TUESDAY, Apr. 29, 2008 - Will Nediger (PUNISHING ROD)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: A to Z - five theme answers begin with "A" and end with "Z"

I could not finish this puzzle. The SE corner was a complete and utter disaster. I have not hated a puzzle like I hated this one in a good, long while. It was like it was giving me the finger the whole time I was doing it. Having @#$#@ass lying steroid-using* loser ALEX RODRIGUEZ down the middle of my puzzle was just the icing on the cake. To keep vitriol to a minimum today, I'm actually not going to say much. I don't think the puzzle is worth it. I just want to know who test-solved this thing and thought "Yeah, this feels like Tuesday"? If FERULE (47D: Punishing rod) is the price of executing your precious theme, then your precious theme is not worth executing. In fact, as a metaphorical FERULE to you ... no pictures. Wait, better: only pictures that have NOTHING to do with the puzzle. Perfect.

Now, here's the thing about my failure. There's often stuff on Tuesdays that I don't know. I'm not averse to not knowing things. Happens every day. But there were four things I didn't know in one tiny corner of the puzzle, one of which (FERULE) doesn't belong on any puzzle save Saturday. Apparently SYZYGY (46D: Alignment of the sun, earth and moon, e.g.) is a word known by many - not me. I inferred it from some kind of combination of SYNERGY and ZYZZYVA. I also inferred that the NCO in question was SFC (sergeant first class - 46A: Certain NCO), even though that's Never the NCO in question - only three instances in the entire cruciverb.com database. And still, after all this, I'm alive ... notice how all the problems are in the FERULE region. And that's where I died, not so much because of FERULE, which I was never going to get, but because I didn't know how to spell SOYUZ. I had SOYEZ, like ... I don't know SUEZ? Then thought SOYAZ ... no. And it took me a while even to look at that letter. Initially I wanted APOLLOSEVEN down there, not having been old enough to remember APOLLO SOYUZ. Anyway, I call foul. This is saying nothing of all the other crap that had to get into this puzzle to make the "theme" work. MCGUIRE (43A: New Jersey's _____ Air Force Base)? LAGRANGE (39D: Georgia city or college)? Why not just pick some random names out of an atlas? Oh, and as for the cluing of MCGUIRE. You've already got one beefed-up, steroid-addled* homerun hitter in the puzzle. Why not go for two? Oh, dang, the spelling's wrong (disgraced slugger Mark MCGWIRE spells his name ... like that). Sorry if I'm annoying Yankees fans today. It's really just misplaced frustration over my own puzzling incompetence, I know. And I know some of you think "There's no proof A-Rod did steroids." Yes ... just like there's no proof that Roger Clemens slept with a fifteen-year-old country singer (though, to be fair, Clemens did that ... or didn't do it ... when he was on the Red Sox). Everybody's Innocent! (I love the last line of this article on the subject)

After yesterday's completely unnecessary puzzle explanation in the puzzle header, today we get a "theme" that could have used an explanation (though after a few moments I figured it out).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Semiautobiographical Bob Fosse film ("All That Jazz")
  • 38A: A.L. M.V.P. in 2003, 2005 and 2007 (Alex Rodriguez)
  • 60A: 1970s joint U.S./Soviet space project (Apollo Soyuz)
  • 12D: Namesake of a branch of Judaism (Ashkenaz)
  • 38D: The Rock (Alcatraz)

Straight to the wrap-up:

  • 35D: Blood fluids (serums) - I'm no genius, and I ain't never heard of no FERULE or even SYZYGY, but I know that the plural for SERUM is SERA.
  • 1D: Daisy developed by Luther Burbank (shasta) - what the hell does this even mean??? Oh, you mean an actual daisy, like a flower. I was thinking it was a rifle or something ... apparently the SHASTA daisy is "one of America's most beloved garden flowers." To me, it is a mountain in California. And a brand of soda pop (bygone?).
  • 1A: No stranger to the slopes (ski bum) - good. I was really hesitant to put it in, because it seemed pretty fancy for a Tuesday. Little did I know...
  • 11A: Sporty auto, for short (Jag) - had REO. Not sure what I would have done without little old GHI (13D: 4, on a keypad).
  • 45A: Bogey beater (par) - normally alliterative little clues for easy answers get on my nerves, but today ... I kinda like this little guy.
  • 11D: Supporter of the House of Stuart (Jacobite) - when I got this (and I knew this cold) I thought "uh oh, something's wrong. That's not a Tuesday answer, especially not when it's sitting next to ASHKENAZ..."
  • 22A: Creature from the forest moon of Endor (Ewok) - took me a few seconds, as I thought first of the Witches of Endor and then of Orcs and Ents and then efts, which are salamanders ... then, finally, "Return of the Jedi."
  • 37A: Highlander's textile pattern (tartan) - very Very nice to cross this with JACOBITE.
  • 50A: Arizona birthplace of Cesar Chavez (Yuma) - Never saw the movie "3:10 to Yuma," but the Elmore Leonard short story on which it's based is Fantastic.
  • 58A: Book after II Chronicles (Ezra) - did I mention I had ENOS here for a while. Oh yeah ... I told you the SE was a train wreck.
  • 6D: Ancient land along the Dead Sea (Moab) - staying with Biblical Ignorance for the moment ... I know this, I just ... temporarily forgot it. Needed crosses.
  • 8D: Resident of Japan's "second city" (Osakan) - known for their great improv comedy.
  • 18D: Modern dance music originating in Detroit (techno) - that's a pretty cool answer. Detroit gets very little love these days, in the puzzle or otherwise.
  • 25D: Only son of Czar Nicholas II (Alexei) - and ALEX RODRIGUEZ? Again, I cry foul. I also had ALEX IV here at first ...
  • 44D: It was divided by the Iron Curtain (Europe) - you need to know this in order to understand the significance of the nickname of one of the greatest football defenses of all time - the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers' "Steel Curtain."
  • 61D: Eucharist vessel (pyx) - very cute word. I know "cute" doesn't normally go with "Eucharist," but there it is.
  • 57D: Hitler : Germany :: _____ : Japan (Tojo) - this name will always, in my head, be spoken derisively by Hank Hill's father, Cotton. Here he is in the episode "Shins of the Father," explaining the war injury that left him about four feet tall:
I was fourteen, just a little older than Bobby. But I knew Uncle Sam needed me, so I lied and signed up. We had beat the Nazzys in Italy, and they shipped me to the Pacific theater. A Tojo torpedo sent our troop's ship to the bottom. I could only save three of my buddies, Fatty, Stinky, and Brooklyn. They were kind of like you fellas, only one of them was from Brooklyn. Out of the sun came a Tojo Zero and put fifty bullets in my back. The blood attracted sharks. I had to give 'em Fatty. Then things took a turn for the worse. I made it to an island, but it was full of Tojos! They were spitting on the U.S. flag! So I rushed 'em, but it was a trap. They opened fire and blew my shins off. Last thing I remember, I beat 'em all to death with a big piece of Fatty. I woke up in a field hospital, and they were sewing my feet to my knees.

