Certain red dye / MON 5-14-18 / End of drinking hose / Fowl raised for food / Rapper with 1996 double-platinum album Hard Core / Banned pollutant in brief

Monday, May 14, 2018

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: north of Medium (3:20)

THEME: FIGHT CLUB (62A: 1999 Brad Pitt movie hinted at by the beginnings of 17-, 21-, 39- and 52-Across) — first words are all things one might do in a "fight":

Theme answers:
  • BITE VALVE (17A: End of a drinking hose)
  • KICKSTART (21A: Get going, as an old motorcycle or a new company)
  • SCRATCH AND SNIFF (39A: Like some magazine perfume ads)
  • PUNCH BOWL (52A: Party vessel with a ladle)
Word of the Day: POULT (9A: Fowl raised for food)
  1. a young domestic chicken, turkey, pheasant, or other fowl being raised for food. (google)
• • •
This is a distressingly bad puzzle. Please understand that I say this with no animosity, no grudge, no nothing but extreme disappointment that the editor is not doing his job. The theme itself is pretty basic, nothing remarkable, but not terrible. Based on their relevance to the word "fight," the first words form a kind of "club"—a slight stretch, maybe, but within the bounds of crossword convention, for sure. I have no idea what a BITE VALVE and even less (far less) of an idea what a "drinking hose" is. "Fetch me my drinking hose! No, that's a garden hose! No, those are pantyhose!" Etc. I do think themers (especially on a Monday) should be reasonably familiar terms, and the things in their clues should also be reasonably familiar things, and neither my wife nor I (two Ph.Ds between us) know what BITE VALVEs or "drinking hoses" are. So maybe a different themer there would've been preferable. But still, theme-wise, this is all mere wobbliness. Not all themes can be great. Some are just OK. Let's say this theme, and its execution, are just OK.

What's not OK is the fill. There is no excuse, when you have a veteran constructor, and a veteran editor, and extremely talented young constructors working in-house, that any of us should have to deal with ****ing EOSIN in a Monday puzzle. See also POULT. See also the egregious and intolerable OBLA. Editors should edit. You could tell the constructor: "Nice theme. Fix this fill and we'll run it." Or—OR—just fix it yourself. I guarantee at least two of the people who work there could fix the junkiness in this grid in not a lot of time. I just need people to understand that this is substandard. Objectively. EOSIN and POULT on a Monday are Ridiculous because they're unnecessarily obscure (EOSIN being radioactive crosswordese most folks won't touch unless desperate). OBLA is terrible any day, anywhere, any time. OBLA crossing OFA. I mean ... this is amateur hour, only None Of The People Involved In The Making Of This Puzzle Is An Amateur. I'm not even gonna touch the heaping helping of crosswordese in this puzzle, i.e. most of the 3- and 4-letter fill. That's not unforgivable. But EOSIN should make any constructor, especially one making a breezy Monday, go "Nope!" Ditto POULT. And OBLA—OBLA should get your constructor card revoked.

I cannot promise that I haven't screwed something up here—repeated a word, or made something worse—but this *extensive* refill (from SW to NE) took me like 10 minutes, and it *feels* like a considerable improvement.
Or maybe try this, with a somewhat different center:
No OBLA. No EOSIN. No POULT. I really wanna get into that NW to see if I can scrub ETTU / ARTE, but it's getting late. Please note—I did not use software here. Just refilled the grid by hand. I am not some magic fixer. I'm not even particularly talented. I'm someone who took a few minutes to try to make a bad grid better. Maybe the editor should be doing ... that. He's way better at it than I am. If only he cared.  

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Larry Gilstrap 12:39 AM  

I really am a pacifist. Most teachers have experiences related to breaking up a fight. The worst fight I ever had to referee was between brothers, well, actually the hardest fights to break up were between young women, resulting in many a SCRATCH and hanks of hair strewn around. Let's move on!

Hikers and bikers are familiar with the BITE VALVE on the ubiquitous Camel Back hydration system. I'd rather hit the bottle, myself. Those bladders have a tendency to leak into the pack with unpleasant results.

One puzzle a day is my limit, and I've seen EOSIN before and balk and move through it. The rest of the fill is fine for a Monday. I see very few threes and very few plurals, way less than other tolerable early week fill.

I am abhorred by physical violence. Ever go to a sports bar and espy a TV in the corner streaming one of those brutal fight shows where one person is beating the crap out of somebody and blood is streaming and you're trying to eat wings? Peace!

Sydney Joe from Kokomo 1:25 AM  

Pretty good for a Monday. I liked it! My favorite words were OFA, OBLA, and the always fun EOSIN. Of all the red dyes EOSIN is my favorite.

I'm surprised you didn't know BITEVALVE, Rex! They're standard equipment on the ends of the drinking hoses attached to hydration backpacks that all the bike riders wear. I thought a granola guy like you would know that easy. Just what the heck did you learn for that Ph.D anyway?

I liked all the rocketry answers: ATLAS, FUEL, DIALS, and PLUTO. SCRATCHANDSNIFF was my bestest favorite answer because I like to do this when I'm home alone, although SCRATCH, BITE, and KICK are pretty lame for a FIGHTCLUB. Maybe it's a girl's fight club. Meow!

Harryp 1:27 AM  


Mark Hudis 1:27 AM  

Sometimes I think Rex is cranky. Sometimes I just flat-out disagree with him. Today, right on the money. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

Drink bladders, such as Camelbaks, used by athletes have a tube with a valve at the end. Compressing it allows for hands free drinking. That's the bite valve. Very common item for endurance athletes.

