Sorrento and Telluride / WED 1-4-23 / Amazon-owned home Wi-Fi brand / First of the Chinese dynasties

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Constructor: Laura Breiman and Tom Bachant

Relative difficulty: It felt hard but my time was standard-- 6:40

THEME: CELESTIAL BODIES — Various space things are spelled out in circles:
  • MOON
  • STAR

Word of the Day: "The Song of the LARK" (Willa Cather novel) —
Cather achieved recognition as a novelist of the frontier and pioneer experience. She wrote of the spirit of those settlers moving into the western states, many of them European immigrants in the nineteenth century. Common themes in her work include nostalgia and exile. A sense of place is an important element in Cather's fiction: physical landscapes and domestic spaces are for Cather dynamic presences against which her characters struggle and find community.
• • •

Hey besties, welcome to another addition of Malaika MWednesday! I write to y'all from Mexico City where I will be vibing for the next several weeks. Tonight I was sipping on some mezcal from a brand called Mala Idea, which means "bad idea"-- I loooove that name. I have a zillion things to say about this puzzle, so let's dive in!

First of all.... I think I know one of the constructors?? Like not as in "we talk on Twitter" but as in she and my sister went to the same very small middle school together roughly fifteen years ago and we would sometimes give her a ride to school and watch episodes of Psych in the car but we have not interacted since then. Laura, if you are ISK Laura, hi! Crazy running into you here.

Next, let's talk about the theme. I think this type of theme sits very well on a Wednesday. It doesn't fit into one of the Standard Crossword Themes (TM), like "add a letter to make a wacky phrase" or "all the last words can follow the same word" but it isn't quite diabolical enough for a Thursday. And "reading the letters in the circles" is definitely a Known Crossword Concept, but I've never seen it executed with this subject matter.

Arranging letters into those patterns is very tough from a constructing standpoint, and I am impressed that we still got some fun answers like OREO THIN and WEIRDOS and MAGENTA. There were some harder things-- for example, I am very much a Tech Girl but had never heard of EERO. Had y'all? I also don't love to see random Roman numerals, like CDL, in a puzzle, but at least they gave it an easy clue! And, I am positive I have complained about NOES as the plural of "no" on this very website and I am also positive that the commenters have reassured me that it is correct actually. But it just looks so weird!!

What I loved most about this puzzle was the grid design (soo pretty) and the revealer, which reminded me of the "Heavenly Bodies" theme of the 2018 Met Gala. (Actually, I literally thought the theme was CELESTIAL BODIES until I just now Googled it to find out what year that happened.) Any entry that reminds me of these legends is a welcome sight.

My least favorite thing about the puzzle was the shapes of the theme answers. Whenever there's some attempt at turning the squares of a puzzle into a shape, people will argue about whether it was successful or not. For example, I loved this duck, but other people didn't see it at all. I liked the depiction of COMET here, but the rest didn't quite convince me.... MOON in particular was depicted as a square.... I don't know much but I know that moons are not squares. And isn't our GALAXY more of a spiral shape than a large circle? What did y'all think? Maybe I just don't know enough about space!

  • ["Evita" setting: Abbr.] for ARG: One thing I hate is when an entry has an existing modern meaning, but the editors at The Times pick a clunkier or more dated reference. To me, ARG is a common term in Python programming, but instead they chose to use a kinda random abbreviation. :/ (See also, GIT and LOCS.)
  • [Type of car whose name comes from the French word for "cut"] for COUPE: A coupe is also a type of glassware. I was recently at a party where a friend was drinking out of one and she said "I have a fun fact-- but don't fact check it!!" The fact was that the first coupe glasses were molded after Marie Antoinette's breasts and indeed that is very fun and I will never fact check it.
  • [Circus barker?] for SEAL: Nothing to say here beyond I loved this clue!
xoxo Malaika

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 1:52 AM  

I couldn’t disagree with this review more. I rolled my eyes through this easier-than-a-Monday drivel. Not a single hang up, as the puzzle offered absolutely no resistance, no clever cluing. The cute theme was an afterthought as a solver, which really cheapened the experience. I have an EERO system in my home, but even without knowing it the crosses were insanely easy. What the heck is going on with NYT??

Anonymous 3:16 AM  

Fun puzzle! I thought the shapes were decent, and the revealer itself is a really pretty phrase. Great Wednesday.

jae 3:18 AM  

Medium. Clever idea with quite a bit of sparkle, liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW. Excellent debut!

