Classic brand of candy wafers / SUN 5-31-20 / Opposite of une adversaire / Myth propagated to promote social harmony in Plato's Republic / Magical teen of Archie Comics / 2017 hit movie about an Olympic skater / Songbird with dark iridescent plumage

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Constructor: Lewis Rothlein and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (time in the 12s, but I stopped a bunch for screen shots, so I'd say at least a minute less than that) (oh and I've had a margarita, so probably need a difficulty adjustment there, too)

THEME: "What Goes Up Must Come Down" — themers have internal palindromes and those are represented in the grid by letters that literally go up (i.e. you read them up) and then down (i.e. you read the same letters back down) before continuing on with the non-palindromic rest of the answer:

Theme answers:
  • MOBILE LIBRARIES (32A: Providers of books to remote locations)
  • JUVENILE DELINQUENCY (34A: Unlawful activity by a minor)
  • MEDICINAL PLANTS (66A: Some natural remedies)
  • COMMERCE SECRETARY (69A: Cabinet position once held by Herbert Hoover)
  • INOPPORTUNE MOMENT (104A: Untimely time)
  • ELABORATE DETAIL (107A: Great depth)

Word of the Day: LENA (43D: Long river of Siberia) —
The Lena (Russian: Ле́наIPA: [ˈlʲɛnə]EvenkiЕлюенэEljuneYakutӨлүөнэÖlüöneBuryatЗүлхэZülkheMongolianЗүлгэZülge) is the easternmost of the three great Siberian rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean (the other two being the Ob' and the Yenisey). Permafrost underlies most of the catchment, 77% of which is continuous. The Lena is the eleventh-longest river in the world. [...] The Lena massacre was the name given to the 1912 shooting-down of striking goldminers and local citizens who protested at the working conditions in the mine near Bodaybo in northern Irkutsk. The incident was reported in the Duma (parliament) by Kerensky and is credited with stimulating revolutionary feeling in Russia.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov may have taken his alias, Lenin, from the river Lena, when he was exiled to the Central Siberian Plateau. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello! Or should I say, HELLO! (19A: Word whose rise in popularity coincided with the spread of the telephone). I have been realizing, slowly, as this pandemic wears on, that what I want most from crosswords isn't technical proficiency or theme pyrotechnics. It's fun. Joy. Yes, there's always some inherent joy in filling in boxes, getting the right answers, etc. But I will take a simple silly gimmick if it's genuinely ridiculous and warm-hearted and entertaining. Are you having fun or just going through the motions? Does the puzzle exist in order to fill space or does it seem designed to amuse? Has it been slapped together with all the usual old fill / clues, or has it been crafted with care and wit. Does it have at least a little currency? A little now-ness? A smile to offer? A wink? A slight "'sup?" of a head nod? I'm trying to figure out why this puzzle, which seems competent enough, just left me cold. I think that, once I saw what the themers were going to do, I thought, "well ... I guess they're just gonna do that ... some more." And they did. And then the puzzle was over. There was nothing more to it than the up and the down gimmick. And look, it's structurally at least interesting, and probably technically at least a little hard to pull off while also maintaining passable fill. But the overall effect was about as fun as tossing and catching a ball lightly in one hand, over and over. The tosses aren't remarkable in themselves. They don't connect to one another, or have anything in common. There's no revealer, no "here's why we did this!" Just the metronomic up and down of the bouncing ball. Just 'cause. And the fill was, with a few exceptions, industry standard. Shrug. I expect much more than a shrug. These days, I *need* much more than a shrug.

Here was my opening gambit:

ENIAC sets off mild alarms. Stalesness alarms. But I press on.

At this point, still not feeling great about things, but then I haven't gotten any answer over 5 letters, so let's keep going and see what happens? This is just after I "get" the theme:

Thought JUVENILE went through, then couldn't get the "I" to work, eventually got EQUIP and bingo, there was the theme. I thought maybe the up/down part would spell something or have some meaning or ... something. But that never panned out. Just a whole lot more up/down.

The clue on CELIBATE is just wrong, or at least wildly inappropriate. A "virgin" is someone who has not had sex. A CELIBATE person has made a deliberate choice to abstain from sex, usually for religious reasons. This answer makes my bile rise (not really, I just wanted to say that because BILE is literally "rising" inside this answer). Let's see, what else? I wrote in EUGENE instead of HELENA, so that was fun (14D: State capital in Lewis and Clark county). You'd think I'd've remembered that the capital of Oregon is SALEM, but no. I also wrote in ELLS and LIGHT (!?) before ERAS (111D: Museum sections, perhaps) and ANGLE (122A: Selfie taker's concern). I liked IMPOUND LOT better than anything in this grid, I think. I also appreciated the genderless I.T. PEOPLE (51A: Bug experts, informally). I would've spelled MEANY with an -IE (71D: Villain). NOBLE LIE seems like a really dumb answer you'd never use if it hadn't been in some wordlist somewhere (109A: Myth propagated to promote social harmony, in Plato's "Republic"). GET A FLAT has big EAT A SANDWICH energy (84A: Pop a wheelie?). Mostly the fill is just flat. MATTE. Dull.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I love you, Minneapolis

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:01 AM  

All HAIL Lewis and Jeff for this fantastic Sunday puzzle. This is the best Sunday in years! It’s just a shame that Lewis (the blog contributor) isn’t available to sing the praises of Lewis (the constructor). I know he could do a much better job than I have done here.

Mazel tov Lewis and Jeff.

Z 12:28 AM  

Rex says he like titles, but how much more fun would this have been if the title hadn’t shouted out what was up? Give me a good, punny revealer every time.

Liked this more than Rex. Caught on right away to the internal palindromes, all with the apex letter not repeated. Nice. I was a little worried when the first themer had BILE going up, that didn’t seem likely to pass the breakfast test, although a regurgitation theme would probably be a first. Fortunately, the rest of the themers are less gurglely.

ENIAC, the Brian Eno of early computers, got the side eye, otherwise I thought the fill was inoffensive. I’m pretty sure the PUMA clue was Lewis’. I’m guessing there are not a lot of Catamount fans beyond WCU alums.


turkeyneck 12:31 AM  

Loved Friday and even the easier Saturday this week but this one was simply tedious and never exciting for a moment.

jae 12:33 AM  

Easy-medium. What was weird for me was filling in the puzzle correctly without grokking the theme. If anything slowed me down it was looking at the theme answers and thinking they seemed strange. I figured it out with a couple of minutes of post solve staring. Very clever and tricky. Liked it a bunch. Nice one guys.

About solving for speed vs. savoring the puzzle. When I started doing crosswords in the early 2000’s I was all about savoring. I was also about looking every thing up. I actually wore out a couple of crossword dictionaries. I discovered Rex while looking stuff up in late 2006. Reading Rex brought the realization that the one of the goals of this endeavor was to solve sans aids. The movie “Wordplay” confirmed this. I started doing that in early 2007 and gradually got better at it. That was 20 or 30 thousand puzzles ago. While I am not a speed solver I’ve found that solving as quickly as I can is now part of what I enjoy about this past time, especially the early week puzzles. Amy Reynaldo (a true speed solver) said something similar on this blog shortly after I started reading it. I now know where she and Rex were coming from. I have no idea if this a typical evolution for a solver, but it has been my experience.

Loren Muse Smith 1:20 AM  

Leeewwwwwiiiissss! Yay! Congrats on your first Sunday! This is such a neat idea!

Rex – I want fun, too, from my puzzles. But since puzzles are built out of words and clues and since all I think about is Language, pretty much any puzzle has something fun to offer me. (@jae – my solving trajectory has been the opposite; over the years, I’ve actually slowed down so I can wander around the grid smelling all the roses.)

When I finally saw the conceit this morning, I was delighted. (It took me a while, though, because as Rex pointed out, BILE literally goes up, so I was looking for words in the circles that could “come up” as it were. Oops. Morning, @Z.) I had a terrific time figuring out each themer. Fun, fun, fun.

Loved the clue for OPINE.

For 96A, I had “bad” before FAR. Go bad, so bad.

Early on, I had MOBILE LIBRARIES in place, not understanding the trick, I just thought it was a cool portmanteau MOBRARIES. Mom! Can you take us to the mall? The mobrary is there today!

