Ancient Hebrew liquid measure / SUN 10-25-15 / Cribbage one-pointers / Eponym of hot dog chain / Turbaned sort / Stimpy's TV pal / Like some Roman aphorisms / Gamer's prefix with pets / Petty braggart / Party straggler / Actress Kedrova / Common sitcom rating / Noted remover of locks

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Constructor: Bill Zais

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Halloween Costumes" — words are added to beginnings of famous people's names to create spooky names, or, I guess, theoretically costumed famous people, though who would go trick-or-treating as "EYE OF NEWT," I have no idea...

Theme answers:
  • WEREWOLF BLITZER (23A: Halloween costume for ... a CNN anchor?)
  • TOMBSTONE PHILLIPS (39A: ... a former "Dateline" host?)
  • EYE OF NEWT GINGRICH (58A: ... a onetime House speaker?)
  • GRAVEDIGGER PHELPS (85A: ... an old Notre Dame basketball coach?)
  • GHOSTBUSTER KEATON (104A: ... a silent film star?) (No—is he dressed up as a "ghost"? Or a Ghostbuster? By logic of the puzzle, the latter, but that is absurdly out of step with the rest of the more generic, decidedly non-corporate "costumes" in this puzzle...)
  • BLACK CAT STEVENS (122A: ... a pop/folk singer with numerous 1970s hits?) 
Word of the Day: GUCK (87D: Slimy stuff) —
 North American informal
noun: guck
  1. a slimy, dirty, or otherwise unpleasant substance.

    "he got mud and cow guck all over his white jersey"
• • •

Honestly, I'd rather go watch "Top Gun" then write about this puzzle (much much rather...), so that's what I'm going to do. Or, rather, I'm going to be brief here. This is an Old Idea. Simple. QUAINT. Shrug. It's 6 days early ... I think it would've been better as a day-after-Halloween puzzle than a 6-days-before-Halloween puzzle, but honestly, I wouldn't have liked it then, either. The concept is tired, the fill is terrible. Really. I doubled over and winced at ORECAR, and that was before I'd even seen TID or SEEPY (the worst dwarf), and all of that was before I Ever Got Out Of The NW. OY(S)! NOBS! Lots of IFFY fill, for sure (7D: Doubtful). What the heck is up with that POOH clue?! (73A: "Tush!"). "Tush!"? Do you shout that when you see someone with a nice ass? I hope not. That would be rude. I kept interrupting my solve to gripe about it, so I have no idea how long this would've taken me under normal, unbroken solving circumstances, but I never struggled much at all, and the themers were all super duper easy, so ... Easy. OOMPAH, TRALA, I'm done. Perhaps you have some deep insights into the mysterious nuances of this puzzle. Not me. I'm out. Me and my PITMEN are gonna take the ORECAR downstairs to "Top Gun" land. Danger zone! I've only been drinking a little.

Good night/day. Boo!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS, just noticed (just now, for first time) HIN (119A: Ancient Hebrew liquid measure) ... wow. Really? Unreal. That is ... wow. How ...? OK, yeah, I'm done.

PPS, you might enjoy this lovely article by Lesléa Newman, a reflection on how crosswords connect her to her mother, who recently died. Check it out: "Always a Crossword between Us"

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George NYC 12:05 AM  

Another clunker.

Tom Auclair 12:33 AM  

Guck. Unreal. Couldn't get past that, and the terrible "CMD" just escaped me. Terrible fill, and a groaning theme. Blech.

Geometricus 12:37 AM  

Had to come here to see that goals were not for the NsL (soccer) but the NHL . I'll have to go back to divinity school and get my THD. Liked WEREWOLFBLITZER but the other ones just went THuD!

Music man 1:06 AM  

Agreed, booooooo

chefwen 1:15 AM  

I actually had a fun time with this. Well Rex, maybe you should have a couple more drinks

Ended up with one error, had GUnK at 87D and never noticed that nMD didn't make sense. Oh POOH!

I really would like to see someone dress up as an EYE OF NEWT, sounds gruesome. And that reminds me of a great Scottish joke that I will save for another time.

AliasZ 1:51 AM  

This was one rough piece of work. Not much to say about the theme except that it was somewhat uninspired, not well thought out, and it had no depth or hidden twists & turns. EYEPATCH ADAMS, PEGLEGS DIAMOND or COBWEB DUBOIS kind of entries do not possess much substance, sorry to say. At least something like WITCHMOLEHILLARY would have had a triple-layered wordplay. Oh, never mind.

Then there was the GUCKy fill that included 44 (!!) threes. How and when did GUnK turn into GUCK? I must have missed the memo. Why not GACK? Sounds just as gunky. Does GUCK rhyme with cook or cluck? Beats me.

