Sant' Gria brand / SUN 4-10-16 / Jerusalem's province to Romans / Rich kid in Nancy / Grocery chain since 1926 / 1993 standoff site / Cowpoke's friend

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Constructor: Randolph Ross

Relative difficulty: Easy (unless you are younger than, say, 35, in which case the fill will make your eyes bleed with its staleness ... yes, I stand by that metaphor)

THEME: "Something in the Water" — bodies of water with various apt water crafts sitting on top of (or beneath!) them:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ATMAN (51D: Hindu soul) —
n. the spiritual life principle of the universe, especially when regarded as inherent in the real self of the individual.
a person's soul. (google)
• • •

I enjoyed the theme. It's cool and original. But fill this rough / dated / Maleskan simply shouldn't be allowed to dominate a NYT crossword in the 21st century. I guess if I were feeling generous, I'd just call the fill "CLASSIC," but I'm not. This was painful to fill in. Frequently, literally, painful. This is a throwback to when crosswords were an exclusive, exclusionary test of all the dumb short and / or arcane words you needed to know to participate. Frame of reference, solidly 40-50 years ago. Please don't ever complain to me again about "popular culture" (boo hoo!) if you somehow think this puzzle, with its ROLLOs and ERNIEs and alt-spellings and OLEOS and prefixes galore is somehow OK. A single NAS does not a modern crossword puzzle make. If this reminds you of the good old days when you learned to do crosswords during the last regime (or even earlier regimes), I get it, we all have pangs of nostalgia from time to time. But Holy GNEISS, ATMAN, there has to be a way to balance and broaden a modern crossword's frame of reference. I had a conversation with some very smart novice solvers in their early twenties recently, and was brought up short by how much the NYT crossword's cultural center of gravity is beyond them. They are getting to be good solvers, and of course there is no reason at all that everything (or even most things) in a puzzle should be thrown softly into a millennial's strike zone. But now, when I do a puzzle like this, I realize how much the NYT appears not to care (at times) about solvers who are not already in The Club. I mean, son of a LEVERET, this was off-putting at every turn. Which is sad, because again, the theme concept is adorable.

[For some reason, today's theme reminded me of this song ... something about sailing away to China / in a little row boat to find ... ya]

WTF is YAGO??? I try to google [define "sant' gria"] and it's just stupid automated crossword clue sites and then YAGO's own ... site? Is "sant' gria" a thing that is different from "sangria"? Anyway, this is one of the stupidest, most "hell no"-ish things I've ever seen in crosswords. In Shortz era, it appeared once in 2013, but before that, it was 2003, and then 1997. And, in modern era, that's it. YAGO is terrible fill that is also an absurdity. NO WAY, as they say. AGE ONE is also a NO WAY, as all AGE-whatevers are (green paint, made up). SERIO- and SINO- are sequential Across answers? This is head-hangingly sad. That spelling of JUDAEA, same. NAH and NAE in the same grid? Again, as always, no one of these is unforgivable, but en masse, all this junk is suffocating. GRIDIRONS doesn't even get the football clue that it should have, probably because only unwashed heathens care about "sports." I don't know. This puzzle needs to rethink its priorities. Remember that people who aren't Exactly like you actually solve your crossword, constructors. Open it up. Broaden its focus. Let the air in. Please. Saloons and HICS!? Gah. Strive to go beyond the cliché! Also, kill ALER. Kill NLER. And their plurals. Trust me on this. It was bad to begin with, but with all the interleague play now (I mean, the Tigers opened in Miami? Miami!?!? Ugh), the terms mean even less than they did before.

A brief recap of last weekend's ACPT (contains one tiny possible spoiler for one of the puzzles, if you are planning to solve them at home and haven't done so; but it really is tiny):

Well, now that it's no longer timely, let me tell you what ACPT weekend was like. This was my first time back in Stamford since my very first tournament, in 2007, and it was very good to be back. The tournament feels more like Home in Stamford than it does in Brooklyn—people aren't being pulled off into the various distractions of the big city. And yet Stamford in no way sucks as a host city. I was pleasantly surprised at how many varied and excellent places there were to eat and drink within walking distance of the hotel. The tournament experience has definitely been improved by the move back to Stamford. It was also improved by a general feeling of happiness and gratitude that pervaded the whole tournament, largely because so many of us were missing the presence of our friend, Merl Reagle. Merl's partner Marie was there to present the first ever MEmorRiaL award for Lifetime Achievement in Crossword Construction (it went to the legendary Maura Jacobson, longtime crossword maker for New York Magazine, and longtime ACPT puzzle contributor). Patrick Creadon (director of "Wordplay") put together a tribute to Merl on Saturday night, made up of footage and outtakes from "Wordplay" interspersed with Patrick's own reminiscences of both Merl and of Patrick's father, who also died last year. It was all terribly beautiful and crushing. I had to go stand by myself off to the side toward the back, because I kind of couldn't deal. Having Merl's voice fill that ballroom again was both haunting and inspiring. Patrick did a phenomenal job. The spirit of Merl made the whole weekend feel very warm.

The other great thing about the tournament was the finale. Back in 2007, when I arrived at the Stamford Marriott knowing virtually no one, my blog was only a few months old. It was beginning to get a sizable readership, but still, to most of the people there, "Rex Parker" was nobody. I was nobody. And not being an extroverted person, I was a bit lost. I remember walking in and seeing Merl ("... from the movie!" I remember thinking), and then seeing fellow blogger Amy Reynaldo (not here this year, much to my sadness and chagrin) and ace constructor Byron Walden, and meeting them in person for the first time. But beyond them, I didn't feel connected to many people at all, and I was sort of a wallflower. But there was this one guy I met fairly early whom I liked a lot. He was soooo nice, and he talked to me and filled me in on what the tournament was like and generally made me feel very much at ease. Like I belonged. His name was Howard Barkin. Since then, I have watched Howard compete year after year as one of the very top solvers in the country. Occasionally he'd make it onto the finals stage, but he never won. The times I remember seeing him on that stage (once? twice? I forget), he seemed to really struggle. Everyone loves Howard, and everyone roots for Howard, but it seemed that, especially with the impossibly fast (and, to be clear, equally beloved) Dan Feyer still living and breathing, Howard was destined to get close, but never win. And then this happened:

[Jump to the 1:45 mark or so if you are impatient...]

People leapt from their seats in joy and disbelief. You can actually see this happen with the lady in the lower right corner. I was in the back of the hall, lying on the ground, playing with my friend Jen's service dog, Emmy, not really focused on the boards, when I started to hear murmuring. Then I looked up to see Howard call "done" and I threw my hands in the air as if I just didn't care. I walked toward the front of the hall shouting in happy disbelief, "No way! ... No Way! ... " I high-fived people I don't even know. I hugged Anne Ellison (another perennial Top Solver). I generally lost my mind, as did so many others in the room. What you have to understand is that no one was rooting against Dan (who before this year had won the tourney six consecutive times). The vibe just isn't like that at ACPT. Everyone knows everyone, more or less, among the top solvers and longtime attendees, and it's all impossibly friendly and collegial. So the joy was all *for* Howard, who has been chasing this title for the better part of a decade, and, again—and I can't stress this enough—is The nicest guy.

 [Sam Ezersky wins Juniors, freaks out]

I saw Patrick Berry but was afraid I would do some kind of fanboy swoon / faceplant if I tried to talk to him, so I just avoided. But I saw lots of old friends and met lots of readers and just had a blast. Best tournament ever, no joke, and that's *despite* shooting myself (and my dreams of another regional trophy) in the foot on Puzzle 5, when I ... well, I don't want to give puzzle details away, since some people will be solving the tourney puzzles at home. Let's just say I zigged when I should've zagged. Or, rather, I zigged too soon. I zigged at the wrong place. The zig part still made the right answer, but unfortunately CROITIA is not a country, so the resulting cross was a big fail. One error, and it cost me probably 20+ places in the standings, and it's quite possible I'd've caught it if I had eaten the minute and just Checked My Puzzle (which is what you're supposed to do). But no, rookie mistake—when I finished, I had only 4 seconds before the next minute elapsed, so I just handed it in. Never ever do this. Otherwise, I was happy with my performance, considering I hadn't trained at all. At the moment, it looks like I finished in 58th, tied with fellow former Michigan student Derek Allen (easily recognizable by his UM baseball cap) and just 5 measly points ahead of Washington Post crossword constructor (the man who succeeded Merl in that position), Evan Birnholz. Better luck next year, Evan.

