Red accessory for cartoondom's Huckleberry Hound / SUN 1-9-22 / All-in-one purchase from a smoke shop / Mineral used as a flame retardant / Aromatic herbal drink / Spade with a short handle? / Hardly a lover of hot wings / Mexican business magnate who was once the world's richest person

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (whole NW was a real bear for me)

THEME: "Food for Thought" — a bunch of apple types appear in theme answers; these are supposed to represent the apple(s) that helped Julie NEWMAR discover the LAW OF GRAVITY (116A: Scientific contribution from 98-Down, discovered in a manner suggested by this puzzle's theme) ... wow, between playing Catwoman and doing physics, she was a busy wo- ... oh, sorry, it's NEWTON (98D: Who was famously hit over the head with inspiration?). NEWTON discovered the LAW OF GRAVITY. There are a bunch of long Down answers that I think are also supposed to evoke the whole apple-falling / law-discovering thing, in an indirect way. I think that's it. "I GET IT NOW"? (104A: "Eureka!"):

The Apples:
  • JAZZ VOCALIST (24A: Carmen McRae or Anita O'Day, notably)
  • MOUNT FUJI (32A: Endpoint of a Shinto pilgrimage)
  • GALA AFFAIR (52A: Fete)
  • EMPIRE STATE (69A: Birthplace of five U.S. presidents, with "the")
  • WHEN IN ROME... (85A: Start of some conventional wisdom)
The related, probably thematic Down answers:
  • WEIGHTY MATTER (3D: It's nothing to joke about)
  • COME ON DOWN (39D: Game show invitation)
  • "FREE FALLIN'" (50D: Tom Petty hit with the opening line "She's a good girl, loves her mama")
  • FORCE OF NATURE (60D: Unforgettable, unstoppable sort)
Word of the Day: TRICOT (123A: Lingerie fabric) —
1a plain warp-knitted fabric (as of nylon, wool, rayon, silk, or cotton) with a close inelastic knit and used especially in clothing (such as underwear)
2a twilled clothing fabric of wool with fine warp ribs or of wool and cotton with fine weft ribs (
• • •

***HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS IN SYNDICATIONLAND*** (if you solve in your local paper, maybe a week or two behind the NYTXW's original publication date, this means You!)
. Happy Newish Year! 2022! I hope you are holding up during these cold, dark days. It's early January, which means it's time for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. 

2021 was an important year for me, as my blog (this blog, the one you are reading right now) turned 15 years old! [noisemaker sounds!!!!]. That's a lot of years old. For a blog, anyway. 15 is also a pretty important crossword-related anniversary—maybe the only important crossword-related anniversary. The standard US crossword grid is 15x15, and now Rex Parker is also 15! Rex Parker, spanning the grid to give you the constant variety of crossword commentary: the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat (dum dum dum DUM!) The human drama of ... OK now I'm just channeling Jim McKay from the '70s-era introduction to "Wide World of Sports," but I do hope this blog has provided some insight, some entertainment, some commiseration, some solace, some sense of regularity during what are obviously pretty tumultuous and often lonely times. I hope it has enhanced your solving pleasure, giving you something to look forward to even (especially?) when the puzzle lets you down, and someone to celebrate with when the puzzle is wonderful. If it's also given you someone to shout at in disagreement, that's OK too.

A lot of labor goes into producing this blog every day (Every. Day.) and the hours are, let's say, less than ideal (I'm either solving and writing at night, after 10pm, or in the morning, before 6am). Most days, I really do love the writing, but it is work, and once a year (right now!) I acknowledge that fact. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog beyond a simple, direct contribution request once a year. No ads, no gimmicks. Just here for you, every day, rain or shine, whether you like it or, perhaps, on occasion, not :) It's just me and my laptop and some free blogging software and, you know, a lot of rage, but hopefully there's illumination and levity along the way. I do genuinely love this gig, and whether you're an everyday reader or a Sunday-only reader or a flat-out hatereader, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

I'll throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which I guess it does sometimes, when it's not trying to push crypto on you, what the hell?!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. Last year's thank-you postcards featured various portraits of my cat, Alfie, designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. They were such a hit that I asked Ella to design this year's thank-you postcard as well, this time featuring both my cats. And this is the result. Behold this year's thank-you card: "Alfie and Olive: Exploring the Grid":
We went back and forth on whether she should add more black squares to make the grid look more plausibly fillable (that's a Lot of white space), but in the end we decided not to crowd the jumping (or hanging?) Olive with more black squares, and instead just to leave the card as is, with the idea that the cats are exploring a grid that is ... under construction. Anyway, this card is personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share it with snail-mailers (and oh, what the hell, if you are a PayPal / Venmo donor and you want one too, just say so in the message). Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

• • •

Well this certainly was RAGTAG. Honestly, if you'd told me just before the end, just before the revealer, that the theme was simply "apples," I would've believed you. The circled squares contain apples. That fact was obvious early on, and it continued to be obvious through five not very exciting theme answers. Once I finally pieced together LAW OF GRAVITY, I sort of vaguely remembered seeing NEWTON's name earlier, and yeah, NEWTON, apples, I know the story. Only a bit later did I notice that the long Downs seemed kind of punnily related to the theme. Is everyone going to notice that? There's no part of the puzzle that specifically highlights them as thematic, and the circled squares (maybe they're shaded or something else in the paper / on the app?) really shout "look at us!" so ... why would you look anywhere else? I guess the long Downs are cute or funny, in a dadjoke kind of way. Ironically, the whole thing felt pretty uninspired. Why weren't the *apples* going Down? That ... that would've made sense. This ... well, as I said: RAGTAG. An assortment of loosely related, vaguely thematic material. The apples weren't even hidden inside longer answers; they were just ... words. There just wasn't any joy to be had here. Further, the fill doesn't shine very brightly either. The long Downs are decent enough, just as standalone answers, but the grid was so choppy that most of the fill was short and kind of fussy, and some of it just made me shrug. ANISE TEA? (23A: Aromatic herbal drink). I had the TEA part, but woof no idea people drank ANISE TEA. I guess they drink all kinds of tea, but "aromatic" doesn't add much in the way of specificity. And what is GAS RING? I have a gas stove, and the flames from the elements definitely form ring shapes, but I would not call them "stovetop devices." The NFL / REFS cross-reference was OK because it involved sequential Across answers (58A: With 59-Across, flag bearers, for short?), but the CARLOS / SLIM answer (88A: With 76-Across, Mexican business magnate who was once the world's richest person), ugh, that one is arranged in the grid so that it reads bottom to top *and* right to left—awkward on both counts. There just wasn't much to, uh, sink my teeth into today.

["NEWTON got beaned by the apple good ... yeah yeah yeah yeah"]

The NW corner was by far the hardest part of the puzzle for me. Started there, got nowhere, and ultimately finished there, but only after struggling mightily to see the WEIGHTY part of WEIGHTY MATTER. Had PDF instead of GIF at 5A: JPEG alternative, and since the "F" checked out, boy was I stuck. Also, ew, GIT GO, ugh, bah, yuck, just no idea what was going (sorry, goin') on there (5D: Startin' place). That Dogpatch-speak—unpleasant, for sure. No clue on 1D: Cause of a jolt (SCARE). No clue on 2D: Really busy, perhaps (ORNATE). No idea what awk. country abbr. was gonna go at 31A: Neighbor of S. Sudan (ETH.). No idea that [Kind of writing] would be CREATIVE. And as we've established, no idea anyone drank ANISE TEA. I was having trouble even lower down in the NW too, with UBER (45D: Modern lead-in to "X") and SEAEEL (56A: Anago, on a sushi menu) being at least slightly hard for me to come up with. I did manage, eventually, to remember "MMM, BOP," a song that you absolutely could not get away from in 1997, but also a song that I kinda secretly actually liked. Let's listen to it now.