This needs to be in his voice for you to fully appreciate its greatness. Cotton is one of the greatest characters on TV in the past two decades. I enjoy thinking about him more than I enjoy recalling the details of this puzzle, which is now, thank god, behind me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*I was never serious about the steroids. When I talk Red Sox / Yankees, I often just rant (unlike when I talk puzzles, when even my most critical comments are actually carefully considered). Fans of both teams would, I think, recognize hyperbolic trash talk when they see it. A-Rod is way way beefier than he used to be even a decade ago, and I believe Canseco that he introduced A-Rod to a known steroid dealer ... and yet, as one of my smarter readers just politely pointed out:

"[...] I would argue there are many legitimate reasons not to like him, but there's not much credible evidence to suggest he had anything to do with steroids. In fact, the only "substantiated" claim came from Canseco's book, who named a trainer known as "Max". "Max" has subsequently issued a statement claiming responsibility for much of what Canseco claims about him (much of it not too flattering) but absolutely, unreservedly laughs off the notion of A Rod and steroids. There are few to none of the tell tale signs associated with steroids (a larger head, a much larger physique than otherwise [could] be readily attributable to exercise and filling out, his largest output of home runs in the season following MLB's "crackdown" on steroids. etc.) There are so many reasons not to like him as a ballplayer, and perhaps as a person. But even his bitterest enemies don't doubt he in fact works like a demon and none take steroids allegations very seriously.

As for his swiping at Arroyo in the 2004 ALCS, however, there can be no excuse..."


roro 8:40 AM  

I believe I might have what they call a 'man crush' on Hank Hill.

Victor in Rochester 8:43 AM  

Funny, I loved it. A puzzle with seven Z's! I never, ever, find the puzzle easier than Rex does, but today found this to be an ordinary (relatively easy) Tuesday. Knew McGuire, as that's where many of us Viet Nam era vets mustered out of the Air Force when our tours were over. Loved that syzygy was squeezed in there--great word for hangman!

todd 8:56 AM  

I'm an Indians fan, and the first word I got last night was Alex Rodriquez, after the Indians just lost two in a row to the Yankees, I just spent the rest of the puzzle annoyed as well, at least the Indians hit him last night. I got ApolloSoyuz right away, but the SE corner was still a complete train-wreck, I had no shot at SYZYGY or FERULE two words I have NEVER heard of.

mexicangirl 9:09 AM  

Even though this puzzle has plenty of not-Tuesday answers, I hadn't much trouble with it. I did like all the Z's as well as more J's than usual. Is it OK to have fun even with annoying puzzles? I'm probably more used to leave a number of blank squares than most of you guys. I can't even start to attempt to know what sizygy mean! Still, a lot of fun.

PuzzleGirl 9:12 AM  

I can't tell you how happy I am that Rex couldn't finish this puzzle. I gave up at the 15 minute mark, completely disgusted. But now that I know I'm not alone, I can pick up the pieces of my shattered life and move on.

I remember ten years ago or so my sister asked me if I knew which movie had won the Best Movie Oscar and, without hesitation, I guessed "The Rock?" Great flick.

RuPaul is a fun entry. Too bad it's in this yucky puzzle.

jannieb 9:12 AM  

Never even realized this puzzle had a theme - unless it was how many Scrabbly letters one constructor could get in on a Tuesday. Shasta went right in, only because I knew Gerbera wouldn't fit. (Only two types of daisies i'd ever heard of.) I'd never heard of SFC or the SE would have fallen sooner. I dragged ferule from some dark recess. Though I agree it was challenging for a Tuesday, I never needed to google and had no real problems.

Bill D 9:14 AM  

Oops! I did think this was not a Tuesday puzzle but had nowhere near the trouble Rex did. Rex has said that Tuesdays are often his least favorites, and I guess we have another.

I did not see a theme until I got here, but I did notice a lot of ZZZs. I did get a letter wrong - 46A was the last thing I filled in, and I was switching between "PFC" and "SPC" (Specialist) in my head. I liked PFC for the F, as I knew the word FERRULE as the piece of metal that holds the bristles to a paintbrush handle, but that has a double-R; I was also not "CRAZED" about a PFC being an NCO. It also left PYZYGY, which really looked wrong but was starting to look better all the time with PYX already in the puzzle. [Is pyx even correct? I've found no definition of it which even remotely indicates it might be a plural for pick or pick-ax - was that what the clue was driving at?] So I went with SPC, and got it half right. Is SFC even an abbr for a rank? What service (Marines?) has a Sergeant First Class?

Across theme clues came readily to me, a diehard Yankee and astro/cosmo-naut fan. Also, being from NJ, MCGUIRE AFB was a personal gimme. The top half of the puzzle was normal enough, save for ASHKENAZ, not a Tuesday word but easy enough off crosses, but the bottom could have turned into a ROUT, with PERULE, PYX and SERUMS all over the place. Also, isn't leaving a blank in a song/film/book title/lyric the clue of last resort? There isn't a better clue for WALRUS than a blank in "I Am The?" Had the answer been "IAMTHE" then "__ Walrus" would have been okay, but the other way around? Lame.

Lost in the problems I thought were some cool unusual answers: SKI BUM, AIR DRY, KALKAN (great break from ALPO!), RETINA & RUPAUL (really, how great is that!) to name a few. Unfortunately, I thought the problems outweighed the positives, and a few suspect crosses made it more of a Wednesday/Thursday than a Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

More proof that my mind works on opposite principles from Rex's. I found this ordinary for a Tuesday, finished in an average time for me. But as usual, I never even noticed the theme in my myopia.

I guess I've forgotten either my user name or my password. Anyway, that this post may be found acceptable is the dearest wish of

Your non-anonymous servant,
Wendy Laubach

Peter 9:20 AM  

Wow, I went to bed last night thinking this was one of the better early in the week puzzles that I had seen this year. Aside from the SFC / FERULE combo (and maybe KALKAN, but I'll forgive it for the double Ks), I had little problem working this one out in a little over ten minutes, which is average for myself on a Tuesday.