Does anyone out there in the wild actually say the word PAIL? Probably a regional thing, but that word is right there in my lexicon with toad, tortoise, bosom, whom, and die (singular of dice) - I just never actually say any of them.

Also – PAIL is just one of the 57 items that an American beachgoer schleps down to the encampment. Radio, three coolers, snacks, sunglasses, lunch, binoculars, floats, Accent meat tenderizer, Frisbee, boogie boards, kite, volleyball, walkie-talkies, masks and snorkels, sand sifters, nerf football, shovels, sunscreen, books, metal detector, magazines, hats. Maybe things are changing now in other countries, but the few times I went to a beach in Italy or France, my fellow European beachgoers cheerfully grabbed a little dish towel and headed on down. Like they were gonna just experience the beauty of the beach itself sans accoutrements. Shudder.

Selfie takers concern: recent salt intake. Man, that %$#&’ll flat Puff. You. Up. I hate selfies about as much as I hate to see I have an incoming FaceTime call.

I fell for the entomologist trap before I got IT PEOPLE. More than once, I’ve told someone I studied linguistics, and the person went straight to entomology. Hah. So close to etymology. Actually, someone gave me a book once on forensic entomology thinking it was about words. No. Really.

I had never heard the term NOBLE LIE, so I googled it. Like the clue says, it’s political and involves lying to people too dumb to know better, feeding propaganda “for the sake of public welfare.” Hmm. I lost interest when I saw that for it to happen you need a leader concerned about public welfare. Guess we’re stuck with a buncha ignoble lies.

I’ll echo Rex – I love Minnesota, love the Minneapolis airport as my connection to dogsledding adventures, love Ely. My heart goes out to all Minnesotans, and we have many here in Rexville. Hang in there.

astrotrav 1:34 AM  

I'm not a fan of Sundays. They tend to turn into a slog. I took one look at this grid and was sure I'd hate it, but I ended up at least admiring its technical difficulty. As Rex pointed out, MEANY is not the correct spelling. For a while I had hEAvY, which caused all sorts of problems.

chefwen 3:13 AM  

Got the trick early on with the title of the puzzle and MOBILE RARIES, that was the easy one. The rest, not too easy for me. The Herbert Hoover one was my sticking point and last fill.

My rascally Border Collie, the source of all my pain for the last couple of months thanks to my fractured foot was down right pleased to see his name ROBBIE featured in in the NYT Sunday puzzle.

Love, love, love TOMMY BAHAMA clothes. Got a bunch of them, they never go out of style.

Great puzzle Lewis and Jeff. Thanks.

Dave 5:50 AM  

I think the constructor deserves a little credit because it seems like a difficult thing to do!! Very awe-inspiring!

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

I initially spelled “dammit” as “damnit” and it took me five minutes to realize that “legarnor”, which I assumed was some obscure French term from the middles ages, was, in fact, “leg armor”

JJ 6:51 AM  

What a great idea for a puzzle. How many of us would look for palindromes, within words, to come up with today’s conceit?
We all know, from his commentary, that Lewis notices things that pass right under our noses, that we would miss without reading his blog posts. I had so much fun finding the answers to the themes. Well done Lewis and Jeff

GILL I. 7:16 AM  

I'm glad you're not a food critic,'d probably shred my lemon-arugula chicken paillard to pieces.
Where to start? First, let me say WOW. Then I'll repeat it....WOW. Way to go Lewis and Jeff. This was in the amazing category, if you ask me. Nary a shrug - just smiles here and there. Took me a long time to see your amazing theme but, by gum, I got her at the MO(BILE)RARIES. I did think a few thoughts about BILE. I think it's stored in the gallbladder but I had mine removed so I'm not sure where it goes now. AHEM.
Love me some Feng Shui. I bet that's yours, Lewis? You need that in every room..just like @chefwen needs her Aloha TOMMY Bahama shirt in Hawaii. Aloha.
We've had so many ho hum Sundays and today we get something clever and new. This wasn't filled with a ton of proper names and the ones you did have were primo. I will agree though, that CELIBATE doesn't necessarily mean virgin. It just means you can't kiss someone....unless you're a priest.

mathgent 7:39 AM  

I don’t do usually do the Sunday unless Nancy, who gets her Sunday paper on Saturday, recommends it. But I heard yesterday on the blog that it was by Jeff and Lewis and I knew it would be good. I started it last night and got up early this morning to finish it.

I’m blown away by how clean it is. Not a single piece of junk. And with a giant grid.

Of course the cluing was smart with those two meticulous technicians, but there was much more to admire. Original theme. Good crunch. Things learned. The whole nine yards. Wow!

Colin 7:46 AM  

I admit to liking pretty much all puzzles, but that's like saying I like almost all wines not matter the quality or cost. But that's not to say this puzzles was like a cheap wine, no! I very much appreciate the construction using such internal palindromes - thank you, Lewis and Jeff.

Like LMS, I also thought "mobraries" was a real thing at first, until the up-down theme came to light. I'll agree with OFL that CELIBATE and virgin are not synonymous, but "like a virgin" - well, I think this is not well-clued, but it's not egregious. Never heard of TIEONEONE. Personally did not appreciate ITPEOPLE - I don't call ITPEOPLE, I call IT guys, IT experts, or just "IT". Got stuck on SPYFILM for the longest time. Had to look up the Flying Tigers school, and still had trouble... because I had written SAHARAHAT for African coverage, and there is actually such a thing! (And then I didn't know NOBLELIE from The Republic - I had this Latin-like word, but then, Plato is Greek [to me]. Face palm.)

Some folks have complained in the past about gratuitous articles ("a"-something, "the"-something): But here, wouldn't the opposite of une adversarie be "UNEAMIE" instead of simply "AMIE"?

June around the corner! Here's hoping we don't see a second wave, of anything. Be well, be safe, take good care one and all.

Birchbark 7:56 AM  

Favorite clues, both of which challenged and delivered on solving: GILL -- "Breathtaking sight on the ocean." OPINE -- "Give one's take."

@Rex's grid photos are very similar to my start this morning. But his attitude about the solve was the very opposite of mine. I don't read titles, so the vertical palindromes were a genuine surprise. They have a loop-the-loop vitality, which I would liken to an old "Hot Wheels" ad, but with words. You can read them again and again and still get a transitory pause at the arc.

Goofiest mistake: LArD --> LAID (120A "Put down"). I was picturing an old-fashioned scenario for canning vegetables, viz.: "Ma figured with winter coming on, she should put down the beets. She LArDed plenty that year. At night, sometimes she'd play the piano. Anyway, this is the last jar. I'd like you to have it when I'm gone."

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Very cool, but tough theme. I had a bunch of “Which vowel is it?” moments, which compounded the problem. I would have never gotten it right on paper. After I do the NYT puzzle using the app on my iPad, I do the LAT puzzle on paper. I find it much harder on paper to feel that it’s correct.

pabloinnh 8:05 AM  

Well, as others have said, a Sunday puz that says wow (see yesterday's shag rug discussion). I found this just tricky and clever enough to stay on the right side of showing off. Very impressive construction and a lot of fun clues. Agree with the distinction between celibacy and virginity, but that was my only nit. RIND for PEEL and REW for REC both slowed me down for a bit, as did DAMNIT for DAMMIT, but that was OK as I got to spend more time with this. Could have been a skosh harder without the title, I'm wondering how long it would have taken to figure the gimmick out.

@Z-Lots of catamount fans around here, as it's also the mascot of UVM, just across the border. My thought about PUMAS took me back to the Smothers Brothers, but I realize that's probably just me.

High paraise, wows, and a big well done to Lewis and Jeff. Please accept the Saturdazo award with my thanks.

ChuckD 8:16 AM  

Probably liked it more than Rex - but not much. The construction is elegant and technically impressive - the fill just wasn’t there. I liked mobile libraries and it’s always nice to see the great Ali in a puzzle but the majority of this left me bored. Lysol was interesting because we haven’t seen it here in NY for months - then not one but two references to Tanya Harding in the same puzzle?? There has to be something more intriguing than that.

mooretep 8:18 AM  

Loved the structure of the puzzle and going up and down to parse the answers to the clues.
Found the fill to be just fine.

