765-foot-long water coaster on Disney cruises / SUN 4-25-21 / Racy selfie posted for likes on social media in modern lingo / Onetime MTV reality series filmed near Hollywood / Gaming novice slangily / Fictional pilot with the line You like me because I'm a scoundrel

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Constructor: Jeremy Newton

Relative difficulty: Medium

and here's what you see when you complete the version in the app / online:

THEME: "Stretching Exercises" — muscles appear in squares that are "stretched" (i.e. the squares are actually two squares large ... though if you solve on-line (or using solving software, as I do) you are stuck with double-letters instead of stretched letters, which kind of ruins the whole premise:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: "THE HILLS" (9D: Onetime MTV reality series filmed near Hollywood) —
The Hills is an American reality television series that aired for six seasons on MTV from May 31, 2006, until July 13, 2010. Developed as a spin-off of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, the series aired six seasons and focused on the personal and professional lives of several young women and men residing in Los AngelesCalifornia. Its premise was conceived by Adam DiVello, while Liz Gateley and Sean Travis served as executive producers. [...] The Hills received moderately favorable reviews from critics, and has been recognized as a "guilty pleasure" by several media outlets. However, the series was often criticized for tending towards a narrative format more commonly seen in scripted genres including soap operas, and appearing to fabricate much of its storyline. The show has produced several spin-offs, as well as distributed all seasons to DVD. Since its conclusion, the special The Hills: That Was Then, This Is Now starring Conrad was aired on August 2, 2016, and the sequel series The Hills: New Beginnings premiered on June 24, 2019.
• • •

The biggest problem here is technical, i.e. the stretch conceit just didn't register for me. In the app, when you get the final solution correct, little elves do stretch the letters for you, it seems. And in print, the cells are pre-stretched? And then in my software version, I just had to imagine the stretching. So ... three different ways of delivering the sight gag? Sigh. The puzzle notes in my version (which I never ever ever read before I solve because they usually give away too much) basically explain to you that the paired circled squares are supposed to be single cells. Still, telling me this doesn't really change the fact that there's no way to make letters "stretch" when you're solving. You'd think that when you're taking in money hand over fist, when xword subscriptions are exploding, you'd figure out this technical stuff, but apparently not. Not yet. I guess they're trying to draw everyone onto the app with fancy after-effects (which are mostly dazzle camouflage meant to distract you from the actual Puzzle, as far as I can tell). Thursday's James Bond puzzle basically *showed* app users the fact that the "OO"s formed a "7" shape. So increasingly they're making puzzle effects app-exclusive. I don't like it. They're giving different kinds of users different experiences. It looks like solving the print edition was the way to go today, the "stretching" idea works best there. So let's assume we're all pre-Internet solvers: OK, this theme is at least interesting, and ambitious. The fill is very daring, both in ways that work and in ways that don't. But it's trying, at least. I see that ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY is trying hard to be class president, and it's definitely, uh, creative, but I just want to point out that in terms of google search results, the order of popularity goes:
  • [big dropoff]
Something about the "G" strikes my ears wrong. Like, if you're going to be that slangy, it's highly unlikely you're gonna voice the "G." Impressive that you pick up two muscles in this one very original answer, but when the slang doesn't quite land, it doesn't quite land. Further: you can tell me AQUADUCK is a thing, and I have to take your word for it, but the "on Disney cruises" part of the clue tells me this is not a thing humans should be expected to know. ROLL A TWO is a huge pile of garbage. I believe that MODEL TANKs exist ... but I don't believe they make good fill. MODEL TRAIN, hell yes. MODEL TANK? ... meh.  PECORINO CHEESE is redundant (it's just pecorino) as is (kinda) P.E. CLASS (it's usually just P.E.) (see also TEAL GREEN, wtf). But the theme does have one big winner, and that is THIRST TRAP (77A: Racy selfie posted for likes on social media, in modern lingo). It's a loser in a technical sense, which is to say that "TRAP" is not hidden / buried inside the answer (the way every other muscle in the puzzle is buried / hidden). It's a stand-alone word. So, point deduction. *But* wow it is a great fresh modern answer and I can't really believe I lived to see it in a grid. And over VANITY, double wow. I will always remember this as the THIRST TRAP puzzle (to the extent that I remember it at all).

I had HEY, ALL before HI, Y'ALL, and I think I like mine better (55A: "Howdy, everybody!"). There's something both informal and businesslike about it. I don't believe "Me! Whee!" is a POEM (1A: Muhammed Ali's "Me! Whee," e.g.). You have to put the line-break slash in between the words (i.e. "Me! / Whee!"), as George Plimpton does here when referring to Ali's poem. Otherwise, you've just got two rhyming words. Also, Plimpton renders the first word as a question (i.e. "Me? / Whee!"), which does make more sense. With just exclamation marks, it sounds insane. COEDS is sexist, why is it still in your wordlists, people? I thought we'd settled this (87A: New students at Princeton or Yale in 1969). Will I remember that there is a Bollywood megastar named Aishwarya RAI? I will definitely try (didn't even see the clue this time). Will I remember "THE HILLS" was a thing? Likely not. I'm trying hard to forget it already. I really miss PHIL Hartman. OK, gotta get back to the dog we're dog-sitting this weekend. Barkley! 

See you tomorrow,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I felt a little tired and a little head-achey the day after my second Moderna shot, but I was expecting much, much worse. My advice: hydrate (like crazy) and sleep! 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

Oh, look! Big letters!

Now I can die.

Well, I'd like to see Rex and others complain that this puzzle skewed old. And that's all I'll say about that.


Maybe I'm just cranky after the day of crosswording, etc. I've had, but all this theme did was annoy me. After solving, when all the body words "stretched" automatically, it was underwhelming, but noticeable. Yep. Saw it.



Did you know that PECORINOromano has the same number of letters as PECORINOCHEESE? I do.

I'm too tired for this. Hope everyone had a better time than I did.


@Z Are you the one who wanted to see Two Women (Sophia Loren's Oscar-winning performance and all-around wrist-slicer)? It will be on TCM Friday 4/30 at 1:30pm if you and/or others are interested.

Canon Chasuble 1:06 AM  

I had many mixed feelings about this puzzle, starting with an unaccountable confusion at the double-down letters. Some odd items (Aquaduck being a prime example), and like Rex,
I also had variants at 61 across, and I liked my versions better. 77 A was new to me and I hope I don't see it again. On the other hand, tomorrow is National Pretzel Day,
so that's something to cheer about.

jae 1:08 AM  

Medium-tough. I took a while to grok what was going on, although I had no problem treating the circled squares as one block on my iPad. Fun Sunday with some FREAKIN(G?) good seed entries. Liked it.

egsforbreakfast 1:20 AM  

Well it wasn’t real exciting. In the NYT app the stretched squares were gray and required double inputting of the letters. This kept me on tenterhooks (where does that word come from?) for a bit, but once I realized what the gimmick was it was off to the races. Loved the oblique play of THIRSTTRAP (a new phrase for me) and SEX-TRAP ( an old phrase for John X).

Overall, a very nice puzzle, Jeremy Newton.

alona 2:22 AM  

I really enjoyed ASTERISK though!

