Editor Marshall of financial publications / TUE 3-18-14 / Visual gag character of British TV / Railroad chartered in 1832 / Dwelling changes in realtor speak / Early film star Daniels / Yeast cake made with rum / Elevator pioneer Elisha

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "A FAREWELL TO ARMS" (38A: W.W. I novel … hinted at by 17-, 24-, 52- and 64-Across) — theme answers are familiar phrases which have had "ARM" removed from them, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • BURGLAR AL (17A: Home-invading Gore?)
  • GENT DISTRICT (24A: Area for aristocrats?)
  • DEATH WED OVER (52A: Exchange of vows again for the Grim Reaper?)
  • SNAKE CHER (64A: Emmy, Oscar and Grammy-winning reptile?)
Word of the Day: BWI (47D: Home of the Bahamas, once: Abbr.) —
The British West Indies were the islands and mainland colonies in and around the Caribbean that were part of theBritish Empire. In 1912, the British West Indies were divided into eight colonies: The BahamasBarbados,British GuianaBritish HondurasJamaica (with its dependencies the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands), Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands. (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't even know where to begin, so I won't. I can't. Well I can. But I won't. I can't and won't.

The basic theme is a fine one.

This is not a Tuesday puzzle. It's a hard Wednesday.

I honestly can't say anything more. Maybe someday I'll be able to explain why. But not today.

I will say, though, that I had zero idea what BWI stood for (47D: Home of the Bahamas, once: Abbr.). Or, rather, I assumed it stood for the airport. That "I" was a guess based Solely on the airport's existence, as I also have never ever seen ISA as an abbr. for (I'm guessing) Isaiah (57A: Old Testament prophecy book: Abbr.). Never. I just … again, I can't. Won't and can't. And won't. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Hope all you non-"Fringe" watchers liked that 42D clue. Gimme for me, but I was like "… wow. Tuesday? OK, then."


Anonymous 12:01 AM  

What a colorful menagerie of a crossword!

Anonymous 12:02 AM  

I have a feeling you're holding out on us, Rex (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (:

wreck 12:07 AM  

Crazy hard Tuesday for me. I got the theme pretty quickly, but still struggled to place the missing "ARMS." I'm with Rex on this one all the way!

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

BWI=British West Indies???

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Don't listen to the guy above. He lies.

Keenan Mahoney 12:10 AM  

I really, really hated this puzzle. What an absolute bummer. Garbage.

jae 12:19 AM  

Same take as Rex. A tough Tues. for me, more like a medium-tough Wed.  Which is fine except I really wasn't fond of this one.  The theme answers are more tortured than amusing, I mean SNAKE CHER?? Really??  And, when the theme is off stuff like ESA, BWI, ASI, NORW, AM TOO, ITA really stands out.  Plus, what's with the obscure actors...BEBE, TORV...and politician...CHAO...on a Tues.?   Didn't like it.

Steve J 12:37 AM  

Everything @jae said. "Tortured" is a great way to describe this. It's been a long time since I've disliked a puzzle as much as this one.

chefwen 12:37 AM  

I guess I'm in the minority, so far. Was not in love with this BEAST when we were solving, but after finishing correctly without a cheat I decided that I liked it. Jon kept saying "are you sure this is Tuesday?" DEATH W(arm)ED over was the last to fall. I had BRI at 47D and Death redover wasn't cutting it. Light bulb finally clicked on and we were done. Woo Yoo!

Tough Tuesday!

Sarah 12:42 AM  


Moly Shu 12:42 AM  

Gotta agree with the above. Very difficult tues. TORV CHAO ALIA and LOEB, all foreign to me. Bre (british royal empire ???) wouldn't let me parse WEDOVER until I discarded it and put DANTE in which I thought was correct but didn't look correct. Finally got it, but what a struggle. Liked the clue for BALTIC, happy to see it wasn't SSR. Liked the puzzle, sometimes it's good to workout early.

Ellen S 12:52 AM  

Wow. I'm in even more of a minority than @Chefwen -- I found it pretty easy until I got to "DEATHrEDOVER", where the "R" was unfortunately the last letter I put in and got the natsty "sorry you blew it" banner. And I IMDb'd TORV. The rest I either sort of knew or got from crosses. In my relaxed moral universe, that's close enough to not cheating.

I do agree with everyone that the theme answers are clumsy at best, but at least this time I knew there was a theme and it helped everywhere except the British West Indies. Oh, helped straighten that out, too.

At least the answers, except that one, weren't Death Warmed Over, like A Bell for Adano. Hey, @DanP, from yesterday, I'm only mad at myself for never spelling it correctly because of the Pulitzer. If I don't get a Motorhead reference, it's fine with me. (Has the Hersey novel really not appeared recently? Maybe that means I once knew it and forgot it. I'll go with that.)

@Loren, don't hold back.

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

Long-time reader, first-time poster. This puzzle was utter crap.

Sarah 1:00 AM  


John Child 1:01 AM  

I prefer that "add or remove 'XYZ'" puzzles result in whacky answers that mean something. None of these theme answers make any sense. It landeD FLAT here.

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

This puzzle should be taken out and beaten with a stick.

Mike in DC 1:02 AM  

Challenging but solvable. Clever theme, and though the theme answers didn't pop, the ARM. answers worked in that they were all real phrases.

Odd for a Tuesday,, but no complaints here. Maybe that's because i knew BWI and could infer the obscure actors from crosses.

wreck 1:06 AM  

Snake Cher is a "real" common phrase??

Sarah 1:08 AM  

Not happy with what I can only imagine is the special treatment extended by Will Shortz to crossword blogs today. Blecch.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

Wreck, the first comment you made today is probably not true. You might want to figure out why...

wreck 1:17 AM  

I see my nemesis is back ... missed my apostrophe -- sorry

Kristin 1:19 AM  

Way too hard for a Teus! Finished with a couple errors but never really got how the theme was supposed to work!

Sarah 1:30 AM  

From the comments above, I can confidently say you are not alone, Kristin.

PK 1:31 AM  

I don't mean to be critical or judgmental, because I have no idea of how to construct a crossword puzz, but OMFG,WTF?

It's Tuesday, no? It's not a rebus, because the extra arm only goes across, not down? I don't think that's how we play on Tuesday.

And the whole idea of an extra arm is creepy. Kinda like death warmed over.

I'm looking for one fun thing to say something positive about, but am struggling. Okay, here it is: I like BooBoo, but wanted it clued as "Honey ___"

Colin 1:54 AM  

First time I DNF a Tuesday in over a year, at least. (Didn't get DEATH WED OVER / BWI and was too irritated to care.) What a bummer this puzzle was. So much bad fill takes the fun out of my nightly crossword. ASI BWI RELOS (that one is bad enough as a singular...)? And the theme is a fun enough idea but to be pedantic, A FAREWELL TO ARMS is misleading since it is only to ARM that we bid farewell. Too bad there isn't a famous novel called FAREWELLS TO ARM.

I need to start commenting more often on puzzles I like... Normally I enjoy myself even with just-average puzzles, but this one is so lacking in charm or cleverness—nothing terribly fun about it.

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

The problem, wreck, is most certainly not your apostrophes.

Carola 2:04 AM  

Challenging for me, and mostly enjoyable to figure out, although I didn't find the payoff of the theme answers up to the promise of the reveal.

I got A FAREWELL TO ARMS early on, then went back for BURGLAR AL, which made me laugh and anticipate a fun Tuesday. Then I immediately got stuck on the ????DISTRICT, having assumed that the pattern was to lop off the ARM at the end (ERRED, BOOBOO). Anyway, I finally got GENT and the rest, but after BURGLAR AL, I thought things went downhill.

