First name of Peace Nobelist that ends ironically / SUN 8-16-20 / Phillipa who played Eliza in original cast of Hamilton / Charles religious leader known as Father of Modern Revivalism / Slugger Hideki / What a dental scalar removes / Actress Tyler who will be apt age in 2031

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Constructor: Francis Heaney

Relative difficulty: Easy (7:55)

THEME: "Alternative Cinema" — Movies are clued as "Alternative titles" for other movies; they're "alternatives" because their titles make them sound like their titles are about the same thing as the originals (even if, in every case, they are very much not):

Theme answers:
  • "TWELVE ANGRY MEN" (23A: Alternative title for "The Dirty Dozen")
  • "THE AFRICAN QUEEN" (33A: Alternative title for "Cleopatra")
  • "DOCTOR STRANGE" (51A: Alternative title for "Frankenstein")
  • "BYE BYE / BIRDIE" (68A: With 70-Across, alternative title for "To Kill a Mockingbird")
  • "WATERSHIP DOWN" (92A: Alternative title for "Titanic")
  • "THE LADY VANISHES" (106A: Alternative title for "Gone Girl")
  • "AMERICAN BEAUTY" (121A: Alternative title for "The Name of the Rose")
Word of the Day: SANRIO (94A: Hello Kitty company) —
Sanrio Co., Ltd. (株式会社サンリオKabushikigaisha Sanrio) is a Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces products focusing on the kawaii (cute) segment of Japanese popular culture. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories that are sold worldwide and at specialty brand retail stores in Japan. Sanrio's best-known character is Hello Kitty, a little anthropomorphic cat girl, one of the most successful marketing brands in the world. (wikipedia)
• • •

The funniest thing about [Hello Kitty company] is remembering how Will once told a veteran constructor that HELLO KITTY was not well enough known to be in the NYTXW ... (!) ... and now it's so obviously well known that we're apparently supposed to know the parent company!? Wow. Tables, turned. I will say that the SANRIO / LAILA crossing was one of the only weak spots in this puzzle, in that lots and lots of people won't know SANRIO, and it's totally plausible that even if you know LAILA Ali you will misspell her name LAYLA. So ... SANRYO? Did anyone make that error? You can say "well SANRYO just looks wrong" but I would then direct your attention to the company name SANYO, which is just one letter shy of SANRYO. I just think that is a potential Natick for people (non-universally-known proper nouns crossing at a hard-to-guess vowel). Might mess some people up, which would be a shame, because I found this puzzle clever and delightful. How often do I say that about Sunday puzzles? (It's a rhetorical question! We all know the answer is "almost never"). The theme ... works. And it's clever. And genuinely funny. (Outright LOL at "BYE BYE / BIRDIE"). I will say that (to me) "DOCTOR STRANGE" is a comics character and "WATERSHIP DOWN" is a novel, but there's no disputing the fact that both were movies, so fair enough. There were very few ugly moments. Just a clean, entertaining breeze. 

If you didn't know SANRIO, well, I had a little taste of that bafflement at UNEEDA (!?!?!??!!), which had me feeling worried that I had an error. I mean, how would I know. UNEEDA cracker from this century (or at least last century) if you want me to have a shot at getting it. Just finished watching "The Office" in its entirety, so I've been staring at EDHELMS a lot of late. TWYLA SHARON MATSUI SMEE LOUIS was quite the proper name mash-up there in the lower center, but MATSUI's the only one I can see giving people real grief. ISSICK made me wince, the way ISDUMB or ISANYADJECTIVE might, and every letter of FINNEY was a mystery to me (34D: Charles ___, religious leader known as "The Father of Modern Revivalism"), but whatever issues I had were quickly overcome, and the bulk of the puzzle was very easy to move through. I could do without MOR and DIC (...!), but otherwise I can't fault the fill very much at all. Lots of great longer fill in the (non-theme) Downs too, which is always nice. 

Congrats to Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer, the organizers of the Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament, which took place online yesterday with something north of 1800 (!!) contestants. I didn't participate but I did get to catch the finals of both the Local (novice) and Express (advanced) divisions, which were both oddly *thrilling*. Congratulations especially to David Plotkin, who won the whole shebang.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I used to watch a show called "Alphas." It was partially set in Binghamton. I watched it with my daughter, roughly a decade ago. I liked the show enough to buy a t-shirt. It looks like this:

Fast forward nine years, my daughter is now in college, and all my wife and I have to fill the void is an ornery but adorable kitten named Alfie. 

On Friday, I got a package in the mail from my daughter. It contained this:

The one discolored toe bean in the exponent really put it over the top for me. That is a true-to-life detail. I'm either never going to wear this shirt (too precious) or I'm going to put it on and never take it off. Can't decide. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

It could be that I'm still feeling the effects of yesterday's Lollapuzzoola body-slam tournament, but I could swear some of these clues and/or answers were eerily similar - maybe even identical in places.
For example, UNPLAIT isn't the kind of word I encounter every...well, never - and here it is twice in one weekend.

I hope @Barbara S. (or anyone else who participated) could back me up on this or disabuse me of my addlepated delusion.

That would be nice, but it's not entirely necessary. Call me goofy, but I really liked this puzzle!

First: movies!
Second: movie alternatives! (which means more movies!)
Third: Easy-ish, but with some bite! Not a total pushover, but not soul-crushing like certain others have been lately (I'm looking at youz, Joe DiPietro and Joon Pahk).

Nothing to complain about what??

Oh, right...


Marcus Chance 12:12 AM  

I'm glad you had fun with this one Rex, you deserve more of those. I plunked THEAtRIcALQUEEN for 33A and then was surprised to learn that there was some strange marilara sauce I'd never herd of. THEAFRICANQUEEN clearly makes more sense.

Also tried VeRona for 105D even though I was sure it wasn't NW of Milan. GESTATE fixed that for me.

Non-italian error was autocompleting a financial appreciation as SANDp (S&P Standard and Poor's) instead of SANDL (S&L Savings and Loan)

TIL - UNEEDA was a thing.

Hello from Albania, where I'll be getting some 130A later on at Korca Brewery.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

My fastest Sunday. Maybe it helps to be doing it in the evening while drinking a first beer rather than first thing in the morning with my first coffee. Nothing that special in the content, but nothing too bad either.

Frantic Sloth 12:20 AM  

@Rex They're actually UNEEDA Biscuits and they were the best thing for my childhood tummy aches! I don't think they exist any more. 😕 More's the pity.

Your daughter is the most adorable thing this side of the Pecos. And Alfie is second. (You're not third, though - sorry 😉)
That tee shirt is totes brill, dude! Love it!

Nice shoutout to Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer. They and "guest quizmasters" made everything even more fun than I had hoped. It was tough at times, but what a fantastic job they all (hosts, constructors, quizzers, tech people) did!

Harryp 12:21 AM  

I had no real trouble with this until when finishing up, I didn't get the happy tone. I had inadvertently misspelled 50D STET, and should have been proofreading, (STETING?) my known answers before trying other crosses in those two areas! Easy but satisfying puzzle with a nice theme. I smiled at AFRICAN QUEEN, and am sure others did also.

Swagomatic 12:25 AM  

Yep, SANRYO here. Took me a while to find that error. Fun puzzle today.

Harryp 12:27 AM  

My bad, it should have read THE AFRICAN QUEEN.

Joaquin 12:33 AM  

@Rex - Your Alfie shirt conundrum reminds me of a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Big Chill". Harold, a successful shoe magnate, presents all his guests a pair of shoes. Nick, the ne'er-do-well of the group responds, "I'm never taking them off."

