Heads of State

Nov 13, 2021 · 184 comments
John Dietsch (West Palm Beach)
Solved this while watching my Patriots crush the Browns...double win! Ps - I didn’t cheat, and Pats didn’t either!
Michael Ostroff (Pasadena, CA)
KENYA didn't fit in 111A
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Michael Ostroff Fake news.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Steve, I assumed Michael offered a joke about said fake news, not a puzzle complaint.
Steve Cohen (Evanston IL)
@Barry and I assume Steve’s comment was in the same spirit as Michael’s.
Brenda (Portland, OR)
Oh this was fun! Took me a good long while, as Sundays are won’t to do, but several entries made me laugh out loud. Thank you!
Erica (Chicago)
This one really spoke to me and helped my self esteem after last week's puzzle which I still haven't been able to finish in well over an hour on the app. this one was one of my fastest, which is just a reminder that sometimes you're on the same wavelength as the creators and sometimes not. Standard for me is around an hour for a Sunday, give or take, and this one was only just around 24 minutes. Last week's I'm at 1:10 and am at a dead end on the NE corner even after reading the blog and running check puzzle. I normally do thursday-sunday at least on the app and haven't had a DNF in at least a year I'd say, but last week's Sunday really has me in a funk.
James (Alaska)
'Erse', as a clue for Gaelic Tongue, had me scratching my head. It comes from the Old English 'Ersch', meaning the Irish. It has a closer association to Scots-Gaelic than it does to Irish. I assume it is the word used by the English to refer to the native language spoken by the Scots. Also, 'Gaelic' or Gàidhlig (pron. 'Gah-lig') is the language spoken in Scotland. In Ireland, it is simply 'Irish'. Gàidhlig and Irish are closely related.
BW (Atlanta)
Okay puzzle, but the "theme" is a total non-starter. It's more of a pun or curiosity than a theme.
Ms. Cat (NYC)
Today was one of those days where I got all the answers (including TUKTUK, which I pulled out of some random corner of my brain) but I *still* don’t get the theme, even after reading Deb’s excellent column. It doesn’t happen often and even though I was pregnant 19 years ago, I think I have PPB (Permanent Pregnancy Brain). Sigh. We’ll at least there’s tomorrow’s puzzle to look forward to for a bit of an ego boost!
William Morgan (Midtown West)
Why is Otto an apt name for a school bus driver?
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@William Morgan It’s a loose homonym of “auto.”
Newaddict (Maine)
I found this puzzle had the woman's touch. Loved GO NIGHT NIGHT, LOVEY, POOL NOODLE, and ELMO's Not-Too-Late Show...and IGNORATI. Thank you, Aimee and Ella for your collaboration.
M (US)
Hmm, I have to weigh in on HOW DE DO. This is a contraction of "how do ye/you do", especially "ye". In early attestations it's often "how d'ye do". As such, it is often spelled, especially before the late twentieth century, with an E but no Y, perhaps because the Y sound is what's being elided. Charles Dickens spelled it that way (http://www.dickens-online.info/bleak-house-page369.html, http://www.dickens-online.info/the-pickwick-papers-page225.html), as did Gilbert and Sullivan in their Mikado number "Here's a How-De-dDo". NB these were British authors, and the phrase was apparently common in England throughout the nineteenth century. The OED actually attests the spelling "howdee do" in 1632. Only at the end of the nineteenth century did the "howdy" spelling start to take off, and it hasn't ever been significantly more popular in print, per Google Ngram (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Howdy+do%2Chow+de+do&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&case_insensitive=true). And incidentally, the OED distinguishes "how do ye/you do" and its variants from the similar "how do ye", which it traces as the origin of "howdy". That spelling is first attested, in US sources, in the 1830s, probably not coincidentally around the time the spelling howdy-do starts to appear more regularly. So we have two similar but distinct phrases, which gave rise to two similar but distinct contractions, which were later sometimes conflated. But not, it seems, in this puzzle.
Roger Floyd (San Diego)
When I can start filling in a puzzle like this right away I try to complete it the way one should paint a wall - with a wet edge. Connecting every word. I couldn’t do it today but I never had to jump far to find a gimme and continue covering the grid. That was a subtle theme. New to me: Mother Wit, SEO, Furikake and Ylem. For a few seconds I had Lane instead of Kent and wondered if it was a leaf from the sacred mountain called Fujikale. I am lucky that all the crosses for Ylem were easily accessible to me. The last letter to go in was E. Words like that, once revealed, can trigger a primordial memory in my mind but in this matter it was a black hole.
Grant (Delaware)
As an old paratrooper, I had STAND UP, hook up, shuffle to the door, jump right out and count to four. Also, MAC OS before MS DOS...we has Mac IIs in the computer lab when I was a kid.
Marty Wolk (Harstine Island, WA)
Ice Cream surname? Is Edy a regional brand? I was thinking Ery for creamery
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Marty, You've got Dreyer's, we've got Edy's. Same company. https://www.dreyersgrandicecream.com/brands/
Bellevue Bob (Bellevue, WA)
Okay, but not the most fun or challenging. One of my best times though. Finished in 13:50
paul bargren (wisconsin)
Pretty obscure on the theme front. Fun words elsewhere.
Seth (NJ)
Can someone please explain “mail, e.g.” as the clue for ARMOR? Thank you
jbesen (toronto)
@Seth Hi Seth..."mail" as in "chain mail". It's an element of a suit of armour.
DD (Klickitat)
Like chain mail.
Seth (NJ)
Thank you!
