Italian rice balls / SUN 5-22-22 / Snack item that's partly foreordained? / Love ___ Pet Shop Boys dance hit of 2009 / Publication with an annual Power 100 list / Eric B Pimp C Chuck D / Weasel family members / There was Noah-counting for it

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Constructor: David and Karen and Paul Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Parting Ways" — eight Down answers are double-clued; the answers split at a circled letter, and then the answer to the first clue heads one way (west) while the answer to the second heads the other (east). The resulting Across answers (made up of the latter part of both Down answers) are coherent (but unclued) words and phrases. The circled letters end up spelling out SEPARATE, which ... I don't know if it's a verb or a noun here, but either way: apt.

Theme answers:
  • DESPOTS / DESIGNS (5D: Tyrants / Patterns) => STOP SIGNS
  • WHEREVER / WHENCE (12D: Anyplace / From which place) => REVERENCE
  • PLUMPED / PLUM POSITION (29D: Made puffier, as cushions / Very desirable job) => DEPOSITION
  • TRAVELER / TRANCE (53D: Tourist, e.g. / Hypnotic state) => RELEVANCE
  • BERGERON / BERETS (61D: Tom who hosted "Dancing With the Stars" / Brimless caps) => NO REGRETS
  • STAMINA / STATIONS (73D: Endurance / Subway map info) => ANIMATIONS
  • SECRET LOVER / SECRETING (84D: Tryst partner / Discharging, as a liquid) => REVOLTING
  • PRELIM / PRESTONE (104D: Qualifying match, for shot / Big name in antifreeze and brake fluid) => MILESTONE
Word of the Day: ARANCINI (54D: Italian rice balls) —

Arancini (UK/ˌærənˈni/US/ˌɑːr-/Italian: [aranˈtʃiːni]Sicilian: [aɾanˈtʃiːnɪ, -ˈdʒiː-]) are Italian rice balls that are stuffed, coated with bread crumbs and deep fried, and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine. The most common fillings are: al ragù or al sugo, filled with ragù (meat or mince, slow-cooked at low temperature with tomato sauce and spices), mozzarella or caciocavallo cheese, and often peas, and al burro or ô burru, filled with ham and mozzarella or besciamella.

A number of regional variants exist which differ in fillings and shape. Arancini al ragùproduced in eastern Sicily have a conical shape inspired by the volcano Etna. (wikipedia)

• • •

If you think I'm going to go HARD- (ass ... I mean CASE!) on a puzzle that a young man co-constructed with his parents (!!!) then LOL you don't know me as well as you thought you did. Actually, if I didn't like it, I'd probably still have to share that info with you, such is my perverse commitment to writing what I'm actually thinking / feeling, but hey, good news, I actually did like this one. My exact comment (to myself) upon getting the theme concept was a sincere and curious "Oh, hey, innnnnnteresting." There are a lot of layers to this theme. I don't know that it actually needs the showiest element, actually. That is, I think I was least impressed by the fact that the circled letters spelled SEPARATE, in part because it's just not a very colorful or evocative or interesting or (in this case) terribly specific word, in part because I wasn't really sure if it was intended to be interpreted as a verb or a noun. But kudos for trying to do *something* with those squares where the answers diverge; if nothing else, it gives the grid some visual interest, and adds another layer of theme restriction to an already pretty strict theme. Those Down answers have to diverge *and* their diverging latter parts have to spell out a plausible answer. It's a nice little trick. The SEPARATE part gives it a kind of coherence that it wouldn't have otherwise, I see; that is, without it, the puzzle is just a bunch of diverging answers ... which would've been enough for me, but the added spelling trick is nice little cherry, even if the cherry doesn't really add much to the overall Wow factor. The most important thing here is that the puzzle was actually fun to solve; I liked being able to use the hybrid Across answer (that is, knowing it would have to make a real word/phrase) to help make sense of the Downs that flow into it. I hope this puzzle's title ("Parting Ways") is not a coded way of saying that David's parents are getting a divorce. Unless that makes them happy. Anyway, that's probably not what's happening here. No deeper meaning. Just a good, family puzzle.

I loved the weirdo shape of this grid (a rectangular 19x23). I am all for off-book grid shapes, as long as you've still got some kind of symmetry (or at least an artful asymmetry). I had two trouble spots, both of them coming right around the transition from the top half to bottom half of the grid. SCORER had a "?" clue that I couldn't see through (50D: Point person?), and it was next to a themer I couldn't start (BER-), which was itself next to a clue where I couldn't understand how "clutch" was being used (60D: Parts of a clutch). A clutch of EGGS! Yes, I do know that meaning, though it's the last meaning of "clutch" I would come up with if I had to list all the "clutch" meanings I know. I worked it out, but there was a definitely slow-down in that area, and then again around ELLIOT Page, which is really stupid, as I absolutely know his name but also totally blanked, even with ELL- in place, ugh. Me: "Man's name ... starts ELL- ... how many of these can there be!?!?!" Had no idea about the adjacent ASIAN pear (72A: Kind of pear that resembles an apple), and wasn't sure about ATM since I only take $$$ out of ATMs—I've literally never put $$$ in (72D: $$$ taker). Forgot that PRESTONE was a thing (really wanted FIRESTONE), but otherwise, no other answers really stand out as troublemakers. I thought the grid had some lovely non-theme fill, like ARANCINI and "MAN OH MAN!" and "BIG NEWS!" and LAVA CAKE. Fun stuff.

  • 56A: Wall molding (CORNICE) — I had a sweet CORN ICE cream cone today, and it was delicious (if global warming is going to roast me to death in the middle of spring, I'm gonna die with a cone in my hand)
  • 42D: Amounts of sugar, perhaps (SPOONFULS) — my brain keeps glitching on this. "Spoonsful ...  SPOONFULS ... Spoons ... full? "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full" ... not bagfuls ... but ... SPOONFULS ... Attorneys ... General? ... OK wait, let's start over ..."
  • 10D: Snack item that's partly foreordained? (OREO) — I really really hope that everyone got and appreciated this answer, but I worry that the cryptic-type cluing might've baffled a solver or three (OREO is part of ("partly") the word "foreordained"). 
  • 17A: Janis ___, main role in "Mean Girls" (IAN) — uh, do all girl-centered teen comedies feature protagonists named after famous singers of the Baby-Boomer generation!? (The main character in "Clueless" is Cher)
  • 37A: Places of refuge (ASYLUMS) — if there's one thing I count on crosswords for, it's weird-ass Latinate plurals, so I really Really balked at this perfectly normal English plural. If the puzzle won't give me ASYLA, who will!?


And now, I'm going to print this blog's official first-ever "Letter to the Editor." The writer and I had a series of email back-and-forths and he said "you should write about this conversation" and I said "why don't you put your thoughts in the form of a Letter to the Editor?" and I did not think he would but when I checked my email later in the day, bam, there it was. And here it is (Subject line: "my letter to the editaur"):
Dear Rex:

I love your work.  I read you daily.  You are a cantankerous prude.  

