Old Spanish treasure chest — TUESDAY, Dec. 8 2009 — Mournful ring / Old English bard / Keyboardist Saunders / Soap actress Kristen / Skier McKinney

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (Medium for me, but if you don't know names / Old English bards, look out)

THEME: Names — all the Acrosses are first names. I think that's it.

Word of the Day: MENT (37D: Puzzle completion?) — MENT is a suffix that might go on the end of the word "Puzzle" to create the word "Puzzlement"

-----

This puzzle takes stunt puzzles to a new level of ... something. On the one hand, I love the puzzle as a retort to all the people who whine about names in their puzzles (a la "why are there celebrities in my puzzle? This isn't the "People Magazine" puzzle!" Etc.). On the other hand, ugh. I didn't enjoy solving it. There didn't seem to be much of a point (another name, another name) and the Downs are terrible in places, particularly the east. RHETMENTATEE is lucky the God of Bad Short Fill already has a name (OOXTEPLERNON, who, to this puzzle's credit, was only moderately pleased today). Most Downs are OK, but SCOP and ARCA are at least slightly nutty for a Tuesday (usually you cross names with non-obscure stuff since names are know-it-or-you-don't), and there's a bit more AUS / ASAN / ERDE-type stuff than I'd like. This puzzle is all about the concept. If you have to torture non-theme fill to realize your vision, so be it, I guess.

Names I didn't know (just bec. I don't have the time, patience, or desire to write them all out):

  • 19A: Mezzo-soprano Resnik (Regina)
  • 32A: Actor Feldman (Corey) — I actually know COREY Feldman, but I had MARTY here at first, and so did many of you.
  • 16A: First lady McKinley (Ida)
  • 56A: Skier McKinney (Tamara)
  • 43A: Country singer Bryan (Luke) — ???? Psst, your last name is a first name.
  • 66A: Soap actress Kristen (Ilene) — ???? Psst, your last name is a first name.
  • 70A: Newspaper editor Bradlee (Ben) — I've heard of him, but that didn't keep me from writing "TOM" in here.

What else?

  • 53A: Keyboardist Saunders (Merl) — well, MERL stumped a hell of a lot of people on a puzzle two years ago, but that was a Friday or Saturday. Today he's crossed in a way that makes him much more gettable.


  • 20D: The body's balance regulator (inner ear) — or, as I call it, my INNIE (10D: Certain navel).
  • 6D: Carriers of water to los océanos (rios) — is there are rule about when a clue like this lapses into the foreign language? Is it that only one term (the last) should get foreignized? I guess that makes a kind of sense.
  • 63D: Abbr. after many a general's name (Ret.) — wife had RTD, creating ILTNE Kristen and NADE Archibald. She also thought perhaps there was an actor named MOREY Feldman. Me: "... SMOP? Really?" Apparently.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

111 comments:

Tom 7:45 AM  

Ugh! Didn't like this one at all. I prefer puzzles with challenging clues that require creativity in extending one's thoughts to solve. While I don't mind a few clues that are factual and require one to simply know or not know the answer, I don't like a puzzle chocked full of facts. Yuck. Didn't like this one.

JannieB 7:57 AM  

One of my fastest Tuesdays ever. Needed only a few of the downs so missed a lot of the "scoptic" stuff. We're off to a really odd week.

Elaine 8:03 AM  

I figured Joe Krozel just wanted to stick Names up our noses. I knew quite a few of these, so they can't be that obscure, but @Rex--you named most of the ones that I did NOT know and got on crosses. Oh, and speaking of name-whining, wasn't there a guy who had a fit about NC Wyeth (the well-known illustrator?)

Got SCOP off the S-P...even though Freshman Eng Lit was 1966. Not too shabby. Will feel smug all day.

Stan 8:07 AM  

Very clever, though it won't be everyone's cup of smoothie. I don't think I've ever seen a puzzle of the "All across answers are ____" type before.

Good one, Joe Krozel!

David 8:14 AM  

Hmm, a Times tip of the hat to People magazine? But of course with a more range in time.

SCOP was completely new to me - having watched "Milk" for the first time yesterday, I felt I was hearing about dog poop again, not Old English bards.

tptsteve 8:17 AM  

Fun puzzle today. I was half-thinking name game after doing the first three acrosses, and then I took a look at the rest of the clues.

A few were obscure, but even those were gettable with a couple of downs.

Alec Waugh- I wanted Evelyn. Anyone else?

The Scop 8:18 AM  

Hwæt. We Gardena in gear-dagum,
þeodcyninga,þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.

L O Annie 8:18 AM  

Just think how blah this puzzle was to someone who was solving downs only. I kept thinking Krozel? Krozel did this? until I finished and saw the conceit. Then I wondered if he ruined it by having RHET as a down, thinking that was a name.

