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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: phrases of resignation — five where "resignation" means "acceptance" (all clued [Phrase of resignation]) and one where "resignation" means "quitting" (clued [Literal phrase of resignation]):

Theme answers:
  • THEM'S / THE BREAKS
  • AND SO IT GOES
  • WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
  • QUE SERA SERA
  • THAT'S LIFE 
  • I QUIT 
Word of the Day: AHL (58A: Development rink org.) —
The American Hockey League (AHL) is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League (NHL). Since the 2010–11 season, every team in the league has an affiliation agreement with an NHL team; before then, one or two NHL teams would not have an AHL affiliate and so assigned players to AHL teams affiliated with other NHL teams. Twenty-seven AHL teams are located in the United States and the remaining three are in Canada. The league offices are located in Springfield, Massachusetts, and its current president is David Andrews. // The annual playoff champion is awarded the Calder Cup, named for Frank Calder, the first President (1917–1943) of the NHL. The reigning champions are the Lake Erie Monsters (since renamed as Cleveland Monsters). (wikipedia)
• • •
I thought this theme was going to be something semi-cool about answers "breaking" across black squares (see THEM'S / THE BREAKS) but then it just turned into a bunch of boring phrases with a corny-clever finale. Throw in the very below-average quality of the fill, and you get a semi-characteristically disappointing Tuesday. Seriously, look at the grid. Outside of the theme, there is NoThing of interest. It's all the fill from ye olde crossword attic, except perhaps EVITE (56D: Paperless party summons) and HATER (71A: Envious critic, in modern lingo), which can hardly be considered good. By comparison, Liz Gorski's most recent Crossword Nation puzzle (which comes out every Tuesday, and is roughly NYT-Tuesday difficulty level) is a witty, clean delight. Her puzzles are as good or better than NYT Tuesdays, most weeks. I SAY subscribe, or give a gift subscription to some beginner or easy-puzzles-only person you know.


Bullets:
  • 69A: Flightless South American bird (RHEA) — also the name of shoulda-been-Emmy-nominated actress RHEA Seehorn ("Better Call Saul"); also the name of Casper Gutman's daughter in The Maltese Falcon (the novel—they (wisely) cut her from the movie)
  • 5D: Former celebrity (EX-STAR) — I don't believe this is a thing. Googles very, very badly.
  • 41D: Frolicking mammals (OTTERS) — "Mammals"? Soooo many mammals frolic! And yet I knew instantly this was OTTERS, as "frolicking" is their signature (crossword clue) move.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

63 comments:

Larry Gilstrap 12:18 AM  

Hey, OFL, look up the word PRANA in your data base, or look at the calendar. It's Tuesday, the most lackluster day in the week. except those taco lovers out there. I solved ink on paper, unusual for me. I hate commitment and kept looking for the eraser. QATAR again??? Pretty sure that THEMS THE BREAKS is not grammatically correct. Tip to new solvers: that whole SOFT G gambit is always lurking. Honestly, the only junk I spy is OLE and it is front and center. Worthwhile solve for me.

jae 12:47 AM  

Easy for me. Got to disagree with @Rex on this one, some colorful phrases said with a sigh, not much dreck, liked it.

George Barany 12:50 AM  

I also felt, as did @Rex, that @Timothy Polin might be up to something tricky, with the break before THE_BREAKS. But then, less than 6 minutes later (fast by my personal standards), I_SAY that EYE was done. Doubt that anyone will say I_QUIT to this.

Second the shout-out to @Liz Gorski for "Crossword Nation."

Charles Flaster 2:04 AM  

Easy but liked it more than Rex.
MAGE was new to me.
Favorite clue was for DEERSKINS.
QUE SERA SERA brought back fond memories of the Doris Day hit in the fifties.
Thanks TP

chefwen 3:13 AM  

Off to a slow start, I have no idea why. I guess THEMS kinda threw me. Picked up steam shortly there after. One write over with HYBReD before HYBRID, I'll never remember that.

MAGE a was new to me also.

Cute puzzle, liked it column.

