Bagless vacuum maker / SUN 1-17-21 / Former basketball star Gilbert / Legendary firefighter Red / Deep-toned cousin of English horn / Jazz instrument pitched in key of B flat / Subject of Sleeves Up campaign

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Constructor: Tracy Gray and Tom Pepper

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Double-Crossed" — grid contains six rebus squares, inside of which are two sets of double letters, which are to be read in one direction the Acrosses, and in reverse direction in the Downs)

Theme answers:
  • OVERHEAD DOOR / BLOOD DRIVE (23A: Way into a garage, typically / 7D: Subject of a Sleeves Up campaign)
  • CARTOON NETWORK / RAMEN NOODLES (34A: Nickelodeon competitor / 13D: Classic dorm room meal)
  • GLORIA ALLRED / STELLA ARTOIS (61A: Prominent women's rights lawyer / 45D: Part of a college visit, typically)
  • STROBE EFFECT / COFFEEMATE (76A: Visual phenomenon created by short flashes of light / 66D: NestlΓ© creamer)
  • BALLOON ARTISTS / SCHOOL LOANS (104A: Some entertainers at children's birthday parties / 85D: Sallie Mae products)
  • DAYTIME EMMYS / SWIM MEETS (119A: Awards show that airs at night, ironically / 101D: Pool competitions)
Word of the Day: MIOTIC (73A: Causing constriction of the pupils) —
relating to or characterized by miosis; [(miosis, n.) excessive smallness or contraction of the pupil of the eye] (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't know if it's harder or easier than normal to make a puzzle like this. All I know is that it's tiring to solve. It was tiring to enter the double double letters, and it was double tiring that there was no point. This is the kind of puzzle that almost *has* to have a meta-puzzle payoff to be worth it—that is, if the double double letters had ended up spelling out some kind of message, something relevant to the idea of doubling or doubleness or whatever, then you could go "wow, cool, nice." But I tried spelling things and it didn't really work out (though depending on how you write out all the double letters, you *can* almost make the word DOUBLE happen ... but no, there's no message here, ultimately). It would've been slightly nicer to solve this on paper, where at least I could've seen the letters I was entering, but it would've been equally disconcerting in terms of letter order reversal (i.e. the double letters are in one order going Across, and reverse order going Down, for some reason). The concept feels half-baked. The rebus double-letter circles were both the most interesting and the hardest part of the solve, but they weren't as interesting as they could've been, and they stand out mainly because the rest of the grid is lackluster. I like that this puzzle has more ambition than your typical stale Sunday, but this needed another layer, another element, to really stick the landing. As it is, double double, ho hum. Kind of a letdown.

By far the hardest themer square for me was the OVERHEAD DOOR (?) / BLOOD DRIVE one. First one I encountered, and the only one that doesn't have at least one totally transparent cross. Your "way into a garage" is ... through the garage door. Is OVERHEAD DOOR the kind of garage door that retracts and then sorta slides back onto the roof of the garage? OVERHEAD DOOR sounds like some kind of trap door, like you are entering the garage through the ceiling, somehow. No idea what a "Sleeves Up" campaign is, so the BLOOD DRIVE part was also opaque to me. No other theme square posed nearly so much trouble. Wanted EUGENIA instead of EUGENIE, why in the world would I know about / care about Prince Andrew's kids, ugh (57A: Prince Andrew's younger daughter). 

I think of them as "college loans," or "student loans," not SCHOOL LOANS, but I guess that's a colloquial expression people sometimes use, so OK. Had LAYIN before LAYUP, of course (108D: Easy two points). No idea what MIOTIC means (73A: Causing constriction of the pupils). "Myopic" (also eye-related), sure, but MIOTIC was a yikes (crosses were easy, though, so no big deal). Does ETHERNET still exist? How is NEODADA "old" and also "neo" (95D: Old genre for 12-Down)? Like ... is it "old" in that Yoko ONO no longer works in that genre? I honestly didn't even know it *was* a genre. It's basically an excuse to lade your grid with vowels, is what it is. I think I like BUM A RIDE and ANTI-THEFT and maybe STEAM OPEN. The rest of the grid is good enough, but not delightful. Again, if the theme had done something spectacular, as I kept hoping it would, we'd be having a very different conversation. Ah well. It is admirably ambitious, but in the end, pleasure-wise, no better (or worse) than your average NYTXW Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. looks like Boswords is gearing up for another online crossword tournament in the very near future. Here's the blurb from co-organizer, John Lieb:
Registration is now open for the Boswords 2021 Winter Wondersolve, an online crossword tournament, which will be held on Sunday, January 31 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Solvers can compete individually or in pairs and will complete four puzzles (three themed and one themeless) edited by Brad Wilber. To register, to see the constructors, and for more details, go to
Many of my readers and friends really enjoyed the last one of these, so even if you've never competed in a crossword tourney before, you should consider it. ("Competition" isn't really the point)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

What's with the "Invasion of the TIDEPODs" lately??

Wow. This one was full of punny misdirect clues and answers all over the place! What a trip!

Really enjoyed it until I didn't. Honestly, I'm not going to drone on and on and on and on and on about the technical difficulty that too often arises with these (electronic) FREBUS puzzles. Can we just choose a rule and stick with it? Please??

It it weren't for all the clever fill with cleverer clueing, this one might have left me underwhelmed. The usual theme consisting of the multiple letters to a square "trick" has been done to near-death.
But, at least it worked in both directions. That helps. Plus the themers themselves were cute and kind of sparkly and there was a fair amount of them, so I wasn't left wondering what happened to the rest.

Here's a question for all you languagey people: is 56A kosher? It looks odd to me. Je t' and then AIME standing alone like that? What say youz?

Overall lots of fun with some challenges along the way.


Robin 12:08 AM  

Average puzz overall. Not thrilled by anything, not disgusted by anything.

Worst part was it solving via the Times website, and spending like 3-4 minutes trying to figure out how to format my entries in the 6 "magic" squares so as to get the happy pencil.

Maybe I was bothered by that that I didn't care about the rest of it.

The Son of Isaac 12:32 AM  

What IS the way to do that? My solve record is at stake!

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

Wrote in Volta and soon after realized something was wrong...

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

How does one format the entries to get the happy pencil?

jae 12:59 AM  

Easy-medium, except for trying to figure out what my iPad app needed to get the congrats screen (hi @ frantic & Robin). Liked it slightly more than @Rex did.

Kevin 1:08 AM  

I thought the difficulty it would be to make this grid was impressive, but the actual puzzle was meh. If all you looked at were the clues and answers on a list, there wouldn’t be anything really great.

I’m biased here a bit. The oddball entries for individual squares is fine, but not hard to figure out at all. I get frustrated in not being exactly sure HOW to enter the answers. Does it need to be all one way or the other? Did I need to enter two letters (and let the title of the puzzle “do” the doubling) or four? Or perhaps I’m not getting the completion message because I’ve got some actual error?

I feel like I wasted ten minutes cycling through the various ways to enter the rebus boxes before finally realizing I had misspelled a word.

Unknown 1:18 AM  

Was glad when I got to use 'staid' instead of stoic. Been burned before.

The first rebus square I filled in was NN/OO in the NE and I was hoping that each one of these squares would be a doubled letter followed by the next letter in the alphabet, fulfilling the meta-puzzle payoff and giving me more to go on.

okanaganer 1:20 AM  

Rex may not care about EUGENIE but the parents of tennis star Eugenie Bouchard did. All their kids were named for current princes and princesses.

