Singer Aguilera's alter ego / SUN 7-25-21 / Celestial figure depicted in this puzzle's grid / Fifth century conqueror defeated in the Battle of Catalaunian Plains / Company that makes recoverable and reusable rocket boosters / Gilbert and ___ Islands former colonial names of Kiribati and Tuvalu / Descriptor of almost a million and a half Californians / Onetime material for tennis racket strings / Executive producer of HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Constructor: Chandi Deitmer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: DOUBLE DIPPERS (115A: Ones committing a party foul ... or the images depicted in this puzzle's grid?) — Big and Little Dippers (the constellations) are depicted in the grid if you connect all the asterisks (i.e. stars), which are formed by writing both an "I" and an "X" in the circled squares (the "I" in the Across answer, the "X" in the Down). There's also POLARIS (68A: Guiding light), which is the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper (represented here by the asterisk that is actually located in the answer POLARIS), and Alpha and Beta Ursae MAJORIS (represented here by the asterisks in IMDB and DOUBLE DIPPERS, respectively), which point toward POLARIS (61A: Alpha and Beta Ursae (pointers to 68-Across)). There are three additional theme answers related to the constellations:

Theme answers:
  • DRINKING GOURD (19D: Celestial figure depicted in this puzzle's grid, in African American folklore)
  • SEVEN OXEN (9D: Celestial figure depicted in this puzzle's grid, in Roman folklore)
  • WAGON OF HEAVEN (22D: Celestial figure depicted in this puzzle's grid, in Babylonian folklore)
Word of the Day: ENATIC (31D: Sharing maternal lines)
descended from the same mother related on the mother's side (
• • •

A complex and admirable architectural feat, which (like most architectural-feat crosswords) I didn't enjoy much at all. I honestly had no idea what was going on even after I had finished the puzzle. Things were made more confusing by the fact that the software didn't accept my "X" answers for the circled squares and, when I hit "Reveal All," rendered those boxes as lower-case "a"s (???). So now I'm looking at a grid with seemingly randomly arranged circled squares with "X"s and "I"s in them, and I've got three long Downs that are, and I cannot stress this enough, literally no help at all. At least DRINKING GOURD seems related to the whole idea of dippers, but SEVEN OXEN? WAGON OF HEAVEN? Not only have I never heard of these, they are useless in terms of understanding what the hell is going on with all the "X" / "I" squares. The revealer, DOUBLE DIPPERS, did in fact reveal what I was supposed to be looking for, but I still didn't see how "X" or "I" was related, how you were supposed to get anything celestial or astral from them. Then I wrote "X" and "I" next to each other and was like "... nine? ... eleven? ... nope, there are way more stars than that (combined) in these constellations .... huh?" Then it hit me: superimpose the "I" on the "X" and you get an asterisk, which is essentially a visual representation of a star. Voila! It's a very neat trick, truly it is, and the dippers (big and little) do indeed (once you connect the stars) look more than vaguely like they look in conventional depictions. It's just that getting to the point where I see any of this wasn't really pleasant. I CAN SEE the big picture now, but only TIREDLY. Those three long Downs, I cannot stress how useless they seemed, how unhelpful they were. How do you get away with cluing SEVEN OXEN (plural) as [Celestial figure...] (singular)!?!?  And if you can see either oxen or a wagon in these star formations, you're a more perceptive person than I am. The fill got understandably rough in places (I say "understandably" because holy cow this dense theme must've put a lot of pressure on the grid). So, the end product is very admirable in its complexity, but getting to the point where I could actually see that complexity was not itself a very pleasurable experience.

There was some tough fill today. ELLICE was tough, for sure (26A: Gilbert and ___ Islands (former colonial names of Kiribati and Tuvalu)). Not a huge fan of recolonizing those islands with subpar / obscure fill. Would love to see KIRIBATI or TUVALU, but Gilbert and ELLICE can get bent. ENATIC made me LOL what the heck. Crosswords made me learn what ENATE was (sigh), but ENATIC!? (which means the same thing!?)!? Yikes. I wrote in ENNATE there, figuring there must be a two-"N" spelling. If I never see the CUOMOS in a puzzle again, I will be grateful. Creeps. The current governor in particular is a fraud who should've been run out of office a long time ago, if only for fudging the COVID data (the multiple sexual harassment charges also seem pretty credible). Yuck. I feel like some solver somewhere is going to think that Christina Aguilera's alter ego is I, TINA (70D: Singer Aguilera's alter ego). If you understand the theme, then you'll at least be able to infer the "X" in XTINA, but since that particular singer's heyday is a little bygone, I would not be surprised if a certain subset of solvers had no idea what was going on with that answer. The singular ARREAR can continue to bite me, as it appears never nowhere noplace but in crossword grids. Otherwise, I think the fill is about as good as could be expected from a grid where the theme is this dense and unyielding. Every asterisked square has to be just so, and that means there are a Lot of theme answers, and then there are the three "bonus" long Downs *and* the star POLARIS actually appearing inside the answer POLARIS ... it's all so impressively intricate. I just wish I'd liked solving it more.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. the CEE-LO Green "hit" was not, I repeat not, "Forget You" (107D: Green with the 2010 hit "Forget You"):

[This sign-language version is pretty great, too]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:01 AM  
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Frantic Sloth 12:08 AM  

I have to wonder what the print version of this puzzle looked like. The one online had circles where the X/I went. Upon completion these were converted to stars and then they were connected via lines (all animation-like) to form the big and little dippers. Whew!
I'm exhausted from the description!

Chandi Deitmer is having her NYTXW debut today (on the Sundee!) and she came loaded for bear.
This theme clearly took some work - obvious even to the likes of me - and that revealer!! Makes perfect sense, placed toward the end like God intended, cleverly clued, and it's funny!

There were some rough patches for me (e.g., fell hook, line, and paintbrush for the Goya misdirect at 33A), but the challenge was doable with some effort and I didn't notice any junk fill. There likely was some (@Roo's dictum), but one sign of a good solving experience is its invisibility.

Also, I had to look up the meaning of XI as it relates to astronomy because I'm a 52D.

The PPP ppposed little trouble for me as I either knew it or (more often) dragged it kicking and screaming to the surface aided by fair crosses.

Added bonus: A sloth clue!

Just a brilliant creation. Congratulations on your very impressive NYTXW debut, Ms. Deitmer, and hurry back!

P.S. Between DRAKE and DOUBLEDIPPING, I wonder if I smell a Seinfeld fan...probably just my imagination.🀷‍♀️


Ken Freeland 12:17 AM  

Clever theme and layout and all that, but the fly in the ointment was the natick collection spinning off the the obscure Ve tral Asia mountain range ALTAI, with an obscure executive producer crossong on one side, and Glazer of "Broad City" on the other. All these were exotic names... I got one out of two, but wouldn't have felt any better about batting a thousand... crossword puzzles should not so consistently reduce to pure guesswork...

EdFromHackensack 12:28 AM  

what a work out! I did not know ANY of the long down answers. I do not think I ever heard of any of them. I got the trick at NIXONERA crossing IMDB; both I knew were solid answers so something had to give. I wrote in XI in the box but it was not until later I realized I had to superimpose to create a star. AHA. Pretty amazing construction when you get down to it. Really amazing. So hats off. Tough puzzle. I think I googled something, not sure what it was.... oh the movie RAN duh. I had _AN and was thinking PAN and my head hurt at this point so I googled. which I hate to do , so sue me. haha..... Thanks for a nice Saturday morning crunch

jae 12:36 AM  

Tough. Wow, echoes of Liz Gorski. Clever, ambitious, fun with an amusing reveal and stars too boot! Best Sunday in quite a while. Liked it a bunch!

Cyclist227 1:08 AM  

Genreally agree with Rex. I did like Frijoles for "Much of Goya's Output." Took me a while to realize I had the other Goya in mind. But basically this was too clever by half, which made it pretty awkward going.

okanaganer 1:52 AM  

Yeah, I so missed the boat on this one. I got that there was the X / I going on, but I couldn't for the life of me understand why. I put in all I's in the circles (cuz I'm lazy) but when I finished, all the circle squares were wrong. I then tried "IX", no dice. When I clicked Show Letter, like Rex, it showed a lowercase "a". I didn't even know you could enter lowercase letters in AcrossLite!!! And I still didn't get it. But after reading this, knowing the "correct" character was an asterisk, I guess I get it. But lowercase? Why?

Stupid me! Or stupid puzzle. Not sure which.

But nice idea, even if I didn't get it.

Peter P 1:57 AM  
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Anonymous 2:46 AM  

CeeLo Green is also an admitted rapist so not great.

htpsmnoptp 2:49 AM  

Did anyone else think going in that this puzzle was gonna be about Abraham Lincoln?

Joe Dipinto 2:55 AM  

You forgot to insult SpaceX.

For those who asked: the print version has only faint gray lines penciled in to show the dipper shapes. You have to figure out on your own that there's a * wherever a line changes direction or intersects another. Except you can barely see the line connecting DAHLIA to POLARIS because it's crossing a black square. Another reason to miss that there's a * in square 70.

This was very convoluted and headscratchy. Looking at the finished grid l admire the result, but I wish I'd had more fun working on it. Bonus points for being refreshingly low on juvenilia for a change.

"Ayyy!!! Rice and beans aaall over my paaannnts!!"
– hapless D-Train rider after spilling half-consumed lunch on himself, summer 1978

ZenMonkey 3:51 AM  

Unfortunately that young woman’s sign language performance is not a good one. It’s easy for hearing nonsigners to think they’re seeing a great interpretation because it’s enjoyable to watch. She is, however, a hearing ASL student and not a proficient signer, and she is using Signed English instead of ASL. All students do this as a way to learn, but it’s by far the worst way to experience the true magic of ASL-interpreted songs by deaf performers. I emailed Rex about this and suggested a few places to find amazing, authentic performances by deaf native signers, and hopefully he will share some of that.

