1981 hit Genesis album whose name resembles a rhyme scheme / SUN 4-11-21 / Italian poet Cavalcanti who influenced Dante / Birkin stock / Oscar-winning lyricist Washington / Lower-cost option on a popular rideshare app / Waldorf the so-called Queen B or Gossip Girl / Iraqi city on the Tigris

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Constructor: Dick Shlakman and Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Merger Mania" — familiar phrases are clued as if they were "mergers" between two companies, the first word in the phrase being a thing that one company makes, and the second word being something the other company makes. Wackiness all around:

Theme answers:
  • LIFE COACHES (23A: Result of a merger between Quaker Oats and Greyhound?)
  • SINGLES BARS (46A: Result of a merger between Kraft and Hershey's?)
  • DRIVE NUTS (51A: Result of a merger between Google and Planters?)
  • TROUBLESHOOTERS (68A: Result of a merger between Hasbro and Nikon?)
  • TIDE POOLS (91A: Result of a merger between Procter & Gamble and Jacuzzi?)
  • SPAM FILTERS (94A: Result of a merger between Hormel and Instagram?)
  • POLO GROUNDS (120A: Result of a merger between Ralph Lauren and Starbucks?)
Word of the Day: JABOUKIE Young-White (13D: ___ Young-White, comedian/correspondent for "The Daily Show") —
Jaboukie Young-White (born 1994) is an American stand-up comedian and writer. [...] In 2017, he was featured on Rolling Stone's "25 Under 25: Meet the Young Musicians, Actors, Activists Changing the World" list. The following year, he was included in Vulture's "20 Comedians You Should and Will Know" list. In 2020, Young-White was placed on BET's "Future 40" list, which is a list of "40 of the most inspiring and innovative vanguards who are redefining what it means to be unapologetically young, gifted & black". Since 2017, he has performed stand-up twice on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. // As of 2018, he writes for the Netflix television shows Big Mouth and American Vandal. In October of that year, he was hired as a correspondent on The Daily Show; he made his first appearance opposite Trevor Noah on October 11, 2018.
• • •

Typical Sunday, i.e. long, full of corny humor, and decidedly not for me. The concept seems decent in theory, maybe, but in practice it's ragged and groan-some. Some of the answer parts are brands (LIFE cereal), some are generic words for a type of product (NUTS), some are features of a product (Instagram FILTERS) ... I mean, what the hell is up with GROUNDS? Starbucks doesn't sell GROUNDS. It sells ground coffee, but that ... that's not GROUNDS. GROUNDS are what are *left over* after you have made the coffee.  SHOOTERS and COACHES aren't even words people really use. It's all so sub-dadjoke. And then the cluing was clearly toughened up above normal, with the huge corners (NE, SW) making the puzzle feel Friday-Saturdayish at times, which, in a big puzzle where the theme is weak, just makes an unpleasant experience longer, ergo worse. Is Jacuzzi known for making POOLS? Whirlpools, yeah, but if they're in the general pool business, that news got by me. This one just clunks and SPUTTERs all over the place. 

The NE section was by far the toughest for me. JABOUKIE is a great name, but not anyone I've ever heard of (I stopped watching "The Daily Show" and *all* late-night comedy after the Last Guy got elected, as none of it was funny any more, and it all just seemed impotent and sad). And if you don't know JABOUKIE, wow is that a tough name to get a handle on. Thank god for CELESTE Ng! Without her, the only thing I'd've had in that entire corner that I was at all certain about was OBI (11D: Kimono accessory). I had UHOH for OHNO (17D: "Oops!"), and TEAM instead of RACE (because I didn't read the RELAY / RACE clue correctly) (30A: With 18-Down, what has four legs and sprints?) (I was counting human legs ... maybe ... and not thinking of "legs" as race segments). Wanted STEM but wasn't sure at 19D: Part of a musical note). Wasn't sure what letters preceded Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan (34A: U.S.S.). Total mess up there. Though it has the same dimensions, the SW ended up being a lot easier. I did not know a PEASANT did the "lord's work" (92D). I had no idea what Birkin was (still don't) (109D: Birkin stock?). Looks like they are a line of tote BAGS by Hermès. Huh. OK. "Stop your foolishness outside!" is one of the most awkward imagined clue phrases I've ever seen (123A: "GET IN HERE"). I can't imagine those words coming out of anyone's mouth in any context. The attempt to get cutesy with identical sequential cluing at 69- and 70-Down (both [A head]) is awful, as the indefinite article ruins the clue when it's applied to LOO. You just never use "A" like that in cluing. Head = LOO. The "A" is superfluous garbage.

I know that some birds are migrating birds, but I didn't know you referred to them as MIGRANTs (!?) (72A: Bird like the Canada goose or arctic tern). Had SAILS before MASTS (72D: Clipper parts). Had MEET and GEO before MESH and ISO (55D: Come together / 66A: Prefix with thermal) (note: MEET and GEO are both obviously better answers). DEM before REP at 49D: A.O.C., e.g. Just slog slog slog. The only real bright spot was IDA B. WELLS (83D: Co-founder of the N.A.A.C.P.) and the aforementioned CELESTE Ng, my personal puzzle savior today. On to the next. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Reposting this for the Sunday crowd!

"These Puzzles Fund Abortion" is a pack of 14 puzzles edited by Rachel Fabi and featuring an all-star list of constructors to benefit the Baltimore Abortion Fund (BAF). BAF provides financial assistance to people who live in or travel to Maryland for abortion care. The puzzles are currently available for preorder through a donation to BAF here. Donors who choose to donate anonymously can forward their receipt to the email address listed on the fundraiser page in order to receive the puzzles (they will not be sent automatically).   

