1970 John Wayne western / WED 11-11-15 / 1921 play that ends with extinction of human race / Talking TV palomino / Bungled salon job

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: FORTY-NINE "R"S (62A: Old rush participants ... or a three-part hint to what can be found in this puzzle's grid or clues) — forty-nine "R"s in the grid ... and clues, apparently

Word of the Day: RWE (44D: "Nature" essayist's inits.) —
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. (wikipedia)
• • •

First of all, if you think I'm going to count the number of "R" in the *clues*, you are *&%^ing high. Second, this is a long, long, long way to go for a reparsing gag. You know what putting 49 "R"s in your grid gets you? A mediocre-to-cruddy grid. No one ever—and I mean Ever—said, "Hey, you know what this puzzle needs? More "R"s." I kept wondering, as I was solving, "How did a Steinberg grid get this fuddy-duddy and weak? (GRRS? RMONTHS? ROOS? ERI? UAR? ARMA? RWE!? etc.)" And then I got to the revealer. "Oh ... yeah, that'll do it." Baffling. I did enjoy BAD PERM, though (53A: Bungled salon job).


If I'd been concentrating and really trying, I think I'd've set a Wednesday time record with this one .I hesitated nowhere. But then I know my crossword history, so MARGART FARRAR was a gimme, and I was once a hardcore Grace Kelly fan, so I've actually seen "Mogambo"—got AVA GARDNER from just the "V" (28D: "Mogambo" co-star). I am also a huge Leigh Brackett fan, and she wrote the screenplay for "RIO LOBO" (39A: 1970 John Wayne western) (Brackett wrote mainly sci-fi, but she also wrote crime fiction, at least one western, and many important screenplays, including Altman's "The Long Goodbye" (1973) and Hawks' "The Big Sleep (1946) (co-written with some guy named William Faulkner, as well as Jules Furthman)). I also collected postage stamps as a kid, so "MAGYAR Posta" is a familiar, Hungary-related phrase to me. I went to school in Ann ARBOR. And ORRERIES ... why do I know that word? I never see it in real life, but somehow it has stuck. Anyway, I felt uniquely poised to crush this crossword. It surely wasn't that easy for everyone. But it was pretty easy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I co-constructed today's BuzzFeed crossword puzzle with Lena Webb. You can get it here. Thank you for your consideration.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:20 AM  

just when you the Times puzzle has hit a nadir, along comes an execrable puzzle like this one...perhaps the stupidest theme since last week

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Well, now "every answer contains an 'R'" joins its brethren T and B. The good news is that there are only 23 more truly horrid puzzles awaiting us.

Billy 12:32 AM  

Why would anyone ever want to know ATM companies???

jae 12:48 AM  

Not that easy for me.  More medium- tough.  I've seen ORRERIES in crosswords before but I'm never really sure of the spelling.  Plus, I spelled MAGYAR with a U instead of a Y at first so, the reveal took a fair amount of staring to reveal itself.   

I have to agree with Rex on this one.  A bit tortured for the pay off and there is no way I'm counting Rs.

jp flanigan 1:20 AM  

Easy. 3 3-letter abbreviations in the NE is a bit uncalled for, but for the most part i enjoyed this. I didn't know your pluralize GARB.

chefwen 1:40 AM  

Well, I got an error, let's try again.

Had to triple check to make sure this was a David Steinberg puzzle. Did not know he was capable of making a puzzle this easy, other than the theme that is, which I read as Forty Niners and not forty nine "r's. Couldn't figure it out reading the long answers and decided it wasn't worth my time so came here. DOH! Yup, I was right, not worth the time. Ridiculous theme.

Anonymous 2:06 AM  

@Rex, I wish I could quit you.

But I know I'd miss the adrenaline rush that goes with the rage I feel when I read a review like this one -- and many are much, much more infuriating.

It's a most unpleasant compulsion, like picking a wound that would be better left alone..

G. 2:39 AM  

The 49 Rs are in the finished grid.
No need to count the clue Rs.

Anonymous 4:45 AM  

The Times' puzzles ate stale. Maybe 1 in 20 or 30 are actually entertaining, engaging, fun to solve. Or maybe it's just the case that crossword puzzles are essentially dull.

Anonymous 6:05 AM  

Another great post by Rex

George Barany 7:05 AM  

It seem like just yesterday that @DAVID_STEINBERG came up in conversation, and today (11/11), this Veteran constructor, less than 2 weeks shy of his 19th birthday, regales us with the 45th New York Times crossword of his career. If only he had four more, it could have been the 49th, to go with the puzzle's reveal.

Given that I was born in Hungary, MAGYAR did not pose much of a problem, nor did QB Brett FAVRE who almost took the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl a few years ago. I would have gone with 1944 Nobel laureate and one-time Rockefeller University President Herbert GASSER, and "Wozzeck" would not have been my first choice for an OPERA. Does anyone remember a memorable chase scene in the original "Jurassic Park;" that could have been the basis for a fun REAR_VIEW_MIRROR clue, n'est ce pas?