Crevecoeur (PA)
Interesting comments this time. I filled it all, but got too impatient to try running letters. Tuktuk and furikake. RPG and Ang. Those were my naticks so TIL them all. I read a lot of George Gamow years ago but do not recall ylem and was sure it had to be wrong, but drapery just had to be. Erse and Kate I guessed right, though wasn’t sure if I had. Had to really plug away at this, and only half got the theme. But some fun clues. Just getting it all filled in was good enough for me today.
Matt (Minnesota)
I could grumble about the TEST intersection or the spelling of HOWDEDO (I definitely had howdydo at first), but Sundays are large and there is a lot to love about this puzzle. The theme is very clever and well executed!
Jeff Jaeger (Philadelphia)
Did not know FURIKAKE, TUKTUK, ERSE or KATE and spent a lot of time trying Different combos of letters in the SE. Challenging but I learned a few things!
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Jeff Jaeger ERSE shows up a few times each year, so you’ll probably see it again. I found the SE corner the most challenging part of the puzzle. FURIKAKE and TUKTUK were new to me, and I’m not up on my Newbery Medal winners.
Matthew (New York)
95D - SEO is not a metric at all. Calling SEO a metric for online traffic is like calling Diet a metric for weight loss.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Matthew, Yep. That was noted here yesterday. https://nyti.ms/30orVSZ#permid=115479176
Michael (Minneapolis)
I couldn’t answer 44-Across without thinking of Stewie’s Griffin’s song about a girl named Susie, and Brian Griffin’s response: BG: Wow, a song named after a girl. There aren't a million of those already. SG: Name twenty! BG: Rosanna, Roxanne, Michelle, Alison, Sarah, Angie, Brandy, Mandy, Gloria, Cecilia, Maggie May, Jessica, Nancy, Barbara Ann, Billie Jean, Layla, Lola, Polly, Helena, Jenny From the Block. SG: Name six more! BG: Sherry, Laura, Wendy, Maria, Peggy Sue, Minnie the Moocher. SG: Name five more! BG: Tracy, Jean, Jane, Mary Ann, Eleanor Rigby. Makes me LOL every time. Great puzzle, I thoroughly enjoyed it. MOTHERWIT I have not heard often, TRIAGE, DAWG and GAUDY helped a lot there. REWIRE before REWIND, HOWDYDO before BARONET. Cheers.
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
Thirteen of the unknowns (GRUNGE, AMY,, ADT, YLEM [surprised not to know this!], TAZO, AQI, DAWG, ESSIE, SEO, RPG, TUKTUK, ANYA) filled themselves in surely with crosses. The other two I had to look up to get the still-needed crosses. I found an alphabetical list of cocktails that gave me the rest of N____NI. If I were still good at spelling I wouldn't have had to look up POOLNOODLi across (Euclid)iAN, but it was still a surprise. I was also surprised when FURIKAKE started to fill in. I assumed only Japanese speakers would know that word.
Maria (Wasilla, AK)
I fail at geology *and* Catholicism today - I had ten for TIN for the longest time. A very fun grid with lots of aha moments and little inward cheers as I recognized fun clues. I am always chuffed to se geek culture get included in the puzzle (Catan, Warcraft, Star Wars). Great job, Aimee and Ella! I can’t wait until you do another Zoom call. My only gripe is that the SE corner has me craving poké and Lei’s is (rightly) closed on Sunday and Monday. I may have to swing by the Asian grocery on my way home tomorrow!
Tovah (VA)
PB at 16 minutes and change. I didn’t notice the theme today until after, since I was in such a hurry! Cute.
Retired, with cat (Milwaukee WI)
Loved 31D SHE-EP. (Which I would have italicized like the clue itself, if I knew how.). Excellent puzzle!
Robert Michael Panoff (Durham, NC)
@Retired, with cat I missed the "SHEep" part altogether. I saw "sheep" and had an e so ewe was it. Clever cluing! I just wasn't clever enough to ShEEp it.
Yvonne (Canada)
Monday puzzle, not Sunday
Maggie Bee (Alberta, Canada)
Sundays usually take me well over an hour, even with a lot of lookups, but since I was also composing a grocery list, SUNDAE, FETA, FURIKAKE, and BOAR came to mind easily. And since we’re planning a trip to Costa RICA, changing planes in ONT, we’ll need to make sure our IDs are up to date!
Tom Kara (Modesto)
The theme helped my solve today. After getting the revealer I was able to go back and correct cSAR, fill in WIT above GAS and finish up the middle of the puzzle. I usually wait for crosses, but clued to Caesar I just went with the CS. Anyway else finish with the Y in YLEM? I headed straight to the column for an explanation of the theoretical primordial substance.
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
@Tom Kara I held off on the Kaiser thing until late, left it as __AR waiting for a T or C, or S or Z, to give it away.
Mu (Michigan)
I don't know why I dislike Sundays so much...i finished this one but it was my second chore after laundry today....
Tom (California)
I’m actually doing laundry while solving the Sunday puzzle… and I enjoy both! 🙂
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Tom Have I got a vacation idea for you! 😆
Kevin (Atlanta)
Good luck trying to find a PLASMA SCREEN for your tv display. They haven't been made since 2014.
Mela (Berlin)
This was fun! I felt like my eclectic musical tastes came in handy here, knowing “mother wit” from a Handel Oratorio and “patootie” from Rocky Horror <3
Susan Espourteille (Massachusetts)
I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle and achieved a personal Sunday best at just over 25 min. I had to reread/pore over the theme entries when I got to the reveal, which I found quite clever. Not "getting" the theme until the end didn't interfere with the fill; I kept plugging in the answers and knew I'd get there eventually! I also took issue with "howdedo", but I see that in fact it's legit. New knowledge for me! All in all, a very pleasant Sunday morning brain exercise.
msk (Troy, NY)
In India Tuk Tuk is called an auto-rickshaw (there could be subtle difference between these two) - Tuk tuk may be named after the noise it makes.
