Like an unfortunate torero / MON 1-25-10 / Classical opera redone by Elton John / Onesie wearer / In poorest of tastes as a novel

Monday, January 25, 2010

Constructor: Holden Baker

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Some convoluted golf stuff, with circled letters providing visual representations of golf scores, two of which are represented by their familiar terms (BOGEY / EAGLE) in the grid, in unclued but (apparently) arrowed (?) answers. This is what I'm told the grid looks like in print.

Word of the Day: ABATTOIR (5D: Slaughterhouse)

  1. A slaughterhouse.
  2. Something likened to a slaughterhouse: "The hand of God and mankind's self-inflicted blows seem equally heavy ... giving a strong cumulative impression of the world as an abattoir" (Manchester Guardian Weekly).

[French, from abattre, to strike down, from Old French. See abate.]

• • •

Yet another "F#@% You" to online solvers, as for the third time in five days, we get a grid designed for print and but not replicated accurately in any form the NYT cares to distribute online. I wish I could share the hate mail I'm already getting about this novelty grid trend — good solvers and constructors writing me and asking me "WTF!?!?!" Why not provide a .pdf of the puzzle? This would allow those of us who don't get the paper to print out a version that looks *identical* to the puzzle in the paper. I've nothing against the odd wacky grid, but give me the opportunity to solve it as it was designed. I'm a paying subscriber. [addendum: the NYT site (finally) some time today added a .pdf file of the entire puzzle — it's here]

The bigger issue today is that the puzzle is a design failure. I mean ... a huge failure. Why are there circles depicting "ONE under PAR" and "TWO over PAR," but *NO* "BIRDIE" or "DOUBLE BOGEY" in my grid? Why are there arrows pointing to terms represented by one set of circled words (BOGEY and EAGLE) but no arrows (because no terms) involved with the other set of circled words? It's baffling. I did this puzzle in a ridiculous 2:52 (using the arrow-less, online grid), so it was super easy. Absurdly easy — the least the puzzle could do is be interesting, or at least consistent. I'd settle for explicable. No idea how something like this gets the green light. I really like the tetrad of ABATTOIR, BALLPARK, CODIFIED and PARABOLA, and it's hard not to love TRASHIEST (37A: In the poorest of taste, as a novel), but the rest is terrible. SSTS and SSE and ESSES and AGOB (!?) crossing ATALE and then EFOR and oh my god I have to stop because I'm making myself sad.

Theme answers:
  • 41A: Exactly what's expected (par for the course)
  • 15A: [See grid] [except you online solvers, screw you guys] (bogey)
  • 69A: [See grid] (eagle)
I mean, come on, the circled ONEs and TWOs aren't even embedded in answers that disguise or modify their numericality at all. TWOS and TWO-D? ONER and ONES!? Dreadful. The core idea here is sound (though apparently done before ... more than once), but it needs a complete redesign to work. This is slapdash. Subpar (no pun intended). Yikes.

  • 49A: Classical opera redone by Elton John ("Aida") — but you knew that. I'm just trying to find something to write about.
  • 72A: Creation that's almost human ('droid) — here's part two of that 70-minute critique of "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" that I mentioned yesterday:
  • 4D: Like an unfortunate torero (gored) — yeah, that's pretty unfortunate. I like the understated quality of this clue.
  • 6D: Onesie wearer (tot) — is there an official age range for "TOT?" I think of infants as wearing onesies. Not sure how old one can be and still be a "TOT."
  • 29D: Gadget for someone on K.P. duty (parer) — peeling, or paring, I guess, potatoes, stereotypically. Though the kid on the right appears to be working on apples.
  • 35D: Mountain road features (esses) — wanted RUTS or, in Costa Rica, HOWLER MONKEYS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


retired_chemist 12:04 AM  

What Rex said. I was not thrilled with this puzzle.

/s/ tartio

Rube 12:21 AM  


There are now 2 comment sections for Monday's puzz, one re the novelty grid and the regular one for your "highly critical" review.
If possible, you may want to combine them, otherwise, let the blogees be aware.

CoolPapaD 12:29 AM  

OK - at least I'm not crazy; spent way too much time trying to find birdie and double-bogey somewhere in the grid. @Rex - thanks for the heads-up earlier this evening regarding the arrows).

