Makes less powerful in video game slang / SUN 9-12-21 / Soul-seller of legend / Phenomenon such as the tendency to see human forms in animate objects / Savory Chinese snacks / Munch in modern slang / Ryerson insurance salesman in Groundhog Day / Martinez with statue outside Seattle Mariners' stadium / One who consumes a ritual meal to absolve the souls of the dead / Group dance popularized in the U.S. by Desi Arnaz

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Constructor: Alex Rosen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "What a Character!" — there's an emoticon pictured in the grid, with the pieces of the sideways face composed of letters spelling out the PUNCTUATION MARK they represent (semicolon + hyphen + parenthesis); then we are told that to see it as a face we have to ROTATE CLOCKWISE (which is obvious); we are told the emoticon is a SMILEY FACE (it absolutely is not); and we are told that the tendency to see faces in animate objects is called PAREIDOLIA (which doesn't really apply to emoticons since they are *intended* to look like faces, sigh) (25A: Phenomenon such as the tendency to see human forms in animate objects)

Word of the Day: PAREIDOLIA (25A) —

Pareidolia (/ˌpær.iˈə, ˌpɛr-/also US/ˌpɛr.ˈə, -ˈdl.jə/) is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none.

Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces, or objects in cloud formations, seeing faces in inanimate objects, or lunar pareidolia like the Man in the Moon or the Moon rabbit. The concept of pareidolia may extend to include hidden messages in recorded music played in reverse or at higher- or lower-than-normal speeds, and hearing voices (mainly indistinct) or music in random noise, such as that produced by air conditioners or fans. (wikipedia)

• • •

This was over fast. Got PUNCTUATION MARK early, and once I got the little "SEMI" part of "semicolon," I filled the rest of the circled squares in. Done. Just, done. What else is there to do? Well, apparently there is the completely unnecessary and anticlimactic instruction ROTATE CLOCKWISE. Then there is the completely erroneous description of the emoticon as a SMILEY FACE (this one is actually shocking, as the face in this puzzle is 100% without a doubt indisputably a WINKY FACE; a SMILEY FACE is made with a simple colon for the eyes, but a WINKY FACE is made with a semicolon, they are different different different, as you can see here in this "List of emoticons": totally different listing. Diff.Er.Ent!!). 

Then there's what I assume is the raison d'etre of this puzzle, the word PAREIDOLIA, which is a word I've never heard of before, which makes me think the entire damned puzzle is just to teach us the word PAREIDOLIA, but since an emoticon is a terrible example of PAREIDOLIA, since emoticons are *supposed* to look like faces (i.e. it's not like looking at the front of a car and thinking the headlights are eyes or whatever, i.e. you aren't "seeing things" when you see a face in an emoticon). So incredibly wrong and off and misguided on every level. Head-shakingly ill-conceived and -executed. I was literally saying to myself "Don't be SMILEY, don't be SMILEY" as I was filling out the pre-FACE part of that last themer. But it was SMILEY. And then the fill's really not that good (-SAUR ERATO ECOCAR ... and that's just in a tiny patch in the south, I don't really have the time / inclination to catalogue the rest). At best this is HO-HUM. I really wish the editor would reconceive, or at least ... think about? ... what the hell the Sunday's point is. It's the most visible puzzle, the biggest puzzle, the one with the most solvers (my traffic nearly doubles on Sunday). But no one who does the puzzle daily thinks the Sunday is the best. I have friends who skip it because it's just a big bore most of the time and there are sooooo many other puzzles in the world to do (there really are, if you look). Make Sunday Worthy Of Its Fame and Reputation. Because currently, and for years and years if we're being honest, it is sputtering.

Never heard of:
  • PAREIDOLIA (as we've established) 
  • SIN-EATER (81D: One who consumes a ritual meal to absolve the souls of the dead)
  • ARI Aster (though I have heard of "Midsommar") (76A: "Midsommar" director Aster)
  • NERFS (121A: Makes less powerful, in video game slang)
  • OH, HELL (the card game; I'm familiar with the exclamation) (58D: Card game with a PG-rated name)
  • FLEABANE (90A: Plant said to repel bugs)
  • TEA EGGS (34A: Savory Chinese snacks)
The rest was no problem, though I had WOW at first instead of WOE at 13D: What "vey" of "Oy vey!" translates to at first. Thankfully, PARWIDOLIA looked very, very wrong, so I ran the alphabet for WO- and hit on WOE pretty quickly. I liked CONGA LINE. I wish this puzzle had circled squares that just twisted through the grid spelling out CONGA LINE. That would've been more fun.

The rest of the puzzle, IT'S A BLUR (which, by the way, is another good answer) (52A: "Everything happened so fast!"). One last thing: the title. Isn't an emoticon made out of *several* "characters"? When you say "What a Character!" what is the pun, exactly? Yes, the emoticon represents a human face, which you could call a "character," but I think the point is that the face is made out of characters, plural, so the pun just ... misses. What Three Characters! Not such a great ring to it. OK, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ken Freeland 12:11 AM  

WHAT? A reasonably moderate PPP quotient and no serious naticks to complain about? You're sleeping on the job, Will!
Kudos to constructor Rosen for sneaking this first fair puzzle in months past the Minotaur!

Frantic Sloth 12:31 AM  

Why do I feel like the Greek Islands are following me?
Isn't this like the third day in a row that we had CRETAN? Just an observation.

So there's an emoticon in the grid. And SMILEY/SCHMILEY - it's a winky FACE! I bet even @TTrimble knows that! 😘

Okay, so it's impressive construction. But, if I still had a cat, it would be digging at the litter all day trying to hide that turd of a semi-revealer. [muttering] SMILEY FACE. Get outta here with that.

And good thing that other semi-revealer told me to ROTATE (the grid) CLOCKWISE or I would have been left staring at it, wondering how it worked. 🙄 Please. I guess I should be happy it didn't tell me to "sit on it" first.

ITS all A BLUR is the saying. ITS A BLUR answers the question "what's the smudge in this photo?" or some such.

I didn't hate it - it went fast. But it's just another one of the Sundees to join the club of infamy. Bleh.


@bocamp 504pm yesterday Man! You are diligent with your searches! Thanks for digging up that memory - I should have known yours is sharper than mine. 😊

Joe Dipinto 12:39 AM  

When Winky met Smiley at the Edgar Martinez statue.

This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, such as Crossworld has never before witnessed and is unlikely to witness again in this millennium.

Well, okay, it wasn't quite *that* bad. But, if you read the constructor's note at XWord Info, he actually believes that what he made is a smiley face. And it's not. Why didn't anyone tell him?

In other news, the Acrostic has gone back to its regularly scheduled cluing style, after the unmitigated disaster of epic proportions from two weeks ago.

Frantic Sloth 12:45 AM  

This was funny to me: Rex says " I ran the alphabet for WO- and hit on WOE pretty quickly." Oh, you mean like five letters in? Yep. That's "pretty quickly" all right. 🤣

I mostly agree with OFL, except I don't think PAREIDOLIA was described or clued as theme-related. He inferred that. Understandably as it happens, but it's not really a fair criticism, IMHOPancakes.

