Autotumulophiles / SUN 11-20-22 / Shelves for knickknacks / Word repeated in a classic Energizer slogan / Old The beer of quality beer sloganeer in brief

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Constructor: Joe Deeney

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Fan Club" — familiar phrases are reimagined as verb phrases done by "___-philes" (i.e. by lovers or "fans" of ... whatever some made-up word with semi-familiar Greek roots indicates):

Theme answers:
  • LOVE TRIANGLES (21A: "Geometrophiles...")
  • PRIZE DRAWING (31A: "Imagophiles...")
  • FANCY RESTAURANTS (46A: "Gastrophiles...")
  • GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT (63A: "Dextropodophiles...")
  • DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE (79A: "Autotumulophiles...")
  • GO FOR THE GOLD (94A: "Aurophiles...")
  • LIKE CLOCKWORK (109A: "Chronomechanophiles...")
Word of the Day: WHATNOTS (82D: Shelves for knickknacks) —
what-not is a piece of furniture derived from the French étagère, which was exceedingly popular in England in the first three-quarters of the 19th century. It usually consists of slender uprights or pillars, supporting a series of shelves for holding china, ornaments, trifles, or "what nots", hence the allusive name. In its English form, it is a convenient piece of drawing room furniture, and was rarely valued for its aesthetic. (wikipedia)
• • •

I guess the theme is consistent enough, but it just doesn't come off as very entertaining. I guess the star attraction is supposed to be those preposterous Greek-rooted words in the clues, the ones indicating which kind of "lovers" or "fans" we were dealing with. In that sense, the puzzle ended up feeling like a vocabulary test: "Do you know your Greek word roots?!" Imagined -philes somehow didn't really light my fire. The wordplay is interesting, in that all the first words in the familiar phrases are reimagined as very verbs or verb phrases meaning, roughly, "enjoy" or "are a fan of" (LOVE, PRIZE, FANCY, etc.). I liked the top half much better in this regard, since there seemed to be a consistency there, a specific shift of the meaning of the first words from adjectives to verbs. But once you get to the middle that consistency goes away and you get a series of phrases that are verb phrases by nature—the clues just change the meaning of the verbs. I liked it better when the reimagining involved a change both in meaning and in part of speech. But like I say, at a general level, the gimmick is consistent enough. The made-up clue word angle did nothing for me, but some of the reimagined phrases are at least a little funny, esp. GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT. Foot fetishry in the marquee position of the Sunday NYTXW! Bold. The rest of the puzzle: not nearly so bold. Wait, those clue words are made up, right? I thought "Gastrophile" was a real thing ... [looks it up] ... it is! "One who loves good food." But "autotumulophile"!? That can't be real! ... [looks it up] ... nope, it absolutely is not. Search that word and you get crossword sites (sites referring specifically to this crossword). Hmm, that's another ding against this thing. Ding for "gastrophile"—make up all the "-phile" words or don't bother with the gimmick.

The longer answers in this puzzle often felt wasted, in the sense that ITALIAN HERO just felt ... redundant. It's a HERO. That's enough. ITALIAN HERO is ... meh. And as for TSETSE FLIES and JAI ALAI, that's just extended crosswordese. Crosswordese: The Unexpurgated Version. Too much real estate to give to overfamiliar stuff. ARMY LIFE feels original, and I like "DEAR JOHN" pretty well too (esp. the clue: 79D: Announcement of a split decision?).  But THE NILE!? THE NILE!? Oof. More extended crosswordese, and a painful definite article insertion to boot. THETHAMES, THERHONE, THESEINE, THEMISSISSIPPI ... you see how dumb this is, right? Don't give NILE a pass just because it's short and (from a crossword perspective) hyperfamiliar. 

Puzzle was very easy except for WATSON (74A: To whom it is said "You have a grand gift for silence .... It makes you quite invaluable as a companion"). Needed every cross to figure out who the hell that quotation was supposed to be about, particularly because of the awkward "To whom it is said" construction. I get it now, you didn't want to tell me that Sherlock was doing the saying, but oof, that passive voice is Painful. "UGLIES" is apparently some YA "trilogy" stuff my daughter somehow missed (the "YA fantasy trilogy"-type book was all my daughter seemed to read for like 7 years or so). The "UGLIES" was supposed to be the first book in a trilogy, but then it got up to four installments and I think there are more coming, I dunno, I don't really wanna go back and read the wikipedia page that thoroughly. Anyway, that was one of the only things in the puzzle I didn't know. That and WHATNOTS, what the *&$%?! (82D: Shelves for knickknacks)  Me: "Do they mean ETAGÈRES, and if so, why won't that fit!?" I know WHATNOTS only as ... well, "knickknacks." And apparently that is how WHATNOTS (the furniture) got their name—because they were designed to display your assorted ... WHATNOTS? Bizarre. So ... WATSON / WHATNOTS gave me some grief in the SE, but otherwise, the puzzle was exceedingly straightforward. A bit flat. It looks and feels like a perfectly ordinary Sunday puzzle. Cute but innocuous wordplay at its thematic core, solid if unremarkable fill throughout. I could use something more ambitious or daring on Sundays. They're just too big to sustain a just-OK premise. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joe Dipinto 12:14 AM  

Aww, you poor thing.

Best Sunday puzzle in ages. Probably the best NYTimes puzzle of the whole year.

Ken Freeland 12:19 AM  

In my book, this was a five star Sunday NY T crossword. Checked all the boxes: no naticks, low PPP quotient, original and entertaining theme, "solid fill." Nothing here not to like. Best puzzle in a month of Sundays IMHO.

Joe Dipinto 12:33 AM  

But once you get to the get a series of phrases that are verb phrases by nature– the clues just change the meaning of the verb.

"Like clockwork" is a prepositional phrase by nature.

Loren Muse Smith 12:38 AM  

Yeah – fairly easy for a Sunday, but I’m not complaining. I agree that GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT is as funny as it is racy. Rex – I was like, who knew there was a word for loving your own grave? Like you, I googled “autotumulophile” and the only hits had to do with today’s puzzle. I picture some ghost hanging around the cemetery admiring his plot.

