Patroness of Québec / SAT 6-29-13 / Rocker with the 1973 #1 hit "Frankenstein" / Arrangement of atoms in a crystal structure / Muscle that rotates a part outward / Member of an ancient people known for warfare with chariots / Speed Stick brand / Sedimentary rocks resembling cemented fish roe

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy


Word of the Day:  OOLITES (27D: Sedimentary rocks resembling cemented fish roe)
Oolite (egg stone) is a sedimentary rock formed from ooids, spherical grains composed of concentric layers. The name derives from the Hellenic word òoion for egg. Strictly, oolites consist of ooids of diameter 0.25–2 mm; rocks composed of ooids larger than 2 mm are called pisolites. The term oolith can refer to oolite or individual ooids. (Wikipedia)
• • •

Hello, CrossWorld. Evan Birnholz again. I'm now proud to say that I just completed the Rex Parker Blog Cycle, meaning I've filled in for him on every single day of the week at least once. Here's what I said to congratulate myself upon accomplishing my goal:

Alright, today's puzzle. While I appreciate the fact that Joe Krozel tries to push the boundaries of crossword construction, I'm not really a fan of record-setting stunt puzzles like this one. I'll get to why in a little bit, but first, a little bit of background. Joe is well-known for building grids that set records for standard-size New York Times puzzles. Pick any particular constructing feat --for instance, fewest black squares, most black squares, quintuple stacks -- and Joe has likely done it, or come close. This puzzle breaks the NYT record for fewest answers in a 15x15 puzzle (50 words) and ties Joe's previously held record for most black square clusters resembling someone giving you the finger (4 birds flipped). Well what else are they, I ask you?

In all seriousness, you might recall that today's puzzle bears a strong resemblance to one of Joe's puzzles from June 2012. That puzzle forced together a lot of rather unexciting filler answers to accommodate the four wide open corners. I actually like today's puzzle better than the 2012 one, but ultimately I have the same problem with both of them: Way too many compromises in the fill for my taste to make it all work. I have no doubt that this kind of puzzle will appeal to many different solvers, but I vastly prefer 68- or 72-word themeless puzzles to this variety because the fill often suffers too much when the word count gets too low.

Let's start in the northwest corner. ACTS MAD (3D: Pretends to be sore) and OUTSKIP (16A: Defeat in a jump-rope competition, say) both feel completely contrived as phrases. Act up, act out, act natural, yes, but ACT MAD? When would you even say that? (Steven Seagal, I'd love for you to act mad in this scene, could you do that for me?) And OUTSKIP? Yeah, I guess that's a word. It's the bizarro version of the more commonly used "skip out." My gut tells me that you're just as likely to hear or use OUTSKIP as you are other [Out + random verb] words like OUTSIT or OUTPUNCH or OUTFROWN. Strangely, OUTSKIP is only one letter off from OUTSLIP, which I'm sure could just as easily be clued as [Be defeated in a jump-rope competition, say].

Plenty of other answers just weren't doing it for me either. Among the long ones, STAND TO REASON (20A: Make sense) is okay, but it feels like it's missing an S at the end of "stand" -- you say "it stands to reason," not "I stand to reason." OOLITES and SNEERER (29D: Elvis Presley, notably) and DETERGE (38A: Wash) and RETEAM (40A: Join up for another collaboration) are all jammed together in the southeast corner. Ugh. NO SEATS doesn't strike me as an in-the-language phrase. AD SITES (19A: Craigslist and others) feels like a stretch too: You post ads on Craigslist, but do people commonly call it an AD SITE? You post videos on YouTube, but it doesn't mean VIDEO SITE would make for a great crossword entry. My two least favorite entries in the grid have to be HAVOCS (30D: Post-hurricane scenes, e.g.) and EVERTOR (35A: Muscle that rotates a part outward). Have you ever seen HAVOC become a plural in any other context besides the Chaos Space Marine squads from the game Warhammer 40k? (and hey, have you even heard of HAVOCS in that context? I sure as hell didn't). And as for EVERTOR.....well, just look at it. The clue is literally copied word-for-word from Merriam-Webster's dictionary. You know you're dealing with a pretty obscure answer when its clue on a Saturday is its most straightforward definition.

The upshot of solving this puzzle (for me anyway, and perhaps for many others) is that I absolutely blazed through it. I'm not a super-solver on Rex's level by any means; the fastest solvers at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament could eat my brain like a zombie coming off of a hunger strike. But I took this whole thing down in less than 10 minutes on paper. For a Saturday, that's lightning-fast for me. I don't know if that's because the clues were right in my wheelhouse, or if the puzzle was genuinely easier than normal. Some of those long answers, like STAND TO REASON and CPR TRAINERS (14D: Some E.M.T. personnel), just filled themselves in with the first few letters in place.

Like I said, I thought this puzzle was better than the corresponding June 2012 puzzle that I mentioned earlier. STUDENT DRIVER (11D: Sign over a car) and EDGAR WINTER (22A: Rocker with the 1973 #1 hit "Frankenstein) are both strong entries, as are HANGING AROUND (30A: Loitering) and DRIED APRICOTS (10D: Little orange snacks). I also liked the clue for EVIL EYE (36A: Definitely not a good looker?). I just wish I didn't have so many "Seriously?" reactions while solving the rest of the grid, especially for one that went by so quickly.

