## Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE" (7D: One, two and three ... or this puzzle's title) - theme answers involve food

I found this puzzle really clunky, themewise. Nosowsky puzzles are usually a blast, but I still can't figure out the organizing principle of this puzzle. First, the theme answers:

• 17A: One ... (tenderloin steak)
• 41A: Two ... (eggs sunny-side up)
• 65A: Three ... (peaches and cream)

Now, am I supposed to believe that someone would actually order this for breakfast? If so, the only part I buy is the two eggs part. Maybe the steak. But not only have I not seen PEACHES AND CREAM on a menu ... that I can remember ... ever, I don't believe you would order "three" PEACHES AND CREAM. You would order PEACHES AND CREAM and you'd get the number of peaches that came with it. Or are "One," "Two," and "Three" supposed to be the numbers of breakfast specials? If so, then you would not have a LOT ON [your] PLATE. You would have a lot on your PLATES. Do really accomplished constructors get away with ragged puzzles like this because of their established reputation?

The rest of the grid was fine, though there was nothing truly amazing, and at least one clue that seemed really badly written. 13D: Tut's kin? (tsks) is bad on a couple of levels, actually. First, a plural? Really? Use it in a sentence. I thought not. Second, "Tut" is singular in the clue, where TSKS (as we've established) is plural. Now I know that "kin" can imply many folks, but still, that's horrible incongruity, especially in a Tuesday puzzle, where I don't expect loopy, intentionally misdirective cluing. My first answer here was TSAR because I had the TS- (obviously) and thought Tut was the King, hence autocrat, hence TSAR. Didn't know 22A: Brenner Pass locale (Alps) - a clue which also does not seem as if its answer would be plural - so my NE corner has lots of scratch marks. Another bad clue (answer, actually), IMOO, was 43D: High school course, for short (Driver Ed.) - I would never ever ever say DRIVER. I would say DRIVER'S. I can't be the only one.

9A: Visual movement popularized in the 1960s (Op art) has gone from being an unknown to being a gimme for me in just the past few months, but there are a number of other clues in the puzzle that either threw me or surprised me (or might have thrown others). And they are:

• 23A: Many a TV clip (promo) - true enough, but it's not the first word that leaps to mind. I like the word, but it's weird, and nothing but "TV" does anything to clue you in that it's an abbreviation.
• 30A: Headed out (went) - you are thinking "what? That was easy." And it was, except I had LEFT, both because the "E" and "T" were right, and because the "F" made the long Down answer at 7D look like it would read A LOT OF ..., which seemed right, phrasing-wise.
• 32A: Averse (loath) - many people misspell this word by putting an "E" on the end.
• 45A: W.W. I German admiral (Spee) - another answer I learned from doing crosswords.
• 46A: Rafael's wrap (serape) - I've had my fill of SERAPES for this month (see Saturday's puzzle).
• 56A: Iolani Palace locale (Oahu) - final "U" made it easy, but I've never heard of said "Palace."
• 69A: Langston Hughes poem ("I Too") - literary embarrassments continue, as I've never heard of this poem (though you'll be happy to know that I have heard of Langston Hughes).
• 11D: 1 1/2 rotation leap (axel) - first, this clue got All Screwed Up in AcrossLite, where the slash showed up as a picture of an apple (!?) on screen, and didn't show up at all in my printed out version, where the clue looked like this: [1 12 rotation leap]. Second, I made the stupid AXLE / AXEL mistake. Yet again.
• 26D: Half of an old comedy duo (Ollie) - Technically, shouldn't this be HARDY? I got OLLIE easy, but when I tried to think of his partner, all I could think of were KUKLA and FRAN.
• 37D: Immigrant from Japan (Issei) - second generation = Nisei. Third generation = Sansei. Good words to know.
• 57D: Sleek, in auto talk (aero) - would you really just call a car "AERO?" Weird.
• 63D: Thomas who wrote "The Magic Mountain" (Mann) - knew it. Never read it. I prefer Aimee MANN. Or maybe Manfred.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld

wendy

I knew it was Trouble with a capital T when I saw Manny Nosowsky on a Tuesday. Agree with all your points and then some. If all that grub ended up on one's single plate, it would be a sloppy mess to rival the sloppy construction.

