WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2008 - Joe Krozel (Globe circler of 1889-90 / Ingredient in a witches' brew / Kraut modifier / Mohawked actor 80s TV)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: AEIOU (51D: Language quintet comprising the only elements in the circled boxes)

Maybe the boxes are shaded in your version (the dead tree version). I don't know. At any rate ... vowels! Let's see: four 3x3 squares, symmetrically arranged, all full of vowels and nothing but vowels. I have a simple question: so what? Why? What is the point? I'm sure it's hard to do, making these vowel squares, but here's a new constructing principle for you to consider. A guideline, really: The mere fact that some feat is hard to accomplish does not make it worth doing. What's the logic here? What ties it together? AEIOU? No, not really. I thought *maybe* all those vowels would be represented in each of the four squares, but no. Just vowels, thrown together with no particular purpose. Why four squares? Who knows? Five vowels, four squares. OK. Whatever. Solver enjoyment counts for something, though I think there is a subsection of constructors who really don't care about that (at least one constructor has told me as much). If there is such a thing as having a TIN ear in puzzle construction, it's on display here.

And I could have done without the TORTURED NEGRO (43A: Part of U.N.C.F.)

The poor center of the puzzle - it's like it has no sense of purpose, except perhaps to tell you that your tolerance for iffy is going to be tested to the point that you feel TORTURED (31A: Stretched much too far, as language). I do like RED ARMY (39A: Soviet military force). It's just ... there's no coherence, no zing, no ... just nothing. Vowel boxes.

Furthermore, ANTRE (1A: Cavern). I'll just let that one lie there.

I have decided that Anne MEARA is, by far, the best thing about this puzzle (41D: Stiller's partner).

Theme answers:

Box 1:

  • 13A: Mimicked some farm animals (mOOEd)
  • 17A: Song of praise (pAEAn)
  • 20A: Iowa, for one (SIOUan)
  • 2D: Condition in outer space (nO AIr)
  • 3D: Ingredient in a witches' brew (tOE Of frog) - eye of newt is the only ingredient I know, though this one sounds vaguely familiar
  • 4D: Check the books again (rEAUdit) - ugh

Box 2:

  • 15A: "_____ to please" ("wE AIm")
  • 18A: Longtime morning TV host (Matt LAUEr) - double ugh
  • 22A: "From my perspective ..." ("As I sEE It")
  • 10D: Congers (sEA Eels)
  • 11D: Kraut modifier (sAUEr)
  • 12D: Kid's song refrain (EIEIO)

Box 3:

  • 57A: Relative of a kingfisher (bEE Eater) - joining SCARLET TANAGER on my list of mystery birds
  • 62A: Be idle (lIE Around)
  • 65A: Query at a poker table ("yOU In?")
  • 51D: aEIOu
  • 52D: Prepare for a drive (tEE Up)
  • 44D: Walgreens rival (RitE-AId)

Box 4:

  • 59A: Had dinner at a restaurant (atE OUt)
  • 64A: Rubbish (hOOEy)
  • 67A: Expected (dUE In)
  • 46D: Reject, as an incumbent (votE OUt)
  • 35D: Out of whack (kerflOOEy)
  • 56D: Make aware (cUE In)

OK, intersecting KERFLOOEY and HOOEY is pretty inspired, I guess. Intersecting TYNE (61D: Actress Daly) and STYNE (70A: "Funny Girl" composer) ... I'm sure there's something to do with musicals there, but I don't know what [see second comment of the day for answer]


  • 23A: Remote mail service: Abbr. (RFD) - Rural Free Delivery. You may remember "RFD" from this.
  • 27A: Award place for a green ribbon (fifth) - since "place" means "second" (as in "win, place, and show"), I got a bit confused here. Also thought it might mean "location," as in, say, shoulder or rear end or something.
  • 42A: A, as in Augsburg (ein) - cute ... ish.
  • 5D: "Enid and _____ dine" (palindrome) ("Edna") - why? Why? There are good Ednas in the world. Use them.
  • 16D: Mohawked actor of 1980s TV (Mr. T) - let's check him out:

  • 30D: Easy two-pointer (lay up) - mulled LAY IN for a bit.
  • 32D: Literature class reading (ode) - ironically, this one held me up. Guess I don't teach enough ODEs.
  • 54D: Gearshift sequence (PRNDL) - another "learned it from crosswords" answer
  • 57D: Globe circler of 1889-90 (Bly) - Interesting. I think I know nothing about this. Oh, ignorance, my constant companion. At least it's not that man's man drum circle male encounter group poet guy. Robert BLY, I think.
  • 60D: Seminary degs. (Th.D.s) - Yes, THUDS. That sounds about right.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS God bless Rod Blagojevich for giving me So Much entertainment yesterday. I love that guy! They should put him in some kind of living corruption museum where he could simply recreate his many amusing phone conversations. I would pay to play, I mean watch.


JannieB 9:04 AM  

Totally agree with your opening salvo. I kept looking for a pattern to the encircled vowels - maybe some hidden meaning that surely Rex would ferret out and explain. Alas - there was no rhyme nor reason to it. So we had a themed Saturday and a themeless Wednesday. Whatever is this xworld coming to???

