Turbaned believer / TUE 9-8-15 / Figure on soldier's poster in WW II / Bygone video game inits / Fifth-century pope known as great / Swiss river to Rhine

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: PG THIRTEEN (60A: Somewhat family-friendly ... or a title for this puzzle, as suggested by the completed grid?) —two-letter string "PG" appears thirteen times in the grid

Word of the Day: APGAR (70A: ___ score (neonatal measure)) —
Virginia Apgar invented the Apgar score in 1952 as a method to quickly summarize the health of newborn children. Apgar was an anesthesiologist who developed the score in order to ascertain the effects of obstetric anesthesia on babies. // The Apgar scale is determined by evaluating the newborn baby on five simple criteria on a scale from zero to two, then summing up the five values thus obtained. The resulting Apgar score ranges from zero to 10. The five criteria are summarized using words chosen to form a backronym (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration). From each column in the table below, the infant is given a score of 0, 1 or 2. The scores are added up and the total is their Apgar score. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. This one. Uh ... OK, so the long Downs are actually pretty nice. But the rest, hoo boy. I mean, there's no way to say this except to just say it: the fill is really, really, really bad. Objectively. Like a war crime coupled with a natural disaster coupled with tofurky. I have one screenshot from early on entitled "Not Promising":

[I thought maybe if I followed ANWAR across the grid to his last name, the fill might get better over there ... but no. Oh, no.]

You can smell Terrible early, and this smelled terrible. But, improbably, it immediately got worse. The very next answer I filled in was AAR ... and then ... well, a minute or so later I literally exclaimed "WHAT IS HAPPENING?," which then became the title of the next screenshot:

[I need a PRIE-dieu to beg god "No, god please, no"]

I claim that that northern section, where CMII sits on ASSN and crosses MSGR *and* ISAO *and* INSUM, is the worst northern section ever found in any mainstream puzzle anywhere. Ever. Consider that a dare. The density of junk there is black-hole-ish. That section is nearly but not quite equaled by its counterpart in the south (SOUTH!—one of the puzzle's rare reasonable words), where IPSO and STLEO double-team ERSE OTOS in one of the most repulsive crosswordese orgies ever seen by human eyeballs. And that's just two small sections of this thing. I count a full two dozen (!) answers that I would put in the "avoid if at all possible" category. Stuff you want to keep to a bare minimum. Maybe you can accept six or so of these kinds of answers per puzzle. But... 6 < 24. 6 x 4 = 24. But on the plus side, it's got a terrorist? Man ... man oh man. Is this really what gives you pleasure, mainstream crossword-solving audience? Is this it? Wading through a crosswordese oil spill to find 13 PGs, most of which are huddled together in fear and/or shame? I just can't believe it. Or, I can, but then I drink to forget.

Happy Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve J 12:17 AM  

Fftn. abbvs. in 1 puz. is a rly. excsve. amt. Gd. Lrd.

I have low expectations for Tuesdays, but of late they seem to be so, so bad. Sure, PG isn't a common letter string in English, so I suppose it's impressive that the constructor found 13 words/phrases with those letters. But not at the expense of so much crappy fill.

Speaking of crap, does 11D ever actually appear anywhere in the wild? I can't recall ever seeing the dice game referred to in any form without being pluralized.

wreck 12:18 AM  

I claimed I would never bitch about any Tuesday puzzle.........

Andy 12:22 AM  

Seems like Rex thought this puzzle was nothing but a bunch of CRAPGAMES. I kind of agree.

And isn't the game called Craps? It's not a plural noun, it's a singular noun that ends with an s, so shouldn't "Casino activities with dice" be CRAPSGAMES?

jp flanigan 12:37 AM  

"Then I drink to forget". I laughed at that (with my own drink in my hand) and i immediately started thinking about a potential puzzle theme of misspelled drinks, or ones you forgot the names of: Rusted-Nail, Cosmopoli-ten, Surely-Temple, Crass-Hopper...and now i can't stop. Bold-Fashioned...damnit!

RAD2626 12:39 AM  

Just totally agree. One bad fill after another you think, ooh, that is a terrible abbreviation, say, MSGR, and then there is a worse Roman numeral in the top row. Really quite painful to solve.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

And 11 abbreviations, alas.

Ellen S 12:52 AM  

It's interesting how much more ... nicely @Jeff Chen says basically the same thing as @Rex. Jeff gave a technical dissertation, saying the glue was necessitated to accommodate the themers. So, maybe the theme just wasn't the best idea. And the two blog posts, I'm sorry to say, are pretty much the most interesting thing I found about today's puzzle. That and it's pretty much the same level of easiness as yesterday. So is the progress from here to Saturday going to be an exponential curve, like the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 500 years? Monday easy, Tuesday easy, Wednesday maybe will be a little harder, Thursday a tiny bit harder, Friday harder, Saturday impossible?

Aside from the easiness and the gluiness, two things kinda bothered me. One is ELSE clued as "In addition". How does "else" mean "and"? The other is REOIL. What engine part do you maintain by re-oiling it? Is there such a thing? Don't you drain the crankcase and add new oil, and the car's circulatory system takes care of oiling the parts? Am I supposed to periodically pull my car's engine, dissasemble it, remove the oil from the cylinders and reoil them? Back in the 70s I had a teak coffee table (in the living room; the kitchen was of course done up in avocado and harvest gold). I used to REOIL it occasionally. I'd sometimes squirt oil into the axle of my bicycle, and into the "insert oil here" spots on my sewing machine. But I never REOILed a car part even in the olden days before all the lube spots were sealed. And no mechanic ever listed REOILing among the labor charges when I'd bring the car in for maintenance. Maybe St.. Leo is the patron saint of people who don't REOIL their cars and was watching over me, because they always ran for years and years and years; I'd trade them in out of sheer boredom.

John Ray 1:21 AM  

Agreed, Rex.

Simply one of the worst puzzles ever.

jae 1:53 AM  

Medium for me.  No real problems with this one.


AAR minus the E.  You'll never see ISERE without the E.

Once Upon a Time in America and Once Upon a Time in the West are well worth seeing.  Leone is amazing.  Plus Ennio Morricone shows up in crosswords every now and then.

Liked the theme enough to give the fill a pass. 

chefwen 2:13 AM  

The highlight of this puzzle for me was SWAMP GAS over CAMP GROUND which is exactly what I remember from all the CAMPs my parents banished me to when I was a kid. GOD! I hated going to camp, at least for the first week (homesickness and all) the second week was a blast. Kids, whadda they know?

Liked this one a lot more than Rex, but I'm pretty easy to please.

All those PG's reminded me of Puzzle Girl, sure do miss her blog.

tkr 4:59 AM  

This puzzle is so bad it made me write in for the the first time. Cluing "in addition" as ELSE when ALSO should fit makes no sense to me and makes me think it was originally ALSO and got reworked without fixing the clue. I mean, minor point, but ELSE means 'in alternative'. It does not mean 'in addition'.

Also, crossing three names and a foreign word in a corner is just weak sauce. Why not include a link to google in the puzzle title?

Music man 6:16 AM  

Yeah, 3d alone ruined the whole puzzle for me, let alone everything else you mentioned. Disappointing.

Z 6:44 AM  

I would have really enjoyed 4A if the clue had been "MLXV years before Super Bowl I."

Hilary0 6:47 AM  

I saw this as a two-theme puzzle: the PG thing and the crosswordese thing. I actually starting laughing halfway through because of the abbreviations and the crosswordese.

Jennifer Freeman 6:57 AM  

Your comments almost made the puzzle worthwhile.

Loren Muse Smith 6:59 AM  

Ok. Cue collective eye roll. I really liked this puzzle, and when I talk about how much I like a puzzle that Rex despises, that most are panning, I feel a little scared. However…

Here's an example of how the way my solver brain is wired to appreciate the theme over the fill. I did notice some of the fill that is objectionable, but it all faded into the rear-view mirror as the theme hit me. When I got PG THIRTEEN, I was on full alert, remembering Gorski's puzzle from 2012. What was cool in hers was that there was no reveal, but each themer was a 13-letter two-word phrase whose words began with P and G. I was surprised this morning, wondering if the theme was being repeated. When I figured out what was going on, I had a very satisfying aha moment.

And those "huddled together in shame" triple-stacked PG guys were my favorite groups. Look at those two long nine stacks. Themselves terrific entries notwithstanding (@Steve J, @Andy – I don’t have a problem with CRAP GAMES), it couldn’t have been that easy to stack two nines, but to stack them with a precisely-placed side-by-side P and G, and each stack crosses two across themers…?! Maybe it was easier to do this than I realize? I dunno. I was impgressed.

@Ellen S - REOIL looks really funny. I don’t know from car engines, but I do have a wooden salad bowl I reoil from time to time.

Wanted "who" before WHY.

No, SADAT didn't follow ANWAR coming across, and that would have been elegant, but PUP followed CAMPGROUND, so, well, that was kind of nice, no? @joho – good one on the SWAMP GAS CAMPGROUND!

Rex, you asked, "Is this really what gives you pleasure, mainstream crossword-solving audience? Is this it?" Well, yes. I won't let myself feel ashamed that I liked it, though. Even after reading and understanding your points, I still like it. A lot. I’ll go over and stand with @jae – the theme made the questionable fill worth it.

Glimmerglass 7:24 AM  

Once, playing Scrabble, I added 2 Rs and an E to the word RINSE. My wife cried foul! but she eventually conceded that RERINSER might be sort of a word. I hadn't seen an idea as ridiculous until REOIL [a car].

tkr 7:29 AM  

@Steve J

I don't really like CRAPGAMES either but I can think of at least one highly notable reference:


Lobster11 7:30 AM  

One might be forgiven for accusing OFL of hyperbole when he writes, "the worst northern section every found in any mainstream puzzle anywhere.... but not quite equalled by its counterpart in the south... in one of the most repulsive crosswordese orgies ever seen by human eyeballs." Unless one has actually done the puzzle, that is, in which case one might be forgiven for accusing him of understatement.

Greg Falcon 7:42 AM  

Fully agreed, this was just terrible. Solving this puzzle made me grumpy, something a puzzle has never done before.

The low point for me was the revealer. P and G were the first letters I had in it, which made me think I must have had APPTS wrong. (APPTS, sigh.) Then I get PG THIRTEEN, and my grouchy reaction was "that's it?" If the theme were interesting or funny, we might all be a little less irritated about the bad fill. Or maybe if there were more answers like APGAR. But PG was almost always at a word boundary, so who cares? It's an unimpressive trick.

Lewis 7:42 AM  

@rex -- You are at your best when you're panning, and you struck gold here.

I thought the theme was cute -- it brought on a smile -- and it helped me, actually, with one answer. Besides the old-feeling fill were some answers I liked and don't see too often: STOPGAP, INTOODEEP, CAPGUN, WASHRAG, and NESTEGG. I didn't get the clue for PGA. HIGH is fairly low, and SOUTH is west, and PUP crosses a backward PETS. No clues that struck my fancy, and I hope for a handful on Tuesday. So not a wow, but not a waste of time. I know a puzzle is a waste of time when I get a headache in the middle or rip it up, and neither came close to happening.

joho 7:43 AM  

I learned TOPGEAR.

You can go to concerts in both ARENAS and VENUES.

I think the Tinman in "The Wizard Of Oz" wanted to be REOILed.

I briefly thought SWAMPGAS might be cowfartS.

The theme is dense and surely difficult to pull off and the reveal is nice and, of course, the perfect description of what's going on.

My favorite answer: INTOODEEP.

Thank you, Jacob!

AliasZ 8:03 AM  

Any crossword that starts with MAO can't be good. As much as I tried to get into the spirit of things after that inauspicious beginning, I just couldn't.

PG-13, shmeegee thirteen.

P.G. Wodehouse,
Scared of a mouse,
Asked his man Jeeves:
"Dice me some cheese,
And without raising an alarm,

Set up the trap."
But with a snap,
Mickey was gone --
Off to Saigon,
His sweetheart Minnie on his arm.

Enjoy a glass Pinot Grigio.

Mohair Sam 8:07 AM  

In a different way this was a very enjoyable Tuesday puzzle in this household. As we worked from top (CMII, AAR, OSAMA) to middle (ONEA, IRES, DOA), to bottom (OTOS, LIC) our anticipation of @Rex's comments grew and grew. And he certainly did not disappoint.

No theme, however clever, is worth fill this weak - although Rex's comments were well worth the slog through the swamp.

Agree with the multitude on the ELSE clue.

Colby 8:21 AM  

Absolutely awful. How does a puzzle like this make the NYT? UTENN? I swear that was just made up. I live in TN and have never heard that.

Carola 8:28 AM  

Reading @Rex, I was reminded of the optical illusion where you see either a young lady or old hag. I saw the young lady (really nicely done theme) and never noticed the old hag crosswordese elements, so I'm with the few (so far) who liked the puzzle, in fact, a lot. I was amazed at how much mileage (MPG) Jacob Stulberg could get out of PG, with such very nice theme answers: SWAMP GAS, LIP GLOSS, PIN-UP GIRL and I won't go on, because you've all done the puzzle. After I finished I circled all the PGs, and like @loren, loved the way he was able to chain them together in a few spots. Also smiled at STEP UP turning the corner, except it's a STEP down.

Z 8:36 AM  

@LMS - OSAMA bin Laden, ST LEO CMII, and CAMPGROUND SWAMP GAS resulting from coprophilia* all in one puzzle is quite the achievement. I don't think you help your case by comparing this puzzle to Gorski, especially when Gorski gives us mini-donuts and oreos instead of SWAMP GAS. You can put LIP GLOSS on a pig, but it is still a pig. (And why should you tremble to disagree - Its good to have a little balance and differing perspectives here, otherwise I might never have looked up to confirm that "coprophilia" is actually a thing).

*Breakfast Test Failure Warning

Proud Mamma 8:55 AM  


Pete 9:00 AM  

@Lewis -- Me too for not getting the PGA clue. In fact, I said aloud, "That's so weak!" Looked at it again about 10 minutes after finishing and "Doh", it's not "put-ting", it's "putt-ing", which had me LOL, turns out to be my favorite clue of the day.

Roo Monster 9:05 AM  

Hey All !
Where would we be in Crossworld without crosswordese? In order to cram 13 PG answers in a 15x15 grid, you're gonna end up with some abbrs., RRNs, et.al. Is this puz really as bad as y'all make it out to be? I'm not so sure. Look at the constraints, and a bunch of the nice long answers. Hard to do, which is why grid is so segmented. Imagine everyone's complaints had Jacob opened the grid up a bit!

So, what I'm sayin, put me in the small group of 5 of us or so who liked this puz. I did get a nice laugh from Rex's writeup, though! I can see his point, although judging by my own grid, those sections had no writeovers, and they were all "normal" -ese we see all the time in crosswords, and all fairly crossed. Besides, how can you not like a puz with a PINUP GIRL in it?

And of course, my good ole Patented one letter DNF. Sigh... Had KEEPdOING/HOd. So I ended up with 12 PGs!

I didn't like the ass-hammer OSAMA either, could have changed 13A to INB, and clued as some kind of Operatic Key. Problem solved.


chefbea 9:17 AM  

I agree..not a fun puzzle. Had a hard time getting started. Never heard of apgar!! Guess the putting was left over from yesterday's golf theme

Love Ragu..but of course make my own.

Tita 9:18 AM  

@Ellen S - is ELSE the new eels?

I had similar thoughts about REOIL. While it's a mite better than RETEAM, it's pretty ugly. No matter how many times a part has been REOILed, you are just OILing it.
I mean, if you dress your salad, then discover it needs more THousand Islands, do you redress it?

What is a factual tv program? Are other examples shows like Mythbusters? Animal Cops Houston?

This statistic terrifies me. Being a car afficionado, I tried watching this show a few times. It's a bunch of sloppy arrogant oafs with bad writers and too-big budgets, doing incredibly pointless things, usually at the expense of the puzzled locals of whatever tiny hamlet they are terrorizing this week.

This puzzle? A little of what Rex said, but more of what @lms said.

Ludyjynn 9:19 AM  

@Lewis, I have been trying to figure out a way to make my golf joke PGTHIRTEEN without ruining it, and have decided to just tell it like it is. Hoping Rex will allow it as a much needed diversion from today's puzzle, which IMO fails the APGAR test.


A freelance sportswriter covering a PGA event wrote his account of the day's round of golf and e-mailed it to SI for publication. The guy was exhausted after walking the links all day, interviewing players and writing his story, so he decided to head for the hotel bar for some libation and R&R. As luck would have it, seated next to him was a beautiful single woman. Soon he forgot about his fatigue, engaging her in conversation and buying her a few drinks.

Next thing you know, he invited her back to his room to continue to get to know her. After a delicious room service meal, they retired to the bed, where they made love. At this point, the guy was totally spent and rolled over to go to sleep. The woman lightly tapped his shoulder and stated, "When Arnold Palmer* and I made love, we did it more than once." So the guy did his best to accomodate her. After the second round of love-making, he was already half asleep when he felt a more insistent tapping on his shoulder. "When I was with Arnold Palmer, we did it more than twice", she complained.

So the guy, after summoning his last bit of energy, complied. He was already asleep when he felt the woman shoving his arm and whining, "When Arnold Palmer and I were together, we did it more than three times."

The guy jumps out of bed, takes out his cell phone and starts dialing. The woman says, "Who are you calling?"

The guy fairly shouts at her, "I'm calling Arnold Palmer to find out what the par is on this f@#$%*g hole!"

*Of course, you can change the name to Tiger Woods, more updated.

Have a great day, everyone.

mathgent 9:24 AM  

That's the price Rex pays for blogging on the puzzle. I suspect that there are many like me who breezed through it and forgot it. Boredom but no pain.

Someone mentioned the Patrick Berry in Saturday's WSJ. I spent a lot of yesterday fighting it and I still haven't gotten the NW. PB gets mean when away from NYT.

L 9:28 AM  

Once Upon a Time in America is an old favorite of mine. I'm glad this puzzle reminded me of a great film with a fantastic score. That's about the only nice thing I have to say today, so I'll stop there.

cheeseguy 9:35 AM  

Possible the worst NYT puzzle ever....

