Softened expletive on Battlestar Galactica / SUN 5-1-22 / Text file in a software package / Speedy travel option / Film critic with cameo in Superman / Longtime cooking show hosted by Alton Brown / Supreme Court appointee before Thurgood Marshall / 2013 Bong Joon Ho thriller / Fad accessory of the 1980s

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Constructor: Brandon Koppy

Relative difficulty: Medium (Challenging if you had to wrestle with the website or the app, LOL)

THEME: "Blank Expressions" — there are eight blank squares in the puzzle, each of which occurs at the crossing of two two-part phrases (the blank square separates the two parts of each answer). What goes in those squares? Well, nothing ... but if, when you're done, you fill each square with a letter that makes sense in both directions (irrespective of the clues), then those letters, reading from L to R, top to bottom, spell the phrase: SPACE OUT (it's a pun!)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: warp zone (the hypothetical, "P"-added phrase at 36-Across) —

warp, also known as a portal or teleporter, is an element in video game design that allows a player character instant travel between two locations or levels. Specific area that allow such travel is referred to as warp zone. A warp zone might be a secret passage, accessible only to players capable of finding it, but they are also commonly used as a primary means of travel in certain games. Warps might be deliberately installed within puzzles, be used to avoid danger in sections of a game that have been previously accomplished, be something a player can abuse for cheating or be used as a punishment to a player straying from the "correct" path.

In some games, a player can only use warps to travel to locations they have visited before. Because of this, a player has to make the journey by normal route at least once, but are not required to travel the same paths again if they need to revisit earlier areas in the game. Finding warp zones might become a natural goal of a gaming session, being used as a checkpoint.

Though it is unclear which video game first made use of teleportation areas or devices, the element has been traced back to MUDs, where it allowed connected rooms to not be "topologically correct" if necessary. The element was later popularized by Super Mario Bros., in which secret areas referred to within the game as warp zones allowed players to skip forward through the game.

• • •

Lots to cover here. First of all ... I don't know if I would've thought to fill in those blank squares if I hadn't had the "Puzzle Notes" ... I don't know what those notes looked like on the app or online, but in my software, they just popped right up. Actually, what showed up is this:

But it went by so fast (I must've hit a key or the cursor before reading the message) that I assumed the notes had popped up and went looking for them. And they read as follows:

The "blank" gimmick became obvious pretty quickly, at the DEAD HEAD / LEGAL ID crossing, so I just solved this thing like a themeless that had a bunch of surprise blank squares in it. Somewhere around the 1/3 mark I noticed that HARD ASS was just HARD PASS without a "P," which led me to see if I could fill other blank squares with plausible letters. I saw that the first three squares went "SPA-" and I knew I was onto something. But this didn't alter the way the puzzle played. It was basically a themeless with holes. Absolutely zero actual puzzle content (that is, clues / answers) relate to blankness or holes or spaces or whatever. The theme is entirely structural / visual, with the bonus phrase being the one real wordplay payoff. And I don't mind that. I think the "bonus phrase" is cute, and the grid (for once, on a Sunday) is strong enough on its own to make the solving experience generally enjoyable. I'm not sure precisely how SPACE OUT is intended to be taken. You have to put the space in to make the clues work ... but I guess if you fill those spaces with letters, then those crossing answers no longer have spaces in them, so the spaces have been taken out ... yeah, that's good enough for me. I won't comment on the absolute disaster that the online solving experience has been for many solvers already, because that wasn't my experience, but let's just say that if you had trouble getting the website or app to take your finished grid, you aren't alone, not by a long shot. I'm told that just putting an "X" in those spaces works ... but it all seems pretty confusing and sketchy. There's a reason I don't care about "streaks" and continue to solve NYT crosswords in the good "old"-fashioned .puz format (or on paper).

[122D ... sorta]

The puzzle started very inauspiciously, with PHLEGMY. Please consider the vibe of your puzzles. No one but no one wants to encounter PHLEGM in their puzzles, and PHLEGMY is somehow worse. I would accept PHLEGMATIC, since it can be taken figuratively, i.e. in non-bodily fluid fashion. But oof, PHLEGMY, that's just ... unpleasant ... and wow, yeah, on top of "WAP" (27A: 2020 #1 hit for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion), PHLEGMY is really Really ... something. Speaking of "WAP," congrats to this puzzle on getting both "pussy" (the "P" in "WAP") and "fuck" (the "F" in "WTF") into the grid ... and the "fuck"-like FRAK to boot! (88D: Softened expletive on "Battlestar Galactica"). Throw in CASUAL SEX and pop star DUA LIPA and you can see puzzle is trying really really hard to get you to feel its edgy youthness, and I guess I don't mind. It's better than the complacently old-fashioned vibe that still manages to pervade so many puzzles. I'll take all the swears and sex references over the genuinely off-putting stuff like PHLEGMY, or ELON, for god's sakes (ugh why lord why? Can't I go one day without hearing that [grawlix grawlix grawlix] name!?) (69A: First name among billionaires)

  • 117D: Shining brightly (AGLARE) — ah, the whimsical old-timey A- prefix, AGASP AGAPE AGOG APACE etc. Today, AGLARE. Even with AGL- in place, I still had two wrong answers before I arrived at AGLARE. First, AGLINT. Then, AGLEAM. Those may seem improbable, but I don't think they're any more improbable than AGLARE.
  • 29D: Fad accessory of the 1980s (SWATCH) — I mean, I guess, but there are still SWATCH stores all over the world. I bought two SWATCHes in Montreal in 2019. "Fad" shmad.
  • 138D: Scrooge McDuck, for one (SCOT) — holy cow this one was hard. I guess I know this about him, but I've read a bunch of Carl Barks tales of the Duck-verse, and it's not like his dialogue is written in Scottish dialect, so I just forgot he was a SCOT
  • 18A: Film critic with a cameo in 1978's "Superman" (REX REED) — every year, I invariably receive a handful of letters addressed to (and even checks made out to) REX REED. And yet the letters arrive and the checks clear, what a world.
  • 108A: Spacecraft's reflective attachment (SOLAR SAIL) — I don't really know what this is, but I believe it exists, and it looks pretty, so hurray.
  • 143A: 2013 Bong Joon Ho thrilled ("SNOWPIERCER") — speaking of looking pretty, "SNOWPIERCER" over "E.T. PHONE HOME" is one of the prettiest short stacks I've ever seen. It might be my favorite thing about the puzzle. 
  • 54D: Has online? (LOL— easily the hardest answer of the puzzle for me. Got it, but no idea, none, how it was supposed to work ... until I remembered how much the puzzle loves its "laugh syllables" ... so not "has" (as in "possesses" or "owns"), but HAs, as in ... multiple "laugh syllables." Thanks, I HAte it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Tough. I knew something was going with blank spaces when DEAD HEAD wouldn’t work, and NYT app took the blank spaces just fine. That said, I had to work for this one. Something a bit different on a Sunday, liked it.

bocamp 12:17 AM  

Thx Brandon, great puz, and a mind-boggling feat of construction! :)

Very hard.

Flunked the test on this one.

Didn't know TEMPEH, altho I'm sure I've seen it before, nor did I know WAP. Had an 's' for the 'P'.

Left all the blank cells empty; never clued in that letters would fit to create phrases. Clearly, I didn't pay close enuf attn to the theme (or the note), and ended up paying the price of a humiliating fail. :(

Other than that, I did get the remainder correct, which is at least something. lol

As always, enjoyed the battle. :)
yd's: Sed: 18 / Duo: 35

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Shane-O 12:28 AM  

First time poster; long, long, long time reader. Decades long. I never have much to say because I always tend to agree with @Rex.

Just busted a 425-day streak of gold stars after spending about 2 hours trying to figure out what the NYT app would accept for the blank squares. And.... I still don't know. Other than what @Rex mentioned about "X"s being accepted. I even thought of "X"s but discounted the idea since it would make the grid look ludicrous.