This isn’t just “PC,” it’s about respect for a distinct cultural group. As someone who worked and played in the deaf community for years, I find it important that deaf performers are amplified, especially when they’re so often portrayed badly by hearing actors. (If you thought the girl in A Quiet Place was great, not only was she really deaf but John Krasinski had deaf consultants on set to ensure authenticity. (More often it’s hearing people who get those jobs.)

In puzzle news, I cannot figure out what the app wants for the star squares (asterisks didn’t work for me) and I’ll be livid if that breaks my attempt at a 365-day streak. (Just passed 300.)

Anonymous 4:05 AM  

Supposin the long downs were ancillary to the theme. We (whoever we are) looked up there and saw bears and dippers. In a view of small white dots of random size and arrangement in a sea of black. Maybe someone somewhere else looked at the same sky and connected the dots differently? Nah, probably not.

linac800 5:44 AM  

Rebus XI worked for me

FKD 5:53 AM  

UGH! Note to NYT: Please leave these stupid rebus gimmicks out of your paper. It took more time to guess the rebus fill than to solve the puzzle. And it wasn't even consistent between Across Lite and the NYT app! Back to the drawing board Chandi, this was a real stinker.

Lewis 5:58 AM  

Wow, what an ambitious puzzle – getting the rebi to work, the three vertical descriptions, the just-right reveal, and getting the dots to connect in just the right places. This had to be an Ursa Major to construct. And wow, you pulled it off, Chandi.

It was EDIFYing to learn the folklore interpretations of the constellations, and the puzzle answers themselves covered so much territory – sports, food, arts, history, geography, among others. Overlaying the X’s and I’s to make stars was a masterly touch. Meanwhile, you lovelied the puzzle up with ANTWERP, FRIJOLES, REVEL, and INCOGNITO, then as icing, that FRIJOLES clue is world class.

This wasn’t a one-trick pony; it was a constellation in itself. And it was a beast. Thank you for this, Chandi, and congratulations on your debut!

Conrad 6:04 AM  

Medium on the cusp of Medium-Challenging here. My first themers were 1D AXELS and 4D SPACEX, and I proceeded to fill in the rest of the circled squares with X's. I was stumped for a while on the crosses, but 18A IPADPRO and 35A KIRIN revealed the trick. Since the theme was "Star Search," I figured the I/X thing out quickly, but left the X's in the theme squares. That was acceptable in the NYT Web site. I didn't try it, but I suspect that I's would also have worked, and maybe an IX rebus.

I learned in high school history class that the people of the Underground Railroad would keep their charges heading north toward freedom by having then follow the little dipper, aka "The Drinkin' Gourd." My history class didn't cover Roman or Babylonian history, so I wasn't aware of the oxen or the wagons. So I learned something!

mikebernsVIE 6:08 AM  

Someone please explain why answer to 94D ("Clear, as crystal") is BUS.

Unknown 6:17 AM  

I agree, it was a work out. But that's OK... some days I want a stroll in the park, but other days I want a work out. Phew, I'm sweating now. But it was pretty impressive overall. Amazing to pull together the 3 names of these constellations from three different civilizations, and a great revealer too! Unfortunately I DNF'd the ILANA/ATLAI mountains crossing, but that's ok, one stumble doesn't invalidate the exercise : ) Thanks, and congratulations on the debut, Chandi Deitmer! Hope to see more soon!

The Joker 6:17 AM  

I happened upon a great chardonnay while vacationing in Oklahoma. I called it OAKY from Muskogee.

Son Volt 7:25 AM  

This was a workout for a Sunday no doubt. Got the IX rebus right away with SPACE X x KIRIN. The app gave circles for all the other locations so filling them all in did help with the solve. Grid is odd - those two lone blacks up top and the weird center didn’t help the flow. Theme stuff is packed in though - so kudos on that.

Knew DRINKING GOURD and WAGON OF HEAVEN which are also really nice fill. SEVEN OXEN was new to me - so the cross with SANDIEGAN was a little side eye. Liked ANTWERP, FRIJOLES and ONE UPPED - thought the overall fill was solid. Agree with Rex that either keep 89a out or clue them as “Corrupt, contemptible NY political family”.

A rare enjoyable Sunday solve.

Dan A 7:33 AM  

Putting just X in each circle worked in my iOS app. I figured the X was formed by two overlapping I’s that dipped to each side at their centers, hence “double dippers” for the X and straight up for the I ! (Since stars can twinkle 😊)

Greg in Sanibel 7:47 AM  

MikebernsVIE, clearing the crystal off a table is called BUSsing - in a restaurant! Scratched my head over that for quite a while, too, but was pretty sure of the crosses.

NYTom 7:48 AM  

Are there really only two of us who don’t get BUS? I was sure OFL would have something to say about it!

007 7:54 AM  

Asterisks worked for me

Jtull 7:56 AM  

Clear the table of everything including the crystal…..BUS the table.

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

No. Too much. Just do one thing, the X/I and then knowing that I have to connect them-that is too much- to make the dippers. Even knowing that rule, how many people knew which * to connect to get the dippers looking right? Be honest, yeah, I thought so.

Canon Chasuble 8:00 AM  

No. 74 across is wrongly clued. In Britain, at any rate, only a knight or baronet is called “Sir.” The title of a Lord, depending upon his rank, is Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, or Baron, and he is addressed as “Your Grace” for a Duke, and “My Lord” for all the others. The word “Sir” does not apply to any British Lord.

Unknown 8:05 AM  

Bus=clearing dishes (and maybe crystal) from tables. You're welcome.

Harry 8:06 AM  

I formerly preferred solving with Across Lite, but comments here make me glad I switched to the NYTimes website sometime ago. The software in use heavily influenced solver satisfaction with this puzzle; ideally shouldn't be the case.

The Times puzzle is lenient in what it will accept for rebus fill. I defaulted to all "X"s, while grasping the X/I across/down fill. While I caught onto the constellation theme early on, it never dawned on me that X/I superimposed would form a "*".

I was also disappointed that the "stars" never visually aligned for me into the themed constellations. I might have enjoyed solving this one in the Magazine, permitting me to highlight them more strongly.

Quite pleased with the fill (other than the noted ISSARAE/ALTAI/ILANA cross. I'd rate the difficulty a satisfyingly Medium/Hard with a delightful reveal.

Sioux Falls 8:13 AM  

@mikeberns vie … When crystal is cleared from a table it is BUSsed by a BUSboy/girl

Joaquin 8:17 AM  
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Unknown 8:18 AM  

Total, absolute crap.

bocamp 8:19 AM  

Thx, Chandi; a perfect Sun. puz! :)

Med solve.

Great start in the NW, down and around, ending up in ANTWERP.

Only sticking point was trying to grok 'Clear, as crystals'. Learned from yd's fiasco to take some time to mentally run the alphabet and pay close attention. Arrived at 'S' and the lightbulb lit up. Had I applied this effort to the NW corner of yd's puz, there's a good chance I would have arrived at WHITE CLAW, which would have repaired my errors at CHIPS and LESSERACTS.

Now I know another alcoholic beverage, yippee! (not)

Very enjoyable adventure today; thx, again, Chandi.! :)

In h.s., worked at The Kitchen Kettle on Stark St. in Portland, first washing dishes ($1.00 p/h), then got moved up to BUSsing tables ($1.25 p/h).

@TTrimble (10:20 PM yd) πŸ‘ for 0

@Anonymous (12:55 AM yd)

Thx for the Heinlein TESSERACT story link. :)

And He Built a Crooked House

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

DeeJay 8:20 AM  

Thank you, um, Sir.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Finished this puzzle on the commuter train ride into work. Yikes, this posed some challenges. I had to read Rex's explanation for the X/I thing - thanks. Yes, a feat of construction. TIREDLY was my last hold-out... TIREDOF? TIREDBY? (Since I was waffling between FLAYED and FLAMED, but the "m" would simply not work...)
Kudos to CD on her debut!

(at work, so not logged into my account)

kitshef 8:26 AM  

DNF at TiM crossing iN NEXT.

Clue for BUS went right over my head. That was last thing in. I liked all my crosses but just could not trust BUS. In the end, I went with it.

And … that’s not the name of the CEELO Green song that I know.

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Think bus boy. It's a pun. A good one at that.

Nancy 8:32 AM  

Much too dreary. Demanding that the solver will know a host of unrelated bits of trivial information -- most of which are crashingly uninteresting to me. Either I don't know them and don't want to or I do know them but don't care. And don't get me started on the "grid art" running through my squares: they were annoying me even more than tiny little circles do. I say "were" because I stopped very, very early -- so now those unwanted gray lines are someone else's annoyance.

I do, though, have something to contribute to the blog, based on an answer that showed up (pun intended) in the one sixth of the puzzle I did complete. Here is is.

SouthsideJohnny 8:40 AM  

In my opinion, this is a good example of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should”. It may be a beautiful puzzle, brilliantly constructed - but jeez, look how much work and effort it took just for Rex to discern what the hell the theme was (and he does like 200 crosswords a week). I gave up about 25% of the way through after I realized the theme was irrelevant and the rest of it was pretty much some type of specialized trivia test (Rex already commented on the irrelevance of the long downs).

Similar to the way PPP can be “wheelhouse or not” items, so too can the theme and even the entire puzzle. However well-conceived and well-executed this puppy is, it was just not designed and constructed for me - the same way that sports trivia may be in my wheelhouse but other types escape me.

On a positive note - SB not putting up much of a struggle so far today.

Ann Hedonia 8:50 AM  

worst puzzle of all time.

pabloinnh 8:52 AM  

I do the printed version and didn't notice any faint lines of connection, just circles. Got the X + I thing pretty early at SPACEX, but the Big Aha! was noticing that the X + I = *. i.e., a star. Add that to this elegant feat of construction and a world-class revealer and I am just shaking my head in disbelief. There are more things in crossworddom than are dreamt of in my philosophy, I'm afraid.

