Steel giant founded in 1899 / WED 5-21-14 / Friedrich units for short / Google co-founder Sergey

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: wacky homophones, I guess — two-word phrases are reimagined with homophones in place of the original words

Theme answers:
  • PLANE RAPPER (17A: Freestyling pilot?) (plain wrapper??? like "plain brown wrapper" only not "brown"?)
  • BANNED LIEDER (28A: Music forbidden in Germany?) (bandleader)
  • WHIRLED PIECE (44A: Top?) (world peace)
  • HOARSE SHOOS (59A: Throaty dismissals?) (horseshoes) 
Word of the Day: ARMCO (43A: Steel giant founded in 1899) —
AK Steel Holding Corporation is an American steel company whose predecessor, Armco, was founded in 1899 in Middletown, OhioUnited States. In 2007, the company moved its corporate headquarters from Middletown to West Chester, Ohio.
The company derives its name from the first letters of "Armco" and "Kawasaki Steel Corporation," which entered into a limited partnership with Armco in 1989. The company was formally renamed AK Steel in 1993 when it became a publicly traded company. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not going to write much about this because I didn't like it and I don't really get it and (consequently?) I don't have much to say. Are two-word homophone shifts like this really that hard to find? Are there none better than PLANE RAPPER? I honestly had no idea what was going on for most of the solve? The phrases are odd and decidedly Not funny. Fill wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good, either. ARMCO just seems awful, frankly. Can't remember ever seeing it. Also it doesn't exist anymore. Hasn't existed for over 20 years. Ugh. I just guessed that "A" because I've never ever heard of Friedrich brand air conditioners, so [Friedrich units] sounded like something sciencey. I thus really doubted ACS, but any other vowel there seemed preposterous.  Just a ridiculous crossing. NW was absolutely disastrous for me too, mostly because I have not heard the phrase GIRLS DORM in a long time. I didn't go to a prep school, and when I went to college, No One would've said "girls." So I just stared at -SDORM for a bit. Also what on god's green earth is "Land o' Goshen!"???? I wrote in EIRE and ERIN … "MY, MY!" For &%^#'s sake, who says that? Tepid theme, tepid fill, weird / dated frame of reference. Not a great experience. The end.


No, not the end. BEWIG!? OK, now the end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

113 comments:

Mikey From ABQ 12:04 AM  

Wow, I thought it was a great puzzle. I'm sorry Rex was disappointed . Perhaps just in my comfort zone - not too easy, but every time I got something that took a bit of time I liked the answer. Oh, we'll, just one opinion

wreck 12:09 AM  

Wasn't all that bad, in my opinion, but I too struggled with ARMCO/ACS.

retired_chemist 12:19 AM  

Fun puzzle, When I got the theme I thought that Rex, who detests puns in any circumstance, would not like this puzzle, I was right. Actually the puns aren't particularly great IMO.

gaudY before ARTSY, BeetleS before BLIGHTS, head and Brie before BLEU, TEApot before TEA URN, and a consequent molasses-like feeling to the solve today. The puzzle was good, but some of my choices weren't.

Can't we reparse 46D as ICE SIN and think of a less trite clue?

Thanks, Mr. Buckley.

jae 12:28 AM  
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jae 12:30 AM  

Tough for me too mostly because @wreck  I also got hung up in the BRIN/ACS/ARMCO area.   Took a while to dredge up BRIN and remember that Friedrich makes ACs.  

Also, rest before EASE and Ages before AEON. 

Pretty smooth grid except for maybe BEWIG. 

WHIRLED PIECE seems familiar, but I think it was PEAS and it was on a bumper sticker?

Goofy theme, liked it.

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

Rexster see puzzle, Rexster do puzzle, Rexster struggle puzzle, puzzle bad.

mathguy 1:01 AM  

Thought that it was a terrific puzzle. The four punned phrases were very fresh and clever. I was surprised that I finished it rather quickly because the cluing was quite indirect. It helped that after I got a couple of the punned expressions I was able to make good guesses on the other two.

Colin 1:16 AM  

You hit all the main points that made this a less than stellar solving experience for me - ACS / ARMCO is a really ugly cross, and though I actually enjoyed the other theme answers, I don't understand how "plain wrapper" is a thing. Also BEWIG is dreadful-- when I saw the clue I thought it might have to do with a wig, but I thought, "it couldn't be some ridiculous crosswordese like ENWIG, could it?" and then laughed and moved on. BEWIG is hardly better.

Finally, "Grand Canyon feature" for RIM is a bizarre and somewhat inscrutable clue. This took me 10 minutes, unusually long for a Wednesday.

Steve J 1:26 AM  

I'm not a big fan of puns, but I do appreciate them when they're clever and yield something amusing in their own right. Simple homonyms are not clever, and none of these led to something amusing on their own. Clunky is the best they achieved. A couple aspired to reach the low bar of clunky.

Meanwhile, GIRLS DORM felt like I'd stepped back into 1959. I went to a conservative, very non-PC college 25+ years ago, and even we called it the women's dorm.

