Moody North Yorkshire setting / SUN 6-5-22 / English indie pop singer Parks / 1960s activist Bobby / Gourmet mushroom with poisonous lookalikes / Common spa descriptor / Precursor to a circuit breaker / First in a line of 13 popes / Fashion guru Tim / Cryptids on snowy mountains / Mars bar with shortbread and chocolate / The Muppets villain Richman / Jimmies and corkscrews

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Constructor: Christina Iverson and Katie Hale

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (assuming you are familiar with the author names)

THEME: "Let's Get Literature" — familiar phrases that end with a word that then becomes the first part of a famous author's name; answers are all wacky third-person verb phrases:

Theme answers:
  • COMES OUT OF ONE'S SHELLEY (23A: Looks up from reading "Frankenstein"?) (Mary Shelley)
  • GOES THROUGH HELLER (33A: Reads "Catch-22"," "Closing Time" and Something Happened" -- and doesn't stop there?) (Joseph Heller)
  • TAKES A LONG WALKER (55A: Borrows "The Color Purple" from the library instead of "The Flowers"?) (Alice Walker)
  • PLAYS THE FIELDING (81A: Listens to "Tom Jones" on audiobook?) (Henry Fielding)
  • BREAKS THE LAWRENCE (100A: Reads "Lady Chatterley's Lover" so many times its spine splits?) (D.H. Lawrence)
  • GIVES A FAIR SHAKESPEARE (117A: Donates some copies of "King Lear" to the Renaissance Festival?) (Gary Shakespeare)
Word of the Day: ARLO Parks (52A: English indie pop singer Parks) —
AnaΓ―s Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho (born 9 August 2000), known professionally as Arlo Parks, is a British singer-songwriter and poet. Her debut studio album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, was released in 2021 to critical acclaim and peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart. It earned her nominations for Album of the YearBest New Artist and Best British Female Solo Artist at the 2021 Brit Awards. It won the 2021 Hyundai Mercury Prize for best album. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's very little about this theme that I didn't like. Confession: I am a literature professor. So there's that. But I genuinely think the theme is clever—simple but smart, with a consistency of phrasing (third-person verb phrases) that I found elegant. Seems like there are a lot of potential themers still out there, each of which has exceedingly wacky cluing potential: DELIVERS THE MAILER, JUMPS FOR JOYCE, GOES BEYOND THE PALEY, just to name a few. I think my favorite imagined answer so far is GETS FED UPDIKE, just for the morbid direction the "?" clue might go in. But the set we have here in this grid is strong in its own right. Straightforward, not exactly laugh-out-loud, but solid. The authors in question are all pretty to very well known, with Henry Fielding seeming (to me) to be probably the most likely to cause tilted heads and quizzical expressions. He's a big deal in the history of the novel, but not as much of a household name as he perhaps used to be, even a half century ago (when "Tom Jones" was a big-deal cinematic sensation). There's a nice breadth to the author selection, spanning four centuries, with Alice Walker being the only author still living. There should be some author here for everyone, unless you don't read, or don't read "literature." My point is, the author set seems adequately broad and non-obscure. The theme doesn't yield as much humor as it might, but it holds up OK, and at least doesn't involve the kind of groany, truly bad-pun answers you sometimes see in Sunday themes. And even if none of the answers are LOL funny, they're all cute enough, and the core idea of the theme just ... works. I think the weakest thing about the theme execution was the clue on TAKES A LONG WALKER? Is "The Color Purple" iconically long? (most recent Penguin edition: 304pp.). Would anyone know how long it is relative to "The Flowers"? I've actually never heard of "The Flowers," so I don't know how long it is. Looks like "The Flowers" is actually a short story, two pages long, so ... "The Color Purple" is a longer Walker, anyway. Anyway—Walker is famous and "The Color Purple" is famous and I like the answer phrase, but the clue is assuming an audience knowledge of relative page length that I doubt is there. Also, I didn't care for the title of this puzzle, with its forced, faux-youthy play on the idea of "getting lit," but the title is the title and has nothing to do with whether the puzzle is actually any good or not. Plus, the title *does* follow the basic rules of the theme, so it's got that going for it. 

I shrugged numerous times at proper nouns I was expected to know. I discovered ARLO Parks some time last year, both because her music is enjoyable and because I saw her name and thought, "Oh ... she's coming ... move over, Mr. Guthrie." And here she is! But ELFUDGE!? Is that one word? or is it pseudo-Spanish, like: El Fudge! Currently in my head it rhymes with "roughage." Anyway, it's not a famous cookie type. I mean, it's no MILANO. Also, who is this SAL person? (54D: Blueberry-picking girl of children's literature). I am aware of ... let's see, I think SAL is a mule in some song ("I got a mule and her name is SAL / Fifteen miles on the Erie (!) Canal..."). And SAL owns a pizza parlor in "Do The Right Thing." That is all of my SAL knowledge. Oh, and the baseball player SAL Bando, I know him. This SAL ... is from "Blueberries for SAL" by Robert McCloskey (1948). It is apparently a very famous picture books. I read a metric ton of midcentury picture books as a child. This one somehow completely got by me. And what is TEX Richman? Or, rather, what "The Muppets" are we talking about. Is this a recent movie incarnation? Looks like the 2011 movie version. Huh. OK. I missed that, and even if I'd seen it, I think I'd probably wonder how culturally iconic this TEX person is. He doesn't seem to be part of the broader Muppet universe (if that's a thing). I watched a lot of "Muppet Show" and various Muppet Movies as a kid, and no TEX. But the crosses were fair. OK.

  • 1A: Precursor to a circuit breaker (FUSE) — really truly didn't understand what "precursor" meant here. Then again, I know squat-all about electrical systems. We have a circuit box in our basement. Sometimes something, uh, blows, and we have to go down there and flip switches back and forth to reset things. You can see that I am very handy.
  • 56D: "Yuck!" ("EWW!") — one of those rare answers that is also my feeling about the answer. I want to blame the double-W spelling, but it might be even eewier in the double-E version (which I have also seen). 
  • 71A: "Wow!" ("OOH!") — realized just now that the first thing I wrote in as an answer here (off of the middle "O") was ... "WOW!" Just ... wow.
  • 8D: Person in a head set? (CEO) — so the various C-O's are ... a "set" of "head" (or "chief") people? CEO, CFO, CIO ... Is that the "set?" Because if it's not, I don't really know what this clue is doing.
  • 69A: Lifewater and Elixir brand (SOBE) — D'oh! I confused the beverage brand and the noodle type (SOBA), which then led me to write in AGE instead of ERA for 70D: Geological span.
  • 10A: Pointed remark (BARB) — Just before coming upstairs to solve this puzzle and write ... well, this, these words that I am writing right now ... I watched the final episode of Season 4, Part 1 of "Stranger Things." How is this relevant? Well, if you've watched that show from Episode 1 of Season 1, you might be able to guess. BARB is Back! (well, briefly ... sorta ... you'll see for yourself ... or not). 
I want to plug Peter Gordon's latest puzzle project, "A-to-Z Crosswords 2022," which he calls "Petite Pangram Puzzles"—these are 9x11 Easy to Medium puzzles that contain every letter of the alphabet. My experience is that these are very tasty snacks. More meaty than a mini, but small enough and doable enough to knock off during a spare 5, 10, 15 minutes or so (depending on your skill level). The pangramitude means that the fill gets pretty lively in places, and you also always know, if you're struggling, that until you've ticked off all 26 letters, well, those remaining letters are definitely out there ... somewhere. Knowing you gotta touch all 26 actually helps with the solving at times. These puzzles are unusual and fun and snackable. Worth it, for sure. Go here to get your subscription! (The Kickstarter needs to meet its $$$ goal by tonight at 10pm EDT!)