As an old folkie, I'm familiar with "Follow the Drinking Gourd", a song whose origins are unclear but is clearly about the route north for escaped slaves. I've also heard a reference to The Big Dipper as some sort of WAGON, but SEVENOXEN is news to me.

Hand up for falling for the Goya misdirect. I've taught the other (real) Goya and the FRIJOLES guy could say adios forever, the trumpie.

Nice mix of clever cluing and new-fangled tech terms and pop (unknown) culture to make this a really worthwhile solve. I feel like I've accomplished everything for today, and since it's dark and rainy, will reward myself by watching the Olympics all day.

Congratulations on this Sundazo, CD. Completely Delighted here.

F. Frick 8:53 AM  

Challenging, clever, admirable. Fun is not a word I would use, however.

One thing we can all agree on:

Despite much reporting and writing to the contrary, the was never an * next to Roger Maris' home run record. But he was, indeed, a bright shining star in the baseball firmament.

pmdm 8:56 AM  

I solve using the Sundy paper version tht is usually delivered to me on Saturday. The extra lines in the grid were so faint I did not see them. Especially with my current eyesight. As far as I am concerned, if something is more or less invisible, it does not exist. At least, not for me. So, on this level, the puzzle failed for me.

As of the time I am posting (Sunday 8:42 AM) no one has yet complained about the PPP. So let me. A very ambitious puzzle for a new constructor (thumb's up there) who, probably because of the theme density, had to fill the puzzle with a load of entires that didn't exactly appeal to me. So a huge thumbs down for me in that aspect. I would guess if future puzzle from this constructor were a bit less ambitious, I would like them a lot more.

For me, the rebus squares were quite well done even though, not having noticed the very faint lines, their locations seemed to be random. But I tend to like that type of feature, not being that much aof a fan for symmetry.

Sparing many of the details, I went to the Broken Bow Brewery in Tuckahoe NY yesterday. They had an alcoholic seltzer of theirs on tap. I grumbled about it to the person operating the taps, and when I said WHITE he immediately knew the WHITE CLAW brand. Guess I live a sheltered life since I never heard of it. The brand certainly doesn't advertise on Jeopardy! and the only other commercial shows I watch are sports shows, and I refuse to watch the ads on thems. If I am uninterested in fast cars, I am less interested in being force fed music I don't like.

Blue Stater 8:58 AM  

This is a prime example of what has happened to NYTXW under Shortz: mindless complexity, smart-assery, and trickery for their own sake(s). And definitely not for fun. I would have quit doing these years ago but am determined to outlast the WS era. At this rate, not sure I'll make it....

Teedmn 9:06 AM  

This puzzle played hard for me. The worst was 41A. I didn't know ENeTIC or 34D's RAy so I had SeNDIEGAy. What? Plus, solving on line, the circles were filled with A's which I had to reveal to find out because I thought either X or I should work. Bah.

And the circles online didn't evoke for me the image of the big and little dippers even though I understood the theme to be related. So it fell short of what I would have liked to experience. Still, this is an impressive debut. Congratulations, Chandi Deitmer.

Ξ© 9:11 AM  

If people would solve the way Gof intended, or at least use PuzzAzz, there’d be a lot less bitching and a lot more enjoyment derived from this effort. In print and in PuzzAzz the DIPPERs are drawn in for you. That means the rebus location is pretty clear early, and the long down clues make sense even if you don’t know the constellation name in other cultures (BTW - Rex - it is singular because it is one constellation). The most hidden thing is the X down I across need to be superimposed to give the solver an * in the grid (and maybe realize that the * is an X and an I combined), a nifty touch. All in all a most pleasant Sunday solve and I pity everyone who had their solving experience ruined by inferior software. (Which the NYTX app still is - if you own an iPad you should solve using PuzzAzz).

For me, the best Sunday in quite awhile. A++

HEY PEOPLE - Maybe don’t post such obvious Saturday Spoilers here. Not everyone solves the puzzles in order and Syndicated people will solve this puzzle four weeks before they see yesterday’s puzzle.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

@Z -- "the way Gof intended..." You've used this so, so often, and someone else on the blog (maybe @Frantic?) has too, and I have no idea what "Gof" stands for. Not a clue. Can you please explain if you get a chance?

Amy 9:20 AM  

Print solver here. So the print version showed a feint outline of the big and little dippers which was a mildly annoying spoiler from the start. But then after filling in the grid, the lines were impossible to find again, which maybe was the point, but I never got past does XI equal 11? 9? I did try connecting them but by then, it was hard to find them because the squares were not marked with a circle like in the app. It was gettable, for sure, but it didn’t occur to me to write the letters on top of one another so I didn’t get the aha until I checked the solution and saw the asterisk. As Homer would (also) say d’oh.
Also will shortz continues to include mild spoilers with his little bio blurb about the constructors which is totally not necessary!
Nonetheless, I enjoyed it.

Joe Welling 9:28 AM  

OFL said:
"At least DRINKING GOURD seems related to the whole idea of dippers, but SEVEN OXEN? WAGON OF HEAVEN? Not only have I never heard of these,
... . And if you can see either oxen or a wagon in these star formations, you're a more perceptive person than I am."

Rex completely misses the point (and, as always, personal ignorance is never a valid criticism of a puzzle). These are the conventional names given to the same constellation by other peoples from other times. (The DRINKING GOURD also has nothing to do with bears, big or little.) The same stars may have suggested a wagon or a team of oxen if you lived in those places and those times.

What's interesting is that these cultures even grouped the same basic set of stars together at all. Most constellations include bright stars that are not actually near each other; they just look that way from the Earth.

Others are actually associated: the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters from Greek mythology) are an actual star cluster. The Japanese call them Subaru (a word, I understand, that reflects their close association).

I thought it was a lovely puzzle--especially that Polaris was in its proper location.

I think the point of the I/X rebus is that if you superimpose those letters, they look like a star (or an asterisk--a word derived from the Greek word for "star").

Carola 9:32 AM  

Loved it. Only wish I'd understood how the I and X worked! Terrific puzze.

Noreen 9:38 AM  

A wonderful Sunday puzzle! Totally enjoyed it from the various names of the dippers to the Polaris star to the faint lines in the paper edition. Very impressive from beginning to end. I always expect to have difficulty with current brands, music, and slang, so no surprise there. The puzzles wouldn't be as much fun if there were no difficulties. Thanks, Chandi! Haven't heard from our paraprosdokian expert in quite a while. Any news?

Unknown 9:48 AM  

Worst crossword I’ve ever done!!!

KRMunson 9:54 AM  

Hard and not very satisfying.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

great puzzle and architecture

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

In the e-edition version, the check function accepts I,X,IX,or XI for the circle squares.

Telvo 10:01 AM  

This was a tremendous puzzle, even allowing for the minor nits and picks noted above. I eventually got all of the answers right, but couldn't figure out the meta-upon-meta meaning of Doubledippers until I saw the lines Rex drew. I also loved the inclusion of so many diverse racial, ethnic, and gender clues and answers. I want to see more of Chandi Deitmer's work. Great job!

KGrindon 10:03 AM  

I apparently am in the minority of those who loved this puzzle. I did it on my iPad (not sure what software/app that is) and so I saw the circles. I got the X/I thing in the NW corner, and it was pretty smooth sailing from there. I loved the misdirects on Goya and BUS. I didn’t “see” the big and little dippers themselves until the app marked them out for me after I finished the puzzle, but when it did, it got an audible, “Oh look at that!” from me. There are plenty of days when I hate a puzzle that others seem to love, so this is just my turn to be on the other side, I guess. Thanks for a great puzzle, Chandi- this was my most enjoyable Sunday in a very long time.

Magpie 10:04 AM  

It was nice in print. The constellations were faintly drawn and it was fun n to do X + I = *.

Tom R 10:11 AM  

Bah! And again I say Bah! I did not even try to finish it. I started off in the North Central then came to the "rebus" circle and neither x nor I was what the puzzle was looking for, so, confused as to what was going on I hit reveal letter. A???? Then I read the note, and just junked the rest.

This is a pet peeve. I am sure a number of us use Acrosslite to do the puzzles and it is a format the Times supports. IF YOU CAN'T REPRESENT THE PUZZLE IN THE ONLINE FORMAT, THEN YOU SHOULD NOT PUBLISH THE PUZZLE! Stop this c**p where you need a different format to figure out what is going on.

pmdm 10:18 AM  

After reading Z's comment about spoilers and reflecting on my comment above, I have to wonder if I am one of the people Z is complaining about. Which got me thinking about the fact that Sharp's daily write-ups he posts are filled with spoilers for that day's puzzle. So what's the proper protocol?

If you want to allow a comprehensive discussion concerning the puzzles, I would guess that would require the ability to discuss entries quite in some detail. What is a practical solution? One solution would be to segregate posts that contain spoilers into a "special" section. I am not sure how practical that would be. Another solution would be for solvers to avoid reading blogs until being up to date with puzzle solving (assuming spoilers post-date publication of a puzzle). Yet another solution would be to include the words SPOILER ALERT well before the spoiler appears.

Personally, I would follow any reasonable rule. And I do apologize if my previous comment spoils those who have yet to solve yesterdays puzzle.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

This review is so you. Bravo. You don’t know something— Wagon of Heaven and Seven Oxen are all over the place in Roman and Mesopotamian literature, mythology etc—and complain about it. Mmmmkay.
Then there’s the nonsensical virtue signaling via a bogus accusation. The clue clearly says former name. No one is recolonizing anything.
Keep doing you Mike.

Wonderful puzzle. Kudos Chandigarh Deitmer

Ξ© 10:26 AM  

@Nancy - Somebody once meant “god” but left the typo “gof” in their post. I found the typo amusing in and of itself. I also think it appropriate for when I write something like “as god intended” to substitute “gof” to highlight that I’m not being serious.

@Amy - Exactly the reason I never read the blurbs until after I finish the puzzle.

