Audubon Society

Brian Herrick and Christopher Adams take us on a flight of fancy.

Comments: 164

  1. First things first--SAUTERNES is already singular...still singular...

  2. that's yesterday's discussion...take a look...i dont remember how it turned out...but i think it could go either way

  3. @Paul Still singular...

  4. And pedantik is spelled with a C Sauternes is a French region and singular wine. sauterne is an American wine which can pluralize as sauternes. Champagne on the other hand is a whole other matter.

  5. Phew...I thought it was going to beat me today...but i thought that yesterday too.

  6. A little bit faster than average. MELC cost me a fair bit of time.

  7. Well, I had to tell somebody, this was the 365th puzzle in my current streak, and a record Sunday time to boot (17:08). Anybody quit a streak just to relieve the pressure? I was very stressed yesterday, worried I might not make it to a year.

  8. @aphealy Congrats! That's awesome! I really want to get to that point some day, that's a major accomplishment.

  9. Nice. Impressive time.

  10. @aphealy: Well done!

  11. Would have gotten my all-time Sunday best by *several minutes* if only I knew that Marion wasn't Marian, and that a Marlin is not a bird, but a Martin is. 10 seconds above my average instead of several minutes fastest solve all time. Bother. That said, I loved the puzzle! Flyspecking, though, is less fun :)

  12. Solved this morning. A charming divertissement. Loved WHO’S WE? They are boys but when I saw PAMELA SUE MARTIN I immediately thought of The Housemartins and one very catchy tune, “Happy Hour”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_TMUJIWwyI (Thought Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan knocked it out of the park again with Little Women. How did she not get Best Director nomination? That decision was for the birds).

  13. @Puzzlemucker Great song call out. I actually keep became familiar with that song & its album through the Baren*ked Ladies, who borrowed a few lines from it for “Hello City”.

  14. @pi Thanks, pi. I didn’t know that song. Just listened to it. Very nice! Never knew BL had been influenced by The Housemartins.

  15. For the most part, this solved very smoothly and easily. I caught on immediately with SHERYL CROW so I knew what I was looking for. None of the names were surprising to me, although I had forgotten about WEAVER birds. But WHO'S WE seemed strange to me, and I finished with an "almost there" which I finally figured out was ON POT/PAP instead of ON HOT/HAP. Well, ON HOT made sense to me, anyway. And look! another Argonaut!

  16. @Liz B Hand up for ON HOT. That was after I had already tried ON LOW, so it didn't occur to me that of course an oven is hot. Anyway, took too long to try to think what a HAP smear might be. Ahhh, misdirection.

  17. Two thumbs up for the puzzle, the theme, pretty much everything. After I found the first asterisked clue and figured out how to spell Sigourney, I went hunting for and solved for the "hint," though I don't know if it was really needed to solve the other theme clues. Dynasty was on Wednesday nights at 9 and my friends and I used to get together to watch. Much wine would be consumed. It was your classic so bad it was good show. So PAMELA SUE MARTIN was a gimme. And after she left the show, Fallon was played by Emma Samms (not a bird).

  18. The dressmaker mends his stuff quickly: He's a tailor swift. (I knew my puns were trouble.)

  19. @Mike 'Cause baby now we got bad puns...

  20. @Mike Have to say that one was for the birds! Don't tweet us that way!

  21. @JayTee Sorry, that was a cheep shot.

  22. I just had to test the naughty word filter. 95A has been delayed since there were fewer than eight comments. I just thought that by now some NYT techie would find a way to whitelist the puzzle answers. No, I didn't have problems with that entry.

  23. @Kiki Rijkstra You're right! I just manually approved it. ARSE has been in the puzzle for ages, too. We could use special dispensation sometimes.

  24. @Caitlin Maybe the emus are just too delicate. At least the lady ones.

  25. @Caitlin Interesting that there was a twenty year drought in its use going back to the Maleska era where it was first used 9/26/92. The clue was "End of a pulley block" The nine Shortz era entries are all clued similarly to today's entry.

  26. You pointed out APOLUNE, which was my Natick in this puzzle - APOLUNE crossed with Rainier Maria RILCE (who I had never heard of). I guessed the "L" just because the clue referenced the moon. (Not a Potterhead, but not going to forget Mort Sahl any time soon.)

  27. @UCCF RILCE? I never heard of FRANCIE in that context either. I only got that natick because I had heard the name RILKE before.

  28. Just wondering if ARSE will pass the naughty word filter. I also wonder about the green checks which have disappeared since I last posted regularly. I believe it's very possible that someone still sees them on the other side. I finished this one fast enough not to notice all the birds until I hit LADYBIRD.

