Boss of fashion / TUE 2-28-12 / Beau Brummels / Half wolf's cry / Canyon locales

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Constructor: Randall J. Hartman

Relative difficulty: Medium


Word of the Day: Beau Brummell (29D: Beau Brummells = FOPS) —
A dandy; a fop.

[After George Bryan ("Beau") Brummell.] (
Beau Brummell, born as George Bryan Brummell (7 June 1778 – 30 March 1840 (aged 61)), was the arbiter of men's fashion in Regency England and a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He established the mode of men wearing understated, but fitted, tailored clothes including dark suits and full-length trousers, adorned with an elaborately knotted cravat. // Beau Brummell is credited with introducing and establishing as fashion the modern man's suit, worn with a tie. He claimed he took five hours to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with  champagne. His style of dress is often referred to as dandyism. (wikipedia)

• • •

There is nothing to say about this puzzle. The theme "answer" says it all. I think this is a stupid gimmick that drains the puzzle of all joy. You are of course free to feel however you feel. Could've been done with FOURTEEN or EIGHTEEN or FORTY-TWO, so who cares? It's not as if the clues are that interesting. In fact, the clues only seemed *slightly* odd at times, which suggests that 13 is a pretty common letter count for puzzle clues. Didn't exactly strain the cluing. Overall, the puzzle was very easy, except for the theme "answer," which I never paid attention to after I realized the only way I was going to get it was from crosses. Lots and lots of crosses. Only issues—slow on the uptake with the meaning of "wolf" in 65A: Half a wolf's cry (HUBBA); couldn't remember what the hell Beau Brummells were (I was thinking shoes ... why??); a [Facebook entry] is a NAME? I'm on Facebook a lot, and I don't get that at all; cluing on RIMS absolutely baffled me. RIMS are [Canyon locales] the same way that states are [Country locales]. Which is to say—no. Lastly, I hate SINGLE. EVERY SINGLE CLUE? You mean EVERY CLUE. SINGLE does nothing. Nothing. It's redundant. Why not DAMNED? EVERY DAMNED CLUE ... yes, I like that much better.

The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Pete 12:09 AM  

See what you've wrought Rex? Dissing another letter latter ala yesterday, an add a letter/drop a letter, dissing every tired theme, and we get this. Yeah, it probably hasn't been done before, except it's all eerily similar to previous ones where all the clues start with 'B' or 'T' or some other damned letter. Now we get thirteen letters per clue. All this, just so Will tries something new, just to please you. Well Rex & Will, not everything new is good. Some new things just plain suck.

P.S. SanFranMan was right yesterday. I paid good money for this monitor, just not to have it be 85% blank.

Evan 12:10 AM  

I'm grumpy simply for the fact that I was naticked by the LORI/ORAN crossing. It's possible that it was made tougher by the gimmicky 13-letter cluing, but I had no idea who Lori Singer is, and asking me to pull an Algerian port out of my brain is basically a non-starter for me.

In fairness to Randall Hartman, I'm sure he worked really hard to get all of the clues to fit the 13-letter constraint -- and knowing myself, every time I've made a puzzle, I actually struggle to make the clues shorter, so I can appreciate his stab at brevity. But beyond my being surly at the LORI/ORAN crossing, that northern section is chock full of ugly. It could be revised to the following:

S I N G L E . . .
S ■ ■ S . . . . .

There. No more OLES, ELAN, LORI, or ORAN. Now the trick is just getting some 13-letter clues for each of them. "Actress Gilpin" and "Persian sprite" work for PERI. "Orange coating" works for PEEL. I dunno. Use your imagination.

Tobias Duncan 12:18 AM  

I hate multiple part theme puzzles.Instructions , notes, poems, quotes, I just hate them.

As soon as I printed out the puzzle I thought "huh new format here as well" .I know something was funny with it and my brain was still stuck on the new blogger look.

My neighbors let me drive their Dodge Omni when I was about ten.Parents never knew.Rural existence is very different.

How can you cry Hubba Hubba ? It just hits the ear wrong.

jae 12:29 AM  

Slightly tougher than medium for me.  Clever idea but not my favorite type of puzzle.  Not much HUBBA either. So, I guess I agree with Rex and EVERY SINGLE one so far.

How about " prefix for   umnavigate or umcise" for 10d just for a smattering of whimsey?

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Rex, That might be the best writeup I've ever seen you do. Not because you dissed the puzzle or because don't like the theme. I just like it when you say what you are thinking directly and succinctly and then add a little joke at the end -- EVERY DAMNED CLUE, yes, I like that too, LOL....


Alias Circ-la Memos 12:47 AM  

When the first three answers were OSLO, OLES, OCOME
i thought the gimmick was going to be all entries start with O!
But it was that the clues were 13 letters. Kinda unlucky.