...I mean any puzzle with a BIG DUMMY MUGGLE DROOLER...

EERO was a WOE and the X was the last square to fall.

Conrad 4:54 AM  

EERO: Total WOE, bordering on WTF. Had EchO first, with great (misplaced) confidence.

OffTheGrid 5:46 AM  

If my dog was as ugly as this puzzle I would shave his butt and teach him to walk backwards. As I all too frequently have to ask, "This was the best one available today?". JC's POW. Well, different strokes......and all that, I guess.

Breakfast Tester 5:59 AM  

Malaika, does your friend with the fun fact about champagne glasses happen to be named Emily? In Paris?? 🥂

About the theme... it's a big ugh.

Is a galaxy a celestial body?? Or is it actually comprised of them? And this is a rather pathetic galaxy. It sits among the other celestial bodies — not, more accurately, encapsulating them.

An asteroid is a celestial body, but I think this is supposed to depict an asteroid belt, which isn't, as far as I know. A tidy checkerboard asteroid belt, no less!

And those shapes! Square moon? Diamond star? The comet's path is borderline acceptable.

The cute idea is outweighed by the too-difficult-to-get-right execution. Nice try, but ET phone home.


Anonymous 6:16 AM  

Was on Amazon the other day--which itself ISN'T unusual--and just happened to see a reasonably priced mesh wifi, had never heard of the Eero brand, checked it out, and saw it was Amazon's house brand. Pure luck...and even moreso that I remembered it's name (remembering ANY name is my Achilles heel). Eer-ie! Gotta think I'll be in a fringe minority.

SouthsideJohnny 6:53 AM  

Did not have high hopes for this one when I noticed the NW corner squeezed in Harry Potter (MUGGLE), Spanish (AMORES) and whatever a SONOS is. The rest of it was kind of sloppy with XIA, DIA, CDL, EERO, NEMIA, KIA and the like as well. Hard to believe that they get hundreds and hundreds of submissions and this one was even in the top quartile. Would love to see what a talented constructor could do on a Wednesday without having to cram a (usually) distracting/boring theme into the grid.

Phillyrad1999 6:54 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle but was a also a little disappointed that the COMMET tailing off was an outlier. FYI Malaika, one of my guilty pleasures over the holidays was to binge watch Psyche. Almost made it thru season 4! It is my go to for treadmill workouts.

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

I love a theme you can ignore. Paid no attention to those circles, with no problem. @jae: hand up for finishing with X.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

I hate to be this negative two days in a row, but this is probably the worst grid art I’ve ever seen. Not one of the themers looks anything like the celestial object.

Okay, I’ll give partial credit to MOON and COMET because of the limitations of a 15x15 grid, but the rest, no. The others resemble their real-life equivalents as much as my left nostril resembles the Taj Mahal.

I do appreciate the placement of the two WoEs (SONOS, ROSEN) about as far away from each other as you can get.

And I'll defend ARG as more than a 'kinda random abbreviation'. It's the abbreviation used by the Olympics, the US State Department, FIFA, etc.

JJK 7:18 AM  

I have a (maybe) dumb question but I hope someone will take pity on me and explain what WOE stands for? I understand the meaning from the way people use it, but I wonder if it’s an acronym and if so, what the letters mean.

Bob Mills 7:26 AM  

DNF on account of the NE quadrant. Never heard of a MUGGLE, and UMNO is a terrible answer for "That doesn't work for me."

I'd be interested to know how many people understood LETSAT as an answer for "Unleashes on." GETSAT would be acceptable, also BATSAT. Maybe LETSAT is a variation of LETMEATHIM.

I agree that the shape of the circled letters is so random that it makes little sense.

SteckMark 7:29 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and a review that includes a description of alcohol! I didn't know the plural of no is NOES despite my former life as an MD. Who gnus? Speaking of which, GASTRIC would more accurately be clued STOMACH-related (specifically I was a GI doc, not to put to fine a point). I initially entered COLONIC. I am but a serf of crosswords.

Son Volt 7:38 AM  

Kicking off 1a with a kiddie lit reference sets the stage here. I solve on the app in dark mode so I don’t see the circles - they’re meaningless to me so this became a themeless.

