Haile Selassie disciple / TUE 10-29-13 / Regulatory inits since 1934 / Priest's garment / Yule libation / Sharer's opposite

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Constructor: Robert Cirillo

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: HOUSE (37A: Word that can follow both halves of 18-, 20-, 32-, 40-, 54- and 57-Across) — just what it says

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Military muscle (FIREPOWER)
  • 20A: Sign of change at the Vatican (WHITE SMOKE)
  • 32A: Functional lawn adornment (BIRD BATH)
  • 40A: Take every last cent of (CLEAN OUT)
  • 54A: "Go" signal (GREEN LIGHT)
  • 57A: Using all of a gym, as in basketball (FULL COURT)

Word of the Day: ALB (33D: Priest's garment) —
The alb (from the Latin Albus, meaning white), one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman CatholicAnglicanLutheran, and many Methodist churches, is an ample white garment coming down to the ankles and is usually girdled with a cincture. It is simply the long linen tunic used by the Romans. In early Medieval Europe it was also normally worn by secular clergy in non-liturgical contexts. (wikipedia)
• • •
Seen it. Sort of. Here's a 2008 version of this same theme (with fewer answers and a longer but more absurd reveal).

I have advocated that this theme type ("both halves of phrase can precede X") be retired, and this puzzle only strengthens my opinion. Theme answers are in the service of a concept that a. is not appreciable while solving and b. is not really "aha"-worthy after solving. If you just look at the grid, it looks like the world's dullest puzzle. Maybe not dullest, but up there in dullness, for sure. As I've said before, the bar seems to have been raised in terms of theme density required for this theme type, but why is theme density good when the theme answers aren't entertaining and don't add any real value? Also, HOUSE? You could go on for an eternity with ___ HOUSE phrases. That 2008 puzzle shares only one theme answer with this one, and this one has several non-theme words that can precede house. DREAM. OPEN. ICE. Without a sensational revealer and very interesting theme answers, this theme type is just an exercise. A ho-hum curiosity. Doesn't help that the fill in this one is PRETTY AWFUL. Five mediocre to bad answers before I even get out of the NW. Seriously. Come on, man. ASPERSE? Don't blow your longer answers on junk like that.


Clue on FULL COURT is phenomenally tone deaf, sports-wise. [Using all of a gym]? I can't even conceive of a context in which that phrase has meaning. Does your gym have only the one court? No other parts? Like stands or sidelines or a locker room or something? "Gym" is, in no universe, synonymous with "court." FULL-COURT press is a type of basketball defense. But as far as I know, the defense uses the court, not The Whole Gym (also, if the game is going on, you are technically "using" the whole court at all times). Gym is the building, court is in the building. Here, I'll let Homer explain it to you.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

88 comments:

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

"The Secret Life of the American Taxi" - coming next summer to PBS

Steve J 12:12 AM  

Didn't dislike it, nor did I love it. It was kinda just there.

I'm not a fan of this type of theme, either, but at least the theme phrases were decent and free of stuff that made little sense or was forced.

I, too, cast aspersions on ASPERSE. And that ASTRA/RASTA cross is probably going to be quite tough for a lot of Tuesday solvers.

Sarah 12:18 AM  

Fill I'd try to avoid on a Tuesday: ASTRA, LIRAS, LDOPA, OVI, AGASP, BERTH, STN, PMS (we all know what it REALLY means), LEW, ESTES (somewhat), RASTA, ASPERSE, TERNS, OIS, ALB and TSA. If the NYT were a quality crossword, this list should not exceed ten, unless it's a Sunday puzzle or a theme with massive constraints. I like ALAW as a partial, a fun phrase at least, but it's a dupe with INLAW. BIRTH/BERTH is slightly concerning as well.

Overall, a poor crossword, but that's what we get in the NYT 9 times out of 10, so...

J Tearney 12:22 AM  

Full court press is a common basketball term.

ESP 12:34 AM  

Didn't like EIDER, TERNS, EGRET and AERIE all in one puzzle. Quite the BIRD BATH.

jae 12:49 AM  

Easy-medium for me.   Only erasure was Cog for CAM.  

Tough stuff for a Tues.: ASTRA, ALB, LEW, RASTA (maybe), ELFMAN...Not an A-List celeb...Dharma and Greg ended in 2002, at least her uncle-in-law Danny shows up in the Simpsons credits every Sunday.

What Rex said about the fill, but I'm with @Steve J on this one.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

I liked the puzzle, might have been a little too easy, but it's Tuesday, we should still be on the easy side of the week. Loved the BIRTH/BERTH crossing.

Carola 3:07 AM  

I enjoy this kind of theme, in a "fun wiith language" kind of way, and it did help me with the solve - after the reveal, I enjoyed figuring out what kind of HOUSEs were in the bottom tier.

Do-overs: atta before GOGO and Cog before CAM.