@Joe Welling - I can usually parse what OFL writes, but today he just missed it. The clues all say “Celestial figure depicted…” which made it pretty obvious to me that the answers were other names for the constellations. Granted, I had the lines pre-drawn which made it easier, but I agree with you that Rex missed the point.

Unknown 10:31 AM  

My wife and I absolutely loved this puzzle. In particular, we loved the layering of the uber-clue. ("Hey, what rebus character works for an X crossed with an I?" "Asterisk?" "Yeah..OH! ASTERISK!")

Sadly, this one particular puzzle cost us ten bucks.

My wife and I have been paying $40/year for the NYTimes crossword subscription. Lisa and I are in our fifties and, for decades now, we have been enjoying the Sunday NYTXW with breakfast and tea. In the 1990s, we would tear the puzzle out of the magazine and solve it over bagels in Brookline. In Washington, DC, our newborn's first reading experience was sitting on my lap while Lisa and I solved. When we moved to Silicon Valley in 2002, the big change was trading paper for Across Lite.

Time passes. Our teenagers don't join in anymore and we have been using the iPad app for a while. But the ritual hasn't changed much - with one exception. For the past few years, the best part of doing the Sunday NYTXW has been listening to the "Congratulations" outro music and then immediately running to Rex's blog.

Today, Lisa and I do the puzzle so that we can read the jeremiad.

We count on the stream of bile that Rex directs at Will Shortz. It's like the pole star - always there; always reliable. I have folk mythology built up around the reason for Rex's visceral hate. This kind of invective must come from something truly painful, and I've been assuming that Rex suspects his wife of seeing Will on the side.

So, when Lisa and I thoroughly enjoyed this particular puzzle, I was a little nervous. This puzzle was too good...could Rex summon the philippic? I shouldn't have worried.

"A complex and admirable architectural feat," I read aloud, "which I certainly would have enjoyed capitally had Will Shortz never slept with my wife." (Per our habit, the recitation harmonizes the blog with our folk mythology in real time.)

Having not previously supported the Rex Parker effort, and feeling that it would be rude to post this thank you to Rex for his efforts without pitching in, we Venmo'ed $10 over this morning.

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All !
Outstanding construction. Holy Moly, this was tough to make. I'm gonna channel my best @LMS and tell ya what Chandi did here.
*Clears throat*
First, had to figure out how to get both Big and Little DIPPERS in the grid, and orient them so they line up pretty much how they do in the sky. (Tough!) Then, have an entry - POLARIS - as the starting point of the Little DIPPER, Then figure out 28 (28!!! Wow!) words that could be crossed at X-I, Then put them into a grid, so that they are pretty darn close to the actual shapes, Then get the two ends of the Big DIPPER to point towards the I in POLARIS! And also get 3 other themers about what the DIPPERS are called in various folklores, AND get MAJORIS in just to pull it together. Let's not forget that Chandi had to notice that an XI superimposed is an * pretty much. Whew!

I'm sure @Loren would've been better at they. But it sure is an awesome feat of construction!

Anyway, loved the animation on the website after completion! Left/right symmetry to pull this thing off. Tough to fill upper center stack of 9 Downs (with a Themer in the middle, no less), large NW and NE corners, with XI Themers, again, tough to get clean fill.

Had my one-letter DNF today. Argh! Silly spot, now knowing theme, but the answer is a what? to me. Originally had saT for 58D, Is at the Forum?, then changed it to eAT, thinking MAJORIa sounded right. What the what is EST for that clue? Does it mean "is" is EST in Latin? Yeesh. Disappointed in my ERR after a feisty battle.

Enjoyed this one, ambitious, fun to solve, nice once you realize all the action taking place here. I'm going to add INCOGNITO as part of the theme, since you probably didn't know the XIs were the DIPPERS if you connected them.

Way to puz, Chandi!

Five F's

Diane Joan 10:38 AM  

Yes, I thought it was Abraham Lincoln's hat in the grid. Then when I saw it was heavenly I thought it was an odd angel or cupid like figure. It turns out staring at the grid was not the answer. Thankfully the app drew the big and little dippers connecting the circles at the end.

Good luck to anyone in the Boswords Tournament today! I just ordered the puzzles this time but the winter tournament was lots of fun.

Unknown 10:43 AM  

Puzzle outstanding in every way! Super debut, Chandi!

Although you did ruin Southside's day.

Ξ© 10:45 AM  

@pmdm - regarding spoilers - @Joaquin and @Peter P posted the answer to yesterday’s puzzle in today’s comments, and a key answer for many people. If you’re going to comment about a puzzle from a different day it is best to be oblique. So, for @Joaquin’s first post it would have been better to write, Yesterday I made a big deal out of never having heard of 1A. Tonight I was watching the Olympics with my wife and asked her if she was familiar with 1A. Nope. Five minutes later - a 1A commercial! First one either of us can recall seeing.
When you visit Rex you are expecting spoilers (indeed, lots of people find Rex when they are stuck), but a fair number of people do not solve the puzzle daily and so are not expecting answers to the July 23 puzzle in the July 24 comments. What @Joaquin and @Peter P did is not an uncommon thing to do, as the vast majority of us solve the puzzle the day it comes out and we often reference earlier puzzles, so someone invariably posts a reminder about spoilers when it happens. Also, we real timers often forget or never realize that there is an entire set of solvers and commenters who solve the syndicated version that comes out five weeks later for the M-Sa puzzles and one week later for the Sunday puzzle.

Laura 10:47 AM  

I loved this puzzle. First enjoyable Sunday in recent memory...

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

For gammick-laden puzzles like this, perhaps the NYT should consider an alternative Sunday Xword for "easier" online solving...

George 11:02 AM  

can the nytimes website just PLEASE put a sticker on puzzles like this that say "solve this on paper, if you can."

i am so envious of the people who got to solve the actual printed version of this, compared to the complete horseshit experience we all just had solving it on the times website.

it's an elegant puzzle that is completely ruined by being completed digitally.

just a sticker. that's all i ask.

Joseph Michael 11:16 AM  

YPRES Creepers. After plodding my way from one proper noun to another, I somehow managed to solve the puzzle without any mistakes or cheats, but I can’t say that I enjoyed the journey. Would have given up several times if I weren’t obsessive compulsive. Best part was realizing that an I over an X creates an asterisk or star. That’s kinda NEAT. Some of the clues such as those for FRIJOLES and BUS, were mind benders (in a good way), but after doing this puzzle I need to get out my DRINKING GOURD to recuperate.

Daniel Jalkut 11:17 AM  

I ran into the bug in Black Ink too, where the revealed answers didn't look right. I'm adding it to my bugs list. Unfortunately in this case it looks like the "correct" answer as exhibited by the puzzle file is a kind of garbage character, so maybe there's nothing I could do about it. I notice Across Lite has the same issue. Sometimes when NYT decides to recommend "not using 3rd party software", they also don't put much/any work into making the .puz file coherent.

OxfordBleu 11:18 AM  

Cultural insensitivity much? Rex, your bigotry continues to underwhelm.

Christy 11:18 AM  

To Unknown, who does the puzzle as a ritual with his wife... We have the exact same ritual as you, and your comment here was highly appreciated and we laughed. Mostly at the fact that we have a twin couple out there somewhere.

bocamp 11:19 AM  

The iPad had an animated (and repeating) line-drawing of the DOUBLE DIPPERS; saved me the trouble of tracing them out. Had no prob just inserting X's in the rebus cells.

*Just read @Rex's review; had thot of stars or asterisks (in terms of tracing out the DIPPERS), but didn't quite connect wrt actually putting an asterisk (or even an 'I' to go along with the 'X') into the rebus cell. Bit of a dnf there, bo. :( Nevertheless, makes the construction even more impressive than I originally thot. Well done, Chandi! :)

No prob, here, with the three long down celestial answers. They certainly relate to the celestial/DIPPER theme, and provide some new learning fodder. You lit up my puz, Chandi! 🀩

Was a bit perplexed at XTINA (thinking I Tina), but then reread the clue and realized an alter ego is not an autobiography. (hi Tina Turner)

@Joaquin (12:01 AM)

Big on so-called coincidences, so yours doesn't surprise me. Love it! :)

@Frantic Sloth (12:08 AM)

Hands up for the Seinfeld episode re: DOUBLE DIPPing.

@Peter P (1:57 AM)

I had the same experience with the singer 'Sia' a couple of years ago. Now I see her name fairly often.

@ZenMonkey (3:51 AM)

Great info and thots on signing and deaf performers! :)

@Conrad (6:04 AM)

Good catch re: The DRINKIN' GOURD (Eric Bibb). Just finished watching season one of The Underground Railroad.

Follow the drinkin' gourd
Follow the drinkin' gourd
For the old man is comin' just to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinkin' gourd

@Nancy (8:32 AM)

Thx for the Weaver's rendition of 'Follow the DRINKING GOURD'; one of my fave songs by one of my fave groups. :)

@SouthsideJohnny (8:40 AM)

Right on re: today's SB! :)

@pabloinnh (8:52 AM)

Finished the SB in record time, so will be joining you in watching the Olympics all day (watching on Gem and Prime Video). I love the way softball employs long, medium and short ball tactics! πŸ₯Ž

@F. Frick (8:53 AM)

Agree with you 100% re: Roger Maris, Commissioner Frick! 🌟 ⚾️

@Z (9:11 AM)

Thx for the reminder re: 'previous day' spoilers. I had completely forgotten that protocol. :)

@Joe Welling (9:28 AM)

Great post! Lots of useful info. :)

@pmdm (10:18 AM) / @Z (10:45 AM)

Good ideas re: 'spoilers from the previous day's puz.' Seems there's a reasonable solution in there somewhere. πŸ€”

@RooMonster (10:35 AM)

Great analysis of the puz creation process and the inherent challenges.


