Adds insult to injury / SUN 8-29-21 / Vinyl collection / Where fruit bat soup is eaten as a delicacy / Largest object in the Kuiper belt

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Constructor: Dory Mintz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (some parts a piece of cake, but the east side....not so much)


THEME: Familiar Phrase +  ə  = (Fill in your own level of enjoyment here)! — Add a schwa somewhere within a familiar phrase to get your theme answers and clue them with wacky ? clues (which are wackily clued literally!). 

Theme answers:

  • FANTASY SUPPORTS (22A: Beams of one's dreams?) from FANTASY SPORTS   
  • GO FOR BAROQUE (33A: Visit a museum to see a Rembrandt exhibit?) from GO FOR BROKE 
  • FALCON CARESSED (49A: Bird of prey that's gently petted?) from FALCON CREST
  • THEROUX IN THE TOWEL (67A: Actor Justin sitting poolside?) from THROW IN THE TOWEL
  • DERIDE APRICOTS (86A: Make fun of small orange fruits?) from DRIED APRICOTS
  • GRAVY TERRAIN (102A: Mashed potatoes, on a Thanksgiving plate?) from GRAVY TRAIN
  • THUNDER COLLAPSE (116A: Fourth-quarter meltdown at an N.B.A game in Oklahoma City?) from THUNDER CLAPS (could be one word or two...)

Word of the Day: OMAKASE (I'm cheating a little -- the answer is SUSHI to the clue 25A: Food served in an OMAKASE meal ) —

The phrase omakase, literally 'I leave it up to you',[3] is most commonly used when dining at Japanese restaurants where the customer leaves it up to the chef to select and serve seasonal specialties.[4] In American English, the expression is used by patrons at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef, as opposed to ordering à la carte.[6] The chef will present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to the heaviest dishes.[7] The phrase is not exclusive to raw fish with rice and can incorporate grilling, simmering and other cooking techniques.

Customers ordering omakase style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in selecting dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance.[10][11] Ordering omakase can be a gamble, but the customer typically receives the highest-quality fish available at a lower cost than if it had been ordered à la carte.[12] According to Jeffrey Steingarten, recounting in Vogue a 22-course "memorable feast" that required several hours:

In the U.S., omakase usually refers to an extended sushi dinner, ideally eaten at the sushi counter, where the chef prepares one piece of fish at a time, announces its name and origin, answers your questions, and guesses what else you might enjoy and how much more you'd like to eat. You expect to be brought the most perfect seafood available at that time of year, fish that will be handled as carefully as a kidney awaiting transplantation and as respectfully as a still-living thing. You marvel at the endless training of the dedicated staff, the precision of their work, their incredible concentration for hours at a time, their lack of pretense, their quiet. And the beauty of their knives.



• • •

Hi there! It's Colin (NYC classical pianist) back again to fill in for Rex on this late summer Sunday! And what a thrilling and innovative theme for us today! OOPSIE -- I clearly made an error in totspeak (see: 60A). I meant -- What a ho-hum well-worn theme with some serious groaners for us today!


Let me get one thing out of the way. I know many readers of this blog are aware of Rex's general frustration level with the quality of Sunday puzzles. At times, I agree with him on that front -- if this really
is supposed to be the flagship puzzle of the damn Federation, then they better get the equivalent of Jean-Luc Picard to man the Enterprise every time it leaves a Starbase. (I promise no more Star Trek TNG references for the rest of this post. Maybe.) That being said, I do find I enjoy the Sunday puzzles (or tolerate their too often Dad-joke themes) more than Rex does. However, this one.....Uh? Oh.....not so much. 

Let's start with the theme. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a new theme concept -- which does not mean it should never be used again, of course! However, in my opinion, if such a simple theme as 'add a syllable to phrases' is going to headline the Sunday NYTXW, then it better be GOOD. I should be smirking, smiling, and ideally laughing at each (or, at least, some) of the theme answers. But these really fell flat with me. 

The first themer to fall (flat) for me was FALCON CARESSED. I flew though the NW corner, jumped to the NNW because YES WE CAN (30A: See 4A) literally told me to, and then got stuck so couldn't keep plowing eastward. So in looking to the south, I easily got CONN (31D: N.Y. neighbor) and reluctantly got ABACI (32D: Calculators of old). Truth be told, I really hoped I was wrong with that.....uh, oh....I wasn't. Biggest issue was not sure if I was more annoyed with the fact that ABACI was in the puzzle...or that I got it with only the A----. Long story short (too late) I got to FALCON CARESSED and that's when I literally told my wife out loud -- 'I figured it out. And I don't think I'm going to like it.' 

The other themers are just plain rough. No way to sugarcoat it. I have very little patience for using the word BAROQUE as a pun for BROKE (not to mention it required 14D to be the incredibly inelegant visual of ETSEQ). I've just heard it too many times. That looks just a wee ICKY (59A: Gross) to me. I feel like I can say that honestly separating my music background and hearing more BACH/BACK BAROQUE/BROKE HAYDN/HIDING "jokes" than anyone should ever be exposed to. Just stick with viola jokes (which in general are ALWAYS funny)! On that note (ouch....unfortunate pun there), if you want truly entertaining music humor, please enjoy some PDQ Bach (the genius Peter Schickele): 



A few of the other themers FARED better, but only slightly. Biggest problem with a big old Sunday puzzle is that if your theme doesn't work, you have an even larger canvas to expose it's issues. 

One last observation regarding the themers: I think I would have appreciated (maybe not liked, but at least appreciated) if all the theme answers had the added syllable in the same place, or at least in the same location in the sequence. Or if the themers were all somehow wackily related? Again, I fully acknowledge it's easier to point out flaws in the theme than to come up with a tight Sunday-worthy set....but I also don't think I'm wrong. (Right?) We did get three different vowels adding the schwa (A/E/O), which I did notice and appreciate....but I also noticed that we didn't get all five vowels in the set.

I'd like to take a moment and point out some clues in this puzzle that I really did enjoy. In general, my favorite kind of clues are ones that take a regular interesting-ish word OR SO (76D: ...ish) and make it fun/enjoyable/clever/spicy/crossword adjective meaning 'good'. For instance, INTER (11D: Lead-in to com or net, but not org) and MENU (90A: Something rectangular that might have more than four sides). Neither of those words is particularly exciting, and only 4 and 5 letters -- but I liked that those clues made me think for a second in a way that I hadn't thought about those words (or words in the clues) before. I also appreciated the clue for ESCALATOR (47D: Nonstop flight?). What I didn't appreciate was how brutal that section was for me. I am all for crunch, both in my late week crosswords, and in my spicy sushi rolls (ideally served in an OMAKASE meal! (see word of the day, above)), but man that I struggled there in the mideast. RAMAPO, MITER, tough clue on EPIDEMIC (especially now!), I definitely had some DISDAIN for the region. Again -- I don't mind being difficult, but that section felt off-balance with the rest of the puzzle (to me, obviously). I also confidently wrote in OR SO (76D), but then second guessed myself because I already had IF SO locked in at 38D: "In that case...". That only made that region more difficult for me to parse. Surely they wouldn't duplicate the word SO with such similar clues, right? Uh...oh....yup, they did.

