Indonesian currency / TUE 1-21-14 / High in German names / Magazine launch of 1933 with hyphen in its name / Times Square booth sign / Fictional Flanders Plimpton / Ski resort in Salt Lake county / 2007 documentary about health care system

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Constructor: Todd Gross

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: WORD / LOOP (1A: With 72-Across, what the answers on this puzzle's perimeter form) — words on perimeter form a loop, where (moving clockwise from 1A), each successive answer  represents a one-letter change from the previous one, until you end up back where you started: at WORD. [I'm told that the "O" is also part of the theme, in that it is the only vowel in the themers, and appears exclusively in themers; I can't imagine most people will notice this, or care, but in case it is thematic, I'm telling you about it]

Theme answers:
  • WORD, WOOD, WOOT, TOOT, HOOT, HOOP, LOOP, LOOK, KOOK (I went for LOON here at first…), COOK, CORK, CORD
Word of the Day: RUPIAH (54A: Indonesian currency) —
n.pl.rupiah.
A basic unit of currency in Indonesia.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/rupiah#ixzz2r04mVEha
• • •

Yesterday's puzzle was gunky, but it looks squeaky clean next to this thing. First, this theme is kind of a pointless and dull trick, but let's just say it's a cute variation on the (tired) word ladder, give it some credit for its loopiness, and move on. What about the rest of the puzzle? The majority of the puzzle? The Answers You Have To Fill In To Complete The Puzzle? Well, those … yikes. At this point, I don't understand how a constructor can make a grid like this and *not* say to himself, "man, this really could be better." There is so much junk here, it's astonishing. Very few interesting, longer answers—but tons of 4- and 5-letter answers, and so many of them mediocre-to-outright-bad. The constructors whose work I (generally) love, these people would (mostly) be ashamed to have corners like that SE corner: ADRIP, ATRIP, and RUPIAH (!?!?!)? In the same tight space? And that's hardly out of the ordinary for this grid. AWEE!? UPAS? OBER? Everywhere you look, the grid's marked by an "eh, whatever, good enough" attitude. No craft. No care for the fill. Database says the answer has been used before, so, sure, go with it. No matter if it's icky or rarely used or whatever. Computer Say Good So Good. This drives me nuts. As you can see. LETA WILEE ORNE ISE. There is no good reason for fill to be this poor. And it IS poor, and even those of you who think I'm "too harsh" know that this is poor. You've been at this too long. Come on, now. This theme may require a compromise here or there (esp. in the corners), but a gajillion compromises? No.


I will give the puzzle this—it has one nice patch: the KEYWEST NEWSEEK SEXUAL CARWAX nexus. Side note: I think something marketing itself as SEXUAL CARWAX might sell very well.



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

101 comments:

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

How could WOOT not be the WOD?

jae 12:05 AM  

Medium for me but I misread 58a and put in lAyteX and misspelled WILEE (I seem to want a Y).   Never heard of RUPIAH and would have had a DNF if not for the theme.  I would have gone with uBER for 10d even though I doesn't quite work (thought it might work in German?), the theme said an O was needed.   Which led me to an interesting discovery:  originally WOOT was a hacker term for root (or administrative) access to a computer.  This explains a certain character's name (Root not WOOT)  on "Person of Interest" (the show that pretty much had it right long before the Snowden revelations). 

However, the puzzle clue is looking for the gamer term, "w00t". 
"w00t" was originally an trunicated expression common among players of Dungeons and Dragons tabletop role-playing game for "Wow, loot!" Thus the term passed into the net-culture where it thrived in video game communities and lost its original meaning and is used simply as a term of excitement.
"I defeated the dark sorcerer! Woot!" 

Liked it more than Rex did. 

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

So many problems with this puzzle. First off, WORD LOOP...???????? Googles extremely badly. Better idea: word WRAP.

Second problem...O's only in themers....why? Is this supposed to be a reference to word LOOP? Seems off. Feels like a cop-out for the final problem of the puzzle, which is the fill...yes, filling grids with themers on the perimeter is tough, but when you have a large number of choices as to which words to pick...shouldn't happen. Even places with minimum problems, such as the bottom-middle, are filled with crap.

The NYT just raised its pay, and well, this puzzle doesn't justify it, I'm afraid.

John Child 12:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 12:20 AM  

Actually finished considerably better than Monday. Yes, there was a lot of crap, but over all a fair Tuesday for me.

Carola 12:22 AM  

I enjoyed the LOOP theme - my first two perimeter entries were CORD and CORK, and I then went about trying to fill in the rest of the edges. A couple of pairs: DERIDE ADRIP, UPAS ODDER. And opposites: OBER v. BENEATH, OBESE v. SVELTE, TITO v. LENIN (sort of).

@jae - Thanks for explaining WOOT.

John Child 12:24 AM  

I think the theme is more interesting than most early-week wordplay. All Os around the perimeter (making an O, sort of, around the grid) and no Os in the middle. Highly constrained with all those words starting with and ending with O.

Thumbs up from me for something out of the ordinary, even though the result is ugly fill.

Steve J 12:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Find it kinda pathetic that the above commentator feels that the ugly fill is a thumbs up for being something out of the ordinary. Shows just how bad the NYT crossword really is, having to rely on hundreds of useless crappy entries just to make a halfway interesting puzzle. Horrendous.

Steve J 12:33 AM  

Ordinarily I don't find word ladders interesting, for a number of reasons. They're more mechanical than playful, I rarely if ever notice them until after the fact, and they don't assist my solving (obviously because I'm not noticing them).

And yet, I kind of like what was done here. It's still mechanical, but I was impressed when I looked at the completed puzzle and noted how it worked in a progression around the edges. The O's are a nice touch, although maybe a little gratuitous.

