Rudy with megaphone / THU 12-29-11 / g2g follower / Muckracker Tarbell / Spanish muralist / Old bus maker / Zoological wings

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: PIZZAZZ17A: Start of a brainteaser whose answer appears in order, from top to bottom, in this puzzle's circled squares (NAME THE ONE / SEVEN-LETTER WORD / IN ENGLISH THAT / CANNOT BE PUT DOWN / IN SCRABBLE)

Word of the Day: Rudy VALLÉE (2D: Rudy with a megaphone) —
Rudy Vallée (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer. [...] Vallée became the most prominent and, arguably, the first of a new style of popular singer, the crooner. Previously, popular singers needed strong projecting voices to fill theaters in the days before the electric microphone. Crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of the radio. Vallée's trombone-like vocal phrasing on "Deep Night" would inspire later crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como to model their voices on jazz instruments. // Vallée also became what was perhaps the first complete example of the 20th century mass media pop star. Flappers mobbed him wherever he went. His live appearances were usually sold out, and even if his singing could hardly be heard in those venues not yet equipped with the new electronic microphones, his screaming female fans went home happy if they had caught sight of his lips through the opening of the trademark megaphone he sang through. A brief caricature of him in the Fleischer Brothers' color Betty Boop theatrical short cartoon from 1934 Poor Cinderella depicts him singing through a megaphone. (wikipedia)
• • •

Before I even saw this puzzle I got an email about the puzzle from a fellow solver that consisted entirely of anguished exclamations. This is probably the only reason I wasn't unduly pained by the puzzle. I was pained. Just not unduly. Never did like the instructions-as-answers gimmick, and this is 63 squares worth of instructions. PIZZAZZ letters go in order from top to bottom, but they're a bit of a mess. And then there's the fill—I should be happy at the preponderance of crosswordese, because I destroyed this grid. ODAS, bam! SERT, bam! (60D: Spanish muralist) SDS, bam! Take that, SE corner. ALAE?! (4D: Zoological wings) Pfft, child's play. HOER!? I barely knoer! And yet instead of feeling happy at my success, I have that sickly feeling I imagine one has when one shoots a deer in one of those deer parks where they're essentially tame and you know you're gonna get one. No joy. I HEART is very inventive stuff (6D: Start of many a bumper sticker), but I don't have much to say about the rest of it. That NW corner, man ... nah, I'll just stop here. You get the idea.

  • 1A: Wagner heroine (EVA) — needed every cross and just guessed at the "V" (at that point, I may have been thinking that Rudy VALLÉE was Frankie Valli, or else a Notre Dame cheerleader (I never saw the movie "Rudy," so I don't really know the details)
  • 19A: City in the San Gabriel Valley (EL MONTE) — I lived in said Valley for four years. Have no recollection of a place called EL MONTE, even though it *is* the 51st largest city in California.
  • 22A: John XI's successor (LEO VII) — a random LEO! Who doesn't like those!?
  • 39A: 10th- to 12th-century Chinese dynasty (LIAO) — Yiao! Did not know.
  • 50A: 1944 Sartre play ("NO EXIT") — one of the first works I ever read entirely in French. Most memorable quote: "L'enfer, c'est les autres."
  • 48A: Muckraker Tarbell (IDA) — another crosswordese Hero. Sometimes I get "muckraker" and "Moonraker" confused in my head. Sometimes. A little.

  • 46D: Person with a conical hat, maybe (WIZARD) — took me several stabs, despite the fact that I'm currently in the middle of reading "The Hobbit" 
  • 56D: "g2g" follower (BYE) — apparently I do not text nearly enough, or with the right people. Had to ask what "g2g" meant after I was done. "Got to go" (or "gotta go").  BYE? Not C YA or something equally pithy? And why waste the keystroke on the "E." BY or BB (for bye-bye) would work just as well, I'd think.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:21 AM  

Oddly, whenever I'm told something will suck I find more suckiness in it than if I were to evaluate it on my own. You and I differ on this, apparently

So, take all your gimmes and turn them into my grimaces, and add in the ones you elided over.

Oh, and an ANTILOG is an exponent. It just is. Exponents came first, then Laplace figured out logs and had the decency to not name them ANTIEXPONENTS, then some idiot decided that exponents needed a different term and coined antilog. I guess he was too stupid to name them ANTIANTIEXPONENTS. Said person should be shot, quite unlike the deer in the "game reserve". You know what a "game reserve" is, it's like the lobster tank at your local Lobster Shack, where you pick out the one you want, they spray paint your name on the side of your animal, they drug it, and bam, you're a great white hunter. That's if you don't shoot your hunting partner in the face instead.

