City south of Kyiv / TUE 4-23-12 / Nicolas who painted Four Seasons / Bill who co-owns Four Seasons hotel company / Dweller along Mekong

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Constructor: Severin T. Nelson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: Four Seasons — grid includes all of the seasons (each clued as [One of the four seasons]), as well as four different answers related to the phrase "four seasons":

  • 7D: Bill who co-owns the Four Seasons hotel company (GATES)
  • 32A: Nicolas who painted "The Four Seasons" (POUSSIN)
  • 48A: Antonio who composed "The Four Seasons" (VIVALDI)
  • 57D: Frankie of the Four Seasons (VALLI)

Word of the Day: Nicolas POUSSIN  —

Nicolas Poussin (French: [nikɔlɑ pusɛ̃]; 15 June 1594 – 19 November 1665) was the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style, although he spent most of his working life in Rome. His work is characterized by clarity, logic, and order, and favors line over color. Until the 20th century he remained a major inspiration for such classically oriented artists as Jacques-Louis DavidJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Paul Cézanne.
He worked in Rome for a circle of leading collectors there and elsewhere, except for a short period when Cardinal Richelieu ordered him back to France to serve as First Painter to the King. Most of his works are history paintings of religious or mythological subjects that very often have a large landscape element.
• • •

So, this is a tale of two puzzle elements: the theme and the fill. The theme ... grew on me. I mean, it's half just seasons, so that's dull, but the addition of all the different Four Seasons-related people gave the theme an enjoyably loopy twist. So, good. The fill, on the other hand ... it's just not ready for prime time. This puzzle should've been rejected pending a. a complete overhaul of the non-theme-related fill and b. a refigured grid that is within legal limits (this one is 80 words and the max is 78 ... I'm willing to bend the rules for greatness, but Ho Ly Moly the fill is so bad that there is no excuse for going to 80. The *only* way you ever get to go to 80 is to accommodate some incredibly oddly-demanding theme *while also* making sure the fill is very smooth). I can't enumerate everything that's wrong with the fill, but it's considerable. I'd say something close to half the grid qualifies as crosswordese and/or suboptimal fill. There's suffixes (-ITE, -ENNE, and of course -OON, which always ENDUES me with LOL) and prefixes and partials and more French than I care to shake a stick at. The coup de grace, the piece de resistance, the joie de vivre, is of course the one-essed ODESA (44A: City south of Kyiv). I'm laughing even as I'm typing it. Maybe that can be fill at some point: ONEESS. I mean, if ONE HORSE, why not ONE ESS? Here's the thing—anyone who constructs knows there is No Excuse for how needlessly bad the fill is. The standard for fill now appears to be "someone used it somewhere at some time" or "it's in some database so good enough!" But an editor simply should not allow a poorly filled grid like this one to go out into the world. Take the time to encourage polish, esp. with less experienced constructors. For the love of all that is good and pure in the world. Please. I mean, the theme is cute—the fill should let us appreciate that, not suffocate us in a miasma of mediocrity.


I like the clue for ITO, mainly because it sounds like a drink order (20A: Midori on the ice).

Glancing over the dull-as-dishwater clues, I realize I have nothing more to say about this puzzle. Again, there's a spark of imagination in the theme, but you've Gotta set the bar higher where fill is concerned.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    115 comments:

    jae 12:05 AM  

    Pretty tough for a Tues.   PTERO, ODESA, POUSSIN, TRISTE, RIRE..are not exactly early week fare.  Then you have icky stuff like ITA and is sibling IAT and their half brothers ITE, ITO, and ALI, and their sisters ENNE, ETE and OON.  Not good!   

    Erasure: OStE for OSSE

    Educated guess: RIRE/POUSSIN cross.  Remembered that risible has something to do with laughter.

    Not a fan.

    Brendan McNamara 12:08 AM  
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    Brendan McNamara 12:09 AM  

    Yup, total guess on the vowel in RIRE/POUSSIN. Never heard of ENDUE before. Felt oddly Thursday-like.

    Kyle Clarke 12:11 AM  

    For once a puzzle that you rated medium challenging, I would rank easier. Only got stuck on rire/poussin.

    NYer 12:12 AM  

    @rex, i don't understand...is this the puzzle that you said was insane, and that impressed your friends? Am I missing something here? And how is this challenging? Pretty average time for me. I knew three of the four theme answers, and got the fourth from the down crosses.

    Jes Wondrin' 12:15 AM  

    "Until the 20th century he remained a major inspiration for such classically oriented artists as Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Paul Cézanne."

    What happened to change that? Did Cézanne wake up one day and realize that POUSSIN was nothing more than a hack? Did they all come to this realization independently or at the same time? Was there a meeting with a vote or something?

    Carola 12:18 AM  

    I liked it, was impressed at eight theme answers. I liked the seasons circling in order around the grid and especially liked POUSSIN and VIVALDI balancing each other. Thought ONE HORSE was good, also TENTACLE INTERTIA, SHADOW. I somehow didn't much notice the OON, ITA, ITE, etc., group.

    SPRING crosses RAKE and AUTUMN crosses PROM, which would be backwards where I live. About SUMMER crossing ETE - I wonder if constructors would see this as a flaw or a bonus answer.

    Anonymous 12:19 AM  

    I thought today's puzzle was supposed to be something out of this world! ??!!