Loren Muse Smith 2:26 AM  

What a great idea for a theme. I have to agree with Rex – you’d think that the NYT could foot the bill for software to accommodate this kind of trick. I print the grid in Across Lite, and even that doesn’t cut it. The PDF is really the only way to elongate the letters of the muscles. Not Jeremy’s fault.

I have to agree, too, on the roll-your-own ROLL A TWO. No biggie, though. Didn’t ruin my day.

“Infest” before INFECT. I think I’d rather be infected with something than infested with something. At least my shame would be more private.

Wanted “Bovril” before BRIE, and before I saw how many letters. Now Bovril’s some sticky stuff. The BRIE available to me has the consistency of cheddar.

Loved, loved, loved DEFTEST.

Until this morning, I had never heard the expression THIRST TRAP. As Rex noted, cool that it’s right over VANITY. It also crosses SEXT.

INCISE – My daughter is finishing her third year of vet school and recently got to operate on some pigs. She reported that her first incision was way off-center. Said other than that, all was going along swimmingly until the farmer caught her and ran her out of the barn just kidding ba dum tss.

“Like bread made from almond flour” – disappointing.

I have to address ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY. In the world of affixes, there are prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. English just uses prefixes and suffixes. But a few years ago when I saw passerby pluralized as passersby, I thrilled to think that we had an infix, too, and held on to this belief for years. Fast forward to when I was catching up with a dear friend from my grad school days, Yasushi Yoshimoto, who went on to become a professor of linguistics in Japan – specialty morphology (how words are put together). I told him of my discovery, and he said, well, no – that S is not a pure infix. I was crestfallen. But he went on to say that English does have a pure infix, and that is the f*&$in' inserted in absolutely. (What y’all are actually arguing about is not the addition of a G but rather switching from a final velar nasal to a final alveolar nasal. No. Really.) Anyhoo, to have that spectacular entry fit, I’ll take the letter G all day every day.

“Hard vehicle to park” – any car that you’re parallel parking in front of an outdoor café while onlookers casually sip their wine and enjoy the spectacle. Sure, you can practice parallel parking that puppy just fine between the garbage cans in front of your house, but in front of an audience? While cars back up behind you? The degree of difficulty will quadruple. I guarandamntee it.

Joe Dipinto 2:58 AM  

Oh so loverly sittin' abso-bloomin'-
lutely still...

First I have to praise how absofreakinglutely incredible the Acrostic is today. (And hard-ish, to boot.) I won't elaborate, but when looking back over it post-solve, suddenly I said..."holy sh-t!" It's a classic.

Anyway...Oh look, a "Star Wars" answer. It's been four days since one of those. ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY looks better with the "G" in print, iyam, but you could say it either with or without. ROMANO after PECORINO would be better than CHEESE, but TEAL G-GREEN is fine. And the COEDS are firmly situated in 1969. BIG above SODA reminded me of Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

The stretch gimmick itself wasn't particularly exciting as it's been done before (Jeff Chen links to an example from November 2020). But some of the answers it yielded were good, so...

But do the Acrostic. You'll be Glad you did.

ZenMonkey 3:27 AM  

Weird that I stopped rewatching NewsRadio episodes to do the puzzle. PHIL HARTMAN is timelessly hilarious in it.

Andrea 4:45 AM  

I liked it.
And the themers do stretch after the solve in the NYT app.

@LMS, “guarandamntee it” is freakin’ brilliant!

Ann Howell 5:10 AM  

Solving this online with the double letters made the whole experience a bit meh. Since they were able to do the stretch letters after the solve in the reveal, you wonder why they couldn't do it as the solve went along...

Anyway, also hadn't heard of THIRST TRAP, so at least learned something new! Otherwise, it was challenging enough, but just not that sparkly.

Very happy to be reminded of PHIL Hartman... what a tragedy, but what a funny, funny man!

Zwhatever 5:15 AM  

Well, first, PuzzAzz (iPad only app) renders the puzzle exactly like my printed version.

Second, Evan Birnholz did a very similar theme not that long ago. That sort of takes the sparkle off this one. By similar I mean the whole 1 letter/2 spaces thing. Oh, and look, I forgot about the Neville Fogarty puzzle Chen mentions. These are sort of opposite of a rebus puzzle, but somehow seem less interesting to me.

I can’t think of any AB stretching exercises... Cobra Pose I guess.

Albion before SCOTIA (D’Oh - several friends will give me the side eye for that one), otherwise a clean, largely uneventful, and largely not terribly interesting solve. GLUTEN FREE was my first themer and my reaction was “a bunch of muscles being stretched. {shrug}” It’s just another example of Shortz’ definition of “wacky” being nowhere near my definition of “wacky.”

Yesterday’s comments got interesting late:
@anon2:55 yesterday - You would think but “mathematician here” is the subject, not “mathematician.”
@Anon3:12 - Coward! Rewriting is something I considered but then decided the oddity of possesivefying the “here” was just too interesting to undo.

@Barbara S - Lemon with a hint of dark chocolate is perfect.
@Frantic Sloth & @Gill I - Geez Louise! I have several JohnXish replies that I will just keep to myself.

frankbirthdaycake 5:18 AM  

The people managing the technical aspects of the NYT Crossword app are having enough trouble simply tabulating basic day-to-day functions such as completions, times, and averages. Their addition of Spelling Bee has been even worse, and many if the functions cannot sync between platforms and/or devices (e.g. between the app and web versions). It is completely unrealistic to expect they will be able to change the software on an as-needed basis, when they cannot seem to manage the basics. I use the NYT app because it is portable and convenient, not because it is the most satisfying way to solve a crossword puzzle. I would like to have seen the stretch while solving today’s puzzle, but it was not possible. I’m somehow going to have to find a way to live with it because solving on a PDF would be decidedly inconvenient and cause far more stress than missing out on an occasional graphic.

Rex, feel free to print a PDF if you’d like. Feel free to suggest that people do the same. But don’t “*insist*” that others be forced to do the same. I shuddered when I read “If it only works in print, then *insist* that digital solvers print a PDF.” Then I considered the source. Embrace diversity and stop insisting on conformity, especially for the sake of aesthetics. Better yet, take a nap; it sounds like you need one.

JOHN X 5:21 AM  

This puzzle was challenging until I figured out the gimmick, then it got fast and easy, until I got to the NE finish it off, and then I ended at 17D "Smart." Shit. I had SHIN which made no sense so I did what I never do: I hit the "Check Puzzle" button. DNF. My life is over; I'm farting dust.

Also, who goes on a sea cruise so they can use the on-board water park? That's just seems stupid. If I learned anything from The Love Boat is that cruise ships are where you go to get laid, and that a large cruise ship can be run by five people. I was an engineer in the submarine service and trust me I have zero interest in ever going to sea again. But I did learn to swear like a Shakespearean pro.

Speaking of swearing, I learned "infix" from LMS today, and I like learning real good. However, she gives her example as if it's the only one. Absof*cking*ddamlutely not! I assume LMS was never in the submarine service, which makes sense since it's omnes viri, but if she or you had been there you would have heard the sheer poetry of good naval swearing. It has meter and inflection, and the words must be chosen skillfully for maximum impact. It's an art form. They are profanities and not vulgarities, which is just coarseness. Profanities appeal to God by insulting him, an act of divine worship and therefore an act of piety, and you better f*ckin' believe it, Bucko, and you too God and also Jesus and all your holy g**d*m c**k-s**king angels.