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

HATED this! And only finished with plenty of help.
Maybe @Frantic Sloth can answer: Why is a word a word a few weeks ago, and today it isn't??? (Five letters, starts with M) Thanks.

thefogman 11:21 AM  

A better title than Star Search would have been A-Star-Ix which sounds like asterisk and has the IX formation in the clue.

Malsdemare 11:21 AM  

Wow! This was challenging and yet fast. It wasn't my fastest time for Sunday, but it was far better than usual. I ended up googling for KIRIN (don't know my beers but I knew PROSECCO!), but otherwise, this was my brain at work, such as it is. There were a few bad guesses—MTFigI held me up for a long time, and Broad City???—but eventually I got her done. Of course I know almost none of the pop culture figures, though CEELO tickled my brain a little, and ALTAI?? Huh?

In The Navajo origin story, it was First Man and First Woman who placed the stars in the sky. First Woman would lay pieces of quartz out on a huge blanket, forming the constellations, and send First Man up a ladder to place them in the sky. She’d done all the constellations we see today when Coyote came strolling along, grabbed the edge of the blanket, and gave it a good shake. And that explains the bazillizion random stars we see. Cassiopeia and Ursa Major are Whirling Woman and Whirling Man. They circle Polaris, the hearth, symbolizing that man and woman should stay together and not stray from home, Dinetah. I do adore how various cultures find reification of their world views in the heavens. By the way, in Navajo tradition both First Man and First Woman screw up big time, none of this sexist shit blaming everything on the femme fatale.

I love puzzles that stir grand memories. Thanks Chandi, for the trip.

johnk 11:23 AM  

I'm seeing stars, and they aren't Xes superimposed on Is. I will never remember REI. Never. And FORGET YOU never heard of a Green singer.
I agree with Rex's take on this one.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Just a quick note - Drinking Gourd, Seven Oxen, Wagon of Heaven are traditional names for Ursa Major/Minor. I thought it was fantastic the constructor added them to the puzzle!

jb129 11:32 AM  

Aren't puzzles supposed to be fun? Or was this more for the constructor or for the solvers?

TJS 11:38 AM  

Thought about passing this one up as soon as I scanned the clues and saw the long downs were going to be unknowable. Out of habit I started to fill in stuff I knew had to be right, nailed the Mid East, saw the "Wagon" and decided to get serious about the solve. Maybe the best Sunday I have done in a few years. Saturday complexity in many places but just enough gimmes to get a foothold. The "x/i" gimmick actually helped alot.

Maybe because I paper solved for the first 40 years or so, I don't get all bent out of shape when the puzzle doesnt accept the exact letters that I used in my fill. I suppose if you are obsessed with keeping a solving record intact it can be frustrating, but since all those years I would not know if my grid was right until the next day, I just hit reveal puzz and see what they were looking for.

Thought this was another all-time rant by OFL. He seems to be on a real roll these past few weeks. I have grown from aggravated to amused. As for the Ceelo lyric explanation, thanks for spelling it out. Stay classy, professor.

@Z, also don't get the "got" for "god" bit.

Frantic Sloth 11:54 AM  

Sometimes, I think I'm being so smart that I'm too dumb to notice I'm not. Huh? Right.
That XI star/asterisk that everyone saw or knew right away? Not I. Thought the XI referred to the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet, which can also refer to the 14th star in a constellation... apparently. Didn't know that either.
Learning the asterisk trick just makes me appreciate the puzzle all the more.

Oh, and completely missed my own "joke" about CD coming loaded for bear, considering ursa and all that. πŸ™„

"Spoiler Alert". If ever there were two words that more invited their opposite intent, I don't know what they are. Maybe "don't open" or "don't touch" or "don't smell", but admittedly you'd have to be a prime example of arrested development. Hand up.

@Z 1045am Thanks for the explanation because I didn't really get it. (Surprise!) But, I think if anyone can remember what was said in a blog comment 5 weeks later they deserve some spoilage. πŸ˜‰

@George 1102am I feel your pain, even if I didn't experience it today. Never understood why the website doesn't at least disclose the freakin' title of the puzzle.
And @Z, I'm not so sure paper is the way Gof intended. She likes trees, you know.

@Anonymous 1121am Sorry, but I've given up trying to understand the madness that is the Spelling Bee. There is literally no explanation other than Sam Ezersky's whims.

The "Gof" explanation is only amusing to idiots. And @Z. Also, see "arrested development" mentioned above.

RooMonster 11:58 AM  

Another thanks to Monty Python's Flying Circus for getting the YPRES answer! Funny sketch.

And we had APRES and YPRES. Neat.

This is a debut, apparently from others' comments. Wowzers. Curious how many puzs Chandi sent in before the "Yes".

RooMonster Not As Funny As MPFC Guy

Bustedarmart 11:59 AM  

Thank you, Chandi, for a delightful puzzle!

I wish I had solved on paper, so as to have had the chance to write in the asterisks, but I only ever solve in the Times app on my phone, and I just accept there are some limitations with that.
No need to enter it as a rebus; I just put in the X or the I, and the app accepted it.

I enjoyed the challenges throughout the solve. Any time I thought I might be stuck, there were crosses to keep me moving. Ended up solving faster than average Sunday time.

Good Gof, there are a lot of Negative Nellies here. I think Rex’s incessant complaining is a poor example.

egsforbreakfast 12:00 PM  

The problem with speed solving is that you can’t afford to really read a long clue. To quote Rex, “ with "X"s and "I"s in them, and I've got three long Downs that are, and I cannot stress this enough, literally no help at all. At least DRINKING GOURD seems related to the whole idea of dippers, but SEVEN OXEN? WAGON OF HEAVEN? Not only have I never heard of these, they are useless in terms of understanding what the hell is going on with all the "X" / "I" squares..”

If Rex had taken the time to notice that each of those long downs begins with “Celestial figure depicted in this puzzle’s grid….” he probably would have inferred that the circled squares make a constellation. Once you get to DOUBLE DIPPERS, it falls into place pretty easily.

@pmdm and @Z. Im scratching my head about the spoiler alert discussion. Surely there can’t be people who decide to read a blog about a specific published puzzle and then find themselves disappointed that the blog discusses that puzzle. My gof, who are these people?

This was a really wonderful debut puzzle, Chandi Dietmer.

Bustedarmart 12:03 PM  

Thank you, Chandi, for a delightful puzzle!

I wish I had solved on paper, so as to have had the chance to write in the asterisks, but I only ever solve in the Times app on my phone, and I just accept there are some limitations with that.
No need to enter it as a rebus; I just put in the X or the I, and the app accepted it.

I enjoyed the challenges throughout the solve. Any time I thought I might be stuck, there were crosses to keep me moving. Ended up solving faster than average Sunday time.

Good Gof, there are a lot of Negative Nellies here. I think Rex’s incessant complaining is a poor example.

mickey Omostly 12:05 PM  

If I see Liz Gorski I stick it with the Pile of Monday’s for wrapping fish. Why does she get work in this field?dirty pictures?

Matt 12:08 PM  

Print solver here: I think they screwed the pooch on the print edition by actually giving the diagrams of the Big and Little Dippers: there was no "reveal" of the theme since it was literally drawn in front of you. If they'd just used the old convention of the circle in the square, it would have meant first discovering the I + X = * bit, which wasn't obvious with the diagram because the constellation lines are at irregular angles (so forcing a square to look like an I and an X and a credible asterisk is impossible) and then the traditional reward of scratching in the lines to reveal the constellation shapes.

That's some serious editing gaffe. Why Dear Leader Shortz felt it was necessary to dumb down the grid in print is a mystery, but it killed a major monument of potential AHA joy.

Was the overall grid pattern supposed to look like a star too? I'm not seeing it.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Hated this puzzle. Absolute garbage. To this puzzle: CeeLo said it best (not the clean version).

Anon 12:14 PM  

Ha ha ha. An intellectually satisfying puzzle. Great job Chandi Dietmer. Of course "Rex Parker" here is at a loss. Professor of comics indeed!

Matt 12:23 PM  

Thank you for the extra cultural lesson!

Learning interesting things from crosswords is one of the joys of doing them. (The sidebars Rex does on a clue each puzzle are the best part of the blog posts, imho). I never fail to understand people who get mad or give up because something they don't yet know, but might after solving the puzzle, makes it a little harder to solve.

Brooklyn Roasting 12:25 PM  

Sandiegan? At one point I had singlegay But knew that Alexangra was just not possible…Forget about the asterisks. Those stars were way over my head.

Paul 12:33 PM  

I went with an X in each circled square. That was accepted. Hand up for not thinking about superimposing the X and the I to get a star until I read the blog.

Ξ© 12:40 PM  

@Brooklyn Roasting - Somebody from San Diego would be a SAN DIEGAN.

@Frantic Sloth - I love trees, too. They give us shade and paper and we can and should plant new ones. And while hugging one does the tree no good it is probably good for the hugger.

Is there anybody in the middle on this puzzle? Seems like a real love hate relationship today. I’m Team Love.

Schuly 12:48 PM  

Rex's least favorite Merle Haggard song.

Oh Please 12:51 PM  

The NYT absolutely needs to GIVE US DIRECTIONS for their online treatment of 'tricks'.

I put an "X" in for each of the. "Down-X, Across-I " answers. More than halfway through, I worried

(remembered?)that the Times that wouldn't take one answer where there are 2.

So I redid all of the doubles as I/X which was accepted.

HOW HARD would it be to have boiler plate instructions for different answers Down and Across?

Robert 12:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joaquin 12:57 PM  

@Z - If I understand you correctly, I should not discuss the answers to the crossword puzzles on a crossword puzzle discussion blog because it may spoil it for someone reading the crossword blog who has not actually done the crossword puzzle being discussed.

So, remind me. Why are we here? And why in the world would someone who has not yet solved the puzzle be here?

Nancy from Chicago 12:59 PM  

@ZenMonkey, if you're solving on the NYTimes site, according to Wordplay, the * should work. Or X/I, I/X, XI, IX, X or I. X/I worked for me.

