1935 poem with one word per line / SUN 5-10-15 / Comic impressionist David / Mad magazine cartoonist Drucker / Branded footwear / Counterpart of Aurora / Internet troll intentionally / She's courted in courtship of Miles Standish / 1990 Mike Leigh comedy drama / Mountain to mountain transport / Sch with Manchester campus / Walk with swaying hips

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Literary Circles" — "THE LOCUST TREE IN FLOWER" (3D: 1935 poem with one word per line … as spelled out by this puzzle's circled letters) a poem by WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (15D: Writer of 3-Down), is spelled out, in its entirety, in circles in the grid:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: GLIA (33D: Cells that protect neurons) —
  1. the connective tissue of the nervous system, consisting of several different types of cell associated with neurons. (google)
• • •

This made me kind of hate poetry, which is weird, as I've been getting really into poetry of late. Like, I'm currently reading "Lives of the Modern Poets" by William H. Pritchard (haven't made it to the WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS chapter yet, though), and I just started "How to Be Drawn," the new book of poems by Terrance Hayes (which arrived in my mailbox two days ago). Earlier this year, I devoured "Citizen" by Pomona College professor Claudia Rankine (worth it for the Serena Williams poem/essay alone), as well as "Why Brownlee Left" by Paul Muldoon and "Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson. I am teaching 17C poetry right now (final exam on Tuesday). So, I thought I liked poetry. And I think I still do. But this puzzle, man …  OK, first: this poem is not famous enough to carry a Sunday puzzle. Sorry, WCW aficionados, it's just not. WCW's wikipedia page doesn't even mention this poem. When you google "William Carlos Williams," here's what google suggests... :

… because google knows what's crossworthy, and what isn't. Now maybe you're thinking "Well, of course it's not FAMOUS, that's the point … if it were famous, people could just fill in the circles …" Well, true. But then it seems like the bar is pretty low, fame-wise, for what you can build a puzzle around. This poem is designed to make WCW fans grin with smugness, and make most others think "I've never heard of this poem and this poem makes no sense." And here we get to the puzzle's biggest fault—this poem as represented in the grid is the SECOND VERSION [grrrrr…] SECOND VERSION, I SAY, of this poem. Now, true, I'd never heard of this poem at all, so it wouldn't have mattered to me, solving-wise, whether you labeled it appropriately or not, but if you're gonna be all "You Should Know This Poem, You Illiterate Cretin," then you have a certain obligation, I think, to make the clue accurate. The FIRST VERSION of this poem reads much, much more like a poem:

The Locust Tree in Flower (First Version)
the leaves
of wrist-thick
and old
stiff broken
loosely strung-
come May
white blossom
to spill
their sweets
and quickly

again (from poetry foundation)

Infinitely superior, IMHO, but I am a troglodyte when it comes to chic poetic tastes, so who knows? Anyway, the nonsense second version is a SECOND VERSION so say "second version," else wrong (or at least inaccurate / misleading) [n.b. arguably the clue has nothing to apologize for because it *said* 1935, the date of the second version, not 1933, the date of the first version, you ignoramus. And yet my objection stands].  But, BUT: here's the thing (another thing, the last thing). I probably would've forgiven all the artsy poetry in-joke baloney because, hey, one word per line, that's a neat novelty, and how can you turn away from the pure serendipitous coincidence that not only do WCW and the poem's title have the same number of letters in them, but that number is also the exact width of a standard Sunday puzzle! Fine, leeway granted. But the fill. Oh, god, it's the OPPOSITE of poetry. It's a red wheelbarrow to the groin. ANGERERERERERERER? SALIENCES? IRONERS? EIDERS? ELLIOTTOTTOTTS? So many ugh-some plurals—and soooo many cheater squares, you'd think filling the grid well would've been possible. This thing is hyper-black-squared, and yet I'm still left to deal with a mess of ANAT GST AAA MSN etc etc etc. I've literally never been to an ANGELO'S pizzeria, despite their alleged "common"-ness.

I appreciate the desire to bring some poetry into the grid. I do. Hurray for the spirit of the thing. But the thing itself. Forgive me. It was inedible. So bitter. And so cold.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


pmdm 12:24 AM  

I liked reading WCW's poems in high school and college, so got his name pretty quick. My problem with this puzzle is a bit different than what is said in the write-up.

The constructor has to fill in a long poet's name in the grid AND a long poem's name in the grid AND the poem itself. Even with some irritating fill, the feat still remains impressive to me. But even knowing that doesn't help fill in the poem's words unless you happen to be familiar with the poem. So the puzzle just turns into a challenge to slog through it with absolutely no expectation to be rewarded with anything entertaining while you are filling in the puzzle. No payoff. Nothing really clever. Hopefully when I check out the comments tomorrow evening I will find out that other solvers enjoyed the puzzle. But alas, I did not,

Brian B 12:27 AM  

"So bitter. And so cold."

New blog tagline!

JFC 12:29 AM  

Thank you, Rex. I hated this puzzle and your critique washed away any guilt feelings I had for hating it.


Anonymous 12:36 AM  

A horrible puzzle on a dozen -- and possibly more -- levels. What is Will Shortz doing with the Times crossword? Seriously: What is he thinking when he published a crossword this bad?

kozmikvoid 12:37 AM  

First time poster, long-time post reader...or however one might describe this circumstance. Not surprised with the negative review since...well, that's what Rex does. This was a medium for me, and with a medium-challenging designation I was hoping for a better description of where Rex was "challenged" as opposed to a tangential diatribe on his poetic critique Like most of you I assume, I've never heard of this poem, but that didn't take away from the fill. Unlike Rex, I enjoyed IRONER and SALIENCES, and I really liked the layout of the grid. The single (or triple, technically) entries into NE and SW were the only pain point, but enjoyed discovering the results - especially in the SW.

Hopefully I'll fit in with this little group, and I look forward to your comments. I wonder if I'm alone in thinking that Rex Porker's comments tend to be far more entertaining than the blog itself...

Until next time,

George NYC 12:39 AM  

Agree with Rex. These stunts don't make for a fun solve. But thanks to Rex, I now know the first version of this poem, which, as he says, is way better.

thursdaysd 12:57 AM  

Total ugh. A poem I have never heard of, by a poet I have never heard of, that has itself neither rhyme nor reason. Couple that with some ranch in California I've never heard of and I wound up googling (well, asking the app for the answer to a clue). Which I never do on a Sunday, except by then I was tired of the whole exercise.

chefwen 1:00 AM  

In agreement with Rex and the other commenters, so far. Did not care for it, at all. Did not know the poem or the author, that equals utter slog. Maybe next Sunday will bring some smiles.

aaron 1:02 AM  

Rancho Cucamonga is not a ranch. It's a city of 165,000 people.

Anonymous 1:04 AM  

As usual, I ignored the circles and just solved the puzzle. I never even went back to look at the circles after I finished. Who cares?

I never heard of the poet and the poem, yet I still found it solvable. The SW was last to fall.

FWIW, I thought it was a good, solid Sunday puzzle.


thursdaysd 1:10 AM  

"Rancho Cucamonga is not a ranch. It's a city of 165,000 people."

I've still never heard of it. And I wouldn't call a place with 165,000 inhabitants a city. (Of course, where I grew up, a city was any place with a cathedral, no matter the size, but I feel things are different on this side of the Atlantic.)

Kenneth Wurman 1:38 AM  

Never heard of the poem or the poet, and I am glad! Horrible puzzle. Happy Mother's Day . Hope next week's puzzle is NY Times worthy.

Kenneth Wurman 1:39 AM  
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Kenneth Wurman 1:41 AM  
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Kenneth Wurman 1:42 AM  
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Anonymous 1:58 AM  

What a wonderful Mother's Day puzzle! Can't wait to see what Will has for us on Father's Day!

Former English major 2:13 AM  

A "plum" write-up by Rex.

Forgive me.

It was delicious.

jae 2:14 AM  

OK, this was the toughest puzzle of the week for me.   I know WCW but did not know the poem.  I had a few erasures...e.g. PLOt before PLOY, Meaty before MIDST, teAl before CYAN...which caused some problems, but this was on the tough side.

The odd wording of the poem caused me to look it up and discover the two versions.  So, points for piquing my interest...guess I liked it more than Rex did.    

Moly Shu 2:31 AM  

Rancho CUCAMONGA? I believe that's where Craig went to live with Day Day and his uncle because Deebo was getting out of jail, and Mr. Jones didn't want no trouble. And that is the only positive thing I can come up with for this mess of a puzzle.

aging soprano 4:05 AM  

This does not concern today's puzzle, but one earlier in the week. Just received it and thought some of you would be interested.
It is a you tube clip in Ladino with English subtitles.

r.alphbunker 4:56 AM  

I liked this puzzle. It respected the intelligence of the solver by introducing him/her to a new poem and the poem was about May to boot!