Some nice fill here - the Fred Sanford inspired BIG DUMMY, WEIRDOS and CUBISTS all solid. Our bullmastiff was a DROOLER. Caitlin Cary.

ERNIE yesterday - ERNEST today. Seems lost without Frank. Loads of 3s and 4s here that glom up the grid. ESS, ARG, the ridiculous plural ETDS etc don’t help matters. Add TSKS and NOES to the unwanted plural list.

Not a puzzle for the solver.

All I wanted was a PEPSI - just one PEPSI

JNKMD 7:49 AM  

Gastric is stomach related. Enteric is"gut" related.

Dr.A 7:50 AM  

ARG as an abbreviation for Argentina is waaaay easier for me than ARG as code terminology!!! For me that would be ARGGGHHH!!! Lol, thanks Malaika.

Joaquin 7:57 AM  

Wow! The puzzle pedants are out early today. C'mon, it's a crossword puzzle not an astronomy textbook.

Lewis 8:05 AM  

MOON and COMET were easy to see as I was filling in the grid; I didn’t grok the other three until afterward. At one point while solving, I wondered if each of the separated letters of GALAXY were kinds of stars (X-star, Y-star, etc.), but that sorted out easily when I simply gazed at the grid post-solve.

I loved the streaking COMET, and the concept of visually representing astronomical bodies. Got me to thinking what a BLACK HOLE puzzle might entail…

This had to be a beast to design, with not a lot of choice as to what words to place in the grid. I’m glad that BIG DUMMY showed up – I literally broke into a smile when that filled in. Then other things appeared. Column eight with its three semordnilaps (BUN, NAP, BIN), a five-letter palindrome (SONOS), and I’m always happy to see our friendly dook GOON.

Finally, this puzzle – a world in a box – tripped off one of my favorite quotes ever: “You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop.” (Rumi)

So, all in all, a lovely grab-bag of treats. Congratulations, Laura and Tom, on your double debut, and I’m eagerly awaiting what you’re going to come up with next!

Alex W 8:09 AM  

I have no idea why asteroid is shaped like that

mmorgan 8:09 AM  

I never like circles in my puzzle but apart from that, this was fine. Thanks for the write-up, Malaika, but if ARG had been clued as you suggest, I’d never have gotten it.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

I have perpetuated the coupe glass myth many times and will never fact check because it is both silly and sexy and you can’t do better than that

TaylorSlow 8:13 AM  

Well, I'm no puzzle pedant, for sure, but I'm with those on the NOES side for this one. It fell into the "This one's for the constructors, not the solvers" category for me. I thought the positioning of GALAXY was clever, but is a GALAXY an actual "celestial body?" Don't think so. Never heard of EERO, and don't think I'm alone in that. I wouldn't define "eccentrics" as WEIRDOS--that one really clunked.

@Dr.A: Very funny, and I totally agree. A clue about "Python code programming" would have given me a DNF for sure!

Weezie 8:17 AM  

I asked the same question the other day, so echoing the hope for an explanation!

dan 8:18 AM  

I'm sorry to say, this puzzle's fill makes me extremely sad. If you need UMNO, GOON, LETSAT, ESS, and ARG all in the first row of downs, there's something deeply wrong with your grid, and just six rows down we get CDL, EERO (not the architect?!) and TSKS. ERAT, EPEES, ETTU, NOES? Like, I get that this (not to me all that exciting, but whatever) theme is constraining, but this is brutal. I was solving the thing going, "oh, no, not another one" repeatedly. I did enjoy the presentation of ASTEROID, and the fill there is ... okay. But the NW needs to be taken out and ..., uh, politely shown the door and told never to come back.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Amy: happy solver here. Liked this a lot. Thanks for the peppy write up, Malaika. Must agree with DrA posting at 7:50 about ARG. Evita and all (Don't Cry For Me, Argentina).

Weezie 8:44 AM  

@Malaika, being that you’re there at the perfect time of year, I HIGHLY recommend taking a day trip out of Mexico City to go see the monarchs at Santuario Piedra Herrada, or pairing it with a night or two in nearby Valle de Bravo. Seeing 20,000 monarchs clustered in an area of about an acre or so was truly a life-changing experience, even if the burro ride up and down the mountain left me sore for days. I did that in Jan 2020 and the magic of the trip was something I kept coming back to in the terrible early months of the pandemic in Brooklyn. And the car rental and drive was easy enough, and it’s a nice break from the bad winter air quality in DF. Annnnnyway….

