Thin Russian pancake / TUE 1-14-14 / Inscribed stone slab / Car with stylized caliper in its logo / Jimmy who wrote Galveston MacArthur Park

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: [Nonsense] — that's the clue for all the theme answers:

  • JIVE
  • JAZZ
  • HOKUM
  • PRATTLE
  • TWADDLE
  • HOTAIR
  • BILGE
  • BALONEY
  • ROT
  • TRIPE
  • BUSHWA
  • BLATHER
  • HOGWASH
  • HOOEY
  • TOSH
  • BUNK

Word of the Day: Jimmy WEBB (62D: Jimmy who wrote "Galveston" and "MacArthur Park") —
James Layne "Jimmy" Webb (born August 15, 1946) is an American songwriter, composer, and singer. He has written numerous platinum-selling classics, including "Up, Up and Away", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "The Worst That Could Happen", "All I Know", and "MacArthur Park". His songs have been performed by many popular contemporary artists, including The 5th DimensionGlen CampbellThe SupremesRichard HarrisJohnny MaestroFrank SinatraThelma HoustonThe TemptationsBarbra StreisandArt GarfunkelJoe CockerJudy CollinsDonna SummerLinda RonstadtAmericaAmy GrantJohn DenverMichael FeinsteinRosemary ClooneyR.E.M., and Carly Simon.
According to BMI, his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" was the third most performed song in the fifty years between 1940 and 1990. Webb is the only artist ever to have received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration. (wikipedia)
• • •

No thanks. I'll admit that a list of these [Nonsense] words is fun to say, when you line them all up in a row, and yes, there sure are a lot of them in this grid. But this grid needed serious DERATting. That ANIGH PAPAW STELA section is dire, and I don't even understand the clue on the unfortunate ROWB. I'm pretty sure ROW B *is* prime-seating. What, is only one row "prime"? ROW A? Baffling. A huge lot of words ≠ theme. Not if it's gonna result in gunky fill all over the place. Please compare the fill in yesterday's puzzle to the fill in today's puzzle for a nice night/day contrast. OH SAY OCEDAR ODILE, oh no. What's the good of putting a whole herd of theme answers in your puzzle if they're just going to trample on your fill? I''m sure the avalanche of quaintness will be enough for some. Perhaps it will provide, let's say, a chuckle. A guffaw. A slapping of knees. I don't know. I just know this theme is not to my taste, especially given all the IBAR-UBER JIVE.


Til next time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

121 comments:

AliasZ 12:10 AM  

What a bunch of gibberish! However, the 16 "nonsense" synonyms don't even begin to scratch the surface. There are a few other entries, the sound of which could also qualify them as themers. All you have to do is say "What a" or "what a bunch of" or "what a pile of" before them. Try it with PAPAW, AGNEW, ANIGH, BLAH, BLIN, HONK, GROK, KURD, SHIN, TESH, AUG and TSO on, to see what I mean. Like this: "What a pile of PAPAW!" or "What a bunch of TESH!" or "What a GROK of SHIN!"

Loved this malarkey-laden puzzle, even though it took me way longer than the average Tuesday. Never heard of OCEDAR, and the HADAT/DERAT (DERAT?) as well as the AHYES/ATYA crossings were less than pretty. AOK is missing the "I" at the end, and if you have ADOUT about JAILOR, it is not the most STELA entry. But that's what you get for such insanely ÜBER-packed theme density.

My favorite balderdash today was HOGWASH. To me no other word describes sheer claptrap as HOGWASH. Short, to the point, descriptive and ACURA. BUSHWA comes in a close second. If you disagree, I say, "Poppycock!"

jae 12:12 AM  
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jae 12:13 AM  

This was about average for me for a Tues. also,  but, looking back over it, it seems like it might be on the tough side...ODILE, NATE, O'CEDAR, WEBB...

I had STELe before STELA ( both appear to be correct) and ieDS before WMDS.  

WOE: O'CEDAR and BLIN sort of...not enough room for BLINi.

I liked it more than Rex did, but he's kinda right...I mean DERAT?

Steve J 12:20 AM  
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wreck 12:21 AM  

While it wasn't really "tough", it took me about double a normal Tuesday time. It was mostly a load of HOOEY.

Steve J 12:26 AM  
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Steve J 12:28 AM  

I call bullshit. (Not on the puzzle - although it has many problems - but to give a shout-out to the one synonym for nonsense that most everyone likely thought of but, of course, could not have showed up in the NYT.)

Yes, it's interesting that there are so many words for nonsense. And it was kind of fun discovering them for a bit. But there's too much theme density here, primarily because it has a really bad effect on the fill (and also because it became a bit of beating a dead horse). DERAT, STELA, PAWPAW and BUSHWA should not all show up on a Tuesday (ANIGH shouldn't show up any day of the week). The STELA/BUSHWA crossing is especially nasty on a Tuesday; neither is easily inferable from the crosses. BUSHWA was doubly problematic, as PAWPAW isn't exactly on the tip of everyone's tongue, either. (Then there's the fact that BUSHWA is easily the most obscure of the theme entries. I expected it to be WotD. I've never heard it - which doesn't mean much - but it does take 3-4 pages of results on Google before any actual use of the word shows up.)

Several of the theme words were definitely quite fun. But not enough to balance out the sacrifices needed to cram 16 entries into the grid. You still could have had a very theme-dense - and fun - puzzle by cutting the theme in half and spiffing up the fill.

(Sorry for the reposts. I don't know why I can't spot bad typos until the post posts, even when I re-read it before submitting.)

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

So we go from best Monday of the last year....to one of the worst Tuesdays ever.