I did like RED SCARE, BLIGHTS and RIPTIDES. Outside of that, this fell really flat for me.

Casco Kid 1:29 AM  

This one took me to my limits, with BREATHER being the final fill, giving me unknowns ARMCO, BRIN, CASAnAS, HEvIE, two of which turned out to be wrong because nUOvA sera is not a thing. OK, a skater named HEvIE is something we'd all remember. I'm sure most of us remembered Sonja Henie. Even me, after the fact. 70 minutes. 3 errors. No googles.

chefwen 1:30 AM  

I am in complete agreement with @Rex on this one. Doesn't always happen, but today it sure did.

I was in the steel industry for 15 years and had never heard of ARMCO, I, however was in Tool Steel and they were not, so it's understandable.

Had TEA pot at 6D, have never heard of a TEA URN or seen one.

Looking forward to tomorrow.

Capcha is duchwoo, @evil, anything?

chefwen 1:38 AM  

Just reread the comments and had to laugh @Colin with bewig. When I filled that one in I said the dog (who doesn't give a rat's ass what I say" You have got to be kidding me. A major low light of this one.

John Child 1:40 AM  
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John Child 1:43 AM  

I thought this was spot-on Wednesday difficulty, much like Monday snd Tuesday's puzzles. Third week in a row where the early week puzzles didn't vary much in difficulty. Not complaining mind you - I like a little resistance M-T-W.

@Colin, if you ordered something potentially embarrassing by mail you would expect it to come in a plain wrapper.

I liked the long downs like TV VIEWERS, BREATHER, RIP TIDES, and RED SCARE, but TORSI, ESTOP, CEES, and BEWIG were painful. I said to myself, "Oh I hope it's not _____," for each of those. But it was...

TokyoRacer 1:45 AM  

I also completely agree - terrible puzzle. Stupid puns, obscure clues.

Casco Kid 2:33 AM  

Qué será será! BUONA sera.

Anoa Bob 2:44 AM  

Not a big fan of "wacky homophones", especially if there doesn't seem to be any other thematic systematicity involved. RED SCARE was nice (or ugly, in its day) . High point was Rex's cueing up Neil Young's "Hey Hey, MY MY".

JTHurst 2:45 AM  

I now realize the mind of the crossword puzzle solver does not operate in the realm of reality.

I find myself looking at this puzzle and immediately recognizing certain clues and answers. Something six months ago would not be conceivable.

1. Strands at a ski lodge - must be ices in.
2. So-so marks - cees or can be expended to ceees and so forth.
3. Legally impede - nothing to it - estop
4. Long, long time - pick one, ages eons aeon
5. " Land o' Goshen!" - Why Ma Kettle would say "My, My!"
6. Off road ride - atv, ute, awd
7. Put locks on? - And this is where I knew my mind had made the transformation to Crossworld reality, because before any crosses I thought of rewig and not something securing a place or facility and then the cross dictated 'bewig', I thought nothing of it and said, "Of Course."

I understand this is not the 'real' literate world. This is the Crossworld.

syndy 2:49 AM  

Mymy!I kept thinking I was missing something (I often do) but no this one made very little sense and is marching along and humming to itself.I guess you just gotta respect that.

loren muse smith 5:46 AM  

Hand up for checking and checking and checking again to see what tied the themers together. Before joining Rexworld, I wouldn't have thought to look further. Look, as one who has Countless Times been told by Countless Constructors that my theme idea and entries were "not tight enough" because there were too many candidates out there. . . I say a big fat "YEAH!" to this one – not in the spirit of lowering the standards but rather in the spirit of who cares? if it's not that tight so long as it amuses. And these puns not only amused me (ok – they weren't knee slappers, but still) but they made me pause, think. I once met this BANNED LIEDER band leader in Reno. . . Or how 'bout "We tried to golf yesterday but those pesky Tee Erns kept swooping in and knocking our balls to the ground."

Not a poker player, I found the clue for DRAW really tough.

I stalled at "scarf down"/EAT UP, very pleased. Sheesh. People who think they have English down need to study up.

@Colin – look on the blight side – I'd rather have someone BEWIG me (I'm running around under a big ole hairy thing) than have someone "enwig" me (and I'm running around actually being said hairy thing? Or maybe it's covering me completely up?) Would that be the meaning, or did I bemuddle the whole prefix thing and get it all backwards? Enmuddle. I give up. Down. Now the Prefix Meaning Police are aboil.

@retired_chemist - I know someone who puts two cubes in her white wine. ICE SIN. Hi, Mom.

Lovved looking back and seeing those Vs in TV VIEWERS.

Wanted HOARSE pewits before BLIGHTS. I have a great story. . . Actually, "locusts" was my first thought.

"Soccer center?" for CEES would have been up my alley.

Trader Vics offers a version of a Mai Tai with PEPSI and ALE, and the glass is RIMmed with BLEU cheese. Called a Mai Mai.

While camping, a bear we incensed-
She smelled us just over the fence
To escape her great wrath
We beat a quick path
Climbed trees, forded streams and passed tents.