As you know from our previous email exchanges, I find your analyses spot on, if just a tad grumpy.  But I like the grump.  I rely on the grump.  What I do not like -- because the attitude you take is symptomatic of, or even a contributor to (you are, undeniably, an "influencer"), what I believe is a longstanding weakness in the crossword genre.  It, and you, seem Victorian in your sensibilities.  

TV and newspapers and news sites report the world as it is.  Much muck and mayhem and malodor, murder, indecency, crudeness, crassness, cruelty.   On TV, Homer gets drunk and strangles Bart.  The South Park kids curse.  One of them gets murdered all the time.   Movies delve into sex with aplomb and without apology.  And yet crosswords, for the most part, seem to inhabit a different world, one closer to, say, movies in the 1940s and 1950s under the fusty, harrumphing, puritanical Hays Code.   They do not include as clues or answers anything that might cause an elderly 1920s dowager to almost swoon with the vapors. 

You might say this is a trivial complaint about an inconsequential issue , and in one sense, of course it is. But  I would contend that there IS damage done to the crossword genre by instituting an outdated set of criteria for what are acceptable answers: It makes crosswords seem stilted, mannered, and out of touch with modernity.   An atavism.  Further, it skews their readership toward the older readers.  Not a good thing.

Hitler?  Perhaps the most influential and consequential monster of history -- a name almost better known than anyone's, ever -- has, to my memory at least, never appeared in the Times XWord—at least not for decades.  Vomit, a totally normal bodily function, one that can be induced to save lives?  Nope. Too icky apparently for Mr. Hays.  Orgasm?  Gimme a break.   And don't get me started on body parts.  Has "penis" ever appeared?  Even though there are nearly 4 billion of them in the world?

This brings me to the stunning reason I write this.  The other day you allowed as to how you suppose "vagina" might be okay.  It astounded me; seemed like a seismic change in your thinking.  Except it isn't, really, I fear.   A few days before that you railed against the Times's answer of "phlegmy."  Icky icky icky-poo that you do not wish to see in your crossword puzzle.  You wrote "No one but no one wants to encounter PHLEGM in their puzzles."  That was an uncharacteristically erroneous statement.  I, for one, do.   I found it refreshing

You have also spoken against seeing in your crossword puzzle the name of a person of whom you do not approve.   Elon Musk comes to mind.  You don't like that one little bit, even though, well, he is the RICHEST MAN IN THE WORLD.   Get him out of my puzzle, you demand.  I, Rex Parker, do not wish to see this name.  Trump, too, one of 46 presidents of the United States.  He displeases you, and you are horrified when your crossword insists that you confront, for a second, this distasteful presence. 

An answer in a crossword puzzle does not endorse the worthiness or humanity of a person or the niceness and sweetness of a thing.  It is simply an acknowledgement that we are adults living in a complex, fascinating world.  I do not, personally, approve of Hitler or Trump or, for that matter, Musk.  I do not think it is remotely tasteless to include them as answers.  I do not harrumph.  "Taste" may be in the eye of the beholder, but that eye should not be behind a 19th century monocle.  

So "vagina" might be okay with you now?  Wow.  But how would you feel about "clitoris"?  Is that different?  Why?  (I confess that I am ending with this as an experiment.  I want to see if you will publish the name of this perfectly normal body part EVEN IN YOUR BLOG, or will you prudishly substitute [Redacted] ?  And if so, why?) 

Respectfully, and tastefully, 

Gene Weingarten [ed.: Gene is a former columnist for the Washington Post]
The editaur (i.e. me), briefly, responds: 
Dear Gene,

First, re: "clitoris," my "19th-century monocle," as you put it, would be more than happy to see CLITORIS (or even CLIT) in the grid. And if you can't see how PHLEGM and VAGINA might provoke vastly different reactions from a solver ... I don't know what to say about that. Those terms are both related to the body, but that's about as far as the similarity goes. At any rate, I'm not trying to lay down rules. All I've ever done is explain my genuine feelings about the effect that words (and names) have on me. Some I don't like, but tolerate. Some I tolerate ... less well. Mostly I don't like seeing the names of awful people (or orgs.) who have done (truly) awful things. I would like to be the kind of person who sees all words and names as legit simply because they exist in the world. But I am a mere human being trying to be honest about his human feelings, even if those feelings sometimes seem overly sensitive or even outright contradictory ("Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself"); so no, no HITLER for me, or PUS, or [redacted former president], or ORBÁN or ... I dunno, lots of things. No racial slurs, no slurs at all. There are a host of terms I can think of that a. exist, and b. are entirely unwelcome in my grids. I won't name them, but you can probably make such a list yourself if you tried. If I were editor, I would likely make reasonable allowance for stuff I don't particularly, personally like. But as a solver, I'm going to yap at whatever feels bad or wrong or gross or whatever. I assume disagreement will be plentiful. This has never bothered me. After all, if no one disagreed, my Inbox would be a much sadder, emptier place... ~RP
So ... I guess I publish letters to the editor now, so if you have something you want to say (about crossword puzzles, or the blog, or the above letter, or anything that's at least crossword-adjacent), feel free to write me at rexparker at icloud dot com, or (if you're really old-school) at the snail-mail address in the sidebar of this blog. Either way, make sure you put "OK TO PRINT" somewhere on the letter. If I plan on printing it, I'll let you know (snail-mailers should give me an email address to speed the process up a bit :)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ken Freeland 12:06 AM  

So happy Rex gave this one a thumbs up. I totally agree... Not one natick, and very clever construction. Would that every Sunday puzzle measured up to this standard! Kudos.

bocamp 12:13 AM  

Thx, David, Karen & Paul; lovely Sun. puz! :)


Typical Sun. solve; slow and methodical, but fulfilling.

Only hangup was the ARANCINI / BERGERON cross. Didn't know either of these; the 'N' seemed the only viable letter. Harrison BERGERON also came to mind.

I think my fat Sunday-fingers are finally hitting their proper keys, as I seem to have reduced my careless typos.

Always enjoy this two-way kind of theme, altho, reading backwards is always awkward.

Fun adventure! :)
yd: pg: 8.12 (0 much later) / W: 5* / WH: 3 / Duo: 34

Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Joaquin 12:13 AM  

This was quite the feat of construction. But why couldn't the across portion of the themes be clued instead of referring to the down clue? I dislike those "See another clue" clues.

And ... I have the feeling Rex's inbox is about to be inundated.

jae 12:19 AM  

Easy-medium. What a hoot. Clever and smooth, liked it a bunch! This one got a well deserved POW from Xwordinfo.

Cyclist227 12:20 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle.

Ken Wurman 12:37 AM  

Perhaps the constructors could have called upon another family member to come up with clues for the hybrid across answers.
I would have enjoyed that..

Joe Dipinto 12:59 AM  

Or you could respond to commenters' posts once in awhile. Other bloggers have been known to do that.