The constructor slate really is top-notch (Erik Agard! Robyn Weintraub!), and having been a test-solver, I can say that the puzzle quality is really quite high—far more polished and entertaining than your average daily crossword. Do yourself and others a favor and go get these puzzles. The fundraising goal for this puzzle collection has gone from $5000 to $10,000 to now $20,000. I expect supporters to crash right through that $20,000 mark by Monday morning. Please help make that happen. And if you could spread the word, that would be great. Thank you. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:02 AM  

This was a theme with some teeth - for me anyway. I had to give a lot of thought to each and every one except maybe POLOGROUNDS.
Much more preferable than the usual auto-fill-in-the-blank themers that usually clog up the Sundees.

I also enjoyed and appreciated the originality of some of the fill, like CIRCE, TIMECRUNCH, BARESALL, REHYDRATE, GETINHERE, etc. Many more I won't mention.

Near Natick at JABOUKIE and TONEPOEM because I had no idea who/what either was. That's on me, but I don't have to like it.
Or as Ricky Ricardo might say, "LOO SEA, you gotta lotta 'splainin' to do."

In total agreement with @JC66's (752pm yesterday) assessment. 😊


Joaquin 12:14 AM  

Here's a message for anyone who did *not* predict that @Rex would hate this puzzle: Welcome first-time readers to Rex's blog!

Also, looks like Rex KINDA missed the theme by a bit. It's a brand name from the first company followed by a description of the second company's product.

And where's the meltdown over including CHE? I woulda bet the farm ...

Ken Freeland 12:53 AM  

Well, well, well...I guess the old saying’s true that if you sit Will Shortz at the editorial desk long enough, he will eventually publish a five-star Sunday puzzle, and boy howdy did he and these two erudite creators come through this week! It’s not that the theme was particularly clever or original…the typical Sunday wackiness we’ve come to expect...something that with a bit off ratiocination accelerates the solve a bit. But IMHO it’s not really themes that make or break puzzles, it’s the fill. And OMG was this fill just drop-dead gorgeous! What a low PPP quotient, and what a workout for everybody’s vocabulary!!! And the cluing was just endlessly punny.

Just as someone wished for in the comments after last week’s letdown, this is a crossword puzzle that actually clues real words, not just pop culture memes. Fancy that... I mean, WOW! If only we could count on such quality every Sunday, but no, I’m sure it will be back to Harry Potter and Star Wars next week. Well, thanks Will and creators for this very, very enjoyable….I daresay this PERFECT ….Sunday NYT crossword puzzle!

egsforbreakfast 1:10 AM  

This was a lot more pleasant for me than for Rex. As @Joaquin 12:14 and Jeff Chen point out, there is a consistency to the themers that seems to have eluded Rex. Also, “shooters” and “ coaches” aren’t even words people use? Really? I do. Most people I know do. WTF?
I would agree, however, that “Stop your foolishness outside” (123A) may be the worst clue to ever pass editorial review at the NYTXW.

Who knew that our 20th president was James A Very Garfield?

Loved having CHE and HEIDI Klum side by side. Kinda reminds me of Pelosi and Trump, but I’m sure to draw some scorn here from the anti -CHE crowd. Rest assured, I don’t know my a** from a hole in the wall when it comes to CHE, so don’t chastise me too much.

Liked the puzzle quite a bit. Thanks Dick Shlakman and Will Nediger.

Ando 1:12 AM  

You know what DRIVEs me NUTS? Inconsistent themes where, say, all the theme answers are plural nouns except one.

jae 1:56 AM  

Medium-tough. I had some of the missteps as @Rex, but liked it a skosh more than he did.

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

I'm surprised Rex has never heard an angry parent shout "get in here!"

Also, "coaches" seems completely normal to me

Joe Dipinto 2:10 AM  

"Stop your foolishness outside!" is my favorite clue. It's like a translation attempt by someone who doesn't have the hang of English yet. If you asked the same person if they are good at dance moves, they would say, "I dab wells!"

The themers are so-so. DRIVE NUTS doesn't quite fit with the rest of the group as it's a verb phrase while all the others are noun phrases. And in general they were kind of blah. But I liked most of the other longer answers: BEAVER HAT, TONE POEM, REHYDRATE, AQUILA, TIME CRUNCH, HOTELIER...

(I must disagree with @Rex: MESH and ISO are "obviously better answers" to their clues because SATGSFIES isn't a word and neither is STOOTERS. And I'm at a loss as to what to think about this: "I did not know a PEASANT did the 'lord's work'".)

The Acrostic saved the day, as usual, with a sort of double theme thing going on.

Help with the bags

jae 2:10 AM  

....and @Bocamp - I started Croce’s Freestyle #600 and it’s a bit more friendly than the last one but it’s still up there with the tough Newsday Stumpers of yesteryear.

JOHN X 2:17 AM  

Q: Who has opposable thumbs and got his J&J shot today?


mkyritsis 2:43 AM  

One of the easiest Sundays since I don't remember when. I get it on Saturdays with the combined NYT issue and I had it all but finished by today, just a few look-ups with some of the more involved entries. So nice. Though I hated the pairing up, so arbitrary.

chefwen 2:57 AM  

This concludes a cheat free weekend of puzzles, Woo Hoo! A rare occurrence. This one didn’t really blow my skirt up, but managed to finish without too much angst. Hate to say it, but I pretty much agree with Rex in his assessment on this one. Got a tad bid bored toward the end and handed it off to puzzle partner who wrapped it up handily.

Kevin M 3:55 AM  

This might be the answer to the “Birken stock?” clue. It’s for the HermΓ¨s bag inspired by Jane Birkin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkin_bag

Bon dimanche de France!

Pete 5:00 AM  

I did this past evening in the ER while the doc was putting 38 stitches in my left hand. It was mildly better than wondering what those two fingers that needed 18 stitches each looked like. And the do even have me Ms Ng's name.

Safety first kids.

Conrad 6:06 AM  

I had the opposite experience of @Rex: I liked the puzzle, knew JABOUKIE and -- to my discredit -- needed all the crosses to get CELESTE Ng.