OVERHEAD DOOR is very definitely a thing in the building trade. (Which doesn't make it very colloquial or exciting, I guess.) When you have a door that is wider than it is tall, overhead (less travel in that direction) makes sense. And don't get me started on rollup doors! Man, they rock. Well actually, they slide up... and then roll up.

I am typing this on the ETHERNET right now. It's great, just plug in the cable, no passwords or any of that nonsense. Of course you have to drill holes in a bunch of walls for those cables. Which is not so great.

manitou 1:58 AM  

Suffix?? Isn't PLEX the root word, with "mega-" and "multi-" as prefixes? I'm perplexed.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Solved this while watching a Packer victory and celebrating my entrance into a new decade. A very fun day. Had a wee bit of a problem with the little letters in such a tiny space, but managed to cope. Hope @Nancy did the same. Enjoyed it.

Marie 2:59 AM  

Me too! Please help.

Anonymous 4:54 AM  

Fix the third bullet point under Theme answers in the writeup.

bocamp 5:18 AM  

Thank you, @Tracy & @Tom, what an absolutely delightful Sunday offering!

Easy-medium solve. Pretty much on my wavelength all the way. :)

Fished for "mahi-mahi"when stationed in Hawaii.

Add "pine nuts" to my snack mix.

Served on numerous "ad hoc" committees.

Will be "e-filing" soon.

Green Grow the "Lilacs" ~ Ed McCurdy

pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Andrea 6:00 AM  

Just enter the letters in order going across. That’s how I got the congrats, anyway.

Loren Muse Smith 6:00 AM  

Well heck. When I saw the trick, I realized that most people’s gripe would be not with the puzzle itself but rather with the fact that online solving would be challenging. Rex – it was a very nice solve on paper. I went in and, as per the note, drew a line splitting the circles and got’er done.

I loved this idea and the mental gymnastics it took to sort out exactly what was going on. Rex explained it perfectly. The added trick of using the pairs in different order for the downs ups the ante, IMO.

I like the euphemistic feel for NICHE’s clue: “not for mass audiences.” Noh theater, John Cage concerts, abstract art. It’s like on Million Dollar Listing when they say that some ridiculous house is one for a “specific buyer.”

@TTrimble – there are lots of shows that are even dumber and more vapid than The Bachelor, and I enjoy all of them. I’ve come to terms with this lowbrow proclivity and don’t apologize, even here where it’s a badge of honor to share that you don’t own a tv. I don’t really drink, so after a long day at work, Bravo tv is my mind-numbing martini.

Today we have BASS OBOE and TENOR SAX. Wonder if there’s a baritone cellolele.

@manitou – you’ve given me something to think about. That’s a complex question.

BAAED is one ugly-looking word. But I still think subpoenaing wins the supreme ugly prize.

People who talk loudly on their phone in public, like seriously loud, should be chased down the street with a baseball bat. It’s beyond RUDE; it’s unsettling and eclipses anything I had in mind to accomplish while I’m subjected to hearing the conversation.

Anytime MOON PIE is in the grid, I’m reminded of a wire-haired dachshund who ate an entire case of MOON PIEs while his owner Annie was at work. One helluva dog.

I love the word “furtive” (in the clue for STEAM OPEN). It feels really guilty, guiltier than, say, surreptitious. Right? I would surreptitiously sneak some gummy bears from the bowl when no one is looking. But I would furtively scoop up several off the floor, head toward the garbage can to make like I’m going to throw them away, and then eat every damn one of them when no one is looking. That’s some seriously furtive S&%$.

NOAM. I’ve met him, brag brag. The last time I heard him speak, it was at UNC-Chapel Hill, and for some reason, we were in a pretty small classroom. Of course it was packed to the gills – standing room only. So he started off jabbering about all this theoretical linguistics stuff that I didn’t even recognize. I mean, seriously esoteric. A lot of the lookie-loos started easing out. After about 5 minutes and about 10 people leaving, Chomsky kinda grinned and said something to the effect that now that he had separated the men from the boys, we could get down to brass tacks. I was so relieved that he started speaking about linguistic theory that I was actually studying and understood.

Speaking of grad school, my classic dorm room meal was grits cooked in a percolator.

Tracy, Tom – nice Sunday romp! I really liked this trick.

PS – My avatar is SAGE, my daughter (with Owen) – she’s about to finish up her third year at Colorado State in vet school. Anyone out there with zoo connections, have your people contact my people, ok?

Lewis 6:20 AM  

Things I liked:
• Backward deep-toned TUBA crossing deep-toned BASS OBOE.
• MOONPIES crossing LUNE.
• Backward TIDE crossing TIDEPOD.
• Animal references: CROW, BAAHED, ALPO, ROAR, MAHI.
• EGADS sharing the grid with FIE.
• TIDEPOD sharing the grid with SOAP.
• The CLOSE up and the TEARS down.
• NEODADA, ARCANA, MISSOULA, IDINA, AIDA, AGRA, SONOMA, AROMA (and I hope the former has a good latter)
• The gorgeous OOCYTE!

Cute letter-gymnastics theme, a fill that kept my solving muscles in shape, and learning MIOTIC complemented the aforementioned treasures to make this solve worthwhile and pleasurable. Thank you, T&T!

Guilherme Gama 6:23 AM  

If people knew how Wi-Fi works, they'd all use ethernet in their homes.

diverk 6:50 AM  

Could have been fun but the rebus trick made it a slog.

OffTheGrid 7:19 AM  

Worst! Natick! Ever! You know where I mean. But I really liked the puzzle anyway. I'm in a good mood. I will get part 1 of my covid vaccination tomorrow. I'm calling Feb. 22 Liberation Day (5 weeks after first shot). I'll also celebrate George Washington's birthday. Cheers!

ncmathsadist 7:24 AM  

I spent forever fighting the !#%!@#$ software.

JD 7:25 AM  

My problem here was that the grid as a vessel to convey this theme stayed afloat but it was leaky. With no idea of which letters were supposed to go into the circles, I was whelmed (water just sloshing around my ankles) but not overwhelmed (nod to @Frantic's potential state of whelm).

Floated along, filling in the words until I hit the rocks of Neeson Meson Oocyte and was sunk. Knowing Swim Meet didn't help. I'm not completely disgruntled, but I am gruntled.

The Golden Age of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network made cable worth paying for. Rugrats, CatDog, As Told by Ginger, Real Monsters, Courage the Cowardly Dog, the Wild Thornberrys, Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold, Spongebob, and Dexter's Lab. @Ms. Amuse Smith, that I don't have a TV anymore isn't because I'm a snob. It's that the cartoons got bad.

Mike Herlihy 7:27 AM  

It was too bad BALLOON had to be a theme answer, the only one where all four letters were in one word.

Enjoyed the puzzle, though.

OffTheGrid 7:49 AM  

@Lewis. Liked your list. There WAS also IRS, EFILES. And AROMA, LILAC. TV anyone? ESPN, CARTOON NETWORK, BBC. Sports? ESPN, EVERT, ARENAS, TEE UP, ATT(QB stat), UMP.

OffTheGrid 7:54 AM  


Colin 8:02 AM  

I finished this very quickly, agree that OVERHEADDOOR was the most difficult of the themers. Pleasant enough puzzle, and now that I've started learning how to construct, I appreciate even more what goes into this. Still, I suspected this would get a "meh" response from many. A lot of the fill felt far-too-familiar: ETON, OPRAH, BATOR, AONE, etc.