Mark 1:40 AM  

Nice review

Tina Overcash 1:45 AM  

Ditto! This one upset me so much, I’m commenting for the first time! Grrrr!

travis 1:51 AM  

At 9 I wanted Poultry and Plasma. I honestly thought there was going to be some sort of rebus or other gimmick, but it is Monday so of course there wasn't. Didn't help that I had BeefS for BULKS, but it all worked out in short order.

Anonymous 2:08 AM  

Poultry and Plasma. Rebus on a Monday? Or did the finishing letters disappear into a black square, black hole?

Deej 2:25 AM  

Rex, I have been doing the puzzle for at least 25 years. They have always been magic to me. Sometimes I like them. Sometimes I hate them. (Not based on difficulty: Sometimes I hate the easy ones and love the difficult ones.) But I have little understanding of how they are constructed. Your example grids today are amazing. Thank you. It is so cool and instructive to see how the process works, and to understand through your example the things that annoy you and how they can be improved. There is no question to me that your reworks are improvements.

I’m a well-read and fairly worldly person, and I agree that when a constructor goes into EOSIN and POULT territory, even on a Friday, it does not seem clever or stretchy, but desperate and ridiculous. Fortunately, the crosses were super-easy, and had I not had a typo, this would have been my fastest Monday ever.

Being a cyclist, BITEVALVE was a gimme for me, and was the first themer I filled in. Different strokes...

chefwen 2:38 AM  

Pretty easy Monday with a few hiccups. 31A went from lure to WArn to WAIL. EOSIN was an unknown, filled in with downs and BITE VALVE and DRINK HOSE were new, like Rex, it’s a garden hose.

Liked the theme but it did smack somewhat violent. My kitty does enough biting and scratching, she has yet to learn how to kick and punch.

Loren Muse Smith 3:08 AM  

Andrea – you had me at SCRATCH AND SNIFF. Love that phrase. @Sydney Joe from Kokomo- yeah, I’ve seen enough SCRATCH AND SNIFF offenses in my day, what with a son and husband and all. I’ll point out another - kinder, gentler - version… Hmm. Well ok. Suffice it to say that I’ve made up my own little verb in the private query, Did I odorant this morning?

I did notice the POULT/PLASM and BMOC/EOSIN crosses and thought they were pretty tough for a Monday.

Rex – your riff on which hose to fetch you was the highlight of your write-up. Sure, you lead with SURLY a lot of the time – it’s your shtick. I get that. But your Funny Guy can sparkle.

@Travis - me, too, for “beefs” up before BULKS up.

Also – for “lose on purpose,” I had “shake” before THROW. Ya know – I saw Elsie in the grocery store making her way toward me, but I was able to shake her in the commotion around the pigs-in-a-blanket samples.

Liked the LABS/BITE cross. Uh. I don’t think so. Labs are the frat boys of dogs; they wear Oakleys and backwards baseball caps. Dude – you want me to swim into that pond right now. In November. To fetch you that duck? You see all that ice and snow and stuff over on that side? Ok? Cool. Par Tay!

Andrea – I appreciated that you had four themers and a reveal. And two pairs are stacked! I also liked the periphery OUT TO WIN. Hah!

Kendall 3:17 AM  

DNF because of eOsin and bmOc crossing which is completely asinine. I don’t think anyone has used the phrase “big man on campus” in two decades and I’ve definitely never seen it as an acronym. First Monday DNF in 5 years and that came after running the alphabet there 3 times and couldn’t make it work in my mind. Thought maybe I made some much larger mistake and maybe the word was resin. Good riddance to that crossing.

jae 3:32 AM  

Easy except for the NE corner which...what @Rex said...plus LUCIE on a Mon.?...and TESTing is what you say into a mic.

Lewis 5:58 AM  

I came in to say that while this puzzle didn't have the scrabbliness that Andrea's puzzles usually have, I liked that the BITE, KICK, SCRATCH and PUNCH didn't have fight connotations in their theme answers, and that I thought the cluing was an exemplar of what Monday cluing should be -- easy yet not insulting to the intelligence. I was going to add that I learned POULT and EOSIN, that they were fairly crossed, and that while I didn't know the meaning of BITE VALVE for certain, I deduced it when I came across it, and when I found out later that my deduction was correct, that felt good. It's the only answer of the three that I'll probably remember.

Rex, your redos did remove the non-Monday words, but they introduced THAR, IDNO, and OTO in the first, and repeated THAR and added ORGS, GMAC, and ENT in the second, and none of those six are great shakes, IMO. Maybe Andrea, who of course I can't speak for, or Will and crew, like you, tried other solutions, and decided they weren't so much better than Andrea's that it wasn't worth the overhaul. I don't know. I respected your critique and it was very well argued, but talk about FIGHT CLUB! I think you could and should have been more respectful. What made me bristle in your writeup was your last sentence, "If only he cared". I've dealt with Will and I know he does and I see that said again and again in constructors' notes. I know he cares as much as you do, and that's a lot.

Lewis 6:04 AM  

I am sorry to take up so much space, but I think the following, from Will Shortz and posted in a Facebook crossword site, would be of interest to many in this commenting community, as it has been well discussed here. I posted it yesterday, but it was late in the day, and probably not seen by many, so I'm posting it once more now:

"Dear friends,

Periodically I get asked, "Why aren't more female constructors published in the New York Times?" And I always think, "Well, we don't get a lot of submissions from women." But until now I've never counted.

So this afternoon I counted. I looked through 260 recent submissions ... and counted 33 by female constructors. That's a little under 13%.

This figure is in line with the percentage of female constructors we publish. Last year, according to the stats at XwordInfo, 13% of the crosswords published in the Times were by women. So far this year the figure is slightly better -- 15%.

Why this number is still so low, I don't know.