Guess that's why the universe keeps making tomorrows.

treedweller 8:20 AM  

I tolerate names fairly well in puzzles, but I was getting pretty annoyed as I saw clue after clue that looked virtually identical. I didn't realize till I was done what was happening, and then I had to chuckle. I got a second, smaller chuckle when I saw LUKE PERRY (albeit inverted) right in the middle.

I still didn't much like it, but hats off to Mr. Krozel for his in-your-face attitude toward the whiners.

I studied the crosses closely at SCOP, which sounds completely made up to me. Fortunately, the four names there were all solid for me (sympathies to Sandy; smop sounds about as good as SCOP to me, too).

My last letter was the D at ADWARE/DENIS.

Dough 8:33 AM  

Well, I'm pretty impressed. Getting 100% of the crosses to be familiar names is something to marvel at. Not that great a solve, but that's true of some of those Friday-Saturdays with stunningly low word counts. This is a true example of a succès d’estime. Once in awhile, it's nice to feature puzzle-construction envelope-pushing. Bravo, Mr. Krozel.

joho 8:41 AM  

I think Joe Krozel is brilliant even if this puzzle isn't.

Like @treedweller, when I got what was going on I thought wow, how did he pull that off? But the final result didn't sparkle. I do believe from a construction point it must have been next to impossible.

I so wanted some of the professions to be fun like circus clown Kelly or Falsetto crooner Tim.

@L.O.Annie ... I'm pretty sure RHET is spelled RHETt.

Odd Tuesday, but then they often are.

Blackhawk 8:46 AM  

Interesting concept, but not much fun to solve. Seemed like there should have been something more to it. Like "color in the even squares and see a photo montage of Groucho Marx," or just some kind of payoff besides the stunt.

Do fefinitely amazing on the construction front. But otherwise, sorry Joe, kind of boring.

Leslie 8:48 AM  

Not sure yet whether to give this one a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

On the one hand, I'm impressed that Kozel could fill all the acrosses with names and make it work--and make it work without being forced and clunky. Really, all those names clicked into place just fine, and the downs (with the few exceptions Rex noted) were surprisingly unobjectionable, considering the name-linking job they had.

On the other hand, despite how well-constructed the puzzle was, it . . . just wasn't nearly as interesting to solve as it must have been to create. And I feel kind of guilty for feeling that way, but there you go.

So I guess the best thing I can say is, hats off to Joe Krozel for creating and meeting a real construction challenge.

Leslie 8:49 AM  

Oops. Should have read the other new comments before hitting "Publish" on mine. At least I'm not the only one who feels that way!

retired_chemist 8:52 AM  

I liked it, odd as it was. Flew through the names, missing several as I expect most of us did. My list of shame included almost all those Rex mentioned and 3 or 4 more. The downs were mostly easy, so there was no problem finishing quickly.

A real feat of construction IMO. I wouldn't want it often, but once in a while something like this is a pleasant change.

Thank you, Mr. Krozel.

edith b 9:06 AM  

I guess this is Will Shortz weighing in on the Great Name Debate.

To all you Name Haters out there you just heard from the Puzzlemaster himself and his answer: Live with it 'cause names are here to stay.

I know names and I knew slightly more than Rex did and I didn't like this puzzle. Talk about laying it on with a trowel! I have a love/hate relationship with Joe Krozel and today, I didn't love him.

Glitch 9:13 AM  

Mostly harmless.

.../Glitch

ArtLvr 9:16 AM  

Ditto here, I felt it was not a wow to solve -- but I can see the appeal of trying to pull off this crazy concept. Creative, yes... Go, Joe!

dk 9:30 AM  

@tptsteve, by writing really small I got Evelyn and some other names I liked better in the grid. Messed up the downs, but this is only Tuesday.

The up your nose factor (as elegantly stated by @elaine) carried this one across the RIOS for me. Although it was a bit of a Seacow as Rex illustrates.

CHET and David used to have a catch sign-off but i can't remember what it was: anyone?

** (2stars)

Off for my life insurance physical and lovely wife was at a party with a "friend" till 1AM last night.... I think I will make this site a beneficiary just in case. btw Dial M for Murder is still a great movie.

ttfn (the soon to be late dk)

twangster 9:31 AM  

For some reason when I did this I didn't pick up that only the acrosses were names. I just thought: OK, there's a ton of names ... if he's going to do that it's too bad it's not 100% names. (It was late at night, after a couple of beers.)

nanpilla 9:34 AM  

It took me about 1/3 of the puzzle before I realized what was going on, since I shift between across and down clues a lot. I was just feeling like there were an awful lot of names, when the light bulb went on. It was a pretty smooth puzzle, however, with only a few odd answers, which is pretty impressive, given his (self-imposed) constraints.

I looked at the Wordplay blog last night, and followed the link to Joe's puzzle from last December 23rd, which also had a very different theme. I'm usually away over the holidays, so I hadn't done that one. After finishing that really odd one, I just had to go back to see what you all had to say about it. Wow! That may have set a record for number of comments. (Thanks, Rex, for keeping an archive.)