Phrazle 67: 2/6
⬜⬜🟩🟨⬜ ⬜🟪🟨⬜⬜⬜⬜

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Arancini are yummy. Don't get the point of having unclued answers. If you're going to make those part of your feat of construction, acknowledge that they're there somehow.

Gary Jugert 1:15 AM  

Positively delightful puzzle. If Lewis weren't on vacation, he'd likely marvel at this construction. It's seriously very cool. The puzzle seems really big and took me twice as long as usual, but I tried not to check myself much since I knew the puzzle would eventually let me in if I kept at it.

One boo:
ALT-TAB switches windows, not ALT-ESC.

On Rex's Victorianism:
I am glad he has passionate views. I am delighted each day to read his opinions on the social and moral underpinnings of the puzzle's content. I don't always agree, but if I didn't want to engage with those ideas, I would stop reading this blog. Hello Anonym-oti, you're not required to aggravate yourself with Rex if you don't like what he writes. Go write your own blog. They're incredibly difficult to keep going and I marvel at Rex's long term commitment and excellent results... and the wise and funny community around here is a major bonus.

I'm also a dedicated "words mean something" Victorian myself and don't live under the delusion the NYTXW is a meaningless collection of words and clues. This is supposed to be the most important crossword puzzle in the world (even though it often fails us) and when you are on the top, you better have standards if you plan to stay there. You want naughty words and ugly topics in your puzzles? Go do the dozens of independent puzzles cranked out weekly. Get your Hitler penises there. It's fun to go slumming sometimes.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

I mostly enjoyed the puzzle, but I expected to see people complaining about an answer (ASIAN, 72A) appearing in one of the clues (91D). Isn’t that a big no-no?

JCal 2:15 AM  

Great puzzle. But Rex, don't forget Howlin; Wolf:

It could be a spoonful of diamond
Could be a spoonful of gold
Just a little spoon of your precious love
Satisfy my soul

Thanks, constructors for a fun Sunday.

Loren Muse Smith 2:52 AM  

I was stunned when I got DEPSOTS/DESIGNS very early (yeah – easy puzzle) and settled in for a fun ride. This is one for the ages. A tour-de-force. One I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Bravo, David, Karen, and Paul! How cool that parents constructed a puzzle with their PROGENY.

Speaking of PROGENY. . . I vaguely thought about the difference between PROGENY and spawn. Synonyms with wildly different connotations fascinate me. There’s this kid at school, Tyler H., and one day I told him to have a nice day. He’s sharp, so I said, Hey Tyler – what if instead I told you to enjoy your next 24 hours? I’m saying the same thing, but it feels really different, right? Now it’s a running joke between us.

My avatar is The best MASCARA out there – Maneater by Tarte. I cry a lot at school (privately – I don’t make things creepy), so I have to wear waterproof.

ICY – I just put up little signs around my room with some of the following:

Irene Cara’s driveway is ICY.
Don Knott’s teeth have a lot of decay.
Bob Dylan’s eyes are beady.
Quentin Tarantino is a cutie.

I didn’t point them out, so I was beyond delighted when Taliyah W told me as she was leaving, I finally figured out those signs, Ms. Smith. Pretty cool. I tell ya – most of these kids at Turning Point are smart smart smart.

On THEIRS – at Sage’s graduation I was sitting next to a guy who seemed to know a lot of the graduating class. I asked if he was a vet, and he said no, said his partner was best friends with a graduate. As we chatted about stuff – his partner, his job, blah blah - he kept saying they this and them that, and I was briefly confused until I realized his partner’s pronouns where they, them, their. Once I got it, I was desperate to refer to his partner with the they pronouns so I could communicate my acceptance of and respect for this brilliant, wonderful, long-time-coming change in our language. It’s hard at first to refer to a known person as they, but I will do my level best to incorporate it into my speech until it feels natural. I have two students whose pronouns are they, them, their, and it’s getting easier and easier to refer to them this way.

In high school and college, I always OPENed with Queen’s Gambit, thinking I was all that and a bag of chips. Ruy Lopez shmooey Lopez. I sure showed them, buddy.

The clues for ARK and OREO were marvelous.

It wasn’t until I read Rex’s write-up that the circled letters spelled SEPARATE. I was restunned at this construction feat. One of the best Sundays ever.

Anonymous 3:07 AM  

Great Puzzle today. On the easy side… but I loved the weird size of the grid. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Bill Jackson 3:23 AM  

Should the kid get credit for this puzzle if his parents helped him?

Anonymous 3:31 AM  

I'm sure many of us put alt-tab first, but alt-esc is also a shortcut to switch windows so there's nothing actually incorrect about the clue

Ray Yuen 3:40 AM  

I find the reviews grouchy often, and sometimes grouchy without merit. I hate baseball, and I love NFL, but reading here, it's hooray to the most boring sport on earth, and DIE to the best sport in the country.

However, on the topic of no-no names, I agree totally. I do not want to see any reference to f__khead Trump. Just seeing his name ruins my solve and ruins the experience. Vagina?! Sure! Clit?! Yes! Women and female parts need more "exposure!"

Anonymous 3:54 AM  

one minor nit to pick with the clueing. eric b is not a rapper. he is a dj. rakim is the rapper. if they wanted to keep the cute alphabetical thing they could have said pimp c, chuck d, and eazy e maybe? clever puzzle either way, i had lots of fun uncovering the theme.

Conrad 5:20 AM  

@Rex says "Mostly I don't like seeing the names of awful people". To me Bob BERGERON is in that category. At least his public persona.

@bocamp: "reading backwards is always awkward." I don't find reading backwards all that awkward, but filling puzzle squares backward is a bit difficult for me. It wouldn't be if I solved on paper, but I'm not going to do that.

@LMS: Is "DEPSOTS" a reference to actor (and current litigant) Johnny's drinking problem?

At 5D I initially thought rebus, as in DE[SPOT]. It took a while and 29D/49A to disabuse me of that notion.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

Gene weingarten ( and our editor engaged in a thoughtful debate about crosswords?

How delightful.

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

Congrats @Nancy on another Phreagle!

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

Don't like word fragments

Don't like backwards words

Said adios to this one pretty early on

CS 7:01 AM  

This was so much fun!! And a really impressive feat. Just the kind of puzzle for a Sunday. Thanks and congrats!

-- CS

SouthsideJohnny 7:07 AM  

Still stumped by the clue for EMOTES - is “Chews the scenery” a phrase that actors use (like “break a leg”)? Perhaps there is a play on SCENEry ? The only definition I found for EMOTE is the orate route - maybe the OED digs deeper. I sense a head slap coming at some point today.

Smith 7:30 AM  

@joe @rex


Zed 7:33 AM  

I dunno that I’d go to “Best Sunday” territory. It’s great constructioneering and a fine puzzling, but the theme itself lacks much wordplay (it’s all letter-play), and that’s the majorest demerit to me, so this in in the tier below “Best Sunday Puzzles.” Praising with faint damning you say? Perhaps.

