Sea urchin at a sushi bar / SUN 1-10-21 / Overnighting option / Classic saying originated by John Donne / Oscar 1987 Peace Nobelist from Costa Rica / First ruler of a united Hawaii / Quack doctor's offering / the Doughnut children's book series

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Constructor: Alex Bajcz

Relative difficulty: Medium (10-something)

THEME: "Oh, Fourpeat's Sake!" — repeating four-letter strings ... yes, that is all:

Theme answers:
  • NO MAN IS AN ISLAND (22A: Classic saying originated by John Donne)
  • BAHAMA MAMA MIX (31A: Aid for making a tiki bar cocktail)
  • "WELCOME HOME, HON" (48A: "Glad to have you back, dear!")
  • PRIMETIME TV (62A: Most expensive block)
  • "WHERE WERE WE?" (72A: Post-interruption question)
  • KING KAMEHAMEHA (87A: First ruler of a united Hawaii)
  • ALUMINUM INGOT (103A: Relatively light foundry product)
  • ROMA TOMATO SAUCE (118A: Potful in some Italian kitchens)
Word of the Day: ARTURO Schomburg, Harlem Renaissance figure (77A) —
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (January 24, 1874 – June 10, 1938), was a historian, writer, and activist. Schomburg was a Puerto Rican of African and German descent who moved to the United States and researched and raised awareness of the great contributions that Afro-Latin Americans and Afro-Americans have made to society. He was an important intellectual figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Over the years, he collected literature, art, slave narratives, and other materials of African history, which were purchased to become the basis of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, named in his honor, at the New York Public Library (NYPL) branch in Harlem. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is the last day of my annual week-long fundraising effort for the blog. It's been a weird week, to say the least. An assault on the Capitol—did not see that coming. I spent the week being buffeted back and forth emotionally, with the horrible news out of DC dragging me down, but then the generosity and kind messages from blog readers lifting me up. It's been so nice to hear from readers this week, and to be reminded of what a big, weird, wonderful world crossword solverdom is. People have been particularly complimentary of (and desirous of) the Alfie postcards my daughter designed (see below). Many of you have asked whether they were available for purchase as a complete set. As of now, they are not, but that may change. I'll let you know. Anyway, it's been very gratifying to hear from readers. So often writing the blog feels a bit like shouting into the void, so it's nice to be reminded the void isn't such a void after all. I can't thank you enough for your readership and for seeing the value in what I do here, whether that's explaining the themes, or helping you understand tricky clues, or just giving you a feeling of commiseration when you, too, are disappointed in or furious at or madly in love with the puzzle. It's about community. Feeling less alone in this otherwise (mostly) solitary endeavor. I see you out there. And I'm grateful. 

The PayPal button and snail mail address are always sitting over in the blog sidebar, but otherwise, that's it for fundraising pitches for the next 51 weeks. Really REALLY hope they're better than the past 52. Happy New Puzzling Year, everybody.

Here are the annual contribution options one last time. 

First, Paypal:

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

And heck, why don't I throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which they did that one time someone contributed that way—but it worked!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. And my thank-you postcards this year are really special. They are portraits of my new cat Alfie (a bright spot of 2020), designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. And they look like this:

He's eating kale in that middle one, in case you're wondering. Anyway, these cards are personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share them with the snail-mailers. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

* * *

Wow, well, I guess karmically things have to even out eventually. Last Sunday's puzzle was so nice ... and we now return you to our regularly scheduled program of Sunday tedium. This was somehow both way, way too straightforward (you can tell just from the title and looking at the grid how the theme is going to express itself) and confoundingly forced and tortured. Some of these themers are just painful, first among them being BAHAMA MAMA MIX. It's the MIX that really gets me. There's a mix?? I barely know this cocktail exists, and you are telling me there is a mix. You use a mix. A mix? A mix. Margarita mix, hell yeah, I got you. Bloody Mary mix, OK, sure. Daiquiri mix? Yes, we're still friends. BAHAMA MAMA ... MIX? Come on now. I'm not saying there isn't such a thing, but come on. Further, ALUMINUM INGOT!?!?!? Look, these themers should be things, real things, actual things, not some preposterous theoretical thing that you would never ever ever accept in a puzzle as a self-standing answer. "WELCOME HOME, HON!?!?!?!" I had "SON," which at least you can imagine someone saying. Presumably a SON might've been away for a long time. Possibly he doesn't live with you any more. But a HON has maybe just been at work? Or the store? I don't know, but it's not the '50s, what is with this weird formal "WELCOME HOME, HON?" Again, son comes back from, I don't know, war, maybe, it's an Event. The formality of the phrasing makes sense. HON, my word. INGOT, dear gracious everloving wow. What are these themers? And the SAUCE is just sitting out there in that last themer, the only word in alllll the theme answers not touching any of the fourpeated letter strings. Sad. In the end, this is a bland concept, ridiculously executed.

The MIX thing was really gahhhh because I couldn't make sense of the "X"—the cross was FEDEX, and I ... guess I just have a different idea of what "overnighting" means (18D: Overnighting option). See now it refers to shipping, but the "-ing" isn't even strictly necessary, and makes it seem like camping or other kind of sleeping arrangement is the context. What else? I misspelled Hans Christian ANDERSEN of course ("-ON") (90D: Giant in fairy tales?). Had AMEN RA because as I've said before that damn second vowel can go all kinds of ways (40A: Supreme Egyptian deity). "Circular arrow button" doesn't mean anything to me—I don't even know where that is, or what context I'm supposed to be imagining. Very unevocative. So RELOAD, pfft, needed a bunch of crosses (10D: Click the circular arrow button, say). Had HEAT before RIOT (2D: ___ shield) (sidenote: RIOT shield, maybe not a direction I would've taken the puzzle this week). STOMP before STAMP (25A: Really put one's foot down). CAF remains very much not a thing you order. It's regular or decaf, those are the options. You could order a half-CAF. But no one is like "gimme a CAF!" Stop with this tone-deaf nonsense cluing! (80D: Quick pick-me-up?) ("Quick" because it's an abbrev.). Haven't seen "R.U.R." in a very long time. Old school crosswordese. Seeing it again ... honestly, not TERRIF. Still, not as painful as the EMS clue (43D: Mammal's head and heart?) (its "head and heart" because it starts with an "M" and has two "M"s in its middle, GET IT!?!?!). For pete's sake, somebody submit some decent Sunday puzzles to the NYTXW. Your marquee puzzle should not be batting below the Mendoza line

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Robin 12:05 AM  

Pretty much agree with Rex's complaints and, wow, sounds like all the same mistakes.

Except for FEDEX. I don't think I'm more than a few years older than Rex, but I certainly remember when FEDEX's advertising slogan was, "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."

jae 12:11 AM  

Medium. Kinda ho-hum theme and fill to match. Not memorable enough to like or dislike.

Frantic Sloth 12:15 AM  

OH, FOURPEAT'S SAKE! is the title of this puzzle, which I had to look up after completion for any hope of grasping the theme.
Didn't help. Obviously, smarter people than I will have to explain this to me, so I guess I'll have to wait until Rex posts his write-up.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking "oh! fourpeat! So that means repeating 4 times...nope." Only one of those follows that theory: AMAMAMAM. Every other themer? Twice. Twice as far as I can count and I'd like to think as unmathy as I am, that I can at least count past 2 or even 4 on a good day.

If one ignores the theme - which takes some doing with all that hoopla staring you in the face - the puzzle was kind of fun, but I shall refrain from writing any more until the veil is lifted.

Oh, one thing: isn't there a tasteless, PG-rated joke about King Kamanawanalea?

Later that same night...

Oh, for cryin' out loud! Repeat 4 letter strings. Once. Well, the good news is I no longer feel stupid for not "getting" it.

Nice message from Rex today. He likes us! He really likes us!

I liked the puzzle more than he did, but he makes some valid (negative) arguments.

❤️❤️Those cats!! ❤️❤️


Mr. Alarm 12:27 AM  

Would someone explain this clue?

123 Makes Don nod?: REVERSES

Elizabeth Sandifer 1:08 AM  

I had three big problems with this.

1) It was boring. Honestly this is most of it.

2) BAHAMA MAMA MIX, though for different reasons than you. AMAMAMAM is not a four letter string repeating once, it’s a bigram repeating four times.

