Jazz composer with Egyptian-inspired name / TUE 7-12-16 / Lenovo alternative / Language of Copenhagen to locals / MTV documentary series about everyday people / Overly ambitious student in slang / Winter hazard on autobahn /

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BROKEN BONES (55A: Injuries illustrated four times in this puzzle) — circled squares (or, probably, shaded squares in the dead-tree version) spell out a bone in way that is "broken" across two answers that are on different but adjacent levels. Presumably the first long Across (17A: Take a tumble) is also a theme answer (SLIP AND FALL):

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: GUNNER (44D: Overly ambitious student, in slang) —
Gunner (student), a slang term in medical or law school for a hyper-competitive student (wikipedia)
• • •

This didn't work, on at least a couple of levels. It's a cute if predictable kind of idea (constructors are always looking to break and/or anagram things—typical gimmick basis). But there is one problem with the theme generally, and and one big (massive, puzzle-killing) problem with a specific theme-related answers. Let's start with the general. The "break" here doesn't register that well. You could argue that keeping the bone letters contiguous better represents most bone breaks, which aren't clean. But I'm not sure the current set-up represents a bone break any better. The step down says, well, "step" to me, not "break." And the way the "step"-for-break concept is executed here is particularly problematic, as the break-like adjacency of NA and TI creates a muddled visual effect in the middle of the grid ("Ow! My NATI!"). There's just a slightly off, slightly sloppy feel to the execution of the theme.

But there is a much bigger problem with one specific theme-related answer—a problem that is both manifestly lethal and seemingly avoidable. That problem, of course, is the answer HASAC (31A: Is ready for the summer weather, for short). HASAC is not an answer. It's not a phrase, any more than DRINKSOJ or SKIPSPE. It is a random snippet of conversation masquerading as a stand-alone phrase. It's ... ridiculous. Why (o lord, why) not design this with a word ending in "-SA" (So Many More Options) and then another word beginning with CRUM- (like, say CRUMB (or CRUMBLE or CRUMPET or something ... with CRUMB you wouldn't even have to change your grid shape. BALSA / CRUMB. SAMSA / CRUMB. TULSA / CRUMB. Take your pick! But HASAC... I'm dumbfounded by that one. It's like someone was typing HAS A COW but died before finishing.

This one wasn't too difficult, though I got weirdly stymied at ETAS (29D: Itinerary data, for short). Pluralizing E.T.A. is just yuck. When does anyone do that? So after getting the "T" from STU (35A: Disco ___ ("The Simpsons" character)), I wrote in STOP. Seemed possible. But no. Even after getting to ETA-, I didn't get it. The "S" was the very last letter I filled in, after I finally get the "D" I needed to see DANSK (41A: Language of Copenhagen, to locals). I also had SAMBA for RUMBA at first (37A: Cousin of the mambo), but that was both very predictable and very fixable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


David Krost 12:15 AM  

I honestly think you are losing your mind. On an x-ray that is exactly how many displaced fractures appear, like if you were walking along one side of the bone you would have to step up (or down) to access the other piece of that broken bone. Definition: "A displaced fracture is a break in a bone in which the two pieces of bone become incorrectly aligned." WTF do you want from these guys??

I just disagree with you about "has AC". It is simply...reasonable. It really seems you look for any excuse to find fault in your NYT vendetta.

Larry Gilstrap 12:49 AM  

I am living in the desert and HAS AC is not only a phrase, it's a given and AC often appears in common everyday conversation. We are experiencing beautiful, seasonal weather. The high today was about 107, but inside it hovered around 80. ALRIE, is a bone? In the 70's when I was young and free, we attended Opening Day at Del Mar and I mindlessly selected a $2 Daily Double combo and miraculously won $377. I was a young teacher and my take home was under $700 a month ten times a year. It made my summer and San Diego was my oyster. I know theater, and I badly wanted APPEARSas for 11 D. Spiro Agnew assailed the press as, "the nattering nabobs of negativity." Sounds like a business plan for a cable network.

jae 12:58 AM  

Medium-tough for me. Slow getting started in the NW (LABATT was buried deeply in my Midwest college experience brain history), plus I needed to stare at BIAS to get it to make sense with the clue, and @Rex saMBA before RUMBA.

Liked it better than Rex did, but HAS AC was cringe inducing.

Dean 1:24 AM  

Please, please, please, Will Shortz. Tell your constructors that a "winter hazard on the Autobahn" is Glatteis, not EIS. Unless, of course, a situation has arisen since I left Germany in which ice cream poses a road hazard.

LABATT, crossed with ALLIE and an ineptly clued TONEUP (to build muscle is to bulk up) combined to be a Natick for me.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

This was easier than Monday's puzzle and it was rated medium while Monday's was rated easy medium. Huh?

Dr. Bunger 2:11 AM  

@ Larry G. You, of all people, should know that on whale boats we kept our decks free of clutter, so no trIPping. But, after we had been trying out a a big male, the decks were unctuous with GORE and a SLIP AND FALL was a careless mishap. Caution Shipmate! In my medical career I never heard of LAtER surgery, although I never heard of LASER surgery either.