In the spirit of the theme, I’m struck with a question: if given a chance to watch the show, would ESTEE laud ER?

SNAP TO reminded me of this clip, pretty much me at some ridiculous school training about how to fill out a Data Driven Instruction form. The grand finale SNAP TO is at the very end.

SEWN and SEWER share the grid. I guess you could argue that Betsy Ross is our most famous SEWER.

I liked the clue for WOW. I have a co-teacher who visits my class for about 20 minutes each day in compliance with special education laws. His entry never varies – he walks in, says hello to the kids and is summarily ignored. (It’s not him; all teachers are basically treated like potted plants.) But even after almost a whole semester, he expresses sarcastic surprise and says, Oh really? Ok. WOW. Then he sits in a snit born of the reality that classroom teaching has become a descent into hell. I wanna take his shoulders and shake him. Yes. Things have changed. But Could. You. Please. Help. Me? He has put in his notice and will be leaving soon. Since August, seven other teachers have resigned. And ours is a very small school. I just listed and counted - we started the year with 16 filled teaching filled positions at my school, and as of next week, we’ll have 8 vacancies. And two others have their foot halfway out the door. If I weren’t so old, I’d be leaving, too. I love the kids, but, as they say, sh** (extra work created by vacancies) rolls downhill, right into the teachers’ lap. It’s messing with my head, integrity, that I’m unable to do what I’m being tasked to do. I think I’d make a swell receptionist somewhere. . .

That’s great about Lyft and Uber partnering with MADD. But I tell you – the last time I flew home, my pre-arranged ride home fell through, and I had to figure it out. Turns out a taxi was cheaper than an Uber.

Joe – thanks for the fun! Too bad there’s no -phile word for a lover of waiting tables who tends to worship service and relish trays.

okanaganer 12:55 AM  

Yeah, this was pretty good. #1, 2, 3, and 7 of the themers use familiar "word modifies noun (subject)" phrases and turn them into wacky "verb modifies noun (object)", which I like. It would have been great if they all did that. But #4, 5, 6: "GET OFF", "DIG THEIR", and "GO FOR" do something different. But still good.

Typeover: for 112 across "Feel like [grrr]", I had SEE RED before SEETHE. Thanks, good old crosswordese GTO for fixing that.

@Loren, methinks you need a change. But if venting here, in your entertaining fashion, helps at all, please continue!

[Spelling Bee: Fri 0, Sat currently pg-1 missing a 5er. What oh what can it be?]

egsforbreakfast 1:19 AM  

Shouldn’t PBR become a proud sponsor of PBS?

Gotta call attention to the contiguous dupe at 112A. SEE THE and 113A SEE TO IT. It’s so egregious that it’s left me SEE THing.


I suppose that the World’s Greatest Mop Squeezer would be Lord of the Wrings.

If you were real inattentive while reading 101A (Game with cestas and a pelota), you might have read “game” as “place”. Then you might have thought, “Wunderbar” when fronton fit perfectly. Subsequently, you might have wondered who would write a DEARfOHN letter. Subsequently, you might have realized that this was not a good NUGGET FROM your NOGGIN.

This puzzle was an absolute delight to solve. Rex points out that the themers don’t follow exactly the same adjective to verb phrase shift that the first three do. This is true, but who cares? It’s also true that Danielle Steel follows a formula faithfully, while Thomas Pynchon doesn’t. Guess who I enjoy more. Anyway, thanks, Joe Deeney for a very fun Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:20 AM  

I also found it a lot of fun. The made up words were just difficult enough to parse out, but with actual roots providing the needed hints—clever! Tight, consistent theme. Good fill without a lot of forced bits. What’s the problem? But Rex must complain, even if he has to change the rules every time (just see his own most recent LAT for about six cardinal sins broken—but now my comment probably won’t get posted since he apparently stopped approving those that took digs at his work…).

Also not sure how the WATSON answer didn’t go right in…I’ve never even read Sherlock Holmes, but when I suspected 67d was HEWN, it just wrote itself in. I guess we all solve the puzzle with different patterns of thinking.

NYDenizen 1:35 AM  

The hoops through which constructors these days are being forced to jump in order to come up with something ‘fresh’ have, IMO, resulted in complex, convoluted and, in the end, unsatisfying puzzles such as this. And, of course, the low 133 word-count doesn’t make the fill any easier. (See Jeff Chen’s extended XWord Info series of comments on the Sunday puzzles of Randolph Ross on the technical problems created by low word-counts in these large-format puzzles.

Eniale 1:40 AM  

Woo-hoo! It's still Saturday evening out here and I don't puz till Sunday. But I got two SB -0 in one week, cause for celebration.

We just started taking streaming a bit more seriously and I'm recommending Mozart in the Jungle for the other classical fans who may not have discovered it.....

jae 2:00 AM  

Easy. Cute, clever, and amusing, liked it a bunch. Jeff gave it POW.

Harry 2:09 AM  

A "meh" experience that, with some judicious editing, could be a lot more satisfying. There's some raw brilliance showing through.

Don't know enough about Joe Deeney's work to say whether this represents an off day, or the budding effort of someone who will produce awesome grids some day.

Gary Jugert 2:19 AM  

So in the future, I would recommend if they're going to make up random nonsense words to clog up the solving experience, maybe they could just put three dashes instead. I found the comedy here rather dense and I'm usually a pushover for cutesy. And you've gotta get crosses to find a solution anyway since the words are pure jibberish.

On the other hand, the fill was either quite easy or super hard, and all was worth the effort. Enjoyable in most every way.


1 That weird section of classified ads they used to have in the back of the paper and is now probably online somewhere.
2 The bag of junk you won in the silent auction.
3 McDonald's, but mostly not.
4 Dress like it's 1950.


Anonymous 6:22 AM  

I grew up reading the Little House books, so WHATNOTS was a gimme (in a memorable and very detailed early scene, Pa painstakingly carves one for Ma, and it moves with the family from book to book).