I don't think this one is nearly as controversial- I only had one erasure in the entire puzzle (yes, Rex, it was Marty), so this one wasn't nearly as tortured. That makes the conceit more palatable. So overall, I give this one a thumbs up.

Charles Bogle 9:39 AM  

I come down w those who found the concept tiring and the experience anything but fun...I thought my razor was dull until I woke up to this--IMO

Elaine 9:40 AM  

G'night, Chet.
Good night, David.

PlantieBea 9:56 AM  

@tpsteve: Yep, even considered EVLN before taking a pass on Waugh. Must look up this ALEC.

I was amused by the puzzle. I started with the across clues and after three or four scanned the whole list to see what was going on. I was relieved to see help coming in the downs. I had struggling points where Rex mentioned, and pondered MARC Albert and INA McKinley as well.

Thanks Joe Krozel and Will for throwing out this unique puzzle on a Tuesday. It wasn't so fun to solve, but the concept put a smile on my face.

Doug 9:58 AM  

Pretty standard puzzle. Thanks for telling me what MENT meant. Surprised that Rex did not know BEN Bradlee. Probably one of the most famous newspaper editors in American history -- Watergate, Washington Post, wrote a great memoir called "A Good LIfe." But I know that not everyone was a journalism major and news junkie.

janie 10:00 AM  

after my initial "wtf?" response, i simply let myself enjoy the long-joke approach of this construction. no, the puzzle wasn't particularly difficult, so all the better that it appeared on a tuesday and not on a thursday.

certainly within the blogosphere, where no one is shy about expressing their feelings about what makes for good fill or a satisfying theme, this felt like a great match of puzzle and audience. imoo...

;-)

dk 10:05 AM  

@Elaine, thanks. Not that unique of a sign-off.

I wish I lived in Arkansas, One of my grad school pals lived near Fayettetville and we spend a great couple of weeks swimming in Hog Scald Creek... and of course completing our research project.

d (still alive)k

darkman 10:11 AM  

IMAO, this was fun to do--at any rate, I was smiling at the end. Satisfying, like finishing an entertaining but pointless book.

A good krozwordpuzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

Wow! I loved it!

Every Single Letter is a Theme Entry!

Has that ever been done before?

Ulrich 10:24 AM  

My experience was similar to that of some others: After filling the NW corner with names, I started to scream, but then had the sense to look down the across clues and saw that they all had names--started to smile, imaging the knickers of all of those name haters getting hopelessly entangled--it was worth it!

Jessica 10:25 AM  

There is more to the theme, although I still think I"m missing something. If you look at the list, the first word and the corresponding last word are the same number of letters: Les/Ben, then the Second word and the second to last are the same: Marv/Nate. How about the 8th from the top and the bottom?:Orson/Aaron.12?- Ian/Ann.18?-Carl/Luke
After figuring this out I stared at the pairs for ages to see if I could figure out more of a connection, but I could not. The middle number #21 (40 Across) has no pair, but is smack in the middle of the puzzle.

foodie 10:26 AM  

I agree with @Bob Kerfuffle. Every Single Letter is a Theme Entry!
By that I also mean that all the acrosses were names of humans and NONE of the downs were proper names.
I'm someone who dislikes seeing too many names in the puzzle and I enjoyed doing it. Why? It told me: "Hey, you can do this!" In a big way : )

Yesterday sports, today people's names... I feel my neural circuits humming!

mccoll 10:28 AM  

Great fun and up your nose by Mr Kroz. I can see JK grinning every minute of this construction. Very smooth and pretty quick for me with a single google in the NE. This should settle the Nattick question - but it won't.How can one go five years in English Lit and not know SCOP. It sounds like a barbaric Yawp to me.
Thanks Joel and all

mccoll 10:28 AM  

Great fun and up your nose by Mr Kroz. I can see JK grinning every minute of this construction. Very smooth and pretty quick for me with a single google in the NE. This should settle the Nattick question - but it won't.How can one go five years in English Lit and not know SCOP. It sounds like a barbaric Yawp to me.
Thanks Joel and all

william e emba 10:30 AM  

Yes, I had MARTY and RTD, both easily fixed. We've had COREY Feldman twice in the past two years, so it wasn't so bad.

It's amazing that Marty Feldman is really only remembered--but boy is he remembered--because of just one role 35 years ago, so much so that he seems to own the name Feldman.

Congratulations, Rex! You yourself nominated IDA McKinley for the Great Ida Controversy, your request that Lupino should be retired already. Obviously, when Rex speaks, Will listens.

Every single entry a theme entry? There was a puzzle a few years back where every clue began with the same letter. There have been a few puzzles where the black squares are the theme, so to speak. Perhaps lipograms count? (As in, almost a pangram, which at this time of year, means No-L.)

SethG 10:30 AM  

I laughed about 10 seconds in, and on a Tuesday maybe that's enough. But the best part of solving this was definitely just looking at the list of across clues.