In positive news, the number of new female constructors is significantly higher. In 2016, 31% of the 26 contributors who made their Times debut were female. In 2017, 19% were female. So far this year 27% have been female. XwordInfo lists all the names.

Our goal is to be inclusive. We want the Times crossword to reflect the lives, culture, and vocabulary of the people who do it, and having more female-made puzzles would provide better balance.

Still for us to publish more women constructors, we need to receive more puzzles by women. That's the bottom line.

Our policy is open submissions. If you're a woman who'd like to get into crossword constructing, we'd welcome your contributions, and we'll be happy to work with you to get you published.

--Will Shortz"

QuasiMojo 6:31 AM  

I loved the movie "POULTergeist." That scary ghost with the wings made of chicken wire? And I've still got my SCRATCH AND SNIFF card from "Polyester." Aah-some. The sunrise in "Dawn of the Dead" had an eerie EOSIN-like glow about it. I loved the scene in the parking lot with the zombie and the helicopter... but nevermind. Wasn't a BITE VALVE used in "Monster Mash" with Peter LORRE? "Fight Club" of course is a bloody mess.

C'mon guys. This was a terrific Monday puzzle. I loved it. @Lewis hit the nail right on the head today. And he didn't even use his STUD FINDER.

Is Rex kidding about THAR? And the dread SHAH? Ugh. After all the dumbing-down we've been getting at the NYT of late, I was grateful for some esoteric crunch! Thank you Ms. Michaels. Keep 'em coming.

Dave 6:36 AM  

I feel the same way about bicyclists that I do about the Amish - nice people, I'm sure, but get your own roads and stop screwing up traffic!!

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Very nice Monday puzzle. I went with the downs early on and got through the crunchy biets easily. I will never complain about difficult entries if they are INFERable from perps.

Glimmerglass 7:11 AM  

There is a well-known public figure who always speaks in superlatives: egregious, intolerable, distressingly bad.@Rex, you’re starting to talk in trumpisms.

John Child 7:25 AM  

I never saw some of the words @Rex complained about, but PLASM made me oof. And THROW was unfortunate. Overall though a fine, easy Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

That's just mean!

Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
kitshef 7:36 AM  

I generally feel a new word or two (but no more) on a Monday is fine and dandy, as long as the crosses are pretty obvious. The POULT area is just fine.

The bad area, and where I agree a rewrite was warrantied, was LILKIM/EOSIN/BMOC. LIL KIM maybe 2% of your solving audience will get from that clue. Maybe less. EOSIN, 5%?

So BMOC needs to be a slam dunk

But in addition to being a mite obscure and dated, BMOC has what seems to me to be an off clue. I think of senior class president, I think high school intellectual. I think of BMOC, I think college jock.

Don't think Rex's fix fully solves the problem, as you still have LIL KIM crossing an initialism, which puts LIL KIt or LIL Kid firmly in play.

Thomaso808 7:36 AM  

In my opinion it should always be SCRATCHNSNIFF without the totally superfluous AND.

Otherwise, great puzzle by ACME, who says she was challenged by Will to add an extra themer. Maybe a little tough for a Monday with EOSIN, but still a fun solve.

RIP Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. Sadly reminds me of Stuart Adamson of Big Country.

Ann Blyth 7:39 AM  

This was o.k. Standard Monday fare. Certainly nothing to get upset about.

Leslie Caron 7:43 AM  

You wanted more puzzles by female constructors. Now you got it. Quit complaining as you’re partly responsible for this dreck.

Reasonablewoman 7:49 AM  

SCUBA gear also has a BITEVALVE
POULT & PLASM are certainly uncommon but easily INFERed and they're real words
OBLA-pretty bad
EOSIN-not so bad but obscure
SCRATCHANDSNIFF always makes me giggle
Had pUmpS before BULKS early on

Hungry Mother 7:50 AM  

After trying a couple of Camelbaks, which I found too bulky, I found a hyration vest by Nathan that is very small and light but has pockets for gels and phone on the front straps and a small compartment on the back for headlamp or other small gear. I always used hydration cells (sippy cups) on my tri-bike, and am happy enough with bottles on my kayak, but I use the vest for any of my runs of over 10K. After 10 duathlons and 14 triathlons, including a half-Ironman, and including 3 very close calls on the bike, I’ve given up cycling, but I’m glad to see so many solvers in that community. If only we could get rid of the cars on our roads.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

It was fine I thought except for EOSIN crossing SHEA. Never heard of eosin and I have no interest in learning so much baseball vocab despite that it seems so pervasive in crosswords due to some bias.

chefbea 7:53 AM  

Tough puzzle.!!! Never heard of poult....poultry - yes. Never heard of Fight Club!!! Never heard of eosin. I agree - this shouldn't have been a Monday puzzle!!!

Amy 8:09 AM  

I liked obla though I admit I at first filled it blah. bite valve seemed obvious.

Thomaso808 8:11 AM  

Scott Hutchison, not Hutchinson.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Another day of beat the boss! I came in sub-3, and within 16 seconds of my Monday record.

That said, I agree that this puzzle had a few hiccups and some questionable fill.

Ted 8:41 AM  

BMOC crossing EOSIN left me NATICK'd

PLASM and POULT I got... but I gave them both the hairy eyeball.

Rex's rewrite of the fill was a vast improvement for a Monday. It's not that I can't get ANISE or LORRE or ELSIE... but I shouldn't have to on Mondays.