I wrote SNOUT for SNOOT until I realized a COU is not a thing. Still confused on SNOOT though.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

The super-easy weekend continues. I do like the theme, and while there are some issues with initialism overload in the fill (P.B.R., M.A.D.D., T.N.T., C.P.U., E.S.L., P.D.F.S, G.T.O., S.O.S., C.O.O., I.D.S, S.T.P., R.R.S), you don't tend to notice as much when the puzzle is easy. A good lesson for constructors - if you need some bad fill as glue, don't draw attention to it with elaborate cluing.

mmorgan 7:25 AM  

I did like the themers — very cute — but I’m feeling like this is Let’s Run Super Easy Puzzles for New Solvers Month or something. And that’s fine. And maybe that snarky comment will come back and bite me on the butt soon. I hope so!

Lewis 7:32 AM  

Oh, man, I loved this.

There was the theme, which was plain to see after uncovering the first theme answer – that the theme answers started with a synonym for “adore”, ended with what was adored, and made a common phrase. This made every theme answer a riddle to be cracked, either outright from the clue, or with as few crosses as possible. I love cracking riddles, figuring things out, so this hit my sweet spot.

Then there was the silliness in those theme answer clues that weren’t real words, the kind of silliness that happy-floods me.

On top of that, there was GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT, with its double meaning of “get off on” and added double meaning of “right foot”. My brain gets such a kick out of double meanings, and when this answer uncovered, I inwardly applauded and bowed down.

Then there were little bonuses, like the crosses of SPAT/FOOT and SACK/RACE, plus the PuzzPair© of YES and GESSO.

JD, you are inventive and entertaining. I still remember your Thursday PIECES OF EIGHT rebus, in which “8” went into the rebus squares, and stood for the “ate” sound in the acrosses and the “oo” sound in the downs. Today, your clever creation had me awash in bliss. Bravo, sir! Thank you for one of my favorite Sundays of the year.

Natasha 7:34 AM  

Thought COO crossing SNOOTS was unfair when SNOUTS would've been a much better answer. I don't even think I've heard of SNOOTS as a word for noses. (I'm assuming there's not another meaning of "schnozzes" that I'm unfamiliar with.)

Son Volt 7:36 AM  

I don’t know - seems like all of these big Sunday-sized grids recently have Incorporated sounds like trick or in this case synonymous word play. Unless the game results in wackiness they usually fall flat for me. This was densely themed - but by the third one I was done and completed the rest mainly with crosses. Most of the non-theme material was nice which made for a decent overall experience.

Rex - go into a deli and order just a HERO and you’ll get SNEERS. Accidentally like a MARTYR . Liked PRIZED DRAWING best. Second Sunny in Philadelphia clue this week - I’ve never seen the show - thankfully knew that old crossword honey GESSO.

Wanted SNOuTS first - kind of cool crossing with WHAT NOTS. DEAR JOHN. STRAGGLE is neat to see as is the SLEAZY x ELATION cross. All in all this was well filled.


Indifferent on the theme - but an enjoyable solve nonetheless.

bocamp 7:48 AM  

Thx, Joe; definitely in your 'Fan Club' today! :)


One of the smoothest Sundays I can recall. A fluid top-to-bottom solve; HORSY to EERIE.

Pretty much on Joe's wavelength ALL the way, with the exception of having SNOutS, not recalling WHATNOTS, and being a bit hazy on ANN / LINC.

Fun theme; liked this one a lot! :)

Easy Sat. Stumper yd (under 50 mins.); a semi-educated guess at the 'singer' / 'oath' cross.

On to the Acrostic.

@Eniale (1:40 AM)

You rock! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Phillyrad1999 7:51 AM  

This was pretty meh for a Sunday. Enjoyed the idea of the theme but most of the puzzle was sorta blah. My highlights were those answers that conger up memories of doing puzzles with my dad like GENA and OTT and those that harkened back to when my kids were little like DORA and the Ninja Turtle clues. We dont eat HEROs in Philly and so that was also annoying. In the end, just meh.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

Easy Sunday and a good thing as I'm in a hurry to get off to choir and sing my little solo.

I liked the themers and most of the rest was a read the clue and fill in the blanks exercise. Knew Watson from listening to old Sherlock of Sirius XM, and around here the term WHATNOT is pretty common for that kind of a shelf.

I was delighted to see WRING with its W. Seems like I keep seeing examples of someone being "put through the ringer", which always makes me wonder what folks think a "ringer" might be.

I liked your Sunday a lot, JD. Just Dandy, and thanks for all the fun.

@Stumplers-Thought yesterday's was tip top. Just tough enough.

pmdm 8:01 AM  

If I were to rate this puzzle, I would rave about it. I would fully agree with Jeff that it rates a POW. I always liked the idea of coining words (as opposed to shrinking words to dreck like R U and the like). So a big thumbs up from me.

And I've known for some time that my sense of humor and Sharp's are quite different. As is his from Jeff's. And thankfully, as is his from many who already commented. I'd go on but that would amount to beating a dead horse. Now the word for that is ...

And I guess I wouold say that of the Jeopardy! contestants, I would root for Sam. He certainly seems relaxed and is not afraid to have fun.

But I rue that Ken will leave the show come the new year. Disregarding one's sex, I think he is a much better host. Especially during the interview segment. Apparently, others do not agree. But now I'm getting off track. Reading the previous day's comments can do that.

S. Blatter 8:05 AM  

Great puzzle. Enjoyed it a lot.

But what is with the string of super easy puzzles lately? I not only never had to sweat, but hardly ever had to pause for for than an n-sec. And the themers fell into place after just a few crosses. The solve took under two-thirds of the time for my normal Sunday. I'd like to claim that it is because of my newly acquired brilliance, but, alas, that is not the case.

Wanderlust 8:26 AM  

I tried to think of other possible themers and didn’t come up with many. @LMS noted one of them - “worship service,” but it’s a little blah. How about “flip over the page” clued as bibliophile? It doesn’t fit Rex’s preference that the clues all be not-real words but that didn’t bother me with gastrophile.