Now for this week's ... 

Letter to the Editor! 

This week's letter comes from Jerome Walker, and it's a response to one of my bullet-point comments on this past Thursday's puzzle (June 2, 2022). For reference, here is my original comment, in its entirety.
  • 15D: "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" actor Robinson (CRAIG) — had no idea here. Is this the Old Spice guy? Hey, wait, this is Darryl from "The Office"! OK (OK), I know exactly who this guy is. He was on that show for the whole damn run, whereas he's only been on 9 episodes of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," what the hell?! What a weird clue. (P.S. the "Old Spice guy" is Terry Crews)
My initial response to the following letter was fairly defensive, but after I sat with it for a while, I felt it offered a valuable perspective. Here it is:
Dear Mr. Parker,

I started doing the NYT crossword in January 2021, and for the last 463 days I have done the crossword and read your blog each day. I like it when you loved a puzzle and I didn’t, and vice versa. Mostly this is a matter of personal preference and awareness, and I think it’s okay for a good puzzle day for one to be a tough puzzle day for another: it’s what makes being part of a puzzle community exciting! And I like that your write-ups so often push the puzzle to make more good puzzle days for more people. As a relatively new solver, I appreciate any time that I can have fun with a puzzle without having to know some esoteric initialism that’s been in the puzzle 42 times since 2002 but seen little elsewhere. And as a young, Black, queer man, I like to see references in the puzzle that feel contemporary to me as well — I love 20th century actresses as much as the next person who could stomach 463 NYT crossword puzzles, but there’s so much opportunity for new fill and new joy in puzzles when we expand what is puzzle-eligible.

And I think you do a great job of pushing this position forward! Even when it means including fill that you’re not already familiar with. Again, I have learned from you that not everyone has to have the same good puzzle days. But on Thursday, June 2, when Craig Robinson was in the grid, while you didn’t disparage his inclusion (rather, his being clued by a few appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine), you first asked if he was the Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa, and then misattributed the Old Spice guy as Terry Crews, a third, separate, Black actor. Yes, Terry Crews has appeared in Old Spice commercials, but Isaiah Mustafa is the “Look at your man, now look at me,” quintessential, original Old Spice guy. A Google search for “Old Spice guy” returns Isaiah Mustafa. I know you probably did not mean anything by it, and I wouldn’t say Mustafa is exactly grid-level famous (though how great would it be to find MUSTAFA in the grid!), but my point here is that eliding these three Black actors, at least two of which are certainly grid-level famous and television staples for nearly 20 years now, does feel disrespectful in a way that is unusual for your blog. It is not sin to confuse an actor or two, but to jumble these three up and publish an incorrect attribution does feel reminiscent of the classic racist idea that Black people are hard to distinguish from one another, which I imagine is part of why Black names have historically found their way into the grid so relatively infrequently. I would flag it as something to be aware of: if we really want the crossword to be a space for all people, and why shouldn’t it be, then we should be careful about who and what is distinguishable enough to recognize in the grid.

All best,
Jerome Walker
I could quibble with some of the details here, but I think the gist of the letter remains worthy of consideration. I have a flippancy that I bring to lots of my riffs on pop culture and celebrity names. This letter is a good reminder that flippancy can read differently to different readers, and that perhaps there's some reason to be careful about not seeming to be dismissive or diminishing when discussing Black people, as well as other people from groups that have long been underrepresented in the grid. I'm always going to have a light, goofy, even somewhat irreverent tone to my writing, but I think there's a way to maintain that tone without conveying disrespect. I found Mr. Walker's sincerity and good will disarming. I'll keep his criticism in mind going forward.

If you have any crossword-related thoughts that you'd like to put into letter form, feel free to send it to me at rexparker at icloud dot com, and be sure to label it OK TO PRINT. Thanks, everyone. See you soon.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Easy. A very pleasant Sunday solve that made me smile. Liked it a bunch!

Joaquin 12:09 AM  

When I saw the "Let's Get Literature" title I was concerned that I would take it in the "Shortz", as literature is not my strong suit. But these were all in the category of common knowledge, resulting in a more fun than usual Sunday solve.

Joe Dipinto 12:17 AM  

There's also SAL Paradise, protagonist of "On The Road".

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

liked the puzzle. The long themers were get-able and you didn't have to know the authors, but it did help if you did.

loved the letter from Jerome Walker. rexcalibur, you've been paper cut, my friend. and look, you're not even bleeding. this is how it used to be done, America. get in, make your point, and move on. now we just yell, make threats, and worse. frankly, the whole "I'm right, you're stupid, talk to the hand" is done. put a fork in it.

I try to be right only once a day, and never twice in a row.

okanaganer 1:29 AM  

Yeah a pretty cute theme. Recognized (but didn't necessarily know right off of the clue) all but one of the authors right away; then FIELDING sounded familiar once I got as far as PLAYS THE FIELD---.

But hooooooooboy, it seemed like a lot of names! I just counted them and I think about 32 but it seemed more than that. They were densely packed in a couple of areas: 11 to 18 down, and 60-65-74 across, for instance. ELFUDGE was a complete unknown... okay looks like it's actually E. L. Fudge! But seriously... why????

I actually finished with an error at one of those names: SKYE crossing UNEASE. Okay now I remember, Skye is an island, not a vodka. And UNEASE is a noun.

[Spelling Bee: Sat pg in 3:20, but currently stalled at -1, missing a 7er.]

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

This puzzle, which I finished in record time, was ridiculously easy. Even the few answers I didn’t know, like “Arlo” and “Tex”, were easily completed by their crosses. I really look forward to a pleasant wrestling match with Sunday’s crossword, especially enjoying those “ta da!” moments when challenging clues suddenly hit the right brain cell after many attempts. But this was just drudgery, filling in one square after another with barely any need to stop and think. And I can’t imagine that anyone who feels competent enough to attempt a Sunday puzzle would have the slightest problem with those author names. Now I have unexpected extra time in my day and may have to clean something. Dang!