After hitting "Reveal Puzzle" it just looks like -- blank squares with the meta-answer letters fading in an out.

Can't remember anything else about the puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 12:46 AM  


All I can say is thank Gof they got rid of the .puz format so we can enjoy these technical marvels.


Ken Freeland 12:57 AM  

After learning about last week's virtual consensus here panning last Sunday's NYT puzzle, Shortz & Co. got together and said "Let's really givr them something to whine about!" And so they have.... a PPP-laden slog better suited to People Magazine, my first DNF in living memory. Even college professors do not know these trivia, yet NYT readers are expected to rattle them off from the tops of our heads? I think not. I want my money back!

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

It's a shame they messed up the app solving so badly. Otherwise, it's possible I might have liked this puzzle. As it was, I finished, and then spent twenty minutes looking for mistakes and googling names to make sure everything was right before I realized all I needed to do was erase "SPACE OUT". It completely ruined any joy I might have gotten from the puzzle.

okanaganer 1:18 AM  

Yeeaaah... kind of a neat theme, actually. ARM(C)HAIR indeed. But using Across Lite, for the "blank" squares it would accept neither spaces nor the "bonus" letters S P A C E O U T. Finally I gave up and hit "Reveal/Complete Solution" which put: the word NOTHING squeezed into each square. Bizarre!

SOLAR SAIL is a quite feasible way of propelling a spacecraft... very slowly. Think centuries or even millennia to reach the nearest star. A long way from the WAR(P) ZONE. Reality vs Star Trek!

Rex nice to see you put Neal Stephenson's REAM DE. That guy is something else; thousand page novels which range from hard SF to spacey medieval fantasy. Sometimes tedious, sometimes brilliant. Termination Shock is a wild ride... it starts with the Queen of Holland landing her jet which is attacked by feral hogs and crashes, and just gets crazier from there.

[Spelling Bee: Sat. 4:14 to pg, and QB in about 30 min. Almost identical to July 25 last year. Starting my QB streak back at 1.]

monkeyscrub 2:48 AM  

For those of you trying to complete the crossword online, type "nothing" into teach blank space. I'd call this stupid but it would be an insult to stupid things.

Anonymous 2:53 AM  

Nice solve, followed by 20 minutes of trying to figure out what I'd done wrong, followed by turning on Autocheck (the horror!), losing a 300+ day streak and STILL not seeing the problem. Removed SPACE OUT to leave blanks, and still nothing. Why 'X's? No idea. But left me feeling deeply, deeply frustrated in a way I haven't felt for years. Was it a good puzzle? No idea. Can't remember. Was it a PITA? Totally.

Anonymous 3:01 AM  

Same here only I gave up and lost my nearly one year streak to use the “check grid” feature in which the only mistakes were the blank squares which were correctly filled in. Sort of a drag.

Conrad 5:31 AM  

"I'm told that just putting an 'X' in those spaces works." Apparently, so does "NOTHING" as a rebus. I tried using a '-'. That didn't work. I finally tried "BLANK" as a rebus, which did work.

Have I mentioned before that I hatehatehate rebuses?

Harry 6:05 AM  

Note to Rex: Grappling with a website implementation of a puzzle that ineptly deals with crossword feature doesn't make that puzzle "Challenging". It makes it VERY FRUSTRATING.

Filling the grid and then meticulously reviewing it for more than a half hour because the "Congrats!" window didn't pop had me sheepishly peeking at Rex's blog to see WTF was up. His confusing AGLEAM/AGLare "note" just made things that much worse, sidetracking me to check that only AGLARE did the job.

I had originally filled the "spaces" with hyphens. Then I tried filling in the "bonus phrase". It never occurred to me that it might be necessary to fill the spaces with "X" ... in fact, haven't there been numerous puzzles of a somewhat similar sort that signaled success no matter what was filled in the theme-related "spaces"??

Apologies to Mr. Koppy; this was actually a comfortably casual and enjoyable fill for a Sunday. I look forward to more from him. Excuse me while I go fetch a Xanax now ...

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

@Rex - 117D - AGLARE as correct in your grid solve - but not AGLEAM as in your comments. I too had trouble with the NYT app ruining my stats ...... GRAWLIX.....

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

Neither X’s nor NOTHING’s has worked for me on the iOS app. Ugh.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

Anonymous from a few minutes ago reporting that I was wrong. Leaving those 8 squares blank DID work on the iOS app, I had just missed one of the 8 when I tried before.

Son Volt 7:00 AM  

Didn’t think it could get worse than last Sunday’s debacle - but this is a true hold my beer moment. Take another who cares theme - but this time load the grid with 3 and 4 letter garbage.

Fwiw - knowing the app by now I just left the blanks blank and got the happy music. Meta bonus my ass.

kitshef 7:08 AM  

Quite the risquΓ© puzzle today with CASUAL SEX, HARD ASS, and the one that particularly surprised me in the Times, WAP.

Possibly overthought things today. ROUNDED and ROUNDEr both fit the clue for 82D, and I have no idea who the late actor Eisenberg is.

I said to myself “If it was ROUNDED/NED, there are a million NEDs they could use so they would not go with this Eisenberg person. Therefore, it must be ROUNDEr/NEr and as there are no famous NErs, they went with the best of a bad lot”.

WARP ZONE is a complete unknown … kinda tainted the meta for me.

Robin 7:17 AM  

This one pretty much sucked. So much 3- and 4-letter fill that simply working through the puzzle seemed like hard toil, like weeding a large garden.

Then to finish up and find out that the software wanted you to fill in the themes in a very particular way in order to get a happy pencil sound. No, don't enter the letters of the theme solution, just enter a F-ing X in each square. God help me.

I cannot remember the last time I did a Sunday NYTXW and liked it.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  


Lewis 7:26 AM  

Aw man. Here we have One Terrific Sunday puzzle. I mean, look at what Brandon did. He found phrases where the addition of a letter in the middle completely changed the meaning, like BAR BACK to BAREBACK – 16 of them! Then he crossed them, which means he couldn’t find just 16 random answers, but eight that cross, AND the missing letters had to spell out a meta-answer. This was not only a remarkable feat, IMO, but a joy-bringer to wordplay lovers.

But that’s not all. Brandon also filled the grid with such variety in the answers that it lit up every corner of my brain, not to mention deviousness in the cluing that had me caroming all over the grid, returning to places that eluded me, and receiving ping after ping of satisfied woo-hoos when the answers finally hit.

Brilliance in constructing and thrill in solving – the joys of crossword in one square, a magnificent achievement.

But aw man. So much lost here to so many online solvers, who, like me, right when they should be feeling grateful and satisfied, end up on a joy-sucking treasure hunt, seeking out mistakes, and flummoxed over what to put in the mystery squares.

For some, that may have taken shine from your achievement, Brandon, and I’m feeling for you on that score, but it didn’t dim the light you brought me. This was a beast of a puzzle, and I for one am uber grateful.

JayWayRu 7:27 AM  

Saved My Streak! Learned through another comment that you must enter “X” in the blank space for the theme answers in the NYT app. First I had blanks, then put in the theme letters which seemed more intuitive fills to me. I liked the sexy puzzle otherwise.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Maddeningly, In the times app version of the puzzle, if you solve the puzzle with no letter in the blanks, the “solved” page comes up and then it returns to the puzzle, flashing the letters of “spaced out” in the blank squares. I wasn’t given the chance to figure out the bonus phrase after solving the puzzle.

Shirley F 7:54 AM  

Re yesterday's POT BROWNIES (kind of goes with today's space out?) which a few commenters disparaged and others thought were, simply, passe: whenever i think of marijuana brownies i think of "Brownie Mary," a pot activist in the 1970s and 80s, along with the infamous Dennis Peron. I didn't know Mary but Dennis was a friend and comrade. Mary made pot brownies that Dennis sold at the "Big Top" on Castro.