Two Ponies 10:32 AM  

I thought this was fantastic.
I always pause and scan the clues before I dive in and could not believe what I was seeing.
Being a Name Whiner myself I thought this was a funny puzzle aimed directly at me.
I was amazed that all of those names could be gathered together and yet remain on the Tuesday level. I forgive the arca (a little too close to ark?) and scop for the outcome.
The bar has been raised in stunt puzzles. As Bob K. noted this brings new meaning to theme density.

archaeoprof 10:36 AM  

What Ulrich said.

I like country music, and I like country music clues in the NYT puzzle, but I've absolutely never heard of LUKE Bryan.

SethG 10:42 AM  

Every square was themal in the December 23 puzzle nanpilla mentioned. Also on June 5, 2001 (puzzle, solution). Probably more.

OldCarFudd 10:47 AM  

I don't enjoy obscure (to me) names, but I can tolerate them as long as they be inferred from the crosses. These all could. The construction was brilliant. Did I like the puzzle? No, not really, but I could appreciate it as I would a fine work of art that I might not want to hang in my living room.

hazel 10:50 AM  

I too thought it was an awfully interesting puzzle. Bit of awe at the feat of construction, but I also loved seeing all those names.

The grid is like a big cocktail party!

Film/acting came in with the most names; music, sports, media, humor, politics, and literature were all otherwise pretty evenly matched - making for a good party.

Poor old Peter King - probably would have given his eye teeth to be in this puzzle.

Susan 10:54 AM  

I thought it was fun to solve. Also, very telling which names gave me trouble and which didn't. Corey Feldman? No problem. Regina Resnik not so much.

CoolPapaD 10:56 AM  

Marty Feldman and I want you all to know that Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia (of the Dead) did some terrific stuff together, and that we really liked this clever puzzle:

http://blogcritics.org/music/article/live-at-keystone-volume-1-jerry/

ArtLvr 10:56 AM  

@ archaeoprof -- how about Rivers Cuomo? Not related to Mario or Andrew C that I know of, but in Albany NY headlines today as lead singer of rock band Weezer... and the only one of the group just slightly hurt when their tour bus crashed over a guardrail yesterday. The rest are okay, thanks to a soft landing in an embankment's "pillow of mud"!

Can't wait to see the Weezer in a puzzle.

∑;)

brent 10:57 AM  

mccoll, what "Nattick" question? How is it settled? Who went five years in English Lit and didn't know SCOP?

Greene 10:59 AM  

Put me in the "I liked it" camp. I knew something was up when I first inspected the grid. Right away I noticed there were no long acrosses which I thought was really weird for a Tuesday. Made me think there might be a rebus, but hey, it's only Tuesday.

I usually work the grid in quadrants starting in the NW, so I thought it a little strange there should be so many proper names in that tight little square. As I moved into the next quadrant, the theme became clear and I tore through all the acrosses (well, many of them). Hand up for thinking of MARTY Feldman before COREY. Most of the downs went in easy enough, but I got fouled up in the SE corner of the puzzle again (I'm two for two there this week). Didn't know BEN and the downs were slow to come. Otherwise, this would have been one of my fastest Tuesdays ever.

I knew this puzzle would not please many, but I find it clever and well executed. I must confess too that I like the "in your face" quality of the theme as well. Go Joe!

Late last night as I explained the theme to non-puzzle wife I gave her the clue "Actor Feldman" as an example and she immediately said "COREY." Hmmm...

william e emba 11:20 AM  

The grid is like a big cocktail party!

That's it! It's like the Thomas Meehan short story Yma Dream, which has been mentioned here almost one year ago (since it was the inspiration for a Letterman/Oscar routine that Rex has posted a clip of). The story is available in a collection of Meehan's entitled Yma, Ava; Yma, Abba; Yma, Oona; Yma, Ida; Yma, Aga . . . And Others.

As for the range of types of people: not much. The closest to a scientist/mathematician is ADAM Smith.

Squeek 11:33 AM  

@ hazel, You summed it up best.
Now that is one cocktail party I'd love to attend.
Not only just proper names here but all first names. Cool.
@ dk, The plot thickens. I'm a little worried about you, man.

lit.doc 11:39 AM  

Drop acid, not names. Gotta retract a comment from yesterday defining a good NYT puzz as one I could do in under nine minutes. Shredded this one, but was left with no feeling of "Gee, wasn't I clever to get through THAT!"

Scanned the clues before touching paper, so saw the theme right off. Filled in almost the entire grid speed-filling Across. I agree with comments above re ARCA--shouldn't cross "know 'em or not" theme answers like names with reealy obscure fill. Being an English geek, 28D SCOP fixed 32A MARTY Feldman. The end.

Love high-concept theme puzz's, but they ought to be fun for both the constructor and the solver.

Steve 11:46 AM  

Absolutely hated this. Felt more like a trivia contest than a crossword.

I always start puzzles by going through all the acrosses, then all the downs, so I picked up on the theme about 3-4 clues in. Filled in 80-some percent of the acrosses on the first path because, well, I'm good at trivia.

