British pop singer Lily / SUN 10-11-20 / Missouri site of Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival / Acronym for North American Quintet / Subject of 199 silkscreen paintings by Warhol / Sapa title for Atahualpa / When doubled 1934 Cole Porter comedy short

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Constructor: Gary Larson

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:16)


THEME: "Pi R Squared" — "PI R" appears in ... squares ... several times :/


Theme answers:
  • CONSPIRACY THEORY / EMPIRE STATE
  • PUMP IRON / PIRATE'S BOOTY
  • VAMPIRE BAT / SPIRE
  • RESPIRATORY SYSTEM / PIROUETTES
  • SPIRO AGNEW / SPIRIT
  • TAPIRS / AWE-INSPIRING 
  • MISSISSIPPI RIVER / BABY ASPIRIN
Word of the Day: MARGO Price (73D: Country singer Price) —

Margo Rae Price (born April 15, 1983) is an American country singer-songwriter and producer based in Nashville, TennesseeThe Fader has called her "country's next star." Her debut solo album Midwest Farmer's Daughter was released on Third Man Records on March 25, 2016.[8][9] The album was recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, and was engineered by Matt Ross-Spang. The album was recorded in three days. On tour, she is backed by her band the Pricetags.

In December 2018, Price received a nomination for Best New Artist at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. (wikipedia)

• • •

Wow, this really needed ... something. Something ... else. Something besides a relentless succession of randomly-placed PIRs.Not sure how you do something like this, on a Sunday, with all that real estate, and somehow *don't* incorporate a circle into the mix somehow. At a minimum, the PIR squares should be laid out in a way where they form a circle, or ... I don't know, *something*! Also, the title is just "uh, here's the gimmick, we're just gonna put it in the title because we have no ideas, yeah it's dumb and unimaginative, whaddyagonnadoabout it?" Some of the themers would be perfectly fine, good even, as stand-alone answers, but as a Sunday theme concept, this PIR-square stuff is pretty weak. Took a while for me to figure out the gimmick, largely because I didn't look at the title first. Ran into the theme at RESPIRATORY system, when I had a few seconds of "wait ... it's spelled RESPATORY??! ... am I being Punk'd?" followed by "ohhhhhhhh, ok." And then it was just PIR after PIR after PIR after PIR. I looked at the title when I got PIR because I had no idea why you would rebus those letters, which look stupid in a square all by themselves. I figured maybe there was some meta-puzzle going on where all the rebus squares were going to spell out some message. But nope, PIR PIR PIR PIR PIR PIR PIR, that's the message, enjoy.


Not much trouble today, difficulty-wise ... speed was impeded almost entirely by finding and then entering the rebus squares (lots of extra keystrokes). There were a few hesitations, but that's about it. I think I get BITMAP confused with SITEMAP (?) so though I wanted BITMAP, I had to leave the last three letters blank because I just didn't trust myself (107A: Computer image format). Wasn't entirely sure if Lily ALLEN was -EN or -AN (also, haven't thought about her in like a decade, so it took me a few beats just to retrieve her name) (20A: British pop singer Lily). I have listened to MARGO Price a bunch and still had no idea who [Country singer Price] was until I had MARG-. I don't really slot her as a country singer, though I guess she's got some Venn-diagram overlap with that genre, sure. I had OPA before OMA (both of them answers I would be happy never to see again ... OPA being the male equivalent of OMA) (114D: German granny). Last thing in the grid was TOY (104A: Kiddy litter?), which I honestly didn't understand at all ... I'm not entirely sure I get it now. I think the idea is that children, i.e. kiddies, leave their TOYs everywhere, i.e. litter the ground ... with them. The issue is that a TOY is a word for small breeds of dogs and "litter" is a group of puppies and between that and the "kitty litter" homophone, I assumed the whole thing was pet-related, maybe. Pfffft. All that confusion for three dumb squares. Two long RE-answers is one two many (REIGNITE, REENGAGE). What is a REE Drummond??? (125D: Food writer/TV personality ___ Drummond). Oh ... "The Pioneer Woman," whose actual name isn't even REE. Mkay. If you think this makes it OK for you to put REE in your grid, please, I beg of you, think again. ENO ONO ONEG ONEL ORO, this write-up is Over.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

145 comments:

Mike 12:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harryp 12:04 AM  

It didn't take long to see that PiR was going to be a Rebus, and the Square was the space it was in. after that, it was just a matter of getting it in the right place. Nice conception.

Frantic Sloth 12:04 AM  

 

I'd like to say I enjoyed this one because it was challenging and fresh with other than the USUAL fill, but…

What I can say is that I enjoyed it because it was easy and familiar, with routine fill.

For me, it can often work both ways. Go figure. Must be a mood or a Gemini thing.

Sometimes a title can help. Sometimes it can be a tad misleading. Sometimes it can all but finish the damn puzzle for you. Witness the PI-R rebus right there in the title. (Doubt I even noticed the "Squared" part.)

That title absconded with any chance of a challenge, like a thief in the night, leaving me with nothing but this to say.

 

At least it was a big grid. High praise. ๐Ÿ˜•

 

๐Ÿง .5

๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

 

Mike 12:05 AM  

SEDALIA crossed with TASSE? TISH with MAHALIA? Natick city for me. Praying for a better Sunday

dadnoa 12:05 AM  

Spot on, Rex. When I saw the title, I thought “it’s not March, are we celebrating pi day early?” Thought you might have included a comment on tit showing up 3x thus week, and today it crossed teat. Guess you’re not keeping abreast of these developments. August is right. Doesn’t belong in a 2020 puzzle....

Joaquin 12:09 AM  

Sorry (not sorry) @Rex, but as much as you hated this puzzle I liked it. I found it more fun and more challenging than most Sunday xwords. But I do have one nit (or maybe it's just a question) - Who uses HAW as a hesitating sound? Am I missing something at 83-A?

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Totally agree! Where's the meta to circle back and tie it all together?!

EdFromHackensack 12:19 AM  

REE? Not RaE?? so close, yet so far

Roberto 12:28 AM  

i always am reminded about Dick Cavett s anagram for Spiro Agnew-- which is " grow a penis" when i see the ex VP mentioned.

Tom 12:41 AM  

I wanted them to clue AREA in a way that explained what all the PIRs were for, because until this write up I had no idea that crosswords have titles and I was looking for something to tie it all together.

yinchiao 12:44 AM  

Is that all a rebus is? Putting three letters in a box that usually holds only one? Somewhere I got the idea there was sometimes more point to it than that.

jae 1:01 AM  

Easy. No real hang ups with this one. A nice twist on Pi puzzles (of which there are several ), liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did.

Joe Dipinto 1:07 AM  

I think the idea is that children, i.e. kiddies, leave their TOYs everywhere, i.e. litter the ground ... with them.

Bingo.

Hated this puzzle. Hated it so much I wanted to gouge my eyes out while I was doing it. To @Rex's totally valid complaints about the title and the fact that the rebuses should form a circle, I will add that AREA appears as an answer at 89A and nothing is made of its connection to the theme equation.

