Kepler's contemporary assistant / FRI 4-20-18 / Topic of mnemonic Eat Apple As Nighttime Snack / Desperately in need of approval in modern slang

Friday, April 20, 2018

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Man, I'm slow when I roll-out-of-bed-solve... (9-something)


THEME: sadly, yes

Theme answers:
  • TWENTY-FIVE / THOUSANDTH (10D: With 26-Down, the place of today's puzzle among all New York Times crosswords)
Word of the Day: HOLT (6D: Otter's den) —
noun
  1. 1
    the den of an animal, especially that of an otter.
  2. 2
    NORTH AMERICANdialect
    a grip or hold. (google)
• • •

ELEPHANT, in room, not forgetting
Firstly, you can shove this self-congratulatory bullshit and start paying constructors somewhere, anywhere near what the puzzles are worth to you, NYT. The peanuts-level pay (fractions of a penny per dollar profit) remains a fantastic embarrassment and ensures that puzzle-making remains largely the purview of a smallish clique of (mostly) white (mostly) guys who would and could do it for nothing. Already well-off white dudes are the Best because they don't harsh your buzz with talk about *money*, ick, how déclassé. And the Powers That Be have always been dismissive and condescending (and largely silent) on this issue. Extremely so. I've got friends who complain all day long (*as they should*) that women and people of color are underrepresented in the world of crossword constructors and editors, but never make a peep about fair pay. About selling your work to a giant corporation, with no hope of residuals, and being paid largely in "hey, look, your name's in the paper!" Why anyone sells to the NYT for less than $750 for a daily is beyond me (it's currently a laughable $300, with a secret $350 level for the oft-published favorites—by comparison, Peter Gordon's *independent* Fireball Crosswords pays $451). I have no problem with the NYT's using the crossword to help fund "real" news? But come on. They could double, triple, quadruple the pay rate and stil just be printing money. TWENTY-FIVE THOUSANDTH crossword? So? What? I mean, this is an institution that took years and years to Put The Constructor's Name On The Puzzle, then even more years to Put The Name Where People Can See It. See, you're supposed to worship the Institution, and the Editor. Constructor shmonstructor. I would love for an honest accounting of just how much money there is, and where the money goes, crosswordwise. Let everyone see. Go ahead. I dare you.


Secondly, and more strongly, you can take DEEP STATE (58A: Entrenched network inside a government), and everything you've done to normalize this racist, conspiracy-theory-driven administration, and shove it very, very far.

Bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I know it's 4/20, but I swear I did not write this high.

P.P.S. Here, please enjoy this puzzle from Brendan Emmett Quigley and 2018 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion Erik Agard?

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

188 comments:

Conrad 6:39 AM  

Did not enjoy Rex's writeup today. Speaking for myself, I want to hear about the puzzle, the solve, the fill ... that sort of thing, not a screed about compensation. I get plenty of that from my coworkers.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

He's baaaack!

Lewis 6:43 AM  

A delicious and demanding celebratory puzzle (and congratulations, NYT!) by one who I consider a master cluer, once again demonstrating his extraordinary skill with devilish/clever clues such as those for ECOMMERCE, TOES, PITA BREAD, and TEES. Did anyone else here want RETRO for RELIT?

The gauntlet of sweet resistance was fair, the grid clean (a given with Joel), a grid with a remarkable nine double EEs. Plus a cross that for me, at least, perfectly expresses something I've probably felt 25,000 times: The cross of IF ONLY and END OF AN ERA.

martyvanb 6:45 AM  

The negativity one is met with here on a near daily basis is simply exhausting. I check in less and less frequently and when I do I usually regret it. Find a new hobby Rex.

Loren Muse Smith 6:47 AM  

Man oh man, that’s a lot of puzzles. Every now and then I panic and think the well of themes will run dry. I don’t know how the heck some constructors come up with so many good themes so often. Blows my mind.

I can’t be the only one scouring the finished grid for some kind of message. No! Say it ain’t the end of your era, Will. I’m sure you stopped reading this blog long ago – I can’t blame you – but some people here certainly do not speak for me when they imply you’re not “doing your job.” The way you take the Monday through Saturdays and ratchet up the clue difficulty with such a deft hand – I notice it every week. And I’ve been on the receiving end of admonitions from you to get rid of some dreck, lose certain ugleous entries.

But I wholeheartedly agree with the outrage concerning how much money the NYT pays its constructors as opposed to how much money the puzzles generate for the paper. And Rex is So Right as regards the undeniable attraction of accepting very little money for the bragging rights of saying you’re a NYT published constructor. I am absolutely guilty as charged. Since most of my submissions are rejected with the “theme just didn’t excite Will” (the written version of absently brushing a piece of lint off your shoulder), it would be easy for me to sign up for some kind of constructor strike. And my withdrawal wouldn’t bother anyone, wouldn’t even be noticed. What happens, though, if all the Big Dog constructors come on board? If suddenly all viable, cool submissions stop landing on Will’s desk, if now his team has a bunch of sub-par stuff to consider for publication… what then? Will the NYT suits sit up and realize the paper’s position as supreme puzzle of the universe is threatened and so, then, its cash cow? I dunno.

Anyhoo, who knew an otter lived in a HOLT? What. Next door to the eel’s cozy little jolt? I’ve just investigated, and there aren’t any other useful-to-startle-people names for animal homes besides a squirrel’s drey. I’ve got that gem ready next time I talk to students about squirrel hunting. It’s my plan to make a dreyborhood comment and see if anyone is impressed. They’re a tough audience, I tell ya.

So that reminded me of the ridiculous names we have for animal groups and thought of a funny meme I saw on Facebook with two ravens standing on the ground. It said, “Attempted murder.”

@Lewis is right - the cluing for this puzzle is terrific. I totally fell for the geography misdirection on PITA BREAD and the bottom line misdirection on E COMMERCE. A great clue like “net sales” is some darn good lipstick.

Joel – I have an alternative clue for DEE – ready? . . . . . “Fifth of vodka?” Take it. Use it. If I see it in a published puzzle, I’ll know it’ll be Ours. Mwah.

TGIF – that’s a mnemonic for Toad, Gecko, Iguana, Frog: the only four reptiles who live in what we in the business call overices.

Theodore Stamos 6:51 AM  

Yes, of course, the crossword puzzle pay system is all about race, Rex. I'm sure will shortz sits in a room thinking of new ways to perpetuate the grand conspiracy against women and minoroties in the lofty world of crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Strzok, Page, McCabe, Comey, Lynch, Brennan . . .

Deep State is a conspiracy.

RJ 6:52 AM  

A real struggle for me because I do this thing (a lot) where I think I've got a long answer and even when I know it doesn't make any sense I still fill it in because "Hey, it might be a trick answer!". I'm too embarrassed to write what I filled in for TWENTYFIVE today. It screws up the rest of the fill and I end up taking 26:41 like today to finish.

New words for me today

HOLT
EAZYE
DAW is another term for jackdaw - really friendly crows. My husband and son have encountered them while hiking the Presidentials in NH. They will take peanuts and other treats out of your hand.

Even though I routinely BEEP my car to see if I've locked it I hated this cluing. It makes me feel old. Kind of like tripping over the dog who is always laying right behind me.

Re Rex on NYT poor payment of xword constructors - I am one of the many who has a subscription just to be able to do the xwords. I bet there are a ton of us.


Dave 7:12 AM  

Hey Rex, feeling a little better after that rant? Personally, I agree with everything you said. I do wonder, though, would even doubling the going rate (so, to $600), really change the landscape of people who submit entries? I've never heard of anyone who relies on constructing as a main source of income, as opposed to just really being into his or her hobby. And I really don't see how raising the pay for accepted entries is going to change the racial or gender dynamics of the current pool of regular constructors used by the NYT.

There's a reason inner-city kids don't play polo, lacrosse, or form crew teams; there's probably an analogy in there somewhere to crossword constructors.

Re clues/answers that bring up the current administration, you can't really have it both ways: you regularly admonish NYT puzzles for using terribly outdated words, and applaud when they use hyper-current stuff that passes your smell test. Like it or not, there is a TON of current material coming out of this administration, and the NYT shouldn't be forced to pretend it doesn't exist.

That being said, we all have our limits. For me, the day KELLYANNE becomes an answer, I'll probably take an extended break from the NYT Puzzle :)




BarbieBarbie 7:12 AM  

How is it that we know how much the puzzle generates in revenue? Is there some kind of market study that estimates number of subscribers who would drop a no-puzzle paper, and how many advertisers would leave with them? Yes, there is, because that information would be a part of ad pricing strategy. But it would also be confidential. Was this rant based on actual information? I doubt it. Second-tier college English professors. YEESH. Which reminds me, Rex: when you publish your research, what do you get paid by the academic journal? Oh- you say, nothing? But you get to put your name on the article? And in the old days there were even page charges you had to fork over? Yet it generates revenue for the publishing organization? Huh. Interesting. Implies that you’re either ok with that unfair system, or can see that there’s potential to monetize getting your name in print.

