Food often with pentagonal cross sections / SUN 7-13-14 / World's largest particle physics lab, in Switzerland / Frequent features of John Constable landscapes / Traditional Gaelic singer

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: CHILD'S PLAY!!! 

THEME: "We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident" — things that are the things that they are, like the thing that is the thing that is clockwise in circled letters, and what that thing is is a rose. real recognize real, gertrude stein.

Theme answers:
  • BOYS WILL BE BOYS (23A: Classic excuse for some misdemeanors) - can someone confirm that this is in fact a valid legal defense that will get you off the hook for a misdemeanor? asking for a friend
  • I YAM WHAT I YAM (35A: Declaration from Popeye)
  • WHAT'S DONE IS DONE (43A: Doubt-dispelling words from Lady MacBeth)
  • IT AIN'T OVER 'TILL IT'S OVER (72A: Famous Yogiism) - didn't know lenny kravitz was a yogi but it kind of makes sense
  • HATERS GONNA HATE (97A: Words dismissive of detractors)
  • IT IS WHAT IT IS (105A: Expression of resignation) 
  • ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (121A: "We will tolerate this no more!")
Word of the Day: WABE (110A: "Did gyre and gimble in the ___": "Jabberwocky") —
WABE FM 90.1 is a radio station in Atlanta, Georgia, that is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Radio International (PRI). WABE's format features mostly classical music, although the station will occasionally play a Beatles tune, a Broadway show tune, a film suite, or a selection from a film such as Star Wars, as long as the piece is in a classical-sounding arrangement.
• • •

sunday smooveness from the trill McCoy. this is that dude that did that "stretched out" puzzle, so you already know he's going in.

i was about a minute too slow on this puzzle but it was a minute of me thinking "man this is easy" over and over again. (maybe your experience was different and that's beautiful too. i just do what i do when i do what i do.) the fill was unobstructive. the clues didn't dazzle, but they low-key sparkled. dope theme. dope title. dope visual element. all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience that brought joy to my saturday night.

thoughts that i thought while i solved this puzzle:
  • EEW (5D: "Gross!") — no. still no. 
  • nice clue asymmetry in 7D/28A and nice clue symmetry in 48A/49A. clue is a clue is a clue
  • AUNTIE (38A: ___ Anne's (popular pretzel purveyor)) — shortz got alliteration for days
  • BUGLE (112D: Corn chip since 1966) — never not relevant: this
  • ERAGON (119A: Fantasy title character whose name is one letter different from the creature he rides) — that would be an E-WAGON, yes?
  • NIP crossing (126A: Certain wardrobe malfunction) made me nervous
  • A LA (36D: Chicken ___ diable) — idle chicken is the devil's workshop
  • ELMS (65A: Frequent features of John Constable landscapes) — 

go well,
erik agard, Gf.P.

p.s. it's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing. it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing.

p.p.s. i didn't solve all the puzzles this week but my favorite one that i did solve was that ezersky/fleming joint from friday. hot fire.


JFC 1:17 AM  

Not Rex.


jae 2:02 AM  

Mostly easy for me too once I figured out that metrIC was wrong and it wasn't a ME rebus.

Cute breezy Sun.  Fun phrases, liked it.

Trippy write up people still say trippy?

paulsfo 2:39 AM  

Sorry to repeat a rant but, seriously, maybe people who comment here could volunteer to help out constructors by providing clever clues? There were some here but there were far too many which were boring gimmes.

I liked "Pop stars" and "Match game?" but that was about it.

Steve J 2:47 AM  

Straightforward puzzle, and pretty simple overall. Theme phrases were all good and in the language.

Not in the language: SUMOS.

Pop stars? was a great clue for NOVAS. Otherwise, not much grabbed me. But aside from the aforementioned SUMOS, nothing really bothered me. That's a good achievement on a Sunday, and I enjoyed working through this one even if it didn't particularly stand out.

George Barany 3:14 AM  

Nice puzzle, Tom, and great guest review, Erik. As a chemist, I have to love LIGAND and TITRATES, both of which are debut words for the New York Times puzzle. The latter reminds me of an anecdote involving the legendary analytical chemist I.M. Kolthoff, after whom one of the University of Minnesota Chemistry buildings is named. Apparently, Mother Kolthoff, while making chicken noodle soup, accidentally grabbed some baking soda (NaHCO3) rather than table salt (NaCl). No problem, says young Izaak, as he TITRATES the soup to neutrality using hydrochloric acid (HCl).

To complete a loose end from yesterday, I shared with readers of this blog Tim Croce's Horse Power, a sports-themed tribute that goes with a recent anniversary. After completing the puzzle, you are now invited to read Steve Bachman's "midrash," which provides an inspirational perspective on the puzzle's theme.

chefwen 3:42 AM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle.

Please, someone who knows how to imbed, please do so with todays Pearls Before Swine cartoon. @Gil I.P. once explained how to do that, but I am dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to computer related stuff.

Husband says IT IS WHAT IT IS all the time because he knows it annoys the living stuff out of me.

Jon got up one morning and found my mother eating BUGLEs, he said "Doris, that's a snack food filled with grease and salt" Mom said, "yeah, but they are good with milk and bananas" he could barely read the paper as he was shaking so hard with laughter. Mom was the Queen of Yeah Buts.