What else? TEATS crossing TIT – now really, boys. We can hear the snickering. FLONASE is a fun entry, making its debut no less. What's with that idiotic MARLON Brando clue? I remembered the SEDALIA- Scott Joplin connection so I slid that right in along with the rhyming MAHALIA.

An overall bummer, I'm afraid. I'll just play this.

Ken Freeland 1:31 AM  

I beg to differ with Rex this week. True, the theme was not all that elaborate, but I thought it was kinda cute. Unlike Rex, I caught on quickly to the gimmick, unusual for me. Hey, it's not every day that you see a NYTXW puzzle that crosses answers like "tit" with "teats." Thanks for the mammaries, Gary Larson!

Thomas 2:05 AM  

I’m guessing HAW as in “Don’t hem and haw, just go ahead and spit it out!”

Thomas 2:06 AM  

Or “grow a spine”

Colin 2:21 AM  

Thank you, Gary Larson - I liked this puzzle! I got the theme pretty quickly after initially looking around for "area" embedded into the answers, and then I kept thinking, "Where's the second r?..." unil I figured out "Pi r [in a] square." Fill felt moderately challenging but not overly so - and I had very few "meh" reactions to the fill.

Had to seesaw on some clues: "Not merely cut" (SLICE? No, STYLE!), "Shades" (TONES? No, TINTS!), "Present from birth" (INBORN? No, INNATE!).

Speaking of words/phrases containing "pir": Anyone remember the Spirograph?
(Who would bet that Gary Larson thought about including this? Unfortunately, Spirograph might be too esoteric for most...)

kaoconno 2:46 AM  

I understood it as a reference to “hem and haw”.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

Got off to a really rough start with 13D Spare Part which I knew was RIB. Bzzzt! Struggled mightily and finally the light switch flipped to the on position and I let out a big whoop with PUMpirON. I came so close to crumpling up the thing and tossing it, but I’m stubborn, almost to a fault and ended up enjoying it. It turned from “what the hell” to easy.

Now we get PAREE, where you when I wanted you a couple of days ago?

bocamp 2:57 AM  

Thanks @Gary, just as a Sunday xword should be: not to easy, not too hard, just the right level of difficulty for me. A bit of the old, a bit of the new, and a nice cultural mix. Didn't mind the theme at all; caught on quickly and it made perfect sense. Nothing too fancy-schmancy; just fun to solve. Well done! :)

Recently taught one of the granddaughters the acronym for the Great Lakes: "HOMES"

"Pumped iron" at various times, long ago, long forgotten.

Tricky clue for 46A, "steal" for "bargain"; loved it.

Mastered a few basics on my Duncan yo-yo: "loop the loop" was one of few that I learned and executed reasonably well. Again, long time ago. Actually, got the granddaughters yo-yos, and we had some fun with them, not so long ago.

We had this yesterday thanks to @Nancy and no reason we shouldn't have it again today: Ol'Man River" by Paul Robeson

**** SB ALERT ****


Tough couple of days for the SB; finished yesterday at -11 :(

---[Acrostic Alert]---

Much appreciated if someone would point me to the Sunday acrostic. :)



Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frienden ๐Ÿ•Š

Angela 3:12 AM  

I’ve been practicing my crossword skills all year. I solved this one in 34:14. I will never understand how you do them as fast as you do them. I’m just so proud to even finish anything Thursday through Sunday (which I’m doing with greater consistency, but is still a real challenge for me). I wish I knew how to be better (or at least faster) at this than I am.

Harryp 3:17 AM  

I think HAW is from hem and haw.

Conrad 6:04 AM  


@bocamp: You'll find the Acrostic Archive here: https://www.nytimes.com/crosswords/archive/acrostic

Lewis 6:10 AM  

I greatly enjoyed this one. Yes, it was fun to suss out the rebus, then track down its locales (made more interesting because they weren’t symmetrical). But aside from the theme, there was nothing rote about the solve.

So many answers we rarely see or have never seen, such as DOTTED I’S, SEDALIA, SPANGLES, CULOTTES, REIGNITES, AWE INSPIRING, ELLIPSES (and more). Plus, there were many clues that could yield multiple answers, making me work to find the right one, the kind of work that keeps my brain engaged and happy.

Never heard of SEDALIA, despite its Scott Joplin festival, so read a bit about it. It’s not a big town, population of a little over 21,000. But the fact sticking with me is that it is the home of State Fair Community College, a name that struck me as unusual. It led me down a rabbit hole, looking for unusual college names, but none topped this one, IMO. Anyone out there have any worthy candidates?

Anyway, I left the puzzle with a most wonderful feeling of well-being. It takes a lot of effort to make a Sunday puzzle, and talent to give it verve, as you did, Gary. Thank you!

Diver 6:39 AM  

Not a big fan of rebuses.

Joaquin 6:41 AM  

Thank you @Thomas, @kaoconno, and @Harryp for the HAW explanation. You motivated me to check with Uncle G re: the origin and meaning of the expression "Hem and haw".

"Hem is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as 'to give a short sharp cough as a signal; to clear the throat; to stammer or hesitate in speech; to express disapproval of a speaker by factitious coughing'.

Haw is defined as 'An utterance marking hesitation'."

While the meaning of the individual words is at least 500 hundred years old, the "hem and haw" expression itself goes back to the 1700s.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

The rebus was a bit too easy to get, with the title as a hint. Other than that, cool runnings.

IrishCream 7:31 AM  

Definitely wanted more from the theme; I kept looking for “area” as a rebus before realizing I was overthinking it and yes, it really was as simple as filling in the letters from the title. It’s a Sunday, dang it! I want my puzzle to at least last as long as my first cup of coffee!

Telvo 7:35 AM  

Put me on the side of those who found this clever, challenging, and fun. Had me from 1 Across (which I did last). Best Sunday in a long time too. 5 Stars!

Trey 7:40 AM  

39A - “power of a square” Could have been clued to work with the answer AREA to tie into the theme a bit better. “Component necessary 7 times in this puzzle to provide 89A” for example

Name that tune 7:59 AM  

Teat tit.

Megan 8:06 AM  

Although her given name is Ann Marie, the Pioneer Woman always goes by REE and has since she was a child. So I don’t see anything wrong with that clue.

Z 8:06 AM  

Yep. Way to have your title totally ruin the solving experience. Caught on at CONSฯ€RACY THEORY and the fat lady was already singing. My single slowdown was the mysterious octothorp. Pound? Hashtag? Number sign? Rye, NY? Nope, let’s go musical with SHARP. Alrighty then. In essence, the title exposing the theme turned this into a really big Monday with one itsy bitsy section of Tuesday. As Monday puzzles go, this was excellent. For a Sunday... not so much.

TITtering about TIT crossing TEATS? Moi? I mean, if you can’t TITter about TITs what can you TITter about? Well, pewits aside.

@albie late yesterday- Your post prompts me to repeat the PPP* origin story. Some Saturday I was spouting off about how free of pop culture the puzzle was, only to read @OISK express the opposite view. I went and counted and @OISK was right, the PPP was just in my wheelhouse so I hadn’t noticed. That led me to counting and checking what people said and settling on 33% being where wheelhouse/outhouse comments overran the comments. 33% is also where a naticky answer is almost unavoidable.
And yes, I count it as PPP if a non-PPP answer is clued with PPP, so “kid” becomes PPP if the clue is something like “Rock’s first name.”
*PPP = Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. It is measured as a percentage of puzzle answers.

