Saturday, August 9, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Inside Jokes" - words for jokes are found in circled squares inside long theme answers

Despite absurdities like KERF (106A: Cut made by a saw) and FORKERS (86A: Chopsticks eschewers, informally) and MOG (54D: Pet cat, in British lingo), and because of having struggled before with the tricky words TSURIS (31D: Woes, to a Yiddish speaker) and ERGOT (64A: Cereal killer), I tore this puzzle up without really trying. The top scores on this puzzle are in and around the 6 min. mark, so I'm not the only one who found it easy. The theme made the longer answers very, very easy to uncover. This puzzle seems to have been constructed solely because of the very clever title. Nice concept. Overall, the puzzle is OK. Lots of interesting fill and clues, and a highly contemporary frame of reference. The most memorable thing about the puzzle is the aforementioned absurdities, and that can't be good. But with a handful of super Scrabbly letters and a plucky attitude, this puzzle certainly had its charm. It wasn't boring. Or, rather, it was, but only in the theme answers (fine phrases, but having nothing in common besides their containing words that mean "joke").

Please note how often the circled word fails to traverse two words in the phrase in which it's embedded, and (more often) fails to touch all words in the phrase. I have had a similar puzzle (the circled square kind) criticized (by a major editor whose name is not Will) for having only one such failure in a theme answer. Admittedly, said editor is a total badass and hardass with super-high standards, which I respect. Still, any time I see circled squares that don't traverse all the words in the answer they're embedded in, I get a bit resentful.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: 21 (legal drinkinG AGe)
  • 16D: High-school gym feature (eQUIPment locker)
  • 37A: Way out (esCAPE Route)
  • 54A: Conductors' aids (musiC RACKs) - you mean "music stands?"
  • 44D: Declaration of August 14, 1941 (AtlANTIC Charter)
  • 79A: Number one (toP RANKing)
  • 95A: "Sire" ("your maJESTy")
  • 109A: Ignore, as a problem (sweeP UNder the rug) - note: for some reason, the grid in the NYT applet (reproduced above) did not put the circled squares in 109A

Let's just dive into a list of goods, bads, stumpers, and screw-ups (mine)

  • 15A: Gilberto's partner on "The Girl From Ipanema," 1964 (Getz) - why did I want METZ? I was damned lucky to come up with that "Z," intersecting (as GETZ does) another not- terribly- famous proper noun, ZAK (18D: Ringo's drummer son).
  • 31A: Vespasian's successor (Titus) - There was a horrible TV show and an excellent movie, both named "TITUS." That's what I know about TITUS.
  • 52A: Viva-voce vote (nay) - words can't describe how much I hate "viva-voce" in this clue. Sometimes you have to rein in that urge to alliterate. Seriously.
  • 61A: Butterfly relative (crawl) - appropriate on this, let's say second day of the Summer Olympics.
  • 71A: "Vissi d'arte" singer (Tosca) - opera, ends in -SCA, TOSCA, done.
  • 73A: "N.Y. State of Mind" rapper (Nas) - Billy Joel fans must be going "????"
  • 75A: Yossarian's tentmate in "Catch-22" (Orr) - Nooooo idea. ORR plays hockey in CrossWorld.
  • 82A: Athos's arm (musket) - for a brief moment I imagined "Athos" was a lake or river. Then I imagined "arm" was, you know, a human limb.
  • 84A: "Generation of healthy, happy pets" sloganeer (Alpo) - I have vowed to blog every "sloganeer" and "slangily" clue; here, I keep that promise.
  • 87A: Razor handle? (Occam) - This part of puzzle was screwy, as I had PLUG for FLOG (77D: Aggressively promote), but getting the correct "O" still left me combing the men's grooming aisle for razor candidates...
  • 57A: Quick expression of gratitude (thx) - mmm, email/IM shorthand. Expect it to take over your grid in the next decade. LOL was just the beginning...
  • 89A: The _____ Band, with guitarist Little Steven (Little River ... I mean E Street)
  • 93A: He played 2,130 consecutive games (Gehrig) - The Iron Horse
  • 104A: Divine epithet (Creator) - I was imagining some kind of swear word that a god (or God) might say. "I'm sending down a flood, bitches!"
  • 120A: 1967 pop sensation, with "the" (Monkees) - very easy. I like this clue because it has "pop sensation" in it.
  • 3D: Beersheba's desert (Negev) - simple ... had I read the clue correctly. "How am I supposed to know what Beersheba liked to eat after dinner?"
  • 7D: People who no what they like? (Puritans) - I don't get it. Oh, does it mean they don't indulge in things they like? That's ... oddly judgmental. I presume they like worshiping God. I'm no Puritan, but this seems awfully dismissive and sneering, which I didn't think the Times did toward religion.
  • 10D: Brashares who wrote "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" (Ann) - just typing that clue made me queasy
  • 14D: Self-title album of 1980 (Aretha) - and now, to wash the Traveling Pants out of my mouth, here is some sweet soul goodness - even when her songs are discofied, she sounds Awesome:

