Italian automotive hub / SUN 11-8-20 / Word capital established in 1535 / Marauder of old / Farm-to-table consumer / Starting piece on a1 or h8, say

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Constructor: Caitlin Reid and Evan Kalish

Relative difficulty: Medium (10-something)

THEME: "Wait, What?" — in theme answers, long a sound (as in "wait") is changed to short u sound (as in "what"), with wacky results:

Theme answers:
  • "YOU GOT THAT STRUT!" (22A: Compliment to a runway model?)
  • CUSS SENSITIVE (31A: Easily offended by foul language?)
  • "WHY THE LONG FUSS?" (45A: Question to a tantrum thrower?)
  • "RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK" (63A: Relics proving how Noah steered his boat?)
  • LOADED THE BUSES (83A: Prepared for a field trip?)
  • MUCK-UP ARTISTS (95A: Masters of slapstick?)
  • THE NUMB OF THE GUM (109A: Title for an oral surgeon's handbook?)
Word of the Day: KEGELS (67D: Pelvic exercises) —

Kegel exercise, also known as pelvic-floor exercise, involves repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Kegel muscles". The exercise can be performed multiple times each day, for several minutes at a time, but takes one to three months to begin to have an effect.

Kegel exercises aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles have many functions within the human body. In women, they are responsible for: holding up the bladder, preventing urinary stress incontinence (especially after childbirth), vaginal and uterine prolapse. In men, these muscles are responsible for: urinary continence, fecal continence, and ejaculation. Several tools exist to help with these exercises, although various studies debate the relative effectiveness of different tools versus traditional exercises.

The American gynecologist Arnold Kegel first published a description of such exercises in 1948. (wikipedia)

• • •

I want to apologize to those of you who read me only on Sunday. Well, not apologize ... but I do feel bad, as I realized today that I haven't actually *enjoyed* a Sunday puzzle since something like August. I enjoy puzzles every week. Mondays and Thursdays and especially Fridays and most of the time Saturdays, these are reasonably frequent sources of joy for me. But some people just do the Sunday, the big one, the marquee puzzle ... which also happens to be, without a doubt, the weakest day the puzzle has to offer. This is, of course, totally upside-down, as it's the puzzle with the most hype, the one people have heard of (and erroneously think is the most difficult). But man it's like they can't find anyone to come up with themes of genuine cleverness and wit and interest, that are fun to solve, that aren't in some way tedious. I feel like the puzzle veers wildly between "stunt puzzle / architectural feat that hurts to solve" and "wacky sound-change theme from 1995," more or less. Today, we get the latter. The wacky results are just corny / groany. I guess THE NUMB OF THE GUM, with its double sound change, is supposed to be some great exclamation point on the whole thing, and it's arguably the best of the lot, but the lot ... is not best. Be best! (LOL, how were the last four years real?)

I don't know when I "got" the theme but there was no aha moment, more just a dawning semi-realization. I honestly had no idea At All that YOU GOT THAT STRUT was a sound-change pun, as "you got that straight!" sounds so wrong to me. "You got *that* right!" yes. "Damn straight!" yes. "You got that straight!" ... er ... maybe? Still, the puzzle was basically easy until I got to the SW corner, where MUCK-UP ARTISTS stayed hidden forever. Just couldn't parse it, *and*, for some reason, nearly every cross made me cock my head like "what?" Couldn't come up with KAFKA from that clue (96D: "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" is the last short story he wrote), had ACHES before LUSTS (92D: Yearns (for)), no idea about RECIPE (74D: Instruction for a course?), no idea about IONIC (98D: Kind of chemical bond in salts), had PLUCK instead of SPUNK (99D: Vivacious quality) ... and then I had trouble with ACCEDE (80A: Relent), and LIMA (92A: World capital established in 1535), and HOPE (words inside long quotations—never easy for me) (102A: "To live without ___ is to cease to live": Dostoyevsky). MUCK-UP ARTISTS feels like a pretty bad theme violation, in that you've got an extra short u sound there that *isn't* part of a sound change. Unpretty. Inelegant. Clunky. Gotta stop writing now and get back to watching people celebrate! See you tomorrow!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:13 AM  

I didn't mind taking my time and going through the sections until I got the Happy Tone, since there isn't much to do anyway nowadays. Woke up a little later than usual and had 9 texts about the Biden/Harris win projection, so that made my day too. Good, solid, Sunday puzzle.

SaltySolver 12:16 AM  

Didn't really "get" the theme other than trying to be cute until Rex explained the title switching the hard a and u sound. Feels like that might be going over a lot of heads, but maybe that's just me.

Thoroughly mediocre on the enjoyment index; rough week all-in-all with Thurs being the standout for me.

A Asner 12:30 AM  

I hate SPUNK!

jae 12:44 AM  

Medium. Pretty cute Sunday, liked it more than @Rex did.

@chefwen - Hi Wendy, my granddaughter (center of my blog pic) and her boyfriend will be visiting Kauai for a couple of weeks this month and I was wondering if you had dining recommendations. I thought I had your email but it’s an .rr address that doesn’t seem to work anymore. I believe you still have mine?

bocamp 12:48 AM  

@Evan / @Caitlin, thank you both for the challenge. The clueing was clever, as was the theme. Most enjoyable! :)

Ave. time, above ave. brain activity.

Blunders: "evokes" for "educes"; "hems" for "hahs"; "Olympia" for "Olympus"; "local---" for "locav---". Got'em all worked out eventually.

New: "Axel Foley"; "malbec & syrah"; "Maya Rudolph"; "kegels"; "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"; didn't know that the "NEA" sponsored the Vietnam Veterans Memorial design competition. Bless the "NEA" and all the Vets who served in Nam. ๐Ÿ™

Side eye: always want "busses"; looks like "buses" is by far the preferred.

Fav. clues/answers: 57A "gal pal"; 68A "sue"; 118A "fireworks"; 29D "willing subject"; 32D "eras"; 48D "felt sad"; 50D "brat"; 54D "hookahs"; 74D "recipe"; 82D "cha ching"; 83D "liar"; 84D "dims"; 94D "bootee"; 106D "dunk".

Skeet": worked at the local gun club in h.s.; loaded traps with clay pigeons in the traphouse; worked up to scorer, where occasionally a competitor would allow me to shoot after the event was concluded.