Aketi 2:18 AM  

I liked the combo of NATTERED and BLABBER.

I noticed how the SLIP AND FALL was on CEMENT.

@Rex, I should not have read your comment about steps versus breaks which caused me to google BROKEN BONES looking for the type of step like displacement I envisioned. I had no idea that there were so many classifications for how BONES can break with many possibilities for how one might depict those variations in a crossword puzzle. I was sorry I did it because it was all rather nauseating, particularly the photos of how the SAC RUM can break.

chefwen 3:18 AM  

I made this a lot more difficult than need be. Started off knowing 1A had to be LABLATTs and couldn't figure out how to squeeze it in six squares. Left it blank and went on to 7A with entS which I also knew was right. BZZZT! Proceeded to 37A with saMBA, off the A in saMBA, put in daLeS. APPEARS oN instead of IN, and so it went... After much liquid paper was sacrificed I finally won. PHEW!

After 44 years I finally replaced my DANSK set of dishes, that stuff is indeed, DURABLE.

Charles Flaster 3:57 AM  

Thought Rex was a little too critical.
One total guess was SUN RA crossing MRE which I have seen before but could not recollect.
GUNNER on a battleship or basketball court is familiar but never in the classroom.
One write over was SLIP AND FALL for trIP AND FALL.
CrosswordEASE--OXO and EERO.
Creative cluing for TRAFFIC and I PAD.
Thanks S. A. D.

George Barany 4:19 AM  

Thought-provoking and sly review by @Rex of @Sam Donaldson's puzzle. But first a confession: I rarely drink beer, not even American, let alone Canadian; I am unfamiliar with the cast of characters in "The Notebook;" and I thought trIP_AND_FALL was just as plausible as SLIP... so I never quite managed to unravel the northwest corner that opened up the puzzle even though I was able to remember enough high school anatomy to make sense of all the rest.

A.C. Newman is new to me, but yeah, I recognized that Ford Bronco driven by O.J.'s buddy, A.C. Cowlings, back in the news with the awesome ESPN documentary. Nice touch, @Rex! Could have made more of the NA_TI(ck) near the center of the puzzle.

Back in the day, I drafted a BROKEN_HEART themed grid, but was unable to scare up any collaborator to refine and clue it, because of the discouraging nature of the reveal. But if you really want to get depressed, look at the headlines from Dallas, right down to the part about the "lone gunman." So I have to ask: is it Too Soon?

Loren Muse Smith 5:45 AM  

Me, too, for "samba" first. Easily fixed, though.

I liked the pair SLIP AND FALL with BROKEN BONES. Unlike Rex, I appreciated the visual of the uneven breaks. I mean, I imagine the ends of a compound fracture ends must look like that on the xray, right? The times the radiologist has shown me anything on that big sheet thing in front of that light thing, I always just nod and say, yeah, I see what he's talking about even though I can't make out *anything* at all. But I've never been shown a compound fracture. Or even a simple fracture.

I also really liked SLIP AND FALL right over EIS. Hah! We've all been there, done that. Funny how thorough and spectacular a fall on ice can be.

For a Tuesday, the non-china 41A DANSK clue could be tough.

GUNNER was a new one for me, but I didn't need to know it. I lived it.

I imagine lots of people won't remember RYAN'S Hope. Man, I one summer I would get home from swim practice, make myself an enormous cone of Fudge Royale ice milk, and settle in to watch Siobhan, Jillian, Delia… good times. Then I would enjoy me some SUN RA. Right.

Starting a long drive this morning to Maine, where the internet is fickle. One thing I cannot say about the cottage is that it HAS AC, but it doesn't need it! Helloooo cooler weather.


r.alphbunker 6:20 AM  

And then there are line breaks which given the textual nature of a crossword puzzle is a natural way to express a break.

HASAC seems crossworthy to me. E.G., we don't have AC. We use geothermal earth tubes instead. The house in Northern England that I am staying in doesn't have AC because apparently it never gets hot enough to need it.

smalltowndoc 6:45 AM  

I thought the layout of the theme answers was perfectly fine. I am a radiologist and teach medical students and residents. When teaching how to identify fractures on radiographs, I stress the importance of identifying a "step-off" of the cortex.

Didn't like HASAC, but I think it's a real phrase. For examplet: "It sure is muggy today. Thank goodness the hotel HAS AC."

One minor complaint: surgeons (actually, all physicians) don't use "tools". The correct word is "instrument". Just sayin'.

De 6:55 AM  

Is there such a thing as a "Labatt?" Isn't that like a Lay Potato Chip? No one can eat just one.

Z 7:04 AM  

I'm with team "looks like broken bones to me."

I immediately wondered how many would stumble on the missing possessive S. A sneaky start, especially for those who think a rebus a day keeps the Maleska away. As for us residents of North Windsor, Blue is almost as home grown as Stroh's. Prove you're not a tourist and order a "Blue," not a "Labatt's."

"Got milk?" is a thing. HAS AC not so much.

