Flat-topped French hat / SUN 11-27-22 / Urban area typically with the tallest buildings / Automotive successor of the Bel Air / Proudly embody informally / Pasta whose name means barley in Italian / Figs. first issued in 1936 / Allow for more high-density housing and mixed-use development in urban planning lingo

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Constructor: Adam Wagner

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Going Off on a Tangent" — the five theme answers are BENT OUT / OF SHAPE (85D: With 86-Down, very upset ... like the answers to five of this puzzle's clues?). That is: the themers have two elements: the clued element literally goes off on a tangent (i.e. zags diagonally up and to the right at the end); the unclued element continues straight (like a conventional Across answer) *and* spells out a shape (CIRCLE, HEART, TRIANGLE, STAR, SQUARE). So the bent (clued) answer literally gets BENT OUT / OF SHAPE (i.e. appears to emerge from a word that is also a shape ("shape" words are in red below):

Theme answers:
  • INNER CITY (22A: Urban area typically with the tallest buildings) / INNER CIRCLE
  • OPEN HEARING (38A: Public court proceeding) / OPEN HEART
  • RIGHT TRACK (61A: What you're on when you're making progress) / RIGHT TRIANGLE
  • SUPERSTORM (83A: Major concern for a meteorologist) / SUPERSTAR
  • LEMON SQUEEZER (101A: Certain juicing need) / LEMON SQUARE
Word of the Day: KEENAN Allen (43D: Star N.F.L. wide receiver Allen) —
Keenan Alexander Allen (born April 27, 1992) is an American football wide receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at California before leaving after his junior year. He was drafted by the Chargers in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Allen won multiple rookie honors after setting Chargers' records for receptions and receiving yards by a rookie. In 2017, he was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. [ed: He's also a 5x Pro Bowler] (wikiepdia)
• • •

Maybe there's some kind of letdown that I'm having here at the tail end of Thanksgiving vacation / birthday week, because wow I found this one very, very tedious. There are individual answers here and there, like WHIZBANG and maybe BONG HIT, that offer some entertaining moments along the way, but for the most part this was a slog. The theme was so depressingly void of interest, so impossibly one-note. So ... these Across answers go (per the title) "off on a tangent"—that is, they kick up to the NE, on a diagonal, at their tail ends. But ... why? To what end? Those "tangents" are just ... nothing. They're random letters. The letters do not spell anything. They do not relate to one another. They are completely random and arbitrary letters, as far as I can see (-TY! -ING! -ACK!). If those tangent-going letters do anything ... anything at all, I apologize for being unable to see it. So there's this inherent pointlessness. Or seeming pointlessness. Then there's the unclued answers that just keep heading Across; that is, only the "off on a tangent" answer is clued—the regular only-horizontal answer is just ... a plausible answer. With no clue. None. Zero. This is fun how? I guess the revealer is supposed to tell us how—all of the "bent" answers (the clued answers) arise out of a word that is also a "shape"—that is, the clued answers are bent (got it) "out of (a) shape" (i.e. the bend gives you one answer, but the continuing (unclued!) Across answer turns into a shape (CIRCLE, HEART (!?!), TRIANGLE, STAR (!?!?!), SQUARE ). This concept was totally invisible to me until well after I'd started this write-up. I thought BENT OUT / OF SHAPE was just another (redundant) way of expressing that the clued themers went "off on a tangent." The presence of actual shapes in the (unclued) straight-Across answers ... just didn't register. Probably because, as I've said, many time, parenthetically and unparenthetically, those straight-Across themers are Un Clued! So how *can* they make an impact!?!? If you immediately grasped the "out of shape" bit, you are a more perspicacious solver than I am. Or you're just less full of cocktail / chocolate cake.

That corner with the revealer ... woof. Tough, precisely because of the revealer (a two-part cross-reference in a tightly enclosed space). If you don't know the revealer (and how could you without considerable help from crosses), it's difficult to get traction. PAVED ROAD was way too generically (and boringly) clued (104A: Residential construction project). Then I wanted EATS for SUPS (!?!) (109A: Has a meal) (nothing in that clue quite gets at the quaintness of SUPS). And if the Bruins aren't UCLA, shrug, no idea (I *have* heard of the BOSton Bruins, just ... less so). But the difficulty of the corner is truly beside the point—the point is, this theme (at least the "shape" angle) is a tree falling in a forest with no one to hear it. And then when you do hear it, it sounds mostly like a sad trombone. 

DANK memes? Whaaaaat year is it? I haven't heard that expression in what feels like a decade, but is probably just five years or so. But five years may as well be *two* decades in Internet Time. Woof. AGAPE and AGHAST are not only both in the grid, but practically on top of each other. And ugh x 100 to the very concept of "don't yuck my yum," which is for sensitive babies who can't bear the fact that some people don't like what they like. Grow up. And stop talking baby talk. Also, more importantly, YUCKED, in the past tense, is about as ugly a thing as I've ever seen in a grid. Just nonsense. The worst thing about the fill, though, was the EWAN / VAN crossing. Why in the world would you cross names at a vowel like that, when neither of the names is household, and one of the names (VAN) could Easily have been clued in a non-name way!? That square pretty much had to be an "A" since is the only name you can plausibly make out of EW-N, and I can kinda picture VAN Jones, now that I think of it (I LOATHE 24-hr news and stopped watching it completely after the 2016 election). But it's an awful editorial decision to clue VAN as a name there, esp. if your EWAN is of the non-McGregor variety. 

No idea what a "Pitch Perfect" film series is, so I needed every cross for KAY (43A: ___ Cannon, creator of the "Pitch Perfect" film series). Looks like these were exceedingly popular movies of a type I would never ever see. Sometimes I am in touch, but frequently I am out. Ah well. I know ELENA Ochoa (golfer) but this not-quite ELENA (i.e. ELLEN) Ochoa, that name threw me (14D: Discovery astronaut Ochoa) (ha, joke's on me: the golfer is actually LORENA Ochoa). As for UPZONE ...  is "urban planning lingo" actually a lingo that we're supposed to know now? Seems astonishingly, uh, narrow. What is it "up" from? What does "up" mean here? You can't even infer it very easily. Is "more high-density housing and mixed-use development" good? It sounds pretty good? Is it ... up? There are surely answers to these questions, but this is a term that is both too specialized and not immediately clear enough in its meaning. Just because it appears in some wordlist / dictionary doesn't make it good. The first hit I get when I google it says "Upzoning is just what it sounds like: growing a little taller to have more homes and businesses in our communities." But the clue says nothing about height (of buildings). I would never have considered that the UP in UPZONE meant "growing a little taller," i.e. literal height. The clue is no help. If you're going to introduce professional argot of a highly specialized type, the least you could do is clue it in a way that makes the term make sense. This write-up was exhausting. Just explaining the theme, ugh. I need sleep. See you Monday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ken Freeland 12:11 AM  

Tripped up on the EWAN/VAN natick pointed out by Rex, and also the ROKER/KEPI natick not mentioned. So whilst I can never applaud a naticky puzzle, I will say that I found the fill overall refreshing... there was little crosswordese and few of the usual suspects, and I was at least amused by the themer...

