Civil rights activist Baker / SUN 10-10-21 / Natasha Boris's partner against Rocky and Bullwinkle / Similar-sounding phrase, such as "I scream" for "ice cream" / Magazine co-founded in 1945 by Hélène Gordon Lazareff / Ancient work that describes the sacred tree Yggdrasil / Matricidal figure of Greek myth / Floating terror of the sea / Place to develop one's chops

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Constructor: Brandon Koppy

Relative difficulty: Mediumish

THEME: Clue: The Movie — movie titles used as clues (they are meant to be taken relatively literally):

Theme answers:
  • PSYCHOANALYSIS (23A: "Field of Dreams")
  • G.I. JOES (26A: "Guys and Dolls") (?)
  • THE RED CARPET (38A: "Star Trek") (the "stars" are celebs who "trek" across the carpet)
  • T-SHIRT CANNON (50A: "Top Gun")
  • KANJI (66A: "Letters from Iwo Jima")
  • SIMON SAYS (67A: "The Imitation Game")
  • BORON (69A: "The Fifth Element")
  • BINGE-WATCHER (84A: "A Man for All Seasons")
  • CHANEL NO. FIVE (97A: "Scent of a Woman") (sorry men / NBs!)
  • GOTHAM (113A: "Wayne's World") (so, Bruce Wayne)
  • "FLY ME TO THE MOON" (114A: "Space Jam")
Word of the Day: ELLA Baker (47D: Civil rights activist Baker) —

Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. In New York City and the South, she worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du BoisThurgood MarshallA. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King Jr. She also mentored many emerging activists, such as Diane NashStokely Carmichael, and Bob Moses, as leaders in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Baker criticized professionalizedcharismatic leadership; she promoted grassroots organizingradical democracy, and the ability of the oppressed to understand their worlds and advocate for themselves. She realized this vision most fully in the 1960s as the primary advisor and strategist of the SNCC. Baker has been called "one of the most important American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement." She is known for her critiques of both racism in American culture and sexism in the civil rights movement. (wikipedia)

• • •

What you have here is a really good title and, wow, just nothing else. Not a laugh, not a smile, not even a half-smile, ironic smile, nothing. Just a lot of sighs. Some struggling, much sighing. The answers are such tremendous let-downs every time, primarily because it's fun to remember movies but it's not so much fun to have them literalized to pedestrian **** like BORON. The very best of them had me thinking, "oh, I see what you did there," and that should not be peak reaction to a wacky puzzle. And oof, ORONYM / SMS, I'm still cringing over that yucky mash-up (22A: Similar-sounding phrase, such as "I scream" for "ice cream"). Thank god for the -NYM suffix because I totally forgot what letter was in the middle of SMS (would've guessed "D," LOL). Some of the themers had me going "???" like GIJOES for ["Guys and Dolls"] ... they're male dolls? Is that it? They're just dolls. Some dolls are action figures. Some dolls are male. The "and" thing is just weird. Are KANJI "letters"? I think of them as characters? Is that the same thing? Further, what is "Letters from Iwo Jima"? (I really hate war movies so unless it's super duper famous, I have no idea). CHANEL NO. FIVE looks really bad in the grid, since you nail the "NO." abbr. (part of the actual title) but then you write out "FIVE," which, this is crosswords, I get it, you kinda have to, but it's just jarring, esp. when you did the "NO." part so nice. I think binge-watching is a thing, but BINGE-WATCHER feels off / bad. All the "jokes" in the theme clues ... I feel like they're the kind of thing where someone tells the joke and then immediately explains it, or goes, "huh, right? pretty clever, right?" They're all slightly thinky and not at all funny. And ARIOSE, yuck (13D: Melodious), wow, that whole NE corner really is a disaster, fill-wise. Why would you "test" someone's ability to put on EYESHADOW? (16D: Part of a makeup test?) Is there a cosmetology context I'm missing? This puzzle feels like it's flailing.

Why is there a "?" on the LAP CAT clue (1D: Pet that should come with a lint roller?). What play on words am I missing? This is more not-very-clever direct observation than it is witticism. [Gave] is a very weird substitute for TOLD TO (81A: Gave, as gossip). I can see someone's shouting "Give!" when they want you to dish, but it doesn't really translate to "Tell to!" I don't remember "Toy Story 2" so AL'S Toy Barn? Pfft, no idea. Forgot about ABUJA, too, which is a much more serious failing on my part (77D: City that replaced Lagos as Nigeria's capital). Worse, much worse: I had the "A" and wrote in ACCRA (all the while thinking, "I really thought that was in Ghana..."). ANTBEETLE is pure wordlist word. See also PANELSAW. Things that no one would ever think of unless the software suggested them. Bah hum... bug. The clue on INERTIA is corny (91D: Reason the physicist stayed in bed?). What is with the exceedingly low-grade comedy on these "?" clues? Trying to find the fun parts of this puzzle, and I just end up back at the title. It's apt, and cute. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:02 AM  


Zed 12:14 AM  

I imagine they love ORONYMs in Maine.*

LAPCAT felt like they all realized what a horrid answer it was and they tried to fool us by giving it a cutesy clue.

A faux (mostly) PPP theme since you don’t have to know the movies to get the clue answers. Four of the themers are still PPP, but not because of the movie in the clue.

Hand up for Accra off the A.

Pretty much with Rex that the theme answers just aren’t that amusing. But the NYTX often errs on the side of tepid. It why indy puzzles are frequently better.

*If you understand this joke you do too many crossword puzzles.

Frantic Sloth 12:16 AM  

Is there some kind of specific relationship between "jerkface" and
MEANIE that I don't know? Like something in current pop culture or the like? Because otherwise, I just don't see the special connection.

Yeah. Didn't know KANJI because oh, hell - you all know why.

AT ease before AT HOME because I didn't focus enough on "perfectly"...I suppose.