@GB - I doubt you are familiar with AC Newman's band, but since HAS AC got us an AC Newman cover (of the only Aha song known to Americans) I give it a pass. This video suggests his band is also full of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart fans. It is also funnier if you know anything about what the band members are like off stage.

PurpleCar 7:20 AM  

Again here is more proof that our brains don't match at all. This one was easy for me (despite never being NATTERED before).

RAD2626 7:41 AM  

Puzzle was clever and well executed. Liked the visualization of the theme a lot. And to pull off early in the week even better. Like many early commenters struggled in NW. Confidently wrote in LABATs so TONE UP was last to fall. Agree that clue was awkward. Staying away from violence, would have clued GUNNER as "Steph Curry, to detractors".

jberg 8:10 AM  

The shaded squares made it a little too easy -- once I had ULNATI I filled them all in.

On the other hand, I really liked the center fives, stacked on the BIAS == all things that could break your bones: a mafioso, an energetic dance, and a mountain (generic for any mountain with a treeless top, but there is an actual Old Baldy in Maine).

My wife moved in with me 13 years ago, bringing all her furniture and dishes. It's a big house, but not that big -- so we spent weeks arguing about what to dispose of. I still remember pointing to a pair of purple plastic glasses, and being told "But they're DANSK!" We still have them.

Pete 8:20 AM  

It seems I've finally crossed a threshold in my life. Ever since I started doing puzzles, I found circles annoying, I don't care about themes. I solved at 11:30, and at midnight came back to read Rex, and was surprised to see that there were circles in the puzzle.

I don't know whether I've finally managed to block out petty annoyances which lessen an otherwise enjoyable experience, or I've totally lost it. I don't even know if the difference matters.

kitshef 8:21 AM  

My problem with the theme wasn't the visual execution, which was fine, but with how think it is as a theme in the first place. Certainly not strong enough to justify things like HASAC, TONEUP or OKOK. Don't like clue for SATURDAYS, either -- "Times"?

I do like BALDY and ELVIRA ... and that's it.


Trombone Tom 8:25 AM  

Intriguing theme. I was not bothered at all by the displacement in the bone fractures. Also the HAS AC phrase seems common enough to me. If you were shopping for a house where we live, between Sacramento and the Bay Area, you would definitely want to know this.

After working a summer in Montreal during Expo 67 I became well acquainted with the merits of LABATT and Molson. NATTERED recalls Agnew's comment. OONA (the more recent version) keeps popping up.

I enjoyed this and didn't have the quibbles of @Rex.

eric 8:27 AM  

I don;t really see the problem with the answer beein "ice" rather thatn the "black ice" alternative

Nancy 9:16 AM  

Not all that easy for a Tuesday, and very cute. I liked it.

Malcolm Gibson 9:35 AM  

Rex, methinks you doth protest too much. Easy for me (which is unusual because I usually find that when you say "easy" it's "medium" for me, and when you say "medium," it's that or more). And, personally, thought "hasAC" was pretty clever. And, hey, for a Tuesday puzzle, more clever than most (though this could have been a Monday for me). That said, keep up the commentary. Love it, even -- or especially -- when I disagree.

Malcolm Gibson 9:36 AM  

Oh, and got Labatt right away -- I'm a beer drinker!

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

good 'ol Rex, sippin that NYTimes haterade...

AskGina 9:40 AM  

Experienced plodder here. Plodded through, died at sunra.

Roo Monster 9:46 AM  

Hey All !
Put LABATT in, but didn't look right. Now I see the S is missing. But managed to suss out the NW regardless, even with ice first for EIS. (Pats myself on the back) :-)

Interesting/oddish theme, think I'd've tried to separate the ULNA/TIBIA bones so they weren't touching. At first thought it was 9 letter bone. Put me in the HASAC yuck group. A DOOK, that one. Laughed at BALDY, well on my way to becoming one! (Read:late 40's, losing hair...)

Overall, an OK TuesPuz. Didn't do any permanent damage to the ole brain.


ArtO 9:56 AM  

I'll join the chorus of those who thought the criticism far too harsh. A well executed concept. Why the big hooha over HASAC? Perfectly legit even though hard to see when solving. How many others had always spelled the samba alternative with an H...I.e. RHUMBA?

old timer 9:59 AM  

For some reason I woke up at 2:30, slept fitfully until 4 and was up and dressed by 4:30 a.m. That may explain why my time was a decidedly unTuesdayish 21 minutes. But I really think most of the clues were not on my wave length and I really needed those broken bones to solve it at all, especially the SAC RUM.

I got LABATT easily. Back before Vermont had its first craft brews (Long Trail and as I recall Catamount) the only not to drink Bud (or worse) was to order a Canadian beer and LABATT was one of the best. But I kept looking for an actual football star before ALLPRO came into view.

If OFL wanted to criticize, how about this clue: "Sound part of business?" Since the answer is SILENT I, shouldn't that be "soundless" or (better) "Unsound"?

chefbea 10:06 AM  

Late here....was a fun puzzle. Love OXO products

kitshef 10:07 AM  

It really is just LABATT. Not sure where the impression of an 'S' at the end is coming from, but a quick trip to your local packy (or the world wide web) will confirm this.