Little "Deuce" Coupe The Beach Boys

"Dunk"ed golf balls, tennis balls and volleyballs, but could never get the basketball to go down; always off the back rim. Hand not large enough to palm the ball while in the air. The alley-oop pass was not a thing back in the day, so couldn't try that method. :(

y.d. -3 :(

Peace ๅนณๅ’Œ Paix ืฉָׁืœื•ֹื Paz ฮตฮนฯฮฎฮฝฮท Frieden Salam Pace Maluhia ๐Ÿ•Š

chefwen 1:40 AM  

That was fun once I figured out what they were after, just took me way to long. I think I was pretty well close to the bottom before the light bulb flickered on.

I know you don’t read us, but RECIPE is an instruction on how to cook a course for dinner, lunch etc.

Really wanted wine for 102A

Kasi 1:49 AM  

I completely agree with you on the Sunday vs. the rest of the week comparison. I got 63A first but instead of feeling joy for getting the long theme entry I just thought: "ugh, cheesy wordplay on a Sunday again!?!?"

tim 2:08 AM  

"So let me get this straight" = a thing people say.
"Let's get one thing straight" = also a thing people say
"You got that straight" ≠ a thing anyone's ever said. It's just not an idiom, at all.

Introducing a theme with a clue/answer that's a bad, feeble, or confusing example of that theme seems like poor construction.

Brian 5:03 AM  

As Rex says: "MUCK-UP ARTISTS feels like a pretty bad theme violation ... Unpretty. Inelegant. Clunky."


Unknown 6:43 AM  

the only thing that gave me joy was the answer to 'one needing new, unburned pants'. that was lovely.

ChuckD 7:26 AM  

The theme idea sounds like it could be elegant - but the end result is far from it. May just be me - but the themers were all flat and provided no sparkle at all. That said - the remaining fill is even worse. A combination of short gluey stuff due to oddly placed black squares and too many _____ fill in the blank could be anything/who cares clues.

I did like Willing subject for ESTATE and the MOHAIR, OLYMPUS stack.

I’m assuming that Sunday’s are not easy to construct. Normally we’ll get a good theme/poor fill combo or the opposite just so the solve is at least semi enjoyable. This one does not check either box. Not a great way to end a happy week.

CS 7:33 AM  

I did the entire puzzle without quite getting the explanation (just figured it was a switch of vowels). It wasn't that fun, even though I usually quite enjoy Sundays, unlike Rex.
On the plus side, snaps to the constructors for including fresh clues and names.

Happy day everyone!

-- CS

Hungry Mother 7:36 AM  

Kinda slow today. The theme was fun and helpful, but I had to slog my way through. Nice clue for ESTATE; it was the last to fall.

Colin 7:52 AM  

Wฤt, hwฦt?

schwa (ฦ)– the unstressed, central vowel sound of most unstressed syllables in English; neutralized sound of a in ago, e in agent, i in sanity, etc.

The "Wait, what?" theme took me back to learning about the schwa in elementary school. Never could quite figure out the difference between a schwa and a short u sound, although this Webster's definition tells me a schwa is much more than just the "uh".

I'm one of the only-Sunday folks, and I get Rex's WOE. But I still enjoy these thoroughly. "RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK" was funny; I actually didn't like "THE NUMB OF THE GUM" as much, since there were two changes, different from the other themers. Took me absolutely forever to figure out the "unburned pants" clue, then it was "aha!" but only when I had "LIA_" to solve (!). Do-overs: Initially had "AAA" for drivers' org., since you can "slice" it any which way and still come up with AAA; "PRIX" fixe instead of IDEE fixe; "SOS" as something to do for recovery.

Apropos to the events of this week, and no matter whom you voted for:
Mr. President-elect, YOU GOT THAT STRUT, as you promise to right the RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Mr. President, we get WHY THE LONG FUSS. You LOADED THE BUSES at your rallies and denied you were MUCK-UP ARTISTS; careful you don't get THE NUMB OF THE GUM by yelling too for too long.

Be safe and well, all.

ncmathsadist 8:05 AM  


pmdm 8:11 AM  

Some people respond positively to puns (as do I) and some do not. Mike Sharp clearly does not, which is fine. Jeff Chen responds positively, which is also fine.

Perhaps soe of the problem might derive from different rules enforced by Mr. Shortz from those in place during the Maleska Era. Quote and tribute puzzles are more rare (but have not completely disappeared, although the step quote puzzles have). If I were to try to construct a puzzle, I imagine my first attempts would be word play puzzles. Not exactly a cup of tea for all solvers.

I can be annoyed by the amount of PPP and contemporary slang in the puzzles. For that I would fault Shortz. But in general I fault those who construct the puzzles, who sadly don't seem come up to the standards of, say, Berry. While he avoided the thematic problem by constructing mostly themeless puzzles, he was quite skilled at constructing puzzles devoid of dreck. And for me, avoiding dreck is the NAME OF THE GAME.

Sometimes when I read things that appear in this blog, I wonder if solvers really get enjoyment from solving. Of course, some do. But I sometimes get the feeling that their enjoyment involves not solving but their response to the entries found in the grid. Gee, only about 5% of the people enjoy classical music and only about 5% of the people enjoy jazz (based upon what I've read), and both genres include great music. Maybe great crosswords should be enjoyed by only 5% of the solvers.

[I did not write the previous paragraph because I believe what it seems to say. I only seek to obliquely express how silly I find some of the arguments I read here.]

kitshef 8:22 AM  

Is "you got that straight" a phrase? Does MUCK UP imply slapstick by some means? Two flawed themers out of seven is a problem.

Fortunately, most of the fill and cluing was pretty good today, so I had a good time. I liked the double chin in the SW. And REALLY liked THE NUMB OF THE GUM.

SERENA slam, like “Tiger slam”, is dumb. When Navratilova won the French in ’84, her fourth in a row, no one called it a “Martina slam”. When Graf won the Australian in ’94, no one called it a “Steffi slam”.

pabloinnh 8:22 AM  

Suspicions of a vowel shift at YOUGOTTHATSTRUT, which I agree sounds off, confirmed by CUSSSENSITIVE, which I, at least, found pretty clever. After that it was a matter of trying to get the themers with the least amount of information, which was fun enough.

Have we seen this kind of stuff before? Sure. So what? If it was OK once upon a time, not sure why it is now disqualified. Personal opinion, of course.

Today's eyesight related holdup was the very last Down. "Partner of ham"? Three letters? EGGS clearly did not fit. Ham and jam? Did the biblical Ham have a brother? A wife? Some day I'll stop trying to think of ridiculous answers and see if I just misread the clue, but alas, that day is not today.

Today is a day for celebration, although our church organist/choir director was discouraged from using the Hallelujah Chorus anywhere during our (virtual) service, as it could be seen as evidence of gloating. I'm gloating anyway.