  • 6D: "It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can ___ our perfection": Oscar Wilde (REALISE) — Whoa, this is weird. I submitted a puzzle of my own just yesterday with a clue using a very similar Oscar Wilde quotation, but for a different answer. I want the record to show that I sent the puzzle away first before ever seeing this one. I'm glad we cleared this up.
  • 9D: Certain YouTube posting (VLOG) — Now this, I like. Feels fresh. I've always thought this episode about how to be the Best Buddhist Ever is hilarious. (Fair warning: R-rated language)
  • 15D: Living like husband and wife (SHARING A BED) — This gave me some strange trouble even when I had it mostly figured out. Because I mistakenly put down CURLING instead of the correct HURLING at 17A: It's said to be the world's fastest field sport, I was looking at SCARING A BED. I really don't want to spend too much time thinking about what "scaring a bed" could possibly mean for one's marriage.
  • 30A: Helpers for the deaf (HEARING DOGS) — I had the first word down and instinctively threw down HEARING AIDS. Good misdirection. 
  • 32A: Arrangement of atoms in a crystal structure (LATTICE) — In a former life I was a chemistry major, so I got this with no trouble.
  • 32D: One side of a famous NBC feud (LENO) — The one who turned out way, way worse in the end. As Conan put it when he was on his way out of NBC, "Hosting 'The Tonight Show' has been the fulfillment of a life-long dream for me. And I just want to say to the kids out there watching, you can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too."
Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld


Magenta Crayola 6:20 AM  

I'm an old person and a Southern lady to boot, but have to admit that my first thought when I opened this puzzle was also 'looks like four people flipping me the bird.' Made me laugh. Anytime I can finish a Saturday without help I am proud and of myself and have an affinity for the puzzle and the constructor. But, I also agree with all that Evan had to say. Havocs? Seriously?

loren muse smith 6:29 AM  

Look. First off about yesterday’s rhyming flap – I said “kind of” rhymes. But all night, after Acme’s post, I kept saying SNAIL SHELL quietly, creepily, and in my dialect, messed up furtherer (morning @mac) by the fact that my speech is *always* extremely AGITATO – Mom can’t even understand me - those two words come pretty darn close to rhyming. Chalk it off to vowel harmony – any phonologists out there? But remember – I’m the one whose LENIN’S LINENS rhymes.

I see Joe’s picture at Xword Info and smile, knowing that we’re in for another grid flap of some sort. Fifty words. No 3’s. I think the beauts DRIED APRICOTS, HANGING AROUND, STUDENT DRIVER, STAND TO REASON (Evan, that last one didn’t bother me until I read your write-up; -good point). . . . and the stunt itself make me happy to have seen this and solved it. And solved it really fast, too.

With Crossword Compiler, I “fit theme words,” see the grids it suggests, and cheerfully head straight to the 78 worders in the same spirit I rent those short, fat beginner’s ski’s the few times I’ve been to a ski slope. Even a 74 worder scares me.

By the way, Evan, again – my married couple’s lifestyle involves “scaring a bed.” I didn’t even notice. So I guess I dnf.

I liked it, Joe. We should RETEAM on a puzzle. I miss our collaborations! Yeah, right.

Evan 6:38 AM  

Actually now that I think about it on STAND TO REASON, it probably works okay if you express it in the negative. "It does not stand to reason that...."

John Child 6:42 AM  

Curiously easy puzzle, despite having so many words not found in nature.

Cry havocs and let slip the hearingdogs.

Danp 7:08 AM  

Never heard of a hearing dog. Is that the new respectful way of saying seeing-eye-dog?

And by the way, I saw a beautiful butterfly, not a four-fisted raspberry. What kind of people are you anyway?!?!?!

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

My first reaction to grid = "Space Invaders!"

Also finished in record time. Enjoyed it despite awkward fill.

Norm C.

Mitzie 7:38 AM  

Can't say that I didn't like this.

This kind of puzzle always stirs up a heated inner debate about good fill vs. enjoyability. "If you enjoyed it, *and* solved it correctly, then why do you care about crap like OUTSKIP and RETEAM," I ask myself.

Well, I guess in the end I don't. I do feel pretty confident that if these concessions aren't made sometimes, then envelope-pushing puzzles like this simply won't get made. There are probably a lot of people here who would either a) disagree with that or b) think that puzzles like this *not* being made isn't such a bad thing.

Anyway, I liked this puzzle. FRANKENSTEIN!

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

One could easily ask, "Does it STAND TO REASON one would .... [blah blah blah]?"

jberg 7:51 AM  

Yeah, Space Invaders! I'd been thinking of that game some monks are playing up in the mountains, moving rings of different sizes from one post to another, where when they finish it the world will end - but Space Invaders is much better!

Sadly, I started with PEErING and PEEkS AT; corrected the first from OUT SKIP, but didn't notice to correct the second, so I finished with an error, wondering what kind of sport HUkLING was. For that matter, what kind of sport is HURLING? I've heard the name, but I think my mental image was some combination of cURLING (not very fast at all) and tossing the caber.

I liked EVERTOR more after I got IGNITOR.