Sheik Yerbouti 9:44 AM  

Interesting responses. I found the puzzle much worse in retrospective -- i.e., while solving, I just glazed over some of the bad fill, and the experience wasn't too bad. Then after I finished, I realized just how much junk there was. So I guess I agree with Rex about the volume of bad fill, but still had a reasonably tolerable experience.

Numinous 9:47 AM  

Hate this? Heck no! Can't say I loved it either but about half the clues had me thinking for an extra second or so longer than the answer deserved. So, I had a lot of "Oh, yeah, of course" moments.

I'm abashed, yesterday I managed to misspell carillon. Twice. Got into trouble with an "L" in the NE today too. I was thinking Slog or something but left it to finish at the end. I smiled when I looked back up there and saw SlEP but that was a few letters short of SchlEP which I would have liked.

@Tita, last night, my wife added six pieces to the purple and indigo sky. My guess is that there are only 494 pieces left to go.

@Z, If anyone can, it'll be my step-daughter. At seven she was so good at thinking outside the box, she was solving the kinds of conundrums you'll find in the LSAT she'd make my head spin. She's still that way. The Navy is going to be lucky to get her. Her recruiter has said she's one of the very best prospects he's seen. She's joining for government experience and for the GI Bill help with her master's degree. Her looooooong term goal, which she's been pursuing since she was 12, is to work for the FBI.

David Michaels 9:50 AM  

So all said and done, it was not me. Thanks for confirming that.

Laurence Katz 10:00 AM  

I started wondering if perhaps this puzzle was a SATIRE constructed with maximum amounts of abbreviations and crosswordese for the worst possible solving experience. If so, mission accomplished.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:05 AM  

Two write-overs: 46 A, ALSO before ELSE; and 41 D, WHO me? (yeah, this one needs a comma, doesn't it, @lms?) before WHY me?

Sure had me guessing what the theme would turn out to be!

quilter1 10:27 AM  

Started at the bottom and worked my way up except for the NE corner which fell before I moved down. I was thinking as I solved that the constructor was making the clues deliberately vague and that was irritating. When I saw the reveal and appreciated the long theme answers I was mollified, but it was not an enjoyable solve.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

!A should have read: Mass murderer with an -ism

36A Another Hillary paranoia: "a ____ right wing conspiracy"

So wanted 3 down to be OBAMA

Masked and Anonymous 10:50 AM  

PG-13 puz: Some material may not be suitable for solvers with desperation allergies.

NC-17 write-up: Content not suitable for viewin by the constructioneer. Strong, brutal vileness. Pervasive snarky language. References to fear, shame, and strong drink. Uses 24 bad words as examples. Oil spills. Terrorism. Black holes. CRAPGAMES. Orgies. Well, shoot … there's yer rodeo.

har. M&A is feelin some pro's and some con's on this puppy.
Cue the Jimmy Fallon skit…

PRO: 5 U's.
CON: UTENN makes m&e want ten of em.

PRO: Random Roman Numerals are legion.
CON: ASSN abbr. cross-references another abbr. at PGA, nailing it to the cross.

PRO: Fill wants to KEEPGOING.
CON: Until finally it is LIC-ed.

PRO: APGAR scores yer 13th PG jobber.
CON: EARP lost his G-string and got REOIL-ed.

PRO: Bucket-o-weejects.
CON: HOG with no CALLS.

PRO: Puz puts on a nice MASC early.
CON: Only to HIRT us, later on.

OK. So, U got yer PRO's, and U got yer CONs. Looks like a WASH(rag), to m&e. QED.


**big gruntz**

Joseph Michael 10:53 AM  

This puzzle is so bad it almost made me SIKH. It almost made me want to HIRT myself.

From ANS to LIC, nearly 20% of the puzzle is abbreviations. The theme concept is cute but doesn't justify the CRAP fill throughout.

Thanks @Pete for explaining the put-ting vs. putt-ing clue. I didn't get it on my own and was happy to see a little flash of brilliance in the cluing. Too bad the answer is another abbr.

This is the second appearance of APGAR in recent weeks. So this time I knew it. So at least there's that.

NYT: Please keep OSAMA out of Crossworld. Banish him to the Hitler Room with Stalin et. al.

That's it for today. I have to go REOIL my car.

William Palmer 10:53 AM  

No one calls the school in Knoxville "UTenn." Connecticut can be "UConn" and Texas El Paso can be "UTEP" but this answer is untenable

Andrew Heinegg 10:56 AM  

I appreciated the symmetry conceit of the puzzle. Not to get on the let's beat up Will Shortz train but, how does the editor if the NYT crossword puzzle allow reoil to stand as an answer?

