Lowest deck on a ship / TUE 6-19-12 / Orbiter of Mars / Jesse who pitched 1252 games / Jolly Green Giant's outburst / Spies slangily / Main thoroughfare through NYC's Chinatown / Like traditional movies

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Constructor: Steve Riley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: OH NO! — the only vowel in the grid is "O"

Word of the Day: ORLOP (24D: Lowest deck of a ship) —
(naval architecture) The lowest continuous deck of a ship having four or more decks. 

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/orlop-deck#ixzz1yCZd2sXi
• • •

ORLOP can also be found at answers.com under the category "obscure words," so if you didn't get know it, as I sure as hell didn't, don't feel too bad.

This puzzle shows what happens when people cling too tightly to ideas they originally thought were "good." Just because one *can* make a grid with "O" as the only vowel doesn't mean one should. The question is—why do it? To prove that it can be done? Just ask someone—any constructor. He/she will tell you it can be done. And you can stop there. No, you say—you really need to Do It. OK, get it out of your system. But for god's sake don't publish it. It's going to be full of the worst fill imaginable. Halfway through solvers are going to be wondering why the answers in this puzzle are so awkward, stale, and dreadful. I mean, has anyone ever seen OTHO (52D: Roman emperor of A.D. 69) and OTTO(S) (20A: Four Holy Roman emperors) together in the same grid before? I didn't even know that was legal. And WTF is ORRS?? (33A: "The Pearl of ___ Island" (Harriet Beecher Stowe novel)) OBOL?? (7D: Ancient Greek coin) ORLOP?? And we won't even touch on the short crosswordese, which goes on an on and on and on. And on. I liked MOTT ST (40A: Main thoroughfare through N.Y.C.'s Chinatown). And HOOCH (25D: Moonshine). And not a lot else. SLOG doesn't even begin to cover it (34D: Trudge).

Consoling words from a friend: "Hey, look on the bright side. At least the clues weren't forced into the theme as well." That side is, indeed, bright.

  • 8A: Like traditional movies, for short (TWOD) — i.e. two-dimensional. So ... yeah. This clue is pretty useless. "Traditional"? How about [Like 99.9% of movies ever made]?
  • 23A: Jolly Green Giant's outburst ("HO HO HO") — because "F*&^ you, Sprout!" wouldn't fit.
  • 43A: Orbiter of Mars (PHOBOS) — The ORLOP / PHOBOS crossing was a total guess. I also had to guess the "B" in PHOBOS / BONKS. Pure luck that it all worked out. Of course I did have HOOF / SPOOFS at 58A: Catchy musical phrase / 41D: Spies, slangily, before I double-checked the puzzle (it's HOOK / SPOOKS). HOOF relates to dance, right? Which is musical, right? No idea how SPOOFS are spies. I didn't really think it through.
  • 4D: Jesse who pitched a major-league record 1,252 games (OROSCO) — Wow, is that right? I had no idea he was around that long. I'm guessing many, many solvers have no idea who he is at all. I knew him instantly—the only question was whether his name had an "S" or a "Z". I guessed right.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Once I figured out the gimmic, I quit solving and checked if there the clues were without Os. Then I drank.

syndy 12:08 AM  

oh wow Challenging until you figured out always go with "o".cute

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

The fill was so painful I couldn't bear to finish it. So I checked the solution on Xword and drank instead.

jae 12:09 AM  

OOOOh, for the life of me, it's Tues. so it must be time for my weekly rant about this not being a Tues. 


I suppose if you figured out the only Os theme early and just threw in one when ever there was a doubt or a WTF it might have been easier.  I didn't and it wasn't.

Anyway, interesting theme which resulted in an ODD grid (I'm being kind...Rex said it better) which was not a Tues.

@Sfingi -- I knew that Cohn had some sort of connection with Walters but did not know the specifics.  Thanks.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Lov'd solv'n "Oh No." No "Y"s too. Wow!

Greg C 12:16 AM  

I firmly believe that when a solver (i.e. me) who finished the Saturday puzzle two days prior is unable to solve the Tuesday, well, then that is the fault of the constructor.

Mike 12:20 AM  

I liked 58A Catchy Musical Phrase just because it reminded me of the Michael Bolton line from the Jack Sparrow song with The Lonely Island "I wrote you guys a big, sexy hook, I think you're gonna love it.". And that makes me giggle. After two puzzles in a row that had me checking to make sure it was actually the beginning of the week, I needed something to giggle about.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

This was definitely a Tuesday puzzle. Only "o"s is a huge clue. Sure, the fill is going to look goofy, but it is gettable. Why? Because there is only one vowel from which to choose. The problem with crap fill is that it mucks up a solution. This fill did not do that. Hence, not crap. It was fun to see all the "o"s find their places. I enjoyed it.

Anon 12:07 12:23 AM  

@Anon 12:14 - I left out my threat that the first poster who posted using Os as their only vowels should be banned for life. I did so primarily because I hadn't the authority to do so, but also because I didn't think there would be anyone who would subject us to more torture. My bad.

chefwen 12:23 AM  

After I filled in MOOR, HO NO, BOORS and OMOO, I thought tOO bad @M&A is hUng up on U's and not O's. Otherwise he probably thought he died and gone to heaven.

Kind of a yawn!

chefwen 12:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe The Juggler 12:29 AM  

I was at least hoping the Os graphically drew something. . . .


Anthony 12:30 AM  

You know, if there really HAD been cluing for a Neko Case song and the answer was in fact HOLD ON, HOLD ON, I'd be a lot happier about everything else. Well, maybe not OTHO and OTTOS. Had CONKS for BONKS and CHOCOS for PHOBOS because ORLOC sounded like "oar lock" so that had to be where the oarers are locked down at the bottom of the ship, right?

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Actually, I (as Anon 12:14) did not use "o" as the only vowel, because in this puzzle "y" was treated as a vowel and I used a "y" to praise the fact that "y"s were not used. (You can't make this stuff up.)