Today's guest star is the LETTER C, soon to take over the Tonight Show.

jae 7:54 AM  

Interesting grid.  No 3s.  Stunt puzzle!  And, again, easy for me.  After Sanfranman's medium to medium-challenging finding for yesterday's maybe, like Caleb, I'm getting better?  Or, maybe yesterday was a fluke and this actually is easy?

Only erasure was changing S to C in 13a.

Was not as fond of this one as I was of yesterday's.  OOLITES and EVERTOR just SEEM mean.   And, BILLERS, IGNITOR and SNEERER are kinda cringy.   Did like the 5 center acrosses and OUT SKIP conjures whimsey.  But mostly this was SO SO and Evan did a fine job of explaining why!

Sir Hillary 8:00 AM  

When you open the paper, see the grid and know the constructor without even reading his name, this cannot be a good thing. Another stunt construction from the "master" of such creations, although not as bad as his asymmetrical quint-stacker of several months ago.

I think Evan nailed the goods and bads in his write-up. I would only add that fully 12% of the entries are gerunds, another crutch gone too far. HEARING..., HANGING..., SHARING..., OWING, PEEKING? I am HURLING.

Please, please, please let Evil weigh in this one.

Robso 8:03 AM  

This was disappointing . . . wanted to check the calendar to see what day it was. Also: I agree with every comment of Evan's about the quality of clues.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

I'm usually a Mon-Thurs solver with Fri/Sat often over my head (like yesterday). But today was just too easy for a Saturday as (1) I completed it easily (2) it took less time than many Thursdays.

As has been said, HAVOCS, seriously?


evil doug 8:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 8:13 AM  

skis. Sorry, Mom.

Carola 8:16 AM  

I found this one SO, SO much easier than yesterday's. Three do-overs, HEARING aidS, Pinto, and sold out for NO SEATS. Otherwise, I mostly paused before writing in "really?" entries like OUTSKIP, HAVOCS, RETEAM.

This isn't very PRIM, but I kind of get a kick out of GULLET + HURLING.

Did not know EDGAR WINTER, liked learning OOLITE.

@John Child - Love your "quote"!

@Evan - Thanks for the in-depth write-up. And...OUTFROWN really made me laugh.

Rob C 8:24 AM  

Agree with everything Evan said, including how easy it was. But wanted to add that even with all of the "Seriously?" reactions Joe K puzzles might elicit, I appreciate his pushing the envelope

evil doug 8:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 8:34 AM  

A real Saturday letdown, Joe.

They're Devo hats, with woodies. Their drummer died this week.

Note to Joe before he submits his next puzzle:

Now whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it
It's not too late
To whip it
Whip it good


Anonymous 8:39 AM  

"Hangin' Around" is the first cut, side 1 on Edgar Winter's They Only Come Out at Night album...

JayWalker 8:42 AM  

Tend to agree with all above on the strange use of strange words. My mistake was that I had never heard of "evertor" and thought (logically, I think) that the "CPR" guy would be a "trainee" not a "trainer." Trainers would be at the station - training. Not on an ambulance. Too late by then. The trainee would be out there observing and learning on the job. Now - I also realise (nod to Joe K.) that nowhere is an ambulance mentioned. But as a Certified Oolite Inspector I claim the right to have any silly thought I want - so there!

jackj 8:44 AM  

Joe Krozel once again shows his disdain for the solvers of CrossWorld by laughing up his sleeve as he pleasures himself with a wordie’s equivalence of pocket pool, all in the interest of his collecting another obscure constructing record.

The most embarrassingly easy Times Saturday puzzle of the Shortz era but, hey, it can’t be all bad if Joe earns another mention in the Puzzler’s Almanac, can it?

Jim Finder 8:53 AM  

Very disappointing.

Milford 9:18 AM  

Fastest Saturday ever for me.

Didn't notice the stunt, just thought the grid was a butterfly like @Danp, but @anon was right about Space Invaders.

Hand up for ScARING A BED, even though I thought cURLING couldn't possibly be considered a fast event. Also took a guess that the rocker was Alice Cooper before EDGAR WINTER.

OOLITES and DRIED APRICOTS were great, HAVOCS not so much.

Finally on vacation, on Lake Michigan. Heaven.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

@jackj: I disagree with your point about CPR trainees and the ambulance. I would think you would want the people on the ambulance to be fully trained and not trainees, i.e., people still in the process of being trained/learning to do something.

"Well, Ma'am, I realize you're on death's door here. I must apologize, as all we have today is a CPR trainee, but we'll do our best."

Unless what you mean is that the ambulance would have both a trainer and trainee, but that's not what you said, you said the trainer would be at the station. Hmm.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Oops! My comment was for JayWalker, not jackj

Glimmerglass 9:45 AM  

I've never seen the words OOLITES (puddingstone?) and EVERTOR. but both were gettable from crosses. DETERGE is a truly ugly verb. Does it really exist, or is it just a back-formation? Some of the other answers seemed forced, even if fair. Not a great Saturday puzzle. Not hard enough, even if it set a record.

mac 9:51 AM  

More bark than bite, this one. My only write-over was pinto/PAINT. I did not have a huge problem with "stand to reason" and havocs, thought there would be more fuss about "deterge".

Why the talk of ambulances? I took a CPR course that was led by an EMT.

Joe has certainly created his brand, congratulations. In the end the editor decides on which day the puzzle is printed.