Also have to agree with @Ken Freeland 1211am about the refreshing (relative) lack of PPP. That was very much appreciated!

Del Taco 1:15 AM  

A big nothing of a puzzle.
Unpleasant to solve, and I couldn't care less about the theme.

Ken Freeland 1:34 AM  

I felt the same about the pareidolia criticism... thanks for enunciating it...

Loren Muse Smith 2:11 AM  

Ok. I have to admit that at first I totally missed the beauty of this theme. As I learned about PAREIDOLIA and let it all soak in, I was awash with admiration for the construction feat. I get what Rex is saying, that the very existence of emoticons is the deliberate attempt to fashion a face out of PUNCTUATION MARKS. But I googled PAREIDOLIA and emoticon and found this:

So that brings us to our smiley emoticon -- specifically the dash-as-nose variety. . . when the emoticon was introduced on a message board in 1982, it had to be explained. It wasn't naturally recognized as a smiling face. Our brains saw it more as language or punctuation. It was a symbol to be decoded.
A new study out of Flinders University says that's changed over time. 20 people were shown real faces, smiley emoticons, and a bunch of meaningless punctuation while their brain activity was monitored- and the emoticon was recognized by the pareidolia part of the brain. We now see it innately as a face.
But here's something interesting: turn a face sideways, it's still a face, your brain reacts to it the same way. Type an emoticon the opposite way and our brains don't register it as a face at all. Which kind of makes sense to me, because if someone types it the opposite way in a text it takes me a moment to get what they mean.

I would argue rather that we harnessed the power of PAREIDOLIA to create emoticons.

So we can have forced PAREIDOLIA (emoticons, my avatar), or purely serendipitous PAREIDOLIA.

This is an astonishing, informative, terrific Sunday, imo, and I find the whole subject fascinating. As a result of this puzzle, my horizons have been broadened, and I feel smarter. Cool. Thanks, Alex.

For 96D, I went “flew off” before FLEW OUT. Big difference. Your bae FLEW OUT to go to a conference. You’ll see him again soon. He FLEW OFF. . . get a Bumble account, man.

Loved, loved, loved the clue for FORK. But I’m a linguist; I like ambiguity more than most people.

Take me AS I AM. And therein lies the secret to pretty much any relationship.

“One who consumes a ritual meal in order to absolve the souls of the dead.” I kept going back to this clue, subconsciously seeing something sinister. I guess it’s having words like consume, ritual, soul, dead all in one sentence. Creepy. Some words you just don’t wanna hear in one utterance. Like drop-cloth and enema, and yes, there’s a story there.

Hey, SPACEBAR? Backspace bar’s like, Here. Hold my beer. . . man’s laughter – manslaughter. Bam.

Loren Muse Smith 2:19 AM  

A couple more things:

* Rex – you’re right about its being a winky face, but it IS smiling.

* I responded at the end of yesterday’s thread to everyone’s thoughts on that phenomenon of a word looking weird when you look at it too long.

* MIMOSA. My just-moved-here-from-Salt-Lake-City sister had a MIMOSA yesterday at her new apartment complex open house. It’s a brand spanking new fancy place that she moves into next Friday. Her Utah place was basically Section 8 housing with no ac, no closets, no nice anything. . . pretty much a dump, and we’re all beyond happy for her now. The movers ghosted her, so what little furniture she owned she had to leave behind. (My other sister had to buy a trailer (none available to rent), load it herself – SLC sister has MS - to take whatever they could fit and drive here across country.) Progressive Vanlines won’t return her calls to get her $1700 deposit back, money she needs desperately. I’m telling you all this out of rage. Rage, rage, rage. Progressive Vanlines executives’ tiny, nasty little souls should be ritually consumed by WASPS. Do. Not. Use. Progressive. Vanlines. Spread the word, please.

Joe Dipinto 2:24 AM  

@F-Slo and @Ken Freeland – but PAREIDOLIA is in the slot symmetrical with SMILEY FACE. If SMILEY FACE is a Theme Answer, then whatever is at 25a must be one too.

Another problem I see is 21d: the SPACEBAR alone cannot effect the change described in the clue. You also have to use the backspace key to delete the apostrophe and the space before the w.

The Mother Teresa cinnamon bun.

jae 2:27 AM  

Easy-medium. Cute idea. Impressive construction. Not a smiley face. Liked it slightly more than @Rex did.

Unknown 5:03 AM  

The puzzle was "meh", but the clip of John Prine saved the morning. Thanks!

BarbieBarbie 5:53 AM  

In my view the collection is SMILEYFACEs and the one in the puzzle is the winky-face instance.

I really liked this one. Actually did make me SMILE. A rare example of an impressive construction feat that is also fun to solve. More please!

Frantic Sloth 6:10 AM  

@J-Dip and @LMS Sold! I totally buy into your PAREIDOLIA "arguments". I could swear we had this word recently in a puzzle, but I was wrong. Again. It was actually introduced by guest blogger Megan Bowman in the 8/11/21 write up.
Here's a repeat of the link I posted then. Just in case anyone's life would be incomplete without it.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Some random thoughts:

• When I looked at the grid and saw the circle pattern, it looked like an anchor, and I thought it was going to be a nautical theme. But it didn’t take long to drop the anchor.
• After finishing I looked at the grid and wondered why the SMILEY FACE wasn’t put in rightside-up so the grid wouldn’t have to be rotated. Just as my righteous indignation approached fever pitch, I realized why it had to be sideways, and tail between my legs, I moved on.
• Learned PHAGE, SIN EATER, and PAREIDOLIA (paruh DOLE ee uh), and I think I’ll remember all three.
• But I don’t think I’ll be injecting any of them into conversation any time soon.
• Terrific clues for MASCARA and FORK.
• The “Groundhog Day” reference (for NED) set off happy fireworks inside me, reminding me of one of my favorite films.

A most pleasing diversion that I’m most grateful for. Thanks, Alex for all the work you put into this!

Joaquin 6:45 AM  

Hey! Can I get some help over here. I'm being surrounded by CRETANS.

Trey 6:57 AM  

I agree with what I interpreted @LMS as saying - a nice construction feat even if not technically correct. To make it correct as a smiley face, would you have the word “colon” twice to represent the two dots? That would be tough with a 5-letter word. I am sure Rex would have loved that. Yes, the revealer could have been changed to winky face, but I am happy enough the way it is

I am shocked that Rex did not bring up the three CRETAN(S) this week. He must have been in such a frowny-face mood after today’s puzzle to comment on that

David Fabish 7:08 AM  

I wasn't thrilled with this puzzle, and I agree with Rex about "SMILEYFACE", but emoticons are definitely PAREIDOLIA. An image doesn't need to be unintentional to be pareidolia. It simply needs to be something that clearly ISN'T a face, but that our brain processes as one.

