Ready, Set … Get Slow!

Nancy Stark and Will Nediger swoop in with a merrily muddled Sunday puzzle.

Comments: 209

  1. Last night I posted a RegEx for finding palindromes from 1-15 letters in the database. I figured out how doing 1-21 overtaxed the server. Each question mark in the RegEx indicates a binary decision, 0 or 1 of the previous character. There were eleven of them in the RegEx that failed: 01-21 2^11=2048 Fail 01-15 2^08=0256 Success 01-15 Last night's post ^(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?).?\7\6\5\4\3\2\1$ 1-21 Fail ^(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?).?\10\9\8\7\6\5\4\3\2\1$ Counterintuitive solution: Add two more binary decisions: one "|" and one "?" 1-21 ^((.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?).?\6\5\4\3\2|(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.?)(.)(.)(.)(.)(.).?\16\15\14\13\12\11\10\9\8\7)$ All I can think of is that the grouping of the decisions made it easier on the server. I'd like to hear from any other RegEx enthusiasts that might be on this board.

  2. Thank you Nancy and Will for a well-timed exceptionally fun Sunday puzzle, which I did this morning in the magazine. Took me a while to get the theme (all the way down at DUTCH TOWN TOUCHDOWN), but once I did I ate it up. Noted the slang at COLLAB despite Nancy’s distaste for modern slang such as SPENDY, but of course this puzzle was a COLLAB, so it was certainly an apropos entry. EUCHRE as slang for “Cheat” was a TIL for me, and I fought against it until I couldn’t any longer. This definitely gets my PPOW! (Puzzlemucker’s Puzzle of the Week) (please don’t sue me, Jeff). Not just because it was created by “our Nancy” and Will, but because it was an absolute blast.

  3. Nancy!!!!

  4. @vaer I KNOW!

  5. Scrod isn’t a fish; it’s a manner of preparing fish (split and boned); cf. “Split and boned entree” (2/21/09), “Fish dish” (5/26/19) = SCROD. Cod or haddock is the usual raw material, but other fish will do; cf. “Young haddock” (11/29/94, 1/11/07), “Young codfish” (3/10/00), “Young cod for dinner” (12/10/07) = SCROD, “Young haddocks” = SCRODS (7/16/08).

  6. @Fact Boy SCROD always brings to mind an Old Vermonter joke about two Vermonters discussing a third who went all the way to Boston to get SCROD.....

  7. @Fact Boy Scrod can most definitely refer to the fish, so the clue is fine. It is most often encountered in a culinary context, but not always. And even in that context, it refers to the fish.

  8. That one wook a tile. About mour finutes longer than average.

  9. Hey, “our Nancy”! Splendid Spoonerisms! I got the most stuck on 38A, trying to force it to be a “blurry blueberry”. You know, a wildlife shot of the blueberry barrens in fall... yeah, oh well.

  10. No mention of the fact that 80 down is a tribute to today's date (i.e. the date of the puzzle's intended publication)? March 15? ETTU? Anyone?

  11. @James Jacobs Where is Anna Perenna when you need her?

  12. @James Jacobs Seemed too obvious to point out. (That’s a joke btw. Sometimes, James, you just have to accept that you’re the smartest person in the room).

  13. Thanks, "our Nancy" and Will, for crafting such a delightful Sunday puzzle and then describing your collaborative process. This was an unusual Sunday puzzle for me, in that I sniffed out the theme early and then used the theme entries to crack the more difficult non-theme entries (e.g., TEAPOY, ARANCINI). I especially liked 102D's tribute to Walker PERCY, winner of the National Book Award for The Moviegoer, one of my top five favorite novels.

  14. @Robert Nailling I'm also a Walker Percy fan. Thanks for noting!

  15. Can someone help me with understanding 122A? And for that matter 108D?

  16. @Rory nevermind on the 108D, but still not sure with 122A...

  17. @Rory “Tight” and “tipsy” are both slang expressions for a little drunk. If you want to placate someone, you offer them a “sop” or a “concession.”

  18. @Rory "Tight" is a colloquial synonym for "drunk," so "a little tight" is "tipsy." Merriam Webster's second definition of "sop": a conciliatory or propitiatory bribe, gift, or gesture.

  19. "Tea with the Dames" has Dame Judi DENCH, Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Joan Plowright, and Dame Maggie Smith. It's just the four of them having an extended conversation acting and the theater and life, and is an absolute hoot and delight.

  20. @Rory. Tee many martoonies? Tight or tipsy ...

  21. Hi Nancy! The theme was a blast from the past, and the themers were fresh as a daisy. And thanks for the great grid, Will. I had fun two ways with the puzzle: laughing at the themers (and other unspooned wordplay), and laughing at the clues I knew you *didn't* write, since if you had found them in a puzzle, you would have let us know you didn't know the answers and, furthermore, couldn't care less. Great job!

  22. @Barry Ancona I'm looking at you Kanye West.

  23. Since my principal comment got held up by the emus for some unknown reason, I will go straight to the Canadian Corner: There are two well-known Canadian NHL defensemen in today's puzzle: One, (first name), who is now better known for his coffee (not Coffey), and the other (surname), who is widely regarded as one of the greatest hockey players ever.

  24. Andrew, There was a 48-minute gap between my post and yours; I suspect the problem wasn't emus.

  25. @Andrew I thought “Curry or Rice” was an excellent clue for TIM. Almost Seussian, as in Horton Hears a Who. Orr was it Bobby Hears a Who? (Thanks for taking it easy on us Yanks).

  26. @Puzzlemucker I thought "Curry or Rice" was going to be ANN...or ANNE?? Oh, fudge, that didn't work.

  27. Not to put too fine a point on it, and on the Ides of March no less, but regarding 80D- Shakespeare's "And you?" doesn't "Et tu" actually translate to "and you"?

  28. @Philly Carey Actually, the clue reads "Shakespeare's "You too?" Oops.

  29. @Philly Carey And how is "And you?" different in meaning from "You too?" Not really. If you were Caesar, but English-speaking, which would you be more likely to say? I'd most likely say "You too?" Even though both phrases have roughly the same meaning, "You too?" is more in-the-language than "And you?" After all, he's not being asked "How are you?" and replying with "I'm fine, and you?" No, not at all.