Did learn two new words, however, including ABATTOIR and the real meaning of Lollapalooza (from Wikipedia - The word dates from an American idiom from the late 19th / early 20th century meaning "one that is extraordinarily impressive; also, an outstanding example). All these years I was under the impression that it was a catchy, made-up name!

Are 37A, 40A, and 53A attempts to work Tiger into the puzzle? He needs to ATONE (18A)!

BTW - is it Kosher to have SINS as an answer, with sin in the clue for 18A? Methinks not.

lit.doc 12:34 AM  

@Rube, I think you just took care of that, at least for those blogees with the sense to read everyone else's posts before doing so themselves.

But I will, nonetheless, add "Yo, go read the comments linked to Rex's late-Sunday post re the Monday puzzle before posting here".

Hard to know what else to say, except that I greatly enjoyed Rex's video embeds.

Steve J 1:14 AM  

This sucked. In multiple ways. I've had puzzles I've been disappointed with. I can't recall many (other than the one a month or so ago where all the accrosses were people's names) that I've actively hated. This one, I actively hate.

I mentioned in the other thread alerting people to a print thing that's not visible to online solvers that the gimmick in this one - the arrows - was completely unnecessary. The creator could have just referenced the under/over par clues without the stupid arrows. And as RP mentioned, the fact that two over and one under par aren't referenced at all is just sloppy (to be charitable - it actually is a massive failure). The puzzle is otherwise just a "meh" Monday, but the visual (which adds next to nothing) was totally unnecessary, which turns it into something I quite strongly dislike (along with the previously noted failure). Like RP said, the arrows really just feel like an f-you to online solvers. If they'd actually added something, that would be a different story. But they added absolutely nothing.

This, and the other gimmick puzzles from recent days, brings up an interesting question: with more and more people solving puzzles electronically (through Across Lite, through Blackberry/iPhone apps - which is how I solve - etc.), should Shortz start paying more attention to the impact on those people? Print solvers certainly represent a strong majority, but as time goes by, more and more people will be solving online. I certainly don't want to suggest that *good* schemes for print shouldn't be allowed; the Thursday "cutting corners" puzzle was a very good puzzle, and the gimmick served the puzzle very well, whereas the Sunday and Monday print gimmicks were useless. But the future is trending much more in one direction, which is digital.

des 1:30 AM  

@Steve J
Just a small correction - as I mentioned in the other thread about the print thing, both of the bogey answers are "correct" or appropriate. That is, ONE over PAR refers to a "single bogey" and TWO over PAR refers to a "double bogey." The arrow was therefore entirely unnecessary on top - but of course, that would have ruined the "symmetry" of the two arrows in the puzzle.

Blackhawk 1:50 AM  

I usually love to see creativity in puzzles but this one was really dumb. Nothing interesting in theme or the fill, and clumsily executed ... After yesterday's masterpiece, this one was a huge disappointment. Deeply in the rough. Three stroke penalty.

Elaine 2:38 AM  

What there was to "get" was in Rex's write-up.... (Rex, are you sure this is good for your blood pressure?) I did not pick up on the "ONE over PAR" so I appreciate the elucidation, such as it was.

I am very, very tired of this ONER business; I've never, ever heard anyone say it.

Maybe Holden Baker is a new teen constructor...on the HS golf team...

smisimme-- a form of the toss-off "so sue me"

lit.doc 2:56 AM  

@Elaine, me too re ONER, with extreme prejudice. I mean, like, c'mon, really, as if, whatever. Kinda like that. Only NOBODY uses *that* word.

[only-tangentially-puzzle-related comment alert] How fire ants work is that about a zillion of them sneak onto your body undetected, ninja-like, and then the sergeant blows its whistle and THEY ALL BITE YOU AT ONCE. Welcome to Tejas.

andrea lollapalooza michaels 3:32 AM  

Hmmm, I liked this!
(duck as golfballs come flying at me)

I loved that PARFORTHECOURSE was exactly 15 letters and that there was the pictogram (or whatever you call those visual puzzles) of ONE over PAR and TWO under PAR, etc.
That seemed super clever.

But I agree that the fill was very bizzarely imbalanced with the elegant yet too-hard-for-Monday: ABATTOIR/ALETA/AEROMETER
set off by bad initial-y fill: STP, HTTP, SFCS, SSTS, and
icky abbreviations: ALB, COLO
not to mention the never-usually-pluralized folks: TERIS, LENAS...

and yet, I still liked it!

I mean, it DID need BIRDIE in there, but double-bogey would have been impossible and repetitive
(Good catch @CoolPapaD about SINS!)

About the ONES and TWOS being literal, not ideal... at least they ALL were...if only half were it would be even more of a mess.

Again there is a piece of me that likes the balance of ONES/TWOS and ONER/TWOD. Seems fun!
EFOR effort!

So quite mixed bag for me, but I have to say overall pretty positive, so was a bit surprised by the outrage, and yet agree with the criticism if not the sentiment.

It actually gives me an idea for a puzzle but I'll need someone like Patrick Blindauer or Kevin Der to pull it off visually.

The Bard 7:29 AM  

Ian McKellen as Macbeth.

Hungry Mother 7:40 AM  

I guess I better write Prince Valiant's wife's name on the wall because I can never remember it and it would have made my time much better today.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Ugh. Unoriginal cluing, e.g., the P in PTA-- why not just fill in the grid for me. Disliked the SW also. Septs is just ugly.
And the missing answers just isn't par for the course.

fikink 7:58 AM  

I wish I could see the author of The Phantom Menace Review review this puzzle. Rex, your write-up, as usual, salvaged this morning's puzzletime.

And thanks for the lesbian starlet!

han solo 8:08 AM  

yep, I agree with many of you: kinda messy... and I take real issue with the clue for 14A. OLEO is in NO WAY like butter!

But I love the Star Wars critiques that Rex has been posting! Hilarious! and so, so true.

ejacc 8:27 AM  

C'mon, any puzzle that lets you post that book cover can't be all bad, can it?

Bob Kerfuffle 8:28 AM  

Well, it is Monday . . .

joho 8:49 AM  

I liked this way better than Rex's triple whiff rating.

I agree that the missing Birdie and Double Bogie seemed odd, but as @Andrea said, especially the double bogie, probably impossible to include.

As I said in the first comments section, this is timely puzzle in that the PGA tour tees off their new season this week at the San Diego Open/ Farmers Insurance/Open. This tournament used to be the Buick Invitational which I bet some of you San Diegans have probably attended, no?

Anyhoo, I think I'll go practice my swing now.

PIX 9:21 AM  

This puzzle is like my golf game: a complete mess with no Birdies (one under par) anywhere.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act V, Sc.V

dk 9:27 AM  

Sometimes being a Neo Luddite (no-l for short) is a fine thing.

My nephew once worked in a abattoir for a summer. He is Vegan now.

My opinion of the puzzle is similar to Andrea's. I will add that I do not (as a rule) like the bend fold and mutilate puzzle (see no-l admission above). Just give me a meat and potatoes puzzle.

The icebox nation is reeling from being "abated" by the who dat nation yesterday. Amazing to see the NOLA dome as a site of joy when just "yesterday" it was...

** (2 Stars)

Tinbeni 9:39 AM  

I do this on paper.
The circled letters were stupid.

Like my golf game, lots of PARs and BOGEY. EAGLE is a dream as was the Birdie I was shooting for.

ABATTOIR totally by crosses.
Always like to learn a new word.

As Bob K. said, it is Monday and easy.

One Mug of Coffee rating/time.

Stan 9:41 AM  

What Rex said.

And NYT, why is it so difficult to offer both print and online subscribers a pdf copy of the puzzle? BEQ's site, for example, provides both options and it's free. Same with the LA Times.

Van55 9:55 AM  

Holden managed to put all three of my pet peeves into this puzzle. I won't bother saying (again) what they are.

I agree 100% with Rex.

retired_chemist 9:56 AM  

@ dk - but it was the best game in the playoffs. And didn't we establish many months ago that you were not a Luddite?

DB Geezer 9:56 AM  

The circles in the North are symmetrical, but not so in the South. Does this not violate crossword symmetry?

And the NW and SE were related to Bogey and Eagle. So why were the NE and SW squares circled?

Easy Monday, but really one of the TRASHIEST puzzles I've seen.

mac 9:57 AM  

Let me tell you, those little black arrows meant nothing to me, I first thought my pencil slipped. This was a not very enjoyable but slightly slow Monday to me. The only word that needed two or three glances was "eyelet", never thought of it related to a shoe. Then I found out the under and above par gimmick from Rex, so that actually is a plus.

Let's just like the really good stuff, like parabola, abattoir, aerometer and thrashiest. Septs was by far the worst answer to me.

Sorry Glitch, this one is too good: viroperp

travis 10:29 AM  

The NYT distributes the puzzle as a pdf every day as part of the Times Digest e-mail service. Can Premium Crossword puzzle subscribers sign up for this[I have home delivery]? The one downside is that it doesn't arrive at a consistent time; frequently between 3 and 5 am.

OldCarFudd 10:31 AM  

What's an sfc? I know about pfcs, but I don't believe I've ever seen this.

I don't have the same aversion to circles and other gimmicks that many of you do, but I fully agree with Rex and others that they should appear in the on-line versions, too. I'm a print solver, so it doesn't gore my personal ox, but fair's fair.

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

I make a copy of the dead tree puzzle from the library where I work and take it with me.
Those arrows looked hand-drawn to me and I truly thought someone had marked on the page before I got to it. WTF? Too bad some of the high-end fill was marred by this mess of a puzzle. On to Tuesday.
@ mac, Viroperp - someone who sneezes on you during flu season?
BTW The plane was late Saturday so no one in Vegas got the dead tree version. Messed up my Sat. a.m.

jeff in chicago 10:50 AM  


Anonymous 10:59 AM  

E for EFFORT?????

stop with the gimmicky puzzles.


PlantieBea 10:59 AM  

What Rex said. The whole arrow mess should have been eliminated; then the EAGLE and BOGEY could be viewed as bonus entries. I hated the arrows, or lack thereof. Bleh!

The WOTD, ABATTOIR, best answer. SEPTS and PARENT, the worst.

My captcha today: amity.

slypett 11:07 AM  

Now that all the air's been let out of the room, I want to hyperventilate. At the precise moment I connected with ONER, I knew this was a stinker of a puzzle. It is almost pure crosswordese (an accomplishment of sorts?). And, as was pointed out, the symmetry violation is uuugly.

Parshutr 11:21 AM  

OK you non- and anti-golfers, I get it. Too bad you have to put up with this.
Best thing about today? No Simpsons references!

ArtLvr 11:35 AM  

I remember being taken to the famous stockyards in Chicago when small cousins came to visit, and then dining on prime steaks at the attached restaurant. No surprise the operation is long gone!

ABATTOIR took a couple of tries to spell correctly, but was perfectly PAR FOR THE (main) COURSE...


alice in SF 11:46 AM  

There were more than one arrow? I get the print edition and I only saw one.

Today's puzzle got up close and personal with 46A. I just had a foot operation to relieve a tarsal tunnel syndrome. Check Dr. Google for a definition of that!

xyz 11:51 AM  

Bigger gripe (as an orthopedic specialist) TARSAL is FOOT not ankle, Will Shortz has screwed this up two many times in the past. The ankle is Malleolar and Talar, but not TARSAL that's foot, specifically mid and hind foot and the forefoot is metatarsal and phalangeal.

If one operates on the ankle and bill for a Tarsal procedure, you won't get paid! Investigated maybe ...

Two osteo (bone) clues in one puzzle,too.

As for the hook of the puzzle, as a golfer it was lame,lame lame, definitely a triple bogey or "other". Maybe even a pick-up. Missed opportunity? ALBATROSS for three under par.

Thirdly, not easy, but the puzzle statistic guy will show this as medium-challenging, I am guessing. Puzzle took me 12-14 minutes rather than my 8-10 for a Monday as I tacked around a little bit more to get the answers double checked because it was so weird. Should have been Tuesday or Weds.

Not much of a fan, but someone get Rex some blood pressure pills ...

Did I tell you, TARSAL really annoyed me ....

Jim in Chicago 11:52 AM  

I had to double check to make sure I hadn't picked up the Tribune by mistake! Just dog's dinner, nothing else to say about the puzzle.

I actually wondered if the stupid arrows were an editor's mark that accidentally got left behind before production.

My black cloud grew even bigger since the middle column of clues was lost in a fold in my copy of the dead tree edtion. No matter how many times you try to smooth out one of those folds, they just keep coming back.

Alice in SF 11:57 AM  

Hey @foodie. Jets lost, boo-hoo; Saints won, hooray. Sorry for referring to a comment from yesterday but I didn't see foodie's blog until today. I know this is a no-no; I hope Rex won't show me the door. Will it count that our older son attended SUNY Binghamton?

Margaret 11:58 AM  

So much not to like about this puzzle... In addition to the sin of duplicating "sins," I thought it was pushing things to have a clue with Onesie in it when you not only had 2 ones in the puzzle but they were key to the theme. And, not being up on my military abbreviations, I had sfcl instead of sfcs which kept me from seeing Tarsal (which I think of as foot related rather than ankle related.) Nor do I know Loc. cit. (Op. Cit. yes. Loc. Cit. not so much.) which made that juncture a virtual Natick for me. Sad start to the week.

pks 12:03 PM  

I just noticed that there is a pdf version of Monday's puzzle on the web site. I don't know if it is was there yesterday or if it is a late edition. In either version (any event), I didn't care for the puzzle.

Unknown 12:06 PM  

Sometimes you just need to know when to fold 'em and when to hold 'em. I agree with Andrea and others that it seems like a Monday level puzzle, which like a Saturday, is not for everyone. In the constant battle between the sinners and the saints 2010 will be the Saints year.

obertb 12:06 PM  

The gimmick here was cute enough--if you like gimmicks--but its execution was terrible for all of the reasons which others have pointed out.

I actually thought the puzzle tilted a little on the harder side for a Monday, with ABATTOIR, AEROMETER, et al. But there was a AGOB of awful fill, the worst being the abominable SEPTS.

I solve online, too, but I don't care much for extracruciverbial gimmicks because more often than not (yesterday is a perfect example) they add so little to the solving experience that I mostly just ignore them.

Go ahead, call me a Luddite.

Doug 12:21 PM  

I think this puzzle would have been fine without the circles and the arrows, and then clever solvers could have seen the relationship between the one over par and the two under part in proximity. I didn't think it was the easiest Mon. puzzle I've ever seen.

Charles Bogle 12:30 PM  

I incorporate @andrealollapaloozamichaels specifics pro and con but diverge on the bottom-line: to me, theme seemed inane; didn't really interconnect-

did enjoy learning words like ABBATOIR, TARSAL

Too bad Will didn't give this constructor a MULLIGAN

chefbea 12:34 PM  

Didn't understand the arrows til I got here. Easy puzzle though.

@Travis Lately the copy of the times digest arrives a day late. Bought the dead tree today.

Was sure the puzzle would be football related - poor Jets

william e emba 12:43 PM  

As always, I did this on paper. I saw one of the arrows and just thought it was a production error. Then I forgot about it until I saw Rex's complaint, wondering if the online version didn't have the circles? When I saw the the helpful gif with the bold red arrows, I could only think the arrows were an annotation to help you find the circles or something. Really, you on-line folk did not miss a thing. I almost couldn't find the second arrow, since 90% of it was lost in a black square.

The OED seems to imply that the British like ONER. (They quote Dickens and Thackeray.) Also, there seems to be a new meaning: "single attempt". The following is one of the OED's quotations for this new, clearly British use: "I've three clues left by the end of my break. It pisses me off when I don't do it in a oner. I actually prefer the Scotsman crossword."

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Some golfers refer to a double bogey as simply a "double"...which has the same letter count as "birdie". 32- and 46- Across would seem to be potential parking spots for these words.

Rex is a good constructor, so he could no doubt salvage this puzzle, including revised clues that eliminate the need for the grid arrows.

But, alas, then Rex would be forced to relive his less than thrilling experience...

Sfingi 12:58 PM  

Left my main comment on the other thread. Do we get 6 today? 3 for each?

I've been thinking about aerometer vs. hydrometer. Apparently there are 2 types of aerometer. One measures liquids (as does hydrometer) and gases, the other has something to do with airplanes going faster than standing still.
Not to be confused with an anemometer that measures wind speed.
@Redanman? @RetiredChem?

@Parshutr - agree.

@ArtLover - For the most part, the steer wouldn't be alive if they weren't being raised to be eaten. However, unlike dairy cows, they do survive in the wild. Dairy cows die of childbirth and mastitis. Worse than eating an animal with a face, is that they use up incredible resources. My 90-year old mom eats only 4-legs. I'm a chickentarian. None of these animals tear at my heartstrings, but maybe I've known enough farms and farmers to be immune. In any case, our teeth and intestinal length is, like the pig, made to support omnivorousness. Farm animals are hardly rare. Same for mink (farmed) vs. ocelot (endangered).

Doug 1:11 PM  

I didn't pick up on the ONE (over) PAR thing until I read the blog. If the arrows were eliminated and BOGEY/EAGLE were referenced in the clues it would have had a much less aspirated groan from my side.

ABBATOIR was a gimmee.I worked in HK supermarkets for many years and bought about 500 freshly slaughtered pigs from the abbatoir every day. Did anyone see the "suckling pig" episode on Iron Chef? Wow, those guys broke down a baby pig in like a minute--Wow!

retired_chemist 1:32 PM  

Coupling the interests of the architects on this blog with the discussion of abattoirs demands a link to this Monty Python sketch.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:49 PM  

@OldCarFudd --

I've never heard of an SFC before either, but as I learned with LPN/RPN, there are plenty of ways of cluing almost any random collection of letters. Here's an exerpt from Wikipedia:

SFC may refer to:

In biology/medicine:

* Stem cell factor, an important cytokine in hematopoiesis

In other fields:

* Sergeant First Class, the seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Army
* Sexual Freedom Coalition, a pro-sex organisation and political pressure group based in the United Kingdom
* Southern Fandom Confederation, an association of science fiction fans
* Space-filling curve, a curve whose ranges contain the entire 2-dimensional unit square
* Brake specific fuel consumption an engineering term that is used to describe the fuel consumption of a shaft engine it terms of its output power
* Thrust specific fuel consumption an engineering term that is used to describe the fuel efficiency of a jet engine design in terms of its thrust efficiency
* Starfleet Command, the headquarters of Starfleet in the fictional Star Trek universe
* Strategic Forces Command, part of India's Nuclear Command Authority
* Supercritical Fluid Chromatography, a robust and easy-to-use form of normal phase chromatography ideally suited to the analysis and purification of low to moderate molecular weight, thermally labile molecules
* Skills for Change, a not-for-profit agency (located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) providing learning and training opportunities for immigrants and refugees
* SF-Caravan (Finland), a member of the FIA
* San Francisco Chronicle, a newspaper
* San Francisco County

retired_chemist 2:22 PM  

SFC = singly folded crossword, i.e. for someone who just didn't get the Mad Magazine technique on Sunday. Actually the NCO part of the clue makes Sergeant First Class the SFC du jour.

Forgot to warn that the Monty Python sketch does not pass the breakfast test.

edith b 2:42 PM  

I just went ahead and solved it and to heck with with all the ancillary mess that came along with it.

Simple enough for a Monday but I had PFCS that produced TRAPHIEST at 37A, and for the life of me I couldn't see the error of my ways.

I'm embarrassed to say that I had to read Rex's review to finally see my problem.

Steve J 3:06 PM  

@the redanman: Thanks for the explanation. I thought it looked wrong when I was going through the puzzle. I don't remember much about whatever anatomy I learned, but I do remember "tarsal" referring to the bones of the foot.

@retired_chemist: That exact sketch may be why I picked up ABATTOIR instantly with, at most, one cross in. I'm sure I ran across the word in various Brit lit, but Monty Python tends to stick with me more (which may explain why I never ended up doing grad work in literature).

retired_chemist 3:53 PM  

@ SteveJ - also my only other contact with, and my prompt in this puzzle for, with the word ABATTOIR. Monty Python sketches are hard to forget....

chefwen 3:57 PM  

Didn't love it, didn't hate it, just did it and I didn't need "no stinking arrows".

New to me ABATTOIR, AEROMETER, and PARABOLA, so I'm going with medium.

New word of the day, packy - someones favorite stuffed animal.

JC66 4:11 PM  

@Rex said: "Yet another "F#@% You" to online solvers, as for the third time in five days, we get a grid designed for print and but not replicated accurately in any form the NYT cares to distribute online."

I don't know how much clout Will has with the NYTimes, but just maybe he scheduled these three puzzles close together in order to convince the powers that be to correct this situation.

sanfranman59 4:16 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:10, 6:55, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:54, 3:40, 1.06, 74%, Medium-Challenging

I'm guessing that much of the explanation for the relatively slow solve times (for a Monday puzzle) is the lack of arrows in the online version. I will echo others' complaints that online subscribers should expect the same service as dead tree subscribers. I'm not sure how much the arrows would have affected my solving experience, but I sure didn't understand the "[See grid]" clues until I read Rex's write up. Boo! Hiss!

O 4:54 PM  

@BobKerfuffle and retired_chemist - Thank you. I'd heard of a private first class but not a sergeant first class. And I DON'T look forward to seeing all the new clues BK uncovered for SPC!

OldCarFudd 4:56 PM  

Sorry - That comment was from OldCarFudd.

Ulrich 5:50 PM  

@chefwen: Famous parabolas out there: The giant arch in St. Louis designed by our friend Eero (the parabola has very interesting structural properties) and McDonald's logo--pick either as a memory aid:-)

william e emba 6:36 PM  

Eero's Gateway Arch is definitely not a parabola. It's a catenary (meaning it's part of the graph of a hyperbolic cosine or "cosh" for short). The reason is that a catenary has an interesting and highly relevant structural property: it supports its own weight.

Today's Garfield is about crossword puzzles, in case you missed it.

ArtLvr 7:08 PM  

@ retired_chemist, thanks for the "makes Sergeant First Class the SFC du jour". LOL, unless stranded in the Donner Pass...

@ sfingi, my point was that, in retrospect, the Stockyards wouldn't have been my prime-ary choice for tots' sightseeing, though it was at the visitors' request!

Today's constructor Holden B. must be feeling like his unfortunate torero, i.e. GORED, and hardly Beholden to commenters here -- but I guess the arrow business wasn't his fault... I actually found his puzzle okay, and I'm not even a golfer.

@ chefwen, much appreciation again for the receipe -- I really liked the cheesecake I made with apricot, after all, rather than trying mango. I also used part-skim ricotta for some of the cream cheese to cut down a bit on the calories and fat. Lovely!

∑;) -- captcha? Canete !

dk 7:11 PM  

@ret-chem, You are right. I used the term neo-luddite in an effort to slip under the radar. Curse your ever watchful eye.

FYI - Lovely wife's dad is a ret -chem. Former department head at Bethel where said wife who is no help with any biblical clue claims to have graduated.

ArtLvr 7:17 PM  

@ wm. e. e. -- Thanks for the great word catenary, which looks like the cat who swallowed a canary! Must have been a Really Big Bird?


chefbea 7:39 PM  

@william e emba being from St. louis and watching the arch being built I knew it was not a parabola

Ulrich 7:40 PM  

@WEE: You are right--and I know that. After all, I have stood under the famous arch at Ctesiphon and have seen photos of Gaudi's studio showing chains suspended from two points so that the shape of a catenary or funicular curve could be traced. But my point was not to give a mathematical definition of a parabola, but to give someone a visual clue of what a parabola looks like, and I insist that my examples are close enough. [In all likelihood, the McDonald's arches are no parabolas in the strict sense either.]

So, I should have said : "Famous parabola-like shapes out there..."--my bad.

retired_chemist 7:54 PM  

@ Ulrich - imprecision, even when well-intentioned, never makes it through THIS august group!

@ WmEEMBA - how is the fact that a catenary supports its own weight affected by a non-uniform linear density? I believe both the Gateway Arch and the MickeyD's double arch are thicker at the bottom. Just asking....

FWIW I groove on parabolas. Coming from an optics/photochemistry background, I was always fascinated that a reflective parabolic mirror focused parallel rays at its focus, in (mild) contrast to a spherical lens. Spherical lenses are easier to grind - but focus imperfectly.

Non-techies, flame away.....

Doc John 8:06 PM  

Not thrilled with the puzzle and my avatar died today! RIP.

retired_chemist 8:13 PM  

@ Doc John - saw Pernell Roberts' death on NBC News and wanted to express virtual condolences.

fikink 8:17 PM  

@chefbea, I, too, watched the arch being built and rode up its stair-step tram to take in St. Louis from its height. I often use the film of the last bit of the arch - the keystone? -being dropped into place to finish the structure as a metaphor in negotiations between sparring couples. Such calm can one win with attention to science...kinda like the Tao of Physics.
Clark, where are you?
dk, pass the dwarf.
ret-chem, I groove on you grooving on parabolas!
Ulrich, your examples are, indeed, close enough - it is the teacher in you, always helpful.

retired_chemist 8:27 PM  

I herewith declare we are in happy hour. If my second glass of Shiraz had me grooving on parabolas, what will my third (the current and final) produce?

chefwen 8:31 PM  

WOW, after all this discussion, I dare not, ever, forget PARABOLA.
Thanks @Ulrich, I'm going with Mc Ducks.

chefwen 8:33 PM  

@ArtLvr - Glad the recipe worked out for you.