I was hoping that the downs would offer some joy in some clever or challenging cluing, but no. Pretty standard, to some not-great, stuff.

With one pass through the downs, I had the puzzle 98 percent complete. Picked up a couple stray squares and I was done in record Tuesday time (and approaching my Monday record). And wasn't satisfied at all.

If it were not for my innate ability to remember vast amounts of useless information, this could have been tough. As it is, I do have that ability, so it was just an exercise in recitation for me.

And I also wanted "Evelyn" Waugh.

Noam D. Elkies 11:53 AM  

Constructor's dream, solver's nightmare. So you've set yourself a task and accomplished it reasonably well (though probably better for Wed/Thurs); now don't ever do it again. Better yet, how about choose a task that makes the puzzle more fun to solve, like a puzzle with 48D:NOTONE name.

I think it inconsistent for Rex to write "I love the puzzle as a retort to all the people who whine about names in their puzzles [...] On the other hand, ugh. I didn't enjoy solving it." The second part amounts to saying that the first part's "whiners" are right. P-Ugh.

NDE

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

rry Took were the comedy writers there for tv series and they used to come to my boss's office.

Also, isn't Alec Waugh crosswordese? He's often in puzzles.

MikeM 12:24 PM  

I am not one for "names" in a puzzle, but you have to admire the construction. Kudos for that, Joe. Was in complete puzzlement of 37D until a few minuts ago.

schmidtenor 12:27 PM  

Loathed it. 'nuff said.

Just Askin 12:28 PM  

With all due respect to Meg, and there is respect due, is the Manatee the offical symbol of something that, while interesting at some level, is at its essence simply dumb and ugly?

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Quick and easy, like a Tuesday should be. Even with "Scop"! I managed to whip through it at midnight while recovering from 3 hours of exposure to 15 degree weather. A Thursday through Saturday level of brain strain may have caused me to succumb to hypothermia!

william e emba 1:08 PM  

is the Manatee the offical symbol of something ...?

Rex was punning on OOXLEPTERNON's newly hatched competition, the dreaded RHETMENTATEE.

Either that, or Rex was brilliantly alluding to Naked Came the Manatee, the mystery novel written by Dave, LES, Paul, Edna, James, Carolina, Evelyn, Tananarive, Brian, Vicki, John, Elmore, and CARL.

(Ooh, Les Paul, in order.)

13 and out, obviously!

Cyndy 1:23 PM  

I sped through this and I am not that good, but I think it is an age thing...I'm in my late 50's...Wasn't much
fun even though it was fast!

Just Askin 1:32 PM  

@WEE - Ok, you're probably right. I just thought the puzzle was interesting at some level, but at its essence dumb and ugly. I give it one Manatee. Or one RHETMENTATEE.

PlantieBea 1:35 PM  

@Just Askin: About the manatee; beauty is in the eye of the beholder!!! I don't think they're ugly, with the exception of the horrendous scars they usually carry from prop encounters.

Orange 1:36 PM  

@Jessica (10:25): Well, the grid has standard crossword symmetry, so it makes sense that every answer would have an opposite partner of the same length. I don't think there's anything more to the theme than "hey, look, all the Acrosses are names and thus every square is thematic.'

I had fun with it since I scarcely looked at the Downs. Loved the comment this morning from The Scop...though I need a translation into modern English.

If you Google smop crossword or morey feldman, this site and mine come up by the top. I like that! I hope real people named Morey Feldman ego-surf and find crossword blogs talking about their name.

Sundance 1:56 PM  

I absolutely hated this one. When I saw the theme I thought it was a clever idea. But solving was dull.

Greene 2:01 PM  

Anybody seen the Google logo today? It's Elzie Segar's birthday...and Crossworld rejoices!

darkman 2:09 PM  

I know this is days ago, but I just found this little poem.

The Snowman

With arms akimbo
he welcomes the cold
and the sweeping wind.
He is their creature now.

With arms akimbo
he will defy the spring
till his last frozen breath
is vapored in the sun's air.

andrea CARLA michaels 2:31 PM  

i always say the same thing about Joek's puzzles...
lookatme construction, if only it were funforus too.
but i do like that he takes creative risks and pushes the envelope and the day the solver/constructor experience comes together will be one of unmitigated unqualified joy.
I think it will happen!

(sort of like the difference between watching a Marty Feldman movie and a Corey Feldman one...)

and i would publicly like to lament that Tiger mistress #7 porn star Holly Sampson also goes by the name of Andrea Michaels :(

I swear, I did not have sex with that man, nor have I starred in "Sex Going Down Only"

Clark 2:41 PM  

I didn't know MARV Albert, and I certainly didn't know VENA, so I failed. But I thought it was fun.

@Jessica (10:25): What you have discovered is very helpful in solving a diagramless (provided that it has standard crossword symmetry).

Sfingi 3:15 PM  

As they say in IA, "Well, that's different."

Anyway, it was necessary that it be done sometime. So now it's been done.

