Thrice in Rxs / SUN 7-17-16 / Heraldic border / Cathedral music maker / Bandleader who popularized conga line / Longtime all my children role / Hall of fame slugger Johnny / Stephen King novel with pyrokinetic character

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Constructor: Jerry Miccolis

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: "Double Features" — imagined double features, which are really imagined single features in which two movie titles have been fused together [addendum—please read the P.P.S., below]:

Theme answers:
  • FROZEN WATERWORLD (22A: Double feature about the Arctic Ocean?)
  • ALIEN CONTACT (38A: ... about the search for extraterrestrial life?)
  • TITANIC SKYFALL (49A: ... about baseball-sized hail?)
  • BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY (67A: ... about Lee Harvey Oswald not being the lone gunman?)
  • SAW THE DEPARTED (87A: ... about attending a funeral?)
  • ROCKY SLEEPER (96A: ... about an insomniac?)
  • NOTORIOUS KINGPIN (116A: ... about Pablo Escobar?)
Word of the Day: BORIS Johnson (67D: ___ Johnson, former mayor of London) —
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, popular historian, author, and journalist. He has been Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 13 July 2016 and has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. He had previously served as MP for Henley from 2001 until 2008 and as Mayor of London from 2008 until 2016. A member of the Conservative Party, Johnson identifies as a One-Nation Conservative and has been associated with both economically liberal and socially liberal policies. [...] Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. Conversely, he has been criticised by figures on both the left and right, accused of elitism and cronyism, laziness and dishonesty, and using xenophobic, racist, and homophobic language. Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals. (wikipedia)
• • •

Ugh. This shoulda been called "Wordplay Trainwreck." Two major, deal-breaking flaws with this theme. PART A (ugh, I say): it is infinitely replicable. Just plunk two movie names next to each other. You could probably do a Sunday-sized puzzle from post -2010 movies alone. Getting symmetrical theme answers is really your only challenge. "The Martian Room"! "Brooklyn Bridge of Spies"! I haven't even left 2015 yet. There is nothing here. Not only that, I guarantee you that this theme has been done, and been done better, and been done more cleverly. Even the title is just a [shrug]. A bored "how's this?" And then Part B, the execution. These answers ... it's like the creators weren't really sure what "funny" was. Like they looked up "humor" on the internet at the last minute. How else to explain the singularly weak BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY? You Can Plunk "Big" In Front Of Anything, why why why would you do that??? Nothing Clever Is Happening Here! And ALIEN CONTACT!?!?! You know that CONTACT was actually about ... alien ... contact ... so ... literally nothing clever is happening here. It is negative clever. Also, SAW THE DEPARTED would just never work ever on any level. I can imagine the other pairings as coherent phrases, but not that one. Titles so rarely begin with the perfect tense and no clear subject. Everything about this puzzle, including how it got approved for publication, is utterly baffling. Also, the fill isn't great.

[NOTORIOUS ... BIG]

MITRAL x/w CARRÉ = rough (7D: Kind of heart valve + 26A: French for "square"). Very rough. I'm actively relearning French as we speak and couldn't come up with CARRÉ, probably because there are no accents aigus in crosswords. PART A (not I!?) and GNMA (blargh) were also dire and made ALIEN hard to see (because, again, who would've expected so banal a pairing as ALIEN and CONTACT!). MEIS! ASYE! TER! I have to stop now. This appears to be a debut, and it's one a discriminating editor should've sent back, with notes on how to make it NYT-worthy. Only Merl Reagle could pull off something like this—could give it the ridiculous, clever, ingenious humor it *needs* to come off. He would've added some twist that made it all seem worthwhile. I miss him.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. this tweet

P.P.S. IMPORTANT

Please read the following comment from reader Martin Abresch, who found out from reading another blog (one in the "NYT Family," ironically...) that:
the submitted version was much *MUCH* better. The theme answers were not designed to be wacky movie combinations. The design was for a two-movie answer to describe a one-movie clue.

FROZEN WATERWORLD = Ice Age?
ALIEN CONTACT = ET The Extraterrestrial?
TITANIC SKYFALL = Armageddon?
BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY = JFK?
SAW THE DEPARTED = The Sixth Sense?
ROCKY SLEEPER = Insomnia?
NOTORIOUS KINGPIN = The Godfather?

I mean, this goes beyond issues of one clue being better or worse than the other. The answers were designed to provide accurate descriptions of movies. They were not written to be wacky. In the published puzzle, SAW_THE_DEPARTED (Double feature about attending a funeral?) is dull as a doorknob and barely makes sense. In the original version, SAW_THE_DEPARTED ("The Sixth Sense?") is clever and precise.

Personally, feel sorry for the constructor, Jerry Miccolis. The theme was solid, and several of the theme clue-answer pairs made me smile. The editors utterly ruined it. I do not understand why they changed the clues at all. Epic fail.
This is jaw-dropping, honestly. One of the worst editing fails I've ever heard of. The original clues are the raison d'etre of the whole puzzle. They actually make sense of the title, for *&%^'s sake. Maybe it's time the NYT started seriously considering a changing of the guard. Yeesh. Sorry Will ruined your puzzle, Jerry. Better luck next time.

P.P.P.S. See Will's disavowal in the comments...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

105 comments:

Bob 12:04 AM  

Did anyone else try JFKCONSPIRACYTHEORY the first go-round?

Rachel 12:14 AM  

I got MITRAL/CARRE, but the NW corner was a disaster for me: MARINO crossing AMFAR, MIZE and INE? DNF because of it.

I agree that overall this puzzle was not the most fun solve, and the theme answers felt kind of lame.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Ever one to pile on, if you're making a puzzle centered on movie titles, you should keep movie titles out of the rest of the fill. I know there are about a bazillion movie titles but that's what IMDB is for. MISTRESS/FIRESTARTER/HYDE/EMBRYO/NINE - that took me 10 seconds. In genre' film (how's that for a euphemism) you got your MEATCASE sitting atop a PIPEORGAN right up top there.

Martín Abresch 12:37 AM  

I liked the quotation in the clue for SCIENCE (It "never solves a problem without raising 10 more," per George Bernard Shaw). The rest of the puzzle was a snooze.

HOWEVER, I just checked XWord.com and see that the submitted version was much *MUCH* better. The theme answers were not designed to be wacky movie combinations. The design was for a two-movie answer to describe a one-movie clue.

FROZEN WATERWORLD = Ice Age?
ALIEN CONTACT = ET The Extraterrestrial?
TITANIC SKYFALL = Armageddon?
BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY = JFK?
SAW THE DEPARTED = The Sixth Sense?
ROCKY SLEEPER = Insomnia?
NOTORIOUS KINGPIN = The Godfather?