  • 29D: Infamous 1999 computer virus with a woman's name (Melissa) - remember? Me either. I had a Mac.
  • 39D: "Watermark" vocalist (Enya) - I suggest you try her nearly every time you have a "vocalist" in four letters that you don't know.
  • 42D: Charon's workplace (Styx) - I'm pretty sure he had to stay there after work too.
  • 48D: NuGrape competitor (Nehi) - that was easy, despite my never having seen either of these sodas. Is NEHI super-regional? When I was growing up, I thought it was fictional, since I'd only ever heard it mentioned on "M*A*S*H"
  • 51D: Call letters on 1970s-'80s TV (WKRP) - speaking of good 70s TV
  • 67D: Joule division (erg) - "Joule division" sounds like a band name. Well, actually, it sounds like a specific band name: Joy Division...

  • 102D: Someone who just got out of a long bath, facetiously (prune) - Something about "facetiously" is making me laugh. "So you mean the person's not literally a prune, but merely resembles one in his/her wrinkled skin?! I see. How droll."
  • 105D: Former shah _____ Pahlavi (Reza) - I know the name REZA from an early season of "24," and that is the only way I know REZA. I also know only one Shah. The Shah. 1979 Shah. Is this the same guy? I could look this up, but puppy needs tending to, and breakfast needs eating, coffee drinking, etc.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Will Shortz will be hosting the Sudoku National Championship on October 25 in Philadelphia. The championship is being hosted by the Philadelphia Inquirer and there will be over $20,000 in cash prizes. Here is the relevant website. I can't stand Sudoku, but I know that I'm in the minority in the puzzling world, and I'm sure a lot of you are fans, or know people who are, so go ahead, spread the disease, I mean word.

My suggestion for next year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament: Cool(er) gear. Last year's offerings were pathetic - maybe Emily could design something. Hers were the only T-shirts I bought at the 2008 Tournament.


Anonymous 10:54 PM  

The fill and cluing here felt much more uneven than usual, with some neat and/or "Scrabbly" entries (e.g. I enjoyed the crossing of the Classic 42D:STYX with the computer-age 57A:THX) next to desperate dross like 86A: meet the FORKERS. Not sure what to make of 119A:YEARONE -- the very beginning would be "day one", or six days according to Genesis. I happened to know of 106A:KERF, cognate with "carve"; also glad to see a different clue for the Pantheonic 75A:ORR. Didn't care much for the top right corner square -- 15A:GETZ I recognized in retrospect (so no Natick violation here), though I had to go through the whole alphabet to get there, and 18A:ZAK is a reasonable name but I've never heard or cared about Ringo Starr's son.

There seems to be a subsidiary sports theme, perhaps in honor of the Olympics: 61A:CRAWL as in butterfly, 76A:BICEP as in weightlifting, 93A:GEHRIG (dunno why baseball is an olympic sport, but there are a number of more obscure ones), 27D:STAMINA, maybe the PE clue for 16D:EQUIPMENT LOCKER, and I think there's at least one more that I can't locate now.

The grid picture is missing the circles in one of the theme entries, the PUN hidden in 109A:SWEEPUNDERTHERUG. Was that done intentionally by Rex or a fellow misopunist? For that matter was "pun" intentionally placed at the bottom of the grid, as in "lowest form of wit"?...


P.S. I enjoyed the diagramless puzzle at least as much.