Z 10:08 AM  

@De et alia - Why isn't it "Labatt's Blue?" The same reason it isn't "Miller's High Life."

22 1/2 year late PPP Analysis
Doing the Archived Puzzles and seeing how they match up in the area of Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns - Trying to avoid spoilers but read at your own risk.

I did a couple more, a Saturday and a Sunday. The Saturday came in at 20% PPP and was a fine solve. I think it holds up very well. The Sunday had a theme that many here would love (Add a letter to get wacky answers clued wackily). But Man-O-Man did the PPP bring it down. What Warhol said about fame is made explicit. A novel by an author I vaguely remember that was made into a movie and a five year Prime Time Drama (AKA - night time soap opera) none of which I remember at all. Wowser. A southern senator (his name is the clue) who strongly opposed legal abortion and all gun control laws. Heflin supported prayer in public schools and opposed extending federal laws against discrimination to homosexuals. He supported the Gulf War of 1991 and opposed cuts in defense spending. With Fritz Hollings from South Carolina, he was one of only two Democrats in the Senate to vote against the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Anyone remember my observations about the Republican party now being a wholly owned subsidiary of the old Southern Democrats?) The Sunday was only 28% PPP but it was deadly PPP. Multiple DNF areas almost all due to PPP. To be fair, I also DNFed at the "Old-womanish"/"Official measuring of contents" crossing. Two words I do not ever recall seeing before.

For current puzzles my hypothesis is that once PPP gets to around 33% it is problematic. For these two decade old puzzles, it really seems to me that anything over 25% may be problematic. We shall see. So far I've only done the first week of the Shortz Era.

Andrew Heinegg 10:16 AM  

I had some issues starting with Labatt and it took me more like a Wednesday time to complete it.

I am trying to figure out why Oona Chaplin is appearing so often in the NYT crosswords lately. I presume it is the usefulness of the letters as a cross. In any event, I thought it was an adequate but not exceptional Tuesday.

I graduated from law school but, I guess it was too long ago to have heard of the term gunner. But, there certainly were a number of students who would check the grades posted by assigned student numbers and check what other numbers (students) were getting for grades in all the classes compared to their own. It was not enough that they were doing well. They had to 'beat' everyone else. American competitiveness is always present.

Hartley70 10:20 AM  

I thought the theme here was pretty terrific, especially for a Tuesday. I saw that the SLIPANDFALL was on EIS and CEMENT. The broken bones were shaded on my app. And the reveal finished it off. Very densely themed, which I appreciated.

I got stuck on LABATT, totally unknown, and ALLPRO ( I wanted Al somebody) crossing TONEUP which should have been "Bulk up" to me. TONing means getting rid of the jiggle, a minor adjustment.

The rest of the cluing was generally topical, although RYANS Hope is long gone. I wonder if Maeve is still hanging in. Her children might have sent her to an early grave.

HASAC didn't bother me at all, mostly because mine is working. Otherwise I'm a cranky mess. HASAC has the advantage of uniqueness. It's not more of the same old/same old ORT, SNEE and IDI. Thanks for the creativity, Sam.

All in all a fine Tuesday that ran longer than usual. I'm looking at you, NW!

the redanman 10:22 AM  

Had no idea about SUNRA. At least there weren't clues for the bones in this one.

I'm very meh about this one, joyless. Had the two touching bone answers been in the same type of limb


It MIGHT have tipped my O.

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

Ow, my NATI...Still laughing.
I enjoyed the puzzle. I also thought for sure everyone would complain about all the names hither and yon. Didn't care because the concept here was pretty darn good. Broken is broken and the bones are broken in a nice symmetrical way. Ouch.
In Sacramento, HAS AC is a must. A week ago we were in the 100's and this week we have been BASKing in the 80's.....The Delta is our god-send.

Mr. Benson 10:23 AM  

For "ETAS," the S at the end should be the very first thing you fill in even if you don't know the answer, because the word "data" in the clue indicates a plural. (I knew it would be either ETAS or ETDS, so I filled in ET_S.)

Overall I guess this was a medium Tuesday, but I started to worry a little when I passed through the entire NW corner without having a single answer up there. It's a weird feeling about 30 seconds in when you think the Tuesday puzzle might have stumped you. I had to come back to it later after SLIPANDFALL gave me TONEUP and APP, which in turn gave me LABATT.

Proud Mamma 10:25 AM  

Rift for gulf threw me off since i didnt know Gotti nor baldy.
Somehow boring but dont know why.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

No, Rex hasn't lost his mind, but yes, he seems a bit too critical these days.

My only annoyance here, however, was Oona yet again. Let's see: Eugene O'Neil's daughter, Charlie Chaplin's wife, J.D. Salinger's girlfriend, and now "game of Throne's actress Chaplin." How about Agnes Boulton's daughter, friend of Gloria Vanderbilt, friend of Truman Capote, girlfriend of Peter Arno, etc., etc., etc.

Joseph Michael 10:47 AM  

Got a good laugh from @David Krost's opening comments. Well put.