I mean, this goes beyond issues of one clue being better or worse than the other. The answers were designed to provide accurate descriptions of movies. They were not written to be wacky. In the published puzzle, SAW_THE_DEPARTED (Double feature about attending a funeral?) is dull as a doorknob and barely makes sense. In the original version, SAW_THE_DEPARTED ("The Sixth Sense?") is clever and precise.

Personally, feel sorry for the constructor, Jerry Miccolis. The theme was solid, and several of the theme clue-answer pairs made me smile. The editors utterly ruined it. I do not understand why they changed the clues at all. Epic fail.

GILL I. 12:38 AM  

Well...I like ATOMIC NATTER. Cmon @Rex, this was a perfectly innocuous Sunday puzzle. I mean look...There's an ITSY SHAFT a FURRY UTERUS a MEAT CASE PIPE ORGAN and a ROSY TATA. Absolutely nothing wrong with this fine Sunday puzzle. I bet the Maleska God's would agree.
Not an EYESORE in the lot.

George Barany 1:07 AM  

Congratulations to @Jerry Miccolis for this debut New York Times puzzle, and thanks @Rex for a well reasoned and rather compassionate review. It's hard to know what to add, without piling on, so let me just take off my crossword hat and write as a chemist.

Start at the start, i.e., the northwest corner. There are quite a few chemical suffixes, and even knowing ?NE still allows for A, E, I, O, or Y. Then, the aforementioned ? has to cross a SCIENCE-y (sic) term, ATOMIC at 1-Across, clued in a tricky manner, which in turn crosses an acronym at 1-Down that--with all my SCIENCE-y (sic) bona fides--I have never heard of. Fortunately, I knew enough sports trivia to unravel MARINO crossing MIZE, but really had to cross my fingers on the Spanish state motto, and so it went ...

Some clues I genuinely enjoyed: TOW, LAHR, YARD, and the aforementioned SCIENCE with a fun, new-to-me George Bernard Shaw quote. However, I would have rather not been reminded of that clown BORIS (the puzzle was surely finalized before he re-emerged this past week in incoming Prime Minister May's Brexitable cabinet), nor the looming Olympic/Zika disaster in RIO. Personally, I would have clued NAS for National Academy of Sciences, ANAL as short for "analytical," ILE as the abbreviation for the amino acid isoleucine, and NINE as the ATOMIC number of fluorine.

As for the NRA, I refer you (yet again) to A Piece of Our Mind, constructed with my friend @Christopher Adams.

And if you'll indulge me another paragraph, my friend @Liz Gorski constructed a very elegant multi-layered Sunday-sized puzzle that just appeared in the Wall Street Journal, accessible by clicking here. I recommend it with high enthusiasm.

bg 1:10 AM  

Didn't the Sunday just pull this movie title amalgamation gig a couple months ago? In any case, it was neither difficult, clever or in any way remarkable. We deserve better.

Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Agreed. A horrible Sunday slog. DRK? Really?

Cheers,
Brennan

Anoa Bob 1:37 AM  

Ine keenen orle, drk nas. Meis ter exeunt; ein asto rai. Aer eee!

Asye amfar, tre igot ens. Ile idos peet. Tyes itsy isms? Cro epee parta tata gnma. Odd.

jae 2:59 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. I think the theme would have been improved if the NYT had gone with the original idea of clueing the movie mashups with a movie. Xwordinfo has those clues...e.g. FROZEN WATERWORLD - Ice Age?, ROCKY SLEEPER - Insomnia?

Liked it better than @Rex did, but there are a lot of problems.

'mericans in Le Havre 3:14 AM  

What @Rex said. We cannot easily recall a Sunday puzzle as bad as this one. A veritable MEATCASE. Besides the uninspired theme and theme answers the fill was just awful. Way, way too many propper names crossing each other or being crossed with an obscure word, like "ORLE".

We're at the Normandie coast this weekend, experiencing glorious weather. Our son's girlfriend is in Nice (studying French) and was planning to go with her roommate to watch the fireworks on Thursday. But they were waiting for another girl to show up, and she was very late in arriving. So they gave it a miss. They are feeling very lucky. Unfortunately, some 300 other innocent people weren't.

chefwen 3:20 AM  

The highlight of my solve was trying to figure out what my drag queen had a collection of. At first it was wigs, changed it to bras, the bras morphed into BOAS.

Gotta agree with Rex on this one, BORING? Wish it were otherwise, but it's not. Had a lot more fun with Friday's and Saturday's puzzles.

Sorry Jerry.

Charles Flaster 4:45 AM  

Liked it better than Rex.
Still very easy to theme it out.
Classic CrosswordEASE with IRE and ORLE.
Should have added (slang) to blue for TOAST.
Write over was PART A for PART I.
Liked cluing for PEANUTS and MEAT CASE.
Never saw Johnny Mize play but it is rumored his home runs were TITANIC in nature.
Thanks JM.

Craig Trueblood 5:14 AM  

When will we stop seeing "RA I"? There was no RA I. There was RA and RA II. This did not slow me down, but it is just wrong. :(

Trombone Tom 5:27 AM  

Whew! Seemed like a slog without much payback. What @Rex said.

"First home?" held me up for a moment.

ASPCA "watchdog org. in two senses" is a pretty weak pun, but you either like puns or you don't.

I did think "sides of a quadrangle, maybe" was a good clue.

Don't know TYES from ties and my dictionaries weren't much help.

Swift as a synonym of witty? Maybe.

And who remembers Heyerdahl's reed boat RAI?

I worked my way through Mr. Miccolis's puzzle but I Aint Got No Satisfaction.

Gregory Schmidt 5:43 AM  

I know French, and I took anat/phys, so MITRAL/CARRE was, as Rex likes to say when the answer involves a thrice-obscure literary reference, a gimmee.

Patrick K 6:15 AM  

Easy puzzle. Agreed that the theme was very forced, but I like the alternate clues provided by @Martin above.

Didn't think it was horrible, just too easy. I did like some of the clever clues discussed already above, but the many kludgy 3 letter ones were a bit much.

Loren Muse Smith 6:19 AM  

ROCKY SLEEPER. Yup. I rarely sleep a lot and have yet to have a doctor offer me some kind of sleeping pill. And I refuse to ask because then I would feel all guilty and drug-seekerish. Sigh.

Sure, you could take movie titles and put'em together ad infinitum, so for those of us who like to play along and think of others, this theme is a fun starting point. Once I got the trick at FROZEN WATERWORLD, I enjoyed sussing out the others. This time I actually do remember some kind of similar theme, but I didn't care; I certainly don't remember the specific titles in that one.

@Martin Asbresch – thanks for furnishing the original clues – I like those better, too.

I liked ANAL and OCD. When I chug water, I have to count the sips. Sometimes to thwart myself, I try to name colors with each sip instead, but then that's just switching my OCD delivery system.

