Sight on an M. C. Escher Möbius strip / SUN 10-17-21 / Animal on Ontario's coat-of-arms / Part of the body named after Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg / Name that means "God is my judge" / Santiago of Scandal / Critic of the Great Society / Disney villain voiced by Jeremy Irons /

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Common Core" — themers have long "core" sections that they share with other (unclued) phrases (in circled squares) that kinda snake through those themers from above and then descend below:

Theme answers:
  • ROGET'S THESAURUS (23A: Meaningful work?) (circled squares = HITS THE SAUCE)
  • PATRON OF THE ARTS (36A: Ballet supporter, e.g.) (circled squares = SOFT-HEARTED)
  • THERE IN SPIRIT (63A: Present without being present) (circled squares = AWE-INSPIRING)
  • CHARTERED PLANES (87A: Ritzy transports) (circled squares = THE RED PLANET)
  • BOA CONSTRICTORS (106A: You wouldn't want them to have a crush on you) (circled squares = BACON STRIPS)
Word of the Day: TOCCATA (54A: "___ and Fugue in D Minor" (piece used in "Fantasia")) —
Toccata (from Italian toccare, literally, "to touch", with "toccata" being the action of touching) is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer's fingers. Less frequently, the name is applied to works for multiple instruments (the opening of Claudio Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo being a notable example). [...] Bach's toccatas are among the most famous examples of the form, and his Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 is one of the most popular organ works today, although its authorship is disputed by some authorities. His toccatas for organ are improvisatory compositions, and are often followed by an independent fugue movement. In such cases, the toccata is used in place of the usually more stable prelude. Bach's toccatas for harpsichord are multi-sectional works which include fugal writing as part of their structure. (wikipedia)

• • •

So I guess I should start with my wrong letter. I wonder how many solvers there are out there who made the same error I did, then scanned the whole puzzle and still couldn't find the error. I have never felt less bad about a mistake, because though the word I wrote in was kinda dumb and off, the real answer ... also dumb and off. And the cross, well, let's just say, if you tell me there's an animal associated with a coat-of-arms from Canada, and the letters I have in place are _OOSE, there's no way I'm not going with the Canada GOOSE, unless, of course, the cross contraindicates that choice, and today, realistically, it did not. GOONY seems just as likely an answer as MOONY (!?!?!) for 69A: Like a space cadet. I know MOONY as a member of a modern-day religious cult, or as a word to describe someone who's maybe kinda dreamy ... maybe because they're mooning (???) over someone they're in love with. I honestly don't know for sure, as no one uses this word, least of all me. GOONY felt wrong, but MOONY sure doesn't feel right, and nothing will stop GOOSE from feeling right. GOONY can mean "foolish, crazy, silly, stupid or awkward" (wiktionary), and MOONY can also mean "silly," but also "absent-minded," which I guess is what connects it to "space cadet," but talk about horrible editing there. Just awful. If you'd only made the GOOSE / MOOSE clue something that would make one of those answers indisputable, then the whole bad-either-way GOONY/MOONY mess disappears. But no: the Ontarian (?) coat-of-arms (!?!?). Editing ... yeah ... editing, man. It's apparently hard. I dunno. So I had a mistake and pffffft, shrug, don't care. My answer seems fine. If the puzzle doesn't like it, the puzzle can lump it. Speaking of the puzzle: wall to wall tedium. So tedious, I have TEDIUM written not once but twice on my printed-out puzzle (I apparently forgot that I wrote it the first time ... or else was feeling very emphatic). Nothing interesting happening at all. A huge "Why?" Astonishing, really.

I don't get it at all. So the clued theme answers have longish letter strings in common with other phrases ... but who cares and so what? I really thought the "core" part was going to matter somehow, especially after I got PATRON OF THE ARTS ... because OF THE ART is the "core," and a complete phrase, and I thought maybe some revealer was coming that would make sense of it ... something about "state OF THE ART" something or other, I dunno. But then my next "core" was fwionmw2p0qv8on4wpcqoa (actually, it was the equally meaningless character string "TSTHESAU") and my dreams of thematic coherence were over. This puzzle has the colorful answer "WHAT A NIGHT!" (30D: Reminiscence about an epic party) and it has no other color at all. I don't know  ... yeah, I don't know. I'm trying to understand what seemed potentially pleasing about any of this. Not all weird word tricks are interesting from a solver standpoint. This one sure wasn't. A hard, hard come-down after Saturday's virtuosic performance.

I don't think anything needs much explaining. Here's the Escher Möbius strip in question at 10D: Sight on an M. C. Escher Möbius strip (ANT), which I have no frame of reference for at all:

I thought the word was POLLSTER, but POLLER, OK (65D: One who asks a lot of questions). Everything else seems pretty straightforward. Just not worth talking about. See you tomorrow (or next Sunday, or whenever you check back in—you all have such different solving habits).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

Regarding finding the answer to 70A: The jokes just write themselves so I won’t bother.

This seems to me to be one of those puzzles that provide more pleasure for the constructor than for the solver. It’s not a bad puzzle, but the “diagonals” added nothing to my enjoyment of the solve.

Your mileage may vary.

Frantic Sloth 12:04 AM  

I had to go to Wordplay to find out WTF was going on with the phrases contained in the shaded squares, since I could not for the life of me figure out their relation to each other or the grid.

So, in the print version, there are another five diagonal clues to match up with these mysterious entries.

Annoying if you solve online and not the way God intended. And another Jeff Chen constructioneering masterpiece that thrilled me to the mehth degree.

Theme entries themselves, without all the how-do-you-do-ness of the diagonals, were okay for the most part: I liked the clueing and answers for THEREINSPIRIT, PATRONOFTHEARTS, and BOACONSTRICTOR. On the other hand, ROGETSTHESAURUS and CHARTEREDPLANE...didn'🥱...😴💤 [sknix..snort...huh? wha? Oh!] much for me.

The fill wasn't bad (though some of the clueage was too cute by half) and it was clear an old pro was behind it, so there's that.

Second day with a "Scandal" reference. Please don't let there be a third.

WIE! WHAT A NIGHT! RISING from the NADIR to reach the intellectual prowess of an AMOEBA. ASSOONAS I can get these BOACONSTRICTORS off the oL' (L)BEAN anyway...

IMAGE reminds me of that old corny joke. Relax - it's a visual, so I won't tell it here. If you'll simply burst from the curiosity, just email me and I'll do my best to ignore it. 😉

🧠🧠(size matters)

tkincher 12:27 AM  

For me it was INURED (instead of the less-common ENURED) that got me, since DANIIL is also a valid name and means the same thing as DANIEL. Which less-common thing to choose? Either E or I in that square, it seems, should be correct.

jae 12:48 AM  

Easy-medium. The diagonal clues definitely helped with the solve. @Frantic - mehth degree seems right, or kinda what @Rex said.

Zed 1:01 AM  

🤣😂🤣 - I didn’t realize the shaded squares had clues (in mixed order) at the bottom of the page until @Frantic Sloth mentioned it. Not that they mattered, since it was an easyish solve without seeing those clues.

Once again, the discovery that letters can be used to make more than one word is of zero interest to me. Meh would be a step up. I do like the notion of BOA CONSTRICTOR BACON STRIPS, but that the phrases share a letter string? WhoopDeDoo. A PATRON OF THE ARTS might be SOFT HEARTED, and RED PLANET CHARTERED PLANES would be an interesting business (Elon Musk probably already owns the franchise).But if you are just THERE IN SPIRIT you are hardly AWE INSPIRING, and I’m wondering why ROGET HIT THE SAUCE in his THESAURUS, so there isn’t really any clever relationship between the phrases, just common letter strings. WhooDeDoodleDoo.

