Ordering Seconds

Apr 09, 2022 · 348 comments
Brett (Punta Gorda, FL)
Worst puzzle I have worked yet … many were far stretches and what about ‘seashore’ vs ‘seahorse’ I really don’t want to see this author again :(
Lisa (Davis)
Can someone explain the answer for 74 across: G or K ? I see it is thou, but why?
Rafa (Ohio)
@Lisa it’s short for thousand, so a G or K can represent it
Eric Hallander (Ocean Two NJ)
Some tough criticisms here in the comments. It’s only a puzzle. I realize that as a member of the privileged majority cis w m few terms ever found their way into the lexicon that were harsh to me so I get that my skin is thick and I don’t offend easily. So maybe it’s more than just a puzzle to a lot of you. It’s still a clever puzzle and yes I struggled with it at first but it did become clear that a revealer wasn’t needed because it was in the title. I even learned some new facts.
B.Free (15206)
Bad puzzle
Janet H. Murray (Atlanta)
Very disturbing to find Pepe in the puzzle given hate group associations
Tamara Buck (Salt Lake City)
Still kinda clueless as to the point of the theme but hey, it beats mowing the lawn or other household chores.
Larry (Connecticut)
Great puzzle. Well constructed and clever. Nicely challenging
JJ (East Bay)
Super clever. Nicely done.
Evy (San Francisco)
115D calls for a dash fig. MPH would fill the bill and give us "Hazes" 122A "Looks long and hard." Why is 115D MPG?
Phishfinder (Silicon Vslley)
@Evy I've never owned a car with a MPG figure anywhere, let alone on a dash gauge.
K (New York)
My last two cars have had a digital MPG reading.
Wr (NJ)
@K I’d love to know the model and year. Are they hybrids?
LStott (Brunswick, ME)
I usually find something to like and enjoy in a NY Times puzzle, but not this time. Challenges are great when they are fun and clever; this was a mere slog with no payoff.
Deb (Oregon)
@LStott I disahree. I finally finished after almost giving up several times this week. A slog it was, but when I finally got the trick and powered through, it felt very satisfying. Some of those clues, though....just evil!
lazuleye (Northern CA)
Really? The DNC is left-leaning? Bias of constructor shouted at me and ruined the puzzle. We lefties support the DNC but know it isn't left-leaning so much as not trying to eradicate us (like the RNC).
SheWhoWatches (Tsawwassen)
@lazuleye It's hardly "bias"--if it's a Democratic organization then it's at least somewhat left. These are relative terms, not "bias".
B (B)
I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle!!
Greg HInkle (Woods Hole, MA)
Not a fan. I don’t see how simple anagrams are clever. Just annoying…
Anne (SF)
Hot Tamale? Seriously, Will, you’re okay with that?
Rogue Cheddar (Los Angeles)
Coming to this late and I’m aware it’s already been said, but answers that are anagrams of the real answers, completely unrelated to the clues or one another, without even a revealer clue somewhere, is not a good puzzle. It’s just random gibberish. Just to have something positive to say, I’ll add that I adored Thursday this week. Cute theme, medium difficulty, zero rebuses or other nonsense.
micko (hartsdale, ny)
Mr. Shortz, I believe it is incumbent on you to step out from behind the curtain and address the decisions made in what is published in the NYT crossword puzzle. Or find somebody who will.
Jim (Los Angeles)
@micko amen. But he never does.
SheWhoWatches (Tsawwassen)
@micko So when will you be stepping out to be more specific about what bothers you? Hey, it's a puzzle, not a encyclopedia of political correctness.
Pete (Denver)
I've been a bartender for 10 years and I've never made a MANHATTAN with Tennessee whiskey. Even if made with bourbon (which it traditionally isn't), it's typically going to be a Kentucky-style bourbon, not Jack Daniels, George Dickel, etc. These companies make rye whiskey too, but they aren't that common/popular. Tennessee distilleries are far more associated with sour mash whiskey, which has no place in a Manhattan.
Evy (San Francisco)
@Pete I'll drink to that.
Phishfinder (Silicon Vslley)
@Pete my dad always liked his with Canadian whiskey, so this threw me too. He lived in Manhattan.
Will P (Exuma, Bahamas)
Confused by Maas for petting zoo noises. Baas I could understand, as sheep noises perhaps. What am I missing?
Protzmom (Pennsylvania)
@Will P Goats say "maa". I learned that from reading books about animal sounds to my babies.
Kiki (Charleston, SC)
Tough, clever puzzle! For everyone complaining on this page about one thing or the other, your chase for perfection in the NYT puzzle (and in the world) benefits no one unless you also see the good, my friends. You'll do far more to help improve everyone's lot when you do.
Clark (Virginia)
I was able to work out the clues (though *poster* from tropes I admit took me forever) but I feel doing these as rebus answers should have also been valid. So P/T O/R S/O T/P E/E R/S should've been a valid answer for tropes. Very clever, good job.
Nick Addison (NJ)
The title tripped me up. I knew that the order of the letters in those gray boxes was going to be rearranged from what would answer the clue. But I read too far into the title and thought it meant the letters would be in alphabetical order. I couldn't find any way to make that the case so eventually I caved and had to check the solution to see that the words that I thought should go in there (but didn't satisfy the ordering condition) were actually correct.
Cynthia (Belfast, Maine)
I was pleased to finally "crack the clue." (I guess I should say "crack the theme " but I've been saying "crack the clue" for decades.) I looked up all the popular culture without guilt. After being quite stuck about half way through, I put it down for three hours, and when I came back, filled in one thing after another that had stumped me, e.g. STEP ON IT. Thanks, David, for a challenging Sunday.
SLBinVA (Richmond, VA)
@Cynthia It always amazes me how much easier an "impossible" puzzle becomes after puting it aside for a while. In this case, it was setting it aside overnight. I had already figured out the theme, but I'm not good at anagrams, and so had to depend on the crosses to get me the rest of the way there, and on some of those I was stuck. Until I finally hit "Pause" and logged out until today. And I breezed right through all those crosses that had me stumped.
Tom (Boston)
Unlike most, it seems, I thought this was fun and finished under my average. My only quibble is, who makes a Manhattan with Tennessee whiskey? It’s Rye, usually from Kentucky.
Richard (St. Joe Michigan)
Toughest Sunday, for me, in a long time. Has the anagram gimmick been used before? Figured it out early, but that didn't help a bit.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Richard https://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=2/27/2022 The theme answer clues are anagrams of the answers.
Richard (St. Joe Michigan)
@Eric Hougland Thanks! I do recall that anagram-themed puzzle. In that case, the anagrams made it easier for me. Unlike this one.
Kate (Massachusetts)
Fortunately (?), I had too much happening today to finish in time to read the comments properly. Tough puzzle. I enjoyed the moment of realization that there were anagrams (WET NOSE was my entry), but that did not make the rest of the puzzle easier. I loved the challenge over many different 10-minute sessions.
Scott (Little Rock, AR)
I found this puzzle to be quite confusing. I am not a fan of anagrams, so I did not particularly enjoy it.
Jim (Los Angeles)
At the risk of igniting a particular person’s for deigning to repeat or underscore a comment that others have made…”peanut gallery” has a particularly offensive origin. But that never stops the NYT.
SheWhoWatches (Tsawwassen)
@Jim What common old phrase DOESN'T have an offensive origin? Why should it mean it can't be used as a puzzle clue?
Ginger (Massachusetts)
Like some others, I wanted VELVET ROPES for 24A. In fact I was so committed to ropes as an answer that when I got MOVIE TROPES, I thought the real answer was MOVIE ROPES and that the theme was going to involve skipping the "t" in the middle or something. It was a relief to get to DEAD SPOT, realize it was an anagram for DEAD STOP, and realize that TROPES was an anagram for POSTER. A much better fit for a "bit of cinema decor" than ropes. 😄 I am not a huge anagram fan in general (why I don't really love Spelling Bee), but in this puzzle they were great! Also I was coming to the comments to ask about 1D, but luckily for me it was explained in the column.
SheWhoWatches (Tsawwassen)
@Ginger Thank you! I did the whole puzzle fairly quickly once I caught on, but could not get POSTER to save my life.
Aaron Teasdale (Missoula, MT)
So they’re just random anagrams? I spent way too much mental energy today trying to find the trick or pattern and finally just gave up. Now I understand—it was just a random garble of letters. How unsatisfying. Perhaps my least favorite Sunday puzzle of all time.
Scott (Little Rock, AR)
@Aaron Teasdale Same
Sarah Amberwood (Hudson Valley)
@Aaron Teasdale - Agree, definitely my least favorite Sunday puzzle of all time. So tedious. I wouldn't have wasted my time but for the streak ...
Wr (NJ)
@Aaron Teasdale Not random. It’s quite a feat to find so many phrases where an anagram of the second word creates another known phrase or expression.