(Is today Sunday?)

Two of my all-time favorite "stock slang phrases" involved bowel movements (hey everybody poops don't act shocked). Evacuating one's bowels underway was sometimes known as:

A) Dropping an O-4

B) Putting the Marines ashore

I've never constructed a crossword (and I admire anyone who has - you're better than me) but if I did I would like to fill it with a combination of horrible swear words, murderous despots, and all sorts of arcane engineering terms. I think everybody would really enjoy that and I would become famous.

NOTE 1: "O-4" is the pay grade of a Lieuf*ckintenant Commander, equivalent to a Major in the other services

NOTE 2: I believe the submarine service has gone COED recently. Don't ask me how that works. I think broads are still not allowed in the Engineering Department, because they're bad luck.

Conrad 6:24 AM  

When Michael Kay is covering a baseball game that goes into extra innings, he proclaims "Free Baseball!" I read the notes, realized that the letters would be duplicated and proclaimed "Free Answers!" The gimmick had the net effect of shortening the puzzle by 25 letters. Neither intrinsically good nor bad, but an interesting change for a Sunday.

I agree with @frankbirthdaycake about not forcing solvers to print the .pdf. The one thing I like about solving online or in an app is that it's easy to correct mistakes without making the puzzle look like a patchwork quilt. If I were forced to solve on paper, I wouldn't solve that day. Unlike @Rex, I make plenty of mistakes.


diver 7:15 AM  

Um, no. Not fun. Oh gee look, another bunch of double letters. Gosh, isn't that clever.

Tom T 7:21 AM  

I would have nailed "87A: New students at Princeton or Yale in 1969," instantly if I had bothered to read the entire clue. I graduated high school in 1969 and was wait-listed at Yale. At first, the admissions folks told me it looked likely that I would be a "new student." In the end, they said they had failed to anticipate how few of the students who were offered admission turned them down--apparently the addition of COEDS made Yale a much more popular choice among 18 year old males. Well, duh!

Anyway, I stopped reading the clue after the word "Yale" and thought it must be looking for some Ivy League code (not COED) word for freshmen.

Loren Muse Smith, you made me laugh a lot this morning. Thanks!

SouthsideJohnny 7:42 AM  

It definitely turned out to be a lot of work for not much of a payoff. I too am on the NYT app, so I never got the “stretching” convention - I just noticed a bunch of repeat letters and kept plugging along knowing, but not caring that there was a theme buried there somewhere.

On many days (like today) when the theme doesn’t really work, it’s presence really becomes more of an annoyance than anything else. Would much rather have a nice clean, non-contrived theme surrounded by fill that doesn’t seem forced and nonsensical (like ROLL A TWO and MODEL TANK). Just personal preference - I’m sure some others will enjoy parsing out the cryptic, repeating letters and figuring out the hidden words, etc. - by all means, have at it !

bocamp 7:57 AM  

Thank you @Jeremy for a very challenging and fun adventure; enjoyed every minute of it! :)

Tough, but not too tough.

Pretty much on a different wavelength most of the way; once again fair crosses came to the rescue. Also had an issue with the iPad format. Finally, just filled in the empty shaded cells to match those either above or below them.

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Barbara S. 8:04 AM  

I saw Rex’s picture of the dog (with cat in background – how sweet) and got all excited that Rex had adopted a new dog! After all his sad bereavements of a year or so ago. Oh well, dog-sitting will have to do.

I normally like Sunday puzzles, but I hate to say I found this one a slog. There were many places where I was I was oddly dense and stared slack-jawed at blank squares, and many other places where I tried answers that didn’t work. I got on to the theme quite quickly, so it wasn’t that – I guess the constructor and I just weren’t meshing mentally. I didn’t know AQUAQDUCK or THIRST TRAP, thought SYFY was SiFi so couldn’t see HIYALL, took a long time to see and make sense of ASBOFREAKINGLUTELY, and was convinced that Mr. DEL TORO’s first name was BENItO, which was one letter too short. I asked myself: Does he have a middle initial? And I kept getting little words wrong with disastrous consequences for longer answers: mIn for BIG, pOsy for SODA, Roy for RAI, body for ORAL, Oho for OOH, FoTO? For FSTOP, atra for TRAC, and on and on. I thought this theme of letters expanding over two squares was familiar, so I’m glad others have confirmed it. Anyway, I prevailed with no cheats and when it was finally all done, I wondered why I’d had so much trouble with it – and the wonder hasn’t ceased. “My mama said there’d be days like this/There’ll be days like this my mama said.”

Today I have a poem by TED KOOSER, born Apr. 25, 1939.


On a parking lot staircase
I met two fine-looking men
descending, both in slacks
and dress shirts, neckties
much alike, one of the men
in his sixties, the other
a good twenty years older,
unsteady on his polished shoes,
a son and his father, I knew
from their looks, the son with his
right hand on the handrail,
the father, left hand on the left,
and in the middle they were
holding hands, and when I neared,
they opened the simple gate
of their interwoven fingers
to let me pass, then reached out
for each other and continued on.

Colin 8:12 AM  

Dang, I didn't even get that these were all muscles! I saw the letters stretched, and that wowed me enough. Well, I'm an idiot. Took me a long time to get ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY, as I stared and stared at "GLUTELY", trying to come up with some word. And unlike Rex, I have no problem with MODELTANK... As soon as I saw MODEL, I knew there were only a few options, like model ships, planes, soldiers, and tanks.

Missed AQUADUCK - had AQUADECK instead (hey, that kinda makes sense on a ship). AQUADUCK reminds me of the four birds of the thoracic cage (chest):
- The esophaGOOSE (esophagus)
- The vaGOOSE nerve
- The azyGOOSE vein
- And finally, the thoracic DUCK (duct)

Sorry I missed y'all last week - visited my dad for the first time in over a year. Hope to see him more often while COVID-19 restrictions are softer.


This is the first puzzle my wife and I finished. We’ve stupid

Lobster11 8:22 AM  

Didn't enjoy this much for a couple of reasons. My first thought upon seeing the (print version) of the grid was, "Didn't we just do this 'stretched-squares' thing a few months ago? Yes, and I didn't love it then and wasn't looking forward to it again. My second thought, upon getting PEC and AB, was that I couldn't think of a duller theme than "muscle nicknames," other than perhaps "New Deal agencies." So, "meh" from me.

Son Volt 8:43 AM  

Liked a lot of the fill here - but it didn’t overcome the nuisance of the app solve and the Disney cruise clue. We’re peppered everyday with Harry Potter, LOTR, Streisand etc. - ok loathsome but I’ll suck it up. But a water slide on a Disney ship - a complete outlier and not one of interest.

ICE AGE adjacent to RED HOT was great - add the wonderful SNEERY and that entire block was top notch. Didn’t know THE HILLS or THIRST TRAP. SCOTIA in recent history is taken as land of the Scots - but began as an ethnic term for everything Gaelic.

The solve process was a pain in the freakinass - notice no g.

TJS 8:59 AM  

I ended up liking this one for the fill, not the trick, One of the better Sundays, imo.
What the hell's wrong with model tanks?

Another absolute gem from the "X" man.

pmdm 9:05 AM  

The point of the theme is that a lot of people (not myself, being stupid) stretch after exercising. The theme more involves what what resides inside the stretched boxes than the concept of stretching the boxes. I only point this out because not all here seem to have gotten beyond the way the stretched boxes look. I must admit I totally missed the concept that names of muscles filled the stretched boxes.

