Dry biscuit used as baby food / SUN 10-24-21 / One known as the Alive the Eternal / Greek goddess associated with witchcraft / Who actually lives in Lapland, some say / Chain whose name derives from its founders, the Raffel brothers

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Constructor: Katie Hale

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Sports Nuts" — sports terms clued wackily, i.e. as if they were not sports terms ... I think that's it? 

Theme answers:
  • OFFENSIVE REBOUND (22A: Your ex's new date whom you just can't stand?)
  • FLOOR EXERCISE (34A: Kegels, e.g.?)
  • STARTING BLOCK (51A: First square of a crossword?)
  • SERVICE LINE (68A: "I'll be your waiter tonight," e.g.?)
  • UNPLAYABLE LIE (82A: Conspiracy theory so wild that it can't be aired?) 
  • SEVEN-TEN SPLIT (96A: Plan to leave at a very specific evening time?)
  • DESIGNATED HITTER (114A: Blackjack dealer?)
Word of the Day: TOBIAS Menzies (10D: Actor Menzies who won an Emmy for "The Crown")
Tobias Simpson Menzies (born 7 March 1974)[citation needed] [LOL] is an English stage, television and film actor. He is best known for playing Frank and Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall in STARZ's Outlander, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination, in addition to his roles as Brutus in HBO's Rome and Edmure Tully in HBO's Game of Thrones. Menzies also portrayed Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix's series The Crown, a role which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and won him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. (wikipedia)
• • •

The theme is a huge dud, but the fill is frequently top-notch, so I had more fun than I usually have on Sundays, to be quite honest. As for the theme ... if there's a complexity here, I'm missing it. This is a theme type I've mentioned before, a very easy-to-do theme type where you just have a bunch of *terms* from ... well, any field. And then you wackify them with your wacky "?" clues. The end. Not much to it. The clues are supposed to be funny, so if you find them funny, great, but even great clues don't elevate a theme like this enough for me. This version of the theme type is much weaker than most—usually, the "field" in question is much more narrowly defined. You know, like, *one* sport. All baseball terms or all football terms or whatever. I'm almost certain we've seen *exactly* that type of theme before. Golf terms, maybe? I dunno. But the non-narrowness here makes an already semi-tired theme type feel even more loose and lazy. I think the wacky clues are maybe better than most wacky clues. I'm thinking especially of the clues on the reimaginings of SEVEN TEN SPLIT (96A: Plan to leave at a very specific evening time?) and OFFENSIVE REBOUND (22A: Your ex's new date whom you just can't stand?). But overall, the theme just feels drab and olden. The fill, on the other hand, really has a lot of zing to it. PUT A LID ON IT and RAISE HELL make a great tandem in the NE, and DIG SITE and UNION REP look great side by side like that. "ARE WE OK?" and HORN IN also give the puzzle a little quirky personality? I cringed very little and I nodded appreciatively relatively often, and since filling in the fill is the bulk of the solving experience, after all, I can't say I'm entirely displeased with this thing, my feelings about the theme notwithstanding. 

Apparently I've been mispronouncing VIOL (in my head, which is the only way I've ever said "VIOL") all these years (79D: Instrument that's a homophone of 69-Down). I thought it was pronounced like the first part of VIOLA, you know ... "VEE-ole" ... something like that. Now I learn it (allegedly) rhymes with VIAL!? (69D: Vaccine holder). News to me. News I ... can't use, actually, since, as we've stipulated, the word "VIOL" literally never comes up in conversation. Still, fun (-ish) fact! I had forgotten about this third spelling of PALLET (95D: Bed of straw); I always have to stop to think about the PALATE / PALETTE distinction, so now I have a third option to confuse my brain; thanks, puzzle! Once again I forgot what vowel is supposed to go in CAR_MBA, but this time the cross was indisputable (it's an "A"). Do packages still come C.O.D.? (13D: One way for packages to arrive, in brief). That feels like an option from '80s infomercials that no one in my family ever used and I never saw used by anyone I knew ever. Literally, ever. It stands for "cash on delivery," kids. I think I'd've preferred a fish clue here. More timeless. I wrote in TCBY'S for 123A: Chain whose name derives from its founders, the Raffel brothers (ARBY'S). I don't know that reading the clue fully would've helped, and even so, it didn't matter much, as the crosses helped me fix my mistake lickety-split. I was stunned by HEKATE, as I know her as HECATE ... exklusively (41D: Greek goddess associated with witchcraft). I guess the "Greek" part of the clue was supposed to signal "K" to me. It did not. But again, thank god for crosses. Not much more to say here. I had a reasonable amount of fun. I hope you did too. See you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:03 AM  

Easyish. My main stumble was kiNG before HONG which sucked up major nanoseconds in the NE. Cute and very smooth, liked it a bunch! It was Jeff’s POW.

Frantic Sloth 12:05 AM  

Is this a pangram? I'm too lazy to verify. @Roo to the rescue?

As the Sundees have been going lately, this is one of them.
And you know what I mean by that.

Jeff Chen gave it POW. Already. Guess there will be plenty of nit fodder for the rest of the week, so there's that.

Not the worst, not the best. As @Z would say, "a mehty shrug". Just can't seem to get worked up either way.

If only there were such a thing as an UNPLAYABLELIE. Impossible to imagine any more.

I suppose ERNST and YANG are what you get when accountants run for President.

🧠 🧠
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰ (more is more)

Ken Freeland 12:34 AM  

NO WAY was this an "easy" puzzle.... I damn near threw it in the trash. I had to keep cutting and running all the way to the northeast corner before I could get any serious traction. And, per usual, PPP at every turn. Somehow managed to complete it, and cleanly so with no naticks, but what an uphill climb it was!

Greg Charles 12:43 AM  

Hell in a clue and hell in an answer? What the hell?

Z 12:53 AM  

This theme type would be fine if the NYTX did wacky wacky. But it doesn’t. Never has. Gray Lady Wacky just doesn’t cut it.