I got WILLIAM_ _ _ _ _ _WILLIAMS off of
_ _ _L_ _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _IAMS and had to wait until CARLOS popped into my head a couple of minutes later.

This has inspired me to embed an algorithm in a puzzle. Here is the first version of the pseudo-code of an algorithm that converts the string "IBM" to "HAL" For those who are familiar with Kubrik's 2001 this is rumored to be how the name HAL came about.


So if 1A is IBM 2A will be HAL

Collin 5:06 AM  

This is just to say, I see what you did there.


GILL I. 5:26 AM  

I kept asking myself...why is this puzzle even here?...why am I doing it?...Is the locust tree in flower something special?...
If something in a puzzle will peek, peak or pique my interest, I will look it up. Thank you @Rex, now i really won't bother.
I knew of William Carlos Williams because of his strange name. I don't know his poetry at all because I dislike poetry. All poetry - except the "Roses as Red" kind. Poetry in English only makes the language even stranger and we don't need knead that.
Why this on Mother's Day????? I bet Will got lots of Sunday goodies for this day and instead he chose a CUCAMONGA of a poem.
Ok, off my soap caja.
Happy mamacitas day to all of you who have ever mothered a child or a pet or a loved one....Eat lots of bagel's with cream cheese and drink prosecco.....

Questinia 6:39 AM  

Yes! @ ralph!

William Carlos Williams is not only one of my favorite poets, he is considered by many to be the most innovative since Whitman, he believed in the power of words over thought, hence the second version @ Rex being superior to the first.

WCM was also a doctor with a general practice in Rutherford New Jersey.

In addition, the locust tree is a phenomenally scented spring blooming tree with pendulous pea-blossoms in creamy white, smelling of jasmine and honey. So I also adored this puzzle because the poem describes this time in the East perfectly.

Thanks Jacob!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:42 AM  

Loved it, of course!

Did somebody say, "And now for something completely different!"?

I just might have been influenced by the fact that WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS is my local poet, who lived and worked (as a physician) within five miles of my location.

Never heard of this poem, and thought there might be something amiss until I Googled it, both versions. But come on, no add a letter or drop a letter for this amazing grid!

SPOILER ALERT -- Do not read beyond this point if you have not yet done yesterday's puzzle --

Nothing to do with either grid, but struck me as strange that yesterday's 22 A and 35 D, EAT DIRT and GOES GAGA, had such close cousins in today's 21 A and 96 D, ATE DIRT and GOES APE!

Jim Walker 6:47 AM  

Like @Questinia, I love WCW. However, I beg to differ on the quality of the puzzle. I thought it was a mess, I'll-clued, and clumsy. Would not have finished except for insomnia. On to Netflix.

Susierah 7:02 AM  

I've never said this before, these are strong words, I hated this puzzle! Not just because it was so challenging ( I truly love many weekend puzzles that I can never hope to finish), but it was just no fun! I got the two long downs even though I never heard of either, but when I finished (not really, a dnf) I stared at the circled words and thought, is this what I spent over an hour on on a beautiful Mothers Day sunrise!?!? Very disappointing puzzle!

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

This is the sort of crossword I call a "Feat" crossword. It's a feat to get in the poem's title, the author's full name, and the entire poem. Of course, most feat crosswords have two basic problems:
1) the "feat" is often conditioned or circumscribed arbitrarily so as to make it possible at all. Most glaringly in this puzzle,find a poem that will fit without being a gimme. Ideally, the poet should be well-enough known to a literate audience to be pleasing when solved. WCW mostly works here, although he is pretty much second-tier in name recognition even though beloved of many. It helps if the poem is not completely esoteric, and here the gimmick fails. This is a second and much more abstract version of a more accessible poem. But it is shorter, and it fits. Unfortunately, the payoff is diminished.
2) the feat almost always comes at the expense of the solver, because the feat comes first in the mind of the constructor. This usually results in execrable fill. In this case, pace Rex, The fill is decent. ANGELOS is utterly arbitrary, but not much else strikes me as awful.

Lewis 7:37 AM  

I think I get it. Locust blossoms are sometimes used in making pancakes (Wikipedia), and on Mothers Day, aren't all mothers supposed to make pancakes for the family?

I'm guessing Will's thought was that this would make an apt spring poem. Like Rex, I looked the poem up and copied the first version and was going to present it here because I, too, liked it better.

I liked the clues for VAC, WIN, VAULT, IRONER, and among answers that appealed to me were CUCAMONGA, SALIENCES, and BUTCHERED.

The best puzzles to me feel like work and fun. Some are fun and no work. Some are work and no fun. Some are no work and no fun. I like all types except the last, and I like the first best. This puzzle was work and no fun. I enjoyed unlocking the puzzle -- if it gives me a tussle fairly, I'm happy, and it did. And I liked that it was different from the typical puzzle.

BROKENRIB feels green paintish to me. To anyone else?

@rex -- Very well expressed review. Your wit is so often a joy to behold.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

Wow, so many people are upset that there was no Mother's Day theme. Maybe the constructor should have used a Hallmark card poem instead.

Lewis 7:57 AM  

Factoid: George W. Bush liked to wear CROCS when he practiced speeches, and publicly wore them with socks.

Quotoid: "I cook with wine, sometimes I even ADD it to the food." -- W. C. Fields

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Just like other Sunday solves...a mental challenge to this mere mortal. Liked it, because I learned something. See you in the funny pages...

paulsfo 8:02 AM  

For those who haven't read any W.C.W., the two poems pasted below are very famous (and enjoyable). And note that the end of Rex's column was a take-off on the end of the first poem.

_This Is Just To Say_

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

_The Red Wheelbarrow_

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

DNF. One error which annoyed me was on the cross of GST and SPCA. I was thinking of *human* toys so I was going for CPSC. I finally ended up with mPCA, since I knew that GMT was a thing. I didn't know about "Greenwich Sidereal Time, a variant of Greenwich Mean Time used in astronomy."

Aketi 8:21 AM  

@ Lewis, BROKEN RIB in the middle of the grid doesn't feel the least bit green paintish to me. It would be the most likely break if your chest slammed into the steering wheel. If it were not for the bendability of cartilage, which allowed one rib to slip under another and then pop back out again, mine would be BROKEN instead of merely having some torn cartilage. If thought you needed it, I could draw you a DIAGRAM to illustrate how that might happen. The mere thought of what a BROKEN RIB might have punctured in the left side of my chest is a very unpleasant thought on this Mother's Day.

My injury BUTCHERED my original Mother's Day plan of a GRUELING two hours of Martial Arts training and a run around the reservoir followed by a late lunccph with my dh and ds. I refuse to BECOME TEARFUL and cave into the sloth that would make me feel OLD anf STIFf. So new plan is to hike every trail in the Bronx Botanical Garden.

Since I had no hope of knowing the poet or the poem, I sought enjoyment in the references to the BRIGHT GREEN TREE BRANCHes and SWEET MAY FLOWERs that I might see today.

L 8:52 AM  

I knew neither the poem nor the poet, so it was just a straight up solve. Not as much fun. And as Rex points out, not a huge payoff in the end, like those annoying quotation puzzles that generally feel random to me. I DNF'ed in the NE. Sub-optimal start to Mothers Day for this mom. Waiting patiently for my morning coffee to magically appear by my side... may have to wait a while as my teenagers sleep til noon, lol.

L 8:52 AM  

I knew neither the poem nor the poet, so it was just a straight up solve. Not as much fun. And as Rex points out, not a huge payoff in the end, like those annoying quotation puzzles that generally feel random to me. I DNF'ed in the NE. Sub-optimal start to Mothers Day for this mom. Waiting patiently for my morning coffee to magically appear by my side... may have to wait a while as my teenagers sleep til noon, lol.

AliasZ 9:02 AM  

Happy Mother's Day!

Here, this will make everyone feel better:

Concerto grosso Op. 6, No. 11 by ArcANGELO Corelli (1653–1713) conducted by Austrian violist, composer and conductor Paul ANGERER (b.1927). Why this one out of the twelve of Corelli's Op. 6 concerti grossi? Because, like this puzzle, it B-flat. Major.


Zeke 9:04 AM  

Ah, the 1935 version vs the 1933 version. Yup, that was my problem. See, I have a policy of never reading reedited versions of poems - I want my poetry raw - exactly as it sprang from the poet's pen, not fussed with. That's why I hated this puzzle. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

This was a 3+ sitting for me - I did a little, hated it, quit for a while. I did that two times, the third time I quit for good. This was likely more me that the puzzle, but in a "more probable than not" kind of way. I hereby ban myself from the next two Sunday puzzles.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

As every word of this poem was slowly revealed by the solve, WCW's meaning also slowly filled my mind with his artistic intent. A wonderful teaching puzzle. This 2nd v. of the poem resonates with a simple purity. A wonderful puzzle and a wonderful poem.

