Producer of the world's most widely read consumer catalog / What nyctophobia is the fear of / "Special Agent ___" (animated Disney show about a bear) / Its national drink is the pisco sour / Meadow grass with brushlike spikes

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Constructor: Matthew Stock

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (6:30)


THEME: Off Br& — company names are taken as clues to something else that's not related to the company, so all the fun comes from figuring out these different contexts; YMMV here, but I thought they were all done well.


Theme answers:
  • OFFENSIVE LINE (Five guys?)
  • WIND TURBINE (Green giant?)
  • OLD MACDONALD (Jolly rancher?) (debatable whether he's actually jolly, but I'll give it a pass because the song's fun and the animals seem to be enjoying it)
  • MILITARY ACADEMIES (General mills?) (the best of the bunch, IMO, and a worthy central entry)
  • STEEL GUITARS (Texas instruments?)
  • SOUNDSYSTEM (Band aid?)
  • SPANISH ARMADA (Old navy?) (a very close second for best theme answer / clue pair)
Word of the Day: KVASS (Fermented Baltic drink)
Kvass is a traditional fermented Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread, which is known in many Central and Eastern European and Asian countries as "black bread". The colour of the bread used contributes to the colour of the resulting drink. Kvass's alcohol content from fermentation is typically low (0.5–1.0% or 1–2 proof). It may be flavoured with fruits such as strawberries or raisins, or with herbs such as mint. Kvass is especially popular in Russia.
Kvass is made by the natural fermentation of bread, such as wheat, rye, or barley, and sometimes flavoured using fruit, berries, raisins, or birch sap. Modern homemade kvass most often uses black or regular rye bread, usually dried, baked into croutons, or fried, with the addition of sugar or fruit (e.g. apples or raisins), and with a yeast culture and zakvaska ("kvass fermentation starter"). (Wikipedia)
• • •
It me again, occasional indie constructor Christopher Adams for my second (and last) day of blogging to open up ~two weeks of guest blogging; handing the reins off tomorrow to a familiar face. But for now, I get to enjoy a good puzzle for a second straight day, and I'm thankful for that—Sunday puzzles can be very hit or miss, but when they're good, they're worth it.

The theme's a bit on the simpler side; other than reinterpreting the company names in the clues to mean different things, there's nothing tricksy with wordplay going on here, and there's no shenanigans going on in the grid either. And that's perfectly fine—not every puzzle needs to be super complex, and most times a simple(r) theme done well (as is the case here) is better than a puzzle that tries (and doesn't quite succeed) to do something more complex.

That's especially the case when you're in the hands of a master constructor, as Matthew Stock is; in addition to a fun theme, there's lots of good fill here: TOO COOL, FWIW, NEW-AGEY, OOPS!, GOD COMPLEX, LAYSHIA, TAO and TAU (at least, I find the juxtaposition amusing), KNOTS UP, AND DONE, etc. The only thing I didn't like was PREDIAL (Relating to land, old-style), but I'll take (at most) one meh word (out of 140) any day of the week (and especially on Sunday).

saw lcd soundsystem live in december 2017, showed up hella early and was directly in front of james murphy the entire show (and got his setlist at the end)

Lots of fun clues as well, which always adds to the enjoyment, especially when the theme may not be everybody's cup of tea. In no particular order, my faves:
  • STENCIL (Help when writing a letter) and ART ROOM (It might have desks and drawers) — both artistic, and both misleading; in the first case, it's not a document but an actual letter of the alphabet, while in the second, "drawers" should be interpreted as "draw-ers" (i.e. people who draw).
  • GLASSES (They can help you see or taste) — I enjoyed this because it's two separate meanings of the answer, but those meanings are united by reference to two of the five senses; always a good thing when you can bring together two different things so smoothly, as is the case here.
  • LIE ("I promise I won't laugh," often) — evokes a nice, funny, somewhat specific scenario, and for that I enjoyed it. Similarly, SLIM (Like the odds of finding a needle in a haystack) and SMORE (Dessert with some assembly required) also brought amusing and/or delicious images to mind.
  • ORLANDO (Magic can be seen here) — the masked capital (i.e. the first word being a proper noun and not just capitalized because it's the first word of the clue) strikes again!
  • PESO (South American capital) — the masked capital (i.e. the word "capital" referring to not a capital city, but to currency) strikes again!
  • EWELL (Apt name for a Christmas caroler?) — OK, I didn't actually like this clue; I am (in general) not a fan of "apt name for a[n] ___?" clues. Like, yay, words are spelled like and/or sound like other words; that doesn't mean that similarity is interesting. (I am fully aware that this also describes a lot of crossword themes, and that my views on those may or may not agree with my views on these clues. I am large, I contain multitudes.) Anyway, it's apt because EWELL is possibly a homophone for YULE, depending on where you live. (The existence of dialects / multiple valid pronunciations for words is one of the many reasons why I don't like pronunciation-based themes in general, though there are some that transcend this difficulty and that I do like.)
there's no compelling reason in the grid to post this here; i just needed another video to break up this wall of text, and i really love this band. their EP "the last pillar of light" is all bangers, no skips, and i can't wait for their full-length debut

Olio:
  • CELESTE (___ Ng, author of "Little Fires Everywhere")  — a wonderful book; got to meet her when she was part of a discussion panel for Charles Yu's book "Interior Chinatown" (also a wonderful book; if you haven't read this or "Little Fires Everywhere", please do so ASAP).
  • LAYSHIA (___ Clarendon, first openly transgender W.N.B.A. player) — as per yesterday's notes, more fill and clues like this, please. 
  • ELIO (___ Perlman, role for Timothée Chalamet in "Call Me by Your Name") — aside from being a great movie (that I am not ashamed to admit I cried at), I just wanted to point out the style guide of cluing names as fill in the blank answers, as is the case in all three bullet points up to this point. I know it's done in some cases to alleviate confusion (e.g. is this a first name or a last name?) but IMO the NYT seems to overdo it.
  • SOAP (Lava, e.g.) — almost a stealth theme clue; at least, it references another brand. I usually get Lava soap mixed up with GOJO soap, which smells like how tangerine White Claw tastes.
  • AA TEAM (Binghamton Rumble Ponies or Birmingham Barons) — assuredly a gimme for Rex, and also a gimme for me; the Rumble Ponies have one of the best names in all of sports, though the Rocket City Trash Pandas and Montgomery Biscuits (also both AA teams) are up there as well. But the Rumble Ponies are better, if only because they're affiliated with the Mets, and I'm a Mets fan.
  • HEPTAGONS (The British 20-pence and 50-pence coins, geometrically) — fun fact: part of the reason for this shape (with slightly rounded corners) is that these coins have a constant breadth, no matter which way you measure across; as a result, you can use them in vending machines without difficulty.
Yours in puzzling, Christopher Adams, Court Jester of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

139 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:19 AM  

I really have no idea how I managed to finish this without looking anything up.
Guess I'm gonna have to bone up on my "fermented Baltic drinks", boy band lingo, and the countless supermodels and WhoTF actors we're expected to know at the drop of a hat.
(FYI - from Wikipedia: Esmé Creed-Miles [born 5 February 2000] is an English actress,[1] known for starring as the title character in the Amazon Video series Hanna.)
Yeah. I thought so.