DEATHWEDOVER defied my attempts to parse it. Perhaps it could appear in some mists-of-time romance novel featuring pagan rites: "NORW and TORV were DEATH-WED OVER the sign of the BEAST KON-BWI...."

Elle 54 2:05 AM  

At least I knew BWI, so I had that going for me

jrw 4:00 AM  

Welp. The best I can say about this hot pile of garbage is that I managed to finish it, though only by virtue of grokking the theme early -- woulda never gotten BWI (not with that clue, at least) or TORV (guhwuh?) otherwise. I liked a.) MRBEAN and b.) the X-Men themed clue, but that's about it. Just look across those lines: ALIA-PARA-COMER? AMTOO-ITA-OTIS? RELOS-ITSO-TERI? Gawd.

Per the theme, I didn't give a w....hit for this one.

Credit where due, though; all the recent NYT clunkers have driven me into the waiting arms of a long overdue Fireball subscription.

JTHurst 4:24 AM  

Wowza, Wowza. That safe Monday puzzle feeling sure has disappeared, huh! That Monday puzzle was like a walk in a woods with a 'piney' scent in the air, fresh and invigorating. While this puzzle is like walking into a Men's lavatory with black and white checkered wallpaper with blinking strobe lights and water faucets that are turned on by sensors. You are jabbing your hands under the faucet trying to elicit that trickle of water. You had to jab at this puzzle to get that 'trickle' or flow of understanding.

That said, I loved the puzzle. Anything with Hank 'the beast" McCoy is going to be 'brainy'. Thought the theme was great and only needed to google Anna of fringe, Finnish hockey star, early film star Daniels and Amman's queen, which is good for me on this type of puzzle.

I loved the home invading Gore but I think 'armed' burglar Al is cheating. PS - burglary is usually done in an unoccupied setting while 'home invasion' is occupied with weaponry. Different felonies.

I got the snake ch'arm'er but could never see the Snake Cher reference. I don't know how I missed the BWI reference since I re-read my Ian Fleming books. Maybe I would have gotten it immediately if they had use Jamaica instead of the Bahamas.

My only minor dissatisfaction would be with the response to the childhood taunt 'are not', we were never grammatically correct in that setting so it would not have been 'am too'.

Since we 'posters' love to pontificate I would expect to see at least a hundred and ten responses compared to the measly sixty on Monday. We do love to complain.

Geez, I hope my word count is under LMS's.

Danp 6:16 AM  

1) Discovery Channel - SCI? How many years ago are we talking here? Like back before History Channel was about junk collecting and UFO's?

2) Elaine Chao - Mitch McConnell's wife, though I think she made more headlines than he at the time.

3)To the max - AGOGO? I never heard these letters together except at the end of dance club names.

4) DEATHWEDOVER?!?!? Can we agree this is ugh agogo?

Anonymous 6:16 AM  

Could have been funny with multiple revealers. Something about Venus de Milo, halter tops and the second amendment (the right to bare arms).

loren muse smith 6:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CBCD 7:11 AM  

I finished fairly quickly, and did not have any problems.

However, can someone explain 24 Across - Area for aristocrats? How is that the Garment District? (Gentdistrict)

Mohair Sam 7:27 AM  

Agree with the mob here, didn't like this one mostly because it was way too tough for a Tuesday.

As luck would have it I recently read a novel based on DANTE so 55d was the gimme that opened up DEATHWEDOVER.

AGOGO is "to the max"? What? I thought AGOGO meant girls dancing in cages. SNAKECHER is senseless and ruins the otherwise solid theme. Who's TORV (or "Fringe" for that matter), never heard of BEBE, and luckily I remembered the British West Indies to get the last "I".

Marshall LOEB on a Tuesday? And CHAO, wow.

August West 7:27 AM  

12:47. Definitely not a Tuesday. Firmly in the Rex, jae, Steve J camp. Did not think the puzzle was "garbage." Just though, "Whoa."

Who's got our ad free, independent blogger's tongue?

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

Not a Tuesday puzzle, not even a good puzzle with the Naticks-this is getting beyond ridiculous. Will can surely find some better ones in the trove he is hoarding!

August West 7:29 AM  

Gents are aristocrats. They hang out in their own special area. Yeah, it sucks

loren muse smith 7:36 AM  

I posted this about thirty minutes ago but then immediately deleted it upon getting an email from a trusted source who read into it that I was dissing the puzzle. I wasn't! The following is all true. . .

I loved this for a really personal, braggy reason. The very last entry in my trusty little Puzzle Ideas Book is this A FAREWELL TO ARMS 15 beaut. I got this far: ACHED LIFE, PRINCE CHING, Y RECRUITMENT, GLOBAL WING (And a margin note – "garment→gent…explore this." Then I stared out of the window and started enunciating British diphthongs.

My embarrassing list should shed a different light on the puzzle to those who didn't care for the themers. Wow. What an in-your-face example of the difference between a seasoned constructor and a, well, collector of polite emails. As each themer fell, I was delighted in what he came up with.

@JTHurst -"like walking into a Men's lavatory with black and white checkered wallpaper with blinking strobe lights" I know, right? I hate it when I do that.

Oh, boy am I getting bold. Second time in a few days that I'll complain about a clue. BRAID and "ponytail," for me, are not interchangeable. A ponytail can be BRAIDed. So can pigtails. So can my eyebrows without the miracle of wax and tweezers. There was this one picture when I was in middle school in Lilburn, Georgia. . .

SNAKE CHER – great picture, Rex! We owned an albino king snake once, and as we were paying for him, the guy at Petsmart said, "Be sure to take him out and handle him a lot. This one in particular likes it." I'm thinking, "Yeah, right." But darned if I didn't start believing it. I felt this honest-to-God, ridiculous, mind-meld feeling when I took "Shaggy" ("Scooby" was our guinea pig) out – this snake really did enjoy being taken out so he could slither around someone's torso and neck. I swear. Snakes can feel happiness, too, people.

I was going to joke about TORV and M&A's desperate take on such entries. Then Rex called it a gimme. Hah!

Loved FLAT under B CUP.

MR BEAN is a genius facial contortionist.

So could a chef make a rum BABA-A GOGO BOO BOO? Grab the AIOLI instead of the vanilla?

What you all missed, though is the secret message David hid in the diagonal 15. It anagrams to "Rebel Rhino Poler" – a shout out to his humble performer beginnings –he cut his entertainer teeth as a volunteer performer at a zoo, any zoo, with this long, pointy pole. Well, you can imagine- rhinos can be as grumpy as hippos. . . Anyway, his card-drawing-grid-building-same-card-hidden-diagonally-in-the-grid is a much safer stunt. If you haven't seen this and you like puzzles, you *have* to watch this. I make my non-puzzle friends watch David. (I'm down to three now, and that third one is on the fence.)


Psychopop – just yesterday I was talking to a (former) friend about the puzzle, explaining what a vowel progression theme is. I said it was even more elegant because it included the Y. He said, "Y is not a vowel." I said, "Sure it is – it's the vowel in TRYST." Can you believe I chose that very word?

David – I really do make people watch youtubes of your trick. It blows my mind every time. And on this theme and its execution?. . .well, you have very good instincts and I predict someday you'll be join us top constructors. Hah! Very nice job. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oh, and D CUP over FLAT? Made ya look. Again.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Aww come on! Haven't you all seen Snake Cher in that slinky video for "If I Could Turn Back Time (I Wouldn't Have Tempted Eve)?

Evan 7:53 AM  

This is probably the hardest Tuesday I've ever done. I refused to put in DEATH WED OVER for a very long time because a) I've never heard of the base phrase "death warmed over," b) the wacky phrase DEATH WED OVER just made no sense when I parsed it, and c) BWI??? I eventually figured out that it stood for British West Indies, but my goodness.