Evan 12:36 AM  

By the time I was finally half-way through (which took much longer than normal for a Tuesday), I figured every answer had at least one O in it. That's technically true, but I didn't realize until after I checked my answers that it was the only vowel in the puzzle. I was getting ready to be real confused that the NYT would have OTTO and OTTOS in the same grid, but the first one turned out to be OTHO instead.

I had HOOT/SPOOTS. I figured that a catchy musical phrase would be a real HOOT (and that would have been juxtaposed nicely on top of OWLS). Can't defend the word SPOOTS, except that I thought it might be some old-timey word for spies that I'd never heard of.

OLD SCHOOL and SNOOP DOGG are some cool entries to a grid that, as Rex pointed out, has a lot of strained fill to achieve the O-record -- and yes, it has twice as many O's as the previous O-record holder in the NYT, perhaps in any crossword publication as well. Though I doubt it will necessarily make those who didn't enjoy the puzzle appreciate it more, one other interesting tidbit is that this puzzle is tied for the fourth-fewest letters used in a NYT grid during the Will Shortz era -- 11 letters are excluded.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

I have never been able to finish a Saturday puzzle and I thought this one was easy. Somehow, this gives me hope.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

Have you all not heard? Tuesdays are the new Thursdays and Fridays are the new Wednesdays.

thursdaysd 12:45 AM  

I was unhappy with this puzzle before I figured out the gimmick (clues were either too easy or too hard, and too much Spanish), but after I figured it out I was just annoyed. A perfect example of why gimmicks are the enemy of good crosswords. (I finished it and still didn't like it.)

What's up with the captchas? I've got a bizarre picture that MIGHT have an I in the middle...

retired_chemist 12:47 AM  

As usual I did not notice the gimmick until I came here.

Agree that most of the fill is unimpressive, as one expects for the compromises the constructor must make to achieve hie ends.

Nothing more to say. Someone else will say it all.

retired_chemist 12:51 AM  

@ thursdaysd - the captcha pictures are irrelevant. Type anything you want for them. They only use the text to prove you are not (or are) a robot. Someone said a few weeks ago that Google is using the captcha responses to the photos to evaluate their own photographic data. Don't know but it is plausible.

Modesty Blasé 1:48 AM  

Oh, look, memorizing all the Roman Emperors as well as collecting ancient Greek coins has finally paid off!

ahsieh 2:08 AM  

"Roman emperor" and "Holy Roman emperor" are two different things, related in name only.

Tobias Duncan 2:24 AM  

Uhg, I did the whole damn thing without noticing the Os. I did however, notice the suck.

If you ever wanted to be the guest solver on Will's Sunday Morning NPR Puzzle, this would be the week. Brutally hard puzzle that will only be completed by a few hundred at best.Its a pretty fun one to boot.

Rube 2:36 AM  

This puppy took me longer than usual, but I had only one writeover... PHOBOS/PHeBOS, (let Demos slip in there somehow). So agee with the rating in the sense of time to complete... just took longer to think of the correct answer.

Had to swallow hard to accept HOTL for 2D. Turns out it was OK, but never heard of the book/moovie/poem/?. Never heard of ORRS island either, but at least this looks like a real word!

BTW, as usual, I didn't notice the theme either. But then, I didn't look either.

You gotta have spent time in NYC to know MOTTST. Will revisit the Great Seal now to find out what ORDO is.


Charles in Austin 3:00 AM  

"The question is -- why do it?" That is a silly question, in my opinion, and won't go there.

I, for one, loved it.

r.alphbunker 4:24 AM  

Puzzle would have been improved if all the Os were circled but it might have sent our host over the edge. Had I noticed the theme I could probably have finished without errors.

dk 6:21 AM  

Lived in Boston, South Station, and one night a few of the lights went out atop the Hotel Essex and the large red neon sign read HOT SEX.

Neko Case lives in Vermont and collects old pianos. I only wish I was half as cool.

OOOOOOOOOOO the puzzle.

😱😱 (2 faces screaming in fear). Generally (not TSO), I am like @ret. chemist, but this time I got the theme, thought it was cute in the Tuesday puzzles are so bad kind of way until I got to NOTOK.

Just because I could not do this (create a puzzle with one vowel)… does not mean that one should.

Tuesday, the day we live to SCORN

Z 6:42 AM  

"I did however, notice the suck." 'nuff said.


mitchs 6:57 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot more than most Tuesdays. Got the gimmick immediately, so seeing how the constructor finessed the fill was interesting. Lots of bad stuff, sure. But I'll take it.

Glimmerglass 7:19 AM  

I'm surprised Rex found ORLOP, PHOBOS, and OBOL unfamiliar. They're as familiar as etui and ecru in xwords. After doing the top third of the grid, it was clear what was going on, and ozonely easy.

John V 7:44 AM  

Now that is one really annoying puzzle. And I do not get annoyed. Really annoying. And now I'm getting on a plane. Sheesh.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Some of you didn't notice it was all O's till you came here? Surely that's sarcasm that's not coming through in the written form. How the heck could a sentient being miss that fact?

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I hasten to add that I'm often slow to pick up on gimmicks, but given that my first entry in the grid was the gimme OMOO, and the next word had lots of O's too, the thought occurred to me that this could be happening that early. Still, brutal for a Tues.

Milford 8:07 AM  

I didn't notice until around the 30th O what the theme/gimmick was. Then I foolishly thought I would fly through the rest. Completely wrong, it took me 3 times longer to complete. The TWOD/DSOS killed me, and I couldn't get the SPOOKS/STROP/PROLOG to make any sense. SPOOKS = spies? PROLOG without the "ue"?
I did like having SNOOPDOGG in there, though.

joho 8:15 AM  

@Rex, I, too, had OTHO and OTTOS written in my margin: I couldn't believe they both showed up!

The theme let me get OROSCO.

I though the cluing was forced in places. Why wasn't COCO Chanel? BROOM could have been as simple as "Sweeper" (Stick between the legs? Yikes!) and SPOOKS could have been clued as "Scares a horse." I don't know if more straight forward clues would have made this easier. Actually, knowing that the only vowel in the puzzle is an O made it pretty easy.