Thanks to Will and Patrick Creadon and Chief Scoring Official (or some such big-shot title) Mike Nothnagel for running a great show, and thanks to everyone who came up to me and said mostly nice things (especially Kelly Kroehle and Daveon Coleman, brand-new puzzle friends whose ears I talked off, and vice VERSA).

[Over 570 solvers "compete" in this thing (I say "compete" because most of us are not "competitive" except with ourselves); if you're lucky, you get to sit next to funny and charming people like Marion and Trey (foreground)]

Crossword tournaments are where you belong. If you are reading this, you definitely belong. Go to Indie 500 in DC (June 4, 2016), or to Lollapuzzoola in NYC (August 13, 2016), or to ACPT next year (March 24-26, 2017). You will not regret it. I have never met anyone who regretted it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


John Child 1:07 AM  

@Rex is right of course that puzzles filled with things one has never heard of aren't much fun. It cuts both ways though: the AVCX puzzles and Kameron Austin's fortnightly (lovely old-fashioned word) themeless puzzles, for example, often make me want to scream because they are so far from my "cultural center of gravity." I'm willing to learn though, and that's why I subscribe to puzzles that I don't always enjoy.

IMO the only thing wrong with this puzzle is that it was clued so easy that it was over too soon.

Berselius 1:26 AM  

I got the rare triple-natick on this one thanks to ITASCA/ LEVERET, CAT, ROOSTS. Though I probably would have got ROOSTS eventually I thought the other would be rAT or bAT somehow.

Da Bears 1:27 AM  

Rex, you like the theme? I suspect you like the constructor even more.

jae 1:38 AM  

Easy Sun. This was a fun theme! Very clever and a breezy solve. Liked it a bunch.

That said, I more or less agree with Rex about the fill. I sort of made a similar comment about this week's PAIR OF JOKERS puzzle. I'm not whether it can easily be remedied, but I do know that there is a fair amount of stuff my 17 year old granddaughter does not know (and may never know unless she gets serious about crosswords) and she is only doing Mon. puzzles

My only iffy cross was GNEISS/MITE. MoTE might have worked, but I vaguely remembered seeing GNEISS in puzzles before....ATMAN, however, was a WOE.

And, if you haven't read Rex's write up of the 2007 ACPT you should go back and take a look.


Loren Muse Smith 6:41 AM  

And here I thought the rant would be about the outlier, UBOAT. Hah! Honestly, I was so consumed with figuring out which vessel went with which water that most of the "painful" fill didn’t even register. I'm still surprised sometimes at how much Rex can hate fill that escapes my notice. I tried to go back and see all the icky areas but just lost interest in tracking entries down that might have offended. Then I question myself and think, "Man, I need to step up my game." And then I think, "Nah. I like enjoying puzzles as much as I do."

There was but one problem area that dealt me the death blow: for LEVERET/ITASCA, I had "leveren/inesca." So a dnf. No biggie. Here's the thing - I don't track my time, don't worry about a streak on the NYT site that keeps track of your time… I just tackle a grid, drinking coffee and enjoying the ride, usually to see some cool theme. So I get that I lose some credibility here with more serious solvers.

YAGO went right in because somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered this commercial. I kinda sang, "YAGOooo Sangria" as I wrote it in.

What a great idea, though! Physically put the vessels where they belong! I loved this. I would have liked it even more if that UBOAT under ATLANTIC OCEAN had been the very last pair on the bottom.

Early goofs:

"nut bar" for OAT BAR
"attempt" for HAVE A GO
"nag" for ASS
"we made it" for WE'RE HERE
"chirp" for CHEEP
"sot" for HAN – get it? A sot pilots his (red) solo (cup)? Ok. I didn't actually write it in, but I considered it.

I look at the clue/answer for 84A and get dizzy. We have that kind of thing every now and then – the clue is "what you have" and the answer is "NO ____". I don't really speak semantics or logic, so this is all a bit opartesque.

Randolph – I enjoyed this one and will remember it for a long time. GNEISS ONE. I'll join in the inevitable GNEISS wordplay today.

(Oh, and I briefly considered "trollers" before TRAWLERS and then unfortunately remembered a yellow-bellied post yesterday by anonymouse @tb 3:54pm. What a spineless coward. Yeah, yeah, I fed the stinkin' troll. But George doesn't deserve that.)

Bob Kerfuffle 6:43 AM  

Slightly over 35 here, so no problems, no complaints. Felt like a really easy puzzle with a cute theme, well-executed. No question today about what is above or below the horizon!

Very nice ACPT write-up, Rex. Starting with Loren and followed by others, several attendees have described the ACPT experience far better than I could, and I can only pile on with my feeling of a wonderful time with wonderful people. (Just a side note to @Arlene - You showed us your picture after the fact, but said you didn't meet any Rexites at the tournament. I personally am rather shy and retiring, but others in the group are more outgoing, and we could have gotten together to say hi if we had known you were there.)

Chuck McGregor 6:49 AM  

@Yesterday: When I finished reading up to the last comment I saw posted at 10:35 PM, my immediate thought was, and I can quote me on this, “Well, they certainly picked THAT apart!.”

Musing further and without going back and counting, my impression is, if they were so-rated, the comments would have a (Hi @puzzle hoarder) low number uniqueness rating. This would be as to lack of digressions elicited by any of the puzzle’s content or, obversely, the number of posts concerned almost solely to commenting about the clues/answers and/or the puzzle as a whole.

Again just my impression: I don’t recall any puzzle being so thoroughly parsed or with most comments more or less exclusively focused on that. As well, the various contrary views about the details and puzzle as a whole mirrored the consensus about the Big Bang Theory as a show that @Z noted: either love or hate – no middle ground. Oh, the irony!

If actually statistically true, I’d take it as EVIDENCE it was a great puzzle in some regard, but not sure what that regard is. I guess it would be like some art works that are held in high regard, in part, because of the notoriety (i.e. discussion) they engender and the ensuing love it or hate it opinions, both as to the details and as a whole.

On to, or onto if you will, today’s grid (non-electrically speaking).


Anonymous 6:58 AM  

In my college days in the 70's, Yago Sangria was a favorite wine.

chefbea 7:37 AM  

Hand up for too many words I never heard of. Did get all the themers though. don't understand aler for A or O??? Loved the clue for latrine!!!...and of course Napolean!!!

@Rex..great writeup!!

Mr. Mondegreen 8:17 AM  

DMX's, "Party Up"
The Misheard Lyrics:
Yago make me lose my mind
Up in here, up in here
Yago make me act a fool
Up in here, up in here.

The Real Lyrics:
Y'all gonna make me lose my mind
Up in here, up in here
Y'all gonna make me act the fool

AliasZ 8:24 AM  

@Rex, lovely, lovely write-up of the ACPT. You made us feel we were there ourselves, mingling with the participants or just being wallflowers. Thank you for that.

I enjoyed the puzzle very much. I caught on to the over/under theme with UBOAT, which opened he floodgates to the other theme answers. Favorite: GONDOLA on the GRAND CANAL, bringing back memories of my visit in Venice in 1968.

I found the fill easier than average precisely because it was tilted to the CLASSIC side of the scale more than the "hip" side. NAS to me is Naval Air Station or National Academy of Sciences or "not available separately" more than the rapper guy (or gal -- what do I know?).

Using the logic that English words that are not in today's fresh / hip street lingo should not be in today's puzzles, would eliminate about 99.67% of all English words. ALER on the other hand should be banished, together with AOLER, NHLER and every other initialism-er or pluralized initialism.

