WEDNESDAY, May 21, 2008 - Dave Mackey (BAND WITH THE 1987 SINGLE "DEAR GOD")

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Make-up - five theme answers feature cosmetics-related words used in non-cosmetics-related context

First, BLUSH and ROUGE are the same thing. I repeat - same thing. Further - same thing.

Second, OAK TAG (66A: Poster stock)??? I think you have to troll A.C. Moore or Michael's or some other artsy craftsy store a lot to know WTF this is. I'm surprised this passed the sniff test. I see that it's been used in at least two puzzles in recent years. That does not mean it should ever be used again.

Third, TAG is in the clue for AS IS (40D: Tag sale proviso)

Third, this puzzle needed a [6-letter word] SHADOW answer. Weird to have 2 words begin with makeup words and then three words end with it. ROUGE would have been easy in the same amount of space: MOULIN ROUGE. SHADOW ... a lot tougher.

So despite an impressive number of theme squares, this puzzle felt really rough to me. I have to say, however, that I am very sympathetic to the roughness. The difficulty level for filling a puzzle rises exponentially when you have so many long theme answers. Some day I will illustrate this by showing you two different grids I did for a puzzle - one with four long theme answers and a short central fifth, the other (same theme, basically) with five long theme answers. I am partial to the latter, as completing it felt like a greater accomplishment, but objectively, the fill in the former is smoother overall.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Solitaire card game (rouge et noir) - I didn't know this. I know this phrase from the Stendhal novel, and possibly from roulette.
  • 24A: Pugs in gyms, at times (shadow boxers) - "Pugs" is one of my least favorite slang terms. Pugs are dogs. Pugilists are boxers.
  • 37A: Good thing to build on (solid foundation)
  • 50A: Initially (at first blush)
  • 59A: Cunard fleet member (luxury liner) - no idea what "Cunard fleet" is. I'm just out of sync with this puzzle today. Completely.

I had one mistake in this puzzle, which was kind of funny. Without even blinking I put in ARCH for 68A: Kind of support. This gave me UAR for 60D: Mideast federation: Abbr. - which, by the way, is not wrong. UAR is reasonably common crossword fill. So I was irked at the stupid answer ARMLEA for 47D: Decorative band. "It's a meadow ... for your arm!" Not sure what finally clued me in, but I fixed it before I went desperately looking for ARMLEAs on the internets.


  • 19A: Sapphic work (ode) - You're never going to get to use her to clue LESBIAN, so why not bring her out for ODE. You could get LESBOS into a puzzle, though, I'm pretty sure (cruciverb says 'yes'). Maybe I'll try that.
  • 28A: Forcefully, in music (furioso) - shouldn't there be a rule about how many times you can go to musical score terminology in one puzzle? We already have LENTO (7D: Slowly, on a score). FURIOSO could have been clued via Ariosto's 16th-century epic "Orlando FURIOSO."
  • 44A: Gentle opening? (soft G) - I am soooo on the lookout for this kind of crap that I didn't hesitate for one second here.
  • 45D: Quebec's southern neighbors (états) - I thought they were called "les ETATS Unis."
  • 53A: 1983 Keaton comedy ("Mr. Mom") - Mmm, Teri Garr. The Laura Linney of my youth.
  • 58A: Word repeated in the "Whiffenpoof Song" refrain (baa) - no idea. Again, this puzzle and I are from different planets. Again, I have to ask, why is a puzzler required to know so damned much about Yale? It's kind of sickening.
  • 12D: Good Samaritan (aider) - I kill words like this. Maybe I'd get more grids done if I let in words that hurt my ears. I would let in AIDER if it got me, say, KATZENJAMMER crossing ELVGREN. Otherwise, no.
  • 28D: Something to kick up (fuss) - I know this is picky, but you kick up "A" FUSS. Just reads wrong without the indefinite article.
  • 35D: Off-Broadway's "_____ Baltimore" (Hot L) - total, complete, utter crutch word. Again, notice how provincial the puzzle is. It is completely regionally self-indulgent. HOT L is the new new RELO.
  • 36D: "A Loss of Roses" playwright (Inge) - I see "playwright" in four letters and it's AGEE or INGE. I like the idea that millions of people know these guys' names from crosswords, and yet hardly any of said people could name more than one play by either. INGE and AGEE and ODETS will live forever on the strength of their particular vowel/consonant configurations. At least I can name a play by Odets ("Waiting for Lefty"). I had a teacher once who looked eerily like Clifford ODETS.
  • 48D: Astigmatic's view (blur) - I forget if the thing I have is an astigmatism or some other anomaly. I just know that one of my lenses is TORIC! (awesome crossword word)
  • 61D: Band with the 1987 single "Dear God" (XTC) - the one part of this puzzle that hits me where I live. This song is off the album "Skylarking," which is one of the most important albums of my life - on my personal Top Ten list, easy. "Dear God" is about the least interesting thing on it (too caught up in juvenile cynicism), despite being the only song on the album that anyone's likely to know. I love that the puzzle included "Dear God," however, because I'm pretty sure it would not pass the breakfast test for some readers (unless you like a wholesale denunciation of God with your cereal). Ready? 1-2-3 ... Culture War! (just kidding):

Dear god,
Hope you got the letter,
And I pray you can make it better down here.
I don't mean a big reduction in the price of beer,
But all the people that you made in your image,
See them starving on their feet,
cause they dont get enough to eat

From god,
I can't believe in you.

Dear god,
Sorry to disturb you,
But I feel that I should be heard loud and clear.
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears,
And all the people that you made in your image,
See them fighting in the street,
cause they cant make opinions meet,
About god,
I can't believe in you.

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the devil too!

Dear god,
Don't know if you noticed,
But your name is on a lot of quotes in this book.
Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look,
And all the people that you made in your image,
Still believing that junk is true.
Well I know it ain't and so do you,
Dear god,
I can't believe in,
I don't believe in,

I won't believe in heaven and hell.
No saints, no sinners,
No devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
Youre always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found,
And its the same the whole world round.
The hurt I see helps to compound,
That the father, son and holy ghost,
Is just somebodys unholy hoax,
And if youre up there youll perceive,
That my heart's here upon my sleeve.
If there's one thing I don't believe in...

Its you,
Dear god.
Did I mention that a child sings the opening part? It's a nice touch.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:46 AM  

For some reason, i get more perfect puzzles on Wednesday than any other day.

i was right on your wavelength today though, down to UAR, and having to Google ARMLEA without success. Took me several looks to figure out the theme, given the front to back movement.

Cunard is a cruise line. Cruise ship season has returned to Victoria.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Neat theme today -- and I'd been thinking of something a bit related to this for a puzzle, so it kept me interested to see where it would go as soon as I found ROUGE starting the 17A answer. Then I added ET NOIR because it fit and seemed card-related, but was unsettled because I thought that was a casino game rather than a form of solitaire?

