Old Palm smartphone / TUE 1-8-19 / Cozy accommodations for traveler informally / Opening strip on package

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Constructor: Freddie Cheng

Relative difficulty: Medium (though for me it was more Medium-Challenging) (for a Tuesday) (3:50)

THEME: ABSTRACT ART (61A: What may be created using the answers to the six starred clues?)— I guess they are phrases that might also, taken another way, be elements in a hypothetical abstract painting ... because they're just colored shapes and not necessarily pictorial ...

Theme answers:
  • BLANK CANVAS (17A: *Starting point, metaphorically)
  • BLACK BOX (26A: *Important part of a plane)
  • TANLINE (40A: *A swimsuit might leave one)
  • GOLD RING (51A: *Powerful object in "The Hobbit")
  • GRAY AREAS (3D: *Ill-defined situations)
  • RED SQUARE (36D: *Moscow landmark)
Word of the Day: NENA (25D: "99 Luftballons" singer) —
Nena (pronounced [ˈneːna]; born Gabriele Susanne Kerner, 24 March 1960) is a German singer-songwriter, actress, and comedian who rose to international fame in 1983 with the Neue Deutsche Welle song "99 Luftballons". In 1984, she re-recorded this song in English as "99 Red Balloons". Nena was also the name of the band with whom she released the song. The re-recording of some of her old songs rekindled her career in 2002 and she has sold over 25 million records, making her one of Germany's most successful music artists. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello! It's the first full week after New Year's Day and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. As you know, I write this blog every. Single. Day. OK, two days a month I pay young people to write it, but every other day, all me. OK sometimes I take vacations and generous friends of mine sit in, but otherwise, I'm a non-stop blogging machine. Seriously, it's a lot of work. It's at least as much work as my day job, and unlike my day job, the hours *kinda* suck—I typically solve and write between 10pm and midnight, or in the early hours of the morning, so that the blog can be up and ready for you to read with your breakfast or on the train or in a forest or wherever it is you enjoy the internet. I have no major expenses, just my time. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog in any way beyond simply asking for money once a year. I hate ads in real life, so why would I subject you all to them. I actually considered redesigning the site earlier this year, making it slicker or fancier somehow. I even got the process partly underway, but then when I let slip that I was considering it, feedback was brisk and clear: don't change. Turns out people don't really want whistles and bells. Just the plain, internet-retro style of a blogger blog. So that's what you're getting. No amount of technical tinkering is gonna change the blog, which is essentially just my voice. My ridiculous opinionated voice yelling at you, cheerfully and angrily, about how much I love / hate crosswords. I hope that this site has made you laugh or taught you things or given you a feeling of shared joy, or anger, or failure, or even given you someone to yell at. I'm fine with that. I also hope I've introduced some of you to the Wider World of Crosswords, beyond the NYT. I am passionate about puzzles and I (mostly) adore the people who solve them—so many of my friends, and the thousands of you I've never met. I can't stop, and I won't stop, and I hope you find that effort worth supporting.

Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are illustrations from "Alice in Wonderland"—all kinds of illustrations from throughout the book's publication history. Who will get the coveted, crosswordesey "EATME!" card!? Someone, I'm sure. You, I hope. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

"Red Square" (1915) by Kazimir Malevich
I didn't enjoy this much, though I recognize there is at least a clever idea underneath it all. Also, I think the puzzle could really use a BLUE STREAK? For real, though, two things put me off—one is that the puzzle seems mildly derisive of its subject, as if ABSTRACT ART were merely a random conglomeration of different-colored shapes; the other is that the grid is (once again, second day in a row) just *crammed* with theme material, not because it's necessary, but because it's ... just ... more. This is a variation on the stunt puzzle, where the constructor gets super-enamored with a construction feat and (often) loses sight of whether the feat is worth it, from a pleasurable puzzle-solving perspective. Or even from a logical perspective.  And the main problem with choking the grid with theme material is that the non-theme material suffers. Today's holds up OK, I guess, but there's an awful lot of crosswordese, and none of the non-theme stuff is very interesting. TEST CASE and TEARTAPE are the only points of interest, and they aren't that interesting (the latter actually messed me up badly, as I didn't really know the term and, having TEAR, wrote in TEAR LINE ... even though TANLINE was already in the grid ... again, I didn't know TEARTAPE had a name). OLA DEO IRE ONO *and* ENO NENA EDNA EROS etc. It's roughish. I kinda like the concept, or at least I like the thought of the concept, but the execution didn't result in an enjoyable puzzle, for me.

Some super-irritating things: ELISA ... if you don't have anyone famous for your name, don't use. The clue 24D: Form of Elizabeth = ??? It's also dull. Further, KOOK ... what the hell is up with the clue (18D: Loony)? Is "loony" supposed to be a noun? Because KOOK is a noun and LOON is a noun, and KOOKY is an adj., and so is LOONY, dammit. I could not accept KOOK, which slowed me down. Also I wrote in 'ALO instead of OLA :( (6D: Portuguese greeting). Had trouble getting into the SW because I knew the powerful object in "The Hobbit" was a RING ... but the GOLD part wasn't as intuitive. The thing that really killed me, though, is that I came at the revealer weird, from the back end, so I was certain that the revealer clue [What may be created...] was looking for some kind of TART. Somehow the asterisked answers were going to be the ingredients of a TART. And since noooothing in the revealer clue was specific to ABSTRACT ART, *and* since I had TEARTAPE as TEARLINE ... things got ugly down there in TREO land (I mean, TREO, come on (58A: Old Palm smartphone) ... the fill in this thing... Last time I saw TREO in a grid, the NAVI were in theaters.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Re: 60A: The adjectival phrase "Low-I.Q." is a Trumpism. Also, I.Q. is an outmoded, widely criticized concept. It's used in race science, racistly. DIM is a simple adjective with lots and lots and lots of potential clues. First the racist slur, then the Putin quote, and now this favorite term of the president* ... editing has taken a weird, bitter turn this year.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mmorgan 12:32 AM  