Melrose 12:13 AM  

Harder than the usual Sunday for me. Got a couple of the “bent” answers before I got the revealer. Didn’t realize that the non-bent answers were actually the names of shapes until I read Rex. Oh well.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

UPZONE refers back to zoning subtypes. In R (residential) zoning, R-1 usually refers to single-family homes, R-2 permits duplexes, and then it goes up through midsize apartments at R-3 to high-rises in R-5. (This is LA's system, anyway, though I imagine other cities are similar.) Anyhoo, you can see that if you wanted to permit higher-density or mixed-use development in previously lower-density zoned areas, you'd have to UP the number from R-2 to R-4 (or whatever), hence UPZONE.

NYDenizen 12:34 AM  

Slogging through this was an unpleasant, reveal-assisted) chore. And that was pretty much never really grokking the theme, which l eventually managed with the Rex’s explanation. That experience felt very much like when a joke requires an explanation to get the punchline. Too clever by far, for me.

egsforbreakfast 1:10 AM  

My first major pause was at 9D Deep inhalation to get high (BONGHIT). If you inhale only shallowly, wouldn’t it still count as a BONGHIT? I mean, like, I’ve never tried that. But I still think it would count, Dude. Where oh where is @JohnX when you really need his counsel?

I’ve gotta say that NOUTURN is a sensible cross for AUTOBAHN. Of course an AUTOBONG with no speed limit would be a really sporty vehicle.

Hadn’t heard of Yuck my Yum before. But I certainly get the concept. YUCKED in the grid, however, is not Yummy. If you don’t agree, just don’t YMY.

104A PAVEDROAD (Residential construction project) made me think of an aphorism that might be clued: Result of applying good intentions to a route to Hell.

I’m practically peeing my pants at the thought of @Southside’s reaction to CESTSIBON crossing KEENAN.

I’m sure there will be some whining about the angled portion of the themers not being truly tangent to the horizontal portion. Now that I think about it, “Going Off on a Tangent” indeed isn’t a very good title. But neither is the constructor’s original title (Figure Skating), or the editor’s suggested revision (Go Figure). Maybe “Forklift” wudda worked better.

I wasn’t bowled over by the gimmick and ended up liking the fill (other than YUCKED and SMEARER) more than the theme. Unusual for me.

Joe Dipinto 1:16 AM  

Well. You needn't be so huffy. Chill out, take an Alka-Seltzer.

VAN Jones is quite well-known, it seems to me. The EWAN clue was bad, but what other letter could go in there but A? So no big deal.

I liked the theme. I noticed the shapes as I was going along, wondered "hmm, what's this all about"? and then when I got to the revealer in the bottom right I thought it all worked perfectly.

Tangentially, today's theme answers feature two songs that were in the Top 10 in November 1971:

okanaganer 1:23 AM  

Rex: well right off I wanted to say "SUPER STAR" isn't a themer, and by the way what on earth is that clue getting at? But of course you're right, it is a themer, and the meteorologist is concerned with a SUPER STORM. Two OUT OF SHAPE answers meta crossing each other, I missed that one. I honestly thought that maybe Will thinks a meteorologist is concerned with meteors.

Really agree about PAVED ROADS. This is one of the silliest clues I've seen in a while: there's nothing "residential" about a PAVED ROAD. "Municipal", yes maybe. "Dust preventing construction project"... that's the ticket!... I like it.

Silly typeover: MELON SQU[EEZER], which made sense, but MELON SQUARE did not.

jae 3:53 AM  

Medium seems right, but the rest of @Rex’s take on this one is not close to mine. I thought this was a very pleasant Sunday. Smooth (except for maybe SMEARER), light on “?” clues, cute theme, liked it.

Conrad 5:58 AM  

My problem area was the SW. I had WIN---TOY for 66D and all I could come up with was WINdow TOY. Never heard of a DANK meme, my household box contained hoSES, couldn't get MORPHS from the clue, kealoa'd on OVATE/OVoid and tried to somehow cram docents into the museum-go-rounds at 88D. When I eventually got that sorted out I still didn't get the happy theme. Turned out my issue was at 16D, where I had wIGGLE for my little shake. wAPE didn't look right, but I figure it might mean WAP...something.

SouthsideJohnny 7:14 AM  

Boring with a capital B. I noticed the answers drifting off “on a tangent” just fine, and noticed the shapes as well - I suspected that there was more to the theme than just random geometry, but by the time I got to the revealer I had lost interest. These intricate themes that require an explanation from someone like Rex is indicative of how little “payoff” comes from the hard work of constructing them and is not commensurate with the effort involved In slogging one’s way through the grid.

I hope Rex is kidding regarding the Boston Bruins.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

Okay. Filling this in was a great mix of work and fun and made for an engaging outing that I’m grateful for. The theme helped with the solving, there was some lovely grit and smile-inducing clues. But what I want to focus on here is the chops it took to make this puzzle.

You may have heard that answers that go diagonal in a grid are constraining, make filling that grid a challenge. Let me just confirm that, as one who has had published just such a puzzle. Making that puzzle was like hacking through vines. Here, Adam does it five times.

But there’s more. Adam had to come up with common phrases whose last word was a shape, AND that could veer off from that shape into ANOTHER common phrase. Try coming up with these. Try it, say, with “diamond”, and get back to me.

On top of all this, Adam placed the base theme phrases symmetrically in the grid. There’s one in the middle, then two symmetrical pairs. Thus, those symmetrical pairs each had to contain the same number of letters! Exclamation point here? Yes, color me blown away. Not only did Adam have to find the phrases in the first place, but their letter counts had to match.

Now, my guess is that Adam was going for quality and art here. I don’t think he was showing off, because, IMO, these elements are not usually noticed by most solvers. But I’m so impressed by what he accomplished, I believe it deserves to be seen. Thus this nerdy comment.

Bravo, skilled sir, for this beauty. Thank you for making this!

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Very hard for me, not least because I stared at DANK members for ages trying to figure out what my error was.

The first three things that pop up for me when I Google DANK meme are:
- a meme in which the comedy is excessively overdone and nonsensical, to the point of being comically ironic.
- viral internet content that, due to overuse or passing trends, has lost its value or currency
- cool memes that are “exceptionally unique or odd”

It appears that even the internet does not know what it means.

Additional WoEs: KAY Canon, EWAN, PATREON, GRE, VAN Jones, ELLEN Ochoa.

Although I knew KEENAN from real life and ANI from crosswords, that seems like a rough cross. Not as rough as EWAN/VAN, but rough.

So … liked the challenge but this definitely strayed outside my world.