Charlotte K (Mass)
Easy solve but didn't get the joke until I came here and read about it. I flunked!
RoninFrance (France)
"Howdedo" isn't even recognized by UrbanDictionary (It's "Howdydo"). So......ennything goze eye spoze to maik it fitz.
JAM (Austin, TX)
Not sure why that would be your go-to source 🤔 but if you Google “how-de-do” you’ll find it in several dictionaries. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/how-de-do
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@JAM You mean 'several junk dictionaries' that little resemble scholarly compilations, methinks.
Philip (Edmonton)
@RoninFrance Search Google Books for "howdedo" and you'll see it appearing in numerous published works, particularly in the middle of the 20th century.
judy d (livingston nj)
Became engrossed in the three-volume work by Hilary Mantel on Thomas CROMWELL. Lots of STREET SMARTS!
Kate (Massachusetts)
Unrelated to this puzzle, but several have praised the “Out of Order” puzzle that appears in the print edition of the Sunday Magazine and the official NYT Games internet page (?). I’m excited to try it, but I’m just wondering why the NYT can’t get all of its games on the app (i.e., the Vertex) and why the Spelling Bee has had tabs for months (?), like the mysterious “Community “ tab that do not work??? Surely, this world-class publication can get its technology streamlined? I’d bet even a computer science student (intern) could help!
Kate (Massachusetts)
Lucky for me, I have a couple of kids who put FURIKAKE on practically all SOLID FOOD—and one of them even called his pacifier his NIGHT-NIGHT many moons ago. Not so lucky for me, I was stuck with the “keep trying” message for a while before giving in to that ugly “E” in HOWDEDO, but I finally relented and came by the happy music honestly. Loved learning the phrase MOTHER WIT. It is a beautifully encapsulating couple of words.
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Kate Furikake is a food group in this home as well.
kilaueabart (Oakland CA)
@Classic Hip-Hop Fan Just today found out that word is used in English. I hope it isn't pronounced like "fury cocky." (I guess "furry cocky" would be very acceptable, after what happened to "karaoke.")
Walter Zimmerman (Rochester, NY)
Wow -- what a refreshing puzzle! For once, I felt 'in sync' with the designers, and the correct letters just seemed to flow into the grid. Like others, I especially appreciate the Star Wars in-joke. Thanks for a nice punctuation to the weekend!
Nancy (NYC)
This theme went right over my head (pun intended). It had nothing whatsoever to do with my solving experience, and the only reason I didn't miss it completely is that MIND OVER MATTER sent me back to the grid to take another look. Certainly it wasn't the weak and rather "off" title, HEADS OF STATE, that sent me back to look. Oh, yes, there it is. BRAIN is over SOLID and WIT is over GAS, etc., etc. But so what? Aimee and Ella had fun with the theme -- me, not so much. But the good news is that the theme led to some colorful answers that stand on their own: PREGNANCY BRAIN; STREET SMARTS; LIQUID DIET and POOL NOODLE are four such. And then there's that awful SE corner comprised of FURI?AKE; TU?TU?; and ?ATE (as clued). Could have been CATE or NATE, but I kept putting in "K"s wildly, everywhere, guessed right and had a clean solve. Whew. Overall, this was a fairly pleasant puzzle -- even if it was one that I solved as a themeless. (I have nothing against themelessness.) And I did learn IGNORATI -- a coinage that I've never seen before but that I quite like. Don't be surprised if I borrow it to use sometime.
CaryAnn (Durham, NC)
This puzzle and my brain were in sync. Best SUNDAE time. The force was with me.
archaeoprof (Danville, KY)
Never have been a "Star Wars" fan, so 69D only came to me on crosses. But when at last MAY THE FOURTH filled in, I really did laugh out loud. Nice one, Amy and Ella!
Frances (Western Mass)
This ended up being fun! (Woulda been more fun with a non-Newtonian fluid.) At first it was really pushing my buttons- juice cleanse? LIQUID scam. An AURA is a fictional energy field, no? AND A BARONET IS NOT A NOBLEMAN. But as soon as I entered PLASMA SCREEN and thought “hang on, there’s no brain in there”, I saw the brain/phase conceit. Nicely done. Also, does that sundae in the picture have barley grains on it? That seems a little much.
Frances (Western Mass)
I since researched and I find a barony is considered lesser nobility so I guess I’m wrong. But definitely not a peer.
Vaer (Brooklyn)
@Frances I believe those are chopped walnuts on the sundae.
Frances (Western Mass)
@Vaer You’re right I had a nightmarish vision of malted barley grains as a garnish- there used to be a fashion of evocative but really unpalatable garnishes.
PuzzleDog (Flatland)
Had to use the old bean today, even though "bean" wasn't one of the "mind" answers. Actually, this puzzle was pretty easy for me--had to go back to see the mind over matter answers, which I think were quite a feat of construction. I confidently filled in "MOTHERWIT" although I couldn't believe it was the correct answer. Brought to mind this stanza from a wild, old wicked man.... 'A young man in the dark am I, But a wild old man in the light, That can make a cat laugh, or Can touch by mother wit Things hid in their marrow-bones From time long passed away, Hid from all those warty lads That by their bodies lay. Daybreak and a candle-end.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@PuzzleDog A joy to see a little Yeats on a Sunday morning. Thank you.