Colin 7:09 AM  

This was OK. I never hate a puzzle like Rex hates a puzzle; in fact, I never hate a puzzle at all. I don't complain about words I don't know, but TEAEGGS and SINEATER were new to me, despite my being American-Chinese (but having eaten lots of real Chinese food, thanks to my parents) and Catholic. Also FLEABANE. Agree ECOCAR was a bit weak. RARE for "Half-baked" was also weak? - unless you're talking about a Chateaubriand?... I knew "raw" didn't fit... I suppose baked chicken or baked pork chops can be rare, but I just don't link baking with RARE vs medium vs well-done.

Got tripped up at PAREIDOLIA, where I kept "wow" instead of "WOE." Shoulda run that alphabet!

The Joker 7:35 AM  

I misinterpreted the 112A clue and rotated myself clockwise and thought the image might be a mushroom or an umbrella.

nalpac 7:35 AM  

My Granny used to use the phrase "(Oy) vey ist mir" more often than not, which sums up how I felt about this puzzle.

But I did like the word pareidolia. It was new to me. Mind you, I don't think I'll be able to arrange my two poached eggs, sausage and bacon on the plate like I usually do. That pleasure has been ruined for me now. Oh, woe is me.

Son Volt 7:36 AM  

Solved as a themeless - can’t even see the graphics on my phone. Lots of decent fill - LEAP FROG, ITS A BLUR and CONGA LINE are all nice longs. BERNIE on top of WIENER is interesting. Hand up for WOw before WOE. Didn’t know SIN EATER. Our old friend the Aster shows up in different form today with FLEA BANE. Seinfeld gave me the SIDLEr.

I used to get those odd ball TEA EGGS from a cart on Grand near the Bowery. I like them - my wife not so much.

In the end - an enjoyable themeless Sunday solve for me.

bocamp 7:51 AM  

Thx Alex for the SMILEY FACE creation! ; )

Med. solve.

A technical dnf resulting from a fat finger at SMILEY _ACE lol – don't know what letter I had in place of the 'F', and I think I had more of a guffaw, than a SMILEY FACE at that careless typo, left undiscovered by a hasty once over before filling in the 'E' of WOE, the 'E' of PHAGE, and the 'G' of SUGAR.

Wasn't sure of AMIG_ until filling in the down; ya know, maybe gal pal.

Overall, I was pretty much on the right wavelength for this, aside from the aforementioned.

Loved the tricky SPACE BAR.

EDGAR Martinez, my all-time fave Mariner. ⚾️

Some shoutouts to Oregon with EUGENE, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and MEL Blanc making appearances.

Just finished watching STALAG 17 on Tubi (Apple TV, Canada)

Just AS I AM ~ The Antrim Mennonite Choir: Beautiful a cappella rendition.

"Just AS I AM, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come! I come"

A fun and enjoyable puz! :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

kitshef 8:14 AM  

Learning the word PAREIDOLIA made the whole puzzle worthwhile. People are always trying to say that rock formations, cave formations, cloud formations look like something. Most of the time, I have real trouble seeing what they are talking about. Does that make me an apareidoliac?

Also liked BUGABOO, and our daily dose of CRETANism. Oh, and Needle-nose NED! NED the Head!

Couple of nits but overall, a very solid puzzle.

GILL I. 8:25 AM  

One winky dinky...Two winky dinky's...Oh, wait.....It's a SMILEY.'s a PAREIDOLIA.
I once opened a tomato and it looked like Jabba The Hut.
But did you like this? you ask...Well, as Sundays go, it had some cool beans. Some major huhs! The first was SPACE BARS at 21A. Men swear in them? Whats that? Then we get to a SIN EATER PHAGE. Do they eat these little TEA EGGS?
You started with WINES....couldn't you have ended with DINES?

@Frantic....good gravy....that chicken looks like my Jabba The Hut Tomato.

Ω 8:36 AM  

Ce n’est pas une pipe.
Put me on team Rex that this is not PAREIDOLIA. (T)he tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none. I suppose what some of you are describing, failure to see an object, pattern, or meaning where one is intended, is antipareidolia.

I s’pose you can lawyer that SMILEY FACE is sometimes used as the category so what we have is one of the SMILEY FACEs. But if Rosen were explaining to me how this was a SMILEY FACE I would give him the “O.K. If you say so.”

And then there’s the whole “is it a PARENTHESIS when you have only half of the symbol?” question. ) by itself just isn’t a parenthesis. To identify a parenthetical phrase, for example, you need both ( and ) otherwise all you have is a typo. PARENTHESeS would be ()()()(). Yeah yeah, we use PARENTHESIS for half the symbol because we were too lazy to come up with a more accurate word (hemiparen anyone?) but I don’t have to like it.

Having said all that, the puzzle wasn’t awful to solve.

I see your John Prine and raise you a Nanci Griffith.

Glen Laker 8:45 AM  

“Pareidolia” is in a theme position, 180 degree rotation from “Smiley Face”, so I think the constructor intended it as a theme answer.

amyyanni 8:45 AM  

Pleasantly amusing. And yes, movers are not trustworthy. They rarely comply with income deduction orders.
Happy Sunday. Really reveling in the autumn weather we are starting to experience here 600 miles north of Fort Myers.

Ira Sy 8:49 AM  

I call foul on 55 across. How can you clue a movie NOW, that doesn't open until next month?
Am I supposed to know movies from the trailers?

Other than that, easy to medium for a Sunday

Dr.A 8:55 AM  

I love your musical taste. Now I’m sad because I miss John Prine. Such a great talent.

kitshef 8:58 AM  

Take me AS I AM immediately brought to mind Meredith Brooks (2nd verse 1:14 in).

TTrimble 8:58 AM  

@Frantic Sloth
Correction, dear lady: it's emoji that I know little about. Emoticons? If anyone understands those, it's me. Please review the discerning comments I made on them recently. :-)

The blogger and his commentariat are in fine form this morning. I pretty much agree with Rex as far as the solver's end is concerned: there are only three PUNCTUATION MARKs, so in the end the theme felt a little thin. As far as I'm concerned, ROTATE CLOCKWISE is indeed superfluous: I know to do that already. But I think a case can be made that many solvers get their puzzle off their front porch, courtesy of Billy the paper boy, and have largely forgotten how to use their computers if they ever knew. My mom for example. I'm pretty sure she would need the explicit hints provided to make sense of what's going on. I can almost guarantee she doesn't know this emoticon business, and also that she would, on principle, hate them once she did. And shake her head sadly at her son whose uses them liberally. [Even well into my adulthood she was correcting my grammar midsentence, until finally I told her off one day.]

Oh, hello again, CRETAN. What's that phenomenon where you've never or almost never seen a word and then suddenly you seem to see it popping up a lot in a short time period? Ah yes, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Mark my word, you may see these names crop up again soon.

(It's happened with PAREIDOLIA recently in my case. But not yet with White CLAW.)