Before anything else, the Tuesday NYT is always great because it has SCIENCE Tuesday.

I didn't know 2 of the sports guys and the sopa opera IRENE, or the keyboardist MERL, but eventually got em anyway from crosses. I kept changing RET from rtd and back. Rtd seemed too much like retarded. What came to mind was: "Old soldiers never die, the old ones do." or "Old soldiers never die, they just smell that way." I didn't make these up. They're all over the internet. And definitely non-PC.

I never heard of ARCA or ADIN. Now I know.

@Elaine - I'm related to the Wyeths, but I'll spare everyone, since I'm developing a cold.

@Tptsteve - yes, a lovely first name for a Welshman. Pronounced EEVE-a-lin.

@Dk - don't worry; he's probably gay. Doesn't bore with sports but can talk forever about Empire furniture. This could lead to many 1 AMs.

sanfranman59 3:18 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Tue 8:06, 8:37, 0.94, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:15, 4:25, 0.96, 46%, Medium

nanpilla 3:33 PM  

@Sfingi - my favorite part of the Tuesday paper, too! (And Ira Flatow's Science Friday on NPR) My husband's is the Wednesday dining in/dining out.

My little ARAB was very spirited today (rider PC for not paying attention) - had to take him outside and work him quite a while to calm him down. Must be the cold weather.

Elaine 3:56 PM  

@Darkman
Thanks for the snowman poem! I once made a snowLADY and put my blue earbobs on her! If it snows here I will put the snow-person's arms akimbo.

For Feldman, I thought of JIM ("Whaddaya know?" Not much! You?) and had to get the answer on crosses, because all I could come up with was IGOR.

I am starting to worry about dk, too. Are there stairs in his house? (the kind people might fall down, you know?) gas stove? old wiring? a small chemistry set?

@sfingi
Telling about your Wyeth relations has been shown to lead to quicker cure of the common cold.

andrea CARLA michaels 3:58 PM  

@Nanpilla
Careful! writing "My little ARAB was very spirited today..." can get you flagged by the NSA

@sfingi
Bet you have heard the tennis term but mis-parsed...I always thought it was "ADD IN", myself.

@clark
Marv Albert was the "YESSSS!" guy with the bad toupee always on Letterman with his "crack staff" putting together sports bloopers... needless to say, Dave defended him during his mistress/biting episode...

Meg 4:10 PM  

My list of unknowns pretty much matches Rex's except I knew Ben Bradlee. I grew up in Northern Va. and attended one of the Watergate hearings when I was about 17. I wish I had appreciated at the time what I was watching.

Recently I tried to get my 17 year-old daughter to fully appreciate the rendition of "Putting On The Ritz" from "Young Frankenstein" (featuring Marty Feldman...the movie, not the song. Not interested.

I liked the puzzle. Anything unusual on a Tuesday is a good thing!

Shamik 4:27 PM  

Correctly solved medium puzzle for me, but not an enjoyable birthday puzzle. Sorry.

SueRohr 4:54 PM  

I thought this puzzle was super easy. Got most of the names I didn't know off the crosses or with good guesses. I can't even debate interesting or not or fun or not because it was just one two three done and forgotten.

edith b 4:57 PM  

I got COREY because of the scandal involving drugs with the "Corey twins" - Corey Haim and Corey Feldman - years ago. As a fan of Hollywood scandal in general, I was all atwitter over this one.

I did think of MARTY but, as is my wont when faced with multiple possibilites, I check crosses before I enter. A holdover from the paper-and-pen days.

SueRohr 5:00 PM  

Also - for the second day in a row there is a reference to an old Red Sox player and being an avid Red Sox fan, that makes me happy.

Ruth 5:01 PM  

Rats. I was racing toward an all-time fastest solve, hit the DONE button, and--error! Turns out I can never freaking remember if it's ALLEN or ALLAN Ginsberg and I always get it wrong. Took me a while to find the error because the down could be ERE or ERA, both plausible answers as written, though if I had read the clue. . .
Oh well. The sub-3 minute Holy Grail continues to elude me. By a lot. . .

Two Ponies 5:05 PM  

Checking back in to see how this one shook out and the camp seems to be divided. I don't feel like tallying the votes but it looks even between the pros and cons.
I wish Joe K would drop by with his side of the story.
@ darkman Thanks for the lovely poem. Fresh use of akimbo (without the attitude).

archaeoprof 5:10 PM  

@ArtLvr: Weezer and Cuomo. Sounds like a law firm that would advertise on late night tv. "Let the experts at Weezer and Cuomo help you deal with the IRS."

@Andrea CARLA Michaels: do you get fan mail for that other Andrea Michaels?? There is a rap star whose real name is the same as mine. I used to get calls from his fans. One time a woman called and said, "I'm having your baby."

retired_chemist 5:42 PM  

@ archaeoprof - when in my first faculty job, the Interfraternity Council President one year had the same first and last names as I. I got anguished calls from young women @ 1 AM occasionally, obviously intended for him. He graduated and I thought they would stop - but he took a job in the Dean of Students' office and the problem continued.

