Microsoft virtual assistant introduced in 2014 / TUE 5-12-20 / Black Knights of college football

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Constructor: Tom Pepper and Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:20)


THEME: "THIS IS NOT A TOY" (36A: Product warning label appropriate for the answers to the four starred clues) — themers are not toys but their first words can be...

Theme answers:
  • MARBLE CAKE (17A: *Dessert with light and dark streaks)
  • TOP PRIORITY (24A: *First thing to do on a to-do list)
  • RATTLESNAKE (47A: *Sidewinder, for one)
  • YO-YO DIETER (57A: *One having trouble keeping weight off)
Word of the Day: TOBY Keith (4D: Country singer Keith)
Keith has released 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums, and five compilation albums; a total worldwide sales of over 40 million albums. He has charted 61 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including 20 number one hits and 21 additional top 10 hits. His longest-lasting number one hits are "Beer for My Horses" (a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson) and "As Good as I Once Was" (2005), at six weeks each. (wikipedia)
• • •

I did not notice the theme while solving, despite driving right through the revealer there in the middle. Didn't really think about what it meant. Just kept plowing ahead. When I finished and looked back, then I saw it, and it seems fine, though kind of dull and *very* old-fashioned. Are these still toys for ... anyone? Even the yo-yo seems retro. Also, is a rattle a toy? If I had to list a thousand toys, I don't think "rattle" would be in there, though I guess if you're an infant, then ... sure, toy. I think of a "toy" as something a kid chooses to play with. You just hand a baby a "rattle" ... don't you? I have no idea, why in the world would you hand an infant a horrible noise-maker, it makes no sense to me? Pretty sure my daughter never had a rattle. Turns out babies can make their own sounds and also smash things into other things to create sounds, so rattle shmattle. Rattle shmattle, not a toy. As for the rest of the puzzle, yeesh, it's pretty mothbally. The puzzle goes ONA RUNOF tiresome answers, including INRE ITTY TSARS SRI, SLR COED AOL SNL NSYNC ETON and NAE, ALAS. "SI SI / SEÑOR" made me wince a little. Something slightly ... uh ... caricaturey about it. You do get a couple of interesting entries in the long Downs (SOB STORY, TOTAL LIE), but it's not enough to compensate for the morass of plodding fill.


I feel like my hangups on this puzzle are very telling. I blanked on TOBY Keith and blanked even harder on CORTANA (which ... is that still a thing? I get it confused with Microsoft's encyclopedia ... ENCARTA, was it? Ugh). I am a big fan of the espresso drink the CORTADO, and I really wish that could've been worked in here instead of this Microsoft mumbo jumbo. Anyway, modern country, Microsoft, not my things, hence my struggles. See! Telling! Also telling: I wrote in ESPN at 38D: ESPN's Arthur ___ Courage Award (ASHE). Yes, you read that right. I wrote in ESPN. I had the "S" in the second position and I dunno, my brain just completely misfired. I don't think I even saw the "Arthur" part of the clue. Weird. I am a sloppy clue reader; that is what that stumble tells you about me. Wrote in RTE at 41A: Info for an Uber or Lyft customer, for short (ETA), which tells you that I have never ever summoned an Uber or a Lyft, though I have ridden in a few, I think. In other cities, when other people are calling the shots. I like public transport. Or walking. I really like walking. I have also taken to birdwatching, by which I mean I just started paying attention to the birds in my trees and yard. And on my walks. You just start watching birds and bam, you're birdwatching. It's kind of weird how easy it is. Watched swallows acrobatically skimming the river just beneath the pedestrian bridge yesterday. Watched blue jays snapping twigs from my lilac bushes and maple trees to today. Watched robins walk / run around with their big stupid feet like idiots. The red breast is cool and all, but I have determined they are the dopiest birds of them all. Well, mourning doves and pigeons aren't too sharp either. But even the dopes are entertaining to watch. Where was I? Finished with this puzzle, apparently.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

99 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:17 AM  

If THISISNOTATOY, how come there are no plastic bags in the grid?
Furthermore, all the theme answers contain toys, so where's the payoff?
Missing. That's where.

I mean, if you're going to warn a body about dangerous toys, take a trip down memory lane with Candace and Dan

Otherwise, I have no real complaints. It's typical Tuesday difficulty with a thhppp theme that just sits there.
Nothing offensive (alas) and nothing remarkable either.

So, I'll remark no more about it.

@Kathy from yesterday - thank you for the kind words, but no, I don't have a stand-up act. My life is a stand-up act. Of (mostly) dark comedy.
Watch your fingers! ;)

Pete 12:19 AM  

Ha ha it's so funny that marbles the toy has the same name as marble cake! Wait, what do you mean that marbles were made of, and named for, marble the stone, and that marble cake was so same because it looks like marble the stone!? That's not so funny then! No, I don't want to hear your treatise on yoyos and weight!

Pete 12:26 AM  

Sorry, forgot to second the notion that paying attention to birds is the easiest, cheapest way to make your life more interesting and pleasant. Unless you can't forgive yourself for being that to distinguish between hairy and Downey woodpeckers. Then it just leads to self-abuse, and not the good kind.

Mark F 12:37 AM  

Sailed through today, more like a Monday. It seems the world order for increasing difficulty by week day is also falling apart. Alas.

Anoa Bob 12:43 AM  

A couple of old xword friends, ARARAT and ORION, got me off to a good start.

I've listened to "The Planets" several times, but it still took me three tries to get the correct spelling of HOLST. I was wanting to put a Z in there somewhere.

Played the game as a kid but don't think of a MARBLE as a toy any more than I would think of a billiard ball as a toy. So the reveal seemed doubly correct for that themer.

jae 1:13 AM  

Easy and pretty smooth. Should have been a Monday. Liked it.

CORTANA was a WOE.

Speaking of serenity now, I find watching the hummingbirds at the feeder on our balcony quite peaceful. We’ll miss you Jerry.

okanaganer 1:49 AM  

Toy theme... agree the toys are from 75 years ago. Top?? When was the last actual date a kid played with a TOP? Fidget Spinner; that I've heard of.