Loren Muse Smith 3:37 AM  

I'm with @jae – gotta disagree here. For this solver who comes down firmly on the theme side of the Theme vs. Fill debate, this was a great solve for me. Sixty five – SIXTY FIVE! - squares of theme… my cup runneth over.

All the glue just faded into the background after I finished and admired the two takes on the word "resign." This is a granddaddy reason I love themed puzzles – they can highlight something about language that I never had really thought about.

I found the reveal to be clever without the "corny" aspect. Indeed, though this probably could have been done without a reveal, the I QUIT elevates everything and adds a cool twist.

Yeah – that EX STAR is weird. The EX of "ex-husband" or "expat" feels like it implies a cleaner break, one that happened pretty quickly and completely. Maybe a disgraced celebrity, Bill Cosby, say, could be an EX STAR. A "former celebrity" for me would be more like Richard Simmons, Paul Hogan, TAE BO's Billy Banks - their fade from the limelight being more gradual. I immediately thought "has been," for that answer, but it was too long.

Both my kids are ex-lax stars, by the way. Well, at least in West Virginia they are.

I love the word GLIB.

I also got a kick out of the triple UIT crosses in the southeast.

@Tita – that binder gift you gave your mom has to be one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts ever. A treasure and heirloom.

Timothy – I loved this. I really liked how you worked in the symmetry for THAT'S LIFE and I QUIT with THEM'S THE BREAKS. Bravo.

Aketi 6:29 AM  

Hahaha, LMS, I did double take on your kids being EX-lax STARS. The hyphen and the fact that my son plays Lacrosse helped me realize what you meant.

NCA President 7:14 AM  

I was not offended by this puzzle.

Lewis 7:31 AM  

This felt Monday easy, but it wasn't a rote solve. I enjoyed figuring out the theme answers with few if any letters, the two gap-toothed grid spanning theme answers, the clean grid, with my favorite answer being BOREFRUIT. It gives newer solvers feelings of success while still challenging them (answers like MAGE and EBRO) in places. It is theme-strong, an excellent reinforcement of the "theme" concept to newer solvers.

I like that STARVE is appropriately underFED, and I like that PIPE up.

Timothy, I thought you made a terrific Tuesday puzzle. I expect you'll get lots of good feedback. Regarding any pans, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Andrew Goodridge 7:44 AM  

Rex: have you considered revamping the blog so each day you simply pick out a puzzle (NYT or otherwise) that you really love and then write about that? It's clear that you just don't enjoy the NYT puzzle, and frankly this blog just brings me down. Championing lesser-known but higher quality puzzles is a positive pursuit that helps everyone. Reviewing a puzzle you clearly don't care for is just a daily grumble and a wasted chance to add good thoughts into the world.

Anyway, I thought today's puzzle was fun and I liked the revealer. Thems/Thebreaks was a highlight for me., but I thought all the theme answers were really nice. Definitely felt like a Monday in terms of difficulty (this was actually my fastest Tuesday ever, according to the app), but maybe I was just on a roll last night. Good stuff.

Tita A 7:46 AM  

A definite downer of a puzzle... lIE, FALSE, HATER, IQUIT, STARVE, ASHES, ODS, EXSTAR...
But saved by being FED punch with that big ol' LADLE which ELATEd me, together with the OTTERS frolicking in the BATH.

Put me in the camp of thinking the --break-- was going to be the theme.

@NCA Pres...what a relief!



Hungry Mother 7:47 AM  

Super easy for me today. I did as many downs as acrosses.

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Fun, easy Tuesday puzzle. I guessed that mage is the singular of magi!!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

I'd venture that WIN SOME, LOSE SOME more commonly appears with a couple of ya's.

Linda 8:59 AM  

LMS, thanks for pointing out the triple "uit" crosses so I could get a kick out of that too - and also notice that the vowel sound is different in each one of them: short i (quit), long e (suite), and long oo (fruit).