I'm with @r.alphbunker ... why not go all the way with O's and at the end make us circle them, then fill them in to form, what else, a big O! (I am kidding!!!)

@M & A, your all E puzzle is looking good!

Brian 8:20 AM  

Not that uncommon that I'll miss, or more often ignore, and themes or tricks, just focusing on the clues instead.

But yes, this was a nightmare. Absolute crap everywhere. I was going to be in a bad mood, having started my day off with this nonsense until I read the write-up. "Because 'F*&^ you, Sprout!' wouldn't fit" made me snort my tea and laugh out loud. Hilarious!

@Milford: SPOOKS is fairly common slang for spies, esp. those in the CIA. But I've never seen PROLOG without the "ue". Is that allowed in the NYT now? If you can't fit something, just drop the last letters off a real word? Weak.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

I guess Rex thinks this puzzle is a big fat O. The only comment missing from his critique is the encouragement to constructors about how desparate the NYT is for Tuesday puzzles.

I am neither moved to condemn nor stirred to praise. The concept is ok and the execution is ok. You might say I think this puzzle is so so. But it is a Tuesday and Tuesdays are the orphans of the week....


Sue McC 8:36 AM  

Oooooh...only OOOs.
Cool? No.
So-so? No.
Not good. Boo!

orangeblossomspecial 8:37 AM  

The puzzle was filled with unfamiliar words, but knowing they contained 'O' helped. Anyone who has read enough nautical tales has heard of ORLOP, and PHOBOS is as familiar as any orbiter, so I didn't have the same difficulty as Rex.

I had a different take on an appropriate song: the Andrews Sisters singing "Oh Johnny Oh" a hit from the 40s.

There also was a zydeco song popular a few years ago: "Don't mess with my TOOT TOOT", 8D.

Mattyp 8:41 AM  

Rex, you hit the nail on the head. This was the least enjoyable solve for me in awhile. I understand that from the constructor's vantage point, it might be a challenging feat to fit all those O's in. But what is the value or payoff for the solver? Nothing. Seemed more like a chore filling this one out than a diversion. I'll agree that Mott St. was a nice touch though.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

I knew Mott St. but how esoteric can a puzzle get?

quilter1 9:06 AM  

Knew almost everything but still DNF because I used a couple of other vowels not believing that only o was used. So SpuRN for SCORN, heW for MOW. Not very enjoyable.

On vacation for the next ten days or so. See ya later.

Milford 9:12 AM  

I think my problem was I going at the clue as a verb, not a noun. Now it makes more sense. Thanks!

Smitty 9:15 AM  


Stick between the legs? Seriously?

Shamik 9:19 AM  

Did not notice the theme. Did not like the theme. Did not like the puzzle. Knowing it may have kept me from putting in SPURN instead of SCORN with the Naticky crosses seeming just as right as anything else.

Tita 9:27 AM  

Put me in the camp of liked it, though also like that now that it's been done, we won't have to SLOG through it again...

Liked PHOBOS answer...he and BRO Deimos are fitting names for Mars' moons.

@Anon @7:49 - uh, yes...no sarcasm here. Solving late at night is my excuse..."Hmmm...lots of O's...is that the theme? So I guess it must be POOL-ROOM, not -hall. Ho hum, time for bed." Did not see it was ALL o's till I got here!

Nit...OSO and SNOB - 2 repeated answers in back-to-back days? I don't know - isn't that just sloppy editing?

@Anon @8:58...In the NYTimes puzzle, some random city in CA is esoteric...but a main thoroughfare in NY is perfectly fair. The inverse is true for LAT puzzles.

Thanks for the insight yesterday, @acme!

jackj 9:32 AM  

Apparently it isn’t easy to place an “O” in every answer and allow no other vowel to be used in the puzzle without making the puzzle an exercise in solver irritation. Such as DSOS, ORDO, OBOL, OST, PHOBOS, ORLOP make the point but, no matter, it still seems a fun attempt.

The puzzle isn’t just all MOOS and SHOO(s), there are some fun bits as well like, OLDSCHOOL and HOTL; BLOOP and ODDLOT (though it would have been more fun seeing Dr. No’s bodyguard, ODDJOB), and DROOL and SLOPS collectively describe the puzzle in what might be the defining reveal, OOPS, (what hath I wrought?).

Ironically, the hardest entry for me (which should have been the easiest, if done as usual) was ORRS, clued as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Island. For this ice hockey fan, it seems disrespectful and worthy of a 5-minute major penalty with a game misconduct added on for bypassing “Number4BobbyOrr” (and his family).

Having called Pete Collins’ last two puzzles “too much of a good thing”, I owe Pete an apology because Steve Riley has really worked that concept (and stolen Pete’s crown) with this uber “O” crossword extravaganza.

An “O” for outlandish, Mr. Riley.

Mel Ott 9:38 AM  

Not so hot. Not fond of lots of o's.

baja 9:40 AM  

recognizing early on that this puzzle was brought to us by the letter O, it still was too hard for a tuesday. Ost crossing Mott St. as an example. rate it a O (zero).

Mel Ott 9:41 AM  

Jesse OROSCO pitched the last out of both the NLCS and the World Series in 1986. In both cases he threw his glove up into the air as his teammates mobbed him. There is no visual evidence that either glove ever came down.

Rex Parker 9:48 AM  

In the name of refuting utter nonsense, I offer the following stats.

Before today, number of NYT appearances of the following words since I started blogging (Sep. 25, '06):




treedweller 9:51 AM  

oodles of o's

JC66 9:55 AM  

I liked it.

I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island too, it's lovely going through the zoo
It's very fancy on old Delaney Street, you know.
The subway charms us so, when balmy breezes blow to and fro.
And tell me what street compares with MOTT Streett in July,
Sweet push carts gently gliding by
The great big city's a wondrous toy, just made for a girl and boy.
I'll turn Manhattan into an isle of joy.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@Rex - Jeez, they're all positive integers, that means they're the same, no?