PHAGE, SIN EATER, EXHUMES: I'm getting a slight Night of the Living Dead vibe here. "Necrophage": that's gotta be a word.

Actually, I liked this puzzle. It was on the easy side, a relief from the ass-kickings of the last couple of days, but it was fun. WASSAIL together with TIDINGS provide a cozy feeling, albeit a little early this year. TEA EGGS and FLEABANE are a little off the beaten track. I was EDUCATEd by the clues for CONGA LINE and MOONS. There was witty cluing, e.g., the one for MASCARA (will that make the Lewis list?), and despite @Joe D's objection, I thought SPACE BAR was also pretty good.

Learned a couple new words from this week's Acrostic. Still having this weird technological glitch where the software is not accepting a letter in a particular square -- this week I had to open a new tab multiple times before finally getting a copy of the puzzle I could complete. Onto the SB.

yd 0

pmdm 8:58 AM  

After reading the comments posted so far (especially the one by LMS) I have little to say. Theme entries can be approximations. Reading into things can lead one astray. Low amounts of PPP (don't ask what PPP is; read the comments posted on previous days until you learn) lets me fill in more of a puzzle before having to resort to reference work. And that leaves me happy about the puzzle. I am impressed by construction a puzzle that is not wretched but has so many restaints imposed by certain entry requirements. Think that's not so? Then read the constructors comments posted elsewhere.

CF 9:06 AM  

Okay, so I flew through this one, noticed that the circled letters made up the shape of an emoticon, thought "meh". But I didn't realize until reading these comments and going back to look that the circled letters actually spell out "semi", "colon", "hyphen", "parenthesis" in addition to being the shape of them. My "meh" is officially changed to a "Wow!"

burtonkd 9:20 AM  

Rex should read the comments here rather than the usual snark on twitter. He would have been EDUCATED about PAREIDOLIA a couple weeks ago and provided with many humorous examples:-)

julian paul keenan 9:24 AM  

Well, my thought is that PAREIDOLIA is not a word that gets used in science. I am a cognitive neuroscientist and this word never gets used. It is so obscure it has a total of 8 citations in pubmed. Maybe there are other contexts here? I'm with Rex, there are enough of these in the puzzle that are just odd. ECOCAR?

Matt 9:33 AM  

Possibly the easiest Sunday puzzle I've ever done. Here it is, 9:30 a.m., and I've completed it, even though I sleep in until ten Sunday mornings.

TTrimble 9:34 AM  

Hmm... "left paren" and "right paren" are pretty common parlance. And it's not always true that a left PARENTHESIS must be paired with a right PARENTHESIS to form a typographically valid expression. In mathematics, we write (a, b] to denote the set of real numbers strictly greater than a and less than or equal to b. If I'm introducing this notation, I may without hesitation refer to a left parenthesis and a right [square] bracket, very secure in the feeling that the student will follow my meaning just fine.

If it helps in shedding the prescriptivism, you can think of this usage of PARENTHESIS as a back-formation from "parentheses".

Whatsername 9:38 AM  

I don’t normally hang out here on Sunday, but just decided to give it a whirl this morning. This was a good call in that it was very easy and didn’t take as long as Sundays often do which is why I eschew them, Best part was that I learned a new concept, or more accurately, learned that a very old concept has a name. Fascinating!

@Joaquin: Are you ready for some Chiefs footbaaaaaall??

bocamp 9:40 AM  

Had a hard time making out the SMILEY, so took a screenshot and connected the circles with my Apple pencil. Looked more or less like a winking SMILEY FACE to me. ;-)

I guess this could be considered PAREIDOLIA if one is in the habit of looking for FACEs in the circled cells before getting into the solve.

@Frantic Sloth (12:31 AM) 😊

Fun acrostic today.

pg -5

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Tom T 9:47 AM  

I finally know what I am: a PAREIDOLIAc! Like at my airb&b this summer, which offered the masked face of an actor from the Golden Age of Greece in one of the tiles in the shower.

Dnf'd on PHAGa/BEaNE. :-(

Carola 9:50 AM  

The grid art of a SMiLEY FACE naming it's constituent PUNCTUATION MARK parts, along with the term for the phenomenon that makes it visible to us and a two-word "user manual" (ROTATE CLOCKWISE) --I thought it was very COOL. Ignorance of the difference between SMILEYs with and without winks kept the SEMICOLON from bothering me. And we were treated TEA EGGS, LOWLIFES x SIN EATER, FLEABANE, BUGABOO, LEAPFROG, CONGALINE, TIDINGS + NEWSREEL and the great MASCARA clue. For me top-drawer, fun-to-solve Sunday.

Nancy 10:03 AM  

I'd say this is pretty painless if you don't have to think about the whole ROTATE CLOCKWISE thing. And I didn't. I filled it in just as though it was a normal puzzle with no grid art to mess with. I know that something is going on here -- something the constructor probably worked very hard to get right -- and I'm sure it's impressive. Even though I have no idea what it is. Well, my mother once called me the most incurious person she knew -- and I guess she wasn't entirely wrong.

Yesterday's blog comments, btw, looked wonderful at a glance -- but thanks to a gorgeous day, a late waking up, and a wonderful tennis match to watch later that day, I never got to read them. I'll try to catch up sometime today. Or tomorrow.

Teedmn 10:04 AM  

Talk about leaving something on the table (12D), I was leaving FOod there until the very end. I didn't know director Forman of 29D and PUNCTUATION _ARd was giving me no aha moment. (PAoEIDOLIA was looking rather odd.)

Somehow I LEAPFROGged my usual reaction to this sort of situation on a Sunday as time elapses - instead of slapping down my M guess for MILOS and shrugging and hitting the "check solution" key, I rethought FOod and successfully finished with a FORK. Woohoo.

CRETAN, again!

NERFS? As clued, is it saying that you're getting all mushy and non-powerful?

Boy, did 23A's clue ever leave me scratching my head. I couldn't equate the arm bending with any children's song. That whole NW corner was tough. Even with NO ONE and SETTLES crossing STEALS, I had to leave that section to the very end. I had WASPS early on but took it out - what has a bouquet and starts with W? But eventually that exact question led me to the correct answer. Circular logic?

Alex, this was an interesting Sunday puzzle. I finally looked at the PUNCTUATION MARKs and have realized what that clue was talking about. Cool bonus to the theme.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

A L-O-N-G time ago I enjoyed-even looked forward to the Sunday puzzle. Not any more. Now, I only do (gimmick) Thursday, Friday, Saturday. But never on Sunday. Heading out to look for the other more challenging and interesting puzzles mentioned.

Other David 10:09 AM  

Is Cretan(s) replacing Oreo or Oboe?

Sixthstone 10:16 AM  

The good news: this was my fastest Sunday ever.

The bad news: pretty much the rest.

L E Case 10:26 AM  

Thx for John Prine! Still grieving.

rené 10:26 AM  

c'est "ceci n'est pas une pipe", merci.