TEDS Kennedy and Cruz - what a pair!

@ESP - ALSO, OVI.

gifcan 3:27 AM  

If I had done this first thing in the morning I might have had a different feeling for the puzzle.

As it is, I got off work late, made a cup of tea, and sat down to unwind. It was a great puzzle for the purpose of relaxing, a bit of a challenge but nothing strenuous.

Tea with RC, aaaahh.

Astra Cower Mossy 3:35 AM  

BIRTH/BERTH/BATH
I liked it! Liked going back and saying each word with the word HOUSE and envisioning each type.
9, 10, 8, 8, 10, 9
Unusual construction.

Far from retiring this kind of theme, I'm inspired to create * one where the word comes after the first and before the second, wedged in-between.
Like WHITE (HOUSE) BOY, or FARM (HOUSE) ARREST.

*i like how Elissa Grossman says she dislikes the word "constructor", she prefers "creator" because it's more a work of art.

@jae
Went to a Simpsons reading while in LA last week for the tournament. Sadly same day Marcia Wallace (who voiced Edna Krabappel) died.


Anyway, while once again I get some of the criticism, I still think it's a wonderfully "built" house.

MetaRex 6:02 AM  

WHITE HOUSE, SMOKE HOUSE, FIRE HOUSE, BIRD HOUSE, BATH HOUSE, OUTHOUSE, GREENHOUSE, LIGHT HOUSE, and COURT HOUSE...that's a whole lotta nice visuals...

Yep, there's some less than beautiful fill here and there. How does it stack up overall? Well...since you asked, here's Day 2 of the Eseometer.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

Hate ASPERSE.

Rex, you're probably too young to have watched Coach Wooden perfect the FULL COURT press. Very common basketball expression.

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

I hate to be pedantic, because it's a mistake so common that linguists might be ready to give it the OK, but until that time, it really should be TROUPER and not TROOPER for one who soldiers on. It's fromage expression from the stage, which has troupes, not troops.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

It's AN expression from the stage. Nice one, auto-correct. I should know by now to preview before posting.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

From Grammar Sherpa:
Ever wonder why the ABBA song is called “Super Trouper”? Shouldn’t it be spelled “trooper”? Spellcheck won’t help you here, because we’re talking about two different words.

A trouper is someone who keeps going under difficult circumstances without complaint. The word comes from a theatre troupe and suggests a the-show-must-go-on attitude.

A trooper is a member of a military troop. You might look to such a person for inventive swear words, but not cheerful smiles and a can-do attitude. (The same word gives us a crowd of people trooping from one place to another; that is, moving together in the same direction, as in a military manoeuvre.)

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

"Using all of the gym" = FULL COURT

In many high schools or even smaller colleges, the "gym" is where the BB court is... If you're playing 3 on 3, you might just play half-court there in that gym. However, if you've got 4 on 4 or 5 on 5, you probably want to play FULL COURT.

Granted, the "gym" may include the locker rooms as well, still, when you ask someone on a HS/college campus where the "gym" is, they will inevitably direct you to where the basketball court is.

the gym in homer's case is more like a health club.

Gill I. P. 7:37 AM  

I thought this was just fine for a Tuesday.
In my book any puzzle using both parts of a compound word is just peachy keen.
ASPERSE is my fanny pack.

John V 7:38 AM  

Pretty easy and ice, but ASPERSE was not a happy moment; had it from the crosses, but wasn't sure that it was an actual word.

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

TROOPER is just plain wrong, a misspelling. What's the matter with WS and RP? DORK is current slang for a stupid person, not quite synonymous with "nerd" (bookishly, awkward), which is what that show has. DORK is one of those words like DICK, SCREW, etc., which used to be dirty, but now seems acceptable. PRETTY AWFUL is.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

I'm not sure about the tense of BID. Past tense is BADE, no?

jberg 7:55 AM  

Like @Carola, I enjoyed the theme after I saw the clue for the revealer -- it was fun trying to figure out what the word was from the theme answers. Before that, not so much.

OTOH, I was AGASP to see "aspera" in a clue for an answer crossing ASPERSE -- basically the same word translated from Latin to English.

I was really stuck in the North, until I remembered L-DOPA. I wasn't imaginative enough to think of stuffing a whole EIDER into my pillow, and 'down' wouldn't fit there.

Other writeovers: STa before STN (I like the latter more, but we've seen more of the former recently); Cog before CAM, as in "I'm just a CAM in the machine." And Geek before DORK.

Stupid error: OVo instead of OVI - I knew BORTH didn't make sense, but forgot to go back to it.

Somehow, I enjoyed STAR EAT as a concept. Astronomy, not show biz.

Finally, most of you anonymice telling @Rex what a full court press is, please actually read what he said.

Scarab 7:59 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Like @Gill I. P., I liked seeing both parts of the compound words be used, and cleanly, too. Yes, okay, I didn't love ASPERSE. But overall a pleasant and quick Tuesday.