Hartley70 11:04 AM  

Hand up for the "More than good enough for Tuesday" side. I like the theme density and appreciated the way the PG's were linked together. Yup, lots of abbreviations and crosswordese to make it work, but I thought it was worth it. In fact, think of it as a Master Class in abbreviations and crosswordese for newbies. We all had to learn this fill at some point. It's like the 2 and 3 letter word lists for Scrabble, but so much more entertaining than rote memorization.

Leapfinger 11:05 AM  

Hey. Didn't I just mention PG Wodehouse late yesterday in connection with his Golf stories? I think it was after the Tues puzzle was released, but honest, I hadn't seen it. Shall just bask in the glow with my buddy Claire Voyance.

And something ELSE:
The Oldest Established Permanent Floating CRAP GAME in New York.
Don't remember that? Just ask good old reliable Nathan. Nathan, Nathan Detroit.

Funniest Rex write-up in donkey's years, but you know me: I'll find something to enjoy. SWAMP_GAS? From what I hear, more methane is released in COW_FRATS. Also had something going with POP: wanted a POPGUN, then thought of a POP-up tent (takes the pain out of erecting, a tent). Thought the place to erect, a tent, was Dry_GROUND or Level_GROUND, since none that I've ever erected were on a CAMPGROUND. But maybe that PUP tent needs a CAMPGRrrrOUND.
Didja notice that CAMPing is a CAMP_GeR_UND?

I got that [Runner's feeling] = HIGH, but not before mentally running through pain, numb, cramp, SOB (shortness of breath).
Had WHO_ME before WHY_ME. Doesn'tthat smack of whining? Fate is against me.The world is out to get me. I ASKEW!

Thought the PGs were kinda cute, and there sure was a lot of them. Also liked the almost symmetric Concert sites: VENUES get to the concert, villues save me a seat?. otoh, I always want IRKS, never like IRES for 'angers',especially so with SATIRE already in the grid.

As for the XWese and abbrevs, at some point, the cumulative mass became comical. I did wonder, at the end, whether a grid should finish with LIC or ICE?

Don't feel bad, Jacob. It could have been wERSE, and all the long 'uns were very, very good.

Arlene 11:05 AM  

While you're all obsessing over crosswordese, I actually had fun doing this puzzle. Circling all the PG's after it was done - it's like playing with your toys.

Wm. C 11:14 AM  

I truly thought this puzzle was a joke as I was doing it: "Let's see how much pure crosswordese I can make these sheep fill in today!"

The only good clue was for PGA. Not nearly enough to redeem this piece of crap.

Leapfinger 11:20 AM  

@Z, not only -philia, but -phagia also, she said with a grin. [It's well past breakfast, right, and not yet lunchtime.]

@Ellen, sometimes when you OIL or REOIL, it isn't even OIL. When my driver's side door hinge began complaining, first thing I tried was WD-40. Whatever that is, it ain't OIL. [I think WD stands for We Dontknow.] When that proved a temp fix, I went for the special stuff, which turned out to be graphite powder. Go figure. But I wouldn't try it on salad bowls.

Dread Pirate Roberts 11:28 AM  

It's almost International Talk Like a Pirate Day! AAR!!!

old timer 11:30 AM  

I came here wondering if someone would repeat their complaint about how unfair it is to include APGAR in an early-week puzzle. I knew there would be CMII reasons for @Rex to dis this puzzle, but it is always a CRAPGAME to guess how extreme his outrage will be.

I'm kind of with @Loren here. For the most part, I liked doing the puzzle, which thanks to all those PG answers was Tuesday-hard for me -- a fast solve but not a Monday-fast solve.

I do think you do not often see CRAPGAMES in the wild. "Crapshoot" is common enough. and they call it CRAPs in Vegas or anywhere the game is played. Nor do you ever see an *engine* re-oiled, though lots of things that are not engines are. I'll blame WS for letting that clue stand unedited.

Lewis 11:39 AM  

@pete -- Head slap! Thank you, and it is easily the best clue in the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I sometimes think Rex is too critical, but not today. This one was amateurish and, frankly, not fun.

blinker474 12:57 PM  

I liked the puzzle; it was easy so I never read some of the clues. But I am mystified by the torrent of abuse that is poured on the author and the editor for publishing a perfectly fine puzzle. I think that the criticism of the fill is foolish. Or perhaps it's an inside joke that I don't get.


Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@009: Real entertainin write-up, but U may have gone one step two far, in skinnin this here puz. Comparin it to a war crime … ok. Comparin it to a natural disaster … ok.

But comparing **any** 15x15 grid to tofurky is just an over-the-top flagrant foul.

My vegan nephew brought one of them things over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Naive M&A will try anything once, so I cut myself off a hunk and went to work on it. Whoa. There ain't enough harsh crosswordese in the world to describe the moment of disgust I experienced, as tofurky spontaneously took wing and became spitooorky.

Nephew labeled my response as "Not Promising", as I ran to the kitchen sink, to enjoy a rinse cycle.

But, perhaps I digress. Back to today's TuesPuz feast. I like almost all crossword puzs, includin this one. I do like some of em a heap more than others, tho. Hardly any solver comes in, hopin for this many RRNs, abbrs., partials, and harsh crosswordese. But, this puz weren't spit out entirely, due to…

* 5 U's.
* Some great long answers.
* A novel theme. One U won't see too often, cuz it is so hard to execute without getting sucked into the black hole of Apgaar. Anyone wanna try doin a XXX theme? Didn't hardly think so.
* The people names were kept somewhat under control. At the Thanksgiving table were: MAO, OSAMA, ISAO, EARP, ST. LEO, HIRT, ANWAR SADAT, and PESCI. Eight folks. Nine, if U count EVA, who has NASA Acronym Immunity. Not too bad. Plus, talk about some lively dinner conversation potential …
* PRIMO (at 38-A). Who could be A-POSEd to that?


Georgia 1:05 PM  

I only see 11 PG's.... not 13.

chefbea 1:23 PM  

@Ludyjynn..great joke!!!

Carola 1:28 PM  

@mathgent - Re: PB in the WSJ - it was me. I agree about Patrick Berry turning brutal for this one. I finally succeeded in rassling it to the ground, but it took a couple of seesions. 1A was the last one in.

The Rhino 1:31 PM  

As much as I enjoy Rex's rants, I usually read them with a certain bemusement - I usually find the puzzles he hates to be perfectly passable entertainments. This one, however, wow. It was as if the instructor went out of his way to suck the pleasure out of it. Terrible abbreviations, annoying cross referencing clues, and I found nothing amusing about any of it. Even the long downs that Rex admired I found uninspired. And, as others have already pointed out, what are crap games? That's not a thing! No one says, 'I'm sick of black jack, let's go play some crap games.' Blech.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Never commented here before, but is anyone going to come to the defense of ELSE? Isn't ALSO what is actually clued? I assume this is an editor's oversight, but I can't remember ever seeing such a glaring cluing error in a recent NYT puzzle.

Can anyone use ELSE to mean "in addition" in a sentence?

Lewis 1:37 PM  

@ludyjynn -- Thank you, and excellent!

jae 1:37 PM  

In case you missed it when @Leapy snuck it in there:

As the chairwoman was wrapping up the meeting she asked the board members if "anyone had anything ELSE?"

Jamie C 1:37 PM  

@M&A: I think you meant that comparing it to a tofurkey is a "flagrant FOWL..."

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

Coincidence that HIRT crosses HIRT and MPG crosses MPG? I also counted only 11 PGs.

Andy 2:58 PM  

@ Anonymous: "Can anyone use ELSE to mean "in addition" in a sentence?"

The example from Webster's Dictionary is: "Where else is gold found?"

Charley 3:41 PM  

You oil machinery. Not reoil.

Leapfinger 3:46 PM  

Thankee, @jae! I do tend to slide things in through the back door at times.

@M'n'A, I'm not sure I have much hope for that lively dinner table conversation. In case it didn't strike home, the VAST majority of your guest list is well beyond much conversational potential. Though I aspose you might be able to strike a happy medium.

I do appreciate the tofurkey alert; sorry it made you sikh.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

My new secretary, who started work today, copied the puzzle for me, lopping off the numbers on the left side. So I did this puzzle missing most of the numbers, which made the puzzle more interesting for me than for most of you. I never figured out there was a theme, so so much for that. I do prefer Osama to Obama in my puzzle and find it less objectionable, so that was ok with me. The rest of it was pretty awful.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

@Leapfinger - "I do tend to slide things in through the back door at times". I always wondered how you got the name Leapfinger - it would make me leap.

Teedmn 4:56 PM  

Count me in with those that found the CMII/MSGR/ISAO area over the top for crosswordese for one puzzle, even a Tuesday, but other than that, it wasn't that bad to me. Maybe because the PG hunt left me with a positive finish. I don't think anyone would apply the term PRIMO to it but I wouldn't hold my nose due to SWAMP GAS either.

My soup kitchen was offering bowLs and PINUPGIRL is a far cry from the Uncle Sam I was expecting.

Thanks @Ludyjynn, for the joke, though a coworker pointed that all golf jokes ASKEW old - it's just not an up and coming sport these days. I grew up across the street from a nine hole course (par three was the longest hole, I think) and never played a round.