Campesite 5:46 PM  

Dug it. Saw the gimmick prior to starting and decided to go at it from the across clues only: thus making it feel much more like a Thursday-level.

jeff in chicago 5:48 PM  

Liked it just fine. It was different. Sometimes that's enough for me!

Blackhawk said: "Seemed like there should have been something more to it. Like "color in the even squares and see a photo montage of Groucho Marx..."

Yes...that's exactly what it needed!!!!

joho 5:53 PM  

Happy Birthday, Shamik!

PIX 6:07 PM  

Boring...first puzzle in a very long time that just left me entirely not caring what the correct answers are...don't know "skier McKinney"'s first name and don't care; same for many other clues. The real theme is that all these people had first names? Should I build a puzzle with people that were born during odd numbered months?

archaeoprof 6:07 PM  

@Retired_Chemist: in my case it's the rapper Bizzy Bone from the Bone Thugs 'n Harmony. He recently spent some time in jail, and that's when the calls slowed down.

foodie 6:24 PM  

@Andrea CARLA Michaels and RC, Back in the late 80's, the Nobel Prize committee awarded the Chemistry Prize to Donald Cram at UCLA. Early in the morning Donald Cram received a call and rolled over and told his wife it was some joker telling him he got the Nobel prize for chemistry.. He was a carpet cleaner! I like the fact that the carpet cleaner then appeared on Johnny Carson and the nobelist did not.

Stan 6:31 PM  

@Shamik: Big Happy Birthday!!

@archaeoprof: That was a very funny post (in a good way).

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

Quit hiking on your wife!

Glitch 7:14 PM  

Took a look at the Rexblog for the JoeK puzzle 12/23/08 mentioned by @nanpilla.

Interesting to read the comments on a similar puzzle as today's and see how the comments have changed (and yet not changed).

Most striking (to me) was the fact that our host had the time to actively participate (and focus) the discussions.

An observation, not a critism --- change happens.

..../Glitch

Van55 8:08 PM  

Not a great puzzle for me, but very easy.

David in CA 8:28 PM  

I dislike puzzles loaded with proper names. There is no wordplay involved, there is no way to puzzle them out, there is no "aha" moment when you finally fill in letters because they look like the most likely ones for a name. I COMPLAIN about such puzzles in the Times for these reasons.

To all the jerks, starting with Rex, who label me as a "whiner" I would suggest you look at your own commentary on puzzles you don't like, and tell me with a straight email that it is any less whiny.

Delete this if you wish Rex, it is your blog, but you and your commenters really pissed me off this time.

Glitch 9:32 PM  

@David in CA

"and tell me with a straight email that it is any less whiny".

Perhaps because you don't provide an email address?

.../Glitch

Orange 9:58 PM  

@Andrea, of course you weren't in "Sex Going Down Only." Crossworders go across and down...and once in a blue moon, diagonally too.

@Glitch, I don't know a lot of professors with a lot of free time at the end of the semester. Last 12/23, Rex was on winter break.

Martin 10:06 PM  

Andrea,

What a hoot! A google image search of your name shows you in the first few images with Safe Search Moderate, but you get bumped way down with Safe Search Off.

You're definitely cuter.

sanfranman59 10:29 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:00, 6:57, 1.01, 55%, Medium
Tue 8:13, 8:37, 0.95, 40%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:41, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Tue 4:07, 4:25, 0.93, 36%, Easy-Medium

Sfingi 10:30 PM  

@Andrea - believe me, I know NO golf terms. Years ago, I was actually knocked out attempting golf, and keep the scar. I once attempted to teach my son miniature golf (at the cute hand-crafted course owned by what turned out to be a Nazi-in-hiding) only to have shown him how to hold the club lefthanded - I often have this problem that I can't tell one hand from the other. When I drive, people have to say, "turn my side" or "turn your side." Maybe this all explains something.

@anon 6:42 - what does "hiking on" mean?

@Archeaoprof - funny - should have started singing the Paul Anka song.

@Orange - very funny clever comment on going down! Can be reused in many crosswordy contexts.

mac 11:27 PM  

Well, he got me. I didn't notice right away what was going on, but once I did, I found it very funny! I think I might not have liked it as much on a Thursday, but on Tuesday you can bring on the gimmicks! I suspect we don't mind puzzles with names we know.....

@Hazel: very funny comment.

I thought of Marty Feldman and his bulging eyes, but thankfully couldn't think of his first name off-hand. Marv I onlky know because of the wig and the bites.

@Andrea: Too bad! I also thought of "Across", like Orange, but hadn't gotten to diagonal.

foodie 12:48 AM  

@Glitch, beyond the issue that Orange brought up-- the time in the academic year, I've noticed over the past couple of years (since I've been reading this blog) that Rex doesn't have a very predictable pattern in terms of when he chimes in or how often.

