Shakespearean cries / MON 2-19-18 / Uncle Sam's land for short / Hybrid picnic utensil / Onetime Pontiac muscle car

Monday, February 19, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Monday) (30 seconds over average time)


THEME: president names + a random letter, anagrammed for some reason...

Theme answers:
  • LIFEGUARD (17A: GARFIELD + U = Beach V.I.P.)
  • AND SO AM I (26A: MADISON + A = "Me, too!")
  • FILM LOVER (39A: FILLMORE + V = Movie buff)
  • HAND GRIP (54A: HARDING + P = Squeezable exercise tool)
  • POLICE DOG (66A: COOLIDGE + P = Narc's four-footed helper)
U + A + V + P + P = ............ ?????? UV APP? VA PUP? I'm sure it's something presidential...

Word of the Day: Queen of SHEBA (58D: Queen of ___ (visitor of King Solomon, in the Bible)) —
The Queen of Sheba is a Biblical and Quranic figure. The tale of her visit to King Solomon has undergone extensive Jewish, Islamic, and Ethiopian elaborations, and has become the subject of one of the most widespread and fertile cycles of legends in the Orient. //  The queen of Sheba (מַלְכַּת־שְׁבָא‬, "malkat-šəḇā" in the Hebrew Bible, βασίλισσα Σαβὰ in the Septuagint, Syriac ܡܠܟܬ ܫܒܐ, Ethiopic ንግሥተ፡ሳባእ፡) came to Jerusalem "with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones" (I Kings 10:2). "Never again came such an abundance of spices" (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9) as those she gave to Solomon. She came "to prove him with hard questions," which Solomon answered to her satisfaction. They exchanged gifts, after which she returned to her land. (wikipedia)
• • •

We need to talk about how objectively bad this puzzle is. Is it performance art? That is the only reasonable explanation I can think of. It's a parody of a bad idea designed to elicit bafflement and anger in people who actually care about good puzzles. Maybe I'm on camera right now? I'm not even angry, I'm just blinking in stunned bemusement. The theme clues are bonkers, esp. for a Monday. Visually painful and confusing. Further: totally unnecessary. I mercifully figured out fairly early on that I did not need to even look at the first part of the theme clues. I just read the post-"=" part and that ended up working just fine. Let's talk specifically about why this is a substandard puzzle. There are two main reasons: the added letters have no rationale, and the anagramming has no rationale. Random added letters, anagrams happening for no reason. Add to that the fact that you can do what I did—just ignore the presidential word math part—and still solve it (i.e. the fact that the theme is irrelevant and ignorable) and, I hope, you can see why this just isn't up to snuff. It's quite baffling that this puzzle was accepted for publication by anyone, let alone the outlet that continues to call itself "The Best Puzzle in the World." People seem to think that I have it in for Will, or for this constructor, or blah blah blah, but I promise you, talk to *any* experienced constructor, and, while they may not use language as strong as mine, they will tell you what's wrong with this puzzle right quick, and the reasons they give will overlap substantially with my own.


AND SO AM I is so weak, especially as a themer. Forced and awkward and anti-climactic. And HANDGRIP isn't much better—I had no idea those squeezy thingies even had a name. Are there really no better PRESIDENT + LETTER anagrams out there? These themers are generally a SAD LOT. Why doesn't this puzzle do *anything* well?! I can't stop laughing at LAY EGGS (48D: What hens do), which is about as scintillating and stand-alone worthy as EAT FOOD or DRIVE CARS. Also, and this is an undeniable editing gaffe, you can't have a clue with "eggs" in it anywhere when EGGS is in the grid, and you *especially* can't have it in the clue for an answer that both means "EGGS" *and* crosses your EGGS answer (53A: Lab eggs = OVA). I teach Shakespeare and had no idea AYS were [Shakespearean cries]. Don't blame Shakespeare for your bad fill. I will say one nice thing about this puzzle: it has a dog in it. Nothing with dog in it can be all bad. Just, you know, substantially bad. I DIG and I FOLD right next to each other? Really. OK, I FOLD, good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

129 comments:

Whirred Whacks 12:13 AM  

I liked this a lot. Another Bruce Haight gem. A fun and whimsical approach to a made-up holiday (Presidents’s Day); I grew up with Washington’s Birthday. Just right!

Rex likes to dump on Bruce Haight. Perhaps he’s jealous that Bruce’s real job provides a useful service to society: he’s a successful and accomplished eye surgeon. Rex’s day job is hanging out with gender studies specialists and creating critiques.

TomAz 12:29 AM  

Sometimes Rex writes reviews and I read them and nod my head and think 'yes! exactly!' Sometimes my reaction is more like, yeah, ok I see that. But not tonight. I haven't a clue where this review is coming from. My experience was 180 degrees different.

Presidents Day was the theme. We had HALFWAY, LEAP year, CALifornia, SALE, HOLIDAY, etc to support the theme. The anagrams did as well ... "the anagramming has no rationale" is just plain wrong. The anagrams were not necessary information, but so what? They added a dimension to the cluing which wouldn't have been there otherwise. They added a bit of color, some depth. Who cares if the added letters are random? C'mon man.

If anything, the anagrams sped things up for me a tiny bit. Beach VIP? why that could be.. ok.. use these letters.. ok LIFEGUARD fits. I finished in slightly faster than average Monday time. I credit the anagrams. hehe.

Overall I thought the puzzle was good. I liked it. And I hate Presidents Day.

I mean, really? We have a day to celebrate all of the Presidents? Including the current one? Or the previous one, whom I happen to admire but others -- I'm looking at you, Anonymous -- despise? Or the one who bought the electoral college and ended Reconstruction to sell off railroad rights to the West at a bargain-basement price? Columbus Day is bad, but Presidents Day isn't too far off.


Anon 12:30 AM  

You're an eye surgeon?

Moly Shu 12:33 AM  

I usually disagree with OFL when he pans a puzzle. And by usually, I mean 98% of the time. But, today, hoo boy, I think he was kind. Really bad IMHO. EVENONE and LAYEGGS ? Come on. Not even an EVILEYE can redeem this.
Sorry @Whirred but I humbly disagree. Although I do like the gender studies specialist crack.

Tom 12:50 AM  

Blasted through this without even thinking about the theme. Learned about it here and didn't care. Just a quickie ho hum, let's move on to Tuesday.

Geophany 1:11 AM  

I kept muttering “are you kidding?” It’s literal, clunky, and lacks style. I have no use for anagrams in a puzzle unless there’s some uncanny or at least clever meta reason. I wish for Mondays that are sweet and clear—it’s a great time for a puzzle to shine.

chefwen 1:11 AM  

Didn’t love it, didn’t hate It, just did it. Only one write over at 34D I’m Out before I FOLD.