Thank you @SteckMark for beating me to my “Well, actually…” of the day. (@Gary, re: yesterday, impressive that your niece managed to outgrow that trait, what’s her secret?!)

Joining my voice to the emerging consensus that ARG is way better for Argentina than a coding thing.

I’m no longer a JK Rowling fan, but muggle remains in my vocabulary. Chronically ill friends and I refer to getting, say, a common cold as being “muggle sick.” I.e.,
“really rude that I managed to get muggle sick after seeing my nephew over the holidays, on top of this dysautonomia flare.”

I seemed to like this puzzle much more than many of you, but I generally don’t care about (or for) crossword “art.” While I can appreciate the effort that goes into it, I’m here for the words, man!

“One leaving its pad quickly” stumped me for longer than I care to admit, DROOLER was cute, I learned a couple new pieces of trivia, and I now have this iconic exchange from The Craft stuck in my head:

Bus Driver: Watch out for those weirdos

Nancy (Fairuza Balk): We are the weirdos, mister

Well, this has been your latest random assemblage of Weezie thoughts; this is Weezie, signing off.

bocamp 8:46 AM  

Thx, Laura & Tom; a 'heavenly' construction! :)

Hi Malaika, good to see you again; thx for your write-up! :)


Just north of Wednes. avg, but felt a tad tougher.

Thx to GALAXY for confirming SOX / XIA.


LOO / Lav kea/loa.

Took up 'fencing' at college.

Love my SONOS 'speaker' (Alexa compatible).

'Shades' of MAGENTA are so soothing.

Have always remembered the mnemonic, 'neither financier seized either WEIRD species of leisure'.

LETS AT seemed awkward.

Fave clue was for ACCENT.

Unknowns/hazies/learnings: MUGGLE; XIA; ROSEN; EERO; KIAS; COUPE.

Fun solve! :)

Hooray! finally got a New Yorker Mon. right, and an Anna Shechtman at that! 🎉
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Actually got the theme during the solve (normally I just plow through) and used it to fill in GALAXY and STAR. Too bad I went the wrong way around for STAR and that confused me for a bit. Esp since NOES is news to me but nows I knows it.

I have a bigger quibble with the clue though since the answer doesn’t meet either an abbreviation hinted at by RSVP or as what an actual RSVP response would be. If someone takes the time to invite you formally, your response is to ‘decline’ not say ‘no’.

kitshef 8:59 AM  

@JJK 7:18: WoE or WOE = 'what on earth?'

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

The eero mesh system is actually great. Very user friendly and helped spread the Wi-Fi in my home. Four and a half stars, would recommend.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

It’s an insider secret.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

I work in medicine (not a doctor) and thought the same! Put it in only because I had the G and knew xws like to use gastro-…

Dorkito Supremo 9:08 AM  

I wondered about this for a long time. What On Earth, which I guess is more polite than WTF.

pabloinnh 9:13 AM  

Not my cuppa, as some of us are fond of saying. After MOON and COMET up top it was pretty obvious what was going on, and then you have Mr. Revealer smack dab in the middle, where he just doesn't belong. Mildly entertaining to find and connect the letters for GALAXY, but that was about it. I kept thinking of the poor guy who submitted thirty eight puzzles, and decided that at least thirty of them had to be better than this one.

I know this was probably submitted some time ago, but the best clue for ARG should have something to do with a sporting event that ended not too long ago.

My late father-in-law was named ELMER, know to the world at large as "Spike" for obvious reasons.

Congrats on the debut, LB and TB. Perhaps I'll Look Back and Think Better of this almost stunt puzzle some day and enjoy it more, but for now, thanks for some fun.

alaina 9:21 AM  

This is a weird gripe but I hate clues like 45A’s “Xia.” Should have been written like “early Chinese dynasty” and not “first” because that’s too damn ambiguous. These types of clues piss me off— the ‘correct’ answer here could easily be Shang or Zhou depending on who you’re talking to. Sometimes I wish the context given in clues was less vague or lazy.

TTrimble 9:29 AM  

Imagine Rex's apoplexy if ARG were clued via Python CODE. Fun idea, Malaika! You should do that sometime: get a NYTXW published that is heavy on science and tech clues, with maybe an NRA reference thrown in for good measure.