Nine minutes at morning-coffee-time, though, that’s pretty impressive.

Stanley Hudson 7:13 AM  

Jesus . . .

kitshef 7:17 AM  

To paraphrase the Simpsons; while yesterday’s workout made me feel dumb as a chimp, today’s woefully easy puzzle made me feel smart as a monkey.

kAnYE sure shares a lot of letters with EAZYE. And APOLO OHNO is hard to spell. I think those were my only holdups of any severity.

Tycho BRAHE had a prosthetic nose made of brass, having lost his original nose in a duel.

Roberto Escobar 7:18 AM  

Rex, think you have it backwards. If crossword constructors would submit their work to the NYT for free, why should the Times pay them anything at all? No one is compelled to construct crosswords. If you don’t like the pay, don’t do it or send it somewhere else. Apparently the NYT has no trouble getting puzzle constructors to submit their work, so I would suggest the pricing is about right. The NYT is nieither a charity, nor a governmental agency(like the state university for which you work), where compensation igenerally is set by a political process, not by the market. The NYT has every right in the world to acquire puzzles in as economically efficient way as possible.

I probably dislike the current administration almost as much as you, and the concept of the ‘deep state’ is cant. However, I dislike even more those those self-appointed censors who would regulate the language of others. I don’t need Rex Parker to politicallly sanitize either my news or my crossword puzzle

Other than that, how did you like the puzzle?

FLAC 7:23 AM  

YEESH. IF ONLY Rex weren’t so THIRSTY, he might have deSCRIED how KAREEM-y this puzzle is. Oh well. WINSOME, lose some.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

@LMS - I don't want to commit an unkindness, but surely they must have been crows, not ravens?

Thomaso808 7:30 AM  

“The Otter’s Holt” is a great traditional Irish reel, Google it and you will find a lot of YouTube versions, mostly bad, haha. There’s so many Irish / Scottish / Bluegrass tunes they have to come up with thousands of wacky names, and even then they can’t keep them straight.

@LMS fifth of vodka = DEE? OK, I give up, seems to me that it should be AAY. When I see it in a puzzle I will surely know it’s yours and Joel’s.

I agree with Rex and I appreciate that he took this milestone to make a statement about constructor pay. It’s not a race / gender thing. The product is worth more than is being paid, and the NYT needs to stay ahead of the market if they don’t want to lose out. Especially REBUS THURSDAY, Will!

Joel, very smooth puzzle for the 25,000. You nailed it, young man!

eric 7:32 AM  

Rex is right about the pay and the politics. Otherwise, the puzzle was fine.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

Noting the anniversary doesn’t strike me as self-congratulatory. OFL's theorizing OTOH....

Surprised and happy to have bettered my average considering how tough the RELIT/ROLE cross was for me. Stuck for a while on ROom for “capacity.” YEmSH!

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Rex Parker knows so much that isn't so.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Why Rex puts all the time and effort into his blog that he does is beyond me. Does its prominence discourage similar blogging by the less white, less male?

David 7:46 AM  

The puzzle has a whopper that nobody has noticed. Kepler was Tycho Brahe's assistant, not vice versa. In the history of astronomy, that's a big thing to get wrong.

Ken R 7:46 AM  

Welcome back to the liberal whining pseudo-academic Rex !! I have to agree with Roberto over pricing of puzzles. UNIONIZE Rex !!! Have all of the constructors go on strike and see if that ups the ante from the NYT (I doubt it would ever happen as the NYT would just republish old puzzles, likely of better quality).It's your blog so you are certainly well within your rights to state your left wing political views. However, many of your readers don't share your political bent and I think it would be wise to just keep them out of the puzzle world. That said, I thought today's puzzle was quite enjoyable for a Friday. Please keep it apolitical Rex. The smell of the blog would be far sweeter.

Ricky 7:50 AM  

Brahe (Tycho) *wasn't* Kepler's assistant. He was Kepler's employer. Kepler was Brahe's assistant.

Glimmerglass 7:50 AM  

YEESH, Rex. We already know what you think of the NYT and its puzzle editor. 25000 is just an interesting fact, not “self-congratulatory.” That’s in your head. So what did you think of the puzzle itself?

Kodak Jenkins 7:51 AM  

I liked the puzzle but got really tripped up on PITA BREAD and OVER ICE (usually ON ICE!) as well as the entire STRINGER corner.

I don't see what the fuss is about with regard to paying constructors, though admittedly I'm not very informed. It's an open market, is it not? Does the NYT have a monopoly I'm not aware of? Are they the last newspaper printing a crossword? It seems like the laws of supply and demand are very much in effect. If you tell me all the constructors have been gathered up into a sweatshop where they're forced to make grids for $3 an hour then by all means be outraged. I envision them sitting around the house in their pajamas with a tall mug of hot tea.

How long does it take to construct a puzzle? If it's one day, or 8 hours, the $300 rate means $37.50 per hour. That's not gonna buy much Gucci but it's not bad for a job you can do in your spare time from your home without any formal education or training.

If you want to complain about the "mark-up" from the NYT then by all means do so. But again- it's a free market and all disgruntled constructors can submit their puzzles wherever they see fit.

My biggest complaint with the NYT is 1) their obvious liberal bias (though I'm fairly liberal) and 2) the web version of the newspaper doesn't include the crossword! You have to subscribe separately?!?





Deep Throat 7:54 AM  

I suspect WS continually works the NYT money men over constructor payments. He can certainly say, “I no longer get submissions from ___ or ___ or ___.” That may not carry much weight with folks who measure the bottom line rather than fill in the squares.

($300 x 6 days) + $1,000 for Sunday = $2,800 per week x 52 weeks == $145,600 in constructor pay. A 2014 Buzzfeed article estimated direct subscriber revenue at $8 million, not counting those who subscribe to the print edition largely for the puzzle (@RJ) or syndication revenues. Forget residuals from books - those all go to WS directly. $8 million minus costs of - let’s guess - $500,000 for editorial and publishing costs plus the constructor payments is a lot of money but a tiny fraction of the Times’s income.

Does adding another $150,000 to the cost to double constructor payments bring in 40,000 new subscriptions to pay the extra cost? That doesn’t seem like a slam-dunk yes. The number of people who care passionately about the puzzle quality can’t be that large. For heaven’s sake, Timothy Parker is still grinding them out day after day for an audience larger than the NYT.

A constructor strike wouldn’t work. WS might be reduced to publishing my puzzles even though they didn’t interest him or aren’t quite sparkly enough, but the bottom line would feel the effect only slowly if at all. But if five percent of direct puzzle subscribers cancelled or failed to renew and said why, that would make a difference. “Follow the money.”

Birchbark 8:02 AM  

Three trumpeter swans just flew low over the meadow. It is a sunny morning, and the snow is melting.

THE the --> THE WHO. REtro --> RELIT. The CONTINENTS mnemonic seems too hard to remember. I just mentally turn the globe and stop when I get to seven.

@kitshef (7:17), great BRAHE brass-nose factoid. I will find a way to work it into conversation.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Yeesh, what a tortured soul.

jackj 8:08 AM  

No need to wonder about the "Otter's den" when Boston Red Sox All Star utility man Brock HOLT, (who has played every position but pitcher and catcher for the BoSox), is available to fill the grid.

r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

Great clue: 46D. {Diagram of possibilities} VENN-->TREE.

My solution is here

Hungry Mother 8:14 AM  

I stared at that last SW block almost forever before plopping in the Y as a super-wag. Anyhoo, got ‘er done.

Kris in ABCA 8:24 AM  

What? I’ve been storing my wine glasses wrong all this time?

Stuart Showalter 8:25 AM  

Apparently OFL doesn’t recall the expression “what the market will bear.” If NYT can get enough submissions for $300, why would they pay more? Today’s newspapers are hurting enough financially without unnecessarily adding red ink to their P&L statements.

In other words: GET OVER YOURSELF, Rex! You’re a tiresome boor.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

CARET is wrong!!!! "To the power of" symbol is an "exponent" or perhaps a "superscript". A CARET indicates an insertion in text.

14D: "off of" is not living language. It's merely ignorant and grammatically meaningless. Either "from them" or in this case (better) simply "off them".

JimmyQ 8:44 AM  

Why? Since when is it not relevant to talk about CW compensation, you elitist POS! Go back to Trump’s Russia if you can’t stand some righteous and needed commentary, you right-wing elitist entitled f**k!

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

To be fair, I learned the word, “scry.”

James 8:46 AM  

Who cares who constructs the puzzles? Who cares if there isn't any current slang or 2010's hot media favorites in the puzzle? I thought this was a great puzzle and I'm not here crying to myself because there was some sort of a theme on a Friday.