Thanks to EK and CR for a solid Sunday. Ain't nothing gonna harsh my mellow today.

Canesbr 8:24 AM  


Joaquin 8:27 AM  

@Tim (2:08) - Maybe, and I admit it's a longshot, but maybe someone, somewhere once said, "You got that straight," when helping hang some art.

Or maybe it's what you say to Michelle Bachman's husband after he has treated someone at his clinic.

Charles Flaster 8:29 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex.
Too many inconsistencies with one write over—-
Learned JACKANAPES and KEGELS ( do them daily ; known as pelvic tilts).
Bocamp — exactly my “dunking” capabilities— small hands. I’m talking pre- 24 second clock. Great days.
Thanks EK and CR

kitshef 8:29 AM  

PS 0 I've mentioned before I don't read the puzzle titles. So until I read Rex, I did not realize the HUGE flaw in today's. The sound of the 'a' in 'what' is not the same as the sound of the 'u' in any of the themers. I can't believe Rex did not mention this.

KnittyContessa 8:48 AM  

I finished the puzzle with no idea what the theme was. I found all the themers boring. Nothing particularly witty or clever. I had yUCKUPARTISTS for the longest time.

The one bright spot was SPUNK. I will always think of the classic Lou Grant/Mary scene when I hear that word.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Thought this was, overall, a weak "theme" - not really much of a theme at all, IMO. I only "got" the theme after reading Rex's comments. For "Masters of slapstick?" I originally had "Puck up artists" (which makes sense if you think about hockey sticks) ... but "puck up" seemed very close to the acceptable edge, especially for a SUNDAY!

When I got "rudders of the lost ark" I thought maybe they were doing some word-play with MOVIE titles, but no...

Got LOAD before LADE.

I did like a lot of the non-theme cluing, like "4th order?" for "fireworks."

Z 9:07 AM  

I like the idea and a couple of the themers, but again I say if you’re going for wacky please go big or go home. If the clue for MUCK-UP ARTIST got a guffaw nobody would notice the infelicitous schwa. But the clue doesn’t quite hit and we’re thinking about it too long and we all notice that unchanged schwa rather than chuckle.

There were several highlights today, LIAR getting the biggest “well that’s timely” smile (hi @unknown6:43), but also the rap artists loving BEETS (hi @chefbea) and CARY Elwes (just thinking about The Princess Bride makes me smile) and FIREWORKS. Of the themers it’s a close race between CUSS SENSITIVE and THE NUMB IF THE GUM for my favorites. YOU GOT THAT STRUT seems like more of a real phrase than YOU GOT THAT STRAIGHT, but the base phrase has Seinfeld immunity so I guess it’s hard to argue that “nobody ever says it.” (BTW - Not a Seinfeld expert, that was the top hit when I googled)

@pmdm - I’m sure it’s not original to him, but Tolkien elides past the good times the Hobbits have in Rivendell and justifies it by saying that good times just aren’t as interesting to read about as bad times. I do crosswords because I enjoy crosswords. I like some more than others, but I know my comments tend towards a puzzle’s faults.

@bocamp - My mnemonic is that it takes two to buss so it gets two S’s but a bus has only one driver so gets one S.

Carola 9:09 AM  

Medium, thought it was cute. I got the idea with "straight"-->STRUT and had fun trying to anticipate the rest. For me, CUSS-SENSITIVE won on wit and THE NUMB OF THE GUM on aptness, as it really is the name of the game when you're at the mercy of an endodontist. I had doubts about the MUCK-UP ARTISTS, as I think of slapstick involving more yucking things up than MUCKing. I also wasn't sure about those RUDDERS, as I don't recall the ARK needing more than one, built under divine instruction as it was. However, their cross with Mt. OLYMPUS, rather than Ararat, perhaps indicates a defective unit requiring replacement.

Z 9:13 AM  

@kitshef8:29 - Uh, vowel sounds are notoriously iffy and regionally mutable, but they are all the same schwa to me - “uh.”

Frayed Knot 9:16 AM  

Like @ chefwen I wanted wine for 102A but my first thought was vodka.

Phaedrus 9:26 AM  

Kramer (from Seinfeld) used to say, “You got that straight!”

noreen 9:33 AM  

I don't get 118a, fourth order == fireworks. Can anyone help?

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Hey All !
Couldn't figure out the theme, further signs of a downgrading brain. A few of the themers had "ace" changed to "us", so was looking at that angle for a bit. But that only worked three times. So just continued solving, figuring I would eventually suss out the theme. Never happened. Oh well, at least when I put my last letter in, I got the Happy Music! 100% correct!

Got stuck in a few spots, and everytime I checked a cross, it seemed I ran into a "?" clue. Dang.

I see SMARTTV/VNECK cross as maybe problematic for some. I also see the cross of KINKS/LUSTS. 12 year old teehees. With SPUNK a few spaces away.

Steffi GRAF, very nice person. I drove her and her hubby, Andre Aggasi a few times to events/airport. Nice, normal people. I believe three kids? Might be four. The kids are nice, too!

Not to name drop more... but, the other day I drove Shaq to the airport. You don't really realize how big he is until you're right next to him!

Anyway, turned out to be a quicker solve for me at 40 minutes. If I stay within the 3x - 4x Rexes, I think that's pretty good. YMMV. Har.

Eight F's :-)

Z 9:40 AM  

@Noreen - On the 4th of July you might order some FIREWORKS.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

These themers must have been fun to think up. I know they were fun to fill in. And I'm wondering if an especially unpleasant trip to the dentist sparked the what turned out to be the seed entry? Because THE NUMB OF THE GUM is the highlight here.

But I liked this puzzle just as much for what wasn't there as for what was. Seldom have I seen a puzzle with fewer proper names, and certainly not on a Sunday. This is how it's done really well, everyone. Flummox solvers -- assuming you flummox them at all -- with wordplay and clever cluing, not with obscure, ephemeral names that will be unfair to many people.

The clue that baffled me for the longest was "4th order" for FIREWORKS. (Terrific clue). I also had SOBS before ROTS for "breaks down". And my grid's a hot mess at 58D, where I first had PrISON, then POIrOt and finally POISON.

KAFKA really surprised me when it came in at 96D. That title really doesn't sound all that Kafkaesque, does it? To me, it sounded more AESOPian or SEUSSian or CARROLLesque. Even POTTERish, as in Beatrix, not Harry.

I would fain say that this was fun!

Joe Welling 9:46 AM  

A quibble: ORO and El Dorado are cognates. It's like cluing GOLD with "Golden City treasure."

Pamela 9:47 AM  

Laughed out loud at RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and got the theme. I have no problem with corny, obviously. LIAR was fun, too, but only because all that feels so... yesterday.

