Scarlet stigma / THU 9-7-17 / Old TV screens for short / Kingston dude / Modern educational acronym / Setting of Hercules first labor

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: ABC (1D: Kind of order ... or a hint to this puzzle's unusual construction) — all the Across answers are in alphabetical (aka "ABC"@!?) order:

Word of the Day: CITO Gaston (19D: ___ Gaston, first African-American manager to win a World Series) —
Clarence Edwin "Cito" Gaston (/ˈst ˈɡæstən/; born March 17, 1944) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder and manager. His major league career as a player lasted from 1967 to 1978, most notably for the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves. He spent his entire managerial career with the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first African-American manager in Major League history to win a World Series title. // Cito Gaston managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997, and again from 2008 to 2010. During this time, he managed the Blue Jays to four American League East division titles (1989, 1991, 1992 and 1993), two American League pennants (1992 and 1993) and two World Series titles (1992 and 1993). (wikipedia)
• • •

This was so unpleasant that I'm not gonna spend much time dwelling on it. Truly painful, in *exactly* the way you would expect a stunt-puzzle like this to be painful—the quality of the fill. The actual words in the grid. That you are filling. Ostensibly, for pleasure. Enjoyment. There are maybe a handful of answers that get anywhere near enjoyable. For the most part, it's a garbage heap of crosswordese and subsubcrosswordese, and for what. Alphabeticality!? Let's start with the fact that "ABC order" is not a thing (1D: Kind of order... => ABC). Not not. Not. "Can you put these in ABC order?" asked no one ever except maybe a kindergarten teacher (?). So the revealer is nonsensical. Can we just start (and, in an ideal world, stop) there?? Do you want an sizable but incomplete list of the gunky fill in this thing? No? Too bad: 

House of Pain:
  • SOARTO
  • CITO
  • ABLUSH
  • INUP (!?)
  • EYDIE
  • ESS
  • TIEA (!?)
  • VSO
  • REA
  • IROCS
  • BBL
  • COL
  • HOI
  • CRTS
  • HEE
  • ROLEO
  • IFI (....*$&^)
  • NEU
  • LETTERA
  • MEDO (me don't!)
  • ROWR  
All so we can get Acrosses in ABC (so-called) order. I don't understand how anyone could think this puzzle (with this fill) could be fun to solve. LUCAS ARTS, I liked (42A: Maker of Star Wars and Indiana Jones video games). That was nice. And I enjoy TINA FEY, sure (65A: Former "Weekend Update" co-anchor). But once you grok the theme, there's just nothing to find or discover, and not much to enjoy. At one point early on, I thought I might get through the grid without encountering too much gruesome fill, but then:


When INUP crosses TIEA, then, well, I'LL SEE YOU (in hell)! Nothing here was too difficult, though how the hell am I supposed to know Lady Bird Johnson's name was CLAUDIA?? (17A: Lady Bird Johnson's real given name). I guess there are no famous CLAUDIAs?? That and my TITO-for-CITO mistake mad the NE a little challenging. And my inability to see TINA FEY (I was looking for a single last name) in the SE also resulted in some struggle. Her first and last letters were very late in coming, as the "adjunct" in 60D: Barnyard adjunct made me "??" and the clue on GYM was just hard (63D: It might precede a shower).


I despise all bridge-related clues, but that's just a matter of (good) taste. I won't hold it against the puzzle. But the rest of it, I do hold. Against. Very much. And honestly, that fake lion sound should be RAWR, imo. Just changing the "A" in ROAR to a "W" seems hardly worth it. (Oh look, I'm right, it's RAWR, the end)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

127 comments:

Doc John 6:42 AM  

And the whole alphabet wasn't even represented!

FPBear 6:49 AM  

Loved it!!

Jamie C 6:56 AM  

Worst puzzle in a very long time. (And there's a lot of competition.)

Lewis 7:07 AM  

The question with stunt puzzles like this, for me, is -- was it still a good solve? And for me, it was, overall. The NE corner was very tough for me, not knowing CITO, CLAUDIA, or how to spell EYDIE, and with close to opaque cluing for me. The rest of the puzzle took some wrestling as well. I like when a puzzle is like this, if it's fair. The only places which didn't seem fair was the crossing of CITO and CLAUDIA, which was a genuine Natick for me (but there's that nagging voice inside that insists I should have known Lady Bird's real name), and the STEWIE/ROWR cross (and on another site someone suggested an excellent patch: STEELE for STEWIE and YEASTS for YEARNS). But the rest of the puzzle had so many ohs and ahas that the overall feeling I have for this puzzle is gratitude.

Oh, that cross of COURTING and SHAGS seemed pretty darn incompatible.

I'm glad the puzzle has a CHILL out, a reminder of the importance of puzzles in the overall scheme of life, and a RAINS to remind us to send our thoughts and help, however we can, to those in the big storm down there (not to mention the previous one).