Whirred Whacks 9:20 AM  







chefbea 9:22 AM  

Haven't read the comments yet but I really hated this puzzle!! Never heard of the poem much less the poet!! What happened to a mother's day theme??
Oh well, happy mother's day to all mothers out there.

Loved the clue for 1 down and am sure @Mac did too.

Z 9:23 AM  

How can one be culturally literate and not know CUCAMONGA?

Curious that so many haven't heard of WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS. Robert Frost? TS Eliot? Wallace Stevens? Ezra Pound? Theodore Roethke? Granted there's not a Saul Williams or Sherman Alexie in the group but I would have thought most here would know the canonical 20th century poets.

I couldn't help but notice WCW goes by his full given name. Curious because so few do. Me, most people call me Z so they aren't embarrassed by uttering a BUTCHERED version of my actual name.

chefbea 9:27 AM  

PS - a neighbor of ours was in an accident Friday night. The air bag worked...but she still has three broken ribs!!! She is fine otherwise

Sir Hillary 9:32 AM  

Couldn't stand this puzzle. Oh well.

I chuckled at the clue for BUTCHERED, coming shortly as it did after COACHK on Friday. Now that's a name I'd like to see in a grid.

Maruchka 9:38 AM  

Lovely theme idea undermined by clunky fill. I was so excited when I saw the title. Lots of lit clues and solves, methought. Alas, a motley slog-fest instead. It felt forced.

ATE DIRT all OVER AGAIN (Hi @BobK). Crashed and burned like SKYLAB. And just what are the NINERs doing in Santa Clara?? Not right.

On a SWEETer note - Many LOCUST TREEs in bloom, along with everything else that had a late start. Ah-choo city.

Cocktails, gazpacho, steak and frites on the terrace tonight. A happy Mom's day to one and all.

Hartley70 10:01 AM  

I started at the SE corner so that Williams came quickly. When I checked the corresponding long down and saw poet, then WCW was my only choice. I'm with @Z in that he isn't obscure at all and has a place in the list of greats that @Z provides. Back to English class, guys! No pity, when I have to figure out the names of baseball and football players on a regular basis!

I thought the construction was fabulous, so I DOFF my hat to the constructor, and my only problem was that there was so much short fill that it got a bit tedious. It's Mother's Day and there's things to do that are fun, even more fun than the NYT puzzle! Presents!

Karen Munson 10:05 AM  

Ranch Cucamonga was a gimme for me (I grew up there. It used to be Alta Loma). The best part of Rex's write-up was "a red wheelbarrow to the groin". What is the origin of this odd phrase?

Rex Porker 10:06 AM  

I like crossword puzzles in general, it's just that I dislike most of them individually. Same seems to be true of poems. I am so full of myself and my ability to use google that I can't find a way to say even one nice thing about the amazing feat of construction that was this puzzle. I'll focus on the fact that this was the second version of the poem, as if that fact is somehow critical to the puzzle's construction or the solving experience.
In the future, constructors, please check with me first before adding any literary references in your puzzles--if I am familiar with them, or better yet if I teach a course on them, then they are acceptable. If not, then your puzzle is crap.

George Barany 10:09 AM  

Somewhere in Minnesota, ex-Governor Jesse "The Mind" VENTURA is steaming about the Natick crossing of a California town with a California Freeway, while at Saint Mark's Church-In-The-Bowery in Manhattan, Peter Stuyvesant is rolling over his PEGLEG. Happy Mother's Day to all!

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

It is stunning that, at least for the American solvers here, so many of you haven't heard of WCW. He is a literary giant and an American hero.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

Quelle slog! I hated solving this puzzle; I agree with everything Rex said; and I liked the Anon who called it a "feat" puzzle. It's all about the prowess of the constructor, with no payoff for the solver. It also seemed to take forever on this beautiful morning, even though I got WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (whom I'd certainly heard of) and, much later, THE LOCUST TREE IN FLOWER (which I certainly hadn't heard of). As for the "poem" contained within: THAT's a poem???? When will people see that, in the world of experimental modern poetry, the emperor has no clothes? Hey people, you want a poem? HERE's a poem, or at least, part of a poem. From Tennyson's "In Memoriam":

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last -- far off --at last to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light;
And with no language but a cry.

Now THAT's a poem! Forgive me, but I'm on my soapbox right now. I'll try to get off it, ere we speak again.

Kathy Smith 10:34 AM  

I agree with Rex and the many posters. This poem is not famous enough to anchor a Sunday puzzle. I found it very frustrating. Usually when I get the theme, there is an "Aha," not "WTF" moment

mathguy 10:38 AM  

@Lewis. Exactly right!

I keep on saying that I'm going to give up doing the Sunday. It takes too long and there isn't much of a payoff. If the poem made some sense, it might have been OK. A slog for sure (I struggled big time in the lower left).


Billy C 10:44 AM  

Many of the commenters above are knowledgeable about poetry. OK, that's fine.

But like many other of the commenters, I've never heard of the guy or the poem. It wasn't necessary to know the poem to fill the horizontal circled squares, so no foul, but what's the point of the constructor's trade off on the verticals if there's no payoff to most of us on the horizontals.

Which sets up my main point: Mr. Shortz, what the HELL are you doing wasting what I look forward to, as enjoyable Sunday morning hour entertainment, with something ENTIRELY out of the wheelhouse of what I daresay is the majority of the readers???!!!

SHAME on you!

Teedmn 10:48 AM  

I was vaguely annoyed with this puzzle as I solved it, but the post-puzzle analysis has made me appreciate it more.

The misdirects of 68D (IRONERS was dietERS first) and 98D (EIDERS went in right away off the I but it was nice) and 122A (SPCA where I first thought oshA) were all fun for me. I too thought BROKEN RIB was green-paintish, just because, @Aketi's explanation notwithstanding, seems like any number of things could be saved by an airbag (for a while, I toyed with the concept of airbag as in airsickness, got no traction, thank goodness!)

I knew the poet but not the poem, hate DONUT, thought SALIENCES was a POC, had a real mess in our Mindful (@George Barany :-) ) ex-gov's VENTURA area, with CUCAracha before CUCAMONGA (even autofill wants CUCAracha!) but I bet, if @'mericans in Paris were so inclined, a great Matt Esquare story could be made with this fill, which would make a nice Mother's Day treat.

Thanks, Jacob Stulberg, for bringing us some Literary Circles. And congrats to all the moms out there.

Loren Muse Smith 11:00 AM  

@kozmikvoid – glad you posted for the first time. I liked IRONERS, too, mainly as a vehicle for the clue that really tricked me. And I appreciated learning that SALIENCE is a word. And then appreciated considering it in its plural form and wondering if we could have a “goodnesses” or “patiences,” too.

So so much poetry scares me the way a painting by Kandinsky or “music” by John Cage scares me; I just don’t get it, and I always feel dumb. I dwell firmly in the possibility of prose, buddy. Invite me to a poetry slam, and I’ll cheerfully opt instead to stay home to jab at my kneecaps with a plastic fork.

Anyhoo, I’m actually happy that I solved this and will carefully store away WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS and THE LOCUST TREE IN FLOWER so that I might pretend to know more than I really do.

@jae – Hah! “The odd wording of the poem caused me to look it up and discover the two versions.” This could be an interesting poll. “The odd wording of the poem caused me to”…… shrug, stare out the window, and secretly resent that I don’t appreciate it. Anyone else?

Among of my early goofs:

“enamor” for ENDEAR
“ads” for AGE – too many of those *&^% ads that dim your screen or scream at you, and I’m outta there.
“replait,” “rebraid” for REWEAVE
“tearing” for TEARFUL
“dieters” for IRONERS - hey, @teedmn
“order” for ORBIT
“iodite,” “iodine” for IODATE
“yert” before YURT

BRANCH OFF took a while to see; I always think of “diverge” as meaning the same as “converge.” I should read more Frost.

As usual, I find salience here in periphery fill. DOFF and then an early “don” for ADD had me marveling that DOFF ends in OFF and DON ends in ON. How has this cool thing escaped my notice? Could they have come from a shortening of something like “pulled off” and “pulled on?”

OVER AGAIN could be redundant. Maybe the clue should have been, “Another time from the top.”

Those ANGERERS mystify me. I just don’t understand someone whose driver is simply to make everyone mad. And worse – someone whose driver is to embarrass someone.

Equally as mystifying are the guys who, day in and day out, read what Rex has to say and then come on here and whine about what he says or satirize him and his opinions.

I liked the canine KIN with HYENA and MASTIFF. Hey, Gareth – is a MASTIFF a relative of a Great Dane because it’s huge, or could “Shih Tzu” or “Maltese” have worked, too?

So, Jacob – I’ll second what @r.aplh bunker said. This was fine by me.

Nancy 11:00 AM  

@Whirred -- Loved your faux poem send-up of the WCW poem contained in this puzzle. It ever-so-gently got at the whole problem with modern poetry: breaking up prose into short lines and calling it free verse. The only problem with your send-up: your "poem" made sense, both logically and grammatically. I'm afraid you'll have to nip that shortcoming in the bud, if you want to be taken seriously as an Important modern poet.

