Davis of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries / WED 5-3-17 / James with posthumous Pulitzer / Russian newspaper founded in 1912 / Iowa birthplace of Ann Landers Abigail van Buren / Poor dog's portion in rhyme

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy


Word of the Day: punny
• • •

From the constructor who brought you A FAREWELL TO OMS (like, three &$^%ing days ago), comes ... this. This. I stopped after three answers in the NW (specifically, after ELIHU, the President of Crosswordese University) just to take a deep breath and recommit myself to getting through this thing. And then I hit this ...

... and sincerely wanted to shut it all down. Just walk away. It's like time-traveling 30 years into the past so you can do puzzles that were mediocre even then. You know, it's an editor's responsibility to say 'no' sometimes, even to veteran constructors. The only reason this *wasn't* actually physically painful to solve was that it was so easy. I did my groaning right away, as soon as I saw "punny quip," so I was mostly NUMB as the "quip" filled itself in. And since I had BONE at 57D: Poor dog's portion, in rhyme (NONE) at first, the quip came out "TOOTH AND BAIL," so not only was the puzzle itself rough on the whole, it also somehow managed to step on its own bad punchline. I mean, this is a total disaster.

If you think I'm the only one who thinks this, just ask around. Many of these puzzles lately are just bad, and certainly far below the standard that the NYT ought to be holding. Because of scale / brand name, most solvers assume the NYT remains the apex puzzle, but honestly it's not even close now. Even among dailies, WSJ gives the NYT a run for its money, and is preferred by some. And indie puzzles absolutely crush the NYT in terms of originality, currency, and craft, on a regular basis. Feel free to write me off as that crank who keeps yelling into his computer. But I still have a lot of residual love for the NYT puzzle, and what's happening now is frankly hard to watch. As for this particular puzzle—and I say this with absolutely no malice—it's not worth my time to review it in any detail.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 7:00 AM  

It felt easier than yesterday, the quote was cute, and I liked CLOMP and NECTAR. I wanted YOKUM before YOKEL (the latter makes me want to cringe; it feels like an elitist put-down). I had STABS for STATS, and in any case, I don't think the clue ("Ballpark figures?") needs that question mark. The quote, employing TOOTH AND NAIL made me think about expressions with two body parts, and "arm and a leg", "eye tooth", and "heel and toe" came to mind. Anything else anyone can think of?

By the way, this whole puzzle is literally ON ME today.

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

If it's not worth your time, why do it? Oh yeah, phony hypocrite.

Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  

Yeah – I agree with Rex on the dreaded quip puzzle. To say I don’t really enjoy quip puzzles here is akin to saying, “Paper cuts? Well I, for one, don’t like them. Ever.”

Lots of E-initial names right? ERIQ, ELIHU, EZRA, ESSIE ERIN, ELLE.

I liked the extended alliteration of the vintner’s vessel – VAT.

I had never heard this joke, and I found it amusing. Never thought about the expression, about a fight turning all tooth and nail. Kind of a chilling thought. A JAB is one thing – probably won’t draw much blood, but man, people start biting and scratching – I’m outta there.

I found this really easy for a Wednesday but liked it just fine. POLE VAULTER, TICKET TAKER JET STREAM, SIOUX CITY, YOKEL, EGO with I’M HOT… Too bad 1D is SCOWL – a quip puzzle wrapped in a pangram. Go big or go home, right Alan?

So anyway, @Lewis - a dermatologist and an orthopedist show up at an ELLE cover shoot - talk about skin and bones…

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

Where's the righteous indignation about Stephen Colbert's homophobic comments about Trump ? I know, just kidding, As for the puzzle, it was fine B+.

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Very easy for a Wednesday. I love the word CLOMP.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

No one is forcing you to do, much less review this puzzle. Why don't you just go away ? Liked polevaulter.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

The good: ESSIE Davis, magnetic in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Also, POLE VAULTER.

The bad: Somebody I’ve never heard of named ERIQ crossing somebody else I’ve never heard of called ERIN. ON ME. NNE. SPH.

The ugly: A quip puzzle. Yuk. ERST and ELIHU – two thirds of the terrible ‘E’ trio that never appear outside of crosswords (ELHI is the third}. PERE ISLA ENERO AOUT ELLE EPEES.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Michael Sharp: "Hey, what's up? I'm a real effin dick."

kitshef 7:28 AM  

head and shoulders above...
head over heels
living hand to mouth
cost an arm and a leg
hand foot and mouth disease
by the skin of your teeth

Tom4 7:31 AM  

Hey at least there was no ACNE

CDilly52 7:32 AM  

Certainly easy, but dated as well. Variety is fine and I do not fault NYT for still wanting to include a quip puzzle now and again. I disagree with OFL that the quip puzzle is just bad. It is historically part of the overall NYT oeuvre. That said, there is no excuse for an homage to the old quip puzzle being weak. On that I agree completely with @Rex. And this was too weak for Wednesday, filled with crosswordese and blah. Bad job in editing. Shame.

evil doug 7:49 AM  

"Assholes and elbows"

Aketi 7:51 AM  

I gave the dog a BONE before I sadly had to replace it with NONE.