While I'm at the nadir of my post solve mood, may I also suggest that there be a ban on bowl games if you're not at least a ranked team? These bowls have been awful.

May I also be the first to say that's not Rudy Vallee?

syndy 12:34 AM  

Nor was the movie "Rudy" about any of the above. NINON -other curtain material.ATIP HUH? lots of scrabbleyness which in this case maybe was not a good choice:] I found that I could in fact have put this one down.

Free Lunch 12:35 AM  

Pretty high name density in the NW!

I now recall that weird montage from Singing In the Rain where a guy is crooning through a megaphone. I had no idea people actually used to do that.

Anonymous 12:50 AM  

I never would have solved that name-heavy NW corner had I not automatically put down LEO upon reading "pope."

I swear I've seen that "Wagner heroine" clue before, and I'm just as sure I won't remember it next time, either.

Rube 12:58 AM  

Rex, your pics are getting further and further off track. Love it.

As for the puzz, missed the SODS/SCTV intersection... had an M. SODS means something else to me and I never watched SCTV, (or MCTV either). Otherwise, would also call this easy-medium.

Really dislike these long, multiple line, answer puzzles. Looked into it and found that there is indeed one Z tile in regular scrabble (100 tiles), but 2 in Super Scrabble (200 tiles). Also had trouble with the Zola novel, but the crosses easily gave me NANA. Read the Asimov novel about 50 years ago, still remember the final line, "...the beginning of infinity".

Us oldies remember Rudy VALLEE, the saxophone playing band leader. In case anybody here is not an opera fan, Eva is the heroine in Die Meistersinger.

santafefran 1:25 AM  

A TO Z or HEAD TO TOE, this was not my Crossword Fizz cocktail. It's too bad that it CANNOT BE PUT DOWN.

dk did you and your sis make it to Santa Fe and have the cocktail different?

extest-after the ntest

jae 1:25 AM  

I usually don't care for quip/riddle puzzles but this one was more interesting than the  groaner puns typically served up.  So, this is an "I like it."  That said, much of the fill was (as Rex noted) not that great...SDS, EAN, HOER,....etc.  

Medium for me mainly because it took a while to nail down the NW and convince myself that ATIP was real.

retired_chemist 1:40 AM  

All I had was the V and LEO VII was the only choice. Also plunked down EL MONTE with NO crosses and was amazed that it stayed.

Senior moment: KNEW Goldwater in 1964 but Could. Not. Think. what Republican ran in 2008. {joke}And Rex even put his photo by the Rudy Vallee writeup.{/joke}

ATIP (4A) is odd. I thought AGOG for a long time. Also ruled out PATTIE (7D) for a long time because I was SURE she was PATTY. NINON (20D) was/is a WTF but no sweat because of the crosses. Thought of rolled OATS @ 62A and tried it briefly even though batted OATS made no sense. Led to BUSBOA, a snake that clears tables. Oh well....

Chinese dynasty was MING until it wasn't. Must learn all my Chinese dynasties at the same time I learn all my Popes.

A fun solve. Thank you, Mr. Steinberg.

Anonymous 1:51 AM  

Chefwen - Are you still on the dark side?

Rex - You are a piece of work. I confess that I laughed at the pic of Rudy G, but don't you think that was a little too obvious? I also must confess that I like this kind of theme as much as I like the Green Bay Packers.

I drink vodka while doing the puzzles and I am wondering whether I should give up the vodka or the puzzles....

chefwen 2:10 AM  

@John in Chicago - Of course I am still on the dark side, I like the dark side. I am excited about our wager, I can taste the gourmet popcorn already.

Not too excited about the puzzle however, pretty easy for a Thursday.
The only positive thing was that I got it done. Waiting for ACME to point out what was brilliant about it. She can always find the sunny side.

lit.doc 2:47 AM  

NINON!? Crossing El WTF!? Yellow flag for fill foul.

The more I struggle to learn the dark art of construction, the less I whine online. But seriously, NINON not fully crossed by fully inferrable fill?

r.alphbunker 3:29 AM  

Once I got SCRABBLE the rest of the question fell into place quickly. For instance WO_D was obviously word and not wood.