Lewis 10:53 AM  

HAS_AC seems as legitimate as HAS_BO.

Only a couple of nits. As someone already pointed out, building muscle is bulking up, not toning up, and the clue "Sound part of business?" referring to a soundless part of that word, seemed off. Otherwise this had some nice bite for a Tuesday; there were actually eight words that aren't in my wheelhouse, and more-than-usual of the clues were more difficult than the typical direct Tuesday clue. Grand for me, but it could be discouraging to a tyro. There were 18 double letters, by the way, on the high end, though not on the high-high end (more than 25), but a nice echo after PB's Sunday puzzle.

Nice to be back from Italy. I thought the trip would bring blessed relief from all the political hoo-hah, but there I was in Milan, gazing at The Last Supper, when I turned around to see Chris Christie standing right behind me (building up is foreign policy cred?). Sigh. But overall I had a terrific time and return feeling like a place in this puzzle, the intersection of BLISS and RESTFUL.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Trombone Tom,

I thought of those nattering nabobs of negativism too. Only I can't credit Agnew with that gem. All he had to was say it, the real work, writing it, was done by William Safire. I miss his work. I think the Times does too.

Mohair Sam 11:00 AM  

Played this medium-for-us as a themeless and had no problem. When we filled BROKEN BONES we looked up, saw NATI right smack in the middle, wondered wtf, then we noticed ULNATIBIA and felt better.

Things would have gone much faster here if I didn't think the beer was LABATTs and didn't have a lifetime of misspelling RUMBA as rhumba. It's one of those words where I'm convinced the world is wrong, if you know what I mean.

We can all grumble about old Spiro's "NATTERing nabobs of negativism", but it is just about the coolest example of alliteration out there, isn't it? Wish that guy wasn't crooked, he was fun to listen to. Disagree with OFL on HASAC today, it was fine - I probably said we've got AC more than once back when it was an unusual feature.

Fooling around building my own puzzle has done two things for me:
1. Given me a deep respect for those who construct.
2. Made understanding Rex's POV a lot easier.

Hey Will Shortz - RYANS should always be clued as "______ Daughter", 1970 classic. Any Trevor Howard movie is a great movie and everybody should know it.

Anoa Bob 11:31 AM  

Look, the clue for 12 Down is "12"!

When I'm finished with a puzzle, I like to step back and look at the overall visual effect of the completed grid. The east coast's DUSK, DANSK & BASK is lovely (OKOK, ETAS not so much), but that TVAD, HASAC, ACER & ACAD glop in the west is buttugly to my EYE.

Larry Gilstrap @12:49, I've been to the race track only once, in the early 80s at DEL Mar. I saw a horse in the pre-race walk-around (I forget what they call it) that seemed to be stepping a little livelier than the rest, so I bet on him, and he won the race. It wasn't as big a $ win as yours, but I was also teaching, part-time at San Diego State. I vowed never to bet on the ponies again so I could forever say I was ahead of the game in betting at the track. Ha!

I'll bet anyone a LABATT (I had LeBATT) that of the next ten puzzles, at least five have an "S" in the lower, right-most square. Any takers?

I think ORCS ACAI is Cebuano/Visayan for "anchors aweigh".

Gabe Tuerk 11:32 AM  

I was a "fan" of this puzzle, mainly because I "has ac". At least we can't has cheezeburger. Looking forward to compound fracture theme where "blood" radiates from fracture

Numinous 12:00 PM  

I didn't go for RUMBA because I thought it was RhUMBA. Before I looked it up I thought I was confusing it with RhoMBus or ~oid or something. Apparently, RhUMBA is an Anglicised spelling of RUMBA. So, I guess I'm in the saMBA crowd.

A Thought on Speed Solving: Tearing through a puzzle as fast as one can makes it so that answers would have to be instantly recognizable parts of the language. It would seem that applies to phrases and partials especially. A phrase (partial?) like HAS AC does not jump to mind immediately. Once I saw it, it made sense to me and I gave it no more thought beyond what OFL was going to make of it. It seems to me that there are two different styles of solving. In one style, the solver REACTS to the clue. The other style is when the solver thinks about the solution, contemplates all the possibilities then figures out the answer. I tend to be the second type of solver, more like Casco Kid than OFL. I know many of us here are the same though probably not quite as convoluted as the aforementioned Mr. Kid. The first type of solve is more like a video game, shoot those squares before they shoot you; the second style is more like a sudoku, where you need to contemplate everything in several directions at once, than it is like World of Warcraft or Call to Duty. Just a thought I had after completing this and reading the write-up.

I thought the broken bones were rather good. If I have any criticism at all, it would be the shaded squares in the iPad version. This would have been a whole lot more like an X-ray if all the squares were shaded except for the bones. Still, it worked ok for me.

Here's one nobody noticed; What time is NOON? Here on the western edge of the Eastern Daylight Time Zone, local noon is around a quarter to two. In 18th and 19th century ship navigation, Local NOON was established with a sextant and ship's time was set and the NOON watch started. Knowing the exact time of local NOON and comparing it to Greenwich time was essential to calculating a ship's longitude. Prior to the invention of the chronometer, ships were often lost because they didn't know where they were, didn't realize how close they were to rocky shores or dangerous reefs. We landlubbers are stuck with a more or less fixed local NOON. It is, however, so rarely exactly at 12 PM. I guess it all depends on what you think of NOON as being and GPS makes that all moot.

Taffy-Kun 12:16 PM  

Monday NYT had WOW - Monday WSJ had LOL. Huh?

Carola 12:16 PM  

A MURKIER than usual Tuesday for me: I had no idea about LABATT, ALLIE, RYANS, ELVIRA. But, after the mishap on the EIS and spotting the displaced ULNA, I realized we were heading for a reveal of BROKEN BONES. I thought the bone breaks looked fine - OK OK, the NATI is a little unfortunate, but those squares aren't set off by the black blocks of the x-ray image.

I wrote HAS AC right in, so I guess it sounded OK to me, but around here it would be "has central air.". Which we don't.

Loved the geographical mirroring of Mother Teresa's CALCUTTA and Liz Taylor's RAINTREE County.

Taffy-Kun 12:24 PM  

Monday NYT had WOW - Monday WSJ had LOL. Huh?

Mohair Sam 12:50 PM  

@Anonymous 10:58 - Thank you, thank you. The only reason I had to remember Agnew at all is actually attributable to an old favorite - William Safire. I didn't now. You made my day.

Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Finished with ELLIE/LEBATT. So … nope again, M&A breath.

re: HASAC attack: New rule. Constructioneer gets to entirely make up one entry per puz. As long as the clue can make enough sense out of the entry to at least give the solver a fightin chance. Example: {Funny bone pouch??}. This new rule encourages creativity, as well as delicious desperation.

fave weeject: The EIS/OXO symmetrical pair. And honorable mention to the NE/SW weeject stacks.

fave broken bone: UL-MUR. Also, gets points for being the biggest break. He and ELLIE were ingredients in a brand of glue, as my laser-focused memory recalls.

Thanx, Mr. Donaldson. U cracked m&e up.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Sheryl 1:06 PM  

Rex's criticisms don't make sense to me. The theme was the only part of the puzzle I liked, and I saw nothing wrong with HASAC.

That said, I didn't enjoy the puzzle because of what felt like a very high percentage of PPP clues (I didn't actually count). Even though I knew most of the answers, trivia puzzles are no fun for me. I'm a computer person, so I know that "Lenovo alternative" is ACER and I remember a soap called Ryans Hope, but... (((yawn)))

I couldn't get the R in the SUNRA / MRE cross because I didn't know either word.

I got stuck in the northwest. I'm sports-ignorant, so I had no chance on the NFL clue. I never heard of LABATT or EIS. And I never saw "The Notebook". I was missing so many crosses I had trouble getting the rest. DNF

It was an unenjoyable solving experience, and if it hadn't been for the cute theme, I'd have totally disliked the puzzle.

Gerry Kahle 1:09 PM  

Really disagree on HASAC. In my life I've never used many answers. Bedew? Eero? And all the French! I don't speak French. But I've said HASAC . Let's take my car, it ___

Wednesday's Child 1:17 PM  

I like short stories mixed in with the commentary. Like your Danks story. Thanks.

OISK 1:18 PM  

How many movie references are too many? The name of a character in a movie, unless it is a VERY popular movie is a bad clue. (IMHO) Allie? Surely there is a better way to clue that than a reference to a movie character? (and I loved that film. But I did not recall the name of the character. And now that I know, do I care?) Ant man? Never heard of it, but again, a movie reference where none was needed, in a puzzle full of them. How about "social arthropod" as s science based, rather than a pop-culture based clue? True Life???

Never heard of Sunra, another pop culture clue. Then we had Ryan's Hope, Elvira, Amy Adams, Gus (??) Van Sant - almost DNF with Rus and Runner, but took the precaution of trying every letter until "G" made more sense... Finding Nemo, Oona Chaplin, Raintree Country,...

Many of those were very easy, but an over-reliance on one type of clue makes the puzzle less fun for those of us less interested in film. Lucky I drink beer occasionally, or LeBatt and Ellie would have made just as much sense as LABATT and ALLIE. Didn't like the theme very much either.

For me, worst Tuesday of the year, even if I didn't slip and fall.

Wednesday's Child 1:20 PM  

I guessed 'r' at the cross and was rewarded with a victory. I was just lucky.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

Hand up for saMBA before RUMBA. When I took ballroom dancing class in college, we learned how to saMBA. The closest I've been to the RUMBA is the old jump rope rhyme where "she can do the RUMBA, she can do the splits, she can lift her dress up above her hips" appears. Needless to say, at my Catholic grade school, we weren't lifting any dresses higher than our knees. I'm surprised we were allowed to chant that one at all!

Tough for a Tuesday for me. And while I have no problem with HAS A.C. (absolutely necessary here with the high humidity this past week) @Rex's famous last words of HAS A Cow made me laugh out loud.