Cool puzzle. Much better than most Sunday puzzles of late.

jae 12:39 AM  

Easy-medium. Delightful works for me. A fun Sunday.

Paul & Kathy 1:02 AM  

Today I learned that viand is a word (got it from all crosses, didn't believe what I put in, googled the word, and...."archaic" an item of food.) Hmm.
The intersection of "Uneeda" and "Dic" was my last entry in the puzzle.
But yeah, record time today for a Sunday. I smiled at every theme answer, which is always a good thing. Enjoyably clever.

EdFromHackensack 1:18 AM  

Naticked at TEVA/VARESE - guessed wrong.otherwise easy. I read Watership Down this summer , M E H

Sue T. 1:25 AM  

This was a great puzzle! Francis Heaney also hosted a very fun bonus puzzle during Lollapuzzoola. I participated in my first-ever crossword tournament (I live on the West Coast and have never had the opportunity) and it was super fun! I finished in the top half, at least! The fourth puzzle was REALLY tough, though I finally finished it with 1 error.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

Never take it off. Your daughter is brilliant, love the mismatched toe bean.

This puzzle is exactly what I needed after my disastrous Friday and Saturday. Easy and cute. UNEEDA at 119A was an unknown and I pictured someone saying to his parrot “Polly U NEED A cracker?

Fun and easy Sunday stroll.

Joe Dipinto 2:56 AM  

We remember the odd-colored toe but a new picture would have been nice, to remind us.

This was a pretty limp affair as far as I'm concerned. Nothing witty, or even groanworthily bad, about the movie title switchoffs. It's just, "Oh yes, I see. Twelve is a dozen. A mockingbird is...a bird. Girl equals lady, gone equals vanish. American Beauty Rose, okay. I GET IT." Though Frankenstein interchanged with Dr. Strange kind of reeks of desperation.

VARESE would have been better clued in terms of composer Edgard Varèse, a pioneer in electronic music who's likely familiar to more folks than this town near Milan is. But even with that a natick with TEVA would be almost assured. I didn't know that Twyla Tharp choreographed the "Hair" film, so that was a fun fact.

Kevin C. 3:25 AM  

Clever theme indeed. I burst out laughing at Titanic -> WATERSHIPDOWN.

ZenMonkey 5:44 AM  

Count me among the personal best times today, and I don’t speed solve on Sundays. But I love movie themes, and DOCTOR STRANGE gave me a good laugh. Quick fun is very preferable to some of the duds lately.

Lewis 6:14 AM  

A sweet and breezy chaser to yesterday's hard-won beauty, with a fun and original theme -- what a great theme idea! The cluing was involving but nothing you had to tangle with. A perfect pick-me-up that landed on a day that felt just right for it.

There was a mini-theme that even had a revealer, the neighbors DEPENDON and ASKME, from which you can extract END ON A. Theme answers: OVA / QUOTA / MARINARA / EVA/ TWYLA / LAILA / OPERA / MATA / ALDA / TEVA / UNEEDA.

Heaney, today you were a genie. Thank you for this!

RJ 6:15 AM  

I thought this puzzle was going to be my fastest Sunday ever but then I hit the brakes when I reached the bottom third - it was hunt and peck for short downs as I could not come up with the movie names. I spent enough time hunting for typos that it became a typical Sunday time.

@Frantic Sloth - I thought the same about the puzzles yesterday - Twyla, Laila(?) and I think there were others. I volunteered at the last three Lollapuzzoolas so this was the first time I've competed - my husband and I did the pairs division and felt like the kids who get all A's except in an F- in art (that was Joon's puzzle, in case you couldn't guess).

Hungry Mother 6:34 AM  

Super quick today. It was fun figuring out the themers and there were lots of easy answers. A couple of names were challenging.

TTrimble 6:49 AM  

Quite liked the theme: very clever and whimsical. (51A felt strangely incomplete: I wanted it to be DOCTOR STRANGElove, but I see Rex has that covered in his notes.) The first themed answer to fall was WATERSHIP DOWN, and from there on it was pretty smooth sailing, or at least the WATERS weren't too choppy.

The fill looks pretty clean -- no ARRANT nonsense. I did hiccup (hiccough?) a bit on 105D where first I had "Venice" (yeah, I know) followed by "Verona" (so it's clear by now my Italian geography sucks) until, finally, VARESE. Another spot was 5D where I had "docent" before SAVANT -- somehow I usually think of a savant as someone who is just preternaturally gifted, often not by dint of the hard work that becoming a scholar requires. The O in "docent" fitted the notion that braid removal would be " Out", before I learned a new word, UNPLAIT (which I find kind of cute).

The puzzle was by no means trivial -- it had a lot of variety and interest -- but it came as soothing relief after the bruising of yesterday. Thank you, Francis Heaney!

Conrad 6:52 AM  

2nd Salesman: "Why, it's the Uneeda Biscuit made the trouble, Uneeda, Uneeda! Put the crackers in a package, in a package. The Uneeda Biscuit in an air-tight sanitary package made the cracker barrel obsolete, obsolete."
Charlie: "Obsolete. Obsolete. Obsolete."
(Meredith Wilson, "Rock Island," The Music Man)

Colin 7:05 AM  

Coming off the Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament yesterday, I was primed for today's puzzle. And interestingly, a number of clues today showed up yesterday, including UNPLAIT, SMEE, and TWYLA. Not to mention, I actually saw Francis Heaney doing one of the Bonus Games on Twitch yesterday! I loved today's theme: Simple, fun, and sometimes downright hilarious - I too loved "BYEBYEBIRDIE"!

Today, I got stuck for a couple of minutes in the SE corner, thinking of Terry Bradshaw as a starter instead of STEELER.

Kudos to Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer (and all the rest of the organizers and staff) for Lollapuzzoola yesterday. Loved to see and hear the constructors, too. To those who recommended Lollapuzzoola to me here (and I saw Frantic Sloth there in the standings!), thank you!

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

Rain ....corona....lost beloved classes board decisions (difficult)..... new grandchild, far.... far away
Puzzle was a bright spot....

Frantic Sloth 7:21 AM  

If Frankenstein = Dr. Strange, then does Bride of Frankenstein = Dr. Strangelove?

ChuckD 7:30 AM  

I liked it - tight theme and decent fill. Bottom third got a little sloggy but it all fell together nicely. Liked WATERSHIP DOWN the most but the others were fine. Learned FINNEY, ARRANT and VIAND. Did seem like a lot of proper nouns but with the large grid probably not above @Z’s threshold. Have watched a lot of the Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart shows during the stay home months so MTM is like and old friend - sad they are currently owned by Disney.

Nice Sunday puzzle for a change - hopefully the Isles get a win at noon.

sf27shirley 7:30 AM  

Rex, some 30 years ago I gave a friend for her birthday a set of dish towels embroidered by my grandmother. My grandma died 15 years ago and I still miss her. Last month, my friend sent me one of the towels, in perfect condition, never used. It is now behind glass in a picture frame.
You could wear the shirt for a few special occasions, wash in cold water and hang dry, then save it. What a precious gift.

Z 7:49 AM  

Kind of funny (funny strange and annoying not funny ha ha) how a pop culture themed puzzle has double naticks but not anywhere near the theme. A shoe company, an Italian city of minimal note in the US, A Japanese animation company. and a first name with at least 3 plausible spellings. Even in an otherwise pretty pleasing endeavor the Sunday Slog is going to throw up some cruddy cud to chew on.

Despite that, a pretty fun solve. All the movies seem fairly recognizable even if only two of them are from this century, but you don’t actually need to know the movies to suss out the answers. Well, except AMERICAN BEAUTY. Even after I got that one I didn’t quite get it until some deep recess of my brain remembered that AMERICAN BEAUTY is a type of ROSE. I still googled to verify.

