Hit TV show created by Donald Glover / SUN 9-5-21 / Advocate for the better treatment of elves in Harry Potter / Brand that stylizes its name with lowercase second letter / Gangsta Lovin rapper 2002 / Set of rules popularized by How I Met Your Mother / Plant family that jasmine and lilac are part of / Encrypted URL component

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Constructor: Grant Thackray

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly harder)

THEME: "Go Up In Smoke" — theme answers RISE FROM / THE ASHES (50A: With 97-Across, emerge reborn ... or what the ends of five Across answers in this puzzle do?); that is, at some point, they just head north (i.e. they "rise" "up"), while the Across answer itself continues on with the letters "ASH" (leaving you with a totally unclued answer in every case, huzzah):

Theme answers:
  • JOHNNY C(ARSON) (33A: 30-year host of late-night TV) / JOHNNY CASH
  • UNLE(ADED) (31A: Like gasoline nowadays) / UNLEASH
  • REH(ABCENTER) (74A: Addiction treatment locale) / REHASH
  • TALK STR(AIGHT) (111A: Be completely candid) / TALKS TRASH
  • HOGW(ARTS HOUSE) (114A: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw) / HOGWASH
Word of the Day: ARSÈNE Lupin (54D: Detective Lupin) —

Arsène Lupin (French pronunciation: ​[aʁsɛn lypɛ̃]) is a fictional gentleman thief and master of disguise created in 1905 by French writer Maurice Leblanc. He was originally called Arsène Lopin, until a local politician of the same name protested. The character was first introduced in a series of short stories serialised in the magazine Je sais tout. The first story, "The Arrest of Arsène Lupin", was published on 15 July 1905.

Lupin was featured in 17 novels and 39 novellas by Leblanc, with the novellas or short stories collected into book form for a total of 24 books. The number becomes 25 if the 1923 novel The Secret Tomb is counted: Lupin does not appear in it, but the main character Dorothée solves one of Arsène Lupin's four fabulous secrets.

The character has also appeared in a number of books from other writers as well as numerous film, television, stage play, as well as comic book adaptations. Five authorised sequels were written in the 1970s by the celebrated mystery writing team of Boileau-Narcejac. (wikipedia)

• • •

Truly disappointing. Conceptually weak, and muddled in the execution. How in the world do you manage to have your first "up in smoke" bit be ARSON (!?) and then ... then somehow that's just *coincidence*!?! ARSON, which involves burning, which involves smoke ... is in no way related to the theme. Not at all. When I realized that, this puzzle was Over for me. Also, *in the same theme answer* your unclued answer (the one that contains ASH) is somehow *also* a "late-night TV" host, just like JOHNNY C(ARSON)!?!?!?! OK, maybe JOHNNY CASH's show didn't technically air in "late-night," but he definitely hosted a night-time show for two seasons. It's just ... it's all so confusing and dumb. Again, I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when the "Up in Smoke" part of UNLE(ADED) spelled *nothing*! After the first answer gave me ARSON going up, I thought "interesting." Then the next answer gave me ... ADED???? That's not even a word. Just gibberish. Gibberish up, gibberish down, gibberish. So much gibberish that the solve actually went slow. When you have to go slow for gibberish, wow, that is not an optimal solving experience. Plus, all those unclued ASH-ending Acrosses ... just sitting there ... what a mess. The title is "Go Up In Smoke"—I expect the part that "goes up" to have something to do with "smoke." Rising from the ASHes is not sufficient. It's dull. You know every themer is going to end in ASH. How is any of this fun??? And it's weirdly extra-wide!?!?! (22 instead of 21). It's all so broken and pointless and, again, the word of the day: disappointing. 

CRYER *and* CRIER? Abutting one another? Come on. And I get that Will was on "How I Met Your Mother" once so maybe keeping the memory of that show alive is important to him, but BROCODE? As fill? Barf (99D: Set of rules popularized by "How I Met Your Mother"). JK Rowling is the world's most popular "don't call me transphobic" transphobe, so sure, why not a double dose of her work to brighten up the day (HERMIONE, that HOGW(ARTS HOUSE) baloney)? Televangelist (and prosperity gospel huckster) Joel OSTEEN? More yuck (40A: Televangelist Joel). DISCI???? DISC-eeeeeeeee????? Oof. There is no air in this puzzle, let alone a bright spot. Even SEAT ANGLE, which is at least original, is like "eh.... OK, I guess that's a thing." I just keep looking at this grid and seeing things like RETNECBA (30D) and wondering ... just why? REECHO?! Bad enough on its own, but when you've already got REHASH and RECOILS in the grid, bah. SGS? ELROY'S? LDRS? AT ONE'S ELBOW? AROAR and AREAR? A Muppet named after food poisoning!?!?!? The only happiness I had was in remembering ARSÈNE Lupin, a detective I've just started getting into. I just bought the "ARSÈNE Lupin, Gentleman-Thief" while I was in Minnesota. I was prompted to do that by the popular Netflix series "Lupin," which I just started watching, and I was prompted to watch *that* by a recent New Yorker article about the show's star, Omar Sy. Or should I say, OMAR SY (6). His name begs to be engridded. He's "literally the second-most popular man in France." Exceedingly charming. Anyway, thinking about the detective and the show and the New Yorker article is all infinitely more pleasing than thinking about this puzzle. Off to read old-timey crime fiction. Good day.

Oh, one last thing. If you enjoy good crosswords and hate Texas's backwards new abortion law (and I'm guessing a lot of you fall into the overlap of that particular Venn diagram), then you will probably want to get in on the reboot of "These Puzzles Fund Abortion," a puzzle pack (put together by the wonderful and indefatigable Rachel Fabi) that raised $35,000 for the Baltimore Abortion Fund earlier this year that is now being used to raise funds for various Texas abortion funds. It's easy. You donate at least $10 to a Texas abortion fund (or two or three...), email your receipt to Rachel (at the address provided on this information page), and get a zip file chock full o' great crosswords. New features have since been added to the original puzzle pack. Stretch goals have been met and so new puzzles have been added, plus every donor gets entered into a contest to have a custom crossword puzzle made just for them. Here's all the info you need (in embedded tweet form!):

I'm so proud of Rachel and the constructors and everyone else who worked on this tremendously successful Abortion Rights puzzle project. Please support it.  

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. thanks to Renée Loth for her very kind words about me in the August 27 edition of the Boston Globe (paywall):

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

Third day in a row where my solve time was waaaay above my average. This is a good thing.
Also, who needs actual words, when you can just use a "-" and a string of nonsense?

I like a convoluted theme as much as the next bozo,
but there are whatses to nit:

NOSRA: ARSON spelled backwards. Coincidence with all the ASHES in the grid?

DEDA: anagram (Hi, @Z!) of DEAD, which you have to be to RISE FROM said ASHES. Or wish you were if this theme eluded you like it did me until JOHNNYCARSON/CASH

RETNECBA : anagram of CABERNET - lovely to sip by the fire

ESUOHSTRAR: obvious as is. Isn't it?
THGIA: anagram of AIGHT. AIGHT?

All that said, it was a clever theme done many times before, but I believe it's been accomplished with making sense in all directions, no? I'll leave that to the experts to know.
Although the literal RISing FROM THE ASH(ES) was a nice extra touch, so it was a little fun once I grokked it.

And the fill? Don't mean to be shrill, but the no-frills thrill-less fill was a swill pill.
IMHO, mostly because of cutesy clueage trying too hard to be Oh ho ho so funny! (Looking at you, "Lead-off selection" and "The 'e' in Genoa").
Why do we still refer to it as "lead"anyway? Not a complaint, just curious.

CRIER next to CRYER? Is that supposed to be a cute "feature" or lazy-ass editing? Bet I know what some think. 😉

DISCI??? Granted they are not exactly the final arbiters, but while watching the Olympics and Paralympics, if I ever heard the plural of discus (discuses) uttered at al, it sure as hell and high water wasn't DISCI.
Here, let me impress you with my brainpower: Look at me! I see a PLETHORA of DISCII!

Gave me a workout for all the wrong reasons, but whatever.



EdFromHackensack 12:09 AM  

totally agree, rex. I got the ARSON bit first. so I figured... OK cute, it has to do with fire. Then I got _ _ _ _ HOUSE and figured it was fireHOUSE, so I put that in, in pen. When I unwound it , it ended up to be ARTSHOUSE (part of HOGWARTSHOUSE) and I scratched my head for a good bit wondering what an artshouse had to do with fire. Was there a big fire in some museum I didnt know about? really frustrated with this one.

jae 12:12 AM  

Top and bottom thirds easy-medium, middle third tough. Clever and tricky and misleading when the first theme answer spelled @Rex ARSON going up. Wasted more than a few nanoseconds trying to make the other theme answer work the same way.

Liked it slightly more than @Rex did but was definitely irritated.

Cyclist227 12:16 AM  

Nothing pleaurable at all. Agree wholeheartedly with Rex. The fill was awful.

Robert Berardi 1:04 AM  

What Rex said, all of it.

Plus: -ade is a suffix, but ADES is not a word. Just try using it in a sentence.

Vytas 1:16 AM  

Fastest time for a Sunday in a few months. I found the theme a bit more amusing and interesting than Rex did, but agree regarding the rest of the fill. Once I had the theme figured out, no more smiles were had.

CRYER crossing CRIER made me cringe a bit, and I need to stop starting EMENDS with an A!

Ken Freeland 1:28 AM  

Agree 100% with Rex's assessment... This theme was too clever by half.