The theme was good, but I thought the fill pushed it over the top. RUPAUL, SYZYGY, JINGLE, and LAGRANGE (probably would have been better clued as the ZZ Top song, you may not know it off hand, but I almost guarantee you've heard it before) were just some of the highlights.

Take it easy!

wade 9:20 AM  

My favorite Hank Hill moment (and one that appalls my foreign wife) is when Hank, elated that Bobby is finally showing signs of being normal (by taking an interest in shooting), takes Bobby to the Megalo-Mart and asks the counter guy, "Excuse me. Where are your children's guns?"

The puzzle sucked. I'm looking at 13:58 on the timer and six blank squares in the SE. It would have been only five if I'd picked up on the A-Z theme. How the hell did SFC pass muster? FERULE and SYZYGY are at least words (at least I assume they are.) Rex should have posted just a flag flying at half-mast for today's entry.

Pete M 9:27 AM  

I've heard of a FERRULE, which is the cap on the end of a pool cue to which the tip is attached; but FERULE? Nope. Except for the SYZYGY/FERULE/SFC section, I thought the puzzle was fine. Never heard of ASHKENAZ, but the crossings there were all easy.

@Rex: Rule #1 - Never apologize to Yankees fans. :)

- Pete M

Orange 9:27 AM  

You know what's really funny? I beat my average Tuesday NYT solving time by 12 seconds, so it was a smidge easier than most Tuesdays for me. *ducking*

Rex Parker 9:30 AM  

Full disclosure: Orange sent me this message last night:

"3:05 for me, so I'd call it a Wednesday. Byron, 4:02--a Thursday for him. 2:24 for Howard, who should be taken out back and shot for making everyone else look so bad."

Get your stories straight, Orange.


Jim in NYC 9:38 AM  

Bill D said: Is pyx even correct? I've found no definition of it which even remotely indicates it might be a plural for pick or pick-ax - was that what the clue was driving at?] So I went with SPC, and got it half right. Is SFC even an abbr for a rank? What service (Marines?) has a Sergeant First Class?
Can anyone answer these?

I finished in average time but I do share these questions with Bill D.

Orange 9:41 AM  

Well, my mind tends to ignore the hard data and remember my better performances. (Quelle egoiste!) I'm pleased to attain sub-3:00 on a Tuesday, and the fact that I'm usually not there disappears from thought. 3:05 is where I'd like to be on typical Wednesdays, but my average is actually 3:49. (Also? Anyone who's shooting Howard should be sure to use a fast film or the action setting on a digital camera, because otherwise he'll be a blur.)

Bill from NJ 9:42 AM  

This was a an easy/ hard puzzle. I mean what else do you call a puzzle with a SYZYGY FERULE stack that I was able to get with a bunch of easy crosses in the SE and an ASHKENAZ/NEWLINE cross I was able to get with a bunch of easy downs in North Carolina? I guess it helps to be Nice Jewish Boy who lives 8 miles from MCGUIRE AFB.

A sports clue crossing a drag queen crossing a town I've actually visited?

Very schizoid. Plenty of clues that were definitely not Tuesday but clumped with a bunch of clues easy to get.

I enjoyed this delicious puzzle. I may not get much support for my feelings toward this Tuesday effort but, hey, that's what makes horse races.

Ulrich 9:44 AM  

For me, the SE was also utterly non-Tuesdayish--had to look up something and chose the punishing rod. My Xword dictionary gave me ferule, which gave me "F(irst) C(lass)" for the officer. I then had only square 46 to fill and guessed the "s" correctly.

I never got the theme until I came here--I thought it had something do do with an abundance of x's, y's, and z's.

The spread of reactions to the puzzle i.t. of perceived difficulty is really amazing.

Bill D 9:49 AM  

In the beginning of "King of the Hill", Kahn has been trying to impress upon his neighbors that he is Laotion, not Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or any other kind of Asian. My favorite Cotton Hill moment is when he looks at Kahn for the first time and says "Laotian, ain'tcha?" Kahn immediately and thereafter holds a repect for the old man, even though it was his bigotry that enabled him to correctly label Kahn.

PhillySolver 9:49 AM  
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PhillySolver 9:54 AM  

Perhaps we should all re-examine our kind thoughts about our neighbors to the North. Will Nediger is a Canadian who is also a very good Scrabble player. I think you would like him if it weren't for Tuesday puzzles. He posts that his favorite TV is The Simpson's, so how bad can he be? Oh, and the fact that he is still in College should gain him some slack. I happen to have really liked the puzzle, but it wasn't a normal Tuesday. I am beginning to think that convention is being eroded. Every day is going to have some new challenges now. We are all getting better.

I see we lost part of our favorite new phrase today. HAVE A GOAT has been truncated to HAVEAGO. One of the new words floating around is Zyxnoid which is defined as entering a random letter (preferably a Z) to complete a crossword.

I made several of the same errors as Rex and since I can't spell very well, I was happy to finally get SOYUZ, but earlier Zigged when I should have ZAGed. I also repeated an earlier error with slier/SLYER.

Rex, I just looked at the post for the last Will puzzle I could find for April 6, 2007. You did not do the write-up, but it too was full of Scrableze.

Rex Parker 9:59 AM  

My write-ups are not referenda on the goodness or decency of the constructor, and never have been. Thus whether or not I would like Will (which I'm sure is true) is utterly irrelevant.


SethG 10:02 AM  

At first I didn't catch your note about unrelated pictures, so I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what Pam Dawber reference I was missing. Yes, a woman who is very obviously Joyce DeWitt, sitting in a chair marked Joyce DeWitt, and I thought it was Pam Dawber. Apparently, I'm an idiot.

The Steel Curtain I did know--we used to trick-or-treat past L.C. Greenwood's house, but I think he usually wasn't home.

Knew SYZYGY from the Ultimate team. They have an appropriate logo and a cheer that goes something like "...Three heavenly bodies, all in a row..."

Wikipedia says Pyx is a Eucharist vessel, which is how it was clued, and SFC is in the army.

S-Y-Z-Y-G-Y Go!

Hammy 10:06 AM  

Seriously?! I thought I had overslept and woke up on Thursday.
Rex, it always makes me feel better when you struggle with the same puzzles as I do and make me laugh out loud in your blog. Joyce Dewitt, come on......
This puzzle made me batty and longing for an uzi.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Obviously, what is happening is that Rex, via this blog, is having an impact on the NYT puzzle in that the constructors, though they will never admit it, read your blog and don't want to be categorized as "easy" or have too many simple clues. They are responding to this blog through their construction. Kudos to RP, keep up the good work.

