The Lizard constellation / WED 5-16-12 / Violinmaker Amati / Modern home of ancient Elam / Home of MacDill Air Force Base / 1964 Hitchcock thriller / Former world heavyweight champion Johansson / Comment made while elbowing someone / Burgundy bud

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Constructor: Kevin Adamick

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: I don't know. Double something. — Two entries in each of the puzzles corners are repeated words.

Word of the Day: LACERTA (38A: The Lizard constellation) —
Lacerta is one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. Its name is Latin for lizard. A small, faint constellation, it was created in 1687 by the astronomerJohannes Hevelius. Its brightest stars form a "W" shape similar to that of Cassiopeia, and it is thus sometimes referred to as 'Little Cassiopeia'. It is located between Cygnus, Cassiopeia and Andromedaon the northern celestial sphere. The northern part lies on the Milky Way. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is not good. I don't even get the theme. Quadruple double? What's the point? And the fill!? LAR (61D: Actress ___ Park Lincoln)? HITCHY (9A: "___-Koo" (old ragtime standard))? RETAN? Crossing ATAN?  I just kept groaning and groaning—by the end, I was stuck in the NE and I almost didn't bother to push on. Honestly, I just stared at the grid. My solving time is atrocious for this reason. This puzzle ... it's just not acceptable work. I hate saying this, I honestly do, but this should've been rejected. How bad does the NYT need Wednesdays? I could go on and on, but the flaws are glaring and I'm just too tired. [A friend just pointed out that this puzzle is 70 words, i.e. *exceedingly* low for a Wednesday. That's a Fri/Sat word count. This *might* explain the atrocious fill (lower the word count, harder the grid is to fill well). Maybe if the grid were utterly rebuilt, this could've been passable. Still wouldn't have cared for the "theme," but at least it would've been inoffensive.]

ET ALIA does not mean [And so on]. No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't. I swear to you. Well, I guess you could lawyer it into submission, but ... no. ET ALIA means "and others." You're thinking of ET CETERA ("and the rest" / "and so forth"). I had ETCETC there at first. Godawful. OK, I'm stopping, because I have zero nice to say. Except there's a reason you never see LACERTA in the grid. OK, sorry, seriously, stopping.

Now you all can heap praise on this thing. Someone should. I can't.


Theme answers:
  • HINT HINT (had WINK WINK—certified superior answer)
  • SERA SERA (this is what's known as a "partial"; we don't make theme answers out of them)
  • AGAR AGAR (now *there's* a scintillating theme answer!)
  • 11D: Home of MacDill Air Force Base (TAMPA) — no idea. Part of the reason I just stared at the NE in exasperated silence for a while.
  • 25A: Like the area around an erupting volcano (ASHY) — mind's eye saw only lava, not ash.

  • 28A: Tennis whiz (ACER) — these aren't equivalent. I served aces in my time. I was never a "whiz." Plenty of "whizzes" don't ace much at all. To be honest, the clue isn't the problem here. It never is with ACER. All future ACERs should get PC-related clues.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS now seems as good a time as any to direct your attention to this exhaustive recent discussion about the problem (or non-problem) of "bad fill" (at Tyler Hinman's blog)—many constructors chime in, and almost none of them are crybabies.


foodie 12:16 AM  

The theme is Echo...

The puzzle started with two food related entries in 1A and 1D and I thought, hey, this is going to be great! But MATZOS and MAHI MAHI together, I'm not too sure...

That NE corner was definitely a mess. And I certainly agree with Rex about ET ALIA's meaning and the fact that ETC ETC would have been more accurate AND in keeping with the echoing theme.

I wanted MELANIN so badly, but it didn't fit where HENNA was..

But look, there's hardly any short, annoying 3 letter fill!

jackj 12:18 AM  

Maybe we can create our own repetitive phrases to describe the puzzle, like DULLDULL or BLAHBLAH.

This theme sure didn’t stir the juices of this solver.

But, the fill, now maybe, just maybe, that could be a whole other kettle of MAHIMAHI.

“Raiment” for example was a nice $5 word for a 20¢ answer, GARB.

HELENE was a welcome change from the ubiquitous ESTEE.

GAMIN, MEMORIALS, CLOISTER and ONLOANTO were nice entries but, then, things go south with the likes of the dreaded RE RE words, RETAN and RETOOLS and, for bad measure we’re further assaulted by NENE and ACER, ARC and ORA, LAR and LACERTA, ETALIA (which used to be ETC before today’s puzzle declared otherwise) .

Perhaps the worst of the bunch, though is the unfortunate bastardization of YADAYADAYADA by lopping off one of the obligatory YADA’s and turning it into a two-legged stool. For shame.

Time to bail out and hope for a better tomorrow.

Gill I. P. 12:23 AM  

Well call me a feckless neophyte because I thought this was as good as a Wed. gets. Why? because I always know I'm going to like a puzzle when 1A or 1D amuse me. I know by now there are a zillion rules and regulations that make or break a puzzle but my barometer (as simple as it may be) is some sort of fun and play for my mid-week puzzlefest.
I bet MAHIMAHI and MATZOS with a little ONLOANTO sauce and a few ESPIES on the side would put a GAMIN ABED without a HITCHY.
Go ahead and groan but this was fun.
Good job Kevin Adamick. I'll take more.

Jeff510 12:28 AM  

Picky picky

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

I had the most trouble in the NE portion of the middle of the grid. HELENE, INGEMAR, GAMIN, ACER, and TORERO all in that little space did not bode too well for me.

Evan 12:35 AM  

Hmm, Rex was much tougher on this than I thought he might be. I thought it was pretty fun and not terribly hard despite the fact that when I first opened the puzzle, I was surprised that I was staring at a Friday/Saturday-like grid on a Wednesday: 29 black squares, 70 words, stacked 8's crossing stacked 6's in each corner.

I had the a-ha moment almost instantly once I saw AMEN AMEN underneath MAHI MAHI. NENE was one of my next answers in the grid, and I was beginning to wonder if the entire set of across answers would be constituted by repeated words, which would have been extremely impressive if it could possibly have been pulled off. But that dream came crashing to the ground when I realized that "Honoring at a banquet, say" was just not going to be DING DING. I also fell into the ETC ETC and WINK WINK traps at first, and then found myself putting in NESSIE at 18-Across. Loch Nessie, ladies and gentlemen.

So that was all a fun challenge, but having said that, I can see some of the puzzle's weaknesses on further review. The INGEMAR/HELENE/GAMIN section is brutal, in addition to the LACERTA/NICOLO crossing. Rex complains about RETAN crossing AT AN, but I personally think ACER crossing RACER is worse. The answer at 39-Down could at least be parsed as something that had nothing to do with the word TAN, whereas the word ACER is completely contained in RACER -- no way around it.

