Dude Jamaica style / TUE 3-21-17 / Onetimei telecommunications conglomerate for short / Native of southern India or norther Sri Lanka /

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Constructor: George Barany and John D. Child

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (felt easy enough, but my time was on the high side)



THEME: TASTE (54D: It's often unaccounted for ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) — circled letters spell out each of the five basic tastes detectable by the human tongue

Theme answers:
  • STATUE OF LIBERTY (SALTY)
  • DESKTOP COMPUTER (SOUR)
  • CABINET MINISTER (BITTER)
  • SLIPPERY WHEN WET (SWEET)
  • PURE MATHETMATICS (UMAMI)*
*apparently when the puzzle came out online last night, the circled squares in the last themer spelled out not UMAMI but UMMAI




Word of the Day: ITT (12D: Onetime telecommunications conglomerate, for short) —
ITT Corporation (ITT) is an American worldwide manufacturing company based in White Plains, New York, producing specialty components for the aerospace, transportation, energy and industrial markets. // The company was founded in 1920 as International Telephone & Telegraph. During the 1960s and 1970s, under the leadership of CEO Harold Geneen, the company rose to prominence as the archetypal conglomerate, deriving its growth from hundreds of acquisitions in diversified industries. ITT divested its telecommunications assets in 1986, and in 1995 spun off its non-manufacturing divisions, later to be purchased by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. // In 1996, the current company was founded as a spinoff of ITT as ITT Industries, Inc. and changed its name to ITT Corporation in 2006. // In 2011, ITT spun off its defense businesses into a company named Exelis, and its water technology business into a company named Xylem Inc. (wikipedia)
• • •

Puzzle has one thing going for it, and that is five solid 15s as themers. Beyond that, though, there's not much here to enjoy. Nonconsecutive squares spelling things out is the opposite of delightful, 100% of the time (plus or minus a percent). There's nothing particularly clever or amazing about answers that have words "hidden" in them in this way. The themers have nothing to do with the theme itself, so it plays like a very easy themeless. Further, the revealer just lies there. There is no twist, no word play, no nothing that makes this theme snap into place. The tastes *are*, in fact, accounted for, as they are clearly marked by the circled squares. If you're going to go the "no accounting for..." angle, then that should have something to do with how the theme expresses itself. That doesn't happen here.

["I got kicked off Noah's Ark. / I turn my cheek to unkind remarks. / There was TWO (61D: Noah count?) of everything, / But one of meeeeeeeeee..."]

The grid is super choppy and segmented, which means it's overwhelmed by short (3- to 5-letter) stuff, which means a lot of stale fill. That said, stale does not mean particularly terrible. It's crossword-normal; it's just unalleviated by longer, more interesting fill. The one unusual answer it does have ("I'M MEAN!") is completely preposterous (19D: Bully's boast). In what universe does a bully boast "I'M MEAN!"? Seriously. I can't imagine *any* plausible context in which a bully might boast that, and here we're asked to believe it's somehow iconic—a common thing associated with the verbal repertoire of bullies. Ridiculous. It's very, very clear that the constructors had real problems managing their themers there. They designed the grid in such a way that "I'M MEAN!" has to cut through *three* themers—that means this was one of the *first* answers they put in the grid (you gotta lock down those multiple theme crosses before you proceed, because very often there simply aren't very many answers that work). Not sure why they greenlighted "I'M MEAN!" I'd've moved my themers around like crazy to find different letter pattern options before I went with a phrase that for all intents and purposes doesn't actually exist.

[Washington Post Sunday crossword writer/editor, on "I'M MEAN!"]


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

113 comments:

chefwen 5:24 AM  

Liked this one a lot. Must agree with "I'm mean", maybe, I'm gonna kick your ass, but I'm mean, don't think so. Also confusing, already pointed out was the placement of the circles of UMAMI, I thought, how could I have misread that word all these years. Phew, I was right all along.

All in all, an enjoyable, slightly tricky Tuesday by two of our favorite commenters.

George Barany 5:58 AM  

Quick hello, and then I'll go incommunicado for a while due to teaching obligations for the day. Thanks for the review, @Rex. Not clear what happened on the circles in the online version (they were certainly right in the version that was given to @John Child and me to review for our constructor comments posted elsewhere), but to their credit, the New York Times technical staff got it fixed within half an hour or so of being alerted about it. Importantly, it should be just fine in the print edition of the paper.

We hear you on "I'm Mean" which we had clued to this song from the movie version (starring @Robin Williams) of "Popeye." Ear worm perhaps not, we trust, but certainly another approach ... (what is it about "Popeye" anyhow, see Naticky EC SEGAR from a few days ago, and BICEP in my September 11, 2016 collaborative Sunday puzzle with @Ned White?!)

Finally (and most importantly), I want to call attention with gratitude to the role this forum played in bringing @John and me together in the first place. We have never met in person, but become good friends much beyond our crossword collaborations that have been a source of considerable fun and enjoyment. Today's puzzle marks @John's New York Times constructing debut, so hearty congratulations for that!

Loren Muse Smith 6:00 AM  

I liked that you could imagine a BITTER CABINET MEMBER. Even a SALTY STATUE OF LIBERTY – she’s developed a bit of a mouth recently. Can you blame her?

Funny how all the tastes save UMAMI extend to describe personalities. Was WINSTON CHURCHILL SOUR? Is a SNOWY EGRET SWEET?. Those birds are famously kind and amiable. They never stab each other in the back and are not at all stuck up and snarky.

Fun clue for STATUE OF LIBERTY – the quintessential trick play. In high school, our powder puff team had a statue-of-liberty-reverse-flea-flicker. Epic fail flopparooni.

My internet is going in and out here at school, so I have to post this while the gettin’ is good. Five fifteens. Whew. Lots of theme real estate here. Add TASTE, and you have 80 theme squares.

Count me among those who like circles. John and George – I like your puzzle and your first NYT collaboration. (John – congrats on the debut.) You pals have set yourselves up now to be the official Taste Buds.

Conrad 6:10 AM  

Celebrity puzzles continue, this time with our own celebrities, George Barany and John Child. Congrats, guys!

Personally, I liked the "Bully" clue. A bully might not say it to his (or her) intended victim, but I could see bullies saying it to impress their own social circle.

