Gangland rival of Dutch Schultz / WED 8-31-16 / Victims of Morlocks in sci-fi / Mineral used for insulation / Bow-toting deity

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy (maybe Easy-Medium)

THEME: MAKE IT LAST (62A: "Use this sparingly" ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — familiar phrases have "IT" tacked on to the end; wacky clues follow:

Theme answers:
  • YES WE CAN IT (17A: Hormel's assurance that Spam is packed safely?)
  • SWING BANDIT (29A: Playground equipment thief?)
  • SHORT STOP IT (38A: "Enough!" as opposed to "You quit that right now!"?)
  • EMILY POST IT (48A: "Miss Dickinson, put your poem on Facebook"?)
Word of the Day: LEGS DIAMOND (25D: Gangland rival of Dutch Schultz) —
Jack "Legs" Diamond (born John Thomas Diamond; July 10, 1897 – December 18, 1931), also known as Gentleman Jack, was an Irish American gangster in Philadelphia and New York City during the Prohibition era. A bootlegger and close associate of gambler Arnold Rothstein, Diamond survived a number of attempts on his life between 1916 and 1931, causing him to be known as the "clay pigeon of the underworld". In 1930, Diamond's nemesis Dutch Schultz remarked to his own gang, "Ain't there nobody that can shoot this guy so he don't bounce back?" (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a conceptual disaster. First, you can put "IT" on the end of seemingly infinite phrases, so who cares? Second, there is Zero consistency to how the "IT" addition, and the cluing, are done today. CAN IT is a phrase meaning STOP IT (?), but it's clued as "put stuff in a can." STOP IT is a phrase meaning STOP IT and it is clued ... as STOP IT. So ... no attempt to clue it differently. But then POST IT, which is only a thing when hyphenated, is (like CAN IT) clued in a way that takes it away from its familiar meaning (here, just "put something on Facebook"). And then there's BANDIT, which is the outlier of outliers, being the only really interesting version of this theme (where "IT" is added To Create An Entirely New Word). So ... I don't understand why the CAN IT and POST-IT answers didn't get clues related to those actual, stand-alone terms (when STOP IT did get such a clue) and I don't understand why BANDIT is so sad and alone when it's the only one that's actually doing its job, i.e. being interesting. Coulda done stuff with, DIGIT, CUBIT, LEGIT, ORBIT, PERMIT (!?! why is that word in this grid!? No "IT"-enders in non-theme words! That's just sloppy), PULPIT ... pfff. Pretty maddening how poorly executed this theme is.

The fill is also subpar today. BEAHERO!? (42D: Come to the rescue) Yipes. If you're going to do something that iffy, go all in and clue it ["Billy, Don't ___"]. Song partial! It shows you don't care ... With Gusto.

APA ADE ELOI ANO INT OTYPE :( Things just aren't working today. I actually really like MERCH (5A: Stuff for sale at concerts), and (even though it slowed me right down) LEGS DIAMOND. Not much else about this was pleasing. Wanted TAX AUDITORS instead of IRS AUDITORS (which is my bad—"tax" is in the clue—but TAX AUDITORS does outgoogle "IRS AUDITORS" 3-to-1). Otherwise, no issues anywhere. Sub-4 minute time on a Wednesday is def. on the fast side for me. I can tell you with some assurance that tomorrow's puzzle is a good one. See you then.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ellen S 12:14 AM  

I found it easy, enjoyed the theme more than @Rex, but I'm just not as analytical. I had some trouble with 5A, wanted t-shirts, or, um, pennants, or beanies (you can tell I don't go to concerts) then when I got the "H" at the end, I thought ...trasH? That sounded good to me, just shlock, another way to separate you from your money. Then I finally got "MERCH" and severely lost interest.

And then for a while for 42D I had BEtHERe, which meant the Track figures were eDDS. Again, I don't play the ponies much (at all) (once went to the track with my father when I was about 13)(actually picked a winner and he placed the bet for me, the ODDS were pretty good on her, but not spectacular, not enough to buy us lunch, for instance, but better than losing)(Newtown Girl was the name of the horse)(and that's all I know about racing). So I just accepted eDDS, figuring, oh, wel Edd "Kookie" Byrnes was probably a familiar figure at some racetrack, just another piece of trivia I don't know. Turns out it was a piece of wrong information I didn't know. And "Be there" isn't exactly coming to the rescue, but sometimes it's as good as you're going to get.

jae 12:19 AM  

Easy for me too with only @Rex MERCH needing a brief stare. It did take me a couple of tries to spell CHIANG right. Mostly agree with @Rex one this one, although IMPALED is a fine word.

Trombone Tom 12:28 AM  

What #jae said.

Trombone Tom 12:30 AM  

What @jae said.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Legs is just a fabulous name, Legs Diamond made my evening.

David Krost 1:00 AM  

You completely lost me with your rant about Post-it notes. If someone pinned an announcement or advertisement to a cork board in a hallway, a person could quite naturally ask "Did you post it?". Same thing for an announcement on-line. I have no idea what the fact there there is a product with that name has to do with anything.

Otherwise I actually agree with the critique of this puzzle. Weak theme, banal fill, very easy.

Anoa Bob 1:08 AM  

If I wrote to Hormel asking for "assurance that Spam is packed safely", and they wrote back YES WE CAN IT, I would think they must have misunderstood me because that reply doesn't even acknowledge that safety was at the heart of the question, let alone answer it. Does that work for any of you out there in comment land? I must be missing something because it sounds nonsensical to me, and I know that can't be right. Help me out here, I'm starting to feel a little RADAR ANGER.