Otherwise I found this fairly easy/standard for a Sunday puzzle. A few mistakes along the way, for sure though. I very confidently wrote in OVERSLEPT for (40D: Didn't hear the alarm, say) instead of SLEPT LATE.  I had ADVERT before ADPAGE (8D: Spot for a perfume sample in a magazine, maybe) -- and I'm glad I was initially wrong.


Side note: When I was a kid all the magazines we got had perfume and cologne AD PAGES in them -- did anyone alive ever open that little folded over part of the ADVERT and think -- 'I want to smell like this! It smells like cool water! I must emit this odor from all of my pores!' ?? Just asking. For a friend. 


I also find it very telling to me that in perusing this puzzle after completing it, I found true difficulty in choosing a 'Word of the Day' to post at the top of this blog. I love when the answers teach me something I didn't know, or at least if the clue teaches me something about the actual word that I did not know. Crosswords are about the beauty and fascination of our language. But at the end (or beginning) of the day, this puzzle did not inspire either of those sensations for me. This was definitely not my favorite Sunday effort. I wish that it were, but sadly that's not enough to MAKE IT SO.  


Signed, Colin Fowler, Court Musician of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 2:38 AM  

Anyone who’s been around here a while (and actually reads our host’s write-ups) would know that Rex would have excoriated this. What a relief to have a kinder, gentler excoriation. Thanks, Colin. I have to say, though, that I thought GRAVY TERRAIN was pretty good.

I agree that Peter Schickele is brilliant.

So, okay, this one won’t float everyone’s boat, but as an unabashed schwa-phile, I enjoyed it just fine. (And, yeah, I know my avatar doesn’t work because the schwa doesn’t interrupt a consonant cluster. But it is an iamb, so work with me here. I would have preferred to fashion some kind of perfume bottle with Dolly Parton’s picture: DOLLY – THE COLOGNE, but that’s beyond my capabilities.)

Oh? And Colin? On your weariness of the baroque/broke, Haydn/hiding deal? Try being a linguist in the presence of some greasy guy who thinks he’s just come up with the cleverest pun. I’ll spare you, but it involves a synonym for conniving. I blush as I type it, and if I Never hear that joke again, it’ll be too soon. I’m an uptight Capricorn.

“Frets” before STEWS. Didn’t know DISDAIN could be a verb, and I immediately wondered if some here would disdain its clue. And then I would disdain them for their disdain, leading to their disdaining my disdain for disdaining their disdain, and dis dangerous little spat would ensue.

Speaking of which. . . can we just admit that using LAIN in a sentence sounds just plain weird?

“Idiot” before ADE

Question – and I’m serious here – are there any pages in magazines that Aren’t AD PAGES?

Loved the clues for INTER, LARYNX, and ESCALATOR.

My toehold was PALAU. Whenever I’m there, I always make sure I get me some delicious, piping hot fruit bat soup. Little-known fact: The island has a robust equestrian culture centered around its native draft breed, the . . .PALAU HORSE. Ba dum tss.

I guess I’ve been misusing get a RISE out of. I thought it just meant get Any kind of reaction. Yesterday I was telling Mom that there’s still this one kid I can’t figure out how to engage. I told her I hadn’t been able to get a RISE out of him yet, but she didn’t seem to take this to mean that I was purposely trying to anger him. I’ll ask her when she gets up if she misunderstood. I did manage to get (my kind of) a RISE out of Cherica. Somehow - I forget – our conversation teed me up to say, I tell you what – nothing makes me madder than seeing a woman farding in the car while she’s driving. It’s dangerous. After a while, I explained the verb to fard, and we were off and running. I couldn’t let it go, and we were both really laughing. I’d go over and whisper stuff like, Could you help me with my farding Monday because I see you’re a gifted farder, and I could use some pointers. I’ll bring my farding kit and everything. Once A Gain I see that these ankle-monitor TEENS are just regular kids who’ve made a bit of a misstep as they’ve negotiated the ICKY situation that is their home and social life. (We still have relatively few kids, but I’ve heard that there were several pretty bad brawls in our system last week, so many of them will be headed our way. I’m ready, buddy.)

Fun to try to copy this trick. Since I’m so engrossed in my new school, all my thoughts went there. . .

SUCCUMB BAG – package of Jolly Ranchers when I can’t fight the late-day hunger anymore and am sick of the &^% carrots I take every day with all the best intentions.

DURESS CODE – we have a bunch. And there are walkie-talkies in all the rooms. I have all the codes written down on the back of my ID badge just in case. Ya know, ‘cause it seems we’ll be getting more customers soon.

jae 3:13 AM  

Easy-medium. A hit and miss schwa puzzle. I didn’t hate it but then my bar is low for Sundays.

@stephanie - i hopefully answered your PSHAW question at the end of yesterday’s comments.

Joaquin 4:04 AM  

Dateline: Binghamton, NY
A college professor was hospitalized here today after his head exploded, apparently as a result of finding one-too-many dad puns in a crossword puzzle. Michael Sharp, 50, was rushed to Binghamton Memorial with third-degree burns on much of his body. Sharp was heard to say several times, "Dang you Shortz, dang you."

Andrea 5:29 AM  

As a non native speaker, this puzzle was just not enjoyable at all. I just don’t get that schwa thing, not the sound, not its use. I’ve wasted a lot of my voice teacher’s precious time with him trying to make me sing a word sounding a schwa instead of an a. Poor guy….

Conrad 5:34 AM  

I liked the puzzle better than Colin did, but I enjoy puns. Colin: "I love when the answers teach me something I didn't know" Me: I didn't know that TIKI is a Maori word for "image". Or even that it was a Maori word.

Had trouble getting a toehold in the NW. 1A Sliver didn't immediately say TAD to me; wanted cotton cAndY for the boardwalk treat; Dennis LEARY didn't come to mind right away; and the @LMS frEts for STEWS. But after skipping to another sector I found the rest easy-medium.

RECORD SET at 111A seems a little green paintish. I'd say "record album" or "box set".

bocamp 6:08 AM  

Thx Dory; a fun Sun. offering! :)

Hi Colin; excellent, comprehensive write-up! :)

Med. solve.

Dnfed at the LARYNX / ILYA cross. Had ILIA and forgot to check the 'I' before filling in the final cell. :(

In spite of the dnf, a very enjoyable puz!

@TTrimble 👍 👍 for 0's dbyd & yd

I know what you mean about re-typing (especially with my fat fingers). lol

Found the acrostic somewhat on the tough side, but it provided a welcome challenge and was ultimately doable.
yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Lewis 6:20 AM  

Ah, a puzzle filled with schwa de vivre!