I got the news yesterday via the horn-honking, pot- banging, whistle- blowing and all the rest of the exuberant NYC expressions of glee. Still in the afterglow.

@pabloinnh- thanks for the phrase of the day: Ain't nothing gonna harsh my mellow today.

kjvg 9:48 AM  

Why is CHI the answer to the clue “X” ???

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I liked this puzzle, thought many clues were creative and clever and made me smile.

Nancy 10:05 AM  

I completely forgot to mention LIAR. That baffled me at first, too, and is the best, funniest and most timely clue in the puzzle.

@kitshef (8:22) -- I don't know what you'll make of this, but that is exactly the way I say "what". So the wordplay works perfectly for me.

Also, @kitshef -- the SERENA SLAM is so named because Serena won all four titles back-to-back, but not in the same calendar year. Is that also true for Martina and Steffi. I don't know the answer; I'll take your word for it if that's true for them, too.

Lisa puzzle lady 10:09 AM  

July 4th = fireworks

Colin 10:17 AM  

@kjvg, 9:48 AM: X is the Greek letter chi. Probably the most commonly-seen form of this is the symbol of the "P" (Greek rho) with "X" (Greek chi) superimposed on the lower vertical part of the P - this is the "Chi Rho" - an early Christogram, or symbol for Christ.

Colin 10:22 AM  

@Nancy, 10:05 AM: Martina and Steffi both won "real" Grand Slams, i.e., all four Grand Slam titles within one calendar year. That's why the "Serena Slam" is, well, asterisked, though of course still notable. And why we do not refer to a "Martina Slam" or a "Steffi Slam."

ChuckD 10:29 AM  

@Colin - yes and similarly in golf we have the Tiger slam. Achievements in their own right - but as you imply not the real deal.

Barrowpeople 10:37 AM  

How did they not at least title it "Wait, wut?" which would give a touch of cultural currency and actually reflect the sound change?

Sixthstone 10:42 AM  

This started off well for your resident sot, with ON TAP followed by a couple of nice REDS, some HOOKAHS, and a CHASER. An apropos party given the circumstances!

As many have noted the highlight of the puzzle was the LIAR clue, which says all that you need to know about the theme. It certainly won the duh..., er day.

Sami 10:44 AM  

@Colin Serena has 23 Grand Slam Titles, Steffi has 22 and Martina has 18. Maybe that is why?

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Rex, kitshef, Joaquin ( maybe more, I couldn’t take the comments any more)

Yeah, you got that straight is a phrase. It’s so obscure that the most popular character on the most popular sitcom of a decade used it in one of the series most beloved bits of silliness.
I speak of Kramer who in the episode called Fusile Jerry, who mistakenly gets license plates that’s say Assman.
When a car passes him and the driver yells “hey, the Assman’s in town”
Kramer happily responds, “You got that straight!”

GILL I. 10:51 AM  

Nothing can wipe this goofy smile off my face. My FB headline yesterday was HALLE FRICKIN LUJAH. Hi @pablo.
I cut my teeth on Sunday NYT puzzles. They were the only ones I did. I'd take the entire paper to Central Park and sit under an unoccupied tree, eat a deli sandwich, sip my coke and pray for the fun to begin. It would take me all day but it was the highlight of my Sundays. I don't sit under any trees these days but I still find some joy in them. Today it was the sound change puns. I love puns. The only sound change joke I know: What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta. Go ahead, laugh......I already want one of @chefwen's wine....
LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Ooooh cuteness . I loved that clue. So appropriate for he that will no longer STRUT.
I finally got the sound change at WHY THE LONG FUSS and let out a little sound of glee. I'm easily entertained. And, like @Nancy, was thankful for the fewer proper names.
After I finish a puzzle, I go sniffing around for some memories. Whether it be food or a place visited...something . Today it was SKEET. My Dad was an avid hunter. He taught me at a very young age how to handle a rifle and a shotgun. He also taught me that if I ever did hunt it was to eat the animal I shot. Well, I couldn't. Never could eat Bambi nor Thumper. He knew that so he took me to his firing range and taught me SKEET. I started out with clay pigeons and moved on to the "big boys" sport. I loved it. I was good at spinning around and figuring out where to fire my shotgun to break up the clays. No dead animals involved. I still feel guilty when I eat a little bacon now and then.
My daughter and granddaughter are coming over for some celebrating fun. Brunch with champagne at 11:00.

thefogman 10:56 AM  

MUCK-UP ARTISTS feels like a pretty bad theme violation, in that you've got an extra short u sound there that *isn't* part of a sound change. Unpretty. Inelegant. Clunky. Gotta stop writing now and get back to watching people celebrate! See you tomorrow!

Rex is spot on. I was just saying how it’s been forever since we’ve had a really good Sunday crossword. That and constant slip ups like the above quoted theme violation are signs it’s time for a new editor. One who can Make The New York Times Crossword Great Again. Can MTNYTCGA fit on a ball cap?

Anoa Bob 11:03 AM  

I remember "You got that straight!" from my Navy days, but that was long ago in the previous century so I'm not surprised that it was unfamiliar to some of yous. It just meant "You got that right", and was sometimes kicked up a notch by adding "Jack" at the end. It was usually said as a sign of enthusiastic agreement such as when "I think the Executive Officer is a real dickhead!" was followed by "You got that straight, Jack!".

The clue for 41D CLEARLY "Needless to say" seems paradoxical in a way. It's usually followed by whatever it was that didn't need saying. If there's no need to say it, why go ahead and say it anyway?

The clue for 55A WIPE brought out my inner 14-year old. When I read "Wet-Nap, for one" I wondered if it was a quicker version of a wet dream, a sort of nooner for one.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

What am i not understanding with BRAT, being hard to sit for? Hard to sit for an annoying child? Hard to sit for a bratwurst?

Ali 11:07 AM  

Hated this puzzle.

Teedmn 11:11 AM  

THE NUMB OF THE GUM is the only theme answer that hit my funny bone though RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK is nice, with the ARK being different from the movie title's reference.

I missed the ? at the end of 118A's clue the first four times I read it, so FIREWORKS as 4th order was a head scratcher, until it hit me like a Roman candle. Nice.

The top center almost ELUDEd me, what with Dev and Caicos being unknowns to me. I finally cobbled together ALTOS and STRUT for the finish.

CUrse before CUSS had me trying to parse cayrse as a word.

I first interpreted 79As clue, "Driver's org., no matter how you slice it?" as referring to AAA, because it's an A, any way you slice it. Ahem, golf!