MyName 2:32 AM  

Why "get lit"? The title is clearly a play on "get literal". If you are going to criticize it then do it for the right reason: lost final "l".

Ken Freeland 2:45 AM  

Two naticks here for me: the worst was GUNN/NEMEA and then there was EVAN/TENT. Educated guesses saved me on both accounts, but I maintain that good crossword puzzles are not solved by coinflips. I agree with Rex's rating of Easy-Medium for those familiar with the authors, but as I was only familiar with Shelley and Shakespeare, it was medium for me.

Coulda' been worse!

Brian A in SLC 3:06 AM  

Gee whiz again. I quite liked this theme, and then came here to see why Rex would trash it. It's just disturbing to find myself so in synch with Rex, twice in a couple days. (I'm only sort of kidding.)

okanaganer 3:15 AM  

[SB update... one last try before midnight PDT; got the 7er for 0 and QB.]

Brian A in SLC 4:50 AM  

@ okanaganer 3:15 Speaking of yd's Spelling Bee, I fully expected "winching" to be accepted. Just one of scores of examples of perfectly mainstream words that aren't in the SB dictionary.

I bring this up wondering if other SB players frequently submit common words to that "Think we missed a word? Email us at" Only to never, ever see those words added to SB dictionary. Am I the only one who finds this annoying? Why doesn't the NYTs just drop this conceit, since they are too busy or lazy or onery to make amendments? We do pay yearly for these games.

Conrad 5:34 AM  

I want to add something to @Rex's plug for Peter Gordon's Petite Pangram Puzzles. Two things, actually: First, that they're easy, fun and a pleasant interlude in your day. Second, that the Kickstarter pledge program ends tonight and there will be no pangrams if the goal isn't reached. As of right now it's short. So if you're thinking about going for it, go for it SOON!

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Pretty easy

Smith 6:04 AM  

@rex, how on earth could you have missed Blueberries for Sal? It was a favorite in not only my own childhood but my kids' as well. It has a wonderfully clever construction. Please check it out.

The puzzle whizzed by. I INHALEd it. Thought the themers were neat.

Colin 6:20 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, which yes, was pretty straightforward. While I have not read many of the authors, they stared at me in my father's den while I was growing up: My parents had purchased the "Great Books" collection.

Some PPP crosses detracted from the puzzle a little, IMO: (48A) DANN/RANA, (94A) LEN/NEMEA, (107A) TWIX/TEX, and others. I got these, but one conceivably may Natick (my dad, for example).

For some reason, I kept hearing (imagining) Olivia Newton-John as I read the puzzle theme, so as opposed to "Let's get lit!", I had "Let's literature, literature! I wanna get literature, literature!" stuck in my head. Weird.

Brian A in SLC 6:29 AM  

P.S. What the HELL(ER) does "Gary Shakespeare" mean?

Son Volt 6:44 AM  

Surprised Rex like this. It does have the literature connection but other than BREAKS THE LAWRENCE - the theme phrases are flat and downright boring. The overall fill is questionable - brand names and trivia. The TV EXEC x TB TESTS cross is brutal. Add THITHER, OWIES and a host of others and this ends up just being WRONGO.

Liked MARSHES right in the center - LOONS and OWLET are cool and STRAW HAT always leads me to this

I’ll take a pass on this one.

JD 6:56 AM  

After Saturday’s complete thrashing, I needed to feel fake smart. Can’t trust the SB since it once told me I was a genius after getting Noob and once accepted Expended but not Unexpended.

Momoa/All Ages slowed me down. My brain kept wanting Narnia for Ancient Home Of A Mythical Lion even though it was clearly wrong. Guess we know what a Cryptid is now. Third time the clue has been used this year to clue Yetis. Cluing NYT, cluing.

It’s E.L. Fudge.

Tried to read Tom Jones a long time ago. Never could get through it but at least the author came in in handy today. Ya never know.

Love this constructor team, loved this puzzle.

Colin 6:58 AM  

Brian A in SLC, 6:29 AM:
Wonder if OFL is involved?

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

Gary? Shakespeare

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

The editor said the authors of the puzzle added syllables to authors’ names. Is that what they did? Jim

Lewis 7:10 AM  

What I like best about this lovely offering is the consistency of the theme clues/answers. To wit:

• All the theme clues and answers begin with third person singular verbs.
• All the theme answers are based on common in-the-language idiomatic phrases, such as “plays the field” and “gives a fair shake”.
• In the theme answers, the authors’ last names are all two syllables (thus, for example, Capote couldn’t be used for “cap”, and Rex's JUMPS FOR JOYCE wouldn't qualify), with the first syllable being an actual word (thus Marquez couldn’t be used for “mark”, or Kesey for “keys”, or Tolkein for “toll”).

I tried coming up with alternate theme answers using authors’ names that fit the bill – Rushdie, Hardy, Steinbeck, Baldwin – but couldn’t come close to the quality of Christina’s and Katie’s theme clues/answers, following the “rules” above (though I did have an interesting one for Dickens!}.

Top quality execution in a kind-to-the-mind Sunday puzzle that perfectly complemented what was for me a tough Saturday grid. This puzzle shined with polish and care. Thank you for your diligence, humor, and talent, you two. I greatly enjoyed this!

Z 7:25 AM  

Literature still falls in the PPP category, so a PPP-based theme is what we have. As PPP-based themes go I think this is better than most, but still a sizable demerit. Yes, I knew all the authors but all that means is that I probably share a demographic with the constructors. I will not be surprised if we see wheelhouse/outhouse type comments today.

Still, I enjoyed the solve. It took me a long time to realize what was going on because the north east was was my first section fully done and I built down the east coast. So I got that it was all authors but GIVES A FAIR SHAKESPEARE was my first completed phrase, the light bulb finally went on, and it got much easier from there.

@Brian in Utah - Bill’s second cousin and the actual author of all those plays.

Oh yeah, E.L.FUDGE, not EL FUDGE. And note that it can be shortened to E.L.F. If I’m thinking of the right cookie it is like an Oreo with an inverted color scheme. I’m more of a Pecan Sandies guy, myself.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Amy: loved this. After writing here yesterday I was hoping for a good Sunday, to round out the weekend (since Friday and Saturday were both so excellent), started fearing I might have jinxed it. Pshew, relieved I didn't.
Very fine letter from Mr. Walker. If the letters continue to hit the standards set by the 1st two, perhaps Rex will publish them in book form.
Finally, chuckling over @Colin's remark about hearing Olivia Newton John singing Let's Get Literature. Ha! (Or lol, if you prefer.)

Kate 7:46 AM  

Like Rex, I will admit to being an English professor (retired), so I enjoyed this theme and puzzle. This week I had learned BTS from @Zed. Helpful!

