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Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo return with huge ideas.

Comments: 72

  1. John,

    You got the Saturday avatar all wrong. One Gucci is a Gucco.

  2. .
    Martin, can't you be satisfied to have your GIANTs in the grid?

    Now you've opened the door for argument about the plural form (in various languages) of the Geico Gecko! Or, how it should be written in OGHAM!

  3. >>One Gucci is a Gucco.

    Actually one Gucci is a Guccio, signor Gucci's first name. Plurals like amici from amico are the exception rather than the rule.

  4. .



  5. Two Steve McQueen films--THE GREAT ESCAPE and the BLOB (which was also pretty BIG).

  6. 34D is also a film, quite enjoyable if not BIG.

  7. .
    In its way, HOLES is as good as BIG, in this critic's opinion.

    But BIG has that great performance from Tom Hanks to set it apart.

  8. Speaking of film criticism, you may wish to edit your CiC comment to note that there are five "clued" films in the grid and several more that are not so clued.


  9. John,
    Fantastic extended preveal for today's 22A!

  10. BA: you're so quick, I missed your earlier reference as I was scanning the early comments.

  11. While there was a MUG, the college today was not JOE.

  12. I like MFT's definition of COE college. It's only crosswordese if you've never been there or known anyone who went there.

  13. Taking a cue from TF's CiC, I note that Coe College is 80 miles from the Quad Cities.

  14. Barry, as Martin will attest, at least nobody died from my prescience.

  15. I took an Olympic break from getting the puzzles done on time until today. The most exciting event so far has been the women's cycling road race today.


    No shortage of possibilities for today's theme with the same SUPERlatives:

    RegEx Mode: 255 results for regular expression ^(GRAND|BIG..|SUPER|GREAT).{5,6}$

  16. Film names are not my wheelhouse, but the crosses allowed me to finish in my Monday average time. I like Mondays that are a bit harder than those that seem to be walks in the park, so I enjoyed solving this one.


  17. You guys amaze me. "yesterday" a whole discussion about LASAGNA, and now "today"!!

  18. Mmmm, lasagna ...

  19. Deb,
    I read your comment on 33A. Having read it, I'm not clear why you found the published clue awkward, and what type of clue you would have preferred.

  20. Perhaps one describing a fireplace.

  21. "Pale as a ghost" means white. If you were a person of color solving that clue, but knew ASHY these days as a reference to a skin issue for black and brown people, wouldn't there be a disconnect to you?

  22. Deb -- My style advisors* tell me that while the condition will be more noticeable on a darker complexion, anyone can have ASHY skin, so no, I don't think the clue is racist.

    Or are you suggesting that "pale as a ghost" is no longer an acceptable clue for anything, because people of color don't "turn white" in fright? Or is it Northern Eurocentric to describe ghosts as white, and doesn't everyone "lose color" -- whatever color -- when they pale?

    If ASHY is a trigger word, perhaps it should not appear in puzzles regardless of clue?

    I'm trying to walk the knife-edge between insensitivity and hyper acute political correctness.


  23. .
    "Quad Cities" is a bi-state region consisting of five cities. Similarly, the 5 films in this grid are sometimes said to be 4.

    Most of the films in this grid that are clued AS films feature excellent acting; GRAND HOTEL and THE GREAT ESCAPE had terrific ensemble casts. TITANIC (1997) did not feature good acting. Nominated for 14 Oscars, it won 11. Two of the nominations were for acting, and 1 was even deserved. The film won no acting Oscars and was not even nominated for Screenplay. This means that there is some sense in the process, somewhere. But TITANIC (1953) was nominated for ITS Screenplay -- and won.

    As bad as TITANIC (1997) was, the least-deserving Best PICTURE Oscar winner has to be The GREATest Show on Earth. (By "least deserving", I am comparing it to the year's other nominees. It was not the worst film ever to win Best Picture, although it is the only Best Picture winner to win no other Oscar.)

    I don't usually post videos. This short one https://youtu.be/hwmCfCr7oJc features better acting than the 9 hours of TITANIC. It's a screen test; Lois Smith (who was cast in a different role) is testing for the role in East of Eden that went to Julie Harris. It's a tour de force for her and GIANT James Dean. (Dean was only about as tall as I am. Mrs. Smith is barefoot.) Some people watching this have surmised that the 2 were having an affair; actually, Smith was a devout married woman. And 60 years later, she out-acts almost anyone with whom she shares a screen.