Larry Gilstrap 1:09 AM  

More obscure US geography? I've actually heard of IDAHO. They have a Moscow there and that is where the drink was invented, I made that part up. No EDAM ID, to my knowledge. I grew up near L.A., so haters used the epithet University of Spoiled Children. Not me, because I loved USC football and UCLA basketball, I'm with you win or tie. Because I was stranded on the Left Coast, EDY'S is still a whatever, and bagels and Alpo and A&P and all kinds of exotic stuff that never made it over the Great Divide. I had my first piece of pizza when I was about 10 sitting in a car at a burger drive-in on Route 66. My parents were bemused. That Gulf Coast area was pretty smutty, IMHO. Trying to MAKE IT LAST has become a mantra, but SEX crossing TEXT and hooters and the original sin of EDEN? One nit: I like baseball, but SHORTSTOP IT?

Loren Muse Smith 3:17 AM  

I took the Hormel clue as assuring that Spam is packed safely because they can it (to last a long time without getting bacteria) as opposed to just packaging it without preserving it.

I was tooling along, enjoying the themers (of course), trying them out loud to get a feel for how they work, when I finally allowed myself to look at the reveal. What a terrific reveal. I. Love. This. Reveal.

My favorite was SHORT "STOP IT." I'm honing my classroom management skills and plan to have my short "stop it" being a subtle raised eyebrow. If only.

Sure, BANDIT is the outlier, but after a little digging, I would think that creating phrases with IT-final words is harder than it looks...

SHIN DIGIT – now there's a troublesome image. After eating too much tainted Spam, a thumb started growing out of Adam's lower leg. Dontcha hate it when that happens?
ABS ORBIT – hmm. Some kind of hula clue?
LEGIT - ??

I didn't mind BE A HERO at all. I guess the more common phrase is "don't be a hero," but BE A HERO tickled me. Hey, Bob. Be a hero and go get my wallet back from that honey badger, K?


I'm with @Ellen S – I'm not as analytical as Rex and enjoyed this. And like @David Krost – I don't understand the issue with POST IT. I kept revisiting that after I read the write up and buy that there is some kind of deal with the way it's clued, but I just can't get my mind around it. Whatever the case, I liked the surprise of seeing POST IT after EMILY.

Ned – repurposing MAKE IT LAST was worth the price of admission. Good one!

Martín Abresch 4:28 AM  

Nice revealer. Liked MERCH (Stuff for sale at concerts), liked LEGS DIAMOND (Gangland rival of Dutch Schultz), liked the trivia clue for IDAHO (State bordering British Columbia), and liked the clever clue for SPY (One may bug you). Dislike O-TYPE because I have only ever heard it as TYPE O.

@Loren Muse Smith - <3 SHIN DIGIT. I too went digging for potential theme answers in the BANDIT vein, and I too was surprised at how few I found.


I suspect that there's probably a decent one or two that involve MERIT, but I couldn't find one that really grabbed me.

Also, SHORT "STOP IT" was my least favorite of the theme answers. The clue seemed really labored to me.

Anonymous 6:28 AM  

Stupid rheme, stupid puzzle. "MERCH" was horrible. Again, next.


smalltowndoc 6:42 AM  

@rex: I don't understand your complaint re: "post it". As clued, it is two separate words, not a hyphenated word: Post it on Facebook."
Otherwise, pretty much agree with you. Except, I disliked this puzzle even more than you.

O TYPE is just wrong. It's "type O."

And SHORT STOP IT, just really reaching. Not funny or cute, just desperate.

ANO as clued is a horrible partial (is there such a thing as a "good" partial?) Usually that's clued as if it was Spanish for "year". I guess the editor took to heart complaints that "n" and "ñ" are not the same letter.

And last, but not least, ONS. That falls in the category of answers that are "Turn OFFS".

By the way, I didn't think BE A HERO was a real phrase without being preceded by "Don't ". But Google prooves me wrong. There are actually a few organizations that use that phrase as a tag line.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Tried to make LEGSakimbo fit, but it turns out there is no such person.

Tried to make EMILYliSTIT work, realizing even as I tried that it didn’t really work.

Those were the only hiccups in an otherwise interruption-free solve.

OTYPE – no, it’s TYPE O. BIDET next to EAU de toilette was cute.

Otherwise, pretty much what @Rex said (but without the criticism of theme consistency).

Hungry Mother 7:20 AM  

Very fast Wednesday for me. The theme was a help in getting it quickly.

Tim Pierce 7:28 AM  

I enjoyed it, but I already know I'm not as demanding as Rex, so there's that.

I did wonder about the clue for EMILY POST IT. Emily Post, as an etiquette columnist, had much to say about the writing of "notes", and a POST-IT is a specific kind of "note," so that seemed to me to cry out for a clue that combined the two answers. It makes me wonder if this clue was written along those lines but rewritten at the editor's desk. "Sticky response from a classic etiquette columnist?" something like that. I dunno.

Passing Shot 7:38 AM  

@Anoa Bob -- agree with you on the Hormel clue. No relation between the answer phrasse and the clue.

Also, no one says OTYPE. This made me lose some time. Liked MERCH. Overall, way too easy for a Wednesday.

Sarah Michaels 7:49 AM  

Rex's "post it" comments are the most wrong he's ever been on this blog. Pure gratuitous drivel.

