Scheming sergeant of old TV / SUN 6-14-20 / Pointed arch / Rodriguez who starred in Jane the Virgin / Indescribable religious ideal / Dandy on Downing Street / Ollie's foil in old films / Things proposed by Greek philosopher Democritus / Some toy dolls of 1980s / Gates of Hell sculptor

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:36)

THEME: "Making Arrangements" — Clues are imagined quotations in which one phrase is an anagram of another phrase (said phrases are left blank in the clues and appear in the grid):

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Sign at a chemical plant: "This facility is ___—___" (with 114-Across) (CONTAMINATED / NO ADMITTANCE)
  • 31A: Question to an English teacher: "Why did Poe write his poem"___"? Answer: "___?" (with 98-Across) ("A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM" / "WHAT AM I, A MIND READER?")
  • 45A: We can tell the boss's assistant is a ___ because he always ___ (with 87-Across) (SYCOPHANT / ACTS PHONY)
  • 50A: My weight increases when traveling because ___ during ___ (with 84-Across) (VACATION TIME / I AM NOT ACTIVE)
  • 64A: Someone who is ___ years old now will be ___ in six years (with 68-Across) (FORTY-FIVE / OVER FIFTY)
Word of the Day: ANNE Moody (30A: Moody who wrote "Coming of Age in Mississippi") —
Anne Moody (September 15, 1940 – February 5, 2015) was an American author who wrote about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through the NAACPCORE and SNCC. Moody fought racism and segregation from when she was a little girl in Centreville, Mississippi, and continued throughout her adult life around the American South. [...] In 1969, Coming of Age in Mississippi received the Brotherhood Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews, and the Best Book of the Year Award from the National Library Association. In 1972, Moody worked as an artist-in-residence in Berlin. She went on to work at Cornell and in 1975, released a collection of short stories, titled Mr. Death: Four Stories. One of the stories, New Hope for the Seventies, won the silver award from Mademoiselle magazine. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is substandard work and the only explanation for it is cronyism, or, if you'd rather, the particular inertia of accepting puzzles from the same people (men) year after year after year after year because well they've been published year after year after year after year ... by you ... so there's a precedent ... that you set, but ... you can't argue that the name on the byline is an experienced constructor, largely because you've continued to publish him ... year after year after year. Every time I see his name, I think "oh no" and immediately thereafter I think "no, come on ... maybe this will be the time that the puzzle is at least pretty solid and not groaningly weak and bygone and sad!" And every time, like Charlie Brown trying to kick the damn football, I end up in a disappointed heap on the ground. Let's be clear: there is virtually no concept here. Take any phrase that you can make an anagram out of. *Literally*, any. Any. Doesn't matter. Do the phrases have to have anything to do with each other? No no no, we can just make it *seem* like they do when we write our convoluted and preposterous theme answer clues. Symmetry takes care of itself, since by definition both parts of an anagrammed pair are of equal length. So ... you just need five (!!?!) and bing bam boom, Sunday puzzle, and since you are a veteran (because the editor has published you year after year after year), you get paid literally the most you can be paid for an NYT crossword. Lather, rinse, *********ing repeat. I'm not mad at the constructor. It's the editor that's the problem. The NYTXW needs new leadership, new vision, new energy. 'Cause what we're seeing here, and far too often, is just sad. A puzzle running on former glory, i.e. on fumes. Inevitably good puzzles appear, because good constructors still submit and their puzzles get through. But the NYTXW should be good, or at least *aiming* for good, every time out. This one isn't even trying. "Making Arrangements"? That's your title? May as well have been "It's Random Anagrams, Folks, Take It Or Leave It, I Get Paid Either Way!"

Do I have anything more to say about this puzzle? I really don't think I do. SNEE and ESALEN and LEDTV ... I have those things to say. I liked the Negro Leagues clue on MONARCH (16D: Jackie Robinson, in his only year in the Negro Leagues).

Satchel Paige
ICEFISH is OK (43D: Sit out on a frozen lake, say). But those are more than offset by stuff like NOSERAG (ew!) and ONCD and OGIVE etc. Sgt. BILKO might've enjoyed this one, but not me. Hard pass. Better puzzles (and editors) are out there. I Promise You. XO.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

Note to @Whatsername: For 6D (Broncobusters) I had ___E_S in place and so wanted it to be “chiefs”, which at that point actually worked. Oh well …

Z 12:09 AM  

I was actually expecting more apoplexy.

Have I mentioned that anagrams are right below quote puzzles on my Least Favorite Puzzle Types list? I have? So, it could have been worse.

Frantic Sloth 12:23 AM  

So anagrams, huh? Fancy.

I'm in no position to criticize anything about this puzzle because:
a.) Anagrams alone impress me
b.) Fitting them into a grid is witchcraft to me
3.) It's too big and I'm too lazy

I will pose a question, however:
Having noticed a certain juxtaposition of two words made me wonder "if tater tots are made of potatoes, what are NANNY TOTS made of?

I don't think it's goats. πŸ€”


astrotrav 12:39 AM  

I'll admit I just plain don't like Sundays. I'm not good enough to do most of them in under an hour, so it just becomes a slog and is rarely satisfying to finish. I'm usually just relieved to be done with it. I agree with Rex on this one. For anagrams to be interesting the two phrases have to be connected. And the only one that I think meets that criterion is SYCOPHANT-ACTSPHONY. The others are just dreck. FORTYFIVE and OVERFIFTY are at least short enough that I could use that to figure out the answers. But for the rest of them there's too many letters and they are in practice separate answers.

John Child 12:39 AM  

Excellent puzzle for the early 90s.

George NYC 12:39 AM  

Anagrams? What's with the NYT and anagrams lately? Does it have something to do with all the bars in Manhattan being closed because of Covid? Is an afternoon martini deficit causing this obsession with scrambled letters? Today's (Saturday) "Wit Twister" puzzler, a recent quarantine-inspired addition shoehorned next to the print edition crossword, also featured anagrams, as it does frequently. I mean, seriously. What am I, a mind reader? I am very grateful Rex posted his precis right at midnight, as otherwise, in addition to frequent NYPD helicopter forays about town these days (protests), I would have gone to bed having to deal with the revelation that 45 + 6 = a number higher than 50. In fairness, I did like the "some trolleys" clue for TEACARTS. Brought to mind those leafy days along Elm Street in New Haven, when the carillon bells struck the 4 o'clock hour...

egsforbreakfast 12:45 AM  

Rex demeans this by saying “take virtually any phrase that you could make an anagram out of. *Literally*, any.” Well, perhaps Rex can look at ADREAMWITHINADREAM and think “0h, that’s an obvious anagram for WHATAMIAMINDREADER. I can’t do that. The amazing thing about this puz is that anyone could figure out that these anagrams exist at all. I Certainly couldn’t. Anagrammer on couldn’t (I checked), and I’m quite certain that Rex couldn’t.