  24. .
    John VENN, remembered in the JASA Puzzle (Finn Vigeland et al.) and again today, was born August 4 (1834).

    Various cute VENN memes went around the 'net on Thursday.

  25. Big, Large, Huge, Epic Monday. Thanks.
    (All four of these also films.)

  26. I don't know enough about KABBALAH to object to its being spelled CABALA. But someone should!

  27. That's the problem with transliterated languages like Hebrew. Multiple transliterations into our alphabet exist and they frequently differ from one Latin alphabet language to another. CABALA is just as valid as the other variations. If you need to know which is the most popular, Google all the spellings!

  28. CABALA is actually more valid than the other variations since "cabal" is derived from it.

    A direct transliteration from the Hebrew would be"Qabbalah", but that would be too much to ask for.

  29. >>... from the Hebrew would be"Qabbalah"

    First, everyone has to agree on what the transliteration equivalents are. There is no firm consensus among the receiving languages.

    Did anyone else notice that Qatar came into the Rio games as Catar? Even the Portuguese language isn't consistent and also allows Qatar.

    I once saw a post on another board that gave over 100 transliterations in different languages for "Muammar al-Gaddafi."

  30. and Elke
    Am wondering re 4D-"--what a landslide confers" i.e. MANDATE .
    If a female politician wins , is it a woMANDATE ?

  31. .
    If a female politician wins, it's "rigged", "bought", or in some other way "crooked".

    Dates and figs.

  32. Because she played the 'woman qard'?

  33. The lengthy political clue is probably appropriate for a Monday, but I would have enjoyed 4D with a contemporary social clue.

  34. A nice Monday puzzle, interesting words and clues. VENN diagrams again! I tried HUGH before CARY because I was watching the piece on HUGH on CBS Sunday Morning today and he was uppermost in my mind. That's the sort of mistake I wouldn't make on paper--I'd consider the crossings more carefully--but online it's so easy to just throw something in and see if it works.

  35. Same here, Liz. Saw the show too and immediately filled in HUGH without looking at the crosses which, like you, I wouldn't normally do on paper. Then 55 and 56D alerted me to my error and ETVOILA it was quickly corrected. Solid Monday puzzle with a smidgen of a challenge.

  36. Didn't see the show, but if y ou're referring to the one-time NYS governor, his name was Hugh CAREY.


  37. Having just finished the Sunday and then moving right on to (an early posted?) Monday, had a little deja vu with GENRE and ROT.

    I have a question about this "Streak" feature. Is it based on a time/date deadline, or do you just have to complete the puzzles sequentially, at any time (without any checks/reveals of course)? I'm wondering because I had to pull the Sunday out of the archive since the Monday was already posted, but it still counted it.

  38. I believe the streak count requires online finishing of the puzzle before midnight of the puzzle's nominal date. The publishing date for the puzzles and blog posts is 10pm the day before the nominal day & date, but 6pm the day before on Saturday & Sunday (Sunday and Monday's puzzles).

  39. Thank you -- I think you may be on to something here DC. Also, for GENRE/ROT, I predict we hit the trifecta on Tuesday. In any event, as I thought about it, they do make a nice pair, don't they?

  40. By the way, Deb, it was nice to see the field of the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields show up to illustrate 10A,

  41. Say, Martin, how can the Dodgers be doing so good without Kershaw? I don't know how far the Cubs will go this year but this team ain't the 1969 Cubs. They are also probably not the 1908 Cubs either.

    As for the puzzle, it's okay. Just a tad corny for my taste.

    Repeat of last Sunday ... golf with the Kid and dinner. Time to take a hot shower and a good stiff drink....

  42. He's God around here. A really great player.

  43. This guy is déjà vu all over again!

  44. Say, hey! A GIANT among players.

  45. ADONAI annoyed me for a moment as I took the wrong fork in the road spelling the curly edged pasta with an 'e' not an 'a'. Feeling DAZED for a moment from that bump in the road, my Monday on Sunday solve went well the rest of the way...Seeing stars a plenty, I'm impressed by the stellar assemblage of celebs gracing the grid today; we have present, in no particular order, the Grecian moralist, Mr. Grant, Walt, Keith, Mr. Bruce, Seb the Olympian, Mr. Fix-it, The Greatest, the flutist from Jethro Tull, Bert Bobbsey's twin and Dr. Frankenstein's able bodied assistant...Standing in for Greta, Lee Ann Womack offers a ballad that could very possibly RID mild OTITIS sufferers of their ailment. Take two listens to the "GRAND (Tour)" HOTEL, and call me in the morning.