    Gill I. P. 12:27 AM  

    I was TRISTE - did not RIRE - felt like the ASP bit my POUSSIN. But, it made my PTERO SPRING ANEW.
    This was so different that I really liked it. It did take a while but the more I looked at the finished puzzle, the more I liked it.
    All the names made me want to make up a story. I'll leave ELAINE to @ED and VIVALDI to @Jackj.
    I'll be looking for you Severin T. - h

    thursdaysd 1:07 AM  

    Went down pretty fast, although I hated ENDUE.

    Not sure what the problem is with ODESA, it's the Ukrainian spelling (as opposed to the Russian), and the city is now in Ukraine.

    Autumn Casttele Mideast 1:26 AM  

    Theme fabulous, four seasons around the grid, four four seasons references in the grid
    (POUSSIN/VIVALDI, GATES/ VALLI)
    and having them be all people AND parallel.

    And the luck of AUTUMN/WINTER, SPRING/SUMMER all being 6 letters.
    I can not emphasize the synchronicity of all this enough.
    That's why Will must have allowed 80 words and overlooked the fill. I don't really care if there are 76, 78, or 80 words...the grid still looked fine. I don't know really what to say about that.
    The boys at the tourney just kept saying "ENDUE?!!! ENDUE??!!! ODESA???!!! Come on!" but it didn't effect me that much. I was just happy not to leave one square blank!

    Martin 1:49 AM  

    Russians spell Odessa "Оде́сса" which is why our transliteration had been "Odessa." But the city is in Ukraine, where it is spelled "Одеса." Russian and Ukrainian are different languges.

    Odesa is the preferred spelling in English because that's what the natives want it to be. You can ignore local feelings and continue to spell Beijing "Peking," for instance, but it pretty much means the locals should bow to our convenience.

    Anyway, the correct spelling has appeared a few times in the Shortz era and a few more times in the Maleska and Weng eras.

    BTW, the last appearance was seven years ago, also on a Tuesday. Using the Ukrainian spelling of Kiev, Kyiv, was a nice signal I thought. Another Ukrainian spelling, Lviv instead of Lvov, was also used a few years ago but I forgot the particulars.

    Since Odesa is actually the correct spelling, I predict a more rigorous Odesa (Ukraine) versus Odessa (Texas) separation in future clues.

    Greg Charles 1:55 AM  

    I'm also confused. What happened to the impressive puzzle Rex promised yesterday? I never even saw the clues for ODESA, ITO, or OSSE because the puzzle filled itself. Well, except for RIRE, ENDUE, and POUSSIN of course, which were all in the Same. Damned. Corner. It was like being in a spelling bee where the first word is rabbit, the second is table, and the third is schistosomiasis.

    thursdaysd 2:32 AM  

    Actually, the natives in Odesa probably do want it spelled Odessa, in the Crimean region they still speak Russian (Stalin only added it to the Ukrainian SSR in the 1950s). But it is nonetheless part of Ukraine, and presumably the government wants it spelled Odesa.

    chefwen 2:45 AM  

    Went trippin' on through this one like it was a Monday until I arrived at the NE where TRISTE/POUSSIN/PTERO/ENDUES stuck out its nasty foot and literally tripped me up. Did not think I was going to finish on a Tuesday, which was going to put me in the "house of shame" but, I managed to claw myself to the finish line.

    Fen before BOG @5A and ELIsa before ELIHU at 58A (should have known better at that one.) Those were my only write overs, but DANG it took me a long, long, time to get that NE buttoned up.

    syndy 3:10 AM  

    Well yeah the Kyiv thing kinda gave a clue that the spelling of ODESA was not going to be crosswordese as usual.ENDUE is also unusual but the definition is spot on so suck it up.I had OStE but no other problems called it easy medium and liked it much better than yesterday's dog.

    Ellen S 3:29 AM  

    Huh. I finished this baby in a shade under 12 minutes, which for me is blazingly fast. I knew RIRE, but blanked momentarily on PTERO, having only the _TERO, so the kitten-in-distress did not jump out at me, so to speak. So my hangup about the painter was not the "I" but the "U". I blithely filled in POiSSON (getting me further away from the treed cat), until I realized, oh, yeah, that is familiar, because it's a fish. POUSSON gave me the cat and everything. I even knew ENDUE -- probably heard it in an episode of Downton Abbey, or read it in a Jane Austen novel. Or Canterbury Tales; even so, it's a good word, hasn't been ruined yet.

    I'm still not so much into the aesthetics, counting words and black spaces, stacks and such, so ... I liked it but disappointed that there was nothing "insane."

    @Thursdaysd and @Martin, thanks for all the interesting scoop on ODESSA.

    Gotta stop typing now -- my cat is not UPATREE, but down here knocking over my iPad, stepping on the keyboard and otherwise urging me to feed her. I hear and I obey.

    Davis 3:34 AM  

    I'm on Rex's boat with regard to today's puzzle. Neat theme, but it didn't justify ENDUES (?!), RIRE, OON, ITE, and the rest—I'd want to see a much fancier constructing stunt before I felt good about those.

    Also, I'm okay with it if we're creating a new bit of crosswordese with one-S ODESA, but how about we not kick that off on a Tuesday, particularly one that's already filled to the brim with prefixes and postfixes? This is not a novice-friendly puzzle, as I expect Tuesdays to be.

    loren muse smith 5:54 AM  
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    loren muse smith 6:30 AM  

    Wow, do I feel DENSE. I finished this without noticing the four “Four Seasons” clues. Sheesh. Boy *that* sure ramps this up a ton! Like @Acme said – Fabulous – all seasons 6 letters, all people, all parallel.

    That POUSSIN/UP A TREE/ PTERO area was hard for me, too. Who the heck is expecting a word to begin with PT?