ALLAH, AMOS, and MOIRA walked into a bar… Maybe Z’s Placebo & Tentacle. Anyway, not my preferred way to start a puzzle. Way too much religion. πŸ˜‰

@thefenn - Oof. Not the best game even though Boston won. Now the other women’s semifinal- That was some fine ultimate. Best game of the day in any division.

egsforbreakfast 1:09 AM  

I agree that this was an easy solve. I don’t in the least get what Rex’s criticisms are about. Why would it be better to confine the themers to one sport? How would that make it a better, or a more enjoyable solve? Having to cast one’s mind broadly through the sports world as the themers slowly revealed themselves was great fun. You need to be at least passingly aware of basketball, gymnastics, track, tennis (or similar sports with a SERVICELINE), golf, bowling and baseball. This is hog heaven for a sports fan, and surely admirable to most others. Again, why is this a strike (ala bowling or baseball) against this puzzle?

I also have no idea why Rex thinks DIGSITE and UNIONREP look great side by side. Maybe someone could tell me what I’m missing.

One thing I thought was a little odd was 11D WEAR clued as “Sport”, but with no apparent reference to the puzzle being all about sports. This seemed doubly odd after i read the constructor’s comments, which include, “ Once I settled on the theme set, the grid and the fill fell into place quickly (only two drafts saved, a record for me as I usually have about twelve). I was also determined that the rest of the puzzle did not have any other sports trivia or references.”

But, all of this aside, I thought it was a super fun Sunday, and I thank you very much, Katie Hale.

JD 1:37 AM  

This was very crosswordy for me. Down/Across/Down repeat, repeat until it's filled in without looking back at 25% of the clues again. Conspiracy theory so wild that it can't be aired was amusing. How about Obviously Does Not Exist for an answer. Org. featured in 2011's "Contagion." Side eye, clear throat, odd choice for cluing CDC right now.

Had a box in the garage for the longest time with my college class copy of Rilke's Duino Elegies. Just Goggled it to try to remember what it was all about, and found this, "Together, the Duino Elegies are described as a metamorphosis of Rilke's "ontological torment" and an "impassioned monologue about coming to terms with human existence" discussing themes of "the limitations and insufficiency of the human condition and fractured human consciousness..."

Oh yeah, that.

I liked this puzzle. George Bernard Shaw, Wes Anderson, Rilke, Yoyo Trick, Seven Ten Split. That's a lot of good clean fun.

chefwen 2:12 AM  

Got off on the wrong foot with 6A paper before DEBIT. We don’t have a choice here anymore, it’s either paper or carry your own. No plastic allowed, then like @jae king before HONG @23D. I always think of king KONG first as that is the mountain we see from the front os our home.
Other than football I’m not a sports follower, but being married to a golfer and kind of a sport nut, I have picked up a lot over the years. This one played easy and I enjoyed it.

Joe Dipinto 2:45 AM  

I also had KING at 33d for the longest time, to the point where I actually started to wonder if the expression was spelled "raising Kane" and I hadn't known it – HONG just refused to occur to me. I remember Dean RUSK, never heard of this baby food thing.

I thought the themers were fine. Otherwise nothing much else to say about this.

Acrostic was cool today. I like when it starts out that you can't quite pinpoint the theme, or you're not sure there really is one. Some answers seem vaguely connected but is that just a coincidence? Today's was a case in point: it was moving steadily but slowly until I had gotten about half the answers. Then bingo! — I figured out one word in the quotation that put the whole rest of the solve on a fast track. Fun stuff!

Joaquin 4:16 AM  

I had to check the weather in Hell this morning. I almost never agree with Rex yet today Rex and I had the same two favorites: SEVEN-TEN SPLIT and OFFENSIVE REBOUND.

I thought the rest of the puzzle was pretty cool, too. Except for 34A. Nothing "wacky" about kegels being FLOOR EXERCISEs.

Colin 6:09 AM  

Funny... I circled OFFENSIVEREBOUND and SEVENTENSPLIT as my favorites in this puzzle as well. I liked this, I liked the clueing, and a theme of "Sports Nuts" need not confine itself to one sport.

Wondering why "Young's partner?" has a question mark - Isn't Ernst the real partner of Young? I'm missing something here...

Thank you, Katie, for a very pleasant Sunday solve.

Lewis 6:23 AM  

My favorite parts of this puzzle were the clues for the theme answers, each of which involved a play on words. I especially liked those for OFFENSIVE REBOUND, FLOOR EXERCISE, STARTING BLOCK, UNPLAYABLE LIE, AND SEVEN TEN SPLIT. These all got a hearty “Hah!” from me.

The fill was clean as could be, which is saying something on a Sunday, and it was scattered through with lovely answers such as YOYO TRICK, RILKE, MOUSSE, and RAZZ.

Overall, this was a mellow and relaxing floating-down-the river solve for me, which made those marvelous theme answer clues stand out all the more. I left the puzzle calm with hints of mirth, quite an exquisite place to be. Thank you, Katie!

mmorgan 7:15 AM  

Similar to Rex — the theme fell flat for me, but I had a pleasant time solving.

Loren Muse Smith 7:16 AM  

This was hard as heck for me. Well, the southeast at least. I didn’t understand the “Booksmart” and “Clueless” were movies, so I had “novel” for MOVIE. That Really mucked things up for me.

Also – “codes” then “books” for the things you can crack without breaking.

I really liked the themers, especially OFFENSIVE REBOUND. Been there, done that. And I loved the clue for DESIGNATED HITTER. Brilliant.

@Frantic Sloth – I hear ya. Here’s an UNPLAYABLE LIE.

I liked that each themer referenced a different sport. But no football? How ‘bout this:


And I’ve done my share of glute exercises to achieve a TIGHT END.

I had a dnf ‘cause I had “seat” yourself (not SUIT). I’ll whine and say that this crossing RUSK is tough. “Resk” is just as believable as RUSK since I’ve never heard of that kind of baby food.

ATE LESS – no, man. For me, if I have to fit into my go-to ivory sheath for some event, I just eschew all carbs and eat a crap ton of meat, cheese, eggs. I actually eat a lot more. It might be unhealthy and stupid, but I’m too vain to care.