But it was the NE, specifically OBJECTeRS and BEAVERcAp that almost did me in.

The Joker 6:31 AM  

KINDA surprised to learn that A.O.C. is a REPublican. I always assumed she was a DEMocrat. (49D)

Lewis 6:50 AM  

One reason I love crosswords is all the disparate words, names, and phrases thrown into a box, a cornucopia that often nudges memories and images – a one-time slice of our experience of living. This puzzle, with its BEAVER HAT, SCEPTERS, HEIDI, SWELTERED, PESTO, TIME CRUNCH, INLETS and TIDEPOOLS, LATHE, ABACAB, REFERENDUM and MASTS and much more – made for a beautiful journey.

Part of that journey was a quick musing when I saw MI AMOR, which reminded me of my city of birth, Miami. On a whim, I looked up MI AMI on Google Translate to find that it means “my friend” in both Spanish and French, and in Italian it means “you love me”. What a friendly and inviting name for a city!

Thank you, Dick and Will, for this lovely plunge into the little world you created!

Lewis 6:59 AM  

Regarding the solve, for me, it was a combination of "Oh yes, I don't mind if you do", and "Oh no, I do mind if you do", that is, some areas splashed right in, and others were rife with rub. Smooth and bumpy. Very nice variety.

uwu 7:21 AM  

92D is my favorite, because as a student of political economy, I saw that wordplay a mile ahead.

bocamp 7:34 AM  

Thank you @Dick & @Will for a challenging and most invigorating Sunday solving experience.

Tough puzzle.

So many unknowns. Was fortunate to finish with no errors. A case of fair crosses. :)

One of those humblers that requires patience, persistence, hope and a prayer. πŸ™

Willie Mays "The Catch" at the POLO GROUNDS, game 1, 1954 World Series.

Little GTO ~ The Beach Boys

yd pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Zed 7:40 AM  

Greyhound busses being called COACHES is something I have heard, but it seems more like Greyhound ad copy rather than what you hear actual people use. Actual non-Greyhound employees tend to call busses “busses.” But, okay, maybe Rex is isolated from Greyhound corporate culture. But a camera called a SHOOTER? By whom? “Photo shoot” I’ve heard. Calling a photo a “shot” I’ve heard. All I can think is some Lil Nas X wannabe would call a camera a SHOOTER.

Hmmm, a theme based completely around Pop Culture. I wonder what I will say.

I did curl a wry smile at 1A since I started solving the BAF puzzles before solving this last night.

I have to wonder if ETHAN Allen loved PESTO.

Someone claimed the fill was low in PPP. Let’s see, CIRCE, CRETE and Brexit in the first little section then ABRAM, BUCS, AVERY, and MOSUL in the next then JABOUKIE, EVANSville, CELESTE, two TONE POEMs, and the U.S.S. Ford and Reagan. No, this will be in the typical PPP range until you add in that all the themers are PPP, which will push this into excessive. (yep - 46 of 140 for 33%)
What I’ve learned is that a puzzle that seems PPP free is usually just a puzzle with PPP in one’s wheelhouse.

Colin 7:47 AM  

I wasn't big on this one, admittedly, especially when three PPP's came up in a row in the NE corner. That corner did teach me about TONEPOEMs and what a piehole is (which was not in my dictionaries, including the Big Tome). When I got the theme, I kinda figured OFL would not like this.

I too had DEM for "A.O.C., e.g." at first. Yep, she's a Dem REP as opposed to a Dem SEN.

Funny how I could interpret "Stop your foolishness outside!" two ways: The first (wrong) way was, "Go outside to finish your foolishness!" while the second (correct) way was, "Stop your foolishness out there and come inside to do it!" So I had NOTINHERE at first, which of course did not work... I s'pose I'm the sort who prefers fools to get away from me!

TTrimble 7:48 AM  

Oof. Took close to twice my recent Sunday times to get through this, although looking back, it's hard to identify the problem. (Putting to one side the fact I had SNL on, and also my son was ransacking the house looking for something, until I finally gave in and began helping him.)

Here's one though: JABOUKIE, EVANS, CELESTE all in columnar succession. That's a bit unkind. Those cross TONE POEM, which was difficultly clued.

When I was in school, I learned about Daniel Boone and his coonskin cap, not his BEAVER HAT. Now of course I knew that there was no way "coon" would be anywhere remotely near a NYTXW, but I had strange trouble coming up with BEAVER. Wait, doesn't that carry a meaning offensive to some women?

Here's another: the intersection of IDA ? WELLS and ?AIL. Beautiful downtown Natick. I kept thinking the Marshall Plan, not the Marshall Project, and who is this aforementioned Marshall? I had tried jAIL before BAIL (Jail reform and BAIL reform would seem to be closely related topics, n'est-ce pas?)

Let's see, what else do we got (pace @Loren Muse Smith's mom). There was some GUIDO Cavalcanti who supposedly influenced Dante -- GEEZ, LOUISE, give me a break. That's not Sunday difficult, that's obnoxiously Saturday difficult. And shit, why should I care?

I stupidly put in EzrA before EMMA (Lazarus). Oh, and perhaps the most hilarious mistake: I actually put in ABner before ABRAM. Abner! Sure, we all learned about James Abner Garfield.

Just call me Murphy. There's a law named after me.

So while there might be not a huge amount of PPP -- I'll let the resident statisticians make a determination there -- it does tend to accumulate in spots. I already mentioned the NE. Now, I did know Tex AVERY upon reflection, so Abner (Abner!) resided for less time than Garfield spent in office. But then in the same area, I first spelled the wine region, not the city (MOSel, not MOSUL).

I had geO before ISO. I knew to wait before deciding between SCEPTERS and SCEPTreS. Took me a while to complete the area which had ST ELMO and ASTOR (again, really nontrivial cluing -- well, there was trivia, but at a more quadrivium level).