Joseph Welling 11:01 AM  

thursdaysd said: "I've still never heard of it. "

I'm not picking on thursdaysd in particular since plenty of other people think that "I've never heard of it" is a legitimate criticism of a crossword puzzle clue.

Can you imagine what crosswords would be like if constructors eliminated everything that every person attempting to solve the puzzle had never heard of?

It's hard to imagine, but I suspect it would be something like the crossword puzzle in TV Guide.

jberg 11:04 AM  

My wife loves Williams, quotes him all the time, but she didn't know this poem either. I liked it though, and you could work out most of the words, so that was fine. My problem was CUCAMONGA. It worked, but the Homer and Jethro song had me thinking the place must be in summer-camp-land in upstate New York or New England. Little did I know they spelled it Kookamonga. That, plus sticking with nit for Little sucker (8A) led to a DNF for me.

Isn't this two days in a row for CTN as shipping unit?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

LMS--you really thought "rebraid" might be the answer to "fix, as a braid?" You're slipping, girl.

Dorothy Parker 11:19 AM  

Satire is certainly not a legitimate form of expression. Rex never uses it, and neither should any of us.

Carola 11:25 AM  

I liked the idea of the puzzle very much and was happy to see something different on a Sunday, but my solving experience stopped just short of GRUELING. The most challenging Sunday for me, ever.

I found it so difficult to gain a toehold that I started filling in guesses without confirming crosses, hoping that something would stick. Little did:
gondola (ROPEWAY)
teAl (CYAN)
TEARing (hi, @loren)
dAhS (LAWS [ code contents])
air (VET [screen])
macro (ELIST)
nRs (RRR)
and WHITE ShEET before SWEET - I thought perhaps the poem was celebrating fresh laundry on the line -

and enough of the letters were wrong to prevent me from seeing the crosses --gRRR!

I did know CUCAMONGA, though, from childhood evenings in front of the TV when Jack Benny was on and a train was announced to Anaheim, Azusa, and CUCAMONGA. Always got a laugh.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Rex's reviews are almost never positive, which I am beginning to find is a fault, rather than a characteristic, of the blog. Nevertheless, when I filled this grid, I knew we were in for a very special rant today. And we got one.

ANGERER could have been clued with "former Colt linebacker" or some such, but that likely would be more obscure to more people than the way it was clued.

Actually, lots of words had difficult clues. And yet I finished more quickly than I normally do on a Sunday, despite not knowing the poem.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Why I hate poetry. Obscure to the point of meaningless rot that you have to read a million times before it makes a shred of sense. At least Shakespeare made me think I should know what the heck he was saying. WCW left me scratching my head.

joho 11:52 AM  

I'm with @Questinia today. This puzzle evoked fond memories of my poetry classes when I was an English Lit. major. I remember WILLIAMCARLOSWILLIAMS well but unfortunately not this poem. So, it wasn't easy but still satisfying even with a DNF where I got lost at the SWEET line of the poem. I never changed REplait, so big problem there. My other sticking spot was Dele before I got DOFF.

This puzzle made me want to revisit this poet's work as well some others I used to know. It also made me take a long hard look out the window to truly appreciate this most beautiful spring.

Thanks, Jacob!

Blue Stater 12:02 PM  

I'm with JPC and Rex. Terrible puzzle, but then more and more of them are. WS isn't even paying attention any more.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Yeah poetry sucks. So does music. And the visual arts. And theater. And fiction writing. And dance.
We should remove them all from the schools and focus on computer programming instead. Not a single cent of my tax dollars should be spent on the arts in any form. (Now excuse me, I have to go cast my vote in support of a $45 billion bond issue for our new football stadium.)

Imfromjersey 12:06 PM  

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there in Rex-land. The only WCW poem I remember from HS is "In a Station of the Metro" --The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough. Never heard of this poem. Obscure poem with marginal fill does not make a pleasant solving experience.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I'd like to believe that we're getting a run of poor puzzles lately because WS is doing spring cleaning to get rid of things he mistakenly accepted years ago, so that he can publish all the really great stuff he has in store for us.

I'd like to believe that...

Joseph Michael 12:15 PM  

William Carlos Williams is an established poet and certainly worthy of a NYT puzzle. But this particular poem isn't one of his best and didn't make for a fun solve or satisfying payoff.

Lots of bad fill, such as ANGERER and IRONERS. And, by the way, the John Wayne film is "Neath THE Arizona Skies."

Did like some of the cluing, such as "What a cousin can be twice" and the misdirect of "Dutch pot contents."

GeezerJackYale48 12:19 PM  

Billy C

You're right, this puzzle is ugly and why did I waste an hour doing it? I guess Sunday morning habits die hard, although this kind of mess could help kill them.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Hate when a singular is used instead of a plural - see 1 Down.

And can someone please tell me about 47 down. MNO?? What does that mean re 6 letters?

GILL I. 12:38 PM  

I've been kicked out of the kitchen so I just want to make a comment to:
@Questinia....I always enjoy reading your comments. I usually have to look up a word or two but still, I love the way you write. Your last paragraph reads like poetry in my mind. On the other hand, "Clusters hide to spill" doesn't mean a thing to me.
My grandmother, mother and brother loved poetry. Paul gave me a W.H.Auden book of poems and dared me to not like it. I hated it because I couldn't understand a word of it...
@Loren. I was a art history major and I remember telling my teacher that I thought Dali and Picasso were over-rated horrible artists. I'm not sure why he gave me the equivalent of a "C" grade!
We all have our distinctive opinions and none of them are bad....

Andrew Heinegg 12:42 PM  

That depends on whether you like bile for bile's sake. Rex Parker critiques the puzzles as he 'sees' them. Rex Porker puts out material that directly or indirectly states that Rex Parker is a nasty person who does not know how to review crosswords because of his numerous character flaws. My evaluation is that Mr. Porker is the more ego driven of the two and, while I read that others disagree, I do not find his character assasinations of Rex Parker insightful or amusing, just kind of childishly petulant. The point of the blog is to read Rex Parker's review and offer agreement/disagreement, other insights, humor etc. I just don't get how personal attacks on the blog host are a welcome addition. Rex Parker could ban or remove those comments but, he does not nor does he bother to refute them. Hmm.

Brookboy 12:44 PM  

I've been reading Rex's blog faithfully each Sunday for years and I look forward to the comments. I hardly ever post, as I usually think that previous comments pretty much reflect what I was thinking. But I thought I'd comment today.

I went back and forth about this puzzle, from actively disliking it (something I very, very rarely feel) to appreciating it, then getting mad at it, etc. Certainly it is a masterful achievement in terms of the construction. But solving? Hmmm...

Ultimately, it reminded me of something that happened a lot of years ago, when my wife and I were a lot younger. We went to a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC, and the last piece of the evening was something atonal and modern (at that time). I don't remember the name of the piece or the composer, but I vividly remember the evening. To us it just sounded like noise and we didn't like it at all. At the end of the piece, fully half the audience stood and booed, a pretty rare occurrence in our experience (we were Philharmonic season ticket holders at that time). There was a group of older people (perhaps in their sixties, an age I no longer regard as older) in the row in front of us, and one gentleman turned to us and said, "You are a young couple, what did you think of this piece?" I told him we didn't like or appreciate it at all, and he shook his head to indicate he felt the same way.

I've thought about that evening now and then in the intervening years, and I began to think that maybe the idea of that piece that night was to get people to talk about music, to think about it, to reconsider. Something like that. I seem to remember reading or hearing that the Impressionists in both music and art were derided when their first appeared.

I'm not suggesting that Mr. Stulberg's crossword is a work of art, but it's something to think about. Put another way, just sayin'...


Andrew Heinegg 12:48 PM  

That depends on whether you like bile for bile's sake. Rex Parker critiques the puzzles as he 'sees' them. Rex Porker puts out material that directly or indirectly states that Rex Parker is a nasty person who does not know how to review crosswords because of his numerous character flaws. My evaluation is that Mr. Porker is the more ego driven of the two and, while I read that others disagree, I do not find his character assasinations of Rex Parker insightful or amusing, just kind of childishly petulant. The point of the blog is to read Rex Parker's review and offer agreement/disagreement, other insights, humor etc. I just don't get how personal attacks on the blog host are a welcome addition. Rex Parker could ban or remove those comments but, he does not nor does he bother to refute them. Hmm.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Those of you who might have been made aware of the existence of William Carlos Williams by this puzzle should be thanking Mr. Stulberg. For a real treasure, check out "The Doctor Stories." Beautiful non-fiction essays about his life as a small town physician in New Jersey.

