a pause for 92A, which made for a lot of erasures.

BLO/BELAIRS nearly got me. I know of BEL AIR as a tony LA neighborhood (great porn name: Tony Belair), but not a car. Fortunately, my guess that BLO would rhyme with SLO was correct.

Probably more fun than the average Sunday. So often on Sunday the theme is dull, and once you get it you are just rowing through the rest of the puzzle to reach the end. With no theme, all the entries have value, rather than being there to prop up the theme.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Please explain “bosses” as an answer.

kitshef 9:11 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - CONGO RED has nothing to do with the Congo. "Congo" was just a trendy thing to include in product names, like "-orama" in the last century or "e-" in this one.

Aketi 9:14 AM  

@CDilly, same reaction to the KENT CIGARETTES. Neither of my parents quit smoking and both died younger than they would have otherwise. Emphysema is a terrible way to go. So is having a stroke.

BELAIR was another throwback. My first used car was a 1961 turquoise and white Chevy BELAIR. BOSSES was also a gimme because of all the video games I played with my son when he was younger.

Took a while for AR GONGAS to turn into ARGON GAS. I blame it on the CONGO REDS.

Aketi 9:22 AM  

@Anonymous 9:03am, many video games have small challenges that train certain skills that lead up to a final challenge at the end of a level known as a BOSS fight. My all time favorite BOSS fight was in a game called Alan Wake. He was a writer who woke up in a strange place and had to solve the mysteries. You fought the darkness with flashlights. The epic BOSS fight happened on stage at a rock concert with his agent near the end of the game. Sadly, the ending of that game was anticlimactic.

EdFromHackensack 9:27 AM  

I found this tough. guessed wrong on SiPID, same reasoning as above , thinking opposite of "insipid". Middle bottom took me forever. CULTHERO stacked on HOTSEATS, HUNTERGATHERER, ARGONGAS was a big blank for far too long. Whenever there is a big blank like that, as long as there are no foreign words or an obscure surname, I know I'll get it if I just stare at it long enough. Themeless on Sundays are hard - because once you figure out a theme it helps you with the rest of the puzzle. I did enjoy it, although it took three cups of coffee and I had a new powerwasher I had to assemble and put to work.

RooMonster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
Figured out it was a themeless SunPuz when none of the longies went together, noticed the lack of short fill, and then glanced at the Title, and said, "Ah, the one or two Themeless SunPuzs of the year today". Because I'm smart. (*snicker snicker*)

Did like the puz, there's only 56 black squares, so that's rather low for a Sunday. Normally, it's around 70ish. Some nice fill in this one.

SW corner very Scrabble-tastic, Five Z's, a Q, an X, even an F! Couple more Z's in SE for good measure.

Had to cheat for Senator Kay, hadn't a clue on HAGAN. Once did that, finally saw HUNTER GATHERER, as I really wanted some kind of dinosaur there!

The A of DALAIN/SAPID a correct guess. But, DNF because of PLANTaInS for PLANT OILS. Knew SnATED was wrong, and really wanted SLATED, but at the end of a SunPuz, I just want to be done! So, I left it in. Too bad didn't notice because of the wrong A, I had CONGA twice. Oops.

Re: YesterBee: Dang, so close on a high word count Bee. I missed three. Argh! One I should've got, but the other two I wouldn't have even if I stared at it till next week. First one I've done with multiple pangrams, so that was neat.

Two F's
FIZZER PUZZLE
RooMonster
DarrinV

Z 9:33 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said, not much bad here (well, ECURRENCIES is pretty bad, I’ve only ever heard them described as crypto-CURRENCIES so had to wait for crosses when I saw too few squares for the right answer) but somehow it just didn’t do much for me. Like Rex said, it’s more about the form of a 21x21 themeless grid than anything specific about this puzzle. The most memorable aspect was that Z corner. Five Z’s, an X, and a Q felt a little like all the pepperoni slid to one section of the EXTRA LARGE PIZZA. 21x21 is roughly twice as big as a 15x15 (441 squares to 225 squares), but never feels to me like twice the fun.