Best part of the puzzle was getting Meghan TRAINOR singing All About That BASS PLAYER.

Zed 1:07 AM  

BTW - That space cadets would be MOONY seemed obvious to me. Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet!

JimTheFrog 1:08 AM  

Goony goose here too! Peeve: SPF (sun protection factor) is a measure of sunscreen effectiveness, not a thing that actually protects against UV. I have to agree with Rex about the sloppy editing.

David Pollack 1:25 AM  

HORRIBLE puzzle. Absolutely no need for the loony (goony or moony) added diagonal "clues". Just bang it out with the horizontal and vertical clues and completely ignore the extras. Oh, then there is no theme. Hey a themeless Sunday is much better than a Sunday with an idiotic theme, if you can even call it that.

MommaJ 1:37 AM  

So, 6 Down. When did a Houston Astro become a Stro?

chefwen 3:01 AM  

MommaJ. Just slang for Astro, I guess some people just like to chop a couple of letters off.

I kinda, sorta liked it. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, I just did it. Fell into a mess in the SE corner when I tried to fit in CHauffeured something just off the CH, well, that went as far as I could throw a limo. Finally sorted that lot out, but it took me as long as the rest of the puzzle.

Loved seeing our little puppy MANGO in yesterday’s puzzle.

Anonymous 3:24 AM  

I really expected more from Jeff Chen, of all people. Though well constructed (expected) and the fill being pretty benign with a couple sparks, at the end I just went...."wait...that's it?" There was no joy in the reveal, no extra layer to bring a smile. Just some shared middle strings that were unrelated. The diagonal part was pretty meaningless, and was just an arbitrary constructor choice. C'mon, Jeff, c'mon NYT.....let's expect a little more, here.

Ken Freeland 3:46 AM  

I hate those meeses to pieces! I also had goose vs moose.... editing that's tres terrible and way too much PPP to slog through again... surprised I was able to finish, albeit with that unavoidable error....

Ann Howell 4:46 AM  

Came here to say that, MommaJ!

Anonymous 5:18 AM  

The solving notes are a lie. It states there are 5 diagonal clues. There are not. That is unless your definition of a diagonal includes horizontal parts.

Conrad 5:44 AM  

Didn't hate it as much as the consensus here seems to. Found it quite easy. I also got hung up on the Ontario animal at 69D, but for a different reason: had _O_SE and guessed hOrSE. That was quickly fixed, but if I'd thought of gOOSE it would've cost me my (modest) streak. Aside from that, the only reason I didn't get the happy music the first time was a couple of no-reason-no-excuse typos. Stupid fingers.

RK from Switzerland 6:27 AM  

I agree. I have been living out of the country for 10 years and thought I missed an expansion team. BTW, how is a CPA a summer worker?

Lewis 6:38 AM  

So, different strokes... as they say, and as I say, after reading the comments so far. I thought the motif Jeff came up with was très cool, and as soon as I saw what was going on, I made it a priority to get the other shaded answers with as little filled as possible, which made the solve more interesting and complex, as well as quicker.

How the heck did he come up with these – finding five sets of two common phrases that share strings of 7-9 letters? There had to be creative thinking involved, and sweat. Sweat must also have accompanied the construction. Those diagonal squares, few as they are, make filling in the grid so much tougher. But Jeff is a technician, and it doesn’t surprise me that he pulled this off.

My favorite clue was [Something bottled in Cannes], which looks like “something bottled in cans” (even though “Cannes” is pronounced differently), and what is most impressive to me is that Jeff included eight NYT answer debut words, all very much in the language: BASS PLAYER, CHARTERED PLANES, I GET IT NOW, NO HINT, PATRON OF THE ARTS, THE TEA ACT, WHAT A NIGHT, and the most wonderful THERE IN SPIRIT.

The cluing was easier, IMO, than the past few Sundays, so the grid filled in steadily, but because I couldn’t wait to see what the next theme answer-pair would be, I stayed eager through to the end. Your sweat paid off for me, Jeff; I liked this in so many ways. Thank you!

Peter 6:46 AM  

One who does sums

Peter 6:47 AM  

One who does the sums

Matthew B 6:48 AM  

Knocked this one out on pen and paper while my wife was performing her evening ablutions. Not much fun. I think we, those of us for whom Friday and Saturday puzzles are modestly challenging but usually completed in one sitting need to become enured to the fact that the vast majority of Sunday solvers are not at that level and Shortz doesn't want them leaving the grid frustrated. This is laudable. On the other hand, the themes can be cute, clever and fun regardless of difficulty. I guess this one counts as clever but it certainly wasn't cute or fun. This week's WSJ Saturday theme was all three. I know I sound like a broken record but, with all the options we have in what is clearly the golden age of crosswords, why waste time and energy beating up on the NYT Sunday.

Mr. Cheese 6:53 AM  

Spent a lot of time trying to find my error.
Turns out the Rex and I had the same problem.
Goose should be on the Coat-of-arms even if it isn’t… so there!

Trey 7:10 AM  

Fine puzzle as a themeless. With the theme, I had to come here to see what it was all about, and two phrases sharing a string of letters would be very interesting if the two phrases had some relationship to each other, or if all of the across phrases were related to each other and all of the "diagonal" phrases were related to each other as well. As is, the theme seemed like a technical feat more than adding to the solve.

I found my NADIR today that I tried to use yesterday (for FLOOR)!!

Had lOONY for space cadet (I was called that enough in high school, so I thought that it was an appropriate response) and lOOSE is a word, so it looked right until I read the down clues when checking my solve. Maybe lOOSE is plural for louse? Maybe Canadians revere the louse?

Colin 7:13 AM  

I have a question mark printed next to "Common Core," and while I appreciated the construction, I kept looking for something in each core to expose itself. An anagram maybe, or a topical commonality. But yes, for those several letters to be common to two different answers is clever. I didn't think the additional clues to the "Diagonals" was necessary, so long as one saw the shaded circles.

Count me as a GOONY/GOOSE solver!

Joe Welling 7:15 AM  

RK said "BTW, how is a CPA a summer worker?"

I assume it means one who does sums.

Richard Stanford 7:42 AM  

That’s exactly where I ended up at the end as well. Loony both for a bit crazy and for Luna of course, so I thought it was cleverer than it actually was.

smalltowndoc 7:52 AM  

Count me among the MOOSE/gOOSE; MOONY/gOONY DNFers.

Colin 8:03 AM  

BTW, the first time I ever heard Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was in the TV ad for Brigantine Castle in Brigantine, NJ:

If you want to see the ad, with the music:

mmorgan 8:04 AM  

Yep, I had the GOONY GOOSE not the MOONY MOOSE. At one point I almost had the LOONY LOOSE.

Your not so friendly neighbour 8:37 AM  

I am from Ontario. That didn’t help me at all.

Wrecked with a double error: GOOSE/GOOFY. Both of those made sense to me. Unfortunately EFD is not the answer to “Denouement”; a term I’d never heard of.

Son Volt 8:41 AM  

I liked the overall puzzle for the most part - theme aside the clean fill kept me interested. The app really doesn’t allow this type of theme play to work - it becomes an afterthought. Thought the G SPOT x WHAT A NIGHT cross was neat right in the center. NADIR, PERCHANCE, FOMENT etc are all great, classic entries. Maybe keep TES, BAA, CTS and others out next time.

Rex lost me with his editing critique today - tough to edit away a lack of knowledge. MOOSE was a gimme for me - and as @Z said loyal she remains.