  29. I'm not sure I'd ever heard of the flick "LADYBIRD," but if I had I'd have assumed it was a biopic of LBJ's wife. Actually, there was kind of a lot of stuff that was out of my non-pop-culture wheelhouse, but I figured it out anyway. (Mr. Happy Pencil failed to appear when I had the grid filled in, but it turned out it was just a fat-finger typo.) I first heard of SHERYL CROW when my then boss's husband was doing some work for her and the then boss had to explain to me who she was. TAYLOR SWIFT, OTOH, I have heard of fairly often, although (again) I don't really know anything about her. Haven't seen her flicks, but I did know who SIGOURNEY WEAVER was, and that she was Pat WEAVER's daughter. Never saw "Dynasty," and never heard of PAMELA SUE MARTIN. I gather from Caitlin's and others' comments that I haven't missed much. For some reason I hadn't thought of RITA DOVE in years, and I think I'll now be inspired to go back and read her work again. Pieced APOLUNE together because of LUNE/moon and APO as in apogee. (I hadn't found PAMELA SUE MARTIN yet, but I'm sure she would have helped.) All told, I not only enjoyed this puzzle, but very much appreciated that all the theme birds were used in the names of women. Sorry, Christopher Wren, Jack Sparrow, David Canary. You just didn't make the cut! Fun. Thanks.

  30. @Deadline I'm rather surprised you haven't heard of Lady Bird. It was at the top of many people's list of best films of 2017. Nominated for oodles of awards, won many. It's first-time director, Greta Gerwig, is the director "Little Women" which wasn't sure I wanted to see as I had just finished the book and, well, you know how it is with translating books to film. However, this is NOT a recreation of the book, as I learned tonight from this terrific interview. https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5ucHIub3JnL3Jzcy9wb2RjYXN0LnBocD9pZD01MTAzMDk&episode=YTdhMGM3NGItZWRjMC00YzBhLTg5MzEtNjcyMWMxZjM0ZDcw&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwic05yxn7LnAhXJup4KHextCn8QieUEegQIBRAG&ep=6

  31. Two entertainment/actor/actress-themed puzzles in a week... help me! This one was jam-packed with high quality theme material and I enjoyed the solve. RILKE/APOLUNE was a natick. It's amazing that so many ladies' surnames are birds. Didn't know if it was TYPEE or TEPEE and if it was MARION/TOREROS or MARIAN/TORERAS. Looking back the former makes sense because most bull fighters would be male. GWB before IKE. All this misdirection is definitely on purpose. Somehow I got the gold star. Hope to see these two again.

  32. Shoot - would've had a Sunday PB but it took me ages to spot the error in ADALANTA/MADE. Dang that public school education that never taught me Argonauts or chess. I can't believe I pulled Pamela Sue Martin out of the old memory hole. That's a deep cut. Loved the mini-theme of DRUNKS, SOTs, ASTI, ONPOT, RUM, ABSOLUT, (on) TAP -- even IHOP if pancakes are your vice. This was the anti-Saturday for me. Fast and fun, everything flowed, unlike yesterday when I had to foozle and mulligan and just generally cheat my way through it.

  33. Atlanta as in the space shuttle

  34. I patted myself on the back on two things: 1. Having looked at the title, and putting in SIGNOURNEY WEAVER knowing it was "as in WEAVER bird" and what the theme gimmick was. The rest was just prey of birds. 2. Never having seen the word APOLUNE, but came with it when it was ____UNE because...apogee, right? Having said that, the rest of the theme entries weren't easy - I'd forgotten SCOUT's last name for a minute. SHERYL CROW wasn't hard, but didn't remember it was her song. The only other real gimme was CLARICE STARLING. I knew of TAYLOR SWIFT of course, but not as clued. Filled out the puzzle knowing there were errors. Had AFEHAKNS before realizing that while CRAKE is a bird (i.e. Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake), CRANE was the bird sought in this case. And the blanket was an AFGHAN of course, and it's GMAIL and not EMAIL. Glad to see TBSP defined not as dosage for medicine. Have to thank Piers Anthony for knowing this particular DAM usage. Overall, it was a lot of fun and enjoyment.

  35. @Wen I, too, struggled with the theme entries. SHERYLCROW was the only gimme for me - for one thing, I think of her as decidedly 'mom rock' (I'm remembering those drives to school in the 90s/early aughts with WPLJ on the radio!), and, for another, her Tiny Desk rendition of "Soak Up the Sun" was just sublime. Among the 8 themed clues, I only ended up knowing 5.