  30. Nerd-out alert. Whether Julius Caesar said anything at all as he died was doubtful to historians writing about his assassination shortly after (meaning, 150 or so years later). The first to suggest that there had been last words at all is Dio Cassius, and even he distances himself from stating it as fact: he quotes it as something that “some said” Julius Caesar had said. The may-have-happened-or-not utterance is then rendered in Greek as, “Kai su, teknon,” or, “And you, my son.” The literal translation of, “Kai su,” to Latin would be, “Et tu.” So far so good. “Kai su, teknon,” however, carries a special meaning in the Greco-Roman tradition: it was the traditional opening phrase of funerary epigraphs. A dying man was thought to possess the vision of an oracle, so his last words inscribed on the tomb would carry the power of a prophesy. Usually along the lines of, “And you, my son, will meet with [insert unsavory fate]” (the Greeks were big on schadenfreude). Not to be outdone by Greeks scribbling in stone, epic poets writing in Latin engaged in similar doomsday-laden phrasing, which traditionally went as, “Tu/te quoque [insert poor soy’s name and incipient fate].” (Virgil lines it so much that he peppered all of “Aeneid” with it.) “Tu quoque,” translates as, “You too.” Whether Julius Caesar said anything at all as he fell is a matter of conjecture, and he was fluent in both Greek and Latin. cont. below

  31. I noticed the clues Cans and Boot holding the same hidden meaning (of "getting rid of") in the same area with AXES and OUST. I suspected as much with Boot in the first pass (however, I went with "kick")...but Cans was the very last piece to fall.

  32. I thought I’d got naticked by the crossing of SOPS and TIPSY because I’d never heard either used as clued. Stared at it and stared at it. Meanwhile, over in the NE corner, HurRAH lurked, keeping me from the happy music HOORAH. PeRK looked okay as I scanned the down entries, and the neighboring CrMA didn’t stir me from what must’ve been a CrMAtose state. By the time I noticed where the very obvious error was, it sure felt like a HUEVO on my face.

  33. @Sam Lyons I already had -UE-O, so my first guess that the omelet was made with QUESO. Who'd have expected for there to be two different Spanish words that fit that pattern, and be omelet ingredients? And I skipped right over the more obvious one.

  34. @ Steve L Can a self-respecting omelet even call itself that without qUEsO, anyway? It was a fine first choice. I’d’ve guessed the same only I’d already filled in EVERSO. Cheese makes food worth eating.

  35. @Sam Lyons salSa worked with enough crosses i nearly starved before considering a blander option. :-)

  36. Tongue Twisters are a wordplay category unto themselves, and they are not all that common in crossword puzzles. So BOO BLURRED BLUEBIRD was worth the price of admission, no matter how contrived its clue. What a doozie!

  37. So nice not to have to wait until tomorrow for feedback. And such nice feedback! Because finding anything or anyone on this blog -- which has a scrolling system invented by the Marquis de Sade and an F3 system that only works about 68% of the time -- I'll thank today's people today and come back tomorrow to respond to tomorrow's people. I so appreciate the comments of @Puzzlemucker, @Margaret and @Robert Nailling. And also @Barry Ancona. I chuckled at your comment, Barry; you know my puzzle biases so well. And you're completely correct -- I didn't write any of the proper name trivia clues, other than Willie Mays and Bing Crosby and, even worse, I didn't know any of them either. I was cursing my own puzzle as I came close to Naticking on some of those names. Only remembering my theme answers got me through those sections. As for all the other clues I wrote -- you don't think I REMEMBER them after 9 or 10 months, do you? I barely remember what I had for dinner last night. I shall return tomorrow. Not so very early, I suspect. Thanks again.

  38. @Nancy Great puzzle! When I was a kid, I was so enamored with Willie Mays that I made SAY HEY KID my middle name. Loved seeing the reference in the puzzle. The themers were fantastic, especially the BLUEBIRD, STEVEDORE and DUTCH TOWN ones. The puzzle was a true respite from current events. Thank you!

  39. @Nancy great puzzle! I had to work at it but what a reward! And no help from Google! A nice distraction from all the “breaking news”.

  40. @Nancy The dynamics of blog relationships are strange indeed. When I saw that the puzzle, Sunday edition no less, had been constructed by our own Nancy, I felt a sense of pride. And, Rex be damned, what a wonderful puzzle it is. Challenging and humorous, I struggled with the unknown personages, Nancy’s own usual bugaboos, but the beauty of the puzzle was that it enabled me to fill in these otherwise unknowable, at least to me, names and finish. In deference to Nancy I persisted without a single cheat and so my sense of pride extended to cloak me as well. Brava Nancy and thanks.

  41. If you've never played euchre, you're missing out!

  42. Been at this for a year. DUTCHTOWNTOUCHDOWN is my favorite to date.

  43. 41 down should have been Danish Cings. Erik led me astray

  44. Excellent puzzle! Thank you Nancy and Will! Catching on early only made the spoonerism quest more enjoyable. However I feel quite ashamed to have originally filled in TOO BLURRED BLUE TURD. I knew that couldn't be it. Would an opinionated federal agent be a STANCEY NARC? Looking forward to Nancy's post tomorrow...

  45. Emend really through me off. I kept switching it back to amend. Is emend a real word?

  46. All the way through? ;-)

  47. Yes, a real word.

  48. As a math tutor, calculus is integral to my life. (I need to limit these puns.)

  49. Not if you derive pleasure from them.

  50. @Mike Your post today is a sine of the Times.

  51. This thread has too many variables.

  52. I've played EUCHRE since I was a teenager and never knew it had a cheating reference. Now that I know it , I have REPOSED under a bower for the rest of the evening

  53. @coloradoz In my EUCHRE group we never referred to the left and right bower but rather "the jick" and "the jack". Since there were two of us named Jack in the group, I became known as Jick

  54. @coloradoz (Jick) Ok. I stink at Spoonerisms, but . . . “Onslaught of shiny green stones?”