I agree that GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT is a winner. I am imagining proffering my left one to a foot fetishist and having him recoil in horror. “No, I am strictly into right feet.”

DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE gave me so much trouble because I could only see THE not THEIR. The last word for me to fill in to get happy music was HEWN, but I was convinced it was wrong. “What is ‘the irown grave?” I checked all the crosses, which were impeccable (though I had the same problem as Rex with WHAT NOTS). So I put in the N of HEWN, figuring I would then look for my error. And, voila, happy music. Took one second to see my idiocy.

I liked it a lot. SLOTH could have been clued as both a symbol AND a synonym for laziness. If I am guilty of a deadly sin, it’s probably that one. Oh sure, I have my gluttonous and my lustful moments, and I’m not unfamiliar with envy, anger and pride. If greed were the only sin, I would flutter into heaven with a friendly wave from St. Peter as the rest of you queue up below me. But SLOTH - if I gave in to my nature, I could spend an entire weekend on the couch. Luckily, I have a dog.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

SOS? Naw...dit dit dit , dah dah dah, dit dit dit.

Trina 8:54 AM  

Enjoyed it. Solving on the App and no happy sound - must have a minor typo somewhere and o just can’t find it!

TJS 8:55 AM  

One of the better Sundays we have had in a long time. Wow, a crossword puzzle primarily made up of actual words ! No internet abbreviations or emogi crap. Nice.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I thought this was fun and very fast, but like Rex I wish the type of wordplay, not-a-verb to verb, could have been sustained across all the themers; I'm not a fan of adding THE to the front of an entry; and I thought there was a bit too much crosswordese. On that last point, I would have liked to see fewer bland short phrases: LIE TO, SNAP TO, SEE TO IT, AT ALL, SORTA. And I had to run the alphabet for the cross of ANN with LINC. Obvious in retrospect that someone with the last name of Rule would have a traditional English name, but it didn't hit me at the time.

Barbara S. 8:57 AM  

Well, I almost got 1A right off the bat. Took some later finagling to change HORSe into HORSY, though – I didn’t realize at first that we were dealing with tot speech. And what about 5D [Still], the cross clue at the Y? That’s one of those ambiguous words with lots of meanings (3 as adjective, 4 as verb, 5 as adverb and 4 as noun, according to Merriam-Webster), so it didn’t help much. At one point I was thinking 5D was “eer” as in “e’er” as in “ever”. With a good attorney you might be able to lawyer “ever” into meaning [Still]. But, in any case, I got 80% of 1A correct first thing. I’ll take it.

I liked the theme. I got it on the second one, PRIZE DRAWING which, by the by, seemed less in the language than the other theme answers. Rex’s complaint about inconsistency in parts of speech worried me not AT ALL. GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT and DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE were my favorites – let’s hear it for Eros and Thanatos. I finally spelled REESE Witherspoon right – yay! I’m always trying to stick a C in her first name, but SOS was unmistakable. I crowed in triumph when I got to the WATSON clue. I've probably mentioned that my husband and I are in the middle of reading the entire Holmes canon aloud to one another, so I'm currently an expert on all things Conan Doyle. After all this success, though, I ended up with a DNF: SNOuTS/COu. If I’d just thought about it for 2.5 seconds, I would have realized the fishiness of COu, but in my haste, I just thought, “Oh, one of the many business terms I’m unfamiliar with.” And SNOOT meaning "nose"? That's a new one on me.

Well, here goes:
Sinésthimaphiles… ARE HOOKED ON A FEELING
Verodictophiles… VALUE JUDGEMENT
OK, I’ll stop now. Promise.

[SB: yd, 0. Filled in my last word without knowing what it was. It just seemed like it should be a word. And lo, it was.
Dbyd: -1. Brought down by this. It’s enough to make you shiver.]

TTrimble 9:00 AM  

I LIKE the concept, and the fill is generally clean and unobjectionable. Very straightforward cluing, which lessened the challenge but made for a smooth ride. I agree with the Easy assessment, and my time agrees as well.

Just a few nits. First with Rex's review. ITALIAN HERO (which is far less familiar to me than ITALIAN sub) is not redundant, because a HERO or sub can contain many different types of filling (meatball, veggie, etc.) but the ITALIAN means there are Italian cold cuts in there, just as suggested by the clue. In other words, this is a thing. Rex also vents a little too long over WHATNOTS: I can equally well imagine someone* thinking "Étagères, what the *&$%?! Do they mean WHATNOTS, and if so, why won't that fit?" Full disclosure is that I didn't know the word either, but the crosses disclosed what it was and I learned a new word to boot, so why not? to WHATNOTS.

About the puzzle's theme clues: I get that absolute fidelity to Greek roots is probably out of place here; it'd be too taxing for most solvers, and you don't want everyone giving you the STINK-EYE. Thus, "aurophiles" over say "chrysophiles" (or whatever; I'm no scholar). Besides, we have hybrids like "television" and no one flutters an eye. But why "autotumulophiles"? How many solvers are going to pick up on "tumulo"? I'm guessing that something related to "taphos" (as in "epitaph") might EKE out a win over the more Latin-y (I think) "tumulo" in a familiarity contest. Also, I think instead of "Dextropodophile" (pretty daft stuff!) I would prefer "orthopodophile", which I'd guess is equally decipherable, and has a nicer PEAL to it. But these nits are minor.

The snobby meaning of SNOOT has almost completely supplanted the nose meaning, so I also had SNOuT until I had to undo it.

My brother's name is LINC. It's a cool name. I'm envious.

SB: yd 0. My last word was only four letters long. I've only ever seen it in a video game context, where I thought it was made up.

*Southside Johnny, perhaps.

Unknown 9:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
king_yeti 9:12 AM  

I was confused by DIG THE IRWON GRAVE

Also, ANN/LINC cross had strong Natick potential

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Amy: liked this more than Rex. The theme helped the solve and made me smile. [@Natasha, have you ever heard of "a snootful?" ] It was easy, but we can use the time to get ready for Thanksgiving. The Times has a recipe for Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes I may investigate.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Italian Hero is a kind of hero, the kind with all those Italian-adjacent cold cuts on it. (As opposed to a Ham Hero or a Tuna Hero.) Maybe regional, I don't know.