  36. @Wen We don't think of Scout as anything but Scout. I had to summon a thought of her father, who in our minds is always Atticus Finch.

  37. @alex - yes yes! I had to think about Atticus to remember their last name. Scout was never SCOUT FINCH in my mind either.

  38. Much easier to complete the themed first name/last name clues than the cluster of cross linked single name clues in the NE corner.

  39. I thought this was poorly done. Clever theme. I've even studied orbital mechanics, and knew “apolune” without any crosses. But then there was the '80s pop star that was crossed with an initialism, a '90s sitcom last name, and a comic from the '50s. It was just a textbook natick. I didn't feel outwitted; I felt like the constructors were being deliberately unfair.

  40. @Adam Smith All’s fair in love and war - - - - and, apparently, crossword construction.

  41. @Adam Smith If '50s, '80s and '90s pop culture references are unfair, what, then, is fair in your book -- anything from Nickelback on? Also, Taylor Swift was born in the '80s, she's not an '80s pop star. Are 2000s references also unfair? If most everyone here found it to be an enjoyable puzzle and don't think the constructors were being unfair, that leaves but one conclusion.

  42. @Hildy Johnson I believe he was referring to Teena Marie.

  43. Cute theme, but way too many proper names aside from the theme entries.

  44. Another rhyming island activity: a luau on Palau. And 5 letters! I wonder if there are others. Before PAP I thought of vey. An earlier commenter remembers watching Dynasty on Wednesday nights. My recollection (in error?) is Friday, right after Dallas — another show was was so bad it was good.

  45. @Tom Downing You are thinking of Knots Landing. That I would watch with my grandmother.

  46. We’ll, that was a good lookup exercise. I knew 13 of the 238 clues off the top of my head. The revealer (which I also had to research online) did help me guess some of the partial entries.

  47. @Kevin Davis somehow, I still managed to finish quite a bit faster than average. The answers didn’t have much ambiguity. I had to go through almost all the across entries to find my spelling errors before the puzzle was correctly done.

  48. I knew SIGOURNEY WEAVER and SCOUT FINCH immediately, and guessed the theme even without looking at the title. For the rest of it, though, I needed an inordinate amount of googling. Too much pop culture! Ugh. And I’m not big on remembering the full names of movie characters. The fill was mostly okay, with just a couple of complaints: Perplexed by *plural* WAYS as clued. And does anyone really use “Keynote” as a verb? And I’m not big on remembering the full names of movie characters.

  49. @Alan Young you want pop culture? How about Sigourney Weaver only appearing in a long shot at the end of Annie Hall, and *still* getting screen credit. That'd never happen these days.

  50. @K Barrett Per IMDb: "In 1977, [Sigourney] was cast in the role Shelley Duvall finally played in Annie Hall (1977), after rejecting the role due to prior stage commitments. In the end, however, Woody Allen offered her a role in the film that, while short (she was on-screen for six seconds), made many people sit up and take notice."

  51. Pamela Sue Martin was my first gimme. I thought she was beautiful in Dynasty, or DyNASTY, as a housemate referred to it. Sigourney Weaver, Scout Finch, also gimmes. Sheryl Crow — seen her perform three times. Fun puzzle. Definitely not a PB, but faster than my average.

  52. I have to say this was a fun puzzle and Caitlins links really capped it for me. Great.

  53. @K Barrett I liked the link to the cat collars, and think they're terrific if they work. I do wonder if the cats like them though. Are they easier to get used to than the post-surgical Elizabethan collars, a/k/a "hoods of shame." I'm also curious why Caitlin recommends them for indoor as well as outdoor cats. The only birds my Jessica ever even sees are the pigeons that light atop my air conditioner and taunt her through the window. She does go out in the hallway sometimes, to greet the neighbors (a couple of whom might be classified as birdbrains, but not birds). She just wears a conservative black leather collar with her ID tag on it.

  54. Loved the theme, didn't love the fill. if you're going to do a theme with people's names you should avoid so many non-theme names. There are 17 non-theme names at my count, including fictional characters, which is at least 16 too many.

  55. @Adina 18 if you count Aida.

  56. The clue about Clarice Starling made me think of the movie. I still shudder every time I think of Anthony Hopkins in that role. He is one of my favorite actors who could play any character from Santa Claus to a mass murderer and make it believable. I knew about MEL B but not MEL C. We need a MEL A...

  57. @Robert Kern Check him out in “The Two Popes” if you haven’t seen it already.

  58. @PeterW Thanks...will do!

