Country singer Griffith / SUN 9-26-10 / Romance of 1847 / Bedouins trait / Large food tunas / Opening for aspiring leader

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Constructor: Pamela Amick Klawitter

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Location, Location, Location" — Note: Each set of circled letters is described by an answer elsewhere in the grid (e.g. ROOM AT THE TOP is represented by the circled letters "DEN" (a kind of ROOM) AT THE TOP of the grid...)

Word of the Day: Susan ANSPACH (37D: Susan who co-starred in "Five Easy Pieces") —

Susan Anspach (born November 23, 1942) is an American stage and film actress.

Selected filmography

• • •

Solving this was like death. Just groan-inducing answer after groan-inducing answer. The theme was not evident to me at all until I was done — utterly unnecessary to the solving of the puzzle. Perhaps the basic idea here is clever, but the execution, at the level of the majority of the fill in the puzzle, was Severely subpar. Further, how is MENTAL BLOCK a "location?" I see it up top there, in circles, but ... ? Also, DIAGONAL LINES has nothing to do with "location." Ditto SQUARE MILE. So *either* the circles do something *or* they are located ... somewhere. And that's a theme? And I thought Stan Musial was "THE MAN," and Henry AARON was Hammerin' Hank?

But here's why the puzzle was so painful to solve: Everywhere you look—and I mean *everywhere*—short and often Awful fill abounds. Far west, for example, has SHER (?) next to IERE (!?) crossing ERN and RETIE. That's just scratching the surface. I could go on. And on. ATRI / DEES / ERST, anyone? Sorry but ... I mean, -ESCE?! When you've already subjected us to -IERE? And -ISH!?!? It's just mean. Then there are lots o' partials: AND I'M right next (!) to IN HER; plus BE NO, ME NO (at least they rhyme?), A DARN, ONE I ... stop!!! Then there are valid but ugly technical terms like RATEL and CASSIA. And then bizarro, utterly unintuitable names like ANSPACH or RESNIK or EGER or QING (how is that pronounced?). Or strange plurals like AHIS (76D: Large food tunas). And OLEOS. Then, to offset the suffixes, there are the prefixes (IDIO, MASTO), and —the cherry on top— a Random Roman Numeral (MCLI). All in all, unpleasant.

Flashback: Here's what I wrote the last time RATEL showed up (earlier this year): "RATEL (46D: Honey badger). As I was solving, I just stared at his answer. And stared. And stared, thinking, "That can't possibly be right..." Sounds like a pest control device: RAT + MOTEL = RATEL."

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Specification in a salad order (DRESSING ON THE SIDE) — MAYO appears on the "side" of the puzzle
  • 34A: Unit in measuring population density (SQUARE MILE) — MILE appears in a square formation (NE corner)
  • 57A: Opening for an aspiring leader (ROOM AT THE TOP) — the room is a DEN

  • 75A: Diagonals (SLANTED LINES) — LINES appears in diagonally arranged circles
  • 97A: Carp or flounder, typically (BOTTOM FISH) — EEL appears at the "bottom" of the grid
  • 115A: Go-between (THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE) [uh... is that the same as "MIDDLE MAN?"] — AARON, who apparently was THE MAN, or ... is simply a man's name ... appears in "middle" of the grid
  • 15D: Place for a date, frequently (CORNERSTONE) — STONE appears in SE "corner" of the grid
  • 67D: Case of thoughtlessness? (MENTAL BLOCK) — MENTAL organized into a rectangular "block" up top
Rare appearance today by YSLOSORICSAK, who is, of course, OOXTEPLERNON's wily (and possibly Icelandic) henchman and representative on earth. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you're probably better off.

  • 1A: When repeated, a resort near the Black Forest (BADEN) — BORA, PAGO ... and I ran out of 2xplacenames. Three crosses jogged my memory.
  • 19A: Homeric hero (AENEAS) — I'm calling massive bull$#!* on this one. It is true that AENEAS is in Homer's "Iliad," but calling him a "Homeric hero" is kind of nonsense. He's pretty damned minor, compared to the (many) other "heroes" in that poem. Why the *&$! do you clue AENEAS via Homer and not Virgil?—Virgil named his damned epic after the guy, for pete's sake. Boo. Cheap. Bad. Etc.
  • 59A: Fine and dandy, in old slang (OKE) — As a card-carrying member of the Raymond Chandler fan club, I'm kind of required to like this. And yet ...
  • 63A: Writer/critic Trilling (LIONEL) — Highbrow! I would've gone Richie.