Re birds: every night after dinner I go for a walk, usually the canyon uphill from my house. Most often these days some magnificent looking soaring birds are.. soaring around. Golden Eagles, I imagined? Until some landed in a nearby tree and I realized... Turkey Vultures. Google the images and you will realize: from afar, magnificent. Up close, yeesh!

chefwen 2:26 AM  

Wow, shoulda timed myself, flew through this pup. My only question was CORTANA, but I was confident with the crosses so it stayed.

Not a big fan of RATTLE SNAKEs, we lost a beloved dog to one when we lived in California, she stuck her pretty little nose where it didn’t belong and the vets couldn’t save her, broke my heart. It was one of the deciding factors when we moved to Hawaii, none of those nasty critters here.

Cute puzzle.

Anonymous 3:41 AM  

I agree with Frantic. This was quicker than yesterday's puzzle for me, but the theme kinda clunked. It sat there, matter-of-factly, saying, "Whatcha gonna do? They're toys. I told you what it was and that's what it is."

I solved the bottom half downs only so I didn't even notice YOYODIETER or RATTLESNAKE until after I finished solving it.

Anyway, it seemed fine. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing to recommend it.

will hunt 4:12 AM  

I struggled with this one for a Tuesday.

Like Rex, I filled in the themed answers without really understanding the theme, even after filling in the revealer. I got to YOYO DIETER before realizing they were talking about toys. Would've worked better if the items could've actually had THIS IS NOT A TOY warning labels, which none of these really could, particularly the amorphous concept TOP PRIORITY.

This puzzle suffers from not just some crosswordese, but like most NYT puzzles, some old people-ese. Does anyone call a TOTAL LIE a "whopper" anymore? Pumpkin for HON feels an ITTY bit dated. The only FANFEST I know is at Dodger Stadium, decidedly not for Comic fans. Does anyone say UNCAP? I'm used to INRE from crosswording, but certainly not from seeing it on any memo in my lifetime. I actually can't think of a time I've received an honest to god memo. Not to mention (as you all already have) these theme "toys" feel prehistoric in 2020. I read in the constructor notes that the original puzzle included a Slinky reference which would have been a bit more fun. Oh well!

The Xbox game "Halo", a cultural touchstone for most 20-something men, made CORTANA an easy fill for me (the Microsoft product is named after the in-game AI assistant), so hey, at least they gave me something. The only other "modern" references either peaked in the 90s and early aughts (NSYNC, AOL, EMO rock, and SHERYL Crow) or are the most basic of tech words (MEME, MAC).

Anyway, time to sleep to my humming air-conditioner.

Loren Muse Smith 5:12 AM  

THIS IS NOT A TOY. Perfect reveal, imo. Nice theme, Tom and CC! The toys are far-enough removed from their toyness in each phrase. YOYO DIETER is fun to reconsider. Our Newfie, Beverly Ann, would eat anything.

You people who’re complaining that the toys are old fashioned are overthinking it. I just checked Amazon, and TOY MARBLEs, YOYOs, TOPs, and RATTLEs are all still buyable.

A RATTLE is most definitely a toy; it’s like the entry-level toy. I guess to argue that, though, we’d have to define what play is. A toy is a thing to be played with (unless it’s a Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, or Maltese, the meanest breeds on the planet).

Wonder if the THIS IS NOT A TOY clarification has ever really prevented any accident? I have to assume that the actions of some geniuses in the past necessitate such warnings? Just as a dog in a muzzle is a definite indication of some past indiscretion, a sign warning us not to play with something is an indication that someone indeed had the bad idea to play with it. I dunno. Can we judge the intelligence of our culture by studying the little warnings on stuff? Aren’t these printed caveats an embarrassing record of the spectacularly bad ideas we’ve had over the years? Warning: do not balance this ladder on a stack of paperbacks and an upside-down flower pot. And imagine the person responsible for this label.

The one I always laugh at is the warning on the little packet of whatever in your shoebox that admonishes, Do not eat. That this wording is even printed on something in a shoe boxis troublesome. It brings to mind the image of someone opening the box, moving aside the tissue paper, pouring that powder in their mouth, and marveling at the odd flavor as they remove the little stick thing to keep the TOE from caving in. Yum. I guess maybe these people have now moved on to eating Clorox Wipes, material that is no problem for our Big Bad Wolf.

I liked the clue for SEED. I believed Mom with all my heart that if I swallowed a watermelon seed, one would start growing in my stomach. (Just google “Russian man fir tree in lung” if you wanna get the bejeezus scared out of you.)

Liked FAN FEST sharing the grid with HEATWAVE. My classroom is always hot, and boy howdy do I have the fans. I also noticed TOTAL next to CEREALS. I’m a Honeycomb fan myself.

Tom, CC – always a pleasure.

PS - I saw a MEME recently - and this has to do with TOYs - that said, I was watching an Australian cooking show, and the audience applauded when the chef made a meringue. I was surprised because usually Australians boo meringue. You’re welcome.

webwinger 6:34 AM  

Puzzle was fine. @Rex’s review and comments so far make my day. OFL’s little meditation on birds was a perfect pandemic aside. A definite plus is that it has made many of us notice some of the beautiful things around us for the first time, or at least more than before.

@Frantic: Candace Bergen was my favorite guest host on early SNL. I remember a comment she made about the experience: Like being captured by the Symbionese Liberation Army—either you went along and became Tonya, or you died. (Look it up, millennials.)

Speaking of millennials, welcome @will hunt! Blogging like a pro after just 2 days.

@chefwen: As a newcomer to the world of dogs, I was choked up by your story.

@LMS: Counted 5 LOLs while reading your post today. I’ve said it before, but you are a worthy successor to ERMA Bombeck.

YO-YO DIETER: After struggling with excess poundage for most of my life, I’ve reached the conclusion that weight loss culture and industry is the biggest cause of this massive problem in our society. Any weight-loss regimen you cannot and do not stick with for the rest of your life will be followed not just by gaining back, but by topping out heavier than before.

Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

Thought it was HOrST for a while, and invented the new language, ITArIANO. Otherwise, quite a nice outing with a fun theme

Lewis 6:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 6:49 AM  


'This is not a toy' is usually printed on plastic bags, which unsuspecting kids might possibly put over their heads. Stuff like that.

Great puzzle!
M





















Lewis 7:04 AM  

Thanks for the fun, CC and TP! Your excellent, just-right-for-Tuesday puzzle and toys-not-toys theme got me to thinking about giving you plaudits-not-plaudits: Perfect pitch, Great Lakes, Outstanding loan, Fine print, Super nova, Ace bandage, and Smashing Pumpkins.