Hi @CLARK 16A, miss your comments.

phil phil 1:18 AM  

I APPUV this puzzle

Actually if they did a clue.ans without any reference to Presidents and had the answers anagram to a pres name that would be cool. And the puzzle could have still been made Monday easy just the theme would have been a bit to grok.

Harryp 1:28 AM  

This is what I was talking about yesterday. No knowledge of the theme, but solved the puzzle in 9:48, where my Monday average is 12:01. I had not conception of the theme until I came to this blog, but why was I able to solve it in an easy time? I am not bragging, I am clueless.

jae 2:00 AM  

Medium for me. I'm with @chefwen...meh.

ese 2:19 AM  

I often see people disagreeing with Rex on early week puzzles. As a novice solver, it always frustrates me when Monday fill falls flat. The point of early week puzzles isn't just for people who are already great at crosswords to have a fun, easy day - they're also supposed to be good, consistent (!) puzzles for people who aren't there yet. I think it's a lot more telling to see which Mondays newer solvers get stuck on. Let's keep the bar high.

'merican in Paris 2:33 AM  

HEMS. Hmm. I can see why, objectively, @Rex would be highly critical of this puzzle. For me, it was OK as a puzzle, but I'm with the rest in not liking Presidents' Day. I, too, grew up with Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday -- both celebrated in Maine, where I lived until I turned 8. Then we moved to the South, where Lincoln's Birthday was largely ignored. Was Presidents' Day created in an attempt to gloss over that little issue?

Only hic-up in this one was entering RHein (the German spelling) before RHINE. By the way, our current president's ancestral village, Kallstadt, is located in the German state (Land) of Rheinland-Pfalz. Fun fact: immigration records list DJT's grandfather as Friedr. Trumpf. Other variations in spelling of the surname in the Kallstadt village archives include Drumb, Tromb, Tromp, Trum, Trumpff, and Dromb. Despite rumors to the contrary, there is (as yet) no record of one of those variations being "Dumb" or "Dummkopf".

To think that we haven't yet even reached the HALF-WAY mark of this ME-FIRST presidency, whose icon seems to be more a POLICE DOG than a BALD eagle. I'm waiting for the FILM to be OVER, hoping it will end in a whimper rather than a huge BANG courtesy of a careless tweet misread by North Korea. My PLEA to voters: next time, please, look before you LEAP. (I know, DREAM ON!)

Robin 2:34 AM  

In short? The theme on this and even more so the implementation thereof ...sucked.

BTW: Officially, the holidays' is Washington's Birthday (Observed). It is not Presidents' Day or some such other BS. The Times should know this.

Anonymous 3:35 AM  

"Nothing with dog in it can be all bad" is only almost true. You forget Korean shish kebab.

Johnny 3:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thomaso808 3:39 AM  

Liked it. It was easy as a Monday should be, but not so easy that I could just write in answers without thinking.

I get it that the clue anagrams were totally unnecessary, but they did add to the puzzle, especially as a President’s Day theme.

One nit on the clue for 57A. Speaking as a white man who played basketball for 45+ years, wouldn’t it have been enough to just clue it as “Actor Snipes” without rubbing it in?

Clark 3:56 AM  

Fair to middlin', I guess. No outrage here.

Hi @chefwen. I've always been a night commenter—which works when the post goes up the night before, like this one.

I don't get my name in the puzzle very often. My cat Obi is the winner in that department. Star wars plus Japanese apparel. Time to switch my avatar back to him.

The Bard 5:54 AM  

The Two Gentlemen of Verona,Act I, scene I

SPEED: Ay sir: I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her,
a laced mutton, and she, a laced mutton, gave me, a
lost mutton, nothing for my labour.

PROTEUS: Here's too small a pasture for such store of muttons.

SPEED: If the ground be overcharged, you were best stick her.

PROTEUS: Nay: in that you are astray, 'twere best pound you.

SPEED: Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for
carrying your letter.

PROTEUS: You mistake; I mean the pound,--a pinfold.

SPEED: From a pound to a pin? fold it over and over,
'Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to
your lover.

PROTEUS: But what said she?

SPEED: [First nodding] Ay.

PROTEUS: Nod--Ay--why, that's noddy.

SPEED: You mistook, sir; I say, she did nod: and you ask
me if she did nod; and I say, 'Ay.'

Lewis 5:55 AM  

Bruce, the puzzle is clean with a Monday-cute theme.

I know you didn't intend it, but it has made me reflective on two fronts. First, it felt way too soon for BANG -- I would have liked its cross SHEBA to be SHESA (as in Beatle's song "_____ Woman", Rolling Stones song "_____ Rainbow", or Tom Jones song "_____ A Lady"). SHESA is not a great-looking crossword answer, but SANG would not have wounded like what is there.

Second, the focus on President's Day made me realize, really think about, what can be good about the Presidency, and what is missing in this one, our ME FIRST national symbol. (For what its worth, TRUMP + E = TERM UP.)

It's not your fault, Bruce, but while the crossword place in my brain as usual had a good time filling in the squares, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth.

Really? 6:06 AM  

Compromising photos... the only possible explanation.

Loren Muse Smith 6:44 AM  

Do anagrams float my boat? Not really. Do I wish the added letters PAPUV had been POTUS? Yes. But did I enjoy this Presidents’ Day theme with all the bajillion periphery entries with presidentish themes? Yes! (I made a promise to @Hypocrisy Hater that I’d stop with all the cowardly little cheap shots at our current Prez, but man oh man oh man are there so many possibilities this morning… including 37D. Ok. Sorry.)

So anyway, that this puzzle didn’t elicit bafflement and anger on my part means I don’t care about good puzzles? Hmm.

It’s one thing to attack the grid, the fill, the theme. But it’s quite another to attack the constructor. A while back Rex said of Bruce, “only someone actively committed to joylessness could've produced this.” And today he avows that Bruce “designed this to elicit bafflement and anger in people who actually care about good puzzles.” This is ridiculous, incendiary malice. Not insightful, but rather inciteful.

So let me get this straight... Bruce Haight, a man actively committed to joylessness, designed this puzzle to elicit bafflement and anger in people who actually care about good puzzles. This is over the line. On more than one front. First it implies that Bruce’s aim is to displease. Secondly, it implies that anyone who enjoyed this puzzle doesn’t care about good puzzles.

I read this blog for a couple of months before I even noticed that there was a comment section. I imagine tons of readers still don’t realize there’s a comments section. So down here in our little Whoville, as it were, lots of us continue to disagree with the vitriol of the main write-up and point out all the positives of the day’s fare, defend the fill, theme, constructor. But I imagine we go largely unheard.

Bruce – I know you to be a witty, fun, discerning guy who has gently, politely shot down lots of my ideas ‘cause they weren’t good enough. And we all know you to be an amiable fellow who takes Rex’s snark with a grain of salt.

YOPP!

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

I'm another who often disagrees with Rex's criticism, but in this case, he was kind.

This puzzle is horrendously bad.