This one put up a fight for me, as the theme answers didn’t pop in without a fair number of crosses, and the cluing sometimes gave my brain fits. Even [Grapefruit descriptor] had me trying to come up with shape, texture, and color possibilities before hitting on RUBY RED.

So I, who love to work on figuring things out just for the reward of figuring things out, loved warring through some tough areas.

Then as I was trying, just for fun, to think of a new theme answer, my brain handed me this: [Electricity in a Persian Gulf country]
BAHRAIN POWER. Which suggests what Dory has shown he has plenty of. Thank you, sir, for directing some of it toward crosswords!

JD 6:37 AM  

Well I'm stuck forever with Deride Apricots. Each and every time I go to pop one of those little suckers into the ol' maw, I'll think "have me some Deride Apricots."

Spent a lot of time in that middle east block working my way to that answer because I couldn't get (oh the bitter irony) E Pi Dem Ic. Epidemic JD, Epidemic. Wanted Catholic (look it up).

But overall, there was a light, fun touch here. Sea Otters, Mr. Ed, Opah, A Bee. And Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine, a movie I love with a soundtrack that includes No Man's Land and Chicago by Sufjan Stevens. My daughter pointed that out to me recently.

mmorgan 6:54 AM  

Well forgive me for shouting but I LOVED THE THEME ANSWERS!!! Great bunch of groaners, each one giving me a little tingle of delight with recognition. Reminded me in a good way of the sunday puzzles of the 70s and 80s when they would take a week to solve and many phone calls to family members when you had to pay for long distance. I get the objections but for me this was terrific fun!

pabloinnh 7:21 AM  

Trouble getting out of the gate with this one, and I finally wound up going N-S down the East Coast. This was interesting because I had the ends of some of the themers and not the beginnings, lending a nice air of mystery to the proceedings. The light finally went on with THUNDERCOLLAPSE, which I liked a lot.

In fact I liked most of these, with the exception of GOFORBAROQUE, which is something we all came up with when we learned BAROQUE, probably.

Hello, OPAH! Where ya been? Welcome back. And there are my SEAOTTERS, so of course this puzzle goes on the "liked it" list.

Today's review gave us a pretty good version of Rex Lite. I disagree with the notions that we should use all the vowels or have all the extra syllables in the same place, but I'm easy.

Thanks for a fun and just-chewy-enough Sunday, DM. You Done Made me happy.

BarbieBarbie 7:23 AM  

Interesting probably only to me: if you mess up the case and don’t know the actor and haven’t learned Braille lately then you can THERaUXINTHETOWEL just as well, and get “aN E” for your dot, and never find your mistake…. Not a Natick but in my defense I’d like to point out that the normal tense-signaling stuff in the clue is entirely missing in the themers, which really means they should be unambiguous. But I’m still a happy person. Except that I was temporarily looking forward to reading what OFL would write about “aN E” and my hopes were dashed when the answer turned out to be the perfectly respectable ONE.

Colin 7:31 AM  

Yeah, I predicted this would not go over well, before coming here.
But a reference to PDQ Bach, in the same breath as Jean Luc Picard! - Thanks, Colin!
And hats off to @Lewis: "Schwa de vivre" - brilliant.

Unknown 7:31 AM  

Had a DNF today cuz I forgot PETE Alonzo and put in NATE... and the RAMAPO is a WOE for me, so the RAMANO looked just as good. Oh well. Otherwise, I think it was a pretty fun puzzle, though the "BAROQUE = broke" joke is really too old and worn out to be used any more. Overall a pretty fun solve! Enjoyed it, DORY, keep it up : )

Zwhatever 7:32 AM  

OMG @Lewis. 🤣😂🤣😂🤣

Okay - somebody help me with DERIDE APRICOTS. What’s the base phrase? Where’s the ə?

@Stephanie late - @jae provided the explanation but not the likely reason we all knew it and you didn’t. We are all old-timey like the clue and answer. The phrases are equivalent to “as if” and “bullshit.”

Justin THEROUX? Yep, just reviewed his filmography on Wikipedia and can say I have, in fact, seen him once or twice. No idea who he is. I even managed to miss that he was married to Jennifer Aniston. Oh well.

Unlike @LMS I’ve used DISDAIN as a verb before. I’ve also made some terrible DIS DAIN and Dat DAIN pun before. Apologies to any listeners I may have harmed.

I liked GRAVY TERRAIN. I was surprised we didn’t get THoReau IN THE TOWEL. I don’t mind ə puzzles, but it seems like we had one not that long ago. Put me closer to Colin.

hatton-man 7:41 AM  

Lewis, deride apricots => dried apricots

bocamp 7:44 AM  

@Andrea (5:29 AM)

I feel for you. There are plenty of sounds in other languages I have difficulty with.

You may find this vid informative: The Schwa /ə/ Sound

td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Zwhatever 7:55 AM  

@hatton-man - Thanks. And Merriam-Webster explains my confusion. Note that there is no ə in the pronunciation of DERIDE. Plus I tend to use dē-ˈrīd more than di-ˈrīd, the latter being at least closer to a schwa sound.

Son Volt 8:00 AM  

Goofy fun I guess. The fill here went right in for me - so didn’t have to parse some of the themers. I think we’ve see the GO FOR broke trick before. I liked GRAVY train - dried APRICOTS not so much.

Always love SEA OTTERS in a grid. Didn’t we have a CASHES IN/out debate recently? Really don’t like the RDAS and PEPSIS plurals. Have fly fished the RAMAPO and like the connection with OAR.

More enjoyable solve than the typical Sunday.

BarbieBarbie 8:04 AM  

@Z, I would schwa the word DERIDE. But then I’m from California, where pretty much everything is a schwa.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

I need help understanding the themes. What is “thunder collapse?” And the others. I get dried apricots and gravy terrain. Will someone help me with the others? Thank you. Jim

Joe Dipinto 8:36 AM  

Justin Theroux pronounces his own name wrong.

So 67a can be past tense if you put his uncle Paul by the pool.

And coincidentally, Paul wrote a short story called "The Roux In The Towel". It's about a Thanksgiving dinner party hosted by Steffi Graf and Rafael Nadal, to which the guests have been invited to binge-watch reruns of an old forgotten tv show called "Falcon Crest". Rafa was in charge of the gravy for the mashed potatoes, but when he tasted the roux he had made, it was so disgusting that he threw it up into an adjacent dish towel. When Steffi came back to the kitchen with the apricots she had taken out of the clothes dryer because they were done, she asked Rafa where the roux was. Rafa pointed at the towel.

"The Roux is in the towel?" asked Steffi. "Why?"

"I put it there" said Rafa.

"But the guests will be arriving any minute and we don't have any gravy!" wailed Steffi, as the doorbell rang.

So the guests were served taffy with Pepsis instead.
I wonder if Dory Mintz knows Shlomo Mintz.

pmdm 8:42 AM  

Humor is subjective. And at least some of the theme answers tickled my funny bone. So a good puzzle.