After getting BLANK CANVAS and BLACK BOX, I was afraid this was going to be some sort of dreadful word ladder. So there was that to be thankful for! And I liked it just fine. Lately many of the things that bother (or hold up) Rex also have the same effect on me, but not this time. I found this smooth and easy and fun.

puzzlehoarder 12:53 AM  

This theme is at least more interesting than yesterday's. It didn't really figure much in the solve though. Most of the theme entries are very common and recognizable on their own. GOLDRING is rather green paint but it was the first one I got. I kept on working off of GADOT once GAL sent me there. Next came the revealer and for a moment I was aware of the theme. I then forgot all about it until back filling 17A, by which time I was almost done.

A minute over average. I had some confusion starting in the NW and had temporary mental blocks on KEATON and CIVIL. It's much more frequent with actor's names than with common words.

Larry Gilstrap 1:33 AM  

First of all, so many threes, but clued with enough aplomb to avoid the Sunday Syndrome. Lots of themed material, so fill suffers as noted.

I don't care, because I love oil obliterating BLANK CANVAS, if it's done right. My tastes are eclectic from ancient frescoes to what my neighbor is currently painting. She paints scapes, but I appreciate ABSTRACT ART. Jack the Dripper comes to mind. I bought a tie at the Guggenheim. Looks great with a grey suit and a crisp white shirt.

B AND B clued as the plural cozy accommodations is some crafty misdirect, right there.

In another life, my friend lived in Las Vegas and when I visited, we used to haunt RED SQUARE, a vodka bar in Mandalay Bay. The bar top was a block of ice. Not sure the bar closing was signaled by the appearance of a miniature Zamboni machine.

I never saw ERIC Burden or Clapton, but I once had breakfast in a Portland hotel sitting near AL ROKER. Those TV people have a look.

Brookboy 1:37 AM  

I thought this was a tough one for a Tuesday. The clues seemed more Wednesday-ish or Thursday-ish to me. But I was able to muddle through eventually, which isn’t always the case for me.

Rex’s focus on the word DIM as clued reminded me of a place I used to work a long time ago (30-some years or so). I was a “consultant” (AKA “temp”) for an IBM-owned subsidiary and among the people who worked there at the time were two managers, one named Ken Bright and the other Bob Dym (so help me). They were on the same level on the org chart, and thusly had meetings with each other from time to time. The hook was that Bob Dym was highly regarded and thought to be, actually, quite bright, while Ken Bright was not so universally admired or respected. (I believe the technical term was “asshole”.) It was the height of merriment in the office when they met, as we would tell each other that Bright was meeting with Dym, but that, in fact, Dym was bright and Bright was dim. I suppose you hadda be there, but it really had us laughing. Yeah, those were more innocent times...

Oh yeah, the puzzle. I liked it, even though it really should have been published on a Wednesday.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  

Theme was not that fun.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

Tore through this thing like nobody’s business until I arrived in the bottom mid section where I had golfED at 67A, didn’t know 62D, wasn’t sure of AIRBUS. Set it down, got another glass of wine, picked it up, saw NESTS, got rid of golfED, slammed in PUTTED. TADA!

Can’t we just let a puzzle be a puzzle and stop searching for something to be offensive?

JOHN X 2:25 AM  

This was a GREAT puzzle.

After I filled in the NENA clue I put on "99 Luftballons" on my iPad and kept going. I ain't in no hurry. When I saw the theme at the very end I had a big ol' grin on my face.


jae 2:28 AM  

Easy, although I again needed to stare a bit to get the theme. Clever and nicely done, liked it.

chris b 2:47 AM  

It's more of a British word, but LOONY is most definitely a noun.


BarbieBarbie 5:54 AM  

A LOONY is what is in a loony bin. Yes, it’s a noun. Easy puzzle. Who’s the abstract artist with the paintings that have that intersecting-lines look to them? Since themers ran both directions I assume we were supposed to think of that.

lizz 6:10 AM  

The grid is indeed crammed, but I enjoyed its overall effect: the lines make a Mondrian-like pattern--i.e., the grid is itself a piece of abstract art, and most of the theme answers are elements in the second artist's work. Clever!

Lewis 6:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:13 AM  

I liked this kooky and unpredictable theme, which differs from most themes, which often generate arguments as to whether they're consistent enough. And this theme inspired me to try to picture the work of art it described. How many themes evoke the imagination?

I also liked that starting with EDNA's N, there's a Boggle-style NUDE to go with the cross of BARE and GAL. Mostly, though, I was charmed by the theme's out-of-the-boxness. That made this puzzle special.

Rainbow 6:40 AM  

Instead of being concerned about which part of speech LOONY is, be concerned about it being a pejorative against the mentally ill. It is just as offensive as beaner and others. I could go on but won't. Just think about it.