There are 64 theme squares, which is a lot for any 15x15 puzzle, and AGAR AGAR is not that great of an answer. I guess that when you're going for 8-letter entries split by repeating 4-letter words, there are only so many options to pick from. PAGO PAGO, RING RING, and HUSH HUSH are other possibilities, and maybe the constructor tried them too.

In all, I thought the puzzle was entertaining and quite ambitious, if a bit flawed in the service of trying to maximize the theme's potential.

chefwen 12:36 AM  

O Ye'll tak' the high road and Ah'll tak' the low.
An' Ah'll be in Scotlan' afore ye
Fir me an' my true love will ne-er meet again On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomon'.

Felt a kinship to this one, two Hawaiian clues with MAHI MAHI and my beloved NENE.
A Scottish Loch that I spent 5 years of my childhood living near to, (although Loch Long was closer) and to boot, Kevin's last name is one letter off of mine and there are not many of us living in the U.S. of A.

After getting MAHI MAHI and SERA SERA right off the git go, the rest was pretty easy.

I liked it Kevin, thanks!

Capcha - Ichanco new barnd of Japanese beer.

foodie 1:17 AM  

Haha... Manischewitz has a recipe that uses MAHI MAHI and MATZOS! (still not too sure :)

@chefwen, the puzzle did make me think about Hawaii, not only because of the specific answers, but also because sounds in Hawaiian words are often repeated-- e.g. King Kamehameha. It gives a lovely melodious feel to the language (and makes me want to go back your way!)

When you stop and think about repetition of a sound or word, it's actually quite an arresting device. I remember the first time I heard of AGAR AGAR-- I wondered why did they feel compelled to double it? or BORA BORA? But these doubled up words are more memorable.

I always appreciate it when the theme makes me stop and think for a minute.

Anoa Bob 2:06 AM  

This puzzle has eight eight-letter theme entries. I think that's exceptional. Then to have four other eight-letter entries stacked abeam of the theme entries makes it even more impressive.

Are there some rough spots here and there, a RETAN crossing ATAN, a RACER crossing an ACER? Yep. But these are minuscule flaws in my book, given the innovative and challenging theme design with the low black square and word count.

To top it off, there are triple stacked sixes in each corner crossing the triple stacked eights, (Acme, may I borrow a few !!!!!!!'s here?) with the likes of GOTHAM, AREOLA and RASCAL in the SW. That's good stuff.

The more I look at this puzzle, the more I like it. Well done Mr. Adamick, well done indeed.

andrea carla carla michael michael 2:32 AM  

I think we should wish @rex night night and chalk it up to fatigue, bec this was quite fun, and I imagine impressive to a lot of folks!!!

(By the way @anoabob, exclamation points for everyone!)

Totally agree it should be ETCETC and ETALIA does not me AND SO ON unless you are specifically talking about people, and there was no indication of that... so that was bad cluing...

But doubling up on doubles is fun!!! Most folks (See David Steinberg's almost exact theme just run last Monday's LA Times) would just do them singly (tho he also had an impressive eight double word phrases, but it was a Monday!)

To double up on the doubles makes this totally fresh for I've never heard of AGARAGAR.

@Foodie, if you want something to think about, in this it's about how plurals in so many indigenous languages are just double words instead of our "add in S"...or German's adding an "en". That's something I could think about all night!

I tried to make one with triple word phrases, 60 theme squares, Monday. This one takes the doubles and doubles it! That, my friend, is double strength construction.

This is one where, for me, I totally can see the criticisms @Rex makes, but not the sentiment that accompanies them.

I thank you for Leonard Cohen...

Ahhh, I feel the Everly Brothers coming on:
Theeee-eeme a theme...
theme, theme theme
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
I mean, theme theme, theme,
Theeeeeme a theme...theme theme theme

jae 3:27 AM  

I'm in the "I liked it" contingent.   I mean put a clever Wed. theme in a Sat. grid and you've got something interesting.  

So, easy-medium  for me mostly because I had to stop and stare at the NE (HITCHY not KITCHY?)  Plus, like Rex ET ALIA,  I wanted ETCETC for 16a but ....  I also paused at TORERO, nice clue.  No erasures so a smooth mostly easy solve.

r.alphbunker 3:28 AM  

I am in the fun camp. I got tricked by the ETCETC which made the NE hard but that was part of the fun.

The following anecdote comes to mind.

During a lecture the Oxford linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin made the claim that although a double negative in English implies a positive meaning, there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative. To which Morgenbesser responded in a dismissive tone, "Yeah, yeah." Some have it quoted as "Yeah, right." [Wikipedia]

Given that, what is the status of the Beatles "yeah yeah yeah?"

Clark 4:04 AM  

I don't ever remember seeing the word GAMIN before. Didn't know INGEMAR or NICOLO or NENE or even TORERO (I could only think of Toreador). So I got DNFed there in the middle. I have to start paying attention to the words going on around me!

But changing ETC ETC to ET ALIA really got me grumbling. I am often one to lawyer a bad clue into submission, but not this time.

Tehran Calling 5:44 AM  

I thought this was easy until I got stuck in the NE, and entirely due to my resistance to putting in "ETALIA" when I KNEW it didn't mean "and so on." The NYT is better than this, I said to myself, and this kind of thing wouldn't pass Will Shortz.

The NE took me longer than the entire rest of the grid. And GOERS is horrible. Just horrible.

Bad Wednesday.

Glimmerglass 7:19 AM  

I agree that this puzzle has many flaws, I rate its quality about a C-. But the echo theme made it pretty easy. After you catch on, each crossing letter gives you the corresponding letter in the echo.

Geometricus 7:28 AM  

I'm with you, @Clark, I got Naticked in the middle with NICOLO, GAMIN, and LACERTA so DNF, or finished with a HTG. On the bright side I learned a few new words today. Now I'll go RUNRUN outside in the fresh AIRAIR.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:38 AM  

Utterly lacking the genes of a critic, I thought this puzzle was brilliant.

Of course, I have been around here long enough to anticipate that RETAN, LA CERTA, and a few others would attract negativity, but I thought the theme was worth a few too familiar or unfamiliar words.

In common with many, apparently, I did finish in the NE, having to write-over ETCETC, KITCHY, and a purely ignorant LOMAND.

Harvey Briggs 7:45 AM  

I'm with you, Rex. I couldn't get over the mis-defined "et alia". Also, I always thought yada yada was "Yadda Yadda Yadda" A quick trip to the Urban Dictionary confirms this.