QuasiMojo 9:02 AM  

I hope I don't "lose some" cred by being too "winsome," but I agree wholeheartedly with our "frolicsome" otter, I mean, leader, Rex. This puzzle was a snoozefest. One saving grace: no "Rhea" Perlman. Also I hardly think that Doris Day's earworm nonpareil "Que Sera Sera" is a hymn to resignation. It's about carefree acceptance, a much different emotion or philosophical state. Same with "And So It Goes," which reminds me of Linda Ellerbe being all wry and smug. Again, not resignation. The last thing I want to be is a "hater," but this "fruit" salad of cliches was a "bore."

Nancy 9:23 AM  

Early week puzzles will, I'm afraid, always lack the challenge that so many of us here crave. AND SO IT GOES. THAT'S LIFE. Sigh.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Of course QUE SERA, SERA doesn't necessarily reference the song. I think all of the theme entry phrases can work as clued.

GILL I. 9:28 AM  

It's a WINSOME Tuesday.
I don't think I've seen a punch bowl at a party in eons. Do they fill them with BORE FRUIT? Hey RENO and RHEA are getting a work-out. Agree with @Rex though that it might be fun to re-clue some ho-hum answers with some sugar and spice.
I just realized that I have PRELIS for the qualifying match. Dang!
@Loren is right...I'm always looking for a fun theme and rarely care if some of the fill is not a la @Liz. This was just a fine Tuesday,
WOLFE...

jberg 9:42 AM  

I can't hear AND SO IT GOES without thinking of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five -- definitely a phrase of resignation.

To me, the two meanings are not so distinct -- when you are resigned to something, you quit trying to change it. But maybe they are lexically drifting apart.

An EX-STAR is a bigger, redder version of an S STAR.

ArtO 9:51 AM  

Liked it. Hard to find what would have slowed down OFL to rate this less than EASY.

Pete 10:09 AM  

I liked this more than Rex, and while I couldn't come up with a better explanation of the them than he in the 15 seconds I allotted for the task, I view acceptance as much, much more and deeper than resignation. Acceptance is a spiritual task, resignation is just saying f*#$ it. At least the puzzle didn't have "it is what it is", the most onerous phrase of the past decade.

Z 10:32 AM  

@NCA Prez - I'm more of a chuckler than a laugher, but it was definitely audible, so COL.

I'm with @LMS and @jberg on this one. Lots to like here, and whatever bad fill there is disappeared into the background. Plus, any shout out to Kurt Vonnegut is a bonus.

Curious use of "literally" in the reveal. It implies that "figuratively" would apply to the other themers but it does it? I suppose they are "figures of speech" but "figuratively" is more about metaphor to me and they aren't metaphors.

QuasiMojo 10:43 AM  

Yes, I get your point about the phrase "Que Sera Sera" and I agree. I did not mean to imply that the puzzle theme referred only to the song. I was a bit over-caffeinated this morning and could have been clearer. After reading these diverse comments I wish I could go back and do the puzzle over again and enjoy it as much as most of you did.

Joseph Michael 10:51 AM  

I usually find Timothy Pollin's puzzles challenging, so I enjoyed doing one on a Tuesday when it was easy to solve.

Liked the downbeat theme and the punchline at the end. Also admired the fact that the theme accounted for more than one third of the answer squares. Thought that the fill was surprisingly good for a puzzle with so much theme real estate.

That's life.
What's life?
A magazine.
How much does it cost?
Thirty-five cents.
That's too much.
That's tough.
What's tough?
Life.
What's life?

Loren Muse Smith 11:03 AM  

@NCA Prez. I agree with @Z.

Well. Played.

Nancy 11:06 AM  

@Joseph Michael (10:51) -- There's a punchline at the end? What is it? Is it I QUIT? If so, I didn't really see that answer as a punchline. @Quasi says he had too much caffeine today. Maybe I didn't have enough?

QuasiMojo 11:29 AM  

Nancy I wish we could go to La Fortuna and knock back a few espressi!

Carola 11:37 AM  

Thanksgiving dessert: PIE. Does anyone else attend a Thanksgiving potluck where there's sort of an unstated PIE competition? Of course, it's possible that I'm the only one so invested in my pies that it feels like a competition. Anyway. If you're looking for a new recipe for this Thanksgiving, I recommend this Maple Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie. It's actually better if made a day ahead so that the bourbon can mellow out - and one less thing to do on the day itself.