Ken S (Now in Florida)
A number of terms I have never heard of such as MOTHERWIT, PREGNANCYBRAIN, and YLEM and another that I, among others, take issue with, HOWDEDO. The last term I am familiar with, but never have I seen it spelled in such a way. I know that crosswords have frequently relied on “variants” of words and terms, but I do not believe this is truly such. Aside from those complaints, the theme, once realized, aided in finalizing the grid. I also learned of a heretofor unknown (to me anyway) Japanese condiment. A nice Sunday challenge.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Ken S MOTHER WIT is a sturdy old phrase not often seen these days (in usage OR in fact), but I totally agree about 'HOWDY-DO' (which is a shortened version of "HOW Do You DO?" A loud CLUNK greeted that entry.
Bob T. (NYC)
@Ken S Furikake is becoming mainstream enough that not long ago I bought a jar at Trader Joe's.
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
Whew. Terrific puzzle, but a long and challenging workout for me. Several longer answers that I only got with some crosses (HOWDEDO came ONLY from the crosses) and a lot of pondering and furrowed brow elsewhere as well. Ended up (I thought) around the LIQUID. DSL hadn't dawned on me, nor had AQI and I was saved only by finally realizing that was one of the theme answers. And, then the puzzle alerted me that I still had a wrong square someplace. I took a quick scan but didn't see it and finally just hit check. Turned out to be what I can only regard as a typo. No big deal - still had a lot of fun with this. One look-up today was for PATOOTIE. Wondered if the Fats Domino song 'Sweet Patootie' had ever been answer or been referenced in the clue for PATOOTIE. Nope and nope. Another kind of eyebrow raising search result that I'll put in a reply. ..
Rich in Atlanta (Austell, Georgia)
@Rich in Atlanta As threatened: I looked at the answer history for ONEG, mostly just wondering how often it had been clued as blood type vs. force of gravity, vs. a thousand. Well... just a mixed result there - it's been clued each of those ways multiple times. But... ... what really surprised me was this: It's been an answer 50 times in the Shortz era and... ONCE Pre-Shortz (clued as "a thou"). So then I went looking for ANEG and BNEG. ANEG - 5 times Shortz era - never pre-Shortz BNEG - exactly the same as ANEG Neither OPOS nor BPOS has ever been in any puzzle. APOS multiple times (68), but of course there's an alternate way to clue that (military addresses) and clues only referenced the blood type 5 times (all in the Shortz era). I'm done.
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Rich in Atlanta No shabbat meal clue, alas.
Monicat (Western Catskills)
Just want to say Bravo for today's "Out of Order" variety crossword by Alex Eaton-Salners. What fun!
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Monicat Noted. You're not the first to mention this (but maybe you are today.) You should also note, if you (or any other reader) don't realize, there's a separate column on the Variety puzzle every week, accessible from the main Wordplay page (which itself is accessible by clicking on the dateline--today, "Sunday puzzle", at the top of the article.) I suspect that many are unaware of this column, because it gets far fewer comments every week.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Steve L I did not realize it! Thanks.
Monicat (Western Catskills)
@Steve L @Mean Old Lady Thanks! I never knew that either.
John (Jersey Coast)
I've been working on my crossword/life balance lately (XW is winning!) and I was set to be annoyed with the time spent on this one. But, I'm glad I finished as there was a sweet payoff with the reveal, several TIL's (ALII, YLEM, ANYA) and an eyeroll or two (SEO as a metric?). Nicely done. Now, are all PATOOTIEs sweet?
SPB (Virginia)
@John According to Eddie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show's BRAIN donor, at least some PATOOTIEs are hot: https://youtu.be/pMRl55U0eDw
Bob T. (NYC)
@SPB Bless my soul
skeptical1cute (Orleans MA)
This was an extremely clever, youthful puzzle, the theme of which came out quickly in  21 across pregnancybrain, 47 across streetsmarts, 85 across motherwit, 92 across poolnoodle and 124 across mindovermatter. 97 across plasmascreen was a bit of a stretch. I hope we will hear more from these two constructors.
JAM (Austin, TX)
Not sure you fully got the theme. Did you read the column? There are paired rows reflecting a MIND directly on top of a type of MATTER.
Times Rita (NV)
I'm so glad my travel companions didn't take a video of me trying to get into a tuk tuk in Bangkok. I'm very short, there was no step, and I'm no spring chicken. Inelegant would be a kind way of describing it. I literally had to crawl in on my back and then shimmy up to the seat. I hurt for three days after that.
NovelaMaven (Wisconsin)
From "Heads of State" to "Lincoln or Ford" to "Candidate's focus," I kept a look out for presidents...or world leaders...or politicians. NADA! Didn't glom onto the theme until "Mind Over Matter"! And yet I didn't mind. It didn't matter because the puzzle was a sweet enough sundae clue by clue. The clever theme was just the cherry on top. P.S. Agree with above comments about "Lapp." It shows respect to refer to people by the term they prefer.
Times Rita (NV)
Smooth sailing through most of the puzzle, a welcome relief after the last few days of crossword torture. The one thing that stuck me for a few minutes was OLEANDER. It was especially frustrating because I couldn't come up with it, but knew that I knew it, because those shrubs were the back hedge of my entire backyard in my last house! Glad it didn't take that long for the brain cells to coalesce.
Open Mouth View (Near South)
I'm sorry, but I found this puzzle annoying. I don't mind an obscure name or two, but not when they cross. I didn't fully get the theme (word over word) even after solving. I am a bit mollified having read the explanation.
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@Open Mouth View Which names did you find obscure?
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Mark Twain
michaeltide (Bothell, WA)
@Steve L What is Mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind.
Bob (Lincoln)
BRAIN caused me some trouble in grasping the theme. Is BRAIN Mind or Matter?