Not a great puzzle for those reasons for me.

John V 7:53 AM  

I had fun with this one. As noted, pretty cool to pull off this sort of theme density with a whole pile of eights, four of them stacked. Who among us did not look at the grid and say, "Now WHERE is the theme???" So, the theme length comprised a touch of indirection, providing a bit of of meta-challenge, if that's the word.

Alas, 16a clue is indeed wrong; had me fussing in the NE like @Rex, too.

All in, a good one, Kevin. I liked the fresh theme idea. No BITCH BITCH from me; or is it BITCH, BITCH, BITCH? I can never keep that straight.

Any Rex-ites in BORA BORA this morning?

Campesite 7:54 AM  

The SE corner had quite the cinematic sub theme: AVATAR and Hitchcock's MARNIE crossing LIAR LIAR and que SERA SERA from Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. 
Here's a remix of Que Sera Sera by the French composer/producer Wax Tailor

Tita 7:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tita 8:00 AM  

Put me in same camp as Bob_Kerfuffle and Gill I.P.
Not the best, but repeating words always make things bouncy. Even those I never knew repeated in the wild, like AGARAGAR.

GAMIN surfaced from some recess of my French brain cells. TORERO- great clue. AMI, on the other hand, eluded me. Liked NENE as a word and as part of the theme.

And how can you totally pan a puzzle with Alfalfa and Spanky in it??

@chefwen...thx - new AVATAR is Marzipan, the more opinionated of our two tuxedo rescues.

orangeblossomspecial 8:04 AM  

Ingemar Johansson defeated Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title, and I believe he lost it in a rematch. The fight was used in the film "My Life as a Dog".

@chefwen has the poem. Here is a recording based on Loch LOMOND.

56A "The Heat ISON" from Beverly Hills Cop.

When I was a kid, we frequently said "LIARLIAR pants on fire". Here is a recording of the Castaways from the 60s.

joho 8:07 AM  

I saw the flaws when I did this late last night but still marveled at the construction. Creating the doubles in the corners is amazing work even though some of the fill is compromised because of it.

I, too, had never heard of AGARAGAR but what other answer could it be? The theme definitely helped with the solve. @andrea carla carla michael michael LOVED your "theme" song!

Thank you Kevin Adamick, impressive puzzle!

loren muse smith 8:13 AM  

I liked the change-up, having some theme answers as downs, but for me, too, the NE was brutal. The fact that I was able to finish means that the crosses were fair enough.

I swear I think ET ALIA was clued exactly the same recently. I remember then thinking, "Huh?" And since no one commented, I thought it must be a secondary meaning.

@Evan - I thought NENE was a secondary theme answer.

I had "roasting" before TOASTING.

Off to sweet-talk the chef into some eggs and bacon. I ate this morning, but only a banana. Now I'm going to eat eat.

Rob C 8:21 AM  

Didn't think this one was nearly as bad as Rex did. 8 theme answers at 8 words each for 64 themed squares - rather ambitious. Some of them were fun, others were so so. Some of the fill was not ideal, but that's what you get many times from a theme-rich puzzle. All in all it was ok.

Having said that, the clue for ET ALIA was bad, real bad. The kind of bad not expected in a NYT puzzle. But, it will happen, unless God or Rex edits the puzzle. And maybe not God.

Sue McC 8:25 AM  

Seeing MAHIMAHI on top of AMENAMEN caused me to emit an audible groan, and sent my enthusiasm for the puzzle to the basement. Yes, the echo answers help you with crosses, but.....boring! I whined about the short words yesterday, and so today is much better in that regard. But it was a snooze.

quilter1 8:33 AM  

Very easy, and I liked CLOISTER, INGEMAR, and NICOLO. But ACER, GOERS, RETAN--no thanks.

Z 8:33 AM  

I am in the defeated by INGEMAR/GAMIN/NENE/NICOLO/TORERO crossings camp. Once I resigned myself to ETALIA (ugh) the NE fell, but that clue slowed me like so many others.

Still, I liked it. First thing I did when I opened the paper (well, after finishing the article about The String Cheese Incident following in Tom Petty and Pearl Jam's footsteps of taking on their industry's moguls) was count the black squares. Happened to finish the NW and SE first and wondered if Mr. Adamick could pull off the doubles on the downs as well. I think the across doubles are stronger, but I am impressed.

The RACER/ACER and RETAN/AT AN do detract from the overall quality, but RETOOL is a perfectly legitimate, in the language word. RETOOLing is a common topic of discussion in my neighborhood.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

"Lar" Park Lincoln was born "Laurie". Do you suppose she picked her stage name as likely NYTimes crossword fill? At least the clue didn't allude to one of her significant achievements listed in Wikipedia - coached her daughter to the title of Miss Texas Jr Teen.

AnnieD 8:40 AM  

I thought this was fine for a Wed. My only complaint was the same as @harvey briggs re yada/yadda. I mean you don't spell it nocknock just to fit in 8 letters.

I loved the opportunity to recall the Little kids even get to watch them these days?

Don't drink the milk

But it wasn't as bad as RP suggested. He's getting cranky again....don't worry Rex, summer vacation is almost here!

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

I really enjoyed the puzzle especially the unusual words. I do the puzzles to exercise my brain and using old old Latin or French and the cognates does that. What Spanish I know bascically comes from the puzzles! And I would much rather have a poorly clued answer like ETALIA than a gimme.

ystieth lyardo. ??????

Jp 8:48 AM  

Rex I think you are way way too harsh on this puzzle. It almost sounds as if you had formed your opinion before you gave the puzzle a chance to sink in. Day in and day out there are examples of crosswordese, obscurities etc. that annoy me or I don't know.
What is wrong with this theme? It is actually cute and for the most part well executed.
As far as difficulty is concerned I rate the puzzle as a super easy simply because it was super easy for me. Did it in one seating and did meet a single lookup.

jberg 9:00 AM  

This puzzle would have been helped by a clever revealer; it would also have been better off without NENE and RARA, which cloud the theme's purity. I didn't mind it so much, though - NE tough for me too, until I got enough crosses to see HELENE.

Anybody else have Ashe before ACER?

What would have really improved would have been a central 14, clued:

"_______ _______ the walloping Swede,

They thought all he had was a left-hand lead,

But they knew better when the champ was floored,

With a fist in the head like a smorgasbord!"

I'm not sure I got that last line quite right from memory - I can't find either audio or lyrics on the web, only a discographical reference at

ArtO 9:05 AM  

Yeah, the NE was truly lousy for all the criticism noted but I enjoyed the ECHO theme as well defined by @foodie.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Gee, the theme of the puzzle is quite harmless (there have been a lot worse), so why complain? At least probably the vast majority of us learned something from it (the Malaysian word agar-agar) so the puzzle was "educational."