I dunno. I think this is a situation where the puzzle really, really could have benefited by moving those theme answers around, or developing new ones. When you start with N--W and T--V, there just aren't many good options.

So, I tried refilling the grid....the whole thing, actually, with the same theme answers in the same positions. You can see the results here and here. In the first grid I removed one pair of cheater squares, and in the other I removed both -- I don't see how they really help the fill in this puzzle. Nothing I could really do about TORV, not without moving the theme answers around.

Last thing: it's interesting to note that Doug Peterson actually had the same theme in the LA Times in 2006. That's not a criticism of today's puzzle since it was several years ago, it was in a separate publication, and all of the theme answers (besides the revealer) are different between both puzzles. But, it's worth mentioning anyway. Doug's theme answers were:

* FOUNDATION GENTS = Fellows seeking endowments?
* HOUSE WINGS = Homeowner's additions?
* ARNIE'S Y = Where the Governator works out?
* CAUSE FOR AL = Gore ideal?
* A FAREWELL TO ARMS = 1929 novel, and this puzzle's title

andreaomn 8:17 AM  

For all of you saying this was hard but doable: NOT FOR A TUESDAY, NO. Not only were some clues extremely hard, but the theme??? I still can't figure out most of it on the answers. I mean, I know you're all pros and English is not even my first language, but I've always counted on the NYT to be somewhat consistent in the level of challenge. This one, to me, makes me feel pretty much like any other Friday does: absolutely clueless.

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

Grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, complain, grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, complain, grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, grumble, complain, grumble.

Grumble, grumble, grumble, complain, grumble, grumble.

The only consolation: it's in D FLAT major, and tomorrow is Wednesday.

In closing, grumble, grumble.

Thank you, David and Will.

Now I am off on a "Global Wing" lecture tour with Al Gore.

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Excellent Tuesday puzzle! Definitely not garbage. The theme was just okay (the wacky clues were not knee-slappers), but some of the fill was Friday hard. I would have been DNF, but I made a lucky guess with MR BEAN, which I hadn't heard of. MR BEAN crossed TORV and BEBE, two other names I didn't know. If I'd guessed wrong, I would still love this puzzle.

NCA President 8:26 AM  

I didn't feel like this was any harder than any other puzzle...sometimes I have troubles on midweek puzzles so I didn't really give it a second thought. There are some puzzles that are "in my wheel house," and others that are not, and no matter how easy they are to other people, they are stupid hard for me. And then there are days like today where most of the grid fell into place in a reasonable amount of time with little or no frustration.

I got the theme fairly quickly so I ignored the wackiness of the answers and went about my merry way.

As for CHAO, I didn't even know that was in there since i got all the crosses and it just filled itself in.

I did have to google TORV, though. But again, one man's ceiling and all that. I am not much up on pop culture and even less on pop culture TV...(it is on TV, right?)

Otherwise, meh. I do these puzzles because I like the process of doing these puzzles. Sometimes I like the process, sometimes I don't. Today offered minimal resistance, so it was a good day. I can see how it probably had too much weird stuff in it...I kinda wished Rex would have said what he was holding back from saying, TBH.

Susan McConnell 8:30 AM  

I am no great solver so maybe this one just clicked with me. I would say it was on the harder side for a Tuesday but nothing extreme. The reveal was easy enough to guess and helped get the theme answers. Anyone who has done any Bible study knows that ISA is a Very, Very common abbreviation. Yes, there was a lot of crosswordese goo in there, but heck, we've been conditioned to accept that by now, haven't we?

Conrad 8:31 AM  

I didn't hate this as much as most of the posters, but I didn't like it either. Never having read "A Farewell To Arms" -- or having read it so long ago that it is totally forgotten -- actually helped. I figured it was a straight theme and that BURGLAR AL was a character. Until I got to SNAKE CHER. Then I decided, "Okay. I'm not going to grok this theme, so I'll just solve it as a themeless." I got BWI (no idea why), but I still had trouble at DEATH WED OVER, misreading the clue as "Exchange of vows again *or* the Grim Reaper." Much confusion ensued until my eyes cleared up. I ended up getting it without any cheats, but I had already decided that when the last box was filled and Mr. Happy Pencil failed to show up the first thing I was going to Google was TORV.

joho 8:36 AM  

@Evan, thanks for posting Doug's LA Times puzzle. You just point out how many time we think we have a totally original idea only to find it's been done before.

It's hard for me not to compare the theme answers in both puzzles. Doug's all make sense while today's are pushing it. SNAKECHER is the weakest.

Regardless it's a fun and interesting theme, definitely worthy of publication but not on a Tuesday.

@Rex, interesting write-up!

loren muse smith 8:37 AM  

So I guess I should address the issue of all the pot-shots people are taking at the length of my posts. I totally deserve being called out on it, especially after saying that skipping anon posts is a time saver; this animosity has certainly been a long time coming.

I realize my posts are really long, and I understand that most of you skip over them.

This place is the bright spot of my day, and I'll milk it for all it's worth until I get voted out of the tribe!

Oh, and since the word count is reset now, this avatar is a picture of me with Fred Piscop, who constructs those Split Decision second Sunday puzzles. Those were the only days I could get my daughter interested in puzzling. We each got our own copy, sat at the table working independently, talking smack about each other's progress.. . good times.

I had to replace my FB picture because it was so old, so I replaced it with this one. My daughter told me to crop out Fred because it would creep him out – to be there with me, co-star of my FB page.

Hey – seriously, stupendously compendious – a mere 203 words!

Questinia 8:47 AM  

If this puzzle is like walking into a Men's lavatory with black and white checkered wallpaper with strobe lights and water faucets that are turned on by sensors, then you'd find me in a stall, atop a can, dancing the SNAKE CHER dance A GO GO. Stage name: BOO BOO BEAST.

Yesterday's puzzle according to @Gill IP was a simple black dress, this one was a sequined lurex tube top, hot pants, and torn fishnets.

Good one, Mr. Kwong.

Questinia 8:56 AM  

@lms, do not shave a single word off any of your posts. Reading them is a bright spot in our (my) day.

Speaking of bright spots, where is that Andrea woman?!

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

I share the sentiments expressed so eloquently by our fearless Rex and most of the commenters. Hard Tuesday. First in at least a year - a DNF with the BWI entry.
I did not get the theme even after I had the completed puzzle. Clever idea? Maybe. Tortured and sick? Absolutely.
The fill is replete with obscure names and words that created "natik" situations.
Not enjoyable at all.

John V 9:04 AM  

I liked the theme, a lot, but DNF. BWI/TORV/BEBE/MRBEAN area got me and stopped me from seeing 52A. My solace: over at XWORDINFO, Jeff Chen admits to his first Tuesday DNF in years. As he points out, the theme density in this one -- 57 squares -- really put some serious constraints on the fill.

FWIW, I had BVI -- British Virgin Islands -- for 47D. Only one letter off; can I get a partial?

Agree that this was waaaaay hard for a Tuesday.

Off to Wednesday.

Z 9:05 AM  


As to whether or not SNAKE CHER is a "real phrase," it is always good to have a rich fantasy life.

@Steve J - I feel like OFL picked the video today just for you and me. Yesterday's video link

@wreck - I saw some news yesterday about the psychological profile of anonymous trolls on blogs, reinforcing the need to ignore them.

Last correction was BrI to BWI. Tuesday has returned to its normal abnormality. Personally, I loved it. Put up a nice crunchy fight with a lot of clue/answers having that "sweet smell of desperation." I do have to wonder if EDINA has a large eel population, though.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I share the sentiments expressed so eloquently by our fearless Rex and most of the commenters. Hard Tuesday. First in at least a year - a DNF with the BWI entry.
I did not get the theme even after I had the completed puzzle. Clever idea? Maybe. Tortured and sick? Absolutely.
The fill is replete with obscure names and words that created "natik" situations.
Not enjoyable at all.