Plus I generally am not a fan of all the exclamations and colloquial expressions and this one had a plethora of those. Enough with the OH GEE and the DANG. And I don't ever want to see LEMME again, if you don't mind. I felt like firing up the Beverly Hillbillies.

My amusing error for the day was Allie for OLLIE. Not comprehending what was wanted for 'i completer', I had Dat and even though I thought "old comedy duo" was an odd characterization of Kate and Allie, I put it down anyway.

My 11 D was screwed up too in the print version; there was some sort of symbol between the 1 and 2 of the half.

I'm LOATH to saying I didn't enjoy the puzzle though; despite its construction oddities, I felt good to get through it.

Whitey's mom

But if you loathe someone it does have an "e" on the end perhaps leading to general worldwide incorrect spelling. Well, I guess not world wide. Not everyone speaks English.

Anonymous

I don't quite get 64-down. Slate, e.g., for short. And the answer is EMAG ? Obviously I'm missing something! :)

Blue

In my AcrossLite version of the puzzle the slash in the 1/2 showed up as the euro sign (€). I thought of axel because of the "rotation leap" part of the clue but the euro sign threw me.
My other answer that I really hate and don't want to see again is 64D: Slate, e.g., for short (emag). When was the last time (if ever) that you heard Slate being referred to as an emag?

Karen

Loath/loathe is sort of like bath/bathe, different parts of speech. In this case, loath is the adj, and with the silent e it is the verb.

This was one of my slower times for a Tuesday, and I agree that the theme was perplexing.

Blue

Anonymous,
Emag is short for "electronic magazine." You've never heard of it because no one ever uses that term.

Anonymous

The complaints about the clue answers are quite valid. In particular, the common term for a magazine published over the web is ezine, not emag.

I don't think the theme clues are about breakfast, they are just about food in general. Interestingly enough, at home I frequently have fruit with cream for dessert. If its a large fruit, I would specify how many I want - two bananas, say. In the past, I have at times asked for "two peaches" and cream. (Three would be way too much in one dish.) You wouldn't say it this way in a restaurant, but you could say at home "three peaches" and cream. At any rate, the problem with the clue is this: you don't have peaches and cream on a plate. Plates are shallow and the cream would spill out. You have fruit and cream in a dish. Therefore, the answer to 65A does not go with the answer to 7D.

Mr. Shortz should know better than to publish such a bad puzzle on a Tuesday.

easl

I agree with all the comments, so far. However, I would like to add something for Rex. a) I don't think even you would say "the Brenner Pass is located in the Alp. The mountain range is always refered to in plural form. b) I am amazed that you didn't think of Stan (Laurel), Oliver Hardy's partner.

Blue

Ezine is better than emag but aren't they usually just called "zines" without the e?

Orange

And how many people actually feel the need to use a noun to describe slate.com and salon.com? I just call 'em Slate and Salon.

Add breath and breathe to the oft-confused th/the word list.

Rex, I knew ITOO right away...because I've learned it from crosswords. Less crossword-famous than OMOO, but with just as many vowels!

I liked the [Tut's kin] clue. How many people are included in my kin? All my relatives, not just one of them at a time (though it works for singular too).

Jim in Chicago

I'm with Rex in my dislike of this puzzle. Indeed, when I finished it I said to myself "I can hardly wait to read the blog, I'll be Rex hated this one". The theme makes no sense. Two eggs is fine, and I'll give in on the tenderloin, although I don't think that you'd usually see such an expensive cut of meat used for a breakfast steak, but three peaches and cream? Not only is that a lot of peaches, but it doesn't match with the other two in any way. Very bad. I actually checked to be sure I had the Times and not the Tribune. I've seen EMAG used before, so I'll give the author that one. This puzzle took me far longer than it should have, just because there were so many "no, it can't be" answers that I left blank hoping for something better. This is the least appealing puzzle I've seen since I started doing the Times regularly, hands down.

Anonymous

Intresting... just because of the eggs, everyone asumes it's breakfast. And... isn't 'dish' generic?
I'd have my peaches 'n cream in a bowl.

karmasartre

Rex, re. OLLIE, I think you're right in two ways. The duo was "Laurel and Hardy" (not Stan and Ollie). And, the custom is, if memory serves, that the answer should be a last name or a full name unless the clue indicates a first name.