Odd Sock 6:41 AM  

There is nothing in this puzzle that interests me. Too many names and not enough word play. This is supposed to be a crossword.
It doesn't help that I regard abstract art as the absence of art.
The only mildly redeeming moment was the ear worm I got when I saw the constructor's name. Not exactly right but close enough for rock and roll.

Up all night with Freddie King
I got to tell you, poker's his thing.

"We're an American Band"
Grand Funk Railroad 1973

'merican in Paris 6:41 AM  

I liked the theme, especially after seeing it wasn't going to be a word ladder. Has anybody tried to paint a CANVASS based on these "paint-by-number" instructions? That would be cool.

Also, I think that @Rex is looking for a slight where there isn't one. Would it seem to be making light of the ART involved in creating a beautiful piece of sculpture if the answers were "chisel", "tap", "drill" and "weld"? These are just possible elements, to which one adds talent and inspiration.

Loony is certainly a noun in the UK (sometimes spelled as "looney"), as in "He's a looooony, followed by a rolling of eyes. Mostly applied to eccentrics, not truly mentally ill people.

The NW was again the hardest for me. I held off filing in 14A, because where I grew up, a mountain that was devoid of vegetation was BALD, not BARE. Also couldn't recall YAO, and had to get that from crosses.

I liked seeing CODEX. This is not a criticism of the word's cluing, but the term is not only used in reference to ancient texts. One of the international agreements that helps both protect consumers and facilitate trade is the CODEX Alimentarius, or "Food Code": a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, based in Rome. Last time I looked, it was printed on paper, not vellum or papyrus.

Note to constructors: DIM is also a popular French brand of undergarments, just in case you might want to clue it that way in the future.

Joe R. 7:01 AM  

I flew through this one, missing my Tuesday best time by 15 seconds. It helped a lot that I knew all of the proper nouns except Navi, and I’m happy I didn’t remember that one because Avatar is such an unbearable piece of garbage that I don’t want to waste brain cells remembering it.

@chris b - I, too, immediately thought of Monty Python when I heard “loony” being used as a noun, but my mind went to the fish license sketch. “You must be a loony.” “I am not a loony! Why should I be tarred with the epithet loony merely because I have a pet halibut? ...”

Jonathan Alexander 7:09 AM  

Not only is GOLDRING green paint, I thought it was the One Ring (one ring to rule them all...). Although maybe in the Hobbit book proper it was only called a gold ring, and it wasn't until later that it was identified as the One Ring".

Felt the top half of the fridge played much slower than the bottom, but still turned in a sub average time. The theme? Meh, I could take or leave it this time.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

TREO? Are you kidding me? No. Never. I’m so ticked off about that answer I have no words to describe it.

AAAAAUGH!, as Charlie Brown would say. There have been a lot of ridiculous words in the Times puzzle over the years, and I generally say OK and move on. SKYEY, GESSO, at least those are real words. TREO is a nothing – a brand name from a decade a go that no one knew then and they sure don’t know now (according to a very scientific sampling of three friends).

I don’t see an easy fix for that section, but hell I’d take TREE/PUTTER/ESSOIN crossing GOT TO/REI/ARN over this garbage. I’m sure a real constructor among you can improve on that.

Z 7:20 AM  

What a narrow view of ABSTRACT ART. I read the constructor’s notes over at xwordinfo.com, I see a specific piece inspired him. That helps, but this is crossword aesthetics. All beer is either ale or IPAs, all music is performed by Yoko Ono and Brian Eno, and all desserts are Oreos. Nothing complicated or nuanced need appear.

@chefwen - It’s not that anyone is looking to be offended. It is that these words are offensive, are used today in order to degrade.

Z 7:29 AM  

@Jonathon Alexander -
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

I don’t recall it ever being described as “gold” but it may have been.

Suzie Q 7:35 AM  

If you cannot make your puzzle work without BOTH Eno and Ono then perhaps it deserves more time at the drawing board.
Who is Doug Jones and why should I care where he lives?
I seem to remember one of our commenters describing how Will had rejected a submission because of a brand name or two. If that is a
no-no how did Treo and Tide make it? Just look at all of these proper names. No fun at all.
I suppose if your taste runs more towards Rembrandt than Rothko then this falls a little flat.
Gee, I sound grumpy.

Amy Yanni 7:40 AM  

Mr 'merican and Lewis, I had the same thought, with no disrespect to abstract art. A nifty solve, as I knew the names today. The theme is clever and fresh. Good way to get Tuesday started.

Nikki Karam 7:43 AM  

Set a personal record time (7:57) and mostly enjoyed this one— but great point re: DIM. That one felt icky to me and you’ve articulated why.

OffTheGrid 7:46 AM  

@Joe, I was lucky to avoid Avatar. The previews on TV looked awful. Another awful move that many were gaga over was Birdman. What a pathetic and cliched piece of work. I would have left the theater mid movie but I was with friends so stayed and endured. (awards do not ensure a good film)

Jeremy Keeshin 7:56 AM  

I enjoyed the theme on this one. I got stuck a bit at BANDB, BOBCAT, ARARAT. I didn’t know NENA, NAVI, EDNA, ENO, but was able to get those through crosses. Seems those were a lot of crosswordese I was not yet familiar with

Hungry Mother 8:00 AM  

The BOBCAT is the only wild cat that I’ve seen in the wild and not on safari. I was running on a greenway in Naples, FL when I saw the cat’s face in the woods staring at me. It unnerved me a bit until I realized that I’m not the right size for its prey. Easy puzzle, but I used a lot of downs during the solve. The colors helped a bit, but the reveal was a surprise.

BobL 8:09 AM  

I liked it a lot. I took no offense. I have no nits. You need not know my time.

Crimson Devil 8:42 AM  

Suz Q
Doug Jones is Dem (!) senator from Ala, who defeated infamous Roy Moore last year N/W/S Grand Orange’s support for Moore.

Roll Tide (Doh ! ) 8:54 AM  

Suzie Q: Doug Jones is the lame duck Senator from Alabama who will lose his seat in two years after defeating rapist/pedophile Roy Moore in a special election to replace then Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions in the Senate.

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

At least there's no ANO....there's that.
A sort of clever puzzle that totally lacked any oomph. I did like that Freddie started off with a BLANK CANVAS and so you could let your imagination run any which way.
I studied art history and when we got to ABSTRACT ART, I became interested. Studying Velazquez for an entire semester makes you loony until you come upon a beautiful Kandinsky. Unfortunately, Mondrian comes along with his boring geometry. Your art professor spends endless hours explaining why geometric boxes filled with red and white paint are worth millions of dollars to a person with a discerning eye. Thank you France for Impressionism.
I always like to see Dame EDNA Everage popping up. "did you get a gladdy?" I wondered who Doug Jones was and why I should care that he's from ALA. AL ROKER lost me a long time ago when he proudly mentioned to millions of viewers that he pooped his pants at the White House. I think it was during the Clinton administration. Wish KEATON had been clued as Buster.
That I.Q. thing at least got a snide smile from me. I've taken some of those I.Q. tests online and they're a hoot. Seriously. As my score crept up in the 200 range I kept thinking to myself that any minute someone would pop in and tell me a Nigerian Prince was waiting for me with millions in a bank that he'd like to share.
Sorry for the ENNUI.

Wm. C. 9:04 AM  

LOONIE is a noun. Just look at the reverse side of a Canadian dollar coin. ;-)

A bit challenging for a Tuesday for me, esp center top and bottom ... That's good!

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Funny how one solver's wheelhouse is another's brig. I breezed through this one in no time; seemed easier than most Monday's to me. Lots of "puzzling" stuff about crosswords!

Missy 9:16 AM  

A comment on the editing - detergent 24A and detergents at 38A! The constructor deserves better. And so do we solvers!

crabsofsteel 9:19 AM  

I seem to take pleasure in puzzles Rex dislikes, which seems to be most of them! Nice, easy solve.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

New record for a Tuesday (2:51)! And it could have been a few ticks better. 0:29 faster than Rex yesterday; 0:59 faster today. That would have been a great resolution for the new year!

This one fell into my wheelhouse, and there were only very minor stumbles (couldn't suss out BARE or DIRT on the first pass; aLo for OLA). I actually used a Palm Treo for a very brief period; switched to BlackBerry and that was a good thing.

I'll take the awesome start to the week!

Sherlock 9:29 AM  

I read this blog every day, and am always puzzled when the blog entry reads: "this comment has been deleted by the author".
Why? What happened that changed the author's mind? Was there a change of heart? Was the author shamed by some subsequent commenter and just wanted to disappear the comment? Did they just realize that they had used some word out of context?
The old quote from somewhere says: "Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity". That may be true, but one thing that does come back is the comment that has been deleted by the author.

Wm. C. 9:31 AM  

@Hungry8:00 --

Funny that you saw the bobcat in Naples. I live in Bonita Bay just a couple miles north of you, and saw a bobcat strolling down the golf cart path just outside my condo. I knew it was a bobcat because of its bobtail.

I thought of you (and my former roommate Steve Schroeder) yesterday when I parked behind a car with a sticker from Lewes, DE.

Oh no, not ONO! 9:33 AM  

Yoko ONO is a performance artist. She may dabble in music as part of her art, but she is not "musical." If you've ever heard her music and wondered, "what the ---?" you just need to remember that it is performance art...NOT music per se. It's more music along the lines of John Cage (who taught at the University of Cincinnati, home to one of the premiere music conservatories in the country, in the philosophy department).

Speaking of Low-IQ, tonight's nationally televised spoiled orange brat rant will be exhibit A in what constitutes low IQ. IQ is an old timey way to quantify intelligence and has been debunked and shown to be just a number to make people feel good about themselves (either by stroking their ego or pointing to some other person as less of a person as they). It's a favorite amongst the narcissistic set. Which is why our eugenics supporting Orang loves it. But the irony is that, for however useless that number is, he is the very example of Low-IQ by his own DIM definition.

My prediction for tonight: 4 hours of stream of consciousness rambling. Is he doing it unironically....or is it performance art?

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

@Rainbow 6:40
But they're LOONy, they don't know it's pejorative.

And please everybody, stop with all this pejorative nonsense. Please.

La Moda 9:38 AM  

My dear friends, you are a mighty tough audience. My only problem was Elisa. And “kook” was a very common word in the 50s and 60s to denigrate someone politically.

Sir Hillary 9:45 AM  

Yeah, this one works OK. I'll take seven theme answers any day, and the fill is much less compromised than it was yesterday.

BOBCAT is just a cool-sounding word.

The bottom row aptly sums up the college admissions experience -- my kids always felt like they were TEN ESSAYS DEEP.

Surprised at all the vitriol for TREO.