Doris 8:13 AM  

ASPERSE is not commonly used anymore, but it is a perfectly legitimate word. More usual is the expression "to cast ASPERSIONS upon." I saw the word ASPERSE used some years back in either the NYT or Time Magazine to describe a woman conductor who was upset when critics "ASPERSED her grooming." What's the point of complaining about less-common words? People who do crosswords are supposed to have better than average vocabularies.

joho 8:16 AM  

All of the theme answers are real, "in the language" phrases, nothing forced, and there a lot of them ... which makes this a perfectly fine Tuesday in my book.

@Rex, I love the idea of BRICKHOUSE but can't think of anything to replace WHORE. Too bad there's no such thing as a BATHOUSE. ADOBEBRICK is boring.

I liked it, thanks, Robert!

joho 8:19 AM  

Should be "there are a lot ..."

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

full court press

Alfred Austin 8:35 AM  



Because I failed, shall I asperse the End
With scorn or doubt, my failure to excuse;
'Gainst arduous Truth my feeble falseness use,
Like that worst foe, a vain splenetic friend?
Deem'st thou, self-amorous fool, the High will bend
If that thy utmost stature prove too small?
Though thou be dwarf, some other is more tall.
The End is fixed; have faith; the means will mend.
Failures but carve a pathway to success;
Our force is many, so our aim be one:
The foremost drop; on, those behind must press.
What boots my doing, so the deed be done?
Let my poor body lie beneath the breach:
I clomb and fell; who stand on me will reach.
Alfred Austin :

Henry H Goddard 8:47 AM  

The clue/answer for 7D is just plain factually wrong. An IDIOT has an IQ in the range of 0-25, in imbecile 26-50 and a moron in the range 51-76. Not only is an IDIOT not a moron, and vice versa, but they're separated by an imbecile.

Rob C 8:48 AM  

Hi all, this is Rob C your constructor (creator, nice) for today. Thanks for the comments.

I realized when I started to put this puzzle together a couple of years ago that this theme type doesn't necessarily appeal to the more experienced solving crowd here. I know W Shortz recently stated on the xwordinfo site that these types of themes are a bit old. But, I enjoyed this type of theme when I was a newbie solver and I think it plays well to that crowd. Heck, I still like them now. So I've always wanted to construct one.

Wel, at least Rex didn't mince words. But, c'mon, not even one backhanded compliment? Oh, wait, "Maybe not dullest..." Yessss!!!

I'm a bit surprised by all of the aspersions against ASPESION. I thought it was a great word. Miscalculation?

I'm glad Will S kept my clues for CAB and DREAM ON. And OPEN BAR was originally clued as place for free screwdrivers and rusty nails.

As far as the TROOPER/TROUPER debate, I'll leave it to the linguists. From my point of view, this is one of those words that has evolved into this common usage.

One more thing to consider. And I say this not to try to change anyone's mind on the fill, but just to look at a puzzle from a slightly different perspective. Take a look at the 7 theme answers and notice how many downs cross 2 or even 3 themers. So the fill was somewhat constrained. It's often commented that such things have to do with the construction and do not improve the solving experience. But I would agrue that 7 themers (as opposed to 4 or 5) has a positive impact on the solving experience to many. Is it worth the toll on the fill? We can all make up our own minds. I've always been a theme guy.

And finally, I hope everyone found something to enjoy in the puzzle, even if it wasn't your cuppa.

loren muse smith 9:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 9:13 AM  

I'm with @Andrea and @Carola on this kind of theme – I'm always pleased to see this done. If you ever tried to come up with one like this, you'd see how hard it is. Or maybe I just pick the wrong word to build on – but I've never come up with more than one themer.

I liked DORK next to IDIOT. I think I'd rather be the former. @chefwen, I liked the BERTH/BIRTH cross, too, just because. I also liked the anagramaticalistic cross of RASTA/ASTRA, again, just because. I also keep seeing the COWER/POWER cross and trying to read something into that. Not happenin'.

Rob Cirillo – thanks for stopping by! Question -the one thing I noticed was that of the ten HOUSES, only one was a verb – CLEAN HOUSE. The other nine were compound nouns. That just ruined the whole solving experience for me. . .NOT!! I've always been a "theme guy," too, and I enjoyed this solving experience. Cool that SET SHOT and DREAM ON cross three themers.

I studied linguistics, and I have absolutely no opinion, gut feeling, answer, argument in the TROOPER/trouper discussion. "Usage," on the other hand. . .

Like Rex, I saw the other periphery HOUSEs – DREAM, ICE, and OPEN. I guess if you try really hard, you can come up with all kinds of HOUSEs here. Even a top ten list, @M&A. . .