Thanks, Mike. I liked this just fine!

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

I liked riptides, redscare and "I shot a man in RENO just to watch him die" but otherwise this was a forgettable experience. "Bewig" should be a bannedlieder.

Danp 6:55 AM  

Big thumbs up from me for this puzzle. Unlike typical early week themes, you had to figure out the theme to finish the puzzle. Usually these puzzles are easily doable without even knowing there is a theme, and then the theme evokes a big "so what?" (eg. hidden cost).

I also found all the theme answers either visually or ironically amusing.

Can someone explain IPADS (modern cash registers)?

Gill I. P. 7:45 AM  

My sentiments for this puzzle are similar to @Steve J's except that I love puns...This was just unpuny to me.
Had lots of write overs but the one that got me was DRAW because my stud alternative was DRAg. gHIELD PIECE? what am I missing?
Did not know BRIN nor ARMCO but I managed to piece it together and didn't really care!
MYMY wha wha....

Susan McConnell 7:46 AM  

Just ok. But changing the last one to WHORE SHOOS would have been a great improvement.

r.alphbunker 7:47 AM  

The puns themed fine to me.

{Put locks on?} Brought to mind the bridges over the Seine with thousands of locks attached by lovers making a statement of the everlasting nature of their relationships. The winds that blow through them do not unlock them but I bet they cause some unwigging.

@DanP
Do a google image search for ipad cash register

Glimmerglass 7:50 AM  

Well, the puns were better than Sunday's duds. Not a bad puzzle, but getting ARMCO was just a lucky guess for me. Rex, I think you're a bit burned out. Do you still enjoy this gig? Maybe you need a BREATHER.

Lindsay 7:56 AM  

I haven't posted here in months, but stopped in to see if ARMCO and BUONA were really words.

Also got slowed down by entering ERSE twice: once at 56D where it belonged, and again at 47D where I should have written EASE.

Aaaaarrrgh.

Charles Flaster 8:16 AM  

Actually agree with Rex on all counts.This seems to fit NYT Thursday mold and approaches Friday difficulty.Knew Friedrich was an old time popular AC brand but initially looking for BTU. Also should 6 down imply an abbr.?
?

Lewis 8:18 AM  

DNF because I thought it was CASAvA, but should have figured out BUONA. My bad.

Very few puns make me laugh out loud, but often they make me warmly smile inside, sort of like my heart winking. These did. Different strokes for...

Imagine World Peas is by now a hackneyed bumper sticker, but I liked today's variation. There were girls dorms (as well as coed) when I went to college, and they were called girls dorms. I don't remember what the male students' dorms were called.

I'm bemused at BEWIG. Has anyone ever said this in conversation? One does get a sense of desperation in some of this fill, as I'm sure M&A will point out -- and yet, it was a grand old solve for me. Liked it!

tb 8:20 AM  

Love bewig. Fun puzzle.

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

Worked bottom up on this medium-challenging Wednesday and thought we were in for some fun when we got HOARSESHOOS. Nope. Get world peace, but WHIRLEDPIECE for "top?" - well . . I suppose. And a pun relying on a foreign word and pronounciation? No.

BE friggin' WIG? C'mon.

As soon as I filled GIRLSDORM I thought of the PC comments that were sure to come. Wish he'd gone all the way and clued it "College chicks' digs" or something.

I'm so old that my school had a Freshman boy's dorm and a Freshman girl's dorm. MYohMY.

AliasZ 8:21 AM  


Puns always BLEU my mined. They are fun, they tickle my crazy bone. They are the backbone of the joke literature of every culture and language.

The four in this puzzle were all good, but not all of them equally snappy. PLANE RAPPER was the weakest, BANNED LIEDER the best, in my opinion. The problem with WHIRLED PIECE is that many people pronounce the H before the W in words that begin with WH, thus when becomes hwen. World however would never be pronounced hworld. Does this dialect depend on geography?

But in puns such my newt matters are usually oeuvre luked. I wrest my cays.

Now it's time to beclothe myself and go to work.

But not before posting this lovely old hit from the old days that some of you may still remember: BUONA sera, signorina.

Ciao!

Lewis 8:21 AM  

Also: TORSI don't have to be sculpted.

retired_chemist 8:22 AM  
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retired_chemist 8:23 AM  

AHA! Now I remember why ARMCO was so obvious to me and less so to many of you. It was based in Ashland KY, where my cousin lives, and he worked for them for many years before retiring.

NCA President 8:24 AM  

Okay, so I will agree with many of you who liked the puzzle. It was, you know, a puzzle. It took me my entire first cup of coffee and some toast to finish, but it wasn't awful...I've done those and this one wasn't that.

BUT...you have to admit BEWIG is awful. Even with a question mark. No one has ever been bewigged, unless they've also been beclothed, beshoed, beringed, beglassesed, or whatever. Never.