The only thing I liked, perversely, is that I had to struggle a bit as i had YAK/KOTO which screwed me up.

retired_chemist 2:17 AM  

Hint? A hint helps you solve. This "hint" does nothing of the sort. It says."Look at me. I have constructed something cute," but it does not at all help you solve. Grumph.

Not a lot of interest in the fill here either.


Octavian Puff 2:25 AM  

I usually disagree w/ Rex but this time I am 100% in his camp.

This is a pointless puzzle and a waste of three minutes of my life. Who cares how many letters are in the clues? I'll answer that: Not a single person.

Bottom left edge of the grid says it all: "Worst seen."

chefwen 3:37 AM  

I'm not in love with this new format, but I'm of a certain age where change is not welcomed.

As for this puzzle, I will issue a big MEH. Easy and uninteresting in my book. I agree with everything Sir Rex says, and I don't do that often.

Deb 3:38 AM  

At the risk of repeating myself*, the best thing about today's puzzle is this blog. I've always loved the word FOP so it was fun to learn not only the derivation of the word, but that pretty much any man who dons a suit today is, by definition, a FOP! How can you not love that?

*This could be more fun than discussing this dud of a puzzle. Throw out another cliched phrase that makes no sense.

Ulrich 5:07 AM  

@ret_chem: Agreed--"hint" is a total misnomer. It helped me solve the puzzle, though, b/c I got the entire 3-part phrase with way less than 50% of the crosses in place and a quick spot-check of the no. of letters in each clue. And that gave me a lot of stuff to work with subsequently--actually, I flew through this faster than through yesterday's, helped, no doubt, by the fact that for us Europeans who know their Camus, ORAN is a gimmie.

Why 13? Same reason why a car has 4 wheels, not 3, not 5: It works! (Yes, yes--save your bullets: I know the analogy is not perfect)

Z 7:19 AM  


joho 7:23 AM  

After I finished I said to myself, "Yep, they sure do, every clue has thirteen letters."

Not much more to say about this one.

Talk about a Tuesday going awry!

evil doug 7:24 AM  

'Limp' over 'lass' is kind of a sad thought....


Z 7:47 AM  

The Borg have removed the email update option for comments. It must be for my own good.

On my Mac I can use "command +" to increase the font size so that the comments use 40% of the screen instead of just 15%.

The Borg (aka Google) knows what is best. Resistance is futile.

efrex 7:52 AM  

I figured Rex was gonna be all over this one. Personally, I dunno: on the one hand, it's pretty gimmicky, with all the complaints re: hints and SINGLE mentioned above; on the other hand, Tuesdays are always gonna be a bit of a "meh," and considering the constraints that Mr. Hartman operated under, I thought the cluing and fill was pretty decent. Other than the usual "does he mean PEN or STY?" dilemma, this one fell pretty quickly and cleanly.

Rudy 7:53 AM  

Maybe the theme asnwer should have been EVERY SINGLE CLUE IN THIS PUZZLE WAS STARTLINGLY EASY

AnnieD 8:02 AM  

Perhaps if this puzzle had been published on a Friday the 13th...

which, if you recall Pogo's Churchy LaFemme, is the absolute worst when Friday the 13th comes on a Wednesday!

evil doug 8:08 AM  

I've been reading Pogo since my dad started handing me down his books from the early 50's---and Pogo was a possum, not an O-possum.


David 8:17 AM  

Each clue having thirteen letters became evident after I put in THIRTEEN LETTERS at the bottom, so nothing exciting there. Only thing that was mildly different was seeing each clue on one line.

Very easy except for the far middle-west - never used a Buddy List and didn't know it was associated with AOL, and I had THOU for THEE at first. Even with that slow-up I still finished in under 5 minutes.

Sue McC 8:21 AM  

Give me a challenging puzzle over a soft gimmick like this any day. BORING!

John V 8:23 AM  

When I first looked at the puzzle on the printed page, I was intrigued by the odd appearance of the clues, which just jumped off the page. Note that not only are the clues all thirteen letter long, but they are all single line entries. I found that oddly disturbing and before writing anything down, I wondered if the appearance of the clues meant anything, which of course it did. I mean, even the identical spacing between the printed clues on the page was disturbing (yes, I am easily disturbed.)

So here we have an criciverbalist's etude, a study of a technique. I admire it as such. It was real easy, easier than yesterday. Only hitches were wanting STUD for SIRE and NEON for OMNI.

AnnieD 8:25 AM  

Evil Doug, exactly!!

Deck us all with Boston Charley...

evil doug 8:27 AM  


Walla Walla Wash, and Kalamazoo.


jberg 8:34 AM  

Medium, really? Seemed really easy to me, but I don't time it. And there are not a lot of links between the different parts, which I guess makes it a little easier.

But I agree - thirteen? Oh, OK.