Randolph Ross starts his constructor’s notes with “I’ve been collecting anagrams since I was a little kid”. I mean, this is serious anagramophilia! I’m not totally bowled over by the puzzle as a whole. It’s full of weak fill, and the format itself makes solving the second half of each themer a pro forma exercise. However, the anagrams themselves range from good to incredible, and Rex’s critique is like criticizing General Relativity by saying “take virtually any explanation for the interrelationships of space, time and matter. *Literally*, any”. Well, not many of us have an explanation of these at our disposal, just as not many of us would come up with these anagrams. I say thank you, Randolph Ross, for a jolly good Sunday puzzle.

Photomatte 1:21 AM  

Looking at 111 Across (Dictatorial leadership), the first word that came to mind, instantly, was Trumpism...and it fit! I filled that in and stopped doing the rest of the puzzle. The perfect answer for today, since it's DraftDodgingDonald's birthday. Ironically, it's also flag day. I wonder which flag DraftDodgingDonald likes more, the Confederate flag or the Russian flag? He kowtows to both.

km3t 1:21 AM  

Some differing opinions on this puzzle. I'm pretty reluctant to criticize much because I simply don't have the skill to cram these words into a grid to begin with. But I must say, I was looking at this near the end and thought... "Is that all there is to it?"
I agree with another poster that the anagrams are not entirely random as Rex has alleged, but there really isnt much to them. I also think Rex's reaction is justifiable because, really, he and others have been beating this drum for a long time now. There is a lot of 'meh' getting published. Given that NYT has specifically designed its digital subscriptions to include options around this supposedly flagship feature, I think it needs to up its game a bit.

Joe Dipinto 3:31 AM  

I'm not mad at the constructor. It's the editor that's the problem.

I like anagrams, or at least don't mind them, usually. I thought these were pretty cool, and inserting them into actual sentences added some fun to the proceedings. I liked portions of the fill also: FACE MASK was a nice touch, plus ANATOLIA, FALSITY, ICE FISH, BAD RISKS, IRON RULE, MONARCH, TEASELS. And who didn't love TONKA trucks?

Writers named Anne: Anne Rice, Anne Tyler, Ann Beattie, Ann Patchett, Anne Bronte, Anne Perry, Annie Proulx, Anne Sexton, and now Anne Moody. And others, I'm sure. Who can keep track of all these Ann(e)s?

Well, I knew Rex would rip this to shreds. There've been some better Sunday efforts recently, but we've had worse too. And the Split Decisions puzzle never disappoints. So I refuse to be in a bad mood today.

jae 3:59 AM  

Medium. Like it more than Rex did.

MexGirl 4:54 AM  

I am normally thrilled to do a Sunday puzzle. Today, however, I almost quit entirely; there was no joy, no excitement, not even curiosity for the tons of fill that didn’t make sense to me. Let me be clear, there is always fill that I’m not familiar with, but then that adds to the pleasure of solving (at least for me), where I feel like a detective following clues and making deductions. But this puzzle....just didn’t COAGULATE for me (even with the impressive anagrams).
For once I am in agreement with Rex (and that very seldom passes)

mikebernsVIE 5:46 AM  

There must be some reason behind the lacklustre title, "Making Arrangements." Could it, itself be an anagram containing the words "anagram," "anagrams" or "anagramming?" Anyone? Closest I have come is the nonsensical "ten anagrams ink germ."
I also appreciated the Covid-topical answers NOSERAG*, FACEMASK*, CONTAMINATED, STRICKEN, and BADRISKS, as well as the fact there is hardly any garbage fill in the grid.

*Here, in Austria, the Viennese have come up with some creative slang for face masks: "Ausgehfuahangl" (dialect for "Ausgeh-Vorhang," or stepping-out drapery) and "Bappnwindl" (dialect for "Pappenwindel," or mouth diaper).

Lewis 6:21 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 6:28 AM  


I've seen this notion expressed before, but I don't really understand how a puzzle being difficult to construct benefits me as a solver. Easy to make, hard to make, I don't really care - if it's a shit sandwich, I don't want to eat it.

Diver 6:35 AM  

I'm not a fan of anagrams but I liked this puzzle because it set Rex off on a rant.

Colin 6:39 AM  

Kudos to Randolph Ross for 1) his longevity at publishing NYT puzzles, and 2) some pretty impressive anagrams. I didn't even see the theme for a while and face-palmed when I did! I don't agree with OFL on the anagrams thing: It's hard enough to create some long ones as RR did here, but demanding that the anagrams be related or somehow cleverer to up this puzzle's level to acceptable is asking a bit much, methinks.

I appreciated the old (ONCD and BILKO, among others... although I have a nice music collection on LP's too!) sprinkled throughout. Decisions, decisions: I'm more used to a clot as a product of coagulation but had an inkling this wouldn't be correct; I tried angst at first instead of AGITA, but clearly, this didn't work on any of the crosses. And speaking of clots and other things medical, I know crosswords like the AMA, but truth is, the AMA only represents about 20% (or less) of US physicians and has been steadily losing membership for some time.

Lewis 6:42 AM  

What my crossword eyes can't unsee is that MIAMI embedded in WHATAMIAMINDREADER.

The puzzle? Perfect for a quiet no-rush solve, which I cherish, like reading in bed before falling asleep. The theme didn't help with the solve, but I didn't care as I puttered along. No dash or flash, just a sweet ride down the river, with a post-solve "Ooh!" at seeing the anagrams. Thank you, RR!

ChuckD 6:43 AM  

Anagrams are just not my idea of a good time - this themed became a themeless very quickly. Liked to seeing MONARCH and EULER - some other decent fill also including the current FACEMASK but overall more like being at work than enjoying a puzzle.

Roberta 6:47 AM  

Awful. If I want to do anagrams I'll go elsewhere.

Hungry Mother 7:35 AM  

Quick one today. I didn’t sense any theme, but no problem. Nice to see mathematicians make the grid.

Conrad 7:48 AM  


poc 7:59 AM  

I don't get YEAS. What's that about?
Also, a TOFF is not "dandy", but someone upper-class (and proud of it).

mmorgan 8:01 AM  

I like most NYT puzzles. This one was not fun. I did not enjoy solving it and saw no reason the two parts of each answer pair were related to each other. Now I see they’re anagrams. Okay, cute if you like them — I guess they’re cool in the abstract, but not in my puzzle, please.

Nick D 8:02 AM  

I’ve observed for a long time now that Will Shortz has a predilection for puzzles that rely on anagrams or swapping letters for a solution, and this finds full expression in the Sunday puzzle. Some people may enjoy it (for reasons that baffle me, he has a devoted following for the puzzle on NPR which relies almost entirely on these gimmicks), but it’s a bore for me, and I wish there were a wider variety (dare I say diversity?) of puzzles on Sunday.

ncmathsadist 8:18 AM  

All in all, a joyless slog. I ##@%$@# hated the ###@ theme.