But here, I really want to thank OFL for the Nina Simone clip from Montreaux 1976.
I am a big fan but had never seen this before today.
What a consummate artist.

Z 8:24 AM  

The MEANY discussion is, uh, odd. i have no idea about the actual bug infested etymology, but -y seems like the proper ending and -ie as the slangy variant. I mean this generally, not just in this case.

The CELIBATE discussion is, uh, odd. Celibacy means eschewing sex, often but not always for religious reasons. A virgin hasn’t had sex. The problem seems to be that lots of you think celibacy exists in only a religious context. To be a MEANY, the problem is your parochialism, not the clue. While not all CELIBATEs are virgins, all virgins are CELIBATE.

@LMS - That thing kids use to make sand castles has one and only one name, PAIL. What else would you call it? House painters also seem to use PAILs, although when the PAIL becomes a bucket has never been clear to me. Nor why a bucket seat would be considered comfortable (I mean, they are, but the name conjures up images of people with their asses stuck in a bucket, unable to get up).

@Colin - The “une” in the clue is there only to signal that the answer is AMIE and not ami. Articles in clues don’t typically signal that an article will appear in the answer since, well, articles in answers are suboptimal and generally shouldn’t appear.

RoccoChaz 8:29 AM  

During the solve I actually thought to myself “This is hard. I’m not enjoying this. I’m not going to get to the end and suddenly love it just because I finished.”

I loved it.

Suzie Q 8:35 AM  

I loved the clever clues today. I feel like @ Lewis' voice showed through the amusing ones. Like @ Birchbark I really liked the clue for gill.
Thanks guys! Congrats to @ Lewis.

kitshef 8:46 AM  

Quite relieved to enjoy this puzzle. I did not particularly enjoy Lewis's last puzzle, and felt bad about that. Lewis is such a mensch that you want to love his puzzles.

Anyway, I though this was totally boss, with a theme that sparkled. And Lewis even worked GILL into the grid.

I feel certain, especially given @Z's early comment, that my enjoyment was enhanced by my policy of not reading the titles. Figuring out the theme was a big part of the fun.
[My policy of not reading constructor names until after the fact was alertlessly spoiled yesterday.]

In Yellow Submarine, it was Blue Meanie, and can there be a more definitive source?

kitshef 9:02 AM  

@Z - we always brought a bucket and spade to the beach, not a shovel and definitely not a pail.

@mathgent - maybe you tuned out before you got the the last row, but EKES and TSPS?

@LMS - how do you get through life without using the word "toad"? To me, that's like going through life without using the word "tree".

BLS 9:09 AM  

Also loved the Nina simone clip, had never seen it, and very powerful in the light of what's happening today. Thank you for that. I almost finished yesterday, but was too lazy to get the theme! Enjoyable puzzle though...

Sam Scott 9:10 AM  

You ever hear a baseball purist wax lyrical about how the sport happened into the perfect dimensions for the infield? The distance from catcher to pitcher, base to base, batter to fielders, all perfectly weighted to allow hits, runs, steals but only if done to their own perfection.

I often think about this doing Sunday puzzles, which are too often like games of baseball played to less enlightened rules. In the 21x21 world, the game bogs down, zippy ideas fade in the vastness of the field, the runner rarely reaches.

A tortured analogy perhaps. But to me Sunday is the weekly reminder that 15x15 are hallowed dimensions, and 21X21 just a way to pass time on Sundays and often not much of that.

I say this even though I rate this higher than most Sundays and tip my hat to the feat. I'd just rather the format retired.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Just loved two "new words": COMMETARY and ELABORAIL. Both very expressive and full of meaning(s)...

bertoray 9:14 AM  

Very enjoyable solve. Loved the aha moment. Like @LMS, I initially thought MOBRARIES was an unfamiliar portmanteau.

burtonkd 9:18 AM  

After the heads up yesterday, I jumped up excited to work on this and it didn’t disappoint! Needing a lot of small things to get to the big ones, then have the puzzle reveal itself is a feature, not a bug in my book. Plus you worked in a triple S. More later, need to work.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Where is the first “m” in moment?

Ciclista21 9:27 AM  

I agree, Rex, the puzzle left me cold too. For me, the first sinking feeling came at 1 Across: ETC. Really, you’re gonna begin a Sunday puzzle on such a lame note as that? The puzzle will have to struggle to overcome the initial distaste. It never achieved that.

I thought the theme, once I grokked it, was clever. But the unevenness of its execution flattened its appeal.

JUVE(NILE DELIN)QUENCY is truly clever. The rise and fall section totals an impressive five spaces, and the zenith is as high as you can rise in that column. None of the other theme answers achieve both feats.

ELABOR(ATE DETA)IL at least puts the turnaround letter at the top of a down clue, but has only a four-letter rise.

COMM(ERCE SECRE)TARY has a five-letter rise, but the turnaround point is arbitrarily buried in the middle of the down answer COUR(SE CRE)DIT. Blah.

The rest — blah on both counts. Short rises and arbitrary turning points.

But Rex, Rex, Rex, I have to object to your dissing ENIAC. What on earth do you have against a milestone in computer history? Its age? Do you feel the same way about Wonder Woman? I bet not.

As for NOBLE LIE, it's almost shocking to see a college professor denounce the concept as a random phrase culled from a word list.

QuasiMojo 9:27 AM  

This one had me from HELLO but nearly lost me with CELIBATE. Mary was a virgin (hi Plato?) but was married. You can't be married and celibate. A nun must be celibate but she doesn't have to be a virgin. ETC.

Also "Elaborate Detail" feels green painty to me. "In elaborate detail" is a phrase but try googling it. You mostly get elaborate-- and even if you do it doesn't really match up with "great depth."

All that said, this was a masterfully constructed crossword with plenty of elaborate detail AND depth. A full meal!

I finished it at a SNAIL's pace. Loved the "Safari Hat" clue. And many more.


Brit solves NYT 9:29 AM  

Agree mostly with Rex today. I liked the theme idea but did think there would be an extra layer, whether a reveal or the circles creating words on a theme. There are loads of words or phrases with internal palindromes so it could be possible.

Fill did indeed feel stale, I suspect all the creators use giant wordlists to get a grid fill and so thats unavoidable unless they culled it down to remove a considerable percentage of the junk or stale stuff, but then maybe couldn't fill the grid at all at this size. This is where british crosswords come into their own, very little pressure on grid fill so much more creativity can come into play and you can go a whole year of puzzles in a newspaper without a single word repeating, impossible with the US style grid.

Roberto 9:34 AM  

My favorite clue was for necco. After the manufacturer went bankrupt in 2018. A buyer emerged and announced this week it would start producing necco wafers again. A coincidence I m guessing..

OffTheGrid 9:34 AM  

This opus was better than many Sundays. I do not read titles but for some reason the NYT E-edition started printing the title in way oversize font and I unintentionally saw today's title. Then I saw the circles. These two features gave away way too much and really dumbed down a very good puzzle.

Diane 9:37 AM  

Where's the second m in inopportune moment. My puzzle reads inopportune oment??

pmdm 9:43 AM  

I am delighted so many who comment here liked this puzzle. A lot. On one level, it demonstrates if you want to construct a good puzzle, you should ignore mar Sharp's analyses. Ai for the general masses, not the outliers.

I don't understand at all the write-up's comment about the 3D clue. A virgin is celibate. Maybe not by choice, but it is true that a virgin has been celibate and will be celibate until not a virgin. (Ask Madonna.) Z is correct, absolutely. I am highly irritated of not getting this entry, even understanding the correct entry to 32A. My mind was just not working enough to suss out the theme. Makes me feel like a fool.

This puzzle must have been constructed a while ago, because it was actually an enjoyable solve for him. No surprise there. I would think he must be one of the more enjoyable instructors to teach at a university. If he taught sloser to NYC I might be tempted to enroll in his course.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

Boy, is this clever and well done! It must have been a bear to create: finding the unusual palindromes, embedding them into long, unexpected and unique answers and then embedding those answers into a crossword puzzle grid. This has to be one of the most intricate grids I've ever seen. But, happily, it's not only about Lewis and Jeff's terrific construction accomplishment; it's also about the very crunchy solving experience it provides to the solver. In fact, it was so crunchy that I needed help to solve -- and fortunately that help was provided.