The NYT makes its money from publishing the puzzles, not from developing software. So if you have to plunk a few dollars down to increase enjoyment of the solve, I suppose it's not up to the NYT to steal that source of income from the software developers. I guess it's kind of similar to the OS authoring companies (Microsoft, Apple) providing other companies with the opportunity of adding useful enhancements to how there OSs work. Nevertheless, I still would be irked if I paid for a subscription to the puzzles and had to shell out more money elsewhere to improve the solving experience. But its seems obvious to me that the NYT is not interested in the software development and, without a big change in top management, will continue to ignore the issue.

As an aside, I guess today's acrostic was tied in to earth day (which I do not consider a spoiler since I doubt that information helps one solve tje 25 clues). I would agree that it was enjoyable.

Teedmn 9:35 AM  

THIRST TRAP makes me so happy I grew up before online social media.

I read the note that accompanied the puzzle but must have quit right before the "to form a single cell" because it was a long time into the puzzle (almost 20 minutes) before I realized that FOODs was, in fact, FOODD, 15A. Things went a bit faster after that. At least I finally realized why EXCEL, SAUL, SEXT, ETC., etc., didn't fit early in the solve.

Thanks, Jeremy Newton.

Blue Stater 9:53 AM  

Corrupting the puzzle with the app is a new WS method of junkifying the experience with smart-assery. I hate to give out this award so often, but I've been doing these for 70 years and this one feels like the worst, certainly the worst Sunday. Congratulations all round.

CreamyT 10:02 AM  

Just wanted to make a post on those (including Rex) complaining about "they make money why can't the software do X"

This would likely be several weeks, and possibly months of work, and bring up new bugs with old puzzles. I promise you, as a web developer, everything is harder than you think. Most likely, the application was very much built in the mindset of single squares existing in a grid. The way it checks squares, moves between squares, displays squares, highlights squares, draws patterns or colors over squares, ALL assume it's a simple grid.

Altering this would likely require altering huge amounts of logic, which not only takes time, but introduces new bugs. It also might alter how the editor/importer works. And all of this for one puzzle. Even if ONE decent developer worked on the application (it's likely more), assuming this is developed in electron, could easily cost $10-20k in man hours to implement, test, and bug-fix. And again, it may very well break old puzzles.

Please, just take it from someone who does this professionally, application development is ALWAYS harder than you think. Even developers are notorious for under-estimating implementation times.

AAW926 10:05 AM  

At first I thought I’d never do this one but I persisted. Once I got the theme it went smoothly.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Query for The Veterans. When multiple squares are merged, is it always the case that the content will be a single letter, or could it be a phrase, rebus, pile o' dung? Not being sure whether the obvious (just a letter) answer was The Answer, I wasted lots of time avoiding them until the 'normal' answers made it clear.

Jim in Canada 10:07 AM  

Too bad Rex's inferior app led him to unfairly judge this puzzle before he even got started. I thought it was the most fun Sunday puzzle in ages. FYI, the "Puzzazz" app showed the grid as it should've been, and has also correctly displayed the grid for the last hundred or so puzzles that Rex has complained were screwed up "in the app". Maybe switch your app?

Anyway, the theme was neither here nor there for me, but I applaud the inclusion of some interesting answers like ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY, BENECIO DEL TORO, THIRST TRAP, etc. I also applaud the relative lack of crap fill that crossword veterans can fill in their sleep, but are relatively unknown to anyone else.

To address some of Rex's issues (aside from his crap app), the constructor is from Texas. I also grew up in Texas and I can tell you that there absofreakinglutely is a "g" pronounced in that word down there. It's also very, very common to hear the likes of "pecorino cheese" and "teal green" regardless of how redundant that might sound to others. Perhaps the speaker is attempting to circumvent any awkwardness if the listener doesn't already know that pecorino is a cheese or teal is a greenish colour. It is Texas, after all.

I had a big smile when I dropped in "Hi Y'all" and it was right. For those that put "Hey All", that mistake's on you, since the clue included the massive hint HOWDY. Doesn't really matter whether you 'like yours better' because the clue said HOWDY which puts it in Texas lingo and not one damn person in that state would ever say "Hey, all". Never. Not once. But 'Hi, y'all' happens several times a day.

Agreed about COEDS being an antiquated sexist term, but the clue is set in 1969 and so the answer is valid, if cringe-worthy.

Normally, I'd be upset at including a proper name or brand name that's going to be unknown to most solvers and is crossed by other proper names, but even if you've never heard of AQUADUCK (and seriously, taking a Disney cruise is on my to-do list about six or seven places below "saw off my toes with a herring" because it sounds like a fate worse than death, being stuck at sea with all those screaming children and their parents who treat the ship like a babysitter) the crosses made it gettable. Not to mention that the clue says it's a "water coaster" so AQUA fills itself in pretty quickly already and most things Disney reference one of their characters, in this case (probably) Donald Duck, and the punny nature of the name fits the Disney mold as well. I actually fleshed it out before I got the crosses, even though I'd never heard of it... and FWIW, I love the name. If you're unfamiliar, a "water coaster" is a type of water slide ridden in rafts that is very similar to an aqueduct, but it has uphill sections navigated by powerful water jets that propel the rafts uphill. Again, the constructor lives in Austin, which is just a few minutes' drive from Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, a place absolutely familiar to everyone in Texas, as well as anyone into theme parks and such. It's been voted Best Waterpark for 21 straight years at the Golden Ticket Awards (the amusement industry's "Oscars") and is considered a bucket-list destination for water park fans.

But hey, if you want to cry foul over that still not being commonplace knowledge enough for some folks, that's fine. I say the same thing when I'm expected to come up with some rapper's name or the name of some person who plays a sport I don't follow (which is all of them).

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot.

CreamyT 10:07 AM  

I made a whole reply but I still feel the need to respond to this. Please, please, please trust me, as a professional web developer, that this stuff is NOT easy. People seem to love to call developers lazy or incompetent when there's a bug in an application, without the slightest clue what is involved with app development. The reason bugs exist in most applications, in most operating systems, and in most software in general, is because it's extraordinarily hard, if not impossible, to develop complex applications without them.

And as soon as you focus on extremely stable software, people start complaining about new features (as is rampant in this blog post/replies), which immediately will introduce new bugs, especially it changes some of the core logic as to how puzzles are laid out, because you have to change an enormous amount of functions that are dependent on one other.

Edward 10:13 AM  

Stupid online solving Q: When I completed the puzzle today, I got the "one square is wrong" message. Spent a couple of minutes trying to to find it and could not. Clicked on "reveal" (thus ending my streak) and, once revealed, it showed that all of the squares were correct - that I hadn't made any errors. What gives?

That annoyance outweighed my general impression of the puzzle, which was that it was trying too hard to be clever. Curious if anyone else had PECORINO ROMANO and that threw off that section of the puzzle until you realized it was supposed to be PECORINO CHEESE (come on, noboy says that!).

Hungry Mother 10:23 AM  

I’ve done 18 triathlons and hiked up Half DOME, so at least part of this grid was easy. I’m also a twice-certified aerobics instructor, so the muscle groups were a natural as well. Nothing else was a problem either. Very quick Sunday solve for me.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Z, oh dear. Mathematician here is the subject. Friend that is not correct. Here is simply an adverb describing where the mathematicians are.