Jack T 7:08 AM  

I always thought the toy warnings were to remind adults not to leave certain packing materials around small children, not warnings for the adults themselves.

Suzie Q 7:16 AM  

I liked the theme just fine. I thought the common thread of these toys was their simplicity. No batteries required.
How to spell the Russian ruler is always a coin toss but was even worse today crossing a product name I've never heard of.
I'm surprised at Rex's reaction to rattle. Or maybe not.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Toby Keith is older than I am, so hardly “modern country”.

Would have liked this much better with cooler themers. I mean, RATTLESNAKE, sure could use a warning label. Maybe you can make a case for YOYO DIETER. But why would you need a toy warning sign or MARBLE CAKE or TOP PRIORITY?

Thought I understood the rules for ‘!’ clues, but apparently not. In particular, the clue for TOTAL LIE violated my sense of what’s what.

GILL I. 7:20 AM  

Oh...that's right it's Tuesday. Let's see...two constructor that I really enjoy and for some reason they give me a pffft.
I'll start with Speedy Gonzalez and his SI SI SENOR - or was he the andale andale mouse? I can never remember. Anyway, unless you're a FANFEST sort of person, no one really says that. You certainly will get an "andale, pues" or maybe a "con gusto" but you can leave out the extra SI.
I liked the MARBLE TOY. I used to collect them because they were pretty. I didn't play the game very well but you should've seen me at "pick-up-sticks." I also liked seeing YO YO. I owned a wine Duncan that was encrusted with diamonds. Nobody could walk the dog or rock the baby like I could. I also did a mean hula hoop.
I wish the RUN OF the mill was producing flour and yeast....maybe have some extra chickens to lay some eggs. It's my SOB STORY and I'm sticking to it.

OffTheGrid 7:25 AM  

Hairy woodpeckers have a bigger pecker. Really! That's the easiest difference to see.

OffTheGrid 7:50 AM  

@LMS. My favorite warning label was on a package of dinner rolls. "Remove rolls from plastic bag before placing in oven"

For at least the second week in a row I have found Tues easier than Mon. I was going to make a joke about breaking my teeth on a marble cake before I saw what the theme was. I thought maybe a dessert theme was coming.

I enjoyed @Rex today. He opened up a little. I agree with him INRE to a cortado and enjoying birds. I saw two pileated woodpeckers in the woods the other day. Cool birds.

The Post boxes/cereals entry reminded me of last week's appearance of Betty Hutton. She was born in Battle Creek Michigan in 1921.

amyyanni 7:59 AM  

Years ago, bought a mask when scraping paint off an oak staircase in an old house. Warning on the package: this mask does not supply oxygen. For true.
No complaints on this one. And I like it when there are a pair of constructors...dunno why, 'cept there aren't many teams to appreciate these days.
Bird observations always fun. Mine was chatty this morning.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

I'm always disappointed when the revealer is right in the middle of the puzzle, as I like to figure out what it's going to be. The TOY part had me looking for more toys, like a RATTLE or a YOYO. Oh well. Everything pretty much filled itself in anyway, so kind of a zero on the AHA! scale today. Oh well.

I'm with GILL I on the extra SI. The expression is Si senor!, (pardon my lack of tilde), usually said to express something like Yeah!

Bird watching is big stuff at our house. I was working outside yesterday and got to watch four or five crows harassing a peregrine falcon. The hummers have just reappeared, maybe too soon, as we're supposed to have a frost tonight. Brrr. Also, there used to be a radio personality where I grew up in upstate NY whose name was, no kidding, Harry Downey.

Welcome to Mr. Hunt. Someone has made off with your prename descriptor and the last syllable of your last, name, but I still think your movie was terrific.

Thanks for a nice Tuesdecito, TP and CC. I would have like a little more crunch, but that's just me.

Also missed the QB by one again yesterday. On to today.

GILL I. 8:04 AM  

@webwinger 6:34...Your YO-YO DIETER comment was interesting. For the life of me I can't understand the HUGE amounts of piled on food restaurants give us. I. suppose that after a while your body gets used to ingesting an enormous burger and enough fries to feed all of Ireland. I think anyone can stick to a diet of eating less. Maybe I'm lucky or maybe it's something I've adhered to, but eating slowly and eating 1/3 of what's on your plate usually does the trick. The only DIET I've ever been interested in is the Meditarranean one. You take a few bites of sun ripened tomatoes and a little bit of fish and your full......

Z 8:15 AM  

Good to see CC mentoring a new constructor...

My favorite sports radio show (because it mocks the entire sports radio construct while participating in the sports radio construct) spent a great deal of time on the stick being in the Toy Hall of Fame (Class of 2008). Only half of today’s toys are in the HoF so one has to ask if they are really, truly, crossworthy. Stick should have been in this puzzle instead of RATTLE.

@LMS - You eschew musing on the Great Derrière Controversy but then show up to give us Aussie puns? I think I speak for many when I say I was knocked on my rear in disappointment when you didn’t comment yesterday.

How long until I get “wellactuallied?”

Nancy 8:27 AM  

I didn't see the theme while I was solving and when I finally did see it, I didn't care.

It took two people to create this snooze-fest?

J. Piaget 8:35 AM  

Rattles are about eye-hand coordination, as well as being sources of amusement.

But because Rex doesn't know this, 2500 years of parental wisdom, and more recently, insights by people who study child development, are invalidated.

Such is the Parkerverse.

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:37 AM  

Agree with the others who felt like this was more of a Monday difficulty level. I blazed through this one and solved it as fast as I could read the clues. In fact, I think the only entry I didn't immediately drop in was 13-D IN STYLE, as I'm not familiar with the phrase "Au courant." Wait, that's a TOTAL LIE. 13-D's symmetrical counterpart at 39-D CEREALS took me a few crosses before I picked up on the word play with "Post boxes?"