@LMS -- Are you sure it's your Internet to blame and you don't have a SOUR DESKTOP COMPUTER?

Brett 6:13 AM  

George Barany, from all the evidence, is a sweet guy. Just a lovely and kind online presence.

@LMS -- nice one!

BarbieBarbie 6:18 AM  

Great puzzle. I liked solving it and then going back to find the hidden tastes. I'm curious about why all those Tweeters think they know better how to spell in our alphabet something that is "correctly" spelled only in Kanji.
This is a first for me, an easy puzzle that Rex calls hard. Of course, if you want to look at actual time spent solving, mine is a vastly different frame of reference!

Anonymous 6:24 AM  

We're not going to talk about the cross (on a Tuesday!) of a football player who retired from coaching before I was born with an opera singer with a very unusual name? Come on.

Passing Shot 6:40 AM  

@Anonymous 6:24 -- I hear you on STARR (only got it from crosses), but KIRI Te Kanawa is iconic.

I had the same response to IM MEAN. This is a thing? Sounds like it was on Will and not the fault of George and John. I was also one of those irate early solvers who had the UMMAI issue. It didn't really affect the solve for me so I just ignored it.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

This is a remarkably clean grid for 80 theme squares, skillfully made. It has five in-the-language spanners that contain the tastes -- and, correct me, someone, if I'm wrong, but it's never been done before. And I believe it is worthy of doing. And it makes for a solid, good quality solve. I enjoyed figuring out the theme answers with one or two circles filled, so there was joy in the solve as well.

ARF next to SNOOP makes me think of "Dogg". There is a RUN down. And ZEE is by its soundalike SIE. The littlest nit: I think the clue for TIE ROD should be "Bar in a car" which is a touch more accurate and a bit more tricky than "Bar on a car" (Is there a name for the liquor bar in some limousines?). Lovely clue for GENE.

Very nice to see this offering from two need-to-read posters here, and congratulations on the debut, John!

Lewis 6:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 7:00 AM  

Deb Amlen points out that the clue for TWO -- "Noah count?" -- sounds like "no account", which goes right with the theme. Clever!

evil doug 7:14 AM  

My favorite taste is slaty....

Aketi 7:17 AM  

HAR, I would not want to be wearing PUMPS when crossing a floor labeled SLIPPERY WHEN WET (even if they were a gorgeous red HUE).

evil doug 7:27 AM  

In the Times, OP-ED can be found starting on page 1....

kitshef 7:29 AM  

Agree with @Rex on the great 15s, on IMMEAN being terrible (though the Popeye clue would have gone a long way towards fixing that), on this being my least favorite type of theme.

WEILL/ALTE cross was almost my undoing. Stared at that one square for a minute and a half before deciding 'L' was more likely than anything else. Having a TBA/TBd Schroedinger for the beginning of ALTE exacerbated things.

It turned out I got everything right, but if it had turned out to be WEILe/deTE or WEILS/ASTE I would not have been surprised.

Loved the clue for PURE MATHEMATICS.

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

I also had the early version with the wrong letters circled (but MATHEMATICS was spelled correctly). However, I knew there is a Japanese word for some weird taste I never knew had a name, so how it is spelled didn't bother me at all. I agree with @Rex and all who think I'M MEAN is not something any real bully would ever say. Maybe a pure mathemetician would protest, "I'm not average -- I'M MEAN."

Eric NC 8:12 AM  

Thanks for the earwig GB. If clue had referenced the song in someway then all would have been right in puzzledom. Super puzzle for me.

chefbea 8:15 AM  

What a tasty fun puzzle!!! Glad George and John got together on this one. What Rexites will construct the rest of the week???

Mohair Sam 8:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
runtomrun 8:31 AM  

Had to resort to Google (I hate doing that so early in the week) to complete the puzzle in the SE where TBd left me with WEIL_ (total Natick) and d_TE (I'm not so hot with German). Aside from that this was a fun and easy solve. Thank you George and John. I always enjoy your contributions!

Nancy 8:32 AM  

This was quite "crunchy" for a Tuesday, and for that I'm grateful. But the theme itself seems completely pointless. The embedded TASTEs in the tiny little circles -- have I mentioned before that I hate tiny little circles? -- are in no way related either to the answers in which they are embedded nor to the clues to the answers in which they are embedded. Nor are the embedded letters contiguous. Nor are the embedded letters symmetrically placed. What's more, my solving experience would have been exactly the same whether the embedded words were there or not. When I go back and read everyone, I'm sure I'll discover that a great many people had the exact same reaction.

Joseph Welling 8:34 AM  

Barbiebarbie said:

"I'm curious about why all those Tweeters think they know better how to spell in our alphabet something that is "correctly" spelled only in Kanji."

You're kidding, right? Foreign words have been borrowed into English for as long as English has been around. UMAMI is one of them. It has a correct spelling in English in our Latin alphabet. Isn't "algerab" a misspelling of "algebra" even though the word came originally from Arabic?

Bill Feeney 8:44 AM  

@LMS Taste Buds. Worth the price of admission!

Hartley70 8:46 AM  

This is two days in a row when seeing the co-constructor's names made me happy. Congratulations to both @George and @John!

This was a SWEET Tuesday puzzle that didn't SOUR my mood. There were no SALTY entries to make me BITTER on the state of American discourse, and for that, I thank you. I never know what to do with UMAMI. Like Pluto's disappearance, the appearance of UMAMI upset the order of my universe and apparently my "taste buds" (Good one, @LMS!) are stuck in the 50s. I'm okay with that. SWEET is my favorite anyway.

More applause for PUREMATHEMATICS and the double take at "Noah count" for TWO. Unlike Rex, I looked around at the finished solve and thought it was dreck free.

IMMEAN made me think of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". I'm sure he takes satisfaction in the opening line of the theme song, "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" when he says, "I'm the Grinch! IMMEAN and green!"

Ted 8:53 AM  

This was a great Thursday!

It was a slog of a Tuesday.

Johnny 8:55 AM  


I just got a call from Will and it looks like I'm constructing this Saturday's puzzle. You people are in for a treat! Not only am I loading it up with engineering terms and basic American history pre-1980, I'm also going heavy with blood-thirsty dictators and lots of horrifying Naval slang.