AliasZ 7:51 AM  

Too bad BULLSH is not a word.

LEGIT DIAMOND would have been great if he had only one leg, and it wasn't cubic zirconia. I would have liked something clever with church PEWIT, bus DEPOSIT, or the retired old PROFIT and loss.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

No BS 7:56 AM  

I've read that the tennis term "love" is a slight corruption of the French phrase "l'oeuf", meaning "the egg" used, like goose egg (or bagel, apparently) as a metaphor for zero, 'cause it looks like one.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I don't think POST IT is supposed to reference the noun POST-IT but the verb post as in the act of adding content in Facebook. But I'm not an English professor, so what do I know. And CAN is also a verb. The only theme problem I had, and it's a big one is with BANDIT which is the only one-word "IT" ending.

Beyond that, the fill was terribly dead and old. Is it a rule of crossword construction that you're only allowed to reuse the same fill over-and-over? EROS, ASAP, EDEN, ELOI, etc. etc.

And who the heck is LEGSDIAMOND and why does he get 11 letters in this puzzle? The constructor explains in the NYT Wordplay blog: "One note about what I’ve seen evolve with themed puzzles in the last few years: The grid should feature at least two, if not four, lengthy non-theme Down entries (10 or 11 letters) crossing through two or three themers to keep the word count down and spice up the fill." Is this true? I haven't noticed and it seems like a lazy way to compensate for bad theme entries and a plethora or over-used three and four-letter words.

Tita A 8:05 AM  

Once again, I agree with the technical part of Rex's critique.
Though I also agree with @lms...CANning something is in fact a preservation can put that string bean harvest in a jar, but if you want it to last till post-apocalypse, you had better CANIT.
I really don't like the inconsistency in the themers, and also thought it sloppy to have IT invited to the grid sans theme.

PEAT has the highest concentration of carbon of any other fuel source. That's why it's a terrible fuel source. That, and the fact that it "renews" at the rate of 1mm/year.

Hilarious timing with TEXT/SEX and the OWLET clue.

Our barred OWLET fledglings have finally stopped screeching for their parents to bring them food. About time they got out and fended for themselves.

Nancy 8:10 AM  

Any puzzle that has MERCH in it can't be all that good. On the other hand, any puzzle that has EMILY POST-IT in it can't be all that bad. And here's a puzzle that doesn't skew old or young, but instead -- what with HOT TUB and BIDET -- skews rich. I found it mildly diverting, with the emphasis on mildly. I certainly wouldn't turn up my NOSE at it, but I might raise one slightly skeptical BROW.

G. Weissman 8:12 AM  

Yep, a bidet is surely a bathroom fixture in American homes.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Had the A and I reversed in CHIANG which really held me up for a while -- the revealer in this case gave me exactly what I needed. Not sure why some don't like MERCH -- it's one of those spiffy terms like "swag" that is often used by those who traffic in it (e.g., musicians doing a gig will tell the audience to come look at their MERCH, meaning CDs and t-shirts, etc.). Expected Rex to hate the theme (he rarely handles wackiness well) but to give the puzzle high marks for its fill. Oh well, wrong on that.

I found it peppy and fun. Thanks Mr. White!

RAD2626 8:21 AM  

I thought the revealer made the puzzle and excused the criticisms that have been levied against it. For me, fifteen minutes of amusement with really no rough spots except for the BEtHERe and eDDS issue. Not memorable but certainly pleasant.

Charles Flaster 8:24 AM  

Liked this one and quite straightforward.
Best cluing was EMILY POST IT.
BROW was also nicely clued.
Thanks NW

NCA President 8:26 AM  

Two issues for me that made this otherwise easy solve a little stickier: LEGSDIAMOND with that PEGS crossing and I had an airball missing the net instead of the RIM (the exact opposite of an airball, a swish, also misses the RIM, but whatever). Having "net" in there made the whole thing kinda believable: IRSAUITIOnS (which, in a themed puzzle could work), VeE for going head to head (think Roe [vee] Wade), and the only clunker that should have tipped me off was Ets for emergency personnel.

Otherwise, Rex was dead on with the inconsistency of the themes...the inconsistency was definitely factoring into the solve. It didn't mess it up as much as it made it really clunky.

I didn't know that picnic baskets were "HAMPERS." I don't usually put my dirty clothes in a picnic basket. my actual last name. So today I pretended that I was famous enough to get into an NYT xword puzzle.

Pretty easy except for those snags mentioned.

mathgent 8:55 AM  

Unlike many of us, I miss Rex's grades. So let me offer mine (based on how much I enjoyed it and how much it didn't annoy me). C.

Lewis 8:58 AM  

I figured Rex would give a damn it, and he did not disappoint.

@ellen -- Did you see that backward EEL?

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Don't know squat about BIDETs.

Wm. C. 9:02 AM  

As @Anon8:17 says, "Merchant" is a common term of art for those in the event marchandising business (including my son), but I don't think that it's well-known outside this small community, so the complaints have some validity.

@NoBS7:56 -- Thanks for the explanation of "Love" in tennis -- sounds plausible. Interestingly, I just happened to wonder where that term came from as I was filing it in, having no idea that the answer would surface here!

As to @Rex's diatribe, I don't get it, but I may be mission get the point here. The trick here has to do with the ENTIRE fill preceding "it" being a stand-alone phrase, not just the preceding word. That is, for example, the trick at 17a is the common phrase "Yes we can!" before "it," and has nothing to do with the word pair "Can It." Similarly, "Swing Band," "Shortstop," and "Emily Post." Am I missing @Rex's point here?

Wm. C. 9:05 AM  

Oops, damned spell check. It's "Merch" in my above post, of course. Gr-r-rrr!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I had only the middle "e" in 54 across already filled in, so when I glanced at the clue my firsy thought was "Rex".

Churlish Nabob 9:10 AM  

"Pure gratuitous drivel"

David 9:12 AM  

As someone who expressed the same critique of "Emily, post it" on Twitter last night before Rex's write-up, I'll try to help explain the criticism for those who indicated they didn't understand Rex's comment. If you understood but disagreed, by the way, that's fine---FYI, this is largely for folks who just didn't get where Rex was coming from in the first place. In other words, while I'm happy to persuade anyone, if you understood and just disagreed with him, I'm not trying to tell you you're wrong for enjoying it or accuse you of not getting it. Given the gap between comments, that seemed worth front-loading so I don't come back later to accidental e-IRE.

Yes, "post it" is a valid verb phrase meaning to put something on social media. It is therefore also an accurate response to the clue about Dickinson and Facebook. I don't take Rex to have been disputing any of that. But unlike "stop it" and "can it," the phrase "post it" is not a particularly special or recognizable phrase. "Can it" is a special idiom," and "stop it" is extremely common and hangs together as a unit very well as a result. "Post it," on the other hand, is a thing you can say but likely doesn't hold a special place in your lexicon, beyond just being a combination of "post" and "it." That is what Rex meant by it being "only a thing" when hyphenated---yes, it's fine linguistically, but it's not a special idiom or standalone phrase like the other two. So it's fine, but it's not great or special.

On its own, that'd just make a theme answer that didn't pop. But the irony is that "Post-It" with a hyphen actually is a special name that everyone is extremely familiar with. The criticism isn't any of a disconnect between clue and answer; that we're reading the answer improperly as hyphenated; or that "post it" doesn't mean "post it to Facebook." It's valid, or valid enough, at least. The criticism is that "Post-It" provides an opportunity for a much stronger theme answer, and a much poppier clue/answer pair, but the puzzle doesn't take advantage it. And it's not an issue of "you could have come up with better theme answers," either---the poppier theme answer is already in the grid, and it's hard (for some of us, at least) to see that answer without noticing the "Post-It" possibility, so all it would have taken is a clue like "Reminder on Dickinson's desk, maybe" to noticeably improve the answer. As it's one of the themers that gets lots of attention, and not just a random answer somewhere in the grid, pointing out how clues or clue/answer pairs could have been improved feels like a fair critique, and for me, at least, this one jumped out at me---not looking for things to complain about, I filled in the answer, then had to double-take back to the clue because I wondered if I had missed a hint about Post-It notes in there.

Also agreed about SWING BANDIT suggesting a theme that would have generally been fresher and funnier. If not for the "MAKE IT LAST" revealer, my favorite of Rex's suggestions in that direction would be pulp for PULPIT FICTION.

Mohair Sam 9:14 AM  

Kind of agree with @Rex today - although not nearly as angry about the theme. Think he kind of messed up on the Post-it thing, but I too would have liked to see more consistency in the "IT" endings.

I'm guessing MERCH is popular slang for folks who buy stuff at concerts or who work in the trade - new one to me - I was thinking the clue should have shown an abbreviation. Used to work trade shows on one job and we called our giveaways "trash and trinkets", so I threw TRASH right in there. Oops.

@Anoa Bob - A thousand Yeses to your Hormel letter. For heaven's sake you cannot go into a supermarket and buy Spam outside of a freaking can. And a lot of people have died eating spoiled food from a can. Lousy clue.

@Ellen S - Yup, BEtHERe too (I figured Will had fallen in love with the phrase). Wondered for a minute or two if there was a TPA we hadn't heard of. And this guy who misspent much of his youth at Belmont Park and Roosevelt Raceway was trying to figure what eDDS were at the track.

Lewis 9:18 AM  

@m&A -- I know you can come up with a theme answer with PEWIT.

Some nice answers next to each other: SALTY/NUT, BIDET/EAU, and NOSES/RAN. As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I am obligated and pleased to report that this puzzle has an unusually low double letter count (3). Anything under five is rare indeed.

The puzzle felt easy, and other good theme answers, for me, are hard to come up with. If @AliasZ couldn't come up with a list, it must be hard. Though there weren't sparkling clues and answers (though, like someone mentioned earlier, I did like IMPALED), the puzzle jump-started my brain, and for that I am very grateful!

chefbea 9:22 AM  

what a fun puzzle. I really enjoyed it!!! We always have a can of spam in the cupboard just in case a hurricane hits!!!!

jberg 9:23 AM  

I didn't understand how to parse 38A until I read @LMS, but now I like it. And while if you look at the origins of the word 'shortstop' I guess the stop part does mean stop, if you consider the actual word it isn't really the same sense in the clued answer and the wacky phrase, so I think @Rex overdoes the inconsistency. BANDIT is still different though, of course.

I had no idea about ADAM Lambert, so I was thinking about Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Fortunately, I didn't remember (if I ever knew) that that Lambert was named Dave had I done so I would have been in real trouble.