We were selected as NIELSENS radio raters (?) last week. We wrote done all the radio we listened to each day (i.e. - not much, I listen to the Dan LeBatard Show, otherwise even in the car I listen to the music on my iPhone) for a week and mailed the journals back. The NIELSENS sent me something like $8 (all in crisp new singles) and promised to send another $10/returned journal for doing this. I didn’t mind doing it, but kept thinking the whole time that it was an odd endeavor.

@ghkozen - I think you can probably contact the editors yourself, but the software is probably outside their control. The New Yorker uses the same software as the Washington Post and L.A. Times (the WAPO daily is the LATX). I don’t find the software terrible, but I still usually just print the puzzle. It seems to me that the USA Today interface is trying to be attractive to younger solvers with some gaming elements. It doesn’t do much for me beyond being slightly annoying.

@Birchbark - you left out that Newton was more than a little loony in the area of religion. In modern terms, he was equal parts Bill Nye, Dr. Oz, and Pat Robertson. Seems to me that the Wikipedia entry is overly broad. The LUMIÈRES may have built off of Newton’s math and science, but it’s sort of like saying Kierkegaard was an existentialist.

@OffTheGrid - Thanks for the link. Definitely an “Oh yeah, that guy” moment.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

What qualities give a puzzle oomph? Or charm? Or pique the curiosity in a way that makes you feel you absolutely have to finish it?

Whatever these qualities are -- and they probably vary to some degree from person to person -- this puzzle didn't have any of them, at least not for me. I told myself that I was having fun, but I knew I wasn't: I was just dutifully filling in letters while hoping it would soon be over. Then I realized I could make it be over much sooner than that. I dropped it early -- about halfway through. It didn't give me any trouble while I was there.

Chim cham 9:54 AM  

Yes indeed. Terrible.

CrossQueen 9:55 AM  

You don’t buy a stock AT PAR value - you buy it on the strike price. Bonds are bought and sold AT PAR

Z 9:57 AM  

@TJS - Used properly, Wikipedia is far more reliable than most other encyclopedias, mostly because it is easier to use properly. Take the LUMIÈRES example. A quick perusal of the page and it’s talk page provides the following; this page was originally a translation from Wikipedia’s French version and “note 1” suggests the very issue that @Birchbark and I pointed out. This particular page purports to be about the LUMIÈRES but is as much about the Age of Enlightenment as the LUMIÈRES specifically. As with any other encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a starting point and should always be read with a healthy dose of cynicism. The same is true of Britannica.

amyyanni 10:03 AM  

Also had Tar instead of TIN, which hung me up far too long. Dalain new to me as well. So I was late going out for my run and it was hot.
Loved both graduation shows yesterday! There was one focused on HBCUs on in the afternoon.

Lorelei Lee 10:28 AM  

@Fiver, the '57 Bel Air is the most iconic Chevy of all time. We sold one for $45,000 five years ago (alas, $5k less than we paid for it).

QuasiMojo 10:38 AM  

Give me a themeless anyday. This one had nooks and crooks and MAZEs. I enjoyed it even though it wore me out.

Before ZAMFIR there was Peter Lemongello.

The Enlightenment answer made me think of the Lumiere Brothers, who were early cinematographers. Perfect name for people bringing light into darkness.

I put AQABA in the one puzzle I sent the NYT. I was sure that was why it was rejected. But now I wonder. Maybe I'll send it to the Daily Beast.

What's wrong with THE in The Vault? That's what it's called, isn't it? I put in The CATAPULT. But then it was only 5am when I did the puzzle. And thought maybe it was a rebus. OTOH, adding Cigarettes to KENT seemed de trop. As a former smoker, I can assure you Kents were inSAPID.

@Old Actor, great write up. HB etc. I did a print ad once when I was 10 for soap. I wish I still had it.

@Pabloinnh, thanks for the kind words yesterday. As an uncoordinated kid playing football with the big boys I always wanted to be QB. Well now I am! Lol. And @Roo, I couldn't believe a certain well-known leaf from Asia was excluded yesterday.

Thank you Byron Walden. Well done. O

Teedmn 11:01 AM  

No theme - a relief to find out after the fact as I was unable to discern how the longer answers related to each other and to Wide-open Spaces (except I figure EASTERN AUSTRALIA probably is more wide-open than, say, HUNTER-GATHERER (where I kept counting out Tyrannosaurus Rex)).

This puzzle covered a lot of ground. I think I like having a themeless Sunday for a change. It was a FUN TIME, thanks Byron Walden.