Hartley70 8:50 AM  

This was a nice blend of easy and obscure, and it played rough with me for awhile.

I had DECKCHAIR immediately but I couldn't make it work until I reentered it as my last entry. HOLT and DAW were hangups and I had no idea what the mnemonic represented. Who needs one of those for the continents? They're certainly not hard to remember unless your FIVE, and then the little phrase would make even less sense because no kid (or adult) wants an apple before they go nighty night.

I had never heard of SCRY or, of course, the Laker 33. I went with Jordan and wasted time trying not to enter KIWIS, because I wanted J to work. It was just sheer stubbornness. I'm not proud of it.

I found this a pleasant Friday, Joel, but I suspect I'll remember BRAHE's brass nose longer than the puzzle.

Barry Frain 8:51 AM  

LOL@Stanley Hudson! Spit my covfefe!
“Jesus” indeed, for that Rex Parker tirade.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Missy 8:53 AM  

Find a new blog Marty!

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

2^2 is a way to write two squared using a standard keyboard.

Max Kahn 8:57 AM  

40A is a major howler. When “s.v.” Is used in a reference work, it means sub verba. SOTTO VOCE means spoken softly. And sorry, @Anonymous, CARETs are the routine way of denoting exponents in computerese.

Mr. Benson 8:59 AM  

Well, I agree on DEEP STATE, anyway. Not a thing. Otherwise it was an okay puzzle.

Brian 9:02 AM  

25000th does not constitute a theme. It is a commemorative. And a length 20 answer split.

Azzurro 9:04 AM  

@Anon CARET has been used in lieu of a superscript for years on computers, going back to old machines that had no formatting option to show superscript text. That one threw me for a minute, but I think it’s fair.

Matthew G. 9:05 AM  

As a graduate of Deep State University, I agree with Rex today.

Brian 9:15 AM  

Caret is used in computer applications, for example Excel. =3^3. Is 9

Cato Rosenbaum 9:17 AM  

Martyvanb, if the negativity is too much, find a new blog then? This isn’t the only NYT crossword review rodeo out there.

Brian 9:17 AM  

Um 27

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

@Max - why you no Google? Sub voce seems legitimate.

Lobster11 9:18 AM  

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Cato Rosenbaum 9:21 AM  

If you don’t like the politics, find a different place?

Cato Rosenbaum 9:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
QuasiMojo 9:24 AM  

I threw in CAN OPENER since @Nancy et al were just discussing one that I think was upside down or at least I was looking at its image upside down. I was hoping Rex would post a video of Diana Ross (Miss Ross, to you) singing "Upside Down You Turn Me." But he was off on another of his rants about pay. Listen, I would pay the NYT $300 to accept one of my puzzles. lol. But seriously, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to do a crossword puzzle. I was shocked by how many drafts I had to do of them to make them cogent, clever and fair. So the money due the constructors is of great importance. Keep at it, Rex!

Which reminds me, @Loren had me rolling on the floor with her comment today -- "the 'theme just didn’t excite Will' (the written version of absently brushing a piece of lint off your shoulder.)"

As for the puzzle, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a handsome grid. I'm not sure you can call it a theme but the fill was clever and just challenging enough that I struggled from time to time. I did manage to finish without resorting to Google which is always a good feeling.

We had SCRY not too long ago. It always amazes me how the stuff we learn in doing these exercises actually bears fruit, at least so far as crosswords are concerned. I doubt I'll be using the word "scry" in my own conversation anytime soon.

I wanted ANI for DAW and MOVIE THEATER CHAIR for "cruise seat." Ha ha. But knowing APOLO OHNO, even with the weird spelling of the other Sun God's name, fixed all of that fairly quickly.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

I agree wholeheartedly.

Nancy 9:26 AM  

I had three possible places where I closed my eyes, gritted my COGS, and wrote in a letter or two, while praying I wouldn't have a DNF. I guessed right and avoided them all. They were:

*The P and second O of APOLOOHNE, crossing E?I and H?LT. (What is EPIgenetic????)

*The Y of EAZYE (who he?) crossing LT?R. Took me a while to figure out LTYR stood for Light Year.

*The Y of SCRY (never heard the word) crossing ?EESH. @Loren always says shEESH, so I was befuddled.

I was less than enchanted with any of these crossings. But other than that, a truly masterful puzzle by a constructor who's really, really good at this. Just look at how he tries to bait us into writing ROom instead of ROLE at 47D. (Which I did, initially.) Look at the sensational cluing for WINE GLASS (17A); RELIT (55A); HOT TUB (37A); E COMMERCE (56A); and IN SHORT (8D), which was my fave. Because whenever people say IN SHORT, it's always after they've gone on and on for Very Long. Myself included, of course. Anyway, a very worthy TWENTY-FIVE THOUSANDTH NYT puzzle. I loved it.

Z 9:32 AM  

25,000 seems like a good time to pat oneself on the back.

“I don’t see how this is about race” (or gender) is so much better than “it is not about race.” I wish everyone white and especially male would try it some time.

I don’t often support accusations of “wrong” in these comments. Today would be an exception. Often times a “wrong” claim is due to a misreading of the clue, the clue requires a different emphasis or meaning of a word in the clue. I don’t see any way to rethink the BRAHE clue into correctness.

Late yesterday replies:
@mohair sam - People can be witty, intelligent, personable face to face, and still dumber than a Jim Carrey movie when it comes to their blind spots. Scalia will be remembered in the same breath as Roger Taney, and for very similar reasons.

@anon - citations are for you, not for me. Sometimes I look something up because I don’t know. Or because someone here states something firmly and I think they might be wrong. Or because I’m going to state something firmly and wish to show that it isn’t just some tin-hatted nonsense I invented out of thin air. Feel free to ignore anything I write. I won’t mind or care.

Wm. C. 9:34 AM  


Like several others above, I thought that Rexie's rant was over-the-top inappropriate. As a liberal second-tier University employee he clearly doesn't understand the term "free market." YEESH!

Harryp 9:34 AM  

I made a bunch of good guesses, 45D SCRY 6D HOLT 40A SUBVOCE, and brought this in under my average Friday time. Clever clue for 56A ECOMMERCE. 26A THIRSTY would not have occurred to me as "need of approval", but the crosses confirmed it. All said, this was a fine twenty five thousandth effort by Joel Fagliano.

Two Ponies 9:37 AM  

I loved it. Great cleverness all around. Wonderful comments.
New facts to be learned both in the puzzle and here on the blog (thanks @ kitshef for the brass nose).
How many times have we seen "this end up" on a box yet it was surprisingly slow to come to mind.
Speaking of mnemonics, I need one to spell caret.
Speaking of mind, Rex has lost his apparently.

My morning is very much like @ Birchbark's today so dog and I will head for the door to enjoy it.

Alex Wright 9:39 AM  

Have none of you people crying about how "DEEP STATE isn't a real thing" heard of Turkey?

The clue didn't say "Entrenched network inside the US government." Come on! Stop being so provincial and narrow-minded!

Bob Mills 9:40 AM  

The SE corner was brutal. SCRY? YEESH? STRINGER? Also, a lot of vague clues in this one, especially NOT NEAT for OVERICE, which I got from the crosses (a straight-up cocktail is "neat," so with ice it isn't neat?). Not a fun puzzle at all.

Question for Rex...If $300. is too little to pay a constructor, why are you working for nothing?

Areawoman 9:42 AM  

Thank you Roberto Escobar for your well expressed and thoughtful rebuttal to the blog. Especially "However, I dislike even more those those self-appointed censors who would regulate the language of others." This is the scary thing the current administration has been trying to do (CDC regulations) and we should not fall into the same trap. Not using certain words or ideas does not mean that they don't exist. Cluing "John" as President Trump's middle name is a fact and not a political statement. We can't stick out heads in the sand and pretend the things we don't like don't exist. That's how the current administration was elected. If you want to use your blog to vent your political views that is fine and readers can choose not to read. But don't continue to imply that other people are racist, misogynist or fascist based on what words are included in the crossword. The indie crosswords tend to be clued very political to the point of being malicious but I guess that's okay because they align with Rex's views. I really don't feel the NYT has biased cluing but they do clue current topics which they should. If you want to control what is put in a crossword, take an editorial job.

MickMcMick 9:43 AM  

Using yeesh in scrabble would bring a challenge, capacity is room, made SW only hard part. Must politics also permeate the crossword? It’s already destroyed Facebook

Jamie Weiss 9:44 AM  

This is why I read your blog. The Voice of the Underrepresented! Thank you for the comment on the Deep State; when I saw the clue, I could hardly wait to read your write-up. I think you were rather calm knowing full well that you were throwing out troll bait.

Nancy 9:48 AM  

There were three places where I gritted my COGS, took a deep breath, and prayed I wouldn't have a DNF:

*The P and second O of APOLOOHNE (crossing E?I and H?LT). What on earth is EPIgenetic?