Persistence paid off, though there were other hitches along the way: I'd never heard of 65A OAKTAG, for example, and the crossing of 35D HOTL with SOFT G was tricky. Ditto the two foreign words crossing at 45A and 46D, ETATS and TIO -- I knew both, but think that should be a no-no. And I didn't know the 1972 song at 32A crossing the 29D Olympics org clue, so I ended up with an inane "Uneme" instead of USE ME... should have gone back for a last look at the end!

Loved 28A FURIOSO, though the more common LENTO showed up too, and 59A LUXURY LINER -- I like saying those! Actually, the LIP at 64A and cluster in the SW of BRUSH, BRISTLE and BLUR around 49D RUNYON all ENRICH the theme, as would RUN if clued as "make-up problem" instead of "bank worry"!

WIG (out) at 4D was amusing too, with NITWIT... Weak cluing cropped up in minor spots maybe (SAD, ORGS), and I stared a while at 26A "house ___" where WREN crossed HEN, but the clue at 67A "saucer contents" for ETS was hilarious: one could picture small aliens spilling out of a spacecraft. Overall, a very good Wednesday eye-opener.


Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I fell into the same ARCH trap, but somehow figured out ARMLET and fixed up that sector. This puzzle is not in Rex's demographic. I remember being handed sheets (just one at a time) of OAKTAG in first grade. I think teachers loved calling it that, just as they loved to say "manila" - another paper stock. And the glamorous CUNARD line lurked around New York harbor.

It was a treat to see XTC - I love that album, too.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

OAK TAG has 294,000 hits on Google. If you never needed to buy some for a school project, you're a lucky man.
PUG is an informal, not slang, word for a boxer since the 1850s. Having only words you like is not a requisite for a published puzzle.
To learn words like 'Cunard' and many others it would behoove you to read a newspaper on occasion.
Etats: neighbors indicates etats; neighbor would indicate Les Etats-Unis
The puzzle is 'regionally self-indulgent,' as it has a right to be. It's the NEW YORK Times, after all. Why not try reading it sometime, even online if necessary. You'll become very smart.

Peter Sattler 9:12 AM  

SOFT-G drove me crazy. I could barely see it, even after I filled in the squares. Seems too off-kilter for a Wednesday puzzle.

But mainly, something about this day's grid seemed sloppy. FURIOSO is such a rare musical term (compared to something like CON BRIO -- and seems to mean more than just "forcefully."

ODEs are good. But is Sappho really known any more for her odes than anything else (as opposed to, say, Horace)? The one surviving piece we have from her is a hymn. ODE acts a sloppy catch-all, at times.

Like you, I think that ETATS is marginal at best. Brits and such might call the US "The States," but do French speakers really call us "Les États"?

HAWED and HIE seemed like ugly cousins. (Shouldn't there be an exclamation point if you're going to use the clue, "Step on it"?)

And who ever used the "shorthand" word, N-TESTS? Do we even talk about N-Bombs the way we sometimes say "The A-Bomb"?

Add AAH, BAA, GHI, and HUH, and I end up feeling sort of let down. Oh well...I'm mainly just repeating some of your gripes, Rex.

On the up-side: "Birdbrain"=NITWIT as a certain balance and poetry.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

It was interesting that "poli sci" showed up today -- wasn't there a recent puzzle (and discussion here)
with "poly sci" in the clue or in the puzzle?

Another interesting tidbit about "Dear God" is that it never appeared on the original British release of Skylarking, and it was added to the north american release after it became a hit (being released originally as a b-side to the "Grass" single). More XTC minutia than anyone wanted to know, I'm sure.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

I wanted "SOFTN" for "Gentle opening"; stupidly, in retrospect. As in "Soft 'N' Gentle." Isn't that a hair product?

janie 9:26 AM  

the cunard line has been around for quite a while -- the qe ii and queen mary being two of the ships i readily associate with it. for more, check out:

ahoy there

was amused by the crossing of "showergift" and "shadowboxers" -- because of the similarities of the first parts of the fill -- and the way the second parts sorta complement each other.



Anonymous 9:36 AM  

re. "Etats" issue:
I saw it as "What's neighboring Quebec" rather than "Les Etats"--etats is just French for states.

I hate to agree with anything anonymous 9:10 said, though--dude, it's a *blog*. Rex has every right to state his opinion on the puzzle, and I agree, Hot-L Baltimore is supremely rough for those who don't live in NYC or weren't theatre majors. Lighten up. And if you'd been reading this blog with any regularity, you'd see, indeed, how "very smart" Rex is.

Isn't it awesome how people hide behind that anonymous moniker when they're complaining? You can write in Any Name You Want, Anon.

Unknown 9:43 AM  

There were some nice tricky bits to this one. I, too, fell for the UAR and arch support misdirect, but bracelet and anklet led me to my 'Final Answer". I entered Hard G because the last time we had a '____ opening' that was the answer. Corrected that with the next clue. I would love to see EDDA clued as the Hungarian rock band (25 Gold Records) so I could share some EuroRock from YouTube with you and introduce you to Attila, the lead singer.

Oh, peter sattler, the NTEST, atest and htest trick is common and was even used in an ACPT puzzle this year.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Cunard is THE Cruise line... The QE2, Queen Mary.... hello!

I remember OAKTAG from elementary school, so no problem there. Never heard of house WREN, that's just me. So some you know and others you figure out in crosses. That's the fun of puzzling.

HOTL is totally legit, imo. Show title, and TV show made it national.

Yes, john in nc, i had the same reaction re. POLI-sci and POLY sci

RE. ETATS: Quebec is a province, i.e. a division. So states, being US divisions, qualify as southern neigbors. And the usage of Quebec signals that the answer is a french word.

and to genevieve 9:36 am: some of us actaully are NYT constructors and don't wish to reveal our name. As if "genevieve" is somehow more revealing. You're still an unknown person to me.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Cunard is THE Cruise line... The QE2, Queen Mary.... hello!

I remember OAKTAG from elementary school, so no problem there. Never heard of house WREN, that's just me. So some you know and others you figure out in crosses. That's the fun of puzzling.

HOTL is totally legit, imo. Show title, and TV show made it national.

Yes, john in nc, i had the same reaction re. POLI-sci and POLY sci

RE. ETATS: Quebec is a province, i.e. a division. So states, being US divisions, qualify as southern neigbors. And the usage of Quebec signals that the answer is a french word.

and to genevieve 9:36 am: some of us actaully are NYT constructors and don't wish to reveal our name. As if "genevieve" is somehow more revealing. You're still an unknown person to me.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

I believe the French writer is 'Stendhal".

Anonymous 9:51 AM  


Hot l Baltimore is not that obscure as it was also a sit com on TV (70's?).

Rex admits he wasn't in sync with today's puzzle which is why I'm taking his implied WTF's as rhetorical.

Also tho, I agree this forum is most enjoyable as a puzzle's blog and the snide remarks simply become tedious fill.