Two of these backward clues (PAT from tap, EMIL from lime). It felt like more.

The puzzle would like to DRIVE me NUTS. I spent a lot of time TROUBLE-SHOOTing. I SPUTTERed, and was thrown off BALANCE. Thank you?

Melissa 8:00 AM  

And it’s really KINDA embarrassing that he’s never heard of a BIRKIN bag.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

87A: Brutal murderer

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

To @Lewis at 6:50 a.m. When I first went to Italy in the 1970s I had been living in Chicago. Among US cities desirable for Italians to visit, Miami was probably first, and "mi ami" in Italian means "you love me," as you state, or the question "you love me?" Had the name been chosen to draw Italian tourists, Miami could not have chosen better. No one wanted to got to Chicago, which sounds very close to the Italian "ci caco" or "I shit here."

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Barbara S. 8:05 AM  

I wasn’t sure what I thought about the theme at first, but it grew on me. It took a while to see that the first word of each theme answer was a specific product of the first company in the clue, and the second word was something more general associated with the second company. So, LIFE COACHES: the specific (LIFE cereal) and the general (COACHES: Greyhound, as a bus company uses COACHES as its means of travel). Once I saw this was a consistent pattern, I liked the puzzle a lot.

I query the clue for BEAVER HAT. BEAVER HATS were made for fashionable Europeans or for the military in various European countries, rather than for explorers in the bush. I’m also uncomfortable with the clue for INUIT. In a university with an active Indigenous Studies program, it was drummed into me that Inuit is an ethnicity and a people, not a language. In the Canadian context, the relevant languages are Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun. Perhaps the clue has skirted the problem by saying “language group”, but I remain skeptical. Hooray for the shout-out to the Spelling BEE – or maybe to all spelling BEEs – I’m happy either way. And blushing buttocks – the MILLER’s tale! There’s a bawdy romp.

I kept trying to put TIME in all the wrong places until I finally hit the right one (TIME CRUNCH). I tried TIME in answer to “10 to 10, say” (TIED) and TIMED for “Measured” (SIZED). I wasn’t sure if the Marshall Project was about jAIL or BAIL reform, so thank you to IDA B. WELLS for straightening that out. For once in my life I immediately got the answer to the aggravating “Man’s name that spells a fruit backward”-type clue (Yay, EMIL!). Lots of small errors, easily fixed: Exec for SUIT, sAilS for MASTS, shoe for BAGS, Silk for SMUT (oops!), kabUL for MOSUL, gifT for BENT.

Cuteness: ST. ELMO (Fire man?), PEASANT (One doing the lord’s work) and INLETS (Little sounds).

Today there’s a quotation from GLENWAY WESCOTT, born Apr. 11, 1901.

“…Alwyn's grandfather, who was known as "the greatest talker in the country," used words which no one else understood, words which he did not understand, and words which do not exist to swell a passionate theme, to confound his neighbors in an argument, and for their own sake. He would say, for example, "My farm was the very apocalypse of fertility, but the renter has rested on his oars till it is good for nothing," or "Manifest the bounty to pass the salt shaker in my direction." Something of the Bible, something of an Irish inheritance, something of a liar's anxiety, made of his most ordinary remark a strange and wearisome oratory.”
(From The Grandmothers: A Family Portrait)

Sioux Falls 8:09 AM  

I had trouble with “lord’s work” until I realized that “lord” started with a lower case “l”. So lord is “lord of the manor” who might have “peasants” as servants, though “serfs” is more commonly used.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Is IQUIT the linguistic cousin of INUIT that is spoken in Iqaluit?

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

Many bus companies use COACH in their name.

CoachUSA and Campus Coach are two big ones notably visible in the NYC area. Many more findable on Google.

kitshef 8:23 AM  

Had TIme before TIED, and with a ? clue for ARROW, and having no idea what JAMA meant, that section was tough.

But that was nothing compared to the NE, which was just this side of impossible. JABOUKIE and CELESTE are complete unknows. Ditto STEM. Didn’t know TONE POEM last time we had it, and still didn’t, and if I had remembered would not have gotten it from the clue. Thought frontiersmen wore felt hats, and when that didn’t fit had nowhere to go (Bicorn?). I doubt they wore beaver hats, as they would have sent beaver pelts to Europe for big bucks. Happy to be proven wrong there if anyone knows better.

And why does the USS Gerald R. Ford get a middle initial, but not the USS Ronald (W.) Reagan?

Thanks to those two areas, much harder than average.

Theme is all over the place with no consistency in the second halves.

Getting vaccine shot 1 today. Huzzah!

Nancy 8:25 AM  

First of all, I've been muting TV commercials ever since the mute button was invented -- so we're talking decades.

Second, I am emphatically not a shopper. I hate the shopping process, buy only what I really need, and focus on it like a laser -- looking neither to my right or to my left as I tear down the aisle as fast as I can. I always want to be out of the store and back in the park as quickly as possible.

So how the hell am I supposed to know what these stupid companies make?

Of course, that's just me and I'm sure there is a market (pun intended) for this sort of puzzle. The whole time I was thinking of one of my favorite quotes from a fellow editor at the Literary Guild many, many years ago:

"For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like."

Not me. I love you, Will Nediger, but this is emphatically not a "Nancy puzzle". You did alert me to the fact that you had a puzzle coming up that might not be my cup of tea, right? Or am I imagining it? At any rate, I found it an exercise in complete frustration. If the surrounding fill had been easier...but the surrounding fill was hard. And because I was completely undone by Hasbro and Hormel and even Proctor and Gamble (what don't they make?), I'm afraid I threw it against my proverbial wall. I'd done about 2/3, so there's that. Sorry, Will!!! But I'm glad you got so many product names and other pop culture answers out of your system with this puzzle.

Gunner 8:25 AM  

OK. I'm a noob. What the heck does PPP stand for. TIA.

