First dynasty of imperial China / SUN 12-27-20 / Cocktail with rum curaçao fruit juice / Debut album for Etta James / Snapchatter's request / Small hole-drilling tool / Extinct flightless bird that once grew up to 12 feet / Workplace of the Cyclopes in Greek myth

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Constructor: Daniel Grinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium ? (untimed)

THEME: "Partnerships" — ___ AND ___ phrases, clued (punnily) as some kind of "partners":

Theme answers:
  • JUDGE AND JURY (Law partners)
  • PEACE AND QUIET (Silent partners)
  • PEN AND PAPER (Writing partners)
  • BREAKING AND ENTERING (Partners in crime)
  • BOOM AND BUST (Business partners)
  • HUGS AND KISSES (Romantic partners)
  • ROOM AND BOARD (110A: Domestic partners)
Word of the Day: GRENACHE (29D: Sweet red dessert wine) —
a widely cultivated sweet red grape used especially in wine makingalso a varietal wine made from this grape (
• • •

Hello, all. Can't spend long on this because I'm watching "Christmas in Connecticut" with friends in about an hour, and thank god, because I need something to gladden me after the dreariness of this puzzle. I remain baffled by how corny dull and dated the Sunday puzzle is, almost every week. Today, all the ... interest? cleverness? ... is in the clues. I guess you think of a bunch of types of "partners" (i.e. phrases that run "___ partners" or "partners in ___") and then you think of ___ AND ___ phrases that fall in the general category of whatever type of partners you're dealing with. So [Restaurant partners] could be SOUP AND SALAD or SALT AND PEPPER or HAM AND EGGS, [Dance partners] could be BUMP AND GRIND, etc. Yes, there is a coherent concept here, but the results are very tepid. Like dad jokes on simmer. And the fill is a real millstone; I can deal with a slightly ho-hum theme if there's lots of non-theme things to enjoy about the puzzle. But there aren't. The fill is frequently painful, with stuff like BIENNIA (?!) and SPECIE really stinking up the joint. QIN ISSO NTHS. ONO ONEG ROES. ADES + OGEES. Etc. IN REPAIR (?) and IN BETA :( ... It's no worse than your average Sunday, I guess, but the average Sunday is so much worse than it oughta be. This is the puzzle billing itself as the Best Puzzle in the World, and this is the marquee puzzle, the biggie, the one with the most cachet: the Sunday. And week after week, it's thud after thud. If I sound like a broken record, I'm just echoing the puzzle itself. It's stuck. Stuck. Stuck.

There's not really much to say about this. Things I didn't know: GRENACHE. I guess I don't really drink dessert wines, red or otherwise. I had YTD before QTR (41D: Fiscal year div.), which means I didn't really read the clue very closely. Wanted ATTENDANCE but got ATTENDEES (14D: Event organizer's count). Am never going to know allllll the Chinese dynasties. Thought the clue on AFAR was pretty bad (100A: How Phileas Fogg traveled). Love GIMLETs, but only the kind you drink (91D: Small hole-drilling tool). Best thing in the grid is GOON SQUAD (1D: Group of heavies). That's all. Maybe you have other things you'd like to talk about, but I SOURed ON this puzzle pretty early on, and nothing in the puzzle did much to change that. Will never understand why Sundays are such throwaway days. Seems a waste.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

Pretty basic fare with a theme that mostly worked if a tad BTDT.* I say mostly only because BOOMANDBUST, while accurate enough isn't as common as the others. But, it ain't wrong, so there's that.
*Been There Done That

The fill was interesting and one or two steps above the usual stuff.
Overall, I liked it, but it didn't blow my dress up.
Maybe if I had a dress, it would be different.


What this with "Gave a boost" = GOOSED?? Who uses GOOSE that way??

Liked "Booty call" for BUTTDIAL. Don't think it's been used before and Rex probably won't like the BUTT portion, but tough. This is exception territory, IMHOpancakes.

Never knew that the RIDDLER's real name was E(dward) Nigma. Of course it is.

I suppose I should be grateful that Liberty Insurance commercials don't use a mob of EMUS, but that could hardly make it worse.

Kudos for attempted cleverness with "Flier trier" for TESTPILOT, but it doesn't quite hit the mark for me. I enjoyed it all the same.


EdFromHackensack 12:08 AM  

SPECIE? got it, do not understand it though. How is a coin “SPECIE”? I am missing something Easy puzzle, easy theme. I looked for placed to Put the AND in without the complete answer . so that helped. completed no errors

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of SPECIE to mean “coins” was in the year 1617. I suspect the last use was in 1618.

I have a workshop full of equipment, including a "Small hole-drilling tool". It's called a "drill".

And while BIENNIA is entirely inferrable, it's another word I have never heard used.

So ... today was a learning experience (which I like) combined with a slog (which I don't like).

John Culhane 12:34 AM  

Butt dial was pretty good; so was the clue.

Lou 1:08 AM  

San Diego and tijuana do not abut - they are separated by several cities: national city, Chula Vista, imperial beach, then san ysidro.

okanaganer 1:11 AM  

Got my wires crossed for 39 across, I saw it ended in ---IET and was daydreaming that this clue was actually the one from 89 across "Romantic partners" so put in ROMEO AND JUIET (sic). Honestly typed that in without noticing the sp.

A real train wreck around square 98: SHIRR and SHINED and SPECIE and PIED. Shined? I thought it was SHONE. I eventually put in the "correct" letters but thought "that can't be right". But it was!

Also TWO YEAR for BIENNIA. Biennia? Really?

Boy, a lot of awkward answers. My car is IN REPAIR, said NOONE since 1950.

Chris 1:17 AM  

After 291 days - no, after a holiday season spent without seeing my family and friends, I really could have done without REMOTE learning and meeting via ZOOM. What about those clues is fun?

chefwen 2:06 AM  

Unlike Rex I usually like the Sunday puzzles, but I have to agree with him today. The word dreary fills the bill for me.

ABOIL, AGAPE up in the same area irked. I did like Booty call and Big game changer. SPECIE was my last word to fill and had to look it up to make sure I guessed right and I did, that was a brand new word for me. Learned something.


Robin 2:18 AM  

I so much agree with Frantic Sloth (!) about "Booty call" for BUTTDIAL, that I will say it was the best thing in this puzz.

But loved Rex's suggestion of BUMPANDGRIND for "Dance partners". But dang, it wasn't in this puzz.