Lastly, for personal reasons I must post anon, but I do sign within as:


SethG 9:51 AM  

Dear g-d was I off when solving this! And when I finally finished, I was angry. Mostly at myself, but that's still usually not a great sign.

First sign that I'm an idiot was ROUGE...--don't know it, and it never occurred to me to consider that it was maybe part of a theme I hadn't noticed--all I knew was that DIMWIT and ENRICH couldn't possibly both be right, and I had no idea which was wrong. Here I was more upset in retrospect, when blogs told me about the theme and I realized I had an easy in that I'd avoided. (Though maybe I'd have assumed that NOIR was make-upal and not found it anyway?)

Got past that anyway, finished in about 10 minutes. But...I had an error. Where?

NorCal? FUSS without the article could be wrong, and USOC being clued specifically as Summer Games seemed weird--it's Winter too, you know. Didn't know USE ME, and totally unsure about FURIOSO, but it seemed to all hold together pretty well.

Or NM? Never heard of ARMLEA, but EATS/ARCH/UAR are definitely accurate. (And I listened to XTC and watched that video just this weekend. So Good!)

NC? I can never keep theater stuff straight, but I'm almost certain HOT L is the play, and I know that SOFT 'N (Gentle) (a Georgia-Pacific bath tissue) is right, so I'll believe INNE. (Second sign--talk about misremembering! And I looked him up after--turns out it's pronounced with a SOFT G; I'd assumed two syllables and hard...)

Nah, it's most likely in FLA with the ridiculous OAK TAG. Pretty sure of ANTS and BEAT, but not 100% confident in ABO and ORGS could really be anything.

Took me 10 more minutes to figure out my error(s). And error finding time, as opposed to solving time, is Not Fun. I understand the need for iffy answers like ARMLET, but why clue so that the crosses are ambiguous? And I'll say the same for proper name INGE, which is 100% my error but only because I'm trying to become a good solver and should know this?

Ugh, sorry, I've gone on way too long, and I'm sure I'm not being fair to DM/WS, but exasperation is not my preferred solving mode.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Haha, Oak tag. Haven't heard that name since I was in 3rd grade making school projects. During that time, however, it seemed I was buying it by the ream every week. So I guess if there are any 7 year olds doing the puzzle today, they were honed in on that one.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Genevieve, 9:36: Sure Rex has every right to state his opinion. So do I. I have been reading the blog with regularity, thus my opinion how 'very smart' Rex is. I hide behind my name, which isn't.. er.. Sam.

Anonymous 9:45: yes! some of us are constructors.

--Sam ;-)

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

So much for your tastes -- "Dear God" (quotes just for you!) is hackeneyed puerile slop!

Pythia 10:03 AM  

I like this theme, and that there's so much of it (plural SHADOW BOXERS -- is that cheating?). Took lots of 3-letter words (25) and some pretty blah stuff to make it work. LAIC EDDA IDI are all nestled together. AIDER is just detestable. No amount of brilliant clueing can help those puppies, although I loved the clues for ETATS and ICE.

Rouge can be used on the lips, which must be what "they" were thinking, right? In French, lipstick is called rouge à lèvres.

Ulrich 10:05 AM  

I too had a hard time with this one--still don't know how "hie" could mean "step on it"--had never heard of "oak tag" (oh well, I guess I'm lucky) nor of "wig out". I also don't understand the clue for "ice". All in all, not my happiest Xword day--but that is really nobody's concern but mine.

Which brings me to the "anonymous" rant question. Yes, making up some name, like posting as "George Washington", wouldn't make the post less anonymous. It would help us, tho, to distinguish between different anony-mouses. This, again, can be circumvented by adopting a different name each time, like posting your second missive as "Thomas Jefferson." What I want to say is this: There is no way of flushing someone who wants to remain anonymous out of hiding (even a signature at the bottom can be fake). The only way to come out of hiding is to register as blogger with a link to a real personal website. Those of us who are not afraid to be identified with the opinions they express (perhaps even WANT to be identified) have taken that route, and they are my favorites b/c they are clearly no moral cowards.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

I also spent like 10 minutes Googling "Armlea". How annoying.

PuzzleGirl 10:06 AM  

Oh man, is "Use Me" a funky song! If you're interested, video is here. Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz covered the song on Mick's "Wandering Spirit" album and that version kicks ass too.

anon 9:45: Most people on this blog don't know my real name (and I prefer it that way), but I always post with the name PuzzleGirl and I think people sort of know what to expect when they read my posts. Just as I know what to expect when I see the usernames Orange, Phillysover, SethG, Wade, etc. If anon 9:10 chose a username and stuck with it, then when I saw that username I could say to myself "Oh, that's the jerk who comes on here to insult Rex. I don't think I'll read that post." See? It's helpful.

janie 10:06 AM  

anon. 10:00 -- i don't think rex would argue with you. in fact, his own observation was;

>Dear God" is about the least interesting thing on it (too caught up in juvenile cynicism), despite being the only song on the album that anyone's likely to know.


janie -- also guilty at times of misreading himself...

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

gee, i'm so sad not to be one of ulrich's favorites

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

For Ulrich: When you order a drink "neat", it means "no ice."

Rex Parker 10:14 AM  

I don't expect much from anonymouses, but if the decent folk could not get suckered into the juvenile back-and-forth, I'd be really grateful. Do you really imagine that lecturing some pompous douchebag is going to change him/her?

I know it's hard to resist, but sometimes you gotta let crap go (a lesson I learned, repeatedly, the hard way).


RodeoToad 10:14 AM  

I'd have rated the puzzle easy today, but I probably avoided some of the traps and misdirections others hit (ARMLEA) just because I took a different approach and did the puzzle in segments/quadrants rather than my usual manner of every clue in order. (I notice I usually do that when I get the first clue with some confidence, as I did today with NITWIT. My times are almost always better when I do it that way, but it's less enjoyable because of the schizophrenia of toggling between downs and acrosses.)

I didn't know HOTL was Hot L. I always read it as being some weird contraction of "hotel"--i.e., hot'l. Maybe because of "Hotel New Hampshire." I mean, I guess I thought, based on the Irving novel, that there was some custom of naming a hotel "Hotel" followed by the name of a state or city. Anyway, never mind. I never heard of the play or musical or sitcom or whatever it is. I know I've seen it in puzzles before but I never remember it.

anonymous, okay, you're a mysterious puzzle constructor. Congratulations. Myself, I'm a wealthy industrialist--imports, exports, uranium mines, etc.--but I picked a nom de chatboard ("Wade") just to make it easier for people to yell at me. That's all we're asking. Sign in on the "Name/URL" option and you can choose whatever name you like. "Turd in the Punchbowl" has a nice ring to it.

Wendy Laubach 10:19 AM  

I was so sure of Damon Runyan that it didn't even occur to me to check the spelling and correct it to Runyon, so I had "AAKTAG," which still means as much to me as "OAKTAG," but at least oaktag looks a little more plausible. I also fell hard for the ARCH/TECH ARMLEA/ARMLET trap, and filled in Soft'n Gentle without even considering the pretty obvious INGE cross. Wasn't trying hard enough, I guess.