Joaquin 10:27 AM  

@Whatsername - I'm ready. Mrs. J is ready. And our doggie is ready!

Our alma mater never fails to disappoint on Saturday, so Sundays are now a day of redemption for us.

Go Chiefs!

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Deposit might've been less, if the gas prices by your man weren't so ridiculously high

Brian 10:31 AM  

Or you could use the mouse to position the cursor then hit the spacebar

Stephen Minehart 10:32 AM  

This puzzle had me at PAREIDOLIA. What a great word. The many technical inaccuracies, already enumerated by others, don't bother me a whit (nor did this week's metric puzzle). It's a crossword puzzle, not blueprints for a jetliner. I'll gladly trade technical accuracy for theme and and fill variety every day of the week.

About CRETAN. How does that happen? Does Will Shortz pull out three puzzles with the same fill and run them sequentially to provide daily solvers some sort of bonus Easter egg? Does he wake up one day and decide that he loves the word, and then fiddles with the puzzles to include it? Or is it possible that the same word appears randomly three days in the same week, and my brain, built for pareidolia, is perceiving something meaningful in the random?

Barbara S. 10:37 AM  

Well, gosh, I liked this puzzle and thought it was clever. And I do think PAREIDOLIA is connected to emoticons. We can easily read emoticons for what they are now, but when they were new and unfamiliar, it was our ability to make non-faces into faces that made them work. If you scroll down on this list of emoticons, some of the unknown ones toward the bottom require your brain to come up with that pareidoliac push. With the positions and shapes of the punctuation marks plus the fact that they spelled out what they were, this puzzle struck me as an amazing feat of construction that was fun to solve, two things which don’t always go together. I’m not in the least disturbed by the smiley vs. winky face controversy – I’m going with generic vs. specific.

Haven’t thought of PHIL Collins for years and was glad to be reminded of him. I liked his music but I used to have a mondegreen problem with his biggest hit, ”Something in the Air Tonight”, which I always heard as “Something in the Yellow Night.” Take a listen if you’ve nothing better to do.

There was a weirdly large number of men’s first names: PHIL, RON(S), REESE, ARI, NED, EUGENE, EDGAR, HAL, GRAM, MILOS, BERNIE, ELVIS, MEL.

STALAG 17 was one of my mother’s favorite movies. She loved war films (being of the generation that came to adulthood just at the beginning of WWII) and had a lifelong crush on William Holden.

RooMonster 10:46 AM  

Hey All !
Interesting puz. Agree with the Puz Fail group though, as clearly the SEMI COLON makes it a Winky FACE. The PARENTHESIS does connote (is that the correct word?) SMILing, but 🙂 is different than 😉. Or :-) compared to ;-). Like Rex said. Har.

Anyway, second SunPuz in a row that is 22 wide, in case you didn't notice. If your Center Themer is even-lettered, you need either an extra row, or one less row. Could've went with HYPHENS, thereby giving you an odd-letter Center. Heck, theme is already flawed by the non-SMILEYFACE, so why not?

I did enjoy the solve, even if it sounds like I'm PANning the puz. Fun to solve, and a small AHA figuring out PARENTHESIS is one continuous thing, instead of two separate circled letters group.

yd - 0!!!!!!! First time in a looooooooong time for me! I almost forgot what the Crowned B looked like! Took me all day, but hey, 0!

Seven F's - COOL(S)!

Barbara S. 10:53 AM  

Leftover from yesterday –

Thanks to @Whatsername, @bocamp, @Hartley70, @Unknown (2:19 PM), @Frantic Sloth and @TTrimble for getting a kick out of my Lost Trousers Lagoon story. My husband and I had a good laugh last night, reminiscing. @Whatsername – I look forward to your story. @bocamp – you said “anecdote, which I can relate to in a number of ways” – speculation is rife!

Being out here in the place where the bird-in-the-toilet and the canoe incidents happened has made me start writing about life in bucolic eastern Ontario, past and present. I really don't have the time, but when inspiration strikes...

@TTrimble – until you raised it, I’d never given a thought to the inherent hilarity of male nakedness! I feel the premise might warrant examination, but there’s certainly some truth in it. Through most of the history of art, the nude male body is portrayed as an ideal. The Greeks associated male nudity with glory in athletic competition and victory in battle. In the Christian tradition, God made man in his own image. I realize that has a lot to do with the immaterial: rationality and morality. But a glance at the Sistine ceiling will tell you that in art it’s often depicted as perfection of physical form. So, it strikes me as somewhat subversive of us to find comedy in the naked man. (Although let’s face it, the specimens we see in real life mostly don’t resemble the Apollo Belvedere – my husband’s an exception, of course!) We live in a secular age and an age of irony. Our strong men aren’t nude; they wear uniforms, literal and metaphorical: think of the military, sports teams, Supreme Court justices in their robes, CEOs, heads of government and legislators in their suits. So maybe for us the naked man is stripped of his power and is vulnerable – that combination of the ridiculous and the adorable that you were talking about.

Rube 10:56 AM  

I'm sure this was quite a feat to construct, but so what? This is where the solvers and constructors are at loggerheads. I am a solver so the conceit of this puzzle is lost on me. I'd rather have theme clues that are fun than this stuff. That said, this wasn't too bad as a solve, just not much fun.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Rex, your in your first paragraph, the word should be INaninamte. You wrote 'animate' twice, and second time is misquoting the clue.

36D. GRAM is a unit of mass, not weight. I thought we covered this a few days ago?

pabloinnh 11:04 AM  

I have never used an emoticon. I have never used an emoji either. There, I said it. Some of my best friends do, so not prejudiced, just never started and now it's too late.

WINES never occurred to me so I went down and around and filled that one in almost last. Nice doh! moment there.

Fun to learn a new word, and thanks to @JoeD I discover that the Acrostic I was ranting about yesterday was two weeks old. Sounds like today's should be more of a normal undertaking.

Put me in the "likes" crowd. The grid art was inconsequential and the rest of it was smooth enough. Thanks for the Sunday fun, AR. All Right with me.

Nancy 11:05 AM  

STALAG 17 was your mother's favorite movie? You're sure making me feel old, @Barbara S! And, FWIW, I loved William Holden too -- though not nearly as much as Cary Grant.

Joseph Michael 11:38 AM  

Had a SMILEY FACE as I solved this and realized first that there were giant PUNCTUATION MARKs in the grid and second that these marks worked together to form an emoticon. Love the whole concept of PAREIDOLIA and how it reflects our instinct to search for meaning in chaos. Be a pareidoliaist and you’ll never be alone.

Uh oh. My toaster is giving me a funny look.