ALT-tab switches programs, ALT-ESC (I presume, I’m a Mac person) switches between windows within a program.

@Anon 2:12 - I think that’s more of an unstated rule, but I agree it’s a major gaffe. There are plenty of ways to clue KASHMIR without referencing ASIAN.

@Ray Yuen - Do you mean football? Talk about boring. Three hours of watching people talk (that you can’t hear) interrupted by 11 minutes of violence. It is the Budweiser of sports. Incredibly popular and thus arguing against the notion that Americans (especially American men) have any judgment, taste, or discernment.

@Gary Jugert - Rex used to visit on a regular basis.

@Joaquin - 🤣😂🤣 I’m imagining a certain mouse writing follow-up letters demanding to know why his incoherent racist and misogynistic letters to the editaur aren’t being printed.

Personally, I think Weingarten misuses the notion of “Victorian.” Not wanting vagina, penis, pussy, or cock in the puzzle is Victorian. That using words with French roots is more acceptable than using words with Anglo-Saxon roots is an odd historical curiosity (and I couldn’t help but notice that level of prudishness in his letter). But that’s very different than putting criminals like Trump and Musk in the puzzle. That’s not a “Victorian” attitude, that’s a civility attitude. The uncivil, the anti-social, the proudly racist and misogynistic, should be shunned by society. Appearing in the NYTX is a sign of societal approval that certain people simply do not deserve.

Colin 7:58 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and was awed by its construction. Great to have an "all-family" construction team, but haven't we had couples construct before? I would argue that couples are also families....

kitshef 8:04 AM  

Since I have never heard of BERGERON nor ARANCINI, that intersection would normally be a complete guess. But because the unclued across answers are all valid entries, NO REGRETS came to the rescue.

Really, really clever theme. The ‘bonus’ of the letters spelling SEPARATE was big nothingburger, though. I would gladly have gotten rid of that if it also got rid of MDPHD and III.

Is that letter from THE Gene Weingarten? The Funniest Man Alive Gene Weingarten is a Rexite?

For many years my parents, and then I, subscribed to the print edition of the Washington Post. In all those years there are only three that we saved and still have. The A section for Man Walks on the Moon, The A section for Nixon Resigns, and a column by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post Magazine on June 11, 2006,in which he calls the customer service department of various companies, to hilarious effect.

Laura 8:23 AM  

Great fun. Pretty easy once I spotted the theme, but each theme triple was an aha. Great puzzle.

Followed up with an enjoyable column. Much more fun to read when Rex enjoyed the puzzle. Some great clues for chess, eggs and others.

I agreed with every word of the letter, mostly because the grouching isn't fun to read. I've come to agree with him on password dreck because that's what makes puzzles too easy. Boring column but perhaps Shortz and crew read Rex to, so may as well keep it up.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

(1) did not understand the OREO clue until reading this blog. Still having trouble parsing it: "foreordained" is partly OREO, not the other way around.

(2) How is APE a "bad way to go?"

I'll go make coffee now, maybe I'll be able to answer my own concerns.

Son Volt 8:44 AM  

The gimmick here was fun - but great? I’m with @JoeD - there’s a lot of long real estate left unclued. Odd shaped grid was cool and the fill for the most part held up. Loved PIE HOLE.

I don’t trust anyone to be the arbiter of what information I consume - we see Che in the puzzle continuously but Musk is out? My white brother-in-law has been married to a wonderful, crossword loving black woman for 30 years. She despises the word OREO because it was used as a pejorative towards her kids when they were younger - but she sees it in the puzzle nearly every day.

To keep with the discussion I was going to post a great REVOLTING Cocks song - but @anon 3:54a is brings up a good point. I guess you could call Eric B. a rapper but he was the DJ for the great Rakim

Enjoyable Sunday solve.

pmdm 8:44 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle very much. Am a little surprised that the across theme entries were words without clues, but quickly got over it after trying to shoehorn them into some unknown similarity.

Uncivil is the word of the day. What is uncivil can be very subjective. Take NRA as an example. Perhaps abortion (these days particularly.) I think those who object to the write-ups may find them accurate but uncivil. Perhaps that's the real problem. As I have written before, it's not what you say but how you say it. And alas, irony and satire can disappear when expressed in the written word.

I guess whatever response a comment elicits should never result in an Ed Norton comment such as "Sheesh, what a grouch." Am I dating myself?

Anyway, whatever I did not like about the puzzle did not lower its quality in my estimation. I tend to dislike David's creations. Perhaps because of the collaboration, I enjoyed this one. Hopefully more will follow.

andrew 8:59 AM  

Fun puzzle with just enough challenge (for me, at least - Rex, can you at least give it a pure Medium rating? You already boast about your prowess - You send me back to junior high when the class smarty pants would say how easy the test I struggled on was).

Thank you, Steinbergs!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Wonderful job on this puzzle Steinberg family. When I finally saw what I was supposed to do at the circles, I was half done with no clue. Once I had the aha moment, I said to myself "this is fantastic". It must have taken a lot of work to have real words going all the way across and real answers to clues going down right and down and left at the circle. Plus the circles made and appropriate word for the puzzle. GREAT PUZZLE!

Erica 9:14 AM  

Yes it is a term sometimes used by critics to indicate a performance is very melodramatic. The emotional expression is so over the top that the audience would not be shocked it the actor took a bite out of the set or a prop to convey their emotional state.

Xcentric 9:20 AM  

Re: the letters to the editor and response: I think the reason I object to seeing reprehensible people in the NYT crossword is that I consider appearance in it a sort of kudos, a statement that they are worthy of recognition, a tip of the hat to them. Putting the name of an evil, greedy, or otherwise horrible person in the puzzle is, to me, like giving them kudos, recognition and respect. That is what I object ro - let’s not give them recognition, let’s not give them oxygen. If you must include them, then at least clue them in a way that highlights their disgustingness.
@Ray Yuan - would it be OK if the f_head was clued “political PT Barnum” or “record holding liar” or “evil, vile, live president.”

Nancy 9:21 AM  

It's rare that one unknown answer will futz up your solve in so many places and in so many ways, but that was the case today. This one answer -- one that I was ultimately driven to cheat on -- unnecessarily slowed up my solve too, because, like a moth to the flame, I kept returning to it obsessively.

(I do that sort of thing much too much, and that is why, Dear Reader, I shall never be a tournament-type puzzle solver.)

The answer in question here was the completely "duh?" "Dancing With The Stars" host who I wouldn't have known if I fell over him. By then, I'd completed, if very slowly, everything but that one large area. Once I looked it up, the rest of the puzzle fell in under two minutes. So obviously I have NO REGRETS about this cheat.

Question: Why the heck do there have to be two actors named "Page" -- one, ELaIne, who I know, and one, ELLIOT, who I don't? That answer is nowhere near BERGERON, but somehow BERGERON enabled me to get it. I don't remember how or why.