Lester (Philadelphia)
The Pepe clue is unnecessary. Leave it to the NYT to be insensitive to anti-Semitic references.
Jim (Los Angeles)
@Lester can we also about “peanut gallery”?
John (Chicago)
Joyless, tedious, nonsensical. Gray boxes with random permutations that can only be gleaned on the crosses and have nothing to do with the clues. Can we save this kind of stuff for Thursday, please?
Wr (NJ)
@John The anagram of the second word creates another known phrase or expression, not a random permutation.
Alexandra (Los Angeles,CA)
Not sure if this has been commented on or not (I didn’t see it after scrolling through a good number, but not all the way down, so apologies if this is redundant). “peanut gallery” has a complicated (at best) and problematic (at worst) history (see link below for starters) that is worth considering for all you etymologically-minded solvers! https://theconversation.com/the-complicated-origin-of-the-expression-peanut-gallery-148897
Alexandra (Los Angeles,CA)
I would like to add that I did enjoy this puzzle as a puzzle. Took a bit to get going, but kudos to a fellow slug. :) anagrams are always a treat (I found myself writing the answer I “knew” and then solving by reassembling the letters.)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Alexandra, Mentioned in passing today. Discussed at great length the last time it was in the grid.
Jim (Los Angeles)
@Barry Ancona …and yet it keeps appearing
Elke (NJ)
Left leaning group I had BLM for a long time, until I didn’t. Then I didn’t give DNC another thought. I thought HOTTAMALE was way more offensive. It was hard getting into the constructors head and I was forced to Google and use check puzzle repeatedly. Way slower than my usual time. Would never have gotten KNEX
Ruby (heaven)
@Elke I put DSA, but leave it to the NYT to try to make "DNC is a left leaning group" happen. DNC is a left punching group, if anything.
MJ (Chicagoland)
This may have been brought up, and I don’t have the time to read through 400 comments, but are the crossword editors aware that Pepe the Frog has been co-opted as a white nationalist symbol? It’s not a harmless internet meme any longer.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
MJ, (1) It has been brought up here repeatedly. (2) The editors have not joined in the conversation.
MJ (Chicagoland)
@Barry Ancona Given it’s objective importance, I was content to risk being repetitive knowing that I was also risking a comment from you had it been mentioned already.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
MJ, Risking? You wondered if it had been brought up. I advised that it had. Enjoy your evening.
Peter C (Wheaton, IL)
I figured out the gimmick early, and dreaded it because anagrams are not my strength, but concentrating on the crosses made finding those answers easier. I thought this was a clever, well-constructed puzzle, with some very sly clues. I'm embarrassed for the commenters who are outraged over the DNC clue. Of course the DNC is left-leaning, if you're to the right of it. People who are so far to the left that they can't see this need to recognize the narrowness of their own perspectives. Thanks for the fun puzzle.
Ruby (heaven)
@Peter C Spoken like a true conservative, i.e., panera Democrat.
Dave C (Massachusetts)
Wow, I think I'm losing it. Thursday through Sunday puzzles are always challenging, but I'd nearly always finish them. Not this week. On Thursday, I filled in all the correct answers using rebuses, but found that there was an apparently a new trick that I wouldn't have thought was legal. Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a struggle. So either I'm losing it, or the fancy tricks are taking over. Neither of these results make me happy. Sorry to have my pity party. Btw, I'm not looking for advice. Maybe something I loved doing for years is just not going to be as fun anymore. A rite of passage. I hope the rest of you are doing well. Wow, I think I'm losing it. Thursday through Sunday puzzles are always challenging, but I'd nearly always finish them. Not this week. On Thursday, I filled in all the correct answers using rebuses, but found that there was an apparently a new trick that I wouldn't have thought was legal. Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a struggle. So either I'm losing it, or the fancy tricks are taking over. Neither of these results make me happy. Sorry to have my pity party. Btw, I'm not looking for advice. Maybe something I loved doing for years is just not going to be as fun anymore. A rite of passage. I hope the rest of you are doing better.
Great Lakes (US)
@Dave C CTRL V?
Rod D (Chicago)
@Dave C Most of the puzzles this week seemed more difficult than they usually are for their day of the week.
Dave C (Massachusetts)
@Great Lakes Sorry!
michael nichols (san francisco)
I need help with the clues "G or K" for Thou. I don't see the connection. Help me...
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@michael nichols All are short for “thousand.”
cmaas (Atlanta)
@michael nichols A loaf of bread a jug of wine and fifty thou. (credit to an old New Yorker - I think - contest; change one word in a classic poem)
John (Chicago)
@michael nichols grand, kilo
John A Frederick (Paris, France)
Another slog of a Sunday, too clever by half and no fun to finish. The gimmicks are wearing thin…..
Me, Myself and I (Michigan)
Help please ... what's the anagram for "tropes" as in movieTROPES?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Me, Myself and I “Poster”
Carl (Pasadena CA)
@Me, Myself and I moviePOSTER
Me, Myself and I (Michigan)
@Me, Myself and I Duh, thanks all!
American In Oz (Sydney)
You picked the day I first (carefully) exposed my seven month old to nuts to include both PEANUT ALLERGY and EPIPEN? Comforting…
Jon P (Chicago)
After failing to complete both Friday and Saturday this week, ending the weekslong streak I had going, it was nice to get back on track with this puzzle. Was it my favorite? No, but I found it enjoyable enough. However, I find it inconceivable that there are solvers who completed Friday and Saturday, but struggled with this one. Today's puzzle had some tough spots, but none of the inscrutable (for me) sections from the last couple days!
Fader (USA)
DNC is center right if anything.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Fader Do you know Richard Buckner’s “Fader”? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xvlFVyKUdqM
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Puzzlemucker Thanks for that video. I love how there’s some old guy in the background, apparently oblivious to Buckner’s performance.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Eric Hougland Glad you listened. Buckner is funny. He lived in Austin for a while — did you ever see him? Now he lives near me in Hudson Valley. Most underrated singer-songwriter in my book.
Tito (Shreveport)
I enjoyed this puzzle, the difficulty was on a Wednesday level, which I find perfect for a Sunday, and the theme was clever, and kept me engaged throughout. It was just right, a Goldilocks of a Sunday. Reading earlier comments, I see some would have liked the anagrammed themers to have been clued or alluded to in some way, adding an extra layer to take things up a notch. I think David was wise to be wary of overkill. I admire his talent as constructor, even more, as one who doesn’t lay it on too thick. Hope to see more puzzles from him.
Grant (Delaware)
This puzzle had two of my favorite things: anagrams and a MANHATTAN. It took me a while to figure out MOVIE POSTER, post solve. MIRY? Really? BLACK STAR wouldn't have made the cut for me, but apparently it's a rap duo. At least I guessed correctly with NAS. Has TBT for nostalgia been explained yet? I don't do Instragram, but I'm guessing it's Throw Back Thursday, which is a thing. Alternately, Truth Be Told, but that does not evoke nostalgia. One last thing: BLACK TAR is a form of heroin, or so I'm told.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Grant “Throwback Thursday” was my guess.
Jennifer (Manhattan)
@Grant To Be Tagged?
Alexis (Nashville)
@Grant TBT is used for both "throwback Thursday" and "throwback to"
Matt (Minnesota)
This puzzle serves as a friendly reminder to always check your crosses, especially when crossing through conspicuously shaded cells!
Michael (Havertown, PA)
This is the third day in a row the puzzle has been a slog for me. It took me nearly 40 minutes more than my Sunday average to finish today's very clever puzzle. On the other hand, I didn't have to look anything up, which I suppose is a good thing. I wonder how many people took forever, as I did, to realize that the seabird the author wanted was neither a gull nor a tern.
Protzmom (Pennsylvania)
@Michael, I thought both tern and erne, and realized after 111A (tome) that it must be erne.
Michael (Havertown, PA)
@Protzmom My first thought was gull, but I've always been a bit gullible.
Connie Dickerson (Wilton, CT)
Finished the puzzle easily and then read the comments to see if anyone else was bothered by the ill-defined "DNC"--yes, I am not alone. The "DNC" is the establishment/status-quo center, in no way a "left-leaning" organization ("organizing grp." per the clue). NYT's constructors and/or editors often have a problem with this; come to think of it the rest of the paper doesn't seem to understand the distinction either.
Barbara Delgross (Buffalo NY)
I was struck by that, too. 62 Down, “ Left-leaning organizing group”…..The DNC. Really? Left-leaning?
Grant (Delaware)
@Connie Dickerson I submit NYT as an alternative answer, because they lean to the left, politically, and organize articles, ads, and columns on the page.
Phil (Harrison, NY)
@Connie Dickerson These comments complaining about the DNC clue are way off base. OF COURSE the DNC is left leaning. In a country split 50/50 the DNC is left leaning and the RNC is right leaning. Only in the comments to a liberal paper would this be controversial at all because the DNC is not left leaning enough? Let’s be real.