  55. @Puzzlemucker Hint: the “of” is [amateurishly] part of the answer. Double hint: my suspicion is that ColoradoZ is the unSpoonerized version of this. Triple hint: “Onslaught of every single shiny green stone.” Quadruple hint: [Stop already with the hints!] Off on a daylong hike in the hills. Time to remember those famous words of advice from the Brits: Keep clams and carry balm.

  56. Rotterdam is a fairly large city. Maybe a better clue for a DUTCH TOWN would be Edam or Haarlem. Can’t say I ever heard of tight referring to inebriation. Great puzzle, joy to solve but took awhile.

  57. I’m very familiar with TIGHT meaning inebriated. Maybe regional? Or just an older usage?

  58. A fine chewy puzzle today that slowed me down in several places, especially in the northeast. With six very cute theme entries! Fun! [serious etymology alert] Enjoyed seeing the interesting words gnocchi (yum!) and euchre. And learned the words "teapoy" — which American Heritage says comes from Persian and Hindi, meaning "three feet" — related to tri- and ped- — and arancini, which Merriam-Webster says comes from Arabic and Latin meaning "little orange." And the odd word scrod, which is sometimes spelled schrod. Says American Heritage: "Possibly back-formation (influenced by cod and codfish) from English dialectal (Cornwall) scrawed fish, from scraw, scroal, to prepare (young fish) by splitting, salting, partial drying, and broiling." Wikipedia says: "Fish are scrawed when they are prepared in a particular way before cooking. This scrawing consists in cutting them flatly open and then slightly powdering them with salt and sometimes with pepper. They are then exposed to the sun or air, that as much as possible of the moisture may be dried up."

  59. PS The origin of euchre is said to be unknown in some dictionaries. Other sources say it comes from the Alsatian game "juckerspiel" — . These sources are pretty convincing.

  60. This wordplay playground was terrific fun, a marrel of bonkeys, well, actually, a trove of bonkers that had me scampering to figure out the remaining theme answers with as little filled in as possible, after getting the first (Hi, @Caitlin!). This -- figuring out unknown theme answers -- to me, is one of the most fun parts of crosswords, when it presents itself, and the silliness of today's answers added to the fun. A lot more fun than "She sells seashells". I didn't want it to end, and was sad when it did. @Nancy's voice rang clear to me in the cluing, and I'm sure most of it was hers. There is so much wordplay in her blog comments and poems, and here it was in clues such as [Put down in print] for LIBEL, [They've got talent] for AGENTS, and [Cloth that may get a lot of tears] for HANKIE. There were also excellent tricky vague clues and misdirects. This one had me going "Whee!" all over the place. Thank you, Nancy and Will, for this virtual playground. I had a blast.

  61. @Love you, Lewis!

  62. my nephew in Seattle now has to learn AP CALC on his own online as we all participate in "social distancing." Hope all are well!

  63. Well, that was fun! Thanks, Nancy and Will. I found a secret extra themer...see that one at the lower left corner? Clue: What the fan said to Willie Mays so the fan's kid could hear it live. Answer: "Hey, say: 'say hey!'" In addition to following the rules for the theme, it has the form ABBA. Which is found in the _upper_ left corner. --- My only role in Shakespeare was as Soothsayer. I still remember all four of my lines. Very appropriate to note that today is the Ides of March. "Ay, Caesar, come, but not gone."

  64. Et tu coronavirus?

  65. If you’re going to go whacky, go all the way. Every one of these Spoonerisms was ready as a stock. HOORAH @Nancy and Mr Nediger! Dell won.

  66. I'm a big fan of spoonerisms so absolutely loved this puzzle. Great 'aha' moment when I got the first one and then tons of fun working each of them out. Not a complete success for me as I left the NE corner largely blank. Thought of 'calc' but blanked on 'ap' which was not a thing when I was in school. Then just couldn't figure out anything else up there for sure. Not a big deal - still one of the best solving experiences in recent memory. OT: Headed for the grocery store shortly. Sunday morning is usually my favorite time to shop, as a lot of people sleep in and a lot of others are in church. Well... I don't think anyone's going to church today. I'm very curious to see what the stores are like this morning. I don't have a good feeling about it. Oh, and not looking for toilet paper this morning, but curious to see if that section is bare (as it has been for 3 straight days). Will be hoping to get a pack of tapered owls (returning to the theme).

  67. "Thought of 'calc' but blanked on 'ap' which was not a thing when I was in school." Rich, It may not have been a thing *where* you were in school, but AP exams started in the 1950s.

  68. @Barry Ancona I stand corrected. And it's hard to type when you're standing. ..

  69. @Rich in Atlanta If you’d said “AP” anything at my high school in the 70s people would have thought you were talking about a grocery store. Add plants basement (I clearly didn’t take AP Spoonerisms).

  70. "Say hey kid" is attributed to Barney Kremenko, who was covering the Giants for the Journal-American when Willie Mays came into the majors. I probably wouldn't know that had Barney not married one of my mom's friends; my mom was maid of honor at the wedding. My mother wasn't into sports, but my grandmother was a Giants fan and made sure I knew it!

  71. Some more thoughts on this, one of my favourite puzzles ever! I found it particularly satisfying to see DEED under ABBA at the very top. A little pre-Spoonerism palindromia... This may just be my personal take, but as I read each of the Spoonerisms from top to bottom in the puzzle, I find each one to be even wittier and more creative than the last. B CHORD KEYBOARD is absolutely brilliant, and as both a pianist and a sometime Spoonerist, I never could have imagined such wordplay. I had never heard of a TEAPOY before either, and I thought it quite judicious of Nancy not to turn it into a themer. I am not exactly sure what the clue for TEAPOY PEE TOY would have been anyway. Again, thank you Nancy for a superb puzzle! KANYE feel the love tonight?

  72. Love you, @Andrew from Ottawa!

  73. @Andrew Maybe I'm stating the obvious here, but the lyric for "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" is by none other than Tim Rice.

  74. @Bob T. Wish I could say that I had known that! I only knew it as Elton John. Good catch!