Savastio 2:43 AM  

Got my PB on this Sunday puzzle but it was oh so bad.

jae 3:13 AM  

On the easy side once I replaced adder with MAMBA. Fun Sunday, liked it more than @Rex did.

Why not clue GOON SQUAD with Jennifer Egan, it did win a Pulitzer.

I live in San Diego and @Lou is right.

Ernonymous 3:29 AM  

In Rome they say SPICCI for loose change. I had not heard it used in other parts of Italy. I had no idea SPECIE was English. You learn something new every day! Especially true if you Xword.
What a dull theme. I realize I prefer spoonerisms or fun puns on Sundays after doing this. Blah.

Marc 6:27 AM  

Sunday NYT puzzle partners: Cut and Dried

Dogfish 7:25 AM  

One day I'm going to have to learn the US Military ranks - had a start of cobrA, colS, STEP, ALE, and a tentative basE (Air Bases are a thing, right? I just... expanded it, sort of), which was Fun.

Theme was... a thing!... but it helped get some bits in so I shouldn't complain (first theme entry in: BREAKING AND ENTERING, then realised 'wait that simple? okay then').

What I will complain about is the clue for LAGS - I don't like that clue's pluralisation one bit. You may have several lag spikes, or a lot of lag, but I don't think I'd ever say a lot of lags in the context of streaming - it's like sand, in that it's an uncountable noun (You don't have one sand two sands, you have one grain of sand, two grains of sand). If you want to keep the modern clue basis (I did like that the grid felt somewhat modern cluewise), make it a verb - "Stutters, as on Twitch" or similar.

Picked up a new bit of US slang in GOOSED today. Must try to remember that y'all SHIRR eggs since those letters pop up a lot. AGEE and OGEES get no comment - I think I've CEDED to them being a fact of grids.

And for the time being, I'm glad to have a week without REMOTE learning and ZOOM teaching - if nothing else, it's a nightmare to mark things on and my eyes get shattered! And yet somehow, I can't imagine escaping it just yet - when we do, expect shouts of AT LAST.

Guilherme Gama 7:36 AM  

I hastily put in GAS GIANTS for "group of heavies" and thought I was so clever, only to be quickly disabused of that notion.

TTrimble 7:37 AM  

I knew right away Rex was gonna hate Ye Olde Puzzle. ADES, OGEES, NTHS, MAJS, etc., etc.

HAPS, hm. Seems an odd way to clue it. I just know HAP as essentially synonymous with "chance (event)" (perhaps, mayhaps). Actually, the word "happy" is related, I think with the original meaning of enjoying good luck. So, while it could mean "unfortunate events", I guess, that specific meaning isn't really mentioned in the dictionaries I looked at.

Also slightly puzzled by GOOSED. Is this the "goose" involving a little jab to the posterior, perHAPS resulting in a BUTT DIAL? But I wouldn't think such a "goosing" as a boosting, which involves some sort of lifting action. Sigh... maybe I need to go back to the dictionary.

Once I got going with the theme (which seems a little plain), the puzzle didn't seem too hard. On the plus side, I like SHIRR. BIENNIA -- okay. BIG POPPA and BEER PONG, okay, I'll take 'em. SPECIE -- only vaaaaaguely familiar, but interesting in its way.

Somehow I never thought of "My Generation" as especially renowned for its BASS SOLO. I'm trying to play the song in my head, and I guess it's there, but so are other elements, particularly the drum work, which I consider much more prominent.

@Frantic Sloth
I'll take a mob of EMUS any day over Doug, whom I find distinctly annoying. Not to mention the jingle, which they introduced in order to keep up with Farmers. "We are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum." How is it that such dumb jingles can take up QTRs in our heads and hang around like unwanted guests?

Lewis 7:49 AM  

Administrative update. Forgive me, please, this is two days late, but as your resident Alphadoppeltotter, a role I have inexplicably taken on, I must report that Friday's puzzle had 21 double letters -- an "unusually high" count, a rating reserved for puzzles with 20 or more non-theme-related double letters.

The last time a puzzle had 21 was on 11/3/17, and since I began tracking this, 21 is the highest count reached. So, props to Erik Agard and Wendy L. Brandes, for hitting this esteemed mark.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Always try Googling.
Specie is metallic money in all of its forms, gold or silver traditionally, but including nickel and copper as well. Specie is distinguished from other forms of money such as paper money or credit instruments like checks, money order, credit cards and the like.

mmorgan 8:07 AM  

Early on I thought the theme answers were going to be twists or puns of some sort, but those hopes were quickly dashed. Ah well it was a Sunday. Wait till next year.

Colin 8:09 AM  

Found this mildly amusing, which is to say, it was not one of my favorites. Agree with cringes on AFAR, BIENNIA, INREPAIR, etc. Students may pass notes but a NOTE is not usually how it's said; this conjured up the news about the West Point calculus exam cheating scandal.

"Puller of strings": I found this wonderful photo in the Carnegie Hall collection, of the National Association of Harpists in 1921:

May we all be able to get together (like the harpists!) and celebrate freely, sometime in 2021...

pabloinnh 8:13 AM  

Well, I liked this more.....oh never mind. "Dad jokes on simmer" is sort of my thing, so I had fun with this one. Felt like a good old-fashioned Sunday, as I sit here waiting for my family to get up and wear my slippers and drink coffee. Fits right in.

Don't know where or when I learned SPECIE, but I did and filled it right in, and after reading some comments today I'm feeling inordinately superior. Plus we finished up with not one but two OGEES. Hello old friends. Nice to see two of you.

Just finished teaching an Osher course on Dolly Parton and like Colbert(?), am wondering why she doesn't have a Medal of Freedom yet. I'll never be the biggest fan of her voice, but she has done some truly amazing things.

Hey @Joaquin--I've got drills too, but for big holes you need an auger, for smaller holes a gim, and for even smaller holes a gimlet. That's how I remember it.

Nice Sundecito, DG. Didn't think about politics for about half an hour, so thanks.

OffTheGrid 8:15 AM  

@TT. On Christmas my older brother would sneak up behind me, give me a jab, and say "Here's your Christmas goose.

For the second time in less than a week we have a shout out to the leader of Herman's Hermits, Peter NOONE (55A).

Don't really care for booty call or butt dial as phrases but it was a good clue.