Another thing Rex doesn't like is reference to fluids from BODIES which either seep out or are otherwise ejected: cf. DROOLERS.

And also, Malaika, thanks for the champagne COUPE apocrypha -- you knew some of us couldn't resist, didn't you? Some pretty delightful rabbit holes that I went down, which sort of came full circle for me when I reemerged with the Greek myth of how the Milky Way was formed (I mentioned this in a comment a little while back, but if you don't know, go ahead and look up Herakles, the slayer of the Lion of NEMEA, in Wikipedia) -- cf. GALAXY.

(Speaking of all this: I think that with NYT's recent and brilliant success of showing off ASS on an almost daily basis, it's about time they worked their way around to "tits". Equal time and all that. Certainly you have versatile clues like, oh, "silly people", which could be either "asses" or "boobs", and then you work up your passerine bird clues for answers like that SB stalwart "tomtit" (don't show your hand too early! be a little subtle about it) and before you know it Bob's your uncle. C'mon, juvenile editors at the crossword desk! You up for it?)

Oh shit, ask and you shall receive! TITHE below SASS! Oh, you clever dogs. You got to get up pretty early in the morning, don't you?

BIG DUMMY that I am when it comes to baseball, I had to run the alphabet before hitting on XIA as crossing SOX.

Can we not take leave of the Harry Potter universe even for a day? MUGGLE is a truly hideous word.

Oh, before I forget: in answer to a reader's question, SONOS was a WOE for me (What On Earth?). As was EERO -- perhaps gone are the days of St. Louis Gateway Arch cluing, which would have made it easy for me.

I can't see the word DITTO without thinking of the movie Ghost, and that scene where Demi Moore says "I love you" to Patrick Swayze, with tears coursing down her cheeks. His one-word response could scarcely be a more unromantic "I love you" return.

SB: Aw jeez, yd -2. I don't feel too bad about the 9-letter I missed, but I really thought I had already entered this banal 4-letter. Dontcha hate when that happens.

Peter P 9:32 AM  

Easy puzzle for me, but I can't imaging ARG being better clued as a reference specifically to Python. I've programmed several games in Python, and I'm not entirely sure what you are referencing. Just *arg or passing command line arguments? Googling is not helping me here. That's not specific to Python and it's pretty obscure to anyone who has never programmed. If you wanted to clue it easier, you could have gone the World Cup route, but no way would I clue it in terms of Python, especially on a Wednesday. What next, clueing "pandas" as a Python data science library instead of the animal or "char" as "variable type"? The comments would be afire with that type of cluing.

Had no idea on the Amazon thingy either. I had EchO first, as many others had, but knew it couldn't be right, as it's not a Wi-Fi brand. Didn't even notice I filled it in with the crosses and only saw here that the answer was EERO, which means absolutely nothing to me and that Amazon apparently needs to step up their marketing game.

RooMonster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
Kind of an odd puz to me. What in tarhooties is the ASTEROID doing? Zigzagging back and forth? Aren't they all bunched together moving in one direction? Or is there rouge ones zipping around? I guess they do smash into each other...

Had trouble with the X of SOX/XIA cross, even though 1) it is triple crossed, and 2) the SOX shouldn't have held me up so long. Not a baseball follower, but still... Not knowing XIA affects me not one whit.

STAR is a diamond, MOON is a square. Curious as to what Rex would've said about this one. I'm getting the gist of puz, but not quite getting it. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm a BIG DUMMY.


There's a ROO in DROOLER. Har. Apropos.

Whoever started the saying "SORRY, not SORRY" should be slapped. Bunch of WEIRDOS. (Actually, that could've been clued as "Many Al Yankovic impersonators") See also slapping the person who invented OREO THINs. Nobody eats OREOs for the cookie. C'mon man! Give me some MegaStufs!

CDL is also Commercial Drivers License. Snub to all the truck drivers out there.

SONOS and EERO. Wha? I know EERO Saarinen.

No F's (UM, NO)

Another Joker 9:45 AM  

LETSAT = An Anne Rice vampire with tummy trouble

Gary Jugert 9:57 AM  

HARRY POTTER IS #1! As an ongoing reminder, you might have magical powers too.

Hooray for Malaika MWednesdays.