Cate (NC)
Can someone explain the clue, mail, e.g. with an answer of armor to me?
Michele G (Ottawa, ON)
@Cate think chain mail, like knights would wear.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Cate - chainmail or “mail” is a type of armor made by chaining rings together: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chain_mail The two men who linked together hundreds of thousands of plastic rings to make the mail armor for the Lord of the Rings films famously completely wore off their fingerprints. Director Peter Jackson celebrated that they didn’t have to worry about leaving prints behind at a crime scene.
Kathleen D (Illinois)
@Cate But I agree with Cate -- bad clue.
michaeltide (Bothell, WA)
I really loved this theme. It was smart and subtle. The revealer provided some great ahas, and ignorati is definitely going into my must-use list. I did have a personal Natick in the SE, as I didn't know the Thai taxi, and being soy-intolerant, I stay away from most pacific rim foods. Kate saved me, as I assumed a repetitive word would have the same letter, et voila! Gold. All in all, a finely crafted puzzle – to be savored, not rushed through. Thanks Aimee & Ella. May your names continue to appear in crosswords. (I mean as constructors, of course, they already appear frequently as fill.)
Susan Espourteille (Massachusetts)
I don't know what a "Natick" is, and it was mentioned in the column today as well. For me, it's a town in Massachusetts! Enlighten me, please!
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Bob T. (NYC)
@Susan Espourteille LOL it's one of several words which have specific meanings here in crossworld. others include "dook" and "emu".
Lewis (Asheville, NC)
I was never stuck solving this, nor was I bored, as this wasn’t a mindless fill-in. This puzzle hit the solving sweet spot for me, a lovely mix of gimmes and hard-to-get-without crosses. I won’t get into the mind-numbing details, but I’m guessing there was a lot of trial and error by these constructors to make the final result look so unforced and natural. I learned in some post-solve research that PREGNANCY BRAIN is also called "momnesia". And hello my new friend IGNORATI – one definition being “The willfully ignorant; those who choose to ignore inconvenient facts or make public claims based on falsehoods”. Where have you been, IGNORATI, in recent years, when I was looking for just this word? But I know you now, and we’re going to make up for lost time. And to top it off, you’re an anagram of RIGATONI! I loved DUSTS OFF, TUK TUK, and GRUNGE. Whenever I see PATOOTIE, that song SHIPOOPI from “Music Man” reprises in full glory in the theater of my mind. And I also loved the O-back low-key trochee train of RONDO / CONGO / ARLO / AUTO / OTTO / TAZO. A&E, this was, IMO, one sweet production, enriching and fulfilling. Thumbs eagerly ascending – thank you for this!
Bach (Helsinki)
Some Sami people find the term "Lapp" offensive or an ethnic slur. This should be re-clued.
Elana (Los Angeles, CA)
@Bach I completely agree and was really surprised by this! Even the most cursory search will show that it’s considered offensive.
Doug (Tokyo)
@Elana - I did a cursory search and it seems Bach is correct that some Sami people find it offensive but it’s not universally thought so. Most references say that Sami or Saami is preferred these days.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
(see earlier thread)
American In Oz (Sydney)
As a new mom (my little girl is 9 weeks old today), I stared at 23 Across for an embarrassingly long time thinking “I should know this”… The NYT Crossword has been a lovely moment of me-time for all the ungodly hours I’ve been awake these last months (and during pregnancy), but… as the clue describes, my brain is foggier and times are slower than ever!
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@American In Oz From now on, that's going to be MY go-to excuse when I blank on a word! Never MIND that my "little girl" is 41; she's only 4'11". Case closed! The lack of sleep, along with all the cold food, are the worst part of the first 3-4 months, but after that things improve rapidly! Stop by often and we'll cheer you on!
American In Oz (Sydney)
HA! Thanks for your support. I have had so much trouble remembering words, I’m glad it’s not just me.
Ned Szumski (Iowa City, IA)
HOWDEDO? I howdedon't think so.
Kieran McCarty (Kelso WA)
@NedSzumski yeah, I agree. For the longest time I had a Y in that — HOWDYDO — and although spelling of slang expressions is sometimes irregular, I still think HOWDEDO should have been labeled as a variant spelling. This is the first time in 61 years I’ve *ever* seen it spelled that way.
Alan Ray (Rockport, MA)
I’m with Ned and Kieran. First time in 65 years I’ve seen HOWDEDO. In Oklahoma, where I grew up, “Howdy-do” or just “Howdy” were frequent greetings. But see “A fine HOW-DE-DO” for an accepted usage but a different meaning (“a fine state of affairs”) requiring hyphens. Perhaps more precise clueing for HOWDEDO would have been helpful.
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Kieran McCarty ....and with any luck, we'll never see it again!
Jacob C. (New York)
81A is a later conflation; the "We Can Do It!" figure was not originally described as a "Rosie"; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Can_Do_It!#Rosie_the_Riveter .
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Jacob, Thanks for the read, but 81A is fine. The clue says "iconic," not "original," and as per the read the "conflation" has had more exposure than the original.
Ketna (NYC)
Does anyone else find that the app deletes filled in squares if you have to do something else and come back to the puzzle later? This happens to me constantly even if I’m responding to a text and return after only a minute or two. Pressing the pause button before leaving the app or even going to the main page does nothing to stop this from happening. It’s really my only gripe. Sorry to be a nudnik
Open Mouth View (Near South)
On my phone the puzzle freezes when the NYT is auto refreshed. I need to close and reopen. When I do, my last several entries are gone. Does this sound like what is happening to you?