I go to Rotten Tomatoes several times a week, but I had no idea what that rotten green thing is that isn't a tomato. It's a SPLAT??!! Fancy that!

This is a very cleverly constructed and intricate puzzle with terrifically fiendish clues. I got a bit dizzy going up and down and left and right during my lengthy solve, but that's on me. Despite what I can only describe as some genuine suffering today (note my lack of quotation marks), this is quite a nifty puzzle.

JD 9:28 AM  

Thought I was in for a free ride starting off with MD-PhD. HAH! Wrong. The rest of it was basically a process of throwing guesses at the wall to see what would stick and what would SPLAT.

Thine, Reverence, Ark, Devil, Chapter and Verse. Some stuff going on there. Pretrial, Deposition, Oath. Who's the lawyer in the family? Started trying to guess what came in from the parents and what from the Progeny (Animation, Rappers, Bro). Maybe.

Fluffed before Plumped but not for too long.

I'm in the Spoonsful camp. Rex, Janice Ian wrote At Seventeen, the anthem of my boomer not-a-cheerleader crowd. It fits the movie.

A very ripe Asian Pear is ambrosia. They go from having a crisp pear/apple taste and consistency, to a deep, sweet winey bite.

Sale Tax/Sale Tag. Wouldn't that be SaleS? That aside. Liked it a lot, but very difficult for me.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

I was thoroughly enjoying the Letter to the Editeur and thinking to myself, “wow, this person is a great writer.” And then I got to the end. Gene Weingarten!!!! How I have missed your columns! Your writing skill remains intact.

Megafrim 9:36 AM  

Honesty becomes less than admirable when it crosses over into cruelty. I think Rex's comments are frequently cruel toward constructors. Then again, he warns us all by accurately describing himself as the King of CROSSworld.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

A Steinberg puzzle I enjoyed. That's novel. For once I was on the same wavelength, or able to detect theirs more quickly. For the most part, I agree with your editorial writer, he typed somewhat phlegmatically. Come one, it's one of the four humors.

Peter S 9:38 AM  

“Going ape” is typically not considered desirable!

Anonymous 9:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carola 9:48 AM  

A gem of a Sunday puzzle, with those theme entries that had to work 4 ways (if you include the letters in SEPARATE), the many ancillary pleasures, from LAVA CAKES to DOG TREATS, and the clever clues (e.g., the one for EGGS). Mini-treat: the cross of PLUM and PIE HOLE, which reminded me of Little Jack Horner putting in his thumb.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 9:52 AM  

everything is forgiven when you reference ugk

Sixthstone 9:56 AM  

Fun and easy puzzle for me. I was right on wavelength with the cluing and the nature of the theme gave me 3 ways to work through themers. Uncommon grid was neat, but it included lots of 3-letter stuff (30+) which frankly just isn't that exciting. The 3-letter fill isn't awful; it's just 3-letter fill, which means we've seen it all before (and it's very easy).

The theme and construction get high marks!

Regarding the letter-to-the-editor discussion, I'm more aligned with Rex. I want to see food, beverages, clever expressions, interesting places, etc. in the grid. I don't do the crossword for news or to be reminded of all the crap in the world. It's for entertainment and fun. I don't need bodily fluids, racists, war crimes, etc. I do think politicians of both parties should be welcome as long as they are not criminals, racists, liars, and the like. Oh, I guess that rules out most of them!

TJS 10:00 AM  

Hey, @Z, I went back and re-read the Weingarten letter and he never mentions the word "Victorian".

But I do find your comment mentioning "civility attitude", while stating that Musk is a "criminal" and people who don't share your taste in beer or sports are lacking "any judgement, taste or discernment". And this from a man who thinks a game meant to be played with a beer in your hand and a joint in your mouth should be elevated to an organized, adult sport.

"Appearing in the NYTX is a sign of societal approval". Once again you just can't seem to include that "IMO".

RooMonster 10:10 AM  

Hey All !
19x23 grid. Interesting. A 21x21 nets you 441 squares, this one nets you 437, so 4 less. Which makes the Blocker count high, at 85. Normal is about 78. Just an observation, not a nit at puz or the constructors.

Someone earlier said something about including the kid in the parents construction. It's actually the other way around. David has been being published since he was 13, or so.

Did like this puz, tres cool on the diverging answers. Also cool how the "splitties" spell out an actual word Across, and not just gibberish. I do agree that there should've been some sort of a clue for those. Kinda disappointed there wasn't one more layer to the theme of the Across words relating to the splitties, but I'm sure that's nigh impossible. Unless you weren't going for the "circled letters spell" angle. (Ex: The SECECT LOVER/SECRETING "Reveal" of REVOLTING). Still an impressive job.

A good NO REGRETS clue could be "Tattoo oft misspelled?" Not sure 😃 f you've seen pics of people with NO REGERTS written on them somewhere. I suppose of you have No Regrets, you wouldn't regret a No Regerts tattoo. 😁

So nice puz, David and parents. Lite in dreck, fun theme, real words in the Acrosses. 👍

yd -4, should'ves 2
Duo - too sad to tell. 😁

One F

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

@JD: tax sale, tag sale

Bungalowgirl 10:26 AM  

Tax sale, tag sale

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

I don't agree with those that say the across theme entries should be clued (additionally). They're already clued from the downs, so each letter is part of two clued words, as is standard. And the down parts of those entries actually get three clues (one for the across, and one each for the west-word and the east-word) so that already skews it a bit easier. I think cluing the straight-across parts would have taken away from the theme.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I liked this one … though think it was “easy” (not easy-medium). I was expecting you, Rex, to pan it and am so glad you didn’t,

Teedmn 10:38 AM  

"Go our separate ways" works for me as a hidden theme, especially for 84D. This may have been undersized for a Sunday but it took a proportionately similar amount of time as a usual Sunday given the number of "unclued" entries. I had an inkling, based on the title and the slashed down clues, that some sort of split was going to happen but only at TRANCE/TRAVELER was I able to confirm it.

ARANCINI, new to me, BERGERON a WOE, an eyeroll at MDPHD (anticipating what Rex would say about the opening entry of the puzzle, about which it seems he didn't say anything).

Nice clue for COPIERS (31A) and DOG TREATS (49D). I don't think the clue for DEVIL (102D) is as clever as all that but I understood it so I guess it works.

Thanks to the Steinberg family for this one!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I was thinking tax sale, as in a forced sale of a property due to delinquent taxes.

kitshef 10:42 AM  

@Nancy - Elaine spells here name Paige, although I did not remember that and had to look it up.

@TJS - you may wish to re-re-read the Weingarten letter; he does indeed use the word 'Victorian'.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

You’re underselling Gene Weingarten a bit, who is also a two time Pulitzer winner for Feature Writing.

pabloinnh 10:56 AM  

If we can have "tough for a Monday" and "easy for a Friday" then I guess we can have "great for a Sunday", which is what I was thinking about this when I finished and am happy to see that it sparked joy in so many of us.