    RIRE, TRISTE, ETE. . . Poor dad. He and mom are visiting, by the way.

    The one-n ANA bugs me as much as the one-s ODESA. Always does.

    @M &A – YUL love this one’s AURA! U SERtainly can’t miss the URDU URNS shipped via UPS from MSU by LARUSSA (or ELIHU) last AUTUMN. (And then ENDUES. I can’t use that in a sentence.)

    Rex’ point is well taken on a lot of the fill. But I still really appreciate the balance, the execution, the idea of the puzzle. I liked this one a lot. Alert the press.

    Maybe I’m in a really good mood because last might my daughter SAW TO IT that her lacrosse team spanked – for the first time – a perennial state powerhouse. Yay! All you ENNEs with sticks!

    Nice one, Severin. Really, really neat.

    imsdave 6:32 AM  

    I liked it. I forgive the fill for the overall effect.

    Check out today's LAT. Frequent commenter John V has teamed up with Jeff Chen to produce a very entertaining puzzle.

    Anonymous 6:41 AM  

    I loved this puzzle! The balance, the extra FourSeasons clues, plus ete! I also loved that the words and the cluing were NOT from the same old same old! It was very fresh. I object to @Rex objection to the variant spellings, especially when hints are given for the variation. The "new" words were very inferable -we all know pterodactyl. Much better general knowledge than some of the current culture dross in some puzzles!

    Imfromjersey 6:54 AM  

    I went to the marbles tourney and my table mates had a long discussion on nearly being Naticked by Poussin/Rire. An obscure French painter crossing a French term I've never heard? Ugh. I liked the theme but I'm with Rex te crosswordese and partials kill the joy.

    chefbea 6:56 AM  

    Good morning. Have not done the puzzle yet or read the comments...Have downloaded the puzzle and also the LA Times puzzle which I have been doing lately. The constructor of the LA puzzle - a debut -is none other than our Rexite...John V. Congrats to John V.

    See you all later

    Anonymous 6:58 AM  

    I guess if u had a rire during ete u wouldn't be triste..

    Anonymous 7:05 AM  

    I had no problem with PTERO; always thought the winged dinosaur, the Pterodactyl, was pretty cool. Interesting point about the spelling, ODESA. A quick check shows that's how Google Maps spells it. Remembered POUSSIN from a college art history class 40 years ago! Must have liked his work.

    Milford 7:06 AM  

    Didn't know what exactly to expect today after @Rex's "impressive" comment yesterday (good?bad?ugly?). Ended with a rather average time for a Tuesday, but it was an easy puzzle with a stumper of a section in the upper right, with all that's been mentioned. Finally untangled the French stuff.

    Have to say I missed ODESA - I had switched to the downs at that point and it just filled itself in.

    I will admit to not noticing the GATES and VALLI clues being in the theme - too subtle for me, I guess. But knowing now that there were 4 four seasons references elevates the puzzle.

    Gotta love anytime the Spartans make it into a puzzle.

    Elle54 7:09 AM  

    I don't know...I looked back at the puzzle and all I see are interesting words like TELECAST TENTACLE DAKOTA SIERRA GETTY REHEARSE INERTIA.
    Did not get naticked cuz I know some French for RIRE.
    Cute puzzle!

    Elle54 7:12 AM  

    Plus my black cat SHADOW got a shout out!

    John V 7:21 AM  

    Hand up for RIRE/POUSSIN Natick. Otherwise, felt really pretty easy. Wanted FEN before BOG, RUG before LSD.

    Doris 7:23 AM  

    Knew ENDUE from Milton,though he spelled it INDUE and had a 17th-century ending on it:

    HOW soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
    Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
    My hasting days fly on with full career,
    But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.
    Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
    That I to manhood am arrived so near,
    And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
    That some more timely-happy spirits INDU'TH.
    Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
    It shall be still in strictest measure even
    To that same lot, however mean or high,
    Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven,
    All is, if I have grace to use it so,
    As ever in my great Task-master’s eye

    Z 7:34 AM  

    I'm more with OFL than ACME and LMS on this one. Working from NW to SE I couldn't see what the complaints were going to be about. Then I ran into the NE. Oof. Four French words, a Greek prefix, a Latin prefix (I think), and a Latin partial. ALL IN ONE LITTLE 8x7 CORNER (sorry - didn't mean to shout).

    Oh, for those expecting something great, here is what Rex said, "OK, that's it. Brace yourself for tomorrow's puzzle. The early chatter is ... insane (it was one of the puzzles at the Marbles crossword tournament that took place this past weekend; my friends were ... let's say 'impressed'; yes, that's non-commital enough)." If you've been reading Rex long enough you should have recognized the hints.

    Malapopped GaTes Museum before GETTY. hand up for the fishy French painter first, along with RouE before RIRE. I also had to fix TELEviSe. With the fish before the painter, my cat was inATREE before she was UP A TREE (@EllenS- I feed her before I get the paper).

    Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

    I agree with Tex. . . . except for the rating. For me "easy-medium." Did the NYT publish a different puzzle than Rex expected yesterday?

    Rob C 7:49 AM  

    Played about Tuesday-medium for me. Was all revved up after Rex's promo yesterday. Theme was good, but 8 shorter theme answers isn't really better or worse than 4 longer themers.

    But the fill did suffer a bit. Too many foreign words and plenty of blah. I will say, I did like the Rex-maligned ONE HORSE.