I've already beefed twice about IRANI for Iranian, so I won't repeat myself; anyway the WORST clue in this puzzle is 71A, "Most egregious." Egregious is like unique; it either is or it isn't, so you can't put it in the comparative or superlative. Have to find another way to get to 13 letters there.

Like @ACME, I thought the theme was going to have something to do with the initial Os in the first row. In fact, I wrote in O COME at 9A without even asking myself if there were other possibilities. Then I realized that you can't have every entry start with O unless the top line reads OOOO OOOO OOOOO and the left side reads OOOO OOOOO OOOO; then I noticed the next two acrosses started with P and thinking this would be really neat - but it probably couldn't have been done.

jesser 8:37 AM  

Writeovers were TErse before TESTY at 35D and Stand before SLANT at 34D. STY, DENT and AISLE gave me clarity.

I'm in ACME's camp. I think this puzzle started out wanting to be O themed. That didn't work, so we went to 13. Which might have been cooler if O were the 13th letter of the alphabet, but it isn't.

PUFF the Magic Dragon was one of my favorite songs as a kid. That's what I'll say that's nice. :-)

OldCarFudd 8:38 AM  

I guess the NYT is shedding subscribers who don't fit its objectives. But why did it have to send me the TV Guide instead?

quilter1 8:43 AM  

My response is so what? Every clue/answer is tired old crosswordese. No challenge and the theme is nothing. Gladly I have bonus puzzles from the BEQ site yesterday.

KRMunson 8:49 AM  

I embrace change, if it's better than the original. In my book, the new blog format sucks! I'll play Rex here and say that the new format of blank space doesn't work for me at all. Just sayin.

foodie 8:56 AM  

I would like to thank the combination of a "hint" puzzle and annoying new blogger format for motivating me to focus on work, right now.

dk 8:59 AM  

"a stupid gimmick that drains the puzzle of all joy"

This puzzle, this single (err... damn) puzzle soundly puts Tuesday into the most hated puzzle day and I do not even have to run the numbers to prove it.

-1* (minus 1 star) dk goes negative, remember when Perry Mason went color?

My only chortle came as I saw the puzzle in the paper and thought Tobias is going to love this - not.

@Z, I confess I am the BORG. I taunted you secretly with an Anon post. Google is just a tool. Resistance is futile! Prepare to be assimilated. As you can see by your type face it is happening.


dk 9:07 AM  

This new blog format has a bad ♨

I am calling an 🚑

chefbea 9:09 AM  

What everyone else has said

Also the format on the side bar of the NYT was different this morning. I usually click on "puzzles and crosswords" to get the puzzle. Today it just said "crosswords" and was in a different spot.

Also our posts now have the word "said" after our name.

buzzheart 9:13 AM  

As the founder of the dandiacal movement Brummel was actually the counterpart of a fop. The 18th century fop overdressed with britches, stockings and powdered wigs. The nineteenth century dandy chose understated but elegant masculine dress with trousers, cravats and no wig. It was the forerunner to the modern business suit.

jackj 9:15 AM  

A look at the clues when the puzzle popped up on the screen didn’t signal the theme but it certainly showed such regimentation, order and attitude as to make anyone who has even a hint of OCD, (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), to drool in delight.

When we learned the clues were all thirteen letters long, that sealed the deal and clearly, this puzzle belongs in the DSM (the American Psychiatrists Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”).

So, how do the answers fare in this Teutonic exercise? Easy peasy, with nary a poser in the puzzle with the possible exception of HUBBA, since younger solvers are likely unaware that HUBBA HUBBA was the prescribed mating call of returning WWII vets as they delightedly ogled comely bobby-soxers.

A final note for Randall H. and Will:

A thirteen letter review of this puzzle could be:

“It was to die for.”

But that would require a three letter rebuttal:


(Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick in branding the puzzle as slightly off-kilter because when it’s printed out it’s starting to look elegant enough for framing.)
Uh oh.

orangeblossomspecial 9:21 AM  

31A "At last", a great hit from Glenn Miller, then from Etta James. One version for dancing, another for crying.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

It was a disaster - Flowerlady9

hazel 10:04 AM  

Thud and double thud. I like my ornery tuesdays. This was just a big fat thud. Ack.

H 10:07 AM  

I have no idea how "fop" and "dandy" became synomous as they were two very different sartorial movements. The "dandy" was started by Beau Brummell and it was a response to the overly ornamented fop. Generally fops and dandies didn't even get along. It's sad that these two words now apparently mean the same thing.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:10 AM  

I find the change in Blogger format and procedure a very distressing development indeed.

Without the option to have follow-up comments sent to one's email address, the back-and-forth, give-and-take which got me so involved in the discussions on the blog and the people posting those comments will surely wither. I feel that the spirit of community which I found here will fade away under this new system.

