This puzzle, by John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins, puzzled the hell out of me. I couldn't figure out the theme for the longest time. I never see the titles of the puzzles, and maybe that would have helped this time. I kept thinking it was just adding long e plural sounds (-IES, -EES) to phrases. Like: COUNT FAIRIES. So, I thought, what the hell is counting fairs? Or: SMART PANTIES. Is smart pants a thing? I really didn't get it. Finally, around GRAVE TRAINEES, the penny dropped. It's moving the long e sound from the first word to the second. So county fair, smarty pants, gravy trains. Pretty sneaky.
TWEET BIRDIES sounds like the Russian-elected Twitter-in-chief boasting about his golf scores on social media while American children die of disease and thirst in Puerto Rico.
The MIT Sloan School of Management is MIT's business school, so Sloan grads are MBAs.
"Office restoration" got me. I kept thinking about redecorating. It's POWER NAP.
The "New Left org." SDS is Students for Democratic Society. Tom Hayden was president and perhaps most famous member. The history of this group is interesting, especially how some of its supposedly progressive members were so militantly anti-feminist.
EARLS Court is a district in London. Princess Diana lived there before marrying Charles. The famed Troubadour coffee house is also there.
This puzzle says that a chickadee is an example of a TOMTIT, but in fact a chickadee is genus Poecile and a tomtit is genus Petroica. Take it away, Wikipedia:
Emigrants to New Zealand presumably identified some of the superficially similar birds of the genus Petroica of the family Petroicidae, the Australian robins, as members of the tit family, giving them the title tomtit, although, in fact, they are not related.A "have-not" is a NEEDER? Come on.
This is the one no one will know: TUYERES are the name for nozzles in blast furnaces. And never in a NYT puzzle before.
Hey, it's UGLI again! This time noting that it is a hybrid fruit, of grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. A.k.a. tangelo.
I wanted to put *ZOOM IN ON for BORE IN ON ("get closer to"). But I didn't, because Z doesn't fit anywhere.
New word: myrmeke, a giant ANT. Even knowing about myrmidons, this eluded me for a while.
Sunshine Biscuits came up on August 29, as making Hi-Ho crackers. This time it claims they make CHEEZ-ITs (manufactured by Kellogg through its Sunshine Biscuits division).
I call foul: "Fixes, as a bath area" is a pretty tortuous way to get to RETILES. You don't tile a bath, but you do tile the room it's in. Ugh.
I didn't know Kofi ATTA Annan's middle name.
POTSY is another name for hopscotch? Well, I'll be. I grew up in Utica, and I've never heard anyone use the phrase "steamed hams" for hamburgers, either.
Vague and clever clues: "yap" is KISSER, as in "I'll punch you right in yer..." "Drawn" is EVEN STEVEN. "Haymaker?" is BALER. "Routine problem, for short" is OCD. "Ones holding down things" is EIDERS.
And that's all SHE wrote.