Nice, thoughtful blog, Even, thanks!

mac 9:52 AM  

That is Evan, of course...

wordie 9:58 AM  

I found it fun, despite the groaners mentioned by Evan and others. Did not see the birds, not that I have trouble seeing them now. I thought it might be a four-leafed clover. There's a puzzlers almanac? I'll have to take a look.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I'm not great at crosswords, but I thought this one was very easy for Saturday. I had to ask my husband for help with only 4 or maybe 5 items, and finished it in less than 30 - 40 leisurely mins. For me, that's extremely unusual on a Saturday.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:01 AM  

Evan gives a thoughtful and thorough analysis, and I can't disagree with his individual points. But for me as an average solver -- hey, it was easy, and it was a record setter! Fine with me!

Aside from CURLING/HURLING, only other write=over was OOLITH before OOLITE, and thanks to Evan's WOD, I see I wasn't completely wrong on that.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

...and I thought the grid looked like a flower or a four leaf clover.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

What the hell was that?

And what am I supposed to do with the rest of the hour that I reserve for my Saturday puzzle, having finished this in an unheard-of 10 minutes?

One thing, guys: "curling" as the fastest field sport? I was hoping for a YouTube video of some hurling action.

Sandy K 10:07 AM  

Hand up for seeing a butterfly and REALISing that this constructor likes to 'OUTSKIP' the rules and REGS.

Finished too fast, so maybe I'll DETERGE my OOLITES which seem GRIMIER than usual.

Susan McConnell 10:13 AM  

I am in the flower/butterfly camp.

So disappointed. When I blazed through this on a Saturday, I thought some Smart Fairy visited me during my sleep and imparted me with extra solving abilities. Instead, I discover that it's just an easy puzzle with a pretty shape. Meh, meh, meh.

And DETERGE? Really? I had to cancel the auto-correct just to get it to show up in here. I need to DETERGE my eyeballs after seeing that one.

Best part of the puzzle was Evan's write-up.

Questinia 10:18 AM  

I like my Saturday puzzles straight-up, themeless and hard and this was a Shirley Temple "cocktail".

Enjoyed Evan's write-up more. He was spot on.

@mac same issue with paint vs pinto which led me to momentarily think there was possibly a rebus in the center perhaps indicating some fractal allusion to the shape of the puzzle... yes, I was so desperately searching for difficulty.

Carole Shmurak 10:25 AM  

I studied geology in Indiana where there are so many oolites that there's even a town named Oolitic! Don't see much of it on either East or West Coast because it forms in inland seas.

Gill I. P. 10:28 AM  

I've gotten to like all kinds of gimmicks in my puzzle. Like @Loren, I too saw the stunt and I like it for its "up yours, I'm trying for something new" attitude. So, Joe likes to strive to be different and he gets the EVIL EYE for his hard work....
Since I got IGNITOR and EVERTOR I wanted Elvis to be a SNEEoR. We seen DETERGE before so that didn't bother me.
I love DRIED APRICOTS and really like the clue for STUDENT DRIVER.
@Evan you really write well. Enjoy your comments and the "Best Buddhist ever" *is* hilarious.
Well, Joe, this was, like others noted, a fast Saturday. Regardless, I hope you keep surprising us with your future "stunts"

Carl Perkins 10:34 AM  

One or two small nits to pick with Evan. Listen to any boxing commentator and you'll hear outpunch every three minutes--which is to say every round.
Sure, it's argot for the sport, but I seem to recall similarly specialized lingo for double dutch competitions ( yeah, they're a real thing)where one team outskips the other. It might be weak, but it's not even in the bottom half-dozen offenses this week.

As for sneerer, I thought it was just terrific. Spot on. Just about any comedian's caricature of The King includes an exaggerated sneer. And why not? Elvis always wore one. A tough guy I suppose we were suppose to gather. Anyway, for my money he wasn't half as good as lots of other rockabilly guys who didn't sneer and could actually play the guitar instead of wearing it like an accessory.

joho 10:44 AM  

My first thought at seeing Joe Krozel and the puzzle shape was, "Oh oh, Death Butterfly!."

I braced myself for a Saturday battle but, like everybody else, ended up HANGINGAROUND for just a few minutes. Definitely a SOSO Saturday solve because of the lack of difficulty, not for the lack of creativity.

Funniest moments were visualizing people cURLING really, really fast. And when I wouldn't write in HAVOCS because that's taking a crossword-needed plural to new height of silliness! Wasn't there a June Havoc? Maybe old-timey actress and her family? Nah, that's terrible, too.

@Evan, fantastic write-up, one of your best.

Now off to meditate...

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

No sound, let alone fury. Much too easy for a Saturday.

jae 11:19 AM  

@Evan -- I suspect the other side of the famous feud is Letterman not Conan. It was covered in The War for Late Night a 2010 non-fiction book written by The New York Times media reporter Bill Carter. It was subsequently made into a TV movie.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

This is for all the happy solvers who had their first google- free Saturday! OK, maybe it's just for me. Thought this was exactly in my wheelhouse, then came here and saw how flimsy my wheelhouse really is. Sigh. Anyway, thanks Joel. I for one loved it!