QuasiMojo 7:08 AM  

I love EYDIE Gorme. But that's about all I can say about this travesty of a puzzle. ROWR?? On what planet?

BarbieBarbie 7:17 AM  

Hard, hard, hard, until I grokked the theme. And then easy, easy, easy. Which is about as big an AHA as a puzzle can give you. I loved this puzzle!
I can see why OFL didn't. He wants to be able to write down his memorized vocabulary as fast as possible without having to skew its retrieval through some meta filter. But in my view, what fun is that?? Are flashcards fun?? To paraphrase Rex: No. They. Aren't.
This was great.

More Whit 7:25 AM  

Rowr = the coda to a thunderously awful SW corner. Be brave indeed: this puzzle was the antithesis of a "hoot" and elicited nary a booyah. I'll see you, MON.

kitshef 7:26 AM  

85% easy, then demonic in the NE

I have no problem at all with the fill – it does not seem to have suffered overly from the conceit. But several clues seemed off. That’s not how I use BOOYAH. Also ILL SEE YOU isn’t really the same as ttfn. Norway is ‘a’ land of the midnight sun, but not ‘the’ land of the midnight sun.

On the other hand, 'heading for the fence' is brilliant.

Four chemical elements are named after the Swedish village of Ytterby: YTTRIUM, ytterbium, terbium, and erbium.

Hungry Mother 7:48 AM  

STEWIE makes sense, but ROWR? Not in my universe. Made the puzzle a loser.

Bela 7:51 AM  

Dr. Moreau: Have you forgotten the house of pain?

Sayer of the Law: You! You made us in the house of pain! You made us... things! Not men! Not beasts! Part man... part beast! Things!

Imfromjersey 7:52 AM  

Had no idea what the theme was and in fact the A of ABC was the last thing I filled in. Noticed afterwards and kind of shrugged. I'd say an easy solve and am ambitious theme that suffers from bad fill as @rex said.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Really? You can't even Give some credit to the constructor who had to figure out a way to create a puzzle where ALL of the across answers were in alphabetical order?. The constructor did a brilliant job and deserved credit, not ridicule. Let's see you construct a puzzle like this!?!?.

smalltowndoc 7:56 AM  

Terrible.

And since when is DDS a "license"? Silly me, I thought it was a degree, a prerequisite to obtaining a dental "license".

Exubesq 7:58 AM  

I look forward to Thursday's puzzle most of all, so this one was more disappointing than it probably should be.

Theodore Stamos 8:01 AM  

Yuk. I'm normally a more forgiving guy than Rex on these things. But this was just horrible. ROWR? It's like the constructor just gave up.

Churlish Nabob 8:01 AM  

More of Rex's foul-mouthed ranting.

chefbea 8:14 AM  

Another puzzle I did not like!!! Had no idea what the theme was!! 49 down should have been PASSE.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I'm old enough to remember when Thursday puzzles were cleverer....

Mark 8:20 AM  

I didn't like rawr either, but I googled it and it is an actual thing. So it's not a wrong clue, just a very hard OMS.

wgh 8:23 AM  

I appreciate the difficulty in constructing a puzzle like this. But it wasn't a joy to solve.

Dawn 8:25 AM  

My least enjoyable solving experience, ever. Another puzzle made for the constructor's pleasure and not the solver's. It wasn't difficult after the theme reveal (but why were some letters repeated and others skipped?), just mostly dull. It felt like a puzzle in the back of People magazine, just with older celebrities.

Alec Schwartz 8:25 AM  

I have to say I agreed with Rex until his slap at bridge as a matter of taste. If it weren't for bridge players of years gone by, I tend to think NYT would not have had enough of a following to survive. Why not attack the over abundance of baseball-related clues or South Park or Star Wars in the NYt? Hart to take your seriously when you can't control your criticism of a particular genre of clue.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

If you must insist on using "rowr", please clue it as Row Based Functions for R objects. That is just as obvious. Rowr and Booyah are just yuck, yuck, yuck words. I was not a fan of this puzzle and the conceit was too thin.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Old-fashioned is MOSSY? MUSTY maybe.

This puzzle is terrible.

Hartley70 8:47 AM  

Not a big fan of this puzzle for a Thursday. It played like a themeless and lacked the necessary pizzazz. Run it on Wednesday and I'd have been kinder.

I thought CLAUDIA was exceedingly fair and CITA was not.

Isandxan 8:47 AM  

I've seen Rex use "painful" before, but I think this is the first time a puzzle felt painful to me. Painful is much less than simply not fun. I think I am going to define it, for crosswords, as when you figure out an answer and your first thought isn't "cool" or even "hmmm," but "are you kidding me?" Happened several times in this one.

Mohair Sam 9:02 AM  

Would totally agree with @Rex on this one except it had EYDIE Gorme in it. Therefore it was an excellent puzzle. I fell in love with EYDIE when I was about 10 years old watching The Steve Allen Show, that love has not flagged. Watch her on YouTube singing her 1967 Grammy winning "If He Walked Into My Life" and you'll understand.