In the late 1970s Dennis proposed a ballot proposition to decriminalize marijuana in San Francisco. I spent a delightful afternoon with Dennis and others collecting signatures outside a Giants game at Candlestick Park holding my sign "Free Orlando Cepeda" -- he'd been busted in Puerto Rico on charges of smuggling pot and got 5 years. Over the weeks of collecting signatures throughout the city we got enough to put it on the ballot and it was approved by voters. But the DA and cops ignored it, continuing to bust pot smokers and dealers and sending them to jail.

Around that time Dennis was shot by the narcs in a marijuana raid led by the infamous Greg Corrales, one of the most despised cops in San Francisco. He was notorious in the Castro, Haight, Fillmore and Mission Districts, used to go into Golden Gate Park to bust people smoking on Hippie Hill, and was especially vicious against Latinos. Naturally he later became a captain in the SFPD.

Brownie Mary got busted several times, the first time in her late 50s. In one bust she got sentenced to community service and began volunteer work with the Shanti Project, which i believe was the first group to support AIDS patients. (My next door neighbor was one of the founders.)

One of the effects of the disease was the total loss of appetite resulting in wasting away. Brownie Mary knew that pot helped cancer patients with this problem so she began giving brownies to AIDS patients free of charge. She was impoverished herself, and people in the Castro and Haight and other parts of the city helped by giving her marijuana to bake into the brownies.

Brownie Mary and Dennis were the driving force behind medical marijuana, which began to gain acceptance after Proposition P passed with something like 80% yes votes -- it was a nonbonding policy initiative supporting medical marijuana. Mary and Dennis opened the first ever Cannabis Buyers Club dispensing medical marijuana.

Both Brownie Mary and Dennis have died but their persistence and courage in fighting for medical and recreational marijuana changed the country. And perhaps today's "edibles" owe something to Brownie Mary's wonderful recipes!

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I stopped doing this puzzle when I read the lyrics to Cardi B's Wap. Call me old fashioned if you will.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

ELON has broken a lot of people. Me included. I have to admit it’s kind of funny to watch it,

Z 8:05 AM  

So solving those 16 answers as clued works? That seems perfectly reasonable.

First thing I noticed is that the grid is over-sized at 23x23 rather than the typical 21x21. Second thing I noticed is the mirror symmetry. Third thing I noticed is all the single black squares around the middle of the puzzle, like a bunch of zits. Fourth thing I noted was too many squares for GOODeats, looked at the puzzle title, and sussed out GOOD EATS. Alrighty then. The fat lady wasn’t singing, but she was definitely warming up.

The solve wasn’t too bad given how big the grid was. Not as sloggy as many 21x21 puzzles have been. The SPACE OUT did complete the experience. There’s no way I’m going to count PPP in this monster, but it didn’t feel out of NYTX normal (which sometimes just means it was all in my wheelhouse). And maybe you all should solve the way Gof intended, with pen to paper.

dan 8:06 AM  

Any puzzle that needs TOPE next to WHA is in rough enough shape that that part should be completely scrapped.

In general, not a good puzzle for me. It’s fair that I should have remembered SHOOP, but crossing it with PAPAL? In general, the fill here sucked hard.

mlm 8:06 AM  

I was SURE there would be bitching about casual sex, WTF, frak, and WAP. And after complaining about an old man's puzzle yesterday, wondered how that would play. But good job staying consistent at least.

Had to come here to figure out how in the frak to solve this one on the app. I tried blanks and I tried the right letters. Wasn't until I put in X's in those spots that I got the happy noise. I'm running it on iOS for anyone else trying to figure it out.

pabloinnh 8:25 AM  

No problem with the app at my house, writing in the letters on the printed out version worked OK, except that it took too long and became less and less fun. By the time I was done, or at least as done as I wanted to be, I didn't care about the secret message, and after seeing it, I still don't.

Sorry if I haven't Been Kind, BK, but not much of a wavelength today. Thanks anyway.

Frank 8:26 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Hated the NY Times presentation of it. 75-DOWN, Times! If you can't figure out how to format a puzzle then don't print it! Give us back Across Lite! I want my Happy Pencil!

Unknown 8:32 AM  

The "x" in the blanks worked on the NYT site for me. Thanks for the tip.
I am sure there was some internal logic in the design but it failed badly on a human level.

Mike Steinberg 8:35 AM  

Solved the puzzle only to get jammed on the usage of the online feature Still scratching my head to get the "symbol" to work on the blanks Nonetheless, a great Sunday challenge Starting May out on a loss

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

WHA? I started using the app 177 days ago, and today I broke a 177-day streak because of a stupid app glitch, after spending more time proofreading the finished puzzle than I spent solving it. When I finally hit “check puzzle,” it highlighted all the blank squares, which I had Filled In Correctly.So WTF was I supposed to do?
Worst. Puzzle. Ever.

Z 8:47 AM  

@LateNight Wrong Accuser From Yesterday - πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ - Literally the second definition at Merriam-Webster, with the single most common example of using “train” when talking about the “train track.” (Obviously, clicking on the link will spoil the Saturday puzzle if you haven’t done it yet)

ELON, πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£, where to begin? The racism? The imaginary wealth that can drop precipitously when ELON does something stupid? The crap product his company produces (there’s a reason I went with a GM electric vehicle)? Or maybe the insider trading? Or maybe him posting incredibly stupid stuff on Twitter (I blocked him years ago for posting stupid and still the howls of laughter get through like they did this week). Or that he doesn’t actually have the money to buy Twitter? Only the stans will be surprised if the Twitter deal falls through. ELON isn’t appreciably worse than Thiel or Koch or Bezos. But I’m with Rex, life is better without them.

Deb Sweeney 8:47 AM  

I ended up liking this in the end though it took forever to figure out the blank square thing, I still forget that things like that can happen but it was clever in the end. My daughter who has recently joined me in solving HATED THIS once done and we saw the bonus phrase. "I do not like that," she repeated, sitting next to me on the couch. "I do not like that." HEH. LOL.

Pete 8:49 AM  

Damn, @Zed's post beat me by seconds. I was going to say that I was sorry to hear that he died, his head having exploded trying to calculate the PPP of this monster. The top three rows put me off entirely with the PPP, and I never complain about PPP. There was a [grawlix] ton of PPP here.

I don't know what a SNOWPIERCER is or does, but it doesn't sound very impressive. Snow pierces pretty easily, I don't see the point in bragging about it. Hey, I'm an AIRMOVER! My super power is making air move aside as I mosey about!

I eat Indian food regularly, I drive 45 minutes each way most weekends to get my fix. Somehow, other than NAAN, I never know of of the Indian foods in crossworld. Yes, I order the same thing every time, and yes it's the best dish of any sort, anywhere, and yes I'd have sex with it if it were possible, but you think I'd at least have picked up LASSI somewhere along the line. It's probably the mango-looking thing that only the neophytes and (oddly) the Desis have.

I finished the puzzle relatively quickly except for trying to find my mistake because the app didn't tell me I was done, then looking for the note, filling in the secret bonus message (hi Ralphie), then looking for my error. ANGEL[i]NO x TEMP[i]H. Spelling sucks.

Joe Dipinto 8:53 AM  

Then she'll be a true love of mine /
sleeps unaware of the clarion call

I'm glad I did this one on paper, apparently. I misread the 41a clue as plural so I had DEADHEADS, no space, which screwed up progress in that area for a bit. Then I got the gimmick at BAR BACK/B SIDE. My interpretation is that when you add the extra letters into the answers you are taking the SPACEs OUT, so it works for me.

The facilitation of the gimmick is commendable but, as @Rex said —is this a theme? I expect more from a 23x23 grid: lots of nice long spanners, maybe some artwork. It seemed to take forever to get through this, I think probably because nothing really grabs you along the way.