Looking forward to SMORE from @David!

Glimmerglass 7:09 AM  

The theme is silly. I looked at my completed grid, and the "revealer" revealed nothing. If I'd parsed the revealer as FORTY-NINE RS, it would have been no help in finding any answer. I suppose the exercise in puzzle composition is mildly admirable, like a pangram. But it isn't a "theme" any more than a pangram is a theme.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Go Blue!!!

LaurieG 7:22 AM  

and can we PLEASE give mred a break? three times in about a week?!

JJK 7:24 AM  

This was the weirdest puzzle - super-easy clues mixed with totally obscure ones. I mean, orreries? Come on! I have never heard that word before. And several pretty arcane proper name clues. Bizarre mix.

NCA President 7:29 AM  

I'm just glad the gold rush didn't happen in '89.

Just sayin'.

Jonathan Alexander 8:05 AM  

So the theme was "let's make this puzzle as crappy as possible by cramming as many of one letter into the grid as we can"...gotcha...for a true embrace of this just look at the NE corner

Z 8:11 AM  

I hear REI will be closed on Black Friday so that their employees can hunt down MR ED and send him to the fishes - eels, to be exact. Almost makes me wish for a RRN. Almost.

Unusually high anonymice count amongst early posters. Huh?

@G - No need to count Rs anywhere, but the revealer clearly suggests that the clues also have 49 Rs. HooRAH.

Charles Flaster 8:15 AM  

Agreed with Rex on all accounts. Also very EZ, much easier than yesterday's.
Did not parse the theme but did not affect the outcome.
Liked GUITAR SOLO and that's it.
CrosswordEASE-- YSER and MR ED( should be clued more creatively by next person using it which by law of averages should not be soon).
I expected a Veterans Day theme --went to a concert last weekend and all the performers talked about it to rousing applause.( Will was not in attendance).
Thanks DS.

GILL I. 8:18 AM  

Worse than a BAD PERM.

Nik 8:22 AM  

Remarkably restive regarding recent REI/MRED repetition.
And: hail to the victors valiant. Jim H's return to the Big House evokes the Bo S. days when JH played. I wonder if they still have snowball fights between South and West Quads. Those were maize-hued days, to be sure.

Nancy 8:24 AM  

MR ED again??????!!!!!! @Mohair: Are you going to play the "over/under" game with Mrs. Mohair about MR ED comments today? If you guess really, really high, you won't end up having to make breakfast or wash the dishes or whatever it was you said the loser gets to do. @Hartley: You are about to be even more peeved today than yesterday, because that infernal talking horse is ba-a-a-a-ck!

I knew as I was solving that there were a lot of Rs here. Yawn. Then, when I saw the revealer, I realized why. Yawn. I suppose, because it's by David Steinberg, I should be grateful that there isn't a lot of pop culture trivia. And so I am. But, sorry DS -- I find this bland and much too easy for a Wednesday. I enjoyed both Monday and Tuesday a lot more.

Gregory Schmidt 8:39 AM  

My familiarity with Italian and opera helped, otherwise, blechh. What is up with the GRE,UAR,ISR corner? I was tired and wasn't coming up with Emerson, and I was too lazy to figure out the whole "R" trick, so the RUR/RWE cross felt like a complete Natick. I just ran the alphabet until I got to R and music played. Yuck. Next please.

mathgent 8:40 AM  

Not only are there 49 Rs in the grid, but each entry contains at least one R. That's pretty impressive.

There are also supposed to be 49 Rs among the clues. I've gone over the clues three times and can only find 48 including the R in the word ACROSS. It reminds me of the time in the Air Force Reserves when two of us were assigned the task of counting the beds in a barracks. The sergeant needed to sign off on the inventory. We did it three times and came up with three different totals.

RAD2626 8:43 AM  

I really like puzzles that are clever feats of construction and I say when it is over, "I cannot imagine being able to do that". But those are puzzles that provide a real aha wow moment for both the constructor and the solver. My all time favorite is still the puzzle that had the closing lines from Casey at the Bat around the puzzle in a diamond shape. I do not like puzzles, e.g., pangrams, that are just a wow for the constructor, like where you would not even notice the gimmick until it is pointed out. I think this falls in the latter category although the clever revealer gets it part way to category one. And having 49 r's in the clues as well is certainly a grade A category one. Who would ever count them, or care? Did like all the long fill a lot, with the exception of the already criticized ORRERIES.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Alphabet run needed for the last letter, but I was fairly sure the ending R in GAR made a fish I vaguely remembered. Still had to consult the dictionary to confirm ORRE'R'IES, which I have never heard of in singular either.

Needed RP to clarify that it was 49 R's, now the last letter seems so obvious its ridiculous.

Have to agree with the majority here, it was a slog, but I do not care nearly as much as some for style points, so still satisfying to come out with no errors.


jberg 8:56 AM  

From SARD to SAPOR ... what could be more fun? The theme, though -- I made a couple of half-hearted attempts to find forty nine-letter words, or to figure out the significance of "Old rush" rather than "Gold Rush," in the clue, but did not think enough about why it was a 'three-part hint.' Instead, I just gave up and came here. Oh, that's it.