Andrew Morrison 9:09 AM  

WTF? Crap theme. Well, maybe the theme is ok, but the execution is crap. SNAKE CHER? GENTDISTRICT? Then there is the matter of the fill. Seriously, TORV? Did this puzzle get edited?

jberg 9:11 AM  

Yeah, @loren, keep it up! I haven't actually seen any complaints, anyway, unless people are emailing you.

Add me to the minority on this one -- I thought the theme was a lot of fun, and certainly amounted to more than some we've seen lately. EDINA OTIS is appearing a little too frequently,, but that's minor. My only real trouble (since I got BEBE TORV from crosses) was that I figured Jordan's airport would be named for Queen Noor. Easy to fix, though. Also, if you already have a MAP, just how are you an explorer?

I'm on record of not caring what day of the week it is, but this one wasn't that hard, at least not if you remembered the British West Indies.

Gotta go - need to take my tax records to my CPA.

Kim Scudera 9:12 AM  

Hey @Loren -- some of us come to the blog every day to read Rex and @lms, so don't start holding back! People who don't care for the length of your posts can always skip them, but they'll miss some great stories. And your take on language. And your kindness to constructors.

Speaking of which, where the h$@& is @ACME? I miss her posts.

But I'm glad to see @evil is still around, pitchfork held high.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

"If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as work,
But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come!"
Sorry about all you whiners complaining that this didn't meet your expectations...if you really want to find the problem, look in the mirror!

Kim Scudera 9:14 AM  

@questinia -- psychopop!

chefbea 9:27 AM  

60 posts already!!!!! Will read them later.
I too don't know where to put the arms in. Very challenging puzzle

quilter1 9:29 AM  

I got it, but several Naticks were frustrating. Not pleasant for me today. And 60 comments by 8:30 CDT? Wow!

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Just went back to read the posts. @Z thanks for 'spraining .where to put the arms.

Shamik 9:34 AM  

I thought...it's Tuesday, I can quickly solve this one before work. I'm glad I was up extra early. Tuesday? No. More like a medium Friday for me. This was the hardest puzzle by 4:48 longer than my previous hardest Tuesday.

I liked the puzzle. Just not for today. A lot of things that could only be gotten by crosses.

Final solve when I realized that BRI as in Britain was better being BWI as in British West Indies. Yeesh.

ArtO 9:42 AM  

Same naticks as JohnV. Otherwise just a tough Tuesday with a really clever theme. Since there is more than one ARM missing, the reveal is spot on.

Joseph Welling 9:45 AM  

wreck said...
"Snake Cher is a 'real' common phrase??"

No. It's the "wacky phrase" that fits the clue. Adding in the lost "arm" makes "SNAKE CHARMER" which is the recognizable (I wouldn't say "common") phrase.

As for A GOGO, that is certainly an accurate meaning and use: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%80_gogo_(phrase)

Joseph Welling 9:50 AM  

The Chicago Manual of Style lists "ISA" or "IS" as abbreviations for the book of Isaiah:


Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

For me as a Certifiable Median Solver*, this was a fine, fun puzzle. Too bad it ran afoul of the Day of the Week vs. Difficulty rule. (But done with no Googles, no write-overs, etc.)

(*Finished 289 out of 580 at the ACPT -- can't get much more median than that.)

Matt 10:13 AM  

Honestly, my reaction as I went through the puzzle was the same as Rex, except mine also included, "Man I really can't wait to see what Rex has to say about this one, because this should be good."

And I was not disappointed. :D

Casco Kid 10:19 AM  

As MRBEAN hid behind MorgaN in the shadows of my memory, I had to google for TORV, BaBE Daniels (there is one), and the BABA/ALIA Natick and guessed BrI rather than BWI. Dope-slap there. Ended with 3 googles and 3 errors in 50 minutes. Par for a Thursday.

MetaRex 10:38 AM  

Did a quick Eseometer count using my toughest system for today's puzz and Evan's second fill w/ four cheaters removed...for Evan's, came up with -19 across and -23 1/2 down plus 38 blocks for a total of -80 1/2. For David's, came up with -26 1/2 across and -34 down plus 42 blocks for a total of -102 1/2.

The middle two themers gave me a powerful if also sad and kinda twisted image/sense memory of the 1980s AIDS era in NYC...this is a rare puzz w/ a theme that can make you cry if you give it a chance...

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Way too many obscure proper names and then no fun pay off with these ridiculous theme answers.
DNF so maybe its sour grapes.
I wonder if it was a DNF for Rex as well. Would he tell us?
How 'bout it Rex?

norax 10:48 AM  

Wow, I never found myself basically unable to solve a Tuesday before, in...8 years of doing the puzzle virtually every day? Even though I got the theme pretty fast, TORV and BWI and ISA pretty much sunk me.

Cea 10:52 AM  

What does GarmENT DISTRICT have to do with aristocrats? And DEATH W(arm)E DOVER. Dover sole? White cliffs of Dover? Ugggggh.

mac 10:52 AM  

Odd solve and definitely not a Tuesday, but I had some fun with it.

Don't know TCBY and didn't think of British West Indies, Torv new to me but I know Mr. Bean, Beast had to be. I don't normally have that many issues early week.

@loren: you've got my vote.

Yes, where is @acme?

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

totally agree with norax - a DNF for a Tuesday?? TORV,MRBEAN,BEBE,BWI,ISA killed me- pretty sucky for a Tuesday

Steve J 11:11 AM  

It'd be interesting to somehow determine what the consensus rating is of a puzzle based on comments here. I don't recall seeing anything get as negative a reaction as today's puzzle, not even some of David Steinberg's roughest effort (I pick him out only because reaction to his puzzles seems to consistently be the most polarizing). This is the closest thing to universal opprobrium for a puzzle as I can recall seeing.

For the record, I also had my first Tuesday DNF in years. Didn't see AGOGO because I had rENT DISTRICT, and like many, I was tripped up by BWI, TORV and BEBE, all crossing DEATH W(arm)ED OVER, a phrase I could not see and still couldn't parse when I saw the completed grid.

Z 11:12 AM  

@Cea and others - Garment District is the common phrase. Say A FAREWELL TO ARMS to get the phrase GENT DISTRICT. A GENT DISTRICT would be an area for aristocrats. Restated, start with a common phrase, take out the letters A-R-M from the phrase, then clue the new, "whacky" phrase."

Malsdemare 11:14 AM  

There are days when the puzzle speaks to me, and even if it's hard, we have a lovely conversation, sort of like trying to chat in a language you're just learning. This one, if it was talking at all, spoke in Urdu and had a speech impediment. Put me in the "not fun" column.

@lms. Don't you dare start pruning your commentary. I skip the vicious rants but adore your quirky observations even when the wander off down paths most of us would have blindly stumbled by.

RnRGhost57 11:14 AM  

Didn't find it all that tough but it sure was tortured in places. SNAKECHER should perhaps become a standard part of crossword lingo, like "Natick."

Gill I. P. 11:17 AM  

I'm not sure what to say...But I will state that this puzzle in NO way is garbage, tortured or sick...It's really quite ingenious. I love B words: BABA, BOOBOO, BEBE, BUFF, BEAST, BRAID, BIO and BAD BALTIC. Maybe the theme was really about B movies?
@jberg: You seem to make the same mistakes as I do...I plunked in NOOR without (B)linking an eye.
Any way, I agree with @Bob K...Right puzzle just wrong day for it to appear.
@Loren...You are always the bit of sunshine most of us need everyday. I don't like thunder storms.
@Andrea has been AWOL for too long - We need to check up on her. While I'm at it where has @jackj disappeared to? I'd love to hear his take on this puzzle.