Phrazle 28: 2/6
⬜⬜⬜⬜ ⬜⬜ ⬜🟩⬜🟨⬜

🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

MP Rogers 8:54 AM  

Just wondering, where do you get the .puz version of the crossword from? I thought the NYTimes had stopped providing them.

JD 9:00 AM  

Put the letters in, don't put the letters in? I demand accommodations for the legally obtuse (still, fun was had). Phlegmy was my favorite answer. (Insert @Z's Elon rant here).

@Pete from yesterday, I guess I see what you mean (see immediately above). But if you live in an unlegalized state and grow your own you could still be in the kitchen rendering THC into a stick of melted butter and making your own Rice Krispy treats. No?

@Delta88 from yesterday, I don't disagree completely. But I said news on the order of a Tesla or Corvair. I think Alero is more a bit of trivia attached to a bigger news story than newsworthy Per Se.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

HARD PASS was in Saturday’s puzzle

Frank B 9:01 AM  

This did not work on the iOS app. They really should test these before going live.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

I didn't think I could hate anything as much as a crossword "rebus" but this takes the cake. Why do we even bother with definitions and one letter per square? I know, let's leave undefined blanks in our puzzle! Shortz, you're killing me. Too clever by half, as the Brits say.

TJS 9:12 AM  

OMG. THE STREAKS ! What kind of God would let this happen ?

Any chance that you could just, ya know, be aware that your streak is still alive ? Or does it require NYT validation ?

A challenging Sunday, which is good. A ton of unknowable PPP at key spots, which sucks. I'm starting to realise that it is often the location of the PPP more than the sheer number, that leads to the aggravation factor.

Glad this week is over. Or is it just beginning ? I can never remember how that works.

E. Nuff 9:12 AM  

Another puzzle brought to you by the new and improved NYTimes app that does all sorts of "dazzling" things for you - while not just forcing the cessation of support for puz format, but multiplying glitches for solvers. This is not the first this app has screwed people over. And for what? pretty pictures?

The puzzles created using the technical capabilities of this new app have not been better puzzles; they are just some tech guy's idea of clever presentation.

Dewayne 9:22 AM  

Very clever puzzle that would have been very enjoyable if not for VERY poor technical implementation (at least in Chrome browser online) --- could not find anything that worked in the "blank" squares.

MaxxPuzz 9:36 AM  

NYT app ONLY accepts an X for the blank spaces! A faint flash of each correct letter is your “reward” at the end. Contact them if your streak was blown by this nonsense!!!! I did once in a similar app disaster and they restored my streak.

RogerThis 9:37 AM  

I started off and figured out the blank space immediately, then looked at the size of the puzzle and all the short answers and thought, wow, can I be BOTHERED? It's a lovely day outside, there's plants to be planted and watered, groceries needed, a walk to be undertaken etc etc and for the first time in as long as I can remember decided a slog through the terse borders of crosswordeze was not for me today. The puzzles are rarely satisfying enough to justify them getting even larger than normal.

A 9:37 AM  

*****Phrazle alert:

Sorry, wanted to post this before solving the puzzle to encourage @Nancy to try for a first guess Phrazle today - took me two but trust me, it's worth a go. And congrats @Joe for your single - that and
@bocamp’s the day before made me try harder yesterday. (Got my Wimbledon colors flying a bit early, I know.)

Phrazle 27: 2/6 (yd)
πŸŸͺ⬜⬜⬜⬜ 🟩🟩🟩 ⬜πŸŸͺ⬜πŸŸͺ πŸŸͺ🟩πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ🟩🟩

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩

amyyanni 9:42 AM  

So @Pete, love you driving 45 minutes for Indian food. One of the blessings of my new abode is being a 10 minute walk from a fantastic Indian restaurant. (Lassi is a drink; I don't order it either. ) Will you share the name of the dish?
Condolences to the constructor because of the Times' screw up. It is a clever idea and the puzzle was great.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

I wasn’t able to get anything to work in the iOS app. Very frustrating, Broke a more than one year streak of Sunday puzzles…

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Using app on iPhone. Left blanks, filled in letters, tried X, - , nothing rebus, blank rebus. None of it works.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Two very unpleasant puzzles in a row--and on Saturday and Sunday, no less. No joy to be found in either Joe DiPietro's or today's. Just slog slog slog, a lot of very "off" cluing, and in today's case, too much of everything. Looking hopefully toward tomorrow.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Try the word blank. That worked for me when nothing else did.

Photomatte 10:00 AM  

Leaving the blank squares empty worked just fine for me (using the online version). After I was done, and got the congratulatory message, the blank squares began filling themselves in with faint blue letters in a different font with a smaller point size, similar to how the Easter puzzle auto-filled the grid with colored Easter eggs once the puzzle was correctly solved. I'm glad it worked; I have no idea what I would've put in those spaces had it not worked (I never grokked those spaces actually spelled something out until the puzzle was complete)

SouthsideJohnny 10:00 AM  

I got the theme at DEAD HEAD and GOOD EATS and actually enjoyed looking for the other themers. Unfortunately, the constraints of such an ambition construction apparently led to way too many other entries that (for me at least) were really, really just boring. Things like NEMEA, OSAGE, LASSI, LASZlO (very memorable character, don’t want to be spelling his name in a puzzle in 2022 - especially one with so much other junk in it), LAHTI, NIH, CORDATE, SHOOP (?), SWATCH, EID, UTES . . .

Sorry or see that the NYT is embracing the low-brow stuff like WTF. Rex seems to believe it is progress, I disagree with him on that one. Oh well, I guess the only thing that is constant is change.

Barbara S. 10:06 AM  

Happy May Day, everybody.

I’m usually not a bad solver, but three of the last four puzzles have cleaned my clock! Well, cleaned my clock and extended my timer on and on and on, as my solve ate up more and more precious nano-minutes. It all started with Thursday, the IV puzzle, whose theme I eventually got on my own although it took forever. Friday was fine – liked Friday – a solid beachhead on which to land and stand. Lots of good long answers, across and down, and the unknowns were crossed with knowns. Then Saturday was a tortuously protracted DNF. Strangely, it was the extreme NW and the extreme SE that brought me down. Couldn’t successfully suss out the archaeological site, the flying start, [about to be sold], the auto-shaft (non-driver) or the Sex Pistols song.

And today – sheesh. I had no problem realizing there were blank squares and I had no problem with the NYTXW app: I left all the blank squares blank and got the happy music…eventually. My woes today all centered on stuff I didn’t know or clues I couldn’t fathom. One of my first fill-ins was “brama” for [like some bulls]. Well, that was doubly wrong, once because the correct answer was PAPAL, and twice because the word is actually “brahma(n)”. And my whole solve just proceeded from there. Another DNF – I had to google DUA LIPA, ABE FORTAS, ANISE TEA (I was at my wits’ end trying to get ANISETte to work) and O’NEAL. Everywhere a mistake was possible, I made it – brio for ELAN, LABwork for LABTEST, ToNeS for TINTS, toOn for SCOT, TieD for TOLD and, yes, AGLeam for AGLARE. (I’ve seen “agleam” somewhere in a recent puzzle I’ve done – crossword or SB.) And all those goofs were crammed into a small area along the bottom!

None of these puzzles has been bad in my opinion, just tough. I don’t know when I’ve been so sorely tried in such a short window. The challenge of these grids is what makes me keep coming back, with my head wrapped in bandages and casts on both arms. But I could really use a nice, gentle Monday now (pleeeeease?).

[SB: QB yesterday and, thanks to good record-keeping, I know that I had a total of 12 QBs in April. That’s pretty decent for me. I’ll try to up it to lucky 13 in May.]

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Because they're black, those two get away with that WAP song? Would Carrie Underwood get away with that? No, she'd be crucified. Think about that.

bocamp 10:28 AM  

ROCK SOLID effort by Brandon in spite of NYT's technical difficulties.