Evan and Caitlin, thanks for the Sunday puzzle.

Birchbark 11:14 AM  

CAPUCHIN was tough. I hadn't seen it in either context. Of the CAPUCHIN order of monks, Wikipedia says: "The Capuchins arose in 1525 with the purpose of returning to a more strict observance of the rule established by Francis of Assisi in 1209."

So it looks like they join in the recurring cycle of strict observance --> moderation --> opulence --> strict observance, etc. that seems the structure of monastic history. The rule of St. Benedict, for its simplicity and goodness, over time was a massive revenue generator, and the order appeared to drift away from the original ideal. Austerity in different forms (Bernard of Clairvaux/Cistercians --> Trappists, St. Francis/Friars Minor) emerges and has a purgative effect for a while, then on some level follows the same path. The CAPUCHINs look like a Renaissance version.

It is more complex. The orders cycle themselves from within. And of course the different orders coexist throughout. If you've read the "Name of the Rose" or seen the movie (set in the early 14th c.), the scene comes to mind where the Dominicans and Franciscans descend from debate into a street brawl as their Benedictine hosts try to mediate. The question that starts the fracas is whether Christ owned his clothes.

As for the monkeys, they're just plain funny looking.

Anoa Bob 11:27 AM  

After I posted the above comment I went to YouTube to see what suggestions they had for me today. One immediately stood out, what with some of yous citing Cosmo Kramer's (of the Seinfeld show) rendition of "You got that straight" and the last themer THE NUMB OF THE GUM. Here 'tis: Kramer's loaded on novocaine.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

X is the glyph commonly used when real Greek glyphs aren't available for the Greek letter chi.

RooMonster 11:38 AM  

@Anoa Bob
Har. Needless to say...
I also don't like "This person who needs no introduction". Well, you just gave them one. I'd like to see/hear someone say that, and then just leave the podium!

Other strangeness? Unthaw. Mistakenly said for thaw. Unthaw would be refreeze, no?

NonP G, can't seem to find the P.

RooMonster Nitty Guy

Preferred Customer 11:46 AM  

If it's in tiny letters. I like it!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Difficult to babysit for

sixtyni yogini 11:50 AM  

Not sure I’m going to finish this. Too much relieved, grateful, and happy energy.
Can’t concentrate so it’s annoying to not get answer immediately. It may be a good puzzle but mood says it’s no fun. ๐Ÿ˜‚
Now I will read others replies.

Newboy 11:51 AM  

I’d like to say, “Sundays that keep veteran solvers entertained from start to finish don't come often.” But to do so would plagiarize Jeff on that other blog. Today’s collaboration, however, did just that. Only that small SW section around Dame Christie’s clue gave pause. RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK was absolutely brilliant by any standard (yes I do recall that not all solver enjoy puns....but still). Great to be able to actually enjoy a Sunday solve instead of slogging along as too often the case.

Z 11:53 AM  

@Anon11:04 - You’re almost there. It would be hard to babysit for a BRAT.

@Birchbark - the CAPUCHIN brothers do some good work in Detroit, and I remember thinking it weird that they were named for monkeys, so right in my wheelhouse.

@Teedmn - I stopped myself and said, “nah - Shortz always goes for the golf clue.” Remembering the cluer’s “voice” helped me.

@Anon10:49 - I guess you didn’t make it to my link of Kramer. I stopped watching before that episode but, yeah, huge.

@Sami, Colin, & Nancy - Stephan Jay Gould did an essay on .400 hitters and why we will never see one again and I think the underlying premise applies to most professional sports. Basically, the best players are still 3 (or even 4) standard deviations from the mean and the mean is roughly the same, but a standard deviation is smaller than it used to be. Another way of saying this is that the best of any era are roughly equivalent, but their worst competition is much better today than it was 10, 25, 50, or 100 years ago. The upshot of this would be that SERENA’s SERENA Slam is more impressive than Martina’s “real” slam not because SERENA’s quarter and semi’s competition was better than Martina’s (they probably weren’t) but because SERENA’s first, second, and third round opponents were tougher, making winning any major harder, let alone all four on their different surfaces, let alone winning four in a calendar year.

Steve M 11:59 AM  

Snoozed through this boring one

Frantic Sloth 11:59 AM  

What better time to make my long-awaited* return than OFL's favorite puzzle day?
Cap'n Cranky Pants didn't ruin my fun - I kinda liked the punnery-do. Yeah, the idea isn't revolutionary, but I found this iteration well done and amusing. The fill was better than average, too -- lately, the best one can hope for on the Sundees.

*??? Yeah. Much. ๐Ÿ™„



DROP SIT is the #1 cause of SLOP ITCH.

I, Claudius. I, NUN. I, SON. I done.

๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง 

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

All this talk of female tennis champs and grand slams, genuine and faux, and not one mention of Margaret Court Smith?
You’re right Rex, there’s no such thing as cancel culture๐Ÿ™„

Z 12:17 PM  

ฮงฯ‡ or Xx

I can’t tell the difference between the Greek and Latin upper case letters.

Francis Heaney dropped a puzzle.
pdf version
.puz version
and the tweet in case the dropbox links don’t work.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. — Oscar Wilde

Conrad 12:25 PM  

@bocamp: Both "busses" and "buses" are correct, but they're different words. "Buses" are the mass transit vehicles and "busses" are kisses.

JC66 12:31 PM  

Welcome back @Frantic, you were missed.

Frantic Sloth 12:47 PM  

@A Asher 1230am LOL! Yes! My thought exactly!
@KnittyContessa 848am -- Ditto! And thanks for this link!

Oh, I should mention that, like others, I thought "You got that straight" was just bogus. I just didn't care. (Hi, @pablo!)
Others citing Kramer as proof of legitimacy and that's hilarious! ๐Ÿคฃ

Speaking of...@pabloinnh 822am What? You never heard of ham HAWks? (especially in N.E.? ๐Ÿ˜‰)

@GILL I 1051am Like you, the SunPuzz was my intro to crosswords - and it was probably a punny one that lured me in for good. And for that reason alone I look forward to the Sundees. Some days they're better than others with the occasional foray into dreckville, but no matter. One's first love is always special.

@Birchbark 1114am Thanks for the entertaining walk-through on monkdom. I just like their cheeses.

@JC66 1231PM Thanks - and right back atcha! So happy you're feeling better! ๐Ÿ˜Š

chefwen 12:55 PM  

@jae 12:44, no I don’t have your address. Mine is on my profile
Which side of the island will she be staying?