SAW THE DEPARTED could've had a much more gruesome clue.

Early goofs. . .

"Part 1" for PART A
"voted" for EXED IN
"ogee" for ORLE
Erica "Cain, Kain" for KANE
"carte" for CARRE
"ion" for ILE
"thar" for AFAR. That "yonder" on the clue felt backwoodsy.

So this is your NYT debut, Jerry? Congrats! And a Sunday to boot! Nice job. I'll just go stand by @Gill I and her FURRY UTERUS.

chefbea 7:38 AM  

Did not like the puzzle. Never heard of half the films. And why is keep part of a castle??? and what is DNMA?? DNF

Lewis 7:50 AM  

I'm easy. Give me a puzzle that makes me think a few times (rather than just recall), or that gives me a couple of smiles, or that teaches me a couple of interesting facts, or that makes me gasp at a couple of clever clues or a construction feat, or any combination of the above, and I am grateful for the experience. In the decade that I've been solving NYT puzzles, there have been less than a dozen puzzles that felt like a waste of time, and certainly not today's.

These puzzles are a lovely diversion, enriching my life, a magnificent gift. Thank you Will et al.

Huskermaestro 7:57 AM  

Also, Liszt wrote no fewer than six CONCERTI - the two actually titled as such, the Hungarian Fantasy, the Totentanz, the Spanish Rhapsody, and the Concerto Pathetique. Yes, I am the NERDIEST. But these ITTY things AROUSE my NATTER.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I just feel bad for the constructor in this case. With the original clues, the theme answers were kinda clever and interesting. TITANIC SKYFALL for "Armageddon" is particularly cool. With the current "wacky" changes, they just fall flat, because they become two random titles randomly squished together. I have no idea why the editors made that call. I guess it made it moderately harder, because there was no indication that movies were involved in any way, especially since ALIEN CONTACT was one of the first themers I got out and, yeah, that is bland to the extreme.

Yeah, the puzzle would still have way way way too much glue, but I could have forgiven a lot more for really clever themers.

todd 8:04 AM  

You might be planning to do this, but I'd update your post out of respect for
The creator to include the info in Martin Abresh's comment above. This is really interesting and changes my view of the puzzle considerably. I felt like I was missing something -- and I was: the clever cluing that should have been. What a weird edit.

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

Will Shortz owes constructor Jerry Miccolis a big apology imo. The idea of two movie titles defining a third which is the clue is clever. The idea as presented just fails, especially (as @Rex harped) at BIGCONSPIRACYTHEORY - which works just fine with "JFK?". In fact all the original clues (as shown by @Martin Abresch at 12:37) are top notch. On top of the clue changing, the constructor had the misfortune of following one of the best Saturday puzzles ever. Talk about bad luck!

Loved the clue for SCIENCE, more than a little truth there - Shaw quotes always the best. Are we going to have the UTAHN/Utahan argument again? - I prefer today's version. GNMA does not lend one red cent - they guarantee packages of mortgage loans, this enables lenders to more readily sell those loans and lend again.

Lady Mohair insists that I tell all that she liked this puzzle and we can all go to hell.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

@Martín Abresch -- wow, that's fascinating, thanks for that. You are 1000% correct. Original clues are great. These are... not.

AM_FAR/_ARINO = Natick for me.

NCA President 8:44 AM  

@Martin Abresch: Thanks for the post! When you see theme as it was intended, it makes a lot of sense. I would recommend to all you who didn't read Martin's post @12:37am to do so. Redemption. This does not reflect well on WS and his team, for sure. Changing the clues like that looks like an act of desperation...like they were trying to dumb the puzzle down or at the very least (and worst), trying to be funny. Ugh. And shame.

I remember some time ago someone created a puzzle with two sets of clues...an easy Monday set and a challenging Friday set. The clues can make all the difference in the world to an otherwise simple grid full of words that are either well known or easily inferrable. This puzzle, if it's true that the editors changed the theme entirely, is a shining example of how to make clues either make or break the puzzle. Good puzzle/Bad puzzle...I believe I would have preferred the good puzzle first, thank you very much.

I was stuck with the MITRAL/CARRE crossing. I had MITtAL/CARtE and that looked "fine." And by "fine" I mean "mittal" looked bad, but carte looked better. I had to do a rare puzzle check to find the error. Also, GNMA. I looked at those crosses 15 times at least just to double, triple, and 15-times check that it was right. I've never heard of it. Ugly.

Probably the biggest sticking point for me with this puzzle is the plethora of non-word answers. Examples are too numerous to mention, but they include: INE, NAS, PTA, SLRS, ASPCA, OCD, GNMA, ISMS, NRA, XTRA/XEDIN, EEE, and etc. Maybe that's the usual amount of abbreviations, suffixes, X-words for a puzzle this size, but for some reason it seemed like a lot to me...just alphabet soup kinda stuff.

When I came here I hated the puzzle. But after seeing what it was supposed to be, I'm overall okay with it.

Purplels 9:04 AM  

I had no idea. I can only imagine how the constructor must feel to have their puzzle changed like that. Sad.

Mary Perry 9:07 AM  

Easy medium for me. Theme did not delight though!

Chaos344 9:19 AM  

Finished it pretty quickly, but like Rex said,not much zip.

@ Martín Abresch: Thanks for the explanation. This one's on Will and congrats to Jerry Miccolis for his NYT debut.

@Rex: We ALL miss Merle.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle -- which took my mind off my current computer woes. But this time, I don't think it's the provider -- though who can ever be sure of these things? This time, I think it may be my computer itself, purchased in December 2008 and, therefore 8 years old. Maybe someone can give me advice as to if it IS my computer. If I never succeed in getting back to this website again, I'll send a friend to sort out your answers and call me on the phone. Here are the symptoms to be diagnosed:

I have lights on the front of the computer. I have my arrow. I have a screen with everything on it that's always been there. But when I click on just about anything, nothing happens. Or at least nothing happens for a very, very, very long time. The computer is unresponsive. Last night it was frozen on a restaurant website for over an hour and a half. I couldn't turn the damn thing off. I left-clicked and right-clicked and pressed control/alt/delete and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENED. Finally, I got it off -- I don't remember exactly how. I went to bed; if it didn't come back on, I did not want to know that last night. This morning, it was almost as unresponsive. It took 10 minutes to get it open and then get to my email. But the typing function was unaffected. It took less time -- maybe 4 minutes -- to get to Rex. Again, the typing function here is unaffected, too. If there are any tech experts out there, can you diagnose this from what I've told you? FYI, my other provider services -- landline and TV -- are working.

Teedmn 9:44 AM  

I'm with @Martin Abresch; the original theme clues being a third movie made the whole thing so much better and the decision to change them to the mere double features is inscrutable.