I think I've SADAT it all for today, on to Wednesday. Thanks, JS, for the puzzle.

aging soprano 5:09 PM  

Also had "who me?" and couldn't figure out what kind of class "gom" was. We always showered after P.E. I thought, is that call it these days?
Also wanted DustRAG instead of WASHRAG. Obviously influenced by the worst dust storm we have had in years which is raging in our region. They had to stop bombing in Syria because no one can see the targets, or the runways. Of course, this had to be the day my cleaning lady came.
Amazingly there were actually some P's and G's in the puzzle that weren't part of theme answers.
I did the whole puzzle without figuring out the theme and hated it!
And Begin got the '78 NPP with SADAT, not ANWAR.

chefbea 5:36 PM  

I count 12 PG's

chefbea 5:38 PM  

found the other one

Z 5:53 PM  

@Leapy - I'm thinking that when you got your PIN-UP GIRL playing your CRAP GAMES it's coprophilia. The coprophagic grin is what you have after reading @ludyjynn's joke.

Anonymous 7:58 PM  

There are other elements of this puzzle that contribute much more to its downfall, but coming across "UTENN" was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I live in Knoxville, and I have never once heard someone refer to the local university as anything other than "UT" or "The University".

kitshef 8:07 PM  

Yes to everything @Rex had to say, except for the easy-medium part. Maybe I'm not as up on crosswordese as I need to be, but for me pretty difficult for a Tuesday.

Having said that, pretty clean grid ... aLSo before ELSE and PRIMe before PRIMO are the only overwrites.

I normally am very accepting of bad fill if it enables a clever theme, but this theme is so weak/lame/devoid of pleasure that the fill needs to be crisp.

Not sure if anyone has helped out the folks who could not find all thirteen, but for the record, SWAMPGAS, CAMPGROUND, PGA, STOPGAP, TOPGEAR, PGTHIRTEEN, LIPGLOSS, APGAR, KEEPGOING, MPG, CAPGUN, PINUPGIRL, CRAPGAMES.

Honeysmom 8:19 PM  

Am so tired of Rex complaining of perfectly fine puzzles. He enjoys being cranky. But it's getting so old! Also weary of fawning commenters who reliably agree with his cranky opinions. Somewhat harder than usual Tuesday puzzle, but enjoyable to solve with no Googling.

Clementine 9:13 PM  

O Rex u r sooooo grouchy. u wd not b good 4 a boyfriend!!!!!!

Badmom 10:05 PM  

My secondary fun as I maneuver through the daily NYT puzzle is guessing which parts of it are going to piss Rex off the most. hence my need to head over to the blog upon completion and see how I did. I knew this one was in for it.....don't ever change Rex Parker. Rage that can bring a smile to my face is a rarity, but much appreciated.

Anonymous 10:10 PM  

Crap game? What is that? Something like a pissing contest?

redvelvet 10:42 PM  

Another newbie poster here ...driven to comment by how bad this puzzle was -ugh! I agree, one of the worst I've encountered. What a relief to come here and see that @rex didn't hold back - reading his post, which I took as permission to finish a strong negroni, finally turned around what has been a rough day that began with being locked out of my classroom with 130 eager freshmen awaiting their 8 am lecture...

JP 10:53 PM  

This is the single worst puzzle I've ever seen in the NY Times and absolutely embarrassing that this was published. The very first words I filled in were MASC intersecting ANS and knew as soon as I clicked on Rex's blog he'd be fuming. How many abbreviations were there, 25? Ridiculous.

Leapfinger 9:02 AM  


Glad to see you sit up and pay attention. You also reminded me of this proctologist I've heard about: he was a big man with fingers to match. Apparently his patients lovingly referred to him as Old Banana-fingers.

ps: Had you not signed in as @Anonymous, I'd have had another story to send you directly.

Burma Shave 11:47 AM  


The PINUPGIRL wore too much LIPGLOSS, racier than PGTHIRTEEN without knowing.
She struck APOSE saying, “I won’t HIRT you boss, and if you get INTOODEEP KEEPGOING.”


rondo 12:03 PM  

Can’t we shoehorn a few more abbr.s in here? Like @JP above, first two fills were MASC and ANS and it didn’t seem to end. Then the RRN and ASPCA. I thought maybe we were in for a real gimmick puz of almost nothing but that type ANSwer, but no, not really. Is that why DOA is clued like that?

That NW corner has some real personalities in MAO, ANWAR, and OSAMA all HANGing out there.

EVA Green a yeah baby Bond girl, but then aren’t they all?

Anything ELSE I might say about this puz would be SATIRE, so no mas.

leftcoastTAM 3:41 PM  

The theme revealer "Somewhat family-friendly..." was a bit ironic given the double-entendres ready for @Burma Shave to cleverly blend into a spicy poem.

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