I don't find SI SI / SEÑOR to be caricature-y at all. I grew up in Texas in a heavily Latino-populated area, and pretty much all of my neighborhood friends were Hispanic. I heard this all the time, mostly with an emphasis on the second "Si" as part of a frustrated response from a KID to an authority figure... "si SI señor..." Like 10 year-old me would imagine the translation of the whole thing to be "I heard you the first time, dad. I'll let my brother TOBY play with my MARBLEs, but he lost my YO YO the last time he had it. I'm trying to show my friend LeaveItToYourGoat my TOPs collection, and this constant RATTLE is irritating, and you're embarrassing me in front of my friend, but I'm going to still address you politely so you don't become IRATE and take any FIRMER PENAL actions against me." And Gringo me is just sitting there watching this thing in awe that my friend didn't get in any trouble. "Show me 'EL' WAY, man."

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

If you stay away from the Twinkies and PBRs as regular meals for a while, lose some pounds, then go back to those meals (dessert of Hostess Fruit Pie, natch), you'll YOYO DIET. Of course. I've never believed in "it's a glandular problem, so my obesity isn't my fault!!". OTOH, some science says for a minuscule fraction of phat people, may be it is. Quit the high-calorie processed 'foods', cook from scratch, avoid sugar in your cooking, and you'll be stunned at how fast the pounds disappear never to be seen again.

As to CORTANA, I've been in linux land for so long, the last 'assistant' from M$ that still rings a bell is 'Clippy', the butt (alas, not Sandra's) of perpetual jokes from birth to death. Whenever those were.

TJS 8:53 AM  

Before reading anyone else, I just have to say that the comments from Rex today were entertaining and insightful. All this isolation can afford opportunity to notice, and ruminate about, any number of things that escape notice in our "normal" routine. I actually have been doing a great deal of bird watching myself from my roof in the D.R. Amazing creatures. So Rex and I are of one mind on something. Cool.
Haven't yoyos been popping up lately in our puzzles? Or maybe it's in the archive.

CDilly52 8:54 AM  

A very Tuesday opus, TP and CC. Thanks! For the neighborhood, did I overthink the reveal? I came through the reveal and thought, but yes, in fact those are toys and went on to finish. As I stared at the SE, wondering why all my squares were nicely filled and I did not receive my happy music reward, I actually laughed out loud at the cleverness! Yes the first word of each theme clue IS a toy, but the reveal speaks to the entire answer! Once again, the cleverness of our constructor’s impresses. Excellent!!

Oh, and silly me, I had a PoNAL code in the very last answer because I had MEMo instead of MEME. I only learned the word MEME about a month ago. Well, I had heard it but truly did not understand its meaning. Now I do, but it still seems such an odd word and I have yet to discern it’s etymology.

What fun! The reveal was worth the price of admission. Off to the salt mines. I shall certainly not toy with the TOP PRIORITY item on today’s to-so list.

Tim Pierce 8:54 AM  

Now I really want to listen to an industrial hip hop Sprockets album called Yo Yo Dieter.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

@kitshef:
Toby Keith is older than I am, so hardly “modern country”.

I by no means cleave to C&W, or just C, but IIRC, 'modern' version means not age of the performer(s), but whether the songs go beyond God, trucks, dogs, guns, and bad wimins. Less pedal steel and fiddle and more urban contemporary. If there any bona fide 'modern country' folk in the audience...?

Debra 9:05 AM  

Cute Tuesday, no complaints.

Teedmn 9:08 AM  

A Minnesota double-header today, with Tom Pepper and CC! Two names we haven't seen in the NYT puzzle for a while, welcome back.

Except for the revealer in the middle giving it away too soon, I liked the theme and found no problem with marbles, tops, rattles or yo-yos as current toys. Regarding Rex's remark on why children would be given toys that make annoying noises, just take a listen to my friends' dog when she has her squeaking "sharky" between her teeth. Yegads.

This was pretty easy for a Tuesday - Will could have switched yesterday's with today's as far as my solving went. Today's only hang-up was ITsY instead of ITTY, leaving me to wonder briefly whether a comic con had FAN FEes.

Thanks, TP and CC.

TJS 9:10 AM  

@LMS, just finished reading your Australian cooking show story. It reminded me of my flight into the D.R. last October. Landing was a white-knucler due to strong cross-wind gusts, and after the pilot got us onto the ground, passengers spontaneously started applauding in relief. The guy in front of me turned to his wife and said "If it crashes, they boo".

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

@TJS:

Could be worse: fly into the country on the other side of the island. I never liked flying, but Wifey insisted on a visit to Haiti (a bit before Baby Doc got thrown out). So, OK. A one stop flight, with final leg from Miami. Can't fly over Cuba, so some tight curves (in airline terms, anyway) at altitude. At about 25,000 feet, the pilot lifts the spoilers on the L1011 (yeah, that long ago) wings. A plunge like a swan dive off the cliffs of Acapulco. Landing on the runway is straight into the mountain; flat Port Au Prince is just a sliver of land in front of said mountain. The hotel we stayed at (reinforced concrete through and through) was pancaked in the earthquake. Saw it on the teevee news.

Paul Harrington 9:27 AM  

Top priority: tase, nabs, penal code, total lie! Si is, a Trumpish dystopian vibe today.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
Warning labels and such - Amazing the stupid stuff people do to warrant them. How about instructions on shampoo? "Lather, Rinse, Repeat." If you really need instructions for washing your hair, they need to be more specific.
1) Wet hair under the shower head
2) Put a small amount of shampoo in your palm
3) Rub shampoo from your hand into your hair
4) Vigorously scrub your hair with both hands for a few minutes
5) Rinse your hair with water
6) If this is your first time through the instructions, Repeat Steps 1-5, If this is your second time reading this step, STOP. You are done.

OK puz, seems not up to CC standards, IMO, but it it Tuesday after all. Rex's complaint about stale fill is always funny. When we get modern words et.al. he complains the constructors are trying to be too "hip". You can't have your MARBLE CAKE and eat it too.

Bird speak reminds me of Monty Python, either the Dead Parrot, or the African Swallow (unladen of coconuts).

Las Vegas Golden Knights were partly named from the owners having been in the ARMY, 20A, the Black Knights. Go Knights Go! We were in first place when the Earth closed.

At least TSARS was spelled correctly.

Three F's
SMOKY CEREALS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Lorelei Lee 9:39 AM  

@okanaganer, The last time a kid played with a top was probably at Hanukkah. Appreciate your comment because I'm not Jewish and thinking of the dreidel led me to "what's up with that" where I found this.