VAPE KIT made me wince (57D: All-in-one purchase from a smoke shop). It's probably the most original thing in the grid, but still, ugh, vaping and its related accoutrements, can we not? I'll give you VAPE, it's a useful four-letter word, but all the gear and accessories etc. let's just not dwell on it. Moving on: What is the logic behind spelling EPILOG thusly (that is, without a "-UE") (86D: Afterword). EPILOGUE ... yes, that looks right. Is that an entirely different word? Can you just spell it however you want? Is it a UK v. US thing? Hang on ... yep, looks like EPILOG is just a less common variant of "Epilogue." Looks like you can technically write PROLOG too, but wow that looks awful, I have never seen that (I don't think). I remember reading a Raymond Carver story (maybe more than one) where he spelled "cigarette" like this: "cigaret." I remember feeling "who does he think he is?!" and at the same time "that is so cool!" (I was 20, my ideas about literature were all over the map, cut me some slack). I'm not glad that Carver smoked (and consequently died of lung cancer), but I *am* glad that he didn't vape. That would've looked terrible in author photos. My point is: EPILOG has an eerie, alien look about it, despite checking out, dictionary-wise. 

What else? Oh, GALA AFFAIR ... so ... like ... a GALA, then? You mean GALA? It sounds like you mean GALA. Is GALA AFFAIR not redundant somehow? I had no idea until today that GIGI had anything to do with Virginia (52D: Nickname for Virginia) (the name, not the state ... I assume). There's apparently still no industry standard for the AHH / AAH distinction (108A: "That's the spot"). That's enough for today. Oh, no, one last thing. I think my favorite part of the puzzle was the brief moment I thought the puzzle was going to break exciting new ground; that is, the moment I looked at 126A: Defiant refusal and then looked at my grid and saw "--CK NO!" I wrote in HECK NO, because I dared not dream. Then I couldn't make HECK NO works, so I briefly thought, "could it be ....!?" But then no. No it couldn't be. HECK NO was right. Did I find HECK NO satisfying? I think you know the answer. 

  • 41A: Spade with a short handle? (SAM)—his name ("handle") is only three letters long, which I guess,  yeah, is pretty short
  • 75A: Just roll with it! (DIE)—these "it" clues can be tricky ([Step on it!] for STAIR, for instance, or [Beat it!] for EGG, say). If the answer were an expression meaning "Just roll with it!," then the clue phrase would be in quotation marks. But it's not. So you're looking for the "it."
  • 4D: Artist known for his lampooning cartooning (NAST)Thomas Nast, who popularized the Democratic donkey and the Republican elephant, as well as the modern image of Santa Claus
  • 45D: Modern lead-in to "X" (UBER)—UberX is just ... UBER. It's the basic service UBER provides. I guess the "X" distinguishes it from other levels of service (Comfort, Select, Black ... please don't ask me what they mean, I don't work for UBER)
  • 9D: Hardly a lover of hot wings? (ICARUS)—OK *this* is the best thing in the grid. ICARUS stole the wax wings his dad (Daedalus) was working on and took them for a spin, famously flying too close to the sun, which caused the wings to melt and ICARUS to fall to his death. "Hot wings" heh ... good one.
  • 72D: Hard thing to do? (TIME)—referring to the expression "to do time," i.e. to serve a prison sentence
Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joe Dipinto 12:13 AM  

I GET IT NOW is going right through Newton's brain, presumably as the apples keep falling on his head. And it's symmetrical to MOUNT FUJI. I'm quite sure it's part of the theme.

Zed 12:17 AM  

Agree with Rex on the ICARUS clue. Laugh out loud funny in a darkly mythological sort of way.

Very disappointed that northern spies didn’t make the puzzle. Still the best apple for apple pies. Relative newbie JAZZ making the puzzle but snubbing northern spy screams age discrimination.

NAJAF? Alrighty then. Apparently a major pilgrimage site for Shi’ites. I did not know that. Got all the letters from crosses and had to hope all the crosses were correct.

Carol 12:19 AM  

Happy Anniversary Rex - 15 years is indeed a very long time! Thanks for all the insights!

jae 12:22 AM  

Tough. Not sure why but I struggled A BIT with this one. The west was tougher than the east. Solid, smooth, and clever, with some spot on long downs, liked it more than the typical Sunday.

Frantic Sloth 12:29 AM  

I had fun with this, despite solving it as a themeless. Or maybe because of.
This theme was what I've come to expect on the Sundee - lackluster and not necessary to be able to solve the puzzle.
It's entirely possible that I'm just missing something beyond the tie-in with apples, NEWTON, and GRAVITY, right?
Pick up your jaw.

Too many lookie-loo clues didn't help.
But, I still enjoyed it overall and just now noticed that the apples are falling down through the grid onto NEWTON's head. Nice touch!

I've never heard of the JAZZ apple, but there are so many varieties, that's not surprising. Found out it originated in New Zealand, but is now available world-wide. Too bad it's not tart.

BMP before GIF at 5A because it's righter (to me, anyway), but Joaquin's Dictum and all that.

I have a friend nicknamed GIGI (hard "G"), but her name isn't Virginia. It's something else.


Andrea 1:09 AM  

I thought the whole apple falling on Newton’s head while he was napping under a tree was a pure myth…

okanaganer 1:21 AM  

Apple theme! (And not the computer company.)

I used to live in a Picker's Cabin (official zoning occupancy!) in an apple orchard. Here was the view from my front deck in 2005. When I first moved in in 2001, I was surrounded by venerable Macintoshes, old gnarled trees with snaky branches; I could pretty much lean out and pick one if I wanted. Then about 2 years before this photo, the owner ripped them all out and replaced them with AMBROSIAs. Cuz basically, sold for 3x the price.

As you may note, they look like vines rather than trees. And this is what has happened to the South Okanagan, which once was a landscape of orchards but is now overwhelmingly vineyards. And even the orchards, like this one, look a lot like vineyards. Easier to prune and pick, I guess. Plus ca change...Okay! So GALA and all the others are great, but my fave is still SPARTAN cuz they're not quite so over sweet.

Puzzle! Ok I hate college abbrev's, and 33 down really pissed me off. I guessed UTEN (Tennessee?) then UTEX (U of Texas, duh). What the @$%#%*%$(^& is UTEP? Unguessable. So finished with that stupid error. But liked them apples.

Ken Freeland 1:32 AM  

Yes, the NW corner was indeed the hardest part... too hard for this PPP hater. Better luck next week...

chefwen 1:50 AM  

Happy Blogiversary! Can’t believe I’ve been reading you for 15 years.

Don’t eat a lot of apples, should, but I don’t. Didn’t know JAZZ or EMPIRE and have never seen them in any stores around here. Slim pickings in our markets and the shelves keep getting emptier.

Found the puzzle to be medium with a few areas of tough, especially the SW corner, but managed to EKE it out. Never associated CATALOG with inventory.

@GILLY, I’ll chip in for the drinks if you’ll take me to London with y’all.

Roberto 2:01 AM  

The 4 letters of jazz were not circled in the firm that I dowoaded
Nor in the answer grid of the NY times commenter. I assumed that answer had something to do with the theme as the clue seemed so convuluted. I too had trouble in the nw. I had the rest of the puzzle before I could finish there.

Alex 2:11 AM  

You might consider including ICARUS as theme-related fill. It’s symmetric with NEWTON and, you know, the whole falling from the sky thing.

Frantic Sloth 3:08 AM  

Congratulations on your crystal anniversary, Rex! Payment in honor of same to follow. 😁

Completely missed the second level theme-ish long downs. That's a nice additional feature, but still not enough to save the theme.

Agree that GALA AFFAIR is from the division of repetitive redundancy department resulting in me doing a double-take more than once as a result.
Also loved the ICARUS clue and had HEll NO before fucking HECK.