GILL I. 9:05 AM  

THAR? As in THAR she blows?
@Glimmerglass, I doubt Trump would use the word egregious - would he know how to pronounce it?
I'm in the @Quasi camp. I thought this was adult and Monday fun. I even like OBLA because you just know Andrea will have a Beatles clue.
Maybe a teensy oof at EOSIN and PLASM and a head scratcher at EMO and his Angsty music genre. I don't think I know his music. I'm not one for angst in my music.
SCRATCH AND SNIFF is primo. Gadzooks I hate those things. You can smell the magazine a mile away and the smell never fades. Macy's catalogs always have at least 3 pages of them things. Givenchy permeates.
Did you notice? BITE KICK SCRATCH PUNCH and FIGHT can be either a verb or NOUN......
Good comment @Lewis.

Noah Swartz 9:05 AM  

Plasm and eosin we're annoying, but BMOC really threw me - along with the LORRE OREL crossing.
Not a fan.

EdFromHackensack 9:06 AM  

BMOC is definitely a thing. 100% legit. What's wrong with OBLA? Its a gimme for 99% of us. POULT, well I wanted an RY at the end... but I inferred was correct. EOSIN I did not know but easy enough from the crosses. I finished in a third of a cup of coffee's time. Easy.

Robert Sherman 9:08 AM  

One of my fastest times ever. Rex needs a chill pill at times, though a few answers were odd. I got those from the perpendicular directon.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

Deliciously droll. Remind me never to get into a fight with ACME. She fights dirty, what with all that biting and kicking and scratching. Ouch.

I think the ante could have been upped, though. In the top row, right where OBLA is now (5A), I would have tried to fit in BELT. With all the theme answers *below*. Get it? Has anyone else suggested it? Haven't read the blog, yet.

I assume that POULT is the singular of poultry. So I learned something new today -- unusual on a Monday. Nor have I ever heard of a BITE VALVE. And there's no PPP nor crosswordese either. A Monday that respects the intelligence of the solver. Nice job, ACME.

His Radiance 9:24 AM  

Eosin is a gimmie any day of the week.
Poult just fell out of the surrounding fill.
Puzzle was fine if you're looking for enjoyment and diversion.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I worked in the medical device industry for 14 years, making apheresis devices to separate out human PLASMA. In 14 years, never once did I hear or read the word PLASM. Hello!

ArtO 9:50 AM  

Have to agree with Rex today's criticism of the NE and BITEVALVE (???). That said, thought the theme was fine.

bookmark 9:51 AM  

Eosin is from Eos, Greek goddess of the dawn. Eosin is also used as the red dye in ballpoint pens.

Mohair Sam 9:57 AM  

Well I thought it was a fine puzzle except for the EOSIN thing, which is best reserved for Friday/Saturday puzzles - still, the crosses were easy.

Didn't like Rex's write-up one bit today. His nastiness towards Will Shortz is off-putting at best, makes me wonder what's wrong with Rex.

And what the heck is wrong with OBLA, a made up opening word from a song title known by almost everyone. I've never heard him make a peep about Jaberwocky clues, words familiar to mostly English majors, nor Robert Burn's indecipherable lilts. It's a freaking Monday and OBLA is a friendly gimme to a huge portion of solvers.

Finally, the arrogance in his dismissal of BITEVALVE (because in his world he had never come across one) was informative.

jberg 10:08 AM  

I know what. a BITE VALVE is, but it took me a bit to figure out that you might call that little tone a hose rather than, we’ll, a tube. And I’m one of those who thought getting in OBLA was a high point of the puzzle. I also liked that it began with a LEER.

OTOH, I thought the clueing was a little too literal, a bit too basic, a smidgeon too simple... sorry, I got carried away there. Anyway, not as witty as Acme can be at her best.

BMOC is pretty straightforward, though, and any crossword rapper starting with L is either Ludacris or Lil somebody-then you just have to count the letters.

@Loren, that story about the sock puppet is a real tear-jerker.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

So once again the commentariat drove me back to read Rex, whom I'd skipped as usual. He is deeply unhappy with his 3:06 solving time (poor, poor Rex, what an embarrassingly slow time; how can he face the world or even look in the mirror ever again?) and wants Will Shortz to dumb down the puzzle for the rest of us so he'll never have to see EOSIN or POULT on a Monday. Please don't leave, Will, please don't ever leave! If you LEVI may have to abandon the NYT puzzle for good. (It would depend on who took over of course.) And, no, you're not "lazy" -- I think you're a terrific editor. Thanks to @Lewis, @Quasi, @Thomaso808, @His Radiance, and @GILL for appreciating some crunch on a Monday. There will be more than a few others as the day continues, I'm should imagine.

@GILL -- I also hate those SCRATCH AND SNIFF enclosures. You can smell them from 20 feet away -- without once scratching them or ever sniffing them. I won't throw them out in the wastepaper basket; I either get them out of the house that very nanosecond or I put them in with the food trash so at least they'll be thrown out by the end of the day. And I agree with you on EMO. I don't like "angst in my music" either.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

No unfamiliar words in puzzles! They're obscure and ungettable!

No familiar words in puzzles! They're boring and tiresome!

Conclusion available for those who can't do the math...

Kendall 10:35 AM  

@kitshef said it perfectly for me. BMOC has to be either a slam dunk or very inferrable, but as clued I was never getting that O. If anything I would have guessed an A thinking maybe at some point the coolest kid in high school was referenced as a weird abbreviated BigMac or something. My first thoughts I wrote were a little harsh last night but after waking up this morning and chatting with my wife and friends and none of them knowing BMOC as an acronym either I still think that was a bit out there for a Monday. Better luck on Tuesday!

sketto 10:52 AM  

Did Will Shortz used to bully Rex in the high school cafeteria or something? Rex’s animosity toward Will has gone beyond normal critique into something personal.