Newboy 11:07 AM  

Catching up with yesterday’s posts. Delighted that @Evil Doug is returned to the fold. With over 9000 profile views, he clearly draws a crowd —I almost expected to see he had added Former Blogger (retired) when I checked again this morning.

And the puzzle, sigh! All that Rex said seems true. I really appreciate the links to new to me options he has recently provided. I’m becoming jaded I realize when MTW don’t delight as once they did. British cryptic grids don’t seem like real crosswords (too many black squares), so I truly enjoy the occasional commentary suggestions that are posted by members of the commentariat.

egsforbreakfast 11:09 AM  

A couple of LOL-type of initial mistakes:
30A. One who might say “Your money’s no good here”? It seemed bizarre, but not impossible that a toRTuRER might say that.
89A. Places of intense scrutiny. Equally bizarre, but HOrSEAsS could, I suppose, work except for the plural in the clue.

It’s not ridiculous to say a stock sold at par, but the phrase is almost always “par value”, and really has no importance any more.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

How are FANS “whiffs” (27D)?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

I liked it a lot because I did most of it with no help at all.

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

Themeless Sunday? Ay caramba. Today is Eggs Benedict - why are you giving me scrambled eggs? This kinda felt like a Friday pub trivia fest.....
I will start, though, by saying I've always enjoyed Byron's puzzles. They are usually very hard. This really wasn't. Just a lot of fancy words. I like some fancy words. I suppose DECOLLETE was my favorite even though I thought it needed some sort of tage. The cleavage cocktail dress that very few can pull off with a modicum of success. If you have enormous boobs, it doesn't work. They look like two balloons that need to be popped. If you're flat as a pancake, everyone pities you. Lady Di could pull it off and so could Jackie O.....then you have Bjork wearing that swan dress at the Oscars. Remember that one? The swan's head was draped over her exposed right boob looking like it wanted to take a little nip.....
I also liked seeing Yalitza APARICIO. She was the fantastic Cleo in Roma - a MUST see film. This was her first time acting and you'd never know it. Wonderful film.
Let's see, what else...nope, nothing much else. I BETTER GO. Oh, even though you think you don't like ANCHOVIES, they are a must in the salad dressing for your Caesar. I know they look ugly in the can and the look like they have spiny little legs, but they are buttery delicious once you mush them up.
Wear a mask when you go out....

Carola 11:17 AM  

I liked the nexus PUZZLE: MUZZLED FIZZER, which I thought captured the grid's want of sparkle. Never realizing that we were dealing with a themeless, I was prepared to accept EASTERN AUSTRALIA and EXTRA-LARGE PIZZAS as wide-open spaces, which also would be needed for HUNTER-GATHERERS and would cause agoraphobes to HIT...THE PANIC BUTTON; but KENT CIGARETTES left me at a loss.

@CDilly52, thank you for that wonderful post.

Nancy 11:22 AM  

@Anon 11:10: The batter FANS at the ball. The batter whiffs at the ball. Or as some announcer back in the day -- it might have been Red Barber; help me out here, @OISK -- liked to say: "He swang at the ball and missed."

the redanman 11:33 AM  

did nothing to increase positive feelings in me for large grids. again.

Greg 11:36 AM  

The SAPID/DALIAN cross insured a DNF for me. Never heard of SAPID. guessed sipid, as in the opposite of insipid. AFter that it was the old "arbitrary vowel in a foreign place name" (Dilian?) - nope, guessed wrong.

Unknown 11:36 AM  

Use par value with a bond for the love of God.

pabloinnh 12:08 PM  

@Nancy, with all due respect, the batter FANS, or WHIFFS, or strikes out. He swings AT the ball and misses.

Sounds like Red Barber to me, he of "the catbird seat".

Frantic Sloth 12:09 PM  

Okay, so it was a themeless puzzle. For once, it wasn't just my imagination.

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in the commentariat making me out to be a liar re: the catnip simile, but perhaps I was asking for it. 🤷‍♀️

Then again, I imagine it's not the type of thing most people are just jonesin' to know.

For anyone interested, the answer is Barbara Blakeley (Marx Sinatra).