TTrimble 8:11 AM  

I saw the name Gary Larson, and thought, "No, it couldn't be. Could it? You don't suppose?" Sure, that name has got to be reasonably common. Still, it's amusing to imagine the cartoonist moonlighting as a crossword constructor.

Once the theme is grasped (and it wasn't that hard), the puzzle seemed to go smoothly. Except for the fact that when I was done, it took a while to see that I forgot that (for online) the rebus shortcut I discovered (and mentioned before on this blog) only works if you fill in the first letter of the rebus. Instead I had R's instead of P's throughout. It took about a minute to ferret them out and make the necessary substitutions.

Lucky me that I remembered MAHALIA Jackson from TV ads when I was a young'un growing up in the Bible Belt.

Thanks to Unknown for recalling the Dick Cavett story. According to what he's said on his old TV show, he's just innately good at anagramming: he just sees these things without trying.

I wrinkle my nose at FLONASE. ("Because 6 is greater than 1." Why, yes it is.) Must we get that brand-specific? Is the NYTXW now being sponsored by drug manufacturers?

Before I had cottoned on to the theme, I was thinking fOUETTES instead of [PIR]OUETTES. Which totally works as an answer. Ah, French. Time for a TASSE de cafรฉ. Avec du lait.

Yes, TIT x TEATS is a little eyebrow-raising. Saucy! Speaking of French, there's a mathematician named Jacques Tits. He has lent his name to Tits buildings and the Tits alternative (hmm, what might that be?).

And speaking of foreign languages, I've got a news flash for Rex: I think OMA (and Opa) are here to stay in XW fill land. Better get used to it.

OMA anagrams to MAO. Seeing the clue and that the answer started with M, I couldn't get Marilyn Monroe out of my mind for some time, and had to rely on crosses to finally evict her. (199 silkscreens, really?)

Leslie 8:29 AM  

Loved it!

Pamela 8:33 AM  

It’s only a few short months since I started regularly solving on line, and I’ve already lost the knack of working on paper with pen. I decided to start today’s yesterday after reading the rest of the Sunday Magazine, and what a mess I made! I got the rebus at EMPIRESTATE- of course I would, I live here!- but wrote the pi R symbol in a way that overlapped squares. The NE was a pain- 13& 14D both meaningless, and Ithought the tree chicken might be papAya, so even with the PIR in the right place, PUMPINGIRON took a while. Then more write-overs- I was sure 36D had to end in ING- Not! I even got the violin wood wrong- amazing, since lately I’ve been watching documentaries on how they’re made. And still more, painful to remember now.

When the online version became available I switched, filled in what I knew and kept going from there. Ah, so nice and neat- the rest of the solve went lickety-split.

Still, I ended up DNF. MeHALIA Jackson, who I was sure of, crossing Lily ELLEN, completely unknown to me, did me in.

I liked the clues for ATONE, BARGAIN, DEAD. MANUAL was obvious. Noticed TITS crossing TEATS, expected that the commentariat would too. So today was all about the solve, otherwise it was a one-trick pony.

ChuckD 8:36 AM  

Yea - the theme could have been presented more elegantly - but I like these types of puzzles so I enjoyed the solve. Got the idea in the NE with PUMPING IRON the others fell easily after that - although it did take me some time given the scale of this thing. Remaining fill was fine - a little stale but fine. The 12 year old in me guffawed at TEATS x TIT. Didn’t like all the REs - that to me is poor editing. MAO crossing both SASSING and PIROUETTES was pretty neat.

Lots of glue here - but it’s a large grid. Overall pretty happy with this one.

Z 8:37 AM  

@Megan - When Rex wrote, If you think this makes it OK for you to put REE in your grid, please, I beg of you, think again, I took that as a plea to the crossworld gods to not add REE to ENO, ONO, Yma, ASTA, Oreo, et cetera, et cetera. That is, our list of short names with convenient letters that help constructors but worsen the solve is lengthy enough.

@TTrimble - FLONASE made me want to sneeze. Randomly spelt product names, especially drugs, are as bad as randomly spelt rappers (and the solo artists who put random words together to perform as - although they don’t make puzzles as often).

@Joaquin - Thanks for the hemming and HAWing.

@Angela - Practice is the big thing. There are some videos of the real speed demons on youtube (Rex isn’t actually in the top tier for speed) where you can see how they are so fast. Being able to touch type certainly helps, as well as learning to navigate the grid quickly. But the biggest part of it is learning how to get the answers quickly and that comes from practice. I did the puzzle in two Rexes, which is typical for me on Sunday. I can get under 2 Rexes on a Monday, but Saturdays are going to be 3 or even 4 Rexes. I think I may have beaten a Rex time once or twice ever.

mooretep 8:52 AM  

Rex,

Connect the "pir" s and you can make the greek letter ฯ€.

TTrimble 8:52 AM  

@bocamp
If you're looking for the Acrostic and you're online, go to Crosswords Archive and search the menu. The Acrostic appears every other Sunday (also in the print magazine).

---[SB Alert]---
-->> spoilers for yesterday's ahead <<--
-->> don't say I didn't warn you <<--










Man, oh man. Okay, the word I thought others might grouse about was PFFT, which I was lucky to see. (I notice that Rex today used that word, but with twice as many F's.) Here is my list of missing words: APPELLEE, PELF, PLATELET, and PUPATE. Some comments: (1) APPELLEE. Damn it! Every time I see an E now I try to keep an eye peeled for -EE suffixes, but this one eluded me. I guess because I didn't really know the word. (2) PELF. You know what? I say PFFT to PELF. I mean, really. What is that. (3) PLATELET. Sigh. I've got no excuse. (4) PUPATE. Must be in the PUPA-PUPAE-PUPAL family. I'll have to look up later the distinction between PUPAL and PUPATE. Just dying to know.

So far today I'm a pangrammatic Genius, but I've a long way to go. And there's that E again.

TokyoRacer 8:56 AM  

Naticks: TASSE/SEDALIA, MAHALIA/ALLEN, ONEL/SELA. Is that One L? No idea what that means. Can't the damn editor see that these are unacceptable?

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Pi-R is "squared" not because it's "in a square" but because it works both Across AND Down, i.e. twice!

John H 9:19 AM  

I can't believe that Rex didn't point out the odious crossing of tit (61A) with teats (45D) and that the bird tit appeared in two consecutive puzzles. Or how he felt about "power of a square" (39A), which I thought was kinda cute.

Giovanni 9:27 AM  

@TOYKORACER I've seen that ONEL once before, it's crosswordese. I learned it but couldn't pull it out of my brain. I knew TASSE and SELA but the rest were kind of tough for a Sunday. I still never heard of SEDALIA. The NW was rough.

Rube 9:28 AM  

@angela. Ignore rex's absolute times unless you want to enter tournaments. His relative tomes indicate how difficult the puzzle was...at least for him. What's your hurry. Enjoy the solve. It takes years and years to reach your best speed whatever that means. And to some degree it takes a lifetime of picking up and remembering all sorts of odd bits of knowledge and attention to pop culture too.