Yes, a bit difficult to parse some of the jokes. Perhaps, Colin, the next time you guest host you and the puzzle requires some thought, you could include the puns in your writeup.

I remember buying the original PDQ Bach record when it first came out. I think the sports color-commentary thing was fairly new at the time, and I thought the entire record was a wonderful send-up of small independent radio station. I knew someone who though Peter's original compositions are dead boring but for certain his parodies are wonderful. I cannot listen to the beginning of the Brahms Symphone 2 withour hearing in my head ta-ta-ra-boom-te-eh (or however you spell it) or the end of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Musik without thinking of Richard Strauss and Till Eugenspeigel. If you enjoy classical music and haven't heard much of PDQ, see what you can locate on You Tube.

Would that the Carnegie Hall New Year's PDQ concerts return.

Colin 8:49 AM  

@Anonymous (Jim), 8:14:
THUNDERCOLLAPSE => thunder claps
FANTASYSUPPORTS => fantasy sports
GOFORBAROQUE => go for broke
FALCONCARESSED => falcon crest
THEROUXINTHETOWEL => throw in the towel

Liz1508 9:01 AM  

Thank you for that link. I never heard of the schwa sound. It sounds like the British use it more than Americans…or does it depend on the region?
The English language fascinates me. One of my favorite things is how the following phrase changes meaning depending on which word is stressed: “I never said I stole the money”. Fun with words.

rjkennedy98 9:17 AM  

I thought a few of them were funny. Love the comment from @BarbieBarbie about the California accent. Now I cant help but hear all of these themers in my native surfer-stoner San Diego accent, especially Deride Apricots, which how some of my friends actually would pronounce Dried Apricots.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Joaquin - not funny at all

amyyanni 9:18 AM  

Just can't get over DERIDE APRICOTS. ARGO Bargo. Going to go feed the cats and bird and get on with celebrating Sunday. (...thinking there may be a croissant in the freezer...)

EdFromHackensack 9:23 AM  

I live in the area, so first thing I confidently put in (in pen) was “hudson” with NO crosses for the NY/NJ river. OOPSIE. my dad used to say all the time, never put anything in without a cross even if you’re “sure” Great advice especially when you use pen. RAMAPO

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

@Liz: Interesting comment. I learned about it in second or third grade, when we were taught to use dictionaries and use the pronunciation guides. I grew up in Oklahoma.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

The wonderful thing about a change-the-sound, come up with a wacky, punny phrase kind of puzzle is that no matter how many of them you've seen in the past, every new version is completely different. I never get tired of these because they give the solver so much to play with: every themer is a mini-puzzle of its own.

In the best incarnations of these, you'll need to know the theme to figure out the answers. At the very least, the theme will help you out immeasurably. And the theme was instrumental in helping me get 33A, 49A and 67A. GO FOR BAROQUE, for example: I had no idea that Rembrandt was a Baroque painter; I simply think of him as an Old Master. Likewise, Justin THEROUX is perhaps the only THEROUX I've never heard of, but the theme made his name obvious.

My only criticism of the puzzle. It was so engaging that I polished the whole thing off last night (like those potato chips that "you can't eat just one" of) -- leaving me with nothing to do this morning. I found it very enjoyable -- although I know there are others here who will hate it.

kitshef 9:27 AM  

One of those unpleasant days when I’m stymied at every turn by unknown names (ELSIE, THEROUX, DANO, EDGAR, DENIS), foods (OPAH, amakase) or local NY geography (RAMAPO).

Of course, now that I look at it, that’s not a lot of unknowns for a Sunday. But it just seemed like I could never get any headway because I kept hitting one of those walls.

My desire to go to PALAU has certainly decreased today …

Nancy 9:27 AM  

The wonderful thing about a change-the-sound, come up with a wacky, punny phrase kind of puzzle is that no matter how many of them you've seen in the past, every new version is completely different. I never get tired of these because they give the solver so much to play with: every themer is a mini-puzzle of its own.

In the best incarnations of these, you'll need to know the theme to figure out the answers. At the very least, the theme will help you out immeasurably. And the theme was instrumental in helping me get 33A, 49A and 67A. GO FOR BAROQUE, for example: I had no idea that Rembrandt was a Baroque painter; I simply think of him as an Old Master. Likewise, Justin THEROUX is perhaps the only THEROUX I've never heard of, but the theme made his name obvious.

My only criticism of the puzzle. It was so engaging that I polished the whole thing off last night (like those potato chips that "you can't eat just one" of) -- leaving me with nothing to do this morning. I found it very enjoyable -- although I know there are others here who will hate it.

Teedmn 9:30 AM  

It seems like it's been a while since we've had the "add a sound to common phrases to wacky effect" theme so it's welcome today. I really loved GRAVY TERRAIN, clue and answer. THEROUX IN THE TOWEL was quite clever, I thought. I had to say out loud DERIDE APRICOTS and THUNDER COLLAPSE a couple of times to find the base phrase but I got 'em. Nice!

The clue for ESCALATOR was very nice. With ESC in place, I thought we were escaping to somewhere.

Should anyone be considering eating fruit bat soup right now? (And re-traumatizing poor @Hartley70 for the 2nd time this week!)

FALCONCARESSED, a nice find but pretty dated.

Dory Mintz, thanks for the fun and rather challenging Sunday puzzle!

Ed Rosenthal 9:39 AM  

Can someone enlighten me on this clue and answer? “People people, for short” Eds

TTrimble 9:39 AM  

Often I read the comments quickly, but I have to slow way the hell down when reading @LMS. DOLLY -- THE COLOGNE, yowza! But the synonym for conniving thing? Whoosh!

What did the linguistics professor say when asked to provide personal pronouns?

"I decline."

[Crickets. A long vaudeville cane slowly emerges from stage right.]

Quick, time for a viola joke.

How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?

You see the bow moving.

Oh, okay. I TRIED. Anyway, where were we? Right, the puzzle. Today is my dad's birthday (RIP), and what better way to celebrate it than indulge in dad jokes, and boy these theme jokes are as dadly as they get. So painful that they're good. THUNDER COLLAPSE for the encore. And the crowd goes wild!

But let's have a moment of appreciation that somebody found a different way to clue LEER (To read: Sp.). Not to mention ENO (Residential suffix with Angel). They'll get a pass.

Not too hard; reasonably smooth solve.

Boy, judging from the responses last night, I was wrong it seems in assessing the difficulty level of the Acrostic. I just remember CHTHONIC from the other week and figured at least some of it was on that level (plus, I cottoned on to what was happening a little later than I should have). Took me over an hour and I was pleased with the effort, but now I feel like a viola player among the violinists.

How do you keep a violin from being stolen?

Put it in a viola case.

td pg -5. @bocamp, you are goooood!

Qpwoei 9:40 AM  

People people for short is eds? Help?

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

@Qpwoei: Think about the magazine, People.

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
Just kept on reading 1A Sliver as Silver, and couldn't come up with anything three-letter except TWO (as in 2nd place medal). Good stuff.