Interpreted 72D as "doing hard TIME". The end result's the same, but it makes the clue more apt.

Michael Chad Taylor 3:58 AM  

I think that ICARUS falling to Earth is another themer.

Anonymous 4:34 AM  

'The apples weren't even hidden inside longer answers; they were just ... words.' C'mon. That was the best part of this puzzle. The apples were falling. On Isaac Newton's head. Get it? Ha ha. apples...

Newton was a guy with serious insight. Some insolent apple happen along his pate, Sir Zac would have invoked the cloak of superposition and derived that equation too.

Brian A in SLC 5:09 AM  

Our late father's sister was named Virginia, but we called her Aunt Ginny. (I think that's a fairly common nickname - but Gigi, I suspect not so much, I have never heard it.) A wonderful, warm extremely ethical person, God rest her soul.

To Uncle Rex, ditto on the Icarus clue, loved it

Conrad 5:54 AM  

Had pretty much the same problems as OFL in the NW. Lots of overwrites, and I needed Google Maps to limit the field on 31A. Like @Frantic, had never heard of the JAZZ apple. CARLOS/SLIM was one of those "How in HECK do I know that?" things. And DHAKA at 80D was one of those "How in HECK do I not know that?" things. SEA EEL at 56A was a pure guess with just the S in place. Overall, challenging in the NW, medium the rest of the way.

Lewis 6:02 AM  

@rex -- One more element to the puzzle, smack down the middle of the grid: ICARUS LOSES TO NEWTON.

American Liberal Elite 6:03 AM  

Why does the University of Minnesota use an upside-down "W" as its logo?

Lewis 6:23 AM  

I’ve never met a Timothy Polin puzzle that I haven’t loved. They are always clever, with an element of fun, and every clue well thought out. And he sets a high bar.

Today’s kitchen-sink puzzle is marvelous. A salad of disparate elements that work together and build throughout, playing on the pull of gravity, until at the end I just looked at the grid, thinking, “Now THAT is a Puzzle”. That downward pull was so prevalent, that the Libra in me was grateful for the offsetting UP in MEETUP.

There was tricky cluing to keep things interesting, plus witty cluing, such as for SAM and ORNATE, and that Hall of Fame clue [Hardly a lover of hot wings?] for ICARUS. I think my jaw actually dropped in joy and amazement when the answer to that appeared.

Another sweet moment for me was when the answers SNAKE and TAXIWAY brought to my inner ear – I actually heard this! – that classic Samuel L. Jackson line from “Snakes on a Plane”.

Thank you, Sir Timothy, for a rich solve wrought through your art and craft. Bravo!

Colin 6:51 AM  

Happy Blogo-versary, Rex!

For me, just south of the NW corner gave me the most trouble... Started with my thinking Anago was a type of SEAEGG, not SEAEEL. (Turns out Tamago is an egg.) I guess GIF can be an alternative to JPEG, but I would prefer PNG or TIF, which are also still images (TIFF, technically, although the files extensions are .TIF). Neither my wife (who drinks herbal teas) nor I had heard of ANISETEA either. I also don't know MMMBOP or Hanson, mmm.

The construction with the two long vertical answers COMEONDOWN and FREEFALLIN worked cleverly for this theme.

Finally, I thought for a defiant refusal, HECKNO in 2022 is rather milquetoast. HELLNO would be more defiant! F***NO would be even more defiant!!

Colin 6:56 AM  

I'll also add my enthusiastic vote re: the ICARUS clue!

Trey 7:31 AM  

NW corner was tough for me as well. I opened with Sent (for 1A "Disseminated") and then Shock (for 1D "Cause of a jolt") which prevented me from fitting in CREATIVE. My nonsense in the beginning lead me to nauGHTY MATTER ("Nothing to joke about"), which is not entirely wrong.

I completely missed the semi-theme related answers that Rex pointed out. That certainly would have increased my appreciation of the puzzle. He did not mention that ADAGE was clued as an apple (forbidden fruit), but that is an across answer

As I saw the theme, it was fine, and the puzzle was fine. Nothing in the theme gave me that moment of excitement that some themes do. I had one nit about the theme. I have not heard of some of these apple types, so I looked them up. JAZZ apples are noted in Wikipedia to be a trademark - the others are not noted as such. If so, then it does not really fit as the others did.

Best clue of the day was for ICARUS. There were some other great ones today, as noted by Rex. SAM was up there on that list

Trey 7:45 AM  

@okanaganer 1:21 UTEP is University of Texas El Paso. It is a very common abbreviation seen in college sports, and it is not a small school that you would only have heard of if you live in the vicinity or know it through crosswords (thinking of COE and ELON). While I agree that college sports is somewhat niche (as it seems that a fair number of readers in this blog watch few if any sports, based on the comments at times on sports-related clues), it is as fair game as opera-related clues are to those of us who do not care a lick for opera.

pmdm 7:45 AM  

Irritated that I could not remember Newton's name. I am a fan of sour apples. (Love the crab apples in the Bronx Botanical Garden.) But my relative lack of knowledge of the names of apples other than Granny Smith did not help me. Though the down answers (which I consider theme entries) were clever. Nothing more to say other than I enjoyed solving the puzzle.

OffTheGrid 7:48 AM  

@Rex. You had me at cats. Gof help me, I love those critters, have from the GITGO. I would normally be heading to my local animal shelter about this time to clean the cat kennels & litter boxes, replenish food and water, and spend a few minutes with them. Alas! There's been a small COVID outbreak there. My daughter and grandson are infected from a different source. I am asymptomatic but I've definitely been exposed. Ergo I am going back into isolation mode. All parties involved were vaccinated.

Puzzle-I liked it a lot. I thought there were many clever clues and the theme was tight enough. I got an extra little buzz from @Rex pointing out the thematic down answers that I had not grokked.

Not a happy new year yet but there's still time. Cheers.

Son Volt 7:49 AM  

A little loose thematically - although I did like how both LAW OF GRAVITY and I GET IT NOW crossed NEWTON. The black square placement in the center is so odd that it appears as if an attempt at apple grid art but tough to verify.

Lots of decent stuff - liked the long downs as stand-alones. Not much pushback - nice to see Tom Petty but whiffed on Carlos Slim. Agree with Rex on VAPE KIT - ugly answer. Rex doesn’t realize that the device built into his stovetop is a GAS RING.

Yesterday was David Bowie’s birthday - wondering whether including ROEG was an homage?

Enjoyable enough Sunday solve.

The Joker 7:59 AM  

@Frantic. Your friend, something else, has an unusual name. (I'll leave now)

SouthsideJohnny 8:05 AM  

Wow, this one just seemed “awkward” the whole time. For example, cruising along midtown and I bump into DEO VOLENTE - ok, so what city am I in again - or should that be what country ? I didn’t bother checking with Aunt Google to see if Mr. VOLENTE is animal, mineral or vegetable. Then of course we have ARIGATO - which really brightens up the NE (he’s probably having a good time with his neighbor DOLOR as we speak).

Lots of other golden oldies to warm the heart as well - who can forget that old Chestnut MMMBOP - a truly classic refrain if ever there was one. Nice attention to detail as well - NEWMAR crossing CARLOS (of renowned SLIM fame of course) who then crosses CERN - riveting !

Additionally, I learned what a MIEN is, and that mujeres become SRAS when they get married - so I left more enlightened than when I arrived. I’m not all that comfortable with the clue for WHEN IN ROME (Start of some conventional wisdom) - in what sense is doing something just because a group of others are doing it “wise” ?

I also noted that we have a couple of rap artists as guests today so Rex will be pleased that homage is being paid to those who espouse vulgarity, profanity and violence against woman. Good stuff today.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

UTEP = University of Texas at El Paso.