ROWR terrible. Only possible clue: Where you are sitting if there are 17 heads between you and the stage.

Incredible wisdom in Dostoyevsky's quote.

@Smalltowndoc - Good point about DDS.

@Kitshef - Neat factoid about Ytterby - And I learned about the village and all four elements just today. Thanks!

Stuart Showalter 9:04 AM  

As usual, Rex needs to CHILL.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Rex is painful. Admired puzzle but too easy. Bridge is a great game. I'll take bridge clues over comic books and rap music any day but that's just my (good) taste.

Pak wendi 9:07 AM  

Awalnya aku hanya mencoba main togel akibat adanya hutang yang sangat banyak dan akhirnya aku buka internet mencari aki yang bisa membantu orang akhirnya di situ lah aku bisa meliat nmor nya AKI NAWE terus aku berpikir aku harus hubungi AKI NAWE meskipun itu dilarang agama ,apa boleh buat nasip sudah jadi bubur,dan akhirnya aku menemukan seorang aki.ternyata alhamdulillah AKI NAWE bisa membantu saya juga dan aku dapat mengubah hidup yang jauh lebih baik berkat bantuan AKI NAWE dgn waktu yang singkat aku sudah membuktikan namanya keajaiban satu hari bisa merubah hidup ,kita yang penting kita tdk boleh putus hasa dan harus berusaha insya allah kita pasti meliat hasil nya sendiri. siapa tau anda berminat silakan hubungi AKI NAWE Di Nmr 085--->"218--->"379--->''259 atau klik dibawah PESUGIHAN TAMPA TUMBAL

Steve Reed 9:08 AM  

OK, you did a nice job! Sheesh.

Ted 9:28 AM  

How do you rank this EASY-MEDIUM?

The insane fill, including gobs of names that I'd never heard before crossing ambiguously-clued nonsense...

Challenging to finish.

I got about 80%, painfully, and then had to slog the rest and finally cheat the last few bits.

Also, STEPHEN FRY featured prominently in V for Vendetta. So that screwed me right off the bat.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Awful Bilge Concocted here. The acronyms! The abbrevs! The pop junk! Rex had to finish it. I didn't. One of the ugliest puzzles I've ever seen.

boomer54 9:39 AM  


Re: 3D ...Plural Clue ... Singular Answer ...

Two Ponies 9:42 AM  

Okay....where is the rest of the alphabet?
Am I missing something?
All of this nonsense for what payoff?

Only bright spots were "heading for the fence"
and my cat Stewie.

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Applying @Lewis's stunt puzzle test...no, this was not a pleasant solve at all. Easy as could be, but the fill is horrible. No unfair crosses in my view, but some of @Pak wendi's (9:07) words would have been an improvement!

Big thumbs-down.

Wm. C. 9:43 AM  



I agree with most of the negative comments above. Evidently, the challenge of achieving the "abc" trick just put too many awful compromises at play. Yeah, there was some good stuff in there, but still ...

Once again. Shortz is to blame for this. Crap will come up to the gate, but the gatekeeper needs to keep it out, or to fix it before admitting it.

""Booyah" is an odd exclamation. Only heard of it from Imus.

jberg 9:49 AM  

If it wasn't for 1D, I'd have thought the theme was "units" by the time I got out of the NW corner. As it was, I was looking for the alphabet to run around the borders or something -- it wasn't until I was all through that I noticed that it was all the entries.

I am sort of surprised that people aren't familiar with MOSSY as a metaphor for old and out-of-date.

And, sticking with the plant kingdom for a moment, I thought of ASTERS right away (mine are just coming into bloom now), but rejected it as too literal.

Doesn't Claudia Cardinale say ROWR to Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther, just before she passes out?

Nancy 9:50 AM  

@Sir Hillary (9:42) -- Hysterical comment!

mathgent 9:51 AM  

Rex said it all. Absolutely terrible.

razerx 9:53 AM  

I wasted so much time trying to make ROAR work.

SouthsideJohnny 10:04 AM  

Only people who do 20+ puzzles week-in and week-out are able to slog their way through this (yet another) garbage-filled swamp. Time to do away with the theme requirement five times a week and just judge submitted puzzles on their individual merits. Question, how does non P.C. lead one to the suffix ESS for 25A ?

Joseph Michael 10:06 AM  

ABC = A Bad Crossword

ROWR alone deserves eternal damnation.

Erik 10:12 AM  

Oof. Terrible.

If any constructors (or editors) read these comments please note that your bar is low to keep most of us happy. Not Rex but the rest of it. Here is the minimum -- decent fill, no stupid gimmicks, and occasional clever cluing. That's it. It's a LOW bar and yet you produce crap like this puzzle.