Enjoyable Sunday solve.

SouthsideJohnny 8:44 AM  

Wow, I don’t think anyone really anticipated that yesterday’s good times would last very long - and the NYT certainly put to bed any remaining speculation on that point. Pretty much back to form today - loaded with foreign crap like math questions in Spanish, made-up stuff like STRO, and trivia questions for what seemed like every other entry. Others have also mentioned the return to slipshod editing as well.

The theme (across) entries seemed fine, for me the title and “sub-theme” didn’t contribute anything extra one way or the other. A lot of really questionable clues - how many drawings did that Escher guy publish, hundreds ? thousands ? That’s the best clue they could come up with for ANT ? After a one-day flirtation with excellence, the Times has firmly Re-entrenched itself at the intersection of Mediocre Street and Slogfest Avenue.

Smith 8:46 AM  

Check out the article in today's nyt re xword puzzle testers

bocamp 8:54 AM  

Thx Jeff; a perfect Sun. puz! :)


Technical dnf, as I didn't get the happy tone at the end. Spent a great deal of time looking for my error, and finally came upon gOOSE / gOONY. d'oh! :(

Nevertheless, a fun and enjoyable trip.

@puzzlehoarder (11:49 AM yd)

Yup, that's the one I missed, too. :)

@TTrimble (3:20 PM yd) 👍 for 0's

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

kitshef 8:58 AM  

Easy peasy.

Somehow manages to take a cool thing – long sets of letters shared between wildly different phrases – and make it uninteresting. I think this falls in the category of “impressive feats of construction do not necessarily mean fun for the solver”.

Also, ENOUGH ALREADY WITH ‘SCANDAL’! I’m sure it’s a fine show, but we don’t need to be hit over the head with it.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

EXACTLY re MOONY/GOONY MOOSE/GOOSE Took forever to find the mistake.

amyyanni 9:13 AM  

Yup, fell for Goony Goose. Canadian Geese and all. Otherwise, found this delightfully entertaining on a cool Sunday morning here in Atlanta. The two formerly Florida cats are snuggled deep down in the duvet. And after yesterday's "STROs" game, we are all so good, so good, so good. Super Sundays to y'all (working on my Georgia accent).

Elle54 9:21 AM  

Hand up for the Goony/Moony only error!

Zed 9:26 AM  

Reading the comments and seeing it mentioned that the Great Canadian Animal Kerfuffle happens to be at 69 Down and realizing the answer should have been beaver. Yessiree Bob, I’ve always loved Canadian beaver. Maybe after some poutine.

Seeing a complaint about PPP I counted up the Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns. 49 of 140 for 35%. It didn’t faze me, but that’s what PPP does, make the puzzle easy for some, hard for others. As I counted it up I couldn’t help but notice that Chen has a bit of a Gal Gadot crush.

Tom T 9:30 AM  

Because clues and circles were provided for the five "diagonal" answers, I was able to get those easily, especially the "last" couple of them (because by then I could more easily see which of the five clues remained). And that made the solve much easier. Leave off the diagonal clues or the circles and it would have been a better challenge.

Disney may have sponsored this one, what with SCAR, HYENAS, the TOCCATA from Fantasia, and STAG (Bambi, anyone?)

Also, by turning the diagonal conceit into a word puzzle quest, you can find diagonal words AIR, SOT, SAP, CAR, and, appropriately, POO.

Tom T 9:34 AM  

Speaking of word puzzle hidden diagonal words, there's also PECS, DOTE, and ADOS (and a proper noun--SARA).

KnittyContessa 9:37 AM  

I was in the LOONY/LOOSE camp but not for long. Why are there Scandal clues two days in a row? Ridiculous. There was little joy in this Sunday puzzle.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

Another "let's see how much I can challenge myself in creating this grid" kind of puzzle. Almost always they bore me and this one bored me more than most. While I'm sure that Jeff Chen had a perfectly swell time constructing this, I did not have a perfectly swell time solving it. The diagonals were completely irrelevant to my experience, the cluing was mostly Monday-easy, and there wasn't much in the way of amusement.

Rex evidently put in gOONY instead of MOONY to get GOOSE. I thought "Like a space cadet" was LOONY, but once I got to the animal on Ontario's coat of arms, I realized that it was quite unlikely to be a LOUSE. I changed to MOONY/MOOSE.

Who knew Gal Gadot was Israeli? I didn't know superheroes had nationalities; I thought they were way above such earthly considerations.

You might say I remained there in body (though I almost dropped this puzzle less than halfway through). But I was not THERE IN SPIRIT.

DavidinDC 9:48 AM  

As Rex and at least half of the commenters hate Mr. Shortz and the NYTXW in general, why do you persist in doing them? On self-reflection I must admit that I enjoy the Rex-led bitch fest as much as the solve on some days. But it does get tiresome. Someone should write up the rules and standards for satisfactory and excellent puzzle construction so that newbies like me can be more sophisticated and properly know when we should be aggrieved (“tedium” Oh my! I just can’t bear it) and join in the Shortz shredding.

Barbara S. 9:49 AM  

Well, as a citizen of Ontario, I, of course, knew right away that…I didn’t have a clue what was on the Ontario coat-of-arms. If forced to guess, I would have said the ubiquitous beaver. But when MOOSE and gOOSE were my choices, I went with MOOSE and MOONY right away and didn’t really consider the Canada Goose. I couldn’t think off-hand of any official images that included the Canada Goose, and in 42 seconds of internet research found only this one (slightly psychedelic) example: the arms of the municipality of Peace River, Alberta. I understand, though, why many solvers went with gOOSE. In part, they may have been channeling Neil Young’s "Helpless". The first two verses provide a pretty firm link between Ontario and geese. Out here in the country at this time of year, we see large V-shaped flocks fly over every day.


There is a town in North Ontario
Dream comfort memory to spare
And in my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there

Blue, blue windows behind the stars
Yellow moon on the rise
Big birds flying across the sky
Throwing shadows on our eyes

Leave us
Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless

Babe, can you hear me now?
The chains are locked and tied across the door
Baby, sing with me somehow

Blue, blue windows behind the stars
Yellow moon on the rise
Big birds flying across the sky
Throwing shadows on our eyes

Leave us
Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless

TJS 10:08 AM  

This is a Sunday, people ! Who expects Sundays to be scintillating ?

Maybe because it was a Chen puzzle people were expecting more. Or maybe the Rexites among us feel they have to diss everything they know their fearless leader is going to savage. But really, this was an average Sunday effort, better than many we have had to deal with recently.

See, if your racing hell-bent through a puzzle to finish in under 3 minutes you do things like "filled it in without reading the clue" or leaving a box open when you realise that more than one letter can go in there. Personally, I see "animal" in the clue, a bird name does not jump to mind. And when I see "_oony" for a state of mind, I realise there are a few possibilities. But if I'm searching for a way to hate on a Chen puzzle, I gotta find something.

RooMonster 10:11 AM  

Hey All !
First, from YesterComments, Har @Whatsername. I didn't take it as a slight one little bit! I knew what ya meant, and I felt the love! Lots of F's YesterPuz, I didn't get a chance to post.

Today's puz was interesting. Themeless SunPuz? I got the so-called diagonals, but there wasn't anything that linked either the ACROSSes or the "diagonal" together. A unifying theme. Unless I'm missing something.

Good fill for a big puz. Hardly an UGH, maybe CTS. And TES. Hey, can't have it all!

Nice feat of construction, but as others have said, fruitless for the solver. I wasn't especially enamored of the THE in THETEATAX. Sure, that THE is what you say before TEA TAX. But looks inelegant.