@Z Avert your eyes because I'm gonna ask a question without spending 47 seconds on Google.
Isn't the MITRE a bishop's hat? I thought the cardinals wore that little red yarmulke-thing, which I always found adorable for some reason.

Favorite clue/answer: "Trimmed parts of green beans"/ ENDS. The brilliance is blinding with that one.

The theme grew on me as I revisited the themers. Took a while to fully appreciate TSHIRTCANNON as a "Top Gun" because I was putting the emphasis on "gun" when it should be on "top". All the others made more sense to me, but now I think this one's my favorite.

Overall, a fun solve with a few raised eyebrows here and there because I just didn't "get it" at times, but whatevs. It kept me out of dark alleys for a while.

🧠🧠/🧠🧠🧠🧠 (another of those ridiculously easy to ridiculously difficult grids)

EdFromHackensack 12:19 AM  

took me forever to unwind my initial entry of Santa Ana before MONSOONS. geez. and ORONYM and ARIOSE can just bite me.

Zed 12:51 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - Wowser - Other than that Cardinals are also usually Bishops, I think you’re right. I thought maybe there was something specific about the Anglican Church that would make the clue okay, but it looks like somebody didn’t error check the puzzle closely enough. Cardinals don’t seem to ever wear MITREs.

@Albatross shell late - The constructors age isn’t the point. Learning his age just made more likely what I already suspected, that the constructor likely doesn’t know the term from personal experience. There are more Americans playing ultimate than there are Americans in the Navy. Hence, it is more likely that August has run across “io flick” than the term in the puzzle.

alona 1:21 AM  

I thought PSYCHOANALYSIS was nice for “Field of Dreams” but otherwise, yeah, lots of forced and obscure stuff. Bummer. Honestly can’t see how ORONYM came to have that meaning: it should have been something -phone. What does -nym have to do with it?

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

No one else thought ORESTES crossed with TOILE was pretty terrible? Unless TOILE is crossword-ese I haven't seen before

I enjoyed MORONS crossed with IDIOT

Joaquin 2:16 AM  

Until doing this puzzle I had never heard the word ORONYM. Now I realize I am one!

I was named for my Mexican uncle who had no car and no bus fare.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Hate when I agree with OFL, but I sure did today. What a slog-a-thon. Almost pulled a @Nancy half way through and crumpled it up to throw against her dented wall, but I persevered and finished the dang thing. Shouldn’t have.
T SHIRT CANNON was the only smile of the lot.
Sorry Brandon, I didn’t intend to be a MEANIE.

Loren Muse Smith 2:56 AM  

Rex. C’mon. Seriously? “Not a laugh, not a smile, not even a half-smile, ironic smile, nothing. Just a lot of sighs.” Speak for yourself, man.

The clues for the themers stunned me. How can anyone look at “Star Trek” / THE RED CARPET and not at least smile? This one was where I finally saw it, and I whooped. Scooched deeper into the couch, muted CNN and settled in to suss out all of them. “Top Gun” for T-SHIRT CANNON is beyond brilliant; it should be in the clue/entry hall of fame. See also “Field of Dreams” for PSYCHOANALYSIS and “Space Jam” for FLY ME TO THE MOON. When I finished, I went back and admired each one again. And then again.

Honestly, I thought this would be a run-away hit for everyone, even Rex, and I thought his main beef would be the two SAYS occurrences.

Two mistakes really mucked things up for me

* misread 35A as “farm girl,” so I had “sow” there.

* “esse” for NESS (as in politesse, largesse). I had a wrong S for the final 76a “spirits.”

I knew ORONYM (Hi, @Bruce Haight)! A couple of my favorites: Dairy Air, nude eel, stuff he knows. (I made up one of my own that would be a good slogan for a petting zoo: its ewes are friendly.)

I kinda agree that BINGE-WATCHER is less in-the-language than binge-watching, but I like it and may add it into the rotation. Mom and I so far have been Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey BINGE-WATCHERs.

“Small things you pluck” – those two pesky white chin hairs as thick as a pencil lead that just keep coming back.

“Exasperated parent” is pretty much redundant. Mom and I were watching a Hallmark movie yesterday, and the male lead gushed that the painting reminded him of snow days as a kid, when his mom would warm huge blankets by the fire and have hot cocoa at the ready for when he and his brother came back inside. I turned to Mom and said, “See? This is why I want to live inside a Hallmark movie. YOU locked us out on snow days.” (No. Really. She locked both entries to our house on Ozark Circle behind my sisters and me as we headed out, little automatons in our bulky snowsuits.) We both cracked up. She says she doesn’t remember but could certainly imagine it, given that we were constantly in and out and in and out… until she’d had enough. I remember one time Eric Newman led me around trying to help me find a patch of sunlight in Mrs. Greek’s backyard because I was so cold I was crying. I was probably just crying ‘cause I had been outsmarted by Mom.

Brandon – disregard the negative stuff here. They’re wrong and I’m right. This puzzle was an utter delight from start to finish, and I won’t forget it for a long time.

Anonymous 3:08 AM  

Wayne's World is bad. All the other clues reference more concrete things, not other movies/media.

okanaganer 3:25 AM  

I really liked this. So okay the theme clues were sometimes more vivid than the answers, but that doesn't bother me so much. Srsly Rex, you gotta laugh for T SHIRT CANNON == "top gun"!

My low point was PANEL SAW. I'm into woodwork, but I've never used one. Don't even know what it looks like!

{SB: saturday PG -2; abrupt end of my 11 day QB streak with 2 8 letter words unfound. Just not into it tonight; I had the LA vs SF game to watch on PVR and did so. Kinda relieved that it's over, honestly. Not the MLB series, just my SB streak. Sigh.]

jae 4:10 AM  

Medium. KANJI and ANUJA were WOEs but the crosses were fair. I’m with @lms on this one and so is Jeff at Xwordinfo where it was POW.