Unknown 1:04 PM  

Must admit I liked this puzzle a lot--very clever and complex. Okay...I hate sports questions and, oddly, given that I live in the southwest, I struggled with "Goya's output" because I kept thinking of the artist.

Gnarls Barkley 1:05 PM  

I know the clue makes this inappropriate but I discovered CeeLo Green through his collaboration with Dangermouse so I tend to think of his big hit as Crazy.

@Z you may want to revisit the NYT app. I work on iPad and have absolutely no beefs about it. I put in x in circle and figured i when solving across. Upon completion the xs were connected. When you say solve as gof, do you not like how the app shows both the across and down clues?

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Can somebody delete this incredibly vile and sexist comment?

Malsdemare 1:19 PM  

To all who wonder about Z’s point about spoilers. I guess there are people who do the puzzle a day or more later than we do. If we discuss an answer to July 1st’s puzzle on July 2nd, someone who did the July 2nd puzzle but not the July 1st puzzle gets his July 1st experience spoiled.

A Moderator 1:27 PM  

@Anon 1:12

Please provide the time of the comment you're referring to and I'll check it out.


John H 1:30 PM  

A real slog, not a lot of fun. Rex must be using the same software I do, because revealing the solution also rendered the circles as lower case "a". Across Lite, btw. This is doubly weird because it is not actually possible for the solver to enter any letter in lower case. There is no way to do it. But I guess I learned something about the big and little dippers.

Ξ© 1:32 PM  

@Joaquin12:57 - See @Malsdemare1:19.

Masked and Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Well, learned a lot about dippers, today -- at a cost of many nanoseconds per lesson.
But the "Star Search" part wasn't very hard, due to all them real faint lines, zippin & dippin around in the printed puzgrid version. Once I caught onto the "*" = "X/I" mcguffin at AXLES/IPADPRO, I just splatzed all the gimme *'s in, quicker than a Vulcan logical snot.

staff weeject pick: BUS. That raised-by-restaurant-wolves BUS clue was *stupendous*. Honrable mention to WEE, of course.

Thanx for the star-studded attraction, Ms. Deitmer darlin. And congratz on yer SunPuz-style debut, implyin much extra new-constructioneer sufferin.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Anonymous 1:35 PM  

This was my favorite Sun. puzzle in a long time. Met my Goldilocks test, whereas too many recently have been too easy (and I'm not that good!). I solve in print, I saw the line drawings of the dippers clearly, and while that helped me with the theme (in addition to title), I didn't "get" the asterisks until coming here. No biggie; I just wrote an X and an I in the same square as needed (and with 1 down and 18 across, I got that so early, I wasn't frustrated later with the others). I know that that enslaved Americans called the Big Dipper the Drinking Gourd, so then I could tell what concept was being asked in the other long downs, even if I was unfamiliar with those other cultures' names for it. Polaris clue and it's position in the puzzle icing on the cake, as others have already said.

I liked the punning clues for suits and springs, and I learned about Mexico and dahlias (isn't that at least partly why we solve crosswords? To learn new factoids?). Since the NYT Magazine *just* ran cover stories on Lil Nas X and Kevin Durant, Sun. paper readers should have had those in their wheelhouse even if previously unknown. Did Ms. Deitmer choose them purposefully, coincidentally? I chose to believe so and appreciated that layering.

I give her ***** and look forward to more of her puzzles!

Barbara S. 1:40 PM  

OK, drip, drip, drip, shaking the water out of my feathers… I live in an old house and we had a plumbing emergency last night, kitchen ceiling buckling, water dripping everywhere (including onto stove), wet floor, cat paddling by using wok as boat and wooden spoon as oar. Sure could’ve used those Dippers! Anyway, I’d completed the puzzle by then, grasped about X’s going one way and I’s the other, saw the constellations which the app drew for me and the Dipper-related answers, but completely missed the whole asterisk/star angle. I headed straight for the NYT Wordplay blog (this was suppertime last night so long before Rex) and got the dope. I’m full of admiration for the intricacy, but have to find fault at leaving so many of us asea (water metaphors are coming naturally). Anyway, a bang-up start for Chandi Deitmer, who I’m confident will end up in the top ranks of constructors.

Joaquin 1:43 PM  

@Z - I did see Malsdemare's post but I'm not buying it. Very few, if any, in that category. So, we'll agree to disagree on this issue and I'll move on. Just consider seeing my name on a post as a spoiler alert if you ever skip a day in solving.

KevinF 1:44 PM  

Aha. Clever now that I see it but came here searching hoping for an answer as it was bugging the heck out of me.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

IMO, Liz Gorski is just divine. I've been longing for one of her puzzles. So clever. She's my favorite after Patrick Berry.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Gorski is incredible.

Barbara S. 1:47 PM  

I do have a quotation for today, so I’ll post it despite the late hour. This is by JOSEPHINE TEY, born July 25, 1896.

“Grant paused in the act of turning the thing over, to consider the face a moment longer. A judge? A soldier? A prince? Someone used to great responsibility, and responsible in his authority. Someone too-conscientious. A worrier; perhaps a perfectionist. A man at ease in a large design, but anxious over details. A candidate for gastric ulcer. Someone, too, who had suffered ill-health as a child. He had that incommunicable, that indescribable look that childhood suffering leaves behind it; less positive than the look on a cripple’s face, but as inescapable. This the artist had both understood and translated into terms of paint. The slight fullness of the lower eyelid, like a child that has slept too heavily; the texture of the skin; the old-man look in a young face.
He turned the portrait over to look for a caption.
On the back was printed: Richard the Third. From the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery. Artist Unknown.”
(From The Daughter of Time)

PhysGraf 1:47 PM  

I thought everyone here (including Rex) would have been EXCORIATing "ETEXT" which has likely never been written/uttered ever anywhere.

Liked the puzzle in general though with the exception of the Naticky central south which required me to cheat by using IMDB for ISSARAE to get the ALTAI crossing. Still had to finish by guessing LANE because I don't get how you have to notice a LANE just to pass. I hope that everyone is always fully aware of their LANEs the entire time that they are driving.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

I couldn't agree more. I also appreciated this puzzle. Sundays have become so ridiculously easy...

Anonymous 2:05 PM  


Cassieopia 2:11 PM  

The Big Dipper is on the Alaska flag, and it was the first constellation I could identify as a child, so this was a home run as far as I’m concerned. Lots of theme echoes too - Stella in Latin, KEVIN Durant super star, SPACEX. If this is a debut, I can’t wait for more.

G. Weissman 2:11 PM  

I share the general sentiment that this was an impressive feat of construction that’ makes for a head-scratching so-so solving experience. I’d just add that the torrent of proper names is a bummer.

oceanjeremy 2:25 PM  

Commenting from the beach today with limited signal, and limited time, so apologies for skipping all previous comments as I will inevitably repeat something someone else has pointed out.

Today is my fiancΓ©e‘s birthday! Hence the beach. We solved on paper, as we do, together, every Saturday and Sunday. The paper puzzle has no circles but, instead, line drawings of the constellations. Where the line turns you start to see it’s X across and I down, and the first time we encountered this we wrote an “X” over where we’d already written an “I” and — eureka! — the asterisk appeared. Delightful!

Solving on paper today was an absolute joy. Especially as it’s my fiancee’s birthday and her name appeared in the puzzle (ALEXANDRA), as well as the country that both of her parents are NATIVE TO (GREECE).

An absolute joy.

And now we are going to laze on beach, read books, fly a kite and probably even get into the water.

What? 2:25 PM  

kudos to the constructor for what must have been many hours of mix-and- match. She may have started in 2005.
Unlike many others, I enjoyed most of the puzzle, no doubt because I like rebuses and I got the Xi pretty quick. Rest of the puzzle not great but not bad either. A B+.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Geez. . . Wonder what Rex's comments would be if the constructor didn't have a vagina. . . First time in 20 years a NYT Sunday ended up in the trash can. . . What an unadulterated piece of garbage!!

burtonkd 2:30 PM  

inre spoilers: The moderators are instructed to not approve comments with spoilers for puzzles other than the day in question. They have kindly reminded me before, and must have missed something if a spoiler was posted.

Thanks Rex for the I X overlay, otherwise everything was clear.

K. James 2:41 PM  

All of this silly endless talk about Puzzazz, Across Lite, the "paper" version, and the NYTimes app - talk that leads us nowhere......

If you were really solving this puzzle the way God intended it to be solved, you would stretch out your arm, point your finger to the sky, and paint the solution on the firmament of heaven!

And that's all I've got to say. Amen.

old timer 2:49 PM  

I gave up in disgust. I do the puzzle in the Magazine and there was no clue as to what was going on in the print edition that is part of my Times subscription.

However the other puzzles were first rate. I am partway through a Split Decisions. So far, I am confirmed in my belief that Fred Piscop is the true genius of all things wordplay.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

The Daughter of Time is a great book. It convinced me that Richard III was not guilty as charged.


Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Wow. I am truly surprised at the number of people who hated this puzzle. Count me in on the positive side!

JC66 3:11 PM  

@old timer

Look closer and you''ll see both DIPPERS in very light gray.

JC66 3:12 PM  

I didn't see them at first, either.

GILL I. 3:28 PM  

Im late...I'm late...I'm fashionably gorgeously late.
Did I love this? Oh, yes...yes...yes. But why, dear Chandi, couldn't you slip Betelgeuse in somewhere?
This took me a bunch of head scratches. The little drawing of the Dippers were very hard for me to see. I thought maybe my granddaughter doodled on my puzzle.
XI it is. And look.....aren't the Celestial Figures the Ursa Major we know them as?
I love the cosmos, I love the stars and I could stare at them all night. My brother taught me lots about them. And then you go and draw and draw and figure out how to put all these things into an order and and and, I'm just so impressed by your puzzle.
My only huh was for 56A. Symbol of Mexico....I so wanted Jaguar or maybe an Eagle(s)...hell, even discussting Tecate fits....Instead you gave me DAHL[XI]A. That ok. I now know it's their national flower.
En hora buena.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

I have not needed Rex Parker for years, but this one send me back to the master. I did not enjoy it and took too long to admit defeat.