No thank you.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

Amen. What a load of HOOEY. What the hell is a GROK, anyway???

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

This theme is so dense, it could have easily been made into a Sunday puzzle.

Don't ask me why it wasn't.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

P.S. Here are 43 different entries that all mean "nonsense":

APPLESAUCE
BALDERDASH
BALLS
BALONEY
BILGE
BLATHER
BOLLOCKS
BOSH
BULL
BULLSHIT
BUNCOMBE
BUNK
BUNK
BUNKUM
COBBLERS
DOUBLEDUTCH
DRIVEL
EYEWASH
FIDDLEFADDLE
GARBAGE
GIBBERISH
GOBBLEDYGOOK
GUFF
HOGWASH
HORSEFEATHERS
HOTAIR
JABBERWOCKY
MALARKEY
MOONSHINE
MUMBOJUMBO
PANTS
PAP
PIFFLE
POPPYCOCK
RHUBARB
ROT
RUBBISH
TOMFOOLERY
TOMMYROT
TOSH
TRASH
TWADDLE
WAFFLE

Garth 12:44 AM  

As @Steve J. suggested, I had a dnf because of the bushwa/papaw/stela crossing. A dnf on a Tuesday is deflating.* I had never heard the word "bushwa." I may have seen papaw and stela somewhere in the last 54 years, but those neurons didn't fire.

It was a fun idea for a puzzle but thorny.

*OK, I'm over it.

wreck 12:48 AM  

forgot CRAPOLA

Pete 12:58 AM  

"It was a fun idea for a puzzle" - Maybe, but it wasn't an idea for a fun puzzle. In fact, by its nature, it pretty much rules out fun. You get told the same thing 16 times - find a synonym for nonsense. Hell, even sex isn't fun 16 times in a row, at least not 16 times in 5 minutes (It's the frequency, not the duration that boggles my mind. 19.2 seconds rings true to me).

retired_chemist 1:18 AM  

BUSHWA is the second entry on teh Google search Urban Dictionary BUSHWA. I have heard it before. Perhaps it is regional, and (if you consider the 1930s along time ago) archaic.

I thought the theme was fun. Didn't find the fill offensive. So, thumbs up.

Put TOSH immediately for 1A and then saw how many times "nonsense" was the clue. Decided TOSH might be wrong at 1A (true that) but might reappear and, sure enough, it did (74A). lOge first before ROW B. DERAT is, well, butt-ugly.

Thanks, Mr, Croce.

chefwen 1:25 AM  

I may be in the minority, but I loved it. Who would have thought that there would be so many ways to say nonsense? I loved discovering them all. Favorite was 57A BLATHER, my creepy brother used to call me a Blathering idiot, I would tell dad, dad would say "just ignore him". I never could, still can't.

Does anyone else have the "O CEDAR MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER earworm? I'm hoping it will be gone by tomorrow.

Man, I sure love the numbers.

Acura oCedar Mars 1:27 AM  

fun, tough, interesting.
RHONE bleedover, an unusual one!

86 theme spaces, that's amazing. Once again, to have crossed so many of the entries in a subtle way belies the cleverness of the construction.

BUSHWA/STELA not stella' (Stellllllllla!) but so what?
Had JUMP and JIVE and JAZZ...

and LETO now deserves an updated Golden -Globe- winning-best- Supporting- actor- in- the- movie- drama- "Dallas Buyers Club" clue.

DERAT looks like it's here to stay, but I would agree to de-rat the puzzle of DERAT.

Anyway, AOK by me!

OCEDAR makes your life easier...OCEDAR makes your life easier...

JFC 2:03 AM  

Rex, the only thing dire is you today/tonight. The puzzle rocks....

JFC

desi 2:05 AM  

The only word I had trouble with here was NSEC which just rang false to me.

Evan 2:06 AM  

This wasn't my favorite puzzle either, not simply because of the fill, but because the 16 synonyms don't allow for colorful clues. I know that's the point of the puzzle, that all theme answers mean the same thing, but after a while it got a little old trying to figure out which synonym went where, which I pretty much had to do by brute force -- by getting most or all of the crossing answers.

One thing I learned: I didn't know JAZZ could be a synonym for "nonsense." Not sure where it comes from either -- perhaps scat, where you sing nonsense syllables? Maybe it's like the phrase "and all that jazz," as the Free Dictionary suggests.

And back to the fill for a moment: I decided to try my hand at the whole east side of the grid, leaving all themers in place except for BUNK, where, per @Steve J., I replaced it with BULL. I don't like the abbreviation UTIL., but I did get rid of DE-RAT, ANIGH, PAPAW, and STELA.

John Child 2:44 AM  

Naticks for me: ADOUT / ODILE and PAPAW / BUSHWA. Didn't GROK OCEDAR or STELA without an E at the end. Maybe DE RAT ate it along with the other W in papaw.

Bad Hair Day 3:12 AM  

Ugh. Bushwa?

Gopman 3:16 AM  

DNF. DNL.

MetaRex 4:03 AM  

Nice improvement by @Evan of the E and NE...from DERAT/OCEDAR to MEDIC/ONE DAY in the NE is a dramatic improvement, and AMISH/LEPEW/ELENA is also a big step up from ANIGH/PAPAW/STELA...MEL ROSEN is a nice blast from the past.

loren muse smith 5:19 AM  
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Thomas808 5:21 AM  

I know pawpaw -- did not know it could be PAPAW. I know stele -- did not know it could be STELA. Never heard of BUSHWA. Went through every letter at the end of papa_, being pretty sure about stele. Quintuple checked everything else. After spending 41 minutes on a Tues, gave up and checked Rex. DNF. Grr.

loren muse smith 5:30 AM  
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Danp 5:39 AM  

Instead of repeating the clue 16 times (annoying!!), a revealer would have been nice, perhaps "junk box", which is what this puzzle ended up being. But cluing the theme answers with asterisks and alternate meanings would have made a nice Tuesday puzzle. Of course, you'd have to eliminate the truly nonsensical answers like Hooey and Bushwa.

loren muse smith 5:40 AM  

Fascinating to see all these many ways to express "bullshit!" (@Steve J – you're so right.)