S.R. (Pittsburgh, PA)
I'm curious what BLACKSTAR is intended to reference? From my personal brain I can think of the hip hop group from the 90's-00's, and also the final David Bowie album. Surely neither of these count as common phrases. Googling got me two more definitions: a term from theoretical astrophysics; and the ancient Judaic name for Saturn. Surely neither of those count as a common phrase either. Am I missing some other common definition, or use, of this term? OIL LAMP / OIL PALM is a bit of a miss for me, too. Because other than those two examples, every other theme entry turns from one common phrase or term into another. But oil palms are not really something anyone goes around referring to, and again I don't know what black star was even intended to reference. That said, I am sure that it's genuinely much harder than I realize to come up with 11 wordplay based theme entries, fit them all into a grid, get the fill working, write all the clues, etc. ANd I think this puzzle turned out fine. Still, I'm curious.
Nat K (NYC)
S.R., Can’t help with BLACKSTAR. But OIL PALMs are the principal source of palm oil, which is pervasive in personal and beauty care products (especially soaps and shampoos) and in processed foods. Those of us who work on climate change also know OIL PALM plantations as a major source of deforestation and a striking example of unintended consequences, since many such plantations sprung up in response to EU biodiesel incentives — with the perverse effect of increasing overall carbon emissions as a result of deforestation and peat loss. Not sure that makes it a common phrase, so I take your point. But for some of us it was immediately recognizable …
Jess D (VA)
Thanks so much for this detailed, informative answer.
Elke (NJ)
BLACKSTAR aka black arts
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
A Sunday shot to that place way below! My fault. I should have quit at least an hour ago when I realized there was so much so far from my ken in this puzzle. I held off way too long before switching to Autocheck. In the end I had to run half the alphabet on the pay-per view cross with the scrolling credits. The Column sort of explains the latter but I didn't see anything about what MMA might mean and I'm too pooped to care.
John (Jersey Coast)
@kilaueabart Mixed Martial Arts, I believe. Boxing on steroids.
Nat K (NYC)
OK. Epilogue to my comments re the clue for DNC: I started describing the issue, in mock high dudgeon, to my (non-crossword-solving and skeptical-of-spending-time-posting-online-comments) wife. She interrupted me to say “— but the DNC isn’t left-leaning, it’s totally centrist!” *Sigh*. :)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Nat, You wife is a very wise person.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
(Where did the "r" in "your" go?)
Nat K (NYC)
Barry Ancona, About the DNC or spending time in the comments section? ;)
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
To make the numbers and clues actually visible to the naked eye, I blow up the puzzle on my screen and lose all but the puzzle and the clues. I started the puzzle and raced through it, not because I knew all the answers, but because nothing was adding up. Clues I knew were right were wrong. Decided I had better look at the title, and the lights went on. I will add to the quibbles by saying that although I am certainly a Democrat, I would not consider myself a "leftie," Well, maybe a little.
Nat K (NYC)
dutchiris, Right. If, like me, you are a staunch Democrat but not a leftie, you might even say that you “lean left.” Just like the DNC :)
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Nat K Right. Left of right.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@dutchiris - every gd thing is now left of right
Kevin D (Atlanta, Currently Back In Puyallup)
This took me forever. I caught on late to the twist. I had multiple no-knows and lost track of the times I cleared the western corners. But, in the end, it all came together with no flyspecking, usually the bane of my Sunday solves. Great puzzle!
JL (Canada)
Gosh, I found this one turned my head around. I didn’t know a lot of the across grey answers off the bat so I ended up having to solve those largely using the down clues. Which was ok, but it meant that I saw the reworked answer first, and had to anagram backwards to see the original answer. Which was also OK, but not ideal. I would have loved it more if the anagrammed answers had something to do with the words they replaced. I loved the March Madness (HARE) and Blind sight (SLAT) clues though.
Runcible Spoon (DC)
Disappointed and taken aback by the clue for 17D referencing the toxic white supremacist symbol. Why not elicit the same answer with a clue along the lines of "Nickname for José"? Please do better.
Paladin (New Jersey)
Good puzzle for me. One observation: I’ve always thought it was DITZ with a Z, not an S. PEANUTALLERGY/GALLERY is an all-time classic, David.
Runcible Spoon (DC)
@Paladin I agree, that's how I believe it was spelled. I changed it for the sake of solving the puzzle, but it didn't feel right.
RS (U.K.)
Some fun wordplay here, but on the whole a bit sloppy in execution. It would have been nice if the anagrams had some relation to the clues or if the actual answer and the anagrammed answer could be related somehow - easier said than done, I admit! It was fun to work through, but I wasn’t wowed by it. Mr. Tuffs is clearly a talented wordsmith and I look forward to more from him.
Neil Bellinson (Forest Hills, NY)
I don't enjoy injecting a political view into this otherwise worthy discussion, but I would consider "DNC" as an inaccurate answer to the clue "left-leaning organizing grp." and I believe that the facts support this contention. Enough said.
Felize (Los Angeles)
@Neil Bellinson to me it was a sad chuckle - yes the DNC is left LEANING and thats it. 'cause thats all they do is lean with no action.
Justin A (Syracuse)
I’m just happy to see that someone else said it first
Adam B. (Seattle)
Does Hashi have a rule that the bridges can only be vertical or horizontal? I swear I have a valid solution to last week’s, but the bridges go at all sorts of angles.
Walter (Virginia)
*beep! beep!* This Sunday puzzle was a stinker. *beep! beep!*
Grant (Delaware)
@Walter I see what you did there...
Michael R (Arlington, MA)
Great puzzle. PEANUT ALLERGY/GALLERY nothing short of brilliant. Ignore the haters.
Matt G (San Diego)
Can someone explain 110 down SLAT please?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Matt G The pieces in Venetian blinds (or metal mini-blinds) are known as SLATs.
aa (California)
@Matt G I think the clue was in reference to a duck blind used by bird watchers or hunters which is built with SLATs so you can look out the gaps.
NYC Traveler (Now in Boulder, CO)
@aa, That felt like the misdirect to me. I agree with Eric’s answer.
Zézito (Alexandria)
Anagrams have no place in a word puzzle. Just like sarcasm (in case you didn't recognize it in the first sentence) is the lowest form of humor, anagrams are the lowest form of word play.
erin mast (long island)
can someone explain the 1 down clue to me??
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@erin mast “March Madness” = NCAA basketball The March Hare from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
erin, I thought Caitlin did a nice job in the column: Tricky Clues There are some really smart, sneaky puns in the short fill of this grid. “March madness figure” — HARE — is a nod to an Old English expression (that famously figures in “Alice in Wonderland”);
RJ (Tucson)
@erin mast Or, mad as a March hare.
Nat K (NYC)
Can’t help but comment on the DNC to-do, even though I do so dreading an overly politicized back-and-forth. But: There is *no question* that the DNC is a [Left-leaning organizing group.] That is literally what it is. The clue did not say “leftist” or “progressive” — I agree those would have been a stretch. It said “left-leaning,” which if anything is a mild descriptor of the group responsible for electing Democrats. Who, last I checked, were indeed the party of the left. Only in the NYT could this attract such strong criticism. Fellow Dems, I love you, but c’mon… And before you blast me as some right winger, I earned my bona fides as a senior official in the White House under President Obama (although come to think of it, the folks blasting the clue may consider that confirmation that I am not sufficiently left-leaning :) ).
Neil Bellinson (Forest Hills, NY)
@Nat K I accidentally clicked on"Recommended". Please subtract one from the total number of recommended, since I respectfully disagree with this post.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Neil, Click on it again and it will go away.
Ann (Massachusetts)
@Nat K “Left leaning organizing group” to me says a group of activists. That is not the DNC. The DNC does organize, but in a different way. It manages the Dem National convention, and promotes Dem candidates. I think the clue is just a bit misleading. I do not think this is in any way a reflection of the constructor. I cannot believe that anybody could put together a puzzle like this if they were focused on anything else but making the puzzle work.
ad absurdum (Chicago)
It's sad that a beloved meme can be co-opted and corrupted. You'd think white supremacists would be more respectful.
Great Lakes (US)
@ad absurdum I wish those folks would learn how to treat others as they'd like to be treated.
RozzieGrandma (Roslindale MA)
@Great Lakes But those are the OTHERS who don't deserve fair treatment.
ad absurdum (Chicago)
@Great Lakes That would be golden.
John (Jersey Coast)
One *emergency* service call later (fix it guy here) I was able to get this one wrapped up. Darned clever and especially impressed with David's use of the algorithm in his brain to come with these clever anagrams. I thought of BLACKtsAR too but rejected it because it had to be BLACKczAR, right? Well done and thanks again.
John (Jersey Coast)
Oh, and our MANHATTANs have Kentucky roots.
Georgia (Philadelphia)
McRumi (Richmond VA)
Eezy-peezy, but Pepe and Jaden made it a downer.