  46. Deb, in your "tricky clues" - the clue for IGNOBLE at 27A is Dishonorable, not Dishonest (an honest mistake...)

  47. Thanks, Viv. I've fixed it in the post.

  48. Deb! Post? It's no longer a blog. You write a column!

    Speaking of you, where did your bio go in this new format? When you had a blog, it was right there; now that you're a columnist, I can't find it. Please check with your staff (and don't spare the rod).

  49. Barry, when we moved, the right-hand column of the page was one thing that unfortunately had to be sacrificed due to formatting and space limitations.

    I'm hoping to have something in that space besides ads in the future.

    During the meanwhile, buy my book and you'll know everything you need to know about me.

  50. I was caught out by the singular LASAGNA, so didn't get the happy music until I changed that E
    to an A, ET VOILA, all was well.

    A nice simple Monday theme. Like Mac, I'm not good with film titles, but all these were familiar at least. As for the rest of the puzzle, a nice variety of fills, a cut above some of the Monday puzzles, so a nice start to the week.

  51. Not just ACUTE theme; the "big" connection in the theme answers lifted it above the typical Monday simple-ness. The grid is spotless, and that has become one of Zhouqin's signatures. There were some lovely answers -- MANDATE, INDIGENT, ETVOILA, IGNOBLE. My only nit was ASHY which better describes a fireplace than a pale face (where "ashen", I believe would be more appropriate). I liked the backward TEE directly under the downward one, and it is cool that that TEE is within two squares of three additional tees (the letter). So, all in all, a high quality Monday offering from this pair, one that will, I believe, keep newcomers hungry for more.

    One movie -- and it's an actual movie -- that I'm glad didn't find its way into the grid: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009).

  52. Very nice Monday puzzle and a clever theme. I was almost finished before I noticed the other part of the BIG connection - the names of the films. In non-theme news, I particularly liked ETVOILA.

    My only minor complaint is that I am really (really) tired of seeing Uber (the company); even more so when it's a gratuitous clue reference. Will seems obsessed with it.

    There is a quite famous GRANDHOTEL on Mackinac Island, Michigan. We visited the island at least 3 times in the 50's and early 60's, though we never stayed at the hotel. It's a beautiful place. The movie 'Somewhere in Time' (not a BIG PICTURE) was largely filmed on the island, the director saying that he 'needed someplace that looked like it hadn't changed in 80 years.'

    I learned upon reading the Wikipedia page that the hotel has seven SUITES named for and partially designed by seven former first ladies, starting with Jackie Kennedy and including both Barbara and Laura Bush.

    Missing from the list are Pat Nixon and Hillary Clinton. I don't know if that exclusion was intentional or if it's just that each of them declined to be involved in the design process (hopefully the latter).

    So I wonder if someday soon there will be a Michelle Obama suite and wonder even more if someday there might be a Bill Clinton suite. We can only hope.

  53. ET VOILA . . . VIOLA(S). SUPERlative Monday. Off topic, but I happened to visit the local law school yesterday and noticed that the cafe walls are lined with posters of movies in which trials are central to the story, including My Cousin Vinny. I thought it was a GREAT idea.

  54. This went quickly in PuzzAzz....I had ADONOI and had to correct that, and initially I placed the Dolphins in TAMPA (oops...we're not Pro football fans in this house; the DHubby watches college teams--mainly Penn State, his undergrad school, and its biggest rivals.)

    PhysicsDaughter plays VIOLA.....so it's always nice to see a grid with strings attached. On with the week....

  55. (Picking up on the transliteration discussions that are all the rage now -- "noy" is the Yiddish ending, "nai" is the Hebrew version. If there's an "o" in there, chances are pretty high there would also be a "y".)

  56. Did Steve McQueen do his own motorcycle stunts in The GREATESCAPE, or not? I've heard both yes and no stated with equally supreme confidence.

  57. No, I believe McQueen was the first to say he didn't ride the bike over the wall or drive the Mustang thru SF streets. He always credited the stunt guys. I'm pretty sure the fellow who jumped the wall was honored in the Academy Awards annual retrospective when he passed away. No need to REPENT. He wasn't IGNOBLE. And I always liked the way he flashes his badge in 'Bullet'.

