1957 Jimmy Dorsey hit / SUN 1-31-21 / Oldest tech. school in U.S. founded 1824 / Lonely Boy singer 1959 / Prairie east of the Andes / Cloth woven from flax fibre / On a seder plate it represents the arrival of springtime

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Medium (10-ish)

THEME: "Product Misplacement" — familiar expression where some general category of thing has been replaced with a specific brand of said thing, and then clued wackily. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • MONSTER RAM RALLY (23A: Huge celebration after L.A.'s football team wins the Super Bowl?) (so ... it's "monster truck rally" ... and the RAM, clued here as a football team, is a brand of truck ...)
  • NATURE ABHORS A HOOVER (38A: Reason that the prestigious scientific journal refuses articles from President Herbert's relatives?) ("natures abhors a vacuum," and HOOVER. clued here as a president, is a brand of vacuum) (etc.)
  • MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER (57A: Apology from a musician to the other band members?) (Solo cups are a thing)
  • WORKED FOR PLANTERS (79A: Volunteered at a nursery?) (so ... the clue wants you to think of the kind of nursery with plants ... where you'd maybe see ... planters?) (also PLANTERS is a brand of peanut, obvs)
  • THROWING IN THE BOUNTY (97A: Adding a historic ship as a deal sweetener?)
  • TALE OF THE SCOTCH (117A: Story about a drinking binge?)
Word of the Day: Ad VALOREM tax (44D: Ad ___ tax) —
An ad valorem tax (Latin for "according to value") is a tax whose amount is based on the value of a transaction or of property. It is typically imposed at the time of a transaction, as in the case of a sales tax or value-added tax (VAT). An ad valorem tax may also be imposed annually, as in the case of a real or personal property tax, or in connection with another significant event (e.g. inheritance taxexpatriation tax, or tariff). In some countries a stamp duty is imposed as an ad valorem tax. (wikipedia)
• • •

I can't give much time to this because it's so depressing. This puzzle is depressing, and the general state of the NYTXW Sunday is so depressing. The editors are busy bragging that they're getting more submissions than ever, but as far as I know they don't have a great explanation for why Sundays continue to be so completely terrible the large majority of the time. It's stunning to me how stale Sundays are, week in and week out. Not sure why the best constructors seem to avoid them. Paolo Pasco had one a few weeks back that was fantastic. But most of what comes out just rehashes the corny, stale wordplay of yesteryear, with fill to match. Today's theme didn't even make sense. Or, rather, the title in no way accurately represented what the theme was about. "Product Misplacement?" Nothing ... is misplaced. Placement ... is not an issue. At all. In every case, you are making the general specific (for some reason ... I guess this amuses you ... we'll leave the specific merits of the theme aside for the moment). That's not "misplacement?" The product is in the same "place" as it ever was. But instead of the general (e.g. "towel"), we get the specific (i.e. "BOUNTY"). So it's awful from the jump, on its face, in the title. This is elementary stuff. It's fine to have a title that only faintly captures what the theme is about—not all themes are reducible to a pithy title. But to have one that actively misstates the premise. That is bad. 

Then there's the inconsistency. The truck that's turned into a RAM is actually a truck, whereas the vacuum that's turned into a HOOVER is not a household-appliance vacuum. "Peanuts" are metaphorical, but still, the basis of the metaphor is the food, which is what PLANTERS are: peanuts. But you don't throw in a *paper* towel, which is what BOUNTY is. And I get that SCOTCH tape is a thing, and that SCOTCH is a brand (even though it's used generically to mean a kind of tape, like Kleenex ... I think). But wow, that answer. First of all, "tale of the tape" is the kind of phrase that ... I don't even really know what it means. I know I've heard it, but it's not exactly evocative of ... anything for me. Apparently it comes from boxing (which used to be a big deal in the 20th century, kids, ask your folks), where you'd compare boxers' stats, including their reaches, which I guess ... you measured with tape. So the base phrase feels archaic to me. And SCOTCH, well, SCOTCH is not something I readily associate with a *brand*; no, Scotch is something I drink, and something I desperately want to drink right about now, as the conceptual deficiencies of this puzzle are really too much.

Imagine thinking VALOREM is a good thing to put in your puzzle. I don't know how something like that—a *long* *partial* *Latin* answer—gets in here. Maybe Jimmy Dorsey or Paul ANKA or Johnny UNITAS knows the answer. Which is to say, holy smokes this puzzle is living in the past (and *only* in the distant past). Please, don't accuse me of I not enjoying old things—I'm a medievalist, for pete's sake (shout-out to all the ANGLO-Norman fans out there!)—the issue is how aggressively, er, AGO a puzzle is, and this one's about as aggressive as they come. BAILOR? NUNCIO? What am I supposed to do with this? I can handle some antiquated rough stuff here and there, if there's, you know, amelioration somewhere else in the grid. But alas. All I get is IRISH LINEN, which I'd like to like, but honestly, again, I don't even know what that is. 

[123A: Puccini piece]

I struggled in the NE because of VALOREM (???) and then because I had GROAN instead of GRUNT (possibly because I was groaning, not grunting, while solving) (22A: Sound of exertion). Ran into the old ALOT v. ATON dilemma (31A: Oodles and oodles). Couldn't see "MERCI" as a "nicety" (26A: Nice nicety) (ugh, why do you let your cutesy alliterating and rhyming take precedence over precision!?) (Oh, and "Nice" is a city in France, in case that didn't register). Clue on SPA DAY was way too vague for me to have much hope there (48A: Restorative indulgence). Oh, and I misspelled FOIE (Fr. for "liver") as FOIS (Fr. for "times"), thus ending up with ASONS at 43D: Units in the life span of a galaxy (AEONS), which I was *almost* willing to believe was some astronomical term I'd just never heard. But thankfully I caught the mistake on FOIE and fixed it. The rest of the puzzle was uneventful (unless groans are events). Alright, that's all. Sorry, Sunday-only solvers. I wish I could be more chipper for you, but truly you have chosen the worst day of the week to solve. Trust me, I solve them all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:07 AM  

Oh, dear God - not EGOT again! Loins are girded...

I don't know why NATUREABHORSAHOOVER cracked me up, but it did. The funny bone was pinged. What can I say?

So, didn't check the title and assume the trick here is just substituting brand names for various items.
(One of these is not like the others.)
RAM (truck), HOOVER (vacuum), SOLO (cup), PLANTERS (peanuts), SCOTCH (tape), and...BOUNTY (towel??) Paper towel actually, but does anyone throw in the paper towel? First of all, good luck with that - unless it's damp or has a rock inside or something. Secondly, don't be wasting paper towels! Don't you realize they're in high demand these days?? C'mon!

Anyway, after my inexplicable delight over HOOVER hate, the rest of the themers fell a little flat, IMHO. I get they're creative and all - just not that funny to me. And I presume humor was the goal here...right? I could be wrong. It happens.

However, I felt like the fill and/or its clueing was/were better than basic (except for that "question spate" waiting to happen. You know who you are), and together, it was a good time overall - which is what counts in my picture book.

Question: I don't remember a STU Who. Maybe in the live action film?
I realize it's a stupid question, but I never ask any other kind. I have standards, you know.


Pete 12:17 AM  

A while ago I was looking for small cups to use in mixing stain. At my third store I finally found something, shot size SOLO cups, and was amazed at Solo's commitment to monetizing binge drinking. That's when I noticed all the other stuff there was few kids parties. So where these shot glasses or kiddie sized beer cups? In any case, nothing like getting for kids used to drinking out of red SOLO cups before they're five.

Joaquin 12:20 AM  

I don't care what you say, @Rex, I had fun with this. So what if UNITAS is an old-timer? He's still one of the greats. As clued, VALOREM was a gimme. And the title works just fine for me.

I thought this was a lot less *sloggish* than a lot of recent Sunday puzzles. It is SO RARE a day that @Rex doesn't nit-pick a puzzle to death and this was no exception. But I liked it. So there!

mmorgan 12:31 AM  

Yes, it’s difficult to guess between ALOT and ATON, and I also went between GROAN and GRUNT. I did like NATURE ABHORS A HOOVER — that one made me smile. Rex isn’t entirely wrong but I enjoyed this a lot more than her did. The fact that it felt like an “old Sunday” was its strong point for me. I guess I also feel like an old Sunday.

BTW, and apropos of nothing, I have been working very intermittently on the SUPER MEGA of a few weeks ago. I finished it today and I guess it’s an impressive construction given it’s size, but it had at least a dozen Natick, at least for me. Most of it was pretty easy but some splotches were impossible.

Damn it’s cold here!

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

I know it’s late in the game, but I would love to know if anyone donates money to Rex during his donation time...

jae 12:54 AM  

Easy. Kinda agree with @Rex on this one.

chefwen 1:20 AM  

I was with @Fratic with EGOT, I was praying nobody would ask what that meant, I don’t think I could take the explanations again.