I liked @Rex's suggestion of BLUESTREAK as another themer. His upset at the DIM clue -- not so much. Sorry, but two Twitterati complaints aren't convincing me. And if we assume anything used offensively by Trump(ists) is off limits, we may as well ban the whole English language. I think this is residual anger from last Tuesday's Mexican slur.

Cassieopia 9:49 AM  

Great theme: https://www.piet-mondrian.org/composition-with-large-red-plane-yellow-black-gray-and-blue.jsp Less than thrilling fill, but still under my Tuesday average so "easy" in my book.

I struggle to understand most abstract art; the best pieces I've seen are by my niece or my daughter's friends, and they get no recognition nor love. But somehow their splotches of paint and angular shapes strike a chord within me, whereas Mondrian leaves me stone cold. What we humans value monetarily - squares on a canvas, sparkly rocks - will never cease to amaze me.

CDilly52 9:51 AM  

HAHA! Your Bright and Dym story reminds me of a professor I had ithree times in law school for contracts, consumer law and commercial paper. Every exam he wrote the questions about Mr. Sellers the buyer and Mr. Byars the seller.

Roo Monster 9:52 AM  

Hey All !
I've said it before, I'll say it again, Every Puz Has Dreck and/or -ese. The fill is fill, it's not going to be solid GOLD. You fill the puz with whatever works as real things. You end up with -ese/dreck. I see Rex's argument that if you have less themers, the fill will get better. But will it? We've seen less themers still with lots of-ese/dreck.

Thus puz was great! Not only as a fan of lots-of-themers-crammed-in puzs, but the fill IMO didn't suffer as much as it seems to some. All real things. To be @Lorens voice for a bit (I could NEVER replace her) imagine what Freddie had to do for this theme. Come up with 5 answers that included both a color and a shape, make sure they were in-the-language and not something like ORANGE BALL, plus put in the starting BLANK CANVAS, And the Revealer ABSTRACT ART in the first and last themer spots, Then fill the grid cleanly. Wow. Bravo Freddie!

To the TREO haters, how about TREE, making 55D GETTA, clued as the tagline for that VW commercial, Betta ___ Jetta. DEEP, eh?

Great puz, Freddie. Don't let the bastards get you down. ��


CDilly52 10:04 AM  

@Anonymous 9:08 AMEN on the brig/wheelhouse comment. Excellent metaphors. Oddly, (really oddly as I rarely share OFL’s experience) I am on his wavelength today. I love clever clues and this one left me cold. Wasn’t difficult but it didn’t gobsmack me with its cleverness anywhere, either. I did enjoy the theme (got it today!!) and got out my colored pencils and drew three little ABSTRACT ART pieces based on the themers. That was fun! Was really stuck on what kind of TART I was going to put in so that did slow me down a tad. About normal Tuesday but the solving experience wasn’t nearly as fun as my post-solve art projects. Puts the solve over all in the enjoyable category despite all the boring crosswordese.

QuasiMojo 10:12 AM  

My reaction to this curious puzzle was the same as my reaction to abstract art. Stunned silence.

Nancy 10:24 AM  

Let's have a painting contest, everyone. Comprised of the real artists, the not-especially talented "I've always wanted to paint but never got the chance" people, and the people who think they can't draw a straight line. We'll all take a BLANK CANVAS, and somewhere upon it, we'll paint a BLACK BOX, a TAN LINE and a GOLD RING. The rest will consist of GRAY AREAS. Will we get any ABSTRACT ART? Will we get any ART at all? ART is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right?

I solved this as a themeless, thinking like others that it would be some sort of boring word progression. But I smiled broadly when I got the revealer and then envisioned the painting. I just love a crossword with a sense of humor.

I even forgive the constructor the Hobbit, Force Awakens, Avatar, Batman and Luftballons pop culture stuff. I always hate these clues, they always stymie me, but the droll qualities of the rest of the puzzle made up for it. Plus it was crunchy for a Tuesday. Very enjoyable.

Z 10:50 AM  

@Sherlock - When I’ve deleted one of my comments it has usually been to correct a glaring typo that changed my intended meaning. Once or twice I’ve reconsidered what I’ve said, but never in response to a complaint. Minor typos that don’t really change what I meant I usually leave alone. I also now check the “remove comment entirely” box so the little “removed by author” placeholder is gone, too.

pmdm 10:59 AM  

Most would agree that a work of fine art (be it music, painting, literature, or whatever) should communicate some quality that edifies the person in response to the work. (Is thaqt true of crosswrdr puzzles also?). The response can be very objective. Most who respond positively to classical music love Bach, but my parents did not because they thought his music was too mechanical. Likewise, some respond to a painting consisting solely of geometric objects of single colors rather coldly. It is as fitting for them to express derision at such artwork as those here express their derision at crossword puzzles they dislike.

Another thing: what by inference annoys chefwan I also find quite annoying. I would hope the answer to the question is yes.

Monday and Tuesday puzzles are meant to give positive reinforcement to new solvers. One way of doing that is to frequently repeat certain entries that seasoned solvers hate, likeENO or ONO or OREO. While I agree those entries should be banished from Wednesday onwards, I disagree with those complaining about such entries in today's puzzle. A Tuesday puzzle should, perhpas by definition, irritate experienced solvers. While it is possible to create an easy puzzle without such entries, I am unbothered when they rear their ugly heads early in the week.