FIGHTing TOOTH AND NAIL is how my little sister (who started kindergarten at age 4 since she had a November birthday weighing a mere 25 pounds) survived childhood. She inflicted enough HARM on her would be oppressors that they usually reconsidered picking the vertically challenged as easy targets. My son was short too, but thanks to Martial Arts, he didn't even need a JAB to defend himself, His best retalliation was a quick foot sweep on the girl who was twice his size, yanked him by the hair and called him a midget.

@Lewis and LMS, the "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" song is my ear worm for the day.

r.alphbunker 7:52 AM  

A more modern CSA acronym is Community Supported Agriculture.

I like quip puzzles because I try to figure out the quip as the letters appear and it is a nice aha to get it with only a few letters.

Details are here.

QuasiMojo 8:00 AM  

This quip, if you actually read it literally, makes almost no sense. First of all I doubt very seriously that dentists date manicurists. And why "must" they fight in that manner? Couldn't they arm wrestle? Use EPEES? "File" lawsuits? Musty indeed.

I understand why people get annoyed with Rex's constant carping about the low quality of the NYT lately (like the last five years). No one likes to have to hear bad news over and over again. But he's right, folks. The NYT puzzle is in a steep decline. On purpose? I have no idea. But if it is deliberate, to gain a wider membership of readers and subscribers, then there is not much we can do about it, other than switch to the WSJ which I've started to do. I am constantly impressed by their puzzles, even the early week ones. The wordplay is sophisticated and fun, never cloying or insipid. It's like a breath of fresh air. The only reason I carry on with the dreadfully ham-fisted "punny" NYT at the moment is that I enjoy coming to this blog and reading the daily comments. When I go to the WSJ page, there are rarely any comments at all. I need my fix and for the time being, I'll stay true to Rex and his game followers.

Lieberman LLP 8:01 AM  

Too easy to be any fun. I like to suffer.

GHarris 8:05 AM  

Fastest Wednesday ever for me. Only write over, had first before fight as I filled in part 4 of the quip. Does sph stand for sphere?

Steve Reed 8:06 AM  

We nick-named our upstairs neighbor "Barbara Klompey". When we moved, she followed us.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Doug8 said...

WHEN A POLE VAULTER AND TICKET TAKER ARGUE...something about stubbing something other than a toe?

I don't do other puzzle regularly, but after this I'm inclined to assume that @Rex is correct about the NYT.

Nate 8:20 AM  

DNF because of the ESSIE and CSA cross. I was going to complain about Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries because it sounds like something from the 1930's, but apparently it's a current show. Huh.

Anyways, everyone else is already hammering "quip" puzzles, so I won't pile on, but let me just lob this criticism: TWO foreign language month clues?!? Come on.

Anyways, answers I did like very much: SIOUX CITY, POLE VAULTER, JET STREAM. That's basically it. CLOMP is nice, too, I suppose.

Kim Scudera 8:26 AM  

Come on, all you anonymeese! The role of a critic is to hold someone or something to a standard, preferably a high one. Yes, RP does so with a heaping dose of snark, but honestly -- so much of the NYT puzzle has been snark-worthy for so long. And how do I know this? I know this because OFL has spent some time, nearly every day, for *years*, explaining what an interesting, well-clued, well-constructed modern-era crossword should look like.

Today's puzzle: stunningly easy, pleasantly Scrabble-y, unfortunately headed by SEPT (ugh) but dotted with fun words like SIOUXCITY and FLAMBÉ.

I call "Enough already!" on clues unnecessarily referencing the Confederacy or our #Presidunce (thanks, #Colbert!). Did you see the Mini this morning? T#€%p Era, my @£€!

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Agree with most of what Rex said about today's puzzle. I don't particularly care for quips as quips are seldom funny. They take so much space and force a lot of junk on the puzzle. So for that bravo, Rex.

But I wish Rex stopped complaining almost daily about the declining quality of the NYT puzzles. I got the message though I don't necessarily agree. Some puzzles I don't like. Some are too easy and some are too difficult. I have come to dislike the Sunday ones simply because they are so long.
But I continue to solve the puzzles because the mental exercise of solving puzzles is so enjoyable.

And Rex, I don't think the WSJ puzzles are as a whole any better than the NYT puzzles. I have been solving them for the last few weeks and as a whole they are not any better. In fact some are as terrible as the terrible NYT ones.

John Child 8:49 AM  

Nice fresh long downs buoy up this puzzle, but the concept is best left to the past. If one wanted to make an olde-fashioned puzzle, maybe a tribute to Eugene Maleska, this is a gem.

Mohair Sam 8:50 AM  

I'd argue that if we're going to be subjected to the occasional quip puzzle that quip should be from Ben Franklin, Oscar Wilde, or Groucho Marx. Sheesh.

YOKum before YOKEL (hi @Lewis).

@LMS's quip (7:04) was better, much better. Woulda been hell fitting in a 15 by 15 however.

I've met only a handful of people from SIOUX CITY in my lifetime, but without exception they bragged about their home town. Must be a good place to live.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

First O'Reilly, now Colbert, sauce for the goose...

Richard Gross 9:01 AM  

Open letter to Rex: I enjoy fellow solvers' varied input to the blog. Your critique, sometimes, is interesting. Most often, however, it is more like a Lewis Black rant. Please, Rex--stop the whining.

Two Ponies 9:03 AM  

I agree with @Mohair Sam. Quips are fine if they have some wit. Add to the list Mark Twain or Rudyard Kipling.

19D xsout? Yuk.