They're not gratuitous in and of themselves, but because of how that's done at the expense of the fill in the remainder of the puzzle. I didn't notice as much of it as others have called out - this went like a average-to-fast Monday for me, so lots of things were filled off of crosses without my noticing - but there's definitely some less-than-attractive stuff lurking in there.

SW is the strongest part of the puzzle, with NEWSWEEK, SEXUAL, CARWAX, SVELTE and KEY WEST. Also liked SICKO. WOOT and KOOK were the funnest part of the themers; others were simply functional.

In the end, there's something to be said for a theme idea that ordinarily doesn't appeal to me at all turning out to be a little interesting. Was it worth things like the ADRIP/A TRIP crossing? Arguably not, resulting in a pretty mixed bag.

Lastly, one quibble: NEUTRAL, by definition, is not a gear. It's the absence of a gear.

wreck 12:37 AM  

I think it is pathetic that some pompous asses think their opinion is somehow more enlightening than someone else's.

Awee Cedar Memos 12:43 AM  

This was a tour de force of construction…a word de force…
WORD and LOOP so perfectly placed and making it all end perfectly in 12 steps!

Plus internally, there were word loops or mirrors…
DERIDE/DEMISE
ACID/CIDER
CEDAR/CIDER
ATRIP/ADRIP
ORNE/ORME
RETRO/INTRO
RENO/REININ
OGEE/AWEE/NEWSWEEK

Very sophisticated…

My one weird mistake was CARmAX, the name of an auto sales thing which left me with NEWSmEEK, I thought it was some MAD parody or internet parody of NEWSWEEK.

WOOT WOOT, go Todd!

Billy 12:51 AM  

Oh come on Rex, save your criticism for puzzles that are a little less awesome.
I couldn't believe he clued "tits" as a times square sign until I realized it was "tkts." But between SEXUAL relations with a SVELTE young lady wearing only a SPEEDO while applying a CARWAX, this constructor is one KOOKy SICKO.

Garth 12:54 AM  

Fun puzzle to solve. I don't even have a problem with a good old fashioned word ladder. And this was a nice twist on the idea. As for the fill? If the theme is enjoyable, I'm not thinking too much about the fill.

As for Rex's review, after reading about a half a sentence I realized it was a skimmer*

*A review written on a day in which Rex needs a hug. Unpleasant feelings occur if you do more than skim.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

For once I'll agree with Rex that the fill here is a mess.

I generally agree with his peeve about answers like ADRIP. Initial articles should not show up unless the clue specifically points to them. (Indeed, I think the NYT should also adopt the English custom of indicating when an answer involves multiple words.)

But most of the time his complaints about answers being beyond his knowledge fall flat. I want a puzzle to reward wide knowledge.

Still, some of this -- particularly that ugly OBER-EBRO cross -- is just trivial junk. AGRO instead of the much more common AGRI? Yeccch.

wreck 1:17 AM  

I don't get the uproar over a Tuesday puzzle. Yes, there are clues that make you stretch your thinking, but there is nothing that makes you need to Google. A lot of bellyaching - if you ask me (and you didn't!)

Evan 1:18 AM  

@Anonymous 12:31:

I don't know if it was a typo on your part, but in defense of @John Child, he didn't say that the fill gets a thumbs up for being out of the ordinary, he said the puzzle gets a thumbs up for being out of the ordinary in spite of the ugly fill.

Having said that....I was none too pleased with that fill myself and so didn't enjoy solving it as much. I think it might have been better to leave room for some O's in the middle of the grid -- I didn't see that as a necessary constraint to make the theme work and I'd guess that it compromised the fill pretty heavily. It's tough enough to get good fill when two adjacent across or down entries end in O, especially in the southeast corner, where four of them do -- and still keep O's out of the puzzle just about everywhere else.

Ellen S 1:38 AM  

Interesting that the humans seemed to like the puzzle pretty much, and the anonymice are getting their hate on. Or maybe it's only one mouse; no way we can tell. I found it more fun than yeterday. I got the theme right away. I thought. Saying, "ooh, it's a WORD LADDer... Huh?" But eventually I came to understand.

Bit of a trip down memory lane, with some old favorites like EBRO and IMARET. Indonesian and THai currency get me every time, doesn't matter how often I see them. RUPIAH? Maybe I need to take ATRIP to those countries so I'll learn their currency. My most least favorite was "ISE" ending Advert. But ADRIP crossing SPEEDO seems like it has some possibilities.

Mao and Lenin, together again for the first time in a single puzzle? But not in a good way. Mao said, "Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land." Devolved into "LETA thousand flowers bloom." Mao encouraged creativity and openness, and people who took him seriously didn't live to regret it. Don't want to think about what Lenin would have said about all that. The Russian soldiers who shot their officers and marched back to Moscow to make a revolution, called for "Land, Peace and Bread."

Me, too! I want to talk about Questinia's bread recipe! I made it last week. What a HOOT!
Her recipe said:
Mix 3 1/2 C warm H2O with 1 TB yeast and 1 TB salt.
Stir in about 6 C flour until no lumps.
Dough will be wet. Let rise an hour or so.
Form as baguettes or boules, let rise additional 15 mins or so.
Bake in quick oven. (that’s 400 degrees. Or 500 degrees – if 500, “15-25 minutes”. Hah.)
Also useful as a pizza dough.

That turned out to be "about" 2# of flour = one bag from Sprouts. And exactly one packet of Active Dry Yeast. So measuring was sure simple. But I used whole wheat flour which might have messed up the whole process. I also didn't let it rise long enough, let it raise another time, maybe a few other things I should have done or not done. But the amazing thing is, I did everything wrong and it still tasted great. I'll play around and let you know if I can get a version that shapes into baguettes.

chefwen 1:46 AM  

First time I heard WOOT was on some game show when they won something and I heard WOOT WOOT with both arms pumping air, otherwise I never would have thought that was a word. Enahoo, liked it a lot more than Rex, thought it was a HOOT and I had fun doing it. Isn't that the point?

Jisvan 2:09 AM  

I can't resist mentioning Mr. Zog's Sex Wax: Original, Never Spoils, The Best for Your Stick! I'm not kidding.

retired_chemist 2:28 AM  

Found it easier and liked it better than Rex. Yup, some crap, but not as offensive as Rex et al. opine.

Agree with one complaint: the dearth of longer, more interesting answers and the consequent choppy feel. All those 4s and5s.....

Like @jae, ÜBER before OBER (and before seeing the theme), and WILEY before WILEE.

OK puzzle, not great.

Thomas808 2:51 AM  

I guess the center answer RESET with the clue "put back to zero, say" is intentional to match the theme of the ring of O's, right?

I really liked the variation on the word ladder, especially the extra constraint in the NE and SW where the last letter of one word had to be the first letter of the other word. I didn't even notice that there were no O's in the middle until I saw it here.

The fill didn't bother me at all. Yes, not very clever, but I didn't find it offensively forced either. Nice job!

Anonymous 3:57 AM  

The point to the loop is it resolves to CORD WOOD. Duh!

Numinous 5:09 AM  

I rather enjoyed this one and found it pretty easy. It came in at about average time for me for a Tuesday. I even appreciate that the Os encircle the grid exclusively.

I had to laugh @Billy, picturing SICiO crossing TiTS. Is it just me or is the NYT getting a little risqué with the puzzles? Not that my inner 14 year old minds in the least.

@Ellen S, I enjoyed your bread adventure and would like to talk to you about it. I posted an entry on my blog specifically for you if you would care to check it out.

Couldn't sleep so I decided to do the puzzle and check out Rex and the folks.

Gill I. P. 5:31 AM  

My, Rex...aren't we in fine form today.
We seem to be so critical of Tuesday puzzles and perhaps for good reason. Most (in my opinion) are boring. This one though was kinda fun for me. Lots of old timey crossword words that I learned doing puzzles. I learned Bide A WEE from doing them. I remember looking up the meaning and then watching Doctor Who with my British husband and seeing the B&B BIDE A WEE and jumping up and shouting "I KNOW THAT WORD"
@Ellen S....I toasted your bread and it was delicious!
Where did all the avatar pictures go??? @chefwen, If they ever appear again, I've dedicated my newest to you!!!!
TITO Puente rocks...El Rey de los Timbales!

Danp 6:55 AM  

It's not Beethoven, but you can dance to it.

Tuesday puzzles are for less experienced solvers. My guess is that most of these people will be far more forgiving of "gunk" and far more impressed with the theme than the normal Rex Parker commentariat. I know I would have been 10 years ago.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

Ok, so I never ever have seen WOOT in a text.

jberg 7:35 AM  

First of all, thanks to @JAE for explaining the etymology of WOOT. Now I have one less thing to worry about.

I really had to admire the theme -- but it really does constrain the rest of the puzzle. Maybe the Os thing took it too far -- especially since it's hard to relate it to the main theme, as revealed. On the other hand, it adds to the constructing difficulty.

I'd have rated it easy, it went by very fast. Once you get the theme, it speeds things up even more.

I could have gone without the reference to my shape at 6D, though!

r.alphbunker 8:04 AM  

Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. Desiderius Erasmus

I loved the theme. Its brillance made the darkness of the crosswordese disappear. WOOT was gettable from the other theme words. RUPIAH was definitely preshortzian but had fair crosses .

Is an EBRO a somebody you meet online?

Uhoh. Is the capture idunjab or iduniab? Is that a dotted j or a dotted i. I am guessing the former. Here goes.

joho 8:21 AM  

WOOT was totally new to me and I love it! WOOT! WOOT!!

I'm with @Rex on the most interesting section of the puzzle where a BEVY of SVELTE, SEXUAL beauties REVEL in KEYWEST.

I'm not with @Rex on the panning of this WORD LOOP theme.

Well done, Todd!

loren muse smith 8:25 AM  

O GEE. I thought I had noticed something really cool – that the only O's were on the perimeter.

WORD ladders always catch my attention and have me study them for a while. I liked the LOOP twist with this one. Have you ever tried to do one? They're pretty hard. I really kicked some around after that baseball BONDS AARON one that caused such an uproar.

What really caught my attention on this, though, is the fact that the themers are all on the edge. I've almost finished a grid like this and am completely, utterly, stuck in one corner. I've shown it to a couple of established constructors who said, basically, "Yeah. Grids like this are *notoriously* difficult to fill." In other words – "Just go lie down before you hurt yourself." So factor in that Todd has no other O's anywhere, and I'd say his fill was up against some tough constraints. I'm happy to have solved this and happy to have been shown the self-referential WORD LOOP.

I'm with @Garth and @r.alphbunker –if the theme pleases me, then I'll forgive all the EBROs, AWEEs, OGEEs. To see the WORD progression around the edge was worth the price of admission. Andrea has called some less-than-desirable fill "glue" to hold together a theme idea. Well, heck. Elmer's disappears after it dries. When I look back at my finished product here, I just see the theme. It is jarring, though, when people list the drek.

ADRIP - a-drippin' -many, many people here still have this device in their everyday speech:

Yesterday we were a-huntin'.
Mom was a-cookin' when the alarm went off.


Fascinating. I guess because of this, I'm more forgiving of that A prefix in ADRIP, "aglare," aslope. . ." I also hear of a morning instead of in the morning in things like

When we were little, of a morning, Mom would fry eggs.

I was being too much of a smarty pants at first, wanting "noun" and then "root" for WOOD. And you have your CORD of CEDAR WOOD for some right fragrant fires.

I guess the print version of NEWSWEEK met its DEMISE, huh? I loved that magazine. We get The Week now, which I enjoy.

"Tens" before BEVY.

Andrea – I'll add TEES/TEEM to your WORD LOOP mirrors.

Fine Tuesday workout, Todd. Thanks!

jburgs 8:31 AM  

I thought the puzzle was OK, but then again, I use a bread machine.

Z 8:33 AM  

I'm in the "liked it more than Rex" camp. The fill is a bit of a red-headed step-child, but I flew through it. Thinking of new solvers, here's my list of words that would have given me fits when I started doing xwords: IMARET, RUPIAH, OGEE, ORNE, ALTA, OBER, A WEE, ISAK. With two sets of this list crossing (RUPIAH/OBER & ALTA/ISAK) I would have had two pure guesses to finish.

@DanP and @ r.alphbunker - nice opening lines.

I see avatars.

Andrew Morrison 8:35 AM  

Average for me. At first I thought Rex was being unnecessarily harsh, but his long list of crud fill was pretty conclusive. I do like the theme execution though.

I do think foreign currencies are legitimate puzzle fillers.

AliasZ 8:38 AM  

The rupee is the common name for the currencies of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, Indonesia (as the RUPIAH), and formerly those of Burma and Afghanistan. Historically, the first currency called "rupiya" was introduced in the 16th century by Sher Shah Suri, founder of the Sur Empire of Northern India. The term is from rūpya, a Sanskrit term for silver coin, from Sanskrit rūpá, beautiful form. -Wikipedia

Strictly speaking OBER- means "upper." The German word for "high" is hoch and its variants hoh-, hohe-, as in Hochschule and Hohenzollern. However OBER takes on the "high, head, top" meaning in words like OBERland "highlands," OBERkommando "high command," OBERkellner or "headwaiter," etc.

@Ellen S, I loved your Mao analysis in reference to LETA, especially your "...they did not live to regret it." In fact, it is accepted that Mao made those speeches on purpose in order to flush out dissenters, much like a pack of dogs during fox hunt, and with the same purpose. Mao, LENIN and TITO make a gruesome trio today. TITO mellowed somewhat with age, while LENIN's early death paved the way for the even more gruesome Stalin era.

I liked today's puzzle despite a few sub-par entries. Perhaps a more playfully slangy cluing, like "He's such ____!" for both ADRIP and ATRIP would have made them fun rather than a drip.

dk 8:49 AM  

Any puzzle with DAVIS in the center is ok by me.

I have come to appreciated Tuesday as the hardest puzzle to create. It cannot be that easy (Monday's job) or begin to be hard (Wednesday's job). Like baby bear's bed it has to be just right.

But for whom does the puzzle toil?

If you read Soul of the New Machine (Kidder) you will note a purpose for D&D. Testing processors. The D&D I played was a simple green screen with short dotted segments (just clearing the 2D bar). Little messages told you when you were teleported into solid rock --- the anti WOOT. That said it could bring Claremont's DEC-10 to its knees.

���� (2 Stars) Fill like ADRIP and ATRIP are well…. not just right.

dk 8:50 AM  

appreciate

pmdm 8:54 AM  

Wreck: you are right on. You too, Danp. And thank you very much Thomas808 for something no one else (myself included) seems to have realized. Would have been nicer if the clue to 40A had been worded "Return to the starting point, perhaps."

First error: the loop does not proceed clockwise. It proceeds either clockwise or counterclockwise (anticlockwise to you Brits). That's a nice touch to a 10 unit word ladder.

Second error: the puzzle is not dull. Maybe the puzzle seemed dull to some of you, Maybe classical music seems dull to a lot of you. Doesn't make it so, so why doesn't everybody just express their emotional response without imperially pronouncing it as The Truth.

As for the letter Os, I don't think it's been noted that the only place Os appear in the puzzle is the perimeter. And the point of the Os is this. The word ladder goes around in a circle. The letter O goes around in a circle. The loop resembles a letter O, so that is why O is the only vowel in the loop.

So this was a Tuesday puzzle, needing to be quite simple to solve. Yet the theme involves many things: 1) a circular word ladder; 2) all Os along the perimeter; 3) no Os inside the perimeter; and 4) a center answer relating to the word ladder loop theme. 'Nuff said.

cascokid san 8:57 AM  

Got this one. Losing streak is over. WILEy and WILiE before WILEE. IMARET and RUPIAH are new for me. OBER is clued correctly, so I wasn't tempted to use ÜBER.

Lots of familiar crosswordese, but my only nose wrinkle was ADRIP/ATRIP. And the theme was a help in solving (AGRO) and how often can you say that?

Susan McConnell 8:57 AM  

I liked the WORD LOOP, but the fill was pretty nasty. I take issue with the clueing of WOOT. I have only seen it in a repeated fashion, used as an expression of glee (WOOT WOOT!), origins notwithstanding. I have never seen it in a text message instead of "yay", which of course would be easier to text.

Mohair Sam 9:10 AM  

Kinda with Rex on this one. I'm not sure why I didn't care for this one, but I just didn't. Easy-medium here - flew through once we got the theme.

Would have hated it, but any puzzle with SVELTE can't be all bad, great word - especially just under OBESE.

WOOT wtf? And over EBRO and IMARET on a Tuesday. Easy for crossword fanatics, murder for the casual solver. Save that stuff for later in the week.

I thought OBER was uber, btw. Live and learn.

George Barany 9:36 AM  

Apologies if any of this has already been covered above (sic). Nasty little trap, probably unintentional, that @Todd Gross has set with OBER/UBER.

When I was growing up in NYC, we spoke German at home so that my brother and I wouldn't pick up our parents' Hungarian accents at home (while learning English at school). When my mother wanted to refer to someone who had chutzpah, she would call him or her "oberhochend" (might be spelled differently). Contrast to "Deutschland Uber Alles" (U has umlaut).

Perhaps someone a bit more current on the language could elaborate. Over and out.

Joe The Juggler 9:38 AM  

"NEUTRAL, by definition, is not a gear. It's the absence of a gear."

Amen! Misleading/ambiguous clues are great, but only when they're technically correct.

Laurence Katz 9:38 AM  

I'm pretty forgiving, but this puzzle was horrible. Rex was right. NE corner, e.g., is packed with Turkish hostel, Spanish river, German name and text-speak. Yeech.

chefbea 9:39 AM  

Too tough for me…on a Tuesday??? I wanted all the perimeter words to have double O's. Never heard of acid washed jeans.

Haven't tried @Questina's bread recipe yet. Am looking for a nice moist corn bread recipe to serve with chili for super bowl. Anyone???

John V 9:39 AM  

Theme was good for me. Fill was fine, given the theme constraints. NE last to fall, as WOOT was new, wanted UBER.

Z 9:45 AM  

The gears on my cars are PRNDL or PRNDB (the Prii). Yep - there's that N gear right there in the middle. Back when I drove a stick I could "put it in NEUTRAL." Yep, it's a gear. Or maybe you think "black" (or "white" depending on whether you are thinking absorption or reflection) is not a color?

quilter1 9:45 AM  

I am in complete agreement with @Rex on this one. It played easy for me and while early on I had hope, the fill faded it fast for me. Especially hated ISE.

Milford 9:53 AM  

Not a difficult puzzle, got the theme very early on. I don't mind the WORD LOOP as a theme - I'm certain it was a very difficult grid to construct/fill, especially considering the "O" thing (that I didn't notice on my own), and the fact that the LOOP had to accommodate WORD and LOOP in the opposite corners, which also limited the fill.

What threw me with the theme, though, was thinking that a true word ladder changes every letter of the original word (this one kept the same "O" throughout), and that each step should change a different letter than the one previously changed (not the case with LOOK, KOOK, COOK). I realize these are nits, but they did come to mind while I solved it.

Loved SVELTE, and KEY WEST. We are going to the Keys in 3 weeks - WOOT!

OBER and EBRO was a very real natick for me, but from somewhere in my brain I remembered once visiting OBERammergau in Germany, remembered it was in the mountains, so I figured that maybe it meant over-something? It turned out to be a good guess!

I also am remembering my high school Latin magistra telling us that many 4-letter words in English are rooted in German - e.g. "good", and apparently "over" and "high", too (thanks, @Alias Z).

Lewis 9:57 AM  

@anon 12:09 -- I like word loop much better than word wrap. Loop implies that the words go round (and round) and are connected; "wrap" is too general. ANY crossword puzzle border words form a word wrap.

I did like the theme and it helped my solve, but I'm thinking the o angle was irresistible to the constructor, but that is what caused the dozen or so examples of grid gruel, which is more than I want in a puzzle. Not worth it.

Yes, Rex, we recognize that there is a preponderance of junk words -- that is a mostly objective observation. But whether we like the puzzle or not despite that -- that is mostly subjective, and this blog shows that quite a few still liked the puzzle despite the dreck because they thought the theme made it worth it.

RnRGhost57 10:16 AM  

A WOOT for a Tuesday
But I knew Rex would DERIDE
With a BEVY of ACID comments

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I was one of those readers who thought you "harsh" until I had an epiphany last night. I started doing the NYT puzzle and reading your blog about 6 months ago just for fun. The puzzle in our local paper was a little too easy. You, however, look at the puzzle from all different angles, the way I would critique a novel. Sometimes I enjoy a book because of the writing style, but still might think the characters were not fleshed out enough. On the other hand, I might think a plot is fascinating, though poorly written. I often find myself criticizing a book that everyone else loves. The point is that I will continue being grateful when I finish the puzzle in a reasonable amount of time and appreciate that I learn a fact or two along the way. I will leave the construction analysis to the experts without cringing, and understand why people cringe when I overly dissect a book they enjoyed.

KRMunson 10:26 AM  

@r.alphbunker - kudos to my new EBRO!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:38 AM  

Hand up for WILEY before WILEE.

I will claim partial credit for having noticed that the second letter of every perimeter word is an "O". But as usual, the finer points that there are no "O"s except on the perimeter and that "O" is the only vowel on the perimeter escaped me.

Steve J 10:41 AM  

Re: Avatars. They appear to be back. They had disappeared from the main page of the blog for a couple days, at least in Chrome.

Re: WOOT. I'm guessing that one's pretty generational. It originated largely with my Generation X, so for my contemporaries and younger, it's well-known (both on its own and doubled). If this sample set here is representative, it hasn't moved upwards much.

@Z: After you put your car in neutral, what did you do to get it moving? You put it back in gear. If you're putting it into gear, then it must have been out of gear. (Plus, that's what's actually happening within the transmission; whether on an automatic or a manual, neutral disconnects the transmission's gears from the engine.)

@pmdm: The O thing had been mentioned many times before your post, including in the first paragraph of Rex's writeup.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

I'm in the "liked it" camp.
True it was adrip with some questionable fill but I thought the result was worth it. Another case of feeling sorry for poor Tuesday, the toughest day to please.
Woot was a complete mystery.

In English slang when someone is getting angry on the verge of punching someone they are getting agro.

@EllenS, Breads can be very tricky. It's a short hop from being a loaf or a door stop.

Numinous 11:25 AM  

This morning, I wanted to dress UPAS WILE E. Coyote. Somehow I always thought it was Wyle but then my CyDER would have been more like CARWAX. My college age kids text WOOT to me all the time. I thought it came from woo, short for woohoo, which I've seen in chat rooms often. Thanks @jae for the etymology.

I solve in a sort of zig-zag fashion and often miss a lot of words if everything seems to be working. Even thought I liked this one, I didn't think it was worth studying closely. Oh well . . . .

call me ..... 11:26 AM  

j o y l e s s

r.alphbunker 11:36 AM  

Anonymous@10:15
Nice comment. I agree that we are a microcosm here that often reflects the microcosm.

Why not assume an identity when you post? Instead of selecting the anonymous button, select the Name/URL button and enter some name, e.g. "Book critic." This will not reveal your true identity but people on this blog who like the way you think will be able to locate your posts easily.

While I am on this topic:

Q. How many anonymice does it take to change a lightbulb.

A. That depends, if they are Polish, ___; if they are programmers, ___; if they are psychiatrists, ___, etc, etc.

This is arguably the world's longest lightbulb joke.

Questinia 11:43 AM  

An illustration with a moral:

A cook I knew from Harlem shared her recipe for (@chefbea) cornbread. Her name was Veronica. Her cornbread is legendary.

3 Jiffy Corn mix boxes
1 pint sour cream
1 regular size (not the real small or real large) Country Crock spread
6 eggs
2 cans corn, water and all

Dump it all in a big bowl. It really doesn't matter what sequence. Mix it. Pour it into a 9x13 Pyrex and bake at 400 until done (about an hour). It will be slightly golden on top.

It is somewhere between a pudding and a bread. but it retains its shape and cuts fine. Great with chili. No need for rice.

Moral of the recipe:
Sometimes the best things have "ugly" fill.

chefbea 11:58 AM  

@Questina..thanks. will try it today to see if I like it. I assume I can freeze it

And Of course everyone is invited to our super bowl party!!!

OISK 12:00 PM  

Since I always woot for the underdogs, I had a bad Sunday. But not a bad Tuesday, despite the woot. Has anyone actually pronounced "woot"? Does it rhyme with foot, or with loot? I liked this puzzle, and yesterday's neither of which pleased Rex, and disliked Saturday's, which pleased him. I wonder what a David Steinberg Tuesday would be like?

Notsofast 12:09 PM  

It's just a crossword puzzle for God's sake! I liked it! Call me names! Crappy fill? Okay! So what? It's Tuesday. It's done, it was fun, and nobody got hurt! WOOOOOOOT!

Z 12:09 PM  

@Questina - great moral. Jiffy is from my neighborhood (Chelsea, MI) but isn't carried much in my local Kroger.

@Steve J - Black is technically absent any color. Is it a color? Zero is the absence of anything countable. Is it a number? NEUTRAL is having all the gears disengaged. Is it a gear? Yes. Yes. And yes.

Three and out.

pmdm 12:23 PM  

Steve J: You are correct. Today's snowstorm arrived earlier than forecast and I rushed through the commentary much too fast, resulting in my error. By the way, I enjoyed your thoughtful post. Very well said.

Questinia: thank you for the recipe. I will try it. I know this is a crossowrd blog, not a food blog, but the Times not only has nice crossword puzzles but also nice food recipes. Cornbread lovers might want to google "ny times cornbread recipe" which points the way to a number of different recipes as well as one for cornbread stuffing.

Dick Swart 12:36 PM  

While Rex usually leaves me cold with his carping, I have to agree on today!

Thin, indeed, and not in the stylish sense of todays' svelte!

Davis 12:40 PM  

Put my name in the not-a-fan column for this puzzle. The theme was neat, I agree. However, solving this puzzle meant spending most of my time on the gunky fill, not on the theme answers.

There was just way too much ugliness for a Tuesday here. The OBER crossing EBRO and IMARET was terrible. ADRIP is one of those A-[blank] words that seem to only really exist in crossword. Aside from the SW area that's been discussed, good entries are simply way too thin on the ground here--even the theme answers are boring as answers.

MikeM 12:41 PM  

I thought it was easy. Once you get the word loop thing, you just go around the perimeter and it almost fills itself. I was surprised TKTS didnt throw non-NYers off. My wife and I are big TKTS users. They have a new rule at the booth, btw. If you buy a ticket on Friday night and comeback with your stub on Saturday you do not have to wait in that big long line, you can go straight to the front.

Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:45 PM  

thUmbsUp for the clever idea, and especially for learnin all about WOOT. U-count, however, was nothin to woot home about.

Weejects AnonymoUs: There's only 5 3-letter words in this whole dern rodeo. Fave would be the always suitably desperate for any occasion ISE. Nicely paired here with an equally desperate clue -- ending with advert. My heart soars. woot.

Tip for Constructioneers: M&A woulda built this grid a bit different. Let us digress carefully down the Taoist path to nirvana (Too much like @Q? Thought so.)
1. Change CORD to WORK.
2. Hike WORK up one position.
3. Shift WORD left one position.
4. Drop HOOP down one position.
5. Shift LOOP right one position. Now the words all loop proper-like, at the corners.
6. Add cheater squares to perimeter, to fill holes left by all that hikin and droppin and shiftin and wootin.
7. If editor rejects READED, ERIDE, OILEE, etc.: Come up with better new fillins.
8. When U can't come up with better fillins, use autofill. Set maximize U's lever all the way over to the "woot" setting.
9. When autofill starts to belch out purplish smoke fumes, take a break. Have a cinnamin roll.

M&A

LaneB 12:53 PM  

I didn't know what a WORD LOOP was [if there is such a thing] but managed to finish pretty quickly [for me] w/o any Google assists. Nice to see it rated 'medium-challenging'. Some uncommon words like EBRO and IMARET together and ORNE and OGEE stacked slowed things down a little, but despite the occasional clunkiness, I enjoyed doing and completing it.

Numinous 12:56 PM  

@Questinia, my wife makes something similar that she calls corn pudding or cornbread casserole. It's delicious. Recipes for it, I'm told, can be found googling either name.

mac 12:56 PM  

My first reaction after finishing was that it was a pretty little puzzle, but I missed beautiful long words. Still, steep, revel, woot (thanks for the explanation), rupiah are not too common. I say thank you to crosswordese, it speeds me up.

Tree for wood, uber for over, and Wiley slowed me down.

Ise was bad, really bad.

mac 12:58 PM  

@Questinia: Amen to your last sentence.

r.alphbunker 1:08 PM  

@Questina
I loved the moral to your recipe. I googled "Do recipes have morals" and got back a recipe for mushrooms (morels) and some vegetarian recipes (not moral to kill an animal). Neither of these are the type of moral that your recipe has. You may have discovered a new art form!

If this were a food blog run and our host was a computer scientist rather than an English professor, your reciple might be criticized as follows.
Your recipe is particularly vague. Why on earth do you post such things? It should be rewritten as follows to make it more precise.

The contents of 3 Jiffy Corn mix boxes
1 pint sour cream
1 regular size (not the real small or real large) Country Crock spread (how many ounces?, "real small" and "real large" is too imprecise
6 eggs (what kind of bird? Should shells be removed?)
The contents of 2 cans of corn, water and all.

Dump it all in a big bowl. To do this, write the lines of the recipe on index cards and shuffle them 10 times. Add the ingredients to the bowl in the order of the shuffled deck.. Mix it for 1 minute. Pour it into a 9 inchx13 inch Pyrex baking dish and execute the following steps:

label0:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
Place Pyrex baking dish in oven.
Wait 50 minutes.
label1:
if color of top is #EDE275 go to label 3
otherwise if total elapsed time is less than 85 minutes wait 1 minute and go to label 1.
otherwise turn oven on and go to label 0.
label2 Eat!

M and Also 1:14 PM  

p.s. @4-Oh! Dude! Nice shout out to the 2012 Best Flick of the Year, "Looper". Primo primo primo schlock.

thUmbs Upas!

Bob Kerfuffle 1:15 PM  

Three-letter common fill doesn't get much love, but I really thought 36 D, "Ending with advert", for ISE was very clever. "Advert", the British shortening of "advertisement" clues us in to a Briticism, which calls for the ISE instead of the American IZE. To me, it all fits together so well.

Milford 1:15 PM  

@Questina, et al. - WOOT, WOOT to Jiffy cornbread mix! I use it often. I'm sure it's considered "ugly fill" by many, but it works for us (plus it has the secret ingredient, lard). As @Z said, it's local for us (our Kroger carries it, on a bottom shelf).

With any cornbread, I preheat my cast iron skillet in the 400* oven with a little corn oil in it, pour in the batter (it will sizzle and make a nice crust) and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, then bake.

Your recipe offered sounds downright decadent, though.

Bird 1:19 PM  

Didn’t know WORD LOOP was a thing, but that’s the only thing that bothered me. Well there is ADRIP, which happens to cross ATRIP to make that one helluva corner.

Rewrites at 13A (LATTE) and 71A (PEEK – didn’t learn theme yet). If not for the theme I would have finished with UBER at 10D.

All these O's in the grid and no OHIO, OREO, OLEO, OLIO?

Miss Dashwood 1:42 PM  

I just got back from a trip and am so jet lagged I it took me a fairly long time for a Tuesday! Otherwise, found it cute and tidy. My resident car nut husband says neutral is a gear, it just isn't a forward or reverse gear. Hand up for WILEy and hoch instead of OBER.

Last Silver Woot 2:01 PM  

p.p.s.s.
Tip for Constructioneers, Addendumb:
For those puzmakers wishin to achieve total Zen-a-tude on yer revised word loop grid, tiptoe down a slightly different Taoist path at step 6 . . .

6a. Do not condescend to use cheater squares. Instead, shrink grid to a 14 x 14 size, thus achieving a word loop purity hither to unknown in the annals of loopy purists. Feel free to gasp "ahar" in bewonderment.

6b. Okay, so now that NYT solvin crowd is gonna yelp, cuz U short-changed em about 29 odd puz squares for their money. Zen U need to do one of zese 2 things:

6b-i. Add a cheery little bonus blurb at the bottom of the puz page. Somethin like:
Use Sexual Carwax,
Don't be adrip.
Keep yer ise on the road
When yer on atrip.
Burma Shave.
No refunds.

6b-ii. Add an extra easy little 5 x 5 crossword puz at the bottom of the page, entitled "Kiddie Pool". This would be especially nice, late in the week, for the beginner crowd.

QED.

M&A

Questinia 2:24 PM  

@ r.alphbunker: May I please, as a possible member of the gridderati, take terseness license?

@pmdm, numinous, milford et al.: How many of us haven't cut or sharpened our culinary teeth at the feet of someone like Craig Claiborne in the NYT's Sunday Magazine section? After all, new recipes always beckoned right next to the puzzle.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Best comment so far

sanfranman59 4:36 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 9:02, 8:15, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 6:06, 5:12, 1.17, 88%, Challenging

Ellen S 7:00 PM  

@questinia - You can be as terse as you like, just don't try to follow @R.alph's program LOOP! Unless I'm mistaken, there is no Label 3, but worse than that, there is no branch to Label 2, which is where you get to eat the cornbread which is by then burned (burnt) to a crisp anyway unless you forgot to turn on the oven.

@Numinous - thanks for the tips. I'll Incorporate them in my next attempt. But others: if you just do what @Questinia's recipe says, just like it says, it is easy and provides a perfectly serviceable bread that I like fine, and @Acme and @Gill I.P. both say they also liked. Maybe not the best bread ever (I like Foccacia, myself, all greasy and tomato-y, and Wile E. Coyote), but not a doorstop!

r.alphbunker 8:07 PM  

@Ellen
You are good at finding bugs in my programs :-)

Steve J 8:53 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: That would be a nice telegraph using "advert". However, advertise and its variants is one of the rare words where -ise is used instead of -ize in American English. I have no idea why it is an exception.

@Ellen S: One thing to keep in mind when using whole wheat flour: It soaks up more moisture, so you have to increase the water you use to make the dough. Try about 10-15% more water than you'd use for white flour. That'll help keep the bread moist, since it's easy to end up with dry whole-wheat bread.

chefwen 9:07 PM  

@chefbea - I would throw a little chopped jalapeno or Serrano chile pepper in for a little "kick".

Edac2day 9:20 PM  

Sex Wax has been around since 1972. http://www.sexwax.com/

Edac2day 9:23 PM  

Sex Wax has been around since 1972.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:04 PM  

@Steve J - Thank you for correcting my comment regarding ISE. It is a pure case of What Was I Thinking? I even see in my trusty Merriam Webster's that in fact "advertize" is the British spelling! I can only apologise to anyone who may have been misled by my remarks!

Steve J 3:19 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Hmm, from what I recall from reading British publications, and from the British dictionaries I'm finding online, the Brits seem to also use -ise for "advertise" (which would make sense, given that "advertisement" is typically pronounced "ad-vurt-is-ment" in British English).

In looking that up, I found a few examples citing the explanation that American English preserved the -ise ending for words that were derived directly from French (another example where US English uses -ise, and where it originated directly from French: improvise), while it uses -ize for words where the suffix didn't descend directly from a French root but is used to turn a noun or adjective into a verb (e.g. economize or fossilize).

MaharajaMack 3:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MaharajaMack 3:38 PM  

Lotso bullshirt here. IMARET, ORME cross was a NATICK. TKTS? Please. ATRIP crossing ADRIP? + marks the spot for crap fill! UPAS crossing ISAK? OGEE? AWEE? Each alone? Acceptable (maybe). All in one puzzle? Inexcusable.

My personal rule is no more than one word that you - the constructor - has never heard of in any given puzzle. Zero is preferable. That's what annoys me so much about David Steinberg puzzles. "C'mon, you didn't know that word existed until CC told you about it! Why the hell should I DNF it on something you yourself didn't know?!?" Maybe he did know that word, but given his age I refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Whew! I feel better now.

Ginger 1:11 PM  

The higher the theme density, the more grid gruel (unless it's PB) seems to be required, and I tend to overlook a lot of less than stellar fill. But, there is a line when the clunkiness overpowers the theme. Today, IMO, that line was crossed. I appreciate and enjoy the word ladder, but the resulting grid constraints was too high a price to pay.

Too late for the Super Bowl party, but for the best corn bread, just add a little honey to the butter. Yummmm

Full House 999's over 88's

spacecraft 1:20 PM  

@M&A: Love your Burma-Shave signs!

Well, as someone Whom I never heard before (must be yet another regional thing), WOOT! Despite that expression, and ORNE and RUPIAH (RU kidding me?), WEMADEIT! Color it easy-medium.

I'm not nearly as put off by the fill as OFL; in fact, while he decries WILE E, I love it. Poor guy doesn't get enough press. While not exactly SVELTE, the fill is serviceable. After all, with only two 8- and two 7-letter entries in the whole grid and everything else shorter, it's tough to be scintillating.

I want me a can of that SEXUAL CARWAX. Hey, let's mix up a batch and take it to the Shark Tank. They'll love the idea!

Dirigonzo 2:20 PM  

One wonders how much time some commenters spend reading, writing, deleting, re-writing,researching,responding, rebutting, explaining, criticizing, apologizing, critiquing, correcting and considering the comments section over the course of a day? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I like "o"s, so I had fun doing the puzzle (although I failed to notice their absence in the rest of the grid.

One pair ain't gonna win anything at this table.

Waxy in Montreal 4:28 PM  

Count me in with those who actually enjoyed solving this puzzle. However, don't believe I would have finished without theme help up in the NE corner as WOOT, OBER & IMARET aren't close to being in my wheelhouse.

No numbers today but captcha is "touching". Really!

DMG 5:39 PM  

My WILEy had to get a new tail and RUPIAH was a solveable unknown, but the nonsense word WOOT Was my real stopper. Derived it from from the adjacent "loop words" and hoped it was right. I thought text message "things", like IMHO stood for something, but I sure couldnt parse this one. Maybe there is something to be said for the Happy Pencil, my paper just sits there saying, "Ya think so?" At any rate finished with a tentative smile.

@MaharajaMack rather forcefully explained why I don't bother with DS puzzles. Google-hunting obscure clues is not my favorite sport.

Solving in Seattle 5:44 PM  

@Diri, today I am one of those who came straight to Syndyland and skipped the real timers. Not enough time today to read and comment on 97 posts.

Puz was just fine, and maybe a little KOOKie, but like SEXUAL/LOOK. Have skied ALTA almost every year since college. Best powder in the world.

@Waxy, IMARET has shown up in the NYTCWpuz ~3 times in the past year.

@Ginger, gotcha with four fives.

Texas Syndy Sover 5:52 PM  

I guess I'm the only person that is complaining about a Turkish word crossing an Iberian river crossing a German word??? Is it a lack of education on my part or is everyone else uber smart? I got all the ENGLISH words. But two letters kept me from finishing.

strayling 7:20 PM  

I loved this one. Playful rhymes all over the place, a much welcome ISE for my English sensibilities and - best of all - a cute play on TEA caddies vs. TEE caddies.

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