  75. Great themers! Not even gonna try to come up with my own.

  76. @ad absurdum, after discarding *so many* that just don’t work at all, here’s one, just a pale shadow compared to Nancy’s: “Graphics showing the spice components of different brands of hot beverages?”

  77. @Margaret Chai parts pie charts! Nice! I got stuck trying to figure out what you meant by Chai teas tai chis!

  78. @Margaret Now you've got me doing it. Thanks a lot! :) "Where an annoying castaway sleeps?"

  79. Too tricky for me to enjoy. Frustrated by lots of Naticks and I didn't really get the theme until I came here. Going to the archives to hopefully find a more relaxing Sunday puzzle.

  80. At 47 across, something appears wrong....Brando was only a nominee for Best Actor when I looked this up.

  81. @Christina No he won for On the Waterfront and Godfather.

  82. Andrew, She said she looked it up, she knows *what* he won Oscars for; the question was *when.*

  83. Try and say "Boo Blurred Blue Bird " - I laughed out loud trying to say this -can't do it !! Fun puzzle - grokked the theme about 2/3 through -very witty and a great distraction in these trying times .

  84. @Nancy I absolutely loved your puzzle! (Rex is crazy, but we all know that). Got the theme immediately from the title (my Dad was an educated non-native English speaker who loved spoonerisms and all kinds of wordplay, so my mind goes there fast). STEVEDORE DIVA STORE my fave of your themers. Thought the fill was fun, too! The whole thing was just right, perfect amount of resistance, plenty of smiles, totally enjoyable. Also I'm proud that Rex thought it was medium-challenging and I finished it (been doing nytxword since college in the 70s with erudite bf who could also do cryptics, which I cannot). You're an inspiration! I may have to get one of those blue names. Thank you! Lisa

  85. "(Rex is crazy, but we all know that)" Lisa, I rarely look, but since I recall Rex being away for Nancy's last effort, and since I know she's in the house, I had to look today. I was delighted to see the vast majority of commenters there loving the puzzle and making cracks about Rex. I was not surprised to see his extensive rant about the title being "wrong" demonstrate his lack of awareness that it *is* correct and in current use as a variant. But what else is new?

  86. Thanks, Lisa! Congrats on getting the theme from the title. Not many people did. And STEVEDORE was my favorite theme answer, too. Do get a blue name, come over briefly to Rex where I might be able to track you down (unlike here), and we can chat off-blog.

  87. Very confused by the 47A best actor clue. 72 was Hackman and 54 was Holden.

  88. Will, Year of film, not year of award.

  89. I thought the same thing... I always have to look up things with names, this was not possible

  90. @Will Arduino i sympathize, this issue used to break my brain. now when faced with award-related clues, i solve quicker by relaxing the criterion and thinking of the given year as an estimate and the answer within a radius.

  91. Took me a minute, but I had to come back to say, "Hi, Nancy!," too. VOLARE!

  92. This was an extraordinarily fun solve because the spoonerisms were actually rather intuitive. So once I got one answer, getting the others was still challenging but not overly frustrating. But the rest of the puzzle fooled me frequently by offering multiple possible answers to fit many of the clues.

  93. That's two days in a row I am well above my average time. Either I am getting much slower in my old age (which I refuse to believe) or all this handwashing is removing valuable neurons.

  94. Andrew, Or they were a bit more difficult than recent Saturday and Sunday puzzles?

  95. This was a fun and challenging puzzle - but what a cruel (and slightly disappointing) misdirect on the final themed clue. Honestly surprised this wasn't commented on in the Wordplay column. I was so sure that every theme clue required reversing the first letters of each half (since the first 5 did exactly that), that I had B*****KEYBOARD for the longest time, even though the first thing to pop into my head was CHORD. But whatever the second half of the first part was it had to start with a K right? Well, as we all know, that was not right, and I finally filled in GNOCCHI and gave in to entering CHORD. The theme was so close to being perfect (IMO, YMMV), but that took a bit of the luster off.

  96. @Rob Maybe those of us who first got the theme from the KEYBOARD (I know there was at least one other) were lucky? I never thought of a need for the consonants to be spelt the same way.

  97. @kilaueabart - Maybe Rob pronounces the word "chord" with some other sound at the beginning, besides "k". Can't imagine why, though.

  98. One of the more puzzling of Sunday puzzles in a while! Loved it! As mentioned by others, NE corner had me stuck for a while - on HURRAH. On the other hand, there were some serendipitous pairings...for one, I found it interesting that BELLY/BELIE coincided since it proves to be quite difficult to belie one.

  99. Whee! I did this in the middle of the night and it was more fun than the Tilt-A-Whirl. I began at the top and thought that this was going to be as easy as a kiddy ride in the park. I had ALLHAIL and ALE before I checked for a title and did a head slap. I can’t imagine why any critic would have a title tirade when the delightful wackiness was right in front of us. At that point I had an idea what was coming in the themers and I was excited to see what clues Nancy had in store for us. Of course they were devilishly misdirected! Did a word have multiple meanings? Well then ignore the obvious! This is what I love best about solving. Anyone can memorize obscure baseball players and regurgitate them on command, but I long for cluing that gives me a little thrill at the AHA moment. Nancy is a master. It’s hard to pick a favorite spoonerism here, but I’ll have to go with my last to solve and the most topical. SONERVOUSNOSERVICE could be an anthem for our time. I sometimes have to mentally slap myself when I see that I am out of range or heaven forbid have left my phone at home. I am well aware that I navigated the vast majority of my life with NOSERVICE and should be oblivious to the inherent “danger”, but the SONERVOUS me worries anyway. At the risk of being redundant, I’ll say “Brava” and “Bravo” to Nancy and Will! They are a stellar team.

  100. Some of the Reverend Spooner's memorials felt strained (the last one legitimate though), but I had to face the self-query, " Y am I persisting?"