Irishmaineiac 3:43 PM  

No circles on my print copy.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

My wife and I did the paper edition, and ended up finishing, but it was a long slog. We never figured out that X overlapped with I makes a star; we just saw that the answers where stars would be located were an X going down and an I going across. No need for explanations - that's not a totally new NYT trick.

Basically, we pretty much solved as a themeless except for eventually realizing that I/X occurred at every star location. But we did find it hard.


Joe Dipinto 4:12 PM  

So let me get this straight:

@Joaquin, in his thread opener today, refers to a remark he made in the comments yesterday, without contextualizing it in terms of the puzzle. @Z comes along at 10:45 and creates a spoiler by "clarifying" that @Joaquin was referring to an answer in yesterday puzzle – and then, @Z reveals its exact location at position 1A.

And @Z's post still sits here while @Joaquin's was deleted? Something is ass-backward.

TTrimble 4:13 PM  

Late to the party (again), so don't have much to add that is new. My appreciation for the puzzle has only grown throughout the day. Aiding that is @Nancy's link to that wonderful recording of The Weaver's Follow the DRINKING GOURD, which was followed by reading up on The Weavers, with interest. I love learning what y'all have to teach me.

Despite figuring out the I/X gimmick fairly early, it took me about 30% longer than an average recent Sunday puzzle, but it was fine. I learned a few things from it. And the construction is indeed impressive.

Took me a long time to get the cluing for FRIJOLES :-). BUS was also nice.

I've yet to see an ad with the alcoholic seltzer everyone is talking about. Has anyone here actually tried it? (Thanks, but I'll stick to whisky and wine. Not from a GOURD however.)

Nice to hear from @SouthsideJohnny that he does SB. And he's right that this one is eminently doable. Fellow SB-ers: give this one a try, if you haven't already. Now, onto the Fred Piscop puzzle.

Catching up on much-needed sleep, and dream time. I had a dream that had @Frantic Sloth in it, about the first day of teaching an upcoming course. You ever have that dream where you sit down to an exam, completely unprepared? It happens to instructors too, but from the other side of the lectern: the course begins and you have no idea what to say. Happily, @FS was pretty kind about my plight.

Enjoy the day!

Nancy 4:25 PM  

If Barbara S's quote today from Josephine Tey's "The Daughter of Time" doesn't make you want to want to read that novel ASAP, nothing will. I consider it one of the five greatest mystery novels ever written -- the other four being by Agatha Christie.

And I'm not just any reader making this recommendation. I'm the former Editor of The Mystery Guild. You should know, too, that Marie R., the Mystery Guild Editor who preceded me, also thought "The Daughter of Time" one of the greatest if not THE greatest mystery of all time. Our mutual love and admiration of both Christie and Tey may be why Marie turned the club over to me when she was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of The Literary Guild.

But the novel isn't just for mystery fans. Both history buffs and Shakespeare buffs will also love it for the unique insights it offers into the real-life Richard III.

G. Tex 4:29 PM  

@ Joe DIPinto

Apparently you have forgotten that when the arbiter of all truth and the Lord Mayor of the blog speaks, he is infallible. All righteousness is His, and His alone.

How could you be so silly as to forget that?

kitshef 4:37 PM  

@Z - you can put me in the "middle ground" category. Better than an average Sunday, but nothing to rave about.

Louis Proyect 4:47 PM  

A loathsome puzzle that I bailed on as soon as I realized that the x and the i was supposed to help draw pictures. Can't stand them. Glad to see Rex give it its due.

PGregory Springer 5:38 PM  

So many wonderful aha moments, including the long fused X+I = *, which came to me an hour after i finished the puzzle. Thanks.

pabloinnh 5:49 PM  

@Nancy, others--I read "The Daughter of Time" more than fifty years ago, on the recommendation of my Shakespeare professor, as I had expressed an interest in Richard III. I thought it was just wonderful and it led me to some other research which convinced me that Richard III had gotten a bum rap. I said as much in the paper I wound up writing, which got a grade I was very happy with, but I'm sure he also gave me bonus points for good attendance and being a nice person.

Joaquin 5:49 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (4:12) - I, too, was gobsmacked by the deletion of my innocuous post. I cannot imagine I spoiled anyone's solving experience.

Oh well. Let @Z chalk this one up in his "win" column. But I am seriously considering hiring Rudy Giuliani to see if this blog is rigged.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Joe DIpipinto,
Yep. Exhibit 1,00000, 000 that certain posters are privileged.
Forget logic, decency or fairness. This is a club. QED

chance2travel 5:53 PM  

Although I prefer rebuses stick to Thursday, I've seen enough Sunday ones to be ok with them occasionally. Solved on the website, so I had circles to indicate the X/I locations. Guess I was lucky enough to see AXLES crossing IPADPROS to guess there was an X/I thing going on. Literally entered it with the slash and was accepted at the end. Overall time was Easy/Medium, better than my average for sure.

Totally understand everyone who panned it and everyone who adored it, whereas for me it was simply satisfying.

Got worried by ELLICE and ILANA. Enjoyed RAMEN and MT FUJI.

A 6:50 PM  

Late and long but what else is new?

Different grid art experience here - when I previewed the “newspaper version” it showed the dippers, but when I went back to the online version to actually print it, the dippers were gone and now there were circles. So I got a much needed assist and enjoyed all the bits of half-lost information resurfacing from the nether regions of my memory. Hope we see more of Chandi’s work.

Loved learning about the GOURD, the OXEN and the WAGON. And @Maldemare’s Navajo origin story - agree about the absurd sexism, btw!

Liked the clue for OASES (they have springs in the middle). The symmetrical COURT PERIL.

My one-letter dnf was BaS. I was in no mood for table-clearing, so I twisted my gray matter into knots imagining some crystal form of bas relief, where the thinner parts wold be clear. Sure, I CAN SEE that. And if the NYTXW has taught me nothing, it’s be on the lookout for alternate spellings. ODIaM. Just NO EXCUSE - get on the BUS, GUS.

Slight side-eye to AXLES AXL and RAN RERAN.

Hey @ROO, great writeup today - thanks for the play by play. Did U notice the diagonal U triplets in AULD, COURT and ALOUETTE?

Thanks @Peter P for identifying the Baader-Meinhof effect - should come in handy to all those who now are seeing yesterday’s seltzer beverage everywhere today. I remember when we bought a Toyota van (the pre-Previa version which had no moniker). All of a sudden we were seeing them everywhere. Figured it was a brain trick, but didn’t know the name.

Speaking of yesterday, due to meetings/teaching, I did the Saturday puzzle in 3 sessions, with no time to come here. Funny story re 1A - I’ve seen the seltzer brand in stores, because that’s where food comes from*, but recalling the name is another story. Between sessions I happened to stop at the grocers, and happened to see a display of said seltzer. Ironically, I still managed to dnf on the happenskidink entry.

@M&A, vodka and cinnamon rolls?

*@Frantic, “not having been in a supermarket/grocery store in years” - years?! What, you grow your own food?! Congrats on your inCLUSion in the clues today!

@Barbara S, thanks for the Tey - this is another one going on my list!

Looking at Hokusia’s 36 views of MT. FUJI influenced my music choice for today/yesterday, In the mountains: Rustic Dance
by Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch, born July 24, 1880.

Bonus art tie-in from yesterday, Ernest’s duaghter Lucienne Bloch worked as Diego Rivera’s chief photographer on the Rockefeller Center mural project, became friends with Rivera's wife, the artist Frida Kahlo, and took some key photos of Kahlo and the only photographs of Rivera's mural.

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

Except for a couple of obscure answers (ENATIC, ALTAI - note that this blog spell checker underlines ENATIC as misspelled), numerous names of people I don't know, and the tricky cluing of BUS, I moved pretty quickly through this. I got the I/X in the circles thing pretty quickly without recognizing that they meant 'stars' and that the stars were vertices of the pictures (doing it on the NYT site did not show the picture until completed). I figured that the long downs were just alternate names for the same constellation (not knowing it was the dippers) and reasoned out the words with crosses (never heard of any of them). After reading through the blog and understanding all of the side meanings I am impressed with the construction, albeit at the expense of a good solve.

Cliff 7:49 PM  

I wonder if anyone realized the XI circles were actually *. Those of us using software versions are not allowed to superimpose letters that way. But I wonder if anyone solving the print version got that little letter play. And I wonder if anyone connected the dots to see the big and little dippers while solving? The software versions drew them for us. Did print version solvers EVER realize they were suppose to see those constellations ??

Chris 9:03 PM  

No tennis racquet has ever been strung with cat gut, it's all cow gut.

albatross shell 9:19 PM  

Put me in the wow loved it crowd even though I I did not finish in 4 places. BUS was a savage misdirect. Didn't get it but loved it. Not as much love for FRIOLES but I got it.
Also progressing more slowly than most folks I paused to think how is this IX going to fit in with the theme? Oh of course. Asterisk. And then we're going to have a drawing because the grid looks like a man in a topless stovepipe hat. Not a bear or a dipper. Yes Lincoln someone said.

The DIPPERS are called asterisms. Asterisms are parts of constellations that are known on their own as patterns of stars. How fitting they are drawn here by asterisks. Except they are not on mine. I started putting in I or A, then IA, then I/A, then *. When I pressed check puzzle (to see if I could figure out my missing squares by seeing what I had right) I still had a mishmash in the circled clues and they were all counted as correct. Bless you NYTCW APP. None of them changed either.

One piece of fun was I got MTFUJI I was looking at it during the woman's cycling road race.

Poor moderators. We are making us work over time. But hey, how come Rex gets to do it? Just cause he signs the paychecks? Jeesh! Dirty capitalists.