Sheesh.

puzzlehoarder 10:13 AM  

I have no idea what our host said about this puzzle. If I rant against a puzzle it's strictly my own rant and this one deserves it. I went through the SW rather quickly with MON giving me an m word for 49D I easily put in MOSSY based on the crosses and never read the clue for56D. STEVIE seemed suspect on its own but when I "finished" in the SE and got the "Almost there" it didn't take long to find ROVR and realize something was very wrong. The clue vaguely had something to do ROAR but that wasn't an option. Obviously I was forced to solve on the tablet. I was back at the firehouse after a wonderful 16 days off and this partially explains my foul mood. I refuse to just run the alphabet to find the mystery consonant, Whatever it is I don't really want to know it. I thought looking over the puzzle and actually seeing what the theme was would clear this up but it didn't. I saw the half baked alphabetical order and changed EDDIE to EYDIE. I went through this left to right and top to bottom and in typical fashion when I filled it in and had forgotten all about ABC as soon as I'd entered it. I know I'm wasting a lot of space here but the ultimate blame for ROWR lies with the editor. He can change the puzzles any way he wants to but he loves crap like this. I've said it before but it bears repeating that some day I hope to see the term Shortzian used as pejoratively as Maleskan is. How do entries like DOH, DUH, MWAH, ROWR and BOOYAH enhance anyone's solving experience. I'm all for range in cluing but this bias gets old. Why is CITO as an obscure Latin term no good but as an obscure baseball reference fine? That's enough ranting for today. Most of the puzzle was actually good solving I just don't care to have my time wasted.

Stanley Hudson 10:25 AM  

Joyless fill though I admire the construction.

@Churlish Nabob, I don't find OFL's write-up to be "foul-mouthed." Cranky, lacking generosity, tiresome in that he tends to be hateful most days, churlish (the gratuitous and inexplicable shot at bridge clues)--but not foul-mouthed.

dj1969 10:26 AM  

I had to look up ESS myself - think stewardESS. Makes sense to me now. Still hate ROWR, like most people here it seems.

ArtO 10:38 AM  

Lots of valid criticism for today's effort at a clever construct. Maybe difficult to achieve but...who the hell cares when the puzzle itself is no fun and otherwise doesn't represent Thursday difficulty.

That said, CITO (Gaston) a gimme for me. But can someone adequately explain the rationale for ROWR?

hankster65 10:44 AM  

DNF. I'm claiming a foul on ROWR. Worst answer ever.

Aketi 10:45 AM  

I got the ABC thing right away and thought "is that it"? Tried in vain to see if there was more. Yes, all the acrosses are alphabetized sometimes even to the third letter of the word. But why?

I found HI, ILL, MOO and STY in the sequence of first letters, which was no more interesting than ABC. Actually it's not ABC, it's AABBCCCCCDE

@Kitshef thanks for the Ytterby lesson.

@Sir Hillary, I'm with @Nancy about your comment.

I liked SAMOANS SEEKING STEWIE.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 10:45 AM  

wowr.

M&A
"on the road"

Joseph Smith 10:56 AM  

I'm not gonna bash the constructor because I could never construct a puzzle if my life depended on it. I also finished almost two minutes better than my average, but it was more of a "how about that? All my guesses were right" than a "oh, what a clever puzzle". The whole "theme" was a stretch - I didn't get it until I read the comments. Another one for the history books; c'mon Friday!

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Can anyone explain 63-down? "It might precede a shower" = GYM??? What am I missing here?

jb129 11:01 AM  

AWFUL! And while I agree with Rex, it's definitely not "EASY-Medium"

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

The problem isn't the puzzle.

Aketi 11:11 AM  

@Anonymous 11:01am, unless you are a total slacker when you go to the gym, you would sweat. In which case most people take a shower.

Tom Rowe 11:16 AM  

Despise bridge related clues? You wouldn't if you played bridge. Bridge is still current as the most popular card game despite gentrification. Also, I still don't get the gimmick. It doesn't seem all that alphabetical to me.

CY 11:19 AM  

Seems to have been a polarizing puzzle. I'm in the "loved it" camp. The theme was unusual, technically impressive, and helped resolve some of the otherwise obscure or difficult areas in the puzzle (e.g. CITO), which makes it a winner for me!

nick 11:25 AM  

yeah, really frustrating and disappointing -- i could tell from the very beginning it was gonna be a lousy fill. i was expecting the "theme" to be cleverer and more satisfying, but that satisfaction will never come. a struggle for no reason.

Noam D. Elkies 11:26 AM  

TITO, really? 19D:CITO, whatever -- it's just YAWN (Yet Another Wretched Name) to me, and a b*seball one at that -- but there's no way it could be TITO given the theme. This puzzle does inevitably have issues (11D:EYDIE feels even less plausible than 18D:CITO) but at least most of the entries like 29D:TIE_A are clued so one can just fill them in quickly and move on so that such an entry doesn't become a real barrier to solving. 67A:YTTRIUM was actually one of my first entries (2+8+8+19=36=Kr and then work my way across the next row) and that together with the 1D clue was enough to surmise the theme -- and then it was nice that the theme gave an extra few bits of information in every nook and cranny of the grid.