SouthsideJohnny 8:32 AM  

I’m probably the most PPP-adverse person who posts here, so this one was pretty painful - just kept trying to cobble things together from the crosses and it just seemed like a landslide of PPP abetted by a fairly healthy dose of foreign words, places and phrases such as MIAMOR.

Definitely not in the category that I would enjoy, so I’m pretty much aligned with @Z, @TT and OFL today. I can understand how some others would find it crunchy and challenging though. I’ll just have to look forward to mid-week as Tue-Thursdays are becoming my favorite days now (and a good, crisp, clean LOW-PPP Sunday every now and then, lol).

Babs 8:32 AM  

Hate to post off-topic, but my daughter completed Brendan Emmett Quigley's mini in the paper this morning and was so proud of herself but 1 down makes no sense; clue: "Deli counter device" answer: "Climb" - to be stumped by a mini is a wee bit embarrassing, but anything for my kid. Thoughts as to what we are missing? Thanks!

Darryl 8:41 AM  

@unknown (8:25)

Be forewarned: when you ask questions like that, you providing an opening for even more pontification.

bocamp 8:42 AM  

"Stop your foolishness outside" fits in nicely with the "wackiness" theme. Close to something my mom would have said: "stop that foolishness out there, and get in here now!" LOL

@Pete (5:00 AM) πŸ™

@Joe Dipinto (2:10 AM) / @jae (2:10 AM)

Looking forward to the acrostic and Freestyle later today after the SB. :)

@TTrimble (7:48 AM)

Same thots re: the HAT, but Davy Crockett was my guy.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Son Volt 8:52 AM  

Rex missed the full gimmick of the theme - it’s not as loose at he thinks. However - for someone who wants wordplay - this puzzle disappoints. The theme is built around nouns and trivia and the fill is loaded with it also. Even if it’s in your wheelhouse - it’s a chore to solve at Sunday size.

TIDE POOLS was pretty neat and I liked BARES ALL and TIME CRUNCH. It seemed like the rest of it was TV Guide territory.

Hard pass for me on this one.

TwoFlech 9:03 AM  

What does PPP mean?

barbara 9:04 AM  

At the risk of defending Rex, your characterization of the theme doesn’t work completely: FILTERS aren’t really Instagram’s product, and GROUNDS certainly aren’t Starbucks’s product. If I found grounds in my latte, I’d demand a refund!

Gunner 9:08 AM  

What is PPP? Thanks.

pmdm 9:42 AM  

PPP = Product names, Proper nouns, Pop culture. Or something like that, coined by Z. It's used so frequently in these comments that it's explanation should really be included on the main page, similar to Natick.

Somehow I got all the theme answers without fully understanding the theme. I would not call this type of wordplay funny, but that's my take and my take alone. I too enjoyed the acrostic today more than the crossword. Not that the crossword was bad. It just didn't tickle me.

John H 9:45 AM  

@Ando, I absolutely agree. Surprised that Rex didn't point that one out, he is so obsessed by consistency. For that reason I began to wonder if that phrase had a parallel meaning, like people overly fond of road trips or something, but nope. At least nothing that google noticed. Before I went to the blog I was certain he would jump on that one.

DeeJay 9:51 AM  

REP as a member of the House of Representatives

Giovanni 9:54 AM  

GUIDO CAVALCANTI a gimme even though I haven't thought about ol'Guido since 1985 in Grad School.
You never know what's stuck in your brain for 35 years!

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

When you buy whole coffee beans at Starbucks, they’ll grind them for you and send you home with GROUNDS.

I definitely heard GET IN HERE! more than a few times when I was a kid. I liked the clue and got the answer immediately with no crosses, but immediately second-guessed myself.

Hungry Mother 10:03 AM  

A definite challenge here, but I slogged it through. Names, names, names. Near Natick on IDABWELLS/BAIL. I liked the theme and found it helpful.

Andrea 10:11 AM  

I interpret it as an advice not to climb on the counter...
Does that work?

Hungry Mother 10:14 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny: I think I can give you a run for your money.

Rube 10:17 AM  

Sorry. CELESTE Ng and JABOUKIE are as bad it gets for me. What is an OZONE hole? Layer, but not hole.
DOCILITY? TRITER? Come on we have to do better than those.

And has been pointed out the theme is inconsistent in spots.

Glad this puzzle is on the rear view mirror.

Sixthstone 10:20 AM  

meh. ENNUI

Teedmn 10:26 AM  

This was the hardest Sunday in a while, though whether it was due to my errors or the cluing, I'm not sure. After all, I hung onto sAils for clipper parts (72D) for nearly the entire solve. This made me look for some kind of 72A bird, seaduck, seahawk (surely not). And my brilliant "raw material" of Silk (59D) fit so wonderfully that I needed the theme to save me. I only kept "hail" in for "Balls in the sky" 40D for little while but it was long enough to DRIVE me NUTS. And my nemesis, the NE, was toughened by uHoh. OH NO, that's wrong.

How have I missed what Birkin is? Granted, I haven't carried a purse for decades but I've certainly heard of Hermès but not the Birkin, so the clue for 109D went over my head, though I have heard of Birkenstocks, duh, so at least I knew it was a pun!

I don't know Instagram so FILTERS doesn't mesh with me. The rest of the products were familiar enough that I can appreciate this theme. Nicely done, Dick and Will.

I read Rex after writing this comment so I see I share some of his woes, but I am left with a much more positive feeling about the puzzle than he has expressed. And I didn't even know CELESTE (though she seemed familiar after it I guessed the C and ST.)

Andrea 10:30 AM  

Writing a daily blog must be a pretty hard job for one person alone (specially such a long ran one -not sure if this is how it’s said-), where it’s easy to fall into certain habits and complacencies making it easy to forget our brains are not always that “in tune” (for whatever reason one may think of), therefore allowing for slips and misses (like the one pointed out today that Rex didn’t catch the fact that in all theme answers the first word is the brand name and the second a description of the product).