Ron (New Milford, CT)
Something is wrong with the keyboard function on the app on my iPad. The keyboard now seems permanently stuck in the middle of the screen. There’s a note saying to drop the keyboard by hitting the >> but that doesn’t do anything. Help! Trying to do a Sunday puzzle like this is ridiculous. If the problem doesn’t resolve I’ll drop the app, as it’s impossible to solve puzzles like this. P.S. not an issue with any other app.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Ron Are you using the NYT news app or the puzzle app? The puzzle app is much better. Whatever your using, you might try deleting and reinstalling the app.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Ron - the NYT crew intentionally made it a huge problem for us. At least do this - when you open the puzzle, click on aA at the top and then select Hide Toolbar. That makes a TINY improvement on a horrible situation.
Nancy (NYC)
Oh, dear. The things you learn on this blog. Re the big PEPE the frog kerfuffle: First of all, I've never heard of PEPE the frog. Second, I have only the dimmest conception, gleaned entirely from crossword puzzles and from nowhere else, of what a "meme" is. Third, I didn't know that the unknown PEPE was a white nationalist meme. White nationalists want to be represented by a...frog???!!! For heaven sakes, why would they want that??? Anyway, here's my dilemma. I can go Google PEPE the frog. But then maybe I'll be wooed online by a lot white nationalists looking for converts. I'll get terrible, unspeakably evil emails. I'll have to change my email address to protect my sanity. But it only gets worse. Government authorities, looking for white nationalist conspirators, will find my name on their recruiting lists. They'll come, search my computer and see that I once did an online search for PEPE the frog. They'll arrest me and lock me up. I'll be thrown into a prison that mostly imprisons white nationalists. The white nationalists will see at a glance that I am not One of Them. And when the guards have their backs turned, they will do horrible, unspeakable things to me. The mind simply boggles. Which goes by way of explanation as to why I've decided not to look up PEPE the frog online.
Frances (Western Mass)
@Nancy Pfft to most memes. Not worth the microsecond of attention it would take to google it. Which is what your statement means, I’m sure.
Great Lakes (US)
@Nancy Use duckduckgo.com to search instead of google. It doesn't track your lookups.
SJ (Florida)
Nancy, I'm truly sorry you had to learn about Pepe. No sarcasm here. ☹️
James A (Ann Arbor)
Loved the puzzle! Had to google a few things, and had no problem with the anagrams, which were very clever. SEASHORE was the one where I figured out what was going on. The answers that trip me up in general are the multi-word answers that are clunky to parse when incomplete, like DOESTOATEE.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@James A SEASHORE is where I finally caught on, too. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing (even with a typo or two that delayed my gold star).
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
@James A I often mis-parse things even after I've filled them in. For your example, I might well have seen... DOEST OATEE. ..
Pete (Oregon)
@James A My misparse was 1A. Iwas wondering if HOTTA MALE was some new slang I just don't know about ;-}
PDWilliams (St Augustine FL)
OK, I give up! What is the alternative solve for 117-A ?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
PDWilliams, Look at the footnote in the column.
William Schnaer (Connecticut)
I see two possibilities - rats and tars. I don’t know if there is couch a thing as a black rat. It it seems there should be.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@William Schnaer “Rats” is what David Tuffs had in mind. A commenter last night suggested “black tsar,” which amuses me.
mporter (Maine)
no fun!
Jon (Montreal)
I have to be honest. I’ve been finding the puzzles the last few weeks much more difficult than they used to be. I found today’s Sunday puzzle very difficult. I used to get the Sunday puzzle or at least come close. Today I was leagues away. I’m getting older, which is true. I’m Canadian so I miss some of the American based clues. I’m older so I miss some of the clues for the younger generation. I actually still see how inventive and fun the puzzle is, but I’m hoping to regain some of my past skills which lately have been less efficient. Wondering if anyone else has felt this way of late. Still fun. I’ll still continue to try!!
Esmerelda (Montreal)
@Jon Yes, exactly how I feel. Must be something in the water in Montreal.
Ann (Massachusetts)
@Jon I agree they seem harder although I welcomed that because puzzles seem to have, in general, gotten easier than they were years ago. It’s hard to say because the difficulty depends so much on a solver’s background, age, etc. and one tends to develop a way of thinking about the clues and gets better at them.
canajun guy (canada)
Hey, mes amis, I'm an older Canadian too but I am finding the puzzles easier lately. Must be something in the Hamilton water.
Seymour B Moore (Quincy)
Not necessarily a novel concept for a puzzle, but well done overall. Chrism was a new word for me. Haven't been anointed very often myself
Seymour B Moore (Quincy)
@Seymour B Moore Is it the root for Christmas? Chrismas?
Frances (Western Mass)
@Seymour B Moore Christ means the anointed one as far as I remember.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Frances, Yep. Middle English Crist, from Old English, from Latin Christus, from Greek Christos, literally, anointed, from chriein https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Christ
Jim in Forest Hills (Forest Hills NY)
Had to look up the gimmick in the Wordplay blog which always makes me feel stupid. Thought this puzzle was harder then i expect a Sunday Puzzle to be. Struggled with it. Didn't enjoy it. Gave up after an hour. Moving on.
Saralyn (Atlanta)
Very fun puzzle! A great Sunday. Got briefly stuck on the anagram for OIL PALM but otherwise a smooth solve.
Frances (Western Mass)
ALWAYS CHECK THE CROSSES. I had EXaLT sitting there in the middle of the grid while i took out and put in the P in PEPE the frog, and finally looked elsewhere- sigh. Still in under average. It would have been really easy if I had just concentrated.
Jack McCullough (Montpelier, Vermont)
I like to look at a puzzle, start out by thinking I'm doomed, and then figure out how to solve the whole thing. That's what we had today. I have a bit of sympathy for the "I hated it" crowd today--more than I usually do. The anagram word seemed random, but give the constructor credit: each of the theme answers is not only an anagram, but is also an "in the language" phrase in its own right. See PEANUT ALLERGY/GALLERY as one example. (The theory of the racist origin of PEANUT gallery seems possible, but not confirmed.) The one that I questioned was BLACKSTAR, but apparently that's the name of a rap duo that I had never heard of, so it does conform to the pattern established in this one. So I've been there, this one pushed me almost up to my Sunday average, but I think it's a completely fair puzzle.
Frances (Western Mass)
@Jack McCullough I read most of the comments today which was a little depressing. I’m totally on board with people disliking puzzles and feeling free to say so without attacking the constructor, but don’t say that anyone who likes it or can see its virtues is deluded or dishonest or in bed with Big Crossword. Just thinking about it for a bit should make you realize that there would be something odd about that.
Cat Lady Margaret (Maine)
@Frances, blecch for the person who has to accuse others of being gaslit. But! Your hilarious phrase “in bed with Big Crossword” has made it all worthwhile. Hang on: are you on the shadow payroll along with Andrew and PM?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Cat Lady Margaret Don’t forget Lewis, who always seems to have something nice to say about the puzzle (and alway expresses his opinion eloquently). gotta be the top earner on the shadow payroll!
Nancy (NYC)
Isn't it weird that so many in-the-language phrases can be created by anagramming the second word of other in-the-language phrases? Weird...and also very interesting. Props to David for seizing on this anomaly in the first place and then executing it so well in a quite dense Sunday grid. I found this puzzle consistently interesting to work on. And PEANUT GALLERY/ALLERGY is sensational! Having said that, I'm a bit disappointed that the two different phrases couldn't have been melded in some way in the clues. I'm not sure if such a thing could be done, much less how it could be done, but by doing something of that sort, you can create many more "Aha!" moments while presenting solvers with much more of a challenge. Maybe too much of a challenge? Then you'd have complaints that the puzzle was too complicated and too difficult. Perhaps it's best left just the way it is. I have a hunch that most solvers will enjoy it.
Nat K (NYC)
Nancy, +1 to everything you wrote — just what I came to say. Anagrams were clever, the trick was well executed, and PEANUT ALLERGY was spectacular — but the absence of anything pulling it together other than “look at these anagrams that make other, unrelated phrases!” made this fall short of a top-tier puzzle.
Linda Porrino (NC)
@Nancy I could not have said it better myself. It was a fun puzzle, actually pretty easy at least for me. And very clever! I loved peanut allergy. Great fun for all.
Tito (Shreveport)
@Nancy I agree with your first paragraph, the concept is inspired and well executed. Clueing for the anagram would add another layer, but more is not always better. Keeping it simple, especially in a Sunday sized grid prevents solver frustration and aggravation, so I admire the constructor’s moderation and restraint.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
So, the NYT thinks the DNC is 'left-leaning'? Hmmm... I had SNC (since equality was pretty radical, right? SNCC was closely monitored by FBI, etc.) Do babies have MENTAL LEAPS? ... more like stages, phases, steps, developmental milestones... I started the puzzle at the bottom, but that was the last one for me to 'get' even though it was filled in. That said, I loved the feeling when suddenly a Trig problem laid itself open for me. Best example: her Teacher overcomes the sensory barriers and Helen Keller realizes that everything has a name in the movie "The Miracle Worker." Yes! I carry my EPIPEN everywhere now! And my phone (even sometimes charged!) Pls stop nagging. Tuffs puzzle.