Nancy 11:02 AM  

OMG, I"m so sorry! I forgot RED SQUARE. Our paintings don't have a prayer of landing in the Met without one. And it will certainly add some badly needed color to all that black, tan and gray. Hope I haven't thrown you off your game, painters!

Leslie 11:40 AM  

@pmdm Thank you for your comment about ONO, ENO and OREO. I was wasting all sorts of good irritation on seeing them in the puzzle today, but your explanation was right on.

Carola 11:45 AM  

I really liked this puzzle's approach to the grid as a BLANK CANVAS. While we've occasionally been given a shape to draw, connecting circles or certain letters, I don't recall having been given the elements or the ART work. So I liked this more ABSTRACT approach to grid art. Add to that the nice wordplay of the theme answers and (as others have said) their Mondrian-like placement - I thought it was both playful and DEEP.

Speaking of DEEP, given the swimming-pool-related clue, I liked how it was at the end of the puzzle. Also liked the seashore-related TANLINE x TIDELINE.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Kind of easy, but still fun. Thanks very much, Mr. Chen, for the enjoyable experience.

Mike Rees 11:55 AM  

This must have fallen right in my wheelhouse, because I nearly made my best-ever Tuesday time.

I really thought, after seeing GOLD RING, this one needed a GREEN PAINT answer somewhere! (Casual H/T to OFL)

Masked and Anonymous 12:11 PM  

M&A just had one of his paintins hung, temporarily, in a local art museum. PuzEatinSpouse took it in, for a special "local guest artist" exhibition. It ain't real modern, as art goes; has Donald Duck in it.

I could just tell off the bat that this TuesPuz was gonna have some 'tude. 1-Across clue had a ? at the end.
Suits m&e. Bring it. TREO? … Why the OLA not. Almost everything is fair game, in a puz with 'tude. 7 themers, too boot. har. Great stuff.

GOLDRING is also a 5th day of Christmas dealie, if U ain't got the Hobbit habit. Luved GRAYAREAS the most, tho. Most of M&A's artworks have some gray areas, that onlookers tend to ask about. M&A's 2 fave replies: "artistic license" & "no refunds".

staff weeject pick: OLA. It just says "Welcome to Xword Weeject Hello". And thUmbswayUp for them *quad* weeject stacks, in the NE & SW. Lil master pieces.

Thanx for yer artful xword work, Mr. Cheng.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

@r.alph's modest art comment - "hmmer":

Hartley70 12:14 PM  

Bobcats have invaded our little town this year and they are hefty predators, more than a match for a Beagle being walked on a leash in the dark by a Rexite.

This theme felt fresh and delighted me, like a quick trip into MOMA to get out of the rain today.

I’ve never heard of NENA or her song and GAL GADOT has an interesting name but that’s all I can say. They are the ELSTON HOWARD and PAT RILEY of yesterday. That’s unfair. I have heard the name Pat Riley spoken before. I wish them all the best of fortune and they may well have large ones already.

Anoa Bob 12:18 PM  

I GOTTA say that ABSTRACT ART usually reminds me of Andy Warhol's dictum that ART is what you can get away with.

Yes! "Path of the tip of a ____", here "pendulum", or "Path traced by a ___", or some such, should be the go to clue format every time for ARC (11A). You could use "second hand", "baseball bat swing", "golf club swing", etc.

Maybe you could take the path of a golf club swing, pour some Picasso sauce all over it, and TADA, you'd have ABSTRACT ART.

Nigel Spandex 12:35 PM  

Please retire any clue referring to Yoko Ono as " musical"! I can accept "Performance artist", but that's about it.

Colby 1:03 PM  

While DIM was an incredibly insensitive answer, and while IQ has been used as a means towards a troublingly eugenic end (see James Watson or read The Bell Curve), it still remains the most valid and reliable indicator of intellectual ability in the United States (in reference to Rex's comment that it is outmoded).

As a psychologist who works with children with developmental disabilities, IQ tests, when taken with context, are valuable diagnostic tools.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

My Dad was an (amateur) artist - my house is filled with artwork. I think only one would be considered abstract. Following @Cassieopia's link to Mondrian pieces, I hated the squares, loved the GRAY TRE[e]O. So call me an ABSTRACT ART philistine, but I know what I like :-).

I thought the theme was clever. My co-worker, after solving, needed a theme explanation and then decreed it "horrible". So crosswords, like abstract art, will have folks OPINE on them from totally different viewpoints.

I was expecting Marie CLAIRE to be the word of the day. Totally unbeknownst to me but Wikipedia shows it was first published in France in the 1930s.

Thanks, Freddie Cheng, I like your imagination.

Nancy 1:16 PM  

When even @Hartley hasn't heard of GAL GADOT or NENA, what hope is there for me? @Hartley is terrific at pop culture, even if sports figures both past and present elude her entirely. Is that a BOBCAT you're now featuring in your avatar, @Hartley???? On your property, even????? Good grief!!!! Please be very, very careful, for the sake of both you and Rubin! (Or is it Reuben, I never can remember.)

Amen to all those who said that ONO isn't "musical". Like chalk on a blackboard is how I'd describe her.

Chris Ott 1:18 PM  

GOLDRING??? No such thing is mentioned in The Hobbit! There is mention of 'a' ring, 'the' ring, the 'magic' ring, and 'his' ring. Giving the 'G' for GADOT I immediately attempted 'GLAMDRING' (Gandalf's sword found in the troll's cave and identified by Elrond.) but came a letter short. The color of the ring is noted only in the Lord of the Rings, not in The Hobbit. Of course, if I wasn't such a comic and fantasy geek I would have let this trip me up, but if you are going to excite the Tolkien fans with a clue, please make it a clue worth solving. And not ENT or ORC. Bleah.

Banana Diaquiri 1:18 PM  

re: DIM

here's a story in today's NYT (dead trees version) - https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/science/chess-artificial-intelligence.html

turns out that 'intelligence' is mechanical, not intuitive. mostly. IQ tests do differentiate levels of *education* in the test's language. this is worth knowing; whether it's worth choosing among folks for status in life is another question.

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Ay, here's the rub, for a feisty TuesPuz:

(Us) long-time veteran feisty xword griderati solvers are of two minds, about moo-cow easy vs. juiced-up front-of-yer-week NYTPuzs:

* Mind 1: We like those suckers as hard as the Shortzmeister can crank up the steam pressure on em. Trickier than snot themes and clues? More, please. Don't just punt & bore our pants off, on every day-um Monday/Tuesday, or we'll stop botherin with em. If beginner puzsolvers have a problem with feist, they can work on one of them 11x11 2-themer semi-runt puzzles from the local newspaper, until they get their nerve back. And if U can't abide an occasional ahar-moment, stick to yard-jarts. snort

* Mind 2: We are shocked -- shocked, I say -- when beginner puzsolvers are subjected to weird-o-saurus names and worn-out crypto-xwordese. How can U in good conscience inflict this raised-by-wolves content on those poor, innocent, undeveloped brain pans. They'll head for the hills of jumble sudoku, and never come back for another floggin. Early week puzs have to give puznaifs a fightin chance, so they can slowly, deliberately, develop their solvequest skills, and have a sense of accomplishment. Build that solver base. snort.

M&A mindset: Some of each. Just keep surprisin us, each week. And keep yer U-counts up.

M&A Ope-Ed Section

VictorS 2:08 PM  

Arthur to the black knight “you’re a loony”

Reblog 2:35 PM  

Have you ever realized that, with a little spacing, your url can also read "re: xword puzzle"?

pabloinnh 2:43 PM  

Re: "loony"-made me think of various Python usages too, which is always a good thing. Also the Canadian $1 coin (why don't we have $1 coins?) but since no one else has mentioned it, I think it's also fun that the $2 Canadian coin is generally referred to as a "twony" (2nie? toonie?). Never saw a written version, but everyone says it.

Vonnegut's take on abstract expressionist art was that it is only about itself. Amen.

Liked the puzzle just fine, even if I greatly prefer Velazquez (hi GILL I.).

Hoser 3:35 PM  

Pablo: Loonie and Toonie.

Teedmn 4:03 PM  

@M&A, love the M&Analysis!

pabloinnh 4:28 PM  

Hoser: Thanks a lot there, eh?

GILL I. 4:39 PM  

@M&A...Terrific post - even if I had to read you twice. I think I like Mind 1.
My grandmother got me started on puzzles by buying me one of those kiddie type books. She did it mainly to get me interested in English (which I hated). I got hooked; fell in love with language and the rest is a boring story....
My biggest accomplishment was, while sitting under a tree in Central Park and with pencil in mouth, tackling (inch by inch) the NYT Sunday puzzle. It sometimes took 3 to 4 days to finish but when I did, I felt like ( and probably looked like) Einstein.
Monday was a feel good tackle but I always felt it was dumbed down. If you've gotten good enough to finish the tabloid puzzles, then move on to something primo. Absolutely agree with you that trickier than snot themes can do no harm. I think it just might bring on more first time NYT solvers. OREO and ANO be damned.!

Hoser 4:40 PM  


Cassieopia 4:51 PM  

The M&A Ope-Ed Section (1:44) just made my week.

Rob 4:57 PM  

Puzzle was fine, but kind of a lousy clue for GOLD RING. The only ring most people know about from Tolkien is the One Ring. Yes, I know, Sauron gave rings to all the races of man. Or whatever. Don't @ me. GOLD RING is too general to be clued that way. Presumably this is a Shortz-ism, not a constructor issue, for either setting or changing to this clue.

Joe Bleaux 4:57 PM  

Is anyone else having (since the beginning of 2019) problems posting a comment (specifically, having to log in on the website EVERY SINGLE DAY and jump through a series of “not a robot” hoops)?

Eben 4:58 PM  

My fastest Tuesday ever!

GOLDRING hung me up the most (it's the 'one' ring in my book), but overall I sailed through.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

@pabloinnh, we have both $1 coins and $2 bills. They're just not very popular so they don't stay in circulation much.

Monty Boy 6:22 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I'm in the camp that is puzzled (?) when Rex calls it Medium/Challenging and I breeze through with way below average times. The wheel house thing notes earlier.

As a Montana State alum, I was pleased to see the BOBCAT in the puzzle.

About the detergent comments: If you didn't see the Alabama-Clemson game last night, there was a Crimsen Tide fan with a hat composed of a cut up Tide box with a toilet paper unit on each side. You may have heard fans yelling, "Roll, Tide, Roll." The outcome would indicate the Tide didn't.

And last: My daughter painted a barn for a middle school art class. She despaired because it didn't look exactly like a barn. I told her art (in this case a painting) doesn't have to look like a photo of the object. If all art had to look like a photo, we wouldn't have "Starry Night" and all the awe it inspires for the night sky. Her barn still hangs on a wall in our house.

phil phil 6:44 PM  

IQ has become a term in itself but if you use the periods I.Q. Shouldn’t the answer be an abbreviation?