The "only" in the question means that sssssss is not allowed in Scrabble. Is it allowed in a crossword puzzle? You often see SSS. The seven letter version could be the sound that a snake with logorrhea makes.

I knew the picture of rudy was fake because of the microphone.

Gareth Bain 4:11 AM  

I always laugh when I see HOER in a grid: it's the afrikaans word for prostitute!

Aloha chez michaels 4:25 AM  

Have to recuse myself...
I'm giving a construction workshop with David Steinberg next month at the Morgan Hill Library tournament/fundraiser end of Jan...
And, ultimately there were lots of ZZZZs and about Scrabble.
To be 100% honest, don't like instruction puzzles, prefer wordplay...but I'm impressed how young and smart he is and how hard he is trying to be totally original.

Didn't know ATIP, but close to QTIP...My new mantra
(Quit Taking It Personally)...which I suspect might have to be my advice to Young David today.

Not knowing or even having a clue about g2g made me feel 102 yrs old...(so did knowing Rudy VALLEE without blinking.)
Add to that David is all of 14... You go, boy. Fetch me my reading glasses.

Brian B 4:38 AM  

The text-speak word for "bye" is BAI. FWIW.

jberg 7:23 AM  

Yeah, I wanted AGOG too - my next choice was APIP, which may or may not be a word but sounds a lot better than ATIP.

On the other hand, I did like ENGELS, VALLEE, AND ASIMOV next to each other. And it's always nice to learn about a new curtain fabric - even one that's spelled so strangely it made me wonder if OONA Chaplin could possibly be wrong.

I bet Giuliani raises more dough for Wikipedia than those obscure writers who usually hit you up.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Talk about suckiness: how about atip? When was that every used in conversation. I was atip?

Thanks for the Rudy Vallee song. Oddly appropriate today.

jackj 8:45 AM  

A 14 year-old constructor who laces his puzzle with some of the most repugnant bits of crosswordese?

ATIP, ALAE, REO, DDE, ENL, TORA, ADZ, AZOV, SERT, ODAS; enough, enough, (but, sadly, not all and recalling them is a painful exercise).

A clever brainteaser which is totally negated by the horrid fill.

David, you're clearly talented at this stuff; don't turn to the computer for the grunt work of constructing and you'll be serving us some sparkling winners.

Tinbeni 8:46 AM  

Anon @ 1:51 am
Forget the vodka and have some Pinch, NEAT.
Or maybe @Lit.Doc's Jameson, also NEAT.
Or Bacardi 151 (your number). Though I would suggest you mix it with something.

When will HEAD be properly clued:
Something you want to give and receive?

A "toast" to One-and-All at Sunset.
Cheers !!!

dk 8:49 AM  

SFFRAN off to SF today.

ACME good luck with qtip.

I found the brain teaser and answer to be more fun than the typical Thursday "game" puzzles.... That I never ATIP.

I chortle at IHEART as I always want to end it with Uranus. See Space Balls for the deets.

I offer up a modicum of praise for this puzzle. Our fair haired constructor is aiming for originality and he hits the target. Alas, he does not score as he seems to have lost sight of the forest while focusing on the sylvan glade. This is a common occurrence with new constructors of most anything. See Rex's early puzzles for other X-word examples or I can dig out some of my early attempts at "art" photos.... err, or... the first draft of my dissertation where I attempted to lay out a log linear model for predicting creativity in decision making: epic fail.

My advice is use a closed system approach, inserting an original concept in the common place and then bring your audience along with you as you expand your/our horizons. See BEQ's puzzles for a x-word example of what I am rambling on about. Listen to Joe Frank for a short story example.

** (2 Stars) David, Keep on keepin on!

This droning on is thirsty work. I need a Crossword Fizz

evil doug 8:59 AM  

Rare is the crossword answer that I haven't at least heard/seen before, even if I couldn't use it in a sentence. But I never heard of ninon. Got Leo's "V" so I knew only consecutive "I's" would work as Roman numerals, and El Monte sounded Californian.

Antilog is going to bring out all the math wizards here. God help us.

If you're a "Tora x 3" fan, highly recommend "Pacific Crucible"---detailed explanation of the WWII action there from Pearl Harbor through Midway. As much as the Navy pilots the real hero is a codebreaker in a little shack in Hawaii.

Glad the bumper sticker didn't start with "Visualize..." We stomped that sucker flat the other day. Started with "Honk if...", but that would probably be better on a picketer's sign. "My child is an honor student at...." begat the wonderful "My kid can beat up your honor student", but those didn't work. A few crosses helped me out with I heart.