What I learned from crosswords: that SHEL Silverstein, best known (at least to parents) as author of "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends" also wrote "A Boy Named Sue." Just the lyrics, or did he write the music as well?

kitshef 9:24 AM  

@mathgent - I liked the grades, but needed more information. Was the idea that there should be 20% Fs, 20% Ds, 20% Cs, etc. Or a bell curve with 6.25% Fs, 25% Ds, 37.5% Cs, etc. Or the Modern High School with 70% As 25% Bs, and 5% C-D-Fs. And were we comparing just within the NYT world, or with all the puzzles @Rex does regularly? I think it should be the former, but it felt like if there was a particularly nice puzzle @Rex solved elsewhere, the NYT grade that day would suffer by comparison.

Hartley70 9:28 AM  

None of Rex's complaints bothered me in the least. In fact, his favorite entry MERCH, was the only one that raised my brow in disapproval. At the time, I thought it should have been clued as an abbreviation. Now that I see that it's used as slang at rock concerts, it's fine with me.

HAMPERS are picnic baskets to the Brits. BIDETS are bathroom fixtures in Europe. Add OUI and the PISAn airport and I felt an itch to travel, although I'd prefer to land at Malpensa, myself.

I have no idea why people are confusing POST IT with Post-It notes. I post things online all the time, including here. Yesterday it took me two hours to get Google or blogger or whoever runs the show to let me POSTIT here!

Put a word here. Move some letters from here to there. There's a physicality to some recent themes. I noticed that more than any cluing inconsistency today.

This seemed to be spot on for a Wednesday. The fact that I didn't know LEGSDIAMOND, PENA, or that MICA was used for insulation, and had forgotten the RENT Genesis made this sufficiently interesting but not too difficult.

Now, I'm excited! I hope tomorrow's puzzle lives up to Rex's hype.

Numinous 9:51 AM  

Awww, come on! Everybody knows that crosswords generally ignore things like -s and ~s (hyphens and tildes). I guess I'd like to see AÑO crossed with jalapeño or mañana but we all know that ain't gonna happen (watch tomorrow's "good" puzzle prove me wrong now). So, is an EMILY POST IT a little pad of sticky notes in the shape of a profile or is a a command? Does it really matter? The instruction is to stick IT on the end of stuff. I'm nowhere near as critical as @Rex and some of y'all. If a puzzle is "cute" or a little "quirky" it's fine with me.

MAKE IT LAST kinda bothered me, mebbe I wanted the IT to be last there too, I dunno. I just felt 'SPYed' on. SWING BANDIT got a chuckle then an "Oh, wait" from me. My initial thought was the totally unrelated Hamburgler who just stuck in my head. Now I'm wondering if there are still SWING BANDs around along with SWING joints. I remember reading up on them a while back when the styles of dance were divided east and west with the clubs in NYC being long and narrow and the west coast clubs being more spacious.

It took me a moment to figure out DIAMOND after getting LEGS. Moran came to mind even though I knew it was wrong and wouldn't fit anyway.

There was some crappy fill as @Rex and y'all have pointed out but I reckon the cluing on a lot of it saved it some. Mr. White mentions that he is less enamored of partials than he once was and apologizes for the lack of "Freshness Factor" in this puzzle. So far, 80% of his puzzles have been themeless. I'm ready to see what he comes up with next not that he thinks he's more critical.

Unabashed Plug brought on by SWING BAND: If you like jazz and have a radio app like TunIn, check out ABC Jazz from Australia, No commercials and practically no talking 24 hours a day.

Leapfinger 9:52 AM  

Reddit and wept.

Carola 9:56 AM  

Liked it. I didn't mind the Variety Pack of theme answers: as long as you're going to be wacky, you might as well be wacky all over the place. I thought it helped keep the puzzle interesting with the little surprises of how IT was going to show up next.

Besides the grid felicities others have noted, I also liked the a-e-i-o-u vowel gathering in EAU x OUI.

GILL I. 9:59 AM  

Woof....This crowd is tough today.
I really enjoyed this romp. Man, I JUST DON'T look for inconsistencies because maybe I'm a simple cretin. The only thing that made my BROW go up a little was the clue for SWING BANDIT. I just didn't get that one.
EMILY POST IT was durn fun. Nothing bothered me, not even BIDET or SEX. It was all fun...
What's the difference between A SAP and ASAP?

Numinous 10:01 AM  

@Jberg, yeah, Dave Lambert gave me pause and I'm a L,H,&R fan. First came across them as Lambert Hendricks and Bavan at the Monterey Jazz Festival in around 1963, shortly after Annie Ross had left.

And now, a little SHEL Silverstein:

We've just been eaten by a quick-digesting Sneet.
And now we are dodging his molars.
Now we are roamin' his lower abdomen,
And now we're back out on the street.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

SHORTSTOPIT was terrible.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

@David 9:12 - If you're going to be all rational and clear you're going to take all the fun out of calling @Rex names and telling him he's wrong.

David 10:41 AM  

By the way, since MERCH is getting so much attention, folks may enjoy this oldie from Penny Arcade, which I think is how I first learned the term: I think I use the word now generally for merchandise, having assumed it was a general shortening that everyone used---apparently not!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

This horror would have been more interesting if "IT" was Stephen King's clown, popping up to ruin the NY Times puzzle. Come to think of it, maybe it was!

mathgent 10:51 AM  

@kitshef (9:24). I presume that Rex's grades were based on the universe of NYT puzzles. He gave high grades to puzzles which weren't in the same class of some of the other puzzles he works. BTW, do high schools really have the grade inflation you outlined?