Thanks @Gill I and @Anoa Bob for the laughs.

I almost always have some small section of a Sunday puzzle that stops me in my tracks. I go in circles like a RACER, reading and re-reading the clues, and each time draw the same blanks. That section was the SW today. I had ERICA KANE, AMISH, SLEEPER and AWE and couldn't move in any direction with confidence. Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki obviously didn't fit, 121A's SpEc was STIRring up trouble and none of the Wayans were coming to mind. On the nth go-round on what another term for NERDy would be, I realized that if I used NERDIEST, (dweebEST, anybody?) it worked perfectly. It was like one of those dreams where suddenly you realize there's another room through that door that you had never noticed before - hey I can just go right through here!

Congratulations, Jerry Miccolis, on your debut and good luck on your future efforts!

Roo Monster 9:55 AM  

Hey All !
So, the theme clues were changed. Ouch! Since I will probably never get a puz published in the NYT, and since I believe Will doesn't read this blog (or does he?), why the hell are ypu gonna change ALL the theme clues? Original concept should've won out. IMO. Of course, it's Wills opinion that counts... Hey, debut for constructor, so at least he got paid. Good on him.

I liked this puz, even with changed theme clues. Sure, any movie combos would've worked, but you whittle down what you came up with until you find what you think is funny, and symmetrical. Job done, although I think BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY is kinda wonky. Otherwise, themers OK. Not over-drecked, which is nice. Some clunkers, (XEDIN, AMFAR, GNMA) but there's always some in puzzles. So good job Jerry M on your puz and debut.

Liked some of the clueing (cluing? Which one is correct?), (like PEANUTS, e.g.). One mistake I found, Mr. Wayans spells it KeenAn, no?

BEERS!
RooMonster
DarrinV

Donkos 9:56 AM  

@nancy, sounds like you have a virus on your computer. Have you run a scan?

Tim Aurthur 10:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jyqm 10:38 AM  

@RooMonster -- I thinking you're thinking of KeenAn Thompson of SNL. It's definitely KEENEN Ivory Wayans.

jberg 10:43 AM  

I have to confess, sheepishly, that I've never heard of this MARINO guy, so I guessed AdFAR/cARINO. I also failed to change BrAS to BOAS, which gave me a DRU sequence in the Escobar movie that led to DrUg KINGPIN -- I finally decided it must be NO TO a drug kingpin, and Herdahl's raft must have been akI. The character could have been ERICA or ERICk. So this was just a notorious fail for me. I'm getting out of here and heading for the beach.

Oh yeah -- @chefbea, the KEEP is an inner fortified area in a castle where the fighting force within can hole up if the outer walls of said castle are breached.

Z 11:15 AM  

Infuckingcredible. There is always someone, but I can't imagine anyone preferring published to original.

JC66 11:31 AM  

@Trombone Tom

WITTY may be an adjective for Jonathan Swift.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Glad to see Will Shorz got his Obama fix. (HYDE Park ... once home to Obama.) It's been a few weeks since he worked in his hero.

AskGina 11:34 AM  

Northwest, lost on sports clues crossing sports clues, never heard of Skyfall, and I have no idea what an slrs camera is. As for the rest, i had some fun and had to think hard, so yay. But I think the logic behind the editing of thus puzzle must've been, "This is way too clever and interesting. Let's fck it up a bit." Will Shortz, you ok buddy? Maybe a little vacay. Clear your head of the Gilmour Girls?

Passing Shot 11:41 AM  

Ever late to the party , but having read Martin Abresch's comment, I have much more respect for today's puzzle and a bit less for Will.

msue 11:41 AM  

Agree with Rex.

@Martin Abresch at 12:37, thank you for shedding light on how a puzzle design can go from interesting to blah during the editorial process. Eye opening.

If you want to see a brilliant movie-themed puzzle, look up Patrick Blindauer's brilliant NYT Thursday July 25, 2013 crossword. I just solved it again and enjoyed it just as much as I did when it was first published.

Carola 11:46 AM  

@Martin Abresch, thank you for cluing us in to the editorial changes that took all the fun out of the theme. What a shame for the constructor! And for us solvers, too, who experienced a dull fill-it-in rather than jolts of joy at the cleverness.

Nevertheless, I did love TITANIC SKYFALL, which could decribe one of our Midwestern hailstorms, as well as the bottom corner's NERDIEST NATTER, which some might say describes my tendency to "enlighten" others with whatever arcane lore I've accumulated in my 70 years.

Will Shortz 11:49 AM  

I don't usually read this blog, because I can't take the constant personal bashing. But comments about today's blog have gotten back to me.

I'm afraid Martin Abresch (and by extension, Jeff Chen) was mistaken about the presentation of the theme clues in the manuscript that was submitted for today's puzzle. The version Jeff gave was not what I got.

--Will Shortz

Nik 11:51 AM  

FROZEN WATERWORLD= Ice Age?, BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY=JFK?, why not ROCKY SLEEPER= Eyes Wide Shut? Triple features

Norm 11:52 AM  

I didn't like the puzzle that much, but I would probably have liked the original even less. Not being a movie person, it was hard for me to come up with the titles, but the edited clues gave me a shot. With the original clues, you would have to know something about the movie being used as the clue, if that makes sense. ARMAGEDDON and THE SIXTH SENSE, for example, would have meant diddly to me, but the edited clues did. The puzzle, as submitted, strikes me as more of a niche movie puzzle than an NYT Sunday, si I can a basis for the extreme makeover.

Joseph Michael 11:53 AM  

According the constructor on Xword, this is not only the first crossword he ever published, but also the first crossword he ever constructed.

Wow.

As @Martin pointed out, his original concept was much more innovative than the version that appears in the Times today. But, despite the missteps of the editors in the cluing, I still found it an enjoyable solve overall.

Didn't figure out the theme until I had completed the grid. Then suddenly got it with ROCKY SLEEPER. Though I am well familiar with the title, I may be the only person in America who hasn't actually seen ROCKY.

Congrats, Jerry. Nice job.

John McKnight 12:08 PM  

so terrible lol

old timer 12:22 PM  

Yeah, it was pretty boring. And GNMA was misleading, Ginnie Mae makes no loans, it just issues guarantees. I suppose in a sense it is a "lending agency" because what it guarantees is loans. But FNMA would work too, and Fannie Mae is way better known. I chose GNMA on the theory there probably is a Korean brand called LG.

My favorite answer was EXEUNT. Brought me back to my high school days, reading Shakespeare. At the end of each act, the instruction was always EXEUNT omnes.

My favorite clue was "chump change".

But since when , I asked myself, is SALERNO on the Amalfi coast? Surely it's in Sicily? No, Shortz got that one right. It is the big city on that coast. I agree WS blew it big time by changing the original themer clues.