@Shane-O (12:28 AM)

Welcome to the commentariat! :)

@okanaganer πŸ‘ for QB yd! :)

@A (9:37 AM) πŸ‘ for your Phreagle yd! :)

@Barbara S. (10:06 AM) πŸ‘ for your QB yd and an excellent SB April! :)

And, a Happy May Day to you, too! :)
td pg: 11:56 / W: 5*

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Nancy 10:33 AM  

Truly weird, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.

First of all, I put hyphens in my blank spaces. (I wrote them in with pen and paper, natch.) The title told me to leave the spaces blank, but I can be stubborn that way, and hyphens made my solve easier to see.

After which, I wondered: WHY those blank spaces?

It all seems so arbitrary. DEAD HEAD; GOOD EATS; HOT POT; B SIDES; STAR DATE; TOP HAT; SWEATS IT; PER SE; TOOK OVER; ARM HAIR, GAS LINE; HARP ON; etc,. etc. get blank spaces...

But SHOO INS; I BARS; END USER; DO TIME; BAD KARMA; DUMP ON; READ ME; SNOW PIERCER; and ROCK SOLID, etc., etc. don't get blank spaces. And I really can't see a dime's worth of difference between them.

The "trick" -- as ridiculous as it is -- made the puzzle more puzzling and therefore I found solving it quite enjoyable. But the theme doesn't make an ounce of sense to me.

Teedmn 10:35 AM  

Had to reveal a couple of the "blank" letters in order to finish since my solving program wouldn't let me leave them blank. My program accepted "N" as the filling. N marks the spot? Now I see, over at xwordinfo, that I should have tried to fill them in with letters that would make a real phrase. Makes a lot more sense than N's.

That top central spot nearly did me in. I had SFO and SET and PLANET EARTH and nothing in between. NBA draft pick? Salt-N-Pepa hit? Northern Jersey town? TOG, of all things, finally came to my rescue and a vague memory of GOOD EATS. Pretty sticky.

I-BARS are features of some skyscrapers? And what's with all the HARD ASS, FRAK, WAP, WTF? Sheesh!

I liked the clue for 96A's B SIDES, the answers ET PHONE HOME and ROCK SOLID. But is SUGAR a lump sum? What's a WAR[P]ZONE? (I Googled it, never heard of it).

An interesting idea that didn't quite work for me but thanks for the effort, Brandon Koppy!

Teedmn 10:39 AM  

Har, I love Rex showing the cover of Neal Stephenson's novel (my favorite of his works) "REAMDE", which is exactly what I thought of when I got to 122D.

kitshef 10:44 AM  

@MP Rogers 8:54 - if you email me, I can send you the instructions for getting the .puz file.

sf27shirley 10:46 AM  

Not sure why but the moderator has not posted my comment from early this morning about Brownie Mary. There was not any vulgarity or offensive remarks , just a good remembrance.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

How do I persuade the app Ive finished ?

RooMonster 10:58 AM  

Hey All !
Picture this: Everybody sitting around at the NYT puz desk, someone asks, "So how can we make the blank squares become solvable in the app?" Someone else says, "why not just have the letters that are supposed to be there in there?" Someone else says, "nah, too complicated, we'll just have them as X's."

Jealous of the ones who left the spaces blank and got the Happy Music. When I figured out that there were supposed to be blank squares, I knew the NYTPuz site wouldn't give me the Tune, because it won't let you leave blank squares. So I (naturally) filled them in with the corresponding SPACEOUT letters. Still nothing. Went to each individual square, and hit Reveal Square, and what was put in? Nothing! As in, it stayed blank. Got to the last one, and then got the Happy Music. Wasn't very Happy, though. Why, oh why, couldn't you just have made it work with the correct letters? Ruined a good puz.

I did enjoy the concept. I did notice the mirror (ala left/right) symmetry. But didn't notice the oversized grid at 23x23 (thanks for pointing that out @Zed.) NEATO puz with the missing letter words/phrases still being actual things with or without the letters. Very Tough to find eight workable pairs that had to have the letters SPACEOUT in them, and still work both ways, so kudos on that.

I sent in a 15x15 puz a while back having basically the same theme. Mine used SPACE as a blank square, as in (SPACE)BALLS was one of the entries, using six squares. So an empty square followed by BALLS. Natch, it was rejected. Think I had six or eight Themers.

Add me to the peeps who didn't know WARP ZONE. And surprised myself at how hard the missing A of DEAD HEAD/LEGAL ID was to see. Silly brain.

So a great puz, ruined by technology. Har.

yd -5, should'ves 3 / Duo -1 (missed 1-3-4-6-12-15)(with 15 being a dumb miss)

Four F's

Sixthstone 11:04 AM  

Regardless of the theme, 40+ three-letter answers is too many. Throw in the inability to finish in software (due to the space gimmick) and you have stolen all potential joy out of this. We are really in a low spot for Sunday puzzles. Another dud...

Nancy 11:05 AM  

I went for the phrase in 1 today instead of letter distribution -- but no such luck.

Phrazle 28: 2/6
⬜⬜πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ ⬜⬜ ⬜πŸŸͺ🟨πŸŸͺ⬜

🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Banging the drum for an act which literally tears a baby limb from limb and or sucking the brains out of its skull to facilitate extraction is ok, but Rex gets squeamish when he sees phlegm? Ok then.

Mike G 11:16 AM  

REAMDE is awesome. This solve wasn't.

beverly c 11:17 AM  

First puzzle in a while I considered quitting - due to non-wheelhouse PPP.

Unfortunately I was inspired by another post to find the lyrics to WAP. I didn’t need to see that. Not sure why the NYT is ok with that kind of thing in the Sunday puzzle.

I was delighted by ETPHONEHOME.

I didn't get the happy music until I finally auto-checked and deleted the fill in the spaces. I didn’t see the note so “spaceout” was revealed by Rex. I wish I had caught it.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Did not like the clue “Flexible Spade” cause it was the last word I had to enter to finish the puzzle and I had to look it up.

Mary McCarty 11:22 AM  

Maybe it’s an advantage of solving later on the West Coast, but “-“ (hyphen) worked for me. Tried it when the app left the clue looking “unsolved” (i.e. dark print) if I left the square empty. Tour de force on creating those phrases that worked in both directions when SPACEOUT was added (which I never saw) but I would’ve been even more impressed if there had been no other two-word answers without the spaces. As it is we got way too many to list here, from REX-REED to ET-PHONE-HOME, including many that really should have a hyphen:end-user, rock-solid...etc. kinda tarnished the joy for me.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Aside from the train wreck they made of the puzzle online, Scrooge McDuck is a racist stereotype and has no place in an NYT game.

Carola 11:26 AM  

Genius. Really challenging, really fun to work out. I liked the nice touch of the grid starting out with the anticipatory AHA. Mine came right in the middle with ARM[C]HAIR x TOOK[C]OVER, just because both sets of phrases popped in view at the same moment. Then I went back and filled in the S-P-A...and figured we were headed for a SPACE-related phrase ("cadet"?).

The theme came to my rescue for my last square - for the life of me I couldn't understand 4A x 4 D and tried a bunch of consonants, e.g., mTE x mEGA LID? Only the [A] allowed me to see LEGAL AID...and then to understand that we weren't talking about a LEGAL Freudian ID but an I.D. Solved in the mag, never saw the note, glad I didn't.

Along the way...CLARION, ARMOIRES, SNOWPIERCER, SOLAR SAIL, ROCK SOLID, ET PHONE many winners. This one was an all-around pleasure.

Nancy 11:44 AM  

I see I only understood half the trick today. That also seems to be true of many, if not most of the rest of you. Here was the post I just wrote on Wordplay when I found out about the DEAD AHEAD/LEGAL AID, etc. aspect of the puzzle -- none of which I noticed at any point:

"You've got to do SOMETHING with the title to suggest to solvers-- during their solve and not only after reading the blog -- that something is changeable about either the answers or the blank spaces. Something like, say, FILL IN THE BLANK or LETTERS GONE MISSING or TWO WAYS OF LOOKING AT IT. I'm not sure what the best title might be, but BLANK EXPRESSIONS indicate that the spaces are blank and that they stay blank. Which is completely misleading.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Is it a streak if you get outside help?