*The Y of EAZY E (crossing LT?R). Took me a while to figure out LTYR is Light Year.

*The Y of SCRY, a word I've never heard of, crossing ?EESH. @Loren says shEESH, so I was confused.

Not in love with any of these crossings. But other than that -- a masterpiece. Such terrific clues for WINE GLASS; PITA BREAD; E COMMERCE; RELIT (Yes, Lewis, I wanted RETRO too); CAST; ROLE (47D), which succeeded in tricking me into writing in ROom. But my fave was IN SHORT (8D). Speakers always say IN SHORT after they've first gone on and on for IN LONG. Myself included, of course. A wonderful puzzle and a highly worthy TWENTY-FIVE THOUSANDTH.

MickMcMick 9:50 AM  

SW was a killer. I was sure capacity was room. Scry?!? A new one on me. Must politics also infect the crossword? Isn’t it enough that’s it’s ruined just about everything else? From the Oscars to Facebook it has polarized just about everything

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Honest questions:
Does anyone care what the Times pays its constructors?
Does anyone care who constructs the puzzle?

Until I started reading this blog I never even looked at the constructor. I do now, but only to guess if Rex will rant or rave ( which seems to correlate suspiciously strongly with OFL's friendships)


Hats off to Mr Fagliano for a really nice puzzle. And congrats to the Times too. 25K is an achievement, and it's sure given me a lot of pleasure over the years.

Jamie C 9:54 AM  

How ironic that Rex does more to financially support this crossword than almost anyone on the planet who isn't involved in its creation.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Wm. C.

Binghampton second tier? No way. No how. more like third. on its best day.

Tim Aurthur 9:57 AM  

Rex already has another hobby: Pop Sensation. It can be hysterically funny.

Cato Rosenbaum 10:03 AM  

It is a fact that JOHN is Flump’s middle name. It’s a political act to choose to use that fact in your crossword. It’s why journalism can never be “objective”. Picking and choosing what to use and to say is as political an act as protesting.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Amen sister.

Wm. C. 10:07 AM  


@Bob Mills --

Rex doesn't work for nothing. See the PayPal button to the right of the puzzle solution. To be fair, I think Rex should disclose his annual earnings at the end of each year. I suspect he makes a pretty good hourly rate for the time he spends on the page.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Thank you, Rex. Those who insist the pay and representation issue has nothing to do with the greater issue of race and gender need to have the scales ripped off their eyes. I’m still waiting for the immersive video game that will educate all you dinosaurs, because it seems you don’t have the capacity to understand reality on your own until you’re virtually forced to see it with your own eyes.

Suzie Q 10:10 AM  

I was so relieved that the grid was not at all compromised to include Twentyfive Thousandth. That's amazing in itself but the whole thing was such fun while still having some meat on it's bones.
His'n'Hers was funny.
Bravo Joel!
As for Rex, sigh, it much be so tiring to spend every moment of every day searching for demons and making them up if you can't find any.
Life's too short and all that.

machinist 10:10 AM  

I’m in awe of the best constructors but they do seem to be a limited pool. Apropos of 25,000, do you all know that you get access to all puzzles from 1993 forward with the reasonably priced annual online puzzle subscription?

howard a. brenner 10:16 AM  

Does name calling make you feel good? Regardless of your politics it’s sad.

Nancy 10:16 AM  

Sorry, everyone, for my 9:26/9:48 virtual duplications. My first post disappeared into the ether just long enough for me to note that it wasn't there where it should have been, so I gritted my COGS again and reproduced it as accurately as I could remember it. Then, after I'd made what turned out to be a completely unnecessary second effort, there it was on the blog in its rightful place after all. A big bore for y'all, I know, but trust me -- an even BIGGER bore for me. Sigh. FWIW, the process of typing has always been a chore for me.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Agreed - "self-congratulatory bullshit" is Rex's reason for being. "a smallish clique of (mostly) white (mostly) guys" is his kingdom. Since he complains about nearly everything his outrage has become normalized resulting in zero impact. King of his culture of complaint, jacked up on his own ego, "leader" of a predominantly white, often angry constituency: Rex is in fact quite similar to T-Rump!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

He does tricks but he’s a hater.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

The pay is exactly what it should be, since this is a free market. Marxists don’t like that, of course. And Rex’s politics is deeply racist. I woke up white this morning, not hating anybody, and theb Rex iis dissing me for my skin color. No wonder Trump wone, with deep state lackeys like this

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

And doesn’t know so much that is

TubaDon 10:30 AM  

This puzzle was jinxed. Paper delivery was late, Rex got out of bed on the wrong side, and I foolishly plunked down ERTES for 4D which clogged up the NW for many minutes. On top of that there was a clue error of astronomical proportions: Kepler was Tycho Brahe's assistant, not vice versa, but he did carry on his work and became equally famous.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

This is @Rex's forum and he can say pretty much what he wants. If you don't like the food being served, don't come back. There are many, many times that I agree with @Rex (today) and there are just as many that I don't (constant use of whites as always being racist) ... @Rex has taught me how to really look at a puzzle and see all the pluses; the difficulty in getting the clues to shine; fitting answers in certain grids and especially how to really appreciate good construction. Politics aside, I feel much the wiser having read him for over 8 years.
The pay deal does invite discussion. I, personally, would be dancing on tables all day long if I ever had anything published in the NYT. Just to be able to gloat would be worth the paltry $300. On the other hand, I would be crushed if half of my clues were changed and half my answers re-fitted to suit Will's whim. Sometime - other than basking in the glory - I wonder why good constructors continue to submit to the NYT. My two unworthy cents.
OK...so this puzzle. I usually enjoy Joel F but I'm rarely on his wavelength. He always included words that I will never ever use in a conversation or in writing. I promise I will never utter HOLT EAZYE LTYR SUBVOCE SCRY nor OLLIES. I'll also throw in ECOMMERCE even though I liked the clue. I will also never say THIRSTY to someone in desperate need of approval - more like "get a life" and I won't steal @Loren's YEESH.

Mohair Sam 10:38 AM  

25,000, WOW! Congrats NYT and thanks. Terrific puzzle to commemorate the occasion too. And no Star Wars clues! Thanks Joel and Will.

I find Rex's assertion that Will Shortz is racist and sexist offensive, particularly nasty, and uncalled for. Such accusations diminish Rex in my mind.

On constructor's fees - When the Times sees an economic impact for paying what Rex considers too little for crossword construction they will probably pay more - until then save your breath.

@Rex - There is no normalizing of Trump possible by the Times. He is the President of the United States. Consider this - many people hated Bill Clinton (the man who caused the left to put on hold the equivalent of the #metoo movement for twenty-five years) yet the Times ran a Sunday puzzle dedicated to the man (fun puzz, btw). Besides, the DEEP STATE answer and clue was kind of fun - whether or not it's a conspiracy theory.

pmdm 10:39 AM  

For the record, I enjoyed today's puzzle. Joel said elsewhere that he tried to avoid proper nouns. I applaud him for that, even though he wasn't totally successful. But today's rant seems to be more of today's topic than the puzzle itself.

In the recent past, the Times has eliminated many features I read the paper for.

No more chess column.

No more regional restaurant reviews.

No more regional section,for that matter, with regional Arts coverage.

No more Haggler.

Greatly reduced Arts coverage. Reviews of Classical Music concerts are minimal.

Stories about local sports teams' games often not by a Times reporter but by an AP release.

And I can continue. The point is this: paper publications are fighting for their life. To those who complain, I would say that you really need to look at the total picture, which it seems you really don't.

There is one thing I would agree with. The Times just salary people like Shortz and Barry. Given that all the money cost for the Times to publish its puzzles doesn't pay for the crossword alone, it would probably be fairly difficult to do a cost breakdown on the real profit derived from the crossword. (While I subscribe, it's mainly for the news content. How would you factor in what I pay?) But I would really like to know the total cost to the Times for its puzzle publications. But I doubt that will ever happen, because too many people might assume all the costs and profits are related to the crossword puzzle alone, which is not the case at all.

Carola 10:40 AM  

Disgruntlement alert. I didn't like the braggy theme and thought the puzzle was too easy. I'll give you PITA BREAD, but otherwise, to quote a recent grid, pfft.

Whatsername 10:43 AM  

I thought Rex’s writeup today was a hoot. In fact I think that constructor ______ (shmonstructor) would make a great puzzle clue. I got deep state right away because headlines recently, but as soon as I saw it I knew somebody was going to go off on it. Personally I have no problem with it being in the puzzle. To me, it equates to THIRSTY, just a modern day term that has evolved over time. However I’d like this page to be apolitical. I do puzzles to escape from the “real“ world and some days, coming here and reading someone’s bipartisan rant kind of leaves a bad taste. I unfollow Facebook friends who insist on posting their political opinions, kind of the same thing. There’s a time and a place.

