Physician who co-founded A.A. familiarly / SUN 10-4-20 / Earliest known Chinese dynasty dating back to 2000 BC / Villain in 1998's Mulan / Texas county on Mexican border / What Old English called Winterfylleth / LGBT aligned advocacy group since 1987 / Home to Antilla world's most valuable private residence 27 floors 2.2. billion

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium (11-something)

THEME: "You're Telling Me!" — Phrases starting with "You're," all of which are reimagined in some punny way:

Theme answers:
  • "... MAKING ME BLUSH" (24A: To a cosmetician: "You're...")
  • "... OUT OF YOUR GOURD" (30A: To a produce vendor near closing time: "You're...")
  • "... MISSING THE POINT" (47A: To a bad free throw shooter: "You're...")
  • "... IN FOR IT NOW" (63A: To a temp worker: "You're...")
  • "... DARN TOOTIN'" (65A: To a rude driver: "You're...")
  • "... ONLY AS GOOD AS THE / COMPANY YOU KEEP" (76A: With 98-Across, to an aspiring entrepreneur: "You're...")
  • "... SOMETHING ELSE" (104A: To anyone who wasn't addressed above: "You're...")
Word of the Day: DR. BOB (20D: Physician who co-founded A.A., familiarly)
Robert Holbrook Smith (August 8, 1879 – November 16, 1950), also known as Dr. Bob, was an American physician and surgeon who founded Alcoholics Anonymous with Bill Wilson (more commonly known as Bill W.), and a nurse, Sister Ignatia. (wikipedia)
• • •

Leaving aside how very, very loose the theme concept is, there's one lethal problem with this theme, which is that virtually none of themers really land. I think MISSING THE POINT comes close, but everything is awkward or stilted or forced. I don't even know what the pun is supposed to be with IN FOR IT NOW. You fill "in" for someone when you are a temp, but ... yeesh, the "it" is really making this one not work. Cosmeticians might use blush, but they don't make people blush (unless, I guess, they are creating custom, bespoke cosmetics with, like, a mortar & pestle or something). Why is a rude driver *DARN* TOOTIN'?? I get that a "rude driver" might honk their horn, but the "Darn" makes no sense. You would never say "your gourd"—as if the produce vendor only ever carried just one. The "aspiring entrepreneur" one takes up so much real estate and is just limp. None of these have spice or character or zing. It's just old, cornball punning. With the set of alleged addressees / professions not nearly tight enough, and the humor absolutely missing left and right, there's nothing left here. HANGRY, that's a good answer (73A: Itching to eat and irritable about it, in slang). That's nice. But wow, otherwise, a whole lot of nothing here today. Miss on Sunday, and you miss very big.

I struggled with a lot of the fill. Most of the struggle was (surprise) proper nouns, specifically HSIA (so many dynasties...), and SHAN-YU (I saw "Mulan" but no way in hell could I remember that), and "OUR SONG" (not so familiar with the '00s Swift oeuvre) (71A: Taylor Swift's first #1 country hit, 2007). The worst, though, was STARR, like ... what? How is anyone outside of a very small part of Texas supposed to know this [Texas county on the Mexico border]??? There are at least four famous STARRs I can think of, but we get a ... county? Of no note? Bizarre. The entire *county* has 61K people. The county seat is ... Rio Grande City? My own dumb, small-ass county, which you definitely can't name, has over 200K people in it. This is the worst kind of cluing. Zero chance for an aha or any kind of good feeling. All crosses, and then a shrug. Solely here to provide a speed bump, as far as I can tell. No idea why anyone would make that editing call. Clue in MUMBAI tells me nothing about the place; just a piece of trivia I've already forgotten (26A: Home to Antilla, the world's most valuable private residence (27 floors, $2.2 billion)). I had no idea the "L" in "The L WORD" could be anything *but* "lesbian," so I really struggled with that answer (61D: What might be "love" or "lesbian" in a TV show title). Had ELDER before ENEMY (6D: "Never interrupt your ___ when he's making a mistake" (old aphorism)). Weirdly had no idea that the Titanic had MASTs (!?!?!) (47D: One of two on the Titanic). If there was some notably good fill here to write about, I would, but there really isn't, so good day!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. a reminder that *today* (Oct. 4, 2020) is the last day to register for the Boswords Fall Themeless League (a weekly online crossword tournament with over 500 entrants so far). Get the info here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:03 AM  

I like a theme that helps with the solve, and this one did. I also questioned the two masts on the steamship Titanic, but later discovered they were antenna masts for the Marconi wireless telegraph system, which meant that the steamship could actually be called a schooner! A couple of good clues were 42A and 111A. The portmanteau HANGRY grates to the ear, but does its job.

isobel 12:17 AM  

Well I finished it with no mistakes. I guess that’s something.

Frantic Sloth 12:42 AM  

Fair warning: I saw the constructor's name and the bias was strong. This review is more like a FOX newscast version of "fair and balanced", and I'll admit that right off the bat.
This theme. I could bury myself halfway to China in garlic breath and the stink would still reach me. I guess you could say I didn't like it. Not necessarily the concept itself, but if you read the clues as something being said by the "person x" and to you or me or someone else (which is how I read it the first time) it makes absolutely no sense; however, if the clue is said by me (or you or someone else) and to the "person x", that's it all works. This smacks of half-baked editing and is too much malarkey for me to enjoy it.
I will admit that finishing all the themers off with [You're] SOMETHINGELSE, was a nice touch though.

The fill is only a slightly different story. With such gems as STRONG, ONEONE, OFHELP, KAS, BYA, and the ridiculous POCs of OREOS, SHAHS, ELNINOS, what's not to like? Oh, I don't know...maybe most everything?

Other Nits:
Do we have enough non-English terms to make everybody happy? Do we??