Alita Shaver (NC)
@Ketna Do they stay gone? Mine do that, too, but they reappear if I can be patient for a few minutes. If I’m impatient, I close the app and reopen it. Working my way through the archive, so there is a gracious plenty of opportunity for this to happen … so it does.
Ketna (NYC)
Yea that sounds about right! I figured it would be addressed in an update eventually but it’s been like that for years now. I guess the tech’s aren’t aware of this?
M (US)
Wow, I felt really on the constructors' wavelength fit this one, starting, somewhat ironically, with PREGNANCY BRAIN, right through to KATE DiCamillo, a perennial bedtime staple at our house. And I got the revealer about halfway in, which helped me fill in most of the theme clues—such a fun aha! A statistics curiosity: a couple of weeks ago my times dropped every day from Monday through Wednesday, which seemed unusual; this week my times dropped every day from Thursday through Sunday, which is undoubtedly a first. This was a great cap to a very satisfying crossweek :).
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@M Thursday’s puzzle was tough if you didn’t get the trick quickly. I was faster today and last Sunday than I was on Thursday, which is surprising given how much bigger a Sunday grid is. It has been a nice run of puzzles the last few days.
M (US)
@Eric Hougland I actually got the trick Thursday about halfway in, same as here (and thought it was brilliant), but just wasn't on the constructor's wavelength in other ways. It was a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, but in a different way from this one—more of a well-fought battle, whereas this puzzle was like a dance with a perfectly simpatico partner.
Bob Silverstein (Seattle)
This would have been my fastest Sunday solve ever but I completed the puzzle and had one error that took me over five minutes to find when I realized that you went with (what I would consider to be) a highly irregular spelling of HOWDY DO. Seriously... HOW DE?! Sigh :) still a quick solve for me at under 31 minutes.
Jim (Bethesda)
@Bob Silverstein I mean, I agree, but it obviously wasn't baronyt.
Alita Shaver (NC)
@Bob Silverstein Seems to be really bothering people… but it’s a contraction of how-d’ye-do, which in turn is a contraction of how-do-ye(you)-do. As a kid, I found it used as dialogue for old coots in old books – neither of which seems to be around anymore.
Mike (Munster)
When the gas didn't immediately turn into a solid, it had to give a deposition. (That wasn't sublime.)
Mean Old Lady (Now in Mississippi)
@Mike I refuse to Recommend your post! I fear you'll get an inflated ego...
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
Nice bit of construction. I liked that each “mind” was the same number of letters as the corresponding “matter.” I’ve never heard of MOTHER WIT before. But then, I’ve never found common sense to be all that common. For some reason, when GO NIGHTy NIGHT didn’t fit, I didn’t think to leave out the Y. Guess it’s time for me to go to bed. Thanks, Ms. Lucido and Ms. Dershowitz!
Chungclan (Cincinnati)
Great puzzle and excellent collaboration story. Enjoyed going back to find the perfectly placed pairs once I completed the puzzle. Quite a nice Easter Egg and impressive feat of construction.
Jack (New Jersey)
Major Natick in south central: INEZ crossing ICET and TAZO. I'll admit that having had STAND UP instead of STAND TO at 98D didn't help, but still a challenging set of crosses. Otherwise I liked it. I noted the equal length overage of the themed answers, but didn't grock the point until I got the revealer at 124A.
Terri (Oregon)
I checked the AQI several times a day during our smoke filled summer in Oregon.
Isabeau (CA, US)
Good SOLID Sunday puzzle. Also i wish to STATE that today was a personal best. The theme didn't help for filling things out but was a GAS to figure out afterwards. I'd say more but it's time for me to GONIGHTNIGHT. ::wanders off singing ONTOPOF Spaghetti::
Fred Baumgarten (Haydenville, MA)
Difficult. Took me to near the end to get the revealer, and then notice the paired words. Brilliant!
David G (LA)
This was a real deal Sunday puzzle. Solved mostly as a themeless until getting the revealer. Looked back up at the long entries—“yup, PREGNANCYBRAIN over SOLIDFOOD” (nice progression there btw, as someone with two small kids). Then looked closer: “BRAIN is right over SOLID. Ohh, they’re all the same length. Ooh, and the states of MATTER are in order. And the revealer describes what’s going on perfectly.” Plus the fill was clean, with good long entries. Especially liked FURIKAKE (which is delicious) and IGNORATI (which is delicious). Good, tight theme, on-point revealer, nice bonuses. Checks all the right boxes. Bravo 👏
Michael B. (Port Chester NY)
Also, Caitlin, sorry to be that guy, buy yes, Wolf Hall the book is so, so astounding. Haven't seen the show, but really hard to imagine anything topping the page.
dutchiris (Berkeley, CA)
@Michael B. Mark Rylance.
Nat K (NYC)
@Michael B. and @dutchiris (and Caitlin), This is an instance where BOTH the book and the miniseries were equally good IMHO. And for those of us lucky enough to see it, the RSC stage production (with Ben Miles as Cromwell) nicely rounded out the triune.
Jeff Lubetkin (Seattle, WA)
Minor nitpick on 95D: SEO is not a “metric”. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process by which you might try to increase metrics like “visitors from organic search” or “placement in Google results”. SEO is not itself a single number. Otherwise, great puzzle!
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Jeff Lubetkin Knowing what SEO is (required knowledge in our city?) I didn’t understand it with this clue, either.
Adina (Oregon)
@Classic Hip-Hop Fan , Not just Seattle! The common (informal) metric I've heard for online traffic is "eyeballs", which didn't fit of course. And which is kind of disturbing when you think about it.
Zachary (New Zealand)
@Jeff Lubetkin Yeah I was pretty sure that answer would be CTR (Click-Through Rate), since that can actually be measured.