3) OTERI/TOKE is functionally a Natick. I had OPERI/POKE, which looked plausible. POKE was weak, but not worse than plenty of clues that have gone through, and TOKE practically needs a ? on “Quick Hit.”

Grim. Have similarly been very low on Sunday enjoyment lately.

Joaquin 1:08 AM  

I kept hoping there would be some kind of revealer that would provide a major "aha moment". Several times I convinced myself not to quit, slogged my way through, and ... nothing. Very unrewarding solve.

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

I stopped at riot shield.

chefwen 1:59 AM  

@Mr. Alarm, don spelled backwards is NOD. Kind of a weird clue.

Puzzle was fine, if not somewhat boring. Whipped through it pretty quickly for a Sunday. Busy figuring out what to whip us for our meeting.
I think some ROMA TOMATO SAUCE will fill in nicely with HOMEmade pasta.

Anonymous 2:45 AM  

@Elizabeth Sandifer
I had the same issue with TOKE/pOKE. Is a toke particularly quick? That was never my understanding of the word.

Loren Muse Smith 2:55 AM  

Sigh. Oh, Rex. We’re so wildly different. This kind of stunt just thrills the heck out of me. I was De Ligh Ted when BAHAMA MAMA MIX fell. At that point, like @Elizabeth Sandifer said and @Frantic (maybe?), I was thinking that it would be two letters repeating four times. So with WELCOME HOME, HON, I was stumped briefly until I saw it was four letters repeating. Even better! I care not one whit that the phrases are ridiculous. All I care about is seeing those four letters repeat, and (I swear I’m serious), seeing the repetition almost makes me shiver with pleasure.

But I’m always mentally doing stuff like this. Like if I inadvertently come out with, say, . . . Dubai by tomorrow. . . I hear that bai by and am powerless not to stop everything and see how many I can get in a row. John came up with his unique Dubai bye-bye by buying an Arabic phrase book. I can’t emphasize enough how this kind of game pleases me. (Poor Dr. Weatherford, my German professor, who constantly examined ridiculous sentences I created seeing how many verbs I could pile on to the end of the sentence: Er weiß, dass ich das hätte tun sollen können. Hah. [Mach mal 'nen Punkt, Smith.]

I’m reminded, Rex, of a past Sunday letter repetition theme that you excoriated, one that I ADOREd, too. I know the constructor, and I tell ya, they were devastated by your vitriol. Happily, the constructor has thick enough skin that they’re still in the game. I know of another constructor who has basically vanished from crossworld after a particularly nasty Rexview, and they told me in an email that the write-up was the last straw; they just lost their taste for all this.

Yeah – “stomp” before STAMP. Brings to mind the chomp/champ at the bit dealie.

@Mr. Alarm - I know, right? Given shit show we’re living right now, the first thought for Don is the sociopath.

I don’t get the complaint about the clue for CAF. Caffeine is a pick-me-up. Its short form is CAF. Move along, people; there’s nothing to see here.
FWIW, I had “vac” first. Defensible. Other goofs:

“poke” before TOKE
“pend” before HANG
“pants” before TENT

Speaking of that last one, who knew that “pocket rocket” was a poker term? Ahem. There’s a lot to work with there, puerile pun-wise, but I gots stuff to do today. Actually, I had already decided to eschew posting today because I have a ton of schoolwork to catch up on, but I enjoyed this theme so much and Rex’s take was so opposite, that I had to come to the puzzle’s defense.

Alex – I absolutely loved this and had a terrific time teasing out the four-letter repeat strings. Bravo!

Mr. Alarm 3:22 AM  

Thank you. Yup, the puzzles don’t get harder, the clues just get stupider, imo.

Mr. Alarm 3:27 AM  

Yes, exactly, along with “Don” (wouldn’t “makes nod don” work as well?), and RIOT SHIELD, I was really not enjoying this!

Unknown 5:08 AM  

Makes Pat tap?

Lewis 6:27 AM  

I love the word SPIFF; I think it’s TERRIF. I liked the crossing palindromes ILE and ELI, as well as TIN crossing ALUMINUM INGOT. And KING KAMEHAMEHA may as well have been KING MAYTHECROSSESBEKIND (and they were).

As sometimes happens in my solve, for quite a while I felt like a Roomba – I’d move ahead a bit, run into a barrier, and have to switch directions. This happened all over the place. The cluing was slippery to me. Thus it took me a while to get my first theme answer. But then, when I did, the others fell quickly and I was suddenly plowing full speed ahead, knocking over anything that was in my way.

Going from tripping to zipping was exhilarating. Thank you for that, Alex, and for that terrific puzzle title which elicited a most satisfying “Hah!” I loved this journey.

Unknown 6:29 AM  

As a chef, the one that stumped me was PECORINO AND PARMESAN. Parmigiano Reggiano, a cheese made from cows milk from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, is in fact a hard cheese. Any parmesan is aged a minimum of one year, (grana Padano at least 9 mo's, parmigiano reggiano 2 years, stratavecchio, 3 years) and are hard. All are grana cheese which refers to "grainy" or crumbly and hard.) In other words, any parm is hard by definition.
Pecorino, on the other hand, a cheese made from sheep's milk (la pecora is the sheep) is by no means always hard. There are pecorino cheeses that are classified as "fresh" meaning they are eaten anywhere from immediately, to a a few months after making. These cheeses can have the consistency of feta or ricotta, and as they mature the consistency becomes more like a gruyere or sometimes even creamier. This is referred to as "semi-stagionato". The hard cheeses of the pecorino variety (which in fact only refers to the milk) are very like the texture of parm and can be aged for just as long as any of the parm varieties. Note: Pecorino Romano, the cheese we are most familiar with in the States, is from the South of Italy. Other pecorino cheeses are typically made by Sardinian sheep farmers who come up to the Central regions of Italy, to find more grazing land. These regions are Umbria (Pienza being the most well known region for pecorino) as well as Tuscany, and Marche.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

Bland and pedestrian. A theme should be something that helps you solve the puzzle, not something you have to hunt for after it's all filled in. Please do not circle over 25% of the squares. There's no reason for that. Ever.

Another Anon 6:56 AM  

Good one!

amyyanni 7:18 AM  

My Natick-ish spot resulted from:
1. Not being an alt- metal fan;
2. Blithely entering ELUDE for EVADE;
3. Wanting soya or corn and not ALGA for a bio-fuel.
4. Not knowing Evan.
Took a few whiles to sort all that out.
Otherwise ok and the theme helped me suss out some answers.

Really enjoyed the Unknown chef post at 6:29 as I used to sell cheese at a Boston gourmet store.

OffTheGrid 7:20 AM  

I usually avoid reading the title but sometimes it jumps out at my eyes when the link opens. With this one it was pretty easy to guess what it meant. I got BAHAMAMAMAMIX first and thought it was pretty neat, 2 letters fourpeating. Then came NOMANISANISLAND. Wait. That's 4 letters twopeating. And of course the remainder were all twopeats of 4 letters. One could say the title means 4 letters repeating but that doesn't explain BAHAMAMAMAMIX. So there is one outlier or seven outliers depending on how you interpret the title. Except for this glaring glitch in the theme, I enjoyed the solve in my usual 1 hour time.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

I am glad that RP is not my English teacher.

I honestly do not know the big difference between last week’s puzzle (which he loved)
and this week’s (which he loathed).

To me, both puzzles were eminently doable, and to a degree boring - because the
themes were easy to decode.

If anything, my complaint is with the NYT because the Sunday puzzles have become so
predictable and similar. And yet, RP’s responses suggest just the opposite.

I hope he is in a good mood when he grades my paper!


GILL I. 7:27 AM  

I'm going to go sit with @Loren in the big girl chair today We may not be the teacher's pet but I give a SPIFF. I had some trouble figuring this FOURPEAT'S but when I was done I noticed the words are kinda cute forward and backwards. That NO MAN IS AN ISLAND does the ANIS ANIS SINA SINA dance. How cool is that? Then go look at WELCOME HOME HON and you get the HEMO HEMO hula hula dance.
My favorite RETRIBUTION is having it cross BIDET and PRONE. You can now go back to hoarding all the toilet paper you want.....
This was fun, Alex "Badges."