Gill I. P. 10:07 AM  

Well yeah, this was a gimmick puzzle. I thought it was pretty clever and it must have been an OSO to construct. It was a tad difficult but in no way was it a Tuesday Step-child.
Lots of 3 letter words - check
Two Roman Emperors - check
Required rap singer - check
Hard to swallow word or two - check
Fun words to say - check
Different than any other Tuesday in recent memory - check
My only complaint is that 50D wasn't Hoity Toity.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

@JC66 beat me by ten minutes in posting the lyrics which show that MOTT ST is not obscure, but known to all familiar with the American Songbook.

But here's an unworkable idea: Change 40 A to the unacceptable partial _______ Michel, for MONT ST; change 32 D to the familiar but groan inducing End of ball? for OON; and, voila, 37 A becomes Winning Tic-Tac-Toe array OOO, for a perfect dead center of all O's!

fruitypants 10:10 AM  

I had BRO, OMOO, ROLOS, and HOHOHO when I called my friend over and said, "I think all the vowels are going to be O's. Why? I bet the fill is going to be terrible!". It sure did deliver.

Not fun.

chefbea 10:14 AM  

Noticed all the oooo's right away but still DNF. Too many weird words.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

If you read "The Terror" you'd find out what happens on the orlop deck.

Gill I. P. 10:20 AM  

By the way...All you early to bed types might check out yesterday's comments. Andrea posted a terrific take on PC's puzzle.

loren muse smith 10:31 AM  

@Acme - so glad you're back!

After sniffing around and plugging in a couple of fill-in-the blanks, I went back and dispatched the NW, thinking, “Wow – so many O’s.” A few seconds later I caught on.

For a Tuesday, this was quite the SLOG. True – lots of so-so fill, but some good stuff, too: TOOT TOOT, HO HO HO, SLOPS, HOOCH, DROOL, SCHMOS, OLD SCHOOL.

SNOOP DOGG – When my son was in sixth grade, “Drop it Like it’s Hot” was all the rage. I dropped him off at school one day, went home and downloaded the lyrics and spent all day memorizing Every. Single. Word. When I picked him up that afternoon, of course, he turned on the CD to play it, and I rapped right along with SNOOP. The stunned, horrified look on his face was worth all the work. “I got the rolie on my arm, and I’m pouring Chandon and I roll the best **** ‘cause I got it goin’ on. …..I'm a gangsta, but y'all knew dat- da big boss DOGG, yeah I had to do dat…” Good times.

Noam D. Elkies 10:37 AM  

"ORDO" is defined at the online M-W: both on its own ("a list of offices and feasts of the Roman Catholic Church for each day of the year"; plural "ordines" - neat, and explaining a bunch of words like ordinary, coordinate, etc.); and as part of the Great Seal phrase, glossed "a new cycle of the ages", and sometimes rendered "new world order"(!).

And of course 23A:HO_HO_HO couldn't be "F*&^ you, Sprout!" because of the U's and Y's. FOK_OFF would work...


JaxInL.A. 10:48 AM  

Once I realized the theme, I settled in for the compromises to see where this puzzle would go. It was fun, like having cake for dinner. I wouldn't want to do to very much, but once in a while it's a novelty. Stunts have their place in my crossworld, and this was tough but fine for me. On to the LAT.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

As someone who actually lived on MOTTST for many years, I'd hardly consider it a main thouroughfare. Before I really got into the puzzle I threw down Bowery and moved on, though Canal St is really the best answer for that clue. At least those are a little more well known.

Nooner 10:50 AM  

I liked "Don't tase me BRO," OLDSCHOOL and SNOOPDOGG. One time on a beach I met this old guy who had an incredible deep voice. I said, "Your voice is amazing! Are you in radio?" and he says, "Why yes-- I'm the Jolly Green Giant." And then belts out the best, most baritone HOHOHO ever!

Lindsay 10:57 AM  

Back in the day when @Loren was memorizing SNOOP DOGG lyrics, I was working as a tour guide at the home of 19th century Maine novelist and former WOTD Sarah Orne Jewett, so The Pearl of ORRS Island, being a 19th century Maine novel, was a flat-out gimmee. Later I worked at the John Paul Jones house, where boning up on the anatomy of sailing ships was de rigeur, so ORLOP was fine with me too.

Then I put LOp in at 47A to answer "Cut (down)" which of course was the clue for 40D instead, and took for absolute ever to figure out what the problem was.

afroqwn 11:19 AM  

I found the gimmick early on, and thought I'd sail through the puzzle. BUT NO! - I entered SWORD instead of STROP at 38D, which caused lots of grief. And I couldn't, for the life of me, think of SCORN at 50A, writing in SNOOT instead.
Anyone remember how, in Philip Roth's "The Human Stain", Coleman Silk's students misunderstood his use of the word SPOOK, which led to his downfall and disgrace?

Sparky 11:26 AM  

About half way down I said to myself "Oh Oh!" @JC66, BobK: beat me to Lorenz Hart. Tic Tac Toe would have been funny. Some of the clues a stretch. Don't say it does not say OH NO to me, rather "How terrible". Same goes for Against the rules.

Must be off. Going for a stress test which is very stressful.

jae 11:32 AM  

@Andrea -- Just read your post from yesterday and of course you are right about providing guidance. I should have added that I do explain/discuss the clues that are tricky or beyond her knowledge base (e.g. that Sp. means that the answer is a Spanish word) without giving up the answer. I also confirm whether or not an answer she has come up with is correct if she asks. And, with yesterday's puzzle, I made her promise to listen to all the songs. Thanks again to you and Michael.

I also just reread my post from yesterday. Sorry about the typos.

jae 11:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven D Skelton 11:37 AM  

What a pile of crap!...or should I say "stool?"

jberg 11:38 AM  

First of all, 29A, "Un castillo." Is that a castle up in the Pyrenees, straddling the border between Spain and France?

List me with those who didn't notice it was all Os. Saw lots of Os, saw OLD SCHOOL OTTOS and ORO OSMOND ORRS and thought maybe there were theme lines where all words started with O, saw the OO ramp at STOOD SNOOPDOGG HOOK - but somehow never saw the actual theme.