Masked and AnonymoUUs 11:20 AM  

ALIA AGOGO! Where's AnoaBob?!

ITA ISA ESA ASI! Fab-U-lous!!! Actually, these were originally ARMITA, ISARMA, EARMSA, and ASIARM.

BWI! This is clearly clued better as doing something startin with a B, (W)hile (I)ntoxicated. I smell a list of possibilities...

* BURGLARizing AL.
* BOOBOOing.
* BUFFing.
* BRAIDing.
* BALTICing.
* BEBEing.
* BIOing.
* BEASTing SNAKECHER. (M&A's personal fave)
* BABAing.

And Another Thingy:
Liked the clever hidden conjunction subthemers:
* NOR W.
* T OR V.
* D ANT E. (close as I could get, sorry)

day-um. This here puz is a thUmbsUp-treasure trove of stuff. Y'all really missed out, @4063... Real nice sputterin, tho...


Ludyjynn 11:24 AM  

Changing the subject---my NYT delivery guy couldn't get through yesterday due to our freak snowstorm, so he brought both papers today and I immediately attacked Mon and Tues puzzles, happily completing both.

What follows is a true story about Jim Palmer. A longtime Orioles fan in frequent attendance at the now defunct Memorial Stadium, I had the privilege of watching him pitch for hours on end in his prime. One day, a friend and I were at Cross Keys Inn, where they rented both tennis and racquetball courts by the hour. We wandered around the RB courts while waiting for our tennis court to open up. As we watched
a match from behind a plexiglass full-length back wall, I commented to my friend that the server, who had his back to us while in the service box, was Jim Palmer. She rolled her eyes at me. All of a sudden the guy turned around and, lo and behold, it was he in the flesh, wearing tight white shorts. looking gorgeous. My friend looked at me in disbelief and asked how the hell I knew it was him w/o seing his face. My response: Do you know how many hours I have spent watching him pitch? I'd recognize that ass anywhere!

I hope I just made somebody smile.

M and Also 11:35 AM  

Surely somebody found this puz disarming?

Aaaaaah. I sense the groans...

14 words. No, wait ... now it's up to 16...
No, wait...

evil doug 11:44 AM  

I heard that Acme's exclamation key broke, so she can't post until it gets fixed!!!!

And jackj's problem was similar; his period key would not work, so he could only create undiagrammable, run-on sentences (you know, indefatigueably long, longer even than a typical Muse post, longer than the Empire State building is high!) that would go on and on and on--until one would realize that he was totally out of breath just reading it, grinding through the verbage relentlessly, tirelessly, like Sherpas pressing their wealthy clients higher and higher on Mt. Everest in the face of bitter cold and monsoon winds, ever sucking the very wind from their shrunken lungs, and edema squeezed sense from their brains as they plodded ever so slowly up the rugged ridges, never more than a heartbeat away from tumbling off the face into Nepal or possibly even China, so jackj wants to get that period key fixed!


Gill I. P. 11:50 AM  

@Evil...Oh My God...I have tears running down my face
@ACME. Here, take some !!!!!111
@jackj........they are all yours

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

A tough puzzle? Yes! "Garbage?" "Crap?" "WTF?" C'mon, folks; lighten up. We all do puzzles for fun; stop acting like petulant children.Altogether now: a deep breath. Then, in the words of the anger management instructors, "FIDO." Forget it; drive on.

Gubdude 11:59 AM  

@ Two Ponies

I highly doubt Rex got a DNF. And if he did I think he would tell us. I don't read everyday (usually read M-F) but the only time I recall him saying he did not finish was when he mixed up UTEp instead of UTES, crossing REp instead of RES. I don't remember when that was or if I'm remembering it exactly right, but I think that's it.

Dick Swart 12:00 PM  

Easy! If a WWI novel is not "All Quiet on the Western Front" then it has to be "A Farewell to Arms".

I don't know what the supposed other clues added to help the theme were about, but the most obvious to me is that the puzzle contains all the letters needed to spell "Earnest Hemingway" and "Jake Barnes" if you don't mind calling him "_ake" and using some letters twice.

Sarah 12:08 PM  


.eye eht steem naht elzzup siht ot erom s'erehT


Lewis 12:29 PM  

I smile every time I think of MRBEAN.

I was thinking BRI, and I had DEATHREDO... which made sense, and this held me up. Lot's of stuff I didn't know, but the crosses were fair.

Rex, did you like the puzzle?

Evil, I have to say this. You are smart, you are funny, and you are insightful, and I love your comments, EXCEPT when you castigate well-meaning members of this community. It's bullying and it's bad form.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

I show up to read Loren Muse

EdFromHackensack 12:48 PM  

Finished the hardcopy w/ no errors. But I thought for sure something must be askew as SNAKECHER could not be right, could it? My real big problem was I wrote in farewelltoOARMS instead of AFAREWELLTOARMS initially and it got messy to correct as I use pen. Then I thought "If this is puzzle is correct, Rex is going to have a field day". Was disappointed he bowed out.

Danp 12:51 PM  

BWI could have been clued "SFO opponent in 2013 Super Bowl".

Sarah 12:57 PM  

That would have been a retarded clue Danp.

mathguy 12:59 PM  

Put me down with the minority of those who liked it. I agree that the four phrases with ARM removed were tortured but had they been neat the puzzle would have been too easy.

I don't understand the complaints that the puzzle was too hard for a Tuesday. Do some of us allot an amount of time for puzzle-solving based based on the day of the week?

Sarah 1:08 PM  


Before you critique this puzzle

1) Go to XWordInfo
2) Stare at this puzzle for 10-20 minutes

Hopefully, you'll then understand.

mathguy 1:10 PM  

I forgot to mention ...

I was expecting that some of us would have an idea of why Rex couldn't or wouldn't say more. Was he involved in the creation of the puzzle?

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

As far as I know, this could be a contest puzzle.

Sarah 1:13 PM  

It's certainly within the realm of possibility.

Numinous 1:16 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith
A house can do both when it's RAZED to the ground.
I haven't come up with a paraprosdokian phrase for you yet but I still want to be your friend.
Wish I'd know you when I lived in Morgantown. Can you still get the best moonshine in WV in the parking lot of the state capital on Friday nights? Probably need it after a friday puzzle.
David's video wouldn't come up for me. Youtube tells me there are copyright issues with some EMI copyright content.
If you stop posting and rambling and story-telling and going on and on writing your heart out for the record word count, I'll stop coming here!

DNF'd here because I carelessly had British West Endies. Sheesh. I struggled with this. Took me a long time with no googles so I'm pleased that I managed to get 99.5% of it. Do I like this puzzle? No. Do I dislike this puzzle? No. I think it was a worthy adversary and I salute it.

Oh cool, it's Tuesday, I can do the puzzle and get on with my day, SURPRISE!!!!!!!!! Heh. Surprises are good. They keep (General Yu) awake. They make the grass greener, the snow whiter and the flowers smell better. They challenge assumptions and make (General Yu) look at the world more closely.

Thank you Mr. Kowng and Mr. Shortz for shaking my day!

EdFromHackensack 1:17 PM  

Sarah, Please tell us what you are talking about. Your cryptic messages are doing me no good and I dont have 10-20 minutes to go to a website and stare. thanks darling!

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

I didn't like this puz either.
I enjoy reading Rex, but in reading his rant about Sunday's puz, which I did like, it struck me that he never likes the theme. I'd much appreciate suggestions, from the NYT archive, of puzzles with great themes. (I already know about the bobdole/clinton masterpiece.)

retired_chemist 1:19 PM  

@ DanP - funny!

