Broom made of twigs / WED 2-22-12 / TV courtroom drama 1986-94 / Juana de la Cruz Mexican poet/nun / Biblical fellow who was distressed / Occupation of idle man distraction of warrior Napoleon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Constructor: Karen Young Bonin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: Yore kidding, right? — Familiar phrases are tweaked to create "medieval tournament" (in this case, jousting) puns.

Word of the Day: BESOM (18A: Broom made of twigs) —
n.
  1. A bundle of twigs attached to a handle and used as a broom.
  2. Sports. The broom used to sweep the ice from the path of a curling stone.
[Middle English, from Old English besma.]
• • •

Unbearable on at least two levels. First, the puns. I'm no pun-lover. No pun-lover, I. But I figure I can tolerate them now and again. But these barely qualify. The best "KNIGHTS" pun you could get is KNIGHTS GOING??? LANCES is supposed to pun on "lenses?" I'm just supposed to accept the second "S" in LISTS WE FORGET? The only one of these four that actually works is JOUST KIDDING, and even that necessitates a kind of tortured clue, since the grammar of it doesn't work out very neatly. But maybe corny, awkward, and highly inexact puns are your cup of tea. It happens. If so, then I have to ask if BESOM is also your cup of tea. There is absolutely no excuse for that crusty, useless hunk of old-time crosswordese to be in this puzzle. None. That's a three-minute rewrite, tops. What in god's name!? Also, please tell me what XOX is doing in this grid? The [Tic-tac-toe loser] clue is the last refuge of a desperate constructor, but usually he/she has something to be desperate about, i.e. nothing else will work, I'm holding up some golden "X" words, one of which is a theme answer, etc. Here ... There Is No Excuse. I know, Xs are pretty, but not this pretty. Not when they occur *only* in crosswordese (in both directions!). Why not go whole hog and make 63D all Xs (XXX) and make 68A a Roman numeral? I mean, since the only criterion for quality down there seems to be "maximum Xs."



Love DELOREAN (10D: "Back to the Future" transport) and SLIPSHOD (39D: Sloppy). That is precisely all that I love. Nope, wait. I kinda like the clue on SAMSON (9D: Biblical fellow who was distressed?). Though I probably would've gone with another word besides "fellow" (see FELLA, 43A: "The Most Happy ___").

Theme answers:
  • 20A: End of some medieval tournament action? (KNIGHTS GOING)
  • 27A: Weapons that hit in a medieval tournament? (CONTACT LANCES)
  • 48A: Really boring medieval tournaments? (LISTS WE FORGET)
  • 53A: Joking around at a medieval tournament? (JOUST KIDDING)
My wife is dubious that anyone would ever refer to more than one TRIB(s) (29D: Some daily papers, informally). "How many are there?" "Well, there's Chicago, and ... Miami Herald-___? I don't know." She also had to run the alphabet at the "G" in GUCK (22D: Crud). Don't even talk to her about GUCK. She's not hearing it right now.

Bullets:
  • 68A: "The occupation of the idle man, the distraction of the warrior, theperil of the sovereign," per Napoleon (LOVE) — TLDR
  • 23D: Chow down on (SCARF) — I had EAT UP
  • 30D: TV courtroom drama, 1986-94 ("L.A. LAW") — Gimme. Super popular in my pre-internet college days. Must-see TV. That and "Twin Peaks."
  • 31D: Start or finish of an aphorism regarding justice (AN EYE) — a bit too much of this partial-y stuff. AN EYE, AS IT, I'M ON, TO DIE, IN NO. I take it back. There's *way* too much of this partial-y stuff. Inexcusable. Can't remember last time I saw five partials in a simple 76-worder.
  • 59D: Juana ___ de la Cruz, Mexican poet/nun (INES — not sure whether it was "S" or "Z" until TOMES (70A: Heavy reading) set me straight. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS My university's research magazine published this video of me yesterday, in advance of an article/interview that comes out later this month. (I believe the "urban invader" mentioned in the video turned out to be "ROACH")


146 comments:

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy except for taking way to long to change MUCK to GUCK (isn't it GUNK?).  The closest thing to zippy was DELOREAN.  To bad this one had to follow Caleb's.  It's not in the same ball park. 

There is also aTRIB (sorta ... Union-TRIB) in San Diego.

r.alphbunker 12:23 AM  

I guess it is always fun to go from WTF to AHA. Getting obscure puns is one way. Another way is
WTF->ATF->ALF->ELF->ELM->ULM->UVM->UVA->AVA->AHA.

Never heard of LISTS. Post-googling revealed "The lists, or list field, is the arena where a jousting event was held. More precisely, it is the roped off enclosure where tournament fighting takes place"

Using a browser that lets you increase the size of the page helps with the CAPTCHA.

Pete 12:28 AM  

GUNK is an answer far superior to GUCK. The hand cleanser Gunk is a resounding gel, hold the tub in your hand and give it a rap. It's the second sexiest goop there is.

If you're going to make a pun on 'lest we forget', you better make a damned good one. LISTSWEFORGET doesn't reach that plateau.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth refers to proportionality. It is a statement about justice, but it usually gets used in terms of vengance, which are rarely the same.

I found this puzzle painful.

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

Funny write-up, Rex.

"But maybe corny, awkward, and highly inexact puns are your cup of tea."

That's me. Corny. Awkward. Highly Inexact. I take them with sugar and lemon.

I've seen better puns but for a dreary Chicago winter day these will do.

Oh, BTW, Rex, isn't the clue for Samson a pun? And you like that one...hmmm....

JFC

PS. I STILL HATE YOUR ROBOT CENSORS!

foodie 12:45 AM  

Rex's post was fun. The puzzle was an opportunity for me to try and complete the last phase of my full Americanization (40 years into the process). Puns! I am so bad at them that I can hardly tell when they're bad. I mean, is that not supposed to be the point, that they're bad? I'm sure the discussion will be part of my continuing punical education.

I loved watching your video, Rex. What were the urban invaders starting with R? Did you say and I missed it? ROACHES?

Rube 12:49 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one despite the puns, groaners that they were. b\But then, aren't puns supposed to be groaned at. However, as @Anonymous 12:37 pointed out, the best pun was the clue for SAMSON, IMO.

Had to guess the DEBI/BESOM cross as I'll bet most of us pop-culture-challenged types did.

Couldn't believe that GUCK was a real word, so checked it out. Yes, indeed, it's in Webster's. It's also in the Urban dictionary, but I strongly advise against looking up that definition. Just plain nasty.

Rube 12:54 AM  

Thinking about it, Will's had run-ins with the Urban dictionary before, but this one definitely will be a BLOT on his rep.

Deb 12:56 AM  

When I went to enter the final letter in the grid, I fully expected to be told I had an error, because I just couldn't believe LISTS WE MAY FORGET and GUCK could possibly be correct; the former because it was much too tortured and the latter because it seemed a completely made up word. Now I think it might be a perfectly good word to describe messy, contrived, drecky crossword fill.