  59. A slow Sunday but a good one. Made it to the end with no lookups but I got a 'at least one square wrong' and it took me a while to find MANALOW and STRATA instead of MANILOW and STRATI. I can picture him but I can't spell him. I knew a couple of the 'birds' but I thought Jodie Foster in 'Lambs' was Clarissa Sparrow or some variant thereof. Got there in the end. ON POT? Really? And an Argonaut for two days in a row?

  60. Not too much trouble except for APOLUNE/RILKE. Eventually recognized almost all of the ladies in the themers, only absolute no-know was RITA DOVE. Took a bit to remember some of the other names as well, but the crosses got me to the point where they became easy to finish.

  61. At 93, Mort Sahl is still performing weekly in Mill Valley, California! I saw him a year or two ago. He has the most amazing anecdotes. See him if you can.

  62. Great clues, beautifully executed theme, thanks! Found tough going in the center and particularly northeast, lots of no-knows. Figured out Mort SAHL, but my own Natick was Dumbledore x Elaine in Seinfeld. Got it eventually, whew!

  63. Just too many rather silly clues and fills. Yes, some challenging words I'd never heard of but they all come together in the crosses - it's the dumb ones that irk me like "WHOS WE" and ELOPER which is just plain a word that no one ever uses but gets into the crossword the way adding an "s" works in making a new word in scrabble. Just call me cranky. Otherwise I thought the theme was quite clever and liked all the bird endings. Relatively easy puzzle except for the scientific and other somewhat esoteric words I'd never heard of but I don't mind those at all.

  64. @Lin Kaatz Chary 87A is reminiscent of a line in a comedy that's sort of a satirical Tonto saying "who's 'we' white man?" But, as Deb always says, YMMV.

  65. @Keta Hodgson The line is, I believe, “What you mean ‘WE’ white man?” But, of course, even though it IS a joke, makes fun of a stereotype (not a person or group of people), and is not intended to cast aspersions anywhere - - there are those who will take offense. I certainly mean none here.

  66. PeterW, I recall a simpler and slightly more subtle line: "What you mean, we?"

  67. This puzzle lost me with 4 crossing obscure (at least for me) names in the northeast corner. I’m ok with using proper names here and there, but it would be nice if the don’t double up on the crossings. I’m waiting for that Sunday puzzle that uses only names and no words.

  68. SPELLING BEE Taking a breather at 71 words 315 points. Need about 19 more points. Hints for any really obscure or slangy words appreciated.

  69. @Kevin Davis I used ESP to read 1 pangram so far.

  70. @Kevin Davis So far I have 52 words and 204 points; might give even Genius a pass today. Don’t have many hard ones to share that you probably don’t have. The most obscure (for me) so far is the Spanish rice dish and there’s also the similarly spelled knee cap, but both of those are Bee regulars. Only one slangy thing I have so far — it means excellent . Two spellings for historic American Indian dwellings . Total four words so far that have the same prefix as the pangram. There’s also a small program that’s downloaded. But that’s all I have that’s hard or obscure.

  71. @AM I have only 3 words with same prefix as ESP, but have everything else you suggest, I thought of hyphenate, but there's no N. I'll check Mari's list; I'm missing 2. Thanks.

  72. SPELLING BEE GRID Feb 2nd MMXX P A E H L T Y WORDS: 73, POINTS: 334, PANGRAMS: 1, BINGO Starting Letters-Frequencies: A x 10 E x 1 H x 6 L x 3 P x 42 T x 9 Y x 2 Word Lengths -Frequencies: 4L x 24 5L x 22 6L x 11 7L x 7 8L x 5 9L x 3 11L x 1 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 Tot A - 5 4 - - 1 - 10 E 1 - - - - - - 1 H 3 1 - 1 - - 1 6 L 1 2 - - - - - 3 P 15 12 6 6 2 1 - 42 T 3 1 1 - 3 1 - 9 Y 1 1 - - - - - 2 Tot 24 22 11 7 5 3 1 73 (Y-Axis: Starting Letters, X-Axis: Word Lengths, X/Y Co-ordinates: Frequency/Number of Words for that letter and length)

  73. @Mari , thanks!! I still have zillions to go. Too bad that we had CLICK and CLACK the other day, but no TAPPET today!

  74. @Mari I've written hints for all but 2 words I've yet to find. First I have to figure out what I'm missing, then I'll post.

  75. @Mari Missing H11, can't find in on Google either.

  76. Something to AMUSE yourself with -- the light EMERGES!

  77. When I squint at the grid, I see a cartoony bird with a prominent crest, standing up -- see the beak and the wings? I'm surprised that YOU ROCK has never been in a NYT puzzle before, and my favorite answer (Hi, @Puzzlemucker) was WHO'S WE. There's a theme echo at 96A (GALS). Only a couple of Super Bowl hints with DUELERS and ODDS. Overall, the grid filled in with few hiccups and provided excellent PBM (Puzzle Brain Maintenance), and thank you, gents. The theme answers certainly fit the bill, as it were.