"Hot L Baltimore" didn't seem provincial to me. Is it specially associated with NY somehow?

I don't know XTC, but I figured no band could fail to follow up "X" and "T" with "C." Hadn't heard of the song, but from the lyrics I'd have to go with Rex's initial verdict. Will there ever be a young generation that doesn't trot out the old "I daringly reject religion because grownups use it to justify bad stuff" chestnut?

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Dear Anonymous (Anonymi?)

Anon 10:00 Had you read the Rex's writeup, you would have noted that he said "Dear God" was the 'the least interesting thing on it (too caught up in juvenile cynicism)' Which kind of makes your snipe just plain pissy.

Anon 9:10 I just love your differentition between slang and informal. Look up slang, and the first definition you will find is informal usage, or very informal usage. Let's have fisticuffs to determine whether PUGS is merely informal, or very informal. The winner will be named either the head PUG or Pugilist, as is their wont. And, if the NYT is reagionally self indulgent, why should anyone not in NYC read it?

Wendy Laubach 10:26 AM  

Wade, as I recall the "Hot L" refers to a seedy hotel with a neon sign whose "E" is not working.

Ulrich, "hie" means "hurry," so "step on it" was in the sense of "put your foot on the gas pedal."

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

You're right, Rex. I just like you, and it ticks me off when people complain about the way you do things--this is a forum that you made, and you're putting your time into. It's not like you're working for the NYT. If someone doesn't like the commentary, they can just look at the completed grid and be on their way, instead of complaining--I like this board for the healthy back-and-forth of clue discussion, not when folks berate others on a personal level.

(And for heaven's sake, if I, for example, write a paragraph in my own blog of why I did or didn't like a book I just finished, I don't expect comments berating me for being stupid.)

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

The title "Hot L Baltimore" comes from the sign over the hotel, in the play. The hotel is on its last legs and can't afford to fix the missing "E" so that it reads correctly. Here's a link:

--"Sam" (the pompous douchebag)

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I have always thought ROUGE ET NOIR was a casino-gambling game, so after completing the grid, I googled the term. Our trusty Wikipedia outdid itself on this one:

"Rouge et Noir (i.e. red and black)...the name of a solitaire card game...should not be confused with the similarly named Red and Black, although the latter can also be known under this name."

The editors among us will be glad to know that the entry is prefaced with the statement "This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards."

Dave Mackey 10:39 AM  

Actually, I think I originally clued that as "Monte Carlo bets", wasn't even thinking of the solitare game.

Glad to hear my puzzle is generating healthy discourse among the pompous douchebags and other solvers.

Unknown 10:41 AM  

Wow. OAKTAG was easily the highlight of this puzzle for me. MeganP's so right - my grade school teachers *loved* saying that word. I guess not everyone had the same experience though...

As for HOTL: it's not really *that* obscure, I guess. But if you haven't heard of it, then there's no way in hell you would put a series of letters like that into the grid with any sort of confidence. That's what makes it so damn annoying. But I'll be ready for it next time.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Do you really imagine that lecturing some pompous douchebag is going to change him/her?

That's rich, coming from Rex.

I like this board for the healthy back-and-forth of clue discussion, not when folks berate others on a personal level.

That's especially rich, since it's apparently meant to be in defense of Rex.

Unknown 11:00 AM  

Feisty dialog this morning! Golly.

I struggled with the puzzle as well but attributed it to being off my game, the result of a lengthy out of town trip and interruption of my puzzle/Rex habit.

We call it TAG BOARD around here, but as I had OAK___ written the TAG came eventually.

Puzzle Girl, thank you for the Bill Withers USE ME link, that song transports me to my salad days as sure as the XTC reference transports many of the other readers here.

Glad to see all yall again. Thanks, Rex, as ever, for your entertaining blog.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

miriam b, where are you? Need your opinion on the rouge thing -- my impression is that the term is old hat, replaced by "blusher", not blush. Also, I think the older rouge was indeed more like the French term for lipstick, with creamier base, while today's blusher is lighter and more powdery?

Rex is right -- ignore the grump: he only does it to annoy, as Lewis Carroll's Duchess said.

I wish I could get a google/blogger page, but I've tried several times and can't get it to work. I'll have to stick with my little signicon cat.


Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I guess it was just a matter of time before a lurker popped into our little club and tried to spoil the fun. I don't always agree with Rex but don't feel obliged to bring it up. We tolerate Rex's rants because they are usually amusing and he has created a forum that we all honestly love. I go to this blog as regularly as I do the NYT puzzle (daily!). So maybe if we ignore the intruders they will go away.
Thank you Dave Mackey for joining in the fun. Always a treat to hear from the constructor dujour. I like your original clue better than the published one.
On the idea that an anon. lurker can claim credibility based on the supposed fact that he/she is a constructor - sorry, that doesn't fly with me. Oops, forgot my own suggestion!
Two Ponies
(still can't get my sign-in to work)

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

11D Item in a registry, perhaps I went with BRIDALGIFT, giving me BAD for 11A Inferior, as excuses go (which I thought was an inferior clue.)

Changed it to BRIDESGIFT to make SHADOWBOXER work, but wouldn't let go of it. Had to check Rex's website before I could see the error of my ways.

Dan 11:29 AM  

According to Wikipedia, James Agee was a "novelist, screenwriter, journalist, poet, and film critic" -- but not a playwright. INGE's always the four-letter playwright.

I was fooled by ARCH support as well, but I knew that was where to go check when my submitted puzzle was incorrect... Sad that I didn't see the WIG clue, but glad I didn't see the BAA clue. Yale sucks!

I do hope more constructors will come and comment (kudos Dave! Nice music fill!), but they'll have to avoid the two cardinal sins: posting as "Anonymous", and insulting Rex.

Bob Fenster 11:40 AM  

"Will there ever be a young generation that doesn't trot out the old "I daringly reject religion because grownups use it to justify bad stuff" chestnut?"

Wow, that's really condescending to ascribe such justifications to a person's atheism. Incidentally, Andy Partridge was 33 when he wrote that (thanks Wikipedia). I became an atheist at age 10 (later an agnostic) on my own terms, thank you very much.

BTW some things are old chestnuts because they contain truths.

Anyway, I hated this puzzle. I got the makeup theme quickly, but for some reason it didn't help much. At least I knew UAE and TECH!