    All in all, I liked it well enough. Curious as to Rex's thoughts on the hype he presented yesterday.

    wordie 7:53 AM  

    I loved this puzzle! I didn't notice the partials very much and loved all the four seasons clues. I knew Vivaldi with no crosses. When I lived in Iowa City I listened to a great radio station based at the University of Northern Iowa which had a wonderful baroque program that I rarely missed. I loved all the French as well. I'll look forward to more of Severin's puzzles!

    Anonymous 7:56 AM  

    I was also confused about ODESA (44A: city south of Kyiv) until I noticed the cross with NOVA (39D: Long-running PBS science series). Nova Odesa is another city in Ukraine and is not the same as Odessa.

    I've no idea how Rex has time for this every day, but I love it! I recently became an almost daily reader because it's so awesome. Thanks!

    loren muse smith 7:58 AM  

    I just finished @John V’s and Jeff Chen’s puzzle in the LAT. Very clever on so many “fronts!” Brrrravo, you, two!

    retired_chemist 8:20 AM  

    Easy, but I had a time more like for a challenging puzzle. Spent 90 seconds (!) tracking down what was wrong. Turns out it was ENDOWS @ 19A, with a failure to check the crosses first thing. French - no problem. Names, of which there were a lot - only POUSSIN was a WTF. Put in each season with a cross or two, knew GETTY, VIVALDI, LARUSSA, JASONS, ELAINE......

    I agree some of the fill was dreck, but it bothered me a lot less that it did Rex (as usual).

    Thanks, Mr.Nelson.

    joho 8:25 AM  

    Well, I'm just as DENSE or even DENSER than @LMS and @Milford by not noticing the extra layer of Four Seasons clues within the puzzle. That, with the border imbedded with the actual Four
    Seasons makes for an impressive theme.

    I so wanted imbUES but am happy to have learned a new word.

    Like @Carola I noticed the bonus words ETE, RAKE, and PROM and wondered what happened with WINTER.
    Wait a minute, doesn't NEVE mean snow or ice? Somebody?

    As Tuesdays go, I think was above average, thanks, Severin!

    MetaRex 8:32 AM  
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    loren muse smith 8:32 AM  

    @joho - wow. I'm impressed. Are you part Eskimo? I always call it firn. Right.

    né•vé (neɪˈveɪ)

    n., pl. -vés.
    1. granular snow accumulated on high mountains and subsequently compacted into glacial ice.
    2. a field of such snow. Also called firn.

    MetaRex 8:44 AM  

    Had POISSON for POUSSIN for a while...enjoyed the math-art mix-up...

    Lotta reactions to this one...

    First, reax to Rex's reax...Not Good Enough for CrossWorld

    Next, a real-time experiment to see if getting down to 78W woulda been feasible...A Dinosaur Awakens to Blunder through the Underbrush for an Hour

    Finally, a bottom line of sorts...Publish or Not? Jesus!

    dk 9:00 AM  

    Hi Two Ponies. Where did you wander off to?

    So I finish the puzzle whose early reviews were superlative, read a pan by Rex and dumb-out over STEREO and REHEARSE (what to do after a disinterment).

    Another inch or two of snow last night. We are skipping 3 seasons here in WI. And, the birds are returning south with PTERO extended skyward in classic gesture of disdain.

    This puzzle had promise and disappointed in a way only Tuesdays can.

    ���� (2 disappointed faces)

    mac 9:01 AM  

    Lots of little words, but I liked this one. All the French and artsy stuff was easy, and Larussa was filled in with the crosses.

    Only write-overs were in osse (wanted oste) and televise for telecast, and I was so sure the actor Bateman was called Justin but that would preclude a plural. Just realize now he has a sister called Justine.

    I once heard Neve Campbell explain that she was named for the Dutch word for (male) cousin, neef. No idea why.

    On to the L.A.g

    V Putin 9:03 AM  

    The correce transliteration of Moscow is Moskva. If this is not immediately corrected in all US references, I'll come over and personally kick each and every one of your asses.

    jackj 9:12 AM  

    Princess SUMMERFALLWINTERSPRING visits the Grey Lady and after hoping in print for a ”head-bangingly tricky” Tuesday, (one that had “impressed” mini-ACPT participants in regional contests), I was fully prepared to start today’s comment with “Be careful what you wish for…”.

    But being “impressed” only seems to indicate that this excellent puzzle was slightly upscale from the normal Tuesday fare, (and significantly more fun to solve), though it obviously wasn’t a friendly trip for the “impressed” speed demons.

    By no means was this a good puzzle for recruiting tentative early week solving prospects, but for those who dive in without fear of being skunked it was a glorious romp.

    The four seasons filled in easily around the grid as did their associated theme entries, referencing the Four Seasons hotel, vocal group, etc, but surprisingly not including Manhattan’s elegant Four Seasons Restaurant.

    The first bit of trickery came with the “Marsh” clue that to Bostonians is automatically a FEN but, of course, here it’s a BOG and that means we’re looking for “BANE of one’s existence” not the “FACT of…”

    Moving right along, the upper right turned into a French 101 pop quiz asking for ETE, RIRE, TRISTE and POUSSIN with a dollop of Greek thrown in, looking for a “Wing: Prefix”, for PTERO, (and that isn’t a poser as long as one knows dinosaurs and remembers the PTEROdactyl, the one that looks like the evil cousin of a pelican on steroids).

    Of course there were the easy/obvious bits of chicanery also, most notably when “Put on the air” wasn’t TELEVISE, but it needed a slight twist to the right to give us TELECAST.