Rough start. Had adder, adms for 1A &1D. Went on to have M____and JUDY for law partners. I wanted Mathis, thinking of TV judges, but no fit. Then tried cobra before mamba. Jeesh! Things got better and I enjoyed the solve even if the theme was a little not exciting.

Joe Dipinto 8:15 AM  

@TTrimble – my first impulse for the "My Generation" clue was STUTTER.

SouthsideJohnny 8:15 AM  

They flirted with a “quasi-word-fest” today, which unfortunately is not at all that unusual. I wish they would spend as much time coming up with good ideas as they do researching esoteric terms (BIENNIA, SPECIE and perturbation for example). No real capital offenses today, but enough high crimes and misdemeanors to tip it into slogging territory.

The extinct bird crossing the record album from about 100 years ago is very suboptimal (to use a NYT-friendly descriptor), so if that one is not a Natick it is a close neighbor. Additionally, it’s always disappointing to see the NYT welcome a rapper to the party instead of just ignoring them like the low-life, vulgar, racist, gun-worshipping misogynistic creeps that they are.

So probably a missed opportunity here - the theme works (the answers make sense, are lucid and discernible - yes, I concede that the bar is not set very high these days). Unfortunately, as is the Times’ habit, they included just enough true gunk to glom up the works a bit.

ow a paper cut 8:22 AM  

I’m thinking there weren’t better puzzles submitted for publication.

Charles Flaster 8:23 AM  

EZ but fun to fill.
Liked cluing for BUTT DIAL and TEST PILOT.
PEACE AND QUIET was easily my favorite themer.
Have not eaten SHIRRed eggs since 1960 in the Catskills.
Thanks DG

ChuckD 8:41 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said - although I didn’t mind the solve overall. Theme was cute - but so loose and flat. Liked the serene PEACE AND QUIET and HUGS AND KISSES. The construction is a little awkward - placement of black squares resulted in mostly choppy short glue and hurt the overall flow.

I thought the longish and medium fill was solid - GOON SQUAD, TOSTADA and especially BUTT DIAL. Rex gets his EEO participation with Dolly, Biggie and LORI and we get the great Entwistle and the RIDDLER thrown in. But then SHIRR, BIENNIA and the short MOA, SAT, CDS etc really start to drag this thing down.

I had a decent time with the solve for the most part - not a bad start to a cold Sunday.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Crossing BIGPOPPA and OBESE felt a bit like fat shamming.

Ann Howell 8:47 AM  

Liked BUTT DIAL and BEER PONG but the rest was rather drab... is it too much to ask for a zippy Sunday? The sun is shining here, so best count blessings and go for a walk :)

RooMonster 8:54 AM  

Hey All !
I think I commented about the Doubles in the FriPuz, but didn't tot them up. So thanks for the count.

Figured out the ___AND___ thing pretty quick today. Seems easy overall. Which is fine. Theme OK by my standards. :-)

@M&A should like the U-ness. Seems like every time I was struggling for something, a U showed up and saved the day!

A couple of Q's and Z's today, neat. I'm going to say it's a pangram without actually seeing if it is. Maybe a double pangram? OK, let me count (the ways)...

Well, dang, missing an X for the pangram, and one W and two X's for the Double. C'mon, Daniel, try a little harder next time! :-) Neat that a lot of the double letters were in the same answer, JUDGEANDJURY, VIVIAN, KNACKS, MAMBA, plus various other doubles. Another high count @Lewis?

Had a good time on the puz.

BTW, is 2020 over yet? Let's get a move on!

Two F's (fills the quota :-))

bocamp 8:54 AM  

Thank you, @Daniel, for a most enjoyable Sunday puzzle. Loved the theme. :)

Well below av. time; was bailed out of difficulty at "grenache" and "qin" by fair crosses.

"Judge and jury" reminds me of the fun we had putting on mock trials with our alternative school classes. The BC Provincial Court in Vancouver allowed us use of a courtroom, robes, etc. for the final production.

"Judge" Sammy Davis Jr. Part One | Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

The Ballad of John and "Yoko"

Peace 🕊

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

The question as to whether American money should be backed by SPECIE or not occupied a piece of the second half of the 19th century. And the next question was whether the specie should be silver or gold, with William Jennings Bryan unsuccessfully pushing for silver.

Do the college heavies all gather in the GOONS QUAD?

Never knew before that the present tense of SHIRRed was anything other than shir. But then, I've never had the thought "I would like to shir(r) an egg."

pmdm 8:59 AM  

The theme entires seemed pretty easy for me to figure out, and the theme (_ and _) was very easy to figure out. I thought the theme entries were mildly clever and I enjoyed solveing the more more than I do with most Sunday puzzles. Now on to some replies to the comments.

Lou and jae: 2D does not specify what abuts Tijuana: it could be either a US city or a US county. Apparently, the clue refers to which county abuts Tijuana, resulting in a correct clue. Both of you are very correct about the city not abuting Mexico, but the irritating non-specific clue is correct as it reads if you read properly. Z often points out that a clue may be wrong for some of it's definitions, but as long as one definition is correct the clue is correct. I guess this is a variation.

Mike Sharp: What you really should be baffled about is why many who post here often dispute your reactions (perhaps contradict is the better word). Birds of a feather flock together, and there are certainly enough who share your judgment, But there are certainly enough of solvers (usually) who do not agree with your perspective. Which suggests it may correctly communicate your reaction, but may at the same time be inaccurate. The majority of people like neither jazz nor classical music. Neither are tepic. You do not echo the puzzle itself: you echo your own prejudices which you present as foregone conclusions.

A number of you replied to my comment yesterday. It is pleasing to learn that others read your comments and react to them. (More pleasing if the reaction is a positive one. Thanks to the unknown person who reminded me of Brenda Starr's name. And I recall watching a documentary movie called Crumb which documented his family life. If any of you think you've seen the ultimate in family dysfunction, try watching the 1994 movie if you can locate it. Ebert (and others) gave it a glowing review and Siskel picked it as the movie of the year in 1995. Their TV review is on You Tube. Perhaps this is a bit off the crossword topic, but given that some who comment were interested I hope it's not too far off to deny it appearing here.

By the way, those of you who are not trolls but publish anonymously. It is simple to make up a name for yourself. Yourself personal information will remain hidden. That's pretty much what I do, although I have emailed some who comment here when a compose a reply that strays too far off the crossword topic. It will help avoid misunderstandings like the one Z graciously apologized for yesterday.