Z 7:48 AM  

I’m imagining the social media manager checking website stats after the season and wondering what the weird spike in hits on June 5 was all about. Did SHAKESPEARE do musicals? (And, yes, that’s xword famous Opie falling from the tree)

PPP Update
44 of 140 for 31%.
Considering that 6 theme answers are included I think 31% isn’t too bad.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I’m with @Son Volt 6:44 on this one. Seems like two of Rex’s favorite criticisms of themes he doesn’t like — criticisms which I find particularly annoying and unwarranted — could be applied to this puzzle. What’s the point of the theme? And why these authors/phrases when there are so many others?

— Jim C. in Maine

John H 8:12 AM  

An enjoyable and easy puzzle. You get the theme the first time you finish one the themes.

Some dopey editing, though: 31A, "Altar-cation" is just dumb. What's the joke here? Am I missing the wordplay?

chuck w 8:16 AM  

I think 55a is really "takes along Walker": he borrowed the book and took it along. Doesn't have anything to do with length. Although then "a long walk" doesn't quite fit.

Barbara S. 8:30 AM  

1) Is ignorant about Oliver Twist and David Copperfield?
2) Steals the vagrant’s copy of Midnight’s Children?
3) Uses The Executioner’s Song to hide a money order?
4) Ponders the location of Rabbit, Run?
5) Is forced to read Death of a Salesman?

These are the themers I came up with in the middle of the night. Shoulda been sleeping, woulda been sleeping, wish I coulda been sleeping. This theme was right up my alley – goofy *and* literary – I loved it. I got a chuckle out of all the themers. GOES THROUGH HELLER may be my favorite, but I liked the Renaissance Festival angle of GIVES A FAIR SHAKESPEARE. I noted the proximity of THE MOORS and UNEASY to the SHELLEY answer. Very atmospheric. (Oh, and there are also FOG and ALPS to help set the scene.)

I had a DNF, though, at DAMN/RAMA. I had DANN/RANA, which I thought looked fine since I knew neither answer. Yes, there were a lot of names, many of which I didn’t know, but I found crosses to be fair in every other potential trouble spot. I wondered about WRONGO and THITHER. I’ve never heard anyone say WRONGO, but it does come up in “The Urban Dictionary” and “Idioms by The Free Dictionary”. THITHER, I think, has the specific meaning of “to there” or “to that place”. The stickler in me thinks that [O’er yon] is too general a clue.

My abdominal muscles and I can attest to the challenge of the PLANK. (But I’m getting better at it!) There were two rows I particularly liked: SEALE SWORD SERB STY and OOH GUNN THAT’S NARCO. The latter brought to mind Peter GUNN, the cool private eye of long-ago TV. BARB always catches my eye in a grid and it was in good company today with SERB, BOOB and ARAB. (Now there’s a story…)

Fun Sunday!


Laura 8:42 AM  

The title worried me as I don't know, and especially don't remember a lot of great authors names. But these were mostly basi.

Unlike Rex I would have appreciated puns funny enough to make me really groan, but I enjoyed the puzzle nonetheless. Clever theme. Even illiterates can get part of each theme, once we get at least on. Including vAlice Walker was a plus. To me, the iconic black woman author.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

An unusual day when one has to go to Jeff Chen at Xword, rather than Rex, to validate one's feelings about the mediocrity of a puzzle! The themers are all one-dimensional dad jokes where the challenge was to figure out the combination of the boring words in each phrase: Goes all to hell[er]? Goes straight to hell[er]? The fill was ordinary, but a weak theme makes ordinary Sunday fill a slog.

Amy 8:53 AM  

Luckily I’ve learned to avoid Will Shortz’s blurbs until after solving because he literally tried to explain the entire theme in this one ! He did it wrongly - said you add syllables to the authors name when it’s the opposite - but why does he repeatedly feel the need to spoil the puzzle for people ?

kitshef 8:59 AM  

I don't enjoy Sundays very often, but I liked this one. Often a constructor will have a nice idea but run out of really good themers and reach. Today, all the authors are famous and all the base phrases are familiar.

E. L. Fudge = Everybody Loves Fudge, and as been pointed out, starts with Keebler mascot ELF.

@Brian A in SLC et al - Gary Shakespeare is Rex being funny.

kitshef 9:12 AM  

Old Spice commercials make my bottom five worst of the worst, along with Limu Emu, the annoying jingle for Cars4Kids, and the absolute nadir, Mike Lindell whining and trying to play the victim because people object to his attempts to destroy democracy. (One slot reserved for future use.)

bocamp 9:13 AM  

Thx, Christina & Katie; a perfect Sun. romp! :)


A fine example of the theme being useful to the solve.

Top to bottom journey, starting with FUSE, ending with TENT.

Ran into A BIT of resistance in the NE with unknowns being INES, SKYY & PLANK.

Overall, a smooth trip; enjoyed it very much! :)

@Brian A in SLC (4:50 AM)

Hands up for 'winching'. :)
Last Sun., dbyd & yd 0's (final 6ers from all three) / Sed: 18 / Duo: 34

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

Greg in Sanibel 9:15 AM  

@Barbara … a SERB, a BOOB, and ARAB walk into a BARB. I forget the rest of the joke, but the punchline is painful.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

I feel compelled to comment on the letter to the editor. What a considered letter Mr. Walker has written. There is no expression of outrage or presumption of malice. It simply highlights a point of view that the editor did not appear to consider, explains the rationale for that view, and asks that he might include this consideration in the future. Rather than bury this critique, the editor has chosen to highlight it, even though he first impulse was to be defensive. I’ve learned something about this issue, but also how to have an effective dialogue. Thank you Messrs. Walker and Parker.

Gary Jugert 9:16 AM  

FACT: A few weeks back you'll remember WS bought eHarmony subscriptions for his editorial staff. Living in a studio apartment in New York city with three other people of various gender identities and a bathroom down the hall while being paid assistant-puzzle-editor money doesn't give recent Ivy league graduates in English much ability to maintain healthy relationships. This soul crushing way of life led his lonely young staffers to believe the best way to make puzzles would be to fill grids with the same haunting angsty libido-charged anti-pearl-clutching applesauce filling their clever minds. "Imma sneak Cardi B past WS," they Twitched (or whatever children do these days) and they successfully brought the NYTXW -- our daily beacon of hope, the world standard of delightful word play, the icon of cross-generational pedantry -- those lonely NYTXW editors snuck in their tee-hees into grid after grid like unsupervised teenage boys alone with Wi-Fi. To be fair, it's probably not all that difficult to sneak things past a rock star executive editor, as he's busy being famous. So rather than face the backlash of reply-alls from an email saying "stop allowing filth in the fills," he just got them eHarmony subscriptions under the sensible notion a girlfriend or boyfriend or theyfriend would calm everybody's purple pens. And we had a good run for a few glorious weeks when we learned of drag mothers (who knew?!) and that Robyn Weintraub burps (seems unlikely), and steam cars catch on fire when you take them out for a spin (we should've seen it coming). But love can't conquer all, and eHarmony can't fix all editors and their insatiable naughty desires so today we're offered DAMN and BOOB in mirrored locations from skillful editors with plenty of time (and who knows what else) on their hands. Perhaps they're more types after going through Heller. -- sincerely, the research team for the rampant 2020 election fraud(s).