    Fill-wise, I’ll put up with a LARUSSA and a POUSSIN any day if I’m getting ONEHORSE, UPATREE, TENTACLE and SAWTOIT in return.

    So, add me to the “impressed” group but also put me in the “All our Tuesday’s should be as good as this one” crowd!

    A sterling debut from Severin Nelson!

    jberg 9:16 AM  

    I loved it. First got the theme from a non-theme answer, 34A - I thought,"Hey, that's a Christmas clue! Maybe we're getting stuff from all four seasons!" As has been said, the great things was not only the number of theme answers, but the variations on the meaning of "Four Seasons." And the fill didn't really bother me - my only problem was with LARUSSA, and the crosses made that one clear.


    But even better than the theme is the debate about Ukrainian transliteration on this blog! Wow, it's nice to see people care so much! But to insert the voice of reason:

    1. In America, we call things by their American names, e.g. Germany (not Deutschland), Moscow (as Mr. Putin just reminded us), and Copenhagen.

    2. As has also been said, the Ukrainian spelling is clued by the Ukrainian spelling of Kyiv; if the answer was Russian, it would have been Kiev. And if you don't know Ukrainian spellings? Then I can't help you! Next you'll be claiming you don't know where Dagestan is!

    POUSSIN's painting "A Dance to the Music of Time" gave Anthony Powell's 9-volume novel its title; and a study of his work was the major intellectual contribution of Anthony Blunt, a British aristocrat best known for being a Russian spy. Surely that's enough notoriety to get him into a Tuesday puzzle!

    Writeovers: Summer before SPRING, Spring before SUMMER, winter before AUTUMN. Got WINTER right off, though!

    Susan McConnell 9:39 AM  

    I wanted to like this more, because I sure do appreciate working in all of those theme answers. But Rex has a valid point. I don't care about the word count, but the bulk of the non-theme fill is blah, and brings what should have been a great puzzle down. It's a shame.

    chefbea 9:40 AM  

    Very easy puzzle Had a few write-overs but it all came clear. Really wanted the four seasons, singing group to be in there.

    And I agree @John v's puzzle is great!!

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:42 AM  

    Same two write-overs as @mac: OSTE/OSSE and TELEVISE/TELECAST.

    Was going to say that one great answer had been omitted, but, alas, the correct title is P. D. Q. Bach's The Seasonings, not The Four Seasonings as I had mistakenly remembered it.

    Oh, well, as @Ellen S hints, one man's meat is another man's poisson.

    quilter1 9:43 AM  

    I liked it and all the answers were in my mental data base so I rate it easy. As an art minor in college and a lover of my NPR classical station the art and music clues were all gimmes.
    @wordie: the baroque program is still on Sunday mornings.
    On to the LAT puzzle.

    Cheerio 9:46 AM  


    I agree with those who liked this puzzle. I thought it was subtly good. Elegant. I loved how many different four seasons clues there are. Loved PTERO, because it was hard until I had the P and the T and then remembered Pterodactyl, which I faintly remember as yes - having wings! Are there any other familiar uses of this prefix? I enjoyed learning that Eli is short for Elihu, that Odessa can be spelled with one S, and to be reminded of Poussin (isn't he the one with many, many paintings of cherubs in gardens all done in pastel shades of pinks, greens and blues? So kitschy to a modern eye!) I am trying to think of English cognates to RIRE, but haven't come up with any so far. Will have to look that up along with CROUPIER.

    Scott 9:47 AM  

    I am NOT liking the trend lately of the NYT allowing really crappy fill and extremely difficult words early in the week. Could not get past having "ENDOWS" for "Provides with a quality" "Endues?" And the entire RIRE / PTERO nonsense on a Tuesday?

    Come on NYT! Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be the days those of us of average intellect can actually complete the puzzle :)

    Eric 9:57 AM  

    This puzzle was like walking through shitty, shitty mud.

    Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch 10:20 AM  

    Puzzle, blah blah blah. What's important is that someone named their child Severin, the protagonist of Venus in Furs.

    Sparky 10:23 AM  

    Puzzled and kept looking for the WOW hinted yesterday. bog and halo first so I thought perhaps easy clues that really aren't so easy. Nope. Anyrood, almost finished. Found two theme sets amusing. Hewn before SAWN and not completely corrected so SIERRA remained pIERRe, Ah, me.

    I am going to waddle over to the LA Times. Three geese have been sitting on the Tiki Hut across the canal. Honk, honk.

    Cheerio 10:23 AM  

    All of the following appear to mean BONE:

    Os- (plural is Ossa-), Osse-, Osseo-, Oste-, Osteo.

    Why so many? Not to mention Ossobuco. And Ortho- means "straight", not bone. I suppose that makes some sort of vague sense, what with Orthogonal meaning perpindcular.

    Debby

    Sparky 10:28 AM  

    @BobK. I can always count on you and one man's Mede is another man's Persian. Yuk, yuk, yuk.

    Wikipedia 10:34 AM  

    Fishy Math Artist?

    Sfingi 10:41 AM  

    Fairly easy, nice subject.

    POUSSIN's 4 Seasons reminds me of Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life. Both are dark, have religious references, a boat and no snow. Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute in Utica has one of the 2 sets of Coles' Poussin is much earlier, and may be an influence as historical landscape art.

    Vivaldi and Valli are both favorites here. We saw Valli in Lawrence MA a few years ago on a beautiful summer night.

    Why are the seasons not capitalized? Anyone? What about the other word for autumn, fall?

    @Cheerio - Hope I continue to have ortho-ossi.