Or not. I really don't care as long as I can rassle out a word from a cross or two, which I was barely able to do here.
At least the theme put me to sleep. Well, maybe not sleep exactly...just the occasional smack-nod. Punny things and humor in general are admittedly subjective.
Today's subject is "Things That Make Me Go ICK".
A lackluster theme + fill that annoys me = a dour sloth.
The best themer, IMHO, was what was likely the star - MILITARYACADAMIES. Not funny, but apt.
And always happy to see AuGUStus McCrae anywhere.

Otherwise, not an enjoyable solve for me, but I hope y'all had fun!

🧠🧠🧠
🎉🎉

Joaquin 12:24 AM  

A very enjoyable write-up, Mr. Adams. Made me feel like I'm on vacation, too. Also, have to agree big time with your opinion of the name "Rumble Ponies". Sure beats the snot out of "Guardians".

okanaganer 12:42 AM  

Also not enjoyable for me; just a stream of names clued for people I've never heard of. UPTON is a supermodel, not a writer? GUS = Lonesome Dove? ELIO? LAYSHIA? OSO? EWELL? ESME? MEL? The Binghampton Rumble Ponies?? SeriouslY?

The theme is ok, I guess. More of a "Oh, I see" than "Oh, wow!".

Liked the LCD Soundsystem video. My fav is the remarkable video for Oh Baby, a compelling six minute science fiction movie starring Sissy Spacek and David Strathairn (you'll recognize him).

Joe Dipinto 1:11 AM  

I filled in about 20 answers on this thing and was so bored I put it aside and never picked it up again. It's a good thing I didn't hit the southeast corner because I'm allergic to aspirin.

But Christopher, so far you have my vote to be Alex's permanent replacement host. I mean Rex's permanent replacement blogger.

jae 1:46 AM  

Mediumish. I hit some ROUGH PATCHes in the center...KVASS, CELESTE, INPUT, PREDIAL...which needed staring. Also, it took a while to grok 12/24, but mostly this was on the easy side.

OK Sun., mostly liked it.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

Again, not easy for me. I did like a few of the theme answers, WIND TURBINES, SPANISH ARMADA, etc. Just not enough of them to make this fun. A medium/challenging here.

MommaJ 2:41 AM  

Maybe I’m tired, but I don’t get how Texas Instruments = steel guitars.

Ken Freeland 3:07 AM  

Agree with those who found it too PPP-ish... full of names of people I don't know and don't care to know, aa well as a brand name I've never heard of (Five Guys) which made the themer more difficult to grasp than it should have been. It's been months since we've had a truly enjoyable Sunday puzzle... sigh...

Graham 4:21 AM  

The problem with the EWELL clue isn’t the “apt name for a” part, it’s that EWELL isn’t a common name, or even a rare one. Wikipedia tells me there was an old timey baseball player, and that’s it. That’s not clue-worthy — especially when the mean family from To Kill a Mockingbird are right there as a much better target for that answer.

Conrad 5:39 AM  


Lots of WOEs for me today:
12A PEARCE
17D ESME
41A OSO
42A GUS
44A LAYSHIA
51D PREDIAL
61A LOEB
70D ELIO
71A DESI
87A FOXTAIL (wanted catTAIL)
90A KVASS

I guess I need some remedial CSL (Crosswordese as a Second Language)

Anonymous 6:21 AM  

ROTFL *not* ROFL

mikebernsVIE 6:43 AM  

Cluing 71A as "Arnaz" might have prevented a Natick in that central SE section for those of us who didn't get Celeste, Kvass, and Predial.
Also, what's up with the misleading ampersand (Br&) in the puzzle title? I know it means "brand," but I thought it would factor into answers somehow.

pabloinnh 7:28 AM  

Couldn't get rid of the P in PSATS, which kept me from seeing Celeste, which crossing the South Asian folks and the old-style property term led to a technical DNF, but excused by Good Will Hunting's revelation that "it's not your fault". Other big hang up was having POLITCAL instead MILITARY, and trying to think of a word that ended in ___DEMIES, which I couldn't for the longest time. That one was my fault.

Agree with others that the obscure (to me) PPP took some of the joy out of this one, which was overall a nice challenging Sunday.

My favorite minor league team name has to be the Macon Whoopies, even if they're defunct and played hockey.

Good thing I got up early, MS, as this one ate up many many nanoseconds. Must Say that it was a worthwhile solve, and thanks for the fun.

pmdm 7:49 AM  

Something from me like an A for effort and an F for enjoyment because of the PPP. And a big thumbs up on the write-up.

Nothin more to say.

Sue 7:57 AM  

Oh! EWELL. I had put in NOELL. No wonder it was a DNF in that part of the woods. I like NOELL better. Otherwise, sort of meh....

Unknown 8:03 AM  

Steel guitars are often played in country western bands. Texas instruments. You're welcome.

Nancy 8:13 AM  

Even without having to deal with the brand name misery yet (haven't gotten that far; ain't gonna) I can't cope with the many abbrevs and text-speak and pop culture clues. A miserable start to what looks like it's going to be a thoroughly miserable experience. Meanwhile, I'm up early -- which is a good thing because thunderstorms are predicted for the afternoon and if I'm going to the park, I'd better get going now.

Thanks to Will Shortz for warning me in advance in the Note that this puzzle is based on brand names. It's the 2nd time in two months you've done that on a Sunday. And so I say to WS: Yes, you can publish 'em, but, no, you simply can't make me do 'em.

Bye, bye for now, everyone. I'll come back later and see what I missed. Or didn't miss.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

I kept hoping, trying to read more of an aha moment into this theme than there really was based on the “off” in offensive line and off brand. But, alas, the only thing “off” was me.

amyyanni 8:18 AM  

Celeste Ng is an author worth reading, agree, Christopher. Enjoyed your write-up and the puzzle. Happy Sunday, all. Post moving tasks still filling my dance card.

bocamp 8:19 AM  

Thx, Matthew; a most engaging Sun. puz! :)

Just north of medium solve.

A basic NW, down and around, with a good mix of the 'trampoline effect' going on. Started with ATOP and ended with PIT (had to mentally run the alphabet, as not knowing PREDIAL.

Semi-malapop at 4D; first thot was O LINES, but didn't put it in, as the clue didn't indicate any informality.

As for 21A OFFENSIVE LINE: could be taken as a sexist LINE (Five guys?), i.e., if it's supposed to relate to football, then the clue could be Five girls/gals/women (or in mixed flag football, some combo, thereof).

Bottom line: a perfect Sun. puz, with just enough crunch to make it a satisfying challenge. :)
___

yd pg -1 with a 9er to find: (tabbing it)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 8:20 AM  

Wow, can you be OFL from now on? Please? These write-ups are great: gently witty, affable, free of bile. And I'll be curious to check whether these (incredible) time-postings are a consistent feature, as opposed to only when you want us to know.

The theme did not particularly excite me. A themer which amuses me a little is OFFENSIVE LINE, not just on account of the football connection, but a fleeting fancy that Five Guys got their start by being a team of men who would insult you from behind the counter. I agree with an earlier comment that STEEL GUITARS for Texas Instruments could be mildly confusing, and may be the weakest. I think the idea is that STEEL GUITARS are associated with Country and Western, which is prevalent in Texas? Surely a nose wrinkler.