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Well, for the first time, I totally agree with all the negatives. This poem is its own Natick. It is the second version, which is a reduction of the first, so you have to know that or it makes no sense at all. I kept looking for some geometric trick that would sort the thing into something understandable. And there wasn't one. It was just a slog. Doable, but unrewarding. Blechhh. Shame on Will Shortz for failing to honor his mother with a good or even passable puzzle.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Finished in one minute. Didn't complete it, just finished with it after some horrible clues and a dilettante theme.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

You people are hilarious. "The New York Times crossword puzzle is too intellectual for me! WAAAAA!" Does anyone see the irony here? Maybe you should all go back to Fox News.

old timer 1:09 PM  

I am so totally on Rex's side today. The poem sucked. Like him, I easily got Mr. Williams. And like him, I think the original version is much better -- in fact, the original version reminds me of Allen Ginsberg's style -- not surprising since they were good friends when Williams was older and Ginsberg was getting his start. Though my favorite American poet is Gary Snyder, Ginsberg's pal, who is still writing great stuff. I watched a reading online he gave at Berkeley a few years ago, online yesterday. He only writes poems he would like to read in public, and when he reads (or when you read his poems to yourself, preferably aloud, the word pictures fill your mind with images of what he is writing about.

A DNF for me, because I did not some up with TYPEO. As a result I calmly and wrongly put in "The Lotus Treee in Flower" when I got TREEINFLOWER. A mistake that the most basic knowledge of human blood would have saved me from.

I think ANGERER makes me angry. And CORSETS even angrier, because they have nothing specifically to do with Renaissance clothing. I got it, but after many writeovers.

Attention music mavens! I am listening to that Concerto Grosso as I type. In B flat. But the puzzle has CFLAT as the answer. How is that different from plain old B? More to the point, how can any harpist learn to play in a key with seven flats?

Loren Muse Smith 1:10 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg. I agree with you. Every. Single. Word.

Lewis 1:10 PM  

@anon12:35 -- MNO are the letters that go with the number 6 on a traditional telephone keypad.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

This puzzle has a TYPEO in it.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

Look, we all acknowledge that there is a little inside clique of people here who will laugh at each others' jokes and agree with each other no matter how foolish a comment is. It's nice that you are all so supportive of each other--I feel like I'm witnessing a lost souls support group or something. I happen to like the critics and the people (including Porker) who call Rex on his constant BS more than I like the blind cult members. That's the great thing about this space--you can do with it what you wish, in spite of all those who would push their version of the rules on the rest of us.

Roo Monster 1:34 PM  

Hey All !
Liked it for the fact of the constructioness. Hard to squeeze all that theme and still come out with an only partly dreck puz. So congrats Jacob.

Had to break down and Goog the poem. Had THE LOCUST TREE forever, and WILLIAM (blank) WILLIAMS, and everything filled except for the surrounding area of the missing poem parts. As not big on poetry, hands up for not knowing poem or poet. My SW is writeover city. Bathe->BROIL, MuDdy->MIDST, EcO-> EXO, COstume-> CORSETS. Rest of puz ok. Finished nicely after the Big Cheat!

Happy Mothers Day to all y'all!


Lon in Austin 1:38 PM  

so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater beside the white chickens

Ludyjynn 1:54 PM  

I'LLTELLYA, this one was GRUELING for me because my brain was not ALBRIGHT. Examples: bat for VAC; teal for CYAN; whaler for PEGLEG; replait for REWEAVE; Sakagawea for PRISCILLA; and the worst was "Secrets and Lies" even though it wouldn't fit (!) before "LIFEISSWEET"...YAO! I BUTCHERED it w/ writeovers.

Got WCW very early, but it took the whole solve to get the poem title and words. I prefer version one and would not have written it OVERAGAIN.

Loved Rancho CUCAMONGA, one of those fab. CA appellations. Hope to see it RECUR, though it riled so many others.

@Louis, a bone to pick: on Mother's Day, YOU should be making the pancakes for your Mom! But I like your "best puzzles" analysis.

@Whirred, very nice opus.

EGGWHITE omelets? Nah. The yolk is the yummy part of the egg. And doesn't 'latest research' show it's good for you?!

Liked the doggie mini-theme. You can't go wrong w/ Mother Nature and pooches.

Thanks, JS and WS. A DOFF of the hat to you.

Leapfinger 2:19 PM  


Welcome! B Koz of you, there's a song in my heart.

To me, Wm Carlos Wms is one of a cadre of physicians, such as Sam Ferrol Sams and Michael Crichton Michaels, who were moved to add writing to their healing skills. Some (like Sams) focused their writing on their medical experiences, while others (like Crichton) did not. It may be noteworthy that Wm C Wms never did quit his day job.

Did I enjoy this theme for a Sunday solve? UNH-UNH. But I went with it because, like Everest, it was there. Had some trouble-spots with PLan-PLOt-PLOY and with inventing GREENIfy (I really did). Wanted a zipline going between mountains, REplait for 'fix a braid', and had a 'tense' run through EXhibit and EXpound before getting to EXERTED. Thought trolls were only Annoyers, but apparently I'm wrong there. My nit-du-jour comes with ROLLING GAIT, which to me describes a seaman's gait, which doesn't have the 'swaying hips' that come with ROLLING RRRs.

Points to ponder:
When ISADORE DORA? Discuss.
We've moved from EAT DIRT to ATE DIRT; perhaps we'll be FED DIRT. By the PRO Fedder DIRT.
CORSETS were once used to get OVER A GAIN.
There's a tough spot between the PRI-SCILLA and the post-Charybdis.
Wasn't Oliver Twist GRUELING when he asked for more, please Sir?

If I may VENTURA thought: I'd rather a CUCAMONGAs than a bunch of CROCS.

Happy Mothers' Day to all who qualify in any capacity. Remember LIFE IS SWEET.

Roo Monster 2:27 PM  

Oh, and Realllllly wanted asshole for 32D. Really.


Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Thanks for so narrowly defining the purpose of this blog. I'll try for more of your straight and narrow in the future, and even though Porker is spot on, I'll skip him from now on.

NCA President 2:29 PM  

i know this isn't constructive as criticism, but it sums it up pretty well:

Did not like.

That is all.

AnonyMother 2:31 PM  

It behooves everyone to know Rancho Cucamonga. It is a fabulous name!

Never heard ofthe poem? That's AL_RIGHT. Never heard of WCW? Bunch of Philistines.

Waiting for The SALIENCES of the Lamas, which I will read with a nice Chianti.

Ha-ha, now I'm indulging myself.

As you were.

Melodious Funk 2:31 PM  

I don't post here often, though I read the blog daily, mainly for Rex's comments. Always erudite, sometimes with a wink, sometimes quite funny. An amusing few minutes for me.

I also scan the comments, reading the folks who say interesting things, ad hominem attacks, and trolls of course. I never read most though, some I assiduously avoid.

I would bet a dime to a coconut that there are others of my ilk; you'd never know because they don't post.

Melodious Funk 2:37 PM  

Does anyone remember Jack Benny's Sunday night radio show? Any least I think it was Sunday.

There was a bit on it where an announcer (probably Mel Blanc) was calling out a train schedule: "Train to Anaheim, Azusa, and Cuc...........amonga."

Do I remember correctly?

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

I, for one, find the comment board here much more interesting thanks to those who don't see their job as supporting Rex in whatever he writes.

Kris in ABCA 2:41 PM  

I played around with this one for about five minutes – not getting very far. I decided it probably wasn't worth my time. After reading Rex's review and the comments, I am not unhappy with my choice. Happy Mother's Day to me!

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Hear! Hear! (for Grammar Nazi).
Now - do any of you really think that WS really gives a shit about your WS-bashing? He's clever and consistent, and makes oodles for the times. Not over-erudite like most of you.
You go Porker! Apologies to the dude who tells us how to conduct ourselves on this blog.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Please see anon @2:43pm. Uh oh, third entry.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Rex's schtick is to be mean and nasty. I doubt he begrudges those who are mean and nasty back.

Sheila Bell 3:12 PM  

Glad I didn't get this one as a kid! Would have never had my love of xwords today! You don't have to love poetry for this stupidity!

Lewis 3:28 PM  

@ludy -- Oh, when I try to make a joke, I often fall flat, and here I did it again! But thank you for your kind words on my analysis...

Leapfinger 3:31 PM  

@Q-tina, the Locust trees I know have viciously long thorns that would make any shrike very very happy. I had to remove a volunteer that grew up right next to my driveway and it near did me in.

In my previous, I was going to add Ford Maddox Ford to the list, but forgot.

@paulsfo, Thank you.

@Luis, BROKENRIB is somewhat GREEN paintish, unless you happen to have one. In the absence of an airbag, striking the steering column might rather result in a fractured sternum than ribs, or costochonral tears (like @aketi, apparently), or cardiac contusion.

I'd planned to Sonny, BUT CHERED instead. Que Bono to date myself this way.

Speaking of dates, it's 35 years since The GREENING of America was published. We've come a long way, Baby.

Fred Romagnolo 3:58 PM  

@Melodius: Right on in everything. Benny never used "Rancho," just Cucamonga. BTW I located those 3 places on a map of Southern California; no way any possible train line could have included them, which makes it funnier. @Z with my students I was and still am Mr.R. @Mathguy: again in agreement, lower left was most difficult. I thought it a fair puzzle, knew the poet, not the poem. Crosses made it work. Now I know about GST, which is usually GsT. From the movie: Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) "When will you be AT AN END?"; Michaelangelo (Charleton Heston) "When I am finished." Done many times.

Fred Romagnolo 3:59 PM  

Sorry, usually GmT.

Fred Romagnolo 4:04 PM  

It was, of course, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, named after Pope Sixtus who was Pope Julius's uncle.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Seems perhaps nobody noticed Edgar LEE Masters [Spoon River Anthol] in the NW poetry corner.
This was a TEST.


It's better to deep-FRYE than BROIL a DONUT, right?

White men can't jump, according to a No VAULT policy.

Zeus was the last IO DATE.

As you were.

jae 5:12 PM  

Me too for REplait at first.

@Joseph Welling  - I suspect you've never attempted a TV Guide puzzle.  Those things are Natick City!   For example, in the May issue 1a is "Director von Trier" (4 letters) crossed with 1d On the ____ (3 letters), 2d Scandal network  (3letters), 3d Android on Logan's Run (3 letters), and 4d Church Street _____ (7 letters).   The 15a clue, which crosses all of the above,  is "Ad agency that employed Darrin on Bewitched (3wds) (13letters).  I'll stick with the obscure stuff in the NYT. 

paulsfo 5:17 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo
: as far as I can tell, GMT is *not* the same as GST (and, in fact, GMT seems to be an obsolete term for another time). However, when I started to look into it, I decided that life was too short. :) Here are the various times, per Wikipedia. Note that there are *two* sideral times, and neither one is the same as what used to be called GMT and is now called UT1, it appears.

** Atomic Times
TAI - International Atomic Time
UTC - Coordinated Universal Time
TDT - Terrestrial Dynamic Time (TT)
TDB - Barycentric Dynamic Time (TCB)

** Earth Rotation Times
UT1 - Universal Time
GMST - Greenwich Mean Sidereal Time
GAST - Greenwich Apparent Sidereal Time
LMST - Local Mean Sidereal Time
LST - Local Sidereal Time

if there is an astronomer on the list, maybe they can clear this up. :)

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

Love WCW. Once wrote a 20 page paper analyzing the imagery in The Red Wheelbarrow. The real problem with the puzzle for this Italian New York native is I have never folded a slice of oily cheese pizza made by anyone named Angelo. Frank, Joe, Tony, maybe even a Phil once in awhile. But never an Angelo. Seriously, is everyone with a name ending in a vowel presumed to be a pizza maker? Boo.

Alan_S. 5:17 PM  

That's two Sunday clunkers in a row! It seems the attempt to make the Sunday puzzle a little more challenging, which I agree it should be, is coming at the expense of losing the entertainment value which is even more important. Haven't had a really good aha moment in weeks!

Btw, according to Imdb E.T.'s Elliot is spelled with one T not two.

wreck 5:18 PM  

Is the TV Guide still published?? It must be 2" thick these days!
The puzzle was a real slog for me. I should have come here first!

Barbara 5:18 PM  

I am many hours behind all you folks, here in Hawaii. I get the paper in the morning on my lawn under plumeria trees (old, broken branches just starting to have white blossoms and it's May again). It was a hard job, this puzzle, but a mother's- day- glass- of -champagne- with- strawberry- in- it later, and after reading all your posts, and re-reading WCW's wonderful little poem (2nd version) I am almost in tears and just want to sit down and write a poem myself, which is the best gift I could possibly be given on this Day. Thank you JS, and WS, and Rex, too.

MamaKarma 5:20 PM  

I am frankly shocked that so many posters here don't know WCW! I didn't love a lot of the fill here, but agree that it was an impressive feat, to get author, name and poem in one puzzle. So what if some of the fill was not ideal? Plenty of good stuff also: Cucamonga, saliences, ironers.

Although I'm a faithful reader of Rex, this is my first time commenting, as I am usually too intimidated by all you amazingly smart people. Don't get me wrong. I still think you're smart, but it turns out we all have knowledge gaps!

KFC 5:21 PM  

@Melodius - You could have answered your own question if you had read Carola's 11:25 comment.

paulsfo 5:23 PM  

@Anonymous at 5:17pm

> Love WCW. Once wrote a 20 page paper analyzing the imagery in The Red Wheelbarrow

There is something terribly wrong (not to mention futile) about that endeavor. :)

MamaKarma 5:32 PM  

I certainly do agree version 1 of this poem is better. But for those of you who dislike poetry, as word lovers (I assume, or you would not do the NYT puzzles), you are missing a lovely, lively art. It's been 50 years since high school poetry interpretation for me, but I recently tried out a local poetry class. Challenging! But as a "wordy" it was as much fun as cooking classes are for me as a "foody."

Z 5:52 PM  

An excerpt of an analysis of THE LOCUST TREE IN FLOWER with which I disagree:

A counter-example can be found in William Carlos Williams’s poem, “The Locust Tree in Flower," a thirteen-word, thirteen-line poem, itself a revision of a twenty-four line poem, which offers us the very opposite of abstraction. Williams, in this poem and elsewhere, seeks the concrete world with such fervency that he wills himself out of the poem, erasing the distinction between observer and observed. Like any good Taoist, he wishes for nature to speak for herself, and certainly his technique mimics the subtle speed and resurgence with which spring reanimates life outdoors. Even the very shape of the poem on the page resembles a tree poking its trunk from the ground. Ultimately, though, a vision of the world reduced to such compressed and even banal descriptors (“green," “old," “bright," “sweet”) cannot work as art in its highest sense. It presumes too much: that the author has distilled some essence of the locust tree that other language could not adequately convey; that the reader, through contemplating those thirteen words, is able to fill in the blanks and reproduce the kind of feeling that Williams had when he wrote the poem; that subjectivity can, in any real sense, be circumvented, even in a haiku-like verse form. In the end, any claim to “objective” reality, or to things as they are, reveals Williams’ narcissistic hope of grafting himself to the tangible, mineral world, thereby giving his words the permanence and durability of objects. Yet the scope of poetry is potentially much broader. Elsewhere, in Paterson, Williams has written, “I am aware of the stream / that has no language, coursing / beneath the quiet heaven of / your eyes / which has no speech,"—but if not the poet to capture those streams and coursings in speech, then whom?

Early every morning I'm walking out my front door to walk Sam. To me the poem is a perfect encapsulation of the world I walk out into. I think I experience "the kind of feeling that Williams had when he wrote the poem. Not an extra word is needed.

@Andrew Heinegg - What @LMS said.

Ludyjnn 6:00 PM  

@Louis, Sorry about that; I should have known you were kidding. I am being particularly dense today.

I was just watering the garden and all this poetry talk inspired me. It has been years since I wrote a poem, but here goes nothing--















That was fun.
Please don't tell me it sucks!

gpo 6:09 PM  

Someone wrote:

"Quelle slog! I hated solving this puzzle; I agree with everything Rex said; and I liked the Anon who called it a "feat" puzzle. It's all about the prowess of the constructor, with no payoff for the solver."

Um, isn't solving the puzzle the payoff?

Also, guys, the negative comments seem to predominantly from people who didn't know the poem. I never heard of the poem either, which is the reason this took me almost an hour to do. The rest of it was hard, hard hard too.

But I really enjoyed it, especially when it was done.

Also, should out to the Phil Zone, I was able to get Cucamonga, as in "Pride of Cucamonga."

You people need to lighten up.

Leapfinger 7:14 PM  

@Z, that last bit, about the stream that has no language... Lovely! And written in Paterson!!

@ludyjynn: Doesn't suck.

Alan 7:36 PM  

Slog, sloggity slog. On reflection, the fill doesn't seem as bad as it seemed while working, but I could not get on the wavelength of the cluing. hold/lie before GRAB/ACT, don before ADD, sODium/REtwist before IODATE/REWEAVE, and more, and a lot of general starting and jumping around.

And for the record, ANATomy is not a subject for the MCAT. Basic biology, chemistry, physics principles, often in the context of biological systems, verbal skills, and, newly, psychology and sociology. No anatomy. Yes, premeds may have taken an anatomy class, and if they get into med school they'll take a real anatomy class, but it ain't on the MCAT.

Lewis 8:10 PM  

@ludy -- Good one! I pictured the whole thing, flittering and all.

Teedmn 8:42 PM  

@ludyjynn, very evocative of image. A mere 8 syllables longer than a haiku and similarly concise.

That's what is great about this blog, that the puzzle and resulting discussion so often inspires art, poetry or punnishness to elevate the whole, even with its measure of negativity. And that's as deep as I get on this chilly, rainy day.

Til the morrow...