But boo-hiss to Shortz. He must have been on drugs when he let the incorrect clue for et alia get published. For shame, Mr. Shortz.

chefbea 9:26 AM  

I really liked the puzzle and if I had gone to Yale I would be yelling
Boola Boola.

Hand up for trouble in the NE. I remember Hoochy Koochy. Never heard of hitchy.

what is onel for 23 across?

archaeoprof 9:30 AM  

In @Rex's recent CBS appearance, Will Shortz says that he "has mixed feelings about" this blog.

Today's entry will fully explain why.

Nice puzzle, Kevin!

baja 9:35 AM  

Quite liked this one. There were problems - upper right was a bit of a mess but the overall feel was happy and bouncy. Very Tiggerish!

Josh C. 9:40 AM  

First-time commenter, but longtime shy lurker here. I just started puzzling a couple months ago. My times are slightly above the average, but no DNFs yet. I get them all done by hook or by crook. This puzzle was actually my best Wed. time yet (9:32...not terribly impressive, but I average around 15 or so.)

The only two truly terrible clues were at GOERS and ETALIA.

Was expecting KITCHY at 9A for some reason. At first I had BOER at 19A, then realized that they're not the *natives* of that particular region. Then tried to fit in something about the city in Brazil. Got ZULU from crosses.

GAMIN was a gimme from having read Les Miserables. Expected something relating to the mafia at 30A -- hope I wasn't the only one. Ended up getting MAT at 5D from crosses, then had a big "duh!" moment. I was expecting a Japanese term, and knew TATAMI wouldn't fit. Actually, 5-9D was the only region I got truly bogged down in. All else went quickly and painlessly. Fun, very easy (for me) Wednesday.

Catherine 9:48 AM  

I think that all the proper names, especially the INGEMAR, NICOLO, and HELENE bunching together were pretty harsh. The first "echo" I got was LIARLIAR and then SERASERA and I was impressed by that stack. AGARAGAR and BORABORA less so. HINTHINT really wanted to be WINKWINK.

I think that what we have here is a sort of cool, impressive concept on the corners, and everything else in the whole grid sacrificed to make it possible.

wordie 9:59 AM  

@chefb, law students are one Ls the first year, two Ls the second and 3 Ls the third. Sometimes reversed: L ones, etc. etc. (or et alia?).

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

So if you've never heard of INGEMAR Johansson (and it's not a very intuitive name), this puzzle is impossible. What the hell are NENE, GAMIN, and TORERO? I've literally never heard of any of those!

Jacqueline228 10:00 AM  

After filling part of this BAD puzzle, I thought: can't wait Rex's comments...

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

In our church, one Amen at a time is the normal way to say it.

The city was referred to as Gotham, the cave was the 'Batcave'.

Facts, Schmacts 10:23 AM  

RETANning is in fact a thing, it's the final stage of processing the leather for its intended use, i.e. turning it into suede, splitting, etc (or should I say etalia?). It is not tanning a second time.

evil doug 10:32 AM  

George: Listen to this. Marcy comes up and she tells me her ex-boyfriend was over late last night, and "yada yada yada, I'm really tired today." You don't think she yada yada'd sex?

Elaine: (Raising hand) I've yada yada'd sex.

George: Really?

Elaine: Yeah. I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.

Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part.

Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisque....

joho 10:34 AM  

Hey @Josh C, welcome and keep on commenting!

@archeoprof, HEAR HEAR!

mac 10:44 AM  

I enjoyed solving this, but the flaws mentioned were pretty serious.

Everything went smoothly until the NE, where et alia, hitchy, Tampa and hint hint (I had wink-wink as well). Only other write-over was toasting for roasting.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Hallelujah for the Leonard Cohen song- AMEN AMEN !!h

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

I was amused enough by the doubles to give the rest of the grid a pass. Naticked two days in a row!
Never heard of gamin or Ingemar.
Was Hitchy-Koo the theme song of Jimmy Durante?

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I'm feeling cranky today, which might explain why I totally agree with Rex. The cluing for ET ALIA is simply inexcusable. It's not bad. It's just plain wrong. It's embarrassingly wrong. It is so wrong that Will Shortz should issue an apology and publish an erratum. This is Mr. Adamick’s debut. I think the idea is clever but, unlike Acme, for me it was not fun. It even has LIAR LIAR and I cannot stand Jim Carey’s goofy slapstick humor. More punishment... Barf....


retired_chemist 10:46 AM  

Add me to the roster of ETC ETC users who were justifiably riles by AT ALIA as an answer to that clue. Simply incorrect.

AMEN AMEN was an afterthought. AMEN, LORD was my starter, soon changed after I saw the theme.

It's KITCHY KOO in my book but, sadly, HITCHY KOO is correct.

22A was CLUB, then TUNA, but finally corrected. PITA is an acronym for what some of you seem to have thought of this puzzle.

GOERS? "Is your wife a goer?" is a quote from the Monty Python Nudge Nudge Wink Wink sketch, which seems to go with the theme. Other than that instance I have never seen GOER. Perhaps it is British slang. This clip was uploaded apparently by a Portuguese speaker but it is in the original English.

Medium difficulty here. The theme was a solving aid, unusual for me.
Both NENE and RARA are microtheme answers.

the redanman 10:46 AM  

The upper middle did it for me ICK ICK PEU PEU FOO FOO

agree ET ALIA reall rasped but since I had lived in Tampa I got the NE. TORERO was my Achilles (Tendon of the Triceps Surae

whatever, not the best of a not so stellar a start to a week

chefbea 10:46 AM  


dk 10:49 AM  

Hey Andrea,

Every night I hope and pray
A dream lover will come my way
A girl to hold in my arms
And know the magic of her charms
'Cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)
A girl (yeah-yeah, yeah)
To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)
My own (yeah-yeah)
I want a dream lover
So I don't have to dream alone

Dream lover, where are you
With a love, oh, so true
And the hand that I can hold
To feel you near as I grow old
'Cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)
A girl (yeah-yeah, yeah)
To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)
My own (yeah-yeah, yeah)
I want a dream lover
So I don't have to dream alone

Someday, I don't know how
I hope she'll hear my plea
Some way, I don't know how
She'll bring her love to me
Dream lover, until then
I'll go to sleep and dream again
That's the only thing to do
Till all my lover's dreams come true
'Cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)
A girl (yeah-yeah, yeah)
To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)
My own (yeah-yeah, yeah)
I want a dream lover
So I don't have to dream alone

Dream lover, until then
I'll go to sleep and dream again
That's the only thing to do
Till all my lover's dreams come true
'Cause I want (yeah-yeah, yeah)
A girl (yeah-yeah, yeah)
To call (yeah-yeah, yeah)
My own (yeah-yeah)
I want a dream lover
So I don't have to dream alone
Please don't make me dream alone
I beg you don't make me dream alone
No, I don't wanna dream….. alone.