I did know ORLOP, PHOBOS, and OBOL, and you pass a sign for ORRS (and Baileys) Islands while driving North along the Maine coast, so I'd put this one medium. On the other hand, I've played many sonatas that don't end with a RONDO- it's often a gigue- so that clue wasn't quite right.

It was a SLOG, though - partly because of the grid, where several sections weren't very connected to the rest of the puzzle.

By the way, if you did put circles in all the O squares you could also have a note: "Don't fill in the circles."

DigitalDan 11:49 AM  

I don't ask much of my Tuesday gimmicks. I thought this was fun, as opposed to the usual Tuesday romp in the woods. Seems to me orlop is a pretty common crosswords word, even if Will avoids it.

Carola 11:50 AM  

@rex, a long-time reader here, finally saying thanks. I've been doing the NY Times crosswords for many years, but until I discovered your blog, I had no idea of how much I was missing - whether it be the ins and outs of crossword constructing or explanations of themes and entries I just didn't get. Today is a perfect example - I didn't see the gimmick until I came here. Thanks, too, for hosting the fabulous Comments section - as the only puzzle-doer in my family, I appreciate the puzzle companionship, along with the wit and all kinds of interesting lore.

Today was a DNF - had no idea for the D in TWOD/DSOs and couldn't get past SpuRN, for SCORN, even though I could see from crosses it wasn't right.

@Anonymous, 7:49 AM ("Some of you didn't notice it was all O's till you came here?"). Sad but true, even though I asked myself what words like OBOL, PHOBOS, and ORLOP (which I happened to know) were doing in a Tuesday puzzle.

@jae - my granddaughter is only 3, but I'm looking ahead!

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

After getting killed on Noel, Veneto and Novo last Tuesday, this week was a picnic. Just as the Watchmen gave Rex "Nepenthe" on Sunday (I had no clue until I came to this site), Aubrey & Maturin gave me "Orlop" without a blink. For my part, I'd like to see it more often in puzzles.

This was fun and once you see all those O's it's no problem to learn a couple of odd facts - that's one of the things I like about doing the crossword. Thanks Mr. Riley!

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Worst Tuesday ever - maybe worst puzzle ever. Awful drek everywhere. I'm going to eat junk food for lunch to commemorate this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Worst comment ever.

oren muse 12:28 PM  

I feel cheated this week. Yesterday’s Beatles puzzle, and today’s O fest- where are my beloved Monday and Tuesday puzzles?

It would have been elegant to have HOOT next to OWLS clued as “Who gives a ____?”

mac 12:41 PM  

I got the theme fairly early and that made it soooo much easier. Still had snoop for spook first, and not on for "not ok". The grid with all the Os does look pretty, though!

Agree Canal St. is the main thoroughfare in Chinatown, but it doesn't go through it, sort of borders it.

Pauline Réage 12:44 PM  

Now that you've all been tortured by the plethora of O's, I invite you to investigate the pleasure of torture hinted at by this puzzle in The Story of O.

PuzzleNut 12:48 PM  

I'm with @Glimmerglass. ORLOP, PHOBOS and OBOL seem like old friends. I'm not sure I'm more surprised that Rex found these uncommon, or by the fact that they have each appeared only once since 2006 in NYT puzzles (per @Rex at 9:48). They must be appearing in some other puzzles because that is the only way I would know them.
Agree that it was pretty tough for a Tuesday, but overall I thought is was just fine.

Deb 1:05 PM  

Thanks for the stats on OBOL, PHOBOS, ORLOP, Rex; I knew the latter and assumed it was because I'd seen the word in puzzles before, but the former are Greek to me. Heh.

As for the puzzle, the only thing enjoyable about it was knowing you'd give it its well-deserved skewering.

Ugly, ugly, ugly puzzle. ("oogly" isn't ugly enough to cover it)

joho 1:14 PM  

More I look at the grid the more impressed I am by all the O's! Yes, some odd words among the answers, but still, what a feat! Congratulations, Steve! TOOTTOOT!

efrex 1:14 PM  

I'm fully in the feh camp, especially since I ended with the dreaded double-Natick (ORONO/ORRS/ONO).

Just too much junk to justify a theme, all already pointed out by those more capable than I.

Welcome back, Andrea!

joho 1:17 PM  

Yes, Andrea, welcome back! The blog just isn't the same without you!

Jim in Chicago 1:19 PM  

Ssssssso many essssssssses. Makes one wonder whether it would be possible to construct a puzzle with sssssss as the only consonant!

Azbert 1:35 PM  

What a sad lot you are --- negative, hostile, destructive. Nit-pickers feigning superiority. If you hate perfectly fun puzzles so much, why do them? If you are constructors, try being constructive. Mr. "Parker" take note.

Bird 1:37 PM  

What a waste of my friggin' time. And today is Tuesday, right? I understand the urge and ego to construct such a dreadful puzzle, but I agree with Rex - keep it to yourself. And shame on Will for publishing this thing. I'm usually not that negative about puzzles, but . . .

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

@Azbert - because it wasn't fun for us. I'm happy it was fun for you, but it wasn't fun for many of us, for some clearly articulated reasons.

fvigeland 2:18 PM  

I'm a constructor, longtime reader and occasional commenter. I accept that Rex will sometimes rip a puzzle apart; it is in a way a part of his charm. But I really think the overwhelming hate that tends to pile on when Rex gives a puzzle a thumbs down is a little strong. We have blog posts day in and day out that scrutinize the puzzle down to every inch--and that's a good thing for us constructors, since it keeps us on our toes! And it's a great thing to have a forum to discuss the puzzle. But it's so disheartening to see people so forcefully dismiss and disparage puzzles as most of the comments above do. Okay, so you don't like O's. I thought this was cool and different from our usual Tuesday. I feel like gimmicks are just jumped on so quickly here and some of you might try to enjoy them just a little bit more.

Don't usually do semi-rants like these, since, as should be clear, I think the comments should be a place for productive discussion. If you don't like the puzzle, okay. It doesn't have to be "the worst puzzle ever."