Hard here - I am usually about the 70th percentile of NYT solvers and today I look to be about 35th percentile. So harder for me than for most. I'm calling it a Friday with a theme.

But, enjoyable anyway. Took forever to see the theme because the (arm)s were in different places. REALLY needed the reveal and it came late.

Thanks, Mr. Kwong.

David 1:20 PM  

Cobalt horse. Amber owl. Silver ox. Red donkey. Emerald rooster. Oh by the way, the sheep can be left ____.

I don't get it. Anyone care to explain?

David Cole 1:22 PM  

check out the first letters of all clues. Not that it's helping much....

Anonymous 1:23 PM  


wreck 1:32 PM  

Episodes of "LOST" maybe?? I did not watch it, but seems to fit.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Ouch. Themers not at all amusing. Fill was lacking everything.

I loved Fringe and still didn't know her last name.

Absolutely no clue on 52A, 57A, 47D, 42D and guessed at 55D (I should know it, but it doesn't stick).

No joke: captcha is "the zenPub"

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@David - As there's no x in the grid I doubt you've found an ox, silver or not.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:41 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:39 PM - Try 58 A.

But I would appreciate an explanation of the greater meaning of all this.

schmuzz 1:41 PM  


oh, yes!

i laughed out loud at your story about jim palmer!

sounds like something i would say!

chefbea 1:46 PM  

OK..I did what @David Cole said. I got it!!! But what does it have to do with the puzzle??

David Cole 1:53 PM  

@anonymous 1:23 nails much of it. The 1st letters of the paired colors/animals spell out CHAOS ORDER. Now, what does the sheep have to do with it?

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Removing/keeping CHAOS and/or ORDER from the grid appears to be a dead end.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:02 PM  

Didn't Rex always have a link to "XWord info" in one of his sidebars? I can't find it now.

Why is there no hint of this apparently masterful yet pointless meta - meta construction in Deb Amlen's conversation with the constructor?

And again, what, if anything, is it supposed to mean?

Alby 2:22 PM  

If it leaves Rex speechless, the puzzle is pretty good.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

As my Pappy always said, F$#! the sheep.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

Sucked. Enough said.
West side was horrible.
More like a medium Thursday.

Evan 2:35 PM  

This is a wild idea, but I'm trying to line up a few wheels on top of each other in Photoshop -- the Chinese Zodiac, the Greek Zodiac, birthstones....I figure there must be some payoff beyond CHAOS/ORDER, but I'm getting nowhere with it.

Last Magic Bullet 2:35 PM  

I wonder if David Kwong also has a second puz scheduled very soon...?

Perhaps mysteriously referenced by this one?

Was @4063 perhaps alerted to this, makin him so weirder-than-usual actin? In which case I wonder what over/under odds he was alayin on this kind of runnin conversation happenin.

I just luv conspiracy theories.


Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Same exact for me. Had BRI and DEATHREDOVER until it clicked. But overall I didn't hate this puzzle as much as others seem to.

Fugu 2:51 PM  

To me CHAOS ORDER suggests anagrams, but I haven't found anything good.
Door search?

ANON B 2:53 PM  

Today confirms it. I don't
think there is one commenter
here that I could ever have as a friend or even an acquaintance. They are all so full of themselves.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

You are what you eat.

wreck 2:59 PM  

... a clue to the missing 777??

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

All those Naticks of names in the southeast corner made it impossible, especially since I never could see any connection between the revealer and the wacky phrases. Definitely the Tuesday puzzle out of hell.

h_lina_k 3:04 PM  

I typed "wedover" into multiple search engines and I see no evidence that that is a term at all. I expect the three letter fill to be made up, but really that was impossible.

Freddy Murcks 3:06 PM  

I am glad to know that i am not the only one who found this puzzle to be kind of ridiculous for a Tuesday. I would have found this to be challenging regardless of the day of the week, but it seemed a bit inappropriate for Tues.

Even knowing the theme and having all of the squares for Death Wed Over, it took me FOREVER to figure out where the 'arm' was taken out. (It's death wARMed over, by the way)

Mohair Sam 3:25 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith. Yeah, I did see someone complaining about your verbosity. Wonder what drives someone to count other people's words on a blog of all places?

Your posts are fun. Keep typing away, don't let the bastards get you down.

Two Ponies 3:39 PM  

"Oh, by the way, the sheep can be left ___"
Left what? Blank?

This confusing but intriguing puzzle-within-a-puzzle has me scratching my head. What am I missing?
Is this why Rex didn't do his usual write up?

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

So . . .

What does Cobalt Horse, etc. have to do with A Farewell to Arms?

sanfranman59 3:49 PM  

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

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

Tue 12:47, 8:20, 1.53, 100%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 8:46, 5:11, 1.69, 100%, über-Challenging

I think Will accidentally put a Thursday puzzle in his Tuesday pile. The current 8:46 median solve time in the Top 100 group is 1:41 above the previous high among the 250 Tuesdays in my spreadsheet (in case you care, the previous Tuesday high was Steve Riley's 6/19/2012 puzzle). And while the All Solvers median time is not as extreme, I think that's probably because a lot of folks didn't manage to solve the puzzle. I was certainly pretty frustrated by the time I got to the end of it and kept asking myself, "It's Tuesday, right?" The pop culture stuff was almost entirely beyond my ken. I didn't know ALIA (I'm a little embarrassed about my ignorance of that one), AGOGO, LOEB, DANTE (as Beatrice's lover, that is), TORV, BEBE (Neuwirth, yes; Daniels, no).
ISA, MR BEAN, NORW & BWI also gave me fits. This was definitely not a Tuesday puzzle for me. I think it may be my first-ever Tuesday DNF (I Googled to get LOEB, TORV and BEBE ... hence, a DNF in my book). Ouch!

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Sitting in the audience at TED, where the speaker was David Kwong, and now the puzzle has infinitely more color :P


Joseph Welling 4:20 PM  


Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Too bad it sucked for the rest of the world.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

This will go down as an historic puzzle.


chefbea 4:23 PM  

@two ponies I saw it as...the sheep can bleat.

Ellen S 4:32 PM  

@Loren, I thought only one person had the irrelevance to word-count your comments/stories/MUSings. The rest of us love them.

@AliasZ from yesterday (I think) and @Loren, again, I'm having the same problem reported above with links to YouTube videos. I get an error message that the video has been blocked in my country.

Where am I?

Happy to report that when I searched YouTube for "David Kwong Prestidigitation" (or however it's spelled), I could watch the video just fine, which is good, because that was a really impressive performance, Mr. Kwong, and today's puzzle as well. Thanks.

Joseph Welling 4:34 PM  

trr said...
"This will go down as an historic puzzle."

Only if it reveals the location of Malaysia Airlines 370 and/or connects with the detection of gravity waves.

All right--it's pretty cool even if it doesn't do those things.

Doc John 4:47 PM  

Whew! Glad I'm not alone in finding this one difficult. I was stuck where everyone else was and it was only after letting go of Re- in the phrase was I somehow able to get DEATH WARMED OVER.
But please- three (three!) Natick-y names/references crossing this one phrase, not to mention the debacle that is ISA. Will must really have liked DWO.
Not my favorite puzzle of the year.

Howard B 4:50 PM  

I could not finish it either. I had 2 unknown crossings in the last theme answer (BWI, TORV). Hope that mucks up the stats a bit ;).

Pete 5:04 PM  

Ok, so this was scheduled for a Tuesday because David Kwong is giving a TED Talk between 11:00 and 12:45 today? Where the audience won't have done the puzzle but see the gimick and we won't get to see the gimick?