Anonymous 11:40 PM  

Titus crossing tsuris, zowie--Strange synchronicity: Today is the Jewish Fast Day , Tisha B'Av, the Ninth of Ab, the day Titus destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem,after killing 100s of thousandsof Judeans/Jews. Speak about tsuris. Considered the saddest day in the Jewish calendar it commemorates the destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians ca 586BCE and then on the same day hundreds of years later in 70 CE the destruction of the 2nd Temple by the Romans led by Titus. Traditional Jews commemorate these and other tragedies on this day.


Anonymous 11:59 PM  

Zowie indeed! I solved the puzzle Saturday (the Sunday Magazine is delivered a day early to subscribers) so I'll claim that as my excuse for not making the connection myself.

A dank [=Thank you, to a Yiddish speaker],

P.S. "Tsuris" is from Hebrew Tzarot, literally "narrows"; same root as for Tzorer "oppressor" (literally one who presses down on you, presumably making you narrower...), and Meitzar "straits", as in "dire straits".

ArtLvr 12:25 AM  

@ noam d e -- 74D SKIERS was another sports term, unless you are leaving out the Winter Games. And BICEP needs an S, according to the dictionary!

I peeked at the solution here a bit too quickly, then realized I'd left in something odd I'd meant to fix at the end: "sapiens" for SIMIANS. Otherwise all went well. MUSICRACKS cracked me up.

p.s. nde and profphil -- Very interesting, your discussion of the significance of the crossing of TITUS aNd TSURIS! THX to the TWO of you.


Anonymous 12:40 AM  

It's funny how editors often prefer a theme in which several theme answers are missing some characteristic to one in which all of the theme entries but one have that characteristic. That one odd man out spoils the consistency, so might as well be completely inconsistent.

The insistence on hidden words traversing all the words of a theme entry has always struck me as sort of arbitrary, but the unexpectedness does add some elegance. I couldn't dredge up enough such theme entries to make this puzzle work, though.

ArtLvr 1:21 AM  

THX, Mr. Nediger -- Very enjoyable Sunday puzzle, and I for one applaud the many hidden theme answers whether they are in one word of a phrase or span more than one! After all, a mixture is unexpected too!


Unknown 1:28 AM  

Will, I think the puzzle is elegant. Crossing multiple phrases to get JEST, ANTIC and QUIP would be a difficult task and short us three theme entries. I do think the PUN considered by some here as the lowest form of humor is appropriately placed. The theme helped me and the small bird was discussed here recently. I was humored.

tabstop 1:59 AM  

Since I was forced to take 9th grade shop, I had no trouble with KERF (used all the time there), and I remember seeing moggy in Agatha Christie, I think, so MOG didn't take long either.

I don't want to live in a world where FORKERS is a real word, though.

Joon 2:15 AM  

it's totally unfair to focus on the worst entry or even several entries in a sunday-sized grid. filling a 21x21 is Hard, and there will almost invariably be a few clunkers. i'm sure will and will were less than thrilled about FORKERS but for the most part, this was a really nice grid. i think that's a big part of why you're seeing the great solving times in the applet. the cluing seemed to be just as lively as a typical sunday.

as for the theme "jokes" not spanning multiple words--on a weekday, when there are only a few theme answers, this would be more of a sin. for a sunday, i'm more focused on whether the theme answers are interesting phrases in their own right. on that count, this puzzle is ... pretty good. i liked most of them. not quite as interested by EQUIPMENTLOCKER or MUSICRACKS.

and fwiw, merriam-webster is okay with BICEP.

Ellen 4:12 AM  

The missing pun circles were my error in making the Across Lite file. It was caught by a subsequent tester, and corrected files were sent out on 7/25 - but for some reason the correction was not applied to the Java version. This also happened with a late clue change about the code talkers the other day. The solution is never to have late corrections, but that's not always possible.

Barry G. 7:10 AM  


Anonymous 7:59 AM  

As a good Brit, and a cat-owner to boot, I beg to differ with you on MOG, a word that is common as mud in my part of the world. It refers to the no-breed, no-pedigree cat that just might curl up in your lap, if once in a blue moon it felt so inclined. Having said that, I admit the far cuter diminutive MOGGIE is much more common.

But yes, FORKERS is just plain stupid.

Rex Parker 8:26 AM  

I prefer to think of MOG as the rapper Mo G, who as far as I know does not exist, but should.


Anonymous 8:31 AM  

@cea, yes, I always had moggies at home. I was also brought up on Meg Mog and Owl stories. Meg is a witch, Mog is a cat and Owl is an owl.

I loved this puzzle, sped through it and felt very happy after it. I think FOPpish is one of my favourite words ever and I'm never more content than when Roman emperors and statesmen rock up.

Jeffrey 9:04 AM  

This one was just what I needed after being killed on Friday and Saturday. This was my fastest Sunday ever.

Nothing too memorable, same huhs? over MOG and FORKERS but ok for a light Sunday.

HudsonHawk 9:29 AM  

Ahh, Catch-22. As usual, the book was better than the movie, but both lots of fun. Captain Orr was played by Bob Balaban in the movie.

A few years ago, I was taking the subway home late at night, and I recognized an older gentleman doing the NYT puzzle as Austin Pendleton, the character actor. He happened to also be getting off at my stop, and I mentioned how funny he was in Catch-22, which I had just come across a few days earlier on a movie channel (he played Lt. Col. Moodus). He was really warm and gracious (but what else would you expect from a solver?).

OK with the puzzle. Would have liked to seen ALAMEDA clued as Oakland's county rather than neighbor (not sure why given that they're both correct...).

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

now what you hear is not a clue--i'm rappin to the beat
and fill, the blog, and my friends are gonna try to solve your puz
see i am wonder mo g and i like to say yo
to the black, to the white, the grid, and the downs, the corssed,too
but first i gotta clang clang the rapper's bell to the gong
say up jump the puzzle to the gong blog possie
let's fill, you don't stop
you rock to the riddle that will solve this diddy
well so far you've heard my voice but i brought two friends along
and next on the mike is my man rex
come on, rex, sing that song


Anonymous 9:48 AM  

We had Nehi in Middle Tennessee. Along with a chocolate drink called Yoohoo that I loved for one summer before switchig to the much more sophisticated Fresca.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

We had Nehi in Middle Tennessee. Along with a chocolate drink called Yoohoo that I loved for one summer before switchig to the much more sophisticated Fresca.

Ulrich 10:17 AM  

Last winter, Placido Domingo was an answer in a puzzle, and one of the commenters confessed that he found "acid" in the name and therefore thought the theme was drugs-I thought that was funny, but the point is: Sometimes, it's very interesting to see recognizable words inside other words. I therefore can appreciate theme answers spanning several words and answers hidden inside a word.

As to the puzzle: I had more problems with isolated pockets where I couldn't match clue and possible ansers (WKRP "call letters"? APB "black-and-white boradcast"? Zowie?). On the other hand, knowledge of German helped in guessing an English word, for a change, without applying Bayes theorem: Kerbe means "notch" (possibly by the same derivation that NDE mentions), so KERF was a good guess, in the absence of knowing superman's father.

Loved to see Occam, for sure. But if I applied his razor, I wouldn't have posted this: None of this needs to be said.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

I thought it was funny how many body parts there were, especially in the middle downs: 76A BICEP, 85A TIT, 4D CRAW, 24D NOSES, 38D RIBS, 90D TOE, 106D KNEE, 108D JAW, 110D EAR. Reminds me of going to see The Bodies in New York City.

Rex Parker 10:28 AM  

How's this for awesome coincidence?: if you Google the MONKEES clue, the first hit you get is ... my other, non-crossword website. Woo hoo. I iz in yr internetz!


Anonymous 10:30 AM  

RP -- if you ever come stay with us in MN, we can walk up to the coffee shop or down to the sandwich shop and get peach Nehis -- on me. There are two empty Nehi bottles in my recycling right now.

Rex Parker 10:33 AM  


OK, you're on ... though I hope NEHI has other flavors, because anything peach-flavored is bound to make me barf faster than you can say "Traveling Pants."


Anonymous 10:55 AM  

The clue for PURITANS is one of my favorites in the puzzle. It may be judgmental, but imo it's funny, and there is a similar sense of the word that's in the dictionary:

2. puritan One who ... regards pleasure or luxury as sinful.

That sounds pretty close to a description of "people who no what they like."

Bush I in his 1992 SOTU address used a similar sense of the word:

" kind of remind me of the old definition of the Puritan who couldn't sleep at night, worrying that somehow, someone somewhere was out having a good time."

I'll skip the politics of that, but I think the meaning of the word "puritan" today is much broader than just the Protestant group that lived centuries ago, and if the word is not entirely neutral or complimentary, that's just the way it is.

- john farmer

Bill from NJ 11:31 AM  

First entry: ALEMEDA and all the associated downs which gave me LEGALDRINKINGAGE and the theme right out of the box.

I swept down the West Coast and made a sweep through the SE and across the Deep South, skipped over the Delmarva penninsula and into the NE and moved into the Midlands.

For some reason, I had ESCAPE HATCH because I didn't check the theme and that held me up for a time until I realized that CAPEH made no sense and I had SAPIENS at 45A. I finally saw ENYA at 39D and remedied my problem.

I got the abominable FORKERS but was left with a 4 square box that included 69 and 70A and the two squares below them and stared at them for such a long time. I couldn't get away from IHOP or some variation on it for the breakfast place and was stuck on fruit for Raspberries, couldn't figure out what BIC** meant and was stuck.

I went to breakfast (at Perkins, my favorite place), haunted by those four squares, wondering what relation **TS had to Takes, with for.

I came back, stared for a while and finally went to JimH for some help, had a DOH moment and finished.

I am not proud of the fact that I needed help to finish what I saw as a simple puzzle.

chefbea 11:35 AM  

very easy and fun sunday puzzle. I put I-Hop in right away then of course nothing else fit.

Could someone please explain occam. I don't get it

@rex - Maybe Emily could make individual t-shirts for us ( I plan on attending). We could each pay for our own; the grid would have both our blog name and our real name

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

(a) So the actual names of the 3 stooges are common knowledge? (except for moi). Probably so.
(b) 101A - APB. Black-and-white what? Someone please help me here.

Ulrich 11:54 AM  

@chefbea1: William of Occam--see here to learn about his razor.

PuzzleGirl 11:55 AM  

@joaneee: An APB (all points bulletin) is broadcast to black-and-whites (i.e., police cars).

chefbea 12:04 PM  

@ulrich thanks for the Occam link. I now understand.

Guess we will have baked beans with our franks for dinner. I of course like to doctor them up a bit

HudsonHawk 12:14 PM  

@joaneee, before my time, but there were four stooges that I can name--Larry, Moe and Curly most commonly, and then Shemp. I believe Shemp came along as a replacement for Curly in later years...

foodie 12:17 PM  

Why is HoJo a breakfast spot? I'm assuming it stands for Howard Johnson's, so it's a hotel, no? Are they famous for breakfast?

I found the puzzle a good match for Sunday, with some easy patches and others that required working the little gray cells. Many good things to say about it, but I was not very excited about the theme phrases per se, even though the theme itself was clever.

@Ulrich: I believe APB refers to All Point Bulletin from/to black and white police cars. Call letters means the identification code for radio and TV stations, and "WKRP in Cincinnati" was a the name of the TV station on the show. It had Dr. Johnny Fever, a great character (and a possible way to clue fever a bit differently).

foodie 12:29 PM  

Re Occam's Razor: it's amazing that this principle is so helpful. As scientists, we rely on it quite often in our thinking, minimizing assumptions unless we are forced by empirical evidence to add new ones. But I actually wonder why this should be the case... Biology sometimes does not care for parsimony, it has a trial and error aspect to it that is not logical. And redundancy not only emerges in the process, but has some value. There, Occam's razor can actually be misleading.

Ulrich 12:34 PM  

@foodie: Thx--I knew WKRP b/c it still is one of my favorite sitcoms of all time--I just didn't know what "call letters" meant in this connection.

fikink 1:21 PM  

Rex, must take exception to your calling "KERF" an absurdity. Mr. Fikink and brother (yes, the "dit-dit-dit dah-dah-dah dit-dit-dit" brother, see yesterday's post) were just this past June building a deck and Dit told Fik (Iowa rappers,they?) to make sure the kerfs met!
@ulrich, must be the german in him!


Jeff 1:31 PM  

I found this puzzle to be super easy. I've never been a big fan of the "Circle Some of the Letters in the Long Answers and Call It a Theme" style, but this one was as good as that genre gets. The fill was fresh and fun (I liked WKRP, GEHRIG, MONKEES, SIMIAN, et al) and avoided too much crosswordy nonsense. The stuff I didn't already know (REZA, ZAK, TSURIS, KERF, MOG) didn't seem unfair and were gettable from the crosses.