Nice theme, schwa-ified, not the Greatest Theme Ever, but also no reason to get your panties in a bunch. Still unclear on DERIDE APRICOTS. Is it supposed to be DRIED? Does DRIED schwa to DERIDE? Or is the ole brain messing with me? (Silly brain.)

booboo first for OOPSIE. Two-letter/four word DNF. Had ADEl/SlOB, and PApAU/IpYA. ICK. N.Y. neighbor was either CONN or peNN. SlOB totally defensible, as clue "One prone to looking down" could mean looking "down", as dirty and slovenly. Although ADEN has been in lots of crosswords. Oh well. PAPAU New Guinea, that's a country, no? Granted, it's not just PAPAU on it's own. Trying to defend myself to myself! Har.

Overall fun, stuck in a few spots, but powered through. 49 and a half minutes. Not too shabby for me. I did Goog twice, though. 🤪

Six F's (OPAH!)

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@Joaquin - Too funny! :)

Ed Rosenthal 10:06 AM  

I posed the same question earlier…

Colin 10:10 AM  

For those trekkers amongst us - and particularly fans of Jean Luc Picard - here's a parody of the phrase "Make It So" set to that old Christmas standard "Let It Snow":

Nancy 10:24 AM  

Gosh, I solved this entire puzzle without once thinking about the schwa.

In fact I've gone through my entire life without once having to think about the schwa.

Alas, I fear that that is about to change in a big way.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

How on earth is the clue for 123 Across correct?

"He remained in bed" would be "He lay in bed."

"He has remained in bed" would be "He has LAIN" in bed. But in that case the clue should be (Has) remained in bed.


Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I don't think that the O in COLLAPSE or the E in DERIDE are pronounced with a schwa.


Anonymous 10:52 AM  

How many ways can one dislike a puzzle? The themes were lame, the oversized grid unnecessary, and ‘record set’? Record set? I collect records, I speak with a lot of other record collectors, and not once, ever, has anyone referred to their collection as a record set. This may be the first time in history that it has been referred to in this manner. As the supposed gold standard of crosswords, the NYT has to do better than this.

The Joker 11:05 AM  

PEPSIS is a blood infection caused by contaminated cola.

SouthsideJohnny 11:12 AM  

I got FANTASY SUPPORTS and FALCON CARESSED - and still thought “This can’t be all of it, I must be missing something”, but alas, I was mistaken. I hesitated to put IDS in for “Face cards?” (no abbreviation in the clue) and eventually stumbled upon 48D (Maori for “image”) at which point I lost whatever enthusiasm I had left in my tank. Learned today that esoteric foreign words and phrases are not only acceptable, but welcome - and to add insult to injury I now know to anticipate words and phrases in languages that I didn’t even know existed.

I wish the NYT would reserve Fridays and Saturdays for the more hard-core difficulty and open up Sundays to a wider audience (that probably wouldn’t go over well with the typical solver who posts here, as most that do have the proficiency and do enjoy the crunchiness associated with a more difficult struggle - but really, clues in Maori ?).

Zwhatever 11:28 AM  

@Anon/Villager - Both “remained” and LAIN are past participles. I know, but there you go.
Also, I and Merriam-Webster agree about DERIDE, but disagree on COLLAPSE.

Aunt Hattie 11:31 AM  

Well, Colin, I learned something I did not know, thanks to LMS who needs help with her lipstick--or maybe with her Islamic obligations???

Not the Joker 11:37 AM  

@The Joker e-cola?

Georgia 11:52 AM  

See the write up, there's a list of the theme answers.

Carola 11:57 AM  

On the challenging side for me, which I view as a plus on a Sunday. I thought the theme answers got better as we headed to the bottom - or maybe it's just because THUNDER COLLAPSE was the only one I got with no crosses. My favorite by far, though, was double treat of GRAVY TERRAIN, because at Thanksgiving, what are mashed potatoes, really, but a vehicle (train) for GRAVY, and whose TERRAIN allotment needs to be carefully calibrated to allow enough room on the plate for the dressing ET SEQ. Anyway. Smiles for the "fun with English" aspect of the puns - that a schwa can change crest to CARESSED or claps to COLLAPSE.

Do-overs: hudson, EPIsodIC before EPIDEMIC (will not try to defend). No idea: THEROUX.

@Lewis, SCHWA de vivre!

JD 11:59 AM  

@Southside, Here's an article from 2016 that you might be interested in, "What 74 Years of Crossword History Says About the Language We Use." It's about the NYT crossword. It says that, "The world may have become more globalized, but the venerable puzzle now relies less on international worlds and place names."

The authors downloaded all of the newspaper’s crosswords from the year the puzzle began through the end of 2015 and "created an algorithm to search all 2,092,375 pairs of clues and answers for foreign language words and place names outside the United States."

Lots of interactive graphs. Fun stuff

Joseph Michael 12:02 PM  

Currently watching Justin THEROUX in The Mosquito Coast, a wonderfully suspenseful series on Apple TV based on the book by Justin’s uncle Paul THEROUX, so 67A was a partial gimme. Enjoyed the TIKI of him sitting poolside IN THE TOWEL.

Also liked the evocative TIKI of SEA OTTERS swimming in kelp forests.

GRAVY TERRAIN is an amusing way to think about mashed potatoes. And DERIDED APRICOTS ain’t bad either. But the other themers were only okay OR SO. Could have used a schwat team to come in and liven things up. However, my main complaint with the puzzle is the abundance of proper nouns. It seemed like another first name or last name almost everywhere I turned.

Two of my favorite clues: “Something you click to open” and “Lead-in to com or net, but not org.”

Thanks to @Joaquin for the news bulletin. It made my morning.

Georgia 12:02 PM  

What I remind myself when I see such an obtuse clue is that the answer is almost always a familiar word. It's rarely something you just know, but with a few crosses it becomes clear. I doubt any solver here knows Maori but all know about tiki huts in tropical (and fake tropical) places.

egsforbreakfast 12:05 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, but then, I’ve always been a schwap ‘til ya drop fanatic.

Does a Sooner who is all-in GOFORBAROQUi?

106D. Fix up again (REHAB) seems to imply that the first time something is fixed up, it is habbed. I question whether the word “again” belongs in the clue.

Maybe it takes a groan man to appreciate the humor in this puzzle, but I loved it. Thanks Dory Mintz.

TJS 12:06 PM  

One of the better Sundays in a while. Atleast it required some thought rather than simply "Fill in the blanks and get it over with", which is the usual Sunday fare, IMO.

Sorry we were cheated from a Rex/job on this one.

SouthsideJohnny 12:23 PM  

@JD 11:59 - excellent article, thanks for sharing. I do have to confess that I cringed when I read about the puzzle in 1999 that made foreign words its theme, lol. I hope the downward trend in the overall percentage continues. Even better would be if Shortz and the team more strictly enforced his requirement “that the answers and clues should have at least entered the general conversation before they appear.”