Although it sounds like I didn't like the puz, I actually did. Easy-ish, The diagonals made some letters triple-checked, which helped with the easiness. Liked the NW/SE 5x6's, nice open spaces. Open center, too. Tough to fill openness like that cleanly. Especially with two sets of answers that are unmovable. (The ACROSS and the diagonal.)

G SPOT over S HELL. Under SATAN. Reading too much into it? Har.

SCHWAB has a neat consonant run.

Have friends in town from PA, staying at my house. The woman loves getting STONED. Mary Jane legal here in Nevada. In case you were wondering. 🤪

Three F's

Grandmama 10:12 AM  

I agree with Rex totally. What crappy puzzle. I got it all eventually but it wasn’t fun!

Nancy 10:17 AM  

Jeff is a technician and it doesn't surprise me that he pulled this off. --@Lewis

I agree completely, Lewis. But is "technician" really such a compliment? I know you meant it that way and I imagine Jeff will be flattered, but when I think of a technician in any field, I think of someone who is all about mechanics and methodology and a lot less about spontaneity and joy.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't especially want Technicians designing my puzzles. I would much rather have unabashed and dedicated Entertainers.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

The Canada Goose has nothing to do with Canada. It was named for John Canada, an ornithologist.

Jill 10:20 AM  

Any idea why CPA is summer worker? I don’t get it. What am I missing?

TJS 10:20 AM  

BTW, @stephanie, for me personally, reading your posts is instructive. I just want to clarify my comment from yesterday that Rex citing 'Queerness" and "Blackness" as qualities to be used when evaluating a puzzle was annoying. It was in no way a comment on anyones' identity or race. Thanks.

Zed 10:49 AM  

“Summer” as in somebody who does sums, someone who does addition and subtraction, like a Certified Public Accountant. (I know it’s been answered, but I’m thinking holding the explanation will save people from reposting the question)

@TJS - And yet lots of people who aren’t Rex report the same mistake. Seems like Rex identified the exact square that’s giving lots of people problems.
As for me, I’m hardly surprised that I didn’t like a Chen puzzle. I’ve observed many times before that what Chen finds interesting and what I find interesting has minimal overlap. Nor will I be surprised if the SBers here like this puzzle more than I did. The interest in letter strings is something they share with Chen. None of which has all that much to do with Shortz, other than he also seems to like this sort of letter play (or recognizes that enough of his audience does) so keeps accepting this kind of “theme.” Not every puzzle needs to be to my taste, but don’t be surprised when I don’t like it.

@whatsername - I think @Frantic Sloth was jesting. I know she’s usually super serious, but this one time I think she was just joshing.

@Nancy - Chen seems to think Gal Gadot is a superhero, too, but that’s the actress. Wonder Woman’s nationality is Amazon, I believe.

@Barbara S - I know you know this, but I only know the motto because I looked up the Coat of Arms. It strikes me as a very Canadian motto. I do like the Peace River Coat of Arms, although a place called “Peace River” having a Coat of Arms seems odd to me. And, man, that song. As fine an example of “Sound and Sense” as any.

Ken Freeland 10:59 AM  

Ask and you shall receive... here is my five-star rating system, one star for each criterion met:

1) Reasonably low PPP ratio (< 25%)
2) Interesting, discoverable theme
3) No coin-flipping squares, no naticks
4) Do-able, finishable
5) Overall ambience (humor, wry cluing, etc)

It's been many minths, going on years, since the NYT Sunday puzzle rated five stars!

1 Reasonably low PPP count

Frantic Sloth 11:00 AM  

@Roo 1011am and @Whatsername 919pm yesterday
If there was a "weak attempt at humor", it was mine. Sorry to spark such a needless non-issue kerfuffle because I poked my schnozz where it didn't belong. Oh, and look! I'm doing it again! LOL! 😘

Looks like I missed some good commentin' later yesterday. Dang it. Well, with one exception....

@Z 1049am I can't believe you've been here as long as you have and still think something made obvious will prevent repeated questions. Adorbs.
Oh, and thanks for the explanation for my motives yesterday. Sometimes, it's difficult to know when I'm kidding because...wait, I'm always kidding! Never mind.

Nancy 11:10 AM  

For those of you who get the Magazine, don't miss Patrick Berry's SOUND CHECK today. Crunchy and entertaining -- a lot more fun than today's puzzle. I'm sure I'll like Eric Berlin's JELLY ROLL, too, once I get to it -- probably tomorrow.

James T. 11:10 AM  

@anonymous 10:9 AM: A friend of mine once told me gullible wasn’t in the dictionary. I looked it up, thereby proving him wrong.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Wow that was boring. Finished in twenty minutes and didn’t pause anywhere……

Except the same one Rex flagged…. Moose goose moony goony. And I’m from Ontario!!! Lucky for me, I pulled on my other Canadian knowledge….. remembering back to our national pride, the 1980s Anne of Green Gables where reference is made to someone being moony like ditzy. Tried that first and got the music come up. Way too easy and not interesting.

To online solvers: you have to click on the info button to get the diagonal clues. I click every day; about once a month there’s something important to read in that link.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I didn’t have any mistakes, but kept studying the common core answers in an effort to get one of those “aha … how clever” moments. Then I came to your blog, in search of meaning … only to see that either you were equally stumped or there wasn’t any hidden meaning connecting the “hidden” common core answers. Oh, well … have to sign off now … meeting my friend Godot for brunch!

Carola 11:44 AM  

I have to OMIT myself from the "fun for the constructor but not the solver" group here: I enjoyed figuring out the overlapping theme entries, and the being able to write in the "extra" diagonal letters definitely helped with the solve. But I agree on the RED PLANET-like aridness of most of rest of the entries.

Do-over: my "Real, in Rio" was Mucho ("real" as "very") before it was MONEY. I hope this is a contender for the "Nope of the Day" award, along with the Canadian louse.

@Son Volt 8:41 - Thanks for pointing out the G-SPOT - WHAT A NIGHT cross. AWE-INSPIRING just above isn't bad either.

Teedmn 11:46 AM  

I swear my little notebook laptop is out to get me. Almost every Sunday I have a typo in my grid. Today I filled in EGGED but moments later that first G was an E. UGH!

My surprise today was not at MOOSE, (never even thought of gOOSE) but at 115A, which I handily filled in as cASPAR. GASPAR? I see it shows up in Google, as does cASPAR, but I suppose I could have left the sun RISINc (in a bad German accent) and shrugged.

Some of the theme answer clues were very nice: "Meaningful work?" for ROGET'S THESAURUS, "You wouldn't want them to have a crush on you" for BOA CONSTRICTORS. "Ballet supporter, e.g." for PATRON OF THE ARTS (I was sure that answer would contain "toe shoes" somewhere).

This was a pretty good Sunday. Thanks, Jeff Chen!

egsforbreakfast 12:02 PM  

First off, I agree that this is more of a construction feat than a solvers delight. In the online version, you don’t even see that there are clues for the shaded “diagonals” unless you search out the notes. So I finished (with the MOONY MOOSE correct) and spent a great number (probably on the order 300 billion nanoseconds) staring at the long acrosses, the diagonals, the title, the grid layout and finding no there there. Finally gave up and went to xwordinfo, where Jeff explained, in a roundabout way that “There’s nothing to see here, folks”.

Oh well, I still had some fun. Just not a lot.