Bill D 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill D 10:11 AM  

@sethg - Thanks; my bad on PYX - it was 61D and I was reading the clue at 51D! Unfortunately, I need different glasses for reading the paper than I do for seeing the computer screen, and I was too lazy to switch while blogging this morning. Apologies to all.

Jane Doh 10:15 AM  

Today's crankiness is unjustified. This is a lovely specimen with a subtle -- yet obvious once you study the filled-in grid -- theme and sweet theme material. Somewhat challenging, but in the plus-or-minus range.

Really liked the nontheme fill (except ALEXEI crossing ALEX), too. LA GRANGE is a fave ZZ Top tune -- about the Chicken Ranch. AIR DRY is the day's tribute to carbon footprint reduction, right?

SandyB 10:19 AM  

thanks for making me laugh. I look forward to your write ups every day.

Also, I did not think I could loathe Roger Clemens any more than I already did - thanks for the update.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

SFC....Seaman First Class

Rex Parker 10:20 AM  

@jane doh

Well, I'll give you "specimen."


PhillySolver 10:21 AM  

I am sorry for my poorly worded defense of Will. I know that no one takes this personally and certainly did not think you were criticizing his persona.

I look forward to the next daily challenge and the next Scrabble fest from Mr. Nediger.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Wow Rex - good to know that you sometimes struggle - this wasn't that hard for me.
And would Cotton Hill really say "troupe's ship?" What, was he with the USO theater squad? I think he said "troop ship."
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Anonymous in Texas 10:24 AM  

I finished the puzzle in 51:01 last night which is a little slow for me on a Tuesday. Found a couple of errors after I checked the blog and agree with the Challenging for a Tuesday ranking.

My biggest complaint is the ALEX/ALEXei crossing. Doesn't seem like good puzzle protcol.

PhillySolver 10:25 AM  

From my friend Wikipedia...

Sergeant First Class (SFC) is the seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Army, just above Staff Sergeant and below Master Sergeant, and is the first grade at which a non-commissioned officer is considered a senior non-commissioned officer.

Ulrich 10:27 AM  

@phillysolver: I appreciated the scrabble bit--it explains a lot about this puzzle. Could it be that the people who had no problems with it are also experienced scrabble players? And it certainly explains syzygy--placing it must be a scrabbler's holy grail.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

For the definition of pyx and its derivation, go to


Orange 10:31 AM  

@Anonymous 10:06: It's Will Shortz's domain to choose the day a puzzle will run and to calibrate the clue difficulty. On average, he changes about half of the clues. Whether your theory is right or not, I can't speculate—but it would be Will and not the constructors doing something differently.

I would have liked tougher clues for the easy words and a placement on Thursday for this puzzle. That way, it wouldn't have mucked with people's expectations of what a Tuesday puzzle contains.

Sandy 10:34 AM  

Someone asked yesterday how it felt to have one's commentary attributed to having gotten up on the wrong side of bed, and it reminded me how frustrated I get when people assume that if Rex negatively critiques a puzzle, he's being cranky. Just because Rex critiques something, it doesn't mean he's in a bad mood or feeling particularly mean. It means He Didn't Like The Puzzle For the Reasons He States. Analysis requires saying what is problematic, what is good, saying why, engaging in a conversation about that with others who may or may not agree. It applies to everything - American Idol contestants, modern literature, politics, crosswords.

will nediger 10:36 AM  

I should mention that Rex's comments on this puzzle are exactly what I expected, and I think they're completely justified. I realized that there would be a lot of solvers who wouldn't know two or three of the SFC/SYZYGY/FERULE trifecta, so I knew the SE would be rather wicked, but I was too much in love with the word SYZYGY to feel the need to recast it. I was also rather surprised to see this on a Tuesday, since Will Shortz told me that he would probably put it in later in the week.

Crosscan 10:41 AM  

FERULE goes into my NABES file.

FE-RULE - What occurred behind the iron curtain or, a country run by a Queen.

Crosscan, kind Northern neighbor

Rex Parker 10:43 AM  

And see ... poof, like magic, Will Nediger is my new hero.

His humility and generosity compels me to admit that the tone of my first paragraph was too harsh, in retrospect.


Rex Parker 10:44 AM  

I take "humility and generosity" as a single unit, thus justifying my use of third-person singular "compels." Just so you know ...


Joaneee 10:45 AM  

I was a little discombobulated by the spelling of FERULE - had always seen it (yes, I had seen it - Victorian literature, probably) as FERRULE (iron rod?). Otherwise, I like this puzzle, and thought, I'm afraid, that it was only mildly harder than a Tuesday, and interesting.
Talk about ARod haters - Seattle Mariners fans used to throw monopoly money at him when he came up to bat for Texas after deserting Seattle for that obscenely huge contract.

Ren 10:47 AM  

I found this puzzle oddly easy considering its CRAZED vocabulary, finishing with an average Tuesday time. Also, I have to say that SYZYGY is perhaps my favorite word in the english language (maybe because it contains no full-time vowels?), and I was really excited to see it in the puzzle today. Sadly, it could never be used in Scrabble, as there are only 2 Y tiles. Oh, except there are blank tiles! (Sorry, thinking as I type...) Yes, if I ever played SYZYGY in Scrabble, I would be ecstatic!

PuzzleGirl 10:50 AM  

@ren: "Full-time vowels." Heh. In one of the ACPT puzzles there was a square that obviously needed a vowel but I couldn't decide which one to guess. I think I ended up putting an "O" there. Of course, the correct letter was "Y," which hadn't even crossed my mind. I would like to make a t-shirt that says "Sometimes Y! Sometimes Y! Dammit! Sometimes Y!"

humorlesstwit 11:00 AM  

@joanee Ferules and Ferrules are apparently completely different things. A Ferule is exactly what it was clued as (and totally unknown to me), while a Ferrule is a metal cylinder placed around something to prevent splitting, stray magnetic radiation, etc. This was the one that was known to me, and didn't fit, so SFC eluded me.

I didn't like this puzzle at all, never got the SE, just because I didn't care enough to finish. I was left with the 46A as S_C and just didn't care.

When I look back at this puzzle all I can think of is really, really good Strawberry ice cream. The only problem is that I don't like strawberry ice cream. So I don't finish it.

I didn't like this puzzle at all, never got the SE, just because I didn't care enough to finish. I was left with the 46A as S_C and just didn't care.

When I look back at this puzzle all I can think of is really, really good Strawberry icecream. The only problem is, I don't like strawberry icecream. So I don't finish it.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

And, I repeat myself.
And, I repeat myself.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez!