Great puzzle Tom McCoy, enjoyed every moment. Well, except for IT IS WAS IT IS.

Leapfinger 4:00 AM  

UNREEL. A very fun Sunday puzzle. Liked the double lop clues, and the ADDER meeting the RATTLER. Thought the chemists in the room would like LIGAND and TITRATE, was myself pleased to remember CERN.

Cute theme, with only HATERS/HATE a bit off, but the ring around A ROSE IS more than made up for it.

Then it was over, and there was no there there.

jae 4:54 AM  



mathguy 6:11 AM  

I failed big time on this one. I had ITSNOTOVERTILLITSOVER instead of ITAINTOVERTILLITSOVER and couldn't come off it because I didn't know TITRATE, LILTER, and NERDS. And more embarrassing, everyone else seemed to sail through it.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:38 AM  

Fun puzzle; did it at the beach yesterday. Notable write-overs at 66D, "Team V.I.P.", had MGR before MVP, and an unreadable mess at 94 D, tried so many possibilities before getting to SWIVELS. (Not much help from SLOTS, WIRE, VEG, ERAGON, or LAMEST, although they all made sense once they were finally in place.)

Great write-up, Erik! (For those of us who aren't completely hip -- OK, for me -- what is "Gf.P."? Gifted Puzzler?)

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Overall enjoyed the puzzle. Had trouble with Match game and Pop stars. I love the variability of difficulty on Sunday puzzles. Fortunately, the puzzles are for a be:ll curve of enthusiasts and just not fottjeensa puzle mavens.
Thanks, Will....and Rex

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

Mensa puzzle mavens!

chefbea 7:20 AM  

Did most of the puzzle last night. Had trouble with the south west corner. And a few words I did not know..eragon, ligand.

Saw the beautiful moon last night!!!

Gill I. P. 7:21 AM  

@jae...Trippy? that's so WABE...!
LIGAND, TITRATES and ENTROPY sounds like a name for a LAW firm. Hey, I got a rapper's name! FLO Rida! I mean how original is that?
The theme revealers were lots of fun and fairly easy but a lot of the other fill was brutal for moi. Had a terrible time getting started with CUBIC and then CERN who? Just kept plugging away one clue at a time until I finished at the un-godly hour of 4AM.
@chefwen: Since when are rocks dumb?
Must go get some sleep....Waiting for the big game tomorrow. Husband rooting tooting for Germany. I'm in the "Don't Cry For Me" camp.

Mohair Sam 7:39 AM  

Fun and fast Sunday puzzle for us, something a little different and a theme that offered little resistance. But we got held up here and there with new-to-us words and discovered that we've misspoken a couple of old saws all of our lives (isnt for AINT, and GOttA for GONNA).

Thought it was relatively "ese" free in spite of having lots of threes. All Jabberwocky clues go in the "Robbie Burns" and "little known rap star" category for us - could be any letter and it better fill.

Hold-ups: Thought it was sERN; misspelled TOUSLE; guessed aRAGON; and TITRATES was new and compounded by isNT for AINT.

Not sure who to root for in the World Cup today, but I'll be watching. Just pleeese don't go to penalty kicks.

r.alphbunker 7:45 AM  


Nice review. You can talk the talk with the best of them.

I did your recent "Family Vacation" puzzle to see how you walk the walk. An old guy like me had a bit of trouble keeping up with you but I finished without having to look at the puzzle answers.

Googling was enough because the crosses were fair. For example Google was no help with 75A {One of Madonna's 20} but I was able to figure it out from the three crosses on my own and then Google confirmed it was right.

Gill I. P. 7:45 AM  

@Mohair Sam: Penalty kicks are the bomb!!!! You stand up with your drink in your hand and pace all over the place and cover one eye with your hand because you can't stand the suspense. I pray for them!

Moly Shu 7:47 AM  

Like @BobKerfuffle and @ChefBea, trouble in the SW. 3 reasons I found this challenging? TITRATES, LIGAND and CERN. All new to me.

Liked the theme answers, liked the puzzle, liked the @EA write up.

Cfxk 7:55 AM  

Yogiism, as in Yogi Berra

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

Good review, Eric. In retrospect, this puzzle is on the easy side, but I struggled in a few places, especially the NW and SW corners (IDEO? LIGAND? ERAGON? SLOTS?), also LEONARD?. but eventually prevailed. The theme turned out to be a big help. The struggle makes the effort worthwhile. I dislike really easy puzzles, which seem like a waste of my time.

AliasZ 8:53 AM  

AppendicITIS? WHAT appendicITIS?

@chefwen, I absolutely agree with you. I wouldn't be caught dead saying IT IS WHAT IT IS. Hard as I tried, for the life of me I could not find a solid logical basis for the existence of this phrase.

I can imagine an intently attentive person listening to you telling her IT IS WHAT IT IS, than after a few brief moments of thought her eyes light up with the stars of a new discovery, and nodding enthusiastically she replies: "OH DEAR, you know, I never thought of it that way, but it sure is what it is! What else can it be, you blithering idiot? Thanks for reminding me that things are what they are. However can we ever be sure? In a parallel universe this toilet plunger may be a royal scepter."