OffTheGrid 11:55 AM  

If you're tired of Tricky Dicky WTF NYT Sunday XWORDS, checkout the L.A. Times. It's free.


egsforbreakfast 11:59 AM  

Patron: I’d like a beer that’s huge and hoppy.
Barkeep: Oh, you want a DUAL IPA.

Christine of “The Blacklist” apparently has her own special Indian concoction, the LAHTI LASSI, which she claims she could drink TILDE cows come home.

I dreaded this puzzle before I even started it. I mean, 23 x 23 with 171 words! The average 21 x 21 Sunday has 139 words. The difficulty of constructing the theme makes it all seem ok, but I can’t say I loved it. Nice idea though, Brandon Koppy. So sorry you’re getting a lot of grief over the NYT technology.

Nancy 12:00 PM  

Scrooge McDuck is a racist sterotype????!!!! Who knew?

I did the puzzle yesterday, so I forgot to mention the one clue that had made me laugh out loud. And that was the off-the-wall idea of cluing SCOT by way of a duck.

But that was before I realized that Scrooge McDuck is a racist stereotype. I wouldn't laugh now, I swear I wouldn't. Cross my heart.

(What an unenlightened childhood I had.)

Other David 12:06 PM  

Leaving the blank squares in the NYTimes app yielded neither a "one square amiss" nor a "complete." Filling in the blank squares with the proper letters likewise. Came here to find out that, for reasons unknown, you must fill the blank squares with an "X" for the puzzle to finish.

After the long, very poorly clued slog that was this mess, it was really the topping on the cake. Just for one idiocy, who knew a lump of sugar is a "sum" of anything? Ugh. The one bright spot was in the NE, where we had a Dual IPA crossing a single IPA. So, it was clued weirdly, but even so...

Joseph Michael 12:10 PM  

This is a good example of a stunt puzzle that is a very impressive feat of construction but almost no fun to solve.

I nearly quit early on after ramming into one proper noun after another but somehow plodded forward and completed it. Had no idea what the “bonus phrase” was until I came here. I do like the theme concept. I just wish it hadn’t felt like I was doing homework for a class I had no interest in.

I’m beginning to think that Hell is a place full of NYT Sunday crossword puzzles.

Linda R 12:17 PM  

Those who do Wordle and/or Phrazle: How do you know what number Wordle or Phrazle it is? Commenters here said yesterday was Phrazle 27, today Phrazle 28. And the NY Times Wordle bot identifies the Wordle by number. But I don't see these numbers on either game page. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

This worked for me, thanks! I spent way too long trying to figure it out :(

bocamp 12:23 PM  

πŸ™ for the Blue Marble and its inhabitants!

@Nancy (11:05 AM)

Same strategy as you today; also no luck. lol

Phrazle 28: 2/6
⬜πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ🟩 πŸŸͺ⬜ ⬜⬜🟨πŸŸͺ⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩
td pg -2 (missed these two, which I got the last time they were possible. Off by one letter in the sp. This was a lazy/lame effort. :(

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Azzurro 12:25 PM  

I solved on the iPad iOS app, and it accepted hyphens in the blanks spaces. I never got to try solving the meta, though, because the app just provided the answer with blinking squares.

Gary Jugert 12:33 PM  

Done. Blech. Ready for Monday.

Carola 12:39 PM  

@jae, from Tuesday and my not knowing Jason SEGEl - you might remember pointing me to "The End of the Tour." Watched it last night and really liked it. I thought he was excellent. Thank you.

Beezer 12:52 PM  

Worked the puzzle late today, I have to garden in the spring any time it’s NOT raining. I enjoyed it and figured out to leave a blank space fairly quickly. Got totally goofed with ABLARE/BOOSTS and eventually had to do “check puzzle” to see my mistakes. I work on the iOS app and it “completed” once I made my corrections. I had left the blank squares blank, so who knows what’s up with that.

I’m not trying to pick a fight…just curious WHY this “streak” thing is important. I mean, YOU know you finished the puzzle. Or is it the fact that you finished the puzzle correctly? Since I sometimes “cheat,” I could LOOK like I had a long streak of sheer genius even when I haven’t. Just wondering.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Worst solving experience in all my years

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

My streak is alive! Used an “x” in the blank squares in the iOS app on my iPad. Thanks for the advice everyone! πŸ‘πŸ™

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

As a self-appointed Guardian of the Grawlixies, M&A just wants to say: "This puz took m&e a frakkin eternity to solve!"

But, hey -- consider the numbers:

1. 23 x23 grid.
2. 171 words.
3. 89 black squares.
4. 48 3-letter weejects.
5. 60 E's (61, if U count the cute meta answer).
6. 9 U's (10, if U count the cuter-still meta).

staff weeject picks: DMS & EID were both suitably mysterious. Had to pick two, since 48 candidates. Runoff election on those two, later this year.

Nice E/W puzgrid symmetry.
Different theme, but wo-man was this a lotta work.

Thanx, Mr. Koppy.

Ma sked & Anonymo 10Us


Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Ugh. That sucks.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

TOPE? You have got to be f*&$!#g kidding me. I guess the WIll Shortz in his infinite wisdom decided directions for on-line solvers could be left blank as well. Thanks a lot, Will. Please, retire. And I hope the Times will find someone other than Sam Ezersky to take over.

Steven 1:20 PM  

I left the blanks blank in the app and it worked fine. No ‘X’, no ‘BLANK’, no nothin’. Just beautiful empty boxes.

Steven 1:22 PM  

Could be you’ve got a letter wrong somewhere.

Suzy 1:26 PM  

Thanks, Brandon! I enjoyed this tough puzzle very much— except for the dizzying number of three-letter answers.

We take the paper version of the Times, so the blank spot presented no problem when I finally saw
the gimmick. Never heard of Snowpiercer and Megan Thee and Ariana seem to be popping way to frequently
these days. Otherwise fair or inferable through crosses and the blanks actually helped.

Linda R 1:38 PM  

MP Rogers 8:54 AM - The browser extension Crossword Scraper will give you the .puz version. After you add the extension, in the Options, check "Unicode support" - it'll let you see the unusual characters in clues and metadata when they're used.

burtonkd 1:42 PM  

@nancy - you beat me to it with Scrooge McDuck. Strange that gets a pass, perhaps it is because it is a nationality, not a race or gender?
@pete - it is a full size train piercing through avalanches of snow. Probably not the sticking a needle into a snowball you are imagining. Like Parasite, it is a mirror of our classist society; Elon would definitely get a seat at the front.

While bare back can apply to genteel horse riding, it is also a fairly common vulgar term - fits today’s mini theme.

Leaving the spaces blank worked on my times ipad app.

Pete 1:44 PM  

@Amyyanni - It's a lamb curry with onions/peppers/??? that have been pickled with Achari spices. I don't think it's the dish or even the recipe specifically, it's what region of the Punjab the chef, or his mamma, came from. The restaurant I go to has 4 locations in West-Central NJ and East-Central PA, and only at the Princeton location is it exceptional. It the other three it was only ever so-so. Even at Princeton if the main chef is out it's only so-so.

Marty 1:49 PM  

This puzzle was made harder in the app … I missed the note, but did wonder whether there would be a pun in the blank spaces. But by the time I finished, I felt too frustrated to continue.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Apparently the bonus phrase is XXXXX XXX. Thanks for sabotaging the 'streak' count you forced on me in the first place, NYT.

okanaganer 2:06 PM  

[Spelling Bee: @Barbara S: I see I'm not the only compulsive record keeper! I had QB 22 times in April, out of 27 attempts. Here are all the words I missed.
Before last fall I only saved my successful QBs... I only had 3 last August, though a lot of days I was away from home and didn't do the SB.]