Mr. Cheese 9:03 AM  

Tell me that if you heard someone say “shined” you wouldn’t immediately correct them.

kitshef 9:07 AM  

I think the clue for 36D is an error. I have a few dictionaries, and they all have HAP as either an event of good fortune, an event with neither good nor poor fortune, or they don’t have it at all. Certainly if mishap is bad, you would expect hap to be good.

Just how many nicknames for Chris Wallace are we expected to know? Notorious B.I.G, Biggie, Biggie Smalls, and now Big Poppa?

Otherwise … I guess my hand got some good exercise filling this out. My brain sure didn’t.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

@Lou: Actually, San Diego and Tijuana do abut. San Diego is split into two parts, with Chula Vista intervening. Look on the map.

San Ysidro is not a separate corporate entity. It's a district of San Diego, essentially an example of an exclave.

kitshef 9:22 AM  

@Mr. Cheese 9:03 - would you really say "I had my shoes shone yesterday"?

pabloinnh 9:26 AM  

The HAP discussion made me think of the Thomas Hardy poem of the same name, which offers his take on life as chance or luck as as good an explanation for the way things are as anything else. Memorable, at least to me, as I hadn't thought of it in fifty years or so.

Teedmn 9:34 AM  

I did it again, a typo DNF. It seems to happen on Sundays because I solve online and the puzzles are too big to notice one letter out of place. At least my brain knew what I meant, even if my fingers didn't.

I had my share of erasures, but I was pretty happy with my answer of ShAvE as a "Close call" down at 98D; the grid didn't agree with me.

"Higher" learning before REMOTE. "Adder" before MAMBA. ETNA is in Greek mythology? I thought it was in Italy. Pretty close to Greece, admittedly, but I figured that answer would be Mt. Ossa.

PEACE AND QUIET as silent partners was my favorite theme answer. Thanks, Daniel Grinberg.

Ranius 9:41 AM  

SPECIE was the bane of my existence in this puzzle. I can’t imagine there are more than a handful of solvers in the world who would be able to get that without most or all of the crosses.

It was also in a part of the grid with a few other questionable answers (GOOSED and SHIRR). Even SHINED felt wrong in my ears since I’m more used to hearing “shone”.

Teedmn 9:48 AM  

@Frantic Sloth's comment about GOOSED brought back a memory of a joke book I had as a kid. It had some of those fake book title/author combos (these are some examples though NOT the ones in my 1960s kid's joke book): The Little Golden Stream by I. P. Freely, Under the Grandstand by Seymour Butts, the Tiger’s Revenge by Claude Balls.

One that I didn't understand was Antlers in the Treetops by Who Goosed the Moose. I asked my Dad why it was funny and after he told me what GOOSED meant, I loved that joke, even though it doesn't work as an author's name.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Activists, for showing up and speaking out, masked, against prejudice and injustice, even in the face of violence.


Lewis 9:53 AM  

@roo -- I don't count doubles on Sundays, just 15 x 15s. And I did see your doubles alert on Friday, which got me anxious to make a puzzle count -- thank you for that alert!

burtonkd 10:02 AM  

@Z - thanks for pointing out the clues of the year article at the New Yorker. It was refreshing to see unvarnished enthusiasm for puzzles and clue types. Plus, the roster is like a murderer's row of (sometimes former) NYTimes faves:

"In June, we added a third weekly puzzle, plus three more constructors: Wyna Liu, Caitlin Reid, and Robyn Weintraub joined our roster, alongside Erik Agard, Patrick Berry, Kameron Austin Collins, Elizabeth C. Gorski, Natan Last, Aimee Lucido, and Anna Shechtman."

TJS 10:05 AM  

So that's where the phrase "gimlet-eyed" comes from. Hmmm.

Not the worst of Sundays, IMO. For some reason, the clue for "afar" really bothers me. Don't see it describing "How" one travels.

@Southside, Etta = At Last. If ya see one, the other is the answer. Always.

Stutter wouldn't fit, Joe, but it was the first thing I thought of too.

Now, to go back to yesterdays' comments to see what @Z apologised for. Can't wait.

GILL I. 10:09 AM  

@Lou 1:08. I gave 2D a bit of the stink eye as well. San Diego "straddles" the Tijuana border. ABUT means common boundary..... and it isn't the last time I looked. Hi @jae.... By the way, nothing like staying in San Diego and taking a day trip to TJ and eating TOSTADAS. Which brings me to FOOD: SUGAR AND SPICE/BREAD AND BUTTER/WINE AND DINE.....A girl can dream.
Question....Why does the poor GOOSE get relegated to someone's knickers getting in a twist up the BUTT? If it's good for the gander...
Well I knew OFL's partnership would be of the DOOM and GLOOM ilk. I had fun with this. Maybe because I'm still full of good food and wine. Loved seeing tried and true SHIRR eggs. I still make them often. My husband is allergic to eggs but my adult children love them. You have to make them with good cream and good parmesan.
Why is a venomous snake named so close to my favorite dance? Hey...I just noticed GERE sitting underneath BUTT DIAL....Imagintion to the rescue.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Quite recently you posted some rules about what flies and what doesn’t. One of them was the post had to be about the puzzle or comments (Rex’s or fellow posters’)
How then, does Borkonnkd’s post of 10:02 qualify?
I understand that many here enjoy puzzles other than The Times’s but why clutter this forum with that stuff. You seem to have quashed the Indio spelling bee posts, I’m praying you can do the same withThe NewYorker, USA Today etc.

Sixthstone 10:29 AM  

Easy-light theme which made the puzzle pretty quick and easy as well. Overall, it was a bit of a throwaway--I won't remember much of it in an hour.

Good: BUTT DIAL, GOON SQUAD, BEER PONG, DORK, BASS SOLO (although Stutter would be better for clue)

Bad: GIMLET (as clued--should definitely be in the boozy category!), SPECIE, HAPS, ABOIL, AGAPE

Ugly: [Rex covered these]


I'd grade this as a C+ effort.

Derrick 10:30 AM  

GRENACHE is not a dessert wine. Or if it is, it is very obscure. I spent a decade or so being a freelance wine writer, and I love dessert wines. It is a grape that, sure, is sweet at harvest, like many fruits. It is (or recently was) the most widely planted red wine grape in the world. The vast majority of it goes into dry red wines. It’s very big in Spain (as Garnacha) and the Southern Rhône regions (whose wines are often called GSM blends for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). It’s also popular in the US for winemakers who try to emulate Southern Rhône wines.