These phrases were invented to fill silence, nothing else. They do not add any weight or meaning, they do not enhance or provide a deeper insight toward the better understanding of what was said before. I prefer silence to meaningless phrases like IT IS WHAT IT IS, at the end of the day, the bottom line is, in the real world, just wanted to make sure, this having been said and many other NUGGETs like them.

I would much rather REHEAR a Gaelic LILTER recite:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the WABE;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

This is funny, it has a cadence and it rhymes, and above all, it makes more sense.

By the way, @chefwen do we eat?

Oh the rest of the puzzle? It did RESONATE with me, SUMOS, AAAS and RETROD notwithstanding. When did the venomous ADDER (vipera berus) learn how to use a calculator? LIGAND TITRATES roll off the tongue rather easily. By the way, are TITRATES measured in cup sizes? Curios minds want to know.

To end on a nostalgic note, allow me to share the lovely Souvenir de Puerto Rico by American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869) played here by LEONARD Pennario (1924-2008).

Go Argentina!

NCA President 8:53 AM  

Is it me or was this puzzle's overall color unusually angry?

1A: Fighting group
26A: Intimidating words
103A: Urge to attack
121A: "We will tolerate this no more!"
44D: Fights
47D: Send in troops, say
88D: Ones that warn before they attack

It just seemed a bit heavy on the "war-ish" side to me today.

When you have nothing else to do, look PIP up in the dictionary. There is like a hundred meanings for that word. For such a diverse word, with so many disparate meanings, I don't think I've ever used it in normal conversation except maybe to say, "Pip, pip! Cheerio!"

Arlene 9:02 AM  

Nice puzzle - loved the theme answers- and the circled letters. But the SW corner did me in - so much clever cluing bundled together, I just couldn't figure it out. First time I DNF in a very long time. Human, I guess!

hassan mouse 9:09 AM  

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jberg 9:15 AM  

Yeah, warlike and scientific. I struggled more than most in the SW I think, and maybe was more annoyed than most by ORR/ORB, E'ER, AVG -- just a whole lotta three-letter words, so I guess it's inevitable. Once I got the theme it was a lot of fund, though, and let me see that 'laundry' (work for a folder) was really ORIGAMI. I still didn't know ERAGON, so put in aRAGON instead, and had to run the alphabet to see that fIRE was really WIRE, and that the a had to be E.

Off to my Sunday morning yoga class, for some more Yogiisms.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

It's what it's.

Gary Simmons 9:58 AM  

Yogism is a Yogi Berra quote not a Lenny Kravitz lyric!
Eragon is one letter different than DRAGON

Where did this smarmy cretin come from?

Norm 9:59 AM  

@jae: I think Chefwen meant Saturday's Pearls Before Swine. :)

Nancy 9:59 AM  

@mathguy: I had trouble in the same place and for the same reasons you did. Other than that one section, an easy solve for me. But I thought the concept and execution were really nice.

Ellen S 10:04 AM  

I thought @Rex was in an unusually good mood, until I found out it wasn't Rex. Alright then! (another phrase that belongs in the trash heap with IT IS WHAT IT IS.).

I found it hard but no googling. At least none that was successful. I tried to look up the answer to 119A but the only thing IMDb gave me was "Hicup." Wrong dragon fantasy? Or didn't I look far enough into the cast? Well I was certain the creature was a dragon, so I knew 5 of the 6 letters, just didn't know which 5. Finally got that, but I finished or didn't finish, with an error, bERN instead of CERN. Just stoopid, once again tripped up by not looking at the crosses. CUBIb measurement. Yup.

Okay @Chefwen, here is the Pearls Before Swine from yesterday. yeah, I thought Rat probably wouldn't have liked this puzzle too much.

SenorLynn 10:04 AM  

@Eric--smooth review, lots of chuckles.
Your post made up for the depressing tone of all the theme answers & quite a few others. @NCA President.
With the exception of the Yogi-ism. What is so great about baseball & tennis is that there is no hole too deep to climb out of.
52 1/2 min. Learned some new words that don't require Greek.

Yogi 10:13 AM  

You'll eat WEN you come to a fork in the road.

@chefwen, try say it back to the hubby in @AliasZ' way: -ITIS, WHAT -ITIS? Hubby might get so annoyed he'll stop.

@NCA Prez: Gladys Knight and the PIPs?

Yeah, the SW. Got to the point of wondering if there were such a word as RUMMEST, if anyone would spell it RUMEST?

Another good word from the World of Chemistry: SURFACTANT


Thnx, Erik, IOU

Carola 10:22 AM  

Very clever theme, I thought - I loved the embellishment of the central ROSE. I found it on the hard side, or rather having swaths of "easy as pie" with NUGGETs of Turkish Taffy (SWIVELS, LIGAND, ...WHAT I YAM -I tried everything: I are, I arr...).

LAW and NUGGET were nice complements to these eternal truths, and I liked how the central cross had START going one way and IT'S OVER going the other.

Thanks for the fun write-up, @Erik.

joho 10:24 AM  

Yikes, why all the hate for ITISWHATITIS?

I thought this to be one of the most interesting Sundays in a while because all of the theme answers are fresh, fun and unforced.

The AROSEISA loop smack dab (SPANG!) in the middle is brilliant and the perfect finishing touch.

Loved it, Tom McCoy, thank you for a most enjoyablel Sunday morning romp!

Casco Kid 10:32 AM  

2:10 for all but SW, then 45 minutes of staring at [Takes a turn] [Strict] [Work for a folder] [{Fantasy whatnot}] [Send, in a way] [Take it easy][Least plausible]. Silence. . I tried MENTAL tricks.

One cheat: SWIVELS. Then the rest came in seconds.

The theme clues were easy enough. Magmic version had hint re: circled letters forming a circle and constituting a Gertrude Stein quote. Total giveaway for the entire theme in the first millisecond.

mathguy 10:34 AM  

@Nancy: Thanks, your comment cheered me up a little. I also agree that the puzzle had considerable charm.

jdv 10:47 AM  

Med-Challenging. This was OK. I had trouble with this puzzle all over the place. Last square filled in was TREVI/VAN. LIGAND? I don't understand PIP/GEM; the fourth definition in MerriamWebster is 'one extraordinary of its kind'. I guess that's it. Had KILTER before LILTER. Crazy clue for ANA. I spell it EWW vice EEW. Finally, a crossword worthy rap star FLO Rida. I actually hear him on the radio sometimes.

Z 10:55 AM  

@mathguy and @nancy - that'll teach you to speak good English.

Why all the hate for IT IS WHAT IT IS? How is it any worse than the others? I mean, a tautology is a tautology, right? Mayhap it is a professional experience sort of thing. In middle school, especially, I used some longer winded variation of this phrase frequently with parents. For me, a very necessary concept.

Z 10:57 AM  

BTW - Hand up for spending a lot of time in that little SW corner. It seems to have given lots of us trouble.

Fred Smith 10:58 AM  

Actually, a small part of the CERN location goes into France.

Ditto its Large Hadron Collider, the biggest high-energy particle accelerator, for which, perhaps, it is best known.

Martin Buber 10:58 AM  


At the risk of totally overthinking this, near the start of "I and Thou" there's a passage about stating the obvious. Pointing to a tree and saying "That is a tree", or a MAMA telling her son "I love you" causes doubt. Why else should what's obvious and true need be stated, if not to cover some lack, doubt or untruth.

Why do so many phone conversations end in "Love you", "Love you too"?
Just a little curious.

Of course, like the Man from Hope said, "It all depends on what IS IS", and these days, ISIS IS a whole new ball of whacks.

Moly Shu 10:58 AM  

@GarySimmons, wait a second. You mean to tell me that Lenny Kravitz isn't a Yogi and ERAGON didn't ride an E-WAGON??? I sincerely hope you're being sarcastic.

jae 11:03 AM  

@Norm - Of course she did. It was late and I barely glanced at the strip. Sorry about that.

Just Wonderin' 11:09 AM  


I assume you are filling in for Rex today because the HATER/HATE inconsistency in the theme formats so depressed him he could not begin to blog.


Leapfinger 11:10 AM  

@Z, 'a tautology is a tautology, right?' lol, only if properly learned.

@Gilly, individually, rocks aren't dumb, but put 'em together in a box and they speak vewwy, vewwy softly.

@Alias, damn!!

@ret_chem, are you around? How's the pug pup doing?

Go, Are Gent Tina!

sburgernutr 11:11 AM  

@Ellen S me too. I have concluded that Rex has learned the type of critique I learned from the epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins in the School of Hygiene and Public Health. We learned how to rip even the best peer reviewed article to shreds. Then I moved on to Cornell''s International Nutrition program where my major dissertation advisor taught us all how to take the second step in what ultimately makes for a better critique. We were required to a). determine whether or not the flaws really made any difference to the overall conclusions and b) to propose how one could design the study in such a way as to eliminate the major flaws that left the conclusions in doubt. This put us in the position of having to think like a creator as well as a destroyer. Rex typically does not think beyond destruction

loren muse smith 11:20 AM  

First, erik. thanks for the write up. you da man. enjoyed it!

I was expecting a bit more gush for this gem and agree with @joho on admiring this one. To get pairs of these self-evident, famous "truths" and then the remarkable A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE in the middle - I thought this was terrific. Just noticing that you can get A ROSE IS A ROSE to kind of eat its own tail like that is so, so cool.

I'm certainly in the @joho and @Z camp - @chefwen and @AliasZ - the phrase IT IS WHAT IT IS is one I really like. Because it really is.

I didn’t do this as fast as most. Had to erase "car" and put in GOD.

Anyone else notice ADDER crossing RATTLERS? With TERROR above? I tell you what, you don't have to REHEAR the rattle of a true RATTLER to skedaddle it on outa there. And I'm not even that afraid of snakes. But I digress. . .

Speaking of digression, at the risk of getting @Zeke STEAMED, I'll join in the soccer game talk and say I, too, am pulling for Argentina. @r.alph – thanks for doing the blog comment thingy on Runtpuz. I can understand that lots of people come here to read/discuss only the puzzle. Wonder if we should start a separate "chat room" for other stuff a lot of us like to chat about? I view so many people here as honest-to-gosh friends (I really do) that it's hard not to be chatty about other topics. I'll try to show more restraint. Maybe we can, uh, let bygones be bygones? Or adopt a que sera sera attitude?

@chefwen – loved your BUGLE story!

Tom – loved, loved, loved it. Really fun trick.

Glimmerglass 11:27 AM  

A tautology is a tautolgy. That's the point if the theme. The point of IT IS WHAT IT IS is just that. "Wasn't the weather horrible today?" "It is what it is. There's no point in complaining about it." The Patriots' Bill Belichick uses this a lot in answering reporters. He means, "That's a pointless question."

Captain G. Piecost 11:42 AM  

Sumatori, of course, instead of (eew) sumos


OH DEAR. Just try shortening SWIVELS to 5 letters, NYT.


RAD2626 12:11 PM  

Fun puzzle. Hard enough. Hand up for SW hardest segment.

I think a good rap partner for FLO Rida would be IDA Ho.

It drives me nuts that TILL is a seemingly acceptable contraction for until which has only one "L". Till should be reserved for plowing the field. But even Doris Kearns Goodwin used till in her book Wait Till Next Year.

Steve J 12:17 PM  

@Alias Z: Does que sera sera rile you up as much as IT IS WHAT IT IS? They say the exact same thing, other than a switch from present to future.

I'm with @Z: I don't get why so many people dislike the phrase. It sums up those cases where no matter how much we may want to, there's nothing we can do about a situation.

I'm guessing the bile (I know many people who hate the expression) comes from many of the people who say it, the contexts it's said in, and overuse. I've heard - and regularly experience - much worse. At least it's grammatically correct and doesn't replace other perfectly good ways of saying the same thing, like my currently loathed "what's the ask here" or my all-time must hate-worthy business expression: "net-net".

@Loren: Not to try to speak for @Zeke, but I'm guessing he wasn't trying to stifle meanderings (stories like @chefwen's BUGLE anecdote add great color to the comments). It's the continued streams not related to the conversation here and promotion of stuff elsewhere. I think @r.alph has done a great thing by setting up a separate site - and allowing comments - both for the people who enjoy what's there and for those who aren't interested.

And now, off to the farmer's market, then the butcher to pick up some sausages and beer. Wish I could pull together a schnitzel and some spätzle on short order (I didn't plan ahead yesterday) so I can have some appropriate food and drink while I cheer on Germany in a few hours.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

I think Erik posted later than Rex is wont to do as I finished last night and kept checking in vain for a review. "There is no there," I lamented, half-wondering if the professor was going meta on us.

Melodious Funk 12:44 PM  


In case someone hasn't already posted the Pearls Before Swine cartoon strip apropos today's puzzle, here it is:

I'm afraid you'll have to C/P the link, I dunno how to embed.

retired_chemist 12:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 12:57 PM  

@ leapfinger - thanks for asking, Pug pup is doing well and starting to gain, although she is still half the size she should be at her age. Check her out on my FB page - Richard A. Caldwell. It's public.

The puzzle - kinda medium-easy. I too had trouble in the SW, amounting to maybe 3-4 extra minutes, in retrospect for no good reason. Just couldn't see some straightforward answers for a while. ERAGON is pitifully far from my wheelhouse, but the crosses were perfectly fair.

This chemist went with analy(s/z)ES @ 64D, since there are many analytical methods other than titration for determining such concentration. You do not need them listed here. It was a minor snag in the bearish SW but much more so in the central west. The more so since it fit It's noT OVER TILL IT'S OVER.

And since when is TILL correct in the present context? IMO it's 'TIL. Since Old Norse, apparently, although you couldn't prove it by me.
12D was frito until WABE appeared. And SUMOS is just ugly, although the dictionary is OK with it.

Eighth grade jokes in TIT RATES, IT IS WHA TIT IS, and HAS A TIT. I won't make them.

Thanks Mr. (the real) McCoy.

mac 1:00 PM  

Very good Sunday puzzle, with the rose quote in the circle brilliant!

The overal feel was a little down, most of those terms are negative. The one I dislike the most is BOYS WILL BE BOYS. Never an excuse.

I also had most trouble in the SW, not knowing "slots" and Eragon. It came together slowly.

Getting ready for a little World Cup party. I am going to root for Germany, especially for the much-maligned Loew, but I like Argentina as well. Just hope it's quality soccer.

art mugalian 1:03 PM  

I'm glad somebody referred to Pearls Before Swine.

NCA President 1:07 PM  

Just jumping in on the "It is what it is" debate.

Think Occam's Razor.

That is all.

Fred Romagnolo 1:15 PM  

DNF because of that damned (you guessed it) South West. Remembered Titration from high shool chemistry (in 1947). LIGAND was new to me, but logical from crosses. Likewise with CERN. Lady Macbeth quote was the classiest theme term. I thought Sumotori was a whiskey! TREVI as a district rather than a fountain was refreshing. Believe it or not, never heard the saying HATERS GONNA HATE. No objection to IT IS WHAT IT IS. But I better go, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (or enow).

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

@r.alph... Was all gung-ho to start looking for M&A runty commentary, moved over to the new site. But all we got was a site dominated by Evil Doug. Maybe that's because Evil has a google id and a Zeke-like non-inclusive attitude, and M&A, being one of my anonymous cousins, does not?

Should the and sites cross-reference each other?

A runt is a runt is a...

Concerned Blog Citizen.

Stuart Showalter 1:38 PM  

Of course it wasn't Rex: there was no whining!

r.alphbunker 1:39 PM  

Exodus 3:14
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Big difference between THAT and WHAT.

I think that can function as a chatroom. Each day I will post "What crossword stuff do you want to talk about that is not welcome on the Rex Parker blog?" and the rest is up to the posters.


Let wait until M & A gets back. After this he will probably think twice about going on vacation. :-)

Stuart Showalter 1:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stuart Showalter 1:57 PM  

The Gertrude Stein quote actually begins with the name "Rose," so the circles should read ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE....

I know this screws up the whole thing, but it is what it is.

Oscar 1:57 PM  

@Gary Simmons watch the name calling, fuqface.

Rex's Prozac 1:59 PM  

While reading the review, I thought, "Wow. Rex, must have upped his dosage."

Then I got to the line, "a thoroughly enjoyable experience that brought joy to my saturday night" and was confused because Rex is obviously incapable of feeling joy.

Sure enough. Guest reviewer.

It's nice to read a fair write-up from somebody who actually enjoys puzzles as much as I do.

mathguy 2:01 PM  

What I'm getting from the comments, many of us feel that "It is what it is" is usually used as a verbal crutch and not as a meaningful comment. That sounds right to me. It seems that when it is used in reference to a document or statement it should mean that it speaks for itself. When it is used in reference to an occurrence, it could mean a number of things. Perhaps that the occurrence is more important than any explanation the speaker is able to make. What do you think are valid uses of the expression?

SenorLynn 2:28 PM  

Most of the time, I hear it thrown out like "you know," meaningless filler.
You know?

AliasZ 2:30 PM  

@Steve J, "Que sera, sera" is a cute song title and lyric, a big hit, and pre-dates "it is what it is" by almost six decades. The latter on the other hand is a phrase used by people with limited vocabulary or imagination, and who are the first to jump on the latest in-phrase bandwagon without giving a thought as to what it really means. How about this revolutionary idea: use a phrase to describe what you mean exactly. Like: "I wish I could change the facts" or "Sorry, nothing can be done" or "I did my best," sort-of like good bedside manners. Just a thought.

With that said, the bottom line is, at the end of the day in the real world when all this is said and done, it is what it is. I'm just sayin'...

Z 2:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 2:43 PM  

@mathguy - I play a sport. My advantages are height and experience. My disadvantages are speed and endurance. I can make all the excuses I want when I get beat by a faster player, but IT IS WHAT IT IS. I have to use my experience to anticipate the game if I want to be competitive.

@Stuart Showalter - The note doesn't tell us where to begin, so beginning at the second R in RARE works the way you describe.

@Oscar - "fuqface" is so much better than "smarmy cretin." Thank you for your insightful contribution.

@Gary Simmons - If you knew the Lenny Kravitz hit and also remembered that "yogi" can also refer to a person who practices yoga or the associated with being proficient in the related philosophy than you smile at the word play/joke involved in the blog post. Or, well, WHAT'S DONE IS DONE.

@Alias Z - One should always check facts before making claims. The song is at least 7 years younger than the phrase. I must travel in more literate circles* because it is not a verbal tick in my world. After googling it's usage I see that IT IS WHAT IT IS has been annoying people from overuse for at least a decade.

Sorry for the repost - fixing my grammar and adding a link before I go three and out. Go Dutch!

*that's a joke - wry smiles never come through in plain text

Grammarless Z 2:46 PM  

PS - I swear I fixed it.

Mohair Sam 2:47 PM  

@steve j - was nodding my head happily reading your defense of ITISWHATITIS (a phrase I like a lot but rarely use) until I saw the attack on my beloved "net-net". Had a Treasurer in a small company I worked for who could yap for hours in meetings - but was always stopped by the boss who would interrupt and simply say: "Alan, what's the net-net here?" I came to love the term for the hours it saved me.

@chefwen - Love the BUGLE story. Wondering if I stand alone in thinking that BUGLE's are not only salt and grease, but also the worst tasting snack out there (the addition of milk and bananas not withstanding).

joho 2:53 PM  

@RAD2626, when I first started out as a junior copywriter at BBDO they sent our copy to a proofreader. One time mine came back with TIL corrected to TILL which is the first accepted spelling. So TILL is correct. I believe 'TIL and TIL are also accepted, but with more of a poetic license that the spelling with two LLs. Funny how things like that stick in the brain!

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

I felt no love for the crossword today. It felt very choppy and graceless except for the ROSEs in the middle. I looked forward to reading Rex and having him agree. No such luck. Everyone seemed to enjoy the puzzle far more than I. Then I tackled the acrostic, which was everything I want a puzzle to be. If you don't regularly do the "other" puzzle, this would be a great one to start on. Very rewarding, humorous, clever. Several aha moments, a couple missteps. Really satisfying.

Fred Romagnolo 3:16 PM  

Just discovered! Page 13 of today's NYT -second column - next to last paragraph -IT IS WHAT IT IS -gay guy explaining his homosexuality.

Fred Romagnolo 3:17 PM  

Agree that the Acrostic is terrific.

Steve J 4:01 PM  

@AliasZ: Just because que sera, sera is a song title and lyric doesn't mean it can't be insipid. Some would argue that that pretty much guarantees its insipidity.

Tautologies are pretty much by definition obvious, repetitive and add little to nothing to the simplified phrase.

Note, I'm not a big defender of IT IS WHAT IT IS, but just like WHAT'S DONE IS DONE or "whatever will be, will be", it has a time and place. Overuse and misuse doesn't mean a phrase can't fit sometimes.

Unlike net-net. How can you have more net than net? Sorry, @Mohair Sam.

Now, if we can properly direct our ire to the latest stupid business-buzzword trends of using "ask" and "solve" as nouns (as in "what's the ask here?" or "what's our solve?" - both of which I've heard in recent conversations at work) ...

(NB: Saince tone doesn't come through in text: I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek with all of this. I just found it funny how one phrase can prompt intense dislike, while identical phrases don't. But we all have our things that bug us for no rational reason.)

jae 4:32 PM  

Posting this to atone for posting the wrong pearls, although I'm pretty sure the wall hanging is not an ARRAS

Jump Start

AnonyMERE 4:50 PM  

@Steve J, net-pro vs net-con yields the net result. I assume.

@Z, interesting about the first known appearance of IT IS WHATcetera. Nice bit of research. When first minted, it was a fresh invention, newly coined. Somewhere between the first and tenth million repetition, it turned into a verbal shortcut, shorthand for a real thought put into a real sentence.

I s'pose that in writing some of these comments, I'll say 'dang', 'I dunno' or 'ya got me' when I'm aiming for a certain voice. I doubt that I'd use them in real conversation, unless perhaps I was spoofing. But I also remember this one fellow who used to say "Be careful what you pretend to be. You might wake up one morning and find you've become that."

Interesting REMARK, but I was kinda leaning toward 'smarmy cretin', myself.

Just remember, what's right is right, never say never, no pain no gain, and yada yada yada dabba doo

Black-eyed Susan 4:54 PM  

When it's all said and done, it's all said and done.
Never heard HATERS GONNA HATE before, but kind of profound, no? Explains a lot.
Liked it, thought SW hard.

AliasZ 5:01 PM  

I sit corrected. True, no lesser a personage than William Safire has dug up a quote that contained this unfortunate collection of words that predates 1956 when "Que sera, sera" became a hit, but clearly it hasn't gained wide usage until the mid-2000's. I consider that nearly five decades, not six.

Now I will go find another nit to pick.

Mohair Sam 5:50 PM  

@steve j - Given that I've reviewed enough triple net leases to sink a navy, I think net-net is going easy. Besides, with our old treasurer one net would never slow him down.

sanfranman59 6:09 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 6:27, 6:02, 1.07, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:50, 8:33, 0.92, 23%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:49, 9:40, 1.02, 59%, Medium
Thu 14:18, 16:47, 0.85, 22%, Easy-Medium
Fri 14:27, 21:03, 0.69, 5%, Easy
Sat 27:52, 25:25, 1.10, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 27:18, 27:58, 0.98, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:11, 3:55, 1.07, 80%, Challenging
Tue 5:28, 5:25, 1.01, 53%, Medium
Wed 6:32, 6:08, 1.07, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:02, 10:09, 0.99, 45%, Medium
Fri 9:57, 13:03, 0.76, 12%, Easy
Sat 18:50, 17:09, 1.10, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 23:11, 20:38, 1.12, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Gary Simmons 6:27 PM  

Z said...

Hiding behind a single letter is akin to voxen uber drait a zayvee atsibila or a phonetic Yiddish quote of similar ilk


Fitzy 6:57 PM  

Most fun I had solving a puzz in a long time. I grew up on Popeye so dug that reference. The first 3 letters on my license plate are "EWW" & I hold that "EEW" ought be noted as a variant in clues :-)
For "ABIDES" a great clue would be "What The Dude does in The Big Lebowski"

Steve J 7:02 PM  

@Mohair Sam: "Triple net" makes my head hurt.

Germany's collective head will hurt tomorrow. Don't buy an Audi, BMW, VW, Mercedes or Porsche built tomorrow. The whole country will be hung over. Great final, and great to see my No. 2 team win the World Cup.

Sadly, back to work - and more business-speak - tomorrow.

mathguy 7:51 PM  

@Fred Romognolo: Did seeing Thomas Aquinas in the acrostic remind you of taking epistemology at USF?

chefwen 8:12 PM  

@jae - Thanks for the effort, I did appreciate it.

@Ellen S. Thanks for Saturday's Pearls. I had cut it out of the paper and placed it on Jon's desk. He didn't remember it from the puzzle, even though he had filled some of it in and just thought I was picking on him. Oh well, you know what they say...

@Alias Z - WEN you get here.