Also, ABOIL. If there is any crosswordese that I get bedraggled about, it's when you add A- to a verb. Poetic, sure. But again, you can't just add A- to any verb and call it a day. I've heard of putting a kettle on to boil, and when it hits a certain temp it is "on the boil." If you're Robert Frost you might say it's ABOIL...but I doubt it.

Otherwise, the NE, with it's GIRLSDORM and MYMY was the last region to fall.

I also learned yesterday that those captchas you've been filling in to sign in to comment are sometimes used to digitize books on the internet. Evidently, that 10 seconds it takes for you to do it adds up to lots and lots of time. So to make that time more productive, they are using your input for good use.

So happy bedigitizing as you afill out the captchas. (I prefer the numbers myself, but I'm sure they're using those for something too).

joho 8:28 AM  

I wouldn't be surprised if the bumper sticker sporting WORLDPeaCE was where Mr. Buckley came up with WORLDPIECE and maybe even the seed of this puzzle. That was my favorite theme answer.

@Susan McConnell, LOL at WHORE SHOOS!

I have to agree that BEWIG is pretty bad and I question if ICESIN is a thing as much as snowSIN.

@Loren, I know someone who puts ice cubes in her Dom Perignon ... is that an even bigger ICE SIN? Thanks, @Retired_chemist!

In the end I thought the theme phrases were original and clever enough to entertain .. at least they did me!


Leapfinger 8:33 AM  

@ret_chemist
ICE SIN: Stop coveting your neighbour's ass

@GIL
Agree about BRIN mar

Poor Rex. No sensayuma. He'd rather curse the masses, OATH the Humanity.
Were the freestylin' pilot a certain German rocket scientist, we woulda had the PLANE BRAUN RAPPER.
AS for the reviled 53A, I donned a toupee, went with my siblings to the movie thee-atur to see The Apartment; I was Bewigged, Brothered and B.Wilder-ed.

Gonna get INDYCAR now, cuz it looks like it's going TERRAIN. HONEYBEE good

Right up my ALI, this was.

retired_chemist 8:49 AM  

I thought ICE SIN might get some to Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan - but not.

Carola 8:52 AM  

"BEWIGged, bothered, and bewildered..." PLANE RAPPER? HOARSE SHOOS? For me these didn't even rise to the groaner level. I did like BANNED LIEDER, though, and @loren's tee erns, @Susan McConnell's whore SHOOS, and @Leapfinger's addition of Braun made my morning.

I'm old enough to have lived through the RED SCARE and in a GIRLS' DORM - "women" didn't come on the scene until I was in grad school. Last letter in was the A in ARMCO/ ACS - I had no idea about the appliance brand and was afraid I was thinking of the oil outfit aramco....

lawprof 9:06 AM  

Funny...I agreed with just about everything Rex said about this puzzle. But we drew different conclusions: he hated it; I liked it. I'm guessing that he hates Brussel sprouts because...well, you know....

Norm 9:21 AM  

I thought this a pretty clever and enjoyable puzzle, although that ARMCO/ACS cross was the last to fall. I didn't even mind BEWIG that much, although maybe you have to be a fan of Rumpole of the Bailey and even then "bewigged" would be more common.

ArtO 9:31 AM  

You would think at my age I would have thought of GIRLS dorms but I've become so PC that all I could think of was women.

Tough but workable. Just because Rex hasn't heard of it is no excuse to diss an answer/clue. There's lots of stuff we all learn from crosswords. Recent pop culture absolutely kills me when it appears.

Z 9:32 AM  

BANNED LIEDER sounds like some of our discussions here - me with arias and @OISK with pop music. This was a 75% I loved it and 25% I hate it. I loved the puns, hated the entire east coast. Hand up for WTF at ARMCO/ACS. Was wondering what was measured in ACS. I'm more accustomed these days to IBUs and ABV, so some unit of measurement I never heard of seemed perfectly plausible.

@John Child - porn is so widely available on the net, now, that the current generation has never heard of getting a plain wrapper in the mail.

My freshman year was the first year that the last men's dorm went co-ed. Our term for the last single sex dorm on campus was the very non-PC "virgin vault."

@JTHurst - Welcome. Soon you will know all the CrossRivers and CrossBirds, various random popes and Olaf/v's, and all the other BEWIGged denizens of Crossworld.

@Danp - Lots of newer retail start-ups use the IPAD. Apparently much cheaper, smaller footprint, and they let customers sign credit card receipts with their finger. Woo Hoo.

@Lewis - Think TORSI at the museum.

I am now wondering if WHORE SHOOS happen after ICE SIN. Thanks commentariat.

Regarding the picture in the CAPTCHA you can:

A - Ignore it
B - Try to help Google by deciphering it for them
C - Or do the right thing and put in 42

quilter1 9:36 AM  

Duck and cover! I liked it. BEWIG made me laugh even though no one ever says this. I like puns, even bad ones so these amused at a stressful time in my life (mom in hospital). I lived in a GIRLS' DORM my first year of college, and lived through the RED SCARE era too. ARMCO last to fall as it just took me awhile to remember it. The land'o Goshen is in the Bible.

evil doug 9:42 AM  

Another good reason to ignore the pc nazis.... No trouble with 'girls' whatsoever.

chefwen: Speaking of non-pc, did you notice the name of one of the five Chinese hackers the US accused? Wang Dong. You can call him by either name, thanks to the convenient redundancy.

Evil

Jocelyn 9:43 AM  

Sorry, Rex, I thought this one was LOTS of fun. The theme phrases were just tough enough to require some thinking(!), none of the fill was too junky, and there were very few proper names that you either know-or-don't-know (that's my biggest complaint about puzzles that include sports figures, politicians, etc.). A really solid puzzle, at least for me.

OISK 9:43 AM  

I like puns. I dislike rock, rap, hip-hop, and product names. Pepsi, though is too obvious to be objectionable. @Z - I don't dislike pop, in fact, I am a kind of expert on it, as long as it is not rock (or rock and roll). That generally means pre-1970.

This was a fun puzzle for me, easier than average for a Wednesday. Anyone else spell the melon "casava"?
( I corrected it when "vuona sera" didn't look right. I think it is also interesting that when I saw "sera" I was looking for a French word, not an Italian word. )

Hartley70 9:45 AM  

JT Hurst, exactly what you said! The brain has morphed! And for whoever asked, an iPad can have an app that allows a small business to use it as a cash register.
I liked the puzzle because there was just enough struggle in a few places to keep me interested. The puns were so so to me except for plane rapper which I LOVED, unlike everyone else. I played around with the grid for 25 minutes til I got it right and was generally happy with the experience.

Z 9:46 AM  
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Z 9:47 AM  

Hey - Mental Floss did a list on the schwa. I know @LMS will want to read it.

chefbea 9:48 AM  

Did not like the puzzle!!! No time to read all the comments...puzzle husbands birthday..lots to do..better get that cake in the oven

Smiles 10:00 AM  

I liked Land o'Goshen and mymy - really passé verbiage that no one would say now - but they are matching in "old fashionedness". Guess you have to be 110 like me to have fun with that.

Charles Flaster 10:00 AM  

Terrific clue!!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

This puzzle and @AliasZ reminded me of 'ladle rat rotten hut,' stories composed of entirely out-of-context words… http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/anguish.html
Jeff

AliasZ 10:15 AM  

@Leapy, don't think for a moment that your "Bewigged, Brothered and B.Wilder-ed" went unnoticed. But I am almost sure I remember you went to see "Some Like It Hot."

Lindsay 10:16 AM  

Popping back in to add that until I read the comments, I thought BANNED LIEDER referred to Napoleon on Elba.

But then I'm not at all musical.

Steve J 10:27 AM  

Somehow I didn't even notice BEWIG last night as I was doing the puzzle. Apparently I got it all off crosses. It's too bad I didn't notice, because it's one of those words that's so spectacularly awful it becomes good. It's like the Plan 9 of crossword answers.

@Susan McConnell: WHORE SHOOS is fantastic. You're right, the puzzle would have been much better with it.

Meanwhile, I'm cringing at all the stories of ice in wine.

Arlene 10:31 AM  

I knew most of the stuff in this puzzle (except ARMCO and BRIN) - and I'm a sucker for just about any pun - so I finished this off with a happy feeling.

It also didn't include pop songs - that I've never heard or heard of - so that makes me a happy camper as well.

As for Sonja Henie - there was a Madame Alexander "Sonja Henie doll" that was very popular - and she wore ice skates. There really should be more GIRL things in these puzzles, by the way!

RnRGhost57 10:53 AM  

In high school, half my friends' dads worked either at Delco in Dayton or at ARMCO in Middletown, so that one a gimme.
Now BEWIG OTOH.

Blue Stater 11:04 AM  

I agree with Rex -- terrible puzzle. Lame puns, Naticks galore. And I don't live too far from Natick....

Andrew Morrison 11:05 AM  

Plenty of junk as mentioned by others. Medium hard seems a fair rating. I get the impression there aren't many motor sports fans here -- often INDYCARs will crash into the ARMCO barriers. I didn't think Armco was a 'Giant' but the name is known worldwide for the aforementioned barriers.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 11:20 AM  

har. My kind of theme. After PLANERAPPER dropped in, I got a big 7-U grin goin and hollered "the game is afoot!" Dog whined and left the room.

It is gratifying that y'all are startin to get into the whole desperation worship thing. Saves M&A valuable time and keystrokes. Lemme just do a corner recap:
NW: C-
N: D
NE: C
E: B+
W: D+
SW: B+
S: D+
SE: A-. Clear winner. Sorry, BEWIG; nice try.

IPADS can now be cash registers? They can dispense large denomination change from the cloud? Day-um. What could go wrong, there, cybermousekateers?

KNOWSPICARD?
Too desperate? har. A+, then.

M&A

dk 11:30 AM  

OO (2 Moons)

BEWIG and other fill left me flat. Often the voice in my head stated this cannot be the fill: Yet it was.

dk

pmdm 11:31 AM  

Different genres of music, art, literature etc. inspire very different reactions among people. Only a fools would assert that, say, Classical Music or Shakespeare or Dali paintings is bad simply because one doesn't like that genre.

I view puns simply as a genre of wordplay. In my view, the purpose of using or combining homophones to construct puns is not to create something funny or clever, but to create something that makes people learning the English language suffer. (No, I'm not being serious; I'm being ironic as a result of my lack of success or learning a second language when I was in High School and college.) So whether I think a pun is funny is not in my eyes what makes a good pun. It's how close the two words or phrases actually sound. Sometimes the puns in the crosswords are only approximate puns. That might be clever wordplay, but for me bad punning. And today, today's puns were good puns based on my criterion.

There is one recurring complaint occasionally voiced in the write-up, usually worded something like "it's not that hard to find similarly themed clues and answers." What does that have to do with anything? What would be the problem if this theme were repeated (at sufficient intervals) with other clue/answer pairs? By that argument, the blues should never be played again since all blues pieces (mostly) use the same structure and harmony. The relative number of possible clue/answer pairs seems for some to be indicative of the worth of the theme. Or perhaps, is mentioning that simply a way of criticizing the constructor for choosing a theme that has a wealth of possibilities? I might be dense, but I don't get it.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Can someone shed some light on 58 down (Ppd. enclosures, SASES) for me?

obertb 11:50 AM  

Friedrich ACs would be a gimme for anyone living in NYC because they're sticking out of windows everywhere. I don't remember seeing them anywhere else, though they must be sold outside of NYC...

Honeysmom 11:57 AM  

Farewell forever Rex! Your cantankerousness spoils the fun for me. I've found another solver site without sour, sarcastic, spoilsport comments

M and A Help Desk 11:59 AM  

@Anonymouuuus, 11:49am -
S.A.S.E. = self addressed stamped envelopes, sometimes enclosed with crossword submissions. SASES is when you put more than one of em in, in case the editor has a change of heart, after his initial rejection.

M&A

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Thanks M&A, that makes sense.

DigitalDan 12:08 PM  

For "Land O Goshen" you have to be old enough to remember hearing your grandmother say it. I enjoyed the INDYCAR/ARMCO pairing, too.

Stan 12:17 PM  

methinks it's time for 'Rex' to move on to another puzzle to critique. His nearly daily denigration of the NYT puzzle, while I'm sure sincere, is wearing to read. So, I think I'll stop for a while.

M and A Help Desk Extension 12:25 PM  

@Anonymouuuus, 12:04pm: No sweat. Now, I'm not quite sure what "Ppd." in the clue means, but my best estimates are:
* Postage paid
* Pre-paid
* Pre-postaged
* Just did a #1-er
* Put postage dere
* Somethin in French

M&A
Info U Just Cannot Get Elsewhere

Karl 12:34 PM  

BEWIG? Really? I share RP's opinion on this one.

Fred Romagnolo 12:46 PM  

Minor quibble: the RED SCARE was in the 1920's after WW1; we just said "McCarthyism" in the 1950's. @Alias Z: you hit the nail on the head with "Some Like It Hot," in which the main characters were Bewigged. As for the "wh" pronunciation: not geography - education. @Charles Flaster: it's true that "e.g." is sometimes used to elicit abbreviations, but sometimes it's just "e.g." For everybody: Land o' Goshen was located in the part of Egypt between the Delta and the Sinai before the Exodus. Hands up for ARMCO ACS. @Casco: "sera with accent" is Spanish for "will be"; sera is Italian for evening.

Andrew Heinegg 1:01 PM  

For all of you who claim to like pun puzzles and criticized Rex for his write-up here, all I can say is that there is no arguing with taste. I enjoy well constructed pun puzzles but this one failed to elicit even a murmur of a groan from me, only a huh? upon solving. And, aside from the indefensible Armco and bewig, I thought the puzzle as a whole was a uninteresting and easy puzzle with too many crossword usual suspects, e.g., doted, sane,rave, torso etc to approach being a pleasurable solving experience.

chefbea 1:06 PM  

@Rex - Oh no. Don't go!!! We regulars love what you do!!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Moo shu pork would have made more sense as Moo shu beef is a variation of the more popular pork dish.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Five golden themers...
BEWIG
REWIG
DEWIG
LE WIG
ME WIG
PEWIG.

oh, man...

"... muse runtpuz ... muse runtpuz ..."

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Rex asks who says "My! My!" Maybe Donald Rumsfeld?

@Fred Romagnolo, I've been around historians most of my life and many of them refer to the McCarthy crusade as the Second Red Scare.

Dora the Explorer 2:06 PM  
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sanfranman59 3:29 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)

Wed 11:20, 9:54, 1.14, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:31, 6:11, 1.22, 91%, Challenging

Charles Flaster 3:32 PM  

Thanks. So not always an abbr.

Lewis 3:49 PM  

@z -- thanks for your perfect correction to my TORSI comment. Now it makes sense!

Z 3:52 PM  

Clue: Add false eyelashes to a lapwing.

Bewig a Pewit's Eyepit.