Joaquin 7:34 AM  

The theme, as stated in the title ("Going off on a tangent") threw me off. I was expecting to find myself berating a man who just spent some time sunning himself at the beach.

Colin 7:49 AM  

I kept thinking LOATHE as I was trying to finish this puzzle. I got the naticky crosses but only with difficulty and uncertainty. I still don't understand BLIND for "ante alternative." "Gambling spot?" held me up forever, since I didn't know PATREON... I'm thinking maybe TIP, as in "Hey buddy, I got a tip on this great horse..." until I finally remembered about PIP.

My TRAIN(TRIP) of thought for 83D ("Problem for a pitcher") went like this: BOREDOM (I actually wrote this in!), then FOREARM. I'm trying to figure out FUNER... for "major concern for meteorologist" since I had UNZONE for 77D; what I was thinking of was a fumarole, but didn't know it at the time. Finally, SOREARM.

This was OK but a bit of a slog.

pmdm 7:55 AM  

With Robert Orr's surname appearing in what seems to me to be a wealth of crossword entries, it seems to me crossword puzzles solvers should be familiar with the Boston Bruins team. And if you are a Ranger/Brad Park fan, well, 'nuff said. Back to the puzzle.

Mike has been unhappy before when an unclued entry rear its ugly head in a puzzle. It was easy enough for me to guess a few of the unclued entries, and then the jig was up (I guess literally). Boring? Not to me. Difficult? More to construct than to solve, after getting the concept. Easy? Depends if the PPP was in your wheel house. Enjoyable? That's kind of subjective, so time to depart.

Son Volt 7:55 AM  

I don’t know - the trick initially piqued my interest but waned to a who cares quickly. Neither the theme or revealer offer assistance with the solve - and worse the diagonals required really constrict the overall fill on the entire east side of the grid - I’m looking at you SMEARER and you TRAIN TRIP. VAN the Man

We do get the great Ian Anderson so that helps and I love my wife’s LEMON SQUAREs. Always interested in a BONG HIT and I use I’M BEAT quite often after work.

Not SQUARE with the IMPALA clue. They stood side by side for years before the Bel Air was dropped in the mid 70s. Successor implies the IMPALA was created to replace. Quite a stretch by the big guy on the BOS critique.


Tedious was an apt descriptor for this one - not sure who at the NYTXW thought this would be an enjoyable Sunday sized solve. Add yesterday’s misplaced offering they whiffed on the entire weekend.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

I got the shape thing early, so bent out of shape came easily. Still not sold on DROPS DOWN? being MOLTS? Huh? I had MELTS which made more sense to me. “You say OVATE I say EVATE, let’s call the whole thing off.” I don’t nothin’ about Roma tomatoes

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Hit the themer and thought, “This should be clued as ‘Rex Parker’s likely response to this puzzle.’”
At the little college where I teach, Van Jones was the commencement speaker a few years ago. Fantastically charismatic speaker, and I still occasionally quote words of wisdom from that speech.

mmorgan 8:16 AM  

Kind of a slog and a snooze for me. Unlike Rex, I got the revealer corner quite easily, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I found much of the whole western section to be fairly difficult for me, though nothing in that section seemed to be related to the themers in any way.

ncmathsadist 8:25 AM  

The theme was just an annoyance. Theme answers became letter-eaters (from crosses) then products of a wild guess. Ugh and aargg.

Dr.A 8:43 AM  

AAACK is right! What happened the fun Sunday puzzles that actually took some “figuring out” to get the theme? I miss those. What a slog is right. So many crossed words that I didn’t know. And PIP/PATREON was not a favorite cross either! I actually (gasp) had to use Google to help me out. Googled what I had there to see if it was a “thing”. Yikes.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

With Rex on this one.

Had OPENtrial which I refused to give up. OPENHEARING seems more like a legislative feature and public trial is a constitutional concept.

Anyone who says DANK meme probably still pronounces it me me.

PATREON was just mean. I couldn’t name a single platform of this type so I was expecting it to be a clever name or make sense on its plain and obvious meaning. You might as well have clued it “where you pay someone for their 81As.”

Nancy 9:16 AM  

I didn't pick up on the "shape" aspect of the puzzle either. I just thought that there was an unclued "in the language" phrase that remained after the clued answer had "gone off on a tangent".

The title made the puzzle way easier. And once I knew what the gimmick was, the puzzle was even easier than it would have been without the gimmick. It offered obvious letters to help get many different words in different rows.

I found it easy except for the proper names. oWeN/ken, ben, jen or len worked with DOdos -- which I had instead of DOPES. But when there was no VEN name -- or at least I didn't think there was -- I changed OWEN to EWAN; DODOS to DOPES; and VEN to VAN.

The puzzle held my interest enough that I wanted to finish it. The answer (other than the names) that gave me the most trouble? The very DOOK-y NOUTURN. I also had ACE HIGH before ACE KING.

What are memes and why are they DANK? You will tell me, yes?

J.W. 9:20 AM  

Man alive, I hated this. This was, by a significant margin, the worst puzzle to come down the pike since I started building a streak I can be proud of. LOATHE is definitely this puzzle's most apt fill. I knew I was in trouble when I spent 10 minutes on the NW alone. Having GEist instead of GENIE at 29A hurt a lot. Even after realizing what the reveal was driving at, I had problems, because I had SUPERcell going all the way across at 83A and somehow forgot that I was supposed to start turning upward. It took a while to work my way out of that bind.

A particularly ugly DNF for me—after 45 minutes, I had somehow scraped together all but a fair chunk of the western section, so I did something I never do and just went straight to Xwordinfo and started filling in answers down the list. What it sounded like in my brain while doing that: Oh, that was it. That clue sucked. Oh, that was it. That clue sucked. Oh, that was it. That clue sucked... And after all that, I still didn't get happy music, and finally figured out that it was because I had "AIM at" in 67A instead of AIMED, not realizing that "set" was past tense rather than present. If I had been thinking straight, I would have realized the ugly nonsense hash that made of 57 and 58D, but I was just so out of the mood by then that I was not firing on any cylinders whatsoever.

I don't watch Succession or CNN so that was a bona fide Natick for me.

The amount of clues about urban planning and construction was very weird.

Got YUCKED without crosses. You run into that phrase a lot (perhaps unsurprisingly) in Marvel movie discourse. No one hates hearing that you simply don't like the same things they like more than those people. (I don't hate Marvel movies, per se, but a good probably 90 percent of them just bore the s___ out of me.) Of course, "don't yuck my yums" is, when you really get down to it, just another way of saying "don't be an ___hole," which is literally the very lowest bar you can start at when contending with someone else's tastes, all other things being equal at the start. But if you're a baby about it after the tiniest bit of actual criticism, then I'll gladly go gloves-off and start yucking all the yums. Maybe if one mildly dissenting opinion turns you into a giant red diaper baby, it's a good sign that the thing you like actually maybe does suck, yeah?