Roo Monster 10:52 AM  

Hey All !
Actually got a chuckle out of the themers. Except the "outlier" SWING BANDIT. Fill on the ANO side, but all puzs have some bad fill. Surprised no ones complained about SEX, which I thought also cleverly clued. NE corner kinda tricky here. Fell into BEtHERe trap.

@Anon 9:01, now That was funny!


G.Harris 10:56 AM  

NCA President you have it wrong. A swish also misses the rim and is "all net", it doesn't miss the net. I now understand that the comments in this blog range between constructors and plain users. Rex and other constructors tend to be very analytical, technical and overly critical. The rest of us usually just enjoy the exercise,especially when we can finish.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Agree with the OTYPE groans. Nobody but nobody says that. MERCH is pretty hip/rad/cool/whatever for NYT. "Birds and bees" for SEX is not, actually lame. With all the PC on T "You get to choose yours" or "It's all in your head" would have worked.

Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

Don't agree with Rex's overanalysis of the MAKE IT LAST theme, which seems pretty simple snd straightforward to me.

Thought the puzzle was only OK. Liked EMILY, POST IT the best of the themers and LEGS DIAMOND the best of the nonthemers.

Hated MERCH, which I couldn't believe was an actual word as I filled it in.

Had a little trouble spelling CHIANG which I had initially entered as "Chaing."

Think of HAMPERS as places for dirty laundry not picnic lunches. And, though I have been in thousands of bathrooms in the U.S., I have yet to encounter one with a BIDET.

No LOVE or ROSES for this puzzle, but it wasn't a piece of SLOP either.

Paul Johnson 11:06 AM  

Dodged an Obama bullet on YESWECANIT. Then again maybe that's the update for the WPOMLT*

*worst pres of my life time

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

@Tita A,

I'm so jealous you have barred owls. They might be my faves ( Don't see saw whets often enough to know).
I'm guessing there aren't a lot of hunters on the board, but permit struck me as not quite right. Every state I hunt in requires a license.

And I liked the puzzle. Just seeing Spam made me smile.

phinneas 11:29 AM  

Agree with Rex about SWING BANDIT, also liked YES WE CAN IT despite being my last to fill in because I was expecting a two word phrase... some more inconsistency there. Other two themers were garbage IMO but at least the revealer is a real thing. Hard to call a BIDET a "Bathroom fixture" outside of Europe, and do picnics come in HAMPERS?

Masked and Anonymous 11:51 AM  

IRSAUDORS? PERM? PS? … Extra IT's confused the M&A.

PEPELEPEWIT? (yo, @Lewis)

Masked & Anonymo3Usit


Arlene 11:56 AM  

@phinneas Oh yes - picnics do come in HAMPERS. Just Google images - and you'll see lovely baskets/hampers - typically from another era, but still in use by some (thinking Tanglewood and similar venues.)

Anoa Bob 12:16 PM  

@smalltowndoc, I doubt that there's any change in editorial policy regarding N vs Ñ. I think ANO was clued as a partial rather than year in Spanish because there was already an N instead of an Ñ at 14 Across, PENA. Bet ya a case of Spam we will see ANO clued as year in Spanish (rather than its actual meaning of the lower terminus of the digestive tract) many more times in the future.

I'm often taken aback when I see comments to the effect that someone, usually Rex, is overthinking something or being too analytical. I thought that was the whole point of crossword puzzles, to get us to think, to use language skills, to be....well, analytical. It seems that more and more I see NYT puzzles that expect me not to do that, to not be too critical and to be more loosey-goosey for the themers and their clues to work. Maybe that approach appeals to a wider audience (solvership?) and generates more income for The Gray Lady.

kitshef 12:22 PM  

@smalltowndoc - within the last six months we had a NYT puzzle in which umlauts, tildes, etc. were given their due.

@mathgent. I am not privy to everyone's grades, so it is a subjective opinion. I do know that average GPA is 3.0, which if C is meant to convey 'average' (as was the case back in the day), should be 2.0.

Joe Bleaux 12:32 PM  

As an erstwhile songwriter who collaborated with the master lyricist Shel on a couple of tunes, I can tell you with some certainty that he would answer your question with a raspy "Music? What music?" The song is pretty much a recitation😉.

old timer 12:37 PM  

I thought it was an absolutely delightful puzzle and very Easy too. OFL needs to accept a theme for what it is and not expect it to be different. YES WE CAN, EMILY POST, SHORTSTOP and SWING BAND are all common words or phrases that you can add IT to and give a new meaning to when you do. I see no reason at all why the four words or phrases (or names) need to be similar in any other respect.

I see only two demerits: OTYPE, because no one says that instead of TYPE O, and ELOI, just because I'm sick of seeing them in my puzzles. (Kinda sick of EDYS too). Made up for, I think, by the brilliant, novel clue for ANO and the great new clue for PITS.

Nothing wrong with BE A HERO. It is certainly something that might describe a rescuer. If I were to pick a nit, it would be that a HAMPER is not really a basket, it's a carrying case with a lid and usually a handle. It may not resemble a basket at all.

Joe Bleaux 12:41 PM  

If Obama's the worst president of your lifetime, I'm impressed! How many 8-year-olds work the NYT crossword?!

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

I agree with those who think if you CAN IT, it is safe. We (my husband, actually) can tomatoes every year. It involves washing the jars in the dishwasher and dipping the lids in boiling water and putting all the jars in the pressure cooker for the prescribed time and pressure and making sure they all seal well. The stuff lasts a long time.