Hungry Mother 10:36 AM  

@CreamyT: when I taught Software Engineering, I pointed out to the students that the realistic time estimate for a project is never acceptable because of cost. Late software is not really late, it’s just underestimated on purpose. There is no solution for this problem.

Banya 10:39 AM  

If you ever get a chance to take a Disney Cruise (superior to most cruise lines imo) ride the Aquaduck. It's a lot of fun.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Depressing puzzle for me, not because of the puzzle itself but because of the theme. The lockdown gave me the opportunity (1) to work on my body and (2) to work on my Greek, and of course I did neither.

Re 65A, TUX as "certain formal duds," I wonder how things are now defined. If we contemplate blowing our stimulus checks on that special gala, before we put a down-payment on the expected clothes, we should see how our hosts are defining their terms. I thought *tux* was technically "semi-formal." Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe things have changed.

I tripped up early in this puzzle, on 66A, Nice round number, which I was sure was a misdirection for a round number in Nice, and I could think of nothing in French that would fit.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Jim in Canada,
You sound fun.

Signed, a smoking hot coed

OldCarFudd 10:59 AM  

Australian English has an inescapable infix: bloody! Example: Major city in Hawaii: Honobloodylulu.

GILL I. 11:02 AM  

Well I guess I'm the outlier today because I gave it my cool beans Sunday award. I must live in a cave because I haven't seen this done before.
I only down load to paper. I've tried doing the puzzles on my iPad and on my phone. Yuck....You can add an F if you want because my THIRST TRAP runneth over.
Anyway.....It did take me a while to figure out what muscle I should be flexing. When I got to the QUAD QUAD, I let out a little GLUTE scream and did the DELT dance with BENICIO DEL TORO. Yummm.
@John X. You out-did yourself today. I'm trying to imagine spending hours in a submarine with you in control. May Day, May Day.
I'm dense....Why is CO ED a word that should be banned? I worked for Beaver College (Don't ask) and when they went co-ed, everyone was happy.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

But its seems obvious to me that the NYT is not interested in the software development and, without a big change in top management, will continue to ignore the issue.

Another case in point: we do the Dead Trees version, and over the last few years, more of the illustration is color. In the last few months, the color registration would, sometimes, get so bad it hurt to look at the picture(s). So, I sent a Letter to the Editor, a very snarky one too boot, complaining that printing ought to be close to the top in Newspaper Competency, and the inability to print all those color pictures, that the NYT insists on displaying, in a viewable way kinda, sorta incompetent.

Well, some days go by, and lo and behold I get an email from someone in the printing division, asking some questions. It turns out that page 4 of each section has a number (or used to, more below) in the lower left hand corner which names the machine. What number? Which pictures on which pages are mis-registered? In each case, a little bit or a lot? And so on. I responded over the next week or so. It seemed odd, still does, that the NYT printing division appears to not QA the print run in real time.

I ended up not being the external QA department after a short time. Turns out that there must be a switch some place in the system which replaces the machine number with a neat black square. So, it appears, no way to identify the machine(s) which are screwing up.

The punchline: this mis-registration tsunami has a root cause and onset, which is a New Bit of software which is designed specifically to improve registration. Not clear whether it was developed in house or bought in, though my sense is the latter. Whether the root cause is that the software is lousy or the NYT printing division can't seem to configure it to work right, the outcome is the same; been going on for months.

Nancy 11:06 AM  

At first it looked as though its bark would be bigger than its bite. Daunting to contemplate at first -- at least for me -- but once I had the idea, it would get easier, right?

Not so fast.

As a spatial-relations challenged person, I kept seeing things wrong. What was I to make of my answer ELITE SQUADUCK where I wanted ELITE SQUADRON? And what was MODEL TORO? I kept seeing the wrong beginning paired with the wrong ending. Did I see that ELITE SQUAD came to a complete stop at the black square? No, I didn't.

So I finished the whole thing in what felt like a whole day -- confused and frankly exhausted. (It could be the result of still feeling fatigue symptoms 9 days after my first Covid shot.) For me -- very challenging. For you -- maybe not so much. But I managed to finish without a single cheat and, once finished, all the answers ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY fell into place. Whew.

Carola 11:13 AM  

HUH. I expected to come here to find a chorus of paeans to this witty puzzle and couldn't be more surprised at the lukewarm-and-downhill-from-there responses. I thought it was absolutely wonderful, with the addition of "freaking" to the center stretch a stroke of genius. PEC and QUAD alerted me to the theme, and I loved seeing how creatively the constructor built his muscles into the grid.
Working down the right side, I easily combined GLUTE with -NFREE and understood that LUTELY was the completion for its companion....which was obviously impossible. It was very fun to be proven wrong on that.
Toughest spot: THIRST TRAP, which I'd never heard of; my first wrong guess was that the photo would show something "racy" like a "bra STRAP" - you can tell how old I am from that.

@Jeremy Newton - This was terrific, the most enjoyable Sunday in a long while.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

Oh, good grief. I missed the entire "they're all muscles being stretched!" thing. And if it hadn't been mentioned here, I probably never would have known.

Of course this makes the whole puzzle cleverer and more amusing by a factor of, oh I don't know, maybe a hundred?

bocamp 11:34 AM  

@CreamyT (10:02 & 10:07 AM)

Thx for the insights. :)

@Jim in Canada (10:07 AM)

Thx for the 'Puzzazz' app tip; it's as you indicated. Would have made the puz a med. solve, rather than tough. :)

pg -5

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Good opportunity to stretch yer brain muscles.

@RP: One ignores the crossword Note at one's own nanoseconds peril.
@RP 2: Great Barkley dog pic. With concerned kitty cautiously positioned under a chair. har. Like.

staff weeject pick: AB. The rare 2-letter weeject opportunity. Sort of. Close enough.

Only complaint: Puzgrid kept lookin like it wasn't absocompletely filled in, even after I'd already filled it all in.

Thanx, Mr. Newton. Nice job.

Masked & Anonymo14Us


Mikey from El Prado 11:45 AM  

Sunday is the only day of the week I solve on paper, in the paper, in the magazine..... So, no software issues. But, while I got the common letters part of the theme I complete missed that they were short versions of muscles being stretched. Doh! And couldn’t figure out why the common “O” in BENICIODELTORO and MODELTANK wasn’t stretched.

I need more coffee.

GHarris 11:59 AM  

Being a Luddite I can’t really complain when frustrated by tech issues. However, when I put in all the letters and sat back expectantly waiting for the grand finale ( or its hated relative ( “ oh so close, keep trying”) and the screen just silently and stupidly stared back at me I really got pissed and had to push the reveal puzzle button to learn that I had done it all correctly but failed to stretch the double letters into single, long ones.
@ Barbara S I loved the poem Two. Thank you.

albatross shell 11:59 AM  

I felt "dense" and "not on the same wavelength" after 1D,2D,3D I had words starting with E. It continued much that way until I zigzagged down to Mr. Bellow. SAUL was absofreakinglutely right and I got how the gray matter worked. So when I got to GLUTEFREE I immediately tied to put in YOU BET YOUR GLUTEUS. One freakin letter short. And my grey matter was still not working because it took halfway to forever to figure out that 50 divided by 50 is ONE.