Anyone else notice SANDL and TEVA in the same puzzle? I wear Keen, mostly because the regional rep plays Ultimate with me. It seems everyone noticed the porny UNEEDA DIC crossing.

@Frantic Sloth and @JC66 and everyone else, sounds like it was lots of fun. Remember, no spoilers here as some are doing the puzzles on their own.

@Robin late yesterday- Point taken. Hence my “I suppose...” intro.

GILL I. 7:51 AM  

Today, I got to turn the oof meter off - I'm now wearing a "yay me, I love this" hat. If I ever meet you in person, Francis Heaney, I'd like to shake your hand (or maybe kiss you on the cheek) and tell you how much I love your puzzles. This was loads of fun and very clever.
So I learned a few things I didn't know. The first was that dear sweet APU has a Ph.D. Why the hell is he stuck at Kwiki Mart? Did Hank Azaria wake up one morning and realize that he was voicing a genius? Is that the reason he dropped out? Inquiring minds and all that.
I also learned all about UNEEDA. Best part of that one was reading @chefwen's U NEED A cracker? Only a DIC would take a COLD BATH but I understand if you want one.
I love movies and I've seen all of these. How clever to rearrange them. My favorite clue/answer is the Titanic/WATER SHIP DOWN. Well...I also liked THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Hell...I liked them all.
Love your T,@Rex. I'd wear it every day. When it gets a little frayed, have it cloned.
Congrats to you smarty pants tourney participants. Sounds like it was fun. I've only been to one. ACME told me about it and so I ventured out to the East Bay. I think it was in Oakland. Anyway, I got to meet some interesting people and I also did miserably. Speed solving and I would never enjoy a meal together. I'd order Duck CONFIT and you'd order an IHOP waffle.

Michael Hanko 7:52 AM  

Please be mindful of those of us planning to do the home version of Lollapuzzoola and do not post spoilers without alerts.

Lewis 8:06 AM  

@franti sloth 7:21 -- Hah!

Carola 8:25 AM  

I seem to have woken up on the wrong side of the grid, as the theme registered low on the Deliight Meter for me, I think because of the lack of surprise...with the exception of that doomed BIRDIE (nice cross with SNARE).

@Rex you lucky dad!

Rug Crazy 8:38 AM  

Had to look up VIAND after I was done.

Colin 8:39 AM  

@Gill I., 7:51 - "...smarty pants tourney participants" - Not so much! My first tournament, and I placed in the bottom 10% or so. DNF the last two puzzles. But if you want to talk about some smarty pants folks... Erik Agard finished the first puzzle (15x15 grid) in 1:51. 1 minute, 51 seconds!

@Michael Hanko, 7:52: Apologies. Forgot the home version was going on today.

pmdm 8:39 AM  

Both Chen and Sharp like this puzzle a lot. That doesn't often happen in my memory. I liked that theme answers a lot, but not so much the fill in the south end of the puzzle. No matter.

I wonder how many solvers actually heard any of the compositions of Varese. They all fit on about 2 CDs. Zappa certainly listened to them. I believe he wrote the first major composition for percussion only. Yet he seems well known to crossword solvers. His last name is a city in Italy? Did not know that.

As of today I will forever remember that the name of the boxer and the name of the Cream song are spelled differently. But I would bet I will always confuse them.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Wow, Rex liked a puzzle? I think the universe is collapsing on itself! I enjoyed this one too. And since my grandmother was Victorian (born in 1901), she was big on Uneeda biscuit. I remember her having them in her apartment. I think they only discontinued them about 10 years ago. Sanrio I knew because Hello Kitty was big in my childhood.

Petsounds 9:04 AM  

After yesterday's horror, this puzzle was a pure joy. A bit on the easy side (tied my best Sunday time), but the wonderfulness of the theme more than made up for it. Unlike yesterday's "I'll-make-it-clever-by-being-totally-obscure" mess, this puzzle was truly clever--I loved the alternative titles, especially WATERSHIPDOWN for "Titanic." Thank you, Francis Heaney!

Rex, your daughter is not only thoughtful, but also witty. Wear the tee shirt!

Sixthstone 9:15 AM  

Hit my best ever Sunday time on this one. Pretty clean and workable with some amusing themers (though I didn't enjoy it as much as Rex). Still a nice way to start a Sunday.

SouthsideJohnny 9:25 AM  

I’ve been doing the NYT puzzle pretty religiously for about five years now and have yet to close out a Sunday without any assistance whatsoever. I had a good chance today - but, alas, I was done in by the brutal Natick (TEVA, VARESE) and the fact that I never heard of the word VIAND and have no clue what the BMI is. Hopefully some day the trivia will be in my wheelhouse and I’ll bring home that first, elusive 100 percenter.

Btw, no way a SAVANT is a scholar - no way, no how. You can lawyer it as much as you want, but it is flat out wrong. It’s a shame that things like that are continually considered acceptable.

Michael Hanko 9:25 AM  

No worries. I’m looking forward to solving the puzzles!

rjkennedy98 9:32 AM  

Maybe I'm feeling a bit brain dead, but I thought this played harder than the last week or two of Sundays. The SANRIO/UNEEDA/CONFIT crossing killed me. Eventually I got RELIEF but I was staring at that section for a while. I also had difficulty getting into the MATSUI/TWYLA/SHARON/LOUIS section. Despite knowing 3 of those names - I only was able to put down MATSUI based on the clues and needed a lot of crosses.

I liked the theme but did not feel it was anything special. Being a millennial I felt lucky to be very familiar with The African Queen and Twelve Angry Men (both of which are personal favorites). I'd never heard of The Lady Vanishes, but was able to guess that based of Gone Girl.

Overall, a fun Sunday, and glad Rex liked it.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I wish this puzzle hadn't been such a cream-puff to solve, because finding these pairings was truly inspired. They all are completely accurate alternatives -- all except one, that is.

If I'd been creating this grid -- well, okay, I don't create grids, but I would have tried to persuade my grid-making collaborator -- to not put TWELVE ANGRY MEN first, where it would be most noticeable. I would have asked him to try to bury it -- maybe where AMERICAN BEAUTY is located.

That's because you can be "dirty" without being ANGRY and you can be ANGRY without being "dirty". So that's the one weakness in the pairings. Other than that, the theme is a real coup.

I wish the surrounding fill had been tougher. It's not all slam-dunk cluing, so I don't know why this played so easy for me. But it did.

TTrimble 9:35 AM  

Actually, Derek and the Dominoes, right? But it's easy to mix up Cream with them.

pmdm 9:40 AM  

TTrimble: You are right. I did research before posting but forgot to change what I wrote. I blame Clapton. And the fact that I never owned the recording.

Unknown 9:41 AM  

Can people stop writing spoilers for the Lollapuzzoola tournament for those of us that could not make the live tournament yesterday and are waiting for our at home delivery of the puzzles? Yes you could just ask that we not stand by the water cooler today but I thought I would ask...

Blue Stater 9:41 AM  

*Terrible* Natick at TEVA/VARESE (obscure Iraeli shoe and Italian city of 90,000); otherwise easy.

Pamela 9:42 AM  

Today felt like a proper Sunday. I liked the theme. I had the first one pretty quickly, but stalled on Cleo, who has fascinated me for years- what a woman she was! I knew she was African/Egyptian, but even with QUEEN mostly filled in I couldn’t figure out why there were too many empty squares for the answer I thought it should be. Not until I corrected SIGNup (Oops-misread clue!), which changed U to E, did it become obvious that THE made it all work.