Stan 8:55 PM  

@Doc John: Touched by the obituary of your avatar. I'd never have known...

Two Ponies 9:03 PM  

@ Doc John, Thanks for the link to your avatar. I never liked his character on Bonanza and never saw his TV series but I think his off-screen interests were very cool. I had no idea but will remember him much differently now.
Happy hour has indeed kicked in so I am feeling sentimental and....
parabolic? Ha!
@ fikink and dk, Back to the shadows again.

Two Ponies 9:06 PM  

P.S. Thank you to PIX and the Bard for the Macbeth. I think I'll go stick my head in the oven.

kate 9:25 PM  

I spent 5 minutes doing the puzzle and a good ten afterwards trying to figure out the gimmick. Something about the direction of the arrows indicating why I got a bogey instead of the double bogey...or the birdie was hidden in the... ??? Hunh? couldn't figure it out. Gave up and said "Rex Parker will have it all explained." Alas, you did. Explanation: Fail.

lit.doc 9:51 PM  

@retired_chemist, LOL re "imprecision, even when well-intentioned, never makes it through THIS august group!" Speaking of, BTW, Pernell Roberts' death was broadcast *live* on NBC?! Great Zeus, will they stop at nothing to prop up their moribund ratings??!!

Another hand up for well into Happy Hour!

Sfingi 10:40 PM  

ax + bx + c

Clark 11:03 PM  

@fikink -- I'm here (if I'm anywhere at all). Busy days, but I'm keeping up with the puzzle and keeping track of blog comments (when I'm not being pursued by a jackal-headed woman with her eyes akimbo).

Anonymous 11:09 PM  

Dear Rex and fellow puzzle doers,
We have never had this much difficulty in completing a Monday puzzle. We did not understand the arrows (and they were only 2 of them--not enough for a theme), and we agree with Rex regarding the ones, twos, and pars randomly scattered throughout the puzzle. What is a gog? Or E for Effort--it's A for effort!!! Holden Baker failed miserably at creating a puzzle, and we hope he will never attempt puzzle making again. Maybe you just needed to be a golfer to get this unfortunate.

sanfranman59 11:57 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:18, 6:55, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Rube 12:01 AM  

@Anon 11:09

Lighten up -- give the guy a break. Sure the puzz had something to be desired, but it wasn't all that bad. Move on. Tuesday's puzz is ready. You won't find much to complain or rave about in it.

andrea sfc (the chronicle one) michaels 12:05 AM  

@anonymous 11:09pm
I was thru commenting for today, but your comment has stirred me... how can you hope he'll never attempt puzzle making again!??! What a ridiculous comment!!!!

First of all, (well, second of all, given this late hour) Holden Baker has a very cool name!!! Very "Catcher in the Rye".

Even if it was hard, and even if there were no arrows on line, as a Monday, many folks will have been able to get the words BOGEY and EAGLE just from the downs...
The arrows were probably added as a fun bonus thing-y.

@doc john
I didn't know who Pernell Roberts was and have thought this whole time that was a picture of you!
New Year, new decade...time for a new avatar anyway!

(Easy for me to say, as I don't even know how to create one!)

Stan 12:10 AM  

Agreeing with Rube and Andrea -- it was a perfectly fine puzzle even though not my favorite.

slypett 12:25 AM  

andrea (jesus christ, you've done it this time) michaels: If I could create an avatar, anyone can. Unfortunately, I've forgotten how I did it, or I'd walk you through.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:43 AM  

@Andrea and darkman -- I don't think we really want Andrea to create an avatar, for this very practical reason: The avatar only appears with your standard nom de blog. Everytime Andrea created a new middle name (and how often does that happen?) she would have to establish a complete new identity.

This is based on my own experience, and if I am wrong, please correct me.

slypett 7:59 AM  

Monsieur Kerfuffle: !!!!!!!!

MikeinSTL 9:32 AM  

@Parshutr -- there's always a Simpsons reference to be made! In episode 8F22 ("Bart's Friend Falls in Love") Marge orders a copy of a weight loss tape called "Subliminally Slim", but they send Homer "Building Your Vocabulary" instead. The tape begins:
"Hello, this is Dr. Marvin Monroe. Let's build your vocabulary. A -- Abattoir. Slaughterhouse. The cow was slaughtered in the abattoir."

Unknown 2:56 AM  

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