I enjoyed this one. Wasn’t too keen of TALE OF THE SCOTCH, not really a brand name. I did see another brand name though in 16D. DOVE. Do I get an extra point for that?

chefwen 1:22 AM  

Oops I forgot about SCOTCH tape.

John Hoffman 1:35 AM  

Yuck. This puzzle actually made me mad. So much weird stuff. Why do I waste my time?

Chris Mc 1:52 AM  

"Product Placement" actually works as a title. The specific product is placed where its general category is.

okanaganer 2:01 AM  

I have to agree with Rex on the theme. Corporate product names, hate them; as a lame theme, really hate them. Pretty much fell flat for me. (PS evidently in Britain, "Hoover" is used to mean "vacuum up"; don't ask me why.)

I can't see LEMMING in this context without thinking of that now infamous Disney film which I saw as a child and scarred me for life. Actually not that badly scarred, but I remember the lemming scene vividly, and was a bit traumatized by it. In case you don't want to click the link, summary: totally faked.

"thing with tags"...SKIN!!

Cliff 2:31 AM  

The only smile I remember was on "nature abhors a hoover." Like Frantic Sloth, that answer made me laugh. The rest of the puzzle was a slog. I don't always share Rex's (mostly) negative take on Sunday puzzles. But this one definitely was not fun for me.

geoff 2:45 AM  

I have.

mkyritsis 4:05 AM  

Yes I donated. What would we do without the guy?

Charles Flaster 5:18 AM  

Have to totally agree with Rex on just about all Draculas.
Knew it was VAT but never got VALOREM.
Loved watching UNITAS play ; saw Paul ANKA about a year ago in concert and he was in fine form.
Anyway, thanks JH.

Lewis 6:15 AM  

Some random takeaways that I liked:
• ENCOURAGE is only one letter away from “entourage” -- a realization that gave me a useless but lovely brain ping.
• PAMPA, three card MONTE, NUNCIO, and the lovely IRISH LINEN – things I haven't thought about in quite a while -- brought to light.
• A couple of lovely pairs: INCA and ANKA, and NANNY crossing NINNY.
• OCTA to echo yesterday’s OCHO.
• A theme that inspired a new saw for crosswords, for after an unsuccessful solve: “That’s the way the Oreo crumbles!”

Not to mention that this puzzle exercised my recall, honed my solving chops, and gave me something to admire with its clever theme concept – and it’s a gift to have something to admire. Thank you, Jim!

Shontelle 6:38 AM  

I do

Lobster11 6:42 AM  

To call this dull as dishwater would be an insult to dishwater everywhere.

I spent several minutes staring at the completed grid, re-reading all the theme clues and answers in hopes of discovering that I had overlooked some clever, additional twist to the theme. Nope.

Colin 7:15 AM  

The first themer I got was NATUREABHORSAHOOVER, which I really liked. The Brits "hoover" their carpets, an adaptation of the product brand I've always enjoyed. I see how Rex was peeved that this was not clued as a vacuum - RAM is a truck, HOOVER is a President's family...
WORKEDFORPLANTERS was fine as well. The others, well yes, they left me scratching my head a little - not quite as clever. This is a ... metaphorical? ... misplacement, not a literal one. Maybe "Product Substitution"?

I read the science journal Nature as part of my work, so that was another reason to enjoy that answer.
Got me thinking about titles like (and I'm trying to be non-partisan here) "Science Trumps All" or "Lancet Spears Biden".... (sorry!).

ncmathsadist 7:23 AM  

worst cross: RAGA and EGOT. What the hell is an egot???

Newf 7:31 AM  

Nature abhors egot x raga

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

Giggle! 52D crossing 69A Tee Hee!

Joaquin 7:45 AM  

@Anonymous (12:48) asks if anyone donates to @Rex. The implied question is, "Why would you?"

Providing this blog on a daily basis is a huge commitment and, as far as I know, Rex has never missed a day. That, alone, is worth something. And he provides a group of us a daily opportunity to interact with others who share our hobby.

So ... while I almost never agree with Rex's opinion, he does provide a valuable service worth a donation.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Best Sunday in weeks. I smiled throughout. A pleasure to solve. I guess Rex got up on the wrong side of the Sealy.

Colin 8:08 AM  

@ncmathsadist, 7:23: Yes, this took me a while too.
EGOT is "Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony" - the Grand Slam of the performing arts.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

EGOT = Emmy + Grammy + Oscar + Tony, the home run of entertainment awards. EGOT seems to have been in articles I have run across recently. Theme answers were all easy, made the puzzle easier.

ChuckD 8:17 AM  

Getting crazy today - ANKA and Dorsey in the same puzzle. Throw in Mitch Miller or Bobby Vinton and we’re rockin. I didn’t actually have an issue with the theme idea - but the implementation is rough. When I am filling in a Sunday grid - I need something to keep me going - this didn’t have it.

The 6th grader in me got a kick out of the GO LIMP x RIGID cross - especially with the Chocolat reference. But the center is just hammered by the inclusion of BAILOR and META. A lot of short GORP today - there’s A TON of them. Are KIWIs only found in fruit salads?

Preparing for a foot+ tomorrow - this puzzle did nothing to help my mood.

Joaquin 8:22 AM  

EGOT. Egads! It's b-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!

ZoΓ« 8:34 AM  


bocamp 8:34 AM  

Thx, @Jim, for a fine Sunday puz. Very much enjoyed! :)

Just north of easy.

Only minor glitch was having "seal" instead of "star" at 8D. Bit of a head-scratch to sort it out.

What a fun movie is "Elf"; have loved "Ed Asner" since The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

So "Rare" ~ Jimmy Dorsey (1957)

yd 0

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Šb

Jeff 8:36 AM  

I think it’s Bounty as in Bounty Bar. Otherwise how does it “sweeten” the deal? Right. But no one throws in the bar. So... Furthet confusion.

ZoΓ« 8:37 AM  

Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony... Someone who has won them all.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Yes, I donate. I believe one should pay for services rendered.

Unknown 8:48 AM  

Agreed, only the ‘natureabhorsahoover’ made me smile. I dont know how so many people jump on Rex for ‘nit picking’ a puzzle. This puzzle was otherwise absolutely awful. The only thing that kept me going was an irrational attachment to my ‘streak’

Sioux Falls 8:49 AM  

Donater here. I spend more time reading the column and all of your comments thn I do on most of the streaming services that I pay $10 a month for and never watch. I generally agree with Rex’s overall review, although I do occasionally disagree with his specific objections. And I did put the very nice cat postcard on my refrigerator.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Yes, and I scored with the kitty eating kale postcard.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Anyone else have a problem with the syntax of clue on 6D? Seems like DISMISSED, rather than IS DISMISSED, is the correct clue for LETSOUT?

Hungry Mother 8:50 AM  

Fairly quick today, but I don’t get Rex’s complaints. I enjoyed the theme as well as the overall solve.

Unknown 9:14 AM  

Quit asking dumb questions!!

pmdm 9:16 AM  

Joachim: I think that was the point. Of course people freely donate. If they didn't as at XWordInfo one would have to be forced to donate to access certain areas/features of the site. And when its vacation time down under, others caretake this blog which means Mike Sharp does miss doing the blog on certain cays. Not to mention his monthly stand-ins. (Which is not meant to denigrate all his efforts.)

I have some nits to pick with the puzzle. Perhaps many. But I find the write-up more depressing than the puzzle. It's only a puzzle, and to elicit such over-the-top (my characterization only) a reaction to me seems depressing.

mmorgan: I also have taken your approach to the mega. Am almost finished. My reaction was the same as yours.

It may seem that if Mike likes a constructor, his criticism is much less harsh. His write-up may even try to (seeming endlessly) justify his reactions (as happened this past Friday). Sadly, even if a agree with the assessments voiced on this site, to often the rhetoric hits me the same way the ultra-partisan political rhetoric sounds. I don't agree with all of the decisions Shortz makes, but the NYT seems happy with him economically. Time to muzzle myself.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

@Frantic Sloth 'Gird your loins' means to hike up your tunic so that your legs are free for movement. It really means to get ready to work. Rex, Irish linen is just that, linen made in Ireland. It's a terrible clue. Fabric made from flax is linen. Irish was added just to fit the grid. Brooks Brothers does sell garments made from Irish linen, but given that there are those who consider them passe that seems to work rather well for this puzzle.

Frayed Knot 9:21 AM  

@ Jeff 8:36 is correct. How does "Throw in the towel" relate to sweetening a deal? Bounty is a candy bar, not a very popular one, so how does that fit the theme? Good catch @ Jeff.

kitshef 9:22 AM  

Very enjoyable, other than STU. I’m guessing STU Lou Who is from one of the unmemorable live-action remakes. Hardest thing in the puzzle was the cross of STU with NOT IN, which seems a poor match to the slangy “so last year”.