QuasiMojo 8:57 AM  

Well, I guess there is no accounting for taste indeed! There was a lot to like in this Tuesday puzzle. The Peter, Paul and Mary clue made me chuckle. I guess, despite what Sly and the Family Stone said, not everyone is a TSAR. Fun to see EVITA and the Statue of Liberty so close to each other. Talk about irony. I can recall an office desk without any computers on it. God were they ugly when they first appeared. My Dad bought me an early IBM desktop back in the mid 80s. It had two floppy disks. Each disk could hold about 50 pages of text. I know because I was writing a book then and had dozens of them. It cost a thousand dollars too. Which was a lot of money back then. I liked the clues for RIVIERA, EGRET and STEER. And even though I am usually opposed to too many proper names or celebs in a grid, I was happy to see Bart STARR, KIRI Te Kanewa and Kurt WEILL.

As for "I'm Mean" yeah that is a bit unusual. But it doesn't diminish the puzzle. And a quick google books search brought up hundreds of examples of people using in books, including Taylor Swift.

My only bugaboo here is this Umami thing. I know it's been used before but what exactly does it taste like? I've never heard anyone say "oh I just adore things that are umami." And didn't we have Yo Mama recently?

Nice job George and John. (But not Mary.)

Andy Silverman 9:04 AM  

I enjoy reading all these posts. And I'm looking forward to meeting some of you this week at ACPT. Only thing I have to add is that I'm sorry to see KIRI had an IUD while hooking up with STARR. That could have been a talented child.

chefbea 9:05 AM  

@Johnny...Can't wait to NOT do Saurday puzzle!!!

Stuart Showalter 9:10 AM  

The only reason I keep reading this blog is to see how many things Rex can whine about. He's negative 99% of the time (plus or minus a percent).

John Child 9:20 AM  

Thank you all for your comments. It's ever so interesting to see your responses to the puzzle. I'm pleased to appear in the Times and grateful to George for being a mentor.

UMAMI - It's a taste we all know: mushrooms, browned onions, aged beef, fermented things. Basically a savory flavor. It took exposure to Japanese food, which emphasizes the flavor, for the west to realize it was a "thing," not a compound of the four basics we all learned. At my house we love a mix of dry fish, dry seeweed, and sesame seeds sprinkled on rice or noodles. It's an UMAMI bomb!

I don't remember learning the tastes in a specific order. Placing UMAMI last was an obvious choice, then SWEET above it to get a T in the final position to gave us a place for TASTE running vertically in the lower right corner. We tried several arrangements of the remaining theme answers and decided that this order made for the best fill.

But it forced I'M MEAN. The answer worked for us because of Robin Williams's role as Bluto in the Popeye movie where he sang I'm Mean. That song was our submitted clue. Will and Joel noted that the answer was an oddball but decided they liked it. I do too despite the scores from the Russian judges. ;-)

ZEE SIE HAR

Nancy 9:25 AM  

@Quasi reminds me that I loved, loved, loved the clue for STEER.

And, btw, Quasi, you were writing a book back then? Are you a famous author? Would I know you if you revealed yourself? Please understand that my curiosity is boundless.

G. Weissman 9:34 AM  

The only reason I keep reading Stuart Showalter's comments is to see how many things he can bitch about. He's weirdly fixated on Rex 99% of the time.

Roo Monster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
Nice collab twixt TWO of our Resident Bloggers. SWEET!

*So apparently, we've had UMAMI TASTE forever, but recently discovered it? What others TASTEs do we have that no ones identified? Another query, who came up with the word UMAMI, and where were they when the conversation was, "Hmm, there's an odd TASTE here I just can't identify. Kinda brothy. UMAMI!"

*Checked Goog as I was typing that, and found out it was there all along, discovered in 1908 and named for the Japanese word for "pleasant savory taste." You're welcome.

Anyway, I think the co-constructs did a heck of a job getting as clean a grid as we got. There are 4 Downs (2 6's, 2 7's) that go through three themers. And the worst we get is IMMEAN. Which was clued nicely originally, apparently. (Three -ly words in a row!) Only 34 blocks, plus a Revealer! So, kudos to GB and JC. And ECZEMA is a great word (in Crosswords, not in real life!).

Nice U count, and SW corner for The Masked One.

Potential Natick at the L in WEILL/ALTE. That was my TWO- letter DNF today. Had TBd, and deLE.

Give this puz Five TASTES UP!

BEBOP a ZEE BLOT
RooMonster
DarrinV

Whirred Whacks 9:36 AM  

I see this puzzle contains Rex's favorite Taste at 12-down: NAY.

Comment of the day goes to EVIL DOUG at 7:27.

Nice puzzle George & John!

G. Weissman 9:39 AM  

Robin Williams played Popeye, not Bluto. Quite a memorable reference point.

doorslam 9:39 AM  

Had the same problem, on top of the STARR/KIRI cross. Don't remember the last time I had a Tuesday DNF.

Z 9:42 AM  

I was prompted by @Evan's tweet to do the puzzle online rather than wait for this morning's paper. By the time I did it the UMAMI issue had been fixed. I was surprised that @George and @John would have let "not a thing" into a puzzle (and agree, based on lots of experience, that the bully never ever admits that they are mean - somehow it is always the victim's fault in the bully's mind), so was glad to see @George's comment this morning. I don't know that movie, but clued that way would have made it definitely a thing.

I see the potential for needing to run the alphabet at STA-R/KI-I, but, seriously, what letter but R is going to be plausible there? A vowel is unlikely between two "I's" and what other consonant might pair with R to end a name? Not a true natick IMHO.

I beg to differ with Rex on the short fill. Yes, lots of crossword standard stuff (they are crossword standard for a reason), but also some not so commonly seen short fill, the M&A row of IUD-HUE, SNOOP (without his controversial gun - hey, when Ice Cube and Ice T both say you might have crossed the line... you might have crossed the line), a PUG or TWO, ECZEMA on the RIVIERA, and Kurt WEILL.* Not shabby. No not too shabby at all.







*Lotte Lenya!