💡💡 (2 light bulbs) Bright idea!

Mel Ott 11:00 AM  

The puzzle's defects are well-documented by @Rex et al (and so on??).

But I liked it. The double doubles were fun.

Tita 11:23 AM  

@retired_chemist - that Monty Python bit - perfect go-with for today's puzzle!! Thank you, thank you.

BigSteve46 11:36 AM  

RE: 31 Across -

We grew up with a lot of Italian pop music in the house. Renato Carosone was very popular in Italy in 60's and this was one of blockbuster numbers. "Torero" is actually the preferred word for a bullfighter; it is the term "toreador" that is usually despised by the aficionados.

I liked the puzzle. Messing with Rex's "times" always gets his knickers in a knot. What's his rush - he a college professor, and at a State College, to boot? God knows, he's got time.

Sparky 11:37 AM  

Hand up for KITCHY. Etcetc for 16A. ETALIA wrong. @Rex said it all. @JFC too. If that makes me cranky so be it. David Bowie is always interesting. Ta, Ta.

Two Ponies 11:41 AM  

My mistake, the Jimmy Durante song is Inka Dinka Doo. Someone else wrote the lyrics but he wrote the music.

hazel 11:50 AM  

I thought it was going to be ISAYAMEN because thet just felt right for a fire and brimstone kind of sermon. Not sure if i've ever heard AMENAMEN - tho i'm not much of a churchgoer. Pretty much restricted to rites of passage.

Kind of liked the quirky theme, and was able to forgive the junky stuff (except the inexcusable ETALIA.)

@ed - good one.

evil doug 11:55 AM  

Don't know about ragtime standard 'Hitchy-coo'. Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Small Faces, offer a somewhat different interpretation:

Over bridge of sighs
To rest my eyes in shades of green.
Under dreamin' spires,
To Itchycoo Park, that's where I've been...

I feel inclined to blow my mind,
Get hung up, feed the ducks with a bun.
They all come out to groove about
Be nice and have fun in the sun.

Tell you what I'll do (what will you do?)
I'd like to go there now with you
You can miss out school (won't that be cool?)
Why go to learn the words of fools?

What did you do there?
I got high
What did you feel there?
Well I cried
But why the tears there?
I'll tell you why
It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful

BlueStater 12:13 PM  

What Rex said.

Two Ponies 12:14 PM  

@ evil doug, Thanks for the lyrics.
That song came to my mind immediately when I wrote that answer. Somehow it started my other musical tngent.

Alia Cloister Mahi Mahi 12:19 PM  

The point is, even in the negative comments, it inspires the solvers additional ideas:
HUSH HUSH (Sweet Charlotte)
et alia*

So that alone raises it a notch...
Again, Lots of problems, but if it inspires folks or they like it more and more as the day goes on, you can't completely KNOCK KNOCK it!

Had to look it up, but GOER is indeed good in Scrabble...
(as is GORE, which is good for a TORERO to know, as well as AL (et al?))

Um, thanks, @dk...are you back to publicly pitching woo? ;)

*I'm waiting for @martin or even @Will to chime in on what happened with ETALIA but he's in Beijing at the Forbidden City today!!!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

I echo the CHOPCHOP exhortation for an explanation on the ETALIA business.

mac 12:46 PM  

After all the new examples of "echo" expressions, I'm getting a new respect for the puzzle. They are all 4 x 4 letters.

DigitalDan 1:01 PM  

If you're the fifth, fourth, or even second author of an important paper, you should expect to be among the "and others" in citations, more's the pity, but you would certainly not be happy lumped into the "and so on." Just sayin'.

loren muse smith 1:04 PM  

@Acme - I agree. When a theme makes you want to come up with your own entries, that's fun and a success in a way.


TimJim 1:11 PM  

I really liked the double-doubles, once I figured out the positioning. Hand up for ETCETC, which snagged me in the NE, so I went to the bottom and pretty quickly figured out the vertical doubles. Clever concept that narrowly outweighed the subpar fill (GAMIN/INGEMAR) and wrong clue for ETALIA. But HEAR HEAR for something different.

KarenSampsonHudson 1:13 PM  

In nearly equal parts, frustrating and easy. I'm with you on
ETALIA, Rex. The double doubles helped considerably and I had a better time than usual for a Weds.

SnarkV 1:14 PM  

Hello. I was just looking for my lost DIK-DIK? Anyone seen one around here? No? Sorry. Just looking.

Bird 1:48 PM  

No time to read all the comments so I'll post now and return later . . .

I’m with @Rex on this one with one exception – the middle did me in and I DNF. Never seen the word raiment before so I needed to look it up (I did not count this towards DNF). But INGEMAR (who?) crossing GAMIN (usage?) and TORERO (tough clue as charges could have referred to almost anything). Too bad because I was enjoying this one.

Maybe ACER crossing RACER and RETAN crossing ATAN constitute a variation of the theme?
Nope. But RARA and NENE do.

Nice article about the “War on Fill”, thanks for the link Rex. I agree that fill quality seems to be heading down as evidenced by your critiques and comments on your blog. I remember puzzles for their theme (good and bad) and don’t mind a couple of poor fill answers (RRN, RCD, useless abbr., YADAYADA) if the theme is fresh. It’s the obscure stuff without helpful crosses that ruins it for me.

Happy Humpday!

Z 2:02 PM  

From the Wikipedia list of Latin Phrases beginning with E, the entry on et alii, "Used similarly to et cetera ("and the rest"), to stand for a list of names. Alii is actually masculine, so it can be used for men, or groups of men and women; the feminine, et aliae (or et aliæ), is appropriate when the "others" are all female. Et alia is neuter plural and thus properly used only for inanimate, genderless objects, but some use it as a gender-neutral alternative.[2] APA style uses et al. if the work cited was written by more than six authors; MLA style uses et al. for more than three authors."

The next entry on the list is for et cetera, "In modern usage, used to mean "and so on" or 'and more'."

The preceding entry is for et alibi, "A less common variant on et cetera used at the end of a list of locations to denote unlisted places."

Interesting to run into a reference to APA and MLA style. Nothing about ALA or FLA, though.