Frances (Western Mass)
@Mean Old Lady I once heard the US two party system described as “a conservative party and a very, very, conservative party”.
MB (Maine)
Someone help me: 74A—G or K: thou? What the heck? Other than that, fun puzzle. Loved the twisty theme.
Kevin (Boston, MA)
Would it help to think of “10G” or “10K”?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
MB, G(rand) K(ilo) Thou(sand)
Linda Porrino (NC)
@Barry Ancona thank you
ninjastar (Massachusetts)
I like to be positive so here goes: I enjoyed seeing PEANUTALLERGY and EPIPEN in the puzzle. If you know anyone with serious food allergies, my son's allergist recommends having 2 on hand at all times. Other than that my reaction was: "The second word is an anagram. Got it."
Ann (Massachusetts)
When I do a crossword I am just mainly focused on figuring it out and I don’t really analyze the clues and answers all that much. But I did keep thinking that DNC can’t be correct for Left leaning organizing group. DNC is totally mainstream. I was also naive about pepe because I am just out of the loop on the latest memes. There was no blatant endorsement of pepe, but it is unsettling to include it.
Ann (Massachusetts)
I still enjoyed doing the puzzle. I don’t think there was any subliminal statement or anything like that.
Mike (Houston, TX)
@Ann I really don't get all the comments griping with left leaning and DNC! Since our current political party system is binary, one of those parties leans more to the left and one of those parties leans more to the right! The clue doesn't say anything about the degree of the lean, and too many people are inferring that left leaning is akin to extremism.
Jim (Ontario)
@Ann I don't have an issue with any inclusions. Someone above whined about Jaden Smith being included, for Pete's sake! I don't think inclusion of something that you might not be in favour of is going to sway you to change your mind on that perspective. I don't know why people are afraid of factual references. Why must the crossword be taylored for any one particular group, be it political or granny's quilting bee? Maybe white supremacists want the occasional gimme answer in the puzzle.
Lily (Cincinnati)
Too bad so many people disallow Pepe, the sweet frog who was nearly a perfect meme at one time. That one crude figure was capable of saying a lot, for some reason, and it was so wholly innocent. I truly hate what has happened to it, and wish it could be taken back. I was okay with this puzzle, but I do sort of wish the theme answers were more related in their anagrammatic state. A couple of them were, and that felt more like a treat. My issue, probably with editors, is one that maybe bothers only me, and that is the term IM. It's very 90s/early 00s, and is always clued like it is a *current* thing. No one instant messages; they chat on Snapchat, message on Instagram and TikTok, DM on Twitter, text with SMS, chat or group chat on WhatsApp, I will die on this hill/fight me, to use some slightly less old memes.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Lily, No fighting, please, but I had no problem with IMS in the grid since I now think of "instant messaging" as a generic term. If they editors know TBT (96A), I'd say they also know what you wrote.
Lily (Cincinnati)
@Barry Ancona See, I wouldn't actually argue with you, it would be a pretty silly hill to die on. But it's always going to bug me to see it clued as current rather than past. I do not ever see it as part of any contemporary lexicon. And I feel like if you put it a bit in the past, you could probably make more interesting clues for it, to do with the messaging systems we first used, etc. I have set up four crossword puzzles now, and have had to stop to work more on the clues. it's tough to work on both broad and narrow scopes simultaneously. But it's interesting work.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Lily FWIW...I've never heard of PEPE the Frog, and I don't know what has 'happened to it." ... and I don't know what a Twitch is meant to be (it used to be a restraint on an animal's nose, such as a bull)....IM is still a 'thing' to me (which I don't do, but at least I have that much of a clue.
Tckh (Minnesota)
Confidently entering velvETROPES threw me off for the longest time!
Mothra (Calgary, Alberta)
@Tckh I'm still lost with that one... got all the other anagrams, but cannot for the life of me figure this one out. Throw a gal a bone, couldya?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Mothra, POSTER.
Michael (Texas)
@Mothra guessing MOVIE POSTER
Allison Rogers (Birmingham, Alabama)
Whew- I figured out the trick but still slugged through. Loved seeing PEANUT ALLERGY and EPIPEN in the same grid. I was watching Toy Story with my kids while solving and couldn’t believe serendipity when I heard WOODY shout at Buzz “you are a toy!”
Rob (Baltimore, MD)
@Allison Rogers My reaction as well. I liked the theme! But as sometimes happens, I was held up by variant spellings (TONYA, DITSY), social media trivia (TBT, LAG), and ignorance of the celebrities of the day, which made those areas a slog. Fun otherwise.
Bob Boner (Ct)
Very,very clever!
Ivy (SE Mass)
This puzzle was pretty easy for me and I figured out the theme pretty quickly but overall it wasn't very enjoyable. It just didn't "spark joy" like some Sunday puzzles where I marvel at the cleverness.
SPB (Virginia)
Today's anagrammed entries are exceptional, as are the ones that didn't make the cut that David shared in his Constructor Notes - what wonderful discoveries! Although I certainly appreciated the theme as I was solving, featuring both aspects of each themed entry in the clueing would have greatly increased the enjoyment for me. As it was, I felt that the delight that should have been highlighted was left unheralded. So I particularly appreciated the Constructor Notes today, which refocused me on the terrific turns of a phrase that were the essence of today's solve. Thank you, David - I love your keen eye on the marvels of language!
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@SPB Great to see you! Hope all is well.
RDJ (Charlotte NC)
Shout out to Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton!
hugh (Wadsworth IL)
the clue for 30 across on the puzzle I'm presented is fish with a prehensile tail but the app reveals the correct answer to be seashore not seahorse. whiskey tango foxtrot?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
hugh, Shore is an anagram of horse. All of the shaded/circled squares, the second part of the entries, are anagrams. The puzzle is ORDERING SECONDS. (Hope you read that five by...)
CFXK (Alexandria, VA)
C-SPAN does not set up cameras around the House of Representatives. The cameras in the House are owned by the Congress, and are set up and controlled by the Office of the Speaker. C-Span, an independent cable entity, merely receives the feed given to it, and then transmits that feed.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
CFXK, That came up here last night: https://nyti.ms/3utmDCE#permid=117774861
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@CFXK I think there's a very loose usage of the word "has" in the clue that's common in everyday language and does not presuppose ownership: I have full sun in my yard most of the day. This does not mean I own the sun, or even that I set it up. But it's there for me, and I use it. Seems good enough for me.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Steve, If the clue just said "has" I would agree, but it also includes "set up." As you acknowledge, you may have the sun in your yard, but...
John (Jersey Coast)
Just checking in and will finish up later. Must be spring fever, I've been finding it harder to focus on the Sundays. This is a good one and worth the effort. Thank you.
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
Appropriate clue/answer possibility that dawned on me this morning (for no particular reason): Clue: "It was located by an inmate." Answer: CONFOUNDIT (never been in a puzzle and not even in the Xword Info word list). Anyway... definitely the longest I've ever spent on a puzzle. I did finally 'catch on' but kept thinking there was some level of the trick that I just wasn't getting. Apparently not. But... it was a good long workout. No real complaints. And, I finished with one wrong square. On reflection I probably could have found it (confound it!), but I was just out of gas so hit 'check puzzle.' No big deal. ..
Lewis (Asheville, NC)
Man, a lot of talent and perseverance had to go into coming up with these theme answers. David did it the old-fashioned way, by finding a massive list of anagrams online, then culling through them using just his brain, rather than having computer code spit out answer possibilities. That’s the perseverence part, manually working out possibilities. Because surely, the great majority of the anagrams he came across wouldn’t work. For instance, take puzzle answer GENRE, which anagrams to RENEG. Is there a word that beautifully jives with GENRE and RENEG? No. But David had to put in time and effort to come to that conclusion – each time! The talent part is coming up with a word that actually works well with each half of an anagram pair. Coming up with ROCK to go with IDOLS and SOLID, or SEA to go with HORSE or SHORE. Here, can you come up with a word that goes with LUMPS and PLUMS (which Jeff Chen came up with by coding and put in his blog)? It takes a special ability, IMO, to find these words using the brain alone. (The answer is SUGAR.) So bravo and thank you for what you put into this puzzle, David. Even I, to whom anagrams do not come easily, enjoyed solving this on top of admiring the work and cleverness that went into it.
Shari Coats (Nevada City CA)
@Lewis Thank you for that illuminating information. I already appreciated the puzzle and the work that went into it, but you made me appreciate it even more with that background.
Catherine (Sligo, Ireland)
Straightforward and enjoyable. One of my faster solves. I enjoy it when I cotton on to what's happening reasonably early on and things swiftly fall into place. Literally today.