All the themers were great- as a gardener I knew the rose, WATERSHIPDOWN was brilliant, Re-read Frankenstein and saw the Off Bway play last fall, and just recently watched Gone Girl, loved those too.

Trying to guess alternate movies kept me entertained, even while I was suffering through a few missteps and fuming over a couple of Naticks. The ‘L’ crossing of SANDL and LAILA was the worst. Rex mentioned the other one in Ms Ali’s name at ‘I’ but I never noticed it. The other Natick for me was TEVA/VARÈSE. I’ve been to that part of Italy, but not exactly there, and never heard of it. And I had an error at 52D, where I’d put eeLY before anything else, and didn’t notice until after the grid was full and I didn’t get the happy music. I had to read through everything 2 or 3 times before I caught my mistake and corrected it. So is that a DNF? A cheat? The app says I have a streak. I dunno...

longsufferingmetsfan 9:47 AM  

I too cry foul at the TEVA/VARESE crossing. Some sandal brand meeting the 69th most populous city in Italy is an absolute NATICK

burtonkd 9:50 AM  

@frantic 7:21 for the win!
Thank you joe for reminding me about Edgar Varese. His musical life spanned from Claude Debussy to Frank Zappa! Fascinating Wikipedia entry. Listed as classical along with electronica/dance, lol.
Also collaborated with Theremin - a centerpiece of my living room that always gets cranked Up for parties.

57stratocaster 9:50 AM  

Took me five minutes to find and fix my mistake at the varese/savoir crossing. I had an s there. That French and Italian intersection ruined a personal best.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I don’t understand how “American Beauty” can be an alternate title for “The Name of the Rose” when the latter is set in medieval Europe?

B Right There 10:06 AM  

Puzzle Hubby and I enjoyed it. Here's where pair solving comes in handy: he owns a pair of TEVA. And my having studied in France at university helped me get Confit, Viand (in french, viande means meat, so I could infer that off the v), and even that lone Art History class I took there helped with Rene Magritte. Though, to be honest, if I see a French painter/author/philosopher/etc., four letters, I always try RENE first. I only winced at To Kill a Mockingbird / Bye Bye Birdie pair because it made the titles so literal and brought to mind the flock of pigeons that I had that got decimated when a feral cat got in to the coop one night. So, didn't pass my breakfast test, but that's just me. Also, at 15D (Parts of zygotes), did not think OVA were 'parts' of zygotes. I thought zygotes ARE fertilized ova, so held off a sec on plopping that answer in until an across confirmed.

Wish Hubby hadn't had to work yesterday as I also was a first-time participant at Lollapuzzoola... and had a blast! Finished at the top of the bottom 5th, and felt durn tootin' proud of myself. Am still kicking myself for a mistake that put the breaks on one puzzle for me. Never enjoyed feeling so stressed as the puzzles progressed and still so happy at the same time. Made myself notes about strategy for next year. Will get dates so that Hubby can be off work and we can do Pairs division. The grids had a bit of everything: sparkle, clean/enjoyable fill, toughness, cleverness, a range of clues; and luckily not a single Rap artist (all of which are simply Naticks to me and now mostly known to me through xwords), if I recall correctly! Phew. The technology was brilliant and the hosts and guest hosts were superb! Great job to all involved!

Nancy 10:07 AM  

@GILL (7:51) -- Once again we have something in common -- in this case, a real aversion to speed solving. Look for me at your table, also ordering the duck CONFIT. But re your COLD BATH comment, what on earth is a DIC?

@Cute, apt themer, @Frantic Sloth (7:21). I laughed. And thanks, too, for posting it sans emojis. That way, I'm always sure to read it.

OffTheGrid 10:08 AM  

My only stumble was LAyLA/SANRyO. I felt better after I saw that Rex identified that as the most probable natick.

My first thought for Titanic was Ship of Fools.

RooMonster 10:09 AM  

Hey All !
Different wheelhouses for different people. I haven't heard of WATERSHIP DOWN. All the rest I've heard of (clues and answers). Weird.

Liked this Alt-Movie theme puz. Agree on the easy side, which for me is great after YesterPuz. Give the ole brain a break! Was going along swimmingly and at a nice pace, when the SW/center happened. UNEEDA (who?), CONFIT (oof, heard of, but not in a looong time), KITSCH (kitschy!) all toughies. TRUCK semi-(har!) sneakily clued. DIC considered ENG for a bit. But what stopped me cold was SYM/BMI/VIAND. Got it down to two empty squares, and nothing. Could see tumbleweeds rolling through the ole brain. Never in ever heard of VIAND. Heard of BMI, but not as an ASCAP alt. Body Mass Index, sure. So broke down, and Googled ASCAP alt. Filled in the MI, and Happy Music.

Know TWYLA as soon as I see Tharp. Thanks puzs!

Writeovers I can remember, IdoTOO-IAMTOO, MArIneS-MAOISTS (that got a chuckle), COolswim-COLDswim-COLDBATH, laisie(sp?)-SAVOIR.

Lifelong STEELERs fan, so the Bradshaw clue a gimmie!


Three F's

GHarris 10:11 AM  

Like several others that V crossing between Teva and Varese prevented me from declaring total victory but did not detract from my overall enjoyment of this lovely puzzle.

Z 10:11 AM  

@Southside Johnny - I tend to dictionary up rather than lawyer up, and at least two of them list the clue definition first.

@Frantic Sloth 7:21 - With Peter Sellers playing both the good Doctor and the bride.

Frank Zappa tribute to Edgar VARÈSE

Merriam Webster 10:13 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny 9:25 - Did you bother to look up the definition of savant? Maybe it doesn't mean what you think it means.

JD 10:13 AM  

A perfect Sunday.

Unknown 10:16 AM  

Did anyone notice that most of the themes didn't require you know the plot of the clue? Except Frankenstein. Nice touch.

Loved the theme. Really struggled to find my error in Sanrio. Loved clues for alums and ankle socks.

Z 10:20 AM  

@Anon9:59 - The two movies are not in any way related. AMERICAN BEAUTY is THE NAME OF THE specific ROSE. Just like CLEOPATRA could be called THE AFRICAN QUEEN even though one movie is set in WWI and the other during the age of Rome. I hope that helps.

egsforbreakfast 10:31 AM  

I’m genuinely curious about whether BIRD being in both the clue and answer for 68A/70A is considered kosher given the workings of the theme.

I thought the 🧩was kinda dull since I just wrote as fast as I could without ever needing much time to think.

What? 10:37 AM  

Easy and fun. These don’t often go together.

Joaquin 10:38 AM  

Open letter to @Rex:

Despite my sometimes blasting of you, I do appreciate your blog and the opportunity to talk crosswords. Thank you for providing this forum.

My reason for this note is off topic but much more important. You are a lucky (and, I assume, proud) dad. Your daughter must be a lovely, caring, and creative young woman. And you can take some credit for that.

Wear the shirt! Years ago, my daughter gave me a t-shirt with a photo of my Boxer Xena under the word “Dogfather”. The shirt has sparked an untold number of conversations with strangers and given me an opportunity to brag about both my daughter and my dog. You will find wearing the Alfie shirt will open a whole new world of interacting with folks in a truly positive manner.

So … wear the shirt! And wear it with pride.

D’Qwellner 10:50 AM  

Sadly agree.

Nicki 10:56 AM  

Blah blah blah crossword. More adorable Alfie pix please! (Also, yay daughter!)

Joe Dipinto 11:13 AM  

Come to think of it, they could have clued 105d with Varèse Sarabande, a label that specializes in film soundtracks both new and classic. It still wouldn't help the natick, but at least there'd be a tie-in to the theme.

Papageno 11:16 AM  

UNEEDA biscuits were so popular in the coalfields of Appalachia in the early 20th century there is actually a town named after them - UNEEDA, WV.,_West_Virginia

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

agree with rex. easy puzzle with a clever idea.

was hoping for "chicoms" for 1A. have not seen that word for ages.

and bye bye birdie brings back some memories of high school. "pinned," ed Sullivan, etc. wasn't there a party-line scene too?


Birchbark 11:27 AM  

UNEEDA -- evidence that the kids were texting as early as 1899.

I was exploring the far corners of the freezer a couple of days ago and found a small bag of UNTHAWED VIANDs. I wasn't sure beyond that, other than something I'd either braised or smoked at some point, too much left over to finish at the time, and froze for a later stew or something. As it thawed, so too my memory -- the last of a goat my friends and I roasted over an open pit a couple years ago up at a cabin in Wisconsin. Yesterday for lunch, I sauted carrots, onion, garlic, added a splash of rosé, a chopped tomato, crushed red pepper, cayenne, salt, black pepper, generic curry powder (a/k/a garam masala), coriander, cumin, turmeric, stirred in the VIANDs, added some coconut milk, chopped mint and basil, and simmered. It was very good with basmati rice.

And proof that well-preserved old goats deliver, well past their "best by" dates.

OffTheGrid 11:29 AM  

@egsforbreakfast. I didn't think about the Bird thing until I read you post. Maybe there's enough separation since in the the clue, bird is part of a compound word and in the answer, bird has a suffix. Any input from the experts?

burtonkd 11:31 AM  

I know the movies have only to do with the titles, but the image of the rose petals falling in American Beauty is iconic and unforgettable, as well as a bit disturbing.

relicofthe60s 11:32 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, but it seems me that TEVA crossing VARESE (neither of which I had ever heard of) was a much worse Natick than SANRIO/LAILA. SANRIO might be unfamiliar, but LAILA Ali is pretty well known and shows up all the time in puzzles.

jb129 11:46 AM  

Thank you Francis for a really fun, enjoyable Sunday puzzle!

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

that LIV tyler clue is something else. i had to do the math and of course she will be 54 in 2031

Lewis 11:58 AM  

@southside johnny -- Were you perhaps thinking of idiot-savant?

Ryan Crinnigan 12:10 PM  

Is this really Rex? This puzzle sucked.

Unknown 12:24 PM  

Viand? Really?

jberg 12:53 PM  

I loved this puzzle! I got the theme with BYE-BYE BIRDIE, and had such fun guessing the other theme answers. Unlike @Joe Dipinto, what I found fun was that titles with the same literal meaning referred to such very different movies; trickery, puns, etc. in the paired titles would have lessened the effect, for me. De gustibus, I guess.

I'll admit I came here thinking "Where's the love?" about 51A, but then I read Rex and learned that about that cartoon-based movie series. Crosswords are so educational!

I loved UNPLAIT and UNTHAWED-- on the one hand, they sound like a real stretch at first, but then you think about it and realize that you might actually say it. Well, I might say UNTHAWn, but still.

I'm surprised to hear that TEVAs are not universally known. I bought my first pair about 30 years ago in an REI store. They were about three times the cost of their competitors (other sandals that you can wear in the water), and the young woman waiting on me advised me to not try them on unless I was willing to spend that much -- because once I felt how comfortable they were, I would want to buy them. I still have that pair, which has buckle-up straps, plus another one with a single strap and velcro. They and my Birkenstocks are pretty much all you'll find on my feet during summer (unless I'm using a power mower or weed-whacker, in which case I want my toes protected by leather).

I'm feeling sorry I missed Lollapuzzola, it sounds great. Couldn't do it, though; some friends were celebrating their 50th anniversary with an outdoor, socially-distanced clambake, and the timing didn't work. Maybe next year! (Although I'm certainly not wishing for it to be online again!)

I have one, maybe two Varese records -- but they're on vinyl, and I can't play them. My wife gave me a turntable, which I'm slowly putting together -- but maybe I'll try Spotify.

JD 12:54 PM  

@burtonkd, Don't forget the naked under-aged girl lying in a bed of them with a few petals in discrete places.

BTW, How do you unthaw something? Refreeze it?

TTrimble 1:11 PM  

I'm surprised to see so many people saying they haven't seen VIAND before. It's not *that* uncommon!

@BRightThere already explained it comes from the French. Anyone traveling to Montreal should try sometime the local specialty viande fumee (smoked meat), which is frickin' tasty. It's akin to pastrami. I forget the name of the joint I used to go to get me some, with the 50's decor. Googling it now, it might have been Ben's, which apparently closed in 2006.

Seth 1:14 PM  

Liked the puzzle, but so many Naticks and words I didn't know. ARRANT?? BMI crossing VIAND?? FINNEY crossing NUYS? And what the heck is with that clue on ALUMS, especially crossing VARESE, another entry that's totally uninferrable?

Colin 1:18 PM  

@TTrimble, 1:11: Schwartz's Deli in Montreal comes to mind, when it comes to famous viande fumée...

Whatsername 1:23 PM  

@Rex: Didn’t do the puzzle today but just stopped in to say the T-shirt is absolutely perfect! What a wonderful daughter! I say wear it often but wash it carefully, and it will last for years. BTW, it’s about time for more Alfie pics. Hint hint.

@Joaquin: The Big Chill, I love that movie. And the music, so fine!

SusanRST 1:45 PM  

Loved this puzzle and theme. Just the thing to put aside a very challenging week and begin anew on a high note.

A rookie mistake kept me from gold: verb tense! Ack! But loved WATERSHIPDOWN, and other movie titles.

SANRIO I knew from many years in Japan, seeing all the other “cute” products they put out. Stuff we would never use, let alone bring into the house, like telephone covers for the dial/push button kind, hard-wired, often pink. Or an abacus for your first grader - the “cutest“ had a calculator attached. KITSCH-y.

I knew VARESE first as a composer, first half 20th c, who thought in large pieces of sound, acoustic and electronic. Would rather be in the Italian citta tho’.....leave our national MORASS behind for alpine DRINKS in INNS.

old timer 1:57 PM  

Remember newsstands? That is, stores that specialized in newspapers from all over, magazines, tobacco (cigars and pipe tobacco a specialty), and every cracker and candy bar known to man. We had one in Santa Rosa. A great one in Oakland. A beloved hangout in Palo Alto. I am glad I used to be a regular at such places, because it gave me UNEEDA, crackers I seldom ever bought, but still remembered.

The puzzle was straightforward except for the UNEEDA section. I wanted "in any case" which didn't fit, and never thought of IN ANY EVENT. UNEEDA helped!

I also so much wanted that soothing soak to be "coed BATHS" which may not have been *immediately* soothing, but usually ended with a deep feeling of satisfaction. COLD BATHS just don't cut it for me. Or COLD showers, either.

CONFIT I should have got right away, but only found after UNEEDA. In France, you can be pretty sure of a good experience if you order CONFIT, and wash it down with a nice Rose'; in America, it tends to be less reliably tasty. Plus, if a place sells CONFIT they likely also have duck breast, and that is likely to be first rate. The best ducks on the West Coast are Sonoma-raised fowl.