The school was known as Texas Western in 1966 when it won the 1966 NCAA basketball tournament. That may sound like a piece of sports trivia, but it had enormous societal impact. Texas Western started five Black players. They played University of Kentucky, coached by noted racist Adolph Rupp. Guess how many Blacks were on Rupp’s team. Texas Western’s victory helped nudge southern schools into finally recruiting Black players. In fact, I think the next Kentucky won the tournament, they were led by a Black player. There’s a movie about the 1966 tournament - Glory Road.

— Jim C. in Maine

dan 8:12 AM  

Gah that NW corner! I had ASABEE for ORNATE, SHOCK for SCARE, KEN for ETH (which I was convinced was right since maybe it really was SPARK not SHOCK [it's neither]), at one point OLIVE TEA for ANISE TEA, SENT for SOWN and so on. That was just a bloodbath.

One could've at least gotten right of GITGO and substituted CITGO with just a little grief, and then clued the sign in Boston that is on one face of my MIT class ring. Ah, well. At least it wasn't GITMO

CF 8:25 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot. I also think "ICARUS LOSES TO NEWTON" is part of the theme, since after the wings got hot, gravity was Icarus's, er, downfall.

GILL I. 8:29 AM  

Timothy and I just aren't able to dance to the same tune. I want to, but.... He wants to go mountain climbing in the dead of winter...I want to stay home in front of the fireplace and read a book. He'll want to go to a steak-house and order his usual porterhouse...I want to go to a Japanese restaurant and order a Dragon Roll. If he gives in, and we go for Sushi, he will suggest a SEA EEL. I will finally get up and leave.
And so it goes.....
By the way....I never noticed those downs relating to any apple themes....Should I?
I pretty much knew we were working with apples here. I love apples. I make a bodacious apple dumpling dessert with GALA's....I've never seen a JAZZ apple, but if I do, I'll make a little pie and let it cool on my window sill just like June Cleaver does.
But what gave you angst? you ask...My first "Oh ye gods of mother of pearls" was looking at MMMBOP. Then I had the misfortune of listening to @Rex's post. Nasal anyone? I also had the NAJAF "Holy Baghdad, mother of GAS RINGS" moment. Moving along.....
There has to be something you liked...right? Yes....Meeting Carlos Slim.

I will tell you my CARLOS SLIM story. Feel free to say HECK NO...but I want to... so here it goes.
I met Mr SLIM in Mexico City during a Mexicana Airlines sales convention. We had these things once a year. All the Sales Managers would convene and discuss all the absolutely wonderful things being done and how sales were going through the roof and bore everyone to death. The first day would be the sales part of the convention. All the "important" managers would get on the podium and tell everyone how extraordinary he/she was and those of us in the back would fall asleep. This charade would last for hours...At the end of these diatribes, top management would reward us with a prize for "Best Sales" or at least to the person who kissed arse in the best way. I'd like to think I didn't kiss anyones fondillo but apparently I did one year. I was sitting in the very back row, snoozing my heart away when my friend Cathy Matos poked me in the ribs and yelled "YOU WON THE AWARD...." I had to quickly put my lipstick on, go up to the podium, and in front of about 10000 people, gush and thank my Mother and Father for procreating.
Carlos Slim was in the VIP stand.
Anyway....After that, we had 3 days of the GALA AFFAIR's fun. That night was a cocktail party at the Four Season Hotel. Carlos Slim and his beautiful wife were are the receiving welcome line. We had to tell him where we were from and a do a little chit-chat dance. After all the howdydo's, my pals and I went to hold up the bar. Some minutes later Mr. SLIM came up to me, took me aside, and told me how much he loved Sacramento. He had been invited by the governor (I think it was Moon Beam Brown at that time) for a visit to Sacramento. He said he loved its small town feel and how much he enjoyed his ride up and down the river in a private yacht and his experience eating at the fabulous Bibas restaurant...and he actually couldn't stop talking. He was charming and gracious - as was his wife....I was mesmerized by him. I didn't even know how filthy rich he was and didn't care. It made my morning, day and night for many years....

@chefwen. Drinks on me.....We'll share a suite?
@okanag 1:21. Looks fabulous.....can I come?

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

The circled theme answers are apples??? News to me.

kitshef 8:35 AM  

Definitely feel like I am missing something.

I assume these are all types of apples, although I have never heard of three of them. I know FUJI and GALA.

Is there some element of falling, or gravity, or lawyers that I'm missing?

I note some tangential stuff, too ... FREE FALLIN, COME ON DOWN, ICARUS. But nothing seems to explain the revealer or add up to a theme. It’s just … stuff.

Timothy Polin has had some very layered, creative themes, so I suspect I’m just missing it.

Completely unrelated: My Cousin Vinny was filmed in Georgia, though set in ALABAMA.

[update after reading Rex: Well, if I missed it, so did Rex. Checked WordPlay. Nope. I guess as a theme it just doesn’t work for me.]

bocamp 8:37 AM  

@Rex; congrats on your 15th anniversary. Your efforts are appreciated! 🎉

Thx Timothy; very challenging and engaging Sun. puz! :)


Not anywhere close to being on the right wavelength for this one. :(

Just plugged patiently along, and it pretty much all came together, except the MMMBOP / UBER cross.

I ran the alpha, and determined that only 's' or 'b' would work – and even tho MMMBOP sounds so much better than MMMsOP – I still installed the 's', as User X just made more sense to my way of thinking than UBERX. Now I know another fact. :)

"UberX is the most popular way to travel with Uber. Get your own private driver to take you anywhere you need to go at an affordable price." (

Side-eye for the WHACKS clue; Weed ______ would be far more palatable, imo.

Nevertheless, a fine test and very worthwhile expenditure of TIME.

@puzzlehoarder, okanaganer, TTrimble 👍 for latest 0s

Am working on the latest 'Saturday Stumper' and finding it to be quite a challenge. 🤞 (an hr later and successfully finished; comparable to a very tough NYT Sat. or an easy-med. Croce)

yd 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

kitshef 8:44 AM  

@Andrea 1:09 - Newtwon observing and apple fall is real; that it hit him on the head is not.

Anonymoose 8:55 AM  

The apples, FUJI, ROME, etc. "fall" down in the grid onto NEWTON as the apple fell on his head, inspiring him for the gravity thing. The answers containing the apple names are clued in a different sense from apples. Some of the down answers are falling related. This seems pretty straightforward to me. Solid and fun, just like the fill. Loved it!

Lobster11 8:57 AM  

My favorite part is how the center column spells out ICARUS LOSES TO NEWTON, although I didn't notice that until @Lewis pointed it out. I think the whole column should be shaded rather than just NEWTON for the benefit of us not-always-so-observant types.

mooretep 9:03 AM  

When Newton saw an apple fall, he found
In that slight startle from his contemplation --
'T is said (for I'll not answer above ground
For any sage's creed or calculation) --
A mode of proving that the earth turn'd round
In a most natural whirl, called "gravitation;"
And this is the sole mortal who could grapple,
Since Adam, with a fall or with an apple.

Man fell with apples, and with apples rose,
If this be true; for we must deem the mode
In which Sir Isaac Newton could disclose
Through the then unpaved stars the turnpike road,
A thing to counterbalance human woes:
For ever since immortal man hath glow'd
With all kinds of mechanics, and full soon
Steam-engines will conduct him to the moon.

Don Juan (Byron)/Canto the Tenth

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

LOAKEA's today.

AVER vs AVow

MHZ vs kHZ

AGES vs eonS

EONS vs ageS

Trey 9:10 AM  

@SonVOlt 7:49 - I got the sense that Rex has an electric stove (thus the "element" as I think he phrased it). If you have not had a gas stove, then a gas ring may not be as obvious to you

Trey 9:13 AM  

Are the swirls of black squares in the grid (to which the apples are adjacent) supposed to be the tree and the gray "NEWTON" the tree trunk?