A 2:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
old timer 2:17 PM  

I solved it on paper. Read the note, also printed in the paper, and decided as I always do not to bother filling in the blanks. It took a while to figure out they should be blanks though. Probably would have been mad as heck doing it with an APP.

Even so it was very hard and I wasn't entirely sure every answer was correct but they all were.

I did take the time just now to read the lyrics to WAP. Ain't it just like OFL to complain about the inclusion of ELON Musk and not say anything bad about WAP? My guess is that song was very popular with gay men, who generally love them some WAP. Will really should have nixed the clue and the answer. For, believe it or not, there are a fair number of children who like to try their hand at the NYT puzzle, especially on a Sunday when there are some very child-friendly puzzles in the Magazine. And if they are old enough to take a STAB at the Sunday puzzle they likely are old enough to have an iPhone too, and if I were 10 or 11 I would have Googled WAP for sure.

OTOH, maybe most tweens and teens would have given up before getting that far. This puzzle skewed very OLD I think. I knew PHLEGMY at once, but it's pretty rare you see any PHLEGM reference, other than PHLEGMatic. Many other answers were just as unlikely to appear even in the 19th Century books that children often enjoy reading.

A 2:38 PM  

Thanks @Rex for explaining HAS. Now what is BAR BACK?

Condolences to those online solvers who lost their streaks (@Shano-O that’s rough, but welcome!)

Solving on paper, I was spared that misery, but all the PPP made me PHLEGMY - got about halfway and went to the NYT site and started hitting Reveal word. Didn’t want Big Google thinking I was interested in all that pop crap. Once I did that, I stopped drawing angry faces on my puz page (looking at you AGLARE, WAPARISMUSHOOP).

I was impressed how the extra letter fit both ways. I went AHEAD and filled them in for the fun of it. But WARPZONE was a WOE - tried WARm ZONE and all of a sudden that NE corner got ugly: CASUAL SEX ADS WARm ZONE HARD mASS. Quite the relief when that was over.

Anyone else have sEitan before TEMPEH? A little soya knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

I thought 66D, [Eccentric], was going to be another themer, with WEIRD and WEIRDO both working. Maybe the justice’s name was both without and with the middle initial O? Nope, we get an ABE/ABRAHAM dupe.

Speaking of WEIRD, [In which belts are worn] was.

Favorites (looking forward to some of these in @GILL’s post today):

and CLARION, because it put this song in my head. (Hi, @Joe D, had you heard this rendition?)

Fun clues:
Flexible spade
Professional saver?

Learned about Sophie Taeuber-ARP and ABE FORTAS, or maybe relearned. I’m sure I’ve seen those Dada heads before. And I bet my mom was spitting nails at Nixon OUSTing FORTAS.

Today's effort. Mine was a phrase, too, @Nancy, though obviously not the same one.
Phrazle 28: 2/6
πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ⬜🟩 🟩πŸŸͺ ⬜🟩🟨⬜⬜

🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

kitshef 3:19 PM  

@Old timer 2:17 - I'm pretty sure if we were teens or tweens, we'd have heard the song a few hundred times by now. It was number one for four weeks in 2020, and was performed on the Grammy telecast last year. (Video is a compilation of two songs: WAP starts a couple of minutes in).

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

@A, a BAR BACK is an assistant bartender who does everything except mix drinks. Or sometimes just someone cleaning things up. But in my experience barbacks hope to be bartenders someday

Donna 3:28 PM  

I do the puzzle on my desktop, and dashes worked for getting the music, but it was still frustrating having to erase the bonus phrase in order to finish.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

on phone and online, it has not worked with blank, nothing, or x. why do i spend my sundays this way?

Joe Dipinto 3:40 PM  

@A – We always watched the Andy Williams show so I probably saw that performance, but I don't remember it. Really nice!

I couldn't think of an entire song to post today, so here's another puzzle-related TV clip → 🟩

Georgia 3:44 PM  

I gotta go eat my timpeh with Rex Reid.

Masked and Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Uncle $crooge is a racist stereotype … becuz he's a rich skinflint that happens to have been given the last name of McDuck? Sheesh. M&A is startin to get one of them over-woke feelins. Not sure they ever stressed any Scottish background, btw -- and I've got all his early comics. I know as a kid I always admired him, because despite all his comical penny-pincher tendencies, in almost every story he ends up helpin people out, at his expense. He's a cantankerous character with a kind heart, deep-down.

Next, will my fave Carl Barks comic book ducks soon be banned in Florida schools, becuz the ducks ain't wearin any pants? (As the War on Disney further escalates.)

M&A Comic Book Desk

Beezer 4:03 PM  

@anonymous 3:39…are you sure there is no mistake elsewhere in the puzzle? For instance, I THOUGHT I’d changed ABLARE to AGLARE. I’ve had times in the past that I think I’ve looked at every single entry and I’ve missed a typo because it still results in a word. If it were me, Id just think, dammit…I solved this puzzle…but I know it can be annoying.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 4:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 4:32 PM  

I tried erasing the bonus phrase after finishing but the iPhone app didn’t take that, either. Had to go type Xs in all the blank spaces after erasing the bonus phrase, and then the app accepted it.
Very stupid programming by the NYT Crossword team. It should have accepted the puzzle with or without the bonus phrase typed in. But having to type in Xs makes no sense at all — the phrase isn’t “CROSSED OUT”.

thefogman 4:50 PM  

Too much of a slog for such a tiny reward. Themes have to be much better than this or you may as well run a themeless puzzle instead. Not terrible. Just not as enjoyable as it can and should be. Yet another Sunday letdown.

Colin 4:56 PM  

Late to the game today. Almost DNF, this one was such a slog. I recognize the feat of construction, but all the PPP nearly did me in. Not much fun.

Newboy 5:01 PM  

Read only @Bocamp and then spaced out since I blanked on the note & went full Apple iPad for my wtf solve…..neither was a good choice. @B liked it; @N agrees with OFL “ Thanks, I HAte it.” Off to Higgins and Trudeau where I’m Bound to Win they assure me.

DigitalDan 5:02 PM  

Thanks, Rex. Mr. Happy Pencil owes us all an abject apology, but I don't suppose we'll get it.

Barbara S. 5:07 PM  

[SB: @okanaganer, 2:06 PM. I laughingly own up to compulsive! Kudos to you: those are terrific stats. Your misses are a colorful bunch of words, and not just because of the way Ngram displays them. The fails that get me are the simple words that nobody has any business forgetting. There are too many of those. But we soldier on.]

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

I typoed at NIH/DUALIPA for a DNF. After correcting that, I gave up before S P A C E O U T popped up. There was no glitch on the NYT app, but no glee at finishing either.
HARDASS and CASUAL SEX = OK. WAP, not so much.

East Coaster 6:00 PM  

Today I stopped by the GAME SHOW NETWORK out of curiosity. It’s not quite as lame as the puzzles being published by the New York Times lately, but it is obviously trying hard to catch up. Feats of construction may be human and engineering marvels (the great pyramids, for example). I would prefer it much more if the editorial staff under Will Shortz’s direction would consider themselves responsible for locating, editing and perhaps BETA TESTING their puzzles instead of presenting us with this sorry excuse for, well anything.

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

Condolences on your streak - this was not a fair way to lose it in my view

Z 6:22 PM  

Re: McDuck - Didja consider that a one liner by an anon might be a trolljob?

Anonymous 7:15 PM  

All this while the NYT software will accept the first letter of a rebus, instead of the string of characters. All that money for Wordle and they can’t pay a proper developer to make this streamlined.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Oh well. There goes my streak of 1388. Guess I’ll have to get a life… πŸ™‚

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Thanks. Would never have figured this out

Perry 8:36 PM  

The puzzle was fine enough, but the way that the app/website interacted with the solution was a complete shitshow. If the NYT xword wants to do "clever", they need to at least make sure that the clues and solution interact clearly with the app/website. That was the one of the least pleasant solving experiences that I have had in a long time. Argh!