Barbara S. 2:00 PM  

Lollapuzzoola Report * NO SPOILERS*: Kudos to the people who made it happen and congrats to the participants who did well. In fact, congrats to us all. I ended up in the basement of the standings – hey @Colin (8:39), I thought I saw a friendly face down there. But, I’m cool with my performance. I’ve always known I’m not a speed solver and been glad of it – it’s the whole savoring-a-puzzle-over-coffee vibe that I like. I was well back in the standings after the two puzzles I aced – no mistakes and well under the time limit. Then I was unaccountably beaten up by Puzzle #3 (wheelhouse problem?) and slaughtered by Puzzle #4 (the hardest of the day). But I got supremely satisfying redemption with Puzzle #5. Anyway it was fun. My husband made an excellent pit crew, bringing me encouragement and sustenance throughout the afternoon. Mind you, when I remarked that that the tournament hosts and presenters were all incredible geeks – delightful geeks, to be sure, but geeks nonetheless – he walked away muttering something about pots and kettles. No idea what he meant. Francis Heaney and his partner (didn’t catch her name) were particularly hilarious!

EdTech@mjbha 2:00 PM  

OPI / PAC killed my time. How is a PAC a DC honor? Does it mean something besides political action committee?

Joe Dipinto 2:14 PM  

@EdTech – DC donor.

JC66 2:17 PM  


I mis-read it as Honor at first, too. It's Donor.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

This puzzle was too easy, until it wssn´t -
Iḿ looking at you, southwest corner.

Not really sure why curmudgeonly OFL was so
warm to this puzzle. The themed answers were
cute, but generally very easy. And the rest of
the fill very forgettable.

Felt like a C/C+ puzzle, but received an honorś

Maybe it was the cute t-shirt?


MarthaCatherine 2:32 PM  

Need some help with the t-shirt thing. I get that the second shirt plays off the first, but I don't get the first shirt at all. Can someone enlighten me?

(I have a feeling I'mma say "D'oh!!")

Nancy 2:43 PM  

@Birchbark (11:27) -- First of all, I love goat, as I love all of the gamier meats. Second -- a good stew is the hardest thing to find, either in restaurants or at takeout counters and it's one of my favorite things in the world. But so much work goes into it that just about no one bothers anymore. What you mostly find is grilled chicken, salmon and pasta. Second, your recipe sounded mouth-watering -- too good, in fact, for the lunch you were prepared and worth at least an elaborate dinner. All those ingredients! All that preparation! All that simmering! Wow. I'm left with only one question:

Will you marry me, @Birchbark?

Ellen S 2:51 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, thought the themers were fun and it was just hard enough to be interesting. Nice mix of old and new, like UNEEDA Biscuits and Phillipa SOO (lucky for me I’ve watched Hamilton twice and a bunch of behind the scenes stuff so I know a few cast member names). The only thing that caught me up was SPEED DIAL, clued as if it’s still a thing. I took a look at Wikipedia and there is an article that describes how you can speed dial on a “standard rotary phone” as well as a “modern 12 key touch tone phone.” I suspect that entry predates the World Wide Web. I remember programming some people’s numbers into the SPEED DIAL on some phone I had, which conveniently allowed me to write their names and codes on the phone base, because who can remember which friend or relative has been assigned which code? I never used it, too much trouble, and what a relief to have contact lists with Favorites.

gina 2:54 PM  

I got LIV TYLER of course, but I don't understand why her being 54 in 2031 is "apt"..can somebody explain? Thanks!

Lindsay 2:57 PM  

'AMERICAN BEAUTY' is the name of a hybrid tea rose. Maybe that's it.

Z 3:07 PM  

@gina - LIV is the Roman numeral for 54.

DigitalDan 3:07 PM  

Alphas came and went much too quickly. I enjoyed that one no end. Bring it back in the time slot after Firefly.

Birchbark 3:12 PM  

@Nancy (2:43) -- Now that is a compliment -- you are most welcome to the goat recipe. But as for the rest, I would have to check with my good wife, fountain of such delight and tranquility, lo these many years. But the goat, absolutely.

Frantic Sloth 3:23 PM  

DC & Honor are kinda oxymoronic. Or is that just moronic?

GILL I. 3:31 PM  

@Nancy 10:07: My husband doesn't like to swear (like most Scousers do) so the closest he comes to it is calling people who sound a bit KITSCHy, DIC(k) heads - like someone who'd ever take a COLD BATH. I mean...who does this? If you want to have a soothing summer soak, go to Baja, sit under a palapa and order Margaritas.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Liked it. Figured out a few things I didn't think I would. Seemed a little different - fresher? Theme answers weren't corny. - newbie.
P.S. Wear it, Rex. You have the picture for posterity. Besides, T-shirts practically last forever - especially if you don't wash them too often! Your daughter rocks!

Birchbark 4:12 PM  

@jberg (12:53) -- UNTHAWn is very good and rings true. Like unmown. Which the yard will be soon enough, though today it's "just right."

Frantic Sloth 4:26 PM  

@GILL I 331pm Well, I've done it. During the dog days of summer 2003, in a 1 window apartment (because the others had a/c units) while enjoying a massive power outage. Capped only by having to drive through Brooklyn (with no street/traffic lights - delightful) so I could pick up my stranded-at-the-Brooklyn-bridge then-partner-now-wife who had just finished hoofing it from Midtown Manhattan with "1 or 2" other people. (1 or 2 for the trudge, not the bath)
So, there's that.

Ernonymous 4:36 PM  

@gill I oh your husband is a Scouser? That is my favorite accent ever. I could listen to it all day.

Missy 4:36 PM  

Please help! 74 down? I'm a New Yorker have no idea😬

Chris 4:46 PM  

I guessed correctly at TEVA/VARESE, though I've never heard of either. It would have been better to clue the composer Edgar Varèse instead of the city.

Z 4:47 PM  

@Missy - I think maybe you have a DOOK on your mind. It’s IN ANY EVENT not IN A NY EVENT.

amyyanni 4:54 PM  

@Missy: In Any Event.

Loved it. Sheer delight. And the Alfie shirt story is the icing. All smiles. (There's an old song, "I'm All Smiles" that I'm fond of, Babs recorded it in the 60s)

Dave S 4:55 PM  

Glad to see Rex in a good mood-that fantastic shirt would certainly do it for me. The puzzle was fine for me, but none of the themed answers, with maybe The Lady Vanishes being an exception, really did it for me. Learned I've never really understood what arrant meant, so that's something. Temporarily irked when I thought an answer was "angle socks" (crossing with ranged) and was like, is that a thing!!?? , But ankle socks definitely are. I'm probably just in a doldrum due to the mention of Matsui, a player I liked, but as a Phillies fan I can never forgive him for 2009.

Z 5:09 PM  

@Dave S - ARRANT and eRRANT seem like unfair homonyms to me.

GILL I. 5:12 PM  

@Frantic....Ooooh do I remember living at 98th and Broadway back in the day, without a/c. I rented a little 4 story walk up that smelled and looked like left over cheese. I had a tiny bedroom with a tiny widow that overlooked a tiny Puerto Rican family that played salsa every night. If only it had been Celia Cruz....Alas, no. It sounded more like Bad Bunny. My cool down theory was to take a tepid shower, get out and let the hot fan take some of the sweat off. While I'd shower, I'd have a towel in the freezer, wrap it around my body and get into bed with ear plugs. Dreams of Baja and Margaritas.
@Giovanni. Si, amigo. Born in Liverpool. He moved to London to go to University and find his way. One of his good mates told him to lose his accent or he'd never be hired by the upper echelon. He still has a bit of Scouser in him - especially when he drinks a good pint and starts singing. ;-)

bigsteve46 5:28 PM  

I got to a agree on Varese as a twin City for Natick! Half of my family is from that corner of Italy and I had a hard time coming up with it. Otherwise a nice puzzle: had a few things I didn't know but were not unreasonable to assume that they could or should be known. Also a post-puzzle check revealed that Varese is actually in Lombardia and not Piemonte - and since I am a Piemontese and not a Lombardo, I feel better about not knowing it right off. It doesn't take much to make me happy! (I also - totally coincidentally - happen to be currently listening to my Domenico Modugno greatest hits cassette!)

jae 5:41 PM  

@MarthaCatherine -

Alphas was an American science fiction dramatic television series created by Zak Penn and Michael Karnow. It followed a group of people with superhuman abilities, known as "Alphas", as they work to prevent crimes committed by other Alphas.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

American Beauty is the name of a type of rose. No one is suggesting that the films have anything to do with one another.