.5mm lead is not the THINNEST. I believe that would be .2mm
And don't try weaseling out of it by calling "popular" the determining factor in clue accuracy (Hi, @Z!) Thpppt!

No idea on SHANYU or anything GOT, but I know Jason MOMOA from other things.

It's possible I'm missing the clever joke of 66D "It's not a lot to jot" = NOTE, but I'm leaning more toward bad clue for a boring word.
Likewise with MARKSMAN for "good-looking guy?" Heaving a heavy sigh of "meh" here.

In spite of "so far", I did have some likes: HANGRY, and seeing LEWis make the grid!

I guess I should just be happy with Fridee and Saturdee and call it a weekend. 😕

-1 🎉

Pamela 1:09 AM  

I liked it more than Rex did. The only thing I had to look up was the Book of JOEL, and that was after I had the answer because OJOS didn’t look right. Otherwise the crosses helped out with the words I didn’t know. The themers were corny all right, I’ll give him that, but certainly familiar and sorta cute and funny. So for me this was entertaining, with just enough crunch to keep me from solving too fast, but much kinder and more comfortable than the last two days.

Interesting that the constructor is the SB guy, Sam Ezersky. I just read the notes on Wordplay, and I didn’t think it was as funny as they did. But now I know where to complain when good words are left out of the Bee: That’ll larn ‘im!

I read I, ROBOT when I was quite young and re-visited it later. Always loved Asimov. I knew he was a serious scientist, and was amazed that he could make both the science fiction and the mysteries so much fun to read.

RAD2626 1:18 AM  

I thought this was a perfectly fine Sunday with clever fill, and a solid set of themers. I wish the themers had made me work a little harder. The first one I filled in was the produce dealer whom I wanted to be “OUT OF thyme”. Disappointed when they were all pretty direct. But a fun half hour. Better than reading or watching the news.

Kevin C. 1:33 AM  

I actually enjoyed the theme quite a bit. My problem was more with the fill. This puzzle ticked off almost every box.

* Random time zone? Check.
* "[Insert whatever letter you need] as in..."? Check.
* A nickname for Atlanta that I never once heard in several years of living in the city? Check.
* Random 3 letter city abbreviation with the usual Baseball clue? Check.
* Texas county, population 60,968? Check.
* Thirteen separate Fill in the Blank clues ("All ___", etc.) Check.

All that was missing was WNW or SSW clued as "Direction from [city #1] to [city #2].

Richardf8 1:42 AM  

I can too nsme your small-ass county! Broome.

I enjoyed it. It was clued fairly enough that I got the whole thing filled in and the only delay in getting the music was oho/AHA.

The themers weren’t real tight, but I enjoyed them well enough anyway.

I learned that there is an Alto clef. That was new to me.

Joe Dipinto 1:44 AM  

Well...typically I like Sam E.'s puzzles, but this... I was amused by "You're... SOMETHING ELSE!" and its clue, and by the one Sam E. says ended up on the cutting room floor – "To an informant: 'You're... ONE TO TALK!'"

But that temp answer had me scratching my head. It almost seems like a mistake: like the words got transposed from You're...IN IT FOR NOW, which would work with a clue like "To the temp being assigned to the tech department..." if you read IT as I.T. – except that that answer is not a real expression.

Uyyy. So I don't know. I did enjoy solving it, even with some misfires in the themers. I had some delays in the NE, appropriately enough, thinking at first that the cosmetician was MAKING IT ALL UP, but that got straightened out pretty quickly.

To Eve, in the Garden of Eden: ...

Birchbark 1:55 AM  

@Frantic (12:22) -- Your HORSY notes are correct insofar as the angst is concerned. But most authorities worth their salt say HORSé. Once again, the editors are to blame.

In similar vein, OUT OF one's GOURD is preferable to OUT OF YOUR GOURD.

HANGRY, GODSEND, OCTOBER, OAT MILK, BLARNEY, TRUE DAT, CUETIP, SHAHS palindrome, even honest euphemism PENURY. These are good words paired with their clues.

In the morning we pack the chainsaw and drive up to property a few hours northwest to take care of some trees we learned fell in a storm a few weeks ago. My daughter hasn't been there since she was little and probably doesn't remember it. There's an old cedar swamp that's so hard to get to through the brush. But once there, we almost never have anything to say. It's a place where you don't even need to speak.

JOHN X 2:16 AM  

I can solve any NYT crossword puzzle, any time, any place (and Lord knows I have).

I got the theme early on, which wasn’t too bad, but the rest of the puzzle just offended me. It is incredibly hard to offend a jaded combat veteran like JOHN X. But this puzzle managed to do it.

What a bunch of stupid answers.

chefwen 2:48 AM  

I had a lot of fun with this one. No complaints from me.

You’re DARN TOOTIN sounds like something I grew up with in Wisconsin. Loved you’re IN FOR IT NOW under BOO HOOS.

What the hell is OAT MILK? I’ll pass on that.

jae 2:51 AM  

Medium. Yeah, this one had problems.

Lewis 6:29 AM  

The theme made me smile, and it was fun trying to suss the theme answers with as few crosses as possible, but what marked this puzzle for me was what how involving the rest of the puzzle was. Every square made for quality solving time, and I didn’t feel like I was just marking time, noodling around while waiting for the theme answers to appear. When you can make the whole puzzle sing on a Sunday, you’ve given the solver a rich chunk of time.

That’s what you did for me, Sam, with your answers coming from many fields, but mostly with cluing that intrigued the brain – lots of vague clues like [Utter nonsense] that caused my mind to seek possible answers and check them against crosses, lots of stumpers like “What’s a six-letter word meaning IS?” or “Seven columns? What the heck has seven columns?”

Some of you commenters will come out of this puzzle with a nit about this or that. How about what effort and dedication went into making 136 clues with thought and care? 136!

Sam, you kept the solver in me fat and happy today from start to finish. Thank you for a glorious time!