I did notice for the first time that HATRED (58A. The “vice of narrow souls,” per Balzac) could also be parsed as HAT RED and still pretty much fit the clue, especially if you imagine the HAT sporting the MAGA logo. Then it becomes a nice tie in with NEOCONS FOMENT MESS.

beverly c 12:10 PM  

Guess I need to learn to spell DEUCES. IGoTITNOW worked fine except for no happy music. MOOSE wasn't a problem, but when I first looked over the clues I wondered whether it was worth it when I saw all the PPP. Managed to get what I needed from crosses, but the SW stumped me for a while. I saw the shaded phrases but not the diagonal clues in the app and couldn't figure out the connection.

Geoff H 12:19 PM  

I just kept waiting for there to be some extra significance or trick to the snaking hidden answers but there just never was. Why these five phrases? Who knows. What do the answers have in common? Nothing, apparently. Why are they hidden in that particular pattern? Just because. Why is the last one a slightly different shape? To make the clue fit. Is there some grander pattern or reason revealed once you fill in all the hidden clues? Nope!

Disappointing, I wanted there to be more to it than there was.

JD 12:20 PM  

I'm a real maroon. Started the puzzle last night after an outdoor evening party that featured a giant bottle of red wine* and went back to it this morning, forgetting the "in mixed order" part of the note. Sat and wondered for a while what was "Truly Magnificent" about Bacon Strips. Seriously.

SW corner killed me. All I had for a long time - Scar, Soda, User and Orca. Just could not get to In Peace and Gaspar. This actually is true (not that I've ever fibbed here), not kidding. Gaspar was the guy who used to manage our IRAs and thinking of him in Melchior, Balthazar & Gaspar is just hilarious. It's so incongruent. He was good but not that good.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why a CPA is a Summer Worker. For a nano second thought Ontario's Coat Of Arms might be a Mouse (this and the bacon must be from the wine), because of "Beaver" earlier in the week.

Liked the Scar, Woody, Hyenas Toy Story theme. Thought the diagonals were cool. Fun puzzle.

*It must've been the equivalent of 15 regular bottles.

puzzlehoarder 12:22 PM  

I don't often read our hosts' comments but today I was holding out the hope that some underlying reason was there for this puzzles purported theme and he'd see it where I obviously couldn't. Nope, as I suspected these letter runs are just totally random. The fact that these conjoined phrases share the same shaded letters is so self evident I was convinced there had to be something more. I looked at the "core" of those horizontal runs and saw the word THE on the first two but that was about it. I thought of anagrams but that yielded nothing. My wife pointed out that "Common Core" is an educational term but that didn't help either.

A new entry these days is the modern slang term RANDO. It's a red flag for out and out wrongness and in every sense this puzzle was a complete RANDO.

The angled portion of the five shaded themers are just as random as the rest of the theme. Some make words some don't. They're just angled to get them out of the way to make this underwhelming excuse for a theme possible.

Aside from the invaluable resource that xwordinfo has provided I can't give much credit to Jeff Chen as a constructor. This smacks of construction by computer with nothing in the way of creativity to animate it.

After reading our hosts comments it became clear that there was no "there' there for this puzzle. I've done the NYTXW for a little over 30 years and in all that time this is the most pointless theme I can recall. I can only hope Mr. Chen doesn't try to out do himself in the future.

Joseph Michael 12:36 PM  

I’m in the back seat with those few here who enjoyed the puzzle. Liked the added dimension of the answer within the answer and the fact that the five themer clues were random. Also liked that the shaded squares helped me fill in the answers that contained them.

GOONY GOOSE never even occurred me. Went automatically with MOOSE and thus MOONY. My downfall was the cross of 9D and 19A. Was it WIE and TRAINOR or WYE and TRAYNOR? Unfortunately I guessed wrong and ended up with a DNF.

In defense of the theme, I can say that I HIT THE SAUCE when I have to find a synonym in ROGET’S THESAURUS. That a PATRON OF THE ARTS is surely SOFT HEARTED. That being THERE IN SPIRIT can be truly AWE INSPIRING. That some day CHARTERED PLANES will take us to THE RED PLANET. And that I’d rather have BACON STRIPS with my omelet instead of those BOA CONSTRUCTORS.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Words that cross other words, for the SunPuz cross-word theme? M&A ain't quite feelin extra enthused.
First big question: How many themers do we have here? Possible answers to that query might include:
* Five. With theme TBA.
* Ten, but five of em ain't got no clues*.
* Ten, but five of em are 3-4 letters long and ain't got no clues. [The other five bein: HICE. SED. AWNG. THT. BAPS.]
* None.

Anyhoo, no humor in a SunPuz-sized theme is always a slight downer, at our happy homestead. M&A would note that "T-H-E" strings are mighty popular [a.k.a. common] for doin this Common Core shtick.

staff weeject pick: THT. [See short themers theory, above.]

Some sparkly fillins that kinda helped keep things afloat: WHATANIGHT. IGETITNOW. PERCHANCE. TOCCATA. AHAR [Usin the A from AOL, then diagonal side-swipe down to the HAR in CHARTEREDPLANET]. NEUROTIC.

Thanx for the valiant effort, Chenmeister dude. U are still one of M&A's fave constructioneers.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

*p.s. To be semi-fair, the constructioneer *does* provide clues for the five "long" side-swiper themers, over at xwordinfo,chen. M&A will maybe later provide clues for the five "short" side-swiper themers, if possible. Or maybe not.


Mikey from El Prado 12:50 PM  

Everything that Rex and @Frantic Sloth said and more…

@Zzzz… how’d you get away with that comment at 9:29? Nicely done!

I kept looking at the ‘shaded phrases’ (good name for a band or book or song title)…. Wondering WTF do they have in common?


thefogman 12:54 PM  

It didn’t throw me into a blind rage, but it really lacked pizzazz. Amen to what Rex said about the gimmick and to POLLER. Another beige Sunday. Another lunchbag letdown.

What? 12:58 PM  

As usual, Chen shows off. As usual, it slogs.

thfenn 12:58 PM  

How a puzzle with GSPOT front and center, and crossing WHATANIGHT and MANSPLAYER, has no color escapes me. LOL, our technician constructor could've worked on the GSPOT placement a bit, but it's pretty good right where it is. That section alone provoked some interesting reading in which I learned, among other things, that Margaret Sanger got Grafenberg out of a Nazi prison and to the US. Had no idea those two had any connection.

With _OOSE in place, M was my first thought, and goose didn't even occur to me, so missed that whole issue. Agree the theme just wasn't much fun, but certainly an interesting feat of construction.

Fitzy 1:01 PM  

Anyone else think that the clue for 80 & 83 "Puzzle solver's starting point" deserved a "usually" or a "maybe?" I for one always start with the DOWN clues as that tends to reveal the theme a little earlier, if in fact it is a themed
puzzle. Though o/c not all theme answers run ACROSS. I am so used to approaching x-word puzzles this way now that I use this technique even when it is not a themed puzz. I picked up this trick from the player sitting next to me at a Lollapuzzola tourney several years ago. I wish I could remember the guy's name so I could publicly thank him for this solving tip that has served me, a fair to middling solver, so well!

thfenn 1:07 PM  

...sorry, meant mAnSPLAYER.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

This was fun as a themeless, lots of solid multi-word phrases (not a "green paint" to be found among them) and some fresh fill.

The diagonals ended up saving me from a Natick (TRAYNOR/WYE looked plausible to me) but other than that, they were a non-event. Still, what's the big deal with having them there? We solve themelesses all the time. They're fun.

Shandra Dykman 1:15 PM  

I think we’re missing something meta here, since if you anagram all the common letters in the theme answers you get THEORIST DEFENESTRATES UNCHRISTIAN ORAL PIPE

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Yo! This just in: M&A finally noticed the five additional clues for the "long" side-swipe answers. They were buried in a little separate box [in mixed order], at the bottom, after the last Down clues. Sooo … ok.