I've been known to be a DROOLER on occasion. That's only part of the reason I am in the doghouse often. Usually it's because I am being a BIG DUMMY or a WEIRDO. This is a funny second theme to have sitting next to the astronomy theme. I've loved learning about the stars throughout my life, but it hurts my heart knowing there's others out there and we'll never meet them. Knowing us, we'd shoot 'em and hang' em in the den. Such GOONS.


ERST for ERAT kept me from the Congrats sign and I couldn't find my error. I'd forgotten NEMEA since I'd also forgotten it was Heracles not Hercules (which is the same guy, of course.) Sheesk, all that grad school now turned to mush.

This was a fabulous puzzle as if it was written and edited by grown-ups. A rare non-naughty-bits outing. Basically a nnb-NYTXW unicorn.


A note: I had a lovely off-blog conversation with @Barbara about these "uniclues." I love thinking about them and apparently she does too -- with her magical noggin! It's one of the joys my decaying brain still wants to tackle. I love it when some of you write them too. I am not at all protective of them. Time is ticking and my last and only battle will be with the guitar. Honestly, my greatest reward is when a member of the Anonym-oti says these uniclues are stupid or boring. Taking up residence in a troll's brain is my own deluxe apartment in the sky.


1 "Y'all gunna criticize this writin' gal and let all them other fellahs slide, eh?" {Holds hands in front of face fearing slap from @M&A.}
2 The day she let slide: "What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino? El-if-i-no."
3 My kindergartener drew something just like that with her 64 pack of crayons.
4 Bridgerton.
5 "Mind your own business," repeated often.


Joe Dipinto 9:58 AM  

There are no words...well, there are these words:

egsforbreakfast 10:03 AM  

So, the clue for 63D (Disappointing R.S.V.P.s) got me to thinking that if they could detect a significant virus that’s now going around by analyzing your urine, then a positive test would indicate the presence of RSVP.

And, while I’m visiting the upper 60’s (hi @NANCY), I’ll note that cluing 62D ETTU with a phrase that contains a literal translation of TU (“Not you, too!?”) seems tu not pass the smell test.

And lastly on my Upper East Side Tour, 69A (Author Hemingway) could well have been shortened to Hemingway with no harm done.

When …your …GROOMS in the LOO
And he’s dressed like a LOON

Is AIRER an error when AIRBANDBS also appears? Also, did the Romans ever say ERAT AERATE? It was oxidated?

But, in truth, I liked the puzzle/Guide to the Galaxy, and want to say thanks and congratulations to Laura and T

Whatsername 10:09 AM  

Starting with a Harry Potter clue at 1A was a bad sign. Circles Inside squares didn’t help matters any. Then add the fact that the circles are intended to form shapes. And after the first two, the shapes start to get a bit muddled . . . . UM, NO. I was stunned to see that this was POW.

Thanks to the WEIRDO with the wand and funny glasses I left half the NW blank because I did not know MUGGLE, SNOOTS seemed wrong and LETS AT? What’s that? I agree with @Dan at 8:18 - that corner needs to be taken out and politely shown the door.

Gary Jugert 10:11 AM  

@Anonymous 1:52 AM
Q: "What the heck is going on with NYT??" A: The same thing as always, but you've been stricken by 🦖 Blog Axiom #2: "Not Today! For a ___ (day of the week), it should be ___ (harder/easier)." As an ongoing reminder, you have other options in Puzzle-Dom; your choices are not the editors' fault.

Alice Pollard 10:14 AM  

An eccentric is not necessarily a WEIRDO. Had EchO originally, never heard of EERO though I buy things on Amazon almost every day. For AIRBNBS I hesitated for a bit thinking AIRBandBS and maybe there was a rebusian trick, to coin a phrase. :) Fun puzzle. Perfect Wednesday difficulty IMO.

Hartley70 10:50 AM  

I just got a call from our @Nancy and she wanted me to let you all know that her internet has been out for a few days and she has great hope it will be fixed by tonight. There are apparently folks here who would have expected to hear from her, so hold tight. She will return!

Joe Dipinto 10:55 AM  

@egs – I couldn't believe that ET TU clue. Talk about dumbing things down...

Joseph Michael 11:14 AM  

I spaced out on the circles, so I solved this as a themeless. Then when I suddenly remembered the circles, I gazed at the theme. Discovering the GALAXY helped me fill in the remaining blank box with the X in SOX and XIA. So, overall, I liked this puzzle best when I had finished it rather than while I was solving it.

I might have liked it more during the solve if it hadn’t started off with a Harry Potter clue.