I bought a book called "Putting Food By". They are super paranoid about all of the safety precautions one should taken when canning food. They state, "Two people died of food poisoning in 1972 due to faulty canning practices". Enough to keep you up at night. (Really, bad food in see-through jars is pretty easy to spot, along with the rusty, bulging lids :-).)

Nothing HAMPERed my solving today - the theme was obvious at 17A and except for briefly having @Ellen S' BEtHERe, and also CHaiNG, no writeovers. Thanks, Ned White!

Janie C 2:14 PM  

THIS is how you POST-IT:

Masked and Anonymous 2:28 PM  


Didn't think so. STINKYFLUSHIT is still my staff pick.

One other incredibly rich possibil-IT-y also occurs to m&e … [see next runtpuz]

fave weeject: INT. Clever. As in: I 'n' T.

Thanx, Mr. White, for yer rich theme idea. Harvey Keitel did a great Mr. White, in "Reservoir Dogs", btw. But, I digress.


oldactor 2:36 PM  

Am I the only person in this country with a bidet?
I think not. I had a friend in LA that had one.

puzzle hoarder 2:57 PM  

Are there rules for crossword gibberish? From reading constructor's notes it seems the only real rule is wether it's accepted or not.
There's a great example of the of the word MERCH in the movie " Flight." John Goodman plays a drug dealer. In one scene someone tries to idly touch the wares he's laid out and in that no nonsense Goodman manner he says "Dont touch the MERCH!"

Happy Pencil 3:11 PM  

I'm surprised at all the love here for this puzzle, because Rex said it perfectly for me. SWING BANDIT is so markedly better a theme answer than the other three that it only makes you feel sad about what this puzzle might have been. I also agree with his comments about POST IT/Post-It. If you're still not following him there, please scroll back and read @David 9:12 a.m. for his clear and logical explanation of what Rex was saying.

The revealer is very good, and any puzzle that manages to squeeze in LEGS DIAMOND deserves some props. I also thought MERCH was good, but for those who didn't like it, please note that it was added by the editor, not the constructor.

Big build-up for tomorrow. The pressure is on!

aging soprano 4:05 PM  

I kinda liked second theme running through this puzzle: we had EROS,LOVE,PAW AT,SEX, the clues PENETRATES FULLY and NOT A GOOD THING TO DO WHILE DRIVING,and finally the revealer: MAKE IT LAST. Did I miss any?

aging soprano 4:07 PM  

I kinda liked second theme running through this puzzle: we had EROS,LOVE,PAW AT,SEX, the clues PENETRATES FULLY and NOT A GOOD THING TO DO WHILE DRIVING,and finally the revealer: MAKE IT LAST. Did I miss any?

aging soprano 4:08 PM  

I kinda liked second theme running through this puzzle: we had EROS,LOVE,PAW AT,SEX, the clues PENETRATES FULLY and NOT A GOOD THING TO DO WHILE DRIVING,and finally the revealer: MAKE IT LAST. Did I miss any?

Laura the Kiwi 4:54 PM  

Took me 45 minutes. That sucked!

chefwen 5:16 PM  

@Joseph Michael - Pay a visit to our house and you will two bidets, one built right into the toilet seat.

Cute puzzle, only problem was putting in STAT before ASAP?

chefwen 5:18 PM  

Stick a find in between you will and two. DOH!

Andrew Heinegg 6:13 PM  

When you are both clever and insightful, you should receive praise. Here is your praise😊. Obama is a great President as far as I am concerned and, had he not had to put up with the nonsense of the roadblocks that the Republicans threw at him every step of the way, he might have been even better. According to Mr. Johnson, the useless several trillion dollar war in Iraq and the destruction of the American economy by W and he is a better'President than Obama?!! Yikes.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

As an MD for 30 years, have NEVER heard of O Type!

Honeysmom 7:04 PM  

Fun and fast Wednesday for me. Smiley theme. Am so very tired of Rex picking everything apart like it's rocket science!?!

Leapfinger 7:21 PM  

@Complainants about cluing a BIDET as a "Bathroom fixture:

Would you consider "Kitchen fixture" or "Backyard fixture" in lieu of that? In a related vein, had to laugh over @kitshef's 'I'm not privy to...'
One thing I'll say is that bidets are a perfect height for little kids to wash their doll's clothes, the MAIN hazard being that they'll wander away without turning off the taps and flood the entire hotel suite as a consequence.

@Joe Bleaux, two thumbs up!

@Numinous, Bugsy Moran is pretty close, eh? I got stuck thinking of Crazy LEGS Hirsch. Wrong DIAMOND.

@Lewis, @AliasZ did have some suggestions on offer, though not with nearly the same gusto as @M&A.

MICA insulation was new to me, so I looked that up, went on to asbestos, fiberglass, vermiculite... I'm getting the idea that insulation can be hazardous to your health.

At least my serch for MERCH has ended. Prosit!!

ps: If you don't have the street credit for Rex, you can always Debit.

Numinous 8:43 PM  

@Leapy, funny how a clue can give you a thougt that's irrelevant but just won't leave you alone . . . .

I know that there are toilet seat BIDETs available but they need hot and cold water hook-ups. I also know that there are classical BIDETs available in this country too. Bitch all y'all want, they are out there and available.

Wood stoves used to have MICA windows in the doors so you could see the fire inside, They had a nasty habit of flaking over time.

Cassieopia 9:44 PM  

Proud UI alum here (MosCOH, not MosCOW) so IDAHO was a gimme. Pretty sure the drink hails from outside these United States but I vaguely remember a Moscow Mule something in my college town - a bar? A restaurant? Who knows? It was the late 70s and I was young and drunk a lot.