Can someone please explain 74-across to me?
Nathan (Chennai, India)
@VG think one grand or one kilo
JB (Philadelphia)
@VG Both represent one thousand: G (for Grand) is usually money as in 5G's. K (for Kilo I think) can be money as in $5K, and it's also used for other quantities. Think I saw this explained in previous comments - might shed more light
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
From reading the comments, the issue (for younger solvers?) seems to be that while most know K for a thousand and some know G for a thousand they don't know THOU for a thousand.
Jim (Nc)
Perhaps a personal worst— over an hour over my average. Odd since I have no problem with anagrams. ‘Nuff said.
Sam Lyons (Sammamish but still Santa Feish)
HIALL! Dear Höthr of the ÆSIR (not to he confused with Hathor), I count the following heart-fluttering and heart-stopping sources for today’s puzzle: Code of the Nesilim; French lit; Brit bio; Assorted purple prose of the,“It was a dark and STORMY night,” variety; ru nu peret em heru (Book of the Dead); Alice in Wonderland; big ten dot org; Pangur Bán, for one; Homer; Chekhov; both Eddas, Völsunga saga, mmm! This is one sexy puz… um… one HOT TAMALE of a puzzle.
Jake Jortles (Jacksonville)
A dark and stormy is a cocktail.
Lynn Murray (Yorktown Virginia)
Also the first line of a bad novel, "It was a dark and stormy night...."
LBG (Mount Laurel, NJ)
The 'national drink' of Bermuda.
AudreyLM (Georgetown, ME)
I think David W. Tuffs deserves a POWERSTRIP for this one. It's a terrific Sunday--amazing feat of wordplay (creating a new common phrase from an existing common phrase) and Wednesday level difficulty. Respect.
Can someone explain what the anagram for TROPES was? Thanks!
Mass HOS (Massachusetts)
@CBH POSTER. It only came to me after solving.
Mike (Santa Cruz)
@CBH Me too.
Esmerelda (Montreal)
@CBH It only came to me after reading these comments.
Cynthia Brooman (Delaware, Ohio)
This was a tough puzzle. (I'm waiting for the complaints, saying that it was MIEN.) Some clues I really liked were: 15A "It has cameras set up around the house" CSPAN; "G or K" THOU; "Animals in hibernacion" OSOS. Thanks for the honorable mention of SAL Khan, who has built a great educational website in Khan Academy. If you know a person of any age who is having trouble learning math, then that is the place to go. Speaking of math: 97A "Two fifths of a quarter" is set up as follows: 2/5 * $0.25 = $0.50 / 5 = $0.10, so ten cents. I didn't much care for 39A "Boglike" MIRY. Ugh. Also have seen 120A "Face-planted" ATEIT a few too many times. But overall, this was a good puzzle for a mental workout.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
"I'm waiting for the complaints..." Cynthia, I gather you posted before reading the comments.* *Fine if you like to do that and don't mind the irony.
Cynthia Brooman (Delaware, Ohio)
@Barry Ancona Yes, I posted at maybe 2:30 am (EDT), so there were no complaints yet, but I knew they would be coming... The standard ordering of the comments is "Newest" first, so I suppose most people see the early posts at the bottom.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Cynthia, I'm puzzled by your response, and confused about where and how you look for comments, since there were complaints posted here starting about 6:30 p.m. ET yesterday.
Oren (Tel Aviv)
I really disliked this one. The definitions were all frustratingly generic, like, what am I supposed to do with a hint like "they're out on their own"? But more importantly, the gimmick was lame. There were no hints to it, so it felt unfair. And it's just an inelegant idea, because the actual answer is just "some term that exists". I'm kind of annoyed that I spent time on this, to be honest. Hope next week is better.
Ahmed (Palestine)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
"...the gimmick was lame. There were no hints to it..." Oren, I appreciate your frustration not seeing the puzzle theme ... during your solve. For me, the puzzle title, ORDERING SECONDS, was an excellent theme hint (once I figured out what it meant!). For others, Caitlin explained the theme in the column.
Nat K (NYC)
Barry Ancona, To be fair to @Oren, I think he is expressing (perhaps, um, inelegantly) the same frustration as @Lily, @ninjastar, and most eloquently @Nancy did — and one that I share: namely, the lack of a connection between the anagrams and the clues or among each other. Other than being anagrams of the answers that fit the clues, the gray-boxed words didn’t have anything in common and were not connected to a theme. While I evidently had more fun solving the puzzle than @Oren did, I also felt that this lack of connection made the puzzle less satisfying that it could have been, and merely serviceable rather than really outstanding.
American Expat (Asia Pacific)
It took a long while, and once I got the hang of the anagram feature, relatively straightforward, but fairly hard. APERY was hard and perhaps a bit of a stretch, as was ISH.
Leebenningfield (Boston)
Nobody makes a Manhattan with Tennessee whiskey. It's either bourbon or rye.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Leebenningfield Even if that rye was produced in Tennessee? The clue works for me.
Jim (Nc)
@Leebenningfield Technically, Jack Daniels is not bourbon, but it is close enough I’d wager plenty would not notice the difference in a Manhattan.
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Jim yikes really?
Nikhil Lakhani (Pittsburgh, PA)
I was a teenager on the internet in the 2010s, so I remember the early days of the Pepe meme- it was very much apolitical up until circa 2016. I don't have a problem with its inclusion for that reason- in fact, I like seeing more and more references pertaining to my generation (e.g. 'EBOY' from last Thursday). Of course, knowing its modern day connotations, I get the concern. I just want to give context that to many people, Pepe is still just an innocent frog who doesn't mean any harm.
ArabellaT (NY)
@Nikhil Lakhani It was shocking this meme was used as an answer. That meme represents a loathsome contingent of ultraconservative bigots. Its use is highly offensive. Why did the editor fail to catch it?
American Expat (Asia Pacific)
@Nikhil Lakhani I'm not sure I fully understand the strong allergic reaction to what is merely a crossword clue. Are we to exclude all references that derive from the Third Reich, for instance, or anything else that is from those episodes of history or culture that take place under a DARKSTAR? Maybe COOTIES should be a solution to a clue in the future.
Lily (Cincinnati)
@Nikhil Lakhani My youngest son, who is 23, just loved/loves Pepe, and tries to still use it to convey emotions in our group chats and text. (Never IMS, which have not been a thing since I do not remember when,) and I wish almost just for his sake, that it could be so again. Pepe's crying face is kind of brilliant, and the little forlorn one can convey a lot. It's so frustrating when people use nice things to portray awfulness.
Jenny (Lethbridge)
At first, I thought this one was going to be tough, but it turned out to be fun. I'm still new, and I appreciate the advice of the commenters who have said to leave it and come back. Great advice! I figured out all of the anagrams but for "tropes" and "lapse". What are those?
Great Lakes (US)
@Jenny Poster and leaps. I needed the column to get the last one.
Sarah Amberwood (Hudson Valley)
Not going to let this puzzle ruin our 550+ day streak, and I don't like being petty or mean, but I thought this "theme" was pretty pointless. And yeah, about Pepe, smooth move NY Times. That's horrible.
Charles Anderson (Brooklyn)
Ol' Pepe was, of course, put to horrific use. I get that. Not sure I understand the frequent objections to this or that term, though. Are we to assume an implicit *endorsement* of the thing or person represented by each answer? If so, I'm surprised there's not more outrage at the frequent appearances of the 20th century world leader who offed more people than the next two combined.
Runcible Spoon (DC)
@Charles Anderson it's too soon, too visceral, too sensitive. AND unnecessary, as another clue easily could be used to elixit the word that solves it. That is the objection -- why normalize the meme by using it as a newspaper crossword clue, on the same level as any other anodyne clue/answer? It is the insensitivity displayed by use of this clue for 17D that is repulsive (in addition to the current meaning of the symbol itself described in the clue).
Runcible Spoon (DC)
@Runcible Spoon ("elixit" should read "elicit")
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
It took me a bit longer than I’d have liked to realize the shaded squares were anagrams, which I enjoy playing around with. It’s impressive that each theme answers is a common phrase both as it appears in the grid and as it would appear if the answer fit the clue. But how could I have never noticed that “gallery” anagrams to “allergy”? Nicely done, Mr. Tuffs.
SJ (Florida)
The inclusion of pepe in this puzzle, a fully alt right meme, is gross.
polymath (British Columbia)
I thoroughly agree.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@SJ Agreed. (It was used by Hong Kong protestors recently — against proposed changes to extradition laws — but is still bound up with white supremacist/4chan Nazi types). Not sure if Frank Pepe of New Haven pizza fame is well enough known to have served as the clue. Or the old standby, “Nickname for José.” If clued to the meme, imo, it should at least include reference to the hate groups who have appropriated it.