Ryan 12:29 PM  

This was just painful and not fun to finish. I really wish we had the original concept/clues!

Winship 12:34 PM  

I, too, liked the GBS "science" clue and answer. It's quotation worth remembering.

Rex Parker 12:34 PM  

It's professional bashing. Do your job.

[Flying monkeys—go tell your master I said that]

RP

Kimberly 12:36 PM  

"Did not" isn't a very convincing disavowal. I'd like to know exactly what he did get, because this was nonsense. If what he got was really so terrible, why did this puzzle get in at all? If Martin Abresch was wrong about his facts, at least he was right on the money with clueing that might have rescued this. BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY was so arbitrary I actually stopped for a moment to scan the puzzle to see if I was missing some more clever theme.

I like online curmudgeoning (is so a word, because I just wrote it) as much as anyone, but this isn't complaining for its own sake or intellectual snobbery; something went seriously wrong here. If Abresch's conspiracy theory isn't BIG, what is the real story for this silliness?

Sheryl 12:50 PM  

Based on what both Jeff Chen and Will Shortz said, it appears the constructor made the change in the theme clues before submission. What a shame. The puzzle theme as published was bizarrely... blah.

Back to Saturday... I posted a comment on yesterday's blog post asking for advice on how to do Friday and Saturday puzzles. Many people responded and I posted a response in yesterday's blog post this morning. I'm posting about it here because I only check Rex's blog once a day, and I didn't want my Thank You to be missed. I'm very grateful for all your excellent advice and encouragement!

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

A complete and utter slog. What I like in a Sunday puzzle is the feeling of solving fast; Sunday puzzles aren't like Monday fast (say 5 minutes; I'm not in Mr. Parker's league) because they're larger, and they're generally not Monday easy. But this one never got going for me, and soon felt like pure drudgery. No idea if the constructor or the editor deserves blame – and I'm willing to say it might be me. I get that some puzzles that are difficult for me and hard for others, and vice versa, but this Sunday, and it seems like many other Sundays, have been of subpar pleasure. I say this knowing that the construction feat is a mighty one, and I'd never try it, but still. The Times puzzle is an institution, and this kind of puzzle hurts the foundation of that institution. Perhaps I had a bad day.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

So we have a bit of controversy...

Martín Abresch 1:16 PM  

@Will Shortz - I apologize for directing my anger at the New York Times editors.

As I reread Jeff Chen's comment on XWordinfo, I see that he does *not* explicitly state that the changes were made by the editors. If you're reading this, Jeff, I'd also like to apologize to you for misrepresenting you.

All I know is what is publicly available. At XWordinfo, Jerry Miccolis notes that Jeff Chen helped with the crossword puzzle: Jerry even offered Jeff a co-authorship credit. Jeff Chen states that, when he and Jerry were hammering out the theme answers, the basic idea was to describe "one movie with two others smashed together." Jeff then states that he "was mighty surprised to see the cluing changed to more generic language."

I assumed that those changes were made during the editing process. Alternative possibilities never occurred to me.

To make 100% sure that I'm not misrepresenting things here, here are the relevant parts of Jeff Chen's comment:

I agreed with Nancy that the basic idea — describing one movie with two others smashed together — was clever, so I went back and forth with Jerry through 50ish emails, helping him brainstorm and ultimately settle on a set I felt Will would go for. I particularly liked TITANIC SKYFALL to describe "Armageddon."

I was mighty surprised to see the cluing changed to a more generic language. [… about baseball-sized hail?] for TITANIC SKYFALL doesn't do much for me — cramming just about any two movies together could form some wacky phrase, right?

...

I think this puzzle would have been much more memorable with the initial clues — it's a real shame.

William Palmer 1:18 PM  

Can't we all just get along?

Roo Monster 1:21 PM  

Oops! Good ole Google tells me it is Keenen. My bad! :-)
Not sure how many corrected me so far, hopefully not too many... :-P

RooMonster

Hartley70 1:39 PM  

Apparently a bit of the upset today was based on fallacious info that WS had mucked about with the theme clues. I'm taking his word that he didn't (Hi Will!) and happy to say I had a really good time with this today. I love movie clues. It's hot as hell here today and a good idea to sit in the a/c and think about what movie to watch next. No need to strain your brain on Latin or chemical formulae. Thanks for the entertainment Jerry and good job on your debut!

It played easy so my time was a little faster than average. Sometimes easy Sundays can turn into an endless slog, but despite some straight forward cluing, the movies kept me interested. I SO wanted "Rodan" instead of ROCKY.

Rex Parker 1:45 PM  

Ugh. Stop. Please note that WS didn't say he "didn't change anything."

To quote: "The version Jeff gave was not what I got."

That could mean anything.

Now, little birdies told me that the constructor himself has complained (privately) about changes. Now maybe the birdies lied. But I doubt it. It seems that the submitted version is *neither* the one described by Chen (not precisely, anyway), *nor* the one that appeared in the paper.

So the truth is out there. For now, all we have the puzzle in the paper, and it is terrible.

RP

Mohair Sam 1:46 PM  

@Will Shortz - Apologies for recommending you apologize for what you apparently didn't do.

@Jeff Chen - Withering glare in whatever direction you live in from Pennsylvania for your apparent misinformation.

Would love to know why the "good" clues were hidden. Anybody else?

@Nancy - You might try "resetting" or "refreshing" your modem (if you have one) - call RCN for how to do it, it's very easy - and should be done about monthly. But most likely @Donkos is right and you've got a virus.

Z 2:54 PM  

@Sheryl - You're welcome. Hardly a speed solver here (6 minute Mondays, anywhere from 20 to 200 on a Saturday), but it wasn't all that long ago that I found Saturday pretty impenetrable.

Hey people, you can head over to xwordinfo.com and read both the constructor's and Chen's comments yourself.

@Will Shortz - It may feel personal, but I am hard put to find much evidence that it is. It might be good for you to find the truths in Rex's criticisms before someone else does.

22 ½ late PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names and Proper Nouns as a percentage of archived puzzles

Six puzzles, with a low of 18/76 and a high of 31/76 (40%). For the most part these all were comparable to today's puzzles with two notable exceptions. The first caught my attention by having a Women's mag clue at 1A and an all too current (then and now) reference to a victim of police violence. Shortz has gotten beaten up here for a certain level of tone-deafness in relation to women issues and minority issues. Interesting to find contra-indicators in puzzles from 1993. More crossword specific was a puzzle with 5 interlocking 15 letter song titles on a Friday. In addition, there were several bonus musical answers. A nice piece of construction, I was also struck by the Friday theme and the added musical clues. I can imagine many complaints about the narrow focus of the theme and companion clues if this were published today. As I solved it, though, it felt like a nice bonus.

Almost everything that makes any of these puzzles feel any tougher than today's puzzles is the PPP. I am also seeing that 25%-35% was typical.

Chaos344 3:08 PM  

@Nancy:

If your computer is over 8 years old, it is a dinosaur by today's standards. You may have an actual virus, but I doubt it. The symptoms are much more indicative of insufficient(RAM)physical memory? Do you have a good program like Norton that keeps your computer "clean"?

Be prepared for all kinds of opinions on this subject. You may become overwhelmed with all the advise you get, but I've been through all of your issues in the past. If you wanna do this one on one, shoot me an e-mail. I'd be more than happy to try and help.

Will Shortz 3:09 PM  

I'm not going to get into a fight with Rex Parker. He has a daily blog to comment on the Times crossword. My job is simply to put out the best puzzles I can. I rarely comment on them, preferring to let them speak for themselves.

For the record, the constructor's clue for FROZEN WATERWORLD was "Remake of 'Ice Age' as a double feature starring Idina Menzel's voice and Kevin Costner?". The clue for TITANIC SKYFALL was "Remake of 'Armageddon' as a double feature starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig?". Etc.

I thought these clues were too long-winded. So I shortened them, as you saw. Whether the results are funny or not is for you to decide.

Perhaps I should have kept the "Ice Age" and "Armageddon" angle instead of shortening the clues as I did. Even then, tho, there are issues. I'm not sure, for example, that "The Sixth Sense" exactly equals SAW THE DEPARTED, as the latter is a verb phrase while the movie title is a noun. Further, getting the joke of the clue sort of assumes one knows the subject of "The Sixth Sense," which I wouldn't assume every solver does. That's something I try to avoid.

Perhaps the theme clues weren't handled in the best way. Even in a do-over, tho, I wouldn't leave them as submitted.

For solvers who hated today's puzzle ... my apologies. Be assured that a lot of thought and care from a lot of people goes into every Times puzzle. And I think the overall pleasure-average is pretty good.

--Will Shortz

AskGina 3:33 PM  

This may well not be the geekiest bunch of people in the universe but unless they find some other inhabited planets, I'm going to believe it is. And in that we can take pride.

Norm 4:07 PM  

Will said: "Further, getting the joke of the clue sort of assumes one knows the subject of "The Sixth Sense," which I wouldn't assume every solver does."

I agree. That's what I was trying to say above in a less articulate way.

Nancy 4:34 PM  

@Will Shortz -- It's actually because of you that I'm on the Rexblog. I'm sure you don't remember this incident, but I certainly do. About 4 years ago, I called you at the NYT, and left you a message, complimenting you on a really offbeat, clever, intricate and challenging trick puzzle. It was one of the best puzzles I'd ever seen -- though I have absolutely no recollection now of what the puzzle was. I was completely GOBSMACKED when you called me back. Famous people never call unknown people back -- but you did. You were warm and you were charming, and you said: "You might enjoy some of these crossword puzzle blogs." You mentioned Wordplay and you mentioned Rex Parker. I'd been doing crosswords for years, but I had no idea that there was such a thing as a crossword puzzle blog. (Of course, I didn't get my first computer until December, 2008, so there's that too.) I decided to check it out, and since the Rex scrolling system is much, much easier to use than the Wordplay scrolling system, that's the blog I gravitated to. I had no idea at that point that I would make real friends here and that it would become an important part of my day. (If I had, I surely would have chosen a more colorful blog name than @Nancy.)

As I say, I found you a warm, charming, and very down to earth guy. I also think you've been a terrific plus for the NYT. I remember the puzzle back in the day when my mother was addicted to it. It had a lot of three-toed sloths in New Guinea (or wherever they're found) sorts of clues. You have made the puzzle much livelier, much more playful and much more colloquial. I do feel you sometimes way overdo the obscure and forgettable pop culture stuff, but by and large, the puzzle is lots more entertaining than it was before you became Editor. I thank you for all the hard work you do and for the sparkle you've added to it. I'm sure there are plenty people here who feel the same way.

@Chaos -- I am grateful for your response to my situation and I will email you back off-blog.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

Since when is DOC Gooden Doctor K?

Fresnel 5:27 PM  

Have to agree! On the other hand I did solve in about 30.

Teedmn 5:30 PM  

Thanks, Will, for visiting and taking the time to explain. I love doing the NY Times crossword!

Sherri Fogelman 6:11 PM  

Why???? Oh why??����
Seriously why?

Evan Jordan 6:28 PM  

Very interesting..., but kooky.

Ned White 6:36 PM  

After 2 absolute masterpieces by Matt Ginsberg and Byron Walden, this one made me feel weak in the knees. Couldn't continue with it. Now, having read Jeff Chen's notes and all the comments here, all I see is a monster disconnect between what the constructor wanted and what was published. Somewhere, something appalling went wrong. A great theme eviscerated, resulting in a super sub-par Sunday. Bloody shame. Congrats to the constructor on his debut, regardless. - Ned White

beatrice 7:24 PM  


Double oy vey! today - I came here to post just after Rex had out up the most recent batch of posts, so I saw Will's response here. (And it seems to me that it perhaps should have read 'I'm afraid Jeff Chen [and by extension, Martin Abresch] was mistaken...') Oh no, make that a triple - I just read the Wordplay blog (as I usu. do when a puzzle is esp. interesting or problematic). There Mr. Miccolis says that Nancy Salomon helped him early on, then referred him to Jeff Chen; he goes on to say: 'Jeff proved to be a tough sounding board, but incredibly generous and patient. While the theme entries, grid, fill and clues (before Will’s expert editing, anyway) were ultimately all mine, Jeff guided me through each step of the proper, systematic way to construct a puzzle.' Some real elucidation would be most welcome here, I imagine, to many of us; otherwise, it may just fester. This kind of thing has been an issue for a long time, (among others). But it just doesn't feel good. Yes, it's only a game, of a sort, but it is important to many of us, as many games are to many people. And it is a game of language, which for many folks (incl. me) is an emotionally sensitive thing in itself.

Speaking of feeling (not) good, the puzzle contains BEERS, so I thought it might be a good time to bring some of that here. Henry Purcell was one of the greatest (Western) 'classical' composers of them all; he was also an enthusiastic composer of 'catches' and other types of 'rounds', about drinking and other subjects. I'll quote from a website I found: 'Political, humorous, bawdy, occasionally even scatalogical (and, in two cases I know of, "cat"-alogical), the catch was one of the most popular forms of song from the mid-Sixteenth thru the late-nineteenth centurys. Catch Clubs were formed and at least three are still extant to this day, one in London, one in Boston and one in Belfast, which
was formed in 1680 by the lay vicars of Christ Church and St Patrick's Cathedrals...The catch is a round with the words and rests so arranged that upon performance a "hidden" part appears, or can be simply a round (rondo) of somewhat greater-than-normal complexity than your normal round. The best
catches combine magnificent musical composition with intricate and inventive poetry, and the best purveyor of this genre was Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695).'