DANK was a moment for sure. "Well, it could be that ... but I doubt it ... but, I mean, with these crosses ... surely not ... no way ... no way ... oh, come on!" I would never have bet that the phrase "dank memes" had NYT-level mainstream penetration. But I guess stranger things have happened in the year of our Lord 2022.

Xwordinfo did teach me that Mr. Wagner works at 1D. Hope he didn't pull a muscle slobbin' his employer's knob.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Not knowing PATREON, I was convinced gambling spot? was tIP with the question mark trickery. Like spotting someone tipping their hand. I still don’t get PIP

Nancy 9:27 AM  

I just looked up MOLTS, btw, and I can't make it fit the clue "Drops down?" "Drops OFF", yes, but not DROPS DOWN. I see others here dislike this clue as well.

andrew 9:38 AM  

Thanks to the puzzle, immediately thought of two late 60s songs, Monkey Man by Stones and Lemon Song by Zep. So after eventually finishing this enjoyable xword, blasted a night of raunch and roll!

“I'm a cold Italian pizza
I could use a lemon squeezer
Would you do?”

“Squeeze me baby, 'til the juice runs down my leg
The way you squeeze my lemon, ah
I'm gonna fall right out of bed.”

TJS 9:42 AM  

Rare, 100 percent agreement wit everything OFL says today. This was just an aggravating slog with no payoff. Sheesh...

pabloinnh 9:43 AM  

Have to admit I didn't see what was going on until the LEMONSQUARE/SQUEEZER intersection, even though I had the revealer already. I only noticed it then because I thought that a LEMONSQUEEZER was such a specific utensil that I doubt its existence.

Was gratified to see OFL's reaction to the EWAN/VAN cross, which I too found execrable. Worst holdup until then was ACEHIGH for ACEKING. Not at all helpful.

The BOSton Bruins have just set an NHL record for consecutive home wins at the start of a season. This is a big story if you live around here and/or are a hockey fan. I fit both these categories and so am amazed that anyone could think of UCLA for a Bruins clue. (I'm kidding, but only a little.)

I hesitate to call a puzzle tedious but this had a low fun factor. I learned UPZONE and PATREON and will work them into a conversation at the first opportunity, I. e. , never.

I think we just had a puzzle where answers took a ninety degree turn and now they're going off on tangents. This does not YUCK my yum, but it does harsh my mellow.

Very impressive feat of construction, AW. Anyone Would say so, and me too. Thanks for some fun, at least.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

I found this puzzle boring too. Wasn't familiar with JAPE so spent a lot of time trying to make WIGGLE/WILE work. Also very aggravated by the INNER CITY answer which commonly refers to deteriorating and impoverished urban areas, not the areas with the tallest buildings

Barbara S. 9:44 AM  

It seems like my solve was very much like @kitshef’s. I felt I never quite made it onto the constructor’s wavelength. I noticed most of the themers, but had a little selective blindness – like @okanaganer, I didn’t see SUPERSTAR/SUPERSTORM and wondered what the hell SUPERSTARs had to with weather forecasting. I didn’t notice that the tangential parts of the answers arise out of shapes until I read Rex, and I must say that knowledge made me like the puzzle more. But I’m probably admiring the theme more than liking it – it must have been murder to construct and for the most part Adam avoided bad stuff, so kudos to him. But the solve had its sloggy aspects.

Had a fakeout at 1A. I thought very briefly of PIP as a [Gambling spot?], but lacked the confidence to splatz it in. But I completed the NW corner very early for me. I just went east a little way, started getting some traction with GAEL, ELF, TENET, filled it ITLL BE FUN off those down-answers, came back to the NW corner, got ENO and GRAVEL [Rocky road topping?] (funny clue), then 2D's I PLAN TO and 3D's PELVIS, and whaddya know – soon the NW corner was done with 85% of the puzzle still to come.

UPZONE, yeah, a new one on me. 77D is one of those clues that’s so long, specialized, and wordy that by the end you’re too exhausted to summon up enough brain power to puzzle out the answer. I also found the EWAN/VAN cross brutal and I actually watch Succession (out of some deep-seated masochism, I often think).

WIND-UP TOY was reminiscent. My father, who in many ways remained a big kid all his life, was impossible to buy gifts for. He hated Christmas – thought it was disgustingly commercial – and always said he didn’t want anything. But the rest of us were Christmas fans and insisted on celebrating, presents and all. My mother, out of sheer desperation, hatched the notion of buying my father WIND-UP TOYS. This was a big hit and he got one or more every year for a decade and a half, so ended up with quite a collection. They’re gone now except for the very first one he ever got, which I still have. It’s a metal crow that hops up and down and then pauses, cocks its head and says, “Caw, caw, caw.” And, you know, it still works – not as well as it did on December 25, 1964, but after 58 years, I find its performance near-miraculous.

I don’t follow professional sports at all now, but in the Bruins’ heyday I was a big fan of the Orr-Esposito-Cashman-Bucyk-Smith-Cheevers team. In a time before players wore helmets, I had a hopeless crush on Derek Sanderson on the strength of his mussable-looking hair and his bad-boy personality. At one point I wrote to the team and asked for a jersey, which I didn’t quite get – it was more like a long-sleeved t-shirt emblazoned with the Bruins’ logo. You couldn’t get it off me during the playoffs (in which, of course, the Bruins of that day were always serious contenders).

I tried to link to both Eartha Kitt's and Yves Montand's versions of the song C'EST SI BON, and was going to dazzle you with my comparative insights, but I couldn't get Blogger to accept either URL even though both were standard Youtube fare. Oh, well.

Help, help. I don’t understand 36A [Ante alternative] being BLIND. Is this poker terminology that I don’t know?

Missed two important things in the last 2 days: wishing @egs’s wife a fast recovery, and @Rex a happy birthday.

[SB: Friday and Saturday, both -1. I was pretty pleased with that yesterday, given the massive list of words they wanted. Here are my misses and you know something? They’re not very interesting.]

Sixthstone 9:46 AM  

Thumbs down from me. I just blazed past the theme gimmick really not paying it any heed. The fill was mediocre at best with plenty of 3-letter throwaways and standard crosswordese (e.g., ENO, YEA, EEK, STS, ALT, ETE, etc.). I commend the imagination of the creator for coming up with the theme, but (like many thematic ideas) the bent-shape conceit did not add any joy for the solver. I'm with Rex on this one--just a Sunday slog.

Sixthstone 9:47 AM  

Quick addition: At least we got an ALE and BONGHIT to add some life to this "party."

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Down… like feathers.

RooMonster 10:05 AM  

Hey All !
Not especially easy-peasy LEMON SQUEEZER today. Took the ole brain a minute to cotton on to what was happening. Kept wanting KEPI (35A) to be the word that went with the tangent. I was like, "What in the heck is KEPING?" See also AGACK. But, was able to process that the tangents started below the first circle, not the same row as the circle. Then it became clear.