GILL I. 9:04 AM  

We have Russian, French, Spanish, German, a SERB a Chinese, an Israeli UZI and a YOKEL...all requirements for a quickie quip Wed. puzzle....
I don't even think I had two gulps of coffee before this was over.
@Tom4...no ACNE AND no BRA...[sigh]
OK, seeing cherries jubilee brought about some glee. I even remember where I had my first taste. I was 16 and sitting in a restaurant in Buenos Aires with my dad and step-mom and the handsomest man on this earth was setting fire to red cherries. I could have watched him dip some brandy and strike a match all night long.
On to try the WSJ.
@Rex....Don't ever stop! Like @Quasi, I come for the after fun.

Roo Monster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
At least quip was easy to figure out. Heard of OSSIE Davis, not ESSIE. Also had SKIn for SKIT, since burlesque was in clue. Misdirection at its finest.

I took MUST in the sense of meaning probably in this context. Not have to.

It's a pangram, largely unforced, so there's that. Although, XSOUT grates a bit ON ME. Opposite crossing of SCOWL/LUV.

English is a funny language. SCOWL, FOWL, HOWL, but BOWL is not bow-el. Many examples of this type enigma are in English. Would take too much space to list them all. :-)

Pun for today:
When chemists die, they barium.


ArtO 9:07 AM  

I couldn't wait to come here to see the scorn OFL would heap on this puzzle. Dated, corny, etc. And, I must say I agree. This was ridiculously easy for a Wednesday entry and the criticism warranted. And, why give one constructor two puzzles in four days when there are dozens (hundreds?) of others waiting in the wings?

Amie Devero 9:13 AM  

Can you do the WSJ puzzle without full subscription to daily paper? I can't endure yet another daily subscription. So they perhaps offer a mini-subscription just for the puzzle (as does NYT)?

Nancy 9:18 AM  

@LeibermanLLP (8:01) -- You're the first person whose puzzle philosophy echoes mine, word for word: "I like to suffer." Yeessss, LLLP, that's it exactly!

This was a complete snooze-fest, made worse by the fact that I hate quote puzzles in general. But just imagine how much more disappointing it was for someone who foolishly thought today was Thursday the whole time she was working on it. I had already written my first sentence in my head before I finished solving: Who kidnapped the Thursday puzzle and is holding it for ransom? Fortunately, I realized my mistake before I started to type. That doesn't make the puzzle any better, but it does give me hope for tomorrow and saves me much embarrassment today.

@kitshef (7:28) -- Wonderful list! Someone should create a puzzle out of it. As long as it's not a quote puzzle.

Aketi 9:25 AM  

@Quasimojo, there does seem to be an element of escalation in the puzzle.


and if others get ensnared, a RIOT might ensue

Where's the LUV?

Glad to see EZRA seems to have been exempted from your list.

My sister is the historian in the family and I thought it was a snooze so I didn't pay much attention to the founders of the universities I attended until I started going on college tours with my son. It's nice to see that at least one of the founders of an IVY opened up the school to "any person" right from the start and never owned slaves. Of course it took until 1935 before women were allowed a formal role in commencement ceremonies and another year before they were allowed into the main dining hall. Now that I'm getting closer to being old (which shall always remain older than I am right now) I find history not quite as much of a snooze. I think the sanitized versions of some of the history about leaders and founders that I managed to retain from my youth are far less interesting than the actual complicated mix of good and bad that exists in all humans and is discussed more readily now.

Monte Jaffe 9:34 AM  

Can someone explain 39 Down "RLS"? Thanks

mac 9:39 AM  

Very easy for a Wednesday alright, and today, with jet lag, I could have spent some more time.

I don't have a problem with puns, maybe because I don't know many and they are new to me every time. I was bothered by something different: shouldn't it have been A dentist and A manicurist?

It never occurred to me before: the Dutch word for wooden shoe is KLOMP. Wonder which came first.

Very funny, @Loren!

QuasiMojo 9:39 AM  

@Aketi, good eye. I hadn't noticed the escalation. I also must have had sand in my eyes because nowhere does it say the dentist and manicurist were dating. lol. My bad. For quips, I wonder if Ambrose Bierce had any apt ones for a puzzle. As for school founders with spotless albs of sin, I am reminded of the fact that Yale recently changed the name of one of its colleges to that of a noted female computer scientist. A hundred years from now, who's to say that we won't look down in disdain at the inventors of computers as monsters themselves. We might all end up being enslaved by robots, if we aren't already.

Whirred Whacks 9:42 AM  

Best part about the puzzle? No answers with "Bill NYE, the talking vagina guy."

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Can we get some recs for indie puzzles?

Hartley70 9:55 AM  

Go ahead and kick yourself @Monte... Robert Louis Stevenson.

G. Weissman 9:57 AM  

Jackass, why are you here? Don't read this blog if you want it to go away! It's always the anonymous posters who are so "bold."

kitshef 9:58 AM  

@Monte Jaffe - Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Kidnapped - or was that tongue in cheek?

G. Weissman 10:03 AM  

This was a terrible puzzle. The over-reliance on proper names and foreign words not used in English is dismal. Xs out? This is the kind of puzzle where you feel worse, not better, when you complete it, because it entails sharing the constructor's bogus mindset.