Hi QT 6:47 PM  

@Banana, I'm interested in what you said but not sure what you mean by: turns out that 'intelligence' is mechanical, not intuitive. mostly. IQ tests do differentiate levels of *education* in the test's language. this is worth knowing; whether it's worth choosing among folks for status in life is another question.

I read the article. If you say that intelligence is mechanical v. intuitive, then individual intelligence would be strictly limited by the capacity to take in, process, and recall as large amount of data as possible. But in strictly human terms, some of the processing decisions would have to involve intuition. So a certain kind of intelligence would be measurable by a test that made those demands, even if not the existing tests. Yes? No?

Banana Diaquiri 8:16 PM  

@Hi QT:

the point of the reporting is that alphaZero manages to 'intuit' chess strategy beyond what any other computer or human has ever managed. the original Blue Gene machine won through brute force, while alphaZero does its magic with an order of magnitude fewer computations. the machine does its magic mechanically, since that's all it can do. there is no assertion that it's sentient. one hopes that it isn't. when that happens, it will change its name to HAL 9000.

if a machine can be 'intelligent' enough to figure out chess, from scratch, then may be 'intelligence' is not wholly the domain of the human brain. scary stuff, fur shur.

Banana Diaquiri 8:27 PM  

ok. senior moment. the earlier machine was Deep Blue, not Blue Gene. easy to confuse. this is Blue Gene: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Blue_Gene

QT 10:41 PM  

@Banana, they should've named it Blue Gene.

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

I had "BLANG CANVAS" until I realized Will Shortz couldn't be THAT oblivious to racist words. JK.

cordwainer 2:29 AM  

To be fair, The Hobbit does at least mention the ring being gold, albeit only once. It's shortly after Gollum is unable to guess what Bilbo has in his pockets:

"Not far away was his island, of which Bilbo knew nothing, and there in his hiding-place he kept a
few wretched oddments, and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a
golden ring, a precious ring."

That said, the answer is still lame, heh.

thefogman 10:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:29 AM  

I liked this one a lot. In my opinion, this was one of the finest Tuesday puzzles in quite some time. So bravo to Freddie Cheng!

Burma Shave 10:30 AM  


about CLAIRE to OPINE,
that GAL has such good TASTE


rondo 11:49 AM  

OLA ALA ENO ONO YAO TAO, AAA fill there. But let’s stay CIVIL about the plethora of threes. If I were to try to construct a puz I’d have to lean on them, too. OFL’s comments deserve more IRE when he has to go waaaay out of his way to go APE over DIM. I GOTTA feeling that Amy Klobuchar is too far right for him.

I hope to never be on an airplane where the BLACKBOX becomes an ‘important part’.

I read a novel by Doug Preston called The CODEX. Not to my TASTE.

Yoko ONO isn’t all that musical.

Yeah baby GAL GADOT might rate a TEN.

I have nothing further on which to OPINE.

spacecraft 12:06 PM  

Feisty indeed, for a Tuesday. I call it medium-challenging too. (Of course, the @wich at 7-down didn't help; my brain always resists them.)

I'm not quite clear on the theme concept; starting with a BLANKCANVAS is perfect and fits the revealer clue which mentions "the answers," NOT "the starts of the answers." But then BLACKBOX? Unless it was a specific painting that included such a shape. Same with the others. The whole thing just doesn't hang together that well, and it adds to the difficulty. We have no way of knowing what images might be included in this particular piece.

I am further dismayed at the offense-taking over DIM. Geez, you can't even call a spade a spade any more; it's--well, you know.

DOD, with the complete name appearing, is GAL GADOT. Honorable mention to the original: Lynda Carter, whose image survives in Wonder Woman slot machines--along with that catchy theme song.

Fill is predictably rough, but could've been a lot worse. Par.

thefogman 12:52 PM  

What did Paul, George and Ringo say when John told them about his new girlfriend?


leftcoastTAM 3:14 PM  

A quirky, fun puzzle evoking possible images of ABSTRACT ART that an imaginative painter might do something with. Many possibilities, even given just a few simple elements.

Middle North slowed the pace here. BANDB needed parsing that took a bit of extra time to see. BAND B? Oh, B AND B! Duh. Crossed with Cougar before BOBCAT.

GAL GADOT adds a lot of flair, a real work of art.

Enjoyed it.

rainforest 3:41 PM  

Well, I liked this puzzle, and I think that all that was missing was "green paint". Now that would really make an abstract painting.

Some things that popped into my head, and I'm not being KOI.

I think my entire wardrobe is RETRO, unintentionally.

From Monty Python I've learned that "loony" is a noun; descriptive in a humourous sense and rarely pejorative.

Themes are a matter of TASTE.

You should see my resume - it's TEN ESSAYS DEEP.

Diana, LIW 4:34 PM  

Not so ABSTRACT that I wasn't able to complete it, so anything I get is "easy for me. I really must get a "book of crossword plot summaries" to rad up on Potter, Hobbit, et. al.

So here's a puzzle from WS's Sunday Puz on NPR a few weeks ago. How do you make a word that means "left" using a "B" and one "D""?

Oh - y'all get it right away.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting and Waiting

spacecraft 6:18 PM  

Old Pa. Dutch saying: "The hurrieder I go the behinder I get."

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