Joon 11:43 AM  

i think this is the hardest NYT weekday puzzle i've ever done. i actually liked it, but nothing came easy. it felt like a friday NYS.

i guess it was just me, since other people don't seem to have had the same trouble. but in the 3 months that i've been keeping track of my solving times, this puzzle is the 9th-highest time for me, behind five saturdays and three fridays. it's more than twice my next-slowest wednesday, and more than three times my average wednesday. no puzzle on any day of the week has taken me longer since the brutal brad wilbur saturday exactly a month ago.

not only that, at the end of it, i had two bad crossings. both were sloppy in the sense that in retrospect, the right letter makes more sense than the one i put in. but in both cases i was guessing at the crossing of two answers i had never heard of (USEME/SIMI and RUNYON/OAKTAG).

so, yeah. pretty much every single clue was tough for me, and the final grid contained 8 answers i'd never heard of: ROUGEETNOIR, USEME, OAKTAG, CARHOP (is that like a bellhop? or a sock hop? or the bunny hop? maybe IHOP?), SIMI, HOTL, TOSH, and RUNYON. plus common answers with clues that made no sense: BAA (f*#$ yale), WREN (... so it's a bird that lives in your house? i had WINE here for a long time), LIP (collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and it comprises all of your connective tissue... why does this clue LIP, exactly? i wanted it to be JOINT or BONE or MUSCLE), and INGE (i actually do know some of his plays, but this wasn't one of them).

pretty much every mistake somebody else has mentioned, i had in my grid at some point (although i fixed most of them). ARCH/ARMLEA/UAR, yes. SOFTN gentle, yup. (i wrote and erased INGE so many times i lost count.) i had IIOC instead of USOC for a long time. i tried DUST and FEET and HEEL for FUSS but none of them fit the crossing at SCI. i had DELTAS instead of THETAS forever, which gave me NIMROD and made ENRICH impossible to see off of EN___E.

after all that... this is a nice puzzle. the theme is quite good. i have no idea if blush and rouge are the same thing, and i don't care. the theme is "phrases containing words for makeup," so who cares if SHADOWBOXERS is plural and ATFIRSTBLUSH isn't a noun? the only thing that threw me was thinking RELIEFMAPS (which took me forever) and SHOWERGIFT might be part of the theme, too.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

What? No complaints about using "ado", "to do" and "fuss" in the same grid? Slackers!

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@ulrich 10:05

"moral coward"?

because I don't have a personal site to which to link?!?

do you have any idea idea how easy it is to spoof a site?

please see my 9:51 post on meaningless, tedious fill.

Sorry Rex, (10:14), was going to ignore this too, but had to give your suggestion a shot.


Anonymous 11:45 AM  

@ulrich 10:05

"moral coward"?

because I don't have a personal site to which to link?!?

do you have any idea idea how easy it is to spoof a site?

please see my 9:51 post on meaningless, tedious fill.

Sorry Rex, (10:14), was going to ignore this too, but had to give your suggestion a shot.


Anonymous 12:01 PM  

So maybe ARMLEA isn't such a bad word. Clues anyone. Limb Meadow?

mac 12:06 PM  

This certainly was a "medium" for me, with a few completely unknown words: wig out, oak tag and the song "use me", but I like it a little tough. I shamefully admit to stumbling on the soft g.... What's the term for that again?

Before Dave Mackey commented, I was wondering if anonymous was the disgruntled constructor! Sorry, Dave.

Rob 12:14 PM  

All I know is that I felt like "The Mayor of Simpleton" working this puzzle. :) (The XTC answer was quite welcome even if otherwise out of place in this puzzle for Yalie musicians).

Another ARMLEA vote here!

I've also never heard of ROUGEETNOIR, but figured it won't be ROUGE because the other answers are at the end.

But OAKTAG, I got, and Cunard line I knew. Still got me to my first unfinished Wednesday puzzle in a while (I had been so pleased with my progress up the week!)

dk 12:19 PM  

re: the ranting-

So when I was a psychologist for the courts and I recommended the death penalty, life in prison or some other type of similarly progressive therapeutic intervention I could appreciate the outrage.

In all else I say: write it on a piece of paper and throw it away. Or to quote the NY Dolls (famous philosophers from the 70s) "That’s trash don't pick it up, don't throw your love away."

Or to quote Rex: "Let it go."

Re: the puzzle-

The puzzle seemed to lack flow, but it may be the agnst of the day (in case you did not notice).

Re: my cybermates-

Sethg (in honor of you I left off the @ and I know how tough your dad is from the other day): I have picture envy. What is your latest?

Puzzlegirl As a former college DJ who would never play requests: I love your song posts.

dk 12:23 PM  

One more thing. There was a hotel in Boston, the Essex. One night the neon was on the fritz so atop the hotel was a huge red HOT SEX.

mac 12:23 PM  

How about calling it an arm lei?

Bill from NJ 12:41 PM  

Wendy, fell into the same Damon Runyan trap you did. OAKTAG/AAKTAG made the same sense to me, having never heard of either.

In North Carolina had HOTL INGE but rejected it because, to me, ---TG at 44A was so obviously wrong. I'm never ready for that kind of clue.

Had DELTAS at 6D which totally screwed up the NW for me.

I thought this puzzle was full of speed bumps, all in different parts of the grid. I parsed the wrong Keaton at 53A.

I agree with SethG - I spent more time on error detail than on solving this sucker.


The one thing I have learned from your blog is one person's obscure clue is another person's gimme and never the twain shall meet. Calling one's intelligence into question is never right nor proper.

archaeoprof 12:48 PM  

Well, today I tried solving the puzzle without crossing out the numbers of the clues. Totally tanked. Hit every mistake mentioned here plus some of my own. I'm going back to doing what comes naturally. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

PS: Rex is my hero.

Bill D 12:59 PM  

I had a lot of fun with this one, no real trouble, and I thought the theme and a lot of the surrounding fill were excellent. As others have mentioned, LIP, BRUSH, BRISTLE, & MR MOM all tangentially enhanced the theme. No complaints about ETATS, HOT L, or "The Whiffenpoof Song" - it's certainly a better clue than "(arm)Lea sound". Put in UA and waited for confirmation of E or R -a possible advantage of doing the puzzle in ink. Liked the cluing of NERO, ODE, BAA. It does look as if Musical Score Notation is the new Spanish for crosswords!

I usually rail when we have an excess of 3-letter answers (a whopping 25 this time) but they ran the gamut from overworked to pretty good. Loved OAK TAG for the same reason as everyone else - I probably built a castle out of it in 3rd grade! CAR HOP was a neat new answer. NITWIT was a great change from OAF, eg, and with RUNYON in the puzzle "Pug" was a requisite! (@Wendy - I thought it was RunyAn as well - thank grammar school for OAK TAG.) Kudos on a great puzzle, Dave!

Cunard is THE ocean liner company; RMS Lusitania was a Cunarder, and RMS Titanic flew the flag of White Star Line, Cunard's predecessor.

A lot of puzzle solving comes down to what you know and what you recognize. I think it's disingenuous of anyone, from Rex on down, to condemn the puzzle for including something he/she does not know unless it is a universal blind spot (ferule springs to mind). We regular solvers breeze through stuff like ADO, OAST & SOFT G, but a casual solver is going to find those as foreign as when we hit a blank spot in our experience. We often complain when the puzzle is too routine and too recognizable, then gripe when some new fill confuses us. I think it's great that the constructors, given the confines of the grid rules, can continue to challenge, excite, entertain, and exasperate us.

imsdave1 1:03 PM  

OAKTAG and XTC meant nothing to me. I found the puzzle a medium and had no major complaints with it.