GILL I. 8:54 AM  

Oh...I love anagrams. I learned from our friend ACME that Britney Spears anagrams to Presbyterians. My favorite: Funeral/real fun.
Well because I had a couple of drinks last night with my friend @JC66, and he gave me a little heads up about this here puzzle, I was bound and determined to try and love this. Guess what? I didn't LOVE it but I thought some of this was cool beans.
There were lots of things I didn't know and I used a bit of Google, but I wanted to finish and find a little aha or two. My first little aha was seeing ESALEN. If you're into yoga and weddings that is the place. Don Draper ended his Mad Men days in that glorious little paradise doing yoga and repenting for his sins. Some Zen did him some good.
IRON RULE reminds me of Maggie Thatcher, NO ADMITTANCE reminds me of one of my principal's door signs, FACE MASKS of the NOSE RAG and NANNY TOTS of some good chèvre.
I need some VACATION TIME like most of us here. No AGITA or angst.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

I've been told that as a constructor, your first duty is to the solver, not to your own ego or that of the editorial team. This puzzle seems to be antithetical to that, based on both my experience and that of most of the commentariat here. Is it an amazing feat of constructing? Possibly - we don't know if these anagrams were part of Randolph's "collection" - but solvers, for the most part, aren't interested in the technical aspects of a puzzle. They want fun, lively theme entries (especially on Sunday!), and these were... well, read the comments. This is not unfixable. The editors of all XWPs should always value solver experience above all else, lest XWPs become edited out of existence. Just my 2 cents from the perspective of an avid solver.


This was 46 minutes of WASTED TIME....SAD WE MET IT

pabloinnh 9:02 AM  

Any puzzle with an aha! is OK with me, and it took me long enough to see that the phrases were anagrams to induce a medium aha!. So fine. Also, I thought the anagrams were related. How not? OFL's complaints about randomness strike again. Why these? Because.

I used to go out with a girl whose birthday is also today (sadly for her, as it turns out). Anyway, she told me that when she was a young thing she thought everyone was putting flags out for her. Now that would be cool.

Thanks for a nice Sundecito, RR. You may be an "experienced" constructor playing a familiar tune, but some of us at least like listening to it.

kitshef 9:08 AM  

I wasn’t going to enjoy this no matter what, as anagram themes, absent an extra element, leave me cold.

With that disclaimer, the NANNY/TOTS section was awful. Two clues, neither of which can be solved without knowing the other, which means a lot of crosses need to come in. Throw in the “what part of speech is it” clue for ATE AT and DENT, and that little 4x4 section contained as much difficulty as the rest of the puzzle combined.

Which, OK, a little more difficulty would have been welcome. Just don’t cram it all into one tiny section.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Laziness vied with curiosity today and laziness won. To those who know me best, this will come as no surprise.

I didn't need to do any cross-referencing to fill in the top quarter, so everything was fine. Then, cross-referencing suddenly became necessary to fill in pretty much anything else, and, even worse, more and more of it seemed to be required.

If I enjoyed cross-referencing, I'd do Acrostics -- which I don't.

Would the gimmick be interesting enough to put myself through this aggravation? I didn't know -- and I still don't know. I'm writing this without yet knowing the gimmick. I just know that I stopped doing the puzzle because I was damned if I was going to do all that cross-referencing -- whatever the payoff. I'm going to read the blog now and find out what the gimmick is and whether I would have considered it worth it.* I'll come back and let you know.

*Whatever it is, I wouldn't have. But that's just lazy, shiftless me talking.

Name that tune 9:15 AM  

Rex, these puzzles continue to be published because you and everyone here continues to pay for them. You make money from them. Your blog supports them. Put your money where your mouth is, unsubscribe, and point your readers to new, better puzzles and write about them instead.

EdFromHackensack 9:21 AM  

Rex, you are far too harsh. I really liked this puzzle and struggled with it until I realized the anagram theme. I got a laugh out of ADREAMWITHINADREAM/WHATAMIAMINDREADER and also saw MIAMI for way too long . had one square wrong. the cross of TOFF and BRANFF I had TOiF and BRANiF. I do the hard copy, so no happy pencil. just guessed wrong.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

Final verdict: I wouldn't have picked up on those long, complicated anagrams; therefore they wouldn't have helped me solve; therefore doing all that irritating cross-referencing would have turned out to be completely pointless; and therefore you cannot imagine how happy I am that I dropped this early.

Badria 9:26 AM  

This puzzle was boring torture and I am glad you hated it, too.

Gillian 9:30 AM  

I am British and can honestly say that I have never heard the term noserag.

Sgreennyc 9:30 AM  

It was a fine puzzle. Amazing how someone as left-wing as Rex can be so Trumpian in his jealousy-induced rants.

EMC 9:42 AM  

100% agree. Hated this one. And have been disappointed in the puzzles more and more over the last few months.

John H 9:45 AM  

You guys don't get it. Shortz doesn't like crossword puzzles, he LOVES word puzzles, including anagrams. Have you ever listened to his inane radio program on Sundays?

Two naticks for me: Kasey Kasem/Anne Moody (I guessed that the e was an a); and CGI/Gina Rodriguez.

AW 9:47 AM  

I'm with Rex and many of the commenters: this was just not fun. The cross-referencing implies (to me) that by getting one part of the phrase you can infer the other, but why a boss ACTS PHONY (87A) around a SYCOPHANT (45A) eludes me. And wouldn't a teacher have some ideas to impart to a student who asks about the inspiration for a poem (31A and 98A)? A whole puzzle built around anagrams for anagrams' sake? No thanks. And I wholeheartedly agree with @kitshef: the NANNY/TOTS block is awful.

pmdm 9:51 AM  

I might enjoy anagrams but I am not good at solving them if they have more than 5 letters. (The Jumbo puzzles taught me that.) So I treat a puzzle like this one as a themeless. I did not even realize the theme until I went to XWordInfo last night. That knowledge did not influence my reaction to the puzzle in any way. I'm in-between on this one.

The universe of puzzle solvers is large and is filled with people who have a wide range of tastes. It is the job of the editor to make sure puzzles that anagram haters complain about are published to the delight of those who like that type of wordplay. Many here have very strong opinions about what they do and do not like. Some, like Lewis, have very broad interests. Sharp, not so. Z somewhere between them. It is the editor's responsibility to ensure all likes are satisfied. For Lewis, it does not matter. For Sharp, it matters a lot. To each his own.

egsforbreakfast 9:52 AM  

MARKINGS MEANT ANGER anagrams to MAKING ARRANGEMENTS. So obvious. *Literally*. I guess RR suspected what reaction his markings would draw.

Teedmn 10:00 AM  

Solving online using @r.alph's random function helped make this puzzle go down smoothly. The first theme pair I got was FORTY-FIVE, OVER FIFTY but I didn't see the anagrams until after I finished and was staring at the Poe poem couplet. Perhaps that spurred my brain because, like @Lewis, I was staring at the MIAMI in the second half of that answer and went back to the first to see if there was a correspondence. Anagram, BAM!

This puzzle covers a lot of ground, from ancient Egypt and Troy, to math's EULER, art's RODIN and Cyndi Lauper. CHIA pets, ICE FISHing and IGLOOS, a TOFF, OVER FIFTY, smelling of CLOVES, using a NOSERAG.

There isn't a whole lot of clever cluing. I liked ANION as a "Bit of negativity" and "Cover some ground" = SOD.

There are a few things I had no idea about such as ESALEN, MONARCH, Poker Flat chronicler which, if remembered (unlikely), means I learned something today.

Thanks, Randolph Ross. This was no mean feat finding and fitting this theme together. Does the title anagram to something? I see that ANAGRAMS is in the title but can make no sense of the KIRNGEMENT. TEN merking ANAGRAMS. Hmmm.

lukiegrifpa 10:01 AM  

Speaking of that guy, have you noticed interesting liar synonyms in the NYT puzzles lately? Mythomaniac today. Pseudologist yesterday or the day before.

RickA 10:06 AM  

Turns out there's a piece of art from 2007 entitled "A Dream Within A Dream - (What Am I A Mind Reader?). Link:

Teedmn 10:14 AM  

Now that I've had the chance to read more of the comments, I see I wasn't the only one trying my hand at anagramming the title, and to better effect than mine.

Birchbark 10:18 AM  


I hadn't gotten the theme when sixTY- --> FifTY- --> settled on FORTY-FIVE. So I spent a while on 68A trying to make the math of 71, 61, 51, and even 39 fit into nine squares. Then SYCOPHANT/ACTS PHONY gave me the theme, and OVER FIFTY is good enough for government work. I liked it.

And I do kind of like the smart-aleck kid who hands it back to his English teacher with the MIND READER remark. Obviously a gifted lad who imagines a HI-HAT clanging when he nails the punchline. He looks around, a little smug, to see if anyone noticed the anagram. But their eyes are on the textbook, as though it would have the answer.

Mark F 10:23 AM  

Making arrangements = men rest anagram king ?

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All ! (Ay Hell?)
Lots of vitriol spewed at this puz. I happened to like it! *Ducks* Anagrams are neat to me, especially the long ones. Sure, you can use an Anagramming software thing, but my simple brain is easily amused by the ones in this puz. ☺️

Had my one-letter DNF today, which shouldn't have happened, but I got down to the final letter, the E of EULER/ESALEN, and I know it's EULER with two E's, but I was pretty sure I had other wrongness, so went with @M&A's "when in doubt, throw in a U", and put that U in EULuR. Got the "Almost There!" message, so hit "Check Puzzle", and the E was the only crossed out letter. Argh!

Had some tougher clues, I thought. That CLOVES/GINA/AVANT section, for one. And FARO is a betting game? Wanted kenO for a bit. Thankfully (especially living in Las Vegas), I'm not a big gambler. SATANIC to me had a "Well, no duh!" kinda clue. The Devil IS SATAN. Just sayin'.

Seven F's (four in the center themer)
NOSERAG FACEMASK (sign o' the times)

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Born and raised in the UK, never heard a hankie called a nose rag.

Michael 10:39 AM  

So disappointed when I got to the bottom half and realized these were just anagrams. No, wait; check that. Not disappointed. Not angry. Not let down. Just bored. And kind of resigned.

Oh, and 48 and 49 down. Sigh. "Let's put two downs that have to be gotten from crosses in such a way that you have to get the boring themers to cross them. That will make it challenging!" No. No it will not. It will just make it irritating.

Unknown 10:45 AM  

I had great fun, but apparently not a majority opinion. Wish I had figured out th anagram trick early enough to get answers with it, but I found it fun, elegant and novel. With a few funny pairs.

I guess I'd have to be a constructer to care about Rex's issue with the theme.

deerfencer 10:47 AM  

Bah on Rex and the many haters of this.

I was initially oblivious to the anagrams but dug the puzzle anyway. Was late in getting the ADREAMWITHINADRERAM WHATAMIAMINDREADER couplet but thought it was the highlight of the day. And ACTSPHONY and SYCOPHANT is a pretty brilliant pairing.

LeaveItToYourGoat 10:49 AM  

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I didn't even notice the anagrams... and not because I blazed through it too fast to notice, as this one took me almost an hour.

I had convinced myself that the theme was just silly/sarcastic word-play or something. The last one I got was SYCOPHANT / ACTS PHONY, because I originally had SeCretAry at 45-A, and ACTS----- at 87-A, so my thinking was "We know the boss's assistant is a SECRET 'ARY' because he always ACTS (some word for 'secretly ary?')."

WHAT AM I, A MIND READER? was a fun smart-ass response to the hypothetical scenario that clued A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM, and the others were just kinda... there.

That being said, when I came here and learned that all the themers were anagrams of their symmetrical counterparts and got past that brief "mind-blown" moment, it immediately made me appreciate this puzzle a lot more. Rex can moan and groan about cronyism all he wants, but this was a much better puzzle than he's giving it credit for. Sure there's some weak fill and the theme isn't the most stellar we've ever seen, but that's to be expected from a 21x21 Sunday.

On a completely unrelated note, cruciverbalists all over the country are cheering on Seattle anarcho-communists in hopes of making CHAZ an acceptable short-fill entry for future puzzles, if for no other reason.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

My wife and I finished the puzzle and had no clue what the theme was. After figuring it out, I was impressed by the constructor's cleverness, though (perhaps unfairly) I am less impressed on hearing that he has been collecting anagrams since he was a kid.

But as for the puzzle from the solver's point of view, I am reminded by what Agatha Christie has Hercule Poirot say (roughly) to a wealthy client for whom he has just retrieved a very expensive collector's item:

"What struck me about your problem from the beginning is how extremely uninteresting it was."

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Once again I find myself asking if the point of the puzzle is to give joy to the solver. These efforts seem increasingly onanistic.

Joe Dipinto 11:03 AM  

@AW 9:47 – It's the assistant (the sycophant) who acts phony.

Unknown 11:06 AM  

I'm relatively new to XWP-world. Anything past Tuesday's NYT puzzle is a struggle for me. I complete the occasional Wed/Sunday, but Thu-Sat? Fuggetaboutit. On those days I'm happy to get a few and then amuse myself looking up the solutions on this site and the often humorous commentary.

Today, i failed miserably to get very far at all. But i was *so proud* to have figured out 64/68-across to be:

"fortynine", "fiftyfour"

the only possible solution (I thought).

Doh!!! When i looked it all up i realized i totally misunderstood the intended theme. Shame on me for never reading the intro. RTFM, bozo! sole contribution to this firum. Hope it amused...

dadnoa 11:13 AM  

+1 for the football reference.....and it would have been a better clue! I tried Raiders, didn’t fit :)

Sam Scott 11:15 AM  

As a 45-year-old, I'm still smarting from the reminder that over-fifty beckons so.

Used to loathe anagrams. But during the COVID shutdown, I took it as a challenge to learn to do cryptics, where anagrams are the coin of the realm. Held my nose, pushed through and got to the point where I reliably finish the New Yorker's resurrected cryptic. Hate anagrams a little less as a result of all the practice.

The NANNY/TOTS block was infuriating. But liked this puzzle (for a Sunday) more than most.

Unknown 11:16 AM  

Meant..."fiftyfive". Brain fart...

57stratocaster 11:23 AM  

When was the last great Sunday NYT puzzle?

The last really enjoyable one?