LMM 2:18 PM  

no one is commenting on the rest of doubles?
thought it was good after I got the theme

Mighty Nisden 2:36 PM  

The only reason I could finish the NE is because of the theme. However, the impossible (for me) middle with people I haven't heard of killed me. Guessed right on INGEMAR but spelled it wrong as usual.

Overall liked it, but too many names in the middle. Get a tennis ACE, but not an acer. ew.

The Gingerbread Man 2:39 PM  

@mac - Will you be bringing taaitaai to the party?

evil doug 2:44 PM  

The synonym for agar-agar? 'Agar'. But I prefer to use 'agar-agar' to keep it from being confused with lesser agars.

And it's a wonder product!

"Agar (agar-agar) can be used as a laxative, a vegetarian gelatin substitute, a thickener for soups, in fruit preserves, ice cream, and other desserts, as a clarifying agent in brewing, and for sizing paper and fabrics."

Dine on thickened soup, some non-cow-hoof Jello, preserves on whole-grain toast, ice cream for dessert, and a couple Pabst tall ones, and you won't be needing any Exlax-Exlax.


retired_chemist 2:54 PM  

@ LMM - several commented on NENE and RARA, and BORA BORA was part of the theme.

@ Tita - there were several selectiond for the Nudge Nudge Wink Wink video clip. Guess who the choice of the Portuguese intro was a shout-out to?

FWIW I had an error an earlier captcha and Blogger took it anyway. Happy batioo warmfor to everybody.

Danny 3:00 PM  

Did anyone recall the film "All About Steve" when writing in BORABORA?

Or was I the only one?

Not my favorite film ever, but some good crossword talk in the film. I find myself relating to Sandra Bullock's character all the time...

JenCT 3:03 PM  

While solving, I thought "Rex is NOT going to like this..."

I also thought the spelling should be yadda yadda.

Same feelings as yesterday (was it just yesterday?): cute theme, poor fill.

Emily Post Institute 3:16 PM  

Running RP's commentary through our rudeness filter produced this:

A very subtle theme today, too subtle for my tastes. Was stuck in the NE for quite a while by the tricky cluing of ETALIA.

I suspect that many other people also wrote in ETCETC influenced by the doubles elsewhere in the grid.

However, in retrospect I can appreciate that the vagueness of the clue was designed to trick solvers into
thinking that ETCETC must be correct. We should expect a little trickiness in a Wednesday puzzle.

I will grant that the theme was unusual and I fully expect that many people will enjoy the puzzle because of
it and not be overshadowed by the fill that bothered me.

Theme answers:

HINT HINT (had WINK WINK which also works quite well)
SERA SERA (it is unusual for a partial to contribute to the theme)
AGAR AGAR (least favorite theme entry)

11D: Home of MacDill Air Force Base (TAMPA) — no idea. Part of the reason I just stared at the NE for a while.
25A: Like the area around an erupting volcano (ASHY) — mind's eye saw only lava, not ash.
28A: Tennis whiz (ACER) — Cite professional annoyance on this clue. The term ACER has not been used within my earshot on the tennis court.

mac 3:17 PM  

@The Gingerbread Man: I will, but only if the party is in Nov./Dec., it's not available the rest of the year!
Good stuff, though, very chewy.

efrex 3:33 PM  

I'm kinder on the theme than Rex, but the whole middle/NE mashup of obscurity (HITCHY/ INGEMAR, NENE, TORERO) did me in. Definitely could've benefitted from a higher word count in the grid, methinks...

Like Rex, HINTHINT made me think of the Monty Python routine ("say no more, say no more"), so that was a day-brightener. Okay, on to Thursday

afrogran 3:44 PM  

Must be an age thing, but I had virtually no problems with today's puzzle. HELENE Curtis and INGEMAR Johansson - Oh yes, I remember them well. In fact, I was racing through from bottom to the top, until I came to a sudden halt in NE corner. I have never heard of Hitchy Koo, and totally messed up by writing UNA - one in la famiglia. I never cottoned on to TIA, so couldn't completely finish this quadrant. I knew YADAYADA but thought it was misspelled, and ETALIA is plain wrong.
I know about Zulus, coming from S.A, and love to see bits of arcane African factoids popping up in the cluing.
The bloggers are alwasy so entertaining. I can't miss the comments, even for one day. But Rex needs to chill!

sanfranman59 3:50 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)

Wed 11:09, 11:50, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:14, 5:53, 1.06, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Lewis 4:40 PM  

Which came first, Rex disliking the puzzle or Rex getting a bad time on it?

The puzzle played easy for a Wednesday for me, who knew AGARAGAR, HELENE, and INGEMAR. Just in my wheelhouse. I liked the theme better than the fill.

r.alphbunker 4:47 PM  


I have followed the reference to your method and found that it was actually described in your 7/30/2009 post.

I have created the following tiny url: (Your post occurred at at 5:55 pm)

Here is my attempt to flesh out your method.

1. Compute a day's median solve time, call it M. (The median is the time in the middle if all times were arranged from fastest to slowest)

2. Compute the average time for a day, call it A. (The average is the sum of all times divided by the number of solvers)

3. Compute M/A. Call it P.

4. See where P falls in the historical data that has been collected which contains P values for previous puzzles on that day.

5. The historical P values have been sorted into ascending order and divided into 5 equal sized sections.

6. I then find which section of the historical data the current P value is in.
a. If it is in the first section (0-20th percentile) the puzzle is rated Easy
b. If it is in the second section (21-40) it is rated Easy-Medium
c. If it is in the third section (41-60) it is rated Medium
d. If it is in the fourth sectioni (61-80) it is rated Medium-Challenging
e. If it is in the fifth quadrant (81-100) it is rated Challenging.

So in summary, the larger the average is relative to the median, the easier the puzzle.

If all this is correct, can you explain the intuition behind this?

Noam D. Elkies 4:51 PM  

Fun puzzle, technical flaws notwithstanding (let alone non-flaws such as 66A:SERÁ_SERÁ being a partial — who really cares? The "rule" against 6+(?) letter partials should be chained to the "rule" against split infinitives and thrown to the sea so as to eternally ***** **** the fishes). A technical note: probably easier to achieve a low word- and block-count with this theme than with more typical Wednesday fare because if the first halves of two theme entries stack well then the second halves likely do too.

Martin 5:00 PM  

The ET ALIA clue trades something for cuteness, but is it correctness? (If you hadn't noticed, the clue is reused at 14-Down.)

To be wrong, or Will Shortz on drugs wrong and so bad that only Rex and maybe God can correct it wrong, means that "and so on" could never sensibly apply to people. acme, if it can apply to people if signaled ("there was no indication of that"), it can apply to people. A signal would have made it a more obvious clue but not a less incorrect one.