I am surprised @Sanfranman59's numbers.

@OISK - I'm not sure what you mean by "pop music." I was referring to the Pharrell/Beyoncé/Eminem stuff.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

I knew Freidrich made Air Conditioners - owned a few, but I put in BTU. That kept me bogged down for a while

NYT CRAPUZZLE AGIN 4:19 PM  

woeful fill and cluing. silly puns, dreadful clues. the internet has ruined puzzles forever. and Rex is a big baby curmudgeon.

OISK 4:59 PM  

@Z Don't know who Pharrell is, and never listen to Beyonce or Eminem, although I have heard of him, and have seen her (mostly doing commercials). I said "pre 1970," when pop music would have included Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Steve Lawrence, early Streisand, and Broadway show tunes. (I use "pop" as an abbreviation for "popular.") In recent decades, non-rock popular music is very hard to find.

Benko 5:05 PM  

@OISK: Perhaps your definition of "rock" is much more inclusive than mine, but it seems that the vast majority of pop music now is dance music-based rather than rock. Dance music, in the sense of what disco morphed into during the eighties, through electro, house, and techno music.
Rock music has been around since the 60s, and rock and roll itself is really just an update of boogie woogie rhythm and blues, going back probably 80 years or so. Predates a lot of the people on your list.

jae 5:44 PM  
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jae 5:52 PM  

@Benko - Rock Around the Clock Bill Haley and the Comets 1954

Ludyjynn 5:59 PM  

MYMY...it seems the peanut gallery is evenly divided on the merits of this puzz. It set Rex's blood ABOIL and despite his OATH not to totally BASH it, he HAS done so,EVILly upsetting @Honeysmom, 11:57 AM, in the process. The CAD! Someone must ESTOP him. I kid. STAND your ground, Rex.

I found this to be an easy-medium Wed. Not a GEM, but of at least CEE quality (okay, B-). I like puns, the groanier the better, so this one worked for me.

Thanks, MB and WS.

Leapfinger 6:31 PM  

@quilty1 -- Hope your Mom does well; tough times, I know.

@Carola -- I knew I was thinking of Aramco and didn't care: I figured the odds were better than 1 in 26!

@AliasZ -- Dang! Was in a hurry before work, just wanted to leave a footprint; at that hour, probably only firing up one hemisphere. Billy Wilder dredged up The Apartment, and I looked no further. Of COURSE, SLiHot would have been ideal. What teamwork, what teamwork!

You haven't let me know if Szent-Gyorgyi got his email through

PS. "Bosom Buddies" also had a lot of bewiggery-pokery going on. Is it alright to say 'bosom' on this site?

Leapfinger 7:18 PM  

Just to prove that good taste and bad puns aren't mutually exclusive, here's the APASHAnata, Barenboim on the piano.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C3TIr2bBo0

Sfingi 8:50 PM  

@JTHurst - one of the greatest comments ever!

I'm not there yet, but crossword land is beginning to permeate my regular life.

DNF because of BRIN, ARMCO, btu for ACS, etc. I don't mind puns, though.
HArd for Wed.

Clark 9:03 PM  

I have spent so much time reading German that I am comfortable putting a BE- prefix on any verb. BEWIG? No problem.

sanfranman59 10:09 PM  

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

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

Mon 7:57, 6:04, 1.31, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 229 Mondays)
Tue no data
Wed 11:16, 9:54, 1.14, 81%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:59, 3:57, 1.26, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 229 Mondays)
Tue no data
Wed 7:21, 6:11, 1.19, 89%, Challenging

Benko 11:08 PM  

@jae-- I meant that the boogie woogie style of rhythm and blues went back about 80 years, not what is technically "rock and roll". The first technically "rock and roll" single, according to general consensus, was Ike Turner's "Rocket 88", recorded in 1951. But it was an amped-up version of music which had been existence for about 20 years by that point, I think.
Still, I find the basics of rock and roll go back even farther than that, if you listen to the first hillbilly and blues recordings of the late teens and early 20s, the roots were already present. Boogie woogie Fatha Hines/Jelly Roll Morton piano also certainly has the structure intact. I could argue, that in a way, Fats Waller was the first rock and roll "star".

jae 11:19 PM  

@Benko - Absolutely! The reason I posted that link was that you said '60s and that particular song brought rock and roll into the mainstream in the early /mid '50s. I also agree that much of what pop is today is dance music. It's not the simple guitar/bass/drum mix that characterized 50's and '60s rock and roll.

Benko 11:31 PM  

@jae--Oh yeah! I just meant rock, as opposed to and distinct from rock and roll, started in the 60s. You know, in mid to late 60s when the bluesy form of rock and roll morphed into the heavier and more stylistically inclusive style of rock. Definitely, most hit songs these days don't even feature rock rhythms or instruments, they are dance music songs. There is an occasional rock-oriented hit, but I would say the last time the pop charts were dominated by rock music was in the 90s.