I did the puzzle late last night, and have been trying to salvage the theme in my mind, but no can do.

Is a buck-going-for DOE an it or a she?

Dan

I came here just to complain about this puzzle and I see that everyone has beaten me to the punch. Way hard for Tuesday and not in a good way.

Jim in Chicago

OK - so its not breakfast, necessarily. Given the combination of steak, eggs, and peaches/cream, the only meal this could possibly be is "dog's dinner", which matches my feeling about the puzzle. Maybe "dog's dinner" IS the theme!?!?

Orange

Interesting: So far at the NYT forum, all comments about Manny's puzzle have been raves.

Hobbyist

Easy but dull as I learned nothing new or interesting.Just filled in the blanks.

Anonymous

Never heard so much bitching over such an easy puzzle. The fact that one has never heard of something doesn't make it hard or unfair. When one starts with xwords one will have a hard time often, but there are many words/defintions that recur and over time one recognizes them. If you want to see hard puzzles, see the London Times. Oh, but that's in a foreign language.

I agree with Jim in Chi - the theme doen't necessarily imply any one meal: just that if you had them all one one plate it would be a lot.

Gabby

As a novice constructor with several rejections from Will (but one published and one to come soon), I wondered how this puzzle was accepted. Will stresses consistency, and themes that "grab" him. I didn't think this puzzle was consistent or very interesting. But that is just my opinion as a solver and wannabe constructor.

Rex Parker

Anon 1:55

By your logic, the theme answers could have involved an engine block, a hamster, and a pound of suet - that too would be a lot to have on one plate.

You sound like you might be happier commenting at the NYT Forum. Or maybe that's where you came from.

rp

Fergus

Rex, I always like your snarky ripostes to crass interlopers ... .

The Brits spell LOATH as Loth, which is unusual since they tend to more letters than Americans.

There must be something more to the One, Two, Three in the theme, but I have yet to figure it out. I have trouble believing that the plate and numbers, seemingly so clumsily coordinated, don't have some clever connection, which remains unrevealed.

I actually thought this was a pretty good puzzle, and rather an usually recondite product for a Tuesday

Anonymous

I can assume only that the clues One, Two, and Three, meant "Entry one of the theme, "Entry two of the theme," etc., and not the number of food items in question. Still, a punt no matter how you look at it.

I too at first was surprised at the lack of agreement between the clue "Tut's kin" (seemingly singular) and the answer "Tsks" (plural). Turns out though that "kin" can be either. Might not have felt so weird had the answer been "Egyptians."

Regardless, yes, a clunky puzzle.

Wendy

Har, har ... I was wanting Tut's kin to have an Egyptian-associated response too. And yes, Fergus, Rex's snarky ripostes can sure pump a load of endorphins into the system during an otherwise stressful day, as it did just now!

profphil

I believe loathe with an "e" is an acceptable variant for loath as in averse to.

Fergus

Inching across the summit of Brenner Pass was one of the many highlights of a fantastic train trip from Munich to Venice. The Bavarian Alps, Austria and down through the Dolomites. Probably the most exciting and scenic railway journey I've ever taken, though Barcelona to Madrid was pretty good, too.

Still haven't come up with any better theme interpretation.

Anonymous

Would "Tuts' kin" or "Tuts's kin" have been better?

seahedges

Though from time to time I've read Rex's blog--since discovering his mention of it at the Today's Puzzle forum--until today I've never read the comments:

"Jim in Chicago ha detto . . . ,
"Orange ha detto . . . ,
"anonymous ha detto . . . ."

Funny, I''m thinking: never noticed any trace of Italophilia in Rex Parker. Why does he use "ha detto" instead of "said?" Will Johnston is fond of Italian, I believe, but Rex?

Finally I reach the last post, then find:

"Lascia il tuo commento"

How charming, how amusing, how clever of our host to have tweaked the settings to run specific text in the putative language of the reader. So when I registered and gave my resident address as Italy, presto! How chic.

SEA, Asolo

Alex

I also am in the "not a fan of the theme camp."

Also, I made a big jump guess and for some reason it really blocked me for a while.

On the peaches theme clue I had the

P--C--S....

I immediately went to three PIECES S....