But, didn't see the non-tangent-straight-across words were all shapes. So the Revealer made not too much sense. I read it as since the answers went up at a 45° angle, that was good enough to be BENT OUT OF SHAPE. The SHAPE didn't register as an actual shape. Silly brain.

A stupid DNF (FWE) today. AIMat for AIMED, regardless that GRa and AIt made no sense.Alao missed the Y at CLAYTILE/KAY. Had a throw-in-a-letter-and-hope L there. Natick! at Rex's EWAN/VAN. Had an E for the A. With names, you never know. I'm sure there's someone out there named VEN.

An overall good theme concept, but something seemed a tad off in the execution. I see a Q, J, and Z, so I'm assuming it's a Pangram without actually looking. Neat puz, but I apparently missed the joke. It Whoosed over the ole head. CEST la vie.

Four F's

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

What puzzle were you playing!? Xwese from the NW corner alone has: PIP, JAPE, GAEL, ENO. I thought it was littered with horrible answers and mundane clues. With the mind-numbing theme trying to carry my interest to the end, this was a total dud. I feel like we haven’t seen a great Sunday puzzle in months. (Years!?)

Lizard Breath 10:10 AM  

I think it’s dropping “down” as in feathers

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

It’s not that VAN and EWAN are total unknowns, but that crossing them with these clues is unnecessarily causing solvers to rely on asinine trivia. It’s just poor form.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

DANK memes is a term mostly used and known on Reddit. Search their r/dankmemes for examples. It’s a terrible clue. Just clue it related to cannabis like we all know it…

Chris B. 10:18 AM  

A Google search of "air lanes" might make it seem like that is a real term in aviation, but it's not, at least not in the US (can't speak for the rest of the world). Airways yes, air lanes no. Literally never heard of the latter.

Source: am airline pilot.

Wanderlust 10:21 AM  

Well I thought this was a very weak theme until I came here and discovered that the tangents were coming out of shapes. I hadn’t noticed that at all while solving. Once I learned that, I wasn’t quite so “bent out of shape” about its weakness, but I do agree it wasn’t the greatest to solve.

Like Rex, my main trouble was around the revealer. Part of the problem was the kealoaulu (I am really pushing that one!) of DOPES/DOltS/DOdoS. I went with DodoS, crossing oWeN (I have never watched “Succession”). Since I wasn’t seeing PAVED ROADS at all, I thought the CNN Jones could be beN, keN, jeN, leN … Like Rex, I have no interest in cable news. I am staying with my father and stepmother for the holiday weekend and they have MSNBC on during every waking hour. While I appreciate that we are in political alignment (unlike some of my Fox acolyte siblings), I still have to frequently retreat to my room to avoid the relentless political yammering.

Speaking of kealoaulus, I thought that JAPE, JokE and JibE (“bit of chicanery”) was another example, but I always mix up jibe and gibe. But “Jape, Joke and Gibe” would be a good name for an erudite rockabilly song.

Dad and stepmom are two of the few remaining people who would still accept an AREA MAP as a welcome center handout. Dad still does not believe GPS has been invented. Frequent conversation when I am
setting out somewhere here where they live:

Dad: Do you know how to get there?
Me: I’ll put it into the phone.
Dad: You just take Manchester Road until you get to the first stoplight after the Arby’s and you turn right …
Me: Uh huh (pretends to be listening while I think about what I will have for lunch)

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Oh my god, I think you put words to my exact experience in a much more eloquent and thoughtful way than I wanted: “[redacted]”

I know of don’t yuck my yum in the discourse of kink culture as a response to kink-shaming. Never heard it outside of that context.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Totally disagree. I thought this was clever and fun. Not the *best* Sunday ever, if course, but nowhere as bad as most of you think it was.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Thanks for clarifying this, I thought maybe I had been living under a rock (far below the AIRLANES).

bocamp 10:32 AM  

Thx, Adam, for this SHAPEly offering! :)


I won't say I'm BENT OUT OF SHAPE, but I'm definitely conFUSEd. Have at least one error, but can't find it, so I PLAN TO try to set it RIGHT sooner or later. 🀞

@pablo, Sun Volt

I've come down to one blank SQUARE on the Stumper; can't grok 'Scrub hub' nor 'Verb for the past', so one lonely cell remains unfilled. πŸ˜”
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Agree with Rex about much of the clueing. Not enjoyably clever, just obscure in an odd way. Paved road being a prime example - pave road, paving road maybe work for "residential construction project" - but once it is paved, it's no longer a project, right? Fun fact: early efforts to get roads paved in the US were led by cyclists, not motorists!

Barbara S. 10:51 AM  

Forgot to link to Anigrams, our constructor Adam Wagner's word game.

Julie 10:56 AM  

What Rex said. Tedious. DNF because I had to look up several names in entertainment and sports.

Jyqm 11:02 AM  

Anyone else kind of tickled that Rex apparently doesn't know anything about zoning? I always thought that was one of those things that, unless you live in a very rural area, you just sort of end up knowing and caring about as an adult. You know, because you live somewhere and you care about how the place where you live is developed.

I dunno, maybe UPZONE is a far more obscure term than I think it is. But I feel fairly confident saying that at least the large majority of New Yorkers solving today's New York Times crossword puzzle filled in that answer without much hesitation.

Nancy 11:04 AM  

Aha! That's pretty neat. Thank you, @Lizard Breath (10:10).

Carolita 11:05 AM  

Found this to be a major slog, even though I got the theme early on -- although didn't see the shapes until Rex's write-up. Too many vague clues. Too many Naticks, e.g. paved roads, so arbitrary. Have heard of a kepi, but didn't know it was French. Was trying so hard to make it beret. Finally got it from the crosses. This was no fun AND a DNF, which I loathed!

Son Volt 11:10 AM  

@bocamp 10:32a - the “verb” descriptor got me at first and if we ever saw it earlier in the week it would most likely get a sp. qualifier. The scrub clue i thought was pretty cute.

Top notch effort if that was your last block.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I don’t understand the answer to 36 across. How is BLIND an alternative to ANTE? Why didn’t Rex help us with this one. Is it so obvious? Jim

Anonymous 11:18 AM  


Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Found this a pretty breezy Sunday puzzle. Laughed at a handful of answers, and was only annoyed by one; ‘smearer’, (said no one ever). Often a bit perplexed by all the angst and drama in the comments. It’s a puzzle. Some are better than others. Something one does for…fun?

other David 11:20 AM  

Wow. "inner city" is what y'all out in Whitelandia probably still call a "ghetto" (and even "inner city" is no longer considered current). No tallest buildings there, just poor people the city planners want to "upzone" out of sight (and existence).

Some 19th century slang along with 21st century slang which may or may not be used outside of crossword word lists, I really wouldn't know. Oh, look at that, apparently "jape" reached the level of use in 2019 it had in 1819 or so. Who knew?

Speaking of 100+ year old references, "fuse box"? Really? Should have had "knob and tube" as an answer somewhere in the puzzle as well.