Roth 2:34 AM  

I stopped. Just stopped. Nonsense theme, and way too many TV-based and Harry Potter (a sort of written TV) clues. DISCI actually was a relief: straightforward, and a real word, at least to those of us who studied Latin.

chefwen 3:39 AM  

Got it done, but I have no idea how. Confusing as hell. Had to go to Crossword Fiend to have it explained (Rex wasn’t up yet).

I usually love a big Sunday puzzle, but this one just gave me a headache.

geoff 3:42 AM  

Arsène LUPIN is not a detective, he's a thief. How is that clue acceptable??

Anonymous 4:16 AM  

Didn't even try to finish this one and hit the 'Reveal Puzzle' button put me out of my misery, not due to it being too challenging, but because of the sheer awfulness. Disappointing in every way, infuriating in a few others, and just shocking (though increasingly less so) that the flagship puzzle of the flagship publication allows a turd sandwich like this to see light of day.

Joyless and embarrassing.

Anonymous 4:31 AM  

Will someone please explain the "e" in Genoa answer???? (And sorry, but I still can't figure out how to post other than as "anonymous ")

geoff 4:54 AM  

"E" means "and" in Italian...

Loren Muse Smith 4:57 AM  

I’m stunned at the reaction to this. The aha moment for me was the biggest one I’ve had in quite a while. It was visceral, an adrenaline rush because I had been so flummoxed. That I sat there wondering how I missed that JOHNNY CASH had been a late-night talk show host for 30 years. . . hah, I tipped my hat to Grant in a ya got me kind of way. The realization that the themers turned up out of the ASHES alone was well worth the price of admission.

Such was my delight that I just shrugged when I realized that ARSON was a coincidence. It absolutely did Not have me re-evaluating my feelings toward the puzzle. And the full acrosses that end in ASH are real expressions. Never occurred to me to go back and hate the puzzle for the nonsensical downs since they’re supposed to be read bottom up and I’m the ever-obedient solver.

I feel like someone who’s just enjoyed the hell out of a movie only to find out that I’m supposed to hate it because it’s fraught with stuff I never even noticed. I refuse to feel dumb, and I refuse to say I’m a cheap date. The latter kind of implies an admission that the fare is indeed sub-par. My only measure of a puzzle’s worth is the effect it has on my mood. I’ll say again that solving this brightened my day. I won’t detract from your hatery; just as I am the boss the source of my pleasure, so are you yours. I’m just surprised is what I’m saying.

BROCODE is a fun word. I kept reading and rereading Rex’s take on that, not getting it. I guess what it represents is sexist and chauvinist and hence should be avoided? I never saw How I Met Your Mother, so I’ll have to look into this so I can feel guilty for hating the term. I think I just love the word itself and all the possible spin-offs: beaucode (proper boyfriend behavior), nocode (safe word), whoacode (step before nocode), bromowed (manscaped), blowcode . . . ok I’ll stop.

I get that certain words evoke certain icky feelings in certain solvers. And I get that we’re allowed to prefer not seeing them. There is quite a bit of alcoholism among my family and friends, so all the cutesy terms for drunks are a downer for me, but they are part of the language, and crosswords are language. . . these judgments do cross into a kind of Mapplethorpian dilemma, I guess.

Oh, and the only thing that supplied Rex with happiness this morning, ARSENE, was the only thing that made me feel embarrassed for Grant that he had to use. Didn’t know it, never seen it.

@Anonymous 4:31am – The way they say and in Italy is just e. So our spaghetti and meatballs is their spaghetti e polpette. Maybe @Z can tell you how to un-anonymousize yourself. I usually ignore anonymous posts because my time is so limited and because so many are cowardly and nasty. I really appreciate that you’re wanting to step forward a little.

SPELLCASTER – remember all those spam posts we used to get pre-moderator age?

I kept wondering of that L in colonel is SILENT or just misunderstood. If it were truly SILENT, we’d be saying /koo * nul/ Sanders.

“Toenail” before LAWSUIT, thinking who has time to file toenails? I mean, I guess pedicurists do. Been so long since I could afford one, I’ve forgotten.

The inner 13-year-old boy in me can’t help but see ASSIST in the spirit of behaviorist, nutritionist, druggist. Hah. A plastic surgeon could be a reformist. A gastroenterology pro could be colonist.

Grant. My man. I’m exhausted, daunted, apprehensive after my first few days navigating my new school situation. I’m filled with dread for next week when we start playing for keeps as regards all the online platforms I need to have down pat. This puzzle transformed my mood from a buzzard to a phoenix. Thanks so much.

geoff 5:17 AM  

Or rather, ARSÈNE Lupin is not a detective.

Anonymous 5:34 AM  

To call this feces is an insult.

To feces.

chance2travel 5:35 AM  

If I weren't all about keeping my streak of solves, I would have just started revealing answers. This was a slog. And the fact that the end of 33A spelled ARSON made me very disappointed the rest did not spell anything as they went up in smoke. Honestly, "rise from the ashes" should have been the title instead. Then it can be ripped out of the grid.

Actually struggled the most with the NW, where I really wanted "mimic" or "aping" for 1A.

Gonna leave this one short, and go fill out my UK passenger locator form for my connection on tomorrow's return flight to the US so I can go explore Venice some more on my last day.

Ciao, ciao!

Anonymous 6:02 AM  

Not a great sign for this puzzle that there was enough wrong with it to fill a post without even getting to the perpetuation of implicit racism from NOMSG. Right atop CHINA no less.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

Whew, this was a Puzzle. Working to crack the theme, crack vague clues, crack into some sections that seemed impenetrable. I did my share of puttering, and my share of something that felt like brain burpees. But crosses begat answers, and answers tent-poled more answers, and when the theme said hello, a rapid endgame ensued. Still, it took a seemingly long time – an era, perhaps – before the tent-poling began. That long time? That’s what I live for in puzzles.

Three days of magnificent rub – fittingly leading into Labor Day -- and thank you for CAPping it off so nicely, Grant, even making me laugh with [What snakes grow as they age] for LONGER. Your notes reveal that you put much work into this puzzle, and it paid off. This final product is a gem.

Grouch 6:40 AM  

I don't know whether to envy people who like awful puzzles or to be annoyed. Leaning toward the latter.

TTrimble 6:49 AM  

Did it not seem like a lot of PPP? I'll let someone else do the count; I'm exhausted. The panoply of PPP did not align with my strengths, no sir.

I agree with Rex wholeheartedly this time. DISCI. I like to see Latin about as much as anyone around here, but who calls them that. Has any broadcaster in the history of televised Olympics ever called them that? LDRS? Are you frickin' kidding me? What a lot of HOGWASH. Who is ESSIE? I've heard of Estee, but never ESSIE. NORELCO. Come on, man. ELROY'S. I cherish memories of cartoons as much as anyone around here, but this is a very weak entry, and who actually remembers that particular cartoon?

HTTPS may indicate that encryption is taking place, but it is not itself an encrypted component. Even taking Joaquin's Dictum into account, that is one botched clue.

AREAR and AROAR -- blrf.

The "e" in Genoa, oh I get it now. Ha. Good one.

So much went wrong for me in this puzzle, and the payoff so meager, that I'm actually now turning to Sam Ezersky for succor. We'll see how that goes.

Loren Muse Smith 6:57 AM  

@M&A - primo RuntPuz #3759 from yesterday! Took me forever to get 8D. Considering today's fare, it was serendipitous!

Colin 7:03 AM  

I liked this better than most. Never even saw the ARSON thing, just saw JOHNNYCARSON rising up from the ASHes. (IMO, no one can ever replace Johnny, and I enjoy watching reruns now and again.)

TRIODE warmed my heart, as I am a ham radio operator. Back in the day, a Heathkit SB-101 and SB-102 used to warm the shack with its triodes and other tubes.

Like others, I felt there were more missteps than typical. Two longer answers not linked to the theme (24A, 123A) can be confusing. Yeah, ATONESELBOW is an unusual phrase. REECHO is a stretch. DISCI... Don't think any sportscaster has ever used this plural form, unless they're broadcasting from the Forum. And isn't JCREW bankrupt? Finally, I disagree that one might leave a SCAR in the operating room (128A). Oh, I understand that one might say, "Look at my scar from my appendix surgery" to all the visitors the next day, but true scar tissue forms later. You have a closed, fresh wound when leaving the OR.

It was nice to see some positivity, coming from LMS and Lewis especially. Thank you, Grant, for a challenging solve.

Time to watch some more UPSETs at the US Open.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

Welcome back Rex. I wondered where the curmudgeon had gone.

mooretep 7:09 AM  

I am with @LMS & @Lewis on this puzzle.

Found the puzzle to be delightful and challenging.
Thank you Grant for a Sunday solve that engaged my synapses.

Many of the commenters are being crossword snobs IMO.
An echo chamber of malcontents.

Son Volt 7:17 AM  

Kiddie lit, RE ECHO, the aforementioned DISCI, a single BUC and a BIC for that matter - such sapient fill. For more fun let’s put REHAB CENTER dead nuts in the middle. Did this puzzle have a theme?

A holiday weekend Sunday should not have had to experience this.

OffTheGrid 7:18 AM  

Piling on. In addition to having nonsense entries without clues(DEDA, e.g.) and sensible answers that don't match the clue(Like gasoline nowadays/UNLEASHED, e.g.), two of the "ASH" theme answers don't even have the ASH sound. One is EASH and one is WASH.

IMC*O, the constructor had the DNF today.