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

Anyone who completed this puzzle without recognizing such a ubiquitous theme is a robo-solver--programmed to get it, beat it, leave it. This puzzle rewarded those who take a step back, think about what is going on, and apply the conclusion to the solve. If that results in a longer solve time, then so be it. It is a PUZZLE, after all. Puzzle it out.

barbara 2:37 PM  

As someone who spends a week every fall on Orr's island I am offended by your comment!

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

And kudos to fvidgeland, what he wrote.

Lewis 2:38 PM  

With 2D I was thinking HOTeL, so I thought it was a Tuesday rebus at first -- and that didn't compute. Caught on soon enough.

I had trouble in the SE, even knowing the gimmick of the puzzle. Never heard of Conan's team COCO, nor OTHO, and just could suss SCORN and BOOM. So I ended up Googling, which is very rare for me on Tuesday.

The puzzle was neither a drag nor a thrill for me. Always looking forward to the next puzzle!

ACME, you didn't have to tell us who you are as you did in your second post yesterday. It was obvious, and quickly so. Your style is strong and unique.

Me too 2:40 PM  

@Azbert and @vfigeland Right on!

The puzzle was a fun change of pace.

Sfingi 2:50 PM  

Where are our old pals ORR OTT and OONA? Thank God OMOO came to the party.

POCO ma non troppo?

And tell me what St. compares to MOTT St. in July...

I had 40 Os in before I noticed all the Os, and 5 more before I noticed - Only Os.

It seems to have necessitated many Ss (As Chicago pointed out) and Ts.

One booboo - BOOB, not BOOR.

I liked it, because of the snap in how I solved it after I got it.
Also like SNOOPDOGG, and have discovered I like SNOOPDOGG.

andreaomn 2:52 PM  

Taking a step back is what I did, and immeduatly could see a grid filled with roundness. Aha! There's only Os. What next? Trying to understand a bunch of words I've never heard of, that mean the same of others but have big round Os in them.
Not much fun....which in my Mexican accent should sound something like: NOT MOCH FON.

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

fvigeland wins comment of the day.

John V 3:43 PM  

@fvigeland: I concur that the comments typically tend to follow the leader. To that point, I will sometimes post without reading @Rex or the comments, to minimize this temptation. One of my objective in posting a comment is to share essentially my visceral reaction to the puzzle first and leave the technical analysis for later, if at all. I think it is nearly impossible to not be swayed at least in some part by such a strong, talented analyst as @Rex.

Just one solver's approach.

placematfan 3:46 PM  

Good theme idea--just wasn't executed well. I think if a theme like this can't play by the rules, then it shouldn't be allowed to play. Send it back to its room and tell it not to come out until it thinks it can act like a crossword puzzle. ORLOP on a Tuesday? Seriously? Wait, what I meant to say was: ORLOP crossing ORO and PHOBOS on a Tuesday? Ditto for OSO/OST, HOTL/OTRO, OTHO/OCHOS, ORONO/ORRS, and OTTOS/ORDO. And OBOL appearing outside a themeless?! Bad puzzle--bad, bad, bad puzzle.

I started in the middle and when OST/OSO fell I knew something was up, because why would you not use ONT/ONO or, even, OTT/OTO? So my eyes grew to two big O's of anticipation of a satisfying theme/puzzle, but in the end were left a pair of underwhelmed and scrutinous pinpoints.

My Lazy Self (who spends a lot of time in his room) sees this finished grid and immediately resents all the time and effort I spend reworking sections of puzzle submissions, trying to get good fill. This is a good theme that manifested a mediocre puzzle; and mediocrity should not be championed, not here. Purism is not snobbery, purism is what allows a great puzzle to be designated as great (and, as in this case, vice versa).

I wish the constructor had had the foresight to section his puzzle into reworkable quarters or sixths or eighths, giving himself, early on, as much wiggle room as possible to play with section borders, cheater squares, and different fill. This theme begs for really good longfill, although OLDSCHOOL and SNOOPDOGG can hold their own; it seems like this theme could be done with four 10s or 11s, especially with a sectioned grid.

It’s always easy to stand in the bleachers and yell, to criticize; but when a Tuesday puzzle appears in which only the South Central can claim clean fill . . . well, maybe that puzzle needs yelling at. It’s for its own good. Should Solvability ever be ousted as King of Fit-for-Publication Land, all of Cruciverbalania will suffer; this puzzle is not tight, not nearly tight enough for an early-week New York Times.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

I want to thank everyone here for not pointing out that I misspelled desperate in my earlier post. On the other hand it does make me wonder whether anyone, including me, ever reads my posts.

I doubt if there is anyone here who can't express their own thoughts after reading Rex's critique. I am reminded of what Henry Kissenger said about Richard Nixon, that even people who are paranoid have real enemies....


Gill I. P. 4:13 PM  

@placematfan...I really don't think Mr. Riley was going for the Nobel in Cruciverbalism. It was just a puzzle with O's, on a Tuesday....

sanfranman59 4:19 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)

Tue 14:01, 8:57, 1.57, 100%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 7:13, 4:38, 1.56, 100%, Challenging

If last Tuesday's puzzle was out in left field, then this one's out beyond the bleachers in the parking lot. There have been a handful of puzzles with higher ratios than these, but no Tuesday has come close to this.

mitchs 4:21 PM  

@rex: I'm wondering if for one brief moment you considered just letting the picture of Mr. Bill (great, by the way) carry the day, with no additional write up or explanation.

@fvigeland: well said.

loren muse smith 4:24 PM  

@Joho - I'm with you - the more I look at it, the more I like it.Just noticed the graphic KOMODO/DROOL/STOOL crosses.

@Fvigeland - Very well stated.

@JFC - we now know that you can spell separate, correctly!The real question is why I had to skroll up and see the misspelled word (that I hadn't noticed, and I do read your comments) when I have so much left to do today!

Larry 4:28 PM  

I posted an early anonymous comment, dissing the puzzle in a sentence or two. I did so because Rex's paragraph stating why this puzzle shouldn't have appeared was 100% spot-on, it didn't need further explication from me.