GILL I. 9:47 AM  

@George et @John...I don't know you, John, but I've corresponded with George on several occasions. He constructed a puzzle for my son and I had a blast. I see lots of his favorite sports, mathy and music TASTE floating around so I'm betting you two have lots in common.
I'll start out by saying THIS WAS HARD FOR A TUESDAY. Never heard of that tricky STATUE OF LIBERTY. I had STAT for the longest and wasn't even sure about that. 14A wasn't giving me any AIRS in my lilting melodies. Took a breather then all the goodies fell into place.
Loved the Noah count and that Nice location. IM MEAN as an answer is just fine. Imagine a pudgy little PUG of a snot with eyebrows furrowed and his fists resting on his muffin top yelling IM MEAN to nobody.
a gustation of BITTER SWEET...I learned about savory UMAMI here.
Thanks you TWO TASTE buds, (@LMS...HAR) this was yummy.

QuasiMojo 9:58 AM  

@Nancy, no, I'm not famous. And no, I doubt you'd know me. But I still write and have been published. My new passion is poetry. But I keep most of that to myself. Mine are "maudlin, and full of self-pity," to quote from "All About Eve," but, alas, not as clever as your limericks.

cwf 10:32 AM  

Congratulations to @John and @George. An enjoyable puzzle. I also almost Naticked at STARR/KIRI, but once you have STA_R, what other letter could really go there? I don't believe I've ever heard of anyone with STAIR as a last name. (Also that would give you KIII).

Wednesday's Child 10:43 AM  

Wow, 5 fifteens on a Tuesday, niceee.

UMAMI? What the heck? Never heard of it. The things you learn here.

I knew there'd be some discussion about I'M MEAN. Another what the heck.

All in all, a fine puzzle.

Laughed at @Andy Silverman's KIRI, IUD, STARR crossed lovers.

Ellen S 10:46 AM  

Thanks @George & @John, I liked it! I knew Dame KIRI te Kanawa, and ALTE and Kurt WEILL, and never heard of the STATUE OF LIBERTY as a sports reference (pulled Bart STARR out of some dusty recess of my brain ... wait, they're all dusty), but unlike the sports-loving culturally challenged ones, I'm not complaining.

I wondered briefly at I'M MEAN, but figured, "It sounds like something Bluto would say," and moved on.

Fun puzzle, nice for a Tuesday.

Joseph Michael 10:52 AM  

I don't know nothin' about no UMAMI, but congrats anyway to George and John. Fun puzzle with a nice bite for a Tuesday.

My favorite part of this was the cluing throughout, such as that for TSAR, STEER, HUE, SCENE, MON, SPHERE, TWO, OUTIE, and STATUE OF LIBERTY.

Thought 58A was going to have something to do with THEMATICS and got stuck for a trying to make sense of it.

For 19D, the bully's boast, I kept trying to squeeze in "I'm the President," but it just wouldn't fit.

Charles Flaster 10:53 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. After SALTY and SOUR I was thinking mixed drinks but the reveal made theme quite clear.
Wondering if STATUE OF LIBERTY has ever been clued this way. It did help me recall playing football on streets of Brooklyn approximately sixty years ago.
Liked cluing for OUTIE, RIVIERA, HUE, and PURE MATHEMATICS( college memories!).
Only write over was HIP for HEP.
Really a well constructed puzzle.
Thanks GB and wonderful debut for JDC.

mac 11:08 AM  

Congratulations, @John and @George! Nice puzzle.

I was completely flabbergasted when "statue of liberty" was not to be denied. So much so, that I was surprised again when the clue for 23A made sense, and so did the one for 39A! Finally asked my husband if it was an expression and I got an explanation.

Lee Coller 11:10 AM  

Tough for me on the bottom. Didn't know alte or Weill, and TBA could also have been TBD.

Never heard of Umami, apparently that was a taste discovered after my schooling (and I'm surprised I don't recall seeing it in other crosswords, seems like a useful word). I guess those a few years younger than me know it right off.

Shocked that Bart Starr is considered by some to be obscure.

Arlene 11:15 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle - played easy for me, for a Tuesday. Go figure! The 15ers went in quickly - so I'm a happy camper.
That said, I never heard of UMAMI - I guess I've lived a sheltered culinary life.
Congrats to @George and @John!

Max 11:16 AM  

In defense of circles: Yes they're not at all clever on a constructing level, you can find billions of words in a 15 letter phrase, but they add a second set of clues for solvers.

In this example, once I got the theme after SALTY and SWEET, I was left with three more sets of circles that were different lengths and quickly filled in BITTER, SOUR and UMAMI. This made the last 3 15ers fall without any other crosses. On a more difficult puzzle, this extra set of clues could be crucial.

Just saying they're not 100% bad, maybe just 75.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

He's not SLIPPERY WHEN WET. He's not even slippery when dry. I'm taking a break after the first 90 minutes of today's Supreme Court nomination hearings to say something that will surprise -- NAY, perhaps even shock -- those of you who know that I'm an unabashed liberal Democrat:

I absolutely love Neil Gorsuch. I completely trust and believe Neil Gorsuch. If I were a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, I could comfortably and confidently walk out of the hearings right now, knowing that I would vote for confirmation and feeling incredibly sure that I would not come to regret it.

Much too hasty? Far too emotional? An absolutely ridiculous thing to say at this early stage? Ahh, but look at my decades-long track record:I've watched all the hearings for all Republican-nominated Supreme Court justices in recent years and I've been prescient [by the standards of what a liberal Democrat would hope for] in every single case. It's not so much the ones I knew would be disastrous -- Thomas, the less said about him the better; Alito, whom I found to be evasive, SLIPPERY and totally untrustworthy and who I viscerally disliked from his very first response; Roberts, whom I respected but didn't believe would ever be on *our* side. My coup is the nominee I suspected from the get-go would be a disappointment to the Republican president who appointed him. That was David Souter, who struck me as fair and measured and not all that conservative. Everyone -- Republicans and Democrats alike --were surprised by Souter. I wasn't.

So, fellow Democrats, listen to me. My viscera are never wrong re Supreme court nominees. Neil Gorsuch is simply the most open and cooperative nominee since forever. Let's forget the awful person who chose him and vote him in without a qualm.

Back to the hearings now. Why don't you watch them, too?

TonySaratoga 11:27 AM  

Both huge icons in their fields. Start in top ten all time among QBs. Kiri in top ten all time among opera singers. Nothing at all to complain about. Save complaints for even semi-obscure stuff.

TonySaratoga 11:27 AM  

*Starr. Sorry.

r.alphbunker 11:39 AM  

Got only 35/76 on the Reagle test (answers not laid out on grid so no hints from crossing letters possible) which is the lowest score so far. I usually get at least 45. Some plausible wrong answers on the test:

11D. {Paul McCartney, for one} LEO --> SIR

26D. {Navel formation?} INNIE --> OUTIE

22A. {Dude, Jamaica-style} BRO --> MON

41D. {Out in public} OPEN --> SEEN

62D. {With it} HEP --> HIP

63D. {[No info yet]} TBD --> TBA

58D. {Short-haired dog} POM --> PUG

67A. {Pool contents?} MONEY --> GENES

52D. {"Mack the Knife" composer} DARIN --> WEILL

5A. {Peter or Paul, but not Mary} POPE --> TSAR

12D. {Onetime telecommunications conglomerate, for short} GTT --> ITT

Details are here.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

How Joe Green introduces himself? "I'm Mean"
Great to see a collaboration of two of the regular bloggers here. I found the theme ok, not terribly engaging. The fill was clean. I did not know Weill or alte but took an educated guess. I remember when I was in university that our team did a trick play that fooled the cameras. Fun!

Noam D. Elkies 12:01 PM  

Congratulations to GB+JDC on the crossword, and to John also on the début.

Barely managed to solve it from just the Down clues; guessed what was going on from 17A:STAT* and the circles, and confirmed from 23A:DES* and those circles; so I count the circles as a sweet feature that enhanced the solving pleasure. (This also means that I had a hard time believing 19D:I'M_MEAN even once I had its three theme answers --- BTW note its neat symmetric partner 40D:ECZEMA, with the unlikely but irreproachable -CZ- --- but conversely I wasn't thrown off by the clue for 33A:STARR, which would have told me nothing beyond "some name goes here" if I did see it. Is that Bart really Tuesday fodder, especially when we already have Ringo and Kenneth? Indeed Ringo would complement the PMcC clue for 11D:SIR.)

I count 78 theme squares, not 80, because two of the letters in 54D:TASTE appear in the 15-letter theme answers. But then I practice 58A:PURE_MATHEMATICS so perhaps I shouldn't be entrusted with such applications as counting; please check on my arithmetic with your 35D:ABACI. (Anyhow 78 is a lot too GB might call it the Pt standard.) I was of course happy to see the 58A answer come into view; also amused to see 46D:SPHERE get a clue that's both sports and mathematical (also sometimes seen as "baseball or basketball, but not football").

NDE

old timer 12:04 PM  

@Nancy, I could not agree more. I remember admiring John Roberts and hating Alito, and events proved me right. Same with some of the Reagan nominees. In fact, it is entirely possible I will like Gorsuch as a justice better than I ever could have liked Garland.

Not counting the extra time spent deciphering the circles my Tuesday time today was only a little slower than normal, just like OFL. It did help that I am old enough to remember when Adenauer was nicknamed "der Alte" and Kurt WEILL was well-known for his version of the Threepenny Opera, whose Mack The Knife song made Bobby Darin such a star. Old enough too to remember KIRI Te Kanawa and Bart STARR.

That "Peter Paul but not Mary" clue came up within the past month, but I am ashamed to say the answer did not immediately leap to mind. And I have to say, very little dreck in this one. ORA was maybe the only groaner.

But no one familiar with Irish music would describe AIRS as "lilting". They are in fact the exact opposite. Reels and jigs and hornpipes can, when made into song tunes, be "lilting". AIRS are slow for the most part, a springboard for sonorous improvisation by a fiddler or piper.

Hartley70 12:11 PM  

And not a thought for Merrick Garland, @Nancy? Some of us will always feel that whoever sits in that chair will be an illegitimate occupant thanks to Mitch McConnell and cronies. Could there be a worse nominee than Gorsuch, of course, but that changes nothing.

Noam D. Elkies 12:12 PM  

P.S. Oh, and my 33A:STARR comment goes double for the 17A:STATUE_OF_LIBERTY clue --- though that one was interesting to read up on after the fact, while that STARR is just Yet Another Wretched Name that I have no reason to care about outside xwords (though it might have been worth going that route if football were also mentioned in the 46D:SPHERE clue).

NDE

P.P.S. Typo in my first note: missing punctuation in "78 is a lot too; GB might call it the Pt standard".

DF 12:35 PM  

I don't care how established they might be in their respective fields, crossing a New Zealand opera singer (KIRI) with a 1960s football player (STARR) seems way too hard for a Tuesday. I got it once I had the STA_R and KI_I but those seem like two very particular proper nouns to cross this early in the week.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

@Joseph Michael
Are you referring to "The One" that made the bully boasts "I won" and "elections have consequences?"

Numinous 12:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 1:02 PM  

Today's puzzle was a dismaying continuation of a trend that started Sunday, of taking longer than my average time for the day. Hopefully it will abate in time for the ACPT or I will be SHAMED!

Other than that personal disappointment, I liked this a lot. I put in "pope" at 5A first and thinking "You abroad" was dIE contributed to my 9:49 solving time. I will be putting on no AIRS for this solve. It was a bit crunchy for a Tuesday. (I'M not trying to be MEAN).

I struggled in the far SW and decided to check out the theme for help. Seeing the TASTEs crop up in the circles meant that square 59 had to be U, which helped finish off that section.

I'm glad I came late to the party, after the glitch was fixed. Today, the early bird got the worm, erm, bug, which wasn't a plus for a change!

Congratulations on your debut, John Child, and to George for being a great collaborator.

Numinous 1:02 PM  


I am so surprised at the short memories y'all have, UM AM I wrong? UMAMI has been in the NYTXW ten times since 2008. I learned it from a puzzle. First time I saw it, I promptly looked it up on google. It doesn't always come to mind immediately but a letter or two and it pops right up for me.

SIE got me for a while until I remembered Hogan's Heroes.
SOMEONE: "Sprechen SIE deutch?"
SGT SCHULTZ: "Ja."
SOMEONE: "Then droppen SIE dead."