Caught the theme right away, and it was both helpful and enjoyable in getting the rest of the themers. Way cool.

I did run into a snag in an otherwise remarkably smooth solve by reading "make" for "made", leading me to PLUMPUP instead of PLUMPED, which entirely ruined two downs. I left that, went elsewhere, came back, tried to see which answer I had that was wrong, and finally reread the clue, which I should have done in the first place. I blame doing my morning run when it was really too warm. That's as good as anything.

Fun to read an opposing viewpoint in the blog itself. As usual, I think both writers make some very good points. I feel like Charlie Brown sometimes when it comes to picking sides.

I can't remember the last time I was moved to use the term Sundazo! but today's effort is a real winner, so a Sundazo! it is. Thanks for all the fun, Steinberg Family. Simply Fabulous.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

That you think you could ever pass as a hard ass or hard case is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
Dude, you’re a skinny middle-aged nerd who likes cats and comic books. My 80 year old mother is harder cause than you.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Think of Z as you would an economist. Never in doubt but frequently in error.

Smith 11:19 AM  

👍yr last paragraph, especially last 2 sentences

David 11:23 AM  

They are actually 20 opening moves in chess, not thousands.

Tom T 11:24 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle and found it to be, for me, in the "easy/medium" category that Rex proclaimed.

Here's one tiny thing I wish it could have managed (even though it was great without it): SEPARATE would have been even better if WAYS could have been added to it. And the final across answer, ABYSS, has the AYS. The bottom line needed only a W to make it happen--although I checked it out and can't see any WAY for it to happen.

Great letter to the editor and great reply from Rex--a very satisfying Sunday in Rex-World!!!

JD 11:30 AM  

Anon@10:23 and @Bungalowgirl, Doh! Thanks. I think Tag Sale might be regional but Tax Sale, I should've known. And thanks to all future enlighteners.

Malsdemare 11:40 AM  

I loved the puzzle, completely missed the SEPARATE. That's ok by me; I miss those hidden gems more often than I catch the.

@Anonymous 11:04. Yes, yes, yes!

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

@david, that is not how it is clued. Google the Sicilian Defense for example.

sixtyni yogini 11:55 AM  

Found the 🧩 easy and brilliant in concept and construction, but 🤨 annoying in doing it.
T’was great but … sorry not that fun.

Will weigh in on the letters. Okay, good. Well said.both of you. And agree with the letter writers pro 🦖 comments. But, y’all - it’s his 🦖blog and his opinions. I don’t always agree with 🦖 and commenters, but think it’s great mods allow counter points, even anonymous trolls, and other rants…. And I can give MY opinions.

I know, it’s tiring (for me) to hear everyone’s opinion (and Wordle posts) on everything, but welcome to social media. And I can always not visit a site if it’s too tiring.

So peace and good one, everyone!


relicofthe60s 11:55 AM  

I agree with Gene Weingarten (who I enjoyed reading when he wrote for the Post). We live now with a new right: the right not to be offended. And the statement by another commenter that the appearance of a word in a crossword puzzle is some kind of endorsement is absurd.

Joseph Michael 11:59 AM  

Congratulations to the Steinbergs for creating an instant classic. When a puzzle is this good, its flaws are automatically forgiven.

Also enjoyed the Letter to the Editor. I hope all future such letters are as thoughtful and well written.

Twangster 12:00 PM  

Southside Johnny ... here's the background on the chewing the scenery:

Pete 12:05 PM  

@Nancy - Ellen Page transitioned to ELIOT Page some years ago.

@TJS - Anything subjective that anyone here writes is their opinion, unless cited otherwise. We don't need to follow every comment we make with IMO. IMO. There, see how annoying that is? IMO.

@Anon 10:57 - You make no sense, beyond your statement about Mr. Sharp. IMO. That snipped was clear and concise, but the rest, not so much.IMO. A "new contender"? For what? I'm sure you think there are many insufferable pricks. I would be offended if I were not one. Is there some contest I should know about? I can up my game if there are tangible prizes involved, so please let me know. And why the secrecy? Are you afraid to name the "new contender" (should there be a contest)? If so, why, you're showing nothing but sniveling anonymity. If you're going to despoil this place with vitriol, and least fill in the blanks. IMO.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I understand what you are getting at, but the fact remains that there are exactly 20 possible opening moves, 16 with pawns and four with knights.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

My favorite Sunday in some time. Unlike some of you genius solvers, I took a while to get the trick, but once I did, everything opened up beautifully.

So clever and elegant, with the exception of the hated OREO. But at least the clue was somewhat interesting.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

@RP: I reckon U been kinda publishin letters to the editor right here for quite a spell, in the Comment Gallery. Be sure and read em. They're generally pretty good stuff.

I'm all in with HITLER PENIS PHLEGM MUSK … as long as they ain't all in one puz answer. Maybe if it got edited down to HITLERPPMUSK? … nah, I guess not -- the Shortzmeister'd get all them day-um letters to the editor about it. Don't need the extra distractions.

Today's SunPuz is epic great. Highly different theme idea. Like a lot, even tho it maybe weren't real humorous. And with 8 cloned themers that don't even have clues. Extra different and nice.

Only thing M&A didn't go for, themer-wise, was that day-um ARA?CINI/Backward BERGERO? cross. Never heard of them rice balls. And as for "Dancin with the Stars", I'd not be drawn to ever watch that, even if they renamed it "Booger Rollin with the Stars".
I went with BERGEROL -- mostly cuz it sorta sounded like booger roll, btw.

staff weeject pick: Of 36 choices! Megaweejecta! M&A'll go with BER. It was themer meat, plus had the ugliest "runt-roll westward", to quote many a runtpuz. honrable mention to III, tho.

Cool 23x19 raised-by-Steinberg-wolves puzgrid dimensions. This layout gives U 437 puzsquares, as opposed to the standard 441 squares, for a 21x21-er. In case y'all are keepin score.

In other puznews, best undocumented side-splitter SPLAT goes to: 7-D's RANCHOW/RANCHORE.

Many cute clues in this rodeo. That there OREO clue really got M&A's attention. In runtpuz land, it woulda fit right in, but woulda rated the double ??-mark clue. Also liked the EGGS one, somehow; subtle good.

Thanx for gangin the whole fam up on us, Steinbergs. SEPARATE seemed apt, especially if applied to that whole "Dancin with the Stars" thing and the puz. Otherwise, primo job. sUnpUzthUmbsUp, and a hint to yer puz's U-count.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 12:32 PM  

To anonymous at 2:12 am:

An Asian Pear is exactly what it’s called. Walk into any Asian market and you’ll see it. Also, try googling it.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Regarding the letter to the editor, NYT recently scrubbed "fetus" from the wordle because of the Roe potential overturn news. Their statement was, "...we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain distinct from the news."

If that's the policy, it would seem ickiness or crudeness isn't the driving factor, but how politically charged they perceive the topic to be among the userbase.