Noam D. Elkies 10:08 AM  

I mostly enjoyed this one. Rex writes "Feel free to write me off as that crank who keeps yelling into his computer", and it seems nobody's taken him up on that yet, so I will: Go home, you're crank. ;-)


Johnny 10:12 AM  

The 5-letter DAVIS pantheon was always BETTE, GEENA, or OSSIE. Now there's an ESSIE? That could turn out badly.

The WSJ puzzles are good, but they are no better or worse than the NYT, and they are often stupid in their own special ways.

Hartley70 10:14 AM  

I'm surprised so many here know ESSIE. Of course, once you see her as Miss Fisher, you won't forget her. She's striking, and what I really want to say is, "Oh, her clothes!" The fabrics and design are gorgeous. I hope the costume designer won all sorts of Australian awards, a Koala statuette or something.

I'm not prejudiced against quips a bit. If they are insufferably old timey, then perhaps I am too. I am often surprised at the things that send @Rex over the edge. Now don't get me started on word ladders. I hate those suckers!

I survived two visits to the dentist this week so perhaps I am kindly disposed toward the profession temporarily. The juxtaposition of them with manicurists made me interested from the first line. They both prod at us in sometimes uncomfortable ways. I don't really enjoy visiting either of them.

I did, however, enjoy this puzzle. I was a big fan of the recent Arbesfeld offering and I'd be happy to see a trifecta.

Nancy 10:16 AM  

@Aketi (9:25) -- "...the complicated mix of good and bad that exists in all humans..."

@Quasi (9:39) -- "A hundred years from now who's to say that we won't end up looking down in disdain at the inventors of computers as monsters themselves. We might all end of being enslaved by robots, if we aren't already."

Usually I come to the blog for wit. But today, it's bursting at the seams with philosophizing. Interesting philosophizing at that. Move over, Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau and Locke, et al. A new generation has come to replace you.

And, no, I'm not being facetious. I find both those posts today quite thought-provoking.

pmdm 10:20 AM  

Some people like quips and puns, so it seems appropriate to me that now and then they are included in the crossword puzzle. But at the cost of a ton of proper nouns, foreign words, and other assorted garbage (for instance: IOU, EPEES, XSOUT, LUV and ONME). I guess some of the longer non-theme entries are interesting, but at what cost? Once I look beyond the theme entries and the longer entries, the puzzle appears worse and worse to me. The overall difficulty level for me felt with a few exceptions to be that of a Tuesday. Just as well, since I didn't have to spend that much time on a puzzle I quite disliked.

Aketi 10:23 AM  

@Quasi, we already are, hahaha.

Lewis 10:25 AM  

I think Rex would like a quip puzzle if the quip was:


Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Don't feed the trolls

Mr. Benson 10:34 AM  

I don't mind puns. Problem is, this isn't a pun. It's a super-forced joke where you have to imagine an unlikely scenario of a dentist and manicurist arguing about something, just to set up a semi-hackneyed metaphorical expression. (Although, to @QuasiMojo 8:00, I don't see how you need to presume they're dating.)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I just want to get in the spirit of things, so ... GET OFF MY LAWN!@

John Child 10:36 AM  

@ Hartley70 I love my dentist. Third visit this week coming up...

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

RLS Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Kidnapped

Brett 10:44 AM  

1) Who said anything about dating?

2) I read "must" here as speculative, not authoritative. As in, "I must be crazy to keep hoping for fun and interesting puzzle commentary from Rex when it's all just sourpuss lately."

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Very easy for me, but a DNF in NE. I'm newer to xwords that most commenters but I enjoyed figuring out the quip as I entered crosses. I agree there is a lot of junk fill.

oseph ichael 10:49 AM  

Discovering that this was a quip puzzle put a SCOWL on my face that did not turn into a smile when I reached the punny punchline. SARAH Silverman should sue the NYT for being associated with such dUMB humor.

A JET STREAM of proper nouns, including the names of two months in foreign languages, didn't help. Nor did the tortured SPH and NNE.

So. A POLE VAULTER and a TICKET TAKER walk into a bar and order two BIERS...no...

A SERB and a YOKEL are sitting in a SAUNA. The yokel says IM HOT and...no...

A TEEN and some T MEN are at a party drinking ALLOT of NECTAR when..,no...

No...no...no...Please, no...no more quips.

old timer 10:49 AM  

@Nancy, you mentioned Hobbes in your list of philosophers but left out Calvin! Who, IMO, has more philosophy than Plato. (No, not the religious leader, the comics kid).

Perhaps because that was my mindset, I liked this quip puzzle. And found it tough at the start, solving L to R, because the quip takes up a lot of real estate and you can't guess what's going to fill it, at first. Only when I got ARGUE could I quickly write in TOOTH AND NAIL.

Writeover: YOKEL for Yokum. But I do wonder if anyone under 50 used to read Li'l Abner every day.

DJG 10:50 AM  

"Feel free to write me off as that crank who keeps yelling into his computer."

Often I do (with love, as I very much enjoy and appreciate this blog), but today Rex is spot on. The punny quip didn't bother me that much -- not my cup of tea, but some people like such themes -- but the fill in this one is just dreadful.

There is absolutely no reason to put some much garbage in the puzzle (ERIQ, EQUI, AOUT, ENERO, ESSIE, SPH, etc.). The theme entries aren't that constraining, and if they are, add some black squares and go up to 78 words.