Best themers: the streaking COMET and the boundless GALAXY.

Worst themer: the square MOON.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Enjoyed this heavenly puzzle. Also don’t think that the GALAXY is technically an astronomical *body* but close enough for crosswords IMO.
A nature club I belong to (multiple buildings in the woods) got an EERO system awhile back which greatly enhanced the WiFi connection. A member at the time worked for the company (before purchased by Google I think). OTOH never heard of SONOS speakers. And like many here have already stated - if ARG was clued relating to coding I would have been clueless.

Donna 11:33 AM  

I see a round MOON. Put your curser on the M and follow the letters. You will move in a circle. Nitpickers, relax and enjoy the sky.

Geezer 11:37 AM  

I've rarely agreed with the POW selection from XWORDINFO.COM but the bar seems to be even lower than I thought.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

MUGGLE was a great 1A but the remainder of the NW? Not so much.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

I have an Eero system and it is great. The only downside is that data collection giant, Amazon, owns it.

Whatsername 11:52 AM  

@Hartley (10:50) Thanks for sharing the news about @Nancy. I was mildly concerned and thinking about asking if anyone had heard from her. Glad to hear she’s OK.

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Grid art! The Circles! The Jaws of Themelessness?! [They are also probably circled celestial bodies, but just hard to see the circles in them there blacked-out squares.]

fave themer: That there MOON for CUBISTS. [I threw an extra "that there" in, for @Gary Jugert 9:57am dude to enjoy.]

lots and lots of fave stuff, includin: DROOLER. WEIRDOS. ROCKET [theme-apt]. AIRBNBS & AIRER. ACCENT clue. OREOTHIN. STYLUS. UMNO.
Not many no-knows, other than SONOS & ROSEN & EERO. So the solvequest was pretty smoooth, and lotsa nanoseconds lived to fight another day.

staff weeject picks: BUN & PUN. Middle letters shoulda been circled, tho. Also, honrable mention to CDL (neat RRN meat).

Thanx for the star trek, Breiman & Bachant folks. It was a true spaceBnB. And congratz on yer fine debuts. And thanx for gangin up on us, of course.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

p.s. Nice blog-subbin, Ms. Malaika darlin. Enjoy yer trip. And best wishes to @RP, for a full jetlag/hangover recovery.

too soon? …

albatross shell 11:59 AM  

Eccentric is a WEIRDO you find amusing. WEIRDO is an an eccentric you find distasteful. For different people different strokes. There is certainly some overlap there.

Little pockets of difficulty and larger areas of ease. I assume that is why seemed more difficult than some folks time indicated.

Grid art not perfect but it seldom is. Squint and use your imagination. It is spelled out for you after all.

Not exactly ASS free. S-ASS and M-ASS and a sweet LOO to GO ON.

Sweet post. Got me laughing.

Construction a bit suspect in places but there was joy in the solving.

johnk 12:12 PM  

3 out of 4 days this week with these annoying little circles. Fortunately, none of them are required to solve the puzzles.

Marion 12:30 PM  

Agree with Anonymous. An easy Monday, but then I think it all depends on your age and background. I ignored the theme.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

To those complaining about the shapes of the themers- lighten up, they’re just representations and you got the idea.
Might I add this line from a well known song- “Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”
And finally, galaxies are indeed celestial objects. Viewed from earth, they appear as one point of light and we are actually just approaching the 100-year mark where they were noted to be comprised of distinct objects (thank you, Dr. Hubble).
And I thought I was pedantic- geez!

TTrimble 3:02 PM  

@Anonymous 12:38 PM
Well, actually I think it's fair to ask. You just said "celestial object", which (or perhaps better, an "astronomical object") is actually something considered different from a "celestial body", which was the term some of the other posters used and which corresponds to the answer in the puzzle. So technically, a GALAXY would not be called a celestial or astronomical body, but it may be called an astronomical object. A COMET is a borderline case. Some discussion here.

(Hey, I can pedant with the best of them when I feel like it!)

Anoa Bob 4:04 PM  

I was surprised that Jeff Chen at gave this the Puzzle Of the Week (POW). Looks like his appreciation of the grid art depicting the alleged shape of the themers is what did the trick. I have always thought that only minimalist CUBISTS would consider subset patterns in a 15X15 pixel matrix as grid art. Today we get alleged art using only 4, 5, 6, 8 & 4 squares/pixels. Too minimal for me. Square MOON? Nah.