I had a tough go today, and if I was assigning a difficulty rating it would be “slog.“ Certainly not going to debate what might’ve been paid or not paid to the constructor because that’s way above my pay grade. However I will say that what I pay for the privilege of doing the NYT puzzles seems reasonable and worth it. My only quibbles today were INSHORT which I’ve never heard anyone say ever, and ROSINS. I can’t imagine there’s ever been a baseball player who walked up to the plate and said “hang on a sec, let me apply some rosins to the bat.” Oh well. TGIF.


Pat 10:52 AM  

I would like to do more crossword puzzles by women and colored people.

John Child 10:53 AM  

@anon 12:29
And this is the best of all possible worlds?

QuasiMojo 11:06 AM  

@Nancy, no problem about the duplication. At least it was about the puzzle. FWIW, I always copy my comment before I post it since there have been numerous times it failed to show up. That way you don’t have to retype it from memory. Sometimes I forget to and those are always the days my post disappears!

Trombone Tom 11:09 AM  

I thought there was some clever cluing and interesting answers in this Joel Fagliano puzzle. YEESH, how can you knock APOLO OHNO, EAZYE, HOLT, and SCRY.

I have to admit to not being familiar with SUB VOCE, but it was gettable. The Kepler's clue seemed off to me, too.

All-in-all this was enjoyable, but on the easy side for Friday.

Mo Pariser 11:11 AM  

YEESH is something you say while rolling your eyes momentarily before continuing about your business.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" Is something you say as you scramble to fix an immediate situation.

"Did you read Trump's latest tweet? It's another doozy."
"Yeesh. Don't tell me."

"Is that your 4 year old daughter in the frozen foods aisle going to town on the tub of Mocha Chunk?
"Oh for heaven's sake! Amanda! Where is your brother??

"It's gonna snow again tomorrow and it's already Mid-April!"
"Yeesh. Wake me up when it's summer."

"Don't get angry, but I may or may not have accidentally left the gas running on the stovetop all night and it definitely smells funky in here."
"Oh for heaven's sake! Get the kids! Call the fire department now!"


Loved Mideast Pocket. Loved Net Sales. Loved Inglorious Basterds- the movie, not the clue. Had OpS for the longest time. Loved all the easy EEs.

Speaking of... While I agree with Rex politically I hope it doesn't go over his head that- on the very day he rants about racial exclusion- his readers are stumbling to come up with EazyE- a man who stood for bringing the end to racial violence and police discrimination.
@kitshef (7:17) Kanye? Different ERA. Ask Kanye who his influences were. Please take some time today to listen to N.W.A. and/or watch Straight Outa Compton.


I agree with @Dave (7:12). Don't know how constructor payments correlate to constructor diversity... But DEEPSTATE does irk me. It's one thing to be cognizant of our current administration, and it's another thing to abet in peddling conspiracies.


PS. Also watch the movie 13th.

PSS. "Conspiracy peddling" may have been an overreaction. EYELET my frustration get the best of me. But DONaTe blame me- Rex set the tone today.

Mo Pariser 11:14 AM  

I'll keep this in mind while working through tomorrow's Ankara Times crossword. It's narrow-mindedness vs naivety.

Fashionista 11:14 AM  

Me for one. Although I do peruse the rest of the paper. I like solving on paper and I don’t have a reliable printer.

gruffed 11:16 AM  

You would think that after 24,999 puzzles, we wouldn't have to dredge up such arcane words as scry. Yeesh! Regarding Rex's rant about cruciverbalist compensation at NYT, I would propose that he allocate a portion of the monetary contributions he receives in support of his blog to award cash prizes to the constructors of the top ten puzzles each year, perhaps by category (hardest, cleverest, cleanest, etc.) After all, without the NYT puzzle, Rex wouldn't have his blog at all. Perhaps such added incentive might raise the overall caliber of the NYT puzzles.

Future Dead White Male 11:20 AM  

It’s gauche to talk about money.

Anoa Bob 11:22 AM  

I remember reading in grad school about BRAHE's brass nose. I was amazed that he did all his astronomy by the unaided eye alone. BRAHE never used a telescope. He died (1601) before it was invented (1608-09).

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Good point.

Fashionista 11:32 AM  

Not a problem and something you don’t really have to apologize for.

old timer 11:47 AM  

DEEPSTATE is simply a reality. And inevitable where the permanent employees tend to outlast the temporary heads of government departments. Go watch the episodes of the original British "Yes, Minister" and you will understand. Watch in any case, for it is one of the most amusing series ever aired.

In any case, we will see next year Trump's true colors if the Dems take over Congress. He never was a Republican or a conservative, though he saw that some things needed to be shaken up.

Loved the puzzle, which was satisfyingly tough, but ultimately solvable.

And, has no one mentioned that Fagliano is on salary? At least I would think so since he is WS's assistant in the puzzle editorship.

Aketi 11:58 AM  

Why is anyone surprised that @Rex threw Shrill Wartz on the GRIDDLE again today? It’s his thing.

@Gruffed, that’s a great idea. I’d be glad to DONATE to s puzzle competition fund, especially if it had a niche for encouraging young constructors.

I think I’m suffering from sunlight deficiency this year. I refuse to wear my winter coat because I feel like it should be spring weather by now and as a result my forays into the outside are fleeting. So I’m now fantasizing of sitting on a DECK CHAIR on a cruise ship in tropical waters sipping on a WINE glass watching the sunset after a day scuba diving followed by a session in a HOT TUB.

As a small business owner I can’t do anything other than ruefully laugh over the deluded comments that seem to imply that the United States has anything remotely resembling a free market system. It is tempting to go on a rant about how the DECK is stacked but I’m opting out in favor of looking up potential vacation spots.





Mohair Sam 12:01 PM  

@Z - You insult Ruth Bader Ginsberg by implying she could have been close to Roger Taney. The friendship of two good and brilliant people like Ginsberg and Scalia who had disagreements in politics is an example for all politcians to follow. But narrow minded people insist on hating one or the other.

Reasonablewoman 12:03 PM  

Ditto Howard a brenner. Shame on JimmyQ

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

YEESH

pcardout 12:11 PM  

@FLAC. Cute post! I was very tickled by "not neat" because of how cunningly misdirecting it was (i.e. messy was what I assumed not neat meant). I'm a physics profs who hangs with lots of astro geeks. The pros generally dont use light year at all, but when they do, its LY. I was very pleased with the Brahe clue.

TJS 12:13 PM  

@Z " I wish everyone white and especially male would try it some time. " "IMO" is a way of expressing yourself without pontificating. I wish you would try it some time.
I enjoyed everything about this puzzle. Threw in the "Y" in scry as a one time, final answer and was shocked that it was correct.
Considering the enjoyment I get out of this blog, I have no problem letting Rex go off on a rant once in a while

Christopher Baumle 12:18 PM  

I have to say I do admire Rex's passion about this. And I don't think he was trying to imply that Shortz is racist or sexist. I saw Rex's point as that we would get a lot more interesting puzzles, from a more diverse group of constructors, if the pay were higher. I get that if the pay is only $300, then only those who undertake this as a "gentleman's hobby" can afford to contribute to the Times. Lack of diversity can and often does lead to stagnation.

Robert A. Simon 12:22 PM  

To those of you smugly reminding us that the $300 constructor's payment is a function of supply and demand or some other self-correcting free market phenomenon, please understand you are dead wrong. Salaries are a well-known exception.

Simply put, employers pay--and have always paid--their workers as little as they can get away with. Coal mine owners. Automobile manufacturers. Cities or states that employ teachers. Fast-food companies. And, for that matter, every damn company that pays its female workers less. The list is long and disgusting. That's why there are unions. And public demonstrations. And, sometimes, violence.

The NYT times pays what it pays because it can. And since there's no realistic expectation it will be forced or legislated into paying more, $300 it will be.

They're not being jerks. They're being owners, which, all too often, is the exact same thing.

OISK 12:24 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle, worrying only about the scry-yeesh cross, which turned out correct. I've been doing the puzzles in the evening lately, so haven't commented much. Also, haven't had any complaints this week.

Eager to get to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens next week for the cherry blossoms..."Loveliest of trees, the cherry now, is hung with bloom along the bough... And since to look at things in bloom, fifty springs are little room, about the woodlands I will go, To see the cherry hung with snow." (A.E. Housman in Thursday's puzzle)) Really a favorite poet of mine, surprised that some the very literate people here don't seem to care for his work.

Roz Chast came up in the puzzle as well. I was never a huge fan of her work, but enjoyed her success because I knew both of her parents. Roz wrote a book "Can't we talk about something more pleasant" about her parents' decline and deaths, which received wonderful reviews. For someone who knew and liked the elder Chasts, the book is so distasteful that I can no longer enjoy Roz's work...