SOLO right above OLIN – two things I learned from crosswords, and really only hear in crosswords.

KING COLE seems naked without ‘old’ or ‘Nat’.

YOKE as in oxen comes from the same root as ‘yoga’.

Oh, the leftovers of the Colonial era. PESOs no longer exist in Spain, but are in the Philippines. No francs in France, but there they are in Cameroon. Portugal gave up her escudos, but you’ll need them in Cabo Verde. The UK gave up the shilling, but Uganda has them still.

@ROO – you are becoming a regular!

Liz1508 9:25 AM  

Yes, yes, yes. S/B “dismisses”.

RooMonster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
No more questions about what EGOT is!!!! And no more Answers about it!!!

Ok, got that out of my system! Had a quasi-malapop of sorts, was going to say for the Procrastinate clue that ROO wouldn't fit (too short), and then I go find ROOS elsewhere in the puz! Har. I have a t-shirt that says "I put the PRO in Procrastinate". Too true in my case... And then I lament why I don't get anything done. Good stuff.

I liked this puz, not sure why Rex gave it such a bashing. It's putting a Brand Name in place of what the saying is. Simple, neat. And the clues were geared towards the Brand Name in the answer, not what it stood for. That's why THROW IN THE BOUNTY works, it's clued as the Ship BOUNTY, but you have to mentally change it to mean the Towel Brand to get a sensible phrase. That one took me the longest, as I knew the Brand Name would stand for Towel, but I just kept thinking cloth towels, like bath towels, beach towels, etc. and couldn't think of a known Brand Name of a towel. All I could think of was South Park's Towelie! Finally sussed it, and let out a "Ohhh, paper towel!"

It did take me a while to figure out what the hey was going on. Finally clicked at MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER. Ah, good ole SOLO cups. There's even a Country song about Red Solo Cups. By that time, my puz was pretty much 2/3 solved. Dang, the ole brain was slow this morning.

The SE corner was the toughest for me. Twixt the BOPUNTY and wanting OLDKINGCOLE (even though it didn't fit) had me in knots. Tried Iquit for IWONT, had incolor for NUANCED, Glum for gray, "confirmed" by oahu for KONA. Then wanting NiNNY where NANNY is, then finding NINNY crossing it eventually. SCOTCH actually took a bit of time, too.

There's products out there that are Brand Names that have morphed into what they are called. Like the Brits "HOOVER". You don't ask for an adhesive bandage when you get a cut, you ask for a Band-Aid. You don't ask for a cotton swab, you ask for a Q-Tip.

Anyway, one of the best all time clues was in the Mini today, "It has its peas in a queue" Three letters. That got a good chuckle from me!

Three F's
One ROOS! (Twice in two days. I'm getting popular!)

TTrimble 9:28 AM  

I experienced most of this puzzle as a slog -- it felt as though it took much longer than it actually did, and looking at it in the light of the morning, not much about it gives me pleasure. Quite a lot of short fill, of a fairly uninteresting sort as far as I'm concerned.

I wonder how many people paused over CARET. In case anyone is wondering: to form a mathematical exponent, for example to render "2 to the third power = 2 cubed", one types 2^3. There's that CARET.

Agree with Rex about the general crustiness. Jimmy Dorsey and his 1957 hit SO RARE is before my time. Johnny UNITAS is not quite from before my time, but ancient all the same. Amazed to hear from another commenter that Paul ANKA is still performing (I just looked him up and he'll be 80 this year; I thought he'd be rather older). PEOPLE magazine, egad -- anyone here willing to confess they do the PEOPLE Crossword? BAILOR, Ad VALOREM tax -- where is SNL's Middle-Aged Man when you most need him?

My nits with the theme differ slightly from Rex's, although I grant he's making some reasonable points. Putting the conceptual "misplacement" aside, my nit is that, e.g., no one says just SCOTCH for the product. No one says, "Honey, where's the SCOTCH?" when it's the tape they're looking for, and no one says, "Where's my SOLO; I had it in my hand just a minute ago." BOUNTY suffers from the same problem. If you did say, "Honey, where did you put the Bounty?" (and I hope you didn't), you'd be talking about the roll of paper towels, plural, and not a single towel.

(Trump doing a basketball shot with a roll of paper towels in Puerto Rico was not a case of "throwing in the towel", nosiree Bob. Christ, what an asshole.)

In other words, all of these examples violate the rule of substitutability: an answer must be plausibly substitutable for the clue, or here, for the term that is being displaced (I'd say here 'displaced', not 'misplaced'). The only theme words that work in my opinion are HOOVER (which is indeed smile-inducing, and I think people could and do on occasion substitute HOOVER for vacuum [cleaner]) and RAM, which works just barely.

*** Acrostic Alert ***

Anyone try the acrostic? I found this one more difficult than others in recent memory. I could not have been able to guess, without the "crosses", the answers to E, F, I, and Q. N.B.: unless you're in Grid mode, the answer given for C is missing a letter -- an editorial mistake. As words go, I like the answer to K, and gave it a little nod. ;-)

MissScarlet 9:37 AM  

I do donate, but not during his donation week. Later in the year I send a check and a note. I think of Rex as a coach or a teacher. And I am getting better.

pabloinnh 9:40 AM  

Well, I had fun with this, so clearly it's age-related. Thought the theme was OK because the "products" were misplaced, in that they were in a phrase where a synonym was required. HOOVER as a verb is very familiar to me as we used to hire staff from England as housekeepers. And "tale of the tape" is a memorable phrase, even if you're only tangentially interested in boxing, which I used to be, but can no longer stand to look at.

PAMPA as a singular seems odd but I liked remembering NUNCIO instantly.

And here we go with EGOT again. There's always a first time, and some of us willalways like some puzzles that others don't, the end.. One thing I will never find a crossword puzzle is "depressing" , unlike OFL.

Thanks for the fun,JH. Nice old-fashioned Sunday.

Blue Stater 9:42 AM  

@Anonymous, 12:48 a.m.: I donate to Rex annually (and modestly) for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that he keeps me sane -- I'm not the only one who thinks the NYTXW has gone to hell in a handbasket under its current editorship, a view strongly reinforced by today's mess. W the actual F?

SouthsideJohnny 9:45 AM  

A lot of this was brutally groan-inducing - others have pointed out the obvious (ex. RAGA x EGOT and VALOREM). The two that had me scratching my head were ORATORIOS (apparently it is like an opera without all of the costumes and such) and CARET - I still haven’t discerned the manner in which it is considered a “power symbol” - maybe electric power ? Something to do with diamonds ? - it just occurred to me that it might be used instead of a superscript to indicate a mathematical power, so I was a late bloomer on that one.

I definitely enjoyed Friday and Saturday more, even though I usually feel like doing a Saturday is something akin to wandering into quicksand because I get debilitated so quickly - slogging through today’s clues felt like I received an after-school punishment because I didn’t turn in my homework assignment.

There is definitely a contingent here that found it reasonably challenging and enjoyable, so I may be an outlier - but I do agree with Rex’s assessment, especially that it skews older. I wonder what percentage of solvers under, say 35 or so would enjoy it.

Bob of Concord 9:47 AM  

I did

JOHN X 9:48 AM  


I remember the Disney film from grade school, but even better was the off-off-off-Broadway stage show Lemmings, produced by National Lampoon in 1973.

It was a parody of the Woodstock Festival of 1969, called the "Woodchuck Festival of Peace, Love, and Death," where the point was for the all the million-plus attendees to kill themselves by the end of the festival. The audience of the small theater on Bleeker Street were considered to be festival participants. John Belushi as the stage announcer is priceless.

This show actually begat the National Lampoon Radio Hour, which provided half the original cast of Saturday Night Live, which would premiere two years later.

I couldn't find many online clips from the original soundtrack album (which is a gem from beginning to end) but here's one that's pretty good, a sort of "granola folk song" about getting back to nature. It features Chevy Chase (back when he was funny), Christopher Guest, and John Belushi, all of whom were unknown at the time:


On YouTube there are a lot of clips from a televised version for HBO that was never aired, but it has really poor sound recording that ruins it (probably why it was never aired). Listen to the original soundtrack album.

Z 9:49 AM  

As everyone knows I adore all things Product Names in my crossword puzzles. Imagine my joy at recognizing that MONSTER RAM RALLY is three, yes three!, Product Names. And then NATURE ABHORS A HOOVER let me down because ABHORS is not a Product Name. Way to suck the joy out of a puzzle idea.

I also really really really like how a perfectly cluable name like LIV Tyler/LIV Ullman gets RandomRomanNumeralized as a random super bowl. Ooh, baby, that’s the good stuff, RSBRRNs are the epitome of great crossword clue/answers. Be still my heart.

Isn’t an EGOT a baby egret? I hope somebody explains this today.

@Jeff - Yeah, I’m still confused, too.