FWIW, my time was slightly worse than on typical recent Sundays. Sufferin' SUCCOTASH, I have a terrible time remembering names to begin with; e.g., UPTON took much longer than it should have. And I have a hard time keeping up, so no idea of LAYSHIA. Or ELIO. Only vaaaguely familiar with CELESTE Ng and Guy PEARCE. Or is it PEARCE Guy? (Hey, I did say vaguely.)

GLASSES help you taste, eh? You mean drinking GLASSES? Well, not per se. They are an aid to conveying liquids to mouths, so they help you drink, but I wouldn't say they help you taste, except in this indirect way. The clue is trying too hard and lacks consistency.

I agree with our guest blogger about EWELL. I first tried noELL, hoping against hope that was an alternate spelling of Noel/Noelle. There were a few such groaners (PREDIAL, whuh?), but mostly the puzzle was free of dreck. Or ICK. Though I'm not a fan of echoic clues as for example for CHA (I hear Ka-ching! more often). But OUTRE and KVASS are classy and help balance it out.

On another topic: the Acrostic struck me as a medium or maybe slightly harder. A weird thing keeps happening on my end of the software, where a single letter is not accepted, as in I try putting in the letter A into a particular blank without success. (Elsewhere the A is accepted.) So I just solve the puzzle, then open up a new tab with the puzzle, and enter my solutions. The resultant time makes it look like I'm cheating. Who cares, actually? I have a real time and a fake time, and nobody but me knows anything about either.

yd pg -2, but haven't given up. Haven't looked at td's.

EricStratton 8:23 AM  

@8:03's comment brought to mind the scene in "The Blues Brothers" movie in which the band plays at a honkytonk called, I think, "Hank's Country Bunker." Dan Ackroyd (who was either Joliet Jake or Elwood, I can never remember) asks the bartender what kind of music is typically played there. She replies "Both kinds. Country and Western."

Fish Monkey 8:28 AM  

Except that steel guitars are of Hawaiian origin!

Dean M 8:29 AM  

If DESI (Member of a South Asian diaspora) / PREDIAL (Relating to land, old-style) isn’t a natick, I don’t know what is.

Colin 8:48 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, and thanks to Christopher Adams for his write-up. As a novice constructor (sharing only with friends and family so far!), I look forward to all different types/levels of themes... my biggest hurdle in constructing. Agree with others that there was a lot of PPP, and I had to enlist my wife's help with this, so cannot claim to have finished by my lonesome.

Speaking of Texas Instruments, I still have my TI-25 from high school. I bought this over 40 years ago, and it still works. Amazing.

Zwhatever 8:49 AM  

I couldn’t help but feel like Adams knows this puzzle is Meh at best but felt constrained to say as many nice things as possible. …that is perfectly fine and …at least, I find the juxtaposition amusing and especially when the theme may not be everybody's cup of tea all just scream “I know this puzzle stinks.” Because it does. It doesn’t even stink in an interesting way, it is just the blandest of bland. I finished wondering why anyone thought turning brand names into green paint was theme worthy. A few months ago Rex wrote Slightly more clever than most of the dad-joke themes we tend to get on Sundays, but only slightly about a Stock puzzle. Change the “more” to “less” and you have the essence of my reaction.

If you tell me you have an ART studio at home I have some sense of what that is. ART ROOM, though? I guess a school might have an ART ROOM, although even schools usually call the ART ROOM a “studio,” now. I had ART and knew what the clue was doing with “drawers” being people who draw and still had no idea what the second word would be (since “studio” clearly didn’t fit). I think I had ART R - - M before i realized what the puzzle wanted. I can see how this clue/answer works, but to me ART ROOM lacks any element of thingness.

I caught up on yesterday’s comments late and I have this piece of advice that people will ignore; It is better to be silent and thought a bigot than to comment on a crossword blog and remove all doubt.

Brian 8:54 AM  

Every aspect of this puzzle irritated me: stupid theme, bad fill, annoying clues. Worst Sunday puzzle in recent history.

Lewis 8:55 AM  

Terrific idea for a theme, redefining brand names. I suspect that most are like me – once I got the first, the theme was obvious. But I don’t know how many were also like me, in that even knowing the theme, those theme answers weren’t gimmes. It’s the reverse of how themes often go, where you spend much time figuring out what the theme is, then once you get it, the rest of the theme answers are easy, and the puzzle falls quickly.

But this one didn't. There was gritty resistance too in the cluing and in answers I didn’t know. I was staring at two Australia-sized blank islands that I couldn’t seem to penetrate. But the brain is amazing, and as I was working elsewhere in the grid, it was subconsciously working on translating what seemed non-translatable; it started catching on, and in a bit, the Australias were reduced to aits, then they became [Teeny-tiny], and then le voilà.

Cool theme and a great grapple, Matthew. Thumbs up and thank you!

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Leaving the jolly debate out of it, in what world is Old MacDonald a rancher? Old MacDonald had a farm. Farm = farmer. One cow does not a rancher make.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Far too many obscure names.

Hunter S 9:09 AM  

Couldn't have been more smug than when, from a cold start, I snagged "Brandingirons" for "Texas Instruments".
"MyB!"

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Agreed!

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Agreed!

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Ooh, I like your link (intentional or not?) to the print puzzle (where I solve), as the Magazine's cover story this week is on Matt Damon. 😉

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Google calls PREDIAL "archaic." I certainly wouldn't disagree.



Villager

TTrimble 9:34 AM  

"And on that farm he had a(t least one) cow, E I E I O. With a moo moo here, and a moo moo there, here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo!" Sounds like potentially a lot of cattle!

(As my dad used to say, "I'm just funnin' ya", @Anonymous 8:57 AM.)

td pg -6

TTrimble 9:46 AM  

@Eric Stratton
Close enough, but wasn't it Bob's Country Bunker? That may be the perfect movie comedy. Hilarious, great blues music, legendary car crashes. What's not to adore?

(I think that movie is rated R. No sex/nudity, no explicit violence that I can recall [only comedic and implied], and just a handful of swear words. Weird.)

mmorgan 9:50 AM  

Themers were pretty good (but not joyful), a good number of lively clues & answers scattered about, but way too many celebrity-types I've never heard of for my taste.

EdFromHackensack 9:56 AM  

Naticked at DESu/PREDuAL. medium challenging for me. My son knew ELIO, that helped. Wasn’t Guy PEARCE married to Madonna?

Keith D 10:01 AM  

@Nancy - you sound really fun. Thanks for brightening everyone’s day.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Where does a Desi come from? And who ever heard of "predial"? A NATICK for sure! Too many names and pop-culture stuff. I solved except for the Natick. Not fun.

Teedmn 10:05 AM  

This took a while for me - while it doesn't seem overwhelmingly full of proper nouns, those that were here were not ones I knew (or I misspelled, like Guy PieRCE).

I decided 4D, those working block by block, were "masons" so 1A should be an "element" so 2D would be LMAO. This kept me out of the NW quite effectively.

I got the theme at SPANISH ARMADA, with just the second S and the D in place. No idea how but that was fun!