I liked seeing HOJO in the puzzle. I'm a little too young to remember when Howard Johnson restaurants were popular (there are only 3 left-- including one in my mom's hometown of Bangor, ME), but they harken back to a simpler time and are archetypically Americana.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Thanks, puzzlegirl and hudsonhawk!

dk 2:09 PM  

@barry, are not FORKERS some type of British plane? Zeros, in some war, were the Japanese planes so maybe they eschewed as they were enemies.

@saun, where are you in MN.

Good puzzle. no need "splainin" it.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

rex: merl had a great sunday crosswords shirt about opera for dogs

jae 3:23 PM  

Not much to say about this one. Easy, pleasant, and getting the theme helped. Nice Sun. puzzle.

@dk -- the Fokker D-VII was a German WWI fighter. I think I built a model of one when I was a kid.

Jeff 3:44 PM  

The Fokker V.4 was flown by The Red Baron (both the real German pilot, Manfred von Richthofen, and the Peanuts character) during WWI. Snoopy (and the British) flew Sopwith Camels. These factoids are known by me from listening to a "Snoopy and the Red Baron" 45RPM when I was a kid.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

The only comment I planned to make today was about 7D ... I thought the clue was ridiculous ... but Rex beat me to it. But upon arriving here I want to join @bill from nj @cea and @barry: FORKERS!!?????????????? That is so totally made up for this puzzle it's, well, more ridiculous than 7D.

fikink 4:07 PM  

Maybe WWI GIs called their entrenching tools "forkers"?

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

I never had a peach Nehi in Minnesota, but I did go to high school there with WKP's Loni Anderson (a striking brunette at the time).

fergus 5:39 PM  

Bill Gates' wife won't be pleased that I had the MELINDA virus sitting in 29D for a while.

I kinda like words like FORKERS, especially with equally absurd Clues.

jeff in chicago 6:19 PM  

A fine sundy for me. the right mix of things I knew and things that made me think. It looked like FORKERS was right early on, but I resisted putting that in because ... well ... it just couldn't be right, right? Oh well.

The very first album I ever bought (you know, those 12-inch discs made of vinyl?) was by the Monkees. I was maybe 12 and a huge fan. Even joined the fan club. My grandmother knitted me a cap like the kind Mike Nesmith wore, though my favorite Monkee was the goofy Mickey Dolenz. I'll stop the embarrassing facts here.

It took me a bit to get past facial grooming to come up with OCCAM, but the answer made me smile. I'm quite the rationalist and wish more people would apply the razor to some of their wacky beliefs. all-time classic. The line: "With God as my witness I swore they could fly" end one of the funniest bits ever aired.

I want Mo G, the rapper, to play a MOOG. Psychedelic rap, perhaps?

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle-- great for a newbie solver. It had plenty of mostly easyish answers interspersed with some tougher fill (ERGOT, MOG, GETZ). No googles on this one for me!

The ESTREET answer was a gimmie for me as I am a Springsteen fanatic, but wondering if others not so obsessed with him may have found it tough. Or is Little Steven's relationship with the band now common knowledge because he was on the Sopranos? I would have loved it to be clued as "The Wild, the Innocent and the _______ Shuffle." Just haven't ever heard the band referred to as it was clued. But I was thrilled to see the mention in the puzzle regardless of the clueing.

Hate to beat a dead cat with the Minnesota connections, but in addition to Ramsey's mention of native Minnesotan Loni Anderson (who supposedly briefly dated my godfather), Peter Tork (Monkee) went to Carleton. I think he dropped out or flunked out.

BTW, not a Sudoku person either, but I never was a Seinfeld fan, and am a FORKER, so I may just be a bit outside of the norm in some areas. . . .


Anonymous 8:56 PM  

Why do people keep complaining about FORKER? It's a valid clue. I mean, it's impossible to guess without a few intersections, but it goes with the clue...