It may be used in the dessert wine Beaumes-de-Venise — the geography is right but I’d have to look it up — but that wine is not called GRENACHE.

GRENACHE is a grape that is used in many dry wines

Derrick 10:37 AM  

Correcting myself: Banyuls not Beaumes-de-Venise is made with Grenache. That’s what I get for _stopping_ doing wine writing

Randall Grahm 10:38 AM  

Grenache as a sweet red wine? There are but few extant examples of that these days. Maury in Roussillon being one, but in general, Grenache is almost always produced as a dry wine, either red or pink. A sweet grape (and Grenache often gets quite ripe) does not necessarily equate to a sweet wine, rather it represents the potential alcohol percentage of the resultant wine. #vivegarnacha

Mr. Cheese 10:40 AM  

@kitshef - good point. I guess it depends on the part of speech and tense.
My newly shined shoes really shone! Or is it, my newly shone shoes really shined?
Or, My newly shined shoes really shined.
Or, My newly shone shoes really shone.... (I’m getting a headache)

ArtO 10:43 AM  

I drink a pretty fair amount of wine and happen to like wine made with the grenache grape. I've drunk Spanish wines made with grenache that are dry, not sweet, rhone blends from France and Australian GSMs (grenache, syrah, mourvèdre). None are sweet. In fact, I've never seen a sweet red wine made with it.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

There have been trickier and more fiendish Sundays, to be sure, but I enjoyed this fairly straightforward one quite a bit. The fill surrounding the theme entries was challenging enough to make the puzzle interesting and not all of the theme entries involved SLAM-AND-DUNK solving. BOOM AND BUST gave me a lot of trouble and HUGS AND KISSES required crosses in the kissing corner.

Really, really nice LION TAMER clue! Are you here today, @Lewis? Haven't read the blog yet, as usual, -- I'm late enough getting here.

I want to talk about RIO. How many of you knew that "Notorious" is set in Rio? Not me, and I've seen the film at least a dozen times. I've just realized why, and I think perhaps I'm having a completely Original Thought.

Think of "North by Northwest". What are the big, memorable scenes? The crop-duster scene. The climbing Mt. Rushmore scene. Outdoor scenes with a real sense of place.

Or "To Catch a Thief". Cary Grant swimming into the gorgeous beach at Cannes. The mysterious cat burglar climbing the roof. Cary and Grace in that gorgeous sports car tooling around the Grand Corniche Drive. Outdoor scenes with a real sense of place.

Now take "Notorious". What are the big, memorable scenes? The scene in the wine cellar with the broken wine bottle spilling dust. The scene in Claude's mother's bedroom: "Mother, I'm married to an American agent!" The scene in Ingrid's bedroom: "I'm...being...poisoned..." And the scene getting the poisoned Ingrid down that long staircase right under the noses of the enemy party-goers. Indoor scenes, every last one of them.

RIO? Hell. That movie could have been filmed in Albuquerque. And that's why I didn't remember it was set in RIO.

Most of Hitchcock's films were "outdoor" movies. This one was an "indoor" movie.

TTrimble 10:50 AM  

I'd like to see that book. That's a game that my family (really my mother, my brother, and I) play every now and then. (I don't think I've mentioned this here.)

"Seymour Butts" is a little on the obvious side, the type of thing Bart Simpson would make up when he prank-calls Moe's. "Claude Balls" -- ouch!

We generally keep it clean in my family. I think my own best effort is

Statistical Methods for Risk Management -- U. Boris Mann.

The talented jokemeisters within the commentariat ought to be good at this.

TTrimble 11:05 AM  

@Joe Dipinto
Obviously you're right about that.

Various explanations have been advanced about "why the stutter", which you can read about here (ain't Wikipedia a wonderful thing?), but one little tidbit is that at first the BBC wouldn't play it because, in an early act of PC, they didn't want people with stutters to be offended. Of course, that's always been the prime directive of rock and roll: not to offend.

Newboy 11:06 AM  

IS SO and Rex is right! No argument on this playground being “ Like dad jokes on simmer.” I may come back to read comments, but I doubt that even @Lewis can save this Sunday.

Eric J 11:10 AM  

For domestic partners, I really wanted BERTANDERNIE

Pete 11:24 AM  

@Me Cheese - I shined my shoes yesterday. Oh hell, I didn't I haven't owned anything but sneakers since 2002.

jberg 11:36 AM  

@jae— Good for you! I replaced adder with cobrA., and admS with cdrS. By the time I figured out MAMBA/MAJS I had to write them outside the grid to make them legible.

I guess you can make GRENACHE into a sweet wine, but you don’t have to. I’m pretty sure it’s a nip ingredient of Beaujolais, for example.

JD 11:36 AM  

A walk in the park until I got to that little NW corner.

Misread Vinaigrette (which I think I might be pronouncing Vinney Garret, a guy from the old neighborhood) as Vignette (his sister).

90D as Uproar, 96A as Appt (so obviously wrong).

Small Hole-drilling Tool Dremel, even knowing 99A had to be Meme.

Didn't know Humbug means Deceptive Talk. Take Possession Of had to be Own.

It's almost unbelievable for so tiny a space.

@Frantic, A mob of emus. I just typed that so you could read it again and see what pops up next. So much potential.

RPCV Cameroon 11:39 AM  

I was blown away to see Randall Grahm post. If anyone knows about Grenache.... he does.

He makes great wine and does x-words.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

As others have said, Grenache is not a dessert wine!

jberg 11:40 AM  

@TTrimble— right , that’s why there is the word misHAP, because not all HAPS go amiss.

Carola 11:43 AM  

The puzzle: dull; me: dutiful, did it. Bright spots: the booty call, GOON SQUAD, GLITZIER, ALTER EGOS, and the TEST PILOT next to the (sonic) BOOM.

CDilly52 11:46 AM  

@EdF- SPECIE is a pretty genre-specific word in the treasury/currency department. About the only time we hear it these days is in a SPECIE circular that might discuss the lack of circulation of the US penny and the effect of same on the copper market (although so little is used in the minting of pennies one might wonder if it has an effect). Anyway, it is absolutely one for the crossword thesaurus.

GILL I. 11:48 AM  

@Nancy....I love all the film noirs and I loved "Notorious." My dad could have been Cary Grant's doppelgänger.....Anyway what I remember most of the movie were the erotic kisses. I think there was one of the looooong ones with Grant and Bergman overlooking a balcony in RIO. I'm not sure but I sure do remember that kiss. EGADS. I think Bergman sucked the tonsils out of Grant.