JC66 11:06 AM  

Rex, there may be many reasons to dislike/hate Arod (greed, ego, etc.), but as far as I know, he has never been directly accused (Canseco included) or proven to have used steroids. Like many hundreds of other Major League players, he may very well have used steroids. But, as of now, no one knows for sure.

Your statement: "Having @#$#@ass lying steroid-using loser ALEX RODRIGUEZ down the middle of my puzzle was just the icing on the cake."

belies your intelligence and is more akin to the blind prejudice of Mr. Xmas' email you shared with us yesterday than your usual thoughtful analysis.

Rex Parker 11:10 AM  

Whatever you say, Mrs. Rodriguez :)


foodie 11:13 AM  

This puzzle had me groaning: "Oy vey!" Do you know how many people from Damascus have ever said that?

ArtLvr 11:16 AM  

Me too, I agree -- if this was Tuesday, what more jazzy can we expect by Thursday (May Day)? And yet I got it all by moving very slowly, as if in a minefield. If I see a Z_G, I tend to watch for ZAG not "zig".

A lot of the fill floated up from the back of my mind: PYX, SYZYGY, SOYUZ, RU PAUL -- and that FERULE brought memories of Dickens with it, though I found nothing to confirm that later on googling. He did use "ferrule" -- correctly -- so what hapless child had his knuckles rapped by a FERULE? It did help see the ROD in RODRIGEUZ!

More in the front of my brain was EWOK, which I picked up here a few weeks ago (still means zilch to me except something to try when faced with E_OK)! And Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ is one of the few musicals I own, so that was fun.

As to JACOBIN, it turns out that Albany NY, in 1664, was named in honor of the Duke of York and Albany, who later became King James II of England and James VII of Scotland. I was just checking out our history for a school project last night. You all may have known that, but here's an FYI to stow away -- the original native settlement is said to have been called "Penpotawotnot". I kid you not...


jae 11:18 AM  

Tuesday my a**. SE also killed me and trying to think of who the wrestler called the Rock was didn't help with SW. I went with PFC and vacillated between SLYER and SLIER (philly, both are acceptable). After googleing a couple of variations I was asked "did you mean SYZYGY?" Yes, yes I probably did.

mexicangirl 11:22 AM  

Rex, I'm glad you admit your first comment on the puzzle was a bit rash. Your critique is usually very accurate and something most of us can identify with (as seen in all the above comments). Oddly enough, for someone who struggles with new vocabulary on a second language, I found I could get Ashkenaz, ApolloSoyouz, AllthatJazz and Alcatraz, and the theme figured out right after, with no trouble. It was all the other obscure words I couldn't get. Anyway, it's always a pleasure to read you!

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I too have wondered if this wonderful blog has had an influence on the weekly flow of the puzzles. Having Mr. Nediger make an appearance was a thrill. Rex, thanks for the Cotton moment. I agree with all that this was brutal but knowing about half-way through that I was going to be "feruled" I just sat back and accepted the punishment. Can't seem to find my password. Two Ponies

JC66 11:26 AM  

Well, as long as you have nothing intelligent to say.

Mrs. R

Rex Parker 11:35 AM  

Here's an interesting FERULE phenomenon. If you Google plain ole [ferule] ... this site is on the first page of results (!?). Also on the first page of results - about the only other site that isn't a dictionary site - is a fellow English professor ... who teaches Chaucer, just like I do (from time to time). Weird.



Zach M. 11:40 AM  

Rex, when I put in Alex Rodriguez through the middle of the grid, I immediately was thinking of what you'd say the next day. But from your favorite Yankee fan, I have to say: Join us, Rex. The Dark Side has powers you cannot fathom. Together, we shall reign supreme.

I'm also kind of surprised there hasn't been a nod to Moose yet in the grid, seeing how he's a big fan of all. I'm not surprised that there hasn't been a nod to Manny Ramirez for two reasons: 1, its a twelve letter string that's probably hard to fit in there, and 2, Manny is more than likely illiterate.

:-P (Just kidding Manny!)

Rex Parker 11:48 AM  

Thank you, Zach, for talking smack in a civil, non-@#$@#$bag way. Your favorite team is horrible, but you're OK.

The idea of Manny doing a crossword is making me laugh so hard right now. Manny cares not for your crosswords...

Moose has always been my favorite Yankee, even before I knew he did puzzles. Under-rated, over-maligned. I love Chien-Ming Wang, too. He's ... scary. Scary good.


Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Count me as one who finished the puzzle easily. But it could have been a Thursday. Nollie

phanatic 12:15 PM  

@SethG I was so happy to see somebody else know SYZYGY as Carleton College's women's ultimate team. I got it for the same reason.

I found this puzzle to be extremely challenging for a Tuesday, but also very rewarding. Even with SYZYGY in the SE I couldn't quite finish it. I ended up with PERELE, causing me to have two wrong letters.

Given the puzzle's theme and all the Scrabblese I really wanted the puzzle to add one more layer. Namely, I wanted every letter of the alphabet to show up at least once. Unfortunately by my (quick) count it is short a Q and a V. Sorry if somebody else already mentioned this, but I can't read ALL the posts :)

Joon 12:16 PM  

i agree that the whole puzzle, particularly the SE, had some non-tuesday material, but since it was material which was not unfamiliar to me, i actually beat my average tuesday time by a few seconds. had this run on a wednesday, it would have been my all-time best wednesday; and it was several minutes faster than i've ever done a thursday.

SYZYGY really is one of the greatest words in the english language. it's playable in scrabble if you use the blanks. the shortest non-playable word is PIZZAZZ (spelled, as i prefer it, with four Zs). i think after that it's PIZZAZZES and then KNICKKNACK. but it's really not the holy grail of scrabble... that would be ZYZZYVA. i once calculated the odds of being able to bingo with ZYZZYVA to start a game and it's something like a trillion to one (you need to have the Z, both Ys, and both blanks, as well as one of only two Vs in the bag).

SKIBUM is a really colorful phrase which is a welcome sight on any day of the week (even for this rabidly anti-skiing solver). likewise TECHNO and RUPAUL (the clue struck me as odd, but i'm not a new yorker).

rex, your rant about a-rod is really undignified. i'm not mrs. rodriguez or even a yankees fan, but any connection between a-rod and steroids is pretty tenuous at best. even the circumstantial evidence is pretty lacking; his body type is pretty similar to what it always has been, unlike the physiques of svelte-athletes-turned-hulking-brutes like bonds, canseco, or mcgwire. i realize it's fun to hate on the star players of rival teams (although i, like you, have always liked and respected mussina), but this is just mud-slinging.

i guess you're lucky in that most of the current red sox are pretty likable (especially manny), the obvious exception being lugo. i can't tell you how distressed i was when i saw a guy in my apartment building wearing a lugo shirt. gah. worst possible choice, on several levels (he sucks, he has a big contract, and he's a wife-beater).

hmm, i seem to have strayed pretty far afield here... in conclusion, i liked the puzzle. :)

joe 12:34 PM  

Shouldn't cross SFC and SYZYGY on a Tuesday.