Maybe god intended the APP?

Is Poirot's Last Case one of them?

Surprise you that all but 3 or 4 of us agreed with you on Gump? You're welcome to switch.

7 stars. Each one is an ox. Kind of like a Seven Sisters.
Use your imagination: A dipper is shaped like a wagon. Add your own wheels. Drinking gourd. Well I guess you got it's like a dipper. Maybe.

albatross shell 9:39 PM  

@Chris 903pm
You are right about cat gut. But they are made from catgut.

TTrimble 9:48 PM  

@Chris 9:03PM
Yes, but surely the intended spelling is CATGUT, not CAT GUT. See here for etymological proposals, one of which is that it's short for "cattlegut".

Sandy McCroskey 10:20 PM  

I'm glad I printed this out. A commenter pointed out that the print version has the dippers actually drawn in (but no circles). I preferred having the circles, and connecting them later (which I neglected to do, actually, though I imagined that was going on). Having the revealer revealed that was beforehand seems a spoiler.

I enjoyed very much being reminded of, and learning some of, the names other cultures have had for these constellations.

TTrimble 11:31 PM  

@albatross shell
I hadn't even checked until now. No, I'll stay put, thanks. Sure, you're right about the literary traditions of innocent "idiots" triumphing. But I think I'm right about the film stinking of cliche, for example where Jenny is concerned, and lends itself to the suggestion that the activist ideals of the 60's coming from the left were phony. It seemed pretty concrete and biting in that regard; any similar satirical take on conservative values, if such was there at all, was murkier. Just my impression.

It's not particularly important to me, though. Someone, perhaps @kitshef, didn't like Castaway which was another Hanks-Zemeckis collaboration. I actually found that one a lot more engaging, more of a story and less of a commentary.

puzzlehoarder 11:43 PM  

Very late solving and commenting because I'm on vacation with my family and shouldn't be solving anyway but I have say this is one of the worst solving expiriences I've ever had and I've had a lot. Finished with a clean grid but it felt like root canal. Hard to say what was the nadir. Was it the can of beans posing as the work of a Spanish artist's or was it that lampshade on the head excuse for humor to indicate the BUSing of tables.

A great deal of this falls on the editor. There has to be BUSses where he lives and sooner or later he'll walk in front of one.

A 1:06 AM  

@albatross, @TTrimble and @Chris - that catgut isn't cat gut is news to me and a great relief - thanks! I'll sleep better now.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Thank you!

Okoume 7:14 AM  

Rebus IX worked for me. I usually enter the across letter then the down letter in rebuses like this. Good luck with your streak!

Amy 8:47 AM  


Joe in Newfoundland 9:06 AM  

my print edition didn't have the circles, so too bad for me. Re wagons, The Wain is a traditional name for this constellation (I'm surprised we didn't get ASTERISM in the puzzle)

old timer 9:52 AM  

I do the puzzles in the actual Sunday Magazine, and there, there was no clue as to what was going on. I finally gave up in disgust. OTOH the other puzzles were excellent today. Including a Split Decisions that so far is excellent. Fred Piscop is the true genius of wordplay. Who knows, maybe the rest of the Times or the Magazine is worth the price of buying a copy today, if you don't subscribe.

jberg 10:38 AM  

I've mostly stopped doing Sunday puzzles, but I had some free time last night, so I started this one, and finished it up this morning (after doing the Monday puzzle.=). So this comment will not get much readership (it's 10:30 AM Monday as I write). But I had to come here to complain about XTINA. It's OK if you happen to know it, but two of the letters are not crossed! Since some, but not all of the Is in acrosses become Xs in the downs, and the crosses give you ITINA, there is no way to know which one to change. I finally had to look her up on the web.

Moreover, from what I read, XTINA is basically a short way of writing her first name (like XMAS) rather than an "alter ego." Clued that way, I would have got it.

Several clues referred to something pictured in the grid, which made me see the face drawn by the black squares. When I got DOUBLE DIPPERS, I even tried to see dippers in the two bottom corners; then it finally occurred to me that I would probably get a picture if I connected all the IX squares; but I didn't try it, because I had so many writeovers it would have been a pain to find them.

So -- an admirable feat of construction, but a pain to solve, and a finished-only-with-cheating.

Jbug 10:50 AM  

How do you get Sunday puzzle not in print??? Please share!

Ryan Crinnigan 11:24 AM  

Virtually every crossword is “unrelated bits of trivial information”

Ryan Crinnigan 11:28 AM  

Rex’s write ups these days are basically “I knew this and this it was acceptable; I didn’t know this and this it was bad.” Pretty useless. Also I’ve read his reviews for a long time and I still have zero concept of what he thinks constitutes a good puzzle.

Best Sunday in quite a while.

Linder 12:14 PM  

@RooMonster, for 58D: est (aka EST) "is at the Forum" as in The Forum, Werner Erhard's seminar training groups (child of the 70s here)

Bob Mills 1:30 PM  

I quit doing the Sunday puzzle because of grids like this. Now I'm going to quit again. Ridiculous.

Fitzy 10:37 PM  

I believe Seven Oxen is singular as it is the name of a constellation. I learned so much from this puzzle!

ghostoflectricity 10:56 PM  

I'm surprised His Holy Wokeness gave "GOYA" a pass. The CEO and leader of that food product company has proudly and publicly proclaimed his allegiance and financial backing of TFG, as President Biden refers to the orange thing, and has triggered something of a boycott of Goya products. Don't you read the papers, Rex?

Cristi 2:36 AM  

Yes! You located Natick central.

isobel 4:26 PM  

With a NYTimes crossword subscription. You can print either the online version or the print version which may either be the same or in this case different. I printed both which was helpful in solving. I actually enjoyed the challenge here, but I had to put it aside for a day and then came back to it. Congrats Chandigarh Deitmer!

isobel 4:29 PM  

With a NYTimes crossword subscription. You can print either the online version or the print version which may either be the same or in this case different. I printed both which was helpful in solving. I actually enjoyed the challenge here, but I had to put it aside for a day and then came back to it. Congrats Chandigarh Deitmer!

Vera Similitude 2:35 PM  

I *still* do not understand the answer for 41 Across. And no one but “Teedham” commented on it,, and she just said how she it was the worst of the clues and spelled out how she had gotten it wrong.
Could someone explain how so many Californians are “SANDIEGAN”???

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

Vera Similitude The population of San Diego is almost 1,500,000.

Christopher P. 9:53 AM  

I'm late as usual in solving, but I need to post anyway, even if no one will read this...

What a GENIUS of a puzzle. My true respect to the constructor, Chandi Deitmer, and the programmers that made it sketch out the constellations on my laptop at the end of the solve. Very few ever think of the folks that create the code that we use and enjoy every day, but I do. Back in the day, I programmed in Fortran. Also loved how the X and I formed an asterisk. How clever!

But at the same time, I feel so sad for all those who found that it did not meet their needs for their happy Sunday solve. I truly don't get all the griping from some when they learn something new. I mean, maybe you don't need to REVEL in the enlightenment, but cheeze, keep it to yourself, or scribble on the crossword page like I do sometimes. (BTW to myself... why do I even read the negativity from Rex and others in this blog now that I know it is a given?)

I spend a lot of time gazing at the stars and reading about what we have discovered, but still learned something from this puzzle. Keep it going Chandi and Will !

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

@Linder-- The way I understood the clue "Is at the Forum"? EST means "is" in Latin, at the Roman Forum. Maybe I'm naive. Or maybe we're both right!

Burma Shave 2:03 PM  


SIR, there's NOEXCUSE, as far as ICANSEE,
NOE, the SLOWEST abuse, AND finished TIREDLY.


Diana, LIW 2:07 PM  

It's *** ***N ****ING REBUS.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for real Crossword Puzzles
And I'll be gone for a week - not because I'm angry today!!!!!

rondo 2:12 PM  

How does @spacey put it? DNBTF - did not bother to finish. Yeah, I saw the DIPPERS. Got maybe a third done and realized it was a trivia-laced slogfest with rebus squares. Hope @Diana, LIW didn't suffer through this one.

rondo 2:14 PM  

Well, there's my answer.

Unknown 2:37 PM  


DaveR8R 3:34 PM  

Don't know of this was pointed out but the X and I is really X and Y, all are found at the loci or nodes, making the I into a Y, guess Rex didn't take Econometrics 501

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Um, no. EST refers to the Latin word for "is". The Forum refers to the Roman Forum, where they spoke Latin.

mtb 5:00 PM  

BUS= Boy~Under~Server. The job at the bottom of front of the house restaurant serving. Actually, an apprenticeship . Definitely not an individual who takes bus to work.
Way, way, way, before google, that for sure!

spacecraft 6:54 PM  

Got everything except the BUS natick. Never heard of PROSECCO, and if you're asking me to get from "Clear, as crystal" to BUS, then you're just asking too much. That clue is patently, grossly unfair. After it's explained it makes sense, I guess, but that's just too much of a misdirect. I cry foul on an otherwise brilliant puzzle.

strayling 7:32 PM  

Tricky, but I managed to *ahem* plough my way through it.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

Brilliant puzzle--funnest Sunday in a long time. (One natick, but overall it felt like fewer obscure names that beg for a guess or a google.)

Well done, Chandi.

Franc 1:08 PM  

Took most of the week for us. We only work NYT and LA Sunday puzzles and only during meals. This was brilliant but made our heads hurt. Not sure why we didn't give up, but we never do and we trudged on from Wed. thru Saturday. Luckily we found DIPPERS early on in the solving. Did not understand BUS. Missed ...FRIJOLES completely! It took a long time but I can't imagine how long it took Chandi.

Khrystle 10:06 PM  

Such a fun puzzle. I'm an astronomer so loved the references to other civilizations' image of the dippers.
Not sure why you continue this blog, Rex. You never like the puzzles so why continue with this?

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