Jamie C 12:24 PM  

PITABREAD is redundant.

Nancy 12:35 PM  

@Quasi (11:06) -- How on earth do I copy my comment -- and where then do I store it -- before I post it??? Now this blog has taught me how to italicize (@Z, if memory serves) and how to embed a link in blue (@Teedmn, although @kitshef made a heroic stab at teaching me first. It didn't take with kitshef, because his instructions were given online, whereas Teedmn sent me the most meticulously detailed handwritten instructions -- instructions that I can keep in front of me while I'm embedding.) Anyway, @Quasi, maybe you can teach me to copy my Rex posts before I post them, which sounds counterintuitive somehow. A few no-nos, however: no opening another window on my computer because I don't know how to do that. No using any drop-down menus. No using Microsoft Word (which, even though I'm a writer, I've never once used.) But if I can stay on the Rex site, and simply futz with a few keys, I'm all ears. Thanks in advance, @Quasi, since I'm already over the blog limit.

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

@RP: Well, good mornin, sunshine. Not that it would probably make much diff, but I heard that folks who've contributed over 10 NYTPuzs then get paid $450/puz -- not $350. That's why Fireball went to $451; Peter G. likes to always pay one buck more than everybody else.
Interestin blog write-up. Liked the elephant pic. Speakin of cross words ...

25,000 is a lot of crosswords. Congratz to all the underpaid contributin constructioneers, test-solvers, and editors that are part of the history that gave us all this fun and feist. Happy Silver-K Anniversary, NYTPuz.

fave fillins: EAZYE. IFONLY. HISNHERS. THIRSTY. ELEPHANT. HAMBURG.
staff weeject pick: EOE. There just aren't enough good, solid all-vowel words. IOU. UIE. EAU. [See that? Got so desperate already, that I resorted to French.]

GLOM = stick. Learned somethin, there. All I'd known of was GLOM = steal.

Thanx, Mr. Fagliano. And all U 24,999 other constructioneers.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


**gruntz**

Ian F 12:38 PM  

What I'm learning from these comments is a lot of crossword solvers are privileged assholes.

Don't let them discourage you, Rex. I'm a huge fan and appreciated the rant thoroughly.

Joseph Michael 12:39 PM  

In rising to the defense of constructors, Rex paradoxically dismisses the creatvity, skill, and hard work that Joel Fagliano put into this exceptional puzzle.

I agree that constructors should be paid more but also think that they, including Mr. Fagliano today, deserve recognition and respect when they do a good job. He is not the one who determines constructor pay, so get off your high horse and take some time to give credit where credit is due.

Congrats to the Times on #25,000 and to Joel for crosswords that never disappoint.

Banana Diaquiri 12:42 PM  

"Is there some kind of market study that estimates number of subscribers who would drop a no-puzzle paper"

I didn't read through all the comments after seeing this, so if redundant... the fact is, for those with innterTube version have to pay *extra* for the puzzle. I get the dead trees version just for the puzzle. I get my news from Fox and Sinclair.

JC66 12:45 PM  

@Nancy

Before you hit "Post Your Comment" highlight your post (Command A),then copy it (Command C). The computer automatically saves it.

You can the re-post it by going to the "Leave your comment" box and pasting it (Command V).

Banana Diaquiri 12:46 PM  

"CARET is wrong!!!!"

no, it's not. depending on the font/application, true math superscript is not always available. when not, exponentiation is noted either as: ^ or **.

Roo Monster 12:48 PM  

Hey All !
25,000 puzs is a little over 68 years. Just a trivia factoid.

Too bad "Congratulations NYT" couldn't have been fitted in somehow. That might've been EPIc.

Liked puz overall. SW corner got me also. RELIT was fiendish. Was thinking for clue either sneaking in from being out late, or that ones back is crooked after being thrown out. Har.

Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, North America, South America. What happened to the A's in America in that mnemonic?

Loved @Lorens comment connected to "didn't excite Will enough". I've gotten too many of them to count.

Isn't OLIVE OIL supposed to be on a GRIDDLE, not the other way around? :-)

I FONLY
RooMonster
DarrinV

Fred Romagnolo 1:02 PM  

Unless he voluntarily submits to surgery to transform him into a black female, Rex is a hypocrite. Kepler was, by far, the more important astronomer, but Brahe was his inspiration.

QuasiMojo 1:04 PM  

@Nancy, JC66 above at 12:46 beat me to it, although I am not sure if those controls also work on a non-Mac. Try it out. If you want to save the comment elsewhere other than in the controls' 'memory,' you can PASTE (via Control V or whatever your program says is a paste function) it into a text box or Word page or even an email to yourself (I often do this) while you wait then delete it after your post appears. Hope that helps.

Nancy 1:05 PM  

Thank you, @JC66!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Banana Diaquiri 1:06 PM  

as to complaints about DEEPSTATE, on both sides (which both have some very fine people). if you're old enough to be sentient during Watergate, the only reason we had governance then was that the civil servants, aka DEEPSTATE, kept it going. now, of course, Trump intends to get rid of civil service and go back to the 19th century where all employment was patronage of the President. for those who've not read the history, the US civil service was created following the assassination of Garfield by a job seeker: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Garfield#Assassination

Trump's problem with the civil service, having been there and done that, is that folks who choose to do so are there to serve The People, not The Despot. civil service turns one Liberal, just because it is Public Service. Trump treats government as a profit opportunity; he immediately doubled the entry fee to Mar-a-Lago (and perhaps others). and so on.

wgh 1:18 PM  

Seeing DEEPSTATE clued as if it were a real thing also turned me off. How about “Conspiracy theory hawked by rabid conservative talk show types”

mathgent 1:22 PM  

Something that I've realized only recently. Statements which are untrue, even mind-bogglingly untrue, are often good politics. So when I read things like Rex's column this morning, I brush it off as just another instance of a guy making a political statement about something he cares about. That's fine.

@BarbieBarbie (7:18): I've had that same thought about scientific journals not paying for material they publish. Of course, many of the submitters are doing it for academic advancement.

Lots of good comments today. Out of the mud grows a lotus.

Great puzzle. Joel's terrific. Even though he naticked me at BRAHE/EAZYE.

I'm commenting late because we are in Maui through the end if the month.

Yesterday's WSJ was outstanding. It was by Alex Eaton-Salners. I don't recall that NYT has ever published any of his work. I wonder why he prefers WSJ?


Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Trump "wone" because Trump voters can't spell (or read, write, etc.).

Davis 1:27 PM  

I’m sure Rex will give you a full refund if you decide you’re done here.

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

I thought HOLT referred to more than just animal dens, that it meant anywhere someone laired up. (Yes, I just made up that verb.) But perhaps I'm squishing BOLT hole into HOLT. I love the 2nd definition - can't wait to hear the YEESHes when we see AHOLT in a grid, clued as "Gripping with "of", informally".

This puzzle fell in my average time but it would have had a lot less ink spilled on it if I had remembered there were three four-letter numbers. I eliminated nine early on but the F of IF ONLY led me to enter Four and that made me take out the IC of SATIRIC and wonder what fixture in a diner ended in oDDLE, um, yeah. OLIVE OIL to the rescue.

I agree with @Birchbark and @Hartley70 that the "cure" (the mnemonic for the CONTINENTS) is much worse than the disease. But at least it made me realize how many continents start with A - I guess I hadn't ever lined them up that way.

Thanks, Joel, for a good anniversary puzzle. And please lobby for higher pay for constructors.

Davis 1:32 PM  

Structural racism is a real thing, and what Rex describes is a clear instance of it. There’s no *desire* to discriminate, but the system is structured in a manner that has the *effect* of discriminating.

GeezerJackYale48 1:57 PM  

Ditto Reasonablewoman.

Charley 2:12 PM  

The clue for DeepState should have been “an invention of right wing loonies.”

Karl Bradley 2:22 PM  

I guess my concern is that DEEP STATE is not a thing. It is the fantasy construct of a corrupt administration used to skew the perception of civil servants who, by doing their jobs, expose wrongdoing by those in power.

jberg 2:33 PM  

Hey, did anyone notice that "one hundred THOUSANDTH" has the same number of characters as TWENTY-FIVE THOUSANDTH? Obviously, I didn't check the math before putting it in.

Aside from that, this was pretty easy for a Friday. I think I knew HOLT and SCRY from reading fantasy literature -- otherwise it might have been harder.

The Turkish DEEP STATE (now pretty much destroyed by Erdogan) controlled the army and the intelligence agencies and organized a military coup whenever n elected government showed any signs of being either Islamic or democratic. To use the same term for the phenomenon that some bureaucrats have political preferences is a bit of an overstatement.

I've never tried to construct a puzzle, but if the NYT paid a lot more I might.