Matthew Stock, thanks for a well-conceived Sunday puzzle.

pabloinnh 10:18 AM  

@TTrimble, @Eric Stratton-Great memories of that movie. I used to go to school on Halloween dressed as on of the Blues Bros., kids would say, "cool--Men in Black, right?". I'd have to play the ending scenes with the police car pile up for them, because I am at heart an educator.

@TT-I found the Acrostic to be pretty smooth sailing, but yesterday's SB had way too many words for me and I quit after pg.

Carola 10:22 AM  

Pleasingly challenging for me, given my self-imposed Sunday solving rule (must fill in the first cross I know and work only from there, no jumping around, no peeking ahead). First in: 13 - PEARCE x PERU, so I had to back into the puzzle from the right side, and it took me a while to catch on. I thought the theme was creative and witty, and I found lots more to like, too - HEPTAGONS, LOSE TOUCH, IGNEOUS, FOXTAIL, SUCCOTASH....speaking of which, that gets a "Suff'rin'" in front of it for the OUTPOUR of PPP that took some of the shine off what was otherwise a fine Sunday.

Do-over: All DONE. No idea: OSO, GUS, LAYSHIA, UPTON, ELIO. Help from previous puzzles: LOEB, DESI. Mystery word: PREDIAL, which in my head I pronounced PRAY-dee-al. Thanks to @Christopher for explaining that and for the cheery write-up.

Caitlin 10:28 AM  

No judgement but isn’t openly transgender a tautology?

Mikey from El Prado 10:33 AM  

I’m with Frantic Sloth…. How the hell did I finish this one? Major reliance on crosses, many of which took some work and rework. I do Sunday’s puzzle pen to paper. It’s the only day we get NYT delivered, and a decades-long ritual for me to do in that manner (I have this weird ‘phobia’ of pencil on newspaper paper). Soooooo, lots of darker overwritten letters. Looks awful, but done!

lmao to ROFL. penTAGONS to sepTAGONS (huh?) to HEPTAGONS. law school to MED school. espies to PEEkED to PEEPED. You get the point.

Yet, somehow I liked the puzzle. Sloggy, but that’s Sunday!

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

It's satisfying to see so many commenters filling in for @Rex with their snarky nitpicking.
NOT!

bocamp 10:35 AM  

Thx, Christopher; another great review! :)

@TTrimble (9:34 AM)

Liked your take on OLD MACDONALD and his 'cow ranch'. Sounds like a jolly farmer/rancher to me. 🤠
___

Ewell is both a surname and a given name. Notable people with the name include:

Surname:

Barney Ewell (1918–1996), American athlete
Benjamin Stoddert Ewell (1810–1894), United States and Confederate army officer
Dana Ewell (born 1971), convicted murderer
Don Ewell (1916–1983), American jazz pianist
Dwight Ewell (born 1968), American actor
Kayla Ewell (born 1985), American actress
Marshall Davis Ewell (1844–1928), American lawyer
Patricia Lynch Ewell (1926–2011), former U.S. ambassador to Madagascar
Peter Rawlinson, Baron Rawlinson of Ewell (1919–2006), English politician
Philip Ewell (active since 2001), American music theorist and cellist
Richard S. Ewell (1817–1872), Confederate general
Tom Ewell (1909–1994), American actor

Given name:

Ewell Blackwell (1922–1996), Major League pitcher
Ewell Ross McCright 1917–1990), U.S. Air Force captain
James Ewell Brown Stuart (1833–1864), Confederate cavalry general

Fictional characters:

Robert E. Lee (Bob) Ewell and daughter Mayella, characters in Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird
___

And then, or course, there's Euell Gibbons. 🌻
___

pg -5

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

OffTheGrid 10:41 AM  

I enjoyed this and deemed it best Sunday in a while. I do think that the brand name clues should have had all words capitalized. After all, the trick is to re-purpose the name, so the name should be presented properly. Anyone have a thought on that?

Zwhatever 10:46 AM  

@Caitlin - I don’t know how that would be a tautology so I’m wondering what you mean or if you wanted a different word.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

I did not enjoy this. And the chirpy write up did not help. PREDIAL? Are you kidding? If the constructor has to look up the word, it should not be in the puzzle. Period. There was more than one of those today.

DickGrant 10:51 AM  

I liked your trivia about heptagons except that it is wrong. See, for example, the chapter “curves of constant breadth” in The Enjoyment of Math” by Rademacher and Toeplitz. (A marvelous book for anyone interested in that sort of thing [math, not trivia]).

KnittyContessa 10:51 AM  

CELESTE crossing DESI crossing KVASS was one tough section for me.
I had CoLEtTE and could not figure it out. Had to google my way out of it.

barbara 10:56 AM  

I feel like this would've been way more fun if the theme clues and answers had been reversed, so we were solving for the brand names. At least for me, there would've been a fun aha moment when I figured out, for example, that the answer to "Spanish Armada" was OLD NAVY, the answer to "Military academies" was GENERAL MILLS, and (aha!) I was meant to be thinking of brand names with literal interpretations that matched the clues.

RooMonster 11:01 AM  

Hey All !
Don't have any OFFENSIVE LINEs to say about this puz, put me in the "Liked" bunch. Even though I had my one-letter DNF. At the spot @Dean M 8:29 correctly IDED (puz word!) as a Natick. PREDeAL- PREDIAL, Tomayto-Tomahto.

LMAO first for ROFL holding me up in the NW. In NE, PieRCE, then PEiRCE, finally seeing AIRBNBS to get PEARCE. Had DENIERS in originally, but took it out, as thought PieRCE was solid.

I AGREES with @mikebernsVIE 6:43 about the superfluous "&" in the Title. Figured we be putting the "&" symbol in, or at least each Themer was an ___ and ___ answer. What gives?

But still a nice puz. Liked the repurposing of Br& names into alternative meanings.

Some writeovers I can remember, porEOUS-IGNEOUS, pre-mentiond LMAO-ROFL and PieRCE, IGoTIT-IGETIT (which held me up down there, as LoRDE_ kept me wanted an S on the end), TAo-TAU (as finding TAO elsewhere helped that), NEWAGEr-NEWAGEY, rare-SLIM, think that's it.

SUCCOTASH is nasty stuff. Of course, I don't like Lima beans, so that's probably why. Who came up with that name anyway? Why not "Lima Corn"? "Corny Limas"? Maybe the "name people" were trying to come up with a catchy name for such an abomination, but they weren't having any success agreeing on anything and somebody shouted out of frustration, "Well, sufferin' SUCCOTASH! Can't we agree on something?" And someone else said, "Heyyyy, wait a minute..." And the rest is history. (No LEGAL FEES charged for that!)

Six F's (that MERITs a 👍)
RooMonster
DarrinV

Craig 11:11 AM  

Can someone explain ADDS for 47-D? Thanks!

Caitlin 11:17 AM  

I don’t know if openly transgender is tautological but it seems like a reasonable question if you know what the word means. I suppose it’s possible that’s why I asked.

Suzafish 11:20 AM  

Not fun. At all. Ewell. FWIW? Desi? Huh?

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Fwiw, I saw no instance of bigotry in yesterday’s comments.
I can affirm that the mods play favorites., and nuke posts that violate no norm but are displeasing to them

Frantic Sloth 11:30 AM  

@bocamp 1035am I'll see your "cow ranch" and raise you another bovine reference. 😉
P.S. LOL You can stop EWELLing now. 😘

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Z at 10:46:

I think what Caitlin means is that it is relatively hard to be transgender without it being known. Especially if you're famous, people will start asking where you grew up and digging into your background. Though I agree it's far from impossible for less well known people to conceal their transgenderness.