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

@Alan S, Wiki has it as Elliott, and so does IMDb, in the 'official' listings. I only saw one-t Elliot in the Storyline section, which is done by guest authors, so that was likely an individual's error.

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

I was fearing my root canal tomorrow until I did this puzzle..nothing could be as long and painful as this garbage puzzle.

Aketi 9:15 PM  

@leapfinger, my brother the firefighter paramedic is recovering from an operation on his arm, or I would have called him up to ask what are the most frequent injuries he sees when airbags don't deploy, Had I not spent a glorious day in the Botanical Gardens I might have been as prone to nightmares from your comment about the sternum and cardiac confusion as I was from the notion of teeth on snails. :)

Instead I did a quick google search and found one peer reviewed journal article that reported that airbags reduced the risk of cranium and facial injuries, but not chest injuries. In fact it suggested that in the US, that there are reports of airbags causing rib fractures, heart valve injuries and cardiac ruptures. Granted my quickie search was a long way from a Cochran review and my knowledge of anatomy is fairly superficial.


Too tired to look up who commented on ZIPLINE instead of ROPEWAY. I put ZIPLINE in first and was deeply disappointed with ROPEWAY even though I know it would be challenging to stretch a ZIPLINE from one mountain to another.

Paige Reader 9:48 PM  

Roses are read
Violets are blue
Your pithy comments
Make me love you.

Nettie 9:55 PM  

Finally subscribed to the online crossword this weekend. Either this was WAY harder than a normal Sunday, or my brain resides partly in my pen...

NCA President 10:12 PM  








Mohair Sam 10:36 PM  

So we started this one with the gimme NORWAY, within seconds we had CLOWN, RHEIN, something FLAT, and hence EGGWHITE. That gave us the second WI in WILLIAMS and I looked at Mrs. M this Mother's Day and said, "30's poet? WI? That'll be WILLIAMCARLOSWILLIAMS." So she said, "OK, name a few of his poems and we'll have this baby knocked off." Couldn't do it, can't do it, but didn't have to do it. The long, and apparently obscure title filled after quite a battle. But we got her.

Unlike @Rex and most all y'all I enjoyed this one. I accept that some puzzles will be about things of which I know little. WCW an unforgettable name from High School and college required English courses, we should all know it. As for the title of the poem - it's a Sunday Times puzzle, you're not supposed to know everything, the title filled for most solvers - what's your problem?

One complaint - I'm with @anon 5:17. Angelo's is a common pizza joint name? Really? Never seen an Angelo's, he may be out there - but sure as heck ain't common.

But I digress - Fun puzz Jacob Stulberg - keep 'em coming.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

@Mohair thank you for talking sense. Today was one of the worst examples of people being proud of their ignorance I have ever seen on this blog. Rex set the tone, and his minions followed, one after the other, bragging about how unfamiliar they were with one of the greatest writers in American literature. Appalling.

Arlene 11:01 PM  

I guess I should chime in here - I really enjoyed solving this puzzle! I knew WCW and enjoyed filling in the circles and all the rest. Interesting how our tastes and experiences differ.

dick swart 11:05 PM  

i remember wow from modern poetry 5-6 with jack o'neill at williams in 1954. but that's all.

if another constructor falls under the spell of a modernist muse, may I recommend:


re: cucamonga. here is the story of three small so cal towns and a famous joke of the time. cummings stops here.

"Arguably the top gag of all time was a line on The Jack Benny Program that made national icons out of three formerly obscure Southern California towns. The story goes like this:

On the night of Jan. 7, 1945, millions of Americans listening to Benny's top-rated weekly radio show heard Jack and his friends chit-chatting as they were about to hop on a train in Los Angeles' Union Station. In the background, the conductor (comedian Mel Blanc) was heard announcing, “Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga.” But he exaggerated the name of the third city to sound like “Cuuuu-Camonga.”

The line struck funny bones across the country, and what had been written as a one-time joke became a permanent part of the act. It was heard again and again on the radio show – never failing to produce thigh-slapping laughs – and when the show switched to TV in the 50s the line went with it.

It was used on and off until the series ended 15 years later. By then, the “train leaving” joke had made Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga – once just specks on the map – some of the most recognized spots in America."

kitshef 12:12 AM  

Surprised and the vitriol out there for what I thought was an OK (but no more than that) Sunday. SALIENCES and ANGERER are junk, but there was way more junk in a couple of other puzzles this week, and of course a Sunday puzzle has more words and so more opportunity for junk.

On the plus side, I learned a bit about a poet with whom I was unfamiliar. Also like the clue/answer for BUTCHERED.

Natick at GST/SPCA; had GmT. Why is a question mark not required for the clue for 122A? Doubt I would have gotten it anyway, but I might have looked at that cross again.

My puzzle is a mess with an unusual number of over-writes. don before ADD, Cwt before CTN, IODinE before IODATE, EddaS before EpicS, teAl before CYAN, gOndola before ROPEWAY, wee before LIL, HYrax before HYENA, dietERS before IRONERS, ArGuRER before ANGERER (don't ask), Mindifi before MAYISEE. Phew!

Jon Murphy 12:56 AM  

I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trouser's rolled. I notice in the FAQ's that Rex explains that Eugene Maleska was Will Weng's predecessor, I felt that the Times puzzle went downhill when he succeeded Margaret Farrar.

Concur with Dick S. on the Anaheim, etc. line, I religiously listened to Benny's show in '45 at age 10. Also for Dick, I was at The College of New Jersey (renamed Princeton U. in the 1870's) when you were at Williams, was exposed to the same poets - but won't go with the Cummings typing.

I think WCW must have been taking some of his own prescriptions when he called this second version poetry. I understand that poetry need not rhyme, but as a sequence of words it should have some form of metrical form or emotional connection. Perhaps there is some in parts of this - but "among of", of doesn't follow among in any way. Perhaps it was meant as a mnemonic for the original.

As to ROPEWAY, no way. No rope could support weight between mountains - even cable needs intervening supports.

My basic objection to the modern Times puzzles is that there is too little vocabulary and too much filler from contemporary pop culture. I have to cheat with Google far too often, although I try to make it an indirect cheat by using a search on the basic subject. Here's to Margaret Farrar, may God rest her soul and bring us back someone of her caliber.

Davis 3:07 AM  

I don't understand the choice of poem here. WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS is a fine choice of poet, but how about a poem that's actually accessible? This "second version" of his poem seems like an exercise in navel-gazing, more apt to alienate us philistines who like a little syntax in our poetry.

There needs to be a better reason for this choice of poem than "that's the only one the constructor could fit in." Sometimes the constructor's skill lies in recognizing when it's time to scrap an idea, despite all the work that's gone in. (Over at Crossword Fiend this puzzle has the lowest average reader score I've ever seen, so I'm clearly not alone in feeling this way.)

Leapfinger 6:51 AM  

@Aketi, I hope your brother is recovering well from his procedure. I'm sure he's seen a lot of interesting things (comes with the territory, doesn't it?), but when it comes to identifying 'most common', you really have to look past individual experience and get into some overall statistics. The things I mentioned are the most common, but the potentially most severe consequences that should be at least be considered in such accidents.
btw, those snails' teeth are really tiny 'denticles' on a single radula (or tongue), so they don't actually bite, just rasp away. Even though those little teeth are made of a very hard substance, it doesn't take much to get away from them. Hope all that leaves you feeling better.
ps: zipline was mine too; much more satisfying.

@dick swart, Williams in '54, eh? A whole contingent of grandniece/ nephews went there also; loved it and did well there.

Elle54 7:31 AM  

I have to say I liked it!

ghkozen 8:41 AM  

Maybe I'm a philistine, but I fail to see how the author having a certain belief, especially something as inane as "the power of words over thought" (what does that even mean anyway??) can transform the second version from anything other than God-awful. I measure on the product itself.

If belief counts, I want people to know I sincerely believe this comment is the next great American novel.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

I knew WCW but not this poem. I have to say I found the puzzle harder than usual and not a lot of fun. I'm beginning to see that only Sunday puzzles I really like are the ones with bad puns. We need laughs!

Another WCW poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" was just quoted on a TV show.... was it Mad Men?

Hugh 9:13 AM  

Totally respect any constructor who can fit a relatively unknown (for me anyway) poem, author and title of said poem into a grid - an impressive feat. Sadly, impressive feats do not always result in a fun crossword - I had NO FUN AT ALL this week.

I've enjoyed many puzzles that I can't finish or find more challenging than most - this was not one of them - not one AHA moment and only one minor chuckle - unlike Rex, I liked the cluing for IRONERS.

Too many errors and cross overs in the grid to mention, but I steered myself wrong is so many places. My wife, who I met while she was pursuing her PhD in English Lit, helped me with the author but even that yielded nothing for me.

Many of the clues with the circles were the easiest for me to get - some I thought a bit too straightforward and simple for a Sunday, but not knowing the poem, did not help me at all.