Benko 11:29 AM  

OOLITE and DETERGE have definitely been in the NYT before, those I remembered.
EVERTOR, the -OR makes sense, like other muscle groups--flexors, extensors, etc.
But IGNITOR? Definitely would have thought -er.
HAVOCS and OUTSKIP were definitely the most egregious to me--agree with @CarlPerkins that you're way more likely to hear "out punch" at a boxing match than to ever hear OUTSKIP.
Also agree with @anonymous7:44 that you often hear, "Does it STAND TO REASON that...?"
One of my best Saturdays in a long while, time wise...about 3 1/2 minutes.

DBGeezer 11:40 AM  

Saturdays are always too tough for me, but fortunately I tried this one. I finished it quickly and looked at the calendar to make sure it wasn't Monday.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@Evan: iPad users can't see the embedded videos. They are, apparently, embedded in flash format which isn't supported in iOS. If you use the embed code supplied by YouTube which uses iframes, we will be able to view them.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

The feud between Leno and Letterman was first written about by Bill Carter in 1994. The book is called "The Late Shift".

It was made into a TV movie.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

@Anon 11:45: Better solution: sell your POS gimmick.

jae 12:01 PM  

@anon 11:47 -- Oops. Right feud and author, wrong book. The 2010 date should have clued me. That's what I get for ctrl Cing with out reading carefully.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

As to the pattern of the puzzle, it depends on the way you look at it. My immediate reaction was to see the white squares as a big X and to guess the letter might be used a lot or that it might refer in some way to "X marks the spot."

Easiest Saturday I've ever done.

Embedded videos didn't work on my Nexus 7 because recent Android versions don't support Flash.

Shamik 12:06 PM  

8:13 time.

Easiest. Saturday. Ever.

So it was misplaced in the week...Monday through Thursday and no one would complain. But Saturday? Seriously, Will?

Anoa Bob 12:08 PM  

This puzzle left me with a bout of DRY GAS. Anyone know of a remedy, something to DETERGE my dyspepsia?

To pull off the stunt---only 50 words---some well-worn tricks were used.

As Sir Hillary points out, gerunds abound, making up 12% of all the words. That's a lot of INGs.

POCs (plural of convenience) also get a workout. I count 14. That means 28% of the total words got a letter-count boosting S added on. And six of them are double POCs, where the final S is shared by two words, here REGS/AD SITES, DRIED APRICOTS/OCTETS, & CPR TRAINERS/NO SEATS.

With over 40& of the words being gerunds or plurals, and those with some odd looking neighbors such as OUT SKIP or EVERTOR, it boils down to the old question "Was the brilliance of the stunt enough to justify the suboptimal fill used to accomplish it?"

Well, it didn't completely turn me into a SNEERER, and I did like the quadruple flip of the finger (seemed somehow appropriate), so I guess I will give it a final grade of SO SO.

chefbea 12:31 PM  

Found the puzzle easy for a Saturday. No time to finish or read all the comments. Busy preparing dinner for company tonight. My first reaction to the puzzle was "How few clues...guess my printer left some out"!!!

mac 12:32 PM  

Was Letterman at NBC the same time Leno was? NBC is in the clue.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 12:33 PM  

Don't get what all the excitement is about. My TWO BITS puz (published here in two big bits, about a month ago) had only 30 entries. And with fewer black squares (0). But (the utter shame!) it had no U's. So mine's in the books with a splat-sign. U go, Joe.

Heck, Joe can even claim fewer than 50 words were used in this SatPuz. As are many of the commentors, above. har.

Fun SatPuz. No weejects. Pure gold write-up from Evan. And got yer DRY GAS. Well, that there's yer rodeo, right there.

Hi-Yo, OUTSKIP, away... (with Johnny Depp as Tonto. Can't wait.)

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

the puzzle is terrible, just like Steinberg's. i've long contended that kids cannot create good puzzles,the forebrain is not developed enough. i've said this to will many times.but he gets pleasure out of mentoring,etc.lets strive for better puzzles, not age equality. deterge, come on.

Michael Hanko 12:39 PM  

My orange snack was CIRCUSPEANUTS until it didn't work with the crosses. Although I detest those candies, I thought they were a cool addition to the grid.

Until they weren't.

jae 1:00 PM  

@mac -- Letterman was hosting Late Night on NBC when NBC hired Leno to replace Carson on The Tonight Show.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

I liked it. There were some longish contrivances, such as OUTSKIP, but we get similar things all the time.

At first, I hated DETERGE. After the fact, I quite like it. It's new to me and relating it to 'detergent' (an extremely recent usage) is pretty cool. I'm definitely going to being using DETERGE.

"Originally a medical term, application to "chemical cleansing product" is from 1938."

Renata Miller 1:15 PM  

Easiest Saturday puzzle in years.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Acc. to Bill Carter, Leno got the Tonight Show thru some behind-the-scenes dirty dealings with the network.

Letterman and Carson felt that Dave got the royal screw as he was seen as the rightful successor to the show.

When Letterman got lucrative offers to go to CBS and Fox, NBC tried to make a deal with him. They would get rid of Leno after a time and Letterman would take over. Dave called Carson for advice and was told 'If I were you, I'd walk.'