  101. I just found out today that I have had a two-tiered teapoy hiding in plain sight in my house for decades. Mine holds knickknacks and was handed down to me from my paternal grandmother. Who knows where she got it, maybe Dublin? (She was 100% Irish but US born.) I did have the feeling of a slow car crash as I neared the end of my random solve, watching the cursor jump around Delgado, gag and gel and side-eyeing "teapoy". I hit the "Check solution" button and cringed, waiting for the Sorry window but no, I got Correct, hoorah, and in my Sunday random average time besides. 114A was the first place I had enough crosses to discern the double-spoonerism quality of the themers. My favorite was "Stevedore diva store". I found this hard, in a good way. And sure, maybe the cluing got carried away a wee bit at "coma", but it was spot on in so many places (RADIOS, LETTER, LET ME TRY, HANKIE, MOOS, DUBLIN, KANYE, etc., etc.) BELLY next to BELIE, that's cute! SOLE almost mirrored by SCROD. Rhymes (Half-CAF, REIN for constrain). Anagram of "salient". All good stuff. I will admit that the title did nothing for me even after solving. At least it didn't give the trick away. Nancy and Will, another great puzzle, thanks!

  102. @Teedmn You describe a tabletop tiered tray meant to be used for afternoon tea time. Cakes, biscuits, and other goodies would be arrayed there,....

  103. @Teedmn Ready, Set ... Let’s Go

  104. @Mean Old Lady I've heard those called curate stands.

  105. Very interesting puzzle, but those are NOT "Spoonerisms." Here is an example: It is a pleasant old kisstom to cuss the bride. If you can't tell the difference between simple transpositions and actual Spoonerisms , there's not much more I can do. TEAPOY is new to me. Cool word.

  106. @Mean Old Lady Transpositions a la 'Lirty Dies' count too. "Lady may I sew you to your sheet?" has been a tandard sexample fince sorever.

  107. @Laid Old Meanie I figure that the OED is the appropriate authority to consult for the definition of Spoonerism: "An accidental transposition of the initial sounds, or other parts, of two or more words." I believe that your definition is unduly restrictive.

  108. @pete mac I think the essence of Spoonerisms is the humorous confusion created, and these themers don't meet that standard. The transpositions aren't funny. It was enough for me that the theme pairs were interesting transpositions, but that was all they were.

  109. I didn’t finish the puzzle in one swell foop and enjoyed every minute of my time. I had a lot of trouble getting to wordplay on the iPhone today, hope that doesn’t happen again. I still can’t do it on the iPad.

  110. @suejean I would recommend going through your browser to get to Wordplay. If you use the app, you'll only see the first three answers to any comment.

  111. A tough Sunday puzzle. I was so happy to get the Congratulations sign when the last square was filled in, although the 31 minutes it was a lot higher than normal. But its always great to start your day with something that takes you away from the problems of the real world, even for only 31 minutes. Stay safe everyone.

  112. Nancy, Thanks for a great puzzle. When I saw your name as constructor, i knew it would have word-play, my favorite kind of puzzle. Clever cluing throughout. As phrases, the spoonerisms were trickier than normal, 2-word efforts. Congrats, and stay safe.

  113. Brilliant! It seems that Will is able to give Nancy the latitude she needs for her brilliant entries. I was going to list the great clues but there are too many.

  114. Why not list just a few of the brilliant entries?

  115. Please forgive me if I repeat anyone's comment, I simply don't have time to read all right now, and I am compelled to put in my two cents worth because of one today's constructors. It is always so my fun when one in our community has their name at the top of the puzzle: congratulations, Nancy! Today's puzzle is a great display of your wit and Will's wonderful grid work. You two really gave my brain a workout, something so many Sunday's do not do. And, you gave me more than a few chuckles. Again, not necessarily a Sunday treat. Intelligence and levity! So Brava! And Bravo! I look forward to your next COLLAB!

  116. One of the slightest, but cleverest entries, IMO, is 80D: given the date the puzzle is published, Mar. 15, the Ides of March! Did anyone notice this?

  117. Bill, Yes.

  118. @Bill delightful. thank you!

  119. Cool puzzle! My time stunk today and blew my average, and I don't always like cutesiness, but I have to say that this puzzle is pretty witty.

  120. Anyone else try BOO BLURRY BLUEBERRY? 😂 Fooled us for a minute but saying it out loud enough times eventually got us the right answer!

  121. @Corrine Yes I had that too but my down crosses were not working. Only because as a hobby photographer we say a photo is blurry when it's out of focus, we never say BLURRED. That is used more when something is blurred out not an out of focus blurry shot

  122. Gave up last night with the easy(?) parts done. Had at least caught on to what was going on with BCHORDKEYBOARD. Fresh mind this morning helped a bit, but SONERVOUS with crazy guesses like DIVASTORE. I wasn't sure what to do about the NE. Thought maybe I would turn to the column but first try checking a few more guesses. Is there such a word as (CHIE)FDOM? Is there an (AR)M(AN)I brand? Somebody named (K)ANYE West? Finally a calculus class called A(P)CALC? (P)ORK seemed reasonable for "Bill padding." Much relieved when that didn't bring up the "at least one booboo" warning. So many wild guesses (like TEAPOY) even if the crosses said they had to be right.

  123. How about making a few more crossword puzzles available for free while we are all at home dutifully social distancing? Thanks!

  124. @Peggy Hanson Have you looked in the archive. It will keep you busy.

  125. What happened to the crossword link at the top of the page?

  126. rawebb1, I give up. What happened to it?

  127. I'll add my kudos for a really fun puzzle, plus gratitude for giving us Renoir and Matisse in close proximity. I didn't know that story about Le Bateau...thank you!

  128. Nancy, I enjoyed the puzzle it was perfect for a Sunday where you just want fun long theme answers. As for Rex, he has not liked a puzzle with a theme in months. He hates any theme and nitpicks it. He only likes 1 in 12 puzzles and these are only themeless Friday and Saturday puzzles, but only if they contain many multiple word phrases that are new, modern and slangy. This week's Friday and Saturday were not like that so he hated them. His big problem with themes is if they aren't so tight to be related and almost identical in connection, then that slows him down, and he doesn't like being slowed down. Since your themes were not something you could quickly work out, like Stevedore Diva Store, that's going to take some time to figure up. The rest of us, most of the time, like the silly themes, and we don't rush through. I agree with Rex about when a puzzle has too much crosswordese and yours did not, and he didn't mention that. I liked all the foreign words in this puzzle because that is what I know best. I've not had an ARANCINI in years. I used to buy them at Il Delfino near Largo Argentina in Rome.