Colin 7:32 AM  

I enjoy these puzzles, I always do, and I always appreciate the effort that goes into creating a puzzle (more on that later), but I hafta agree... Fourpeat did not cut the muster here. As pointed out, only one themer was actually four-peated. Still. Rex goes off on "WELCOME HOME, HON", which brought back memories of when I lived in Baltimore.

Finally last night, I tried my hand at constructing a puzzle. Used Keiran King's website to generate a couple of random 15x15 grids, then developed themes and fills myself. This. Is. Hard. My wife is trying the second one now, which I think is already better. But yeah, some of my answers are quite contrived and cringeworthy. With some practice, things will hopefully get better. I think I'll plunk down the $50 for Crossword Compiler has anyone used it?

bocamp 7:46 AM  

Thank you, @Alex; a most enjoyable Sunday puzzle!

Easy; well under av. time. Picked up the theme fairly early on, which certainly facilitated the solve.

Mom worked in the "Kamehameha" school system in '64. She, my sis and I often got together when my ship was in port.

My ship plied the waters between Pearl Harbor and Long Beach (next door to "San Pedro") '62-'65.

"No Man is an Island - Victoria Chorale"

No man is an island
No man stands alone
Each man's joy is joy to me
Each man's grief is my own

We need one another
So I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

I saw the people gather
I heard the music start
The song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart

No man is an island
Way out in the blue
We all look to the one above
For our strength to renew

When I help my brother
Then I know that I
Plant the seed of friendship
That will never die

yd pg -1

Peace and Tolerance 🕊

Adam 8:05 AM  

I appreciate the Metallica 2X4 reference! Takes me right back to freshman year of high school.

Todd 8:05 AM  

I've been a pilot for 38 years. I have never heard the term Airlane. Air route or airway are both common but not airlane.

Mr. Cheese 8:13 AM  

@LMS - correcting papers at 2AM!!!!!
You must take it easy. America needs you!

@Gill - your “bidet” comment will make me smile all day :-)

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Hmmm... maybe if a large group of people who sent a letter to Will Shortz's BOSS, basically accusing him of discrimination against women and minorities has something to do with this recent garbage fest from the NYTXWP?

ChuckD 8:29 AM  

I have no problem with these cute letter gimmick themes - although we have been seeing a lot of them recently and it tends to be cumbersome in a Sunday sized grid. The title here was the best part - a play on a common phrase and specific of the theme. Once I parsed the second one it was all over - the theme allowed filling in the four-sets in the other themers. My wife ADOREs margaritas so I always search out many of the new, bougie mixes. I can attest to Rex that BAHAMA MAMA MIXes are a thing.

The remaining fill here I thought was a little flat. Liked SLAM DANCES and RETRIBUTION but INCOME TAXES and ARMED GUARD not so much. When I hear ALT METAL i think of bands like Faith No More and the Chili Peppers - I guess it’s a wide ranging genre. Did not know BIDET means small horse. LORRE, MTM and ERMA push this back in time slightly.

I’ll take a puzzle like this. It was easy and enjoyable.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

In my 80 years plus of being Italian no one has ever said, "will you see how the roma tomato sauce is doing?"

Brian M 8:39 AM  

An aluminum ingot is what Alcoa ships out of their smelters.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Not seeing the issue with AMAM AMAM, it follows the exact same pattern as the other clues, just happens to also have repeating letters inside the repeating letters. Also not sure what Rex is getting at with ALUMINUM INGOT? Those are quite common in the metalworking and scrap industries

j. 9:01 AM  

Tone-deaf moments in this puzzle:
“Word in the Declaration of Independence but not in the Constitution”

After this week, and all the aftermath coming out in the news, those words and that clue were a little too evocative for me. Surely there’s a puzzle in the queue that they could have run instead.

pabloinnh 9:22 AM  

Well, I dutifully finished this one, because that's what I do on Sundays, but I didn't have too many moments of unmit5igated glee. Happy when it was over, instead of wishing for more, the way you do when you're having a good time.

Thankfully, seeing ALUMINUMINGOT reminded me that it's time to go down to the Monongohela Steel Foundry Store and replace my old worn out and no longer shiny steel ingots with some new ones from said company, which D produces ingots with the housewife in mind. My bride will be delighted, as usual. I may have to pick up some Einbinder Fly Paper while I'm at it.

LMS's German musings (har!) reminded me of Mark Twain's observation that some German words are so long that they have a perspective.

So a couple of nice moments from the puzzle, anyway, for which I am thankful, AR. Didn't even think about politics for a while.

OffTheGrid 9:23 AM  

I noticed those entries as well. Most solvers likely did. I'm assuming the Sunday puzzle is chosen and put into the process several days ahead of time. Does someone know about this?

Z 9:28 AM  

repeating four-letter strings ... yes, that is all:
There are people who like puzzles that revolve letter-play. I ain’t one of them. I mean, I get it, we are pattern-seeking creatures, crossword solvers even more so, and letters form patterns. But I stopped being curious about letter-patterns, oh, I don’t know, about the same time I realized girls were interested in sex, too. There are far more interesting patterns in the world than letter arrangements.

I read Rex’s thing rant and knew people would not get it (because someone questions it every time he thing rants). A thing can be a “thing” without being a “thing.” The best example in the puzzle is ROMA TOMATO SAUCE. A ROMA TOMATO is definitely a thing. TOMATO SAUCE is definitely a thing. But ROMA TOMATO SAUCE is not a thing even though you can hire the lawyer and argue it is a thing. This will matter less to you if you find the duplicated four-letter strings interesting, just a compromise to support the motif. But if you find the motif bland then you don’t want the theme answers to stretch your credulity.

@LMS - re:CAF - It’s that whole Starbucks thang. DeCAF and half CAF are now in the vernacular in a way that CAF is not. I had the same reaction as Rex. Even though there’s nothing specifically “coffee” in the clue, “quick pick me up” is used to reference coffee so that’s where the mind goes and then the answer is a specifically not coffee term.

JD 9:29 AM  

Flew along like Spaceman Spiff (other fans here?).

When I saw the Donne clue and the spaces, was excited to think the answer might be No Mayonnaise In Ireland, followed by things like Pardon Me While I Kiss This Guy ... subsequent hilarity to ensue. And then we have @Frantic's contribution King Kamanawanalea. Too much to ask.

Where Were We? The slogan of the tangentially thinking scatter brain. I say it a lot. Also, now that I work from home, "Where Was I?" Out loud to myself. Ten months and counting.

Thanks @Anon 1:53.

Z 9:31 AM  

@OffTheGrid - I believe @Lewis, @Nancy,, and @LMS can all answer from direct experience, but I believe constructors know a week or more in advance, so publication dates are set at least that far ahead.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

. . . and a good morning to you, my Rexxie HON.

Sioux Falls 9:37 AM  

I worked at a newsstand many years ago. The “advance section” (I.e., all the sections of the NYT that were “lifestyle” arrived on Friday. The news sections arrived on Saturday evening and Sunday. Don’t know when the magazine section (on different paper stock) is printed, probably much earlier in the week. I remember when the puzzle used to be in the Book Review which is definitely earlier in the week. So as much as I hate those riot and violence related clues in the puzzle, by Wednesday night or Thursday morning, it probably was too late to pull the puzzle.

So many people would come to the newsstand and plunk down $3 (this was in the 90s) and just buy the advance section. Then on Sunday they would show up with their receipt and get the news sections. Don’t know if the NYT would have approved of this, but that’s the way we did it.

JOHN X 9:40 AM  

I thought this was a very nice puzzle. I just solve them, folks; I don't judge them.

Here's a certified JOHN X sea story that you can't hear anywhere else. Not a book, not a library, not the internet. You can only hear it from me (and maybe a couple of other guys).

The USS Kamehameha was different submarine in our squadron that had once an "incident" that happened sometime before I reported aboard my boat. This is how they told me the story:

Now, when a nuclear submarine surfaces, it "drives" to the surface using the power of the main engines (I was an engineer and we had serious power on our main shaft). Think of it as "flying" to the surface like an airplane; doctrine then required the boat to maintain a "Full" bell and keep the stern planes locked at a ten-degree up angle. This would hydro-dynamically keep the boat surfaced, even though it was still very heavy.

Meanwhile, another device called "the low-pressure blower," a roots-type positive-displacement air pump, similar to the supercharger on our emergency diesel (which I'm sure you're all familiar with) would be started to blow the 2000 tons of water out of the main ballast tanks so that the boat could float normally. The boat would run for about an hour in this configuration until the water in the ballast tanks was replaced by air and it could slow down.