Oh, and the rest of the puzzle was fine.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Me too. I spent a good five minutes hunting around the grid before I found the SKYe/UNEASe error. While I enjoy gin, I only buy vodka for making pastry!

SouthsideJohnny 9:59 AM  

How about a shout out to SAL Mineo ?

I’m guessing the PPP theme made it seem like more of a slog than perhaps the PPP-count would indicate, but the themers are all reasonably well-known, so it is what it is, so to speak.

It really looks like a sore spot when I glance at the grid and see MOMOA - yes, somebody’s name, but sure looks like a typo.

The two side-eyes from be came at THITHER (I’m guessing it’s a word, I wonder how many of us care), and the Vishnu thing crossing a rap album - a double yuk four letter cross-combo, which (thankfully) you don’t see every day.

RooMonster 10:04 AM  

Hey All !
Even unread me found the Themers easily sussable. I have heard of authors, just not well read in them. I'm on a roll with Fri/Sat/Sun puzs this week, 30 minutes Fri, 31 minutes Sat, 32 minutes today. Nice!

Six Themers in a SunPuz seems a bit scant, but does allow the grid to breathe. Liked the long Downs, also. SOME PEOPLE got a chuckle here, as that is a Very mild way to say #$@! you. 😁

EL Fudge cookies ate quite yummy. Chocolate filled shortbread cookies in the shape of Elves. They even had a double filled variety. (Recommended!) And as @kitshef said, it stands for Everyone Loves Fudge. Like LL COOL J. Remember him? Stands for Ladies Love Cool James.

Potential Natick at RA_A/DA_N, if you don't know Rap or Vishnu. I guessed the M as the most probable letter. (Well, of course I say that, it was correct!) LOLed at EELS, LEOI (which I'm surprised @Zed didn't rail at), EWW, and the rest of the -ese/glue that's quite often seen in puzs. Still waiting on OMOO. ETUI is another one., though I think it was in at least one puz this year.


yd -4, should'ves 2
Duo 36, missed 1-4-6-12

Six F's

TJS 10:16 AM  

"Tom Jones"! Man,I loved that movie when it came out. Pretty much totally original in tone at the time. And launched the lengthy career of Albert Finney.
I wonder how to find out who streams it.

A better than average Sunday, IMO. And, based on his previous admissions, I'm willing to bet that OFL has not read at least 3 of the works cited in the theme.

Johnny Mic 10:17 AM  

I loved Jerome's letter, I appreciate that you shared it with us, and I appreciate that you admitted to being about it at first but thought a little more about it and realized that maybe you hadn't been perfect. A good example for the rest of us. Best part of my xwording week.

Teedmn 10:21 AM  

I like this theme a lot though none of the answers gave me a real chuckle, well maybe GOES THROUGH HELLER. The rest of the puzzle was pretty straightforwardly clued, not much word play.

I did love 14D's OPENERS combining wine with breaking and entering. I liked seeing BANISH and THITHER. Shouldn't 3D be SOME PEOPLE's children? :-)

I haven't read most of the literature, only "Something Happened" by Heller and a bunch of Shakespeare, of course. I read "Dracula" and was so underwhelmed that I took a pass on "Frankenstein" even though most of what I've read on the two names "Frankenstein" the superior tome.

Anyone else spend time pondering whether the "lo" in the 46D was a moon of Jupiter rather than short for "low"?

I didn't care for the 8D clue for CEO, too contrived. I see Rex felt similarly. And like Rex, I didn't know "Blueberries for Sal" and had to Google it post-solve. A BIT before my time.

Thanks, Christina and Katie, nice Sunday.

Nice theme entries, @Barbara S.!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@SonVolt. Sounds like you did the puzzle. Too late to take a pass on it.

Nancy 10:28 AM  

Wordplay combined with literary references. What's not to love? And I did love this puzzle.

I got the theme at GOES THROUGH HELLER (I was struggling a bit in the COMES OUT OF ONE'S SHELLEY section for reasons I'll share in a minute). Once I had the theme, I pulled a bit of an @Lewis and tried to guess the themers without crosses. I did this pretty readily -- but it made the puzzle even more fun. The themer clues are so FAIR and so specific that it makes this approach completely possible.

But it's not just the themers. Christina and Katie (what a team!!!) know how to write clues that provoke curiosity. My favorite was "Octopuses can use tools, e.g." What on earth? Was it some sort of MNEMONIC? MNEMONIC doesn't fit. It's a FACT, you say? Who knew? I knew that about crows but not about octopuses.

What would I find "next to a neck pillow in an airport shop"? (I have a chronically stiff, painful and arthritic neck and I might well be found in that shop.) Would I find a nice blankie there? Oh, no, an EYE MASK.

My befunddlement at the precurser to a circuit breaker is completely on me. I was having a Senior Moment and couldn't remember what it was I had to spend $1,500 bleeping dollars to replace about ten years ago with a new circuit breaker system. What was that previous thingie called again? Oh, yes, it was called a FUSE box. I needed half of the NW corner to figure it out.

Once I had the theme, this became pretty easy -- but it was consistently interesting and fun to solve nonetheless. A lovely Sunday by a team whose work I think I've admired before -- if only I could remember what those puzzles were.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

I give Rex a lot of credit for moving past his initial defensiveness to carefully considering what the letterwriter was trying to say and understanding the letterwriter's point. As an Asian person who has spent my life dealing to people "joking" that "All you Chinese people look alike," the Terry Crews comment stuck out to me. Rex is right that his flippancy can bring some lightness to his commentary, but he is also right that his flippancy can come across in an unintended manner. I really appreciate his response today.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@TJS: You can try to see where to stream/watch movies and TV series. For the 1963 version of Tom Jones, it looks like it's on HBOmax, The Criterion Channel or Kanopy. This last service is available through many libraries and allows a certain number of free viewings per month (varies by library).

Grouch 10:44 AM  

Why does @Rex feel a need to rant about the clue for SAL? Just because he doesn't know the book?
Then he arrogantly offers "better" could be clues. JEESH!

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I'm nearly 60 years old and have never seen a fuse box, though I knew what one was through TV shows and movies (blowing a fuse being a somewhat common plot device). The house I grew up in was built in 1951 and always had circuit breakers.

I can only imagine what a younger person, who probably never watched watching anything made in the 20th century, might think.

Joseph Michael 10:55 AM  

Imitation is the the sincerest form of flattery.