Barbara S. 6:47 PM  

I wasn't going to post again, but then I read the comment from @Dave S (4:55). In yesterday's Bee, I was annoyed they wouldn't accept either LOUR or DOLDRUM. I wondered if the DOLDRUM problem had to do with singular vs. plural, but I was sure (without proof) that I'd heard it used in the singular and used it that way myself. And then @Dave S comes along and so charmingly says

I'm probably just in a doldrum

See, Sam Ezersky/Spelling Bee Academy: *real-world* usage. You must begin to include DOLDRUM immediately. Thank you, @Dave S.

I just watched the movie "Doctor Strange" and here it is in the XW puzzle today AND the name of the chief villain, DORMAMMU, was spellable in the SB yesterday. Coincidence?? Hmm.

I'm having a surprising amount of SB trouble today. I've got Genius, but I'm still 6 words away from QB. The majority of the words seem awfully familiar from recent SBs, hence my surprise at getting stuck.

UNEEDA was gimme for me because I have a reproduction UNEEDA Biscuit tin, the design of which must date way back. Whenever my sister sees that tin (and sadly she doesn't get back this way very often), the whole "U NEED A Biscuit!" gimmick always sends her into giggles.

Barbara S. 6:52 PM  

Forgot to include this:

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

@Joaquin: The Big Chill, I love that movie. And the music, so fine!

finally saw "Jackie Brown" from the start last night; after countless times surfing into the last half or so. if you're into movies with music of that age, or a bit earlier, check it out. not to mention it's a fair version of an Elmore Leonard book.

Missy 6:53 PM  

Thank you - a DOOK or dopey!!!

CDilly52 7:14 PM  

Lately, I have arrived at the conclusion that @Frantic and I are not merely contemporaries, but share some very similar background “frame of reference-ish” things. I’m right there with the UNEEDA biscuits being part of the “Doctor Mom’s” bag of tricks for youthful tummy disturbances. In fact, in my house, when either Mom or Gran noticed the greenish tinge to one of the three household sibs, the question was “You need a Vernors?” For those of you who think that any company makes real ginger ale other than Vernor’s, please go find some and compare. It is far more gingery and it makes you sneeze when you first open the bottle or put the glass to your lips. Best thing going for upset GI tracts-to this good day. If the upset was not terrible, the UNEEDA Biscuit tin would come out and supplement the Vernor’s. Works wonders to this good day. Except that the UNEEDA brand is gone and all I have left is the tin. 😢. I’m very attached to that tin. It represents a milestone in my human development of “humor.” I remember so clearly the day that I saw the humor in the misspelling and “got” the marketing ploy. I had just started Kindergarten and was hit with a nasty bug-the Mother’s nightmare of a childhood virus with both ends active simultaneously. Y’all get what I mean here right? Racing to the bathroom and hoping you make it with the trash can, paper grocery sack, or some vessel to catch the 🤮 and that you can get “sartorially arranged” over the 🚽 before both ends explode. Well, that’s just not easy when one is not quite yet 5. I vividly remember this episode.

I had one of if not the only working mom in my class and Gran lived just a couple blocks away and came to take care of us while Mom worked. My sis wasn’t yet in school so Gran was there early (thankfully). When she arrived first thing, Gran came up to check on me and asked me the family pun: “UNEEDA cracker or a Vernor’s?” I was too sleepy to care so she went downstairs to deal with my sister and breakfast.

I had a bad case of the chills the night before and was still buried under a pile of blankets when I knew what was coming. I could hear Gran downstairs with my sister making her breakfast and she didn’t hear me try to call. So there I was my not quite 5 year old self, trying to get out of bed, grab the grocery sack - Mom had folded down the top all around so it would (mercifully) stand up beside my bed-and get down the hall to the one and only bathroom in our small home . . . in time.

Gran couldn’t hear my sad little call from upstairs because my not yet 2 year old sis was at the table shouting “Os!” meaning Cheerios (we were out) so I just did the best I could-which wasn’t very good.

It all (and I mean all) went everywhere. I had made a right mess of the bathroom, my PJs (front and rear) and my face. I was sitting looking at the mess when I heard Gran coming upstairs. The sick 4 year old response to such a predicament seems always to be tears, or it certainly was with me. Of course I though Gran would be furious. Looking at the mess I thought “who wouldn’t be mad at me!”

So Gran, perfect human being that she was, just came on in oblivious to the stench and the mess and grabbed a towel and a washcloth and wiped me down, started a bath, got me cleaned up and was tucking me back in bed when she asked “Do you think you could sip a little Vernor’s “. I responded, “No thank you, Gran, but UNEEDA clean the bathroom.” She had the most glorious laugh. As she folded me in for a big hug, I heard felt her giggle that just bubbled all the way over until it just lilted out like music. She gave me a big kiss and tousled my hair and as she got up to go deal with the chaos in the bathroom she said “and UNEEDA go back to sleep.” I will forever hold on to my UNEEDA biscuit tin. A four stack of Nabisco saltines still fits in, and although they don’t taste anything like the UNEEDA biscuits of old, I never eat a saltine without thinking of how very much I was loved.

Great Sunday puzz. Stay safe and have a good week everyone.

Nancy 7:55 PM  

@GILL and @Giovanni --

I had no idea what a Scouser was, but I was too embarrassed to ask, because your post @GILL, made it seem like anyone with half a brain should have known. And now I see that it's someone from Liverpool.

At the time of the Beatles Invasion, weren't they saying that people from Liverpool were Ludpuddlians? Or Liverpuddlians? Or something like that? I'm pretty sure that the Beatles were never called Scousers.

You may love the accent, @Giovanni, but I need a translator. I absolutely cannot understand any of the Brits who don't speak like either the Queen or the BBC. My inability to decipher what they're saying has completely ruined some fabulous British movies for me. In particular:


Great flicks all. There are more, but I've forgotten. But @Mathgent has alerted me to the Subtitle Option on Netflix and that it can be used for English language films. I used it today, actually, for AN EDUCATION (great British film that I highly recommend). But no one in it was a Scouser, so while I was happy to have it, I didn't really need it.

kitshef 8:59 PM  

Wonderful theme, magnificently executed. Or maybe magnificent them, wonderfully executed, I'm not sure.

Agree LAILA/SANRIO being an issue, but really, if you have this much fun, who cares if you finish with an error?

Unknown 9:47 PM  

I've just been rereading Rex's post. It's really nice having him share a bit of his personal life and his feeling for his family (pets included), to offset the often cantankerous tone and annoyances over puzzles.

The father-daughter relationship is a precious and essentially irreplaceable thing. They grow up so fast, don't they? It seems Rex is justly proud of his daughter, who is undoubtedly wicked smart, but also very thoughtful. The T-shirt says so much. Nice to catch these little glimpses of sunshine.

TTrimble 9:53 PM  

(That "unknown" at 9:47PM was me. Oops.)

JC66 9:53 PM  

@ACME's a co-constuctor of tomorrow's puzzle.