NDE (not quite in ABC order)

P.S. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the bridge clue for 55A:OVERBIDS. It's even a normal word, not crosswordese like ONE_NO. It's not like the solver is expected to know an endless pantheon of the names of actual bridge players, as happens all the time with sportz namez (which Rex usually passes over in silence while clutching the mantle of "good taste" to complain about one basic bridge term).

Anoa Bob 11:31 AM  

For those wondering about ESS and the "It ain't P.C." clue: Couple of years ago I shopped around a suffix-for-female themed puzz with AVIATRIX, CHANTEUSE, MAJORETTE & SORCERESS for themers and Helen Reddy's I AM WOMAN as the reveal. No one picked it up. One editor said up front that it was a solid effort but that he---oops! I mean this person---would pass because using gender specific terms was no longer politically correct.

Agree with @Mohair, if you already have LETTER A in the grid, why not go with a theater or arena clue for ROW R?

There's a bad case of TIEA NEMEA REA NEU going around these days. They say it is being spread by contact with dirty toilet seats. Question dear reader---did those letter-string globs come from the puzzle or from Pak wendi's @9:07 comment?

GILL I. 11:33 AM  

@Rex...CLAUDIA Cardinale. Do you suppose Lady Bird was named after her? No...don't think so.
So, I'm looking at AA BB CC CC CDE HHH II and then where in the hell did the J's go to? Cripes! Scratch the head and still don't get it...Anyone? What AM I Missing?
Then...I get to 13D and read "Retrieves, as balls" and the answer is SHAGS? When you get shagged to do really retrieve balls? Ouch!
MOSSY and not Musty? IROCS and not Chevy? My bad.
I want to like this. I just can't. I hate to hate a puzzle. I did.
I wanted to say I ADORE IT. I won't.
ABC, go stick a fork in it.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:37 AM  

At least I bet everyone who reads this blog knew in advance how Rex would feel about it, since every clue was in my (elderly) wheelhouse. The only thing that I didn't know immediately was that 'rowr' but since I figured the cartoon guy's name had to be what it was, that was easy to get as well. (At least I knew it WAS a cartoon...even though I'm too old to watch it)). Wasn't really overwhelmed with the theme, because I figured it out at Claudia and then expected at least one answer for every letter... I'm sure unrealistic and impossible , but making any crossword seems that way to me.

RAD2626 11:39 AM  

I agree with the general sentiments expressed here. Had real trouble with the upper 1/3 of the puzzle. Like @Lewis, was sure I should know Lady Bird's given name, but when it fell it was a total surprise. Knew EDYIE Gorme but struggled with the spelling. ABC was my last entry but had no idea what it referred to until I read Jeff Chen last night and even then was confused that not all letters were represented. Oh well.

I think CITO Gaston is famous enough to be included. As important to baseball as the ever popular Alou brothers. As the manager of the 1993 American League All Star team, the game played in rival Baltimore's Camden Yards, his handling of Oriole star pitcher Mike Mussina and his refusal to put Mussina in he game before the home town fans despite it being a 9- 3 blowout, led to the deterioration of the All Star Game, and the Joe Torre among others' penchant to get everyone in the game, ultimately leading to the 2002 tie, and the silly "This time it counts" which has finally thankfully gone the way of Sunday double headers. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/07/the-sad-decline-of-the-mlb-all-star-game-began-in-1993/277729/

Coz Gal 11:41 AM  
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Coz Gal 11:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coz Gal 11:45 AM  

In honor of today's theme: Any boob can do easy fill. Good hard ideas just kinda lose many neophytes. Only people's quizzical reasoning seems to unleash very wonderful, x-tactic, youthful zeal. (Okay, I cheated with "x.")

Two Ponies 11:50 AM  

I thought today might be a good time to drop by Wordplay to read the buzz on this strange puzzle. For all of those commenters who love to bash Rex I have to say in his defense that even when you disagree with him at least he provides us with an open forum for discussion.
The blog comments at Wordplay are heavily sanitized. If you don't believe me just try to say anything edgy and see if it gets through.
I'm probably last on the list of Rex's sycophants but I keep coming here because I can speak my mind. Sure, I get pepper-sprayed sometimes but apparently that is not enough to drive me away.
Whether the puzzle is good or bad, the crowd at this party is always entertaining.
P.S. The puzzle was still terrible.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

ROWR is simply the worst crossword clue I can ever remember.

Malsdemare 12:08 PM  

Ugh! I caught the theme -- sorta-- pretty early but figured it was "each word in a row will start with" the same letter, in alphabetical order. That meant I agonized over the fifth row, the ONLY one to violate that principle until you get to row 12. It didn't help that my non-PC suffix was aSS, which made perfect sense to me (dumbass, smartass, jackass, etc). The southwest was particularly hard since I don't know Family Guy, had moldy, then musty before Mossy. And that RAWR? Maybe the worst fill ever. YTTRIUM looked ever so wrong, but it had to be STY so I just went with it and when I finally changed GeM to GYM (I reasoned that you get a GeM for your engagement and then have a bridal shower; yeah, really tortured the hell out of that one) and saw TINA FEY, I accepted that there really was an element with that strange name.

I could go on but won't. That just wasn't any fun.

Cassieopia 12:08 PM  

Ugh.

kitshef 12:17 PM  

@Boomer54 - bbl is both singular and plural.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Again, can anyone explain 63-down, grammatically? I don't mean conceptually--I get taking a shower after you go to the gym. But this answer does not grammatically match the clue. "The" of "the gym" is implied, but crossword clues do not imply words. This is why we will often see the missing article in the clue in parentheses. "It might precede a shower (with 'the')."

Joe Bleaux 12:36 PM  

Some days, only moving on to this blog makes slogging through such a puzzle worthwhile. Nary an "aha" moment today (the HOT clue was the highlight). @Mohair Sam made me COL (chuckle out loud) with the ROW R clue. @Coz Gal. Well done! (And the x omission is easily forgivable).

old timer 12:52 PM  

I had great hope at first that ABC would the followed on the right by DEF and than EFG on the left, etc. That would have been a great gimmick puzzle. This one stank to high heaven, like that dead skunk in the middle of the road.

I definitely had to cheat, first for YTTRIUM and at the end for STEWIE whom I did not know at all. Which left me with the mysterious and awful ROWR,

It so happens that I knew CLAUDIA. And I have no trouble at all with BOOYAH. CYTO was new to me but at least the crosses were easy there.

Shortz should have rejected this puzzler rather than make us endure ROWR.

ColoradoCog 1:08 PM  

Am I a bad person to admit that the only thing I found fun about doing this puzzle was anticipating Rex's review and the dog pile that I knew would be here?

Anon 1:11 PM  

mossy, musty. I had moldy ....

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

RAWR would have been great... But the puzzle calls for ROWR. ROWR isn't an actual thing.

Bob Mills 1:21 PM  

Lady Bird Johnson= real name Claudia

Pat Nixon= real name Thelma

Eleanor Roosevelt= real name Anna

I agree ROWR is a horrible answer.

Mohair Sam 1:25 PM  

@Coz Gal - Very nice. Xtraordinary as a matter of fact.

Trombone Tom 1:26 PM  

Ah me. I'm not going to pile on the diatribe aimed at this puzzle because I don't have the talent to construct any puzzle. I'll admit that I was disappointed that the alphabetical answers were sort of hit and miss.

I'm always a little leery of how easily "hate" and "despise" are tossed out around here. Seems arbitrary and extreme to me.

On the plus side the clue for HOT was terrific.

As to ROWR, that brings to mind the well-known expletive from Walt Kelley's "Pogo" strip. As Albert Alligator might have said, "Rowrbazzle"!

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

I'm in the @Lewis, @Hartley70 camp today. I don't think the theme IROCS or is a HOOT but I don't think the constructor is an EVIL DOER either. As a themeless puzzle, I found this quite challenging. The cluing made it so.

I love HOT as the answer for "Heading for the fence?" Even after guessing what the "fence" represented, I had to get ABLUSH to fill in the H.

All I could think of to fill in 33A's blank was "music" so INUP gave me a chuckle. Why I had trouble coming up with my favorite green sauce PESTO (verde didn't work with OSLO), I don't know. I thought most people were following the ruleS so NORMS took some black ink damage.

I had STEWIE in at 64A and took it out when YEARNS gave me __WR. Again, finding ROWR gave me a chuckle.

@Rex, me too on _INAFE_, looking for a last name but STY saved the day.

Alex Eaton-Salners, don't let @Rex's review give you an ULCER - this puzzle was fine (but not a Thursday).

Passing Shot 1:30 PM  

@ColoradoCog 1:08
[raises hand] Anticipation of Rex's takedown was the ONLY thing that kept me going through this POS. ROWR can go F itself. Oh wait, it can't, because the puzzle skipped over F.

arBITEr ME.

Matt 1:38 PM  

I hate the clue for ESS. -ess is not now and has never been something anyone minds anyone saying. This clue smacks of Men's Rights Activism bullshit and I hate it-- that whole, "oh, I guess I'm not allowed to say THAT anymore" attitude. Get it outta my puzzles, there's enough of it on the front page every single day!

snowmaiden 1:44 PM  

When I say, "Hey there, tiger!" with my eyes, my mouth always says,"Grrrr!"

chefwen 1:58 PM  

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Pretty much followed the same path as @Lewis.
RAWR, indeed.
All I can say is "Ta-Ta for now!" I'LL SEE YOU in a few weeks.