  129. Dear New York Times I love you for your honest journalism. I love you even more for your puzzles. It’s my favorite form of meditation. How about a double daily dose of Spelling Bee and the crossword over the next few weeks? I could use the extra distraction from the TP shortages and climbing death rates.

  130. I’m proud of myself for sticking with this one but on top of the proper names, there were a lot of obscure (to me) jargon [FOP, TEAPOY, STEVEDORE, UTE] Odd (to me) spelling [HOORAH NOT HOORAY OR HURRAH] And things I still dont understand despite finishing the puzzle—ICE for « put away », TIM for « rice or curry », TIPSY for « tight », the crossing ORR/REC... But I learned a lot of random trivia—particularly the controversies related to the bird picture, the Matisse painting, the SERRA sculpture, and the PERCY award! Whew!

  131. Ice is to off someone, kill them. Tim Rice, Tim Curry. I had Ann originally

  132. @Susan In sports, you ice a victory when you make a score the opponentcan not overcome. You have put them awayc

  133. Sarah, You may have found the four words in brackets in your first paragraph "obscure," but none are "jargon."

  134. HALL ALE? Whazat, Huh?

  135. @SteveG Maybe ALE that is served in a dorm HALL?

  136. ... or, ritually acceptable food ... why not. :-)

  137. I liked this puzzle. The spoonerisms were fun to figure out. I was SO NERVOUS that EUCHRE was a mistake because ICE didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either, but luckily "E" was the only letter that seemed possible there. TIL what a TEAPOY is but the crosses were fair. Lots of clever wordplay with the clues for SALTINE, LETTER, and CAF. I look forward to more puzzles by this team.

  138. I so enjoyed today’s puzzle, although the northeast corner was my downfall! All of the Spoonerisms were wonderful - it’s hard to pick a favorite, although SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE hits close to home 😊. Loved “Playing the fall guy?” and the rhyming crossing of RENOIR and NOIRE (which happened to fall consecutively for me) - thanks to the authors for a great Sunday!

  139. ABBA opening to picking up that final STYX what a delightful way to start the morning incarceration. I was seeing the ABBA pattern for entry word order as the puzzle’s reveal until 114A didn’t quite GEL & I asked ERRATA? SCADS to like in this grid that didn’t allow the usual Sunday GLIDE through too obvious cluing. I HOPE your family enjoys this COLLAB as much as I did. And thanks to Will for being such an awesome coconspirator—can I adopt him as my SPIRIT ANIMAL?

  140. This is just what I love about a puzzle. Almost a total mystery when I begin. Then, OK, maybe I know a few of these. (ARMANI/ARANCINI, FEDEX/STYX, DENCH/SHARD). Then, NERVOUS became apparent. Because of ? Ah. NOSERVICE. OK. maybe I can do this. From then on, it was a joy. ALLHAIL was awkward for me, but balanced by the landing in Rotterdam. What a fun Sunday. And the sun is shining. A good day. Thanks.

  141. Put me squarely in the LOVED IT camp!  Although I'm in line with Rex on 2 points: the title was a little "meh" for me - but I didn't even look at it until he mentioned it, so who cares? And I also fell down the TEAPOY/TEAbOY habit role. But, neither of these nits did squiddly dot to lessen my fun, AND I learned a new word! This is the best Sunday in a long time IMHOpancakes, and kudos to @Nancy and Will for a job exceedingly well done. Poor Rex has absolutely no sense of whimsy -- the themers didn't need to make any sense -- the idea was to figure it out!, which is where most of the fun lies.  @jae and @webwinger thanks for the sofa spud recommendations -- why read when you can be a mindless slug? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Cheers!

  142. XEDOUT? RAMON? Come on.

  143. In the spirit of enjoying the cultural references in the NYTXW, I've started a to build a playlist on Spotify of songs referenced in the daily puzzle. The Playlist is Today's additions: "SOS" by ABBA, "I'm An Old Cowboy" Bing Crosby and "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands" by one of my favorite singers of spirituals, Marian Anderson. I've also set up a spreadsheet that anyone can comment to add a new song, following the template I've set up. I think it'd be fun to see what kind of list each year puts together... but given the number of songs, I'm going to keep it quarterly.

  144. @Sam T You should also pick out something by STYX.

  145. @Sam T I thought maybe Bing Crosby might have been the one who sang "I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande, ... a cowboy who never saw a cow, never roped a steer..." I went to the Playlist to check it out, but didn't find it. Maybe if my browser could handle Spotify?

  146. @Sam T I thought maybe Bing Crosby might have been the one who sang "I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande, ... a cowboy who never saw a cow, never roped a steer..." I went to the Playlist to check it out, but didn't find it. Maybe if my browser could handle Spotify? Oops. I was thinking of Gene Autry.

  147. I enjoyed this tongue twister puzzle very much! I was stumped on some of the same answers (never heard of a teapoy) as others were but still finished it 14 minutes faster than usual. Since we are all isolated during this crisis, maybe the NYT can publish a second puzzle each day to keep our minds occupied;-) The puzzle is the main reason I subscribe!

  148. Peggy, There are "a few" puzzles in the archive!

  149. @Peggy Kendall And to add to Barry's comment, there's the Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed; and for non-word puzzles, Tiles, Vertex, Sudoku and more.

  150. It was tough for me and I had to resort to a EUCHRE more than once, but I filled in every LETTER. Some favorite clues for LIBEL, KANYE, HUEVO and especially SALTINE. I tried hard to make DIYER a fixer first. Nice one Nancy and Will. Thanks EVERSO much!

  151. Joe DiPinto, what you wrote: "This puzzle had me at ARANCINI. I loved the spoonerisms. And the rest of the fill was quite entertaining." And the SAYHEY Kid dropped by, one of my favorites. (No, not that old, love baseball and baseball history.) Two Chicago references, DEPAUL & KANYE and a salient saltine. Had to sandwich the solve around a half-marathon as too challenged pre dawn to finish. Great fun having something clever to ponder for 13.1 miles.