I've pondered this phenomenon of a lexicon full of synonyms for certain ideas, but "nonsense" has thus far escaped my radar screen. Most of the other lists I've mentally kicked around couldn't pass the breakfast test.

@AliasZ, @chefwen, @Acme - beat me to that– "OCEDAR makes your life easier. . . " Let me share this earworm with everyone who has forgotten the commercial. . .

O CEDAR

BUSHWA was a WOE for me, too, so I dnf at that PAPAW/BUSHWA cross. Oh well. Crap. I blinked at BLIN, too. Is that a variant?

I really wanted "atcha" rather than ATYA.

Lotsa lone letters:
A OK – "Son, if you get higher than a B, it's fine by me."
ROW B – "Sitting behind the guy sporting A FRO"
O CEDAR - "C'mon, you silly fir. Be serious now."
G LASS - Heidi
V ERA – "AGE when Valium began replacing Prozac"
B ROACH – "Vermin seated in near-prime seating nest to guy with A FRO"

Hey, Jeff – I kinda liked DERAT. Hmmm. Up for a sequel? PIE, BEER, CUED, MUSKLOVE?. . . Nah.

STELA – Ok, so we were playing this game over Thanksgiving where you draw a slip of paper out of a bowl full of clues the other team has written down, and you give verbal clues, act out – anything – to get your team to say what's on the paper. Mom drew one, and immediately fisted her hands, bounced them upwards in a stairstep-type motion, and yelled, "Stella! Stella!" Don't ask me how, but I got it. "Sylvester Stallone." Uh. It was "Adrian, Mom." "Stella" was HATTIE McDaniels' charge back in 1939.

I truly wish I could describe Dad's turn when he drew the word "osprey." He kept treating it as charades only, so he stuck to alarming, mystifying, and increasingly angry gestures. Mom and I almost wet our pants.

And speaking of Mom, and mothers the world over most likely - @AliasZ – point well taken on using any old word, say it just the right way, and it can mean BS. "Oh, come on. That's a load of SHIN you're feeding me!" I've said here before, Mom could do this to any word or phrase to create a scary, mysterious corporal punishment verb. "I'm going to 'my slinky' you both if you keep on fighting!" Sheesh. Who wanted to be myslinkied?

Tim – thanks for showing us this list. I'm going to ponder this phenomenon all day with other words. That's one sign of a good puzzle, IMO. Makes YA think.

loren muse smith 5:43 AM  

"next" I'm sick of deleting the whole thing and correcting it. Morning, @Steve J. We need a word for this. GGGGG

George Barany 5:55 AM  

This is one puzzle where to say it is a lot of nonsense is not insulting. Thanks @Tim Croce. I'm still LMAO at @Loren Muse Smith's commentaries, but need to suggest that her hilarious V ERA be amended. Valium became a popular anti-anxiety medicine circa 1963, whereas Prozac didn't enter the marketplace until 1987. I know a lot more about these substances' chemistries than about their pharmacologies.

John Child 6:54 AM  

@lms - so it's charades plus Password? Rules about what you can say? Can I say "sea hawk" to clue OSPREY?

What is the game called?

loren muse smith 7:06 AM  

@John - I'm headed out to sub high school art, so I'm out of commission for the next several hours. (Last minute call = no lesson plans. I'm going in armed with Jabberwocky and plans to have them draw their pick of one of the made-up nouns. I myself would choose Jub-jub bird." (@M&A - I'm heeding your gentle advice and just not going there anymore.))

I'll explain the rules this afternoon. It's a cheap and hysterically fun game.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Never heard of BUSHWA in my 47 years of living in thecDouth, Midwest and Southern Calif. hmm. Also, it's JAILER, not JAILOR. Still, I didn't hate the puzzle overall. Definitely a smidgen harder than the average Tues.

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

The fill was understandably forced by so dense a theme, but the only one that made me wince was DERAT. Truly ugly "word." I'm surprised many never heard BUSHWA, a euphemism for "bullshit." It sounds kind 1940s to me, but we not so long ago had eight years George W. BUSHWA.

Elle54 7:29 AM  

I liked it too! It was fun to see the answers come together. DNF on BUSHWA/PAPAW though

jberg 7:48 AM  

When I saw the first two theme entries were JIVE and JAZZ I thought we were going to be seeing alliterative rows, which would have been something to write home about. So that was disappointing, but really, it wasn't so bad. I was kind of surprised how often I could get a theme answer from a few crosses, including BUSHWA (which is something Gen. Patton would have said if he was in an old movie, though probably not in real life).

To answer various queries above:

GROK is a word from the language of the Martians in Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" -- it goes far beyond 'understand.'

BLIN is the singular, not a variant -- a word that may not be spoken aloud more than once a century.

NSEC is nanosecond, some tiny metric fraction of a second.

So we have four across rows of theme answers and then an extra slash going down the middle from l to r with HOT AIR, ROT, & BUSHWA. Is that supposed to be drawing us a picture or something? I can't figure it out.

Oh, yeah -- identical cluing for ACLU two days in a row. Surely there's another way. "Defender of Nazi right to march?"