    Didn't know RIRE LARUSSA or NEVE - the usual suspects: French, sports, youth.

    Sfingi 10:59 AM  

    @Doris - as long as we're flinging sonnets, #73

    That time of year thou mayst in me behold
    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
    In me thou seest the twilight of such day
    As after sunset fadeth in the west,
    Which by and by black noght doth take away,
    Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
    In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
    That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
    As the death-bed whereon it must expire
    Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.

    This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
    S


    Sparky 11:34 AM  

    Nice puzzle @JohnV and Jeff Chen. Wishing you many more to come, John.

    WA 11:42 AM  

    I am going to order an endue salad. It is a bipolar puzzle. 95% of the puzzle were ridiculously easy and 5% were difficult.

    Cheerio 11:55 AM  

    @Sfingi LOL

    Cheerio 12:00 PM  

    I had Poussin mixed up with some other French painter. Not sure who. Maybe Watteau.

    quilter1 12:02 PM  

    @John V & Co. very nice puzzle. I enjoyed it.
    I just remembered that I know ENDUED from an old hymn: "...and every grace endued."

    Lewis 12:14 PM  

    @greg charles - your last sentence made me laugh

    @gil -- loved the sentence about getting bit in the poussin

    Like sparky, puzzled, waiting for the wow hinted at yesterday. Had trouble in the NE, thought the rest was easy.

    I try to think how I feel about a puzzle before I come to read Rex and this gang, and for this puzzle I felt neutral. Not a big wow nor a big disappointment. I did like the theme, especially the four answers that didn't directly name the seasons.

    John V 12:35 PM  

    Thanks, all.

    Benko 12:38 PM  

    Started this puzzle with the preconception that it was going to be tricky, and wasted some time at the beginning looking for the trick. Still finished in under three and a half minutes, but that was mostly due to knowledge of Crosswordese and French. A lot of theme answers and that's pretty much all there is to say about this one.

    Anonymous 12:47 PM  

    some of you people are spending longer on the blog than you do on the puzzle

    MikeM 12:54 PM  

    Did not like this, did not finish. (may be a direct correlation here) Too many foriegn words. I kind of breezed until the NE - I didnt know TRISTE or ENDUES. I should have been able to piece together STEREO but I gave up. Well, actually I fell asleep on the bus without finishing. That never happens on a Tuesday. I got a chuckle out of 63D.

    Masked and Anonymo8Us 1:02 PM  

    SOMI: +17. Mostly solid constructive construction criticism, til "I mean, if ONE HORSE, why not ONEESS". har. Not quite as familiar with the One Ess Town concept, but does sound possible, if yer town has mostly straight roads. Or you live in Odesa, of course.

    Tough TuesPuz, for the non-French likes of m&e. Kinda liked RIRE, tho. Looks like a RARE/IRE blend. So, I'll go on ahead and laugh with Lille, today. Just don't mix it up with POUSSIN again, ok, Lille?

    Best weejects (which, as 4-Oh points out, really need some fresh as fishwater cluin):
    * OON - [Ooff's oopposite?]
    * ITA/ITE/ITO - [One of cousin Itt's cousins?]
    * IAT - [Iowa caucus souvenir, for short]
    * RES - [Uno + dos - tau?]
    * SAN - [Prefix with KA or TA]

    What's the prob with 80 words? More for yer moneybucks. The 8 U's put it in the dandy debUt column, for yours truly.

    Catherine the Great 1:24 PM  

    ODESsA as I like to call it (and I have the right because I created it) was a Russian City from the 1790s to WWII. It was named ODESSA.

    BTW, I'm going to be in NYC next week. Anyone know were I can get some Bejiing duck?

    LaneB 1:55 PM  

    The seasons were gimmes and the rest solved quickly and easily--a rather rare event in my case. Especially for a medium-challenging edition.

    chefwen 2:20 PM  

    @LMS - Another good one. Give Dad a big Aloha from me.

    Two Ponies 2:42 PM  

    @ dk, Thanks for asking. I added a seven week old pup to my already-busy house so not much spare time.
    The puzzle? Nothing to make me rire.

    Notsofast 2:46 PM  

    A jittery, shaky kind of puzzle. Pretty tough for a Tuesday, but not in a good way. But I really like the name "Elihu". And who the hell names their kid "Elihu"?

    M and A got juiced up and 2:48 PM  

    @lms: Hi to yer daddy. Haven't heard from him in a long while, here. Tell him don't ferget to write.
    thUmbsUp for that excellent U-logy riff.

    @John V: thUmbsUp to you and one of my (other) fave constructors, over in LA-land. Cool concept.

    @Severin T: Like the direction you are heading here, son. Honest. Don't worry about those three-letter-fill varmints. The way I see it, you can get away with almost anything oon those, as long as you reciprocate with killer, entertaining clues to go with 'em. So what if it yanks on 4-Ohs chain; just another part of the entertainment value. Heck, the crossword woulda been invented a lot earlier, if that approach had just been followed. Old Tom Jefferson had a killer puz ready to go at the end of the Declaration of Independence; but he wimped out, 'cause one of his short fills was USB. Da Vinci was just two short fills away from a stupendous puz in his guy-flappin-arms book. Was afraid of the Inquisitor's wrath on YUK and EWW, tho. Child's play, today. Almost true story.

    Like where you set yer U-bar. Like that you dare to be different. Like that you made Rex say "brace yerself", a day ahead of time! Wow. Primo stuff. Like Keats said, "This ODE'S A keeper".

    But I digress.
    Yuk.