@Rex - you've probably heard the Whiffenpoof Song:

We're poor little lambs
who have lost our way,
baa, baa, baa.
We're little black sheep
who have lost our way,
baa, baa, baa.

complete lyric at:

(my dad was a Whiff)

As for Cunard - let's not forget the Lusitania.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

re Ulrich@10:05

every now and then I comment here in the Comments and use my email name Scriberpat because that's about all I know how to do -- I do enjoy some of the links people provide such as the guy who has a website with Hillary pointing her index finger every which way -- but as far as my providing a "link" to a "real personal website" I'd have to pay a local computer nerd kid to do it and explain it to me as we have no teenagers to help us for free here with computer stuff. I apologize for my limitations but I'm doing the best I can with what I've got. Thanks.

jae 1:08 PM  

Geez, sort of an unpleasant day in blogland.

Started off with NUDNIK which worked with KAPPAS but not with WIG. Also tried HEMED (2 Ms??) briefly and wanted "I" to start the summer games answer, but did not fall into the ARCH trap.

I'd never heard of OAKTAG (or XTC for that matter) and asked my bride about it after finishing. She was quite familiar with the term but then she does troll Michael's.

I'd have preferred Dave's roulette clue but then the puzzle would have been easier. Overall I liked this one but there were definitely some rough spots.

Peter Sattler 1:14 PM  

I need to retract some of my complaints about N-TESTS ("Big blasts, for short").

Looks like it is used as a form of headline-ese (e.g., "Pakistanis Triumphant Over N-Tests"). For what its worth, this short form seem far more common in British (and Brit-inspired) papers. It only shows up once in a simple search of the NY Times since 1981.

Orange 1:16 PM  

Dave Mackey's a music teacher and a cartoon buff, so I expect him to throw some of those topics into the grid. Today, music—next time, perhaps, he will grace us with cartoons.

I learned OAKTAG in grade school, too. Little-known fact: Rex is so smart, he entered high school at age 6 and totally missed the oaktag projects.

Anonymous 9:10: What, you're afraid if you use your name, Rex will slam your next puzzle? Constructors who post non-insulting blog comments do tend to leave their name, as you've surely noted. I recognize that there are some constructors who disagree with pretty much Rex's entire blog, who find him unknowledgeable and overly harsh at times, but hurling insults only serves to rile people up. Why not just sit there quietly and feel superior when you know more than Rex? That's what I do. :-)

As for Cunard, I know the name but I'll bet most Americans are more familiar with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess, and Norwegian. Cunard has just the two ships? I'll bet their cruises are expensive and don't do a lot of Caribbean sailing.

Bill from NJ, you are a class act.

Bobby, some people are born atheists, too.

Orange 1:20 PM  

Oh—There's an Olympic middle and long distance runner named Marla RunyAn. She's legally blind. Easy way to remember the author's spelling: DamOn RunyOn, both names ending with On. Whatever you do, don't think of Paul Bunyan and Damon Runyon in the same brain space.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Let's not dismiss anonymouses and lurkers. They participate and appreciate in their own ways.

-Jumping Mouse

Joon 1:28 PM  

i only know the philadelphia eagles offensive tackle, jon RUNYAN.

Jerry 1:32 PM  

I'm always amused at how age differences among us puzzlers make the clues easier or harder. At 72, OAKTAG, Damon RUNYON, and the Cunard Line are old friends. Also glad to see the poli/poly thing handkled correctly today. As I wrote the first time it popped up...poly is short for many, poli for political.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@imsdave1 and bill d -- Glad you were okay with the BAA from the Whiffenpoof's song, and thanks for the link to the lyrics!... (I know people get tired of "Eli" as puzzle fill, but there are only so many three-letter words).... I did a master's degree at Yale and really enjoyed the singing groups -- they were all terrific, but my favorite was the newest one at the time, the Yale Russian Chorus!


JC66 1:48 PM  
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RodeoToad 1:49 PM  
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Orange 1:51 PM  

P.S. To clarify: There are also plenty of constructors who enjoy Rex's blog, the humor in each post, the wide-ranging references, the community aspect, and the wealth of feedback from solvers. It was actually a constructor who first encouraged me to start reading this blog when it was new.

I hear that there are people who don't like my blog either, but I've been lucky enough that my own haters have been polite enough not to tell me. I do appreciate that.

Ulrich 2:06 PM  
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JC66 2:06 PM  
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Ulrich 2:11 PM  

@wendy l.: Thanks--didn't know this. So you can really say to the driver next to you "hie" and she will know that it means "step on it"?

@anonymous at 10:08: Thanks to you, too. I was embarassingly thick in this case.

@scriberpat: When I wrote about anonymouses, I was only referring to those who shout personal insults from behind the screen of anonymity--I can think of gazillion good reasons why one would want to post anonymously--I started like that myself.

JC66 2:26 PM  

OAKTAG, CARHOPS and CUNARD were in favor when IKE was in office. RUNYON might have used PUG to refer to a boxer.

Bill D 2:35 PM  

@Ulrich - she will HIE only if she's driving a horse and buggy! I think HIE (giddyup), Gee, and Haw are instructions given to draught animals, although I have seen HIE meaning "move it" in literature - coloquial spoken English not so much. Look out for "high-tailed" (ran away), as in "the pickpocket high-tailed it with my wallet." Reading some Damon RUNYON will probably fill you in on a lot of such olde-tyme slang.

jubjub 2:36 PM  

For the most part, I liked this puzzle. Most of the answers required a little bit of thinking and I mainly solved things in a holistic manner -- most clues were not gimmes, but with the added information from their neighbors, eventually things started to click.

My only qualm was that I had really no chance on the mid to south east corner.

I agree with the WTF OAKTAG crowd. I had -AKTAG, and was thinking it sounded like some kind of IKEA product. Combined with the -TESTS (I could have guessed HTESTS or ATESTS, but I was nowhere near NTESTS), I ended up googling for RUNYON.

Also got stuck in the mideast at SOFTG. I think it was really the HOTL answer that killed me, as it never entered my mind to try a T in HO-L. Ended up doing some googling there too.

I didn't know what a pug is in relation to gyms, or what a SHADOWBOXER is, but shadow boxer jumped into my head fairly quickly, probably because of the Fiona Apple song that was overplayed on the radio in the 90s.

I also had ARCH instead of TECH, but figured out my mistake when I was trying to put in ARMLEA.

My error at the end was BARHOP instead of CARHOP. CARHOP is a term I don't know, while barhopping is a term I do know. I didn't like that LAIB resulted, but my vocabulary fits my occupation (engineer), so I figured, what do I know?

I was hesitant to put SIMI in for _ Valley, Calif., since I thought the "Calif." abbreviation indicated that the answer would be an abbreviation.

Never heard of XTC, but the 80s are kind of a blur to me :). I'll have to check them out.

Can I just say that I hate the music vocabulary terms? They're in every puzzle, and I just cannot keep them straight in my head. Whenever I see one coming, I cringe.

Rex, you probably have an astigmatism. I have one eye with an astigmatism and that eye gets a fancy, expensive TORIC lens.

Huh, didn't know what the "Whiffenpoof Song" was. I thought it must be something to do with barn animals, like "Old MacDonald" or "Baa Baa Black Sheep".

@frances, good quote from Wikipedia. Besides being my all-time favorite website, it is full of contradictory gems, and this one is subtle enough that I, with my lack of grammar + english skills, would not have otherwise noticed.

@joon, I think the idea behind "Collagen target"=LIP is that some people get collagen injected into their lips for cosmetic purposes. That was my guess, anyways.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

I went thru NIMROD (bec I had DELTAS) to DIMWIT (once I realized it was THETAS) to NITWIT...
so I was heartened to see someone put in NUDNIK!!!!!!!

As a constructor, at first I too was bothered by the some are first words, some are second...but if you look at the grid they make a nice progression down the page, almost a staircase and it IS five entries...

However, it should be pointed out that this exact theme was done by Nancy Saloman in Dec 1999 for SN
with the four clues:
MOULINROUGE (as Rex suggested)
(I know bec I, too, had come up with this SAME theme, but when I checked the cruciverb database, I not only saw Nancy had done it, but so had Frances Burton April 30, 2000 for SN (whatever that is...)
so imagine my surprise today!)

That is both the curse and the blessing of the cruciverb database...I used to get SO many rejections by the editors telling me "been there, done that" but didn't expect this in the NYT today... (I wrote to Nancy and Will alerting them)

Obviously I'm a constructor, but a solver first...and, of course, I love Rex to death and almost faint every day when he says word for word what went thru my mind, but in a funnier, more bitter way!

OAKTAG? Bah! but I love to see how many fond memories it strikes in others...that said, I knew from Cunard having been a Dating Game Chaperone for many years!

I'll leave on that (hopefully) intriguing sidenote!

Wendy Laubach 2:42 PM  

Ulrich: no way! The usages are separated by a couple of centuries, so the odds of finding a single driver who will understand both expressions are small -- unless your driver is a crossword afficionado (sp.?).

Bobby: I don't attribute that reasoning to all atheists, only to the very young ones who come along every few years and make that specific argument, such as the author of the lyrics we were discussing. It's such a hoary old thing.

miriam b 2:46 PM  

Thanks for seeking out my opinion, artlvr. Actually I worked with skin care products such as moisturizers and exfoliators rather than with color cosmetics, but I'll be glad to offer some input.

Originally I tried to post quite a longwinded message, but there was a Google error and it disappeared. So here's a Cliff Notes version of what I had to say. My formidable To Do list beckons, so I can't stay here long.

I believe that the old-fashioned ROUGE, which came in a sort of cake, was indeed superseded by BLUSH, or blusher. A mossy old bio teacher I had in jr. high inveighed against cosmetics, primarily on the grounds that their use might hide an unhealthy appearance, thus delaying needed intervention. He apparently feared that what he termed "lip rouge" might conceal cyanosis. Who knows? I do remember that he maintained that nail polish could hide pale nail beds whch might indicate anemia.

And yes, the French term for the cosmetic substance itself is "rouge � l�vres". The object containing it is "b�ton de rouge � l�vres." Evidently the French are a little more concerned than we are about differentiating between the container and the thing contained. I'm too busy today to go off on a syntactic tangent!

I ran into an acquaintance recently, a retired teacher of a certain age who mentioned something I hadn't thought of in years: OAKTAG! I guess I must have been in some way involved with it in school, and maybe my kids were. I'll check with them and those of their kids who are old enough for school.

Back to the self-imposed grind. Great day for planting tomatoes.

RodeoToad 2:53 PM  

Andrea Carla, so that's where I remember you from! No hard feelings, eh?

btw, I meant to second Rex on the Teri Garr crush. She was really cool on the early Letterman shows, and Mr. Mom is for some reason one of those movies I've seen probably about as many times as any other movie except "The Godfather" and "The Last Picture Show." A high school friend and I used to crack up when Michael Keaton offered his wife's boss a beer:

Boss: "It's eight o'clock in the morning!"


Mr. Mom: "Scotch?"

Now when I take our glass to recycling and think of that line it's not so funny anymore.

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

When I was a kid, a few centuries ago, we sometimes had to do "projects" in school. The girls' reports were always prettier and fancier. They used OAKTAG.

Agree with joon that the puzzle was hard for a weekday.

chefbea 3:37 PM  

I had no idea that the theme was make until I came here. At first thought it was a french theme because I had Rouge at noir and etats. Tried to put a french word in luxury liner but that didnt work.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

So OAKTAG is for real, eh? Fooled me. I went to grammar school before EVERYONE here (WWII), and never heard of it. Maybe it hadn't been invented yet.

Rex is my hero, too, most of all because he's not afraid to tee off on a puzzle when it deserves it (and even when it doesn't). I thought today's was way too hard for a Wednesday, but after reading the comments I feel a little better.

Musicians: is "forcefully" really an appropriate translation of FURIOSO? Not when *I* was playing second fiddle!

heathcliff 4:06 PM  

Dan's right. When you hear four-letter playwright, don't think of Agee, as he never wrote a play in his life.

He did write 'The African Queen' and 'Night of the Hunter' for the movies, tho'

chefbea 4:10 PM  

Was fun reading all the banter today. Thanks Dave!
I grew up with oaktag and carhops. Went to Steak and Shake all the time -Either a girl or guy came to the car, took our order came back with the food on a tray that hooked to the car window and we ate in the car.

And my Mom who is almost 92 still puts her rouge on every day (thats what she calls it)

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

In the interest of science, I went to an anagram site to discover hidden meanings in the mots de jour, OAKTAG and ARMLEA.

I came up with TAG OAK and LEA ARM. Fascinating. What did we do before the Internet?

I grew up in Quebec and went to the states alot, but never heard anyone call it les ETATS (which is an anagram for STATE).

JannieB 5:20 PM  

I had no real trouble with this today. I knew Hot l Baltimore from the TV show - it only lasted 13 weeks but every episode cracked me up. And one of the main stars was xworld's favorite character actress - Charlotte Rae. New word of the day for me is Oaktag. No idea. None. (And yes, I went to grade school.) I avoided the gentle opening trap because I already had the "tg) filled using the downs. If any of you live near a Sonic, they still use car hops, usually on skates. Never saw the theme until the puzzle was done.

I'd been noticing that the number of daily comments had slowed of late. Too bad it takes an ill-humored coward to get us all riled up.

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

I love the word oaktag. I used it as a child. My children have no idea what it is! This morning I was so delighted to solve the word.