First thought for “southern cooking staple” was “lard” – Sure, we cook OKRA, but I wouldn’t say it’s a staple. [See also, bacon grease]

“Checkout option” – first thought was whether to do the self-checkout or stand in line for the one cashier. I’ll almost always wait in the cashier line. Not because, as my sister says, I’m not an employee here, and I’m not doing their job. I wait because I’m so wobbly with the do-it-yourself system that I invariably mess something up and have to wait for help. And if I have produce I have to weigh? . . . fuhgeddaboudit.

“Where subs are standard” – well, most Charlotte Mecklenburg schools except mine. To date, not one sub has accepted a job at my school. Not. One. I get it – I guess it would be a scary place to anyone who doesn’t understand. But Turning Point Academy has developed an impressive model that for the most part runs smoothly and safely. On Friday, I did have one student who “went off” and cussed me out loudly and thoroughly. His language was as inventive as it was spectacular. I just calmly stepped into the hall, beckoned the BMT (behavior management technician), and had him removed. These kids are dealing with staggering issues – court dates, unstable home lives, foster care placements, group homes, etc. – and our staff handles them deftly and compassionately. It’s my favorite school I’ve ever worked in.

Katie – fun solve! And I’ll be thinking on this all day, looking for other possibilities - DEAD BALL (proms at my former school where they all just sat at their tables looking at their phones), BUZZER BEATER (the guy who hits the snooze button over and over), PSEUDO (false start), DOUBLE DRIBBLE (newfie drooling on both sides, r.i.p., Beverly Ann).

PS – my avatar is a very specific football term. I was quarterback for my high school powderpuff team, so I kinda speaka the language.

Sioux Falls 7:18 AM  

Like Rex and @Joe Pinto had KING before HONG and RAISEKAIN before RAISEHELL… thought maybe KAIN was an alternate spelling in the New King James Version or something.

Loren Muse Smith 7:28 AM  

PSS – The clue for TIMEX. . . I’ve told this story here before, but that never stops me. The place where I dogsled, Wintergreen Dogsledding in Ely Minnesota, is owned and run by Paul Schurke. In 1986, he was part of an historic expedition to the North Pole. The last time I was at Wintergreen, he gave a little talk at his house about the adventure. Rolex sponsored the trip, and each person was given a Rolex. They navigated using a sextant, so being able to tell the time was crucial. Paul said that the night before they departed, he was getting last-minute stuff at a drug store, and for some reason (he said he has no idea why), he threw in a cheap TIMEX. Fast forward to the final days of the trek: as the temperatures got colder and colder, all their Rolexes stopped working. Paul said that it was the cheap little TIMEX that led them the final leg to the North Pole.

Anonymoose 7:34 AM  

Reason that the kangaroo couldn't jump. 11 letters.

This puzz supplied the fun that I desire on Sunday.

Son Volt 8:06 AM  

Not much bite all around. Liked UNPLAYABLE LIE - but agree that the other themers needed more zing. Shut the f up is rude - PUT A LID ON IT should be clued as quaint in today’s world. Lots of oddball trivia here - TOBIAS, RUSK, HONG, ARBYS. Wasn’t keen on the short fill - looks like it’s a q short of a panagram @Frantic. The crossing of Ex’s and EXES with clue and fill is questionable.

The MADISON x MILNE cross is really nice and I like the HEKATE slant. A lot of the other stuff just missed for me.

Better than most Sundays I guess?

pabloinnh 8:23 AM  

Sports fan here and I enjoyed this one very much. Seemed like a good old-fashioned Sunday from the days when I started doing these in the Sunday Magazine, back when I could still read the numbers in the little boxes.

I think the only new-to-me's in this one were MOIRA, MONAE, and YURI as Dr. Z's first name. I'd seen everything else, even if it took a while to realize that.

I prefer PUTASOCKINIT to PUTALIDONIT, but everything else was just about right.

Very nice Sundecito, KH. Kept Having fun all the way through this one, for which thanks.

MaxxPuzz 8:31 AM  

Viol truly is pronounced like vial. Surely you have heard 'bass viol' for a double bass? My wife and I have both played various sizes of viols in early music ensembles. She usually plays the viola these days, which Rex correctly pronounces as vee-ola. A vie-ola viola is a flower.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

For someone who actually says VIOL and can’t tell one kind of sportball from another, this puzzle was a delight. Thanks, Katie Hale!

Lewis 8:38 AM  

So, do you pronounce YANG to rhyme with HONG or to rhyme with “hang”? Looks like both are acceptable, but I’m just curious how most people here pronounce it. I go with HONG.

bocamp 8:58 AM  

Thx Katie, for a sporty Sun. Puz! :)


Started with SUIT / RITA and branched out from there.

Hit and miss all the way; a bit here and a bit there.

No major stumbling blocks, no guesses.

A fun trip. :)

yd g -15

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

SouthsideJohnny 9:08 AM  

A couple of the clues appear to have been phoned in from a random number generator (EAST for example, and for RAZZ as well). That may well be a function of trying to achieve a certain level of difficulty - but really “EAST New York” ?

The clue for YURI is interesting for me to contemplate - first, you have to be old enough to be familiar with the book or movie (is it still required reading for some ?) - ok, so then you know it’s a fictional character and the name is probably going to be Russian (IVAN ?), even then if you don’t know it you’re at the mercy of the crosses - which all seemed reasonable, as even SIRI is approaching OREO-like frequency. Still, I imagine that one would be tough for younger solvers. That’s ok, I don’t feel too sorry for them - they can have MOIRA and MONAE, I’ll take James MADISON of the Federalist Papers fame (and he’s a Founding Father !).

Teedmn 9:13 AM  

As a non-sports nut, I was gratified that all of the theme phrases were familiar to me. I wasn't so fond of SEVEN:TEN SPLIT as clued but the rest seemed very apt.

I must be thinking about Christmas already - my bed of straw started out as "manger" instead of PALLET.