I'm talking about the title, along with the tiny little circles. I haven't read the blog yet, but I see that @Z, for one, would have preferred no title; that he would have preferred to have been required to see the up-and-downness of the full answers on his own. Not me! As you know, I'm the world's least visual person, and I'm afraid I would have only seen half of each answer: that I would have gone up and neglected to come back down. Thus seeing MOBILE, but not MOBILE LIBRARIES. JUVENILED (??!!), but not JUVENILE DELINQUENCY. Maybe I'm selling myself short. Maybe I would have come back down again on my own -- but don't bet the bank on it.

So instead of being baffled and maybe even frustrated, I was given a sporting chance -- and I ran with it. Each embedded themer gave me an "Aha" and brought a smile to my face when I saw it. Very entertaining, challenging and different. I loved it! Congrats, Lewis and Jeff.

Teedmn 9:54 AM  

SPY FarM, hay, why not? They have to grow them somewhere and with intelligence, right?

So a two square DNF today, but the journey there was fun. I solved randomly so I picked up the theme at ELABORATE DETAIL and then it helped my solve in a couple of places.

It's true that I've never seen a haiku with a title before but had never thought of it so I think that's a great clue for UNTITLED. My favorite clue was for PROMENADES, which had me thinking prams before amblers, though one would probably see a baby stroller there also. I had fun mentally drumming up "Eleanor Rigby" to get CELLO. LEG ARMOR was amusingly anticlimactic when I was expecting "greaves" or some other technical term.

I didn't remember that SABRINA the teenage witch came from Archie comics. I smiled to see GELT for the second time this week. LYSOL and DAMMIT describe the current ERAS perfectly unfortunately. GET A FLAT for "Pop a wheelie" is rather precious, but I smiled. PIECE OF PAPER for what marriage is to some was much better than my original guess of "convenience" (which didn't fit).

I could go on enumerating the great CLUES but you all did the puzzle so you know of which I speak.

Lewis and Jeff, great job. Thanks for the entertaining Sunday.

Gretchen 9:55 AM  

I'm glad everyone enjoyed this puzzle. I hated it. There's always next week...

ChuckD 10:03 AM  

@Z - good explanation of the celibate nuance however there are plenty of virgins who are not voluntarily choosing to abstain.

Debra 10:05 AM  

I’m guessing this puzzle was more fun to construct than to solve.

Preferred Customer 10:08 AM  

Great puzzle, much fun with the clues. Many satisfying twists of mind.

Tepee sounds like tepid and my reaction to it is even colder.


amyyanni 10:09 AM  

Very cool.

GG 10:11 AM  

Poor Rex, for two weeks in a row, Rex disliked two very clever puzzles. I think the s--t storm going on in our country is getting to him.. Chin up Rex!

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
Kudos @Lewis, on a nice SunPuz. Oh, and you to, @Jeff Chen-puz-cranker-outer.

The theme was neat, I made a similar type puz, never sent it in to the NYT, though, and now can't find it. I never printed it out, and it seems to have been lost in the etherness of my computer. Oh well.

I do have a nit (sorry @Lewis). Although I do see they are palindromes, the consistency is off too me. Some end on the last up-letter, some end on the second-to-last up-letter, and that NEMO/OMEN one breaks all the rules with the first word stopping at NE, then MO up, back down to MEN. It rubbed me the wrong way. But, who am I to criticize an established constructor who actually gets his puzs published?

The fill was impressive, though, with the constraints it had to work around. Clean enough for a big grid.

Had a DAMMIT section in the middle. LENA clued was a WOE (how about Actress Dunham?), plus ADZ which for some reason didn't want to enter the ole brain (Axe wouldn't go away), DISCOS trickily clued, DADAIST Marcel unknown to me as one, was thinking he was a French politico, and the ITP start of the bug clue, wanting an exterminator answer. So hung up there, which led to a Google for LENA.

EGG, man, again. 😋
Margot ROBBIE is sexy!
DAngIT first for DAMMIT, DAng IT!
Pilot opposite clue very perplexing, I was like "passenger?"
TIE ONE ON TOE TO TOE - Getting drunk face to face?
ALI first and last name.
And why don't HAIKU-ers TITLE their works?

I solved this puzzle
It was a fun task to do
Kudos to Lewis!


Three F's

Preferred Customer 10:18 AM  

Hi QuasiMojo,

Abstaining from marriage is one definition of celibacy, but it is predicated on the assumption that marriage is equivalent to engaging in sex. But there are marriages that are celibate. There is no way to be a virgin if you are not celibate. The miracle of a virgin birth requires celibacy, or it is no miracle.


Ann Hedonia 10:20 AM  

You've been doing this since 2006? Wow....

Nancy 10:22 AM  

@Birchbark (7:56)-- And I originally had LAnD for "put down" (as in an airplane) -- which gave me a heap of trouble. I actually went to Google to see if there could possibly be anyone named ROBBNE.

Another hand up for DAMn IT before DAMMIT, leading to much bafflement about LEGARNOR.

And, while I never wrote it in, my "word after "so" or "go" was to have been bAd instead of FAR. But I couldn't come up with a B word that was the opposite of "pilot". What a fabulous, fabulous clue for FINALE! Bet it's Lewis's.

Other great clues were for GILL; SNIT; PENSION PLAN; OPINE; SAHARA HAT and my favorite: PIECE OF PAPER.

JamieP 10:32 AM  

I'm usually closer to the Rex side of the commenting spectrum than the Lewis side. However, I'm firmly with Lewis (in terms of both his usual commentary and his construction here). I worked hard, and it's been a long time since I had such an AHA! payoff. Let's face it, all of us have done many, many puzzles where the themers went up or down, but to rise to a peak, hesitate, and then drop like a roller coaster is inspired. Even though we will never meet, I felt a sense of pride in Lewis, feeling that he had risen to the level of his own raves over the years. As @Joaquin says batting leadoff today, Lewis could praise this much better than I have been, but I'll start with "elegant."

pabloinnh 10:35 AM  

Re UNTITLED haikus-- Fun fact: a friend just pointed out to me that,if you leave out the bridge, all the verses in "Moonlight in Vermont" are haikus. So that while it is true that haikus are traditionally untitled, in one case at least, a collection of them does have a title, and it's the state song of Vermont, over there across the river.

57stratocaster 10:39 AM  

Loved it, esp. since Lewis co-created it. Way to go, and congratulations, @Lewis!

(Don in Ann Arbor)

Mohair Sam 10:41 AM  

Different! Lots of "aha!" moments. Mid-phrase palindromes instead of the usual tortured puns. And quality cluing in spite of demanding theme restrictions. A treat rather than tedium in a Sunday puzz. Great job (our) Lewis and the other guy. Thank you.

A poster here yesterday called Audrey Hepburn "the It Girl of the moment" in the '60's. My blood has cooled enough to post. Audrey Hepburn will be the It Girl until the end of time, maybe longer.

Lorelei Lee 10:45 AM  

Two days in a row now I'm nodding my head yep as I read Rex's review. We're looking for joy, entertainment, fun. And that means puzzles I can do. But my "I can do" doesn't mean glide through or finish.

I didn't glide through or finish this big bad boy but it was like the fun of rock climbing. A sussfest, one toehold per word.

Moments of joy - Mobraries, Medicints, Commetary.

Loved Noble Lie, which a friend used last week to comment on the 401(k) retirement plan. Necco wafers, where I developed my bargaining skills, "Three orange ones for a chocolate."

I do cry foul dammit at that SE corner. Reed didn't need the clue of an obscure college and matte could have been the easy obvious.

But the furlough brain needed a work out, and this was it!

Carola 10:52 AM  

I loved the ingenuity of the theme and had fun figuring out each up-and-down answer. With BILE rising so early in my solve, I thought it would come down somewhere else in the grid while right here I had it crossing "lobraries" - you know, where books get lobbed to their remote locations. Fortunately, I was able to see that an M was needed, thus getting me the MOBiLE LIBRARIES and the decoding key.