KenScudder 7:25 AM  

Shocked Rex didn't complain about ELDERLAW and LAWSUIT in the same grid. Just sloppy.

bocamp 7:52 AM  

Thx Grant for an excellent Sun. creation! :)

Tough solve.

Spent some extra time before filling in the final cell and got this one right, unlike my faux pas the last two days. :)

Didn't know ESSIE or GTI, but 'I' seemed the right choice. Blanked on SGS, but SHAG RUGS was a gimme.

Loving the clever cluing recently. Really stretching the 'muscle' between the ears. 🧠

Very much enjoyed this one! :)

@TTrimble (6:31 PM yd)

Ty for your kind words; I hope so. 🤞

👍 for 0 yd

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

ncmathsadist 7:54 AM  

a dreadful slog after I deduced the theme.

TTrimble 7:56 AM  

Great comments last night responding to stuff I wrote, among them ones by @stephanie, @Z, and @CDilly52. I'd like to respond to all three, but for now I'll respond to @stephanie.

At my institution, they are using AI software by McGraw-Hill called ALEKS, where the aim is to teach students high-school level math (i.e., math prior to calculus) through the software. The material is sliced and diced into 400-some individual topics, and each student is led through the material on a path that is catered to them, based on an initial and periodic "knowledge checks". Each new topic is accompanied by an explanation, and the student is then presented with problems to work through to demonstrate mastery of the given topic. They are all sitting at computers and working through their "knowledge paths". (I'm actually currently one of the instructors for this set-up. Mainly I walk around and put myself at their disposal, trying to be as helpful as I can, and stick my face in their business to see how they are doing.)

Of course the student cannot query the program, and really the program can only repeat what it said before -- it doesn't have alternative explanations to hand. So the program sounds like it can do no worse than your HS teacher who could only repeat what she said before, and maybe, probably, it does some things better, such as have an idea where each student is at and what they are ready to learn next.

A good, experienced teacher will always have to hand (AT their ELBOWS?) a number of different ways of presenting material. Teachers who are trying their best are always flinging different things at the wall to see what sticks for different students. Through that accumulated experience, the good teachers acquire a lot of flexibility. But the chances of that are curtailed severely if they don't have a spacious command that can put the subject into perspective.

I know a lot of really good parents in my town, who are hands-on and attentive to their children's education, like your dad. And I imagine how hard it is when those kids get to a point in their math education where for the most part, their parents can no longer follow and be of direct help.

Maybe it wouldn't be bad if HS math teachers had to keep doing math themselves as part of ongoing professional development. Take some non-Euclidean geometry or some number theory, say. Relive what it's like to be a student, and to be confused, and to fight through their confusion to clarity. Grow their knowledge and understanding. Don't like the heat? Get out of the kitchen! You're probably in the wrong business.

Joe R. 8:05 AM  

Agree with Rex, so many problems with this puzzle. In addition to the things he already pointed out, I’d also like to throw some hate at the bullshit clue for OREO. They are not thought to be stamped with the symbol of the Knights Templar, except by dangerous conspiracy lunatics. We should not be glorifying these anti-reality menaces with a clue in the NYTXW.

Marlon Chance 8:10 AM  

Please stop referring to Arsène Lupin as a detective. He is a « Gentleman Cambrioleur « - a Gentleman Thief. Is Batman an inspector at the Gotham City Police Department?

Ω 8:19 AM  

Having always preferred solving a print copy, I don’t start in the NW corner, I always start where I get my first easy across answer as I read down the list of clues. This is my pattern even when solving digitally. Hence, my first answer in, ADES, led me to having UNLEASH(DED) as my first theme answer. DEDA ain’t nothing, so I never had the fire-related expectation, and so never even noticed ARSON until Rex pointed it out, and so liked the puzzle more than Rex.

I hate titles. Rex and others claim to like them because they remove the need for a revealer. Bah! Just a big ass spoiler right there before you even start the puzzle. “Up” in smoke and “-“ clues and it took a nanoth of a nanosecond to figure out that answers were turning upward. The “word ending in SH” took two themers to suggest the pattern. All that was left for the pretty good revealer was to point out it wasn’t just SH but original words that end in ASH. This is a nice touch because the ending of the across answers are no longer “unclued.” This would have been more entertaining and more of a challenge without the Title, though.

I do not typically count PPP on Sundays. It’s a double puzzle and so takes more time to count than I’m usually willing to devote. It felt to me about NYTX typical, but I learned long ago that when it’s in your wheelhouse you are less likely to notice how much of it there is. It does raise one question. Is JOHNNY CASH(RSON) count as one or two PPP answers?

@LMS - I was too busy noticing Shortz catching a stray to ponder much about why Rex hates BROCODE. I’m with you that the whole xxxCODE thing is entertaining wordplay fun. I do associate BROCODE with toxic masculinity amongst twentysomethings, so I’m guessing that Rex may be more sensitive to the term since he spends so much time amongst people of that ilk. Personally OSTEEN is much worse. I don’t need my Sunday mornings ruined by slimy snake-oil salesmen.

CRYER/CRIER - bug or feature? So many seemed bothered by this, while I was amused. Of course, it echoes an Elvis Costello song and that always makes me happy. Other boys use the splendor of their trembling lip / They're so teddy bear tender and tragically hip Zing! (Anyone know if the band took their name from this song?)

@4:31 - Between the comment box and the “publish your comment” button you should see three options. Pick “Name/URL” and you can type in your preferred nom de blog. Pick “google account” and it should ask you to sign in to your google account, and you will then appear in blue. Be aware, though, that you should copy your comment before doing this, as you may lose it during the sign-in process. Once signed in your browser should remember that you are signed in, so you should only need to do it once.

pmdm 8:26 AM  

While I did not fall in love with the puzzle, I certainly did not react with the hate most of those who already posted here did. I very much agree with LMS. I found the "turn" trick easy to figure out, but I only figured out the second part of the theme when solving the last theme entry. Since the horizontal component of the theme answers are uniformly completed with the same three letters that always result in an entry that could have been clued, providing such a clue would only have made the puzzle too simple to solve. This seems to have annoyed a lot of solvers. Perhaps it is an issue of not being able to roll with the punches. Whatever. Disliking the puzzle is valid, Criticizing the theme? I have my doubts.

Recently, there seemed to me a lot of posts concerning Sharp's ignoring of the comments. Let's try to summarize this for all to consider. Mike claims not to read the comments at present. But if he is one of those monitors who reads the comments before they appear, he must read at least some of the comments. In the end, it matters not why he ignores the comments. Too much time to read and ponder them all? Displeasure at negative criticism (and there's enough of that, correct or incorrect)? Fact is, he does publicize how to send him messages that he will (eventually) read and respond to. So understand this. If he seems to make a mistake when posting, if you want to alert him to the problem, you have to use another method to contact him than simply posting a comment. But please be selective. If he becomes inundated with garbage, I could see that going away.

By the way, if you want to post using a name other than Anonymous, after composing your comment, go to the area below the comment composition box (called Choose an identity). Click on the Name/URL option which will move the black circle to that option. Enter any name you wnat in the Name box. Voila! Your comment will appear under whatever name you choose. Simple.

Glen Laker 8:33 AM  

When we were kids, we drank ADES, both lemon and lime, on hot summer days. Now we drink beers.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

I gave up. I do crossword puzzles for fun. This was not fun. It was a slog and made my brain hurt.

Mark 8:47 AM  

At first I thought the JOHNNY CASH was a reference to "Ring of Fire," from the ashes of which ARSON came, upside down. This is great, I thought! But then pfft. I wouldn't be surprised if all that was in fact intended for the first theme area, but then he just gave up on the others. It would have been hard, sure, but showing us what might have been just made what was all the more disappointing.

Richard Stanford 8:47 AM  

I got the themer early on then went back and took care of most of the theme questions but somehow missed until this write up that the “extra letters” were all ASH. How does my brain work again?

Wanted ATmyELBOW but of course that was too short and ONES was so awkward it didn’t even occur to me for too long.

SGS is a bit much. SGTS would be the acceptable abbreviation here wouldn’t it (I even had SGT for a while)? Flipped it chasing down the win at the end but ARtENE looked good to me as a French name.

Took me forever to see EXHALE as well even though I wanted breathe but it didn’t fit. Sigh.

mmorgan 8:54 AM  

Not easy for me -- got most of it but the last 20% or so was quite sloggy. I got the "rising" part, but how did I miss that all the replaced endings were ASH??? Overall, notta lotta fun. Not no fun, but notta lotta. Maybe it's just a grey chilly cloudy crummy day.

amyyanni 8:56 AM  

Not going to go down as a favorite but it was a challenge. Glad to have a Sunday puzzle on a gorgeous day; now very happy to put it behind me...and Coco, my cat is happy now, as she's been letting me know it's past her breakfast time. (Freedom Park was wonderful yesterday.)

Brainpan 9:01 AM  

I couldn't wait to read all the reasons Rex claimed to hate this puzzle after it clued a Cheney rather than an Obama or a Clinton.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

Put me in the camp of those who, after ARSON, were expecting A SLEW OF fire-related words to be the words going up. So that when I got to what was for me the next theme word going up, I was truly ready to Google ABCENTER to find out what it meant and why I didn't know it. But as all the others came in, I gave up and realized it wasn't going to happen.

Another problem: To center the things going up in smoke over the ASH, they have to rise up from the "S" and not the "A".

Nevertheless, the solve for me proved crunchy and enjoyable. I don't think the conceit really works, but it worked well enough to provide pleasure. That's good enough for me.