TAB2TAB 12:36 PM  

RAMAPO crossing PETE is not particularly friendly and PALAU crossing ILYA just needs to be reworked, especially with PApAU being a valid throw-in-a-letter-guess.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

@TAB2TAB: I suppose we should commit to memory all streams within a 100 mile radius of Manhattan. The RAMAPO river is all of 30 miles in length.

Matt 12:54 PM  

Less fun than a barrel of monkeys. More fun than poking your eye out with a sharp stick. I will have to let the puzzle settle in a while longer to be more precise, but it did not fill me with joy. The one exception was GRAVY TERRAIN which made me chortle. (Aside to constructors, please use the word CHORTLE more.)

Hartley70 12:59 PM  

I do agree with Tom’s review of this slog of a puzzle in every way. I didn’t find the themers amusing, just tortured and painful to pronounce. The east side was much more difficult than the west and my time was ridiculous for a Sunday with no aha payoff. Finally, I have a thing for Jean-Luc that time and age hasn’t lessened. Sigh.

Hartley70 1:09 PM  

Who’s Tom? No idea. Sorry, Colin. Thank you for the sympathy @Teedman. It’s been a rough week all around.

thefogman 1:10 PM  

The constructor is lucky Rex is away. He would have excoriated this one. Way to much trouble for such a tiny reward. Very thin gruel indeed. Does anybody remember when Sundays were fun? Does anybody remember laughter?

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

And then there is "Gopher Baroque" by Sandra Boynton.


JD 1:32 PM  

@Southside, Agree

Del Taco 1:34 PM  

Mostly boring for me
but I did like GRAVY TERRAIN

Ken Freeland 1:40 PM  

well said! naticks at every turn....

Ken Freeland 1:43 PM  

ditto... this should have been caught by the editor

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

one problem is THEROUX is *not* pronounced THREW or anywhere near that. also, if my counting is correct, this 'themer' doesn't do what the others do: insert a syllable.

in my religion, it's spelt MITre, not MITER.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

LAIN? Really? And that's only the beginning. I'm usually OK with the bland Sundays, but this stank up the joint

old timer 2:01 PM  

It's the Department of Lame Jokes today, and to have a professional classical musician do the review turned out to be the worst possible choice. Because no joke is lamer than GO FOR BAROQUE, and this affected the quality of the review.

I did like GRAVY TERRAIN and, especially, THUNDER COLLAPSE. I wonder if the latter pun prompted the whole puzzle. But there were errors GALORE that good editing by WS could have fixed. SWATS is just wrong for "clubs". You swat flies and mosquitoes, and even in California it is legal to swat your child on the bottom when he or she misbehaves. Try using a club, and you are headed for jail. If your excuse is alcoholism, you are maybe going to REHAB, but REHAB simply does not mean "fix up again". Lots of REHAB jobs around the house involve fixing or improving things that have never been fixed before. The word "again" simply should have been omitted from the clue.

I could go on. ARSON is not a basis for an insurance investigation. If done by others, the police do the investigating. The insurer may indeed investigate possible ARSON by the insured, but ARSON in that case is not the basis for the investigation, the fire is. ARSON is a possible conclusion (and a basis for denying the claim).

Masked and Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Uh? Har. This here rodeo is the rare case where a whole puztheme (and a coupla themers) has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. [See the 21 Jan 2007 SunPuz.]

M&A stared at FANTASYSUPPORTS for quite a spell of nanoseconds, tryin desperately to grok what the theme mcguffin was gonna be. Finally the M&A brainpan succored a hit, and figured out where the weird answer sullied.

staff weeject pick: Gonna go with ENO & ONE [anagram couples meat]. But there was this one other weeject, for which a SYN TAX will have to be applied.

ESCALATOR had a primo fake-U-out-of-yer-Shortz clue, btw.

Many thanx, Mr. Mintz.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Ed Rosenthal 2:34 PM  

Oh, so “eds” as in “editors? I worked at People magazine and still didn’t get the clue and answer.

GILL I. 2:34 PM  

Oh, marvy.....a muffled vowel sounding puzzle. The stress in these words give me stress.
Like @Nancy, I could've spent my entire life trying to finish this puzzle and would have never entered SCHWA in my treacly vocabulary.
Well did you like this? you ask. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I looked at FANTASY SUPPORTS and all I could think of was a bra. FALCON CARESSED gave me the agues. Oh, little chuckle not worth the effort it took to clear my throat....GRAVY TERRAIN.
No wonder I groan on Sunday.
California is on fire.

JC66 2:39 PM  

I just learned that the NYTX stalwart, ED ASNER passed away today, at 91.

burtonkd 2:50 PM  

Today’s puzzle brings back a bizarre bit of local history about a much DERIDED group called the Ramapo Whites, a mixed race group living in the Ramapo mountains, presumably the head of the river only 25 miles from Manhattan. Not sure how to link this bc it is available in the New Yorker archives, but there is an interesting article in the February 21, 2010 issue titled “Strangers on the Mountain” by Ben McGrath.

Hi Colin, fellow NYC classical pianist! I hope this provides something you don’t already know;)

@anon 1:53, the “The-“ in Theroux is the extra syllable to differentiate it from “threw”.

burtonkd 2:54 PM  

@Ed: I didn’t get it either until you posed the question, and I thought a little longer and had that AHA! moment. I love it when that happens, so thanks for asking. I also love the irony of your name being Ed and working for People, yet not making the connection! Unless you’re making up this persona;)

TAB2TAB 2:55 PM  

I thought People People = EDS = Educators. Not fully on board with the Editors at People Magazine interpretation. You can be employed as a photographer, artist, marketing, etc at People and have nothing to do with being an editor, whereas someone who is an educator is by and large focused on working with people.

Joe Dipinto 2:58 PM  

Oh Mr. Graa-aant! (sob)

Murray (Gavin MacLeod) just passed away a couple of months ago. This makes Betty White the last surviving MTM Show regular.

TTrimble 3:24 PM  

Arrgh! Not "threw" in the towel! Throw in the towel! Eliminate the schwa sound of the "e" to get there.

sharon ak 3:57 PM  

I thought the themes were pretty good. Definitely worthwhile doing a puzzle around. But the whole puzzle was tiresomely difficult for me. I didn't read all the comments, so don't know if anyone commented on the PPP, but I found it more than usual and sometimes very obscure.
I tried fro look up actor Justin and found about ten of them, but NOT Theroux. And that's just one example.
I did get fun out of some of the difficult clues, once I had enough crosses to get the word. Escalator, larynx
forget the others.

Zwhatever 4:10 PM  

@burtonkd & @TTrimble - Hmmmm… If THEROUX is pronounced like ROUX it would be threw in the towel. Not that I have any idea how Justin says his last name. (also, M-W says ROUX is pronounced with a “z” sound at it’s actual entry page, a pronunciation I’ve never heard in millennia of watching the Food Network)

Unknown 4:24 PM  

@JoeD, You can find full episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore show on YouTube. Last night, Rhoda talked Mary into joining The Better Luck Next Time Club where divorced singles could hook up. The women wanted to meet someone nice, the men showed up in campers. Mary and Rhoda were lying about being divorced so they could get the discount coupon for airfare to France. Wackiness ensues.