Anonymous 6:04 PM  

I'm in the never-heard-of-OAKTAG camp. I stared at the 'Liked leader' for a while, trying to think of a good prefix for 'liked' before running through the alphabet. I had one of my worse Wednesday times, I think mostly due to that corner.

No problems with ARMLET for me, I hit that one before the support clue. When I put in the XTC answer, I was overjoyed: a three letter rock band that wasn't ELO? Bring it on, Dave!

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

Today's vitriolic discussion inspired me to get a name for my occasional post here. I usually just post on the NYT.

Here's something to remember so as not to confuse UAE and UAR. UAE still exists and UAR does not. John Farmer posted the usages of UAR and all but one (on a Friday) either used the past tense or made a reference to Nasser or Egypt. If there is simply a present-tense reference to a Mideast Federation, it is almost certain to be UAE rather than UAR.


Leon 6:30 PM  

Thought it was a nice puzzle. UAE and TECH took far too long to get.

Re: the vitriol - The old Usenet posts and bulletin boards had a saying Do not feed the troll.

SethG 7:09 PM  

I'm appalled and honored--I think you've confused me with Wade. I have no problem with the @, and I think we established that his whole family can beat up mine.

I was gonna give you treat and send a video, but YouTube hasn't processed it yet. So instead here's a picture I thought about sending yesterday, which long haired freaky people and vegetarians need not click on: gnu and friend.

I love you all.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

This puzzle was a slow starter for me; but I got OAKTAG with only ABO and ANTS filled in. I loved making posters in grade school -- who knew this would have a payoff in the puzzle!

Full disclosure, though: I completed the puzzle in more or less my usual time for Wednesday (20 min), but I thought it was themeless until I read Rex just now.

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

Wow. I was on a field trip today, and didn't get to the puzzle until this evening. As a high school teacher I am subjected to displays of immaturity daily. My response to these as they often escalate is usually something like... Do you really want to argue about this? I didn't expect to see that here. I of course believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but am surprised by the gradeschool bs that hit the blog today.

I truly understand, and applaud, having a passionate attitude, but enjoy this blog too much not to defend it.

So, as a good teacher, I say, "Knock it off!"

Doc John 8:28 PM  

Wednesdays always give me a hard time and this one was no exception. I finally muscled my way through it, even though I had no idea if OAK TAG and EDDA were right or wrong.

As for the music clues, one would think that since I've played a musical instrument for most of my life I'd know them. However, when I see them in the score, I just bleep over them and pay attention to the conductor. Anyway, most scores these days give a more exact figure like "♩=120".

Ah, HOT L Baltimore! I actually remember watching that show as a kid (can't remember a thing about it now, though, other than Ms. Pantheon was in it.)

Hey Wade, thanks for the "Mr. Mom" quote. I love that line and the way Michael Keaton delivered it.

Puerile or not, I like "Dear God". Apparently Rex liked it enough to post the full lyrics in his blog, too.

Fave clue: 63A. Liked leader? = IKE

Finally, to anonymous: there are ways to say the exact same thing without coming across so negatively.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Wade, you International Business Mogul, you... as usual, make me laugh. I'll bet you are really an arms dealer.
"Turd in the Punchbowl", indeed!
But Leon is right - don't feed the trolls. Sorry to see them here, although it was probably inevitable, but ignoring them is the only effective pest control.

Joon - you are not alone, I had a bear of a time with this puzzle too ... kept looking up to make sure it really was Wednesday.

Finished up exactly as Rex...
Me:"Honey, what the hell is an ARMLEA??"
Honey:"ARMLEA is not a word - try ARMLET"
(Honey is my crossword crutch)

I too, remember OAKTAG, and am shocked that anybody here has never heard of CUNARD, but I guess Bill in NJ is spot on regarding "one person's gimme".

Thank you Dave for the puzzle and for chiming in here.

Thank you Rex for (snip - list too long)... everything.

Michael Chibnik 9:15 PM  

I also had armlea and arch before I fixed it. Always nice to see that others have gone down the same path. Glad to see poli sci, never heard of oaktag, Cunard was a gimme.

I'm surprised some people found this one difficult -- I thought it was about average for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

I read this blog every day and very much hate to see it degenerate to name-calling. In general people who love crossword puzzles seek to challege their brains and that is a good thing - a very good thing. I wish that everyone were interested in struggling with a concept or idea until they really understood in all its complexities and shades of gray instead of looking for the easy solution. I imagine our world would be in much better shape if that were true.

So I admire all people who are up for the challenge of the NYT and devote themselves to improving their brain - no matter how much knowledge they are currently in possession of. I will never look down upon anyone who knows less than I do and I will never fawn over anyone who knows much more. I think we should just show mutual respect. We are just trying to do the best with what we have.

mac 11:40 PM  

I'm on a high so I can't get into the squabble this evening. Our son graduated from the Journalism School of Columbia University!

It's beautiful to see the big cruise ships leaving the piers on the Hudson to Bermuda on a clear evening.

Rex et al., I once read a comment by a photographer who spent some time taking pictures of Teri Garr -He was very complimentary of certain body parts she never showed in her movies....., as far as I know.

Wade the mogul, you're bad and funny! You're anonymous in that you constantly change your Rex blog persona.

One of the things I love about Rex's blog is that many constructors appreciate it enough to comment on it and our comments; it personalises these puzzles we spend so much time on, and validates the discourse.

Today I was really struck by a very ugly word: anonymouses! Let's call them anonymice from now on.

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

ANONYMICE! Fabulous, I'll bet everyone will embrace it, they will be unanimice in their praise!

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

this has probably already been pointed out, but im afraid im not going to read all the other comments before i add with the utmost belligerence that rouge can also be for your lips whereas blush cannot.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

I managed to get oaktag but had no idea what it meant. I went to a primary school in the country in a one-room schoolhouse, with unqualified teachers and no materials for crafts - all due to post-WW11 shortages. I did enjoy "literature" when teach would read aloud from the latest bodice ripper she was reading. However, that stopped when some parents found out!
Does oaktag refer to the size or the type of paper?

Julie 8:14 PM  

I was just laughing at Rex's Yale comment, because I've often thought the same thing. Luckily? though, I have a Yalie here at home, and his answer is:

"Because for some 300 years Yale has been the standard for education and it's students, the standard for moral rectitude."

He goes on to say "with some obvious exceptions".

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

why ice for it's never in a neat order? I don't get it.

Anonymous 3:40 AM  

If you order neat scotch in a bar, it means no ice.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

In syndication. Ruefully, I have to admit falling into the same armlea trap. But just as a comment on the strangeness of what each of us knows, I knew Cunard even though I've never been on one of their ships and don't live in or visit NYC. (I may have had a Cunard steamship model when I was a small boy.) And I can sing the Whiffenpoof song though I never went to Yale or knew personally anyone who did. It was a popular song early in the 20th century, and my grandmother had a Mitch Miller recording of it.

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