When I say "you don’t say" I don't mean the same thing as when I say HUH, but I can see certain shades of doubt in both. So good enough.

As to Rex's complaints: they are very much the NITTIest types of nits. The extra G? When your getting GLUTE and ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY out of it? @Jim in Canada and the computer geeks pretty much got it right. It would be nice to know that the Times was at least trying to get the APP to work for the puzzles it is printing. If they are saving money by not doing so, then cut us in and give us a free year.

What I want to know is why an AQUADUCK?

@Edward 1013am
That happened to me once, but never again. Got the happy music too.

What I want to know is why an AQUADUCK?

Nancy 12:10 PM  

Once again we have a puzzle where more than 50% of the comments are about the software problems of solving online. Now, all of you saw that I had plenty of problems solving this thing even without dealing with any software problems. If I'd had to deal with all of that too...

So I'm thinking that Not solving Online Today is something for which I should be profoundly grateful. I also highly recommend solving on paper to every last one of you. As @Z always likes to say, it's the way God intended for puzzles to be solved.

albatross shell 12:21 PM  

@GIll I.
I was at Beaver for only one day. Nice looking place. That was before they changed the name. I had one friend who went there. She hated the name change, only because she had to explain to her genteel grandmother why they changed the name. I thought it might give a new meaning to Arcadia, but it failed to do so unfortunately.

sixtyni yogini 12:24 PM  

Not even a bit of fun. 🙄🧩🚫🧩🙄

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Gill ,
I read a comment from a Brave College muckety-muck that the name change was precipitated by a foreign student arriving At PHL international and asking for a ride to Beaver only to find himself Beaver, Pa., which is about 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh.
It was a ludicrous thing to,say, but I’m wondering if you had heard that particular tale.

jae 12:37 PM  

@bocamp - just finished Croce's Freestyle #605. Tough but doable, good luck!

@Mathgent re: the GLUTE pain you mentioned a couple of days ago. You might want to google Piriformis syndrome to see if that could be what is going on. The good news is that Piriformis syndrome is treatable with exercise and stretches.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

I was 100% certain that what happened at Yale and Princeton in 1969 was the first admission of women. So of course I confidently wrote in wOmen. :(

GILL I. 12:49 PM  

@albatross 12:21....I worked at Beaver as the assistant admissions counselor. During faculty meetings we had one professor who'd get up at the podium and talk and yak about changing the name of the college. Mind you, this one professor also pronounced cum laude as "cum loud"....Anyway, I had no idea why they wanted to change the name until the head of the department told me what "Beaver" meant. I thought at least if it went COED, no one would mind. The name change came much after I left. And yes.....Glenside is beautiful.

Peter P 12:49 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith -- Back in my linguistics class some twenty-five years ago, "bloody" was another example of an English infix, which is clearly the same idea as "f***ing", except across the pond. So we had "bloody," "freaking," "f***ing" as the main three.

There's a nice Youtube video about expletive infixation: (no bad language): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt22yWYX64w

I've always parsed "a whole nother" to be an example of infixation, and it seems some linguists do, but there are other explanations of it, one that it is an example of metanalysis where word boundaries get split up, so instead of "another" being split into "an other" (its original form) it got rebracketed to "a nother." We see this in words like "apron," which was originally "a napron" being rebracketed to "an apron" or, in the other direction "a newt," which was originally "an ewt."

Zwhatever 12:55 PM  

@Creamy T - Having lived through too many software updates, including a county-wide student information system update of 25+ year-old software, I agree. Still, as has been pointed out twice now, PuzzAzz (App Store version history goes back 7 years to version 3.1 - company was founded in 2008) has been faithfully recreating the print version for many years. As I understand it (very limitedly) PuzzAzz uses a different file format than .puz or .jpz to accomplish this. Why the NYT did not hire PuzzAzz when it created its proprietary app has always made me scratch my head for the very reasons you cite. Why PuzzAzz continues to be iOs/Mac only also makes me scratch my head.

@10:07 - Every puzzle like this that I remember doing had a single letter in the extra large square. Which, of course, means some genius is working on a stretched rebus as we write.

@Gill I - The “co” part of “co-ed” implies that college is for men and allowing women access is secondary to the school’s real purpose. Yes, it is a very small thing, a “micro-aggression” as it were. But the underlying assumption that men are “students” and women are “co-educational students” screams sexism when you pause to consider what the language is really saying.

Zwhatever 1:01 PM  

Thanks to @Gill I will again point out that I-75 north of Detroit takes some seemingly unnecessary curves and I always assume it is because the highway planners were intent on making sure Exit 69 happened at Big Beaver Road.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Piffle. Co has no such implication.
When men began to be admitted to Vassar, also in 1969, there was such claim. It went from an all girls to coed . No aggresssin, macro or micro.

bocamp 1:09 PM  

@jae (12:37 PM) 👍

Look forward to tackling it this week! :)

pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Malsdemare 1:23 PM  

@Gil, Z is right, as far as he goes. But COED is part of the system of defining women in terms of men: stewardess, waitress, postmistress, woman doctor, etc. Thank god we’re moving away from that, although I prefer the changes shift to gender neutral terms, like “chair” rather than chairwoman / man.

@anonymous 1:08 Nonsense; nobody called the men “coeds.”

Puzzle was okay. @LMS, I love your avatar!

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

This is a weird one, but since you mentioned Glenside.....
There’s an exterminating company called Humphrey’s in Glenside. At one time they had a fairly extensive display of insects pinned, mounted with taxonomic info. in what I can only describe as a mini bug museum. It was really quite something. I was there on a Cub Scout trip. I swear I’m not hallucinating. Was this a known thing in that town?

PhysGraf 1:27 PM  

Did the puzzle on my laptop and it rendered the same as the app. I saw the note but didn't understand it (what circles???).

I am glad to have done it online because it was more challenging to figure out that the shaded areas repeated below but that the repeats didn't factor into the down answers. I prefer a challenge over a gimmick and didn't notice the theme until I read it here. The them would have thrown me off anyway because I never heard of a TRAP muscle and would have spent a long time trying to replace it with a known muscle.

I vaguely recall the trick being used before but it's been long enough that it didn't take away from the experience. Since many people only do the Sunday version, this would have definitely be new to most.

I pronounce the G in absofreakinglutely because the "freaking" (or the more common "f@!king") is meant to be overemphasized and not elided.

Didn't know "coeds" was sexist but I can potentially see why. It just sounds very archaic to those of us born well after 1969 who have never known segregation of the sexes and, for the most part, have gone to colleges where females outnumber males.

Anoa Bob 1:31 PM  

Stretching a QUAD or a GLEUT, yeah I do those but are there stretching exercises targeting a PEC, AB, TRAP, LAT or DELT? Sounds like a bit if a stretch to me.

gdaddywinz 1:41 PM  

We use Across Lite and there wasn't a note. I think that made it easier because I interpreted the down answers with repeated letters as "stretched". Didn't pick up on the muscle connection until later.

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

Actually they did. But the point is the word. Or prefix. And it is not a disparagement. Vassar did not become a lesser institution when it became coed. Just as Yale did not.
As for the suffixes defining women in terms of men, more poppycock.
It’s part of the cult of the aggrieved. Do you really believe the best actress Oscar will be awarded to someone who is being defined in terms of men?