So Dave went to CBS and hired Masked & UnknownymoUs to write his Top Ten lists. The rest is history.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Dropped my record Saturday time from 32:00 to 24:43. I was down to the SE corner at 18:45 and it took a few minutes to sort things out, so could have been even lower. SEEk for SEEM with "Look" hung me up a bit with the ugly RETEAM.

retired_chemist 1:39 PM  

Well, easy-peasy. Under 11 minutes, i.e. half of yesterday's time. Oughta have more gristle on a Saturday.

Hand up for cURLING/ScARING A BED at first. Not familiar with the Irish sport of HURLING. The only HURLING I know follows heavy drinking, and is not AFAIK considered a competitive sport.

Also hand up for PINTO, which temporarily killed OWING (21D). And for all six (e,i,O)OLIT(e,H)S combinations at various points. STATED before VOICED.

Biggest slowdown was HEARING aidS, which for some time I couldn't think of an alternative to even though the SE downs were recalcitrant. HEARING DOGS is, well, ugly. Never heard of them. But less ugly than RETEAM, DETERGE,NOSEATS, and others mentioned.

Have been to Ste Anne de Beaupré so I had an educates guess @ 15A which turned out to be right.

The "finger" some saw in the 11 contiguous black squares didn't appear to me before I came here. What I sw was the Tower of Hanoi game as explained in the link.

Thanks, Mr. Krozel. I mostly liked it.

Rob C 1:48 PM  


oolite(s) - used 2 times previously in NYT puzzles, including a Sunday from Jan of this year

deterge(s) - used 3 times previously

Even evertor(s) has been used once before

Jainesy 1:57 PM  

If you are Jay Walker of Sigma Phi hello fellow Sig crossword solver! Easy peasy

WA 2:10 PM  

I always liked Edgar and his brother Johnny, not too many albino rockers who wrists were bigger than their forearms. It must have been an interesting home life.

A better clue for Havocs would be-Actress June and other little chaoses.

You have to love the odd Goldilocks attitude to puzzles that resides here, some are too hard, others too easy, but rarely are they just right.

Evan 2:14 PM  

@Anonymous 11:45:

Try the videos now -- I switched them to the iframe code.

@Carl Perkins:

I'll take your word for it on "outpunch" -- I would say OUTSKIP is worse anyway. But as for SNEERER -- I really don't care for odd nouns which take verbs and add -R or -ER to the end of them. They can only be defined as "one who [verb]s." A SNEERER is one who sneers.


That's possible, but I have to believe that nowadays when most people think of "Leno" and "feud," they associate him with Conan. That was a much more recent and widely discussed feud. You couldn't read a single news website in late 2009-early 2010 without seeing something about it. It still comes up a lot, especially now that Leno is going to be replaced on The Tonight Show yet again.

Delaware 2:16 PM  

Must echo what everyone else said. I was disappointed as soon as I started with the pedestrian clues and the simplicity of the answers. Are there really hearing dogs? I guess one could lick your face to wake you up during a fire alarm. Can't think of too many other uses.
Agree with you all - very disappointing.

TDavis 2:20 PM  

Wow, anyone who thought CURLING was the world's fastest ANYTHING needs to see the game played!!!!

Lewis 2:25 PM  

Lots of complainers about the fill, but Joe gets the most important positive feedback from Will, who continues to publish him. I'm guessing Joe will continue to do what he has been doing.

So many people complaining about the plethora of answers not in the language, and yet... the puzzle turns out to be very easy. I like the irony of easily gettable words that we never use.

The posts seem to reflect a split. One group of purists decries the "ugly" answers. Another group isn't bothered and found the puzzle fun.

Me, I did say an inner "yikes" at some of these ugly answers; at the same time I was having a blast.

Evan, spot on writeup.

Joe might be doing these record breaking puzzles for his ego, or it may be for the challenge with no ego involved. I guess we'll never know until Joe weighs in.

JanetM 3:00 PM  

@Anonymous: I saw the video fine on my iPad.

allan 3:06 PM  

Hello. My name is allan and I am from De Moins. My girlfriend left me and I went to a site to get a spell cast to get her back. damn thing did not work. She is still with that Trevor. So I picked up the Saturday NYT crossword to take my mind off things for a few hours. What the hell!!

Edgar Winter Was a Flatout Gimme 3:14 PM  

@Anon 1:22... day-um. thanx. Gonna have to have that comment bronzed.

@Danp, joho, Magenta Crayola, and what-have-U...
Great discussions, on how to visualize the grid pattern. FWIW, my first reaction was four really competitive jack-hammer operators. thUmbsUp for the "Death Butterfly" tag, tho.

Things M&A needs to learn heaps more about:
1. OOLITES. Also Aaahlites, if applicable.
2. EVERTORs. Are these also exes of Chris Evert?
3. French. But my COEURS ain't gonna be in it.
4. HURLING. Is this usually a follow-up event, after the HOTDOGEATIN contest?
5. VLOGs. May already be familiar with this, if'n they are just elidin out the AGINAMONO part.
6. That there English grammar and spellin.
7. What 4-Oh thought of this puz.


joho 3:21 PM  

Ok, after some Googling I think a much better albeit totally obscure clue for HAVOCS is "Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister June."

@M&A, glad to see you appreciate my darker side.