  78. I see the bird too!

  79. @Lewis Time to see your ophthalmologist for a new lens Rx.

  80. @Lewis I loved WHOSWE, too. It looks hilarious on the page!

  81. Too many commenters crowing about how swiftly they completed this puzzle

  82. we just gotta SHAKE IT OFF and focus on all that BLANK SPACE

  83. Definitely a fun and well made puzzle. I also see a bird in the interesting grid design, including its little feet. I wonder if one of the puzzle makers would confirm this was intentional...otherwise it would be an amazing happenstance.

  84. @Allen Krantz Caught that pattern interpretation too.

  85. For Eka in Jakarta (re Spelling Bee): your comments *did* post. Are you by chance reading wordplay in the NYT app? That will only display 3 replies. Instead, use your browser to open WP and you’ll be able to see all the replies.

  86. Will I have to memorise all 85 Argonauts? Another difficult puzzle for me this weekend but I did enjoy seeing all the LADY BIRDS.

  87. @suejean !! I just got that all of the theme answers were female. I'm sure the imprint of the palm on my face will recede soon. Thanks.

  88. Any time. I know the feeling.

  89. @suejean I thought the same thing -- oh great, another Argonauts clue!

  90. What a relief after yesterday's struggle (for me at least). Great Sunday puzzle, even if the theme was a little bit of a gimme. Thanks for a fun 40 minutes, even though I'm sad to be done too quickly on a Sunday. Oh well, off to the archives to extend my morning!

  91. OK, so is Sam Ezersky trying to tell us how he really feels about today's football game? David Connell, I think that you will particularly appreciate today's Letter Boxed grid.

  92. @Andrew - I will check tomorrow's comments for the results...for whatever reason, Letter Boxed has not snagged me. I've often wondered what it is about it, since I normally love that kind of thing.

  93. I figured out the theme after Sheryl Crow and I had Martin. The bad thing was LALALAND fit in Ladybird spot so I threw a hissy fit because that has nothing to do with birds.

  94. This was especially insidious given that La La Land was a 2017 best picture (as the clue states) and Ladybird was in fact on the 2018 list...

  95. LETTER BOXED I didn't find any legitimate solution yet, but it is pretty hard to miss this message: F-K(4), S-R(5), B-L(4) Hint: I'd rather do crossword puzzles.

  96. @Andrew lol I just spotted the hidden message in LETTER BOXED. I guess we have a KC fan in the house.

  97. @pi oops, didn't see the SF at first

  98. I thought this was a great opening for my Sunday! I’m surprised by some of the grousing 😊 - I thought it was a smooth, enjoyable solve with plenty of fun reveals. Although my time was below average, it was higher than it should have been thanks to my inexcusable spelling of “LINGUINE” as “LINGUINI” (the Italian half of my family would be very disappointed), and the “MARIAN/MARION” distinction caught me up as others have mentioned. That meant that I had “TORERAS” instead of “TOREROS” which I should have realized was incorrect in such a male-dominated sport, but I like to think that I was channeling the theme of celebrating female artists! Thanks to Messrs. Herrick and Adams for a great puzzle!

  99. Aldus for ALBUS, chirped Tom ceaselessly. I am one of two Americans who did not watch Seinfeld so the down did not save me. All these LADYBIRDs and no mention of Ms. Johnson and freedom from billboards on the highways. Although I do miss the old Burma Shave signs. Krewe of Chewbacca parade yesterday. Sorry if you missed it. Stupid Bowl today where wardrobe malfunctions are no longer an issue. As it will be 72 and sunny here in Hattiesburg I will enjoy the first half on K&B’s patio. Thanks Brian and Christopher

  100. I am one of two Americans who did not watch Seinfeld so the down did not save me." dk, I'm the other one, but BENES was a gimme. I've also never watched "The Simpsons," but I do read puzzles.

  101. Apparently, there are more than two of us who did not watch Seinfeld. I had absolutely no idea what Elaine’s last name was.

  102. Tuck BENES away with ENYA, ENO, EMO and ONO -- they're crossword staples.

  103. I must have my days mixed up. Thought this was Sunday?? Seemed more like a Saturday puzzle. Have to rank this as a “completion”. The theme may have been not too tough - but I had to “research” CLARICE and MARION before I could make the theme work for the other anwers. Then, there were too many personal names which were no-knows. And ON POT remains a mystery. First time I can recall “Keynote” being used as a verb - - or are we accepting ORATE as a noun these days? Or is there a combination I’m just missing? Clue/answer at 52D just seem “weird” to me! Shouldn’t STRATI have been clued as Latin? A TV “weather person” would never use the word - - or even a pilot.