Once I saw OPEN TOE at 93D, I was pretty sure 87A would pass the breakfast test. Whew.

Katie Hale, nice Sunday puzzle. Congrats on getting POW over at xwordinfo!

amyyanni 9:15 AM  

Quick solve, bright puzzle, as is the Decatur morning outside my window (which I see must be cleaned later today πŸ™„).
Though far from being a teen, was happily amused by the movie BOOKSMART. Hoping to be (also happily) scared this week by the Stephen King movie I borrowed this week. [Dolores Claiborne] Boo!

kitshef 9:18 AM  

I got a kick out of SEVEN-TEN SPLIT.

Subby 9:30 AM  

Can someone explain "It's just passing" = DEE? Can't figure out for the life of me what that means.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Had "rat" for the ___ PACK / PACK ___ clue at 9D. So proud to have figured that one out, took me forever to undo the mess.

Felt like an easy-medium. Nothing close to a romp. But a fun and fair solve.

TJS 9:33 AM  

Hey, a decent Sunday ! But was this the POW of last week or is Sunday the first day of this coming week? Uh-oh.

Unknown 9:38 AM  

I agree. I had fun and think Rex is wrong. Can u explain Dee as answer to "It's just passing?"

burtonkd 9:44 AM  

@Lewis - The Democratic candidate Andrew Yang definitely rhymes with "hang".

as for VIOL and VIAL, they have different second vowels. If someone speaks carefully, they don't rhyme (Hi, Nancy). The instrument is usually given 2 stressed syllables.

I thought all the themers were fun, and just far enough off in their meanings to give that elusive "aha".

burtonkd 9:45 AM  

Think grading in school D passes, F fails.

Bad Student 9:51 AM  

DEE, as in the letter grade D - better than an F, but not by much, lol. That one had me too.

Colin 9:51 AM  

@Subby, 9:30 AM and @Unknown, 9:38 AM: DEE is a grade of D, just above an F.

HunterS 9:52 AM  

@Joaquin Maybe the whacky is that kegels exercise the "floor" of the pelvis.

Tom T 10:05 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle for this sports fan to solve while watching my beloved Atlanta Braves advance to the World Series. Rosario! Matzek! Pure joy.

Check the grid carefully for a three letter diagonal word that answers to this clue: One can be golden.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

So yesterday I had already had the pleasure of a crunchy Saturday puzzle when, late in the evening, I sat down with today's puzzle. As always, it was with the intention of just doing a bit of it and leaving the rest of it for today -- so I wouldn't use up all my puzzle-pleasure in the same day. It's sort of like leaving the last bit of cake for the following day...assuming you have the will-power to do it.

But I didn't. I finished the whole puzzle in one fell swoop, scrawled "addictive" at the top of the page, and went to bed. I always know when a Sunday is addictive because those are the ones I can't stop working on. Like Lay's Potato Chips. "I'll just do one more clue. Just one more. Well, maybe this next one, too."

It was an easy, but a very engaging puzzle nonetheless. I liked the fact that Katie worked phrases from so many different sports into the puzzle. And, other than FLOOR EXERCISE, all the phrases were clued in a way that had absolutely nothing to do with the sports phrase. My favorite was OFFENSIVE REBOUND -- which made me chuckle.

Of course I love sports. Let's see if our @Hartley (who hates sports) will like the puzzle. That's the ultimate test. But I had a swell time.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

It's not average but better than an f

Fansince1939 10:14 AM  

The grade D is just passing.

Barbara S. 10:18 AM  

1) Shakespeare’s Macbeth
2) Location of a predatory fish waiting in ambush
3) Duration of a red light
4) Emotional meltdown with two causes

I wasn’t immediately attracted to this theme but it grew on me. I’m not much into sports, so it was never going to be my favorite. But I like that each theme answer represents a different sport and I think the themers are clever even though they’re not knee-slappers. UNPLAYABLE LIE, as clued, caused a sharp intake of breath.

I didn’t find the puzzle particularly hard and was solving at a steady, comfortable pace until I got hung up on an error at the end – involving a 3-letter word, for heaven’s sake. For 9D “Word that can precede or follow pack” I put in “rat” early on (hi, @Anon, 9:32), forgetting that “Rat Pack” really has to be capitalized and refers to one particular phenomenon, Sinatra & Co. This was a case of being way too attached to a wrong answer and stubbornly clinging to it even though I could make no sense of any of the acrosses in the area. I finally realized that the Chevron subsidiary was likely to be TEXACO (I already had the T, E, and O), took out the dirty “rat,” and everything fell into place.

I held off on the HONG/kiNG conundrum by filling in only NG first time through. I was concerned that “Getting up there” was going to be OLDIng, so was relieved to find OLDISH. I’m holding out for SANTA living at the North Pole which is, after all, in international waters. I’m not prepared simply to hand him over to the Scandinavians. I liked the GBS quotation but, unfortunately, in 43 seconds of internet research, failed to find out which play it’s from. Enjoyed the clues “Walking the dog, for instance” (YOYO TRICK) and “One hell of a writer?” (DANTE). The doubling of “hell” in clue and answer didn’t seem to bother me. DIG SITE: if you like archaeology, try to find a British TV series called “Time Team.” It’s an eccentric and endearing group of roving archaeologists who travel all over the U.K. (and beyond) to excavate some truly fascinating sites.

1) Power play
2) Pike position
3) Stoppage time
4) Double flip

Nancy 10:20 AM  

burtonkd: You're right, of course, about VIOL/VIAL having entirely different pronunciations. It bothered me a lot when I saw the clue, but I neglected to make a notation in the margin, and who can remember all the way from last night to this morning?:)

VIOL: VI-OLE (as in "hole")

VIAL: VI-uhl

RooMonster 10:28 AM  

Hey All !
C'mon y'all. Don't you know to put __NG for the ___Kong clue and wait on crosses yet? πŸ˜‹ Same with Mauna ___, put in that last A and wait. Just sayin.

I tell everyone ARBYS stands for America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir. Has a more neatness factor. And it's pretty good. Had their rib sandwich recently, quite tasty.