I'm stunned that anagrams were clued by giving the actual word. I know, it's Monday, but there are obviously ways to make a puzzle Monday-easy without making it dumb and uncreative.

Beyond that, there's not a single creative clue or original fill. I'm sure I've seen nearly every single word in this puzzle in another puzzle in the last month: HEMS, OVA, SHEL, ISMS, etc.

What is going on with the once-great New York Times Crossword? It's sad.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

again, the early week puz review never fails to amuse me. if the rexster gets this wound up about a monday puz, imagine his outrage over something that really matters.

ok, the concept was a little weak but the execution worked. kudos for that.


garfield? the cat? who knew! we need a president simpson. vote for lisa!

#lisasimpsonforpres2020

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

I agree with @Rex that the presidential anagrams were superfluous. I thought they were also a bit silly. What I’m scratching my head about is why such an easy puzzle took him 30 seconds over his average Monday time! I conclude that he was so distracted by thinking up snark to heap on Bruce Haight that he couldn’t do any better. OFL’s reviews are often skewed by personal animosity. Too bad, because the rest of the time his comments are interesting. @LMS. How some better presidential anagrams?

chefbea 7:53 AM  

Did't get the anagram part!!!

Stanley Hudson 8:03 AM  

Seemed just fine to me for a Monday.

I’m taken aback by the vitriol in Rex’s write-up. Over the course of my 35 years in higher ed I’ve reviewed dozens of books for scholarly publications, and while some of them have been pretty bad I’ve never gotten personal.

OldMotherRiley 8:05 AM  

Why would Rex ask if this is performance art?

QuasiMojo 8:07 AM  

Maybe it's because I love Anagrams, or maybe because I am so used to bad puzzles at the NYT lately that I didn't mind this one so much. My main complaint today is that when I finished the puzzle (correctly) the online thingamajig didn't kick in and I had to click for the Reveal only to find that I had all the right answers. I know, I know, someone out there is going to say I made a typo, but honestly, I didn't.

I have nothing at all funny to say today (sorry @Nancy) except that I had no idea it was "President's Day" or that today is a "holiday" (remember when they were "holy days"??? Considering the run of bad presidents we've had since I was in kneepants (Obama being the only exception, and I wasn't even a big fan of his) I'm not sure it's something to celebrate at all.

Two Ponies 8:13 AM  

Boring holiday, boring puzzle.

Rex's comment equating lay eggs to eat food or drive cars was rather funny and a good point.

Someone recommended Winterdance yesterday and it looks like a fun read. Thanks for yet again a helpful hint from the blog crowd.
I also agree with Rex that "Nothing with dog in it can be all bad".

Birchbark 8:16 AM  

I.M. PEI for president. YETI LIES.

A SPORK in every kitchen.

The sun walks steadily into Pisces, and still no AMENHOTEP in 2018.

PoopyPants 8:19 AM  

Some puzzle reviewers are always looking for "something new, something different." Well, this is an attempt. Not saying it's great, but I enjoyed, and more than most BH puzzles. I agree that the added letter should spell or anagram something itself and that maybe there could be bigger theme payoff phrases. I'm afraid those who can't whip through this puzzle with a bit of a smile are just a sad lot.

mmorgan 8:26 AM  

I also solved by only looking at the right side of the = sign once I realized the left side was a meaningless anagram. Maybe it was satisfying to construct but not so much fun to solve. I agree with Rex, though with less vituperation.

I could be wrong but my impression is that Pres. Day came about because having two holidays less than two weeks apart (one for Washington, one for Lincoln) was too disruptive for schools and others. It's one of those holidays I can easily ignore (unlike the really important ones, like Ground Hog's Day).

Stephen Minehart 8:31 AM  

A high quality theme changes the way the solver finishes a puzzle. The best themes impede a conventional solving approach and open a second path to completing the grid. While I can't work myself up into a lather over a crossword puzzle quite like Rex can, I agree that this theme is objectively not good. I completely ignored the anagrams and only noted that there was a presidential theme when reading this blog. Other than the total fail on the theme, this puzzle was fine. The grid was clean and it was normal Monday easy.

@Loren Muse Smith: Don't sell yourself short. Many casual solvers read this blog, and many of them also read, and care about, what you and other regular commenters have to say.

gruffed 8:38 AM  

I think Rex is so hung up on speed-solving that because it took him a whopping 30 seconds over his average Monday puzzle time, he has no recourse but to attack the puzzle and its constructor and its editor and its newspaper in an unseemly, vitriolic rant. Ah, the joy of crossword puzzles! I now see the true meaning of Rex's self-bestowed sobriquet "Kind of Crossworld" - emphasis on Cross!

GILL I. 8:42 AM  

This one is screaming for a @joho story.
SLAM BANG LIES
I DIG EVIL EYE GHOULS
DREAM ON PLEA
HALFWAY ODORS
LULUS LAY EGGS
SAD LOT ERA.
I even wondered if Trump said tickle me MARLA.
Such a happy crossword.....Hmmm.
I liked it fine. Give me an anagram puzzle and the brain does a switcheroo. I need that on a Monday in the AM.
So Mr. Haight is an eye doctor. I needed you some months ago when deciding to have my eyeballs lazed. Best decision I made.
Like @Quasi, I didn't even know today was a HOLIDAY. When you're retired every day is like a HOLIDAY. Oh, right. Presidents Days SALE!. I think I'll go out and buy a rug.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Was the fastest time in months. I think Rex had a bad Sunday night and took it out on the puzzle. I can add a snide remark, but hat would sound like a Rex review.

Nancy 8:55 AM  

I didn't know Presidents were elected in LEAP years. Sure wish we could have LEAPt over this last one. (Yes, yes, I know, everyone, but the temptation was irresistible.)

A sort of on-again-off-again Presidential theme, made more interesting by the anagrams. Some thinking was therefore required -- always good on a Monday. This is not Haight's best effort, but someone has to do the Mondays, right? Perfectly OK, no more.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Rex's book should be called I Haighted, Haighted, Hiaghted This Puzzle.

I usually think Rex is too harsh and comes off as a bit entitled, and that he's too rough on Bruce Haight specifically. I've enjoyed some of Bruce's work, and I think the quality of his grids has been improving noticeably over the last couple of years. But I did not like this puzzle at all. I found it willfully boring. Today, Rex, I get you.

Jim in Chicago 9:19 AM  

Just pointing out that when it is a leap year there is a presidential election, but the opposite is not true. 2000 was an election year but wasn’t a leap year.

mathgent 9:24 AM  

I like anagrams. Unscrambling the letters was enjoyable. But the fill is deplorable, even for Monday. "What hens do." C'mon, man.

The pity is that Bruce Haight is one of my favorites.