Suzafish 1:49 PM  


Douglas 1:52 PM  

Oh look - someone complaining about a Star Wars clue. It must have been about a day since that’s happened. We get it. Your intellect puts you above Star Wars. Get over yourself.

Sharonak 1:55 PM  

Why would anyone object to "coed"? Even if it had not been clearly set in the past when it was a totally accepted word.

I had no idea it had been banished somehow it just means a female university student to me.

Carola 2:03 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 2:58 - Thank you for your comment on the acrostic. I usually do a post-solve review but today's needed extra scrutiny. Quite something!

@Peter P 12:49 - Thank you for the infix video link.

GILL I. 2:23 PM  

@Anony 12:30. I never heard that story but it's funny given that Beaver PA is a zillion miles away from Glenside.....It was the male faculty that wanted the name change. I suppose they didn't want male recruits to be named the Beavers..... :-)
@Z 1:01. Ye gads...I can always count on you to make me ponder my belly button.
@Mals 1:23. ....I'm at a point in my life now that I'm afraid to open my big mouth lest I offend. For years I called people of Asian origin, Orientals . I love that word. It conjures up images of romanticism and all things exotic. Now I find I can't use the word unless I'm referring to a rug! COED never meant anything to me other than female and male students. Beaver started out as an all female seminary in Beaver, Pa and was thrilled to become "COED" and allowing the opposite sex to mingle with the smart women.
@Anony 1:25. Glenside was a very small. I think it only had one little restaurant (Italian, of course); it had a HoJo's where we ate hamburgers, and the downtown had one bank. If I wanted to buy wine, I had to borrow someones car and practically drive to Philadelphia. But...I'm sure Humphrey's existed somewhere in that pretty little town; I just was never interested in dead bugs!

Rug Crazy 2:26 PM  

Moaned through this. Finished it anyway. Meh

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Despite what Rex thinks, pecorino cheese is not redundant as pecorino means made from sheep's milk.

JOHN X 2:36 PM  

Regarding today's discussion on the appropriateness of the term COED, I think Deana Michaels examined the topic very well, particularly from the faculty standpoint and it's impact on female students. It's a very interesting read, check it out.

What? 2:40 PM  

Two things I wish I could do. One, construct a good crossword (I already can make bad ones) and two, write somethings witty for this blog so I will be routinely referenced. Oh well, I know about DNA and stuff, so there’s that.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  


Puleeeezzee Louise!! one JOHN X is enough.

RooMonster 3:31 PM  

Hey All !
Or should it be

Neat puz. Actually had to print out and do on paper, as I started work early today. Good thing too, as I got the "stretched" squares. (Well, it was actually missing lines which made one square into two.) Kinds freaky looking grid when it was empty. Thought it would be one-letter-in-two-spots originally, but then thought 2D was HALF, so held off of that thought until later, when I got TRAP. That NW was third-to-last area to go, as that 50/50 clue was confounding. Thanks to @albatross for explaining it was division. Never would've gotten /=division.

Did finish 100% correct, however! And saw they would all be muscles after having QUAD, GLUTES, and TRAP. Got hung up a tad at BEST RAPPERsomething. Aha, BEST RAP PERFORMER.

So a pretty neat SunPuz. After all this muscle stretching, I'm pooped out.

Four F's (None stretched 🤪)

Nancy 3:31 PM  

I must say that I don't understand the problem with the word COED. CO means equal to or jointly. Co-owner; co-sponsor; co-signatory. If women were considered "less than" the word would be SUB-ED. I think COED is both a perfectly inoffensive and a very useful word.

Nancy 3:39 PM  

I should clarify by saying COED is inoffensive and useful when it's used to describe the school, but not inoffensive when it's used to describe the woman. And that's because a male at Vassar would never be described as a COED.

Scott 4:23 PM  

I started this puzzle on paper and once I figured out there would be repeated stacked letters, I initially stretched the letters but quickly just doubled them up instead, it was easier for me to solve this way. Switched to the computer 85% of the way once I got stuck (NE corner was killing me!) and didn't catch the stretching-muscles theme until completion. Ultimately, thought it was fun.

Loved ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY, ATTED, RASSLED and THIRSTTRAP. Consider me shocked, shocked, that very few of you knew THIRSTTRAP.

Biggest, dumbest blind spot for me today: NAP/PAR. Couldn't see anything but NIP and wondered what-in-the-hell PIR was. D'oh!

jeezmom 5:04 PM  

Your reviews awaken my nostalgia for Rex Reed.

JC66 5:13 PM  

I agree with @Nancy. Referring to an institution of learning as COED is fine, calling female students COED is not. It's a chink in the armor of our society that some people can't take context into account and see the difference.

Joe Dipinto 5:23 PM  

@JC66 – You said "chink". I'm telling.

Swimwolff 5:29 PM  

As a physical Education teacher (who took a while on THAT clue —“Course taken in shorts often”) I am just glad it wasn’t “gym class”...

TTrimble 5:32 PM  

Solved the puzzle in a time midway between recent solving times and my historical average. It felt like somewhat slow going. I wasn't crazy about it -- online you enter the same letters in the grayed line below as above -- a somewhat dull gimmick. But okay.

What I don't get is all the acclaim about THIRST TRAP. (Fresh! So fresh! Freshy fresh!) Actually, in the first place what I really don't get is the phrase itself. Is THIRST just supposed to be a synonym for lust? Is that a common thing? Would "hunger" do just as well? Is there supposed to be something witty or punny about the phrase? If not, then is the only reason it's considered "fresh" is because some young people are using it? I just don't see what's so compelling about this. To me, it sounds a little dumb.

(Okay, settle down Mr. Cranky Pants some of you might be saying. Actually, despite possible appearances, I'm in a pretty darned good mood today.)

Re the Acrostic (see @Joe Dipinto's comment): I didn't find it hard; finished it in a time that's reasonably fast for me. However, the quotation did cause me to muse in wonderment, so in that sense I share Joe's enjoyment, and second the recommendation to others.

The SB might take a little while though. Yesterday's was a little nasty. I'm not at Genius yet for today's.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

As a male nurse, should I be offended that I’m being defined in terms of women?

Let me know, as I don’t want to pass up an opportunity to be aggrieved.

Donna 5:50 PM  

As soon as I saw the grid, I knew what the trick would be. Evan Birnholz's puzzle from March 14, "Big Little Lies," used a similar trick. The "big" letters in the squares spelled tiny, mini, and wee. Whee!

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

Yes, I agree ... it wasn’t as much fun when you couldn’t stretch the letters. But I enjoyed it anyhow. This kind of theme gives you a lot (as soon as you figure out the trick, it’s easy to guess the other muscles and then you have much of the fill for two clues). Regarding the second Moderna shot, congrats! I had slightly more issues than you after the second Moderna (headache, dizziness, swollen lymph nodes, etc.), but got much better after a day and, come Tuesday, will be at full efficacy. Can’t wait. Stay healthy!

Sandy McCroskey 6:41 PM  

I printed this out from the Times site, as always, where there were no circles for the theme answers but big stretched spaces, and I enjoyed writing in the tall letters for the muscle words, which made my copy look really cool when I was finished.