Marc 6:46 AM  

I hope the pancakes we shall be having in about one hour are not as flat as this puzzle. Hated it for being so dull.

Lewis 6:49 AM  

@rex -- Regarding "You're... IN FOR IT NOW", someone on WordPlay suggested that the "IT" is for the IT (information technology) person, that is, the temp is subbing for the IT person. I hadn't thought of that, but it makes me like the answer better.

ChuckD 7:04 AM  

The theme was loose no doubt - but it could have worked fine if not for the loads of bad fill. This played hard for me - so much obscure trivia and nouns. I liked MISSING THE POINT and MAKING ME BLUSH but the other themers took me some time figure out. So much nonsense here it makes me HANGRY - said no one ever.

Winterfylleth is really cool and so timely. We have a huge harvest moon right now with Mars brightly adjacent to it.

Hungry Mother 7:21 AM  

I thought hAS instead of GAS. I’m a bit rusty after 3 days of no puzzles due to a camping trip south from Delaware to Florida in our self-converted cargo van. Our days of snowbirding are over for now as we have sold our northern home. Hopefully my solving will get back to par during next week.

Joaquin 7:23 AM  

Too bad the constructor didn't include the one phrase of this ilk that represents the current generation, the phrase they use so often online: "Your a maroon."

Colin 7:25 AM  

Happy New Month, everyone!
I am predicting OFL did not like this for either the theme or the fill. As with wine, I'm beginning to appreciate the nuances of these puzzles. (And...I was correct!)

This puzzle took me a while. Stuck in various areas, although I figured out the themer pretty quickly. Theme was cute, light, but OUTOFYOURGOURD is not familiar to me (OUTOFYOURMIND, yes; OUTOFTHISWORLD, yes; OUTOFYOURELEMENT, yes; OUTOFOPTIONS, maybe...).

"To Mr. Spock, during a Vulcan mind meld: You're"...OUTOFYOURMIND?
"To John Glenn, before he became a US Senator: You're"...OUTOFTHISWORLD?

BYA hair... I initially wrote BIG but that clearly didn't work. I was wondering what a "BYA" hair was for the longest time, until *click* (AHA!), a face-palm moment, "BY A hair." 111A and 81D (the constructor's favorites) were fine - I was just talking about target pistol competitions to someone yesterday, in fact - but TOES for "Things stuck in clogs" was even better, IMO. GAS ("Laughing matter?") was funny... I knew HAS (as in "Ha's") couldn't work. ANACIN rears its ugly (pained) head, again.

HOTDATE reminded me of the back-and-forth in When Harry Met Sally, when Sally declines dinner with Harry and he asks, "What have you got, a hot date?" - And she sheepishly says yes...

Hey listen, I always appreciate the efforts of every constructor. Thank you for this week's diversion, Sam!

Z 7:32 AM  

Between Rex and @Frantic Sloth my reaction has been pretty much covered. In honor of the polls on my favorite sports talk show:
Guy who calls Atlanta ATOWN?
Biggest Jerk Ever

Lolcat Lisa 7:54 AM  

Too clever by half.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

My desk calendar starts on Monday - so 67d would be WED.

pabloinnh 8:15 AM  

I don't remember this many writeovers in some time, as my first guesses are usually pretty good, but I sure had lots this AM. BLATHER for BLARNEY and SOY instead of OAT and GAG for GAS and on and on. I stopped thinking of the answers as puns and just thought of them as "You're (saying something), which made more sense to me.

But please, "El NINOS"? It's LOS, it has to be LOS, it can't be anything else, and putting it in a famous puzzle is stupid and wrong. There, I feel better.

This didn't take a terribly long time but it certainly felt like a terribly long time, so at least a valuable distraction, so thanks SE, I guess.

kps 8:27 AM  

Don’t we all have enough problems this morning without this puzzle....?
A town?
Out of your gourd? Halloween is coming? 1980 will return?
Darn tootin? Bugs Bunny?
Hot Date?

Alas...maybe next Sunday...

Unknown 8:46 AM  

I have a new game I play when reading comments. I scroll down until the author's name is hidden, read the comment, and then try to guess which commenter wrote it. I get about 1 in 10 right, but my top hit percentage is (obviously) Lewis. I love Lewis and his kind and thoughful remarks.

David 8:47 AM  

@chefwen, "oat milk" is actually oat water, as "almond milk" is almond water. It's just two of the vast array of products now called "milk" which is driving actual milk farmers mad because the sales of "milk products" gets skewed like crazy and they have no idea how much to invest in their farms from season to season.

Yeah. This puzzle? Nah, not much that hasn't been said except I couldn't figure out why there was such a wrong clue for "forgo" until I got to the clue for "said no" and figured the constructor or editor could't use one answer to clue another. Is that a rule? If so, does that rule allow saying no to equal giving something up? Don't you have to have something in order to give it up?

Oreos, of course. Petco, Anacin, some guy who played some guy in something, random time zone, random county, all manner of blarney, but I did like the final theme answer, so there's that.

Time to make the bagels. (Really, they need an 8 hour proof in the fridge before they can be boiled and baked.)

Rube 9:14 AM  

Best Sunday in recent memory. Pinot NOIR and BALONEy ruined the artistry of my pen and paper solve but so what.

Great clues like "things stuck in clogs" and "something to do with your buds". Theme was executed tightly.

And if you don't know STARR County or SHANYU, well too bad because every white space has two opportunities to be across and a down.

More like this please.

Rube 9:18 AM  

Right on Lewis. In other words, "Play it again Sam" perhaps?

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Starr County gained notoriety this summer (including an article in the NY Times) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They've had nearly 3,800 cases and 171 deaths in the county. Their case load appears to have peaked in September.

The county (like many rural counties in the U.S.) is medically under-served. The entire county has one hospital with about 50 beds, and prior to COVID-19, there was no ICU.