While I'm here, might as well also divulge the semi-official [at our house] "short" side-swipe answers' clues [in mixed order]:

1. Main Baptist squeezes, in modern slang??
2. That without a thing??
3. Stiff bristle force on earth??
4. Latin 101 but swipe??
5. Sot's outburst, on the rocks??

M&A Swipe Left Desk

Joe Dipinto 1:35 PM  

The clue for 80d should have ", sometimes" appended to it. I, for one, very rarely begin at one across. I think it's ludicrous. You scan the clues for a gimme and start there.

Steve M 2:12 PM  

Yes much crunchier

TTrimble 2:17 PM  

For some of us who have an "interest in letter strings" (hm, is that what it boils down to?), the puzzle idea has a lot of potential, although it'd necessarily be of limited entertainment value for most people. It's pretty clear that the theme requires imagination and keen observation to pull off well. I think Jeff Chen was mostly successful, but with two notable exceptions. Worse of the two was AWE INSPIRING (which isn't). The trouble is that SPIRIT and INSPIRING obviously have the same root in language and so this comes off a little cheap.

The same type of complaint could be leveled at PLANE intersecting PLANET, although less obviously so. Actually, this is interesting: the etymology of "airPLANE" is (courtesy of Oxford Languages) "from French aéroplane, from aéro- ‘air’ + Greek -planos ‘wandering’". The etymology of PLANET is pretty much the same: going back to the Greek, it again means "wanderer"!

Speaking of SPIRIT, I thought HITS THE SAUCE intersecting ROGET'S THESAURUS was pretty good. (HITS THE SAUCE: that's a weird expression! I tried looking up the origin online; first hit was QUORA, no help at all. Big surprise.)

I put in LOONY but eventually gave it up when no animal was forthcoming. To Rex I would say that MOONY is much more apt than GOONY.

98A looks ripe and juicy for a cryptic: "Once turned around, Chaplin's fanny comes into view". :-)

I think I'm more on Team Lewis today. There was some pretty INSPIRED cluing, e.g., "You wouldn't want them to have crush on you" for BOA CONSTRICTORS, and I also liked "Real, in Rio" (MONEY) and "Summer worker, in brief?" (CPA).

td pg -3

puzzlehoarder 2:31 PM  

@Barbara S., FWIW I always assumed those "big birds" we're cranes. Probably because they're bigger and more exotic kind of like old Neil himself. Either way it's one of my favorite refrains.

puzzlehoarder 2:43 PM  

@bocamp, thanks, I had a hunch it would be. I made such a long winded post today I forgot to mention,.

yd -0

CDilly52 2:49 PM  

This is the kind of Sunday puzzle Gran used to call an “and?” Puzzle. She loved a goofy pun-filled Sunday or one you had to manipulate a square or spell something backwards; something that let her have to think in ways we now call “outside the box” in order to solve.

As I became a better solver, I formed the opinion that she loved a nutsy Sunday simply because it required different skills than the usual word and language and trivia knowledge, all of which she possessed in abundance. A Sunday that did not deliver on the entertainment value would just get an “and? . . . “ at the end if our Sunday solve that typically occurred just before the 11:00 news.

If her opinion was “and,” she would ask me if I saw anything she missed that made me laugh or was especially clever. I was well i to my teens before I thought I had enough actual experience to feel I had the right to even have an opinion so in awe of my sweet Gran’s solving acumen (a word I learned at an early age from crosswords, I am certain.

Thee typical nutsy Sunday rarely floats my boat. When it does, I willingly rave about excessive clever weirdness and am reliably on the “other side” from @Rex, who reliably dislikes the craziness if a NYT Sunday.

Alas, I got to the end today in very near record time after which, all I could say was . . . “And??? because for me, this puzzle just doesn’t get its “theme” off the ground, and lacks any hipe of an “aha” moment. In fact, Inremember several times as we would review a puzzle pist-solve, Gran and I noticed how the squares would also, by chance, spell things diagonally, and we we would think how difficult it would be to clue a three-way puzzle that did across, down and diagonalły. combine brilliantly to create some real entertainment. Still boggles my mind in the same way that tjree-D checkers does.

Unless a Sunday really nits on all cylinders the solve (for me) tends to become more if a slog, which it would have been today had I not been dead on our constructors’ individual/collective wavelength/s. So I did not dislike this one, but upon completion, the little soeech bunble above my head, on its way into the i iverse in honor of my belived Gran was a big “ . . . and???”

Sundays are tough. The bar should be high if NYT is to continue to be the Holy Grail of crosswords (and that debate will continue to rage on). Sundays should be creative, clever and the tricksy bits should in my humble opinion relate to a cohesive theme that engages the solver’s brain beyond the mere knowledge of which letter goes in which square. I believe Sundays without this level of knowledge and artistry dilute the beauty of a puzzle devoted to the love of (real) words as they relate to (hopefully) clever use thereof as clued by masters if this art. This one was a constructor’s (or in this case constructors’) puzzle that didn’t get over the proverbial bar for me. It was mercifully easy. Thus endeth a meaningless treatise in the CDilly theory of Sunday NYT criteria.

As Gran would (often) say to me when opining on something I had done for school (usually) and was trying to get away with (as we now say) “phoning it in,”. “You could do a lot better if you tried harder.” And every time, I already knew that but asked anyway and felt horrible.

puzzlehoarder 3:02 PM  

@Joseph Michael, I had my doubts about that I or Y square too until it was confirmed by the diagonal HIT. However if this means you paid no attention to the lame theme while solving that's to your credit. Count that dnf as a symbolic win.

stephanie 3:03 PM  

honestly, the last few sundays were just so bad for me, this one was a relief. exciting and fun? okay, maybe not so much, but doable and didn't feel like a slog so i'll take it. i certainly must give credit to all of you, without whom i wouldn't have googled and subsequently remembered NADIR when everyone was guessing it yesterday and i was thinking 'wtf is that.' so it got put to good use today. can someone explain why roget's thesaurus is a meaningful work? i mean, why is it any more meaningful than anything else? i feel like there must be wordplay involved as i see people saying they liked the clue but my brain can't make heads or tails of it. thanks in advance as always.

someone recently asked about repeat clues and, i've been noticing it too. not stuff that's bound to come up like RTE or ALOE (or ETA or OREO), but for instance, why scandal clues two days in a row? it doesn't bother me, it just stands out. maybe it's all a big coincidence and it has always happened, and there's some reason i didn't notice it months ago. just wonder what caused it to suddenly start jumping out at me.

i have a friend who describes getting f--ked up at parties as being "gooned." so after i realized DAZED wasn't going to work (and goodbye too, to chevy BLAZER), i thought GOONY, although it seemed wrong in that spelling, seemed at least tangentially related. and i remembered the other clue was an animal so i thought ok yes, a GOOSE, of course. but then i went back and looked and saw that it was canada and thought no, it must be MOOSE. and space, moon...okay. honestly i wouldn't have enjoyed either possible reveal so no matter.

a few words on the "theme" - on the website version, the clues are in fact, clued (breakfast side dish, compassionate, nickname for mars, starts drinking, truly magnificent) but it says they're for five diagonals. were it not for the shaded (not circled) squares, i might never have seen nor made use of them, because that arrangement of squares is not diagonal, imho. i also wanted the "cores" to have something in common with each of the others, but they didn't - neither in letters nor subject matter so i just was like...but why? what's the point? i thought it might have soared over my head as sometimes happens, but i guess not. kind of a sad trombone moment. i think i would have been way more satisfied with this one had it not had any "theme" at all, but it wasn't half bad.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

"Moose/moony" went in right away for me.
You're a big cry-baby. Grow-up already.