After a google search I found that it wasn't from Hogan's Heroes but from the movie Stalag 17. Interestingly enough, Hogan's Heroes had a Sgt Schultz too. And as a similar character but apparently not similar enough for a law suit.

Congratulations to @George and John. Lovely to see our regulars published. It doesn't happen often enough. I thought it was also nice that y'all managed to give honorable mention to at least two more of our regulars, @Z and M&E with his iconic "HAR" which @Roo seems to have adopted now too. I've used it once or twice myself when nothing else seemed more appropriate. Speaking of @George and John, they managed to complete the quartet with a hint at Ringo and a direct mention of Paul.

Wheelhouses are what they are. They depend on the courses they have steered. I sometimes listen to opera so I know KIRI Te Kanawa, I didn't know STARR as clued but that was easy to figure out. In high school I wrote a paper comparing The Beggar's Opera to the Threepenny Opera so of course I knew Kurt Weill. Der ALTE is also in my memory.

I'm seriously surprised that one or two of our Anonymous contributors have not mentioned that IM MEAN should have been clued as "Rex Parker's attitude".

For some reason, since either Friday or Saturday, all of my solves have run over my daily averages. Today's was no exception. I don't mind, it's not like I have pressing business elsewhere. My only gripe is that I wind up drinking cold coffee as I finish my cup of Bustello.

Excellent job @George and John, especially considering the number of iterations before it was submitted.

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

IMMEAN - nice save. Other desperadoes from the same gang: IDMOAN. IMSOIN. INMINN. ISMORN. Like.

The Circles! yep. Always an @RP-pleaser. I can assure @RP, that there is at least one more of these, lurkin somewhere in the pipeline.

Fun TuesPuz, on account of lots of grid spanners, other good long stuff, and an absolutely primo SW-corner weeject stack. UMAMI not a problem at my house, as it was in a coupla NYTPuzs just last year.

Re: 58-A circles misfire. Coulda been worse. Coulda gone with circlin the REHEAT letters. Talk about bad tastes…

Thanx, to our two local celebs, makin it in NYC. If U can make it there, UMMAI-ke it anywhere. thUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonym8Us


**gruntz**

Mr. Benson 1:07 PM  

Maybe it was just my lack of sleep last night, but I found this one very challenging for a Tuesday. I had to reboot in different sections a few times, and actually had almost nothing on my first pass through the northern section. I finished in significantly slower than average time.

Uke Xensen 1:22 PM  

Really easy.

tea73 1:49 PM  

I enjoyed this. Once I figured out it was TASTES we were dealing with, I filled in all the circled letters and was very happy for UMAMI which up to that point had been a bit of a blank. I loathe opera, but I know KIRI, mostly from crosswords but also because she's famous. Beverly Sills famous. Leontyne Price famous. The football QB I did not know, but I know that other political STARR. Never heard of the football play, but was amused when I could see what the answer was going to be. It took me a while to see PUREMATHEMATICS. All my friends did applied, which we called "Apple Math" long before Apple was a thing. (There was no computer science major at the time.)

As a cook I can tell you a little hint of UMAMI will improve a lot of things without immediately being identifiable. A hint of fish sauce, Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce can really perk up a dish.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Maybe IMMEAN has some validity from some movie of 37 years ago, one that was generally regarded at the time as a huge flop, but when ISMEAN [picks on kittens] and ITMEAN [ what does ___ (confused)] are available, how could it have passed even rudimentary editing?

Mohair Sam 2:04 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, lots of fun. Very nice collaboration Messrs. Barany and Child. Congrats.

WEILL - A naive young me took my then 8-year-old son and his buddy Tim to see Weill's 'THREE PENNY OPERA' performed by progressive young drama students at Syracuse University. To say it was more than a tad racy would be to grossly understate. Led to an unplanned birds and bees conversation at home, and a long explanation to Timmy's Mom. Ahh memories.

@Rex - A straightforward review - Tip of the hat, you're a better man than I.

foxaroni 2:19 PM  

Some funny stuff in the comments today: among others, @LMS--Taste Buds; @Evil Doug--slaty; @GlimmerGlass--I'm not average, I'm mean; @QuasiMojo--umami/yo mama; @Roo Monster--BEBOP a ZEE BLOT. What a punny bunch you are! Always a fun read.

The answer to 28D (White heron) always reminds me of the lyrics to that old pop standard: "EGRETS--I've had a few, too few to mention...."

Confidently wrote in Favre for the Superbowl quarterback, before remembering that Favre is BRETT; STARR is Bart. In my defense, both are Packers. (Funny happening: my spell check changed "Superbowl" to "Superb owl." There has to be a joke in there, somewhere....)

Very enjoyable puzzle today. Thanks, Messrs. Barany and Child, and congratulations to JDC on his NYT debut.

evil doug 2:27 PM  

Superb Owl? That's a good DOOK, Foxa!

Anoa Bob 2:27 PM  

When I was still in the chalk-and-talk business, one of my favorite psych courses was Sensation & Perception. Emphasis was on vision and, secondly, hearing, but we also covered other senses, including taste (gustation). The underlying theme for understanding all of the senses was how each played its part in survival.

Since fat has twice as many calories, and therefore twice as much energy, gram for gram compared to carbohydrates or protein, it makes good evolutionary/survival sense for an organism to be able to detect the presence of fat in its diet and to have a preference for it, all other things being equal. Since we need energy to survive and since fat is energy dense, it would be surprising if we did not have the ability to detect fat in food. That's why I've always thought that UMAMI was simply the taste of fat. Chew on that.

Randy 2:36 PM  

I usually do the puzzle right when it comes out at 7 on the west coast, since that's when I get off work. The typo tripped me up for a bit since I worked top-to-bottom and got UMAMI before any of the other squares in that area, but luckily the everything else was obvious enough that it was easy to convince myself they were making a mistake. Still couldn't resist taking to social media to complain about it.

crackblind 3:04 PM  

While I get your point, here's the ur-Bully, Bluto himself, saying just that (courtesy of the seriously missed Harry Nilsson).
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AOhp1L9enr4

puzzle hoarder 4:47 PM  

This was a lot of work for a Tuesday. Construction wise I'm assuming. @John congratulations on your debut. I disagree with the criticism of IMMEAN. Yes it's green paint and a nonphrase. That's why it is difficult to infer and it gave me something to work around. Difficulty has a value in and of itself. KIRI with 25 appearances in the Shortz era has somehow eluded my notice. Not hard to work around. DER ALTE and ADENAUER have e been pounded into my head from puzzles. The only other glitch was a HAH/HAR write over. This made RIVIERA hard to recognize, plus I had totally fallen for the English misdirect in the 37D clue.
@glimmerglass, great clue for IMMEAN. @lms "taste buds", only you! @Nancy I hope you're right on the judge.

CDilly52 4:52 PM  

The only thing I did not enjoy about the offering from our "Taste Buds" was not having time to complete it until now. Clever with a wide array of answers. I attend the Santa Fe Opera every summer and saw Kiri Te Kanawa as Countess and Frederica Von Stade as Cherubino in 1971 production of The Marriage of Fígaro. Absolutely unforgettable and introduced me to a then newcomer who has become a household name in the opera world.

The entire puzzle was pretty easy and certainly fun with something for just about everyone. Loved the long answers and their clues. Gave plenty of real estate to get started and keep going and was probably why this solved easy for me. Thank you, gentlemen!

Carola 5:11 PM  

Fun to see our constructors' names at the top, and a fun puzzle to solve. I found it easy, as the TASTEs appeared early and gave me some free circles, and my age and inteterests gave me a lot of help. I grew up in a Pack-revering household, where Bart STARR enjoyed the status of a demi-god; a later love of opera got me to a performance by KIRI Te Kanawa as the countess in Marriage of Figaro; teaching German meant that I could introduce students to Brecht and WEILL. UMAMI, though - a source of vexation since I became allergic to tomatoes: so hard to find a substitute (throw in all the Parmesan rinds, soy sauce, nutritional yeast you want...just isn't the same).

@Andy Silverman - Imagining the progeny of KIRI x STARR...but wait, foiled by an IUD...really made me laugh!

Roo Monster 5:18 PM  

@crackblind 3:04
Harry Nilsson! Awesome album by him? Why, The Point of course. If you've never heard it, or of it, I suggest you find a copy. Whole album is a story.

And wanted to say earlier, if STARR was clued as Ringo, I bet no one would've complained it was obscure.

RooMonster

jae 5:41 PM  

Congratulations guys! Medium-tough for me.

Erasures: HeP before HIP (with BEBOP in the grid you probably should have gone with HEP) and UPTickS before TURNS.

Thanks for clarifying the IMMEAN clue. A solid Tues., liked it.

jae 6:04 PM  

And to follow up @BarbieB from yesterday: When I "applauded" Larry G.'s comment about standing up to the anti-science trolls I assumed the process you described was included in his reference to "living the scientific method." As someone who has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, I do know how it works.

As for "we are all Anonymous here" I invite you to click on the blue "jae" if you'd like to know more about me and my background.

And hey, my granddaughter just got accepted at UC Santa Barbara!

Mark Peters 6:22 PM  

I don't think Durer ever made an etching. He was known for engraving and wood-cuts, not etching. Peach and plum as "hues" bothered me too. In my book, hues are the colors on the color wheel.

nick 6:30 PM  

No, a white heron is NOT an egret. A heron goes through a period early in its life when its plumage is white and it may briefly resemble an egret, but a heron and an egret will always be two different birds. Grrr.

jberg 6:46 PM  

I'm here late, but congrats to George and John if you are still reading this! Fun puzzle. Once I had SALTY, SOUR, and BIT (I wasn't sure what came after that CABINET), I filled in all the TASTEs, so they did make it pretty easy.

I grew up 35 miles from Green Bay when STARR was QBing for them -- and our high school's team once beat a much better team by tactics that included a STATUE OF LIBERTY play, so those were no problem -- and of course i knew Kurt WEILL.

Maybe one too many Dames in the clues? But maybe that's OK, since neither of them was an answer.

Malsdemare 7:14 PM  

@Nancy, I too am holding my breath on Gorsuch. I think he could be a Souter or Roberts, so I've resisted the calls to protest him. Hiwever, He is goin for a seat that truly belongs to Merrick, and I will never forgive the Repiblican Party for denying him a hearing.

Kiri played Nellie Melba in "Downton Abbey." Absolutely spellbinding voice. Yes, she's up there with Sills, probably better than Callas. I also knew Bart Starr but then I'm old and went to undergrad in Milwaukee.

I thought this was fairly easy, just right for Tuesday, and I love that two of our own produced it. Thanks, guys!

crackblind 7:20 PM  

@George Barany, Sorry a little late but I missed your Popeye comment and it was the second one too!. That's exactly what my first thought was of when I got the answer. I love that movie.

@Roo Monster Have I heard the Point?!?!? I've heard them all. I even gots his own demo version of the entire Popeye soundtrack. Nilsson is the dude!

evil doug 7:21 PM  

Sorry, kids--you set the standard with Bork. Even invented a new verb! Your turn in the barrel....

Andrew Heinegg 7:26 PM  

This was a pleasant experience enhanced by the knowledge that two of the favorite folks around here got together on the composition. Andy Silverman's comment was not only very funny but, I wonder if GB and JC kind of snuck that in there to amuse us with the possibility.

One of the nice aspects of this puzzle is the proper use of proper names in a crossword. Bart Starr and Kiri te Kanawa are virtual legends of their respective trades. I don't feel it requires a specialized knowledge of opera or football to have come across those names.

Evil Doug, virtually every media outlet and newspaper have been transformed into editorials by the prodigious amount of lying emanating from a certain section of D.C. If they simply report what is being said without the usual: 'without any evidence to back up what was said', they would be presenting outright and obvious lies as facts. Is that informing the public of the facts?





Andrew Heinegg 7:29 PM  

Amen, Hartley.

Roo Monster 7:45 PM  

@crackblind
Sorry, I had meant that comment for everyone else! :-) So, everyone, go out and find the Nilsson album The Point.

You're still hete?? Go! :-P

Roo

Sherm Reinhardt 8:24 PM  

Congratulations, John Child and @George. This one hit my average on the nose, which means it was medium-challenging for sure. Didn't get going until I saw SWEET in the fourth long across and then I began to fill in much faster.