Laura 8:38 PM  

I used a rebus key to put in the spaces. Fun puz with lots of fun clues, highlighted by Rex, but confusing to finish. Didn't get the pop-up message, though just realized I didn't check the NYT blog.

A 8:50 PM  

@bocamp, thanks - I’m still holding out hope for a first guess!

Thanks, @Anon 3:24, never knew that!

@Joe D, I was looking for a live video with the Canticle lyrics and that’s what turned up. I might’ve seen it too, but sure don’t remember. That Lassi clip had me going for a while.

CDilly52 8:53 PM  

So so sorry @Shane-o! I cry foul.

Perry 8:54 PM  

I took a moment to send a comment about today's horrible solving experience to I encourage others to do the same. That the NYT pushed this puzzle out without confirming that it worked with the app or website is complete amateur hour bullshit.

LateSolver 8:58 PM  

So... Many... Names...

Names I didn't know, and the constructor probably didn't either until the build software suggested them, and so much PPP in general.

Sundays have been getting tougher lately. And not to go old man on you, but I think the puzzle should be at a rating level where you would allow you Jr. High kid to work. While not blatantly offensive, the clues WTF, WAP, CASUALSEX, and even FRAK are obvious in their implication. How much longer will it be before we start seeing answers in the puzzle that we would never had said out loud 10 years ago, and clues that would make a sailor blush.

Does every genre have to push at the edge of decency, or aren't we allowed one haven of intellectual civility. Et Tu, NYTXW?

CDilly52 9:04 PM  

First off, the tiny squares gave me a headache. I had to expand the puzzle but that messed up my view and flow. I caught onto the blanks immediately At DEAD HEAD, so that part of the theme was taken care of. Like others, I never caught on to the “fill in the blanks” because once I got my happy music, I was absolutely knackered and very much “over” this one. It was fine but not very exciting or funny or even Sunday-ISH at least to me.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

I had the grid filled as in Rex’s screenshot above… and only when I cleared out the SPACE OUT letters did it give me the win.

Neko Ninja 10:48 PM  

I too made the mistake of looking up WAP lyrics. Is this what Will Shortz defines as a modern puzzle now, one that pushes the boundaries of taste?

Anonymous 11:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:35 PM  

I originally left the squares blank, and it wasn’t recognized as finished. Then I added the missing letters - still not finished. Finally I did a rebus in the blank squares with “NOTHING” - and I got the puzzle completion message after I did the rebus for all but the last one in the lower right corner. That one was still blank, but somehow I got the congratulations message.

Polly done, and totally unfair way to ruin a streak!

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

I am very disappointed in the explicit references in this NYT puzzle. The lyrics to WAP (I googled since I had never heard of it) and the other clues don't belong in a Sunday puzzle. Growing up, my mother and I used to do them together. I can't imagine this being appropriate for a family. I fail to comprehend why people consider foul and obscene language to be edgy, funny, or witty.

Unknown 1:26 AM  

Had a hard time finding a solution the app would accept... finally found that a rebus of "blank" was what did the trick (using both Chrome and Firefox).

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

Thank you!!

Cameron 9:22 AM  

I was expecting the bonus phrase to have something to do with the mouse face I see in the grid… alas no. My streak is broken too.

Perry 11:43 AM  

I contacted the NYT to complain about yesterday's debacle at I heard back from them and they will restore the streak for people who lost it due to yesterday's puzzle. The instructions in the email are as follows:


To get this resolved, please follow the steps below and I will be happy to restore your streak.

Open up the Crossword website. If you're trying to access the website on a mobile device, you may need to copy and paste the URL into your web browser. Here is the Crossword website's URL:
Log in with Crossword account
Open the puzzle/puzzles that are not showing a gold star
Clear the grid by tapping the Clear button atop the puzzle on the solving toolbar
Tap the Reveal button on the solving toolbar and reveal the whole puzzle
Refresh the puzzle page to ensure that the puzzle remains fully revealed and appears solved with a blue star and be sure not to log out.
Once you complete those steps, please let me know (at and I'll be happy to mark the puzzle with a gold star.

Mark B
Customer Experience Specialist
The New York Times

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

I just read them. OMG!

Doctor Work 1:00 PM  

I did the puzzle online with Chrome, and when I had "finished" (i.e., leaving the eight squares blank), I did not the congratulations pop-up. I tripled-checked everything, and finally compared mine to Rex's, and it matched. Then I figured I have to add the mystery phrase. Nope. Finally, I broke down and asked for the puzzle to be checked, and....the bot dutifully crossed out all my mystery letters(?!?). So I took them out again, and still didn't get "Congratulations". Sigh. I told the bot to reveal the answer, and all I get were the eight mystery letters blinking on and off. How am I supposed to do that?? What do you want of me, NYT!

Ashkitty 4:16 PM  

Puzzles no longer fun. I'm done. There are other papers with Xword puzzles...time to move on.

Blue Stater 4:58 PM  

I hate to keep making this award, but this one was The. Worst. Ever. Ever, as Ever in my 70-plus years of doing these puzzles. Nonwords, egregious errors, and worst of all, in order to solve the puzzle you had to not solve the puzzle (leaving blanks). I've been hanging on to my NYT puzzle subscription for years in hopes of outlasting WS (which is one reason why I keep calling for his retirement), but I'm seriously considering ending the relationship, now that the New Yorker has a serious puzzle feature. There is Just No Reason why the Times should continue publishing self-regarding junk like this. Ever.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Theme and fill both interesting. I do puzzles on paper so no technical issues. First puzzle I completed fully in 2 months!

barrywep 6:54 PM  

Glad I did this on paper but was still frustrating and tedious.
Too many tedious puzzles lately.
Time to let a fresh voice take over?

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Why wouldn’t it be okay - the previous week featured an ethnic joke about the Irish.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 10:54 AM  

@old timer 2:17 PM - Re: "My guess is that song was very popular with gay men, who generally love them some WAP" - Is your comment camp, or a microaggression?

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

Are we sure brandon koppy isnt b.e.q.?

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Tog, cordate and tope are stupid and not things I need to carom around to solve.

Uke Xensen 12:21 PM  

This dreary puzzle has made me resolve never to waste my time doing Sundays again.

spacecraft 12:50 PM  

After slogging--as through molasses--about 3/4 of this, I realized I had already been forced into at least half a dozen lookups, making it a technical DNF anyway, so I just quit. Tell me you finished it with zero lookups, and I won't believe you.

Clearly, this was a puzzle that the constructor did NOT WANT to be solved. Besides numerous obscure words, his clues for many of the PPPs were WAY out of left field. I mean, who was NED Eisenberg?

Folks, I'm retired. If I wanted to WORK, I'd be working. I worked this morning, hard, and didn't get paid a cent for it. The clue shout-out to me wasn't enough (108a). Normally I don't score DNFs*, but this was horrible. Look at all those lonely little black squares, chopping the grid up into tiny pieces. Ugh! At least a quintuple-bogey.

*Yeah, I got the theme, and the message. So what.

Burma Shave 1:02 PM  


SO, SEDUCE me with POT,


rondo 1:24 PM  

Puzzle notes you say? None in my paper. Might have eased the slog.
BATS in the corners.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

Worst.Sunday.Xword.Ever ... :(

Diana, LIW 8:57 PM  


I thought the Sunday puzzle liked me...

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

I too just read the lyrics and discovered she won Grammy for that crap. We are doomed.

Christoph 12:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Renieri Laura 3:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 8:30 AM  

The constructor and editor should be careful about discriminating against newspaper solvers. After all, this is the NYT crossword, not the internet crossword.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP