Isolated hill surrounded by lava / SUN 3-9-14 / Radiohead head Yorke / Haitian couple / Snapchat demographic / FSU player for short /

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Nosy News" — two-word phrases where the "zee" sound is added to back end of first word, creating wackiness (clued "?"-style)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: EUROMART (86A: Continental free trade group) —
[I honestly can't find any definition of what this is. On The Internet. I cannot find. It seems to be another word for "European Market," which is possibly something to do with eurobonds or eurocurrency or some other euro-prefixed thing, but seriously wtf? The EEC is known as the Common Market, but I have no idea what relationship that entity has to this answer]
• • •

Did a very, very brutal puzzle today by this same constructor—the infamous Puzzle 5 at the ACPT, to be exact. It was so much better than this puzzle that I'm having a hard time giving this one a fair shake. Add -zee, get wackiness—as the concept goes, this is just fine. But for me, there was too much randomness: I'd get the front end of phrase, but then the back end = ??? OIL ... HOLE? SKI ... RACE? EURO ... MART? This kept happening. STEPTOE???? (8A: Isolated hill surrounded by lava) I'm sure it's a thing, but it's not making this puzzle any more entertaining. Add to this oddness the fact that the cluing was obviously deliberately ratcheted up this week (after week's of super-easiness), and the solving experience comes up less enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, I actually welcome the harder cluing on Sundays. It's just that when there's just hardness and no real payoff for overcoming that hardness, I don't get a satisfied feeling. The truth is, this is probably an above-average Sunday, but it's definitely not an above-average Quigley.

I'm still at the tournament, and I need to go back down and be social. So that's it, blog-wise, for tonight. I'll do Puzzle of the Week later in the week—maybe tomorrow. I'll also have pictures and tales from the tournament weekend. As of right now, after Puzzle 6, I'm in 53rd place, despite having no errors. This is partly because I'm just solving for "fun" and not "competing," and partly because I really tanked Brendan's Puzzle 5. I mean, I finished it, but most of my peers beat me by like 10 minutes. Total disaster. As for the tournament as a whole, the familiar names are at the top of the leaderboard. You can see results here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:35 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. Typical for a BEQ.  I guess I'm so used to doing puzzles from his site that this one felt a little flat. Although, the theme clues were genuinely goofy/nonsensical and there was a smattering of fun fill...CATBIRD, MOSHERS, UCSB (my daughter's alma mater)...Rex hit the nail on the head.

And, I needed an assist from my bride so DNF.  I couldn't decide between MINORCA and MENORCA (turns out both are correct) and when fire engine wouldn't fit I asked for help spelling CERISE which I may have seen before but don't remember.   STEP TOE was also a WOE. 

John Child 1:02 AM  

Weird clues, obscurities, WOE upon WTF. Twice as long as a normal Sunday, and I wish I had the time back. Third puzzle in a row that wasn't enough fun to warrant the effort.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

I got the theme very early - with EASYCOMMERCE, which may have been the fourth or fifth thing I put in - and thought it would be easy. Oops. I had troubles in the southeast and had to Google-cheat to find IPSWICH. I had ADORES for ISINTO, and had somehow convinced myself that IDITOROD was a glove brand I'd never heard of - quite plausibly, I think, even though the spelling seemed off. Hey, it crossed BOISEWONDER properly. Suffice to say I was very messed up in that area.

That was the only real cheating, although I did Google to confirm STEPTOE - which I couldn't do, since that definition isn't even in the first two pages of results. I kept thinking it was going to turn out to be a Hawaiian word. Between EUROMART and STEPTOE, I was quite surprised when my solution was accepted.

Finished in an hour and two minutes, which was typical of my Sunday times a couple of years ago, but around 20-30 minutes more slowly than is normal now.

Steve J 1:40 AM  

Agreed with @jae that this felt flat compared to what I'm used to with BEQ. There was a healthy dose of obscurity: I've never run across EUROMART as anything other than the name of a shop, and the internet doesn't appear to have done so either, plus STEPTOE and a clue for OPHELIA that didn't have me remotely thinking Shakespeare, let alone "Hamlet". Then there were a couple green paint answers: OIL HOLE and brie CHEESE. Add in a near-Natick at CERISE/MINORCA. (I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the latter, since BEQ gave us the Natick to begin with.)

Liked most of the theme answers, and there was lots of BEQ's typical clever cluing, but I just didn't click with this one like I do most of his puzzles. Not entirely sure why, as aside from the things I noted above, there's nothing obvious wrong with this one, but it just felt like a little something-something was missing.

chefwen 3:56 AM  

What John Child said. Third in a row, yuck!

I let out an audible UGH when I saw BEQ was the constructor as I did yesterday with Mr. Steinberg. Just can't get on their wave length. Jon chastised me about jumping into a puzzle with a negative attitude, perhaps he is right. Got so close to finishing these, but it was not to be. STEPTOE messed me up today. Almost there, but just fell short. DANG!

Moly Shu 6:54 AM  

Agree with @Jae and @SteveJ about the flatness. BEQ's for me tend to be difficult and fun, this one just difficult. Let out an audible chuckle at OILHOLE, seemed eyepit-ish. Looking at the finished product, it is a fine puzzle. Just drove me slightly BANANAS

The Bard 7:19 AM  

Hamlet , Act IV, scene V

QUEEN GERTRUDE: I will not speak with her.

Gentleman: She is importunate, indeed distract:
Her mood will needs be pitied.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: What would she have?

Gentleman: She speaks much of her father; says she hears
There's tricks i' the world; and hems, and beats her heart;
Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,
That carry but half sense
: her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to collection; they aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures
yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

HORATIO: 'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Let her come in.


To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is,
Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss:
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

Danp 7:48 AM  

My mother used to call these contrived word combinations in theme puzzles "banana phrases" (mostly water, no nutrition?). So I liked the Southeast (BANANAS PHRASED). And that's about all she would want me to say about this puzzle.

AnnieD 8:11 AM  

If someone would be so kind, how is EDS post office workers for short?

This puzz was a matter of managing expectations for a BEQ puzzle is so high, that this one disappoints. On it's own, it's perfectly acceptable Sunday fare.

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

Easier than most Quigley puzzles for us, would rate it a medium. Started the puzzle with gimme RIPA, gimme SHES, and quickly filled OPHELIA off that. Ended puzzle struggling just below there because we insisted HOLYWRIT was HOLYWord.

I predicted headaches for some on IPSWICH and chuckled to see the mumbling by @anon 1:08. Lived near IPSWICH for a time, so it was a gimme here.

We'll join the group complaining about OILHOLE and EUROMART.

"STEPTOE and Son" was a wonderful British series in the '60s upon which was based Redd Foxx's "Sanford and Son."

GLR 8:26 AM  

@AnnieD - I took it to be "Post," like the name of a newspaper, and EDS are editors.

paulsfo 8:51 AM  

@Anonymous 1:08am: Try adding a relevant word; that helps a lot with google. I googled "STEPTOE lave", just now, and every hit on the first page is spot on.

I liked this one a fair amount because it was hard, but fair. Though it was not, I admit, full of fun clues.

@GLR: Thanks I couldn't figure out the cluing for EDs, either. A pretty lame clue, IMO.

AnnieD 8:58 AM  

Thank you that you said it, it makes perfect sense!

Andrew Morrison 10:05 AM  

Medium. No complaints. Fun challenge.

Sir Hillary 10:59 AM  

Does anyone else have an issue with the DERR/EYRE crossing? I guessed it correctly, but clued that way it feels like a Natick of the worst kind. Very surprised that EYRE wasn't clued with a Jane reference. At least that way one of the entries becomes a gimme.

chefbea 11:04 AM  

Did not like this puzzle. Got the theme at breezy cheese but most of them didn't make sense to me. Puzzle husband worked at the post office...couldn't figure that one out.!!!!

Look forward to hearing all about the tournament. Saw some photos on Facebook. @mac - thanks.

Glimmerglass 11:15 AM  

Thanks, GLR, for parsing EDS. I found this challenging; so I liked it. The theme answers are not just wacky phrases, but also horrible puns. I like puns but there are limits. Nobody says BRIE CHEESE (brie IS cheese), and HEY, SAILOR needs NEW IN TOWN? to complete the idea. BOISE WONDER is pretty clever. But some of the cluing was just enough off-kilter to be a bit annoying (not "aha" moments, just "oh crap" moments).

Zeke 11:25 AM  

@Glimmerglass - People do, in fact, say BRIE CHEESE, or at least attempt to do so. When my wife was in grad school her advisor was a Greek man with a heavy accent. He was never around, as he was heavily involved in setting up a new technical university in Algeria. My wife did all the purchasing for the project in addition to working on her thesis, and was in frequent contact when he was overseas, usually because he never seemed to worry himself about whether or not she got paid for her work. He always told her that he'd take care of it when he got back, and that, by the way, he was going to bring her some britches when he finally got back to the states. She wondered why he was worried about her pants. When he finally returned he proudly presented her with a wheel of BRIE CHEESE.

jberg 11:26 AM  

What everyone is saying. Too much obscurity for its own sake -- although my wife says I should know that Orbit is gum. I had a hard time getting past kAyoS for DAZES, which made that whole Mideast section tough. I'm just glad to have finished -- especially since it's a sunny day in Florida, where the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean. Time to get outside.

jesster 11:32 AM  

I found this one mostly ARGHony, with a little ecstasy. Best moment of all was while filling the print version at the breakfast table eating granola with my 15 year-old daughter and I asked her, "How about a seven letter word for 'Nuts', ending in -nas". She paused and pondered maybe three seconds while looking down before shooting back, "Bananas, just like nuts and bananas go together in our granola". Maybe it's time to stop lobbing her "softball" clues to get her interested in crosswords, and start using her to help me with the toughest fill?

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I had a few major issues, but the worst was when I had "umblats" as silent in music (which I thought was literally the fact that they're unindicated in our common use of the word "music"). But the real solution is dammingly annoying. Upbeats are not accented in music? I guess James Brown and his entire career of starting on/accenting the one beat never existed.

David Stehle 11:35 AM  

Er....the Washington Post!

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Whoops...I saw what I did there, confusing my beat definitions. I retract... Sorry, all;

deneb 11:46 AM  

you missed the point! it's the ZEE sound that you take OUT that makes the phrase, and the phrase is NOT wacky.......daisy trader = day trader. choosy toy = chew toy. boise wonder = boy wonder. NO ZEE / nosy. get it?

OISK 11:52 AM  

Zipped through this one, and enjoyed it "Derr" with "EYRE" was guess, but one I imagine most people got right. No other problems for me. I had fun, Brendan, so thanks! I enjoyed it even more because it was near 60 degree in Brooklyn yesterday, and I sat outside in the Sun, with my pipe, IPOD, and The Times...

AliasZ 12:01 PM  

What I liked about this BEQ puzzle was that not one of the eight phrase transformations were a repetition of another, so even after I got the first one (BOISE) I wasn't quite sure how the others will work.

A few others possibilities came to mind:

floozy symptoms
pansy American
wheezy the people
cozy operation
crazy fish

Of course, some of these are not nearly as snazzy as BEQ's.

STEPTOE: "A hill or mountain that projects like an island above a surrounding lava field. This landform, a type of kipuka, is named after Steptoe Butte, a quartzite protrusion above the Columbia Plateau lava flows near Colfax, Washington, U.S." - from Encyclopedia Britannica. I did not know that.

I was B-SIDE myself when I saw MOSHERS. Good grief. Mashers, meshers, mishers, mushers? After the third try I got it right. Then it dawned on me, NOLES must be those world famous FSU (who?) half-NOLES.

In my book neglect is disuse, not NONUSE, and OIL HOLE gives me the same feeling as enema hole. RESTEDON must be a newly discovered species of the Miocene era related to the mastodon. CERISE reminds me of Cyd Charisse, but it was first used as the name for reddish pink in 1858, and it is the French word for "cherry." I guess cherry is too TRITE to be used in high fashion.

I mostly liked this one, perhaps a bit tougher than many Sunday offerings of late, and maybe not quite up to BEQ's best, but I will take it any day of the week.

Let's see: today we have BIZET, ERI TU (not an ALTO SOLO), some ORGAN music and other PIECES with UPBEATS. But here is the heavenly finale of the A Symphony to DANTE's Divine Comedy, or simply, the DANTE Symphony, by Franz Liszt.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

'Steptoe' comes from the Steptoe Butte in Whitman County Washington the name originally came from one Colonel Edward Steptoe.
According to Wiki, ' Steptoe Butte has become an archetype, as isolated protrusions of bedrock, such as summits of hills or mountains, in lava flows have come to be called steptoes.'

JayWalker 12:02 PM  

This puzzle, frankly, gave me a headache. First Sunday puzzle I haven't been able to finish in years!!! Ergo - I hated it. My ego may never recover. I don't mind fighting for answers, but this was a waaay too obscure for my taste.

Norm 12:15 PM  

Puzzle didn't make me laugh, but it did make me smile. EDS is a pretty common answer for a misdirection clue of that ilk. Had the hardest time in the NW but even the obscure stuff was eventually gettable off the crosses. Not the best BEQ ever but pretty funny.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Nit-picking here, but I need to vent after spending much more of my Sunday than I cared to… Isn't ATM an abbreviation anymore?

Carola 12:19 PM  

I persisted through to the end but more out of a sense of duty than for fun.

@GLR - I add my thanks re: EDS.

joho 12:24 PM  

I actually don't do BEQ's puzzles at his site so I can't feel let down thinking this isn't up to his standards. I thought these theme answers were very clever and fresher than those on some Sunday where we're just filling the squares.

BOISEWONDER was my favorite followed by CHOOSYTOY.

I thought the DERR/EYRE cross was a riot. I can't be the only one thinking of derriere can I?

This was pleasant Sunday morning solve for me, thank you, BEQ!

@Rex, can't wait for the pics!

Ludyjynn 12:44 PM  

Slogged through it, not really enjoying the process. In the end, looking over it,I appreciated, sort of, kind of, but not really, the theme.

Most interesting clue for me was 53Down/CSINY, which explains why I never liked that incarnation of the franchise (lack of authenticity, I guess). Love to watch the CSIMiami reruns on Sun. eves. in the Winter here in the MidAtlantic. Missed them the first go-round. The bright sun, turquoise waters and palm trees are a comfort. Now, w/ the advent of DST and warmer temps., finally, maybe not so much a needed fix!

Joe The Juggler 1:04 PM  

DOOZY POINT is the one that really bugs me. "Doozy" is a noun, but it seems to be used here as if it were an adjective.

Mamasan 1:44 PM  

Challenging for me. I slapped in some incorrect answers right away such as the bible for 5d, volcano for 8a and no way for 19d.

Once I got the theme things got rolling.

Question - why in the solution do I see a highlighted word and a red letter everyday?

This is probably something every crossword player knows. It is time I knew it.

Z 1:50 PM  

Only occasionally do the BEQ, which is pretty much irrelevant.

Great theme horrendous fill with some interesting choices of cluing. OIL HOLE and EUROMART and STEPTOE aside, we get the first person plural indicatif passé simple to clue être (yes, I had to look it up and it weren't easy to find). HOLY book or word might get read on Sunday - HOLY WRIT has more of a sarcastic connotation to it these days, "People who think Rush's (Maddow's) word is HOLY WRIT are gullible and easily mislead." With EYRE/DERR, the really forced POC LARNYXES, THOM OLSEN (there's a tabloid match I'd love to see), OYE, this one needed the old "once more" before it was shown the light of day.

Z 1:52 PM  

@Mamasan, that and many other important questions are answered on Rex's FAQ Page

retired_chemist 2:28 PM  

I liked it. Fresh fill, interesting if somewhat stilted theme, snappy clues. I'll go with medium-challenging also.

had fAZES @ 62A but decided EfNA wasn't a very likely name. Never heard of her but EDNA fave me DAZES, which I hadn't even thought of.

OIL HOLE has a GREEN PAINT ring to it but on reflection I think it's fine. It's a real thing, with a unique purpose.

Thanks, Mr. Q.

retired_chemist 2:30 PM  

gave not fave

Fred Romagnolo 2:44 PM  

Wanted decks for floors; dentine for dentyne; Bacon for Dante; but
eventually it all worked out. Loved "hey, sailor!" a tiny bit racy. Couldn't figure why it wasn't daisy treader, that's what I do to them when it doesn't work out.

Ruth 2:49 PM  

Boise is properly pronounced boy-see, not boy-zy, so this entry doesn't really work with the theme.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Eeek. Worst performance on a Sunday in many years for me.

I'm not sure about "March time" = ides.

The ides is the middle of -any- month, not just March. I know it's famous because of the play (no, "bard", you don't need to copy/paste it here), but it doens't seem specific enough.

Dawn 3:03 PM  

Was really glad he used "catbird seat"! Thats my favorite James Thurber short story, THE CATBIRD SEAT. About a seasoned employee who is unhappy with upper management's proposed changes. Hilarious!!

wreck 3:33 PM  

@deneb is spot on, I think most are missing the point! Me included. If you take the "ZEE" out - it's a heck of good puzzle!

MetaRex 4:03 PM  

I like a harder Sunday puzz...thk you BEQ and Will.

Yay ESE! DERR/EYRE was my starting point...blanked on the top.