My advice would be that before publishing, he comments it wit someone else in the process of self-editing. That someone else could have seen something he didn’t, or could point out that certain phrases are indeed current, etc. That way we won’t have to always feel shocked, or hurt, or indignant and things will go back to the way they were when Rex enjoyed puzzles more and his posts were mostly witty and funny 😊

Anyway, it’s an idea.

Barbara S. 10:41 AM  

@barbara (9:04)
I read the theme as the first word in the answer being a product of Company No. 1:

SPAM (brand name of tinned meat made by Hormel)
POLO (brand name of shirt made by Ralph Lauren)

and the second word being something more loosely associated with Company No. 2:

FILTERS (with Instagram -- a way of editing photos)
GROUNDS (with Starbucks -- you can't make coffee without also making a lot of soggy GROUNDS)

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

John H,
I nearly always think of Emerson when Rex has a bitch about consistency: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Sounds like our OFL to me.

Hungry Mother,
Ida B Wells is worth learning an out. But be careful. Her name has been shamelessly co-opted as a Twitter handle by a grifter whose chief claim to fame is a work, or project, that has so thoroughly been debunked by true historians that both she and The Time’s have edited it on numerous occasion. Including rewriting its central proposition to correct its grotesque claim.

Ken Freeland 11:23 AM  

Whilst some of these named clues a proper names, my point is that they are drawn more from classic culture, not pop culture, and that is so refreshing!

TTrimble 11:28 AM  

@Joe Dipinto, @bocamp, @pmdm
That acrostic played very fast for me. I don't know if I set a PR, but if not, I had to have come close. @Joe D was right about the double theme.

To all who like that sort of puzzle: definitely give that one a try.

The SB on the other hand is occasioning some difficulty.

Whatsername 11:30 AM  

@Pete (5:09) 38 stitches? Yikes! That sounds serious. Wishing you a speedy and full recovery.

Ken Freeland 11:31 AM  

"Docility" is a common word, cleanly clued here, that ought to be in every educated person's vocabulary. The ozone hole is in fact the hole in the ozone layer caused by various pollutants. I didn't know JABOUKIE or CELESTE either, but every puzzle has a couple of of PPP's that need to be worked around...

L E Case 11:32 AM  

You are really missing out on some brilliant comedy by not watching The Daily Show. Loved seeing Jaboukie’s name!

GILL I. 11:42 AM  

Well I thought this had some good HUEVOS...maybe DRIVE NUTS at the SINGLES BARS? I might, though, stand with @chefwen and watch her blow her skirt up. I had a few lice-like head scratchers, but otherwise, I had some fun. And that's what counts.
Is JABOUKIE really a name? Do people shorten it to JAB or maybe OUKIE? PETA OBJECTORS would certainly hate a BEAVER HAT. I loved Davy Crockett but I think he wore a raccoon hat. Maybe somewhere in this country, people pick up dead road-kill raccoons and make hats out of them.
Brexit is more than a REFERENDUM. It's Hell on wheels with a side of "Great British Bake Off."
@egs 1:10....Don't feel bad about not knowing your ass. Lots of people can't find it when it comes to CHE.
My STELMO runneth over.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

There’s no ozone, at least none to speak of, currently. Last year’s Arctic Ozone Hole was one of the longest-lasting and deepest since the WMO began tracking the phenomenon in the late 70s. But the hole close in December. Don’t worry.it’ll return as it does every year. Just not yet. And just so you know, pollutants are responsible for some of the hole, naturally occurring meteorological phenomena play a greater role.

Chris 11:54 AM  

Google DRIVE is cloud storage. Like a hard drive. So a noun.

sixtyni yogini 12:02 PM  

Not a TSP of fun or sparkle in clues or answers or theme (for me).
TRITE or stale take your pick- consistency in theme notwithstanding.

Surprised Rex did not RIPUP and PAN it with more ferocity.
Teehee, Dirty job, but someone ‘s got to do it: may it burn in luminous plasma—STELMOSFIRE.

Tom T 12:07 PM  

When I got the dreaded "nearly done" or "so close" or "almost there" or whatever it says, it took me several extra minutes to figure out that I had entered SCEPToRS for 59 across, which left MoSH for 55 down, which seemed correct if one thinks of the "mosh pit" at certain concerts. Figured it out at last!

Also, was unfortunate to have DRIVENUTS as my first theme answer, and with the title having to do with mergers, I thought all the themers would share a letter in the middle: DRIVE(n)NUTS. That would have been a major constructor challenge!

Mill City Architect 12:14 PM  

When do we decide that SUITS as a synonym for corporate decision makers is sexist?

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

@Mill City Architect:

well... the Power Suit has been part of political/corporate female attire for, at least, decades. they're just as nasty to the hoi polloi in their employ as Nancy is to Rep. reps.

JC66 12:30 PM  

FYI, @Will Nediger also constructed today's Atlantic puzzle.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Mill City,
Suits for a businessman is an example of syndecdoche. It is not a synonym. And anon 12:25 beat me to the fact that women wear business suits all the tim they’re not always power suits btw).

Bill 12:32 PM  

Ethan Allen founding Vermont? Indigenous people would like a word.

RooMonster 12:36 PM  

Hey All !
Late finishing up the solve, so commenting before reading comments. So if my comments sound like your comments, don't comment on it. πŸ€ͺ

Anyway, two tough spots for me. One I figured out,one I cheated on. And still ended up with a DNE/FWE.
One spot was with the appropriate TROUBLE area, had EzrA for EMMA, ores for SMUT, MEld for MESH, ape for OAF. Dang. Managed to straighten that section out on my own (or so I thought). That area was responsible for two of my four-letter DNF. Had ErMA, and... RiO. I missed my own name! Oh, the horrors! Figured the Mexican State would be named after a river, hence RiO, not after me! (Well, not really me 😁)

Other tough spot was that NE. Oof. Had to Goog for both crazy names up there. Glad Rex knew CELESTE Ng, cause I sure didn't. Also don't watch The Daily Show anymore, so Jumping JABOUKIE! Plus TONEPOEM(?), BEAVERHAT (!?), STEM (wanted STEp.) Yowza.