And really -- so many prepositional phrases with lots of redundancy that I didn't think was acceptable. Tsk tsk

imsdave 9:07 AM  

I'm sorry you didn't like this one Rex. I found it stunningly beautiful. I normally detest circle puzzles, but was oddly drawn to this theme.

The Styne/Tyne crossing is brilliant. Jule Styne wrote "Gypsy" and Tyne Daly played Rose in a very good revival of it about 20 years ago.

Kudos to Mr. Krozel from this korner.

Glitch 9:13 AM  

Agree this puzzle not very satisfying, was hoping the effort to solve would lead to a *wow* in the shaded areas --- was more like a *oh, ok*.

In the I-learned-it-from-xwords catagory:

The new naval force to combat piracy in the *Gulf of Aden* is code named *Atalanta*.

*Puzzling* made both terms more familure and understandable.

janie 9:17 AM  

yes, imsdave -- STYNE/TYNE is a beaut -- as is (for my money...) HOOEY/KERFLOOEY. now where's FLAHOOLEY? ;-)

enjoyed this one a lot and admired the construction majorly.

and so it goes, eh?


Doc John 9:22 AM  

And wasn't it just yesterday that I brought up the concept of a crossword that was nothing but gibberish? ;)

OK, so maybe this one wasn't gibberish but there sure was a lot of iffy fill. Iffy- now there's an interesting crossword word, has it been used a lot?
There were a couple of good ones, too- who knew that fifth place's color was green?

Doc John 9:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I agree, crappy puzzle. Not even fun to be so stumped. Antre???

It's Nelly Bly. I did a report on her in the 5th grade. She may be the first celebrity female journalist. She's pretty cool.

imsdave 9:29 AM  

@Doc John (re: green ribbon) - I did, from my high school swimming days - it was my favorite color at the state championships (sigh).

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Rex has often praised consonant collisions, why no respect for criss-crossing 3 consecutive vowels, and 18 theme answers?

Agreed that it would have been nice to get more 'Aha' from the box contents, but I certainly felt the puzzle was challenging enough for a Wednesday.

Crazy to have TORTURED and NEGRO in such close proximity, much less in the same puzzle, but there were other things to admire here, too.

QUEUES is a great word, and it's four-vowel collision did not even make it into a box.

I also liked the symmetry of AEIOU and EIEIO answers, and several things I did not know, but was able to get from crosses:

BUM for Cadge
How to spell D'OEUVRES

I think Joe K deserves Kudos.


Orange 9:35 AM  

Nellie Bly, with an -ie, actually. There's some entertaining stuff in her Wiki writeup. I mean, she's no Blagojevich, but still.

If only there were, say, an R&B singer named Antré.

One crossword convention that I tolerate but don't like is the lopping off of the end of prefixes. Osteo- and osseo- are prefixes, if you ask me. Oste- and osse-, ehhh, not so much. What do dictionaries say? lists oste- as an "also ___" form under osteo-, but lists osseo- alone without osse-. Presumably there is some unabridged dictionary lending support to OSSE as a crossword entry, but it's not pretty.

archaeoprof 9:36 AM  

I agree with Rex about the theme. Tried to find some point to it, then gave up in dis/a-point/ment.

Yesterday SCARLETTANAGER, today BEEEATER. In the desert of Israel and Jordan, bee-eaters dig a small tunnel several inches into hard sand, and build their nest in a cavity at the end of it.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

My ears pricked up when I saw Krozel. Did I mention I'm a horse?

But, alas, I too, was looking for the big reveal in the circled squares and came up with nada.

There are some weird crossings with TEEUP/UPDO and VOTEOUT/ ATEOUT ... UP/UP and OUT/OUT ... but that means nothing and the other two corners have no such repeats. @rex, I LOL at MATT LAUER knowing how you feel about him.

So in the end, realizing the circled letters amounted to nothing but vowels, I was truly disappointed.

I still marvel at Mr. Krozel's construction ability. I'm sure he'll be creating more satisfying puzzles in the future.

Orange 9:38 AM  

P.S. Constructors say it's much easier to work with alternating consonants and vowels than with strings of vowels or strings of consonants, in terms of getting crossings to work. So this puzzle was probably quite difficult to construct. Ideally, the payoff is a highly entertaining puzzle, but I suspect the percentage of solvers who admire a difficult construction is far smaller than the proportion who like fun crosswords.

Unknown 9:55 AM  

Disquiet and the Night
--Gabriel Garcia Lorca

Bee-eating bird.
In the dark of your trees.
Night of skies slurred
and tongue-tied air.

Three drunks perpetuate
motions of wine and grief, blurred.
The leaden stars pirouette
on one foot.
Bee-eating bird.
In the dark of your trees.

Aching temples confined
in a garland of minutes deferred.
What of your silence? The three
naked drunks are singing.
A backstitch in virgin silk:
your song.
Bee-eating bird.
Heard, slurred, blurred, deferred.
Bee-eating bird.

And my parents thought that poetry major was useless :D

But I agree that the puzzle felt a little bland. When you see that many circles on the grid, you expect something a little more dazzling.

sillygoose 9:59 AM  

I dunno, I kinda liked this one. At least knowing the theme helped me to get the answers.

Antre/Edna was a little ouchy, (I had antra adna for the longest time), but kerflooey/hooey makes up for that.

I remember getting a green ribbon in a horse show once, but I'm pretty sure it was for sixth place.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Hooey. Or, maybe kerflooey. Zipped through this one for some reason, but really didn't care.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I would agree with the comment above that if we accept consonant strings as themes, this puzzle's theme is acceptable. However, I did not like at all that the theme was telegraphed by the circled or shaded boxes. If 51D's clue had been "Quintet boxed four times in this puzzle" and the circles/shading were removed, the puzzle would have had a better payoff.

sillygoose 10:16 AM

Green is sixth place (in the U.S.), does it change sport by sport?

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

Rex is my advocate today, I share his experience; I realised the gimmick and thought, what's the point? Too many black squares, and no entertainment value.

I've saved favourite puzzles made by the best U.S. compilers whose talent lies in making difficult puzzles that are fun to solve. I wish this newspaper would publish more from the top puzzle writers, like M. Nosowsky.

ArtLvr 10:31 AM  

Oh boy, "blog GOY of itch" -- Too bad his stuff does not meet the breakfast test... but I like Rex's idea of an audible Museum.

ArchAEOprof should have been in this puzzle! I'm glad to picture our birds' pecking a tunnel in hot hard sand to hold their nesting hideaway.

And thanks to Matthew for the Lorca poem -- can we read "aching temples" in two ways? Forlorn ruins and pounding headaches?

@ Bill from NJ -- try and click on out-of-print books at the top: you may find a copy of your cherished book from younger days!


Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I stumbled badly in the NW, first putting in ABYSS for "Cavern" which crossed nicely with AMPS, but left me with SDNA for the middle of the palindrome. Foolishly, I left it and moved on.

I then decided that 3D was obviously EYE OF NEWT, which again left me in much trouble, since the animal now MOYED and Northern California was nothing buy a bunch of random letters. However, that did still seem somewhat possible, since the place for the green ribbon was NINTH, which made as much sense to me as FIFTH - thinking that maybe you got the green ribbon on the 9th hole in gold - what do I know, I've never held a golf club in my hand in my life - unless mini golf counts!

Only when I found the clue answer did I know that Y couldn't be in the square (hey, AEIOU and sometimes Y....) did I give up on EYE OF NEWT.

When TORTURED, IDO,and NEGRO finally led me to FROG, and then TOE OF FROG, I had to OED ANTRE since I had never heard of it, but then everything fell into place at last.

Do people going to a PROM still get an UPDO??

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@sillygoose Thanks, I was going to raise that point. I've got more green ribbons than I'm proud to admit. On second thougth, maybe I'll agree with the puzzle, and pretend all my sixth places were fifths.

PS: I've forgotten where/when the first meeting of the Clueless Society is.

Unknown 10:51 AM  

Ugh! Frederico Garcia Lorca, I meant. Did I mention I never studied? :D

@ArtLvr: Sure, I like that interpretation. A bit gets lost in the translation though. In the Spanish, the beeeater gets some dialogue ("uco uco uco uco!"). But it messes up the rhyme scheme in English. Too bad.

Jeffrey 10:53 AM  

Is G a vowel? I thought so, as I put COG OF FROG, despite knowing the theme. That says it all for this puzzle.

Let's talk about today's real excitement, the two clips. How did I grow up and miss MR T singing and the epic game show YACHTZE/YAHTAZEE/YAgh..whatever...
Somehow those did not seem to cross the border.

We had "great" game shows too...HEADLINE HUNTERS and DEFINITION, both with Jim Perry.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

It seems that lately we have been subjected to too many puzzles that seem to be written only for the pleasure of other constructors. What about us poor folks who pony up to buy the paper? Aren't we supposed to be having fun? I already admire the feat of writing a puzzle. Enough already.

edith b 10:58 AM  

Doc John, you were presient yesterday in positing a theme that was all gibberish as that is exactly what we got today.

I kept looking for the Next Level but finally realized it wasn't there. I agree 100% with Rex that because a feat is difficult it doesn't necessarily make it worth doing especially when the trade-off is a puzzle chock-a-blok full of crappy fill like YOUIN IDO ASKTO DUEIN CLUEIN ASTO cheek-by-jowl with abbreviations scattered throughout.

Maybe the juxtaposition of TORTURED and NEGRO is coincidental but, by God, I don't like it.

SethG 11:24 AM  


JK wrote a few of my favorite puzzles of the year, but this was ugh-ly.

So I could tell you about spelling hors d'OEUvres, about another game show with Jo Anne Worley, about a great pick-up line I wrote, about Andrea's fantastic story about Matt Lauer and an Oscar, or more.

But instead, I'll just encourage you to watch Rex's Mr. T video if you haven't yet, link to some bee-eater pictures Phil took (Northern Carmine, Cinnamon-Chested) Phil took, and slink away.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

I've gotten a couple green ribbons for honorable mention at our local fair, I thought they were equivalent of fourth place.

I had OSTE for bony prefix, and figured TAUER was some random German adjective. For tallness.

chefbea 12:44 PM  

I liked the puzzle. Had psalm for 17A and that screwed up the northwest. Now I think I will remember how to spell hors d'oeuvres.

I'm a Bea and I like to eat.