I don't enjoy anagrams in the puzzles. They're fine elsewhere...where I don't have to deal with them, but when I'm wanting to enjoy the Sunday NYT puzzle, and it's filled with dumb clues referring to other dumb clues, I feel robbed of a fun experience. I know it's my fault for wanting the experience of continuing a streak, but it does feel like drudgery toward the end.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

@Kitchef, " Two clues, neither of which can be solved without knowing the other..."

Thank you. This very thing in a puzzle brings out the same visceral reaction in me as watching someone who acts phony surrounded by bunch of enabling sycophants.

But this puzzle would be a theme park for someone who enjoy that kind of ride. So, well done.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Thanks Randolph Ross. A terrific puzzle, and obviously a superb feat of construction.
—-Charlie Thunder (my named anagrammed, to get in the spirit of the proceedings)

KnittyContessa 11:33 AM  

I love a clever Sunday puzzle. I hate anagrams. Today was such a disappointment. Not only did I feel cheated out of a fun Sunday but I had to spend close to an hour with anagrams. Ugh. AND a DNF at BANFF/TOFF. I had BANiF/TiFF.

Swagomatic 11:35 AM  

This was an impressive feat of construction. The solving, though, was more like homework. Then, to add insult to injury, I had to spend 20 minutes searching for two very elusive typos. Kudos to the constructor, but not my cup of tea.

GHarris 11:39 AM  

If I wanted an op-ed I would have gone to the Sunday Review section. But what do I know. I finished this without ever noticing the theme.

Sharon K. Yntema 11:43 AM  

I didn’t even realize the theme was anagrammed words until I read it here - apparently It wasn’t necessary At all to see them to solve the puzzle

Azzurro 11:53 AM  

I also didn’t see the anagrams and didn’t get why these phrases were significant. While solving, I just thought it was unusually hard, about double my usual Sunday time. It makes more sense now.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Who was the dullard that used pelican as something feminine? Sorrry, but pelican has for the last 8 centuries been a symbol for Christ. Nothing feminine about it. But hey, what does The Angelic Doctor know?

Nora Bensahel 11:56 AM  

There was no joy in (puzzle) Mudville today.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Agree. RP has been shut in too long, and his jealousy and hatred are becoming magnified. Hey, take up an instrument. Or are you too left-brain focused?

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Pettier and pettier, Rex. Sheesh. I'm glad I'm not you.

Unknown 12:08 PM  

Me too. The real term is SNOT RAG.

Margaret 12:13 PM  

I am British and the slang we used for handkerchief was "snot rag", which also fit. Never heard anyone say "nose rag".

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Culture of complaint.

No grabbing 12:21 PM  

Didn't anybody else notice that testicle fit the space for facemask?

Petsounds 12:43 PM  

Didn't notice the anagrams until I read this blog.

Lived in London, worked in London, traveled widely in England, never heard the odious term NOSERAG for handkerchief. Googled it. Found nothing to support this answer.

Still don't know why DENT is "Nick's cousin." Which Nick, exactly?

Please stop allowing NEATEN for "put in order." No one says that. Ever. "I need to neaten this room." Never.

ONCD = "like some music collections?" Please.

The clue for FACEMASK could have been something more timely than a football term.

There were a few highlights: MONARCH, GRANDE, WENTAS. And it was nice to see only a few pop culture proper names.

But overall, a long slog that was not much fun. Upped my Sunday average considerably with very little reward. I'm with Rex and the majority of commenters here.

Carola 12:51 PM  

I'll file this one under "trek," just edging out "slog." It took a long time and was an arduous journey, but still kept me interested enough to keep me going to the final square. And in the end, the Poe quote combination offered enough mental refreshment to make the exercise worthwhile.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

My dad says neaten all the time. A Nick is a small imperfection in something. When I moved the sofa I nicked the woodwork. So too a dent. A small imperfection or bit of damage. I put a dent in the car when I nicked it with a chopping cart.
As for noserag, well, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s surely not a thing.

mathgent 1:03 PM  

I’m posting in case Mr. Ross is reading us today. I’m surprised that this excellent puzzle wasn’t appreciated more. I loved it.

I do cryptics whenever I find them. They have lots of anagrams.

EULER makes it into the puzzle regularly but you gave it the coolest clue at 94A. The famous identity with the gamut of numbers. Real (rational, irrational, transcendental) and imaginary.

I’d be very pleased to get an email from you. I think that we have a number of things in common.

What? 1:07 PM  

Liked this a lot. All the anagrams are connected and fun to decipher. I like a puzzle that takes time and leaves no space infilled. And now to my favorite of all - Split Decisions.

Mary McCarty 1:11 PM  

Nose rag: over 26 million hits on Google; snot rag: 710,000.

Didn’t notice the anagram feature at all; solved completely via crosses and (to me) pretty obvious tight connections between the 2 phrases:
What could be more closely connected than CONTAMINATED and NO ADMITTANCE?
More wittily connected than DREAM...WHAT AM I...? (have you read that poem? Pretty elusive, IMO)
More sneeringly connected than SYCOPHANT...ACTS PHONY?
I agree FORTYFIVE...OVERFIFTY is pretty weak, but I already had the-TYs, from the crosses, so just a few more solved the 55/60 problem.

That said, I really do hate two-part clues.

Z 1:23 PM  

This NOSE RAG thing made me curious, especially with posters saying they are British and never heard of it. I did a search and only found a few online dictionary entries, all of which point to Collins. No entry at American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, or etymology online. Nothing on Wikipedia. Urban Dictionary does have an entry from 2010. Anyone have a Collins Dictionary hard copy available to see if the entry is any better than the online entry (which only says it is British and is slang for handkerchief)? Curiously, I did find this on YouTube. At least one person thinks this British musician influenced Mark Knopfler. Maybe the clue isn't wrong so much as needing an archaic appended to it.

Z 1:26 PM  

@Mary McCarthy - Did you search
nose rag
or did you search
"nose rag"?

The first gives you hits with any page that has "nose" or "rag" while the latter will only give you pages that have "nose rag" together.
(I don't know - I use Duck Duck Go and it doesn't give me a hit count)

RooMonster 1:40 PM  

Randolph Road anagrams to...
Rex rants? - SHARP LORDS ON
Rex's invite? - SHARPS? LORD NO! (Har, and a wink, Rex)
Cooking oil sex film? - LARD HOS PORNS


**SB Ramblings**
Today's Bee was only two letters different than YesterBee. And I only missed One stinking word Yesterday for QB. Dang! It's also in todays, so I did get it now. But I'm still not at QB. Man, what does a Bee-er have to do? πŸ˜‹

**SB over**

RooMonster ANAGRAMS RULE (which can be 'A REAL MANS RUG') Guy

pmdm 1:59 PM  

Petsounds: If there is a dent in your car, it could just be a small nick or something a bit more intrusive.

I'm OK with anagrams but pretty much dislike "cousin of" clues. I'm OK with difficult clues but look askance at "cute" ones.

RooMonster 2:05 PM  

Randolph Ross...
@#!*$ spell check

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Anybody check Rex’s Twitter? Beyond creepy. Celebrating watching a film where young teenage girls race to lose their virginity. Creepy old man stuff. Ick!!!!

jberg 2:11 PM  

I'm getting here late -- my wife had an online recital with her fellow flute students; it was fun to watch and listen, but then I was famished so I'm coming here after lunch.