SouthsideJohnny 9:14 AM  

Agree that the theme entries got tougher to discern the further south one went. The “regular” crossword stuff was fair enough that wracking up cross after cross to parse together the theme entries was at least tolerable. These type of puzzles have a pretty large constituency of fans (heck the NYT basically runs two a week) - and this one has been pretty well-received thus far, so congrats to the constructor.

Question of the day for me is did we just witness the debut of another clue for DORA ? She was one of my go-to of those Disney-type clues (along with ELSA). This one looks like it is advertising related (maybe she’s FLO’s sister).

andrew 9:14 AM  

Spent 10 minutes before I saw that SNOuTS needed to be changed - and don’t like SNOOTS. If it’s a LOA/KEA that’s fine - both answers work, take your guess. I’d like SCHNOZ or even SNOTTERS over SNOOTS.

Decent puzzle otherwise. Just hate when I have to pore over each letter to find the one in question, but it’s keeping the streak alive…

Chris from LI 9:15 AM  

At least it wasn't EAT AN ITALIAN HERO.

Matthew B 9:19 AM  

I think that the dichotomy between those who liked this one and didn't has more to do with the difficulty. For a while, Sundays have, in general, been so easy that if the challenge of the puzzle is your primary interest, then you've been in the Rex camp. If, on the other hand, you don't mind knocking off the puzzle while your wife completes her evening ablutions, as long as the themes are entertaining, you are a happy camper. I lean toward the former but to each his own..... There's no shortage of alternatives out there.
For me, the themers were okay but nothing to write home about.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Loved this! Fun and Breezy such a great way to spend a Sunday morning…thank you Mr. Deeney…well done!

RJ 9:20 AM  

Easy Sunday - half my normal time, even counting the minutes I stared at the space where I wanted etageres to fit.

@Loren Muse Smith - kudos for what you do! I imagine most teachers crashing in their clothes when they get home due to mental and emotional exhaustion.

I moved to CT in 1979 after college graduation for a job. I went to a jai alai game at the Milford fronton - crazy stuff. That's the last time I heard anything about jai alai unless you count the times it appears as a clue/answer in the xword, which is too bad.

Barbara S. 9:20 AM  

Doh! I've just grasped PRIZE DRAWING -- DRAWING for a PRIZE as opposed to a DRAWING that won a PRIZE. Yes, I'm fully awake, honest.

Birchbark 9:33 AM  

@Teedmn -- A couple of weeks ago, you TEED UP a question about an errant Oregon junco at your feeder. We have good old-fashioned juncos aplenty here to the east of you, but have never had anything so exotic at our feeder. I might have thought it was a sign of latter days, akin to an albino squirrel.

My old Peterson Field Guide says "Intergrades between "oreganus" and typical hyemalis are frequent, especially on the Great Plains. Just call them Northern Juncos, now the proper name for the species." It puts the Oregon's range squarely on the West Coast, YET notes it's "A rare STRAGGLEr, but occasional birds turn up near every winter at feeding trays as Far East as the Atlantic seaboard."

Very impressive sighting -- curious if it stuck around or was just passing through.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I had ACID for “test/trip” until nearly the end of the fill.

Wanderlust 9:37 AM  

Oooh, nice ones. Especially “treasure chests” - a very different person than the foot fetishist.

TTrimble 9:44 AM  

No, "Swiper, no swiping!" is something Dora says a lot, to a masked fox named Swiper who is always getting caught red-handed. I forget how Swiper always responds. Something like, "oh, man!" It's really formulaic stuff.

Should be parsed as "dig their own grave".

RooMonster 9:51 AM  

Hey All !
Am I the first one to note the puz is only 20 squares wide? A slightly undersized SunPuz, so quit yet whinin' about the bigness of a SunPuz! 😜😁

Liked the theme idea, pretty neat reimagined (likes)(fans of) phrases. And all are real phrases you'd hear out in the wild, not just made-up crossword phrases. Like - FLIPS OUT OVER RHODODENDRONS or something. (Although... Get on that puz peeps!)(Who cares it's 26 letters?) Liked the SEWN HEWN pair.

Also seems like a lot of Double E's today, let me count ..
I got 9 of them. There's three right in a row with SEETHE SEETOIT EERIE. Loved the F count of the Center Themer. STINK EYE fun to see. Good fill for the most part.

So a Fan of your Fan Club puz, Joe. It was like Eve after giving birth to Abel. She/I thought it was ADORE ABEL. (Best the ole brain can muster!)

Five F's (all in the Themers)

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Same issue here -doublecheck SNOOTS/SNOUTS

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

On display for you in LMS’s avatar

Beezer 10:08 AM  

Very nice Sunday puzzle with a clever theme.

AUTOTUMULOPHILE is kind of a “made up” but kind of not. Tumulo means: mound of earth piled up over the graves of important people in prehistoric times. so, add AUTO and PHILES to the root word and voilá!

Ooh…@Andrew…snotters!? 🤣 That indicates some real dislike for SNOOT!

@Southside, Dora the Explorer is/was an educational children's show. And as @TTrimble said, Swiper is a character in that show.

Marty 10:14 AM  

Parsing DIGTHEIROWNGRAVE gave me problems for I’d have gone with YOUR…. I’ll resist googling whether multiple people can be buried in a single grave. As no one mentioned this, I assume it is a thing…..

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Six seconds over my Sunday PB. Fill too easy, theme meh.

Joe Welling 10:43 AM  

I truly don't get Rex's rant about THE NILE. Is he claiming "Mississippi" means the same thing as "the Mississippi"?

Terra Schaller 10:51 AM  

Just wanted to let you know you're all important to me.

Terra Schaller 10:52 AM  

And it's always worth a deep brain augmentation to read and grind over something that is printed. Thank you.

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

Best Sunday ever. Super wordplay and fun to solve. I liked it as much as cartographers TREASURE MAPS, cabinet makers LOVE HANDLES, and Bears fans GET A KICK OUT OF FOOTBALL.