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

not one mention of Margaret Court Smith

well... there's the simple fact that she won most of her Australian titles against mere Aussies and Kiwis, not the cream of the professional crop from the USofA and Europe. only years later did the good ones venture Down Under to play. in total, 12 of those wins are before the Open Era, and few, if any, against top 10 players in their prime. why it was a Grand Slam event before that is a mystery. and it's Margaret Smith Court

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Well, I'd haft say that the [real basic] theme's sentiments were quite admirable … stuff more U's into familiar phrases to make funny phrases.

About the "Wait, What?" puztitle … I checked with the M&A Help Desk Dictionary, on the pronunciation of "what". It shows it as (h)wษ™t. Then I checked on STRUT: strษ™t. Then muck: mษ™k. And so on. All upside-down e's.

staff weeject pick: MADE [Actually, MUD]. Mississippi made pie has a nice ring to it.
Kinda liked the surprise Jaws of Themelessness appearances, since the FriPuz and SatPuz both let m&e down, on those this week.

The M&A solvequest snarled up around the same area that @RP's did. SMARTTV/VNECK. SPUNK/HOPE/TURIN/IONIC. MUCKUPARTISTS [Was erroneously tryin to parse it as MAKE APE + ?] Had a heckuva time seein all that stuff. Lost precious nanoseconds. Overturned some small furniture.

Thanx for gangin up on us, and for the primo U-fest, Kalish dude and Reid darlin. fave themer vote: RUDDERSOFTHELOSTARK.

Masked & Anonymo15Us


jberg 1:20 PM  

I think I pronounce the a in what and the u in muck just the same -- but I also pronounce the h in what, just a little. Loren once tried to tell me that I just thought I pronounced it, but I went around for the next day saying "wat ... what ... wat ... what" and there is certainly a difference there. That's OK, it just kept me from understanding the title until I was finished. I spotted the vowel shift much earlier, but didn't relate it to the title. No problem, really, for the quality of the theme, which was fun once I got it.

Not much more to say. I would have said the ESTATE was the object of the will, and the deceased-to-be the subject, but I see it works if you use a different sense of subject.

albatross shell 1:21 PM  

@Tim 208am
You got that straight!
Oops, no you don’t. I just said what nobody ever says.
Sounds ok to me.

Nice list of fun clues. I agree. Re: basketball. I wae never able to do more than graze the rim with my finger tips. Nowadays the challenge is to get my jump shot off in those few nanoseconds my feet are off the ground. On a good day I can still shoot 70% on foul shots.

@all who think MUCKUP is a theme violation:
A sounds are changed to U sounds. No violation of that rule. Does not mean that all U sounds must come from A sounds, does it? If I only had a written list of the unwritten rules of CW-themes, I might know better.

Josephine the Singer I knew because KAFKA was HERO and IDOL to me since I first read him in 9th grade. He is much like Thoreau in seeing the world backwards from most people. Most people fail to see his humor, IMHO.

Put on your big boy pants and enjoy some punters.

Had poison for LETHAL and PrISON for POISON. Don’t think I ever noticed those last two only differ by a single letter.

Colin 1:26 PM  

Along the lines of puzzles and games, RIP Alex Trebek.
A model of consistency, high standards, and calm, amidst increasingly loud, glitzy, and often boorish TV programming.
We will miss you.

bocamp 1:31 PM  

Here's one who's definitely used, "You got that straight?/!/."; not my number one go-to, but it's definitely been uttered – as a rhetorical question, as an emphatic, "amen to that," or just as a simple affirmation. Google returns provide a plethora of examples. Below are a smattering:

"You got that straight" (About 1,820,000 Google results); maybe scroll thru 10 pages or so of results to get a good sample of usage. Cosmo Kramer "YOU GOT THAT STRAIGHT" / "You Got That Straight" Jake / Virginia Mens Basketball Board / Police the Police 3.0 - "You got that straight!" / Ernest Hemingway from a recently discovered short story, "Pursuit As Happiness". "You got that straight?"

@Anoa Bob 11:27 AM

Kramer "numb gums" too funny! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Also, "You got that straight!", SOP in the Navy.

ๅนณๅ’Œ Paix ืฉָׁืœื•ֹื Paz ฮตฮนฯฮฎฮฝฮท Frieden Salam Pace Maluhia ๐Ÿ•Š

Teedmn 1:42 PM  

@joaquin 8:27, thanks for the laughs. Not so much the Michele Bachmann flashback. She is not missed at my house!

TexanPenny 2:03 PM  

I also heard Ed Asner saying, “I hate spunk!”

Z 2:21 PM  

Even though we all knew it was coming sooner rather than later, still sad to hear of Trebek’s passing.

@12:08 and @1:03 - I think it has more to do with winning her last slam in the early ‘70’s. Her religious views are hardly news in the US. On the tennis front, I don’t see how playing before the Open Era can be held against her as we look at her accomplishments. She beat the opponents in front of her at the biggest tournaments available. I do doubt that she would have won so many if she played today for the same reason I mentioned earlier, but that’s speculation. What is fact is that she has 24 Singles Grand Slam titles and 64 when you include doubles and mixed doubles. Pretty damn impressive.

Georgia 2:32 PM  

In the Greek alphabet, X is the symbol for the letter 'chi. ' Hence
the abbreviated Xmas.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Anon 1:03
Oops, your bias is showing. Courts winning percentage, on all surfaces (looking at you Raffy) is 91.% Her open era winning % in Grand Slam finals is 92%. Both unequalled.
As for some kind of Aussie outlier problem, here are Grand Slam results by tourney:
Australia 61-3
French 47-5
Wimbledon 51-9
US Open 51-6

I fail to see her capitalizing on the purported sleep Aussie tourney competing against nobodies.
I do see a complete disregard for her achievements. I wonde4, on this board celebrating today, why oh why, she would be erased. Hmm. Guess it’s a mystery.

Marty 2:39 PM  

Yes ..” I also thought of Mary Tyler Moore and spunk. But muck-up artist?. I finally got it, but as the President Elect would say, “Come on, man!”

SBpianist 2:58 PM  

This Sunday I got LIMA and KAFKA and even HOPE (to live without ---), no big problem. ACCEDE was fine too. Bu oy vey, the SE corner, just could not figure it out even when I finished. THE NUMB OF THE GUM? Um, yuck. “Showy basket” = DUNK? Didn’t get it until just now. Not much of a sports guy, as you know. New—“AGER”? Could have been anything. “Fourth order” = FIREWORKS, I get it, but it gave me a headache. The whole puzzle gave me a headache.