  104. @PeterW M-W definition of baked: under the influence of a drug and especially marijuana. As a Coloradan, ON POT was EASY

  105. @PeterW ON POT as in taking marijuana. Ever seen the movie Half-baked?

  106. Jessi D, I will take any ODDS he has not.

  107. ATALANTA came easily for me: one, she was one of the few Argonauts I already knew for a REASON that has a long story behind it, that has to do with my ex-in-laws and a Will Barnet print and a Greek classics major at Boston U, but I won't go into it; and two, I just read up on the Argonauts two days ago, for NO REASON except the puzzle! Loved this fluttery puzzle as I nested on a Sunday morning. All those lovely LADYBIRDs, with not a Johnson in sight!

  108. @Ann I see what you did there at the end. I might have had a chance of knowing ATALANTA if the clue had included a reference the race with the golden apples, but the crosses were pretty kind down there was she was. And a little nod to Baltimore for you with Ann TYLER.

  109. @vaer Whoops, Anne with an E TYLER.

  110. @Ann -- Hah! Stuck the landing.

  111. One dang letter missed! CLARICE with a C. I’m not sorry that I don’t know the names of the Spice Girls besides Posh. MELC? and because I’m annoyed, let me also complain about ORATE for “keynote” which is not a verb. And “bigheadedness” for EGO is borderline. And another thing—too many celeb names. Grumble, grumble. One dang letter.

  112. @PK A transitive verb_- I will deliver a speech defining the purpose of this conference

  113. @PK CEOs have been keynoting for decades now, I'm afraid. Don't you know that any noun can be verbed?

  114. @PK it's Mel C. :) There were two Mels (Melanies) in the Spice Girls, so Mel C. (Sporty Spice) and Mel B. (Scary Spice). Thanks to the tween version of my daughter for that useful bit of knowledge :)

  115. Good puzzle! (Though much more pop trivia-based than I'd prefer.) Kind of zoomed through it, only to have a hard-to-find wrong letter: Of *course* Saks is not the Costco competitor — a whole different league of store. But it took a good while to notice that. And *of course* Kartin is not a bird's name. (I'd thought it was called "Sam's Club," but what do I know.) Yet another diagram with left-right symmetry. I *think* the black squares depict a bird as seen from above (but maybe it's a plane or Superman). Definitely wondered if there is a Spice Girl named Melc, but apparently so.) Nice to learn the word apolune. The more interesting new words puzzles teach me, the better!

  116. polymath, You are correct: It is Sam's Club. Informally (as per the clue), SAMS. (I like learning new words too.)

  117. (The word "pooh-bah" is spelled with two H's.)

  118. @polymath oh pooh.

  119. Keep waiting for someone to mention the Superb Owl as a noteworthy bird for the day.

  120. @Margaret As puns go, that's ostrich.

  121. Nor egrets, ladies. Nor egrets!!

  122. TIL The answers to every single one of the theme answers, as clued, except for SIGOURNEYWEAVER. Not sure how I came close to my best time--If I was being snarky, I'd guess that the fill is too easy. YMMV, as always, but I prefer puzzles like yesterday's.

  123. I was apprehensive at first at the number of possible googles I would need -- but it turned out to be far fewer than expected. Browsing the NYT entertainment section actually pays off. So: 119A really raised my eyebrows -- many moons ago I was on a poetry reading kick and a snippet of one of those that stuck in my started like this:  When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces,     The mother of months in meadow or plain   Fills the shadows and windy places     With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain;   And the brown bright nightingale amorous   Is half assuaged for Itylus,   For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces,     The tongueless vigil, and all the pain. The title was "Atalanta in Calydon" by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Got a laugh out of 85A: another way of getting told to soak your head. Is 51A another way draw out an untruth? Is ELOPEE another correct answer to 8D? 19A -- is that related to Wally Ballou from Bob and Ray? (just asking)

  124. @Dr W Typo alert -- I meant "stuck in my mind". Guess I 'm now on record as losing it.

  125. @Dr W Nice poem and nice to have an argonaut that I knew.

  126. @Dr W I really like Swinburne, thanks for bringing this up.

  127. I was able to finish in just over 5 hours, which includes the timer running when I fell asleep until I heard the rooster CROW

  128. Spent Fri-Sat in Louisville, visiting both a Picasso exhibit and the Muhammad Ali museum. Perhaps that is why this puzzle seemed so boring.