I have less of a problem with the narrow format of the comments. When I first click on Comments, a small window opens, just as wide as the comments themselves, so with just a bit more scrolling I can view both comments and the original blog simultaneously.

But all in all, I don't like these changes!

Two Ponies 10:26 AM  

I noticed something was fishy when I glanced over the clues. I was so disappointed in the outcome. Thirteen letters with no word play, puns, or humor. What a waste of time.

Miette 10:26 AM  

Very easy puzzle. Far more so than Monday's offering. I was able to fill in the theme answers about 3/4 way through which helped immensely. I didn't even have to google any clues.

BTW, (I think) Lori Singer starred opposite Kevin Bacon in the original FOOTLOOSE movie. So that was a gimme.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

As a Times newspaper solver, I saw instantly that something was up with the clues. Counted the letters of three of them, so "knew" the gimmick before entering a SINGLE letter. Solved for EVERY SINGLE CLUE and just wrote in the other two 15s without verifying the crossings.

Sorry to say this was not a satisfying solve, for several reasons.

EVERY SINGLE is redundant. The 45-letter explanation is dull, though typical of a puzzle like this. The burden is thus placed on the remaining 75 words to provide the pizzazz that's missing in the longest answers. Alas, pizzazz is also missing in the remaining 75 words. It would appear that more attention was paid to writing 13-letter clues than to filling the grid.

While one must always appreciate the effort required to construct and clue a puzzle, the words of Fake Will Shortz come to mind: (this) puzzle should be framed and placed on the wall, in that it should never be solved by anyone,ever.

Tita 10:31 AM  

My only delight in this puzzle was that the biggest OPOSSUM I ever saw sauntered across our property this morning...heading over to his buffet (we call it a compost pile).
Then here he is again!
Any morning is cheery when a marsupial walks by... ;)

Meh...I was thinking answers, not clues, so never even got it till I came here... Duh!!
Disadvantage of online solving - I am pretty sure that like JohnV, I would have noticed something up with the clues, but I look only at the clues at the top of my e-grid.

Tita 10:32 AM  

@chefbea - you're right about the sidebar...that "/" was my landmark to finding the puzzle selection quickly - now it is gone!
(Though I'm pretty sure the posts always said said)

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Really easy...saw the format of clues and had an idea something was up. Wanted more of a challenge. Thought it was done by another teenager or a first time maker.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

The puzzle was too easy,
The "theme" gave nothing to enjoy-
And this new blog format
serves only to ANNOY!!!

brentwoodbabe 10:35 AM  

After slogging through the rest of the clues, I looked at the theme answer and had a "[b]e sure to drink your Ovaltine" moment.

JoeTheJuggler 10:36 AM  

And 13 was topical and spot on because today's date is. . . oh nevermind.

Masked and Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Hey, folks -- buck up! It could be worse. Every (single) line in the comments section could now be thirteen letters long.

Maybe we could now call Blogger "The Blog". Close.

David 10:55 AM  

The word "conceit" comes to mind - as a description of this puzzle.

Otherwise it was a trudge through short response, with no real sense of accomplishment at the end unfortunately.

Masked and Anonymous 10:57 AM  

...Nope. "The Blorg". Says it all.

Matthew G. 10:58 AM  

I usually don't share Rex's dislike for "instruction" puzzles, but today I do. Just a pointless theme. It was made all the more so because I picked up the paper and immediately thought, "Look at all those odd-looking short clues. The theme is going to turn out to be something about how the clues are all short, and it's going to be anticlimactic, and then Rex is going to slam this."


Andy 11:06 AM  


Howard B 11:09 AM  

Well, I'm going to do the devil's advocate thing here.

You know, I agree this wasn't too exciting and the fill wasn't anything to jump about. I considered this as an early-week themeless as I solved, and afterwards just kind of looked over the clues as a writer, and kind of admired some of the phrasing, which wasn't that stilted. Without the "hints", the clues actually read naturally.

So in that sense, I kind of like these sorts of puzzles. It gives solvers who don't normally do the late week themeless puzzles a similar experience. I only wish the answers were as lively as that type normally allows. Not a favorite, but really nothing that stood out as nasty either. A pretty accessible, early-week puzzle. And so it goes.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

As much as I have enjoyed this blog in the past, this may be my last trip here. a) I don't like the "nattering nabobs of negativism" b) I don't like the new format. c) I don't like the new capchas. Hmm, I guess I'm my own nattering nabob of negativism. Damn, I hate it when that happens.

Anoa Bob 11:41 AM  

I wonder if this puzzle is unique among every single puzzle ever published during the Will Shortz era, to wit, does every single clue appear in the final version unchanged from the way it was originally submitted by Mr. Hartman? From what I understand, Will usually changes at least some of the clues. But here with the thirteen letter constraint, maybe, for the first time, not.