Some others were even worse, so let's forget about the puzzle and move on to the overture to the opera "Iphigénie en Aulide", then to this lovely aria from another opera, "Orfeo ed Euridice", both by Christoph Willibald GUCK (1714-1787). By the way, the second clip is conducted by Sir Georg SOLTI.

Sorry, I could not remember a composer, performer or title reminiscent of GOTANA. There is always "GOTANAmera, guajira GOTANAmera" by The Sandpipers. Yea... no.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Tyler James Young 2:21 AM  

This puzzle seemed way below NYT standards. Huge weak partials, a theme that doesn't work for all its answers, and short answers divided between stuff that's only in crosswords and stuff that's not anywhere in the language. DNF because nMD seemed as good as anything else in the puzzle and GUnK is, you know, a word--possibly THE word for that. Huge GUCK overall.

jae 2:35 AM  

Medium for me.  Toughest part was the center as DIGGER PHELPS was a total WOE.  I did know the rest of them though.  The only reason I got GUCK instead of GUnK was my many years with the DOD, terrible cross!

Liked it almost slightly better than Rex did. 

'mericans in Paris 4:01 AM  

@Rex NAILed it. IT -- a word used a lot in today's puzzle, in various combinations -- would have been better for the NYT to run this puzzle on 1 November, though appearing closer to Halloween would not have rescued it from the ooze.

I don't understand why @Rex rated the puzzle easy, though. The theme answers required familiarity with several proper names that are not so familiar (BLITZER, PHILLIPS, PHELPS), and the fill was often obscure, as @Rex points out in the case of HIN.

I'll give the constructor a nod (as opposed to NOB) for including several references to slimy stuff. Like Chef Wen, we had GUnK and not GUCK. One of many reasons we DNF.


= COZENER: nice word, but I don't ever recall encountering it. Has anybody else, honestly?
= ORE CAR: coal is not an ore; it is hauled out in a mine or coal CARt.
= FEE: On our son's college bills, FEEs are in addition to tuition.
= ILLGOT: I have only seen the word as ILLGOTten, as in "gains".
= ON THE D(own) L(ow): OK, maybe this is familiar to baseball fans but its more familiar meaning seems to be, as defined by Wikipedia, an "African American slang term that typically refers to a subculture of African-American men who usually identify as heterosexual, but who have sex with men". Is that what Mr. Zais had in mind by "Out of action" (103D)?!

Some nice vocabulary for a Matt Esquare episode, but I have too many leaves to rake up today.

P.S., Hey, Mr. Shortz, let me introduce you to the ampersand (pop & folk)!

Anonymous 5:21 AM  

Yet another disappointing puzzle (seriously, GUCK is beyond ridiculous, it's an embarrassment). And to add insult to insult, another update where the iPad app folks screw over anyone who was trying to keep any kind of a streak going. Seriously, why bother tracking performance stats in the app if you're only going to trash them every month or two anyway?

Why do i even let myself get angry about this anymore? Sigh. I need a new hobby.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:30 AM  

Oh, tush! Oh, POOH! Both meaning, oh, what nonsense!

And after reading both @Rex and Amy Reynaldo, I know that crossword puzzles are no place for nonsense! :>)

Hadn't realized until I read @Geometricus above that I finished incorrectly with 80A as NSL rather than NHL.

I did come to the blog ready to enter a tiny complaint about 15 D. There are many things I do ANGRILY, but it's been a long time since I slammed down a phone, ANGRILY or not. Today's phones don't have the heft and apparent durability to invite slamming, no matter how upset I am.

(Typed 6:29 AM)

Lewis 7:03 AM  

I'm thinking GUCK rhymes with "look" but you can't write it like "look" with a g, because you get a pejorative term. I've said GUCK (rhyming with look) but I've never seen it. I wrote in GUnK and it took forever to find my puzzle error. Can GUCK get SEEPY?

There were a fair number of ugly threes, but some nice long downs: CERTITUDE, ITISSO, LASTTOLEAVE, GOODGAME, LAIDANEGG, PLAYSITSAFE. I liked the clue for IRONBAR. And there's a Halloween hint, INPIECES, if you put "rest" in front of it. Theme was cute and QUAINT, and the solve gritty enough for me to enjoy some struggle. Not memorable, but worth my time.

ADOLPH crossing GOT AN A, well, yes.

John Child 7:06 AM  

Hand up for GUnK with @Chefwen. The government has plenty of extra acronyms - NMD must mean something... LOL @ AliasZ for the Hillary thought.

Seven bad dwarves (or dwarfs in Tolkien style) to riff on @Rex

and Boorish

It was easy, but it held my attention for a half hour, and that's jes' fine.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

@'mericans: DL in baseball = Disability List (i.e., injured)

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Step down OOXTEPLERNON, we have a new God of bad short fill: TIDOYSSWEAPRYAM!

Jennifer Freeman 8:29 AM  

DL is disabled list.

Karen Bruce 8:33 AM  

That was not a great experience. It felt as if the theme entries were floating in a pool of glue. I swear my fingers actually were sticky when they left the keyboard after typing in all of those terrible partials and obscure terms of crosswordese.

Unknown 8:58 AM  

The NY Times magazine has such a creepy story titled 'The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield' that I'm wondering if it w purposely published for Halloween! It could be on American Horror Story: Hotel. I guess truth is stranger then fiction!
Was tied up at Tombstone Phillips. Had Tom Brokaw there for awhile. Happy Sunday to all!

John McKnight 8:59 AM  

you can tell a persons argument is going to be good when they lead with "first of all." FIRST OF ALL, a ghostbuster is not scary, it is a person whom make scary things go away. So theme is irreparably compromised. And another things: guck, thd, cozoner, hin, and humph should all be illegal, starting now or yesterday if possible. In conclusion, I also don't want to think about hot dog chain and the horrific eating contest on sunday morning. Also should be illegal. OTHER THAN THAT YA I'D SAY PRETTY GOOD PUZZLE IMO.

GILL I. 9:02 AM  

Maybe I was in the right mood because I enjoyed this puzzle.
WEREWOLF BLITZER sounds like a bodice ripper novel. You know, the kind @Rex collects!
OHOROEERARENRUE. Take a left at the next GUNK and SEEPY road and you'll find it. Look out for the COZENER, he might HUMPH and POOH the directions, but ITISSO.
We're having 80 degree weather all this week so gotta get up and out and enjoy it....Don't forget to set your clocks back!

Lobster11 9:03 AM  

Even if the theme had been brilliant it wouldn't have been worth the price of so much dreadful fill.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

The puzzle in our paper today is totally different from this one! It is titled "Big Names In Etail" by Dan Shortz.

L 9:08 AM  

I still don't get the Tush! clue. At all. Ridiculous.

Teedmn 9:22 AM  

ISITAGO? ITISSO. Is it good? So far the ratings are less than TVPG. I had some trouble in the TVPG area because I didn't know STONE PHILLIPS and saw 'Cool, as soup' as a description of soup, not an action performed on soup. That was fun to tease out. The only one that really RANKLEd for me was SENECAN. Are baseball aphorisms BERRAN? It struck me as odd, anyway.

I liked the clues for CERTITUDE, SEURAT and ROOST, and I just got PIN UP. I was thinking of a construction tear out and thought, "What? They have to take down all the girlie posters before they rebuild the garage?"

Close enough to Halloween for me. Thanks, BZ.

Leapfinger 9:26 AM  

GOTANA buddha, @Alias.

No argument about the timing, the ORECAR-load of 3s, or the GUnKiness of some of the fill, but there was a pervasive playfulness that tickled my f.bone. The vision of GHOSTBUSTER KEATON with sliming green GUCK with Egon and the boys elicited significant amounts of zaniness. This would be the time for segments of the readership to do the old EYE-aversin trick --- you know hoo yoo are.

CERTainty/CERTITUDE: CERTs, CERTs? Two, two, two words in one.
SENECAN SENEgal: Ancient Roman girl Karin on Out of Africa
Keep your EYE on the PRIES
PRIMACY, there was Gimbel's
Lon "A Thousand Faces" Chaney: a Man of MIENS
(... oops, I tripped over a Bush and FELON CHANEY)
The Prince of Wales' outfit for Sunday services: CHAS_USABLE
(I'll spare y'all the TOMBS TO NEPHI LLIPS, though I do have a weakness for renal humour)

SLALOM Alaikum, y'all!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Yes, this. Guck rhymes with look or cook. Pronounced that way it's a familiar word. But, as most, I've never seen it spelled out. Guck, rhyming with "yuck" isn't a word.

The Rhino 9:42 AM  

I liked it better than Rex did, but I agree about the theme inconsistency. TOMBSTONEs and EYEs OF NEWT are not costumes. Fun fact - I went as a GHOST BUSTER for halloween in 1985.

Norm C. 9:44 AM  

This puzzle is a perfect example of why Sunday puzzles should be 19x19. After getting all six themers, it was just slog, slog, slog. Or, as video gamers say, it was a "grind." A smaller puzzle can be better tasting, and less filling.

Is it so? It is so. So it is!