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

I momentarily entertained the possibility of BUSHit but quickly came to my senses.

Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

Did not like.

Learned aka never-heard-of BUSHWA.
DERAT? Really?

Just not fun for me today.

Mohair Sam 8:19 AM  
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joho 8:27 AM  

@Rex, loved your line, "What's the good of putting a whole herd of theme answers in your puzzle if they're just going to trample on your fill?

Yes, this puzzle is full of BALONEY but in a good way. I enjoyed seeing all the different ways to say "nonsense." It is kind of list-y but the theme density is impressive.

Oddly the one thing that was jarring to me was the clue, "Didn't you leave out something ...?" I would say "Didn't you leave something out ...?"

I'm going see how many of these words I can use throughout the day ...

Mohair Sam 8:28 AM  

Usually a DNF early in the week leaves us wondering about ourselves. But this time we're wondering about the puzzle. BUSHWA? Crossing the optional "e" or "a" in STELA? Thought maybe the plural of PAPAW was PAPAi and went with BUSHie. Which at least sounds like a word that might be used for nonsense.

I see on Google that the dictionaries disagree as to just how old BUSHWA is, in either case it is older than me, and I have never heard the word. Wait - Google brought up another BUSHWA, so I checked old emails and found that my niece actually vacationed at the BUSHWA Game Lodge in South Africa last year. So I have heard of BUSHWA after all.

Anyhow, I'd claim a natick but @rex would inform that STELA was a 50/50 so the cross doesn't qualify.

Norm C. 8:34 AM  

Maybe the clue for 34D could have been "An eye for _____"

NCA President 8:51 AM  

Given that there are even more countless ways to say "nonsense," the ones chosen here seem random and so, to me, the theme doesn't tightly hold together. If the theme words had something in common (surely you can pick 6 or 8), I'd be more impressed.

As it is, given Tim's comments at xword, he did indeed choose his words randomly...throwing out those that didn't fit and keeping those that did. Putting JAZZ and JIVE in that position (avoiding the terminal J) seems like a copout to me.

I happen to agree with Rex on this one in that just piling in the theme answers *en masse* doesn't a good puzzle make. Hell, why stop at 16?

BTW, BUSHWA is completely alien to me. Somehow it needs a CK at the end. As for STELA and PAPAW, I guess sometimes not being a good speller is helpful...

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Don't get adout

cascokid san 9:07 AM  

ADOUT - "advantage out" called before service in tennis when a game has gone to deuce and the serve is about to be broken, maybe.

Tough puzzle, but fun. The AleRo and ACURA logos look a lot a like. phOEY and HOOEY are nearly interchangeable. BiSHWA seems as dismissive as BUSHWA.

I took an hour and missed by a country mile. Another hour would not have helped. The crosses were as malleable as the nonsense, it seems. Wow.

Elle54 9:07 AM  

Adopt = tennis score. Service-serve

Elle54 9:08 AM  

Oops auto correct

Z 9:13 AM  

Anyone who puts The Dead Kennedys and Robert Heinlein in a puzzle is going to have to work really hard to ruin it for me. If Croce/Shortz had clued TESH as "Klingon extra" it would be the best puzzle ever in my book, even if it had had ten RRNs to make it happen.

Granted, Rex is right about the fill, but I still really enjoyed this one. NATE Silver, RHONE, TOSH, Jimmy WEBB, this one was aimed right at me. As for ANIGH/PAPAW/STELA - two of the three I learned from crosswords and the third I learned today, so crunchier than your typical Thursday.

Lewis 9:16 AM  

I liked the spirit of the puzzle, and solving is usually fun for me, and this was no exception.

Has anyone here ever said BUSHWA, BLIN, or OCEDAR aloud in their lives. Or even heard them in their heads?

I've heard of blintzes and blini, but not BLIN. AGNEW next to ZEN clashes in my brain. Sincere there are so many synonyms for nonsense, I would have liked the theme answers to be more in the language. Throwing in as many silly ones as possible.

Lewis 9:18 AM  

With LMS on correcting my post!

chefbea 9:19 AM  

I did not like the puzzle. Did it though. Hand up for never heard of bushwa. Other hand up for not liking de-rat' Guess you could call this a very nonsensical puzzle.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

A most unsatisfying puzzle, even though I finished. Let's not overlook OHSAY, which is rightfully OSAY, no H.

Howard B 9:28 AM  

You know what? Hell with it. I liked this one, even with the fill.
There was a ROW B at the most recent concert we attended. We were a bit further back than that. Legit to me, although I don't like the possible inclusion of ROW(X) clues.

I enjoyed the frustration of running into [Nonsense] roadblocks, and having to find ways into each, especially on a Tuesday.

I am comfortable being in the minority on this one, and respect the shortcomings that I acknowledge are there.

But for whatever reason, I had unexpected fun with this one, and that's all I ask of my puzzle.

MaharajaMack 9:33 AM  

I found this one infuriating. I was really disappointed that Rex didn't savage it more, but tun I decided that the brevity of the review was even colder than anything he could have said. So I'm satisfied.

People often wonder, "How can you get so angry about a crossword puzzle?" The answer: every rule you see broken makes it even more unjust that Will Shortz rejected your submission. ("WTF? He got away with NSEC and mine got turned down?!?")

RnRGhost57 9:39 AM  

@Z: ditto the DKs and Heinlein

Caffeine 9:47 AM  

Horse puckies! This was a fun puzzle. I liked trying to come up with new ways to say "nonsense".