Ani DiFranco "folk"? Sure. Maybe. Sorta. Certainly not primarily.

This slog felt all over the place to me, with a ton of very poor cluing. Nothing I'd take home to mother...

Suzafish 11:31 AM  

Found this a pretty breezy Sunday puzzle. Laughed at a handful of answers, and was only annoyed by one; ‘smearer’, (said no one ever). Often a bit perplexed by all the angst and drama in the comments. It’s a puzzle. Some are better than others. Something one does for…fun?

Sam Ross 11:33 AM  

“Unpleasant chore” – seconded

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Too many names. Finished it but a slog. Would have been more fun with more “bent” clues.

Ellen 11:54 AM  

Had wape/wiggle for a while

Tom T 11:55 AM  

Definitely a slog; had the top half plus filled completely and ran out of steam last night. Finished this morning, but never did grasp the shapes gimmick.

But I do love those HDWs (Hidden Diagonal Words), so there's that, I suppose.

I'll call it C'EST SI comme ca.

My Name 11:56 AM  

I think that @Rex explains the theme entries incorrectly. Going off on a tangent means to continue in a straight line when a bend is intended, like when a drop of water flies off of the rotating wheel. Accordingly, it's the clue elements of the theme answers that are bent _as intended_ and the unclued ones that go off on a (straight line) tangents.

Ellen 11:57 AM  


GG 11:57 AM  

I thought "Patreon" was way too obscure for a 1-down.

sixtyni yogini 12:00 PM  

Thought many of the clues were excellent - mind openers! πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ€—πŸ‘πŸ½
But as for theme—um….so what?😏
On the other hand, enjoyed the solve-gettable but not totally giveawayable, not a bore as one (I) might expect on a Sunday.😎

Teedmn 12:00 PM  

I had to wait until after I finished before I found my way onto the tangents - I kept starting on the wrong line and had to wonder what ALEEZER or KEPING was. (If I'd started with INNER CITY, it would have been obvious). I really have to give Adam Wagner props for getting all of the non-theme endings into shapes, which I suppose is what 85- and 86-D are telling me, d'oh!

I had so many erasures today, it isn't funny. I thought a good Texas Hold-em hand would be two pair. I wanted a WaIST band for 54D. I read 67A's "Set" as present tense for nearly the entire solve. I wIGGLEd before I JIGGLEd. And so on and so forth.

"Drops down?" for MOLTS, very nice misdirection and crossing the clue for MORPHS made that a hard section to conquer.

Adam, this is a very clever puzzle, thanks!

Diego 12:02 PM  

@Lewis 7:16 says, paraphrasing here: This is an example of a puzzle that allows the maker to create and parade his chops—unbeknownst to most solvers. Likewise, the pleasure of the solver is NOT top-of-mind. And this explains in part my YUCK response—and many others here—to yet another tired Sunday slog. Lewis refers to Wagner’s drive for “art and quality,” the elements of which most solvers usually don’t get. Well, now we all know why we fail to appreciate stellar construction; we just can’t see it. Right!

sixtyni yogini 12:04 PM  

Molts = drops (duck) down

Joseph Michael 12:14 PM  


Beezer 12:15 PM  

It is with a heavy heart I report I pretty much agree with every comment of @Rex today. It MIGHT be that I didn’t check my “info” button to see the puzzle name/theme or whatnot but I don’t think so. And don’t get me started on PAVEDROADS, is this the 1920s?
Well, I’ll quit my RANT and say thanks @Nancy for asking about MOLTS cuz I forgot about it and didn’t think of duck/geese feathers while solving.

When I saw CESTSIBON I thought of the song (which I Googled…Eartha Kitt) which had a send up by Allan Sherman (predecessor to Weird Al) called “I See Bones”…I see bones, I see beautiful bones…and a few kidney stones…among those lovely bones.

Barbara S. 12:19 PM  

@BLIND people

I also asked the question about "ante" and BLIND. See #3 of this excerpt from Oxford Languages:

adverb: blind
1. without being able to see clearly.
"he was the first pilot in history to fly blind"
2. without having all the relevant information; unprepared.
"he was going into the interview blind"
3. (of a stake in poker and other games) put up by a player before the cards dealt are seen.

I'm not sure this entirely helps but it's a start.

Mhoonchild 12:29 PM  

It would appear that Rex and a few commenters here do not live in cities where city planners are always in conflict with the NIMBYs who do not want to give up their precious single-family neighborhoods in favor of higher density development close in to the "center city." UPZONE is definitely a term that is well-known to Seattle residents these days, and refers to increased density, not necessarily height.

Joely 12:30 PM  

Too many black squares, just a very bad puzzle nothing else to add.

Ken Freeland 12:38 PM  

True, and ViN /EWiN is an equally possible answer for those unfamiliar with either...

bocamp 12:45 PM  

@Son Volt (11:10 AM)

Thx; I'm pretty sure the rest of the fill is correct. It's my task today to try to suss out that elusive letter, as well as to discover my error/s in today's NYT' puz.
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

No Rex, you called it like it was.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

When ducks molt they drop their down!

MetroGnome 1:10 PM  

How is BLIND an "ante alternative"?

gwen 1:15 PM  

i also loved this puzzle!

Gary Jugert 1:17 PM  

Welp, there's yer Sunday. Took me forever even though nothing seemed particularly challenging. I guess it wasn't on the same wavelength as me.

The theme is torturous, but thankfully was minimal and irrelevant to the solve.

JAPE and DANK weren't in my noggin. Succession seems to be the latest darling TV show of constructioneering.

BONG HIT DOPES are in the same column as a sort homage to the NYTXW editors. I guess we'd rather they do what they do than live in a GRIFTER VAN. SMEARER mirrors seem inferior. I'm guessing the OBAMAS YUCKED when they learned who they'd be having over for dinner in 2015.


1 Cult leaders planning indoctrinations.
2 Bleep, blop, shedoowah, skelunk.
3 One sweet highway.
4 Disgruntled family member threatens to rid the world of those misguided family portraits.
5 Apparatus largely eliminated by battery powered alternatives.


johnk 1:21 PM  

"Blinds are placed by the first two players sitting to the left of the dealer. These are forced bets that the first two players have to place."
I just looked this up, after solving with the down crosses.

Wanderlust 1:30 PM  

Regarding BLIND as alternative to an ante - in Texas Hold ‘Em, two players put out blinds before cards are dealt, one low and one high (say $1 and $2). The blinds move clockwise around the table from player to player each hand and get raised at certain points (say to $2 and $4). At some point the high one gets so costly that it could affect the ability of a player on a bad streak to keep playing. In most other games of poker (like five-card draw), everyone antes the same amount before the cards are dealt. “Ante” obviously comes from “before” and “blind” (I assume) is because you put out the money before you see any cards.