So if they're true to that, Hitler would pass editorial review now if he didn't still have a lot of followers. Musk would pass editorial review when he was just overworking and underpaying people at a startup he stole from the founders, which NYT doesn't care about. But now that he sexually assaulted someone, he probably won't make it into a published puzzle. (He's bad now, but he was bad then too.)

The point here is the standard is subjective. It's designed to bypass thorny issues so users can have a diversion, but as it limits free speech, it's thorny in and of itself.

If they choose to embrace free speech and publish spicy news as a clue or answer, they could run afoul of the paradox of tolerance, ruin the community, and reduce readership. If they continue maintaining their editorial standard, they need to choose if they want to be heavy handed and perceived as draconian, or if they want to use a light touch and be perceived as taking sides.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

I had trouble with the backwards writing, ARANCINI, and BERGERON (had Berenson), but enjoyed the puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  

@Muse darlin: har. And Maga Trumpers are runnin on empty!


Anonymous 12:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GILL I. 1:05 PM  

This was quite good. I'm glad I decided to give Sunday another chance. I applaud the Steinbergs for coming up with this idea and not leaving me groaning at the table. I did need my STAMINA to complete the race...and it worked.
All the god stuff about the puzzle has already been mentioned. I won't repeat it. But if I can say something in Spanish it would be: AY...CORAZON DE MELON!

Also interesting was reading the two letters today. Mr.Weingarten is definitely flowery (or should I say elaborate) with his words. Is it to sound more professional on paper? When I read "An answer also spoken against seeing in your crossword puzzle the name of a person of whom you do not approve", I actually did a "Wow...were might this sentence take us? Could it not have been said more succinctly?... or better yet, maybe just say what you really mean in three words or less! Just my little two cents.

OFL's response is classic. I've been following him for a long time. I really don't want him to change at all. He is what he is and it's refreshing (to me) that he keeps true to his opinions. Don't change...but maybe not be so mean to some of the constructors. I will admit, though, that there are days where I will skip over his rants. Just like he doesn't ever want to see the word MOIST in his puzzle (as well as other words), I don't like "mean." And, can put any names in my puzzle. Just be accurate in your cluing. I wouldn't recommend saying PUS is a pretty color.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

I didn't have a clue on the theme or how to solve those answers until I figured out that "turning point" was "Hinge". Then it clicked. I wonder if that wasn't another theme answer?

Prof Karl 1:25 PM  

I'm always excited to see fresh, new names in the puzzle and see it as a honorable recognition. It's a bucket list item--Get my name in the NYT Crossword puzzle, for something good of course. I loved seeing Elliot Page today. Trans awareness and respect. Good thing,

So yes, I agree with you. Curse words? Shit, why not? Slurs? Hell no. And genuinely evil people? Not sure I want Dahmer in my puzzle, so add him to the Hitler list.

Of course, my list will skew liberal: No Reagans or McConnels or Cruz, thanks, as least not clued politically. Penelope? Fine. Ted, not so much.

Thanks for your blog!

Mike in Bed-Stuy 1:26 PM  

@ Nancy 9:21 AM - Ooh ooh ooh, I get to shed light! Elaine Page transitioned, and assumed the name Elliot.

Nancy 1:30 PM  

I had a "3" to Joe's Phreagle on the first Phrazle. But I redeemed myself on the 2nd:

Phrazle 68: 2/6
🟨⬜⬜🟨🟪⬜⬜ ⬜🟩 🟨🟪⬜🟪

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩

bocamp 1:30 PM  

Good exchange of ideas between Gene & Rex!

"A chess opening or simply an opening is the initial stage of a chess game. It usually consists of established theory; the other phases are the middlegame and the endgame.[1] Many opening sequences have standard names such as the "Sicilian Defense". The Oxford Companion to Chess lists 1,327 named openings and variants, and there are many others with varying degrees of common usage.[2]" (Wikipedia)

@Conrad (5:20 AM)

Roger that! :)

Backward filling/reading, are both difficult/awkward for me. In the case of BERGERON / ARANCINI, the 'N' would have been a moot point had I noticed that all the west to east fill made sense. Another case of inattention. :(

Cryptic xwords often resort to 'back' word placement, both in answers and clues. Also, I find it useful in SB and Wordle games to take a backward glance of the letters for additional insight.

Delightful NYT Acrostic today; just the right amt of resistance. :)
td: pg: 2.36 (-3 ) / W: 4* / WH: 3

Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Newboy 1:40 PM  

Well, a split decision here on the Steinberg family fun fest. That cross at 68A & 58D was a toe stobber as many have noted. The sea of “see ??” really detracted from the lovely intricacies of the pushme-pullme strange beasts that littered the landscape of today’s grid. Can see why Professor Chen awarded it POW status—rare indeed for a Sunday. All in all, it amused as did the call and response for permission to talk dirty/speak freely (take your pick?). If you were amused as was I by the exchange, you might pick up a copy of Kory Stamper’s Word by Word that digs deep into the issues facing lexicography as art & craft.

Nancy 1:47 PM  

I got around to reading them rather late, but today's Constructors' Notes are probably the most interesting I've ever read. As they say, the apple doesn't fall...

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Better clue for 64D: Adelina's specialty treasured by Salvo Montalbano

Kath320 1:57 PM  

That letter to the editor was an absolute delight to read, and lo and behold, it was written by one of my favorite journalists, Gene Wiengarten! Delicious!

old timer 2:06 PM  

It was a slog, even after I got the trick.

But I am here to praise PROGENY, and not just my own PROGENY. A word I never had occasion as a high school student to use. Until someone bought a copy of The Fantastiks. The leading song is Plant a Radish, with this line:

But with PROGENY, it's hodgepodgeny. Just as soon as you think you know what kind you've got, it's what they're not.

In a later verse: "If you issue doesn't kiss you then I wish you luck. Cause when you've planted childer-en you're absolutely stuck.

So whenever I see PROGENY I smile and think of that show, which I did go see in New York once upon a time.

egsforbreakfast 2:26 PM  

Alternate clues:

56A. What forms on wet, freezing ears.
93D. Thrice as sluggish
113A. Unique sound of Mr. Davis
68A. Neither storks _____ ______________ (3,6)
30D. Allow to stray


I agree with Mr. Weingarten, but I understand, I think, what Rex says he’s doing. It seems weird to me in that he isn’t consistent from puzzle to puzzle about the feelings that certain words and names evoke in him. But, if he is genuinely trying to record his immediate reactions, I can’t really question that. Maybe one day he reacts strongly to, say, “gun”, and another day he doesn’t. I’m surely over analyzing this, since I don’t have strong reactions to any crossword answer. Maybe I would if an answer string contained my full name and a slur or something. But just seeing TRUMP (who I detest, BTW) in the context of a crossword has no effect.

Anyway, the puzzle was a near-great Sunday and I enjoyed it immensely, Thank you to La Familia Steinberg.