'Come let us drink' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8klhpbMSZRQ

'Tis women makes us drink" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXm7tUse03E

'If all be true' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=934qRTVqvMY (great - sung by real people)

'I gave her cakes and I gave her ale' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvGp6FE8CHQ

I have to link to this version of the previous piece - it's a hoot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLxttSWZFZk

YouTube has a selection of rounds not on the subject of drinking, as well.

Pete 7:30 PM  

@W Shortz - You think the overall pleasure-average is pretty good? Go to Amy's and see how often the NYTimes has the highest average rating.

Allen Rucker 7:50 PM  

You're an idiot

Z 8:08 PM  

@Nancy - What @Chaos said. One year equals Seven dog years. One dog year equals 7 computer years.* Doing the math (7*7*8)... that makes your computer nearly 400 years old. Turning the computer (not just the screen) all the way off, waiting a good 20 seconds to make sure everything is off, and then starting the computer sometimes will fix this kind of problem. Try that first. If that doesn't work - call your favorite 12 year-old and see what they can do to help you. If the 12 year-old can't solve your problem it might be time to trade the dinosaur in for something younger and prettier.


@Will - I'm certainly not advocating fighting with anyone, blogger, commentariat, emailers, constructors. However, there are a lot of really smart people who read Rex and a few almost as smart people who comment on Rex. All of them do the puzzle you edit and care enough to talk about it ad infinitum. It wouldn't hurt to sort the wheat from the chaff. There is a business truism that if you aren't improving you are falling behind.








*I exaggerate, but not much.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Complaining about a crossword puzzle is the epitome of a first world problem. It never ceases to amaze me what some people get worked up over. Keep up the good work, Will.

GILL I. 9:17 PM  

Hey @Nancy...That was something....I LOVE a good story and that was truly one. Thank you...
@Z...I can always count on you. The arbiter of putative conundrums...:)

Masked and Anonymous 9:20 PM  

Maybe then clue the themers like this? …

{Apt double feature to succeed … "The Sixth Sense"?} = SAWTHEDEPARTED.
{ … "Ice Age"?} = FROZENWATERWORLD.
…etc.

Too clever an idea to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The Shortzmeister normally does great work, but I'd disagree -- havin 20-20 hindsight -- with his clue selection scheme, in this particular case.

Congratz to the constructioneer, on his debut. Sure hope he'll not be scared off, and will come back for more. SunPuz debut! Monty Python and Holy Grail, Batman!

Masked & Anonymo5Us

kitshef 9:51 PM  

@Nancy - I don't suppose there is a chance you remember the date of that puzzle?

Today's was Sunday-normal. Tedious and mostly easy. The clues not presented to NYT were indeed superior.

Not sure how knowing The Sixth Sense relates to the sunmitted clue is any different from knowing an actress ftomTogetherness, or the nfl QB fact, or that Namibia is arid.

JC66 10:50 PM  

@Anonymous 5:11PM

Gooden was the first pitcher for whom fans at the ballpark hung up a "K" each time he struck out a batter.

He became known as Doctor K; later shortened to Doc.

Leapfinger 11:01 PM  

EXEUNT, chased by BEERS

Aketi 11:22 PM  

Wow I missed a lot today by deciding to get up early instead of procrastinating by reading the blog this morning,

@Martin Abresch, personally preferred the version of the clues that you posted, regardless of what truth might be out there.

@Nancy, you aren't nearly as much of a computer Luddite ad my husband who still had a Wang word processor in 1997 when I first met him.

@z, I like your math. I'm going to use it to try to get my husband to give up his 400 year old Mac Book Pro. He used to keep his sneakers even longer than his computers, but he finally bought a new pair this year. I figure my husband's Wang might date back to the Paleolithic Era using your math.

Adam LePage 12:08 AM  

I don't necessarily agree with Mr.Shortz, regarding this particular puzzle, but I can see his reasoning. And I appreciate him responding.

It's hard to believe someone just pulled those clues out of their arse; they are each better than the all given clues.

Normal junk aside, I would have liked two more themers, considering it's a Sunday and there are such a wide range of possibilities. This would have been a solid five or six themer Wednesday, albeit with shorter double features.

Adam LePage 12:19 AM  

Also - "Saw The Departed" and "Big Conspiracy Theory" seem awfully imbalanced, compared to the other themers. "Saw" and "Big" are certainly well known, but who hasn't Seen The Fugitive, or been left in a Big Home, Alone? I really wanted to like this puzzle.

I skip M-W 4:22 AM  

very, very late comment. I used to do Sundays, but in recent years have mostly found them too easy, and uninteresting.Was doing something very tedious today to help my wife run for office, so thought maybe puzzle would be a good diversion. It wasn't. Boring. I rarely agree with Rex, but this had no sparkle or challenge at all. And @Joseph Michael, I haven't seen Rocky either and don't intend to.
Still, people who are trying to make their mark on the world would be much better advised to work on x-words to submit to the Times than shooting people down or running them over with trucks.

Don 5:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tita A 8:35 AM  

Oh, @Aketi - did you really just feed that straight line to this blog and survive unscathed??
"I figure my husband's Wang might date back to the Paleolithic Era using your math."
Did you never read my posts about my politically incorrect formative years at Wang Labs?

Wow - stay away for a few days, and all hell breaks loose in puzzledom.

Yes, the "original" clues elevate this puzzle.

Yes, I appreciate the comments on both sides, and especially thank Will for stepping in.

And even though it's way late, can't help but jump in.

@Will - agree with much of what you say, except for 2 things:
"Pretty good" ain't what we pay for.
See @kitshef 9:51pm for why argument about knowing something about each movie doesn't hold water.


@Z 8:08pm to Will - extremely well-said.

Mr. Miccolis - congrats on your debut.

dennis gallagher 12:08 PM  

No mention that Boris was born in New York City and therefore eligible to be Trump's running mate?

Cassieopia 4:05 PM  

If your problem isn't already fixed, @nancy, have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again? (Extra credit to anyone getting the reference). Hold the power button down for at least 10 seconds if the machine doesn't respond to you trying to turn it off.

Whatever its faults, this blog is NEVER boring.

Rina 7:46 AM  

I do the puzzle to relax, which is why I might begin a day or three late. Anyway, after MEATCASE this was sure to be a masterpiece. And Rex, quit picking on Will, you NATTERing nabob of negativism.