A couple of BUGABOOS. PHAGE crossing BEENE and I’M OUT in the same grid as FLEW OUT. But the puzzle offered some clever clues, such as “Duck and goose, at times” and some fun answers, such as IT’S A BLUR. I’m not a huge fan of Sundays — I tend to get bored with them halfway through — but this was a decent one ;-)

johnk 11:41 AM  


CDilly52 11:44 AM  

I kind of agree with both the “it is and it isn’t” a theme answer. It is in a theme position but it isn’t clued as a themer. My feeling about pareidolia was close to OFL’s. I personally love the word. It evokes the old Virgin Mary in the grilled cheese sandwich thoughts and may have been the impetus for the whole puzzle. Good, bad or ugly though it be.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

As a relatively new solver, I'd appreciate it if someone could tell me what PPP stands for.

MarthaCatherine 12:00 PM  

I just want to know why BADONKADONK wasn't a valid word on SB today.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  

21x22 extra-large-size puzgrid, with 82 shaded bricks and 147 words. Sooo … more of everything, for yer moneybucks, I reckon.

staff weeject pick: EMO(tic on).

PERIODONTALLY speakin, a fairly cool facesmile of a SunPuz. Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary didn't know squat about that there PAREIDOLIA dealie, tho. So it and M&A learned somethin, there.

I prefer AHA[R]MOMENT, but that's mostly just m&e, I figure.

Took M&A forever to smoke out IFWE. Wanted LETS, then WEVE, then WELL. Lost precious nanoseconds.

Thanx for the character-buildin solvequest, Mr. Rosen dude. It evidently left a mark with @RP. :-)

Masked & Anonymo9Us


TTrimble 12:02 PM  

@Barbara S.
You've definitely put your finger on something. One thinks of the Naked Donald statues, for example.

In much of continental Europe, public nudity hardly seems to be as big of deal as in America. Nude beaches seem much more common over there, and that family members go skinny-dipping together seems very accepted. As a typical American in this day and age, I'm just not comfortable around public nudity, or being naked before anyone except my wife, so whatever I might think on the matter would be colored by that. But clearly I'm not alone!

td 0

Mr. Benson 12:03 PM  

Never heard of a SIN EATER, but now I want to know how to get into that profession.

bocamp 12:04 PM  

@RooMonster (10:46 AM) 👍 for 0

@Barbara S. (10:53 AM) 😂

@pabloinnh (11:04 AM)

Never say never. ;-)

And, yes, I too found the acrostic perfectly engagingly 'normal'.

@Anonymous (11:48 AM)

Something along the lines of personal names, places & pop culture, I think. I don't pay attention to PPP content – the plethora or lack thereof. @Z can give you a better and/or more exact def.


Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Mary McCarty 12:12 PM  

Doesn’t anyone else object to 67A, where the answer HYPHEN is actually included in the clue “Jack-o-lantern”? None of the other PUNCTUATION MARKs are referenced in their clues. clued as “short fast run” would have avoided that, but probably would’ve meant a complete redo. I know, a is not the same as a hyphen, but then, some noses are longer than others. ;—)

Whatsername 12:20 PM  

@Joseph Michael (11:38) “My toaster is giving me a funny look.“ I’m laughing out loud. And I agree with you about boring Sundays. I seldom even look at them but did it on a whim today and it wasn’t so bad.

@Anonymous (11:48) Hopefully there won’t be multiple responses already by the time this gets posted, but PPP stands for product placement, proper names, and pop culture. There’s a theory about how this affects the solving experience but I won’t go into it because I’ll probably get it wrong. @Z is our resident expert; maybe he will expound on the subject at some point.

Trey 12:23 PM  

Several years ago, I bought a tee shirt that showed :): and it was labelled "Schrodinger's Emoticon". Maybe today's puzzle is like that - whether it qualifies as a SMILEY FACE or not depends on how you look at it.

Anonymous 11:48 PPP - Pop culture, Proper nouns and Places is what I was told a few days ago when I asked.

@Tom T 9:47 a - a theater mask, or a COVID mask? The second might be "too soon"

@Teedmn 10:04 - I also had FOod instead of FORK, and then had the AHAMOMENT that the FORK was left side of the place setting, until I just realized that it is to the right side of the plate, until I looked it up and found that only the seafood FORK is on the right side, which is why I should never set up a table

Aphid Larue 12:33 PM  

An innovation. I solve on newsprint, and the shaded/circled markings have often disappeared by the time I get to them. Today I put a red dot in each circled square right at the beginning. Helped a lot.

I enjoyed the puzzle, new word, and discussion

Frantic Sloth 12:47 PM  

@TTrimble 858am Would you look at that! You discovered me making a mistake. Alert the media. 🤣 :-D Oddly, I did understand your emojiphobiaemoticonphilia, but sometimes, too, it's fun to yank your chain. You may have noticed. 😘 (I got emoticonothing)

@Joseph Michael 1138am 🤣 Don't worry about the toaster - your real worry should be the cat who probably positioned it that way as a distraction. 😉

@MarthaCatherine 1200pm That's the first word I tried!

Birchbark 12:56 PM  

The PAREIDOLIA works for me: I see a SMILEY FACE in the winky face.

82D clue ("Amp knob"): There's nary a TREBLE knob on my Savage Macht 6 tube amp. Only Volume, Tone, Speed and Depth (those last two for adjusting tremolo). At the right adjustment it's better than an onion for bringing up tears.

From the unmitigated-disaster-of-epic-proportions desk (© @Joe DiPinto 12:39 a.m.) -- We are moments away from the first Vikings game of the regular season. I am heading down to the Brookside Tavern to witness it.

CDilly52 12:58 PM  

Not a bad Sunday; I learned PHAGE. I learned PAREIDOLIA in the 5th grade when there was some big story that emerged about The Shroud of Turin and my wonderful teacher, Miss Shepherd, who never missed a teaching moment, introduced it to the class.

She really pushed the power of word and importance of communication. I admit a great deal of shameless sucking up to this marvelous teacher and kindred spirit! She also taught me about mnemonic devices (another fabulous word, mnemonic).

The Shroud story was all over the local news and kids just absorb things by osmosis. I kept hearing the story on the news, but didn’t really explore it with any of the adults at my house for whatever reason.

One Friday during our current events class (yes, Miss Shepherd had us reading stories from national news in our school library throughout each week and on Fridays everyone got to share their thoughts and ask questions about current events. That’s when the Shroud story bubbled up to the front of my brain.

I asked how it could happen and Miss S honestly said “that’s the question,” or something like it. She said the phenomenon was called PAREIDOLIA, and scientists and religious scholars were all studying the story and the Shroud. I remember she used the word “phenomenon” and she took a beat to ask if anyone knew the word. My “helium hand” proudly shot up, probably to the groans of some of my classmates. So sue me, I loved learning and words even as a kid.

Anyway, I became obsessed with the story and other similar examples of PAREDOLIA, but couldn’t remember the word correctly. So one day after class, Miss S told me to make up a mnemonic device. And I did. This phenomenon forever became a “pair o’ doilies.” High point today was seeing this in a crossword!