Love crosswords, hate scrabble. In these puzzles you can play with any letter you want; in scrabble you're so hamstrung---by the total number of z's, but also the damn few letters in a rack.

My favorite clue: Bikini explosions. Lots of good imagery, but nukes weren't the first thing to come to mind.


SethG 9:06 AM  

I had ATAP and A HEART. I'm only barely convinced that's not right too.

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Are we sure that pizzazz is the only seven letter English word that can't be laid down in Scrabble? I mean I don't know, but isn't there a large number of seven letter words out there? How was this proven? Antilog is a seven letter word and who would have thought of that?

John V 9:17 AM  

Fun stuff, medium, save for NW where everything @lit.doc said. Rating: 35 miles, Stamford to #4 pulling into 14th Street. Guessed ELNORTE, which was wrong (didn't know Monte Hall had a city named after him), everything else okay. Trying to sort out if pic of Rudy G passes the breakfast test and having some doubts, but not enough to make me rue de day, is what I'm sayin' Keep 'em coming, @Rex!

Liked STREET CRED, War of 1812 clue for ERIE (my New York county of birth, for those who care), IHEART, DDE, ITEMIZE/WIZARD cross.

Yeah, but that NW; a tale of two puzzles.

Oh yes: yesterday's acronym quiz, POSSLQ = Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters, courtesy of the US Census a couple of decades ago. Much more fun that COHAB, IHMO.

BlueStater 9:41 AM  

ELMONTE, surely, is NATICK West? And crossing ANTILOG? Puh-leeze!

joho 9:45 AM  

If only this puzzle had had more PIZZAZZ!

Mr. Benson 9:46 AM  

"HOER!? I barely knoer!" Comedy gold right there.

Rob C 9:53 AM  

Agree with the criticism of the NW. Big fat DNF b/c of it. As to the rest, I didn't think it was bad at all. Thought Rex was a bit over-critical (pain is a word I wouldn't associate with this puzzle)

As with some others here, I generally don't like "instructions as answers" puzzles, but that's my personal taste and doesn't take away from the fact that this is a well-constructed puzzle.

Is pizzazz really the only 7-letter word that can't be played in scrabble? I'm sure there is someone on the case as we speak and will let us know shortly.

I Concur 9:56 AM  

@Rex and Mr. Benson - I second that (e)motion! More entertaining than the puzzle itself today...

Good Girl 10:02 AM  

@Rex - OK, now you're just effing with us!
Please, oh, please if no one writes in earnestly pointing out that the picture is of a different Rudy, can we all move on to another schtick? We promise to be good from now on!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Scrabble has 5 letters for which there is only one tile, JKQXZ, along with two wildcard tiles. Thus, any word that has four of any one of these cannot be made in Scrabble. There are no seven letter words with 4 J's, K's, Q's or X's.

Another possibility is to have a 7 letter word which contains 5 letters made up of 2 of the JKQXZ, i.e. JJ_XXX_. THere aren't any of them either.

Smitty 10:09 AM  

Guessed my way through the theme answer - except for the number which could have been THREE or SEVEN.

Counted up the circles and got my answer - SEVEN.

JaxInL.A. 10:09 AM  

Among the plethora of SEVEN-LETTER WORDs THAT CANNOT BE PUT DOWN: puzzles. Or anything else with 2 of the "Scrabbly" letters J,K,Q,X or Z. You only get one each per game in regular Scrabble. No sizzles, fizzles, or gizzard, to name a few more.

Well, I've got a 14-year-old so I, like everyone else today, will go easy on this one. I want all youngsters possible to construct puzzles so I can feed my need into my dotage.

I finally got the first letter for "rooms in a harem" (eDA? ADA?) by remembering the many paintings called Odalisque, which means female slave in a harem and was apparently a very good excuse for painting a nude. Google it to see some wonderful images.

chefbea 10:10 AM  

Learned a lot of new words today. Had to google a lot.

Loved the Rudy picture!!!

JaxInL.A. 10:13 AM  

Oh. I forgot about the blanks. Thanks, @anon 10:05. So I learned something today.

mac 10:15 AM  

I had the whole brainteaser done before I finished most of the North. Helped me with at least one Z.

The Rudy clue reminded me of Angela's post yesterday. Ninon after scrim? What's up with these curtain fabrics? We haven't seen alae for quite a while, retro-fill?

@Gareth: right!

@syndy: what? capitals? punctuation?

retired_chemist 10:15 AM  

@ Good Girl - too late. There have been two already.

@ Noam D. Elkies - I hope you show up today. I bet your ability to grep can help us with the 7 letter Scrabble impossibility.

nanpilla 10:25 AM  

Nobody else started with IbrAke...?

quilter1 10:26 AM  

If memory serves (and it often doesn't) back in the Maleska days the curtains were usually NINON. Think of the sheer curtains hanging behind the heavy drapes that admitted light while preserving privacy. NINON is my first thought when damask doesn't fit.

Don't be so hard on David, age 14. I still occasionally played with dolls at 14. 1,2,3 D's were pretty amazing; how many 14 y/o's have even heard of any of those guys.

Good job, David. Keep 'em coming.

OldCarFudd 10:28 AM  

I enjoyed this and thought it was very clever. Kwitcherbitchin.

Ret_chem - Yes, I think the girl in the Peanuts comic is Patty. But how is the candy spelled? Does anyone know?

Rex - Love hoer and knoer and the Rudy pic.

Z 10:35 AM  

I rather like that two shows I don't normally watch both end with a "what we learned today" piece (The Dan Patrick Show and Morning Joe). What I learned today, "HOER" is Afrikaans for prostitute, which is closely tuned to RP's wordplay. Also, that quartz is an oxide and an antilog is a thing.

I finished at 50% for my NW guesses, getting the "V" but finishing with ELMOrTE/rINON. A double Natick for me.

For the genre, this is one of the better instructions as answers puzzles, but I don't much like the genre. Played hard for me, but if I had started with the downs instead of the acrosses the story would have been different.

As to the only seven letter word question - PIZZAZZ has four "Z's. So with the Z tile and the two blanks, you are still a Z short. Are there any other four Z words? Four Q words? For X words? Four K words? Four J words? I'm thinking PIZZAZZ fills the criterion.

retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

Nobody yet has commented on the shout-out to @ chefwen (14A). ALOHA, @ chefwen!

Matthew G. 10:39 AM  

Mostly easy, but I'd never heard of Rudy VALLEE, EL MONTE, or NINON, so that NW was as brutal as the rest of the puzzle was easy. VALLEE feels somewhat out of place with the rest of the grid, which is fairly hip with things like g2g.

Z 10:40 AM  

I see at least two other explanations appeared whilst I wrote my post. A little repetitive redundancy is good for the soul, I say.

lizerb - dyslexic Gecko

Lindsay 10:41 AM  

Not up on my California geography, so I went with EL MOrTE. Like Tombstone ARIZ, maybe?

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Rudy Vallee once came to our house for dinner along with my father's boss at whose house he was living. This was some time in the 1950's. He must have been pretty hard up in those days as he had no other home.

I don't remember anything about the dinner since we kids were fed earlier.

From fame to almost homeless!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

The two Rep. presidential candidates are Goldwater and John McCain, not Rudy G.
From ARIZ, not NY.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

Great write up today.
The puzzle? Not so fun.
I got the brainteazer and didn't finish El Monte/ninon collision out of lack of interest.

foodie 10:53 AM  

QDI agrees with Rex's rating, as Easy Medium. Yet, I totally sucked at solving this. The combination of crosswordese, proper nouns, and instruction theme was deadly for me. Or else I have a brain lesion secondary to hosting the holiday festivities. I hope it's repairable.

I confidently put NAUSEA for Sartre's oeuvre and clung to it for dear life. I wanted exponent but could not fit it. And I really struggled with the idea that one can define a single 7-letter word that was impossible in Scrabble.

I better go see if I can get my brain back..

John 10:59 AM  

I'm horrible at crosswordese words so this one was painful for me.

DBGeezer 11:11 AM  

Could someone explain how ATIP means eagerly expectant?
If a wait person is hoping for A TIP, they are eagerly expectant, but the TIP isn't expectant.

zatente What an Italian calls his shelter at camp.

No BS 11:13 AM  

Initial anonymous (please get a name, BTW): No mathematician, but I think the "4" is the exponent or logarithm (log for short) and 10,000 is the antilog. So: in base 10 (where 10 means ten), 10 to the 4th power equals 10,000 and 10,000 is the antilog of 4. In binary (base 2) where 10 means two the exponent (or logarithm) 4 would mean an antilog of 16. In both cases the 4 is an operator which means multiply the given number by itself 4 times.

retired_chemist 11:23 AM  

@ anon 10:48 - what part of {joke} ....{/joke} did you fail to understand?

mac 11:27 AM  

A tip is a dumpster in England.