@kitshef 911 am Thank you for the clarification on why it's CONGO [RED]. Reminiscent of this scene (and others) from "The Women", which reinforces your explanation.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

OFL complains that this is Just A Big Wednesday????? Isn't that the definition of a Sunday?

As to ZAMFIR (and I wanted Z -> PH for too long), there's an even more well known, to some anyway, odd instrument movie music: the zither of Anton Karas in "The Third Man".

KnittyContessa 12:21 PM  

I love a fun Sunday puzzle filled with quips, tricks, riddles, clever clues. At first, I was resistant to accept that there was none of these today. There had to be a theme, I just couldn't see it yet. What in the world could KENTCIGARETTES and EASTERNAUSTRALIA have in common? Oh well. Such a disappointment.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

well... there's a distinction, in some parts of the USofA, between FANS and whiffs. the former is striking out, while the latter is a swing-and-a-miss.

Master Melvin 12:33 PM  

@Nancy - That sounds more like Dizzy Dean who did Yankee games in the early 50's. Can't imagine Red Barber saying anything ungrammatical. Smooth Southern accent, yes. Ungrammatical, no.

Master Melvin 12:35 PM  

Diz also told us that "Rizooter slud into thud."

burtonkd 12:38 PM  


In case you're still wondering about Zamfir, this from when LPs/cassettes were 2 for 12.98 and CDs 2 for 19.98

Wide open spaces is what my grid looked like for a long time, then it all just filled itself in.

@Z, I was a Nielsen TV household once. In this day and age of big data, hard to believe they still do a mail in survey and anyone finds the results reliable.

Wanted Zero Mostel (Mostl, perhaps?) for Zeppo Marx, but ZEROZERO finally eliminated that train of thought.

Aparicia: enjoyed the movie, but how on earth could we remember someone who had one role (maybe more since). At least crosses were fair.

Any wedding band is a good size if they are live musicians instead of ubiquitous DJ culthero. I know there can be an art to it, but I just don't think some who "presses play" should garner more love than the actual musicians who create the music. Old man musician get off my lawn rant over.

CDilly52 12:38 PM  

KENT CIGARETTES put me off immediately. Those were the very “cancer sticks” that nearly killed my dad. By the time he quit, he had emphysema and heart disease that shortened his life by a good 20 years. I am now 8 years older than he was when he died. He did quit though - it was I believe the only time in their marriage that Mom gave him an ultimatum. Well, an ultimatum to Dad, anyway. I was the recipient of many an “or else,” myself, but what can I say. I was a handful of opinionated “Middle Child.”

So, The NW was so easy, I thought I’d better check the calendar to see what day it is! With the title “Wide Open Spaces,” I kept looking for some theme about gaping gorges, ot people with big mouths, or vacuous folks whose brain pans have “for rent” posted on their foreheads. Something!! Nada. Zilch. Z.E.R.O. Hmmmm. I guess the wide open spaces are a big fat Sunday grid with few black squares and no clever theme to lighten up the solve? OK, I guess it is what it is. But visions of that cigarette package are still haunting me.

Enough, already, right? I did feel very superior for a hot second when I knew CONGO REDS. Learned about those from the internationally known letter artist/calligrapher, Reggie Ezell. I became fascinated with engraving and Spencerian and Copperplate writing in Girl Scouts. Back then, Columbus, Ohio still was home to one of the last hand engraving businesses and schools in the US. I toured there when I was doing a deep dive into the history of printed currency and was hooked on the elegant writing, flourishes and designs the penmen could make with incredible precision. One of the senior engravers was tickled pink that I would be so interested in the tools and the process and especially the fact that the pointed pens were still used and one could actually learn to do it!!! From that Saturday on, I spent hours at the library learning more about the engraver’s art, and wanting to learn myself.

Look no further than my dear Gran! Who else? She dug through her old keepsakes boxes and out came three old pen staves and a small metal box of nibs!! I still have that small metal box. HUNT, & Co. Liquid ink in bottles was still readily available since we all learned to do cursive writing officially in third grade and we had to purchase fountain pens! It was truly a rite of passage. Anyway, Gran, whose handwriting was always gorgeous, and so even, explained to me that when she was in school, everyone’s handwriting looked the same (or that was the goal). She still had two tattered Spencerian workbooks. I was in heaven but wanted more.