Yep, Q short, as @Son Volt pointed out. No QUE today.

Nice puz. Sports terms clued as non-Sports stuff. SERVICE LINE was a bit of a stretch. Is that supposedly tennis? As in your SERVICE is always in the same spot?

Tough spots for me was with HORNIN area and the SW corner. But, managed to get puz 100%! The computer says I'm on an 11 Day streak. Almost true, as I did have to Goog a couple of times to be able to get the Happy Musics. (Har, Happy Musics, put that in a puz! "There's only one Happy Music" people would be yelling). But still proudly patting myself on the back! Making it through two weekends without an "official" DNF is a minor miracle.

Three F's

Unknown 10:32 AM  

Service line? Unplayable lie?? I guess I don't know many sports phrases but...what do these mean?!

jberg 10:39 AM  

I had stopped doing Sundays, but took a glance at this one and, as @Nancy says, it was addictive. Oddly, I came here thinking it was a strength that each themer pertained to a different sport.My favorite mistake was seeing the CA and confidently writing in ay, CAptain! -- so confidently that I actually took out TADA. It took OMAN to set me straight.

Me too for kiNG Kong first. And yesterday, while driving someplace, I spent half an hour listening to a discussion of the current state of affairs in HONG Kong. Go figure.

Ah, TIMEX! I wore one, and loved it, for decades. I still have it. But about 15 years ago my daughter's ex-husband, who was a bit of a snob (among other things) convinced her that a person of my station (whatever that was) should wear a more prestigious watch, so they gave me a solar-powered Citizen for Christmas. It's OK, but if it ever breaks I'm going back to the Timex. Loved your story, @Loren, but I still don't get the football reference.

@Egs, if I'm SPORT ing a new hat it has nothing to do with athletics, so that was OK with me -- but 84D, LOVE, is clued as a tennis term, which I considered a fault.

MOUSSE as a product that increases volume certainly fits the mocha mousse my wife makes every Christmas.

@Loren -- BMT, really? Are you making that up? I wouldn't put it past you, but I also wouldn't put it pass the educational bureaucracy to come up with a term like that.

I've played with many VIOLs, and I think some of those who play it pronounce the o distinctly, but others put in a schwa, so the clue works for me.

Wanderlust 10:43 AM  

A “D” grade on a test.

Wanderlust 10:46 AM  

And put in AV— for a clue about making a statement (AVER or AVOW).

thfenn 10:46 AM  

Nice way to kick off a lazy Sunday. Hope the rest of the day is as fun and east. My two faves were OFFENSIVEREBOUND, as a long ago ex certainly had one, and DESIGNATEDHITTER, as it never occurred to me that both baseball and blackjack had one (and going to guess Atlanta's might be Ehire Adrianza after last night's game). The fact that no lie seems unplayable these days soured that one, and miss times when the clue actually was conceivable.

@Z, turns out I don't have ESPN3, so ended up with SNL, but glad you caught at least one good game.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

Oh, poor @Roo! Oh, poor, poor @Roo. Myy heart truly bleeds for you. To not know that the SERVICE LINE in tennis is a real thing, an important thing, is to not know tennis at all. Which is a tragic thing.

This is for you, @Roo. Study it well. Grapple it to thy soul with hoops of steel. It is a diagram of the tennis court in all its magnificent glory. You're welcome!

Birchbark 11:05 AM  

HEcATE --> HEKATE, the "c" owing to Shakespeare:

First Witch. Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly.

Hecate. Have I not reason, beldams as you are,
Saucy and overbold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death;
And I, the mistress of your charms,
The close contriver of all harms,
Was never call'd to bear my part,
Or show the glory of our art?
And, which is worse, all you have done
Hath been but for a wayward son,
Spiteful and wrathful, who, as others do,
Loves for his own ends, not for you.
But make amends now: get you gone,
And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i' the morning: thither he
Will come to know his destiny:
Your vessels and your spells provide,
Your charms and every thing beside.
I am for the air; this night I'll spend
Unto a dismal and a fatal end:
Great business must be wrought ere noon:
Upon the corner of the moon
There hangs a vaporous drop profound;
I'll catch it ere it come to ground:
And that distill'd by magic sleights
Shall raise such artificial sprites
As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion:
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
He hopes 'bove wisdom, grace and fear:
And you all know, security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy.
[Music and a song within: 'Come away, come away,' &c]
Hark! I am call'd; my little spirit, see,
Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me.

-- Macbeth, Act III, scene 5.

egsforbreakfast 11:14 AM  

@Roo and @ unknown. Service line in tennis is the side of the box nearest the net wherein a serve must land to be in play.

Nancy 11:15 AM  

@Birchbark (11:05) -- Well, you got the right answer at 41D (HECATE/HEKATE) because you thought of the right Shakespeare play. "Macbeth". I initially had the wrong answer (HECUBA), because I thought of the wrong Shakespeare play. "Hamlet". To wit:

“What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba
That he should weep for her? What would he do
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears."

Wanderlust 11:17 AM  

Agree that this isn’t the most original theme, but I disagree with Rex that making it about sports in general is lazy - this works because each answer is a different sport. If there had been two basketball answers, that would have been lazy. Got to thinking about answers for sports that weren’t in the puzzle.

- Date you bring to make your ex jealous?
- Singing bits of hit songs to yourself in the shower?
- Matte or glossy?
- Angles of your face that you don’t want in a photo?

And the cleverness of some of the themers also made this work. Clues for OFFENSIVE REBOUND, UNPLAYABLE LIE, and DESIGNATED HITTER are especially good.

The clue for FLOOR EXERCISES did make me wince. I wasn’t sure what Kegel exercises have to do with a floor, but looking it up, it’s an exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor. OK then.

Loved the clue for DANTE. Loved seeing three favorite CELEBS in the puzzle - Catherine O’Hara (her MOIRA in Schitts Creek is maybe the best comical TV portrayal ever), Janelle Monae (truly original as a singer/songwriter and a great actress too) and Rafael Nadal (te quiero, Rafa).