Jim Curran 1:59 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Curran 2:05 PM  

Anything that has Eydie Gorme in it is a good thing regardless of surrounding content.

https://youtu.be/Wz67AlpAz1U

DrBB 2:12 PM  

I'll cast my vote on the ANNOYING side. For a puzzle this easy to finally hang me up on a misspelling crossed with a character name from a show I've never watched, and one with an unpredictably weird spelling at that, is just, well, annoying. STEWIE, seriously? Well, it crossed my mind, except ROWR? What is that, an acronym?

Other than that it wasn't at all difficult--would have easily finished in <10 min. without that irksome cross in the SE. I never did see the ABC thing, but now that I do: AABBCCCCCDEHHHIILLLLMMMMOOORSSSTYY? OK, they're all alphabetical but within that constraint there's no particular pattern or symmetry. At any rate nothing there that would help with the solve. Not that I demand that of all gimmicks, but failing that, I want there to at least be an Aha! to it.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

More than half posting here hated ROWR, and I can certainly see why, but for a more descriptive explanation for those who did not even understand how it equated as clued, think of Eartha Kitt in her purr-fectly feline Catwoman persona on 60's Batman TV show. Although I almost literally drooled over Julie Newmar in the same role, Ms Kitt was definitely most suited to the part.

DDS seems fair to me for a late week puzzle clue - you certainly need that degree to be 'licensed to drill'.

RT


RT

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Perhaps because I lived in Texas for 10 years in the 80s, as well as being an admirer of Lady Bird, Claudia was not difficult for me: (fyi her full name is Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson, should you ever be asked). Also, I'm old enough to remember when ABC-order was not at all uncommon (Google it). Also, @Smalltowndoc, most all states require a dentist to be licensed. Finally, doesn't Rex ever grow weary of bitching and moaning? What a bore.

Mohair Sam 3:13 PM  

@Jim Curran (2:05) - I staked first claim to the woman and the song at 9:02 this morning. Meet me at High Noon.

Lewis 3:19 PM  

@cozgal -- Good one!
@chefwen -- Have a great time off!

Cassieopia 3:38 PM  

Coming back to explain my "ugh" rating above. It was more than ROWR (which, except for strongly believing it's spelled RaWR, was not too awful in my book.)

No, the bad taste in my mouth was from an abundance of bad fill. As Rex pointed out, a few bad ones here and there are ok and excusable if the puzzle overall is fun. But in today's puzzle, I just kept hitting solutions where I was, like, really??? CALORIC for information on food labels, when the labels say "calories"? I get it, but the cluing still feels slightly off. "Scarlet stigma" is THELETTERA, not LETTERA. ROLEO? Really? I was married to a forester and never heard this term - it was log rolling during Lumberjack Days, although Google says ROLEO is a thang. "Setting of Hercules' first labor" was ok because I learned something there, but I had to Google it given the impossible crosses of STEWIE, SAMOANS, and MON. Especially MON. "Kingston dude" could just have easily been Tim.

But the most egregious is BOOYAH. It does *not* mean "awesome". It means, "I won, so suck it." It's like a verbal mic drop.

Having all of the across solutions in alpha (not ABC) order was indeed an impressive construction feat, and something to admire. But admiration is not the same as fun. And this was no fun at all.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

Still not sure how 'Heading for the fence' yields an answer of 'hot.' How? This simply makes no sense. And 'mossy' for Old Fashioned is just as inane. I thought the online version must've been incorrectly clued when I read those two; they were that bad. I'm alright with cheap gimmicks and obtuse fill, cuz that's just the NYTCP these days, but when clues don't yield correct answers, it's not so much fun.

jb129 4:02 PM  

To "Anonymous" at 11:07 - if the problem "isn't the puzzle" - what is?..... if the majority didn't like it - maybe you're just smarter than the rest of us..... maybe you can enlighten us all

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Anon 3:54, HOT, as in stolen, items are taken to a fence, e.g. a crooked pawnbroker.

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Lojman 4:24 PM  

Perhaps the license in the clue could be taken as 'permission' or 'authorization,' rather than an actual license issued by some governing body. Much like, I assume, 007's 'license to kill' isn't an actual laminated wallet card that he gets updated every 5 years. Although I could be wrong.

But of all the legitimate gripes in this puzzle, you chose that? Sheesh!

So far Monday was the puzzle of the week.

Cheers,
Lojman

semioticus (shelbyl) 4:48 PM  

One of the rare times when I visit this blog to see my dislike voiced by Rex and his first sentence is:

"This was so unpleasant that I'm not gonna spend much time dwelling on it."

NOOOOOO DWELL ON IT ALL YOUR HATE IS VALID WITH THIS ONE C'MOOOOOON

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

Reply to Joe Bleaux - Think of Gym as in "Fifth period I have Gym, Sixth is French."

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Anonymous 5 pm was replying to Anonymous 12:29, who lives next door to Joe Bleaux...

Z 5:06 PM  

I liked it more than Rex.

I understand why a constructor would try this. It's a challenge to construct. But I've said it before and I'll probably say it again; I enjoy wordplay. Letter play not so much.