Of the many criticisms Rex has of the NYT puzzle the one I find most accurate is that the fill is consistently and unnecessarily below where it should be in 2017. Our standard for fill today should be much, much higher than it was twenty or even ten years ago. We now have great computer software and beautiful word lists. Constructors, use them!

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Don't you guys realize homophobia is ok if it comes from the alt-left? Double standard, schmouble standard.

mmespeer 11:02 AM  

@Amie Devero You can access the WSJ puzzles at the Diary of a Crossword Fiend site (link on Rex's site). They are free now although there is some talk of a future pay wall. You can also get the great Sunday Washington Post puzzles, and others there.

puzzlehoarder 11:03 AM  

This constructor is a regular Ming the Merciless of cornball. Most themes seem to involve puns or some other form of trite humor but this guy takes sadistic pleasure in it. Just like Sunday the good fill he's leavened it with is overwhelmed by the theme and the crosswordese it generates. This ESSIE person is new to me so never a complete loss.

dbud 11:12 AM  

The clue for SERB (Kosovo native) is terrible

smoss11 11:13 AM  

Not sure that a manicurist is a professional in the same sense that a dentist is a professional. College degree plus dental school versus a cosmetology course? Was looking for a dentist and maybe a medical specialty? Even e veterinarian? That would make the pun hoof and mouth!!!

mathgent 11:15 AM  

@DJG: I agree completely. I like quote puzzles if the quote is witty, but not this one. And, as @Nancy says, too easy to be any fun.

I do the WSJ puzzle almost every day and I rate it over NYT. They never have no-brainers like this one.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Hillary lost due to Comey and Russian Wikileaks.

jae 11:30 AM  

Easy and stupid.

"Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" is delightful. The series is set in Australia in the 1920's with jazz music for a background and is currently available on Netflix and Acorn. Yeah, ESSIE Davis was a gimme.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

I envy what others have but don't have their ambition.

Happy Pencil 11:47 AM  

After I finished this puzzle, I was kind of looking forward to the savaging it would take, so I'm slightly disappointed that Rex couldn't even muster the energy to complain that much. @DJG, thanks for stepping in to give a constructor's perspective.

@Lewis, I admire your positivity but cannot match it!

I think what bothers me most is that we had another puzzle by THIS SAME CONSTRUCTOR a mere three days ago. That tells me something's seriously rotten in the state of Denmark. The NYT must be in dire need of puzzles or this wouldn't be happening. I have been doing the puzzle for many years now, and I never remember seeing the same constructor's name within the same week -- it has now happened twice in the past few months. Not good.

Joe Bleaux 11:51 AM  

Considering the quality of the puzzle, the most fun to be had today is @Lewis's invitation, so here goes: foot in mouth, blood and guts, flesh and bone. Alas, others that spring to mind are only one body part (which effectively makes them half-assed): hand to hand, heart to heart, toe to toe, face to face, eye to eye. OK ... time for this YOKEL to CLOMP away.

Blue Stater 11:51 AM  

I'm with ya, Rex. Only difference is I've been saying this for 20 years, not five. I persist in the hope that someone among the PTB at the Times will read this and make a change....

Also: it took me FIFTEEN rounds with Captcha to post my comment. This is truly an outrage.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Just google WSJ puzzle-no paywall

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:14 PM  

I took Rex's advice and did the WSJ puzzle. Wow, a much better theme, more interesting words/clues, but the interface is SOOOOO shitty I couldn't believe it. You are WSJ for Christ's sake, this is the best interface you could come up with? Unbelievable.

I hate quips unless they are super witty, and this one is just a lame joke. At least I didn't have to fret over it and finished it in about 15 mins, but still, the WSJ puzzle made me realize that NYT haven't come up with something original for a while now. Sad!

Charles Flaster 12:20 PM  

Monday easy. Totally misplaced by NYT.
Liked it a lot.
Like puns and quips.
Thanks AA

Dick Swart 12:26 PM  

LA Times puzzle in the WAPO has been reconfigured for those who print out for their morning bugle call to brain cells. Format is atrocious!

Bright spoy for today:

T Men ... 1947 ground-breaking film noir!

"Did you ever spend ten nights in a Turkish bath looking for a man? Well, Don't!"
... line from the movie


Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Colbert and Hillary always in touch with middle America.

Robert A. Simon 12:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert A. Simon 12:55 PM  

...your name...(Sigh)

Andrew Heinegg 1:05 PM  

If I were Will Shortz, I would check this blog every day. I sharply doubt that my ego would permit me to take to heart what Mr. Sharp says every day. But, I think much could be learned by seeing the number of comments on a particular puzzle and the tone, if you will, of those comments.

Let's take today's puzzle as an example. If there were a lot of comments and there are not but, it is only @1:00 Eastern time, and there was a fair amount of passion to the pro and con contributions, you could say that:' well, maybe it is not to the majority of contributers taste but, at least it is arousing numerous and strong reactions'.

But, that is not what is happening. Both Rex and the overwhelming number of bloggers make remarks to the effect that it is good or bad but, the overall input is that it is just blah. There is support for suggestions to switch to other puzzle suppliers. And it is this overall tone of ennui (had to get that crossword word in there) in this blog that should concern Mr. Shortz although probably not.

It is a bit difficult to not conclude that the quality of these puzzles is sinking.