I liked the puzzle, and even more after coming here: I hadn't noticed the two kinds of resignation. Cute echo-chamber crossing of IDAHO-HOE-PEKOE.

GILL I. 12:07 PM  

@NCA Pres. I SAY,OLE chap, well done!
@Carola: IDAHO-HOE-PEKOE...Hee Hee. That gave me my DALEY chuckle.

Gerry Kahle 12:15 PM  

I'm clearly not in Rex's class but reading this blog has started me timing my lowly efforts. What a breakthrough today, my fastest Tuesday ever (8:38)! #pumped

Tom 12:24 PM  

Tuesday easy here on the left coast. Usually print them out an do the puzzles on my morning bathroom break. (TMI?) Sat down at the computer and did the solve there in under 13. with THEMS the only redo after putting ThatS in first.

Didn't rear a lot of the clues because I got the answers from crosses. Ho-Hum

chefbea 12:26 PM  

@Carola...sounds great. Might have to make that pie for Thanksgiving

puzzle hoarder 12:38 PM  

I don't often make mistakes on early week puzzles but I had ANL at 58A. AHL is one of those 3 letter entries I've somehow managed to overlook. The clue is obviously implying a hockey org. but I was confusing the uh of uh- oh with the uh of the negative phrase uh-uh. In my defense HUH has appeared three times in the NYTP as HUNH and UHUH has been UNHUNH twice. See, clear as mud.

evil doug 12:51 PM  

Spot!! On!!!

wgh 12:52 PM  

Never a big fan of puzzles where the theme is in the clues, not the answers.

Mohair Sam 1:01 PM  

@NCA Pres - @Z beat me to it, but thanks for the chuckle. We needed it.

@Rex - Yes! For years I've waited for the Saturday puzzle that dared to clue RHEA as "Gutman's daughter in The Maltese Falcon" - but "Actress Seehorn" would be nice, she is terrific, as is that show.

Liked this one a lot. It's a Tuesday folks, the theme was fun, need I repeat @LMS? - she nailed it. Besides, the constructor included ANDSOITGOES - any nod to VONNEGUT wins a smile here. Linda Elerbee titled her bio "And So it Goes", a signature sign-off from the newscast she did with Lloyd Dobyns back in the '80s. Dobyns had used the phrase on occasion to end news items he found uninteresting when he had his own weekend newscast years before.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

An alternative clue to 5D: "Type II supernova"?

I remember my mother, upon hearing someone ask what "QUE SERA SERA" meant, rolled her eyes and said, "It's right there in the song". Later, when I encountered the Beatles song, "Michelle" and painfully translated the line "Michelle, ma belle,Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble", I just slapped my forehead. I'm glad I didn't ask my mother!

Anyone else put in "deal" a 16A as an end to "What's the big ___?" ? Oh well, that's life.

I found this Tuesday theme well worth the solve, thanks Timothy Polin.

Masked and Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Gonna go with votin Good, Bad, and Ugly on this puppy…

GOOD: The break in THEMS THEBREAKS. Wide open grid (76 words, but only 34 black squares). Cool collection of resignation phrases. Fill that at least isn't bad enough to BORE FRUIT (yo, bored @RP). Some cool letter combos: GHosts. HYBrid. QAtar. soFTG. {Hides in the forest?} clue. Dash of pleasingly desperate moments, peppered throughout.

GOD/BAD border: 4 U's

BAD: Theme kinda needs more developmental pizzazz. The phrases maybe need to get slightly more frustrated-soundin, as they go along. IQUIT is just toooo big a leap, at the end. THATSLIFE is too wimpy, to telegraph an impending IQUIT. Instead, plunk in a punchy/edgy preceder of the caliber of THISSHITALWAYSHAPPENSTOME, or somesuch.