Amelia 10:54 AM  

My weekly reminder that the New Yorker Crossword is online today. And it's a PATRICK BERRY and everything that implies. It's gorgeous.


Dan v, 10:56 AM  

Gotta agree...this pretty good Monday puzzle was ruined by EOSIN/BMOC crosses. NYT can do better than this.

newspaperguy 11:04 AM  

Argyles are my favourite drinking hose, unless I am in a kinky mood. Then it's time to haul out the fishnets.

Harry Keates 11:15 AM  

Funny reading Rex's comments because I didn't notice any of the words he had a problem with. After getting Leer, I did the downs completely across the top ( 1 to 13) and they were all pretty easy, so I ended up with just off my best Monday time ever, well below my average, and thought it was an easy puzzle. I noticed Obla as I went because the clue was so long, but arte and poult completely escaped me till I read Rex's comments.

I enjoyed the puzzle, easy theme to figure out and pretty smooth sailing. No great words that I especially enjoyed, but nice in a non-descript kind of way.

webwinger 11:17 AM  

Anyone in a healthcare profession is likely to have seen photomicrographs of tissue labeled as H&E (hematoxylin and EOSIN) stained. That being said, I didn’t even notice the word before coming here, having filled it in entirely from crosses. (Had no trouble with BMOC.) POULT, on the other hand... And I agree that the microphone word is always TESTing.

old timer 11:20 AM  

I'm with OFL today, because EOSIN and POULT are ridiculous words for a Monday puzzle.

Malsdemare 11:21 AM  

I thought it was fun. I put in capon, then LUCIE, and realized the Bruins didn't play for anyone that began PL. Put in PLAS, took it out, and wandered off to do other sections. Once ATLAS and KICKSTART went in, I inserted PLASM and POULT, both of which seemed vaguely familiar. Even though I don't cycle and haven't run in 15 years, so don't have a Camelbak, I knew BITEVALVE, and smiled when I put it in. And, Lord love a duck, I actually caught the theme before I had all the themers in, so knowing it helped me fill some squares.

I didn't like EOSIN, but I'm of an age where BMOC is familiar. I finished faster than usual, which in my lazy morning world, is a bug, not a feature.

So thanks ACME and Will.

David Schinnerer 11:27 AM  

Why is DIY the answer for using a handyman?? If I did it myself, I wouldn't be hiring an handy(person).

Masked and Anonymous 11:30 AM  

THAR! har.
10 U's in the original, 9 U's in them THAR versions. Just sayin.

POULT/PLASM slowed my solvequest down a few nanos, but didn't really bark like a dog to m&e.
OFA/OBLA area is despera-licious, has an extra U, and shouldn't be monkeyed around with lightly.

Gotta grant, EOSIN is maybe a bit too raised-by-the-wolves for the MonPuz. First THAR version goes with IDNO and OTO to fix it. Nice overt desperation, but that THAR version #2 seems to be a lot cleaner. ENT ain't no Oscar-winner, but neither was PAS. GMAC vs. BMOC is pretty much a wash IM&AO, btw.

OTOBG [On the other boxin glove] ... any puz with a theme like this seems like it deserves to put up a *fight*. Sooo … Editor M&A woulda said: leave er alone and move it over THAR to Wednesday, EO Sins and all. Double digit U's rates our respect. QED.

Cool write-up, @RP. This puz sure put U in a fightin mood. Nice alternative grids. Do U ever edit runt puzzles?
And thanx for CLUBbin us with fun, Acme darlin. Was LILKIM a seed entry?

Masked & Anonymo10Us


Michael Collins 11:33 AM  

Rex, great work today!

Lewis 11:39 AM  

My five favorite clues of last week:

1. Got home safely, in a way (4)
2. Jolly "Roger"? (7)
3. Beat someone? (7)
4. Patty alternative? (5)
5. ' (4)


Z 11:57 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap - Worst fight I ever had to break up was between two sisters and started over “turkey thighs.”

puzzlehoarder 12:02 PM  

BITEVALVE is one of those hiding in plain sight gems that would grace the stacks of the best late week puzzles. Between that entry and a number of other late week level bonuses that some of the local losers have complained about I got an extra two minutes of puzzling out of this one. Thank you @ACME.

As far as complaints about entries that "shouldn't be used" goes I find people who do this fall into three basic categories inexperienced, narrow minded, or self important. Mostly they're a tiresome combination of all three.

@Nancy, I hope you're still reading. I thought this was a perfectly enjoyable Monday too.

True Grits 12:07 PM  

As anyone with a PhD can tell, this puzzle is proof that Will Shortz is a mean, lazy, ugly barbarian amateur who doesn't know one end of a pencil from another. He could have put in GMAC, SHAH, and IDNO, but, no, he had to let that fricking EOSIN just stay there like a black eye that we all had to stare at on a Monday morning. I was so upset I could barely turn on my drinking hose for breakfast.

Carola 12:19 PM  

I'm with @Rex on this one.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:19 PM  

This was bad. The one positive thing about it that it was over easily, and I only had to play the alphabet game for BMOC/EOSIN. A couple more stuff like that and this becomes a historically horrible puzzle. The way it is, just very bad.

mathgent 12:25 PM  

@puzzlehoarder (12:02), @Nancy, and a few others: For the record, I'm with you. A pleasant Monday.

@Lewis (11:39): Another good job selecting the clues of the week.

Too much Rex bashing today. I enjoy hearing his often-controversial opinions. And, like today, they engender some thoughtful rebuttals.

Roo Monster 12:39 PM  

Hey All !
Why so many guys love FIGHT CLUB movie escapes me. A very weird played out movie. (No spoilers...)