Kevin 1:38 PM  

I can't believe that the clue for PAVED ROAD as "Residential construction project" hasn't been more thoroughly pilloried. That makes as much sense as cluing a residential construction project for "ELECTRIC GRID" or "SEWER SYSTEM." Yes, I guess residential streets are generally paved, but so as commercial streets. If anything, commercial streets are far more likely to be paved than residential ones. Has anyone ever ridden on a dirt interstate?

The clue was so off that I kept looking at it when I have _A_EDROAD to see if I was mis-parsing it and that it wasn't a two-word phrase breaking between the D and R.

No, admittedly, the situation was made worse by my totally justifiable use of DODOS instead of DOPES. So, I was actually looking at DA_EDROAD and coming up with nothing even after running the alphabet through there.

(I had OW_N as the cross instead of EWAN, so I assumed it was OWEN, leaving me with _EN as a name. That could easily have been the end of BEN, JEN, KEN, LEN, or REN.)

If the nattick of VAN/EWAN had not existed (by cluing the common noun VAN as a vehicle), the puzzle would have all fallen into place, even if I would still have been hesitant to write in PAVED ROAD.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

An ANTE is the amount each player in a poker game pays into the pot before a hand is dealt. A BLIND is the same idea except it is paid only by (typically) the two players sitting to the left of the dealer. In other words, a BLIND is an ANTE paid only by some of the players on a rotating basis.

okanaganer 1:52 PM  

[SB: @Barbara S, nice work, your vocab is impressive. yd pg-3, missed these. The 5er was a should've that I miss about 30% of the time, the 6er is only vaguely familiar, and the 8er is baffling, cuz I'm an astronomy buff and it is news to me.]

burtonkd 1:53 PM  

@anon 9:44 & other Dave - The answer is INNERCIRCLE not CIty. Think about cities with beltways or are otherwise built with a central business district. The further out one goes, the shorter the buildings get (downzoning?).

I liked this better than most. Some good clues and the wheelhouse was all over the AREAMAP. Before PIP, I had ACE, then PIT. Thanks @Barbara for posting the "blind" def - I knew it was a kind of bid, but hadn't thought past that.

Not usually bothered by ! clues, but not a fan of "That's the spirit!" today.

I definitely enjoy Rex more pre-Thanksgiving to the too much alcohol at night version. Lewis described the theme perfectly well - between the revealer and the title, it didn't seem that obtuse (get it?).

I'm probably too late in the day to get an answer to this: I read this blog most days, but don't remember anything about @Z taking a break, leaving entirely, or worse. Does anyone know? Perhaps one too many troll anonymice, but I fear for the worst...

The Joker 2:09 PM  

One "hate" is sufficient for LOATHE (100A). Maybe I'm a snowflake but there was too much hate in that clue.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

For once I agree with Rex. While I know Pitch Perfect, never know any sports (and the extent I do, also thought UCLA)....but what stupid, vague cluing. Agree utterly re UPZONE and esp. PAVED ROAD. And lemon squares aren't needed for juicing; it's,the other way around! I thought it might be steroid-related, of some kind. Never picked up on the shape theme at all and still had to look at it closely to understand the circled letters, even after I read Rex' explanation. This was for me by far the worst Sun. puzzle in a long long time. 🀨

Anoa Bob 2:34 PM  

The "blind" and "ante" connection has appeared in NYTXWs before and probably will again. I'm a poker player. Blinds and antes are not alternatives. They are both obligatory bets before the cards are dealt. This ensures there will be $ in the pot on every hand. Blinds are used in a few games like Texas Hold'Em. The two players to the left of the dealer have to post blinds. Antes are in most poker games. Every player must post them.

I learned about tangents in H.S geometry where CIRCLE, SQUARE and TRIANGLE were among the SHAPEs with exact definitions but not HEART or STAR. That part of the theme was NOT OK if yous ask me.

Having lived on one in Tennessee as a wee lad, 24A "Rocky road topping?" deceived me not at all. It really was a dirt road. Occasionally they would come through and put GRAVEL on it. That would last a day or two by which time all the GRAVEL was knocked aside by traffic and it was a dirt road again. It was an enormous improvement when they finally had a "Residential construction project" and it became a PAVED ROAD (104A).

Anon 3:12 PM  

I agree that ROKER/KEPI was a Natick.

Georgia 3:17 PM  

Nor do I .... ?!

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

99 Across are really “org”s

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

Found theme interesting but too many naticks and like many I found the clueing and fill sloggish. Too many very strange clues without that aha! moment puzzlers love! Perhaps too many of us suffering from tryptophan stuffed turkeys. A lighter puzzle next year please for Thanksgiving weekend!

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Hated hated HATED this puzzle.

Usually I can finish even when it's a bit of a slog but this one... way too many googles, finally just quit.

I did get the shapes at the end of the theme clues, but... what was the point of that? There was no relation to the supposed theme at all.

Awful. Worst Sunday I've seen in years.

pabloinnh 5:04 PM  

@bocamp-What @Son Volt said about the "verb for the past". It's a spelling I've seen but I taught a foreign language for years. Also agree with his opinion on "scrub hub".

Go get 'em, and good luck.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

Summary of the W.S. note that accompanies the print version of today's puzzle:

- Free plug for constructor's employer
- Revealer is at 85 & 86 D, in case you're to stupid to find it yourself
- Spoiler: some answers "branch out," in case you didn't get it from the revealer AND the title
- Free plug for constructor's online word game

I have pretty much trained myself not to read these notes before solving, but today the words "branched out, literally" caught my eye as I was looking at the first couple of Across clues. I probably would have figure out the theme without this unwanted spoiler, but now we'll never know, will we?

bocamp 5:26 PM  

Finally discovered my gaff; had CLAm Tile in lieu of CLAY TILE. Didn't know KAY Cannon, so KAm seemed reasonable. Have queued 'Pitch Perfect' for later viewing.

@Sun Volt, Pablo re: The Sat. Stumper

On a PUREr note: went with the only thing that made any sense for 'Scrub hub' and voila! success! :) (the Verb, regardless of sp. was an unknown)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Unknown 5:33 PM  

For Anonymous (re pip): pips are the small symbols (hearts, diamonds, etc.) on the face of playing cards. This meaning of pip is so obscure that Mermiam-Webster online doesn't include it among multiple definitions of the word. To be fair, M-W does have pip as "one of the dots used on dice and dominoes to indicate numerical value", which I guess could also be a gambling connection. Being a life-long poker player, I knew about pips on cards (and blinds!), but still hesitated at first to write pip into 1.Across. I'd never heard of Patreon and also had trouble with 16.Across (Bit of chicanery), probably because I'd originally entered wiggle instead of jiggle for 16.Down (Shake a little). Eventually, everything came together, but for me the NW corner was by far the most challenging part of the puzzle.

On another topic, is anyone keeping track of the percentage of Sunday NYT puzzles Rex actually likes? My guess is it's less than 10%. Nearly every week, I finish the puzzle and think, "This one is well constructed, has a clever theme and some inspired fill. Rex will surely give it at least a decent review." Every week I am wrong!