* Begins reading “The Fire Next Time” and “Go Tell It in the Mountain”
* Puts “The Seagull” is just the right place
* Happens to find “The Real Thing”


egsforbreakfast 11:00 AM  

UHOH. We’ve got EWW and OOH. OTOH an OWLET with OWIES will SCOWL. I say TGIF, give me a SKYY and VINO on the rocks.

Ask SHELLEY and HELLER for autographs and you’ll get HELL and more. Certainly one MOREL than you’ll get from ELFUDGE.

Tiny nit on 117A. Isn’t a Renaissance Festival virtually always a FAIRe, rather than a FAIR?

Easy puzzle with an enjoyable and well executed theme. Thank you, Christina Iverson and Katie Hale.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 11:13 AM  

@MyName 2:32 AM - From Merriam-Webster online:
In the last ten or so years, lit has transitioned from being applied to the act of intoxicating ("gonna get lit") to the environment of those who are lit ("party's lit"). I might add: "Get lit" nowadays can mean get drunk, get stoned, or just have a good time.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 11:25 AM  

@Zed 7:25 AM - So some people who frequent this blog are just *never* going to accept the idea of a core of knowledge that is deemed central to the identify of a culture? @Joaquin 12:09 AM referred to the literary names in this puzzle as "common knowledge." I agree with him in spirit, but I would, as I have done here before, use Pierre Bourdieu's term, "cultural capital"—because, while it seems "common," that is an illusion: It's not genetic, so to speak; it has to be taught and learned (i.e., it's a matter of nurture, not nature). All of that being said in my usual pedantic and tedious manner, I would add that most people who are knowledge-centric enough to be doing crosswords in the first place probably know most if not all of these references, and I would go so far as to say they "should" know them all—using "should" advisedly, in the sense that it's the spinach they don't yet know they need to eat in order to fuel their own Popeye-power. Make sense? Pedantry and Popeye in a single comment. Nice, if I do say so myself.

TJS 11:33 AM  

Anon, 10:41, Thank you for the tips. I was hoping someone could help me out.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 11:36 AM  

@Anonymous 7:52 AM - Why these authors? Because they are taught in mainstream lit surveys in high school AP it classes and college intro-to-lit classes throughout the Anglophone world, and beyond. They are classics. But before we raise to many cries of "dead white European men," note that Mary Shelley and Alice Walker are in there, alongside some of the deadest, whitest, most European of dead white European men, D.H. Lawrence and the grandaddy of all dead white European male authors, good ole Bill Shakespeare. It a very interesting selection, really. Mary Shelley is a woman, but she's white and European as well as long dead. Joseph Heller is a dead white European man, but sone would deem him not to be of sufficient literary stature to be included in a puzzle like this. Alice Walker is the figure *par excellence* that exemplifies the evolution of the Western literary canon in keeping with critical notions of the 20th century, starting with gender parity, then extending to inclusivity based on race, ethnicity, and other aspects of identity. For me, then, this fun little theme was a quite sly encapsulation of 100 years of evolving notions of literary canonicity. See, I take anything fun and spoil it with pedantry.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 11:39 AM  

@John H 8:12 AM - I suspect you are not missing the wordplay, but just don't find it particularly amusing. There is an exchange of vows (I do) at the altar (with an "a"), and we commonly say that people "exchanged words" during an "altercation" (=argument, with an "e"). That's the joke here. Yes, I cringed a bit, too. But, yeah, sure, why not? Give the gals a break.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 11:42 AM  

@chuck w 8:16 AM - I had that problem with some of the themers, too. But then I got it straight that the theme phrase (e.g. "Took a long walk") has nothing to do with the clue—It's just a common phrase. But if you add the magic syllable to the common phrase, it becomes a statement about an particular author, and it no longer bears any superficial relation to the common phrase. Make sense? If not, I'm probably explaining it badly.

thefogman 11:44 AM  

I’m sensing there is some growing UNEASe over the SKYY-SKYe trap.
Good puzzle. One of the best Sundays this year. The gimmick is rewarding enough for me to forgive LEOI, SOBE, STD, RAMA etc. That crossing for RAMA-DAMN was a also bit of a trap with equally plauusibles RArA-DArN or RAwA-DAwN. PS - What happened to Rex the grouch and who is this cheerful chap who is sitting in for him lately? LOL!

Christina Iverson 11:45 AM  

We may have came up with the same Dickens entry and thought better of it ;)

Margaret 11:47 AM  

I am so sorry that Rex missed "Blueberries for Sal." It is one of Robert McCloskey's best books. The illustrations are wonderful. I particularly like the inside liners, which show the kitchen Sal's mother is going to make blueberry jam in -- great for showing the very young what kitchens looked like back when my grandmother was cooking. They look, and then ask questions like, "where's the dishwasher?"

On a topic raised by Brian A in SCC (? can't read my handwriting) -- I too have problems with words that the Spelling Bee will not accept, and agree that it might be best to just say "we have a list of so many words, and that's that." I certainly have a hard time figuring out why it rejects a word. Sometime ago I entered "chink"-- note the lower case letters -- and it was rejected. So I searched the ODE. Pages of "chink" a fine old English word. One exception, "Chink" with a capital 'C,' which is defined as a term for a Chinaman -- obvioulsy derogative. But should we allow the possible derogative uses of a word to deny us the word in puzzles and other word games.?

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Truer words have never been spoken. Bravo to all.

johnk 11:53 AM  

According to Rex, TTYL is a fair cross for the unknown TEX. Apparently, it stands for This Time You Lose.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

This interpretation would not follow the theme, as the full word being played upon is captured in the longer, wackier phrase. LIT is in Literature, whereas LITERAL is not.

puzzlehoarder 12:04 PM  

A very enjoyable Sunday. This started easy in the NW and slowed down as I worked my way west and south. I was slow picking up on how the themes ended with the author's names and the fill became more difficult at the same time.

There were the usual slow downs. A couple of them were whack a vowel write overs like SOBA/SOBE and NIMEA/NEMEA.

To finish I had to change SKYE to SKYY and fill in the M for DAMN and RAMA. That last one is the kind of fairly common crosswordese that just doesn't want to stick. My preferred clue for it is that sci-fi book I've never read.

yd pg -1

PC 12:18 PM  

I don’t think the intro blurb should have given us so much info…….it made the puzzle easier. We could have figured out the theme on our own. It would have been more fun.

Hartley70 12:24 PM  

This was a wonderful Sunday puzzle! The cluing was sharp. The author theme pleased me to the very end and right away the octopus clue reminded me of my favorite documentary in recent years, “My Octopus Teacher”. @Nancy, if you haven’t seen it, you must. It’s a delight! Of course I know what a FUSE box is and I could see that little FUSE clearly in my mind’s eye, but I’ll be DAMNed if I could think of that word for the longest while. Circuit breakers are a great improvement when you’re looking to get the power back quickly. How happily one forgets the FUSE when out of sight, out of mind.