Oh, and also, when the sub surfaces, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) and a lookout move their watch stations up to the bridge cockpit on top of the sail.

So . . . the USS Kamehameha once surfaced and did everything above, except they screwed up their ventilation alignment and no air was being blown into the main ballast tanks, so it remained 2000 tons too heavy. After an hour the OOD orders a slower bell, and the Kamehameha begins to submerge, with the OOD and a lookout up on top of the sail.

There were different versions of what happened next. Did they emergency blow? Did they go back to a full bell? Were the OOD and the look-out clinging to the raised periscopes? I dunno, maybe all three.

Anyways, that's what they told me.

pmdm 9:43 AM  

Today's theme seemed a bit thin to me today. While I figured it out quite quiclly, which helped a lot with the theme entries, the PPP still did me in.

There are two possibilities I think about. Shortz has made it known that certain types of themes will not be published, including some I would prefer over this type of theme. To that extent, he's to blame. But I'm not convinced that would force constructors to come up with the type of puzzles published today. Since I am not privy to the universe of puzzle submissions he receives, I guess I assume he accepts the best of the lot (with little consideration of sexual preference or gender). Maybe if constructors banished certain types of entries from their word lists, and maybe if themeless puzzles were allowed on every day of the week (and more frequently invaded the Sunday slot), we would be treated to puzzles of higher quality.

Teedmn 9:45 AM  

AMONRA? C'AMON! That doesn't seem fair. AMeNRA is commonly seen and I thought the argument was between that and AMuNRA. Anyway, DNF there today, hmmph.

Interesting that R[OMAT][OMAT]O SAUCE could also be RO[MATO][MATO] SAUCE.

There's something fun about saying KING KAMEHAMEHA. BAHAMA MAMA comes close but doesn't have the same oomph. I think that's because the first syllable isn't stressed so it loses a bit of impact for me.

This was relatively easy and RETRIBUTION SLAM DANCES are fun. The clue for ANDERSEN had me flummoxed until 7/8ths of it was filled in.

Thanks, Alex Bajcz.

@amyyanni, I ADORE Alice In Chains and I was wondering what genre exactly they fell into, besides metal.

SouthsideJohnny 9:47 AM  

I got about halfway through it before I realized that the puzzle requires specialized knowledge to complete - which is always very discouraging (you need to either be a student of the Harlem Renaissance or familiar with the work of Karel Capek to get to the U in ARTURO crossing RUR - absent one of 26 guesses of course) - so that rapidly deflated any enthusiasm I had left after I realized that the theme was so convoluted that once again I would need to have OFL explain it to me. As it turns out, he is just as dumbfounded as I am - there is, for all intents and purposes, no theme today.

ALUMINUM INGOT is a classic NYT entry that is completely contrived and groan-inducing and the whole ICED sprains/CAF/Hawaiian King mini-section was just a mess to work through as well.

Rex is spot-on in his assessment today - a Triple-A puzzle was given a major league start and took the collar today.

ArtO 9:58 AM  

Poor Rex, guess his wife never greeted him with "WELCOMEHOMEHON" after a hard day's work. Such a curmudgeon.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

It's really hard to imagine a more dreary theme than this. Repetition is not exactly the soul of wit. Plus the theme doesn't elicit the necessity of the solver ever having to do any thinking. Which all might be forgivable if said theme led to interesting and colorful fill. But when it produces such horrors as BAHAMA MAMA MIX and ALUMINUM INGOT -- good grief!

The only plus? I learned what a BIDET means linguistically. I suppose that's something.

Richard 10:00 AM  

I don't know squat about BIDETs.

Mickey Bell 10:04 AM  

My gripes are in line almost exactly with Rex’s. Gah

Guest 10:05 AM  

King in Kingkamehameha was also outside the four-peat. And it was a cheat, since the repetition was built in as with many Polynesian nouns. As would have been "Mahimahidinner" or "BoraBoraIsland," etc.

Unknown 10:06 AM  

At the nearby Aluminum foundry the blocks of newly smelted aluminum are called "pigs" and "sows".

Hambone 10:24 AM  

Finished super fast (17:00) and then hunted six whole additional minutes to find AMONRA vs AMENRA. Crossing the second vowel with a relatively obscure architecture term? Booo

Joaquin 10:30 AM  

@Richard (10:00 a.m.) - FTW!

RooMonster 10:31 AM  

Hey All !
Well, call me a simpleton, but I liked the four-letter-repeating thing. So there. :-) I thought it was a clever come-up-with. Beside, it's just a crossword puz...

I do object to AMONRA, though. Bah! to that O! Gave me SeLE, which is one of those don't-know-but-what-else-can-it-be? words. You run into those sometimes, words you don't know, but are there. Also, one other wrong letter, vERVE. Even though TEv made no sense. I actually don't get how TEN works for the clue. Is it referring to your SSN? So got a two-letter/four word DNF. Phooey.

TERRIF, although containing an F, can take a leap off a short plank. SPIFF was spiffy. Nice to see long lost friends Cheri OTERI and RUR. Now we need OMOO to come back!

Who knew four First names in flying history were six letters? Orville, Wilbur, Amelia, Howard. Dang.

Now gonna finish my Full-CAF coffee, and fiddle with that SB some more. I'm getting to that sixth step that I forget (naturally) who mentioned it.

Four F's

Hale 10:35 AM  

I guess if you go by wikipedia Alice in Chains gets lumped in with alt metal, but really? Its a stretch for a band that is so synonymous with Grunge. Would Faith No More have been too niche a band choice?

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Honestly, I usually think Rex is a bit too hard on some of these puzzles, but today I don't think he let loose enough fury. This was just drivel. Firstly, "four peat" indicates something would be repeated four times. Only one of the themed answers pull that off. I kept looking for a reason to switch some letters to make it four-peat, but that screwed up all the crosses.
Then I noticed that the if you move the last letter of the circled part of "BAHAMA MAMA MIX" to the front, you get "mama mama". If you do the same with "PRIME TIME TV" you get "time time". AHA! thought I, this is where the theme is going, "four-peat" be damned. But then you get "hame hame" for that Hawaiian king answer and it all fell apart. Then I went back to BAHAMA MAMA MIX and used that actual four-peat as an anchor to try to force a similar four-peat into the other themers, which of course didn't work.
Beyond the theme stupidity, we've got a Natick on the west side where proper name OTERI (barely remember her, even after seeing it) crossing ARTURO (never heard of him) crossing RUR (which I still don't get). In fact, that RUR was what kept me from assuming ARTURO because RUR made no sense whatsoever to me. Still doesn't. I see from Rex's writeup that it's an abbreviation of some kind? R.U.R.? Why is this not tipped off in the clue, then?
RIOT shield made me literally yell "WTF? Are you kidding me right now?" To follow that answer with a clue about "At Wit's End" didn't help.
My husband is a huge ancient Egypt lover and has every book known to man on the subject. Even he balked at AMON RA. He's seen it spelled that way, but he hates it.
OREG is not anyone's legit abbrev for Oregon. You can have OR, you can have ORE, but nobody ever uses OREG. That's short for an herb, not a state. Do you ever see "TEXA" or "WYOM"? No? Stop it.
Even though I should know better, I really look forward to the Sunday puzzle every week.
I'm used to being disappointed. It's rare that one is so bad that it makes me angry or puts me in a foul mood right at the start of the day.
This one did.

Azzurro 10:48 AM  

Why? What is the point of this theme?

After struggling to find my one error (eventually realized that I had HUNG/HANG crossing King Natick of Hawaii), I stared at this for a bit thinking there must be some clever meta hidden in these letter strings. Nope. Over at XW Info, the constructor explains that these are just random letter patterns spit out by a database.

I get that these programs allow constructors to build puzzles much faster, but this is starting to feel like abuse of instant replay in baseball, where managers look for basestealers who come off the bag for an instant after beating the tag. I thought these tools were there to help fill tricky areas, not build puzzles around gibberish phrases that no human would say.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

What’s EGOT ?

JD 10:53 AM  

@Z, The 'Thing" thing problem is exacerbated by Google and what it looks for in finding "things."

In my work, when I edit content, a goal is to have Google find it and rank it somewhere near the top of the resulting string.