I get a big kick out of learning new things, from the puzzles as well as from this great blog, and saying that this was a bad puzzle simply because I did not know WCW and I"m not a poetry fan is not fair. I didn't like the puzzle simply because I had no fun at all doing it. Again, I respect what it took to construct it, but there was no enjoyment for me in the solve. And honestly, the new knowledge that I did gain...eh...I'd be just as happy without it...

If there was a collection of "Poetry Based Crosswords" for folks of that bent, this would be a gem...

Have a great week all!

Billy C 9:40 AM  

@hugh --

Well said, no fun doing iti.

@GPO above said that solving the puzzle is the payoff.

True, it's satisfying having solved the puzzle, which I did, via the crosses. But the enjoyment of a puzzle is in the process. This for me was totally spoiled by Shortzes bad judgement of having a Sunday theme that most puzzlers would have NO knowledge of.

Some commenters claim that anyone not familiar with Williams (and some of his work) have inexcusable educational gaps. Ex-CUSE me. I happen to have graduate school degrees from two of the finest schools in the country, but have never heard of him. My fields are engineering and business, and have had the basic required English courses in HS and undergrad college, that's all. Never heard of him. IMO, I'm far from alone here.

To hell with you, Shortz!

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

DBF (didn't bother to finish). Decided to watch paint dry. Awful puzzle.

Best, Jon

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

Took forever- learned nothing. Kept switching back from equally annoying Cryptic. Actually got WCW from LOS and i ♡ good poetry but not this Haikuey type crap. Used to wait with baited-breath for Sunday mag. Now, mostly take headache meds. ROLLING GAIT? ROPEWAY? ELIST? Ugh. As for ANGERERS, If you've never experienced a pathetic troll just tweet #gunsense.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Hey, @Imfromjersey - "In A Station of the Metro" is not by WCW. It is by Ezra Pound.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

I've only just begun this puzzle, but I can't get anywhere because of all the pop culture references that no doubt are gimmees to Rex. Well, it's not actually that they're so many, but that they take up key locations and some are quite long. (Devoting 11 squares to an obscure 1990 dramedy is ridiculous. Why does Stulberg think that if he watched a show, everybody else should have watched it too?)

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

Earlier when I first examined this puzzle I complained bitterly about 97A and 102A for being pop culture references that were major obstacles. However, once I googled them in order to get started, I discovered a brilliant puzzle that I absolutely loved. Almost no gimmees, and no clues to which I had any serious objection. Very numerous solutions that made me say aloud AHA, OHO, smile, or even LOL. Beautiful cluing that disguises the answer without distorting the definition. Very very satisfying. Now, as to the criticism that the theme doesn't in any way build upon itself, because the poem is just random words describing a tree in bloom and don't words don't form a coherent sentence or phrase. I actually think this is a strength. This puzzle has got to be solved on the non-theme clues, which are darned hard in themselves, and after you solve them, the theme appears last of all. I think the concept is brilliant! I still maintain that Stulberg could have come up with a better known family of Elliotts than those in the movie "ET" and found a better way to word in the theme word "sweet" without such an egregiously obscure reference to the 1990 thing. But looking beyond them, this is one fabulous puzzle. Great cluing and an unusual (if not unique) thematic concept. Well done Jacob!!!

Anonymous 11:55 PM  

this poem/puzzle both awful. commenters supporting it: mostly hideously self-aggrandizing, left wing fools, who find "art" anywhere its endowed with adulation of their uber-peers. undoubtedly same supported "PISS CHRIST" as avant- garde, genius art.

Jane 9:57 AM  

Funny, coming after this rant by "anonymous" but I found the puzzle easy at first...then frustratingly challenging...and I liked finding the poem hidden in the grid. So interesting that the comments kept returning to "What makes a poem a poem?" I love the way Williams pushed what a poem can do. And I agree with those who see that this poem pushes farther than the first version. The poetry part was utterly delightful for me. I didn't know the Mike Leigh film. So what? There are always bits of the Sunday puzzles that are tough for me. Usually modern songs or television references. For me...and obscure poem (which I have read) by a famous poet is far easier. I loved the clue for "eider" ..."What may make you duck down?" but I couldn't get it for the longest time. I kept thinking physically. Viva la difference.


spacecraft 1:30 PM  

It's a "feat" puzzle, all right--and the "feat" smell! I came close to DNFing. Yes, WCW went in quickly, but no, That poem did not. I needed almost every cross. The entire SW resisted entry so hard I almost gave up. AMONG the many things I've never heard of:

-->ALL the NE acrosses. ROPEWAY? Is that a thing? ATEDIRT for "showed humility?" I guess, metaphorically, but yikes! And GOGGLED? As a VERB? Hmm, the jockey GOGGLED his face with eight pair before the Preakness (good thing, too: he needed all of them. Unless he was riding the wire-to-wire winner. All hail American Pharaoh!)

--> Anything ever written in CFLAT. Does such a key even exist? And in the other direction, TLC as applied to a fixer-upper?? Yet what else could it be? That square was really troublesome for me. The only reason I went with C was that no sense could be made of TLA, TLB, TLD or TLE.

-->Mike Leigh, let alone his 1990 comedy-drama.

-->Oh yeah, and that FRYE dude.

So yes, today was a slog. When there are no other rewards besides getting through it, we're not having tons of fun over here.

I acknowledge the feat: B. (Defect: obscure work by famous poet).

I smell the feet (fill). Raunchy. F.

Combined grade: How fitting--a shout-out to Mr. Schulz in this very grid! Can you guess, sir? How about that: I found some joy after all!

rondo 1:50 PM  

Don’t know why I spent the time to actually finish, maybe that A.M. rain. Or maybe because I co-habitated next door to one of WCM’s descendants for about 10 years and there could be some insight to her lifestyle. But no. Time not well spent.

It seems that I can hear Mel Blanc calling out CUCAMONGA as the last stop of a train line.

Enough of this ILLTELL you. MAYISEE something more interesting next time?

7367 not much

Burma Shave 2:04 PM  


how GRUELING it feels to repeat ONCE, and OVERAGAIN
that my parents ATEDIRT when their car VAULTed OVER a cliff,
cops REMOVED their bodies days later, one could CPA and MASTIFF.


rain forest 4:24 PM  

Two sittings: 1 1/2 hours total. I just couldn't get anything up North, so I went South and started chipping away working diagonally upwards. WILLIAMS gave the author, and a toehold in the NE. At this point, I became motivated to finish what I thought was a creative and well-constructed puzzle. Tough cluing, sure, but it was fair.

Ultimately, though, I finished with the famous @Dirigonzo OWS-at the GST/SPCA cross. Really should have got that.

It took a long time, but I never thought it was a slog--more an adventure with the payoff being sussing out the poem. I've always wanted to appreciate poetry, and I appreciated this poem, and this puzzle.

Correctly identified sandwiches for the captcha.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Haaaated it! And made me hate poetry even more and it made me want to kick Will in the Shortz!

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

U suck

BS2 7:44 PM  

Poetry is a wonderful thing. +/- 100 days in a row for me on this blog, sometimes more than 1 per day.

502 not bad?

mellisa lopez 10:21 PM  

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mellisa lopez 10:24 PM  

"I am so happy to share this wonderful testimony about Dr Brave, my name is Mellisa Jefferson I am 34 years old, I live in Florida united states, I am happily married to Sowers Jefferson with three kids we got married in 2006 I am a banker but due to some certain family conditions I had to quit my job so I could have time for my family my husband works in a construction company not long ago around may 2015 my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very Confused by the way he treat me and the Kids. Later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i Done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce That he hate me and do not want to see Me again in his life, i was mad and also Frustrated do not know what to do,i was Sick for more than 4 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is Incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believed in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Brave for the return of my husband to me, he told me that my husband have Been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then he told me that he have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to Me and the kids, he casted the spell and After 27hours my husband called me and He told me that i should forgive him, he Started to apologize on phone and said That he still loves me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that Dr Brave on him that brought him back to me today, i and my family Are now happy again today. thank you Dr Brave for what you have done for me i would have been nothing Today if not for your great spell. i want You my friends who are passing through All this kind of love problem of getting Back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact him on this email: bravespellcaster@gmail.com , web site:http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/ . and you will see that your problem will be solved Without any delay or effect cell number +2348072370762 Thanks for reading. ."

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

Yeah, I'm with most of you on this one. I can't even find the poem on line (haven't tried all that hard, but I shouldn't have to).

And C Flat is B, isn't it? Everything I know about music tells me that C and B are only a half-step apart. Maybe I don't know enough.

This is the type of Sunday puzzle I generally have no shot at finishing...yet somehow I did, without error. Still, no satisfaction. No no no. Hey hey hey. That's what I say.

Joseph McGrath 3:21 PM  

Man, what a great example of existentialism. I am snapping my fingers as I type. My favorite? Put forth: exerted! Need a beer right NOW.

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