    Haywood Jablome 2:51 PM  

    This is a great first effort by Mr. Nelson. Give the man some credit.

    Rob C 3:07 PM  

    @M&A - if you didn't digress, you would never have anything to post ;-) Keep them coming!

    Ellen S 3:29 PM  

    Endue: from the Net Bible: "Endow" meant originally "to provide with a dowry"; "indue" took the meaning "clothe"; the likeness between the literal meanings has confused the metaphorical use of the words in spite of their difference in origin.

    They go on to say that verious versions of the bible, including King James, get the two words mixed up. Sigh. But not all is sin and ignorance: I found a company named "Endue Premium Baby Apparel" -- the "clothing apparel company." Better than nothing.

    I also found the Confusibles site, which endows us with this wisdom: "Imbue, endow, endue or imbrue? To endue is to inspire or permeate with feelings (Endue thy ministers with righteousness). Imbue means to permeate with feelings, or to dye a piece of cloth. To endow is to give or fund (a rich man may endow a hospital). "Come, blade, my breast imbrue!" pleads Shakespeare's Thisbe as she prepares to stab herself (and garbles her words)."

    But 10 pages of Google hits in, I'm not finding a lot of literary use of it. This Shakespeare glossary cites six plays that use either "endue" or "indue." Looks like more of a paperweight than a word ...

    the captcha is "chimphi" -- where our closest primate relatives go to secondary school?

    MetaRex 3:29 PM  

    Gear grid pattern by John V. and Jeff C.! Looks like a Christmas tree or maybe a frowning Santa Claus...

    MetaRex 3:31 PM  

    Great, I mean...

    sanfranman59 3:37 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Tue 8:18, 8:15, 1.01, 56%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Tue 5:15, 4:49, 1.09, 71%, Medium-Challenging

    jackj 4:57 PM  

    John V-

    MAZELTOV!

    You must have had a ball "making your crossword bones" with Jeff Chen.

    Hope you'll be giving us more.

    John V 5:01 PM  

    @jackj It was terrific working with Jeff. He's the best.

    joho 5:56 PM  

    @John V ... just finished your puzzle ... fantastic! Congrats to you and Jeff!

    Severin 6:19 PM  

    Thanks for the feedback, folks. Have a great evening!

    chefwen 7:59 PM  

    @John V. - Loved your puzzle, it kept me amused whilst at the "wig winders".

    @LMS - Was racing out of here this morning when I said Aloha to Dad, got in the car and thought "Geez, you could have said HI to Mom too, so HI MOM!

    Paul Keller 8:16 PM  

    Tuesdays tend to be boring, but I liked this one. It probably helped that I don't know much crosswordise. Took a little but not too much effort to work through the grid. Normally, I would be irritated by the one disproportionately hard crossing, but I'd had my jollies by the time I got to dealing with that.

    @Rex your comparison of ONE HORSE to ONE ESS made me wonder if you were familiar with the expression "One horse town". Could it be one of those cultural differences?

    JenCT 8:17 PM  

    89 Comments???

    Damn, I have to get here earlier....

    jae 8:32 PM  

    @John V -- Fun Tues. Much smoother than todays. Was there a subtle reference to a band member's spouse in there or was that just a coincidene?

    loren muse smith 8:32 PM  

    @M & A and @chefwen – I’ve passed on your messages. Thanks!

    @chefwen – mom reads this blog daily and never does crosswords. I bet she’s not the only one. . .

    @M & A. Love your “weejects.” Digress all you want; you’re fun. And I still think you’re someone famous.

    ANON B 10:49 PM  

    @ANON 9n last Saturday.
    I still don't understand rantan,
    even whwn dashed as ran-tan.

    jae 11:20 PM  

    @dang -- that should be coincidence.

    Anonymous 11:35 PM  

    @Nate ran-tan.

    sanfranman59 2:10 AM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:32, 6:14, 1.05, 78%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 8:15, 8:14, 1.00, 55%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:55, 3:43, 1.05, 75%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 5:11, 4:49, 1.08, 68%, Medium-Challenging

    nebraska doug 4:41 AM  

    The NE corner was brutal for a Tuesday! PTERO, POUSSIN, TRISTE, RIRE, ENDUES - ouch....the rest went quickly, the NE was a DNF. Knowing French would have helped. Tuesday?

    Martmind.com 11:35 AM  

    So people who like to solve puzzles online visit martmind.com on facebook for exciting puzzles -- page developed by martmind.com(BUY - THINK -GET SUCCESS)- online shop to develop your mind..

    Thank You all

    petertoutant 8:15 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    petertoutant 8:15 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Tita 10:27 PM  

    Aaw, theme trumped fill. Loved UPATREE.

    @lms - PTui!!
    And lol to today's comment, and kudos on the puzzle, which I just finished last night.

    @mac - I liked the arty frenchiness too.

    @johnv - I am so behind puzzling and blogging - now I need to go do yours too... congrats!

    Dave 11:49 PM  

    *WANTED* to like this puzzle. Just didn't work though (sorry, busy week meant i didn't get to until tonight!)

    rain forest 1:33 PM  

    OMG! 80 words! ODESA! ENDUES! The worlds's coming to an end! Jeez, it really rankles when Rex gets worked up about,,,nothing. Actually, you'd think 80 words should get a prize.

    I've seen Odesa spelled tht way, and endues is a word even I know, so what the hey.

    Yes, the puzzle had a lot of fill which gets up people's noses, but I really liked the vastness of the theme and how it was carried out. Certainly not a puzzle that should have generated "insane" chatter by Rex and his buddies.