James Lowden 2:58 PM  

Rex posits that higher compensation would attract more submissions and raise the quality of the puzzles. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work. He also posits the Times appears to be selling cheap schlock at a premium, and reaping the profits. That’s also how capitalism works.

Lewis 3:03 PM  

@mathgent -- Alex has had seven of his puzzles published in the NYT.

Masked and Anonymous 3:05 PM  

p.s.
I kinda liked DEEPSTATE, as it is almost an anagram of DESPERATE. Speakin of desperate …
M&A almost bit the dust, on the SCRY/YEESH crossin. After an impressive nanosecond burst, decided that SCRE/EEESH was a somewhat inferior, "lose-some" candidate, tho.

I construct lotsa xword-puzs, mostly for the funz of it. If the sellin price soared upward a lot, might consider submittin more NYTPuzs, but probably not less runtpuzs. Part of the problem of NYTPuz submission is the % rejections. Runtpuzs don't get rejected, much [mostly just vilified].
Rejection-rate example:

Submit 10 puzs to NYT. Once I happen to think up a puztheme, takes about an additional 10 hours to build a "good" one (I'm a manual constructioneer, tho). 10 x 10 = 100 hours of kinda fun "work".
Suppose one of em (about my average) gets accepted. Pays $300, say. $300 / 100 hours = $3/hour wage. QED.

M&Also
"No Puz Refunds, BTW"

Hapless Idiot 3:05 PM  

Will someone, for the love of Mike, teach the poor soul how to copy her comments?

The Deep State is not a conspiracy.

Alex Wright 3:22 PM  

@wgh, @charley, the clue does NOT say "entrenched network inside the us government!" Turkey, China, Russia, Thailand ... these countries have or had deep states. It's not a conspiracy theory. It's a simple matter of fact. There really do exist cabals within governments!

Z 3:32 PM  

Anyone ever read Max Weber?

I was going to point out that everyone claiming constructor pay is a result of a “free market” would flunk freshman econ, but @Robert A. Simon beat me to it.

@TJS - Har. Having to remind everyone every time that opinions are opinions is tiresome. If you can’t figure out that “Scalia will be remembered with Taney” is an opinion I suggest you take a course in critical reading rather than ask that writers carefully label every thought so you aren’t confused. I’ll let you work out the difference between not labeling opinions and immediately denying the validity of a statement that makes one uncomfortable.

@Mohair Sam - I’ll insult all nine of them. They’re people, not gods. But that’s not the point. Citizens United and Heller combined are going to be a close 2nd and 3rd to Dred Scott on the list of “worst SC decisions ever.” Scalia and the rest of the Federalist Society minions have a special ring reserved for them in hell. That RBG was his friend doesn’t make his legal opinions any less odious.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

There's no yeesh. There's geez. GEESH maybe. There's no yeesh. That's all.

Z 3:43 PM  

Copying Comments Before Hitting Publish

Select All - triple click or ctrl key A usually work.
ctrl key C to copy.
ctrl V to paste

use the apple key (⌘) instead of ctrl on a Mac.

FROM LATE LAST NIGHT regarding SparkNotes
Tee Hee - Not any better when you spell the poet’s name correctly. You do get hits, about a work where the dead white guy is mentioned. So, you got me, but not really.

At my limit. Ciao.

Jack Mahaffey 3:51 PM  

@Kodak Jenkins,

You can subscribe to the NYT on-line crosswords separately from the news, as I do. It's about $45/year. Why pay extra for the liberal rag that no one in their right minds would read anyway?

Pete 4:00 PM  

@Z -

A) My first "book report" as a high school freshman contained about 40 "in my opinion.."s. My grade and all comments were "F - I know it's your opinion - you're writing it". I've never used "In my opinion" again.
B) Over Easter I gave my nephew a talking to re the Federalist Papers. I pointed out that they were propaganda trying to influence 1 state (NY) to ratify the Constitution, written by exactly 3 of the 55 delegates. Had a delegate from SC written for his constituents the arguments would presumably have been much different. These were also the people who came up with the notion that slaves should be counted as 3/5ths of a person for the purposes of inflating the population and hence political representation of the slave states, but they were 0/5ths of a person in any other matter.
3) Scalia was so tied to the Constitution, and the separation of powers, that he took it upon himself to declare the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 void because he didn't believe they really meant to vote for it. Because he thought it ok to override the votes of Congress.

So yeah, Scalia can rot in hell.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Is "almost an anagram" a real thing?

Uke Xensen 4:36 PM  

"Assistant" doesn't seem the best description of their relationship though.

Uke Xensen 4:38 PM  

Yes, that was odd.

Slow Motion 4:40 PM  

Tycho Brahe compiled the most accurate observations on the motions of the planets the world had ever know before there were telescopes. Brahe knew the Ptolemean system — Earth in the center of everything — was wrong, but didn’t know how to fix it. He knew the Copernican system — Sun in the center, Earth and all planets orbit the Sun, Moon orbits Earth —was also wrong, because if the Earth moved, the stars should show some seasonal back and forth motion, and he couldn’t detect any. This was his error. The seasonal back and forth motion WAS there, but he couldn’t see it without a telescope. Brahe was trying to prove a hybrid system, with the Earth at the center, the Sun, Moon, and stars orbiting Earth, and planets orbiting the Sun. Then he died. Kepler was employed by Brahe as a mathematician, and was never allowed to see all of Brahe’s data; Brahe was afraid Kepler would figure it out and become famous. Within days of Brahe’s death, Kepler got hold of the data, then figured it out and became famous. Kepler’s insights were that planets don’t orbit in circles but in very slightly elongated circles called ellipses, and that stars are much further away than anybody thought which made their seasonal motion very slight.

It’s hard to imagine any publication that would claim that Brahe worked for Kepler. I’ve never seen such an inaccurate clue.

Amelia 4:48 PM  

I agree 100% with Rex today, which I will admit freely. Deep state pissed me off and I suspect without knowing all the things he says about the Times are true.

And for goodness sake, NY TIMES and Joel Fagliano, will you stop already with the stereotypical cluing. Black people are not only RAPPERS. This is getting ridiculous. And for the record, Jews have seders only once a year. So you can stop with that, too.

I went to a funeral today and the car I was a passenger in on the way got hit by a truck, so I'm kind of in a rotten mood today. (Everyone ok. Except the deceased.)

sanfranman59 5:00 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 5:15 4:24 1.19 86.2% Challenging
Tue 4:38 5:37 0.82 12.5% Easy
Wed 7:43 6:00 1.29 87.5% Challenging
Thu 8:59 10:09 0.89 31.8% Easy-Medium
Fri 13:01 13:01 1.00 51.0% Medium

Good grief, Michael. I don't usually comment much on your comments, but feel compelled to do so this time. You can be such a good writer and critic at times and I really do value what you've created here. You can also be a total buzz-kill (especially on 4/20 ;). I sure wish you'd focus on the puzzle with your commentary. I'm not bothered by an occasional jab about unjust constructor compensation or politics or whatever (and btw, my guess is that our politics are similar). But day after day after day of snark is tough to read. OTOH, this is your thing here, after all. So by all means, do it as you see fit. I'm just glad that you've inspired such an interesting group of commenters here in your blog world

On to the puzzle ... There were a few WTFs, but I fought through them and got that nice adrenaline hit when Will's smiling face popped up in R.alph's app.

Things that made me go 'hmm' ... SCRY?? YEESH! 18A was definitely not EAZY-E for me. THIRSTY is 'modern slang'? I trust you. I know sotto VOCE. But SUB VOCE? I trust you.

Things that made me go 'cool' ... I love the 9-stack clue/answer combos in the SE corner: E-COMMERCE, DEEP STATE, PITA BREAD. Also, OVER ICE down there is nice. Mnemonics are fun and I think 3D for the CONTINENTS was a new one on me.

I let out an audible LOL when I entered WINE GLASS over my original answer of 'WIsk broom'(!!!) at 17A. That was just all kinds of wrong. I was stoked when I entered 'onE-hundred' without any crosses in the NE. Not so much when I lost a ton of time before conceding that it was wrong.

Fun puzz ... thanks JF.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

You may not like his opinions folks, but no one, and I mean no one who practices law has any doubt that Scalia had the best mind the court has seen in many decades. You are mistaking outrage for analysis. As for wishing him to rot in Hell, well, not only are your ideologies unmasked but so too your small, bitter souls.

Chuck Duggins 5:14 PM  

Toads and frogs are amphibians, not reptiles. In any case I always enjoy your comments.

Banana Diaquiri 5:26 PM  

Scalia was just a fascist. the structure of the real world in the 21st century bears no resemblance to the late 18th, and announcing that the Constitution wasn't updated to reflect that fact is reason enough to treat 21st century USofA as if it were 1790 is evil. if that floats your boat...

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Isn't LOL audible by definition?