I'm hiding out in 1970. Very comfortable here, but depressing that the Beatles have broken up.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

I looked up the Catholic Dictionary, which is US based, and it spells the bishop's headgear as MITRE. No Americanized spelling according to them at least.


Jerry Connelly 4:44 PM  

Maybe someone could explain to me what “in the towel” means with respect to being at the pool. You might be “on a towel”? Just not liking the sound of “Theroux in the towel” based on the clue.

Roo or Row? 4:51 PM  

@Z, on Justin’s name is said “thshwa row” for what it is worth. This is how I’ve heard it pronounced by peeps in the know on tv. First time I knew of him was the series The Leftovers. Very bizarre series about a certain percentage of the population on earth just disappearing…a “rapture” like scenario. I loved it, but it’s not for everyone.
Count me in as one who enjoyed the puzzle. @ Sharon ak, I assume you were cheating when you didn’t see Theroux (I do it all the time when stumped) because I got Justin Theroux right under Timberlake after I put in the T.
I found today that even though the clue is correct (and I’m not beefing) that I simply do not think of paintings as Baroque period…I DO think of certain music as Baroque. For instance, I think of Rembrandt as the king of the Dutch Masters. So. I learned something today. @Southside, tiki torches are common so I do not cry foul on the Maori clue. I learned that today also and I didn’t feel the crosses were unfair. I like to have a tough Sunday puzzle.

Son Volt 5:52 PM  

@Joe D - he did leave but Gordy Howard was pretty regular the first few years.

Joe Dipinto 6:45 PM  

@Son Volt – according to Wikipedia, John Amos (Gordy) was in 13 MTM episodes total. They never really gave him anything to do, it seemed to me.

Then he was in 61 episodes of "Good Times", and "Roots" after that. I'm sure most people associate him with those later roles. But yes he is still alive, age 81.

And here's a fun factoid: when "Good Times" started, John Amos was 34, only eight years older than Jimmie Walker who played son J.J.! Esther Rolle who played Florida was almost 20 years older than him.

Mark 6:47 PM  

Just horrible. So sad Rex isn't here.

burtonkd 6:50 PM  

I confess to not knowing how Justin pronounces his name. It looks French, so I assumed roo. Looking it up, I see that it is of southern French origin; in addition, his uncle Paul avers that Justin has been mispronouncing his own name as row. I guess the clue still works with either pronunciation as present or past tense.

@jerry, Justin has wrapped himself in a towel by poolside.

@roo or row, I started the Leftovers; it seemed fine but didn’t take. That premise was featured in several shows around that time. One French series in the Alps not to mention the avengers endgame half the world coming back to undo the "snap"

A 7:07 PM  

Ditto Colin. Except I didn’t notice IF SO and OR SO. They’re symmetrical so that’s something.

@Loren, @Joaquin, @Lewis, @Joe D, thanks for making my day! And @Z, great modernization - now I will always think “bullshit” whenever I hear “pshaw!”

I have two favorite viola jokes. This is the short one:
A principal violist heard that his house had burned down. When he got there, the investigator told him that the fire was ARSON, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Someone had also killed his wife and daughter.
“Oh, my god, who would do such a thing?” the violist cried.
"The conductor of your orchestra," the investigator replied.
The violist gasped. “Wait, the Maestro came to MY house?"

sixtyni yogini 7:37 PM  

Agree agree! And like the alternative clues/answers given by several here - much better than the puzzle’sg

Son Volt 8:06 PM  

@Joe D 6:45p - you’re right - I think early on they were developing the Ted Baxter character and Gordy never really worked. Pretty neat fact about Good Times - if I remember right he was short lived on that series too.

H Baron 8:16 PM  

Miter…you mean mitre?

Zwhatever 8:23 PM  

@Roo or Row - Is the row as in bow or as in bow. 😈

Zwhatever 8:27 PM  

BTW - A quickie google search says MITER is American and MITre is British but then roughly half the websites that looked “American” used MITre. For, ahem, cross purposes you might want to wait after writing in MIT.

RooMonster 8:36 PM  

@Roo or Row
As a fellow @Roo, I haven't heard of that show, but another neat show that unfortunately only lasted one season was "Flash Forward". The entire world blacked out for 2 minutes and change (wonderful memory, can't remember exact time, 2:13?) and saw their future in six months time.
Neat show.

RooMonster Anyone Else Have A Cool Show? Guy

Eniale 8:40 PM  

@Georgia 12:02, I always thought that I was just being obtuse about all those opaque clues!

Taxed Too Much in NJ 8:53 PM  

Me too! I don’t understand that answer either!

Nancy 9:01 PM  

Don't miss today's Acrostic if you are wont to do Acrostics. But also if you like Cryptics. I noticed a comment earlier on the Wordplay blog indicating that this Acrostic had a Cryptic quality to it -- so that even though I find Acrostics tedious to solve with the endless back-and-forthing, I tackled it because I love Cryptics. It was worth the trouble because the way the quotation and the cluing work together is terrific. Very, very well-done and unique.

pabloinnh 9:10 PM  

Taught school in northern NY near the Canadian border for years. Had many students whose last names ended in ROUX. FWIW, they all pronounced it "roo". Hi @Roo.

A 9:59 PM  

Spent the day on hurricane prep, though where we are will likely only be about 50mph winds and heavy rain. Thought about MR. ED while ASTRIDE the ridge of the roof whilst cleaning the gutters..

@M&A, thanks for extending the fun!

Can you play just one CASTANET?

Ok, don't want to create a row, but here's my very favorite viola joke:

An orchestra had just begun a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The only person who was willing was the last chair violist.

The violist conducted the concert and it was a smashing success. Since the conductor remained ill for the duration of the tour, the violist conducted all of the concerts, getting rave reviews and standing ovations at each one.

At the next rehearsal, the conductor had recovered, and the violist took his place at the back of the viola section. As he sat down, his stand partner asked him "Where've you been for the last two weeks?"

albatross shell 10:13 PM  

PSHAW strikes me as more a cousin of phooey.

Deride I have heard pronounced dehride. So d(schwa)ride becomes dried just as Th(schwa)roux becomes throw or threw when you toss the schwa depending how you pronounce the name. Henry David (@Z) might work too. It would have definitely made it easier for me. I had to look his name up. Thoreau I know and know how to pronounce. GRAVYTERRAIN and THUNDERCOLLAPSE were wonderful. I enjoyed them all.
Surprised nobody complained about the ED at the end CARESSED being changed into a T. Close but no cigar. I didn't mind but I thought many might.

ESCALATOR clue was the star of the show. RUBYRED was an unexpectedly beautiful answer.
TIKI NEHRU PLUTO SEAOTTERS were all teaching answers for me. Why didn't anyone tell me these are teaching answers. I swear you guys just like to see me flounder sometimes.