Liz (Somerville, MA)
@SJ agreed. could easily have been clued with “____ Le Pew”; not sure how that slipped past the editors.
Bluevoter (San Francisco)
I print out the puzzle and solve it on paper away from my computer so that I am not tempted to Google or search for something. My problem today wasn't with the anagrams, but with obscure things like "AESIR". And, for me, the DNC is a far cry from a "left-leaning organizing grp." Can't say I'm a big fan of "ATE IT" either. One question: what animal makes the sound "MAA"? Maybe I'll enjoy next week's puzzle more....
Great Lakes (US)
@Bluevoter I think MAA is supposed to be a goat.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Great Lakes Yep. Crossword solving rule No. 117: Sheep baa, goats maa.
Cynthia Brooman (Delaware, Ohio)
@Eric Hougland With a baa baa here And a maa maa there Here a baa, there a baa Everywhere a maa maa ...
Alita Shaver (Carrboro NC)
Tuff stuff.
Andrew (Ottawa)
@Alita Shaver More like Tuffs stuff.
navcad82 (cooperstown)
I feel kind of stupid now. I thought 1A was HOTTAMAMA, which was kind of lame. Then got HOTTAMALE, and thought Hot Male? Then realized it was Hot Tamale!! hahahahaha!!!
Darcey (Sandy Hook, CT)
@navcad82 I started out with alphAMALE; don’t they have their choice of the females? It made sense to me… but certainly didn’t help me get the crosses! 🤦🏻‍♀️
Matt G. (Woodinville, WA)
Great puzzle and, like everyone else, I was impressed with PEANUT GALLERY, and I also liked the Dark/STORMY connection (which, since I did this puzzle at night, seemed appropriate, though there were no beagles howling in their kennels). Only a couple of weak entries (rarely used plurals), and otherwise tough but fair.
Henry Su (Washington DC)
@Matt G. I bet you also like the PEANUTs/STORMY connection.
Great Lakes (US)
I do the across entries first, then the downs. Sooo... when I caught on to the theme with ROCK SOLID, I had to go back and take out the across entries I entered prematurely. Also had a hard time coming up with BLACK ARTS and SEA HORSE, for some reason, and ANA for the Star Wars nickname held me back in the MIDDLE EAST. Loved PEANUT GALLERY. Nice debut Sunday, David Tuffs. It's clear you put a lot of work into this puzzle, and I appreciate it. But I cannot come up with an alternate solution for 117A, because your puzzle has tired out my brain. Cheers, anyway!
Joaquin (SoCal)
59A - [Partner of dark] / STORMY reminds me of the annual Bulwer-Lytton writing contest, honoring the writer of "It was a dark and stormy night." The object is to compose the worst possible first sentence of a novel. A winner from years ago that still amuses the daylights out of me: "Seeing how the victim's body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer "Dirk" Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase 'sandwiched' to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt.”
M&M (East Village)
@Joaquin we'd read that book!
polymath (British Columbia)
Joaquin: That's okay.
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
David Connell (Weston CT)
I hate that I have to hold my phone one inch from my eye. I hate the new layout. I haven’t been so frustrated in many long years. I wish the tech people were never born to ruin user interfaces with their improvements. Sundays are nearly impossible now, thanks to the tireless techies at NYT, working day after day to make the experience miserable.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@David Connell - Now I have 1) finished the puzzle and 2) read the comments. I have nothing to say about the puzzle or the comments. The horrible, terrible, frustrating no-good experience of solving the puzzle after this month’s update keeps me from feeling anything but frustration and upset. Thanks to the tech crew, I now officially dread Sunday puzzles.
polymath (British Columbia)
David Connell, I am not entirely clear about what the "new layout" or update was. (I solve on a computer so don't have problems reading the puzzle.) (I do have the impression, however, that I am now seeing advertisements when I solve the puzzle, which seems new to me, but maybe I just didn't notice them before?)
David Connell (Weston CT)
@polymath - there is a whole subset of users who got the new layout and either quit or threatened to quit the site, a few weeks back. Perhaps most are now gone, or have given up. I don’t think I’m going anywhere, but it’ll have to be a darned good puzzle for my irritation at the new format to be overcome. And I don’t really mind saying, this puzzle didn’t.
M&M (East Village)
Its always fun when you figure out the theme and then realize, you get to puzzle over each individual theme answer. We like it when, at that moment we get to run through all the theme clues thinking we know what we are doing now, but in reality the fun has just begun. And you had us till the last square with G or K; after the music stopped we still had to puzzle out why THOU would be correct... (maybe we were just having a too good a time)
Paul (Wisconsin)
@M&M I still don’t get G or K to THOU. Can you explain it?
Michael Ostroff (Pasadena, CA)
@Paul G = Grand, K = Kilo, Thou = Thousand Took me a while, though
Laura (Sebastopol, CA)
@Michael Ostroff Thanks.. I came to the comments just for that one, and all I can say is Ugh..felt so obscure to me. Oh well. Thanks for the info though.
Robert Michael Panoff (Durham, NC)
Getting started was the hardest part, and quickly conceded my usual starting point. Ended in 1d/1a instead of starting there. CSPAN was my toehold, then worked (plodded) down, over and up. Longest Sunday time in forever, but finished. Didn't really use the themes, but fiddled with the anagrams. Nice crunch on a Saturday night with OIL PALM reminding me tomorrow (this is saturday night) is PALM Sunday.
Susan S. (Pennsylvania)
I’m glad I persisted.
David Fuchs (Boston MA)
Regarding “could not get WOODY based on one line from a movie.” It’s not like it’s an obscure line from a random film; rather, it’s the main theme of one of the most popular movie franchises ever.
Great Lakes (US)
@David Fuchs That was one of the funniest lines, too.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@David Fuchs I could instantly remember the movie and Tom Hanks’ delivery of that line. Too bad it took a bit longer to get WOODY’s name.
Clem (Nashville)
@polymath You got that through? Congratulations! You must know somebody … I have had so many comments rejected for just vaguely suggesting men and women get together for purposes other than just doing xwords. Hat tip to ya!
Whoa Nellie (Out West)
Just tired. 1:22:12. Thank you David W. Tuffs for throwing me (mentally) into the rough. I'll pass on seconds. 'Got the theme, filled out 98% of the grid, but got bogged down, as usual, by people - super model, Will Smith's kid... no problem with Monsieur EMILE, as he's around more than an Oreo. I enjoyed the clever clues - they kept things lively, especially lower left, 98D EPIPEN. 115A contributed to my mental distress - had considered MENTALSHAPE, MENTALSLOPE, everything but MENTALSPACE. And then there was 103D "Norse pantheon" Whaaa...? Felt like Sisyphus trying to roll the right answer. but it was more downhill for me. I won't forget AERIS, uh, AESIR any time soon. Well it's done, and there's hope for another go tomorrow. Also hope the brave and rebuilt Tiger will sink a putt or two tomorrow at the Masters.
Samantha N. (Rochester)
Man I cannot stand anagrams. But I will say, as an anagram-loather, I was able to suss out most of the theme entries once I understood the theme. Which for me personally made the puzzle difficult, but not as difficult as I have found other anagram puzzles in the past, where I typically end up having to look up the answers. So while I didn't love today's puzzle I still can appreciate it. Happy Sunday everyone !
Henry Su (Washington DC)
A GRUB sitting on top of an EGYPTIAN made me think of the scarab beetle. And I breathed a sigh of relief when it was CLAP, not sLAP, next to JADEN.
Alietr (Bethesda, MD)
There is a subtle error in 15A ("It has cameras set up around the House"). The answer is C-SPAN, but C-SPAN does not have any cameras in the House of Representatives; those cameras are controlled by the House Recording Studio, and no other television cameras are allowed in the chamber. This is a common misconception. C-SPAN takes its feed from the House Recording Studio. (My wife works for the Senate Recording Studio, and it is the same situation there.)
Henry Su (Washington DC)
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Alietr But the clue is close enough for government work, right?
Speede (Hanover, NH)
As soon as I tumbled to the neat theme, I began to imagine how to automate a search for such anagrams. I was glad to learn how David Tuffs did it, and was impressed by his Herculean effort. For another triple anagram besides 117A, some tree maladies present as DEAD TOPS.
Andrew (Ottawa)
I found this very tough, but ultimately very enjoyable. I got the theme fairly early on and I enjoy anagrams, so had a good time working out the theme clues. The fact that the entries made sense with both anagrams was mind- boggling. “March madness figure” was one of the greatest clues of all times IMO. I don’t understand some commenters’ reasoning that, because they hated the puzzle, therefore no one could possibly like it. Apparently we are all just planted here by the NYT to pretend to like it. Unbelievable!
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Andrew You are getting your weekly check, aren’t you? Like most of NYT’s plaints, I hate crosswords (borrr-ing) but I love the green stuff.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Puzzlemucker *plaint / pliant. I had my autocorrect set to anagram mode and it did not recognize “plant.” (Ok, ok, it was a typo. I hope the NYT doesn’t take the “typo deduction” from my weekly check”.)