This puzzle was ok for a Sunday. I think an extra little twist on the theme would have helped. One big complaint...MARGO and AMAL. These people are unknown.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Can’t believe the coincidence that we were watching and episode of The Munsters as I wrote in 15d!

Hungry Mother 9:57 AM  

Much faster that usual. I was looking for some more geometry (square and triangle), but was happy with the rebus. Nice mention of my favorite movie TRON.

pmdm 9:58 AM  

Every now and then the Sunday puzzle title makes the theme very obvious. At least to me but not to everyone. And today that is exactly what happened. (Or rather yesterday. I solve the Sunday puzzle on Saturdays.) Because there is so much to solve on a Saturday (4 Ken Kens, two crosswords, a variety, a Spelling Bee and so forth) having a simple Sunday puzzle doesn't bother me. Especially when there is a nice Acrostic (and I did like this week's puzzle.) I might gently suggest to those who react so vehemently to the crossword: there's so much other stuff in life that is so much more important. The worth of a NYT puzzle will never offset the loss of a loved one to the virus. It will never offset the effect of who is president. On the other hand, it's good to vent. In which case, ignore what I just said. At least when posting.

oopsydeb 10:01 AM  

Piling on to complaints about giving away too much in the title and for not cluing AREA in relation to the theme.

I'm also annoyed by 91A, "Continents, e.g." While the SEPTET model is the prevailing model in US schools, there are at least four commonly discussed models for identifying continents (giving us a quintet and two sextets of continents). I am old and so in school only learned the septet model. These days, many kids learn about the different models, and the geology and geography behind those models.

SouthsideJohnny 10:07 AM  

This was definitely a wheelhouse thing (and not in mine, lol). Naticks galore, which have already been pointed out. There was really no cleverness in the theme - I agree with OFL that the title seemed to just be an afterthought and that it needed a revealer. Not at all surprised that it is being reasonably well-reviewed here as many in this crowd still enjoy Sunday puzzles that flirt with a Friday difficulty level.

SEDALIA crossing TASSE and MAHALIA should be a capital offense, however Shortz (like Trump) pretty much does whatever he wants, because (for the time being at least) he can. I really don’t enjoy it when I don’t have a fighting chance simply because I am not a trivia buff.

Oh well, off to give SB a go - at least that’s a word puzzle that involves words.

egsforbreakfast 10:16 AM  

@mooretep 8:52 am. I can connect the PIRs in any possible way and only one comes remotely close to the Greek letter, and only if you are suffering the effects of multiple hallucinogens. Also, Jeff Chen notes on xwordinfo that it would have been a better puzzle if they had been so arranged.

I though the puzzle was pretty silly, seizing on a slightly amusing way to corrupt a mathematical phrase (in fact, only the r is squared I in the formula for area of a circle) and simply repeating it ad nauseum.

Nancy 10:17 AM  

A very pleasant rebus, albeit a very easy one. The title hints broadly at what rebus to look for and it's smooth sailing from then on. Or at least it was for me.

But poor Gary. He's swimming in legendary waters, theme-wise, and he probably doesn't even know it. He's created a very nice puzzle, but he's competing with a Great One.

I suspect Will Shortz knows, though. Look at the typeface in the title. The Pi symbol is curved and sort of looks like a musical note. This must surely be to differentiate it from one of the most inspired and fiendish puzzles ever to appear in the NYT: Tom McCoy's classic Sunday of March 7, 2015. If you never did it and can get your hands on it, do so. Otherwise, at least look at the finished grid to refresh your memory.

I, who have no memory at all, only remember two puzzles out of the thousands I've done: the Clinton/Bob Dole puzzle and the one above. I had to look up the date, natch, and I didn't remember the constructor, but then I never do (Sorry, Tom). But it's a real classic. Sorry, Gary. It's sort of like batting in the shadow of Babe Ruth.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I hated the boyish titillation of tit, teat and booty.

Analou 10:29 AM  

At first, I kept thinking I needed two r’s because Pi isn’t what is squared in the formula - only the radius is.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

saturday and today. the rare triple nipple

Sixthstone 10:34 AM  

Good fill and nice theme answers, a little EDGIER and LEWDER than most with its TEATS/TIT. But I agree with Rex that the theme isn't Sunday worthy.

Am I the only person who didn't know that HOMES was an acronym for the Great Lakes? Well, I learned something today and am ABLER than yesterday.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Well I looked at the title and thought "Oh Great...some sort of mathy thing..." and I wouldn't know a PI from a TSP in a gallon of water.
Oh...wait...it's a rebus. I became empirically inspired and never once was I dispirited except when I came to ANAEROBE. Whaaaat?
A PIR rebus....What's not to love? And love I did. No math involved. I didn't have to add or count my eggs in the basket. Just sniff out the puppies and I did....at CONS(PIR)ACY THEORY.
I thought everyone would love this as much as I did. @Rex can be a poop. Don't you smile at LOCO LOOP TOOT TIT? Does that give you GOUT? Was it SPIRO AGNEW crossing LEWDER that made you mad? Or maybe finding out that the IGUANA is the chicken of the trees?
I guess I'm easy to please.....I found this as refreshing as a VAMPIRE BAT doing PIROUETTES with TAPIRS.
Loves me some Gary Larson.

TJS 10:40 AM  

@Southside and others, Mahalia Jackson is probably the most famous Gospel singer in American culture. I know it is a generational thing, but if I have to figure out what an emogi stands for or who the hell is The Pioneer Woman, then you guys can suck it up and deal with Mahalia. Tits, teats and booty. One of the all time puzzle sections.

Malsdemare 10:43 AM  

I pretty much agree with @Frantic. I was quite disappointed that all I had to do was fill in PIR. And no clever revealer, though I guess the title made a reveal moot. A fail because I misspelled ANiEROBE. Sigh! However, it was still fun sussing out the clues, some of which were good. TOY was a stretch as Rex pointed out. But I liked DOTTEDIS and PIRATEBOOTY. That actor, you know the one (as clearly I don’t) in Pirates of the Caribbean had a pretty nice one.

Here is rural Illinois our brilliant clear skies are fuzzy with harvest dust, which turns the sunsets into some amazing color displays. The dust, the lack of rain this past month, and, well, October, has made the fall colors really pop. Pooches and I are out every day soaking up the soon-to-be-gone good weather.

Joe Welling 10:43 AM  

YES and YEPS seems like a no-no.

Someone new 10:48 AM  

@Anon 9:12 - But the formula (pi*r)**2 calculates nothing (well, it's pi*(area of a circle of radius r). What you're looking for is 2*pi*r (pir appears twice), which is something, the circumference of the circle. However, no one's talking about it because they couldn't even name the puzzle that

Giovanni 10:53 AM  

@nancy thanks for the suggestion, I'll do it today. But its March 8, 2015 not March 7th, the Sunday puzz by Tom McCoy I see.

thefogman 11:00 AM  

I liked it. It could have used an extra level of gimmickry as Rex said, but it was still fine. Maybe WS should have run it on the next Pi Day (March 14th) that falls on a Sunday...

thefogman 11:02 AM  

PS - Next year, Pi Day falls on a Sunday.