I had DISCs before DISCI. My brain got tangled up in a TWIST at the SEAT ANGLE/TALK STRAIGHT section, I don't know why. YEESH to all the names. And having two Harry Potter clues is HOGWASH indeed! I wanted HOBARTS before HOGWARTS which shows how much I know. When HOGWARTS came in, I thought: "Oh, yes, that's what I meant!"

And yet it all made for quite an interesting morning.

mmorgan 9:04 AM  

I did really enjoy TRIODE having taught the history of radio and the role of Lee DeForest for many years.

jbh 9:09 AM  

I thought the puzzle was fun.

I understand Michael has to have something to write about -- hence, all the critiques.

For me, it's just a crossword puzzle. I liked that all the 'smoke' clues rose from the 'ash'es.

I just don't require as much puzzle 'perfection' as some of you.

Question: I got the answer to 76A -- Erasers -- but why is it correct?

Teedmn 9:14 AM  

This was a hard solve when solving randomly. It seemed really hard to get a toehold in the grid. And it took a long time before I realized that all of the re-directed themers would end in ASH.

My favorite is going from TALK STRAIGHT to TALKS TRASH. Too bad they couldn't all have done something similar.

This was fun, took about 10 minutes over my usual Sunday max time. Thanks, Grant.

kitshef 9:19 AM  

Seems like PHOENIX should have been worked in somehow. Or maybe, given the Harry Potter mini-theme, FAWKES.

DNF at ESteE/ERAtERS/GTE. Considering I drove a GTI for eight years, probably should have done better there, but ESSIE is unknown to me.

But man, this was hard. No … hard doesn’t cover it. Took probably twice as long as a normal Sunday. And that is with getting the trick early thanks to the peculiar revealer position at 50A.

Really, really clever puzzle, though. Brilliant in conception and execution.

albatross shell 9:22 AM  

I never quite get the complaints about the appearance of gibberish in the puzzle. You know its not nonsense because you have done the puzzle. Embarrassment that someone will ask you what's with all those nonsense letters you put in there? And you do not want to say "Oh those are half words spelled backwards because this puzzle has you reading up instead of down in some places.". I mean how embarrassing is that! Some aesthetic standard is the last refuge of a poor excuse. But we are all entitled to our poor excuses. So you got me there.

I thought the theme was nifty. I loved the up in smoke tip off and the rising from the ashes which definitely made the Potter clues more justified here...if you know some basic plot elements there. I did.

CRYER a name, next to CRIER an occupation is not a BFD.

Now that said I enjoyed some things. IRAISE with its misdirect clue. We've had it before. And SILENTL fooled me for a long time. I usually spot those clues now. Not today. In fact this one played like 4 Fri. Sat. Puzzles jammed together. A nightmare of a puzzle. So after taking forever to get the theme I worked on the theme answers and just looked other stuff up or peeked at the answers. Just drained the fun out of me. I've been getting pretty good at slogging through Sundays. But wheelhouse or a bad day or whatever. Zoomed through about 40-50% of this and an iron curtain came down. Any quadrant of this was playing harder than yesterday's puzzle. Some puzzles I can spend hours on and love them. This was not one of those. Just wasn't working for me.

So half with LMS, half with Rex.

Lisa puzzle lady 9:31 AM  

NYT uses the word ADE(S) all the time in crossword puzzles but won’t accept it as a Spelling Bee word! Drives me bananas.

Stephen Minehart 9:37 AM  

Count me among the outliers, I was entertained by the puzzle for about an hour. Only negative for me was the struggle to find my errors at the end - I was confident that ESTEE was a big name in nail polish, even though e-rater makes no sense. I must have proofread the puzzle five times before finding it.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Rarely do I feel mid-solve 'I hate this puzzle' and just want to quit. It did today. Totally agree with you, Rex. This feeling is beginning to occur more and more. With some answers, I felt like 'This is dumb. It can't be right.' And yet it was. They are truly just fill, the art in construction nowhere in evidence.

geoff 9:48 AM  

Thank you!

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

While I truly disliked this puzzle, it prompted Rex to share a video of The Monkees performing, which is always a great thing in my book!

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Utter garbage.

Shelley Fuld Nasso 9:59 AM  

This was miserable to solve. And JCREW is not a competitor of LL Bean!

rando 10:02 AM  

This puzzle was so bad I quit halfway through. I NEVER do that.

Austin's mom 10:04 AM  

Thank you @LMS as always for your unerring humanism.

CF 10:09 AM  

Ugh-tastic in my opinion. I did get a little giggle out of ERASERS for "Lead-off selections?", but on the whole that was thirty-six minutes not well spent.

Rich Glauber 10:22 AM  

Erasers get the (pencil) lead off of a piece of paper...

I thought it was a challenging and excellent puzzle, so I disagree with most of the people who comment. It took a while to figure out the trick, but once I did, there were quite a few great answers.

RooMonster 10:26 AM  

Hey All !
Writing before reading...
Didn't think it was as horrible as Rex did. Thought it was ambitious, although the Long backward-up-thingies make for odd letter combos, although although you aren't supposed to read them as Downs, but Ups. So sorta-kinda-maybe works. I do agree on Rex's "why is it 22 wide", however. Maybe because Grant had only the five Themers, and got stuck with an even- numbered one for the center? I'm sure he tried to come up with a sixth one, so that there wouldn't be a center one.

Nice construction, though. Props for that.

I don't get my knickers in a twist about people in the grid who violated something I care about. They may be assholes, but they are still Crossword fodder. We see IDI AMIN, CHE, OSAMA, ONO... (😁 on that last one)

Had a three letter/five word DNF. ESteE for ESSIE, which got me nonsensical ERAtERS (well, I suppose E RATERS could be a thing) and GTe (which is an appliance company, I think.) Also, ARSENu/AUGuR, because trying to sneak in an extra U for @M&A.

I did like how the Acrosses that "went up in smoke" made actual words in the slot instead of gibberish. Too bad couldn't somehow clue them accordingly. Maybe something along the lines of (33A) - 30-year host of late-night TV, clad in all black? - or somesuch.

Being 22 wide also takes away threes from either side. This particular grid would have had the first three rows be threes, as in 18, 23, 27 Across. If you know what I'm saying. Also their symmetric partners 120, 128, 132 A.

Anyway, that explanation is nothing compared to the math discussion YesterComments. Dang, my head still hurts from reading all that. (And I was pretty good at Math in High School. But not even close to the stuff y'all were talkin' 'bout.)

RETNEC BA (that's "See you later" in Ancient Sanskrit) (😂 for whoever said that originally a couple days ago)

One F (Hardly A SLEW OF)

Barbara S. 10:37 AM  

I’m with those (few) who liked the puzzle. Initially I found it surprisingly hard for a Sunday, and was bouncing around all over the place getting little HAVENs of unconnected answers. I finally landed on 114A and recognized those names as HOGWARTS’ HOUSES. That answer didn’t seem to fit, but then I realized it connected to one of those “-“ downs, and figured it out. Hand up for not noticing ARSON in the JOHNNY CARSON answer, which was among the last theme answers to fall as I worked my way back up the grid.

I started the solve with ”mimic” at 1A, which wasn’t a very good answer for “impersonate” but neither was ACT AS, I didn’t think, which seems more like “perform the duties of.” I made up a word at 6A, “knole” (for GNARL), which I think was a hybrid of “knot” and “burl” with an added E for good measure. GNARL as a noun was a revelation. At the very end I got hung up on the ESSIE, ERASERS, GTI interlock (hi @kitshef). I had ESteE, which gave me ERAtERS and GTe. Now I don’t know from cars, but ERAtERS couldn’t possibly be right, even though I was painfully slow to grasp the “lead-off selections?” joke (@jbh, 9:09, think pencils).

LIE TO, SING TO and AIM TO are a trio I don’t mind, but others will dislike. SING TO gave me this (thanks to T.S. Eliot):

“Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.”

I liked the nudity: STRIP and STARK. MIDACT and AGEWORN were unusual. Interesting that dominoes were invented in CHINA, given the Domino Theory invoked in the 1950s and 60s concerning SE Asia. “Abaft” before AREAR. Alternate clue for SEATANGLE: “Kelp forest after a hurricane.” Saw “Volta River” and thought “Volga,” so was very surprised when GHANA was the right answer! PAINLESS made me think of this.

Carola 10:44 AM  

Very cool. I especially liked how JOHNNY CASH turned into JOHNNY CARSON, and TRASH TALK into STRAIGHT TALK, and I thought with a smile of those who get annoyed at Harry Potter clues (like the elf advocate) when HOGWARTS showed its connection with HOGWASH. And I thought the reveal was witty and creative: literally five ASHes, from which the transformed answers rise. Otherwise - a challenging grid, always welcome on a Sunday.

@Grant Thackray, I thought this was terrific. Thank you.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Banging the drum for money to kill unborn children? Wow. Surely that doesn’t pass the breakfast test.

Graphics Kat 10:53 AM  

Why is I RAISE (43D) ascribed to pot growers in particular? Wouldn't it apply to anyone raising anything (including children)?

bocamp 10:56 AM  

Had a similar reaction to the ARSON ADED conundrum as Rex, but ultimately a much different take on the 'smokescreen'. Figured Grant had purposely done this to throw us off the track; it worked beautifully.

pg -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Frustrated with this one, especially the "- clues" as I thought it was against the "crossword rules" to have any answer that wasn't a real word or at least the semblance of one. Seems like cheating on the constructer's part to me.