Otherwise, the puzzle was an extraordinary feat of construction that may have been more fun for Mr. Rosen than for me, but kudos to him for bringing me a funny memory and putting all those parts together as a theme for such a great word.

bocamp 1:02 PM  

@Anonymous (11:48 AM)

Did what I should have initially done, gone back a few days to see exactly what @Z's def. is: "Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns."

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Sharon AK 1:07 PM  

@Joe Dipinto It is often seen as one word menswear, without apostrophe etc. just as shown in the clue.

Frantic Sloth 1:18 PM  

@CDilly52 1258pm Brava! And thank you for "pair o' doilies" - hope it works for me, too! 🤞
Now, if I could just find a PAREIDOLIA in a pair of doilies...other than these, which are meh. @bocamp? (he finds everything)

old timer 1:32 PM  

I liked the puzzle, and forgive me if I already posted. I solve in the Magazine, so it was impossible to ROTATE CLOCKWISE or any other WISE. The circles just are a BLUR on a Sunday. Had they been shaded squares in the weekday papers, might have worked.

Of course, like any parent, when I finished the puzzle I was singing to myself:

I'm a little teapot short and stout
Here is my handle, here is my SPOUT.

IM OUT now. Maybe I'll go have a MIMOSA. Or likely some GIN product!

Silasxl 1:33 PM  

Since when is a "hall" a "room?"

What? 1:36 PM  

I’m surprised the Moderator has allowed this screed against a company’s supposed bad behavior (“supposed” because there’s no space for a “your witness”). There are places for consumer complaints - a crossword blog is not one of them. I would even extend this to much personal stuff as TMI.

Susan 1:43 PM  

What does PPP stand for? Google failed me on this one

Joseph Michael 2:00 PM  

@Frantic 12:47pm. I don’t have a cat. It’s definitely the toaster and it’s mad about something. The microwave seems to be in a similar mood.

Teedmn 2:10 PM  

@Trey, thanks for my second aha moment of the day. The scalpels go on the left with the pitchforks, Igor, Igor...

@TTrimble 8:58, I had a similar technical glitch doing the Acrostic on my iPad yesterday. Just one letter, a K, refused to fill in no matter where I tried to place it. I eventually sighed and hit Reveal, at which point it splatzed itself in. :-(

Frantic Sloth 2:12 PM  

@Joseph Michael 200pm 🤣 Well, I didn't say it had to be your cat... 😉 I am curious, though, about what offense you might have committed against these appliances... You might have to move if/when the refrigerator blinks.

Joe Dipinto 2:15 PM  

Well it seems there was another Mistaaaaake! today, at least in the early print edition, at 21d. @Sharon AK's 1:07 post caused me to recheck my copy, and, just as I remembered it, the clue reads "What can make men swear from men's wear?"

Ergo my 2:24am comment makes no sense if your version of the clue ends with "menswear" instead of "men's wear". I see XWord Info has it that way, which one would assume is correct.

Oy vey.

Paul Bridson 2:22 PM  

My thought exactly!

Ω 2:25 PM  

Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns

In a Commentariat Day long long ago and far far away I was expounding on how wonderful a Saturday puzzle I solved was and how wonderful it was that it had so little pop culture in it. Later that day @OISK, who always amazed me how little pop culture he knew and still managed to solve puzzles, complained heartily about the excess of pop culture. Thus began a period of daily counting of all the clues and answers and checking the comments. From that process, and more or less confirmed whenever I’ve checked since, it’s very clear that when PPP is 33% or more of the puzzle we will see the Wheelhouse/Outhouse effect. That is, if the PPP is in somebody’s wheelhouse they will find the puzzle and likely praiseworthy. Others not so familiar with the PPP that day will opine that the puzzle should be left in the outhouse.

@René - Do I look like Magritte? But, yeah, should have gone with “ceci.”

@Silasxl - Since 1943, apparently.

@11:01 - Irony much?

Paul Bridson 2:26 PM  

Pop Culture, Product Names and Proper nouns if memory serves. ;-)

Paul Bridson 2:29 PM  

Well, there’s “the halls of Montezuma”, unless they’re singing about Robert and Florence Hall of Montezuma Iowa.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

I don’t think that swearing is a vice. Am I wrong?

thefogman 3:02 PM  

Agree with Rex. It could have and should have been winkyFACE. The editor is really letting things slide lately.

Cyclist227 3:04 PM  

I feel the same way about Will Shortz as I do abu that other NYT mainstay: David Brooks. I just wish the two of them woould go away, already. You've had nice runs. Time to move on. I start my Sunday';s hearing Shortz and his dumb puzzles on NPR Sundays and then havr to ddeal with his Sunday puzzle, which always disapoints. Nothing clever here. My favorite puzzle of the week as of now is the New Yorker's Monday puzzle.

Joseph Michael 3:21 PM  

@Frantic 2:12pm. It’s funny you should mention the refrigerator. I just noticed that it is looking at me with a frowny face.

TTrimble 3:26 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
You're welcome to yank anytime. A permission I extend only to nearest and dearest, however. :-D

@Joe D
Just confirming that the online version does have "menswear". (Maybe this was covered already?) Is that even a word? Seems like a good candidate for logoddity.

Thumbs up to @bocamp. :-)

How many of you want to put a smiley face within parentheses, but back down because (... :-)) doesn't look good? I have a friend who does this: (... (-: ). Works for me!

GILL I. 3:27 PM  

Just got back from the Farmer's Market...I read @CDilly 52 and yell out "FABUJOYOUS."
I will now take out my two chocolate eclairs, nesting on a "pair-o-doilies", and eat them with relish.

Hartley70 3:43 PM  

The existential reason for this puzzle is SINEATER and PAREIDOLIA. I want a SINEATER of my very own and as soon as possible so I can misbehave with impunity. I’m getting tired of loving my neighbors and their cockamamie ideas. PAREIDOLIA just makes me happy because I want more practice at seeing things that aren’t there. Cue “Twilight Zone” theme song.

NY Composer 3:56 PM  

Ok, the smiley face answer is unacceptable.
But c’mon. This was clearly a super-easy family style puzzle. A good one for kids or non serious puzzlers, which is just fine once in a while. Didn’t pretend to be a serious event.

It’s like the old Leave it to Beaver TV show. Watch it with your kids and don’t think too hard about it.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

My copy of the Times also says "what can make men swear from men's wear", and I also thought that was a stupid way to word the clue.

Glad they got around to correcting it. My guess is that the original version of the clue said menswear, and then some copy editor "fixed" it.


Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Oh, and "weh" means pain in German, even though vey means woe in Yiddish. Got derailed and spent too much time trying to think of a 3-letter synonym for pain.


Joe Dipinto 5:21 PM  

@Villager (Anon) 4:23 – My guess is autocorrect changed it and no one noticed before it was too late.

pabloinnh 5:25 PM  

@bocamp-Interesting to think that you can't say never say never without saying never. Anyway, I found the Acrostic to be the old friend I used to know, which was nice. Clues more than made up for the slightly florid quote. Fun stuff.