The saga continued throughout my life and I remain a member of the Tulsa Calligraphy Guild to this good day. One of my proudest achievements is to have completed the year long class offered by Mr. Ezell in various places in the US. Once a month, those willing to spend the grueling hours in class and doing homework, meet for two days and Reggie travels from his home in Chicago to provide the most interesting workshops. I am good at several hands of lettering and not so good as an “artist.” My understanding of color is purely academic. I do not “have it.” But I learned lots, including all of the poisonous substances historically used to create paints and inks. One set of those carcinogenic classes is the CONGO REDS. They are not sold any more but artists (like my sister) who grind their own pigments and steep plants to create dyes and paints still use them because of their unique colors and properties. She uses these with a respirator, gloves and a gigantic exhaust fan running in her studio, but when nothing else will do to a true artist, you do what you must.

Lots to learn in this one, and it certainly became more challenging once I left the comforts of the NW corner. Spelling challenges of DÉCOLLETÉ, LUMIERES and BEURRE (I never get that right on the first try). Over all very doable, learned a new Chinese port, and I finished in about usual Sunday time.

CDilly52 12:44 PM  

@Lewis: you are always such a positive and upbeat fellow. “Zen” was ever so much more aptly descriptive than my mere “doable.” You remind me of an admonishment I received regularly from my should-have-been-canonized-Gran, that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Thanks. Posted before I read today. And I am exhausted. The tornado season is upon us here, and Friday/Saturday was just nerve-wracking.

sixtyni yogini 12:47 PM  

Sunday puzzle without a theme is just boring or just not all that fun for me. Almost didn’t finish. It does make me appreciate the creativity and cleverness of many themes and to varying degrees I enjoy all of NYTs crosswords. So there’s that! 😜👍🏽🧩👍🏽😜

Ethan Taliesin 12:47 PM  

Played a little tougher than average for me. No cheats, but it kinda dragged out with the NW being the last to fall (though that may have just been the randomness of solving through the grid)

Did not know Zeppo Marx/Sinatra were Eskimo brothers. Did not know a lot of stuff, but the crossings gave everything away. I liked the puzzle OK. At least no superhero movie references today.

BOSSES are the "guys" you have to fight at the end of a level, and they're tougher to kill than those who came before them. New to me, but I was familiar with the convention.

I avoid video games for the same reason I've never tried heroin, and have no doubt I'd become obsessed with finishing the entire game only to ultimately feel I'd squandered my time. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not follow this snooty philosophy very consistently when it comes to other trivialities though.

Masked and Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Since I enjoy themed puzs more, this puppy was "More Less Enjoyable" than the average themeless puz, at our house. It was mighty well-made, for what it was, I reckon.

Could this be a sign of desperation? Are constructioneers maybe runnin out of good SunPuz theme ideas? KENTCIGARETTES might be a good themer for a superhero secret identities puztheme. {Superman's secret vice?}, etc. You'd think it would be a fertile source of names … there's about twenty bazillion different superheroes, nowadays. Solvers might well marvel at such a themed puz. Or not.

staff weeject pick: TIN. I splatzed in the TAR all on top of it, immediately. Used tar-black magic marker, I was so certain. Lost many valuable nanoseconds, tryin to white-out all that magic tamarker stuff.

Thanx for all the primo fillins, Mr. Walden. Sooo … was KENTCIGARETTES a seed entry? We've got to help U to quit ...

Masked & Anonymo16Us


themed(!):
**gruntz**

jberg 12:59 PM  

DNF, as I had no idea about BOSSES. I finally decided that at the end of the level you had to figure out how to get on a bus to the next level. If I hadn't had PLANTaInS (Hi @Roo!) I might have guessed CONGO, but with that a there I had no hope.

Speaking of Wikipedia, I searched for Korea Bay and Google Maps and got taken to some place on the East Coast of North Korea. It was labeled only in Chinese characters, so I'm not sure if the name was right. Wiki had it right, though. Many more interesting ways to clue it: "Southernmost city in Liaoning," for example.

My other big problem was that I thought an early omnivore had to be, well, early, so I put down THE THUNDERER, which I believe to be some kind of dinosaur. I also had CULT idol just a bit higher. I sorted it out eventually, but that was hard.