Michael B. (Port Chester NY)
aarrrrrggghhj, was on my way to a PB, really cruising, then got jammed up on 3-4 squares in the far SE. Took another 5 mins to realize I couldn't force LANE in for KENT, worked that all out, then still had an error somewhere. I read PLASMASCRREN about 7 times while checking my answers, completely missing that I had two Rs in SCREEN I stead of two Es. Needed to check the puzzle. :: sad trombone :: Really fun though, liked the long entries. Also had no idea what the theme was as I answered.
Michael B. (Port Chester NY)
and honestly, even after reading the column, I can't find the other themed entries 😅
Isabeau (CA, US)
@Michael B. They branch off of 42D and 79D.
Isabeau (CA, US)
@Michael B. Specifically, the four pairs are OENVA FBYVQ FZNEGF YVDHVQ JVG TNF ABBQYR CYNFZN which I have rot13ed in case anyone wants to avoid spoilers; https://rot13.com/ will convert it back
Ibehooved (Beaufort SC)
Made much more difficult doo to the misspelling of HOWDEDO from the Latin root via Clarabell of Howdy Doody
HappyCat (NJ)
I finished, but I am having a hard time finding all the theme pairs. Maybe because it's getting close to bedtime.
Eric Mills (California)
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
Today’s puzzle is #100 in my longest streak ever. Even more proud that I’ve done every puzzle in 2021 to date, with only 34 of them not gold stars (most of the blue stars were in January). MIND OVER MATTER indeed! Now to ice my arm from all this patting myself on the back…
Splat (Rockville, WV)
@Classic Hip-Hop Fan I completed last Monday's puzzle on Sunday evening. Got the familiar tune, and all. When I finished the Thurs puzzle, I saw that I had a streak of 3. Whut? For some reason, it listed Monday as incomplete. I know what my *real* streak is.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Classic Hip-Hop Fan - hmmm https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_ice
Mark Cousins (Hong Kong)
@Splat: Any chance you completed the Monday before you finished the Sunday? That will break the streak even if you finish the Sunday before the deadline. IOW must complete in strict order. If that’s not the issue, NYT crossword support team should be able to fix it for you.
K Barrett (CA)
Caitlin, although the books are probably better I, too, have started them just to put them aside after only a scant few pages. I prefer CJ Sansom's Matthew Shardlake books, about Henry VIII's England, featuring a hunchbacked lawyer as his protagonist. And, a completely painless way to read (I listen) historical fiction are Jodi Taylor's fun Chronicles of St Mary's books about time traveling historians. Put them on your TO DO list, ;) I have just lost any credibility I have with this group, for admitting that I've passed the Wolf Hall books in favor of time jumping historians.... Ah, well. In my defense I'll just say, as we all know, life is too short to drink bad wine or read bad books.
michaeltide (Bothell, WA)
@K Barrett But you redeemed yourself with the CJ Sansom books.
@K Barrett Hilary Mantel won two Booker prizes for books in the Wolf Hall trilogy, so I would think the general consensus would be they are far from “bad books”. Perhaps not to your taste. Maybe Ms. Mantel will throw a time machine into her next book and you’ll find it more to your liking. Or a hot tub - no, wait, that’s already been done.
Frances (Western Mass)
@NH I started Wolf Hall and abandoned it after about 100 pages. I’m tired of historical novels where the author is so in love with their subject they ascribe to them modern points of view to get the readers on side. The writing style itself isn’t bad per se, but I agree with many others that well written popular history is more enjoyable.
Ken (Naples FL)
It’s amazing how a three letter word can throw me off. I confidently typed in ADP at 56A, since I have the sign in my front yard (yes I know I’m confusing it with the payroll company). Did not know MOTHERWIT and hesitantly typed in bAUDY for “way too loud.” (I think I was recalling the loud noise my old 9600 baud modem made during dial-up. For those of you too young to recall the dark ages of Internet, here’s a YouTube link of those lovely tones. I think I had every one of those modem versions, in succession. It was exciting when 56k hit the shelves! Super fast! https://youtu.be/ckc6XSSh52w Finally I got TRIAGE for the completion and a major DOH moment. Thanks for reading my long-winded comment. Oh, and it was otherwise a fast, fun puzzle!
Cat Lady Margaret (Maine)
BEAN YLEM That was my brain, floating on top of the primordial substance, to understand the theme only after it was all filled in. (Still fun for the old bean.) Pretty clever of Aimee and Ella to find these “mind/matter” pairs with the same number of letters so their trick would fit perfectly!
Anna (Italy)
L*pp (1D) is considered by most Sámi to be an ethnic slur. Just do better.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Even dictionaries know that! USAGE NOTE FOR LAPP Though Lapp, Laplander, and Lappish are still in use, the people themselves consider these terms to be offensive. They use the name Sami. The reason for the perceived offensiveness of these terms is their possible etymology from an Old Swedish word meaning “piece or patch,” alluding to the patched clothes that the impoverished Sami wore in the past. Lapland is still the acceptable name for the region inhabited by the Sami, though the Sami call it Sapmi. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lapp
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Anna Thanks for this post, I didn’t know this.
Neil Robinson (Ann Arbor, MI)
Absolutely agree. When I come across this in the archives, I say to myself "Eh, it was the 90s", even though people knew better even then.
Petsounds (Great Lakes)
Easy, breezy, and much more clever than I realized. I didn't get the theme until I read Caitlin's explanation. Nevertheless, my time for this was only one minute over my PB for a Sunday, and for that, I have to thank the 48D/59A cross, which I didn't know and didn't even realize I hadn't finished until...no music! What? Where??? Oh. Loved GONIGHTNIGHT, PREGNANCYBRAIN, and POOLNOODLE. Had no idea what 117A was, but the crosses filled it in. Dried fish and seaweed are not on my list of Foods I Crave--but in response to an earlier commenter, a cheeseburger definitely is!