Ken Freeland 5:27 PM  

People (usually show biz/fashion/music/sports personalities you likely don't even want to know about

Places (you've never heard of and will never visit)

Proper Nouns (usually esoteric also)

Ken Freeland 5:32 PM  

Try to "swear" it off for a month and then you will understand your error...

Ken Freeland 5:32 PM  


Ken Freeland 5:38 PM  

oops, my bad... close but no cigar... see other replies for correct answer

Brian 5:42 PM  

Or you can position using the spacebar (!)

bocamp 6:09 PM  

@pabloinnh (5:25 PM)

Good one! I do try to avoid the word for the most part. Obvi, my usage (which you cited) was a tolerable exception, imo. :-)

Thx, again, for helping me get started with the acrostic. I've managed to correctly finish all of them (so far 🤞). :)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Legume 6:16 PM  

I want a SINEATER of my very own and as soon as possible so I can misbehave with impunity.

Really??? You must not be Catholic: "sin all week, be cleared on Sunday. repeat." That's how we Protestants viewed the Papists.

Ketch much? 99.44% of people who listen to music have an Integrated Amp, with tone controls. .5% have a preamp/Amp set, with tone controls (some with an equalizer). The rest of us have straight-wire-with-gain jobbies that don't even have Balance. Headphone amps most often only have a volume pot. Mine is valves (5751/12B4A... open anodes light up the room) with a CKD 25mm (not the one shipped) volume pot, which costs more than the headphone section of your average Big Box Store integrated or receiver.

Liz1508 6:23 PM  

I liked it! Lots of good clues. I was asking my husband about what could annoy a man about men’s wear??? When the tighty whities give the man a wedgie? And he was seriously trying to help me when I “got it” and told him the answer. HE got annoyed!!! “I don’t know how you put up with that crap” he said (meaning crossword clues). He liked the duck and goose clue though.
Thanks for the fun puzzle and many laughs on many levels. While reading this blog for sure! Best Sunday in quite a while IMO. ;-)

pabloinnh 6:51 PM  


I'm sure you know I'm just fooling around there. Almost never do that.

Way go go on the acrostics. I can almost quote the first one I ever finished, something about Lake Tahoe being so clear you could see a beer can fifty feet down. You never forget your first time, even if it was over fifty years ago.

JC66 6:55 PM  

It seems the .puz link isn't working for tomorrow's puzzles.

bocamp 7:32 PM  

@pabloinnh (6:51 PM)

I did enjoy the aptness of your humor, and the first SMILEY FACE was intended to be a 'winky FACE' to indicate that. (hoisted on my own petard was I) ;-) You could have used the same emoticon at the end of your first sentence, but you made a vow not to do so, ever. ;-)

Love the way you slipped 'almost never' and 'never forget' into your post. Well said! :)

My memory is not on a par with yours; I confess, I don't remember anything about my first acrostic. :(

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

Everyone intrigued by the sin-eater clue should watch the Night Gallery episode "The Sins of the Fathers" starring Richard Thomas, arguably the best episode of the series
and one of his best performances. Just terrifying.

sixtyni yogini 8:20 PM  

Agree completely w/ Rex. I knew/know pareidolia - and it SO does not work in context of puzzle - (but loved seeing it IN the 🧩❤️🧩.

Birchbark 9:40 PM  

@Legume (6:16) -- But where's the TREBLE knob?

Thanks to your very entertaining post, I learned about straight wire with gain: "Always a trade off, never a free lunch."

Joe Dipinto 9:53 PM  

Off @Rextopic for a sec —

For anyone familiar with posting comments on the Times's Wordplay column: does it take inordinately long for comments to appear sometimes? I posted in the Acrostic section a little over 2 hours ago, I was immediately notified that my comment was accepted, and the Comments tally immediately went up from 25 to 26, but so far my post hasn't shown up. Just wondering if this is typical...

noparking 10:04 PM  

Love that your husband got annoyed.

kitshef 10:28 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - Yes, the delay for the Acrostic column is long. Basically "conversation" there is impossible, as every comment is moderated. And unlike the crossword comments, Acrostic comments seem to be very low priority for them.

#JC66 - yes, a real bummer on the .puz workaround not working.

mmorgan 10:42 PM  

For Monday: Is the AcrossLite puz file now FINALLY unavailable?? So sad. Just solved in their stupid app and I spent the whole time struggling with it, I finished but I couldn’t focus on the puzzle at all. Took me at least 3-4 times longer. Yes I know I can and will get used to it but I may not bother and just cancel. AcrossLite is just so much easier. It’s nice we had this respite but…. AUGHHHH!!!!

mmorgan 10:44 PM  

Oh and it looks like Puzzazz is also no longer possible either. An outrage, I tell you, an outrage! I am distraught.

egsforbreakfast 11:09 PM  

I’m surprised at the nitpicking about today’s puzzle. A lot of commenters don’t seem to understand how crosswords work. The clues often only suggest an answer via a tenuous, but real, thread that can be followed by the diligent. They don’t necessarily represent a full and indisputable mapping of the answer. I know that this sort of argument has fallen on deaf ears forever, but today just seemed more full of self-satisfied “gotchas” for the constructor and editor than usual. I’m confident that Alex Rosen and Will Shortz understand the distinction between Smiley Face and Winkey Face. If you solved the puzzle, you know, deep down, that you weren’t editing the OED. You were playing a game.

Sorry to vent. In the end, I think that this puzzle wasn’t Anna Karenina, but it was still very good, somewhere around The Color Purple. The one difficulty I would point out is that on many mobile devices,, such as my iPad, you can’t rotate without changing the settings. Otherwise the screen will just keep adjusting to the new orientation.

okanaganer 2:19 AM  

@mmorgan -- agree re puz. I decided to skip Monday; frustrated enough with other things to deal with it. Tomorrow we'll see how I feel. Not very positive feelings for NYT right now.

CDilly52 10:50 AM  

@Silaxsl 1:33-
While I much prefer @Paul Bridson’s take and wish Robert and Florence well out there in Monteza IA, mansions and palaces often had/have(?) gigantic gathering rooms or huge areas in which to be “received” near the front entrance called “halls.” I personally found it pretentious and insisted that we simply call it the “larger ballroom.” 🥴

nyc_lo 1:43 PM  

Second vote for the creepy Night Gallery episode, The SIN EATER. It’s the only other place that I’ve ever heard that reference, and it added a small note of interest to an otherwise dull Sunday. So dull, the epic fail of SMILEY FACE went right over my head. Maybe that’s what they were counting on.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

Could someone please explain the clue to ODES? Is it a literary reference?

Burma Shave 12:39 PM  


ESTER INAREAs how WE treat her:
take your SMILEYFACE and ROTATE,


rondo 1:31 PM  

Poet: William Wordsworth

Poet: Allen Tate

Poet: John Keats

Poet: Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poet: John Keats

RONS answer to @anon 6:32 - "To . . . " things
Get it now?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP