Bluesman Willie / Talker-upper maybe / THU 10-8-15 / Old court org / Old company whose logo featured torch / Carrots lettuce humorously / 1980s social policy / Alchemist's quest

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Constructor: Stu Ockman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Longest common word in the English language ... that does stuff" — [sigh] some kind of word trivia thing, I guess...

Theme answers:
  • SPOONFEED (17A: ... that has its letters in reverse alphabetical order)
  • DESSERTS (21A: ... that forms another word when read backward)
  • UNCOPYRIGHTABLE (39A: ... that has no repeated letters)
  • QUEUEING (54A: ... that has five consecutive vowels)
  • TORTUROUS (62A: ... that is spelled entirely from the last dozen letters of the alphabet) [dozen??? that is ... arbitrary]
Word of the Day: ROSE TOPAZ (10D: Pink gem) —
a rose-pink form of topaz produced by heating yellow-brown topaz
  (???) (
• • •
TORTUROUS pretty much says it all. This was a dismal, joy-killing puzzle. "Who ****ing cares?" was the only thing running through my head as I tried to put this thing together. This isn't wordplay. This isn't knowledge. This is trivia from some word website, and it's a very, very poor excuse for a crossword puzzle theme. As if the theme weren't depressing enough, the fill was laugh-and/or-cry-out-loud terrible in places. So, here's an unwritten cross-referencing rule: don't cross-reference crap answers that no one but no one is going to be happy to see under normal, non-cross-referenced circumstances. Cross-referencing foreign crosswordese ... that's the work of someone who hates fun, or cares not at all what a solver's solving experience is like. You should be ashamed that you had to resort to both OTROS and ESOS in your grid, but the fact that you're highlighting this colossal failure suggests you don't know that it is, in fact, a colossal failure. Yipes.  And someone needs to lose their job over that SW corner, specifically over USLTA, the single worst crossword answer I've seen in months, if not all year. Was there a Lesbian Tennis Association? What did I miss? When your (5-letter!) abbr. is a. *bygone*, b. hasn't been seen in *any* puzzle in 6 years, c. is in the cruciverb database only four times *total*, and d. isn't even holding anything good together (you've still got USMA and ELHI in there!) ... man. Man oh man OMOO. "Tin ear" is a generous term for what's happening here.

I gotta get back to the baseball game. The sooner we all forget this thing, the better. . . dammit! The baseball game's over. Oh well, I still gotta go. I just ... can't ... with this puzzle. Good day/night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Easy- medium for me.  I had OiLED before OGLED which meant I needed to stop and sort out 39a.   The rest went pretty smoothly.

At Bat is usually my first thought for "Up".

QUEUEING is a fine word.

Hard to argue with Rex on this one.  Although, I liked it a smidgen more than he did. 

Z 12:07 AM  

What was I saying about trivial trivia? Here you go.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Nit-picking quibbles about two of the theme clues: the second O of SPOONFEED does not alphabetically precede the first, same thing for the second E thereof, natch. DESSERTS is merely tied for longest word in common usage doing that thing it does,...with, you guessed it, STRESSED! Had OiLED before OGLED which had me doubting SHILL.

jp flanigan 12:13 AM  

This one took me a long time. I was having fun trying to figure out the theme words, but it lost me by the end. Too much bad fill. And i did myself no favors with POD for GAM and i OILED for OGLED. I didn't hate the idea, but as you said, the execution was pretty poor (and by pretty i mean really, and by poor I mean abysmal).

wreck 12:23 AM  

I agree with the general consensus, but USLawnTA wasn't so bad in my opinion. It WAS a commonly known real thing and was clued alright.

chefwen 12:30 AM  

Hand up for OiLED, I wonder how many people put in OGLED first, not too many by the first head count.

My buddy @Gill I had me all psyched up for a tricky, amusing, Thursday rebus, alas, it was not to be. Sniff... Maybe next week.

I did like DESSERTS (who doesn't?) and I'm never STRESSED while eating them, only happy.

Pete 12:32 AM  

I just want to know what the precise definition of "common word in the English language". If QUEUEING is common, how uncommon can REQUEUEING be? What's the cutoff, because there has to be one, otherwise QUEUEING is just plain wrong.

chefwen 12:42 AM  

My pal @Gil I got me all psyched up for a fun and clever Thursday rebus. Oh well, maybe next week. Sigh...

Rex was right, this was TORTUROUS

I did like DESSERTS (who doesn't?) and I'm never STRESSED while eating them. Loved FLOPSY showing up, cute little thing.

Steve J 12:43 AM  

Yeah, this was pretty abysmal. I had some interest in seeing what the trivial answers were to the themers, but even a couple minutes after I finished the puzzle all I could remember of any of them was that, by definition, there is no longest common word in the English language that forms another word when read backwards (obviously, there are two). It's not a good mark for your theme when your cluing convention fails on the second entry.

The SW is a trainwreck, the NE is scarcely better. And there's junk aplenty throughout. The only thing that gave me any joy in this puzzle was RABBIT FOOD.

Anonymous 2:41 AM  

Horrible. Just horrible. Like it was said, I can't even. It was like the crossword version of the Everything's A Problem blog.


John Child 3:09 AM  

tonED -> OiLED -> OGLED for the beach bod. Does anyone except gossipy web sites use this term anymore? Hand up for wanting a pod of whales.

I liked this better than @Rex because I found the word trivia interesting. There are other choices for each of the theme answers, but no foul there. Longest word using {O..Z} would be TOPSY-TURVY though. "Common" in the clues is open to interpretation, but topsy-turvy gets >1m Google hits and TORTUROUS only 860K.

paulsfo 4:36 AM  

I liked "fir coat" for TINSEL.

I wonder if Ockman and Shortz thought that cluing LOMAX as "Ethnomusicologist Alan" would hard been too hard (or too easy)?

Enjoyed AMOCO because my dad worked there for 36 years -- you don't see that happening much, anymore. And, as a kid, when we'd pass the giant neon torch & oval logo on a Michigan Avenue skyscraper, I would ask if the sign was bigger than our house (a house which, also very coincidentally, is presently up for sale).

Susierah 5:36 AM  

Same here for pod before gam and oiled before ogle. But DNF because I had l bar, which gave me roset opal, which I knew didn't look right, instead of a topaz.

Music man 6:07 AM  

Maybe the first puzzle I actually stopped trying due to just not caring.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

Tennis was originally played only on lawns---USLTA was hard, but not stupid.

Is a group of whales really a "gam?" I thought "pod."

George Barany 7:06 AM  

Yesterday, RABBIT_HOLE, today RABBIT_FOOD. It brings to mind this joke.

Lewis 7:10 AM  

The puzzle went relatively smooth for me, except the NE, where I didn't know AMOR, had trouble sussing ROSETOPAZ, and still don't get PANT for "What a hot dog might do". So, I take it that it's PANT as in IMHOT? I was thinking of snowboarding tricks and such.

There were some beautiful answers: STIFLE, GLASNOST, PERMEATE, and RABBITFOOD, and a few clever clues (MINT, FIR), and I like MINT being served next to the DESSERTS. I just waited for the theme answers to reveal themselves; I wasn't going to try to figure them out, and those unknown answers gave some bite to the solve, which I liked. When I was younger, I was interested in word trivia like these theme answers, to the point where I tried to figure out words that would outdo the existing title holders. Now, not so interested, but this puzzle reminded me of that younger state of mind, and what it felt like, and that was cool.

Unknown 7:14 AM  

9D. 1980s social policy? GLASNOST
I thought that was Socialist!

Annette 7:35 AM  

No joy, for all the reasons Rex cites, plus some questionables: I've never moored my boat in a slip, I've moored in a channel. It's a stretch that éclat is luxury; well, no, it's not a stretch - it just doesn't mean it at all. And our friend the "choose a letter"- bar rears its head, this time with a Z. What a waste of my morning coffee.

Norm 7:51 AM  

Torturous, yes. Fun, no. I think Rex is off base ranting about the USLTA when there were so many other things to criticize -- including the fact that it crossed USMA.

prandolph 7:53 AM  

Don't know what it says about me but I liked it.

The Rhino 8:02 AM  

I found this one so hard I couldn't tell if I was having fun or not. Could not get traction any where, and I still struggled even after resorting to the 'check puzzle' cheat.

In the end, I think I liked it better than the rest of you, but that's clearly not saying much.

Gubdude 8:14 AM  

I was able to get SPOONFEED and QUEUEING right away as they were asked as questions as my local pub trivia night.

@John Child I also had tonED > OiLED > OGLED

Billy C. 8:17 AM  

I disagree with the Rex and the (Rex-influenced) consensus here. Do people think they get points for agreeing with the rantings of Rex?
This was challenging, fairly clued, interesting for someone who actually likes words and word trivia (seems reasonable for people who say they like doing crossword puzzles), and had less crosswordese and bad fill than most recent puzzles. There were some great creative clues and many aha moments for the theme answers. I often wonder if Rex would be happier doing sudoku. He doesn't seem to like crossword puzzles very much.

Debra 8:18 AM  

Guess I'm an outlier too, cause I thought it was a good one. I thought it was about wordplay. Fun!

joho 8:18 AM  

@Susierah, I ended up with a dnf at ROSETOPAl, too.

I also like a gazillion others had pod and OiLED before GAM and OGLED. Who knew we were so predictable!?

@LMS, didn't you recently post that DESSERTS is STRESSED backwards? You must be psychic!

I find words interesting so I also found this theme interesting. Anybody else here read the dictionary as a kid?

Question of the day: Is it therapeutic to SPOONFEED DESSERTS to the STRESSED?

Kris in ABCA 8:26 AM  

Blues man Willie was not Dixon! Really! Took a while for me to give up on that one!

Hartley70 8:56 AM  

Meh! I too had oiled and pod, but they were an easy switch. You moor your yacht at a mooring; you dock your yacht at a dock....not a tough concept. It was an unusual theme, but it just didn't grab me. It would be better as a Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle because Thursday should be saved for something really clever or we'll all start to grumble.

Thank you for all the good wedding wishes this past weekend! Those who wished for lucky rain had their requests granted, plus cold, high wind and coastal flooding. For a bit we had police, firemen and guests stuck on the mainland faced with the causeway road underwater and the wooden bridge too rickety to support the vehicles. Lots of drama made for an unforgettable night, and in retrospect I wouldn't have change a thing...magic!

RAD2626 8:59 AM  

Totally mixed for me. Really liked some of the long answers: GLASNOST, RABBIT FOOD, PERMEATE, LOSE OUT ON. Cute clues for MINT, HOT DOG and a few others. Thought first theme answer was just wrong with the two double letters but thought DESSERTS/STRESSED clued okay. Had OGLED first but fell for pod. USLTA okay by me. But totally agree that OTROS/ESOS is really really a bad combo.

steven 9:13 AM  

Sure! But how many of you will drop one of these trivia words on your non- xword solving friends? "Hey, what's the longest English word...."

Laurence Katz 9:17 AM  

Willie Lomax? Really? He's a virtual unknown and the only reason I can think of why his name is in this puzzle is maybe he's a relative of the constructor. No offense to Willie, but he's a nobody who made a couple of albums in the
90s and hasn't been heard from since. No reason anyone should ever have heard of him. His inclusion shows a complete ignorance of the blues on the part of both the constructor and Shortz. As previously noted, cluing blues/ethnomusicologists John or Alan Lomax would make infinitely more sense.

Lewis 9:18 AM  

Head slap. Got the PANT clue.

TerryB 9:25 AM  

Another clear indicator that Shortz is just phoning it in. Dreadful and annoying.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

While the solve experience was akin to being tortured, I don't see how this puzzle was tortuous in any way - it seemed straightforwardly uninteresting to me.

When considering integral quantities, greatest and fewest is generally allowed to include ties.

jberg 9:37 AM  

Had POD, and some vague memory of a singer named Blind Willy LeMon, to that was hard. And then once I saw it was some kind of pink TOPAZ, all I could think of was 'pink TOPAZ.' Not allowed, but it blocked any thought on my part.

I had the same reaction as @Annette on MOORED, but I guess it's close enough for crosswords.

On the other hand I got USLTA right away.

I kind of enjoyed the word trivia, but yeah, the fill was weak.

GILL I. 9:42 AM  

Like @The Rhino, I too couldn't tell if I was having fun or just wasting my time.
ROSE TOPAZ was my favorite...
I love TOPAZ; it was my mother's birthstone so dad was always buying her different kinds of that beautiful gem. I inherited it all and have given the Imperial ring to our daughter and I had the London Blue and the ROSE made into pendants for our granddaughters....They shine!
FLOPSY and RABBIT FOOD didn't make this so TORTUROUS for moi but spelling QUEUEING did.
Why do I always want to spell it PAyNE?
I think I had a good time..

Bob Kerfuffle 9:52 AM  

And there I thought it was different but fun!

Didn't have to know any rappers or operas, although there were a couple of scientists and movie actors. Didn't depend on puns where we would argue about regional pronunciations, or added or missing syllables whose boundaries might be unclear.

Oh, well, can't please everyone ... but someone, now and then? I'm with you, @prandolph and @The Rhino.


Laurence Katz 9:52 AM  

And furthermore, if the clues is "Bluesman Willie" and the answer is five letters, than it has to be: DIxon.

Mohair Sam 9:56 AM  

Suffering through this horror was worth the medium/challenging effort here for two reasons:

1. Rex's delightful commentary (spot on - except we remembered the good old Lawn Tennis Association).

2. The memory of getting in line at a cinema in London 5 decades ago for a showing of "Dr. Zhivago" and discovering the word QUEUE on a sign stating that the QUEUE for the next show started there. Said aloud to my American friend that I was impressed by the four consecutive vowels in the newly learned word. The Englishman in front of us in line turned, sneered wonderfully, and said, "And you are QUEUEING sir, that's five." Shoulda been a gimme today, but remembered the event after the word filled.

Charles in Austin 10:01 AM  

The word facts of this theme were probably not known before the days of computer searches of huge word lists. So they could hardly be called trivia -- until now. And no, there are not things one would have known. But I found it loads of fun to fill in the theme answers. The clueing helped.

But bad news for speed solvers.

Tita 10:06 AM  

Liked it more at the beginning than I did at the end. Thought that these would be cool, albeit nerdy, word trivia. But...what Rex said.
But only because the last one is so ridiculously random.

Where's my Thursday tricksiness?!

Yes, OiLED.
Yes, ROSETOPAl...dnf'd there... Variant spelling of roseate opal? _BAR just to pain-inducing to thing hard enough about to realize that an L has only one bend.

johnny stocker 10:07 AM  

Shrug. I thought the themers were interesting. Takes all kinds, I suppose.

Steve M 10:10 AM  


mac 10:18 AM  

Exactly what @Jae said.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

MODEL instead of MODEM and ROSE_OPAL instead of ROSE TOPAZ (producing L BAR instead of Z BAR; who knew there were so many different-shaped bars?) made this a DNF for me. Still, I'm surprised at the vitriol being leveled against this puzzle. Yes, it's not a rebus and yes, that's a shame. But it was fun in its own way. It was trivia, but it was playful trivia -- fooling around with that thing we all love so much: words. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

One question, though: How can the constructor know that these words are the longest words of their category? Maybe there are other words lurking around in the newest Webster's that are even longer. Just wondering.

@Wednesday's Child (from yesterday): When should you stop struggling with a puzzle and give up? If it's a question of solving wordplay, thinking outside the box, or coming up with a bit of knowledge that's (almost) on the tip of your tongue, NEVER give up. Go out, take a walk and come back to it. If however, it's an answer that you didn't know yesterday, don't know today, and certainly won't know tomorrow, then do give up. What other choice do you have, other than cheating. Some here recommend cheating (and they're some of the nicest and smartest people here). I don't. I say it's a very slippery slope, takes away the whole point of solving and turns the crossword experience into an exercise in Googling. And Googling isn't exactly rocket science. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@Lewis: I also had trouble seeing PANT, even when it was right in front of my eyes. Like you, I was looking for a daredevil stunt. Think: a Golden Retriever who's been out in the sun too long. (BTW, with the new system, you're on track to get 26 additional answers to this question before noon today.)

AliasZ 10:38 AM  

I would've preferred RABBIT FOOt to RABBIT FOOD. And that USMA, ELHI, USLT, SOI, ZBAR were not allowed in NYT puzzles. But hey, you can't always get what you want. [Earworm!] What's ZBAR anyway? Short for Zanzibar? I-bar, T-bar, H-bar, Z-bar, FUBAR.

Word trivia is fun, this puzzle less so. Weren't we recently visited by "supercalifragilistic..."?


Lla ni lla, I thguoht siht saw a ytterp revelc elzzup emeht. I deyojne eht yalpdrow tcepsa fo ti, tub I llits referp a revelc suber no Yadsruht. Did uoy ezilaer ROMA delleps sdrawkcab si AMOR? Ereh si eht Ivert Niatnuof ta Noon tnemevom morf "Enatnof id AMOR" yb Onirotto Ihgipser. Sih yretsam fo noitartsehcro, roloc dna erehpsomta ni siht noitisopmoc si ylpmis gninnuts.

Happy Thursday!

jeff 10:48 AM  

How about A HOST? I thought that was the worst, the arbitrary article in no way suggested in the clue.

ArtO 11:06 AM  

POD for GAM, OILED for OGLED like a few of you. Found this a real slog but would not say it's awful, just a bit more challenging.. Maybe because I just came back from a colonoscopy/ endoscopy! Hopefully never again. I'm at that age.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Fully expected "happenchance" ...longest word where every letter is used twice. Ugh.

Roo Monster 11:17 AM  

Hey All !
Agree about the ugly fill. This puz is a prime example of if Will likes a puz idea, he'll publish it. Yes, this is me being bitter, as I have sent in better puzzles than this slog-filled fest. But none have Excited Me Enough. But, just to torture myself, I'm gonna keep on submitting till Will has a good day and accepts one. Glutton for punishment, I guess.

Did like the themers, but resulting bad fill, well, bad. Thought we'd seen all the Bars. Now we have a Z-BAR? How many different BARS are there?

Always like seeing OMOO, don't know why, never read it, just looks cool, I guess. Wanted SPACY to be SPACeY, guess I was thinking of Kevin. Nice making-you-think clue on 1D, was thinking actual hands.

Overall, split on this one. Know it'd come back as not accepted if I sent it in! OK, I'll stop now! :-)


Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

It's rather sad, I groan to admit, that even though I finished under my fastest time, it wasn't fun. Hand up for OgLED, which made SHILL hard to see. I just plodded along, and I'm no fan of plodding, ever. Methinks I need a break from the puzzles; I'm getting grouchy.

Gonna get out the chainsaw today and get me some STRESS relief. Lovely day here in Central Illinois.

dellaconsuela 11:23 AM  

Agree with Lewis. Accepted I couldn't get theme words except with lots of crosses and finished in good time for me. enjoyed it.

Mscharlie 11:28 AM  

I'm not getting the SPOONFEED and its reversible alphabetical order. What am I missing?

Joseph Michael 11:36 AM  

I enjoyed the word trivia but agree that the cluing was off and that this was a pretty TORTUROUS solve overall.

Two favorite moments: realizing that no letter is copied in UNCOPYRIGHTABLE and that STRESSED is a backwards DESSERT.

Roo Monster 11:39 AM  

Tried to redo SW corner, came up with this.


Leaves you with UNAC, which is a small commune in France. Better?


Noam D. Elkies 11:40 AM  

I enjoyed the theme, and didn't mind the cross-references (which are easier to find when solving on paper as crosswords were designed to be done). Much more fun than purported puns on one-named pop singers (to say nothing of watching some b*seball game). I knew some of the theme entries and welcomed learning the others. Besides the nitpicks re SPooNFEED and DESSERTS/STRESSED, I wanted SEQUOIAS for QUEUEING; Google Ngrams said I'd have been right had I solved this puzzle before 1950 . . . Fortunately the clue said the word reverses to *another* word, so one doesn't have to worry about long palindromes. Yes, USLTA/USMA/OMOO is not great but it doesn't seems easy to fix without LOSing OUT ON the stacked 8/9 letter downs crossing two theme entries.

thfenn 11:41 AM  

Thursdays still intimidate me, and I managed to finish with only a little cheating, in around half an hour, so that counts as fun for me. Didn't love it, but kind of liked it, even it it wasn't the best word trivia. So sure, AMOR conquers OMNIA.

"Me too" on OILED, POD, and 4 letter snowboard stunts. Also thought cadets were at the USNA, and couldn't figure out what I'd be INxxx to want the AC on.

Liked FLOPSY and RABBITFOOD in the same puzzle, and some of the other downs, like PERMEATE and GLASNOST.

Andrew Heinegg 12:07 PM  

The fact that this puzzle is drawing so few commenters combined with the lack of enthusiasm in either the positive or negative opinions of it pretty much says it all.

chefbea 12:32 PM  

was fun trying to figure out all the words while waiting at the dentist to have a tooth pulled. couldn't do it and now i'm home with an ice pack. It really hurts..and i have to eat mush for a few days. N fun

OISK 12:42 PM  

I finished it. Never heard of a gam of whales, and thought it might be a jam. But jee? instead of Gee? Yet a "jam" seemed so much better than a "gam." (as in a well known joke about collection names for streetwalkers... A jam of tarts, a flourish of strumpets, an anthology of pros, an essay of Trollope's...)

OK. Settled hesitantly on "gam." But otherwise, I found this one difficult but interesting. Generally liked it more than most others seemed to have. Never heard of floppy bunny, or "Sim" as a resident of a "City," and Otros and esos were difficult.

A word about yesterday's. It was based on who performed a serious of five songs, none of which were even slightly familiar to me. There was even an artist I've never heard of. Yet, the puzzle was solvable, which is a credit to Julian Lim. It wasn't "very very easy" for me though.

LindaPRmaven 12:52 PM  

Liked this puzzle much more than @Rex. Maybe he should try not mixing baseball and puzzles. I've found that doesn't work well. Distracting thoughts keep popping into the mind. Agree with @Lewis on the beautiful answers.

woolf 12:54 PM  

1. Thought a group of whales was a "pod." Thought a GAM was a meeting of whaling ships where the captains talk about whaling, per that one time Ishmael tried to look it up but couldn't find it. If your crossword answer about whales is so obscure that the main character in THE BOOK ABOUT WHALING describes how he can't find it in the dictionary and has to make up his own definition, which IS NOT the definition you are using, something has gone very wrong.

2. Oh, look, more antique-nautical-themed-crosswordese garbage (OMOO, LADES). Did you know LUCE also means a full-grown pike fish? I do now, since I had to Google it (never heard of the guy who founded Fortune magazine in 1930, not even ashamed of it). Alongside a misleading clue about boat parking -- ships can be MOORED out of slips -- this puzzle is a real gaffe. (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE ITS A FISHING PUN kill me.)

3. I am honestly trying to find something nice to say about this. I mean, there's almost a thing where the long downs connect, maybe, sort of, to the theme accrosses (to SPOONFEED is ECONOMICAL, RABBITFOOD is TORTUROUS, you can maybe LOSEOUTON something you're QUEUEING for... um, I got nothing for ROSETOPAZ), but I am grasping at straws. Badly conceived, poorly executed, editor needs to Bing the meaning of ECLAT.

Chip Hilton 12:57 PM  

It takes all kinds, I guess. I found this to be fun and challenging. I enjoyed learning about these notable words and thought the fill was reasonable, including USLTA (since I go back to the days of Trabert, Hoad, and the like). To each his own.

AZPETE 1:00 PM  

Thx. Best part of this blog.

old timer 1:00 PM  

Hey, Rex! Don't you know that AMOR vincit omnia? I'd like to see a little more love for this puzzle. For one thing, it teaches some word trivia that a lot of people will actually enjoy knowing. UNCOPYRIGHTABLE is a term you see every day in the law biz, or the tech biz. Who knew it was the longest of its kind? QUEUEING is a marvel. Yet it is real (sorry, requeueing doesn't make it -- who would want to get in line twice -- and not in the dictionary.

There is some lovely and amusing fill, worthy of praise. GLASNOST! RABBITFOOD! And the seldom seen FLOPSY, sister of Mopsy and Cottontail. (To be fair, there is a lot of blah fill, too, and it would be interesting to see Patrick Berry try his hand at a puzzle with the same themers).

And it seems to me that, much as I hate overused crossword abbreviations like USMA and ELHI, they acquire a certain charm when crossed with USLTA -- a real organization that sadly changed its name to something more "modern".

If I have a nit to pick, it is ALE as "pub suds". Because "suds" ought to be fizzy like lager or pilsner, and in any place that deserves the name "pub", the beer is distinctly unfizzy and very unsudslike. "Pub quaff" would be better, though it doesn't rhyme.

MadBum's Theft 1:10 PM  

Heh, C'mon Rex, peanut gallery, it wasn't that bad, was it? I mean there was a pile of ugly fill, I agree, but how often does that happen? The word trivia is not the worst thing that could happen to a puzzle solver on a Thursday morning; I thought it provided a nice platform to think about, well, you know, trivial wordplay.

In any event, I also thought it was interesting that the "clues" approached from another angle. The consecutive vowels, reverse coherency and other rules for the words were slightly helpful -not as helpful as descriptive clues, but that is what Thursday is all about, you know? I thought this sort of alternate angle for the cluing was interesting. Apparently I was almost alone in that regard, but unlike Rex, I don't think anyone needs to be "axed" over that. Now, getting shutout of the wildcard game two years in a row -now there is a situation where someone needs to lose a job; I'm looking at you, Jeff Branson.

Dan 1:18 PM  

Geez, Rex, USLTA wasn't all that tough, and it was once common coinage if you were a tennis fan. Didn't think this was all that bad, but it took me a while to get going, and that's a good thing. I like a decent Thursday challenge for a change. Lots of cranky people around here today, apparently.

Teedmn 1:59 PM  

GAM it, what happened to pod? And I have sour GRAPEs that it wasn't mauvE. My change came from a till, so GLASNOST was expected to be something meaning "No child lOST", the '80s version of No Child Left Behind. My auto option went from sEdan to LExus before LEASE. My terra was cottA first and to top it off, I was wearing ROSET OPAls. In ZanZiBAR.

QUEUEING, I always love it when someone tries to use QUE in Scrabble and I get to point out the UEUE. Outrage ensUEs.

Thanks for the word trivia, Mr. Ockman. I'm sure you'll get your just STRESSED.

Norm 2:47 PM  

I;m pretty sure that GAM is more specific for whales, while POD can be used for porpoises, dolphins, and seals as well well as whales.

Steve J 2:47 PM  

@Mscharlie: Each successive letter in SPOONFEED occurs earlier in the alphabet than its predecessor (other than the double E).

John V 3:38 PM  

I simply put this one aside as it was completely uninteresting to me.

Leapfinger 3:42 PM  

Rubbing salt in wounds, are we?

ÉCLAT fell EFLAT but (as noted) OMOO always fun: what the disgruntled cow said.

Another here who oiled pods but admit that OGLED GAMS win out every time.

Something shorted out outside and lost Internet, phone and TV, so went to Whole Foods to do puzzle. When I got to FLOPSY, was reminded of Little Bunny Foofoo. Was all ready to YouTube it , just for pure masochism, then rethought that plan. No telling how many small bleeding bits the surrounding clientele would have made of me.

Theme not bad, but Thurber put it more amusingly with 'facetious'. Put me somewhere between gruntled and dis-

GLASNOST, y'all!

Bronxdoc 4:54 PM  

Here's what I had: pod & oiled.
Here's what I liked: permeate, rabbit food, economical, lose out on, tinsel, idlers, and glasnost.
Here's what I disliked: everything else - particularly elhi. Blerg.

Ludyjynn 5:01 PM  

Not to beat a dead horse, but because this is the second time in recent NYT puzzles I have seen MOORED improperly used, I will add my two cents worth. @Annette, @Hartley et al are correct when they say, "I've never moored my boat in a slip." The correct answer is DOCKED, as in at the wooden pier where my boat slip was located! A mooring procedure is done in more open water, generally away from a marina, where the boat is attached to a mooring buoy. This is commonplace in a reef area to protect the fragile organisms from being destroyed if an anchor is dropped.

OMG, that reminds me of the day we were anchored, not moored and not docked, out on the Gunpowder River (MD) on a glorious summer's day, no other boats in the vicinity. All of a sudden, another boat came along and anchored within our field of vision. Without having to resort to intentional OGLing, we were assaulted by the vision of four very FIRMA young men, completely naked, QUEUEING up and diving off their boat platform into the water. This activity continued for over an hour! IM HOT, I told my friend, when the show was over. Quel ECLAT! That is why even a bad day on the water is better than a good day anywhere else.

Agree w/ Rex's pan of this puzzle. Looking AHEAD to Friday.

Monica 5:08 PM  

I suppose I'm the only one who filled in MORGANITE for our pink gemstone. That had me pulling my hair out for a while.

ANON B 5:46 PM  

Sorry if this is a repeat question, but how
did Mr.Ockman come up with these words
and how did he make sure that they were

Warren Howie Hughes 7:42 PM  

All I can say is "There's no place like 'OHM!"

Kevin Denelsbeck 8:42 PM  

A DNF for me because, like others, I didn't even realize that ROSETOPA_ was supposed to end with a Z. (I had L; never heard of ROSET OPAL, but I've never heard of ROSE TOPAZ either, and ROSET sounded like a plausible variant of ROSETTE.) When the app said I wasn't done, the only place I could see being sketchy was GAM for "group of whales"; I would've clued that "Moll's leg?" or similar. I loved the long answers so differ from Rex in that respect.

Leapfinger 8:59 PM  

@Anon 1108, I've heard of'happenstance' but not 'happenchance'; guess it qualifies as a word also.

My problem was with finishing ROSE__;I knew what I wanted, but seems I was down a QUARTZ.

High point was filling in STIFLE, which will always be "STIFLE it, Edith!" to me. Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker was a gift to American TV.

@joho, hand up for reading dictionaries. As a kid, it was the Petit Larousse we had at home that got me hooked. It was thicker than it was wide, and had the most gorgeous colour-plates of flags, mushrooms, butterflies and such. I still have it. Years later, when I had moved on to the Random House dictionary, I'd still browse for fun, let some word in a definition lead me to the next look-up. I remember constructing a diagram of language groups, only to find after some painstaking research that it was all laid out neatly on the inside back cover. Where there's a wheel, there's always a way it can always be re-invented.

Masked and Anonymous 9:01 PM  

Wow! A four-star rating from @009! ["Who ****ing cares?"]

Constructioneer said in his xwordinfo comment, "I did hate to lose RABBIT HOLE".
The M&A Help Desk believes that we can save the RABBITHOLE, with these substitutions:
SALTI for AMOCO. EPEES for LADES. No more ESOS, senor.

Now, for that SW corner. First, let me point out the delicacy of the situation, down there. It has three very gorgeous U's -- half the U's in the entire puz. Any revision of that lower corner must maintain this sinking feeling of U-hope. But yet, USLTA/USMA/ELHI is admittedly kinda desperado. And we might chip in SOI, too. And then also @009 seemed to moo at OMOO. So, the SW evidently moos out for a makeover.

Here's yer problem, SW remodelers: QUEUI-. Not becuz it has those U's, but becuz that themer's claim to fame is that it sports the king of all vowel movements. Five in a row, dude! That makes coming up with **anything** to nestle comfortably and civilly under QUEUI- a really really tough get. M&A put in countless nanoseconds of sufferin, tryin to improve that SW corner. Many cinnamon rolls were harmed.

Long story short, I was able change the SW fill, but couldn't turn it into Miss America. So, not worth givin the play-by-play. It still had desperados QUAL and ASORT. SOI became SRI. meh.

M&A did like the theme enough to admire its "weirdness". Puz was a fairly challengin solve, becuz the themers hardly lifted a finger to help out.

U.S. M.&A.

michael 9:57 PM  

I'm in the minority here -- enjoyed the puzzle even if I wondered if all the word-facts were actually right. And the double letters in spoonfeed stopped me for a bit. But I don't get the great dislike this puzzle bought out among many of you.

Didn't find USLTA hard at all.

Often do puzzles while watching baseball, including just now.

Leapfinger 10:32 PM  

Using my last post to suggest we start a collection to lettuce buy @George a bunny suit.

Given the numerous comments on the gam vs pod issue, some people might be interestedl in "Exaltation of Larks", an entire book devoted to animal collectives. Note: none of the collectives involve GLASNOST.

kitshef 11:01 PM  

Thought it was OK. If it hadn't been a Thursday, where we expect more fun, the theme would have been above average. Had the whole right side filled out with basically no entry into the left side, which was discouraging for a while. Otros got me in.

Hand up for OgLED before OILED, also fire before AXED, PAiNE before PAYNE. I Schrodingered POD/gam and FIRMA/cottA (which you can do when solving on paper) until MODEM and STIFLE collapsed the wave function.

I thought the worst offenders were AHOST, and IMHOT crossing LOSEOUTON. USLTA is completely fair as clued, unless you're a young 'un.

Z 11:08 PM  

The issue with USLTA is not that it was hard, it is that the USTA hasn't been the USLTA for 40 years. Legit? Sure. Quality? Nope.

As for MOORED, I've learned to do a little google search before making pronouncements about how something is clued wrong. At times you have to rethink a term (Oh - a canine that is warm) but sometimes a word is used differently by other people in perfectly okay and well documented ways (I picked one of the dictionaries that came up, but they all seem to have examples of MOORing by a dock - feel free to check uncle google yourself).

wreck 11:22 PM  

@Z yes, USLTA is indeed old -- but, the clue referenced that fact. IMO it was legit

wreck 11:28 PM  

@Z - should have re-read your comment again before posting! (I still think calling it 'non quality' is unfair)

rené fitzgerald-green 3:06 AM  

Whatever, Rex. Learn a little Spanish, it ain't difficult.

rené fitzgerald-green 3:14 AM  

Calm down, Rex. I don't follow sports and I've heard of lawn tennis. And the cross referenced Spanish clues were fine, it's not that foreign of a language in this part of the world.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

What's the connection to Dan Fogelberg?

Wednesday's Child 12:15 PM  

Thanks to anon 11:08: love the word happenchance. Never use it.

Oh well, I'll admit it, I liked the puzzle. DNF'd with OPAL.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle, which I did Friday afternoon, and couldn't wait to get on this evening to sing its praises Great theme, good cluing, just fun fun fun, and not one square required pop culture or specialized knowledge. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was doing it. Well done, Stu. P.S. I too slow my early progress very substantially by penning in "Oiled" without considering "ogled".

Anonymous 4:43 AM  

Obviously not for everybody, but I really enjoyed this one. Unusual stuff - made me feel clever.

Mscharlie 6:47 PM  

Thank you!

spacecraft 10:30 AM  

Fearless one, these are crossword puzzles, fergoshsakes, who actually "CARES" about any of it? The best a constructor can hope is to find something at least mildly interesting, and at that our present author succeeded, IMHO. I for one enjoyed it. (As someone already remarked, what does that say about me?)

My eyes are getting worse. for 27-down, I read the clue for 37-down, hence tONED, and Ott. Well, how would I know if slugger Mel was a contemporary of Michael's? Oh, did I mention how badly I SUCK at timelines? Anyway, all this only to bump up against the same clue later on--so tonED went in there instead! Back to 27, where HONED became obvious, and OH_ had to be OHM. But now I have a glitch in the big across: O is repeated. OOPS! Starting anew in the third place, the NW, I finally figured out that "Up" meant AHEAD, as in score, and my tribe wasn't the perennial OTOE but the HOPI. Then working down into the center SOHO became the obvious 'hood, and tonED became, at last, OGLED, and done.

Tough enough to engage the gray cells, cool (read "original") theme, and only a little fill dreck: ELHI bothers me more than USLTA. It's an overworked crutch. Still, A-.

leftcoastTAM 2:02 PM  

Like @spacecraft, I enjoyed figuring this one out. After fumbling around a bit with pod/GAM, the last theme words to go were QUEUEING and DESSERTS.

I thought at first that this might be a rebus, but fortunately I didn't take that TORTUROUS path.

rain forest 4:35 PM  

I find it quite amusing when the bulk of the commentariat are falling all over themselves to proclaim their disdain for, what, a crossword puzzle for Pete's Sake (agreed, Pete?). "Waa! I want my rebus" Crikey. Or GEE.

Like very few others, I enjoyed this one. I liked finding out about these words. I also liked many of the non-themers. This seemed an original effort to me. And hey, an almost shout out to @Spacey (no airhead, he) in there, to boot. Also Thomas PAINE - brilliant mind.

Burma Shave 4:50 PM  


“GEE, IMHOT for AMOR?”, the LUCE woman AXED me in bed,


rondo 5:09 PM  

GEE, for no apparent reason I was having trouble today. Had to work bottom upwards. Another hand up for OiLED along the way. Stuck for a while on mufFLE. And I thought a GAM was a leg, not a pod. Some of those long downers were pretty good though.

Agree with someone above that a five letter blues Willie would be Dixon. It almost was for me except for the obvious X from Bruce and yeah baby Demi.

Not so sure a REF is “calling the shots” as much as calling the fouls/penalties.

I think a boat can be MOORED anywhere it is tied up, maybe if it isn’t at a dock the thing it’s tied to is just called, well, a MOOR? Not AMOR.

Did not find this as TORTUOS as OFL.

Jack V. Huberman 10:23 PM  

Hey, I liked this puzzle. Found it pretty easy and enjoyable. And then I noticed that the constructor was in my high school class long ago. You go, Stu!!

Delrod 10:53 PM  

I get the NYT puzzles about a month late in the Seattle Times, so I just did this one this morning (Nov. 12). I finished okay after deliberating about the GAM issue, but I am still scratching my head over the ELHI answer to the clue "All-Grade". Somebody please explain 56-down.

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

@Delrod: ELHI refers to elementary-high school; i.e., all grades 1-12 (or K-12?).

Delrod 3:51 PM  

Thanks, Anon.

5wkslater 9:15 AM  

Loved it. Surprised it was attacked for its innocence. The fifteen letter word with no repeated letters was worth the price of admission.

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