I was expecting the matched theme answers to be some kind of wit, and I couldn't figure any of them out. Also, I don't know that particular Poe poem, and six years from 45, 55, or 65 you're an age that has the wrong number of letters, so I was stumped there. Also, I put in I AM NOT ACTIng.

But then I took a closer look at the puzzle's title, thought, Aha! Anagrams! and the puzzle suddenly became easier. Much easier. Words said in passing held me up, though, as I ran through every sense of "passing" except the correct one. Nice deception. I should add that I love anagrams.

BTW, the words I wish were said in passing more often are "On your left!" as you and your bike are about to zoom past some oblivious pedestrians (viz., me).

Of course I knew of that remarkable, and beautiful identity; but did I remember that EULER figured it out? No -- but 5-letter mathematician is all you need to know!

Now to read Rex and the rest of you.

pabloinnh 2:19 PM  

@Roo Monster

*****SB ALERT******

Agree that today's SB felt like deja vu all over again, and I was thoroughly sick of yesterday's letters after staring at them for too long trying to get to QB, which I did not. Today as soon as I hit Genius I decided it was time to do something else, like read about how anagrams are no fun. I think we need LMS to remind us of how dormitory=dirty room.

Bonnie 2:27 PM  

Just painful to do. No fun and lots of obscure, unclever stuff. Is it my imagination, or is the Sunday NYT puzzle declining? Are younger people abandoning Xwords?

pwoodfin 2:31 PM  

And let’s not forget sycophant. I’m looking at you Barr. Wait, I’m looking at the entire Republican Party! Come to think of it, this puzzle is damn trendy.

jberg 2:40 PM  

@Lewis, I'm mystified that the theme didn't help you with the solve -- did you have all the second halves of the theme answers already by the time you realized they were anagrams?

On another matter, am I the only one who unhesitatingly wrote in ELi for the street on Yale's campus?

Kathy 2:45 PM  

I had seen the late night warnings to expect a Rex rant so I had that in the back of my mind as I solved this morning. It didn’t seem like a bro puzzle. Yeah, the constructor was male and there certainly were some olden references, maybe he’s an old white guy. I’m too new to this to be tuned in to the politics of XW publication. When I saw we were dealing with anagrams, I got too busy collecting the free letters to think any more about Rex and his opinion.

I’m pretty neutral on anagrams but I AM a wordplay girl. And where were my Sunday chortles??? Sorely lacking. But I am also a mathy gal and I jumped right on the age clue—did anyone else spend a lot of time just trying to solve for the two numbers? Only FORTYNINE and FIFTYFIVE satisfied the conditions (with the couple of crosses I had in) so I confidently put them in. Only to spend more time untangling that mess later. And I was let down when the second answer turned out not to be a number.

I didn’t particularly enjoy this puzzle because so much of the fill was HO HUM. But it looks like others did, so that’s just fine. Different strokes for different folks.

Masked and Anonymous 2:47 PM  

@RP: har. Well, first things first … Good mornin, Sunshine!

yep. The theme was not a big fave, at our house. The other aspects of the puz seemed just fine, tho.
What the puztheme had fightin against its success, IM&AO:

1. SunPuz themes tend to keep yer attention more if they have some humor. Cuz it's an extra long haul on Sunday, to bring in the catherd. Need somethin a few notches up in funny from CONTAMINATED - NO ADMITTANCE, f'rinstance.

2. Theme answers should at least help a little bit in the solvequest. Anagrams that aren't ever hinted at as bein anagrams, and which only become visible at the other end of a looong puzzle, is a pretty rough way to drop folks a lifeline. Kinda like a lead lifejacket, if U will.

3. Some folks don't enjoy anagrams all that much, especially in copious quantities. A little goes a long way, sorta like anchovies or stretch-racks. M&A likes em ok, if he gets a fresh cinnamon roll with each one.

4. It was more than possible that a solver never would figure out what the theme mcguffin was, leadin to crossword AGITA. [brrruup]

fave fillins: SATANIC. AGITA. NOSERAG (cooler than snot).
Didn't know: OGIVE. ANATOLIA. TOFF. ELGON. Where Lake Louise was. What the puztheme was.
Learnin stuff (other than not ever grokkin the puztheme) is fine, tho.
staff weeject pick: ILE. Hard not to LUV a solid suffix. [brrruup]

Thanx for all yer hard & excellent work over the many years, Mr. Ross. Hang in there, Shortzmeister; I still like yer NYTPuzs better than most.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

Example of a puz that's also harder than snot, but is over mercifully fast:

Barbara S. 2:53 PM  

ODD DUCK here. I like anagrams whether inside crossword puzzles or out. Like @Sam Scott and @mathgent, I do cryptics, so anagrams galore. I thought SYCOPHANT/ACTS PHONY was a brilliant pairing. The others were less outstanding but I got a happy aha-chuckle each time. I'm up for just about any puzzle gimmick although, like many, I'm not wild about quotations.

I shuddered at IRON RULE crossed by SATANIC.
I liked HOHUM crossed by HIHATS. (OWING TO the look of the two words -- I don't think cymbals are boring.)

I thought the following were good misdirects:
ANATOLIA for Turkey piece? and
TROY for Home to Paris

TEASELS is a great word (even if a POC).

I learned "Snick and SNEE" and Bret HARTE.

I was happy to be reminded of the Poe. Who doesn't benefit from the opportunity to muse on the nature of reality from time to time?
"Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?"

***SB ALERT***
@Roo 1:40
I feel your pain. That was a mighty strange group of letters yesterday and, gadzooks, here are most of them again. I was two words away from QB yesterday and I'm in the same position today -- but not the same two words. Sigh.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

Actually glad that rex is so obviously enraged ala trump that he's too harmless to do any damage to anyone but himself. Gee- if only the hundreds of thousands of NYT crossworders understood how to be critical pedants.

CDilly52 3:02 PM  

@eggs...12:45 am
I am with you all the way!! And I adore your blog handle!

CDilly52 3:12 PM  

Thanks, @Frantic Sloth, 12:23 am. You make me laugh every single day, and that’s something I really need right now!

Mark Siegel 3:17 PM  

These are mean-spirited and ageist comments. Can good puzzles come only from those who are neither old nor male. As one who is both, I am done reading your column, Mr. Rex Parker.

CDilly52 3:21 PM  

@Lewis. Hand up for the MIAMI part and my blurry vision made it worse because the MIAMI made my eye-brain connection completely erase the N and I kept wondering WHAT A MIAMI DREADER had to do with the Poe poem. I came up with Poe must have had a nightmare about having a nightmare while in Key West during hurricane season and vowing never to go back! How’’s that for a stretch!

RooMonster 3:35 PM  

Anagrams for y'all, lovers and haters alike! (Looked these up. You didn't really think I was this smart, did ya?)

Astronomer - Moon starer
The eyes - They see
The Morse Code - Here come dots
Slot machines - Cash lost in me
Snooze alarms - Alas, no more Z's
A decimal point - I'm a dot in place
Conversation - Voices rant on
Payment received - Every cent paid me
Say it with flowers - We flirt so this way
The public art galleries - Large picture halls, I bet
Election results - Lies! Let's recount!