My major complaint today is JUDAEA, which to the Romans most certainly was IUDAEA. The Latin alphabet does not possess a J. I had "I" for the longest time there, but IAN ETRENO was not someone I remembered in the Clinton cabinet.

What's the difference between HAVEAGO, HAVEAGOAT, and HAVEACOW? Inquiring minds need to know.

Let me leave now, singing to the tune of Auld Lang Syne: "WE'RE HERE because WE'RE HERE because WE'RE HERE because..."

If not that, then:
"Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucUNDAM iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus."

Iago Make me lose my mind 8:27 AM  

Yago Sant'gria

In 1964, sangria was introduced to the United States at
the New York World's Fair. This cool refreshing beverage
was poured at the Spanish World area of the fairgrounds
and was an immediate success. Based on this popular
reception, this beverage was soon imported under the
Yago Sant'gria label. Although Sangria was traditionally
made with a red wine - sangria rojo - it also is made with
white wine, termed sangria blanco.

George Barany 8:35 AM  

Very wonderful writeup, @Rex, and comments (the first ten that have posted). I'm pressed for time this morning but may come back later today (or not until tomorrow). Just two quick things now:

(1) I can't say that I'm completely abstinent, but occasions when I imbibe are far and few between. Nevertheless, when I was in graduate school in NYC during the '70s, it was hard to not hear YAGO Sant'Gria ads (real earworms), and some of the stuff even made it to lab parties. (You're right, of course, about the crossing with AGE_ONE -- would AGE_TWENTYONE been any better?)

(2) In your list of upcoming tournaments, be sure to include the fifth annual Minnesota event, on Sunday, June 12, 2016. Click here for more information.

eileen sweeney 8:35 AM  

I am booking myself to ACPT next year as a result of the write- up. It moved me to tears

Horace S. Patoot 8:48 AM  

I don't think "not quite" and HARDLY are synonyms unless one is used sarcastically and the other is not. I'd rather be not quite done with a task than hardly done.

Lobster11 8:59 AM  

What Rex said. Enjoyable theme, but too much dusty arcana.

I've never seriously considered attending a crossword tournament, but OFL's enthusiastic write-up and recommendation might move me one step closer to, well, considering it. His observation that lots of folks do so without really trying to compete, except against themselves, is encouraging. The problem for me is that I don't even compete with myself. I've never timed myself, ever, and have no desire to start. For me, crosswords are purely an exercise in relaxation, and somehow the thought of trying to do so alongside nearly 600 people doesn't seem very appealing. But I'll think about it....

Teedmn 9:09 AM  

Selective memory at work today - I didn't find this stale or a slog at all and even cast an eye over it and thought the dreck quotient was rather low for a Sunday until I read @Rex's write-up. So I agree that it does skew older but I enjoyed it all the same. But I will agree on @Rex's dislike of the 102D crossing 114A. I have seen 114A before, have gotten it and patted myself on the back at my perspicacity at sussing a clever clue but today the neurons misfired. 102D was YAcO, YArO, everything except YAGO. 114A was left as AcE ONE with a mental shrug that it must be some sort of baseball term I've missed all these years.

And 47D has me GNEoSSing my teeth because I filled in MoTE at 61A and never looked back.

My 11D started out as MiNy (as in eeny, meeny, MiNy) as an aid to picking sides. OdOrS were blowin' in the winds, I was riding an unimpressive "nag", my one way flight began as an Emigration.

I thought HICS as saloon sounds and the partial BEIT (a DOOK for French fishing bait?) were some of the stretchy stuff in this puzzle but the theme was fun and I wasn't bored so I give it a thumbs up. Thanks, RR.

Ray Chick 9:26 AM  

"Rex Parker" was a nobody" - Rex, you write about Xwords and ask for money.... trust me you're a nobody sweetheart

Z 9:36 AM  

Big swaths of three letter answers. A fair amount of specialized knowledge (GNEISS, LEVERET, ITASCA, EVELINE, ODETS, ROLLO). Put me on Team Rex on this one. I especially like how the UBOAT is under the ATLANTIC OCEAN while the others are on their bodies of water. Nice touch.

@LMS - Seriously? Jim Price, color man on Tiger radio broadcasts, is always going on about the "Art of Pitching." His point is that it isn't good enough to just throw harder than anyone else, you also have to be aware of the artistry involved if you want to be effective. I think of you as always being aware of the Art of Crosswords. I also noted the late troll that snuck past Moderator Rex. I agree with you.

Complicated PPP analysis seems to be the rule for Sunday's. The Bodies of Water all technically fit the definition, but are hardly of the same class as NAS or EVELINE. More to follow.

F.O.G. 9:46 AM  

I liked this a lot more than did Rex. Is crossword burn-out a recognized medical condition?

Regardless, finally got the smiling pencil when I changed the phobia from bAT to CAT -- which shouldn't have been a hang up except I can never remember the correct spelling for the source of the Mississippi.

This is the first time I've seen BALALAIKA in a grid. Somewhere I have a recording of Tales From The Vienna Woods with a beautiful balalaika solo near the end. It's a beautiful sounding instrument.

Hoping you have a wonderful Sunday.

Joseph Welling 9:52 AM  

It was a pleasant Sunday puzzle. The theme was what I liked least about this puzzle. Only one under water. No actual "in" water. (xxxxWATERxxx).

I liked exactly what Rex disliked, the ROLLO and ERNIE, etc.

How did the spam post get in here past the moderator?

Chuck McGregor 10:03 AM  

@LMS: Quite agree with you about yesterdays’ comment from @tb 3:54pm!!! Someone had to say it and you did. Well said! Of all the commentariat, I think Mr. Barany provides the most "professional" critiques, HARDLY bulls**t, whether I agree or not.

The theme answers were mostly gimmes from with either the clue for the “waters” to fill in the type of vessel or a couple of letters for the waters themselves. This made the solve fairly easy. I had to do only a few cheats (letter reveals) and one word: like others, couldn’t get the T, S, or A in ITASCA, an unknown name with the two unknown, natick crosses as well the bAT, CAT, rAT possibilities.

NO class for NO TASTE, and thought I was so clever to get that with no crosses and still like it as a better answer.

Wrote in total guesses for the correct OHIOANS from the “N”, REELECT from the “R,” GRAND CANAL from the “G”, UNESCO from the “E,” CLASSIC with nothing, Those plus some easy gimmes (and the few cheats) eventually got me there, the NYT jingle attesting to NO ERRS when t put in my last letter.

Tough in spots for me, but I found it a lovely puzzle to spend a quiet, early, leisurely, 1:25;10 of a bright, sunny, Sunday morning doing.

PERSUADE yourself not to be VEXed or CROSS and then SNORT. If your WAISTline can stand it, tickle your PALLETS with a PECAN PASTRY, an OATBAR, or a Hershey ROLLO, and CHEER UP!


BillyC 10:04 AM  

Hey, @Rex --

One question. In every pic that you were in this week, you're wearing a hat indoors. Why?

Lewis 10:05 AM  

@rex -- Terrific tourney writeup; thank you for that.

I liked the clever theme (so often lately I've been asking myself why hasn't anyone thought of this before?), learned LEVERET, enjoyed the clues to OBOES, MENU, WAIST, and FOAL, and smiled at the BERRY/FERRY cross. The theme answers filled in quickly, the rest not so easy, but I like not so easy. While the puzzle didn't send me into rapture, as some do, it most certainly floated my boat.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:11 AM  

Oo, Oo! I think I have solved the meta for this puzzle (even though nobody asked for one.)

It would be: RCAAPNIODES. Obvious to everyone, right?

eleveniss 10:14 AM  

Alas, I had a DNF. Gneiss and mite got me but good, as did Atman. But, I can't figure out what 45D Lawyer thing, RES is? Is it so obvious I'm missing it??

(Still trying to figure out last week's TOAT answer for Incredible clue, too.)