  58. (from the Steve McQeen website)
    Steve performed all his character's motorbike stunts in the escape scenes, EXCEPT the famous final jump over the 6 foot high barbed wire fence. That was done by his Stunt Double (Bud Ekins).

    Steve himself set the record straight in an interview on the Johnny Carson Show. When Carson congratulated him on doing the jump, Steve corrected him, saying, "It wasn't me. That was Bud Ekins". He had too much integrity to take the credit for another man's bravery and skill.

    In the scenes leading up to the big jump where Virgil Hilts is being chased by the Germans, director John Sturges struck a problem. McQueen as Hilts kept out running the less skilled German riders chasing him. The solution... Steve did his own riding as Virgil, and then donned a German bike helmet and uniform and did the riding for the pursuing German troops. In effect, through clever film editing, you see Steve McQueen chasing Steve McQueen in the final film!

  59. Thanks for that good help. To this day, it's a terrific film.

  60. I love how the meaning of BIGPICTURE in the reveal really has nothing to with what each theme answer actually is.

    Tight theme and a clean grid with the elegant GIANT/TITANIC crossing smack dab in the middle adds up to a hugely satisfying Monday puzzle!

    Thank you C.C. and Don!

    This puzzle also left with this: Did IGNOBLE IAN turn ASHY before he decided to REPENT?

  61. Having trouble with Wordplay. My computer hiccups when I try to write a comment or reply. I can read the comments okay until I try to write something, and then it starts acting up whether I'm writing or reading. This isn't happening on any other site, including when I try to comment on another NYT column, e.g., Charles Blow or Gail Collins.

    Then sometimes I get a message that there's something wrong with script (I don't even know what that means). I'm offered options to continue, stop, or debug, and it doesn't seem to matter which I choose. Any choice seems to help, at least temporarily.

    So, is anyone else having a problem like this since the "move"?

    Liked the puzzle, especially the crossing of "GIANT" and "TITANIC" (possibly not the worst movie ever, but high on the list). "GRAND HOTEL" and, surprisingly, "The GREAT ESCAPE" are two favorite flicks of mine. I never saw Kevin Bacon's "The BIG PICTURE," but think it should have been mentioned.

  62. Thanks for the bug report, Deadline. I'm forwarding them to our commentary department.

  63. Or, as we prefer to call them...

    ...the commentariat.

  64. Oh, Deb, is this the Complaints Department? I'll add my two cents. I recall someone mentioning, or theorizing, that the new format would drop the side by side layout, but it didn't. Not only didn't, but in the old, Blog setup, if the right hand side (i.e. the comments) overlapped a bit on the left hand side (i.e. the blog), you could just shift the "ribbon" across the bottom of the screen a wee bit and all fell into place.
    Not any more. No ribbon. So, once you open the comments, you lose a vertical strip of the blog. At least that's how it comes out on my new, huge, wonderful screen (on which I can see the entire grid and ALL the clues all at once, even on Sunday).

  65. Synchronicity Dept.:

    Just the other day we were introduced to PEA salad, with a recipe posted by ... ?? ... I forget. (Sorry.)

    Today, in an email I subscribe to, I received this very similar recipe, except that it doesn't express conceern for the emotional state of the main ingredient or specify the aesthetics of the bowl in which it is served.


  66. Woke up a bit groggy after getting home late from the Paul McCartney concert Sunday night, so late to the party. But it was worth it.

    If you wanna construct a good XWP, you gotta break a few EGGS--ET VOILA, I managed to ACE IT. Being something of a movie buff, I saw the BIGPICTURE early on and finished quickly. I figured out all the theme movies based on the clues.

    UK rock group Procol Harum with the sweeping, cinematic title track of their 1973 album "GRAND HOTEL":


    Somebody CALL me A CAB.

  67. Jimbo,
    You're a cab.

  68. Thanks Barry. That didn't take long.

  69. Our service is better than Uber.

  70. Just got back from the links and got on to find one of the longest threads in memory, about pronunciation in different languages. The trick is to be born in the country so that they aren't rules, it's just the way you've always heard it. Isn't there some story about the tourist who is amazed at how well the children in Paris speak French?

    (Also saw a nice Rick Montoya plug from MTF -- grazie.)

  71. In the Jewish religion, it is forbidden (and thus a sin) to write out the name of
    G-d (thus the hyphen.) The answer to clue 6 Down looks suspiciously like the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for G-d. I suppose you could say that the spelling of the transliteration is open to interpretation, nevertheless the clue is objectionable.