EGRET HOUSE (right next to the TERN HOUSE – neither an AERIE) Oh, wait, BIRD HOUSE is already there.
BUT HOUSE (synonym of GOGO HOUSE and OUT HOUSE) Why do OUT HOUSES all have a moon carved on the door?
PMS HOUSE – ISOLATE people in bad moods. Hey, I've been guilty. . .

Update on my mother-IN-LAW's dog, Tucker – he's doing just fine. No signs that he ASPERSEs me for pouring hydrogen peroxide down his throat. Dogs have such short memories. Or they're really, really forgiving. POOR DOG.

And I liked ASPERSE in the grid. Tough for a Tuesday, but utterly gettable with the crosses. I plan to use it today at some point.

Again, Rob – thanks for the comments. And thanks to Rex for running this PAL HOUSE of like-minded people!

Airymom 9:28 AM  

I do the NYT puzzle everyday and could not imagine constructing a puzzle, so kudos to all those who do. But, I agree with many of my fellow "Rexians". I want a fresh theme, minimal junk, interesting and challenging cluing and a bit of fun. I haven't seen this in weeks. It's been one "meh" puzzle after the other. My husband would have said, "How about losing the oversize tee shirts and taking out something from the 'special' nightie drawer."

Z 9:32 AM  

Well, @Rob C beat me to it, but I thought this was a pretty good puzzle for the type and is a kind of puzzle I really used to enjoy. To ASPERSE seems like a perfectly valid infinitive to me, L-DOPA gets frequent mention in my Science News, PRETTY AWFUL is an interesting construction to consider (how did 'pretty' become a word that adds emphasis? 'Awful' as in god-like or as in terrible? Maybe Hera would be the embodiment of PRETTY AWFUL? It's just kind of weird), we get a full complement of crossbirds, OUI, but we also get an OPEN BAR and a CAB ride home.

Beer Rating: An Amber Ale, good color, subtle hops, and a nice balance of flavors.

@MetaRex - I like your Ese-o-meter. I hope you keep doing it.

Regarding FULL COURT meaning "all of the gym," lots of the schools here were constructed in the 1920's. The gyms often have a single full sized basketball court that can then be divided into two smaller courts for gym class. The 1927 high school has two gyms (originally the boys' gym and the girls' gym, now the large gym and the small gym). The large gym has retractable stands to create more room, but when they are pulled out for fans there is very little room for team benches and official's tables. Another building has a gym where you access the court from the first floor and the stands from the second floor. If a player were to dive out of bounds they would crack their head on a brick wall. This is a former high school that is now a K-8 school.

In short - for people who went to a high school or middle school in buildings built before the 1960's, 57A makes perfect sense.

chefbea 9:33 AM  

Loved the puzzle !! Was fun saying all the theme words with house after them. @RobC Thanks for stopping by and explaining the process.

Nice spicy puzzle

mac 9:33 AM  

Nice Tuesday, with a hefty theme and some nice words. Surprised with the comments on asperse, I had no problem with that one. Noticed astra and star(eat) so close together in the NW.

Write-over at go-go girl: go-to girl. So many birds! I would hate to find an eider in my pillow.

Lots of German wines never leave the country, like the Badener we liked when we lived there.

Bookdeb 9:53 AM  

Where there's SMOKE, there's FIRE! Thought at first that would be the theme, and thought, "but the SMOKE shouldn't be under the FIRE." Didn't take long to see the true theme. Still, it's fun that these are at the top of the house like a chimney.

quilter1 10:03 AM  

I liked it. When the house has been cleaned it is a CLEAN HOUSE. I own an ALB with cincture. And a pectoral cross. I'd like to see pectoral in a puzzle.

Laurence Katz 10:06 AM  

Sad to see dumbing down of the (written) language in the NYT by allowing "trooper" for "trouper."

r.alphbunker 10:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan McConnell 10:31 AM  

Seemed like a good Tuesday to me, except for ASPERSE. If it were ASPERSIONS, no big deal. But ASPERSE seems weird, even though it's really just old.

AliasZ 10:35 AM  

My favorite word of the day: ASPERSE transitive verb
1: sprinkle; especially: to sprinkle with holy water.
2: to attack with evil reports or false or injurious charges. (from Merriam-Webster).

Like @Doris, I am surprised so many erudite solvers can find this fine word objectionable.

@jberg, it is not the same word as "aspera." ASPERSE is from the Latin aspersus, past participle of aspergere, from ad- + spargere, meaning to scatter, while "aspera" is a Latin adjective meaning rough.

However, as @Anonymous at 7:31 noted, TROOPER as clued is totally wrong. If even the NYT puzzle editor is not vigilant enough to catch such blatant errors, which unfortunately seem to run rampant in today's world where "close enough" is close enough, then I have very little hope that 50 years from now such fine nuances of the language will even be remembered. Letting everything sink to the lowest common denominator - what a shame.