Shamik 12:47 PM  

Ok. I liked the vowel soup. And yes, it necessitated, odd fill. It was quirky. Scariest thing was the Yahtzee game show: hair, clothes, lame jokes, Peter Marshall. I shudder.

EYEOFNEWT for TOEOFFROG (all those recipe issues)

My favorite: PRNDL

jae 12:49 PM  

I'm with Rex et. al. on this one. I really wanted to like it but came away meh. I was at least hoping that the vowel patterns would somehow be identical/symetrical or???, but no. I too had NEWT/NINTH for a while.

My rule that "if it looks off it probably is" is getting pummeled this week with CONTE yesterday and ANTRE today.

I was in grad school in the 70s at Chambana, Ill. when Dan Walker ran for gov. He coined the term police riot to describe the 68 Chicago convention. We campaigned for him as he seemed to be the answer the corrupt politics that plagued Ill. Alas, he too turned out to be a crook. Those who ignore history are .....

Pete M 12:52 PM  

@Rex: You learned PRNDL from puzzles?? Have you never been in a car that has automatic transmission?

Debsanger 12:53 PM  

Is "cue in" really an expression?

I don't know why you'd need the "in" -- or is it a mistake for "clue in"?

I tried googling "cue in" as a phrase and there warn't much.

jeff in chicago 1:01 PM  

THUD, indeed. Though I certainly agree with Orange, in that I have a high level of respect for the feat of construction here. (Orange: Did you get my e-mail?)

I did like the HOOEY/KERFLOOEY cross. And (partly) outside the circles we have AEIOU (well, I guess we HAD to have that one!) and EIEIO.

The Yahtzee clip was interesting. Those are 5 of the funniest people ever. But did that seem to be the worst game show ever? It apparently only existed for about 9 months. And according to Wikipedia, "financial problems kept the producers from being able to pay some contestants." Ouch!

BEEEATER is dangerously close to BEETEATER. (Yeah...I said it!)

Finally, as a resident of Illinois, I would like to apologize for our governor, both for his actions and for his hair.

dk 1:07 PM  

I raise my glass to both the forgotten sometime vowel Y and the missing S from the shift pattern.

I liked the puzzle and found the box-o-vowels creative. Find all those three vowel sting words cannot be easy.

So more hurray than HOOEY from me.


dk 1:08 PM  


Vega 1:11 PM  

I'm with Rex and others who were not crazy about this puzzle. Such an unsatisfying end after the initial excitement of seeing all those circled boxes and waiting for the delicious revelation.

I feel like EIEIO is cheating.

About the tension between admiring construction and wanting a fun puzzle, as it relates to consonant or vowel collisions: for me, consonant collision turns fun when it's unearthed and suddenly the "...CGQ..." turns out to be right after all, oh my goodness isn't that clever. Vowel collision doesn't do that for me.

DOEUVRES is the first time I knew the answer and couldn't write it in because I didn't know how to spell it -- teeth-gnashingly frustrating.

Pythia 1:29 PM  

News flash: The New York Times announced this morning that the entity formerly known as Crossword|Edited by Will Shortz shall henceforth be titled Crossword with Joe Krozel and Guests|Edited by Will Shortz.

Didn't care much for this, either. Arbitrary task to make vowel blocks -- accomplished. Shouldn't all five vowels appear in each block? Some nice vocabulary, but so much pizazzlessness, and then there's the wasteland in the center, one third of the grid. All felt more ugh-ly than elegant, alas.


Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I agree with RP if he means that Joe Krozel thought more about cute construction than about enjoyable solve. As a consumer of the NYT puzzle I find it aggravating to learn that a constructor may produce a product for reasons other than their customer’s enjoyment. Flex your constructorial muscles on your own $1.50. I hate talking out of school like this when I know these constructors may read this but seriously – just because it ain’t easy to make don’t make it fun to do!
@Vega – welcome to my no can spel world! I struggle daily remembering the order, quantity and constituent letters of even English words.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:51 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, perhaps because for me impressive construction alone does add to the pleasure. (Sorry, Rex.)

It is also my pleasure to come a-cropper a bit, and I always have some trouble with multi-vowel words, like d'oeuvres (to echo Vega), paean, Siouan (what, no X?), sometimes even good old sauer.

But I don't remember the last time that 1A was my very last fill!

Bob Kerflooey, er, Kerfuffle

HudsonHawk 1:59 PM  

I also had high expectations when I saw the shaded areas and Joe's name. I didn't hate it, but definitely not JK's best. It is interesting that Hor DOEUVRES and QUEUES made the grid but not in the shaded areas.

chefbea 2:05 PM  

@jeff in chicago Now why didn't I think of that???

Chip Hilton 2:18 PM  

Clever, I guess, but the random collection of vowels disappointed me. Also, shouldn't 1-across be an answer with which the masses are familiar? ANTRE was new(s) to me. It was like starting a round of golf with a killer double-dogleg, 600 yard par five!

The disgraced governor needs a nickname. The Lying Illini sounds good but the Buying Illini might be more appropriate. Hope he gets a buzz cut in the Big House (ahem...should he be proven guilty).

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Icky puzzle. Thank you, Rex, for exposing the TORTURED-NEGRO proximity, which is distasteful and out of touch. the Times needs to hire new editors with contemporary sensibilities. this puzzle feels old and tired, a throwback to the 1950s. News flash: People of Color solve puzzles too . . .

Orange 2:23 PM  

@jeff in chicago, can you re-send? I don't see anything in my in-box.

nanpilla 2:26 PM  

New word today:

is that pronounced like

which would come after the word that I can NEVER, EVER spell:

Is that right?!?

By the way, I reserved my room for the ACPT. Thanks for all of the advice from everyone a couple of weeks ago. Anyone else from South Jersey going?

fikink 2:28 PM  

I must add my layman's agreement with Orange re: osse, as a prefix. bad!
And now to a word of thanks to
1. Matthew for the poem which I would never have read if not here
2. artlvr for helping me remember how to pronounce Blagojevich, the best since Maureen Dowd helped me remember "I'm a dinnerjacket," of Iran.
3. Jeff, for apologizing for Goy's hair
4. jae, who reminds us of how important knowledge of history is.

Comments today are really making up for the puzzle.
Rex, you are spot on as to the entertainment value of Blog Goy of Itch.

@chip, The Lying Illini - I like it!

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

NEGRO is an outdated term for a black person, but when in use, it was not an offensive word. The racial slur that grew out of it is a different word. NEGRO only continues to exist in English in remnants such as the UNCF and the Negro Leagues (of baseball). And I don't think the fact that TORTURED is two lines up from it is a problem unless you're looking for something to pick on. That being said, you could clue NEGRO as Black, in Barcelona. Ebon, on the Ebro. Cafe _____. Blanco y ______. ¿Habla español?

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

@fikink--Is Blog Goy of Itch a slur against Gentiles?

evil doug 2:41 PM  

I didn't get the memo on "Negro". I think of it as dated, but not offensive. To be honest, beyond the horrible "n"-word, I've lived through Negro, colored, black, African-American, maybe others---and I'm frankly not sure which terms are out of vogue and which people of color currently prefer.

I'm willing, even eager, to comply; not for "politically correct" reasons, but rather simply to be correct, ethical, thoughtful, courteous, and effective in communicating. I teach my students that it's appropriate to use terms that members of a given group prefer---gay/lesbian instead of homosexual, so forth.

I prefer "American" to Afro-American, Irish-American, Mexican-American or similar hyphenated terms. I find those outdated and self-segregating. I'm not even so sure I like being called "white", or "anglo", or "Caucasian", but nobody asks me.

Also: It's a crossword puzzle. This habit of reading too much into the relative juxtaposition of answers seems excessive and convoluted. "Buxom" was one of the Jumble solutions today. Perhaps the use of "nipple" yesterday denotes a multi-puzzle conspiracy.


Anonymous 3:01 PM  

@Orange, 9:35
Osseous and ossein are parsed by this dictionary in a way that supports this entry.

On antique terms for "black" -- if the United Negro College Fund (or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for that matter) hasn't felt compelled to update their names, how offensive can these terms be?

Should that be "haven't felt compelled"? "Rewrite to avoid question" will not be a satisfying answer, by the way.

mac 3:12 PM  

@Wade: Yahtzee!

Odd how that came up yesterday. Something similar happened to me. My husband used the word picaresque and explained the meaning to me, and this morning I read it in Scott Turow's column on the op-ed page.

I have to agree with a lot of the above, but I do like the feat of just vowels in the shaded squares.
I also started with psalm, and instead of ode I was thinking HDL or RLS, but I don't get how anyone can fail to get Edna. Never heard of hooey or kerflooey, but this was one instance where the theme helped me out. It all felt a little.... tortured.

fikink 3:13 PM  

@steve - gee, I didn't think so. I was referring to ArtLvr's mnemonic for our, er...Illinois' governor's name. (see above @ 10:31).

hazel 3:56 PM  

Count me in the group that admires difficult constructions and likes to have fun. Maybe I have a pretty low bar - but I find it to be the rare puzzle that isn't fun to me. Only those puzzles that have cluing "stretched much too far" - so that it feels forced - irritate me. That recent Sunday that everyone hated would be an example of that.

I definitely didn't think this puzzle was boring, beneath me, or politically incorrect. I thought the vowel jumbles were pretty cool and liked kerflooey, hooey, prndl, and the clue for tortured, included above.

What are the criteria for crossworder "fun" anyway? Seems like it would be quite difficult for a constructor to satisfy 1000s of different personal concepts of fun.

fergus 4:04 PM  

This took quite a while since I was thinking of some obscure Language group that only contained vowels -- just the opposite of Hebrew, I guess. And wondering why it was flummoxing me more than a Wednesday should.

I was a bit surprised that there wasn't more love for the novelty factor going on today. I'm impressed when any constructor can come up with a new (to me, anyway) twist within the general constraints. Of course, I don't think the dissenters are wrong, but my sense of puzzle aesthetics felt rather pleased with the whole thing.

green mantis 4:26 PM  

We never, Never, put toe of frog in the pot. Makes the brew too hoppy.

I'll be here all week.

Orange 4:28 PM  

Martin, if the second item is staying in the parens with an "or," you need a singular verb and presumably pronoun. "X and Y haven't ...their names" or "X (or Y) hasn't ...its name." Your combo was a bastard child of a construction (so to speak).

Hungry Bird 4:35 PM  


Click on the speaker icon to hear the pronounciation of the cavernous answer:

Hungry Bird 4:36 PM  

@anyone who is link literate,

I could also use instructions on how to post a link directly.


RodeoToad 4:48 PM  

jeff in chicago, my governor's hair can beat up your governor's hair. [insert picture of Rick Perry's hair here.]

Nobody's really being serious about being offended by seeing TORTURED and NEGRO in the same general area of the puzzle, right?


Ulrich 4:49 PM  

I agree with Rex et al. about the value of the puzzle--I never understood why the fact that someting is difficult to do is in and of itself a cause for admiration (does synchronized swimming ring a bell? Ouch--I'm already ducking the missives coming my way).

What finally turned me against the puzzle was the fact that there are some vowel accumulations (qUEUEs, dOUEvres) that occur naturally, but are not inside the featured boxes: They demonstrate exactly why some of the vowel accumulations inside the boxes feel so strained. It's like having a fixed-course dinner of indistinct value at a restaurant, only to discover later that some of the a la carte items on the menu are better--it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Unknown 4:51 PM  

Perhaps Noam or joon, who a have the background, can comment on the 24 permutations of 5 possible fill where you repeat no pattern in the across or the down schemes. It seems that the underlying math makes the construction more than just running a lot of vowels together. What is missing from this list?


Combing the down and across fills you get four repeats, but isn't this pretty amazing?

mac 4:52 PM  

Why shiver me timbers! Someone pulled a Green Mantis! I would have sworn SCOTUS Addict was a male.....

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

@hazel - my thoughts.
Like I said I don’t like hypercritical posts from the uninitiated – which I consider myself.
It seems that occasionally puzzles reach a Zen like transcendence where they provide a challenging and entertaining solve while maintaining construction integrity. More frequently puzzles seem to fall out of balance to one side of the construction/solution spectrum – as one would logically expect (and worse some bungle both all together). Given the rarity of a let’s say a Buddha puzzle I prefer the puzzles that provide enjoyable solves since from the solvers perspective (i.e. me) the construction plays a passive/decorative role and the solving provides an active enjoyment.
Moreover I think it logical to assume constructors create puzzles for solvers therefore solving should predominate and construction should be the cherry on top – not the sundae itself. (What a crappy mixed metaphor but I’ve reached the end of my Buddhism). Sometimes constructors create constructorcentric puzzles to the detriment of the solve and that seems to me antithetical. (Maybe not the right use of antithetical but I needed a word with some oomph and antithetical definitely has oomph).
So there you have a hypercritical post from an uninitiated.

mac 4:57 PM  

@Phillysolver: that definitely adds a lot to the puzzle.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

@Wade - I wasn't but now!!!!!

3 and out.

Rex Parker 5:01 PM  

I'm interested in being offended, just to see what would happen ...

But no. My eyes see TORTURED NEGRO in close proximity - it's an unfortunate phrase. But my eyes see what they see. It's not like the answer was TORTUREDNEGRO. Now THAT would have been f'd up.

But whoever asked about how "Negro" could be offensive if it's still being used ... seriously? That's a real question? If you want to know how it's possible, just go anywhere there happen to be black people and start using the word. If we hear back from you, I'm sure the news will not be good. E.D. is right about the general principle: call people what they'd like to be called. That said, I have Never liked the phrase "Person of Color." Not snappy enough, and, frankly, it's just a bad revision of "colored person" (which I would also counsel you not to use around black people, despite its being part of the still-existent NAACP).

And yes, I say "black" and not "African-American." Don't like it? As Frank Sinatra sang, "Sue Me."


Hungry Bird 5:02 PM  

@mac, just checked, and I'm still a girl. I am very tall though, and get called sir if I get my hair gut too short and wear unisex baggy clothes. Not sure how you picked up on that through the ether. Impressive!

That being said, are you one of the whiz people (gender neutral no assumptions here) who can tell me how to post a link and avoid posting the URL?

PS: What made you think I'm a boy?

fikink 5:05 PM  

@mac, Re: SCOTUS -Me, too! I had envisioned a tall (probably because I am and see everybody that way, tho' I never thought Rex was THAT tall!) 30-something male appellate lawyer in SCOTUS...sheesh!
(Mantis, I don't think I ever told you this, but I knew of you before coming here, having read about your work on Boing Boing. Imagine that!)

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

Bring back Manny Nosowsky!

Hungry Bird 5:11 PM  


Oh boy. How'm I gonna 'splain this to my husband? I blog boy. Sheesh.

I am not an attorney. I'm a forensic psychiatristt. SCOTUS Addict was not my nom de blog of choice, which was snarkygirl, and alas, already taken. This despite my yelling DIBS.

I picked SCOTUS Addict because at the time I signed up for google/blogger one of the cases I was an expert on was in front of the Supreme Court. The attorneys and I were all waiting for their decision to come down, and had to wait until THE VERY LAST DECISION OF THE YEAR. Made us crazy. I got addicted to a SCOTUS blog during that time.

Ulrich 5:12 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict. Since the spot light is on you: How does addiction to the Supreme Court of the United States manifests itself?

Hungry Bird 5:17 PM  


1. Staying up all night in the freezing cold in March in DC when you are WAY TOO OLD FOR THAT $*@) to get in to see the oral argument in a case you already know backwards and forwards.