Anonymous 4:33 AM  

First time, 100% agree with this blog. Just splat. There it is, now clean it up.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

Last few weeks the Sundays have toughened. I like it. Sunday has a rep to uphold – that being a puzzle that’s somewhat of a bear – and, IMO, for quite a while, in general, it was falling short of that. Back on track now, and please keep it up, NYT!

Abby Friedman 6:44 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - I don't think Church of England (Anglicans/Episcopalians in the US) has Cardinals?

I'm so, so tired of seeing Coco Chanel in the puzzle. Why do we still advertise for a known Nazi?

Lewis 6:49 AM  

Just off, just out-of-the-box in answers and clues – enough to keep me caroming about the grid like a pinball from beginning to end, to which I say wow, what fun, what a novel feel to the solve. This was quirky in the best sense, and led to a herky-jerky solve, in the best sense.

And the puns in the theme answers – most of them – were “Hah!”-ers, superior to groaners. My favorites – [Guys and Dolls] for GI JOES, [Star Trek] for THE RED CARPET, [TOP GUN] for TSHIRT CANNON, [A Man for All Seasons] for BINGE WATCHER, and [Wayne’s World] for GOTHAM – rose well above dad-joke territory, IMO. That is, they weren’t just puns to appreciate, but rather to enjoy, puns to bow down to.

Brandon put in 13 NYT debut answers (wow!), my favorites being BINGE WATCHER, FLUMES, IN ONE’S DNA, PELOTON, and THE RED CARPET.

For all the above reasons, this puzzle radiated with personality, and the puzzle went down very, very well for me. I loved it, and you are definitely on my RADAR, Brandon. Thank you!

Novice DIYer 6:57 AM  

@Okananager. I did not know what a panel saw was either. So, hoping to learn something, I asked Google to tell me. It turns out I have seen one. The Home Depot has one to size.........well, panels. I have made use of this service. I just didn't know the name.

Colin 7:16 AM  

This was a medium for me, all the way around. The NE corner was a problem, yes. I even looked up ORONYM in my humongous Random House Dictionary, and it ain't there. "INONESDNA" was my wife's big contribution to that corner, as was GIJOES (which I think is guys playing with dolls).

Of the themers, I liked PSYCHOANALYSIS, THEREDCARPET, TSHIRTCANNON, and CHANELNOFIVE best. GOTHAM was an "a-h-h" kind of answer. KANJI - characters, yes; letters, no - so a bit of a stretch, what are you gonna do. BORON is the fifth element, but agree there's nothing kooky about this.

Why is there a comma in the clue for 4A (... 1,0^82 of them)?

bocamp 7:21 AM  

Thx Brandon, for an extremely challenging, engaging Sun. puz! :)

Flat out hard.

This one took lots of patience and persistence. Had to pause it once to regain my composure. Like a bball timeout, but with 'the inner coach' providing the pep talk.

No rhyme nor reason to the progression on this one. Employed, as another blogger says, 'the trampoline' technique.

I had so many rewrites; just on a far-away wavelength.

SB words, PELOTON & ALLELE were very useful, the former helping to get KANJI, which was an unknown.

Had IDIOtS for IDIOMS, d'oh; turned out to be a malapop (thx ACME).

Knowing BORON right off, provided all I needed for the crosses there.

My mnemonic for the number 5 is 'L', and by extension, 'Law'. I visualize a police officer scrubbing the sidewalk in front of the station house, using Boraxo, hence Boron for 'The Fifth Element' of the periodic table.

Last cell to fill was the cross of AMA & ABUJA. Fortunately 'Ask Me Anything' finally came to mind.

Coincidence: heard ABUJA mentioned on the audiobook I'm listening to, shortly after finishing the puz.

Very happy to have successfully completed this (for me) tough solve. :)

In spite of all the trials and tribs, liked this one a lot! :)

@okanaganer (3:25 AM)

What a great run! :)

yd 0 / td pg -15 (in reg time)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

mmorgan 7:27 AM  

@Frantic — agree totally on ENDS. How did they come up with that?

@Anon 3:08 — I thought Wayne’s World was one of the better ones.

BunnyR 7:41 AM  

@Joaquin - that's hilarious! Loved it!

T Shirt Cannon was far and away my favorite theme answer. Laughed and laughed.

Never heard of an oronym, and I was an English major. Sigh...

JJ 7:45 AM  

Can’t believe the negative review! So much cleverness in the theme answers especially with TOP GUN and STAR TREK. Loved it
I also got a kick out of the oronymic Joaquin.

Son Volt 7:55 AM  

We see so many of these reinterpretive themes - this one had a a little splash but overall just can’t hold up to the Sunday sized grid. Liked THE RED CARPET and GOTHAM. A coworker explained to be the other day that he is a BINGE WATCHER - so there’s that Rex.

EDENIC and SHARERS are just bad. I knew all the crosswardese so the TOILE cross and ALLELE etc were fill-ins. Spelling Bee wouldn’t take ORONYM a few weeks ago.

It’s about upper management in the church. The pope is a cardinal, all cardinals are bishops - they all wear hats including the MITRE. The yarmulke look alike is the zucchetto; the typical three or five peak flat hat is the biretta and the tall dunce cap is the MITRE. Growing up - we had a bishop in our parish and the archbishop or cardinal would often visit to say mass. So as an altar boy - you learned all the hat lingo. The clue here is awkward implying the British spelling is MITRE.

Very pedestrian like Sunday solve.

WestBay 8:04 AM  


WestBay 8:09 AM  

You said it. Weekdays have gotten a bit harder, too, as has the Spelling Bee. Used to be a genius, not any more. Guess that's life ..