Katmat 6:51 PM  

First and foremost, Barkley is adorable.
I really like my Sunday crossword to be straightforward with no “gimmicks.
This one I did not love.

TTrimble 7:11 PM  

@Anonymous 5:44 PM
I'm guessing that if I were a male nurse, I'd sooner feel aggrieved by how many people look upon this occupation as somehow less than being a doctor, and wondering what stopped you from doing the same, than I would by the "male" in front of "nurse".

But go ahead: feel aggrieved by whatever suits your fancy.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

But being a nurse does require less than being a doctor. A lot less. That’s a fact it’s true.it’s unassailable,e. No star in the Union licenses an MD with less schooling than a nurse.
That doesn’t say anything about their relative value, worth, or any other thing. But for God’s sake, it’s risible to pretend that nurses require the amount of credentials that MDs do.
Also, I’m glad you’re neither a nurse nor a doctor.

A 8:23 PM  

They say timing is everything. I decided yesterday that starting today I would print the puzzle instead of doing it online. So for me this was the best Sunday in a while. What are the odds? Lucky ME! WHEE! Serendipity!

Choral experts, is a countertenor the same as an ALTO?

Love @LMS’ infix! I like the G and think it works especially well if you pronounce it pronouncedly: ABSO FREAKING LUTELY. If you drop the G you sound like Rocky Balboa - which I admit is not without a certain charm.

@Joe D, thanks for the Traffic link! Been a while.

@Malsdemare, nice points, and thanks for reminding us to check out the @LMS avatar!

At the time, being a COED was something to be proud of.

Hey @Roo, did you feel like the SW corner was trying to tell you something? LIMO RODE ELOPED and (oops) DAMAGE?

In SIR @Lewis’ honor, I counted 20 doppels not caused by the doubling of theme letters:
*least favorite clue/answers

For some unknown reason I thought Pen Pa?/BOAR was bad punning, and Were running mates?/ELOPED was good. SO, YEAH.

Anyone else notice that Baxter looks annoyed that Rex is touching his paw? Some dogs are very particular about their paws. Guess we have to wait for breaking news tomorrow.

Thanks, Mr. Newton, well done fun!

TTrimble 8:52 PM  

@Anonymous 7:38 PM
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. As a matter of fact, I *am* a doctor. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Nice little ad hominem you slipped in there.

Find anywhere where I talked about accreditation. All that is quite beside the point.

If someone makes a special point that someone is a woman CEO, a woman doctor, whatever the socially recognized position of importance may be, it often carries with it an underlying presumption that there is something exceptional or surprising that a woman could occupy a traditionally male position, whereas if a male occupies a role traditionally occupied by females, there is often a presumption that something must be lacking in the male. A really great example is "stay-at-home dad" or "Mr. Mom". Can you see the asymmetry?

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

Yikes. You’re an MD?! That is frightening.
Not sure what you mean about a special point, or traditionally male position.
I do not see anyone making a value judgment regarding stay-at-home-dad or Mr Mom or woman doctor.
I see information. Those phrases give folks more info. That you see them as a form of validation (or not) says more about you than the English language.
I amend by my post.I’m glad you’re not a nurse. Or my doctor.

TTrimble 9:42 PM  

@Anonymous 9:13 PM

You "amend" by your post? Okay. Amend away, then.

Your assorted presuppositions and conclusions are also funny. I'll let you puzzle out what might be wrong with them, and why they are funny.

Aside from that, I think you've lost track of what this thread was about, but I'm not going to explain it any further. Bye!

Joe Dipinto 10:51 PM  

@A – I don't think that's Rex touching Baxter's paw. It looks like a small person, or at least someone with very short arms. Baxter does look annoyed though. Alfie looks annoyed too, but at something different than what's annoying Baxter. I'm annoyed by the visible tag hanging off whatever that thing on the chair is.

Ken Freeland 1:58 AM  


Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Why all this complaining about how the puzzle appeared in this app or that app? The puzzle is the puzzle in the newspaper. The apps present approximations of the puzzle, as limited by the presentation framework. They're best approximations. If you want to see the "real" puzzle as intended by the designer and editor, then buy the newspaper.

thefogman 9:54 AM  

What happened to my comment?

tk 4:48 PM  

Does everyone really not do it on paper? Dag, yo. I am only a poor Gen Xer, and I still do the Sunday thing on ... paper. If I don't have the newspaper, I print it out!

THIRST TRAP was *awesome*

I had no problem with the G in ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY.

SEXTS? Great.

But now we come to an ISSUE.



Land of mercy, can we not?

Myrna Gottlieb 11:44 PM  

Will someone kindly explain 2 Down. The clue: "it's 50/50" And the answer with the stretched e is either "one e" or "on ee", neither of which makes sense to me. What does either have to do with 50/50. Thank you. Myrna

PhysGraf 1:11 AM  

Probably no one reading this post anymore... I just now happened to do the NYT September 6, 2012 puzzle with the same gimmick. It was a Thursday and there was no shading nor circles. Just a note indicating that it's recommended to do the PDF version. I found it difficult and DNF because I knew only 1 of 4 long proper nouns . The gimmick wasn't the difficult part. Rex, of course, found it easy but actually mentioned how difficult it would be without knowing those propers.

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

I am older and solve (or try to) solve the puzzle in the actual newspaper. all the talk about apps is way beyond my comprehension.
I found this puzzle frustrating because the clues were difficult and the gimmick annoying. Please - just give us an ordinary puzzle with interesting clues, or you eliminate a large number of people for whom this used to be fun, not a slog.

lodsf 12:05 AM  

I confidently wrote WOMEN at 87A .... it fit (in all ways!) but it was not to be. (@Gill I and others: my brother got his COVID vaccines a couple of weeks ago at University of Pennsylvania BEAVER campus.)

D 11:33 AM  

My take on the g; it emphasizes the f**kinG Common usage in the military to get the point across

spacecraft 12:12 PM  


Score one for print! Using a group of letters twice over (six times) is feat enough, but to have them all be muscles? Wow. Has to be one of the DEFTEST (??) jobs ever. However, this was tougher than doing all those exercises. Lots of stuff I didn't know, including that CHEESE and the nonsensical expression THIRSTTRAP. How in the world did that get to be an expression? Thirst trap. You can hardly even say it, with those two adjacent T's. Who thinks these things up, and how in blazes do they catch on??

I ScrewEDUP--I mean SLIPPEDUP writing LattE instead of LECHE. I had to guess at ARYA, SOYEAH, it wasn't EASY. Never heard "I won't HEAR it" without the "of." There really should've been an "of" in the clue. As you can see, one can get SNEERY about a number of entries here, including the O-less AMEBA. Then again, no wonder, considering what was "pulled" off. Have to give this a birdie.

Burma Shave 2:41 PM  


IMEANIT, you MUSTDO your duty,


rondo 2:52 PM  

Lotsa muscles stretched all over. Quite the feat. SEXT crossing THIRSTTRAP is interesting. Those stretched squares did make it a bit tougher to see answers.

SOYEAH baby Amanda PEET is in the corners.

Not REDHOT, but not a BOAR. Har.

Diana, LIW 4:11 PM  

ABSOFREAKING what? I think the puz was stretched a tad thin in order to create the "trick." Disliked/enjoyed it in turns.

A dnf in the NE.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 5:19 AM  

50/50 equals ONE. Clever clue, or just DRY ?

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