Masked and Anonymous 1:38 PM  

@indie009/WHA: Would (cul-) DESAC be better than HASAC? If U then change VIP to RIP, that lil west-central area is mighty eazy-E to fill.

Personally, I admire the creativity of HASAC.

Other popular HAS-stuff:

M&A Help Desk

chefbea 2:12 PM  

I play words with friends with a lot of people...some are from Rexville.I just played the word SNARF...got a message that was not an acceptable word!!!!!! Why is it acceptable in Xwords?????

Gregory Schmidt 3:41 PM  

Never heard GUNNER used that way, so not being certain about either GUS or OONA, I was stumped there. Also didn't know EERO Saarinen, so I thought maybe RAINTRUE was a county? Overall, meh.

jae 5:24 PM  

@Z - As you may recall I'm working my way through Saturday puzzles from 1994 (the second year of the Shortz era I believe) as I sit at traffic lights. I just finished Feb. 12th and it was harder than anything I've encountered on a Sat. this year. The PPP was 33% and I missed it by one square - the 1a/1d intersection. The across clue was "French composer Francis" 7 letters, and the down clue was "Ancient city of Cyprus" 6 letters. Natick anyone?

Nancy 5:35 PM  

@OISK and I are usually similarly irritated by pop culture cluing, so I've gone back to look and see why I was not bothered by it today, when he so clearly was. He knew LABATT, while I've never heard of it, but all the crosses in that section, except for ALLIE at 2D, were pretty easy for me. In other sections: I knew GUS Van Sant; AMY Adams; POE, of course; OONA (she's in at least 175 puzzles a year); GOTTI; and EERO (he's in the other 175 puzzles a year!) ANT-Man was guessable; so was RYAN'S; RAINTREE was in some foggy memory chamber, somewhere; and the completely unknown to me STU; ELVIRA and especially SUNRA fortunately came in from the crosses. (On a Friday or Saturday, I'm sure they wouldn't have.) For some reason, I wasn't annoyed by the names today, and I did think that the BROKEN BONES theme was delightful. But rest assured, @OISK, I DO know where you're coming from! And I don't think you're wrong.

Warren Howie Hughes 7:15 PM  

Rex, as of 6:14 pm, CST. Both your blog and Wordplay have the exact same amount of comments...I wonder if it'll end the day that way, which I'm sure we be a first?

Tom 7:50 PM  

Easy solve, finished before the coffee was tepid. Agree with eric about EIS. Normal to say "Achten Sie darauf, heute Abend. Es gibt Eis auf der Stra├če." Last time I was in Lahaina I had an ice, pineapple flavored. Shaved ice, to be sure, but the kids said "I want an ice. " Shaved optional.

Some nits don't need to be picked.

Z 7:57 PM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle.

PPP must have been in my wheelhouse because I barely noticed it. Seeing complaints I went back and did a Post-Solve by 21 hours analysis and, YEP, there is a lot of PPP. Please recognize that I did this without the clues in front of me, so I could be miscounting by one or two.

25/78 for 32%

Regarding OONA Chaplin, imagine if Brian Eno were her father and Yoko Ono her mother. Oona Ono-Eno would surely be a puzzle answer goldmine.

@Lewis - I recommend Sunday's puzzle to you. Also, glad to find your visit was more Venice than Venus and that the bridges were all open.

Randy 8:36 PM  

I thought HAS_AC was just fine, especially since I just moved out of an apartment that did not and desperately needed it. I think I filled that one in with just the first letter, and aside from Acer the crossing clues are pretty obvious on their own.

I've never had LABATT Blue and I can't consciously remember ever seeing it in person, but I filled it in immediately so it must be lingering in my member from various liquor stores and bars over the years.

Warren Howie Hughes 8:40 PM  

A concrete construction by Samuel Donaldson, that was CEMENT to be! I was OVA the moon about it and SAD is my EERO! Can't say no MOE, so EIS GOTTI go!

sara 9:49 PM  

nobody objects to the fact that the city is now called Kolkota not Calcutta???

Bea 12:59 AM  

Das ist doch wahr! I went for 'ice-cream', assuming what was meant was not to be scooped onto a come.

Leapfinger 1:43 AM  

Dang. OFL's right. We could expect a better job of representing fractures.

I. CLAVIER over ICICLE would do it, and would show how a collarbone fracture has an overriding proximal fragment as the pecs pull the distal fragment medially. Easy-peasy. Love that bayonetting!

II. All this would take is any old 5x6 block. Clue it 'dorsal angulation' if you designate by the point of angulation, or 'volar angulation' if you prefer the direction of the distal fragment. Either way, it's a Colles' fracture. Old folks SLIP AND FALL on out-stretched hand all the time.

III. This one definitely has to be on the vertical. A mid-tibial fracture with a butterfly fragment! Makes you salivate, right? Probably wants all kinds of cool hardware, thought some good molding of a PTB cast would likely work just fine, and cuts out risks of anaesthesia...

IV. This one's subtle: a greenstick fracture, but we'd need a platform that could eliminate the block line between the L-square and the N-square, to represent the lucent line of early bone healing on Xray. Could also use it to show an occult fracture of the NAVI.CULAR. Zowie!