This puz did have some Faux PAS about. IMHO. Agree with Rex on the not-GOAT fill. OTB/PCB area, for one. In My DIY Opinion. :-)

No INFER guss-up. Surprised at no IMPLY references. I thought SURLY there'd be. Liked the Two Double F's! Plus an extra one for a total of Five. F respect, yo.


TJS 12:40 PM  

People,People,People ! Rex has informed us on numerous occasions that there are two, count em, two PHDs living in his house, so I think we should all keep our contrary opinions to ourselves. Thank you.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I thought this was an enjoyable and easy puzzle that SOME people might think is a bit more Tuesday. If it was a little crunchier than usual, I say "So what!?" I guess a two Phd household is now necessary to determine if something is "a thing"....but when it comes to DRINKING HOSE you need the extra attribute of being non-sedentary. Also, for the middle of this country the word POULT is not an outlier and Monday easy. Probably due to the fact that news from the Chicago Board of Trade is hard to avoid. I'm tired of the Shortz dissing.

Z 1:18 PM  

@mathgent - I do appreciate thoughtful rebuttals. I must confess that I didn’t notice most of Rex’s plaints while solving save PLASM/POULT. I disagree with his plaint about OB LA because part of the way you know it’s an ACME puzzle is a Beatles clue. I like seeing the constructor’s voice come through. I don’t know how I missed EOSIN other than I came to that section via down clues and filled it without ever reading the clue.
I see over at xwordinfo.com that ACME hadn’t heard of BITE VALVE, either. I have heard of them, cyclist and hikers often want hands-free ways to access their water. I think BITE VALVE is at least as Monday appropriate as LIL KIM or KICK START.
In short, I see Rex’s point but I enjoyed the puzzle. I do wonder, though, how I would have reacted to it as a novice solver.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

I had to Google a BITE VALVE, post-solve. Turns out I own two of them - one on my jogging CamelBak and one on my cycling CamelBak. I hate wearing them. I am notorious for not drinking water when I exercise so if I relied on the water bottle in its cage on my bicycle, I would never bother to lean over (risking a fall), yank the bottle out, break my teeth opening the cap and, after dripping water all down my front, then try to put the thing back without dropping it...Having the hose right within reach of my mouth means I will drink water at an acceptable level. I just hate the CamelBak for the weight on my back and they're also uncomfortable in hot weather.

I agree with @Nancy and @Gill about hating the perfume SCRATCH AND SNIFF ads. But my worst run-in with SCRATCH AND SNIFF was when the utility company sent one around so you could experience what natural gas smelled like and thus learn when you were in danger of experiencing an explosion. I sniffed - instant headache. Just the memory makes me feel ill.

While I wouldn't want EOSIN to become the new ETUI, I found it fine in today's puzzle though I was glad to have recognized BMOC from earlier puzzles. Otherwise that crossing would have been a trouble spot. Nice job on the theme, ACME.

tea73 1:30 PM  

I came here to find out what EOSIN and BMOC were. Not a clue for either and never did guess the right letter. I have heard of Big Man on Campus - but it's not a term I've ever seen outside of a crossword puzzle and definitely not initialized. I never heard of a BITE VALVE, but at least it was inferable from the crosses. Apparently I should have heard of them since I took a scuba diving lesson once way back in the 1970s.

I don't really mind partials and actual laughed at OBLA di! OBLA da! Life goes on!

Stephen Minehart 1:32 PM  

I mostly disagree with Rex today. Puzzles are interesting when you see answers you haven't, or don't normally see in previous puzzles. Why is EOSIN not OK? It's legitimately important in biology and medicine, and you learned about it if you took intro biology in college. The crosses should be easy on a Monday, which they really were. So easy in fact, that I didn't even notice eosin until I read this blog.

Bite valve is a new term for many, but bicycling is a whole lot more common in America that fencing, and epee is in every other puzzle.

I object a little more to POULT. Is that really a thing? Good crosswords don't make things up, and I am suspicious that anyone ever really uses the term "poult." I have to override autocorrect to even include it in this comment.

Mostly I object to Lil' Kim crossing Peter Lorre. I knew them both, so not really my problem, but names of entertainers shouldn't ever cross like that. That's an honest-to-God Natick right there. I'm guessing the solver demographics meant a lot more people here knew Lorre than knew Lil' Kim. They're both legitimate, just not crossing each other.

JC66 1:33 PM  

@Lewis said it all. " If only he cared" indeed.

OffTheGrid 1:37 PM  

@David S. The clue for DIY us simply "Handyman's inits." There's nothing about using a handyman, so I think it works. I get your point, though.

On another matter:
It doesn't cease to amaze me that there are so many complaints about items in puzzles that someone doesn't "know". I suggest to these folks that they do children's synonym substitution puzzles. They would probably have a great solve time, too, which seems to be all that matters.

Laurel Grotto 1:47 PM  

The review completely misses the point of us once again being subjected to hurtful and offensive language. Where to even begin? I guess with leer. Unbelievable.

GHarris 1:58 PM  

No problem getting eosin and poult because the crosses were easy. Still, dnf because I had hulk up which left me with oh la di. Yeh, I know,shoulda known better.

Hartley70 1:58 PM  

Here we go. For me, an ACME puzzle is a terrific way to start the week. The woman just makes me smile with the variety and topicality of her cluing. She's all over the place and I love it. I knew it was her when I got to OBLA. This may be an easier Monday, but I had fun!

Reasonablewoman 2:03 PM  

Is LEER hurtful and offensive? What else today is in that category?

sanfranman59 2:14 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 3:46 4:24 0.86 10.3% Easy

Pretty standard ACME Monday fare ... clean, smooth and easy, though I didn't know what a BITE VALVE is and EOSIN isn't a Monday answer.

Z 2:24 PM  

@Lewis - Here is what I find so frustrating about Will’s post, “Why this number is still so low, I don't know.” Someone wanted celebrity constructors. They recruited them. They paired them with experienced, top flight constructors. They churned out polished above average efforts. Imagine for a minute that Will or his bosses said, “we want a wider variety of constructors. Let’s recruit them. Let’s pair them with our best constructors. Let’s make sure that their published efforts are average or above average work.” What would be the result? Meaning well just isn’t enough. One actually has to do something. Worse in my opinion is that the doing isn’t actually all that hard if one decides they’re going to do it.

Deej 3:03 PM  

I'm kind of surprised to see all the vitriol here. Following Rex and being upset at his snarkiness is like going to see Don Rickles and being offended that he insults people. Yeah, Rex does seem to cross a line regarding Will sometimes... He also seems occasionally to fall into the trap of, "If I haven't heard of it, it can't really be a thing." Rex has his faults, Will has his faults, and we all have ours. I'm just here to learn - from Rex and all of you scintillating commentators - and have an occasional laugh. (Rex doesn't get enough credit for how funny he can be.) If it ever gets to the point where I'm tired of Rex's ranting, there are many other NYT puzzle sites I can read.

JC66 3:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
alexa shortbush 3:26 PM  

Sorry to barge in but I am offering free puzzles on my new site alexashortbush.net. I am an established constructor with more than enough puzzles to share, so please check it out. Thanks.

JC66 3:31 PM  


You do know that the first editor of the NY Times crossword was a woman and that, unlike many other endeavors, there's been nothing stopping women from constructing puzzles and submitting them to the Times.

I'm blessed to have 5 grandchildren, 2 girls and 3 boys. Even at a very young age, the difference between the sexes is obvious and undeniable, mostly due to nature, not nurture. Why does it matter that women don't want to construct crossword puzzles.

Celeste 4:02 PM  

EOSIN/BMOC - ouch.

Warren Peaceful 4:09 PM  

@Z Woman here. There is nothing stopping women from constructing puzzles, as @JC averred. His nature vs. nurture comment is grossly simplistic, but still.

JC66 4:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 4:24 PM  

@Warren Peaceful

It may seem overly simplistic, but that's a function of how my grandkids are being raised.

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

@Z You make a great point. I think what a lot of people miss is how clubbiness works. If men construct, chances are the audience will skew towards male solvers, and women who do solve may feel like less a part of the crowd. If you want a diverse group of solvers and constructors you probably have to make a concerted push. This is true for race too. There is certainly an old white dude stodginess to the puzzle.

Blue Stater 4:40 PM  

OFL wrote more elegantly what I have been saying for years. The NYT puzzles have fallen on sad days. It is time -- it is long past time -- for a change in the editorship.

Winnie 5:24 PM  

Funny, I had no trouble with BMOC so eosin was ok. Never heard of it, but didn’t matter. Lil Kim is one of the few rappers I have heard of. Plasm and Poult just seemed ok. My two cents

sketto 5:24 PM  

Thank god, so many of us have banded together over this travesty. I think this day will be remembered by history as Eosin Monday - the day Will Shortz went one clue too far. We’ll take Eosin just fine on Friday or Saturday. We’ll take rebuses, numbers and other weird shit on Thursday and sometimes even Wednesday. Tuesday you can slip in a nice vocab word or two, but if you put EOSIN on a Monday...! Then you, Mr. Will Shortz, can go straight to hell. I only like to be amused when doing diverting crossword puzzles LATE in the week, as Rex says. I mean, are we trying to have fun here or preserve some arbitrary status quo?

I’m organizing a picket of The NY Times on repeating Mondays. I need volunteers to join me.

I already have our cheer ready - Hey hey. Ho Ho. Eosin has got to go (on Mondays and probably Tuesdays too).

Or maybe - What don’t we want? Hard words in our crossword! When don’t we want them? Mondays! (Otherwise they’re mostly ok.)

Who’s with me?!

Hungry Mother 5:30 PM  

Finally finished a New Yorker puzzle today after two fails. Are there any discussion blogs for that puzzle? Google didn’t find me any and I don’t have ChumHum.

JC66 5:41 PM  

@Hungry Mother

Check out Orange's Blog

FrankStein 5:58 PM  

Anyone who thinks BMOC is a Natick really needs to find another pastime.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

I didn't think it was awful, but I didn't think it was a Monday, either.

Hungry Mother 9:47 PM  

@jc66: thank you

Aketi 10:02 PM  

Hahaha, so many complaints about the puzzle, but having confessed to @Nancy in Central Park today that I hadn’t had time to do a puzzle in the last week and that I didn’t mind spoilers let me know enough about the theme that it was worth it to squeeze in between prepping dinner.

How could I not love a puzzle with KICK and PUNCH and FIGHT CLUB? @Nancy, just dawned on me that in Tae Kwan Do, KICKs are definitely an above the belt activity. In fact, they specialize in head KICKs. In Muay Thai they allow below the belt KICKs to the legs. Given my height I’m sure you can guess where I prefer aiming my KICKs. Now that I’m only doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Im not allowed to PUNCH, KICK, or BITE. Technically you aren’t supposed to SCRATCH either but unless you clip your nails every day, it’s pretty hard not to inadvertently SCRATCH your opponent when you grab onto their Gi to either choke them or wrap it around one of their limbs to immobilize it and gain advantage.

FYI, the FIGHT CLUB I belong to actually is quite fun and often involves brunch. Despite the movies, not all Martial Artists are sociopaths. Many are just geeks who look at Martial Arts as another form of chess.