Ellen 11:04 AM  

Agree. Would be happy to see some Thursday trickiness migrate to Sunday.

Tom T 11:18 AM  

Fun and easy.

WATSON didn't come immediately, but I had the W---ON and thought it was WilSON (the soccer ball-turned-best-buddy" that Tom Hanks creates in that movie--Marooned? Stranded? All alone on an island? Oh, wait, now I recall--CASTAWAY.

Mary McCarty 11:24 AM  

Got nearly to the end of the comments before I realized I hadn’t deciphered today’s avatar from @LMS. BRILLIANT double-play on
Mammon (=wealth) and Mammary (=breast)= MAMMOPHILES= TREASURE CHESTS
Keep up the great work, LMS; you educate the youngsters and entertain us oldsters.

This 'n' That 11:26 AM  

Being the best Sunday in a while is a very low bar.

One of the themes does not work. FANCYRESTAURANTS. The FANCY part is good but RESTAURANTS is RESTAURANTS with no double meaning, metaphorical meaning, or other word play.

I enjoyed the puzzle but would not endorse all the superlatives being offered. But it was better than MEH.

SNOOT, noun: snoot; plural noun: snoots

1. informal
a person's nose.
"a remark that might warrant a good smack in the snoot"

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

@Joe D - In its standard usage, LIKE CLOCKWORK is indeed a common phrase. But the point here , as Rex said, is that standard phrases are re-imagined as verb phrases. as in Joe D LIKES CLOCKWORK and this is a clock collector. So, as to what you said earlier, no.

Nancy 11:48 AM  

The theme was interesting, original and amusing enough to keep me hooked even though the rest of the puzzle was mostly very easy and not especially challenging. The theme answers were pretty droll: GET OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT, with its double meanings for both GET OFF ON (begin/really like) and RIGHT FOOT (correct/non-left) was my favorite. But they were all pretty great.

And there was one real gem in the non-theme answers: DEAR JOHN as the answer to "Announcement of a split decision?"

I was so relieved when WATSON was the answer to the "you have a grand gift for silence" literary quote. I had been really afraid that it would be some hapless woman being condescended to by an arrogant male. Like Jane Eyre, maybe, or even worse, Elizabeth Bennett. Not that she would have stood for it.

An imaginative if easy puzzle -- and enjoyable.

Diego 11:53 AM  

Way above par for the Sunday NYT, not nearly as tortured and sloggish as many others. The -philes were gettable and the play was pretty fresh—particularly fell for the right foot, like most here. Agree: there seems to be a string of easier puzzles, but I’m not complaining—enough challenges everywhere else in this chaotic world of ours.

Teedmn 11:58 AM  

DIG THE _ROW_ G_AV_, Dig the brown gravy? But what cooking staple is ObL? Gah, "Autotumulophiles" was of no help there. Finally got HEWN from HE__, WATSON to NEST, and saw THEIR OWN. Sheesh. Otherwise, this was pretty breezy and the theme was clever.

Thanks, Joe Deeney.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  
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thefogman 12:31 PM  

Took me a while to get the gimmick. It’s well-executed but I’m not sure it was worth all the trouble. Some of the themers were great - GETOFFONTHERIGHTFOOT e.g.. Others, like PRIZEDRAWING are a bit off the mark. Overall though it wasn’t too bad for a Sunday puzzle. Although lately that isn’t saying too much…

fiddleneck 12:43 PM  

Thank. You Mary McCarty for the explanation of Loren’s avatar.

TTrimble 1:20 PM  

@This 'n' That
The way I'm reading it, the second part isn't expected or required to have a double meaning; the wordplay is concentrated in the first part, mostly via a shift in part of speech. For example, "love" does double duty, switching from adjective (a "love triangle") to verb ("geometrophiles love triangles"). Triangles remain triangles throughout.

So it is with "fancy restaurants", where "fancy" changes from adjective to a verb in "gastrophiles fancy restaurants"). Restaurants remains unchanged.

An exception in this pattern is "dig their own grave" where "dig" remains a verb both before and after, but the meaning of the verb has changed.

Thus the changes in the first part don't follow a monotonous set formula. There's a changeover from "get" or "get off" as a verbal construction, to "get off on" as the verbal phrase. Similarly, from "go" to "go for". It's tricky and clever what the constructor is doing.

Bill in Maryland 1:30 PM  

I always knew that someone who walked around with his nose in the air was snooty.No problem with snoots.

Masked and Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Good SunPuz. Had some humor to it, and pretty darn decent fillins. Hey, shoot -- U can tell that any puz with an intact JAIALAI in it is tryin hard to please.

staff weeject pick: COO. Unexpected direction for its clue to take. Different. Liked.

fave themer: GETOFFONTHERIGHTFOOT. Forced the puzgrid to compactify to 20 columns (instead of regular 21) to accommodate. Also, just plain kinda kinky funny.

Thanx, Mr. Deeney. Fun stuff.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

U could maybe argue that this runt is somehow vaguely weirdly related to the SunPuz:

TTrimble 1:43 PM  

@Joe Welling
I think you have a point. If you're on Jeopardy! and the prompt is "The river that Lake Victoria flows into", the chances that someone responds "What is the Nile?" are overwhelmingly greater than for "What is Nile?". THE NILE is true to spoken language. I think Rex is just annoyed by NILE appearing a lot in crosswords and is further annoyed to see it lengthened out to THE NILE. But I don't think he registers a complaint about insertion of a definite article every time it appears (which is a lot, in fact).

Anoa Bob 1:43 PM  

I think the issue with THE preceding NILE is its arbitrariness. Why only THE NILE and, for example, and not THE OBOE, THE GOSPEL, THE SLOTH, THE STINK EYE, etc. Looks to me like it's just to make the four letter NILE fill up a seven letter slot. It's like non-nutritional fill, so to speak; it increases volume without adding anything of value or interest. The stand alone NILE has appeared, per, 149 times during the Shortz era; the THE NILE version only 4 times.