DigitalDan 1:08 PM  

If it's time to retire the confederate flag from state capital buildings, perhaps it's also time to retire entries like CSA and REB, clued that way, from the puzzles? I find myself rankling these days, although you wouldn't think a snowflake would have lasted this long in this heat.

CDilly52 1:09 PM  

Hahaha. At least by Wednesday, I expect some bumps and bruises, too!

tea73 1:11 PM  

Not a fan of quips and this one was worse than usual.

I enjoy the criticism I've learned a lot about what makes a good or bad crossword from it.

Interestingly I have an old collection of WSJ puzzles and they were awful - boring and way too easy. I do the current ones from time to time (we print them out so no interface issues) and have found them to be very good.

I wish OFL would go back to highlighting some of the great puzzles he runs across. We did one or two of them. Some were very hard, but so clever. Made me realize what we were missing. But not enough to subscribe to the better puzzles! Life is too short, and I'm not fast enough at these things. At least not yet.

j vicmag 1:12 PM  

"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and beat you witn experience. "
- Mark Twain

CDilly52 1:12 PM  

Completely agree. As someone who has 50 years of experience with this puzzle on a daily basis, I believe that standards have slipped sufficiently to consider the NYT in danger of losing its marquee status. Editing needs a supervisor!

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

Gotta LUV a puzzle where having 3/5 of the quip allows me to put in TOOTH AND NAIL off the first O. But @r.alph's remark about the CSA had me looking in the puzzle for that entry. I found it right where I left a gaping blank square where 36A and 26D meet. DNF on one of the easiest Wednesdays of recent memory. Rats.

@mac, I agree that the quip is begging for another "A" article before MANICURIST, but symmetry requirements being what they are...

Sounds like many people will be happily POLE VAULTing over to the WSJ. I have a couple of indie puzzles in the VAT to be solved. It seems like a great era for puzzledom.

Anoa Bob 1:32 PM  

@Lewis, from a 2010 LAT puzz: HEAD OVER HEELS; FINGER TO NOSE (Field sobriety test); TOOTH AND NAIL (!); TONGUE IN CHEEK.

@mac, I agree it should have been A DENTIST AND A MANICURIST or DENTISTS AND MANICURISTS, but the letter counts of either of these versions don't match the available white square space, so, yep, expediency trumps syntax.

I rarely get much of a thrill from xword themes. I think they would be better suited for a different format, a different venue other than a crossword puzzle. I think they often only serve to drag down the quality of the fill. You know, those words crossing each other.

Big Steve 46 1:32 PM  

Ezra Cornell said, “I would found an institution where any person could find instruction in any study." His friends said, you can't do that - you'll be mobbed with prospective students. Ezra replied, "Wait until you see where I'm going to put it!"

I must be one of the rare solvers who looks upon the x-word as just a small - but very enjoyable - part of the daily newspaper, printed on paper and delivered to my door each morning.(Hence, no complaints about this or almost any other particular puzzle. Like just about everything else in life, some are better than others.) I admit to living in the past to a great extent but at least I try to abide in the "good" past - in which printed newspapers are a precious relic.

Masked and Anonymous 1:49 PM  

har. Quip pangram! If this puz had also had The Circles, they probably woulda roped off the @RP blog write-up, citin molten lava danger.

Like all the body part ideas, but where's the accompanyin quips? That's the real joy of weirdballity this puz invites. Example:
Probably could shorten it up some, to fit in a grid. Maybe.

staff weeject pick: SPH. Joy of Desperate Cookin-up award-winner: SPH.

supher-dupher fillins: SIOUXCITY. JETSTREAM. FLAMBE. PRAVDA. Primo NE/SW weeject stacks.

OK. Now let's get down and analytical on this puz's ass. M&A is talkin 1-Across, here. This has gotta be the moo-cow eazy-E-est WedPuz clue of all time in the entire known universe. [Other than that one {Snob}-Universal clue.] Think about it. How many 4-letter month abbrevs. U got up yer short sleeves, other than SEPT? Best M&A could muster:
* FEBR. [runner-up]
* SEPT. [winner]
(Marc. drop.)

Thanx for the (mostly easy) fun, Mr. Arbesfeld. Don't be such a stranger -- drop by a little more often. Let's maybe even do a special A.A. Week sometime -- M&A'll bring yer own vodka. U sure know @RP wants that. Great follow-up subscription drive, after that there Hide the URI Contest Week.
But seriously, I kinda liked this quippuz. The differentness dude abides.

Masked & Anonym8Us

Want different? Be careful what U wish for:

Dick Swart 1:52 PM  

@Big Steve 46 ...

Hear, Hear!

... a good description of my morning experience except I have to print-out since local daily delivery not a possibility.And I use a variety of fountain pens and ink varying colors while having a cuppa and a chocolate croissant.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Will Shortz wouldn't deign visit this site for the same reason our President passed on the correspondents dinner. Why go someplace where the hatred is like a raw sewage leak? You've got those who create and produce on the one hand, and those who cry and tear down on the other hand. The makers and the takers. Just carry on with what you're doing and don't mind the sore losers.

Unknown 2:07 PM  

DNF -- I refuse to slog through "punny quip" puzzles. If the NYTimes didn't have the occasional Patrick Berry puzzle, I'd cancel my subscription.