@Whirred Whacks (12:13): You're also one of my favorites, but I think that you got a little carried away in putting down Rex.


burtonkd 9:31 AM  

@TomAz - nicely put
@Loren - If time is short, I go straight to your comments - there has to be a teacher of the year in there for you somewhere. Everyday, you bring something unique, human and interesting! So yes, anyone who hasn’t found the tiny comments link is definitely at a loss.

I was just congratulating myself for being able to read Rex’s commentary without feeling a desire to write something disparaging (OK, just one: In the same manner, I congratulate myself for not getting all worked up for every POTUS tweet)

Anagram using word plus a letter is a common device for Will Shortz’s Sunday NPR puzzles, so congrats to Bruce knowing his audience.

This blog reminds me of my days as a classical piano student - I would go and hear a recording or performance and think that my teacher would love this - only to find out that I was a fool to even waste my time listening. Or, the converse when I was ready to ridicule and it turned out to be the most sublime performance of the century. Half of gaining experience is learning from the experience of someone and the other is learning that your initial instincts were just as valid, and knowing how to better justify them.

I thought today would be praised for relative lack of bad fill: AY, AYES, OVA, yes but all others are solid words. Presidential theme for a holiday that falls on a Monday. Anagrams not necessary to solve, but so what - just a little extra reveal after the solve. Plus other thematic answers.

John Child 9:37 AM  

{Lab eggs}, LAY EGGS. Wha? Is that now OK?

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

@Jim in Chicago.

2000 was a leap year.

Nancy 9:40 AM  

Another hand up for not knowing today is a HOLIDAY. @GILL is right: when you're retired, every day is a HOLIDAY. And GILL (8:42), "tickle me MARLA" is just too funny!

@Quasi: I didn't know you loved anagrams. If only there were hundreds of thousands more like you! When I took my ms. comprised of 41 anagrammed verses, to the head of the biggest crossword puzzle publishing house in the USOFA (someone I've known since my earliest days in publishing), she said: "I took this to my Puzzle People and they said 'Anagrams don't sell'." Sigh. Double sigh. But if I had your contact info, Quasi, I could send you some samples. If you want to contact me off-line, many people who have their emails up on their blog profile have my email: @Hartley, @Teedmn, @George Barany, @Lewis, @jberg, to name just a few. Here's an example of just what you're missing. (Other anagram lovers, all four of you, this is for you too, if you're intrigued. Fill in the blanks with ordinary words, no proper names. All the words are anagrams of each other. When completed the poem will scan perfectly:

DIABOLICAL (5 letters)

The ----- today wasn't tricky enough,
The editor just made it tougher.
He wants all our ----- to be dripping with sweat,
He wants all us solvers to suffer.
Now you know the -----, it's a Saturday grid,
The clues will be weird and Shortz-sited,
The answers as long as a passage of -----,
Your every attempt will be blighted.
And just as a ----- is a thing that will grow
From a seed to a bean to a bean dish,
A puzzle's a thing that will grow through the week
From the docile and sweet to the fiendish.

############

(Please no spoilers today. I'll reveal the answers tomorrow.)


Z 9:57 AM  

@LMS is correct that many don’t read the comments. Many do. I’ve no idea what the breakdown is. I took a break from commenting when the anonymice infestation was ruining the place but then @Lewis did a “come back” and I met someone who said, “You’re one of the people I read everyday.” Gobsmacked for sure, but I guess if one or two people care about my idiosyncratic left-wing xword observations I can share them.

@LMS - Your last paragraph can be (and I am sure it is) entirely true and Rex can still be right. It’s one thing to have a different aesthetic about things (liking anagrams or not) and another to not massage that aesthetic into something better. Cramming in a bunch of presidential stuff is a plus, but the central theme idea should be rock solid and this one just isn’t. Why hasn’t anyone said, “Make the added letters POTUS and now you have a publishable theme.” Or, “you have three decent themers here, go with them” (although somehow having only three good themers doesn’t seem acceptable anymore). We have seen other constructors get less than great puzzles published and then improve with time. I’m hoping that will be true with Haight. Candidly, right now it looks like no one is demanding more. Rex may or may not have a skewed view of how good the NYTX was in the past, but I wish Shortz was as much of an a-hole about puzzle quality as Rex is.

@Whirred Whacks - Seriously? You are not even a little embarrassed by that comment? Do you even have any inkling how that comment makes you look? I wasn’t anticipating feeling fremdschämen first thing this morning.

@anon9:38 - You are correct. Usually years divisible by 4 and divisible by 100 are not leap years, but if they are divisible by 400 they are.

Seth 10:00 AM  

Holy crap, Bruce actually thought that using the added letters UAVPP was an improvement. In his comments on xwordinfo, he said he "went all out and came up with add-on letters that anagram to 'V.A. pup,' which is of course closely related to a POLICE DOG."

To be clear, I don't feel quite as strongly against random added letters as Rex does, but I certainly agree with the sentiment. But the fact that Bruce actually thinks these letters are an improvement is pretty ridiculous. Unless his statement was just a tongue-in-cheek jab at his detractors, like "Here, I'll throw you a bone if you just shut up about it."

Ross T 10:01 AM  

I think this puzzle is poor. Putting that aside:

It seems to me that a masterfully constructed puzzle will give your average solver a disproportionately small bump in enjoyment. They enjoy it more, sure, but it's still a crossword puzzle.

Similarly, a very bad puzzle represents (again, for *most* people), a relatively small net loss in enjoyment.

So when folks clutch their pearls at Rex's strong and unvarnished negative opinions, I think it's because they're looking at the puzzle as only a puzzle. Low-stakes. Not make-or-break in terms of... anything. Why exert yourself towards insulting the work of a puzzle maker!

But I think that's wrong. Personally, I want deeply passionate people for whom the puzzle is Very Meaningful. I want a bizarrely impassioned vanguard on quality control patrol. I also want their scale to range from Very, Very Bad to Truly, Truly Excellent. And I suspect, on some level, that so do you. Because despite your antipathy towards the critic's ardor, you're reading his critique, again, and perusing the message boards to boot.

Oh, and @Bruce, a wiser man than I once told me: Never read your own press. Much more happiness awaits the artist who resists. After all, if we start personally scolding the critics, we *might actually succeed* in silencing them.


Sir Hillary 10:02 AM  

Boy, we sure are a BUCHANAN + L = Pedantic group. :)

A Monday with a rudimentary, unoriginal theme -- what else is new? At least this one ran on the right day and was sprinkled with other "presidentia" (many noted by @TomAz) -- including 8 additional clues with specific Presidents or the word "president".

Surprised at the hubbub over LAYEGGS. We see similar "green paint" almost every day.

AYS and AYES though? Yuck.

The5th Harp 10:08 AM  

Maybe not in Chicago but everywhere else.

wgh 10:13 AM  

Ha

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

For the record, the presidential elections of 1800 and 1900 were not held in a leap year. Neither Year is divisible by 400.