GUCK!, I say.

pk 12:57 AM  

And here the princess was all ready to be rescued...from...what?...really silly puns? Alas! Knights Going, Rex.

andrea joust kidding michaels 12:57 AM  

Hand up for not knowing what a LIST was, in terms of jousting, so a pun on a word I don't know is not quite a knee-slapper.
Surprised this is in the NY Times, but you can never tell what will tickle Will, since 80% of my rejections are bec the theme didn't "tickle" him...
Maybe medaeval (sp?) sport is the way to his funny bone! Did they have ping pong back then?

31D altho long and awkward is helpful to note as a constructor...now I know how to clue those entries/partials that repeat words at the beginning and end.
ANEYE for ANEYE, TOBE or not TOBE.
Hmmm, I feel a theme coming on!
So that's reaosn to like this puzzle after all!

Video was interesting...congrats, @rex! Do I detect a manicure???!
(that's probably tax-deductable if you get filmed a lot solving puzzles!)
And your double headed eraser/gavel pencil?! Must be cute story behind that, no?

chefwen 1:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
foodie 1:21 AM  

Yeah, like Andrea, I liked that eraser/gavel, Rex!

My husband and I were co-chairing a committee, and someone gave us a gavel with two handles, and the gavel splits apart when you try and bang it.

Oh, I meant to add that I liked starting with GRAB and GAB!

Doing an usual type of puzzle from last Sundays NY Times Magazine by BEQ. Genius!

chefwen 1:25 AM  

Pretty much agree with our leader on this one.

Had GUnK in at 22D and wondered what CONTACT LANNES were, changed it to GUCK and like others had to look it up to see that it actually was a word.

My troublesome area was in the Southwest where I had put SLaPdash at 39D, took me a long time to sort that mess out. ST. LO finally put me on the right path.

davko 1:28 AM  

Felt more like a Monday -- Tuesday at best -- because that's how I'd rank any puzzle in which I can fill in nearly every clue without the help of a cross.

TRIB and GUCK are verifiable words, but who's ever heard either in the real world? Right up there with CAGER and GRIDIRON in the category of rarely spoken crosswordese.

Liked the video, Rex -- now let's see one in real time!

Jakarta Dan 1:34 AM  

GUCK = no, no, no.

Why not just switch GUCK to DUCK, 13D SANG to SANK? 20A becomes Medieval fender bender: KNIGHTS DOINK (pun on the everyday, common phrase "nice doink," as said when a co-worker narrowly misses an across-the-office shot on a trash can with a wadded up piece of paper).

And besom should be something else. (Oh, yes, the puns can get ugly very quickly, can't they?)

Evan 1:34 AM  

22-Down could have been changed to GACY, as in the surname of the famous murderer John Wayne ___, and that would have made 35-Across a repeat of yesterday's YATES action. But then, maybe having a serial killer in one's grid is far less preferable than a word as unrecognizable as GUCK.

Like @Rube and perhaps several others, my last letter in the puzzle was the B at the DEBI/BESOM crossing. Total lucky guess, that. And yet another hand up for having no idea that LIST referred to a jousting arena.

Since this puzzle is all about puns, why stop at just the theme answers and the clue at SAMSON? XOX could have been clued as "Game console for a big dumb animal?"

Greg Charles 1:56 AM  

I would have liked a video that showed Rex solving in real time. I can't even conceive of doing a 78-ish word crossword in under three minutes, which Rex does routinely. I'd love a demo.

I've been away for a few days and just catching up, so if I could moan about something from last week for a sec ... there's no such thing as a betel nut. Betel leaves are mixed with areca nuts and lime (the mineral) for chewing.

retired_chemist 2:29 AM  

I generally like puns. These leave me cold. Fill is blah, except for the several aforementioned. TGFL.*

*Thank God for Lunesta.

MaryBR 3:32 AM  

What was egregious about XOX was how easy the fix was. Change it to BOX/ABEL. How easy is that?

Eejit 4:02 AM  

I thought I detected a manicure as well. Pedicure too? Maybe it makes your hands more aerodynamic for a faster solve. Funny to watch though.

Matt Ginsberg 4:28 AM  

Sorry for being somewhat off topic; this is actually in response to a question from last Saturday. As a bunch of people know, I've been working on a program called "Dr. Fill" that solves crossword puzzles. Dr.Fill will be participating at the ACPT this year, and I'm getting ever more questions about it. To help answer them, Dr.Fill is now on Twitter (@drfill1), which I'll use to tweet comments during ACPT itself, and there is a Facebook page alsol: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Fill/233234086770190?sk=wall&filter=1

Please feel free to like the Facebook page and follow the Twitter

Anonymous 4:53 AM  

Here you go old timers!

Yesterday's puzzle leave you out in the cold? Well have no fear cause this puzzle is for you!

You know Lou Dobbs right? Well there he is, second answer in at 5A!

Seriously though, a stinker of a puzzle.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

A lot of this seemed inept. What seemed worst for me was the use of joust and jest in the SW. That was awkward. And yes, guck.

efrex 7:49 AM  

Having JOKE instead of JEST and SLAPDASH instead of SLIPSHOD made for a very long slog in the SW. I'm a sucker for puns, so the theme answers were actually not too bad for me (except for LISTSWEFORGET), but I'm with the others on GUCK and the DEBI/BESOM cross.

References to one of the most sublime musicals of all time (Most Happy FELLA) and one of the most absurd ones (AIDA) in the same puzzle made me a bit twitchy as well, but that's probably just me...

joho 8:00 AM  

Rex's writeup is right on today.

I actually groaned out loud after getting KNIGHTSGOING and it went downhill from there. Or, more accurately, down the grid.

For a second I tried to anagram LISTS into TILTS to make sense of that.

I had one error at GUnK and wondered what LANnes were. I figured they paired up perfectly with LISTS.

I loved this puzzle: JOUSTKIDDING!

(@Rex, really did love your video. Urban invaders have to be ROACHES, right?)

exaudio 8:01 AM  

Why do I not get the pun in "Knights Going?"

SethG 8:04 AM  

Why just one joust?

Actually, I don't care. Excruciating.

John V 8:06 AM  

Hurrah for GUCK, today's autonym! Yes, you're welcome for damning with faint praise.

Liked 4D Hamper, kept thinking, "to hinder, to stick in guck." Good indirection.

The corners are a problem because there's only one cross going in. Is this an artifact of the theme lengths, 12, 13,13, 12 and the difficulty of placing these, what Patrick Berry refers to as, "inconvenient length(s)" answers? Constructors?

6D is a shout out to me; I am not making this up.

DEBI Mazar/BESOM crossing nearly Naticked me, save for the luck guess on 'B'esom.