  152. Would love to see a stevedore diva store! I would so shop there!

  153. @Mary White Makes me think "Pirates of Penzance" as shoppers.

  154. What a great image!🤣

  155. Anyone else get excited that Shakespeare's "et tu" appeared on the ides of March?!

  156. I didn’t notice! Thanks for the heads up.

  157. Nancy’s correct, Spoonerising every two word phrase has become an obsession. Amazing gold embroidery border? Stunning rich running stitch. I’m sure I’ll be up all night.

  158. Tough one for me -- large natick in upper right corner but a really great photo of the bird.

  159. @Dr W My experience was similar—the NW was blank for a long time, but eventually got conquered.

  160. @JayTee Scratch that, NE, not NW.

  161. @JayTee Gotcha. :-)

  162. This didn't go through the 1st time. Trying again. It was written in response to @Kathleen Verron: It will interest you -- and presumably many others also -- to know that one of the Wills (I don't know which one) changed my clue for SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE. He made it much better and much more contemporary, but I never would have thought of that clue myself. As someone who doesn't carry a cell phone (and really, really doesn't want to), I never made a connection of NO SERVICE to cellphone service. My clue was about being stranded at a hotel during a hotel strike. I was thinking: no food, no drinks, no clean sheets or towels, pool and spa perhaps closed. Which sounds much worse to me than having to sit in the park without the damn phone ringing -- probably a robot call anyway. We all have different priorities. But this is a better clue.

  163. Nancy, From you I would have expected a foot fault!

  164. A Roman farmer is toiling in his fields, when he finds a magnificent berry on one of his bushes. He picks the berry, and rushes home to show his wife, who agrees she's never seen a berry so big and juicy, and calls all the neighbors to come ans see the wondrous berry. Before long, the berry is the talk of the town, and the local magistrate dispatches a squadron of legionaries to bring the fabulous berry to him, so that he can send it to Caesar as a gift. A centurion knocks on the farmer's door, and he opens it with a smile and says, "Have you come to praise my magnificent berry?" The centurion replies, "I come to seize your berry, not to praise it."

  165. @Grant My friend, and fellow band member, Cézar, was just finishing a sax solo in the college Latin Jazz ensemble rehearsal, when Steve, the teacher/director of another group entered the room in need of Cézar's services, temporarily, in another ensemble. He said "Well played, but I come to borrow Cézar, not to praise him". For an inveterate punster like Steve (and myself), such moments are a rare and wonderful gift, to be treasured forever.

  166. Found this much harder than the usual Sunday, which is a compliment BTW and nice for those of us stuck in the hot zone. Loved the wordplay. SO NERVOUS! NO SERVICE! made me laugh out loud. I had a BLURRy BLUEBerry thinking cross thoughts about inconsistency for way too long. Also had DIVe STORE too long as well. TEAPOY crossed with the unknown DELGADO was a bit mean, but guessed correctly. EUCHRE apparently I almost remembered.

  167. @Theresa Beyer I hope it’s bearable there, and proves a concept.

  168. I am curious about how many people who post comments here do both the crossword and spelling bee, vs how many do one or the other. Seems to me that they require different skill sets. I do the spelling bee first thing in the morning every day, the mini every day, and the crossword only on Monday and Tuesday. I always attempt Wednesday but give up.

  169. @beth I do both crosswords and spelling bee, but I think I'm more facile with the crosswords, which I do every day. The mind is fascinating in its variability. I've always been frustrated with my poor ability with anagrams. Go figure.

  170. @beth—for your survey: I do the crossword every day, but have never tried the Spelling Bee. I also freely admit to doing “research” on the late week puzzles. I read some very interesting Wikipedia articles that way, and learn a lot. Some consider that cheating, but not me. As we say, your mileage may vary.

  171. @beth -- Crossword every day, and Spelling Bee regularly, but not every day.

  172. Tough on the average, but got there eventually. Clever and annoying! Thanks.

  173. Having trouble typing today (fell on one arm, and it hurts), but had to add my kudos to "our" Nancy and Will. Had trouble at first, and had to get the back half of 23A from the Ds. I could see the Spoonerism, but HALL ALE was very strange to me. Then started 38A with TOO BLURRY, so more confusion. But I persevered and all became clear(er). Favorite was the STEVEDORE DIVA STORE. Maybe tied with DUTCH TOWN TOUCHDOWN. At first wanted 114A to be some kind of harpsichord chord, but it didn't work at all! I infer from comments that Rex was scornful. I've only read Rex's column maybe twice before swearing off forever, but I would consider his dislike a feather in your cap. Thanks!

  174. Deadline, Hey, be careful out there!

  175. This was a fabulous puzzle and I enjoyed every minute of the solve. I knew from the title that we were looking at spoonerisms—first letters of two words switched—but it took me a lot of crisscrossing to get some letters into those 14 and 18 theme phrases. My first success was seeing the possibility of DIVASTORE, and I knew there was a word for dockworker, but had to let go of that thought for awhile before it came to me in a flash while doing something else entirely. Mysterious workings of the brain! Unfortunately, I spelled STEVEDORE with an A in the middle. When I figured out all the other very clever themers and had every square filled, I still got the “keep trying” message 🙁. I had pretty much forgotten that I never really solved 51 down. I knew EUCHRE was a card game but not the usage we had here, for cheating. Once I read Caitlin’s explanation of that clue, I saw that I had an A where an E should be. I don’t mind making mistakes like that, because a puzzle such as this one is such a delightful learning experience. It definitely tickled my fancy, and I learned another wonderfully obscure (to me) word: TEAPOY. I kept staring at that entry, wondering what I could have done wrong. Delighted to find out in the end that there was such a thing after all. Thanks Nancy and Will for giving us all a treat in the midst of our current angst.

  176. Much kudos for ET TU appearing on March 15.

  177. Only ONCE was my IRE raised and that was just A WEE BIT --- DIYERS just didn't sit well with me. Overall, however, this was a very entertaining Sunday Puzzle IMO.