SouthsideJohnny 8:22 AM  

More of a slogfest than usual today - about half of the themers just lie there. The rest of it is a mismatch of foreign stuff, film directors, and of course they included some just flat out made-up stuff (see EDENIC, for example).

Just in one small section, you have ORONYM crossing ARIOSE and SMS (yea, this is really captivating stuff, I know) along with a total nothing-buger of GI JOES - the clue for which is atrocious. Someone should tell the NYT crossword team that mediocre is not acceptable.

puzzlehoarder 8:32 AM  

This was quite a minefield of potential dnfs. Sundays always ARE but this one really went out of its way. I got through this successfully until the very last square. The initialism crossed with the Nigerian capital was a complete WOE. Maybe because we just had IBO the letter I looked good to me. That was the only cross that came down to an actual guess and of course I guessed wrong.

ELLA crossed with KANJI didn't count as a guess since ELLE was already in the puzzle. While ELLE was unlikely for 47D I really wouldn't know KENJI from KANJI.

As always I enjoy brushing up on the obscure entries in Sunday puzzles, after they're done, more than I do solving them.

I'd like to coin a new term for todays theme clues and entries. BORONYMS seems right because boring and groan inducing is just what they are.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

So glad not to be alone on this one. From the already noted wrong hat on the bishop's head to the painful twisting required to get some of the theme clues to "work" (although they didn't) to the fill that relied on obscure words and painfully unfunny gags, this was one unpleasant, joy-free slog. "Guys and Dolls" does not equal GIJOE; guys and dolls are two things and GI Joe is one thing--a guy doll. A cameo is not a MINORROLE--it's a brief appearance by someone famous in a film, e.g., the three-second shots of Hitchcock in his own movies, getting on a bus, walking a dog. IRAIL. KANJI. PANELSAW. ANTBEETLE. How is PIGTAIL a "weave off the shoulder?" And, as someone already noted, a MEANIE is not the same thing as a jerkface? Jerkface alone is a bad enough clue (who has ever used that term other than 11-year-old boys?), but to tie it to a word it has no relationship with?

Just terrible. I no longer look forward to the Sunday puzzle because it's usually not great. But this one? Put it out of its misery.

jfpon 9:02 AM  

As for legitimacy of MITRE see

As for the puzz, challenging but delightfully clued themers more than made up the more arcane bits of fill.

kitshef 9:07 AM  

ATOMS are small. How small?

If, from the moment you were born, someone gave you one million atoms every second of your life, then by the time you reach 100 years old, you would accumulate less then one one-hundredth of one percent of the number of atoms in a single grain of sand.

BTW the clue for 4A is misleading. The number given is an estimate for atoms in the observable universe. The entire universe may be much larger, potentially infinite.

I thought the theme and reimaginings of the titles were creative and entertaining.

kitshef 9:09 AM  

On an unrelated note, in my travels through the NYT archives I just completed the puzzle from January 9, 1994. It was highly entertaining.

amyyanni 9:20 AM  

Liked it. The alternative movie titles are mostly on my humor wavelength. Also yes, @LMS, to those few pesky chin hairs. Hate 'em. Hoping for a lazy Sunday and a great game later this afternoon. Good Sundays, everyone.

RJ 9:43 AM  

Mostly agree with Rex

Please explain "Syllables when you forget the words" - is that suppose to be la la la ? Ums or ers, yes. La la las - no

Nancy 10:12 AM  

To turn Lady MacBeth upside down:

What's undone can't be done!
To bed, to bed!"

(Except I just got up.)

What's undone is much of the NE and the SW. And I say to hell with both of them. All those unknown crossing Naticky proper names. I put circles around all of those clues -- but now find myself too tired and dispirited to bother to identify them. You'll have to take my word for it.

But that's not the only problem. Recently we had a puzzle also based on movie titles -- but one in which one movie title dovetailed so neatly, so unexpectedly, so exquisitely with a different movie title that it seemed truly serendipitous. Every such pairing brought a loud "Aha!!!" How did the constructor ever come up with that, I wondered? It was a fabulous puzzle.

In the same way, this puzzle is not. Here the connections are highly tenuous, sloppy even. "Star Trek" = THE RED CARPET??? Why? "Top Gun" = TSHIRT CANNON??? If you insist. How would I describe this puzzle in three words? That's easy. "A real mess."

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

In the ORONYM department: one of the Beat poets, I forget which one, used to refer to his publisher, New Directions, as Nude Erections.

DaS 10:13 AM  

I disagree with Mitre. I always think of Cardinals wearing the small red cap. Not a Mitre. Didn't enjoy this one bit. Clunky and awkward

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

@RJ. I tripped on that, too. Then I realized it must refer to singing. If you forget the words you sing "LA,LA,LA". Still a pretty lame clue(like many others today).

Bill 10:22 AM  

The biggest question I got from this puzzle is: Are Loren muse smith and Lewis the same poster?

Someday they will crack and it won’t be pretty

RooMonster 10:32 AM  

Hey All !
SIMON SAYS Rex won't like this puz. Har.

I got a chuckle or two out of the themers. Fill had some flaws, but... There's junky fill in every puz.

I do agree with Rex on the clue for EYE SHADOW. I see the "makeup test" play on words, but the "test" part trying-to-be-clever misses the mark for EYESHADOW. Maybe change test to application? Or something.

KANJI was about 843 miles out of my knowledge base. Crossed with MITER, which went through MeTRE, MaTRE, MoTRE. Dang.

ONED. Har. Are they still a band? Or are all those screaming fans now BTS fans?

Is there such a thing as a LAPCAT? Cats do what they want.

At least we got an ACME sighting.

I RAIL! could've been clued, "What one shouts when angry?"

Four F's

Frantic Sloth 10:37 AM  

@bocamp 721am About that mnemonic...wouldn't it be easier to just literally drill the word BORON into your head? (All kinds of unintended punnery there!)