EdFromHackensack 11:14 AM  

I am reading the comments and they seem harsh . I think if ARSON was not in the puzzle I would have like it a lot better. It was a major misdirect for me, theme-wise. But, really it was a brilliant construction and inherent in the twist are the resultant half-words and backwards nonsense. But we, as crossword nuts, should be used to this kind of stuff and not gripe about it. I asked my wife for ONE thing... the nail polish one. I told her - 5 letters, begins and ends with an E. She said ESteE - seemed reasonable since Estee Lauder is in the puzzle all the time, though for the life of me I did not know what an ERAtER was. Once she gets out of bed, she’s going to hear it from me.. :)

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Question for W.S. Was this really the best trick puzzle available for today? If I had a voice I would advance the idea of converting Sunday puzzles to themeless. The few themeless Sundays we see are far superior to most of the TRASH we've been getting lately. Maybe the trick well has dried up.

Ann Hedonia 11:28 AM  

The constructor must be an old. I'm surprised that some people don't seem to know who Johnny Carson was. gone but forgotten?

Horrible puzzle. Hated it!

thefogman 11:33 AM  

A bit tougher than usual for a Saturday for me. I was about to rate this one as being pretty good but then I read Rex’s critique. He’s right. This is supposed to be the NYTXW dammit. It can and should be way better than this. The editor is letting a lot of sub-par stuff go to print lately. Why do other publications (like The New Yorker magazine) consistently have higher-quality puzzles? There’s really no excuse. The NYT gets hundreds of submissions each and every week. Sorry, but Will Shortz needs to up his game.

Does anybody remember when Sundays were fun?

Does anybody remember laughter?


Unknown 11:35 AM  

Poker game. Raise in "I see your dime and raise you a quarter" and the pot grows larger

albatross shell 11:38 AM  

@graphicscat 1053
The clue is a trick. Think pot in poker. The raiser increases the pot. He says I RAISE.

Visho 11:40 AM  

Another in voice in favor of this difficult puzzle. Loved the challenge. Agree about "crossword snobs."

JD 11:48 AM  

I don't blame the puzzle for my failure to finish, we just had a failure to communicate. I knew that when I got to Disci. Ldrs. clinched it. I can't imagine when you'd abbreviate leader. Or say At One's Elbow? What would be the situation there?

To my mind, Talk Trash doesn't having anything to do with being Completely Candid. It's an insult and frequently not even not true. I'm thinking of the time Larry Bird told Robert Reid, "You shoulda stayed in preaching."

There's no Lead in Pencils. It's graphite.

This whole thing was just a different use of language. Pot Grower was great though.

@Barbara, I love T.S., thank you.

Jyqm 11:57 AM  

I didn't particularly care for this puzzle for all the same reasons Rex outlines in his first paragraph, but once I filled in BROCODE and OSTEEN I knew I would get a good laugh out of Rex's predictably furious gnashing of teeth. I'm even more delighted to learn that the most popular book series of the past half a century, beloved by damn near everyone I know under 30 (and fair number of people older than 30, too), is apparently also to be avoided now because the author happens to be kind of a shithead.

Has CTHULHU ever shown up in a grid? I really don't want to miss Rex's conniption next time that happens.

Tom T 12:09 PM  

Either didn't check out or didn't remember the title, which led me to the too hasty decision that the paired revealer clues would be "RISE FROM THE grave." That took a while to untangle.

I can't figure out why some U.N. people are SGS?

Mikey from El Prado 12:09 PM  

Everything that Rex said and more.

I always do Sundays pen to paper (only day for that). Today was an inky mess of rewrites, but muddled through to completion.

To add insult to injury, Harry Potter in the theme makes me ill. And a double dose of that garbage. I'm sorry to all you HP/JKR fans, but those books are lousy compared to so many other children's books and series. Like fast food is to fine dining. So, the less I see that dreck in crosswords the better.

Unknown 12:12 PM  

I agree with Visho

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

"Lead-off selections?" The 'question mark' indicates the clue is a play on words. An eraser is what you would select to get (pencil) lead off of something.

Sandy McCroskey 12:13 PM  

I am very disappointed to find that no one else here has pointed out the grievous error about Vincent van Gogh, leaving it up to me. After he impetuously slashed away a good part of one earlobe, (I forget which) Vincent still had two perfectly good ears.

This was the first thing I hated about this puzzle. Next came all the three-letter answers (even two letters pluralized!). But then I got the theme… What a pile of dreck.

Beezer 12:21 PM  

@LMS, you perfectly captured my feelings when I finished the puzzle and read Rex. I greatly enjoyed the AHA moments in the puzzle, then I read Rex and it was such a downer to me. I didn’t catch the ARSON probably because I ignored the puzzle’s name and my “aha” was “rise up from ash.”

I confess I still do not know what SGS means (I’ll look it up folks) and I agree with @Shelley that JCREW is NOT a competitor of LLBean but hey…I reluctantly accepted it AND it did not ruin my day.

Learning about this ARSENE character makes me think I check it out. Gentleman Thief/Detective, whatever…oui, oui! I love shows about honorable “bad guys” (or ex-bad guys) like The Equalizer, Have Gun Will Travel,etc.

Michael Page 12:23 PM  

How in the world can NO MSG clued as “food packaging reassurance” be stretched into “racism”? If the clue had made a Chinese reference, maybe, but it is a frequent reassurance on food packaging, and the fact that it is common in Chinese food is just an irrelevant fact. Sometimes we get a little too sensitive. When I practiced law, I was frequently struck by people who felt that the term “Chinese wall” (for an ethical silting to avoid conflicts of interest) was racist. It wasn’t a reference to some cultural characteristic, it was a reference to the largest, most solid wall in the world, which is in China.

As to the puzzle, I was not as bothered by the theme as some, although the fact that the verticals didn’t read coherently downward, and sometimes but not always upward, is unsatisfying. But the sheer volume of bad fill, strained coinages, and flat-out errors, all noted above, was atrocious.

jb129 12:30 PM  

Since 10 AM I have been wondering why I can't get into this constructor's head.

Made a little teeny progress but not much

"Must be me?" I kept thinking??????

Then I came here to Rex.

I'll keep trying but not enjoying.

Wanna read about Monica Lewinsky in the paper edition of Sundays NYT. That;s gotta be more enjoyable.

Top 100 Golfer 12:45 PM  

Bad puzzle. many answers that don't make sense or are a stretch. SCAR was really bad. A scar is not something that is "left in an operating room." Maybe "left by an operating room." Or it is something you "get from" an operating room. The puzzle maker and editor are way off on this. Not up to the Times normal standards.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

A bit of a let down. At first, I thought “I love this theme” — especially based on the initial (Northwest) answers, but I couldn’t get over what you call the gibberish factor. I kept trying to find meaning in it … until finally I gave up and my expectations vanished in a puff of smoke. Given the number of wildfires raging at the moment, I also couldn’t help feeling that a crossword theme based on smoke was a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned. What next … a cutesy virus theme called “going viral?”

thefogman 12:47 PM  

To Tom T, Beezer and others, I also blanked on 66A SGS (Some U.N. officers, for short). But upon reflection I believe it’s short for Secretary Generals.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

@Joe R./8:05

what he said.

for some reason, poor education I suppose, but Lupin is always assoc. with Poe. why is that?

oldactor 12:52 PM  

It took me a l-o- n- g time but I really enjoyed it.

bertoray 12:56 PM  

Hehe...hehe...She said ASSIST.

Liz1508 1:07 PM  

I just added $50 to my donation because of this comment. TY and MYOB.

Liz1508 1:08 PM  


Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, phd 1:10 PM  

Wait. You mean Saint Nicholas is a real person? If not, how is he any more contemporary than Saint Patrick. This clue is ridiculous!

Aphid Larue 1:21 PM  

Fun puzzle, but dnf. I thought “I do code” might be appropriate for that show. Rules for acceptance of a proposal.

oceanjeremy 1:22 PM  

“Present day” as in “The day you get presents” as in “Christmas.”

One of the few clues that actually brought me pleasure today (I am childless by choice but still can’t resist Dad Humor).

Wanderlust 1:22 PM  

Huh? Spelling Bee words have to be at least four letters and they never ever use the letter “s” so neither ADE nor ADES could be a Spelling Bee word.

Wanderlust 1:27 PM  

Bromowed! One of your best.

Blue Stater 1:27 PM  

After reading OFL's annihilation of this incredible shambles, I came away glad my reaction to it wasn't just me. This is the worst Sunday puzzle I can recall in recent years (like the last 10). Its appearance should result in WS's dismissal, but I'm certain it won't. I've been on the edge of canceling my NYTXW subscription for many years; maybe this will do it.

oceanjeremy 1:31 PM  

Two things, and pretty much two things only, brought me pleasure in solving today’s puzzle:

1) I solved on paper with my fiancée, which is always a joy as I love doing anything with her and this is one of my favorite of our long-standing traditions.

2) We got ARSON early on and expected each theme Down answer to be a fire-related word in reverse. When we encountered the aforementioned gibberish over and over we sought out the theme revealer. It clicked and we corrected several clues we had entered wrongly. And I said “That means all these across theme answers are unclued, and Rex is definitely going to complain about that.” Then upon arriving at Rex’s blog, it’s literally the first complaint! In the theme description, no less, before you even get to the body of the review. This pleased me greatly (not least because I agree with Rex that unclued answers are an unfortunate thing that should be avoided). I’m grateful today for Rex’s consistency.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

St Nicholas is actually a little older than St. Patrick.
The man who's come to be known as that jolly old elf was born in 270. ST Patrick wasn't born for more than a century. 385 if you care.
Oh, they're real and they're spectacular.