For most of us most of the time, 40A DREAM is "Something you sleep through" but not always. Sometimes the DREAM or REM stage overlaps with waking up and the person is, for a few terrifying minutes, both awake and DREAMing. Since one of the physiological states during REM sleep is skeletal muscle paralysis, during this DREAM/awake overlap the person can't move. It can be a very unnerving experience. Any of yous in the commentariat ever have that happen?

Plenty of grist for the POC (plural of convenience) hunter's mill here including one of the themers when one LOVE TRIANGLE wasn't enough. My favorite was when TSE TSE (106 stand alone Shortz era appearances) was woefully short of filling its 65 Down slot. Adding FLY to TSE TSE would give it a 50% increase in grid fill but today's multiple FLIES ups that to nearly 80%.

Hey, it's cold and rainy today and I'm stuck indoors so just trying to WRING a little extra entertainment from the puzzle. Now I'm off to check out some groundbreakingly new toenail clippers for seniors.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  
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Mary 2:04 PM  

I confidently entered Harvey for 74 across. Still smiling.

Crosswordese 2:05 PM  

Brian Eno interview:

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

This one was quick and easy. Personally, I prefer a bit more of a challenge and that “aha moment” when you figure out the theme. But still, no complaints about the construction.

okanaganer 2:41 PM  

It's always a surprise what gets a lot of comments; today it's the word THE. Rivers sound right with the THE... "the Mississippi" is a river, "Mississippi" is a state.

But!... even some states and countries seem to need THE before them. You commonly hear "the Yukon" but not "the Alaska"; "the Ukraine" but not "the Russia".

Eniale 2:53 PM  

Finally got around to it, and it went much faster than my usual Sunday performance.

I also had Acid instead of ROAD trip for the longest time.

@okanoganer, if your last Saturday word was a 7-letter, I didn't believe it when I got it, considering it's not really an English word.
My son independently agreed with me.

Too kind, @bocamp, but I do improve slowly.

TTrimble 3:07 PM  

@Anoa Bob
One point that I think breaks the symmetry is that "oboe" (to take one of your examples) can take either a definite or indefinite article, and in a XW answer there would usually be no particular reason to choose either, and so neither is. But one can't say "a Mississipi", for instance, as a standalone noun phrase.

It doesn't at all detract from the point you're making (with which I agree), but nowadays "the Ukraine" seems to be deprecated and journalists are counseled to go with just "Ukraine". More here.

There's also "The Netherlands" and "The Hague". I think leaving off "the" in either case is pretty much out of the question.

Michael Page 3:16 PM  

“The Ukraine” is a holdover from days when the nation didn’t exist, and it was a name for a region. Ditto “The Yukon.” And today’s Ukrainians like it about as much as Macedonians like North Macedonia.
Meanwhile, HORSY is an unflattering adjective; the word for a small or toy horse is HORSIE, or less commonly HORSEY (which is used for either the noun or the adjective.

Nancy 3:17 PM  

(Non-football fans are welcome to skip.)

Why do I do this to myself? Even worse, why do I do this to them?

"Them" are The New York Giants.

They were doing do wonderfully well without me -- during all those games played during the nice months of the fall when I was in the park. (I will never stay home in good weather to watch football.) They were having the sort of fabulous season that no one had predicted and that they hadn't pulled off in too many years to count.

The temperature took a recent nose dive in NYC, so I've finally been home to watch. At which point, the Giants took a giant nose dive too. They lost their previous game -- the first one I watched this season! -- and they seem to be well on their way to losing this one quite badly -- to a team with a much worse record.

I AM THE KISS OF DEATH! No, really! This has always been true of me. Trust me on this. I just turned the TV off earlyish in the third quarter. Maybe I'll turn it back on in the fourth quarter. Maybe not.

Sandy McCroskey 3:58 PM  

@okanaganer 2:42 Now that Ukraine is a country, its people prefer that the definite article be dropped. It's customary to attach the article to the names of territories, hence "the Yukon," and the pre-state Ukraine.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Thank you for being a teacher. My wife is a career teacher and her district is experiencing the same as you described. Lots of extra work because of staffing issues. More to the subject of todays’s puzzle, I come here for your commentary and wit. Be well.

old timer 4:13 PM  

DNF here, because I thought a company's second in command must be a COU, though I had no idea what it could be short for. Corporal of underwear? Of course in the ARMY, a company is led by a captain, and his second in command would be a lieutenant, or a leftenant in Britain. I guess my corporate-speak knowledge has faded, because of course Chief Operating Officer is the one who runs things if the Beloved Founder is off on some other mission. In the event of a takeover, the COO might be kicked out without a parachute.

I thought the puzzle was otherwise very good for a Sunday. Easy, but Sundays are usually easier than Fridays and Saturdays.

One of the previous comments got me wandering around the Net, and I ended up with a very funny Johnny Carson interview featuring Mel Blanc and guest star Jack Benny. Mel Blanc is one of those guys that comes along once in a lifetime. "Now leaving on Track Five, for Anaheim, Azusa, and Kook --- amunga!" It is impossible not to think of that bit if you ever visit Union Station in L.A. (Though in real life, the Santa Fe went to Anaheim, and it was some other railroad that possibly went to Cucamonga).

Beezer 4:21 PM  

@Nancy, it sounds like you and my husband are kindred souls. Both highly intelligent people who somehow believe that their eyes on a game determine the outcome! 🤣 I finally realized my husband just cannot stand to watch his team lose. This tendency, however silly, is tolerated by me BECAUSE it often allows me watch something else on the tube….OR just shut off the noise. But! He has missed some amazing comebacks in the past so I will usually bring that up when his “superstitious” side pops out.

egsforbreakfast 4:27 PM  

The brouhaha about NILE vs. THENILE reminds me of when Nixon visited Egypt during the early days of Watergate. I believe the exchange at his Cairo press conference, held dockside along the river, went like this:

American Reporter: What role did you play in the Watergate break in?
Nixon: No responsible person would say I was involved.
Italian Reporter: Is that a denial?
Nixon (pointing): Of course that’s the Nile.

okanaganer 4:31 PM  

@Eniale, the Saturday word I missed was this 5er. If the 7er you're talking about is this, I only got it cuz I've seen it before; I've probably missed it at least once. It's one of those "goofy SB words".