@Lewis, it was a happy surprise to see your name at the top. Thanks fo you and Jeff for this Sunday treat.

Barbara S. 10:53 AM  

Loved it -- lots of cheery ahas!

Is it polite/kosher/any-of-my-business to ask you about the process of construction? How exactly did you and Jeff collaborate? Did one or both of you construct the grid? One or both write the clues? I'm one of those people who always likes to know how things work. But maybe XW construction is like sleight-of-hand, and I know that magicians never divulge their secrets.

Matt Messinger 10:55 AM  

I think Rex has a lot of unhappiness looking for a home.

QuasiMojo 10:56 AM  

Celibate means unmarried. Chastity is another thing. Marriages can be chaste. But if you are married you are not celibate. Look it up. Words change over time, and are stretched beyond their original meanings, but that doesn't make celibate a synonym for virginal. A child is born a virgin but he or she is not celibate. Celibacy is a choice. It is not something you are at birth.

Joe Dipinto 10:58 AM  

This puzzle had me at NECCO wafers, my favorite candies, which, in a happy coincidence, are being rolled out again this summer after a two-year absence. Hope they still do the all-chocolate rolls.

Well, in truth, the puzzle had me long before I got to that clue. I started out filling in a few random answers around the grid, then worked on patchwork sections. An area would seem easy, but then I'd grind to a halt and have to move somewhere else. Which was interesting because I wasn't getting any sense of what was going on. Which I was liking for awhile.

I thought maybe the circled letters going up in one spot would be coming down somewhere else? The counts were 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, so that seemed possible. Until it didn't. I got frustrated at 104a, the letters of which suggested both INOPPORTUNE and UNIMPORTANT. And 107 looked like ELABORATE, but that didn't quite agree with the clue. Dammit, what was going on?

Anyway, I finally figured it out when I got here. Great a-ha moment – Now I get it!

The long down answers were a feat unto themselves – nice icing on the cake. Very ambitious construction work. Great job all around, @Lewis (and Jeff)!

webwinger 11:01 AM  

A real tussle! Didn’t figure out the schema until mostly done, then saw that every place I’d been stumped was a trap set by the theme. A very complex aha moment followed. Was this fiendishly brilliant, or just brilliantly fiendish? Will have to think about it for a while…

Z 11:12 AM  

Regarding INOPPORTUNE MOMENT, remember that you read the answer going up then coming down again, so the M starts MOMENT going up, turns on the O, and then is the second M on the way down.

@Chuck D - One can be CELIBATE without choosing to be. It just means abstaining from sex. I’m pretty sure you can find a rom-com on Netflix right now with some reference to the lead character being upset about being CELIBATE unwillingly.

@Ciclista21 -Regarding ENIAC, Rex’s plaint isn’t about ENIAC per se, but rather about the fact that its very useful letters make it seem like it was immediately followed by an iMac. It is Ese of the highest order and will appear in a puzzle near you again soon.

Kathy 11:21 AM  

Wow! A perfect Sunday!

Initially, I cruised along not worrying about the theme. A good many false starts and erasures, but that is part of the tussle for me. I don’t want things to fall too easily. Once I had the first row of circles filled, I decided to stop and see what was going on. I saw BILE backwards and decided, well, bile comes up and goes back down...let’s see if I can scrounge up some free letters...nope, the answer reads up then down. Sure, this has been done before, but such long words, and so many of them! I’m impressed.

It hits so many marks:
Cute theme
Doesn’t skews toward any specific demographic
Enough crunch to make it interesting but not discouraging
Not cluttered with PPP or junk
Plenty of long words
Clues like bug people and breathless sight—hi, @GILL ;-)
(I confess I didn’t even notice the palindromes)

Perplexed at how Rex itemized what, to him, makes a good puzzle, then proceeded to trash a puzzle that delivered just what he said he wants.

@Lewis + Jeff, more, please!

Trivia: NECCO stands for New England Confectionary Company.

egsforbreakfast 11:34 AM  

This was a masterful construction that had to have begged for slopppy fill. When you are locked into unbreakable acrosses and downs, things get dicey. But Lewis and Jeff handled it magnificently. It wasn’t hard to get the trick or to solve the whole puzzle, but I was awestruck by the cleanliness of the construction. I was only about halfway through when I found myself wondering what Rex would seize on to bash this puzzle. And the answer was ........ it left him cold. Well, I guess any masterpiece might leave you cold. Maybe Guernica or Eroica or Godel’s Proof leave you cold. But you could at least make a nod at the artistry involved in the effort.

For a while I had GuLL as a breathtaking sight in the ocean. I thought Jeff and Lewis must be over-the-top into birds if they think a seagull is breathtaking, with all due respect to Jonathan Livingston.

Tremendous puzzle J and L!!!

OffTheGrid 11:35 AM  

Time for the BEE yet? OK, good. I'm 2 words, 11 points from yesterday's QB. Before I knew that I could find out total number of words and total possible points I would have stopped by now. It feels halfway like cheating. It helps to know that I need a 5-letter word and a 6-letter word. OTOH, I still have to find them.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

does a puma dream of a mount on a catamite?

Incel (not inchaste) 11:44 AM  

I’ve always thought that the distinction between chastity and celibacy was an important one but unfortunately that battle is lost.

Dave S 11:46 AM  

I completely shifted gears on this puzzle somewhere around halfway through. Top half seemed just too flat out easy and stuffed with crossword puzzle stalwarts (which continued. If I never see another anorak ....) "Toe to toe" so soon after "nose to nose" annoyed me for some reason, and I was really afraid it was going to employ the word "mobrarian." But the puzzle got more bristly (for me, anyway) as it went on and the sheer cleverness of the themed answers won me over. When it wrapped up with a mention of of my daughter's wonderfully rigorous yet creative alma mater, Reed College, I was sold. A nice way to spend Sunday morning.

TinPT 11:50 AM  

Loved this puzzle, both for the theme and for the quality time I got with my mom doing it together over Zoom. We had been video chatting (I’m in Chicago, she’s in rural Alabama) after dinner and made a plan to do the Sunday puzz together on Sunday (we’ve never done this before, but maybe I got the idea from Rex solving with his daughter?). We were about to hang up so my husband and I could go for an evening walk, when we started hearing alerts all around us about a curfew in Chicago. Suddenly a captive audience, I suggested, “Puzzle now?” No time like the present! It took us a little over an hour, and the shared experience of uncovering the “up then down” theme was a blast. My mom is SO good at solving--I had no idea! I got IMPOUND LOT and mom got SAFARI HAT with just the “FA.” I think we were equally impressed with each other. Turns out that she and my (now deceased) grandmother used to solve the NYTXW together regularly, but it had been nearly 20 years since they last worked a puzzle. In the flood of memories I recalled my grandmother, a navy wife in WWII, was alway self-educating. When I was in undergrad at MIT, she was teaching herself algebra and C++ from borrowed textbooks. When I got my first job as a consultant, she was thrilled I’d “earned the first shift” at such a young age (9-to-5 desk work for a 22-year-old was unheard of to her). So many happy memories, and it was wonderful to have such a meaningful shared experience with my mom. Cheers to my Meemaw and to you for reading my rambles.

egsforbreakfast 11:52 AM  

All the virginity talk reminds me of a twist on the Rare Earth song that begins “Why can’t we just celebrate another day of living?”

As kids we thought it funny to convert it to “I can’t remain celibate another day of living”.

Newboy 11:53 AM  


David 12:13 PM  

My dad, who wrote an essay about how Plato comes to the wrong conclusion in The Republic during his senior year at college, used "noble lie" quite often. So a gimme for me.

Did this one pretty much north to south with a bit of flicking about. As always didn't see the name of the puzzle, and am happy there's not a novel describing the elegance and brilliance of it all up there. I finally saw what was going on at 104A/74D and thought, "Oh. Okay.", although I had noticed the bile rising in 3D. Went back and looked at them all after I was done. Again. Okay.

Liked Zeal being in the same area as Aztec, and then Incas going down slightly to the southwest of Aztec. Clue for get a flat was fun. Solti and the Dadaists as well.