Throw in some fill about imaging studies, plaster/fiberglass and instrumentation, and there's a good chance this would publish in J Radiol or J Orthopaed!

I'm getting kind of excited by this, but don't want people to think I have an internal fixation about bone-work. I just like a trip down the Haversion Canal.

btw @Loren, didn't you come up with a right cool BROKEN BONES puzzle of your own? Way to hide light under a bushel-basket, Girl!! And drive safe to Maine.

kitshef 11:19 AM  

@Sara - we did all consider that, but then Mother Teresa was always known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, did all her work in Calcutta, and died three or four years before the name change.

spacecraft 9:56 AM  

This was actually SO bad that I didn't even bother to finish. If you wanted a DNF, Sam, you got one. Second puzzle in three days? If this guy is that hard up, maybe we could all pass the hat--and keep this crap out of the paper into the bargain.

The anger started building with 10-down. Now comes 11-down, and look at how awkward the clue has to be! "Is part of the cast of." Are you KIDDING me? Close on the heels of that, we have..._UNRA, surely one of the "more obscure" (not to say MURKIER, which isn't the same thing) entries ever conceived. I never got around to running the alphabet for that first letter, because I knew it wouldn't matter. So I see it's "SUNRA." OKOK, if you say so. (BTW, I only wrote the one OKay; didn't realize I needed two).

But then when I got down to the revealer--was working east to west, once again stymied in the NW because of ALLPRO (I was looking for a name) and the unknown ALLIE--and saw at once that the only possibility for 31-across (again, look at that BROKENBONE of a clue: "Is ready for the summer weather, for short") had to be HASAC, I just said, enough. Mr. D. is obviously desperate for money, churning out this garbage so fast. What is not obvious is how Mr. Shortz gave the OK (just one, this time) to print it. Maybe he wanted to do his buddy a favor in hard times. Here's a hint, Will: reach in your pocket and give the guy a couple of bucks, but don't open the floodgates at the landfill!

Scoring? In match play it would simply be picked up; loss of hole. In stroke play, it would be, like, hit seven drives out-of-bounds, withdrew. On, hopefully, to a saner Wednesday.

Burma Shave 2:14 PM  


STU’s INDEBT from the FEES he pays her,
he’ll remove ROSA’S SLIPANDFALL asleep,
he REACTS so SILENTI doubt he LASER.

with no assistance from OONA EERO MOE nor MR.E POE NEMO

leftcoastTAM 2:16 PM  

Not with Rex on this one, probably because I'm not and will likely never be one who can dissect a puzzle in LASER-like fashion. I'll have good days and bad days with them, but mostly have some fun with them, as I did with this one.

Thought the theme was clever and nicely done, including the step-down bone breaks. They illustrate really bad fractures. Without the shaded squares probably wouldn't have seen them.

NW, as often seems the case, was last to go, and dredging up LEBAT was the key to opening it up with ALLPRO, et. al., in that corner.

GUNNER is new to me, ELVIRA also unknown, but Spiro Agnew gave me NATTERED with his memorable "nattering nabobs." Oh, also the x-wordese, "nabob." Thanks Spiro, whom I met in Baltimore in a meeting when he was, if I remember correctly, the County Executive.

Thanks to SAD and WS, too.

leftcoastTAM 2:23 PM  

LABATT, not LeBAT. My mistake was LeBATT/eLLIE.

rondo 3:04 PM  

Meh theme not helped by the NA-TI connection. Maybe not joyless, but close.

To me, TONEUP does not necessarily mean “build muscle”, more like “lose flab”. Building muscle is a lot more work than toning up.

More than one yeah baby APPEARSIN this puz with AMY, OONA, and dark mistress ELVIRA, along with ALLIE portrayer Rachel and also Liz in a clue.

Last week, I think, I mentioned BALDY v. greaser.

Interesting to see how everyone REACTS.

Sailor 3:36 PM  

The theme, I thought, was kinda cute and Tuesday-appropriate. It didn’t factor into my solve at all, however.

This puzzle played a bit harder than the usual Tuesday for me, and the problem was the high PPP. In particular, a full 15% of the fill (count ‘em: 12 out of 78!) was TV or movie related. As one who does not pay much attention to the entertainment industry, most of these were unknowns. Thank goodness they were gettable from the crosses. I recognize that I’m most likely in the minority on this, and I'm a crank about trivia-based puzzles anyhow.

leftcoastTAM 8:41 PM  

A passing thought after reading lots of comments here and many before:

There are solvers who are long-time experienced and others who are more or less so; some who are explicit about DNFs and others who are implicit or not revealing at all; some who use helpful apps and others who are pen and paper and have help otherwise or not at all; and so on.

Also, Rex sets the standard, which tends to be in another dimension, and I think it tends to skew a few or many of our own posts.

So what do we make of our performances as solvers compared to others? It may make no difference to some, but it does to me and maybe many others.

Is there an objective, or even a reliable or valid standard of comparison of how we're doing? I doubt it.

Any thoughts?

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