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

The problem with FORKER is that it's not really a word. That is to say, theoretically, it's a word, as the online dictionary lists it as a formation from FORK, but there is no context in which such a word is used. If you Google it, you'll basically get proper names. The ER ending is understood to mean "one who...," but real ER words are professions (writer, dancer, etc.) or commonly identifiable things (tanker, freighter, etc.) You can't just slap an ER on FORK and say that a FORKER is someone or thing that forks. It's just not a word. We don't say, that road forks up ahead; it's a real FORKER. Or, Peter handles a fork so well; he's a real FORKER. Every time I type in FORKER, the spell-check underlines it. That's because IT'S NOT A WORD!! Finally. the 4th-grade snicker factor, given the word's similarity to one that would never be in the crossword, may be in play here as well.

foodie 10:00 PM  

Thank you @Steve I said. That is the perfect reason for objecting to FORKERS. This is not merely obscure, it's made up. Making up words as you go along is a slippery slope for crosswords. So, even though this was gettable, and even funny, it feels important to object to it on principle. I'm really surprised that it got through Will's eagle eye.

Bill from NJ 10:19 PM  

Will Nediger wrote over at Orange's place that his clue for FORKERS was originally Chess players, often but he didn't address why he used that word in the first place. Maybe he was forced into it by the grid.

Joho, he said that the clue for PURITANS was based on his weakness for cringe-worthy puns.

I do wonder , however, why Will Shortz thought the chopsticks clue was better than Mr Nediger's chess clue

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

Meet The Forkers.

(knights are known to be great forkers in chess)

I thought Vic Fleming's 2008
ACPT t-shirt was pretty cool!

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

@bill from nj: I definitely didn't like having to use FORKERS, but I worked on that section for a while, and every other fill I came up with had at least one questionable entry. I opted for this one because FORKERS is at least gettable, though it's contrived, and BICEP isn't too bad.

Bill from NJ 11:45 PM  


I thought the grid had something to do with it but I still like your cluing better. And you are right about BICEP.

It is ironic that that particular area of the puzzle gave me fits.

coldandsleepy 12:14 AM  

You're not alone in your lack of love for Sudoku. I've done it out of desperation on a couple of 10+ hour car rides, but really... there's no art to it. It's just a matter of math. I know I could write a program to solve sudoku for me in an hour or two-- not something I can say about crossword puzzles.

Still... there's no accounting for taste, as they say.

I liked this puzzle, though! Some utterly bizarre fill (I forgot KERF entirely in my writeup, haw) but overall a pleasant experience.

miriam b 3:59 PM  

I don't know what's going on here, but I've written down everything I've fiddled with and have apparently hit pay dirt. I have a new email and a new password, apparently; both results of my son's ministrations. Das war vielleicht ein Schlimmverbesserung.

miriam b 6:46 PM  

I'm not getting followups. I don't need this kind of TSURIS.

Jeffrey 6:48 PM  

miriam , do you know you are posting on Sunday and not Monday?

william 6:39 PM  

LOL @ Meet the Forkers. That's what I thought of when I filled that word in. I enjoyed this puzzle, only because I finished it quickly. I guess that's not a great reason to love it but these types make me feel smart. Two weeks in a row I astounded my co-workers by filling in ink and making few mistakes. When I have trouble I bring the puzzle into the back room...

retired_chemist 1:11 PM  

Occam's Razor IMO cuts both ways. While it does force a proponent of an overcomplicated position to justify the complexity, the Razor deals with disputation and begs the question of truth. In the spectacularly entertaining nonclassical carbonium ion debate of the sixties in organic chemistry, it did serve to require a higher level of evidence that would nave been the case had H. C. Brown not used the Razor.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

I didn't see anybody else call attention to 62D "single malt, for instance." I am pretty sure single malt is WHISKY, not WHISKEY.

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Spooning leads to forking.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. I love middle school humor.

cody.riggs 11:57 AM  

It puzzles me that Rex would call KERF an "absurdity." I use the word all the time, as would anyone involved in woodworking.

cody.riggs 12:06 PM  

I laughed out loud at my one mistake in this puzzle: Assuming [Georgia neighbor] would be KURD or CURD, I wrote in _URD...(didn't know Ringo's son, thought it would be TAD.) Anyway, I then filled in GATEMAN, which placed a "T" at 25A, revealing, you guessed it, TURD.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I'm married to a hardcore CHOPSTICKER, but I prefer an old-fashioned FORK.

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