@Birchbark, me too! I grew up in Wisconsin, but just couldn't think of it -- I actually considered putting in ST. Joe's (thinking Missouri) there, even though that's neither a capital nor on the Mississippi. At least I avoided "missouri" for 1D -- it just seemed too obvious, so I checked some crosses.

I expected @Rex to rant at least a little about that Z-square in the SW. Maybe he really is mellowing out.

Every once in a while it is brought home to me that very few people study Latin anymore. Back in the late 1950s we all had to take two years. I don't remember a whole lot, I just had to look up whether eagle is aquilus or aquila (the latter), but it was enough to make AQUILINE a gimme. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying everyone should learn it, just that if you do learn it it will help with solving.)

Escalator 12:59 PM  

Easiest week in a while for me. I’d still like to know if Rex ever has to use Google or a thesaurus to help him complete the puzzle. Methinks not.

Pamela 1:03 PM  

offthegrid, thanks for the link. I never heard of Zamfir, so I’m happy to know now who he is.

Old Actor- I worked on print ads back in the day, but never for True. I have a feeling that your campaign might have been a little before my career started, which was in the mid 70’s.

I smoked Kents for years. Work took me to Paris in the early 80’s, where I was asked, more than once, with amazement, ‘But Pam, you are American. You don’t smoke Marlboro’s?’ Finally quit in 1984, thankfully.

DALIAN/BOSSES cross completely unfair. I did get SAPID, though, after toying with the A/i question.

Themeless Sunday is no Sunday at al, IMHO.

Z 1:03 PM  

@burtonkd - My thought exactly. At least I got a bunch of crisp new singles out of it. I do suppose that radio would be harder to track than, say, Spotify plays or Netflix binges. Still, they can apparently sell my self-reported listening data for more than $28 and whatever they spent on postage.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Thanks for the confirmation that there’s no theme. I just spent 15 minutes after completing the grid trying to figure out if there was some kind of hidden meaning or theme I was missing. The title — wide open spaces — put me on a wild goose chase looking for an aha moment.

trebore 1:05 PM  

Good Sunday puz. Took me about 10 Rexes last night. Went across the top easily and started checking down to verify anchor words. ROC, APART, OCTET, YOS AND SPLURGES felt good. So with great confidence I wrote in Hittingthepanic ATTACK! It stayed until almost the end causing confusion in the lower middle. I also had KOOL cigarettes at 22a. I could see him playing the pan flute but couldn't remember his name-"SATYR"?
All in all a great brain exercise.

Pamela 1:07 PM  

Oops, I misremembered! My problem with DALIeN was USeINBOLT. And BaSSES and FArS created CarGOREDS. Whiffs = FANS? Huh? Please enlighten me, all you brilliant bloggers!

CaryinBoulder 1:23 PM  

Beautiful day for a bike ride, so I’ll be brief. But speaking thereof, I have been truly JINXed with four rear-wheel flats on my last three rides.
DALIAN-SAPID is a genuine Natick, as SiPID is every bit as correct an answer to the clue. Always good to see me some baseball references, but for this old fan (or is it WHIFF?) the only APARICIO you ever need to know is the great shortstop, Luis. Stupidly entering cOPS for the Keystone clue kept KING HUSSEIN at bay for a long time.

That’s all I got so I BETTER GO.

Doc John 1:24 PM  

The only red that matters is Jungle Red.
I also cringed at THE VAULT. It's just vault. (FWIW, the other shared event is floor exercise. Not the floor exercise.)
And I'm surprised that OFL left out a perfectly good opportunity to play Love Shack- "Tin roof- rusted!"

LenFuego 1:30 PM  

Unless I have missed it, nobody has even mentioned that, without resorting to a lot of drossy crosswordese, Mr. Walden managed to put 7 Zs, 4 Vs, 2 Xs and a Q into the grid, but not for the artificial purpose of making it a pangram! There is no J to be found.

sara 1:35 PM  

SB question - what is a "perfect"? (I know what a pangram is). Thanks, anyone who knows...

Frantic Sloth 1:44 PM  

@Doc John 124pm Are you Pernell Roberts? Or does Trapper John, M.D. just happen to be your avatar for the "Doctor John" connection?