Doc John 12:37 PM  

I didn't struggle with or hate this puzzle like Rex did, although I did do the SPC thing (and was happy with myself for coming up with that- no way I was going to think of SFC).

I do go along with everyone else's criticisms- is it SERA or SERUMS, let's develop a standard; not happy with the two ALEXs crossing, either.

Lots of fun fill, though, including RU PAUL, SKI BUM, SYZYGY, OZAKAN and ALCATRAZ. Even the answer to [5D. "Yecch]=UGH was better than the *insert random three letters here* I thought it was going to be. Definitely more of a later-week puzzle, though.

For the record, the wrestler pretty-much-formerly known as The Rock is Dwayne Johnson and he played football for U of Miami (my med alma mater).

George NYC 12:39 PM  

I think the only thing wrong with this puzzle was its Tuesday placement.
And as a transplanted Bostonian now living in New York, I was pained to have to write A-Rod into the grid. As for Manny (my favorite player) he was quoted a week or so ago as saying something to the effect that he really didn't care much about getting into the Hall of Fame; what he really cared about was that his kids went to good colleges. He's always surprising, is Manny. He stole second base out of the blue the other night. And he's developed a unique way of playing the Monster. Basically, he lopes around out there like he's shagging balls during batting practice but in fact gets them into the right base with surprising speed. What I'm saying, is he might actually like crosswords...GH

Barb in Chicago 12:51 PM  

This puzzle seemed pretty easy, but then I thought maybe I was getting smarter from hanging out at this site. Came here and realized I made a mistake -- brought down by syzygy & SFC. I had pyzygy & PFC, though I should have known that a private of any kind is not an officer.

I'm with those who enjoyed SKIBUM, RUPAUL & TECHNO.

Jim in Chicago 1:25 PM  

All I can say is that I wrote in "Sherpa" for 1A and it was all downhill from there. (pun intended)

I had to actually do a little googling to finish this one up, which is pretty much unheard of for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

I too thought this was a tough puzzle for a Tuesday. I had to google the ferulte/soyuz corner. I knew syzygy (as a science teacher.)

More importantly, I enjoyed the blog and comments today MUCH more than the puzzle.

-John from CT

P.S. Go Yankees!

Noam D. Elkies 1:31 PM  

Wow, Rex either got up on the wrong side of a bed of nails or has a strange sense of 50A:YUMA. Yeah, it would have been nice to fit ATOZ into the grid, and it's hard to believe this puzzle ran on a Tuesday, but it would make a really nice Wed/Thurs crossword. To the Z's (not all forced by the theme), J's, and Y's already noted, add a couple X's (only one of its X's is in Texas) and a passel of K's. I didn't know 47D:FERULE, but that's what the "no unches" rule is for. As for 43A:MCGUIRE and 39D:LAGRANGE, remember that the main audience for these puzzles is not the 5th or 55th or even 555th best crossword solver in the world: to the casual solver, a clue like "River along the Quai d'Orsay" for 35A:SEINE is already obscure enough to require consultation with an atlas or Google, so LAGRANGE hardly makes the puzzle any tougher. Just be thankful the clue didn't use the mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis, as in "Lagrange point" (which would go well with the famously AEIOU-less 46D:SYZYGY)...

Whoa, that was long. Just two other comments:

# 38A: if I have to plod through a dozen b*seball clues every week (yanx, sox, whatever), then we might as well see the full name rather than the overused AROD. (Though I agree it's a pity that ALEX crosses ALEXEI at the X.)

# 58A: "Book after II Chronicles"? No such thing, at least for an 12D:ASHKENAZi or any other Jew: II Chronicles is the last book of the Tanach.


Anonymous 1:46 PM  

Great puzzle! SYZYGY, RUPAUL, ASHKENAZ (no "i" on the end?) and I learned PYX.
Tom Sawyer Chap. 6 "No mere FERULE will answer for this offense.

Moby Dick Chap 32 Cetology "This gentleman is famous for his tail, which he uses for a FERULE in thrashing his foes."

William Wilson -Poe "This reverend man, with countenance so demurely benign, with robes so glossy and so clerically flowing, with wig so minutely powdered, so rigid and so vast,-could this be he who, of late, with sour visage, and in snuffy habiliments, administered, FERULE in hand, the Draconian laws of the academy?"

Portrait of a Lady Chap 7 "It was but half-hospitality to let her remain outside; to punish him for which Isabel administered innumerable taps with the FERULE of her straight young wit."

Joon 1:50 PM  

oh yeah, ALEX/ALEXEI. that doesn't bother me that much, but it would have if indeed it had been ALEXIV... though it really couldn't have been, as

a) those previous czars (and there were indeed three of them) went by alexander. it'd be like calling the current queen of england "liz II."


b) nick II was the czar deposed by the bolshevik revolution. i.e. the last one. so his sons wouldn't have gotten any fancy roman numerals.

while we're on 20th-century world history, why is tojo analogous to hitler? shouldn't that be emperor hirohito? wasn't tojo a general, equivalent to (say) goering? that'd be a great epitaph: "here lies tojo, the goering of japan."

Bill D 2:02 PM  

It took me a while to parse the Hitler:Tojo analogy, also. One of my favorite airplane markings from WW II was painted on a B-25 Mitchell bomber after VE-Day. In large hand-painted red letters it said "Benito Finito; Next - Hirohito". I digress.

puzzlemensch 2:03 PM  

Rex...you made my day. Any time the puzzle is easier for me than for you (this is the first time ever, and probably the last time as well) I will be impressed with myself. Will admit, however, 'twas not a Tuesday.

Doris 2:05 PM  

Guess no other dancers or dance aficionados read this blog. I sort of knew "syzygy" anyway (somehow), but really remember it because "Syzygy" is the title of a dance work by the great Paul Taylor. Just a great word; try saying it 10 times fast.

JC66 2:08 PM  

I just wonder if Will Nedger was ever a SKIBUM in Aspen. There's a restaurant there called SYZYGY.

Doc John 3:04 PM  

You know, I thought I recognized SYZYGY from Aspen! I may have even eaten there once. Thanks, JC. :)

miriam b 3:21 PM  

LAGRANGE?? Good thing I knew ALCATRAZ and had other useful crosses.