Hungry Mother 11:51 AM  

Straight-forward and fun to solve today. I liked the theme and enjoyed filling the themers. Faster time than usual.

CDilly52 11:51 AM  

I believe that I may have set a. Ee record for longest time. Ended to solve a Sunday in several decades anyway. This one nearly did me in. If it were t for the easy theme, I would not have made it. So many of my hang-ups were aided by the fill in the obvious theme answers. And those were just about the only places where I was on the constructor’s wavelength.

Kudos to our Mr. G this morning. I call this a true Sunday. Perhaps not much humor or clever trickery, but a good effort and a nice workout! Took me 6 coffees! ☕️ ☕️ ☕️ ☕️ ☕️ ☕️

Chippah 11:54 AM  

I am shocked that Elvis Costello’s Goon Squad wasn’t embedded in this review. While Sunday puzzles are predictable, I guess Rex is less so. :)

Hungry Mother 11:58 AM  

I remember using the phrase, “GOOSEing the gas,” for revving the car.

kitshef 12:10 PM  

@Mr. Cheese - thinking on it more, perhaps when the shining is being done to something else, it is shined, but when something is shining as an inherent property of the thing, it is shone?

I shined my shoes yesterday.

Yesterday, the sun shone for the first time in a week?

Just thinking out loud here. Where are all our usage experts today?

jberg 12:12 PM  

I knew SPECIE from reading historical fiction, but I thought of it less as coins per se than as gold and silver. It comes from the days ( says first recorded in 1545) when paper money was not very reliable; they were a promise to come up with the specified amount of the specified metal on demand (which is why dollar bills used to say "silver certificate" on them). If you didn't trust the promiser, you might demand to be paid "in specie." Minted coins were supposed to have the weight of silver or gold equivalent to their value; the milling around the edge was to prevent people from filing off part of the coin, making it worth less. Today, of course, paper money doesn't represent anything, and coins are essentially paper money made of metal -- they don't contain anything like their true value. It works fine, because most of us trust the government -- even most of those who don't trust the government do trust it in regard to the value of money. (Although on the extremes, there are those -- I think Sydney Powell is one -- who want to go back to the gold standard).

I see some people who actually know what they're talking about weighed in on GRENACHE. It's not in beaujolais -- I was confusing it with gamay.

JD 12:14 PM  

@Nancy, @Gill, I've never seen Notorious and it's free on YouTube. I'm going in. Thanks!

sixtyni yogini 12:20 PM  

Agree with all the “clever clues” comments

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Crank call predates prank call by some time.
Prank call is used by the same folks who say quadricep.
Goose as a term to increase something is quite common. Hungry mother cites a very common usage. It’s used in economics all the time too.

Joe Dipinto 12:37 PM  

@kitshef 12:10 – transitive vs. intransitive.

Anoa Bob 12:39 PM  

Coming out of the gate with A BOIL crossing A BUT had me wondering if the theme was going to be about pus-filled skin inflammations. Maybe "lance and drain" would follow. Did you know that the crossword staple "stye" (also spelled "sty") is A BOIL on the eyelid?

Advertisers don't give a hoot whether we like the people (or EMUS) in their commercials. The basic formula is to create something memorable, something that will grab the viewer, either for good or bad reasons, and then repeat, repeat, repeat, ad nauseum. Then repeat some more.

Yay for me! I lived in San Diego and know that National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach are all in between San Diego and Tijuana, but when the clue asked "What San Diego and Tijuana do", I immediately threw down ABUT. For once I didn't overthink it! Close enough for crosswords, right?

Hard not to like a puzzle with HUGS AND KISSES in it.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Hi Rex, I have been doing the NYT crossword for over 25 years. It’s the first thing I do to start my mornings and I have always enjoyed it. I occasionally look at your blog when I get stuck on a clue. It seems roughly about 98% of the time, you see to not enjoy it. I just wonder what your reasons are for doing something you obviously don’t enjoy?

NY Composer 12:47 PM  

Dreary is right. A coherent puzzle with all the fun sucked out of it and fill that missed the mark, as Rex noted. This cannot be the best the NYT can do.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Grenache is a grape or a wine made from the Grenache grape, but the wine isn’t “sweet”! (Used in Rhône type blends)

A 12:50 PM  

Happy Three French Horns Day to all who celebrate it!

@Joaquin - Thanks for "According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of SPECIE to mean “coins” was in the year 1617. I suspect the last use was in 1618." Had to work to not spew my coffee!

From the Chicago manual of style:

shine. When this verb is intransitive, it means “to give or make light”; the past tense is shone {the stars shone dimly}. When it is transitive, it means “to cause to shine”; the past tense is shined {the caterer shined the silver}.

So the flashlight shone (gave or made light) because Mary shined it (caused it to shine) in front of them. (Note that “causing something to shine” has more than one meaning. Presumably, Mary didn’t shine her flashlight along with her forks.) A grammar guide with a sense of humor! My first time at the CMOS site but not my last.


Anonymous 12:53 PM  

even slow brained english majors should have taken Econ 101, where you would have learned that for many millennia, money was solely crafted from some precious material. for the last few millennia in the West, that has been gold and silver. now, is SPECIE only gold or silver coins? some of the more out-there gold bugs assert so. less out-there gold bugs would settle for the status pre-Nixon 1971, when he (without Congress? yikes!) by fiat, ended convertability of paper currency to silver or gold; aka SPECIE backed currency. before then, what are now, officially, Federal Reserve Notes (paper dollars) were then labelled 'silver certificates' and stated that one could have silver in place of the paper bills; "in silver payable to the bearer on demand".

the problem with SPECIE money are legion, not the least of which is that an expanding economy, national or global, with a (short to medium term) fixed supply of such 'money' is structurally deflationary, which means continuing Depression. prices have to fall as the economy(ies) attempt to expand, thus consumers avoid buying today that which will be cheaper tomorrow. tomorrow they do the same thing. on so on. capitalists avoid investment, since the money they get for increased production never will appear. the economy contracts forever.

in sum, while derided by the gold bugs, an intelligently managed fiat currency allows the body of currency to expand to meet overall economic expansion without the stress of inflation and deflation. that, of course, requires the managers of the currency to be without agenda. good luck with that.

Masked and Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Thought for sure that {Silent partners} would = MASKEDANDANONYMOUS.