GR 2:27 PM  

This was the 3rd puzzle (of 4) at the Canton (CT) tournament last Saturday. Not meant negatively, but I immediately forgot everything about it other than the theme, yay puns (which was OK). Well, a couple of things. XSOUT (boy that's ugly) did not seem to meet with general approval. At least a couple of people went the dog BONE route at first, too.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

@Anonymous 1:58,
Just so you know, I like Will Shortz a lot more than I like Michael Sharp.

Leapfinger 2:32 PM  

'When chemists die, they barium'....

Yeesh,@Roomie, talk about hitting 'em when they're down....

... I'll be happy to CLOMP on yer NUM NUM as soon as I find out where you keep it


Leapfinger 2:39 PM  

Trying to decide what that comment says about you, Mr. Whacks.

jberg 2:56 PM  

I'm surprised so many tried bONE before NONE, since the whole point of the poem is that there was no bone in the cupboard. But yeah, the problem with the puny quip is that it isn't very quippy.

I did like the mini-theme of college founders starting with E, though. Are there others?

William DiGennaro 3:52 PM  

The NYT has standards?

Cassieopia 4:25 PM  

As a newbie who likes punny quips
I come here to find Rex throwing fits
and the posters galore
cry, "It's all that and more!
NYT's xword is becoming the pits!"

Contrarian that I am, or not really contrarian, perhaps just perpetually sunny (you know, that annoying type of person who can find delight in the most hackneyed of experiences), I enjoyed this super fast puzzle and especially liked seeing the quip emerge from the downs.

Happiest moments: learning where Ann and Abigail were born, and recalling fond memories of Lil Abner and setting foods on fire.

Saddest moment: missing ACNE after having it so many days in a row. I guess a SAUNA helped clear up that OILER on the TEEN? (Ugh, apologies, that's pretty awful.)

Shout outs to posters @Aketi for articulating what I too find so compelling about history (I rarely read fiction these days - truth is stranger and more elucidating) and to @M&A for making me laugh with MAYY.

Shout outs to all posters because it's the back-and-forth and crazy ideas and personalities that keep me coming back to this blog.

chefwen 4:34 PM  

@Brett - Sourpuss lately? Rex is always a sourpuss, that's why we love him.

Puzzle partner commented last night, you're done ALREADY, sez I, yup, easiest Wednesday ever, he was still working on his copy and his reply would be NSFO.

Tyler 4:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler 4:42 PM  

Amie, you can find links to the WSJ daily puzzle at crosswordfiend.com.

Mohair Sam 4:47 PM  

@Masked & Anonymous - Your post made the puzzle worth the effort. Just the thought of RP's possible reaction to circles with this one is delightful. And your four letter month abbreviations "maay" have made our day.

QuasiMojo 4:58 PM  

@Nancy, no doubt with the laughing eyes, thank you for the shout-out!

Uke Xensen 5:51 PM  

Seemed an ordinary if easy puzzle, can't share the outrage. The ERIQ / ERIN cross was unknown to me though.

Hartley70 7:27 PM  

@John Child, and I'm sure your dentist loves you. If his rates are anything like my dentist's you may have just bought his child a semester at college. I quite love my dentist too, but I'd much prefer to meet for lunch rather than at the tip of a novacaine injection.

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

Kosovo native is a Serb-- how old is this puzzle? That's been a touchy subject, to say the least, since 2008.

OISK 7:53 PM  

I like quips, but figured this one out immediately, making the puzzle Monday-easy. For me, easier than most Mondays. I don't really mind, but I don't understand why this one appeared today.

Something I didn't comment on that appeared a while ago - don't recall if anyone else said this, but there was a clue something like "First word in the name of many pizza restaurants." And the answer was Mamma. I live in Brooklyn which we immodestly consider the U.S. capital of pizza. There are at least ten pizza places in reasonable walking distance. ( not chains!) No Mammas. I can't recall EVER eating pizza from a "Mamma something" pizzeria. In fact, the overwhelming majority that use people's names, use MALE names. We have Frank's, Joe's, Ray's Famous, Nick's, Di Fara (his name is Dom Di Fara)... in fact, I have never seen a woman operating the pizza oven, or tossing the dough.

Uncle Milford 8:39 PM  

I liked the answer EGGDYE. Don't think I ever saw that in a puzzle. Thats all I got.

Carola 8:47 PM  

I agree with @Rex.

David in CA 8:53 PM  

@rex @quasimoto
How do you possibly justifying saying NYT puzzles are so terrible when so many people, even in this crowd (the ones who suffer Rex), enjoy them just fine. Can't you possibly admit that just maybe it is you and not the evil NYT/Will? (Of course you can find "agreement" on line - can find that for any extreme position, doesn't mean it is true.)

This was a fine, fun puzzle for me. I'm sorry you don't enjoy them, but would sure appreciate you toning down the "this is sh**" comments on things that I and a great number of others enjoy.

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

@OISK, you may think rooklyn is the U.S. capital, but that honour belongs to New Haven, CT (not only the capital but the birthplace of U.S. pizza). I won't argue about the names, though: my best memories there are of Pepe's and The Spot. (Great Italian bakeries nearby, as well! Leave the Uzi, take the canolli!) It may have been Poppa tossing the pizza dough, but Mamma was pretty good at tossing her own dough.