SYZYGY is one of my all-time favorite words, despite the fact that I associate it with a very serious flood we had in our basement during one such phenomenon years ago.

I had never heard of NEWLINK.

Sorry, Rex, but I thought this was a nice, not-too-tough Tuesay puzzle.

Doc John 3:35 PM  
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Shaz 3:39 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had a tough time with this Tues puzzle.

Also, just had to mention that I enjoy Rex's anti-Yankees rants.

Wendy Laubach 3:53 PM  

All the baseball stuff just goes over my head. I filled in Alex Rodriguez because it looked like a plausible name after I got a few crosses. Still don't have any idea who the guy is or why I should care what he does or does not shoot up with. I admit that the name "ARod" does vaguely ring a bell, though less of one than "SYZYGY," a lovely elegant word.

Now, pyx was a new one on me even though I see one every week. I just thought of it as the little box that the lay ministers take out to the housebound so they can take communion. Had to get it from the crosses.

I guess I got Google to remember who I was, because I"m blue and orange again.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

i'm glad i wasn't the only one to pick up on the Ezra answer......according to the old testament II chronicles is the last book and ezra comes two or three books before . Perhaps it is different in other bibles, but in the two that i have that is how it is listed.

Doc John 4:00 PM  
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Doc John 4:01 PM  

Sorry, I'm bored and wordy today.

I was kind of surprised to see NEW LINE clued in such a way; it's a distribution (and maybe production) company but not a studio (unlike Warner Bros. or MGM). It was fresh fill, at least, and I didn't have any problem with it as I'm kind of a movie buff but does this mean that we're going to have to add production companies and distribution companies to the list of categories to be familiar with? Pay attention to all those fancy self-serving graphics at the start of movies, people! I think maybe I've seen Dreamworks in a puzzle before but not sure about Miramax or TriStar. Let's not forget Lion's Gate, Regency, Castle Rock, Focus Features or even Troma (they do horror movies like Toxic Avenger). Not to mention every entity associated with "Wordplay"!

Jim in Chicago 4:30 PM  

As to the placement of Chronicles vs. Ezra, I learned something today. While both versions of the Bible contain the same content(at least they have the same names, I didn't cross check that every chapter is present in both) they are in a very different order. Today's puzzle is very Christian-centric, since in that version Ezra does indeed follow Chronicles, while in the Jewish version there isn't anything at all after Chronicles, since it is the last book.

mac 4:54 PM  

Except for the SE (syzygy, how do we pronounce that, SFC and Ferule) this was pretty easy for me, even things I wasn't familiar with I could get through crosses. Agree, serum's plural should be sera. I initially thought of Sherpa as well, and when I saw Ru.. I considered Rupert (Everett).

Totally agree with Orange, Will the Editor picks the day. Like it a lot when a constructor

P.S. This Yankee Fan doesn't really consider Arod a Yankee yet.

P.P.S. I cannot get yesterday's conundrum out of my head......

mac 4:55 PM  

....pipes up.

ArtLvr 5:13 PM  

@ noam -- many thanks for those quotations with FERULE, a ferocious threat! Especially liked the picture from Poe. I was too sleepy last night to pursue it in the wee hours, but delighted now with your elucidation!

@ doris and miriam b -- thanks too for the dance named SYZYGY, but the fllod in the basement phenomenon rings more of a bell with me: a veritable biblical plague around here! But tonight it's a frost warning as reminder that Nature must be reckoned with, even on the sunniest of days...

@ mac -- me too, missing the conundrums of yesterday. I did come up with a completion for the "Sphinx who goes into the bar...." riddle, but haven't heard from the Savoyard Jim if he liked that one too.


Mike 5:17 PM  

Puzzle has a tuesday feel except SE. I had PFC when I went to bed and thought that can't be right a private is not an officer and decided it must be SFC before I nodded off.

Took me a while to figure out theme I thought at one point that it was an attempt to get the highest scrabble score on The JimH Crossword Blog, and I checked his blog out and it is the third highest. I think the scrabble tie in was intentional.

Like it a lot when Will Shortz pipes up too. He has been noticably quiet lately.

TET 5:50 PM  

Rex -
I love MOXIE! Have you ever had it. It's the oldest soda in america and it's great mixed with milk! (or bourbon!)

ArtLvr 5:53 PM  

p.s. my take on the Sphinx riddle --

This Sphinx goes into a bar and says to the bartender -- "How many legs do you think I can walk on today?"
The bartender grins at the 800-stone Sphinx and replies -- "Well, how about starting with that good-looking gorilla over there, while the rest of us chaps find a place to watch?"

jannieb 6:05 PM  

I've kept hoping all day that Rex would relent and post some puzzle-related art. Can't imagine what sort of RuPaul image he'd have found. Oh well - hope Wednesday's outing is more to his liking.

jannieb 6:05 PM  
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Bill from NJ 6:17 PM  

Regardless of the faith issue, whenever presented with a 4 letter book of the Bible that begins E-RA, I am not going to stand on ceremony and insist the Old Testament ends at II Chronicles. What I'm going to do is fill in EZRA.

And despite Rex's rant, he did rate the relative difficulty of this puzzle as Challenging.

Michael 7:08 PM  

I was really surprised to see Rex's reaction. I thought this was a completely ordinary Tuesday with lots of z's. What could be easier than getting Arod right off the bat -- a lot of letters in the middle of the puzzle?

phillies fan

David 7:36 PM  

I've visited the blog a few times in the past when there are answers or puzzles that just confound me, always great stuff. And today, I eventually just gave up and Googled "punishing rod" which brought me straight here. Thank God for that.

I got lucky in a few areas, so that I didn't get quite as stymied as others. But, yeah, the SE corner just absolutely owned me. And that's after getting SYZYGY early, btw---I've heard the word in a song from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, oddly enough.

Even with that, it was utterly impossible for me to get the F or U of FERULE. There was just no way, with too many answers intersecting that couldn't be pieced together. Even the ones that could be, like LAGRANGE and SHASTA especially, were odd. LAGRANGE has such great potential for a Math reference, and SHASTA seems like it has more than a few better options.

Definitely frustrating for a Tuesday, but it also had a bunch of uncommon answers that I was glad to see (like JACOBITE)---I guess that's just how it goes.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

Syzygy is my go-to word in hangman, so that clue was easy for me. So far no one's ever gotten it. Ferule crossing SFC and soyuz, if I may be crass, is fucking bullshit though.

wade 8:08 PM  

anon 7:52, dude, you are one hardcore hangman player. Have you ever played the same opponent twice? Because if you pulled that syzygy crap on me, man . . . .