    DMGrandma 2:50 PM  

    After yesterday's hype, I was looking for catches that never came. Worked this one pretty much straight through. Only replacements were TELECAST for TELEvise and (what else) ENDUES for ENdowS, all of them good words. I did cross my fingers that the "I" in RIRE was correct, and that NEVE is a real name. Will say this puzzle was probably not Tuesday friendly for beginners, but it was fun.

    Enjoy @jberg's comments. Don't know how he knows all that stuff, but I'm always glad to learn!

    Dirigonzo 3:46 PM  

    The only way to be disappointed is to set your expectations too high. Unfortunately my expectations were ramped way up by Rex's remarks yesterday so I spent the entire solve waiting for "something" - good or bad - to materialize, ot the "other shoe to drop", or something - anything - to justify the hype. I had a few problems, all self-inflicted, and I was only 75% certain of RIRE but overall I thought it was a perfectly serviceable Tuesday puzzle, made better by the theme - and it has LSD to trip on!

    Some of my friends think I am too set in my ways - from now on I'm going to tell them I just have INERTIA.

    "I mean, the theme is cute—the fill should let us appreciate that, not suffocate us in a miasma of mediocrity." You have to give Rex credit, he does have a way with words.

    Solving in Seattle 4:01 PM  

    I've crosed the Misisippi on several occasions. Nuf said about ODESA.

    Had heWN before SAWN, then parsed SIERRA correctly. Only other writeover is Midori's last name which i always spell IdO.

    Tres too much French, but otherwise I enjoyed Mr. Nelson's four seasons themed puzzle.

    capcha: boaduris - new surfer adjective? "Dude, check out her boaduris chuwallies."

    Waxy in Montreal 4:55 PM  

    With @DMG & @DIRI on this - let down, as much more of a challenge was anticipated following yesterday's build-up. Actually trended somewhat easy for me probably due to the French content.

    I always associate Nicolas POUSSIN with the mystical role attributed to him in "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" the 1982 bestseller which was apparently the source for much of the later "Da Vinci Code".

    Juste pour RIRE: originally thought the four seasons might be parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. TRISTE.

    Dirigonzo 6:00 PM  

    @Waxy - I held off committing to the seasons of the year for the same reason - too much Simon and Garfunkle, do you think? It'd didn't help that when I finally gave in to the seasons of the year I plunked SUMMER in 1d, off the S in SODA and then put AUTUMN in 8a based on the U in URNS - that took some straightening out.

    @SIS - I thought boaduris was the scientific name of a particularly long-lived constrictor snake (but I took biology a long, long time ago). I got nothing for chuwallies, though.

    Syndi Solver 6:58 PM  

    It was definitely a cute theme. The VIVALDI answer reminded me of the 1981 movie The Four Seasons ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082405/?ref_=fn_al_tt_5 ) which had that music in the score. Since Alan Alda was one of the leads I thought his name might be in the grid.

    I don't know French other than what I've learned from crossword puzzles. That made some areas harder but still gettable. It was nothing like a recent late week puzzle where both the clue (vingt et un) and answer (JEU) were in French. But it's all good 'cause now I have a new French word in my vocabulary.

    Ginger 7:23 PM  

    My calendar had autumn where summer belonged, (confirmed by usc at 11-D) the kind of miswrite that can slow up a good solve. Another glitch was the PTEmO/RImE cross. I fixed SUMMER, but the French laughed at me.

    Interesting that this French filled fare is published in Syn City while the French Open is being TELECAST. @DMG, are you watching?

    With the possible exception of PB, there seems to be a tradeoff between sparkling fill and great themes. Not only was today's theme quite good, but most of the long answers were pretty good too. Thanks Mr Nelson, I enjoyed it.

    Solving in Seattle 7:28 PM  

    @Diri, once again you have schooled me on Latin.

    Of course, I think it was the boaduris horrificus that went undiscovered for so long because none of the "discoverers" survived.

    The snake has recently starred in some scary Amazon river movies.

    Boaduris, dude!

    Spacecraft 7:49 PM  

    The Vivaldi answer made me think of a smart--and pretty--contestant on "Are You Smarter than a Fifth-grader?" who made it to the million-dollar question. Even though the category was 5th-grade music and she mentioned taking violin lessons for ten years (!), she couldn't pull the trigger, dropping out at $500,000. When she saw the question: Who composed "The Four Seasons?" she groaned. Easy-peasy.

    What @Rex et al. said: theme great, fill...um, not so. Natick at RIRE/POUSSIN, guessed right. Hand up for TELEviSe. E/INDUES? Nobody I could cite ever "endued" their speech with such a word. I agree, Will should've handed it back, saying, "Do a RETRIAL. If you can't save the extra theme elements, so be it." GATES/VALLI and/or POUSSIN/VIVALDI are very clever, but this grid would have been better served if eliminating one (or both) of those pairs could yield good fill.

    strayling 7:59 PM  

    I finished this - just - and am left with a feeling that it surely must be Saturday tomorrow.

    When Rex trashes a puzzle I reflexively want to defend it, but this one went from Monday easy to Saturday obscure with no rhyme or reason. Not as bad as the Wayne Williams horrors the Seattle Times inflicts on us, but getting there.

    Solving in Seattle 8:17 PM  

    @strayling, I couldn't agree with you more about the Wayne Robert Williams CWs in the Seattle Times. I hardly ever work them anymore, and then only on a rainy day over lunch when I'm bored and don't feel like starting a new book.

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