Wednesday is hump day. It's the day that a clue can start having a very narrow domain of correctness. Before Wednesday, a clue and entry should match most of the time. After Wednesday, a "good" clue might make sense in only the narrowest of contexts. There is no doubt that this clue traded cuteness for broad applicability. But if "for hours the bill was denounced by Senators Foghorn, Loudmouth, Bloviate and so on" is English, the clue is correct. (As always, that doesn't mean it's good and it doesn't mean you can't hate it.)

"Now little nits have lesser nits upon their backs to bite 'em,
And lesser nits have lesser nits and so on infinitum."

Noam D. Elkies 5:01 PM  

That said, I'm pretty sure I've seen a similar theme before (not in the NYTimes, going by xwordinfo), and I was hoping to see SHOWSHOW in the grid — that is, "shows how", a famous example of an accidental duplication, which appeared in the earlier puzzle, as well as "names names" which is not entirely accidental but still more noteworthy than say "hubba hubba".

Arby 5:58 PM  

Started off on a very wrong foot with a much more correct answer for 1A: KALUAPIG. Mahi mahi is not necessarily Hawaiian. It's just the Hawaiian name for a fish served just about everywhere. That left me a misspelled KEUGEL for my Seder (never been to one, but sounds plausible?).

Wanted HERO for kind of a sandwich, since I was eating one while solving. Had ETCETERA instead of YADAYADA before I caught the theme. Never heard of GAMIN, MacDill, INGEMAR, LACERTA, or TORERO (I've heard of "Toreador", though). Hated GOERS, ONEL, and RETAN. Wanted a "Community" (or even a "Cougar Town") clue for ABED.

I didn't like this puzzle, but now I don't know if I hated it less before I read Rex's opinion of it.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Martin says: "But if "for hours the bill was denounced by Senators Foghorn, Loudmouth, Bloviate and so on" is English, the clue is correct. :"

No. No. No.

Nice try Martin for defending a puzzle you might have previewed. but "and so on" in English is not et alia.

No. No. No.

Latin does not change, whether it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. (and so forth).

Please do not come here and put lipstick on the pig. It's still a pig. It is worse than that. It is wrong, as in wrong, wrong....


PS. I am still cranky.

Anonymous 7:25 PM  

"for hours the bill was denounced by Senators Foghorn, Loudmouth, Bloviate and so on" isn't English --
"for hours the bill was denounced by Senators Foghorn, Loudmouth, Bloviate and others" is.

Rudy 7:29 PM  

Double doubles across the grid vertically and horizontally. What's not to like? Then there's LACERTA -- is that a Spanish version of that famous mattress or is that two,two mints in one CERT ensconced or really the Lizard constellation?

Martin 7:38 PM  

Latin does not change, whether it's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. (and so forth).
If the clue were "Latin for 'and so on,'" this would be more compelling.

Please do not come here and put lipstick on the pig.
Is there a set of acceptable comment categories, or is this a one-off for me?

Rob C 8:47 PM  


Thanks for the explanation. Can't say I'm completely buying that misdirection or cuteness is justifiable cause to stretch the meaning (or the application of the word) to that extent. But, it's interesting to know the thought process behind it.

BTW - Just kidding about the God thing. I think Latin is God's first language anyway, or maybe that's just in the Bible, or movies, or maybe I'm thinking about the Pope. I'm way too tired.

sanfranman59 10:40 PM  

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 6:49, 6:50, 1.00, 54%, Medium
Tue 9:00, 8:52, 1.01, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:09, 11:50, 0.94, 39%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02, 4:35, 1.10, 80%, Challenging
Wed 6:04, 5:53, 1.03, 63%, Medium-Challenging

@r.alphbunker ... What I'm doing is comparing the median solve times for today's puzzle (one measure of how difficult solvers found today's puzzle) and comparing it to the average (mean) median solve time for all puzzles in my spreadsheet for the day of the week (this represents an average difficulty for a given day of the week). That gives me a ratio. Ratios above 1 indicate that today's median solve times were higher than the average for the day of the week; those below 1 indicate that they were lower than the average. I standardize the ratio by calculating it's percentile value among all ratios in my spreadsheet for that day of the week. Puzzles with ratios that fall in the lowest quintile (percentiles 0 - 20) are called Easy, those with percentiles between 20 and 40 are called Easy-Medium, etc.

So today, the median solve time in the All Solvers group is 11:09 because there were 636 online solvers who submitted times and the 318th ranked time was 11:09. Of 149 Wednesday puzzles in my spreadsheet, the average (mean) median solve time for the All Solvers group is 11:50. So today's puzzle was solved 41 seconds faster than the typical Wednesday puzzle by this group. The ratio is 11:09 / 11:50 = 0.94. I take this to be a measure of how difficult this puzzle was compared to other Wednesday puzzles. The percentile is where this puzzle ranks among all Wednesday puzzles by this measure of difficulty. Since only 39% of Wednesday puzzles have a lower ratio, it's rated as Easy-Medium (although it's at the very upper end of the Easy-Medium range of 20-40%).

Most of the time, the ratings calculated for the two groups of solvers are about the same. But for some reason, today's puzzle was relatively more difficult for the Top 100 solvers than it was for the All Solvers group.

I hope that helps.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Martin - Yesterday Rex was more original and labeled the whole puzzle lipstick on a possum. I just labeled your spin on the clue. As I have suggested before you have a conflict of interest when expressing views that you have previously passed on and are therefore defending what you have already approved. You cannot have an open mind under those circumstances. As for your defense, if X = Y then Y = X. If "and so on" means "et alia" then "et alia" means "and so on." As Rex so succinctly stated: "ET ALIA does not mean [And so on]. No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't. I swear to you." The only point Rex made I quibble with is that no lawyer worth his salt would ever attempt to argue otherwise.

Finally, allow me that et alia is so firmly established as "and others" that any other attempted meaning is from another planet....


Anonymous 12:16 AM  

Really enjoyed solving this one! Only quibble: et alia. That one was just wrong.

Kevin A 1:08 AM  

FOR THE RECORD: This puzzle was submitted over one year ago and then most of it was changed by the NYT. I was never informed of the changes. I first viewed the final draft of this puzzle last night.
The parts that were changed include the entire northeast section and most of the middle fill. Specifically the following entries were added: INGEMAR, NENE, GAMIN, RACER, ACER, ATAN, RETAN, and RETOOLS.
80% of the clues were written by the NYT. This includes the clues for ETALIA, LAR, and ACER.
The NYT attempted to save 40% of this puzzle and simply change the rest. By using the same eight theme entries, I was able to create a new puzzle with 27 blocks (instead of 29) that contained smooth fill throughout. I did this last night in thirty minutes. I wish I had been given an opportunity to resubmit this puzzle after two of the theme answers were changed. Whoever remade this puzzle felt the need to keep 7 or 8 non-theme entries and then ran into a stop sign.
For those of you who wrote positive comments: Thank you!
The rest of you are in luck. After Will Shortz reads this post, I doubt I will ever have another puzzle accepted by the NYT.