Eugene 8:31 PM  

For me, this was one of my best Tuesday times, and, had it been on a Thursday, as many people seem to think, my time would have been outlandish (for me). So I guess I'm in Will's target demo for Tuesday.

I also like SYZYGY, and got it right away. Also was skeptical about SFC and FERULE, but nothing else seemed remotely possible (for the F).

Leon 8:32 PM  

There's a SYZYGY Hangman story in chapter one of Matt Gaffney's Gridlock.

Victor 8:34 PM  

At work a bunch of us do the crosswords (NYtimes, NYsun, etc) together, but since that would be too easy, we only use the down clues. Sometimes (as in today's puzzle) I feel that it's an advantage! We actually found it pretty easy -- the stickiest word was FERULE.

Noam D. Elkies 10:07 PM  

@ artlvr: the FERULE quotations were not my contribution; it is the anonymous poster of the message following mine who deserves your thanks.

Forgot to mention earlier: 35D SERUMS felt funny to me too, but that turns out to be an acceptable English plural, indeed the first one listed in the www.m-w.com entry for SERUM.


Anonymous 10:44 PM  

i too would rather sera,
and had the same trouble as others in the SE.

a well placed "ATOZ" either centered or at 1-A would have made the theme awesome rather than just kind of a pester.


Anonymous 10:57 PM  

I was able to fill in everything relatively easily (especially after looking at the unfinished areas upon waking up this morning) except the squares at 48 & 49. I guessed "f" for "first" at 49 and was reinforced by checking "ferule" on Google. I guessed "z" at 48 because I thought I'd heard of "zyzygy" although I had no idea what a "z_____ first class" might be. When "zyzygy" was confirmed at http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/ZYZYGY/id/182116, I came here to find out what "zfc" stood for, only to learn I was in error at that box.

ASH (16A cigarette's end) was humorous.

I'm only a casual sports follower, but I (and even my anti-Yankees husband) have enjoyed following the budding career of former-Husker Joba Chamberlain.

Mary in NE

Jim in NYC 11:08 PM  

Mac, ArtLvr, I hereby resign as pretender to the throne of comedy. Thanks so much for playing last night. BTW, I found some other answers to that riddle, here:


Sorry, no time to deal with HTML.

Best, Jim

dk 11:10 PM  

What a day to lurk!

FYI: You can still buy Moxie in Maine and discover why no one else wants it.

Its ABED for me.

fergus 11:27 PM  

I thought the Alignment was a ZYZYGY, and ZFC seemed as likely as a SFC (not much into the military).

Anyway, I guess I'm in a distinct minority in saying that I thought that this was a really good puzzle. Too bad that there had to be some Clues like _JINGLE_ Bells.

Kim 12:07 AM  

What a blow to my ego. I was so sure that I was making great progress in my crossword skills that TODAY I WAS GOING TO DO THE TUESDAY IN PEN (without one mistake!).

Well you can imagine what a disaster that turned out to be. But as a scrabble lover I have to admit to a fondness for this puzzle despite the fact that I am pondering my humilation while gazing at my ink-stained fingers.

shel 12:28 PM  

OK--with me it must be a certain mindset about the day the puzzle is presented. Hmm--Tues. means the puzzle is easy--and I finished it easily. Saturday...the puzzle is always hard and I hardly ever finish it. I just wonder if this Tuesday puzzle had been presented on Saturday if I would have finished it so easily.

andrea carla michaels 3:15 AM  

Total sympathy for Will's Wed/Thurs appearing on a Tuesday and then getting flak for that!
I was a little surprised at not only the ALEX/ALEXEI cross but the ASH/ASHKENAZ...
and was surprised that a puzzle with an A-Z theme wasn't a pangram (my latest obsession)
but all those Scrabble letters were fantastic!
And if you do play a lot of Scrabble, you probably have learned the word PYX bec it's such a high-scoring three letter word with an X. Yet again another reason why one should learn the meanings of all the Scrabble words, "Some" Xworders pet peeve against Scrabblers.
(Still as odd a schism for me as this whole constructor/solver thing)
And of course, Rex, if you hated this Tuesday puzzle, you can always do the LA Times one today! ;)

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I thought it was flat easy, even with ferule, not an early in the week word; pyx, which I didn't know; syzygy, which I didn't believe was a word; and SFC, which I don't believe exists. My brother was stationed at McGuire while an AFC (or something,) so big brother comes through to help once again.

CAlady 2:35 PM  

If you thought this puzzle was tricky, you should have tried the San Diego Union version-they failed to print all the clues. Got most of the missing words from the acrosses, but "pyx" without a clue??! Didn't finish because of that and because I, basically because have NO idea about sports names-though I did know the
Rock clue wasn't sports related. Deduced Alex Rodri....., but couldn't figure our the rest. And so it goes. Got ferule easily-perhaps its the wrong connection, but I thought of teachers using rulers to rap knuckles in the old days-and ferule just popped up.
Can anyone pronounce "syzygy"?-another hard word with missing clues!

juliebee 2:45 PM  
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juliebee 2:46 PM  

Well, I guess I'm the only one, but I thought that the pix Rex used today were wonderful. You should use non-related pix every day - just to spice things up! :D

I thought it was a nice, easy puzzle. Of course, when I was finished, I had SYZLGY and no reason to doubt it, hahahaha.

Rex Parker 3:09 PM  

Today, over 5% of my traffic is coming from a single search term:


By far the most popular search term of the day. That's something close to 500 people over the course of the day who not only made the same ridiculous mistake I did, but then googled it.

That makes me indescribably happy.


Waxy in Montreal 5:34 PM  

6 weeks on...

Enjoyed this Tuesday effort despite the obvious difficulties lurking in the SE. As for 61D (PYX), was surprised that no one in the blog seemed to remember the "classic" Karen Black / Christopher Plummer 1973 film "The Pyx". Actually, the only reasons I recall it other than its unusual title are that it was set and filmed right here in Montreal.

kas 7:57 PM  

SE corner got me too, Ferule I'd heard of.

Retired_Chemist 10:07 PM  

Sorry, Rex, from out here in Syn(dication) City this was not up to Friday stuff, although I would call it a Thursday. Didn't know what _YZYGY (46D)could be except SYZYGY. SO that was easy even though I did not know what the word meant until I looked it up. Can't believe I got RuPaul (40D)from the Ru____ - s/he is not exactly big here in Big D. Tried to use Jacobin @11D but it didn't fit - 100 yrs too late and the wrong country, I now know.

Anyway, a fun puzzle.

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