I suppose this puzzle was edited at about the time this was making the news cycle, but I agree there are better-known Starrs (Belle, Bart) that could have been used.

Carola 10:03 AM  

Me to constructor: "You're kidding." I expected a lot more wit and zing from him, or at least theme answers that all actually work. Nor did I find much joy elsewhere. For me, this one was a dud.

Ann Howell 10:11 AM  

The themers could have been more solid, but overall I didn't mind it. The "IN FOR IT NOW" answer got a little smile out of me, as I spent many years working in I.T. The only thing that caused me pain was confidently putting in PFLAG at 7A and spending several undue minutes trying to untangle that. Otherwise, an enjoyable pre-breakfast fill!

pmdm 10:18 AM  

My internet was out yesterday, giving no chance to complete a Saturday puzzle. And Sam's puzzles are always filled with entries way out of my comfort zone. Access came back, and I completed the Sunday puzzle.

I think in a way Frantic Sloth's first paragraph describes where I'm coming from. I could get through the slang etc. if I derived humor from the theme answers, but maybe it was too much of a slog to appreciate whatever humor might have been there for me to parse out. With such entries as HANGRY floating around, I was not a happy camper. And as far as the clues are concerned, I find many more obtuse than humorous.

At least Joaquin made me laugh.

In truth, I wish I could have as broad an interest as Lewis. Sadly, this puzzle demonstrates I do not.

Now on the yesterday's puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 10:27 AM  

@Lewis – re the "I.T." angle: it occurred to me too (see my post at 1:44) but that would mean changing the pronunciation of a word in the answer, which you don't have to do anywhere else. So I don't think that's the intent.

Richardf8 10:27 AM  

It’s what I get in my Iced Latte since Caribou stopped serving soy milk.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

I mildly enjoyed this puzzle, though it did feel very long, and I was able to finish it. But there were a number of things -- both theme and non-theme answers -- that felt really weird to me. First the non theme:

A-TOWN is ridiculous.

Which "spring" hours? Depending on the date, some are Standard and some are Daylight.

It's HORSEY or HORSIE, not HORSY. (This is really bad!!)

Why would you say BOOP when you poke me? Why would you poke me at all? I bruise easily and feel real pain, sometimes for days when I'm poked. SO DON'T POKE ME!!!!

And now for the theme answers:

If I'm "not addressed above", then I'm either SOMEWHERE ELSE or I'm not SOMEWHERE ELSE. But in what universe am I SOMETHING ELSE? This might have been clued: To a person who's not in the category "vegetable" or "mineral", "You're..."

IN FOR IT NOW: No, as a temp worker, you're in for another person, not for an "IT". Maybe this should have been clued as Someone substituting for another player in the game of Tag?

There's SOMETHING quite sloppy about the cluing in this puzzle.

Rube 11:01 AM  

I think the HORSY criticism is off. Horsey means like a horse. But by the clue, they are going for a babyish noun, not this other words what a toddler would call a horse or what the kid's baby talking parents would call it. And with that nuance I have no problem with HORSY

thefogman 11:02 AM  

Rex is bang on about with his comments about this puzzle with the exception of its relative difficulty. I found it to be medium challenging for a Sunday. The current NY Times crosswords editor has to go. Time for a change.

Virginia Lady 11:09 AM  

Yer darn tootin I loved the themers (said in my best Yosemite Sam voice)! Maybe it depends on where you grew up, but “you’re in for it now” was a very common phrase said to a recalcitrant child. I laughed out loud when I finally got “out of your gourd”, again familiar, but not heard in a long while. Someone should ask a University of Georgia student what they call Athens, because at Alabama they call their city T town.

What? 11:21 AM  

Time for a change, yes. Maybe Sam could take over.

Eprailick 11:25 AM  

A good reminder to all that it’s decorative gourd season:

Teedmn 11:29 AM  

I thought this was fun. The most spot-on themer for me was the first one I got: "You're MISSING THE POINT." MAKING ME BLUSH was really nice and OUT OF YOUR GOURD made me smile. IN FOR IT NOW, not as much.

42A's "Laughing matter?" was just too clever for me. Although hIOTTO looked totally wrong for an Italian name, I thought HAS (that's plural HA) was a laughing matter and I was really stuck on having a plural there so the better-looking GIOTTO was ignored. I got it finally when I got the "wrong" indicator and tried the G. AHA, laughing gas.

Speaking of AHA, the "Clicking sound?" clue was great, as was the clue for GREAT. Lots of good stuff here, I thought.

BLAthEr before BLARNEY was my most interesting write-over. The rest were due to the misdirections of Pinot and clef (noir, bass).

Sam Ezersky, thanks for a fun Sunday!

@Birchbark, HORSé is GRRREAT!

Frantic Sloth 11:57 AM  

@Pamela 109am FYI Sam Ezersky doesn't read the comments on Wordplay. He only does Twitter. It seems that in some "extreme" cases - such as the recent omission of a very common (and now totally forgotten) word from the Spelling Bee word list - Deb Amlen will notify him of the angry bee-ers.

@Birchbark 155am LOL! Unfortunately, I don't speak French, so I'm out of that particular, artsy-fartsy (artsé-fartsé?) loop.

@What? 1121am That's hilarious! And my worst fear. 😉

TJS 12:00 PM  

So Rex really doesn't like Sam, I guess. I can't be bothered to track his personal likes and dislikes re. constructors, but it all comes through loud and clear in his reviews.

I thought for a Sunday, this was entertaining enough. Once you get to "out of your gourd" you know the themers are not going to closely track the clues, so just work the crosses until a familiar phrase emerges. What's the problem?

This is a Sunday crossword, folks, not an op-ed arguing a specific point of view. Why not just enjoy the solve and not get frustrated by some arbitrary "rules" of construction ?