Ben 2:38 PM  

Speaking of "ickiness" in puzzles -- today I originally had PANG instead of STAB for 110D ("Sudden feeling, as of remorse"), which left me with P__P for 110A ("Make an oopsie"), and with some delight and surprise, I wrote in POOP!

Alas, it was not to be.

Nancy 2:58 PM  

Here's the lady I was talking about. She's Elaine, not Ellen, and she didn't "transition" from or to anything at all. I simply mis-remembered her last name as "Page" instead of "Paige" -- thus causing myself, not to menion a heap of people on two different blogs, a lot of confusion.

JFe 3:39 PM  

Bravo, Rex…the letters!

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Ellen Page transitioned. Elaine Page is a different person.

Joaquin 4:03 PM  

@egsforbreakfast 2:26 - Re:
"68A. Neither storks _____ ______________ (3,6)".

Just perfect!

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

117A: IRE is a stretch at best, if not outright false. They did not qualify for this year’s World Cup and haven’t made it since 2002. I came here for the outrage at this clue and am surprised I’m perhaps the only one who noticed.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

"Delight", Ben? Obviously you didn't have a colonoscopy earlier this week like I did.

Nancy 4:17 PM  

Yes, but it's ELAINE PAIGE who I was thinking of and who I mistakenly wrote into my grid. This other person (who I never heard of btw) had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Wanderlust 4:50 PM  

Solved late in the day today, so just posting one thought that I don't think anyone has mentioned. The brilliant Gene Weingarten wrote a "letter to the editaur" regarding Rex's column, so he must be a regular reader. Knowing Gene, I can't imagine he reads and does not comment. If so, Gene has been among us commenting all the time. Don't you wonder who he is? Maybe JOHN X? Mr. Weingarten, unmask yourself, please!

Oh, and one more comment to disagree with those who wanted the across themers to be clued. I completely disagree. That would make it too easy to solve, and you'd never use the puzzle's trick to get the answers. You'd just solve it as a themeless and wonder what the heck those nonsensical down-answer stubs were.

I very much liked it, too.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

David for Editor of … well, you know.

DrBB 5:09 PM  

Re your LTE exchange: I just want to point out that some constructors--notably BEQ--violate the prudish Victorian norms all the time, which is one reason I love his puzzles (though his fondness for obscure PPP is one reason I don't).

Sean Z 5:23 PM  

Thanks for the lovely puzzle Steinbergs! I enjoyed the process of having to write backwards, then read it back forwards to see what words would emerge.

My fave themer/s?


Lyle Sanford, RMT 5:25 PM  

What gets me is that bloody monsters like Idi Amin, Che Guevara, and Mao never trigger your grumpiness, which suggests it's more a species of political correctness than across the board aversion to nasty stuff in the world - which doesn't stop me from being a regular reader - your supplying deep context for the puzzle building much appreciated.

Unknown 6:08 PM  

oh wow this letter from wash post ex editor.... hahahaha! lovely sweet puzzle too...

Beezer 6:11 PM  

@Gill. Well stated and I agree with “maybe don’t be so mean to constructors.” I know critiquing involves criticism but if you take a moment to think before writing…it’s the difference between constructive and destructive.

SharonAK 7:09 PM  

Did not enjoy its was much in the middle where the unknown name Bergeron was one off the split words, but it picked up again farther down.
To those who questioned" spoonfuls". I remembered lernig that spoonsful is correct but believe almost everyone says spoonfuls 9 which actually seems more logical rot me) so I penciled it in lightly the former way and easily changed it as crosses came up.

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

Help me pay for gas. Y'all liberal lovers .

Anonymous 8:13 PM  


Mike in Bed-Stuy 8:17 PM  

Yes, what Anonymous 4:01 PM said.

redwood 9:50 PM  

Rex - you be you. We can take it or leave it. Just you be you.

Rachel 10:31 PM  

I also don't like seeing gross/evil people or organizations in the puzzle. It reminds me they exist, and causes a little STAB of sadness/annoyance when I'd rather feel pleasant feelings.

Where I differ with Rex on this is that I can't think of any body-related word that I wouldn't want to see. I like PHLEGM, would be fine with pus or other "icky" bodily things. Would absolutely love to see vagina, clitoris, vulva. Those would be a great change from ova, which I'd be happy never to see again it's so overused.

Anonymous 11:02 PM  

I like Gene Weingarten fine but he has his “Get off my lawn moments” and I’ve been noting the opposite lately, with “casual sex” and a ton of weed references and even WAP in its aggressivey unVictorian sense!

Anonymous 11:46 PM  


Anonymous 11:46 PM  

Typically, a chess opening is considered more than just the first move.

Ashkitty 11:50 PM  

I Loved it! Clever, different. No made up wotfd, just good, honest puzzling. GOOD TO HAVE SUNDAY TIMES XWORD BACK.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

I see both sides of the debate. Media coverage is what turned Trump's campaign from a humorous endeavor into that of a candidate with a chance to win. Because of this complex world, words do matter. I'm not naive enough to think the NYT crossword would influence a presidential election, of course. But there are things I would rather not see in it either, either because they raise a media profile or feel misunderstood or make light of something serious or any number of other reasons. Anyway, there are no actual rules of course, and I'm glad Rex shares his opinions every day. I don't always agree, but I often do and they're interesting to read and think about.

Alex Kuczynski 1:39 PM  

I think I have my first construction challenge -- thanks to Rex and Gene

Michael S. 11:52 PM  

Eric B is not a rapper. He is a DJ, formerly paired with Rakim, an influential lyricist. Watch this if you’re interested in words:

Also, Janis Ian is a secondary character in Mean Girls. Cady is the main character.

Kudos to you for a delightful puzzle.

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Avery Lindsey 2:48 PM  
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Avery Lindsey 2:51 PM  
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Burma Shave 2:16 PM  


to the DEVIL with REVERENCE -
PLUM POSITIONS under covers


Anonymous 4:00 PM  

The clue doesn't say moves. Openings have several moves in them, such as the queen's gambit, and are often performed perfunctorily in high level chess matches.

spacecraft 5:09 PM  

Or, you can just read my posts; if I want to critique you, Fearless Fussbudget, I will put it in there. This time, however, you're good.

MANOHMAN, the section in which this entry appeared was the toughest, and last finished. I finally, with a half-groan, grokked DOGTREATS, and that broke it open. My only other "Huh??" was RSS. I just had to trust that, as the downs were immovable.

The first time I viewed a video of DOD Janis IAN's "At Seventeen," I thought, wow, you sincerely don't think you're beautiful. Wow.

A tough nut to crack, until you get what's going on. Even after that, there was some trouble. Call it medium-challenging for me. Always glad to see a DS: I know my brain's gonna get a workout. Best to keep that baby INSHAPE. Birdie.

For the second time in a few days, a no-green solution:


Like, chipping in for a par.

Vintage linens 6:47 PM  

I agree, I gave up early on this one. I don’t like reading anything backwards

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