So if I were a recipe blogger and had a sauce recipe featuring Roma Tomatoes, Google would find it most easily as Roma Tomato Sauce, more easily than if I just listed that ingredient or even called it Sauce With Roma Tomatoes.
Google's search engine optimization (SEO) suggestions tend to bastardize "good writing" style. There's a lot more to it than this but not worth anyone's time.

In any case, someone here will inevitably say, "It's a thing, Google it." Finding it on Google doesn't necessarily make it a Thing. It can just be making someone's content findable.

JBH 11:01 AM  

Initially had CAB for 80D ‘Quick pick-me-up?’ Possibly my NYC bias!

Prof. Pooley 11:05 AM  

"Bahama Mama Mix" should be criminalized. A drink mix is a combination of all the non-alcoholic elements of a cocktail. The bartender adds the alcoholic components, ice and garnish. That's it.

As far as I can see, there exist Bahama Mama cocktail kits; pre-mixed Bahama Mama cocktails (which include the rum); Bahama Mama slushie mix; Bahama Mama sparkling water; and Bahama Mama Cocktail in a Can.

There is no such thing as "Bahama Mama Mix".

albatross shell 11:08 AM  

The theme repeats are all vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant. And all 5 vowels get to play.

The theme was a huge help to me and crucial for the KING'S name. I saw the theme after NOMANISANISLAND and WELCOMEHOMEHON. And Jeez Rex, "dear" at the end of the clue, and you put in sON instead of HON? After that I was looking for answers with repeating letters, and every cross in a shaded area gives you a second crossing letter. And this made the puzzle fun. So did the silliness of BAHAMAMAMAMIX and the ridiculously precise ROMATOMATOSAUCE. Somebody must have homegrown them. Of course they are the sauce tomato..

I did enjoy your cheese lecture, but I do not quite understand why the clue stumped you. You seem to be saying that both are hard cheeses since the Romano is the most common one in the USA. So some can be soft or crumbly, but the most common is hard. This is a Sunday and not a Saturday.

Why the hate for INGOTS? I'm seen pictures of ALUMINUM ones many times. They are a thing. At least they looked like what one would call INGOTS. Yes, Google references galore including specification standards for such ingots. Case closed.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Re: Rex's RELOAD raspberry, the circular arrow is pretty much the universal symbol on a modern web browser's Graphical User Interface (GUI) to reload the current page you're viewing.

I'm fairly certain he's used it on a daily basis, and apparently he's never noticed.

Bradley Horowitz 11:14 AM  

Makes Bob boB :-)

Big Red 11:16 AM  

@anon 10:43 summed this one up nicely - Rex could have assigned one of his comic book classes to collaborate to make a crossword together (knowing full well that a Camel is a horse that was created by a committee) and if they produced this he would grade them a C-plus at best. Then he would point out that the theme is not a theme, and that it put so much strain on their grid that they had to torture themselves to come up with/settle for entries like ALUMINUM INGET, King yabadabadoo and BAHAMA MAMA MIX. Additionally, he would chastise them for giving up on creating good fill and just settling for garbage like EMS, CAF, RUR and TERRIF. So Shortz and Company can’t even compete with a college class of amateurs, lol.

Birchbark 11:17 AM  

WHERE WERE WE ERE WE WERE WHERE WE saw Elba? Able WE WERE, true, but WHERE? Under the haystack, fast asleep, dreaming of baboons and pecorinos.

Pecorino grated on ROMA TOMATO SAUCE, the stuff of which dreams are made. But ROMA TOMATO SAUCE must be a real thing, otherwise how could you put cheese on it? The nay-sayers' flawed hyperbole tumbles to the floor like a sneezed-upon meatball. And their you-can-hire-a-lawyer retreat strategy is but a tired rhetorical feint.

I sing of aged pecorino, to be sure, and well-met @Unknown (6:29).

Tom R 11:17 AM  

Terrible. Hated it, hated the stupid forced theme. I had something very impolite to say when if filled in 43D - worst of the worst. Usually I think Rex is too hard on a puzzle, but not this time.

Hungry Mother 11:21 AM  

Kinda sloggish with way too many names, as usual. No joy in all of those names. I guess a famous Costa Rican should be known by all of us, so I have to atone somehow. Torn between making my usual contribution to Rex and just quitting on NYT crosswords due to too much trivia.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

@Hambone 10:24 - The "relatively obscure architecture term" is the sole of the foot, which is at the base of the arch of the foot. The misdirect got me for a minute too.

albatross shell 11:30 AM  

@anonymous 1113am
Yes. I use it all the time reading these blog comments. Proof that he doesn’t read them? OTOH, I was briefly stymied because "refresh" didn’t fit. Does it have 2 names or do I just use the wrong one?

Sixthstone 11:35 AM  

This definitely should have been published in 2020, so we could all agree to forget it ever happened.

Agree with all the complaints: boring theme including lots of things that aren't things, AMEN/AMUN/AMON-RA mess, the ridiculous "[capital] Don nod" clue, bad abbreviations (OREG, CAF), etc. Finished quickly but then spent about 8 minutes trying to suss out the vowel in AMON-RA. Sucked every potential ounce of enjoyment out of this.

Credit where credit is due: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND is the only themer of real interest. 5 unrelated words that give you the repeated 4 letters as opposed to others that rhyme, rely of proper names, or are just lame.

Newboy 11:40 AM  

Sunday, sad Sunday! At least I learned Mendoza.

Lewis 11:43 AM  

@offthegrid -- Constructors get to see the final version of the puzzle about a week before its published. From what I understand, a few months ago, constructors began to be able to give feedback on the editors' changes, and I don't know if that means the the advance view is now longer.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

@albatross shell: Some browsers do indeed call it Refresh (MS Edge being one). Google Chrome calls it Reload.

Frantic Sloth 11:51 AM  

@LMS 255am Well, you can't just leave us hanging (hung?) with that "pocket rocket poker term" teaser and vanish into adulthood like that!

As for your message to Rex about his vitriol and its potential devastating effects...
Your words, beautifully presented (as usual) strike a nerve. It truly saddens me that anyone who has the brilliant talent to even create a crossword puzzle would be left with such a feeling. (Personally, I've often thought of publishing a kind of fine print disclaimer with every review stipulating that whatever I say is just idiotic nonsense and in no way is meant to insult, demean, or otherwise attack the constructor or their vastly superior intellect.) People like me are a dime a dozen. Crossword constructors reside in rarified air and, to my mind, can just let our blather do the duck-back water run. But it is an error of mammoth proportions to ignore the fact that they are human beings with real feelings, who do this for the love of it and the entertainment for all of us.
Obviously, I can't speak for Rex, but I'd like to hope that he would be equally devastated to know that something he does for all the right reasons would result in all the wrong aftereffects. I want to thank you for reminding us that what we say and do has consequences - and oftentimes not the ones that we might imagine.

Shakiejr 11:51 AM  

Do you all realize that no one really cares about any of your comments? Just Rex!!

thefogman 11:57 AM  

I know I am in a minority here but I liked this one. I found the theme clever and fun to solve and the difficulty level was just right. Knowing KINGKAMEHAMEHA and not being aware of the variants for AMONRA probably helped.

Swagomatic 12:04 PM  

When I finished, I just could not believe that was all there was. I was sure that there was something I just was not getting. But no, the theme was a series of four letters repeating.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

sorry OFL, but every metal is derived from ore, well except those few like gold and some silver which exist as elements, and is first processed into INGOT form for shipping to users.

you betcha it is. if not you're Bogarting that joint, and you'll pay the price.

true, but if you're trying to be Real Italian, you only use ROMA, not beefsteak or cherry or grape or heirloom.

Surely there’s a puzzle in the queue that they could have run instead.

agree, but the Mag is printed well in advance, perhaps more than a week. anyone know, exactly?

egsforbreakfast 12:14 PM  

Like someone earlier, I had paNTS before TENTS for 124A (Things that can be closed with a zip). This brought to mind a take on 13D (Red morning sky, to sailors). On a raucous sail through the BVIs to celebrate business school graduation with 6 buddies, one found himself to have actually peed his pants during the night. From then on, the phrase became “Wet pants at morning, sailors take warning....”

I’m more in the @LMS camp on this one. Finding 4 letter repeats in 8 different phrases that are at least somewhat useable is a prodigious insight, so I tip my hat to Alex Bajcz. Having the actual squares greyed out made it all a bit too easy, since every time you got a grey square, you really got two. But still a lot of fun.