Malsdemare 11:07 AM  

For those who ask: ONEL refers to the first year of law school, a term the new students apparently use. It’s the title of a well-known book by Scott Turow. It’s quite good.

Chris 11:10 AM  

As a millennial, this puzzle was a dumpster fire of things I don't know or care about, cobwebbed cluing, and a theme I'd both failed to recognize and already forgotten about by the time I read Rex's write-up. I already hate most Sundays, but this is the first xword I've hated enough to go post vitriol on the internet. The creakiness of it all really shines with RENEWS, REIGNITE, REENGAGE, and FLONASE crossing BABYASPIRIN should tell you everything you need to know about the overall kitchen sink quality of fill.

RooMonster 11:16 AM  

Hey All !
Fiendish to start the puz with DOTTEDIS. That NW corner was ridiculous! TASSE? Yeesh. SEDALIA/INCA/TASSE?? Double Yeesh.

@Sixthstone 10:34
Re:HOMES - Yes, you are!
(Har! I'm sure you're not. Plenty of people don't know that.)

Got my first PIR down at the MISSISSIPPIRIVER, and said, "What kind of a rebus is PIR?" Then happened to glance at the puz title, and saw Pi R Squared. Aha, says I, PIR is Pi R. (Side note: @Nancy, are you saying that the puz in the paper had the title as ฯ€R Squared? Cause online didn't. Had Pi.)

Had a four-letter DNF today. I actually don't mind that as much as a one-letter one. Let's see: MeHALIA/eLLEN (which looking back on, the A made more sense, so Bad Roo!), TePIRS/eXED (another Bad Roo!, as I know they're TAPIRS, not TePIRS), ELSINORa/RaE (sorta defensible, as RaE in more common than REE, although I thought the castle didn't end in A), ANiEROBE/EMiNANT (defensible in my mind, as who decided to spell ANAEROBE with the SE together?)

Was kinda disappointed that the title basically told you the theme and how to do it. But, not sure if a Revealer could've been incorporated somehow. And what else would you have titled the puz?

We have Tuna as Chicken of the Sea(TM), now we have IGUANA as Chicken of the Trees. Interesting.

**SB YesterBee Stuff**
Happy I didn't do YesterBee. Looked at the word list. Yow. Got a big pfft from me!

What a first year law student in space is? A ONE L ONE G.

Thank you allergy sufferers for providing the only F!

One F
TIT for HAW
RooMonster
DarrinV

pmdm 11:28 AM  

The explanation someone posted at 9:12 AM is a lucid one that explains how the title correctly applies to the grid. While it may look like a calculation, the title is NOT a calculation. Someone new's comment seems to miss that and insist that the title derives from a calculation.It doesn't. The exponent of 2 in the title simply refers to the fact that "pir" appears twice in the puzzle: once across and once down. Perhaps tough to get your head around (and not to over-explain), but it satisfies me. And it satisfies Jeff Chen who sent me a "good explanation" reply after relating the application to him via email.

phuzzle 47 11:29 AM  

@Nancy...a correction...Tom McCoy's puzzle was March 8, 2015, not March 7...

JC66 11:49 AM  

@Lewis

re: interesting/weird college names, how about Trump University?

@bocamp

If you scroll down on The NY Times puzzle page the Acrostic appears right below SB (every other week on Saturday).

What? 11:51 AM  

Once you figure out the PIR rebus the rest is just a slog.

Ryan Crinnigan 11:56 AM  

Keep it up! You’ll get there.

Nancy 12:03 PM  

I just found out on Wordplay that I posted the wrong date for the Tom McCoy Sunday puzzle. It's March 8, 2015.

Also, thanks for re-posting my OL' MAN RIVER link from yesterday, @bocamp. On yesterday's blog, very late, I explained why that song and Paul Robeson's rendition of it means so much to me. And, as I said there, it's wonderful to discover that others on this blog love it just as much as I do.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Mahalia Jackson's very well known, though perhaps not to younger solvers. As for things everyone has heard about, she performed at the JFK inauguration in 1961, the March on Washington in 1963, and the M. L. King funeral in 1968--but of course all that is over 50 years ago. Flip back three pages from the puzzle, to p. 59, and you will see her evoked in an article there, which I have not yet read (left column, 8 lines down).

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Carola 12:05 PM  

Easy as pi(e), but I thought it was a terrific concept and had fun locating the nicely scattered theme squares. My favorite was the cross of VAMPIRE with the church SPIRE, an unfortunate meet-up, vampire-wise. In the daffy ways to go wrong department, I thought the chicken of the trees might be a vegetarian alternative of a papAyA or a banANA, so the IGUANA was a real surprise.

BEE-ER 12:11 PM  

@Roo. Did you see that the featured letter in today's BEE is..........."F"!!?

Unknown 12:13 PM  

PIR - 3 letters
Appears in 7 crosses so 14 answers
Makes 314 and pi starts 3.14157... so 3.14? It’s a reach, and I’m being charitable in perceiving intent in the coincidence, bet whelp, I’ll go do a math puzzle now...

bocamp 12:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birchbark 12:27 PM  

@Rex is wrong. There is a meta here, and it's a grim warning. And for this puzzle's courage, a huge weight is off my shoulders. Finally, someone besides me understands.

PI R-squared is a CONSPIRACY THEORY. Has anyone ever actually met Archimedes? No, and I'll tell you why not. He, along with most of Ancient Greece, is a fiction invented by the Government to lull us into complacency.

Why? Well-placed VAMPIRE BATs, incognito, infiltrated critical elements of the global authority-infrastructure. Recognizing the seductive qualities of Euclidian geometry, they deployed its narcissistic theorems, etc., to redirect our attention from their battalion of meta-cruisers, in silent orbit somewhere above the ionosphere. And they wait, the area of a circle their cloaking device.

They've been here for a long time. In the early 1970s, the Nixon administration secretly brokered a treaty to keep the BATs at bay for fifty years. The received wisdom at the time (read: Kissinger) being we'd now have the technology to thwart the next attack.

If not, there is a Plan B: Where we would relegate SPIRO AGNEW to the ash can of anagram name-puns, in fact the Vice President's cryogenic remains rest aboard the alien mother ship. By treaty, he will return to serve as puppet king when the BATs strike. Nixon's gambit: SPIRO does something really cool at the last minute to save the world. My research only goes so far here, but it has something to do with the RESPIRATORY SYSTEM of the VAMPIRE BAT. It is unwise to say more.

If I fault the puzzle for anything, it's that the other themers are uninformed window-dressing. An armchair variation on this CONSPIRACY THEORY has the ground-signal for D-Day coincide with multiple unexplained TAPIR sightings, up and down the MISSISSIPPI RIVER, from Lake Itasca to the Big Easy. I see no reason for this idle departure from the canon to be taken seriously. The editor should not perpetuate it.

I grew up with PI R-squared, and I like it. But this courageous puzzle forces us to confront reality without apology. Much as I want to trust that Nixon and AGNEW had it under control, they had other things to think about. I only hope it's not too late for a Plan C if we need it.

bocamp 12:49 PM  

@Conrad 6:04 AM @TTrimble 8:52 AM @JC66 11:49 AM

Many thanks! :)
___

@Anonymous 9:12 AM wrote: "Pi-R is "squared" not because it's 'in a square' but because it works both Across AND Down, i.e. twice!"