Ludyjynn 9:56 AM  

As I solved, I thought, "Rex is going to ANGRILY, rightfully skewer this one". Despite the QUAINT theme, it was a quick, apt seasonal diversion pour moi. Since Halloween decor has been on sale for weeks, and Christmas cards are already on display in stores, so what if the puzzle theme is 6 days early?

I am already keeping my BLACK CAT indoors, much to his IRE, PLAYing IT SAFE during the week leading up to the big day. Too many sadistic folks out there capable of inflicting harm.

CERTITUDE; love that word. I can say with certitude that this weekend's local leafy display is creating an orgy of reds and oranges which makes a feast for the senses. Sadly, Winter LOOMs.

Thanks, BZ and WS.

Bill L. 9:57 AM  


Here’s the FEMA FAAT List for those who had GUnK in their grid. NMD = National Mapping Division (of USGS).

Chuck McGregor 10:03 AM  

Indeed, EYE OF NEWT would be a creepy costume, but, NO LIE, it would be far creepier to be costumed as the EYE OF NEWT GINGRICH.

@ AliasZ: "Why not GACK?" When evaluating professional loudspeaker prototypes during my career, we often used "gack" as a descriptive term for certain kinds of distortion (usually from diaphragm breakup modes). "Hear that gack around five k?" [5 kHz]

As a FOOTNOTE, part of my work was as an audio technical writer. While AMP is widely used in audio industries (yes, there are several) to mean AMPlifier, it is defined as informal usage. I always use AMPlifier when writing, partly because AMP can also mean AMPere and thus can be ambiguous. As such I cringe (only a bit) when AMP clued to mean AMPlifier. This holds as well for loudspeaker versus speaker. But that's just me.

Mini (maybe more than mini) audio-related theme:

AMP - [Association for Molecular Pathology?]
AMPLY - [The audio signal was treated AMPLY (treated by amplifiers)]
LAV - [lavalier microphone]
GUCK - [lower frequency gack]
PIT MEN - [think Broadway musical]
SRO - [see PIT MEN]
SEURAT - [subject of the musical "Sunday in the Park with George"]
SOLTI - [who at times conducted PIT MEN]
OOMPAH - [SOLTI does Sousa]
ORAL - [Roberts?]
THD - [total harmonic distortion]
TOA - [A commercial audio equipment manufacturer (used to work for them)]
RMS - [correctly abbreviated "rms," lower case: root mean square, an often used unit of measure in audio work]
54d - [it rhymes with Bobby VEE]
122a -[Blue CAT Audio uses BLACK backgrounds for their software and there is a Park STEVENS audio company...(OK, maybe a stretch)]

All I could eke (eek!?) out.

GILL I. 10:21 AM  

Oops....Clock change not till next week. I'm living in a time warp!

Jlb 10:28 AM  

Good thing it was easy, ore-ida quit before I finished

Mohair Sam 10:33 AM  

So our only hang up was in the SEURAT area - never see his name, and how do you spell it anyhow? Filled it on the downs and so finished the puzzle; opened the PD James novel I'm working on and the very first paragraph had the phrase ". . Londoners would sit on tailored grass like a scene from SEURAT." Figure the odds.

What Rex said (and I'm sober). @Lewis - If it's GUCK like look, it's gotta be like wt fook.

Thanks @Rex for the link to Leslea Newman's piece. It is so close to how Mrs. M and I got into the NYTcrossword back in the late '90's. Her Mom and Dad spent every Sunday with us for a couple of decades and Mom would do the Times crossword at the kitchen table yelling for help from me for sports questions from time to time. A few weeks after Mom's death I encouraged my wife to take over the tradition and she did, and it gradually became a team thing with us - takes two of us to equal one of Mom. From time to time when an obscure answer pops into one of our minds Mrs. M likes to grin, look up, and thank her mother.

Z 10:35 AM  

I liked the themers. Kinda fun.

DNF wondering what the hell nMD stood for.


chefbea 10:36 AM  

Not a fun puzzle!! Love Cat Stevens!! Never heard of Digger Phelps?? And what is THD...religious degree???

Nancy 10:38 AM  

Rex -- I howled over your TUSH comment. I was thinking the same thing actually. And I also howled at the thought of someone coming to a Halloween party dressed as EYE OF NEWT. Or as TOMBSTONE, for that matter. The theme answers don't all work.

I had GOOK before GUNK (which I left in), giving me that famous military authority NMD. GUCK is plain ridiculous, as @Lewis points out. I also had CERTAINTY before CERTITUDE and AMPLE before AMPLY. And, for the "turbaned sort", I first had MULLAH, then MUSLIM, then, finally MYSTIC.

Thought the fill in this one was stale and the theme was forced. Not an unpleasant solving experience, however.

chefbea 10:49 AM  

What a great article by Leslea Newman. @Rex..thanks so much for sharing

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

I-RON BARs do not a prison make,...but they sure help, eh, Doc?

Tita 11:17 AM  

Lol...I didn't realize just how goddawful some of the fill was till reading Rex. That's normal, I suppose, but the difference this time is that it really is an awful lot of junk, that I did in fact stop and groan over during the solve. Maybe because the puzzle was easy enough that I did it in one sitting, and quickly, so the GUCKy answers stayed fresh. (Yes, I have on occasion used GUCK, tho I did enter mUCK at first.

But, my overall rating is still that it is a good, timely(ish) Sunday.

And so much evoking going on...
16D...Lewis Black's MOO cow f&@% milk cat Marz makes an audible HUMPH whenever I give him rubies when he very clearly was asking for kibble so, or when I do anything else that was below par.
32D...a gimme thanks to my research yesterday on Ferdinand listed the ISSUEs from his many wives.
103D...sure to RANCKLE folks today with the sports-related usage vs the ONTHEqt version a little while back.

I had fun guessing the the first with just an E......O.......B.....E..... Got BLACKCATSTEVENS off naught but the EVE.
Needed almost all crosses or that DIGGER guy.

Thank you Mr. Zais.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

GUNK for me too. Sigh. Does anybody else think that NAP is not carpet lint, but the texture of the carpet? That a carpet with NAP can be made to lie one way, then the other, with different reflected color? So that you can vacuum stripes into it?

Indypuzzler 11:31 AM  

Count me amongst the scores of people who tore through the puzzle with little difficulty, changed my GOOP to GUNK and then figured NMD must be a term I did not know. And while I don't spend time writing words like GUCK, I would have guessed it GOOK to rhyme with LOOK.
So a dnf for me after I scoured my answers across and down, THEN with my tail between my legs I check Rex and he has very nicely highlighted my downfall. CMD for command? TUSH and POOH to that!!
I thought the Halloween Costume outlier was EYE OF NEWT...a very challenging costume to say the least.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Same reaction as Rex, but the crappiness of the fill made this one lean medium for me. I ended up in the same place as @chefwen. Had GUNK, assumed that NMD must've meant something. Just as reasonable as the actual answer.

I feel I should speak up for classical music here, and note that the composer's name is GLUCK! I'm sure @AliasZ knows, but a more casual reader may not.

Chaos344 11:45 AM  

Wow! It's great to be back here among the real people who are not afraid to tell the truth. I'm with Rex and just about every other poster here. The elites over at Wordplay are falling all over themselves defending the use of GUCK, and trying to explain how it should be pronounced. Isn't it ironic that GUCK rhymes with SUCK, as in "That fill really sucked!"

I was so disgusted with the poor fill, that by the time I ran through all the clues looking for a typo, I was too bored to do an alphabet run on GUCK. I just accepted the "red triangle of death", (something I hardly ever do) and bade good riddance to the puzzle!

hexed 11:46 AM  

Really liked GHOSTBUSTERKEATON, but on the other hand . . . GUCK. OY!

Joseph Michael 11:51 AM  

I can say with CERTITUDE that this puzzle LAID AN EGG. It's just a buncha ILLGOT SEEPY QUAINT GUCK.

Scarest image: EYE OF NEWT GINGRICH.

Alan_S. 12:01 PM  

Often one will find, in the comments, a number of solvers who will gripe about Rex's griping.
Here? So far not a one. That's how bad this mess was!

'mericans in Paris 12:10 PM  

Better than a Halloween theme, perhaps, would have been one commemorating the 600th anniversary -- today! -- of the Battle of Agincourt or, as the French calle it, La Bataille d'Azincourt.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Actually, the only thing worse to do than solving this puzzle would be to go watch Top Gun! Tom Cruise might be the worst actor to 'grace' the silver screen in the last 50 years or so. Any film with him as the centerpiece of is guaranteed not to get my attention, much less my money.

jberg 12:26 PM has a "speak it out loud" function, which when clicked says, "guhk OR gook." (I think the latter was a word for slimy stuff before it was a pejorative, btw -- in fact, that was what made it perjorative, kind of).

Anyway, after SEEPY I wasn't bothering to keep track of bad fill. That kind of did it in right there.

My only real problem was gOes before NOBS, which made me think Mr. BLITZER must spell his first name with our old friend, the silent E--so then I had to imagine a TZ rebus, or something. I never found that, and eventually saw IN PIECES, and it all made sense.