Villager

Joseph Michael 11:42 AM  

Suffering SUCCOTASH, as Sylvester used to say.

I think I might have liked this more if the answers had been the clues and the clues had been the answers.

Themers were pretty weak, except for MILITARY ACADEMIES as a description of GENERAL MILLS. Also liked GOD COMPLEX and some of the tricky cluing. But it’s hard to get excited about a bunch of brand names. I can get that from going to the supermarket.


johnk 11:46 AM  

99A, I say!

Joseph Michael 11:50 AM  

Forgot to mention:

For “Inflated feeling of infallibility,” I tried really hard to make TRUMPISM work, but there just weren’t enough letters.

CHA ching!

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

I count about 54 PPPs (liberal definition, including anything that isn't an actual English word or words, like ENT and EMT). That's a lot, out of 140 clues.

And I agree that DESI/PREDIAL qualifies as a Natick because you need specialized knowledge to know it's not DESu/PREDuAL. I bet only 1 out of 100 or fewer speakers of English knows PREDIAL. I only knew DESI because a local deli offers Desi food.

I was 100% sure of all the crosses for PREDIAL and still had no idea what was going on, wondering if it was some kind of a joke about land line telephones maybe.


Villager

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Not crazy about either PREDIAL or KVASS being in thie (or any) grid. It's one thing to have an unfamiliar word that would be a learning tool for the solver, but when you have to clue something as "old-style" or "Baltic fermented drink," that's a sign of desperation.

They are especially problematic because this is a wide-open theme. This should have been sent back to the constructor and have those portions re-worked.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

I agree with other commenters about Mr. Adams' optimistic take on this puzzle -I can see an attempt to be the anti-Rex and try to review a puzzle positively for a change, but this was absolutely the wrong grid to attempt to do that with. This is the second Sunday in a row, after last week's abomination, that I gave up on - weak, unfunny theme, answers bordering on offensive (steel guitars are from Hawaii and are not the same as steel STRING guitars, so the Texas clue itself is basically an act of cultural white-supremacist erasure) and archaic words that have been out of use since...the 16th? 17th century? No one would possibly know "kvass" unless they were Eastern European or had spent time studying Russian culture and/or visiting. Ditto for many, many other obscure references and just awful construction.

Colin 12:07 PM  

@Craig, 11:11 AM: When you "sum", you "add." [I remember my mother used to refer to "doing your sums" when learning basic arithmetic.] So a "summer" can be a person who ADDS.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

When you add a bunch of numbers together you are finding the SUM (total).
So you are a SUM-MER (adder).

mike g 12:16 PM  

Way too much PPP. Sucked the joy out of what was otherwise a decent puzzle. Been way too long since we had a Sunday gem.

Denis M 12:16 PM  

100% correct. Texas cluing would be for pedal steel guitars. Or i guess lap steel guitars.

bocamp 12:21 PM  

@Frantic Sloth (11:30 AM)

If YOU'LL repair that 'another bovine reference' link, I'll stop EWELLing. 😘

@Joseph Michael (11:42 AM)

I'm with Sylvester & @Roo when it comes to SUCCOTASH. 🤢
___

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

thefogman 12:30 PM  

Rex wouldn’t have been so kind. The theme didn’t have enough zingers. WINDTURBINE was a good one but OLDMACDONALD wasn’t jolly and he had a farm - not a ranch. SPANISHARMADA was pretty good, but the rest are in mainly in the mushy middle. Why aren’t Sundays the PITs lately?

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

@11:17- Good question. If you said that Jackie Robinson was the first openly Black MLB player that would be a tautology. If you said Jason Collins was first openly gay NBA player that would not be a tautology. Not sure about openly transgender I would suggest that it is possible to be a closeted transgender person.

Christopher P. 12:43 PM  

Count me as one of the ones who couldn't believe he finished it without any help in just over an hour. I feel like a beat up workhorse who would like something stronger than a carrot to restore his inner peace. Kept getting stuck in places that maybe I shouldn't have... "igotit" for IGETIT, "loaner" for LENDER, "usps" for USDA, "laird" for LIEGE... Makes things difficult, you know. And all the others I never heard of, or have not stored in memory from before -- and had to come at from other directions, KVASS, LAYSHIA, OSO, ROFL, ESME, ELIO, etc., etc.

But just to be clear, it is oddly satisfying to now be at the finish line. Fine job Matthew and Will.

...except for EWELL, that is. Throw that one in the fire!

...and SUCCOTASH. yuck, yuck, YUCK!

fiddleneck 12:45 PM  

@ Anonymous12:06: Or you could read Chekhov.

Craig 12:49 PM  

Boooooooo

(Thanks!)

Swagomatic 12:55 PM  

Not my cup of tea. I quit in frustration last night, and finished this morning. The theme answers weren't cohesive, so this came off like a quote puzzle to me.

Christopher P 12:57 PM  

Oh yeah, forgot the "best" one... "lmao" for ROFL kept me working for a while longer. ROFL? Really? Not that I ever heard of it, but why isn't it ROTFL? Seems pretty contrived. And for a future puzzle, why not ROTF ??? Or how about LTIH or IPMP... I'm thinking now that any 4 letters can be someone's texting shorthand for something.

Frantic Sloth 1:00 PM  

@bocamp LOL - Deal! The real bovine reference.

bocamp 1:02 PM  

@Anonymous (12:35 PM) wrote:

"If you said that Jackie Robinson was the first openly Black MLB player that would be a tautology."

Not necessarily; Robinson may have been preceded by others of African descent who passed as white, but never came out. Wdyt? 🤔
___

td 0 (still working on yd's)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 1:12 PM  

I didn't like lima beans or Brussell sprouts when I was a kid, but now I'm fine with both. They both have a nutty flavor which I find very pleasant. I love @Roo's folk etymology for SUCCOTASH, but here's a quick copy and paste:

mid 18th century: from Narragansett msiquatash (plural).

An earlier commenter seemed almost indignant over the inclusion of KVASS, and how could anyone possibly know that, etc. I dunno. Some solvers are just innate word lovers, so when they see a curious-looking word like that, they may naturally remember it and file it away. I find words like KVASS delightful, and they're welcome any time. If I don't know the word and it looks interesting or exotic or it sounds nice, I hope to remember it. (This despite the fact that I complain about words on SB, but there it's a case where there's some pretense that certain [IMHO very uncommon] words are ordinary, but actually common words like "amain" and "alee" are not accepted. Why?)

Hey, anyone in touch with @Barbara S.? Hope she's okay. She's been missed.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Sunday DNF. First for a very long time. Partly just too weary to keep trying. All the objections others have listed. Not happy.

Frustrated 1:25 PM  

@ATTrimble

I had the same problem with the Acrostic. Also a problem with the crossword - sometimes I accidentally swipe right on the touchpad on the computer, which sends the page off to the right. Usually when I do that, I swipe back the other way, and the puzzle returns, with the click to resume, and the puzzle still filled in to the point I had completed. Now, it's empty.