Milford 10:38 AM  

I actually DNFed on this one (a Tuesday! How mortifying). Because I was not careful in reading 17A AGASP clue, and had AGASt, which led to AStERSE, which sounded somewhat plausible. If I had been familiar with ASPERSE that would have been helpful.

Although I don't think this kind of theme helps with the solve, I did enjoy going back and saying each word with HOUSE. Some of them are "things" - OUTHOUSE (one word), WHITE HOUSE (two words), another is an action - CLEAN HOUSE, and others are concepts - FULL HOUSE, POWER HOUSE. So I found it interesting.

Love SPICES, and the two in the clue are really different - saffron and ginger. Would these be together in a dish, I wonder? I also like the BERTH/BIRTH cross - totally different words, just one letter difference.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 10:40 AM  

Fun puz, usin stuff found 'round the house. And by a Rexville local boy, makin it big in NY City. Good job, @Rob C.

Saw Robert's byline, and hope swelled for a repeat of the gorgious U-count from his 2012 puz. No dice. When a puz is busy stackin themers right on top of each other, it's harder to go for the gold. He coulda gone ahead and cheated a little, like an M&A puz might do to boost its count, but... no. He's got his integity. And he tryin to get published, gosh darn it.

fave fillins was: ASPERSE. BERTH-BIRTH. And ELFMAN; she's a PRETTY one. Always AWFUL nice to have an OPENBAR, while we're here.

fave weeject: OIS. Not bad, Rob C. But you haven't lived, until you have to come up with a clue for UUU...

@lms: Glad Tucker is settling in comfortably, at the Ratgo Inn.

M&A

AliasZ 10:47 AM  

@r.alphbunker, your BEQ link is not working. Try BEQ's BS themes.

Joe The Juggler 10:49 AM  

"Clue on FULL COURT is phenomenally tone deaf, sports-wise. [Using all of a gym]? I can't even conceive of a context in which that phrase has meaning. Does your gym hbe in the locker room and ave only the one court? No other parts? Like stands or sidelines or a locker room or something?"

I disagree completely. I play half-court in a gym every Wednesday. It's a small, elementary school gym. Were we to play full court, we would be using all of the gym. Yes, this gym has only the one court, and has no bleachers or locker rooms. Sidelines are part of the basketball court.

Not all "gyms" are rec centers or commercial fitness centers that include all sorts of other things. It's an appropriate usage for the word to mean just the room that can contain one basketball or volleyball court. In fact, it even makes sense to talk about leaving the gym to go to the locker room.

Z 10:49 AM  

Language evolves, sometimes very quickly. As far as that "arbiter" of current usage, the Urban Dictionary, is concerned TROOPER is correct. The non-crowd-sourced online dictionaries agree with those crying, "Foul, not F-O-W-L, you DORK."

Speaking of which, 'nerd' and 'geek' have lost some of their pejorative power, but DORK is still insulting and only insulting.

ArtO 10:51 AM  

An easy Tuesday. Certainly easier than yesterday, despite ASPERSE.

thanks to Rob C for coming along and managing not to respond to Rex with the same spleen in which his commentary was written. Is he a Cardinal fan? That might explain the exceptional ill will.

Two Ponies 10:55 AM  

I liked this fine Tuesday puzzle.
It was easy and fun to solve. What else can we ask from a Tuesday?
@ Rob C. Nice one and thanks for your comments.

Rex Parker 10:57 AM  

Full-court press is SUCH a common basketball term that I didn't feel the need to mention it at first. I have added a comment about it. My point about the terrible cluing on that answer still stands.

RP

Steve J 11:10 AM  

@Doris & AliasZ: For me, my dislike of ASPERSE is twofold. One is that I prefer crosswords that reflect the language as it's used, not as it once was. Yes, old words can and should appear, because they're still frequently enough encountered, and may even still slip into contemporary use. As far as I can tell, ASPERSE does not fall into that category. Looking at Google's Ngram viewer, ASPERSE has fallen to virtually zero usage since the 1940s.

Even so, I think I probably would have not had as negative a reaction were it not part of what is an unattractive NW corner. I already commented on the ASTRA/RASTA crossing. Add in things like LIRAS (at least in my experience, common usage has LIRA being used as the plural, as in 10,000 lira), and it's a clunky corner.


@Milford: It's not uncommon for both saffron and ginger to show up together in Moroccan food. In fact, I made a tagine this weekend that included both.


@Z: I hear DORK used in a non-insulting way fairly frequently. In fact, since elementary school, that's about the only way I hear it. Plus, the world has now brought us the word adorkable.

r.alphbunker 11:11 AM  

Jeez Leweez: Var. Did RP and I solve the same puzzle? Granted that this type of theme is number 5 on BEQ's list of bullshit themes (http://www.brendanemmettquigley.com/2009/05/puzzle-65-ten-bullshit-themes.html), even the great one recently did a puzzle of this type acknowledging that if both words of the phrase could be combined with the revealer then it was more interesting.