Matthew G. 11:53 AM  

@DBGeezer: Neither my dictionary nor Google is much help with ATIP, but I imagine it to mean that you are standing on your tiptoes, i.e., all ATIP with anticipation. In any event, that's how I justified it to myself while solving this crosswordese-laden grid.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

in reference to qtip, i learned that how you treat me is more a reflection of who you are rather than who i am.
i got the answer and all but the last word in the teaser. i ended with parabole and a few blanks in that corner. 14 years old? you go boy!

retired_chemist 12:19 PM  

Ditto Matthew G. ATIP doesn't find much play on the web. Acronymic usage plus a Tagalog word that apparently means "thatch." hardly encouraging for the word as clued.

joho 12:48 PM  

I, too, had the same take as @MatthewG thinking ATIP has to mean you're all excited up on your tiptoes.

Also, on a more positive note than my initial post, you gotta admit that this puzzle has PIZZAZZ!

OldCarFudd 12:49 PM  

Webster's second unabridged:

atip (no hyphen) = a-tiptoe (with hyphen)

a-tiptoe = on tiptoe; eagerly expecting

Obscure, maybe, but kosher.

archaeoprof 12:55 PM  

David Steinberg is 14!??!!!

Clearly a major talent, whose work over time will come to be more "in the language."

@aloha chez: I'll never hear QTIP again without recalling your post.

@evil: had the same reaction to "bikini explosions." We're both still 14 years old.

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Luuuuuved this puz. thUmbsUp. Pizzazzy. Put up a heck ofa fight, at my house. The rest of these guys are crazy, David dude. For instance...

@31: "Easy Medium?" (Alternate clue: "Seance leader that gets real friendly with the customers") No. Way.

I had to think so hard, I almost hurt myself, comin' up with another word in ENGLISH, that can't legally be put down in Scrabble, and be spelled right. Obvious answer: ENGLISH. (It's a proper noun, etc., etc., so not legal. And it's definitely "in" the letters of E-N-G-L-I-S-H. Another example, SHINGLE, would be OK.) Har.

Stan 2:08 PM  

I didn't like doing it (kept getting stuck) but when I came close to the answer it was more and more fun. Something like an Acrostic.

Keep them coming, David.

Lewis 2:13 PM  

@rex -- great writeup, witty, funny and on the mark.
@jackj -- my sentiments exactly
@r.alph -- your Rudy comment was funny.
@evil and @dk -- surprised not to get a comment on ANTILOG

As for seven letter words that can't be put down in Scrabble, it seems that you could also count words such as DRIZZLE, KICKOFF, QUIZZES, XEROXED, YUKKING, SUKKOTH, and there is a word ZYZZYVA.

David, congratulations on getting your puzzle in the NYT -- please continue with this! Take the criticisms constructively, and they were centered on your fill. Very clever idea!

Tita 2:13 PM  

Really liked:
Really disliked:

Major multi-natick with said OONA, NINON, and ANTILOG. (refused to accept that I could not ferret that one out.)
Now after 50 years of assistng my mom in her drapery business, I can add 2 never-before-heard words: SCRIM and NINON.

Did like learning that quartz is an oxide.

Oh - and a nit with the rest of the world...the glyph on a bumper sticker represents the word love - not the word heart...I put this in the same category of minor annoyances as people who think the shark's name is Jaws.

Z 2:58 PM  

@Lewis - I believe all the words you list are playable if one has the two blank wildcard tiles among the seven.

Jp 3:13 PM  

Most of the puzzle felt like Monday or Tuesday. Got the PIZZAZ theme fairly quickly and the "brainteaser" as well. The NW corner was impenetrable and I needed google to finish this corner. EVA, NASA, ELMONTE, LEO VII and then ENGELS, VALLEE, ASIMOV in one small area. Too many names for my comfort and enjoyment.

Deb 3:24 PM  

Man, this is a tough crowd! I kind of like themes that are based on a phrase running throughout the grid; if the other fill is difficult, it makes it easier to complete. I also liked learning that PIZZAZZ is the only seven letter word that cannot be played in Scrabble. (And I don't doubt for a minute that it is, indeed, the only one. Surely Will would have checked that before publishing it.)