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.

wreck 5:05 PM  

Don Quixote related??
From Deb Amlen's Wordplay blog

Constructor Notes:
I came up with the idea for this puzzle years ago and am grateful that it’s finally seeing print. It was inspired by one of my all-time favorite books. That book is well-worn and dog-eared, and sits on my coffee table with “Don Quixote” and “Expert at the Card Table”.

What I love so much about crosswords is that they ask something of you. So often today we find ourselves consuming, glued to our computers, watching the latest Internet video. But puzzles allow us to turn that off and solve!

I hope your Tuesday morning was by brightened a little by this puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed constructing it!

wreck 5:10 PM  

Order/Chaos could be magic related

chefwen 5:15 PM  

Cute little puzz. over at the LA Times today with a shout out to our own M & A at 10D.

wreck 5:30 PM  

I am now guessing Rex did not want to comment on this puzzle, because it was ran for the constructor's speech at the TED presentation today. It was all a "private" inside "joke" pertaining to his presentation he could explain to his audience.

John V 5:48 PM  

So, this is a meta puzzle where we need to go to TED talks for the revealer? Truly?

Samantha Gattsek 5:52 PM  

I am so glad you said this was a hard theme...because "snake cher"....really??? This puzzle made no sense to me at all.

JTHurst 7:05 PM  

I win, I win, I win

Over 110 posts. IT shows nobody likes a 'pollyanna' puzzle because there is no fodder for comments. (confused - refer to earlier @JTH post).

I suppose I will receive the Questinia Schmendrick award.

Edac2day 7:57 PM  

Am I the only person who thought 'Geico EGOT' for 64?

Ann Heil 8:17 PM  

When it did the puzzle I mostly noticed how hard it was for a Tuesday, with a nasty BWI ISA cross. I somehow British West Indies oozed up from the recesses of my brain and I went with that. From the posts it sounds like this was some of meta, which are hopeless for me. It appears it ran on Tuesday to coincide with the TED talk. I hope someone explains it when they figure it out.

Clueless in Texas 8:35 PM  

I watch TED talks all the time--not that it mattered today. I was looking forward to a fun, mindless Tuesday puzzle after a grueling day of meetings, but no. I sit down with this and immediately think, "What the what?!"

I knew BWI only becasue a friend of mine sailed in BVI and it led to a discussion about those islands. Again, not that it mattered because I had no idea what DEATH WE DOVER meant. I looked at GENTDISTRICT for a long time, too, to figure out how "arm" was removed from it. (Thank you, Z, for the enlightenmient!)

I knew Dante from having been a literature major many years ago, but that was a "gimme" for later in the week--not a Tuesday.

Horrified that I turned to Google for help today to finish.

I want to be upset with the constructor, but in the end, I blame Will for his lack of editing and choosing which puzzles to publish on which days of the week.


Clueless in Texas 8:39 PM  

One more comment: Rex, BWI, is for the Baltimore Washington Airport, not in the BWI. :-)

Sarah 9:00 PM  

Seems I can finally make a verdict on the crossword.

A puzzle full of downright shitty entries that was ostensibly run in order to forward the magician's career. Meanwhile, the solvers are left with an incomplete revealer and essentially told, "f*** you".

Absolute shitcrap.

wreck 9:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 9:08 PM  

@ sarah

... which is why Rex wrote:

"I don't even know where to begin, so I won't. I can't. Well I can. But I won't. I can't and won't."

"I honestly can't say anything more. Maybe someday I'll be able to explain why. But not today."

Will ran a non-Tuesday puzzle today to help the constructor pull off a magic trick.

Sarah 9:09 PM  

And now I would like to defame the people involved in the creation of this puzzle, who almost certainly knew about this (assuming that any clue could start with 1 in 5 letters, and a paltry 5% of clues needed revision, that's already less than 1 in 1000 chance that this is just a "fluke" that managed to get by the NYT editors.

The lack of integrity is appalling. You basically told your solvers, "oh, this one little magician is more important than the THOUSANDS of solvers that are going to solve it. They can have their ALIAS, BABAS, PARAs, AMATIs, ITAs, CPAS, AGOGOs, DFLATs, TCBYs, RELOs, ITSOs, EDINAs, CADs, ESAs, NORWs, BWIs, ALBs, ASIs, KONs, BEBEs, SERAs and SSWs.

Downright disgusting, NYT. Good luck surviving next year, a******s.

Sarah 9:11 PM  

"Will ran a non-Tuesday puzzle today to help the constructor pull off a magic trick."

I'll tell you what really happened. Will ran a non-Tuesday puzzle today to help the constructor pull off a magic trick; meanwhile, thousands of solvers are left with a downright shitty puzzle; possibly the worst Tuesday in years, based on the comments here. THAT'S what happened.

Rex Parker 9:18 PM  

What Sarah said. And what some of the *nicest* people I know are saying. Utter Fail.

Peter Phillips 9:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gill I. P. 9:39 PM  

Wow...Sarah and Rex in one sentence....
The vitriol is precious - well, predictable and... (feel free to fill in the rest of the sentence)

Anonymous 9:46 PM  


Peter Phillips 9:51 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael 9:54 PM  

I still have no idea what's going with the first letters of the clues forming words. And I didn't see a couple of the arms. Still I managed to solve the puzzle, thinking it was surprising hard for a Thursday. But I knew something was up when I saw 162 comments...

michael 10:03 PM  

Surprised by the general puzzlement with BWI..

Z 10:08 PM  

I tried to watch the TEDtalk, but apparently if you missed the live stream you are SOL. Oh well. As I said 13 hours ago, the puzzle was crunchy, especially for a Tuesday, but hardly worthy of the level of disdain so many have heaped on it. If the trick made it neater, great. Without access to the trick, though, this feels a little too much like coitus interruptus. Did Onan make an appearance today?

Z 10:17 PM  

Will Shortz explains why he did it

Son of Sarah 10:24 PM  

This puzzle ruined my life! I will be canceling my subscription in the morning and wiping my a$$ with the copies of the paper I still have lying around. It may have been the best puzzle once upon a time, but now the "editor" sees it as his own private sandbox to whack off into (jerking off his fellow self-aggrandizing word nerds with his other hand).

Sarah 10:33 PM  

Moral of the article: your friend is more important than 50000 innocents. Well, at least that's what I got out of it.

But hey, the U.S. government does it every day too.

Sarah 10:57 PM  

Thinking over that moral, it doesn't really make a lot of sense here. Assuming that Will Shortz has quite a few friends that solve crosswords, this puzzle probably hurt more of his friends than it helped. So really, it was a stupid decision regardless, no?

Colleen 11:06 PM  

Disgusted, disappointed, and really disillusioned. There are so many people like me, Will Shortz, who look forward to doing the NYT puzzle every day; why do we matter to you less than your friends and their stunts?

wreck 11:12 PM  

What would have been magic would be for the gimmick to have something to do with the actual puzzle. All we got was a poor puzzle - especially for a Tuesday.

The Addams Family 11:25 PM  

This crossword evidently helped turn ORDER into CHAOS, at least at this blog today.

We have now performed our "sawing a crossword in half" trick, and are moving on to another day, hoping that the Attack of Sarahzilla has magically disappeared.