Richard Dalin (Somerset, NJ)
@Petsounds I didn't get the theme either until I read the explanation, even though I solved it pretty quickly.
Bill in Yokohama (Yokohama)
@Petsounds Me too, 1 minute over my Sunday PB.
Vaer (Brooklyn)
ICE T ON TOP OF TAZO Tee-hee. Hope everyone recalled the rules of nail polish. Three letters, Opi; five letters, ESSIE. Very breezy puzzle, which was a good thing as my mind was still reeling from the Variety.
David Connell (Weston CT)
@Vaer - (when in reality, they’re both two-letter names!)
Vaer (Brooklyn)
@David Connell Oy.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@David Connell Oh you!
Edward Rice (Vienna, VA)
Re [Caitlin]: "George Gamow and Ralph Alpher, two physicists who developed the Big Bang theory..." Wikipedia summarizes how Hans Bethe got to be the third author of the seminal paper: "The results of these calculations were first announced in a letter to The Physical Review, April 1, 1948. This was signed Alpher, Bethe, and Gamow, and is often referred to as the 'alphabetical article'. It seemed unfair to the Greek alphabet to have the article signed by Alpher and Gamow only, and so the name of Dr. Hans A. Bethe (in absentia) was inserted in preparing the manuscript for print. Dr. Bethe, who received a copy of the manuscript, did not object, and, as a matter of fact, was quite helpful in subsequent discussions." I once met David Alpher at a conflict resolution meeting and he was startled that I knew the Alpher-Bethe-Gamow history; he was kind enough to fill in more details while we talked.
Petsounds (Great Lakes)
@Edward Rice Fascinating! Appreciate your posting this!
Kevin Sparks (Hickory,NC)
@Edward Rice I was prepared to add notes on the alphabet paper. Super interesting history. Alpher was ‘only’ a grad student at the time. The paper opened the door in many ways to deeper understanding of processes inside star formation. Gamow always had a delightful sense of humor. Thanks for including!
franceswoolley (Ottawa, Canada)
Did not like the cheeseburger clue. For the millions of people on this planet who are vegetarian, who do not eat beef for whatever reason, or who choose not to eat milk and meat together, the reaction to a cheeseburger will be more "oh yuck" than "so good".
Steve L (Chestnut Ridge, NY)
@franceswoolley Did you not notice the word "maybe" in the clue? De gustibus non est disputandum. Some may not eat beef for one reason or another, or mix meat with dairy, but there are quite a few people on this earth for whom a cheeseburger is heaven on earth. (And quite a few people who refrain are doing so out of discipline and commitment, not because they think that cheeseburgers taste yucky.) So maybe not, but maybe so. I wonder, though, are you one of those people for whom eating a cheeseburger is "oh yuck"?
Bob (Lincoln)
@franceswoolley I didn't like the clue either, but for a different reason. "Don't talk with your mouth full." But if you must, for goodness sake at least don't moan.
Petsounds (Great Lakes)
@Bob Bob, clearly you have never had a really, really good cheeseburger! Moans happen!
Rachel (Miami)
So close to a personal best! But I had to hunt for the K in FURIKAKE and TUKTUK and KATE, none of which I knew. So many letters seemed possible. This was a fun puzzle.
Eric Hougland (Austin TX)
@Rachel I didn’t know any of those, either, so I left the SE for last. But K seemed more likely to be transliterated Thai than C.
Jennifer (Colorado City)
Got nearly the entire grid filled before getting the theme answer; but still couldn't figure out where the theme actually was. When this happens, I just assume the "aha" is for people smarter than I am, and look at the column and comments afterwards to figure it out. Gotta say, I LOVED the theme clues, even though the puzzle was already completed by the time I saw them. Super nerdy, super tricky, and super awesome!
Etaoin Shrdlu (The Forgotten Borough)
Lots of fun there.
Dan PA (MN)
Still solving this one, but as a former stay-at-home dad, I think I see the PBS Kids influence on this grid by having ELMO cross NOODLE. Very clever!
Classic Hip-Hop Fan (Seattle)
@Dan PA Can’t think of Mr. Noodle without remembering a post from a person who was watching Sesame Street in a motel with one channel. Mr. Noodle was up to his usual happy fails, and from another motel room the poster heard a grown man yell “GODDAMNIT, MR. NOODLE!”
Kris Troske (Minneapolis)
LOL That is a great story. Thanks for sharing it.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
A really nice mix of clever and down-to-earth, with a good dose of MOTHER WIT thrown in. Loved the layered theme once I saw the extra layer upon getting the revealer. Wowsa that they managed to place the “states” in order, from SOLID to PLASMA! Had a TDNF (Technical Did Not Finish) in the paper because I stuck with HOWDyDO / BARONyT despite myself. Needed to do online to correct my error. This was one FUN RUN that tickled my NOODLE.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Puzzlemucker, Speaking of GASGIANTS, did we not get the theme until we read the revealer because we're crusty?
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Barry Ancona More likely because I’m a horse’s PATOOTIE. Hey, hope you gave/give the “Out of Order” Variety puzzle a go. A stunner. My noggin is still recovering. Gave me a case of the vapors.
Puzzlemucker (NY)
@Puzzlemucker Alas, NOGGIN was directly over VAPORS in my draft of the comment. Can’t resist recommending another puzzle, which may have been recommended by someone else: June 6, 2015 (Saturday). A real workout.