We have yet another appearance of what I'm calling the nonexistent-outside-of-crosswords entry I BAR at 58D (Over 50 appearances in the NYT according to XWordinfo). It's clued here as "Beam in a bridge".

When I was a kid, my grandfather was a bridge inspector and he would take me along on occasion and give me a lesson in bridge building and maintenance. There were no I BARs in those bridges that I remember. Tons, literally, of I beams, but no I BARs.

Anybody ever actually seen an I BAR? Construction BARs are almost always round. Seen end on, the only letter they would resemble would be an "O".

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

@Z 7:47, Thanks for the Command + tip. Now I can read this blog which I preferred in the former form.

Jeffrey 11:47 AM  

The September 5, 2009 puzzle by Mike Nothnagel was the playoff puzzle from Lollapuzzoola 2 and was published without any clue changes.

chefbea 11:59 AM  

Tissue box cosi!!!

Count the letters :-)

nanpilla 12:02 PM  

This was boring
Whats the point?
On to Wednesday

wyonative 12:10 PM  

Ooh, John V., "cruciverbalist etude"!! Love it.

The comments today are an example of "readire," one of my capchas last week.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

This is a constructor's ego trip
To the solver it's just DULL...
Makes me re-evaluate

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

I think we should look at this puzzle much like famers who plant corn. Corn depletes the soil of nitrogen, so after a few seasons of growing corn the farmer might grow soy beans, which will put the nitrogen back in the soil for future corn crops. This puzzle, in short, is a change of pace, which undoubtedly will make tomorrow’s look that much better for the solver looking for the traditional challenge. Whereas some solvers might look for the challenge in wordplay or construction, other solvers seek out the joy in Will’s little tricks and games. After all this is only Tuesday and there really is only so many twists one can put in a Tuesday puzzle that is an easy solve by definition. I am reminded of that line in the movie Patton when the general was asked by a chaplain whether he read the Bible he kept with him and Patton replied, “Every God-damned day.”


Sparky 1:06 PM  

Hand up for meh. When I saw the clues lined up in the paper figured it would be something like that. Also hate quips and quotes.

New format bland looking. Just hope it works. @BobK-blog sites still have email link on my Blogger. Maybe it's a Mac problem? @Chefbea. It always said said. This is turning into a strange week. Onward.

chefbea 1:20 PM  

@z how do you make it smaller??? Made the box way too big.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

@Chefbea - If Command [Control] '+' makes it bigger, Command[Control] '-' makes it smaller.

baja 1:29 PM  

Bah Humbug!

Loren Muse Smith 2:00 PM  

Wow. I'm late today and feel bad reading all the negative comments. I'm with @Howard B and kind of like these puzzles. Maybe I'm still new enough to all of this that I'm so grateful to have a puzzle every day that I don't want to complain. I actually smiled when I saw the reveal.

@Acme, Jberg, Jesser- I, too, smelled some funny business with all the O's.

Didn't blink at HUBBA. I can easily picture Hillbilly Tubby Bubba shouting HUBBA HUBBA.

I don't object to SINGLE, either. Emphasis. Once I ate every single cotton pickin' ice cream sandwich out of a previously unopened box and I'm not making that up.

@Evil - is the difference between opossum and possum the same as the difference between naked and neckid?

@Deb - I, too, enjoy the word FOP.The talk of men's fashion reminded me of David Sedaris' discussion of it on Letterman:

GILL I. 2:27 PM  

O COME, was it really that bad? I can't remember when a puzzle was so reviled. I'll say it was a bit different and there were some things I didn't like. YES, @Evil is correct - Pogo was never an opossum, I learned a lot about Okefenokee swamp because of that strip and my favorite character was Porky Pine.
Did you know that at the end of the 19th century, American dandies were called dudes? Beau Brummells was a DANDY....

Sir Hillary 2:34 PM  

Maybe if he had limited it to EVERYACROSSCLUE, he could have had focused on more high-quality fill and down clues that were free of constraints. Not a huge difference perhaps, but still...

Cathyat40 2:37 PM  

As soon as I got the theme I thought "Rex is going to hate this." That was the most fun aspect of the puzzle - the prediction and anticipation of Rex's response. Maybe that's why Will uses these puzzles - he probably gets a kick out of pissing Rex off.

GILL I. 2:39 PM  

AAACK - what happened to follow-up comments? Are they no long sent to email? Pray tell, what am I doing wrong?

Masked and Anonymous's Last Silver Bullet 2:50 PM  

I take the view that no crossword is inherently "bad". Some just have more U's than others, have funkier grid designs, or are more memorable in some other notable way.

@Mr. Hartman... Looks like this puz is going to be a whole truckload of memorable. Cute idea. Perhaps best not to try that particular angle again. Always cool to have a ZEPPELIN fly by, tho. (P.S. Sorry that The Blorg ate some of our enthusiasm today.)

thUmbsUp to solvers who managed to look on the bright side of the grid. Peace on earth, good Will toward TuesPuzs.

Lewis 2:50 PM  

I had a malapop -- at 40A I thought "loge" which of course didn't fit, and then had it later at 3D.

I thought the clues yesterday and today were just too obvious, even more than they should be on a Monday and Tuesday. Someone complained about this yesterday, asking if it was possible to have a puzzle that's too easy for a Monday NYT, and today someone implied this was like a TV Guide puzzle. So JFC, I don't think the corn analogy holds, as well stated as it was. While this puzzle may be out of the box, it and yesterday's puzzle in my opinion fall short of the NYT bar, which is another issue altogether.

Bird 3:01 PM  

To paraphrase Monty Python, this puzzle was "Dull, dull, dull." The hints were not hints. They did not provide clues to a theme or fancy fill. Yes they helped in the solving of the puzzle, but only because I filled them in early and thus had letters for crosses. This does not even count as a themed puzzle. There is no gimmick or wordplay. This is not a rebus or pun or quote puzzle. Where is the pizazz? Where is the AHA moment. Like @brentwoodbabe I also thought "Ovaltine . . ." Today's entry does not even count as a puzzle. A puzzle is supposed to pose a problem with some degree of difficulty to solve. Maybe this grid should have been in a local newspaper, but not the NYT.

Sorry Mr. Hartman. I do applaud your effort (I have not constructed a puzzle), but this was not a fun puzzle to solve.

Loren Muse Smith 3:01 PM  

@Lewis - just curious - "another issue altogether." Did you word it that way to avoid the impossible- to- spell "a whole 'nother issue?"

I've been thinking about this one for a while.

Bird 3:02 PM  

PS. The new Comments format sucks.

Doc John 3:06 PM  

I like every damned clue, too!
The reveal was ridiculous and, what's more, didn't help solve the puzzle in any way. When I first opened the puzzle in Across Lite, I could see that there was something unusual about the clues and at first I looked at their initial letters but that didn't spell anything so I left it. So each clue had 13 letters- big whoop. There could have been any 3 part quip in that part.
That said, the puzzle was smooth and easy. More of a Monday, really.
P.S. Captcha sucks!

swimslikeafish 3:12 PM  

Pogo was certainly a possum not an o-possum. In my family we all read Pogo, sometimes aloud to each other. And when things went well, someone would say "Jes fine, said the bug," which was from a favorite Pogo strip.
But unfortunately this puzzle was not "jes fine." Meh.

sanfranman59 3:21 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Tue 7:53, 8:51, 0.89, 18%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:03, 4:35, 0.88, 13%, Easy

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Cathyat40 - There are several ways to look at your statement that Will is trying to piss off Rex. The first is that Will deems it worth his precious time to utilize it in a manner that will irritate an otherwise charming crtic of the NYT XWPs. The second is that you assume it is possible to piss Rex off. To my knowledge this rarely happens and I feel honored that I achieved that success.

Third, I am reminded what John Wayne (Captain Torre) said to Carrol O'Conner (Commander Burke) in "In Harm's Way."

Captain Rockwell Torrey: Get a message off to Pearl. "Have taken two torpedoes." Fill in our position. "Extent of damage unknown. Will advise."

Commander Burke: And break radio silence, sir?

Captain Rockwell Torrey: Burke, don't you think the Japanese know by now where we are?

The Mechanical Hound 3:55 PM  

If "Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine" is a stupid commercial, then "Every single [damned] clue in this [damned] puzzle has thirteen letters" is a stupid brag.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Thar Loren goes agin, using the “H” word. I can stand a lot of things on this blog, being called a horse’s ass, being called a pompous ass, being called out by Evil Doug just because I said he mailed it in, being called out by Matthew for getting my facts wrong and getting banished by Rex for some intemperate remark, but I can’t stand the “H” word. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I hate it more than I love this puzzle. I think I’m gonna cry….


BTW, “banished by Rex” has 13 letters.

xyz 4:39 PM  

Rex surely can be a grumpy ogre, rather humourless and pedantic. Interesting today to see the first few comment today so negative. A very ready puzzle to me to bre topical, it was visually striking to see the clues so the theme was a fead give away. Higher mathematical skills were more important today than puzzler rote as I call it.

Higher level puzzles become self-defeating as I see it and have learned on here over the last 4 years. Todays work was rather cool on many levels but requires compromises as some wil view it. The internet and blogs have removed all the innocence and fun from simple puzzles.

So be it, my brother in law is in hospital with really serious shit, I'll be doing a ton of puzzles this week, good, bad & ugly -but they are ALL good except when rules fail them.

This one did NOT fail.

Conspiracy Theorist 4:58 PM  

@M&A... "13" is the inverse of "31"...

jackj 5:09 PM  

What does Rex have to say about the new format?