Wanted bacon or toast in there so jumped to "three" PIECES SOURDOUGH. Clunky as all heck, and I quickly had enough downs to know that SOURDOUGH was wrong (though the -AM ending had me looking for some form of HAM or SPAM) but it took me forever to dump pieces.

OP ART has also become a gimme for me because of the puzzle but I still have no idea what it actually is. So much for it being educational to learn new words.

Orange

Profphil, do you have any sort of reference supporting that? I've never seen "loathe" held to be correct as an adjective. If you've found a dictionary that accepts it, though, I'd love to see it. (I'm curious, not cranky.)

karmasartre

Perhaps just a list of what's on the plate, in numeric order:

one... being crossword clue-ese for 1)

1) TENDERLOIN STEAK
2) EGGSSUNNYSIDEUP
3) PEACHESANDCREAM

Yep, that's alot on a plate.

Hey, I'm trying!

green mantis

Dolomite! What a movie. Also recommend Dolomite 2, The Human Tornado.

Peaches and cream was the first "theme" answer I got, which made it really hard to get the others. That's a bad sign--if one of your clues does nothing to elucidate a theme; if, in fact, it throws the solver in a funky direction, you've got a problem. After peaches and cream, I wanted Kinds of Complexions or something. Then at "tender..." I for some reason wanted Gertrude Stein's book of poetry, Tender Buttons, which then made me remember what she said about Oakland, which made me reflect that as to this puzzle's theme, there is no "there" there. Dolomite!

karmasartre

What's GOOD about the theme is that I keep returning to the blog/comments to see if there are additional thoughts on deciphering it....and, when I scroll to the "n comments", I get to see yesterday's Hamlet poster. I love the strong blue, the fact that if I squint I get a map of South America, the artwork, the style, and the font with its cross-T. Also, if you look at the blue shape in the SE, you see a man's head looking up toward the NW: thin nose, bushy hair, weird beard.

Dan

"Never heard so much bitching over such an easy puzzle."

Huh, I'm surprised others found it easy. I usually do Tuesdays in 5 or 6 minutes, and for a while I wasn't sure I would finish this at all.

"I've never seen "loathe" held to be correct as an adjective."

Me neither.

jae

Ditto! (but not in a Rush Limbaugh way).

Michael

I asked my mom to solve this thinking it was on old english meal. This what she said.

I did the puzzle. I think the theme is the answer "a lot on ones plate"? And
then it was just a steak, 2 eggs and 3 peaches and cream. That's all I got
out of it. It was weird. Maybe people are putting a lot more into than my
feeble brain can think of.

I think she is right it is just the obvious.

Paulo

I just had peaches and cream corn for supper last night. It looks like regular corn with pale kernels scattered around the cob, and is a sweet variety. Maybe it is not available outside Western Canada?
One cob would be a meal for me, two a challenge and three with one steak and two eggs would definitely be a lot on my plate!

As I've pondered this one (and perhaps we should thank Manny and Will for a Tuesday theme that has spurred so much thought and discussion), I think the confusion lies in the assumption that this is a breakfast meal, starting from the top (as most solvers would) with the steak and eggs, a traditional breakfast (that is, if you are looking for your day's allowance of cholesterol before you start your day). Another misleading clue is the "one" steak and "two" eggs, which are the typical amounts of these on a plate.

I'm thinking now the numbers are just generic clues to the first, second and third items to satisfy our hungry diner's appetite.

Phil

Actually, a "Splate" is a type of tray used for serving breakfast in bed (commonly used in hotels for room service). The answer is actually "A lot on one splate" and means that this is a large order. I particularly liked the clue "Three..." for Peaches and Cream. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard. That was one of the funniest clues I've ever seen. ........................ JUST KIDDING

Waxy in Montreal

From 6 weeks on, it was surprising to me that very little comment on 45A., W.W. I German Admiral (SPEE). Actually, Admiral von Spee is only famous enough to be a NYT Crossword entry because of the W.W. II warship named after him, the Graf Spee.

Growing up in the shadow of the Second World War, everyone knew of Britain's first great victory of the war, that being the containment of the Graf Spee in Montevideo (Uraguay) harbo(u)r by the Brits to the point where the Graf Spee's captain had the ship scuttled in Dec. 1939.

Lots in Wikepedia on this heroic (if you're British-born like me) event.

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