GILL I. 10:39 AM  

@Ross T. Good comment. Actually, most of the comments today are good. Re: The art of being a good critic and/or receiving a pretty awful critique...... I don't like personal insults - even if they be mild. Critique the work all you want but leave out a personal slur - especially if you don't know the person.
In my very poor art student days, I would give away every single drawing I made to family and friends. I never ever thought I was good enough to make any kind of decent living selling my paintings to a strange world lurking out there. Further, my etchings were quite unique and I thought no one - other than my family - would understand them.
One day, at a friends house for a dinner party, a man was staring at Michelle's wall. She had one of my nude etchings on display. This man I had never met said very loudly, "You know, the etching is pretty good, but the person who drew this must be some kind of deranged human being." I had no idea what he meant but it devastated me. Seriously...This perfect stranger was able to deflate my entire soul in 3 seconds. I've since grown cojones and rarely do slights bother me now but jeez Louise, he did a number on me that I never forgot.
All of this is to say.....Don't attack the person. Attack the food, the puzzle, the art but don't poke jabs at the human behind the work.....
@Nancy....I'm still working on the ones you sent me last year.....!!!!! You da Bomb!

BarbieBarbie 10:39 AM  

Usually anagrams of words that are right there in the clues are sort of buried in the clues so that the solve is “figure out which part of this clue is the anagram, then solve it.” Not this time. Luckily I could just go on Monday-pilot, fill in the Downs, ignore the themers, and end up with a medium-easy themeless. Monday’s are meant to be entry puzzles, so I don’t feel too judge-y about the EGGS and OVA.

@Seth, I thought the constructor’s comments including the humorous claim of “VA pup” were the best thing about the puzzle.
I’m not an anagram-lover unless there is something else involved that’s really fun, like @Nancy’s poem here. Great stuff. Did VAPUP inspire this doggerel?

Anonymous 10:43 AM  
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jb129 10:45 AM  

Very easy & over too soon.

Millard Fillmore 10:46 AM  

@Tomaz 12:29 a.m. Just enjoy the day off and don’t worry about the underlying reason. Sheesh.

Carola 10:51 AM  

Perhaps the randomness of Presidents' Day as a holiday was intended to be reflected in the theme, with those random extra letters. I didn't think this was one of Bruce Haight's best efforts. But as a LOVER of every Star Wars FILM, I was cheered by the appearance of HAN SOLO and the reference to Princess Leia's PLEA. I also liked the pair "LA SCALA? DREAM ON!"

Kimberly 10:52 AM  

“It's a parody of a bad idea designed to elicit bafflement and anger...”

Rex, remember when we talked about that hyperbole thing?

Breath in through your nose. Slowly. Count to four. Exhale through your mouth, counting to four. Let your stress out. Breath it away. You’ll be fine.

Roo Monster 10:55 AM  

Hey All !
US of A! US of A! Presidents! AY.

I thought it was a fun puz. President-y, on the appropriate day with appropriate easeness. (That last sentence brought to you by the "Make a Grammarian Weep Foundation.")

I did (NIXON+N) NOT NIX the idea. This puz was a (REAGAN+S) REAL GAS. It was (WASHINGTON+O) A SIGN TO WHO enjoys themed crosswords that apply to the correct day. It lets you take a break from the (CARTER+A) RAT RACE of everyday life.

Hopefully, EVEN ONE of those SORT of got a BANG from you. At least a HALFWAY chuckle. No EVIL EYE towards me, please. Mind you, my ego isn't big enough for me to say ME FIRST, I DIG. So, Happy Presidents HOLIDAY to all my OLDEN friends! NO LIES. :-)

DREAM ON
RooMonster
DarrinV

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:04 AM  

I belong to the school of thought that treats tribute puzzles more leniently, especially if they're Monday puzzles. The bar is way lower than usual. This one cleared it. But, yeah, it was a meh puzzle at best.

I thought the fill was fine in this one. No offensive entries on a Monday is a plus. There was some junk here and there, but not enough to eat at the solving experience.

The theme, well, could use some herbs and spices. I love anagrams, so I find it OK as is, but maybe reverse it? Like "A messed up lifeguard without you? = GARFIELD. "A confused police dog that can't pee?" = COOLIDGE. Now, this wouldn't be Monday material, but I think it would be a good take on anagram puzzles later in the week. Actually, you know what, I'm gonna work on this.

"Lab eggs" crossing LAYEGGS is a faux pax for all we're told. That's bad editing to say the least.

GRADE: C+, 2.8 stars.

Joseph Michael 11:07 AM  

Russian meddling is the only explanation for how this puzzle got elected for publication.

Roo Monster 11:16 AM  

@Me
Oops, the REAGAN one missed! Oh well, I FOLD! :-)

Roo

Robert Mueller 11:22 AM  

@Joseph Michael, LOL

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

We should keep count of how many times Rex says "so called 'best puzzle in the world'" every month. He needs some new material.

Two Ponies 11:30 AM  

I forgot to thank The Bard for giving us our Shakespeare chuckle for the day. You are always a welcome sight.

@ GILL I., The dinner party story is so true. A hundred people can tell you how lovely your dress is but if even one person tells you it makes your butt look big that dress never sees the light of day again.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Blue Stater 11:37 AM  

I'm with OFL (I usually am). The rot continues, even on Monday.

Jeff 11:42 AM  

This year, I treated myself to the non-NYT crossword app and have been digging into the American Values puzzle, Jonesin', and two BEQs a week. I do these in addition to the NYT, and one thing I noticed is that now that I'm doing other puzzles in addition to the Times I don't come to Rex's site as often as I used to. There's just not a point anymore -- hardly a discussion is had and Rex's posts just seem to seethe with vitriol these days.

When I was coming up in puzzleworld Rex was an indispensable resource, teaching me all sorts of trends in crosswording with his daily recaps, but something happened along the way... It seems like I wanted to push myself forward and become a better solver directly in proportion to Rex's desire to be a less thoughtful blogger.

I fear that the only reason Rex does this every day and doesn't report on a more thoughtful daily puzzle is because he'd lose a ton of hits and site-traffic revenue.

Rex: I'm sorry you feel stuck doing something you clearly don't enjoy anymore, but I'm not going to hang out with you while you figure out how to phase this out. Thanks for all the help over the years, but I sincerely feel like its time to put this whole thing to bed.

old timer 11:47 AM  

Yet another reason why early week puzzles should be themeless. I liked the puzzle OK but I am with OFL here: Not good enough.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Almost presidential anagrams! M&A can dig it. Outstandin issues...
U AV PP is obviously Russian texting for U have PP-tape.
"...To sleep, perchance to DREAM ON … AY! there's the 12-D answer!"
@RP: Dogs are the very best. See that there **thingy** at the bottom? U need to go to there, one time. UAVDOGGYZ.
Hope that clears everydayumthing up.

Primo Almost-TRUMP anagram, @Lewis.