John V 3:30 PM  

Medium here. What @Evan said about the spurious fill. Done, no mistakes, meh.

syndy 4:04 PM  

I had Pinto and cURLING but those minor blips could not make this saturday worthy.Oh and I spell REALIsE 'REALIZE' but I could not STAND TO REAZON!Still- HITTITE was cool and the new chinese ENTREE....PEEKING EVILEYE DUCK! HEARING DOGS are definitely a 'thing'

LaneB 4:11 PM  

Finished today (Saturday surprise!), but having done so, still did not know what I had in OOLITE ( what you say entering a bright room?) , EVERTOR ( a. Muscle that is always gimpy?) , and AGITATO ( my mood after pondering bizarre clues and answers.) No complaints, particularly after yesterday' s humiliation..

michael 5:21 PM  

Like everyone else, I found this easy (without the usual qualified "for a Saturday") I realized this had to be some sort of stunt, but wasn't sure what it was. Now I see that it is the fewest words in a 15 X 15. I am wondering what the "rules" are for this. Symmetrical, no two letter words, no isolated squares, some fill on the borders (not all black squares). Anything else?

Dirigonzo 5:50 PM  

Came home from work a few minutes early and had the puzzle done before my usual starting time - and before I had poured by first drink. Only serious mis-step was plunking in transfertItle for "Sign over a car" at 11d - apparentely I was the only one to fall for that particular bit of misdirection? In a bit of syndication synchronicity yesterday's syndicated puzzle was also a Joe Krozel production, that one featuring 12 grid-spanning entries, six in each direction, so I've had the pleasure of his construction wizardry two days in a row.

Now, what to do with the rest of the evening?

Morgan Doocy 6:07 PM  

I half-expected Evan to inaugurate the "Super-Easy" difficulty rating today.

This marked the first-ever Saturday I've completed without assistance — but it's a hollow win, despite the awkward fill. My time was that of an easy Wednesday; it just doesn't seem fair to set such an unbreakable record.

That said, I actually enjoyed most of the weird fill. HAVOCS and DETERGE were terrible WTFs for me, with SNEERER and AD SITES close behind. The rest was a bit of an ego boost to come up with quickly despite not being in common usage.

Not really sure how people could lay down CURLING, unless they only have the vaguest notion that it's a sport and don't know it's on ice. It was the first thing that popped into my head too, but each of "fast" and "field" in the clue were independently sufficient to preclude it immediately; having both made it a no-brainer.

FWIW, I saw a four-leaf clover in the grid and expected an entry about luck that never came.

Also, @Evan: the videos are auto-playing on my iOS device; any way you can turn that off?

sanfranman59 6:11 PM  

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 5:42, 6:12, 0.92, 13%, Easy
Tue 9:21, 8:19, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 10:54, 9:44, 1.12, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 13:25, 16:47, 0.80, 15%, Easy
Fri 21:08, 20:54, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Sat 13:29, 25:16, 0.53, 1%, (ridiculously) Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:49, 0.91, 6%, Easy
Tue 5:39, 4:57, 1.14, 83%, Challenging
Wed 6:22, 5:38, 1.13, 81%, Challenging
Thu 8:25, 9:37, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium
Fri 12:45, 11:56, 1.07, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Sat 8:12, 15:08, 0.54, 1%, (ditto) Easy

This one has stats that are so different than every other Saturday puzzle in my spreadsheet, that I'm tempted to exclude it from the calculations. The previous Saturday low in the All Solvers group was 17:12. So today's was almost 4 minutes below that. The previous low in the Top 100 group was 8:59. In statistical parlance, this puzzle is a perfect example of an outlier.

Joseph B 6:14 PM  

I put TRAINEE instead of TRAINER as well, even though EVERTOE looked ridiculous.

Anonymous at 9:33AM: I'm fairly certain that a good portion of training for EMTs occurs in the field.

Yes, I wouldn't choose to have a trainee show up to save my life, but then, I didn't choose to have a wet-behind-the-ears hospital resident place a central venous line in me, but that happened. Residents practice on real patients all the time, and I imagine it's the same for EMTs.

chefwen 6:17 PM  

My first thought was "WOW, @JenCT is going to love this one with a big 'ol Butterfly"

I never thought what Elvis was doing was SNEERing, I just thought of it as a goofy grin.

Hand up for Pinto, easily fixed. Agree with the vast majority on the easiness, can't remember the last time I did a Saturday Google free. Feels good!

Agitato Coeurs Mennen 6:26 PM  

It is a perfect metaphor that half of us saw butterflies by looking at the light squares and the others saw giving the finger but looking at the negative space (literally!)

Excellent critique, Evan... Joe K was very lucky @Rex was on he probably would have spent three pages on the bottom SSRS alone!

I have to totally concede with you on the plural thing here, which was borderline ridiculous...
He should have DETERGEd half of those.

Put this on a Wednesday and 93% of the negative comments disappear (Yes, @dk I'm making up those figures as I assume you make up yours!) ;)

It was fun to discuss this puzzle today over brunch with Dan Feyer AND Manny Nosowsky, along with some other West COast constructors!!!!
Picture to follow!

Dirigonzo 6:55 PM  

@ACM - "Agitato Coeurs Mennen" is perhaps your most apt pseudonym ever as it perfectly describes the effect you have on many males here (and elsewhere, I assume), most certainly including me.

M and A's Last Silver Deterge 6:57 PM  

@sanfrandude: Thanx as always for yer amazin statistics. I thought this SatPuz was a bit on the easy side -- I mean, shoot, I even finished it, without the usual "research". But never dreamt it would play out as That easy. Puz solvers are doggone smartie-skirts.