Curious to see if @Rex still holds a grudge.

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

I'm wondering about the clue for ALUMS. Can someone please explain it to me?

JC66 10:36 PM  

@Anon 10:29

Sheepskin (diploma) holders -> Graduates -> ALUMS.

TAB2TAB 10:47 PM  

Surely To Kill a MockingBIRD and byebyeBIRDie is a no-no?

Fitzy 11:40 PM  

It took me most of the afternoon & evening but I did it! Only the third Sunday NYT puzz I've ever completed error free! And I've been working them more or less faithfully since '94. Yes, I know it is rated "Easy" but "Yeah Me!" Francis Heaney up there w/ BEQ as my fave constructors. Enjoyed every minute of this, but that SW corner sure was tough!

Ginger 1:03 AM  

❤️ t-shirt ❤️ First time I ever finished a Sunday puzzle, still got 3 wrong, but I was pretty proud ��

Donald 1:19 AM  

I got Natticked by Teva crossing Verese.

Mr. Alarm 1:40 AM  

Yeah, can someone explain the ALUMS one?

Mr. Alarm 1:50 AM  

Funny, fun and fairly easy Sunday puzzle. Love seeing my first favorite artist, Magritte.

Also seeing Charles FINNEY! (How often has he been in a puzzle?) I have read a lot of his writings, including his autobiography. Interesting man, before he became a Christian itinerant evangelist, he was a lawyer. So his writing always starts with an outline, and he states what something is and what it is not to clarify.

Also, of interest, most of his revivals took place in upstate New York and some in New York City. Utica and Rome New York, in particular. Fascinating stuff. History from the 1830s.

Greg 7:58 AM  

SANDL/SANRIO/LAILA - Why is this allowed?

PatKS 8:15 AM  

Super fast finish and , as a movie junkie, I found it very enjoyable.

Didn't know:
Soo (never saw Hamilton)
Sal (blueberries)
Einstein (Opera)

I speak French so I know Viand but it wasn't clued as French, and I thought round things could be O-rinks at first.

Interesting that Sharon Stone was in the puzzle and trending on twitter. Her sister is dying of COVID and she blames anti-maskers (murderous idiots).

I thought Uneeda was spelled Uneida.

Loved Savior Faire (one of MANY great songs by "Willie" Mink Deville).

Have a great week!

PatKS 8:17 AM  

P.S.- ARRANT????

Okoume 8:42 AM  

In SB, how do you know how many words you need to get from Genius to QB?

thefogman 4:13 PM  

MORASS > less ass

絹スミレ 12:58 AM  

I don’t get the clue for alums

Matt 12:41 PM  

Catching up today two days after the puzzle appeared, I also enjoyed the puzzle but with the exception of Doctor Strange I guessed all the answers cold with few or no cross answers, so it was by far the easiest puzzle of the year.

One note: UNEEDA was a classic Eugene Maleska answer, at least to my recollection. I first personally remember running across the brand name in a Three Stooges episode, but it turned out to be well known to my grandparents...who were born in the 1890's. So, yeah, very old-fashioned but one might prefer to think of it instead as an hommage.

(Is there a corpus/concordance of old NYT puzzles that can be checked against my memory that UNEEDA was once a common answer?)

Matt 12:44 PM  

SAT word, also old school puzzle stock answer. I'll allow it (and I confess it gave me conniptions even after getting it from the downs until I read it aloud and my memory kicked in.)

LenFuego 2:22 AM  

A nice breezy solve. The last issue was that I misspell Ms. Ali's name as LEILA rather than the LAYLA that Rex predicted ... took a minute to figure that out (ECT did not make sense), and voila, I had my fastest Sunday since going electronic in January.

LenFuego 2:29 AM  

@ 絹スミレ : An "ALUM" is a colloquial abbreviation for "alumnus" or "alumni", meaning a person that has graduated from a particular college or high school. Graduates are typically given a diploma that evidences the graduation and is suitable for framing and displaying in a professional office -- once upon a time they were traditionally issued on a high quality sheet of paper made from, well, sheep skin. It is common to refer to such a diploma, whatever type of paper it is issued on, as a "sheepskin". So a "sheepskin holder" is a person who possesses a diploma, i.e., an alumnus, or colloquially, an ALUM.

Joe 12:58 PM  

Missed the Varese cross with Teva. Otherwise a snap.

rondo 10:54 AM  

OFL must be kidding. The SANRIO/LAILA cross is a gimme compared to the TEVA/VARESE Natick. I see others above have noted it also. So a 1 square DNF for me; wasn't even going to guess that one.

My paper did not have the clue to 68/70a, BYEBYE BIRDIE, so I missed the funniest clue/answer, though no prob filling by crosses. Wondered for a nanosecond if it woulda been clued 'Happy Gilmore' or 'CaddySHACK' or such.

LIV, MATA, SHARON, TWYLA, and EVA are all in the running, but the honorable AMY Klobuchar is a yeah baby in my book. Met her twice and she is nice as can be.


Burma Shave 11:50 AM  


"ASKME for DRINKS and BEER", she said,


spacecraft 12:52 PM  

DNF: one too many naticks for me. The one at 80 I could handle; even though both entries were unknown, L seemed the most logical letter there. But 105? NOLUCK. It's a shame, too, because I really liked the theme. Who would have thought that there were that many movie titles--not talking about obscure art films or third-rate KITSCH but honest-to-goodness well-known ones--that could be interchanged? Clever in the extreme, but the fill price was too high. Sort of like, the operation was a success but the patient died. And yeah, I noted the repetition of "BIRD," but for the sake of the theme, let it pass.

Since AMY has been taken, I'll give DOD to her next-door neighbor M[ary]T[yler]M[oore.] This would've been a BIRDIE if I'd gotten 105 right. Oh welp, BYEBYE.

wordcross 2:16 PM  

Great example of marketing.
Buy Uneedas (You NEED us)

rainforest 3:43 PM  

Same DNF as @rondo and @spacey for me. Otherwise, neat theme and decent fill in a mostl y easy puzzle.

Unknown 4:21 PM  

Sheepskin aka diploma

Diana, LIW 4:32 PM  

Fairly easy Sunday - finished it off whilst waiting for Mr. W to get ready for our walk, so it went pretty quickly.

After looking for a diplomas folder/holder, I realized the grad still had it in hand. Me - sheepish...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Unknown 10:46 PM  

Fastest solve in a long time. As soon as I sussed the movie theme, they almost solved themselves. Uneeda Biscuits were my grandmother's favorites. It was a few years until I realized they were basically matzohs.

Anonymous 12:42 AM  

Fairly straightforward except for the aforementioned naticks.

ID's assigned at birth birth/SSNS - very creepy.

Nightowl 7:41 AM  


Nightowl 7:43 AM  

Yes!! We don't all live nearxa sandy beach, even in Mn!!0

Nightowl 7:50 AM  

Alumna, alumnus, alumni, alumnae
--shortened to alums-- college or university or highschool, or any school graduates

Anonymous 2:37 AM  

I also natick'd at TEVA X VARESE. I like the idea of the theme but the execution just felt off. Twelve Angry Men for Dirty Dozen was easily the high point and it was all downhill from there. Frankenstein and Watership Down are novels to be long before they're films. Doctor Strange seems like an attempt to appeal to the youths (sorely needed in this puzzle) but felt forced in that Doctor Strange doesn't strike me as a particularly good descriptor of Frankenstein. I've never heard of "The Lady Vanishes" which brings me to...

The films in this are from: 1938, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1967, 1978, 1986, 1999, 2014, and 2016 for an average age of 44. I bet this puzzle killed at the retirement home, though.

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