I skip M-W 8:40 PM  

I muddled through in nearly infinite time because of SW, tried "it's not' and "isn't" over and over and over before ain't and it finally was successfully over
(Btw, "it ain't what it ain't" is even more true than "it is what it is", given the much larger range of possibilities; as annoying? Probably would be. In that case, how about "it probably is what it probably is."?)

Not long ago Doris Day was on Terry Gross, confessing that she hated "Que Sera Sera" but was forced to sing it anyway, though it was absurd in the movie. She had to do what she had to do, I suppose.

Btw , I've been to CERN so that wasn't what bothered me. It stands for Centre Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire", which is so old a title it ought to be changed. It's actually a center for particle research.

As with ret chemist, I tried "analyzes" before "titrates," though my chem knowledge ended in high school.

Have mostly ignored World Cup, since watching sports except triple crown takes too much time. Guessing from above remarks though that Germany won. Would have preferred Netherlands, much smaller country, which Ger. overran in WWII.

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

I was glad to read that so many others had trouble with the SW corner. It made me feel less stupid. I got TITRATES down and ITISWHATITIS across, but after that, nothing. Seeing the answers here, I have to agree that they fit the clues, but they certainly were not inferable.

Fred Romagnolo 9:55 PM  

@mathguy: like remembering my periodontic visits (root canal). Whatever Jesuits do - they do it thoroughly!

Leapfinger 3:11 AM  

@Gary Simmons --- Here, have a little edit:

Sie sohl vachsen vie a tsibbelleh mit den kop' in der erd' und der feess in der luft

(Transl'n: You should grow like an onion with your head in the ground and your feet in the air)

@Z, I'm not sure how this applies, other than he's trying out a colourful curse on you.

John Towle 11:53 AM  

Roz Chast had the last word on IT IS WHAT IT IS: a drawing of a nerdy guy in a superman suit with a big I in place of the S. Idiot Man written over the guy's head & the caption at the bottom: IT IS WHAT IT IS. Well, ya had to be there. What works works.

I love her. She graduated from my alma mater Hamilton.



Harris 2:00 PM  

Fun puzzle. I too think the clue for 23A "Boys Will Be Boys" should be something other than the "misdemeanor one" that was listed. Perhaps a more apt clue could have been: "Classic Excuse for some fraternity pranks".

Charles Flaster 8:25 PM  

DNF due to mid and lower left. Lop eared is a huge unnatural stretch.Literal for strict is shaky at best. Eragon----?????
Rest of puzzle was well clued.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

First thing I thought of after getting "haters gonna hate" was "gee, that's how R.P. approaches his Sunday critiques".

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rain forest 1:06 AM  

@Anonymous 9:06PM Right on.

I was sailing through this beauty until I hit the SW corner, which caused my head to spin. It was only when I tried WIRE, that things started to come together there.

Had a lot of fun with this one. Keep 'em coming.

Geez, the same captcha...again. I guess it is what it is.

spacecraft 2:12 PM  

hand up for the SW toughness--WAY up. As in couldn't get anything at all in that section except the two lead-ins. I could not pull out another thing in there. DNF.

I hate it when somebody says "CHILD'S PLAY," in CAPS yet (!), and I can't finish. DON'T DO THAT! Even the shorties: VEG??? Is that supposed to be short for "vegetate?" Stupid, and I never heard of it. Pip = GEM?? So, the ace has one GEM on it? What??? As for beast/rider, the -ON ending looked like it might be DRAGON, but no way could I ever come up with ERAGON. Never heard of him (her?). The long downs could almost be anything; I had nothing for a foothold. SLOTS for match game?? How is ANYONE supposed to make THAT journey? LAMEST doesn't really mean "least plausible," either. It just means there wasn't gonna be a plausible excuse, anyway, no matter what. So they're all lame. The dog ate my homework. The school bully tore it up. I forgot. Which is LAMEST?? Does it matter?

Had to rework the neighboring sector after assuming eggON for "Urge to attack." Didn't anybody else? Plus, hand up for GOTTA. Other than that, this puzzle WAS fairly easy, outside the SW.

I liked the circular Stein quote; the circles in this case are quite acceptable, alluding to the "circular" reasoning and even resembling the flower itself. Theme and circles get a pass. The fill, like Royal Liverpool, has some pretty rough rough. I mean, ENSNARE? I know it's a word--I just don't know why. Doesn't "snare" take care of the meaning? Yecch. HASATIT? Has at what?? VAN a workman's aid...oh, I suppose, but certainly not a clue designed to elicit VAN. And, EEW should be "EWW." One E, two W's. 'Course, that would cause the across word to UNREwL.

I wish I could have gotten this one; I kinda liked it. But that SW: OHDEAR!

144; at least I can get a win with the captcha.

Dirigonzo 3:18 PM  

My trouble came in the SE corner, mostly because I had HATERS GOttA HATE which made things harder than they had to be. Also, porn before SMUT obscured that section but eventually I got it all sorted out. @spacy is 1005 correct about EwW, I think but of course the crosswords dictate otherwise. 105a reminded me of this Check this outPearls Before Swine strip.

306 ties me with the leader.

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

You haven't lived til you've had bugles filled with aerosol cheese and olives! Only in the good ol USA!

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