UGLY: That desperate lil SW corner. When yer featured nest of weejects there is AHL and TOA, U know you've got potential problems. A good UHHUH never hurts, tho, to pull the sleeve out of the gravy, at least. So … ok. I think that Q?T?? letter-pattern that the themers served up there was yer fill-killer. Nice pick of a weeject for WOTD, btw, @RP.

Nice, controversial write-up bullets! Let's ex-pand:

* RHEA. Visit to the stuffed animal museum was forced on the constructioneer. All QATAR on a TuesPuz's fault. "The Maltese Falcon" = primo flick. "Better Call Saul" = primo Tv show; dude wrapped in tinfoil reminds M&A a lot of hisself.
* EX-STAR. Hey, no. These are indeed a thing, and are actually easy to spot. If U are watching a nice, cheezy B-level schlock flick, starrin one of these STARS in a call-for-help role, U know you're now watchin an EX-STAR. Saw Fay Dunaway in one of these puppies, just lately.
* OTTERS. I still say they can frolic the pants off most other grownup mammals. I mean, who's in second place? Are dolphins mammals? Don't U hafta have hair to be a mammal?
* Google this: "frolicking mammals pics". One of the early selections is a runt-sized cryptic crossword!(?) Just sayin'.

Thanx, Mr. Polin. Good, clean, desperate fun.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Roo Monster 1:27 PM  

Hey All !
@NCA, awesome!
@Teedmn, I did! What's the big IDEA about it not being deal? :-)

Put me in the Liked It crew. Had an easy romp through the grid, even with some stranger sitting next to me at the laundromat telling unfunny jokes! I guess THAT'S LIFE. Think that maybe HATER should've been part of theme...

Fill decent. Got yer -ese ICEAX, UHHUH, EBRO, DAH. No eels or ass!

EXSTAR! And here I thought I heard of all the _STARs!

Remember "Sot on it and ROTATE"? :-P

TOBEY or not TOBEY
RooMonster
DarrinV




Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  

p.s.

Comment#1 typo re-cap:

* Should be "GOOD/BAD border = 4 U's". Even tho U's are next to Godliness, this was not what I was goin for, there.

* "Watching" + "watchin" combo, in the EX-STAR bullet. It is a constant battle with auto-correct, to adapt comments to the way M&A talks, if we were havin a coupla beers together.

* Somethin seems just plain wrong with that "All QATAR on a TuesPuz's fault" sentence. Frustratin. Grammar is usually one of M&A's strong suits, vis-a-vis the herd he generally runs around with.
Maybe "It's mostly QATAR's fault, combined with the requisite TuesPuz-level of difficulty" would be better? Yeah, that's the ticket; soundin much more professorial, that time.

M&Also
Speakin of grammar (yo, @muse):

**gruntz**

Loren Muse Smith 1:52 PM  

Message. Received.

Masked and Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Well. All. Rightie. Then.

(Don't mean no disrespect or nothin, tho. Just thought it might be a runtpuz that'd be right up yer alley.)

M&Also again.

p.p.s.s.
Or, maybe that lightnin-like @muse response weren't meant for M&A. Or, maybe she's got the day off?

tester 6:04 PM  

testing

Hartley70 6:19 PM  

Easy but very respectable Tuesday. The theme density was great and I thought the themers were appropriate. The first was the best because of the break. IQUIT at the end was fun, and I like to think HATER as the final entry referred to the reason IQUIT did.

ANDSOITGOES is my favorite Billy Joel song, a beautiful ballad. Melissa Errico does a cover that I can listen to over and over.

Martín Abresch 7:38 PM  

Easy puzzle, bland fill, but I enjoyed the theme. "THEMS / THE BREAKS" was clever, and the "I QUIT!" revealer brought a smile to my face.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

We here in the U.S. have an unqualified and possibly insane major party candidate for president, a plutocracy resulting from unlimited, anonymous campaign contributions and the police state that comes with it, indifference to global warming that has already begun to exterminate whole species of animals, and more deaths by guns than any other developed country on earth.

And all you people here talk about is how you liked or disliked a crossword puzzle for utterly ridiculous reasons and how easy it was for you to do.

Get a life, puzzle nuts.