Cassie 12:25 PM  

Before there were circuit breaker panels there were fuse boxes (with panels of fuses). When the electricity went out you replaced the dead fuse with a new one instead of flipping the circuit breaker.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Perhaps it isn’t “takes a long” but “takes along” as In takes with one; thus, “takes Walker along” from the library. Just a thought.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

How is a narco the target of the DEA? A narco is the DEA!

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Loved your comment. Blueberries for Sal is an absolutely delightful book. My husband's favorite from childhood... and the first one he bought for our son.

OffTheGrid 1:02 PM  

There was an intro blurb?

Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

har. Nice mess of extra themers, Barbara S. darlin.
First ones M&A has thought of weren't all that impressive:

Clever, at least somewhat humorous theme. Good to have, in a big ol SunPuz.

fave debut words: WRONGO. ELFUDGE. El neato.
other sparklers that caught M&A's eyemask: SOMEPEOPLE. TVEXEC. HARDLYEVER.

staff weeject picks: EWW & OOH. Cousins of SKYY and TTYL.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Iverson & Hale darlins. Great job.

Masked & Anonym007Us

illustrated, so better to use @r.alph's Down Home thingy:

RooMonster 1:29 PM  

Y'know, cars still have fuse boxes.

And I also didn't see/notice a blurb online today.

RooMonster Quick Observations Guy

fiddleneck 1:53 PM  

My copy of Tom Jones has a very plain cover.

OC 1:56 PM  


Yes. It was in the magazine version.

Z 2:15 PM  

@MiBS - the idea of a core of knowledge that is deemed central to the identify of a culture - I'm pretty sure the only core of knowledge central to our culture is WAP. I will guarantee you that more Americans know the lyrics to that song then know who Henry Fielding or King Lear are. Amongst college educated elites under 30 its probably the same.

MetroGnome 2:20 PM  

Okay, I started out wheelhouse-privileged on this one -- as soon as I figured out the gimmick, I cruised through the theme answers, & all that was left was the fill. BUT: The rest of the puzzle was so full of names, brand names, and obscure abbreviations (INES?! BTS?! TTYL?! Some guy named TEX?! GUNN [Okay, I figured that one out from NEMEA, but still]?! EL FUDGE?! TWIX?! "1->99"?!) that I ended up NATICK-ing more then I filled in. At the very least, if a puzzle's main theme is based on names, then the fill should be as PPP-free as possible. Ruined what would otherwise have been a breezy, enjoyable solve.

okanaganer 2:30 PM  

@Brian A in SLC, and @Margaret: yes I was surprised "winching" was not accepted, but this is very common. I totally agree the SB "acceptable words" dictionary is absurd and arbitrary. I've run into several words like "lignin" and "defence" that are not accepted, but according to Google ngram are used 1000 to 10,000 times as often as words like "callaloo" and "giftee" that are accepted.

I too have submitted words to the buzzwords email, with supporting arguments, but I received no responses and the words were not added. So I've quit worrying about it; I still enjoy SB.

jazzmanchgo 2:45 PM  

* Continues to read more books after finishing "Rabbit Run": FOLLOWS UPDIKE

* Pilfers a copy of "The Odyssey": STEALS HOMER

* Can't stop reading "Sula," "The Bluest Eye," "Song of Solomon," et al.:

* Carries a copy of "The Naked and the Dead" to a friend's house: DELIVERS

* Lifts up a copy of "The Grapes of Wrath": HOISTS THE STEINBECK

Anoa Bob 3:01 PM  

"Don't blow a FUSE!" used to be a snarky way to tell someone to calm down and not get overly excited. "Don't trip a circuit breaker!" just doesn't have the same snarky catchiness.

While I'm here let this former electronic maintenance tech strongly suggest that before you reset a circuit breaker or replace a blown fuse, you should find out why it happened in the first place and then remedy that.

When I saw the "Tom Jones" clue, I was thinking the singer, not the novel. D'oh!

With the S already in place, the clue for 60A ""1960s activist Bobby" had me thinking Bobby SANDS, the Irish Republican Army member who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in Northern Ireland. Oops, that was in 1981 so WRONGO decade.

I'm surprised that some of yous are unfamiliar with 95d THITHER. Here, let Brook Benton enlighten yous in Hither and Tither and Yon.

MyName 3:17 PM  

@Mike in Bed-Stuy I have nothing against the word lit, I just think it has nothing to do with the theme and therefore is not what the wordplay here was intended to be.

@Anonymous @11:57 AM We just make different conclusions from the same facts. I will stick to mine for now.

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

I too would like to add my thanks to Mr. Walker, Rex and to @anon for your thoughtful words. It is evident to me that all involved took a moment and truly 'got' what was intended. Maybe put ego aside and just listened.

We are all just walking each other home.
Ram Dass

SharonAK 3:28 PM  

good puzzle. I found the theme answers pleasantly amusing. did not feel they lacked humor.
Liked "altar-cation. and Wheely good...

Agree with Anonymous 12:46 re 78A that I thought narcos were The DEA, not the target, But maybe there's a difference between Narcs(DEA agents) and Narcos (drug dealers)??

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

The blurb didn't just give a lot of information it gave away the theme of the puzzle! Aren't you supposed to figure out the theme as you do the puzzle?

Z 3:57 PM  

Never Read The Blurb Before Doing The Puzzle
I estimate something like 10-25% of the blurbs have spoilers. Today's spoiler was especially egregious, but not unusual.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

This one had a boob and an IUD! For the next themed one CNN like this: GETINTHELECARRE

Barbara S. 4:02 PM  

One of my favorite things on this blog is seeing a bunch of us get motivated to invent new themers. @Joseph Michael, @M&A, @jazzmanchgo, bravo, all. Oh, and...

Fixes a decal to the cover of "Wolf Hall"?


sixtyni yogini 4:14 PM  

Thank you, Jerome Walker.
Now THAT is how you make a point with a good argument. (Trolls and ad hominem peeps take note πŸ€—).
πŸ‘πŸ½ these letters to editors, πŸ¦–.

πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ’«πŸ—‘πŸ—‘ πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ’‘πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ’₯πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸ—‘πŸŽ―πŸ—‘πŸ—‘
Here’s a clue and answer to my Sunday crossword experiences lately:


πŸ—‘No reinforcement today.πŸ—‘
And not feeling πŸ¦–’s πŸ‘πŸ½❤️πŸ‘πŸ½For this 🧩.
Yeah, got the author thing but it all felt strained and so-whaty.
Easy, yes.
But sorry meh just meh for me. 🀷‍♀️


Anonymous 4:25 PM  

All his real friends knew him as Gary.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

Gary Shakespeare Company is a 501c3 Not-for-profit organization established in 2013. We are dedicated to bringing actors and audiences of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds together in the enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare and in the shared experience of live performance. (Gary,Indiana)

JMS 5:31 PM  


pabloinnh 5:38 PM  

Late to the party, camp stuff again. Have decided I'm too old to be demossing roofs, especially by scraping.