Wonder if there is a Sex on the Beach mix, and whether it would go well with Fuzzy Navel mix?

sixtyni yogini 12:16 PM  

Bad week. Agree, Not a good puzzle, agree.
Have grown to truly dislike Sunday 🧩. Still do ‘em.
Well,shakiejr, ‘tis Rex’s blog, therefore not surprising he would care.
-No one-cares? Some don’t and some do, it seems.
AGREE to a deGREE to disAGREE!
Cheers all!

Michael Page 12:19 PM  

EGOT is Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony, a very rare entertainment grand slam.

Rex, whatever browser you use, look at the address bar at the top. Chrome, just to the left of the address; Safari, just to the right.

Carola 12:26 PM  

I agree with everybody - I thought the theme was clever and amusing but also that it suffered under some strain and eventually ran out of sparkle with the THUDDING sound of the ALUMINUM INGOT. So the solve was a mix of delight ("Oh, boy, what will be next?") and exhaustion ("Thank god I'm almost to the bottom").

@Colin 7:32 - I also have very fond memories of the Baltimore "HON" from a 3-year sojourn there in the 1970's. Fun to read your comment and remember the days when I was a "hon" to store clerks and coffee shop waitresses.

mathgent 12:29 PM  

I don't do the Sunday unless Nancy tells me it's worth doing. That didn't happen today. Some good stuff on the blog, though. Lewis saying that he felt like a Roomba while solving. @unknown (6:22) giving information about Italian cheeses.

Z 12:32 PM  

@Whoever said this theme was as good as last week’s - A Quick Explication
**WARNING: Spoilers of the 1/3/2021 Puzzle**
Busta Move, a dance term, is reinterpreted literally to bust a dance, a dance step being a move, into two parts. These “dances” are found “busted” inside the longer theme answers. So that’s word play level 1 (and a not uncommon puzzle device). The dances are busted into two by a single letter, so there is that visual that aligns with how things are frequently busted, the person left holding two busted pieces in their hands. That, by itself is pretty good. But the letters that bust the dances form a phrase that also works on two levels. First, it is a phrase related to dancing, but it also a description of what the letters in the phrase are doing to the dances, they are cutting in.
Multiple levels of word play versus repeating four-letter strings. I understand people might like today’s puzzle, that’s a matter of taste. But if you think last week was no better than this week I wonder why you even bother reading Rex or any other crossword blog, we’re clearly discussing things you have no interest in.

@SouthsideJohnny - RUR caused you problems? Play. Robots. Appears about 3 times a month. File it because it will be in a puzzle near you soon.

@JD - Yep. Personal confession, I find that knowing what SEO is kind of embarrassing. There’s no good reason for me to know it, but there it is stuck in my brain taking up space that could be used for something else. I have a friend (from playing ultimate of course) who majored in French in college and finds herself doing SEO for the French version of her start-up’s website (well, not “her” start-up,”the start-up she works for). Not exactly what she envisioned but it pays the bills. The funny thing is I learned the term from reading Rex and wondering about those tags at the top of the page. How Rex got to be Rex was a form of SEO, tagging his blog with answers that were going to cause google searches. I know that’s how I found Rex back when I was a noob. These days there are lots of crossword answer sites that are usually the top hits, but back when I started Rex was reliably a top hit for most crossword mysteries. I would say that having cheater sites as top hits is a sign of non-thingness, or at least non-crossworthiness.

@LMS and @Frantic Sloth - Hmm - How should one respond to criticism? Quitting is one option, I guess. Maybe it’s my innate cynicism or testosterone poisoning, but if that’s someone choice I am just going to assume it was a good decision on their part.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

@Shakiejr seems to have arrived on this blog yesterday and if those are his sentiments, I doubt he'll want to HANG around for long.

Mike Hogan 12:37 PM  

Took me TWELVE minutes to figure out that HUNG needed to be HANG. Whyyyyy didn't I major in Hawaiian History?!

Frantic Sloth 12:46 PM  

@JD 929am Spaceman Spiff? Yep! LOL! at "No Mayonnaise In Ireland" and the whole "Where Were We?" paragraph. It's contagious. Both of us have been known to get up from a chair to get/do something and halfway there, stop and ask "what was I doing?"

@Birchbark 1117am 🤣🤣🤣

@Shakiejr 1151am Yes, but that doesn't explain why you're here commenting. 🤔

@egsforbreakfast 1214pm 🤣🤣🤣

Oh, dear God! @Anonymous 1050am Whyyyy?? 🤣🤣

@Z 1232pm I think the point was less about criticism and more about delivery. I'm able to see through Rex's "nastiness" as hyperbolic entertainment, but were I a constructor reading the same words? Maybe not so easy to do.

TJS 12:51 PM  

@Birchbark, Loved your contribution today.

Didn't Rex just say that he refuses to read the Title/ Hint section before he solves. Maybe I imagined it.

@LMS, re. your comments about Rex' disparagement of constructors' efforts and its effect on them, I would, at the risk of repeating myself, just refer them to the 6/21/13 puzzle by a certain Michael Sharp, if they have access to the archive, and then consider the source before being discouraged by his criticism.

As to the puzzle today, I had an interesting experience. Since the Sat. and Sun. curfew here in the D.R. begins at Noon, I had to interrupt my solve about half way through the puzzle to stock up on Presidentes before watching three playoff games this afternoon. Finished the second half of the puzz when I returned. I think that may be why I didn't get that "Just get this thing over with" feeling I usually have on Sundays lately. I may adopt this strategy for future Sundays.

Unknown 12:58 PM  

Why would I donate any money to a wanton depraved misandrist?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

for those who want an entertainment version (there may well be others) of 'No Man Is An Island':

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

No self-respecting tiki bar would have a Bahama Mama on their menu. Just sayin'.

On that note, a Mai Tai sounds quite delicious.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

No one should ever make tomato sauce with anything but San Marzano tomatoes.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Thank you for this. I somehow had myself convinced an organized crime boss would nod when you agreed with him. Right answer; bad reasoning on my part.

rushscott 1:15 PM  

I know Rex was being sarcastic on the EMS clue, but I still have not the FOGGIEST clue about that clue - and I have a biology degree.

Amun-Amun-Amon Ra 1:25 PM  

Where to start, where to start. The only thing I didn’t like about this puzzle was AMONRA. I tend to think it should be the E or U route for the Egyptian king, BUT after I realized it was O I also realized that I was a total idiot on SOLE. For the rest I what if Bahama Mamas are a “second rate” drink...we’ve all heard of them, and there are mixes for almost any drink that is sweet and tropical. As for aluminum do you think companies like Alcoa make foil, or aluminum cans are made? They start out with ingots...good grief. Roma tomato sauce? Roma tomatoes are a type of grape tomato and most tomato sauces are made from them. If you want a really good sauce you use San Marzano tomatoes which are a Roma variant. C’mon guys.
Count me in as someone who found this puzzle delightful.

JC66 1:29 PM  

Hey @Roo

Think bowling's TEN pin.

@albatross shell

Thanks for pointing out that all 5 vowels get to play.

But, might not a mother greet her long absent male offspring "WELCOME HOME SON"

(Obviously, I initially made the same mistake @Rex did.). ;-)


@Rex doesn't read NOTES. He does read titles.

GILL I. 1:32 PM  

@Z 9:28..."But ROMA TOMATO SAUCE is not a thing even though you can hire the lawyer and argue it is a thing." Well...I cry wrongy dongy. I don't know much about lawyers other than I dated one exactly one time. I met him in a bar in San Francisco because that's where lawyers always went. He was cute and that was about it. Anyway...he invited me out to dinner. He told me to dress up because he was taking me to Sam's Grill & Seafood and everyone knows that's a fancy place. He picked me up in his shiny BMW, greets the waiters as if he's known them every single night of his life, and proceeds to tell me to order anything I want. I asked for the Rex Sole. He orders lobster and a bunch of side dishes and a bottle of expensive wine. The bill comes and he does the "Oh dang, I forgot my wallet" dance..... So I'll skip the lawyering.... BUT, BUT....ROMA TOMATO SAUCE is a real thing. Just ask "The Brooklyn Farm Girl." She'll give you a recipe that'll knock the pecorino off your socks.
Some things you just never forget. I won't ever forget that cheap lawyer bastard and I will always remember the ROMA TOMATO SAUCE I made from scratch.

Oldactor 1:34 PM  

@Nancy: from yesterday: It may well have been Gerri Whittington, thank you. I didn't know where to look her up. Sadly, Rip is no longer with us. I'm about to turn 89 so my memory is.......where were we?

Oldactor 1:36 PM  

@Z from yesterday: Yes it could have been all over her shoes!

albatross shell 2:00 PM  

I did have two button mis-fires. First thinking Refresh instead of RELOAD.
Next I tried pushing the RETRo-BUTtON to go back in time and dish out some payback, but a SKIer singing ARIAS blocked my path.

bocamp 2:11 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 11:51 AM

Amen to all you say! (notwithstanding the self-deprecation, of course 😉) We know that all you say is not "just idiotic nonsense", nor are people like you "a dime a dozen". God bless you and @LMS for your hearts of gold. 🥇

Peace, Tolerance and Thoughtful words 🕊

RooMonster 2:20 PM  

Ah. Thanks for that. I was beginning to wonder if anyone read my post!

Rex is funny in his "So ofyen writing the blog feels a bit like shouting into the void". I remember (well, not really, a bit before my blogging here) when he actively read and participated in these comments. I guess there's too many now, hence his Moderators. But feel free to poke your head in now and again, Rex!

RooMonster Kumbaya Guy

SFR 2:30 PM  

Makes Wes sew

Anoa Bob 2:33 PM  

Colin @7:32, I've been using the Crossword Compiler (CC) for years and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try their hand at constructing. It has been regularly updated and improved over the years. I think I started out with the CC number 1 or 2 version and it is now up to CC 10 or maybe higher.

You can choose whatever size grid you want to work with and then either create your own black square pattern or select one from a library of grids on the CC.

It comes with an extensive word list and allows importing other word lists, e.g., Jeff Chen's word list that he offers for a very low $ on his site.

I think it is the go-to program for most constructors and editors, although for some reason the NYT crossword editor doesn't use it and doesn't accept CC format puzzle submissions via email, at least from hoi polloi constructors like me.

N.B.: The CC makes no distinction between the base word or phrase and the pluralized version, aka plural of convenience POC. So if you aren't mindful of this, your grid could become a real S fest. Even your ZEN MONK might wind up using a variety of OMS (9D).

Unknown 2:34 PM  

Paper umbrella hit perfectly but was quickly proven wrong with crosses. I kinda liked that...

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

@rushscott. Rex explains EMS. That's all it is.

@JC66. The number of pins in bowling is TEN.

albatross shell 3:09 PM  

Hung v. Hang

Hung is the past tense of hang when hang is referring to anything except the execution of a person by means of a rope or rope-like device around the neck. In the latter case the past tense is hanged. I added some lawyerly words there just to hint at the truly grisly decisions a strict grammarian might have to make to parse this in all possible cases. "Undecided" might seem to make it hung, but I would think "be" makes it present tense. Ergo, HANG is correct and no guesswork needed.

Surprised nobody quoted Zappa. To paraphrase: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, he's prickula.

JC66 3:15 PM  

@Anon 2:43

That works, too.

old timer 3:18 PM  

Everyone knows the base of an arch is a "sele". Or might well be. ATON RA is wholly idiotic. We all learned in Western Civ it is ATeN RA. Or, per Wiki these days, ATuN RA.

OFL speaks for me today. The puzzle was a boring slog, and that answer at least was wrong, wrong, WRONG!

In other news, I got the Double or Nothing, with a little work, but remain stymied by Split Decisions. Way up in the NW corner.

As usual, I expect to postpone the Spelling Bee until later in the week.

Barbara S. 3:28 PM  

What's all the HUBBUBB, BUB?**

I'm on the fringes of the @LMS camp, but I did find parts of this puzzle tedious and other parts impossible, hence a DNF. Yes, after all my intolerable boasting of the last several days, I came THUDDING back to earth today. I had problems on the west coast in the area that others have mentioned: southern OREG and northern CALI. I never fathomed the interlace of WHEREWEREWE, ARTURO, RUR and OTERI. You tell me that RUR is crosswordese but it seems strangely unfamiliar. I've looked it up and now know that it stands for "Rossum's Universal Robots," AND that Capek invented the term "robot." Maybe that will help it stick.

But I was gobsmacked in an @LMeSque sort of way by the realization that NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, a quotation we've all known forever, contains that quartet of immediately repeated letters. How have I never noticed that before? I also liked WHERE WERE WE (not that that helped me to get it) and WELCOME HOME, HON. The rest I found not so charming. And there were places that felt like a slog, particularly in the bottom third.

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, except...

** Misspelling of Convenience (MOC)

TTrimble 3:29 PM  

@Colin 7:32 AM
Yes, I had Crossword Compiler on one of my computers at some point in time, and I liked it well enough. I couldn't review it like an insider here could, but it seemed flexible and easy to use. You can create your own grid from scratch, or you can ask the program to give you a grid (or you can ask for a completed puzzle sans clues). I'm thinking about buying it again (I'm not sure if I can claim from the company another copy for my new computer; it's been ages since I had the old one).

@Frantic Sloth acts if she could never create a crossword herself. I think she should try! C'mon, FS, it's fun. I'd love to see how you'd clue.

I did not find today's puzzle enjoyable. AMON RA, yeah, that danged O. And I have to say I got a chuckle from Rex over this whole HON business. It is sort of 50's-sounding in its timbre. My own particular association is that wifey makes hubby a yellow cake with frosting from a Duncan Hines box, and he goes, "Mmm! Good, HON!" I envision him having Brylcreem in his hair.

Let's see, what else. TERRIF is not exactly autological, now, is it. And ALT-METAL? Ugh, jeez, if you say so (?). Alice in Chains was one of the very best popular bands to come out of the Grunge era, in my humble opinion, and somehow ALT-METAL is such a generic-sounding descriptor that describes nothing precise at all. Something Casey Kasem might reach for just for the sake of convenience, supposing he ever covered their music in his lineup. "Alice in Chains genre" makes the answer almost a desecration to me.

BAHAMA MAMA MIX. I leave it to other more knowledgeable mixologists here to discuss the merits of that, but does anyone remember the "Real People" Chevy commercial from the last few years, where a dude with a man-bun wearing a yellow sweater comments, "She's a bad Mamma Jamma" and everyone around him laughs appreciatively at his clever mot? Oh dude, you're such a dude! You are so frickin' hip!

(You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you? Well, I'd like to help you out, but everywhere I look the video's been taken down. But maybe you can get a sense of it here. Excerpt: "I know it’s just a commercial, but it’s still terrible, and I just can’t bring myself to believe Chevy sells cars with this shit. Your situation would have to be such that you were nothing more than a voice coming out of a discarded Arby’s bag before you looked at Bad Mamma Jamma guy and thought “fuck yeah, I want to be more like that.” ")

pabloinnh 4:11 PM  

@albatross shell

Nice discussion of hung and hang. I always like to point out that there's a difference between the plastic surgeon who hanged himself and the plastic surgeon who hung himself.

jberg 4:14 PM  

Years ago, I got a fellowship to spend a month at Australian National University in Canberra. One of the best decisions I ever made was to book flights with a 3-day stopover, coming and going, in Honolulu. First, we felt a lot better when we reached our final destination; and Hawaii was wonderful. We spent a lot of time on the beach at Waikiki, but had time to do other things, as well. Anyway, as a result I learned the name of KING KAMEHAMEHA. I actually had said name switched around in my mind to that of the sufer, Duke Hananamoku, but that didn't slow me down much.

Anyway, the thing about this theme, and the use of shaded squares, was that once you got one letter in the shaded part you could put it in twice, making the puzzle a LOT easier.

I knew ANDERSEN was from Denmark, and that Danish surnames ended in SEN, while Norwegian ones end in son. Nevertheless, I wrote in ANDERSoN, confident that I was correct.

@Rex often argues that weekday NYT puzzles should have titles rather than revealers, as most other puzzles do--so I think he probably reads them.

Mostly I'm with @Loren, the theme was fun, and ALUMINUM INGOTs are definitely . And I just realized that I'd been reading HUED as a past-tense verb, and thought it horrible, when actually it's a participle. So my apologies, puzzle.

@rushscott -- Rex is certainly sarcastic, but his explanation is straighforward -- that's really what the clue means, plural spelling of the letter m.

Wow 4:28 PM  

You people are WAY too sensitive. Bad Mamma Jamma is just an innocent phrase. You sensitives are the problem with this country.

Paul & Kathy 4:45 PM  

One of the fastest Sundays I've ever had. The theme gave me a lot of free letters that made the solving quicker.

None of the cluing surprised me or threw me off. I guess we don't all know the same things.

ChuckD 4:51 PM  

@jberg - I love Waikiki and think of it fondly especially during these cold, dark months in the northeast. If you’re ever in NY - there’s a wonderful statue of ANDERSEN in Central Park on the east side of the Lake. They have readings and kids are encouraged to climb all over him - highly recommended.

Graham 4:55 PM  

AMON-RA would have been fine with a gimme clue on the cross. That’s what you do when you’re constructing — if you have an obscure term that can be transliterated variously (AMuN-RA seems to be preferred, but whatever — the point is there are variants) then you have to make the cross more reasonable. SOLE can be clued so many different ways!

Constructors should increase their difficulty with cleverness, not with trivia.

TTrimble 5:14 PM  

That has to be one of the stupidest comments I've ever seen on this blog. You either know what was funny about that commercial, or you don't. And you don't. Sorry about that, HON -- can't help you. Go ahead and have a good cry over "the sensitives" (the irony of your being so easily triggered).

Georgia 5:15 PM  

"Ems" is the plural of the letter M. The word mammal has an M at its "head" and 2 M's in its middle (heart.) It's just about how the word mammal is spelled.

Georgia 5:19 PM  

That. And right wing idiots storming the Capitol in a decidedly unpatriotic act of violence.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

That's it. Finally we know the problem.

albatross shell 5:40 PM  

Well, yeah, if you want to be concise clever and funny your explanation is great, but just check how my explanation is much more lengthy boring and pedantic.

pabloinnh 7:16 PM  

@albatross shell-

Point taken, and well played.

Also, I'm still looking for other fans of Monongahela Steel Foundry ingots.

A 7:37 PM  

Happy Everyone had a different opinion Day!

Put me slightly left of center on this one - it had some awkward places (OREG!) but was certainly above the Mendoza line for a Sunday. Didn’t know Mendoza line - makes me feel sorry for him.

About the effects of reviews on constructors’ (or actors’ or musicians’ or theoretical mathematicians’) feelings: creative acts bring risks. One that is avoidable is putting too much stock in others’ opinions. Were I a puzzle constructor (rather than an ADORing REX fan), I would SHUN Rex Parker, because the blog seems to be more for the entertainment of himself and his readers, not to provide serious critique. Perhaps he does that elsewhere as Michael Sharp?

That said, hey Rex, as you say, “karmically things have to even out eventually.” WELCOME HOME, HeNs? Much as I get a kick out of some of your bellyaching, don’t sacrifice yourself on my account. Above all, don’t anger the Muse.

WHERE WERE WE? Oh - the theme! Well, upon seeing Fourpeat I thought, four letters repeated? Let’s see….yep, eight shaded squares. Well, if that’s the trick it’s a bit obvious, but it’s a little horse gift I’m not going to look in the mouth. Sorry, the @LMS pocket rocket poker teaser made me think that was ok, even tho’ I don’t have the appropriate CRED.

Yesterday was the 131st birthday of Karel Capek, Czech writer and playwright, best remembered for his play R.U.R., which contained the first use of the word "robot."

Appreciated all y’all today, including:

“The theme repeats are all vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant. And all 5 vowels get to play.” Wow, I love the open-minded clarity of observation that @albatross shell delivers so consistently! To recognize BMMmix as silliness and RTSauce as ridiculously specific, rather than forced, is not giving the constructor a pass. It’s appreciating that these are legitimate forms of humor.

Love the professor story, @LMS! Mach mal ‘nen Punkt. Would make a great New Year’s resolution for me. Next year.

@Birchbark LOL! We now have the definition: if you can put cheese on it, it’s a thing.

@bocamp Thanks for the Victoria Chorale link - it was touching and really well done.

@Z Your “Quick Explication” was spot on. BTW, was that a mansplication?

@pabloinnh - “Well, I dutifully finished this one, because that's what I do on Sundays” Sad but true.

@JD It’s always interesting, if somewhat ALARMing, to hear how we’re being manipulated.

@ROO I confused wrestling with boxing and came up with TEN being the count needed to pin ones opponent.

@GILL I. Awesome wrongy dongy cheap lawyer bastard Roma Tomato comeback sauce story!!!

@pabloinnh You take the concise clever and funny award. Yep, once again @AS said it better than I.

Hey @Frantic and @NWCSG, not as bad today, eh? Except for AIRLANES; that doesn’t seem like a thing. Nope, can’t put cheese on it - not a thing.

Is POE crossing GOD a coincidence?

dadnoa 7:44 PM  

+1 for Franticsloth. Nailed the whole 4peat thing. Rex was tired....

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Ooof, that was a slog. I did it in the app, so even when I thought I was done, I had to go through and play around with a bunch of things to find the right combo for me to finally get to done. Had Poke/Operi, Had STOMP without catching that it messed up the down. Had AMENRA/SELE, because that's how I'm used to seeing the Egyptian god spelled, and just assumed that SELE was an architectural term I was unfamiliar with.

Hated it. Joyless.

Minor point of correction Rex: SAUCE wasn't the only themer word that didn't touch part of the repeating four letter pattern. King was likewise left out there dangling in the wind.

JimSinSalem 9:01 PM  

Frustrated by how dumbed-down the Sunday puzzle has become over the past few years. Why the gratuitous shading on the theme answers here? A little challenge would nice.

D 9:49 PM  

Bland, but still a PR!

Babz 11:57 PM  

Not an architecture term...think arch and sole of the foot.

Unknown 10:19 AM  

Anyone who's ever taken antitrust law knows that aluminum ingots are a thing, as they were the subject of a famous 1945 antitrust decision by Learned Hand. I don't remember what the case held, only that I had then-Judge Stephen Breyer for antitrust and that he made a David Smith joke while discussing the aluminum ingot case.

Miranda W. 12:20 PM  

Because King Kamehameha easily fell into place for me, the rest quickly followed. Somewhat agree with R.P. comments but also really enjoyed it. I do think puzzles have been unnecessarily dumbed down, not sure why. Thanks for this blog, always a fun read.

Diane Joan 2:05 PM  


I enjoyed your story about the King Kamehameha submarine. If at all possible, can you find out what happened to the two sailors up on the deck when the sub unexpectedly started to submerge? I can't get the picture of those 2 individuals hanging on for dear life out of my head!

One thing I like about this blog is the interesting discussions that occur based on a series of clues, a group of smart solvers, and an unprecedented mix of words.

Unknown 3:50 PM  

Doesn't explain why Don was capitalized.

JOHN X 9:50 PM  

@Diane Joan 2:05 PM

Don't worry, nobody died. They may have gotten wet but that wasn't too hard to do on a submarine.

A couple of guys probably got fired.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Emmy Grammy Oscar Tony, a recognition of an artist who has won all four.

kitshef 11:44 PM  

Yeesh. We are on a run of awful puzzles. Or I guess I should say TERRIB.

DNF on AMEN/SELE. Of course I wanted AMUN, but I also know Will always inflicts AMEN on us and SELE seemed more reasonable than SULE. AMON was not on the radar.

Clue for TEN was terrible, too. But the real problem was the so-called theme.

spacecraft 4:46 PM  

Tone deaf is exactly what I thought. I have to laugh at the very notion of an ALUMINUMINGOT. What would you do with it--assuming you could even make one? This theme fails, bigtime. Or...PRIMETIME.

Give me DOD GWEN Stefani and you can have the rest. Bogey.

Burma Shave 4:51 PM  




Diana, LIW 7:38 PM  

For once the theme helped me solve. Not that it was all that tough.

Fine Sunday

Diana, LIW

rondo 7:53 PM  

Probably not AONE. After NOMANISANISLAND it kinda fizzled. Nobody mentioned AMEN crossing AMEN RA??

AMELIA, ERMA, EVAN, ERIKA, BARB, Mmes. MOORE and OTERI all good, but at 69 going down GWEN takes the yeah baby.

Can we be done with the Sunday THUDDING?

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