Thanx, Mr. Haight. U and M&A are solidly on the same desperate wavelength, I do believe. [Wouldn't it be funny, if he was m&e? @Carl: U did ask him up front, if he luved cinnamon rolls, right? har]

Masked & Anonymo4Us


illustrated dogs:
**gruntz**

Malsdemare 11:49 AM  

The puzzle was okay; the review, at least the part that attacked the constructor, not so much. I do like the suggestion that the added letters should have been POTUS, but like Rex, I didn't need to anagram in order to fill in the answer.

Most puzzles have at least a little fill that is regretable so I'm less upset by stuff like LAYEGGS, AYS, IDIG, etc. I remember when we celebrated both Lincoln and Washington and those holidays were rather fun since they provided a focus. This generic President's Day seems to have no point beyond SALEs. If I were president of the Rotary, Women's League, or some such, I might be tempted to claim the day celebrated #metoo. Sorry, that just slipped out.

You can quit reading now, if you'd like. "Winterdance" is about a man who decides to enter and run the Iditerod sled dog race and it’s a wonderful book. Years ago, a woman who bred show Malamutes was accosted by a man who claimed no way her dogs could do what they were bred to do. Well, Nancy knew better; the reason I knew her was that she and I were part of a group that went mushing every winter in Eagle River WI. So Nancy put together a team of dogs, many of them champions, hired a musher, and charged her with running the Iditerod.

The amazing thing is the dogs ran 500 miles before being pulled. There were several reasons for this but the big one is that the musher couldn't get any sleep. The Iditerod is run at its fastest in 10 days; the mushers have mandatory stops of 4 hours, but that time is used up by mending harnesses, tending dog feet, thawing food, feeding dogs, checking dogs for harness rubs, etc. To make up for the lack of sleep at the rest stops, the mushers sleep bent over the handle bars of the sleds. Well, when Jamie tried that with the team of malamutes, they did what malamutes do: found other stuff to do that didn't include pulling a sled over a trail. Sleep-deprived, the musher pulled out of the race. But Nancy had made her point. Those dogs were fully capable of doing what they were bred to do.

Enjoy the book!

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Totally agree; Rex is being a little b. Also, President’s day was created to celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln.

QuasiMojo 12:00 PM  

Wonderful @Nancy but maybe over my head. I’m stumped! Is the anagram word a synonym for diabolical? Or is that just a hint st how tough it is?

jberg 12:00 PM  

@Nancy, I knew you'd enjoy those anagrams. As for the one you posted here, I've been trying to work it out for a couple of weeks now. I'll keep trying!


LAY EGGS lab eggs is certainly not good, but I thought the answer to "what hens do" is not just green paint. I mean, if you keep hens, that's why you keep them.

I liked the puzzle fine.

The Ridger, FCD 12:02 PM  

No. Century years ending in 00 are not leap years.

Lewis 12:02 PM  

My favorite clues from last week:

1. Game's turning point? (10)
2. Like privates, often (9)
3. Its ribs stick out (8)
4. It's generally up and running within a few hours (4)
5. One who always has time to spend (10)


ROTISSERIE
PIXELATED
CORDUROY
FOAL
SHOPAHOLIC

The Ridger, FCD 12:05 PM  

Oops. Except when divisble by 400. So yes it was.

Canon Chasuble 12:10 PM  

When I saw the anagrammed-themed clues I just ignored them and did the entire puzzle by answering the down clues. And quickly, too. Today's puzzle was plain boring, and I am sorry that Rex had to hold back in his fine critique. And calling out Rex for his profession compared to the constructor's smacks of an elitist view we just do not need in this blog.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

@The Ridger, FCD

See multiple other comments. Some of them are (divisible by 400, like the year 2000.)

You could look it up.

emily 12:13 PM  

Yay! I for once agree! What does Garfield + U have to do w/ lifeguard??

GILL I. 12:13 PM  

@Anony. 11:31...Have you finally got the hint?
Thank you M's.
@Jeff....You're wrong. There are lots of discussions to be had. Most of them very pleasant and fun. Not sure what I'd do without my daily @Rex fix. I think he enjoys this gig quite a bit and he certainly loves to stir the pot. Have you met him? I haven't either but he know how to start a lively discussion.......!

Jeff 12:24 PM  

@Gill I.

Sure, maybe it's me. I'm just tired of his shtick and am finding myself less interested in his pot-stirring. If there was a clue "Vessel for a pet" and the answer was "DOGBOWL", I would roll my eyes and carry on it my puzzle. I don't need to read a whole Rex rant about it... and his pot-stirring is all the same: "DOGBOWL? No! I give my dog water in *a* bowl. What is a DOGBOWL!? I. Call. Foul. We do not need this kind of redundant garbage in self-proclaimed 'the best crossword in the world'... the failing New York Times Crossword is in dire need of a new editor, and it is embarrassing this kind of worthless fill gets through Shortz. Pass."

For me, the least enjoyable thing about a bad NYT puzzle is coming here. (So, I'm phasing it out.)

GILL I. 12:32 PM  

@Jeff. You made me laugh...Don't read him. Some here don't because they don't want to hear exactly what you posted...He can be caustic, for sure.
Don't go away because of him. Stay and have some fun with the adult children!
I'm over the limit...sorry... but @Z does it as well :-)

Stanley Hudson 12:36 PM  

@Jeff 12:42 PM, great parody of Rex's typical blog post.

Personally, I come here much more for the commentariat than Rex's observations. Maybe 90% because of the commenters, 10% because of Rex. I'm certain that he could care less what my motivation is, and that's okay.Let a hundred flowers bloom, water off a duck's back, yadda yadda yadda.

Charles kluepfel 12:36 PM  
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Charles kluepfel 12:38 PM  

A llo easier than many Monday puzzles that Rex thought were easy.

Banana Diaquiri 12:45 PM  

hands up for all those, including humble self naturally, who first read the president clues as joining the guy's *first name* to the letter.

Austenlover 1:10 PM  

Nancy, I loved your anagram poem. Thanks for posting it.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I filled this in as fast as I could write, so close to a sub-six puzzle, therefore easy in my book. I do remember Bruce Haight's state anagram puzzle of last May but didn't while I was solving this so the anagram part went over my head until it was finished. I did get that it was presidentially themed somewhere after GARFIELD (comic strip thoughts came first); probably at FILLMORE because, really, FILLMORE.

I didn't see the OVA clue but I'll give Rex that nit. Otherwise, I think the fill is great, and it is a holiday on the holiday puzzle, so perfect.

Is a HALFWAY EVIL EYE and EVIL wink?

I'm liking @LMS's avatar, the bounding main of LIES. As I read the 30A clue, "Bounding main", I started reflecting on who might have first compared roiling seas to something leaping. Personally, just thinking about big waves makes me motion sick. So I Googled it - most hits gave me the "Sailing, sailing over the bounding main" song, which tells me nothing of the origins of the analogy. A couple hits came up with "bounty main" as an alternative. So is that an internet misinterpretation of "bounding main" or is the "bounding" main the misinterpretation of bounty? So thanks, BH, for a puzzle that gave me something to think about today besides the fact that we won't get mail at work. This is not a tragedy - it's just something I have to keep in mind every time I get the urge to check the mailbox to see if the postman has been by...