I guess I had more fun than Rex.

sloan wolf 12:16 PM  

Lewis strikes again!

I was very pleasantly surprised to see Lewis' name as constructor before the start. And he didn't disappoint with this effort. Another challenging, enjoyable and rewarding puzzle!

It's so cool to see new twists to crosswordplay after so many puzzles. It's remarkable this theme hadn't been done before. And the whole puzzle was a joy.

My personal favorite as a Beatles fan was using Eleanor Rigby to clue cello.

Thanks to my friend Lewis - miss you! - and to Jeff too for their creation.

TJS 12:20 PM  

I decided to read the Title of todays' puzzle, which I usually don't do, and then promptly forgot it when I got involved in the solve. Also payed no attention to the circles in the grid. As a result, like some others, I found much of the puzzle easy going until I would come to a dead stop. Kept jumping around to try to come from a different direction, ran the alphabet at various times, all the usual methods when confronted by a true test. When I returned with my second cup of coffee, I was struck by the fact that all my dead ends were involved with circled boxes. Reread the title. DUH .

So, oddly enough, I probably got more enjoyment from the puzzzle than if I had been looking for the conceit right from the beginning. Definitely could see the @Lewis effect in the cluing, since he always has an interesting take on this, esp. his top ten list every week. This was an hour long solve for me, very rare for a Sunday, and a total enjoyment. Thank you, constructors.

JC66 12:20 PM  


Great job. You and Jeff deserve high praise for this fun and special puzzle.

One nit (hi @Roo), why did you include @GILL and not include me? 😀

Oh, and you got @LMS to come back, as well.

Like I said, great job.

GILL I. 12:24 PM  

@JC66. I'm prettier than you.... :-)

Z 12:34 PM  

@QuasiMojo - Did you look it up?
Because you should know by now that I did.
I mean, I can do this all day.
Heck, you can even find stuff about it as a lifestyle choice.
And, no, this isn’t some some new way to use the word.
Color me gobsmacked that so many people think this word has one narrow meaning, especially since that’s not even it’s primary meaning and has never been. Somebody’s propaganda has been unusually effective. I included that specific etymology link because the second paragraph especially amused me given today’s discussion.

What? 12:34 PM  

Got MOBRARIES. Wow, that’s clever. Wait, what are those circles for? Up, down, something is going on. There’s no reveal but there is a title. Multiple aha’s. Great fun to solve (as usual when I get 100) and loud claps for the constructors. Conceiving the idea 💡 is one brilliant thing but the execution is even more. What kind of strange neurons do these people have?

Imagine trying to solve without the circles. Wonder if they were added by Shortz.

MR. Cheese 12:37 PM  

Count me among those impressed with this construction difficulty. I labored but finished... whew!
Had damnit before dammit. Dammit is one word. Damn it is two words.... just sayin’

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Please explain COMMETARY. Thanks.

pmdm 12:44 PM  

QuasiMojo: As Z said, you can look it up, as both of us have. While it is true you can find your definition in a reliable sourse, it is not the only definition. You can apply your definition to the clue, in which case the clue would be wrong. But by convention, if one accepted definition satisfies the clue, the clue is correct for crossword puzzles. While it irritates me (I have been tipped up many times), it's just the way it is. At least it allows for a lot of [useless] arguing.

Ethan Taliesin 12:46 PM  

I thought it was clever.

Also--the second meaning of CELIBATE according to the definition (that comes up on google) is just not having sex. Has INCEL (involuntary celibate) ever appeared in the Times?

Malsdemare 12:50 PM  

The Nina Simone pieces honestly gave me goosebumps. Just for those, this was a spectacular moment. Thanks, Rex.

That is all. Speechless here.

Nancy from Chicago 12:51 PM  

When I saw "Lewis" as one of the constructors' names, I didn't realize it was the Lewis who posts here until I came here. Lewis and Jeff, great puzzle! I enjoyed the theme and the wordplay in the fill. Hard enough to be enjoyable, but not so hard as to be frustrating - perfect Sunday treat.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

I think the word *celibate* has become less precise over time, and most medievalists would regard both the clue and Rex's correction as technically inaccurate. If a bishop or priest has a live-in female housekeeper with whom he is having sex, I think he would still be called *celibate*, simply because he abstained from marriage. Very many priests and bishops (and others) had such arrangements, although the Council of Trent (16th century) tried to clean some of this up. Another word would be used to describe such as priest who abstained from sex--*chaste* come to mind, though perhaps other words were used.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

rageismycaffeine 12:55 PM  

LOVED this puzzle. A technical feat to be sure. I had a blast. Somewhat surprised to find OFL being so meh on it as he and I are generally on the same wavelength.

nb: I work at Western Carolina University. seeing a "catamount" reference in the wild was a real delight for me as I've never heard of it outside of the context of our mascot (or UVM's).

MR. Cheese 12:59 PM  

Commentary = Comm(erce S)ecretary

Lorelei Lee 12:59 PM  

@Quasi, Mary was not married at the time of the immaculate conception according to Matthew and Luke. She was only promised to him.

Malsdemare 1:00 PM  

It’s a Lewis puzzle? I totally missed that. And even without knowing the constructor's name, I really liked this trick. It took a while to figure it out; like Rex, I got it at JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, and then it was off on the hunt. The fill was fine in my mind; it gave me toeholds for figuring out the theme answers and those were tours de force (tour de forces?) I don't know why ENIAC is annoying; that's one of the life-changing inventions of all time, (along with tampons). There were athletes that I actually know, in fact even where I got stumped I was able to break through.

I'm going to go buy a Nina Simone album and play it while I work on masks.

So Kudos to Lewis and Jeff

BobL 1:10 PM  

Two thumbs UP for Lewis and Jeff. A thumb DOWN for Rex.

Lewis 1:14 PM  

@z -- Regarding who wrote the clue for PUMAS, I'll never tell.
@mathgent -- Oh, if Jeff is involved, the grid will be junkless, spit-and-polished. He's very polite, of course. He'll say something like, "You think we should maybe look again at that northeast corner?" And what that means is, "Look at all that ugliness in the northeast corner! Let's tear it up and redo it!"
@nancy -- Regarding who write the clue for FINALE, I'll never tell.
@Barbara S -- We brainstormed the theme together (more than 100 emails), Jeff designed the grid, I did the first fill in. Together we made changes in the design and fill in. We split the cluing in half. Sounds cut and dried, but it was actually magic.

Georgia 1:15 PM  

It's the puzzle "trick.". Read to the first circled E and read up then down the circles and back through the original line. You'll find "Commerce Secretary."

Anonymous 1:18 PM  


You mean, you mean, you mean??? Jesus was a BASTARD?? OMG!!!! Tell the snake handlers, they've been bowing down to the unclean.

Georgia 1:20 PM  

Read up inopportuNE MO then back down MENT.

Lewis 1:27 PM  

Well, it seems enough of you enjoyed this puzzle to make me glad we put it out there, as my first priority is to create an enjoyable solve. I get such a joy out of solving good puzzles -- they are capable of hitting such a sweet spot -- and it truly thrills me to bring that joy to others. I'm grateful for the kind comments, as well as the unkind, which often teach me things that make me better at constructing. Jeff and I clicked so well making our first puzzle together, we made three more, seemingly nonstop. And Will and his crew did an excellent job making the cluing work just right. That's an art.

Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Kinda like @muse, M&A enjoys most x-word puzs. Especially the themed ones. I like my SunPuz themes to be as humorous as possible, or -- if not -- then real different. This puppy nailed it, on different. Liked.

A couple of the themers' circled letters are real words, readin downward: PLAN & OMEN.
Cool SNIT clue.
Did not know I knew NECCO.
fave fillin: DAMMIT.
fave themers when they don't go up & down: MOBRARIES. ELABORAIL.

staff weeject picks: ETC & EGG. Primo puz leadoff statuses! Respectful.

Thanx for gangin up on us, @Lewis and Chen dudes. Good job. Extra congratz to @Lewis for first SunPuz.