2. Jonesing for and checking it before you even check your e-mail in the morning.

3. Entering betting pools on how the justices will vote on cases of interest and not-so-much-interest.

4. Watching confirmation hearings on C-SPAN.

5. Referring to Justices by their last names only.

6. Developing a crush on Souter.

Two Ponies 5:19 PM  

I think that if we start assigning significance to the proximity of answers in a puzzle we are damning ourselves to a fatal choke-hold of PC-ness.
I also agree the the hyphenated American is (hopefully) going the way of the dinosaurs. We're all just Americans.

hazel 5:54 PM  

@rafaeltmf thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on what makes a good puzzle...

i'm also a newbie so can't really relate to some of the finer points discussed here re: characteristics of good/bad puzzles. What makes something fun (and therefore a good puzzle) still seems to me to be a pretty individual thing...

That being said, I think I understand your point - you prefer to see a puzzle stand on its own merits, and don't want to see the "hand" of the constructor in the background - particularly if he seems to be patting himself on the back!

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

Wow! Just goes to prove what my old geometry teacher said: "When you assume, you make an 'ass' of 'u' and 'me'." All along I had assumed that SCOTUS Addict was a follower of Duns Scotus. But SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the US) is a cousin of POTUS!

What's in a name, after all?

Bob Kerfuffle

fergus 6:25 PM  

I, too, felt like SCOTUS sounded masculine. The acronym, not that I even recognized it as such, never revealed itself to me until today -- even though I'm always deciphering vanity license plates.

Sometimes I don't think, and just leave things as they are.

RodeoToad 6:26 PM  

Scotus, does a forensic psychiatrist read dead people's minds? If so, you could help me out a lot.

fikink 6:35 PM  

@SCOTUS, as I recall, the Supreme Court recently reviewed the Constitutionality of putting to death mentally disabled/challenged people. Is this the case you were involved in or do I have it conflated with some other issue before the court? (Or can you even say?)

p.s. I knew you were tall, too, because you have a deep voice. ;-)

mac 6:39 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict: so that's what it is about. Now I will never shorten your name to SCOTUS! I think I thought you were a male because of little quirks of language here and there. I don't think many females use "sheesh". And should we call you Emily? I think PhillySolver is good at this stuff, as are probably many more, but I'm not.....

I agree that this African-American business is nonsense, would I be European-American? I don't have a problem with negro, though, since it is just a description of the race, and I have noticed lately that "black" is used more and more.
But ED's point is exactly right, you don't want to use a word that would be upsetting to a person.

jeff in chicago 6:41 PM  

@fergus: If you like vanity plates, you may like (or already know about) this site.

@orange: I re-sent that e-mail at 2:45 (not to hurry you in any way; just to see if it got there this time)

Vega 6:45 PM  

Veering crazily from the puzzle for a moment...and to add another data point, I am, and refer to myself as, Indian-American, not just American. I actually don't think we hyphenated animals will go the way of the dinosaur, and I think that's not a bad thing. I respectfully disagree with our esteemed President-Elect on that one, though I get how it was a good rhetorical tool for him to use during his speeches.

I also refer to myself as a person of color. Rex, this is the second time this week that I've heard someone say they don't like that phrase, and I'd never heard that before. I'm just so very used to it that it doesn't even occur to me to "look" at it.


Hungry Bird 6:50 PM  

@Wade, actually, yes, some of our cases involve trying to re-construct the mental state of dead people. Two types that come to mind are disputed wills (aka "testamentary capacity") and equivocal death evaluations (ie, was the person suicidal when they died? This comes up when the family wants the life insurance $ and there is a suicide exclusion in the policy for example.)

@fikink, that was a great case, but not mine. Mine was Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Hamdan was, until about ten days ago, a Guantanamo detainee who had been bin Laden's driver. He is now in his home country, Yemen, due to be released from prison there on 12/27 or so. I evaluated him for the Guantanamo (military commissions) case against him, but got really interested in his federal case, which involved separation of powers and Geneva Conventions issues raised in the commissions process, which he won at the SCOTUS. Sort of.

@Mac, call me anything but "late for dinner." Most people, patients too (not implying anything regarding your sanity, legal or otherwise, here) call me Emily. "Sheesh" IMHO is a New Yorker'ish expression. Or maybe Bugs Bunny, as in, "Sheesh! What a ma-roon!"

mac 7:05 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict: you are right, I now remember Bugs Bunny using that expression. I am New Yorker'ish, so should have heard it here.
What an interesting job you have!

Glitch 7:19 PM  

Was out most of the day, so just catching up. Generally like to make my comments closer to the posts, hopefully they won't take as much scrolling to follow as I needed in order to catch up!

However, just deleted all my pithy comments and barbs in view of the SOTUS exchanges.

Welcome SOTUS --- you just saved several (including me) from having to defend our honor(s)!

Will save my deles for next time (it won't be long).

Glitch 7:21 PM  

oops --- SCOTUS, aplogies

fergus 7:36 PM  

How peculiar. I cued up "The Paper Chase" last night and one of the plot lines, so to speak, dealt with the contract liabilities of the deceased.

This was a movie, that despite being released in 1973, didn't seem all that dated.

edith b 7:37 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict-

When I was in college, I was told by an instructor that my prose was "muscular" and he could not tell my gender by my writing.