People in Washington did once think AARP was a powerful lobby -- until it convinced Congress to enact a catastrophic health insurance law, which turned out to be very unpopular with the people it claimed to represent. Now they're taken seriously for their policy expertise, but it's generally realized that their huge membership is mostly people who join for the discounts and the magazine. The NRA is another matter.

That was today's political science class!

Ludyjynn 8:59 AM  

Writing MARGARET FARRAR in the grid made this meh solve worth it.

MR ED, yet again. @Hartley, you must be so thrilled (not)!

The overall content seemed to skew old, so was surprised to see that young DS was the constructor: was BRAN next to AARP deliberate? Very funny.

EARED pitchers? Huh?

Thanks anyway, DS and WS.

Roo Monster 9:00 AM  

Hey All !
For all the non-constructors out there, I have to say this was incredibly hard to make, having an R in every single Across and Down. And still manage to only have a little dreck. Wow. Hats off to young-un DS. I want to be like him when I grow up!

The puzzle itself is fine. Don't know what everyone is griping about. Only nit for me is lots of names. I knew most, but some may not. Did think it easy for a Wednesday, but still had good clues and answers.

So, awesome job, David. Now I'm gonna count the R's in the clues!


Paul Johnson 9:12 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Way easy puzzle. And no way am I counting up the R's. And it figures Rex went to school in Ann ARBOR. So did I (Class of '75). The PC indoctrination stuck with him. The graft never took in me.

quilter1 9:21 AM  

Quick and easy. No idea about the revealer. Sometime you can see ORRERIES on Antiques Roadshow.

chefbea 9:33 AM  

Thought maybe we would have a Veteran's day puzzle...but no..we did have Gomer Pyle but the Marine birthday was yesterday. Hand up for dumb puzzle and enough of Mr. Ed

pmdm 9:35 AM  

NCA President: Funny, very funny.

Anonymous 6:05: Is your comment sarcastic or a true compliment? Tough to tell with with some comments.

Perhaps this puzzle could have been published during of week of "first-time" puzzles. As far as I'm concerned, this puzzle is a themeless puzzle. I agree with JJK.

mac 9:40 AM  

Gre, uar, ncr, rca, isr,sro, arg, rei, fri, nra, npr, aarp.... Emough said.

Malsdemare 9:40 AM  

Did any one else notice that the revealer said 'Old rush participants'? I scratched my head a bit, trying to determine just who is in a rush to get old.

Never heard of ORRERIES and was positive that would be an error. I was stunned it was correct. The clue for RUE, "has misgivings about" was misleading, I thought. Misgivings occur before you do something; you RUE your decision after the fact. But I'm nitpicking.

I would have liked a longer puzzle; once I'm done here, I have to go to work. I wouldn't mind an excuse to procrastinate.

Patrick Riley 9:45 AM  

Enough with the MR ED already. Talk about beating a dead horse.

thfenn 9:46 AM  

And then, of course, there's 65A (ARE), giving us a fiftieth. I kind of wish I'd counted them, because I didn't know ERI or RUR (even with RWE), and if I'd counted 48 I would've gotten those two with a 49th R, so that's too bad. Also had no idea SAPOR worked for 'taste'. Definitely have never heard of ORRERIES, tho I had the Rs in the crosses for that one.

Anything with a Stairway to Heaven reference can't be too bad. I kind of enjoyed this one. Was glad to know we're in prime oyster season, will go have some soon. Good to know AARP is a powerful DC lobby, as they're already encouraging me to join. Rearview Mirror would've been more fun with a Jurassic Park reference, I agree, or hey, 'where Lubbock, Texas is happiness for some' I suppose.

thfenn 9:51 AM  

Thanks for the headsup on AARP (that comment was published while I was writing mine, so hadn't seen that)...

Bob Kerfuffle 9:53 AM  

Something different from David Steinberg!

Saw his name at top, but as I worked this easy grid from North to South, I wondered what obscurities would show up, but none did.

At the one-quarter mark, thought I noticed an over-abundance of certain letters, and speculated that it might be a "letter bank" puzzle.

By the one-third mark, I noticed that every entry had an R in it -- maybe that was the gimmick.

Halfway down, my thought was that he was going for the greatest number of Rs in a 15x15 grid.

So I was truly surprised and had a little smile when I got to the revealer!

Brett 10:01 AM  

You're right. But I suspect that there are 49 Rs in the grid, and also 49 Rs in the clues. Which I didn't pick up at first even though the clue specifically says "...can be found in this puzzle's grid or clues". Somehow I missed the "or".

Arlene 10:01 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle - and yes, I went back and circled all the Rs. There are 49 in there. I like to play after finishing the grid - so YAY for this one!

Chuck McGregor 10:03 AM  

A very satisfying puzzle, but some tough no-clue clues e.g.: Lethoso’s locale, Native Hungarian (its answer also), “Mogambo” co-star; and no-clue answers e.g.: ORRERIES, SARD, RUR, ERI, ROY (wrongly thinking something about graphics, like RGB).

Kept getting a few answers here and there (aha, some traction!), but then run into stumbling blocks to fill things out, like the AFOREmentioned. I got REARVIEWMIRROR from only the last two Rs and thought that would open things up where I was stymied, but no.

Eventually, except for a couple of letters (had to cheat on two), it all made sense. Looking at the finished grid, it sure looked like it should have been a lot easier that it was.

So, an easy puzzle that Mr. Steinberg somehow made difficult to get going (@JJK 7:24) – at least for me -- but gettable and therefore a really fun solve to REAP. I expect I’m in the vast minority (well, if ‘vast majority’ is a thing….) as to the difficulty: “ARG! He must be a real GOMER if he couldn’t RASH through this one. YSER!.” If so, guilty as charged.

However, @REX’s comment, “It surely wasn't that easy for everyone. But it was pretty easy” made me feel better because it wasn’t.

Oyster Season: RMONTHS:
”Combined with modern refrigeration, and the use of non-spawning oysters in farms, the old reasoning behind the R-month advice mostly falls apart today — as long as you refrain from amateur oystering when it's hot. Because once an oyster goes bad, no amount of cooking will make it safe.”

I have a close friend here, Dave Cheney, who farms oysters with truly bodacious SAPOR. My son used to work for him doing this. It is quite the operation to do so and takes a lot of biological savvy to do it well.

MARGARET FARRAR: Knew her name, having done my first NYT puzzles around the mid-point of her tenure (off and on since then).

MRED: How foodstuffs are prepared for the military?
REI: Undergo a makeover? (Prefer L.L. Bean)

Nancy 10:10 AM  

@jberg (8:56 am) -- To paraphrase "Brokeback Mountain": AARP, I just can't quit you. (Though, God knows, I've tried.) They begin courting you the day, hour and minute you turn 50. I joined back then for a nominal price, then quit, because being a member of a Seniors' group at the tender age of 50 was just too damn depressing. They left me alone for a long, long time, then started pitching me again at 60 or so. I joined again -- for a very nominal price, maybe $12 a year, and received a monthly magazine and newsletters with some good puzzles in them. I stayed for a while. Then, suddenly, the $12 price was $49 or some such. I thought: the mag and newsletter are pretty feeble and I seldom read either. I dropped my subscription. They pestered me for, I think, 2 years, trying to get me back. Then, they started sending me the mag and newsletter for free. I'm the demographic they want, they consider me part of a potentially powerful lobbying group, and they simply won't let me go. So, to all of you who want to receive their publications but don't want to pay the membership fee, just quit. I bet they won't let you go, either.

L 10:13 AM  

Hey, you know what this puzzle needs? More cowbell.

Hartley70 10:13 AM  

I didn't find this as easy or as annoying as yesterday so thank you David Steinberg. Yesterday there was just one difficult entry. Today I wasn't familiar with ORRERIES, SARD or SAPOR which I wanted to be SAvOR, and so had a one letter DNF. The theme reveal was superfluous to the solver because it didn't help one solve. It was designed as a constructor tour de force. More fun for David than us. A Tony the Tiger Clue could have let you add as many R's in "GREAT" as you needed to get the desired number, but oh yeah, I hear he ate MRED. I hope there's an expiration date on using dead talking horses in the NYT puzzle. I don't think it would pass the breakfast test.

I didn't think the long themers were difficult, but I enjoyed the references. It was a nice touch to include MARGARET. I wonder if that's been done before. I remember the sultry AVA in "Mogambo" fondly. She had MRED beat by a mile.

Thanks for AFR. It was a nice change to see the clue.

Roo Monster 10:14 AM  

Found em all! 31 in the Across clues, 18 in the down. Did you get the ___ G BIV (coloR mnemonic) one?

Kudos again from me. DS, don't let the bastards get ya down!

Apologies to all if ya thinkin I was calling you a bastard. I wasn't! It's just an expression! :-)


ArtO 10:15 AM  

A really dumb theme. Way below Steinberg standards. But why isn't ORRERIES WOD?

Nancy 10:19 AM  

@mathgent (8:40 am)-- It's lucky you guys were counting beds in the barracks and not enemy war planes.

@Patrick Riley (9:45) -- Great line. Wish I'd thought of it.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Some if the are too obscure for a Wed.
Not an "Easy."

Blue Stater 10:35 AM  

Pretty bad, but I've seen worse. Terrible Natick at 46A, ORRERIES and ROLOS. And good old MRED. Again and again and again. Did WS even see this puzzle, let alone edit it?

Harry Anslinger 10:36 AM  

A few hits of weed made this snoozer more interesting.

Joseph Michael 10:37 AM  

CleveR theme but not suRe it justified the cRappy fill. FoR me, this was suRely not easy. NeveR heaRd of ORReRies, magyaR, or saRd. Seems awfully obscuRe foR a Wednesday. Next!

OISK 10:39 AM  

Easy, but I agree with Rex. More annoying than fun. FAR too many abbreviations, and the ERI, with RUR, with RWE cross is really bad construction. The overwhelming majority of the three letter answers are abbreviations. Abbreviations generally should not cross other abbreviations, so as not to provide an unguessable Natick. RUR was vaguely familiar to me, although I did not know what it was, so when I had as my last squares RU _ and _ W_ - wasn't sure about "eared", which gave me _WE... I correctly put in the "R." Oh, Ralph Waldo Emerson!

Way below the David Sternberg mean.

kitshef 11:01 AM  

I expected Rex to savage this, but I'm glad he didn't. All the long acrosses are solid, plus we get AVAGARDNER, ESTROGEN, MAGYAR, ORRERIES, GUITARSOLO, EDASNER. There are times we go for weeks without getting that much good stuff in one puzzle. So yes,I'll put up with RMONTHS and BADPERM and GRRS and yet another MRED for that. Wonder why Rex objects to ROOS?

old timer 11:08 AM  

BORING! And way too Easy for a Wednesday. @Rex is right on.

Now you can't blame the *constructor* for multiple MREDs in a row. You can blame the Crossword Editor, who could have swapped this one with whatever puzzle he had in mind for two weeks from now.

imfromjersey 11:22 AM  

Puzzle 3 of the Arlington Puzzle Fest his weekend. Didn't understand the theme until someone explained it to me afterwards. One of my friends got Naticked by Orrerries/Gar and missed getting into the finals as a result. Once again, as with @rex's buddy Bruce Haight's stunt puzzles, just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be.

Andrew Heinegg 11:28 AM  

I never pay attention to what I term gimmick puzzles and this one is no exception. What 'good' does it do to construct a puzzle with each answer having an r or any other letter of the alphabet? Does it make it more interesting, amusing or brain-twisting? Not to me and, when you add in the number of tired, clichéd x-word answers that have to come in, you have made bad fill for the sake of synchronicity in the puzzle and the solver gets nothing from your efforts.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Didn't understand the theme at all until I came here. Was trying work out how San Francisco somehow fitted into the long answers (it didn't)!

Carola 11:40 AM  

Maybe I'm weiRRRRRd, but no ARGgghhh from me on this puzzle. I liked it. I saw something was afoot with those RRS about a third of the way down, but couldn't come up with reason why - so, like @Bob Kerfuffle, I smiled at the reveal. Nice! Loved the play on words there and the fact that 4 Rs are voiced in MARGARET FARRAR.

Didn't know: SARD. Did know, because of previous puzzles: ORRERIES.

@ludyjynn - BRAN + AARP, lol!

Damon Parker 11:45 AM  

I thought the gimmick was that there are only 4 t's in the whole puzzle and in the answers with t's there are 9 r's. 4t 9r

Damon Parker 11:49 AM  

I thought the gimmick was that there are only 4 t's in the answers and the answers with t's have 9r's in them. 4t 9 r

AliasZ 11:56 AM  

As trick puzzles go, this was a pretty good one. I was amazed at the ORGY of arse in the grid. As FORTY-NINE R'S tied them all up in a pretty bow, and after reading David self-deprecating note at xwordinfo: "I realize that many solvers don't enjoy stunt crosswords, which is why I try to stay away from them in general. Every once in a while, though, a constructor's gotta have a little fun!", I wholeheartedly agree. @David, I for one share your enthusiasm for a trick puzzle now and then. If they are well spaced out, they can be a pleasant diversion. I still fondly remember the one quite a few years back, in which the only vowel was O.

Best entry of the day: MAGYAR. If you expect to know that German in German is DEUTSCH, Finland in Finnish is SUOMI, Japan in Japanese is NIPPON, etc., why not Hungarian in Hungarian? Don't agree with me? So suomi. On most Wikipedia pages, on the left side under "Languages" you will find the word "Magyar" instead of Hungarian. It is pronounced "MAH-dyawr" with a rolled R, accent on the first syllable. The "dy" is a single sound, a soft "d", as if it had a ˜ on top. If you say it correctly to a Hungarian friend, s/he will be impressed. That is, if you cared.

Favorite new word: ORRERIES. Some of them are superbly crafted and astonishingly beautiful, rivaling a Fabergé egg.

Let me leave you with this equally beautiful GUITAR SOLO by the master, Andrés Segovia.

Thomas 12:02 PM  

REI. Again. Unbelievable.

Numinous 12:09 PM  

I can't remember not knowing what an ORRERY is. Both my grandfather and my mother collected stamps. I remember, as a little boy, marvelling at the beautiful MAGYAR Posta stamps. They were, of course, printed to be sold to collectors more than for use in the mail. @Rex, have you ever seen a cancelled one?

I never look at the constructors' names before doing the puzzle. I was a tad surprised to see it was a David Steinberg. @mathgent: yeah, I counted the Rs. I got 48, figured I missed one and let it go. I have to say I was impressed by there being an R in every answer, every one. David said (to borrow a bit from Arlo Guthrie) "I knowed it wasnt the best puzzle I ever worte, but sometimes a constructor has to have a little fun." He also gave up the fact that he used Crossword Compiler. Using a word list, it will auto-fill a grid. David created a word list of words with R in them to make this. When you use Crossword Compiler, it will fill the grid and wait for approval. Any fill you don't like, you erasse and ask for more. You can pre-fill some answers and the CC will work around them. I think compiling a word list exclusively of words with the letter R is impressive.

Driving up and down I-5, I would occasionally (Ok, more often than occasionally) Marine Corps convoys pulled over to the side of the road, hoods up. My thought was, invariably, that's what happens when you have 19 year-old mechanics. GOMER always seemed too old to be a gRunt. That show would have been more believable if someone like Walter Denton (Richard Crenna) played the part (kudos to anyone who gets that reference).

Y'all are flogging a dead horse. MRED is gonna be arounnd for a long time yet. I have to smile every time I come across him hearing, in my mind's ear, "WilbuRuRuRuRuR." There is a category of wine that can be found via google: M RED. It is also possible, having dined on field rations, to have MRE D. Then there is the criptic clue possibility, "Stuck in the mud without me." M(i)RED.

Just like last week, it would seem that Will managed to invert Tuesday and Wednesday. I finished this in 46% of my usual time. I had to calculate that because that is a record for me. I'm with @Rex. It was dead easy.

Chuck McGregor 12:11 PM  

Hmmm...no comment (as I submit this) about MR ED (ED) ANSER...

However, there is only one other "ED" in the grid (and I would color it legit).

EARED: Audiological program (abbr.)

If you want to find or count letters in a grid, go to Print/The Completed Solution (at least for the NYT on-line version) which should open up a pdf. If viewed in Adobe Reader, the grid is searchable by letter using the Edit/Find menu. I counted the 49 Rs I today's grid this way. You can also copy and paste from the grid or clues.

r.alphbunker 12:22 PM  

Exactly my experience. Everybody is clamoring for a different puzzle theme and when they get one we get an uproar.

This page marks the R's in the grid and in the clues in red.
If you do Command-F on a Mac and (probably) Ctrl-F on a PC and enter r it will report 49 occurrences.

I did Rex's BuzzFeed puzzle. First of all it has a frequently appearing theme that seems stale compared to today's NYT. And the first two downs in the NW were clued as {"Piano Man" key: Abbr.} and {Solution for storing contacts}. When I saw those I thought of Rex wanting to abandon a puzzle because he didn't like a couple of answers in the NW.

wreck 12:24 PM  

This was fun with a nice reveal -- exactly what I look for in a Wednesday puzzle. Sure it was easy, but who says every puzzle has to be a masterpiece every day.

Lewis 12:39 PM  

@roo -- Good post and props for making it into the puzzle!
@patrickriley -- Good one!

So I'm imagining it went like this. David heard or saw "Forty Niners" and parsed it as 49 r's and thought it would be a cool reveal to a puzzle with just that. Then in the middle of the night he woke up and added, "How about if I not only have 49 r's but have an r in every answer?" Then two hours later he woke up and had a revelatory burst that he could have 49 r's in the clues as well. Then he went ahead and made the puzzle to see if he could do it. Not as a stunt to impress, but as a challenge to construct. And thus this puzzle.

Reading David's comments now, I see the idea didn't come overnight, and that having 49 r's in the clues was basically an afterthought. And in case anyone is interested, the previous record for R's in a puzzle is 30.

To me, the theme/reveal was irrelevant to the solve, which was fairly easy. I don't understand the "three-part" part of the reveal, though. Regarding how David feels about stunt puzzles, here's what he says in his comments: "I realize that many solvers don't enjoy stunt crosswords, which is why I try to stay away from them in general. Every once in a while, though, a constructor's gotta have a little fun!"

Somewhere in my brain lies an ORRERY because it popped right out when called for.

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

I thought this was kind of fun - I set a personal record for fastest Wednesday (a little under 8 minutes) so the irritating parts didn't have time to irk me. The revealer was nice and so were the long answers. I found all of the Rs in the grid but missed one in the clues and I'm not going back to find it!

Thanks, DS. I haven't seen this theme AFORE (or don't remember it). It didn't leave me ORRnERIES nor did it give me a RASH. He neither used RRR (learning basics) nor R AND R (though RRS did not have a Monopoly on bad fill) so congrats on that.

This Wednesday puzzle is now in my REARVIEW MIRROR. On to Thursday.

Rabi Abonour 1:15 PM  

So much MR ED. It really bothers me when editors use the same answer multiple times in a short period.

I'm not a student of crossword history or ATM manufacturers, so MARGARET FA_RAR/NC_ was a total guess. I've never heard the expression RIGHT AS RAIN. MAGYAR? ORRERIES? ARMA? This one was a chore. When will constructors realize that putting a bunch of one letter in the grid does not make the puzzle more fun to solve? At least a bunch of Qs or Zs or something is impressive; 49 Rs serves no purpose but to make the fill terrible.

Mohair Sam 1:26 PM  

@Nancy - The over/under is 49 of course.

@Patrick Riley - Nice one - Goes in everybody's "why-didn't-I-think-of-that?" locker.

@Rex - Yup.

Mr. Ed 1:37 PM  

Have there been any messages for me?

Chip Hilton 1:41 PM  

I really didn't care for this. Especially: RUR, SAPOR, ORRERIES, SARD. Words found almost exclusively in crosswords, no?

The 49 counts are impressive, I guess, but not at this cost.

Jim in California 2:53 PM  

Ya know.... Years ago when I started doing crosswords I thought that if I didn't get, or didn't like, a puzzle it was because I was a novice and was simply failing to see the logic. Went along that way for a while until, having done enough puzzles, and gotten good enough at it to know that I wasn't in the dark about the quality of the clues and answers, I started to allow myself to say "hey, that's a great puzzle" or "man, that puzzle is really crappy and frustrating". But it wasn't until I started following this blog that it dawned on me that there is a reason why some puzzles are good and fun to solve and some are crappy and frustrating to solve-- and that one can break it down and parse it out! If Rex can do it, then why can't the NYT do it? Crosswords are compelling because they deal with language, pattern recognition, cultural references, and because they are clever and sometimes get you to flip-flop the way you see things. They cause you to make first-time connections in your head and say "aha"! I didn't even know I knew that!! So what is the point of a puzzle that sacrifices all that in service of a blah theme like 49rs- which, even if you bother to figure it out before you are done solving, does nothing for the solving experience? Is GRE UAR ISR Worth it? Or the rest- RRS ARG NRA NPR REI and SRO? I say no, and although some compromises are unavoidable in any grid, I feel that the NYT is letting us down with all this dreck. If a puzzle isn't good, then don't publish it - no matter how many Rs it may have in it.
My two cents.

Roo Monster 3:04 PM  

Not that anyone cares, but I feel a compulsion to post where the R's in the clues are. If you truly don't care, move on to the next post!
Across: 16, 17, 22(2), 26, 27(5), 33, 36, 39, 43, 46(2), 51(2), 52, 58, 61, 62(7), 66, 67, 68
Down: 1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 18, 24, 25, 28, 30, 32, 37, 40, 41, 44, 49, 54, 64

Ok, itch scratched! (Thanks for the list@Lewis!)


Anonymous 3:18 PM  

I thought this puzzle was refreshingly original. You're too hard, Rex. I agree it was easy till I hit Magyar and gar, the last one of which I was literally typing the alphabet into the third box. I counted the Rs in the grid but I'll take their word on the clues.

Z 3:27 PM  

@r.alphbunker - For me, a well done puzzle in a style that's been done was way more enjoyable than discovering that a puzzle has exactly 49 Rs. The NYTX is more of an ese primer, vol. R, than a fun solve. REI, MR ED, RUR, GAR, RRS, YSER, GRE, UAR, ERI tu, NRA and NPR, ISR, RCA. Thankfully, the Romans didn't use R in their numbering system. Granted, 1 and 2 down weren't the freshest answers, but the Buzzfeed puzzle is much much much more fun to solve than this one. Of course, the theme might have me under the influence a little.

janet 3:35 PM  

Totally agree! A walk in the park with a few 10 foot high fences

Numinous 3:42 PM  

The first ORRERY I saw was in the science segment of the day in, probably, fifth grade. There was one just for the earth and sun that had a lightbulb at the center and there was another with all nine planets. Why my rinky dink elementary school in Oakland, Calif. had that, I don't know. But I've been fascinated by them ever since. The mechanics, to me, are the most interesting.

If you happen to have seen the Riddick movie Pitch Black you saw an ORRERY which gave away the bad news that the planet was going to be in total darkness and all the carnivorous creepy crawlies were going to come out. Such bad luck.

@Chuck McGregor: Last Saturday we MRED some flour. The resident 11 year-old, as a project for a history chapter on the Civil War, made hardtack. I suspect her classmates witll still be trying to bite into it in 2020.

AnnieD 3:46 PM  

I've been pretty much only doing the NYT puzzles for a long time. I've also been reading Rex on occasion for some time and found his commentary cranky and didn't understand what his problem was. However, now that they have daily puzzles in the WSJ, I've started doing them as well. OK, Rex. I get it now. Especially after today's puzzle. Crank away. I hear you.

the redanman 5:33 PM  

Just awful. Made the WSJ and LAT seem Pulitzer worthy.

Leapfinger 5:42 PM  

Rrrright! Seems this came across as a one-trick pony, but it was a rrreal good trick, even if that pony ROOmed with MR. ED.

Not sure why everyone's so down on Monsieur RED; we've had nearly as much of the TASRAINian Devil, and nobody seems to have imp loded.

Thought this might be a coming-of-age puzzle for DS: ORGY, ESTROGEN and the REARVIEW tailing behind were a bit RAH. It was RIGHT after MARGARET FARRAR made that RAIN DRY up that I noticed the peculiARity of R-MONTHS, and 'ARBORed no more doubts we'd have a regular array of RRRs rolled out. The joining of pigskin and nugget with the alpha-numeric of clue and entry just made it a delicious shaggy dog, the kind you can't wait for the end so you can finally loose the gathering groan. And DS, that rising teenior, really has groan up.

Aids to solving:
SARDonyx - one of my birthstones. SARD is also a town in Romania, about 500 km from Budapest, the MAGYAR capital, where I made my debut. Had read about an ORRERY long ago in some Gothic novel, so I recognized it the first time I saw a real one, a clever bronze construction. Today, the crosses had me thinking of ORREfors before I read the clue; the theme saved me from that GAF.

Other likes:
ARMA virum meu cano
AVA Gardner was a NC filly; no idea where Mr Ed was barn.
MR ED is the ASNER; tell me, Brett FAVRE, what is the Quetsion?

Mainly, like Gunsmoke, I liked the Arness of it all.

S'MORE SAPOR, Dravid Steinberg!

dick swart 11:35 PM  

A sequel:

The 39 St

boco7 8:49 PM  

I'm with @RooMonster 9:00 am. I liked the cleverness of the 3-part hint ... and, yes, I DID count all of the R's in the puzzle!! All in all, very entertaining. Thank you, David Steinberg!

Burma Shave 9:09 AM  


I was RIGHTASRAIN, LORD I couldn't be finer,
what SMORE foRMONTHS AFORE I worked up a one-liner,
it was a real GASSER,
'cause Brett FAVRE was a passer,
'twas when IRAN and IRAN FAR for the FORTYNINERS.


Robert Cragg 9:30 AM  

I loved the puzzle starting with the image of a campfire and SMOREs.

I joined AARP at fifty as it was nice to save five bucks on motel rooms. Along came their support for A CA and I quit. They won't let me. Still get the magazine but I don't contribute a penny toward the lobbying efforts.

rondo 10:32 AM  

Oh LORD, too FAR for the Rs. And MRED, EDASNER that is. I put this one in my REARVIEWMIRROR already.

But we did get yeah baby AVAGARDNER, no lack of ESTROGEN there. That answer and GUITARSOLO were the highlights of the grid.

Got stuck with the Mpls paper today. Bothe MRED and AVA made the other xword puz in that paper. Also tiresome. But better Sudoku.

At least no OLE today, but how dull.

spacecraft 11:28 AM  

As the pirate said while reading the eye chart: "ARRR!" Still one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen. RIGHTASRAIN, @Robert Craig, you can't go wrong by feeding me a SMORE at the start. And another thumbs-up for the tribute to the amazing Jimmy Page. But then really: RRS and GRRS? HoRRoRs!

As always, my eyes gravitated toward the 7-line clue, and my very first thought was: FORTYNINERS! But I didn't fill it in because of the "three-part" thing; failed to parse it that way. Imagine my sheepishness when it turned out to be correct! (1)FORTY (2)NINE (3)RS. Clever, these Steinbergs!

For the sake of the trick, though, our young virtuoso sacrifices fill, giving the grid a BADPERM. I know, I know: you just wanted to see if you could pull it off. You did. Sorta. B-.

P.S. Lone writeover at SAvOR (figured the BEAV and BOY before seeing the clues). I guess since OFL didn't mention it, the double ED--when both are actual names--must have been awarded a DS immunity. Isn't it kinda early in his career to start giving him immunities?

rain forest 12:21 PM  

It was OK, but I didn't get the 49 Rs thing, and it seemed much too straightforward and easy for a Steinberg.

No anger here, and a small 'v' feeling of victory.


Longbeachlee 12:21 PM  

Blue Stater you missed the point of the 49 rs. It was to help you resolve the orreries-rolo natick of course. All you had to do was count the rs. Wow you shoud have had a V8 (laced with Vodka).

leftcoastTAM 3:24 PM  

Oh, oh, I thought, a David Steinberg. But the only real hitch here was counting the R's, which would be tedious and was unnecessary.

I paused at the GAR/MAGYAR/ORRERIES crossings, and it seemed that the G and especially the R's made sense. The stray R to start the MONTHS answer was a puzzlement.

I liked the DS twists here, though, and enjoyed his Wednesday appearance.

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

After getting last Wensdeday's puzzle right entirely right without any hints there were four letters blank I did not know. Plus one error in Fabrar instead of Farrar. Solved yesterday's much quicker and without any hints.

spacecraft 8:21 PM  

@leftcoast: When I was just a kid of six, I saw a sign in a restaurant where my mom took me. "Oysters 'R' in season." When i asked about it, Mom explained that they're out of season when it's too warm: May, June, July, August. Coincidentally, these are the only four months that DON'T contain an "R." I just thought that was the neatest thing ever, and I never forgot it. So RMONTHS are oyster season. Enjoy!

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

I liked this puzzle... I appreciate the difficulty of creating it, and liked the reparsing of FORTY NINE RS, which took me a while to get. The positives outweighed the negatives.

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