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

the MASTs on the Titanic, and I suspect on all ocean liners of the day, were used to string the wireless antenna wire between them.

I got the puns, and they made sense, but least of all the 76/98 one. they are puns after all, so the 'punny' word isn't going to make in situ sense.

amisner 12:11 PM  

Atlanta is Georgia's capital and is not referred to as Atown. Hotlanta, the ATL,the Big Peach, maybe, not Atown.

TJS 12:26 PM  

By the way, how could anyone read 26A: Home to Antilla, the world's most valuable private residence(27 floors, 2.2 billion) and think this "tells me nothing about the place" ? Only if you're really stretching for complaints.

You can Wiki it using the spelling Antilia. Has 6 floors for the families car collection plus one for the garage, "a floor dedicated to ice cream" which seems like a great idea, and a "snow room" that "spits out artifical snow flakes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week".

oceanjeremy 12:32 PM  

“You’re in for IT now.”

IT, like the IT department, the tech team.

And I’m aware, knowing this doesn’t really make this particular themer any more satisfying.

But the kid is 25, and this is his 30th puzzle in the NYTXW, so I’ll cut him some slack.

I did appreciate one of his own personal favorites on the grid: MARKSMAN (81D: Good-looking guy?)

oceanjeremy 12:38 PM  

My fiancée wrote in PHARR at first (we always solve weekend puzzles together), which it turns out is not a county but is a city on the Rio Grande.

I grew up in Texas (Dallas area) and she lived in Austin for eleven years as an adult.

Starr County was a big “Huh?” for both of us.

Guerin Wilkinson 12:39 PM  

YOU'RE IN IT FOR NOW makes perfect sense if you consider FOR NOW to be the opposite of FULL TIME

bocamp 12:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 12:53 PM  

I guess I'm just a little child at heart because I rather had fun with this. Maybe it's my mood; the sky is a bit clearer today, or maybe I just needed something completely puny to get me a-smiling.
I pretty much knew where Sam was going with his MAKING ME BLUSH thingie. When I lie, I turn red as a beet. My sister can look you in the eye and tell the biggest whopper you've ever heard, and not even blink. I even turn red when you ask me if your dress makes you look fat.
Love GOD SEND. My mom use to say that all the time. Everything that smelled good was sent by God. I also love Jason MOMOA. He's truly a GOD SEND. Just look at him! Who made him?
OUT OF YOUR GOURD was my favorite good smell. Who comes up with these? Do they make jack o lanterns out of turnips?
I was listening to NPR the other day and they were talking about YELP and how they have a system in place to detect genuine positive or negative experiences. It's interesting. They can detect fraud just by the words someone uses. HAH! That food sucked and I didn't leave a tip....CENSOR that little turd.

MDM 1:08 PM  

After scouring the Internet I still have to ask what does Kas in Kangaroo mean?

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

having watched Lenny Briscoe use his, mostly (except when it's necessary to to kill off a departing character/actor) sober living, to wheedle info or confession from a perp, all I could come up with was Bill W. which is also the only reference to AA I've heard any where else. crosses forced that out.

so, how many knew Dr. Bob from the clue?

bocamp 1:11 PM  

Perfect Sunday puzzle, @ Sam - thank you!

Ave. time; themers were somewhat of a challenge to parse, but that's the fun of it! And, they did help with the crosses, some of which were unknowns. Bottom line: interesting fill, "cheeky" themers, and fair crosses made for a lovely solving experience.

Unknowns (or… forgottens): "Our Song"; "hangry"; "A Town"; "Tama"; "isomorph"; "dove's-foot crane's-bill"; "gris"; "Ali"; "Shan Yu";
"Starr" County;

Ended with a blank cell at the "Al_" / "gr_s" cross; "i" or "y" seemed the only viable candidates and "i" was the hands-down winner. I now know the French word for "gray." LOL

ABBA - "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do"

Taylor Swift - "Our Song"

Much appreciation for Bob Smith ("Dr. Bob"), Bill Wilson and all those who helped get "AA" off the ground in 1935. I have immense respect for all 12 steps programs and for those who have found the courage to get themselves to the meetings and do the work. May your "higher power" bless you all!

Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

Tom R 1:22 PM  

"You're darn tootin', I like Fig Newtons!" Never actually heard the phrase used outside the commercial.

JC66 1:22 PM  


K as in Kangaroo.

RooMonster 1:35 PM  

Hey All !
Call me an easy mark, but I thought the themers were chuckle worthy. Some of the fill y'all've mentioned was a bit iffy, but that's in pretty much every puz. So, I'll be here in the lonely Liked It corner. ☺️

Only two writeovers, amazingly enough, noIr-GRIS, Lou-LEW (sorry, @Lewis!).

Thought Rex would blow a gasket at MARKSMAN clue and answer. Nary a BOOP. BYA was being read as one word, giving the ole brain fits. "What the hey is a BYA hair?!" Har. BY A hair, oohhhhhh.

Anyway, I ADMIRE this puz, even with its BOOHOOS. 😋

Five F's

TTrimble 1:37 PM  

Ah, well, of course it was Ezersky. My nemesis from SB. I started the puzzle last night but kept dozing off, so I put away the laptop and finished it this morning, with an attendant somewhat crap time.

Others (e.g., @Frantic, @Rex) have already captured my overriding feelings about the puzzle. A little ray of light for me however was ISOMORPH. This and "isomorphic" and "isomorphism" are words for concepts that permeate all of mathematics. Break down the Greek: ISO = same, MORPH = form. Two constructs in mathematics are isomorphic if there is a perfect structural correspondence between them, making them identical in form even if not literally the same.