What? 1:47 PM  

In the print version, a note by Shortz states the puzzle is themeless. I guess the online version skips this, judging from the comments of surprise that it’s themeless.

puzzlehoarder 1:50 PM  

Nice to get an extra themeless on a Sunday. We get the Sunday NYT delivered and I did the puzzle in the actual magazine. The editor has a paragraph under the title explaining that it's a themeless puzzle so no surprise there.

I got a clean grid today. The only questionable spots were BOSSES crossing CONGORED and the entirety of ZAMFIR. That latter one came strictly from the crosses.

SAPID ought to be common knowledge to any solver. For those who claim SIPID is a word blow smoke up someone else's ass.

I missed Saturday's QB by two words. Today's looks tougher.

burtonkd 2:04 PM  

@sara

A perfect pangram has every letter exactly once. Generic pangram can have repeated letters.

@LenFuego, Rexites have all been trained not to care about or be impressed by (nay even be annoyed by) lots of scrabbly letters in a grid.

burtonkd 2:06 PM  

Doesn't a pitcher "fan" the batter? i.e. Mike Mussina fanned 2 and induced a groundout to end the inning.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Aves. In the phylogenetic system of classification the "class" division comes after kingdom and phylum. The class Aves contains most birds.

JC66 2:17 PM  

@burtonkd

If the pitcher strikes out (fans) the batter, the batter strikes out (fans).

pabloinnh 2:49 PM  

Hey @Pamela-

I quit smoking in 1984 too! JINX! or Coke! or whatever it was we decided that all meant--it was news to me. Just trying to cash in.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

In video games, a boss is a particularly large or challenging computer-controlled character who must be defeated at the end of a segment of a game, whether he/she/it be for a level, an episode, or the very end of the game itself (final boss). Bosses appear in many video games, particularly story or level-based first and third-person shooters, platform games, role-playing video games, and most shoot 'em ups. Most games feature multiple bosses, each often more difficult than the last.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

@Frantic:

Pernell's been dead for many years.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Kay Hagan died recently - I'd have clued it "late" Senator, rather than former.

Frantic Sloth 4:13 PM  

@Anonymous 322pm Oh. Might should probably have maybe kinda looked that up first, huh?

Think then @Doc John is not he? It's a SUREBET, I guess.

Chelseamom65 4:22 PM  

Are Stocks sold at “PAR?” i thought bonds were....

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

@puzzlehoarder: "For those who claim SIPID is a word blow smoke up someone else's ass." The OED disagrees with you.

"SAPID ought to be common knowledge to any solver." Sez you; doesn't make it so.

Nancy 5:09 PM  

Thanks for being gentle with me, @pabloinnh. I shouldn't really comment on a game I haven't watched since 1969* -- especially if I know I have to rely on a predictably fuzzy memory.

*After my beloved NY Giants were stolen from me and carted off to SF, I briefly tried to replace them in my affection with the mostly hapless and Willie Mays-less Mets. My mother was able to make the transition successfully; I was not.

Anoa Bob 5:13 PM  

I got that it was a themeless puzzle early on, which was fine, since I tend to value the quality of the fill more than themes. Themes take up lots of grid real estate and the fill is often just "glue" that holds it all together. Unless the theme is top notch, the solve can easily become a SNORE for me. This is especially true for a Sunday puzzle.

One of the reasons my focus is more on the fill is that words or phrases will often remind me of something, and I will spend a few pleasant moments thinking about that. (I don't time my solves, obviously.) Today DÉCOLLETÉ took me back to the check out lane at the grocery store yesterday. No ogling, just a respectful noticing. (I was wearing a mask, as was she, and was six feet away.) HUNTER GATHER reminded of a friend from grad school who was getting her Ph.D. in anthropology. She called a man's necktie a "Neck phallus"

What I noticed most about the puzzle was the number of words that had their letter-count boosted by adding an S on the end (POC). YOS at 12D gets a whopping 50% increase in grid-fill power. The pluralizing Ss seem to be all over the place. That's a lot of space taken up by non-nutritive fill, so to speak.

I should look on the bright side. Between yesterday and today, puzzlewise, it was a Celebration of the POC.

Old Actor, I was intrigued by your last sentence. Were you a recent resident of Baja California del Norte?

TJS 5:29 PM  

@Z, How ingenuous. Can you tell me the difference between Brittanica entries and Wikipedia entries? I bet you can. Why would you pretend not to be aware of this.?