And you went to school in Ann Arbor?

Mr. Midlife Crisis 3:16 PM  

Jeff Chen


Nothing more to say.

stephanie 3:19 PM  

@Nancy "Who knew Gal Gadot was Israeli?" kind of a lot of people, since she served in the IDF and her public support on social media of the IDF and israel has gotten her into hot water more than once. that said, if it wasn't for my partner's casual interest in superhero films, i probably wouldn't know she existed at all, so. :)

Julie 3:22 PM  

Thanks for the tip. I had no idea so many were involved to produce the finished product. But then again, I'm new to "crosswordese." I've done crosswords for 50+ years on the surface. It wasn't until I discovered this blog that I began to learn of the intricacies.

Unknown 3:30 PM  

Count me in for MOONY/GOONY.

I also stared at SOU for a long time, because I've never seen that word before but apparently it's in the puzzle pretty frequently.

JC66 3:34 PM  


Roget's Thesaurus details words that have the same MEANING.

stephanie 3:34 PM  

hi @TJS! of course can only speak for myself, but i understand that. sometimes when rex praises things of that nature it sticks out like a sore thumb and reads a bit cringey, like he's just very eager to let everyone know that he's woke and should receive a cookie for being so. i've got no qualms about speaking frankly about blackness or queerness, or celebrating either, and i'm all for both diversifying and modernizing the crossword. one big benefit is that it can push us to face why certain names are "common knowledge" and why others are unheard of, despite having similar roles in history, pop culture, sports etc. it's these little windows as opportunities to learn something new that can be a tiny piece of changing the tides, and i'm with all the constructors that use their reach and platform to be inclusive.

but i think the reason rex's mentions can rub the wrong way is because it comes off not as celebrating blackness or queerness, but rather celebrating himself.

stephanie 3:43 PM  

@thefogman i filled in POLLER last and, reading it so as to rhyme with "HOLLER" i actually googled it to see what kind of new vocabulary word this was. then, it dawned on me...sigh.

Le Chifforobe 3:49 PM  

MOOSE seemed like such an obvious choice to me. I thought everyone knew that Canadians don't say "Canada Goose"...they say "Back Bacon".

stephanie 3:50 PM  

@Fitzy surprised i got this far through the comments before anyone divulged their solving strategy! i expected to hear more and kind of was curious to, too. when it comes to the clue, i suppose it depends on from whose perspective you read it. i would think the constructors expect solvers to start at 1A, or at least see that first. but from the solvers perspective, as you point out, it's not necessarily a given. there have even been puzzles where a random clue just caught my eye, and i could start mid puzzle...if i wasn't so particular, anyway.

RoadshowReject 3:57 PM  

I second DavidinDC’s question. One definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome.” If Rex and his posse didn’t do the Sunday NYTXW we wouldn’t have this delightful comment thread, and their heads would stop hurting from hitting that wall over and over.

For me, the Sunday NYTXW in the actual NYT Magazine is part of my lovely weekend routine. I jump out of bed, feed the dog and drive to my local grocery store to pick up the physical paper (saves $3/week over subscription price)…forgive me for being naive, but I am in awe of most constructors (I couldn’t do it) and no matter how well a puzzle lives up to those five requirements (or doesn’t) I enjoy the effort.

stephanie 3:59 PM  

@JC66 hm. i see. so it's a book, or work, full of meanings...meaningful...i mean, it just seems like a better answer to that clue would be the dictionary. i thank you very much for your explanation all the same, at least it makes sense to me now!

sixtyni yogini 4:03 PM  

“Who cares and so what..”
My sentiments exactly.

kitshef 4:06 PM  

@Zzzz 10:49 - Wonder Woman - at least the Gal Gadot version - is from Themyscira. Or if you're old enough to remember the Lynda Carter version, Paradise Island.

Nancy 4:12 PM  

Re: GAL GADOT: For a long time, I wouldn't have known GAL GADOT if I fell over her. And then I was belatedly introduced to her in an earlier NYT puzzle -- or perhaps several earlier puzzles -- and simply assumed (from the clue, I imagine) that GAL GADOT was the name of the superheroine character.

I mean, doesn't "GAL GADOT" sound like a superheroine character?

But now I learn that GAL GADOT is an actress and not the superheroine at all -- the superheroine being Wonder Woman. (Who also sounds like a superheroine, btw).

It's all so confusing.

Back in the day, people who played superheroes had ordinary-people-sounding names. I never would have confused Christopher Reeve with Superman or Clayton Moore with The Lone Ranger. But that was then and this is now.

To all who made clear to me why GAL GADOT is Israeli -- thank you!

bocamp 4:16 PM  

@puzzlehoarder (2:43 PM) 👍 for 0 yd

I'm in good company! :)

td pg -4

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Joseph Michael 4:20 PM  

@puzzlehoarder, you’re right. I filled in the “i” without question when I was looking at the diagonal. Then later I forgot all about the theme and, as a final step, changed the “i” to a “y.” Color me stupid.

JC66 4:22 PM  


A dictionary provides the MEANING(s) of a word.

A thesaurus provides a list of words with the same MEANING.

Barbara S. 4:24 PM  

@puzzlehoarder (2:31 PM)
Interesting. The sandhill crane's range includes northern Ontario so it's not impossible. But for sheer iconic power I still favor Canada geese. Neil Young did mention them explicitly in "Far from Home":

"Bury me out on the prairie
Where the buffalo used to roam
Where the Canada geese once filled the sky
And then I won't be far from home."

(I expect some wag to crop up and say that it should have been "bison" so what did Neil Young know about species anyway. But I say: artistic license.)

Hartley70 4:27 PM  

I had no problem with this puzzle and finished it in record Sunday time. While the diagonals were a nice touch on a Sunday, I was able to fill them in on auto-pilot so that made the rest of the puzzle easier than it would have been otherwise. The most annoying thing today was the YouTube video in Rex’s post that wouldn’t shut up no matter how many times I told it I’d had enough.

A 4:35 PM  

Didn’t finish yd’s puz til today. In addition to all the compliments Rex gave, the Cat nation clue was a nice change of pace.

Today’s puz was fine for a Sunday. Didn’t care for the IDIDIT and IGETITNOW dupes. ASSOONAS bothered me, too, until I saw that if you use the B from the diagonal BACON but turn at the A, you get a BASSOON.

Today’s birthday composer is Jeanine Deckers, born 17 October 1933. The Singing Nun

Zed 4:41 PM  

@Stephanie - “meaningful” as in full of different meanings. ROGETS THESAURUS is chock full of meanings.
As to your other question, I think it’s one of those things you might never notice, but once you start noticing repetitions you can’t stop noticing them. It really is just coincidence, though. I don’t remember the exact answer now, but not that long ago a fairly unusual word showed up in the NYTX on the very day I did a several month old independent puzzle with the exact same unusual word.

@puzzlehoarder - Cranes? I’m trying to think if I have ever seen a crane high enough in the sky to cast a shadow. Having once taught in a community that hosted an annual gOOSE Festival my thought has always been it was Canada Geese in the song.

@TTrimble - is that what it boils down to? - Even if it is, de gustibus and all that. I mean, I’m thinking mathematicians working in combinatorics on words would be interested in this kind of theme.

@Shandra Dykman - 🤣😂🤣😂 - UNCHRISTIAN ORAL PIPE is going to be the title of the report on the Southern Baptist sex abuse investigation.