@Joaquin - It’s not UNITAS, it’s that everything is dated. Just a total lack of any sense that the world continued after 1993, and very little sense that it continued after 1969.

@Chris Mc - Agreed.

@Pete - HeHe. Should we blame Toby Keith?

Anyone else amused by the Japanese(?) subtitles for the ARIA?

@A late yesterday - Hmm... a crust is a sine qua non for a good pie. That is, a bad crust can ruin a pie but a good crust alone can’t make a bad pie good. So, I agree with you to a point. But the best crust, in the end, provides a solid base but still serves primarily as a delivery device for the good stuff. It’s the bassist for a rock group, the catcher on a baseball team, the underglaze of pottery, very important but almost never noticed unless it messes up.


I don't understand Rex's complaint that a Ram is a Truck but a Hoover isn't a household appliance. I see the Hoover is clued as the President's family, but the Ram is clued as a football team. I re-read this sentence 10 times and I can't understand his point.
As for ad valorem tax, I spent half my life in NY, in fact I lived in Binghamton for 2 years and did not know this word until I moved to Georgia. It was a Gimme for me. We pay ad valorem tax on our cars here in Georgia, and if you itemize your taxes, you put the amount of the ad Valorem tax as a deduction. It is based on the value of the car. It's usually between $50 and $180 or so depending if you own a pc of junk or something newer. Each year the tax decreases as the car gets older.

Birchbark 9:52 AM  

ANGLO-Norman -- I'm about 1/4 through David C. Douglas's biography, "William the Conqueror" (1964), in the late 1050s. I wonder what happens next?

MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER -- the opening sequence in "School of ROCK." Beauty is truth, truth beauty.

@Frantic (12:07) -- I like the image of throwing in a paper towel. Like the opening credits to "Rhoda," where she spins around to throw her hat into the air, but it just flops.

pabloinnh 9:59 AM  

@A from last night--Endearingly enough, my son not only "allowed" me to sing that song at his wedding, he requested it.

My son is a good boy.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

Freud says there are no accidents. Freud's right.

The Sunday Magazine containing this puzzle -- the puzzle I began to work on yesterday -- is gone.

It's not in the pile of newspapers on my desk. It's not in the pile of newspapers on my dining table. And it's not in the pile of newspapers on the floor next to my reading chair.

Believe me, I looked.

The only explanation is that yesterday, with the new pile of Saturday/Sunday sections having just arrived, I threw out an even bigger pile of newspapers. The new Magazine must have mistakenly gotten into that pile-to-be-thrown-out. I can't think of any other explanation.

Freud says there are no accidents.

I had completed about 1/4 - 1/3 of the puzzle. I wasn't enjoying it. I was completely baffled by the MONSTERRAMRALLY answer and couldn't parse it. I knew the puzzle was going to be all about product names and I hate product names. And, since I don't watch commercials, I expected there would be many product names I wouldn't know.

This morning, frantically searching for the Magazine, I had no memory whatsoever of what the puzzle had been about. None at all. I looked at Rex's grid to refresh my memory. It all started coming back. I remembered that I hadn't been enjoying the puzzle and now I remembered why. Whew! Not a great loss, my losing of the puzzle.

Freud says there are no accidents.

Andrea 10:04 AM  

I did

GHarris 10:05 AM  

Sweeten the deal does not mean alter its taste, like by adding sugar. It’s a phrase used in a bargaining context such as “I need something additional given ie thrown in to close this deal” so converting Bounty to a candy bar is totally unnecessary.. How’s that for over explication ala Rex..

EZ 10:12 AM  

I am frequently amazed at the age of many clues. Today's clues ring back to my parents' era and I'm 68 years old. For whom are these puzzles targeted?

Sixthstone 10:15 AM  

The point of a theme like this should be humor, but alas there was none to be found here. "Product Placement" is by nature not humorous--it's just capitalism. If you're going to build a whole puzzle around it, please make the themers funny. MONSTER RAM RALLY? WORKED FOR PLANTERS? THROW IN THE BOUNTY? TALE OF THE SCOTCH? no. Some people found the HOOVER bit funny--I'm not sure why. Maybe HOOVER is just kind of a funny word. HOOVER! ha ha. The only one has a bit of wit is MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER--at least it's coherent both in the application of the theme and a meaningful phrase when completed.

Pair this with banal fill and you get a Sunday snoozefest.

Sixthstone 10:20 AM  

@ Giovanni 9:52
Rex's point is that the vacuum in the phrase "nature abhors a vacuum" is the scientific definition (empty space), not a "vacuum cleaner" which is a device that uses a vacuum to suck stuff up. So the product placement is not exactly accurate. Hoover is not equal to a vacuum in this context.

ColoradoCog 10:26 AM  

I agree with Anonymous that the syntax for 5D is completely wrong and I don’t understand why other than that one comment, nobody has called it out. Can someone please explain to me how “Is dismissed (as a class)” can be LETS OUT? I could buy LET OUT as an answer to that clue, or “Dismisses (as a class)” to clue LETS OUT, but tell me how you could possibly get away with saying, “The class is lets out.”

How is this not a total editorial fail?

Teedmn 10:30 AM  

Rex certainly piled on this one today! I didn't find it anything close to being as bad as he makes it out to be. It was sort of fun.

I filled in MONSTER RAM RALLY as my first complete theme answer but was unable to understand the theme until I got WORKED FOR PLANTERS. I really liked NATURE ABHORS A HOOVER and MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER.

MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER strikes a chord (har) with me. I used to play keyboards in a band. When one of our friends, a fantastic lead guitarist, would sit in with us, we would often play a cover of Creedence's Effigy. I was playing a bass line on my keyboard as we were only a trio, no bass player. The song is exceedingly repetitive and when Javier would launch into his guitar solo, he would close his eyes and lean into his playing. I would play that bloody bass line over and over until I was sick of it. Our front man, Kevin, would try to catch Javier's eye, so we could bring the song to a close but it seemed like it took forever before he would come out of his trance and we would end it. Funnily, while searching YouTube for the clip I linked to, I found that both CCR and Uncle Tupelo dragged the song out to nearly six minutes. My band may have gone ten for all I know, but six is pretty long - maybe Javier doesn't owe my an apology! The audience always enjoyed his playing, in any case.

I can't believe I have never heard the phrase TALE OF THE tape. My Dad boxed as a young man and watched it on TV religiously. My first cousin boxed on the Marine Corps team and made it to the championships (he lost). But no, I had to Google that phrase to see what was going on.

Jim Hilger, I enjoyed this, thanks.

Whoosey Whatsis 10:31 AM  

@Lewis ... and ACHT on Wednesday

TJS 10:33 AM  

Rex,Rex,Rex...I know your above reading the comments of those of us you ask for money from, but I still have to respond to todays' classic review. How you can consistently turn out these mountain-from-a-molehill objections is truly impressive. Any chance you and Mr. Hilger are not BFFs ?

Personally, I thought this was one of the better Sunday efforts we have had lately. Got the Hoover humor right away, so maybe that colored my opinion for the rest of the solve.

kqrbob 10:34 AM  

Yes, hated that. But I guess you can say, his class let’s out at 3:00.

Ellen C 10:35 AM  


Rube 10:38 AM  

Mostly with you here. VALOREM was as much of a gimme as the Filipino PESO. But this puzzle definitely skews very old.

Z 10:38 AM  

@RΓΌ - Understandable announcement but it’s gone from annoying to absurdist so now I think of it as our little piece of DADA art.

@GIOVANNI - Rex is alluding to the the original phrases. So a RAM truck is the same kind of thing as the “truck” in MONSTER truck RALLY. But the “vacuum” in NATURE ABHORS A vacuum is the kind of vacuum you find in outer space.

@Birchbark - The suspense has to be killing you.

@GHarris - Thank you. I needed the over explication, too.

@People chortling over GO LIMP/RIGID - Gives a whole new connotation to MY SOLO RUNNETH OVER, doesn’t it.

I don’t remember if Rex mention it here or on Twitter, but he gave Clare and August a raise. If I’m remembering correctly, he started this blog in preparation for teaching some sort of class. Now he gets a huge amount of traffic. I remember looking it up once on some web traffic tracking site and if everyone gave Rex could quit his day job. I have no idea how much he gets, but clearly enough for him to continue. I’ve also noticed that the readers with whom* he interacts on Twitter or interact with him are mostly not people who comment here.

*Hi @LMS - My ears cringe if I omit the M

art historian 10:43 AM  

I was slowed by 1A: since MONSTER is an energy drink, I assumed RALLY must be some candy bar I'd never heard of, and that all the themers were a string of brand names.

Nampa Idaho 10:51 AM  

I’m an old, white, Republican, NRA lifetime member... ergo, according to Rex: racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever... but, yeah, I support him, too. I like to compare my times to his. See if my experience with a puzzle is similar to his.