  129. @archaeoprof The greatest X 2!

  130. An enjoyable Sunday puzzle. It helped the theme solve when I soon realized I would be looking for birds in names. I finally remembered PAMELA SUE MARTIN, pulled out of the deep recesses. I think she went on to play Nancy Drew. Also from a while ago, I knew of ATALANTA from a story on a record album produced by Marlo Thomas called Free To Be ... You And Me, about breaking free of gender roles. I found it at the public library at a time when I was still finding myself and loved it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_to_Be..._You_and_Me TIL about RITA DOVE, I knew all the others. I also recommend the film LADYBIRD.

  131. @Beejay You and I must be about the same age :) I loved Nancy Drew and Free to Be! I am pretty sure Pamela Sue Martin (which was my last name then!) was Nancy first, then Fallon. I remember, to, that Nancy Drew alternated weeks with the dreamy Hardy Boys :)

  132. @Jen Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson -- dreamboats, both! I adored Pamela Sue Martin. She plays the mom on the new Nancy Drew series.

  133. @Trixie Belden lol, I love your screen name! I will check out the new Nancy, thanks for the "clue!"

  134. Speaking of matches, the pieces fashioned from match sticks that are on display in Gladbrook, IA are amazing. The link takes you to a replica of the Notre Dame cathedral with 298,000 match sticks https://www.matchstickmarvels.com/models/notre-dame/

  135. Nice puzzle. Lots of pop-culture / sports, so it fell pretty easy for me, except the confounded SE corner. I had LADYBIRD (though i spelled it LadyByrd). I thought a bit unfair to have so many names stacked together down there. TYLER on top of LADYBIRD on top of ATALANTA, with crosses of ERTE and STARLING. I pictured Hannibel saying CLARICE's name, but I didn't remember her last name. 75A: one of the spice girls also gave me trouble. I thought too hard about it. I started with BABY, then guessed POSH. btw, MELC was Sporty Spice. Your welcome...

  136. @Newbie, just for future ref (should the occasion arise), you can spell Hannibal like Cannibal. (I think everyone who ever saw that movie could hear the soft sibilance of CLAReeeCE)

  137. My goodness, who knew there were so many women with bird names? This was a nice smooth solve and it made me smile often. I got the theme early on, with Sigourney Weaver and Scout Finch and Rita Dove, then the others came from crosses prodding my memory. Since you asked about Mort Sahl and Dumbledore, Caitlin, I knew them both. I guess I’m old enough to remember Mr. Sahl and have enough access to my inner child to know the Harry Potter characters quite well. I wasn’t really helped by the puzzle title, but only because I usually forget to look for it on Sundays. The bird theme revealed itself early on though. I really enjoyed your links today, Caitlin. Had never heard of birbs or boids, so I’m filing those away for future puzzles. I’d never heard of putting colorful collars on cats either. It’s a great idea but I wonder how many folks actually do that. Have a nice Groundhog Day everyone, and Go Niners,

  138. With over thirty answers requiring proper nouns, most of which probably new to me, I gave up after two hours. BALOO, ASTI, IDITAROD, and SAHL were easy, and I did finally get SIGOURNEYWEAVER, FRANKIE, SAMS, ALEVE, RILKE, TYPEE, ARUBA, and TIMOR with a couple key crosings. A few others I recognized when revealed, but only TAYLORSWIFT of the starred items. Never heard of ALBUS, TEENA, SCOUTFINCH, or BENES, dooming the NE. Ended up with 71 red cornered squares in the reveal! Had I looked at the column I could have filled in the last two letters of ONPOT, the A, P, and N of ASPEN, and the Ws and O of WHOSWE; maybe they would have helped with the crosses. And all the major names! But that sure would not have been a solve. (POLLO was easy, I don't understand what Caitlin means by "rice joke.") Sundays just ain't what they used to be!

  139. @kilaueabart I didn't quite get the chicken and rice joke, as well. IDITAROD might be the polar opposite of what goes on in Kauai. As for ONPOT, you live in Oakland. It's like 4:20 there, all the time (another pot reference, for the uninformed)

  140. @Newbie Thanks for the ON POT explanation - that never occurred to me. I assumed it was some sort of cooking term which had whooshed by me for years.

  141. @Andrew I don't nothin' about no opera or Shakespeezy. But drug slang, I'm your guy...

  142. In the Bay Area (at least the 49ers area), we say "Bang Bang Niner Gang" But however you celebrate the game, keep it safe. Have a great Super Bowl everyone. Weight-loss resolutions on hold, today...