I join those who think that GALAXY doesn't fit the CELESTIAL BODIES reveal.

I also think giving BIG DUMMY a Redd Foxx "Sanford and Son" clue would have been a nice touch. It was his tagline.

The puzzle did provide lots of opportunities for POC (plural of convenience) hunting. The letter count, grid fill boosting ESS is generously sprinkled throughout the grid.

Nancy 4:15 PM  

I'm b-a-a-a-ck! Thank you, RCN repairman and thank you @Hartley for informing the blog.

It's amazing how things we didn't even initially want morph into things we can't get along without. I stubbornly resisted getting a computer until 12/08 and only relented when my brother told me that I was still living in the 19th century. And yet -- my almost two days without Internet service just now almost drove me bonkers. I realized that there are people whose phone numbers I don't know, only their email address, so I couldn't contact them. There was a restaurant I don't use that often but wanted to order from last night only I never bothered to write down their phone number and I don't have their menu; I always look it up online. There was the movie I'd VCR-ed, "The Apartment", and I wanted to check the reviews to see if the critics had found the whiff of misogyny that I saw in it (all the women being taken to the apartment, other than Shirley MacLaine, were caricatures of floozies). But no such luck. (I'll Google that now.)

And of course there was the Rexblog. The dear, dear, precious Rexblog! Did y'all miss me as much as I missed you?

The only good news is that neither yesterday's or today's puzzle especially thrilled me...and therefore my failure to comment on them is no great loss to me or anyone else.

See you tomorrow.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Everyone complaining about the shapes is completely missing the point: The puzzle was terrible. The shapes were close enough, and not remotely the problem.

dgd 5:26 PM  

I definitely seen the phrase before but also definitely old fashioned, so perhaps that is why it sounded odd to you ( I am old).
These days I only see it in crosswords. The sense I remember: release a guard dog to attack an intruder.

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

I'm astonished this puzzle would be Jeff Chen's POW. I don't think that speaks well for what to expect over the next few days.

jshanks 5:12 PM  

Calling a character "toon" is new to me.

"Why do people say toon instead of character?
When you see the term toons, its usually from old school players. When on line gaming first started and MMOs came out. The characters looked like cartoons, so we called them toons. Calling characters toons started way back in Ultima and ever quest days, before WoW or LoL was being thought of."

Milwaukee Talkie 3:31 PM  

Did anyone comment on TSKS (38D)? In my opinion, if you can't SAY it, it's not a word. You can't even WRITE a sentence in this case. "When I farted there was a chorus of TSKS?"

thefogman 10:08 AM  

Easy. Cute theme but the attempts at representing various astronomical shapes on the grid gets a bit too abstract. But overall, it’s pretty good for a first time effort. Congratulations to Laura and Tom on their NYT crossword debut.

spacecraft 10:57 AM  

How else can you depict those BODIES if you have to fill in squares? I think they did pretty well with it. The scattering of ASTEROIDs was particularly cool--and must have been a bear to fill in. GALAXY actually helped me because--doh!--I couldn't think of red & white uniform parts.

We certainly are on a roller coaster this week: from the sublime to the ridiculous and back to pretty darn good. Our own Jacky ROSEN is not only a good senator (fights against gun proliferation, e.g.), but a looker as well. DOD. Let's give these newbies a birdie.

Wordle par, completing 288 holes--or four tournaments. Starting with only words that appeared in that day's NYTXW (except a few occasions when there was absolutely nothing remotely usable, in which case I reverted to my favorite standby*), I scored a net 11 under par.

*ALIEN--until it became my lone hole-in-one, thereafter RATIO

Burma Shave 3:34 PM  


would RACE HERETO woo her.
LUCIA shows them the MOON,


BTW, this completes 8 years of at least one daily verse. Tomorrow begins year 9. Still no word on the book rights.

thefogman 4:17 PM  

All Hail B.S.! A legendary member of the Sindie Cats Hall of Fame.

Diana, LIW 6:42 PM  

B.S. - our poet laureate! Every day for 8 years - many more to come, hope the Cats.

A star-studded Wednesday - not over the moon, but a fine amusement.

Diana, LIW

Diana, LIW 6:43 PM  

One more thing - had a one-letter dnf. X marks the spot!

Lady Di

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