And HOLYMOLY not allowed in SB. πŸ˜•πŸ˜›


Hartley70 3:42 PM  

I’m getting in line behind @Lewis and @Mathgent. I had a good time with this puzzle. That it lasted like an all day sucker only increased by enjoyment. I got a laugh out of BILKO. It’s been a long long time since I’ve thought of him! I’ll add that I’m mighty impressed with the anagramming skill of the constructor. It took me a while to see it but I was gobsmacked when I did.

CDilly52 3:54 PM  

A couple things. First, I love anagrams. I really love them when they are in crosswords and the constructor can connect them to a clever theme so that the solve of the anagram gives you that “aha” or “ha-ha” moment or ideally, both. The fact that our constructor actually ‘anaged to fit his impressive anagrams into fairly cogent and somewhat clever complete sentences impressed me. A lot. So, while these were just spectacularly impressive anagrams, and Mr. Ross clearly toiled mightily to create a meaningful, clever and humorous theme, he didn’t quite tick all the boxes.

Next, I did find some good wordplay:
1. AUDIT - “open-book exam.” I would have left off the ?, but I get that he or the editor must have thought it necessary because he used a hyphenated open-book as a decoy (maybe).
2. AN ION - “bit of negativity.” Like that one a lot, especially because I got that from its crosses and glanced back when that section was finished and thought I had learned a new word “ANION,” and made a mental note to look it up. But, along cane Democritus at 34D and it came to me that we were talking ATOMS handily just below AN ION! Sheesh girl, get some sleep already!
3. IGLOOS - “ice pads,” made more clever to the blind woman because I read the clue “ice packs!” See comment to no. 2 about sleep.
4. SMOG - “bad air day.” Couldn’t help thinking Cockney accent to make that bit of silliness better (likely as intended-I’m easy).
5. EDITED - “put in a good word.”

On balance, I enjoyed this one. Undoubtedly my fatigue level contributed to my enjoyment because the puzzle took me away to entertainment land without requiring full battle regalia. Gave me a pleasant hour with my cats and my coffee.

Lately, I have begun to dread post-noon Sunday as “Monday Eve.” Can’t wait to get through November when my fervent hope is that we can establish a “new normal” that includes true leader- and statesman-and woman-ship. . . everywhere in the US. I’m told that hope springs eternal. Hanging on to that.

Have a good week everybody.

JC66 3:57 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Hey @Roo

SB won't take MOLLY, either.

JC66 4:01 PM  


ANION was a DOOK for me. I thought I learned a new word.

Thanks for cleaning that up.

Rug Crazy 4:06 PM  

Never saw the ANAGRAMS. I'd bet it's a big club

egsforbreakfast 4:37 PM  

I’m not sure that @CDilly52 and @JC66 are correct about AN ION. ANION (one word) is a commonly used word in chemistry for a negatively charged ion. So when I solved, I took the answer to be the single word. Either interpretation would be perfectly in keeping with the clue, but just thought I’d note this little quirk

Lisa puzzle lady 5:15 PM  

I think it’s when you pass an exam, you say “yea” im celebration. More like “yay” but whatever.

JC66 5:39 PM  


I think the "?" in the clue makes it a DOOK.


YEAS are votes needed to pass a bill

kitshef 5:40 PM  

@CDilly52 - As @egs notes, you did learn a new word. An ANION is a negatively charged ion. As opposed to a CATION, which is a positively charged ion. Note them both for future crosswords.

Lewis 5:41 PM  

@jberg -- Yes, someone on the other blog mentioned this also, so I had to think a bit more about it. I guess I just kept filling in squares, and while I normally do think about the theme while I'm solving, I hardly gave it a thought this morning, just filled in those squares, and it was done. When I did want to see what the theme was afterward, I saw it right away. Just one of those things...

GP 5:47 PM  

Great mathematician pronounced “Oiler” I think. Discovered this most wonderful equation that relates all three mysterious and transcendental numbers: pi, e (log base), and i , the sq root of -1. Can also be written containing trig functions...a true miracle.

Smith 6:06 PM  

When you pass a motion you say YEA (or nay, unless you are Presbyterian, in which case it's "Opposed, same sign") and then it's marked MSA for made-seconded-approved

goldbug 6:06 PM  

Well *I* rather liked it. But for the record, a handkerchief in British slang (20A) is SNOTRAG. I've lived here for twenty years and never heard it called a NOSERAG. (SNOTRAG, of course, wouldn't be likely to pass the Breakfast Test.)

Smith 6:20 PM  

@jberg 2:40

Hand up for ELi!
But I went to Cornell..

Barbara S. 6:45 PM  

***SB ALERT!!***

I just got QB! -- thanks to a lot of goofy, but ultimately valuable, guessing. I missed yesterday, but I've now made QB 3 of the last 4 days. Woohoo!

I wish I could think of a pithy clue to help anyone still working on it. All I can say is: it can be done BY YOU!


syracusesolver 6:49 PM  

I thought the puzzle was okay—not awful, but not great either. I think the sheer size of Sunday puzzles makes them susceptible to sloginess.

Hand up for snot RAG (no worse than TOEJAM. Can we look forward to ear wax? Belly button lint?)
Also for ELi Street.

My favorite anagram is dormitory——>dirty room

JC66 6:54 PM  

****SB ALERT****

@Barbara S

Congratulations, again.

I'm one short but I'll keep at it (for awhile).

pabloinnh 7:26 PM  

@Barbara S--

As my od Vermont friend Burns used to say if I had done something reasonably remarkable, you know, (insert name here), nobody likes a showoff. I still think that's funny.

Nice going, again. I am filled with hope and envy, almost in equal measures. Take a bow, and continue to inspire us.

GILL I. 7:28 PM  

I'll add some tea to my crumpets. My husband was born in Liverpool....he's as British as they come. And yes....NOSE RAG is a thing, folks. And there you have it. Pip pip.

Crimson Devil 8:52 PM  

Ditto re Anagrams smanagrams, never noticed on my slog, longest effort was YEAS. Duh

Barbara S. 9:03 PM  

****SB AGAIN****

@JC66 and @pabloinnh
Thanks. I've thoroughly enjoyed being a show off (tee-hee, @pablo), but I'm counting on you guys to pull me back to earth if I become completely insufferable.

SB glory to all! (I've just watched "Toy Story," and I'm channeling Buzz Lightyear.)

jae 9:04 PM  

**** SB. ALERT ***

@Barbara S., Pabloinhn, @JC66 - Thnks for the update, I’m one word short and will now keep on staring.

puzzlehoarder 9:20 PM  

***SB ALERT***

Lots of overlap from yesterday. It's the most I've ever seen. The QB was 24 words if I remember correctly. There were a couple of long ones that of course used the letters that weren't on yesterday's list. That made it a little easier.

As for today's puzzle it had some good resistance. The SE corner stood out as it was the one section that didn't have the option of backfilling and it made me work a little harder.

ghostoflectricity 11:00 PM  

@poc: "Yeas" are "yes" votes for "passing" legislation.