Great catch! :)
___

@John H 9:19 AM wrote: "'power of a square' (39A)"

Another great catch! :)
____

"one l" was in a xword a couple of years ago, and led to my reading "One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School"by Scott Turow

We have a guest blogger who was once, a "One L" student. Name, please and thank you. :)
___

I somehow managed to botch the link for the Paul Robeson - Ol' Man River video (which @Nancy included in one of her posts from yesterday). Thought it was well worth re-posting, especially considering the shout-out to the "Father of Waters" today. Here's hoping it turns out better than in my previous post. ๐Ÿคž



Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frienden ๐Ÿ•Š

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

๐Ÿ˜‚

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

There is a new "fancy" Spirograph in this fall/holiday edition of The Sharper Image catalogue. You're right, would have been great for this theme!

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

๐Ÿ‘

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Anacin was in the Sun. puzzle just last week, I think. So why not Flonase?

contessa 1:01 PM  

Joe dipinto will you marry me-you always make my Sunday

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I can't believe no one's commented on Munsters and Addams Family (2x! "You rang?") in same puzzle! I got a kick out of that!

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Pi is overrated. Tau is the geometric gem. Look it up. Pi x 2 explains a lot. Pi ? Not so much. In fact, this is so important someone should write a Manifesto.

Signed,

Michael Hartl

MarthaCatherine 1:05 PM  

Came here expecting about a zillion comments about slapping down StlouIs for "Missouri site of Scott Joplin..." Didn't know Scott Joplin had his own festival and never heard of SEDALIS.

Do I have to count it as a DNF if I finally had to google it? (I know I do)

sixtyni yogini 1:07 PM  

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿงฉ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ
Enjoyed this a lot!
Beginning to think ๐Ÿ’ญ I like Sundays ๐Ÿค— because I do them on hard copy. Without trying to beat the clock (as weekdays online) it’s a lot more fun ๐Ÿคฉ (for me) .
(and Sunday is no-news-but-old-news-day-yay ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ’ฌ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ’ฅ)
Cheers all!

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

๐Ÿ’–

Carola 1:14 PM  

@Birchbark 12:27, that was truly AWE-INSPIRING!

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I liked the puzzle. Anyone who pays any attention to George Clooney certainly knows his wife's name. Tabloids screaming about their impending breakup...

My favorite subset in the puzzle, as yet unremarked that I can see, is The Munsters + two Addams Family clues! Very appropriate for October.

Copy Editor 1:16 PM  

One of the worst themes I’ve seen in a very long time. I hadn’t figured it out yet and kept staring at the clue about the 25th Amendment trying to figure out why neither Richard Nixon nor Spiro Agnew fit, knowing that “conspiracy” didn’t fit either so I thought maybe the “on” was missing from clue words. Had to come here to see what the answer to that clue was and only then knew the theme. That was really irritating.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

I concur with someone new at 10:48.

The mathematical term pi r^2 means the r is squared, but the pi is not.

I first was bewildered because I thought the rebus needed to be PIRR and it obviously wasn't.

Ethan Taliesin 1:23 PM  

Little bit BORING. I wish I were as fast as Rex because I didn't think it was worth much more than ten minutes time.

I still don't understand the Pi R (squared) thing. They are in a square. That's it? The Pi is getting squared too. Maybe I'm just being mentally lazy and more interested in typing about my own ignorance than trying to figure it out but I don't care.

TTrimble 1:37 PM  

@Anonymous 1:00 PM
I guess. But adding to my objection over FLONASE is that it's a tad too evocative for my taste. "Brought to you by the makers of Snottarhea."

@bocamp
That reading of pi r-squared occurred to me briefly as well, but as already pointed out, it doesn't work as nicely, since (pi r) squared would be (pi squared) times (r squared), which isn't really a thing in the popular mind. I much prefer the interpretation of placing PIR within a square.

(Then again the whole thing is a little silly. Not to say it's not slightly charming, in its way.)

@Unknown 12:13 PM
I'm terribly sorry to have to say this, but the fifth digit after the decimal point should be a 9, not a 7.

Every pi-day I have to go through some motion of loading pi digits in my head because there will be some semblance of nerd celebration sponsored by my department. If I really practiced, I'm sure I could load 100 digits. But I could hardly care less about that. I hope this isn't what people think mathematicians do... On another front, if we have to celebrate a number, I'd plump for 2pi more than I would pi. Don't get me started on that!

Then there's 22/7. More impressive is 355/113. Don't get me started on that either.

rochdale 1:41 PM  

I just keep thinking of my 9th grade math teacher who was in love with the joke about the country rube challenging his math teacher by saying "Pie aren't square, they're round!" It was just as funny today as it was 45 years ago. :(

Bonnie Buratti 1:42 PM  

Just to repeat what others have already mentioned. If you do a math-themed puzzle, the math has to work out. (Pir)X(Pir)=piXpiXrXr, not piXrXr. Alternatively, 2X(Pir)= 2pir (the circumference of a circle). PiXrXr (the area of a circle) just doesn't work. Perhaps it's just a title problem, but in any case the rebusses should have formed a circle or be located two to a square or something.

Barbara S. 2:07 PM  

@Birchbark 12:27 p.m.
As @Carola said, AWE-INSPIRING. I applaud the selfless humanitarian SPIRIT of your post. I would only add that I think the BATs have infiltrated and *are here*! I've long suspected that the SPIRE of the EMPIRE STATE Building was a communications link, perhaps to the massed BAT fleet above us. And just consider our modern world. Do you think all those people who PUMP IRON do so for their health? I think they're preparing for something. And what about the increasing amounts of BABY ASPIRIN that are being prescribed willy nilly? Maybe, softening us up? I have no faith in the effectiveness of a revivified AGNEW. Plan C? Pfft! I'm afraid the BATs look upon this planet as PIRATES' BOOTY and will be performing upside down PIROUETTES in their roosts when the invasion is complete.

Me? I'm off on the first ship to Mars.

pabloinnh 2:14 PM  

Easy once you catch on, and I caught on right away, so, easy.

Biggest slowdown was reading "Spanish article" as "Spanish uncle" and in went TIO and out went lots of connected answers.

Fun enough Sunday for me, GL. Thanks.

anon 2:28 PM  

“At a minimum, the PIR squares should be laid out in a way where they form a circle, or ... I don't know, *something*!” - They are! You just didn’t see it. So quick to criticize and so slow to apologize. Be better Rex.

anon 2:29 PM  

Connect the rebuses and you’ll find the Greek letter Pi.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

My NYT app doesn't include a title. So even though I figured out that a rebus was involved, I started out with ire, ira, etc., in the wrong squares, wondering where that might lead - instead of realizing it was PIR, etc. Got quite a lot just figuring things out but knowing the title sooner would have helped a lot, even though, as Rex said, it seems inexplicable. Had fun anyway. - newbie

Unknown 2:37 PM  

"Stupid," "dumb," "unimaginative," and "Stupid" (again).
If rex despises the NYTXW so much, why does he devote so much time to it?
Unless he just likes to hear himself complain.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

will folks just go to the wiki and look up pi. there, toward the bottom is the area of a circle shown, *exactly* as is shown in the dead trees puzzle. can't speak for the e-line version. without () an exponent applies *only to* the variable it is above.