Oh, the puzzle? An easier Wednesday, a fun but not back-flipping fun theme, I knew immediately that OFL would hate it, too lazy to analyze why but as always I'm in awe of anyone who constructs these puzzles. So much easier to solve and complain than to imagine and construct. Thank you, constructor, especially for LEGSDIAMOND!

Z 11:01 PM  

@kitshef and @mathgent - There is no such thing as grade inflation, just some relic terms that confuse and a lot of misunderstanding about what grades should and do represent. First, grading on a curve tells us nothing about what was taught or learned. Take two high schools using the same final math exam, both grading their own students on a curve. At one school the scores are normally distributed with a top score of 49% and a low score of 0% correct. At the second the scores are normally distributed with a high score of 100% and a low score of 65%. A 49 gets you an A at the first school while a 65 gets you an E at the second. No good school has graded on a curve in ages (if your "good" school does or did it isn't as good as you think) because it tells us nothing. Then there is the whole 90/80/70/60 percentage system. If a really good teacher does an outstanding job and everyone scores 95% or above is giving them all A's "grade inflation" (or a movie plot - see Stand and Deliver)? The real issue is that we all think we know what letter grades mean, but when it comes down to practice, there is no cultural consensus beyond some vague sense that C is average and no one wants to be average. On the real important aspects of assessment (what do you know? what can you do? what are you like?) letter grades are worthless. Okay - I'll stop now - Before someone starts assigning grades to my rants.

Leapfinger 11:08 PM  

PPS @JanieC, loved your POSTIT Notes War.

Mohair Sam 11:22 PM  

@Z C

Mohair Sam 11:24 PM  

@Z - Actually it was a good rant - informative to one not in education, but who could resist the shot?

Z 11:57 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Touché. Now to see what RantMaster Rex has to say about Thursday's tour de force... Im predicting high marks.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

@Z - A for quality of rant, D- for quality of argument. Unless you have a precise measure of exactly what the student was supposed to know, what grades they got for what portion of that they actually knew, and tracked that over time. you have absolutely no idea of whether there is grade inflation or not.

jae 3:43 AM  

@anon - You completely missed the point of @Z's rant. In a mastery based assessment system, which is what all schools should be using, "there is no such thing as grade inflation." Assessment is not relative, it is based on objective measurable standards that do not change OVER TIME.

Burma Shave 10:32 AM  


When LOVE SOAKSIN to a man, then EROS will PERMIT it to MAKEITLAST.


spacecraft 11:17 AM  

What a losing game it is trying to predict what will take up the majority of the comment space here. POST-IT wins today; who knew? My overall impression, with EROS, LOVE, SEX, HOTTUB (!) is that we need to get Ned a girl. Precious few of them to be found within; if we remove Dickinson (or POST) as a surname and replace it with, say, Blunt, EMILY would do nicely. Let's make her the DOD.

I have to agree with OFL, this one's a clunker--and that makes two in a row. His cryptic message for tomorrow's entry seems to promise an end to the run. Could it be our boy has gotten himself published? Oh boy, that puppy had better be SQUEAKY clean! I can't wait. Stuffed at the line of scrimmage; no gain. Second and ten.

leftcoastTAM 1:21 PM  

Easy but very ODD puzzle today:

The "r" in the clue's "driving" is ARE.


Theme and themers were okay but awkward.

That's all. Gotta run.

rondo 2:15 PM  

I dunno. Got IT right away, so the themers went in easily enough, but IT seemed a bit off. Easy way to curl your hair – PERMIT, which as clued should be “license”- a contractor needs a building PERMIT. OTYPE is bass ackwards. High count of 3 letter answers.

So I guess “Nice OWLETs!” is not a great opening line to EMILY PO? The retort is probably “It’s too SHORT.STOPIT!”

This puz is hot to TROT with EROS LOVE SEX, etc.

SHEL Silverstein composed not only that Cash song and a similar one called “The Winner” for Kris Kristofferson, but most of the Dr. Hook lyrics as well , in addition to a lot of bawdy poetry for Playboy (not OUI) mag. And kids books. Many ASPECTS to his prose.

Regarding a certain TAT, “IDAHO. See da STAMP?”

So OFL NOSES puz is up next? Will he review himself, if so? What are the ODDS?

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

From Syndication Land:

I don't know why Rex has to overthink things. This is a simple and elegant theme. You take a familiar expression and add "it" to the end. Yes We Can, Swing Band, Shortstop, and Emily Post all become fun new phrases by making "it" last! This is a great example of wordplay and why I do crossword puzzles in the first place! Thanks Ned for putting a smile on my face.

Diana,LIW 7:04 PM  

I'm with them what got a smile outta this. Especially EMILYPOSTIT. Yes, some of the puzzle was a bit odd, but overall a good, clean, fun Wednesday.

Biggest smile, though, came from the comment about "not knowing squat about bidets." Har.

That was almost as funny as a headline I saw today in the Food Section of the paper (where the puzzle also is). The article was about those round holiday cookies filled with nuts or dates and covered in confectioner's sugar. "With Mom's balls, secret is in the nuts." Lambo (my kitty) looked at me and wondered, "Why did you just spit coffee on me?" A long-time major editor of the paper just retired. Methinks the new one must be too busy to read all sections.

What will tomorrow hold?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Tomorrow's Puzzle Greatness

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