TJS 5:47 PM  

Hey Rex, Thanks for the tip on those Daily Beast puzzles. If your like...8 years old, they must be real "posers".

Monty Boy 5:59 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Learned a few things and just a few lookups to confirm odd answers I got from crosses.

I'm a bit suprised no one has mentioned (as best I can tell) the 80D clue/answer. I laughed out loud when I got that one.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

CaryinBoulder, I have fond memories of your blues nights at Old Chicago a long time ago.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Yes, 80D was fun. I had the two Zs already, so it was easy for me but still amusing.


Joe 7:46 PM  

SAPID/DALIAN was obscure to me. Also how to spell the BOLT guy’s first name. I got it, in the end, but on the whole, I didn’t find the puzzle much fun.

CaryinBoulder 8:16 PM  

Anonymous @6:07. Wow! Just wow! Those were fun times. A LOT of beer under that bridge.

CaryinBoulder 8:22 PM  

@puzzlehoarder
Not blowing smoke up anyone’s behind. Per Dictionary.com:

SiPID
1. Having a pleasing taste or flavor
2. Of agreeably distinctive character

And may I add:
3. Pffffft

TAB2TAB 8:33 PM  

SB: cupric - not a word?? Helloooo!!

Z 9:11 PM  

@TJS - Sure - Brittanica is crap. I just took a peek at the Brittanica write-up on the Enlightenment (because it doesn’t have an entry on the LUMIERES). Aside from some dubious assertions, the most striking feature was the complete lack of citations.* Wikipedia, on the other hand, provides 29 footnotes and 7 external links. Or we can take a peek at the Wikipedia entry on the Age of Enlightenment, with 264 footnotes, 11 sources, 64 works cited under “For Further Reading,” and 5 external links. In short, Brittanica asks us to take its word for it, while Wikipedia insists that information be sourced. If a 9th grader came to me for advice on doing their first research paper I would point them toward Wikipedia as the easiest and best place to start.

Want to be really impressed - Brittanica could not have published this for several years.

Are there epistemological issues with Wikipedia? Sure. But that’s true of every encyclopedia. And lifting your PPP clues directly from Wikipedia is sub-optimal. Still, Wikipedia knows what is truly important about Natick, MA.



*I was prepared for the dubious assertions, I’m a little surprised that the online version provided zero outside sourcing. It seems like the print copy had sourcing, but I haven’t looked at one in four decades beyond the “do not use an encyclopedia as a reference” speech, the one every writing teacher gives some version of when assigning a research paper.

Jkol 9:23 PM  

I love Zamfir and his evocative pan pipes. Reminds me of my former incarnation.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

For Old Actor:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0041/3017/7073/products/img_2049_2_1200x1200.jpg?v=1566817772

JC66 11:53 PM  

@Anon 11:32

Great find! Thanks!

beam aims north 12:04 AM  

It was so fun to drop in ZAMFIR, Master of the Panflute, that I am forgiving this puzzle for SAPID.

thefogman 9:31 AM  

It doesn’t feel right to have a theme less on a Sunday. Not happy about that!

CV 10:01 AM  

Why did so many solvERs (sorry) not know before starting that the puzzle was themeless? Does the online version not have the constructor bio & explanatory text below the title that the in-print edition has? There, it is stated, "This puzzle is themeless." So, duh.

Did not get DETESTS/SAPID/DALIAN. "Detests" implies much stronger hatred than "Can't take". Even if I'd got the D, the vowel below could have been anything. Also got lost with BARTERER/CONGOREDS/BOSSES. Same issue as Rex with "barterers". Video-game clues should be banned.

Besides a lot of other complaints that I agree with, I disliked "Victorian home?" as clue for EASTERN AUSTRALIA. Its cleverness is obviated by its grammatical imprecision. Eastern Australia is (the state of) Victoria'S home. That doesn't make it a VictoriaN home.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

How is it possible to have not heard of BOSSES?

Unknown 9:53 AM  

My wife and I both smoked Kent Cigarettes and quit long ago -- thankfully. I was surprised that your clue referencing RJ Reynolds got past the NYT fact checkers since Kent's manufacturer at the time of the Dick Van Dyke Show was P. Lorillard. RJR came along decades later.

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