But…as you said, ”Be best (LOL, how were the last four years real?”).” And yet 70 million people wanted more. Once again I say, Oy vey.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

I think you mean E Asner. Good one!

jazzmanchgo 3:11 PM  

I know one LIAR who, I expect, is going to have a nice, new pair of unburned orange pants (to match his hair) as soon after January 20th as possible. Just hope we can make it through the next two and a half months before then.

RooMonster 3:12 PM  

Speaking of driving famous people... Yes, I drove Alex Trebek. He was here for some show I've forgotten now (of course) (might've been NAB, National Association of Broadcasters). He was traveling with Vanna White. She was nice. Super skinny. I asked her where Pat Sajak was, she said he couldn't make the trip.

Sad to say, Alex seemed full of himself! But I still liked him. ☺️ RIP


bocamp 3:22 PM  

@Z 9:07 AM

Great mnemo!

@Charles Flaster 8:29 AM

Yup, whole different ball game then.

Fort Wayne Pistons beat the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 (Nov. 22, 1950) - not much fun for the fans, but like a chess game for the coaches and players. George Mikan scored 15 of the Laker's 18 points. Not much "dunk"ing going on then. Might have been seen as showing up ones opponents.

In the 50's the game was also transitioning from the "two hand" set shot to today's "jump shot".

kitshef 8:29 AM - re: "what"

In my case, the "a" in "what" is (as far as I can tell) exactly the same as the short (u) in all the themers. "What" could just as well be spelled "whut". Just sayin'. ๐Ÿค”

@Z 11:53 AM wrote:

"Stephan Jay Gould did an essay on .400 hitters and why we will never see one again"

I disagree with Jay. It will take a completely different mindset related to "hitting", tho. ๐Ÿค”

@Conrad 12:25 PM

Thx Conrad; did some "bussing" back in the day. "Busses" for "buses" is also acceptable (but rare) according to some sources, altho not favored by any. I'll do my best to stick with "buses", especially since I haven't owned a car since the early '00s, and take "buses" frequently. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Good to see you back in prime fighting form! ๐Ÿ˜Š

@albatross shell 1:21 PM wrote:

"Oops, no you don’t. I just said what nobody ever says.
Sounds ok to me."

You got that straight!

Thx, so many clues really tickled my fancy today. And, 70% ain't too bad. ๐Ÿ‘

Alas, it's been at least twenty years since I laid hands on a regulation basketball, unless I count the ball my granddaughters use on their backyard basketball Toys-R-Us hoop. LOL The only jumping I do now is off the couch when Amazon or my local grocer is at the door with a delivery. ๐Ÿ˜‰

@Colin 1:26 PM

"Along the lines of puzzles and games, RIP Alex Trebek. A model of consistency, high standards, and calm, amidst increasingly loud, glitzy, and often boorish TV programming. We will miss you."

Amen to that! ๐Ÿ™

- 59

ๅนณๅ’Œ Paix ืฉָׁืœื•ֹื Paz ฮตฮนฯฮฎฮฝฮท Frieden Salam Pace Maluhia ๐Ÿ•Š

Bonnie Buratti 3:25 PM  

Whatever happened to the fresh and fun Sunday NYTimes XWord puzzle? Gone are the rebuses, visual plays, and clever themes and expressions. Instead we get mechanical filling-in to reveal blah expressions. Are constructors just not trying as hard because there are computer aids now? Come to think of it, many of these puzzles do seem computer-generated.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@Z, 2:36
I don’t see how playing before the Open Era can be held against her as we look at her accomplishments. She beat the opponents in front of her at the biggest tournaments available.

quality of opponents does matter, of course. hers in the Australian (Championship)/Open were not of the top rank at the time, mostly because the good players simply didn't go (for much of those years, it was the season ending event in late December). would you judge Ali as the best boxer of all time if half of his opponents were washed up club boxers and unranked contendas? of course not. same for Court. after all, she could have journeyed to the USofA and Europe and play the best. far more tournaments, to boot. she chose to stay in her safe place.

your record is as much about who you beat as the number you beat. patsies don't count. much.

that's why Serena's wins mean so much more. as well as Evert, Navratilova, Graf, and the like.

Unknown 3:47 PM  

Thanks for this explanation, Rex. I actually do enjoy the weekly puzzles as well, but the Sunday has so much potential that I await a really good one!

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

Anon 3:26
See anon 2:36 for a pretty definitive refutation of your assertion.

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

This ongoing tennis argument today is so pretentious. Jeesh!

GILL I. 4:57 PM  

My belly is full...the dishes put away...the champagne all gone and @Frantic is back.
My TV is off....Someone else will be off...I have a good book to read and it's sunny outside.
Bye bye sadness. Hello hope.....

Anonymous 4:58 PM  


beating chumps isn't much to build a reputation on. simple as that.

Birchbark 5:22 PM  

@Frantic (12:47) -- Cheese is good. So are Trappist ales, Chimay my preference for a special occasion.

Plus, one of the few fruitcakes I really, really like comes from the Trappist Abbey of Gethsamani in Western Kentucky. It's made with Kentucky bourbon. Ideal served warm with melting butter.

ow a paper cut 5:24 PM  

I liked this puzzle. My favorite was Rudders of the Lost Ark

B 5:27 PM  

Loved it too. Fresh as a daisy!

kitshef 5:49 PM  

@Nancy 10:05, @Colin 10:22 - Martina never won a calendar-year slam but she did hold all four titles at once - what we call a Serena slam. But no one ever called it a Martina slam.

Steffi did win a real (calendar-year) slam, but also won the equivalent of what we call a Serena slam, but no one called it a Steffi slam.

@Anon 2:36 - Court won 11 of 14 Aussies she entered - 79%.
But only 50% of her French Opens, 25% of Wimbledons, and 45% of US Opens. So, yes, to some extent she fattened up on the Australian Open. I say this as one who considers in the discussion for best female tennis player I ever saw (with Martina and Serena).

And I'm astonished at how many pronounce 'what' as 'wut'. Curious if you also pronounce Watt that way.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

Anon 4:58
She won plenty against al, comers. That’s what the open era means.

bocamp 6:13 PM  

@kitshef 5:49 PM

For me, it's "watt" as in "caught" / "what" as in "cut" (caught/cut).

No right or wrong here – different strokes, for different folks. :)

ๅนณๅ’Œ Paix ืฉָׁืœื•ֹื Paz ฮตฮนฯฮฎฮฝฮท Frieden Salam Pace Maluhia ๐Ÿ•Š

Ken Freeland 6:34 PM  

Agree...and the PPP count in today's puzzle was over the top.

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

No. Re check your data

Joe Dipinto 7:39 PM  

What, @What? hasn't posted yet? I can't wait around all day.