[place spell-casting ad here]

@joho: Your dark side is lookin mighty fine.
But, whatevah-U-do, stay away from "The ABC's of Death". In-law Cletus and I streamed that schlock movie on the Netflix, last night. Awful dark. Fewer redeeming features than my all-E's puz. Made yer skin crawl. Film, only in the pond-scum sense. Netflix did award us a special prize, for bein the first streamin household to watch the whole thing...

[place final exam cheatsheets ad here]

@Joe Kro: New target to shoot for: Most squares in a 15x15 that are half black and half white. ("fewest" record has already been tied, multiple times.) Also: most U's in a 15x15. I think Bob Klahn's got one at around 50. Child's play, for U to beat. Just do it, dude.

evil doug 7:43 PM  

Ooh, looks like we got a stalker on the prowl. Be careful, ladies. Just because they seem like safe little creampuff admirers on the blog, they might be praying to their creepy shrines to you in their bedrooms. Read their personal blogs, do some serious research, and--whatever you do--don't agree to meet them without trusted people at your side, if at all....


Dirigonzo 8:05 PM

jae 8:18 PM  

@Evan -- The reason I think it's Letterman is that the Conan thing was more of an NBC fiasco than a feud. The Letterman thing was in the papers a lot from 92-94 (you may have been around 6 years old at the time) and continued making news in the 90s because of the ratings battle between CBS and NBC. To this day Dave and Craig still do LENO jokes/spoofs.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

If you think about it, puzzles with more black squares should in fact be finished faster.

Really though, I don't understand the fuss. What's wrong with "hurling" or "hanging around" or "owing"? The complaints just don't make any sense.

Anonymous 3:38 AM  

I just have to say I was annoyed that INTERPRETERS wouldn't fit as the answer at 24A.

spacecraft 12:47 PM  

Pretty smooth, for a Saturday. I had a bit of trouble in the SE, thanks to the "obvious" HEARING aidS. Yes, some deaf people do have service animals--but are they actually called HEARING DOGS? Seems awkward, JDLR.*

So, "Sign over [sic] a car." I'm trying to picture this. I've seen signs ON cars, but hovering OVER them? Not so much. I guess those triangular ad signs on top of cabs...anyway, to me the word "over" meant the car was parked, and since I had STUDENTA already in, I mused it might be STUDENT ARTIST. Took a few minutes to sort it out. One piece of good luck: IOLITES are also minerals, so when I finally had to change to --DOGS and --DRIVER, nothing but the first letter of 28d had to be written over.

That whole SE section, as @Evan said, is full of yuckiness. I pretty much agree with his evaluation, except that I don't notice things like "low word count." The word count is what it is. I did have to change one other letter; EMTs should already have had CPR training, so TRAINEE was my bad. Easy-medium because of the SE. For a Krozel, the fill wasn't too bad; as has been said, a price must be paid for grids like this.

Hand up for (or with?) the Finger.

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

* Just Doesn't Look Right.

rain forest 2:25 PM  

@Spacecraft - Brilliant. From now on this constructor shall be known as Joe "The Finger" Krozel. Makes sense, because his efforts metaphorically give the finger to traditional crossword "experts" and their stodgy word counts, black square counts, and various "rules".

Not only is this puzzle, as @sanfranMan59 described it, an outlier, Mr. Krozel is, himself, an outlier. If I have to put up with HAVOCS, RETEAM, and DETERGE, in order to be entertained by his unique and fanciful grids, so be it. I think my conclusions STAND TO REASON.

Hah! Capcha is dudurin: pee containing no uric acid.

DMGrandma 2:36 PM  

As a butterfly person, I kept fruitlessly (flitlessly?) expecting some reference to the shape to turn up. What I got was a bunch of oddities. Outliers of the language, as it were. But, somehow they fit together into an easy enough solve.

I agree with "@spacecraft about the car sign thing. Can't hang a sign "over" (as opposed to "on") a car unless it is stationary under the sign, in which case I'd assume the driver's skill wouldn't be of interest. My own nit-to-pick was REGS. Shouldn't the clue have indicated an abbreviation? That lack slowed me down looking for another "whole" word. Pinto pony reminded me of a long ago vacation at Lake Tahoe. But alas, I rode the wrong pony, and had to exchange him for a PAINT, my only write-over.

Waxy in Montreal 2:41 PM  

As others have commented, a Krozel puzzle is usually a brilliant tour-de-force. While I get that he picks up all kinds of brownie points in the constructor world for his victory of form over content, those of us left filling in the resulting grid have to contend with dreck like OUTSKIP, ACTSMAD, DRYGAS, EVERTOR, HAVOCS, RETEAM, etc.

I think SOSO sums up this puzzle very well.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

Fingers? I thought I was looking at four boobs. But I'll admit, when I finished the puzzle I felt like I had been given the finger.

Yeah, I breezed through this in record Saturday time, but with so few clues to solve that's a bit like taking credit for pitching a no-hitter in a rain shortened five-inning game.

good ngocthach 5:00 AM  

It is a perfect metaphor that half of us saw butterflies by looking at the light squares and the others saw giving the finger but looking at the negative space (literally!)
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