@Son Volt 755am Thanks for providing all that info on religious hattage. Can't argue with an altar boy! 😊

Blue Stater 10:48 AM  

A Grade A stinkerissimo. Time was when the Sunday puzzle was the best of the week. Increasingly, it's becoming the worst.

Nancy 10:49 AM  

@chefwen -- Please know that I'm always willing and happy to share my Wall. No matter how much I may have used it that day myself. In fact, there's no one I'd rather share it with than you.

My favorite line from the comments today? Frantic's "I thought the cardinals wore that little red yarmulke-thing, which I always found adorable for some reason."

I never thought of it like that, @Frantic, and now I'll never think of cardinals the same way again.

John H 10:56 AM  

@Frantic Sloth, I think you are almost correct about the hat.It appears that cardinals can wear the mitre on special occasions, like when electing a pope. The little red beanie is called a zucchetto. which I love. They also wear these big broad brimmed red hats with chin straps that I think are called birettas. But a bishop always wears the miter (with a skill cap underneath, in this case white) or a mitre (to an exclusively brit thing) whether Catholic, C of E, Episcopal, or even Lutheran (the latter surprised me).

I am more or less in line with Rex on this one. Struggled to get the theme answers, mild ahas when they filled in. Two antics for me, AMA (no idea) crossing Abuja and Ella (could it be Elle? Elli?) crossing Kanji. Never heard the term I rail. Always called them rails. Should I be saying that Amtrak is an Irailroad?

I think that idiot crossing moron is a bad thing. Coupled like this they remind us they they were once legitimate terms of the early "mental health" profession. People actually had to live with those classifications.

sixtyni yogini 10:57 AM  

What 🦖 said.
Expected him to trash it good… as I was doing.

MickMcMick 11:03 AM  


bocamp 11:08 AM  

@Frantic Sloth (10:37 AM)

Fair jest, but it's already head-borne (or bored in, if you will). It's the place at the 'table' that's the issue for me. That Boron is #5, is firmly implanted. Native memory is hard, hard, hard. I need tricks. Recalling the entire periodic table would be nigh impossible for me without the aid of mnemonics. 😉

On a serious note, I do 'drill' myself on my SB List of words, and reviewing it on a daily basis is useful, but far too often, some of them still escape me, as did 'tricot' a few days ago. 🤔

td pg -3 (after 1st ot)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Ben There 11:15 AM  

All the silly hats worn by Catholic clergy are meant to distract everyone from what they're doing to the altar boys.

Diane Joan 11:16 AM  

Accidentally hit "reveal the puzzle" instead of "check the puzzle". Glad I did. Definitely had the same issues as Rex and struggling over the error squares would not have helped me this time. Now I move on to my next challenge: picking the winning NFL teams for Sunday games. My husband and I do it for fun but wish I had a "reveal" for this activity.

Happy Sunday to all of you!

Anonymoose 11:21 AM  

I think having word lists to study for use in the Spelling Bee would make the puzzle about as interesting as copying the dictionary. What's the point of referring to a list to get to QB?

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Bishops wear Miters in formal ceremonies, beanies are day wear. Bishops in England wear MITREs, not because the Church of England specifically use them, but because the word spelled as Miter in America is spelled MITRE in England.

Jane C 11:30 AM  

I actually though GIJOES was great. Without gendering it: a kid who plays with GIJOES typically calls them "guys", as in "I'm playing with my army guys." But, as Joe is really just Ken in camo, another kid who had Joe setting up house with Barbie would probably say "I'm playing with my dolls." Thus, GIJOES are both "Guys and Dolls".

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

AMA crossing ABUJA is seriously Naticky for a Sunday.

If you don't know either answer, any vowel would fit. I thought A was the most likely (maybe I'd read ABUJA somewhere in the past) but it was 98% a guess.

The clue for KANJI (an alphabet that can be used to write Japanese) borders on unreasonable. Iwo Jima isn't even the Japanese name for the island. And no one lives there permanently - it's only a military base.


Maybe . . . 11:33 AM  

I don't get the answer "KANJI". Could someone please explain?

Zed 11:57 AM  

Wowser! I never realized Nancy Sinatra was wearing @Joaquin’s footwear.

I am so relieved that the MITRE clue isn’t wrong. 🤣😂🤣

@Anon1:59 - TOILE is a common fabric in Crossworld. Coming again to a puzzle near you soon. As for ORESTES, time to catch up on your Aeschylus. Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon for revenge and power. ORESTES kills Clytemnestra for revenge and because one of the gods tells him to. Much action and mayhem ensues. Then Athena imposes a trial and justice (?) prevails. Who needs a new James Bond movie?

@Lewis - “Hah!”-ers, superior to groaners I must vehemently disagree. Groaners are the epitome of pun quality. When it is so bad that you can’t help but groan then smirk is when you have reached punny nirvana.

Carola 11:59 AM  

In a nutshell: a tough solve + a brilliant theme, with the most inspired examples being the T-SHIRT CANNON and BINGE WATCHER.. That B was my last square in, so that I ended on the high of that delightful surprise (I'd hung onto a weather connection until the bitter end, having been lulled by the more prosaic PSYCHOANALYSIS into thinking we'd be in the realm of meteorology.) I agree that some of the clued definitions veer off into sketchy (GI JOES) or the too easy (BORON) but the others were just so good that all was forgiven. Loved the little jolts of recognition when clue and definition snapped together.

Consternation corner: the NE, where "getS IN" barred the door for a long time - until I decided that Beyonce's females weren't going to be girlzz or some form of gals, so I changed it to LetS IN. Thank goodness 22A had to end in -ONYM, so that I could see LADIES x DOJO, correct my eRONYM, and turn tIJOES into GI JOES.

egsforbreakfast 12:04 PM  

I generally agree with @LMS on most things, this puzzle included. The themers were almost uniformly great, with TSHIRTCANON being my favorite. OTOH, the OTONYM answer almost gave me dire rear (this joke probably works best in Boston).