  178. Regarding the puzzle creators: kudostothetwoofthose. OK, OK. I'll keep my day job.

  179. I'm from Michigan, where EUCHRE is very popular. I have never once heard it used in the context of "to cheat." That's not even what euchre means in the game itself.

  180. Agreed. And I’m not sure of Caitlin’s joker reference. The card isn’t used in Euchre.

  181. @Erin H I learned it in college (UW) about 60 years ago.

  182. @Erin H - taking three tricks from your opponent partnership is "to euchre" them - where euchre is a verb. From that usage (originating in the card game) came the verb "to euchre" meaning to deny another person a win in a situation where they had an expectation of winning: to cheat them out of a win (not by cheating! but by crafty play). Though the sense of "to euchre" has broadened to include deceitful wiles, it is in no way a simple synonym of "to cheat" - it is used to mean "to cheat a person or entity out of an expected win" or "to pull the rug out from under a person". It doesn't substitute for "cheat" in these uses: I cheated on the test. I cheated the till. I cheated on my spouse. but "Jacob euchred Esau" = Jacob cheated Esau out of his birthright" would be consistent with the usual use of the verb.

  183. Kinda callous putting out a puzzle with so many ways to say “fired” in the same week when so many people have lost their jobs due to economic downturn or virus fears. Seriously, what were you thinking? It’s great you all still have a gig, but maybe some of us were hoping the puzzle could help us not think about what we were going to do to pay the rent this month (never mind my NY Times subscription), even for an hour or two.

  184. @Mike Good luck in this troubled time, and stay safe.

  185. Good stuff. Wasn’t able to savor it as on a typical Sunday (provisioning, not hoarding, and helping college sons get their things home), but I enjoyed the diversion, a rich, layered puzzle, in what time I had. I will hope to be hitting the archives in these next weeks. Keep the recommendations coming and stay safe and healthy, all.

  186. Can I pose a generic question that has nothing to do with this puzzle? What is wrong with me? I totally do not understand the draw of timing puzzle completion. Like a good book that ends too soon, I feel somewhat lost when the grid is filled in, and no longer have a sense of purpose. What am I to do now? Since I only work the Sunday puzzle, I am left with a full week to ponder the meaning of life. Is there help for me?

  187. @Jane Drazek Yes, there is help, a lot of it. Do a puzzle every day and some days do more than one. Do different types of puzzles like the Spelling Bee, any of the British cryptics, and the WSJ Friday contest puzzle. All of these have blogs if you really want to get into the weeds. And ignore the silly timer if you do NYT crosswords on line. Better yet, print them out and use a pencil.

  188. @Tony S Thanks got the help, Tony. I am a Luddite and can only do the puzzle with a pencil on paper, and carry it with me to savor as long as I can. I also read read books and never time myself.

  189. @Tony S Thanks for the help, Tony. I am a Luddite and only do the puzzle with a pencil on paper, and carry it with me to savor as long as I can. I also read read books and never time myself.

  190. Similar to another reader, here’s a general question. I’m on the west coast. Most Sunday evenings my stat on completion for the puzzle doesn’t post. As a result l don’t get the lovely reward of seeing my solve time inch downward week by week. Is there a cutoff time for this data to post? For other days of the week this is not an issue. Thanks.

  191. Upon looking for A47 the “two-time best actor, 1954 and 1972” answer at the Academy Awards website I noticed the award didn’t’ go to BRANDON. I noticed his Wikipedia page says he did, but not the Academy website. What is going on here?

  192. Worst puzzle ever

  193. (In response to a comment from a friend on The Other Blog): It will interest you -- and presumably many others also -- to know that one of the Wills (I don't know which one) changed my clue for SO NERVOUS NO SERVICE. He made it much better and much more contemporary, but I never would have thought of that clue myself. As someone who doesn't carry a cell phone (and really, really doesn't want to), I never made a connection of NO SERVICE to cellphone service. My clue was about being stranded at a hotel during a hotel strike. I was thinking: no food, no drinks, no clean sheets or towels, pool and spa perhaps closed. Which sounds much worse to me than having to sit in the park without the damn phone ringing -- probably a robot call anyway. We all have different priorities. But this is a better clue.

  194. Thank you for this, Nancy. Loved your puzzle! And the “Inside Baseball” information!

  195. **S P E L L I N G B E E H I N T S** 35 words,151 points, 2 pangrams (1 perfect)

  196. The most obscure word, the Mex. tortilla, looked familiar, Sure enough, it's Spanish for a musical instrument you play sideways, or a Champagne glass.

  197. @Kevin - I was stuck on exactly that.

  198. @Kevin Davis The Mexican dish wasn't nearly as obscure as the archaic legalese for a kerfuffle or the never ever used adjective for a Greek club. I'm VERY impressed that you got those. Thank you. And thank you @Doug for your grid and 1st two.

  199. SPELLING BEE GRID F A L R T U Y WORDS: 35, POINTS: 151, PANGRAMS: 2 (1 Perfect) First character frequency: A x 5 F x 23 R x 3 T x 4 Word length frequency: 4L: 14 5L: 8 6L: 9 7L: 3 8L: 1 Grid: 4 5 6 7 8 TOT A: 1 - 2 1 1 5 F: 9 7 6 1 - 23 R: 2 - 1 - - 3 T: 2 1 - 1 - 4 TOT:14 8 9 3 1 35 Two letter list: AF-2 AL-1 AR-2 FA-8 FL-7 FR-3 FU-5 RA-1 RU-2 TA-1 TR-1 TU-2

  200. @Doug, @Kevin QBWGLAMACTH (BTB) Queen Bee with grid, list and meat and cheese tortilla hint (back to bed). Thanks!

  201. @Puzzlemucker Just the hint I needed for QB! Thanks!

  202. @Doug Do others have the experience of quickly realizing when there is going to be one letter that will really dominate the list, like F today? It has become somewhat of an at-first-glance thing for me.

  203. Yup, up half the night, as @Nancy predicted. Dinner for Blue Man Group? Teal mime meal time. ( A lot harder if the root spelling has to vary, but I need to get more sleep. )

  204. What does "ready, set ... get slow" have to do with spoonerisms?

  205. “Ready, set... Let’s go!”