I assumed the same thing about you because your writing style is also muscular. Today, when you asked for help with links, you listed your email address with a female name, so I could tell your gender from that and was surprised.

I deliberately picked a female name for my nom de crossword for the very reason indicated above.


As a white woman married to a black man, I don't know whether I am serious or not about being offended by the proximity of TORTURED to NEGRO in the puzzle.

As a matter of principle, I don't believe in Political Correctness but my eye can't help what it sees at first glance and, if you are in my position, it does sort of leap out at you, doesn't it?

PlantieBea 8:01 PM  

I waited all day to do this puzzle. It looked fun, but blah, was a disappointment. Count me in the the thumbs down group.

New words for me: ANTRE, BEEEATER, and BLY.

fergus 8:25 PM  

Let us recognize that many of our notions of those outside our cultural norm were set at a very youthful age, and that it's still possible that we harbor these received offending interpretations, no matter how quickly our wiser interpretations quickly shoot them down. Nearly every negative classification comes with some inherent reaction that only reason can assuage.

Let us also recognize that an overly accommodating reaction is equally at blame.

jae 8:39 PM  

@SCOTUS -- I had you pegged as a male also (green mantis too a long time ago).

Rex Parker 8:47 PM  

This is not a chatroom. Three comments per day, please, and keep your comments on the puzzle (mostly).

We all love SCOTUS, but enough.


miriam b 9:10 PM  

@Matthew: Interesting poem by FEDerico Garcia Lorca.

I'm aggrieved over the fact that HORSDOEUVRES is now apparently widely accepted as the plural form of "hors d'oeuvre." The term means literally "outside of the work" = extra stuff. I think of it as a mass phrase with no plural. Native Francophones please confirm.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

@SCOTUS Addict
I thought you were male bec I "perceived" SCOTUS as a torutred version of SCOTT.

How very "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"! :)

As a solver, I'm very aware of words proximity shouting out to/at me!

It's not lookng for a conspiracy reading into a puzzle or to consider proximity of words as synchronicty or tone poems or whatever, therein lies the joy!

(Emily Cureton has based a wonderful career on that!)

Most of the time I love it, some of the times I hate it, or at least find it ironic or blissfully unaware, like when NAZI crossed MEIR a few weeks back.

Switching hats, speaking as a constructor, (or as Jane Doh hilariously pointed out, occasional "guest") I'm super/hyper aware of words in the fill and what is next to what...
almost obsessively so.!
(just as Michael Blake or any of my co-conspirators/constructors!)

I still say entertainment HAS to trump constructive feats, but of course BOTH would be the best case scenario. Look at Ashish (insert long crazy last name here) or Kevin Der or Patrick Blindauer!

For the record, if any one wants to know MY preference in being addressed, I prefer "person lacking color" or, if push comes to shove, "negress".

chefbea 9:34 PM  

@miriamb I think Hors doeuvre is singular. Hors doeuvres is plural. I can make one hors doeuvre for a party or many hors doeuvres.

fergus 9:53 PM  

Negress Andrea,

what a dulcet tone
to come from one
clipped blonde Jewess

mac 10:45 PM  

@fergus and andrea: what a diverse group Rex has brought together on this site. After meeting a couple of them in person, I can tell the rest of you that it only gets better! Get your reservations for Feb/March!

miriam b 11:52 PM  

chefbea, I insist that the plural is properly hors d'oeuvre, and that the "s" sneaked in there when we weren't looking.

Vega 12:35 AM  

Oh Andrea, if there is anything you are not lacking, it is color!

Christopher Casúr 1:40 AM  

I wasn't entirely thrilled about this puzzle, but I've seen far worse.

I'm sort of disappointed that Krozel didn't take the low road and throw a Y into one of the squares. I remember being taught A, E, I O, U, and sometimes Y.

Unknown 1:18 PM  

From Wikipedia:
The French (singular and plural) is hors d'œuvre; in English, the œ ligature is usually replaced by the 2-letter sequence "oe" with the plural often written as "hors d'oeuvres" ...

Old Al 4:38 PM  

I agree with Rex. I am reminded of Samuel Johnson's observation about a dog walking on its hind legs: it's not that he can do it so well, but that he can do it at all. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you have to do it.

When it fell into place (which it did quite quickly in the New England corner) I thought that all four squares might be exactly the same. No that would have been an accomplishment.

My final reaction was, "Well, that was interesting. Boring, but interesting."

Sharon 5:03 PM  

@ matthew
There's a rhyme scheme?
After rereading: Well, sometimes.
Thanks to whoever posted the beautiful bird photos.
Count me as one who found the puzzle quite fun. Was surprised at Rex and others' negative response.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Five weeks later. Just to inform you that you can see a nice picture of almost any bird, should it be unfamiliar to you, by googling the name of the bird and clicking on the Cornell Lab site that will come up. There are about 10,000 bird species in the world, and many, many are incredibly beautiful.

As a birder, I almost always get the clues involving bird names correct, unless a generic word such as seagull or ern is used, which is not the name of any specie of bird, and a term no birder would ever use.
---Chris in LA

Charly 12:46 AM  

Had "eager" to please, and "attn" for memo start. I've seen better.

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