Ellen C 10:52 AM  

Boxers use a tape measure, not Scotch tape. Took a long time for me to focus on tape vs liquor. BTW, valorem is a gimme if you've worked in the municipal bond business, as have I

Birchbark 10:54 AM  

@John X (9:48) -- I have the soundtrack to National Lampoon's LEMMINGS on vinyl. You hear the kernel of Christopher Guest's musical mockumentary career in "Positively Wall Street," in near-perfect Bob Dylan voice mannerisms and acoustic guitar:

You say I owe you somethin'
You ask me for my plan
Just who were you expectin'
Jesus Zimmerman?
Oh I don't give a darn
Out behind the barn.
[Switching to "Nashville Skyline" Dylan voice]
Oh, out behind the barn
I'm chewin' on a piece of hay,
I'm up to my knees in cow s**t,
I'm shovelin' my blues away.

Then there's the communist soul song, "Papa was a Running Dog Lackey of the Bourgeoisie." Good stuff.

Newboy 11:00 AM  

Disappointed that I didn’t see how to fit Laphroaig into 117A since the previous answers had been actual brands. Otherwise it was Sunday. A suitable effort to DELAY the morning walk, so thanks for sharing this mildly amusing diversion Mr. Hilger.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

@kitshef (9:22), yes, the only Who is Cindy Lou Who, who is this STU Lou Who?

Carola 11:31 AM  

Worth it for NATURE ABHORS A HOOVER alone, and I also thought the PLANTERS and BOUNTY clues contributed some welcome brain-twisting zaniness.

Crimson Devil 11:32 AM  


Canon Chasuble 11:36 AM  

97 A. Bounty is also the name of a candy, thus a “sweetener.”
Also a thing is as dull as DITCHwater, and not as Mrs. Slocum says DishWater.

David Plass 11:40 AM  

And "throwing in the towel" means "giving up", not "sweetening a deal"...

Chip Tait 11:42 AM  

Fare is fair

Joe Dipinto 11:44 AM  

**Acrostic Alert**

@TTrimble 9:28– The lettered answers didn't seem harder than usual to me. Of the ones you mentioned: "E" was the very first thing I entered; "I" I was able to guess fairly soon during the solve; "F" and "Q" I had no idea of but they'd filled themselves in by the time I was almost done. A number of others were easy to get with few or no crossings in place. (There's nothing wrong with "C" in the print edition.)

The quote itself seemed to present a weird combination of words, so it took longer for me to get the overall sense of it than usual.

Crimson Devil 11:46 AM  

I’ve always thought that throwing in the towel came from boxing, as when boxer’s corner gives up and throws towel in ring. Otherwise enjoyed puz. Had to guess ragA and dAda.

Barbara S. 11:48 AM  

I had a different interpretation of WORKED FOR PLANTERS. The clued said "volunteered", i.e. not working for low wages but working for no pay at all. Therefore I thought the reference was to volunteering at a nursery school or a day-nursery and so WORKing FOR (the good of) children. "Peanuts" can be a slangy affectionate term for kids -- see the title of Charles Schultz's long-running cartoon strip. I don't think WORKED FOR PLANTERS makes as much sense in the context of a plant nursery. You're not working for peanuts in the sense of poor pay because you're volunteering, and surely you're not working for actual peanuts, i.e. you're growing peanut plants or the boss is giving you peanuts as a reward! I may be overthinking here, but heck.

JOHN X 11:49 AM  

@Birchbark 10:54AM

Also -

Christopher Guest as James Taylor (“Highway Toes”):
Farewell to New York City, with your streets that flash like strobes
Farewell to Carolina, where I left my frontal lobes

John Belushi as Joe Cocker (“Lonely at the Bottom”)

And of course Farmer Yassir:
“Well my bald-headed Christ this is the biggest crowd I ever seen!”
“This here mass-suicide by you young people might just be the best goddam thing that ever happened to this country!”

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

@kqrbob 10:34. Now someone will have to correct your apostrophe.

bocamp 12:00 PM  

Of all the themers, "bounty" was the toughest to grok. My take: "bounty" = ship, towel (paper), deal sweetener, as in "a sum paid to encourage trade." (Lexico)

td pg -1 🀞

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Šb

egsforbreakfast 12:02 PM  

The amazing thing is that, in a puzzle that is intentionally about product placement, we get none of the usual Apple products. How about :

A bite at the IPad.


Mac of my eye.

Tim Cook must be seething today.

As Ilya Kuryakin said to a visitor while his partner cleaned the house, MY SOLO RUN THE HOOVER.

Yes, I paid my pal by PayPal for the first time this year. I pay for a lot of things that are less important to my life than this blog, so I’ll do my bit to encourage Rex to keep up his effort.

jae 12:05 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday - Glad you enjoyed the Mad parody. Its funny what sticks in your head over the years. I was 12 or 13 when I read that issue. Makes me wonder if I'd held on to it whether it would be worth anything?

@Bocamp - I just finished Croce's #583. It was a tad easier than the last one but still in Stumper territory.

sanfranman59 12:08 PM  

OT: Anyone participating in the Boswords online crossword tournament today? I'll be there to try something a little different.

Lewis 12:09 PM  

@whoosey -- Good catch!

Newboy 12:17 PM  

Thanks @Johnx for the off,off link and @birchbark for the following expansion. Had never heard of this SNL precursor, but I know which rabbit hole I’m headed toward after the morning stroll 🚢‍♂️ I don’t click the blue as often I might, but delighted that I did today. Priceless jewels like this are yet another reason to keep my fridge stocked with Rex kitty cardsπŸ‘πŸΌ

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

@Rex didn't do the greatest job explaining the theme yet it surprises me that some commenters, including the presumably "smarter" ones, don't seem to have SNAGged it.

Frantic Sloth 12:22 PM  

@okananager 201am At first I was dismayed about your LEMMING story, but that link contained this quote from the movie:

"A kind of compulsion seizes each tiny rodent and, carried along by an unreasoning hysteria, each falls into step for a march that will take them to a strange destiny. That destiny is to jump into the ocean. They’ve become victims of an obsession — a one-track thought: ‘Move on! Move on!’ This is the last chance to turn back, yet over they go, casting themselves out bodily into space … and so is acted out the legend of mass suicide."

Call me crazy, but that description is hilarious. Oh, and thanks for the Snopes rabbit hole. Not. πŸ˜‰

@Joaquin 745am πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

It's not even 9am in the comments and already I'm feeling the effects of PTCD.* 🀣

Post Traumatic Commentary Disorder

@Anon 918am Thanks for the info. Always up for some background dish! Always thought the saying referred to "armoring" your....self.

Some of you have me wondering about the whole BOUNTY thing. Is it a paper towel? Is it a candy bar? God forbid it's both because ew.

@Roo 927am From your lips to the BlogGod's ears! But, what's a "BOPUNTY"? Eh, I don't care - I'm stealing it! 🀣

@TTrimble 928am Never saw CARET, but if I had your explanation would be even more appreciated than it is. Thanks! Also, cute nits. 😊 Did the Acrostic on Friday (online), but don't remember it being particularly difficult. Could just be that I'm so much smarter than you. πŸ˜‰

@Birchbark 952am 🀣 Yes!! OMG I had forgotten, but you're dead on with that!

My internet has been acting all squirrelly (and the snow hasn't even started yet) so I gotta be off for now....hope to return to finish reading! 😒


Anonymous 12:30 PM  


Tony M 12:34 PM  

I completely agree with Anon and @ColoradoCog and am a bit shocked nobody else brought it up. I even thought Rex would have mentioned it but no. So are we three missing something? How is LETS OUT clued as “Is dismissed, as a class” grammatically correct?

CDilly52 12:40 PM  

Agree. After the “Hoover,” the remainder of the themers fell a bit flat. But it was oh so typical Sunday Time’s. I feel sorry for @Rex on Sundays. The format has been the format as long as I have been consistently solving (60 years) and I know exactly what kind of themes we are going to get and I do not o next to that as a “thing to expect” but from time to time (including today) the construction isn’t as much fun as it seems like it might be ab initio. I kind of out this one in the “it is what it is” category.

Elizabeth 12:42 PM  

Explain the scotch one please

CDilly52 12:43 PM  

Yes. Takes lots of effort or provide this opportunity for sharing thoughts and I may not post daily but certainly do read everyone’s (including @Rex’s) thoughts! And I appreciate the effort and especially the opportunity.

bocamp 12:50 PM  

Speaking of 1A, it seems to me that the overall tone of this blog is "civil", if I may" opine"; and for that I say to all, "merci". πŸ•Š

Elf: Cotton-Headed "Ninny" Muggins

@jae 12:05 PM

Thx, will get on it! 😊

SB stuff and possible spoiler

td 0; and thx to @jae for prompting me to start a list of missed words. The key to getting 0 today was nailing the word that's #3 on my @jae's List. πŸ‘

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Šb

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

When will the students be free today?