Time for

---[SB Alert]---
-->> some spoilers ahead <<--

With yesterday's I'm probably going to give up, with two to go. Grrr... Favorite word not on that accepted list is "alembic". After all, the cleanest pangrams in SB are 7-letter ones, using each letter just once. And "becalm", I like that too -- why isn't that on the list? "Malacca" -- that's not too obscure either.

And today's: the perfectly prosaic crosswordese "adit" is not there. What gives? "Inanation" and "natation" should be there as well.

Instead we get BS like the recent "CALLALOO". Well, I'm always happy to learn a new word, but his word choices are frankly bizarre. I get a definite impression that Ezersky is into cookery and horticulture, and that this bias shows through very strongly in his daily choices. (I like to cook too, but West Indian cuisine is largely outside my zone, and that certainly applies to callaloo which doesn't look too appetizing.)

And he recycles puzzles. I'm pretty sure the recent HI_C_KORY is another example. Except that a new word will sneak its way in, like ICHOR. But the very worst sin is not having a word that used to be good. Look, Sam -- people study these words to be prepared for the next time they show up, so removing a word is just plain rude.

Today's: just got to the third pangram, and Genius on the second, but only about 3/4 done. We shall see.

Missed words from October 2: CODON, DONEE, DOYENNE, EDDY, YENNED. Well, I kick myself a little because EDDY of course is perfectly prosaic. And DONEE: I should have trained myself by now to look for those -EE words that pair with similar words that end in -OR or -ER. Similarly, I had DOYEN but didn't think to look for an extension. Kind of a cool-looking word. I'll forgive myself a little for missing CODON, a word I've certainly seen, but it's not that commonplace. And I'll forgive myself a lot for missing YENNED, which I didn't even know was a word. Hmmph.

Words missed from October 1: ECOTONE and TONTINE. Say what?

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Got snagged by the OTOE/MOMOA and SALA/AHA/SHANYU crosses - knew where I wanted to go, just didn't hit the right combination of letters. Otie? Otee? Otae? Mamoa? Sola? Oho? Shunyu? Not fond of the more recent Disney movie clues since my young one grew up so I don't watch them any more and just have general knowledge. Favored Shunyu since it would be a pun. But generally, I liked this puzzle a lot - with effort and patience, I could work out what I didn't know. The theme answers were get-able and they actually helped with the crosses. Mostly quite satisfying. - newbie

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Are you saying Buckingham Palace is not a private residence?
Also, I’m not sure you’re doing the building justice. Start with, it’s as ugly as sin.....

Cyclist227 1:54 PM  

I've gotten so bored with the Sunday NYTimes puzzle. I no longer look forward to it. I think the Atlantic and Washington Post puzzles are far superior. And the New Yorker weekly puzzles are also very good. Wish Will Shortz would hang it up.

bocamp 2:09 PM  

**** SB
ALERT ****

@ TTrimble 1:37 PM

**** Yesterday's SB Spoilers ****

Candidates for inclusion:

1) becalm
2) ceil
3) alec
4) iceball

Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

Unknown 2:10 PM  

I agree with Mr Parker
No fun in this Sunday puzzle
Nothing tied it all together
I had a wife 5 cheat factor
Then I had a 6 cheat factor
I asked her what was /is the theme

Pamela 2:12 PM  

@Frantic- Thanks! I guess that’s why Deb added the preferred (by her) address to send complaints:
I must say, even having already said I was moderately entertained by his offering, I was well aware that it was pretty far out in left field and held together extremely loosely, and chose to let Rex et al count the ways.

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

Hah! Got’im twice today. QB! I was determined to get there, especially since the puzzle today also illustrated the capriciousness of the editor. The last word to fall was, of all things, a 4 letter word, which I finally got through methodically slogging through all the possibilities until the Queen flew in.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Seven columns refers to a calendar grid. I didnt get it at first either.

sixtyni yogini 2:20 PM  

Boohoo 😭
Marksman 🎯
Something else ➕ what Rex said

Yeah, some cleverish puzz stuff 👍🏽🤗👍🏽
But did not enjoy ☹️ , wanted it to 🔚🔜
. 👎🏽😜👎🏽

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

People say "hangry" all the time, esp. parents describing young children. :The earliest known use of the word hangry was by Rebecca Camu in her short story A Splinter of Glass, published in 1992. The internet has popularized the use of the word hangry, which is an adjective. Becoming hangry is most probably due to a drop in glucose in the bloodstream when one is in need" from The Grammarist

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Totally agree about the Ninos! Clued as singular, di I was quite confused!

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Super common thing to forgo is dessert. You don't have it before you refuse it.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  


Anonymous 2:28 PM  


bocamp 2:29 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Pamela 2:12 PM


Just now starting 🤞

Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

@Tom R:
"You're darn tootin', I like Fig Newtons!" Never actually heard the phrase used outside the commercial.

Thou needst watch more Gabby Hayes westerns.

MDM 2:31 PM  

Thank you! The word “in” made it all make sense.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Yes! I do not understand all the griping about this one. It's very hard to be a temp, so "you're in for it now" makes perfect sense. Commiseration for a difficult role - I don't understand the problem others have for this. Now "[you're] darn tootin" on the other hand, is nothing one would ever say to a rude driver. Needs understood "quit" in front of understood "youre", so that doesn't work.

CDilly52 2:35 PM  

Gosh, I so rarely feel this way on a Sunday, but for me this was nothing special and not too difficult (other than HAIA and SHAN YU), and I really have nothing else to say.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

It's pretty weak. "K as in Kangaroo" (i.e. if you were spelling your email over the phone). Not "Kas" as a single syllable.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  


Anonymous 2:37 PM  

I'm in your corner!

jberg 2:38 PM  

@MDM—. K AS in kangaroo

jberg 2:43 PM  

I’m here late so will just say:

1) I did enjoy guessing the theme answers;

2) I’m now pondering why we say GODSEND but heaven sent.

3) Chiwere???