The puzzle reminded me of a ballet recital I went to a few weeks ago to watch my 6YO niece. Three hours of stultifingly bad dancing, just for 4 minutes of my niece dancing, who was of course charming, lovely and talented. It all depends upon how much, and what, you've got invested in something, and I had no niece in this puzzle.

@JFC - No, people here are just too polited to point out typos.

the redanman 4:39 PM  


Once I fi gg er ed it out, I didn't care any more to finish as the fill was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo dreadful.

Agree "can does not equal must do".

Tita 5:13 PM  

@JFC - a) I not only read, but look forward to your posts. As for typos, I assume among this erudite bunch that typos are really auto-correctos or phone/pad mis-keyings.

@Gill - xWord Nobel - priceless! And your point is a good one too.
@Fvigeland - well said.

@anon @2:34...not all those who are oblivious are speedsolvers. The lateness of the hour, the robustness of the wine, the banality of the TV, led me to my "Oh - lots of Os" revelation after a leisurely half hour of solving. But bed beckoned, and I was stunned this morning to realize how I could have missed such an obvious thing!
Will that keep me up tonight? Nope. Asa Yul Brynner once recited: "Is a puzzlement!"

Z 5:42 PM  

@JFC- I read all the posts, even the five week old Syndi posts. I do wish you would pick the "Name/URL" option so that "JFC" would appear instead of "anonymous." But I suppose that is just part of your contra-contrarian charm. As for typos, I have sometimes commented when the typo creates a chuckle inducing alternate meaning, but most typo comments are, like yours, the embarrassed confessions of the typist.

And speaking of contra-contrarians - I've never noticed an unwillingness to disagree with Rex, it's just that most often he's right. Have to agree that "worst ever" may be extreme and simplistic, but most of the comments are pretty spot-on about the weaknesses of this puzzle.

I always find Sanfranman59's stats very illuminating, and that is true again today. Two extreme Tuesdays in a row. What will next Tuesday bring?

joho 6:54 PM  

@Fvigeland, great post ... hear, hear!

@sanfranman, your stats are always interesting, thank you for what you do. And, from what you report today, I think that Tuesday has indeed become the new Friday!

4 (sorry) and out.

Pooloniousmonk 7:33 PM  

Many here need an astronomy lesson. I have not seen this much fuss about a well known member of the solar system since the OORT cloud.

Two Ponies 7:40 PM  

I liked this much more than Rex. After all, it's Tuesday!
This must have been very difficult to construct so no big complaints here.
Right from the start I smelled a rat and told PuzzleMate that I had a "stunt puzzle" going on. Explaining the term followed along with the affirmation that I am a nerd.
@ JFC, Calling people on typos has ceased (mercifully) since a certain blogger left long ago.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

"Many here need an astronomy lesson. I have not seen this much fuss about a well known member of the solar system since the OORT cloud."

They only make a fuss when they don't know something ;)

Stephen 7:49 PM  

Incredibly, my last letter was the D of TWOD. I had been jammed on TWO reels? TWO hours? Of course, I had no idea about the DSOS. 2D was a good answer to a deflective clue. Our fearless blogged is too jaded to see it.

Advice: stay away from Rex today. He is in one of those "because "F*&^ you, Sprout!" wouldn't fit" moods. Youch!


Shot Sondwich.

oldbizmark 8:18 PM  

stupid-hard, and stupid for a tuesday after a stupid and hard monday. the beatles suck and i hate the letter "o."

oldbizmark 8:20 PM  

ha ha, coixt records.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

Thank you Loren, Larry, Tita, Z and Two Ponies, but Rex knows better. You all are all too kind. Chicago is in the midst of a heat wave, and I mean hot. The East will suffer from this in the next few days. I prefer to think of my typo as a mental meltdown due to the heatwave. This leads to the question whether Rex's commentary and, indeed, Will's choice of puzzles, as well as the constructor's concept and execution are influenced by external factors such as the weather. We all know about Lon Chaney turning into a werewolf with a full moon. But does it really have to be that extreme? All I can say is that my shortcoming in brainpower today gives me new appreciation that all of this exercise might be influenced by forces beyond the control of the participants. Maybe the Pagans had it right after all....


Anonymous 8:30 PM  

Learned what an Orlon deck was when that turned out to be where the cheap "state rooms" on the ferry from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii were located. Not a good ride for me with my claustrophobia and queasy stomach.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

Learned what an Orlop deck was when that turned out to be where the cheap "state rooms" on the ferry from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii were located. Not a good ride for me with my claustrophobia and queasy stomach.

JenCT 8:44 PM  

I had to chime in at this late hour just to say:

@loren: I laughed out loud at your Snoop Dogg singalong story - great prank!

@Tita: I agree about the various reasons for not noticing the theme (I didn't either - d'oh!)

@Rex: that video is pretty wild! Thanks for that.

loren muse smith 8:59 PM  

@JFC - I totaly understand the heat issue. It was relly hot and humid hear today in West Virginia, and I sufered mightily. Give me December over June any day!

@JenCT - I'm afraid I've had great fun at my children's expense over the years. The upside is, they've learned to be good sports. (With the unfortunate exception of my daughter's 7th grade April 1st packed lunch - it took her a while to forgive me. Tough age.)

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Orrs refers to Orrs Island, ME, which is near Brunswick, where HBS once lived

Anonymous 9:33 PM  

Still drinking.

Anon 12:07 10:37 PM  

@Anon 9:33 Is that you from 12:09 last night, or me from 12:04 last night who's still drinking? 'Cause I don't know if it's still or again!

Z 11:05 PM  

@Anonymice - adopt a moniker and you'll not be confused about who you are even if you keep drinking.

Went to the Tiger game tonight. 93° at game time. 88° at 10:00 when it finished. I'll let you know if I can use the heat as an excuse for my solve in about 9 hours.

Pooloniousmonk 11:26 PM  

That's why they need an astronomy lesson.

Joe The Juggler 12:01 AM  

Modesty Blasé said...
Oh, look, memorizing all the Roman Emperors as well as collecting ancient Greek coins has finally paid off!