Masked & Anonym8Us

[server fixed -- yay, @r.alph!]

jberg 1:53 PM  

Wonderful puzzle, congratulations Jeff & Lewis! I got the theme with MOBILE LIBRARIES, not having noticed the circles yet -- but then I saw them, and regretted it. The title was enough, and the circles made it a little too easy. (@Z wants the same thing in the other direction -- that might work too, but Sundays always have titles, so leaving out the circles is an easier fix.)

And I thought the turn in INOPPORTUNE MOMENT was a feature, not a bug. True, all the other themers turn either just before or just after the top letter, and if they all did either one or the other, then this one would need to do the same. But as it stands, this just adds to the variety. (Those asking where the first M is, go back and read @Roo).

Lots of great clues, as has been enumerated.

@Loren--here's the definitive source for the provenance of PAIL

What I learned: that Helices are snails and their friends; I was looking for sunflowers because of that heli-.

I didn't like LEG ARMOR as clued, because that "of old" implies that the puzzle is looking for 'greaves.' Fortunately that didn't fit, plus I had a few crosses. You could make greaves the clue, but maybe that's too straightforward.

Fun writeins: SAhARa HAT before SAFARI, arrAY before RELAY, UNrhymED before UNTITLED.

@Ethan Taliesin, here you go --On Social Media’s Fringes, Growing Extremism Targets Women.

Joe Dipinto 1:53 PM  

Geez, @Lewis, try to be a little more positive about things.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

@Lorelei Lee

Hey, that's my alma mater. It's not obscure.

Crimson Devil 2:05 PM  

A shag rug WOW !
I am amazed at such construction; it must take forever.
Thanks gents.

LorrieJJ 2:07 PM  

We are kindred spirits in our enjoyment of a slow and (hopefully) steady slog through a Xword. Life is just too darned interesting to focus on the speedometer when there's so much scenery to enjoy!

LorrieJJ 2:11 PM  

When you tie one on, you're getting flat out drunk. Very common phrase in my neck of the woods.

Whatsername 3:23 PM  

Congratulations @Lewis! I eschew Sundays but judging from the comments, I'd say this one was a winner.

Been missing @Frantic’s pearls of wisdom the last few days. Hoping all is well in Slothville.

Lorelei Lee 3:36 PM  

Anon@2:03, Ya know, I think you may be right. The more I thought, it seemed to rise from the depths.

Anon@1:18, I'm quoting, not proselytizing. Your feelings are your own.

CDilly52 3:42 PM  

🎼 ||: Oooh, Aaaaaaah!!!! :|| (Musician. get it???)

This is what Gran would have called a Sunday marathon. Because (like so many others here in Rexville) she instilled in me the love of language and critical thinking and crosswords as a means of celebrating (I do mean celebrating) both, I revere learning. Learning for its own sake and respect for scholarship, teachers and all caretakers of knowledge runs dominantly through my family DNA on both sides. I certainly I received that precious GENE. And this type puzzle would have had all the earmarks of learning opportunity to her.

Anyway, a puzzle such as this masterful work of creativity would have been like an all day sucker. Gran usually took a peek (as I do) soon after Dad came back with the paper Sunday mornings. That gave her something to think about as she went through the Sunday get everyone ready for church, go, come home, round up the KP squad from among her grandkids, prepare, serve and eat Sunday dinner, clean up and FINALLY sit down with me to concentrate on the solve. Now, after however many decades of solving experience, Gran could scan a puzz and pretty much tell what kind of a solve it would be. A Sunday like this would have certainly given her the hint to start early - and truth be told - she occasionally (especially as I got more skilled at KP, sous cheffery, actual cooking and solving) might whisper to me in the car on the way home from church that,”we might make a couple changes in our menu to speed up dinner today.”

Hot damn! That was the tip that the Sunday puzzle was going to be a whopper. And I can not describe how special and loved I felt to share the time but especially the clandestine “secret” of a Sunday dinner menu change in order to have more puzzle time!

I truly admire and appreciate the artistry, creativity, density without “junk” excellent clues and everything that made this collaboration successful, fun and quite a workout. Thanks Lewis and Jeff!!!

My absolute favorite part was thinking that 32 across was a new and very clever portmanteau for Bookmobiles - MOBRARIES!! I’m using it at my next Library Board meeting. For sure. I missed the theme until I couldn’t fit JUVENILE going across only. Had not read the title until then and try not to, but after a while moving around and still being certain that JUVENILE something needed to go up there and that the circles were the solution to my dilemma, I looked and . . . AHA! That assisted in my solve, but I still moved deliciously slowly to savor the experience. Loved it.

ChuckD 3:44 PM  

@Z - your links definitely verify your original premise that it is not uniquely religious. However all of the definitions use abstain - which is a voluntary choice. I am not buying into the idea that a 19yo virgin who is actively trying to change that status is celibate.

Nancy 3:48 PM  

@mathgent reminds me that on my 2nd post I meant SAFARI HAT, not SAHARA HAT. I did have it right in my solve, though.

Monty Boy 4:31 PM  

I liked this one A LOT. I agree with all the positive comments, even REX's description right up to where he says, "I'm trying to figure out why this puzzle, which seems competent enough, just left me cold." Before that sentence, he described my take on the puzzle perfectly. It has all the things he listed (IMHO).

I got the "trick" with the Hoover cabinet clue. I had to pause for a few minutes to laugh and appreciate the technical skill and then admire how the rest of the puzzle challenged me to get the other themers.

Thanks for a great puzzle @Lewis. And welcome back @LMS. Now my day is complete.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

I just now checked to see if my comment had been posted, and I see now that my point (12:54) had been made two hours earlier by QuasiMoji (10:56). My apologies to him or her.

My Funk and Wagnalls (ca. 1960) has the correct and more narrow definition of celibacy: "The state of being unmarried; especially, abstinence from marriage in with religious vows." One reason I like this dictionary, and older dictionaries in general, is that it is not democratic. It gives stricter definitions, not every sort of popular usage.

By the way (Lorelei Lee, 12:59), the doctrine of "immaculate conception" refers to the conception of Mary, not to the miraculous conception of Jesus. Just about everybody gets this wrong. It has to do with the Catholic teaching that Mary was born without original sin (immaculate, or without "stain" of sin). As to whether, and when, Mary and Joseph were wed, I don't think the text of the Gospels is completely clear. Almost all Protestant traditions assume they were married and had sex (and children), even if they assume that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and if they presume that Mary was a virgin at the time of that conception.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Smith 5:58 PM  

@LMS 1:20 re PAIL
Here in the NE we typically say "bucket", leading to many explanations needed for my English Language Learners when they see a picture that's supposed to rhyme with, you know, sail or mail. My guess is it's more common in TX and CA, since those states are the largest buyers of textbooky stuff. On the plus side, my 5th graders got to learn a lot about the west coast pioneers one year...and so did I!!

Another Anon 5:59 PM  

So did Mary give consent? And was she of age? you know, when the holy know.

Speedweeder 6:13 PM  

Anon i.e. Poggius 5:31 - Thank you for your post about immaculate conception. I was raised Catholic, but did not know that the term applied to Mary's conception, not that of Jesus. I always thought it meant Jesus was miraculously conceived without any of that messy sex stuff, but instead it just means that Mary was born with special dispensation from original sin. Both concepts are equally ridiculous, but in very different ways.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

I try not to post this often, but it is late in the day. To Speedweeder, 6:31 pm, the "immaculate reception" in football is something of a misnomer, as if the term "immaculate" meant miraculous. It comes from the im- [=not] plus maculate, from the Latin macula, meaning "stain." Almost all "immaculate receptions" in football (I'm thinking of Hail Marys, to keep with the Biblical metaphors) are anything but "immaculate"--they are messy, with receivers and defenders jostling one another in the end zone, accompanied by a tipped ball. I've recently heard for the first time the expression "immaculate inning" in baseball, where the pitcher gets the other side out with nine pitches. Here the metaphor works: the inning in "unstained" by balls. I wonder, in such cases, if foul balls are allowed with no or one strike? I assume with two strikes a foul ball would require another pitch and nullify the immaculate.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

JC66 7:33 PM  

@Anon i.e.Poggius

Your posts are always welcome, no matter the time.

Why not go blue?