Michael Page 1:41 PM  

Not “present” as in current, present as in gift.

oceanjeremy 1:43 PM  

To clarify, it is a component of a URL for an encrypted site. I see now your quibble. The site is encrypted, not the URL.

Nancy 2:02 PM  

I, too, had ERAtERS/EStEE. Unlike others, I left it in -- since ERASERS made no sense to me either. Now if the clue had been "lead-off selections" instead of "leadoff selections"... But it wasn't, and I'm not convinced that's so fair. So a DNF -- which I didn't bother to mention because there were many more interesting things to talk about.

@Barbara S -- Like you, I thought first of MIMIC at 1A. But I'm an inveterate checker, especially for a 1A clue, and there was no 3-letter "sounds at a sauna" beginning with "M". AHS was obvious and therefore I wrote in ACT AS without hesitation.

The most arcane clue for OREO (120A) I've ever seen, btw.

Matt 2:04 PM  

I strenuously object to "Leadoff selections?" (ERASERS), which did have been Lead-off, to make the orthographic pun work.

WestBay 2:04 PM  

Always love reading your take ... after reading Rex's.
This puzzle was a waste of 38:35 minutes of my life. I had answers and didn't even recognize them! Made me feel dense.

That other David 2:11 PM  

Thanks Sandy. Yes, van Gogh had two perfectly good ears after his break. No, Lupin was not a detective and Omar Sy's show is really great, as he generally is.

Hand up for hating the first answer not being followed in structure or intent. Arson and Ash were brilliant. The rest not. Far too much TV and "popular" stuff for me. Also the usual complaint about non-existent "abbreviations" made up for the convenience of crossword constructors. Ladders? Large Dangerous Rocket Ships? Some "crafting" company?

At least the UN has a Secretary General; pretty good misdirect on that as most would think of troops and not officials. Also nice clue on St. Nick. Oreo makes its obligatory appearance, of course, but oboe is missing. I pretty much hate anything to do with "Bro" coming from the mouths of super privileged children, but that's me I guess. Also I never once watched that TV show, but I did used to watch Doogie Howser.

And I loved the answer, "Hogwash" because it was such a good descriptor of the puzzle as a whole. Huzaah indeed.

Thanks for the page link, I've put it on my social media as well. The only good thing about SCOTUS saying it's just fine for Texas to pay vigilantes to do their unconstitutional dirty work is the opportunities it opens up for all the other States. For instance, here in NYS we could make a law allowing anybody to sue a person for blocking the entrance to women's health clinics. That'd be great! I'd also love to be able to pull over and ticket idiot drivers. Wow.

Let the floodgates of vigilantism once again open across our country! Brought to us by the Court which declared money to be speech, found an individual right in the commas of the 2nd amendment that all previous courts had missed, and ruled there's no such thing as racism in the good ol' US of A.

Matt 2:13 PM  

A sign of my pathology: when I read "Pandemic Crush" (a phrase new to me) my first thought was, how would you clue PANDEMIC RUSH? "Hurry up, Johnson and Johnson!" - "Moderna problem?" - "Lysol resupply result" ?

Matt 2:16 PM  

I do the print puzzle, was the hyphen present in the e-version?

Matt 2:19 PM  

Me too, Mark! I thought we were going to level up after the first schtick answer, but it and ARSON were apparently coincidences or missed opportunities or both.

Time for an expanded Supreme Court 2:26 PM  

I nominate @That Other David (2:11) for our next (10th) SCOTUS justice. With more to follow soon. Nice post, David!

nyc_lo 2:36 PM  

LIETO. SINGTO. AIMTO. ASLEWOF. Any one of those in a puzzle is one too many. On top of everything else wrong with this one, a total disaster. Ugh.

old timer 2:41 PM  

Rex is so *cute* when he gets mad!

I ended up loving the puzzle. Most Sundays are long slogs with little reward, though I remember a few stellar exceptions to that rule. This one was tough, in some respects tougher than yesterday's. Fortunately I grew up watching bandleader Ricky RICARDO and his ditzy wife. As oft the case, I found traction at the bottom before the top. Though at first I wondered if the Volta ran into the Niger, GHANA appeared via crosses, and I was off and running. I got the trick at CARSON and was impressed there was also Johnny CASH. And I knew for sure those four places were HOGWARTS HOUSES. I read them all, though I never plan to again (unlike the Narnia books, which are a forever joy).

There were some small joys, such as NO MSG and St NICHOLAS. Amd some petty annoyances: Do SHAG RUGS really feel good on your feet? To me they are just a tripping hazard. I had a couple of others. But I just loved the inevitable LATE GREAT. Speaking of GREAT, what a treat to get such a long and amusing post from our decidedly not LATE @LMS.

What? 2:43 PM  

Shortz claims he gets about 200 submissions a week. How many are Sundays? Not enough, judging by this dreck.

Ω 2:57 PM  

@Michael Page - Just enter “NO MSG” and “racist” into the google machine and you will see many articles on why it is racist. The articles vary widely in sources from established media outlets to random bloggers, so try a few and judge for yourself.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

@Mikey. You must have read at least a few Harry Potter books to be so knowledgeable. That seems odd, since you hate them.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Yes, @Z, if you go looking for "____ism" you can always find it.

pabloinnh 3:27 PM  

I finished this after some tinkering and erasures and thought "now that was fun". I got the "RISEFROMTHEASHES" direction early on and was looking for words that veered north to completion and still had some problems finding them. Biggest slowdown was TALKTURKEY and SHY for ICY. Otherwise some fillins that were hiding but made sense when flushed out, which is what I like. Missed the ARSON coincidence entirely, but don't think it would have spoiled my Sunday.

Best thing about this one was seeing old friend REECHO (I've told this one before, but bear with me). When I fist started doing these on a daily basis with my department chairman during our shared free period, REECHO appeared, but as a clue. Of course both of us read it as REE-CHO and were stumped. So we looked it up, and found that it meant "to echo again". Oh. Not quite as smart as we thought we were.

Happy that some others liked this too. Thanks for all the fun, GT. Generally Tough, Good Theme, and a Great Time for me.

htpsmnoptp 3:49 PM  

Go into any restaurant and, when inquiring what beverages they have, ask "Do you have any ADES?" (yes, say that out loud), and see what kind of look you get from the waiter.

Oh Please 4:24 PM  

Hmmm... if the theme-answer rises FROM the ashes, shouldn't the the theme-answer letters rise AFTER
a-s-h rather than before?

I don't know about you, but I read from left to right

And I so rarely agree with OFL, but having the rising letters spell out "arson" in a fire puzzle kept me from seeing the actual trick for ages.

Double my average time. And not a fun rude.

MetroGnome 4:48 PM  

Dear Virtue Signalers & Officers of the WordWoke Police: NO MSG is racist, but OREO isn't? Uh-huh. Okay.

Michael Page 5:02 PM  

Beg to differ. “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” is arguably racist and at a minimum xenophobic (glutamate is ubiquitous, comes mainly from Japan, and may not cause the asserted symptoms at all); asking only Chinese restaurants whether their food has MSG or asking that it be prepared without MSG certainly is. My point was that clueing NOMSG with the neutral and factual point that it is a common food label, with no national or racial reference at all, is not.
And I agree with the poster above that we shouldn’t condemn answers that are names of people we disapprove of (much as I abhor Harry Potter books, Idi Amin, and Yoko Ono). PPP criticisms should be targeted at the obscure, not the infamous.

RVATOM 5:06 PM  

Mr. Shortz should lose a month’s salary for publishing this offensive, nonsensical and abundantly wordless excuse for a crossword puzzle. Please delete from archive so as not to embarrass The Times.

Nancy 5:42 PM  

@old timer -- Yes, SHAG RUGS are a tripping hazard -- an accident waiting to happen. And no, they don't feel good on your feet, either. They're rough, not smooth; uneven, not regular. They don't cushion at all; you feel the hardness of the floor through the separate tufts. One of the worst inventions ever. I fail to understand why anyone would buy one.

I happen to be a carpet person. You can have your gorgeous inlaid wood floors polished to a fare-thee-well. Love looking at them, hate walking on them. I am fortunate enough to have the softest, thickest, most wonderful wall-to-wall carpet ever made. It wasn't cheap, but it cost half of what it would have cost at ABC Carpet or at Bloomingdale's. And I saved a ton of money by not having the gorgeous prewar wood floors of my new apartment stripped, sanded and buffed, which they surely needed then and still do. Instead, I headed for a small carpet store on the UES -- I forget its name. The salesman pulled out several books with carpet samples, opened up one of them, placed it on the floor, and pointed me to a thick rectangle. He instructed me to take off one shoe and sock and step on it. I did.

"How does it feel?" he asked.

How did it feel? Cool. Enveloping. Plush. Wildly indulgent. Decadent, even. Never has my bare foot felt so good.

I smiled at the salesman. "It feels orgasmic," I replied.

I had this carpet aid wall-to-wall in both my LR and my BR. 26 years later, it continues to provide enormous pleasure every time I walk on it.

Georgia 5:50 PM  

For Omar Sy fans like me, watch "The Intouchables" on Netflix.

jae 5:58 PM  

We really enjoyed and highly recommend “Lupin” on Netflix. As for ARSÈNE Lupin, Detective, apparently the Gentleman Thief opened up a detective agency at one point in his storied career which was immortalized in the 1937 French film “Arsène Lupin, Detective”.