"Each side of the dreidel bears a letter of the Hebrew alphabet: נ (nun), ג (gimel), ה (hei), ש (shin) ... they represent the Hebrew phrase nes gadol hayah sham ("a great miracle happened there"), referring to the Miracle of the cruse of oil."

@Will Hunt, watch it sonny boy, you're surrounded and using someone's age as an insult is childish and impolite (see what I did there). Loved the rest of your stuff though. Keep up the good work.

Birchbark 9:39 AM  

THIS IS NOT A TOY in a puzzle full of toys. Spell it in French and you have a work of art, a la Rene Magritte.

Bird watching: Did you know that wild turkeys eat dandelion flowers? I found out yesterday, watching one work its way through the yard late in the afternoon. Just beautiful.

@Okanaganer (1:49) -- Eagles and turkey vultures look a lot alike in flight, but you can tell them apart by looking at their wings. Eagles' wings stretch out in a flat plane, while vultures' are more "V" shaped. You'e also more likely to see the individual flight feathers on a vulture. Really fun birds to watch riding the thermals on a nice day.

Barbara S. 9:44 AM  

I'm mostly on a blog sabbatical, but I feel compelled to pop back and say that I'm so with Rex on birdwatching. I do the same kind of informal observation of birds in the backyard and immediate neighborhood that he's talking about and it's a joy. But I do have to stick up for robins, really not "the dopiest birds." Robins have to spend a lot of time on the ground because that's where their food is, and it's now thought that they mostly find worms by sight. Either they spot a tiny bit of the worm above the ground or in a slight hollow, or they see changes on the soil or in the grass that indicate a worm is there or nearby or just under the surface. Possibly not the brainiest of birds but extremely good at what they do.

Stay safe and be well, all!

Geezer 9:56 AM  

1A.(Rapids transits?) The "?" is gratuitous. It's wordplay on rapid transit of course. It already says rapidS. So get rid of either the S or the ?. We don't need that much help. Later in the week-"Rapid transits"

Joe Dipinto 9:56 AM  

And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain...very strange


I'd rather birdwatch than birdlisten, which is what I've been doing the last several days. There's a hole in the exterior cornice of my building, and every now and then a couple of local avians will decide to come inside and hang out right above my front windows for awhile. Sometimes they build a nest. I hope the ones that are there now don't plan to shelter-in-place very long. It can be unnerving to hear them scritching around up there.

I liked this theme: succinct, with simple no-fuss toys embedded in non-toyful contexts, and a perfect revealer. The fill isn't very daring, but so what? It works very nicely.

Tuesday trivia: what Oscar-winning actress has a variant of her first name as well as her real last name as answers in this puzzle?

Sí sí, señor, quiero oír Ray Barretto! (The trumpet player here quotes the old 1960s coffee jingle, which I've been trying to find for ages.)

burtonkd 9:58 AM  

@Z, what sport radio show is that? Sounds familiar.

@LMS - It is not just that we have a history of idiots who should best be left to the Darwin Awards, it is that we have a system that rewards lawyers handsomely for representing said idiots. OTOH, An early use of Silica Gel was moisture-absorbing packaging in medications for seniors, so one can at least see the cause of confusion.

@anon 9:04, heard a modern country radio station a couple of years ago, and it sounded more like hip-hop or rock/pop. Watching the Burns Country music doc solidified for me how much country has always clung to this cloying false picture of old time small town values. Often written by cynical urbanites looking to make a buck. Same mindset that makes people want to MAGA. Early country was used to literally boost sales of snake oil AND goat testicle implants to improve male fertility. Some things never change.

Here in NYC, one side effect of COVID is that birds are much easier to hear and spot without the noise competition of traffic. The migration is coming through now and I'm seeing a lot of beautiful songbirds coming through in fb feeds.

QuasiMojo 9:59 AM  

@Joe Bleaux, from yesterday. Thanks. I see what you mean, although to me it looks more like a shell or a petrified snake. :)




Anonymous 10:03 AM  

And they have a pretty song.

Z 10:09 AM  

@Tim Pierce - Damn you! Did not expect the DIETER moue to be stuck in my brain this morning.

@Barbara S - At least the local robin has mostly given up attacking his reflection in my sliding door at 7:00 in the morning. I’m not a bird watcher so much as a bird noticer and I’ve noticed a wider diversity of birds in my backyard this spring, especially smaller birds, in addition to the usual jays, cardinals, robins, and woodpeckers. I’ve still never knowingly spotted a pewit or a scarlet tanager.

ZZee 10:11 AM  

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

And mockingbirds can imitate them, only louder and endlessly. I was so disappointed when I read Harper Lee’s book: I thought it was a manual.

Pamela 10:22 AM  

Yesterday everything went straight in. Today I needed more crosses. Rind went in with great confidence at 63A, until LIVE just above made it impossible. Only real glitch of the day, and only momentary.

The first two themers didn’t seem to have anything in common, but the revealer revealed all. OK, but no big Aha.

Central Park is full of grackles, I learned recently. ‘Health’ walks with a neighborhood friend bring me there pretty regularly these days, and she never fails to point out a few. Before NY on PAUSE, I only knew pigeons, robins, cardinals and sparrows, all of which (whom?) I see there as well.

Favorite clue of the day: Post boxes? Least favorites: TOBY crossing ARMY. I guessed at the Y- otherwise a Natick for me.

Joaquin 10:31 AM  

Loren's "Remove Child" label reminds me of the time I was looking at an item at my local Target. Attached to the item was a stern warning that the customer should not attempt to try the item without a Target employee supervising. The item I was looking at was ... a chair! Just a regular ol' chair.

I was so tempted to request an employee who was certified in chairs to assist me in a test sit, but I risked life and limb and sat down unassisted. Got up on my own, too. Yep - livin' on the edge!

OffTheGrid 10:39 AM  

Walmart has signs to alert you that you may have forgotten you have children and left them in the car. Somebody needs to be slapped.

JC66 10:47 AM  


Hey! @Roo

"Wash, Rinse, Repeat" wasn't a warning, but a marketing ploy. Adding REPEAT to the instructions increased shampoo usage so dramatically that it has made Proctor & Gamble and others many millions of $$$ over the years.