I, for one, like wondering when the theme will come into focus. But then again I enjoy driving by a corn field and seeing the rows appear.

@AliasZ thanks for telling me about the broken link.

autocorrect 11:18 AM  

AGHAST

Z 11:20 AM  

@Rex - I can think of a context/universe. In the very real schools where I have been an administrator "the gym" is nothing but a multi-use room with various lines drawn on the wood floor. If you play full court basketball you use the entire gym. The "locker room" is an entirely different place (trust me - you get far different types of adolescent misadventure in the one than the other). However, as long ago as the 1960's these spaces in schools were constructed much differently. So I grant that it is a mostly dated usage, but it is still legitimate.

Three and Out.

retired_chemist 11:53 AM  

I am wholly with Z on half-court vs. full court usage of a gym (1957 HS grad)and thus on the clue as well.

Didn't thrill me, this puzzle, but I enjoyed it. A dumb mistake cost me 30 seconds or more to check: the RHoNE valley is in France, not Germany. I knew that.....

TROOPER does need a better clue, as the one used is closed to TROuPER. Agree with the criticism of the clue for IDIOT. Crosses made both clear, but still.....

Nothing worth saying that hasn't already been said, probably including my comments above.

Thanks, Mr. Cirillo.

Milford 12:24 PM  

@Steve J. - oh yes! Moroccan food could have both. I guess I usually use turmeric instead of the saffron to get the lovely yellow hue. Now I want a tagine...

@autocorrect - you're correct, it's aghast, not agast. Silly me.

Sandy K 12:26 PM  

Hi @Rob C-

I don't know why so many are AGASP at ASPERSE. NOT I. Seems to be a legit word...at least acc. to Merriem, Webster, American Heritage, and more importantly, Google.

I enjoyed the puz and appreciated the theme density- a term I may have learned from your comments.

I give it a GREEN LIGHT, so GO GO!

mac 12:45 PM  

Our friend Prescott's nickname is Full Course Press. He earned it.

M and Airbag also 1:00 PM  

@4-Oh: Gotta go with the mighty Blogmeister today, on that there FULLCOURT clue. Goin to the gym and goin to the court are different rodeo rides.

Howsomeever, clue is easily improved to M&A stds, by addin in Floor:
"Using all of a gym floor, as in basketball"
or, with an M&A gently-twisted (ThurPuz+) clue, such as:
"O.J. venue, often"

Another fave fillin today: GOGO. So echo-y. So shapely. So compact.
I get the impression that fill gets dubbed "dull" by 4-Oh, under the followin circumstances:

a. It's all shorties (7 on down words).
b. None of the words make sounds like a chronic snorer. To be fair, DORK comes close; but, alas, maybe a dash too short. DORKWADHEAD probably would get the Pulitzer.
c. No swine references. Example: HOGWASH
d. Yer biggest controversy is gym vs. court discussions.
e. No debut phraseology lifted from Urban Dictionary.
f. No 1987 film references.
g. Q and J. If puz has both, 4-Oh gets spooked, fearing that "P" word may ensue.
h. Your name does not at least rhyme with Patrick Berry. Example: Hat Trick Larry.

For the likes of m&e, fill was just fine, for a TuesPuz. Rest in peace, Velvet Undergrounder dudes. M&A

AliasZ 1:24 PM  

George PAL (1908-1980) born György PÁL Marczincsak was a Hungarian-born American animator and film producer-director, principally associated with the science fiction genre. His resume includes classics like: When Worlds Collide (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), Houdini (1953), tom thumb (1958), The Time Machine (1960), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) and 7 faces of Dr. Lao (1964).

I wonder if the following alternate clues suggestions would have made this puzzle even more fun:

PAL - see above
OIS - Kvetcher's outbursts (var.)
ISOLATE - Tardy kindergartner's announcement
1A - Anagram of 4D
4D - Anagram of 1A
COWER - More bovine
EIDER - Partner of "or" in Brooklyn
NOG - Weightlessness
HOG - Classic 60A-bike that takes up the whole road
ELFMAN - Half-human mythical creature
SEC - Brief moment when the plural would be too much like work
TROOPER - "Trouper" for an ESL student

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Consider "girls'"basketball in 1950's Iowa. Only half of the full court for a group of 3 players on the 6-member team. I guess it was to prevent girls from too much running and over-exertion.��

Acme 1:56 PM  

@AliasZ
Love your list!!!
(my only kvetch is Oi is not a var. of OY, tho both now good in Scrabble, I think the OI is for the Irish "Hey, there!" and neither EVER take an S!)

Drag when a good puzzle discussion gets so bogged down...and then folks dig in their heels even more defensively.
Maybe @rex was a DORK in highschool and never went to the gym. (Hand up for geeK and AGASt till I realized I needed an H)

And altho BEQ is A god, one must not take his list as commandments...under the different strokes codicil

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

I think Joe the Juggler did a nice job correcting Rex on the half court deal. Z as usual has it slightly wron ( i for instance went to school quite a bit alter than his paremeters and lived with the very construction he cites).

Anybody else think eider is a bit off? It's the down that's in the pillows right? not the duck or goose as the case may be.

Last Silver Porkchop 2:19 PM  

p.s.
Actually, dull list item c. does get a hit today, with HOG. Plus, you could mold STAR EAT into an indirect ref. So, wrong again, M&A breath.

Amend item c to read...
c. No inventive, but clear, swine references. Examples: HOG-LICIOUS. PIG-TACULAR. BOAR-DERLINENUTS. SOWSYEROLDMAN. har. This almost rates a puz theme of its own.

M&A

p.p.s.s.
Cool list, @AliasZ.
Thanx, @Bob K. and Ahisma, for workin my puz yesterday.

WAMandAB 2:59 PM  

shoulda been "ahimsa". sorry.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:30 PM  

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of EIDER
1
: any of several large northern sea ducks (genera Somateria and Polystica) having fine soft down that is used by the female for lining the nest —called also eider duck

2: eiderdown


ei·der·down
noun \-ˌdau̇n\

: soft feathers that come from ducks and that are used in warm clothing and bed covers

So as usually happens, the puzzle is correct.

@M&A - It was a pleasure to do your puzzle, tho I must admit I was at times confused by some of your UniqUe wordplay!

quilter1 3:33 PM  

An EIDER is a kind of duck, hence EIDERdown. My down duvet is on the bed already.

Lewis 3:42 PM  

@anonymous 7:13 -- I agree about trouper.
@Doris -- I'm with you on ASPERSE
@aliasZ -- your list made me smile

It's not the type of theme I'm fond of, unless it produces answers with spark.

@robert -- thank you for checking in and taking the time to elucidate on the puzzle. And thank you for taking the time to make this puzzle, as I enjoyed the solve. And I liked DREAMON and LDOPA. I also liked your clue on OPENBAR. I disagree with you on one point, however. Theme density can be an enjoyable element of a puzzle, but if it causes too much ugliness in the fill, I don't think it is worth it. In this puzzle, I think it was more a wash.


Joe The Juggler 4:26 PM  

NB: those of us defending the puzzle's usage of "gym" aren't claiming that this is the only possible usage, just that Rex is wrong in saying it's not a valid one. Using the word "gym" to refer to a health club or rec center in its entirety is legitimate, but so is using the word to refer to a room that houses nothing but one basketball court and is distinct from things like locker rooms or weight rooms.

Alice in SF 4:32 PM  

Please, please never put Cruz and Kennedy together again.

jae 4:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 4:43 PM  

Danny ELFMAN was on the front page of the LA Times Calendar section today. He's doing a sold-out concert of the scores he wrote for Tim Burton's movies.

sanfranman59 4:49 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 7:16, 8:15, 0.88, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:48, 5:09, 0.93, 23%, Easy-Medium

J Dipinto 5:12 PM  

Must agree with Joe the Juggler, Z and everyone else who is defending the full court clue. In my high school the basketball court was referred to as the gym; in fact, we had the "old gym" which was on the basement level, and a larger "new gym" on the second floor. The clue made perfect sense to me.

I can't countenance "trooper" with that clue though. I've never seen it spelled that way to connote that meaning. Should absolutely be spelled "trouper".

J Dipinto 5:42 PM  

To further help the cause: in West Side Story, the dance is going to take place "at the gym." The "gym" is clearly a basketball court (check out the mambo scene on YouTube).

August West 5:50 PM  

When you enter the Wissahickon Boys' Club Gymnasium, you have to come in through the door. And as soon as you open the door, you're in the gym. Now, you gotta close the door.

Rob C 8:39 PM  

Just a few more comments on the puzzle:

-I actually had two more themers that I squeezed into an earlier iteration of the puzzle, GUARD DOG and ROAD WORK, but if you think the fill was strained now, you should have seen that one! I didn't even send it in. Jeff Chen asked if he could post it on the xwordinfo site, but I had deleted the file.

-ELFMAN was originally clued as Danny (not too many other ways you could go with that one)- I wonder if it was changed b/c Jenna is considered more well known. And I wonder if that's a correct assumption.

-FULL COURT was originally clued as "Like some pickup games". That would have avoided that discussion.

-I still love ASPERSE

-@Lewis - I agree that "Theme density can be an enjoyable element of a puzzle, but if it causes too much ugliness in the fill". Different folks have different opinions as to where the ugly line is. I draw the line very much on the side of theme density. It sure makes for some lively discussion here, which I enjoy, even if I'm the one getting beat up about it.

Again thanks to everyone for your comments. On to Wednesday.