There were a couple more good clues but I can't think of them now and they were mentioned above.

The discussion of the alternative answer for STEWS made me think of a meta song title: My Guitar Gently Frets.

When I asked you for your black square count yesterday I was hoping for the stuff you did get to late in the day. I had mis-counted the black squares as 36. That would be in excess of the number you would expect for a decent Saturday themeless. I assumed you might connect that to Rex's 6000 fours or fives. 34 is still above your suggested standards.

albatross shell 10:26 PM  

Well pshaw. MW says the American pronouciation is crest. I must pronounce it like a Lithuanian.

stephanie 11:17 PM  

i wish this puzzle had a different title, or no title. at the first discovery, FANTASY SUPPORTS, my brain somehow shoehorned the title into meaning something, like if you took out the U[h] and the O[h] you'd get FANTASY SPORTS! ok!'d actually get FANTASY SPPRTS which isn't anything of course. so the title is just a literal transcription of an underwhelmed "huh? ...oh." reaction? not exactly inspiring. still, i really liked FANTASY SUPPORTS, THEROUX IN THE TOWEL, GRAVY TERRAIN...and GO FOR BAROQUE was my favorite. smiles all around. DERIDE APRICOTS was just boring (also for some reason i could think of literally nothing but CLEMENTINES for the longest time), and THUNDER COLLAPSE and FALCON CARESSED weren't much better, although the latter gave me a groan so that's...something?

a bit on the east side really gave me a hard time at the end - didn't know the NY/NJ river, didn't know the mets slugger, didn't know the car brand so it was pretty much impossible. googled the mets guy and saw his name was PETE, and only then did i realize i had chosen the other acceptable spelling for MITER...MITRE. so without google a DNF but i'll take it.

i've never been able to learn how to play a musical instrument (i could study and do well on written tests, but translating that into what to do with my hands when, absolutely not) and so, perhaps ironically, i was always given "rhythm instruments" to play. rhythm sticks, the triangle, and so on. but the castanets were far and away my favorite. sure i couldn't "play" them worth a damn either, but they were so fun!

also, despite living in MA for the past 20+ years and seeing/hearing my fair share of DENIS leary, it was only today and via this puzzle that he doesn't spell his first name with two N's. i actually eliminated the possibility early on and considered LEWIS until the crosses pushed that idea out. welp, the more you know.

loved discovering ESCALATOR as well as PER ITEM, used to have such a crush on paul DANO after LMS (still a great movie), i thought DEET was banned from bug spray but i thought wrong, have seen all of westworld but i'll be damned if i could remember the name of even one character nevermind ELSIE, had CITRUSY before RUBY RED and BOOBOO before OOPSIE. MR ED will always bring a smile to my face. RECORD SET and LOOFA are kind of ehhhhhh but i'll let them slide. if i had any real-ish nit beyond the PPP tangle, it's that i can't see how SWATS is a SYN for clubs - would you club a fly? i mean, maybe some people would, depending on how much you dislike flies but...

stephanie 11:22 PM  

@jae i thank you kindly for your response yesterday and your follow up. i'm afraid i'm still too dense, unfortunately. i know what PSHAW means, but i just don't grok the "my eye!" part of the equation. the only time i've ever heard or read "my eye!" it's because someone was suffering some literal injury or irritation to their eye.

me: *squirts lime juice onto taco*
my partner: MY EYE!
me: oops, sorry about that...

stephanie 11:27 PM  

thank you @Z! so "my eye!" is sort of like "my [left] foot!" etc? certainly a new one for me. i'll add it to the memory bank. :)

stephanie 11:45 PM  

@anon 1:53pm theroux is pronounced (at least where i'm at) THA-ROW, ergo THROW in the towel :)

stephanie 11:49 PM  

also re: cologne in magazines - we still subscribe to esquire, and so we still get many such "samples." i do open them to smell them, but they all smell the same to me. magazine pages and generic cologne smell. i've never smelled one that smelt any different than the rest. (i collect indie perfumes, not mainstream ones, but i'm still compelled to sniff just to see. can't leave a scent unsniffed.)

stephanie 11:55 PM  

ugh **only today and via this puzzle THAT I LEARNED..

albatross shell 12:25 AM  

Babe Ruth Sultan of Swat.
A bat is a club?

Joe Dipinto 12:58 AM  

@Nancy – Sorry, but that was the WORST.ACROSTIC.EVER. Total piece of crap. I was afraid it would be as soon as I saw that 11 of the 26 clues ended with a question mark. I don't want cryptic clues overrunning my acrostic, especially since Cox & Rathvon have no feel for writing them. I never like the cryptic puzzles they submit.

It does contain at least two spoilers for the Spelling Bee, if anyone wants to avail themselves of those.

Okoume 10:37 PM  

Your school story was funny and sweet before I even knew what fard meant, and then it was fun to go back and read again with my new knowledge! How have I not seen this word in the puzz? Those kiddos are very lucky to have you and I hope you stay very safe!

CS 8:36 AM  

Way late to the game but wanted to thank Colin for the spot-on write-up AND

MORE TNG PLEASE(Make it so!) :-D


Unknown 8:30 PM  

Rembrandt is not a baroque painter, so you’re good

Unknown 8:39 PM  

Has seahorses instead of sea otters, really flummoxed me. AND ALSO, Rembrandt was NOT a baroque painter! The Dutch Masters did not indulge in such excess

Charles Young 7:27 PM  

“don’t drink and derive” is sadly a bit too long.

Burma Shave 11:52 AM  




spacecraft 10:29 AM  

I have to sort of agree--even less "Sharp"-ly, with our guest blogger today. The theme is OK. Certainly has a big warehouse to draw from, so one might expect a tad more pop than we got, but these weren't awful. Where the puzzle shines is in the clues, particularly for MENU and ESCALATOR. This is fun stuff, and exercises a gray cell here and there. But as they say, for a Sunday showpiece in the Gray Lady, I gotta say meh. Ergo, 124-across.

Diana, LIW 1:38 PM  

Fairly evenly paced, for me. Although I found it ironic that after guessing Hudson, and then having "RAMA," I couldn't bring that river to mind. Hey - I only grew up in NY/NJ/PA. Even went to college "on the banks of the old Raritan." grrrrr Where's Ft. Lee when you need it? But the crosses made it all possible. A fine, brain-teasing Sunday morning pastime.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Unknown 12:13 PM  

Can someone tell me how "fits" is a partner of "starts"?

wcutler 3:49 AM  

@Unknown 12:13 PM: "fits and starts" is an expression to describe an activity where the progress is delayed by a lot of interruptions. It also seems to be the name of a movie.

I'd like to say that the blog for this uh?oh puzzle was a particularly enjoyable read, especially kicking off with @LMS - I'm so happy to see you back. And thanks to all the punners and joke tellers and new themer contributors.

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