In other news, I'm in the @Big Steve 46 and @Dick Swart camp, even if that labels me Old Fartesque. From the start (with a SCOWL and a CLOMP) to the end with ALLOT of BIERS, I noticed mainly how the fill was FLAMBE'd with style. It might have been remembering ERIQ LaSalle's moody character in ER, but I suspect it was really that POLEVAULTER I met long ago... in Innsbruck, I believe it was...

Apparently some people had a hard time with the pairing of A DENTIST AND [A] MANICURIST. It probly would've been worse with a Cardiologist and a Shoemaker going at it Heart and Sole.

For the present, can we try to maintain a little BONN_ON_ME? If nothing else, that MAYY give us A OUT in SEPT.


Anonymous 9:20 PM  

Wait they found Hillary's classified email on Weiner's laptop because Huma forwarded them to Carlos Danger all because they were investigating Weiner for sexting with a fourteen year old girl and now Trump's president ? I could not have predicted this.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

Naticks galore!

Lee Coller 9:59 PM  

Agree with Rex completely on this one. Think I'll go try today's WSJ (I love their weekend puzzle). Wish the WSJ supported Across Lite.

Craig Percy 12:03 AM  

There's an entire ElHi publishing industry, plus every teacher knows the term and may use it weekly.
Eriq LaSalle is reasonably well known.

Craig Percy 12:06 AM  

I enjoyed the quip. Sorry for those who don't like quip puzzles, but lots of folks do.

Tita A 8:27 AM  

Loved learning from @mac about CLOMP.

Here we had a Nonna's pizzeria that opened recently and closed quickly. Do we have a gender bias in pizza joints?

@m&a...coffee spittake here over circle reaction and abbvs.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

What a negative jerkoff. Glad you didn't get tenure.

Katrina's Rants & Raves 8:40 PM  

Life is too short and too full of information coming at us at warp speed. Snobs need not apply here, so go ahead and leave us chumps for your beloved WSJ puzzle. I enjoy the good and the bad and all the inbetween puzzles that folks construct for us and am thankful that someone still takes the time to make them for our harried pleasure. When I am up in the middle of the night and not heeding the the siren's blue light call of my laptop, it's because I can pull out the NYT crossword and yet again hack away at it. Thank you NY Times and Will Short you are almost always spot on, but please for God's sake take an Ambien or Xanax, whatever.

Nora 1:14 AM  

What indie puzzles would you recommend?

Burma Shave 11:23 AM  


from SIOUXCITY, where TEENs drink and have SECTS if they wanna.
“and I’MHOT WHENADENTIST like you wants LUV in the SAUNA.”


centralscrewtinizer 11:45 AM  

Guess I would rather have a bad puzzle than no puzzle at all.

Whirred Whacks must some special kind of priss to still be taking whacks at Mr. Nye. Laughable and sad at once.

leftcoastTAM 1:22 PM  

Quip is cute, but too obvious and virtually wrote itself. The rest of the puzzle followed suit.

Only significant pause was at SPH, not remembering seeing that abbrev. before. But it was pretty obvious too.

Crosses of course made everything crystal clear.

Easiest Wednesday and fastest solve ever, it seems.

Neither boasting nor complaining.

Diana,LIW 1:34 PM  

Quick - say "quip puzzle" ten times fast. Must clearly pronounce the "p's"

We all have our favorite and not-so-much type of puzzles. When I'm working on an anthology of puzzles, there are some I skip, or put off until I have more patience. (Looking at you, rebi.) Quips and quotes are somewhere in the lower half of my hierarchy, but it's merely that - only my taste and nothing more. Not "good" or "bad." Like Sudoku. Or The Jumble. Or Hints from Heloise, for that matter.

Surprised some have forgotten (never saw???) ERIQ La Salle. How about George Clooney? Two of the original ER Dr. McDreamy types, suffering the ERRs of intern John Carter (Noah Wyle). Good times.

At least I can say I completed two puzzles in a row.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

You are right. It is pretty easy. Not knowing my French I asked about 5-across. The person told me MERE. It is actually PERE. Still given it was the only hint I need and every other answer was correct,and done in a short period of time,that shows it was not too hard.

Sorry you did not enjoy it. Not the most clever or difficult puzzle,but still a fun one.


Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Since you seem to be disappointed the Times why don't you make a blog for other paper's puzzles you prefer, such as the Wall Street Journal?


rondo 2:41 PM  

Just as funny as the Cryptoquip each day in the Mpls paper. Real knee-slappers. I agree about the missing A before MANICURIST. If I read about a golfer and boater, that is one person who is a golfer/boater, so what we have here is a DENTIST/MANICURIST arguing with him/herself. What an EGO.

Saw Hall & OATES a coupla weeks back. Sorry guys, might be time to hang it up. Even SARAH, Smile couldn’t be saved.

PRAVDA translates to “truth” if you didn’t know.

Out of all those E names (ELLE ELIHU EZRA ESSIE ERIQ) ERIN Burnett gets the yeah baby nod.

ALLOT has been said about this puz, I won’t take another JAB at it.

spacecraft 9:12 PM  

My off-again, on-again delivery guy chose today to stay home, and the redelivery didn't take place till after we were gone for the day. Turns out I owe the paperboy a vote of thanks for making me miss a quotepuz. Missing out on this solve is what we used to call "the first shame of the day," i.e., not a shame at all.

See you guys tomorrow.

Diana,LIW 9:42 PM  

Huh! Hey @Spacey - I didn't realize my delivery person brought you your paper too. Gets around!


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