4) anyone else guess kUwait for that building?

old timer 2:50 PM  

Like @Lewis, I was impressed with the fill and the clever cluing, and was sure OFL would give it high ratings. Until I got to the second or third themer, and grimaced and scowled. They are weak and inane as @Rex and others have pointed out. Grrr, I snarl.

No toddler has ever asked for a HORSY. Always horsie or horsey, in the minds of a parent. OTOH, HORSY is a word commonly used in England to describe families in Berkshire, etc., the "Home Counties". The word immediately produces a picture of a rather SNOOTY couple, whose dress and accent can be immediately imagined by anyone who has lived in that part of the world. These are people who always sit in the Saloon Bar of their local pub.

It's not that EL NINOS should be "los niños", it's that El Niños are not a phenomenon of California weather, they are phenomena, plural.

TJS 3:00 PM  

Anon 1:51. I'm not sayin' nothin' about Buckingham Palace, but how'd you like to be sittin' home late at night and think, Let's go up to the ice cream floor ??

Oh and they have 600 people working in the place and the kids still have to clean there own rooms. Try that at the German Palace.

Z 3:02 PM  

@Anon1:09 - how many knew Dr. Bob from the clue? I had no idea. I think I had the second B and tried DR BOB as a likely overly familiar nickname.

@TJS - “Enough info to be googlable” is an interesting standard for clue quality. So “One of the Blue Wizards” is okay by you?

I agree that it can’t be I.T. because none of the other themers change from the original phrase in any way. Feels like people trying to make these theme answers better than the actually are.

You could look it up 3:14 PM  

Anonymous 2:24 - "El Niños" was not clued as singular, at least in the online version. Phenomena is plural. And since the term "El Niño" has been appropriated into the English language, it is not subject to Spanish grammar rules, so El Niños is the correct plural - in English.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

You called that dump in Calcutta the worlds most valuable private residence. I say Buckingham palace holds that distinction. By excluding all other residents, you implicitly speak of them.
And no thanks for a trip to the ice cream floor. Setting aside wasting anything on the sub continent, my first job was at a place that served ice cream. A lot of it. Any oldsters from Bucks County might remember it. The venerable Greenwood Dairies.

egsforbreakfast 3:38 PM  

Once again taking on a thankless and, probably hopeless, mission, I will explain how the themers work. There are a number of phrases which are idiomatically used in English that begin with “you are” or “you’re”, but which, nonetheless, are always understood to not be literally applicable to the addressee. Today’s constructor imagines a scenario for 6 of these phrases wherein each would, arguably, be literally applicable to the addressee. That is the source of the humor:

You’re making me blush. Generally this is not used when one is literally having a change of skin tone, but rather as a way of deferring praise. However, a cosmetician may literally be changing your skin tone.

You’re out of your gourd. When you say this to a person, you actually don’t mean anything having to do with a fleshy fruit with hard skin. However, this might be literally true of a produce vendor, hence the humor.

I say nice job to Sam Ezersky except for El NINOS, which belong in a lower circle of hell than your typical POC.

I won’t continue the pain of walking through these clue-by-clue. But the point is that the themers imagine situstions an idiomatic saying might
Be uttered with literal intent. Any deeper analysis and any nitpicking about whether an answer perfectly fits a clue just shows a lack of understanding of the puzzle.

Bill L. 3:45 PM  

@ Guerin (12:39 PM): 63A answer is IN FOR IT NOW, not in it for now. See @Joe Dipinto (1:44 AM).

Better, gruntz style (yo, M&A) clue for 96D: "Chin______", 1974 film

JamieP 4:00 PM  

Saw Brian Adams on the "Heaven" tour in the Broome County Arena circa 1983. That is all.

Unknown 4:08 PM  

Well, I'm always happy when I can finish the Sunday puzzle without 1.) cheating, or 2.) getting so annoyed at the overly clever for no good reason cluing, theme, or the number of sports-related fill that I simply can't enjoy the process. I was good with this puzzle. Actually enjoyed completing. Not too easy. Not to hard. And I liked the theme answers.

EdFromHackensack 4:51 PM  

finished 100% correct with no googling. The theme was a little weak but I enjoyed the puzzle. No need to fire Will over it. I mean, cmon. its a puzzle.

bocamp 5:11 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Pamela 2:12 PM

Wow! I'm even more impressed with your "QB" today! 🐝

I've struggled mightily to achieve -10 (picture mere drone here) LOL

Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

Frantic Sloth 5:22 PM  

@egsforbreakfast 338pm Well, thanks for clearing all that up! Now I can really appreciate the wizardry and genius I failed to grok before. 😂😂

Z 5:26 PM  

@Anon3:23 - It was Shortz and company that wrote “the worlds most valuable private residence” clue, not @TJS. I just checked and the clue is lifted right from the Wikipedia article on the building, so take that up with Shortz or Wikipedia. My guess is they’d both argue that Buckingham Palace is a “Crown property” so not a “private” residence. Again, take it up with them. Have to agree that it is one ugly building. I wonder how prominently the architects feature it in their portfolio. I’m sure they had no problem cashing the checks and probably had to solve some interesting technical issues, but ugly is ugly.

@egsforbreakfast - ...except for El NINOS, which belong in a lower circle of hell than your typical POC. 👍🏽 I get that, despite Spanish speakers objections, it’s correct in English, but POCs of borrowed foreign phrases definitely belong in the Rye Circle of Hell.

Qosmonaut 6:22 PM  

It's so late in the day, I wouldn't normally leave a comment, because I know no one will read it at this point. But I despised this crossword so much and I think Sam Ezersky did such a terrible job, that I just had to point out the inanity of this effort. Sorry Sam -- get another job. This is pathetic. You make me want to quit solving crosswords.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

Richard8 at 1:42 AM.