Solid, but fairly basic theme mcguffin. Needed a little more wackiness, or somesuch, to really trip the M&A trigger. Themers were just too easy to figure out; gained precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: QIN. Better clue: {Desperate to splatz a ___ the puzgrid}. QIN was critical, in facilitatin ISSO & NTHS, tho. [@RP was also critical, in general.]

Made the whole rodeo, for m&e: BUTTDIAL & BEERPONG & U-ness [yo, @Roo].

Thanx for partnerin up, without gangin up, Mr. Grinberg. QIN made old M&A Grin, 'berg.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Anonymous 1:06 PM  

101A SPECIE. This word we should know, and it is not as esoteric as some claim. But today it is rare. At one time, you could see phrases like "one demanded money in specie" (as opposed to in writing or on a paper note.

We now use simply the word "coins." This has come up recently, with coins in short supply, with people not wanting to toss these things around due to plague. Even I have been paying for things with a credit card, so that I won't have to touch cash (but I have been tipping grocery cashiers and baggers when they allow it--they are immensely grateful, and if you can afford it you should do it).

Coin shortages can become interesting. Giovanni (3:29 a.m.) mentions the Italian term *spicci* for coins. I don't know the Italian nominative--the word must derive from the Latin *species* and be related to the our English specie. I remember in Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s there was a major coin shortage. I would buy a slice of pizza and the proprietor would ask for "spicci"--normally clipped to "speech." If I held out long enough he would usually find the 20 lire owed, worth a little less than 20 cents, if I recall correctly. This was after throwing up his hands and gazing hopelessly at his till, which was supposed not to have any coins. Grocery stores had no time for this nonsense--if they owed 15 lire and had no money, they would give you a few little (and I mean little) pieces of caramel.

Italian banks learned quickly how to profit from all this. They began issuing "miniassegni" (small paper notes). To translate this to the modern world, let's say we live in a world with cash-only payments, and we have no nickels or dimes. The local bank issues miniassegni, dime notes, printed on paper which costs well less than a penny. Issuing these notes was illegal, but no one cared. The bank promised to repay their true value, if they were turned in. Collectors started collecting these notes--as in modern stamp collecting, whenever you print something that no one redeems, all the profit goes to you.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Unknown 1:08 PM  

are there enough wimmen in this poozle for faux damsel loving Rex to approve of said poozle?

Nancy 1:17 PM  

@JD -- You're in for a huge treat! I really envy you being able to watch "Notorious" for the first time. It may actually be my favorite Hitchcock for pure suspense. "Thief" may be more scenic and glamorous, "Northwest" more spectacular in its filming, "The Lady Vanishes" wittier, "Strangers on a Train" more nail-biting during that fabulous, never-ending tennis match, and "Dial M for Murder" more ingenious -- but "Notorious" is full of plot twists and really piles on the suspense in scene after scene. You'll love it!

And then, if there are any Hitchcocks mentioned above that you also haven't seen, you have many other treats in store.

What? 1:18 PM  

Another USA Today Sunday puzzle. Zipped through it as if on automatic. Ho hum and humbug.

Bonnie Buratti 1:23 PM  

Knew it was going to be bad with abut and aboil in the very first square. Just a fest of crosswordese and USA Today puzzling until the very last square with ogee. I know we have to attract younger puzzlers, and the easy theme was good for that, but why all the trite fill?

Did you notice that "Riddler" also appears in that little warm-up puzzle "Making Waves" (if you solve in the paper version)?

KnittyContessa 1:42 PM  

@Nancy there is one famous outdoor scene in Notorious. When Ingrid Bergman is drunk and driving like a maniac with Cary Grant next to her in the car. Not Rio, but outdoors and memorable. I love when he wraps the scarf around her waist. Another great scene is when she wakes up hungover and Hitchcock shoots it from her point of view.

@GILLI fabulous scene!

jae 1:51 PM  

Anon 9:13 is right about San Ysidro.

Frantic Sloth 2:01 PM  

@TTrimble 737am We've had GOOSED (or GOOSE) clued this way before and I remember railing against it then. Fat lotta good that does. LOL!
The only way I would equate GOOSE to "boost" is via @Teedmn's 948am (Hi!) story. If one is GOOSing for a boost, well that's different.
As for your EMUS vs Doug opinion, I'm inclined to agree. Would go so far as to blame Doug-juice-by-association as the EMU'S misfortune and the main reason for my misdirected animosity.

I can't speak for you or anyone else as to why jingles take up QTRS in the brain. In my case it's owed to a cavernous living space and the spectacular panorama viewable from both ears.

@pabloinnh 813am Why does your family wear your slippers while drinking coffee?

@JD 1136am Between your idea and @TTrimble's 1105am challenge, I give you:
"A Mob of EMUS" by A. Mobofemus Brilliant, no?
BTW, one has to GET ("take possession of") something before one actually has ("owns") it. That's how I thought of it anyway and I'm really smart. Everybody says so. Everybody.

Crimson Devil 2:22 PM  

BOOTY CALL memorable, EMUs most obnoxious ad since Mr . Whipple—I’ve never bought a roll of Charmin since, SHINED and GOOSED perfectly fair game, cannot stand REMOTE teaching.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

face it: only GEICO has perfected the art of funny in-surance adverts. bring back Maxwell!!! the LM ones are the worst.

Angela 2:46 PM  

Thank you. Man, this clue bugged me to no end. I got grenache early on because of a few crosses, and I refused to write it in on principle. While we're here, a Mai Tai isn't a rum drink with Curaçao and "fruit juices." That clue could describe basically any tiki drink, but the vagueness isn't tricky, it's just wrong. The only "fruit juice" in a Mai Tai is lime.
-your friendly (grumpy?) neighborhood bar manager

RooMonster 3:09 PM  

Some Books for your perusal:

"The Lion Attacked" by Claude Yarmoff
"Irish Heart Surgery" by Angie O'Plasty
"School Truancy" by Marcus Absen
"I Lost My Balance" by Eileen Dover and Phil Down
"Shush!" by Danielle Solid
"Stop Arguing" by Xavier Breth

RooMonster Har Guy

bertoray 3:29 PM  

Had denier for DEFIER, but ORANGE fits.

RooMonster 3:37 PM  

Dang auto-corrupt -
Danielle Soloud

JD 3:37 PM  

@Gill and Nancy, Woo. Swooning. I knew when I saw Mother's braids wrapped around her head like a noose we were in for a ride. Incredible. I'd have gone for those tonsils myself.