Class "is dismissed" at 4:00 PM


Class "LETS OUT" at 4:00 PM

Destiny’s child 12:56 PM  

Yup. And loved tge postcard

RooMonster 1:06 PM  

@Frantic 12:22
Har. BOPUNTY - A more G-rated way to say Bump Ugly? -or- Actor Derek kicking field goals?

I did the Puns and Anagrams puz the other day, and it must have been easy. I finished in a quick time, error free, with no lookups! WooHoo! First time for me with no lookups.

Yd pg -1, closest I've come in a while. I, too, have kept a list of past missed words (since about mid May 2020), but my conscious thinks it's cheating to look through and find missed answers. Weird, because no one else knows that I looked, is it my Catholic guilt? Even though I'm a non-participant anymore? I did manage to get all the pangrams in that crazy 500+ pointer the other day! Yay Me!

RooMonster Bee Solver Even Though It Pisses Me Off Lately Guy

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Can anyone recommend a NYTXW blog where the writer isn’t such a curmudgeon with a chip on his/her shoulder? This has grown too tiresome.

KRMunson 1:17 PM  

I miss axolotl. Maybe next puzzle...

sixtyni yogini 1:17 PM  

Badness is magnified incrementally by size on Sundays.
Thought the brand names had to do with cleaning items (Hoover, pine sol, scotch/Scott’s,, bounty) and planters didn’t fit. Grrrr.
Ditto ‼️Ditto ‼️ Rex.
Seems silly (but righteously exhilarating teehee 😹) to be angry about a puzzle but... come on!

A 1:21 PM  

re: THROW IN. Allow me to illustrate.

When Mazda introduced the Miata, I was smitten. I’d never bought a new car and wouldn’t have even then except my husband ENCOURAGEd me. The starting price was something like $13,000 but they were so popular people were paying twice that and more. We drove 45 miles to a smaller dealership and I got a nice white 5-speed with the “A package” and the luggage rack for $17k. When I looked at the sticker, I saw they wanted to add $60 for floor mats. I’m a very reasonable person, but I was outraged that they would dare to charge anything extra, much less 60 bucks for two stinkin’ floor mats. (Remember, I'd never bought a new car). So I said they could keep them. The salesmen realized he’d met his match (more likely that he’d already made more on that sale than was decent).
Anyway, he saw I was serious and he said, “Ok I’ll THROW IN THE floor mats.”

PS. Best car ever - and the floor mats were pretty nice.

TTrimble 1:21 PM  

@Barbara S.
Yeah, you're definitely not supposed to overthink this puzzle: it won't withstand the scrutiny, on a number of different levels, as has been amply demonstrated by Rex's and others' comments today. Someone else (sorry, I forget who) pointed out that the tape in "tale of the" is a measuring tape, not cellophane tape, and so the answer is a miss. My own nit is that to the best of my knowledge, SOLO and SCOTCH are never used alone, not even as synecdoches, for the brand of cup or the brand of sticky tape, unlike say Kleenex, so they land with a thud for another reason as well.

Overthinking is a curse. I try not to overthink during the heat of the solve.

Oh man, you're too good. I still have yesterday's SB open with 2 to go. I may have to give up, and then cringe when I see what I missed.

@Joe Dipinto
That you got E right away is hardly a surprise. I wouldn't expect anything less from you. I don't know my English monarchs particularly well, so I had to pause a bit over the last letter for the I clue (one of two choices, realistically).

I half-agree with the Literary Guild suggestion of yesterday. Certainly I think for me it would apply to anything written by Dan Brown: if he doesn't hook me within two paragraphs (and he won't), then I'm through with nary a regret or backward glance. But I instinctively feel some authors deserve more receptivity than a 1-2 page look standing at the stacks.

Out of curiosity, do you know C.S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism? He expresses very eloquently what I have in mind here (and his attitude could be applied to any art form).

Scott White 1:23 PM  

Was anyone as disturbed as I was at the "general practice?" clue for WAR? There are SO many alternatives ("_____ What's it good for. Absolutely nothing"; "Art of _____" ;"Conflict"). A flippant clue about "practice" by killing people seems a bit odd/sick.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

I have never seen a theme more overthunk than this one today. No wonder most of you don't like it.

pabloinnh 1:24 PM  


I did the acrostic on Thursday before it even came out, took me about two minutes.

And don't forget, first lie always loses.

Sharon AK 1:24 PM  

I agree with early posters that nature abhors a vacuum was fun. But how could they not love
"My solo runneth over" The Best
"Throwing in the Bounty" and "worked for planters" were fun too. I had trouble with "Monster..." I guess I've heard of a monster truck rally, but it is not a phrase that jumps out for me.
The last one Tale of the tape??? I still don't believe that is a phrase.

Agree withJoaquin that "valorem" went right in.

Agree with the groans about "egot" Don't remember for two seconds what the letters stand for and had NEVER heard of it until a crossword recently, and it is not an enjoyable sounding word so why use it .

I found irish linen hard to come up with although I loved the sound of it when it appeared. but really linen is the answer to the clue , not irish any more than any other.

Z 1:33 PM  

Finally got around to @Evan Birnholz’ WaPo Sunday. More creative, fresher, and the title makes sense. Again, Evan is a great constructor, but how is one guy consistently outperforming a NYTX that draws from (nearly) the entire crossword constructor universe? I can’t say too much without spoilers, but again the solve goes from “what is going on?” to “Ah I get it” to “oh yeah, nice touch.” Here’s the link - you do have to sit through the 15 second ad before getting the puzzle links. Be forewarned, some of the PPP is actually from this year.

Barbara S. 1:38 PM  

I've realized, with regret, that I must withdraw my earlier comment, which seemed like such a blinding insight at the time. Damn! I was trying to make "peanuts" fit the clue for 79A (Volunteered at a nursery?) when, in fact, it was only necessary to make PLANTERS fit. And for PLANTERS to be correct, the nursery must contain plants and not children. Ah well, sigh. But at least now the brain cells have come back into line.

Z 1:39 PM  

@Scott White - Maybe Bob Crane wrote that clue.

TTrimble 1:42 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
Realistically, could be that you are, or at least that you're faster. But I didn't mean the Acrostic was particularly difficult. What I really meant is that the last two were done by me in half the time or less than today's. (One of them was close to a PR.)

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be scarred by it, but if someone tells me they were scarred by something they read or viewed, chances are I'm not going to go there myself. Thus, I'll probably not be viewing the LEMMING clip that @okanaganer linked to. Similarly, while I've long been curious about the horribly visceral readings Chuck Palahniuk used to give of his short story involving a swimming pool accident, e.g., just how bad could they or the story be, I don't plan on giving in to that curiosity. My imagination is plenty vivid as it is, thank you very much, and I don't need more things to be haunted by.

RPM 1:44 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle and liked the product placement idea. It was easy as were Friday's and Thursday's this week.

Not for the first time I think Rex needs to take a deep breath, but I do appreciate his efforts. I sent him a checks for five years but stopped two years ago when I didn't get a thank-you card. Possibly he didn't appreciate the courteous but mildly critical note I attached.

What? 1:46 PM  

I like the blogs (so many wordsmiths out there) but I could do without Rex. Curmudgeonosis (is that a word) is fun (it’s like when the movie critics take out their knives) but it does get a tiresome after a while.

Georgia 1:48 PM  

I even go his "web version" at the very bottom to look at comments and explain answers from puzzles of years past, as I re-do them from the NYT Archive. I appreciate his daily rigor and his historical database.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

@Scott White. General refers to the military and war is what generals do.

bocamp 1:55 PM  

@RooMonster 1:06 PM

SB stuff

I absolutely agree that checking "the list" while solving the SB would be cheating – IMO, and, obviously in yours. Don't know about others, but I would guess that most SBers would adhere to that standard.

What I do do, is spend about 30 min. first thing every morning going over my (by now fairly extensive) @Jae's List, not only reviewing the words I've previously missed, or that might be tricky in future SBs, but also re-checking the dictionary (Siri or Google Home are my friends) for words whose meanings continue to escape me. When I'm done with this morning chore (or "edification" LOL), I then open the day's SB and have at it. No checking the "List" is allowed until afterwards. πŸ‘€

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Šb

GILL I. 2:04 PM  

Two BOUNTY hunters named EGOT and GORP walk into a bar. The HOOVER is running in the background so the bartender can't hear their orders. They both yell SCOTCH! He misheard them and thought they said PLANTERS....Sorry he said, we don't serve nuts.
Feel free to get up and GRUNT..
Well this was clear as mud. I think I put this down about 12 TURTLE DOVEs. I couldn't figure this out at all.
Go to bed...walk the dogs in the morning, pour me some Peets and try again. The oof de oof kept percolating. How do I figure this out? A bang my head on the counter moment finally came at TALE OF THE SCOTCH....Is that a surprise? I need a SPA DAY badly....and you can serve me some FOIE gras and please let me watch my favorite "Chocolat" movie with the fabulous Lena OLIN. That might get me in a better mood.
Joaquin 7:45.....Agreeing with you 100%....What @Rex does here - day after day - is awesome. Agree with him or not, he's provided a wonderful space - free of charge - for so many of us. Donating is the least anyone can do. He's earned it.