Caffeine 9:48 AM  
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Anonymous 9:48 AM  

I've said bushwa and O'Cedar, and read grok and so on. I like this blog, but all the moaning over words like this seems petulant. Why shouldn't a crossword reward those with larger vocabularies?

Beagle lover 10:12 AM  

I learned a lot from today's puzzle. Never heard of Dead Kennedy's, did not know blin was plural for blini, did not know adout in tennis, never heard of ocedar products or the word grok. So , all in all, a good way to begin my day after a nice breakfast of uncured bacon and eggs.

cascokid san 10:17 AM  

Daniel TOSH makes it into the puzzle today, but clued as nonsense. Delicious.

Questinia 10:18 AM  

I had never heard of the O CEDAR song.
I had never heard of O CEDAR.

I was a virgin.

Hope you are all happy.

{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}
{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}{{{ ♫♭♪O CEDAR makes you life easi-EEER!♯♬♫♮}}}

x ∞

M Rivers 10:25 AM  

I loved it. I knew the nonsense words (I've been around for a while), and there were enough places to challenge me that I got a workout. My favorite kind of puzzle is one that is tough but finishable, which this one was.

lawprof 10:33 AM  

Bushwa?? Bushwa!!

Jim in Chicago 10:33 AM  

I had two dnf's. Not knowing ODELE, I guessed ADELE, which left me with xATAIR for that nonsense and without the H or the B for HABIT, with xELGE for THAT nonsense.

Like others, the cross of PAPAW/STELA and BUSHWA way my Natick for the day.

Halfway through, I did wonder whether it would be possible to construct an entire puzzle using only "nonsense" for the clues, and seeing the earlier impressively long list think it might just be possible.

Jim in Chicago 10:34 AM  

Oops, that should have been ODILE...

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

How did the error in the opening of the national anthem get through?
It begin "O say", NOT "Oh say"

Bob Kerfuffle 11:03 AM  

I really loved this puzzle! It has been my dream to see a puzzle with the same clue repeated as many times as possible, yet still be doable.

OK, three minor nits:

Finished with one wrong letter at the end of STELE; didn't look over finished grid closely enough to catch it.

Agree that 54 D should be O SAY, even if half the Google references show OH SAY, incorrectly.

One write-over which took a while to fix, 23 D, "Iraq war concerns, for short" should have been IEDS. The letters in the grid, WMDS, call for a clue along the lines of "Iraq war false justification."

Steve J 11:11 AM  
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Steve J 11:16 AM  

@Evan: Nice rebuild of the east. Every section is significantly improved. Which would have improved my overall impression of the puzzle significantly.

@Loren: I always associate Stella with Streetcar, not Gone with the Wind. Especially if someone's maniacally yelling her name.

Nice visual with your description of your dad's angry osprey. Sounds like something my dad would do. In his case, because he'd resent being made to play a game that requires him to do stuff like that.

@Bob Kerfuffle: I noticed that there were a lot of "Oh say can you see ..." citations on Google, too. However, the original poem did use O. The curmudgeon in me views Oh in this context as yet another example of the deterioration of writing in this country (which the rationalist in me knows is a notion that's BUNK/TOSH/TWADDLE/HOGWASH/etc.).

mac 11:21 AM  

Agree with @BobK's critique, except I did not enjoy the very dense theme very much. Give me beautiful, long fill any time.

I've made around 150 blini this past holiday season, and I would not call them thin. The buckwheat flour make them a little dense. There are beautiful, thin Russian crepes, though. I can buy them ready-made at an Easter European food store in Norwalk. Just dip them in melted butter with fresh orange juice and Grand Marnier.

Carola 11:43 AM  

Post-solve-admiration-of-grid:fun-while-solving = 3:1.

Liked AGNEW crossing PRATTLE and BALONEY crossing YARN.

Mohair Sam 12:07 PM  

@carola - Nice catch on the Agnew crosses. Spiro would call you a "nattering nabob of negativism" however.

dk 12:19 PM  

���� (2 Turkey Legs) BUSWA? TWADDLE!

Still not the worst Tuesday ever as the fill is fun.

Talk like a pirate: Ye be BILGE rats on the ship of life: Just sayin.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Hey, you guys, Hattie McDaniel's charge was Blanche, not Stella.

Dick Swart 12:50 PM  

I liked it. The carping seems like so much Bushwa to me.

You can read that as either a euphemism for bullshit or a perjorative observation on the predilections of the Bourgeois.j

In fact, it is proper noun in some almost self-defining circumstances

http://www.bushwa.co.za

foxaroni 12:56 PM  

In the back of my mind there's an association of Johnny Carson using BUSHWA. True? Or no?

Unlike most of you, have heard of BUSHWA, but never TOSH (in that context--I have heard of Peter Tosh).

Frustrating puzzle today.

Oh--#cascokid san, your explanation of AD OUT is appreciated but, as a non-tennis person, still don't have the foggiest idea what it means. :-(

Gill I. P. 12:57 PM  

Hey, I was just reading in the Bee that Bernice Gordon turned 100 on Sat. and she's still constructing!!! "They make my life," Gordon said, "I couldn't live without them." Now that's NO HOOEY.
BLIN without the I and O SAY with an H and the missing CH for ATCHA....
GROK.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

It's the least I've ever enjoyed a puzzle. Stopped halfway through because I wasn't having fun. Much more excited to come over here to see Rex trash it.

Z 1:06 PM  

@foxaroni - The traditional scoring system in tennis is odd. The game begins at 0-0 or "Love-Love." The first point a player scores is "15", then "30," then "40." If a game is tied at "40" (or 3-3) it is called "deuce." If the server wins the next point after "deuce" it is called "ad in." If the server loses it is called "AD OUT." A game has to be won by two, so after ad in or AD OUT the game is either back to "deuce" or the game is done. You have to win six games to win a set and either the best of three or the best of five sets to win a match. Got it? Care? I'm not even going to bother with "tie-breakers."

Bird 1:07 PM  

Did not like. Too much NONSENSE.

Numinous 1:26 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle:
I recall, watching CNN, that WMDS were constantly being mentioned as a matter of concern during the Iraq war. It troubles me to think that someone would use a crossword puzzle, especially in the NYT, to express political opinions or criticisms. Crosswords should be enjoyable by all, regardless of ehnic, religious, political, or caste affiliations.

I got GROK straight off as it had currency years ago, ok, in the 60s, amongst a certain social group with whom I associated. Hippies were all reading Stranger in a Strange Land . I never thought of myself as a hippie, I always considered myself more as a beatnik. There are significant differences.

While I couldn't GROK BUSHWA while I was doing the puzzle, the more I think about it. I believe I've heard it used somewhere, somehow, sometime in the past.

DNF for me because I've never heard STELA, onle STELe. If not for that, I'd have finished in a Monday time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed working out all the [Nonsense] from the crosses no matter how bad they were.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 1:27 PM  

This is not yer grandpappy's crossword puz...
82 words. More fer yer money.
16 themers. Made up of 86 letters, if I ciphered it out right.
Not exactly conducive to ahar moments, but day-um that's darn near a googol of "nonsense".

The rest of the fill? Well, most of those words get to cross the theme material two or three times. Sounds impossible to supply anything but nonsense fill for. But, you don't mess around with Croce. Somehow, the dude got it to work. A little funky here and there, but less howlingly desperate than this enterprise oughta deserve.

Exta fine beads of persperation/desperation =
* DERAT. Surely there's a French perfume called this, to take the weight off that poor overworked Piper dude.
* ROWB. Now, see? Here's the perfecto spot for one of them double-?? clues. Somethin like: "wraparound wrinkler??".
* ATYA. Primo loose goose partial.
* STELA. How many 5-letter words can you make out from them letters? I got 9. But I digress...

thUmbsUp, for pure hutzpah.

@muse. I once taught a buncha 2-graders howto draw different expressions on cartoon faces. Followed by requests, most of which were for Goofy the Disney toon dude.
Anyhoo, after we ran thru all the standard exprs, like happy sad angry surprised disgusted sleepy dopey and Dick Cheney, I drew a face up on the board with a happy mouth and angry eyes. Asked kids to write down in one or two words what they each thought described that face. Answers were astonishingly funky...
Close to correctomundos: BAD. MAD. MEAN. NO GOOD.
Funky: SICK. HURT. FARTY. WEERD. JASON (another kid in the class, who took exception to that).
Fave: RUN!
But I overdigress...

M&A

Numinous 1:32 PM  

With @lms and @Lewis on corrections.

BTW, tennis, moreso than golf, must have the most arcane language in sports.

Ellen S 1:46 PM  

Wow, you all got really busy long before I even finished the puzzle. Let me say first off, any puzzle with James AGEE and HATTIE McDaniel in it can't be all bad. I smiled to see them, winced at some of the company they're keeping these days.

@AliasZ, when I was (much) younger I always used to explain to people that Poppycock is the best part of the poppy. Just sayin'.

@SteveJ, my parents always used BUSHWA to mean "Nonsense". I suppose it's a euphemism for Bullshit, but in my warped mind I kept hearing judgmental communists using that to dismiss a not-politically-approved opinion.

Everyone who never head of STELA - aren't STELAe the natural habitat of EELS? Feels like they show up in puzzles all the time, along with ARETE and stuff like that. ERNS have their AERIES on ARETES. When one dies, its family puts up a STELA as a memorial. Then they have a dinner of funeral baked meats, usually EEL.

@Jberg, thanks; I figured BLIN was singular -- yeah, if you eat a BLIN and a potato chip and have a Hershey's Kiss for dessert, aren't you still hungry?

Thanx @anon 12:28 -- I didn't remember any STELLA in GWTW.

@LMS - I wanna just forget the puzzle and listen to stories about your family.!

@Numinous - don't worry about those WMDS. They're like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy - just made up by your parents to scare you.

Doc John 1:48 PM  

PAPAW/BUSHWA tripped me up. Can't remember the last time I couldn't finish a Tuesday. Blech!

LaneB 2:03 PM  

Certainly harder than a "medium" for a Tuesday and all the synonyms for nonsense were difficult.,e.g., TOSH, BUSHWA, even BILGE, JIVE and JAZZ.. Also I don't get the clues for 31a and 71a.. ANIGH, PAPAW and STELA side by side a big problem, too. I tried to Google PAPAW and found it spelled with 2 Ps

Didn't like this one even though I did manage to finish after much cursing.

Nameless 2:05 PM  

Not surprised by all the DNF today.

Crappy puzzle with difficult (unknown, obscure, eyc.) answers crossed by difficult (unknown, obscure, etc.) answers.

I usually like Mr. Croce's puzzles, but seems he went to the urban thesaurus for this one.

ahimsa 2:08 PM  

Hard to decide about this puzzle. My solving experience alternated between "cute" and "what?"

Pros: I enjoyed thinking of all the different words for nonsense -- even the ones not in the puzzle were running through my mind. And I learned a new word, BUSHWA. It didn't bother me that I had not heard of it before.

Cons: DERAT. Also all the other grid gruel. And an "O CEDAR" ear worm, but that's not the constructor's fault. But mostly DERAT.

Yet, on further consideration, DERAT is so-o-o bad it's good. Kinda like an MST3K movie. Doesn't M&A often list his favorite weejects? That would be mine. It just needs a funny clue. :-)

Overall, the puzzle was fun. But I agree that fewer theme words, plus a reveal (or something) to tie them all together, would have been more fun for me. But to each his own!

@Evan, thanks for sharing your modified version of the puzzle - nice job.

PS. I didn't get a chance to comment on yesterday's puzzle but it was a good one!

ahimsa 2:17 PM  

I was editing so long (got interrupted and came back to post it) that I see @M&A has posted in the meantime.

"But, you don't mess around with Croce."

LOL, Hey, I see what you did there!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4qUXcXuMSE

M and Also 2:50 PM  

p.s. @ahisma: U rock. Nice vid pick.

I maybe should point out that the sweet little girl that drew the angry eyes/happy mouth face on her paper and wrote FARTY underneath it mighta really meant FORTY. Was a close call. She may have been hedgin her bets. I wasn't about to question her on it, and get her in trouble with the teacher.

Wish I could remember All those face quiz answers. They were great. I do remember that one or two were pretty hard to make out, and remain a mystery to the scientists, to this day. Not unlike a few recent puz entries, which I probably will never be able to get outa my head. ODILE just looks all wrong, with its CROC missin from upfront, e.g.

M&A

chefwen 3:46 PM  

Above mentioned creepy brother and his friends used to say BUSHWA a lot, probably still do. Maybe it's a Midwestern '60s kind of a thing.

nrs 4:04 PM  

Kind of liked it. Sometimes it helps to be a geezer.

ANON B 4:18 PM  

Nonsense is what so many of the
posts usually are and probably
will continue to be.
This post will probably be
deleted for being worse than nonsense. See ya!

sanfranman59 4:22 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 9:55, 8:15, 1.20, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 6:30, 5:12, 1.25, 96%, Challenging

gifcan 4:28 PM  

Same DNF in the east.

Never heard of BUSHWA but I'm gonna start using it.

@Ahimsa is right, it's so good that it's bad! DERAT for President!

gifcan 4:29 PM  

I mean, bad that it's good.

Sheesh.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Nice. Easy. Have never said Bushwa, but have read it many times. This reminds me of a puz in the mid sixties that had a zillion dog breeds (or maybe cats, it was a while ago). It was my first Times puz that amazed me. The previous ones were just fun. Sometimes I think Rex is all wet and I think this is one of those times.

Evan 7:30 PM  

Thanks, @MetaRex, @Steve, and @ahimsa. I dabbled a little bit in the south too, but I found that the AT YA/NSEC/TSO fill was the best one available.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

A thin Russian pancake is a Blini---NOT a blin. Where did that come from?

Steve J 12:12 AM  

@Anon 11.13: It came from Russian. Blini is the plural of blin.

loren muse smith 6:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
loren muse smith 6:40 AM  

@John Child – this game is such a hoot. And all ages can play.

1. Divide into even teams, both in number and in brain power – there's always that problematic someone in each group. Work around him/her.

2. Each person in each team spends about 10 minutes and writes things, people, places, on small strips of paper, folds them, and puts them in a bowl for the other team to draw from. Sample ideas that work are: zip-loc baggie, Mr. Rogers, clothes pin, hay bale, Uncle Sam, thermos. (Sample ideas that don't work: osprey, vitreous humor, 6 inch replica of the Statue of Liberty, the Kreb Cycle, eyepit.)

3. When it's Team One's turn, someone on Team Two sets his timer for 1 minute. The "clue giver" for that turn on Team One draws a slip and then uses words, sentences, gestures. . . anything but words included in the answer. . . to get his/her team mates to call out the answer. It sounds too easy, but it's actually not – an excellent score (at least for my family) in one minute is over five correct. But there again, you have to figure we had Dad – "Use your words, Dad. Please." And Mom, who, I guess in the spirit of good sportsmanship and holiday cheer, enthusiastically, helpfully cried out answers for the other team. Answers that she herself earlier had written on the slips. At least she drew the line and did not, in fact, cry out answers to herself when she was the one actually giving the clues.

4. Successful answers are thrown to the ground. If you can't figure out how to clue one, PUT IT BACK IN THE BOWL – do not throw it on the ground. Dad. Ahem. Then just draw another one.

5. Obviously, you need a scorekeeper, and again, this is always problematic. If Aunt Ethel is a known cheater, don't let her keep score. ("What, she messed again with the tally? Whack her!)

The Jabberwocky idea went off without a hitch, thanks for asking. Funny, I actually challenged someone who had already drawn the TumTum Tree to give slithy toves a shot!

@M & A - what a great idea to do with kids!! I'm going to steal this. I absolutely loved their responses to the happy-mouth-angry-eye face. RUN! Was my favorite, too. Wonder what they would have responded to happy eyes but and angry mouth?

oldbizmarky 9:03 AM  

Thought this whole puzzle was HOGWASH. Never heard of BUSHWA, GROK, ROT, or TOSH and thus DNF. And, just for the record, I really could care less if I finish a puzzle, I am usually satisfied to come close when the puzzle has been fun. This was garbage. So many short answers with crosses that were not give mes making the "nonsense" clues extremely difficult in my opinion.

Just An Expression 12:29 PM  

@muse. Tried a couple takes on drawin happy eyes with angry mouth. First impressions =
* Oh look what yer cute poodle just did on our new carpet.
* Constipation or gas problem.
* You scored us two tickets for the opera tonight?
* Nice puz -- one U, huh?
* Oh, look. She made us eel casserole.
* It only hurts when I laugh.
* Ponderin one's relative insignificance in a universe of uncountable bajillions of stars. While bein out of weed.

p.s. Each kid in the class drew a thanx U drawin, and the teacher mailed the art collection to me. Hours of entertainment, decipherin.

p.p.s.s.
har! Now I finally get it! It's a Croce-ODILE! day-um.

M&A

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

Hands down one of the worst crossword puzzles I've ever done. Most of the clues are themed as Nonense which is nonsense. How is JAZZ nonense? Or JIVE? I've been staring at them for a while and I still don't get it.

I gave up before half the grid was finished with a bunch of blank crosses with Nonsense.

Absolutely the worst puzzle I've seen in a long time. Absolute garbage.

spacecraft 12:08 PM  

I got stalled getting into the NE because I laid down ieDS, certainly of everyday concern to anyone over there, instead of WMDS, which were dismissed as [pick one] early on. And the clue for 19a led me--like the PP himself--to DERAT, but I balked at setting that stinker down.

I wound up leaving there and just winding my way counterclockwise from the NW, and it was getting tougher by the section. TOSH--and in the same grid with TESH? BUSHWA?? Count me among the many who never heard of those two. Gotta be a regional thing.

To me the fill wasn't that terrible...OK, ANIGH and ROWB (OMG, what a precedent! Don't do it, lads and lasses, don't you dare do it!!) are pretty bad. TRITER...I feel a song coming on.

Nothing could be TRITER
Than to fill your grid with NITER
In the mooorning...

OK, Jimmy WEBB I ain't. But in a Tuesday puzzle, wouldn't ol' Jack of Badge 714 do?

TRITER than IBAR, ERST and AGEE it's hard to get. The rest of it is AOK. Have to give props for Scrabbliness, no?

Easy to challenging; average: medium, I guess.

Waxy in Montreal 12:54 PM  

TOSH brings to mind 1950's pro wrestler and villain Tosh Togo who partnered in tag-team bouts with his "brother", The Great Togo. Later in life, Tosh - actually Toshiyuki Sakata - reinvented himself as an actor, notably playing Oddjob in the James Bond thriller, Goldfinger.

Only problem here other than TRITEness was STREWN before STRUNG at 39D which prevented HOGWASH and YARN for a while. Not the best Tim Croce puzzle by far.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Thank you, Mr.Croce, for introducing and educating the many followers on this blog to the word "Bushwa." Being an old-timer, I aced the puzzle without any help. The commenters seem to forget how many other puzzles contain words "I've never heard before." Too, too bad, he said sarcastically. My word of the day is "ad out.' Now I know, and so many others do, thanks to an informed commenter. In my humble opinion, the sign of a good puzzle construction is having at least one uncommon word to ponder... or look up... or to learn. Thanks again.

Ron Diego 10:35 AM PST 2/18/14

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

To the person who used an h word in asking what a grok might be: it's a verb, silly! Go read some Vonnegut.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

To the person who used an h word in asking what a grok might be: it's a verb, silly! Go read some Vonnegut.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

To the person who used an h word in reference to the wonderful word GROK:
it's a verb, silly! Go read some Vonnegut.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

To the person who used an h word while asking what a GROK might be: it's a verb, silly! Go read some Vonnegut.

Dirigonzo 3:25 PM  

I've always been of the opinion that one can never have too many words at his disposal for calling out bulls#@t; it's nice to have an adequate selection to avoid repetition so I enjoyed adding a word or two to my verbal arsenal. (I said many of them to myself while reading the comments today.)

Sure I had some write-overs but the crosswords set me straight, and that's fun, no? I say Booyah! to BUSHWA.

DMG 3:50 PM  

Loved working out all variations in this one. Brought back the days of Roget/Webster hunts for the perfect word when writing term papers. I miss those days when finding a word led to prowling for another. On-line, isolated definitions just don't have that appeal. That said, I just Googled PAPAW, and find it defined as either a synonym for ."papaya" or a tree in the eastern states. So, whence "prairie banana"? Now to get down the dictionary, sadly less used in these days when the print seems to get smaller and smaller!

Waxy in Montreal 3:53 PM  

To the repetitious @anonymouse, GROK isn't actually a Vonnegut creation - it comes from the 1961 Robert A. Heinlein classic novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Solving in Seattle 6:38 PM  

@Waxy, I've never read Vonnegut so I thought the Anonymouse repetition was some inside humor.

This Croce puz was more like a Thursday to me. Balderdash! Man, you jus talkin' s%#t! Poppycock!

My Capcha, with "The" is another lost Ludlum manuscript: Cheflarc Recensions.

Z 8:08 PM  

@Solving in Seattle - Might I suggest Mother Night or Cat's Cradle to get a feel for the style and then Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five.

Ginger 8:32 PM  

Solved this one in the waiting room at the clinic trying not to giggle out loud, and trying not to draw attention to my silly grin as all the nonsensical words came popping up. Irreverent, Irrelevant fun was unfortunately not had by all.

@ahisma thanx for the ear worm! Much better than the O Cedar song.

@Waxy and @Diri - and any other east coast syndilanders - Stay warm and dry.

Waxy in Montreal 8:42 PM  

Thanks @Ginger. Can't speak for @Diri but the temperature here tomorrow is actually expected to be above freezing with some rain possible. worst may be over...

ahimsa 10:20 AM  

I forgot to check messages yesterday but thought I'd respond today in case anyone's still reading--

@Ginger, glad I could help out. :-)

@Dirigonzo, I'm with you on the joy of learning new words. BUSHWA was a good one. Booyah, indeed!

To all other syndi-landers, thanks for your comments, they are always fun and interesting!

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