Do MORONS like BORON more than IDIOTS like IDIOMS?

JO BOFFER sounds like a someone the LADIES might put on EYESHADOW and CHANELNOFIVE for.

Thanks for a great time at the movies, Brandon Koppy.

TJS 12:07 PM  

So, what did Brandon Koppy ever do to Rex ?

This is an example of my favorite Rex review, where he intentionally pretends he cannot fathom any sensible connection between clues and answers so he can savage a puzzle for reasons of his own.

This one was better than your average Sunday, IMO. I'll take a Natasha Fatale reference any time. In fact any reference to Rocky and Bullwinkle is OK with me.

Kinda surprised at the @Nancy reaction, would have thought you would be amused.

And anyone who thinks @LMS and @Lewis are the same person is not paying attention.

Can we start a bail-fund-me for @John X ?

thefogman 12:10 PM  

This is a piece of crap puzzle that Will Shortz should never have given the green light to. Solvers deserve better from the NYT.

bocamp 12:12 PM  

@Anonymoose (11:21 AM)

Speaking for myself, the word List is not referred to when doing the SB, only before and after. What's the point of studying anything, if not to improve oneself? 🤔

td pg -3 (into 2nd ot)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

G. Weissman 12:33 PM  

Who decided that any short Spanish word is now fair game for the puzzle? Among the other answers I think are poor: the AMA/ABUJA cross; ONED (seriously?); and the ORONYM/ARIOSE/SMS train wreck. This puzzle suggests that computer programs may be having a negative impact on puzzle construction.

Unknown 12:41 PM  

I may be younger and more active on social media than the audience in the comments, but AMA was an instaget for me.

I struggled in the NE corner, final fill was the cross of ORONYM and ARIOSE.

I thought this puzzle was a relatively pleasant solve.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Wow. This puppy evidently had somethin to please and displease almost everybody. And yet … it's the best puz of the week, accordin to the Chenmeister over at xwordinfo.

fave themer: {Top Gun} = TSHIRTCANNON. Definitely the pick of the litter, by far, IM&AO. honorable mention to {Wayne's World} = GOTHAM, tho. The SunPuz dared to splatz in some 5- and 6-letter runtthemers. Like.

staff weeject pick: SMS. Texters doin S&M's, evidently. I blame FaceBook & Twitter. Kinda also partial to the AWK word, tho.

break-thru fillins: ORONYM. PANELSAW. PELOTON. ISWEARIT. ANTBEETLE. EDENIC. yep. They all really broke-thru my precious nanoseconds.

Cool to see BELA Lugosi in the puz. Our last FriNite Schlockfest included the old 1956 flick "The Black Sleep". Stars included: BELA Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr, Akim Tamiroff, Tor Johnson. A day-um-near who's-who of classic schlock.

Thanx for the movie re-views, Mr. Koppy dude.

Masked & Anonym007Us


nyc_lo 12:51 PM  

INONESDNA wins (loses?) for ugliest cobbled-together answer I’ve seen in a while. Ugh.

Steve M 12:53 PM  

Bad omen for today yuk

Off the mark 1:16 PM  

The first themer I got was PSYCHOANALYSIS, and since I don't know my movies, I supposed there was a movie called ANALYSIS (IMDb tells me that was the alternate title for a 983 movie called Lovesick, as well as the name of a couple of shorts, and all of the answers would be combinations of movie titles. Which would be hard to do, and the results would not be as funny as some of these answers.

Hartley70 1:30 PM  

Ugh. It was a real LAPCAT of a puzzle.

old timer 1:42 PM  

I gave up halfway through, and have seldom been more disgusted at a puzzle. And you know, Sundays can be first-rate. Last week's was, and the one before that was at least pretty good.

I don't want to know what an ANTBEETLE is. I certainly did not care to know what the connection was between the movies and the clues, and the reason I quit was that when I did solve one, such as PSYCHOANALYSIS, I was too unimpressed to want to find the rest. WS claims to have edited this one but that must be a lie. No sane editor would have left the cardinal's hat in as a clue for MITRES, when it could so easily have been changed to refer to a bishop's hat. (and by the way, while most cardinals are bishops, some are mere priests, and some are ranked as cardinal deacons, almost all of them members of the Roman Curia).

Frantic Sloth 1:44 PM  

****Dumb as Dirt Alert****

@Joaquin 216am and other times before - I just now...literally just now got the joke. And I needed @Z and Nancy Sinatra's help to do it. 🤣🤣🤣🙄

****Dumber than Dirt Alert****

And I just admitted that. 🙄

****Too Stupid to Live Alert****

Bye! 🤣

Hartley70 1:46 PM  

BTW. Despite Henry, there are Catholics in England (see Father Brown on PBS). Those Catholics have a Cardinal, who is also the Archbishop of Westminster.

Joseph Michael 1:58 PM  

Wow. What a grumpy Sunday. Put me on the islet of those who liked the puzzle and it’s reinterpretation of movie titles. Enjoyed all of the themers, especially T SHIRT CANNON, STAR TREK, and BINGE WATCHER.

The problem with Sunday puzzles is that they are too damn big and so, for me at least, they are always to some degree a slogfest. A theme like this was clever enough to compensate for the inevitable drudgery of some of the fill (I’m looking at you, ANT BEETLE, and you, too, KANJI.)

The word CAMEO always reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock. Too bad Brandon couldn’t work a Hitchcock title in there.

Opposite of SSE?
Magic act?
One move short of a duel
Wedding crashers stepping on bride’s dress?
Mooning locale?

*North by Northwest
*The Lady Vanishes
*The 39 Steps
*Strangers on a Train
*Rear Window

Okay, I can see why he didn’t include any Hitchcock titles. I’ll let myself out now.