But enjoyed the theme itself. Lots of U's for those who track them.

Two other wrongies, aDAmWELLS/DOCILaTY/mAIL. IDA B WELLS? OK, whatever you say. aDAm sounded good to me. ☺️

So a crunchish puz. Some TURMOIL. Or maybe ITS ME.

Three F's

Guerin Wilkinson 12:44 PM  

Them Canada geese are here in Michigan all winter! I solved it OK, but my picky brain voiced an objection in my head. JABOUKIE?? And PPP is new to me.

puzzled 12:44 PM  

@Babs: I can't find that mini but I remember a very recent puzzle where the answer to "Deli counter device" was "scale" ... Could your daughter have made a (few) mistake(s)?

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

hated this. do these companies pay money to get featured? seemed incredibly tacky to me

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Sooo … Brand name + generic product, with different meanins in the overall themed phrase? That's a lot to go for. Yields some hints of desperation, at times. Not quite seein the "wackiness" that @RP cited, tho. Themers come out just bein standard, non-humorous phrases, like: LIFECOACHES, TIDEPOOLS, etc.

U can kinda see why a theme like this could totally confuse the snot outta folks. The merger clues give two company names on equal footin, but the answer gives two parts that are on different levels of meanin. Yike-ola.
Ergo di qed: M&A fave & aptest themer = DRIVENUTS.

Hard to complain about a SunPuz with 15 U's, tho. Really liked the YES clue's raised-by-wolfishness, too boot.
staff weeject pick: REP. Republican? nope. Representative? yep. har … kinda reminds yah of the themer meanins' double-loopiness.


Thanx for gangin up on us, Shlakman & Nediger dudes.

Masked & Anonymo15Us


Richard Stanford 12:53 PM  

DNF for me not knowing Ida B Wells and getting jAIL reform instead of BAIL reform. The NE was by far the hardest for me to get today.

thefogman 12:54 PM  

I want a theme that SATISFIES not to SPUTTER and DRIVENUTS.. DNF because of the Natick at 99A. I guessed rAIL. Also thought it could be mAIL. But OHNO; it was BAIL. I am sure there are many other OBJECTORS to that little TRAP. Made me want to RIPUP my paper and shout IQUIT ! Alas, that’s KINDA the USUAL for Sundays lately which gives me such ENNUI.

bocamp 12:54 PM  

Watching CELESTE Ng's "Little Fires Everywhere" on Prime Video (Canada). Checked out Ng's "Everything I Never Told You" audiobook from the library.

@TTrimble (11:28 AM)

Thx for the encouragement re: the acrostic; haven't looked at it yet. Spinning wheels on the SB.


pg -5

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Richard Stanford 12:57 PM  

But the end result of the phrase isn’t a noun even though the others are.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

The geese you’re seeing in Winter could be the ones you’re seeing in Summer or they could different birds.
Could be your winter birds in the mitten are facultative migrants.

kenji 12:59 PM  

Oy! Kinda do kinda don't want to know what happened, but (1) The Crossword during? WOW! (2) speedy recovery!

What? 1:03 PM  

And if not in one’s wheelhouse? Then Rexious.

CreamyT 1:07 PM  

Rough one for us. Definite DNF, but struggled with more than a few areas. A mix of PPP that was hard to suss out and tricky clues. While the theme had some iffy answers (GROUNDS for sure), I still enjoyed it overall. Yes, Starbucks doesn't *sell* grounds, but I got what they were going for, and was able to get that across without too many downs.

We unfortunately weren't aware of the term TONEPOEM or familiar with JABOUKIE or CELESTE. Doing my quick "How long is their Wikipedia article?) check to see how bad I should feel about not knowing these people, I did not feel bad. I don't mean to say it's unfair, or that I shouldn't know them, but it's certainly in different category than IDABWELLS. Also, BENT to me is different from "Natural talent," and I affirmed this by looking up the definition. It meant what I thought it meant - an inclination towards something. That doesn't not necessarily mean your are talented. It just means you are drawn to it. The natural modifier is also weird - I have a bent/inclination towards certain programming languages because of my skillset. It *could* be natural, but it just adds to the confusion.

Despite the NE corner being tough, we enjoyed the cluing. A few groaners (TRITER?), but not too much considering the amount of clues in a Sunday.

With low times this week and only DNFs for Sat/Sun, I rest happy. Learned a few new words, a few new names, and felt like my wife and I are continuing to improve. Slowly but surely.

Joe Dipinto 1:33 PM  

@Chris 11:54 – But the full answer DRIVE NUTS is a verb phrase. "You are driving me nuts!" All the other full answers are things of some sort: people – LIFE COACHES; places – SINGLES BARS, POLO GROUNDS; etc.

Canon Chasuble 2:05 PM  

I thought this a delightful Sunday puzzle, starting with CIRCE and Nancy Astor, and then trying to figure out everything I did not know. My brain froze at "troubles hooters" but then just laughed aloud when I figured out my mistake (as I did at other times). It was just plain nice to work it out, surrounded by a chaotic household, filled with and distracted by children (with whom I played and to whom I read several books in and out of solving time)."Jaboukie" presciently crossed "drive nuts" which was perfect. And other great things like that. Thank you Dick and Will.

Flybal 2:11 PM  

It’s a coonskin cap which would have drove REX over the edge

MJB 2:39 PM  

From 65 years ago: giggling in study hall. Sister Gregory, arms crossed, sternly asks what I'm reading. "Chaucer." She persists: "Which tale?" "The Miller's Tale, Sister." She got the last word: "Not assigned. Two demerits."