Answers to the above:
Total Knockout
Individual Medley
Photo Finish
Off Sides

Eprailick 11:38 AM  

Raffel brothers … RB … say it out loud and it makes sense.

Carola 11:49 AM  

Easy and a treat. I thought the theme was very clever, with FLOOR EXERCISE rating "genius" and UNPLAYABLE LIE and DESIGNATED HITTER right up there, too. Many other pleasures in the grid, too. One little detail I enjoyed was CARAMBA! crossing O, MAN!"

Do-overs: Me, too, for kONG. For walking the dog, I wrote in "YOga po...," saw there would be extra squares, and then, "Oh yeah, YOYO; funny that the bend-over-backward YOGI showed up next door.

@Teedmn, I loved your "manger"; maybe SANTA directed your mind toward Christmas :)

Z 11:49 AM  

@thefenn - You do, but you need to stream it. Just a rough game. The two teams have history and I think it may have played into the mental part of the game. They’re both much better teams than they showed last night. If Brute Squad plays the same way today against Fury it will be a blow-out. But there’s plenty of examples of Jekyll and Hyde performances between semis and finals.

Rex called this theme “loose and lazy.” “Lazy” seems a tad intemperate, but as many commenters are showing this isn’t that hard of a theme to come up with examples. So the question becomes whether or not narrowing the theme to a single sport is an improvement. I think not. Confining the themers to a single sport is limiting, exclusionary to the majority of people who don’t follow the sport. Our most watched sport (football) gets 17 million viewers … out of 331 million Americans. In other words, 95% of Americans aren’t watching football today. So doing a football based theme is exclusionary to 95% of Americans. I don’t know if confining the themers to a single sport was considered or not, but I think the decision to do sports jargon generally was a good one.

Beezer 11:52 AM  

@Nancy’s “addictive” description is very apt, as I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and felt it was “over” too quick. This may have weighed in with high PPP but funny how that is not irritating when you know it.

Was hoping that Rex might post a video of Janelle Monae performing as Cindi Mayweather. She has been in some wonderful movies but I think her talent is better portrayed in musical performance. Just my opinion.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Wish the 22-Across theme entry clue didn't contain the word "ex," given the 7-Down entry EXES (which even crosses that theme entry).

Lewis 12:19 PM  

Oops! When I asked about whether YANG rhymes with HONG or "hang", I was thinking of yang as in yin-yang. I forgot the clue was about Andrew!

Anonymoose 12:20 PM  


From my 7:34 post "Reason that the kangaroo couldn't jump. 11 letters."

Out of Bounds

*in case you care

Hartley70 12:26 PM  

This puzzle was a bit of a snooze fest. I might have been sleep solving because it was over in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, it passed my “oh no sports” test, @Nancy! I enjoyed the theme precisely because it jumped around from sport to sport. It wasn’t a slog through boring football or baseball phrases. Look, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, even yo-yo tricks! Don’t dismiss the yo-yo. I hear there may be an Olympic slot in the future after billiards makes the cut. This puzzle has a little something for everyone, even those strange dudes who spell HEcATE with a K.

Unknown 12:26 PM  

I enjoyed it! As mentioned frequently...Offensive rebound and seven ten split put a smile on my face.

bocamp 12:28 PM  

@ Unknown (10:32 AM) re: UNPLAYABLE LIE

"Sometimes in golf, players hit their ball in a place where they can see the ball but they couldn't possibly hit the ball. We call this situation an "unplayable lie."

An unplayable lie could be in a sticker bush, a bunch of really high grass or some other prickly spot that just wouldn't be conducive to moving the ball...pretty much at all.

That's why we have the ability to declare a ball or lie unplayable in golf as part of Rule 28. It's an opportunity for a player to declare that their ball has landed in a perilous spot, and they don't want to risk injury, bodily harm or damage to their equipment so they can feebly try to hit the golf ball.

An unplayable lie can be declared anywhere on the golf course at any time, except in a water hazard. An unplayable lie can even be declared in a bunker, allowing a player to take a drop inside the bunker for a one-stroke penalty or take the ball out of the bunker for a two-stroke penalty.

• So, once a golfer declares their ball or lie unplayable, they agree to take a one-stroke penalty in exchange for being able to improve their lie in one of three ways:

• Going back to the original spot of their last shot and hitting from there (kind of like a yellow-stake hazard)

• Taking a drop from the unplayable spot that is two clublengths and no nearer the hole

Taking a drop from the unplayable spot that goes as far back as the player would like keeping the unplayable spot between them and the hole" (GNN)

td pg -4

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Joseph Michael 12:30 PM  

If I may present an opposing view from that of OFL, I liked the theme precisely because it was NOT just about one sport. From baseball to bowling, there was a little something for everyone. And I say that as one who is not a huge sports fan.

NOR did I find it “Easy.” Seemed like a lot of names I didn’t know, but the crosses enabled me to get every one of them. The only gimme was author George OHWELL.

Wish more LIES these days were UNPLAYABLE. Fake news is rampant and most of it comes from one political party and one TV news network. No names need to be mentioned. And, no, there are not tiny octopuses in the Covid vaccine.

You must be expecting a pretty bad dinner party if your plan is to leave at SEVEN TEN.

The Joker 12:34 PM  

@bocamp. What happens when a golfer declares an unplayable lie on the green?

jae 12:35 PM  

@Z - Exactly. I thought the multiple sports were a delightful feature not a bug.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Liked the theme. First of all, it was humorous, which always helps on a SunPuz-sized solvequest. Second, each themer was about a different sport -- total variety.

Hockey did get left out, tho. Possible hockey-based themers with fun possibilities: HIGHSTICKING. HATTRICK. FACEOFF. PENALTYBOX.

oh, yeah … BOXing/wrestling and football also got left out. So many sports, so little theme-space in one puzgrid. Also, table tennis, which musta really hurt the Shortzmeister a bit.

staff weeject pick: CIT. Has a nice partial Latin phrase desperation to it. Unless, of course, one were to go with a clue of: {Tic seen from the rear??}, or somesuch.