I'm just saying... 9:04 PM  

Did you ever think that maybe your are just bored with doing crossword puzzles. It wasn't the most exciting puzzle I've ever done, but I did it to kill some time and confirm that I still have a brain that enjoys coming up with word associations. You are negative most of the time.

sanfranman59 10:04 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 7:13, 6:07, 1.18, 97%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 201 Mondays)
Tue 7:16, 8:15, 0.88, 16%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:16, 3:46, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:36, 5:09, 0.89, 13%, Easy

j Dipinto 1:58 AM  

@Rob C -- I liked the puzzle just fine (except for "trooper", which spelling is simply wrong with that clue, IMO). I also enjoyed asperse -- a rarely used, but not unheard of word -- and I thought the overall construction was great. As for me, I'm goin' to the gym to MAMBO!!!

J Dipinto 2:06 AM  

Also, I would have enjoyed (preferred?) the Danny Elfman clue. Not obscure for me, but then I am music-attuned.

steve 8:15 AM  

Hi crossword done interestingly and brilliantly we can use this type of crossword for any secret message but one thing opposite party know the meaning.


ISO 2341 | DIN 1444

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

I stand foursquare against OFL on this one. While it may be true that there are plenty of HOUSE expressions, I still marvel that pairs of words from that list can create their own idioms. This type of theme is always a delight for me, and I hope it NEVER goes out of style. Sheesh, how many times can they DO that?!?

Had an interesting hiccup while solving the paired clue at 45&46. Reading "Quite bad," and having _MS already in, I naturally made it PMS (!) and set about finding a companion word, like say, MOODY, for 46a. Till I noticed... oh. I'm in the DOWN section. And looky here: PMS was right!

ASPERSE was in a puzz not that long ago, so I wasn't that put off by it. AGASP, though, that's a groaner on any day of the week.

The basketball memory for me was the SETSHOT, a relic still in use in my heyday. I used to be deadly from the corner. Being 6'2" helped against the block. It was one of those "Well, now that you mention it" moments. Yeah, the free throw IS one, isn't it? Maybe that's why so many modern-day stars CAN'T MAKE ONE FOR S**T. They practice jumping, and that's what they're used to. Back to the basics, boys!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Full court at the old gym at J. Sterling Morton High School East for men's basketball had five sides (one corner wass cut off due to an electrical room.) Plus, since the gym was on the stage for the school auditorium, a player going out of bounds towards the spectators was at risk of falling into the orchestra pit!!

DMG 2:20 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Only hang up was my spelling for a word I've encountered in puzzles before but never used, APAERgE!, but STN took care of that. Hesitated at TROOPERS, but decided the clue must refer to soliders out on a 20 mile hike! Different strokes for different folks!

Dirigonzo 3:30 PM  

The characters in "TBBT" are neRds or geeks, I think, but not DORKS (well, all but one, maybe).

In my neck of the syndi-woods, AWFUL can itself be a modifier, as in "I feel awful good about finishing the puzzle" or "I liked it an awful lot". I'd say it ranks one notch below "wicked" so a puzzle that's "awful good" is not quite up to par with one that's "wicked good". Hmm, maybe I'll devise a rating scheme to incorporate those terms - it might go something like this: awful, pretty awful, pretty good, good, awful good and wicked good.

@lms - glad to hear (five weeks later) that Tucker suffered no ill-effects from his experience.

Ginger 3:46 PM  

Theme vs Fill vs Theme vs Fill... IMHO, good, dense themes trump a few iffy fill-ins, and this puzzle is definitely theme dense. 37-A helped pull it all together, and made the south a tad easier. Some of the HOUSEs brought a smile...OUT, BIRD, SMOKE.

As a kid in the 50s, girls were not allowed to play boys rules BB. Didn't understand it then, and still don't.

@DMG hand up for ASPERgE,
Shout out to me at 28-A.

@SIS How about them Hawks!

rain forest 5:25 PM  

There is nothing in this puzzle I wish to asperse,
And I think that all who do would simply disperse.


The meaning of FULL COURT was clear, no matter how you wish to define "gym". I guess a guy or gal could say, "I was at the gym today", even though he/she never left the locker room, but the "as in basketball" takes care of that little pewit.

So Rex is on record as not liking themes that involve "words that can follow words", "words that can precede words", and "words found within words (or phrases)". Maybe he would like a theme which involves "words that randomly show up somewhere in the grid". I think M&A could have a field day with that. Har.

'Hawks!

Solving in Seattle 7:51 PM  

How many basketball courts can be balanced on the head of a pin?

Robert, I enjoyed your Tuespuz. First throwdown was WHITESMOKE; second was GREENLIGHT, neither with any crosses. Guilty with AGASt/AStERSE.

@Ginger & @Rainy, what a game! OPENBAR on me. Wondering what the point spread on the 'Niners game is going to be? Go Hawks!

Capcha: sYogui. Boo Boo's answer to the question, "Who's the other bear?"

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