Jill L. 6:11 PM  

Not a big Harry Potter fan but Rex’s ad hominem attacks on JK Rowling are gross.

Nancy 6:12 PM  

Why on earth is it racist to say NO MSG??? Is it racist to say "no salt"? "No caffeine"? "No hot peppers"? "No ice" in my drink? Even "no kale"? (Hi. @GILL.) Many people seem to be allergic to MSG. What's the big deal?

Frog Nelson 6:15 PM  

I too am a lot closer to LMS than to Rex (and most of the commentariat, so it seems). Yeah, I share a few of the clue complaints as referenced here and there above. And a few holes in my knowledge were exploited - nothing new there. Yet I enjoyed the challenge - thought it was a satisfying solve, if oddly so. More oddly after reading these comments. So what? Together we make the world go 'round. A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous. Hoo hah!

And I didn't even notice ARSON even after filling JOHNNY CARSON early.

TTrimble 6:23 PM  

@Nancy 6:12 PM
Agreed. Does it surprise anyone to know that some people have reactions to the substance? That those people might have a medical need to know?

Come on.

Masked and Anonymous 6:25 PM  

har. Well, I reckon this SunPuz had somethin to please and displease just about everybody.
Woulda been real cool, to have a XINEOHP in there, somewheres. But, NO, SRA.

Mosta M&A's solvequest trouble was in the NE, due to DISCS makin PAS?LESS awful hard to figure out. That and LDRS/ASLEWOF/ETOILE. Also, SAL/AND/OSTEEN gobbled up some additional precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: SGS. The Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary has the following "SG" possibilities:
1. Seaborgium atomic symbol.
2. Solicitor general.
3. Specific gravity.
But I think this puppy was UN Secretary General(s). Dictionary says plural is Secretaries General, btw.


Thanx for the ASH heap leaps, Mr. Thackray. Extra-cute CRYER/CRIER moment.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Unknown 6:32 PM  

Unlike Rex and many others, I loved it! ! ! Thank you so much. I was able to complete it.... took me an hour, but that's OK, no googles, and no errors. I liked the theme, and the way the cross-words were transformed into a different word by adding SH. The non-words going up were slightly jarring, but not bad, and I enjoyed discovering the theme and the various entries--especially JOHNNY CARSON/JOHNNY CASH! Awesome. And REHAB CENTER/REHASH.

Really great, tough, entertaining puzzle. Something close to a Colonel's heard took me FOREVER to get. But I finally spotted it through getting some crosses. Thanks, Grant! Terrific puzzle! : )--Rick

Unknown 6:38 PM  

@LMS, I'm with you! Loved it. --Rick

Anna 7:24 PM  

A clever, tough puzzle just right for a rainy Sunday. Definitely a two-brainer.
Dan and Anna

Anoa Bob 7:27 PM  

In the spirit of the recent siege weapon BALLISTA, I think this puzzle may have been hoisted on its own petard. The complexity of the theme---five bi-directional theme entries (so really, ten themers) and the two reveals---may have exacted too great a price on the fill that not even bumping the grid up to 22 wide could save.

Of the many puzzle submissions to the NYT, I would bet that relatively few of them are Sunday sized. I'm here to tell yous that a 21X21 ain't easy to construct. A bare 21X21 grid has 441 (!) squares that must be filled with symmetrically placed black squares (up to a certain limit), typically seven or eight themers and fill that both makes it all work and is at the same time good stuff, and believe me, all that is a tall order indeed. I shudder to think of it.

Another reason for a paucity rather than a plethora of Sunday size submissions is that to do it you have to complete the entire puzzle with cluing (according to the NYT submission guidelines seen here) before sending it off. So that's a lot of time and effort into a puzzle that may or may not be accepted.

The Los Angeles Times guidelines, in contrast, asks that 21X21 puzzle themes be sent in first. If the theme gets editor approval it means it will be worthwhile to complete the puzzle. If the theme doesn't make the cut then at least you haven't wasted all that extra effort.

I'm in the camp that feels that a themeless Sunday would give the maximum space devoted only to interesting fill. Or maybe a themette puzzle where the themers are modest in number and length so as not to burden the grid. You know, a well-balanced puzzle.

I remember as a kid hearing HOGWASH used as a gentrified version of bull shit.

MetroGnome 8:38 PM  

@Jill L (6:11) -- "As hominem?" PLEASE!! Gendered language is not allowed here. "Ad feminam," if you will.

Ω 8:59 PM  

@TTrimble - Here’s my favorite quote from your link, No double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies have shown it to cause problems in a large number of people, [but] I’m sure it can cause this in certain people. 🤣😂🤣 Hey, just because there’s no evidence that I’m the best looking person here doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I always thought “the research is against me but I’m still right” position was reserved to the social sciences. but it crops up everywhere.

@Michael Page - Fair enough. Personally, the very existence of it as a food label is racist, so it is just as bad as Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

Sucky day,after a really bad day yesterday, too. Major gripes:
silent l colonel?
unleash >> gasoline
johnny cash late night host
guessed - took a swing
essie - nail polish
arsen crossing sgs
rehash - addiction treatment
talks trash isnt candid, but hateful
going by is the opposite of named, aka
scar happen AFTER the operation, not in the room
cryer crier

oh, i just didnt get the VERY obscure theme after reading Rex

Other rants:
not all adults have read harry potter
we dont all live in the NY area
does oreo have to be in every puzzle?


Scott 10:36 PM  

The horizontal theme answers all turn up the chimney, leaving ash behind. In wasn’t “ARSON” it was the end of “JOHNNYCARSON”

stephanie 10:40 PM  

a question: how is the e in "genoa" AND? we pronounce that JEN-oh-uh here. maybe i'm missing something. consider the ask a comment if it's already been answered, i like to read all your comments after i post.

anyhow, just finished (2.5hrs) and i've been sitting here wondering if i loved or hated it. the theme seemed like some thursday bs to me, and through quite a lot my face was scrunched up like i was in a cloud of fart, trying to figure out what was going on. took me a year and a half to get the theme, and all the "-" clues didn't help until i saw a HOUSE going up in the midwest. then i was like, okay, the answers must be backwards...ARSON, some kind of HOUSE...AIGHT (slang/BVE for alright) ? but then...ADED. crossing ADES? even when i saw JOHNNY, i thought of course, CARSON but obviously it didn't fit. CASH didn't host anything...or did he? maybe he did, i decided.

had a lot of write-overs too. YANK before EARN, GILETTE before NORELCO (this one mucked things up for quite awhile), PAIN FREE before PAINLESS (idk either), SAM before SAL (and i thought i was so clever too, not even knowing this particular muppet), CAKES before SCONE ("tea and cakes" is a common scent "type" and i use/collect a lot of bath, body, & home fragrance stuff). FRESH before NO MSG. SOFT RUGS before SHAG RUGS which prevented me from seeing EXHALE for the *longest* time and it was driving me crazy. (also "shag carpet" was the first thing that came to mind, not sure how my brain couldn't make the leap. still have some in my parents basement. and our first house was nothing but this butter yellow shag, everywhere. kind of cool tbh, but doesn't age well and of course is a nightmare to clean.)

then when i finally "finished", i apparently hadn't. after staring at the puzzle for ages i did something i think i've only done once before - i came here and just looked at the finished grid to find my error. DNF on EMENDS? really? i had amends of course. ETOILA seemed like a thing, ok? also, DISCI is terrible. first thing i thought five minutes into this puzzle: discus. googled the plural. DISCUSES was the answer. looked back at puzzle. thought "they're going to make me write DISCI, aren't they." left it blank. two hours later...sigh. i gave in.

from the memory bank today: although i hate those "look at the actual letters" clue, SILENT L i got right away because the word "colonel" has annoyed me for ages. forget driving on the parkway and parking in the driveway, colonel doesn't even have an R! my absolute nemesis as a kid when asked to read aloud in history class. yes, i pronounced it phonetically. more than once. my sympathies as always to any and all ESL folx.

overall...i'm still not sure. i kind of like the "rising up from the ashes" idea, i just think the execution was a bit confusing especially for a sunday. normally when i get tripped up for long periods of time it's because of PPP. and today i was unfazed by it, really didn't notice it even. proud i finished - don't care about my one letter error - and i do have that satisfied "i cracked the case" feeling. i'll take it. as a partying gift, here's a quick visual writeup on the oreo stamp pattern:

and thanks to rex for the fundraiser links. PRO CHOICE FOR EVERYONE FOREVER.

stephanie 10:49 PM  

also @albatross shell from yesterday re: COT
thank you for the explanation! honestly, being unfamiliar with the term, i just did a quick google of the word which said "A bivouac shelter is any of a variety of improvised camp site, or shelter that is usually of a temporary nature, used especially by soldiers, or persons engaged in backpacking, bikepacking, scouting, or mountain climbing" and at the mention of soldiers i immediately imagined one of those medical tents for some reason. perhaps those are a little more than "improvised" even though they are temporary and used by soldiers. now looking at the google image results, i realize my mind made quite the jump.

stephanie 10:53 PM  

UGH but thank you @geoff! (and to @anon 4:31am for asking.)