Anoa Bob 7:54 PM  

I think there are two reasons we may never see another .400 hitter in the MLB. The first is because of improved pitching. MLB pitchers are healthier and better athletes than of yore and they get much better training and coaching from a young age on. The second reason is because of a change in coaching strategy. In olde timey games, it was typical for a pitcher to pitch the entire game. That rarely/never happens anymore. Even the best pitchers are on a pitch count and when they get there, the bull pen specialists take over. I think the data show that hitters get better after they have seen the starter twice. So the strategy these days is change pitchers early.

Yeah I think that olde timey adage has been updated and improved---Good pitching will beat good hitting every time.

(The late Stephen J. Gould is one of my science heroes---got to attend one of his presentations at San Diego State in the early 70's---but I don't think it's a statistical thing, I think it's just a better pitching thing.)

Teedmn 8:45 PM  

@kitshef, here in MN, “what” rhymes with “hut”, “watt” with (almost) “hot“. Why, (rhymes with hi) I don’t know. :-)

Z 8:57 PM  

@Teedmn 8:45 - Because everyone knows that upper midwestern is the “correct” American pronunciation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Much of Michigan agrees with you. Yoopers are infected with some Canadian, so not sure how it all works up there. My theory is that international women’s professional tennis is causing another Great Vowel Shift. I blame Margaret Court and her overly apt tennis surname.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Court’s name is an aptonym. Other famous ones include Wordsworth, Wiener, Bolt, and Crapper. There are many more.

Anonymous 9:24 PM  

My old dentist was Dr. Paine

Nancy 10:22 PM  

In NYC or at least in my family, "what" rhymes with but, cut and shut. "Watt" rhymes with cot, spot and lot.

When talking about great women tennis players, why has no one mentioned Billie Jean King? She brought a combination of pure athleticism and an ebullient joie de vivre that has rarely been equaled. B.J. played Court many times and there was no question which player was the more fun to watch. Maggie was a huge, stolid, serve and volleyer with a rather predictable and patterned game. Billie Jean lunged and leapt and pivoted and volleyed better from below the net than any woman I've ever seen. And no one -- not even the incomparable Martina, my co-favorite woman player -- was more of a crowd pleaser. See if you can dig up some of her matches on YouTube if you're too young to have seen her. You'll find them really entertaining.

D 10:36 PM  


D 10:36 PM  


Monty Boy 11:11 PM  

Pablo 822. in the on-line version 112D clue is HEM so the answer HAW came quickly. Did you work on paper? Maybe the print version has ham?

burtonkd 10:12 AM  

@Nancy - revisionist history that Navratilova was a crowd pleaser. I remember people hating her bc she beat the country club fave Chrissie Evert, had a short man-like haircut (and leg muscles), foreign accent and was rather butch.

I am very glad history has been kinder to her going forward to later in her career and post career. One of the true greats and few women to play the McEnroe Edberg style net game.

Barbara 6:21 PM  

To Charles Flaster: I always thought pelvic tilts are when you lie on your back on the floor, your back naturally arches up a bit and pelvic tilt means you press the small of your back to the floor, tilting the pelvis from its arch position to a straight one, holding that position for say 20 seconds, relax into arch, repeat tilt, etc. This helped me through two pregnancies that involved some back pain.

Re the puzzle: not great, not terrible. Definitely some good stuff, but not enuf

Irishmaineiac 8:58 PM  

Not a fun puzzle. Ironically I got most of the words that other people struggled with. Strange.

PatKS 9:52 PM  

Breezed along until SW and SE. Had longs before lusts, ilsa before inga, never saw bootie spelled bootee. Showy basket hurt my brain and 2 of my least favorite words are deuces and accede. Fireworks took a while but no option option fit- firmwares, firewalls ??. Never said YOU GOT THAT STRAIGHT in my life. Pretty lame puzzle IMO. How is X chi? Jackanapes= imp not imps? Lade eluded me.

I do F,Sa,Su puzzles. Mon/Tue/Wed too easy to waste paper on.

Hope you are well.

@JenGenn 12:14 AM  

Everyone seems to have their stumbles... But note: a baby's bootie is a bootie, not a bootee. It's an error!

Unknown 2:52 PM  

Envy you, meeting Andre (Agassi, btw).

Unknown 11:25 PM  

So true! This drive me nuts!

Unknown 11:25 PM  

So true. This drove me absolutely nuts.

JTB 8:08 AM  

Had "ten" for X, then "CAP" as in uppercase, either of which misdirected me at 37 & 41 d. Had enough Grk to know that the letter "chi" --with squiggly tails, not straight-- only vaguely approximates our letter "x" (and again, why uppercase?). Good thing puzzle-solving is not a blood sport, but yeah, bah humbug.

Unknown 11:18 AM  

Love your blog. I met an interesting ambiguity in the Agatha Christie clue. From crosses I already had POI but wasn’t sure if the answer was POIROT or POISON.

Burma Shave 12:57 PM  




rainforest 3:33 PM  

I thought this was one of the better Sunday puzzles of recent memory, which is getting more recent unfortunately. Decent theme which amused me (especially RUDDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and THE NUMB OF THE GUM).

Speaking of the ARK, I Noah blogger who likely didn't appreciate this puzzle, but I don't read him anymore, especially on Sunday.

Unknown 4:06 PM  

Growing up here in Mississippi we had a Dr. Bender (chiropractor) and a Dr. Slaughter (surgeon). For a while we had an orthopedic clinic Little/Green/Hand.

Diana, LIW 4:09 PM  

The clues/answers really left me cold. I almost just didn't finish, and wanted to simply say that the best thing about this puzzle is that one of the constructors has photographed more than 10,000 post offices. That is impressive.

Now. Who in the world ever told someone to SAYHI by saying "don't be rude...greet our guests." That would be one dysfunctional household.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Monday once again

Rosa 4:59 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, but I didn't get the theme until explained by Rex.

rondo 6:13 PM  

Last Sunday a letter-change, today a sound-change. Not particularly wacky; no HAW HAHS; certainly no FIREWORKS, until the last across answer. Once again (in my paper) an incomplete clue, 115a. Not much fun.

IMHO Neil SEDAKA was way over-rated.

MISO in the corners.

A local sportswriter used to call Steffi GRAF "The Homely HUN". I SAY yeah baby.

Not impressed, but my opinion is neither HERE nor THERE.

rondo 6:19 PM  

Forgot to mention in the west there is SUE and FOLEY. SUE FOLEY is a favorite of mine:

Unknown 12:32 PM  

Me too. Thanks for the information

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