Ryan Kendrick 2:52 PM  

DNF. Sedalia and Nantes got me.

Been reading the blog for years. Very cool to have a video that I directed show up on here.

Erik 2:53 PM  

With a tip of the hat to my Dad, “Cornbread are square. Pie are round.”

Crimson Devil 3:07 PM  

Goldilocks Sun puz.
Was so hoping for GAUCHOS for baggy britches, sure to rouse some.
Puz reminded of hand-painted welcome home sign [do love signs] held by gussied-up young lady: Pvt Jones, report for BOOTY ! It happened.

Pamela 3:35 PM  

@Birchbark- ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ
What are you calling this conspiracy? I bet it shows up on Twitter, or Facebook, or somewhere.

FWIW, I don’t see the pi sign.

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

-2.

TTrimble 3:56 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

We'd better put some champagne on ice. I have a feeling there are going to be some winners today/tonight. (I won't predict this of myself, but I'm at -1.)

Birchbark 4:37 PM  

@Carola (1:14) -- Many thanks. And the same is true of your consistent, subtle wit.

@Barbara S. (2:07) -- We buy our Kool-Ade from the same store. Your observation on the sinister side of BABY ASPIRIN sales rings all too true. But most provoking to me is the image of upside-down-BAT-PIROUETTES. Excellent.

@Pamela (3:35) -- I am but a vessel of the truth and know not its name. But I have heard some refer to this CONSPIRACY as "PI in the Sky."

@anon (2:28, 2:29) -- I do see the PI sign now that you mention connecting the rebus dots. Not easy to do in a grid design with so few themers, but it is there, and one more layer of meta-greatness to the puzzle.

bocamp 4:38 PM  

**** "Pi R Squared" ALERT ****

@TTrimble 1:37 PM wrote: "@bocamp
That reading of pi r-squared occurred to me briefly as well, but as already pointed out, it doesn't work as nicely, since (pi r) squared would be (pi squared) times (r squared), which isn't really a thing in the popular mind. I much prefer the interpretation of placing PIR within a square."

@Anonymous 9:12 AM wrote: "Pi-R is "squared" not because it's 'in a square' but because it works both Across AND Down, i.e. twice!"

Great catch! :)

I responded ("Great catch!") to @Anonymous 9:12 AM, not because they disavowed the "in a square" theory, but because they added a dimension not caught in my usual lax post-solve analysis, i.e., that "Pi R" is used both across and down, thereby doubling it. I had previously considered only the "in the cell (square)" angle. I don't disavow that POV, but I'll "double down" on "across and down" to go with "in the square", thus doubling my admiration for this feat of construction.

BTW, as is the case with many xword clues, I think the title of this puz was meant to be a total misdirection. IOW, "Pi R Squared" has little to do with "ฯ€r2", but simply calls for the letters "PIR" to be inserted into the appropriate squares (first effect), thereby creating a rebus that works across and down (second effect), thus being twice as effective.

Aside: couldn't find any comments by @Gary re: this puz.

Just my "two" cent's worth. :)


**** SB ALERT ****

@Pamela & @ TTrimble

๐Ÿ‘

I'm puttering around with it off and on. Still not to g. yet. ๐Ÿคž




Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frienden ๐Ÿ•Š

albatross shell 4:52 PM  

@Barbara S.
See my post from late yesterday on POC.
I was tired and meandered a bit but the short explanation is judge POC by appearance in the grid, judge PPP by how its clued.

@Z
JOESCMO, PPP or not? I lean toward not, but could see some room for debate.

I haven't finished today's puzzle yet. Been busy with guests and Eagles football.

Had an UNUSUAL Fibonacci solve so far breaking through filling up the center first and s[pir]aling toward the edges and corners.

Nancy 5:05 PM  

What a great song, @Joe D! And I'd never heard it. Think I should stick with you: you're an incredible music source and you have great taste.

@Birchbark -- I've always thought of you as our Resident Philosopher, but now I have to think of you as our Resident Satirist, too. (@JOHN X -- you have competition.) But be careful, @Birchbark, lest your parody sound completely plausible to the CONSPIRACY THEORY types. I worry that members of QAnon are going to come to a "Democrat city" in a "Democrat state" (namely mine) and begin looking for SPIRO AGNEW's cryogenic remains under my bed.

Z 5:09 PM  

Regarding the the math doesn’t work plaint; This crossword uses word/letter play. The title references that PI R squared (i.e “in a square”). No need for the math to work.

Magazine title is ฯ€r^2, as is the title in PuzzAzz. The NYT App has Pi R Squared. (@anon/newbie - my iPad app has the title showing)

@anon 1:00 (&@TTrimble) - How about neither? My complaint about FLONASE applies equally to Anacin. Aspirin + caffeine = Anacin? Alrighty then. I also agree with @TTrimble that a name that evokes nasal flow is suboptimal. More TITs fewer Product Names!!!

Z 5:14 PM  

@Albatross Shell - When I used to do more complete PPP Analysis I’d often list the PPP I counted. Iffy ones I didn’t count I might note. Mr. Schmo is more slang than a proper name to me so I would not count it as PPP.

Unknown 5:15 PM  

OneL was John Grisham's first book. You're welcome
Jim H

Unknown 5:17 PM  

OneL was John Grisham's first book. First yr law student. You're welcome Jim H

Unknown 5:20 PM  

Oops Scott Turow ๐Ÿคญ

CDilly52 5:22 PM  

Well, all I can say is that I spent an incredible amount of time trying to get the theme to “be something.” I got the rebus immediately with CONSPIRACY THEORY and confirmed it with PUMP IRON. Getting all of the north done easily gave me PIRATES BOOTY. Hmmmm. I backed out to “micro” (I badly need a stronger reader lens in my bifocals and have to enlarge one small piece of the Sunday grid at a time) looking for either black squares forming a giant “X” across the grid or a the character “X” as the very middle square of the puzzle. Alas, not.

In desperation (I never spend this much time during my solve on the theme), I switched to clue mode in my app and quickly scrolled down through all the clues, across and down looking for a revealer. Also none! Hem HAW . . . Hem HAW . . . OK, no revealer. Head scratch, more coffee.

Next, I spent a ridiculous amount of time (like as much as three normal Sunday solves time) trying to make what ultimately became the second “R” in RESPIRATORY SYSTEM an “X”. And was sorely disappointed when all my effort was for naught.

I really wanted this puzzle to have a super-clever pirate ๐Ÿด‍☠️ theme! Alas, me hearties, ‘twas not to be. The ultimate “themelet” seemed truly half-baked as well. PIR-squared. But it doesn’t scan correctly and needed something more - ok, a lot more, in my opinion, to work.

Finished the puzzle and all I could think of was how much Gran would have loved a fully formed and clever pirate theme in her Sunday Times. ๐Ÿ˜ข So much wasted opportunity here and just average fill, even for a Sunday.

CDilly52 5:24 PM  

So clever @Crimson Devil 3:07 pm!