Missing being in Bklyn amidst the legions of regnant Rexeans! Had a school board retreat yesterday and couldn't make my debut...wait 'til next year!

Norm 4:04 PM  

@Ruth: It's Boy-zee in my neck of the woods. Never heard it pronounced with an "s" but I guess you're saying that's what locals do? Interesting. Don't think it detracts from the theme.

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

If you grew up in Boise it is never -zee.

LaneB 4:50 PM  

Too tough for this oldster what with the "theme" answers making little sense and a few of the other words in the fill seemingly being just invented, e.g. EUROMART, BREEZYCHEESE!, ROSYHOUSE! DAISYTRADER , etc. I get the play on words now, but in the doing I was completely stumped.. Not fun and I ended up just being pissed and bored. A sore loser who should have wasted his time on the acrostic.

John V 5:23 PM  

What @Rex said about puz 5 at ACPT.

chefbea 5:31 PM  

@johnV so who won??? want to hear all about it

Casco Kid 6:26 PM  

Greetings from EIRE, where they do indeed stamp your passport with GREENINK.

I did the BEQ on the plane over. 3:10 Google-free to a completed grid. No Google at 35000 feet, after all. 10 more minutes and a change or two until I had the guts to submit. Then error(s). Then a few more changes. Then more error(s). An hour more of poking and prodding at the several ambiguous points but to no avail, so I gave up. It seems I had only one error: PHRASEs/REAs rather than PHRASED/READ in the far SE. Oh well.

I rate this puzzle easy-medium. I haven't yet finished a Sunday without a least a few errors.

Tomorrow we take the ferry to CYMRU, where I promise to have a nice cask-condition bitters for @numinous. Our first stop will be the locale of the BIGHOAX.

chefbea 7:36 PM  

Why aren't the winners of the tournament announced??? I keep going to word play and google asking who was the winner. Can't find an answer

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

At the end of Rex's blog today, he provides a link to see the results.

Notsofast 8:01 PM  

A rare dud from a pro.

lawprof 8:26 PM  

This was an agonizing slog for me. Kind of like getting into a cold swimming pool an inch at a time. I'd get a little bit, then put it down. Do a little more and then leave for a few hours. Come back, nibble another chunk, then set it aside. Started around 7am (or was it 8? -- spring forward, right?) finished at 6 pm (or was it 5?). But probably spent over an hour grinding away on this one. Finally got it all filled in and came here. Aaaargh: MeNORCA/CEReSE.

This is the second time this year (I think) I've started with Cilea for Bizet as the "L'Arlesienne" composer. The former composed the opera "L'Arlesiana," and I can't seem to keep them straight.

John V 8:31 PM

chefbea 8:32 PM  

@anon 7:53 thanks. Saw a lot of familiar names

paulsfo 8:41 PM  

@Rex:: Rex, can you please add "green paint answer" to the glossary on your FAQ?


Suzy 9:37 PM  

Enjoyed very much-- mainly because BEQ is tough and I only had to google once! It occurs to me that complaining is easy from this side of the grid!

Nancy 9:47 PM  

Harder to solve while doing it than it looks now after solving. Or almost solving -- I had NALE/MASHERS instead of NOLE/MOSHERS. (What does NOLE stand for?) Found it challenging and therefore liked it.

Billy 9:58 PM  

Yep, for once you were unduly generous, Rex.

This sucked.

Joe in Montreal 10:07 PM  

Can someone explain OYE for "Listen up, Lucia!" In re EUROMART I found this through duckduckgo rather than Google: One last nit: do CAMERAS 'snap', or rather do their users 'snap' as in "I'm going to snap a few photos here"?
I presume NOLE is short for Seminole.

Wikipedia 10:55 PM  

Boise pronunciation

wreck 11:13 PM  

Which makes the clue and answer correct!

Dick Swart 11:13 PM  

This is the kind of puzzle, at least for me, that makes it hard to work up enthusiasm for the coming week.

I got a blot half on a diagonal NE to SW and absolutely hated it. Found no reward or humor. Ugky.

Insert in the oil hole.

Uhu work 8:17 AM  

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Ellen S 12:34 PM  

@aliasZ, like the troll above, I just finished the puzzle this morning, but wanted to say I loved "half-NOLES".

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

75D - I took 2 years of High School French, but I can't figure what form of etre that fumes is.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

WTF is a "doozy point"????

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

"Fûmes" is first person plural passé simple of être, i.e., "nous fIumes" is equal to "we were" in English.