Steve Haner 5:36 PM  

Apolo (OhNo!). Tough puzzle today. Wasn’t expecting a diatribe on the fairness of constructor compensation today. Smoke a fatty and chill out Rex!

ghostoflectricity 5:37 PM  

Amen, Rex. "Deep State" is a conspiracy-theory fabrication of the neo-fascists who call themselves the "alt-right." If it is to be used in a puzzle, it should be clued as "element of right-wing conspiracy theorizing" or words to that effect.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Couldn’t agree more. Rex’s rants fall on deaf ears here.

Calman Snoffelevich 5:55 PM  

Pretty sure Rex is riled up only because of the 9 minute solve.

old timer 6:06 PM  

Those who represent criminal defendants loved Scalia, because his determination to interpret the Constitution according to the words' meanings as of 1789 and the Bill of Rights according to what the words meant in 1791 meant that subsequent attempts to whittle down the Bill met with his disapproval, and in such cases he was often on the side of the notorious RBG.

Jay 6:10 PM  

This is a comment to @ Anonymous Deep Throat... at 7:54AM

You wrote:

"Does adding another $150,000 to the cost to double constructor payments bring in 40,000 new subscriptions to pay the extra cost?"

Your math is wrong and misleads all the blog posters who did not bother to check the math.

At $40 per year subscription, the NYT needs to increase its base by about 4,000 new subscribers (and not 40,000) to make up for the increase in payment to constructors.

Considering that the estimated number of puzzle subscribers is currently 2000,000, then the NYT has to increase its base by only 5%. One can argue that this goal is certainly doable

hankster65 6:15 PM  

My thoughts exactly.

jae 6:24 PM  

Mostly EAZY for me. HOLT was a WOE as was SCRY which was the only place I got hung up. Like others I wanted ROom before ROLE plus sEESH and gEESH seemed plausible which made that corner tough.

Solid Fri., liked it.

The difference between Xword constructors and academics submitting journal articles is that academics are typically on salary or grant money while they are doing the research, unlike, say M&A or RooMonster.

Joe Dipinto 6:52 PM  

I dislike meta puzzles. This is one.

Nobody is forcing anyone to construct puzzles and submit them to the NYT. If you don't like the pay, don't submit them, or don't even construct them to begin with. The idea that higher pay would result in more "quality" puzzles seems misguided and laughable to me. There just may not be enough good constructors out there.

Banana Diaquiri 6:55 PM  

"Scalia, because his determination to interpret the Constitution according to the words' meanings as of 1789 and the Bill of Rights according to what the words meant in 1791"

well, if he were that honest, he would have supported the holding of guns only by those in organized state militias, which is what the explicit text says. not.

Colum Amory 7:10 PM  

And now you have officially lost me. I have no interest in your rants any more. Best of luck, but maybe you should just stop blogging on this if you enjoy it so little.

Mona 7:39 PM  

Over reaction.

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

Barbie,
You chose your words very poorly. Not only was Scalia not a fascist, he would've found that claim particularly odious. As an Italian American of a certain age the charge of fascism was quite serious. Often legally actionable. Recall that the US went to war to stop fascism. Part of that effort was declaring war against Italy. Many patriotic Americans were harmed, physically, financially and otherwise, by being tarred as fascists. Antonin Scalia was many things, but not a fascist. If you know anything about him, know that much at least.




luld.

Rod Mann 7:54 PM  

Rex is such a sad tool. The left is beginning to eat its own and all lil Rexie can do is cry. Suck it up snowflake, MAGA.

Mohair Sam 7:58 PM  

@Z - Ahhh, Citizens United! Of course. I hit the mind-closing hot button. Apologies. Read "Buck vs. Bell" for a Supreme Court decision that is far worse than the two you mentioned. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the majority opinion. Lawyers in Nuremberg used parts of the opinion in defense of Nazis.

Teedmn 8:03 PM  

Har, all day I've been scratching my head over the BRAHE-ha over 11D. On the version I solved on, the clue read "Kepler's contemporary and teacher". I finally checked out the puzzle on Xwordinfo, and there the clue had "assistant" in place of "teacher". Someone must have edited the clue by the time I printed out my copy.

JC66 8:22 PM  

171 comments.

What's the record?

Joe Dipinto 8:34 PM  

@jc66 -- Let's see if we can get it up to 25,000.

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

Z ET AL,
You do know that even liberals like Michael Kinsley now acknowledge that the Citizens ruling was correct.
Check out Vanity Fair May 2, 2016, for starters.

Nino 9:02 PM  

Hey Z, read what Floyd Abrams, the attorney who defended the New York Times in The Pentagon Papers case had to say about the Citizens United case {https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704094304575029791336276632} Then get back.

JC66 9:14 PM  

@Joe Di (small p)

hahaha

Joe Dipinto 9:17 PM  

@JC66 -- And *I* should have used capitals for you. :-)

Nino 9:20 PM  

OK. I.m a terrible linker I admit. Just google Floyd Abrams Citizens United or just fade back into your echo chamber. Have a good night.

Barbara Bolsen 9:43 PM  

I just do the puzzles and occasionally read the blog. I'm shocked at the pay rate. That is pathetically low for the amount of work that goes into constructing a puzzle. As for the lack of diversity ... Will could certainly refuse to accept the many many many many many puzzles that use words like "adman" and other woefully outdated gender-specific job titles. That's a no-brained. Yet I see them regularly in the puzzle.

Andrew Simmons 9:53 PM  

If I read one more cutesy post using today's answers in some "oh look how clever I am" sentence or fragment thereof, I will puke. I really will

Mohair Sam 10:24 PM  

@Andrew Simmons - Relax and throw a little OLIVEOIL on the GRIDDLE and make yourself a HAMBURG to put in your PITABREAD. If you're THIRSTY why don't you OOZE a little booze into a WINEGLASS OVERICE and move out to the DECKCHAIR by the HOTTUB?

Are you yelling YEESH as you barf?

Unknown 10:51 PM  

The argument about academic papers totally doesn’t stand, though, because most of colleges and universities essentially *require* their professors to publish as part of their jobs. So, Rex is doing his job, so he is getting paid to publish, because it’s understood that that’s part of what his salary pays for. Not to mention that (at least in my field, which is not Rex’s) authors of academic papers generally retain the rights to make their work available to the public in certain ways, as long as they aren’t charging for it (the author can post it on their website, for instance). I don’t believe that’s true of the NYT puzzles. So it’s not really a comparable scenario at all.

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

Re 40A and Max Kahn at 8:57 a.m. I've always assumed the abbreviation s.v. means sub voce, meaning what the clue says. I see from Kahn (and my dictionary) that the v. can derive from the Latin verbum, and s.v. can mean sub verbo, i.e. "under the word" etc. (Kahn's sub verba is ungrammatical). Sub voce derives from the Latin vox, which means "voice" but also means "that which is uttered by the voice" or "word, saying, speech, sentence, proverb, maxim" (Lewis and Short Latin dictionary). Thus *sub voce* suited both to a single word (as in sub verbo) but also to different sorts of phrases. I think the clue was accurate as given.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Joe Dipinto 11:27 PM  

@Mohair -- OH NO! He barfed on A POLO shirt that I wanted to wear tomorrow. Now it smells like a DAMP ELEPHANT. Well, WIN SOME, lose some. IF ONLY I had a HOT TUB to CAST my TOEs into.

Anonymous 2:46 AM  

So, I don’t mean to lower the tone here, but THIRSTY in modern slang does not mean what this cluer seems to think it does. The way kids today are using it ... well, see for example, https://www.buzzfeed.com/christianzamora/oscar-isaac-and-john-boyega-thirst-tweets?utm_term=.ieOoK4LGNn#.uhzJZm3Vxp

E S 6:30 AM  

You thought Kanye was in N.W.A.?!

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

That’s why I have a subscription as well! Never knew the pay was so poor. Questioned two other adults here, one in 20s and one that’s 60. Neither guessed and both answered $1000 or so!!

sanfranman59 6:13 PM  

Good point, Anon @ 5:34. Fortunately, I wasn't submitting my comment for peer-reviewed publication.

OlyL 2:45 PM  

Let’s get the important stuff over first. I love any puzzle that makes me think hard, and this one did. I ended up leaving 57 blank because I didn’t know scry (and neither does spell check) and just couldn’t decide what I would cry.

Now for the confession. I was a member of the “Deep State”. We didn’t have a name for it, and it wasn’t that top layer of appointed people. It was, as someone else pointed out, nameless bureaucrats who struggled mightily to make sense of the crazy laws our legislators passed, and, yes, to sometimes smooth over some rough spots. We came as liberals, conservatives and every stripe in between, although, extremists on either side couldn’t stand the pain of being in the middle, so often left in disgruntlement. What often happened was regulations we wrote took the laws to the middle. So the Deep State is a bunch of middle-of-the-roaders.

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