@Anonymous, 4:54 AM: Too funny! -->
GLORIA ALLRED / STELLA ARTOIS (61A: Prominent women's rights lawyer / 45D: Part of a college visit, typically)
(I would think a cheaper beer would be part of a college visit...! I have some Stellas in my pantry right now, along with Harpoon IPA and Fat Tire.)

SLG 8:05 AM  


puzzlehooarder 8:06 AM  

I solve on paper and dutifully made a diagonal line from upper left to lower right in each of the circles (hi @lms). That made it easy to see how this allowed the revised letters to be read in proper wether you're reading it top to bottom or left to right.

Writing in those micro- letters reminded me of the old question of "How many saints can fit on the head of a pin?"

That little visual trick and the work it must have taken to create this puzzle compensated for the lack of an overall meta that tied the six circles together.

@Lewis, I enjoyed your TABOO reversed TUBA. Good catch.

RooMonster 8:10 AM  

Hey All !
In case no one has directly said and the "Streakers" are still wondering, you have to put the doubled letters in order for the Across, as in 23A, OVERHEADDOOR, put in the circle DDOO. Repeat for the others.

I got the Almost There message, and really didn't want to look for my mistake, so hit Check Puzzle, and it crossed out all my rebi. I had just two letters, the repeaters, in the circles, as in 23 A, had DO only. So I put in all four letter, although not in the order for the Across, and still it said Almost There. Dang. So I hit Reveal Puzzle, and it put in the letters in order. How about a note to tell you which way to enter the four letters? Thanks for nothing, NYT! Har.

That blathering aside, I did enjoy this puz. Thought it was a neat trick. I did get everything 100% correct, outside of the rebi squares, so I'm counting it as a win! I knew what had to be in the circles, just not what order. So *sticks tongue out* it's a victory! Pretty neat how Tom and Tracy recognized that certain words/phrases/things have the doubleness to make a theme out of. Curious as to which one sparked the idea.

"Two, two mints in one!" For us older folk. :-)

Six F's

lukiegrifpa 8:13 AM  

Yes I believe I do know where you mean. Two words I doubt I’ll ever see again. Nor want to. They can say invisible to the naked eye.

JD 8:20 AM  

@manitou, Right! I see why you're so perplexed. What is the original plex? I guess there's a complex somewhere that may include a plex, but the complexity
is giving me an insecurity complex just thinking about it.

Dan 8:22 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith. Incredible. I met NOAM too. Under almost identical circumstances. Sorta. At Yale in '72. Announcement that he was speaking drew a crowd of 100 plus, including this freshman, to a seminar room for 20. Room was moved to a lecture hall and we all tramped over. Chomsky took the stage and announced that, while he was gratified by the size of the response, he'd been invited by the Linguistics Club to speak about linguistics, not politics, and that's what he intended to do. He said we were all welcome to stay but he wouldn't be offended if anyone chose to leave. I stuck around. Not more than ten minutes into the lecture, I realized I hadn't understood a single word he'd said and slunk quietly (furtively?) out of the room. (I was a budding drama major.)


I had to read a NOAM book once in grad school. It was way OVER(my)HEAD.

ChuckD 8:50 AM  

I started out having fun here - but then it just fizzled. Entered the across rebus in the app with no issues. Liked the CARTOON NETWORK x RAMEN NOODLES themer best. I always thought ALLRED was more of an ambulance chaser and don’t want to be reminded of SCHOOL LOANS. TIDE POD is showing up too much.

Stay in your lane Rex. ETHERNET is alive and well in every office building, college campus, hospital etc in the country. NYC Transit has thousands of miles of fiber interconnecting station LANs and running trains. Trust me - it’s a thing.

I’ll take an RC with my MOONPIES - always reminds me of NRBQ.

Ok for a Sunday - the gimmick kept me interested for a while at least.

pabloinnh 8:55 AM  

There's a local garage door company called guess what, OVERHEADDOOR, so that was not in the least bit unfamiliar. Also was congratulating myself for dredging up ZYGOTE from somewhere, only to find out that the answer was OOCYTE. A couple of oddball answers (also wrong) had me thinking that "hitchhike" might be DOAUTOSTOP, "autostop" being what you call that in Spanish, and it's a term I've always liked, and dead wrong, of course. That kind of a day.

Thought this was a pretty slick gimmick but I gave up trying to write the letters in the circles and get the proper order, I just told myself I knew the answers going both ways and let it go. Life is short, after all.

Thanks to T's G and P for a Sunday that varied from fill in the blanks to WOE. Nice way to spend a cold gray January morning, which we're seeing too many of. Meanwhile, come on Wednesday, and please be without incident.

Ira Sy 9:00 AM  

@Mikeherlihy There is a second word coFFEEmate in the SE.
I enjoyed this puzzle. More the Spin The Bottle last week

Nancy 9:07 AM  

This was fun! I was confused at the outset by the difficulty of the first set of theme answers: BLOOD DRIVE was obvious enough, but OVERHEAD DOOR was definitely not. I don't drive, I don't have a garage, and I'm not sure how you get into a garage via an OVERHEAD DOOR. It sounds pretty precarious. But it's not my problem.

The 2nd set of themers was even worse because I didn't know college dorm kids ate RAMEN NOODLES (sounds awful) and I didn't know CARTOON NETWORK.

I picked up the trick at GLORIA ALLRED and STELLA ARTOIS. Ironic, because they're both proper names and yet I knew both.

I began by putting in the letters AA/LL and so I kept to the pattern. Along the way I thought that perhaps they were supposed to be entered AL/AL, etc. But because I don't solve on a gadget, I knew I didn't have to worry my pretty little head about it. Whichever way I entered the letters, I had faith that the newspaper would just lie there quietly and not give me any backtalk. And it didn't.

Really enjoyed this one! Nice crunchy job.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

What you said, RooMonster! My problem was the very unhelpful instruction about the forward slash in the print version. So I kept trying to find the way to configure my rebi with a "\". Finally gave up and let my unimpressive streak slip away.

Enjoyed the solve.

Rug Crazy 9:20 AM  

The Crossover on my Times Digest Puzzle was in the wrong space/ Had Coffeemate/ Strobe effect but it wouldn't fit!

Z 9:32 AM  

This puzzle works much better if you solve it the way god intended, on paper. I wasted a couple of precious nanoseconds pondering Rex’s “backwards” comment because that is not how it works when solving the way god intended. The rebopodes all have a back slash, not a slash and it matters. The first across themer, for example, reads OVERHEADD\OOR. The corresponding down reads BLOO\DDRIVE. So, solving as god intended, you read the doubled letters in order.

I agree that a meta would help and thought there was one. DODO NO NO LA LA ME ME... but then FEFE and OLOL. Sigh. I was even thinking FEFE might be a FiFi variant (or maybe an iron supplement), but I can’t twist OL OL/OLOL/LOLO/ LO LO into anything.

Decent enough, but missing that little something extra that would make it really good.

@Albie yesterday - Been there. I try to remember to re-read my attempts at humor to make sure it won’t be misunderstood, and adding some sort of indicator if I feel it might not.

@Barbara S. - Well, gee, I put it on a tee for you and there you go being reasonable. Here’s the thing, some people really don’t want to read what you write. But there are just as many, probably many many more, who are fascinated by the discussion. The people who don’t care can always skip the comment. But the people who are interested can not read what you don’t write.