BTW I've never watched "DA" (I had enough of snooty BBC series when I was a kid in the late '60s and early '70s), so, having gotten "e--a," and with a ridiculous down fill like "doozy point" (which doesn't even come up on Google) I was stuck for quite a while. Ella? Elka? Elsa? Who knew, and who TF cares????

Tom 10:48 AM  

Longtime solver, first-time "asker": When a puzzle's clues telegraph the theme with question marks, is it kosher for non-related clues to be similarly punctuated? (94A, 11D, 16D, etc.)

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Usual Sunday entertainment was just not fun. No t much enjoyment here and clue answers were a stretch (I.e. EUROMART). I think something was lost in the links between the theme and the resulting answers. I will avoid BEQ puzzles in future.

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

Shame on you Mr. Shortz! You helped spoil a usually good time with the Sunday puzzle by publishing this.

Anonymous 2:42 AM  

To answer your questions that went unanswered, "oye" is Spanish (informal) for listen (Lucia is cluing that it's a Spanish word), and a "doozy point" simply means that it was a very odd or special shot, like the one Nowitski beat the Knicks with last week -- that score was a real doozy, had almost no chance of going in. All I can think is that the complaints about this puzzle are generational. I thought it was very average in solving time and reward -- not great, not bad. Unobjectionable fill -- can't understand why some of you are saying it's too obscure. You don't object to them using some rapper or rap song I never heard of (or want to hear of), or chock full of references to crappy Hollywood movies and TV, but you object when things like Dante show up in a puzzle. Shame on you!

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Just finished this clever, very tough Sunday puzzle by Mr. Quigley and really had a good time passing it back and forth all week-- just chipping away. Took a while to realize doozy point is theme for dew point.

Checked out the results for the ACPT.
Wonder if they could invent a puzzle contest for pairs of people?

D and A

spacecraft 1:40 PM  

The yellow hankie got RAFTS of air today.

(1) STEPTOE: Five yards for NOT being a word. The entry is fine ("---And Son"); just don't lay that sucker down in a Scrabble game.

(2) "Post office workers, for short?" = EDS? That clue, to quote the famous mirror lipstick suicide note from "The Hustler," is "perverted, twisted, crippled." That just goes too damn far. Fifteen yards for excessive obfuscation.

(3) The root saying for 36d is supposed to be "Hey, sailor???" What is that? Should we recognize that as a "familiar phrase?" Well, how about "Hey doctor" to a guy in a lab coat, or "Hey, football player," etc. Ridiculous. Ten yards for meaningless PHRASE.

(4) Lens = OPTIC: Ten yards for shifting parts of speech between clue and answer. Noun does not = adjective. And if OPTIC somehow IS a noun, then its use is surely obscure enough to impose the same penalty.

It took me an hour just to get that west central section. I'm supposed to know who wrote "De Monarchia," or who discussed divine providence in Job. There are ALINE coats as well as dresses? Plausible, I guess, but who knew? Not me.

I could go on, but I'm too exhausted from the effort of slogging through this morass. I got it done, with no mistakes or lookups, after about three and a half hours, off and on. Incredibly, my only w/o was rOLe for SOLO.

Fearless leader, you will certainly remove that word "medium-" from your rating, or I shall flag YOU.

rain forest 3:07 PM  

No way that "medium" should be part of the assessment of this puzzle. It was a bear for me. I'm thinking that one shouldn't look at the constructor's name, though. It raises/lowers expectations as the case may be. Just do the damn thing and exult when you complete it, as I did after a long, long time.

STEPTOE and DERR/EYRE were the only things I didn't know, but got through crosses.

Overall, this is a professionally constructed puzzle with a decent theme, very clever cluing, and good fill. Well, MAZY? Hmm.

Liked it. When you spend two hours with something, you better like it.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

Pool equipment lined with fur?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dirigonzo 4:52 PM  

I struggled despite getting the theme early-on with CHOOSYTOY. I don't know if it's generational, cultural or if BEQ is just that much smarter than me (or likely all three) but his puzzles always seem to have an extra level of obscurity for me. Still, I eventually got it done and I think derived an extra bit of satisfaction for having stuck with it. Finished in the south central section where I toyed with the possibility of taking SKIRACE out so I could have Sports BAR; happily the anagram came to me before I made a total mess of things - it's BEQ so of course it's Sports BRA! D'OH!

Oh, and hand up for totally not understanding EDS until it was explained here.

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