This puzzle was meh. I don't know if it or the constructor deserved such an extended and nasty rant on Rex's part. He can qualify his rant all he wants that it's not a slam at the particular constructor, but of course it is. I have seen Mr. Ross's name frequently over the years, having done the NYT crossword pretty much every day- in print- since the mid-1970s, and know little or nothing about him. I also am neutral on the subject of anagrams- I don't love them or hate them. Rex accuses Ross pretty much openly of being a Shortz crony and a beneficiary of favoritism. Them's purty strong words, as they used to say in my native Texas. I am not a Shortz partisan and agree in general with Rex that in recent years the NYT crossword has taken a nosedive in quality and enjoyability. But Rex's diatribe here is, no matter how many weasel words he uses to deny it, a very nasty attack on Mr. Ross. There is plenty of nastiness and there are plenty of unfounded blanket accusations emanating from hate and personal resentment currently floating around without Rex emulating the Would-Be Dictator-in-Chief in casting aspersions based on his own moment-to-moment resentment and infantile rage. This was perhaps the worst writeup I have seen from Rex, and I've been reading this blog for 6-7 years now. Mr. Ross may not be Rex's cup of tea or the world's most brilliant or original constructor, but he didn't deserve this.

One final word: I am also a retired clinical psychologist. Back in the day, I studied a lot of psychoanalytic literature; I have also listened to literally thousands of people in my life, both in my general life and professionally as a therapist. One general conclusion I've come to live by, professionally and personally, is that when I've heard unmitigated negative attacks, without nuance and delivered with vehemence (and often loudly and with, shall we say, "colorful" language), is that what I heard told me far more about the speaker of the words than the object of the attack. In Freudian psychology, we have the concept of defense mechanisms, which the mind employs to fend off unwanted ideas or desires. Projection (ascribing to others unpleasant aspects we suspect unconsciously we ourselves harbor) and denial (refusing to believe we have any unpleasant aspects to our personality in the first place) are considered the most primitive and infantile defense mechanisms (and not coincidentally are the ones engaged in by a certain orange-tinted, eternally infantile-minded authoritarian who celebrated his 74th birthday today). My takeaway from Rex's writeup today is that it told me very little about Randolph Ross and Will Shortz but quite a lot about Rex Parker. It was not pleasant- either reading of it or the impression I took away afterward.

A Moderator 11:11 PM  


Too bad you did't post earlier so more people could read you comment.

CDilly52 11:28 PM  

Hi @eggs! And thanks! One of the things I enjoy most about crosswords is learning things. If I have heard ANION as a word before, I certainly did not retain it! I would have failed high school chemistry if not for the teacher, Ray McKinty. He did not believe that otherwise smart kids could t at least pull a B, and spent hour upon hour with three of us and sure enough, I barley eked out a B- but I never will forget Mr. Mac, best and most dedicated teacher I have ever known. Apologies Mr. Mac if I should have remembered, and thanks again, @eggs.

CDilly52 11:29 PM  

Roger that, @kitshef. See my reply to @eggs and thank you as well!

Joe Dipinto 11:32 PM  

@ghost - That was very eloquent.

Frantic Sloth 11:33 PM  

@GP 547pm Of course you are correct, but I prefer to pronounce it YOOler because it's more fun and he's dead anyway, so probably won't sue. πŸ˜‰

@CDilly52 - Thank you for the kind words. It makes me happy that I can sorta help in some wee way. Wish you didn't have work so hard. πŸ˜•

@Lorelei Lee (from yesterday) Aw shucks - you're turnin' my head! πŸ₯΄

**SB Alert**
Fellow Bee-ers, do any of you make use of the SB section of the Wordlplay blog for hints, etc.? I find that most of the time I have to know at least the first letter usage count to attain QB, but it I'm betting most of you (especially that insufferable Barbara S.)* don't need that.

*jk! πŸ˜‰

Anonymous 11:37 PM  

Agree with you in every way... and I didn't even get that they were anagrams! Just unconnected questions and answers. Almost never agree with Rex, but today was indeed a slog.

Anonymous 11:38 PM  


Joaquin 11:56 PM  

Well, this is getting interesting ...
Apparently, a moderator of this very blog has endorsed increased readership of a post blasting - no, BLASTING - Rex. What's that all about?

Or is some sleepy (actual) moderator letting some random person post as "A Moderator"?

jae 11:57 PM  

***SB ALERT***

@Barbara S. - Thanks again, I hung in there and got the QB.

LenFuego 1:21 PM  

Good puzzle. I like when to finish the puzzle, I have to (or at least, it helps a lot for me to) understand the theme and solve the theme answers independently of the raw crosswording. That was the case with this puzzle, and always a fun solve when that happens.

Unknown 7:39 PM  


Fred 7:18 PM  

I disagree with Rex on this one. I had fun, thought the thematic answers were clever, albeit pretty easy once I got the anagram bit. Many of the shorter answers were also fun, e.g., Nanny and tots. If anything, I personally feel the Sunday NYTXW has been more challenging during the past month or so, which is welcome during the lock down.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I get a great kick out of how deep Trump gets into the heads of you Lefties. Am I the only right of centre puzzle solver in existence? No matter what's being discussed, the addled Left has to take a swipe at the Donald.
Can't wait to see how the Dems will manoeuvre to keep Senile Joe out of the debates.

spacecraft 1:17 PM  

What in the world is all this SB...QB stuff? I have no idea what you guys are talking about. As to today's, my puzzle was titled "Making Arrangements" which screamed "Anagrams!" to me before I even started. Strange that so many solved without even realizing that. And, when I saw that that was ALL there was to it, a feeling of "meh" overtook me.

There are two basic types of constructors: those who care how they fill their grids, and those who don't. That's all I'm gonna say on the subject.

Ariana GRANDE gets DOD; par.

Burma Shave 2:23 PM  


GINA's got A LEGUP for practice,
FACE it, I'MSET TO breed her,


rondo 2:36 PM  

Anagrams are about to surpass rebus squares as my least favorite xword thing.
YEA baby for Laura LINNEY.
STRICKEN by the lack of CHARM here.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

An anion is a negatively charged ion.
One word.

Diana, LIW 5:58 PM  

I almost never say this kind of thing, but here it comes:


My eyesight isn't what it used to be, and going back and forth betwixt and between the answers, whilst guessing at remote trivia PPP, just isn't my cuppa - trollies or no trollies.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Monday, glorious Monday

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

This was a bit of a slog for me, but a fairly enjoyable one. The anagrams helped with the solving and the solving helped with the anagrams. I liked the puzzle maybe because RR and I are about the same age and so maybe on similar wavelengths ? In any case I don't agree too much with OFL on this but that is not unusual. He has his pet peeves and RR is sure to bring them out. Nice finish to the week.

And since we have a few political statements in the comments here's my two cents: Since the choice in November is Donald/Joe, I'll sit it out for the umpteenth time in a row.

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

You made me laugh AND read all 2 of your blog entrys!

Unknown 12:29 AM  

Dave Ellis sounds like Jethro Tull to me

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