Colin 9:35 AM  

@Nancy, 9:07 AM: I ate lots of ramen as a college student a generation ago, and they still eat them today! In fact, I hosted a party for close friends, and everyone had to bring their favorite late-night snacks and meals... and I cooked up a pot of instant ramen with cut-up hot dogs!

Now that I'm on a low-sodium diet, I cannot eat ramen anymore. But it was one of my favorite foods for a very long time.

TTrimble 9:43 AM  

I rather liked this puzzle, and I couldn't even tell you why except that I didn't find it "Easy-Medium" but rather a challenge in places.

I had a DNF because of DOsED/sEA SOUP instead of DOPED/PEA SOUP. D'oh!

I'm surprised not to see complaints about the MESON/OOCYTE cross. Seems a little more science-y than usual.

I can't claim to have met NOAM; closest I've come was watching him give a talk in an overflow room. But I do recognize the story @LMS told as an old professor's trick. I remember one of my professors in 1st-year grad school using it to whittle down the class size. The size was cut by probably half after the first day.

I mentioned back in November that my mom sneered at me a little for tuning in to Wheel of Fortune, and yet she watches (or at least did watch) all the Housewives iterations, which to me is unwatchable. I can't really forgive Andy Cohen for letting go of Project Runway, and generally think the programming choices on that channel are about the most cynical to be found anywhere on TV. To me Top Chef is the best thing they have -- and somehow it feels to me that's treated as the weak sister of the bunch.

To others: I could explain the easy method for entering rebuses on the NYT online puzzle, but last time I did this, I was accused of unethical behavior, and I'm not about to go through that again. Sorry -- wish I could help you.

Debra 9:45 AM  

Got stuck at the Meson Neeson line.

Erin 9:54 AM  

The clue for STELLA ARTOIS is “beer in a green bottle.” The “part a college visit (typically)” clue is for the next answer over (TOUR).

Spyguy 9:54 AM  

Really frustrating end to a "meh" puzzle. Got everything done on the app, and got the "Keep Trying" message. Looked through the WHOLE puzzle for like a good 10 minutes, and found nothing. Gave in and did the "check puzzle" to find my error. It was the syntax on the dumb rebus squares. Grrrrrrrr...... I mean, I'm not obsessive about time/streaks, but that was a kick in the pants.

Hungry Mother 9:57 AM  

Sunday rebus is always a treat for me. Also I was reminded of a phase of my career when I had a avocation of oologist. I teamed with a Biology undergrad to construct a 3 measurement model of the shape of a bird’s egg. Interestingly, our work maddened both ornithologists and mathematicians, even though it was a beautiful and validated model.

Anonymoose 10:01 AM  

@Z. First, I hope your repeated "as god intended" is sarcasm. Otherwise you would be sending a letter via USPS instead of posting an a blog. Har! There's no second.

Z 10:10 AM  

@chefwen - entering a new decade - Happy birthday?πŸŽ‚πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰

@LMS - Any research on which kills more brain cells? My guess is it is a push.

@manitou et alii - Such comPLEXopodes with no answers? But can you watch The Bachelor on it?

@JD - I was just having a Nickelodeon vs. Cartoon Network discussion on Twitter. I think our agreement was Nickelodeon owned the ‘90’s and CARTOON NETWORK owned the naughts.

@SLG - Exactly what the clue says. Quantum physics does make the occasional crossword appearance, but everything you need to know for solving purposes can be learned Wikipedia.

@Debra - Nice one.

@Aninymoose - When have I ever been sarcastic? If people insist on solving their puzzles while riding the wooden roller coaster near the Rye Marina and then complain endlessly because Lucifer is the head software coder at the NYT who am I to judge?

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

@The Son of Isaac - I struggled with this as well. I finally entered all four letters in each rebus box ex. 23A "DDOO" 34A: "OONN" etc. and I eventually got the Congrats music.

David Fabish 10:14 AM  

Just so you know, ETHERNET is what makes your WiFi WORK. It's also what makes the majority of the internet work.

pmdm 10:16 AM  

Funny. Mike Sharp finds a lot of things tiring. I find whining tiring. But one person may find something whining that another person would call profound criticism. I really don't care as long as I enjoyed solving the puzzle. And I did. Perhaps not as much as I did today's acrostic.

Z. based on your comment today it would seem you are a very unusual person" one who learns from one's mistakes. I misunderstood some of your earlier comments and rarely do now.

pmdm 10:19 AM  

Should have checked yesterday's comments before posting. I am delighted I am not the only person who has had a Saranac beer.

Teedmn 10:21 AM  

Tom Pepper and Tracy Gray, two of my favorite crossword constructors, team up, yay!

I got half of the theme (two sets of double letters) at SWI[M MEE]TS. I figured out the reversal part at CO[FFEE]MATE/STROB[EEFF]ECT, which added that STE[LLAA]RTOIS effect the puzzle needed. Nice job, you two!

This wasn't hard, per se, but the randomization method of solving necessarily involves chipping away at the puzzle, one entry at a time until you get herd immunity (or mentality, whichever you prefer) and the puzzle begins to fill in more easily.

I had __AS_UP in at 80A. I looked at the clue for 72D, probably DOPED I thought, so I put in the P for 80A and PEA SOUP came to mind. It reminded me of how things suddenly become clear when you get close, when driving in PEA SOUP fog. So did I experience metaphorically a fog metaphor?

krismizzi 10:50 AM  

There are a lot of ways to clue EUGENIE that don’t reference alleged sexual abuse Prince Andrew. He’s been in the news all year for his connection to Jeffrey Epstein, so ignorance is not an excuse here...

GHarris 10:52 AM  

As is my wont , I do the Sunday puzzle on Saturday on paper. Then, to check if it’s all correct, I redo it on my iPad to get the Congratulations and an ego boosting low time. All this by way of reporting that I didn’t think about how to enter the rebuses and did so at random. I didn’t care what my paper version thought of it, since I knew what I intended to complete the answers and I,nevertheless got the tada music from my compliant iPad.

CDilly52 10:53 AM  

@Robin et al: me too! I loathe having to go back and read the note to get a hint how to (technically) solve the puzzle. Then on top of that the note told me to look for a diagonal line dividing the circle. Nope. Not there in the NUT app. So I tried to suss out which order the double letters needed to go.

Carola 10:56 AM  

Easy and fun to solve (in the mag), with wit and sparkle throughout the grid.
For Laurel and Hardy fans, I offer two minutes of LEVITY, or rather "This is no time for LEVITY."

CDilly52 10:56 AM  

@okanaganer: Heck yes on OVERHEAD DOOR being an”thing.” In fact, most folk hereabouts purchase their new garage entry devices from the OVERHEAD DOOR Co.

OffTheGrid 11:03 AM  

I referred to my natick earlier and I might be alone. I did not know GLORIA ALLRED or STELLA ARTOIS, so the AALL square was my last and I needed Google. Early on I got OVERHEADDOOR / BLOODDRIVE and decided to go after the other theme answers. That went pretty easily but couldn't crack the above mentioned.

CDilly52 11:06 AM  

You got me, @LMS!! I actually snorted coffee all over my poor orange tabby/avatar when I hit cellolele- as I was already chuckling from “lowbrow proclivity” (mine are Queer Eye, Project Runway, and “The Voice” - so thrilled for Blake and Gwen, he was so obviously head over heels for her from the start!) Thanks for the laughs!