Whatsername 7:56 PM  

@Anon/Poggius (7:13) Interesting theory but ... THE Immaculate Reception is one of the most famous plays in the history of American football. It occurred in the AFC divisional playoff game of the National Football League (NFL), between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1972. With the Steelers trailing in the last 30 seconds of the game, Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass attempt to John Fuqua. The ball either bounced off the helmet of Raiders safety Jack Tatum or off the hands of Fuqua, and, as it fell, Steelers fullback Franco Harris scooped it up and ran for a game-winning touchdown. The play has been a source of unresolved controversy and speculation ever since (Source: Wikipedia). So it would seem, at least in that particular case, that it was indeed miraculous - at least to Steelers fans.

RooMonster 8:10 PM  

I'm a Steelers fan! And what controversy? After many years of slow motion viewing of the play, the ball clearly never touched the ground.

Now, don't get me started on Brady's Fumble (yes, even NE fans admit it was a Fumble) against Oakland that led to the Tuck Rule.

RooMonster Football Still A Go This Year Guy

Teedmn 8:14 PM  

RE: Immaculate Conception - as a former Catholic parochial school student, I knew that it referred to Mary's conception by St Anne. If you do the arithmetic, it should be obvious that it wasn’t about Jesus. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed on Dec. 8th. Jesus's birth is celebrated on Dec. 25th. That would be a very short or very long gestation period! :-)

syracusesolver 8:18 PM  

Excellent puzzle—not too easy, not too hard, but just right with the theme helping with the solve. I enjoyed seeing the spell-cousins HELLO and CELLO as almost-neighbors.

Thank you, Lewis and Jeff, for a fun Sunday.

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

Whenever I see that it's a Jeff Chen puzzle, I know it's going to be structured in a way that amuses the constructor, but not the solver.

Whatsername 8:52 PM  

@Roo (8:10) Please don’t shoot the messenger! That’s just a cut and paste from Wikipedia. I actually agree with you. I loved that era of the Steelers and unless they were playing KC, I was always cheering for them.

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

Between Maundy Thursday & Immaculate Conception, I'm glad I'm Jewish.

Anonymous 10:18 PM  

everybody knows that Dec. 25 was chosen to allow pagan Saturnalia to be morphed into this latter religion? much the same is true of the rest of 'Christian' dates.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

All UVM alums are Catamounts!

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

absolutely agree about the article issue for AMIE!

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

Still haven't convinced me about sexual status. As you say, celibates don't have to be religious, and now I often see that A for Asexual has joined the alphabet soup of desire: LGBTAP. But eschew is a choice state of mind that may not apply to most virgins, esp. the teens of either gender and any expression. They may not had sex *yet*, but they want to, and thus have not eschewed it in any way. The equivalency is still a bad clue.

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

Bucket and *spade*, wow!! From whence did you visit the sea? Shovels and pails to the max in my gnarly So. Cal. childhood!

Anonymous 2:09 AM  


xyz 11:36 AM  

Nice gimmick. Big grids for me get to be tedium, just wondering if I'm alone in that. Problem with getting it early is finishing the puzzle. This one was better than average, but some with made up phrases that are wacky, I just stop after a while.

Anyone else feel this way?

emily 6:54 PM  

Finally someone explained it! Thanks!

Renee Arnold 8:39 AM  

I must admit that I didn't find this easy, mostly because I thought I had gotten the theme right away with "bile" for 3-down (up) and thought, disgustingly, what goes up (bile comes up if you're vomiting. That threw me off completely. Guess it was cute once it was explained, but I gave up about halfway--unusual for me.

Burma Shave 11:58 AM  


This is IT,PEOPLE: neither GENE nor TOMMY STAID.


rondo 12:13 PM  

Yes, a feat of construction, if that's your ANGLE. Low on the enjoyment scale. Wheels are steel or some metal alloy; is a tire a 'wheelie'? Tires go FLAT, not wheels. Can't ENDORSE that one.

ISEE where the four corners get me.

Of COURSECREDIT goes to ITONYA star Margot ROBBIE. Yeah baby.

Lotsa folks seem to have really enjoyed this puz. NOTI.

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

Count me in with the enjoyers. I got the McGuffin right away in the NE, after trying to fit DELINQUENCY straight across (which fits!). When that didn't work, I referred back to the title--can't believe OFC didn't post Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel--" and saw it. Say, why isn't the word "palindrome" not a palindrome? Inquiring minds want to know.

Several puzzles lately have been good to excellent despite the seemingly inevitable "EKES." Today's is a case in point. I may have to rethink my aversion to that one. It's just that it has only that one narrow use, and one and only one way to clue it. And it has to go with "out." *sigh*

Margot ROBBIE wins DOD; honorable mention to Jodie Foster as Clarice STARLING. Indeed, the world is more interesting with you in it, sweetie.

Clever theme--how did you guys find SIX of those??--and mostly fun fill. Not too difficult, despite a few attempts at hard cluing. A nice Sunday morning. Birdie.

Ray - O - Sunshine 12:57 PM  

A starling is a song bird?

treeeetop 2:47 PM  

No one has commented on INOPPORTUNT yet? The first page of google search for that word gives zero non-crossword English answers.

Diana, LIW 5:02 PM  

If you read the Sunday funnies, and get Pearls Before Swine, you'll find the answer to why PPP is my downfall.

As it was today. A two letter dnf, due to PPP and lack thereof of knowledge.

Shout out to @Rondo for your comment yesterday on my "micro-nit" about the clues. Get yourself a mint.

I do, however, give myself props for figuring out the "trick" early enough on for it to help my solving experience.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for @Strayling to weigh in on the Starling

Unknown 6:16 PM  

I heard a comedian recently who joked about the distance to the fence...that some team players could better their stats if their home fields would simply move the fence in.

strayling 6:24 PM  

@Diana, LiW:

Ha! Got me sussed.

If this isn't an INOPPORTUNE MOMENT, I'll just mention that any puzzle with a STARLING is a good puzzle as far as I'm concerned.

Beatie 7:31 PM  

Mr. Parker, Ahem. A "palindrome" reads the same in both directions: "a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, e.g., madam or nurses run." These circled clues in this puzzle do not read the same in both directions. Hence they are not palindromes....

Unknown 12:21 AM  

This puzzle took OFL less than 12 minutes to solve, and took me about 2 hours and 12 minutes to solve. Was pretty much lost until I somehow came up with Ali and then it slowly fell into place.

Must disagree with Strayling on Starlings. If you have stucco chimneys those birds will peck away at them and then you can't like them any longer no matter how nice of a song they sing. If only they didn't do the damage they would be beautiful birds.

Agree with Rondo on the Wheelie clue, especially since our company sells tire patches. However if a tire goes flat you could ruin a wheel, but the clue is still a stretch.

IMHO I would rate this as an above average to excellent Sunday puzzle despite my personal struggle.

wcutler 2:55 AM  

I didn't know it was our Lewis who was the constructor. Nice that he stopped by to comment after all.

Due to the strange timing of the appearance of the weekday puzzles and the Sunday puzzle in syndi world, it turns out that Wow Just Wow was in today's puzzle for me - I'm not sure I've ever said that before, am so happy to have an occasion to use it.

The puzzle was fun, the clues were fun. As others have pointed out, it was everything Rex said in his description about how puzzles can be fun.

Indypendant 11:18 AM  

For 55 across (“breathtaking sight in the ocean”) I had GIRL rather than GILL. Didn’t know the cross. I like my answer better.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

Thanks for explaining. I got most of it but gave up. I think these kinds of nonexistent words with no evident pattern even of what's left out (I'm really supposed to decipher in what's supposedly a regular crossword that the left-out parts are all entirely different palindromes?) are ridiculous, and I find them offensive, unfair and really annoying. I prefer The Guardian's crosswords, because when I can't complete them it's often because I lack the specifically British vocabulary or British thinking shown in the connection between clues and solutions that an American wouldn't give - and then when I'm able to complete them, I have a feeling of satisfaction.

BitSourceIT 6:46 AM  
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huntingorbit 8:35 AM  
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jameel 11:49 PM  

Nice Post
Your Dream is Here 4:32 PM  

Madam Secretary Season 3
Madam Secretary is an American television series. It is created by Barbara Hall with Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary as executive producer.

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