You beat me by a long shot there. First thing I thought when I read Rex about his county was sure I can, it's Broome. Doesn't everyone know that Binghamton is in Broome County? :)

RooMonster 7:25 PM  

From "Groundhog Day" movie
He's out of his gourd.

RooMonster Often Out Of His Gourd Guy

thefogman 7:54 PM  

@Qosmonaut: I blame the editor, not Sam, for repeatedly allowing poor-quality puzzles to get published in what used to be the greatest source of crosswords - The New York Times. Time for a change.

Crimson Devil 7:57 PM  

Quite a slog, mostly. Did enjoy IS, KINGS & QUEENS, and HAIR.
ALL, CLOGS, DIALING, NOTE, and especially ATOWN, not so much.
Comment re TTOWN appreciated. RTR.

A Moderator 8:39 PM  

Please don't include spoilers for today's SB in your posts.

bocamp 8:39 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****


Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

TTrimble 9:36 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Well, Pamela, congratulations are in order! It might be only you who gets to feast on the royal jelly today; I'm probably not going to beat my head over this one.

bocamp 10:29 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Pamela and @ TTrimble

I'll second the congrats, Pamela; what an effort! Well done, 🐝

TTrimble, I'm pretty well toast at -4, but gave it my best shot! Tomorrow's another day. 😊

Peace Śāntatā Paz صلح Paix 平和 🕊

ZenMonkey 1:25 AM  

I’m a little late, but just curious — did ADMIRE and ADMIRALS so close together bother anyone else?

TrampsLikeUs 1:17 PM  

NOBODY calls Atlanta Town. NOBODY

Unknown 7:43 PM  

Coming in way late as I was visiting A-Town over the weekend.

Completely agree with Rex on STARR. It's not that it's obscure, it's that there is no feeling of pleasure or even completeness when you get it from crosses. It just sits there.

Decent theme, but a choppy, stop-and-start solve.

Greg 7:49 PM  

OTOE/MOMOA/COSTA is quite the clump of arbitrary vowel crossings.

Joe 4:03 PM  

A slog. not much fun.

Treesong 9:43 PM  

I was troubled by 'good-looking guy' = marksman, because what makes a marksman is not looking or taking a good look, but aiming, and were it otherwise a marksman would be a 'well-looking' (well, 'looking-well') guy. So I thought I'd see what others thought and Googled myself to here.
I was gobsmacked by the negativity.
Some people seem to be offended by the thought that they might learn anything from a crossword. I wouldn't expect anyone to know that 26Ac, 'Home to ... the world's most valuable private residence', is 'Mumbai', but it's not hard to get if you have three or four of the downs, and when you get it you've learned a little something interesting. 'Hangry' strikes me as rather artificial but it seems it's here to stay, might as well get used to it.
Likewise, what's the big deal about 'A-Town' for Atlanta GA? Most people should get it fairly easily from A_OWN in the crossings, it's easy to understand even if you don't know it, and it doesn't seem to be all that rare; Googling gets 7,120,000 results, most of them surely with the phrase 'a town', but 18 of the first 20 mention one of A Town Wings, the A-Town Breakers, 'Chi Town in A Town' (a Meetup group), A-Town Appliances, 'the A-Town A-List' (a band), and A-Town Sports.
Other grumps at grumpers: in 'anyone not addressed', 'addressed' means 'spoken to', not 'written to'. 'El Niño' (capitalized) is an English term and the only correct English plural is 'El Niños'. Google and the first 20 hits will show you that Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster, and National Geographic agree. Also *Nature*. On 'boop' for a poke sound: this is mostly used to annoy babies, most often on a button nose. Some people were bothered by 'you're out of your gourd' ('out of one's gourd' is under 'gourd' in Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate) and 'darn tootin'' ('toot' = 'tell the truth' is in M-W's 3rd International Dictionary); all I can say is that I've been familiar with both for most of my 71 years, and get off my lawn!
Other thoughts: the theme entries may be a little loose but I liked the idea and the execution, particularly 76/98. Also liked 60Ac, 72Ac, 87Ac, 95Ac, 111Ac, 114Ac, 6Dn, 17Dn, 32Dn, 50Dn, and 105Dn.

Unknown 4:19 PM  

I struggled much more than usual. I agree with Rex the theme answers were misleading. Out of your GOURD means crazy. The blush clue had no sentiment of embarrassment. Only the crosses really helped fill me in.

Good looking guy could have been way better than MARKSMAN. I figured it was along those lines but too tangential. Wtf is a SKI AREA?

I deal with Texas at work and heard of STARR but didn't know it was on the border.

TREE diagram and not VENN. How clever...

It didn't help that I knew about zero trivia answers either. Very unfun puzzle. And I usually do fine on midweek difficulty. Ugh.

Mr Abdullah Ibrahim 6:12 PM  

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Burma Shave 12:26 PM  


with TWO NURSES could


rondo 12:36 PM  

Well, I finished it, correctly I think, but why? Maybe I shouldn't start at 3:00 a.m. half drunk. It's not wacky and many of the clues were SOMETHINGELSE. Am I MISSINGTHEPOINT?
Infamous quote: Katie Couric on DIANE Sawyer: ‘I Wonder Who She Blew This Time’. Yeah baby.
Sunday funday? You're OUTOFYOURGOURD.

Diana, LIW 5:59 PM  

You're not kidding - right? Not hard/easy. Just Sunday.

Lady Di

Unknown 4:24 AM  

I enjoyed it, after a few tougher Sunday puzzles lately. The theme answers may not have been very closely connected but the puns really made me smile and I loved hangry, is = equals (I SO wanted to make exists fit),blarney, my car into camry, and "something else".

Beatie 2:22 PM  

From Tallman Tim: Maybe the IT stands for "information technology" in the ÿou're in for it...."

Late to the puzz 11:35 PM  

The capital of Georgia is, of course, Tbilisi, so that clue didn’t help much.

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