Thirteen 5:33 PM  

Aside from this not being a themed puzzle (@Bird) and the hints not being hints (@retiredchemist) and a flop as a puzzle . . .

- Had DART for OMNI and LIP for YAP
- Who cries HUBBA, HUBBA. You're supposed to use your sexy voice.
- LORI crossing ORAN is tough, but the R to make LORI seemed the right choice.
- AOLER?? Really? So we can add an "ER" to a thing and it becomes a legit word?
- Then there is ISM and SSE

I do like ZEPPELIN and PUFF. Reminds me of the INAGADDADAVIDA/HERBAGE puzzle from last week.

chefbea 5:51 PM  

Doh!!! Thanks anon

mac 6:16 PM  

Without the theme gimmick the puzzle would be a fine Tuesday. The printed NYT version looks very odd, as if it was stretched up and down. Big spaces between the clues, almost double space.

Not a great puzzle day. And, for the record, the new blog format is not pretty. Where did we see the .....said again?

Martin 6:43 PM  

Last week, when I solved this puzzle, I put a reminder in my calendar to come by and check out the blood on the walls. I enjoy a day like this here, kind of how I enjoy a comment thread every once in a while.

For the record, it's probably not anyone's favorite theme but shaking things up on a Tuesday is admirable in its own right.

Anonymous 7:10 PM  

How is the relative difficulty of this puzzle medium yet yesterday was considered easy? Today's cluing was easier than yesterday's.

JenCT 7:47 PM  

@Tita: your comment made me laugh - possums frequent our compost pile, also. Why do they always look at you with an expression of annoyance, as if they're saying, "Get out of here - no one invited you!"

The puzzle? Meh.

JenCT 8:48 PM  

After some research, it seems the Threaded Comments feature may be clashing with the Twitter gadget?

Anyone else know more?

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

so coincidental. I was on a tour today of a certain famous military college. I had started the puzzle on the bus enroute to the college but I did not get it done. Our tour guide must have used the phrase "ever single [fill in the blank]" at least 42 times. So, when I got back on the bus I saw the light.

Z 9:20 PM  

Anon @ 11:38 - The BLORG will be assimilating quoters of Spiro Agnew next. Resistance is Futile.

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

Z - Anon is safe. While "nattering nabobs of negativism" was used by Agnew, it was actuallt coined by his speech writer William Safire, who was, among other things, also one of the greatest columnists the NYT has ever had.

Sfingi 10:26 PM  

@Z - Is that the Borg or the Boyg (as in Peer Gynt)? It do suck.

As for the puzzle, though it seemed like a collection of crosswordese, as an OCD sufferer (or enjoyer), I understand the feeling of being compelled by some inner urge to create such a device governed by such constraints.

Z 11:38 PM  

@Anon 9:48 - The Blorg have already assimilated people who think that the speechwriter is the person to cite.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Z - I have bad news for you. I killed the Blorg, slowly, painfully, gleefully. If you are further contacted beware of identity theft.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Late to the game, but...

To all I-BAR deniers:

Google [Oakland Bay Bridge Ibar]

Though Google suggests [Oakland Bay Bridge eyebar], which has far fewer hits but is probably the correct form (a beam ending in a circular "eye" hole).

sanfranman59 1:40 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:32, 6:49, 0.96, 32%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:00, 8:51, 0.90, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:30, 3:40, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:01, 4:35, 0.88, 11%, Easy

Badir 1:36 PM  

I though this should at least have been ren two weeks later, when it would have been on the 13th.

Chris P. 8:31 AM  

This may have been said, but no engineer uses the term "IBAR". We use "I-BEAMS". "REBAR" can be used to reinforce concrete.

This is misused repeatedly.

Red Valerian 11:40 AM  

AH HA HA HA! This blog cracks me up. @Martin: " comment thread" tee hee. But wittier, no?

@Octavian Puff: "pointless puzzle," eh? It's a crossword puzzle, for heaven's sake.

@John V and a couple of others--I, too, noticed the strange appearance of the clues and got the "hint" from (not "off of" ;-) just a few crosses in the first part.

Didn't like SONGS clued with "vocalizations," but I can't think of a better 13-letter clue.

Randall J. Hartman--I think many of the people here enjoy being crabby and put-out. Which means, somewhat paradoxically, that their complaining is evidence of your puzzle's success. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Red Val 11:40: Bullseye! Right on, Dude! Amen to your opine. Lots of whiners on this blog. And it starts at the top. The comments by Evil D. are the one reason I come back. For the ladies: Is every meal you prepare a gourmand's delight? For the men: Do you consistently pitch a perfect game? C'mon, folks, it's a crossword puzzle.

meljoh 1:22 PM  

I did this puzzle while otherwise (ahem!) engaged. So I deem it too easy but I always like something a little different so it has its place.