  143. The 'cute puppy' video reminds me of the time when my Bearded Collie (a herding dog), at a grown-up 2 years old, encountered a flock of wild turkeys in our yard near Boston, MA. She started to circle 'round them and herd them ... until a very large cock turkey turned around, stared at her and started to walk towards her. She ran back to me a double-speed and jumped into my arms!

  144. @Mari My late beloved Molly, who was primarily either collie or sheltie or a combination thereof, but anyway a herding breed, used to try to herd the squirrels in Central Park. They scampered up trees, and Molly didn't get a herding medal.

  145. I got it! Hooray for little old me!

  146. @Chas O'Hanley Congrats! Nice way to start the Sunday.

  147. I so wanted (thought) the answer to 42a should have been APOGEE but it just wouldn't fit no matter how badly I tried to spell it. So, APOLUNE was a word I learned today. Great fun! And, so many bird names.

  148. Really enjoyed the puzzle and impressed by the number of theme answers. Caitlin's remarks re the royal we made me think of my favourite Mark Twain quote: "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'."

  149. I seem to be on a bit of a roll. I knew most of the theme names and got the rest from crossings. My sticking point was 86A, since I have some sort of geographic dyslexia, but I finally figured it out. Phew! I thought LEISURES was a little stretchy (doesn’t sound right to me as a plural) and that ON POT was kind of old-fashioned—like something my grandparents might have said but cute for that reason.

  150. Much too easy and kind of a big yawn.

  151. Is it just me, or does the overall shape of the puzzle smack of something flying? My instinct is butterfly, but I’m no ornithologist. As a beginner crossword fanatic it’s such a thrill to puzzle out so many answers!

  152. @Jo Yep -- check out some of the earlier comments.

  153. So far no one has said the puzzle was for the birds. That's impressive.

  154. Hmm. Seemed this was less of a crossword than trivia knowledge. Loads of proper nouns which if you know them makes the puzzle trivial, and if you don’t makes it a slog. For me the fun of a crossword is not just remembering facts, so this didn’t do it for me.

  155. ONE SQUARE added at least 15 minutes to my solve. Had “Torera” crossed with “Marian Crane” when is should have been TORERO Crossing MARION CRANE. I should have confirmed MARION with IMDB.com instead of Googling the English translation of TORERA. TIL Torera/Torero are female/male forms of the Spanish for bullfighter.

  156. *exact same*

  157. Done in record time, which is always a troubling thing ... sure enough some wrench in the works held me up at the finish. Was it APOLUNE? STRATI? MELC? ATALANTA? Ugh I just couldn’t put my finger on what was holding me down. Finally, after confirming the uncertainties were correct, there it was, a lack of Hitchcock and Bullfighting trivia, an A before an O. Hemingway would have rolled in his grave. I liked SUCHAS / WHOSEWE and the plethora of pop references was impressive but I don’t know who TEENA MARIE is so it doesn’t resonate with me. Besides the tripping point of MARION / MARIAN, STYLE was my last entry. Cheers.

  158. Congratulations Brian Herrick on a clever theme and a puzzle that was fun to solve. I agree with you "Lady Bird" was tremendous.

  159. I loved the puzzle and filled it quicker than usual... at least until I missed out on the final happy music. I looked but never did find that I misspelled CLARIsE STARLING and my lack of Spice Girls knowledge doomed me to having to look up answers the following day and losing my two-month streak.

  160. Excellent puzzle.I particularly enjoyed the visual symmetry of the puzzle as LADYBIRD was revealed. My personal Sunday favorite so far!

  161. What a wonderful theme! Very enjoyable puzzle.

  162. This is my first visit to Wordplay. I had completed the Xword and was just kind of curious to see the column, never dreaming that reader comments, if laid end to end, would go longer than the column itself. I have nothing to say about the theme clues or answers, though I’m curious how many people actually remembered the name of Janet Leigh’s character in Psycho. (After all, she was only in the picture for 20 minutes). For anyone who cares, there’s a pretty good podcast about how the picture came to be, called I think Inside Psycho. But there’s one clue that turns out to have two equally correct, equally obscure (for me) meanings with only one letter different! Of course the puzzle accepts only one of them. It’s the clue with the word “podium” in it. For me all the word suggested was what a speaker stands behind. That meaning obviously wasn’t going to help. The puzzle is looking for “medal,” as I assume anyone reading this knows. All I have to say is this: do an Internet search on “podium pedal”.

  163. why would the greek group take a roman ending? (horae) I have never had the chance to ask this of an xword composer (and believe me, its a hoary old mistake!).

  164. 93D....??