I hated ATIP (like @Retired_Chemist, I wanted "agog"), and wasn't wild about NINON, but have no quibbles about the puzzle other than those. Nice job, David.

skitor: Vaudeville actor

Chip Hilton 3:37 PM  

@ anon10:42 - I have a hard time believing that Rudy Vallee was 'almost homeless' in the 1950's. Back then, he was still quite active as a guest star on a number of tv shows and was appearing in plays (like 'How to Succeed....') and revues.

I liked the challenge of this puzzle. The long brainteaser clues gradually helped me finish, even that nasty NW corner. And, add me to the anti-ATIP chorus.

JenCT 3:44 PM  

Apparently, Peppermint Patty is the Peanuts character, while Peppermint PATTIE is the Hershey's candy.

Didn't know ALAE, ATIP, or LIAO.

Also tried ABOMBS & HBOMBS before NTESTS. Someday I'll get those straight...

Tita 4:08 PM  

Just grabbed the last ticket for the Westport tournament...

Oh what a nerd am I!!

Thanks mac, for alerting us to that. I hope to take you up on the post-event bash invite.
(I hope you don't set a threshold for entry based on ranking in the tourney...) ;)

John V 4:24 PM  

Good job, @Tita! See you and all there!

Lewis 4:28 PM  

@Z -- thanks -- you are absolutely right. D'oh!

mac 4:30 PM  

@Tita: in Westport I think only the top players are ranked!;-)

Loren Muse Smith 5:00 PM  
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Loren Muse Smith 5:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 5:05 PM  

I agree with everyone - the NW was brutal. Too many proper nouns. And is it fair to have TWO French literature questions? As a French major (which is basically a literature degree -quel dommage), I had NO EXIT and NANA for my toeholds, but it doesn't seem fair. Yeah - NONIN was weird.

@Z - your entry reminded me of the one about the agnostic, dyslexic, narcissistic insomniac who stays awake at night wondering if he's dog.

Patchen Barss 5:23 PM  

I know that the overlap in this community of those who love crosswords and those who love Scrabble is counterintuitively (to me) small, but in case anyone cares, "pizzazz" can, in fact, be played in SuperScrabble, which has two zees (that's "zeds" to me) and four blanks.

Always happy to provide Scrabble trivia. (And agreed - that northwest corner was deadly in all the wrong ways.)

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Chefwen –

It doesn't get much darker:

"And yet instead of feeling happy at my success, I have that sickly feeling I imagine one has when one shoots a deer in one of those deer parks where they're essentially tame and you know you're gonna get one. No joy."

Acme is the night light. Evil Doug casts sunshine on the dark side, much like the vampire killer flashes their silver cross.

Since I have no idea what are in Hawaiian goodies, I’ll have to wait to taste. I love that pineapple wine, however.

I must admit that I feel the same way as Rex about this kind of theme, which explains today's visit to the dark side. At least the ending had a little pizzazz....


Tita 5:43 PM  

@loren - thanks...your last entry made my day!!

Jaime in El Monte 6:18 PM  

El Monte is the West Coast Natick? Hardly. Its Legion Stadium was the "birthplace of West Coast R&B/Rock 'n Roll". More here:

evil doug 6:32 PM  


"Evil Doug casts sunshine on the dark side, much like the vampire killer flashes their silver cross."

Man, I think I want that on my tombstone. Probably the nicest comment I've received here. Much obliged.


Rudy Shankar 6:59 PM  

Let me say first off: I admire the entirely cruciverbalist professional crowd I am in the midst of. W/o false modesty, I can state I am an amateur, mainly because I do not devote as much time on all the puzzles. Youse folks finish and regale and (sometimes lambast) the clues well before I have a .. clue.

But just to let you know I appreciate the insights, comments and yes, even the nerdy comments on the virtues of ANTILOG vis-a-vis ANTIANTIEXPONENT.

mac 7:23 PM  

Amazing coincidence: googled Ha Jin, author of "Nanjing Requiem" and "Waiting", and found out he was born in Liaoning.

David Steinberg 7:39 PM  

Thanks for all the comments and constructive criticism. I'm 15 now, and I recently moved from the "brutal NW" to the El Monte vicinity.

retired_chemist 7:52 PM  

@ David S. - thanks for stopping by. A nice puzzle.

fergus 7:53 PM  

Mac, and any other pettifoggers -- a Tip in England is a dump; it's a skip that's a dumspter.