1:48 AM
ahsieh said...
"Roman emperor" and "Holy Roman emperor" are two different things, related in name only.
Since this puzzle had both, I assume Modestly Blaise meant what he or she said.

sanfranman59 1:50 AM  

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 8:48, 6:50, 1.29, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 14:01, 8:57, 1.57, 100%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:47, 3:41, 1.30, 100%, Challenging (highest median solve time of 156 Mondays)
Tue 7:05, 4:38, 1.53, 100%, Challenging

Last Tuesday's puzzle had the highest median solve times of any Tuesday in 3 years by a comfortable margin. This week's blow last week's out of the water (by 2 full minutes in the All Solvers group and by 40 seconds in the Top 100). I'm not sure if Will's decided to change things up, but the last couple of weeks sure are effing up my stats!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

adorable and not hard-- what's with you people?

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Given Orrs Island is near Bruunswick Maine and HBS wrote/ lived in Brunswick, then there must be eight days in the week with the eighth day before Sunday and after Saturday -- and to visit this on a Tuesday?

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

I've been reading this blog for three years, and doing crosswords much longer. Never left a comment before. I'm de-lurking just to say that I'm giving up on Rex. Whatever insights he may provide are more than negated by his nastiness and (crossword) narrow-mindedness. He's gotten worse the past few months, and just isn't worth reading anymore. There are still the comments by others to read, and other crossword blogs.

ondroo corlo mochols 5:27 AM  

Super late and jetlagged, but, LoooooV'd it bec it makes you think about woooooords.
Is that not the whole fun point of it all???!!!
Sure, the OTHO/OTTO was a tad toooooo moooch, and mucho Spanish, but the stunt stopped and made people think.
Yes, I too don't get the hate.

Why keep something like this to yourself? Some fabulous words jurking about: SNOOPDOG, OLDSCHOOL, ODDLOT, even OROSCO (a name AND a sports figure, AND someone I didn't know AND I thought it had a Z and yet, I liked!)
AND it makes people think about words on a different level. Soooo... Bravoooo!

Not perfect, but totally thought provoking as evidenced by the lively comments.
I'll even bet some of the haters end up appreciating this weeks later! Sneaky bastard! :)

Waxy in Montreal 11:39 AM  

Thought for way too long that some weird variation of POCONOS was the Place for a Break (36D). Also wondered why the constructor didn't manage to get the entire name YOKO ONO into the grid - a natural, IMHO. Finally, SPOOKS is one of those words that apparently make American networks very nervous - otherwise, how would you explain that the long-running British spy show of that name had to be re-christened MI-5 when PBS began to air it? Just my two obol's worth...

Ginger 1:38 PM  

Regarding ORLOP, OBOL etc; It seems to me that many puzzles in 'lesser' forums resort to using crosswordese with a far greater frequency than the 'gold standard' NYT. That a word has been used only once or twice in the WS era, does not mean that it hasn't been used many, many times in other outlets. I think this speaks well for Will and his editing skills. It is also one reason why this 'O' puzzle stood out so glaringly.

I caught on to the gimmick with my first 3 or 4 entries, but I solve on paper without the clock. In fact, the whole thing went down pretty quickly, until post-solving, I checked myself and discovered 3 errors. OOOOH well. To me it was still fun, and caused me to stretch my mental muscles.

@Acme I hope you enjoyed Australia (now there was a place missed on sunday). As has been said, but bears repeating, DON'T BE A STRANGER! We miss you!

Solving in Seattle 1:47 PM  

Hawaiian fOr gOOd is "OnO," which is what I thOught when I nOticed "O" being the Only vOwel. I, fOr One, appreciate the puzzle Steve and Will.

Only write Over KOMOnO, which meant that the crOss, Reason for a bib, was nROOL.

ShOut Out tO @DirigOnzO with the crOssing of ORONO and ORRS Island, Maine.

I spOtted @Acme's style immediately yesterday, despite the "AnonymOus" mOniker. WelcOme hOme!

I am nOw rOOting fOr the damn Yankees tO win #28.

DMGrandma 3:28 PM  

Fun puzzle! First entries were ORLOP and OBOL, both learned from doing puzzles. Didn't catch on to the O thing right away, as I had PHOebe for the moon. Easily corrected when I realized "e" was a no-no. Even managed to dredge up the rapper and could almost hear MOTTST being sung. Thanks to those who provided the source, assuring me I'm not inventing things. My last fill was the B at 5A. Didn't see how it could be anything else, but BLOOP????

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

I finished with 69 errors. Had all A's.

ba-da boom.

Yeah, this was pretty much a waste of time. I was wondering early on why there was such an overwhelming precentage of crappy fill. Then I noticed that not only were there a lot of O's inn my answers, but that there were no other vowels. This made finishing the grid much easier, as it removed most of the guesswork from the words I didn't know (ie. most of the words in this puzzle).

Since I seem to be the only person here who bothered to count them, I guess that leaves me to point out that the clue to 52d is either "a hint to this puzzle's solution" or a random coincidence. Since the constructor obviously went to great pains to create this I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he fixed the number of O's at 69 and clued OTHO that way deliberately. In fact, let's just call this the world's first Otho themed crossword.

Hoping for a real crossword tomorrow.

Dorogonzo (for today only) 3:49 PM  

Anony 3:34PM -69, really? I like it even better now! And nice catch on the clue for 52d (where I had a wrong letter, btw - in fact, I had a couple of wrong letters in that corner).

@SiS - thanks for noticing; and he even got my beloved GTO(S) into the grid!

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Best comment ever.

Spacecraft 7:49 PM  

OFL summed it up; I can only add that it played annoyingly-mediumish for me because of all the obscure fill. If anyone else wants to try something like this, I have one word of advice:


Anne M 8:26 PM  

I for another loved it, and got it all except the D in twod, like Stephen. Did no one else think to point out to Rex that it is spooks and hook, not spoofs and hoof? Come on you guys, it was fun! Anne in Oregon

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

The catchy musical phrase is a "hook" as in it hooks you in all you hooters out there :)

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

DNF. Got annoyed and quit with about 3/4 left blank.

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