Re: satanic captcha: Thanks r.alphbunker for the resize suggestion. That does help. However, I notice that the comment box can no longer be resized. Others seeing this?

foodie 8:09 AM  

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/15/BUSO1N712E.DTL&type=tech

If you have not seen it, an article on Dr.Fill. I think it's such a cool idea! I'd be curious to know how many of the strategies mirror what humans do, vs. how many are quite different and rely on sheer memory and search capacities...

John V 8:11 AM  

Sorry, forgot to say that I enjoyed @Rex in the video! Thanks for that.

Z 8:14 AM  

If there was a Mystery Science Theater 3000 for crossword puzzles this puzzle would be ready for viewing by me and my robot pals.

DEBI seemed the most likely actress's name for DE-I, so I got that right. BESOM seems vaguely familiar after the fact.

My first thought for Newsman Lou was Grant. Granted, I've only seen excerpts of Dobbs, but he seems an equally fictional newsman from the little I've seen.

captcha is two words, no blotch, and neither clearly from a text. The Borg are definitely on to me.

David 8:19 AM  

In contrast to Monday's and Tuesday's excellent puzzles, today's did very little for me. I also am a big fan of puns, but these weren't just groaners, they weren't funny (tho yes, JOUST KIDDING was decent, and reminded me of the humorous, surprisingly touching movie Role Models).

Almost didn't change the M to G in GUCK - I was ready to accept MOING as some play off of a cow sound or a lawn mower doing its thing. Had LISTLESS at the front of LISTS WE FORGET for a little while, thought something funny might arise out of that. But no. Ended up with a pretty good Wednesday time, but with little joy in solving.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Rex has detailed well the defects of this puzzle -- bad puns and unnecessary crosswordese. However "TRIBS" might well be used by a newsstand owner: "The tribs have arrived".

Probably I'm not the only constructor who thinks: "How can they print this and reject mine."

GW

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Rex has detailed well the defects of this puzzle -- bad puns and unnecessary crosswordese. However "TRIBS" might well be used by a newsstand owner: "The tribs have arrived".

Probably I'm not the only constructor who thinks: "How can they print this and reject mine."

GW

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

As an OT, I have to wonder about your pencil grip, there, Rex. And why don't you solve in ink?

Sue McC 8:35 AM  

Wow, Rex, how do you really feel about the puzzle? Lol.

BESOM, GUCK, XOX, *and* lousy puns?

Groan.

dk 8:35 AM  

This one is going to throw off my numbers. A hated Wednesday preceeded by a pleasent Tuesday. Think bizzaro world.

Sorry Karen. I did not 68A this one.

I did like TOAD.

* (1 Star) GUCK

Campesite 8:38 AM  

Finally home from a long winter's journey, looking forward to the first puzzle I've done on the day of its publishing in weeks, and this is the garbage I get? Add mine to the chorus of 17A's.

Is there a Razzie counterpart to the Oryx awards, Bad Pun category? I nominate this puzzle.

Sparky 8:44 AM  

Haven't done puzzle yet. This is a test on friend's computer. On my old clunker haven't been able to post for a week. Hope I can fix the problem.

AnnieD 8:44 AM  

Meh puzz...i agree with others comments about it. And for some reason I always want to spell it SAMpSON...

Fun video...only it left the question unanswered...was the urban invader starting with R RATS?

jberg 8:57 AM  

JOUST KIDDING was my first theme answer, so I thought the theme was "add a letter to make a wacky phrase," and therefore thought 20A must be some phrase about NIGHTS - but I was finally brought around by the crosses, after the plural LISTS could no longer be avoided.

I had mUCK, and wrote it over with KNIGHTS GOING, never seeing the resulting GUCK, so that didn't bother me. (@ExAudio, see @pk 12:57 AM for the pun in context).

BESOM /DEBI was a total guess. I was tempted by DEMI, but mESOM seemed less likely. I guess I had heard the word, but thought it was some kind of jewel(so it was really only a 98% guess).

I'll have to come back to watch the video - rushed at the moment.

Rex Parker 9:10 AM  

Urban invader was probably ROACH. If you want to see people solving the puzzle superfast, in real time, there are plenty of youtube videos of that.

Here's Tyler:

http://youtu.be/vxHNvVZo16M

rp

Jp 9:13 AM  

I watched the video clip. You are so cool. Nothing like the mean and critical guy you come across in some of your write-ups.
I agree fully with your critique. Needed some googling and "going through the alphabet" kind of drill to finish up the puzzle. I still don't see a unifying concept to the theme answers. I had TORAH for KORAN for the longest time. Also had GUnK instead of GUCK. Almost got naticked at the intersection of BOSH and BESOM. Never heard of these words.
Now can you do something about these new and annoying capchas?

jackj 9:16 AM  

Since all the theme clues referenced a medieval tournament, the conversion from warrior speak to punster lingo wanted to give the puzzle a sort of poor man’s swords into plowshares feeling. CONTACTLANCES and JOUSTKIDDING led the way but the puzzle in its totality seems to be a dignified “fail”.

It was nice to see BESOM as an entry. There is a farm located in Western Massachusetts, Justamere Tree Farm, which only sells two crops, maple syrup and BESOM(s). I am a steady customer for their heavenly Maple Cream and an admirer, (though not a user), of their handsome traditional homemade straw and twig brooms, (with Martha Stewart being another fan). The combination of products may be unusual but it works for them and their operation is delightful in its charming simplicity. (And, to boot, they helped make today’s 18 across a gimme for this grateful solver.)

Karen, hopefully you’ll be a more active constructor from here on out. Remember that Confucian saying, “Too much time between puzzles makes for cold tea.”

chefbea 9:33 AM  

I'm with the rest of you who did not like the puzzle. Hand up for gunk.

Thought 48 across was referring to Lest we forget.

@R.alphbunker I will now try to enlarge the captcha.

Cheerio 9:46 AM  

This took me a little longer than a usual Wednesday, which I regard as a positive. Also got to pick up some more crosswordese, and enjoyed a little being reminded of Lou Dobbs.

Mel Ott 9:50 AM  

GUCK? I did an alphabet run for space 22 and was surprised at how many four letter words there are ending in _UCK. None of which is GUCK regardless of what the dictionaries say (just being contrarian).

MUCK made some sense for the down but the across KNIGHTSMOING made even less sense than the final answer - but not much less.

YUCK!

loren muse smith 9:51 AM  

While I was solving this, I was cringing with alarm (or dread), knowing what was in store for this blog, and, sure enough, there is some ADO, well a lot of BOOS. Not knowing much about the middle ages does not make this user friendly (LISTS??) However, stepping back and looking at the whole canvas salty fills did pop up here and there; I actually think playfulness and freshness underlie gems like SLIPSHOD and GUCK. (I really like GUCK, but it sounds like a noise you’d make SCARFing down something while standing over the sink.) Overall I find the difficulty level ordinary for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

If I remember my Latin correctly, "anno domini" means "in the year of the Lord" and not in the year of our Lord., which would be "anno nostri domini." Think of "pater noster" or "our father." Seems to me this clue is an error of translation.

It may be a common mistake to verbally say "in the year of our Lord" (perhaps demonstrated by the fact that no one above has complained about this) but I feel that crossword clues ought to not perpetuate common errors.

archaeoprof 9:55 AM  

That puzzle Rex was solving seemed better than this one.

Except for the clue for SAMSON. That was pretty good.

ArtLvr 10:04 AM  

I absolutely adored this puzzle! Nothing like an erudite set of puns on a medieval theme. Made my day, so there!

quilter1 10:05 AM  

Easy for me. I also liked seeing BESOM, hoary an answer as it may be, and DEBI Mazur is Latvian, so no hesitation there.

I like puns and won't complain about these, tho not the best. Don't remember Lou DOBBS the individual, but remember the name. I wanted Lou Grant at first as well. That's all, folks.

Kurt 10:17 AM  

Wasn't fond of the puzzle. Surprised that Will was "tickled" by it. Except for SAMSON, there wasn't much to love.

Now to Rex's video. Rex solves with a pencil? The 31st Greatest Crossword Puzzle Solver in the Universe uses a pencil? Come on Rex. Show a little confidence. Put that pencil away and solve like a real pro. With a pen!

bateman 10:18 AM  

Good lord this was a stinker. Shortz must be short on quality submissions.

David 10:20 AM  

Dan Feyer is among those on youtube solving puzzles, including Rex's 1st published NYT puzzle. I'd love to see a video of someone speed-solving a Saturday puzzle - the closest I've seen is from past ACPTs.

Matthew G. 10:25 AM  

I guess Rex likes puns better in clues than in entries, if he liked the clue on SAMSON?

I thought GUCK was worse than BESOM, if only because it looked like I had to be missing a cross that would make it either MUCK or GUNK.

Not much to add -- these puns were truly horrible half-puns. How this made the cut is beyond me.

Still, these were not the worst puns I've seen this morning! A new food truck has opened up across Broadway from my office. The huge painted slogan on the truck reads: "I think, therefore I Mediterran-A.M.!" It sells Greek breakfast food.

Rookie 10:26 AM  

@anonymous (9:52 a.m.), I, too, struggled with "anno domini", knowing - or so I thought - (after three years of high school Latin) that it was "in the year of THE Lord." Was positive of that (and now google checks confirm), so I could not make that work.

Also with those who had JOKE and SLAPDASH in the SW. Really made it tough. Actually liked "slapdash" as an answer.

Miette 10:27 AM  

EXAUDIO: pencils have erasers (for mistakes).

ANONYMOUS @ 5:33: "Knights Going" = NICE GOING.

Sparky 10:44 AM  

This is a test again. I think it's fixed.

Rex Parker 10:48 AM  

No (really) good solver solves with pen. Fool's game. For show-offs.

rp

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

This one should have gone back to the drawing board.
Like @Z my first thought was Lou Grant.
I thought this might be a debut but @jackj says no. I hope Karen doesn't read this today.
@ Campesite, I feel your pain. Welcome back.
@ foodie, I cannot imagine trying to figure out puns in another language. Do all languages have puns?
@ Rex, I want one of those pencils!

jesser 11:02 AM  

I must not be a (really) good solver and I must be a show off, because I always solve in ink. I solve in ink the way I drink: When I'm alone or with someone. :-)

I'm glad some folks liked this puzzle. I'll leave it at that. Otherwise (excluding that snooty ink comment): What Rex said.

Jack 11:04 AM  

This puzzle feels like it was assembled by a Brit; it makes some of the creakier vocabulary choices make sense.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

I know it's not true, but I had a thought that Will lets a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad puzzle be published just to get a rise out of Rex. This one surely worked if that was the plan.

Matthew G. 11:18 AM  

Agree with Rex vis-a-vis pens and pencils. I internally roll my eyes at people who pride themselves on solving in pen. While speed is a meaningful test of crossword acumen, there is no basis for the idea that every square must be entered correctly on the first try.

A person who does the puzzle in five minutes in pencil, with one or two erasings, is easily the better solver than someone who does it in eight minutes but refuses to enter a letter until she is sure of it. I also don't get why people report their "writeovers" here on the blog as though they are demerits. Trial and error is a perfectly valid solving technique.

Masked and Anonymous 11:39 AM  

@Karen: Har. Have missed your puns. Will always revere your THREELEGGEDRAYS, from many moons ago. (Try writing a clue for That, folks!) Don't listen to this snarling pack; keep 'em comin'.

That said, DE?I/?ESOM darn near made my pinball machine TILT. Had to put the old pacemaker on a CHARGER. (Sure made #31's funny pencil spin, tho, huh?)

I'd vote for "Hugo", for best pic.

XOX/LOVE seems like a pretty sweet closer, to me...
M&A.

evil doug 11:50 AM  

Matthew G.,

So many hasty assumptions and conclusions---where do I begin?

"I internally roll my eyes at people who pride themselves on solving in pen."

I don't do it out of "pride". I do it because I like the degree of sensitivity I get with a pen on newsprint. Pencils are at once too soft for a clear imprint, and too hard to prevent occasionally punching through the paper.

"...there is no basis for the idea that every square must be entered correctly on the first try."

I agree. But I simply cross out my (relatively small when I'm unsure) entry and replace it as necessary. I imagine I can get four or five tries as required. To me, erasures make a bigger mess than ink scratch-outs. And erasing weakens the fibers and even burns through the paper sometimes.

"A person who does the puzzle in five minutes in pencil, with one or two erasings, is easily the better solver than someone who does it in eight minutes but refuses to enter a letter until she is sure of it."

You've asserted a random time and a random result when there are absolutely no statistics to support either one. And you work in law? Assumes facts not in evidence, counselor. I would submit that the implement used has an insignificant impact on time.

And, staying with our legal theme, isn't this debate moot? I think Michael generally solves on line. He was just showing off (and you say we pen-solvers are the ones "showing off", Michael?) for the cameras when he solved the (easy) puzzle from another paper.

Evil

treedweller 11:52 AM  

solidarity, Sandy! I not only ran the alphabet multiple times, I still never got to GUCK. I considered mUCK, of course, and also yUCK and even hUCK, but somehow GUCK never seemed plausible. [hangs head in shame at a wed. DNF]

I also guessed wrong at the DEBI / BESOM cross, but fixing with google did not help, since I never caught on to KNIGHTSGOING. I couldn't even think of a plausible phrase for that to be punning on. ugh. tomorrow is another day.

r.alphbunker 12:08 PM  

I agree with @evil doug. I do not use a pen to show off because I do puzzles alone, not on camera. And having to flip a pencil to erase while being careful not to tear the paper seems to be slower than just writing over the entry.

I find that I am comfortable doing a puzzle either on computer on or paper. However, I prefer the computer because it lets me play back the solution and analyze it.

chefbea 12:33 PM  

As I think I have mentioned before...I use the papermate erasermate...an erasable pen..voila!!!

loren muse smith 12:34 PM  

Pencils or pens: with all the "write-over" comments, I thought I harbored a shameful little secret that I use a pencil. BUT I have a reason - I print the puzzle on white copy paper (not as delecate as newsprint) and Bic pencil #2 0.7mm has the perfect eraser. Since I don't press down too hard when I fill in an answer, the (one or two)erasures I have to make a year ;-) leave no trace. My puzzles have to be pristine: no marks, food stains, tear stains, sneeze stains. . .I've been known to print a new one out and start over if it gets marred.

I don't feel solving in ink is particularly show offy, but I imagine, especially with this cerebral group, that we all show off sometimes somehow? I used to go to a coffee shop to grade Japanese papers specifically to feel like a big shot if someone noticed.

There. I've come clean.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

I'm with Jon Stewart. Use a glue-stick.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Long time since I hated a puzzle this much. Drek in all quadrants. Hate puns in puzzles!!!

Good Girl 12:46 PM  

OK, the clunky puns totally worked for me. Perhaps I do not have some of the grammar hangups that Rex might! The rest, not so much...

And Rex isn't mean even in his write-ups. He just doesn't suffer fools lightly, and sadly most of us qualify at some time or another.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

I don’t always use paper but if I did I would use Bic. But I'm the most interesting solver in the world, not the best one.

I just love coming here to see all the non-judgmental comments posted.

Matthew, for example: "Not much to add -- these puns were truly horrible half-puns. How this made the cut is beyond me."

I don't think I would ever have the temerity to make that last statement since I have never constructed a puzzle, never submitted a puzzle or have the slightest clue how Will decides what to publish. I can understand how Rex might say it but I have to hand it to a corporation lawyer who just started doing these puzzles a year or so ago to draw that conclusion.

I'm beginning to feel like a certain Admiral Stockdale at a Vice Presidential debate....

JFC

PS. When I was commuting on the Metro North many years ago doing the puzzle usually all I had was a pen, so that’s what I used. I knew – being the self-conscious twerp I am – that people would think I was a really good solver using a pen. But I liked that feeling until Friday when I couldn’t tell the white squares from the black squares when finished. Now I live on the top floor of our building and I still like that feeling when people get on the elevator and see what button I push. Sometimes I disabuse them of the thought there’s any difference by noting that the elevator carpet is the same as on my floor but not on the other floors and that’s the only difference, especially when you are staring at another high rise across the street. Usually, though, I’m not that social and keep quiet.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

Can't accept 'guck' as a word, no matter what the dictionary sez. I do have to admit that I am the habit of saying 'GACK!' when confronted with a 'GAG-ME-WITH-A-GINSU' moment but only as a tribute to Bill the Cat.

Matthew G. 12:53 PM  

@evil doug: It is you, not I, making assumptions. Your post incinerates a bevy of strawmen.

I never said there is anything wrong with solving in pen if it is done for some reason other than vanity. But we have all met people who brag about solving in pen because they think it gives off the impression that they never need to correct squares in their grid. And those people are silly.

I also did not suggest that the writing instrument used has a significant impact on time. I was referring to those who use pens out of the misguided notion that they are better solvers if their grid is pristine and free of erasures or writeovers.

The hypothetical times given in my post had nothing to do with estimating the effect of writing instruments on time. Contrary to your impressions about the legal profession, we use hypothetical facts all the time (especially in appellate cases, which are all that I do), and in this case my point was that a hypothetical solver who arrives at a 100% grid in five minutes after correcting several squares is objectively better than a hypothetical solver who arrives at a 100% correct grid in eight minutes without ever correcting a square. Insert any other relative times you please, and the point holds.

In measuring solving skill, all that matters is how quickly one ultimately arrives at a fully correct grid, not how many squares were changed along the way.

In short, if someone solves in pen simply because they prefer the instrument, more power to them. I never hinted otherwise.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Self-concious twerp? How about pompous ass?

Matthew G. 1:00 PM  

Anonymous/JFC, we need to correct a few longstanding things here that you repeatedly post about me.

First of all, I didn't start doing crossword puzzles only a year or two ago. I've been doing crossword puzzles for years. The only thing that changed is that about 18 months ago I started doing the NYT puzzle as a daily ritual instead of letting them pile up and doing them in fits and starts.

Second, I am not a "corporation lawyer." I have never worked for a corporate law firm.

Third, I don't know why you have this idea in your heads that I have some ego about being a lawyer. I am nearly certain that I've never mentioned my profession in a post here other than in response to someone else's post.

I stand by my comments about today's puzzle. It was awful.

Dick Swart 1:08 PM  

Rex: Nice video!

Re: pen. There is something retro and nice about a fountain pen ... maybe being old has a lot to do with this. I once worked for Parker Pen.

I am using a nifty teeny-tiny KawekoSport, German and four inches long when closed.

Somewhere in this discussion is the love for writing instruments rather than xwords per se.

Andrea no pun intended Michaels 1:16 PM  

When lots of folks actively dislike, makes me want to really analyzze why, bec puns per se are NOT the problem, as they exist in more than half the clues or theme answers..so what's up?
Altho not the most beloved puzzle in some time, super interesting discussion as to whether puns are better in the clues, which is the bloodline for a good ? Clue...

They DO work better in the clue part than in the answers...

But most of my collaboration puzzles are add/change a letter to make ouns.
Joho and I had FULLSPEEDOAHEAD which remains my favorite theme entry to date...(or tied with Tony O's and my add an i "OPENWIDEANDSAYAHI", or Patrick B's and my "PILATESOFTHECARIBBEAN", TAXIDRIVEL"...

So, for me, Puns are not the problem, per se... I mean, look at any of Merl's brilliant constructions...

I think the problem today was the quality of the puns.
KNIGHTSGOING one has to read 4-5 times before "getting" and judging by the blog many still didn't get it and was willing to go with MOING that it was so hard to parse.

LISTS were unknown to many and the extra plural made it odd for those who did know it.
LANCES / lenses was a stretch spellingwise but isn't so bad.
And JOUSTKIDDING is excellent both as a pun and a unifying theme reveal, so in retrospect, pretty great!

All to say that puns themselves are not a terrible idea, are the lifeblood of many many many a puzzle, certainly all the add-a-letter ones...
But because this one had two bad ones, one shaky one and then a great one, it TILTed to the negative overall...
But major props for having four on one theme!!

As for ?UCK, i too ran the alphabet and wasshocked how many letters worked, which make it ripe for puns and limerick rhymes!
BDF(!)GHLMPS(!)TY

And I think I've commented before how many four letter words in Scrabble start with G that mean GLUEY or GOOEY. sticky mess of some sort...
Off the top of my head GOOP, GLUE, GUNK, GUCK, GOOS, GLOB, GLOP, GOOK, GUMS.

retired_chemist 1:25 PM  

Well, if solving on paper I solve in pen. I use a very light touch when filling answers I am rather unsure of. OTOH I use a very bold stroke when I am sure of an answer. I can go through at least 3 writeovers before I can no longer read what I wrote.

Agree trying never to overwrite a letter is a really poor solving strategy.

ps Today you seen to need BOTH strings in the captcha.

Ulrich 1:46 PM  

I totally agree with @anon at 9:52 about no 'our' in anno domini-this is almost as bad as the egregious clue we had a while back, when Saxony was placed at the sea shore.

On to more pleasant things:
@loren: I'm now wasting precious time every day deconstructing your comments--have to attend Deconstruction Addicts Anonymous (DAA) soon. But here's a question: Who has snot on his armor after drinking mead before a bout: the vassal, the liege or the lord, or someone I missed?

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Long time pen solver here. On my old iPad pencils scratched the screen, so I switched to felt-tipped pen. A little Windex, and I'm ready for the LATimes puzzle.

Rudy 1:54 PM  

@Evan 1:34am

If 22D were GACY instead of GUCK and 35a were YATES instead then think of the dreaded crossing. One serial murderer meets another YATES (she who murdered several of her young children)

Sfingi 2:05 PM  

Had Zebra PEN, speaking of solving in pen. (And never heard of a referee called a zebra - or most sports stuff).

I solve in colored pen - such as the Zebra Daisies - because I can't see pencil, at least my pencil strokes. Old age.

Wanted to put "Mason" in where LALAW went. Is LALAW really that old?

And no idea for AXEL. Sports again.

loren muse smith 2:06 PM  

@Ulrich - how perspicacious of you! You just missed one. Brainteaser. Find it here again.

Bird 2:12 PM  

GUCK. I like puns; especially good ones that poke you in the ribs and make you groan and roll your eyes, but these hit too hard. I cried out in pain and counted 2 broken ribs.

All this talk of pens vs. pencils is really a waste of time. But . . .
If a person is proud to solve in pen, then so be it. I may roll my eyes too, but I don't let it bother me. I happen to solve in pen because when I started solving puzzles, I solved during lunch hour at work and pencils are not allowed (I work for a Life Sciences manufacturing company and using pencils is big no-no). Now I've come to love using a pen. Depending on how unsure I am of the answer I either leave the square blank or write lightly. It is usually the latter, which helps when I get to the crossing word. And this methond is faster than turning the pencil around, erasing your mistake and brushing the dust aside. Yes the same could be said of using a pencil - write lightly if unsure.

@ Matthew G - The 1st time I read your 11:18 post I came to similar conclusions as @Evil. Then I read your post again (after reading 12:53) and understand your position better. But I still think your timing statement is flawed. In order for the reasoning to be valid, you need to compare two people solving the same puzzle who make the same mistakes. A pen person who takes 5:00 minutes to solve a puzzle with 2 writeovers is better than a pencil person who solves in 5:10 minutes with 2 erasures (assumes 5 seconds to erase each mistake and brush aside the dust).

Good Girl 2:17 PM  

How about "No pen intended?"

Z 2:22 PM  

What fun.
@Ulrich - thanks for doing the hard work on @LMS's post.

@LMS - you tease.

@Andrea no pun intended Michaels - I think your analysis is spot on.

@annonymous at 11:08 - Louis Sachar? Great author.

I solve in pen for the reasons listed by @Evil Doug. I use a light touch on answers I'm unsure of, darken them when I decide they are right. "Write-overs" that I list are usually those answers that I'd decided were right that turned out to be wrong, not the light write-ins where I hadn't decided, yet (although I doubt that I'm 100% consistent with this usage).

I don't consider myself a "really good solver."

Ad hominem attacks are a certain sign of a weak argument.

apropos of nothing today - I'm reading Sherman Alexie poetry. He should be more widely famous.

The Borg adapt quickly. Unfortunately, no one shares their apropos captchas any more. Soon we will all be serfs.

John V 2:24 PM  

There was a man who entered a local paper's pun contest. He sent in ten
different puns, in the hope that at least one of the puns would win.
Unfortunately, no pun in ten did

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@Anon at 11:56 - that works too.

@Matthew -

TAO.... JFC

Rex Parker 2:33 PM  

Let me put it differently—it doesn't matter what you use to solve the puzzle.

My comments about the superiority of pencil (insofar as it's what all the top solvers use), were directed specifically toward those who believe that "real" solvers solve in pen. That idea is nonsense.

Solving in pen seems as fine as solving in pencil or crayon or whatever. But *bragging* about solving in pen is indeed an eyeroll-worthy offense.

rp

Noam D. Elkies 2:53 PM  

Yeah, the puns leave quite a bit to be desired. I'll still take this over yesterday's showbizzzz namefest (sorry, Caleb).

jesser 3:02 PM  

@Rex: The thing is, those of us who solve in ink (for whatever reason) inevitably get the "You solve in ink?!?!" remarks from time to time. To which I always reply, "Yes, because I'm a snob." Sometimes I even use it in advance of pulling out the pen. "I solve in ink, because I'm a snob." It is my hope people chuckle, rather than roll their eyes, but who knows? This is one of those days I agree with Evil Doug, so the universe appears to be aTILT. :-)

P.S. I seldom use multiple punctuation marks, and almost never mix them like I did above, but that combination, in those quantities, generally reflects the sentiment of incredulity of non-solvers upon seeing a solve happening in ink. :-)

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

So if I use a pen, I am not a top-solver?

From the movie Ffolkes . . .
Admiral Brindsen: I suppose you're one of those fellows who does the Times crossword puzzle in ten minutes.
ffolkes: I have *never* taken ten minutes.

chefbea 3:28 PM  

@JohnV That was a good one

evil doug 3:39 PM  

"But *bragging* about solving in pen is indeed an eyeroll-worthy offense."

But of course,*bragging* about solving in pencil would be as well. Or for that matter, Michael, *bragging* about how fast one can complete a crossword puzzle. Seems like we've boiled the problem down to *bragging* itself....

Fact is, I've never heard anyone *bragging* about the writing implement they use for a damn crossword puzzle. After all, it's not inking the Declaration of Independence or writing the Great American Novel we're talking about here....

I have, on the other hand, heard much *bragging* about where one ranks in the puzzle solving universe....

Evil

Deb 3:40 PM  

Rex, HMPH! I appreciate your clarifying your statement, but you yourself said, right here on your blog on March 18, 2007 when I asked if others shared my proclivity for the tactile pleasure of doing a crossword puzzle in pen:

"I enjoy all kinds of solving. For pure oldskool enjoyment, I require a newspaper and PEN (emphatically, pen)."

I've been doing crossword puzzles for over forty years and I've *always* solved in pen BECAUSE I LIKE THE WAY IT FEELS! I think @Dick Swart got it right - it's more about a love of writing implements than crosswords per se. I also love to doodle on my newspaper with my Bic, but I don't think anyone is terribly impressed by it.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Egads! The timer automatically adds 10% to your actual time if you use a pen!

Iresta - thea triala isa ova

essigue - itsa dat ting with a 2 wheels anda longa handle

jae 3:46 PM  

@LMS -- You described my approach to solving right down to the #2 Bic 0.7.

@andrea -- You nailed it!

sanfranman59 3:47 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 13:01, 11:50, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:58, 5:52, 1.19, 90%, Challenging

These dang captchas are getting harder and harder to read! I predict that someday we'll be told that trying to read captchas is a risk factor for cancer.

Evan 4:04 PM  

Just to jump into the pen/pencil debate:

I use a pen mainly for one reason: It's what's I'm used to. I've been solving (or at least attempting to solve) crosswords of different stripes in ink since I was 12. Before I started doing the NYT puzzle every day at the age of 22, I would take a stab at the weekly TV Guide crossword. I don't think I ever completed one when I was young -- too many old TV characters and shows that 12-year-old me never knew -- but I wrote all of my answers in pen.

If I had instead started solving crosswords long ago in pencil, I might have continued doing so today. But when I get a hold of a crossword on paper, a pen is always my first weapon of choice. It's the one I trained on as a young crossword tyke, so I don't intend to stop now.

Of course, I will have to stop at the ACPT since they don't let you use a pen -- with good reason, since it can be difficult to read through write-overs. But that leads me to my final tongue-in-cheek point, in response to @Rex's comment above: Of course the top solvers use pencil. At the big competitions, they are required to use a pencil!

(Then again, maybe they use a pencil all the time anyway.)

chefwen 4:05 PM  

I once sat next to a gentleman? who was watching me as I worked on the puzzle in pen. He said "Wow the NYT in pen, you must be good." I said "not really, it gives me a feeling of confidence". He replied "I always use a pencil and I'm a Mensa member (big whoop) using a pen just shows arrogance". I changed my seat shortly thereafter.

Bird 4:08 PM  

@sanfranman59 - can you break down the times according to writing implement used? Are pencil solvers faster than pen solvers?

Just havin' fun guys.

These double captchas are a pain. And it's not like I'm trying to buy concert tickets; this is a blog (no offense @Rex, this is a great blog).

Brett S 4:14 PM  

I had EIGHT for 40A, Track Figure (MILER). I like my answer so much more. Boo.

quilter1 4:19 PM  

Gee, I go away for a few hours and come back to find I need a BESOM to sweep away the pencil/pen dust-up. And I thought @Rex was speaking tongue-in-cheek with his first remark. I solve in pen. I don't brag about it. It works for me. Deep breaths everyone and see you tomorrow.

Bird 4:24 PM  

Reminds me of a Bugs Bunny gag . . .
Bugs Bunny: You have to use a pen.
Yosemite Sam: No, use a pencil!
Bugs: Pen.
Yosemite: Pencil!
Bugs: Pen.
Yosemite: Pencil!
Bugs: Pencil!
Yosemite: Pen! And that's final!
Bugs: OK, have it your way. I'll use a pen.
Yosemite: I hate that rabbit.

TTFN

Sparky 4:35 PM  

Hand up re GUnK. So, clearly DNF. Got KNIGHTSGOING right away. Agree @Rube. Puns are supposed to be groaners. So these were okay, not great like Bear foot boy with teak of Chan.

I use a Pilot Frixion as you can erase it. No.2 pencils too light to read. Am trying to write over to save some time in the tournament.

I had a software problem that would not let me make any comment at all. A very kind man from this blog helped me install what I needed. You have all my thanks, Sir. I owe you.

We are over hump day. Let's all stagger onward in this vale of tears. We only have each other.

JoeTheJuggler 4:43 PM  

I could tolerate the puns and abide by "TRIBS" but no way was "GUCK" correct. The OED has the word as meaning a foolish saying (n) or to play the fool (v. int.)

Ulrich 4:45 PM  

@loren: Ah, yes--the opposite of a vassal--another clue that was botched recently...

Larry I in L.A. 4:46 PM  

@LMS: As a fan of BBC's "(The Adventures of) Merlin", I was also wondering if "Mordread" (sp?) was intentional in your earlier medieval post.

My favorite tortured pun, from Reader's Digest years ago (and sorry about the politically-incorrect punch line):

Once there were three (Native American) brides. One slept on a wolf skin and delivered a bouncing baby boy. Another slept on a bear skin and also had a boy. The third slept on a hippo skin and bore twin boys, proving that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws on the other two hides.

JoeTheJuggler 4:47 PM  

As for TRIBS, it could have meant more than one copy of the Chicago paper.

In St. Louis in the '60s we had a silly joke about how many newspapers you could hold between your legs (two Globes and a Post).

dana 5:22 PM  

Evil, you took the words right out of my keyboard in your 3:39 post

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

I just received a tweet from Will that says solving in pen in illegal.

Anonymous 5:42 PM  

@John V
Bravo, now that's a pun.
As for the puzzle, 4 thumbs down.

Cheerio 6:00 PM  

Agree with @Jesser. I hate pencils, so I don't use them, ever. But I do get comments from people along the lines of "oh you must be really good at crosswords if you do them in pen!" Really, they might as well say, "wow, you use a pen? You must not mind havnig a mess of scribbles all over your newspaper. What kind of wierdo does that make you? Do you keep a lot of cats too?"

joho 6:15 PM  

Speed solvers use a pencil. Makes sense. It is their weapon of destruction of the puzzle.

All other solvers, slow or fast, galloping, trotting or eating grass by the side of the road can use whatever instrument that makes them happy. Isn't this supposed to be fun?

If speed's your passion or slow enjoyment, who cares how you get there?

joho 6:18 PM  

Wow, 118 comments and it's only 6:18.

@Karen, you sure did cause a stir today!

Mighty Nisden 6:20 PM  

Like puns but hated these except for the JOUSTKIDDING.

For the record, days past I always worked in pencil. Now with Across Lite I work in keyboard and actually like it better. Took getting used to, but now it's not so obvious when I take all day to do a Thursday and Friday puzzle!


captcha - onlorkee dorky onlooker

Wood 6:42 PM  

Wow, haters gonna hate. Puns, pens. (We need a puzzle that has pins, pans and bridges.)

I thought the puns were corny but PUNS ARE CORNY. I must have some kind of hate deficit. I didn't even hate XOX.

Weirdly, this puzzle was my second-fastest Wednesday ever.

Doris 7:12 PM  

I'm very late to the party, but....

Thought perhaps The Bard would chime in with this: Yet again, Shakespeare is the source of much x-word knowledge. Knew LIST because of Macbeth:
At the end of the soliloquy he says, "Rather than so, come fate into the list, / And champion me to th' utterance!" (3.1.70-71). This is Macbeth's challenge to fate.

We must always give WS his due, especially in the face of those who doubt he wrote the plays.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

Ugh. The only high point was when I had SNACK for SCARF and briefly thought there was a children's book called THE MOST HAPPY KOALA.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

My 4th post to thank Rex for changing the robot test by eliminating the negative effect on one of the words. Much better....

JFC

JenCT 7:55 PM  

Very late also, but I read every single post - I solve on the computer, so I'll stay out of the pen/pencil discussion.

@acme: great explanation

@quilter1: LOL

Too many others to mention.

The comments today are too much...

michael 8:04 PM  

I really want to disagree with Rex when he slams a puzzle. But in this case I agree with him...

I solve in pen. Not a statement. i just like pens better than pencils.

Ulrich 8:26 PM  

This day in puzzledom keeps on giving: I did a stint recently as a scorer and noticed that two of the really fast solvers did their Es exactly like Rex does, in one wiggly stroke. After seeing Rex do it, too, I venture the conjecture that it has to do with speed: If you do it this way instead of the way we less-talented mortals do it, i.e. in 4 (four--yikes!) separate strokes, you're able to shave several nanoseconds off of your time every time to write an E, which happens to be the most common letter in English, and you may be able to beat the other guy by seconds--now that's an occasion to brag!

Deb 8:35 PM  

Oooh, brilliant observation, Ulrich! I noticed he was forming his Es that way, too; I took brief note of it simply because I dislike the way that sort of written E looks. Now I'm thinking solvers at the ACPT who employ it probably never win the "neatest grid" (or whatever it's called) prize, and that perhaps the person who does win that prize never takes the big one.

chefbea 8:50 PM  

@Joe the Juggler...that was good!!! I'm from St. Louis...I remember the Globe and I now read the Post dispatch on line since I have moved away.

jackj 9:34 PM  

Can't let the day pass without celebrating the "Miracle on Ice". It was 32 years ago today, when the US Olympic hockey team defeated the heavily favored Russian team, 4 to 3.

Sports Illustrated named it the "Greatest Sports Moment of the 20th Century" and deservedly so.

mac 9:52 PM  

Tortured gunk.
Slapshod. No our in Anno Domini. Really weird clues, like unwelcome growth. Too bad about the - in dis-tressed.

I love nice pens and fountain pens. I solve in Pentel 0.9 Twist-Erase, or online.

nebraska doug 10:25 PM  

I'm usually pretty forgiving when judging the quality of a puzzle, however today had to be one my most hated puzzles in memory...I got every last letter correct, but shook my head in the end. I don't mind puns, but these are the worst. I was glad to others agree.

sanfranman59 10:30 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 7:34, 6:49, 1.11, 91%, Challenging
Tue 8:35, 8:52, 0.97, 46%, Medium
Wed 13:03, 11:50, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:05, 3:40, 1.12, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:32, 4:35, 0.99, 52%, Medium
Wed 6:42, 5:52, 1.14, 88%, Challenging

Rex Parker 10:32 PM  

I would like to brag about my fingernails in that video. That is as good as they have ever looked.

rp

Sparky 11:27 PM  

That's Boy foot bear with teak of Chan. Sigh. I think I'll have a double stuff Milano.

Flipper 11:35 PM  

I would like to brag that I dislike fish as compared to mammals. There, I've said it, I'm a fish bigot. I hate nature shows bloody of tooth and fang when the prey are mammals -- I don't just hate them, I can't watch them. I just watched Nature watching marine mammals eat tons of fish, no problem - eat all the sardines you want.

the redanman 12:27 PM  

Joust owfull

Simpy Ignoble Ron 11:52 AM  

Yes, yes, yes, Mr.Evil Doug. I'm on your side 100%. It tickles me to no end when you throw a dart in the balloonheads. I'm not as picky as alot of the Michaelites and enjoy almost each and every puzzle. Today's puz was easy with no complaints from me. Not too impressed with the video. I'd like to see one done in real time.

Spacecraft 12:18 PM  

Interesting that the clunkers bring out the most comments. I joust happened to know BESOM from an old issue of Dell variety puzzles in which they had a series of old saws in flowery language for the solver to recognize the original, and so "A new broom sweeps clean" became "A BESOM of recent manufacture..." etc. Had to look it up then, but it stuck.

Like GUCK. Okay, I "get" the other three, but KNIGHTSGOING? Is that really supposed to be NICE GOING? Wow, what a stretch. My big REPINE, though, is one I didn't see amongst all the bloggery. Two SUPER-obscure names right next to each other? DORE not only did ETCHings, but he (she?) is FAMOUS for it? Oh yeah. Famous. MY God, where have I been living, under a rock? And then there's INES. Well, of course--a household name. Hardly a day goes by...OK, OK, I'll stop with the sarcasm. I mean, the crosses filled them in, but still. The whole thing was 22d.

Dirigonzo 3:50 PM  

I fill in the grid by cutting letters out of the rest of the paper and pasting them on the puzzle - but I have a lot of free time on my hands. Does anybody really care? I sure hope not. Now I have to go cut the m out of square 18 and find a B to replace it.

DJ Stone 7:34 PM  

I think Dirigonzo's bragging about his solving method. Good thing Evil D won't see it.

That said, Rex was right that this puzzle was crap. I finished, but believe that this author should be legally barred from ever publishing a puzzle again. Let her construct all she wants, but she should keep it to herself.

Finally, surprised that the word "lists" was unknown to so many commenters. One would think that this board's demographic would indicate a healthy intake of King Arthur tales back in the day and thus at least a rudimentary knowledge of jousting basics.

Red Valerian 10:01 PM  

Good lord, look at the number of comments.

@Dirigonzo--that's hilarious! Myself, I'll have to clip out an I to replace the a in SLaPSHOD-clearly wrong, but hummed around in my brain as an amalgam of slipshod and slapshot,

@LMS--you're scaring me ;-)

one captcha: hthis. Don't know what it means, but it can't be good...

Red Valerian 10:05 PM  

@Spacecraft. I'm quite sure not under a rock; perhaps the lack of an accent threw you.

Gustave Dore (I don't know how to put the accent in.)

Dirigonzo 1:06 PM  

@Red V - slipshod > slapshod > slapshot > slapstick > slipstick - I'm pretty sure if I take it any further it's going to turn dirty.

Lola505 6:05 PM  

Interesting to see everyones' opinions on pen v. pencil, erasures etc. I'm a new poster but had wondered how others felt about the subject, so I'll share too. My puzzle solving is a near ritual: Morning paper, but solving occurs at 4 pm. Neatly folded puzzle page, my lap desk, black gel pen and my Bic Wite-Out EZcorrect (which perfectly fits a weekday puzzle square) and I'm good to go. I absolutely enjoy solving on paper compared to the computer -- where's the tactile fun in that? I'm always prouder of puzzles with fewer corrections, but I agree with those who feel corrections are part of the process of solving. I can foresee the end of newspapers (one of our city's folded last year and the remaining one is struggling), and I will mourn the day it's gone.

Dirigonzo 11:18 PM  

@Lola505 - "...where's the tactile fun in that?" Exactly!

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