The Full El Monte 7:53 PM  

Steinberg, and with that comment, you da man!

joho 8:42 PM  

@David Steinberg ... best comment of the day!

foodie 9:06 PM  

@David Steinberg, OMG, you have a business with custom crosswords! I love that! I really wish I'd known while I was scratching my head over certain presents for the holidays. But now I know!

I like your pricing scheme. Does anyone ever admit to being a business?

This is beyond cool. I love this country...

Noam D. Elkies 10:19 PM  

@Ret.chem.: on the road this week; only saw your comment now. The main challenge in verifying the uniqueness of PIZZAZZ would be getting a complete list of all the (7-letter) words in English, not the exercise in grep scripts (or other programming) to run on the list. Anyway I imagine that this PIZZAZZ factoid is well known among Scrabble™ fanatics, and if there were another example somebody would have posted it already.

Congratulations to David S.; xwordinfo reports it's already his fourth NYTimes puzzle!

—NDE (captcha = exanti = neo-pro?)

Sfingi 11:26 PM  

Liked it.

Had some wrong turns, lounge for PATTIE, rugS for EYES, easy for GLIB. Didn't know LIAO, ELMONTE. Better learn some CA geography now that sonster lives in W. Hollywood.

Steinberg - thanx for the factoid!

@Ret. Chem - no one cn learn all the Popes. Stick with LEO

Kalaala 12:00 AM  

Congratulations, David Steinberg! Your puzzle was enjoyable, and, as a Scrabble player, I'm glad to know about the uniqueness of PIZZAZZ. Although the NW drew some complaints, with LEOVII and GLIB as toeholds, I was able to finish. Also I enjoyed learning some new weird words (NINON, ATIP, ANTILOG) - all the better for my Scrabble game! Best wishes to you in future construction endeavors.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

I'm still bummed that the circles don't show up online in the Times Reader. Would have made the NW a lot easier. Makes "SEVEN" at 27A a gimme. Never heard of NINON; stuck on NYLON for a long time. Even tried NILON after I crossed EL MONTE.

Novelty Pens 1:24 PM  

Tough puzzle for me lol

Novelty Pens 1:25 PM  

Tough puzzle for me lol

Simply, Ron 12:43 PM  

Oh the whiners, nitpickers, naysayers and DNFers!! Poor babies. My suggestion is to stop at the Wednesday puzzle. It's a puzzle folks not a coloring book for children. To hell with rules of constructing. Your job is to attempt and, hopefully, solve the puzzle. Most, probably know that during WWII the codebreakers in Britain and the U.S. were of a high IQ and also had a great affinity for CWPs.

Benedict XVI 1:43 PM  

If only my Catholic church had had the sense to name many of its pontiffs Rex instead of Leo or Pius, then the 31st of them - REX XXXI - also would be a seven-letter word impossible to get down in Scrabble!

Pacem in Terris and on this blog. Amen.

Solving in Seattle 2:10 PM  

ATIP - really! I also got hung up on "Start of many a bumper sticker" stubbornly sticking with "honkif." Otherwise kind of enjoyed the puzzzzle.

Solving in Seattle.

Steve in PDX 2:53 PM  

NTESTS is crapfill. Especially since ATOMIC fits the space and is a far superior answer.

NTESTS comes up in all of three documents when googled.


Doubt this dreck would have been published if not for the 14-year-old novelty factor.

Mighty Nisden 6:06 PM  

Impossible... So many words I didn't know. Had to google my a** off just to get somewhere. Usually I've been able to get most of Thursay puzzles. THEN I see an 'easy-medium' for Rex. D'oh..

I remembered OONA from a long time ago when I first started to do crossword puzzles and my dad knew that answer! After not solving for years and years I still remember that. Ah the things we learn from doing crosswords!

rain forest 6:31 PM  

Futilely publishing a comment from the syndi-side, I just want to say that the self-appointed math expert "Anonymous" wouldn't know an antilog from third base, to mix two disses. Log=exponent. End of story.
Secondly, the printing of random photos is not only no longer funny, it is annoying.
Pain from a puzzle? Spare me.
NW corner was fine. Puzzle was fine.

Dirigonzo 6:45 PM  

From the syndicate, I finished this in a completely bass-ackward way: I had enough circles filled in to see PIZZAZZ, which gave me enough more to guess the brainteaser, which led to the rest of the grid. Except the curtain fabric at 20d - I left the first letter blank.

Rudy Vallee is famous around these parts as the singer who made famous the Maine "Stein Song", the official "fight song" of the University of Maine, my alma mater.

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