Solving in Seattle 1:26 PM  

Being a month late syndee I get the pleasure of reading, or not reading, a hundred plus comments from the others. This was the first time I've read them all. There's some funny stuff here!

So, the news flash is that, following the skewering that you all gave Mr. Hartman, he has forsaken constructing crossword puzzles containing only 13 letters and has take up Haiku.

DMGrandma 2:01 PM  

No hum!

DMG 2:03 PM  

Meant HO-HUM!

Mary in Oregon 3:41 PM  

This puzzle was absolutely boring, as commentors have already stated 5 weeks ago! BUT, by reading all the comments by our erudite blog members, I learned how to increase the typeface size in this @#$$%^ new comments section to LARGE PRINT so I can read it! Thanks to all who revealed that Command/Control + works perfectly!

Dirigonzo 3:42 PM  

What @Ulrich said - exactly! (OK, I copied that from my comment on Sunday's puzzle but it applies again today - maybe I'm @Ulrich's twin in a parallel (syndicated) universe.)

Re the clue for 28a, Puff was a magic Dragon, not a magicAL one but I understand the constraints of the theme made him do it, so OK.
I feel like the plural of OPOSSUM should be OPOSSUMi, or some such latin thingy.

I need lots of crosses for 10d because I wasn't sure if "Mag." was an abbreviation for magic, Magic Johnson, or something else that I hadn't thought of; "magazine" was a long time coming to me.

I feel like @ED posts his comment and then sits by his monitor, refreshing the screen repeatedly, until someone replies so he can jump on them - that's spooky.

Apparently we have reached the time when email updates were eliminated for the prime-timers - I have been wondering how they reacted. They don't seem any happier about it than I am. BRING BACK EMAIL UPDATES! (Sorry, but I head to yell.)

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

hint: I didn't care much for the "theme."

hint: "note: would have been more appropriate than "hint."

hint: even so, who cares?

hint: but congratulations on your word arranging skills.

hint: mail is not delivered daily.

hint: "Post box filler" is a 13-letter phrase

hint: all of the words in this comment are in English.

hint: this is not a hint.

hint: I before posting my comment I searched this page for the word "hint", and there were exactly 13 occurrences.

hint: there are 13 more in this comment.

Red Valerian 5:27 PM  

@Anonymous 12:32: Thanks, but that'd be, um, dudette. And that's an interesting division of labour you've got going there ;-}

@Dirigonzo: HEAR, HEAR!

Anonymous 6:02 PM  

@ Dirigonzo 3:42 PM "Re the clue for 28a, Puff was a magic Dragon, not a magicAL one but I understand the constraints of the theme..."

Jackie's dragon
Dragon of Paper
Cream or powder
pipe's emission

Constraints? no.
Anyone can do it.
It's pretty easy.
If you can count.

Dirigonzo 6:30 PM  

@anony 6:02PM - I take your point, well done - but it's a Tuesday puzzle, after all. Your suggested clues are more late week, perhaps?

@RedV - I'm always thrilled when you respond to my comments, but why are you YELLING? Oh, wait - I get it - never mind.:) (And I hate smiley face emoticons.)

Sharon AK 7:42 PM  

Wow, nattering nabobs... is right.
I found the puzzle easy because I figured out the "hint" fairly early and got a lot of letters in to hlep with the rest. I did not, however, find it boringly easy and didn't "get" from anyone's comments why they did. I loved the clues being easy to read.
Wish I understood the complaints about the blog format. To me it looks the same as it has for months.
It was enlightening to read about the e-mail notices. I had occasionallty wondered how commenters kept a conversation ging over a few hours. ?Does seem a pity if that has been dropped.

Dirigonzo 8:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirigonzo 9:03 PM  

@Sharon - I think the complaints concerning the blog format are from those who do the puzzle on-line and use various "apps" to access the puzzle and the blog. We out here in syndiland are not bothered by such trivialities since we by definition solve on paper. Just another benefit of being a syndicated solver, from my point of view. As to the email updates, anyone with a google ID, even syndies like me, could check a box in the comments section and receive an email reporting every comment after our own - very handy for keeping up to date on subsequent comments and providing an easy way to reply, if you so desired (this is how prime-timers occasionally chimed in on the syndicated comments). Now that the feature is gone everyone has to revisit the blog to check for later comments, and who has time to do that (except me. of course)?

Spacecraft 12:43 AM  

"We have met the enemy and he is..." Mr. Hartman? Man, y'all sure are TESTY today. I think the biggest drawback this has is the choppiness of the grid: 4x4 and 4x5around the edge makes for tiresome patterns. But the fill is not that horrible (AOLER excepted), and to couch every clue into 13 letters seems pretty formidable to me. I found it easy, but I didn't HATE it. CIRC made me laugh; the only way I ever heard that prefix used as a whole word was when I worked in a newborn nursery. Give the guy a break; he tried.

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