Acrostic entries also wiped out, after going to another game, but saying logged in to Games, and then returning to Acrostic.

Can't really comment on puzzle, as I was frustrated and tired when working on it after work shift last night.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

What does WOE mean??

puzzlehoarder 1:49 PM  

Sufferin' SUCCOTASH that was 54 minutes of my life that I won't get back. DESI was the one piece of crosswordese I absolutely had to dredge up to avoid a dnf. In a little over 30 years of solving I've never seen PREDIAL so I can empathize with anyone who hasn't had DESI beaten into their head from solving.

This was a perfect example of what Sunday puzzles usually are, long corny early week puzzles who's groan inducing humor leads to a THICKET of obscure crosswordese. There's little enjoyment for me in solving them. The one benefit is they force you to deal with an excess of the kind of fill a good themeless eschews. This way who have enough pieces in your bag of solving tricks to avoid a dnf on a Friday or a Saturday.

Zwhatever 1:55 PM  

First , D’Oh slap. I was thinking it was PRE-DIAL and had something to do with landlines and didn’t spend another precious nanoseconds thinking about it until seeing the comments. Oof, that’s my bad. Not that I ever want to see PREDIAL in a puzzle again.

Regarding tautology- “Openly X” is not an example. Nor is “openly X or closeted X.” In the current subject a tautology would be “the player is transgender or not transgender.” There is this common misconception that one is is either out or closeted about these things. Outness is not binary. Many people might be openly transgender to their friends but not to their family or to their employers. As a consequence it is highly likely that you will encounter a transgender person this week and you will not know, even though every single person important to them knows.
And @bocamp demonstrates that even the seemingly most obvious example, “openly black,” isn’t a tautology either. Go ahead and put “was babe ruth black” into your favorite search engine and have fun.
@Villager - Possibly. But that assumes there haven’t been transgender players before and how would we know unless somebody told us?

Ldswat 1:56 PM  

Absolute worst sunday puzzle ever.since 1943.. Now i have to know names of sex change dudes and toots... Gimme a break... wtf!????

Zwhatever 1:57 PM  

@Anon1:42 - Acronym for “What On Earth.” Basically an entry one has no idea about. So, for me, PREDIAL was a WOE. It’s particularly apt because a WOE often causes the solver woe.

jazzmanchgo 2:00 PM  

I agree that "pedal steel guitars" would have been better, but in fact blues and country musicians played what were usually referred to as steel guitars (actually, steel string guitars) for a long time before "pedal steel" instruments were invented. There's a wonderful gospel music genre that uses slide steel guitars called called "Sacred Steel," as well.

@Anonymous -- "steel guitars are from Hawaii and are not the same as steel STRING guitars, so the Texas clue itself is basically an act of cultural white-supremacist erasure" -- REALLY??!! Tell that to Texas country music legend Bob Wills, whose "Steel Guitar Rag" was a major C&W hit. He and others like him ADAPTED (not "stole") the Hawaiian guitar sound to their own music; for that matter, African-American blues musicians who codified the "slide guitar" technique did much the same thing, as did the African-American gospel musicians who invented and still play in the style called "Sacred Steel." Heck -- the banjo was originally from Africa -- so if we referred to it as an Appalachian instrument, that would be "erasure"??

That being said -- yeah, far too much PPP.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

This puzzle managed to be difficult and boring at the same time. Accomplishment?

Scrumpythegreat 2:03 PM  

Really quite inventive and enjoyable but I fail to see how on earth we went from Jolly Rancher to Old Macdonald who was neither a rancher nor jolly, was he? I must have missed something in pre-school. A farm is not a ranch and there was nothing "jolly" about the old man's temperament. Some very poor editing there.

egsforbreakfast 2:05 PM  

I agree with @Barbara 10:56 that this would have worked better with the theme clues and answers reversed. As I go back and read each set, it seems likely that each would be a mini-aha moment when realized, rather than a “oh yeah, that works” moment. An exception might still be OLDMACDONALD, whose demeanor seems unresolved by the lyrics unless one refers to the little-known “lost verse” of OLD MACDONALD, which begins:

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-I-e-I-o.
And on his farm he grew some weed …..

I enjoyed the puzzle as much as I enjoy most Sundays.



bocamp 2:07 PM  

@Frantic Sloth (1:00 PM)

I had totally forgotten that scene. 😂

Then, there's the 'California State Livestock Pavilion' (now known as the 'Cow Palace'), which definitely trumps Jesse's 'Cow House'. 🐮

@TTrimble (1:12 PM)

Mom was big on raw veggies, but there was always a cooked vegetable for dinner, many of which I had to wash down with gulps of milk. Surprisingly, spinach was one of the only ones I liked. Now, most, including Brussels sprouts, are welcome. Alas, Lima beans don't make that list, especially when mixed with corn.

Wouldn't you just love to have a conversation with Sam?
___


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

@Z Thank you!!

A Capriote 2:15 PM  

BLUESGUITARS would have been more appropriate I think

GILL I. 2:26 PM  

ALAS....no joy in the mud pits today. I gave many a stink eye at @Conrad's 5:39 list. We both can skip to my loo.
So I look at Five Guys and of course I think of some greasy hamburger. Oh, no...it's a bunch of dudes in a LINE. I look at Green giant and I think Hulk being his behemoth self. Oh no, it's a wind thing. And so it goes for my beloved Sunday.
Just so you don't even care, but if you served me SUCCOTASH at any BBQ I'd most likely shove my Pisco sour down your gullet. Just so you know....

Back to my mask avatar. Last night, coming home from our daughter's BBQ where we had some prime ribs and nothing at all akin to that sufferin crud, we got caught in traffic on Broadway. They were having a lowrider convention or something. People lined up for miles. Nary a mask to be worn. The Delta variant is taking its toll quite heavily here in Sacramento; do the young and daring care? Even the old?
Stay safe and maybe help save a life. Wear a mask until this thing goes away.

What? 2:28 PM  

There are two ways to get ahas from a crossword. One is to deduce an answer and the other is to remember one. Lots of remembering in this one with all the PPPs. Ordinarily I don’t like puzzles like that but at my advanced age, remembering anything is a joy forever and so I had many ahas from this one. Not a bad way to start a Sunday. Now, where did I put my keys?

Frantic Sloth 2:56 PM  

@TTrimble 112pm We asked this the other day, but no info was forthcoming. Have you tried emailing her?

@What? 228pm LOL Did you check the front door?

Masked and Anonymous 3:23 PM  

{Victoria's secret?} = ROYALROLLON …?

… yeah, didn't think so.

Had fun but sure had lotsa royal-nanosecond-flush trouble in the middle puzgrid area. As in: MEL/EWELL/NEWAGEY/LOEB, DESI/PREDIAL, KVASS. But, OK to learn new stuff, I reckon.

staff weeject pick: CHA. One of the -Ching dynasty. Kinda wanted KER-, tho.

Thanx, Mr. Stock. Cool theme odyssey.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


**gruntz**

Anonymoose 3:37 PM  

Didn't know there was such a thing as a steel guitar pedant. Now I do.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

Saw a middle-of-existence show with Ian & Sylvia (yeah, that long ago), during which Ian chats with the audience about morphing into country. The story was, they had been setting up for a show in Des Moines, and he saw folks walking out before the show started when they saw the pedal steel guitar on stage. Folks didn't go to see a Canadian Folk Act to hear music from down the holler. Country and Western is a term invented by Northern City Folk who've no idea that these, at least for many decades, have nothing to do with each except that they're devoted to rural aspects of life.