Giskarrrd 11:00 PM  

Is it me or does the clue on ARENA seem off? “Word before rock or football” - shouldn’t it be “AFTER rock or football”??

stephanie 11:01 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith such a good point re: colonel.

also, on HIMYM, barney (creator of the "bro code") is a huge womanizer and overall kind of an ass. it was really wild to me when i learned who neil patrick harris (the actor who portrays him) actually is. there exists both guy code & girl code (since way before the show). things like properly keeping secrets and not dating friend's exes and so on. it's of course really more like "how to be a half decent friend and use common sense" but, yk. doesn't have the same ring to it.

stephanie 11:17 PM  

thank you so much for your insight @TTrimble! (and all who participated in the convo yesterday, it was very interesting to read.) best of luck with your students this year and every year.

the software sounds [pause while i try not to use "interesting" twice...i fail, we move on] interesting. i think doing while learning is so important, and really helps. too often we were just watching the teacher do something, and wouldn't really get around to taking a stab at it until homework hours later. and that gap can be a killer, even if you pay attention in class. your last paragraph really hits on the part where teachers do these lessons day in and day out, for years, and can become quite distanced from what students are feeling trying to learn it all for the first time.

Monty Boy 11:22 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I'm in the LMS/Lewis camps. Fun to solve and pry out the gimmick.

stephanie 11:27 PM  

@Barbara S. like your clue for SEA TANGLE very much. even though i purposely typed in SEAT ANGLE at some point, each time i glanced over in that direction i thought, "SEA TANGLE?! ooh, what clue was that!" and then i'd remember. and then i would repeat this process about ten times during solving.

stephanie 11:28 PM  

thank you @Liz1508!

stephanie 11:34 PM  

@oceanjeremy i loved that clue and especially liked it next to the NICE list :)

stephanie 11:36 PM  

@Matt i solve on the web and the hyphen was indeed present.

DGD 11:40 PM  

e = and in Italian

stephanie 11:47 PM  

@Barbara S. ps, i remember when i was a kid my mom sometimes used to tell me "T.S., Eliot." i knew the TS meant "tough shit", but i never could figure out why she would call me eliot...

stephanie 11:50 PM  

@Giskarrrd although "rock arena" and "football arena" are both things of their own, so are arena rock and arena football.

wiki will do a better job than i:
Arena rock (also known as anthem rock, corporate rock, dad rock, melodic rock, pomp rock, and stadium rock[1][nb 1]) is a style of rock music that originated in the mid-1970s. As hard rock bands and those playing a softer yet strident kind of pop rock became increasingly popular, groups began creating material inherently designed for large audiences, and arena rock developed from their use of more commercially oriented and radio-friendly sounds. The often highly produced music, including both upbeat, dramatic songs and slower power ballads, features strong emphasis on melody and frequently employs anthemic choruses. Other major characteristics include prominent guitar effects and the use of keyboard instruments.

Arena football is a variety of eight-man indoor gridiron football. The game is played indoors on a smaller field than American or Canadian football, designed to fit in the same surface area as a standard North American ice hockey rink, resulting in a faster and higher-scoring game that can be played on the floors of indoor arenas. The sport was invented in 1981, and patented in 1987, by Jim Foster, a former executive of the National Football League and the United States Football League. The name is trademarked by Gridiron Enterprises and had a proprietary format until its patent expired in 2007.

TTrimble 12:11 AM  

More study is clearly needed. Here is one study that reproduced symptoms in allegedly sensitive subjects. More such studies could be adduced.

It may be that the MSG syndrome affects only a small percentage of the population, but their reported experiences can't be just summarily dismissed or ridiculed. Again, more study is needed. (There may also be long term effects that go beyond the headaches, dizziness, etc. reported by people who identify as MSG-sensitive -- various studies suggest this as well.)

And a hell of a lot more study would be needed to arrive at the conclusion that people who report MSG sensitivity do so because they are xenophobes/racists. The suggestion is outrageous.

Hartley70 1:21 AM  

Torturous torture.

Wellmet 11:07 AM  

Just a great puzzle that had to be developed painstakingly over. Contained some very clever clues that me really use my imagination and my reach.

stephanie 12:15 PM  

@TTrimble & all who discussed MSG today:
to me, it's a venn diagram of sorts. physically i can tolerate MSG just fine. but i always have extremely wild and vivid dreams that night. it's delicious, but i will avoid eating MSG if i have to get up early for anything very important the following day. there are others, despite whatever the studies say, that do get physical reactions. thus, it is logical they would want to avoid MSG and that's legit. (i also happen to have a bizarre but severe food intolerance to pancetta, even though i can eat salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, etc and i don't need any study on the matter to prove it to me. i firmly believe if someone tells you they can't eat something, there's no need to argue about it.)

then, as everyone knows, there are overt xenophobes who loudly and proudly hate anything chinese. but then, there's that little window of overlap. to me, in there is where the people who avoid MSG despite never having had it live. so too do the ones that have had it but just don't realize they have, due to xenophobia-informed ignorance about the ingredient. and the ones experiencing a placebo/nocebo effect. and the ones misattributing symptoms to MSG. these people think MSG is inherently bad, and that it exists solely in chinese food, and that it exists in all chinese food. and if there is a chinese restaurant say, that doesn't use MSG, these people insist these chinese restaurants cannot be trusted. and it further goes hand in hand with the xenophobic rhetoric of "the chinese will eat anything", "the chinese put harmful ~chemicals~ in everything from food to toys" etc. these people will avoid chinese food (or anything they think is chinese food) because they "can't have MSG" yet you won't find them worrying about it in other foods or cuisines. that's the red flag.

in other words, to avoid any food or ingredient that doesn't sit well with you (or even if you just don't care for the taste!) is all fine and good. but to avoid MSG because the only thing you think you know about it is "bad chinese chemical" is xenophobic. and "msg symptom complex" used to be called "chinese restaurant syndrome." so the origin of the thing that went viral and likely was the initial cause of brands deciding NO MSG! was another neat thing they could print on packages was based on a xenophobic understanding of the ingredient.

and frankly, many people will eat a huge quantity of only deep fried americanized chinese, doused in sugary sauces and further doused in soy sauce, perhaps they also eat things that are very spicy, etc and then when feeling the inevitable side effects of this, attribute it to MSG and/or chinese food as a whole.

so, in many ways, both sides are right, because both groups of people exist. here's a concise article on both sides of the food sensitivity angle:

TTrimble 1:47 PM  

Thanks. Thoughtful as usual.

I have had, in the past, what I thought might have been a reaction to MSG (flush and hot flash all over the body), possibly in conjunction with some supplements I was taking at the time. But that was a long time ago. FWIW, I very happily eat Chinese cuisine, whether in restaurants or at the homes of friends, and I never worry about MSG with regard to myself.

But based on my limited personal experience and what I've heard, it's not at all hard to believe that the syndrome is a real thing with some people, no matter who was doing the cooking. It would be very rude and reductionist to automatically presume that it was all in their heads.

By my reading, the person (a physician I think; I'd have to check back) quoted in my first link was being careful to say that reactions to MSG have not been clearly observed in a large percentage of the population, but that s/he is prepared to believe that some of his/her patients who report a reaction are experiencing a real phenomenon. That another commenter chooses to ridicule this attitude amazes me. Surely the biochemistry is complex enough that we can't presume to know all there is to know.

It also seems very easy to believe that cultural biases and racism plays a significant role with some people. My lord, we have seen enough anti-Asian bias and hostility in the past year and half. It's sickening.

tk 5:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 6:20 PM  

I love good crossword puzzles so I'm not sure why I do the NYT any longer. I also love the Texas legislature, the Texas governor and our Supreme Court, and I hope to see Roe v Wade clued in the future as something no one can remember. Rex, conservatives do crossword puzzles too.

ghostoflectricity 8:02 PM  

I still do these in print, and often don't get to the Sunday one until Monday (or later)- usually after solving all the other puzzles at the back of the Sunday NYT mag. This puzzle was the worst and most infuriating of the tens thousands of NYT crosswords I have solved in my lifetime. I can think of not ONE single element to say something nice about. Unbelievably bad, almost PTSD-triggering. I don't understand how Rex thought it was a "medium" solve.

Michael Rosen 12:00 AM  

Sorry to be so late to the party. First item in a DVD series? Disc 1.

John Tjia 6:37 PM  

The answer go up vertically so if at the middle of UNLEASH you go up, then you have UNLEADED. The ends of this clue, as the others, end in ASH. There is an reference in the answers to RISE FROM and THE ASHES.

All the people complaining about unintelligible answers in this forum (staring from Rex) don’t seem to realize, let alone appreciate, the wordplay the constructor put in place.

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner 10:21 PM  

This was a not-fun struggle But your willingness to take on Texas made it all worthwhile for me I’ll send $$ to Rebecca for sure Who knew my escape from the Gilead that is Texas would give me political pleasure

Sher Sullivan Stevens 12:55 PM  

I just don't get: RETNECBA, ESUOHSTRA, THGIA and what does - mean like in 7 down?

Burma Shave 11:59 AM  




rondo 12:13 PM  

DNBTF and glad for it.

Diana, LIW 5:06 PM  

Simply found no fun in this one. Oh well.

@Rondo - what???

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 5:09 PM  

Oh - @R - Bother To Finish???

Lady Di

rondo 10:30 PM  


Cross@words 3:10 PM  

@ttrimble FYI - ALEKS often has alternate explanations and ‘see more’ options

JAussiegirl 12:49 PM  

Mixing up Italian into French for 42 across “Prima ballerina = etoile” was a bit odd. Would we not write it as “Stella”? Just wondering. Took me forever to parse “e” in Genoa - and I’ve been there!

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