John Culhane 2:08 PM  

How has anyone not heard of EGOT? Also, of course the theme title makes sense. The products are misplaced, occurring as they do in phrases that call for the generic items of which they are but one example. It is really not that complicated. Some of the theme answers were better than others. I agree with the consensus here that the Hoover answer was the best.

Joe in Newfoundland 2:22 PM  

Anonymous @ 8:49 am - yes. Or rather 'Dismisses'

Unknown 2:23 PM  

Yes. I enjoy reading his screeds, especially after feeling annoyed on a Sunday morning.

Rug Crazy 2:25 PM  

A weeks worth of groans in one puzzle. (grunts, too)

Unknown 2:28 PM  

Exactly. Bad cluing.

Suzy 2:28 PM  

Oh, Rex— quit cher bitchin! Relax a little! This was a clever theme and overall a fun solve!!! Thank you, Mr. Hilger! Last to fall
was grunt for groan when the turtle dove became the clear gift winner! A pleasant way to spend part of a Sunday morning!!

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Proud to say that I deliberately do not contribute to Sharp. Not just the curmudgeonosis, the pretentious mightier than thou. But also the the ceaseless Trumpian attacks on WS. The pretentious campaign for more female constructors, the anger at alt-right entries that ruin his day. It's the pandemic, stupid!
I do love Nancy constantly demonstrating her scorn for all things pop. LMS is the genuine article.

JC66 2:45 PM  

@Anon 2:31

Did you ever consider that if it weren't for @Rex you wouldn't have @Nancy, @LMS, et al?

Phil 2:45 PM  

Thank you for Leontyne Price insert. It is from AGO tho.

‘Product Replacement’
more accurate and still works off the common phrase of product placement.

Do the kids actually disregard the past greats. Are the past eras forgotten? There is no appreciation for Motown etc etc

bocamp 2:49 PM  

Z 1:33 PM

Thx for the WaPo link. 😊

@TTrimble 1:42 PM

I need a tutor for the Acrostic. LOL

@Georgia 1:48 PM

Ditto what you said.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

thefogman 3:09 PM  

Rex is right. I don’t like ̶M̶o̶n̶d̶a̶y̶s̶ Sundays.

Ann 3:41 PM  

Me, too. Also “Kale custard kitty.”

Cyclist227 3:54 PM  

I found this one ridiculously easy and unfun. Totally agree with Rex about NYT Sundays. I mean, bring back Eugene T. Maleska. I really dislike the dumbing down on what should be the gold standard for Sunday Puzzles. Sad.

Nancy 4:01 PM  

@TTrimble (1:21) -- Of course writers "deserve" more than the cursory reading I give them when determining, by scanning one or more excerpts, whether or not to read their novels. In fact, I'd venture to say that the entire world of literature would be greatly impoverished if everyone shared my extremely idiosyncratic and often non-"literary" reactions to prose and prose styles. More specifically -- to what is known as "voice".

But my system works for me, if not for literature in general. An excerpt is a far better gauge for me as to whether or not I'll like something than is a review. And I suspect that all of you do the same thing -- not with books, but with movies. C'mon -- doesn't the trailer give you a pretty accurate feel for whether you will or won't like a film? Well, excerpts can do the same thing for books.

A while back my SIL raved about "All the Light We Cannot See". It won a zillion awards and she adored it, but still I chose not to read it after reading an excerpt. The style -- much too heavy in physical description for my taste, and leaving me to wonder what the book was going to be about and why I was going to care -- seemed self-consciously "literary" to me. I could feel the wheels turning in the author's head as he picked the perfect adjective (or several) and came up with a metaphor of exceptional originality. And I never want to hear the wheels turning in a writer's head. I want the prose to feel totally spontaneous -- even when it's obviously not.

Of course what you want from a prose style and what I want are probably completely different -- which is why both of us should turn to excerpts.

If you're still with me after this long post, and you're at all curious, try the following experiment:

Google an excerpt from "All The Light We Cannot See" and see if you can see why I wasn't hooked by it. (The plot had nothing to do with my reaction, btw.) See if you can see why I found the writing self-conscious.

Then Google excerpts from two novels where I WAS hooked by the online excerpt, proceeded to read the book and absolutely loved it. The two books, both published in the last decade, are:

"The Two Hotels Francfurt"
"A Gentleman in Moscow."

I wonder if you'll say "Aha" or whether you'll think that I'm crazy. Which you may already think, of course :)

LegWork 4:04 PM  

Sundays puzzles have become a chore, but do them I must. The pleasure is minimal

Anonymous 4:35 PM  

I really liked it. Tough crossword to solve, though. It did take me quite a while to understand the double-mis-placement theme, which was best explained over at the Wordplay blog:
A product like "towel" belongs in the "Throw in the towel" phrase, but has been replaced. Instead, we get a brand name for the product, "Bounty", in the "Throw in the Bounty" answer. But, as an additional twist, each brand name has an alternate meaning, such as the good ship Bounty, which is used in cluing the answer. Clever, but takes a while to "absorb" it all.

So, RAM was "truck", in the original phrase, and is replaced by a football team name.. HOOVER was "vacuum", and is replaced by a Presidential name. SOLO was "cup", and is replaced by a type of performance. PLANTERS was "peanuts", and is perhaps replaced by a name for boxes where seeds are planted. SCOTCH was "tape", and is replaced by a type of alcohol.

I guess one could look at all this replacement activity as a case of "Product Placement" gone terribly wrong, and hence "Product Misplacement"? Not sure, on that score.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Thought the crossword fill was fairly smooth, but VALOREM, STU, and NUNCIO were stumpers. Had heard of BAILOR before, from somewhere.
Agree that the puzzle answers did lean a lot toward an older person's wheelhouse.


Kathleen 4:47 PM  

Lol πŸ˜‚

Unknown 5:01 PM  

@Kathleen - what's so funny?

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

I'd never heard tale of the tape to my recollection. Did most other folks know this medium right away?

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

I donated. I enjoy reading Rex sometimes much more than doing the puzzle.

Anonymous 6:53 PM  

100 percent agree. Is suppose it's sweet for your opponent when you give up but really? The clue was off base.

TTrimble 7:13 PM  

Thanks for taking the time to respond more thoroughly. I hope my earlier message didn't come off sounding impertinent. Of course I understand that if a writer's voice sounds studied or overworked, that can be off-putting.

KUNDERA himself could easily come off as didactic, but The Book of Laughter and Forgetting interested me on many levels, historical and conceptual, so that the occasional instructional tone didn't annoy me at all.

Anyway, yeah, I can see why you weren't immediately hooked by Anthony Doerr's book -- what I read didn't grab me either. I didn't feel myself drawn in reading the first few pages. Could it be a case of telling, not showing?

I opened the David Leavitt novel in Google books and opened randomly at the beginning of chapter 6, and read with interest. (It brought me right back to my two weeks in Portugal, Coimbra and Lisbon, the narrow streets and funiculars, the steep hills.) I'm sure I'd enjoy going back and reading it properly.

But I was grabbed even more by A Gentleman in Moscow, which I opened at chapter 3. Really fresh writing, and witty as well (for example: the subject is rising from sleep and is contemplating with pleasure the day ahead, "Within the hour, he would be in the warm spring air striding along Tverskaya Street, his mustaches at full sail." -- love it! and was smiling as I read through the next few paragraphs).

(And you're right: I do the same thing when deciding what to read. Usually I'll know within a few pages if the book I'm holding will hold my interest. But any preconceptions, or reading with a sense of evaluating the book, must first be put aside -- which makes the exercise you set a tricky one! (-: )

Anyway, thanks again. Always enjoy hearing what you have to say.

pabloinnh 7:13 PM  

@anonymous, 5:18

I knew this right away. Before a big boxing match, there used to be full length photos of the two boxers with the title "Tale of the Tape{

They would then compare them as to height, weight, reach, waist, inseam, hair length and so on. I say "and so on" because I can't think of any other significant categories. May have included age, shoe size, BMI and eye color, for all I can remember Pretty much stuff you could measure with a tape, except for all the stuff you couldn't.

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

I wasn't at all tired when I sat down to do this but after I recovered from the ugliness of the grid pattern smacking me in the face I proceeded to -- I'm not joking y'all -- nod off 5 times while trying to complete this. Utterly, relentlessly boring. Aggressively boring. The constructor has to have submitted this to troll the editor. If you TRIED to make a puzzle this boring, you'd fail.

bobtimus prime 7:51 PM  

Figured he wouldve been all over NINNY crossing NANNY

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

Did you ever consider that if it weren't for @Rex you wouldn't have @Nancy, @LMS, et al?