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Lay eggs? Okay, "cross the road" wouldn't fit.

mathgent 1:14 PM  

@Lewis (1:02): Thanks for the reminder of the best clues of the week. I'm always glad to have read it.

I'd like to make a comment not about today's puzzle. In case it gets removed, I'll make it in a separate post in a few minutes.

mathgent 1:22 PM  

It seems clear that the Russian government got involved in the election through social media. I wonder why. The NYT has said several times that they want to undermine our democratic institutions. How does smearing one of the candidates do that in any kind of practical way? Or did they feel that a Hillary presidency would be harmful to their national interests? More than her husbands's presidency? I'm baffled.

Joe Bleaux 1:33 PM  

I've SCENE somewhere that constructor Bruce Haight is a surgeon who fixes AYES, even old AYS, turning them into limpid POOLS! As for his puzzles, some VIEW his HOLIDAY creation with an EVIL EYE (a publishing company owned by SHEL Silverstein, FUR what that's worth). But as a rule, I DIG his work.

Z 1:47 PM  

@Gill I - Oh Sure, blame me for your sins. ;)
I must admit that I was hoping you had engaged the strange man in a little good-natured interaction: "What an interesting observation? Why do you think that? or... I happen to know the artist and you're right - totally deranged and known to stalk her critics. or... That's by our hostess' favorite aunt and she is quite fond of all her work." Mrs. Z has taken up pottery and is quite proficient these days. It's funny, though, because she is hyper critical of her own work, especially if the final product doesn't reflect her initial intent. At least one or two pieces have sold that she was ready to trash but that I liked (not knowing how they varied from what she meant). Not only should artists not read their reviews, but they oft aren't the best judges of their own work.

@anon12:12 - I blame in line replies on the smartphone version. That design permits the instant reply, but it also makes it look like later replies are unrelated. I'm ambivalent in general about in line replies, but I wish Blogger used one style for all platforms.

As someone else already mentioned, the official federal holiday is actually Washington's Birthday. I remember growing up that we celebrated both Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday on the actual dates. I don't recall if we actually got the days off from school, though. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the whole "Presidents' Day" thing was debated but never enacted but then later pushed by advertisers. Thank god for capitalism.

Ira Hayes 1:50 PM  

Anonymous 10:43, maybe you should move to Russia if you like authoritarian leaders so much.

Like TomAz I hate Presidents Day and since I'm native American despise Columbus Day even more. And don't get me started on Flag Day and the 4th of July.

Chronic dnfer 1:52 PM  

DNF. Haven’t had one on a Monday in months. Ists gave me slat. Oh well.

Hey Rex? Have you ever considered the possibility that those trolls that appeared last month could be Russian bots trying to sew political discourse among your fan base? Just sayin....

Warren Howie Hughes 2:15 PM  

The wifey Irons, IFOLD!

Linda 2:26 PM  

@Nancy. Thanks for posting your DIABOLICAL anagrammed verse! Great fun solving it. Look forward to the answers tomorrow. Would you be willing to post another here? I'd love to see other samples.

Carola 2:30 PM  

@Teedmn, your questions about "bounding" made me curious, so I went to the OED. I couldn't find a citation for "bounding main," but for "bound," under the definifition "To spring upwards, leap; to advance with leaps or springs: said both of inanimate and animate objects. Also fig." there was this example:
1816 Byron, Childe Harold: Canto III ii. 4 "The waves bound beneath me as a steed/ That knows his rider."
Unfortunately, there's no indication of whether it's a first use.

Larry Gilstrap 2:53 PM  

I second your emotion.

Nancy 3:12 PM  

Just for Linda (2:26) -- two more:

HANK (5 letters)

Never was a king so -----,
Never was a king so courtly.
Then, my liege, he hit the bottle,
Then my liege grew ----- and portly.
Too much ----- (some he'll pour me)
As his words grow crude and cruder.
If I ----- he'll just ignore me --
After all, the guy's a Tudor.

###############

BAD MEAL (5 letters)

The steak was full of -----, it was tough and rather chewy.
The ----- were too acidic, and we hated our Drambuie.
The Captain was an awful ----- who sabotaged our seating.
A diner ought to ----- up and research where he's eating.

andy 3:24 PM  

1. Is it Kosher to have AYE and AYS in the same puzzle? Just asking.

2. Today’s puzzle had AYE for “First half of a Senate vote.” 73-Across
Sunday’s puzzle had YEA for “Senate affirmative.” Can someone explain?

Linda 3:30 PM  

Thank you, Nancy! They'll be a treat for later. Unfortunately, a work deadline is preventing me from turning to them right now.

GILL I. 3:30 PM  

@Z..OK so I'm probably breaking the law.
I was so damn young then. That's when the idiots can get you good. I even remember what he looked like. He had a little mustache and was quite heavy. Had it been today, I would have had field day. I would not, though, mentioning his protruding epigastrium nor his badly trimmed lip rug, No, I'd be a lot more polite. I'd grab his pelotas and give them a good squeeze.....Just keeping up with the times!
Tell your wife she has lots of company. Art, like a crossword puzzles is so subjective. I've only kept two pieces that I created back in the 60's. I hated them then, I love them now!

Larry Gilstrap 3:45 PM  

Wow! "The anagrams have no rationale." I'm not a fan of anagrams, but perhaps that is due to my not having encountered a rational anagram. Feel free to offer an example.

Any time any personification of the SEA crops up, I dive into Moby-Dick. I doubt Melville has it bounding, but he does have it leaping, more than a few times. My favorite example comes from Stubb: "You see, Mr. Starbuck, a wave has such a great long start before it leaps, all round the world it runs, and then comes the spring!" And, of course he digresses into a silly song until the no-nonsense First Mate orders him to be quiet.

I kept a small coop of young hens for years, which was a delight in itself. The added bonus being they LAY EGGS. I'm no constructor, but I'm not certain a cross with OVA is such a horrible thing.

Joe Dipinto 4:38 PM  

@Nancy -- fun stuff! I figured out BAD MEAL instantly; still working on the other two.

This puzzle neither wowed nor offended me. I do think the OVA (with "eggs" in the clue)/LAY EGGS crossing is not kosher. It would have been nice if the added letters signified something, such as each president's first initial, or, as LMS suggested, spelled out POTUS or something else appropriate. But, whatever...I don't really expect much from Monday puzzles. I liked seeing LA SCALA next to Aerosmith hit DREAM ON, with (Petula) CLARK straddling both.