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

I enjoyed the theme but had the same problem ... Northeast corner (and for the same reason). For the first time in a long while I had to click on “check square” for a hint ... and my guess at one of the letters in Jaboukie was wrong. Oh, well ... I enjoyed it, anyway.

Zed 3:11 PM  

If you don’t know the difference between Ground Coffee and Coffee Grounds please let someone else make the morning joe.

The Ozone Hole.

PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. 33% or more will almost always result in the wheelhouse/outhouse phenomenon.

@Ken Freeland - “Classic Culture” is Pop Culture

@Creamy T - I have a BENT for correcting inaccurate assertions here. It’s a talent requiring almost no talent.

@Guerin Wilkinson - Apparently non-migratory Canada Geese populations are growing because they are adapting to human altered environments. They then become problematic. Sounds like it is time to start a Thanksgiving Goose tradition.

@Bill - I didn’t realize the Abenaki used French as a basis for place names.

600 3:35 PM  

Rex--Thank you for publicizing a way to contribute to women's reproductive health care. I consider it a special bonus for coming to your page today.

Bruce Fieggen 3:51 PM  

@Babs 8:32. That was an editing error by NYT. The clue was left over from a previous puzzle. The answer was CLIMB but the new clue wasn’t there.

Joe in Newfoundland 4:07 PM  

DNF at IDAB?WELLS and "?AIL" reform. hear and say COACH all the time.
But I never hear or say VESPER. It appeared several weeks ago in a weekday puzzle, and was wrong then. I'm surprised it got through. No one ever uses it. It's almost an illiteracy.

Damfino 4:15 PM  

Interesting that Will Nediger has a byline here and in The Atlantic puzzle today. And that the latter puzzle is so much more fun.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

Someone may have mentioned this, but PANGRAM!

TJS 5:05 PM  

Had to resort to the Wiki to get the dates of the original Davey Crockett phenomenon for Disney TV productions. I am amazed that the original series only had 5 episodes, because it was such a national craze. I am pretty sure it was the first attempt at tieing a tv show into a nationwide marketing program selling everything from fake pioneer clothing to book bags, lunch boxes,pen and pencil sets, etc. I can still remember our fourth grade "cloak room", divided one side girls, one side boys, where every single boys hook had a "coonskin" hat on it. LOL.

Preferred Customer 5:15 PM  

TTrimble: it turns out raccoon if you spell it with one 'c' has the same number of letters as beaver. Sadly for me.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Loved it! Knew ABACAB (big Genesis fan) and loved the themers--terrific puns. Took a while to get USS and MESH/ISO (@rex). Great Puzzle, thanks to the constructors! -Rick

pmdm 6:38 PM  

Bill: There is a difference in being the first people to settle a place and being subsequent settlers who establish a brand new political jurisdiction. (Jurisdiction is not the word I am thinking of, but I hope it gets the idea across. Maybe someone will come up with the correct word.)

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

I hope my deeply held belief that certain speech here is disfavored is incorrect, but I had a response to 600 which has yet to be posted.
I’d hate to think the reason is its content. As a good faith gesture I’ll try again.

Thank you for your post. It got me off my duff. My small coterie of friends has said, at this point, 163, Rosaries in effort to end abortion.
The best part is that, thanks to social media which made your contribution to abortion services possible, we now have a world-wide group praying the Rosary to oppose abortion.

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

If no abortions, think how extremely overpopulated the world would be.

TTrimble 9:30 PM  

Thoughts and prayers! Works every time.

Re today's SB: "econofuel" ought to be, I think, every bit as worthy as "telehealth" would be in another puzzle. Both are sorts of Greek-English hybrids. Alas, the world has yet to catch up with my very advanced thinking on such matters. ;-)

Today's SB has been a toughie, but I'm pg -7. Just getting that far will probably have to suffice.

* 10:56 PM  

PPP= Pop culture, Product names, Proper nouns

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

Once again, if late in the night: if the anti-choice zealots were serious about doing right, they'd endow adoptions, no questions asked, into rich white families.

A 12:06 AM  

Happy Barbershop Quartet Day!

Everyone should know TONE POEM. So many fantastic pieces, among them Liszt Les Preludes, Strauss Death and Transfiguration, Sibelius Finlandia, and of course, Mussorgsky’s astounding original version of his Tone Poem Night on Bald Mountain.

Thanks, Mssrs. Shlakman and Nediger, for the brain tickler!

Irishmaineiac 8:43 PM  

Too funny. This was one of the easier puzzles for me. Uh, oh. What does this say about me?

Irishmaineiac 8:47 PM  

BTW, Celeste's book is excellent.

shsh 11:30 PM  

As usual, any answer that Rex doesn’t know is anathema. Guess what. . . when we know an answer simply because its familiar to us, it’s way cool. If you don’t know it, Rex, that’s tough ti**ies. Get over it.

spacecraft 9:08 AM  

Lots of unknowns but was able to suss them out. Had to have a real leap of faith on that JABOUKIE one though. The theme is so-so, and not always perfectly sensible, as has been shown. Fill is interesting in spots, but...nope, it's a bogey, and I'm being generous. Far too many PPPs. SATISFIES? OHNO.

Burma Shave 4:01 PM  


in LIFE when TROUBLE calls,
the USUAL ADULT ifs and butts,


Diana, LIW 4:29 PM  

Enough of this was not in my wheelhouse, so dnf. So another learning day for me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to Know Everything (ha!)

rondo 9:12 PM  

Lost wifi for a bit. OpponentS to OBJECTORS ink fest.

HEIDI Klum yeah baby.

Hope you enjoyed more than I.

EightAndEight 10:09 PM  

22-Across might explain the title of one of Oliver Sack's famous books.

Unknown 10:18 PM  

Episcopalians and probably other denominations go to Vespers quite frequently. However, it usually is pluralize.

Unknown 10:19 PM  

Also in Portland the former Wilson High School has been renamed Ida B Wells High School.

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