Visitor from the past 10:53 AM  

I solve the syndicated NYT crossword and then, often, come to see what you folks had to say about it. Today’s was the April 7th puzzle, and one of the comments sent me back to read the April 6 comments, wherein Webwinger was still confident that total US Covid 19 deaths would top out at 20,000. Assuming he has caught up with reality, when did that occur? I’ll just stop reading until the ceasefire date as it’s just too depressing to watch him (and others still today) dig their heads further into the sands.

albatross shell 10:54 AM  

FANFEST seems to be current: Google lists a bunch of FANFESTS 2020 that have been cancelled.

@LMS
Not sure if that last one deserved boos or applause. Your post did make me appreciate the puzzle a bit more, and I thought the theme was decent anyway. But I do enjoy old stuff.

Sometimes I go a couple months with nothing this side of WWII on the stereo. Stereos and CD players do seem antiquey. Toby Keith modern country? I guess the 20's and 30's is old. Picasso is still modern art. Give me North Carolina mountain music, the old Lost City Ramblers, Charlie Poole, and any Jug Band, country or city. Medicine Shows too.

Baltimore orioles, red-bellied downy hairy woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, nuthatch and Carolina wrens.
Colorful feeder when the Grackles and such aren't there.

@Z
Scarlet Tanagers hangout high in unbroken forests, if my memory is occasionally correct. I did see one in my river bottom yard, during their spring migration. Breath-taking.

Roo
Have you ever considered why repeat?
Directions for COVID hand-washing:
1. Wash hands singing happy birthday
2. Rinse.
3. Repeat

SOBSTORY EUREKA

Wm. C. 10:57 AM  

@Gill I, @Pablo --

The second "SI" in "SISI" is called for in the clue, with its "ENTHUSIASTIC south-of-the-border assent" qualification.

Frantic Sloth 11:02 AM  

@JoeD 956am Is either name part of an answer? Or is one or both the entire answer? Gotta admit I'm stuck - and not happy about it! ;)

mathgent 11:08 AM  

A warning I see on the evening news. Don’t use this medication if you are allergic to it.

When I was in grade school in mid-forties, we had marble season, yoyo season, and top season. Most of us boys would bring those toys and play games with them. Not that big a deal, a season might last a week or two. More poplar were games we’d play with baseball cards, gambling games. I don’t remember the girls bringing toys. They played on the other half of the yard and seemed to play hopscotch constantly.

Here in San Francisco we have been invaded by ravens. Some of the big ones are scary. I’ll never forget Loren’s line that the difference between a raven and a crow is a matter of a pinion.

Nancy nailed it. It took two people to make this?



Whatsername 11:13 AM  

Standing in agreement with the majority today. This was easy peasy, but I liked the theme and the way it was tied together with the revealer. My favorite oldie girlie toy would have to be paper dolls. I loved cutting out those little outfits with the tabs to fit on the stand-up figures. Being the little tomboy that I was though, I also liked Tinker Toys and Legos, which we just called “building blocks“ back then. @will hunt (4:12) If you think the toys in this puzzle were prehistoric, now you know how I feel when I’m faced with clues for video games.

SNL has become a show that people seem to either love or hate . . . which could have something to do with the current occupant of the White House. Kate McKinnon is one of the best performers they’ve had on there in years IMO. She can “do” just about anybody, male or female, from Hillary Clinton to Jeff Sessions.

Bird watching is addictive and I agree one of the nicest ways to relax and escape to a place of peace and beauty. I am not too proud to admit I find hours of entertainment in my back yard watching and listening to my small colony of Purple Martins. I am fascinated by these graceful and elegant creatures who journey all the way to South America and return back to the same location every year.

@okanager (1:49) I had that same experience of trying to identify an eagle versus a turkey vulture. Besides wing formation, the vultures will wobble more when soaring, where as you said, the eagle will hold its wings flat and remain steady in flight. I’m fairly certain the one I saw was an eagle but I’m not sure if it was an immature bald eagle or a golden. Either way it was a thrill.

Nancy 11:22 AM  

@Joaquin -- I thought you were making it up. But I didn't click earlier on Loren's link, so that I entirely missed the "Remove child before washing" instructions. And there were so many of them! One of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Who says robins are dumb birds? One was staring at me yesterday in Central Park and I saw that behind its pointed beak and above its lovely red breast there were a pair of soulful eyes that evidenced the deepest philosophical musings and the most impressive intellectual strivings. A veritable Descartes, that bird was. "I chirp, therefore I am," perhaps it was saying. On the other hand, perhaps it wasn't.

egsforbreakfast 11:22 AM  

Yo-yo is obviously in common usage apart from its origin as a brand name. However, for some reason it was not accepted by SB a while back.

I once played Pick Up Sticks with Tom Hanks while at one of his homes measuring for window coverings. I wasn’t about to call him out for his obvious cheating, but his young son certainly did.

The warning label discussion reminds me of the long-forgotten brief phase of redneck jokes. The only good one ever was: You know you’re a red neck if you have a relative whose last words were “Hey fellas, watch this!”.

Crimson Devil 11:27 AM  

Re: Warnings
My favorite is one I’ve noticed added recently to ads for medicines/potions: Do not take this product if you’re allergic to it !
I miss George Carlin.

thfenn 11:32 AM  

Enjoyed today's - went with PrOTON for my light particle, protons not weighing very much, and didn't notice RUH doesn't really work for "Whaaa?", so it took quite a bit of checking to finally see why I couldn't solve this one. But it finally dawned on me that I needed a particle of light, which seemed appropriate. Birding has been a passion of mine for quite some time, and reading What the Robin Knows by Jon Young will dispel thoughts of them being dopey. Watching the migrations arrive has been a joy this spring.

What? 11:37 AM  

This is not a ...
This is lawyer stuff. Somewhere, sometime, someone placed a plastic bag over his/her head and the bag maker was sued by the grieving relatives the next hour.

jberg 11:46 AM  

You know what I liked about this puzzle? NABS, as clued. It just seemed kinda fresh for a 4-letter answer.