@Frantic, 4.5 party favors (I'd have given you five but the decimal point always cracks me up).

Smith 4:01 PM  

They got their shoes shined until they shone.

Joaquin 4:13 PM  

@Whatshername - Know what "WWWWLWWWWWWWWWW" spells?

pabloinnh 4:33 PM  

@Frantic-Forgot to mention that after I finished the puzzle, I went outside and shot an elephant in my pajamas.

thefogman 4:36 PM  

The editor is like our lame-duck commander in chief. He’s still in office but clearly doesn’t give a damn. Time for a change...

GILL I. 5:18 PM  

@JD.....Sweet, no? Now I want to go re- watch "Like Water for Chocolate." ;-)

Elizabeth Sandifer 5:24 PM  

Indeed, this was the dullsville express. Biggest peeves.

LAGS? Seriously? Has anyone ever pluralized that word?

GRENACHE, which while used in dessert wines is mostly known as a dry red wine, leading this to be a clue I got entirely from crosses despite knowing the word well because at every step I was like “well this must be a subtly different name I don’t know.” Just clue it as red wine. Ugh.

ulysses 5:26 PM  

shit sandwich

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

I know it is very late, but I recall something to the effect that Europeans had no paper money until intrepid souls like Marco Polo managed to travel overland to China and back to report the amazing technology they saw in China, including printing presses and paper money. Can some expert elaborate on this?

Z 6:39 PM  

I just finished the WAPO Sunday Puzzle with a Meta Puzzle, 5X5. The Puzzle itself wasn’t tough, although a little choppy. If you like puzzling beyond the crossword itself, boy howdy, Evan will put you through your paces. Over at Diary of A Crossword Fiend the solving time is listed as Four cups of egg nog and two shots of rum. About right. I strongly suggest printing it out - my copy has all sorts of notes and mark-ups. I’m guessing the meta took me a good 45 minutes to figure out, maybe longer.

TTrimble 6:47 PM  

Nice! I didn't describe an additional constraint my family works under, which is not to construct title and author solely to be in service of the game, but come up with something that sounds halfway plausible as an actual title and author, but which slyly manages to be funny in this way.

I think your Marcus Absen comes pretty close to what I mean; if Absen were a recognizable last name, and if the title were tweaked just a little so that it sounds more realistically like a title you might find in a library, then it would have that certain je ne sais quoi that we're looking for.

Eileen Dover and Phil Down is a very promising beginning. Both of those are perfectly plausible names. Xavier Breth sounds a little more forced, or at least "Breth" sounds as if it were made up in service of the game. The Xavier however is also a promising start.

Sgt. Mac 6:51 PM  

Booty clue/butt dial is the funniest !
C’mon Rex - get a life.
Or at least a sense of humor.

Anoa Bob 7:48 PM  

pabloinnh @ how the heck did that elephant get into your pajamas?

albatross shell 7:55 PM  

So SHINED is correct.

MOB is correct. Why the complaints? If you read the Donna Andrews' mysteries with the crimesolver who is a woman who has emus you might appreciate the term MOB. They often escape raising havoc near and far. A riot of emus might work too. Do not understand the dislike for it here.

Goose (verb) definition M-W
2.Give (something) a boost; invigorate; increase.

Mechanics use it regularly, as do many others.

Come on, @frantic, don't doctors goose the oxygen mixture or the pain killer in drips or the power in their golf swings or their bills or something?

Diane Joan 8:10 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle today, although I originally had "change" in place of specie. I figured out the correct word from the crosses but it was a new word for me. The only clue I would take issue with is "a student may pass this". As a former high school teacher I found that note passing had been replaced by texting or other electronic means of communication. Why leave evidence that a nosy teacher could read when you could send a message on your password protected phone? Students are pretty savvy these days!

RooMonster 9:30 PM  

How bouts
"Anger Management" by Y. I. Awta

Still "eh", I guess.


TTrimble 10:13 PM  

Sorry, yes, hate to say it, not quite at that sweet spot. Otherwise, love the Cagney vibe. :-)

Little shout out to ya there. Gotta say -- yes, the Grant & Bergman scene smolders. It wasn't quite tonsil-sucking in its overtness, but it didn't have to be. Just imagine them off-camera, getting it on. Terrific.

Frantic Sloth 10:41 PM  

@pabloinnh 433pm 🤣🤣🤣

@albatross shell 755pm Yeah, I've been reading some good arguments (such as yours) for the boost-based GOOSE, so I can let that one go. It won't be missed since the nit pit is bottomless. 😁

JimSinSalem 10:57 AM  

Favorite clue/answer here was 39 down: Subject of a Magritte work (or not?). Takes a little knowledge of art history, but the reference is to the artist's most famous work, so perfectly fair. I agree with most about specie, seems an awkward throwback to the era of arcana in the Times crossword.

Anonymous 6:15 PM  

My wife had the same comment. She couldn't recall ever seeing a sweet grenache.

Burma Shave 1:08 PM  


AND to USE his UNIT just BUTTDIAL it.


spacecraft 1:15 PM  

"Ow! My GREN hurts!"
"I have a GRENACHE!"
"Take two MAITAI and call me in the morning."

I can't remember the name of the movie, but it was about this android. Our hero takes him into a casino, and the droid says "They proffer SPECIE." That is the only time I ever RANACROSS that word. I thought it just meant money in general, but the clue says otherwise. Who knew? And thank goodness for GIMLET, or that M would be a natick square.

Despite these difficulties, I was able to finish a medium-challenging grid. Not for the simple theme, but mostly for some iffy fill. It wasn't looking good right out of the box with MAJS, and things didn't improve that much.

I've never seen her, but hey: ANY woman who can run Chicago gets an automatic DOD from me. You go, LORI!

It waddled like a slog, it quacked like a was a slog. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 6:32 PM  

Thank you, @Spacey, for your clarifying post - I now see SPECIE was not merely a specious word. And the opening skit is worthy of SNL's cold open. Made my puzzling day.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a BUTT DIAL from my ALTEREGOS

Unknown 5:39 PM  

San Diego County does abut

Phillip Blackerby 11:31 PM  

The Texas Legislature meets for 150 days every two years. It's a biennial session that results in, among other things, a biennial budget. Biennium after biennium, we passed the biennia. But, as a judge once said, "No man's life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session."

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