Henry Su (Washington DC)
@Puzzlemucker I've set up direct deposit for mine. I'll also take bitcoin.
Charles Anderson (Albany , OR)
MEH is the best answer - it describes the entire puzzle
replay (2022 NCAA CHAMPIONS)
Kudos to Caitlin Lovinger for explaining this puzzle. If you haven't read her column, you should, because she put a lot of effort and hard work into it. Thanks Caitlin
Rosemarie McMichael (San Francisco)
Not fun for me and I consider myself a pretty good solver, but if Mr. Tuffs had fun that's all that matters.
Amy (Los Angeles)
Gee, I don't understand people who criticize the puzzles in general. I like every puzzle. I'm no expert and I've never constructed one myself but I do every puzzle everyday and I always complete them come hell or high water. I love the challenge and I'm entertained by the wordplay and trivia. The NY Times editors do an excellent job of selecting and editing the puzzles. And I really appreciate the precision cluing. Crosswords in other publications are not always so exacting.
Whoa Nellie (Out West)
@Amy Very well said! Every puzzle can't be a favorite, but each has got something to offer.
EJ (Singapore)
@Amy I completely agree. I see a lot of comments here of people bashing (perfectly good) puzzles simply because they couldn’t solve it easily, or solve it, period. Puzzles are meant to stretch our brains and challenge our minds — if they just wanted to know the answers, the answer key is right there.
Nikhil Lakhani (Pittsburgh, PA)
@Amy Agreed! Poor David Tuffs. Remind me to never read the comment section of Wordplay if I ever get a puzzle published in the Times.
nrk (RI)
I've been a comment-lurker, getting to know the regulars and appreciating when I have not been the only one to struggle with a particular puzzle. COVID got me started and I've got a streak of 500 some odd games (with a bare minimum of research when necessary. I'm not a purist, but I don't like to "cheat" either). Not nearly as fast as many of you, but I do try to speed-solve. Anyway, now that you know me, I'll opine that I loved this puzzle. Clever but accessible and no look-ups required, despite the many unknowns when I began. Thanks to David Tuffs for this one.
Henry Su (Washington DC)
@nrk Welcome. Glad that you've "de-lurked."
Mr Mark (California)
Yes, welcome nrk! Nrk no longer lurks.
Tito (Shreveport)
@nrk Welcome! Agree with your comment about the puzzle, definitely clever and accessible. Thanks for chiming in, and do stick around.
Henry Su (Washington DC)
This puzzle was FUN TUFFS. Well done, David. I assume that the alternate anagram for 117A would be BLACK TARS. Cf. MIRY. My favorite themer, however, is PEANUT ALLERGY, which pairs nicely with EPIPEN.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Henry, I like your BLACK TARS. I wanted BLACK TSAR. The constructor said he was thinking of BLACK RATS.
coloradoz (Colorado)
@Henry Su I thought of BLACK TARS because I once drank a BLACK TAR beer in a Florida craft brewey. One and only, as the name is fairly descriptive of the taste
Henry Su (Washington DC)
@Barry Ancona Ah, I missed the asterisk in the notes and didn't scroll further.
Rod D (Chicago)
Harder than your typical Sunday puzzle. And not especially fun. A grueling ordeal.
Mike (Munster)
Predicting when the tides will come in is a shore bet. (Sea what I mean?)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Mike, You base this on gazes from a stormy inlet?
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
@Mike I ought to just wave this off, but I'll let you coast…
Ann (Massachusetts)
ITSAMESS is perfect to get partway through until you figure it out. If I had done this the way I used to do crosswords, on paper with a pen, it would have indeed been a mess! It was extremely satisfying when I got my gold star. It was also great fun. Excellent Sunday debut Mr, Tuffs! Hope we get more puzzles from you!
Felix (Flagstaff, AZ)
Loved this one. Smart theme. "Ordering seconds" was a strong clue, and the highlighting helped too. Lots of fun!
Patrick J (Sydney Aus.)
@Felix Oddly, I picked up on the anagrams but somehow didn’t relate to the title, just went with the “It’s Sunday” vibe.
JayTee (Kenosha, Wi)
Anagrams aren't my strongest suit, but this was clever and achievable. It was immediately recognized that the theme entries were not answers to clues as stated, but it took a little longer realize that one had to reorder the second word, which then became the correct answer for the clue. Very clever, David.
Paul (NY)
@JayTee Im not sure I'd want to meet the person who had anagrams as their strongest suit....sounds like the same kid who ate paste in kindergarten
M&M (East Village)
@Paul we don't remember ever eating paste... but we do enjoy an anagram. And the Spelling Bee...
Ben (Melbourne AUS)
@Paul Not sure how the two are linked, but both apply to me. And I don't think you'd want to meet me, either :)
Patrick J (Sydney Aus.)
Put in MPH for115D. (Cars didn’t start showing fuel consumption until long after we here used litres per 100 km, so I went for the figure that was familiar). Then I looked neither long nor hard at 122A. hAZES seemed a quite sensible entry, so I accepted it without checking. Cost me a lot of fly specking.
Gilead Kutnick (Cleveland)
@Patrick J This one caused me a lot of grief too. Even my 2018 Volt doesn't show MPG on the dash, or at least not normally. It does show it on the center console when you park but that's not the dash...
dumluk (Georgia)
Enjoyable puzzle watching the Yankees win with Stanton hitting a home run and seeing run home
Puzzlemucker (NY)
I had a CONTENT REACTION to David’s CONTENT CREATION. Out of sight Sunday. Got the theme early but despite the shaded squares I kept forgetting the theme and thus kept taking the themer clues literally rather than laterally (or anagramatically). Loads of fun!
Cat Lady Margaret (Maine)
Nice debut! I’m not good at anagrams, but because these phrases work both ways, it was fun and easy to figure them out. Wouldn’t a Schrödinger version be amazing, where *either* of the anagrams worked, for both an across and all the down clues?? Yeah, I know, a probably impossible idea from this member of the PEANUT ALLERGY.
Sarah (Seattle, WA)
I thought this puzzle was very fun!! The anagrams made me giggle.
Art of the fudge (Near Boston)
I've always had a quibble with ESCAPEE. The EE ending usually designates someone who is the recipient of the verb, as in EMPLOYEE. People who escape, it seems to me, are escapers.
Doug (Tokyo)
@Art of the Fudge - Are they not both?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Art, It's different (as I know you know). With employment, there are two roles: employers and employees. Same with training: trainers and trainees. Escape has only one role so, as Doug noted, participants can be called both.
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
@Barry Ancona Wouldn't it be confusing if they were called both?
Kmv63 (New Jersey)
Really enjoyed this puzzle except for the bottom middle section. Wow did I struggle with that! I am amazed the way the minds of these puzzle creators work! Clever and satisfying.
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
@Kmv63 The one bit that gave me heartburn was 122-Across, to conform with what I thought was 115-Down. Dashboards (from "dash fig.") show RPMs and MPHs, in my experience. I guess a trip computer / GPS could supplement that with MPG but it's not a normal display on a dash, seems to me. YMMV, or YMPGMV.
Margaret (Brooklyn)
@Edward Rice I don't think it's that unusual these days to have an indicator on the dash that shows MPG. It's an electronic display, not a dial. My 2010 Forester had one, as does my friend's ten-year-old Honda hybrid. And I often see them in taxicabs.
HappyCat (NJ)
Someone explain 74A please?
Art of the fudge (Near Boston)
@HappyCat Short for Thousand (G for grand, K for kilo)
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
@HappyCat, G and K both can mean a (THOU)sand. G normally for money, K for most other uses.
Marty (Santa Monica)
You are not alone, @happycat. I got the answer correct — because it filled in — but didn’t understand it. Somehow, it felt like it violated one of the Ten Commandments of Crosswords: Thou shalt not befuddle.” Now that I see the explanation, I realize it was simply too clever for me!
ArabellaT (NY)
Hated it. Absolutely hated it. Hated it so much that I may stop my subscription to the New York Times. After 50 years. I am really depressed by this puzzle.
Ethan (Manhattan)
Don't go! There's always next Sunday. Brighter days ahead!
Bigbee (Houston)
I’ll take the contrary view: I loved it! Great fun.
Doug (Tokyo)
@Arabella T - Anything in particular or just “its whole vibe”?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Perhaps it's a MENTAL LAPSE, but anagrams are neither my interest nor my strong point, so I hit many a DEAD SPOT before discovering I had a PEANUT ALLERGY. After that, I was happy ORDERING SECONDS. Thank you, David!
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Barry Ancona I’m guessing that’s why you don’t do Spelling Bee.
Caroline (Brooklyn NY)
@Barry Ancona I'm so relieved to find that I'm not the only regular crossword puzzler who isn't very good at anagrams and am pretty lousy at Spelling Bee.
See also