TJS 9:14 AM  

@Frantic, (by way of Seinfeld) Vagina ?

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

@Trey. Take another look at @Rex's GASRING comments.

TJS 9:41 AM  

@okanaganer, If I came across a short story that began "I used to live in a Pickers' Cabin" I would be hooked. But I'll take UTEP, you can have the Japanese menu. Arigato.

@Lewis, Amazing that you can find this stuff in a grid. Seriously. And I'm guessing that Icarus shows up in your Favorite list.

"Vaping". Add to the Rex trigger list, Actually I'm kinda disgusted by it too. And down here on the beach they rent out hookahs so you can lay out on a lounge chair with a hose in your mouth. When did that come back? And why ?

DeeJay 9:42 AM  

CARLOS SLIM could also have been clued "Mega-rich businessman who bailed out New York Times in 2009."

Zed 9:44 AM  

Polin didn’t write anything for, so it’s hard to know the intent. To me the theme is just the apples and Isaac NEWTON. Everything else seems more like gravity related easter eggs (easter apples?) than actual theme material. The puzzle title is Food for Thought and that would seem to be a directly related to the apples, making the gravity stuff ancillary. But there is a lot of it and symmetrically placed, so if you want to consider it all part of the theme I’m good with that, too.

Thanks to those who pointed out ICARUS LOSES TO NEWTON.

@Trey - Rex wrote, And what is GAS RING? I have a gas stove, and the flames from the elements definitely form ring shapes, but I would not call them "stovetop devices." And I’m with Rex, as far as I can tell a GAS RING is what I would call a GAS burner. I guess it differs from, say, a fireplace gas burner because of its shape, but I’ve never heard the burner called a GAS RING. In as much as a GAS RING is the burner it is a “device,” but I shared Rex’s confusion.
For anyone else new to the term, more here, including the opening line, A gas ring is a burner….

BTW - All of these apple varieties have Wikipedia pages. FUJI were developed in Japan in the 1930’s. ROME are from ROME, Ohio and is the oldest variety in this group. GALA and JAZZ are from New Zealand and GALA are the most produced apple in the US. EMPIRE are newish and were developed by Cornell University. And, of course, none of these apples have been honored by the US Postal Service unlike the Northern Spy which was on a 33¢ stamp in 2013.

amyyanni 9:53 AM  

Didn't Gwyneth Paltrow name her child Apple, as in the apple of my eye? Fitting that into the grid would have been...erm, superfluous. OK never mind.
Relieved (after yesterday's slog) to find this effort definitely had flow. Theme is clever and the solve was spritely and fun.
Happy Anniversary! Was wondering if I missed the annual fundraiser or, in my nightmares, Rex was going to announce he was ending the blog. Pshew!

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

When I won the marathon, I felt the thrill of victory and the agony of the feet.

Missy 10:04 AM  


Zed 10:06 AM  

Okay - There was a link to this on one of those apple wikipedia pages and who knew there was such a collection? And how did one end up being one of the approximately 21 artists painting these? Weirdly fascinating. And you can use the images with attribution. Now I want to come up with a reason to use a Northern Spy watercolor.

bocamp 10:06 AM  

After Golden Delicious, FUJI are my go-to apples.

@Lewis (6:02 AM)

Good 'catch' on ICARUS!

@Anonymous (8:09 AM) re: UTEP

Thx for the shoutout to Texas Western. As you indicated, the story is of great significance, and the movie is well worth the watch, too. 🏀
td pg -4

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

JD 10:34 AM  

No problem in the NW corner (Domo arigato misuta Robotto) if you look at Jazz as being in the north middle block where my epic fail occurred. Nimble, Biz, Najar, Jazz. Nope. Nada.

Like that Newmar, Newton, and Cat Nap were in the same grid. Googled it. The apple thing happened, "...Newton shared the apple anecdote with William Stukeley, who included it in a biography, “Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life...” But it doesn't say that it hit him in the head.

Look Outs over Eye Sores. Kid by Ken (fancy designer clothes for children). Great clue for NFL Refs.

Is this silk my darling? Why no! It's washable Tricot.

Icarus didn't steal his father's wings Rex. Daedalus created them so that they could escape from Crete and warned his son about that flying too high thing. Hubris (any that I had left was destroyed by yesterday's puzzle).

Great puzzle. Memorable Sunday.

RooMonster 10:38 AM  

Hey All !
Where's the RED DELICIOUS LIPS Themer? Har!

Nice SunPuz. Like Rex, I also thought "why aren't the apples in the Downs?" But after Rex pointing out the theme-ish Downs, I'll let it slide. They must be Themers, as it's just way too coincidental to have four symmetric "falling" answers. Right?

Hand up for the NW being toughest spot. Had a DNF there (plus BORon for BORAX in the NE, was thinking Element, not mineral). Wanted EAU for ETH for a bit. Although now I realize it's UAE. Also, no clue if UAE is anywhere near S. Sudan. Ignorant American World Geography in full display. Couldn't see WEIGHTY or ANISE. Just filled in random letters to get the Almost There message. When I hit Check Puzzle, I saw the wrongness and was able to SUSS out the right answers. (Amazing to myself how I can't figure out the wrongness without hitting the Check Puzzle feature. Is it psychological? I need the letters to be crossed out? Where's a shrink when you need one?)

Didn't know JAZZ was an apple type. DHAKA was a WOE. Again, geographically challenged here. (Or just brain (DE)FOG. Surprised no one has Ugh-ed TERRIF. Ugh. For "Eureka!" I wanted IvEsomething, IVE GOT IT, but that W at the end was laughing at me. Ah, says I once I figured it out. I said the answer as a realization. Meta, indeed.

LIL first for KID, because 98% of the time, it's LIL.

MIEN?? Oof.

Still an enjoyable solve, even after all my nitty nits. Another not, 30 threes, but I guess not terrible for a 21x21.

yd -1 (so close!), should'ves 1 (a variant of a word I got! Dang.)

Eleven F's (that's how you do it!)

Sid 10:42 AM  

Ugh, did not like this. Everything was slightly off and not in a witty, fun way, but in a when you got the answer I kind of see what you did but it’s a bit askew and I guess it works but it doesn’t reveal or have fun way. Just a slog with no whim and vigor. Yuck.

Ellen 10:43 AM  

For a while, Carlos Slim was a big investor in the NYT

beaglelover 10:49 AM  

Thomas Nast was a racist who depicted Irish immigrants as ugly, simian creatures!!

Ellen 10:49 AM  

Great movie

Mike G 10:49 AM  

After two days on cloud nine, we are back to earth with another Sunday Slog.

Nancy 10:50 AM  

I GET IT NOW! All those Downs are involved in the "apple"/NEWTON theme too: WEIGHTY MATTER; COME ON DOWN; FREE FALLIN; and FORCE OF NATURE. So why didn't you involve me in that aspect of the puzzle, Timothy? Make my solve in some way be contingent on sussing that out earlier? It's quite clever, really, and I missed it entirely while solving -- leaving me with a long slog that I found quite dreary.

Other than ICARUS, I found the cluing FLAT. A knowledge of a lot of useless info was required -- the rappers and the two pop hits and the rich Mexican guy and the cartoon animal's accessory and the actress and that long-ago Veep, ETC, ETC. The problem is that I don't feel dumb when I don't know this stuff and I don't feel smart when I do. There were no "I GET IT NOW"s for me -- other than the ones that occurred too late to matter much.

A better puzzle than I realized while solving it, alas. Those related Ddown answers should have been tied in.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

if you didn’t “get” the theme you really missed out. Apples/falling/newton/law of gravity. What’s not to love? If you solved as a themeless you are a bit obtuse, IMO. HOF Puzzle

Pete 11:05 AM  

I didn't think Icarus took a joy ride with his fathers wings, but that Daedalus made two pairs so they both could escape, and Icarus, being an arrogant teenager unwilling to follow his father's instructions, flew too high. Now we need a fable explaining why I think there's one, true version of a fable passed down orally through millenia. In cases such as this, I think all decent and reasonable humans should stick to Ovid's version as the one, true story when there is an Ovid's version. I encourage one and all to look up Ovid's version and report back to me what that is, as at this point I've exhausted myself with this discussion. Why are you still reading this?