Alan_S. 10:25 AM  

After last Sunday's wonderful head-scratcher I expected a subpar slog of a puzzle this week. This was not too bad and HARDLY a slog. My fastest Sunday ever with the exception of the ITASCA/LEVERET crossing. And even if it's just an ok puzzle ya gotta love your fastest time ever!

Bella 10:28 AM  

25 year old here: I have no idea what "YAGO" is, and although I was alive in the 90s, I somehow forgot that "FF" can stand for fast forward (REW) rather than fast fashion (RTW). Oops.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

Heavily cross-referenced puzzles are not for the lazy or the forgetful. If you're forgetful and you don't know the answer to a clue at first, and then you come back to it once you have some crosses to help you, you will have forgotten what the cross-reference is and have to look it up again. If you're like me, you may be checking cross-references as much as 3 times for each clue. And once is more than enough, believe me! Nevertheless, I forgive this puzzle for its many, many cross-references, because I found it lively and...puzzling. Enjoyed working out ESCALATOR (I wanted ESCAPE-something or other); NO TASTE; OBOES; MENU. Even the prior knowledge required seemed worth knowing to me: JANET RENO; RUTH; SIRHAN; ROCKNE (I originally was thinking Thorpe, though I didn't write it in). So in spite of my irritation with the many cross-references, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

jberg 10:51 AM  

On the one hand, I loved the theme -- and loved it even more after I read @LMS and noticed that the boats/ships were all sitting on the water except for the U-BOAT Underneath. Neat touch; next time, we could have, say, the TITANIC going down, crossing NORTH ATLANTIC, as a visual representation of sinking.

As for the fill, UNDAM and RECT. bothered me, not so much the old stuff. Maybe ALAMO could have been clued as the rental company to give it a more contemporary feel?

And while it's true that GNEISS is millions of years old, the word is still in contemporary usage, so I don't get the objections -- is geology inherently too esoteric?

I'll admit that LEVERET is a little obscure, though.

@George Barany, you must have been a refined crowd, or maybe a scrupulously honest one, drinking sangria at lab parties. I was an English major, but whenever I went to a party thrown by a chemist, the drink on hand was always Hawaiian Punch spiked with pure ethanol. I usually regretted it the next morning, though.

I think James Joyce is still contemporary, but sadly I never read all of "Dubliners," and to me they're BOOTeES, so I ended up with that crossing EVELeNE.

Finally, "unimpressive" seems unfair in the clue for 66A. The maid from Madras had a magnificent one, as I learned at the aforementioned drunken parties.

Chaos344 10:54 AM  

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I know! It was very Maleskan and it was exceedingly easy for those over 35. Having said that, I'm not buying into Rex's lament about arcana. Yes, there were some obscure words, but ITASCA has been used in hundreds of puzzles. Maybe not lately, but If you are too new at crosswords to know it, you should be happy to learn it! LEVERET is a Maleskan era word, so you could Natick at the T, but I think that's a small price to pay for learning a new word and the source of the Mississippi. You'll be unlikely to forget either one in the future.

ROLLO and ERNIE are balanced out by NAS and AVENGER. The comic strip NANCY has been around for over seventy years, and ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE is probably one of the top five Christmas movies ever made. NAS is definitely pop culture, and so is IRON MAN. When I saw that clue, the first thing I thought of was a triathlon.

I'll cut Rex some slack on YAGO, if he admits to having the same level of disdain for ZIMA, SOBE and HI-C? We already know he hates non-hyphenated HICS, right? I'll also admit that ATMAN next to GNEISS was nice and nasty! However, and as pointed out by jae, the only Naticky thing there was MITE/MOTE.

Is it just me, or does OFL seem overly curmudgeon-like of late? He seems particularly upset with things he just doesn't know, instead of embracing the experience as an opportunity to expand his knowledge base. To paraphrase AEP, Quote the Chaos, "LIVERMORE!"

Excellent write-up on the ACPT Rex. Go Tigers!

Mary Perry 11:03 AM  

I too was annoyed by the sub-par fill but enjoyed the theme especially the UBOAT submerged beneath the ATLANTIC OCEAN! But what is more notable today is that Rex's account of the ACPT compelled me to announce to my husband that I am planning on competing in a crossword tounament next March. He simply said "I didn't know there was such a thing. Is it somewhere warm?"

I loved the Merle video and the Howard Barkin winning video! I have never thought myself a competition-grade solver, and I still do not, but I think I would like the people and vibe you described at ACPT. I'm not sure I will actually have the nerve to compete in the touneys you mention, but I'm seriously considering doing so, if not in the next year, once I retire.

Hartley70 11:04 AM  

This puzzle had such a really cute theme that I didn't stop to critique the fill. I just had a good time with it. The UBOAT placement was perfection.

The last letter to go in was the G in YAGO and it could have been anything because the brand passed me by. I do remember my first pitcher of sangria, however. It was in the late '60's on Fifth Avenue, sitting outside at the Auto Pub restaurant in what was then the GM building across from the Plaza. I was amazed at the time that one dined in little cars if you ate inside the restaurant, but the day was gorgeous and the sangria was the most delightful drink I'd ever had. I've been a fan ever since, although sadly not at the long gone Auto Pub.

Rex, your write-up and links were wonderful. They give encouragement to those of us who swore never to be in a huge room with 600 people, a monitor, a pile of #2 pencils, an examination booklet, and a ticking clock ever again!

Nancy 11:14 AM  

Thank you, @Z, for making me see what a REALLY well-constructed puzzle this is. I hadn't even noticed that all the water craft were on top of their respective bodies of water and that the UBOAT was below its body of water. (Well, I've told you I'm not at all visual; this certainly proves it.) But what a charming conceit and what construction chops it must have taken to carry it out so beautifully. It looks absolutely effortless, but of course it wasn't. What a nifty puzzle! Kudos to Randolph Ross.

Alysia 11:20 AM  

I've got about 50 days until I hit 35 years.

My eyes are bleeding.

Carola 11:27 AM  

The theme was a real pleasure cruise, but in the depths of the grid I ran into a giant squid that strangled me on the ocean floor. Ran out of air and died at YA?O, R?W, A??ONE, with my last gasp writing in "Act ONE," which is when characters walk onto the stage. My brain had locked into FF as a double forte and just couldn't let go.

On the other hand, some of the "problem" words were easy for me. In my tender years, some teacher or other made rocks so interesting that I've never forgotten GNEISS, schist, metamorphic, diastophism....; I've visited Lake ITASCA, the rather unassuiming source of the Mighty Mississip; and the LEVERET lies down with the eft in animals I've learned from crosswords.

Weingolb 11:33 AM  

Rex's point is clear but I can get lost in his argument. Making GRIDIRONS a non-football entry every now and then seems to be exactly about thinking of your audience and how they are made up of different people.

Blackbird 11:34 AM  

Ageism is not appropriate, Rex. Nothing wrong with a puzzle that has material in it that older folk are familiar with, and like. Why not leveret? Too obscure? It means what it always has meant. When I first learned the word, it had nothing to do with crossword-ese, just plain old vocabulary, a word that means something particular. I doubt very much that the neophyte crossword solvers, those in their teens or 20's, for whom you are so concerned, call young rabbits bunnies. Oooh, look, a bunny? What is a young rabbit? A leveret. We don't call them puppies or kittens, do we? Yet, is puppy and kitten too old-fashioned? Specific meaning matters. And it never hurts to learn a new word. By the way, Nas was easy fill for me. I'm 73 years old, and I know leveret and Nas. Duh. Why shouldn't young people become aware of all aspects of culture? You teach literature, I believe. Shakespeare? John Donne? Jane Austen? Harper Lee? Edna O'Brien? Colm Toibin? Does century count? Do you keep Harold Bloom's "The Western Canon" handy? Do you keep the New York Times Sunday Book Review section handy? Why are you such a snob about anything an older person might recognize?

Tita A 11:35 AM  

Rex - thanks for the great ACPT writeup. And thanks for the blog!

@BobK - "shy and retiring" people don't own shirts like the one you wear to ACPT!!

I thought the puzzle was cute, though I wanted more submersibles, maybe Alvin , or the generic SUB in addition to UBOAT. And yes, the UBOAT shoulda been at the bottom. Woulda been fun to add a periscope sitting atop, or intersecting with, that UBOAT too. Ha ha - I'm a great Monday morning constructor...

Puzzle title was really lame.
Better..."Whatever floats your..."
(Well, UBOATS float too, right... I mean, it's got BOAT right in the name...)

In spite of watching something about Napolean on TV while solving, I immediately threw in PASTRY, and was happy to see Butter-PECAN ice cream making it ala mode.

BTW - if you are ever in the greater Danbury area, you MUST MUST MUST go to "Il Bacio" - the best ice cream you will ever have. Tony is passionate about ice cream, is extrenely selective about sourcing his ingredients, and is always coming up with amazing flavors. His latest is Chocolate-dipped strawberry. He's also the nicest guy in the world, along with wife Gina.
No, I am not related, nor do I own stock.

@eileen sweeney, @Arlene, @Lobster - we'll be looking for you next year!
"...not trying to compete - no - I do not compete - barely even with myself. MOST of us are there for the party.

Thank Mr. Ross.

Wm C. 11:35 AM  

I got Itasca because it's some kind of travel van that I've seen, and there are several such manufacturers up in the northern Minnesota or Wisconsin area. Never heard of the Lake, though, nor what the source of the Mississipi is -- thought it was Lake Superior or some such.

ArtO 11:51 AM  

Just in case nobody responded to @chefBea, A and O are the Oakland Athletics (A's)and Baltimore Orioles (O's), American League teams (Alers).

Raced through this until the SE when IRATE instead of CROSS caused a DNF.

I guess you have to be of a certain age to remember YAGO. A totally forgettable beverage.

Great write-up of the tourney. Time to update your sidebar, Rex. I know that 9th sounds great but isn't the ACPT the standard bearer!?

Kimberly 11:53 AM  

The puzzle was meh but the recap of the tournament was joy-inspiring! Thank you for sharing those fabulous videos.

PS: I was happy to see your opinion of YAGO. I had never heard of the clue or the answer and thought maybe there was some new pop culture thing of which I was embarrassingly ignorant. Fortunately all the crosses were easy/obvious, or I would have been jamming random letters in waiting for the software to give me a ta-da, and that always feels like cheating.

Blue Stater 11:54 AM  

I object to the criticism of Eugene Maleska in Rex's comment. Maleska's puzzles were erudite, deeply satisfying, and intellectually sophisticated. I wish he were still the crossword editor of the NYT. When WS retires, the NYT would do well to find someone like Maleska to succeed him.

chefbea 12:23 PM  

@Eleveniss...think to a tee

still waiting for someone to explain A or O =aler

old timer 12:31 PM  

Yeah, let's retire NLER and its kin. Other than that, I thought this was a brilliant puzzle though very hard. I was so glad to finish that I failed to correct "gneoss" to GNEISS, which I knew, and failed to write in REW, though I had mentally filled in AGEONE. My younger grandson will be AGE ONE in two months and he is already trying to walk, though he falls down every time he lets go of his cruising spot with both hands.

YAGO? Surely no one over the age of 35 ever drinks the stuff.

Writeovers: "WERE home" before WERE HERE, "spark" before APART, and most embarrassingly, "tante" before ONCLE. Even though he is a proud possessor of a table, while his wife possesses a mere pen, the old ONCLE seldom gets the respect he deserves.

Z 12:32 PM  

@Blackbird - I am 55 years old and cannot ever recall seeing LEVERET in print. I've never uttered it. A baby hare has always been a "bunny" in my world. Which supports Rex's point about the exclusionary nature of some fill. There is nothing specifically wrong with LEVERET by itself, the puzzle is often filled with answers I don't know or use. The issue is one of balance and accessibility. This puzzle isn't quite as bad as Rex opines (Matt BAI, The AVENGERs, NAS, RUTH Bader Gingsberg, AVATAR), but it is easy to forget that the Branch Davidian siege, for instance, was 23 years ago or that OLEG Cassini has been dead for over a decade, giving this puzzle a "center" that is far more inviting to you and me than my sons.

PPP Analysis
Pop culture, Product names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of answers. When said percentage exceeds 33% the puzzle will play unfairly for some subset of solvers

First, a little history. While I've doing the counting I would like to acknowledge that it was the plaints of @OISK that suggested these specific areas of trivia influenced a puzzle's solvablity. There are other types of arcana that I don't consider as I compile these numbers.

33/138, 24% if the theme is not counted, 39/138, 28% if they are.

This suggests that it will not be PPP that cause people troubles which certainly fits with my experience. ATMAN, GNEISS,and AGE ONE/YAGO were my hold ups and only one of those answers fits the PPP definition.

@Chaos344 - I've been reading Rex daily for several years now and sporadically before that. Seems the same to me. Speaking of the damn Yankees, April Sunday night game in Detroit because ESPN likes the ratings the Yankees bring - Actual fans be damned. Predicted game time temperature of 40°. Too bad cold temps don't effect steroid using cheaters more.

GILL I. 1:15 PM  

I rather enjoyed this in an over 35 year old way. So many Maleska memories...sitting in Central Park with the fat NYT's and laboring my way through the puzzle and then reading about the newest musical on Broadway.
Every strange word that I never use, I learned from a puzzle....STONINESS GNEISS ROCKNE RECT SERIO IGA to name a few. @Teedmn...I too had MINY as in the eenie choice. @jberg...A wonderful Titanic crossword has already been done...!
@Rex. Don't take this personally but I REALLY enjoy reading you. whether it be negative, in the middle, or positive, you write the way people in my world actually speak. No fancy shmancy words...just the simple facts, ma'am. Your ACPT write-up was just wonderful....!
I have never, ever, heard of YAGO (at least I don't think so)...It sounds perfectly dreadful. I've had my fair share of the stuff and I can assure you that all you need are 2 bottles of "two buck chuck," Christian Brothers brandy, some sugar, a 7up or two and toss in an orange and a lemon. Cheapest, delicious drunk you'll ever have.

chefbea 1:15 PM  

@arto thanks for 'splaining it to me

Chaos344 1:22 PM  

I'm finding it quite amusing that everyone is so tickled at the U-BOAT under the Atlantic. Friday, I divulged the fact that my beloved yellow lab was named Chaos. Today I will explain the 344, and its significance to my screen name. If you type SS344 into your search engine, you will come up with photos and information pertaining to the USS Cobbler. It was my home for the better part of four years. I spent lots of time under the Atlantic ocean. Also, the Mediterranean, Baltic and Caribbean Seas. Technically speaking, submarines are indeed boats, but those of us who served aboard them were indoctrinated with only one perspective: There Are Only Two Types Of Ships In The Navy, Submarines And Targets! :>)

@Mr. Mondegreen: Great Comment!

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green".

My favorite is the Jimi Hendrix lyric, "Scuse me while I kiss this guy."

@jberg: And speaking of 66A and the Lady from Madras, do you remember this one:

There Once Was A Lady Quite Handsome,
Whose Arse Got Stuck In A Transom.
When She Offered Much Gold
For Release She Was Told,
That The View Was Worth More Than The Ransom!

@Blackbird: Well said!

Finally, apologies for the typo on my first post. AEP should obviously have been EAP. I suPOsE most PeOplE figured that out?

Mattie 1:32 PM  

This was not an enjoyable solve for me and I'm well past 35.

Hugh 1:36 PM  

For the first time in the few years I've been here with all of you, I enjoyed a puzzle even less than Rex did.

I groaned at all the fill he pointed out but unlike Rex, I was not overly impressed with the theme. Cute is the most flattering accolade I can offer. Far too straight forward and simple for a Sunday.

(Just) cute that the vessels were actually ON the bodies of water (or under, like UBOAT) in the grid, but again, they were so easy to suss out that I couldn't get very excited. Not one "AHA" in the whole bunch.

As always, just because it was not my cup of tea, does not make it a bad puzzle, I just had very little fun. There were, However, a couple of mild "likes":

13A. PASTRY: Napoleon for one, was a nice little misdirect.