@M&A - Ah, the always valid EYDIE Gormé Test. And @Jim Curran uses the same metric. Constructors take heed.

G. Weissman 5:33 PM  

Agreed.

G. Weissman 5:34 PM  

When I got YTTRIUM I thought, "I'm done with this crap puzzle." Thanks for confirming that it would have been a waste of time and energy.

Kim Jamul 5:42 PM  

Shower after gym (class or workout).

jae 6:41 PM  

Medium for me. MOldY before MOSSY and ABashed wouldn't fit for 8d.

I had to briefly stare at the grid after I finished to verify what I correctly thought was the theme, i.e. the theme did not aid the solve for me. The construction stunt was impressive but it required too many compromises to be much fun.....ROWR!

Bridge fans might be interested in what Stephan Pastis had to say today
pearls

Alpha-Data 7:11 PM  

I almost flung my iPad across the room at ROWR! I hated this one more than any puzzle in recent memory!

Joe Dipinto 7:15 PM  

I wonder if @Debby Salter, M.D. 4:06 said "Rowrrr!" to her ex-husband when he showed up at her office.

Joe Dipinto 7:39 PM  

At Anonymous 2:13 - I don't understand all the hate being heaped on ROWR here. It was my favorite answer. I've seen it in print, I've heard it purred facetiously -- it's onomatopoeia. And it's definitely *not* "rawr" as Rex and others are suggesting it should be -- that's just "roar" misspelled.

MetroGnome 8:32 PM  

Anonymous (3:54): A stolen (i.e., HOT) item will probably be sold to a "fence" -- i.e., one who purchases and then sells stolen goods.

That was actually a good one, I thought -- but what the hell is a BOOYAH? Also, I get very tired of arcane/obscure/arbitrary/"GOTCHA!" abbreviations ("BBL"? WHAAA???) in both clues and answers . . . (I seem to remember "WSE" and "CTN" one time, which was at least arguably even worse!)

nate shafroth 8:46 PM  

Like everyone else born after 1975, I have never once heard of EYDIE Gorme. That corner of the puzzle was nearly impossible, crossing with BOOYAH, which means something like "so there," not "awesome!" And Lady Bird's name, which I didn't know and took forever to see because EMMIE and ELLIE were the only names that seemed plausible for this Gorme person, whom I gather was some kind of D-list celebrity half a century ago.

Also agree that the "word" is RAWR.

Blackbird 8:53 PM  

Medium-challenging, sometimes irritating, yet some of the nitpicking comments are over the top. Rowr is a thing -- contemporary slang, defiinitely a thing. Indicates feline arousal. Problem for me was the "Familu Guy" clue -- who? Stewie? Who watches this dumb TV show? I sure don't. The Claudia-Cito cross works even if one doesn't know either name. Sure, Cito could have been Tito, but with a set-up of _laudia, the _ can only be a C. Claudia gives us Cito. No problem. Loved 59A -- somehow, with just a letter or two, Samoan suddenly was the one and only true answer. "Talofa, afio mai" couldn't be anything else but Samoan! 37A clue, Scarlet stigma, was terrific. 49A Kingston dude was another fine clue. Time to lighten up -- puzzle had a lot of fine things going for it. The little piddling problems don't add up to trashing the puzzle. It's fine!

Blackbird 9:07 PM  

25A clue, Non-P.C. suffix, and answer, Ess, is excellent. Using generic words rather than gendered words, is usually preferable. Consider these combinations: actor-actress, waiter-waitress, lion-lioness, Jew-Jewess, Negro-Negress, tailor-seamstress, launderer, laundress, villain-villainess. What is the point of the -ess differentiation? When does it matter? If I remember correctly -- it's been at least 50 years since I read "Anti-Semite and Jew" by Jean-Paul Sartre -- Sartre pointed out that the words Negress and Jewess connote rape. Crossword puzzles exist to be solved -- nonetheless, the cultural nuances in clues and answers are meaningful. How many puzzle constructors use the name Cito Gaston? How many people, including sports fans, easily fill in the answer? We learn when we solve puzzles! So, learn from Alex Eaton-Salners!

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

I'm kind of stunned. I mean, it's not every letter of the alphabet; some are repeated some aren't; some are an entire line, some aren't; I consider myself an existentialist, but even I'm asking - what is the point of this?

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

Bitch, bitch, bitch , bitch. it's laughable. the puzzle was fine. the bloggers are in the majority nit picking morons. and so many erroneous tracks. most of the outrages are nonsensical.

dmp 11:45 PM  

Word.

Joe Bleaux 12:15 PM  

Don't sweat it😉

Blue Stater 7:53 PM  

Well, glad I didn't do this until Friday evening. But sorry I tried even then. As so many have written, worst in recent memory, and the competition is very stiff.

Xyore 7:28 AM  

Very nice post

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

Very disappointed Will Shortz let this slide.

BurnThis 12:38 AM  

Loved your ROWR clue! May I steal it if I ever am stuck at ROW??

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