OISK 11:33 PM  

I can't argue with any of you about what pop is today. I never listen to it. I walk out of restaurants that play it too loud. I assume that what they blast between innings at the Met games is "pop." Or is it dance music? Or techno. Or metal, ska, …I really don't know the difference… (not being judgmental. I don't eat fish. People often try to get me to try, say mahi-mahi, or snapper - it's all fish to me; I don't know the difference, and don't care to know. So it is with what I call "rock…")

ZenMonkey 11:39 PM  

I don't mean to keep posting bummers, but why do people constantly ask Rex if he's burnt out because he didn't like a puzzle that you did?

As I've said before, this is frequently the case with me. I'll finish something I thought was clever and fun, and come here to see that Rex didn't like it. Sometimes because he was annoyed by obscure references that I had no problem with, or sometimes because, as here, he just didn't like the answers for whatever subjective reason. In that case it's just a difference of opinion and so what?

If he didn't like a puzzle I did for technical reasons, then I might learn something about solving or constructing.

I know I sound like a toady, but I'd say the same thing in defense of anyone here who expressed an opinion about the puzzle.

For the record, I didn't like this puzzle much either; it wasn't BAD bad at all, but the theme entries fell very flat for me. I took a few years off from doing the puzzle, and I do feel in a subjective way that the quality has slipped. And if I knew as much about puzzles as Rex and many of you, it would probably be even more exasperating and disappointing. I don't think that necessarily signifies burnout.

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

Top = Spinning Top? Whirling Top?

Z 12:04 AM  

@ZenMonkey - I find the amateur psychoanalysis of Rex a little tiresome, too. People who find him excessively critical are free to ignore him. I assume when he gets sick of doing this he'll stop. Besides, he is only half the show, anyway. The gridderati and the rest of the commentariat are almost always worth reading. If one disagrees with his take, feel free to come here and tell us why. You are likely to find a few others who agree.

Ruchi Verma 9:26 AM  



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Groobers

spacecraft 11:16 AM  

Easy except for that horrid mid-east. Had I not remembered that eerie Cash line about shooting a man just to watch him die, the whole section would have been pure guesswork. ARMCO a steel "giant?" GIANT??

Ne.
Vah.
Hoidofit.

The A was a total shot in the dark. I think that sector deserves a sector-wide flag for sustained obscurity. There's no football equivalent, but in hockey it would've been a five-minute game misconduct. Let's say, fifteen yards from point of infraction.

And that's a lot of yards, because this guy was almost home with a very nice effort. I got what was going on much sooner than did OFL, and with more appreciation, too. Some of the fill was subpar; heck, if your name's not Berry, that's pretty much true all around. I could've done wothout CEES and the crutchy SASES. Still some nice longer fill and an amusing theme. Redo that one area and you'd have a GEM.

@jthurst: I think you mean this is the crossWHIRLED. Doesn't that fit better?

Torb 11:52 AM  

quick and easy. fun puz

Waxy in Montreal 2:08 PM  

Unfortunate ignorance relating to Spanish and the entire melon family led to a personal 49A/50D nattick but otherwise found this a fun Wednesday puzzle.

Perhaps I'm easily pleased but found the theme puns original and very amusing, especially WHIRLEDPIECE which IMHO rates 4 ****'s.

rain forest 2:24 PM  

Land o'Goshen, what a fuss!

Most crossword puzzle solves hinge on what you know or don't know. I had heard of Friedrich air conditioners (ACS), so ARMCO was no problem. Regarding BEWIG, the term "bewigged" is in the language, so it's present tense is fair game, I think.

Refraining from criticizing anybody here, I *will* say that I think on many occasions, disparaging a puzzle seems to be based on the length of time it takes people on certain days. But, MY MY, today, there's nothing here to get ABOIL over.

Perhaps I've missed the golden rules about puzzle-making, and maybe that was when I was in the GIRLSDORM, but I still enjoyed this one.

DMG 2:42 PM  

Struggled a bit with this one. With tEn for "beauty" and RepLy for "comeback" it took a bit of jiggling and jogging to sort out the NE, but eventually got there. Did have to hope ACS was correct and tut-tutted at BEWIG, but otherwise enjoyed this one. As for the puns, actually they helped me a bit, and they were certainly nothing compared to the groaners my husband keeps lobbing out there. So, hey, a good Wednesday!

Dirigonzo 4:13 PM  

The French phrase "que sera, sera" kept me from seeing the Italian BUONA sera for quite a while but eventually the melons and the skater bailed me out (albeit with less than 100% certainty until I came here). Someone (@JOHO?) wondered five weeks ago if "ICES in" is as real as "snows in" - as someone who has been iced in on more than a few occasions let me say, yes it most certainly is.

Solving in Seattle 6:14 PM  

raceCAR before crosses finally fixed the NW.

I probably invested in that steel giant, ARMCO. That's likely why it went out of business.

REDSCARE and HENIE juxtaposed with IPADS and BRIN.
EVIL next to GIRLSDORM. Something BLEU, perhaps?

Save the HONEYBEES.

Time to eat some WHIRLEDPeas.

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

Yo, this puzzle be wiggin me out!

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