19A. LATRINE: Head of the army? was (again) cute.

58A. ROOSTS: Bars frequented at night

Also had similar write-overs as others did.

Yes - @Rex - loved the write- up on the ACPT, thanks!

Have a great week all!

Mohair Sam 1:47 PM  

"Tonya! Can you play the BALALAIKA?" - from the end of Dr. Zhivago, remember? A leitmotif for the film, and a great word in any crossword puzzle.

Liked the theme so much that just like @LMS I missed all the little sins in the puzzle. And just like @LMS I won't let them bother me. Seems like YAGO bugged @Rex most of all, and as is so often the case, YAGO's gravest flaw is being new to Rex rather than new to the solving world.

Constructor should have had "Punt" over "TheCam" to really piss Rex off.

On the other hand, I totally loved OFL's words and pix from the ACPT. If they allowed team solving we'd attend one these things - looks like an awful lot of fun with flat out likable people.

Easy/medium and clever Sunday puzz - thanks Randolf Ross.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

@Rex tells it like it is. Solid concept. Awful fill.

Martín Abresch 2:41 PM  

I'm 38, and this puzzle soundly defeated me.

Loved the theme, but the fill wore me down. I ended up being stumped in several spots and ... I just didn't care.

It's odd how context affects things. I can imagine an obscure term like LEVERET being used in a different puzzle and being a fun entry. A nice offspeed pitch, so to speak. ("I did not know that a young rabbit is a called a leveret. Cool.") In this puzzle, my reaction to the word was I just didn't care.

P.S. NAS's "If I Ruled the World" was released on June 4, 1996, barely under 20 years ago. Great song, but this entry is not fresh.

Roo Monster 2:47 PM  

Hey All !
Nifty theme. Quite difficult to have the symmetry when all but one answer is reversed. So, nice job Randolph.

Amazingly enough, only had one writeover, almost-HARDLY. In NW, wanted ilE at first for UNE, then thinking 1A ended in "it". But once I sussed enough up there (loved the LATRINE clue [ex-Army guy here]), saw it to be UP. What I was stuck on were the cleverly clued ALAMO and PASTRY. Wanted nuTBAR forever, then when I got the A of JUDAEA, took forever to grock the O. Crazy. Also, potential Natick spots gathered together, SINO, INFOR (as clued), LEVERET, ITASCA, NAS, CAT (as clued), STPATS (as clued). I managed to get all that correct, but then wrote in ioTa for MITE, knowing full well it was wrong. But MITE would never have entered the ole brain. Oh, and I cry Foul on BOOTIES. Had BOOTeES, because that's how it's spelled. Don't try to convince me of the I. There's no I in BOOTEES. :-)

Cool ACPT write-up. Happy for Howard. Wasn't he the one last year that lost by a fraction of a second? No disrespect to Dan, but it's nice to see different winners.

Will now SNORT away.

UNDAM (Save a soul?)

Chaos344 2:52 PM  

@chefbea: Seems we have gone from feast to famine. Either we have fifteen people posting explanations to clue/answer queries, or everyone assumes that someone ahead of them has already responded. No one likes to be the eighth person who explains TOAT. I'm afraid it's just the nature of the format and associated time lag. Although most people hate the expression, It Is What It Is!

@Blue Stater and Gill I: Kudos for showing the proper respect to the late great Eugene T Maleska. I can't understand why anyone would wax contumelious toward anyone or anything that improved their personal vocabulary or sphere of knowledge. It's not important how expansive your vocabulary is, vis-a-vis everyday usage. It's more important to tailor your vocabulary to the people you converse with. That is one of the main reasons why I frequent this blog. I love the fact that I can exercise the full range of my vocabulary, and converse with people who will understand what I'm saying. All without fear of appearing pretentious or or condescending. If I talked like this at the firehouse, my contemporaries would look at me like I was on drugs! Firehouse patois is usually limited to baser discourse! Lol.

@Z: Yes, I heard the temps for game time might even be at the freezing point? As for "You Know Who" and the PED factor, it's anyone's guess? Just hope JV can feel his finger tips? Otherwise, it will be a long night!

Masked and Anonymous 3:08 PM  

@009-- Primo ACPT writeup! Worth the wait. Really GNEISS. Thanx, dude. Made M&A wanna attend the ACPT and follow U around.

Cool SunPuz theme -- floated my boat, big time.
fave themer craft: U-BOAT. Lil darlin.

Puttin themers smackdab on top of each other (12 themer litter!) has gotta produce some solid blips of fill desperation.
But, puttin GONDOLA on top of GRANDCANAL and OILTANKER on top of ARABIANSEA, in totally wide-open puz sections?* Holy moly. [Or, as the Rexmeister phrases it: Holy GNEISS, ATMAN(!) har] Masterful job of constructioneerin, to pull all of that off. Randolph really went for it.

Can't objectively critique the modernosity of the puz, as M&A is of a certain "mature (&) audience" age. I would hasten to point out that most of human history and words ain't year 2000 vintage and up, percentage-wise, tho. And some history classes do get well-attended by youngish students, I'd reckon; albeit, kickin and screamin becuz it's a required course, mayhaps? Learnin is a bitch.

Still ain't learnt my essential crossword-rapper entourage well, I do admit. Still can't spell Kenya West worth a snot, for instance. Always enjoy his performances, especially when he lays down and plays dead, and some other talented rapper takes over the singin. But, I digress. Did know NAS, so … ok, today.
Kanya? Konyo? Kanye? [Kanyu? I sure kan't.]

* "Winner" of the two: OILTANKER on top of ARABIANSEA. Only easily-detectable associated desperations: RECT TBAR.
GONDOLA on top of GRANDCANAL produced a near h.m.s. bounty of desperate joyance, with: GNEISS ATMAN ONCLE UNDAM STONINESS. Sweet.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Slight themer omission?

Didn't think so.

Rina 3:51 PM  

Usually I feel like a genius when I get long answers without any crosses. But balalaikas, we're here, and enraptures were such gimmes that I feel like an idiot instead, bothering to finish this puz. I mean c'mon, even the theme was awash in "meh"diterranean jetsam.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Rex, enough with the screed! The puzzle is supposed to stretch one, not fit into his cultural box.

Shamik 4:11 PM  

Thanks so much for the videos from the ACPT. Another year where life conspired to keep me from going. So, great to see these videos!!! Thank you for your blog and while I don't have much time to read it, always do compare my degree of difficulty with yours....even if our times are nowhere near each other.

chefbea 4:30 PM  

@Shamik welcome back!!!

aging soprano 4:37 PM  

You forgot good old NAPOLEON.

Nancy 5:00 PM  

So, at 11:04 am, we have @Hartley 70 waxing nostalgic about dining many years ago at the Auto Pub restaurant in the GM Building on 5th Avenue; and at 1:15 pm, we have @GILL waxing nostalgic about doing the Times puzzle in Central Park, also many years ago; and what I want to know is this: When are you guys going to finally make the pilgrimage to NYC you've been talking about for like forever, and hang out with me, as promised? Ideal NYC is finally on its way, but it won't last all that long. You gotta move fast.

Anonymous 5:13 PM  

Gneiss and atman are words I am glad to have learned and that a person of any age might well know.

Z 5:35 PM  

@Blackbird - I was in a rush, so I didn't have a chance to write a fuller response. Here it goes.

I like to distinguish prejudice from bigotry from "-isms." Prejudice is something we all do and isn't inherently bad. We all form judgements about people from appearances, it's a natural cognitive response. We probably shouldn't, but it is efficient and good enough for most interactions. Bigotry is when those prejudices are seen as essential parts of people and form how we respond to them and treat them. It's far worse than prejudice, but still doesn't rise to the level of an "-ism." To be an "-ism" there has to be some systemic advantage involved. Rex's critique is that the NYTX is ageist, that there is a systemic advantage for older solvers. I find it hard to disagree. This is also why your first sentence got a grin from me. Rex is calling the NYTX ageist and you're calling him ageist for doing so. What fun. There is an occassional puzzle that is slanted towards the under 40 group of solvers, but for the most part being over 40 is a great advantage. The other thing with"-isms" is that they can be passive. I don't have to do anything to benefit from being an older white male. I will find the puzzle far more accessible than a young African-American woman no matter how smart and good with language she might be. Look at all the pics from the ACPT again and see what you notice. I certainly don't think it is intentional on Shortz's part or done with ill intent, but it does seem like there is a little "aprés moi, le deluge" mindset here. To reiterate, I don't think Rex is saying anything personal about solvers like you and me, he is suggesting that the puzzle could be and should be accessible to a wider range of solvers.

/end pedantic essay on crossword culture studies.

@chaos344 - postponed. Which makes me happy because I generally can't stand the ESPN play-by-play crews.

aging soprano 5:36 PM  

I usually don't have time to even try to tackle the Sunday puzzle; it is so long and Sunday is a workday here. But I noticed "easy" at the outset of the blog and so I decided to HAVEAGO. Caught the theme and all the craft and waterways, and did pretty well on the fill. Not half bad for a generally early in the week solver. Did not know LEVERET or YAGO, among others. Also really enjoyed reading about the ACPT.
Was a bit disappointed, Rex, that you didn't approach Patrick Berry to tell him how much you admire his work. "Famous" people enjoy being complimented as much as anyone else. I had kind of a reverse experience once, a long time ago. I was attending a concert, and at the intermission a woman approached me and asked if I was the singer she had heard recently in The Opera and to say how much she had enjoyed it. But then came the unexpected part: she asked how I managed to juggle having a family and a career. (I was 7 months pregnant at the time, which suited the out of wedlock role I was playing) I don't recall what I answered, but I did ask her who she was since she hadn't introduced herself. I almost miscarried on the spot when she told me. She WAS a famous singer, and I was flabbergasted. I felt like someone had just walked off one of my record jackets, paid me a complement, and asked me for advice. Unfortunately the bells were ringing to end the intermission, and I couldn't find her after the concert ended. I would have liked to have continued that conversation. A few years later I read that she had died suddenly from an asthma attack.
Rex, if you have something nice to say to someone, you should always go up and introduce yourself and give him the pleasure of hearing it. And you never know,he might just repay the compliment.

Norm 5:37 PM  

Simple puzzle and a boring one.

Dick Swart 5:44 PM  

A great write-up, Rex!

First and foremost: the report of the tournament. As exciting and moving as a great sports event should be.

And second: the analysis of the puzzle. Yes, an interesting and fresh theme. Spoiled by too many xwordese fills. I used to ride the commuter LIRR in the 60s, crossword folded on my lap. I had a flashback and expected to see Celebes Ox appear down the aisle punching tickets wearing a 3 button seersucker jacket.


Mike Rees 6:35 PM  

Does anyone know if that final puzzle is available for download somewhere? I'd love to see how my time stacks up ...

Teedmn 7:09 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, got your theme entry, very nice addition!

Anonymous 7:12 PM  

'Res' is Latin for 'thing'. A legal term is 'Res ipse loquitor ' the thing speaks for itself used as an evidentiary term in litigation.

Meg Greer 8:26 PM  

I love this theme and thought it was very easy. In fact my first thematic solve was UBOAT. The only one I had a little trouble with was RAFT because I had the Janet Reno T, but It took me a while to get off boat after UBOAT. My main compliment is with regard to the fill, however. Frankly, I enjoy 7, 8 and 9 letter fill like ABSENCE, STONINESS, and ESCALATOR much better than WE'REHERE or CHEERUP. Give me vocabulary, not HAVEAGO, any time.

Nancy 9:24 PM  

Re: 5 pm post -- I meant to say "ideal NY weather".

Bronxdoc 10:11 PM  

American Leaguer, I think. Oakland As / Baltimore Orioles.

kitshef 10:40 PM  

Dunno why it gets such a negative review. Felt like a bog-standard Sunday to me. Not much to love (though GNEISS and LEVERET both made me smile); not much to hate (ALER, IGA, ERNIE). Theme was fine but nothing special. Difficulty was normal for a Sunday. Just a puzzle to be gotten through and maybe pick up something that will be useful for a future puzzle (like who wrote Waiting for Lefty).

Leapfinger 7:53 AM  

I don't know, I always CHEER UP when a puzzle UNDAMs a slew of qUoNDAM words on us, and the leverets and ailurophobes can come crawling out of the musty niches they've been mouldering in. And it suits me TO A GNEISS-T when there's ALAMO'ed PASTRY for my just des[s]erts. I'll readily admit that I only knew that lake was something like (but 'not quite'/HARDLY) IThaca; that I stared blankly at JANE TRENO; and never saw YAGO, nor its clue, nor Bess daMona. Yes, there was a sufficiency of short scrip, but well-enough clued to entertain and in service of a theme I totally enjoyed, so far from a CAT ASS trophy for me. I'd forgive much worse for a BALALAIKA.

Very much liked the theme concept, in that you could triangulate the craft, the likely body of water and the clue information. Granted that made it easier, but also more interesting and um, admirably crafted. Went off-course in thinking the OIL_TANKER would be going through the SUEZ_CANALL, but admired no_end having the UBOAT submerged. @jberg, I also thought it would be nice symmetry to have another under/water, but I remember from puzzles past that some solvers get very touchy about how the Titanic is used/clued. I spose BATHYSPHERE/MARIANNA_TRENCH would never float, not the way MrRoss' Dead Sea suggestion would. It was also circumspect to avoid WHITEWATER, considering REELECTions.

[At this point, the patient fell asleep for several hours.]

Appreciated being CROSS over the CHEEP HOTEL, and the respectful nod to ST. PAT'S BERRY.

Nice ride, RR.

Leapfinger 9:37 AM  

@kitshef, anyone who has a history of consorting with radicals in their college days will remember who wrote "Waiting For Lefty".

@Z, interesting rant about 'isms', but your point about looking at the ACPT pix confirming ageism overlooks a couple of confounders: (a) propinquity, and (b) resources. Olderpeople will be more likely to have the wherewithal -- time and otherwise -- to take a weekend off to indulge their interests than young folk who are busy racing all kinds of rats.

@aging soprano: Amen, Sister!! Strew ye all rosebuds while ye may.

@Rina, I don't agree with your conclusion, but thoroughly appreciated your 'meh'diterranean.

@Bob Kerfuffle, didn't get your theme addition, but would like to. Pls mansplain.

Z 10:39 AM  

@Leapfinger - Isnt having the resources to go a xword tourney (heck, to even buy the NYT or a crossword subscription) a "systemic advantage?"

Bob Kerfuffle 12:09 PM  

In response to overwhelming demand (thanks, @Leapfinger, and I'll bet you got it right, @Teedmn): My meta answer was a craft not quite on top of the water yet not quite fully submerged, a CANOE in the RAPIDS, RCAAPNIODES. But M&A may have had it better with his CANOE on top of a STATIONWAGON!

@Mohair Sam - I believe Lollapuzzoola allows couples entries. This year's LP will be August 13, a Saturday in August. It's only a one-day affair, but you might enjoy it. Just ask Nancy!

Joseph Welling 12:31 PM  

Anonymous said: "A legal term is 'Res ipse loquitor '"

A pet peeve of mine. It's "res ipse loquitur." It's 3rd person, singular, present indicative of the deponent verb loquor.

joannalan 9:50 PM  

Quite the most obnoxious comment I've ever seen on this blog.

Diana,LIW 9:44 PM  

PS Rondo - have your checked your home email?

Lady Di

Burma Shave 10:48 AM  


that’s NOWAY to HAVEAGO at a ROLLOr,
your ABSENCE MITE be the ETERNAL last laugh.


rondo 11:38 AM  

I knew OFL would not like the agedness of the clues/answers I, too, thought of Maleska. Dude, CHEERUP. This was a walk in the park for A LOT of us. WEREHERE and we’re not going away. But I agree about killing ALER and such. Is there going to be any appreciable time elapsed before we see ASS again?