CDilly52 11:10 AM  

@Leeis: Didn’t TEARS in this instance refer to crying rather than demolishing (although a full-on binge of TEARS can certainly demolish my visage for quite a while!)

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

I'll tell you what's "tiring"; Shortz's continued love of "rebuses." How many letters can we stick into one square and how many different directions can we use? I know I'm a traditionalist, but for as long as I can remember, there was one letter per square in a puzzle. I'm slightly less fond of multiple words in an answer, but at least it holds to my original rule. It was not hard to figure out what the answers were, but adding the reverse twist was about all my brain could handle. Can we stop trying to be so "modern"? Ugh.

CDilly52 11:14 AM  

But for the fact that my husband was an astronomy/physics hobbyist, I’d have had the same Natick moment. Thankfully, the particle gave me the necessary “fertilizer” for my immature egg!

Leslie 11:16 AM  

for those asking about how to enter the rebusletters: it's simpler just to enter the first letter of the across answer. So the first circle will have D in it; the second O, and so on. Then you get the happy pencil.

Newboy 11:24 AM  

On paper, yah. But several alternatives attempted on iPad’s AcrossLite app just wouldn’t sing? Anyone have an entry rebus format that worked? Kinda Sunday easy except for the logistics. Maybe better without circles to show rebus spots? I wonder why bother, but habits are hard to break. I’m just eager for Thursday this week to finally arrive in so many ways. Deep breath & πŸ”.

JD 11:30 AM  

@Z, Agree. The kids would've spanned those years in front of the TV and migrated from Nickelodeon to Cartoon Network to Wii and things like World of War Craft. Last I heard they drained my bank account for college educations and went on to productive and hilarious citizens.

@Overhead Door controversy. When your garage door opener dies or the door falls apart you learn that term. There's usually a shop called (Your Town Name Here) Overhead Door.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

In general, if you’re solving using the NYT app on an iPad or iPhone. Just entering the first letter of the rebus in the rebus square will be sufficient. That’s what I did for this one (entered the first letter for the across answer in the rebus) and it gave me the congrats recognition when I finished. You rarely have to enter the whole rebus on the iOS app for it to be accepted as correct.

I got the gimmick at Cartoon Network/Ramen Noodles and found the rest of the puzzle to be very easy.

CDilly52 11:34 AM  

@JD with a friendly nod to @Frantic: My “wordy” family always described their relative states of both “whelm” and “gruntle” as well as their state of “how,” as in Pooh asking Eeyore, “How are you?” whereupon he receives the Eeyorian response, “Not very how today, Pooh.”

The “states of gruntle” originated with my 8 year old self being very impressed with my new word disgruntled, having remarked one evening at dinner that I did not feel like sharing conversation due to my state of being disgruntled, whereupon my father asked me during what part of the day had I been gruntled. I must have looked exceedingly confused because without receiving an answer from me, Dad continued by asking, “How can you be disgruntled if you have not yet been gruntled?” Someone please tell my you have families similarly obsessed with language and that this snippet of a very typical (albeit mildly amusing) dinner conversation was not completely alien to your frame of reference!

egsforbreakfast 11:39 AM  

@JD 7:25. I consider the omission of Ren & Stimpy from your list to be a glaring and grievous omission.

@RooMonster 8:10. I solved on the NYT app and didn’t think about the order, but still got the happy song immediately on finishing. After reading your assertion that the rebii must be filled to make the Across answer read correctly, I went back and looked at my solve and found that I had done that everywhere except the last one, where I had DAYTIMMMEES crossing . But I did get the solve salve notes. Go figure.

I noticed 20A (Former basketball star Gilbert...or the places he played) is a POC with regard to half of the clue but not to the other half. Is this an HPOC?

Steve M 11:42 AM  

Snooze fest really but after yesterday some relief

Birchbark 11:46 AM  

The circled EEFF creates a lagging STROBE EFFECT as you read across the word. So when you get to the next themer and stare at it long enough, the eyes wander a little, and you wonder whether any early BALLOON ARTISTS were also Bonapartists.

Yes and no: the Montgolfier brothers first flew a balloon over Paris in the 1780s; Napoleon's star was rising in the 1790s. But in fact he disbanded the French balloon corps, the so-called "Aerostatiques." Not until the mid-19th century did Napoeon III use a surveillance balloon to defeat the Austrians in battle.

Benjamin Franklin, himself a scientific celebrity, was in Paris when the Montgolfier brothers first went up in the air. Asked about the utility of a balloon, he replied "What's the use of a newborn baby?"

To ensure the future of birthday parties with BALLOON ARTISTS, of course.

CDilly52 11:49 AM  

A very big puzzle. Kudos to our constructors for finding this many words that satisfy the double double idea. My complaint is not with the puzzle’s construction but again (as with last Thursday), the “frebus” concept, not the concept itself. I find it irksome and simply unacceptably untidy to have “extra” letters in a square that do not belong to one of the answers.

This one at least although technically a “frebus” (as I understand it-so please correct me if I misunderstand) at least contains letters that apply to both the across and the down. Huge kudos to our constructors fir that!

Without any Sunday silliness or a theme with a reveal of some sort, this solve became a bit tedious. My Gran would have said too much worn fir too little paycheck. I agree, but I shall be content with my streak being my paycheck.

newbie 12:10 PM  

Got pretty much everything, eventually, so in that way it was satisfying. Overhead door is a term I’ve heard for a garage door but it seems to be an installer’s term these days because garage doors that open out, as opposed to up and down, are pretty rare. Miotic got me. My nitpick of the day is that I wanted it to be hitch a ride or thumb a ride - you usually would say bum a ride when you ask for a ride from friend or someone who wasn’t planning to take you. Hitchhiking is going the way of non-overhead garage doors anyway.

Barbara S. 12:36 PM  

I liked this puzzle (but then, when don't I?). I thought it was one of the more engaging Sundays of late, with a rebus to boot! And FWIW (but it's only W anything if you solve in the App), I find that if you enter the across rebus letters exactly as they should be and completely ignore the downs, you'll get the happy music. I used to turn myself in knots trying to format rebus squares, but there's really no need. I don't know if it also works filling in only the downs.

19A ALA (#1 of 50, alphabetically) -- Could someone explain this?

15D I must still have been under the spell of yesterday's GUITALELE, but when BASSOBOE appeared, I thought, "Wow, I never knew there was an instrument that combined the BASSOon and the OBOE!"

I learned the word OOCYTE through the Spelling Bee (just sayin') and ACAI is another favorite SB word, but I never knew the little devils grew on palm trees.

ANTI-THEFT brought to mind this joke that circulates online:
A thief broke into my house last night looking for money. So I got up and searched with him.

NEO-DADA. As you probably know, the Dadaists, Neo and original, used absurdity to satirize the established order. They ridiculed, among other things, capitalism, automation and materialism. The first Dada movement was born out of WWI and I'd say it's no accident that the revival came in the 50s. One of the prominent Neos was Jean Tinguely, whose most famous work was called "Homage to New York," a performance piece staged outdoors at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960. Tinguely constructed an enormous machine out of odds and sods which was to supposed to self-destruct in front of the audience. There were lots of gears and wheels and pulleys, and automated saws cut bits off while knives were hacking and slashing, and hammers were bonking, and parts of the structure were toppling over and smashing. But there was also fire, which resulted in the FDNY being called in, bringing the performance to an abrupt end. MOMA still holds a least one piece of the machine but most of the remains were carried away by audience-members as souvenirs, which is what Tinguely wanted. Here's a fragment of film from Homage to New York.

JimWho 12:41 PM  

HOW do I fill out the circled squares in the online version? I’ve tried several methods (including internal / mark) and can’t get to congratulations. Help!

pabloinnh 12:53 PM  

@pmdm-Thanks for the acrostic recommendation. Got to be my favorite in a very long time.

Masked and Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Magnificent Beastmeister @Z gave a pretty darn good summary of why this cool theme worked so well … if U solved on paper, as M&A did. M&A normally prefers humorous SunPuz themes, but I really liked this puppy, anyhoo. Assumin @Lewis really liked the double double letter squares.

Spent numerous nanoseconds, camped out in the NW area of DD\OO, tryin to figure out the theme mcguffin. Was worth it, as knowin the gimmick really helped m&e, with the other XX\YY close encounters. (Also just plain gave m&e some peace of mind.) Spellin out a secret "Always Drink Yer Ovaltine" message was not a big puzrequirement, at our house.

staff weeject pick: ATT. This varmint has been clued lotsa ways, in the days of xwordyore. For freshness sake, how'bout: {@stretch??} = ATT.

fave sparkler: STEAMOPEN.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Tracy darlin & Tom dude. Gray-Pepper zesty. And DANGG\OOD.

Masked & Anonym8Us


Izzie 12:56 PM  

According to me!

Selena 12:57 PM  

Using Across Lite. Trying to enter double cross clues using rebus in a variety of combinations, but no dice. Any help?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  


Danger Will Robinson!! Far too many vaccinated (esp. The Orange Sh!tgibbon, not my coinage but I cleave) assume that being vaccinated means no mask, no distance, no hand washing. The medics know better, and have been saying so. None of these vaccines is proven to be sterilizing, which means that if one encounters Covid two things are true:
1 - you (95%) won't get sick
2 - you (100%) won't infect others

None of these vaccines do 2.

Ergo, until Herd Mentality is reached, even the vaccinated, unless they're also malignant narcissists, must continue to behave in a public health positive manner.

JC66 1:05 PM  

@Barbara S

Alphabetically, ALAbama is the first of the 50 states

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

@SLG - 8:05

that's just the name of the critter.

@David Fabish - 10:14
Just so you know, ETHERNET is what makes your WiFi WORK. It's also what makes the majority of the internet work.

well... TCP/IP is what makes the innterTubes work, even the kludge to use it for streaming porn. ETHERNET is a LAN wiring topology. much of the innterTubes backbone is still run by those old microwave tower transmitters you see on hill tops.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

88A “It has its pros and cons”


gregg 1:13 PM  

The t' means one leaves out the "e" in the French word "te". It would be "Je te aime" " I you love" Thus "aime" is an actual French word. From retired engineer married to retired French major.

Frantic Sloth 1:22 PM  

@chefwen 237am Happy Birthday, you sly boots! I'm too smart for your 
"code". πŸ˜‰πŸ₯‚πŸ€‘πŸŽ‚

@Loren got me thinking about dorm meal improvs and what others here remember having in their day.
My most memorable was boxed Mac & Cheese. No fridge meant no butter and no milk, so substituted peanut oil and nondairy creamer. Yum!

@Colin 935am RAMEN has undoubtedly been around for decades, but was not yet the "go-to" (or even known about) when I went to college in the... hey! Look over there!

Anyone else?

@JD 725am Cartoons have been going steadily downhill since the 60s. But, the NEESON MESON OOCYTE sounds like something Jar Jar Binks would say and there's nothing worse than that.

@OffTheGrid 749am Right? We've had an "Overhead Door" in our town for as long as I can remember. Rex just flabbergasts me sometimes.

@Z 1010am Hey! Stop insulting the slothful who would rather flail and founder than get up, walk to the computer and print out the puzzle. Not to name drop, but I met Lucifer once. What a dick.

@Carola 1056am I saw your link and for some reason immediately thought it might be this. Yours is better and more appropriate.😁

I'm not an expert, but I'm thinking the 52A clue for PLEX should have been different. Don't ask me how. Just different.

Gotta run - will have to finish reading all y'all later.

Unknown 1:34 PM  

A good enough puzzle. Didn't leave me swearing or sighing or a nervous wreck for the rest of the post-solve day. I kinda liked the theme and found the answers quickly.

Kath320 1:42 PM  

We bought our garage door from a company called "Overhead Door"

Michael Fleming 1:45 PM  

When done on paper the ordering of the rebus makes more sense visually.





Barbara S. 1:53 PM  

@JC66 (1:05 PM)
Duh. Well, if nothing else has ever identified me as being non-American, that certainly did.

I should have made clear in the first paragraph of my post at 12:36 PM that I solve in NYT Crossword App. I guess there are a number of possible apps out there.

@Z (9:32)
You're @Zweet.

JD 2:02 PM  

@CDilly52, I love your story! It could've happened in our house. And once someone mangled a word, it entered the lexicon. My favorite was when I snapped out a "behave yourself" to my 5-year-old and she huffed back, "I AM being have!" It made so much sense.

@egsforbreakfast, Head slap. It may actually have been the one that kicked off that streak of originality.

@Frantic, There was a uptick of raucous, funny and artistic stuff in the timeframe Z mentioned. Available for free on youtube.

thefogman 2:05 PM  

Agree with Rex 100 per cent. A good reveal could have been: How some like their coffee or a hint to the slashed squares - DOUBLEDOUBLE

Doc John 2:29 PM  

What? No carping about who Red ADAIR is this go-round?
And now you know what a MIOTIC is.

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

I just got around to reading yesterday’s comments on Donatello’s David. I’m late on this, so if uninterested scroll on. The David is definitely homoerotic. Where I disagree with some is that I don’t think it can any way be considered some form of advocacy, at least on a conscious level. The homosexual elements are the feather protruding upward between David’s legs, a sexual metaphor, and of course the almost feminine beauty of David himself (I don’t know how to express this). The most obvious element is the fancy hat on David. Why would a good Jewish boy like David be wearing a fancy hat, and nothing else, when going into battle with Goliath? Knocking a boy’s hat off was a well-known symbol as a precursor for a sexual assault. It was used regularly by boys as a means of sexual taunting. So David is announcing to the world: I am gorgeous, highly desirable, and this horrible ugly Philistine monster wanted me as his sex-prize for victory in battle–but I killed and beheaded him, and am untouched by him (with my hat on).

This early-modern homoeroticism is difficult to describe, though there is much literature on the subject. In literature or even criminal records, there is very little about two adult male lovers–it’s almost always a man and a boy. In criminal records it is almost always an upper-class adult and a lower-class boy. Such being the case, even if the penalty was severe, it would commuted to a fine. What is odd is that, compared to modern anti-homosexuality (say, of 50 years ago, or now, in some places), is that sexual urges for boys were considered to be perfectly normal (as opposed to the more “modern” notion that it was sign of some aberrancy). Late medieval preachers would say, yes, we all have these urges, but we should never act on them. (Then sometimes the preacher would begin blaming the wives for driving their men to it.) Even in Christian antiquity there are some who say that Paul of Tarsus said that boy-chasing was something we “all” did before we became Christian (the relevant passages are not completely clear on this). Paul was a thoroughly Hellenized Jew, and such could be expected. In non-Hellenized Jewish culture, I think, this was not much of an issue.

One often cites “artistic” homosexuals of the Renaissance, such as Leonardo da Vinci. But the evidence for the “un-artistic” Machiavelli is just as strong. In one casual letter to a friend he describes being horny and going to Joan for solace. Joan wasn’t there, so he went to John instead (I can’t remember the precise names). This was a sin, but not much different from others, and a little confession and penance would take care of everything. If it had been some serious aberration, he would not have mentioned it in a letter.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Nigel Pottle 2:51 PM  

I have no idea why Rex would have difficulty with the clues for OVERHEADDOOR and BLOODDRIVE. They were the first rebus I got (very early yin the solving) and at the second I guessed that the across clue would determine the order of the four letters. And I too thought it was too bad the constructor didn’t have DOUBLEDOUBLE as a hint to the circles. Then I thought, well e ery Canadian knows what a double double is (two creams, two sugars in tYour Tim’s coffee), but realized that what’s a very common Canadian phrase is not going to work in the very American NYT crossword. And this Canadian has never heard of GLORIAALLRED but I got the answers thanks to STELLAARTOIS, although I was pretty sure that the first name would be GLORIA. I also thought that the fill seemed a lot less crosswordy than usual. All in all I found this a fun and fast Sunday. Beat my average time by 3 minutes plus.

Liz1508 2:53 PM  


RooMonster 2:55 PM  

@thefogman 2:05
Or clued as: Regular order at In-N-Out, or a hint to the slashed squares. Love me some In-N-Out doubledoubles!

RooMonster Slash Guy

old timer 2:57 PM  

Really much better than the average Sunday slog. Of course, I actually subscribe to the NYT, so it is easy to solve on glossy Magazine paper. Never heard of MIOTIC but the crosses were fair.

I found the other puzzles pretty easy. Any day where the Spelling Bee 3-pointer leaps off the page for you is a good day.

MESON made me think of Mason jars, Roger Miller, and Chug-a-Lug.

A 2:58 PM  

Happy Unfitness Day!

Vee\rry Interesting idea, and the execution, though not lethal, was intoxicating enough to pleasantly perPLEX.

Multitudes of doubles scattered about the grid:

Rex was looking for a meta theme. How about this: if you begin each themer and turn 90 degrees to its crossthemer you get plausible sounding answers. I added some possible clues:

BLO’ OR’ - It’ll ___ (this too shall pass), quaintly, var., poetic and unpronounceable
CARTOODLES - Mapmaker’s sketches
RAMEN NETWORK - Noodle group?
GLORIA ARTOIS - Stella’s equally ravishing sister
STELLA ALL RED - Chesnut in the Oaks?
STROBE EMATE - (can’t do this one - my mother wouldn’t approve)
COFFECT - Portmanteau indicating reaction to a funeral procession
BALLOANS - Gala funding?
DAYTIME ETS - Sun-loving aliens
SWIMMYS - Areel feeling, with “the”

Apologies to cluers everywhere!

Zoom Indoguration coming up!

RooMonster 3:25 PM  

ZOOMMEETING could've been a triple double...
Crossed by DEEMMOODY (What a husband sometimes calls his wife's feelings?)


Any other triple doubles y'all can come up with?


OffTheGrid 3:26 PM  

@Anonymous 12:59. Rest easy. I know all that and will of course continue masking and distancing. I haven't even been going inside at the grocery store. I order online and pick up curbside. Once I am protected I will feel safe going into stores (wearing my mask to protect others) and resuming my volunteer work at the animal shelter. I may even get a professional haircut. But none of this for at least 5 weeks. Thanks for your post. Your message is very important.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  


just to be clear, nothing personal. wasn't implying that you had implied bad public health behaviour. only wanted to impress on the other readers here that innoculation doesn't mean non-infectious. there's been too much noise in some of the media that one does imply the other.

Treelover 3:49 PM  

Funny comments about the way into a garage! I am a very slow NY Times x-word solver and that one was a no-brainer. In Suburbia, everyone knows that before you drive your SUV into the garage, you remotely open the OVERHEAD DOOR, then once in, you close it - this is to avoid interaction with your neighbors :-)

Barbara S. 4:32 PM  

@Anon. i.e. Poggius (2:47 PM)
Fascinating reading of Donatello’s David as defier of his possible fate as slave-lover of Goliath. Particularly interesting in light of the generally-accepted notion that the figure was modelled on or influenced by antique sculptures of Antinous, the teenaged lover of the Emperor Hadrian. This is David as the anti-Antinous, you might say. At first glance David looks so very passive. And his pose is close to that of the Antinous prototypes, as least as far as the downcast gaze and the contrapposto stance are concerned. But the sword in one hand, the stone in the other, the hat and the boots give him a swagger that the Roman models lack. Thanks, @Anon. i.e. Poggius, for giving me lots to think about.

GILL I. 4:46 PM  

Well call me a cow and eat me some RADII.....This was another oof de oof ....Get up, sit down. Get up, sit down. I have this sudden urge to eat me some OOCYTE over easy with MIOTIC PINE NUT TATERS.
Figuring out the Double-Crossed was not difficult but holy bunions, you two sure had some doozies. Thank the lord you had some AROMA LILAC GAS MAIN or I might've blown my TENOR SAX out the garage door.
@CDilly....In our house our typical dinner discussion was wondering when my brother would end his diatribe "grace" before our meal. He would look at the food in front of him and if he didn't want the peas, he would go on for about an hour about how God was good and he gave us food and shoes to wear and how all the kids in China were starving. Then he'd stick the peas in his napkin, excuse himself and go to the bathroom.

Irisia 4:53 PM  

Movie theaters

Irisia 4:54 PM  

I can’t get this to work at all! Maybe I have a typo somewhere

Citizen Dain 5:09 PM  

RE: "It would've been slightly nicer to solve this on paper, where at least I could've seen the letters I was entering, but it would've been equally disconcerting in terms of letter order reversal (i.e. the double letters are in one order going Across, and reverse order going Down, for some reason)"

It was actually much easier on paper, because there was a forward slash separating the two halves of the square diagonally. So putting two letters in the bottom left and two in the top right meant that it was easy to read left-to-right and top-to-bottom!

Z 5:32 PM  

Thanks to Staples I learned that January 23rd is National Handwriting Day. So not only should you all solve puzzles the way god intended but you should do it neatly.

@Frantic Sloth - Was it this guy?*

@Citizen Dain - My copy has a back slash - \ - not a forward slash - /.

*Let me suggest that you not google “Lucifer penis” at work. Most definitely NSFW.

sanfranman59 6:06 PM  

@Anon (11:14am) ... re "I know I'm a traditionalist, but for as long as I can remember, there was one letter per square in a puzzle." ... For the record, per XwordInfo, rebuses may be more common during the Shortz era, but weren't rare before that, particularly during Maleska's reign. The first was published 9/6/1954.

female Jewish anonylumna 6:18 PM  

@Poggius writes in regard to grown men having sex with young boys: "Paul of Tarsus was a thoroughly Hellenized Jew, and such could be expected. In non-Hellenized Jewish culture, I think, this was not much of an issue." *

* My mother always told me that Jews make the best husbands.

Smith 6:28 PM  

@JD 8:20

If you're still there...

Your post reminds me of a sign in town "Complex Public Parking", which gets the response from me, "Life's not complicated enough? You couldn't give us some simplified public parking?"