Are we Mice unworthy? Do we not bleed?

jazzmanchgo 8:20 PM  

Probably too late for anyone to see this (snowstorm in Chicago -- newspapers didn't get delivered until after 12:00 noon) -- but I think the syntax for 5-Down would be: "The class lets out at 4:30," i.e., "The class is dismissed at 4:30." A little convoluted, perhaps, but I've definitely heard it said this way.

That being said, though: Two Sundays in a row with the gimmick based on friggin' BRAND NAMES?? Yeah, product placement -- no schitt!

kitshef 8:23 PM  

@Ttrimble- Acrostic felt about normal to me.

What surprised me was you saying that having four answers that you did not know without crosses is unusually high.

I typically have about five or six answers I fill in immediately, with four or five more where I have a guess but am not willing to fill it in without confirmation. Today, I only had four gimmes but eight 'likely'.

I guess what was unusual was three answers that I have never (knowingly) heard before: A, F and Q - all PPP, not surprisingly.

Matthew B 8:30 PM  

Every year.

Christopher Jones 8:43 PM  

I really wish that Will Shortz would read this because everything Rex has said about the majority of Sunday puzzles is spot on: not funny, tired, archaic, etc. I was looking at some old NYT Sunday magazines we still have from 2015 and seeing how much better the puzzles were then compared to now. Not sure what happened but it needs to be addressed. Of course I know that won’t happen but, one can hope.

Unknown 8:43 PM  

Anon @ 8:07

You are worthy, except we can't tell your worthiness by your anonymity. Most of your Mice are probably glossed over by the majority here, mainly because a bunch of you are trolls not worthy of a looksee.

I talk smart as I come across as Unkown. Used to have some status, but got a new computer and lost my name.

JC66 9:10 PM  

@Anon 8:07

It has nothing to do with being anonymous,

You (I assume it's you) said at 2:31:

"Proud to say that I deliberately do not contribute to Sharp. Not just the curmudgeonosis, the pretentious mightier than thou. But also the the ceaseless Trumpian attacks on WS. The pretentious campaign for more female constructors, the anger at alt-right entries that ruin his day. It's the pandemic, stupid!
I do love Nancy constantly demonstrating her scorn for all things pop. LMS is the genuine article."

My point is that without @Rex's blog, there'd be no comments. Therefore, supporting Sharp makes sense, even if you disagree with him,

FYI, You could do what @Nancy does and skip @Rex's write-up and go directly to the comments.

Graham 9:15 PM  

Sunday puzzles...why. Least favorite day of the week. I dread doing them. I know I'm going to struggle. Way much effort for too little pay off.

On the plus side, I entered the Boswords solos. Didn't do great, but at least I enjoyed having my ass kicked.

TTrimble 9:22 PM  

I did not say what you said I said. :-)

Perhaps it would have been clearer if instead I said the previous two acrostics seemed relatively easy, but now with today's we may be more back to normal? Sometimes 'normal' is hard to tell. But anyway I was comparing to recent puzzles. (See also what I wrote @Frantic Sloth at 1:42.)

My listing of E, F, I, Q were things I didn't think I'd ever be able to guess without assistance, no matter how long I stared at them. It's probably normal for me to have at least that many, and I never said that was an unusually high number for me. Other clues not named by me looked guessable without crosses had I spent more time staring at them, even if I didn't have any initial guesses for them.

For example, I'd heard A in the past -- I didn't cough it up however until later in the piece. She appears in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons under the Looney Tunes banner, and her charge is a little chick with a genius IQ who uses mathematics e.g. to compute the best way of batting a baseball, much to Foghorn's general perplexity. (Foghorn Leghorn is a very large rooster with what I think is a Texan accent.)

Good to know you like acrostics. They are among my favorite word puzzles.

Anonymous 9:32 PM  


2:31 is a different Mouse. In fact, I didn't even note it, since I didn't get around to here until rather late. Getting ready for The Big Storm. Hopefully, the snowblower is really healed after it's stay in the Snowblower Hospital. As it happens, unlike @2:31, I do some times send Rex a small check; I like the card one gets in return. By the way, he writes as bad as my first wife's father, a surgeon. That canard about doctors and handwriting is true. One might think a surgeon would have better control of his fingers, dontcha think?

GILL I. 9:42 PM  

Ay dios mid (hi @Frantic)....Please don't get snarky...And listen to @TTrimble and watch Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. Or better yet....do a @bocamp peace march and leave @JC66 out of your caca.
KUBAYA my lord....
I need a SPA treatment.

BigZam 9:57 PM  

I gave!! At least two years running now... maybe more? Memory is a terrible thing to waste

D 10:21 PM  

loved it. its funny to see what smart people dont know, and how angry they get at not knowing it. Tale of the tape? geesh, thats a pretty common expression, and in case you didnt notice, boxing and mma were literally the only games in town for much of last year.

Sarah Prineas 10:57 PM  

Sexist puzzle. So tiresome. We counted 15 clues that were "male"--that is, clued with a male name, or with a male name or role as answer.

And one "female" clue, not counting the goat one.

Just absolutely lousy.

Bonnie Buratti 11:33 PM  

Another thing that got me about this puzzle was that some of the clues were just off. Most XWord solvers love words and language, and are very attuned to nuances and meaning (liked to see nuanced in the puzzle today, although, it didn't redeem the rest of the mostly trivial fill). To see "opine" defined as "offer a judgment", or - "Aeons" defined as "units in the life span of a galaxy" is just cringy.

I've almost stopped doing the Sunday. The rest of the week is usually OK.

chucolo 12:20 AM  

Me, too

Mjddon 1:47 AM  

“Class lets out at noon” is common usage. Though it seems wrong at first.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Me too

imnotbobby 11:28 PM  

Did anyone else you with MAGA instead of DADA, “Movement based on deliberate irrationality,” because, you suspect, that was intended? Here I am injecting a smidge of politics simultaneously trying to take credit for the connection while absolving my self of the blame for doing it by implying that you did it first? I’m so callow that way.

NY Composer 11:54 PM  

Stale. Tedious. Unfunny. Inconsistent. Other than that, positively boffo.

JTB 9:31 AM  

Spent minutes futzing with 5D. The question ("Is dismissed, as a class") misassigns the tense and voice ("lets out" is present active, is dismissed is present perfect passive). A blunder so early on is, yea, depressing.

spacecraft 12:56 PM  

Yeesh, tell us how you really feel. No prize winner, for sure, but it wasn't THAT bad. I got hung up on the towel thing; on that point we agree. What you throw in is made of cloth. BOUNTY is paper. Good stuff, absorbent like crazy, but still paper. It was a gap I almost didn't leap across.

Many's the spring day when I couldn't wait for school to "LETOUT." That clue may be strictly ungrammatical--but the expression lives.

A workable puzzle that satisfies all the requirements; it'll do. DOD is the NANNY, Fran Drescher. Par.

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Rex makes money off his vacuous rants? (One would assume that a university professor would have come across countless mentions of papal nuncios and foie gras in his reading. However, his mΓ©tier being comic books, perhaps it's understandable.)

Won't donating money just encourage him in his pathetic, virtue signalling 'wokeness'?

Bill Butler's daily exegesis on nyxcrossword.com is far more informative and to my knowledge, he's never begged for handouts.

Burma Shave 3:08 PM  


IWON'T take it TOOFAR,
YEA, MY NATURE is feeble,


rondo 3:29 PM  

@D, LIW - judging by the golf tourney, it looks windy and not warm.

Not much to say re: puz. If there was a favorite it was MY(red)SOLO(cup)RUNNETHOVER.

Lena OLIN, YEA baby.

Didn't have to be onesmartoreo to get this one.

BarbaraDallas 4:49 PM  

Did anyone else catch that “throwing in the towel” actually means giving up? If you want to sweeten a deal, you throw in the kitchen sink. That tripped me up when trying to solve that particular clue. I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe that’s been mentioned.

rondo 5:04 PM  

@BarbaraDallas - I agree with you, forgot to comment on that. By the time I got to that part of the puz I was just looking for the next stupid phrase that was going to get me to the end.

Diana, LIW 5:45 PM  

Too many you-know-whats to get the rest (because of the long themers). Oh well.

@Rondo - It is "tee pee Cal" (get it?) Monterey winter weather - 55 to 65, cloudy then sunny then cloudy, a bit of a breeze by the water. Not quite as lovely as Minneapolis in Feb, where several days lately had a "-" sign in front of the low AND the high temps. The golfers seem to enjoy it, and Mr. W is watching on TV - there are no on-site onlookers allowed this year. But of course, the local paper has pics of Bill Murray cutting up.

On to Monday, all!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a Vax in the Vax Desert of the USA

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