Within the last five years, ORSO, I have been on a FERRY in NEWYORKHARBOR, a GONDOLA on a GRANDCANAL - albeit in Vegas, captained a vessel in the ATLANTICOCEAN, crossed CHESAPEAKEBAY (in a car) and did the COLORADORIVER whitewater in a kayak/RAFT hybrid (my work computer wallpaper is proof). So I guess I missed the ARABIANSEA, but does the rest really sound like what a geezer does?

HARDLY a yeah baby in sight, ELAINE as played by the clue, I s’pose. BERRY could have been clued Halle.

@D,LIW - yup, you can check yours now, too. Thanks.

No rebus or other silliness, so these words do not make me very CROSS.

spacecraft 12:10 PM  

I was struck not by "staleness" but by how hard the constructor (or editor?) tried to trip us up with bendy clues. It started in the NW with "Army head?" for LATRINE and "Sell" for PERSUADE. I began to expect the curves, and came closest to failure when the clue was straightforward, like "Hide away" for STASH. But of all the clues, I single one out: "Makeshift beds" for PALLETS. Did you ever see a pallet? Also called a skid, it's a frame made of the cheapest wood possible, usually very splintery and warped. I'm picturing some homeless guy looking for a place to sleep, and he picks this bumpy, splintery thing over the ground? NOWAY. Absurd clue.

So is "Not quite" for HARDLY. HARDLY means "not by a long shot." NEARLY, which is what I had, means "not quite." Downs made me change that, as well as NEWpORt to NEWYORK. That BAI dude is a total WOE, and I couldn't figure out the scroll holder. ART? ORT? Then at last ARK hit me. Of course.

Theme was good and entertaining. I don't quite get OFL's STONINESS re dated material. CHEERUP, Fearless One! But you will never see me at a timed competition. I just. don't. do. timed. contests. I love Scrabble, but I won't play with a timer. I am way too laid back for that stuff. Not to say that I'd sit there forever; if I can't come up with something after a couple NOT-TIMED minutes, I'll either pass or make a mini-play. But I will NOT watch the sand running out.

Oh yeah: UNDAM?? Not a word. But by that time I was ready to accept anything. For the Damsel of the Day we'll have to go with ELAINE, as played by Julia. Not that I'm ENRAPTURED, but if she offered, I'd say YESLETS. B.

Diana,LIW 3:17 PM  

second day in a row that the paper was several hours late. Today there was a good excuse - the printing press broke last night! So I'll be posting later...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the paper

rain forest 3:33 PM  

This is the kind of Sunday puzzle I like. Sparkly theme, a good mix of the misdirect and the obvious in cluing, nice longer answers, and not a lot of cringe-causing entries. Most of all, it was finished relatively quickly.

I knew LEVERET, GNEISS, ITASCA (I, a Canadian, eh), and roamed at will throughout the grid. I never think about whether or not the cultural nature of a puzzle is current, recent, or dated. Doesn't bother me, and I've become used to rappers and The Simpsons.

I didn't start doing the NYT xword until the Maleska era was over. It's always been Shortz as far I'm concerned. Maybe I should look up some of the older Maleska xwords just to see what everyone either misses dearly, or disses clearly. Oooh!

I wonder if OFL will now say he is the 58th greatest crossword solver in the universe. If not, that might say something about him.

Now, since I don't do this often enough, let me thank my Syndi colleagues for their sterling contributions to this here blog.
@Spacey - I think it is impossible for you to write a boring comment. Always entertaining, even if I don't always agree with you on your grades.

@Rondo - Man, you have done/do just about everything, and have been everywhere. What a varied and interesting life you have, plus I appreciate your positive vibe in your comments

@Burma Shave - and the poetry continues. I'm ever amazed at your ability to use so many of the daily crossword terms as you invariably head into bed with someone.

@Ladi Di - always waiting, waiting for Rondo.

@Leftcoast TAM - whether late or early, you appearance here is appreciated.

Must go for my daily shambles. Love that expression.

leftcoastTAM 3:46 PM  

I haven't done a lot of Sundays, but this is the easiest I've yet to see. Most of the more obscure stuff was quickly revealed by the crosses.

One wasn't: I Naticked at the BAI/SIRHAN cross, entering a "U" instead an "I". I think I've heard of BAI and I know I've heard of and read plenty about SIRHAN SIRHAN, but I had to settle for a spelling lesson.

Otherwise, it was just a matter of filling a rather prosaic puzzle.

AnonymousPVX 4:47 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. What I don't understand is the criticism of the so called arcane clueing/answer of it. When I first started doing puzzles in 1986 I realized I had to start remembering things that were alien to my everyday life. So now we have to make it easier? What's the point?
There are people who enjoy crosswords and those who do not. Not many in the middle and not a lot going back and forth, IMHO. So keep trying to make us remember or memorize or whatever. I'm 63 this week and that's one of the main attraction for me and I would suspect others.

Diana,LIW 6:16 PM  

Got the same triple Natick as Berselius:

"I got the rare triple-natick on this one thanks to ITASCA/ LEVERET, CAT, ROOSTS. Though I probably would have got ROOSTS eventually I thought the other would be rAT or bAT somehow."

Other than that it was a clean, smooth solve, so I'm back to playing Horse Shoes - almoooooost

Liked the boat theme. Usually don't care for clues relating to other clues, but in this puzzle it actually helped the solve.

Very much enjoyed Rex's write up of the tournament. I'm still debating whether to solve or just watch in St. Paul. Timing usually slows me down, so I could be number 198, if 198 play. I could cheer on Teedmn, at least.

Now - on to do whatever I would have done this morning if I had a paper. Oh yeah, I could read the comics. (Or the latest politico stuff - same thing.)

Diana, Waited. Played. Almost won.

leftcoastTAM 6:46 PM  

@rain forest: Thanks for acknowledging the steadfastness of us syndies. Glad you are one of us.

Just a side note: In doing these puzzles, I have often wondered if there is some positive balance between cluttering the brain/memory with trivia, on the one hand, and usefully exercising it, on the other.

I'm inclined to think that doing crosswords is mostly, if not exclusively, a means of testing it

shamroc7 8:23 PM  

I am not great at these Sunday puzzles but I keep trying. This one was easier for me and I got the theme right away. I also loved Latrine but can anyone tell me what a ALER is? The most I found are some comments here that it should banished. The clue is A or O, e.g.

rondo 9:07 PM  

@shamroc7 - baseball - the Oakland Athletics are nicknamed the A's; Baltimore Orioles are often called the O's, both teams play in the American League, on sportscasts often called the A.L. Hence, O's and A's are ALERs (American Leaguers) which needs to be banned immediately, if not Sooner, which is the U of Oklahoma's mascot. Please ask again about any sports reference, glad to help.

Thank you @rainy for the kind words. I do my best to get around; probably why I'm semi-broke (it's all relative)and still employed. Wouldn't have it any other way. Too late anywho.

leftcoastTAM 11:08 PM  

@shamoc7: If your haven't heard yet from others, A=Athletics and O=Orioles, and ALER=American League player.

rain forest 11:30 PM  

@shamroc 7 - way late, and you may not see this, but 'A' is an Athletic, 'O' is an Oriole, both short for their teams, and both are in the American League in baseball, hence, ALers. There you go, and welcome.

kathy of the tower 1:27 AM  

I've been a Minnesotan for over 50 years, and several years ago I finally went to Lake Itasca. It was a gorgeous day, I walked right over the beginning of the Mississippi River.

My father started me on crossword puzzles in the Maleska era years ago. My father called his official crossword pencil case his etui,
and as kids we didn't dare touch it.

I appreciate knowing all those arcane words, and you do occasionally run across them in the wild.

Puzzled 11:40 PM  

A and O = Athletics and Orioles? Undeduceable in my world. Blood types, sure. But ALER? Feh!

Jackiet 9:04 AM  

I am eighty-one, I knew YAGO immediately, we used to drink and then save the bottles for candle holders.

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