KING Kong. Gotta be yer go-to first impression.
Which btw reminds m&e, our schlock flickfest was a bit different this last FriNite. We went with "Donnie Darko", after a long discussion earlier in the week, tryin to recall lotsa stuff from it. Did y'all remember that Seth Rogen was in "Donnie Darko"? Surprised both of us. How'bout Drew Barrymore? yep, she was in it, too. Darn movie was so long, we decided to skip the two cliffhanger serial episodes. Second flick selection was real bad. Was part of a "steamin pile" birthday gift from M&A to the bro-in-law. Don't wanna talk much more about that one. But, I digress.

Thanx for the sports stuff, Ms. Hale darlin. Good job. Especially liked HORNIN & the DANTE Clue.

Masked & Anonym8Us


albatross shell 12:44 PM  

How to pronounce VIOL.

pabloinnh 1:21 PM  

@JoeD-Agree that today's Acrostic was a good one.

I'm wondering if the word that gave you the theme was the first one in the puzzle. That's what did it for me.

contessa 1:28 PM  

What does PPP stand for and doe POW stand for POW maybe Piece of work. Neither is in my acronym book.

bocamp 1:30 PM  

@The Joker (12:34 PM) πŸ˜‚

Don't know about an UNPLAYABLE LIE on the green, but here's Ron Green on an UNPLAYABLE LIE both in the green and between a rock and a hard place.

Also, there's this:

"A player has a downhill putt and he or she putts off the putting green and the ball rolls off the green into a bad lie or into a penalty area. The player may play again from the putting green under penalty of one stroke." (usga.org)

And, finally, a ball on the green can be marked and pitch-mark/s repaired, with the ball replaced in the original spot (no penalty).

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Unknown 1:36 PM  

Liked it, solved without cheating...but Hekate? Put a lid on it!

albatross shell 1:37 PM  

FLOOR EXERCISE is a gymnastic event. It is not an exercise such as a push-up or a sit-up or a kegel. Took until @HunterS to mention pelvic floor?

Also it was my favorite pun. They were all good and having them in all different sports extended the range you had to think about in solving and increased the range of good answers and probably made for better fill too.

UNPLAYABLE LIE was the best double pun but they were all superb, not one subpar unless you are talking golf. Well one was but not that way.

Eighty % of it filled in quickly here. The NE and middle east slowed me down considerably. A couple of smaller slow downs for YURI and RUSK. It was ZWEIBACHS for my kids.

Handup for kiNG cain-kane?? HONG HE ck LL progression.

Old-timey theme. So what. It was well done, good fill, fun clues. Very minor slogs.

Rex misfired his feathered shaft. (Soft killshot?)

Anybody get the Muse's avatar yet?

JD 1:46 PM  

@Zwhatever et al, re. mixed sports and Rex's comment about construction looking "loose and lazy."

Agree with you. Message to constructors facing this type of choice, tie goes to the solver. It's that striving for consistency or adherence to some Shortz rule (the puzzle comes up Shortz) that sometimes (often?) makes the solving less fun than it could be. And by fun I mean challenging but rewarding or easy but fresh. It also makes Rex complain that things are stale.

This is Katie Hale's second Sunday grid. Went back to looked at her first and see that I finished that one too (remember Elephant in the womb 2/7). I tend to bail on Sundays if they're a slog. Haven't bailed on her yet.

LMS whisperer 1:47 PM  

For those perplexed by Loren's avatar, I believe it depicts a naked bootleg.

satellite73 2:10 PM  

Don't you let my good girl catch you here
Please don't let my good girl catch you here
Or she might shoot you might cut and stab you too
No telling what she might do

Make me down a pallet on your floor...

JD 2:48 PM  

@Albatross, I first learned about Kegels in Lamaze class. They're done to make sure that the pelvic floor continues to support the goings on down there after birth. For men (I just now learned) they're recommended after prostate surgery for the same reasons.

JC66 2:51 PM  


If you want me to send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet, just email me.

RooMonster 2:57 PM  

Ah! I actually did know that, but forgot what that line was called. Thanks for the informative link! I used to watch tennis back when Martina Hingis was #1. Not only good, but nice to look at. (Smiley face)

Har! Couldn't figure out your answer, but after seeing it, it was awesome!

RooMonster Served Up Guy

Joe Dipinto 3:22 PM  

@pablo 1:21 – It was figuring out the second word that gave the game away (so to speak). Before that I was unsure which vowel went where in the first word.

(This may turn out to be a duplicate post – if so I'll delete one.)

okanaganer 3:28 PM  

UNPLAYABLE LIE sent me on a trip down this rabbit hole of weird golf shots. The one that landed in the guy's pocket is the oddest.

It quite surprises me that the name ARBYS doesn't come from roast beef!

[SB: yd pg -1. I missed this word which sounds like a girl's name.
Summary for the week Mon to Sun: 0, -2, -1, 0, 0, 0, -1.]

Z 3:30 PM  

@contessa - POW is Jeff Chen’s Puzzle Of the Week (xwordinfo.com)
PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper nouns.
Both are xword blog terms, so googling for them isn’t much help.

Birchbark 3:42 PM  

@Nancy (11:15) -- I always like the interesting mistakes. Sort of a running sideways narrative. Can be as fun as the puzzle sometimes.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

@Joseph Micheal

sf27shirley 5:17 PM  

Terrific story! And my first time hearing it.

sf27shirley 5:21 PM  

Giants fan here, congratulations and I'm so glad your guys beat L.A. Matzek is incredible. Those three Ks, wow.

Eniale 5:40 PM  

Not a hard puz in general, but my downfall was in the Northwest -- maybe the wind blew my brains away. Whitecaps on Lake Washington and pine-needles all over the driveway.

yd -2
td -7

Smith 5:58 PM  

Well... just when I start thinking about changing my avatar, along comes A.A. Milne again.

Knowing almost nothing about sports I still enjoyed this! The only answer that meant anything to me was FLOOREXERCISE since I know what Kegels are, and I've seen gymnasts do floor exercises.