["I had a dream / I had an awesome dream"]

  • 65A: Hit computer game with the original working title Micropolis (SIM CITY) — showing my crime fiction / comics leanings here: I wrote in "SIN CITY"
  • 70A: President who said "I'm an idealist without illusions" (KENNEDY) — president during the "Mad Men" years. I'm only up to 1962 (Season 2) right now.
  • 85A: Country singer Griffith (NANCI) — my dad, sister and I all discovered her at same time and Love(d) her. I've seen her live twice. Huge talent. Sweet voice.

  • 89A: Romance of 1847 (OMOO) — oh the wrong answers I had: first DRED (?!), then EMMA ...
  • 117: Rapper ___-A-Che (RIC) — I am usually happy to see rap names in my puzzle, but honestly, I've never heard a thing by this guy. Let's see...

[uh ... I ... don't know]
  • 122A: "Idylls of the King" lady (ENID) — Arthurian lady in four letters, yeah, it's always ENID
  • 70D: Noted Bauhaus artist (KLEE) — he's an artist with many influences and affiliations, and for some reason I can't make this Bauhaus association stick.
  • 85D: Bedouins' trait (NOMADISM) — come on. It's not a religion. Bedouins are nomads, they are nomadic, yes, but are they really practicing NOMADISM?? Someone should produce a show about Bedouin ad execs called "Nomad Men."
  • 102D: Liechtenstein's western border (RHINE) — I get my RHINE and RHONE confused. Happened again today.
And now your Tweets of the Week, puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:

  • My sister keeps asking me stupid crossword questions i told her to stfu im trying to watch tv "blank fear or blank canaveral" SHUT UP
  • @ Some guy who really needed to brush sat down beside me on the subway & asked if he could sleep with me if he helped on the crossword #fml
  • @ Some women sitting across from me are discussing/spoiling the #TGAM crossword...had to put on headphones w/loud music
  • @ just watched a woman do a fucking crossword puzzle while she was driving. she then proceeded to cut me off.
  • @ The woman adjacent to me is doing the Herald crossword with a pen that is also a comb. Why would you want a comb pen? #busnews

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


des 12:42 AM  

The note with the puzzle only says that the set of circled letters are "described" elsewhere in the grid, so I'm not sure where you got the idea that they all had to be locations. I actually used the 34A SQUAREMILE answer to help me fill in the upper NE (I still don't understand the answer RIM to 25A "A lens fits in it" - did this refer to the lights of a car???). I thought you were going to complain about the 75A SLANTED LINES description, given that the LINES in the circle read in a reverse manner.

I do agree with you about the Bedouins clue, but I really wasn't surprised with the answer, once my first attempt with NOMADICS didn't make sense ... sigh.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  


The title is "Location, Location, Location" ... wouldn't that suggest
location placements?

The Bard 1:25 AM  

Hamlet > Act I, scene V

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire:
Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.

syndy 1:49 AM  

DNF not couldn't just lost my will to live if I had to look at this turkey another is too short

CoffeeLvr 2:11 AM  

@des, I thought the RIM for the lens referred to eye glasses or the frame for a magnifying glass. . . but not very well.

I agree with everything Rex said. Easy enough, crap fill, might as well have been themeless. The circles were no darn help at all, just confused me, really they were an interference.

Knew Anspach, so didn't even learn anything useful. SERIN, really?

As I look over the grid, there was little to like: ALICE'S, SIMCITY, ANGST, a LATTE.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:33 AM  

What Rex said. Clever construction, but solving was all 73 A.

Glad to read that NANCI Griffith is a talented singer, as I had never heard of her and she was my last fill once it dawned on me that 81 D, Tapers, briefly, were neither candles nor narrowing geometric figures!

I don't usually note my captcha, (actually, I wish no one would :-) ) but on this Sunday it is "bible"!

Jon 8:00 AM  

A couple of weeks ago, I complained about the negativity of some of the posts, but, my goodness, was it justified today. This is one of the ugliest puzzles I've ever seen. I would more accurately describe the theme as "crappy crosswordese/partials/obscure nouns/tortured constructions" with an ancillary theme of circled letters doing mildly interesting things. Really, I can't find ONE answer that really pops.

The irony is that on Friday night, I was hanging out with some new people, and one of them was a younger fellow who had a book of crosswords with him. He mentioned that he had been getting really into xwords, so his girlfriend had gotten him this particular book. It was one of those cheapo National Observer crossword books, and as I started looking at the puzzles, I was stunned/appalled by the musty, awkward crosswordese. (ANELE, anybody?) So, as an older & wiser crossword fan, I gave him a whole spiel about how he should forget about such crappy books and instead do the good puzzles, like BEQ, Fireball, and, of course, the NY Times. I think I even said something about the NYT puzzle being a "gold standard" that would "never abide" such crappy fill.

I feel bad if he decided to take my advice and do today's. It would fit right in to one of those pulpy Walgreen's books.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Don't hold back, Rex. What do you really think?

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

You people...when you struggle, you think it's crappy, when you do it easily it's clever.
The idea of doing these things, IMNSHO, is to increase your ability. The 'crappy' puzzles do that.

Jon 8:51 AM  
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Jon 8:54 AM  

Re: Anonymous @8:41 - Struggle had nothing to do with it. This was an easy puzzle, well under my normal time. Honestly, struggle is usually good; I want interesting words/phrases, elegance of construction, cleverness of theme. Those are the qualities that make a puzzle good, imho, and usually increase its toughness. Bring it on.

"Crappy" means short little not-in-the-language fill, longer answers that seem forced (NOMADISM, BOTTOM FISH, TEA TASTER, the THE hanging out on THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE, I could go on and on), partials, outdated slang...I'm sorry if I seem all worked up, but this was just a turd festival.

SethG 9:04 AM  

I was gonna write the exact first paragraph that Jon just wrote.

Ended at SExIx/MASTx/BExx. CDRS is ugly, MASTx is a prefix that could end in just about any vowel, couldn't infer the BE NO, and had no memory of ever hearing of SERIN. That corner's much worse than YSLOSORICSAK to me.

Rex Parker 9:28 AM  

Did this puzzle in 11:25. Note the "Easy-Medium" rating. No real "struggle."

mac 9:30 AM  

A slog, alright. Not even Wednesday-level, with only about 2 exceptions.

Funny situation with the cornerstone at 15D. Until Lionel forced himself in I figured you would have a date at a cornerstore.
I first wanted Calvin for Lionel.

Ulrich 9:58 AM  

I'm normally more tolerant of crappy fill--so, it must be really bad if I keep repeating to myself, "oh no!", or "please, no!". On the other hand, I really, really liked the theme--location, to me, meant that you had to look for the location of whatever was identified in an answer--but then again, I'm on record for liking self-referential stuff.

As to Klee: One of the quintessential Bauhaus Masters. Was hired by Gropius and spent a decade or so there, teaching the fundamentals of form and color. His influence was particularly strong on the weavers. Shared a house with Kandinsky, where he painted some of his best-known stuff, like the fishers at night, applying exactly the lessons he taught. The prepared a text, Pedagogical Sketchbook (Pädagogisches Skizzenbuch), that is used to the present day in graphics classes, an absolutely lovely piece of work, not the less b/c he illustrated it himself

Ulrich 10:02 AM more word on the theme: What I liked, inter alia, is that it systematically enumerates the distinct "locations" a grid has: Top, bottom, side, middle, and corner.

joho 10:13 AM  

"- the room is a DEN" says it all.

r.alphbunker 10:17 AM  

Comparing solving a crossword puzzle to death is giving hyperbole a bad name. Perhaps the strain of 4 years is starting to show on RP.

I like the puzzle because I like layered themes that play with self-reference.

Layout is a better abstraction than location. The answers refer to how the circled words are laid out in the grid.

I didn't really notice the crosswordese. But then again I didn't notice da[m]n/to[m]y in spite of the fact that the software did not congratulate me when I finished.

chefbea 10:17 AM  

I agree - easy but ugly puzzle!!

wanted pate for dinner spread

@Mac I too had corner store at first.

And finally a country singer clue!!! I too like country western music

chaos1 10:28 AM  

I agree. Very easy but just plain poor, for all the reasons mentioned. NOMADISM was awful ! The theme held no pizazz whatsoever.

RATEL, is deeply embedded in my word locker, and SERIN was common crosswordese in the Maleska era. Other than that, the few posers were easily gettable through crosses.

I usually hate to see constructors get ripped this bad. The last time I remember it happening, was the infamous Tim Croce puzzle. He deserved it, and I think he learned his lesson.

That being said, this puzzle was obviously not an effort in self aggrandizement, but seems rather to have been a lack of effort in good construction and fill. In other words, laziness.

So, I'll give you a pass on this one Pamela, but don't let it happen again! Lol.

CoffeeLvr 10:36 AM  

@Mac, I too put Calvin before LIONEL. As a KC native I should know C. Trillin, if not L. Trilling. Although I did correct myself, and LT is vaguely familiar.

Jon88 10:39 AM  

Once again, we note that Will receives between 75 and 100 puzzle submissions a week, and keep in mind that most of them were worse than this. I may have skimmed past it, but did anyone note the difference between direct (LINES / LINES) and indirect (DRESSING / MAYO) themers? Sigh.

Matthew G. 10:44 AM  
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Matthew G. 10:46 AM  

The only thing I enjoyed about this puzzle was looking forward to Rex skewering it, and I'm glad to see he hated everything I did about it. Very appropriate that SLOGS was in the grid, because this was one of the worst such on a Sunday ever, not because of difficulty but because of all-around lameness.

Big ditto on hating AENEAS -- refused to accept it initially because I thought it had to be a trap given "Homeric" in the clue -- AARON, MCLI.

But even worse than all of those -- WADES IN??? That is the _opposite_ of "begins energetically"! It means "begins tentatively," at least to me.

Easily my least favorite Sunday in a long time.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Definitely didn't feel the anger of some of the solvers but agree with Rex's ANGST about AENEAS. I also couldn't fathom how WADEIN could be described as "energetically". Other than that I thought the puzzle was fun---2 Melville themed clues!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:09 AM  

Happy to have a chance to defend one tiny aspect of a puzzle I didn't really like overall:

@Matthew G and @twins4reading -- When a swimmer "wades in", he is being timid or tentative. But as Wiktionary says, in other circumstances, the meaning is different:

wade in

1. To interrupt someone, or a situation, by doing or saying something abruptly, or forcefully, and usually without thinking about the consequences.

The Federal Reserve is under pressure to wade in with an emergency interest rate cut.

And, darn it, another captcha that I must cite: placates!

DB Geezer 11:09 AM  

If I agree with all that's been said, should I add another you betcha?
Didn't understand the alleged theme until Rex pointed it out. But till then I was clueless about MEN, LAT, LE, IM, SENIL, ENO, STO.

punclest this describes this puzzle fairly well

(sorry Bob Kerfuffle)

Neil 11:10 AM  

I download these puzzles from the NY Times web site. Some of your comments suggest you can immediately unlock the solution, yet to my knowledge the answer key isn't available until the next day. How are you able to unlock the puzzle's solution prior to getting the answer key?

Norm 11:21 AM  

@ Neil I think maybe if you solve online (I don't), it tells you upon completion whether you are correct or not -- the way many/most of the unlocked puzzles on the web do. If you solve in AcrossLite, you have to wait until the next day.

Norm 11:23 AM  

Oh .. and I agree with everything Rex said. This was on the medium side for me, and I would have struggled in places except for the crossword-ese so I was actually grateful to see my old friend SERIN, for example. But, all in all, just not fun.

archaeoprof 11:25 AM  

I agree with Rex about both AENEAS and NANCI Griffith!

VaBeach puzzler 11:59 AM  

I agree the fill was lousy but I enjoyed the puzzle. Very Sunday-ISH. Or Sunday-IERE. But .. how is WADES IN (13d) "begins energetically"? Wouldn't that be DIVES IN?

Andy 12:06 PM  

A den of awfulness from the moment I waded in. Mile after (square) mile of painful lines. Who's minding the (corner) store these days? Did Will have a mental block when he approved this puzzle? Maybe there's room at the top for a new editor! :)

hazel 12:06 PM  

The horror. The horror.

With apologies to @Joho, cluing AARON as "First Name Alphabetically in the Baseball Hall of Fame" and then to have the self-referential "location" be THEMANINTHEMIDDLE - well, for me, that says it all.

chefwen 12:14 PM  

Good Golly, it's great to be home, spent the last two weeks in the Midwest power cooking for "da folks", hope it gets them through the winter, because I am not going back until I get the "all clear" that all that nasty white stuff they get is gone.

Was able to keep up with all the puzzles while I was away but only got to check up on you all when my husband stepped away from his Ipad for more than 10 minutes. Boys and their toys.

Was too weary to do Saturday's puzzle, but read all your comments on the great blogaversary. I would like to add my appreciation to Rex's site and say that it is a big part of my day. @Smitty said it best and @Foodie, as always, stated the facts so eloquently.

About today's puzzle, Rex said it all. Got 'er done but there was no joy. Gimmick meant nothing and didn't help me at all.

Norm 12:16 PM  
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Norm 12:22 PM  

Actually, the more I look back at this puzzle, the more I can see what there is to like in it. It's a cute concept, e.g., STONE wrapping around the lower CORNER exactly where you would expect the CORNERSTONE to be, but I think maybe it failed in its execution in many respects (wholly apart from the mundane fill). MENTAL is organized in a reasonable BLOCK, but MILE reading clockwise in a SQUARE from the lower right is not where I would think to start reading, and LINES reading upward to the left to get SLANTED is more like a find-a-word puzzle than an NYT Sunday crossword. And, shouldn't there have been a way to make ROOMATTHETOP be ATTIC? I don't think I've ever seen a DEN on the top floor. And, if the idea was to have the circles somehow be an aid in solving -- rather than just an afterthought "Gee, how cute" -- then I think it would have helped to make it clear[er] in some way (I am no constructor) that the circled letters weren't just described by an answer "elsewhere" in the grid (which could be anywhere for crying out loud) but by an answer that would nominally be thought of as a theme answer (if that makes sense). Oh well, I'm going to give Pamela an E for effort, but ... eh.

From the folks that brought you random roman numerals 12:29 PM  

The old system classified stars from A-P, which now is only used as a crutch for constructors.

Today, stars are classified using the letters O, B, A, F, G, K and M. (Note the lack of "N")


Orange 12:34 PM  

Rex and I don't often see so directly eye to eye on a given crossword. But today? Oh, yes. Uncharacteristically unpleasant for both this constructor (we see her byline more often in the L.A. Times) and for the NYT.

The disconnect between LINES, BLOCK, STONE, and MILE being themselves and the other circled words being half-assed examples of things bugged me. All one or all the other—not 3 from one theme and 5 from an entirely different theme. TOPAZ or AGATE as the CORNERSTONE would've been nice. A fancier fish than EEL would have been cool; maybe even an actual bottom feeder like FLOUNDER. And then the MAYO. No. DRESSING ON THE SIDE means salad dressing, like ranch or vinaigrette. If you get mayo on the side, you are probably having a sandwich, not salad. If you order a sandwich and ask for "dressing on the side," I will say that you speak a different sort of English from me.

I could do without the ERSE OMOO EGER MASTO-fest, too.

Van55 12:38 PM  

What the host said. Last Klawitter puzzle was, as I recall, damned fine. This one just had no sparkle or fun.

David L 12:40 PM  

Agree with general dislike here. I mean, it wasn't a very interesting puzzle, and then when you finish you're supposed to do this extra chore of figuring out how the words in circles connect to something somewhere else. Is there a prize? Who cares?

Well, I'm extra cranky because I have to work all weekend and I thought I would take a break to do the crossword and it wasn't much fun, and now I have to get back to work. Boo boo boo boo....

Mel Ott 12:53 PM  

A flounder is definitely a BOTTOM FISH, but those invasive Asian carp jumping six feet out of the water in the Mississippi R. system don't look like BOTTOM FISH to me.

Are we absolutely positive the rapper doesn't spell his name RYC?

Gotta go. Time for football.

Masked and Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Har. Good to see 44 back in full, unadulterated snark. Usually, I'd try to mount a case for the defense, but today, think I'll pass. Day of rest, and all . . .

Had CORNERSTOrE crossin' LIOrEL in our completed grid. Dumb dumb dumb. SunPuzs are just too dern big to go back and audit, I guess.

They said over at the Wordplay blog earlier this week that Will's stack of Sunday puzs was pretty low. This could be a golden opportunity for 44 to get a big grid published at the NYTPuz. Worth a tidy grand, if he wants to give it a go.

Only thing about makin' a SunPuz: constructor friend Erul says it really wrings you out. Felt like he'd wrote an epic novel, and could barely remember the story, when he was done. Had to build and clue a few 11 x local rag grids afterward, just to get his nerve back.

Hi-Yo, BOTTOMFISH, away . . .

Shamik 1:02 PM  

Solved as an easy-medium, but no joy in mudville. Meh for all the reasons Rex cited. Off to the shower and then watch football or watch the rain.

PuzzleNut 1:06 PM  

What @orange said re STONE. The NE was my last fill as I couldn't believe the answer up there was CORNERSTONE. Same with AARON and so many other things that others have pointed out.
I'll repeat one of my comments from yesterday's puzzle. Not one crappy fill in that puzzle (and a Saturday at that). Here we have an fairly easy Sunday with more crappy fill than you usually see in a whole week. Amazing!

foodie 1:18 PM  


But I loved: "I'm an idealist without illusions" as the cluing for KENNEDY.

Harry 1:24 PM  

This puzzle says one of two things to me: this constructor had a decent idea but desperately needed a collaborator to help with the fill or the puzzle should have been trimmed to a 15 X 15 to use the four or five theme answers that actually worked. Either way, it would have been a better puzzle - I liked "Room at the top" and "Dressing on the side" etc, but the other theme answers were forced to the point of being nonsensical. And then there's IN ON/ON ME/ME NO/BE NO/NOT ME . . . ridiculous.

jae 1:27 PM  

Easy and what everyone else has said. @Rex--I think CHIS should go in your list of strange plurals.

Rube 2:27 PM  

New words for me were CASSIA, SERIN, & Manx as a language. I'll probably remember Manx, but the others... poof, gone. Just as this puzzle should have been at birth.

At least it was doable. Would have been a real bummer to have had a DNF on such a loser.

PIX 2:36 PM  

An observation: @124A: Yes,"mastO" can mean in mastopexy["mammoplasty to correct a pendulous breast"] or mastopathy[disease of breast] or mastocarcinoma[tumor of breast] but the much more commonly used words such as mastectomy or mastitis[inflammation of breast} do not use the mastO form...

George NYC 2:43 PM  

This is one of those days where I rejoice at the existence of this blog. This puzzle just pissed me off until I finally asked myself, "Why are you doing this?" So nice to have Rex et al as a reality check.

Homeric hero = Aeneas is at best misleading, at worse, just plain wrong. If the Aeneid had never been written, maybe it would pass. But as Rex says, Aeneas is a minor character (compared to others) in Homer's The Iliad. It's like cluing the Mona Lisa as "painting that once hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

Jon88 3:24 PM  

Not to defend this puzzle, but the DRESSING ON THE SIDE is coming under undue attack. MAYO is a dressing, and it's on the side of the grid. There's no reason to read that particular phrase in its standard meaning that refers to a salad as pertains to the puzzle gimmick.

Steve J 3:59 PM  

I was actually quite impressed by this puzzle.

I mean, having a puzzle that incorporates nearly every possible thing I hate in crosswords is very impressive. There were circles, there was excessive self-referential cluing, there was a random Roman numeral, there was a letter clue (3D), there were semi-obscure crossings of the same type (in this case cities with AGRA/EGER), there were tons of partials, there were several abbreviations, there were non-standard abbreviations (hell, in the military, they abbreviate "commander" as Cmdr, not CDR, so cluing that in a military context is especially poor), and tons of bad crosswordese.

Any of those can be forgivable and even enjoyable in a well-done puzzle. When you thrown them all together, it is impressive. Just not in a good way.

SLOG, indeed. (Although an easy one; one of my quickest Sundays ever, adding further refutation to Anon 8:41 a.m.'s incorrect point.)

Joel Fagliano 4:06 PM  

I don't usually comment, but this was the worst crossword I have ever seen in the NYT. Just ridiculously bad, on so many levels. Never have I seen a puzzle with not a single interesting word or phrase. I wonder if the selection of Sunday puzzles was really so bad that Will needed to accept this one. It was just awful

George NYC 4:37 PM  
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PurpleGuy 5:45 PM  

The writeup by our leader is THE BEST part of today's puzzle. This was an awful slog.

Thanks for making me laugh, Rex. I agreed with everything you said.

Now for some imbibing, and a toast to @Tinbeni.

Shanti -


Stan 7:11 PM  

Well, okay, this puzzle was not a big hit, and for good reasons (see above). But I take exception to calling it 'lazy' construction. If anything, the theme is too high-concept (I don't think I can even paraphrase the theme, but I've certainly never seen it before). So the constructor tried something really original and couldn't quite make it work. Not a terrible thing.

hazel 8:57 PM  

@Stan - very well put!

PurpleGuy 9:29 PM  

@Stan - I'm sorry but not only did the constructor not make it work, it completely makes no sense.
For all of the reasons stated earlier.

I've been doing the NYT puzzles for well over 50 yrs. , and this hit near the bottom, if not the very bottom.

michael 10:54 PM  

Usually when most commentators dislike a puzzle, my contrarian instincts make me want to defend the puzzle, point out how hard construction is, etc. But while I was doing this I thought "Rex is going to hate this one." But then I realized that I didn't like the puzzle either...

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

Theme was a waste. I filled every space without figuring it out and i'm a relative novice.

nurturing 2:43 AM  

Well, I dunno....I finished this one faster than any other NYT Sunday (the only puzzle I do) - one hour and 20 minutes instead of 2 hours or days. And no googling. I usually don't have to google anymore, but some of this September's puzzles had me doing so.

Now, don't have disdain for me just because I can't solve a Sunday puzzle in 9 minutes. I don't ever want to solve a puzzle that quickly. Where's the fun in that?

Sam 7:36 AM  

Can anyone explain why XXX = chis ?

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

O.K. It wasn't the best puzzle but it kept me busy for almost an hour and I thought the theme was fun (though as someone pointed out, some of the theme answers were direct and others not). Plus any puzzle with Nanci Griffith as an answer makes me happy.

My bigger peeve, and I hate to seem thin-skinned, is when some people on a public forum make abscure references back and forth that only some of them get -- like "YSLOSORICSAK." What the hell is that? And if I am better off not knowing it, then your blog would be better not to refer to it -- right?

Socrates 9:31 AM  

@Sam - chi Χ χ
Third Letter of the Greek Alphabet.
Or as we say in Greek, another crappy clue/answer in a puzzle which was greatly unloved.

Socrates 9:34 AM  

Oops! Should be "Third letter from the end of the Greek alphabet."

Socrates 9:42 AM  

@Anonymous 8:18 AM - Rex did say in his write-up, "Rare appearance today by YSLOSORICSAK, who is, of course, OOXTEPLERNON's wily (and possibly Icelandic) henchman and representative on earth. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you're probably better off."

OOXTEPLERNON is a name this blog has given to really bad three-letter fill, from a puzzle which had the four entries OOX, TEP, LER and NON. He/she is the god of lousy fill. You could Google it, I'm sure.

Every blog will have its jargon, and the newcomer will catch on as he participates in the dialog. Stick with us; it's a lot of fun.

Socrates 9:48 AM  

Did this post?

@Anonymous 8:18 AM - Rex did say in his write-up, "Rare appearance today by YSLOSORICSAK, who is, of course, OOXTEPLERNON's wily (and possibly Icelandic) henchman and representative on earth. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you're probably better off."

OOXTEPLERNON is a name this blog has given to really bad three-letter fill, from a puzzle which had the four entries OOX, TEP, LER and NON. He/she is the god of lousy fill. You could Google it, I'm sure.

Every blog will have its jargon, and the newcomer will catch on as he participates in the dialog. Stick with us; it's a lot of fun.

Laying Doggo 1:21 PM  

@Sam: X is a Greek chi

@Anonymouse: Look closely at the bottom four entries in the lower left hand corner, (aka the SW).

Anonymous 9:44 PM  


Thank you!

I feel like I should have figured that out -- now you know why it takes me an hour to do the Sunday puzzle.

Dirigonzo 8:00 PM  

I didn't like this puzzle much while I was doing it, but when I came here and learned how clever the theme is (despite everybody's nits that needed to be picked), gosh darn it now I think the constructor deserves a break! OK, YSLOSORICSAK is pretty ugly (and thanks to @Socrates for the explanation of OOXTEPLERNON), and MAYO was definitely the weakest theme answer, but come - wasn't the corner STONE in the SE pretty ingenious?

Jen 11:42 AM  

I agree generally, but the location refered to the placement of the circled word in some clues and the placement of the circled letters in others.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I agree with a lot of the previous comments. However, I cannot totally dump on this thing because I actually found it easier than many of the puzzles at this level I've attempted in the past. Being able to do it makes it more palatable!

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