I also liked the theme. First, because I managed to get all the theme answers before filling in the revealer (well, I did have THISI..., which helped me get tSAR instead of czAR); it was a lot of fun trying to figure out what the theme was as I went along. First to fall, working down the left side, were MARBLE CAKE and RATTLE SNAKE, which a) rhyme, and b) have only A and E among their vowels. Man, was that a rabbithole to fall down! Then I suddenly noticed that TOP, RATTLE, and MARBLE were all toys, and bam! There I was, confirmed by the revealer. (BTW, the "warning" is part of the clue to the revealer -- not a clue to the theme answers. IMO, it's actually an ITTY (not ITsY! weakness that you might actually want to be warned about a SNAKE.)

Second, they are all generic toys, made by many different toymakers, which you could even make yourself if you had the right tools. Sure they're old, but they will still be around long after Tickle Me Elmo has faded from memory (oh wait, maybe that's happened already).

Yeah, I agree, you don't see IN RE in memos; they have a little Re: line in the heading. IN RE is for business correspondence, which used to begin with things like "IN RE your of the 13th ult.,"

@Rex, good for you with the birds! Noticing them is a great way to start. I once had an extra day before flying home from a conference in England, and paid a birding guide a fair amount of money to drive me around the hot spots in Kent. It was worth every penny; but I'm telling this because of what he told me about getting started with birds. When he was about 8, his schoolroom had a book with pictures of birds, and he was especially fascinated by the goldfinch (much more colorful than our American goldfinch); then he read that it was a British bird, and could hardly believe it. Then a week or so later, again at school, he was looking out the window and saw one of them. It changed his life.

But to KID a little, if you want to be taken seriously, you need to a) call the activity "birding," and b) eschew overly general terms, like "swallows" -- always say tree, cliff, rough-legged, or some other species identifier before swallow.

I think the SI SI SEÑOR stereotype comes from Bill Dana's comedy act.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Kinda liked 12-A's STORY part crossin the theme revealer's TOY part. To wit: "This is not a TOY ... STORY".

Really wide-open corners in this puzgrid. Produced some good stuff, includin: SOBSTORY. HEATWAVE. SISI/SENOR. EUREKA.
Also, TOTALLIE was a cool var. of TOTALLY.

Best Ow de Speration: UNCAP. Better clue: {Official U Thant NY headwear??}.
staff weeject pick: ONA. M&A is always partial to 3-letter partials.
fave clues: {Rapids transits?} = RAFTS had a real nice raised-by-wolves flavorin to it. {One of 20 for a bear} = TOE was just bearly educational.

Didn't know CORTANA. Does not sound like a TOY, IM&AO. But … did have to TOY with it, usin the help of its very fair crossers, for a few extra 15-A-seconds.

@Roo: Instructions on White House shampoo bottles: "Wash, rinse, do not inject or drink, repeat: do not inject or drink."
@will hunt: Welcome to the hunt for xword insanity. It may take U a while to get used to some of these *other* commenters. har

Thanx for gangin up on us, CC darlin and Tom Pepper dude. Pretty antiquey TOYs, but, hey -- I ain't got no good answer to hide FIDGETSPINNER in, either. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


biter:
**gruntz**

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  

@Frantic Sloth – each name constitutes one complete answer.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@Nancy 11:22 -- Too funny!

Frantic Sloth 1:07 PM  

@Nancy 1122am I know exactly what you mean about that robin. I get the same sensation when staring at my navel.

@Joe D 1247pm Thanks. I'd like to say that's a big help, but I'm me. So...not so much. :(

Barbara S. 1:19 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 9:56
I'm going to take a stab: Cher? (Cherilyn Sarkisian)

@Z 10:09
Your pugilistic robin story brought to mind the cardinal who used to live in a friend's yard. He also attacked his reflection in the windows, to the point that one would be startled by a series of loud bangs echoing through the house. But he made a distinction between window reflections and mirrors, because he'd spend long stretches admiring himself and preening in front of the car mirrors. But his most astonishing trick of all was sliding down the windshield, which he'd do repeatedly and obsessively in absolutely chaotic fashion, sometimes on his butt, sometimes more on his feet, sometimes completely topsy-turvy, wings flapping.

@whatsername 11:13
I, too, loved paper dolls, although for some reason I called them cut-outs. I could play for hours, concocting all sorts of complicated and seemingly endless stories for them to act out. For me, it wasn't really about the outfits (although it's always nice to have a change of clothes), it was more about the byzantine narratives I could come up with. I was much more interested in paper dolls than the 3D type, although (I guess inevitably) I did have a Barbie Doll.

Joe Dipinto 1:20 PM  

@Frantic Sloth – Here's a hint (it might make it too easy, but maybe not):

What is arguably the actress's most iconic role was also the name of a #1 song.

Glass House Dweller 1:22 PM  

Nancy 8:27 "It took two people to create this snoozefest"?

I seem to remember you collaborating on one or two puzzles for which the same could be said. I would think you would be more charitable towards other constructors. Keep in mind that the regulars here here will only say nice things about your puzzles, because they are your friends.

Joe Bleaux 1:28 PM  

@Anonymous (and @kitshef): “Modern country” is an oxymoron.

Z 1:40 PM  

@Pamela - Was that first sentence intentional?

@burtonkd - Dan LeBatard on ESPN Radio and ESPNews.

@OffTheGrid - I’ve seen enough frazzled parents to give them a little benefit of the doubt.

@M&A - I like how you snuck in the late great U Thant into your alternate clue. He seems like the kind of guy who’d have enjoyed a YO-YO.

Birchbark 1:53 PM  

@Nancy (11:22) -- IN RE robins' eyes. I see severity and defiance when I look closely at a robin. But all is well at dusk when they're out on the lawn looking for worms, as though it were the same night a hundred years ago.

GILL I. 2:02 PM  

@Glass House 1:22....Tom Pepper and CC are both primo constructors. I'm agreeing with @Nancy today - this felt like a pffft to me. I don't construct but if I did, I'd expect people to have their own opinions. And by the way, of course we like @Nancy - she's funny and smart and so far her puzzle have been terrific. Nary a pfft to be found - so far. :-)

Lewis 2:11 PM  

I like the message on band-aids: "Guaranteed sterile until opened". Like, there's a safe guarantee for the manufacturer -- how are you ever going to prove the bandage wasn't sterile?

pabloinnh 2:19 PM  

@WmC-I get that the clue is looking for enthusiasm, but in a year in Spain I really don't remember anyone saying Si si senor! If you expressed simple agreement, it was Si senor. If you expressed very strong (enthusiastic) agreement, it was SI SENOR!!