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

Thanks, Barbara S. (4:32 p.m.): now you've given ME something to think about. Now time to make an excursion to Florence, if this damned plague will ever end. Thanks, too, for your thing on another matter several days ago, which many commented on. I neglected to: some of these I get to late.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Joe in Newfoundland 7:07 PM  

puzzlehoarder - the question is angels, not saints, the idea being that the scholastics wasted their time on such questions, since angels are not made of physical matter. And not such an old question as it was made up by English Protestant scholars 200 years ago - no medieval would have bothered with such a question.

Raycloud 8:41 PM  

Why can’t the NY Times figure out how to program the online versions of their puzzles like the printed version. C’mon. In this case It just means diagonally dividing a square and allowing a rebus in each of the two quadrants. It can’t be that hard. We’re not sending a man to the moon.

TTrimble 9:10 PM  

@pmdm, @pabloinnh
Me three on enjoying today's acrostic. Good thematic harmony between the clue answers and the quotation. I think Joe Dipinto would like it too.

*** SB Alert ***

Spoilers from yesterday

Did anyone get the crown yesterday? I foundered on KEPI, KIPPA, and NANKEEN. I couldn't immediately recognize the first two, but on looking them up went, "oh, yeah". The third I've never seen before, I don't think.

Today I'm pg -7, but pointwise still some distance from the prize.

jberg 9:57 PM  

I'm here very late; it has been a hard day. Our dog, Allegra, developed a soft-tissue sarcoma a couple of months ago, and has been deteriorating rapidly. Today was the day we had finally set for ending her pain. A wonderful vet (hi @Loren, didn't know your daughter was going into that profession; good for her!) came to our house ahd helped us through the process -- but I couldn't concentrate on solving while waiting for her, so I finished at about 8, just as i was called for dinner.

OK, the puaale. First of all, in the paper, there's no ambiguity about which double letters go first. In the down, it's those on top of the slash; in the across, it's those to the left of the sash. So all you online shoppers should just go back to solving in the paper, the way God intended.

OMG! I guessed right on that horrible Natick in the SE corner -- NEESON and MIN crossing EBSEN. I think I had some vestigial memory of EBSEN, but two answers of actors with one clued by actors seems a bit too much. And, btw/, what does MIB stand for?

I have no inside information, but given what we know about Prince Andrew AND jEFFREY ePSTEIN, I am a little worried about EUGENIE.

Bruce Fieggen 10:37 PM  

Switched to ETHERNET in my home office for my online teaching and don’t have to worry about dropping WIFI during a class anymore.

Smith 10:55 PM  

@TTrimble 9pm

****SB ALERT****

QB yesterday with one assist and it wasn't yours but a dumb 4 that I just missed. Not today though. Barely made G and had to use all my 4Ls. Better luck tomorrow!

Smith 10:56 PM  

@pmdm, pablo, TT

Me four on the acrostic!

Bruce Fieggen 11:08 PM  

MIB stands for Men in Black.
Your dogs name is Allegra?
Agree about solving with pen and paper.

A 11:10 PM  

So sorry, @jberg, for your loss of Allegra. Our husky mix Demi was a victim of oral hermangiosarcoma. It's painful to watch the quick demise of an otherwise healthy (and beloved) animal, and it's hard to know how long to hold on. Glad you had a veterinarian willing and able to come to your home.

MIB i'm given to understand is Men In Black. Name of movie, I think.

bocamp 11:11 PM  

@TTrimble 9:10 PM

SB stuff

Couldn't pick the latter of the three you mentioned out of the crowd; knew it, too, that's the sad part. It's been in crosswords of the past. I love the sound of it.

td pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

albatross shell 11:22 PM  

Mostly building on your work:

And using the old favorite triple double:



Not much in exciting fill, but 2 or 3 single triple-double letter phrases crossing basketballs triple-double might an amusing touch. Vowel rich too.

bocamp 11:35 PM  

@jberg 9:57 PM

My Condolences on the passing of Allegra. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. πŸ™

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Vincent Collazo 3:49 AM  

You are perplexed and you are correct. One doesn’t go to the “multi” or “mega”—the multi what? the mega what?—for that matter we don’t really go to the “plex” either, but if we did it would at least make sense.

Vincent Collazo 3:54 AM  

Stella Artois should be part of every college visit!

chris jennings 9:26 AM  

Quoting Rex...

"...if the double double letters had ended up spelling out some kind of message, something relevant to the idea of doubling or doubleness or whatever, then you could go "wow, cool, nice."

I'm not sure I would say 'wow, cool, nice'. I'm not sure I woulda cared.

I enjoyed this one. My conolences to all the wet noodles (ramen) who didn't. xo -cj

Tom 2:47 PM  

This one must have been pretty easy, since I solved it in about half my usual Sunday time.

Two comments on the column:

Having bought a couple recently, I can verify that Overhead Door is very much a common phrase. Also the name of the Overhead Door Company of (insert town name here -- they're all over). This was my key to figuring out the double-letter rebuses (rebi?).

Ethernet is still very much alive too, despite the ubiquity of Wi-Fi. All workplaces rely on cabled connections, and if you sufficiently hose up your router, sometimes that's the only way to get everything back up and running.

Thanks for the read.

DrBB 10:53 AM  

Yeah, I pretty much hate this kind of rebus puzzle, where the challenge is to figure out how to format the answer so the software accepts it, even though you've, y'know, GOT the answer. How is that fun? Especially since, as Rex points out, there's nothing particularly interesting about the rebus answers themselves, other than the coincidence of the same double letter sets showing up in two different words. Whoopee.

Anonymous 2 5:00 PM  

I thought this puzzle was strictly amateur and adolescent in its reliance on abbreviations, sports, and pop culture. One of the worst.

kitshef 9:05 PM  

Meh. Not much to the theme (unless I missed an element), so once you get it it's just a long themeless slog.

Unknown 12:36 AM  

I only get the Sunday NYT delivered so I can do the puzzle in ink. Too nervewracking in the computer! And I knew what miotic was!!

Unknown 10:44 AM  

The above reminded me to wonder what food actually contains a singular pine nut? Pignole are one of those things that only make sense in plurals.

Ray - O - Sunshine 1:00 PM  

Only adding a comment because:
Our paper prints this puzzle 2 weeks later and when I SPY a rebi I toss the paper and run screaming from the room. Decided to give it a try (it's freezing in central NY and almost as harsh as Rex is, plus nowhere to go and nothing else to do. So found a working pen and actually finished. πŸ˜ƒ

Burma Shave 2:12 PM  


while ASEA with an A-ONE ship's MATE
LESS chef than master MAHI MAHI BATOR.


spacecraft 4:21 PM  

I feel for all you online solvers...but I just can't reach you. Score one for the old-fashioned printed page! I started with BATOR and ARENAS, so the first theme crossing I hit was RAMENNOODLES/CARTOONNETWORK, easy enough to get.

The fill, however, gave me fits. Solving felt like a slog, and OFC was right: no big payoff awaits. There are a few good longer answers, and nothing really horrible--are there really BASS OBOES? And isn't the VOLGA mostly in Asia??--so they get away with a par. Look no farther than 1-across for DOD Glenn CLOSE.

rondo 8:01 PM  

@Ray - O actually better than average Sun-puz.

Any puz cluing a Bond girl is OK. EVA Green, yeah baby.

Hope you al ACEDIT.

Diana, LIW 10:01 PM  

Late checking in. Plenty of help to make the solve solvable. OK for a Sunday, IMO. IMVHO

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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