I'm also old enough to wonder how people can live in a place with electricity and be unfamiliar with a fuse box. There were at least four in our four bedroom cape, which was built in 1784, but that's including the big back kitchen, which was summer only. Boy did I replace lots of fuses. Pro tip, use the same amp fuse that blew, or you're asking for trouble.

"Blueberries for Sal: is a fine book but around here it's "Clam Chowder for Lunch" and especially "Make Way for Ducklings". Every time I read one of these to my granddaughter i think, "wish I could draw like that.".

Easy breezy Sunday, caught the theme right off, knew the authors, finished in good time, even though my roof job intervened.

Very pleasant work, CI and KH. Can I Keep Hoping for another one like this? Say yes please, and thanks for all the fun.

thefogman 5:44 PM  

Here’s one:

Condenses The Old Man and the Sea…


Leon 6:10 PM  

The NYT book review has a write-up on The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs.
The reviewer, Judith Newman, has the following in her piece:

And of course there is Will Shortz himself, the NPR/New York Times editor who is to puzzles what Kim Kardashian is to buttocks: There is none finer, or more discussed among aficionados. On the walls of Shortz’s living room hangs a personal letter to him from Bill Clinton: “Even when I can’t finish them, they’re the only part of The New York Times that guarantees a good feeling.”

Anonymous 9:24 PM  

I'm surprised (actually, very disappointed) that not a single comment mentions Alice Walker's notorious and overt anti-semitism, as it has been well addressed in dozens of mainstream outlets, from The Atlantic, The New York Times itself, The New Yorker, and fairly well noted even in her Wikipedia page. Rex himself and the commenters on this blog have gone to incredible lengths discussing and debating the merits of the various characters cited in puzzles, expressing outrage at the inclusion of some, or the exclusion of others. At the very least it's worth asking ourselves ("us" being the committed crowd of commenters here, seemingly a crowd genuinely committed to this interesting line of discussion) how not a *single* comment mentions this. Not one. It can't be that we all missed these many (many) mainstream discussions; it might be that for some reason this particular offense just isn't that offensive to lots of us. At least take note of it, ask yourself if that's so, and why. She's not just a little bit anti-semitic, or arguably misunderstood. She's "jews are lizard people", unapologetically, explicitly prolific about it.

From The Atlantic, just to pick an example of one discussion of the subject:

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

This is maddening and happens frequently. I can’t imagine what his motivation might be: Ego (“I know something you don’t know”)? Contempt for his audience (“They can’t possibly solve this puzzle without a major hint”)? In this case, the spoiler removes the puzzle’s only significant opportunity for solving satisfaction — figuring out the pattern of the theme answers. Having read the blurb, I went straight to 23A, write in SHELLEY at the end, determined that it worked with the crosses, then filled in all the other authors likewise. Not much fun left after that. I’d be pissed if I were the constructors.

CDilly52 12:09 AM  

It’s almost Monday and I just found tome to do my crossword. Easy but oh so enjoyable! This was one of the classiest Sunday themes in forever, and showcases our constructors’ artistic and linguistic elegance. Just a delight. GIVES A FAIR SHAKESPEARE- my favorite!

Brian A in SLC 1:17 AM  

@kitshef 8:59 am - Yea, I think you're right. Rex attempting to be droll. If Rex shrieked less about clues & answers that grate on his very personal, tender (pc) sensibilities, and tried more often to land a joke, I probably would have seen this.

@TJS 10:16 am - I would have been 9-years-old when I saw "Tom Jones" in the theater. Even at that age it thoroughly amused me, lodged in my psyche to this day - somehow introduced me to excess, ribaldry and lust.

@Margaret 11:47 am - I'm with you. A couple days ago the SB wouldn't accept "nappy." Thankfully the NYTs has appointed itself the ultimate social arbitrator of all evolution of human language. We are safe.

@okanaganer 2:30 pm - The SB dictionary seems to include all manner of obscure foods. But pick another category, say animals. "Caracal" for example isn't really esoteric, but it ain't gonna fly here. It's all SO arbitrary. I think a limited group of individuals had an outsized hand at the start, and we're stuck forever in their random wheelhouses.

Also loved the extra themers, @Barbara S., @Joseph Michael, @jazzmanchgo, @M&A, all y'all.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Thanks for the reminder about the cookies - classics. Also, I CANNOT believe Rex doesn’t know Robert McCloskey’s Cladecott Award winning children’s literature!

Dr.A 8:55 AM  

Thanks for posting the letter. It’s beautifully worded and the writer was kind to let you know he was offended rather than just dissociating from the blog. I felt the same way and I’m not Black. I don’t feel your apology was sincere. It was sort of one of those “sorry you were upset” apologies/non apologies. We can all do better.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

The vodka brand is spelled "Skyy," making the across "uneasy."

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Fun solve! Regarding the Keebler cookie- I initially was also thinking Spanish origin- El Fudge- which made little to no sense. Then recalled the Keebler mascot- the ELF. So ELFudge made a bit more sense then!

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

As well as Sal Minor and Sal DiMaggio ......

ghostoflectricity 9:32 PM  

The magazine sat on my to-do list all week, and finally finished the Sunday puzzle on Friday evening. I thought the theme- adding a syllable to common phrases using author's names to form a "funny" new phrase- was hackneyed and stale. My solving experience was meh.

Only one other commenter mentioned Alice Walker's well-documented and unrepentant anti-Semitism (she has been given many opportunities in the mainstream media to back away from her statements0. Apparently this is a non-issue for Rex and for most of the commenters. It isn't for me, and points out again Rex's double standard (to put it mildly) when it comes to things to which he takes offense vs. things he lets slide (or doesn't mind at all) in the NYT crossword puzzle.

Rex, your secure white non-Jewish male "wokeness"/"progressivism" is unassailable. And totally shallow, performative, phony, and hypocritical.

Burma Shave 2:15 PM  




rondo 4:04 PM  

This puz took a while, not knowing all of the authors.
Wordle OTOH:

Diana, LIW 4:20 PM  

Ha! Now here are names that I DID know. English Major comes in handy again.

It took me a while, but all puzzles take me a while. That's because I ENJOY them instead of gobbling them down.

Gotta run, though. Enjoy your day!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 8:00 PM  

What, no love for SAL Hepatica? You guys are too young.

Nice, easy Sunday jog through the stacks. Clever sans the groan. I presume the "iconic" STRAWHAT image is of our hero Dr. Lecter, as he says he "must go, I'm having a friend for dinner." Mildly surprised that OFF didn't even fuss about the "ONE'S" in the first themer. Some cool fill, too, earning this one a birdie.

Me too:


Congrats to Matt Fitzpatrick, Open winner. Happy Dad's Day indeed.

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