Kevin Adamick

acme 3:21 AM  

If it's any consolation, I know for a fact that @Will never ever holds a grudge...It's one of the most admirable things about him!
(And believe me, we have gone to the mat many many times, which I so respect him as an editor and friend.)

He takes a good puzzle no matter by whom or what you may have said publicly or privately.

What you went thru would have made me suicidal.
I don't know what his rule is about letting you rewrite it yourself.
I know some of the time I'm given the opportunity, some of the time it's just rejected, and every once in a while, someone else tinkers with it, sometimes improving, sometimes making me cringe.

I have totally experienced what you are going thru. One of my scripts for "Designing Women" was left with my title and little else, but my name still on it (and I still get residuals 20 years later) and it was enough for me to leave Hollywood over.
Nothing worse as a writer to have your work totally altered.
But where did that get me? Now the only place I have a chance to write is on a blog...for free! ;)

In this case, your puzzle and the ETALIA controversy + less than standard fill and then to have it lead to all the things people criticized must be maddening!
( Tho to be fair, we don't know folks might not have criticized what you submitted even more so, it's hard to know. Or it might never have appeared at all.)

Don't forget, as someone pointed out, in the long run, people remember the cleverness of the theme, not the one or two words that were less than ideal!

Anyway, good for you for speaking up. Know that it's happened to all of us.
Doesn't excuse it, but don't think you can't speak up and have to fear you'll not be published by Will again (I mean, look what he's been thru with @Rex and he still gets published!)

In time it will make a good story...
Just keep writing them. It was a wonderful idea, you got an unnamed/ unwelcome, collaborator this time around, unfortunate...but that won't necessarily be the case in the future.

When I worked with Peter Gordon originally, he actually changed a theme answer to a sports guy I'd never even heard of!!!! I was furious, till I realized the puzzle was about 83% improved over all!

I'm not saying to just sit back and collect the residuals, but use it as a lesson to make sure your puzzles are so good and tight that they have no reason to mess with it at all.
But I am sorry you had this experience, esp if it's your debut.

It really sucks to take the knocks for other people's monkeying with your work. On the positive side, know that what people liked was your IDEA which to me trumps all.
Hold your head high and say, "Next!"
(and then bitch like crazy to friends in private!) ;)

JenCT 7:48 AM  

@Kevin A: Thanks for stopping by & for the explanation. As I mentioned, I thought the puzzle had a cute theme but poor fill. Now I see that the poor fill wasn't even yours! Sorry that your puzzle was altered so significantly; that must be discouraging.

@acme: Thanks too for your post - it gives the rest of us some behind-the-scenes idea of how puzzle publishing works.

Tita 10:07 AM  

@Kevin...indeed, thanks for the insight. And @acme, thanks to you too.

It is discussions like these on a forum such as this one that converted me from an occasional solver to one who pays the NYT (and others) for crossword subscriptions to feed my now daily habit.

acme 7:46 PM  

Funny, in yesterday's Blondie strip, Dagwood is at the diner.

Dagwood: What's the special today?Cook: I'll give you a quick hint... GOBBLE, GOBBLE GOBBLE

Dagwood: Great! A turkey sandwich!!

Cook: Nope! A grilled cheese sandwich

Dagwood: Then what was that stupid Gobble-Gobble stuff all about?!

Cook: I didn't say it was an obvious hint!

Edward S Edwards 1:37 PM  

@ rex Tsk tsk; temper temper.

Kevin's comment requires a response from Will.

Btw, I love the theme.

Solving in Seattle 1:32 PM  

Wow! I think I just read 107 comments (108 including Rex) about the (mis)definiiton of ETALIA.

Then Martin (can someone help me with who he is?) shows up and defends the clue, and he and JFC get into a shooting war.

Then, finally, the constructor, Kevin Adamick, arrives and spills the beans on the NYC. Then @Acme comes to his rescue with great insight and encouragement...

Whew Whew!

I don't watch soaps, but this has to be better than any soap.

Kevin, I liked your puzzle, or at least the part they left intact. I hope the clue for TORERO was yours.

@Emily Post Institute, you get the @SiS lol award of the day. Love the satire.

Capcha: howndot. A hillbilly's canine after a little moonshine.

tim 1:39 PM  

Maybe a better clue for 16A?? "Author, author..."

Spacecraft 1:42 PM  

Wow, lots to say today! When I first saw the grid I said to my wife "What day is this?" -- Wedensday.-- "Are you sure?" -- Well, you have the paper, look at the top of the page. By golly, she was right. Then as I got into it I realized why a weekendish grid was in the paper on Wedensday. This was easy!

Until I got to the NE, and filled in 9 and 10d, which gave me ET to start 16a. What a setup THAT was!! OK, Kevin, ya got me good with that one--priming the repeater pump and everything. It was soon enough fixed, though.

Strangely, my biggest objection to the fill is nothing @Rex mentioned. It's INSULATOR. Sorry, dude, asbestos and all that other good stuff is insulatION, period. That's what it is, and you can't change it just to fill your puzzle. But overall I liked it; I don't think it's nearly as "bad" as OFL does.

Waxy in Montreal 2:34 PM  

My, my! Don't think I've ever seen a constructor more candid about what happened to his/her submission than Kevin A. However, I actually enjoyed INGEMAR, NENE & GAMIN so not all of Will Shortz's changes were necessarily on the dark side. Overall, IMHO this breezy puzzle was ideal for a Wednesday. (Okay - except for Will's maybe atrocious clue for ET ALIA.) Bye, bye...

Dirigonzo 3:07 PM  

"And so on" had me thinking I could be dealing with a rare Wednesday rebus, so I passed it by and continued through the grid. Finally saw the theme in the SE corner so I worked my way back up the grid (the theme was very helpful) and all the troublesome areas just resolved themselves - except box 38. I didn't know the violin maker or the constellation, so I just left it blank.

It's the day of the Summer Solstice here in the northern hemisphere, so happy first day of summer to all! Now I'm off to the pool deck to RETAN my back.

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

Hated it.
- Sirhan Sirhan

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I liked the theme but was defeated by the NE corner. Bad luck, Kevin. I hope you get another chance.

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