I think it's interesting that UNPLAYABLELIE popped out at me with no clue what it means in sports. The others kinda make sense, except SEVENTENSPLIT which was hard to get and leaves me cold.

cOdeS before DOORS. Only write over.

Thanks for a smooth Sunday!

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

kegel appeared a short while back, so I'll offer the same observation as I did then: a girl friend related that she knew how to punish her hubbie, do some kelegs during The Act. apparently such exercise freaked him out. and I always enjoyed it. alas, she ultimately left me for the hubbie. I guess you can't please everybody.

albatross shell 6:48 PM  

Make Me a pallet on your floor. You could probably spend a week listening to different versions of it. Here is one by Jimmy and Mama Yancey.

Jelly Roll Morton has a multi-part version going from the history and definitions to increasingly dirty blues versions. Morton is one of my favorite blues singers. Too bad he was so busy inventing jazz (not as funny as it sounds). Check out all 4 (or is it 8) parts of Pallet. It's on Spotify under a single song. Original recordings released as 78s I guess.

Mississippi John Hurt does a raggedy version that is probably reminiscent of the early style of the song. The song probably predated the 20th century.

Sheet music first appeared in print in 1908 and lyrics in 1911. Many country blues and jazz versions. Ethel Waters Doc Watson Sam Chatmon Gillian Welch Oscar Peterson Tom Rush Rory Block etc etc etc.

And it was the reason it was a gimmep here.

Joseph Brick 7:41 PM  

I completely agree with egsforbreakfast's comments.

Just to be clear, Rex: You would prefer a puzzle restricted to just sailing terms, rather than the complete delight of this theme? Doesn't this theme's sport diversity assist solvers with different knowledge bases, something every puzzle should strive to do?

This was the best Sunday puzzle in months in every respect, especially (for me) the theme. OFFENSIVE REBOUND? Come on.

stephanie 7:41 PM  

another hand up for KING before HONG (and what a forehead slapper that was, after taking me so long to fix that error!), plus ROLEX before TIMEX, PAPER before DEBIT, TUTU before HULA (and thinking it would be MAXI or MIDI before either of those...), FRET before STEW, VECTOR before SECTOR, ETAT before ETRE, HOOT before RIOT, HECATE before HEKATE, CREATES before DIVISES, and also agreed with another that the clue for OKRA wasn't the best (my mind also went to butter or lard). wanted CODES before DOORS but didn't want to give up CODE elsewhere in the puzzle so i knew i couldn't be right twice. (and still took me way too long to understand DOOR after i filled it in - another forehead slapper.)

suffice it to say, easily a record number of write-overs for me. some were easy to fix, others held me up for awhile. i don't have an interest in or knowledge of sports beyond hockey, so as soon as i saw the puzzle title i was disappointed. i usually like the corny joke type answers but none of these registered anything beyond filling in answers. it didn't help that i had never heard of SERVICE LINE, UNPLAYABLE LIE, STARTING BLOCK, or OFFENSIVE REBOUND as sports terms, although at least that last one i'd heard each word used separately in relation to sports of course. (i also forgot NADAR was a tennis person, and thought he must be just another author disillusioned with LOVE. thanks to the person who pointed out the real meaning of that clue!) so the zing was lost on me, but that's going to happen from time to time since interest in various topics is obviously subjective.

while it was boring it wasn't a slog, because looking back there aren't really any answers i have nits with so, at least that was nice. i agree with those who said it was addicting (especially the potato chip analogy) - i don't know how something can seem at once boring and addicting, but somehow this one was. maybe it's like eating doritos. most of the chips in the bag these days are woefully underseasoned, but every now and then you get one absolutely coated in flavor granules so you keep going back for more, hoping to get another hit of intense and delicious chemical cheese dust.

Georgia 8:17 PM  

Tennis and Golf. The service line is the back line where the server stands and may not cross til the tennis ball is hit for the serve. A unplayable lie in golf is when the golfer faces a ball in a spot that makes the next hit unplayable ... stuck deep in mud or laying against a tree or in an unreachable gully. To me, a big plus that the constructor knew lots of different sports. Brava.

Georgia 8:20 PM  

Whoops. Service line is the line wherein the serve needs to land. Not the line where the server stands. Been out for years with tendonitis!

Harbor 8:31 PM  

Sport a bowler as in wear a hat

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

Slogged through with no help, but like most Sundays was name heavy for me. Doable (thanks to crosses), but may not rate as easy.

Foldyfish 9:51 PM  

Not easy, not fun. Finished with an error. Grrr...

Bebop 10:53 PM  

Was sure that 9-Down, “Word that can precede or follow pack” was RAT. Only when TEXACO became undeniable was I able to give in to my stubbornness and ICE it.

Monty Boy 11:36 PM  

I liked this one a lot. It's late but I'll submit my four-letter answer for _____ yourself. It starts with F and ends with K and everyone likes it. But FiretrucK doesn't fit.

Unknown 8:28 AM  

“Oh oh the Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin down the street
Oh please let it be for me . . .
O-h the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ now
Is it a prepaid surprise or COD”?
From the Music Man; finally reopening on Broadway with Hugh Jackman . . . But that song did immortalize “COD.” For some.

Rachel 11:03 PM  

No one has mentioned the thing that I’m most upset about…the word “movie” is included in the clue for 72 and then used as part of the answer for 78 across, TEEN MOVIE!!!!

Burma Shave 11:29 AM  


MOVIE star HORNIN ON your wife?


rondo 11:40 AM  

My word before and after pack was RAT, until it didn't work. I've done all of the sports except FLOOREXERCISE.

I hope Janell MONAE acts better than she sings. Nails on chalkboard.

Tolerable Sun-puz.

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Liked it. Having all different sports is just as good as all the same sport. Since both golf and bowling--the only two sports I can still even poorly do*--were included, the theme was fine by me. And the fill was a lot of fun. Birdie.

*I think of pool as more of a game than a sport. Swimming? Well, for EXERCISE maybe, but of course not competitively.

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