Masked and Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Kinda late to the party. What everyone else said, tho. But, hey -- if U got lemons, make lemonsqueezers.
Theme was a cool idea for a 15x15 WedPuz. With just CIRCLE, SQUARE, TRIANGLE themers, plus the very primo revealer, of course.

staff weeject pick: There were three tangential weejects, of which ACK was my fave. The other 35 regular weejects had some primo stuff, too. But, I prefer to go off on a tangent.

fave answers: The BORG. The GRAVEL clue paired with the PAVEDROAD follow-up [yo, @AnoaBob).

Thanx, Mr. Wagner dude. PATREONic and shapely.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


Anonymous 5:54 PM  

I got stuck at “dank.” I mean, I had the -ank” and thought of dank, and then said to myself, “Dang, it can’t be dank. Who on Earth describes a meme as dank?” And so, I left dank blank for a while. Oh, well …

Smith 6:21 PM  

Ha, I know PATREON because of my millennial son, so thought I was off to a good start. Weirdly the east filled in first and I had a lot of...shapes...at the...end...of...answers....

Shapes? Tangent? The answer to that clue has to be RIGHTTRack, why doesn't it fit... why is there a TRIANGLE instead? Meteorologists are interested in...STARs? And who calls downtown the INNERCIRCLE? Staring at a half filled puzz, going, T Y ? And then I saw it.

Writeovers, hEavy before DENSE (maybe describing self?), reZONE.. Also ACE???G for too long.

So, medium, but liked it a tad more than OFL.

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

Crosswordese might be annoying but for me that makes the NW easier. E.g. Gael was just in a puzzle a few days ago.
I would agree that the least important brother in the Succession family is a stretch.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Drops "down" as in feathers. Molt makes more sense to me in that case.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

Pips are on cards, hence gambling spot.

dgd 6:52 PM  

Good point. I didn't see the tangent right away so I missed the connotation you picked up.
But I suppose they would say: Close enough for crosswords.

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

I had VIN/TWIN and LANEDROAD which felt no sillier than some of the other answers.

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

I hated it. Made me want to consider stopping the Sunday Times because its crossword has become such a let down.

beverly c 7:18 PM  

Thanks everyone for your entertaining comments. So much humor!

I ended up working that Dolts/dodos/DOPES VAN/EWAN section like a Rubik’s cube, until suddenly the happy music came.

MOLTS gave me my only chuckle. BONGHIT and BORG had me paying attention.

Since I read @Lewis I feel like a meanie to criticize this puzzle, but SMEARER? And I could stand YUCKED if it referred to laughter.
Never heard DANK in relation to memes. But memes aren’t my thing…

Paul C 8:19 PM  

Is it OK to promote the name of your company in a puzzle you write?

CreamyT 8:28 PM  

Naticked on VAN/EWAN, although in retrospect I feel like I should've guessed an "A" first. But the cluing bothered me more than this (or a couple other potential) naticks. Best example of this was "Contents of a house box" or something like that. Just annoyingly vague and uninteresting. There's no "aha!" feeling when you discover it. It's like searching for an object in a room with the lights off. Why not just "Things in certain containers"!? Vageuness is not a fun way to make it hard, and if it's not fun, don't make it hard for the sake of it.

Anonymous 8:42 PM  
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MkB 8:56 PM  

The EWAN clue was bad, but what other letter could go in there but A?

The Ewens of the world would like to speak with you.

TAB2TAB 10:13 PM  

Top third went in very quickly, but the rest was so out of my wheelhouse. Wow.

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

Couldn’t agree more! The reason a puzzle can be infuriating is because it highlights how out of touch and uncool the editors and puzzle makers can sometimes be. If I see ALT-rock in a puzzle again I’m going to cry.

Anonymous 11:15 PM  

In Texas hold ‘em for example you have blinds and double blinds vs an ante.

Anonymous 1:33 AM  

I’m pretty sure the definition of JAPE is a practical joke or something dine in jest, which is not the same as CHICANERY which is defined as deception or underhanded trickery.

DrBB 4:09 AM  

A slog, yup, for all the reasons stated. I do want to point out that YUCKED isn't such a contrived kludge of a word as all that. I've yucked it up with friends lots of times. And then there's this definition in the Urban Dictionary:

When you sneeze hard enough where there is a projectile snot.

Trina 7:47 AM  

All of the above.

And surprised more weren’t critical of STARS and HEARTS. Those are not the same as TRIANGLES, CIRCLES and what ever the 5th was - SQUARES?


Also no one (that I noticed) mentioned the inclusion of SAW twice. (RIPSAW and SEASAWS). I thought that violated some unwritten NYTX rule. Anyone?

redwood 12:58 PM  

isn't putting your employer's name in the puzzle PATREON (never heard of it) wrong????? did he pay for that ad?????

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Patreon? Yucked? “Pitch Perfect”? While it is important to keep up with changes in language, some of these clues are so obscure to those who started doing the NYT puzzle in 1970.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

I'm pleased that recognizing concept gets its due here. Some folks wouldn't recognize a conif it bit them on the leg.

Anonymous 7:12 PM  
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Unknown 3:50 PM  

Users should be more accepting of obscure entries. Opens up new brain cells. Also, people who make critical comments should at the same time give due credit to the creators. If it weren't for them we would have no puzzles at all. How many criticizers could even create an easy puzzle?

Lauren 9:10 PM  

I came to your site specifically to read your review. I did not enjoy this puzzle at all. The clues were either too cute or obscure, and I especially disliked the author’s plug for his own company in one-down. Ditto on being frustrated about the letters on the tangents having nothing to do with anything.

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

Agree pretty much.

Gmartini 5:57 PM  

Painful puzzle.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Not that I want to YUCK Mr. Wagner's yum, but here's some more idiotic slang. I think maybe the puzzle ought to be UPZONEd. Bogey.

Wordle birdie--and fly, Eagles, fly!

Burma Shave 4:20 PM  


when IAM on the RIGHTTRACK TO please her,
and if IT'SWAR, she'll WINDUP the winner.
IPLANTO have a WHIZBANG start,


rondo 4:32 PM  

Perhaps the most interesting things in this puz are a PAVEDROAD and another as GRAVEL (no tar). ANI DiFranco, YEA baby.
Wordle eagle! After a BBYYY start.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

This puzzle made my illness worse. Just too OUTRE.

Brett Alan 1:45 AM  

The syndicated version of the puzzle uses the editor's suggested revised title, "Go Figure", instead of "Go On A Tangent". I guess that's a good thing because it gives a hint to the unclued answers.

Surprised no one has complained about the rather obscure Rick James title reference. The song reached #102 on the Billboard pop chart.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

I had DODOS for 95D which led me to OWEN for 108A and never recovered. Don’t have cable and don’t live in North America so I never had a chance with Van Jones

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