Unknown 4:10 PM  

Why can't you at least put in the numbers of the clues you are referring to?
This puzzle is so inane that it is a great bother to comb through it trying to find your reference.

Paul Bridson 4:37 PM  

Just the least enjoyable puzzle in months. No reward, only ughhhh. Also, a guy from East St Louis ought to know, and know well, that a farm is not a ranch. Old MacDonald had a ranch? Nope. He did not. All rural activities need not be lumped into “whatever-who cares”. Constructor really got too drunk on his cleverness on this one. He could at least buy a fellow dinner first.

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

should have gotten DESI right off the bat. alas, not. one of the bestest L&O:CI episodes (Noth and Nicholson) deals with South Asians and the clash between 'traditional' and 'modern American' culture/ethos/way of life. a college student girl is the victim. she is Pakistani. I won't spoil the ending, just see it when it comes up again on the guitar: "World's Fair" which is where it ends, next to the globe (Unisphere - talk about aspirational!) fountain. one explanation for the girl's situation, described by another South Asian girl, is that the victim was an ABCD - American Born Confused Desi. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-Born_Confused_Desi

East and West. North and South. and never the twains will meet.

TTrimble 4:57 PM  

@bocamp
I needed an nice Sunday afternoon nap before realizing that it was Sam Ezersky you meant. And not say Yosemite Sam, who in turn is not to be confused with Sylvester. Also needed that nap before getting the last of today's, an 4-letter word which has been threatened to bite me in the past as well. And with this I bid the puzzle "adieu".

And you meant a good talking-to, I guess, as opposed to a talking-with? :-) Actually I think he'd be pretty interesting. I expect he has a brilliant mind. But if there's one thing I'd say to him about SB, it's: don't remove words from the list!! In general it's unfair to change the rules on us, i.e., make up the rules as you go along. (Although I'm much more OK with adding formerly forbidden words -- it's subtraction I find maddening.)

Susan Kendrat 5:01 PM  

Like many, I did not enjoy this one at all. Way too any obscure PPPs and the Ewell really ticked me off...I never heard of anyone with that name. And the theme was so boring..even when I finally got it, it gave me no pleasure. I would have liked to see Rex's opinion of this one...

stephanie 5:05 PM  

not great tbh. technical DNF, ended up googling CELESTE and LAYSHIA. absolutely hated EWELL - i actually usually like the "apt name" clues and i get that it sounds like "yule" but who tf knows anyone named ewell? i had HOLLY originally before i started on the down clues. thanks to craig for asking about ADDS and those who answered, couldn't figure out that meaning either. groan. idk, just too many clues i answered and then instead of that satisfied feeling, or a forehead slap, or a smile or a laugh i just thought "i guess?"

the themed clues were boring to me, although "old macdonald" was kind of cute. i don't understand why the title was written "BR&" instead of just "BRAND" if there wasn't any wordplay and the answers weren't either two fitting answers or one answer made up of two words connected by and, or missing and, or...i don't know, something.

plenty of clues in this that i did enjoy, but not enough to outweigh the rest made this kind of a drag.

my dad always had LAVA SOAP at the sink downstairs and for some reason as a kid i was fascinated by it and it always stuck in my mind. so i had SOAP early on even though i was sure i'd be wrong since it was just a random childhood association. but as my dad is fond of saying, sometimes you get lucky.

The Jolly Green Giant Rancher 5:20 PM  

A boring and lifeless exercise that nearly put me to sleep. Solved as a themeless, because the theme was so weak that I couldn't register it. The unknown PPP was gettable from crosses and that is the best thing I can say about it. MS, wash your wordlist out with preDial.
Mr. Adams, I guess you've earned the title of The Lewis of Guest Bloggers. Congratulations?

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

@GILL I.:
I'd most likely shove my Pisco sour down your gullet. Just so you know....

See, now there is some use to watching PBS. Just yesterday they re-ran an episode of "Milk Street" which, among other things, showed how to make one. With authentic ingredients, if you can find them. High brow stuff.

"In 2003, Peru created the "Día Nacional del Pisco Sour" (National Pisco Sour Day), an official government holiday celebrated on the first Saturday of February."
the wiki

For the USofA, I guess that would be a PBR.

Jo 5:48 PM  

"all the fun comes from figuring out these different contexts; YMMV here, but I thought they were all done well."

Rex, have you been hacked? Ooooh, guest blogger :).

I enjoyed the theme, and "They can help you see or taste" is now my favorite clue ever.

bocamp 5:51 PM  

@TTrimble (4:57 PM) 👍 for 0

Maybe that's what I need (a good nap); I just can't dig that final 9er out from yd's. I'll come at it from a different angle, then pack it in if I don't get it by this eve. I do want to get on to the acrostic some time in the near future. LOL

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that discussion between you and Sam. 🪰
___


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

pmdm 5:57 PM  

Happy to see the references to characters in WB cartoons. Also happy that a lot of other people hate PPP as much as I do. Although for some reason it bothered me less today. Made me think of Chen quoting Agard today. Something approximating "if today was not your puzzle maybe the one tomorrow is." Although it seems a lot of those here have more bad days than good days.

Yes TTrimble, I found the acrostic today so hard I did not complete it, which is a bit unusual these days. I guess I will make some more effort before the solution arrives next Saturday.

For what it's worth, I like lima beans but know of those who do not. Seems off to me, but there's no accounting for taste.

By the way, there is a tie-in to WB cartoons and the puzzle (besides the food entry). From about the '40s to the mid '60s every cartoon began with an iconic steel guitar slide chord. When the NY Philharmonic does the music live with the cartoons, I am told that they use the original instrument or it doesn't sound right. Take that, Baroque music fanatics and those who are listening to the Lone Range theme on WQXR as I write this. (Breath, says Larry Josephson, who is apparently still alive.)

GILL I. 6:38 PM  

@Anony 5:24. I actually had my first Pisco sour in a small town called Pucon in the southern area of Chile. It sits on lake Villarica and it's God's Country. My Dad (lover all things cocktail) introduced me to it. We were the only ones - other than some German tourists - holding up the bar. I thought I'd die (from exhilarating happy high) and gone to heaven.
You can get some "Caravedo" Pisco ingredient...from Total Wine. It's expensive but worth a nice little evening cocktail.
I love Milk Street....Watch it all the time.

chance2travel 6:57 PM  

Solved half of this before going to the Van Gogh immersion exhibit in SF followed by the best pastrami in the world in San Carlos with a couple beers, some Moscato d'ASTI and a bit of Theo dark chocolate with Sea Salt for desert. (When do we we THEO clued as the dark chocolate? Another great brand is CHUAO.

Christopher, I'll see you 6min 30 sec and raise to 26min 04sec. I think this is firmly in the Medium, bordering on Medium Hard. Had to stare down the southwest with just SUED until SOUNDSYSTEM and COUPE opened things up for me. (I guess almost all sporty cars are coupes, but not all coupes are sporty IMHO).

EWELL is not a real name imho. Jewell works. Also don't need to think about DENIERS right now, neither medical ones, nor political ones.

Like that Marathon Runners in 53A are focused on latin PACE for peace.

Saw past the PESO misdirect. Really would love to be in PERU for a good Pisco Sour, tho Chile does them right too.

Christopher, thanks for filling in! Rex, enjoy your time off! I for one come here for your entire authentic self, including the parts that other deride as too woke or too nitpicky or too whatever. Bring it!

Nancy 8:48 PM  

**Acrostic alert** (no spoilers) -- This one was tricky as well as challenging and had what I thought were some pitfalls that I tripped over. I'm wondering if others did too? Wordplay Blog has a Sunday column devoted to the Acrostic (so far all of 15 comments!) and if anyone wants to chat about it with me, drop in over there, find my comment (the most recent right now, which means it's on top) and answer me there. That we we won't spoil the puzzle for anyone else.

Escalator 8:51 PM  

120A answer should be peeked not peeped. You do not take a little look by peeping at something.

Joe Dipinto 10:16 PM  

@Nancy – I added a comment to the Acrostic page at Wordplay. Not sure when it will show up...

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

Ditto. After a long unpleasant slog I came here to get Rex’s take. “Easy-medium”??? Most challenging Sunday for me in the past year and not a fun challenge. Everything about this puzzle annoyed me. Grrr…

Joe Dipinto 10:49 PM  

@Escalator – Well it's a "little" look sizewise if you're looking though a peephole.

Unknown 10:53 PM  

Rough puzzle...took a few trips to Google to finally solve. But I loved the tricky clues, and the fun theme

Also loved Christopher's review, which recalled and revealed the best parts of the puzzle. I bet Rex's columns were like this back when he liked solving puzzles. (Surely he used to or we wouldn't have his blog to share our thoughts on...)

TTrimble 10:58 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 10:16 PM
It's there, and so is mine. It appeared very quickly.

TTrimble 11:08 PM  

@bocamp
I threw in the towel on yesterday's. I really should have had my missing 6-letter. The 9-letter was not a word I recognize (I conjecture it means something I would have guessed is spelled slightly differently). Perhaps it's the same as what you were struggling with. We'll compare notes later.

Out of curiosity, I downloaded and printed Croce 697. Some loin-girding will be required before I attempt that pup!

@Frantic Sloth
I sent an inquiring email to @Barbara S. (cc-ing @bocamp).

albatross shell 2:01 AM  

Hey folks
How about Yul Brenner?
Nobody knows Tom Ewell who made a nice pair of movies with a nice pair of actresses who themselves made a nice pair Mansfield and Monroe. With perhaps nicely paired set of titles.
But what made the clue good was the best answer was forbidden by the written rules of crosswords. Carol. The second best did not fit. Noel.
I did know a Nowell (last name) who did not name his son Noel. He settled for Noah. I knew an Eldrege, nicknamed El. We were on a basketball team together. Every time in December when he looked like he was going to take a shot, one kid would yell out "No, El". It took about two weeks for us to catch on. Then we all did it.

Friday I felt smart. Saturday real slow. Today a bit of each. Three nasty areas. The rest pretty quick.

OFFENSIVELINE MILITARYACADEMIES SPANISHARMADA
All good. In order of most favored.

RK from Switzerland 5:28 AM  

You expressed my thoughts precisely.

JBH 9:46 AM  

Challenging for me in a couple of areas.

A number of wrong answers I had to write over - I use pen in a paper edition.

2D - LMAO
8A - PFCS
32A - KAH-ching, not CHA-ching
43A - NOELL
44D - MOGUL
55A - ALIGNS...then ALLIES.
95A - NFLEAST
99A - PEW





Perry 12:14 PM  

My only gripe about the puzzle (and I am sure I am not the only one to have this gripe) is that the title of the puzzle used an ampersand in 'Off Br&,' which led me to believe that symbols would appear in the clue answers in place of letters. The title was a mishit, IMHO.

Amy 2:54 PM  

Naticks everywhere. Really didn’t enjoy it.

Unknown 6:42 AM  

In Hawaii they play slack key guitars.

kitshef 3:18 PM  

Unutterably bad. Littered with unfair crosses and awful clues, which so distort the solving experience that you don't even notice the (pretty neat) theme.

patialalegitimate 12:27 PM  
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Laurie Meyer Studio 6:57 PM  

That would be Guy Ritchie. Gut Pearce starred in the phenomenal “Memento”. Watch it.

Diana 9:43 AM  

So not enjoyable that it is the only NYT Sunday xword I put down and didn’t finish - EVER! Boring theme, clueless clues, lots of short fill, who-are-these-people name fills (Kate Upton?) I could go on.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Sorry you didn't recognize Guy Pearce who starred in "Memento", maybe the best surrealist film ever. If you've never seen it, its worth hunting down.

Burma Shave 1:33 PM  

SUED, FWIW

CHAT with OLDMACDONALD, he AGREES,
to NOT ENDORSE BAD ACADAMIES,
with unSOUNDSYSTEMs for LSATS,
AND charge OFFENSIVE LEGALFEES.

--- MEL UPTON

spacecraft 1:38 PM  

Adams is following in OFC's footsteps: calling a challenging puzzle easy-medium. This SEAL pup is a long way from easy. Come on: PREDIAL? Which itself is a variant: PRAEDIAL. KVASS? LAYSHIA? Who's Guy PEARCE? And that Creed-Miles chick? Who's gonna know this stuff? Kate UPTON? Now that one I know. DOD.

At this rate I will soon LOSETOUCH with current PPPs. But, we soldier on. Strange how often I have to wedge my way in at the SE corner; maybe I'm built backwards. But there's where I started this time. Hit a roadblock as I tried to go up the east coast, not being able to make sense of things in the 57-72 area. No wonder. I had long odds instead of SLIM--and off the G, gloss for the photo finish, not MATTE. That was, BTW, a HARDG (BOO!). Got that straightened out, and from there my only other writeover was PEEkED before PEEPED.

Finally arriving at the NW (though actually NE was last), I tried to put a football context on the 4-down clue, "Ones working block by block?" You know, like OFFENSIVELINEmen do. Imagine my surprise when the five guys turned out to be them! NE was finished with a lot of guesswork. So, I got 'er done, but brother! I felt like I should've gotten paid. Ah, but the solution is its own reward. Heard that one before. Didn't buy it, just heard it. Par.

Geome 3:00 PM  

Like Rex, many solvers get pissed when they haven't heard of a word before. Many times I get the right answer from crosses and then look it up and expand my knowledge base. I like it.
Stop kvetching about kvass!

Geome 3:15 PM  

MTV Desi is a digital platform from MTV that targeted Desis in the United States, as the name implies. The network features various styles of music such as electronic tabla music and English-Gujarati hip-hop, interspersed with Bollywood videos. It also broadcasts brief documentary clips profiling Desis/famous Indians in music, comic skits about South-Asian American generational conflicts, interviews with bi-cultural artists and Desi house parties, live performances and animated series. It launched as a cable network on July 2005 and was shut down in 2007. It was relaunched as a digital platform in 2012.
See? Now you know...

Rick J 10:39 AM  

SUMMER? REALLY. I'm so glad someone mentioned it? And I assume that Desi refers to Arnaz?

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