JC66 4:43 PM  


Rereading your comment, I can see why you think dictionary may be a "better" answer, but, IMHO THESAURUS works well, too.

stephanie 4:49 PM  

@JC66 yes indeed they do, and i appreciate your linked illustrations :) the clue "meaningful work" could be read as "work full of different meanings" or "work full of literal words for meaning; literal meanings" or "work full of similar meanings" etc. just a personal preference on dictionary, didn't mean to imply the actual clue/answer pair was incorrect.

Colin 5:02 PM  

@Nancy, 4:12 PM: "Back in the day, people who played superheroes had ordinary-people-sounding names."
I'm sorry but on this, I feel the need to respond. You must think that "Gal" is for something like "Supergal," but "Gal" (גל) is a Hebrew (Israeli) name, the name she was given and certainly not out of the ordinary. And to give another example, Simu Liu is the Canadian star playing the Marvel superhero in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. No George or Clayton here.
What, exactly, is "ordinary-people-sounding"?

stephanie 5:19 PM  

@JC66 yes, i agree! i realize my first reply didn't do a good job of expressing that thesaurus was a fine answer also.

stephanie 5:23 PM  

@Z yeah, like that thing where you or a close friend/family member gets a new car and you start seeing them everywhere, or you learn a new word and start seeing it everywhere, etc. must be it. what has been seen cannot be unseen and continues to be seen...i wonder what tomorrow's link will be.

Smith 5:24 PM  

@BabS 9:49

If you haven't yet, you must listen to Molly Tuttle's cover of Helpless

Eniale 5:30 PM  

WOODY meets GSPOT in the same puzzle? Wow. @Gill, where are you today?

Smith 5:42 PM  

So no problem here with MOONY MOOSE because, space cadet (that might be a Joaquin's Dictum thing).

But I was taken aback by the title, now happily retired from having to deal with the Common Core, not sure it even still exists. Feared it might have standards or progress indicators and wondered if LMS and I would be the only ones to understand. UGH.

@Nancy Gal Gadot is the actress, and I only know she's Israeli from...crossword puzzles. No idea if superheroes have nationalities 😁

One more raising hand ✋ to say "enough with Scandal". Never seen it. Don't plan to.

And another ✋ up for overall meh reaction to puzzle. Sunday is the only day I solve on paper and didn't notice the diagonal clues (way down at the bottom right, after the Down clues) until I saw it mentioned here, but didn't need them. Feat of construction granted. But give us joy of solving instead.

Harry 6:22 PM  

The similarity between Ontario's Coat of Arms and that of Michigan (where I was born and raised) should have seen me fill "MOOSE". Yet the speed-solver within me went for the Canadian "gOOSE"

Scanned and scanned for my error ... 1 letter DNF.

chance2travel 6:42 PM  

Started with lOOpY and tried to think of a fiver letter spelling loon for 69D. lOOpy -> lOONY -> MOONY which gave me MOOSE no problem. Completely missed the G in that SPOT.

So yeah, felt like a themeless

jae 6:57 PM  

@stephanie - “that thing” is called the Badder-Meinhof phenomenon.

Barbara S. 7:04 PM  

Smith (5:24 PM)
Ooh, I like Molly Tuttle. I found her an appealing combination of intensity and restraint. She's clearly a talented guitarist, and I liked the fiddle passage, too. Thanks for the recommendation -- I'm going to look up more of her stuff. Mind you, I'm not sure anybody can quite match the deep yearning of Neil Young's voice.

If you've watched the Tuttle video, did you notice "Son Volt" on the poster behind her? Always nice to see one of our own.

Zed 7:27 PM  

Molly Tuttle
Son Volt

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

If you tell me "Canada" and "goose," my mind goes not to Ontario but to Newfoundland and Labrador.

That's where the two long-runway airports are that provide the last chance to bail out before committing to crossing the Atlantic: Goose Bay and Gander.

TTrimble 7:48 PM  

I think I'm just wondering myself how I would describe what you're trying to put your finger on, in a way that suggests what the appeal might be, beyond "letter strings" which sounds sort of dry. (Not the mathematical study. There are many fascinating things in that area.) "Interest in letter strings" is okay as a first approximation, but it wants something more... it yearns to breathe free!

Oh wait: there is already a word out there. Anybody remember the book Language on Vacation, by one Dmitri A. Borgmann? I was given that book as a kid and found it a lot of fun. Anyway, his word for it is logology. It's a snappy word for what he also calls "recreational linguistics": mainly, wordplay like palindromes [he has some really long ones], anagrams, pangrams, and so forth and so on. It's a charmingly eccentric book, but no longer in print. I'd love to get my hands on it again.

I learned from his book the word "uncopyrightable", a long (the longest?) word where no letter is repeated.

I also learned the anagram eleven+two = twelve+one.

A pangram with only 30 letters: How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!

One thing he gave a few examples of that I thought was a fun challenge was anagramming someone's name in such a way that it would say something meaningful about that person. Since my first and last name have been disclosed on occasion within the commentariat, I guess it'll be okay to give the anagram I came up with for myself:

Todd Hampton Trimble
Pro Math Mind - Bottled

I know the first and last name of @Frantic Sloth and of @bocamp, and I might try giving those a crack if I also knew the middle names.

It may be that logology is better as a participatory sport than a spectator sport. Lots of creative challenges for those who like this sort of thing: I imagine @Barbara S. as someone who might be up for that.

Smith 7:53 PM  


Love Son Volt!

Smith 7:56 PM  

Forgot to say that because we're watching Only Murders in the Building I plopped in BASSoonist. Fits. Better answer?

jae 7:57 PM  
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jae 8:01 PM  

...Stupid auto correct - it is Baader not Badder

Joe Dipinto 8:18 PM  

Nobody mentioned that Meghan TRAINOR was "All About That Bass" back in 2015, and, lucky her, a BASS PLAYER showed up.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

For a Sunday was above a easy-medium for me
STRO?? No.
Had loony and wanted loon for the cross

RooMonster 10:06 PM  

My (real) name anagrammed:
viral drain

RooMonster Really? Guy

kitshef 10:25 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 8:18 - Z(zzz) sort of mentioned it at 1:01am - fifth post of the day.

spacecraft 11:38 AM  

A bit junky for a Chen; I expect better. Yes, I too suffered the one-letter DNF with gOOSE. Really should have edited that cross to avoid this. True, there's only one animal on the seal, and shame on us if we don't know it, but in case we don't there ought to be an out the other way. Edit, edit, edit!

It's an unwieldy, gimmicky tour de force that costs too much to pull off. For an unknown constructor I might grant a par; for this guy: bogey.

Burma Shave 1:48 PM  




rondo 1:57 PM  

Did not for one second consider gOOSE, I think the editors used 'animal' instead of 'bird' to direct it more towards MOOSE.

Wow, no mention of SELA Ward by @spacey. Golfer Michele WIE, yeah BAE BAE.

Constructioneering, yes. Payoff, not so much.

Brett Alan 12:43 AM  

Just did this one online as it's today's syndicated puzzle. I did it on the Seattle Times site...and they completely omitted the circles! Left me wondering what in the world the theme was--when I got "Patron of the arts" I thought maybe it had to do with school subjects ("Common core"), but it quickly became clear that was wrong.

I hadn't noticed that there was a "notepad" which mentioned the diagonal answers and gave the clues; just as well, as it REALLY would have confused me since there was nothing to indicate where the diagonals were, and as has been discussed here the "diagonals" were only partially diagonal.

thomas 7:14 PM  
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thomas 7:44 PM  
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