JC66 4:51 PM  


Don't listen to @Beezer, it's all your fault.

BTW, I remember when the Giants played at Yankee stadium in the Bronx.

CDilly52 5:19 PM  

Happy Sunday for this old solver. This was classic NYT Sunday fare and I liked it lots more than seven courses at any of the world’s FANCY RESTAURANTS. And clearly more than OFL. I truly do not understand why he pans puzzles that are so clearly precisely what the NYTXW has been and apparently intends to be at least for the near future. I often think the best thing about a huge Sunday grid is a theme and fill that gives the solver a little boost via easier clues, just to keep the momentum going.

In my early “learning to solve” years, I was always glad that Gran solved Sunday in stages because had she deigned to sit with me patiently while reading each clue aloud and waiting to see if I had any ideas to contribute, we’d never have eaten Sunday dinner, and that my friends would have been a real tragedy. I am a wonderful cook today because of her. I can’t make as good a pie as she could (my pumpkin is very close) and will never duplicate or come close to equaling her fried chicken. But I am never busy in my kitchen without thinking of her and feeling her love.

Anyway, my solve today, of necessity had to be on chunks just lime Gran used to do. I had so much to do today in order to be ready to head out to California to see my kids and granddaughter for Thanksgiving week-my favorite week of the year.

You all have noted the cool and clever and a few not so clever parts of today so I won’t bore you by repeating. My musings today are all connected to my love of crosswords because of my love of family. My husband’s birthday, 11/19 (yesterday) kicked off the Thanksgiving season each year. I’d make him this elegant chocolate cake and his favorite chicken and noodles. We would take the leftovers to my sister’s house in LaGrange IL where we all gathered for the turkey and fixings, football and family poker night. We always played for the grand prize of the final slice of pie, and it was competitive!

Thanksgiving is for everyone. I wish you all a holiday filled with love and the presence of those most important to you - those who you define as your family. Even if by phone or Zoom, spread the love and share it. I’ll be back in a week. And start to lose the inevitable 5 pounds I will gladly put on!!

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Yes! Little House! Also, if I’m remembering correctly, All-of-a-Kind Family.

Smith 5:29 PM  

@Pablo 8:01

Hope your solo went well! DH leaned over to me during the bell choir prelude to whisper "looks like we've got a ringer" he's hilarious (but correct, there was a ringer ringer ringing this morning)

Anonymous 5:35 PM  
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Justjudy 6:30 PM  

Autotomy Definition & Meaning -
separation of a body part. self-amputation of a damaged or trapped appendage. the performance of surgery upon oneself.

So I guess it was a reference to digging a grave with a detached arm. Yeech!

Deb Sweeney 6:56 PM  

I totally loved this one, I guess Rex had an extra big bowl of grumpy flakes for breakfast today. Yeah it was easy but I really enjoyed the theme. The only thing that tripped me up was putting ACID for 80 down.

Trish 7:30 PM  

Maybe this is regional but Italian Hero is absolutely not redundant, at least for someone from the mid Atlantic. Italian is a type of hero (aka hoagie or sub).

pabloinnh 7:55 PM  

@Smith-It went just fine, thank you. When you've been singing for as long as I have, it's hard to get nervous in a virtually empty church.

Also, our Christmas pageant always has a children's bell choir which is a definite highlight. They sing and accompany themselves with chords. It's the only part of the performance when applause is not only allowed, but encouraged (and deserved).

@JCC66-Take it easy on Nancy. I cost the '86 Red Sox the World Series.

JC66 8:20 PM  


I didn't know your last name is Buckner. ;-)


Anonymous 8:38 PM  

I rarely post, but this one was a slog. The theme was awkward and unintuitive.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

Laura Ingalls Wilder describes her mother’s whatnot in one of her books.

Teedmn 10:08 PM  

@Birchbark, I’ve been keeping my eyes on the juncos but so far just the one sighting. I'd think I imagined it but the comparison to the others was so starkly different that it must have been one of those odd sightings.

Anonymous 10:32 PM  

I found it too easy except for the parts Rex complained about as well. Wouldn’t recommend this puzzle to anyone!

Anonymous 10:39 PM  
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Anonymous 11:38 PM  
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Anonymous 4:20 AM  
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Anonymous 10:08 AM  

These uniclues are tiresome.

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

Loren Muse Smith, beautiful comment. Can’t think of word to describe it. Partially wry?

Burma Shave 11:07 AM  

From yesterday:


grants THREEWISHES, UNLESS you mean
YIPES, have SEX like you've never SCENE.


and today:




Diana, LIW 5:05 PM  

You can PHILE this one under done!

Just saw the clues for JAIALAI yesterday - see watcha learn?

I was surprised when I finished - musta been easy.

Diana, Lady

spacecraft 5:42 PM  

"I don't want no more of ARMYLIFE: gee Ma, I wanna go--but they won't let me go--gee Ma, I wanna go home!"

With M in place, I slept through the alarM, not the DREAM. You've slept through the alarm before, yeah you have. Don't deny it.

Theme: I'm not a fan of made-up words, though I SORTA DIG the Greek root attempts. Agreed they should ALL be made up, which throws out gastrophiles, but whaddya gonna do? GETOFFONTHERIGHTFOOT is no doubt the star of the show.

Fill: We were doing OK till the very end, when EKED showed up. If I could ban one single piece of crosswordese forever, that would be it. Par.

Wordle bogey.

Christoph Wienands 5:13 PM  

I thought the clue for Uglies was pretty clever. I don’t know that series either but I got the U and one other letter and pretty quickly came up with Uglies. You know, opposite of Pretties. That had to be it. Otherwise an enjoyable puzzle that my wife and I completed in just under 2 hours, for once. Great feeling :-)

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

Yes, a Morse code mistake, the clue was S-T-S

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