I liked AVENUE for Way or means. I had AVEN_E and still didn't see it. Also liked the two German answers SIE and ALTE. Always good to see foreign language out there.

Briefly had SPORTS for SPHERE because I didn't see the "or" in the clue.

All in all, much fun.

JC66 8:53 PM  

Way to go, guys!

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

Amen to Hartley?
Nonsense. Pure drivel. It was the dems who insisted that it was wrong guy for a president in the final year of his tenure to make a SCOTUS nomination.
Chickens coming home to roost.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

Brutal for a Tuesday. Played like a Thursday.

Almost got a DNF. Was sure "donc" was the correct answer for the Descartes clue. Wasted a lot of time trying to make it work.

Brooke 9:41 PM  

Just came here to say yay for Just a Taste, one of my favorite restaurants in Ithaca :) Also 100% agree about IMMEAN. Ridiculous answer as clued.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

No, the chickens coming home to roost will be when Delirium Tremens tells one lie too many and gets his arse kicked out the door. Shouldn't be too long since his lies get bigger every day.

Anonymous 10:42 PM  

Late day finish but just wanted to say congrats and add another voice of appreciation: fun puzzle, seemed spot-on for a Tuesday level

Hope we see more from these guys!

CS

Anonymous 11:19 PM  

@Mark Peters, you're right that Dürer is particularly known for engravings and woodcuts, but he did plenty of etchings as well. In fact, I can see a book on my shelf right now called The Complete Engravings, Etchings and Drypoints of Albrecht Durer.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:44 PM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Mark Peters 10:40 PM  

@anonymous, I'm a Durer fan, not a scholar. Open that book and point me to some of his etchings. I'd love to see them. It's likely I'm wrong on that. Maybe we are are being nit-picky about intaglio but I think the clue could have been better. I've seen "etch" in puzzles before but this is the first time I've seen them give a clue referencing printmaking for it. I'll give them that.

John Child 1:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita A 9:18 AM  

Loved teh clue for PUREMATHEMATICS - PURE Professor Barany, I'd wager!

Congrats @John Child & @George B. Hmmm...I'm hungry now.

Burma Shave 9:56 AM  

INRE: TASTE

By a SNOOP, EVITA was SEEN with a CABINETMINISTER,
on the RIVIERA, IMMEAN, WHERE everything’s sinister,
TWO STARRs making the SCENE, SHAMED with nor EGRET,
he EASED off her GENES and PUMPS, both SLIPPERYWHENWET.

--- SIR TIEROD EPCOT-WEILL

spacecraft 10:24 AM  

I'll never forget the time Boise State stunned Oklahoma with that STATUEOFLIBERTY play. Classic! BTW, liked the cross wioth QB TIEROD Taylor. This one was kinda fun, easy-medium for me. I still don't understand why OFL insists on equating his rank system strictly with solving time; he's such a total slave to the stopwatch. A puzzle is either hard to solve or not; actual times may vary.

Favorite clue: "Nice location." Completely natural and unforced, yet a perfect double-entendre. I can imagine a bully saying "IMMEAN," but it takes some elastic. I don't think there was any way they could fix that, or they would've. Agree that picking internal words out a letter at a time is un-thrilling--and makes for a most untidy grid. Will have to go with Madonna as EVITA for DOD. Par.

rondo 11:45 AM  

Who could not like this puz? Oh yeah, there’s that one guy. If every Tues-puz was like this one, well, there would be no complaining about them.

Went to EPCOT when it was newish. Impressed, but not overwhelmed.

Songs by KIRI Te Kanawa were staples of a previous incarnation of a morning radio show on MN Public Radio (show started by Garrison Keillor). KIRI has such a beautiful voice. Yeah baby.

9 or 10 minutes of good fun with a puz done with TASTE.

leftcoastTAM 1:51 PM  

Was expecting more zip and zest than I found here.

The long themers have nothing to do with the TASTEs they contain, nor do the themers have much bite of their own. So, a bit on the bland side.

Messrs. Barany and Child have cooked up a basically palatable Tuesday offering, though it's a bit on the bland side.

Diana,LIW 1:52 PM  

At 61D, we learn that there's "Noah counting" for TASTE. I saw the tasty clues early on, and they actually helped with the solve. Not that a whole lot of help was needed, but I did find this crunchier than the average Tuesday. Almost Naticked at STARR/KIRI. Must pay attention to more names.

Hesitated to enter IMMEAN for all the stated reasons.

Had "antes" before GENES, but not for long.

No doubt in my mind how @BS would end his poetic comments today. PUREMATHMATICS weren't needed to figure it out.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:01 PM  

Oops. Meant to delete the first "bland" comment.

William Heyman 2:17 PM  

I thought, "I'm mean," was also said by the Grinch in "How the Grinch stole Christmas."

wcutler 4:31 PM  

I liked this, though I would have wanted the theme answers to be somehow related to the clues they were in. They were really kind of random, could have been anywhere. I totally second what mac 11:08 AM said about Statue of Liberty, but I had to come here to find out what it is (no-one actually said, but since I'm not interested in football, it's enough to know it's a thing); what Max 11:16 AM and several others said about getting the rest of the circles filled in to help with the solving - I love it when the themes DO something for me; and to say to Mr. Benson 1:07 PM that I have the opposite reaction - when I'm really tired, the answers come pouring out on a puzzle I thought I'd never be able to finish.

rain forest 4:37 PM  

A tasty little offering for a Tuesday - one which suited my palate. When I saw 12D and 19D, I momentarily thought that OFL was the constructor. Silly thought! How could he submit a puzzle to someone he hates?

This played easy/medium, and could easily have been a themeless. Just don't circle the TASTEs, and leave the clue for 54D as is without reference. That would've been fine for me. Why must there be a theme anyway? I've never understood that necessity, just like when people wail "where's my rebus?" on Thursday.

Hey, @leftcoast TAM - maybe "bland" could be another taste.

leftcoastTAM 7:19 PM  

@rain forest:
Right. It could be the antonym of UMAMI.

Bill_B 2:06 AM  

I was a bit puzzled to see that a POUND SOUND is ARF. I would have thought something like BAM. As any Frank Zappa fan would know, ARF is the sound a modified dog by the name of Evelyn makes.

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