Anyway, had a lovely day in Central Park in a brief window of sunshine between what looks like a series of drizzly days and enjoyed the puzzle afterwards.

Aketi 10:06 PM  

@Reasonable woman, my first thought on BITE VALVE was how hard I used to BITE down on the mouth piece of the regulator as I sucked the air out of the tank twice as fast as everyone else. I did finally learn to relax so I didn’t have to end my dives earlier than everyone else.

Aketi 10:21 PM  


@Teedmn, I was explaining to @Nancy today that I classified humans as camels and ferns. Sounds like you might be a fellow camel. I never bring a water bottle with me, not even to Martial Arts classes.

Teedmn 11:25 PM  

@Aketi, definitely a camel here. I was visiting @Diana, LIW (of Syndiland fame) in Spokane the weekend before last and did a 12K in 80 degree weather. I stopped at two water stops but after that my stomach was sloshing and I skipped the rest. I get so tired of the “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” message and everyone walking around with their water bottles and yelling at me for not drinking enough, sheesh..

Anonymous 1:52 AM  

Among all the other foibles, I don't think perfume ads are actually "scratch and sniff". I think you just open the insert and they start stinking.

Teddi and Teddy 8:12 AM  

Ha! sketto. We are on board.

Brett 10:50 AM  

@alexashortbush You need a new domain, friend.

Nelson 10:43 PM  

New to the game, but I got an appetite for learning so I'm all in..deal me in..

thefogman 11:10 AM  

A rare Monday DNF for me. I spelled REEBOK with a C which didn't help trying to figure out LILKIM. I guessed LILcIg and the BMOC acronym was just alphabet soup after that. I probably would have solved if it wasn't for misspelling REEBOK. No point in WAILing over it. Next time I'll be OUTTOWIN

Burma Shave 11:53 AM  


ERIC and ELSIE want to KICKSTART it early,
but ASNEW to the game it SEEMS they get SURLY


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Weird: the sorest spot of all, to OFL and many others, seems to be EOSIN. From my medical background I recognize EOSINophils, cells that eat red blood cells, so that entry didn't really bother me. As to OBLA, obviously a ridiculous reach construction-wise, I forgave it because OBLAdi is one of my favorite Beatle tunes. Lotta fun. La la la la life goes on.

Generally, though, this puzzle is a collection of really long reaches. I knew neither "drinking hose" nor BITEVALVE, not being a serious cyclist. (Check out several panels of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine to see what the artist thinks of the cyclist personality.) POULT is legit, and so is the rare variant PLASM, but for either to appear on a Monday seems to be pushing it--let alone both.

Welcome @Nelson. please don't take today's offering as typical. As the week progresses, your thinking cap will be putting in more work.

Theme was fine, though at least half of the FIGHT actions belong exclusively to the distaff side of combat. Guys do not BITE or SCRATCH. Well, Mike Tyson excepted.

Okay, I'm gonna do this just once: award the DOD to LILKIM. There, rappers! I've made my peace with you. Now kindly stay out of my puzzles! Score? Here comes Koepka up the 72nd needing par to stay out of the plusses. Aw shucks, bogey, but he happily putted OUTTOWIN his second straight Open. Congrats, and move over, Curtis. Bogey it is.

rainforest 1:45 PM  

EOSIN was a gimme (pathology background), and it has appeared in previous crosswords, but I suppose it is a tad obscure for some. Even though it was easy to get POULT from the crosses, it was a head-scratcher. My girlfriend, who is a runner who has a Camelback and so I knew BITE VALVE. See, that's what happens in puzzles - things you know and things you get from crosses.

Overall, this was a pretty solid Monday puzzle, even though I'm a lover, not a FIGHTer.

I was rooting for Tommy Fleetwood in the US Open, and I was yelling at the TV that the putt broke a bit right. Didn't listen. Wonder if there hadn't been a grandstand by the 18th green what Koepka might have ended up with. Great tournament, and if you want some fun, sing "OBLA di bla da".

leftcoastTAM 2:33 PM  

Neat theme and revealer, and not particularly easy, with the oddly-named BITEVALVE leading off.

Other resistance from POULT and LUCIE in the NE, and EOSIN (huh?) and DIY in the middle.

The "Handyman" clue for DIY is suspect because one can actually be in that business (found on Angie's List, e.g.), and is not necessarily a DIY dad under the kitchen sink.

Overall, a kind of unbalanced Monday-Wednesday blend.

Diana,LIW 4:41 PM  

Agree with @Lefty - felt tougher than the average Monday - then noticed the POULT/EOSIN toughies. Gotten thru crosses, but really... Not stuff you say...ever. "Should I get some POULT for dinner honey? Or a nice steak, the color of EOSIN?" Umm, think I'll go DIY for dinner if those are my choices.

And whilst LILKIM made sense after crosses, he too is not in my everyday vocab.

Nuff said. Happy Monday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Dale Wyttenbach 6:38 PM  

+1 for “editors should edit”. But I suspect it’s a part-time responsibility for someone who is overworked and underpaid, for a print industry that is struggling.

rondo 6:46 PM  

First learned BMOC from MAD magazine c. 1965. Read every word in my first MAD (it cost 25 cents, cheap) on a cross-country car trip from Seattle back to MN; great way to KICKSTART a life of erudition. So BMOC helped with the unknown EOSIN, which might as well have been PLUTO-PLASM.

What in DEUCES happened to that golf tourney?

LILKIM was kinda LI’L 20 years ago, so what @spacey said. But what a change when one BULKS up.

No write-overs, so maybe a SURLY “meh”.

spacecraft 6:54 PM  

@DLIW: Ahem, you should google pics of LILKIM; then you'd know to put an "s" in front of "he." For SURE you'd know.

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