Further apologies for my lack of tildes and upside down exclamantion points, and I'm not saying the double si doesn't exist, just that I'm not familiar with it. If I were OFL this would immediately mean it doesn't belong in the puzzle at all. Didn't spoil the solve for me.

Granny the Great 2:21 PM  

I gave my granddaughter, age 2 and youngest of our 25 grandkids, a top for Christmas... a little antique train circled as it was spun... best gift of all... cries of "can I have a turn"

RooMonster 2:25 PM  

@Lewis 2:11
Now That's awesome. I
They must've gotten inspiration from Schrödinger.

Impressed with whoever it was who said they missed YesterBee by one word. I could probably guess which one. I missed 6! Ouch! Today's, I'm short 4.

RooMonster Spell Guy

kitshef 2:26 PM  

The shampoo talk reminded me of my favorite instructions for use, on the little wet-naps they give you at rib joints. "Tear open package, unfold, and use". Presumably they got complaints from someone who did not realize you were supposed to open the package, and from someone who complained that the enclosed wet-nap was too small.

ghthree 2:26 PM  

Two observations:
1: INRE 10A and 10D: I have always preferred the term Cubic Centimeter to the clumsier "Milliliter." Reasons:
a: It's easier to pronounce. Feels better on my tongue. Sounds better in my ear.
b: It's less likely to be confused with "Millimeter."
c: It sounds (to me) like an enthusiastic affirmation in Spanish.
(Of course, your experience may be different.)
This puzzle gives an additional justification: it's a shoutout to one of the constructors.

2: When I saw 47A _ _ _ _LES_ _ _ _ I confidently wrote MISSILE_ _ _ _ at the beginning.
It wasn't until a second pass, when I had the SNAKE (and had grokked the theme) that the southwest broke open.

Clue cracker 2:37 PM  

@Joe DiPinto: Anne Bancroft (Italiano)!

Anonymoose 2:49 PM  

Similarly, burial vaults are guaranteed water proof. Okay, then.

Nancy 3:02 PM  

@Glass House -- There were a small but vociferous number of Rexites who really, really disliked Will's and my Sunday puzzle and said so. I didn't melt away or hide under the sofa.

Different people look for and crave different things in a puzzle. You can't please everyone. I, for one, will forgive most things if I am being required to do a lot of thinking. I'll forgive almost nothing if I can do the puzzle on automatic pilot. But everyone has preferences and what makes this blog interesting is that after a while you begin to know what everyone's preferences and bete noires are. You start to enjoy predicting whether they liked a puzzle or not. And without that kind of candor, an often colorful, sparkling and opinionated blog turns into pablum.

I certainly hope I've never bored anyone with my puzzles, but I know I've exasperated some people some of the time. "Best" = "WORST", anyone? TEAPOY? (Though, to be fair, I had everything to do with WORST and nothing to do with TEAPOY.) Anyway, if some aspect of one of my puzzles -- or even, Heaven forbid, the entire puzzle -- doesn't work for you for whatever reason, say so. I'll survive. Who knows -- I may even be intrigued by your [hopefully unique] perspective.

Joe Dipinto 3:07 PM  

@Clue Cracker cracked the clue. Yes, Anne Bancroft's real name was Anna Italiano. (And of course the song was "Mrs. Robinson".)

Glass House Dweller 3:40 PM  

@Gill. I. 2:02 - I liked Nancy's puzzles as well. I just thought her comment today was a little harsh, since she is open about needing a collaborator for puzzle construction. I recall her puzzles getting their share of negative comments, and her friends stepping in to defend her. I would ask her to treat other constructors the way she wishes to be treated.

Glass House Dweller 4:09 PM  

@Nancy 3:02 - Classy response. I withdraw my objection. Btw, I was totally on board with WORST.

Giovanni 4:11 PM  

@nancy just to let you know I only just learned what Bete Noir means doing a crossword puzzle.

Nancy 4:17 PM  

And what a lovely, classy response from you, @Glass House Dweller (4:09). Thank you.

I'm so glad that all is forgiven.

Barbara S. 4:23 PM  

@Clue Cracker and @Joe Dipinto
Congrats to @CC! My thinking was that Cherilyn could be a variation of SHERYL and Sarkisian (that is, the middle of it) could be a variation of SISI. Yeah, pretty far-fetched, but it's amazing what you can convince yourself is logical. And clearly the song clue flew over my head on birdlike wings.

Frantic Sloth 5:17 PM  

Congrats to @Clue cracker for getting the correct answer! I, on the other hand, completely misread the original question, which would be nice if that were the only reason I bungled the whole thing. Unfortunately, even added clues weren't enough to penetrate my testa dura of steel.
What a jamoke.

Bryan 5:45 PM  

“Cortana” is huge in video gaming from the Halo series, and where Microsoft took it from.

pabloinnh 6:33 PM  

@Roo-I was the guy who missed yesterday's by one, which turned out to be COACT. Really?
My spell check doesn't like it any better than I do.

Got to Genius today, may go on, but all those O's are getting me down.

jae 7:13 PM  

@pabloinnh - I’m kicking myself for missing the pooch yesterday as my daughter has two of them. Stuck at 31 today, but it’s still early.

CDilly52 11:10 PM  

Good grief! I certainly left out an important word in my earlier post as I tried to get done and get back to work. My whole point with the theme was that at first the reveal confused me because the theme items were NOT toys. I left out the word NOT in my morning post. Sheesh.

What impressed me was that unlike the type of puzzle in which the theme answers are either compound words or multiple word answers only part which actually apply to the theme, today we have a reveal with the “or why the reveal and the theme answers are related” structure, but, rather than applying only to a portion of the theme clue answers, the reveal applies to ALL of the theme answer. Marble by itself does. It require the package warning. MARVLE CAKE, on the other hand, maybe. I found that to be very clever, especially for early week. Rather than making the puzzle more difficult to solve than an early week “should be,” our duo created a theme structure that required more thinking than usual for Monday or Tuesday to unearth its tongue-in-cheek-ness. Easy but I liked it.

Jay M 1:04 PM  

Still confused as to how "SI SI SENOR" is "caricaturey" when it's a totally normal and super common Spanish phrase. Rex really goes out of his way to nitpick about the NYT puzzle these days...

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