CDilly52 5:33 PM  

I believe that scientists in a space station secretly launched from Italy by descendants of Archimedes are circling the globe working on Plan C. Thanks for thoughtfully sharing your knowledge, @Birchbark!

Unknown 5:45 PM  

The most atrocious thing about the theme is that an interesting revealer was already built in... AREA... and they decided to clue it with "specialty"

CDilly52 5:45 PM  

@Malsdemare 11:07. The Scott Turow book is indeed well written and fascinating. John Houseman is the only good thing about that awful tv show. The One L moniker is alive and well, and the book accurately chronicles many of the horrors of that first year which continue to be perpetuated as “tradition.” Anyone who has ever survived law school and gone into practice learns quickly that nothing, absolutely nothing in the “traditional” first year so-called “Socratic” system that many professors use simply as a means to humiliate people has anything whatsoever to do with the practice of law-other than the fact of survival.

Been at this practice 37 years. We call it practice because we hope that if we keep practicing we will finally learn everything there is to know, but (thankfully) as long as we seat qualified Justices, our Constitution will continue to be a living document, responsive to the changes in society and science and therefore the gemstone of genius that it is - and the guide and glue that holds our Republic together. And we can keep learning and growing with it.

WestBay 5:51 PM  

I have been doing NYT XW puzzles for 50+ years. I believe this was the easiest puzzle I’ve ever done. Pity no circles, diameters, radii, arcs, even squares couldn’t have been woven in some way. Loved the ’PiRate’ suggestion!

bocamp 6:05 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

-6


Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frienden ๐Ÿ•Š

RooMonster 6:36 PM  

@BEE-ER 12:11
I saw that! F love is out there. Har.

@M&A
If you haven't done the Mini today, take a look, you might like it!

RooMonster F Type Guy

ghkozen 6:45 PM  

That HAW/PAREE cross clued as a confused sound and a 85-year-old nothingburger is just abjectly terrible. #fireShortz.

Joe Dipinto 6:52 PM  

@Nancy – I'd only ever heard Dinah Washington sing "Bargain Day", but I see that Rosemary Clooney recorded it too. I think Rosemary's version must stick closer to the actual melody line. They're both good.

P.s. "Ol'Man River" is one of the best-constructed songs ever. The way the melodic motive keeps climbing a little higher each time the tune "restarts" is perfect.

bocamp 7:38 PM  

**** "Pi R Squared" ALERT ****

@TTrimble 1:37 PM

Mea culpa; I have to walk back most of the rationale from my 4:38 PM post. I conflated "squared" and "doubled". I'll go with your's and Rex's explanation that the most viable interpretation of the the themer is simply that "PIR" is dropped into a puzzle square.

As most rebuses do, it makes sense in both directions, which is a side benefit. :)

Bottom line: still a much admired and appreciated puzzle by @Gary, and I need to keep working on analyzing, interpreting and understanding. ๐Ÿค”


**** SB ALERT ****



-5 ๐Ÿคž




Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frienden ๐Ÿ•Š

algiardello 7:39 PM  

I second that emotion

Barbara S. 8:13 PM  

@albatross shell (12:28 a.m. on yesterday's blog & 4:52 p.m. today)

Thanks for the further illumination. I did see your late-night post this morning and then forgot to comment, silly me. I almost always have a last look at the previous day's blog when I first tune in to read Rex in the morning. There's often good stuff that gets posted late.

I think I've got PPP more or less down pat, at least definitionally. What I seem slower to grasp, I guess, is that ALL plurals in XWs are plurals of convenience.

*****SB ALERT*****
I gave up on today's SB with 2 words to go. Shouldn't have. They were gettable. Dang! Good luck to those with more fortitude than I.

jberg 8:58 PM  

Almost 9 pm, it’s almost all been said, except:

HOMES is a mnemonic device, not an acronym. An acronym is something you actually say, like NASA.

Warhol did not do silk-screen paintings; silk screens aren’t paintings at all, they’re all prints.

GILL I. 9:28 PM  

@jberg 8:58. He did indeed do serigraphy. Or....silk screen painting.... call it what you will. I have it on good authority....I copied the way he did it!

Shuli 9:39 PM  

Amen. Saved only because the preceding article in the NYT magazine referenced Mahalia Jackson as part of the soundtrack for The Good Lord Bird. Like driving though Natick while doing the crossword.

bocamp 9:40 PM  

@jberg wrote:

"HOMES is a mnemonic device, not an acronym. An acronym is something you actually say, like NASA."

How about both? ๐Ÿค”

I think many, if not most, acronyms are essentially mnemonic devices, but most mnemonic devices are not acronyms.

I used both terms in helping the granddaughters learn the names of the Great Lakes.

I do think, tho, that "mnemonic" or "mnemonic device" would have been the better clue in this instance.


**** SB ALERT ****


-3 with another hour and a half to go ๐Ÿคž



Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frieden ๐Ÿ•Š

Eniale 10:41 PM  

@ttrimble - Gary Larson, according to Wikipedia, lives in Seattle; today's print bio of the constructor says Edmonds, which is a suburb of Seattle. Gotta be the same Far Side guy!

bocamp 11:09 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****


๐Ÿ* LOL (there's a story)

No unknown words ๐Ÿ‘



Peace Wรขki ijiwebis-i Paix ะผะธั€ Paz Thak Pax Salam Frieden ๐Ÿ•Š

Anonymous 4:36 AM  

Fully on board with what Rex said. I got the PIR thing, and then was like, "why?" So I checked the title and thought, "Is that it?" I checked for additional notes, or a revealer or literally anything.

Also, math nitpick. It's just the R that's squared, not the pi. It's pi * (r^2). So putting the pi in the square is just wrong.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Tases is German for cup, not French. What a dumb error.
Coupe is French....
Hated this puzzle.

Christopher P. 11:28 AM  

I loved the randomly placed PIRs and for that matter, any puzzle with math or science, however trivial this one's connection was. I also love when I discover that a puzzle has squares with multiple letters (sorry, don't like the application of the word REBUS to that). The discovery triggers a satisfying brain chemical. These are good things for me. Should be for anyone. Positive things. In a country gone to hell, I'll take this puzzle for an hour of enjoyment any Sunday. And I only refer to the time because NYT shows me. (I know, I can prob. shut it off). For me, puzzles are a little moment of Zen and meditation. Time lost in a mental space. Nice work Gary Larson.

Meant to post this yesterday so it might be more widely read but I never seem to get everything done each day, these days. One day I will. For now, smiles to anyone who reads this!

Gian 4:29 PM  

Been a long time since I hated a Sunday puzzle this much.

Ruth Lambert 8:09 PM  

I was annoyed that the PIR wasn’t indicated by a circle. Made solving this feel very random.

kitshef 8:52 PM  

Now I've done all three puzzles I missed while out hiking this weekend ... and all three are horribly flawed. Today, it was the MARGO/AMAL cross. C'mon, Will, stop crossing obscure names at vowels. And the clue for TOY. Just awful.

What Rex failed to point out is that if you pick any three of the rebus squares you can draw a perfect circle that runs through all three of them.

Unknown 9:08 PM  

Didn't it bother any of the musicians that 74D is either a number symbol or a pound sign. A sharp's symbol does not have right angles.

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