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  

FURRY MEATCASE XTRA, PARTA XEDIN

ASTO that NOTORIOUSKINGPIN BORIS, I'MIMPRESSED,
he has WITTY ERICAKANE for his MISTRESS.
She CHEX his ITSY PIPEORGAN and laughed,
though AROUSEd by his PEANUTS SHAFT,
she STAYEDPUT and ORDEREDIN an ANAL request.

--- ANITA "ROSY" UTERUS

spacecraft 11:37 AM  

Whether the editors received @Martin Abresch's version or not, it is infinitely more elegant than the published one. I can't wait to do a MA puzzle. ASTO the fill, while admittedly ROCKY in places, overall I don't think it's as bad as OFL paints.

My man Stephen King provided the FIRESTARTER for me. As Sundays go it was on the easy side for me; a few sticking points, so I agree with the rating. I am, shall we say, not abreast of drag attire, thus I had to try WIGS and BRAS (not try ON, please!) before settling on BOAS. Further confusion was assuming (you know what that does) Gooden's nickname to be Doc. At last I was able to decipher that BEERS were losing their heads, and that made sense out of the -ING portion of 116-across. Tough parsing that one. DRK, of course.

In the NW, I had to trust my acrosses, because other than TARSI the downs were ?????s. DOD is timeless beauty Susan Lucci as ERICAKANE. Ignoring for the moment shorter fill garbage like XTRA and XEDIN, I have to say IMIMPRESSED with some of the longer stuff. With the Abresch clues this would have been an easy par; as it is, bogey.

rain forest 3:06 PM  

Ha ha. Hilarious how the blog has been taken over by a BIG CONSPIRACY THEORY.
Who wrote what clues, and when? Who really knows who knew what? Kind of like trying to find the guy/gal who plagiarized Michele Obama's speech for Melania Trump. Somebody's head should roll, I say!

So much controversy over a crossword puzzle. I know, I know, some people take these things seriously, and maybe on a xword blog it is appropriate, but really people, get some perspective. You may be electing a disaster for a president soon. Worry about that.

Thanks to Will Shortz for hanging in there as a force for good. I think the NYT puzzle pleases most of the people most of the time, except for Mr. Crankypants and a few others whose seeming sole purpose is to rag on the NYT puzzle and to praise other puzzle collections that I will never see. It's not helpful. Interesting scenario, though, where a newspaper runs a daily puzzle and someone decides to author a blog in which he will comment on the solving experience but ends up skewering the very source of his blog. Weird.

As for the puzzle, I liked it. It went very smoothly for me, and unlike many Sundays, wasn't a slog. Some great cluing, and a theme that was, while not knee-slapping, was tight and gettable. The things I didn't know, I got from crosses (had to pause at the CARRE/MITRAL cross, and guessed), and I was pleased to finish in a relatively snappy time. Liked it. Just to put in my vote, I think the "phantom clues" would have moved the enjoyment factor up a notch, but it's fine as it is.

Diana,LIW 5:07 PM  

Today's blog tells the interesting story of the long and winding journey of one little crossword puzzle. Whew!

Had a funny review of the review in my head, but I think I'll let it stay there. Suffice to say, this review has been done before. Add your own comments.

I Naticked in the NW - two sports players, a research org., and a Spanish motto. Oh well.

Whilst I agree that the "alternative" clues were a bit superior, I liked the puzzle just the way it was. A lot of smiles, and the conceit helped with my solve. IMIMPRESSED and in AWE of all constructors who get to the NYT level. Having recently done a bunch of true slog puzzles elsewhere, I am re-appreciating the Times. I'm not sayin' I'm the re-appreciatingest (or NERDIEST?) person here, just giving props to the constructor and editor. But my view tends to be ROSY.

Must say, though, that there was great disappointment in WaitingLand when NovaLox didn't fit into 7-A. However, it did show up on the menu at our Hollywood hotel's restaurant this week.

TATA When I'm away from the puz for a few days, A MISH you!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 6:13 PM  

Have to agree with Rex's P.P.S. A real desecration of the submitted clues. Too bad.

Anyhow, worked my way through and was able to make some sense of the wreckage, moving pretty smoothly through most of the puzzle until the middle South side.

There, foiled by three downs: RAI, DRK, and especially EXEUNT. They blocked my seeing NOTORIOUS.

I call foul on RA_I. Bill Butler points out that there was no RA_I, only a RA and a RAII.

Mets pitcher Gooden I knew only as "Doc" Gooden, not DRK, but I can see why some fans called him that.

EXEUNT is just too obscure for me. Wanted EXleft.

Still, I didn't mind the usual Sunday slog so much this time, even had some fun with it, until getting mugged on the south side.

PanurgeJr 8:25 PM  

You consider it your profession to personally bash people?

Slash 8:41 PM  

Would the contructor care to clear the air . . . (maybe only if he doesn't mind a "one and done" legacy).

Nancy, try going to 1)task manager 2)processes and then look under memory, to see what program if any is hogging system resources (i.e., creating time lag). There should be a description of the program and how many K it is taking. My first thought was you have a virus but a computer that old may be suffering dementia ....

rondo 9:59 PM  

Yeah, alotta what others have said about the "original" cluing intent. Whatever it was.

Didn't read above.DID anyone say anything about the whole answer being contained in the clue for NAS???? Normally that would disqualify the whole puz, no matter what Will says about editorial integrity. Red card, black flag, heave-ho or any other signal that it's over for you.

I fail to give a yeah baby to any Kardashian-related person. Can't we somehow rid the culture of them? Or are they just the modern day Gabors who never go away? History repeats. So all of us geezers can explain that it's nothing new, but nobody else will understand. Happy Duck Dynasty to you all. STOP . . . . . !

Liked seeing SHAFT on top of UTERUS which preceded ANAL, but @BS has covered that.

EXEUNT looks like two DOS or BASIC or FORTRAN commands stuck together that might start something you don't want. But DR.K was a gimme. RAI sucks. Two days in a row I found something that sucks. Get off my lawn.

Probably crabby because vacation ends tomorrow. If you call driving through IL & WI all day vacation. This puz was a ROCKYSLEEPER as is. Maybe it could have been improved with the other clues, who knows? I got through it without suffering a rebus. For that I'm grateful. Peace, love and hoochi.

Sailor 10:09 PM  

ASYE RIP LGS RIO SAT. ANAL ILE PEET XTRA. SAP ERR TOM ARC. ARID MEIS TRE ASTO. AWE EEE ENS XEDIN EPA. IDOS ITSY. INE AER TOW CRO ANKH. ICY ORLE. SLRS DID IRE NAS PEA. ISMS HOP TER ODD. DRK OCD RAI IKE NRA. Eek.

Dad 10:53 AM  

Since forever

Jentaps 5:11 PM  

I'm with you, @nancy. I like WS, and enjoy doing the puzzle every day. Thanks for your upbeat comment.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Sounds like a bunch of egotists to me.!

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