@Rex's blog's 15th anniversary was 09/25/2016. Happy Anniversary wishes are ill-timed.

Now to the reason for my dyspepsia: I have never enjoyed Timothy Polin's puzzles. He seems to always have grids light on arcana, so the level of difficulty is in the clues more so than obscurities. Most of the time when I have to dig deep to get the answer, my reaction is 'ok, I guess that's valid' rather than 'good one'.

@okanaganer - I too was surprised to see a modern orchard. Modern plantings are all specific apple breeds grafted onto dwarf root-stock, and trimmed to facilitate easy picking and good air-flow throughout the plantings. No more trying to get apples at the top-center of a 30' tall, 30' diameter tree.

Teedmn 11:10 AM  

This crossword certainly tells the story of NEWTON's aha moment due to GRAVITY acting on the apple. The title misled me into thinking the circles would have types of food with more of a variety than just apples, but I suppose the apple did provide NEWTON with food for thought.

Thank you, Tom Petty, for rescuing me from my HERR/FRAU malapop. And I just got the bonus entries of FREE FALLIN' and COME ON DOWN (I had already noticed WEIGHTY MATTER and FORCE OF NATURE). Nice touch! Though I really tried to rebus in "no laughing MATTER" at 3D, based on my original 1A of Sent for "disseminated".

That top, right-of-center, area gave me the most trouble - Benjamin Harrison's vice-prez, really? NAJAF, a holy-camoley, what holy city is that? The crazy but Red Delicious clue for ICARUS, nice!, and my htZ, khZ, MHZ mess; all of those made that section fill in very slowly.

Timothy Polin, this is an amazing puzzle and I enjoyed it!

Trey 11:30 AM  

@Anonymous - my bad on the GAS RING - guess skimming the review is not a great idea sometimes

thefogman 11:38 AM  

Rex makes a lot of good points but in spite of the odd blemish I still found this one to be a most enjoyable solve. Speaking of enjoyable, has anyone here completed the NYT Super Mega year end crossword puzzle? It’s a huge 50 x 50 size grid with a hidden theme. Just an amazing piece of crossword art. I completed it and it took quite some time to decipher the answer. Totally worth it. Sadly, it is not available online…

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

My experience was the same as yours: The NW corner was tough. I got it, finally, but kept finding myself continuing on, going back to it again and so on. In the end, my solve time was only slightly longer than usual … probably because other sections of the puzzle fell into place more easily … and once you get the Apple/Newton/Food for Thought connection, it was relatively easy to guess at the Apple varieties. I didn’t notice the connection with the long down clues until you pointed that out. It makes me appreciate the puzzle even more. I liked this one, despite the slog in the NW corner.

OldCarFudd 11:45 AM  

I have a technical question. Shouldn't etc. be clued as an abbreviation? Is it ever correctly written without the period? And, if so, how is it pronounced?

EdFromHackensack 11:48 AM  

thefogman - yes I completed it, deciphered the answer and submitted it. waiting to hear if I “won”

Zed 11:58 AM  

Here you go, @Pete. But seriously, Daedalus is the one someone should make a Netflix series about. Apparently ICARUS’ hubris was inherited.

G. Weissman 12:04 PM  

This puzzle was nicely challenging. With the exception of TERRIF, ETH, OYE, AAH, SRAS, and GITGO, the fill is good, and the clue for ICARUS is great. I solve via FaceTime with my mother and brother on Sundays, and we had fun with this puzzle.

thefogman 12:06 PM  

@EdFromHackensack Good luck. The prize is a thousand bucks. I wish I could enter. Alas, contest is for U.S. residents only.

Joseph Michael 12:06 PM  


Two days in a row of really disliking the puzzle. Maybe it’s the pandemic getting to me, but I found very little fun in this solve (and I usually like Timothy Polin puzzles). My happiest moment was reading Rex’s comment that it was Julie NEWMAR who discovered the LAW OF GRAVITY. Too bad she couldn’t have come up with better names for the apples. And where is my Honeycrisp when I need one?

Party Down 12:07 PM  

We normally lurk here long after, fun to join in the day of!

Interesting "apple" is no where to be seen in the puzzle.

Thanks all for filling out our crossworld.

puzzlehoarder 12:11 PM  

Like a number of people I finished by mopping up the NW corner. My GET/GIT write over was understandable but with the addition of SEISM/SCARE, MAL/ETH and NASH/NAST it was as if I was making every effort to not solve that section.

The nice thing about the theme was how little distraction it made from the somewhat thorny fill. The down elements were virtually invisible. The apple words are short and the version I printed out last night did not have JAZZ circled.

There were plenty of little stumbling blocks to deal with. NAJAF was paired up with the cleverly clued ICARUS. This is at least the third time that I would swear MMMBOP is a debut andDHAKA needs no cleverness in it's clue.

Congrats to our host on 15 years. As I've mentioned before I have no idea how long I've been coming to these comments but it's time to send another check. Cats are very cute. We're currently nursing one of our older ones through her final days.

yd -0

Beezer 12:17 PM  

Hand up for being thrown by the term “device” with respect to GASRING. I have a gas range and so far I’ve never seen any stove top that doesn’t have a gas ring or an electric coil (either above or under “glass”).

So. I have NEVER seen the nickname GIGI associated with Virginia and when I did a search Virginia was not listed. Hey, I didn’t spend much time on this but just sayin’ that I had to get GIGI through crosses. I know that the Leslie Caron movie is way too old for many solvers but seems like there is currently a supermodel with that name.

@Z, I have not seen Northern Spy apples in any of my grocery stores (and I live in a “food oasis”) but I’ll keep looking since you say they are good for pies. Some folks don’t realize that some apples that are delicious raw are just not good for pies since they may get mushy or are just TOO sweet. I typically mix up the common MacIntosh with a Granny Smith or two for my filling but I’m always looking for new ideas.

thefogman 12:22 PM  

Courtland apples are terrific for pies (or just raw) especially in the fall when they are in season.

CDilly52 12:37 PM  

MERCY THIS WAS HATD!!!!! It has been AGES since I felt this disconnected from a constructor. Having said that, I did have some enjoyable head smacks for clever clues. But as I am (due to the difficulty of this puzzle) late for brunch, all I can say is I did finish!! More Saturday feeling than Sunday, but a workiut fir sure-and a very giid puzzle!

Carola 12:43 PM  

I give this one a TERRIFic! A rather ho-hum list of apple names ... until they were transformed by the reveal into BOPs of inspiration for NEWTON. Loved it. Thanks to @Rex for pointing out the theme-related Downs and to commenters for adding ICARUS. So much wit and creativity!

egsforbreakfast 1:08 PM  

I’m surprised that @Southside Johnny didn’t decry the presence of EL TRAIN. Couldn’t it just have been the train?

It seems like Rex and many commenters are not aware that GALA AFFAIR, despite any perceived redundancy, is a very common phrase. Google it if you don’t believe me.

Loved the hot wings guy clue. Hated LEVI since there is probably no one alive who knew this before today, and no reason to try to stow it away in our overly full skulls for later use. Could have been clued in a whole lot of more interesting ways.

But, on an apples-to-apples basis, the core of this puzzle was delicious. Thank you, Timothy Polin.

Frantic Sloth 1:10 PM  

Geez. The more people point out everything I missed, the more I feel the need to revisit my opinion. There is [kealoa] more here than meets the eye. Well, my eye.
Guess I was blinded by that egg on my face.
@Nancy 1050am makes an excellent point - let us in on it! So what we maybe woulda coulda shoulda seen it on our own? Too many of us didn't notice to make that argument.