OISK 12:35 AM  

Got home late from work - thought I'd just brush off the Tuesday puzzle and go to bed. 15 minutes later…TUESDAY??? I finished with no errors, but Bebe with Beast was an informed guess, never watched Xmen. But unlike many others here, I would not have complained had this been a Thursday, or even a Friday. Not a bad puzzle, really, just the wrong day of the week for it.

sanfranman59 1:55 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:01, 6:15, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 12:39, 8:20, 1.52, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:59, 0.99, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 5:11, 1.53, 100%, über-Challenging (highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)

Susan McConnell 8:39 AM  

Wow...I'm just catching up on all of this mishigas and Cannot Believe this collusion happened. Shaking my head. Not fun, not funny, and totally taking advantage of the many to "help David". Just wow. So many times I am frustrated with Rex's harshness toward Will, but man, oh man...he deserves it Big Time for this one.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Now that the magic trick has been revealed: (a) the puzzle was hard for a Tuesday but not impossible to solve; (b) the trick was pretty cool and (c) I wish you all would stop whining.

Burghman 11:40 AM  

My take is... As a standalone puzzle, it was fine - definitely not Tuesdayish, but I try to solve them all regardless of the day and don't get bent out of shape if things seem out of order. The awkward fill on some places was definitely mysterious, and lent itself perhaps to a meta. Then, reading various blogs hinted strongly at a meta. I let that get the best of me and spent way too much time looking for the meta/competition/whatever.

In the future, it would be nice to have a warning: "this puzzle is standalone; it has hidden meaning but it can't be discerned by studying the puzzle alone." Though that would certainly raise the ire of folks as well.

Richard Edward 1:15 PM  

It was a dick move by two enormous egomaniacs.

Sleuth 12:24 AM  


Thanks for the anagram! I enjoyed solving it. Having the "c" actually (groan) stand for "c"? Nice.


Karl Ronn 3:21 AM  

This was hard for Tuesday, but it was an amazing trick at the TED conference broadcast to 60 countries live. When the video comes out, see it on TED.com There is an anagram in the clues and it related to the live trick done. Having sen the trick I was expecting the puzzle would be Wednesday difficulty since the constraints were so difficult to make the cluing work. I was fortunate to be at TED sitting right next to the woman who was called to the stage. She was amazed as was he whole crowd.

Robert Houdin 5:30 AM  

Glad to hear the trick's better than the puzzle. Wouldn't take much.

And I think you mean acrostic, not anagram.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  


Actually, I meant cryptogram. I stand (head bowed) corrected.


Anonymous 10:18 AM  

This sucks.

Torb 10:39 AM  

toughest tuesday puz ever. finished but rife w goony clues. real obscure fill. great theme.

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

To stay with the Icinic Novel theme, this was "a tale of two puzzles." One, a brilliantly executed, famously rvealed theme--rather hard for a Tuesday, methinks; and two...the rest of it. We had to wade through half a dozen WOES--on a Tuesday, fercryinoutloud! 18, 42 and 50d; 13, 49 and 57a. Add to that the incredibly BAD (even more incredibly, IT WAS USED BEFORE!) NORW. There is just no excuse for that. Nowhere else on Earth outside of crosswords do you see NORW. I threw the flag for it the first time, so out it comes again.

I don't know if there's any way to fix the fill on this one, but the price for that theme payoff was too high. Thumbs down.

5's full of 2's. See ya Thursday!

rain forest 11:53 AM  

tough for a Tuesday, but Uber-challenging? I don't know. I finished, reasonably quickly, and liked it a lot. Maybe some people couldn't distinguish between the 'real' phrase and the wacky one, but I thought they all were clever and fresh, and the revealer was great. Guessed on the BEAST/BEBE cross, and TORV came on crosses. I don't know what @Rex was on about-cheating?

Solving in Seattle 2:02 PM  

I solved the puzzle and then studied it to understand the missing "arms" gimmick. It brought a smile. Then I came to the blog and was highly amused by the 188 comments, including one from our resident cynic, @Evil. (Although, given the recent tragedy on Everest, I think even he would have chosen a different metaphor.)

My main comment is that we have free will, people. If you don't like a person's comments over time, then don't read them. I happen to think that there is a place for ACMe, Evil, LMS, M&A, the two Zs, Dirigonzo, our ref Spacecraft, et.al., in this little universe of Rex. And I wouldn't try to change any of them.

As for David's puzzle, no it didn't fit the "Tuesday Mold," but so what? Did it ruin your day? Your week? Don't rise up in arms, just accept that Will will throw a curve ball occasionally. Live with it.

I agree with @Spacy's penalty hankie, but it was still a fun and clever puzzle. Thanks, David and Will.

@Diri, liked your straight flush yesterday.

Two pair. Fold.

DMG 3:05 PM  

Got the theme at SNAKECHER, and managed the rest of the puzzle after a long pause at 17A. With BU in place I wanted Mr. Gore to BUrst in. And I was equally stumped at the aristocrats ..DISTRICT. A double Natick as these both relied on the same, unknown to me, crosses. Went away. Came back and using what my calculus professor called "brute force and awkwardness" worked out GENT which somehow led me to taking a stab at LOEB, and suddenly realized the missing ARM belonged to AL. Wow, I finished!!! If this is Tuesday, what will Wednesday bring???

Full house, 3's and 6's bows to @Spacecraft's.

Dirigonzo 3:18 PM  

Wow, If I wait a while I could become the 200th commenter - there must be a prize for that?!

Other than needing lemon for my fish dish, and wanting YESyes as my emphatic affirmative I managed to finish with no other write-overs and I was even able to correctly discern where all the ARMS went - yay me! If anyone missed the comments explaining the raison d'etre of the puzzle scroll back up to the link provided by @Z and it will all be made clear (well, more or less).

It appears I have just nipped @spacy with 5s full of 3s.

leftcoastTAM 4:17 PM  

I'm with the apparent consensus that Will put this one in the wrong pile. The question is, which pile? I think it's a challenging but gettable Thursday. Discombobulating to see it on a Tuesday, and it took me a bit of time to recover.

rain forest 4:19 PM  

Wow! A second comment from me. Went for lunch and a walk and came back to read all (well, most) of the comments, and I'm literally shocked: first of all, that some people can get deranged because maybe a trick was played on them; secondly, that we have a non-typical puzzle for a particular day of the week. Is there room for some perspective in here? The last time I checked (just now), this is a crossword puzzle, not the invasion of Ukraine. I won't watch the Ted talk, but it appears from what I've read, this is some sort of complex puzzle cum trick, complete with a cryptogram that may or may not mean something. Way to go, David and Will.

Controversial, certainly, but for me, just a lot of fun.

Red Valerian 5:13 PM  

I came here to complain about "ALB" being Edmonton's province. It's never abbreviated that way. It's either AB (relatively recent post office) or Alta (old-timey).

But, um, who cares about that?! The number of comments is insane! So is the content of a number of them. (no offence, insane people) I'm with @SOS and @rain forest. It's a crossword puzzle--get a grip!

@Son of Sarah "This puzzle ruined my life" I could have sworn you were joking until I read your last line. You need help.

Gill I. P. 5:42 PM  

@Red Valerian and all you Syndies.....HA!!!see what we put up with...;-)

leftcoastTAM 5:45 PM  

For perspective on this puzzle, see sanfranman's stats and comment. (Not a federal case here, just enjoying the show.)

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

After spending much time reading each and every comment, I suggest Mr. Kwong's puzzle be presented to the United Nations Assembly and/or the World Court at the Hague, for adjudication.

Ron Diego 3:15 4/22 (La Mesa,CA)

Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

@Gil I.P. - you know you have an open invitation to rejoin us, right? Actually I don't think you ever left syndiland in spirit - you're just posting 5 weeks earlier (kind of like I do on Saturdays, out of necessity).

(Still going for comment #200, but not quite yet.)

Solving in Seattle 6:23 PM  

@Rainy, I'm surprised at you for not discerning that Kwong's clues and puzzle answers contains long held secrets that make "The Da Vinci code" look like a game of charades.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

This is officially comment #199.

Ron Diego

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