RooMonster 2:22 PM  

Took me a couple of days, but I don't think anyone else said it then:
Ligers and Tigons and Bears, oh my!

RooMonster Late Brain Guy

Unknown 2:26 PM  

GI JOE was originally a term used to refer to a male soldier in general (like GI JANE was used for women in the Women's Army Corps). It was then used for the name of the doll. So a GI JOE can be either a guy (a male soldier) or a doll.

Eniale 2:33 PM  

I usually do the Sunday puz with brilliant son and granddaughter on FaceTime, and I'm so busy trying to keep up with them ("I've got 39 down") that I find all Sunday puzzles harder... but was pleased to be able to correct said brilliant son who made the same slips about "Farm Girl" before SIS and "Accra" before ABUJA. (Which reminded me, whatever happened to the plummy-voiced NPR reporter Octavia Quist-Arcton?) Anyway I'd certainly have had a DNF without them.

SB: All of which means I haven't even arrived at Genius yet... still at it.

John Culhane 2:45 PM  

There is just basically no Sunday puzzle that Rex likes. His reactions are much less clever and witty than the puzzles he condemns. This one wasn’t funny, but it was very clever. (See, e.g., “TSHIRTCANNON” for “TOPGUN.”) I do agree about the NE corner, though. Just ugh.

Aelurus 2:47 PM  

Not my puzzle today. I SWEAR IT. Jerkface = MEANIE? Top Gun = TSHIRTCANNON? Looked that one up – ohmygosh, there’s a toy that shoots rolled-up T-shirts. Oh, wait. It evolved so that sports team mascots could easily deliver souvenir T-shirts into the crowd, and they seem to start at around $750, so not a toy. There’s ORONYM crossing ARIOSE and SMS, PANELSAW, EYESHADOW (?), HAW (as in hem and haw?). Sigh. That’s all. Just a sigh. (Hi, @Rex.) Time to step away from the puzzle and get to the laundry, including a nice pile of T-shirts.

From yesterday:
@JD 2:57 pm – Didn’t see your post before I posted about Monet. What a change in his colors before his cataract surgery! It is understandable he destroyed them.

@Zizzer 7:01 pm – Yes, am living on Pacific Daylight Time at the moment, but only because Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time. Well, most of Arizona doesn’t. The Navajo Nation does, because their territory extends to Utah and New Mexico and if they didn’t, some residents over the borders would be an hour apart. Which does happen where the Navajo Nation abuts the Hopi Reservation, as it doesn’t observe DST. You can walk from the Hopi side to the Navajo and your watch will be an hour off. You can go back and forth to the future in Arizona!

@Gill I 8:28 pm – That Iko Iko clip is so happy you can’t help but dance around! I bookmarked it to use when needed. :)

Eniale 2:52 PM  

Okay, I feel better - pg Genius.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  


Not to mention that the prevailing view of cosmologists is that visible matter is on the order of 15% of all matter (dark matter inferred from gravity measurements being greater than what visible matter can do is the other 85%; depending on who you ask and when).

chance2travel 3:28 PM  

Count me in the camp of not loving the theme answers bc they are "literal and pedestrian" vs the movies, but still ok that it was published.

I'm fortunate to know ABUJA and KANJI from travels, so those were easy. I got SMS fast, but I'm embarrassed that AMA eluded me until I had the first A (good ol Ask Me Anything).

Super lucked out on guessing the R of ORONYMN. Never heard of it, and only vaguely recall ARIOSE.

Now that I'm back in norcal, I guess I can let others compete for first comment and I'll shoot for "last" lol.

pabloinnh 3:30 PM  

I found the themers funny. not groan-funny but, that's pretty good funny. This one was more work than most Sundays, so more satisfaction to finish it. Nothing wrong with that.

Learned ORONYM. Bet I'm not the only person who has heard of Orono outside of crossword puzzles. We have friends there.

Agree that GIJOE is both a a guy and a doll. so GIJOES are guys AND dolls.

And since no one else did, I must give a hearty "welcome back" to YMA Sumac. Not sure where she has been, but nothing says "crossword" to me like good old YMA.

Thanks for the fun, BK. Sure Beats Killing time doing most other non-essential things.

Anoa Bob 3:55 PM  

I rate Sunday puzzles by how far I get before I quit the solve out of fatigue or boredom or disgust or some combination of those, with the average being around 50%. Today I got closer to 75% before saying "no mas", ergo I thought it was an above average puzzle.

I learned two of Japan's writing systems, Hiragana and Katakana, while living and working there in the 80s. They are like alphabets in that each character is an abstract letter that has no meaning by itself. Meaning only arises when the letters are combined into words. The KANJI (66A), which I never learned, are not "Letters from Iwo Jima", as clued, but are more like pictographs or hieroglyphics in that each character is closer to a literal drawing that has stand-alone meaning. Linguists use the term "rebus principle" to explain how alphabets evolved from literal pictures to letters with abstract sounds, "rebus" being the Classical Latin ablative plural of "res" (thing) meaning "with or by way of things".

In Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, he likens dream elements to "rebus" ("rebus" already being plural) that have no meaning individually and it is only by lengthy (year$) of PSYCHOANALYSIS (23A) that the true meaning of dreams can be revealed. I think the OUIJA (49D) board is a faster and cheaper way to interpret dreams. And just as (in)accurate.

Nice to see ESP (96D) get a non-paranormal clue (ESPaña) for a change.

Joe Dipinto 3:56 PM  

Re last night – @Unknown 10:44:

Oh, there've been plenty of typos and other errors in the print edition. I think they've become more frequent. One I remember recently, and I think it was also in a Sunday puzzle, had the answer MISSPELLED, and the clue read "Like turquoise and fuchsia" (I think those were the two colors). The problem was that the colors weren't actually misspelled in the clue, though they were supposed to have been. It got changed in a later edition, if I recall.