But, TID??? In the last week alone, we have had pretty much the same clue at least twice, always leading to TER. What on earth is TID?

Leapfinger 12:39 PM  

I've come across cozens by the dozens.

Even my spellcheck is down with it.

old timer 12:39 PM  

I don't think the puzzle was GUCKy. Just boring, a slog. When I finish a snoozer like this, I look forward to OFL finding bad things to say about it. OTOH, the word criticisms are really not justified. HIN I have seen before, with that Hebrew definition, and in any case can easily be got on crosses. You almost had to get NHL, because you have goals in hockey. You do in Association Football (soccer) too, but I have never heard of an NSL. also, when you think about it a second, ThD seems logical -- doctor of theology. And CMD (short for "command" is perfectly fair. and makes it clear the word is not "gunk". Been around musicians all my life, and they have AMPs to lug -- also speakers, mic stands, sound mixers, it's a chore setting up even if you are a three-piece band that is basically acoustic. The only thing the house will often supply you with is speakers for the audience, but even so you need monitor speakers.

I see I did write in a wrong answer: "Intraps" for ENTRAPS. Because Tic Tac Toe begins in a tie, so to speak. If I had cared about the puzzle more I would have fixed it -- "Intraps" is not a word.

Words to retire: REN, TID. Concept to retire: cluing three-letter words as partials. Though if you must have ONA, how else could you clue it?

jclaireb 12:44 PM  

76D -- Where should _____ the check?
To those AV Club Crossword guys. Seriously.

Blue Stater 12:48 PM  

What Rex (and many others) said. Way below NYT standard, but alas, not below the NYT standard of the last five years or so.

Leapfinger 12:54 PM  

@Tita, whether you have one or as many as the Empress Maria Thersa, I think it's still only ISSUE, one way to avoid that pesky POC S, deer

Roo Monster 1:02 PM  

Hey All !
Did like the themers, wacky, to borrow a Rexism. But the rest...
Today must be Partial Fill Day, as there are two-three-four worders all over the place! IS IT A GO crossing GOT AN A! Ouch! We got IT IS SO, PIN UP, EVENED UP, IN PIECES, AT LEAST, ON A, TO A, NO LIE, BLOW ON, etc.
And 44 threes! Has to be a record, or close. @Lewis.

Had I submitted this, it would've co,e back in my e-mail with this note: "Hahahahahahaha, thanks for the laugh!" Just sayin.

Had it's a deal first for GOOG GAME, so dodged a potential three-er there. How does 129A, Majority =LEGAL AGE? GUCK, yuck, HIN, probably not even if you're Hebrew. THD, only if you have that degree.

I could go on, but y'all kow how AMPLY the fill HUMPHed, as the comments reflect. MYSTIfied how this got in.


Teedmn 1:36 PM  

@Leapfinger, methinks, PRIMACY, the patrons must have gyred and gimbeled through men's wear?

Steve J 1:45 PM  

This was just awful. Terrible fill, "Tush!", and a dull theme that doesn't work on its own terms. Who dresses up as a TOMBSTONE or EYE OF NEWT?

LAID AN EGG is too kind a verdict for this disaster.

Plz Create an Identity 1:51 PM  

@Anonymous 9:06 AM - Your newspaper has the syndicated puzzle. Click on the "Syndicated Puzzle" button at the very top of the blog to get the correct puzzle.

And please make up a name so we can address you more politely.

Gara 2:03 PM  

Lovely Leslea Newman piece put me in mind of this reminiscence of my aunt and father:

Leapfinger 2:49 PM  

@jberg, TID is abbrev for Ter In Diem, and is the common usage among clinicians, in my experience. It's what you'd see on a scrip, back when they were still handwritten, unless it was a qd, bid or qid dosage, and possibly may have been characterized by "'/lll. A careful clinician might write it as q8h, to indicate the three doses should be evenly spaced over the course of the day.

Me, I was delighted to see the terrible TER finally unseated

Leapfinger 2:54 PM  

Touché, @Teedmn!

(Pronounced TUSH)

Patty 4:18 PM  

The scarecrow got a ThD from the Wizard of Oz.
Wizard of Oz: They have one thing you haven't got: a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.
Scarecrow: ThD?
Wizard of Oz: That's... Doctor of Thinkology.

Nancy 4:39 PM  

Loved your comments, @Mohair, on the wonderful Leslea Newman article and I join you in thanking Rex for providing it. I, too, had a mother who was a Times crossword buff and thus the article had great resonance for me. So much, in fact, that I looked up Ms. Newman's email, which I was able to find, only because she has such an unusual first name, and wrote her a letter, telling her of my crossword experiences with my own mother, who passed away in 1993.

I did not, however, try to contact Ms. Newman on the site provided at the link. They wanted me to join some social media group beginning with a D, and they wanted all sorts of info from me -- about my email account, etc. Or, I think I might have been allowed to correspond if I'd already been a member of Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus. (All those icons were there to click on.) But if you avoid all these groups, you can't correspond with anyone. I don't understand the constant pressure to join these things, I really don't. Would I be a safer, less scary person to correspond with if I were on Facebook? I can't see why, I really can't.

Anyway, I highly recommend this moving and evocative article.

The Ridger, FCD 5:52 PM  

That is the syndicated puzzle.

Numinous 6:46 PM  

I'm with @chefwen and Laike on GUnK.

Nothing like an experience that leaves you ambivilant. Nothing like the experience of doing this puzzle. Utterly "Ho hum."

It had one redeeming feature: BUSTER KEATON. So I spent the day with his GHOST. I watched the National Film Board of Canada's Railrodder, I brilliant travelog of Canada via the CN railway on an open putput starring BUSTER in one of his last pictures. Brilliant.
That led me to a bunch of other CFB shorts on Youtube. Then I watched the 1961 Twilight Zone episode, Once Upon a Time with Buster time-travelling from 1890 to 1950. Real fun. That led me to watching another two or three TZ eps. All of that nearly erased the memory of this dreary puzzle and its less than stellar fill.

My apologies to all y'all comentariat. I'm so fed up with this puzzle that I couldn't handle reading any more about it. One thing I was beginning to notice, This puzzle wasn't inspiring a whole lot of witty remarks. But it did inspire me to watch, not Top Gun but a bunch of other clever and interesting films.

Airymom 8:57 PM  

Nothing's better than the Sunday NYT puzzle. That's why I have had a Sunday-only subscription for the 36 years I've lived in Baltimore. I'm ready to cancel after today's puzzle. How bad was the puzzle? I actually fell asleep while doing it and my daughter came into my study to wake me up. She was actually worried that something bad happened to me.
Oh well....

Let's go Mets!

Da Bears 9:27 PM  

I started doing this puzzle and said to myself, "Rex isn't going to like this puzzle." Did some more and thought Rex really won't like it. And as I closed in to finish I thought Rex is going to hate this puzzle. I thought the theme weak and the fill really bad, so I guess I agree with Rex.

kitshef 10:22 PM  

Just awful. Normally I make a little note next to a clue or answer I deem ridiculous. Today I stopped after ten (ISITAGO, INIT, ILLGOT, ITISSO, SEEPY, GOTANA, HUMPH, ISEND, ONTHEDL(would be OK but not clued as abbreviation), EYEOFNEWTGINGRICH (not a halloween costume).

DNF for the same reason as everyone else - GUnK/nMD.

@Rex often rants against puzzles that I find perfectly acceptable. THIS would have been the puzzle to rant about. Well, more than he did.

Kakashi 10:34 PM  

Supposedly it would be Doctor of THeology. But normally the degre is called an STD (Doctor of Sacred Theology). The STD acronym is the source of never end jokes for those in the field.

Tita 12:48 AM  

@Leap...but there were two wives giving ISSUE...whether they each had one or 5, wouldn't they together be ISSUEs?
Ha ha...linguist I'm not...

@Nancy...why do all the sites want you to join? Because they make money, or at least, have the potential to make money, when you do.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I didn't think it was as awful as most of you felt, but I certainly felt it was little more challenging than a Monday NYT puzzle -- about a third of the answers were gimmees. Lots of gimmees are acceptable and advisable when the theme is super-difficult, but this theme was obvious and easily solved once you got a few letters in each one. It would have been an appropriate puzzle to place in a collection made to introduce beginners to the Sunday NY Times crossword. Just blew threw it mindlessly, both normal answers and theme -- even though two of the theme answers incorporated the names of people I'd never heard of because I don't watch their TV stations EVER. About "Digger Phelps" (one reader complained about this name), it really isn't obscure -- any football fan knows the name as the guy is a legend in the sport. If anyone can complain that he or she isn't a football fan and can't be expected to have heard of Digger Phelps, don't I have the right to complain that I'm expected to watch loyally two leftist TV news programs (two of the four themes no less!)? The answer is that puzzles should ask us to provide answers from the knowledge base common to all, and to challenge us by the cleverness of the cluing. If we're not all football fans, or political leftists, or people who see every Hollywood movie that comes out, etc., then that information shouldn't be called for in a crossword puzzle. It's about using your noodle, not about the set of interests you share with the puzzle-maker.

Rina 11:42 AM  

Started puzzle during Jets/Pats game and drinking actually made this puzzle look good. The Jets nearly EVENEDUP another ILLGOT Pats W.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

LOL Rina. How can anyone beat a team that cheats? We don't know HOW they're cheating at the moment but based on past history they MUST be cheating. Anyway, thanks for throwing in ILLGOT, it reminded me that I wanted to query whether this really is a word. In my experience I've always heard "ill gotten", never "ill got". What about the rest of you?

Rina 5:49 PM  

@Anonymous 4:17 It's NOLIE and one of the SENECAN ADAGES or a MYSTIC CERTITUDE that the Pats' Belichick AMPLY ENTRAPS a RIVAL or a STRUNG out TINHORN who PLAYSITSAFE to RUE IFFY, QUAINT MIENS of ANGRILY stating ITISSO that he's a COZENER. His ISSUE is to AMP up his PITMEN to be UPTO it, NAIL it, and ACEIT, leaving opponents INPIECES by the PRIMACY of a GOODGAME.
Best, Rina

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

How does Will shortz keep his joj routinely approving crap like this?

Unknown 8:05 PM  

Can anyone name a single ballistic missile sub classified as SST? How is SST a retired boomer ? Bad clue

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

@Anonymous 9:35... Digger Phelps was a basketball coach, not a football coach.

kitshef 8:31 AM  

Unknown 8:05 - 'boomer' as in sonic boom, of they type created by SuperSonicTransport.

spacecraft 10:14 AM  

It wasn't that awful. A fun theme, if you give a little latitude here and there, and sure, there are some fill clunkers, but show me a 21x21 without them. [Out here in Syndiland, fearless one, this puzzle DID hit the day after. And I had an extra hour (falling back) to solve it!]

Hand up for GUnK, but NMD is gibberish. At least CMD is short for commander, but that crossing is REALLY weak. Elsewhere this has some cool longer fill, so don't try to say that it LAIDANEGG. Plus, any grid containing CATSTEVENS I will endorse with CERTITUDE. GOODGAME, Bill! B-.

Riskster 11:48 AM  

NMD=National Missile Defense...
It works.

Rickster-rockstar wannabe 12:06 PM  

So I been reading a lot about the guck/gunk debacle... I think Rex was wrong. I think a new word of rhe day is needed... I think the right down word is gunk and I think the right cross is NMD (National Missile Defense). It answers the mail and is the right answer in my opinion... so I did finish. Oh yeah, I liked this a bit too, not my favorite by a long shot, but cutie and timely as I did this the day after pumpkin smashing day...

Burma Shave 1:03 PM  


who was with CERTITUDE always the LASTTOLEAVE.
He said, “ITISSO nice you’re of LEGALAGE, you witch.
Are you one who PLAYSITSAFE, or ISITAGO I perceive?”


rondo 1:25 PM  

I just plunked in GUnK, so I guess it’s technically a DNF. Found myself down in the SE with all the themers in and just quickly filled the east-central, so didn’t check nMD.

And we get LILA and LOLAS. LOLA Falana a definite yeah baby, NOLIE.
LILA Kedrova? HUMPH.

SWE is anglicized, elsewhere it would be SVE.

WEREWOLFBLITZER may be most apt, most fun for me was GRAVEDIGGERPHELPS.

I’d be surprised if this puz GOTANA from @spacey. I did it, but OHO, OHSO, OOMPAH, POOH, HUMPH = OYS.

rain forest 5:52 PM  

Interesting how so many of the real-timers wanted to say the same thing over and over. That was more terrible than the puzzle itself, which, really, wasn't so awful. As has been pointed out, it's rare that a Sunday doesn't have a lot of bad fill,and the themers were kind of cute, except that I'd be surprised if someone wore a TOMBSTONE costume.

I had the most trouble with the North centre, where the one-pointer in crib has always been NIBS to me. Combine that with placing a D at the end of 7A, and include COZENER (wtf?), and I called timeout there, and came back somewhat later to figure it out. If a guy advertises a price for a dozen, but only gives you 11, I guess he is a COZENER.

Ultiimately, I dnf with cozens, er, dozens of others with GUnK, but what the heck, you can't win 'em all.

I've seen worse puzzles, but as most of you know, I like them all.

Lehi 11:33 PM  

Anyone notice Rex used "then" in the first sentence instead of the correct "than"? I thought he teaches english?

Anonymous 1:16 AM  

Surprised at all the whining about "guck" as it's a perfectly good midwestern word that I've heard and used all my life. Rhymes with "muck" but denotes a slimier substance. "Ill got" on the other hand is just plain bad grammar.

Karin Engel 4:11 AM  

Thanks For sharing nice halloween costume ideas

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