Teedmn 5:59 PM  

Thanks, @Carola and @LarryGilstrap, for your useful input on my bounding main query. We know it goes back at least as far as Byron now. Whether Byron inspired Melville...?

Malsdemare 6:07 PM  

Oh my god, @Nancy, those anagram poems are a massive challenge. They will keep me busy for hours. Can I aslo mention that WAPO's sunday puzzles are da bomb. Try them.

Wise Guy 6:19 PM  

@Larry : According to anagram scrambler the only rational anagram is notarial.

BarbieBarbie 6:31 PM  

@nancy I love your anagram puzzles. Are there more, posted somewhere?
Well OK all, we agree that the sea leaps and bounds, but what I want to know is why it is called a Main?

Larry Gilstrap 6:34 PM  

NOTARIAL + E = RATIONALE. Got it!

BarbieBarbie 6:38 PM  

@mathgent, any time you run a process experiment, you begin with a trial run that should give you the biggest signal the most easily. I think that’s your answer, rather than any particular political outcome/philosophy. Next time will be more sophisticated, more subtle, and probably will involve more than one target. Unless our leadership takes decisive and effective action, that is.

Nancy 7:00 PM  

@Barbie, Barbie; @Linda; @Joe DiPinto -- Thanks to all of you for your kind words. I do have a number of anagrammed poems up online that I've sent to friends, and can forward them to anyone who gets in touch with me. While I don't have my email included on my blog profile, there are friends I've made on the Rexblog who have my contact info. See the 2nd paragraph of my 9:40 post to see who they are -- I've listed only the people who do have their contact info posted. If you subsequently get in touch with me, I will happily send you the poems I already have online.

I have 41 poems in all -- but most of those are only available in hard copy as of now. Getting them all to any of you would require both Xeroxing and snail mail delivery postage -- not terribly expensive, but not completely free either. For anyone who cares enough, it could certainly be arranged. But why not start with what's already online...and free? :)

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

@BarbieBarbie et al. - the Main Sea is the full expression, meaning the open oceans, to contrast with seas that aren't open ocean (sounds, straits, shoreward passages, archipelago waters) - once the ship is out on the sea, out of sight from land, it is on the Main. Compare Main Land for the counterpart expression.

Rob Puentes 7:15 PM  
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Ralph 7:35 PM  

I believe combining the two presidential birthday holidays into a generic pne was related to adding a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.

mathgent 7:47 PM  

@BarbieBarbie (6:38): That makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

Not gonna lie, when I saw the byline, my thought was "Wow, again? Does he have pictures of Will or something?"

As noted, UAVPP isn't the most exciting feature.

I momentarily considered GOP as "Home for Nixon and Reagan," fortunately didn't write it in before confirming otherwise, and um, that's about all I've got. It's not like it was a crime against humanity or anything; there are certainly worse puzzles out there...

Drunken Cracker-barrel philosopher 1:36 AM  

By damn, by Ned, by George, by God, by granny.

Hungry Mother 3:02 AM  

Sitting on the Sapphire Princess off Ko Samui, an island of Thailand. I did the puzzle this morning and enjoyed it.

phibetakitty 4:56 AM  

@nancy
What great poems! I feel like Miss Harriet Smith in Emma. “I never saw any thing so hard, what can it be? ... I cannot guess it in the least!” I shall enjoy trying.
Your poetry is very advanced, way above mere doggerel (not that there’s anything wrong with doggerel, anything with a dog in it can’t be all bad).

kitshef 11:23 PM  

I actually kinda share Rex's thoughts about this one, but my main complaint was the easiness. I don't think I thought for more than two seconds about a single answer. I know it's Monday, but this belonged on some mythical day after Sunday but before Monday.

spacecraft 11:39 AM  

Yep, this was easy as cake. Piece of pie. (See "2010"). Wouldn't you know a FILMLOVER like yours truly would throw you movie quotes. The theme is a letter-add anagram of Chief names; feels like anybody could do that with their EVILEYEs closed. Fill is simple, no snags; I can't understand why it took OFL so (relatively!) long.

But here's the thing: it's CLEAN fill. Okay, BCC is a WOE for me, but that's it. I stand foursquare against OFL's viewpoint, and for today's offering, the AYES have it in my chamber. Not the AYS, most memorable for me--I guess because I had to speak them once--being the one from "A Midsummer Night's Dream:"

AY, do, go on, persever.

That's all I remember of the speech. @Bard? Can you assist?

A theme lagniappe exists in DOD MARLA Maples: you can demonize the Donald's treatment of women all day--as I do--but you sure can't fault his taste. Congrats to Bubba Watson, who shot a lot of these on his way to victory in the match play: birdie.

rondo 11:52 AM  

The AYES have it: AYS, IFOLD, IDIG, ANDSOAMI, EVEILEYE – IMPEI
I knew right off that OFL would dislike this puz and I can understand why. Though maybe I liked the FILLMORE than he did. Write-over on ImOut before IFOLD.

All my granddad ever drove was a MERC. Never a new one, but always in tip-top shape. “Let’s hop in the MERC and go to the drive-in.” I think I’ve owned just about every make of American car there was, but never a MERC. Nor a Lincoln, as long as WEREON Presidents Day.

Seems like we’re talking the OLDEN days, but give MARLA Maples a yeah baby. And the only model I ever hired as a wannabe photographer was named MARLA; probably better looking than MARLA Maples. Lost the photos and negatives in a fire, that an ex-girlfriend started.

I’m willing to cut a little more slack than OFL, but he didn’t ASK MEFIRST.

Burma Shave 11:56 AM  

YET_I DREAMON . . .

IDIG that HALFWAY through the HOLIDAY
MARLA gives me EVENONE EVILEYE,
then a HANDGRIP to ASK, “WE’REON today?”
She wants a SLAM BANG ANDSODOI.

--- WESLEY CLARK CASEY

BS4 12:14 PM  

Interesting in all the anagramming going on that LEAP and PLEA cross and are – anagrams! The title for today is YET I DREAMON and the verse goes as such IDIG that HALFWAY through the HOLIDAY MARLA gives me EVENONE EVILEYE, then a HANDGRIP to ASK, “WE’REON today?” She wants a SLAM BANG ANDSODOI. Author credit to WESLEY CLARK CASEY. By the way, SHEL Silverstein is one of the greats.

leftcoastTAM 2:35 PM  

Presidents' Day, okay, but it was hard toget into the spirit of it this year.

Although the theme is nicely done, didn't really need or use the anagrams to solve, except maybe for ANDSOAMI (which sounds like something Stephen Colbert might say nonsensically). But let's give MADISON, the most distinguished one of the lot, his due.

On the easy side of medium (for a Monday).

JimmyBgood 4:19 PM  

2000 was a leap year, but 1900 was not. Centuries must be evenly divisible by 400 to be leap years. 400 into 2000 is 5.

JimmyBgood 4:32 PM  

Centuries evenly divisible by4p0 are leap years.

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