KFC 8:15 PM  

Hey, it is what it is...[sigh]



Nancy 8:48 PM  

@Anon 7:51 -- I agree with every single word of your analysis of the many things deeply wrong with our country today. And if I could fix -- or even put a dent in -- any of these problems by vowing never to do a crossword puzzle again, I would probably do so. Conversely, if I could fix -- or even put a dent in -- any of these problems by doing 25 crossword puzzles a day, I would probably do that. Since neither my crossword activity nor my commenting on this blog about it have any chance of making a dime's worth of difference to the ills you have mentioned, I shall continue both diversions guiltlessly. And how can you possibly know, Anon, who on this blog may be involved in pursuits that will make our nation and our world better? You can't know. Perhaps some of the many chemists on the blog are working on scientific ways to reverse climate change. What's more, I would ask you, Anon 7:51, precisely what you are doing to make the world better? Certainly storming your way onto a blog you obviously have no respect for and putting down a bunch of people you've never met and know absolutely nothing about isn't going to accomplish anything worth accomplishing. Do let us know, Anon 7:51, what you've done on either a professional or avocational basis that has contributed to the country and the world. Speaking for myself, I can't wait to find out.

Louise Aucott 9:39 PM  

An obnoxious, oft repeated tautology. Thanks but no thanks.

Louise Aucott 9:49 PM  

Definitely am making this for our annual Pie Festival a week from Saturday.

Louise Aucott 10:00 PM  

@Carola also shared a pie recipe. Which is important. Yours is a point well taken, though. In real life, I work tirelessly on the issues you mentioned, throwing in some concern for women's reproductive health and freedom, LGBTQ rights, the future of the SCOTUS. Great reminder that there's a lot of work to be done in this world other than creating a witty critique of a crossword.

Louise Aucott 10:02 PM  

@Nancy speaks my mind.

Louise Aucott 10:03 PM  

@Nancy speaks my mind.

Louise Aucott 10:03 PM  

@Carola also shared a pie recipe. Which is important. Yours is a point well taken, though. In real life, I work tirelessly on the issues you mentioned, throwing in some concern for women's reproductive health and freedom, LGBTQ rights, the future of the SCOTUS. Great reminder that there's a lot of work to be done in this world other than creating a witty critique of a crossword.

Andrew Heinegg 10:13 PM  

Nancy speaks for many of us including moi. Wrestling with crosswords is an entirely different part of life than wringing one's hands over a person who seems to be way over the borderline of narcissistic craziness and who appears to have the support of at least 40 percent of this country. Doing crosswords may be the only thing you could do if he gets elected.

Aketi 10:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 10:56 PM  

One has to wonder how someone so busy solving the world's woes found time to criticize the Rexian commentariat. I know I am now inspired to stop doing crosswords or commenting on crosswords. I think I will give up drinking beer, stop playing ultimate or watching baseball, become celibate, forswear art and literature, indeed anything that gives one joy, until Utopia has been achieved.*

Also - @Louise Aucott - Please PLEASE PLEASE stop using the "reply" function on your phone. If you don't own a computer or tablet visit a library and look at your comments in a web browser. Your tautology comment makes no sense to the vast majority of people reading your words. At least your pie comments make sense - because you reference the context of your comment.












*Seriously? You were wondering? I'm about to open a rather tasty locally brewed Stroh's Pilsner.

Teedmn 11:24 PM  

@Nancy, You expressed it perfectly!

puzzle hoarder 1:40 AM  

Dear anonymous @7:51. Besides from being a puzzle nut I also love reading my own comments.

Lois 8:50 AM  

Apparently, the better singular form of "magi" is "magus." I liked the puzzle, but MAGE was a defect.

Z 9:07 AM  

@Lois - MAGE. I think you overthought the clue, although that clue with a five letter answer would work for magus, wouldn't it.

kitshef 9:04 PM  

Nice puzzle. Lots o' theme density, and the fill is just fine, thank you. Except of course for HATER, and UHHUH, which stink. On a puzzle in the future (I'm jumping back and forth catching up from vacation) there will be a discussion of collective nouns. For otters, it is a romp of otters.

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