There are times when he doesn't say anything on the blog but where I've gotten an e-mail off line from him (e.g. when my dad got sick), which tells me he monitors the flow quite actively.

I also remember a time when there was some back and forth among the commenters quite late at night, and Rex jumped in, and Mac said something like: "Oh, You're still awake"? It made me laugh.

So, a good assumption: He's always out there, watching!

.../;)

HudsonHawk 12:57 AM  

@David in CA, I totally agree with your first paragraph. After that, you lost me.

retired_chemist 1:59 AM  

@ sfingi - I think "hiking on" one's wife refers to the SC governor's apocryphal stint on the Appalachian trail.

Flowerblogger 3:43 AM  

Flowerblogger said...
I love Joe Krozel's puzzles because he introduces novelty every time! This time the theme was names and I realized it about 6 across clues in. I usually hate the name clues, but I liked it this time because using it as a theme made me laugh. The hang ups were in the odd clues/answers Rex mentioned. I didn't know a lot of the people, but the crosses filled everything in for me.
@San Francisco 59
I don't think anyone cares about the stats. Why don't you comment on the quality of the puzzle?
@retired chemist
I always look for your comments. they are very interesting.

Clark 4:22 AM  

@Flowerblogger - When you say "I don't think anyone cares about the stats," you are wrong. I don't just speak for myself on this. A significant number of the commenters here have expressed interested in and appreciation for the stats. Anyone who is not interested can just pass over them.

chefbea 7:10 AM  

probably no one will see this... but I did this last night before going to bed. Found it fairly easy with no googling.

mac 7:49 AM  

@Flowerblogger: I also think you are wrong. I have come to rely on seeing SanfranMan's stats, am interested and miss them when they are not there. One thing it tells me is that Rex is almost always correct in his rating.

@Rex: I have also started to count on the Sunday Tweets! Love them.

If I had done the puzzle online I would have figured out the theme must faster, since I always start Across only.

Aviatrix 7:55 PM  

What Two Ponies said.

I used to star all the name clues on the first pass and just skip them to Google later. I didn't even consider it cheating to do so because names weren't "real" crossword clues.

So I considered this a grand prank, making fun of me, and I can take a joke. I laughed. And I finished it, too. Without googling.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Boring and no fun. I used Google to get the names I didn't know which was most. Most of these people I have never heard nor care who they are; I prefer wordplay not random name dropping.

I do admire the construction though.

Crosscan 2:50 PM  

One week late or 4 weeks early. Consider me your bridge to Syndication.

Just back from vacation in Orlando where they only have 2 TV stations - all Disney or all Tiger. If Tigger gets a channel they wouldn't need any other.

This was one weird puzzle.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Surprised you rated this medium-challenging. I found it very easy with nary a stumble along the way. Impressive construction, but didn't care for the theme at all.

Singer 6:07 PM  

I am not one of those who complain about names, but as I did this I got more and more the feeling that there would be a lot of complaints about names, then it slowly dawned on me that they were all names. I was either embarrassed or smug that I knew most of the names (choose one), and got most of the rest through crosses, however I join Mrs. rp with Morey Feldman and smop.

Nullifidian 9:15 AM  

In rather late from syndication-land:

The only thing that I didn't like about this puzzle was the weird shifting perception thing that happened after I completed it. Depending on how I looked at it, I saw either a series of regular crossword fill or a series of names, like that image of a vase that can also be interpreted as two faces in profile. Those things creep me out.

The W part of the puzzle was easiest for me, name-wise. Most of the cultural and historical clues (REGINA Resnik, IDA McKinley, CLARA Barton, SARA Teasdale, ANN Radcliffe, DENIS Diderot, etc.) were my gimmes, and I struggled through the sports clues and some pop culture clues as usual. Nevertheless, they weren't so difficult that I couldn't get them after a few down crosses. But I still think LOUIE would have been better clued as "Trumpeter Armstrong".

The most difficult part was the SE corner, where I had ROD Serling and BEN Bradlee, but I was hesitant to write down ALI or the final half of TAMARA because I'd never heard of "ad in" or heard an Arabian horse being referred to as an Arab. Nevertheless, I took the chance and completed the puzzle.

Regina Resnik would have been easier for you if you were more of an opera fan. She was one of the favorite mezzo-sopranos at the Met, and she even had a subsequent career on Broadway, where she earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Fräulein Schneider in a revival of Cabaret and Mme. Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. Opera-to-musical crossover is rare, but it happens. Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel has sung Sweeney Todd (albeit it in an operatic production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago) and bass Ezio Pinza had a second career in Broadway musicals after he retired from the Met, winning a Tony for originating the role of Emil de Becque in South Pacific.

All in all, with the names that I knew, which were over half, and the regular Tuesday crossword fill in the down sections, this was one of the easier Tuesdays for me.

Nullifidian 9:18 AM  

Oh, one other thing:

Your wife may have been thinking of the composer Morton Feldman and combining his name with Corey Feldman. I cannot say if Morton was known as Morey to his friends. *grin*

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