MickO 3:58 PM  


Katie Sievers 4:13 PM  

I would like it if Robyn Weintraub edited the NYT xword...

Barbara S. 4:30 PM  

I like just about every puzzle that comes along, even the AWKward, TUBby ones that only a constructor could love. And I *wish* I could have had the reaction to this one that @LMS, @Lewis and some others did, but it’s just not IN my DNA or IN my SOLE. Sigh. I just couldn’t find delight in these themers and was, in fact, confused about what the theme was until, after wandering all over the puzzle, I finally came back to the NW, got PSYCHOANALYSIS and said, “Oh. [pause] Really?”

The SW and NE were the last areas to fall. I had some trouble with the AMA/ABUJA cross, although I had a feeling that the Nigerian capital both started and ended with A. (But what came in the middle?) I had a surprising amount trouble with the “switching positions” clue – I was thinking along the lines of SCOOCHing over on a bench. And what’s with REESES saying they’re “Not sorry”? It sounds kinda arrogant to me, even without knowing what they’re not sorry about.

As for the NE, yikes. I knew LADIES, and that was the only thing I was sure about for a long time. I didn’t think the clue for MONSOONS was very good because it left out the rain. That was my mistake – I wasn’t thinking about the dry MONSOON. But it prevented me from filling it in for a long time. I guess I’m the only person in North America not to have run across TSHIRT CANNONs until today. Clearly, I don’t watch enough MLB. (None.) I wanted “Deli” for DOJO (do delis sell chops?), I kept trying to put “INtrinsic” for IN ONE’S DNA (both 9 letters), I didn’t get the “makeup test” thing at all, and I wanted SWANKy, so was reluctant to fill it in sans Y.

In the end, I finished with no cheats or lookups, but my feeling on completion was relief rather than celebration. But there’s always tomorrow…

Zed 5:13 PM  

@Eniale - Good Question. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is still listed on NPR but the last article I see is Mugabe's Obit from September 2019.

@Joseph Michael - Your 39 Steps clue needs some work because I think 10 paces is usually the distance. Otherwise I like yours.

@Frantic Sloth - Always happy to help.

Nancy 5:59 PM  

@Joseph Michael: I got everything but "The Lady Vanishes" (why didn't I? I should have!) and I enjoyed your movie quiz a lot more than anything in the puzzle.

@Barbara S and @Aerulus -- I never heard of TSHIRT CANNON until today either -- and I don't even have the excuse of being Canadian, Barbara. In fact, my entire solving experience was almost identical to yours -- both in its progression and in its relative misery.

@TJS -- One can't be amused by what one has never even heard of.

Has @Anoa Bob written the most scathing and colorful critique of dream analysis ever written -- or what?

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Apropos of Times editing errors, the clue for 4A on my paper copy refers to 1,0 [superscript] 82 instead of 10 [superscript] 82.

Newboy 7:52 PM  

Long & late solve seemed better than most fill-in the blanks Sunday grids. Loved the concept and most of the loony titles as they fell into place, so I enjoyed it much more than OFL. High point of the commentariat was @Joaquin’s ORONYM that should solidify that answer should it recur after today’s stunning debut!

Ken Freeland 11:46 PM  

Painful from start to DNF.

Broskeez 12:38 AM  

Joaquin the line

Shackfu 2:27 AM  


jbh 7:47 AM  

Someone please explain 17D - Texting tech - SMS.

Much appreciated.

Unknown 9:04 AM  

@jbh -- SMS is Short Message Service, the service component of phones that allow you to send text messages.

Alex 12:45 PM  

I surely do miss being able to complete the puzzle in Puzzazz. I like it better than the NYT interface.

Donna Hoke 12:03 AM  

GI JOES. It was plural

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Have to agree with OFC on this one. No zip, and too hard to be worth it. I stuck with it and finished, but I felt decidedly underpaid for my work. Bogey.

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  


ARE IDIOTs, or maybe even MORONS


rondo 2:24 PM  

Yeah, I almost tossed it. Almost smiled at GOTHAM for Wayne's World. SIMONSAYS SAYSME. Huh.
Favorite answer was Natasha FATALE, Boris Badanov's partner in crime, including counterfeit box-tops. And I've dated a couple of Natashas, FATALE indeed.
OKIE dokes, hope you enjoyed it.

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

Yes, toile is crosswordese. Hasn't shown its face in a while, though.

Old Al 4:00 PM  

AHA! When I searched for "sunday times puzzle atoms 1,082" I get a hit that says, "The universe has an estimated 10^82 of them." That makes sense. Was the problem just with the online version and not the print version?

Diana, LIW 4:22 PM  

The most fun I had with this puzzle was putting in UNIBROWS instead of UKULELES. Made that an even harder area to solve.

Agree with them what sez "too much for too little." Merely a mild smile or two in the Waiting Area.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

Anonymoose is just a named troll. His comments are mostly negative and mostly comments on comments, and not the puzzle itself. Still, that's better than blue stater, who I don't believe has liked a New York Times Xword puzzle since Eugene Maleska passed away.
Okay, maybe a couple. At my house, he's known as the getoffeverybody'slawn guy.

Thomp430 11:01 PM  

No, the print version has the errant comma as well (1,0^82).

Brian 6:36 PM  

My print (syndicated) version had the comma and no caret or superscript, just “1,082 of them”

I guess the NYT will short the universe of it’s atoms.

Anita 4:13 PM  

Agreeing with Rex here: "Guys and Dolls" is confusing. Should be "Guy Doll." GIJOE is a male doll. What's with the "and"?

Unknown 7:16 AM  

This took me too long for very little fun. Something off with the cluing. No one says REST UPON. And I still failed (ORONYM/ARIOSE). One letter fails bother me a lot.

thomas 7:17 PM  
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