@Lewis 602am ICARUS LOSES TO NEWTON! Brilliant! Wish I'd seen that because if I had, nope - wouldn't change a thing.

@The Joker 759am 🤣 I got nuthin'.

@TJS 914am Not quite, but it's close; however, she does have a dog named Spot.

@Z 944am I'm thinkin' Food = apples, Thought = LAW OF GRAVITY. But that's just because I'm so much smarter than you...hello?
And if you don't stop harping on those Northern Spy apples, I'm gonna oh hell, I don't know, but it will be very bad for you, Mr. Pants.

Oh, look! @Anonymous 1054am thinks I'm obtuse. Now, there's a discovery. 🤣
@mods - thanks for allowing that comment or I never would have known!

@Beezer 1217pm Ssssh! Northern Spy apples all over the place around here, but don't tell @Z. I don't make pie, but my parents always used Cortlands. Right. Who cares?

MichiganWoman 1:13 PM  

UTEP = University of Texas as El Paso.

thefogman 1:14 PM  

I am having a tough time solving the pangram on the print (not online) edition of today’s NYT Spelling Bee. I always start with the pangram(s) then I work out the smaller words. But today, no luck. So far…

Tom T 1:31 PM  

Like the puzzle much more after reading Rex and the other comments.

Where was Grannie Smith?! That would have been a real construction coup!

Unfortunately I dnf'd at the intersections of Ms. Pinkett Smith, ___ volente, and that apple I misspelled as FUgI (ouch!). I had heard of JADA, but couldn't get there. Running the alphabet didn't help, because of the FUJ/gI abomination. Tomorrow is another day!

A couple of fun diagonal things to report:

1. There's a fun palindromic string running SW from the T in MOUNT FUJI to the 2nd T in ATTN: TOEOEOT (notice the TOEs on both ends)

2. Occasionally I notice that one of the puzzle answers also shows up as a Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW). Today there were three of those: AAH (108A), TOO (37D), and WII (113A) all appear as diagonals in other parts of the puzzle.

Is anyone dazzled by that revelation? HECK NO, I suppose.

Carola 1:31 PM  

I rate this one as TERRIFic. A rather ho-hum list of apple varieties....that was then transformed by the reveal into a series of inspirational BOPs on NEWTON's head (during a CATNAP?). Thanks to @Rex for pointing out the theme-related long Downs and to commenters for adding ICARUS - none of which I'd taken note of. So much wit and CREATIVity! I think this puzzle is one for the AGES.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

If Julie NEWMAR discovered the LAW OF GRAVITY, she would have been in her 50s. 😂

JD 1:32 PM  

@Beezer, Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith. Fresh picked though. I think the store yellows can be over ripe.

@Gill, Post of the day! Great Carlos story. Post of yesterday too. Quarantining and I needed a party.

The fact that I'm a hick has been driven home by the fact that I've been known to say, "From the git go."

Michael Pollan wrote a book called The Botany of Desire that looks at apples, marijuna, potatoes and tulips, and how entice us to serve their needs with their respective sweetness, intoxication, nutrition, and beauty. Great book. I might've mentioned this before.

Andrea and Don Fineberg 1:43 PM  

Thanks for helping make 2021 better. Really like the addition of Explainers!

TJS 1:45 PM  

@Beaglelover, 10:49. Re. Thomas Nast. I'm not sure racist is the right term. He definitely hated the Irish. But his work was supportive of Native Americans, Chinese immigrants, and Black Americans. And he lived in that wonderful era of America when everyone was free to hate everyone. Good Times.

TJS 1:48 PM  

Oh, and 10:54, you can make that at least two for obtuse.

Blue Stater 2:07 PM  

A simply.appalling.mess.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

I’d like to correct the clue for 69A: Four U.S. Presidents were born there, one was hatched from what we can only assume was demon spawn.

GILL I. 2:38 PM  

@beaglelover 10:49 and @TJS 1:45...I'll take Thomas Nast one step further
I had a good friend who was an artist and I told him how much I admired NAST's work. He asked me if I knew about him and his hatred for the Irish Catholics. I told him that I did. My grandmother introduced me to his work. At that time, she, too, was anti Irish. It was common during that era and not much has changed today (just ask the Mexican immigrants).
NAST put up with a lot of bashing for his political caricatures; he didn't care. Yes...he did portray the Irish as a bunch of drunken despots and he had his reasons. Just about every Irishman in New York and New Jersey embraced Boss Tweed and his corrupt "political machine", Tammany Hall. Tweed, in turn, embraced the Irish who then, in turn, voted en made for Tammany Hall and its corruptness. Nast went ballistic and used his creative cartooning to let every know.
Nast had a lot of rage but I wouldn't ever label him as a racist. He has some admiration for blacks, the Chinese and American Indians. Yes....he also did a little cartoon bashing here and there, but....nothing compared to what he did to Irish.
this all happened in the 19th century (before I was born, I might say) and things change. He was a talented caricaturist that happened to have had disdain for the Irish/Catholics.

GILL I. 2:40 PM  

@JD...I forgot to add my thank you....I think you would've like Carlos as well - especially if you wore your black strapless poofy dress.... ;-)

Smith 3:51 PM  

Hi @Rex, happy anniversary! Thanks for providing this space, which became extra meaningful during the, um, last two years.

Anoa Bob 3:55 PM  

I would be remiss if I didn't follow up yesterday's SCREED about that grid having an S in a bit over 13% of its open squares by comparing it with today's grid in which the S appears in 5.2% of the open squares (19 out of 365). That's close to the relative frequency of the letter S in standard English text of around 6%.

I know this isn't a WEIGHTY MATTER for many of yous out there in Commentaristan but I think it makes a noticeable difference in the overall quality of the fill and the solve experience. There's less non nutritional fill and more meat on the bone, so to speak.

Many Ss in a grid are used to make POCs (plurals of convenience) and I know from experience that limiting the number of POCs in your grid makes it more challenging to fill.

Smith 3:55 PM  

@thefogman (1:14)

It's almost a compound word. The word is probably the first word you saw. The rest is descriptive.

Joe Dipinto 4:01 PM  

@thefogman 1:14 – re Spelling Bee, I'm betting you already came up with half of the pangram*. Look at the words you already have and see if you can add onto them.

*At least I think there's only one. I haven't finished it yet and haven't checked the answers.

Laura 4:32 PM  

Pretty sure I did a similar puzzle in Stamford a couple of years ago. But the word apple was its own little rebus - the only one in the puzzle.

JC66 4:57 PM  

@Joe D & thefrogman

It would be fun if we could do the SB together.

egsforbreakfast 6:03 PM  

@JC66 & Joe DiPinto I generally stop SB when I get to Genius, including today, because it takes so long to get the last few, if you ever get them. Your hints to @thefogman didn’t ring a bell with me, so I went back to SB and and the single pangram I have today does not conform with your hint. Ergo, there are at least two today.

Swimwolff 6:08 PM  

Love Julie Newmar!

Barbara S. 6:20 PM  

Just came by to tell you my silly error. I rechristened MMMBOP as MMMsOx, by going with "UsER X" and "UTEx." Well, they both seemed defensible at the time, although I know perfectly well (most days) that the branches of the University of Texas always include the city in their names. I've been to UT Austin, and was close (international) colleagues with people there at one time. Anyway, I didn't know the song so it could have been anything, and I thought "sox" sounded just fine!

I saw the apple varieties raining down on NEWTON's head and caught the LAW OF GRAVITY, but I completely missed all the other (Down) themers. I liked the puzzle much better after being told by Rex and you guys about the inclusion of WEIGHTY MATTER, FORCE OF NATURE, COME ON DOWN, FREEFALLIN' and ICARUS. I'm sure Master ICKy is indeed a themer, given his early flirtation with GRAVITY (and also solar radiation). I kinda want OFFRAMP to be involved, too, as I picture an incline from high to low, but that's probably just wishful thinking. However don't forget that the puzzle tells us that Nicolas ROEG directed "The Man Who Fell to Earth."

[SB: I seemed to be caught in an endless string of -3s, and I'm at -3 right now in today's. Gotta break this tedious non-streak.]

thefogman 7:13 PM  

Yeah I got it now. Thank you to @JoeDipinto @JC66 @Smith and anyone else who chimed in.

Smith 7:27 PM  

@Egs, Joe D, JC66 & thefogman

I'm with JoeD; half of the pg is one of the first words you found. The other half describes the first.

Hi Egs! I also quit at Genius. My goal is PGN4L.

Nancy 7:38 PM  

One of the most interesting things about being on this blog is learning all the strange things in a puzzle that can annoy/trigger people and how different those things are from the things that annoy and trigger me. Two-and-a-half of them are "problems" I have never ever noticed. One of them is a concept I don't even understand -- even though it's been explained more than once on the blog.

1. "Cheater" black squares. I have absolutely no idea what they are. I know you guys have told me many times but I still don't get it.

2. Lack of rotational symmetry. I never notice that. If I did, I certainly wouldn't care. Well, I would care in a diagramless where knowing the symmetry is vital to solving, but nowhere else.

3. POCS. This is the "half" in two-and-a-half. I don't notice or care about POCS when they are normal plurals like, say, CHAIRS. I only notice them when they are ridiculous POCS like, say, ELSAS.

TJS 8:09 PM  

@Anoa Bob, I hate to be pedantic but the proper spelling of the phrase is "many of youse" or the even more acceptable "many o'youse guys."

okanaganer 8:19 PM  

[Spelling Bee td (Sun): 0. QB 3 days straight!]

JC66 8:29 PM  


The question is, why would someone* who seems to abhor the letter S so much ungrammatically add it to the word you?

*@Anoa Bob

Anoa Bob 8:40 PM  

Nancy, whenever I mention POC I always link it, by putting it in blue, to one of my blog posts, either POC doc. or POC Levels. Clicking on the blue opens the post where I try to explain why I think POCs are like abbrs., random Popes, partials, crosswordese, and the like. The fewer of these in a grid, the better.

It's pretty nerdy stuff so it wouldn't be of interest to most people, especially if they have never tried filling a grid.

And how about a little love for all the ELSAS of the world!

Joe Dipinto 8:45 PM  

@egs – we were talking about the Frank Longo SB that's in the print edition of the Sunday Magazine section. It's not the same as the daily online SB by Sam Ezersky, which I don't do.

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

So many names and foreign words and places today, but the cross that did me in was the ENOKI ROEG KEN cross. Agree that this was more difficult than the average Sunday.

JC66 9:04 PM  

@Joe D

I was referring to @Sam's online SB.

egsforbreakfast 9:22 PM  

@Joe D. Ah! That explains it. I looked and looked and just couldn’t make sense of your hint. Thanks for freeing me to do more important things, like opening a bottle of wine

Euclid 11:21 PM  

PROLOG is an elegant, though rarely known or used, programming language.

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

there are two kinds of GAS RING, one of which a civilian might have, the other not.

- first is a very large, stand alone tube with burner nipples. it sits below a frame which supports 4+ gallon pot, and is connected to a propane tank. the purpose is generally to deep fry a turkey. many disasters have ensued, as you might expect.

- second is a burner in professional kitchen range, which is not legal for a residential kitchen in all jurisdictions. rather than a central gas tube with a round diffuser, which makes circle of flame, this type of burner is, again, a circular tube, generally cast iron, with individual nipples. typically an order of magnitude more BTU than a residential burner.

albatross shell 2:00 AM  

All the apples are above NEWTON's head. FREEFALLIN COMEONDOWN LAWOFGRAVITY ICARUS LOSSES TO all food for thoght. I would add IVEGOTITNOW and LOOKOUTS (danger: falling apple zone). If you deny LOOKOUTS I won't fight it because ANISETREE. But I still disagree.

I tested many apples this fall buying 2 of each and a small bag of Northern Spies. I go for the smaller ones mostly. Fuji Gala Jazz were in my collection. Northern Spies are good eating apples too if they are fresh.

chris 11:41 AM  

1966 UTEP basketball team was the first team with all black starters to win the NCAA championship

Luker2453 3:03 PM  

I think Loyola of Chicago was first.

Cliff 7:06 PM  

I did dare to dream, and so wrote in "F*ck no" (knowing I would be replacing it with something else later). Also started hopelessly in the NW, and ended there after briefly thinking I would never get it. When I finally replaced pdf with gif, the corner finally fell into submission.

PatKS 6:54 PM  

Happy Anniversary!
I had a hard time with NW and SW.
NW - I couldn't get taser/told out of my head. I had -----ty matter, tea and ornate. I'll forever hate GITGO (getgo). Nast was a blank. So anise tea was not gonna happen.

SW- My bad but had ISH for ALA. Loved My Cousin Vinny (saw it only once) but remember nothing to do with Alabama. Had ELM for FIR even though I knew the real clue had to end in an I. Had TAG SALE for TAX. No clue on TAXI WAY. Swamp for pit. I also think 116A could have ended with "98 down". It made me think it was a trick for Apple gravity.

Never heard of GAS RING or KEN (comprehension). Thought BORON was a mineral and BORAX was a brand.

I knew ROME, EMPIRE AND GALA were apples. Never heard of Fuji. If apples was the theme there should have been more than 4.

Fun fact: As a kid i loved Anita O'Day.

Happy New Year. Your site is invaluable!

P.S.- I have the NYT app and print out puzzles (old school). Crossword and Acrostic answers can be found in many places. But I can never find answers to Berry or Longo and neither they nor Shortz have Twitter. If you know anything please let me know. Thanks.

crazyloon 11:39 AM  

Here we go again with the annual groveling for ca$h

Ben 3:13 PM  

As someone else observed, major, major miss on the clue for ETC. ETC was my first thought when I read the clue, but then I said to myself "no, it can't be, there's no indication of abbreviation in the clue." C'mon, NYT, gotta play by the rules.

Also, at least with CATALOG, the puzzle is consistent in its eschewal of terminal UEs

Unknown 4:20 PM  

what a wonderful witty truly enjoyable puzzle inside jokes galore and Wit to Spare... easy too but Smart

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

With apologies to you and Rex, "gala affair" is a common usage. Not all "affairs" are "gala" -- it's a function of how much it costs to attend and how dressy the attendees costumes. One could say of a simple fundraising tea that it was a pleasant affair.

Burma Shave 2:38 PM  


what's FREEFALLIN' IN her gown?
Well, FORCEsOFNATURE just made her GAYER.


spacecraft 6:27 PM  

JAZZ? FUJI? GALA? EMPIRE? ROME? These are APPLES????? Never heard of ANY of them! I had absolutely no idea what those circles were doing there; I thought the theme was all vertical. THOSE I understood. Those were cool. For me, it would have been a much better puzzle without any circles. Even NEWTON was positioned vertically. Ditto DOD Julie NEWMAR. She can COMEONDOWN to my place any old time.

This was very tough to complete. I know of Carmen McRae, and I'd call her many things before a JAZZVOCALIST. You couldn't stick Ella in there? Yikes what a clue. Thanks for gimme themer FREEFALLIN,' or I might never have finished. Par.

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Brett Alan 11:25 PM  

@OldCarFudd If you happen to look back at this, the answer to your question is that "etc." is short for "et cetera", which is Latin for "and the rest".

I got the "he" part of "heck no" before the "ck", so I dared to dream a bit more realistically.

Faricon 2:44 AM  
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